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February 13, 2002


Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
February 13, 2002

Feeding the skepticism frenzy
Letıs ramble. Would that I could say ³Letıs roll,² but Iım just not up to it.
Ramble: ³to talk or write in a desultory or long-winded, wandering fashion.²
Thatıs me today. If youıd like to move aimlessly to Timıs Sports or explore idly what Mike has on his mind this week, go right ahead. I understand.
(The trouble with looking up a word in the dictionary is that you have to look up the words that define the word that you just looked up. What in the world does ³desultory² mean? I would look it up, but Iıve got rambling on my mind.)
Ramble, the noun, means ³a leisurely excursion for pleasure.²
³So come on yıall, letıs hop on the Good Ship Enron II. Everybody else is on board.
³Oh, but you arenıt having any fun? You say you lost your job? And your 401K? Both sank with Enron I?
³Another Titanic, huh? Couldnıt sink, but did.
³Well, ainıt that too bad!
³Look, itıs the American Way. So quit whining. Swab that deck. Make those beds. Wash the dishes. Clean the toilets. Hurry. The Captainıs waiting. Bow down before him on your way out.
³Oh, you wish the Captain had gone down with the ship?
³What! Instead, he went up on Fortuneıs list of the 500 richest Americans?
³I donıt believe it! All he was trying to do was look out for. . . .
³OK, he was just looking out for himself. But I understand he may wind up in jail.²
³Donıt count on it. Iıd bet my lifeıs savings — if I had any.²
* * *
Enough already! Letıs get off this negative stuff and see if we canıt come up with something positive. Hereıs something:
Because of the Enron bungle, botch, debacle, disaster, fiasco, predicament and scandal, membership in The Skeptics Society is skyrocketing.
Yes, there is such an organization. Thanks to Tom Bryan, I have two copies of The Societyıs newsletter.
Tom is not a member, but he keeps me abreast of what these people are up to. He got on their mailing list by contributing to some charitable organization, and that charitable organization sold his name and address to other charitable organizations — including The Skeptics Society.
Sound familiar?
If there is anyone out there who is not getting any mail, and would like to start receiving lots of mail, make a contribution to some charity.
OK, so my cynicism is showing.
Thanks to Enron, I am thinking about joining thousands of other suckers who are enrolling in graduate school. That would be advanced Skepticism.
This is not a new curriculum. A real skeptic is a member or adherent of an ancient Greek school of philosophy that maintained that real knowledge of things is impossible.
Skepticism is a cut above cynicism. A cynic wonders. A skeptic is a world class doubter. He doubts or questions the possibility or certainty of everything. Nothing can be proved absolutely; thus real knowledge of anything is impossible.
Several recent events are feeding the skepticism frenzy, not the least of which is the Enron mess. A lot of people believe that when the truth comes out, it will be a lie. Now thatıs professional doubting. So many have stolen so much from so many, and given so much to so many, itıs sort of hard to sort out the facts — if there are any.
Who are you gonna believe: the takers, the givers, or the receivers?
The skeptics would add a fourth option: none of the above.
And then there are the Georgia General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. They are whetting skepticismıs appetite. The cynics wonder whatıs going on. The skeptics doubt anything is going on. And the ordinary, run-of-the-mill citizens are confused.
Some of us are dumbfounded because a lot of conservative Republicans are joining leftist, liberal, bed-wetting Democrats in coming down hard on Enron and other big, free enterprise, capitalistic American corporations. What is this world coming to?
There are enough cynics and skeptics giving our president, our government and our economy bad raps without our politicians joining their ranks. Cynical congressmen and skeptical senators deserve a lot of the blame (credit?) for the skyrocketing membership in The Skeptics Society.
Dear readers, before you join up, please wait one more week. My reliable source, Mr. Bryan, is continuing in his investigation of the organization. One of his recent memos contained these lines: ³Wow! These guys are serious! Who are these guys anyhow?²
Stay tuned.
* * *
Note from Virgil: I apologize, dear friends, for writing in such a desultory, long-winded and wandering fashion about skepticism at this particular time in our lives. Itıs Valentineıs Day, for crying out loud. Not to worry. Thereıs no reason to doubt your true love. Thereıs no room for skepticism — or fear — in perfect love. See 1st John 4:7-22.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

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Column
By:Charlie Broadwell
The Jackson Herald
February 13, 2002

