Monday, August 31, 2009

Our Little Minds

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American essayist, philosopher and poet of the 19th century, has among the quotes attributed to him this one:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

We hope that we do not have little minds, but we admit that we strive for consistency when processing your badge orders. We do not think that this is a foolish consistency. We want the badges that you order today to be consistent with those you have ordered previously, so we obsess about the details.

This is why in some cases we will tend to ask a lot of questions, to verify the details of your badge, to ensure that your expectations are met. If you specify a change in badge design or detail from what has gone before, we want to make certain that it is intentional.

Emerson’s complete quote is A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. We do not know whether the little statesmen and philosophers and divines adore our badges, but we hope that our customers appreciate the effort we put into making their badges in a consistent fashion.

Friday, August 28, 2009

W. P. Might Be Sufficient

Do you know where Woodland Park is? A lot of people do not, but this is mostly because the borough of Woodland Park, New Jersey, has existed only since January of this year. That’s when the former West Paterson was officially renamed.

The name change came about as a result of a borough-wide vote last November. But the vote was close – 2,136 to 2,111 – a margin sufficiently small that opponents of the name change have been successful in placing the question on this November’s ballot, again. Woodland Park might become West Paterson once more.

The town has already spent money to change signs and the lettering on police cars and municipal vehicles. If the name reverts, those signs and vehicles will have to be re-done. We suggest that they be re-done simply as W.P. so as to survive future changes of heart.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

There are Three

The man in the photo is not Jon Corzine nor Chris Christie, yet he is a candidate for governor of New Jersey this November.

Incumbent Corzine (D) and challenger Christie (R) are, predictably enough, getting all the attention. But this man is in the race, too.

He is Chris Daggett, an independent candidate who has gained just enough traction to have qualified for entry into the debates and to have received at least one major endorsement (the Sierra Club) and a number of minor ones.

Like all third-party or independent candidates, his chances of winning are negligible. So, while the Corzine-Christie campaign has become a mud-fest, the only real criticism of Daggett so far has been that his chances of winning are negligible.

Most of the attention given Daggett is speculative, about whether his role as a "spoiler" will have a larger effect on Corzine or Christie. Corzine is not a particularly popular incumbent, and Christie is not a particularly galvanizing alternative.

Daggett may in fact be a credible candidate, but even if he is able to further raise his profile in the coming weeks, he is likely to remain a doomed candidate.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Two Ordinary Guys

Meet Ed Beedenbender, left, and Rich McInerney, who work at RCM Automotive Service Inc., in Ronkonkoma, New York. These two men used fire extinguishers from their shop to prevent flames from engulfing a victim in a burning vehicle earlier this year. The driver had lost control of the vehicle, which hit a tree and burst into flames.

The victim was airlifted to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, but it seems likely that the selfless action of these two ordinary guys saved a life.

Two ordinary guys? Maybe. But we think of people like Ed and Rich whenever someone cavalierly uses the word "hero" to describe a sports star.

(Photo by James Carbone / Newsday)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Oh, Brother

Yup, it has happened again. Two brothers and a gun.

Only a few weeks ago, we blogged about a pair of brothers who, during an argument, shot and wounded each other. Not long thereafter, we blogged about another pair of brothers who, again during an argument, got a gun involved. Now this:

Two brothers were shot by the same bullet that discharged from a pistol one of the brothers was cleaning, according to a Manatee (Florida) Sheriff’s Office report.

This story, published in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, continued to report that while the 17-year-old brother removed the magazine from the 9mm weapon, he did not clear the chamber. As he tried to remove the gun’s slide, he pressed the trigger. The bullet went through his leg and struck the leg of his 20-year-old brother.

At least in this episode, there was probably no argument until after the gunfire.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Edison and Edison

Edison Township in New Jersey is named for its most famous former resident, Thomas A. Edison, the prolific inventor credited with, among other things, incandescent light and recorded sound. These are but two. During his lifetime, Edison patented more than 1,000 inventions!

Thomas Edison was born in Ohio, grew up Michigan, and during his most inventive years he conducted his work at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Menlo Park today sits within the Township of Edison. Edison Township is one of The Badge Company of New Jersey's customers for police badges.

A common misconception is that Edison’s lab at Menlo Park was his own small shop. Not at all. The laboratory at Menlo Park was an "invention factory" and was run as a business, with a good-sized staff.

Still another source of confusion is the fact that Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory is no longer located in New Jersey. In the 1920s, automobile pioneer Henry Ford reconstructed the buildings at his museum in Dearborn, Michigan. But there is a museum and commemorative tower at the original Menlo Park site. Check it out at

You can learn a great deal more about Thomas Edison at the Henry Ford Museum’s site,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Endless Supply

We have always enjoyed "stupid criminal" stories. Since joining The Badge Company of New Jersey in 2007 we have come to appreciate that there is an endless supply of them. Our local newspaper, newspaper clippings sent to us by friends and associates, web postings and more. Here are just three:

> A woman who ran a small store called the police to tell them that she had been robbed at the bank night depository. She did not know that the bank had cameras trained on the night deposit box, and they got great pictures of her car stopping, her getting out and waiting, her brother's car pulling up, her handing the bag to him, then both of them driving off in their separate cars.

> Police arrested a man who was trying to cash a check made out for $360 billion. He claimed that his girlfriend’s mother gave him the money.

> A man checked into a motel in the afternoon, then later that night robbed the same motel. The police found him in his motel room counting the cash. He didn't wear a mask, he just didn't think that the clerk would remember him.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Like a Complete Unknown

By now you’ve heard the story, which broke on Friday:

New Jersey Homeowner Calls Cops on Bob Dylan

Dylan was detained by a police officer in Long Branch last month when, while taking an anonymous stroll, he reportedly wandered into the yard of a house with a "for Sale sign" on it. The occupants of the home became spooked by his appearance and called police with a report of an "eccentric-looking old man" in their yard.

What made it news was the fact that the 24-year-old officer Kristie Buble, who responded to the call, did not recognize him. But we would like to come to the young officer’s defense: We probably would not have recognized him, either, and we are a lot older than she.

Further, at least she did know who Bob Dylan was, something we are not so sure we could have said had we, at age 24, encountered an aging singer who topped the charts four decades earlier.

But it is a reminder that what is relevant to each generation is not necessary even on the radar of other generations. Give officer Buble credit: She followed procedure, she treated Mr Dylan respectfully, and there was, to use the cliche, no harm no foul.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Do You Know This Face?

The accompanying photo taken by Michael Karas of The Record of Bergen County shows Fair Lawn Police detective Michael Uttel holding a clay cast of a face, reconstructed by a State Police anthropologist to aid in identifying a badly-decomposed body.

A report in the newspaper said that the body had no remaining fingerprints and no remaining facial features when it was recovered three years ago. But scientist Donna Fontana, a specialist in extracting evidence from the most ravaged of human remains, built upon the man's skull and a full set of dentures that were still in his head to cast this detailed model. Every feature was carefully recast, the curve of the nose, the jut of the brow, the lines around the eyes.

Detective Uttel said that the bones were all they had, according to the newspaper. No other evidence, no witnesses. That set of dentures had no serial number, indicating that they were either manufactured before American dentures were printed with numbers or made in another country. The only clothing on the body when it was discovered was one black sock and one shoe that was several sizes too large for the victim’s foot.

The clay cast is a new tool that the police hope will help solve this mystery of who that man was, and how he died. If a relative steps forward, DNA samples can be compared.

On the popular crime-solving television series of today, computer models provide key information in a matter of minutes. In the real world, it does not work that quickly. But the modern marvels of investigative tools are out there, and this facial reconstruction is among them.

Friday, August 14, 2009


This weekend, we are seeing much to-do about the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, but we are reminded of a very different 40th anniversary by the news that Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was released from prison today.

Fromme has been in jail since 1975 for an assassination attempt on then-president Gerald Ford, but we associate her far more with the gruesome Tate-LaBianca murders. These slaughters began on August 9, 1969, with the killings of actress Sharon Tate and four others at Tate’s home in the Hollywood hills, and continued the next night with the cold-blooded murders of Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary.

The seven victims were chosen at random by the followers of Charles Manson – and Squeaky Fromme was one of those followers. She was not one of the followers convicted of the murders but she was a vocal defender of Manson and has restated her support numerous times over the years. She even escaped from prison in 1987, reportedly to be closer to Manson.

Fromme’s parole appears to have come about simply because, under the laws applicable to her case, parole is mandatory. But we have yet to see any reports concerning where she will go or what post-incarceration supervision she will have – and we have seen nothing to give us any assurance that she does not still pose a threat to others.

Why do we care? Because only months before Fromme’s incident with President Ford, we had read Ed Sanders’ book, The Family, about Manson, and then Vincent Bugliosi’s book, Helter Skelter, about the murders. Both books stick with us to this day. Every photo we have ever seen of Fromme shows the vacant look in here eyes that both books chronicled. She’s creepy. And she’s out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cash for (Badge) Clunkers

Your old car is not the only thing that has a trade-in value. Long before the government’s current "Cash for Clunkers" program, The Badge Company of New Jersey offered a trade-in program for old badges. We still do.

Yes, your old, scratched and beat-up badge can be traded in for a brand-new badge. That's right, you don't have to keep carrying a worn-out badge, you can trade it in for a new one.

Here's how it works: We'll give you 20% off the catalog price of your new badge when you trade in your old badge. The only "catch" is that the new badge must be the same style and type as the old one, with the same engraving, seal, and attachment.

Whether it is one badge or an entire department’s, the trade-in program applies.

Our badges carry a lifetime warranty but ordinary wear and tear is not covered by the warranty. Many badges sent to us for repair aren't broken, they're damaged and worn out. So in order to make it easier to replace a badge that has served its purpose, we offer this trade-in program.

What if you have a badge that didn't come from The Badge Company of New Jersey originally? We'll still accept it in trade toward a new badge of the same fundamental style and type.

Remember, it's 20% off the catalog price of your new badge when you trade in your old one. For an exact quote, contact our office.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Old Weapon

Delaware State Police are, as of this morning, investigating four attacks in which bicyclists or joggers have been wounded by blow-darts in Wilmington this week.

Blow darts!

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the victims were hit by identical 4-inch-long darts like the one in the above photo, according to Delaware State Police Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh.

The series of attacks began Monday evening when a woman riding her bicycle was hit in the lower part of her back with a blow dart, and continued with two other bicyclists and a jogger being struck through Tuesday afternoon.

One of the victims suffered an injury to his hand sufficient to will require surgery.

There is nothing funny about this, yet it crossed our minds that when the dart shooter is caught, authorities should stick it to him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We're Number Two!

Humorist Jean Shepherd once wrote that all drivers, no matter where they live, think that the worst drivers are those from the neighboring state. Well, in New Jersey, it turns out that this assumption is correct. Unfortunately, while the worst drivers come from across the border, the second-worst are home-grown.

According to this year's GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test, the worst drivers were those from New York State. New Jersey was a close second. Michigan and Indiana drivers emerged as best in the survey. New York City drivers, however, are described as "being under special circumstances."

More alarming may be the statistic that more than 20% of licensed Americans would not pass a written drivers test exam if taken today. That means that there are roughly 41 million drivers who generally don’t know what they’re doing. You will find some of them in every state.

Think that you are not among them? Well, try taking the test yourself. It can be found at

Friday, August 7, 2009

Brotherly Love, Again

Recently we blogged about two brothers who shot each other during an argument. Apparently, drawing a gun on one’s brother is more common that we thought. Today the Associated Press distributed the following story:

Shotgun Drawn after Fight over Sandwich

Bridgewater -- Police in New Jersey said a shotgun was brandished after two brothers argued about a sandwich for their mother.

Police said the argument began in the kitchen of Anthony Pilla's Bridgewater house, where the mother lives. It escalated when Pilla's brother threw his cap and glasses at the 49-year-old.

According to an affidavit, Pilla went to the basement and returned with a loaded shotgun. Police said the brothers wrestled, Pilla dropped the shotgun and their mother took it out of the house.

Pilla is charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Monopoly Card Won’t Work

Here in Hunterdon County, home county of The Badge Company of New Jersey, inmates in the County Jail will soon be paying the county $50 for booking them.

The plan is for the county to collect the fee upon the inmate's release, whether that comes because they've posted bail or completed their sentence. This according to George Wagner, county director of Public Safety, who proposed the idea. Many of New Jersey's jails collect such a fee, he told the county freeholders this week. The $50 charge, he said, "would bring us in parity with some of our sister counties."

The booking fee is just one of several measures the county freeholders adopted this week to help the county in these tight fiscal times. They also voted to increase healthcare co-pays for jail inmates to $10 per doctor visit and $10 for prescription medications, and at the same time they voted to increase their own health benefits co-pay from 1% to 2.5% of their salaries.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another Historic Business Closes

After 125 years – 125 years! – Tattersall Building Supplies in Trenton is closing its retail operation. Next Friday, August 14, will be the last day that the store is open. It saddens us to see such an historic enterprise go away.

In truth, it is just the retail business that is going away. The owners are still going to conduct online tool sales (see ) and they are going to continue to operate two additional business enterprises, Firehawk Industries, which makes industrial cleaning equipment, and Brutus Rollers LLC, which makes power rollers for tennis court construction and maintenance.

These latter two products are ones with which we have considerable familiarity, because when we began working part-time in our college years we worked in the plant that manufactured them. Firehawk was called Northeast Industries originally, and its roots go back “only” to 1958. Brutus Rollers began at Midland Products in 1954 before moving to Northeast Industries.

While we can take some solace in the fact that these two manufacturing enterprises, each more than 50 years old, are continuing, it is nonetheless disappointing to see the one that was founded in 1884 close its doors.