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Ak-Sar-Ben Itself Merits Praise Along With King Dick And Queen Suzanne - 10-14-10

Come Election Day, White And Terry Can’t Duck Party Labels Any Longer - 10-07-10

Today, Second-Guessing Other Sports Commentators But Some Thoughts On Current Political Issues, Too - 09-30-10

Gates Gives Somber Non-Political Appraisals Of Iraq, Afghanistan - 09-23-10

At Last, A Prominent Moderate Muslim Speaks Out Against Muslim Terrorists - 09-16-10

Today, It’s All About College Football With Some “As I See It” Commentary - 09-09-10

Danes’ Sensible Approach To Immigration Won’t, Unfortunately, Fly In The U.S.A. - 09-02-10

Mosque Controversy Isn’t About Legal Rights; It’s About Moral Use Of Those Rights - 08-26-10

Time To Answer The Obvious Question: What Chance For Success In Afghanistan? - 08-19-10

Two-Paragraph News Story Offers Scary Prospect For World’s Future - 08-12-10

Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10

Not Wall Street But Democratic Policy Caused Mortgage Market Crash - 07-29-10

Windfarm Promoters Need More Facts, Less Rhetoric - 07-22-10

Nebraska Democrats’ ‘Find A Candidate’ Problem Began Long Months (Years?) Ago - 07-15-10

When The Subject Is Disasters,Obama Needs A History Lesson - 07-08-10

McChrystal’s Firing Spotlights Afghan War And The Slim Chance Of U.S. Victory There - 07-01-10

Advice For An Egocentric President: “I, I, I” Suggests One-Man Team - 06-24-10

Texas Decision Good For Big 12 But Even Better For The Longhorns - 06-17-10

Europe Is Sobering Up From 'Welfare' Binge; Obama-Led U.S. Moving Toward Similar Crises? - 06-10-10

A New Issue: Does ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ Make Military Service Easier For Gays? - 06-03-10

Do State Officials Really Understand The Challenges Faced By Omaha Schools? - 05-27-10

Democrats Continue Cheap Shot Campaign Against Republican Congressman Lee Terry - 05-20-10

Cartoonist Koterba Says It Clearly: Don’t Put All The Blame On Schools - 05-13-10

Citizenship For Immigrants Is Inevitable But Start By Closing The Border - 05-06-10

Punish Wall Streeters If They Deserve It But Liberal Dems Spawned The Mortgage Mess - 04-29-10

Did Legislature, Speaker Mike Flood Deserve All Those Kind Words? - 04-22-10

Tiger Sulks His Way Through Masters— Is Obama Gambling On The Nuclear Issue? Rogue States And Terrorists Won’t Sign Up - 04-15-10

Did Obama/Pelosi ‘Sausage Factory’ Produce A Debt-Increasing Unpopular Health Plan? - 04-08-10

The Stories Behind Some Disturbing Headlines And Some Advice For Avoiding National Bankruptcy - 04-01-10

Four-Vote House Margin Makes Americans Swallow Trillion-Dollar Pill They Don't Want - 03-25-10

Insurance Pays 96% Of Family’s Cost For Seven Years Of ‘End Of Life’ Treatment - 03-18-10

President Angry Replaces President Cool; ‘ObamaCare’s’ Chances Helped Or Hurt? - 03-11-10

Americans To Get ‘ObamaCare’ Even If They Don’t Want It? - 03-04-10

Despite The Headlines, There’s Progress In Curbing Violence In North Omaha - 02-25-10

Corporate Expenditures Bad For Politics Except When They Benefit Liberal Candidates? - 02-18-10

Wind Energy Industry Faced Disaster; V.A. Hospital Not Personal Obama Choice - 02-11-10

Some Remarkable Legislative Comments And Some Questionable Media Performance - 02-04-10

When The Subject Is Nebraska Wind Energy, ‘Green’ Is The Color Of Money - 01-28-10

The “Teddy Kennedy Seat” Lesson Might Benefit Both Democrats and Republicans - 01-21-10

Some Legislative Issues—Like Gambling—Deserve Quick Death But Water Issues Deserve Careful Attention - 01-14-10

