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Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Driverless trucks on Highway 83? Not just yet, thanks (07/06/15)
There was a story on the news feed the other day about rival driverless cars -- one owned by Google, another by Delphi -- that nearly had a collision. "Our car saw the Google car move into the same lane as our car was planning to move into," auto parts maker Delphi reported, "but upon detecting that the lane was no longer open, it decided to terminate the move and wait until it was clear again."...
Honor founding fathers by putting their system to work (07/02/15)
The weeks leading up to the Fourth of July have been interesting, to say the least. The TV Land has dropped the Dukes of Hazzard, and while three-quarters of white Americans see the Confederate battle flag as just a symbol of pride in the south, the same portion of African Americans see it as a symbol of racism...
Claims catch up with insurance premium payments (07/01/15)
It's hard to keep track of the hail storms in McCook; roofers are busy replacing shingles from last year's hail storm, and some of THEM were replaced only a few years earlier, 2011, when hail took out roofs and siding across the Heritage Hills subdivision -- remember the row of pine trees that used to border the Walmart parking lot?...
Tempers flare along with temperatures (06/30/15)
Listen in on the police scanner, and you can tell tempers are beginning to climb with the temperatures. We've noticed the phenomenon for years, but scientists say there are real reasons we get a little edgy on those hot summer days. As your body temperature increases, your heart rate goes up and your blood pressure rises as your body tries to cool itself off...
Hot-button issues made for a memorable week (06/29/15)
It was a memorable week in the United States, or one that religious and social conservatives would like to forget. Forgetting will be difficult, however, as Americans adjust to Supreme Court rulings favoring Obamacare -- it will stay in place for now -- and gay marriage -- states cannot prohibit two people of the same sex to marry...
Vacation in mosquito-free season is over (06/26/15)
Summer has just begun but the vacation is over. Vacation from mosquitoes, that is. Warm temperatures and wet conditions have taken over from the mosquito-free spring we enjoyed. A mosquito bite is usually no big deal, but over the past few years, West Nile Virus has found its way into Southwest Nebraska, and in other parts of the country, exotic illnesses such as dengue fever and Chikungunya have appeared...
Myths and facts about lightning (06/25/15)
They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, but the late Ray Search of McCook, who was struck three times over his lifetime, knew that wasn't true. It's especially not true of a tall, pointy, isolated object -- the Empire State Building is struck nearly 100 times a year...
Has time arrived for more locally sourced table eggs? (06/22/15)
We don't have a "The Egg and I" restaurant in our neighborhood, but if we did, we might know some nervous chefs. We might, anyway, thanks to an egg shortage resulting from the avian flu. Millions of chickens, especially laying hens, died or had to be killed because of the disease, which began showing up in commercial Midwest turkey and chicken farms...
Dad's traditional role is changing (06/19/15)
We don't know if it's just a guilty conscience or not -- yeah, it is -- but Americans are expected to spend "only" $12.7 billion for Sunday's Father Day celebration, compared to the$21.2 billion they spent on Mother's Day. It shouldn't be a surprise; Mom is traditionally the one who bring us toast and tea when we have the flu, tuck us in at night and bake us our favorite dessert while Dad reads the paper and watches SportsCenter after coming home from work...
Too often, evil can invade a place of sanctuary (06/18/15)
Churches that are doing their jobs seem to affect people emotionally, but that can have unfortunate results. One of the worst made itself apparent at a Wednesday night prayer meeting in downtown Charleston, S.C., where a gunman killed nine people and wounded at least one other...
High-tech survey points to buildings' storm weaknesses (06/17/15)
Some of us Nebraskans like to tease our California relatives every time we hear of an earthquake in their region. That usually brings a retort: "Well, at least we don't have tornadoes." Actually, they can have tornados, but say twister, and Kansas is more likely to come to mind than Cupertino...
Storytelling at its best, and its most unpleasant (06/15/15)
Congratulations to everyone involved in this year's Buffalo Commons Storytelling and Music Festival. It was gratifying to see the Gazette's founder, Harry Strunk recognized as the leader -- and character -- that he was. And, it is gratifying to see music continuing to be integrated into the festival, recognizing music as the effective storytelling medium it is...
