Notes from the Front Lines

We’ve decided that this can be an irregular category of observations that aren’t important enough to be windy about, but pique our interest.
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Missouri’s new minimum wage went into effect with the start of the new year. It’s a ten cent increase, the smallest increase among the ten states that hiked minimum wages with the beginning of 2013.

When Missourinet news director Bob Priddy drew his first paycheck as a working journalist, he was paid ten cents an hour more than the national minimum wage by editor Harry Stonecipher at the Arcola (Ill.) Record-Herald.  In 2012, that hourly wage would be worth $9.62.  That’s $2.37 more than today’s federal minimum wage.  And it’s $2.27 more than Missouri’s new minimum wage.  That extra ten cents way back then is the equivalent of 77 cents today.

We used one of several inflation calculation websites to get those numbers. Other sites might vary slightly.  We’re sure the numbers we have just played with mean something but finer minds than ours can divine that meaning.  But, boy, what we could have done with $9.62 an hour back then.  We doubt that Harry made that much.

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A good friend sent us an internet Christmas card showing a flash mob singing Christmas carols in a Cleveland mall.  We’ve seen videos of flash mobs doing all kinds of musical things and they’re fascinating–although we wonder why the crowds didn’t get suspicious when they saw all these people going around with video cameras ready to shoot something.  But then we had another thought:  Why do they call them “flash mobs” when nobody is wearing trench coats and, uh, flashing?
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Got a news release the other day from the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources. Back in the days of our college of education it was just the College of Agriculture.  Just about every time we see “College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, we think for some strange reason of an old Bob Newhart standup routine in which he takes a trip on the Mrs. Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Company.
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Somebody mentioned a few days ago that the National Hockey League hadn’t played any games this year. So what?  One person in our newsroom who has noticed the absence of the NHL. Our sports director, Bill Pollack, is a Chicago native who misses his Blackhawks.  A friend thinks she knows three more people who miss it.  One of the folks on the Brownfield Network has indicated he cares.  We suspect a search of the rest of the top floor of the Learfield World Headquarters might find the same number of people as are on a hockey team who feel a void in their lives.  Learfield Sports, downstairs, is inhabited by atypical people, some of whom help broadcast college hockey games. Some of them might miss the NHL.

About a year ago the Harris polling company was doing a survey that reported hockey  ranked 7th among Americans’ favorite sports,  Pro football has roared past baseball as the national past time 36%-13%.  College football ties baseball in the hearts and minds of American fans who care about sports. Auto racing, pro basketball and college basketball all rank ahead of hockey.  Hockey is, however, more than twice as popular as men’s tennis, boxing, horse racing, swimming, and men’s golf. But the top six have 80% of the popularity. People shouldn’t still be playing games on ice in June anyway.

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The renewed talk about banning certain kinds of weapons recalls to mind Senator Dick Webster, back in the day when there was talk of banning “Saturday Night Specials,” the cheap handguns that were used in many robberies.  He suggested banning “Sunday morning Specials,” which he said were hammers that caused too many mashed fingers of people who stayed at home to build things instead of going to church.
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And speaking of things to be banned;  cell phones.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an article a few days ago about the problems caused when people took cell phones into courtrooms and started photographing participants in trials and posting the pictures on public media such as Facebook.   Frankly, a good case can be made to ban them everywhere. They disrupt our justice system.  They cause traffic crashes.  They distract students from their school work. They interrupt sermons. They cause people who should not be dashing anywhere to suddenly jump out of their chairs and bolt out the door when their pockets vibrate or their purses start singing. They allow adults to shout insults to each other on streets crowded by innocent bystanders.  They facilitate drug dealing.  They let lobbyists text their wishes/demands to Missouri lawmakers during debates and votes. And worst of all, they encourage insipid conversations after airplanes land. We got along perfectly well without the darned things for most of this country’s history.  And have you noticed that our national debt has increased every time some new capability is added to them?  The first I-Phone was released on June 29, 2007 and look what happened to our economy after that.
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