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April Fool’s Day

March 31, 2006 at 1:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Does anybody have any great tricks up their sleeve for the big day tomorrow? I’m a little torked that it falls on a Saturday since I have a bunch of ideas for things I could do at work. I would feel bad doing anything to The Missus at home since I already give her a hard enough time on a daily basis. Maybe my April Fool’s Day prank on her should be not doing anything, a la the M*A*S*H episode where the joke on Hawkeye is that there was no joke.

Or maybe I’m just being intentionally misleading because I know she’ll read this post…

Spring Break at Wal-Mart

March 27, 2006 at 6:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The other day the Journal Star featured an editorial praising college students who opted to use their Spring Break for volunteerism, rather than heading south for beaches, boobs, and bacchanalia. Skyler Bartels, a student at Drake University from Harvard, Nebraska, spent his Spring Break at a much more mundane location: Wal-Mart.

If Baby Arrives Tomorrow…

March 23, 2006 at 1:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Mother-in-Law is coming to town this weekend, and she and The Missus plan to do some baby shopping while she is in town. The Missus and I have done a little browsing ourselves, but we haven’t actually purchased anything yet. Buying baby stuff is a little weird when you don’t know if your kid is going to show up tomorrow, next week, or next year. The actual purchase of, say, a crib says “hey, we’re really going to have a baby”. That, in turn, generates the usual thoughts and emotions. But what if the baby doesn’t show up for another 6 or 12 months? It’s a lot of mostly unavoidable emotional roller coastering.

I’m sure many of you have baby experience, so I have a quick query for you: Assume we just found out that our baby would arrive tomorrow. What do we absotively posolutely have to have on hand for the arrival? What do we need to have within the first week? Within the first month? Feel free to throw in brand recommendations if you’ve got ‘em.

And just to head off the questions, yes, this is a hypothetical exercise, and no, there will not be any Wilson babies showing up at 625 Elm Street tomorrow. The adoption process is filled with “what if” questions (“What if they call with twins?”, “What if the baby has [some disease or syndrome]?”, “What if the birth mother insists the baby’s middle name be Sasquatch?”), of which this is just one.

Worrisome Ag News

March 23, 2006 at 1:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Fully one-third of Nebraska’s economy relies on agriculture. That’s great news for those individuals associated with the industry, but Nebraskans as a whole ought to be concerned. Nebraska should be striving for more economic diversity, not less. And yet, if you listen to Nebraska’s noisiest politicians (Governor Heineman, Rep. Tom Osborne, Pat Ricketts), you get the impression that there is no such thing as too much dependence on agriculture.

Nebraska is an ag state, and will be for the forseeable future. We should be proud of agriculture’s history and future in our state. But where others see the upward slope of agriculture’s rise, I see the downward slope of the contribution of Nebraska’s other assets. Excessive reliance on any one piece of the economic machine can be extremely dangerous for our state, especially in the long term. It sure would be nice for Nebraska’s economic development plan to emphasize the importance of products and services other than ethanol and cows.

Snow Rant

March 21, 2006 at 7:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is stupid.

Read more...

Blame Game

March 21, 2006 at 1:38pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

It’s interesting to me that the Lincoln Journal Star seems to think that our country’s budget woes are the Republican Party’s fault. Have they forgotten all of the other groups who deserve blame? I’d say the political pachyderms are about 40% at fault. The Democrats carry about 30% of the blame. And the remaining 30%? I assign that to Americans generally. The editorial hints at assigning blame to the citizenry, but instead opts to let them slide due to ignorance (or something).

That’s not to take any heat off the GOP, though. We ought to be plenty ticked off at America’s so-called “conservative” party (ha!) and their fiscal management skills (double ha!). But the Dems aren’t exactly putting up a fight, and we Americans apparently don’t give a damn. Placing the blame entirely on the shoulders of the Republican Party smells more like petty partisanship than exercising principles.

Gee, I Wonder What the Dog Smelled…

March 16, 2006 at 6:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

A bomb-sniffing dog identified a potential bomb threat at Cox Arena at San Diego State University, hours before the start of NCAA men’s basketball tournament action there. Was it an explosive device?