Local talent adds much to annual Buffalo Commons festival (06/12/15)
Congratulations to everyone involved with this weekend's Buffalo Commons Storytelling and Music Festival, which promises to be one of the best. One of the organizers, Mary Dueland, joked at a preview Thursday night at the Bieroc Cafe that it should be called the 20th annual festival -- it's actually the 19th -- because it will be hard to beat next year, the real 20th annual event...
Voters should get direct say in death penalty (06/11/15)
We're not surprised a petition drive to reinstate the death penalty in Nebraska is gaining steam. Nebraska lawmakers as a whole weren't all that convinced of their action to repeal it themselves, overriding Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto by the bare minimum of votes...
Save energy during summertime heat (06/10/15)
After an unusually mild and wet spring -- McCook is .9 of an inch ahead of normal precip -- we've moved right into summer-type weather, hitting 96 degrees about 7 p.m. Tuesday. There are alternatives to sweating through the summer or eating peanut butter sandwiches to be able afford paying your electric bill, according to the Nebraska Public Power District...
Where not to look for personal integrity in politics (06/09/15)
The late Mike Royko's book, "Boss," was a staple of political science classes back in the early 1970s, but its insight to Chicago politics is just as valid 40 years later. One story that comes to mind involves an alderman who asked the owner of a bar to put up a few signs and support him in the coming election...
Consider all options before taking out a reverse mortgage (06/08/15)
We've used this space to caution older residents about the pitfalls of taking out a reverse mortgage, pitched by people like former senator Fred Thompson and Henry "The Fonz" Winkler, and now the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has chimed in. It's an important issue for our area, where many of us have much, if not most, of our net worth tied up in our homes...
Two-wheelin' visitors rolling through our area (06/05/15)
We're swinging into the busy summertime season, starting with this weekend's Mullen Pro-Am golf tournament, a melodrama in Bartley, MS Walk and motorcycle ride and many other activities. Next week, of course, it's the Buffalo Commons Storytelling and Music Festival, Palisade Pioneer Days and the once-every-five-years Herndon Ox Roast...
Avian flu making itself felt in prices, summer activities (06/04/15)
Avian flu is deadly to domestic poultry and can sometimes infect humans, but we're more likely to be affected by the current outbreak when it comes to fair time or at the dinner table. It's already affected a "critter swap" at a local farm store Saturday, which will exclude poultry in response to a Nebraska Department of Agriculture announcement today that all poultry events across Nebraska will be banned through Jan. 1, 2016...
Brain injury concern extends to war veterans (06/03/15)
Brain damage from boxing is old news; NFL players, owners and their lawyers are dealing with the issue. Brain injuries from repeated impact is of concern down through the college and high school ranks and especially younger athletes, when the brain is more vulnerable...
Work: Don't take it sitting down (06/02/15)
Smoking. Sugar. Transfats. Sedentary lifestyle. Sitting at a desk. Yes, they're all bad for you, even the last one. According guidelines published Monday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who sit the most have more than twice the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a 13 percent increased risk of cancer and a 17 percent increased risk of premature death, compared to those who sit the least...
Most minimum-wage workers can't afford a one-bedroom apartment (06/01/15)
Nebraska's minimum wage is going to $9, far below the $15 some activists are demanding, so it was interesting to see a study published by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition about the cost of living. According to the study, the average Nebraskan would have to work 54 hours at a minimum wage to afford a one-bedroom apartment...
Summer months most dangerous for teen drivers (05/29/15)
One of the most stressful times for parents of teenagers is the first time they turn over the car keys and watch their child leave the driveway. It turns out, however, it's really the other drivers who should be worried. According to a new report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the majority of people killed -- 66 percent -- and injured -- 67 percent -- in crashes involving a teen driver are people other than the teen drivers themselves...
Death penalty debate far from over (05/28/15)
Sen. Ernie Chambers was honest and generous in his statements following the historic 30-19 vote to override Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of the Legislature's bill to end the death penalty in Nebraska. "Whenever anything historic occurs, it's never the doing of one person," Chambers, an Independent who introduced a repeal measure 38 times, told The Associated Press. ...
Veto vote measure of Legislature's trust in administration (05/27/15)
By the time many of you read this, the question will be answered: Did the Nebraska legislature override Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of LB 268 to repeal the death penalty? The bill passed with only 32 votes, two more than the 30 required to enact the law over Ricketts' veto...
