Understanding Illinois: Lincoln Embroiled in Ill. Politics, Again

NowlanJuly 16, 2014

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) is a popular tourist attraction in Springfield, with nearly four million visitors going through the turnstiles since its opening less than a decade ago.

The Trip Advisor website notes that nearly 1,300 of 1,400 reviews of the attraction give it the top, “excellent” rating, which is a resounding testimonial. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Ill. Leans Democratic but Still Competitive

July 9, 2014

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

“Illinois is still a competitive state that leans Democratic in statewide elections,” declares John Jackson, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University, based on a statewide survey he conducted recently.

Jackson says the national perception that Illinois is a deep blue (strongly Democratic) state is belied by the fact that Republicans hold a U.S. Senate seat and two statewide offices (treasurer and comptroller). Read More

What’s The Market Doing?

Bill Bailey, WIUJuly 9, 2014

by William C. Bailey

School of Agriculture
Western Illinois University

If you are around people involved in agriculture, the question “What’s the market doing?” will eventually come up. While there may be variations – “How’s the market?” or “Anything going on in the markets?” the question is really about is price. Prices for corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, and other commodities of interest to the questioner- and the question is about what those prices are doing. For people involved in agriculture, markets mean price and price is central to agriculture.

Let’s take a look at two markets – soybeans and cattle to answer the question “What’s the market doing?” First, soybeans. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Tea Party Percolates in Princeton

NowlanJuly 2, 2014

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

In the wake of the recent stunning defeat of U.S. House leader Eric Cantor by an anti-Establishment conservative, interest in the Tea Party has been revived.

I report here on my recent visit with a small, amiable yet determined group of Tea Party activists in Princeton, Illinois, one of about 70 such local groups in the state. I promised to let them define themselves, without my editorial observations. Read More

Seeing the Fruits of Labor Pay off in July

KimForColumnJuly 2, 2014

by Kim Ridel
Master Gardner Columnist

I spent a week back west with my family this past week and it was a wonderful get-a-way. On my first day there, we visited a public garden in downtown Las Vegas and within minutes I could feel my fingers, hands, and arms swelling. I couldn’t believe what my body was doing to me—I just kept thinking, “I’m a gardener, I can’t be allergic to this place!” I never did find out what my body was reacting to, though the swelling went down within a few hours after leaving the garden. Maybe it wasn’t the plants…perhaps I’m just allergic to Vegas.

I have enjoyed this past month with lots of strawberries, and I am now picking lots of raspberries and blackberries.  Read More

Understanding Illinois: Eliminate Pensions for Elected Officials

NowlanJune 25, 2014

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

A recent Gallup poll found that a smaller percentage of Illinois residents have trust in their state government than in any other state.

Only 28 percent of Illinois residents evinced “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in their state government. Rhode Island was next lowest at 40 percent and in several states such as North Dakota and Wyoming three quarters of responded had trust in their governments.

Gallup cited corruption in the state as a factor in this lack of trust. Read More

It’s Just Golden…Peer Pressure: A Human Quandary

Golden Column PhotoJune 25, 2014

by John Golden
NP Columnist

I can remember back when I was a young student in school, the teachers would often warn us of how dangerous and powerful peer pressure could be. I also remember how we were told that one day our friends would possibly try and push us into situations while repeating cliché phrases like “everybody is doing it” or “don’t be lame”. In every explanation, we were told that it would inevitably be another misguided sole pushing us down rocky paths.

There is no doubt that there have been certain moments scattered throughout my lifetime when I felt undeniable pressure to do something I knew was not smart or safe. But now, when I think back and reevaluate those same moments, I wonder how much of the pressure had come from other people and how much had actually come from the voice inside my own head.  Read More

Trust Me – It’s Organic

Bill Bailey, WIUJune 25, 2014

by William C Bailey
School of Agriculture Western Illinois University

Labels are important – not just for clothing – but also for music, electronic gear and literature. Labels also are import for the food and agriculture industries. Over the past 20 years, consumer spending on organic products has grown from $1 billion a year to almost $30 billion. So it is safe to assume the organic label is important to many consumers. Read More

From Big Screen To Computer Screen

By Gerald Tilley
Social Security District Manager in Decatur

It’s summertime, and that means it’s time for popcorn, snacks, and blockbuster movies on the silver screen. Have you noticed that many of the heroes in theaters this year seem to be of a certain age? In fact, some of them are old enough they could easily be getting Social Security retirement benefits even as they continue to work—saving the world or otherwise.

Read More

New Ideas About Food

Bill Bailey, WIUby William C Bailey
School of Agriculture Western Illinois University

An interesting confluence of events could affect your pocketbook the next time you go shopping. Because of strong international demand for dairy products, butter prices are near record levels with the retail price of butter nearly 50% higher than last year at this time. A similar situation holds for beef. Prices are near record levels, with rib eye prices nearly 10% higher than last year and hamburger prices almost 50% higher. And, as the beef industry attempts to re-build the national herd from its smallest size in 60 years, beef prices are expected to continue moving up. Further, a new twist has recently been added which turns a lot of our thinking about eating red meat and dairy products on its head, potentially increasing demand just as prices are near record levels.  Read More