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We read in the daily paper that a deputy sheriff in Faulkner County had pulled over a motorist for failure to use a turn signal. We wouldn’t have been more surprised had we read that the deputy had captured a rustler or a claim jumper. People don’t use turn signals anymore, except for a few geezers who’ll be gone soon enough. Signaling a turn has become uncool, and nothing kills deader than uncoolness. The Observer was waiting the other day to pull out of a grocery store shopping lot when another driver slowed in the street, apparently intending to turn left into the lot. He couldn’t bring himself to advertise his intention with turn signals, though. Instead, he made little feinting movements with the front end of his car.

As one who remembers when a driver had to roll down the window and stick his arm out to signal a turn, The Observer has always considered turn signals a great advancement, a triumph for civility and common sense. Those things seem to count for little now, especially if they interfere with a driver’s use of his cell phone. Evidently, someone in Faulkner County still believes that people should be safe and good-mannered drivers. It’s a radical notion, unlikely to catch on.

The abstractly puckered stone sculpture on the Statehouse Convention Center plaza at Scott and Markham streets was given the old heave-ho last week and moved to Riverfront Park’s new playground.

It was an aesthetically correct move, in that the sculpture, a puffy monolith, had been encroached on by the new Korean temple built to commemorate taekwondo. A crowd gathered to watch lift-off of the 8-ton sculpture last week, some of them laying bets that it would crack in two when the lift operator shifted it from its upright position on a flatbed truck to its side. The truck driver who would haul the sculpture to Riverfront Park was dubious. But the operator succeeded; the sculpture survived with only a few gouges.

The sculpture was made in situ by Joseph Buchanan as a public art project for children. Puckered, did we say? As the sculpture took form, chisel strike by chisel strike, an impression that can be best described as a pucker appeared. Then a sphere was stuck in the pucker. Like a stopper. We’ll let it rest at that.

The children will love it.

If you feel a sudden need for legal scholarship, or if — heaven forbid — you long to be a lawyer yourself, the telephone company has made it easier. The 2007 edition of AT&T’s Little Rock-North Little Rock directory includes a listing for the law school.

Last year’s phone book contained the usual large segment devoted to numbers at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, but the law school was inadvertently omitted. We suspected that the people who support “tort reform” were somehow involved, though this was never confirmed.

No lawsuits were filed over the omission, so far as we know (although dissatisfaction was expressed by law school representatives), but the mistake was not repeated this year. At the bottom of the UALR listings, wearing capital letters and its imposing full name, there it is — the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law. We won’t run out of lawyers after all.

The Observer has been hearing a lot lately about Second Life, a website that offers you, the public, the chance to say what you want to say, be what you want to be, go where you want to go — virtually. The subject came up during a conversation about addictions; getting a Second Life life has apparently joined the evils of cyber-crack World of Warcraft.

Second Life was described by The Observer’s younger and more hip colleague as “the next step up from chat rooms,” a user-generated 3-D world. It’s a step up on the pocketbook as well — people are paying real money to own virtual real estate in this virtual world. That should be unreal estate, we’d think, but hey, we’re having trouble meeting ends in our First Life, so the idea of paying for an island or a lot or a big old spread that exists only electronically with greenbacks you could be using to buy, say, the week’s groceries strikes us as odd.

Tell us more. Write The Observer at or respond to this column on the Times’ own virtual expression,


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