In my younger years I recall you would know a car was heading your way by the roar of the engine. The car operated by the high schoolers generally was equipped with what we called straight pipes or dual Smitty mufflers. The engine noise emitted through the dual exhaust systems was capable of bringing a house window to a near shatter. My, how times have changed. A smile came across my face this week when I walked down my neighborhood street and detected an auto approaching. But, it was evident this was not like my younger years. I heard no roar of an engine. Instead it was blaring of a customized sound system (aka radio) that had preceded the automobile’s approach. There are still some similarities to those good old days. The radio blast capably rattled windows just like the auto straight pipes of 60 years ago. *** I recognize environmental concerns comprise many of the subjects being studied by scientists, students and even the common citizen. Research has become big business as more people want deeper info about trends such as global warming, weather conditions, diminishing animal species and other environmental changes that are taking place. An organization in North Dakota caught my eye and made me wonder just how far this research thing could be carried out. A new chapter of a national organization has been formed in Fargo-Moorhead and emphasizes the unlimited subject matter for today’s environmentalists. The Fargo–Moorhead Frog/Watch Chapter is trying to find the reason for the diminishing population of frogs and toads in North Dakota. Actually, after looking at some of the researchers’ comments, I learned the group had discovered there might be as many as 11 species of toads and frogs in North Dakota. That’s up from the once-thought nine species. I also learned that bull frogs are deemed an invasive species to the area. I have no idea what a guy like me is going to do with these new facts and information. But, I think I’ll hop to immediate action saving the frogs by not baiting my fish hooks with the warty little creatures.. These frog facts reminded me of another study that was made years ago. It was reported a frog has more lives than a cat because a frog croaks every night. *** It was reported recently a high school back east dropped its honors banquet which saluted high achieving students. The cancelation of the event was caused when some adults felt it was hurtful to the students who were not among the honorees. In my opinion it’s a shame such a thing happened. Maybe we should do away with all competition whether it be in studies, sports, or business. Then everyone will be alike in the role as under-achievers. That means having no initiative; sitting on our duffs; and whine. RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register
New normal reflects changes in our modern world
The popular phrase for 2014 apparently has been established. It is the era of the “new normal” and we conservatives might as well get used to it.
“New normal” is being accepted by many, but for me the new normal seems to describe at best, turmoil. I have a tough time accepting that new normal. It has brought all of us from a normal atmosphere where we were content with a comfortable, predictable situation into what now seems to be a frustrating onslaught of constant challenges, bickering and uncertainty.
Just what is the “new normal” we’re facing? Here are a few examples:
The United States Senate and Congress battles center on political party loyalty instead of loyalty to the public’s wishes and what is best for our country.
Constitutional challenges and Supreme Court rulings seem to be eroding the basic principles of the intent of our Constitution.
Worse yet, the public seems to have a short memory when public office holders violate the law and are again re-elected back in a public office. Now let us move off the political issues and take a look at a “new norm” that has hit close to home.
It appears Nebraska is going to face the challenge of a new slogan. According to Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald, the Nebraska Tourism Commission after nine months of research and $75K in funding has a new slogal called, “Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice.”
Now I’ve always been pleased with the old standby, “Nebraska, The Good Life.” But, I wasn’t among of the 3,500 hundred citizens over the past nine months who were interviewed in the chase of a new slogan.
New norms continue throughout our country and those norms hit all aspects of our lives. Hardly a day goes by when an automobile or product recall doesn’t take place. As for me, I had two autos recalled in the same year, which I must admit could be just a tad above the new norm. Recalls protecting my safety are growing into a new norm revenue stream for those big city law firms.
In conclusion, a sad new norm that has been accomplished: “U.S. now stands for Unlimited Spending.”
I like the comment made the other day when an individual said it was going to get pretty tough when this country gets back to normal and the fellows who write those articles on economics have got to know what they’re talking about again.
RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register
Commencement speakers often leave critical lessons left unsaid
I wonder just how many high school graduates remember the wisdom delivered by their commencement speakers. Or, for that matter, just how many graduates can even remember the name of that speaker.
I understand the class of 2014 will recall some of that wisdom and whose lips it came from, but at their 50-year reunion it will be a challenge for the majority of attendees to recall much of their commencement program unless someone unfortunately happened to fall off the stage.
A book titled “10-1/2 Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said” contained a collection of observations that the writer, Charles Wheelan, wishes someone had told him.
To the chagrin of parents he encouraged graduates to take time off after college. He also wrote your parents don’t want what’s best for you because that often involves a degree of risk. Your parents actually want what’s good for you.
Frank Bures, a magazine writer, wishes his graduation speaker had told him it’s the people in your life who make all the difference . . . make friends and keep them.
J.K. Rowling issued some wise words about failure. “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life,” she said. You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.
Other off-the-cuff observations that certainly will not be heard at commencement ceremonies could include:
“It has been said the chief objection to the school of experience is that you never finish your post-graduate courses and that’s because when you graduate from that school your diploma is a tombstone.”
