Category Archives: History

A Tale of Two Nights

amy button

My button on caucus night.

Are the Iowa Caucuses dead? Their obituary has been written by many media pundits, and maybe they’re right. I’m skeptical—it took way too long to release results, and here, more than 24 hours later, results are still incomplete. But a caucus is not a primary election.

Pete Buttigieg got a boost from Iowa, Joe Biden got a brush-back pitch. Amy Klobuchar is still alive but on the endangered candidate list. Bernie Sanders will claim victory, but is less popular this year than in his last election.

And the disaster that was the Iowa Caucus was an odd surprise after my caucus experience. I checked in at Harding Middle School. The room was not as full as I expected, but several hundred Democrats crowded into what seemed to an arch-shaped cafeteria.

The mood was way more collegial than I had experienced. In 2016, we were packed together like sardines in Peace Church, and the mood was rather acrimonious between Bernie and Hillary—the caucus took hours, the count kept having to be redone, we were exhausted by the end.

In 2008, the energy of Barack Obama infused the event. We trudged across the snow of Noelridge Park to Harding Middle School. The crowd was large and the energy transformative as the majority of us were there for the new rising political star from Illinois. But despite that positive energy in 2008, there was conflict and chaos, too. Clinton did not go quietly into the night.

In 2020, things were different. For one thing, everybody quickly moved into their candidate corners as soon as they came in. There was not really any area at all of uncommitted or undecided voters—people came already knowing who they backed. The old people seemed to cluster in Joe Biden’s corner, a mix of middle aged and younger old people joined with us in Amy Klobuchar’s tables. Our daughter was over with a mix of young and old, overwhelmingly female from what I could see, in the Elizabeth Warren area.


Caucus crowd at Harding Middle School. Joe Biden was not viable, and many of his supporters joined those of us for Amy Klobuchar.

Between our daughter and us, acting as the great wall of people that our 4-year-old grandson was constantly circumventing on his trips between mom and his grandparents, was the mixed, but mostly young, Bernie crowd.

Pete Buttigieg’s crowd was a good size, but was blocked from my view, so I’m not sure what kind of person showed up for Pete in my area. Other than they were the only group to chant now and then, which was mildly irritating, to be honest.

We waited, we chatted. My wife and I were on the edge of the Amy Klobuchar group, partly because our grandson kept coming and going. We were right next to the Biden Senior Center and adjacent to the Bernie Sanders Day Care. I chatted for a while with a gang of 80-year-old ladies who were clustered around a tall, thin retired Coe College librarian. I lent him a pen, which turned out to be a mistake since it came from my daughter’s bag and was one her favorites and disappeared into the night like Tulsi Gabbard.

A 10-month old baby was standing up in in his buggy just across the border in Sandersland. He looked at me. I grinned at him. He smiled and squealed and I chatted amiably with his parents. The retired librarian shot the breeze with me too, as did his geriatric girl squad.

The spirit was collegial. We supported different candidates, but felt united in a cause. I think for most of us in the room, we know who we wanted, but even more strongly, we known who we didn’t want.

Heck, even if the Democrats went ape crazy and for some mad reason nominated Tulsi Gabbard, I would vote for her. Bernie Sanders has had a recent heart attack and is a socialist—which I am not—but I would vote for Bernie. Joe Biden is a decent man who is way too connected to old, corrupt politics and whose best days were years ago—he’s not the kind of person who would make a great president, in my opinion. I’d vote for him, too.

Some of these people I would vote for with more reluctance. Others I would have more enthusiasm for. But none would have to work hard to earn my vote.

Because the alternative is four more y ears of Donald Trump, worst president in American history.

Anyway, the caucus meeting, compared to ones I’d experienced in previous presidential cycles, went smoothly. We got numbered cards to write our preferences on, which created a paper record and eliminated much of the counting chaos of past caucuses.

Our precinct chair was surprised at how Iowa Nice everyone was. “Nobody has yelled at me tonight,” he marveled at one point.

That was Monday evening. Later, the phone app failed, the call-in line was understaffed and the state party melted like a Russian nuclear reactor. Perhaps it is the death of the Iowa Caucuses, but it’s good that my final one, should that happen, was the most pleasant.

Then came Tuesday. I was a good boy, I was, I watched the weird, dystopian proto-fascist game show staged by our President, who is due to be acquitted by the spineless Senate tomorrow. On the eve of being crowned King Trump, I think the president gave a speech that was long, fairly effective politically, and downright scary.

