Unanswered prayers

May 27, 2011 “It’s big, all right,” my wife gulped. It was her weak attempt to find common ground with the real estate lady. But I knew all too well Angie didn’t really want to be wearing that smile. Sure enough, as soon as the agent turned her back, that smile molded into a glare directed at me. I deserved it. Even the real estate lady didn’t seem too thrilled about driving way out here at my behest just to view this eye sore.

Websites raise free speech questions

May 27, 2011 Freedom of speech might logically seem to apply the same way whether the speech takes place on the street corner or on the Internet.But that basic First Amendment premise is as yet unsettled in our new web world.An intricate set of laws and judicial opinions on free speech and defamation has evolved over several centuries, from a system that existed mainly to protect the elite from criticism to one that enables anyone to seek compensation for what they see as unfair damage to their reputation.

Customer service, wired and dangerous

May 26, 2011 Are you dangerous?If you have a computer you are. And if you play the guitar, you can be positively lethal.Just ask United Airlines.When musician Dave Carroll’s guitar was severely damaged by United Airlines baggage handlers, he was unable to find anyone at United willing to make the situation right, so he made a music video about his woes.Customer loyalty expert Chip Bell describes Carroll’s hilarious video as “The guitar heard round the world.”

Deliver me from Facebooking

May 26, 2011 OK, I’m at the age where I just don’t “get” the attraction of social media. Facebook, in particular.When my son, Luke, opened a Facebook account for me on, I suppose it was Sept. 10, 2009 — because that was when I received the first “post” on my “wall” — I had hardly any idea what was going on with Facebook and I still don’t.If a message from my “wall” doesn’t automatically go to my email address, I usually will never see it.

Shock and awe

May 25, 2011 When I was in college I took a course in logic.  After listening to the reasoning behind the new shooting range I pulled out my old text to see what I missed. The land currently used for the new shooting range north of town sits on land bought and paid for by you, the taxpayer. We purchased the land at an exorbitant price, then ran all industrial strength utilities to it.

Singing to the end of life

May 25, 2011 Without warning, and with no time to take cover, a German shell exploded, causing Tommy’s world to go black. When he awoke in the field hospital, he could only see shadows, which faded until his vision was gone completely.When Tommy returned from the war, his determination and positive attitude amazed everyone. Often, others were more concerned about his disability than he was. He desired to major in dairy management at the state agricultural school, but those in charge discouraged him, feeling his blindness was too much to overcome.

Farmers markets in Ozark Gateway region

May 25, 2011 Local farmers markets are more important than ever. While Americans battle with obesity, high cholesterol and soaring prices for processed and packaged foods, farmers markets offer fresh produce, often harvested the same day it is available for sale. Many markets also include farm fresh eggs, home-grown plants and herbs, baked goods and local crafts. Projects like the Southern Foodways Alliance and initiatives such as “field to table” and the “slow food movement” have awakened us to the importance of “eating local” and buying food from people we know and trust.

Parents, not kids, are ‘illegitimate’

May 24, 2011 My adoptive parents told me I was “chosen,” but the kids at school told me I was a “bastard.”The recent headlines about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelities and the son he fathered out of wedlock have stirred many old memories and emotions.I was 4 years old when I learned I was adopted. It was just before my sister Maureen’s 8th birthday. I told her, “I know what you’re getting for your birthday.”“Don’t spoil the secret,” she said. “If you tell me, I’m going to tell you a secret!”

States’ secession was never made illegal

May 24, 2011 One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas had begun its preparations for war, both on the home front as well as on the national front. As state and Confederate regiments were being formed throughout the state, the national scene was looking quite grim; it was apparent that neither the Unionists nor the Confederates would be able to make peace.

Investing in small business development

May 24, 2011 A policy idea hatched at the Center for Rural Affairs and enacted as part of the 2008 farm bill is helping lift up small businesses across the nation and helping rural people rebuild our economy and strengthen our communities.In only two years of operation, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program at USDA has awarded grants for business training and loan capital to 83 small business development organizations in 38 states across the country.