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 OPINION PAGE - DEC. 8, 1999 - DANIELSVILLE, GA

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Column
By Ben Munro
The Madison County Journal
December 8, 1999

Lazy college days
So much for higher education.
The four years that follow your high school days are supposed to be the years when you prepare yourself for that push out into the real world. It's the last stepping stone in your formative years before you are cut loose from all assistance that you have received in a sheltered two decades of life.
A "career" of schooling comes down to this.
Some swim - others just sink.
Right now, in my junior year at UGA, I hate to say it, but it looks like I'm starting to head into the same direction that the Titanic went.
I have fallen victim to the lethargic attitude that can invade you in college if you're not careful.
During your first 12 years of school, you've always got someone looking over your shoulder, steering you in the right direction, reminding you, pestering you and so on to make sure you stay on the focused path.
But once in college, you're pretty much your own boss since you're out of the house and set your own schedule.
Freshman year is not too bad. You're scared to be in a new environment so you are too paranoid to let yourself slide too much. But by the time sophomore year has rolled around, you've got the situation figured out.
And if you're like me, once you are in that glorious third year of higher learning, you might as well have "slacker" branded on your forehead.
It's such an easy rut to fall into. You decide what you do with your time. And I don't always make the brightest decisions.
Video games and two-hand touch football seem to have taken the place of that all-important study time. One day of hanging around the apartment watching Sportscenter with everyone seems to blend monotonously in with the next.
All the while the workload piles up and the due dates near, making that last minute all the more sacred.
"Study? Yeah, right. Not when I know that WWF Monday Night RAW is coming on in 10 minutes."
"Oh and yeah, I'll start on that report that's due tomorrow right after I play one more game of NCAA College Football on the PlayStation."
"Gee, could it be that my priorities may be just a bit out of whack? Naaaaaaah."
These are the thoughts that seem to be bouncing around my head these days.
However, the reality of your problem sets in when you get that report back and cringe at all the red ink your professor's pen has bled all over your half-hearted effort.
And before you know it, finals week is just right around the corner, and that eight-page research paper that you've known about for three months is due on Friday. That's when the mad scramble ensues as 14 weeks of living the good life gives way to a week of intense cramming.
With this comes some pretty profound revelations too.
"Man....... maybe I shouldn't have been going to all those parties and playing those video games during all those weekdays."
So, all MCHS seniors and those of you in your freshman year of college - take heed of my warnings. I was as conscientious as they came when I was in high school. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you. Don't follow this path.
So now I've got all sorts of New Year's resolutions to make in an effort to salvage the sinking ship that is my grade point average. And I've said it many times before, but next semester is GOING to be different - or will it?
Maybe I'll wise up one day.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.


Letter
The Madison County Journal
December 8, 1999

Applauds BOC for decision on tarp, zoning issues
Dear Editor:
The Madison County commissioners are to be commended for two recent decisions which, in the intermediate term, will make Madison County a better place to live.
The tarp ordinance, which mandates trash on pickup trucks en route to the transfer station to be covered or otherwise secured, is a first step toward reducing the county's perennial problem with roadside litter. This rule, if properly enforced, will reduce the likelihood of trash being accidentally dislodged during transit. However, a more comprehensive approach is needed to tackle the problem of willful dumping (primarily of beer cans, soda bottles and fast food packaging), which is arguably the most important contributor to roadside trash in the county. This would require, among other things, stricter enforcement of existing anti-littering laws. For example, I have yet to see anyone having been cited for littering in the Madison County Journal's weekly police blotter. In addition, sustained educational efforts will be needed. It always amazes me to see how little pride some individuals take in their community and their environment.
The decision to deny a recent request for rezoning on Booger Hill Road, which would have allowed placement of a trailer in what is strictly a residential neighborhood, must also be seen as a step in the right direction. Undoubtedly, affordable housing in the form of trailers is and will continue to be important in Madison County. However, simply put, good zoning practice is all about allocating the right type of development to the right environment. Intelligent land use planning, which includes the spatial separation of different types of developments, will become even more important as Madison County continues to grow, particularly if we are to avoid the haphazard sprawl that has characterized growth in so many other communities in northeastern Georgia. Regrettably, the Booger Hill case has been overshadowed by anonymous threats toward the rezoning applicant, presumably by one or more of her "neighbors," prior to the commissioners' decision; certainly a troubling thought. Nevertheless, the decision to deny the rezoning was correct in principle. Those who argue that land owners should be allowed to use their property in whatever way they deem appropriate should be reminded of a classic statement by John Stuart Mill, one of the foremost defenders of individual liberty against the interference of both society and state: "The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people."
Sincerely,
Harald Scherm
Danielsville

Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
December 8, 1999

Frankly Speaking

A more informed
legislator is a
better one
A story moved on the Associated Press this week that describes a computer class being conducted at the University of Georgia for state legislators. Believe it or not, Georgia has purchased a new laptop computer for each of our state senators and state representatives. The problem is that many of them didn't even know how to turn a computer on!
Now you must remember that we, in our wisdom, often choose more experienced people to represent us in the state legislature. In other words, they tend to be somewhat older than the average computer nerd. Many of them still have a slide rule stuck in the back of a desk drawer (that is where mine is). Tackling a computer is the equivalent of teaching old dogs new tricks. However, most of them are enthusiastic about the program.
Rep. Garland Pinholster (R-Ball Ground) was quoted as saying that he is delighted with the motivation. I would probably never have done it if I hadn't had to, he said.
The most senior Georgia legislator is 81-year-old Sen. Hugh Gillis (D-Soperton), who has been a lawmaker for 51 years. He plans to take the course along with most of the other members who are not computer literate.
Legislators will use the new computers to read bills being considered in the legislature. They will be able to almost instantly obtain copies of proposed amendments, exchange e-mail messages with each other and outside advisors on legislation, check the Internet to see what other states have done, and if the debates on the floor are overly boring, surf the Internet for more interesting material.
That last part has a few leaders concerned. I am not.
Most of our legislators go to Atlanta to do a job. In order to properly represent their constituents, they have to be informed about all votes they take. If they neglect their legislative duties, we the voters will simply replace them!
Rather, by being more informed, having the ability to find needed documents quickly, and having a more rapid method of communicating with constituents, these computers will make them considerably more effective as representative of we the people.
Over time, as legislators become comfortable with the computers, the state will have to spend less money printing every document on paper for distribution. This reduction in cost could easily pay for the machines, making them a good investment.
Over time, as the legislative staff develops their programs, we the voters will be able to access the records generated by these machines to see how our representatives vote on issues vital to us, and to let them know how we feel about their actions.
It is good to see the Georgia legislature finally move into the 20th century, even if it is about 20 days before it ends, as Rep. Pinholster said. (Perhaps he can use his new computer to discover that the century has another year to run.)
I usually object to new spending plans by government agencies. But this one will pay real dividends. With these new computers, we the people will be better represented in the Georgia legislature.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.


Column
By Adam Fouche
The Madison County Journal
December 8, 1999

Wanted: One exorcist
A group of University of Georgia scientists recently informed me of several cases of cars being possessed. At first, I laughed. Then, I pointed at the scientists and I laughed some more. Now, however, I am not laughing. My car has been possessed too.
This whole thing upsets me. I like my car; we get along great. For those of you who don't know (and if you already know then you must be my stalker, which would really be cool because I could...wait...that's another column), I drive a Thunderbird Super Coupe. It's a good car.
My car, which my friends and I named T-Bird for no apparent reason, is a powerful, supercharged driving machine with a sleek and stylish interior that gives it a comfortable ride.
Anyway, T-Bird and I were united back in August, after my other car was totaled (not my fault). Since then, my mechanic has had my car longer than I have, and it isn't fair. In fact, I'm having a key made especially for them.
To help you better understand my frustrations and to give support for my possession theory, I would like to offer a short history of T-Bird's repairs so far:
·Visit one - The transmission exploded fluid everywhere while I was driving. It was rebuilt shortly before I bought the car, so all transmission work has been free. According to my mechanic, everything was fine with the transmission. (Except for the fact it explodes transmission fluid!)
·Visit two - The transmission was slipping. Of course, when I got the car to the shop, it had stopped slipping. They didn't do any work to it because there still was nothing wrong with it. (Except for the fact it was slipping!)
·Visit three - The head gaskets were blown. Also, the radiator had a bad core, and my particular radiator is on national backorder. However, I was able to find one in Tampa, Fla., nearly a week later. I was without my car for almost two weeks. I wasn't happy.
·Visit four - The transmission was slipping. This time, they took out the transmission and did some work to it. When they put it
continued on page 5A
back in, it still slipped. They took it apart again, and I think they did some kind of dance around it and chanted to it to expel the bad spirits because they don't really know what is wrong with it.
·Visit five - The transmission was acting strange, mainly because my car is possessed. I saw a mechanic brandish a wrench and stick it under the hood. I don't know if he really did anything, but it was sufficient to satisfy me.
·Visit six - The transmission was slipping, again. They took it apart , only this time they did not dance around it or chant to it. They just poked it several times with a screwdriver until they were satisfied that they still had no idea what was wrong with it.
·Visit seven - Some bushings were gone. That's right. Bushings. Bushings that were attached between two parts. Bushings that could not have fallen off. The bushings just disappeared. Some new ones were put in though, but they've probably since disappeared.
·Visit eight - Gas was coming out of the bottom of my car. As I said before, the car is possessed. I am convinced the gas leak was its way of trying to scare me. Conveniently for the mechanic, however, the leak was caused by a "bad fuel pump." Yea, like I believe that.
·Visit nine - Brake fluid is leaking. No, wait, it isn't leaking. A leak is something you see. A leak leaves fluid on the ground. The brake fluid in my car is just disappearing, probably to the same place the other sock always goes.
There has yet to be a visit 10, but my transmission is still slipping. Also, the battery went dead not too long ago.
I'm a little worried about taking my car back to my mechanic. I don't think they are qualified to exercise the demons, which is what it really needs. But if you know of a good exorcist, let me know. I am in the market for one.
In the meantime, I'll be waiting here, waiting for someone to jump off my possessed car.
Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.



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