March 12, 2016 -- by Jim Neff








Every once in a while I run across items that interest me and are worthy of passing along to other people. After all, you never know when you might need a tidbit to impress your friends.


I am always interested in the ways our Lansing “run things like a business” government is spending our taxpayer money. Were you aware that the state has “invested” about $11 in 1950s and 1960s-era railcars that Great Lakes Central Railroad purchased for about $114,000 each in 2004? The state has spent $8 million to refurbish the cars and then another $3 million in lease payments. The cars now sit idle in an Owosso railyard and have never been used. The most recent agreement states: “MDOT won't be entitled to any compensation in the event one or more of the cars is sold, unless each sells for a purchase price above $900,000.” New cars cost $1 million, so why would anyone buy a used car for almost the same amount? How's that for an astute business deal? Thought you might like to know. (


While you won't be traveling in those railcars anytime soon, you may drive somewhere on an expressway. If so, only use the left lame for passing. State police note: “Many violators don't realize that the left lane is intended for vehicles that are passing – it's not a travel lane.” To emphasize this: “The State Police Sixth District Headquarters is planning an education and enforcement campaign...State Police troopers assigned to the Rockford and Lakeview posts will be on the lookout for 'south paw drivers' on all major freeways in West Michigan. The enforcement project will run through the end of April. Just thought you might like to know. (


When the police pull you over, if you are a criminal you may want to hide your tattoos. You see, a professor at Michigan State University has created a tattoo database for law enforcement to use in identifying crooks. The system “allows officers to enter photographs of tattoos and have the computer search for similar images in an existing database.” If you are a crook, that snake on your neck may actually bite you. Just thought you might like to know. (


If you do drive somewhere, you may want to steer clear of Arizona. A wet January and a hot February have caused the scorpions to come out early. There are 55 types of scorpions in Arizona. Officials advise you to not leave a baby's crib unprotected, do not get into bed without looking, do not put shoes on without checking, do not go barefoot outside, and do not leave newspapers or magazines laying around (because scorpions like to hide underneath). If you do get stung, it only causes: “...uncoordinated eye movements, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, slurred speech, muscle twitching, restlessness, irritability, respiratory problems and possible respiratory arrest.” Other than that, have fun in the sun. Thought you might like to know. (


Drooling and twitching from a scorpion bite is no fun, but while you are recovering in the hospital you might need something to cheer you up. What-Dog may be just the thing ( This is a web page (also an iPhone and Android app) where you upload a picture of yourself and it tells you what dog you would be (if you were a dog). The results show your picture, the picture of the dog, and a brief description of your (dog) personality. Generating a chuckle is not easy when your eyes are uncontrollably rotating due to scorpion venom, but I thought you might like to know.


Finally, here's a conundrum for you. An Associated Press headline this week said: “Schools find campaign talk conflicts with no-bullies message.” The article observed: “The nasty personal tweets and sound bites of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign are reverberating in classrooms, running counter to the anti-bullying policies that have emerged in recent years.”


I looked up the bullying policy for the Cadillac Area Public Schools, and it states: “Bullying or other aggressive behavior toward a student, whether by other students, staff, or third parties, including Board members, parents, guests, contractors, vendors, and volunteers, is strictly prohibited. This prohibition includes written, physical, verbal, and psychological abuse, including hazing, gestures, comments, threats, or actions to a student, which cause or threaten to cause bodily harm, reasonable fear for personal safety or personal degradation....Demonstration of appropriate behavior, treating others with civility and respect, and refusing to tolerate harassment or bullying is expected of administrators, faculty, staff, and volunteers to provide positive examples for student behavior.” Later, the consequences for violating this policy is stated, part of which says: “...will result in prompt and appropriate remedial action. This may include up to expulsion for students...”


So, here's the question. If the Republican candidates were running for class president at a CAPS school, would their actions and words have resulted in their expulsion from school? Or, in other words, should we, as a country, expect the same level of behavior from our potential leaders as we expect from our children? Thought our children might like to know the answer.

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Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and



Bruce Plante
Tulsa World
Mar 9, 2016
Rob Rogers
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Feb 19, 2016