Today: ‘Big Daddy’ Government Wrong Again, And How Justified Is Cornhusker Title Talk? - 01-07-10

Dan Neary Worthy Of The Honor--
Today Some Upbeat Comments But "Obama Care" Debate Demands Attention
- 12-30-09

Even Without That Health Bill Vote, Another Term For Nelson Was Questionable - 12-23-09

Let’s Talk Football And Why Nebraska’s Suh Deserved The Heisman - 12-17-09

Image of Immigrants Would Be Helped By Less Cinco de Mayo, More 4th of July - 12-10-09

Image Of Islam Is Badly Damaged By ‘God-Approved’ Slaughter Of Non-Muslims - 12-03-09

Close Call For NU Research, Reputation; Thanksgiving Reminder: Count Your Blessings - 11-25-09

NU’s Reputation And Research Role Are Both At Stake When Regents Vote - 11-19-09

Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’
Changing To ‘Maybe We Can’t’?
- 11-12-09

Review The History Before Renaming A Street; Memories Of Sarah, Our Sweet Senior Dog - 11-05-09

“Socioeconomic Diversity” More Important Then Academic Achievement In “Learning Community”? - 10-29-09

A Visiting Sports Columnist Agrees: ‘There Is No Place Like Nebraska’ - 10-22-09

Might Obama Wish He Had A Chance To Say ‘No, Thanks’ To Early Nobel Prize? - 10-15-09

Don’t Overlook The Variety Of Aid Which Goes To ‘Poverty Level’ Families - 10-08-09

Smorgasbord Today: From UN’s “Nutcake Day” To Obama Performance Here And Abroad - 10-01-09

Must Defense Continue To Cover For Huskers’ Anemic Red Zone Offense? - 09-24-09

'Energizer Bunny' President Continues To Add Proposals For Reform - 09-17-09

Today, Variety: Football, Golf And Why No President Should Televise Himself Into The Nation’s Classrooms - 09-10-09

Massachusetts Gave Kennedy Significant Second Chances - 09-03-09

Obama’s Problem Not Just With GOP
But With A Great Many Americans
- 08-27-09

Tiger Could Use Sportsmanship Lesson—And Less Coverage From Fawning Media - 08-20-09

Gallup ‘Competitive’ Label, If Accurate Long Term, Is Good News Not Only For Nebraska Democrats - 08-13-09

Democrats Go All-Out Negative:
Trash Private Insurance Industry
- 08-06-09

Journalistic Watchdogs Turned Lapdogs When Obama Called That ‘News Conference’ - 07-30-09

Look Back, Mr. President: Opposition Is Catching Up - 07-23-09

Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09

Dems Start Oust-Terry Effort In The Political Gutter - 07-09-09

Despite Liberal Media's Views, Nation Better Served By Viable GOP - 07-02-09

A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09

Freshman President Learning Some Political Realities? - 06-18-09

Voices Of Reason Raised Too Late To Slow Rush To Wind Power? - 06-11-09

Public Will Be Watching Prosecution Of Three Teen-Age Creatures - 06-04-09

Wealthiest Paying Less, In Taxes?
It’s Simply Not True
- 05-28-09

Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson
- 05-21-09

Special-Interest Liberals
Shouldn’t Badger Obama
- 05-14-09

A Surprising Source: Obama
Cites Positive Results of Iraq War
- 05-07-09

Media Transfer Their Love
From Candidate to President
- 04-30-09

Suttle Campaign Subtly Two-Faced? Or ‘Just Politics’? Voters Will Decide - 04-23-09

If America Is "At War
With Islam," It's Self-Defense
- 04-16-09

Seven Iowans Change Marriage
Tradition For 3 Million Others
- 04-09-09

Will Liberal Democrats Continue
Escaping The Verdict Of History?
- 04-02-09

Multi-Focused President
Upsets Even Liberals
- 03-26-09

Richard Nixon—Appropriate To Recall The Good As Well As The Dark Side - 03-19-09

Not Reducing Mortgage Costs; We’re Simply ‘Modifying’ Them - 03-12-09

Fair Warning From NY Times: Obama’s “Breathtaking Plans” Would “Transform American Society” - 03-05-09

