The Front Blog

Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Author Archive

Now We’re Abstract

leave a comment »

By John Dillon

To be sure, this piece is about a speech given on Friday the 13th of August by Murray State University President Randy Dunn and this writing is not intended to criticize President Dunn’s speech, but simply to note how ethereal a presence this communication was. To me, anyway. So it’s a bit narrow in focus toward the MSU community. Readers be warned…

I understand the specifics of tight budget years; yes, we can expect little in the way of pay raises for university employees; also, the tough mandate to increase student enrollment and retention at each of the Commonwealth’s higher education sites.

But the president’s message was essentially an enigma — allegorically hung in the air before us. There could be no specific answers to many of the rhetorical questions posed.

Ever been faced with a DETOUR sign that takes you to a mere patch of grass? Nice grass. But as Curly the Stooge used to say, “What do we do now?”

As to the answers: We must reinvent what we do. It will be exciting. But what must we do? Boxed in by financial and demographic realities, perhaps it is a conundrum — a riddle having only a conjectural answer.

I will argue that President Dunn showed high acumen in delivering these thoughts. Well stitched together, mediated by his statesman approach.  That’s what troubles me. And that’s why we in the university community really need to ponder the next few years.  They will likely arrive helter-skelter in spite of even our best efforts to control them.

In the words of older man Abe Simpson“I used to be with it. But then they changed what IT was. Now what I’m with isn’t IT anymore, and it’s scary and weird. It’ll happen to you.”

Written by JD

August 13, 2010 at 4:59 pm

The Gun Made Me Do It

leave a comment »

John Dillon

Seems the time is right for discussion of the right to bear arms.

It is summertime, after all.

WKMS munitions specialist Chris Taylor is on his second Front Page story in two weeks about firearms, and we have a listed posting about Armed Insurrectionbased upon various comments transmitted via NPR.

As CBS Commentator Andy Rooney would say, “YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE?” Well, it’s the term “gun violence,” as in “four people died in gun violence over the weekend in some town.”

This would imply that the gun has free will; stood up on its own little grip; and aimed and killed people all on its own.  No human provocation or responsibility involved.

Well, if anything can be recommended, it’s to disconnect the firearms from the violence. We are living in a time of anger and hostility — middle fingers thrust high in the air and disrespect for our fellow humans everywhere.

Incivility has hit its high for my lifetime, I attest.

And fear.  Everybody is scared about losing their job or getting ripped off on the Internet, or date-raped. We within culture do not trust each other very much.

Just keep the guns holstered meanwhile. True, some agitated or criminally minded people seek to use them. Also true is that some lawfully-minded people seek protection through them, but given fundamental firearms training, that is their privilege.

MAKE YOU A DEAL: You don’t blame the guns and I won’t blame the multitude of social sins that lead people to misuse them.  Poverty of spirit and usually opportunity.  Neglect of children, which leads to abusive adults.

My gosh! I said it again! “Guns don’t kill people — people kill people.”

Written by JD

July 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm

We Continue to Defile Our Host

leave a comment »

There’s an old expression:
“Don’t excrete where you eat.”

John Dillon

Okay, not rosy imagery. But I am reminded by this week’s audio Front Page that humans continue to make a mess of the planet that hosts them.

Jacque E. Day’s report on pollution of the Ohio river shows this is a widespread and historically entrenched problem. Got some animal or human waste? There’s always a waterway nearby! Then a story about the timber of the Southeastern U.S., somewhat uplifting were it not for the constant drumbeat by real estate developers to hack the land for a buck.

And tie that into the negligence of British Petroleum in the Gulf and we have an argument that humans continue to be poor stewards of the Earth.

Hardly a novel proposition, but one that may wind up killing future generations and making us sick here in the 21st Century. Ever wonder how many cancers and odd diseases are rooted in pollution of our host?

There are obvious answers — we would just prefer not to think about them. Please: Think, as the Front Page has encouraged us to do.

Written by JD

July 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Opinion

Tagged with

Recession Over? When We Smile Again.

leave a comment »

– John Dillon

A recent issue of the AARP Bulletin (er, yes, that’s for older folks) asked a question of dozens of influential Americans: “When will you know the national recession is over?”

Some inventive responses. “When I can sell my house for what it is worth”; “When I get less than 75 applications for every job we advertise”; “When ads for cars on TV exceed the number of ads for anti-depressant meds”; and some other insightful thoughts.

