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Tortured decisions

First, a thought experiment: Imagine the one person to whom you’re closest is in danger. Mortal danger. Someone, somewhere is threatening to kill them. And you have that person’s accomplice literally in your hands.

LARRY PHILLIPS: Holiday traditions at the Capitol

The holiday season is well underway. Cities in Delta, Fannin, and Grayson counties have decorated their streets and are hosting Christmas events such as parades and holiday concerts. Likewise, at the Capitol in Austin preparations for the holiday season have begun. The Capitol halls are adorned with decorations, and several traditional Christmas trees, including one in the House Chamber, welcome visitors to the Capitol. Throughout the holiday season, school children come to sing and perform under the Capitol dome. This year, the 19-foot Virginia Pine in the House Chamber was supplied by Elves Farm in Denison. Elves Farm also supplied the House Chamber’s 2011, 2012, and 2013 Christmas trees.

REMINISCENT: An angel named Myrle

Do you believe in angels? I do. I have always felt that I had one waiting here for me when I was born. There always seems to be an ethereal atmosphere surrounding me even today, when I mention her name. I always called her Sister Myrle, as did our siblings that came after me.

What’s fair about corporate taxes?

Corporate taxes in the United States are frequently in the news, as they’re a favorite subject of both the left and the right. Republicans unsurprisingly want them lowered, as America has the highest such tax rate in the world, among developed countries. Democrats, on the other hand, like to single out specific industries for either having to pay too much — e.g wind and solar farms — or benefiting from “unfair tax breaks,” which usually track closely with a company’s proximity to an oil well.

Let’s reminisce: Unusual words and their histories

Long-time readers of this column will recall that I have a fondness for unusual words and their history. When I run across interesting ones, I save them up and occasionally write a column on the subject. As a teenager I liked to read noted conservative writer William H. Buckley, who managed to employ at least one unfamiliar term in each of his newspaper columns. Even when he was “bloviating” (using highfalutin’ words), I found him entertaining.

Moments with the minister: Peace on Earth

I love winter and I especially love Christmas, but I never seem to be ready for it. I’m never ready for it financially, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It’s draining on the pocket book because I have 4 little girls. It’s draining physically and emotionally because in a one month period I spend more time than I do all year with my parents and my in‐laws (I’m praying they don’t read this). Spiritually, I often find, that between the busyness of my personal life and the church picking up speed during the holidays that I’m left wondering if I have done all I can do to prepare my heart for Christmas.

Discussions of ‘culture of rape’ ask wrong question

Writing about rape, as a man, is a fool’s errand, but it’s one I feel compelled to undertake. Men are imprisoned for rape at a 99-1 ratio to women, according the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics. So since men are all-but precluded from suffering the consequences of rape, some people believe they therefore have no ground on which to stand while debating rape-related issues.

Let’s reminisce: Faultless starch

While listening to a radio interview with novelist Richard Ford, I was shocked to hear him say that his father made a living selling Faultless starch — in bulk, by the railroad carload. Instantly I recalled seeing boxes of Faultless starch used by my mother when doing laundry. Of course, this product is still on sale in stores, but it now comes in aerosol cans. When I looked it up on Wikipedia, I discovered that the company that makes it was founded in 1886 and remains privately owned, which is a rare thing. Its second flagship product, Bon Ami cleanser, has also been around for more than a century and is still a top seller.

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Understanding what scientists do

The U.S. is now Ebola free and we are coping with unusually cold weather due to a “polar vortex.” What do these two things have in common? Both of them illustrate the fact that Americans have a limited understanding of science and tend to distrust scientists. Despite an overwhelming consensus among scientists that climate change is affecting our weather, many people refuse to accept their judgment. Similarly, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that Ebola is extraordinarily hard to catch, most Americans didn’t believe it.

The neutrality of tact, or vice versa

As a point, I make an effort in this space each week to avoid mentioning politicians by name. That’s not to say my record’s perfect; on one occasion , I took aim at Barack Obama and George W. Bush for their vacation policies. And there are probably others as well. But I really try to avoid it.

Reminiscent: No broken limbs, only two skull fractures

The little Wolfe Ridge school was much like the other one-room schoolhouses that dotted the countryside in Cooke County. My father, his eight siblings and my brother went there before me. We had gotten electricity on Wolfe Ridge the year before I started school there, but water still came in a bucket from the O’Brien farm nearby. In the yard near the school was a small lot and a shed to protect the horses some of the children rode to school. My brother rode his horse to school but by the time I got there we had school buses (unfortunately, in my opinion).

Posse takes justice into its own hands

In Sunday’s column the attempted robbery of a farm family that resulted in the husband’s near death at the hands of the robbers when they tried to hang him three times and failed, led to the capture of the wood-be robbers by the home guard a few nights later.

Robbers buried under the tree on which they were hanged

The seven men were hanged by a self-designated posse for the attempted robbery and unsuccessful hanging of a farmer in the area after three tries. An account of the robbers being captured was given in the first column and of them being hanged was covered in the second column. Today we will talk about the aftermath of the hangings.