A Look At Academy Awards Nastiness, But First A Plug For My Book, “Life With Marian” - 02-26-09

Let’s Not Move Slot Machine Cancer From Iowa Casinos To Nebraska Race Tracks - 02-19-09

Whiteclay Is Wrong Target;
Aim At Alcoholism Problem
- 02-12-09

For The Best “Stimulus” Formula:
Put Economic Recovery First;
“Remaking USA” Can Wait
- 02-05-09

Journalistic Hounds Are Still
In Full Pursuit Of Bush
- 01-29-09

‘First Black President’ Celebration
Shouldn’t Further Distract Us
From Job We And Obama Face
- 01-22-09

‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real
- 01-15-09

Advice For Husker Fans:
Rejoice—But Be Realistic
- 01-08-09

Kennedy Dynasty History
Includes Shameful Chapters
- 12-31-08

Today Some Merry Christmas Thoughts But A Few Political Barbs, Too - 12-24-08

This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty
- 12-18-08

Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So
- 12-11-08

Obama Steers A Moderate Course
But Congressional Democrats Veer Left
- 12-04-08

Too Many "Non-Blessings"
This Thanksgiving Week
- 11-26-08

Let’s Hear More About
The Principal ‘Crisis’ Victims
- 11-20-08

Color-Blind Issues Voting
Showed No Turn To The Left
- 11-13-08

Election Made History
But Big Questions Remain
- 11-06-08

Today, A Choice of Topics:
Politics Or Football—Or Both
- 10-30-08

Splitting Electoral Votes Good Idea? Then Why Do 48 States Reject It? - 10-23-08

Dems Take 11th Hour Low Road
In 2nd Congressional District Race
- 10-16-08

Another Government “Welfare Program,” Bargain Mortgages, Caused The Crisis - 10-09-08

Words Can Lose Their Meaning
When A Government Program Is Involved
- 10-02-08

—Have We Learned This Lesson?— Crisis Results When Individuals, Encouraged By Financial Institutions, Try To Live Beyond Their Means - 9-25-08

Bonds To Build Four-Lane Highways?
Where Would The Money Come From?
- 9-18-08

Today, a Large Load of Political
Commentary After a Brief Plug For
My Book, ‘Life With Marian’
- 9-17-08

Major News Media Look Bad
In Non-Coverage of
Edwards’ Sex Affair Story
- 9-11-08

Disadvantaged Students Can Be
Helped Without Discriminatory ‘Affirmative Action’
- 9-04-08

My Favorite Olympic Champion?
It Wasn’t Michael Phelps
- 8-28-08

Will Chinese Get Away With
'Out Air Is Clean' Scam?
- 8-21-08

Windmills, Solar Won't Do It;
Time To Get Real On Energy
- 8-07-08

I Doubt That God or Jesus
Have Heavenly Money on Either Team
- 8-07-08

‘Pop Star’ Obama Lacks Experience,
McCain Lacks Clear Campaign Strategy
- 7-31-08

Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit?
- 7-24-08

Would Odor of Politics
Taint Fire Chief Choice?
- 7-17-08

Will Hospitality, Qwest Center
Lure Swim Trials Back to Omaha?
- 7-09-08

Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage
- 7-02-08

Omaha's CWS Reputation
Gets New "Rave Reviews"
- 6-25-08

S.D. Vote Could Lead
To National Abortion Battle
- 6-18-08

Don’t Let Niobrara Go The Way
Of The Republican And The Platte
- 6-11-08

Voters Didn’t Impose Term Limits
To Rid Legislature of Chambers
- 6-04-08

“It’s Our Turn” Pitch Might
Not End With Hillary Defeat
- 5-28-08

Prime Nebraska Political
Battleground This Year:
2nd Congressional District
- 5-21-08

The 'Browning' of America:
How Far Will It Go?
- 5-14-08

Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08

"Does Homebuyer Bailout
Reward the Irresponsible?"
- 4-30-08

"Was McCain, Not Clinton,
The Real Winner in Pennsylvania?"
- 4-25-08

"Cleaner Skies Advice For Gore:
Pressure On China, More Nuke
Power If Jane Fonda Will Allow It"
- 4-16-08

