Monday, February 18, 2008

Hard-Boiled Cynic, That's Me

This article appeared today in the NY Times. The rather pulpy crime novel author Patricia Cornwell donated a million dollars to my graduate school to start a CSI academy. She was quoted in the quick AP blurb as saying it's necessary because of all the untrained police officers out there, and the mucking about that she herself has seen at crime scenes. Now I immediately realized that this was probably only a tiny piece of what she said--but I admit that I took offense, even though she's probably right--I'm always quick to jump to the defense of police officers, and I hate to see them criticized by the public. Anyway, it seems that she realized her quote might seem offensive, and so she paid a quarter of a million dollars to take out ads showing her support of law enforcement. I guess her comments created some awfully bad press for the grand gesture!

Something about the whole thing seems a little hinky. She strikes me as pretty darn self-aggrandizing, and a cop buff to boot. Of course this academy is incredibly useful, so I guess I shouldn't complain. But I've always thought her books are oddly sexist, and frankly I never liked that damn Kay Scarpetta. It's funny when folks give a ton of money to schools--they were always doing it at my college alma mater too, giving millions of dollars for new observatories and like that...although one now-thinking alum donated a ton of money for daily soft ice cream in perpetuity, served in the dining hall.

A. always says that if he gets rich, he wants to go the soft ice cream bequest route. Forget the useful academies and lab equipment. He wants to donate a ton of money for a really good science fiction collection for the college library. For instance. I think I'd endow a mandatory freshman colloquium. The topic? "In the Name of All That is Holy, Don't Take Yourself So Seriously." I'd offer this sentiment to Patricia Cornwell too.

And now I leave you with this.

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