How strict is the zone enforced in Arcade?
Almost every time I tell people where I live, they reply ³Every time I go through there, I make sure I go the speed limit.²
A lot you may know by now Iım talking about Arcade. And of course people better go the speed limit, because unlike some other towns, the speed limits are actually enforced.
I have heard people griping and complaining since they lowered the speed limit in Arcade from 45 miles per hour to 35. I donıt mind the change, because I realize that itıs for our benefit as well as the construction workers building the bypass.
Plus, an extra 10 miles an hour for less than a mile isnıt going to make anyone late.
I rode with assistant police chief Jim Henson shortly after the speed limit was lowered. At the time, the change wasnıt being enforced with citations, but rather with warnings. That was the first week the limit was changed, so during the whole week motorists had the chance to speed through the area and get off with a written warning.
While watching the radar, I noticed people would slam on their breaks once they spotted Hensonıs car. ³Why donıt you pull those people over?² I asked.
³Well, if me being here gets them to slow down, then I have served my purpose,² he said. ³Iıd be satisfied if I never had to give another ticket again.²
However, when people would roar by Hensonıs car and maintain a high speed, they would get pulled over.
We did give two citations for no proof of insurance that day. And I felt as though Henson was being quite generous with the warnings — he gave out speed warnings to everyone we pulled over. The fastest of the day was 55 mph in the 35 mph zone. The motorist claimed he thought the limit was 45. He must have forgotten his corrective lenses since he managed to miss those huge orange and white signs advertising the change.
³Weıre trying to give people a break and the benefit of the doubt,² Henson explained.
I didnıt have the nerve at first to get out of the car and approach the vehicle with Henson. I just stayed in the car and watched from my seat. Henson seemed very nice with his mannerisms.
³You can do your job without being rude to people. I treat people the way I would want to be treated,² he said.
I managed to get out towards the end of the day and snap a couple of shots of a truck we had pulled over that read on the tailgate ³Iım committed to safe driving.²
³Whoıs that?² asked the driver.
³Oh heıs just a reporter, and heıs not too happy that youıre speeding through his town,² said Henson.
Needless to say, this brought the driver to a sweat and extreme discomfort.
The following week, Arcade began issuing tickets and I took time to work the beat with them again. This time I started off with Henson, but finished the day riding with officer Mark Palmer.
The first car to be pulled over while with Henson was a blue Oldsmobile. The lady who was driving was going 57 in the 35 mph zone. She was very unpleasant, but Henson still maintained his Southern hospitality.
He calibrated his radar for her (for those who are wondering, it is done with a tuning fork that is held up in front of the radar gun), wrote her a ticket and told her to have a nice day.
Palmer reported to us that the construction workers were complaining of people running the stop signs when large dump trucks and earth movers were on the verge of crossing the road.
Now, if you run one of those signs and your vehicle happens to come in contact with one of those huge yellow hunks of steel, whoıs going to win?
Itıs an obvious answer that prompted Palmer to keep his car visible in front of the Video Master, hoping to deter people from running the stop sign. After watching Henson ticket five people, I climbed into Palmerıs car and we were off. Palmer had already ticketed 11 people for going 20 miles per hour over the limit and had distributed five warnings. With Palmer, we managed to snag two cars to bring his total to 13 for the day.
Even though all of the cars ticketed for the day were in a work zone, and work zone fines are supposed to be doubled. Arcade, will not actually double the fines until February 16, to give motorists additional time to get used to the change. So until that date, Arcade will be charging the standard fines.
The best ticket we wrote was for someone traveling 65 mph in the work zone. Thatıs 30 mph over the limit, and of course it deserves a ticket.
Contrary to popular belief, the Arcade police will not usually ticket anyone for going 11-16 miles per hour over the limit. They may initiate a traffic stop to give the driver a written or verbal warning.
In addition to working traffic, Arcade does quite a bit of patrolling. They frequently check the businesses and neighborhoods in the city throughout the day as well as answer numerous calls from citizens.
They also perform safety checks on large commercial vehicles, to make sure that theyıre in proper working order and not putting innocent lives in danger.
Last year, Arcade issued 925 speeding tickets. All of the tickets issued were for drivers going 16-24 miles per hour over the limit. Arcade also issued 1,212 written warnings last year and an undocumented number of verbal warnings.
Now, thatıs not as bad as people make it seem. Thousands of cars travel through Arcade each day, and each ticket is for a legitimate reason, to keep people safe. With only an average of 2.5 tickets per day, itıs odd how Arcade got itıs reputation as being a speed trap.
Traffic fines make up 12.653 per cent of Arcadeıs total revenue. The law allows a maximum of 42 per cent of total revenue to be earned by traffic fines.
If you obey simple traffic laws, your chances of getting pulled over are zero. However if you choose not to obey, and youıre in Arcadeıs work zone, then your chances are pretty good.
Charlie Broadwell is a reporter for The Jackson Herald.


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