Saturday, June 21, 2003
Mr. Bruce Farley, a fantastic high school physics teacher and a kind human being died on Monday of a heart attack. Mr. Farley imparted such life to physics that anyone who attended his class really did come to believe the acronym he lived by, PIF: physics is fun. If anyone ever deserved a New York Times obituary, it is he. Alas, the world doesn't celebrate high school physics teachers and his death is commemorated only by the Indianapolis Star. Those whose lives he touched remember him fondly and regret his untimely passing. PIF forever!
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
The New York Times reports today on Nude Summer Camp. While I advocate the practice of liberty, especially when it comes to flouting social convention in such a seemingly benign fashion, I am concerned about the safety of kids running around the forest naked. No, it isn't poison ivy in those sensitive areas that unsettles me: it's exploiters. Pedophile outsiders who could sneak in or trusted insiders who are potential predators would make me think twice before allowing my teen to spend the summer au natural with his peers. The article mentions that there are extensive security measures, including tall fences, security gates, and guards. However, those measures didn't stop an unwelcome visitor from entering the pool area while campers were swimming. It also mentions that the camp runs extensive background and criminal checks on personnel but not all predators have prior convictions. In theory, the risks to campers at Nude Summer Camp are like those at other camps - they participate in all the same activities as campers at "regular" camps with adults who have been deemed responsible supervising. And pedophiles target children regardless of their clothing status. But it seems to me that liberty seekers aren't the only ones attracted to the idea of nudity. Don't you think that weirdos might envision such a camp as a smorgasbord? The elevated risk I imagine might be unsupported but it still makes me uneasy. On the scale of public good, does the civil liberty benefit outweigh the potential safety cost in this case? If the camp were for naked adults, there would be no question in my mind. They know and understand the risks and should not be hindered from their free expression. But 11-18 year olds? If safety concerns were not an issue, I believe that adolescents are competent enough to make decisions about their bodies, including going to naked summer camp. So for me it all hinges on whether these kids are at elevated risk for predation and exploitation by weirdos and pedophiles while at camp. If they are at special risk, are they still competent to choose naked summer camp? All summer camps should take precautions to protect children from weirdos and my gut tells me that naked summer camps should be extra-stringent in their precautions.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Australia is considering implementing a fat tax. Obesity, the west's greatest public health problem, not only places undue burden on hips and thighs but on the stretched-thin health care system. It's about time fat people carry their own weight!