Smart Talk, Aug. 27 

Be encyclopedic


Researching “higher education” in the invaluable on-line Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, a reporter noticed that most of the entries on state universities were written by people who teach at those universities, but the entry on the University of Arkansas was written by an employee of Arkansas State University, something of a rival institution. He wondered how contributors were chosen.

Guy Lancaster, editor of the Encyclopedia, responded: “I do a lot of direct soliciting of entries, seeking out writers or academics who have written on, or otherwise have an expertise in, certain subjects and asking them to write specific entries — or just harassing people I know like a bill collector until they finally submit to my demands for more entries. However, we do also keep a list of entries for which we are seeking authors on our website (which you can access by clicking ‘Get involved' at the top). We welcome anyone to write for us — and I mean that. Previous knowledge of a subject is not a prerequisite — only a willingness to do the research. I have had good experiences with college students as well as retirees who like simply spending time at their local library and contributing to this project.” As for the UA entry, Lancaster said that the writer, though an ASU employee, was a UA alumnus, and eager to write on the university's history.


A favorite son in 2012



Horserace-style presidential politics has become a permanent fixture, with polling companies seeking to raise their public image with continuous polling. It can be disheartening.

For example, last week the North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, which leans Democratic, reported on public opinions of potential Republican opponents to face President Obama in 2012. Obama enjoyed leads over all of them, but the narrowest gap — 47 percent to 44 percent — was over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Huckabee also had the best favorable opinion margin for a Republican among all voters — 45 favorable to 28 unfavorable. Among only Republican voters, Sarah Palin enjoyed a 72-65 favorable rating edge over Huckabee, however. But Obama clobbered her among all voters, 52-38. So Huck's a threat, if he can get the GOP nomination.


UCA entry revised


Until recently, the University of Central Arkansas entry in the on-line Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture mentioned accomplishments of the Lu Hardin administration, but not the scandals. The entry has been revised. It now says:

“At the end of August 2008, Hardin submitted his resignation to UCA, following controversy over a $300,000 bonus that was not at first made public. Other controversies followed his resignation. News stories reported irregularities involving scholarships and discounts given to some students, and diversion of money from public to private funds and from non-athletic to athletic funds. It was also reported that the school had borrowed money without state government approval. Tom Courtway served the university as interim president until July 1, 2009, when Allen C. Meadows [sic] became UCA's ninth president.”




Background: One in four people in Arkansas's Fourth Congressional District does not have health insurance.

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross of Prescott doesn't seem to care much. In an interview with AETN last week, Ross said that providing healthcare to uninsured Americans is “not what this healthcare reform debate is about.”



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