Opinion: Columns

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.

Nov. 23, 2013 @ 04:13 PM

Column: A time for family and making memories

Reflecting on Thanksgiving is good for the soul.

This year I will spend Thanksgiving with my brothers and sisters, their spouses and children in Illinois. It’s rare that we all ever get together, as we are scattered from east to west, north to south. But our dear, sweet mother has entered the final stages of her nearly 13-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and we want to spend the holiday with her and each other.

Nov. 16, 2013 @ 06:51 AM

Column: Where were you?

My parents’ generation never forgot where they were that December morning when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and less than four years later when World War II was over. My generation and our children’s generation will never forget where we were when the Twin Towers were hit and collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

And finally, it is doubtful anyone of my generation will ever forget where they were the day President John F. Kennedy was shot and later died.

Nov. 16, 2013 @ 01:48 AM

Column: There are only 15 types of Americans

There is nothing new under the sun, but now there are people with advanced college degrees to label everything.

You don’t need a college degree to know that this is a conservative, religious area. But maybe you need one to assign Caldwell County one of 15 labels, putting it neatly into a demographic box, the better for consultants and journalists in big cities to understand without having to visit.

Nov. 09, 2013 @ 03:38 PM

Column: Change comes to the News-Topic

This weekend the News-Topic is also changing. As you know we have combined our Saturday and Sunday News-Topic into one publication that we have renamed the Weekend Edition.

Nov. 09, 2013 @ 03:37 PM

Column: I blinked and almost missed autumn

Now, you can curse me as an old fuddy duddy — and maybe I am starting to look like one, since the first thing my new doctor asked me was how many flights of stairs I can climb — but didn’t autumn used to come before Halloween and last longer than five days?

Nov. 02, 2013 @ 01:46 AM

Column: Ready or not, time to set your clocks back

So Daylight Saving Time will end Sunday, and most of the country will return to standard time, which means for most you’ll now leave for work in a little light and return to your home in the dark.

So why does DST exist, and who does and doesn’t conform?

Oct. 27, 2013 @ 03:58 PM

Column: A father's legacy: goosebumps

It’s not always the father, but often it is, who gets upset when someone turns the air conditioning down low in the summer or turns the heat up high in the fall and winter.

At least, that’s how it was at my house.

It must also be how it was for most of my friends growing up because at this time of year, almost all of them hold off turning on the heat. They see how long they can last without it.

Oct. 26, 2013 @ 01:33 AM

Column: Drunken driving remains a problem

Did you know that nearly 16,000 people die each year in the U.S. because of an alcohol-related car accident? Or someone is injured every two minutes in an alcohol-related car accident? Or that you’re five times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related car accident in the evening? Or that over 40 percent of all car accidents are alcohol-related?

Oct. 20, 2013 @ 01:02 AM

Column: Real estate - a love story

When house-hunting, you hope to fall in love with a place. Love at first sight. You want to walk into a house and feel a rushing sense that you could happily live the rest of your life there. You want to feel sudden inspiration for painting, or planning a new patio, or choosing new shades. You need to be able to envision where your pets will like to sleep or who will choose which room.

But falling in love is not entirely a good thing.

Oct. 19, 2013 @ 01:50 AM

Column: Be aware, and think pink

One would have to be a total recluse to not know it’s breast cancer awareness month. The signature bright pink ribbon seems to adorn everything in October, from grocery items to NFL player uniforms.

Oct. 12, 2013 @ 03:39 PM

Column: Every day, reliving a specific past

No one ever will mistake me for a local, but having worked here once before, I sometimes get the same kind of surreal feeling that I have when I drive through neighborhoods where I grew up.

Sep. 30, 2013 @ 11:30 AM

Column: In search of the elusive soft-speaking human

The first sentence of the story on National Geographic’s website said, “Humans aren’t the only animals who know how to speak softly.”

Now this seemed like serious news, a major scientific breakthrough. Until Friday I had not thought that researchers even suspected that humans know how to speak softly.

Sep. 28, 2013 @ 06:47 PM

Column: In search of elusive soft-speaking human

The first sentence of the story on National Geographic’s website said, “Humans aren’t the only animals who know how to speak softly.”

Now this seemed like serious news, a major scientific breakthrough. Until Friday I had not thought that researchers even suspected that humans know how to speak softly.

Sep. 22, 2013 @ 01:36 AM

Column: Let people make up their own minds

“Invisible Man” may be widely acknowledged as one of the greatest works of fiction of the 20th century, but it’s no “Captain Underpants.”

I'll explain, but bear with me.

The Randolph County Board of Education voted last week to remove all copies of “Invisible Man” from its school libraries.

Coincidentally, this is Banned Books Week, an event launched in 1982 to highlight attempts to remove literature from schools and libraries.

Sep. 20, 2013 @ 04:22 PM

Column: Don't worry, be happy

I read an interesting article by guru Martin Seligman. He says happiness is 60 percent genetics and 40 percent environment. It means we choose in many cases to be happy or sad. He also says that there are three types of happy. There is pleasant (and it’s based on what we have and doesn’t build long-term happiness), engagement (work, parenting, love and leisure) and meaningful (which is the highest level).

In his article he says there are actually 17 factors. I found them quite interesting.

Sep. 15, 2013 @ 01:32 AM

Column: All things must end, even in comics

One of the first lessons anyone moving into a newspaper management position learns is that you really don’t want to mess with the comics page.

Of all the things you can do to change a newspaper for better or worse, few engage readers’ emotions the way that dropping a favorite comic strip does.

That said, we’re going to be messing with the comics page.

Sep. 14, 2013 @ 01:03 AM

Column: Women need better standards of beauty

Earlier this week I heard a story that just made me cringe. It was a story about a skin care product that was being used by some Asian women to lighten their skin, and it was determined by doctors to be causing permanent skin damage. Specialists were urging that it be pulled from the market.

Then, doing some research, I found another item that made me want to scream. Japanese women were ruining their teeth because they were altering their teeth to create snaggleteeth in the name of beauty. The pictures were ugly.

It made me think about the things women do in the name of beauty.