Byron McNutt - Vilas County News-Review
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  • SQUARE; IT’S ANOTHER of those good old words that has gone the way of love, modesty and patriotism. Why is it something to be snickered over or outright laughed at?
    Some of our readers will
  • AS WE CONFRONT the deadly COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, there is an overall sense of fear and panic. It is truly a historic time in our lives. It also is a time for unity. We must come together to defeat this health crisis.
    In these trying times, we
  • WHY IS IT some people believe the only fair court is a liberal court? They seem to say it is impossible to have a fair court when the judges are perceived to be conservative. Aren’t courts supposed to be balanced and represent all people?
    The appointment of federal judges has come to be viewed as
  • BOOMING ECONOMIES USUALLY help annual federal deficits shrink, but instead, the Donald Trump administration and Congress have overseen a huge increase in deficits plus a significant hike in the federal debt load, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
    During this election year, this should be
  • SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, senior U.S. intelligence officials repeated a warning that Russia wants to sow discord in the American electorate to benefit the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The officials admitted they had no solid proof, but they were certain it is happening.
    At the same time, it was reported in the national media that
  • SPORTSMANSHIP IS NOT an element of fair play confined to contemporary sports. In recent years, being a good sport has been missing in everything we do. We accept nothing less than outright victory.
    Sportsmanship matters because without it, sports and human interaction are
  • RAHM EMANUEL SAID “For the life of me, I cannot understand why our Democrat presidential candidates are failing to heed the lessons from 2018 and ’19 victories.”
    Emanuel is a former mayor of
  • IT MAY BE a little early for cabin fever; that disease of the “home all day” type that is alleviated only a little bit by the knowledge that the second wave of seed catalog mailings should begin anytime now.
    But just in case it sets in, here are
  • WE ALL RECOGNIZE THAT the facts about mass shootings in America are undeniable. Glennon Doyle has listened to experts in many fields struggle to come up with ways to identify potential school shooters in the future. She has taken the issue a step further. She wants to find ways to help those 
  • IT WAS NOT too long ago when reasonable people could agree to disagree without it turning hostile. That was a time when people talked face to face. A recent survey discovered that 69% of respondents blame social media and the internet for the current state of divisiveness.
    Technology has made it possible to
  • DO YOU REALIZE that many of our fellow citizens rarely, if ever, have a need to go into a bank or post office anymore? It’s a sign of the changing times that is confounding the generations; just one of the reasons there are divisions among the population.
    I read an article recently that said
  • BACK IN OCTOBER, THE National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.
    As usual, the devil is in the details. Allowing amateur athletes to be paid has been
  • HERE IS AN inspirational quote from Ralph Emerson for the new year. “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.”
    Did you make any resolutions for 2020? Many people
  • AS YOU MAKE YOUR resolutions for the new year, keep in mind optimists, on average, live longer than pessimists, according to a study published recently by the Mayo Clinic.
    The research suggested optimism can
  • WHAT DO YOU THINK when someone asks “Do you believe in Santa Claus?” 
    That reminds me of the essay written by the late Sam Campbell and sent to me by Doris Goldsworthy of Three Lakes more than a decade ago.
    Campbell was a
  • IT’S THE HOLIDAY SEASON. Along with the joy and anticipation comes a considerable amount of stress and depression for many people. We just don’t have the time and money to do everything we want to do.
    A former colleague of mine was at a seminar about 15 years ago, when the lecturer explained stress management by 
  • PREDICTING RARE EVENTS, be it a plane crash, tsunami, suicide or senseless mass shooting with any degree of reliability is simply not possible, according to James Fox, a professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University.
    Take a few minutes and make a list of
  • DO YOU WORRY THAT your descendants will some day accuse you and your parents (ancestors) of committing crimes against humanity because you shamelessly used fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal with reckless abandon?
    By descendants, I mean your children, their children and their children. I’m talking about your future family members just 25 to
  • AS WE PAUSE THIS week to celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s remember that dreams of the future shouldn’t diminish appreciation for the present. If all you do is concentrate on what you want, you won’t enjoy today. Don’t be jealous of others; what they do or have has no bearing on you.
