ERROL CASTENS: The Ides – and ideas – of March

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Happy Ides of March

For goodness’ sake, don’t pick today to have a Caesar salad – especially if your name is Julius.

Irish luck ain’t Blarney
Sunday’s upcoming holiday reminds me that on our first St. Patrick’s Day as a married couple, I awoke early, brushed my teeth, then shook my wife and teased, “Kiss me; I’m Irish!”
She looked at me groggily, noted the Germanic surname I’d shared with her, and teased back that her kisses that day were reserved for those with roots in the Emerald Isle.
“You’re not Irish,” she asserted.
A quick review of pertinent facts cured that misconception.
“In case you’ve forgotten, I have freckles, green eyes and a red beard. I also have a bunch of redheaded aunts and uncles and cousins,” I reminded her. “Beyond that, one of my grandmothers was a Cork, and the other was a Kelley. Now, woman – Kiss me; I’m Irish!”
She did. And several times since.
Talk about luck of the Irish.

From Blarney to Baloney
All since the beginning of this year:
A 7-year-old Anne Arundel County, Md., schoolboy was suspended for chewing his toaster pastry into a shape that his terrified teacher deemed a gun.
In Alexandria, Va., a 10-year-old boy in Alexandria, Va., was arrested for merely showing a busmate a toy gun.
An 8-year-old boy from Prince William County, Va., was suspended for pointing his finger at a classmate.
A 5-year-old girl in Mount Carmel, Pa., was suspended and accused of making “terroristic threats” for saying she would shoot a classmate and herself with a pink “Hello Kitty” bubble gun – a toy that she didn’t even have with her.
These cases prove that the students at each of the schools involved are in grave peril – not because the behavior of any of these children presented a clear and present danger, but because the cases reveal that those schools are totally devoid of any adult supervision.

The Ideas of March
Mississippi State University has instituted a three-year degree program in 23 majors “to allow highly motivated and hard-working students” to complete their degrees one year early, which could be a financial boon by saving living expenses and even some tuition and by letting them get into the workforce sooner.
“We believe there is a strong demand for this type of program,” said Provost Jerry Gilbert. “As the process of higher education continues to evolve, innovative nontraditional strategies are necessary to empower students and deliver opportunity.”
It’ll take students with pluck to accomplish it, but as a taxpayer and as one who (metaphorically) shot himself in the foot by finishing college in a mere six years, I wholeheartedly endorse the idea.

Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter ERROL CASTENS at

Click video to hear audio