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Smart tallk, April 23 

Sugar-free Bears

 

The former “Lady Razorbacks” are now just “Razorbacks,” and “Trojans” now fits both women's and men's teams at UALR. The trend in women's college athletics is away from using feminized forms of men's team names. Some women's teams have adopted names entirely different from the men's teams, but still not expressly feminine — “Golden Suns” at Arkansas Tech, where the men are “Wonder Boys,” for example. The University of Central Arkansas at Conway, however, employs a singular sort of nomenclature — some of its female athletes are more feminine than others.

Men are “Bears” at UCA, and that's the name used most prominently on the UCA sports website. But look at women's basketball, and you'll find the team is still being called by its old familiar name of “Sugar Bears.” On the other hand, the women's softball team is referred to consistently as “Bears.” The UCA sports information office has yet not responded to a Times phone call on this subject — UCA may be overwhelmed by media inquiries these days — but a Times reporter remembers writing about the softball team a few years back, and the coach at the time was emphatic that she and her players were not to be called “Sugar Bears.” The reporter wasn't inclined to argue with UCA softball players and coaches. Perhaps UCA officials are wary, too. 

 

‘Paranoia strikes deep'

 

Like the old Buffalo Springfield song “For What It's Worth” said, there are a lot of people around these days with guns telling us “we've got to beware.” The press is full of stories about the explosion in gun and ammo sales since Barack Obama became president. Gun groups have taken his past support for certain gun control measures as a threat to gun ownership entirely, apparently.

Another indicator of creeping fear is in the number of people seeking permits to carry concealed weapons in Arkansas. That number has also exploded. When the Arkansas Times obtained the list in mid-February (and set off an outpouring of rage from elements of the gun-owning community), it contained 56,350 names. A recent update of the list, on April 29, showed 65,534 now have such permits in Arkansas. That's an increase of 16 percent in only two months.

 

Remembering disaster

 

U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder was a surprise caller last week on the Diane Rehm Show on National Public Radio during an interview with Alan Huffman, author of a new book on the sinking of the Sultana, a Mississippi River boat that was carrying Union soldiers from Vicksburg back north on April 27, 1865. Boilers on the ship exploded in the middle of the night, killing at least 1,700. It remains the worst maritime accident in U.S. history. The remains of the boat are now buried under farmland in East Arkansas, thanks to shifting of the river course.

Reporting on the event has been limited, in part because government officials tried to sweep questions of accountability under the rug, Huffman said. Further, it had to compete with headlines about the end of the Civil War and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Snyder called in to praise the author and to say he, too, is trying to change the lack of  knowledge about the incident. On April 2,  he introduced a resolution  recognizing the anniversary of the tragedy. He said he expected House floor approval soon.

 

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