Immigrants are criminals. Here is a man whose brother was shot. Build the wall! Economic numbers that didn’t add up—but the economy is good, just not good in the way that lying Don described it.

A Presidential Medal of Freedom was given. To Rush Limbaugh. Bah, humbug. You don’t give such a medal during this speech, the President gives it in an official White House ceremony, it’s not meant to be a heart-tugging moment in a Trump TV show.

But it was. The Trump wave was launched. The Democratic Party, in Iowa at least, is in shambles.

It would easy to be depressed. But I recall that baby in the Bernie crowd and his friendly parents. I think of my 4-year-old grandson moving from Amyland, through Bidenville, past Sanders Village into the Warren Terrace, wearing his “nevertheless she persisted shirt,” along with both Warren and Klobuchar campaign buttons. Everyone smiled. Everyone was polite. Everyone was doing it for his future.

Because we all agree.

It’s time for Trump to be retired to Mar-A-Lago. Effective game show or not, it’s time for the Trump TV program to be permanently cancelled. We need a president who is a president, not a schlocky TV host.

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Filed under Computers are stupid, History

Amy Asks for Fence-Sitters to Commit


Local TV camera operator at Amy Klobuchar event in Cedar Rapids Jan. 3.

Is Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) surging in Iowa?

I don’t know, although she did well in a recent debate, which helps her. And I saw her in person here today in downtown Cedar Rapids at a campaign rally.


Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, speaks.

Complete sentences. Intelligence. Humor. A comforting Midwestern drawl. She seems such a sharp contrast with the current occupant of the White House. And so, I’m ready to commit. I’ll caucus for Amy Klobuchar at my local party meeting as Iowa again goes first in 2020 in the presidential sweepstakes.

The Iowa caucuses are an interesting institution, and taking part is not like voting in a primary. For one thing, candidate preferences are expressed in an open meeting, not via a private ballot. For another, voting can be in more than one round—in the Democratic party, if a candidate earns less than 15 percent support, her or his supporters can continue participating in the caucus by choosing another candidate.

Given the size of the Democratic field this year, with roughly 300 candidates vying for caucus votes (an exaggeration, I know, but only by a bit), there may be a number of runners-up who don’t meet the 15 percent threshold.

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So even if I start with Amy, I may end up with someone else before the night is over. Still, I am looking forward to the next Iowa caucus. Amy Klobuchar is the candidate I am looking for—a moderate Democrat who has won in Trump country before.

May she win there again, and may she soundly beat Donald Trump in the fall.

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My 2019 Letter to Santa Claus


Santa with marketing crew at MMU at Christmas Club Friday this fall semester. Image by Audrey Sheller.

Dear Santa:

How are you, big guy? Good luck on the deliveries this year. You’ll need to wax the sleigh runners even more this year, there is not a lot of snow to land on these days in our area of the world. Of course, snow is only a 50-50 shot for Christmas in this part of Iowa anyway, but global warming is changing those odds.

For me, asking for a lot of stuff for Christmas makes little sense—my life is brimming with things, and I’m at a time in life when, while I do appreciate a special gift, mostly I don’t have lots of objects to desire.

So, I’m going to go the Amy Grant route and make a more grownup Christmas list.

What would I be asking for if I could ask you, as if you were a magic genie, for anything?

Well, world peace, naturally. Humans have a shocking capacity to tear at each other. Our literature is full of monstrosities that we can fear (if you don’t ever catch Dr. Emily on the PBS Monstrum YouTube channel, check it out), but most of the time, the most fearsome monster that humans face is us. I not only would like us to stop killing each other, but not eliminating other species and trashing the only planet in our neighborhood we can inhabit would be nice, too.

Item one, then, is to achieve world peace partly by humans recognizing the value of the world we have and learning to act together to preserve it.


Volunteer helps to plant a new pollinator garden at Mount Mercy campus in 2019. May there be more of this in 2020.

I would ask for peace at heart, too. For myself, naturally. I do get too stressed at times, and have a natural ability to look at the dark side. When my phone blings with a message tone, I almost always imagine some catastrophe, which the message, thank goodness, almost never is. The imagining is irrational, but that doesn’t make it go away.

Still, I’m blessed, for the most part, with decent mental and physical health. Not everyone I know and love is in a happy zone in their life right now, and I would wish for peace at heart to all my family and friends.


