- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2005

Safe and fast

“You can now drive 80 mph — legally — in the state of Texas; 75 in 12 other states, including Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma. Eighteen states, among them California, Michigan and Florida, have raised their upper limit to 70 mph. …

“One can now lawfully drive 15-20 mph faster than the formerly sacrosanct 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL), which Congress repealed … in 1995.

“Prior to 1995, driving at those speeds was ‘speeding,’ even ‘reckless driving.’ … The line was this was necessary for reasons of ‘safety.’ —

“But an interesting thing happened after the NMSL was finally repealed in 1995. Contrary to the line we were being spoon-fed about ‘safety,’ motor vehicle accident and fatality rates actually dropped. … The latest data (for 2004) show yet another decrease — to just 1.46 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

“This is the lowest the nation’s fatality rate has ever been.”

Eric Peters, writing on “Safe at Any Speed,” Tuesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

True stereotype

“Ask anybody what adjective goes best with the word ‘professor,’ and the answer will almost certainly be ‘absent-minded,’ or possibly ‘nutty.’ Popular culture is full of addlebrained academics, whether they be villainous madmen like Professor Morbius in ‘Forbidden Planet’ or Sherlock Holmes’s archenemy Professor Moriarty; crazy cranks like Professor Emmett Brown in ‘Back to the Future,’ or well-meaning but harebrained eccentrics like Professor Brainard in ‘The Absent-Minded Professor’ … or Professor Dumbledore of ‘Harry Potter’ fame.

“Like many stereotypes, that of the forgetful genius is grounded in real life: Think of Einstein with his crazy hair, or John Nash, the tormented mathematician portrayed by Russell Crowe in ‘A Beautiful Mind.’ Eccentric characters seem particularly common in those departments known for the more abstract realms of thought, like mathematics, physics, or, most often, philosophy, the field of notorious oddballs like Ludwig Wittgenstein, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Bertrand Russell. It has often been observed that the more prodigious the intellect, the more it can compromise other aspects of the personality, such as self-awareness and social grace.”

Mikita Brottman, writing on “Nutty Professors,” in the Sept. 16 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education


“John [Lennon] was a demanding lover who insisted that I put him before everything else. …

“I discovered that John’s temper could be frightening. He wanted proof, daily, that he mattered most to me. —

“Stuart Sutcliffe was one of the three people John was closest to. Although he had plenty of cronies, he only really let down his guard with Stuart, me and Paul McCartney. Paul was still at school, but Stuart was at art college with us, and he and I got on well.

“One night John went mad when someone told him Stuart and I were dancing together. …

“Before I could speak he raised his arm and hit me across the face, knocking my head into the pipes that ran down the wall behind me.

“Without a word he walked away, leaving me dazed, shaky and with a sore head.”

Cynthia Lennon, John Lennon’s first wife, in her new memoir, “John,” excerpted in the Sunday Times of London

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