Want to get to know someone? Check out their Facebook posts (05/26/15)
How do you get to know someone? It used to be at school, at work, at church or maybe the neighborhood pub. Today you may be better off checking out their Facebook page. A new study by Brunel University in the United Kingdom may cause you to think twice before posting that status update...
Society owes debt of gratitude to law enforcement officers (05/21/15)
Our nation is preparing to honor the military men and women who gave their lives to preserve our way of life. Anyone who has read about a fatal shooting in Omaha Wednesday might think back to another recent observance, Peace Officers Memorial Day, observed with little fanfare May 15...
Routine belies danger of rabies reports (05/19/15)
Avian flu, which is forcing officials to destroy millions of birds and costing the industry millions of dollars is drawing plenty of media attention, and rightfully so. Before that, ebola was the issue, with a Nebraska hospital the go-to facility for effective treatment...
Boaters asked to keep selves, state waters safe (05/18/15)
Tourism officials once touted the "Great Lakes" of Southwest Nebraska, and while we never lost them, the rising water level in Hugh Butler Lake is certainly improving prospects for water sports in our area. If it's been a while since you've had the boat out, don't relearn safety lessons the hard way...
A new look at Southwest Nebraska's biggest disaster (05/14/15)
Eighty years ago later this month, it began to rain in Southwest Nebraska. By the time it was done, nine inches had fallen, filling the Frenchman, Red Willow, Medicine, Deer, Muddy and Turkey creeks, the runoff all pouring into the Republican River at the same time...
McCook draws attention as top 'beautiful town' (05/13/15)
McCook will have to regroup following the narrow defeat of the economic development portion of the local option sales tax, while voters passed a 15-year extention of the regular 1.5 percent sales tax, until 2033. Whatever the future of economic development looks like, McCook has plenty of things going for it. As a trade center for Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas, we offer a surprising number services, attractions and opportunities for employment for a town our size...
Tecumseh riot reinforces need for changes to system (05/12/15)
Some McCook residents were disappointed when Tecumseh was chosen for a new state penitentiary after local officials mounted what they felt was the top proposal for the new facility. Most of us were happy to accept what some saw as a consolation prize, with the establishment of the Work Ethic Camp here instead...
Agency helps make life better for people in need (05/11/15)
We usually hear about Mid-Nebraska Community Action Partnership in connection with local representative Barb Ostrum, who seems to show up whenever there's a worthwhile public service project to support. She's a volunteer organizer of the annual Toy Box and Coat Closet activities that make sure every kid has a present to open for Christmas and everyone has a warm coat to ward off the winter chill...
How do Nebraska moms do when it comes to working? (05/08/15)
Some of us may long for the old days when family life was like "Father Knows Best," but most of us know it's more like "The Middle," where a working mom struggles to keep food on the table and the washer duct-taped shut long enough for the load to get clean...
Keep and eye, ear open for weather hazards (05/07/15)
Thanks to modern technology, we've never been safer when it comes to knowing about approaching bad weather. Professional meteorologists, storm chasers and amateur skywatchers have an unprecedented array of tools at their disposal when it comes to keeping track of storms...
No public subsidy for wind power in Nebraska for now (05/06/15)
The nation's only completely public power state has decided the public should not subsidize wind power. Proponents likened the bill, which would have provided $75 million in production tax credits for renewable energy, to subsidies received by the ethanol industry, subsidies that have helped boost the Southwest Nebraska economy...
May Day can still have meaning in today's world (05/01/15)
Whatever happened to May Day? We vaguely remember receiving May baskets on the doorstep, left there anonymously. If we saw the person who delivered it, we were supposed to chase them or kiss them -- can't remember exactly which. A few years ago, a teacher recreated a Maypole dance in Norris Park, but we haven't noticed much emphasis on May Day in recent years...
Drive with care, at least until the robots take over (04/30/15)
More and more of the driving skills we used to learn are becoming irrelevant, with front-wheel drive, traction control, antilock braking, collision avoidance, parallel parking and even navigation being taken over by our cars themselves. It's a scary thought, but we'll all be leaving the driving to a silicon chip one of these days...
