Joe Kirby: Lights, Longevity, LaLanne
by Joe Kirby
Columnist
January 30, 2011 12:00 AM | 978 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Every driver has seen the signs that warn, "Speed Checked by Radar Devices." They are good, cost-effective ways of encouraging drivers to slow down, whether that particular stretch of road is actually being targeted by radar at that moment or not.

One of the latest trends in traffic enforcement is the "red-light camera," high atop a telephone poll, which snaps pictures 24 hours a day of vehicles that run red lights illegally. Such cameras were the subject of a story in Sunday's MDJ, "Mayor, council members laud technology for making roads safer."

Officials say the cameras are only mounted at the busiest intersections and argue they have caused a drop in motor vehicle accidents. Their critics say the main reason for the cameras is to generate fines for local government coffers. The truth probably is somewhere in between.

But as someone who, like most of us, sometimes drives too fast, and who on occasion has gunned through an intersection as the light was changing from yellow to red - and who has gotten two tickets thus far thanks to red-light cameras, here's an idea: Why not post signs near the intersections where the cameras are installed; signs that would warn motorists that such cameras are in use? Something along the lines of "Inter-section Monitored by Red-Light Cameras."

That way, motorists would know before entering the intersection that they needed to slow down - or run the risk of a ticket. Yes, drivers are supposed to do that anyway, but wouldn't such signs encourage more of us to slow down? Moreover, the recipients of such tickets would know they "had it coming," rather than feeling ambushed.

A cynic might even say that the city's refusal to put up such signs would be further evidence that the reason for the cameras is to generate fines - not enhance safety. Stay tuned.

***
SO HERSCHEL WALKER is thinking about returning to the NFL? More power to him, I say. So what if he's 48? As you can see from the accompanying picture, he looks to be in better shape than most of the 28-year-olds in the NFL. He says he wants to be "the George Foreman of football." If there's a 48-year-old in the country who could fulfill that role, it's Walker.

On the other hand, keep in mind that Walker has been retired from the gridiron for 13 years, and that he wasn't exactly setting the league on fire his final three years. Still, if Walker can handle mixed martial arts - his second fight was scheduled for last night (he won his first) - the demands of pro football should be a walk in the park.

Walker told reporters last week his preference would be to play for either the Minnesota Vikings or the Atlanta Falcons. Well, the Vikings had a 41-year-old quarterback this season (Brett Favre) and we all know how that turned out.

Herschel probably was just trying to coattail onto the Super Bowl media blitz to get some extra publicity for his fight. But give him his due, both as an athlete and for his public relations savvy.

***
AND SPEAKING OF ATHLETICS, many of us Baby Boomers got our first exposure to personal fitness training via the TV shows aired each morning in the late 1950s and early '60s starring Jack LaLanne, who passed on last week at age 96. No Nautilus machines for him. No disco music pulsing in the background. No Richard Simmons hyperventilating. Just Jack, with only a chair, a towel and a broomstick for exercise tools, showing viewers (including my mother, who never found an exercise regime that she couldn't happily give up after a few days) all kinds of exercises.

LaLanne's feats of fitness included swimming the cold, treacherous currents from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco at age 60 while towing a 1,000 pound boat - and with his hands and feet shackled. That was followed by a mile-and-a-half swim through Long Beach Harbor in southern California at age 70 while towing 70 boats carrying a total of 70 people. Clearly, this was a guy who liked showing off his physical prowess just as much as Herschel Walker does.

Now, he's up in heaven, no doubt trying to persuade St. Peter and the angels to do jumping jacks and deep-knee bends. I hope he has more luck with them than he did with my mother.

***
FROM EAST COBB political cartoonist Marshall Ramsey, now of Mississippi (and an MDJ alum) comes this: "In a land of breast implants, padded resumes, athletes on steroids & crooked CEOS, we're mad at Taco Bell for possible meat filler?"

Joe Kirby is Editorial Page Editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and co-author of the new 'Then & Now: Marietta Revisited.'
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