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Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns contain satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

University of California President Richard Atkinson finally has had his way with the Scholastic Aptitude Test, forcing the elimination of the dread analogies section.

You know how the questions go: “Official is to obtuse as:”

    a. administrator is to addled

    b. bureaucrat is to bumbling

    c.functionary is to fatuous

    d. pedant is to pumpkin-headed

    e. all of the above.

I was able to gain an audience with Atkinson aide Howard Bashford, Ph.D., and ask him to explain his chief’s antipathy to the analogies. He received me in his paneled office in downtown Oakland.

“SAT hard!” he began, flicking a bit of lint from the sleeve of his navy blue suit. “Angolies very hard! Not fair!”

“Just what is so unfair about analogies?” I asked.

“Use big words!” Bashford said, spreading his arms to indicate great size. “Strange words in angolies! Some not understand.”

“But aren’t college-bound students supposed to have college-level vocabularies?” I pressed.

“Not FAIR!” said Bashford loudly, pounding his mahogany desk. “FOOL students!”

I asked, “But isn’t ‘critical thinking’ ability an indicator of probable collegiate success?”

“What ‘incator’? What ‘probal’?” he asked. “Not FAIR! BIG words! FOOL students!”

I rose and extended my hand, which Bashford took in both of his and shook warmly.

“SAT hard,” he said earnestly. “Not fair.”

And we left it at that.


Speaking of hebetude: The Los Angeles Times article on the axing of analogies refers to Latin as a “moribund language.” Wake up, copy desk. Latin isn’t moribund – it’s dead, dead, dead.

Now, mix dullness with desperation: Our beleaguered governor, Gray Davis, has decided he can win over Latino voters by promising to sign a bill that would allow illegal aliens to obtain California drivers’ licenses. Apparently he thinks enough legal voters have relatives in the state illegally to make this worthwhile. Our question for that target group: Are you Americans or not?

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the California Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and others think the Golden State is anti-business. Well, it has been for at least the last quarter century, but the attitude in our legislators and administration remains, “California sells itself.” Hey! Maybe more taxes and regulations would help.


The buzz keeps getting louder about homosexual marriage, and it occurs to me this estate – or something like it – already is available to “gays” and lesbians. Just go to a lawyer and have a contract drawn up, declaring the parties’ commitment to each other and specifying their rights and responsibilities – like community property and responsibility for debts.

Participants may call this agreement anything they want, and have it sealed by any kind of ceremony they want, with or without clergy.

Seems to me this is an ideal solution for a segment of the population that always says it wants government to stay out of its private affairs.


Let us all give thanks that John Poindexter has left government service following revelation of his department’s latest brainstorm: making book on terrorist attacks.

The gist of the argument in favor of the betting scheme was that in a world gone mad, the weight of the wagers would give us clues about where terror squads might strike. Creatively crazy, what?

Sometimes, however, the best strategy for coping with the world’s insanity is not to go along with it, but to insist on acting sanely.

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