Digging this chick more and more all the time. If the caucus were tonight, I would be standing in the Amy corner. Not a formal endorsement, I am still playing the field, but I”m feeling more like I’m on Team Amy. Image from Wikimedia Commons, a 2019 picture of her by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ.


From The Gazette’s web site, the “Impeached” front page.

I have a few more practical items on my list. We have a president who has been impeached, but the Republican Senate is unlikely to convict and the party of Lincoln can’t seem to free itself from the destructive hypnosis that seems to have descended on it.

I want Trump to not only not be re-elected, but to be soundly trounced. Only a thorough thrashing is likely to help renew our poisoned politics. So, Santa, put a landslide defeat for Tangerine Hitler on my list, please.

Right now, I’m liking Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, so if I get to add more results for the voting in 2020 to my Christmas list, it would be great to have the Senate flipped so that incoming President Klobuchar can look forward to fights within her party rather than being constantly blocked by the GOP.

I have a few smaller-scale items on my list, too. I hope to do better as a professor, to find strategies to communicate with and teach my students to the best of my abilities. I know that their success or failure is not primarily due to anything I do—it’s decisions that these young adults make—but to the extent that I can, I want to be a better role model and mentor to students and help them to decide to succeed. Not sure how to write that on the list, but Santa, I think you get the idea. Or at least I hope I am communicating it clearly enough. Help me get through to my students, but most of all, help me to understand what I’m trying to get through.

I am a biker, and right now the bicycling world in Iowa is riven by civil strife: Iowa Ride v RAGBRAI. I’m on team RAGBRAI in that fight, by the way, and I hope that ride can find a way forward. I also think that it needs reforming, and maybe the current crisis will lead RAGBRAI to be better—but I don’t want it done away with.

So, a successful RAGBRAI 2020 is on my Christmas list.

We welcomed a new grandchild in 2019. I won’t wish for another in 2020 (although I would also be thrilled if it happened)—I think my own children should guide those kinds of big life decisions for themselves—but I hope to see and have fun with all of my grandchildren, somehow, in 2020. Some are at a distance, and how and when I will see them isn’t 100 percent clear, so mark it down, big guy. Joe wants more grandpa time.

Have I been good enough for this list? Hard to say. Unlike President Trump, I can think of things in my life I could do better or should apologize for. And, while many items on my list are beyond my control (world peace), others are more aspirations that I can have an impact on.

So maybe that’s the final item on my Christmas list. A sort of version of the Serenity Prayer. If I can’t change it, help me to deal with it, and if it’s in my power to change, help me do the best I can. And may I and more of us flawed mortal creatures act in 2020 to achieve a place on the “nice” list.


PS: And let’s let Dr. Emily get us into the holiday spirit:

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Filed under Grandchildren, History, holidays, Mount Mercy, politics

Trying to Imagine How Not to Impeach

Week one of the hearings. My take: He’s guilty, my lord.

A quid pro quo is simply a “this for that” agreement. It’s a common aspect of diplomacy and always has been—discussions between governments about what they would give and agree to in exchange for other things that they want.

So, no, trying a quid pro quo with Ukraine is not the problem.

The problem is that President Trump was not using a quid pro quo to advance the national interests of the United States, he was using it in a blatant effort to gain political dirt on a potential presidential rival. The request for an investigation of Hunter Biden was based on mostly discredited fringe conspiracy theories that the president buys into.

Is that an impeachable offense? The Republican defense of his horrible president has evolved to the point where “the phone call” isn’t even all that defended any more—it’s just not bad enough to overturn an election, they say.

OK. I don’t concede that point, but maybe it’s arguable. The president is a giant festering sore on the body politic, but voters knew his lack of character when a minority of them voted for the boil who is the Tangerine Disaster, and we have to live, under the Electoral College, with this nightmarish anomaly of a minority president. Maybe Ukraine needs to teach us some democracy.

But impeach Trump anyway because of how he has responded to the investigation. Before the full House voted to proceed with the impeachment hearings, the presidential line was that House committees could not investigate him.

Yes, they can. They must.

Congress is a separate and equal branch of government. I don’t get how Republicans, who waive the Constitution when it’s convenient, can be at all comfortable with a President who simply rejects cooperating with a congressional inquiry. And the House has voted now, so that argument, which was bogus to begin with, is now moot.

