Alfredisms: "Polking Around"

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Norris AlfredThe Polk Progress was a Nebraska treasure that ceased publication in late 1989 after 82 years as a weekly newspaper. From 1955 until its last issue, the editor and publisher was the late Norris Alfred. In its last few months, the Progress had 900 subscribers in 45 states. Alfred was a remarkable Nebraskan with an uncanny eye for connecting the present with the future. Prairie Fire has collaborated with the Alfred family, the University of Nebraska School of Journalism and the Nebraska State Historical Society to locate and archive many of Norris's writings. We are capitalizing on our good fortune to present many of the Norris Alfred writings to our readership. We believe that his observations are as fresh and relevant to today's world as they were when originally written. 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. February 25, 1988 "Polking Around" There are many over-and-under comparisons. At various times, not a frequency to become a theme yet often enough for emphasis, we have dwelt on the problems caused by doing too much; making too many things; discarding the old in belief the new is better—an improvement. Keeping up a drumbeat of activity because we were told when young that idleness is a sin, laziness an abomination and only the working man is truly happy. The lazy man may be the thinking man. Philosophers are never pictured digging ditches. The Rodin statue of "The Thinker" has him so deep in thought he has forgotten to get dressed. It reminds us of our late older brother, Orrin, who had gone to the basement to fill the coal pail for the kitchen range. He was gone for a long time. When he came up out of the basement, he was still carrying the empty coal pail, and asked his mother: "Mom? If I could see through everything, I wouldn’t be able to see anything, would I?" Now, that’s thinking. We suspect that, with undertime, there would be fewer $22,000 automobiles and more $10,500 houses. Our contemporary civilization would be less trashy; junkers would be fewer, and our world less plastered with plastic. Maybe there would be fewer weekly newspapers. We are prepared to accept that possibility and relegate ourself to the world of underachiever, working undertime, and devoting most of every day to just "sitting and looking," which is the Progress Swedish Philosopher’s definition of the lazy. We might appear to be lazy, but we will be "sitting and thinking" fully clothed.

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