A Very Special Book Deal

I start today with a special message on behalf of a special friend who has created a book of special interest to golfers and others who are simply interested in splendid photography.

His friends in Omaha know that Pat Drickey has, for some years, used his remarkable skills to create some striking photographs taken on famous golf courses here and abroad.  His latest work is, I believe, his best—“Green Glory,” photographs and a few paintings from the “Big IV” major golf tour venues.

A 250-page book which includes an introduction by Jack Nicklaus and brief histories of the “Big IV” annual major tournaments, with notes about the courses and tournaments.

Drickey will be at the Bookworm in Countryside Village, 87 & Pacific streets, this Saturday afternoon from 1 to 5 to offer “Green Glory” books with a personalized inscription for the purchaser.  Price, $75.  Uninscribed books are $55.

I have a copy of “Green Glory,” and it has a special place in my library. 

* * *

Wake Up Washington And News Media;
Gun Buy Curbs Won’t Curb Killings

There is one thing that even President Obama should understand as a result of the Patriots’ Day bomb explosions in Boston which killed three people quickly and wounded more than 170, some of them critically:

Federal legislation providing for more careful background checks of prospective purchasers of firearms, although obviously desirable, would offer little or no protection against the use of lethal weapons—guns, knives, explosives, whatever—to kill or injure unsuspecting victims as in the Boston bombings.

I wonder if the president was really so ill-informed about the nature of the 27 killings in Newtown, Connecticut that it made any kind of sense for him to get tears in his eyes as he spoke of new gun-purchase background character scrutiny legislation as necessary to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

The automatic weapon used in the Newton killings had been quite legally purchased by a mother who engaged in rifle target practice with her son, who used the rifle to kill his mother and his 26 other victims.

But President Obama loaded 11 of the grieving parents into Air Force One, took them to Washington and turned them loose on lobbying senators on the basis of pure emotion, arguing for tougher background checks of gun purchasers (which simply would not have prevented the tragic killing of their children).

Politicians, Media Ignore Contrary Evidence

This charade has gone on for weeks, during a period when a young psychopath went on a stabbing spree that left at least 14 people wounded.

And during a period when the Associated Press reported that psychiatrists who had treated a young patient had told campus police, a month before the Colorado theater attack, that James Holmes had homicidal thoughts and was a danger to the public.

A little more than a month later, Holmes launched an attack in a Colorado theater that killed 12 people and injured 70.

It would be useful for the president, Congress and the grieving parents of Newtown to acknowledge that the threat of unprovoked violent deaths, one at a time or 27 at a time, is most likely to come from (1) psychotic individuals who should be identified and treated or confined much more consistently or (2) terrorists whose killings are no less alarming if they are followed by assurances, from the president on down, that expanded security measures are in place and that the perpetrators of the violence will be brought to justice.

New Laws Won’t Touch Multitude Of Weapons

The effort to assure better, more comprehensive background character checks of gun purchasers ignores the fact that there are uncounted thousands—I would guess that the figure might well be in the millions—of guns already in the possession of owners.  The very great majority are responsible gun owners who keep their weapons locked up when not in use and no threat at all to use them for violence.

But an unknown percentage of weapons are already in possession of people quite willing to put them in violent use—consider the shootings in North Omaha—or holdups or other illegal use.

Some “better-background-checks” advocates—including editorial writers—still clung to that unrealistic position after the bloody evidence in Boston showed that background checks of gun buyers will do little or nothing to curb the killing or injuring of innocent Americans by guns or knives or bombs or any other lethal weapon in the hands of psychotics or terrorists who have access to a variety of weapons acquired without background checks as to their character.

* * *

‘Buckling Up’ Would Save More Lives
Than The Tightening Of Gun Purchases

Tragic as are the deaths caused by the illegal use of weapons, as I see it, a relatively small percentage of them can be avoided by action on the part of the victims.

But a very high percentage of vehicle deaths and/or serious injuries could be avoided if the victim had been using his or her seat belt.

I believe in strict enforcement of laws that drivers and passengers should be ticketed and fined if police surveillance reveals the fact that they are not using seat belts.

But an even more effective encouragement of the use of seat belts would, I believe, include the following elements:

–Very intensive educational campaign, with the news media entering in very heavily, citing expert opinion and statistics which demonstrate the difference between deaths and injuries in accidents where seat belts were not in use and those in which all seat belts were in use.

–An auto industry-wide program making the lock-up devices for seat belts much more easily accessible for the driver and passengers.  In too many cars, you have to be something of a contortionist to get the seat belt locked in place, particularly if you’re wearing a reasonably heavy outer garment.

