Now what?

September 29, 2009 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — After years of talk and debate, this is the week that Arkansas flips the switch on its lottery. Now what?Facing a chorus of criticism and questions about the startup of Arkansas’ lottery, the games’ director repeatedly asked for some leeway as he prepared to sell the first tickets.“Here’s what I’m asking folks to give me leave on, let me flip on the switch,” Lottery Director Ernie Passailaigue said earlier this year.

Remembering Granddad

September 29, 2009 I was just thinking the other day that Thursday (Oct. 1) would have been my granddad’s 90th birthday.It’s been more than three years since he died, and I miss my granddad so much. The longer he’s gone, the more I think he was the stabilizing force of our whole family. He was the head of the family, but so much more. Granddad was always so level headed, not prone to emotional outbursts. I never saw him lose his temper or have a fit. I only saw him cry once in my life.

‘Fair’ camels are a hit

September 28, 2009 I had no idea camel’s fur could be so soft until Thursday.Mention the word “camel” and thoughts of the Middle East, the hot desert, Arabian traders with silk outfits, tassels and velvet, along with gold “genie” lamps and frankincense all come to my mind. I certainly don’t think of Arkansas or a petting zoo at the district fair in Jonesboro.But there they were, along with a Zedonk (the half Zebra, half donkey), two water buffaloes, alpaca, llama, sheep and several baby goats.

Expanding political power

September 25, 2009 Today, as you read this column in your favorite newspaper, I hope that you can appreciate the irony of where I am choosing to voice my opposition to President Obama’s expressed “happiness” to look at proposals to provide federal funding to help “rescue” the struggling print segment of the Fourth Estate. Just what we need ... more of our tax dollars going to pick and choose segments of the public sector that the administration deems worthy of assistance.


September 24, 2009 Politics and criticsDear Editor: It seems that the Democrats have decided that fewer people would complain about and protest the policies of the Obama Administration if the Barack Obama Administration had been the Hillary Clinton Administration instead.  No, wait.  The protest would then be because of sexism.  Dang it!  Should have gone with John Edwards.

Steamboats in history

September 24, 2009 A nifty book I picked up for about 25 cents somewhere is interesting to steamboat buffs and history buffs. “Merchant Steam Vessels of the United States 1807-1868” is a 294-page list of steamboats, including inland waterway vessels, sometimes called The Lytle List for its compiler, William M. Lytle who gathered the information from official Merchant Marine documents and other sources.The copyright on my copy is 1952.

Rampant rudeness

September 23, 2009 Outbursts in Congress, cursing on the tennis courts, and grabbing the mic from a young award winner; everyone is lamenting our loss of civility as more and more public figures continue to behave badly. To quote my grandmother, I think someone has forgotten their manners. It would be easy to go off on a rant about the disrespectful congressman, the angry athlete or the scene-stealing rapper, but these people are not acting in a cultural vacuum.

What about a Twinkie tax?

September 23, 2009 In that corner, you got your “seven deadly sins.” This is a list of bad stuff people do, thought by many to be listed in the Bible, but it isn’t. The list was actually compiled by Pope Gregory, sometime around 600 AD. Nonetheless, it has become part of Christian doctrine and, well, that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

A slow, quick goodbye

September 22, 2009 In the waning days of winter, March 1980, I was 23 years old, and my father was dying.His illness was a startling development. He’d been working every day as a machinist, as he had for decades, right up to the morning my phone rang with my mother’s frantic message that there was something seriously wrong with Dad. He couldn’t talk. At all.