One potential employer noted that a college education seldom hurts a man if he’s willing to learn a little something after he graduates.
Another senior citizen said if he was giving out advice he would caution the young man who worked so hard to graduate from college only to wonder later what the hurry was.
It’s been said all that stands between the graduate and the top of the ladder is the ladder.
One old-timer felt he hasn’t much practical advice to give to hopeful young graduates, except to marry the first girl he finds who has a steady job. Another elder gent disagreed by saying, “No, you should marry someone smarter than you.”
As for me, I must agree with marrying the gal with a steady job and also a gal who is smarter. I married the full employed betterhalf my senior year in college and it was and still is pretty obvious who is the smartest one in our family.
RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register
Maybe tot understands life better than adults
Apparently crime is getting a little softer in Nebraska. There seems to be an easing of the threat of guns or knives during a robbery. A Lincoln man was sentenced to up to eight years in prison recently after he broke into an apartment and robbed a man of his wallet. The robber threatened his victim with a cattle prod and a pellet gun. My determination of whether a cattle prod is a serious weapon is still under consideration. In my younger years I felt the welts on my rear after a farmer-friend(?) poked me in jest with his cattle prod while loading cattle. *** There’s been a lot of word-eating going on from politicians and corporate heads. A few weeks ago our president said the United States wouldn’t send more than 300 military advisory forces to Iraq to aid the slowing of the ISIL. This past week we now learn we will have over 700 as additional forces are being deployed to that country. A year ago, officials said oil production from Iraq was insignificant relating to the world crude oil price. As the Fourth of July approached we were told the threat of diminished Iraq oil production caused gasoline prices to increase for those of us who hit the road during the holiday. Talk about a corporate head having to eat his words, or maybe we should say, “to drink his words.” An international coffee chain proclaimed it would hold the prices on its coffees being served in their coffee houses. But, a week later it changed that message by stating, “We’re being forced to raise our prices because our competitors are.” Looks like another miss of a competitive advantage for a company. *** Colorado may have a gold mine in legalizing marijuana. Sales of the weed have contributed millions to the state coffers in less than a year. Frankly I’m satisfied with Nebraska’s performance in the collection of fines for those who leave the mountain state and pass through Nebraska with marijuana in their possession. Of course the sudden influx of marijuana arrests in western Nebraska has put a crimp on the local law enforcement budgets, but we want to extend our thanks to those law enforcement officials and would hope they can keep a good cash flow from those fines. *** Here’s an example of mom knew best and her son never doubted it. The son said, “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them, they didn’t understand life.” Enough said. RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register
Childhood lessons emphasize hard work, family
We all like to have our beliefs reinforced and I was fortunate to have a couple of “reinforcers” cross my messy desk this week. I try to clear the desk about every two weeks, but must admit I fall behind and papers begin to pile up. Finally I came across an item that has given me an outlet to embrace my messy side.
In defending my sloppy desk, a news clipping states that cleanliness may be a virtue, but clutter may inspire a great idea. When researchers at the University of Minnesota had people solve problems in either a tidy room or an untidy room, they found that those in an untidy space came up with more creative solutions.
“An orderly room encourages people to do what is expected. A messy room can do just the opposite, leading you to brainstorm more innovative ideas,” says Kathleen Vohs, PhD. She instructs messy people to cut themselves some slack and the resulting mess could encourage a “lightbulb” moment.
As a result of clearing my desk I’m moving on to another subject that is close to my heart. The subject of American history and I guess I could even be more specific citing pride in the Midwest and Nebraska. A book titled, “The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History,” authored by Jack K. Lauck, basically emphasizes by studying the history of the Midwest we not only learn how the heartland was built, but how it saved the nation.
In stressing his plea for renewed attention to our “lost region” and its history, Lauck notes how Midwesterners were and still are rooted in their communities and are believers in individualism and self reliance. He continues by writing that standard accounts of early American history tend to emphasize the sophisticated East and the troubled South. Yet, as Ralph Waldo Emerson observed with his usual shrewdness, “Europe extends to the Alleghenies while America lies beyond.” The fundamental spirit of our nation was forged on the frontier.
Lauck claims the heartland still is the subject of a tendency to be undervalued and its past skewed and fragmented mainly by the population on the East Coast. As an example he points out a powerful literary critic and author H.L. Mencken, who died in 1956, said of a Midwestern writer: “I don’t care how well she writes, I don’t give a damn what happens in Nebraska.” Mencken was dismissing Nebraska’s Willa Cather.
Lauck summarizes my feelings and those of most Midwesterners when he states, “... hardly a day goes by that I don’t recall my childhood and how it showed me the fundamental importance of family, school, neighborhood and church; taught me the necessity of hard work, self-reliance and kindness to others. These are American values, yes, but Midwestern ones above all.”
RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register