There's no reason to reinvent the wheel for medical marijuana (04/29/15)
There's no doubt marijuana shows some promise as a useful drug -- even Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent recently came out in support of its medical use. There is legitimate evidence that it is, or might be, effective in treating conditions and side effects of illnesses such as glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy and other types of seizures, anxiety, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel diseases, arthritis, obesity, lupus, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, PTSD, stroke, brain concussions and trauma, nightmares, nausea and lack of appetite from chemotherapy and even alcoholism.. ...
What's in a name? More than you might think (04/28/15)
What's in a name? Quite a lot, actually, especially for people who pay for the buildings they designate, or to the people who decide whom the structure is meant to honor. After countless newsroom discussions, we've settled on the obvious solution -- we go with what's printed on the front of the building...
Make sure your donations really go to quake victims (04/27/15)
You can count on it, when people are concerned about their fellow man, it's only a matter of time when some unscrupulous person will find a way to take advantage of that kindness. In the case of Saturday's earthquake, which killed more than 4,000 and counting in Nepal, India and Tibet, it didn't take long. The McCook Area Chamber of Commerce reported that residents were receiving calls purporting to be from the chamber, collecting money to aid earthquake victims...
Will ash trees go the way of the Siberian elm? (04/24/15)
Remember the Chinese elm tree? That's what we called them, and although they were actually Siberian elm, they were popular throughout Nebraska because they came from a semi-desert region and adapted well to our weather. By the middle of the last century, however, they were dying from Dutch Elm disease, and we've spent the last few decades watching them being cut down and sawn into firewood...
Are sugar, carbs really worse than smoking? (04/23/15)
"I want that red velvet I want that sugar sweet Don't let nobody touch it Unless that somebody's me" It's a catchy tune on the radio, but if Maroon 5's weakness was really about sucrose, they'd be setting themselves for a whole range of illnesses. In fact, according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the sugar and carbohydrates that are staples of the modern diet are doing us more harm than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined...
NPPD helps put state on path to hydrogen future (04/21/15)
NPPD has been criticized as not moving toward renewable energy sources such as wind and solar quickly enough, but just in time for Earth Day on Wednesday, Nebraska's publicly-owned utility has announced a major step toward more "green" energy. One of the coal-fired boilers at Sheldon Station near Hallam will be replaced with one that burns hydrogen, producing mostly water vapor in the process of making electricity...
Immigration figures sign of a healthy economy? (04/20/15)
McCook's biggest celebration every year celebrates the fact that, with the possible exception of those of us with Native American heritage, our ancestors came from somewhere else. The coming of the railroad in the late 19th century saw an influx of settlers, many of them of German heritage who had been living in Russia...
New program offers chance to put screen time to work for you (04/17/15)
You probably have a Facebook account, you probably use email and you might even use Twitter. But have you ever wondered what happens behind the screen? Our local community college is offering an opportunity to find out. And, you can earn an informtion technology certificate while keeping your regular job...
Mail-in ballots popular, may be good compromise (04/16/15)
Sworn government officials make contact with nearly every voter six days a week in Nebraska, so why not put them to work when it comes to making our democracy function? Why not indeed, according to the latest information from the Nebraska Secretary of State...
Police agencies buckle to clever cyber criminals (04/14/15)
Never negotiate with terrorists. It's an oft-repeated mantra, in movies and television shows at least, if not among actual law enforcement officials. When faced with their own "hostage situation," however, a group of Lincoln County, Maine, law enforcement agencies gave in and paid the ransom...
Candidate's surprising past (04/13/15)
She was a Brownie and Girl Scout, on the student council, wrote for the school newspaper and was named to the National Honor Society. At 13, she helped canvass Chicago's South Side, where she found evidence of electoral fraud against Richard Nixon in the 1960 election -- an election so close that might have put "Tricky Dick" in the white house eight years sooner than he was actually sworn in...
Obama penalty finally gets real (04/10/15)
"Why should I pay for something I don't need," one young worker was heard to remark when she found out the Affordable Care Act requires her to purchase health insurance. That's the whole idea of Obamacare -- if everyone has to buy it, the cost of health care will be spread out among more people, theoretically making it "affordible" for everyone...