    If our leaders hold on to the American values of decency, tolerance and gratefulness, it will
  • WHEN HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi said “It’s time for politicians to put the country before their party’s interests,” we are left to wonder if she is preaching to the Republicans, her fellow Democrats or the partisan liberal media. There’s hypocrisy on all sides.
    It’s
  • A HIGHLY RESPECTED PANEL of federal judges met at William and Mary Law School in mid-September to bemoan a partisan political environment that wants to put them on teams or partisan lineups. The panel rejects characterizations as partisan.
    In November 2018, Chief Justice John Roberts said
  • THEY ARE OUR COUNTRY’S unsung heroes. More than 90 million Americans improve the quality of life for loved ones who have chronic conditions, disabilities, disease or the frailties of old age. November is National Family Caregivers Month. This year’s theme is
  • “AS YOUNG PEOPLE make decisions about which jobs to pursue, I always tell them that learning is more important than initial compensation. They can’t afford not to learn.” That advice comes from Hank Paulson, former secretary of the Treasury.
    Beth Ford, Land O’ Lakes CEO, offered this bit of wisdom. “I
  • HERE’S SOME GOOD ADVICE. It does no harm to just once acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames. It wouldn’t hurt people to simply stand up for the country despite our differences.
    Consider the fact there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers and
  • DOROTHY NEVILL ONCE SAID “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
    Author Mark McCormack stressed that powers of observation are critical to
  • THE PRINTED NEWSPAPER IS a life force, the beating heart of a community. It is a warm and comfortable medium, a product able to command and sustain an audience. This week is National Newspaper Week; and I’m here to tell you publishers and editors are working hard to make the changes necessary to earn your
  • A NATIONWIDE USA Today/Suffolk University poll conducted in late August found a sharply divided country that views next year’s presidential campaign as a sobering test of the fundamental values of the United States.
    The poll queried an even number of
  • OVER THE YEARS, I’ve made it clear millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share of income taxes. But I’ve also said we should not demonize all of them, and call them sinister and evil. Success is to be celebrated. Successful people are usually rainmakers for the rest of us.
    They should be held to a high standard, but
  • “I HAVE THE FEELING that the world I’ve known is ending. I have no idea what’s coming next, but on the basis of what we see, it doesn’t look great,” said author Salman Rushdie.
    “We’re in an age of
  • WHAT DO YOU THINK? Are you ready for plant-based burgers, sausages and steaks? Are meatless alternatives truly better for the planet than traditional beef, pork and poultry culinary entrees?
    Two companies, Impossible Foods and
  • WE’RE ALL ENTITLED to express outrage when we see or hear things we don’t like. The question is can we feel outraged too often?
    In our contentious world, it seems we are expected to be outraged about something two or three times a week. I’m thinking that is too much. If we are constantly outraged about
  • LABOR DAY IS A chance to take a break from our routines and honor the contributions of those who have built America into the world’s No. 1 economic power.
    As we relax and reflect, we need to 
  • DEMOCRATS INSIST THEIR primary goals in 2020 are to win control of the U.S. Senate and to make Donald Trump a one-term president. And they are willing to do and say anything they have to to make that happen.
    On the other side, the Republican Party would like to
  • WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS about the statement “The world in which we live equally distributes talent, but does not equally distribute opportunity. Paths are not always the same.” The emphasis was on the first part.
    You may have seen or heard a television commercial recently in which
  • IF THE 2020 presidential election was strictly a referendum on the character, temperament, diplomacy, decency and behavior of Donald Trump, the Democrat candidate, no matter who he or she might be, would have a very good chance of winning.
    But if the Democrat candidate insists on
  • DID YOU EVER IMAGINE there would be a time when people would decide that going shopping would not be a good or preferable way to spend their precious time?
