Opinion: Columns

Mar. 22, 2014 @ 05:10 PM

Column: In this case, I do care

You know why incorrect use of certain words has become common usage? Because not enough people have bothered to learn what’s correct. That isn’t a good reason to lower your standards. It's like the language equivalent of grade inflation -- if no one can earn an A anymore, just lower the bar so what used to get a B grade is now worth an A.

Mar. 09, 2014 @ 04:48 AM

Column: North reminds me why I love South

Winter has been with us a bit longer this year. In fact two weeks ago when it was snowing someone asked me if it reminded me of my time in Minnesota, and my response was, “Yes, spring in Minnesota.”

Last weekend, when I returned for a visit to my former home, I was once again reminded that a few days of snow in North Carolina hardly compare to winter in Minnesota. I was attending the wedding of a family friend, and it provided a wonderful opportunity to see other friends. The entire time I wondered, “How do these people stand the winters, and did I really do this for 10 years?”

Mar. 09, 2014 @ 01:44 AM

Column: Election season hits the letters page

Election season has barely begun, but the letters to the editor and phone calls tell me that primary season may be a rough one for local races.

That makes this a good time to brush up on the News-Topic’s guidelines for election-related letters.

Mar. 02, 2014 @ 01:41 AM

Column: A great day in Caldwell County

This past Tuesday really was a great day to do business in Caldwell County.

The Caldwell County Economic Development Commission hosted its annual celebration, and like last year there was a great deal to celebrate. Seventeen companies, or the Class of 2013, were honored for their growth and expansion in 2013, with millions and millions of dollars invested in the county and hundreds of new employees added.

Mar. 03, 2014 @ 11:04 AM

Column: What it was wasn't Indiana

Now just a cotton-pickin’ minute here.

Do you mean to tell me that someone is trying to move Mayberry out of North Carolina to some spot way up North?

Uh-uh, naw sir, that won’t do. That won’t do ay-tall.

Feb. 24, 2014 @ 08:35 AM

Column: What color is the sky in your world?

I’m much less worried about an endless academic study of newsroom behavior (which, believe me, is more seat-of-the-pants than anyone on the right or left would like to believe) than I am the complete separation between the reality I live in and the one that some others live in.

Feb. 24, 2014 @ 08:34 AM

Column: Coal ash spill should bother us all

Like many other North Carolinians concerned about our environment, I have been watching the news of the Dan River with great interest.

Environmental tourism is a large contributor to the economic vitality of our state, whether it’s the mountains, the beaches or our many winding rivers. People choose to visit here and live here because of the beauty of our state, and all of our companies need to be outstanding stewards and protect our resources.

Feb. 07, 2014 @ 03:30 PM

Column: Time for this guest to leave

Winter has worn out its welcome.

The brief spell of spring-like weather at the beginning of last week drove home that my body is ready for winter to be over. A couple of days after the high temperature peaked in the 60s, we had high temperatures in the 40s and lows in 20s. In January that would have felt positively temperate. Not now.

Feb. 03, 2014 @ 04:15 PM

Column: News is whatever people want to talk about

“The paper is mainly full of bad news.”

A reader, or maybe by now it’s more accurate to call her a former reader, included that in a letter this week. News, as defined by what most news organizations write about, was at the very bottom of the list of things she wants in a newspaper.

It’s a complaint that editors have heard at times literally for decades. It’s not true, though.

Jan. 25, 2014 @ 08:06 AM

Column: Like the Terminator, the cookies are back

The Girl Scouts frown on selling cookies in front of liquor stores, tattoo parlors, pawn shops and Hooters.

Or so I’m told by a friend with a daughter in the Girl Scouts.

If at least one of those places would take up selling groceries, I’d stand a decent chance of achieving my goal of entirely avoiding Thin Mints.

Jan. 19, 2014 @ 01:31 AM

Column: The year has sped past

The past year has been a whirlwind.

On Jan. 20 last year, I moved into a garage apartment in Oak Hill. The next day I started work at the News-Topic.

Now I’m a homeowner in Lenoir, and I have been working here four months longer than I did when this place gave me my first reporting job in 1987-88. It doesn’t feel like it has been a full year.

Jan. 12, 2014 @ 01:29 AM

Column: How cold was it?

You can go to our Facebook page and share some of your favorite winter stories. I’ll share a few of mine today.

