Burt Prelutsky

Living in L.A., I sometimes think I spend less time sleeping than tied up in traffic. In order that the time spent idling on the freeway shouldn’t be a total loss, I occasionally jot myself a note. After a while, I gather up these random musings just for you. This is such an occasion. No thanks necessary, as I’m sure you’d do the same for me.

To begin with, while listening to somebody on my car radio mention that, thanks to people being more health and diet-conscious than they used to be, 60 is the new 50, and 50 is the new 40, I found myself wondering if these days, a college degree, particularly one in liberal arts, is the new high school diploma.

Next, although I am not as favorably disposed to President Bush as I used to be, I do not understand why so many people who write to me, attacking the man, so frequently allude to the Patriot Act. I invariably write back asking what specific freedoms they have lost over the past few years. Usually, I don’t get an answer. When I do, they mention Big Brother’s listening in on their phone calls. I understand that paranoia is a major malady among liberals, but do these goofballs actually believe that with hundreds of millions of us making billions of calls a day, the FBI is actually monitoring all the insipid gossip we’re exchanging with friends and relatives? Do they honestly believe that Homeland Security cares about their impending hernia operation or who they’re rooting for on “American Idol”? Heck, I can’t even stand listening in on my own calls.

However, when I suggest that with Islamic nuts having declared war on all us heathens, paying close attention to calls to and from such cesspools as Yemen, Iran and Saudi Arabia, strikes me as being quite sensible, I can generally count on the rejoinder’s being Ben Franklin’s old bromide about those who sacrifice liberty for safety deserving neither. That leaves me wondering how these people feel about posted speed limits and red lights at intersections, which severely limit their freedom to drive 95 mph or run down pedestrians. It also makes me curious why these same schnooks never find themselves quoting Franklin on such topics as thrift and keeping early hours.

This brings us to one of my least favorite subjects; namely, other drivers. I’m constantly reminded that before the advent of automatic turn signals, drivers had to master hand signals that indicated if they were preparing to make a turn, slow down or stop. These days, when old-fashioned courtesy of the road has gone the way of Burma Shave signs, to be replaced by often-lethal road rage, I find we no longer have hand signals, only finger signals.