All things must change, even the Wichita North High gym. The school district’s building a new gym right next to the old one, with some of that money from the big bond issue of 2008. Soon the bulldozers will come in and level a structure filled with memories.
The gym was built in 1928. I’m sure it was state-of-the-art for its time. But it must look like a museum in today’s world.
I played basketball in that gym on several occasions, wearing the maroon and gold of West High. I loved the floor and I loved the baskets. I had some very good games at North.
And then, there was the noise. The place seemed to amplify the cheers from the faithful to a deafening level.
Both my children attended North, and I’ve had the chance to be in the gym as a game spectator and for one of their notorious pep assemblies. Those pep rallies were awesome!
Sorry to see that old gym go.
Our thought for today is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
“All things must change to something new, to something strange.”
Ike's Bluff by Steve McIntosh,posted Feb 27 2013 1:27AM
During his two terms in the White House, President Dwight Eisenhower wrestled with the growing threat of nuclear war. Evan Thomas has written about it in “Ike’s Bluff … President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World”!
Thomas writes that Ike was an excellent poker and bridge player, and he brought those skills to the deadly gamesmanship of keeping the communist Russians and Chinese constantly guessing about U-S intentions. Would the greatest former general in the world use the bomb, and under what circumstances?
We get a good picture of Eisenhower … a man with an explosive temper and chronic health problems. He suffered a heart attack and a stroke while president. We are also taken inside his dealings with Khrushchev and the U-2 spy plane incident. Thomas writes about America’s first efforts to catch up with the Russians in the space race.
One thing I found interesting was Ike’s love of golf. During the most dangerous years of the Cold War, Eisenhower found time to play golf … a lot of golf!
Our thought for today is from Dwight D. Eisenhower:
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Last week’s snow storm was an unusual event for south central Kansas. It’s been several years since we had a storm that closed all the schools and upset everyone’s schedules.
In spite of all our best media efforts to warn drivers, many experienced the heartbreak of a traffic accident as the snow began to fall and ice began to form on roadways. Some were injured.
We sometimes say Wichita drivers have to re-learn how to drive on ice every time it shows up on the streets.
This storm generated terrific interest because it was unusual for the area, and people shared their experiences and photos on Facebook. Social media was in its infancy the last time we had a big winter storm in south central Kansas.
I hope you made it through O-K … without injury and without too much weather-related turmoil in your life. It’ll probably be a few more years before we see another storm like this. Or we could see one next week!
Our thought for today is from Michael Pritchard:
“No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will pretty much depend on the weather.”
We haven’t had a snow storm like last week’s in south central Kansas for several years. It was a dandy.
When the snow first began to fall, Wichita drivers began to run into each other, slide off roadways, and overturn their vehicles. Despite city and state crews pre-treating the surfaces, the streets and highways were pretty slick at first. I patiently drove home at a snail’s pace Wednesday. I’ve learned to take a deep breath when conditions are obviously beyond my control.
Our radio station personnel were busy with calls about closings of all kinds. Lists were compiled on all the local media web pages. Social media got the word out. No one could claim the information wasn’t available … widely available!
I’ve always said we ought to use our own best judgment if we have a question about closings. You are ultimately responsible for yourself and your loved ones.
And we media people will always help as best we can.
Our thought for today is from Kin Hubbard:
“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.”
An ethics complaint has been filed by one candidate against another in the Wichita City Council District 4 race.
Craig Gabel printed a flyer that endorses his candidacy. On the other side of the flyer is a coupon for either $3 off on a chicken fry dinner or half off a meal at Gabel’s restaurant.
Gabel says it’s a great way to promote his run for office and his restaurant on one flyer. Saves money.
Why sure, but is it ethical?
Gabel says he did something similar two years ago.
Apparently there is nothing on the flyer that says you have to vote for Gabel or promise to vote for Gabel to get the meal deal. There is no actual quid pro quo … “this for that”, in Latin.
Personally, I’m not finding anything unethical about this. It’s imaginative … clever … might even be called slick. The flyer has gotten Gabel a lot of free news coverage.
Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s power point presentation illustrates that state spending on his watch has been reduced, compared with former Governor Mark Parkinson. Wrong! Spending under Brownback has actually increased the past two years.
Hats off to the Wichita Eagle for doing what state government seems incapable of doing, finding a mistake. State budget director Steve Anderson acknowledges the mistake and apologizes. But the fact remains, our governor has been selling his spending record based on numbers that are not accurate.
Eagle Reporters Dion Lefler and Brent Wistrom revealed that the governor’s presentation shows state spending peaked at about $16 billion in 2010. The actual spending number was just over $14 billion under the Democrat Parkinson.
Bottom line: Brownback has not reduced state spending since he took office in 2011 … but has actually increased spending.
Can we taxpayers respectfully ask the state budget director to do a better job? Let’s get the facts straight before we let politicians start using them.
Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”
A couple years ago my wife and I hosted a Carnival cruise to Mexico on the ill-fated Triumph. Our cruise was uneventful … really quite nice. The folks at Village Travel in Wichita took Shelley and me and our guests by the hand, and made the whole experience positive.
One or two travelers required a little extra hand-holding, but the guides were expert in dealing with such things.
Shelley and I don’t relish the idea of spending several days anywhere with several thousand strangers. And we both had our doubts about being on the open sea. But all went well and we found ourselves having a really nice time.
For a company specializing in creating terrific travel experiences, this Triumph incident has to be horrendous.
We rarely hear about big problems with Carnival cruises. I won’t condemn the company for one unfortunate meltdown.
Then again … I wasn’t on board that ship for five days of hell!
The operational deal for Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena is a good one for the taxpayers … as long as the arena brings popular acts and events to town, and fills the seats.
A private company – S-M-G – operates the facility and gets the first $450,000 of net income, or profit. Sedgwick County gets the rest. In 2012 the Arena’s net income was $703,000. So the county cleared $253,000. In 2011, the county got no money, since net income was only $389,000.
The county says the Arena hosted 84 performances last year with an average attendance of 4,579.
This is a public/private partnership that seems to be working well. Of course, it’s all predicated on the Arena’s managers attracting acts and events that people will want to see. Another good thing is that many of those visitors are out-of-towners … bringing money into the city and county. Those visitors are helping private businesses, and supporting local and state government with the taxes they pay.
Our thought for today is from Yogi Berra:
“If the fans don’t wanna come out to the ballpark, no one can stop ‘em.”
This is Presidents Day … when many Americans take a day off work to think about all the men who have led the executive branch of our government. Of course, most Americans will give the presidents very little thought today … beyond celebrating … or complaining about the one we have now.
I read a lot of history and a lot about our presidents, and I can assure that no president was ever popular with everybody. You really can’t please all of the people all of the time. Lincoln’s top general – McClellan – referred to Honest Abe as a “gorilla” on many occasions.
Rating our favorite presidents is kind of silly, since it is so subjective. I always go with Washington, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan. I don’t think they were necessarily the “best”, but I found each man to be an interesting leader during interesting times.
We’ve had some good ones and some bad ones, but none has been able to destroy the republic.
Our thought for today is from Peter Drucker:
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Wichita City Council member Pete Meitzner recently told me he had doubts that the national economy will ever truly bounce back from the Great Recession of the past few years … at least not like we’ve seen recoveries in the past.
Meitzner was focused on jobs. Here in Wichita, we may see some expansion in the aircraft industry and those high-paying manufacturing jobs that are great for our economy. Other cities are not so lucky; they don’t have manufacturing or high-tech businesses.
During the downturn of the past few years, many Americans dropped out of the labor force … stopped looking for jobs. Others re-educated, re-trained, re-tooled … some going to better-paying jobs, some not.
Meanwhile, technology and a slow economy encouraged businesses to find more ways to increase productivity. That means fewer workers doing more work.
The message to workers is, if you have a decent job, hang on to it. That position may not be there tomorrow.
Our thought for today is from Robert Frost:
“The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.”
