Monday, April 9, 2012

Static and Noise: All Clear!

Pennies from Hell: Canada recently banned pennies—or, more accurately, they are slowly phasing them out as a form of currency. Unlike some of my blogging compatriots, I don’t agree with this decision; people who complain about pennies are mostly people with a solution looking for a problem. Yeah, I know, it costs more than a penny to make a penny (specifically due to the increased cost of metals, not the actual manufacture) and due to inflation and other factors pennies don’t seem to make much sense (or cents—ha!). Still, the alternatives, which basically amount to rounding to the nearest 5-cent increment—seems like a bad idea to me. Pennies last forever and while they clog up purse bottoms and ashtrays they’re really not that big of a deal in the long run. Besides, after the invention of CoinStar I sort of assumed that the Grand Problem of Loose Change was more or less solved.

Into the Pitt: Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of 1) using creative ways of getting out of fairly important responsibilities, and 2) the harmless but impressive prank. Sadly, some folks at the University of Pittsburgh can’t quite comprehend that rather blatant line between having a solid goof and pissing off an entire organization that has plenty of money, security, and kids with free time. Over the past few weeks, bomb threats have repeatedly been called in on various buildings. When I say “the past few weeks” I mean “every weekday and for multiple buildings throughout the day.” Due to the nature of the threat, of course, they have to evacuate the building each time, as students pour out of classrooms and lessons get interrupted and police resources are redirected. It’s a huge pain in the ass, and there’s a huge reward (read: about 10% of one year’s tuition, or 50 grand) for turning in the culprits. Ah, how many deans out there are longing for the days of flagpole sitting and panty raids?

Trayvon: As with most no-win situations, I've avoided the whole Trayvon Martin fiasco. It's a tragedy all around, but thanks to a lot of factors--including the media, the cops, the Zimmerman side, and, yes, the Treyvon side--there will be absolutely no way that justice can be served. Whether your concern is Florida's well-intentioned but ill-conceived "Stand Your Ground" law, the insensitivity of the police brass, or how Zimmerman has been portrayed, the information is so muddled and confusing and advocates on both sides have yelled loud enough long enough that cramming a jury into a pine-wood bench and getting something resembling a fair trial is a near impossibility. Sadly, this has very little to do with our justice system and everything to do with us.

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