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Darts and laurels

Dart to the decision to take down the “Dale Trail” banners in Kannapolis at the request of the developers of the N.C. Research Center.
This may be the most boneheaded marketing move since the introduction of New Coke. It wasn’t intended to be a slap in the face of the Earnhardt legacy, but officials with Castle & Cook, the city of Kannapolis and the Cabarrus Convention and Visitors Bureau should have foreseen it would be interpreted that way. Like the song says ó you don’t tug on Superman’s Cape, you don’t spit into the wind, and you definitely don’t diss Dale Earnhardt in his hometown.
“The Intimidator” is both a local hero and an international sports celebrity. Would Kannapolis be ditching its banners if we were talking about Babe Ruth ó or Tiger Woods? Since David Murdock commissioned the Earnhardt statue in Cannon Village, you’d think the billionaire visionary and his associates understand how deeply many folks feel about this ó not all of them race fans. The Research Center may yield wonderful benefits in health and nutrition, but guys in white lab coats will never inspire the passions aroused by the “Man in Black.”
Rather than try to downplay the Earnhardt connection, smart marketing people would capitalize on it and find a happy convergence that marries a future staked on science with a past rich in racing legend. They should have left the banners up ó and persuaded Dale Jr. to pick up that “special guest” in a jet black limo with “No. 3” prominently displayed on its side.
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Laurels to Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens for lending some gale-force support to the call for greater development of wind turbines to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. When an oilman with Pickens’ clout makes that kind of pitch before Congress, you know the energy winds are shifting. Now, we have to get beyond the “not in my backyard” mentality that favors alternative energy sources just so long as they’re implemented in another county, state or continent.
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Dart to an incipient move in Congress to lower the speed limit to 55 (yet again) or maybe 60 on interstate highways. Viewed strictly from a fuel conservation standpoint, it makes sense. Most vehicles get better gas mileage at speeds lower than 60. But ó been there, done that ó and we don’t need an act of Congress to make slower driving possible. Drivers are already free to drive 55, and in fact, that’s what a lot of conservation-minded motorists are doing. Rather than micro-managing speed limits, Congress should focus on expanding incentives for Americans who buy hybrid vehicles and developing a longterm strategic blueprint for energy independence.

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