March 2008

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).

Fame and misfortune: Murder, mayhem and McLuhan

By Eli S. Chesen A recent news story out of Texas tells us of a loving mother having ghostwritten a winning essay, “My Daddy Died This Year in Iraq,” on behalf of her daughter, which would have given the six-year-old four tickets to a Hannah Montana concert and a makeover replete with a Hannah Montana hairpiece. The stakes were frighteningly high in this contest.

Seeing in the dark

By Kristin Van Tassel The second week of December, an ice storm hit the Plains states, and thousands of families lost power, some for a week or more. My family was among them, and the experience gave me an epiphany I call the Light Bulb Theory of Materialism. Never mind the other manifestations of electricity - climate control, communication, transportation, mass production. The light bulb is the foundation of consumption.

Alfredisms: "Farms, farming and politics"

February 27, 1986 "Farms, farming and politics" Converting Nebraska sandhill land to row-crop agriculture, probably, has been the most disastrous development of contemporary industrialized agriculture and its high-cost efficiency. We remember a character on local television news, with greedy-looking facial features, who had invested in sandhill ranch land with the intention of converting it to row-crop and then selling it as irrigated farmland at an inflated price.

Stem cell research could lead to new therapies

By James Turpen, Ph.D. The pace of new discoveries in science and biomedical research has increased dramatically. This is especially true in the field of stem cell biology where reports of significant findings appear almost weekly in the scientific literature. As with most scientific advances, there are numerous ethical implications that must be considered. At the same time, there also is a critical need to ensure that the public understands the promise that stem cell research holds for developing therapies for incurable diseases. Here, I would like to share why it is critical for the University of Nebraska Medical Center to develop and maintain a strong research program in embryonic stem cell research.

Urgent budget choices, part 2: Fixing health care

By Joseph J. Minarik The major source of the long-term federal budget problem is health care. Many decisions have contributed to the federal budget mess, and there is plenty of blame to go around. However, on a simple arithmetic dollars-and-cents basis, the major driver of rising projected deficits in the coming decades is the cost of health care - in particular, the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs. Medicare provides health care primarily to the elderly, but also to the disabled. Medicaid provides health care to the low-income population, and by far the most costly of those persons to treat are the elderly and disabled in nursing homes. Thus, the federal government’s responsibilities in health care are not optional; the people in those programs have nowhere else to go.

Corn in the crosshairs

By Don Hutchens Over the last 18 months there has been more media attention devoted to the corn and ethanol industries than at any other point in time. Unfortunately much of the coverage has been negative and one-sided. As with any issue it is good to be as educated as possible, to get the facts and to look at the issue from various perspectives - and then use good old Nebraska common sense to determine your position.

Bob Kerrey Reviews “The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation” by Philip Shenon

By Bob Kerrey The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation by Philip ShenonPhilip Shenon’s “The Commission” is a well-researched and written account of the deliberations of the “9/11 Commission” which investigated the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Mr. Shenon was a reporter who covered the deliberations of the commission from its creation on November 27, 2002, through the August 21, 2004, expiration of the federal law that gave the commission the legal authority to do its work. He had a front-row seat on the political process that created the commission, the firestorms that often surrounded it, and the largely favorable response to the commission’s report, which was released on July 21, 2004. I was a member of the commission. Reading Mr. Shenon’s book was both illuminating, because I discovered things I did not know, and disconcerting, because his view of our performance is not always favorable. I always find it much easier to feel good when somebody else’s work is criticized than I do when it is mine being examined.

San Francisco photographer comes home to the Great Plains - Nancy Warner exhibits 'Midwestern Farm Places'

By Amber Mohr Wright Morris wrote in “The Inhabitants,” “In all my life I’ve never seen anything so crowded, so full of something, as the rooms of a vacant house.” Morris’s words can well describe the vision of San Francisco photographer Nancy Warner, who has dissected and disseminated some of this “crowd of vacancy” to produce a photographic study of farm homes for a new exhibition, “Going Back: Midwestern Farm Places” at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln, Neb.

Third Chair Chamber Players

By Becky Van de Bogart Labels have become a mainstay in our social conversations these days and resisting them is a full-time occupation. Due to the limited pool of funding, music has not escaped this need for definers. As the arts try to divvy up the shrinking pie of dollars, new definitions rise out of the quagmire to limit one slice and add or expand another. Last year there was a heated discussion at the Chamber Music America conference trying to fit jazz into their mission. This led to yet another effort to define chamber music (and, by default, jazz), when in the end it was all about which genre deserved funding with the available dollars.

Sonny's Corner

By Ben Nelson This may be “Sonny’s Corner” but what the column is really about is Sonny’s life and the impact it continues to have on other people, because everything Sonny did in life was to make sure others had all the opportunities available to them that he was able to carve out for himself.

Going Green

By David Ochsner So you want to go green. Before you jump in the car and head out to the Megalo-Mart to buy some of those pigtail light bulbs, you should ask yourself: How much energy will I consume driving to the store? How green are the store’s practices? How does my daily routine affect the environment, and how can I change it?

Immigration in Nebraska

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