• What's Going On: How a little snow can cripple the South and turn us into jerks

    Are we all a bunch of jerks?

    What’s the definition of a jerk? If it’s easier for you to conceptualize, substitute another word for jerk that starts with an A and ends with an E and includes two S’s and an hol in the middle.

  • Miner Queries: Can the House move beyond horsefeathers?

    Last weekend, my husband mentioned the cold weather was making him hungry for duck soup, something we’ve been anticipating since we carved up a duck for Christmas dinner.

    “Now why does that always make me think of the Marx brothers?” I asked. 

    “You know they made a movie with that title,” he said. “It includes the song ‘Whatever it is, I’m Against It.’”

  • The Time Capsule: From a fireman to a typist in the military

     In my mind they are marching still, row after row, rifles slung, helmets low over their eyes, boys that from a distance look like men. Are they four abreast or five?  The guide-on is out front and on the flank is a Drill Sergeant. Lean and straight as a flagpole, his fatigues perfectly tailored and crisply starched, boots well-worn with a spit-shine only time and labor can produce. He is calling cadence.  

  • What's Going On: Morality and legislation: A distant memory?

    Since this nation was first conceived, the framework of it in terms of the constitution, the Bill of Rights and centuries-worth of legislation can trace its collective lineage to either moral or pragmatic reasons.

    Most of our laws, especially today, are passed for pragmatic reasons. It’s not safe to drive recklessly, tax loopholes need closing, environmental regulations enacted.

    Laws passed based on morality though are becoming less and less frequent.

  • Outside the Box: Of snow days past and present

    A few weekends ago, my NFL playoff watching experience was interrupted by an incessant crawl of data streaming across the lower portion of my television screen.

    Schools, I was informed, were already canceling for the following Monday.

    My son’s Christmas vacation would be extended by at least a day.

    With high temperatures expected to barely crack zero and early morning temps to be double-digit below-zero, the school cancelations didn’t come as a surprise.

  • The Time Capsule: Low temperatures and the storm of 1888

     A recent news item tells us this unusually cold winter has been a result of global warming.  The article explains warming has caused masses of heated air to create aberrations, including a distortion of the polar vortex, which has allowed invasions of arctic air to dip far south more often than normal.  

  • 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.