Category: Staff Soapbox

Money means control in wind issue

You?re going to wonder if the kid?s become a scrambled egg, but I hope you?ll keep on reading after you discover what I?m thinking about.

You see, I?m writing it for you. And, don?t take umbrage with me for calling myself a kid. I once was truly one, and still can hardly wait to see what I do when I grow up.

I?m sitting on a box thinking about wind turbines, pig farms, colonization, Alexander Hamil?ton, Thomas Jefferson?and I?m not even Don Quixote.

I got started on all this today by reading that the Kansas House, according to Marion County Planning Director Bobbi Strait, is considering a bill that would effectively strip counties and cities of their basic right to regulate land use within their jurisdictions.

She said it directly addresses the use of any wind turbine or other equipment used for wind power. The Kansas Association of Counties is testifying against this bill, No. 2043. They say it overrides local zoning regulations.

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Rational discussion a logical choice

Another holiday season has passed already, with all its joys and the usual fuss and bother over how it?s celebrated.

Not that I want to rush my way through another year?2008 passed quickly enough, thank you very much?but I?m looking forward to seeing what 2009 will bring. It?s a combination of genuine anticipation and morbid curiosity over what new ways people will find to either celebrate life or attempt to ruin it for others?or both.

I watched on the Web, both in blog posts and video clips, the unfolding of the controversy that occurred in Olympia, Wash., over holiday displays. For me, that whole mess just underscores my feeling that such displays should only be allowed on private property?residences, businesses and organizations such as churches?in the interest of fairness to everyone.

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Is there money for a tutu bailout?

I lost my box.

But there?s nothing too lost about thinking outside a box when you can sit on a rock on the lot behind the Free Press office dreaming of daffodils. Sometimes losing something is good, and sometimes it?s bad.

It keeps Todd Jost wondering about what you might do next, and the fear of being put in another one of my columns led Andy Kraus to consider leaving town to build a bridge in Greenwood County.

So, nothing is too lost except for poor Lost Springs. A community building advisory team came through from Kansas State University a couple of weeks ago. They recommended tearing down half the buildings in Lost Springs as eyesores, and severely dressing up of those that are left. That would make it the nearly lost Lost Springs?at least until the Santa Fe Trail tourist trade booms just a little more.

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‘Wealth redistribution’ is detestable

I won?t discuss my voting decisions here, but I have to say I haven?t been particularly happy with either presidential candidate.

The ideal presidential platform, in my opinion, would combine fiscally conservative economic policies with secular, humanistic social values. Neither of the recent candidates, or their running mates, fit those views closely enough for me to get terribly excited about them. But of course a choice is necessary, for better or worse.

One concept brought up in the recent campaign?and one which I particularly detest?is wealth redistribution. I don?t think anyone?s success, assuming it comes by honest and legal means, should be punished, which is precisely the effect such a scheme would have.

Imagine if we could somehow pool all the money in the country, and then divide it equally among everyone. I don?t know the precise amount each person would get, but it would be be a lot. Those who work hard would soon be back to having large amounts of money, but those who act as though the world owes them a living would soon be back to where they were before, waiting to be spoon-fed.

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I was wondering while wandering?

I was wandering the streets of Hillsboro last week when I noticed a sign in the window of Paula Hayen?s pottery shop saying she was closed to care for a sick goat.

There?s no problem with that. There?s perks to being a CEO in the pottery industry, and Paula was only exercising one of them, taking care of a sick goat.

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Science of ‘soul’ could reduce our ills

There are two important areas of science that I think apply directly to a thorough understanding of human nature?neuroscience and evolution.

As the human species grows in its understanding of both of these, I believe we?ll find ways to combat a number of the societal ills with which we are currently beset. Not necessarily all, just some.

Not long ago I finished reading an excellent book by science writer Carl Zimmer, called ?The Soul Made Flesh.? Zimmer writes about the history of the study of the brain and mind and he covers a fair amount of English history that is intertwined with that medical history.

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A moment ‘outside the box,’ please

I?ve always enjoyed listening to former Marion County Commissioner Howard Collett because of his ability ?to think outside the box.?

For instance, I have heard Howard recommend planting the county?s dirt roads to buffalo grass to hold them in place from erosion and wear.

Such thinking requires a person to have the ability to leap from more commonly considered paths to those that usually are not thought of, but may end up having greater value.

But this article isn?t about dwelling on Howard?s merits, no matter how great they are. It?s about jumping out of the box to consider something new?and Howard?s buffalo-grass idea was an illustration.

This article is also not an opinion on whether the bond proposal based on a 1 percent sales tax to build a new county jail on the November ballot should pass or fail.

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Facing a cruel universe with science

Author Philip K. Dick once said, ?Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn?t go away.?

The best tool human minds have devised for understanding that reality is the scientific method. The greatest obstacle to increasing public understanding of that tool?especially in America?is that many people view the method itself as hostile to their way of thinking.

More often than not, it seems, people want to believe what they believe in spite of conflicting evidence or with no evidence at all. In those receptive to it, science works to pull back the reins on uncritical thinking.

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America: Imperfect but unsurpassed

The Fourth of July is almost upon us again. Patriotism and what this country means to me have been on my mind, particularly in this chaotic election year.

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Land use: A largely unspoken issue

If you ask Europeans visiting the United States what they see as the No. 1 environmental problem here, it is interesting to hear the vast majority come up with the same opinion.

No, it?s not air pollution or water pollution.<

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