Valentines by Steve McIntosh,posted Feb 14 2013 1:53AM
This is the day when the world celebrates romantic love. When we were children, we gave Valentine cards to all our classmates … not wanting anyone to be left out. But if I had a crush on someone, I’d look to see if she might have written something special at the bottom of the card. Can’t remember that it ever happened.
Like most of our holidays, this one is worth billions to businesses … the ones that sell flowers, candy, and cards.
My wife is not big on candy for Valentine’s Day, but if I don’t get her a card, I’m headed for trouble. We may not have a special dinner, she may not get flowers every year, but the card is a “must”.
Shelley selects cards by reading virtually each one in the display … looking for just the right note, expressing the most appropriate sentiment. The card is always serious and very romantic.
I’m not so concerned with the message … but will scribble something personal at the bottom.
We’ve been married almost 43 years. I guess she likes the cards I’ve been picking.
Our thought for today is from Rita Rudner:
“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy the rest of your life.”
In May, the 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts of America National Council will decide whether to lift their ban on homosexual Scouts and leaders. The idea is to make gay inclusion a local option … to let each troop decide.
About 70% of Boy Scout troops are chartered to faith-based groups. Some churches have been outspoken in their opposition to homosexuality, quoting the Bible as saying it is sinful. However, other churches have shown acceptance to gay members.
Many believe homosexuality is a chosen behavior, that it’s creepy, it’s wrong, and a gay person can be “cured”. Others believe a person is born “that way”, and should not be punished for their human nature.
Gay people make many of us feel uncomfortable.
I understand. But I wonder how our tolerance of gays might change, should we discover that a close friend or relative is gay. Would that perspective change our level of tolerance?
He joked about it with David Letterman on late-night T-V. But New Jersey Governor Chris Christie turned defensive when someone offered a serious opinion about his weight.
Former White House physician Connie Mariano told C-N-N she would like to see Christie run for president in 2016, but he needs to lose weight. She worries that he could have a heart attack or stroke. Christie responded that unless Dr. Mariano gives him a physical exam and takes his family history, “she should shut up”.
Many of us battle the middle bulge. We do it because we like to look nicer, or we know that obesity often leads to serious health problems. I work out because I look better and I feel better, and I’m certain that it helps my overall health.
There is truth and sensitivity in Dr. Mariano’s comments. It’s tough to hear and Governor Christie reacted with anger.
You know, exercise is a terrific way to deal with anger.
Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”
The Obama administration defended a Justice Department document saying it is lawful to use a drone strike to kill an American citizen if a “high level” government official believes the target is an operational leader of al-Qaeda who poses an “imminent threat” to the U-S, and if capture is not feasible.
If we consider ourselves “at war” with al-Qaeda … and one of their people appears to be a threat to our nation … shouldn’t we kill that person, if possible … without regard to their nationality? Treason can’t hide behind citizenship.
Yet, putting a government drone operator in the position to act as judge, jury, and executioner for a fellow American citizen is chilling. Drones are already targeting people in foreign lands, based on intelligence evidence … and taking those people out. We consider them “combatants” … enemy “soldiers”.
It’s a tough call. The threat posed by an American toward his nation would have to be sure and terrible, if that drone operator were to pull the trigger.
Our thought for today is from Stephen W. Comiskey:
“You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.”
If Congress fails to pass a comprehensive deficit-reduction package by March first …and it will fail … automatic federal spending cuts go into effect; a trillion dollars over nine years. Problem is, “sequestration” only covers one third of the federal budget … including national defense, law enforcement, and education.
It’s believed such a disruption of government will cost a million public and private jobs over two years.
Left untouched, entitlements … such as Social Security and Medicare … which accounted for 40% of the budget in 1973 and 60% of the budget today. That comes out to $7,400 for each man, woman, and child in the U-S-A.
Problems with entitlements could be solved with a few relatively minor tweaks, which would result in some relatively minor discomfort for American citizens.
Our elected representatives seem to be either too dumb or two chicken to do what it takes to achieve fiscal stability.