Experts: Tax day extra stressful (04/09/15)
Are you ready for Wednesday? Perhaps you've already got your tax refund back, or you've already bitten the bullet and sent in your check. Or maybe you're one of those last-minute filers who hits the post office at the last minute. Regardless, don't underestimate the stress associated with paying your dues to Uncle Sam...
Medicaid expansion all about who pays the cost (04/08/15)
It's all about who pays. Some of the facts in the debate over Medicaid expansion under Obamacare are easy to quantify. Others take a little research. Ricketts opposes LB472, being debated today, which would expand Medicaid to about 79,000 more Nebraskans, most of whom work, but in jobs that do not provide health insurance...
Marijuana could be wild card in 2016 election (04/07/15)
Malcolm Gladwell's 2000 book, "The Tipping Point" explored, among other things, how small things can make a big difference -- a few Manhattan hipsters began wearing Hush Puppies shoes to clubs, saving the brand from extinction in 1990. Although other social scientists question some of Gladwell's conclusions, it's true that relatively small factors can have big consequences down the road. ...
Electronic alternatives to incarceration (04/06/15)
Getting tough on crime is a popular campaign issue, drawing votes from people who have been victimized, or who don't like the way they see the country going. The "War on Drugs," plus mandatory minimums and other resulting laws have helped put more Americans per capita behind bars than any other developed nation...
Eclipse illustrates state's underutilized natural resource (04/03/15)
Don't know if you were up in time to enjoy the setting full moon this morning, but if you were, you know it was a beautiful sight. Weather permitting, you'll have a chance for an even more spectacular sight Saturday, as the moon goes into eclipse just as it is setting...
Local, state control question raised again (04/02/15)
Local control is good. Local control is bad. We've been wrangling with the issue since before the United States was a country, but we're still trying to find the balance. The latest example is a bill to simplify the permit process for establishing or expanding large feedlots...
Uber, Lyft should get chance to compete for drivers (04/01/15)
Time was, when you needed a hot meal and a place to sleep, you took your chances at the roadside inn. There were no Hiatts, Holiday Inns or other franchise hotels and motels. The same went for transportation; you shared the road with a walking companion, or paid a good part of your savings to a wagon master, a la Ward Bond, and you and your family braved the Plains as your wagon train headed to Oregon...
How prepared are you to weather a financial storm? (03/31/15)
Last week was Severe Weather Awareness Week, and we hope you thought about protecting yourself and your family in case a tornado or other destructive storm strikes. You can even read about a business designed to help you out in that regard elsewhere in this issue...
Surgical patients should be thankful for Doctor's Day (03/30/15)
Today's National Doctor's Day, and if you see yours, wish him or her a happy holiday. More than likely, he or she will be on the job, not giving National Doctor's Day a second thought in the course of caring for patients with everything from minor maladies to life-threatening conditions...
Airline crash puts mental heal issues back in spotlight (03/27/15)
If you're planning any airline trips soon, we've got a little advice. Don't spend all your spare time watching air crash investigation videos on YouTube. And, don't read the rest of this editorial. Authorities were shocked to learn that a plane flown by Lufthansa's budget airline, Germanwings, had dove into the French Alps shortly after reaching cruising altitude...
Distracted teen driving: It's worse than we thought (03/26/15)
We knew distracted driving was a problem, especially among teenagers, but it's worse than we thought, according to a study of "flight recorders" in 1,700 wrecks. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed videos from those teen crashes and found that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of all crashes studied, including 89 percent where the vehicles ran off the road and 76 percent of rear-end crashes...
Inspiration a-plenty at home, builder show (03/25/15)
It's getting to be that time of year. The lawn and garden products are out, spring fever is setting in -- will there be enough time to do all the home improvements we have planned and still have time for kids' sports, time at the lake, golf course and that trip to the mountains?...
What if a twister were on its way (03/24/15)
It seems like yesterday we were getting used to driving on icy winter streets, but now it's time to think about another weather hazard -- summer storms. This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Nebraska, and the Goodland, Kansas, National Weather Service office will issue a test tornado warning for our area at 10:40 a.m. CDT Wednesday...
Another winning performance for community theater (03/23/15)
With the addition of Netflix, Hulu and many other Internet streaming systems in addition to traditional cable, satellite and broadcast channels, Americans have more choices than ever when it comes to home entertainment. Thankfully, McCook residents know a good thing when they see it, turning off the TV and turning out to see five performances of the Southwest Nebraska Community Theatre Association production of Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun."...
State headed right way when it comes to transparency (03/20/15)
Follow the money. Deep Throat's advice in "All the President's Men" has been appropriate in American politics from the days of the Boston Tea Party through state budget wranglings and even the upcoming local option sales tax vote. State Treasurer Don Stenberg's office is touting the B+ grade its transparency website, StateSpending.Nebraska.gov received in the U.S. Public Interest Research Group 2015 Follow the Money report issued Wednesday. Yes, they call it that...
Toddler's survival illustrates car seats' vital importance (03/18/15)
You've probably heard the story. Eighteen-month old Lily was rescued 14 hours after a crash that killed her mother and left her hanging upside down in her car seat in a car partially submerged in Utah's Spanish Fork River. Several rescuers reported hearing an adult voice saying "help me" coming from the car, discovered by a fisherman that Saturday morning...
Celebrating Irish contributions to our way of life (03/17/15)
We've sometimes lamented the stripping of the "German" label from McCook's annual Heritage Days celebration, feeling that it would be better to focus on our community's predominant ancestry, German, would be better than conducting some sort of generic activity...
Surprising links between Fox Theatre shows, Southwest Nebraska (03/16/15)
It's surprising how many young people have never heard of him, but if any of them have ever watched a movie about World War II, they've heard the music of Glenn Miller in the sound track. If you're younger, say, than a baby boomer, you may not be able to name that tune when "Tuxedo Junction," Moonlight Serenade" or "Chattanooga Choo Choo" comes on the radio (or is it Sirius or Pandora?), but you will probably recognize the tune...
No, the IRS really didn't telephone you (03/13/15)
If you have a refund coming, you've probably already got it. If you have to pay the IRS, you may not have filed your tax return yet. But if you get a call from the IRS, hang up, because it's certainly a scammer. More than 3,000 people didn't hang up, and they've paid at least $15.5 million to crooks posing as IRS agents...
Gas taxes still best way to pay for infrastructure (03/12/15)
Most Nebraska lawmakers and residents aren't in favor of raising taxes of any type, but there are times when we have to bite the bullet. Efforts should continue to find efficiencies, and no one, especially McCook residents, wants to pay more for gasoline, but that looks like the fairest way to pay for repair of bridges and roads...
Is English most important class of all? (03/11/15)
Self-effacing storyteller Garrison Keillor enjoys poking fun at himself, with stories in which the English major gets the girl, and sponsoring segments of his radio show with the Professional Organization of English Majors -- POEM. We've often decried the damage done to great literature by requiring it to be read in high school English classes instead of discovered on one's own, but there's new evidence studying literature in the classroom has benefits beyond fulfilling a graduation requirement...
Adapting new technology not always easy job (03/10/15)
The ongoing telephone saga at the Red Willow County Courthouse has been frustrating and disappointing for employees and citizens, who have a right to expect to be able to make and receive calls, and who expect their tax dollars to be used wisely. It's just another sign of the times as we adjust to changing technologies and finding ways to adapt traditional functions of business and governent to the opportunities the new technologies offer...
Painting radicals, moderates with same broad brush (03/09/15)
The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, is at it again, picketing the funerals of a police detective and and two military personnel, the Nebraska Legislature and Doane College for promoting or at minimum tolerating homosexuality. The Patriot Guard Riders and other motorcyclists kept the group at bay when it attempted to disrupt the funeral of a McCook man killed in Iraq...
Ideas for dealing with daylight disruption (03/06/15)
We've shared our opinion about Daylight Saving Time many times (reminder: we don't like it) but it's likely to be to be a semi-annual irritation for the foreseeable future. As we "spring forward" Sunday morning, we will not only lose an hour of sleep, we'll find that our circadian rhythm -- biological clock -- will be disrupted...
Keeping politics, emotion out of marijuana debate (03/05/15)
While the Nebraska Legislature considers legalization of marijuana for medical use, Nebraska, Kansas and even Colorado sheriffs are suing the State of Colorado over the state's 2012 legalization of marijuana for recreational use. County attorneys from Kansas and Nebraska have joined in the suit, which says the law violates federal law and shouldn't be permitted...
