February 2008


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).

Advanced Care Planning: Does 'negative' information have an adverse effect on the patient?

By Apar K. Ganti, M.D. Advance care planning (ACP) represents a way for patients to put down their wishes regarding the kind of care they would like to receive in the event they are unable to make their own decisions due to illness. However, current estimates suggest that less than 10 percent of adults in the United States have engaged in advance care planning. One of the major reasons that patients and physicians are unlikely to initiate discussions regarding this issue is that it inevitably raises the issue of death and dying. It has also been anecdotally believed that discussion of "negative" information may have an adverse effect on the patient, who, as in the setting of cancer care, comes to the doctor hoping for cure.

Alfredisms: "Polking Around"

February 18, 1988 "Polking Around" A new definition for "wilderness" was in a news story about a small hamlet near the Canadian border with New Hampshire where the first votes were cast in that state’s primary election, Tuesday. The story described this hamlet as being in the wilderness, 50 miles from a MacDonald’s restaurant. Certainly, that is a pertinent, contemporary definition for wilderness.

The ‘early voting’ phenomenon

Cartoon by Paul Fell
By Rick Carter and Philip Young One of the biggest changes in the way campaigns have been run in recent years is the creation - or expansion - of "absentee" or "early" voting. Currently, 31 states have in place some form of early voting, and interest in voting by mail has increased nationally. Some states have changed their laws to allow all voters to cast ballots by mail for any reason.

Urgent Budget Choices, Part I: The Problem, and Fixing Social Security

By Joseph J. Minarik The latest budget figures indicate that a short period of relief from the record high deficit of 2004 is over. A brief boom of tax receipts, fueled by excesses in the financial markets, has come to an end. We face decades of significant budget deficits, with a continuing intense war effort and a sustained high price of oil. A big drop in the value of the U.S. dollar relative to free-floating foreign currencies signals possible concern in world financial markets.

Omaha's New Film Forum

By Casey Logan A quarter century ago, German filmmaker Werner Herzog traveled to the rain forests of South America to make "Fitzcarraldo," the story of a man who dreams of building an opera house in the middle of the Amazon. Obsessed by this vision and determined to make it reality, the title character (played by the inimitably crazed Klaus Kinksi) employs a local tribe to help him drag a steamboat from one river to another, with no less than a mountain standing in the way between them.

Shakespeare on the Plains

By Bob Hall I run the Flatwater Shakespeare Festival in Lincoln Neb., and while I have thus been asked to write about the state of Shakespeare on the Plains, I find myself dealing more with how to convince a wary audience that, without teaching or training, they already possess all the tools necessary to give the bard a tumble. There's certainly plenty of Shakespeare for them to try.

Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music Now in its 43rd Season

By Robert Narveson Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music, a group of Lincoln, Neb., citizens, sponsors performances by nationally and internationally famous chamber music ensembles. The name of the group, informally abbreviated to LFCM, was suggested by Larry Poston, a then-member of the University of Nebraska English Department, who along with several other faculty members was casting about for a way to bring top-flight musical performances to a city that was, at that time, sorely lacking in so important a sign of cultural vitality.

Common Ground between Islam and Christianity

By Mohamed El Ghannam I visited Nebraska during the period from Oct. 19 to Nov. 10, 2007, as a visiting scholar to Doane College in Crete. This visit was a part of the Fulbright Visiting Specialists Program called "Direct Access to the Muslim World." The program promotes understanding of the Muslim civilization through U.S. higher educational institutions that host specialists from the Muslim world for short-term programs of intensive lecturing and public outreach.

Warming Climate - and warming up to 'creation care'

By Rev. Richard Cizik The world is getting warmer. This past summer, I visited our “early warming system” for North America, an island village named Shishmaref located off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea. The native tribe of Inupiks is already experiencing a devastating climate blow: the rise in sea level has forced them from their home of 400 years.

Starting a Nebraska Land Trust: The Academy for Great Plains Restoration and the Prairie School

By Bill Whitney

Prairie Plains Resource Institute has something positive to offer for the future of Nebraska and the Great Plains. The Academy for Great Plains Restoration and The Prairie School are new programs of the Charles L. Whitney Education Center, presently under construction and located on the scenic Platte River bluffs in Hamilton County, Nebraska (see “Education in a Barn,” Prairie Fire, October 2007). Our aim is to connect people with a regional vision for renewal. This connection will be forged by building on the foundation of Prairie Plains Resource Institute’s time-tested strengths: ecological restoration and land education conducted within a social and cultural framework.

ANDRILL's time machine: Drilling into Antarctic geological history to predict future climate changes

By Dr. David Harwood and Dr. Richard Levy If it happened before, it can happen again. A phrase often repeated to geology students curious about how past geological events preserved within layers of sedimentary rock can influence how we view and manage our modern world against natural hazards. Geologists, Earth’s scientific historians, identify and interpret past events by studying sedimentary layers back through time. The future is less uncertain when guided by knowledge of rates and magnitudes of change that are evident in sedimentary rock archives. For example, we know from sediments and landforms in northern Europe, Asia and North America that large, mile-thick ice sheets repeatedly covered broad regions of the northern continents. These ice masses vanished quickly, within several thousand years, melting and returning large volumes of water to the ocean.

Immigration in Nebraska

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