October 2007

Notice:

Prairie Fire Newspaper went on hiatus after the publication of the September 2015 issue. It may return one of these days but until then we will continue to host all of our archived content for your reading pleasure. Many of the articles have held up well over the years. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts, or an interest in helping return Prairie Fire to production. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to all our readers, contributors, and supporters - the quality of Prairie Fire was a reflection of how many people it touched (touches).

Journey By Train

By Kandra Hahn This is my journal and travelogue of a trip on Amtrak from Lincoln to Chicago. I had urgent family business in Chicago. I’d had nothing but bad experiences recently on airlines, and I needed a break. I’d always liked trains but worried about the extra time it took and usually gave in and flew. I loved the spacious seats and the expansive hours reading, doing needlework, sleeping, sitting in the observation car or at leisurely meals in the dining car, chatting with perfect strangers I would never see again. These days I had to add in the sheer luxury of boarding with a six-ounce bottle of hand lotion and not having to stand barefoot, dumping my laptop computer into a plastic dishpan before sending it through an X-ray machine.

Alfredisms

March 13, 1980 "Terrorism" Terrorism results from desperation. We can recall, as a small boy about the age of the apprentice printer, playing with two boyhood pals, Everett Stouffer and Fredrick Allison. Sometimes, when three are together, two will join forces against one. We became the target of the joint forces of Everett and Fred. We were the youngest and smallest and stoically submitted to the teasing and jostling until suddenly, lashing out with fists and feet and screams, we reestablished our rights and respect. Of course, we didn’t analyze our actions in those terms. We had had enough and can still recall their looks of amazement and disbelief at the small bundle of overt venom they had aroused. We were terror, personified.

America's Economy: Headed for Crisis, Part 1

By Robert Bixby, J. Robert Kerrey, Peter G. Peterson, Warren B. Rudman The basic facts are not in dispute. What they portend is not just a short-term budget crunch but the long-term budgetary impact of an unprecedented demographic shift to an older society—one that will exert great pressure on the economy from programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Key features driving the impending fiscal crisis are as follows:

Four Things to Consider Regarding the Farm Bill

By Sally Herrin The farm bill is, as ever, a moving target. One version passed the House in August by a kind of bipartisan miracle. The version passed in the Senate will be different. Even if the two versions can be welded together in conference, and even if moderate Republicans continue to discover new willingness to move forward, a farm bill still may not pass this year. If it does, the president may well veto it.

Prayers for the People - Carl Sandburg's Poetry and Songs

By Kathryn N. Benzel As we scan the Nebraska landscape, we see the wind-blasted Sandhills, the nearly drained rivers, the bent cottonwoods and abandoned homesteads. And we see the corn breathing new life, the hills nestling comfortably among each other and the brilliant sun-drenched horizon. Here in Nebraska the geological contradictions are immense; the climate is extreme; but the land is ours. This prairie land and Nebraska teaches us the essence of democracy. The lands, the climate, the sheer distance from one place to another are all equalizers. If a storm hits, it hits all of us no matter who we are. The sun rests on the horizon for all of us to see. On the prairie we learn without anyone teaching us that we are all equal on this land.

Film Review - Into the Wild: Mahatma Gandhi meets Cabela's: The Accidental Anorexic

By Eli S. Chesen I had the perverse pleasure of attending an early screening, at Telluride, of Sean Penn’s soon-to-be-released film, Into the Wild, an adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s book, which is in turn an adaptation of an allegedly true story, told with permission and help from the main character’s (Chris McCandless’s) family, especially his sister. The book has received rave reviews and the movie will be rewarded and wildly (pun intended) enjoyed as well. A gaunt Penn and Krakauer were themselves at the performance and were noted to have commented humbly, if only minimally, about their art.

Sonny's Corner

By Jane Erdenberger In August a letter to the editor to a Nebraska newspaper stated that "In the Millard School District and the United States as a whole, average ACT scores by Asians were actually superior to those of white students," and begged the question: "Why are the Asians able to pass through the identical school systems that other minorities pass through and obtain such drastically higher scores?" The author of the letter (who need not be named, as he or she could be any of hundreds of thousands of Americans) concluded that at least part of the blame for low test scores should be assigned to Hispanic and black American minorities themselves.

The Water Supply Challenge: We Want Our Water

By Susan Seacrest Legally mandated Republican River water flows, a rapidly growing ethanol industry, and the growing influence of wildlife and environmental advocates share a common refrain — "We want our water!" This message has been growing in volume thanks to a multi-year drought and increasing pressure from multiple water users to stretch precious water supplies. So how do we address this challenge? As an educator with The Groundwater Foundation, I believe understanding how water works is a good place to begin.

How Many Worlds Will We Need?

By Sunita Narain Years before India became independent, Mahatma Gandhi was asked a simple question: Would he like free India to be as 'developed' as the country of its colonial masters? Britain? "No," said Gandhi, stunning his interrogator, who argued that Britain was the model to emulate. He replied: "If it took Britain the rape of half the world to be where it is, how many worlds would India need?"

Education in a Barn

By Bill Whitney Many a good education was had in a barn. This is sometimes my response to many of the contentious bond issue debates about new school buildings. It’s not that new schools are not necessary, but that the reason for building the school, i.e., the quality of what happens inside, often gets pushed aside. The discussion of new brick and mortar is far more common than arguing the merits of teaching students the complicated history of the Civil War, for example. But I am still serious about the relationship of the barn to education.

Immigration in Nebraska

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