Reach out and, like touch someone


Down in fast-growing Southern Maryland, with its luxurious bedroom communities, you're talking affluent suburban lifestyle. You're talking new houses and new families. You're talking roads congested with Beamers and Mercedeses, Lexuses and Accuras. And those are just the high school students.

And the high school students have cellular phones, see. But what's the point of having one if you can't use it? So there's a bill in the General Assembly to allow the use of cellular phones in students' cars on school grounds and, with a principal's permission, even in school buildings. I know this sounds like something out of "Beverly Hills 90210," but it actually comes from the Charles County delegation to Annapolis.

The bill would make a distinction between cellular phones and pagers, both of which are prohibited on school property by state law. The Charles County proposal would allow cellular phones "to facilitate communication between the student and the student's parent or guardian." (Like, you know, they're, like, only gonna use the cell phone to, like, call home.)

A list of reactions

Amazing calls to Sean Casey and Frank Luber on WCBM Monday, the morning after NBC's telecast of "Schindler's List." Seems the occasional use of a vulgar word by a homicidal Nazi and the frontal nudity of actors cast as Jews on the way to concentration camps offended some viewers. They actually picked up the telephone to complain about it.

In Los Angeles, an NBC spokesman said just a "handful" of viewers called the network in response to the showing, and only about half of them complained about the film's content. Perhaps small minds aren't capable of appreciating the big picture. How else to explain someone complaining that their sensibilities were disturbed - not by Steven Spielberg's staggering depiction of the century's most staggering horror but by foul language and nudity? I Spielberg, NBC and the Ford Motor Co. deserve laurels for their respective roles in the telecast. I don't know if it has been noted anywhere, but 3 hours of virtually commercial-free network programming - devoted to the Holocaust - struck me as television history. Some 65 million Americans watched "Schindler's List" Sunday night, twice the number that had seen the 1994 film in theaters. Good.

'Roots' rerun

Twice as many Americans - 130 million of us - were estimated to have watched the 12-hour mini-series, "Roots," based on the Alex Haley novel, when it aired in 1977. It was the highest-rated series of all time. The History Channel is offering it in this final week of Black History Month. But, given the phenomenal success of "Roots," I wonder why ABC, the network that produced it, hasn't offered a 20th anniversary telecast, even in condensed form.

No lunatics need apply

The charming town of Sykesville is gearing up for municipal elections May 6. The local newsletter lists six criteria for qualifying as a voter, including the standard age, citizenship and residence requirements. The town's century-old code adds a few more qualifiers, including one that a voter can't be "under guardianship as a lunatic." Those convicted of buying or selling votes, larceny or other infamous crimes also cannot vote - unless they get a pardon from Parris Glendening first.

Helping or hurting?

I understand and accept U.S. District Judge Frederic Smalkin's impeccable legal reasoning in his ruling that favored the Sons of the Confederacy over the state Motor Vehicle Administration. If you understand "equal protection," it was a no-brainer.

Still, it's sad that men fight so vigorously to keep their symbol on public display, no matter how or whom it offends.

"What it comes down to for me," said a caller to TJI, "is the question: Is what I'm doing helping or hurting? Am I, by my actions, helping society grow, making things better? Or am I just hurting someone else who lives in the community with me? That's how I answer the question about [license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag]. But hey, that's just me."

Angelos' oral argument

If Peter Angelos keeps opening his mouth about the September expectoration in Toronto and depicting John Hirschbeck as the villain, we might end up with a sequel: "The Umpire Spits Back." I It's Wednesday. In Boston, this is Prince Spaghetti Day. In Baltimore, it's chicken pot pie day at the Sip & Bite. I What a stunning surprise that John Paterakis gets the nod to develop a hotel (with millions in federal funds) at Inner Harbor East! To use the words of the governor of Maryland: "I'm shocked!"

Smart growth, dumb sprawl

He's got that right: A state planning official, presenting the governor's "Smart Growth" initiative to a community group in Carroll County last week, made his pitch to control sprawl. "We are living with somebody's vision from the '60's, where everyone has large side and front yards," said Ron Young, state deputy director of planning.

"That would be the John Deere vision," said Nimrod Davis of Eldersburg.

Smile when you say that

You know those ornamental flags you see fluttering from houses, often around a holiday? The other day, on Lake Avenue, between Roland and Charles, we passed one with a giant yellow smiley face. It was flying from a flag pole, no less. Should we have saluted? If so, how?

Pub Date: 2/26/97

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