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Columns

  • What's Going On: Why the rabbits are screaming

    The rabbits are screaming.

    Newspapers get a lot of mass mailings whether of the snail or email variety. Whether it’s from the left or right end of the political spectrum, they share a common thread of fanaticism that doesn’t really resonate with most of the values and shared beliefs found in southwest Iowa, or most of rural America for that matter.

    So when I got my on average bi-weekly email from the unintentionally comically liberal People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), I gave it my cursory subject line review.

  • Miner Queries: Chain mail and electronic posters: Gossip much?

    My parents weren’t much for gossip or rumors. Mom and Dad might listen to the latest neighborhood news, but they didn’t put much stock in information that wasn’t “straight from the horse’s mouth.” And I don’t remember hearing them repeat anything they heard from others outside our home. I used to think most people were raised that way.

  • The Time Capsule: Hospital stays, good for movie-watching

    Do we have a reader who can, without looking it up, name the film that won the Academy Award for the best movie of 1982? While you’re thinking it over, here’s what brings me to ask.

  • What's Going On: Jenkins case an indictment of more than prison system

    It was a day just like every other single day for the previous two years.

    The prisoner would spend 23 out of 24 hours alone in his cell, released for just an hour a day for a little exercise and an occasional shower.

    He would have no contact with any other prisoners, spending his entire day alone, just as he had done every, single day for more than two years.

    The reason for this extreme treatment: the prisoner was simply too dangerous to be around other prisoners in this maximum security facility.

  • The Time Capsule: Sherlock and the Speckled Band book

     Early in their partnership Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson occupied bachelor quarters at 221b Baker Street.  Living elsewhere in the large dwelling was their landlord, a prim and proper lady named Mrs. Hudson.  

    At the beginning of “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” Watson is awakened early one morning by Holmes, who is dressed and ready for the chase.  Holmes apologizes for the hour, but asks Watson to arise and prepare to meet a client.  Holmes then makes a shocking disclosure.    

  • What's Going On: Why our opinion on homosexuality means nothing

     Is homosexuality a sin?

    In the Christian religion, I’m not sure there has been a more divisive and debatable question since the temperance movement of the early 20th century. 

    There are preachers who not only believe homosexuality isn’t a sin, but a form of love created by God and as such, one that should be sanctified by one of the holiest of rituals, the marriage ceremony. 

  • Miner Queries: Has lack of participation driven us to the brink?

     We live in a society based on participation. Democracy, the form of government our founders chose, requires citizens’ participation for the common good. Yet at every level today, citizens choose to drop out. They may complain, but they refuse to participate.

    I see it locally. Churches, civic groups and political parties struggle to find people willing to attend meetings and take part. I see it nationally with the decline in voting and in unions. 

  • The Time Capsule: Why Obama’s cheerleaders should recoil

     “If you’re not a Socialist at the age of 20 you have no heart.  If you’re still a Socialist at the age of 50, you have no brain.”  

  • The Time Capsule: The shaving and razor shopping woes

     There are times, as with shaving, when old methods are rediscovered and found to work surprisingly well. The act of removing whiskers can be a pleasant ritual. 

    At times, when my wife puts her mug in the mirror to mimic my facial contortions, it’s funny. She would seem even more amusing were it not that laughing while shaving is risky.  

    For me, the difficulty of shaving has been finding the right equipment.  

  • What's Going On: Santa letters beckon Christmas cheer, and a few laughs

     One of my favorite holiday traditions is reading Santa letters. Every paper I’ve worked at published hundreds of them every year and every year, I read each one under the guise of “proofreading” them. 

    There really isn’t any editing that goes on with them (beyond name checking) as the unique spelling and grammar is part of the letter’s appeal.