A Republican won’t always be the president. Probably in a bit over a year, President Lizzie or Pete will be in office, and then what? Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress should agree and insist that a White House doesn’t get to dictate what Congress will look into or who in the White House can ignore congressional subpoenas.

I’ve been teaching this week, so I have not watched the hearings wall-to-wall. But I’ve seen enough to be thoroughly disgusted with the House GOP. The witnesses who have testified have been admirable men and women who have given years of dedicated service to our country.

And then there is our Dear Leader, who has acted with such calmness and sanity during this time of crisis.

JK. Trump has predictably gone crazy. Although, to be fair and balanced, he’s kind of a permanent resident of crazy town, so it’s not as if this is anything new.

Consider Friday morning, when the world was hearing from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Yes, Trump could remove her from office. Ambassadors do serve at the pleasure of the president. But it’s also fair for Congress to ask why this ambassador was removed at that time when it fits into the pattern of the President ignoring U.S. national interests (and promoting Russian national interests) when he deals with Ukraine.

And as the former ambassador calmly laid out the facts, the President laid into her, attacking her in a tweet that was both crude and thoughtless. The ambassador served in Somalia after conflict there had broken out—she didn’t break Somalia; she served her country in a hardship post. Trump has no respect for others’ service. More to the point, Trump was attacking a witness while she was testifying not to reveal some counter narrative or provide a defense.

turmp test

He just hits and hits. And his hits are crude, awful in their language and content. In this case, the context of the attack is pretty clearly an effort to intimidate witnesses who dare to testify against Trump. It’s also telling that what set the Trump rhetoric train in motion was a woman’s testimony—there’s something about having a woman criticize him that really gets under Trump’s fake orange skin. It’s not why he’s being impeached, but as an old man, let me say I tire quickly and can’t abide old men who cannot abide women who dare speak.

Ladies, speak up. Some of us guys may have trouble listening. That’s a reason to speak out more, not less.

Trump, when asked about his tweet, gave a very Trumpy response, attacking the whole idea of an impeachment probe, launching into a litany of complaints about how badly Republicans are treated. He’s right on one point, he does have a First Amendment right to spout his brand of crazy. But that does not protect him from consequences of what he says. Clip of the exchange from Friday’s hearing about the tweet, and President Trump speaking with reporters about his tweet, which he claims is not at all intimidating:

And there you have it. A president under impeachment investigation engaging in brazen open attacks on sworn witnesses, exercising his First Amendment right to create a new impeachable offense right in front of us in plain sight.

We’re getting further away from the original plot, which was full of the rotten smell of impeachable offenses. Like the whistle blower, whose identity at this point is irrelevant, even the original charges need updating.

I know that the hearings have just started and we as a public should be patient with it and let it play out. But does Trump deserve to be impeached and removed from office? To me, the affirmative answer seems clearly obvious. From just the first two days of hearings.

Last but not least, let us savor the deliciousness of the following tweet. Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership in Louisiana, which narrowly voted for the Democrat.

trump la


Filed under History, politics

A Week of Tributes to History

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On Sept. 17, Constitution Day, a panel at Mount Mercy University discussed how the First Amendment is related to coverage of elections. The event was called: “If You Can Keep It: The First Amendment and the Election of 2020.”

I’m not sure we came to any great conclusion, but those who attended tell me that the panel discussion was worthwhile. Lyle Muller, retired director/editor of Iowa Watch; Zack Kucharski, executive editor of the Gazette; and Dr. Richard Barrett, assistant professor of political science joined me on the panel.


Dr. Tim Laurent, MMU provost, at Fall Faculty Series event Sept. 19.

I reviewed a little history related to the First Amendment and talked about why it exists. The title of the event came from a famous story told of Ben Franklin, who was asked as he was leaving a meeting of the Constitutional Convention whether the new United States would be a republic or a monarchy.

“A republic, if you can keep it,” he said.

Dr. Barrett posed an interesting question: How would we write the First Amendment if we were going to write it today? In response, I think the rest of us agreed that part of the power of the amendment is it’s endurance.

By the way, I didn’t think it was that much of a surprises, but several of those who attended noted that they didn’t realize the First Amendment is first not by some grand design, but a bit by chance. In the original Bill of Rights, 12 amendments were proposed, and only the final 10 were approved by the states. What we call today the First Amendment was the Third Amendment, originally.