"Why The Big Fuss Over
Tiny Gasoline Cost Increase?"
- 4-09-08

"Quietly, Nebraska Yields
All-Public-Power Status"
-  4-02-08

"Obama’s ‘Historic’ Speech Left
Big Questions Unanswered "
-  3-25-08

"Overweight Moore Produces
“Sicko,” Finds An Ally In Creighton Doctor"
-  3-19-08

"Bush Sings, Praises Press
At Annual Gridiron Dinner"
-  3-12-08

"Obama Would Be Least
Formidable Opponent For McCain"
-  3-7-08

"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" -  2-27-08

"Could Citizen ‘Packing Iron’
Have Stopped Von Maur Killings?"
-  2-20-08

"Obama’s Style Without Substance
Exciting, But Is It Presidential?"
-  2-13-08

"Barack Obama and John McCain:
A Major Contrast in Egos? "
-  2-07-08

"‘First Black President’
Emphasis Wouldn’t Help Obama"
-  1-30-08

"Kimball Lauritzen: Think of Her
As Joyous on Some New Dawn"
-  1-23-08

"What 'Tough' Election Contest
Was Ben Nelson Talking About?"
- 1-16-08

"Overhyped New Hampshire
Offsets Overhyped Iowa"
- 1-10-08

"Coach Bo Now Well Welcomed;
Time to Start Thinking of NU Wins"
- 1-2-08

"Words of Jews Most Moving
To Me This Christmas Season"
- 12-25-07

- 12-19-07

"Killer Is Getting Just What He Wanted;
Let's Add Anger and
Action to Our Sorrow"
- 12-12-07

"Bo Brings Emotional Fire to NU Job;
Scary News: Huckabee Gain in Iowa"
- 12-05-07

"Callahan Outclasses Loudmouth Critics;
Tom Osborne Treated Him Fairly"
- 11-28-07

"A Thought for Thanksgiving Day:
Tell Them You Love Them"
- 11-21-07

"Callahan Critics: Is Loss to CU
The Only Way to Satisfy Them?"
- 11-16-07

"Crybaby Fans, Sports Commentators
Distracting Players From Their Job?"
- 11-09-07

"Did Bob Kerrey’s Decision Avoid
the Likelihood of Defeat?"
- 11-02-07

"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls"
- 10-26-07

"Is This The Way to Run UNL´s
Athletic Program?"
- 10-19-07

"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL"
- 10-12-07

"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07

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As I See It
Harold W. Andersen is a retired Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Omaha World-Herald Company. Full biography.

A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)

And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.

When The Subject Is Nebraska Wind Energy,
‘Green’ Is The Color Of Money

January 28, 2010

In all the legislative “let’s turn Nebraska wind into lots of dollars” enthusiasm and in the supporting editorial comment, I have yet to see any answer to these fundamental questions:

What study, based on solid research, has confirmed that there is a large market in the eastern United States for electrical energy that could be exported from Nebraska? 

What careful research has produced a practical, cost-effective plan for gathering the electricity from windmills on Nebraska farms and ranches and exporting it hundreds or perhaps more than a thousand of miles to such eastern markets if they indeed exist?

Nor have I seen—in any of the countless stories or editorials promoting wind power development in Nebraska—any focus on the fact that such development would be practical only because of federal subsidies to private investors—subsidies which would be financed by issuance of what, in effect, are IOUs; i.e., by the issuance of bonds, which is the way that the deficit-ridden federal government must raise money when it spends more than it collects in taxes. 

This largely overlooked truism makes the final cost even greater than the amount of the federal subsidy—the bonds must be paid back at face value plus interest. 

Who gets the tax subsidies which make these projects doable?  That’s where the profit-seeking private investors come in—tax subsidies to private investors who are likely to be based in other states or even in foreign countries.  (Some of the larger financiers of wind power projects in the United States are headquartered in Denmark, Germany or Spain.)