“A bomb-sniffing dog noticed something in a hot dog cart,” [college spokesman Jack] Beresford said. “They got a hit on something that was in the cart itself.

Hmm…

What Would You Ask?

March 16, 2006 at 2:00am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I haven’t talked about our adoption in a while. When I thought of this topic, I figured it would make a good post to generate some feedback.

One of the things about open adoption is that there is a very good chance that we will either speak with or meet the birth mother prior to the adoption taking place, or perhaps even before she makes her decision about who she would like to be her child’s adoptive parents. Let’s say you’re going to meet the birth mother for the first time. She is pregnant, and she is trying to decide if you will be the person the child inside her calls mom or dad. What questions would you ask the birth mother? What would you tell her?

The Missus and I have obviously thought a lot about those questions. But there’s no way we have thought of everything, and frankly, there aren’t many resources describing what to do at this sort of a first meeting. So I wonder, dear reader who probably has no plans to adopt, what comes to your mind?

Fight Cancer, Eat an Habanero

March 15, 2006 at 1:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

This is one of the coolest ledes I’ve read in a long time:

Capsaicin, the stuff that turns up the heat in jalapeños, not only causes the tongue to burn, it also drives prostate cancer cells to kill themselves, according to studies published in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research.

As a big capsaicin fan and prostate cancer opponent, this makes me very happy. Plus, there’s just something cool about the notion of suicidal prostate cancer cells. Hmm…band name?

Peter Tomarken Hits a Whammy

March 14, 2006 at 2:05pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I was a huge fan of Press Your Luck back in the day. Sadly, host Peter Tomarken was killed in a plane crash Monday.

In honor of Tomarken, read about Michael Larsen, the man who took Press Your Luck for $110,000 by paying attention.

Old School WoF on Family Guy

March 13, 2006 at 6:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Did any of you catch Family Guy last night? Did you notice the Wheel of Fortune clip? In it, Peter got to select prizes with his cash, just like they used to do it on WoF years and years ago. I used to love yelling at the contestants through the TV, “No you idiot! Don’t pick the lamp! Pick the juke box! And who goes on a game show to win a couch? You should’ve chosen the NES you bozo!” Then again, I was probably 8 at the time, so what did I know?

I think it would be great if Wheel of Fortune would do a “Flashback Week” once each year where the contestants get to pick prizes like in the old days. Or am I the only one?

Ornery Ernie

March 12, 2006 at 7:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Ernie Chambers is brilliant. He is a master legislator, and he is dedicated to his principles in a way that few of us comprehend.

Nancy Hicks has an article in today’s Journal Star titled “The Ernie Factor”. I’m not really sure what her purpose was. I think she was trying to build understanding of the Unicameral’s reviled enigma. Instead, I think she just provided more ammunition for the majority of Nebraskans, the ones who voted for term limits primarily to give Ernie the boot. Folks like Jim E. McLaughlin:

I’ll admit I voted for term limits basically because of one person and his antics. I’m sure it will be no surprise to many when I say it’s Ernie Chambers.

...

Will Nebraska lose some experienced senators? Of course, but this “career politician” needs to see the door ASAP.

Jim E. McLaughlin, Lincoln

Not that Senator Chambers is helping his own cause, of course. His actions and comments this session have, as they so often have over the years, been at times paranoid, hate-filled, and even unapologetically bigoted. One of Chambers’ biggest weaknesses is his willingness to flaunt his power. He is a power-tripper. Worse, he is aware of his power not only over the Unicameral, but over Nebraskans generally. He speaks and acts in ways that often seemed designed specifically to get himself airtime across the state. He is an egomaniac.

I respect Ernie Chambers’ intellect, his legislative prowess, his adherence to his principles, and his willingness and ability to slow or even halt the legislative process. Those are all good things—even the latter. (Especially the latter.) But boy, I loathe the guy as a man. He is stained by so many of the same sins he calls out in others. Ernie Chambers is Nebraska’s Jerry Falwell.

