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Across The Lake

The invasion of our personal lives and the intimate details of our behavior are so entwined in how privacy laws affect the way we live that court calendars are becoming clogged. Reporters could once call a hospital to find out if they'd been first with a birth at the start of a year. Doctors would report on the condition of a patient, nurses could inform us a person had been admitted for treatment. Now it's simple: Nobody talks.

That's probably why on Monday, the 7 billionth person born on this planet was a girl in the Phillipines. Hypothetically, at least, for two reasons. With hundreds of thousands of birth worldwide every day (51 every minute in India alone) there's no way of knowing the exact moment or place of the real arrival. And besides, there won't be a lawyer there suing for invasion of privacy.

For priests and pastors, this can be a bad day. The congregation may have overslept and what's worse, the pulpit may still be empty at the appointed hour. If someone did not come awake at two o'clock this morning to make sure the clock fell back, the end of Daylight Saving for another year will have been meaningless.

"Spring forward, fall back." It's been part of our language so long it seems it has always been there as a memorable mnemonic reminder useful every spring and fall. In his book on the subject Michael Dowling sets its first use as having occurred in a letter to the Times in London in 1947. The writer called it, in Latin, a memoria technical, in suggesting 'spring forward' as prompting a way to change the hands of the clock each spring so they could then 'fall back' each autumn.

Dowling made Spring Forward the title of his book on Daylight Saving Time, in which he also corrected our grammar: there's no 's' on Saving. He also knocks down a frequently used excuse for the time change, that it was wanted by farmers who "wanted more time for chores." During World War I, chambers of commerce in larger cities lobbied for Daylight Saving Time on behalf of city businesses and residents.

Dew was offered as evidence of the need for change in support of agriculture. Produce harvested while still fresh with the dew of early morning hours was rated as far superior to what the sun had been shining on for several hours, a Chamber leaflet suggested. Farmers in general, disagreed and continued milking cows on a twelve-hour schedule whatever the time the hands of the clock might show.

A college degree may well be worth it, but as the cost keeps going up, it sparks a continuing debate. At BSU, the $7,599 annual full load cost is a bit under the national average and a bit over the Minnesota average for a state university. A University of Oklahoma study by Vance Fried says the cost could be a bit lower if all professors did was teach. Add in the cost of their research work, though and the price balloons to more than $25,900.

Research is a common good, he reasons and undergrads shouldn't be the ones who have to pay for it. He also advocates eliminating what he calls administrative bloat: layers of deans and department heads, psychologists, counselors, all adding up to hundreds of dollars more than the entire cost of educating a student. Maybe that's why so many were so interested in President Obama's efforts to ease the pain.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... Postal rumors spread faster than -- well, faster than the mail that they concern, but as of the moment, post offices at Waskish and Mizpah are like the one in Hines. Still open for business, but still in doubt as to their long-term survival.