A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
Government not the enemy
During a time of great hardship for our nation, the Depression, a wise president, born to wealth and privilege, but reviled by the elite as traitor to his class, once said, "Government can err, presidents do make mistakes. But the immortal Dante tells us that the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted are weighted on different scales by divine justice. Better the occasional fault of a government living in the spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference."
A later president, an amiable, well-liked dunce, once said, "Government is not the solution. Government is the problem." This has become a mantra of right-wing editorialists, along with the even more unfeeling and stupid, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."
These shallow sayings are repeated ad nauseam by some of our local editorial writers and pass, these days, for wisdom. Simple, unthinking people do not stop to realize that if our government is actually our enemy, then there is little hope for us.
I do not believe that this is the case. I believe that we, the people, are the government, and that if we stop electing our officials and members of Congress and various legislatures solely on the basis of narrow ideologies, we can yet put our nation back on the right track, that of fiscal solvency, while preserving essential, compassionate assistance for the less-fortunate in our midst.
I pray that it may come to pass.
Lancaster's DP-G contributions
I will miss reading Bob Lancaster, just like thousands of other Arkansans. There won't be anymore like him in the future because writers who grew up in the 1940s and '50s are dying out. We, as a society, are going to be poorer in every way because of it.
For example, Bob was the state's foremost observer of the nasty, mean dog-peter gnat (D-PG). I just wish Bob had been able to continue his groundbreaking research to find the answer as to why the D-PGs continue to harass and intimidate our dogs! Maybe someone can pick up where Bob left off and get our dogs out of this mess.
When Bob was a boy hanging out in Grant County, I was a boy puzzling over my dog's D-PG problems in Benton County. We boys in Gentry spent many hot summer afternoons trying to stay cool under the huge maple trees in my yard. Our dogs joined us, sprawling and panting, and we witnessed the D-PGs kamikaze attacks on our helpless dogs. We couldn't swat the gnats, as Bob's pointed out, because we would've injured our dogs' tender area.
Our dogs would start jumping and hopping around, scratching and biting at the swarming gnats. It wasn't a pretty scene. My black and white dog, Bullger, a hound/beagle mix, spent most of his days trying to out run the dive-bombing D-PGs. It was a grateful day for Bullger when we put him in the ground. The mean D-PGs couldn't torment him anymore.
Unfortunately, I don't see a younger generation stepping up and solving the D-PG problem. But we may solve it unintentionally: pollution, greenhouse gases, climate warming, rain forest elimination and other self-destructive behavior. The D-PGs and dogs may simply disappear like the dodo bird.
Distributed generation needed
I've just returned from our State Capitol to hear testimony about proposed House Bill 1390 — on distributed generation. It was so painful to hear these courageous and visionary supporters of renewable energy speak on deaf ears about the energy future of our state. The bill, submitted by freshman Rep. Warwick Sabin, suggests that our state require that utility companies acquire a meager 5 percent of our energy from renewable sources.
Almost all of our energy, 99 percent, currently comes from coal, gas or nuclear generated sources. The brave group presented facts on what distributed generation would mean for our state and what affect it would have on electric rates and green employment projections only to be shot down by a representative from Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and a very slick lobbyist representing the Heartland Institute spewing misinformation. But hey, the guy from Heartland spoke about the Razorbacks, and that seemed to make a bigger impression on the committee than the facts being presented by the proponents.
Eventually, we will have to address this. Fossil fuels are finite. They will run out. That's a fact. It won't directly affect my child or her children, other than the proven health risks. But, it will be a very different world for generations to come if we don't begin to wean ourselves from these dangerous energy sources.
It was embarrassing as an Arkansan to witness how close-minded our legislators are. They asked the wrong questions and heard only what would immediately affect them. Not what's good for Arkansans, our nation or our world. And that boiled down to money.
Ideologues v. empiricists
While following this great state's current bamboozlement of a legislative session, I'm reminded once again of a quote from Edward Ashment, "There can be little or no dialogue between ideologues 'proclaimers of the truth' and empiricists 'discoverers of truth'. The former tend to debate while the latter tend to discuss."
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