The final countdown has begun. One week until summer break. The beginning of the end of summer classes means that tailgating and tackle football are on the horizon. And while we at the Department of Darts and Laurels can't wait to see Tebow and Co. run all over the "competition," we're determined to conclude the summer with the patented satirical smack-downs that you've come to expect from these pages. As summer classes wind down to a close, we hope you've enjoyed the summer edition of what has become something of an institution (no, we're not presumptuous at all) in The Gator Nation. We thank you for humoring us as we've offered scathing indignation and effusive gratitude, not usually in equal portions, in reaction to the news of the week. So without further ado, we offer the second-to-last summer installment of …
Darts & Laurels
First and foremost, we throw a George-Orwell-is-turning-over-in-his-grave DART to the Department of Recreational Sports for their planned installation of biometric "hand scanners" at the Student Recreation and Fitness Center. The purpose of the proposal is to make it easier for students to access the center while ensuring that former students are prevented from using the facility. If the estimated $50,000 cost of the "Big Brother" technology wasn't bad enough, the software presents serious questions regarding personal privacy and the extent to which we should allow technology to take over our lives in the name of convenience.
Doesn't anyone remember the lessons of the "Terminator" movies, let alone Orwell's classic dystopian novel "1984?"
Next up, we send an as-if-we-needed-any-further-evidence-that-change-must-come-to-Washington-in-November DART to Sen. Ted "Tubes" Stevens, the longest serving GOP senator in history, for allegedly taking bribes from an oil company and making false statements about doing so. Stevens, affectionately known as "Tubes" for his incoherent, uninformed and hilarious discussion of the nuts and bolts of the "Internets" during the Net neutrality debate a couple of years back (continuously referring to the Internet as "a series of tubes"), was indicted this week on seven felony counts of making false statements (i.e. lying). Should he be convicted, each count carries up to five years in prison.
Stevens claims he's innocent, and he is until proven guilty. But all the preliminary evidence strongly suggests that the champion of the "bridge to nowhere" could be headed to the big house - unless President Bush commutes him.
Now to the heroes.
In these times of economic tribulation, every little bit counts. It's with this in mind that we bestow a way-to-modestly-take-care-of-the-faculty-and-staff-you-didn't-fire LAUREL to UF President Bernie Machen for doling out small raises (2 percent or up to $600) to faculty and staff. The faculty has greeted the salary augmentation with ambivalence due in large part, no doubt, to the discouraging economic trends facing the university. But hey, it sure beats receiving a pink slip, doesn't it?
On a related note, we offer an A-for-effort LAUREL to the Florida Board of Governors for its ambitious new plan to ask the Legislature to appropriate $56.8 billion for new hires at the state's 11 public universities. By "ambitious," we of course mean "delusional." If the BOG thinks that the supremely incompetent state Legislature is going to find that kind of money when there's more pressing issues to address, like say, the banning of Truck Nutz, then they should have their heads examined. But we thank them for their effort nonetheless.
Finally, we offer a don't-be-a-hater-party-like-a-Gator LAUREL to all of our fellow UF students for making Gainesville the home of America's No. 1 party school. Princeton Review has announced that UF is the nation's top party school for the first time in the 17-year history of its annual collegiate survey. We in the sea of Orange and Blue strive to be the best in all we do. We're just as serious about our studies as we are about our social lives. But as long as budget cuts and administrative bone-headedness stand in the way of national academic recognition, we'll take the title of College Party Station, U.S.A.