Ironically, the rationale for federal subsidy of wind power is definitely not to create a profitable windfall (I couldn’t resist the play on words) for Nebraska farmers and ranchers and private investors in Nebraska or other states or foreign countries.  The rationale for federal government subsidy is that wind power is a non-polluting, renewable source that replaces (to a very modest degree, I must emphasize) the carbon emissions from coal-powered plants, thus becoming part of the “green” movement to reduce global warming.

In 21 World-Herald stories dealing with the possibility of developing windmill-generated electricity as a major economic factor for our state, I found exactly one story that touched on wind power as a predictable or at least possible Nebraska contribution to a “greener” global environment.

If there was any “green” component implied in the stories, it was definitely the color of currency—how much money could Nebraska farmers and ranchers and outside investors make from those proposed hundreds (thousands?) of windmills.

OPPD Looks At Nuclear Power, Too

In the case of the Omaha Public Power District’s decision to buy electricity from a proposed wind power development near Petersburg, Nebraska, one of those 21 news stories said the Omaha-headquartered utility considers this a money-saving alternative to building another electricity-generating coal-fired plant.

A wise alternative, but the story failed to point out that OPPD still must increase its standby conventionally-powered production capacity.

OPPD officials have told me that electric utilities must maintain as much standby capacity as they would if they had no access to wind-powered electricity.  This is because there are periods when the wind isn’t blowing hard enough to generate significant electricity, especially during the summer when demand for electricity is greatest because of air conditioning.

 (“Sorry, the wind isn’t blowing today” would hardly be an acceptable response to a sweating customer calling on a July day to complain that his power is off.)

To its credit, OPPD is studying ways to increase the “green” output from its Fort Calhoun nuclear plant by 17%, the calculated maximum expansion capacity.

Interestingly, all the wind power discussion has included no indication of reluctance to end Nebraska’s status as an all-public-power state, with profits from electricity sales now to go to private parties including outside investors. 

Incidentally, one editorial comment referred to the legislation which is being developed in Lincoln as a “home-grown” plan.  I am told that while the final plan must be one approved by the Nebraska Legislature, the legislators are getting a good deal of advice from lobbyists representing non-Nebraska corporations which are interested in financing Nebraska wind energy projects in anticipation of an attractive return on their investment.

* * *

Another Foolish Smoker And Attorney
Enriched By ‘Punitive Damages’ Award

In an editorial immediately below one in which illegal aliens were described as “Americans-in-waiting,” The New York Times published an editorial headlined “A Big Loss for Big Tobacco.”  It told with unconcealed glee of a Florida jury’s ordering Philip Morris USA to pay $300 million to a former smoker who had developed severe emphysema and may need a lung transplant.  (As I see it, he’s lucky he is not dead.)

Of the total award, $56 million was given in compensatory damages—that is, compensation for the actual physical damage which the jury felt the smoker had suffered.  The rest was charged against Philip Morris under the logically indefensible but judicially approved doctrine of “punitive damages,” punishing Philip Morris for its promotion of its totally legal product.  This supposedly warns other tobacco companies that they may face similar punishment when a smoker sues.

In the first place, anybody who smokes is foolish and should take upon himself or herself the burden of any damage which results from smoking.  (The knowledge that nicotine can kill goes back at lest as far as the World War I era, when cigarettes were sometimes referred to as “coffin nails.”)

In the second place, when juries award the multi-millions in damages to compensate the foolish smoker, it does not follow that civil court proceedings logically can or should result also in punitive damages.  The term “punitive” implies that it is punishment ,which has  no place in a civil courtroom where a jury is trying a presumably civil case.  If there is punishment to be applied, it should be under a criminal statue in a criminal trial.

Rejoicing in the punishment being laid on Philip Morris, The New York Times editorial offered this highly questionable assertion:  “Lawyers are often reluctant to represent smokers and former smokers.  Suits against the tobacco industry, which is known for its tough litigation tactics, can take years and be extremely expensive.”

It is, I believe, common knowledge (apparently except to The New York Times) that certain lawyers have become wealthy winning punitive damage awards.  That, of course, is because a substantial share of the award routinely goes to the plaintiff’s attorneys.