Never mind. Freedom of speech and of the press have been keys to our politics for more than 200 years. The media system that covers our politics keeps changing, and is in a particular state of flux now.

But, as Zack Kucharski noted, no matter if the wrapper changes, there is still a need for truth telling journalists.

Well, if that rumination on our country’s history were not enough, we got another taste on Thursday night. As part of the fall faculty series “Setting the Table: Perils and Pleasures of Food in America,” Dr. Kris Keuseman explored food rationing during World War II.

Although Dr. Keuseman did give some interesting information about what happened in this country, including showing some old family cookbooks from that era, much of his presentation covered the fascinating story of rationing in the U.K. During the war, new science on nutrition was used to plan how to allocate food—and the government dictates in that intimate area of life proved beneficial. Most measures of public health, absent all of the violent death caused by war, improved during the war years because the wartime rationed diet was actually pretty healthy.

And tonight, before writing this, I got the munchies and had a fatty plate of nachos. I need some rationing, I think.

One of the slides Dr. Keuseman showed featured some British propaganda aimed at boosting morale and enthusiasm for wartime food. A cartoon character named “Dr. Carrot” tried to make the orange root vegetable a friendly personality to children.

logoAnd carrots were even used in a disingenuous way, with a poster urging service people to eat more carrots to improve key night vision for night bomber tracking. The reality was that carrots can only improve vision if you have a vitamin deficiency, and then only raise your vision to normal—they don’t give you any super vision. The carrot poster was meant to help obscure that it was improving British RADAR technology that was seeing the German bombers, not carrot-enhances eyes.

Sorry, Dr. Carrot. You may have helped some kids but you weren’t Britain’s secret weapon, just an orange root of deception. Orange—the color of lies. Thanks goodness we don’t see any evidence of that today!

Dr. Keuseman noted that American rationing wasn’t to keep the national going, it was to retain food for export. British rationing, in contrast, was more a matter of survival.

The Sept. 19 presentation, called “Rationed: When Food Becomes a Weapon of War,” represented the end of the opening events of this series that focused on food history. Next comes more on current issues related to food. This fall series on food continues Oct. 3, when Dr. Joseph Hendryx, assistant professor of English, will speak on “Eating in the Margins: The Politics and Experience of Dumpster Diving.”

Well, Britain survived food shortages in World War II. American democracy may be ailing today, but so far, we have kept our republic, and I hope we continue to keep it. Maybe, clarity of vision could help our politics today.

Paging Dr. Carrot …

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Filed under Food, History, Mount Mercy, politics, Science

The First Amendment Spreads


From Greenlee School web site, picture of ISU First Amendment event.

I’m pretty excited about next Tuesday night, when America celebrates Constitution Day.

MMU is hosting a panel discussion on how the First Amendment freedoms, especially of the press or speech, are related to the upcoming presidential election.


On that night, at 7 p.m. in Betty Cherry Heritage Hall, a panel will discuss how the First Amendment is a key to our political system and the election. We’ll consider questions like: Why is freedom of the press in the Constitution? At a time when the U.S. president calls journalists “enemies” and the best of their work “fake news,” what is the role of the new media? Why the distrust between the media and the public?

From the famous Ben Franklin line about whether the United States would be a monarchy or republic (“A republic, if you can keep it”) the panel event is called: “If You Can Keep It: The Election of 202 and the First Amendment.” It will feature the Executive Editor of the Gazette Zack Kucharski, retired Executive Director and Editor of Iowa Watch Lyle Mueller, MMU Assistant Professor of Political Science Richard Barrett and me.

I’m looking forward to the event, which I hope will be popular and also be part of the important, ongoing conversation we need to have in this country. In our republic, in my opinion, we have lost our way and need to reconnect and learn to speak with rather than shout at each other.

And in an era when the First Amendment is under attack, the fact that MMU is not alone in marking the First Amendment is some comfort. A number of Iowa colleges will be teaching about and celebrating freedom of expression and other First Amendment freedoms next week. I’ve seen pamphlets for events at Des Moines Areas Community College and Simpson College.

I credit Iowa State for starting us on this adventure. The Greenlee School of Journalism holds an annual springtime celebration of the First Amendment, and in April I attended a workshop they offered for educators to plan such events.

I think the September anniversary of the Constitution drew many of us Iowans to plan fall events, and DMACC and Simpson were, like MMU, inspired by ISU.