Finally, and importantly, the news media should make it standard policy to report, in the first two or three paragraphs of the story, whether or not the victims were wearing seat belts in the case of auto crash fatalities.

* * *

U of N Engineering, Education System
‘Ain’t Broke,’ Doesn’t Need Fixing

A time-worn controversy—should the University of Nebraska at Omaha have its own College of Engineering?—has surfaced again—unfortunately, as I see it.

The pattern of developing simply splendid engineering education facilities on the University of Omaha campus with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering in charge of the offering of engineering education on that campus has worked very well.

Enrollment of engineering students on the UNO campus has more than doubled, but a recent personnel decision affecting a member of the Omaha-based engineering faculty has displeased a relatively few Omahans.

Now we see an effort, involving long-retired former UNO Chancellor Del Weber and some others, to split the administration of the College of Engineering away from the Lincoln campus and create a separate College of Engineering on the UNO campus.

The “give us our own College of Engineering” forces are saying that Dennis Smith, during his 1994-2004 tenure as president of the university system, made a commitment to the establishment of an independent College of Engineering on the  UNO campus if engineering student enrollment there increased to a given level.

I’m told the facts are that Smith only committed to consider the separate-college possibility.

Controversy Given Time to Cool Off

J. B. Milliken, president of the university system, and the Board of Regents have wisely decided to let the issue cool off (at least they hope it will cool off) and take no action at this time.

But it seems to me that when the issue is revisited, the answer should clearly be to continue the Lincoln-based overall responsibility for administering engineering instruction on both campuses—a policy which has worked very well and is supported by the generous Omahans who have provided simply splendid teaching and research facilities in support of the engineering program as taught on the UNO campus.

It seems to me to be an excellent example of the wisdom in the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I commend the University of Nebraska at Omaha for the growth it is showing in significant programs, but I hope that UNO officials will avoid the impression that they’re trying to build a second flagship university 55 miles down the highway from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

* * *

The Masters:  Good Golf, Good Sportsmanship;
Let’s Bench Those Halftime Television Interviews

A couple of items from the sporting world:

–Peering into a sports columnist’s cloudy crystal ball:

Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel wrote on April 9:  “The list of the top five contenders for the Masters this week are all named Tiger Woods.”

Woods finished tied for fourth and fifth with a very respectable 5 under par 284, four strokes, including two penalty strokes, behind the winner, Adam Scott of Australia.

There was some of speculation that Woods was rattled by the two-stroke penalty for an inadvertent violation of the rules.  However, he very calmly accepted the penalty as justified, said he made a mistake, and shot a final round 70.

Australian Scott and Argentinian Angel Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion, tied at 9 under after 72 holes, with Scott sinking a 12-footer birdie putt on the second extra hole after Cabrera’s birdie attempt had stopped on the very left edge of the cup.

The Australian and the Argentinian, under an umbrella in the driving rain, embraced in a touching display of golfing sportsmanship and mutual respect.

–I don’t know why I didn’t get around sooner to reporting my utter disgust with the female TV sports personalities, most frequently seen at halftime, asking inane questions of football or basketball coaches whose teams are trailing at halftime.

The typical episode has the TV personality holding a microphone up to the coach whose team is trailing at halftime and asking such a question as, “What do you plan to do differently in the second half, coach?”

A typical answer could be summarized this:  “Play better.”  Then the coach typically hurries off to the locker room.  Some interview.

* * *

A Winning Nebraska Cornhusker Team:
Two Pals, Jack Hoffman, Rex Burkhead

An upbeat ending is easy to come by, and you don’t have to be a Cornhusker football fan to appreciate it, even if it does involve the Cornhuskers.

I’m referring to that heartwarming story of seven-year-old Jack Hoffman and his televised 69-yard “touchdown run” during the 4th quarter of Nebraska Cornhusker Red vs. White football game.

Jack Hoffman suffers from pediatric brain cancer.  His case came to the attention of Cornhusker running back Rex Burkhead, one of the best runners and finest young man to ever play for the Huskers.

Burkhead befriended young Jack and could be seen on the Memorial Stadium turf from time to time passing the football back and forth with his young friend.

But on Spring Game day, the whole Husker team adopted young Jack Hoffman and cheered as, dressed in an authentic, child-sized version of a Husker uniform with Burkhead’s number 22 on the back, young Jack Hoffman ran for a 69-yard “touchdown” and was mobbed in the end zone by Husker players.

A good many thrilling and fan-satisfying plays have occurred on Memorial Stadium turf, but none more heartwarming, I would think, than young Jack Hoffman’s 69-yard-touchdown run.

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