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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:

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Let’s reminisce: Horse Traders

I was born too late to encounter the colorful swindlers called “roaders,” as roving livestock merchants were called in the early decades of the 20th century. After reading about their exploits as recorded by Western writers like Elmer Kelton, I believe I missed something interesting. The traders with their strings of horses and mules made their way over the dirt roads, closely followed by clouds of dust and flies. They carried guns and lived out of wagons, cooking over open fires.

The Great Kate Wait

Finally, there’s news that puts the firing of Ray Rice and the death of Joan Rivers on the back page. Princess Kate is going to have a baby! A tweet from the Royal tweeter says the baby will be born in April and will be a spare to the heir of the throne, which moves some royals down a peg in the lineup for the crown. If it’s a girl, maybe she’ll look like a twee Shirley Temple, since her older brother, precious Prince George, could pass for Spanky on Little Rascals.

You can’t make this stuff up

Just in the United States, the cosmetics industry pulls in some $70 billion a year in sales of what’s commonly called “makeup.” But lipstick, mascara, eye shadow and the like aren’t the only kind of makeup the cosmetic giants are peddling.

Comptroller of public accounts protects from over-spending

This November, Texas voters will elect someone new to most of the state-wide offices: The office of the governor; lieutenant governor, comptroller, agriculture commissioner, land commissioner and railroad commissioner. Over the next several weeks, I will talk about the duties and powers of each office, and how the office effects the lives of Texans.

Good news about Medicare

As a grateful beneficiary of Medicare who had some major medical expenses covered by it this year, I pay attention to news about its fiscal health. There has been too much talk in Washington by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and others about privatizing Medicare or raising the age at which older Americans can receive benefits. In contrast to these disturbing proposals, the recent news about Medicare has been good.

Putting the ‘you’ in utopia

It’s a great premise, I’ll give them that. Executives at Fox have green-lit a new reality show, slated to hit your boob-tube Sunday night, called “Utopia.” The network is dumping 15 people onto a secluded compound and tasking them with creating a society from scratch. It’s a little bit “Survivor,” a little bit “Lord of the Flies.”

Stop signs are forever: Checkpointless

It’s Labor Day Weekend across this great nation, which means a three-day weekend of barbecues, trips to the lake, and, of course, the temporary suspension of the Fourth Amendment. It’s one of those rare occasions when we can reconnect with old friends, provide the kids with some life-long memories, and be subjected to search and seizure methods on par with a third-world country.