Well, good going, Cyclone nation.

Next week is also “Mercy Week,” when Mount Mercy celebrates its founding by the Sisters of Mercy and continued commitment to their legacy.

Which is cool. Celebrating the First Amendment as other Iowa colleges also do—makes the cool week way beyond cool. The coolest.

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Filed under History, Journalism, Mount Mercy

First Fall Series Presentation is a Feast for the Mind


Dr. Anna Waterman, associate professor of biology, Mount Mercy University, talking about food.

Food changes everything. The way we live, where we live, how we live and the fact that we have “the man” to please and to defy—it all starts with food.

For the first several million years that our species walked on this planet, we foraged and hunted. We gathered the leaves and seeds and roots that we wanted to consume, and killed our fellow creatures and ate them.

It wasn’t an ideal life, but it was a life we were suited to. We already had fire—cooking predates our species and, along with the ability to make and use tools and weapons, is part of the legacy we get from our related hominid ancestors.

Then, about 12,000 years ago, starting in the fertile crescent of the Middle East but also independently developing in South America and China, humans began to fundamentally change the way we had lived.

logoThat fascinating history—how we are creatures of food and how our relationship to food changed everything about our lives—was the topic of Dr. Anna Waterman’s presentation “How the Agricultural Revolution Transformed Human Diet, Culture, and Society” that she gave Aug. 22 at Mount Mercy University. It was the first event in the 2019 Fall Faculty Series.

It is a bit weird to think that for most of the time we homo sapiens have been around, we shared this globe with other kinds of humans—literally other homo species besides ourselves. No more. Our spread worldwide happened before agriculture and “civilization,” and we either out-competed or eliminated our nearest relatives. (Dr. Waterman didn’t go into this point, but we also incorporated some of their DNA into ours—Neanderthal and Devonians, for example, didn’t all die out, some joined our clan).

People some 12,000 years ago began slowly to tend the plants that they like, and in what was wetter grasslands of the Middle East at that time, some of those grasses became selectively bred into cultivated grains. Those grains fueled dramatic changes in our diet—the invention of bread and beer as staples of what we eat and drink.

And with cultivated grains came larger populations, villages, hierarchies—eventually, nation states. Bosses. Work. Specialization. Organized religion. And, as formerly nomadic, now fixed peoples, we started to find that tending animals was more convenient than hunting them—chickens, pigs, cows, goats were bred from wild animals into the domestic creatures we care for and consume today.

Suddenly land wasn’t something you moved over and foraged on, it was property that was owned by some rich people. The concept of “stuff” was invented as we had fixed residences to store valued objects in.

In the blink of an eye, in the grand scheme of things, the globe was transformed. Today, there are still nomadic hunter gatherers in our human family, but they are rare, located in isolated pockets of land that typically are not that good for raising crops.

Where we can farm, we farm. Thus Iowa is carpeted with corn and soybeans from river to river, a dramatic change in the landscape from what it was 200 years ago. Our immigrant ancestors conquered the New World because residents already here did not have immunity to European diseases—caused, partly, by Europeans living in such proximity to their domesticated animal sources of protein.

Family size was dramatically changed. Nomads carry what they can, and usually can’t have more than one “carry” child at a time, so their norm was to breastfeed for three or four years, which was a form of birth control. With grain, you can make soft food that an 18-month-old can slurp down, so you can wean her and make another baby sooner. And if you’re farming, you tend to want more babies because those kids are farm labor.

The vast, varied ways that agriculture has shifted our environment, our social structures and our ways of life were interesting to hear Dr. Waterman speak about. The changes have had plusses and minuses. I’m not against having a computer to type this blog post on, nor being able to microwave my lunch.

But Dr. Waterman played an interesting game. “How many of you,” she noted, “could go out into your back yard and find stuff to eat?”

There are edible plants there, probably. If we were hunter-gatherers, we would know which roots to dig and which leaves to pluck. Today, our lives are divorced from our sources of food.

Not that I want to trade places with my great, great, great nomadic ancestor. They had cookies with this presentation Thursday night—something those ancestors never saw.

And afterwards, pizza with some brews. Beer and bread, man. They changed everything.

There are eight presentations in the fall series this year, come on down. The next presentation on Sept. 4, by Dr. Normal Linda Mattingly, will cover the history of school lunch programs.

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