No mystery how world's richest got that way (03/04/15)
Southwest Nebraska has its share of wealthy people, but most of us can't imagine what it would be like to be ranked on Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people. Bill Gates topped the list again, as he has for 16 of the last 21 years, with a net worth $79.2 billion. Gates, along with No. 3, Warren Buffett, worth only $72.7 billion, have made an effort to do good things with their wealth through charity activities, but let's put things in perspective:...
Losing sleep not only malady as spring arrives (03/03/15)
Don't forget we'll all lose an hour of sleep this Sunday as we "spring forward" into Daylight Saving Time, that semi-annual misguided effort to make a day longer in the afternoon by making it shorter in the morning. If you're not grumpy from loss of sleep, however, you may find yourself being miserable from another season-related malady -- sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy and runy noses and watery eyes...
Should school buses have seat belts? (02/26/15)
Seatbelts have been required in American cars since the early 1960s, but not in school buses. Why not? That's what Dawn Prescott of Fremont wants to know, urging Nebraska lawmakers to adopt LB373, offered by Sen. Robert Hilkeman of Omaha, which would require public school buses purchased after Jan. 1, 2016 to come equipped with lap-shoulder belts. Schools would have to demonstrate twice a year how to properly wear the belts...
The long-running Planet Show continues (02/25/15)
The Planet Show featuring Venus and other planets continues in the west after sunset for the next few months through the end of July. In the coming weeks Uranus and Jupiter will get involved and the moon will pay a few more visits. Tonight -- Wednesday, Feb. 25 -- the moon has moved on to scooch up close to the star Aldebaran in Taurus, the Bull...
Red Tape shouldn't divide consumers from producers (02/25/15)
We've seen popular Facebook posts promoting the idea of teaching gardening in public schools as a way of letting children find out where food comes from, and even how to grow it for themselves. McCook has been home to a couple of community gardens, with varying involvement and success, and gardeners suffered a blow when one of the local nurseries went out of business just when seedlings should have been planted for this spring...
Can we be too careful when it comes to allergies? (02/24/15)
Cleanliness is next to godliness, right? They say plumbers have probably done as much as doctors to extend modern life spans, but can cleanliness go too far? According to the so-called hygiene hypotheses, allergies and autoimmune disorders are caused by the ultra-sterile environment made possible by antibacterial soap, disinfectants and other common cleansers...
'Eat yourself thin' idea may not be so far-fetched after all (02/23/15)
Sure, there's still snow on the ground, but the garden supplies are starting to appear in the stores and listen closely and you'll already hear a stray flock of Sandhill cranes on their way north. The YMCA's annual team weight-loss challenge is in full swing, and while many of us aren't all that concerned about how we'll appear in a bathing suit, it would be nice to shed a few pounds before we shed our heavy winter camouflage -- er, clothing...
Should you judge a man by his ratio? (02/20/15)
Beyonce's advice to men, "if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it" could apply to women as well, and they should check out the length of the finger, if a McGill University study is to be believed. If his index finger is shorter and his ring finger longer, he may make a better husband, according to the study...
Less-lethal weapons offer more options (02/19/15)
The Ferguson, Missouri, officer who left his job because of last year's killing of Michael Brown probably won't be sued by the federal government, but the Justice Department may sue the entire police department if it doesn't change tactics Washington sees as "racially discriminatory."...
More than one side to road rage story (02/18/15)
It was a horrible story. Tammy Meyers, a 44-year-old mother of four, was giving her 15-year-old daughter a driving lesson last week when they had an encounter with another driver. One thing led to another and she wound up with a bullet wound to the head, dying on Valentine's Day when she was taken off life support...
Pipeline, trucks, trains or boats all spill crude oil (02/17/15)
We notice developments every day in alternative means of transportation, from hybrid to plug-in hybrids to straight electric cars (Apple most recently mentioned) to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. While alternative energy for transportation is showing promise, better batteries and breakthrough technology announced on a regular basis, most of us are going to be dependent on oil for many years to come...
Authorities show fear of free speech, free enterprise (02/16/15)
There are a lot of scary things in the world today, ISIS or ISIL or Daesh (the latter a derogatory term favored by opponents), Russia and the conflict in Ukraine, global warming, stray asteroids, cancer -- but there seems to be one common fear in the news, at least among some of those in power: Freedom...
