Chief will have to prove worth

June 15, 2009 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Despite the sticker shock, the $324,000 annual price tag for Arkansas’ first lottery chief doesn’t come close to the million-dollar deals normally reserved for big name college football coaches.The expectations he faces — and the consequences if he fails to meet them — are probably just as big.Instead of trying to lower those expectations, new director Ernie Passailaigue is piling on to them.

Court of public opinion

June 12, 2009 With all due respect, none of the following people has ever made me do one thing differently in my life, except occasionally change the channel:Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann, Rush Limbaugh, Rachel Maddow and dozens of others whose job is to express their opinions via television or radio.All of them — including Oprah, Rachel, Ellen, Conan, Jay and Dave — do occasionally entertain, intrigue, infuriate and (sorry) sometimes bore me. But they also often make me think. Sometimes I agree with them. Sometimes I don’t.

How a pencil is made

June 11, 2009 Now is a good time to revisit the 1958 essay in which Leonard Read examined how a pencil is made — how it is miraculous that a pencil is made at all.The standard pencil begins when a cedar is cut down. Ropes and gear tug it onto the bed of a truck or a rail car.Think of all the numberless people and skills involved in mining ore to produce steel and refine the steel into saws, axes and motors, wrote Read.Think of all the people who grow hemp, then transform it, through various stages, into a strong rope.

Reading body language

June 11, 2009 We all know that body language can convey thoughts and emotions. But did you know that people are more likely to respond to your non-verbal messages than they are your verbal ones?Dr. Richard Strozzi-Heckler says, “When people listen, only 7 percent is content, the other 93 percent is body presence, which includes your tone of voice.”

Tax saints, not sinners

June 10, 2009 The government has it all wrong. Yeah, yeah, I know. Who’s ever heard THAT before? “This Just In: Water Is Wet.” What’s got my knickers in a big old knotted ball the size of Kobe Bryant’s ego this time around is the age-old practice of politicians balancing their financial shortsightedness on the backs of the little guy. The little BAD guy. I’m talking about sin taxes. Of which I might be secreting a bit more firsthand outrage than the rest of you guys, since I’m pretty much that little bad guy everybody is talking about.

Newsworthy events

June 10, 2009 On Sunday, May 31, 2009, Scott Roeder, 51, allegedly murdered Dr. George Tiller in his church. Tiller was one of three doctors in the US who performed late term abortions. Press reports indicate Roeder is a mentally ill, unemployed anti-abortion activist from Kansas City, Mo.On the heels of the murder President Obama said, “I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.”

Watching the great ones

June 9, 2009 There’s something special about watching the truly great ones at the height of their athletic careers. Several of the all-time greats excelled, once again, this past weekend. While baseball is my passion, I also follow NFL football big time, especially when it comes to my beloved Chicago Bears.

Generation X, part deux

June 9, 2009 Since my column about Generation X was published a couple weeks ago, a lot of people have called or come up to me and shared their memories about life in the 1980s. One person even wanted me to write something about the 1960s, but I’ll leave that to someone who enjoyed growing up in that decade. I am, after all, an ’80s chick!