Byron McNutt - Vilas County News-Review
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  • I HAD AN interesting discussion with a young friend the other day as we observed a steady flow of people walking past our table at the local diner. That reminded me of an old essay tucked away in my files.
    A majority of the people were
  • THERE WAS A time not too long ago when Americans looked at themselves and the nation they had built with immense pride. Ask people all around the world where they would choose to live and a big majority would say America. No doubt about it.
    What happened? Look around and a big segment of the population is demanding that
  • LET’S SAY YOU are the human resource manager for a company and you are tasked with hiring several hundred, maybe even several thousand, new teammates to help build a growing organization. You can offer an excellent compensation package and the current workforce seems to love
  • PEOPLE ALL AROUND the world and all nationalities are united in their fascination with gadgets. We’re always looking for the next labor-saving widget, gizmo or doodad. A gadget is a small mechanical or electric device or tool, especially an ingenious or novel one with a practical use.
    What would you consider the No. 1 gadget that
  • SUPPOSE CONGRESS WANTED to seize the moment and make real progress on police reform. No one should think federal reform will end all police abuses. In an act of bipartisan failure, Republican and Democrat leaders have decided to kick the can down the road for political purposes.
    The Democrats call their bill the
  • INDEPENDENCE DAY, COMMONLY known as the Fourth of July, commemorates the passage of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress July 4, 1776. That was 244 years ago, this Saturday.
    This weekend reminds us that
  • WHAT WILL TOMORROW be like? Today’s innovators and dreamers think there is nothing we can’t do. There are no insurmountable obstacles. We just have to be creative and figure out a way to do the impossible.
    Today, we’re waiting breathlessly for
  • FOR THOUSANDS OF years, history has documented remarkable feats of building and manufacturing genius by engineers and architects. Ancient civilizations built memorials to empires. They knew no boundaries. They built mega structures and fortresses.
    We are constantly asking “How
  • MILLIONS OF PEOPLE have succumbed to the temptation to submit swabs to AncestryDNA®, 23andMe or MyHeritage™ expecting to discover a distant connection to royalty or celebrity. Some just wanted to fill in a few holes in their family’s tree.
    But what if the kit results reveal secrets that affect not just your own family, but
  • VOLTAIRE WARNED US in 1764 when he said “In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.”
    We will be heading to the polls in about five months to
  • DURING THESE PERPLEXING times, we have to wonder where our moral compass is. While tens of millions of people have stepped up when the country has needed them, there also have been millions of people who have succumbed to the temptation to game the system. Who can turn down
  • AS TENS OF millions of Americans prepare to commemorate another Memorial Day this weekend, it struck me that very few of them have any idea what it truly means to go to war.
    Most people know nothing of the separation, loss or
  • THERE IS SOMETHING deeply wrong in America when successful entrepreneurs have to apologize for creating new companies that employ thousands of people. The imperfect need becomes the enemy of the good.
    What we are learning during this crisis tells us
  • WITH FOOD SHELVES stocked at millions of locations, how is the ability to put food on the family table something tens of millions of Americans struggle with on a daily basis? Clearly, it is not a supply problem.
    I’ve been thinking a lot about the topics of
  • AS AMERICA DEBATES a return to work, we need to balance the benefits of restarting the economy too soon with precarious concerns about public health. Which is worse: disease or economic devastation.
    In these stressful times, it is comforting to realize that
  • PARAPHRASING A PASSAGE from Martin Luther King Jr. “I am coming to the conclusion that the people of ill will in our society are making a much better use of time than the people of good will and I fear that we should have regret, not just for the vitriolic words and deeds of bad people, but for the appalling silence from
  • THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC has now affected more than 180 countries worldwide. It has been like taking a sledgehammer to the economy. Some economists wonder if we are prepared for a temporary collapse of economies. For the near term, it’s like the world is on fire. It could take time to recover.
    Opening the economy back up must be
  • “IT IS NOT the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again because
  • 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