- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 4, 2002

Nobles: The leaders of NASA's Hubble Telescope team for providing an extensive (albeit expensive) view of something that had never been seen by the public.

General editorial principle requires moaning a bit about the $75 million cost of the Advanced Camera for Surveys that astronauts installed last March aboard the $6.9 billion Hubble Space Telescope. After all, that seems a rather perverse expense for pretty interplanetary Polaroids.

But the first-light photos produced by the upgrade, which were released this week by NASA, were simply out of this world. Since starry-edged superlatives don't do justice to the stunning shots of the "Tadpole" galaxy or the Cone nebula, simply check out NASA's web site (www.nasa.gov).

Of course, the new camera is useful for far more than creating eye-popping screen savers. It is about 10 times more powerful than the camera it replaced, permitting observers to peer about 13 billion years into the past, providing views of a never-seen swath of stellar evolution (scientists estimate that the universe is about 14 billion years old). Its resolution should resolve longstanding questions about star and galaxy formation, set researchers to rewriting astronomy textbooks and ensure that America is the visible leader in deep-space astronomy for years to come.

This is taxpayer-subsidized exposure that deserves full viewing.

Knaves: Rancho Bernardo High School Assistant Principal Rita Wilson and counselor Natalie Johnson for insisting upon an invasive view of something that should never be seen in public.

Public-school modesty requires that unmentionables remain unseen, mostly because viewing them interferes with the educational process by giving pubescent students yet one more reason to think about unmentionable activities. So, in an overzealous effort to enforce the school dress code at a student dance that had a reputation for raunchiness, Ms. Wilson and Ms. Johnson decided to conduct their inspection in front of the throng of students anxiously awaiting a peep at the dance floor.

Specifically, Ms. Wilson and Ms. Johnson demanded that several female students show what sort of undergarments they were wearing by lifting their skirts. These full-Monty-minded administrators also exposed the bra of at least one student and got a brief look at the undershorts of a male student by forcing him to lift his toga.

Perhaps the only consolation to the student victims probably now suffering from Dance Undress Distress Disorder is that they have experienced the high point of embarrassment of their high school lives. They may also receive money with which to buy more unmentionables, since lawyers are suiting up for possible invasion-of-privacy lawsuits.

Paul Gentle, Rancho Bernardo's principal, promised that he would take a close look into the matter. In this case, he would be prudent to expose everything, no matter how embarrassing.

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