    There are many reasons for
  • WHILE LOOKING UP timely topics for this column each week, I run across many surprising viewpoints and study results that others have seen in their crystal ball. This week, I’ll share a few things that I found especially interesting and insightful.
    For example, crime analysts at
  • IF HUMANS SHOULD have learned anything the past 100 years, we should have learned valuable lessons regarding nutrition and personal finances. The fact is we are barraged with so many mixed messages and tempted with bad choices.
    You would think our ancestors would have
  • WHAT MAKES US so sure autonomous vehicles and robotic delivery carts are safe options for the future? Will those evil cyberhackers and ransomware masterminds suddenly come out of the shadows and have mercy on us?
    More than $100 billion is being invested in 
  • AS MANY HAVE observed, one indicator of what makes a country great is the number of people who want to get in vs. how many want to leave. Some countries have borders to keep people in; others, to keep people out.
    As we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, we should remember that it isn’t
  • DESPITE YEARS OF CONSTANT protests, medicine prices and drugmaker profits continue to soar. Consumers have been complaining about the spiraling prescription drug prices and politicians have promised action, but no progress has been made and they are losing the battle.
    Leigh Purvis, director of health services for
  • AT A TIME when the college student loan debt is approaching $1.6 trillion and roughly 10% of borrowers are defaulting on that debt, Elizabeth Warren, the liberal Democratic senator from Massachusetts, has proposed a plan to forgive much of that debt and make public college free.
    Warren’s plan would actually shift the debt burden to
  • AMERICAN NOVELIST THOMAS PYNCHON once said “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” Might this observation apply to the current field of 2020 presidential candidates?
    The wannabe presidents are
  • I’VE KNOWN A few very cagey farmers in my day. So when a couple of friends sent me the following stories, I knew I wanted to share them with you. It is especially funny when a smart, well-educated city slicker tries to outwit a crafty farmer.
    Scott Soder told the story of
  • IT’S BECOME COMMONPLACE. You’re at a coffee shop or restaurant and four people, they could be friends or a family unit, come in, sit down and prepare to place their orders. What a great opportunity for quality face-to-face bonding, but then, it happens. 
    All four people pull out their
  • AS THIS YEAR’S crop of young people graduate from high school and college, we tell them to remember that they have much going for them. They are not ordinary, average and typical. They are remarkable.
    They’ve got
  • ONE OF OUR biggest problems today is the rancor and triviality of our political debate. Some call it demolition politics. Stop and think about many of the big questions preoccupying the public conversation. Now, ask yourself “Is this really happening?”
    Despite our problems, this is a great country, the envy of billions of people and that’s why
  • RESEARCHERS AT MANY universities around the world have devoted time and resources to answering a question that has mystified tens of millions of Americans: Is my cat ignoring me? The likely answer? Cats know when you’re addressing them; they just may not care.
    Cats and dogs have fundamentally opposite personalities that can naturally lead to different relationships with their humans. Cats are usually more
  • HAVE YOU EVER been made uncomfortable by people who have accused you of benefiting from white privilege, male privilege or being an old white guy? You might as well retreat from that discussion because there is nothing you can say to defend yourself.
    Just what is white privilege? What is male privilege? I went online to research these two topics. I learned that white privilege is
  • RESEARCH COMPANY RAND CORP. recently issued a report that said 42% of Americans have multiple chronic medical conditions. That means they have physical or mental-health conditions such as diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure that lasts over a year and requires ongoing treatment.
    Of Americans, 12% have
  • HOW CONCERNED SHOULD we be about America’s $22 trillion national debt? The Treasury Department tells us that amount is $67,000 for every man, woman and child in this country, and the debt load is only going to escalate.
    President Donald Trump has proposed a 
  • WE SEEM TO be living in a time when people, Republican and Democrat, believe all facets of politics are imperfect. It’s just a fact; the people surveyed don’t expect any higher standard or any better to come of it. Yet, we can’t let our divisiveness threaten democracy.
