Ledge report

February 21, 2011 LITTLE ROCK —  The stage has been set in the Arkansas Senate for the big showdown of the 2011 legislative session.At one end of the street are legislators who want to cut taxes by as much as $50 million a year and perhaps even more. On the other side are the governor, administration officials and legislators who fear that the loss of revenue from so many tax cuts will force state government to trim vital services.The House passed three separate tax cut bills and sent them to the Senate, where they will be considered with Senate tax cut bills.

Gift brings flood of memories

February 18, 2011 Three books my wife and son gave me earlier this week have really flooded me with memories of growing up down on the farm — if you can call a few acres between Sandtown and Cushman that grew mostly scrub timber, along with a few chickens and even fewer cattle, a farm.Joe W. Smith’s three volumes of “Ring-Tail Tooters & Yeller Bad’Uns,”  brings back so many memories I don’t know where to start in the telling — and so far, I’ve read only about a third of the stories in each volume.

Teaching evolution

February 18, 2011 Has your child’s science teacher ever been caught slumming at the zoo and proclaiming, “There but by the grace of natural selection go I”?If so, he’s in the minority. According to a national survey of 926 public high school biology teachers (published in Science magazine), only 28 percent of respondents unabashedly follow the recommendations of the National Research Council to describe straightforwardly the evidence for evolution and explain the ways in which it is “the unifying theme linking disparate topics in biology.”

GOP, planned parenthood

February 18, 2011 The GOP wants to paint itself as fiscally conservative. In the face of all evidence to the contrary (i.e. George W. Bush skyrocketing the size of government and the unpaid tax cuts bearing his name being championed by his party), they want to pretend they’re the “grownups” on budgetary matters. Yes, conservatives are prudent and sound when it comes to spending.And jobs? They’re mono-minded and singularly focused.according to their tweets.

Why we need romance

February 17, 2011 We sure could use some more romance right about now — particularly among our younger people.I speak of the debate surrounding “Skins,” the latest provocative MTV show. It portrays teens indulging in illegal drugs, booze and “hooking up.”Many argue that the show elevates deviant behavior —that it will encourage highly impressionable teens to mimic what they see.Others argue that today’s teens are grappling with a lot of these issues in real life — that the show helps showcase the dangers of such behaviors.

Huckabee’s unanswered question

February 17, 2011 On a beautifully calm winter day near the Sea of Galilee, former Gov. Mike Huckabee shared with a group of Americans his concern for the future of Israel. With riots raging across the border in Egypt, the calm took on an ominous character. How could a land so at risk of war be so serene?

Why God made moms

February 16, 2011 Occasionally some really cute things come by way of the Internet that can make you smile. The following answers were given by  second grade schoolchildren to the following questions:Why did God make mothers?1.  She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.2.  Mostly to clean the house.3.  To help us out of there when we were getting born.How did God make mothers?1.  He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.2.  Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.

Winter of discontent

February 16, 2011 So long, winter. Buhbbye now! Don’t let the screen door hit you. What in the wide-wide world of sports was that all about? Twenty below ... in Arkansas? Two feet of snow? Are you kidding me?

First date

February 15, 2011 I grew up in the middle of nowhere, with the closest neighbor being almost a mile away in one direction and 100 miles in the other. We lived on the edge of the desert with sagebrush, cactus, and coyotes stretching for miles.My day consisted of milking cows night and morning, as well as chores like moving cattle from one pasture to another, hauling hay, and changing pipe. The air was sweet and clean and the sky was clear and blue. I usually worked long hours, and I worked alone.

Skunked again!

February 15, 2011 It’s breeding season for skunks!How do I know this? Because my dogs made sure I knew!Saturday morning, while Gary was off to work at a dismal 4:30 a.m., I was sound asleep in bed, at least for another hour and a half. Then — in my sleep and through a bedroom wall, mind you — I smelled the putrid odor that can stir anger as quickly as disgust.