Written by Bob Woelk Tuesday, 11 December 2012 14:25As we approach the end of another year, I suppose I should be just that much smarter. But, I find there are still quite a few things I don’t understand. Here are just a few examples.
I still don’t get jazz. I mean, just play it the same way every time. I know it’s an art form, and I can’t really read music anyway, but I find all that improvising annoying.
I can’t figure out how leaders of other countries can kill their own citizens. In Syria, for example, the death toll in the uprising there has climbed to 42,000. Yes, we have plenty of hostility in our nation’s capitol, but our government would never dream of trying to wipe out its citizen critics.
I still don’t understand the appeal of smoking. Even when the tax on a...
Written by Bob Woelk Tuesday, 13 November 2012 15:36The election of 2012 mercifully has come to an end. Now we can go back to the business of getting ready for the after-Thanksgiving sales. But, what, if anything, can we take away from this year’s balloting?
First, we learned that super PACs are here to stay, and they are major players. More than $1.3 billion was spent by conservative estimates during this election season to try to buy everything from statehouse seats to the presidency.
This torrent of cash was unleashed by a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that permitted big donors to anonymously contribute to the candidate or cause of their choosing.
Republicans were responsible for spending two-thirds of the super PAC total. The return on that investment was low by all accounts. But...
Written by Bob Woelk Tuesday, 09 October 2012 14:22So, it looks like I will be throwing my vote away again in a few weeks. Thanks to the insistence of our Congress to hang on to the archaic institution of the Electoral College, if a Kansas voter does not cast a ballot for the Republican candidate for president this November, he or she is likely “spitting in the wind.”
It amazes me the Electoral College has survived since the founding fathers established it as part of the Constitution more than 200 years ago. I believe it is just another example of how the power of the individual has been diminished.
According to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, the organization that oversees the electoral process and verifies the presidential vote, more than 700 proposals have...
Written by Bob Woelk Tuesday, 11 September 2012 15:47I figured this might be a good month for some updates concerning several events I have chronicled in columns past.
A year ago in September, I wrote about the plague of starlings that invaded my backyard trees by the hundreds. I vowed that I would not let them return in 2012. And, I was true to my word.
They tried to come back in July, but I was ready for them. I pulled out the trusty device invented by my colleague at the high school. It is two boards held together with a hinge. I open and close the two pieces rapidly, creating a 100-decibel smack.
For some reason, the birds hate that sound. Even if they are 50 feet in the air, they change directions when they hear the crack of the boards.
I also tossed some firecrackers into the...
Written by Bob Woelk Tuesday, 07 August 2012 15:19Our trip to New York City seems like a lifetime ago, but the Smithsonian Student Travel excursion to the Big Apple my wife Kathy and I sponsored actually took place in June. I reported on the first couple of days in last month’s column. What follows is an account of the final two days.
We departed on the ferry from the New Jersey shore at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, which is like the crack of dawn for New Yorkers.
The Statue of Liberty is something you have to see at least once. But, we found Ellis Island more intriguing. The old buildings feel haunted by historical figures. Like the Metropolitan Museum of Art the day before, there was not enough time to adequately soak in all that this stop had to offer. We could only imagine what the...
Page 2 of 15