    Social scientist Arthur Brooks said there is a difference between
  • GROWING UP AND surviving childhood was, at times, difficult to say the least. I know that is not news to many of you. As you now know, we all made it and now we are the “older generation.” Becoming a senior citizen came a lot sooner than we expected.
    There was someone in our circle of friends who would remind us to look forward to old age as not everyone gets there. When you do, you have
  • ARE YOU THE same person you were 25, 35 or 50 years ago? Should you be defined or held accountable for a few actions you may have done when you were a teenager or college student?
    Shouldn’t society be more interested in
  • NATURALIST DAVID ATTENBOROUGH has warned that climate change could lead to a “collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world.”
    Critics of the global warming movement say it would cost
  • DO YOU WONDER why the world seems worse than it is? Well, some say our primitive biases and fears are magnified by online algorithms.
    We have a natural tendency to seek information that confirms our pre-existing views and discount information that doesn’t. That’s called confirmation bias and social media algorithms lump us into
  • I WONDER IF Americans realize how geographically and economically small most of the countries in the rest of the world are. Conversely, many foreigners visiting or attempting to come here illegally have no idea how big America is; or maybe they do.
    We often forget how huge the U.S. economy is compared to
  • TWO DECADES FROM now, no one will remember whatever it is that seems so important to us today. But if we damage our democracy, everyone will remember that it was seriously desecrated between 2010 and ’20 by a partisan political system that was unwilling to legislate in a reasonable, common-sense
  • WHAT IS HAPPENING to our country? If you have asked this question, you are likely not alone. As America has grown more secular and polarized, its moral compass has become harder to tune to a true North, with no particular voice emerging as a moral authority.
    Fifty years ago, polls showed that
  • MODERN PUNDITS LIKE to say that Americans have never shouted louder or listened less. In today’s social media world, too many people have forgotten the lessons they learned as children: prepare with facts, argue vigorously and listen to other voices.
    Isn’t it ironic that people flee heavily-taxed Democratic states like New Jersey, New York, Illinois and California to low-taxed states like
  • IT HAS BEEN widely noted that millions of people spend their waking hours obsessed with global warming, the perils of inequality, the scourge of toxic politics, and where and when Duchess Meghan Markle will have her baby.
    Of less importance is the fact that poverty around the world is
  • ABOUT 35 YEARS AGO, I met and interviewed the honorable Robert Gollmar, who was a lawyer for more than 50 years and a judge for more than 24 years. He was a circuit judge in central Wisconsin and was most remembered because of his participation in the infamous Edward Gein murder trial.
    At the time, Judge Gollmar had just written a book titled
  • WE ARE CONSTANTLY reminded that there is a fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it. With that in mind, you might enjoy this story titled “The Haircut.” It wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t true.
    The theme of this story is
  • A NEW PAPER by researchers at UW-Madison paints a stark picture of climate changes taking place. The study said greenhouse gases are at the highest mark in human history.
    Levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases have surpassed those from any point in human history and by
  • ARE YOU COMFORTABLE riding in an elevator? How about a crowded elevator? Are you claustrophobic? Does it seem like every prime-time TV series about rescue squads features people trapped in an “out of control cage,” putting lives at stake.
    We don’t have very many elevators in rural America that traverse more than four floors, but most of us
  • IN TODAY’S SOCIAL media world, it is all too easy to despise other Americans if you don’t take the time to get to know them. When given a chance, we are likely to get along. It is important to realize that far more unites us than divides us.
    “Most of America regards the nation’s capital as hopelessly dysfunctional, a theater for political combat, where the needs of the people are
  • THERE ARE A number of polls published that show 67% of the country is unhappy with the performance of our government. That indicates that two-thirds of the citizenry isn’t happy and wants things to change.
    It’s been well documented that Americans are divided by
  • THIS IS THE season of dreams and miracles. Each of us has the opportunity to keep the spirit of Christmas alive if we make the effort.
    The year-end holidays are a great opportunity to look back on your life and think about the good old days. Take a few minutes and think back to when you were a child and
  • THE HOLIDAYS,  CHRISTMAS and New Year’s, offer a great opportunity to look back on your life and think about all the good old days, and how we can make the coming days better than ever. Remember, family is a treasure chest worth more than a mountain of gold.
    I recently came across this challenge from Dan Pearce, an artist, author and photographer, from
  • NOW THAT WE’VE had a month to digest the 2018 midterm elections, is it too much to ask our elected officials to focus their energies on the betterment of our state and country, not on their respective political parties. Answer? Probably.
    As concerned Americans, we deserve and we should expect that those leaders pledge to work together for the benefit of
  • HAVE YOU EVER heard someone say they hope to earn and save just enough money during their lifetime to live comfortably to the day they die? Sharing gifts and memories while alive is the best advice.

    Those people are saying they don’t need millions of dollars to be happy, yet they don’t

  • THANKSGIVING IS ONE of Americans’ favorite holidays, 19% compared to 46% for Christmas, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t survived sporadic attacks over the nearly 400 years since the famous three-day feast in Plymouth, Mass.
    The rites and rituals of our national Thanksgiving have evolved over those four centuries and that process will continue, wrote
  • SOME OF THE things we are seeing today on the political scene are not representative of a civilized society. Extremists on both sides are pushing the boundaries past the limits of common sense, challenging the norms of democracy and putting the country in serious jeopardy.
    “Just because something is legal,” wrote
  • SUNDAY, NOV. 11, IS Veterans Day. I’ve heard people say they’d like to honor a veteran, but they aren’t sure if they know a veteran.
    Veterans are our neighbors. They are our teachers, law enforcement officers, the person who helps us at our favorite store, the elder at our church or she could be our coworker’s daughter who just got out of the Navy and now works at
  • HILLARY CLINTON TOLD CNN Oct. 9, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” Was that meant to unite or divide us?
    One has to wonder if
  • AMERICA, THE GREATEST economy in the world, is the incubator for most of the greatest ideas and revolutionary inventions in history. And it may be safe to say “You haven’t seen anything yet,” as a new generation of possibilities promise to disrupt the way we live, work and play.
    The United States has an enormous wealth of
  • IN TODAY’S RAPID-pace world, a desperate, overzealous reporter or a rogue news organization looking to make a name for themselves can disseminate a scandalous story on social media and millions of viewers will rush to judgment.
    We have a flash-mob mentality. It is relatively easy for someone with an ax to grind to wreak havoc on another person or organization. There’s always a
  • A GREAT NEWSPAPER has a critical impact on the community it serves. Your local newspaper gives its readers a voice they otherwise wouldn’t have.
    This week is National Newspaper Week. Working in today’s newspaper industry has its share of ups and downs, but the young professionals working in offices all across the country believe in
  • IS ANYONE FEELING bad about America? Does it seem our best days are behind us? Are you having a hard time making ends meet? Do you have college loan debt? Are you struggling to pay for health care? How about saving for retirement? Are you a victim of gender discrimination or racism?
    How did America get so distracted from its core values? What happened to
  • I THINK EVERY one of us would agree that having a president with a high moral character would be ideal. But history has shown that having that trait hasn’t necessarily equated to having a president that has been successful in keeping his promises and getting things done.
    With at least 200 million adults in America, there
  • THIS COULD HAPPEN. Let’s say you are one of 50 passengers crammed into Delta Flight 5332 from Central Wisconsin Airport to Detroit Metro Airport and 20 of your fellow passengers are traveling with either an emotional support animal or a service animal.
    Sounds like a scene from
  • POST-TRAUMATIC stress disorder (PTSD) isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.
    An estimated 8 million U.S. adults experience PTSD in a given year. Of first responders, 37% have acknowledged contemplating
  • AS THE SUMMER season ends and we head back to a normal routine, I’d like to share an essay passed along to me about 10 years ago by a colleague. The essay is titled “Four Lessons About How We Treat People.” I don’t know the original author.
    Maybe one or more of these lessons will inspire. In the next few months, maybe