To me, the striking point was this: “The recession will be over when people smile again — there is a lot of desperation out there.”

This is a national keynote and a local one.  In our day-to-day life, people have become sour, difficult, easy to anger, and in many cases, downright anti-humanitarian. Can we remember that the root of “civilization” is to be civil — if not polite?

Drivers are teed off. Golfers are teed off. Store clerks do what they have to, but some are downright sterile in their dealings with customers.  Help thy neighbor?  Take a cup of sugar and shove it.

“It’s a dog-eat-dog world!” might be the mantra. Except… humans are not canines.

Here’s to a return to smiles. Drown your fears in hope and see what happens.

Written by JD

May 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Posted in Opinion

Not Deadlock, But Deceased Courage

with one comment

– John Dillon

The media of Kentucky are abuzz about how the state legislature “failed” to come up with a budget in their allotted time-frame. Now we’re looking at a taxpayer-funded Special Session to patch what the little boys and girls could not achieve during their assigned interval in Frankfort.

[Keep in mind that passage of a Commonwealth budget is a prime responsibility of the elected legislature.]

Well, we hear that “compromises could not be reached”; that factions or individuals among our representatives foiled common sense; and that — bottom line — nobody is responsible.

Everybody is responsible?  Say, that sounds good!

If everybody messed up, NOBODY messed up!

Budget passage with the economic restraints facing Kentucky right now requires two things: 1) Intelligent thought and compromise; and 2) The will and fortitude to legislate measures that may be very unpopular at home.

It seems the boys and girls are more willing to have the governor willy-nilly take apart a sensible existing funding structure (emergency budget priorities) than to make difficult decisions on these real issues.

Out with the bums? No, more bums will follow — until the call of public service rings true to those of elective office. Some interests will be injured, but that’s how the table is always set.


Written by JD

May 1, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Opinion

Tagged with

Motives of Militias

leave a comment »

– John Dillon

The recent Front Page story by Chad Lampe concerning militia groups in Kentucky leaves us all with something to think about.  His interview with a Commonwealth Homeland Security expert concerning potential threats posed by these homestyle groups helped to underscore that nearly a dozen such groups are being evaluated on the basis of their activities and motives.

As someone who once was approached to become a member of a “militia,” I would like to make clear the notion that most of these guys (a few women, yes) have not traditionally become domestic terrorists.  Their motives are sometimes to play army in camouflage and behave as survivalists; sometimes they seek the unity of a command structure — often imitating military tradition — as a means of belonging; and many times the undergirding is starkly philosophical:

Militia members want government reduced in their lives. There is a rich strain of Populism and self-governance evident in many militia ideologies.  In short, they want government off their backs — many believe that federal and state authorities have turned the tables on the U.S. Constitution and The Declaration of Independence by making a mockery of “government for the people, by the people….”

It so happens that the current Washington political scene aggravates the distrust in federal government.  There are so many laws, regulations and restrictions placed by government that — some say — ours has become an authoritarian society.

And so, militia members may grasp a firearm and take an oath against what they see as emerging tyranny.  (After all, history CAN repeat itself, as with King George III and the push toward the American Revolution).

So, I don’t think it wise to demonize militia groups as a whole, because I understand a prevailing dogma within them.  Still, violence would predict a bitter end to the civilization we have known in the United States.

Thanks, Chad, for the thoughtful story.  It’s something we should keep an eye on but not summarily condemn.

Written by JD

April 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The California Cannabis Experiment

with one comment

— John Dillon

As you may have heard on NPR or in other news venues, the people of California will be faced with a ballot referendum later this year on whether to legalize sale of marijuana for purely recreational purposes.

The state already has its share of “medical cannabis” suppliers and users.

Why legalize Mother Nature? TAX REVENUE.

California is broke, and this really boils down to a “Cannabis Tax Reform Issue.” Sell the stuff and tax the heck out of it. Individuals could purchase up to one ounce at a time, although it should not be consumed in public places.

The initiative is polling well so far. It stands a fair chance of passage, and could raise tens of millions of dollars a year to help keep schools open, pave roads and pay for essential services.

And here we are in the mid-South, also struggling with budget issues. Alas, more than half of the counties in the Commonwealth of Kentucky have yet to lift alcohol Prohibition.

Oh, well. It will be interesting to see if California does pass this measure; whether it will benefit the public overall; and if new waves of surfer dudes will turn to paying their taxes for weed and then eat Doritos by the bagful on the couch.


Written by JD

March 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized