HOBOKEN - One would assume that commuter trains travelling into one of the most congested places on the planet would include the latest safety technology. One would assume there would be a system in place to override the engineer and automatically slow or stop the train if it is careening toward the Hudson River. One would assume there are official experts somewhere who are ensuring our safety. Thirty percent of trains in the U.S. have the latest safety measures, with traveling satellites, radio towers and ground sensors. But, maddeningly, not NJ Transit. Maybe now, after tragedy, that will change.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL - CNN says Gov. Chris Christie may take over debate prep for Donald Trump. It actually makes perfect sense; insiders report Christie is one of the only people in Trump's inner circle who actually gives The Donald constructive criticism, rather than standing ovations, kneeling, bowing and rose petals. Also, Christie has no problem fighting for ludicrous positions - no matter how harmful to the public - for the sake of appeasing the national GOP base. (See: School Fairness Formula) Besides few other people can be as gruff and sassy as our governor. So, next debate, maybe Trump will suggest voters "take a bat" to his 68-year-old opponent.

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SCOTCH PLAINS - Unclear how many locals visit Bowcraft Amusement Park on Route 22; it always seemed like a relic from an era before 50 mph roller coasters with 360-degree loops and 140-foot drops. TapInto reports Bowcraft will soon be gone; its Route 22 property too valuable for crappy rides and an outdated arcade. The hope was Bowcraft would be replaced by something nice -- maybe a modern family attraction. But, alas, no. Scotch Plains will "welcome" a complex of 200 apartments and condos, a clubhouse, pool and play area, miraculously jammed onto 13 acres. But, don't worry, it won't generate too much rush hour traffic or impact the schools. (Wow, almost wrote that last sentence without cracking up.) Read more here.

POHATCONG - One "creepy clown" down; a bunch more to go. It took no time for cops in this tiny Warren County town to track down the 18-year-old who wore a scary clown getup to startle shoppers and frighten kids Tuesday night. Riding on the hood of his father's old hearse - and yep, dad was behind the wheel - this teenager cruised parking lots at a Super Wal-Mart and Quaker Steak & Lube leering and waving. The kid's father, 42, told LeighValleyLive: "It's a joke that (went) overboard." Cops were not amused. Since wearing sinister costumes is not a crime, they could only give father and son a furious scolding and a ticket for glaring stupidity. Mayor James Kern said "this odd phenomena is happening all over the country," and he hopes other pranksters "would now think otherwise." Us too.

WILLINGBORO - As a kid, he probably swiped his classmates' lunch money and baseball cards. But, now a 47-year-old former high school history teacher and football coach has admitted to pilfering $14,500 in student activity fees to feed his taste for gambling. The Mount Laurel man's deal gets him 364 days in jail. He is also banned from ever teaching again and he must get some professional help for his gambling addiction. The Burlington County Times says prosecutors let him plead guilty to misappropriating student money, instead of official misconduct, which would have meant more jail time.

MOUNT HOLLY - End "double dipping?" Wait! Are we still in Jersey? Freeholders in Burlington County may be the first in the Garden State to flatly prohibit anyone from county jobs if they are getting a federal or state pension. The Burlington County Times says applicants for a county job must be willing to put their pensions on hold. The measure seems to target a Democratic candidate for sheriff who gets an $88,000 state pension, but is running for the $120,000 county post. A recent N.J. Spotlight reports says 16 out of the state's 21 sheriffs now double-dip a county salary with a pension.


WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. - A New Hampshire hotel is ideal for fat cats. Well, at least, one fat cat. Visitors at the Silver Fox Inn are welcomed by a huge mass of fur lounging on the sidewalk. That - believe it or not - is an 8-year-old tabby named Logan, who weighs in at a whopping 31 pounds - about three times the size of a normal, full-grown cat. Logan apparently steals food from the other house cats, as well as whatever he is thrown from hotel guests, who enjoy taking selfies with this blob. Apparently, says, the hotel owner, Logan is in great shape.

YOUR WALLET - Notice all those makeshift Halloween shops cropping up at an abandoned store near you? Well, some shoppers are already looking to December. According to an unscientific and likely incorrect report from CreditCards.com, there are 34 million Americans who are already squarely focused on Christmas shopping. The report says one million over-achieving Americans have actually completed their holiday shopping; maybe they are misers who giftwrap hotel shampoo or have plenty of leftover re-gifts from last year. One part of the study we agree with: About 75 percent of respondents are annoyed that the winter shopping season is somehow creeping into September, when the leaves haven't even turned yet.


It was this day in 2011 that George Michael uttered some careless whispers, cancelling his Australian tour because of "major anxiety." Fans gotta have faith.


Woebegone [WOH-bih-gahn] - adjective

Definition: Strongly afflicted with woe : woeful

Example: Scores of George Michael fans shared some quiet, woebegone interludes on this day in 2011.