July 29, 2003

And now, the story of a man who went from the state pen to Penn State, based on an Inquirer article from last weekend:

In 1965, a 17-year-old named Paul Krueger fatally shot three people in Texas, pleaded guilty to the crime a year later, and was promptly sentenced to three concurrent life terms in prison. Amazingly, based on his model behavior behind bars, he was actually paroled after serving only 13 years in jail and proceeded to earn several degrees. Most recently, in 1999, he applied for a position as a professor at Penn State (which, like many educational institutions, didn’t request any background check on him), and has taught there for the last four years!*

What an embarrassment. It was an egregious mistake to even consider parole for this man in the first place — the key to his cell should have been destroyed on his first day in the slammer. But I’m also dumbfounded that some universities, including my alma mater, neglect to research the criminal histories of their interview candidates. Perhaps they assume that someone with a doctorate degree would be insulted by such a request.

A criminal background check has been required on every job application that I’ve submitted to public and private corporations alike, but a convicted murderer has no such obligation in the academic world, where he will serve as a role model to young people?

* Update: On July 30, National University in La Jolla, Calif., decided against hiring Paul Krueger as an associate professor after learning of his criminal past. Two days later, Krueger resigned from his position at Penn State. Good riddance.

[ No. 57 ]

July 26, 2003

Here’s a formula for guaranteed summer fun: gather a bunch of people and some inflatable boats, tie the boats together in a circle with a long bungee cord, throw in some cold beverages (recommendation: Mike’s Hard Cranberry Lemonade) and ice in a separate raft, and voilà! You have yourself a floatilla* party.

This was my second year on the famed floatilla in Avalon, and I had plenty of company — we counted a total of 43 participants this time around! We floated for about a dozen blocks during our afternoon on the bay, and even received a nice round of applause from a huge bayside party near 21st Street.

* Note: This is the correct spelling, as far as I know. Every written reference to the party combines the words float and flotilla, even though it’s pronounced exactly like the latter.

[ No. 56 ]

July 18, 2003

Something is desperately wrong with the world when I, of all people, must ask others to demonstrate patience. But there seems to a widespread outbreak of me-first syndrome these days — which brings us back to the topic of driving habits, naturally.

Right lane ends -- and that means you!

When you encounter a sign that reads RIGHT LANE ENDS or MERGE LEFT, how about making your move before the lane actually vanishes? I’m getting really tired of watching other drivers (presumably on their way to the emergency room) fly past these signs and force their way into the proper lane at the last minute.

C’mon, you know well in advance that your lane is about to end. Is it really that important to cut to the front of the line and save two whole minutes at everyone else’s expense?

By the way, it wouldn’t hurt to use your turn signal once in a while, either.

[ No. 55 ]

July 1, 2003

Can someone explain to me how this year is half over already?

Also, since I can’t seem to resist documenting this year’s extreme weather patterns, here are the official totals from Philadelphia’s June monsoon:

Average rainfall, June: 3.29 inches
Actual rainfall, June 2003: 8.08 inches
Percent of average rainfall: 246%

Source: AccuWeather

But today, it’s a new month — and the sun was actually shining!

[ No. 54 ]