The Nose: Big brother is watching ... your kids buy tater tots at school

November 22, 2013 

Lunch at George Orwell Junior High?

MCT FILE

First, Peninsula school honchos wanted kids to give them the finger. But the lunchroom fingerprint-scanning system ended before it could begin.

Next, it was Puyallup’s turn. School snoops tried to read students’ palms, but there appeared to be no future in that either.

Were these a pair of Big Brother experiments that nearly got out of hand? Fourth Amendment fanatics would surely say yes. Keep your mitts off our children’s mitts, they snarl — and good riddance to your diabolical infrared gizmos!

Ding dong, Big Brother is dead?

Fat chance, we say. He’s far too great and powerful to go so easily to his final dirt nap. He’s only dozing

Long live Big Brother! All he wants is a secure society where younglings can purchase food and derive nutritional sustenance in an orderly manner.

Some privacy rights might be sacrificed, natch, as happens in any mildly totalitarian school cafeteria.

But as a wise man once said: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

In the beginning: Two Gig Harbor-area grade schools were picked to test a fingerprint-scan program. Alas, the technology didn’t cooperate.

Puyallup had its own plan to put biometric scanners at the front of every lunch line on all 32 campuses before the end of the year. Wildwood Elementary and Stahl Junior High were the first to do it.

Voila! Kids swiped their palms, an image of their unique vein pattern was recorded, an encrypted ID number was sent to a computer, and money was subtracted from their student accounts.

All this big brotherliness would help the hairnet ladies keep the lines moving and give kids more time to savor their tater tots. It also could prevent imposters from stealing another student’s lunch money (in the old days, the kind of shakedown that happened to Snores Truly behind the gym at recess).

Then, faster than you can say “tuna loaf surprise,” a rebellion was born. The moms, dads and Edward Snowdens of Meekerville started putting their noses where they don’t belong.

“It’s very invasive to me. What is it in my daughter’s veins that they need to photograph or have that information?” one parent said to KIRO TV.

School officials caved. On the Puyallup Schools website this week, this message was posted: “In response to concerns expressed by parents … the district has suspended the implementation of palm scanners during school lunch while it studies the technology in greater depth.”

School Board members will have a chance to weigh in at their Dec. 2 meeting.

They should follow our advice, if they have the spine.

If we ran America: Schools would not merely put a child through a scanner — they’d make him remove his shoes, empty his pockets and take no more than 3 ounces of chocolate milk to his lunch table.

If he gives lunch compliance officers any guff, escort him to a back room to be wanded.

And don’t stop with the lunch line:

 • Before taking a high-stakes test, students must pass through a retinal scan or facial recognition software.

 • To ensure they’re genetically pure enough to make a varsity sports team, swab their cheeks for a DNA sample.

 • To alert them when library books are overdue, implant chips in their heads.

God Bless America – our America – the digitized, disciplined and dystopian America.

If any of you hippie-dippie parents don’t like it, pack your bags.

Or you could always just pack your kids’ lunch.

You see one plane, you’ve seen them all: The Washington Aerospace Partnership must’ve had to put out a Mayday call after the full-page ad it bought in Wednesday’s Seattle Times.

The ad plugs to keep the Boeing 777X assembly line here at home. All good — except it includes a large photo of (wait for it) an Airbus 319.

Take it from us, the best way to tell two like objects apart is to look at the nose.

Ad mistakes we hope never to see:

 • Washington, home of the Best Apples on Earth! (Alongside photo of Idaho potatoes.)

 • Enjoy Almond Roca! (With picture of a Hershey bar).

 • Ride Washington State Ferries! (With photo of the Kalakala.)

Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com. Twitter: @thenosetribune

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