October 2009

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).

UNL's own prairie fire: Professor William Ayers

By Miles Bryant

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) invites many scholars to campus to address various student and faculty groups. Most visitors do not agitate the sensibilities of Nebraskans. But, this past year, one speaking invitation to a Chicago professor by the name of William Ayers stirred up a storm of controversy, a veritable prairie fire fed by the volatile dry grass of a presidential campaign. E-mails, phone calls and commentary in local and national media deluged university officials in a matter of hours. Between Oct. 16 and 18, the “heckler’s veto” became a howl.

Taking the train

Amtrak offers service to over 500 destinations across the country. Traveling by train affords many benefits from the moment you step on board. Lean back and stretch out in wide, comfortable seats and gaze at magnificent scenery of panoramic vistas, mountains, lakes and forests. Traveling by train means that you’ll arrive relaxed, refreshed and ready at your destination. Regardless of the season, there is plenty to see and do aboard an Amtrak train.

Alfredisms

“Polking Around”
Aug. 21, 1980

Consumer confidence increased about 10 points, according to a news story. We question its significance. “Confidence in what?” we wondered. Certainly it can’t be in Chrysler Corporation, General Motors or the Ford Company. Everybody knows the dealers in electricity, oil and natural gas are ripping us off. Has anybody bought a pair of shoes lately?

Reflections on the Great Plains

 Tallgrass prairie in Flint Hills, Kan. (Michael Forsberg)

Michael Forsberg recently completed “Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild” after crisscrossing 100,000 miles of the Plains from Canada to Mexico. The book explores the wildlife, habitats and conservation challenges of our grasslands with essays by South Dakota writer and rancher Dan O’Brien, former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser and writer and geographer Dr. David Wishart. The book will be released this fall and is published by the University of Chicago Press.

By Michael Forsberg

Niobrara river sunrise—click. One-half second. Bobcat walking along a game trail at sundown—click. One-sixtieth of a second. Bison at night in a lightning storm—click. Fifty-eight seconds.

Jane Scott, Augustus Dunbier: United by color

By Amanda Mobley

Augustus Dunbier (1888–1977), international artist of Omaha, Neb., was a prolific landscape painter. At age 16, Dunbier moved to Germany from Nebraska to study art at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Dusseldorf with Adolf Munzer. Then he studied for one year at the Chicago Art Institute, where he became good friends with many prominent artists, including Robert Henri; Robert Spencer; Taos artists Walter Ufer and Eanger I. Couse; and Robert Guilder. Although he traveled and painted throughout the United States, he was the most educated full-time artist working in the state of Nebraska. From 1930–1977, between seasonal travels, Dunbier influenced many budding artists in workshops taught from his Omaha studio.

Backyard Bird Feeding 101

By Dave Titterington

October: A time of change. Winter will soon be settling in across the Central Great Plains and the signs are everywhere. Shorter daylight hours are changing the leaves from summer greens to autumn’s gold, red and orange. The sweet aroma of a wood fire drifts from a chimney. And the blackbirds are massing in the treetops, waiting to be escorted south by the first cold front.

Barbershop quartet in Lincoln, Neb.

By Roger Millnitz

Gentlemen, in this age of dictators and government control of everything, about the only privilege guaranteed by the Bill of Rights not in some way supervised and directed, is Barber Shop Quartet singing. Without doubt we still have the right of ‘peaceable assembly’ which I am advised by competent legal authority includes quartet singing. The writers of this letter have for a long time thought that something should be done to encourage the enjoyment of this last remaining source of human liberty.”

Farmers have the facts on sustainability - and more

By Don Hutchens

Agriculture is under attack. On one hand, corn is vilified as the cause of obesity; while on the other, the conversion of corn to ethanol is causing worldwide starvation. Corn prices, supposedly driven by ethanol demand, have led to high food prices. To hear others tell it, American farmers are destroying the environment, depleting natural resources and mistreating animals.

Escape to the river

By Matt Gersib

In a world that works so hard to stay connected every single minute of the day, there’s something amazingly calming about the escape that can be found on the meandering flow of Nebraska’s waterways. The kids don’t have to fuss about what’s happening on their favorite social networking site. There’s no need to worry about mowing the lawn or whether the stock market went up—because when you’re on the river, it’s all about your family, your canoe, the water and the environment around you. It’s time to take it all in.

Sonny's Corner

The play “Thurgood” ran on Broadway for over three months in 2008. On Aug. 7 of that year, the star of the play, the incomparable Laurence Fishburne, appeared on the Charlie Rose program broadcast by the Public Broadcasting System.

Immigration in Nebraska

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