Saving for a rainy day

June 17, 2010 My father was right — though it took me a while to realize it.He was born in 1933, when 25 percent of Americans were out of work. His father died when he was only 3, leaving his mother to raise him and his older sister alone.The young family moved from a comfortable house into a cramped apartment. There was little money to spare.My father learned from his mother how to stretch a dollar — skills that would serve him well.He married in 1956 when he was 23 — an optimistic time for America. The Depression had ended, the economy was blossoming.

Methane can take place of oil

June 17, 2010 The revelation that a bubble of “frozen methane” — methane gas hydrates — from the Gulf floor caused the April explosion that killed 11 workers on a deep sea drilling rig, starting the massive oil well leak that continues to contaminate Gulf water and beaches, came as no surprise.In a column four years ago I wrote of frozen methane, pointing out that enough methane hydrates are trapped in ocean sediment along the United States’ Eastern seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico and other nearby waters to satisfy this country’s estimated energy requirements for the next 125,000 years.

Voters notice

June 16, 2010 Many times he just “shows up” with no forewarning or fanfare, nor is it surprising to see him stop by the newspaper “just to chat.”That’s been the practice of Rep. Marion Berry in my many years of working with him and I, for one, will be sorry to see him go.In reality, he is a journalist’s dream. He doesn’t care what he says or how he says it, which is so politically refreshing. Rarely were any conversations “off the record.”

Results equal evidence

June 16, 2010 Begin with Paul Volker, Larry Summers, Richard Holbrooke and Robert Rubin. Toss in Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, Bill Gates, and Eric Schmidt.Add a pinch of protester pressure and a hearty helping of heads of state. Then stir briskly while adding leaders from the global financial community as well as 300 Spanish police personnel for good measure. Finally, exclude the mass media and we can call it a meeting conference.

Prison growth

June 15, 2010 LITTLE ROCK — The growth of the state prison system is unsustainable, the governor and the chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court said during an announcement of a far-reaching study of methods to change sentencing laws.

Flooding causes havoc

June 15, 2010 Water, water, water everywhere.This year has to be some kind of record for flooding in Arkansas and Tennessee. My dad’s cousin lives in Henderson, Tenn., and he’s been sharing some of their stories, like how his son Zachariah used his boat to rescue one of his neighbors, where water had flooded the first story of the neighbor’s home. Most of us have seen the photos by now. Homes washed off their foundations. Backyards turned into lakes. Water standing in homes. Cars stranded and submerged. Belongings piled on the street in the aftermath. The list goes on and on.

Movin’ on up

June 14, 2010 I couldn’t be more excited for Batesville to have a new eating place.Ever since word that the Wing Shack and Cheeseburger Grill like the one at Mountain View had plans for building in town, I was thrilled.Driving by the old Sweden Crème every day on my way to work, watching it transform into a wooden “shack” was fun as each day and week brought with it a new activity to the building as it prepared to open.On Saturday, Luke and I decided it was no better time than to try Batesville’s new food spot, and I must say the popcorn shrimp and french fries were yummy.

It’s all about balance

June 14, 2010  Gather ’round, chillerins. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Ol’ Rick ain’t as far to the left, politically, as you may believe.When we — me ‘n mama, the only yellow dogs in all of northwest Arkansas, it seems —were walking across the school parking lot to cast our highly visible votes in the runoff election, we ran into another couple we knew. They, of course, being well-to-do businesspeople, are what you’d call “right-wingers.” So, I had to take a few moments (half hour?) of their time to harass them about ... pretty much everything.

Protecting Old Glory

June 11, 2010 One sure way to light up The American Legion’s switchboards is for an overzealous homeowners association to ban the display of Old Glory within its community. While these disturbing incidents seem to be on the rise in recent years, I find it completely ironic that while a ban can exist on flying the flag of our country, no such ban is allowed to exist on desecrating it.