The cowardice and stupidity continue…
Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
“Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that myths about weight loss may be detracting from real solutions to the nation’s obesity problem. It was mostly about dieting and rapid weight loss, but the story also said school gym classes are too short or not intense enough to make a big difference in kids’ weight.
That started me thinking about my physical education classes in school. They were required in seventh, eighth, and ninth grades … and an elective in high school.
In those days, gym classes began with 10 to 15 minutes of fairly vigorous calisthenics … pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks … followed by some kind of game … and a hot shower. As an athlete, I found myself showering at school two and sometimes three times a day.
I took P.E. because I enjoyed it, I got class credit, and I had thoughts of some day becoming a coach. The classes taught me how to exercise effectively … and the importance of doing something physical every day.
Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
“I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting’”
Some politicians say the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department is too pessimistic … in projecting that Governor Sam Brownback’s plan for more income tax cuts would create a 782 million-dollar budget shortfall in July 2018.
Brownback wants to cut income tax rates over the next three years. He proposes to stabilize the budget by eliminating two popular income tax deductions for homeowners and raising additional sales tax revenues. Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said the researchers don’t account for how further cuts will stimulate economic activity.
That’s where the governor’s opponents have a problem: there are no guarantees that the governor’s plan will actually boost revenues as much as he anticipates. It’s a big gamble, using the state budget for chips.
The Brownback people have their fingers crossed that the dice will come up “7”.
Of course, if the economy turns around quickly, and Lady Luck smiles on us…
Our thought for today is from Bret Harte:
“The only sure thing about luck is that it will change.”
Some say wealthy Americans account for a disproportionate level of revenue responsibility … that a small percentage of us pay a large percentage of the taxes.
But consider a recent report by the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The report says for the poorest 20% of non-elderly Kansans, state and local taxes equal 10.3% of their income. For the wealthiest 1%, the figure is 3.9%. The institute’s data considers income tax cuts enacted last year.
The report says the percentage of income going to taxes for the poorest Kansans is 2.6 times as much as for the wealthiest. Only 13 states have a larger disparity.
Bear in mind, this is state and local taxes … not federal.
It points out that tax burdens are relevant. When looked at as a percentage of income, those burdens can appear to be unfair.
When it comes to state and local taxes, Kansas appears to be a good place to be wealthy … and not to be poor.
Our thought for today is from Logan Pearsall Smith:
“There are few sorrows, however poignant, in which a good income is of no avail.”
Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer shared his thoughts on the future last week in his annual State of the City speech. The mayor said Wichita’s gone through time times … cutting more than 28 million dollars from the general fund over the past four years. During that same period, property values have been flat … meaning no increases in property tax revenue.
Brewer said the city has some big bills coming due … including two billion dollars over the next 30 years to maintain or replace the majority of the city’s water, sewer, and storm drainage systems.
Half of the city’s streets rank below nationally accepted benchmarks. 29% of the bridges need to be fixed or replaced.
The mayor also talked about a dedicated source of revenue to recruit and retain jobs.
There are signs that the Great Recession may be slowly fading away, but it can’t come soon enough for Wichitans. The city’s endured some difficult days.
When does the fun begin?
Our thought for today is from William Ellery Channing:
“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”
I was a Boy Scout. Loved the campouts; being outdoors … cooking over campfires … sleeping in a tent on the cold, hard ground.
It’s entirely possible that one or two of my fellow Scouts were gay. I didn’t think about it in those days, and gay people usually kept quiet about it.
The Boy Scouts’ ban of gay Scouts and Scout leaders has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. But now the Boy Scouts of America is considering a change in national policy … lifting the ban for those local organizations that sponsor troops. In other words, gays in Scouts would become a local issue.
Of course, many troops are sponsored by churches and many of those churches preach that homosexuality is a sin. It appears to me … based on the Supreme Court ruling … any local sponsor could still ban gays. It’s a local option.
When I was a Scout we weren’t concerned about those things. We worried that the beans were warm enough and the latrine trench was deep enough.
Our thought for today is from Voltaire:
“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.”