While I believe that so-called “punitive damages” should be removed entirely from civil proceedings and, if considered sound public policy, should be pursued in criminal court, there is a way to keep plaintiffs and lawyers from unreasonably profiting from such an award.  See that the awards—or at least the major portion of them—go to some public purpose like the public schools, rather than to the plaintiff and his attorneys.

In Nebraska, punitive damages can be awarded but are rarely if ever sought by attorneys in damage suits because the Nebraska Supreme Court wisely decided many years ago that a punitive damage award is in the nature of a fine which, under the state constitution, must go to the public schools.

You can bet that very few lawyers are interested in pursuing damage awards which go to the public schools rather than to the plaintiff and his attorney.

* * *

Bill Callahan—Remember Him?—Gets Credit
For Recruiting The Remarkable Mr. Suh

Enough heavy lifting.  Let’s talk sports.

A World-Herald columnist recently reminded us that it was Bill Callahan, fired as Nebraska Cornhusker football coach after the’07 season, who recruited Ndamukong Suh in 2005.  Suh said at the time he was attracted to Nebraska in large part by the fact that he liked the coaches, including Callahan.

It was, incidentally, not a sports columnist who recalled this interesting fact about the recruitment of Suh, who, among a host of other honors, was named “Defensive Player of the Year” by the Associated Press.  The columnist was Mike Kelly, The World-Herald’s superb “columnist for all seasons.”

(One gets the impression that The World-Herald sports staff in general doesn’t like to recall anything favorable about Callahan or the athletic director who hired him, Steve Pederson.  Pederson was quickly welcomed back to Pittsburgh as athletic director and Callahan became offensive line coach for the New York Jets, who surprised the so-called experts by coming within one victory of playing in the Super Bowl.)

Another World-Herald columnist—this one a sports columnist—wrote a recent piece asserting that Iowa Hawkeye football coach Kirk Ferentz doesn’t get the credit he deserves but certainly does deserve the salary he receives, despite some criticism to the effect that he is overpaid.  The columnist didn’t say how much Ferentz is paid.

So our “In-Depth Research Department” (my administrative assistant Jackie Wrieth) reports to you that Ferentz’s salary is $3.02 million a year.

His contract was extended recently, the only change being to provide access to a private plane for up to 35 hours of personal use each year.  An ESPN columnist said this would normally cost as much as $85,000 (about $2,400 an hour), all of which would come from contributions from Iowa football boosters.

(A friend of mine well familiar with the rates charged for jet rental tells me that the normal rate for travel in a rental jet is a good deal more than $2,400 an hour.)

Still on the subject of sports commentary.  The selection of Turner Gill, former star Cornhusker quarterback and assistant Husker coach, was greeted enthusiastically by Husker fans including a columnist who said Gill’s selection poses a “tough” problem for Husker fans, implying that it could influence fans when the Huskers play the Kansas Jayhawks.

I think a more realistic view would be that Husker fans will wish Gill well in every game except when the Huskers play the Jayhawks.

Gill, incidentally, starts at KU with a $2 million annual salary after compiling a 20-wins/30-losses record as head coach at the University of Buffalo. Included was a 5/7 record last year.

* * *

Now I Know Who ‘Doogie Howser’ Was,
Still Puzzled By ‘Raise Arizona’ Headline

Apparently I was being too subtle in my request for reader help in identifying the “Doogie Howser” referred to in a newspaper headline.

I could have found an explanation of Doogie on the Internet.  (You can find out almost anything on the Internet, and some of it is even truthful.)

My implicit point was that newspaper readers shouldn’t be required to go to the internet or any other source to understand a headline.

I was pleased, as an indication of readership interest, by how many people informed me that Doogie Howser was a character in a television series some years back—a 16-year-old medical doctor who, predictably, encountered numerous problems as he practiced among older medical personnel.

Thanks for the numerous readers who enlightened me.  Now how come none of you out there could explain the puzzling “Raise Arizona” headline on a story of Nebraska’s 33-0 Holiday Bowl victory over Arizona?

* * *

Some readers have told me they like a touch of humor—or maybe something about Marian and the dogs—to end the column.

This week’s offering:

# # #

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