She doesn't want anything Saturday? Don't believe her (02/13/15)
A warning to Romeos whose significant others say they don't want anything special on Saturday. They don't really mean it. According to WalletHub, in fact, 53 percent of women say they would break up with their significant others if they got nothing for Valentine's Day...
Facebook 'legacy' option welcome addition to site (02/12/15)
Achieve immortality through social media? Some of our church page columnists might have another point of view, but thinking about Facebook and death isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. Facebook for many of us fills a void that used to be filled by phone calls, letters and postcards -- postcards from the turn of the last century (1899-1900) seem eerily like the text messages, tweets and Facebook posts of today...
Yes, we'll all miss Jon Stewart, but what about Brian Williams? (02/11/15)
Not many red state political buffs may miss Jon Stewart, who announced Tuesday that he was leaving "The Daily Show" after 15 years, but they should. Yes, he took a decidedly left-wing view of current events, but there was no question what he thought about issues as they arose...
Trend is toward more robots (02/10/15)
We may not have our jet packs or flying cars, but while they might not look like the Jestons' Rosie, robot vacuum cleaners are not uncommon, prowling our homes and terrorizing pets while cleaning their hair from the floors. Automation is taking over more and more of the mundane tasks in our lives, from controlling the thermostat to parallel parking our cars -- self-driving cars are under development...
Perfect storm leaves millions vulnerable to identity theft (02/09/15)
Imagine the following scenario: We require everyone in the country to buy a product, which requires them to provide all their most sensitive information: Social Security numbers, banking information, salary levels, etc. Then we allow criminals to have that information...
Voter ID, mail-in ballots both reasonable ideas (02/06/15)
While Nebraska legislators are debating a bill to make voting more difficult, they are also considering one to make it easier. The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs committee voted 7-1 on Wednesday to advance Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill's bill that would require voters to show a driver's license, state ID card or other government-issued photo identification...
Net neutrality issue should be watched closely (02/05/15)
When we turn on the faucet, water comes out, and we don't give it much more thought than that. We pay the bill from the city, or the power company that provides the electricity to pump it out of the ground, and we expect it to appear in abundance when we turn the faucet...
Communicable diseases stay in news spotlight (02/03/15)
We've frequently taken to the soap box about vaccinations, and there is more affirmation about the importance of the topic. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported 215 cases of whooping cough in January, emphasizing the need for children to receive routine vaccinations to prevent this potentially fatal disease...
Don't trust just anyone with your tax return (02/02/15)
Potential presidential candidate Mike Huckabee continues to push a national sales tax, the "Fair Tax," to replace the current IRS code. It sounds inviting to "abolish the IRS" as Huckabee contends, but opponents say it would lower the tax burden on the wealthiest while increasing it on the middle class. Lower-income people would receive "prefunds" on their purchases, but we have the right to be skeptical of any program gives the government money before sending it back...
Rural residents find many ways to make a living (01/30/15)
It's not surprising that a lot of people in rural Nebraska are farmers or have farm related jobs, but the self-employment trend is increasing, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's latest Nebraska Rural Poll. It's a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty sort of situation...
Don't let your home undermine your health (01/28/15)
Some of us are fatalistic when it comes to our health, especially "the big C," cancer. Yes, maybe we've quit smoking, or maybe we never did smoke, but a majority of us have anecdotal evidence that non-smokers can get lung cancer, too. Second-hand smoke, other environmental factors, bad genetics or just bad luck may be enough to make a non-smoker another cancer statistic...
Odds catch up with unvaccinated Disneyland visitors (01/27/15)
Measles was virtually eliminated in the United States 15 years ago, but inspired by now-discredited research linking vaccinations and autism and promoted by misguided celebrities, many parents are choosing not to have their children vaccinated. While many of those parents can afford to have their children immunized, other parents, those living in other countries, may not have the opportunity to obtain the shots...
Readers respond to online polls (01/23/15)
Readers had a few things to say about Thursday's editorial asking whether all cell phone use by drivers should be banned. That poll is still open, but so far, 19 readers said yes and 14 said no. "Head sets should be used. You see officers of the law driving around with a cell phone held to the side of their head all the time, or even on the computer device they have in the patrol cars," one reader commented. ...
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