Inspecting Common Sense

Dartboard spends a good amount of time in the library every week. But no matter how many times Dartboard goes through the process of opening his over-the-shoulder bag to give the security guard his requisite look, it still gets under his skin. Why do we make our library security guards rifle through our bags every time we leave when even a comatose library patron could manage to get books past the unnecessary inspection?

Take the other night. Dartboard’s bag has more than a few pockets that he could use to smuggle Harvard’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible past the guard at the checking counter. Does the guard spend the time unzipping every zipper and feeling through every nook and cranny of Dartboard’s bag? Of course not: There’s already a line forming behind Dartboard and a quick glance will do. Dartboard could have had the lost continent of Gondwanaland hidden under his laptop and Security Service Incorporated’s trained professional would have been none the wiser.

If we are going to inspect bags, let’s go all out. Dartboard wants pat-downs for every tenth student, and more invasive body searches for every 20th. And why stop with students? Just like with plagiarism, professors should be held to the same standard as students when it comes to uncomfortable searches for contraband.

But, somehow, Dartboard doubts that’s going to fly. Instead, the University library system should just get rid of the whole useless process. Keep the guards to check IDs and search the occasional student who sets off the CVS-style anti-shoplifting buzzers. And we should stop there. No more useless bag checks, no more wasted time. Just keep those CVS buzzers up and running to catch the occasional over-avid bookworm. After all, if they’re good enough to stop shoplifters, they’re good enough to keep the best and the brightest from pilfering a few books.


Proportional Misrepresentation

Dartboard has already contacted Fox News about a potential segment entitled “When Voting Goes Wrong” based on the true-life story of this Tuesday’s municipal “elections.” Thanks to a proportional representation voting system that allows voters to rank their choices, Matt DeBergalis will not receive a seat on the nine-member City Council despite getting the seventh highest amount of number one votes.

Ostensibly, proportional voting protects third-party candidates and others who wouldn’t have a shot in majoritarian elections, and is a cause celebre for the Green Party.

Generally, when liberals’ pet projects fail or work against them (think campaign finance reform), Dartboard is filled with much rejoicing—after all, he hails from a “red state” where the terms “stupid” and “liberal” go hand in hand. But DeBergalis isn’t liberal or conservative—he’s merely pro-student, and the “progressive” nature of Cambridge elections (a system which actually protects incumbents even more than other forms of voting) has deprived students of an advocate on the City Council—one which they badly need and deserve.

Dartboard wonders how in a city of 100,000, where 15,000 of those are students, there is not one city councillor (out of nine) that has the least bit of love for students. Yet, in its bizarre ability to remain anti-student despite the numbers and despite a candidate who receives more votes than two of those who will have seats on the City Council, that Cambridge is governmentally devoid of a student voice is asinine.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Scholars

Last Sunday, Harvard’s perennially lighthearted undergraduates crowded around the TV for yet another Halloween episode of “The Simpsons.” Dartboard has always appreciated our campus’ special connection to that venerated, animated institution of pop culture. What seems like harmless fun on Fox every Sunday night is in fact controlled by the long, dead hand of the Harvard Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine and now produces drug-addled sitcom writers. And for those in need of a bit of quasi-intellectual diversion, there are few better options than spending half an hour every weekend with the residents of Springfield.

But last weekend, there was something different. In the bit part of a cartooned academic involved in some brand of undead madness was the spitting two-dimensional image of Baird Professor of Science Dudley R. Herschbach. The chemist’s role was fleeting, but the impression it left in Dartboard’s supple mind was far more than the usual comedic glow produced by such a program.

Suddenly, Dartboard’s mind was afire with possibilities. Herschbach has said that he took on the role in part to lighten the image of his fellow sages, to break the celluloid ceiling and prove that even Nobel laureates can appear in juvenile cartoons—and how right he was. If only Harvard’s other bright lights would consider making the move to animation!

University President Lawrence H. Summers has spent the last three years searching for the right gimmick to make people take his academic vision seriously. A supporting role as Jafar’s less nefarious, more studious half-brother in the next straight-to-video Aladdin sequel might be just the trick.

And if certain killjoys hadn’t grumbled when they got wind of the rumor that former Fletcher University Professor Cornel R. West ’74 had expressed an interest in voicing the role of Nemo in Finding Nemo, maybe the Department of African and African American Studies would be one luminary heavier today. (Dartboard is sure the performance wouldn’t have been nearly as fishy as West’s turns in the last two Matrix flicks.) Kiss Marxist metaphysics goodbye: it’s time for Merrie Melodies in Cambridge!

Still, Dartboard knows that his dream is not to be: when they turn their backs on the dimensions of physical reality, Harvard’s thinkers prefer the rarefied murk of theories upon theories to the comforting tones and loony hijinks of cartoons. Meep, meep!