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Judging fourth-dimensionally

In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. On that much, we can agree. The list of things beyond that which can be stipulated is pretty scarce, but in summary: someone at some point decided Columbus should get credit for discovering the Americas. Someone else, in turn, decided that was reason enough to declare a holiday on the anniversary of his “discovery.” And bingo-bongo, bank cashiers have been big fans of Cristoforo Colombo ever since.

The right question about the death penalty

On Friday’s opinion page, Texas A&M University School of Law Professor Meg Penrose, and David B. Muhlhausen, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity, debated the question: “Has the death penalty become too costly to administer in America?”

Prop 1 will support Texas infrastructure

This November, voters will have an opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment, Proposition 1. This amendment was a joint resolution that was passed during the 2013 legislative session. However, because it changes the Texas Constitution, it needs voter approval before it can take effect. If passed it will direct some of the severance tax from oil and gas production to transportation funding.

Only in a small town

A few years ago I had a birthday. I don’t always have them since I am now on Social Security, but my lady friends wanted to have a party, and this was as good an excuse as any. I was to pick the place, date and time. We’d meet and eat lunch. I would open my gifts. And then we’d go home. No big deal.

Colorado teachers are standing up for their students; Texas teachers should too

Almost 60 years ago, at the beginning of my teaching career, a principal told new teachers the story of a young man who desperately needed a teaching job in the panhandle of Texas. In those days, the story went, candidates for teaching positions had to hunt school board members down to be interviewed wherever the board member happened to be.

Changing the light bulb

I’m old enough to remember what it was like to have to read by the dim light that came from a kerosene lamp. As an Aggie I also remember this old joke: How many Aggies does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Three, one to hold the light bulb and two to turn the ladder. Both of these memories came to mind last week as I read about three physicists receiving the Nobel Prize for inventing a better way to light the world.

Putting the ‘err’ in ‘Teacher’

Back in my home state of Colorado, there’s been a ton of hullabaloo recently over teacher-led protests in a Denver suburb. People are angry because a school board member said she favored slanting the AP history curriculum toward conservatism, but the reason for the protests isn’t really germane, anyway.

Reminiscent: The old tree: at the center of memories

The huge old hackberry or ironwood tree stood in the backyard of our farmhouse for more than 100 years. My mother told of the lightning striking this old tree at the corner of the house before I was born. Even though the tree was split, it continued to stand tall and strong.

Contests and Promotions

Moments with the Minister: Finding comfort as children of the Heavenly Father

I have been humming and meditating on this hymn for the last several weeks. It has long been one of my favorites. It was written by Karolina Sandell-Berg in 1858. As is the case with many hymns, it was written after the author had experienced a personal tragedy in her life. She had been on a boat with her father when he fell overboard and drowned. This hymn was an expression of her faith and confidence in the aftermath of that event. Here are the first three stanzas.

EDITORIAL: Thoughts and prayers with families, friends of NCTC players

It takes a village to raise a child. And that village morns together when something awful happens to that child. That’s what’s happening in Blue Ridge and Telephone and Windom and Wylie as these communities morn the loss of four North Central Texas College softball players who were killed in a bus crash in Oklahoma Friday night. To all those families, friends and communities who are grieving, we grieve with you.

Good news about cancer treatment

We’re all afraid of the big C-word. People my age can remember when a diagnosis of cancer was a death sentence. In the 1950s, by the time you were diagnosed it had already progressed too far. Advances in medical research have made it survivable.

Scotch on the rocks

I am no expert on Scotland. I can point to it on a map — which, troublingly, puts me among only one-third of Americans — but I’ve never been there; never even known someone who was born there. What I do know about Scotland has basically been gleaned from Mel Gibson and that one episode of “Parks and Recreation” where Ron Swanson visits the Lagavulin distillery.

Reminiscent: Tractor Man

I’ll have to say there were some rewards to living on a farm. But there also were some tasks that were anything but fun. I remember how it was being a general flunky for a lot of years. It was my job to do all the hauling of wheat and maize to the mill and all cotton to the gin. I hauled all the seed, fertilizer and tractor parts plus took care of the rent and our checkbook.

MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: The view from above

I recently flew back to Texas from a short trip and, since I’m not a frequent flier, I am still amazed at the whole idea of flying. I am especially awed by the view from above — being able to see the world from a totally different perspective. I prefer having a window seat and especially make sure that the window is up at takeoff and landing. I love to see the world grow smaller and smaller as we ascend and then to see the world return to normal size as the plane approaches the runway. The view is always impressive, but this trip I noticed that sometimes the view from above is not as spectacular as it is from ground level.

Clapped out

In his 1973 opus “The Gulag Archipelago,” Russian novelist and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn relayed a story from a Soviet party conference during the rule of Joseph Stalin, noted dictator and late-night cinema enthusiast . The Communist leader had just given a rousing speech — or at least I assume it was rousing, given what happened next: