The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 4, 1997 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Sunday, May 4, 1997
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SUNDAY, MAY 4, 1997 THE SALINA^ JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters© saljoumal.com Quote of the day "Kids walking by would say to me, 'My parents told me not to talk to you because you're a sexual offender."' Mike Lumpkins Manhattan, who unknowingly moved into a home formerly occupied by a registered sex offender listed on the KBI's Internet directory. By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Killing the messenger THE IJIUE The House vs. Carla Stovall THE ARGUMENT Stovall is wrong; but is anyone right? P unishing the bearer of bad news is not a tactic that generally wins support from newspaper editors. So if members of the Kansas Legislature are upset with the news they were getting from Attorney General Carla Stovall, they need to do more than just stop listening to her. They need to find a new, less politicized, source of information. It may be a long search. Stovall's view of the state's sentencing guidelines is, as some members of the House argued ___.. last week, fatally tainted STOVALL by a politically motivated desire to exaggerate both the threat of crime and the promise of prisons. But no one in the Legislature, or anywhere else in state government, has yet shown any ability to present a workable alternative. It is past time someone did. The story so far: As attorney general, Stovall is automatically chairman of the Kansas Sentencing Commission. That's the body that sets guidelines for judges to use when sending people to prison, guidelines that are supposed to overcome any individual prejudices or predilections that might lead to widely different sentences for similar crimes. But another factor that should be considered when figuring out who to throw in prison for how long is how many prison cells the Kansas taxpayers can be expected to build and maintain. Recently, it struck many members of the Legislature that Stovall, the sentencing commission and much of the rest of the criminal justice system had only one solution to crime: Build more prisons. Proposals that the sentencing commission amend the sentencing guidelines with an eye to reducing the prison population were rejected. Instead, Stovall and her colleagues recommended approval of yet another prison expansion proposal, this one costing $14 million. The response to that in the House last week was to slip through a bill removing the attorney general from the sentencing commission. So there. That might seem a simple-minded solution to a complicated problem. But Stovall's response to the action shows her counsel will be no great loss. "It is expensive to build more prison space," Stovall said in a letter to House members, "but unleashing violent criminals and habitual burglars and thieves on the citizens of this state is even more expensive." It goes against all logic and common sense to accept the attorney general's dull-witted contention that those are the only two choices. Surely, we are smarter than that. We could make more use of half-way houses and put more probation officers on the street so many nonviolent offenders could be released. We could impose economic penalties for economic crimes, instead of maintaining the modern version of debtors prison for embezzlers and cheats. We could make sure that the kind of probation violations that send people back to prison are violations that endanger the public, not just those that violate a technicality. We could even stop sending people to prison for victimless crimes such as drug possession and prostitution. But it appears that the only way our state's criminal justice establishment will start sorting through our criminal classes to make intelligent decisions as to which ones must be in prison and which ones need not is to cut off the source of taxpayers' money to new prisons. Stovall, obviously, lacks the political fortitude to say that. But so, it seems, does everyone else. •QOV. MM. OHAVfS - Statahouse, Topeka, KS 06612 «wo»: 3904240; Fax: 296-7973; E-mail: 9ovamordink.org « MN, MM VKMKXUN - 24th District - R-Satina Room 143-N, Statehouie, Topeka, KS 66612 Phona: 296-7390 67th District -R-Brookville Room 182-W, Statahousa, Topaka, KS 66612 Phona; 296-7649; E-mail: jkoireink.org Room 1«2*W, SlatotouM, Topafca, K8 66612 Ptwna: 296.7*74; E-ma*l:dhor*«ink,{KO ' * W. CAWR. MOOS - 71st District - R-SaUna Room 431-N, Statafcouaa, Topaka, KS 66612 Phone. 