November 2011

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).

Population Health Management: The Next Frontier for Health Care

By Brad Stephan, RN, BSN, BA

As a nurse, allow me to sum up the traditional medical model driving the health care industry, as follows: We sit and wait for the phone to ring. Of course, the “we” is the health care provider—physicians, nurses, hospitals, etc.—and the person at the other end of that phone is you, a typical patient whose symptoms have progressed to the point of being self-evident or intolerable. In other words, the traditional medical model represents “reactive medicine,” which is so 20th century! And, now, here’s the problem: Our 21st-century budget cannot afford 20th-century medicine, particularly with the added burden of an aging population coupled with a struggling economy. Something (or, more precisely, someone) has got to give.

Alfredisms

In the dark of morning the day began with thunderstorms (calm ones) that continued, off and on, during the light of morning, with heavy clouds trying to extend the dark into the light. The resulting light of night is dark enough to cause some questioning if there was a sunrise.

Making the Electoral College Work

By Randall Moody

Those Republicans are at it again. Tinkering with the Electoral College. Now they want to set up a system that allows a U.S. presidential candidate to win the electoral vote of a congressional district if he or she wins the popular vote in that district. That scheme would scuttle the current winner-take-all system that allows a candidate who wins the majority of the vote in the state to get all the electoral votes.

Educational Change or Actual Improvement: Real Proposals to Improve Education

By Dr. George A. Guidera

In 2008 the 25th anniversary of “A Nation at Risk” was marked primarily by continuing criticism of schools in the United States. Self-proclaimed politically driven reform agendas from education as a memorized cultural glossary to preparing pragmatic problem solvers for the marketplace were joined by others including concern with global competition, closing learning gaps and the power of teacher unions, to name a few of the utilitarian flags being waved. Political voices were further impacted by changing expectations as well as demands for evidence based upon test scores and a growing federal footprint upon education making solutions elusive. These pressures may actually be leading the nation away from purposeful reform. Such voices include:

Book Review: "The Big Empty: The Great Plains in the Twentieth Century" by R. Douglas Hurt

Review by Jon Lauck

“The Big Empty: The Great Plains in the Twentieth Century”
Author: R. Douglas Hurt
Publisher: University of Arizona Press

On the bright blue afternoon of Sept. 23, 2011, at a hotel along the banks of the Minnesota River in the Blue Earth County, Minn. city of Mankato, historians interested in the prairie and Plains gathered to talk about the history of our region. The occasion was the annual meeting of the Northern Great Plains History Conference, a long-standing institution essential to the dissemination of the latest research and historical thinking about our region.

The "Loess Bowl"

Heavy black clouds of dust rising over the Texas Panhandle, Texas, March 1936, LC-DIG-fsa-8b27276 (digital file from original negative). (Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

By Robert Kelley Schneiders

From 1929 to 1940 the Great Plains experienced a devastating drought. Scorching temperatures, an overabundance of sunshine and dry winds ravaged the land. From the Dakotas to Texas, soils turned to powder and blew away. In those hard, lean years, Plains residents experienced hundreds of deadly dust storms. The Black Blizzards threw billowing clouds of dirt into the atmosphere, blotted out the sun, suffocated stock animals and inflicted a phenomenon known as dust pneumonia on the rural population. Untold numbers died from the respiratory ailment.

How to Winterize Your Community's Watershed

By Amanda Conway

As we dive headlong into fall, homeowners are starting to prepare for winter. For most of us that simply means checking the antifreeze, fixing oil leaks, raking leaves and possibly applying lawn or garden fertilizer to ensure our vehicles and lawns last throughout the cold season. All are an important aspect of winterizing for your community’s watershed.

Cleaner Green Lincoln: Our Home, Our Future, Our Choice: Sustainability Goals and Performance Measures Process

By Milo Mumgaard

Lincoln, Neb., is justifiably proud of its high quality of life. Our clean air and water, green spaces and parks, bike trails and recycling programs, all are the fruits of many generations. This quality is a product of our shared commitment to environmental stewardship and economic vitality, and to an engaged, active and knowledgeable community. It is also directly linked to our strong local economy. A strong economy is what makes possible our investments in the assets that make Lincoln a special place to call home.

Raptors of Nebraska

By Paul A. Johnsgard

Probably most rural Nebraskans, if asked to name a few hawks native to Nebraska, would begin with “chicken hawk,” which is a general vernacular name for almost any hawk likely to be seen around a farmyard. Or, perhaps “buzzard” might be mentioned, but this is a commonly used name for the turkey vulture, which is a scavenger and not currently regarded as part of the hawk family.

The Land Institute's 33rd Prairie Festival

By Carolyn M. Nolte

On Sept. 23–25, 2011, strangers from across the nation gathered on a sunny Friday afternoon in Salina, Kan., to participate in the Land Institute’s 33rd Prairie Festival. The annual festival celebrates the land and continues a discussion Wes Jackson began more than 30 years ago about sustainability and the issues of agriculture. Prairie Festival presenters Brian Donahue, Kamyar Enshayan, Richard Heinberg, Wes Jackson, Naomi Klein and David Montgomery covered topics ranging from global dependency on oil to the history and importance of soil.

A View from the Mountain

By Robert Bateman

I am standing on top of Mount Maxwell. As mountains go, it is quite modest, only 1,975 feet high, but its almost vertical cliffs give it a certain topographic distinction and the conglomerate stones beneath my feet witnessed the twilight of the dinosaurs. Mount Maxwell was once part of continental uplands that began eroding about 75 million years ago, leaving deposits on massive submarine gravel beds. These beds rested on even older formations—the roots of 360-million-year-old mountains, which, according to the latest theory, originated in Australia and now act as the foundation of our own little mountain.

Sonny's Corner

Prairie Fire has always respected the religious beliefs of others.

We support both freedom of religion and freedom from religion. Accordingly, in 2008, when we forecasted an attack on one or more of the presidential candidates’ religious credo, we offered the Mormon Church space to educate our readership as to the history and practice of Mormonism. Our offer was declined. With the emergence of two practicing Mormons as credible 2012 presidential candidates, we renewed our offer to church officials in Salt Lake City. They referred us to the Nebraska contacts and our offer was accepted. The following essay appears as an original work prepared for Prairie Fire.

Immigration in Nebraska

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