Sunday, April 27, 2014

Speed Traps

  How many TV shows, movies and books have used a scene in which characters are driving down a rural highway and find themselves caught in speed trap? You've seen it. The speed limit suddenly drops from 55 mph to 25 and there's the stereotypical pot-bellied redneck deputy sitting right there ready to pull them over and drag them off to pay an exorbitant fine to a grumpy old judge or else spend a night in a one-cell jail.
   Of course, such places do exist and there are plenty of people who will tell you that they (or someone they know) has been caught in one. many of these municipalities use their ticket revenue to run the town.
   These days, however, they don't need deputies sitting in cars. They just set up a camera which takes a picture of your license plate. Then they send a ticket to the owner of the car with directions where to send the fine. They don't bother to identify the driver which, I suppose, is good news for perpetual speeders because they don't get any moving violations tacked on their license.

   We have a number of roads nearby with schools on them and the speed limits drop by ten or fifteen mph within them, usually "between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on school days." Perhaps a bit extreme when it's an elementary school that is open from 9 till 3, but okay. We don't want somebody barreling into a crossing guard with a crowd of third-graders.
   Nassau County is petitioning the state to be allowed to install speed trap cameras in fifty of these school zones. Why? They need the revenue these cameras would provide to fortify their budget. They aren't even pretending that it's to increase the safety of school children. No, it's simply, "We want the money."
   I think the state should tell them to hire some potbellied deputies instead.
   Hey, it would create jobs!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Search Results

   I got an email the other day from an interviewer who was looking for a photo of me to use. He went to Google and found quite an assortment, spanning about forty years. Bearded, clean-shaven, mustachioed... they're all there.
Someone, please buy this boy a comb and brush set!

   But one, he said, didn't really look like me...

  Not surprising, since it is actually a photo of E. Nelson Bridwell, with whom I worked at DC for many years.

   One of the interesting things that Blogspot (the host of this and many other bloggers' work) does is provide data on how many times an individual entry is viewed. I know that I have a group of regular followers and that there is a larger group of folks who will check out entries that relate to the comic book business.
   On the other hand, I presume that many one-time readers find their way here as the result of a search on Google or Ask or Bing. That would certainly account for the high number of views for the entries titled "Jury Duty" and "Feed a Fever, Drown a Cold." Those undoubtedly turn up in the results of many different searches.
   Of the more specifically-titled entries, the ones I wrote about baseball great Satchel Paige and the unpublished battle between the Secret Society of Super-Villains and the Freedom Fighters are the most popular entries of the nearly three hundred I've done.
   However, quite surprising to me was discovering that the most popular blog entry is my tale of how the NYPD came to the DC Comics offices for help when they were trying to track down serial killer "Son of Sam." There have been eight hundred more views of this entry than the next highest one and the total is more than ten times the average. I have no idea why.

   Speaking of searches, did you ever notice that, whenever you are looking for something, it's always in the last place you look?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Another Annoying Political Ad

  It is seven months till Election Day.
  An ad that's been running on the radio recently begins with an attack on one of the State Senators, chastising him because he voted in favor of Obamacare. The speaker scolds him for saying that it is federal tax dollars instead of state tax dollars, though they aren't clear about what this means since a State Senator has no vote in Congress.
  A second speaker then tells us how terrible it is when a politician says one thing and does something else. She also tells us that she knows that federal tax dollars are her tax dollars just as state tax dollars are her tax dollars. She then mentions a local Congressman, who also voted in favor of Obamacare. "One is ashamed, the other is proud," she tells us.
  Then comes the apparent point of the ad: Naming a man who is running for Congress, who promises to vote for the repeal of Obamacare. We are assured that he is "one of us." Well, one can only presume he intends to run against the Congressman who is named earlier, but what, if anything, does that have to do with the State Senator?
  Since the Congressman named is not the one representing my district, this campaign does not affect me. If it did, however, why would I want to vote for a "Johnny-One-Note" whose raison d'etre appears to be continuing a losing battle? Hey, maybe he should promise to repeal Medicare and the Social Security Act as well.
  And did I mention that it's seven months till Election Day?


  For the past decade or so, my car radio has been tuned to WBZO-FM or "B-103" as it is more commonly known. It is our local "Oldies" station and, for most of those years, the morning drive time has been the home of The Wiseman and Frank. They combine music trivia, wacky surveys, and witty banter into an always entertaining mix. Just how well they work together is evident anytime one or the other is off; "boring" comes to mind.
  When I first started listening, the play list was mostly '60s rock and roll -- Beatles, Beach Boys, 4 Seasons, Supremes, et al -- the music I grew up listening to. A few years ago, music from the '70s started to creep into the mix. More recently, they've jumped into a play list that is much more heavily '80s and have pretty much left the older music behind.
  Now they've made it official: Starting on Monday, they will be playing "Classic Hits" from the '70s and '80s. Elton John, Billy Joel, and the Eagles are now the headliners. The '60s are gone.
  Okay, I understand that I'm no longer their target audience: They want the 40-to-50-year-olds rather than old fogies like me so they move on to the music familiar to that age group. What I don't understand is the other part of this reorganization...
  They are moving The Wiseman to the afternoon drive time and have apparently sent Frank packing! So, will the "B" in B-103 now stand for "Boring"? If so, for me it will also mean "Bye-Bye."