Category: Staff Soapbox

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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Holidays rekindle trivia, memories

Another year has flown by and it?s the holiday season again. I consider
myself very fortunate to have many reasons to be happy, and I wish the
same for you in the coming year.

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Let’s punish those spam senders and make them eat their words

I hate spam. Fortunately I don?t get very much of it at home. I have a Mac and my e-mail program is set up to be pretty strict about what it lets through. And that?s after my e-mail provider gets through filtering it as well.

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Oh my Father (Veteran’s Day tribute from a son)
Oh my Father (Veteran’s Day tribute from a son)

Oh my Father (Veteran’s Day tribute from a son)

Wayne Engler, a World War II veteran of the First Armored Division, currenly lives in a nursing home in Overbrook.

Oh my Father,
what am I to say
to you who woke
with the thousands of dead
around you many mornings,
so much so,
that you tell me,
being around the dead
doesn?t bother you.
I fear death
as I know we all do,
even with faith,
as you must too,
because you tell me
the Ten Commandments include
?Thou shalt not kill,?
so you must be going to hell,
you say.

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The sooner we leave, the greater our chances of surviving our ignorance

This seems like a great time to address two of my favorite subjects: science and monsters.

Monsters exist within us all and symbolize aspects of human nature. They allow us to conveniently distance ourselves from those things we dislike about ourselves, and enjoy entertaining them without the negative consequences imposed by reality.

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Staff Comment- You can do something about these issues

It should be apparent to you by now that there are three great, related crises going on that you absolutely have the power to do something about.

You might tell me that the part you play in each is small compared to the total number of people needed to sway each one of them. But don?t you dare tell me you lack the power, therefore, to make a difference, or that you don?t count.

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Scientific advancements help humanity extend its reach as far as it can

Recent events inspired me to write about a few things that have been on my mind lately. They?re aspects of something Bill O?Reilly calls the ?culture war.? See, I?m one of those people O?Reilly would call a ?secular progressive.?

To begin, let?s consider that phrase for a moment. The first word is secular. Merriam-Webster?s online dictionary lists one of the definitions as ?not overtly or specifically religious.? That certainly fits me.

The second word is progressive. As opposed to what, Bill? Regressive? Should we regress socially to the days of slavery or to feudalism or all the way back to tribalism? Should we regress back to stone-age technologically? Of course not.

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