Jan. 11, 2014 @ 10:28 AM

Column: Statistics can be both fuzzy and correct

Lies, bigger lies, and statistics.

That, or a variation on it, is among the first replies we hear at the News-Topic each time we have a story about the local unemployment rate dropping, as we did in Wednesday’s paper.

Jan. 05, 2014 @ 09:54 AM

Column: Don't get me started ...

Probably few people are as aware as I am that highly opinionated people can be irritating.

I know this because I rarely meet anyone with more opinions than I have.

Dec. 29, 2013 @ 05:21 AM

Column: You spoke, and we listened

Early in November we made a significant change to the News-Topic. Editor Guy Lucas, Circulation Manager Mike Lambert and I have spoken with many of our readers since. While we cannot bring back the Saturday edition, we have tried to be flexible and attentive to your suggestions.

Dec. 28, 2013 @ 01:25 AM

Column: They say only the good die young

Facebook’s death has been announced, though the obituary hasn’t been written and funeral arrangements remain incomplete.

News of Facebook’s demise comes from England’s University College London, where a study on social media, who uses it and what they use has found that among current teenagers in Europe, “Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried.”

Dec. 22, 2013 @ 06:08 AM

Column: Something magical about Christmas

Only a few days away and all of the festivities will be over, including the shopping, family get-togethers and great meals. The carefully wrapped presents will be opened and the paper tossed. A few days after that the tree and decorations will be stored away for another year. Then we’ll race into 2014.

But there is always something magical about Christmas. People are a bit friendlier. The lights are bright and beautiful. The singing is more powerful.

Dec. 21, 2013 @ 10:41 AM

Column: All I want for Christmas ...

I was able to get an early peek at local kids' letters to Santa because one of the little-known duties of local newspaper editors is to serve as a temp administrative assistant for Santa, sorting his mail and typing.

I haven’t written to Santa in something like 45 years, but all together, the letters inspired me.

Dec. 15, 2013 @ 06:19 AM

Column: Imagine what it would be like

Think about how dependent we are now as opposed to generations ago, when people survived by growing their own food and didn’t even imagine televisions, much less computers, iPads and iPhones.

Dec. 15, 2013 @ 06:15 AM

Column: There are more needs than we can address

The world of worthy endeavors is wider than the pages of this newspaper.

When the News-Topic ran a story on Tuesday listing what the story referred to as “a few” of the nonprofits serving Caldwell County, that’s just what it was, “a few” and “a place to start.”

We could not begin to list all of the charitable organizations serving the county.

Dec. 08, 2013 @ 06:39 AM

Column: Make time for others during the holidays

Christmas surrounds us in Caldwell County. For instance this is parade weekend (and here’s hoping that much-talked-about rainy weather stays away). Friday night was the City of Lenoir’s parade, with several more parades scheduled for Saturday.

Dec. 07, 2013 @ 06:40 AM

Column: Cat videos aren't waste of time

If you’re on the Internet much, it’s hard to avoid coming across cute videos of cats or cute pictures of cats with cute captions on them.

The Internet also is full of things like a stop-animation video from Bricktease.com in which someone restaged the police chase inside a shopping mall from “The Blues Brothers” but using Lego toys. Seeing it is one of those truly mind-blowing experiences that leaves you thinking, “There is so much silly stuff on the Internet.”

And that is a positive development, according to Clay Shirky, who studies the effects of the Internet on society.

Dec. 01, 2013 @ 04:36 AM

Column: Only 24 shopping days left

Well the Thanksgiving eating and football marathon is past. Black Friday is just a memory of massive crowds all fighting over the same $5 video. The largest part Christmas shopping season is ahead of us, including Cyber Monday on Dec. 2.

It made me think about where all of these shopping days originated.

Dec. 02, 2013 @ 10:50 AM

Column: A name is just the beginning

What’s in a name?

It might be true that, as Shakespeare wrote, that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

But we probably wouldn’t smell it much if it were called a horsebutt, or a vomit.

Which is why you can bet the name Heritage Home Group did not just get picked out of a hat or at the last minute, out of nowhere, when KPS Capital Partners chose it for the new name of what until last Monday was known as Furniture Brands International.

Nov. 23, 2013 @ 04:21 PM

Column: There are worse things than being alone

The heavens are exploding above you, every day.

Whether that equals vast interstellar carnage and the snuffing of civilizations or it’s just interesting science trivia, we may never know.