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Columns

  • Miner Queries: Can we get a candidate smarter than a 5th grader?

     We’re nowhere near Election Day 2014, and I’m already sick of campaign ads.

    Here in Iowa, the race for retiring Senator Tom Harkin’s seat gets uglier by the day. First, our local state senator gave Iowans a black eye with her ad about castrating hogs. 

  • The Time Capsule: Wild hogs: The war to keep them away

     “We could do it with conventional weapons, but it would take years and cost millions of lives.”  

    I think the line came from a movie, but I don’t know which one.  They are printed in large block letters on the wall of a garage owned by Bill, a winter-time neighbor. ‘Bill’ is not his real name, which I won’t reveal as he owns weaponry that is probably not legal — even in the accommodating state of Texas.  

  • What's Going On: Roofers, politicians have lots in common if you look closely

     They called on the phone. They knocked on doors. They sought local endorsements. They stuck signs in your yards. They launched advertising campaigns. 

    And they weren’t even running for office. 

    With the mass of unfamiliar numbers flashing across my phone’s caller identification, I had a flashback to the last presidential caucus. 

    But instead of Mitt Romney harassing me at home, it was roofers, roofers and a few more roofers providing me with valuable information. 

  • The Time Capsule: Solving a case, with help from Holmes

     IPTV ran a recent special on Sherlock Holmes, calling him a man who changed the world.  Credited with being the first detective, fictional or otherwise, who focused on forensic evidence, Holmes was said to have opened avenues of investigative science that revolutionized law enforcement.  

    The program featured several criminalists who said they’d been inspired by Holmes. They brought to mind a murder that took place in southwest Iowa 30 years ago. Sherlock was there and, as always, came through splendidly. 

  • What's Going On: Iowa’s legislature needs to close gaping exploitation loopholes

     Like most states, Iowa has laws prohibiting sexual exploitation of vulnerable individuals who may be able to physically consent, if not emotionally, to a physical relationship. 

    The law protects patients from their counselor or therapists and students from their teachers.

    However, in November 2013, an Iowa appeals court ruled it doesn’t protect a parishioner from her pastor.

  • Miner Queries: Ernst puts Iowa at the butt of joke: Seriously?

      Seriously?

    That was my first reaction to watching State Sen. Joni Ernst’s new campaign ad last week.  

    My second reaction was: “Here we go again.”

  • The Time Capsule: Liederkranz vs. Velveeta: Which is best?

     A couple of years ago ‘The Time Capsule’ took a look back at Liederkranz cheese. I intended to do a follow-up, but the experiment went badly wrong.    

    Liederkranz interested me for several reasons.  It is not found locally, is so expensive it must be good and comes with a story. It was created in the 1890s by Emil Frey, a noted Swiss cheese maker. The target audience for Liederkranz was German immigrants who were fond of a similar cheese made in the old country. 

  • What's Going On: Will Glenwood voters write a blank check?

     In 2010, Glenwood residents defeated a $2.2 million proposal that would have started construction of an outdoor swimming pool.

    While receiving 49 percent approval, the proposal fell well short of the needed 60-percent total needed to pass. 

    Now, four years later, Glenwood voters will once again go to the polls in just a few weeks to decide the fate of a second outdoor swimming pool proposal. 

  • The Time Capsule: ‘The Almighty’s’ attempt at flight

     The Wright brothers became forever famous for their flight in 1903.  At the time, August Werner, a former Red Oak resident, probably didn’t notice. He was then spending his days at the mental asylum in Clarinda. Werner, it seems, thought he was God.

    Some believed he’d built a heavier-than-air flying machine long before the Wrights and but for his unfortunate mental collapse, might have perfected it.  

  • What's Going On: Ernst gambles on effect of castration emphasis

    The castration candidate. 

    I’ve covered a lot of political races, from local to county to state and occasionally, a federal one.

    Never before have I had a local person whom I’ve interacted with on a regular basis enter the foray of state politics, much less one at the federal level.

    That was before Iowa Senator and former Montgomery County Auditor Joni Ernst entered the U.S. Senate race for the seat soon to be vacated by Tom Harkin.