296-7683, E-mail, THE ftEASoM is ST<X* WORK HARD AMP PROSPERS, I POWER, MAKES ME PEEL UKE A WHATS A/OT 7T> GET STEPPED ON A R1CU, T BY GEORGE Yes, the light of truth can alter reality Shining a light on electrons or on Klansmen — may indeed alter their course and speed "There is no way of exchanging information that does not demand an act of judgment." — Jacob Bronowski "The Ascent of Man" I have not heard anyone around here use this cop-out recently, but it is not so uncommon for a journalist to defend his or her work by arguing, in effect, that it makes no difference. Some people think the mission of journalists is to be a passive conduit through which the doings of * the important, evil, lucky or unlucky are brought to the attention of those who weren't there. Some of the people who think that are journalists. But any reporter or editor who clings to the idea that the work he or she does has — and should have — no impact on the lives of other people is in the wrong business. Any reader or viewer who thinks newspapers should or can have no impact on the course of events is living in a dream world. And, obviously, neither one of them stayed awake in physics class. There is a basic principle of physics that should be taught in journalism departments as well as in physics labs. And everyone who reads newspapers or listens to the radio should be acquainted with it. Like most important principles of physics, it was worked out by a German-sounding bloke T SUNDAY FUNNIES GEORGE B. PYLE The Snlina Journal in the early part of this century. It is Werner Heisenberg's "uncertainty principle," and it is as important to our understanding of the universe as the better-known work of Albert Einstein. The uncertainty principle mostly has to do with the habits of subatomic particles, and so is of little apparent relevance to our daily lives. But there is an angle of it that those who write newspapers, and those who read them, should all know. Heisenberg argued that one can never really know both the speed and location of a subatomic particle because the act of measuring those things changes them. In fact he argued it convincingly enough that they gave him the Nobel Prize in 1932. We know what we see, but we can never know what would have been there if we were not looking. I said important principles of physics were worked out by Germans in the first part of this century. The reason that stopped happening was the rise of Hitler, which forced most men of learning, Jewish or not, to either flee or hide. Talk about breaking a chain of thought. Which brings us to the Ku Klux Klan. Last winter, a shard of the Klan that lives in Arkansas announced it had picked Salina for its annual anti-Martin Luther King Day rally. Why here was never satisfactorily explained. Then the rally was cancelled, Klanspersons said, because of an ice storm in Arkansas. The saved and the unsaved wondered aloud if that meteorological event had some theological significance, and we forgot about it. Or we forgot for a while. The Klan had said it would have its Salina rally later, probably in April or May. Around the end of April, it occurred to some of us that the other shoe had not dropped and, before we could put this sad chapter out of our minds, we had better see what was happening. So we detailed a reporter, to call those pointy-headed folks down Arkansas way and ask if they were still coming. Oh, yes indeedy, they assured us. They just couldn't say when. OK, fine. That was the answer to our question. Sort of. But then we were in trouble with the police chief, the city manager and the local head of the NAACP. They were worried that, by asking the question, the Journal had encouraged the Klansfolk to go ahead with an invasion of Salina they hoped we had avoided. We had thought folks might appreciate knowing whether such an infestation ^ was upon us. There is no pleasing some people. There is also no point in claiming that the complaint is without merit. It is entirely possible that, had the press not pressed the Klan for a statement, they would have forgotten all about Salina. Now, they might come after all. Or not. And we will never know how, or if, asking the question determined the answer. In Heisenberg's thoughts, you shine a light on an electron to see where it is and, because you shone the light on it, it is somewhere else. In our world, you shine a light on a pack of nocturnal creatures, or Klansmen, and because you shone the light, they might do something other than what they would have done if it had remained dark. •'. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have turned on the light. Darkness alters reality, too. And hardly ever for the better. • George B. Pyle is the editorial page editor of the Salina Journal. You can write to him at P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402, or via e-mail at gpyle@saljournal.com. Yeah, but have you ever seen a bald dog? ^^ _ I _ A! __ _ jr._.._ i_i _ c _ i i . .1 .. .. ^^"^^ • So let's move on from the research stage to real point of science — making money O ur topic today, on Breakthroughs in Medicine, is: New Hope From Dog Spit. I have here some very exciting scientific correspondence from William B. Yancey, M.D., who is a medical doctor and therefore legally allowed to (1) park anywhere; (2) give shots; (3) tell people to get naked; and (4) make scientific observations. Dr. Yancey wrote to me about an observation that he scientifically made regarding his Labrador retriever, who is named Refrigerator. Refrigerator recently underwent hip surgery; in preparation for the operation, the veterinarian shaved his hindquarters. Then, realizing his mistake, he also shaved Refrigerator's hind-quarters. No, seriously, the veterinarian's hindquarters have nothing to do with this, and I am instructing the jury to disregard them. The point is that Refrigerator had all the fur removed from his rear end (or, in medical parlance, his "bazooty"). If you know anything about dogs, you know how Refrigerator spent his recuperation period: He licked himself pretty much full time. Dogs are very big believers in the healing power of licking. If dogs operated a hospital, here's how it would work: A patient would arrive in the Emergency Room, and a team of doctor dogs would gather around to conduct an examination, which would consist of thoroughly sniffing the patient. (They would also sniff the floor, in case anybody had left food lying around.) Then the doctor dogs would hold a DAVE BARRY The Miami Herald conference, and whatever the patient's symptoms were — coughing, lack of pulse, a spear passing all the way through the patient's head — the doctor dogs would agree that the best course of treatment was: licking. And we're talking about a lot of licking. Not just the patient licking himself or herself; but also the doctors licking the patient, licking themselves, and licking the other doctors. This is state-of-the-art medical care for dogs. Their equivalent of a CAT scan machine would be a big tube filled with tongues. So anyway, after his operation, Refrigerator was performing medical care on .himself, and Dr. Yancey made a scientific observation; namely, that Refrigerator's hair "has grown fastest in the areas where he has spent significant time licking himself." Using this observation, Dr. Yancey was able to form a scientific hypothesis — a term that is formed from two Greek words, "hy," which means "something," and "pothesis," which means "that pops into your head while you are watching a dog lick itself after you have maybe had a couple of brewskis." Dr. Yancey's hypothesis is this: Dog spit grows hair. In fact, Dr. Yancey believes that unwanted hair, such as facial hair on women and nose hair on men, probably did not exist until the human race domesticated dogs and started getting licked all the time. But the more important implication is that dog spit could be a revolutionary new hair- growth treatment for balding men. Granted, we do not yet have laboratory proof of this. But we do have a published report in the form of this column, which has been printed in a newspaper with professional-looking margins. So I think it's time to move past the research phase of Dr. Yancey's hypothesis and go directly to the phase where we unleash the power of this amazing discovery to benefit humanity, to make the world a better place, and most important — to make money. Specifically what I am thinking of is a franchised line of hair-growth salons, perhaps with a sophisticated name such as La Spitte Du Chien Pour Les Homines, Upon arriving at a salon, a client would undergo a pre-treatment interview, during which he would be asked a series of scientific questions ("Do you have money?" "How much?"). The client would then be ushered into the Preparation Area, where his scalp would be coated with a scientifically designed, nutrition-enhanced, precision-balanced formulation consisting of Skippy brand peanut butter. : Finally the client would enter the Treatment Area, where he would be instructed to lie down on the floor with his arms at his sides. A door would then be opened, and a professional Hair Growth Technician, barking loudly, would sprint into the room at upwards of 400 miles per hour, skid to a stop, and begin enthusiastically treating the client's scalp. All of the technicians at La Spitte Du Chien Pour Les Hommes would be carefully selected on the basis of friendliness, professionalism, and not peeing on the clients. I grant you that this procedure has a few wrinkles that need to be worked out, such as the issue of creamy vs. chunky. But basically I think it makes at least as much scientific sense as the baldness cures you see advertised in magazines. I see no reason why we can't go ahead and start setting up franchise salons, and if any government agencies have any questions, well, they can just send their inspectors around to meet with our Board of Directors, Big Boy and Fang. They love inspectors. It's their favorite meal. • Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning \ humor columnist for the Miami Herald. Alert \ readers can write to him in care of Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suitel 1500, Chicago, IL 60611, or via e-mail at\ tms@tribune.com.

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