Back to the Jim McLaughlins of the state. Where I differ from them is my appreciation of the imperfections of democracy as features, not bugs. I think it is healthy for society that, for example, Ernie Chambers’ constituents can elect him over and over if they like, and I don’t get a say. I don’t want a say. I don’t want a say because I don’t want his constituents to have a say about my representative.

There are other reasons Nebraskans voted for term limits, of course. It would be disingenuous of me to imply that everybody who voted for term limits did so primarily to boot Ernie Chambers out of office. But most of those reasons are, in a word, poor. It took something extra—the Ernie factor—to push the vote over 50%.

Ernie Chambers has taught Nebraska a lot over the past three decades, and on the whole, he has helped the Unicameral pass better laws. For that I thank him. As for the rest of the Ernie package? Well, let’s just say I won’t be inviting him to dinner any time soon.

Nudity in the News

March 12, 2006 at 7:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Journal Star letters to the editor are almost always good for a laugh. Today’s first letter really got me to chuckle:

I am very disappointed that the March 9 Lincoln Journal Star newspaper would have such disgusting pictures of nudity. Why is it important news that we see these pictures and know about the calendar that is being sold with these awful pictures?

There are plenty of more interesting and uplifting stories that could occupy such an important place in the news of this city than that. I am offended to have to see that as front-page news.

Linda Elder, Lincoln

The calendar with the “awful pictures” is a fund-raiser for Magnet, town of 85 in northeast Nebraska. They want to build a new community center. To raise money, they are selling a calendar featuring photographs of area men posing in the buff, with their nether regions covered in various creative ways. Well, the men aren’t actually naked; they wore shorts for the photo shoot, and the shorts were later edited out.

I feel really, really sorry for people who are so uptight that not only are they offended by something this harmless (and humorous), but they also go to the trouble to embarass themselves by writing to the newspaper to complain and agreeing to have their letter printed.

If you are, for whatever bizarre reason, unoffended by such debauchery, you can order a calendar by sending $17.50 to: The Magnet Community Foundation, Box 22, Magnet, NE 68749.

Photograph of The Men of Magnet story in the March 9, 2006 Lincoln Journal Star

I apologize for the poor quality of the image. I couldn’t find the archived story (or photos) on the Journal Star’s website, so I just took a quick photo of the front page of the March 9, 2006 Lincoln Journal Star. Click on the image to view a larger version (pop-up).

Update: Another letter showed up in the March 13, 2006 Journal Star:

Half-naked calendar men? How utterly distasteful! I cannot believe that the Journal Star has nothing else to print. How do I explain to my daughters who are 11 and 13 what these pictures depict. They do read the paper for school.

If one of those was my father, I would be so disappointed in him. Could this small town not find any other way to raise money?

There are so many other interesting things going on in Lincoln, one of them being state tournaments. Do we really need to print such trash?

Rolanda Kortan, Lincoln

Everybody Has a Website These Days!

March 8, 2006 at 1:26pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Image of the Nebraska state quarter

The Nebraska state quarter has its very own website. Betcha can’t wait to bookmark that URL!

President Bush on Trial

March 7, 2006 at 6:36pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I don’t know about you, but I think the mock war crimes trial of President Bush taking place at a New Jersey high school is an excellent academic exercise. It’s the type of bold assignment that gets students fired up as active participants in their learning. Sure, the topic is inflammatory, but that’s half the fun. And besides, the process is the valuable part of the lesson—conducting research, formulating arguments, building a defense, communicating effectively in oral and written arguments, and so on. The verdict isn’t important at all. (In fact, no verdict will be rendered at the end of the exercise.)

I love hearing about teachers who go to the trouble to engage their students in this sort of captivating work. In an era of test-centric public education, it’s refreshing to know that teachers aren’t just throwing creativity out the window. It’s not surprising that many people have a knee-jerk reaction against this sort of thing, but I would hope that upon reflection—if they bother to go to the trouble—they recognize the value of pedagogical approaches that stir the pot a little.

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