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If I had my own university

Barry Smith

If I had my own university, these are classes it would offer:

— Office Coffee Making 101. For people who so far have been unable to figure out the technical requirements of placing coffee in a filter and pushing the “Brew” button. It will also attempt to dispel the myth that elves make the coffee when no one is looking.

— Automotive/Cellular Phone Electronics. A research class which will attempt to solve the riddle of why, despite the advances in microchip design, engineers are unable to invent an automobile in which the turn signal works at the same time as a cell phone. Scientists do believe this problem can be solved, in theory, but so far they have seen no evidence in the empirical world. Every study of drivers with a cell phone to his or her ear shows that the turn signal does not blink.

— Constitutional Law. A renowned panel of guest speakers will include justices of the Nevada Supreme Court, who will explain the intricacies of deciding which parts of the state constitution to enforce and which parts to ignore. Advanced students then will be asked to study the U.S. Bill of Rights for a final exam on how many fundamental American rights remain in practice today.

— Commercial Advertising for People Who Can Think. A graduate-degree level course, it would attempt to reverse the trend of advertising for idiots — the kind that merely leaves most people scratching their heads and saying, “What the hell was that about?”

The class may also cover hyperbole, such as the commercial for a movie that Disney called its latest “classic.” The last words in the commercial were “opens Friday.” Final essay: How can it be a classic if it hasn’t even opened yet?

— Clerical help for medical offices: Students in this course learn how to schedule doctors for appointments every 10 minutes of the day, ensuring that when the doctor shows up 30 minutes late in the morning he will already be behind schedule. By the end of the course, advanced students will be able to schedule four, five and even six patients for the same time — even on days when the doctor is not actually in the office.

— Backyard Wrestling. This will be the only sport offered at the university. A benefit will be finding out how, on the “Backyard Wrestling” videos, they show guys diving off rooftops onto tables, slamming onto piles of bodies and smashing into the ground. At the bottom it always says, “No one was injured in the making of this video.”

— Umbrella Drink Physics. The research project will determine whether little umbrellas in tropical drinks actually keep the ice from melting as quickly as if they didn’t have little umbrellas.

— Reality Show Sociology. Students will spend the major amount of course time watching a variety of so-called television “reality shows” to examine sociological themes common to human interaction and to assess whether these shows are, indeed, a sign of the apocalypse.

— Passing the Math Proficiency Exam. Nevada high school students who were unable to receive a diploma because they couldn’t pass the math portion of the state proficiency test will be given remedial instruction and a dart. They will then be allowed to throw the dart at a board which will determine the score they must achieve to pass the course.

— Remedial Hat Wearing. The instructor will show the uneducated that, when wearing a baseball cap, the bill goes in front. Acceptable exceptions: catchers and welders.

— Highway Engineering. Practical application of design theories will test the creativity of students. For example, try this exercise: Joe has four bridges but no freeway. If Joe were to build a freeway connecting the four bridges, where would it go? For extra credit, students will be asked to determine how long it would take for such a freeway to be built.

— International Relations. The course of study will attempt to explain conflicts in the Mideast among Israel, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran by focusing on similar cultural disputes between Carson City and Douglas County.

By the way, as president of my own university, I’d be willing to work for $200,000 a year (plus mileage), thus saving the state of Nevada a significant amount of money on the average university president’s salary.

Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal.