Kurt Meyer

Doors swinging outward?

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

I’m primarily of Nordic ancestry, somewhere between 62 and 83 percent. Let’s say, approximately three-quarters. Despite my Germanic name, my family tree is rooted in Norway, as is my wife Paula’s. Mindful of this heritage, Paula and I traveled to Norway with my parents in 1998, to visit locations from which our ancestors departed almost 150 years earlier to begin their new lives in the U.S.

One community we sought out was Grue, population 5,000. As we entered town, in the best Norwegian tradition, we made for a local coffee shop. The waitress asked if our visit was linked to the Grue Church fire.

Not really. But wait, what Grue church fire? (Clearly, we had not done our homework.) No, we were there mostly to gaze upon tombstones of distant relatives. But tell us a bit about this fire…

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Iowa drops in education rankings

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

If you’re confused about myriad rankings that evaluate public education in Iowa, join the club. I note that Iowa did not fare well in a recent U.S. News & World Report ranking of best high schools—number 48 of 51. But it’s always possible, due partially to the proliferation of rating approaches, to find results where Iowa fares somewhat better.

Wow, 48th! We somehow managed to edge out Nebraska and Oklahoma (Maine, too, since apparently they didn’t grant permission to use Advanced Placement data in their evaluation). Now, we shouldn’t get blown too far off course by one poor ranking, although it’s worth noting, U.S. News & World Report now markets themselves as “the global authority in education rankings.”

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Poetic justice?

Editor’s note: This column contains discussion of sexual abuse.

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

Two decades ago, I became dimly aware of the poet Richard Eberhart. Not because of anything he had written or done recently to breach my knowledge gap. Rather, because he was from Austin (Minnesota), as was Dad’s family. Despite his minimal interest in poetry, it was Dad who first brought Eberhart to my attention, logical in light of their shared Austin background.

My curiosity piqued, I began investigating. “Who’s this famous poet… from AUSTIN?”

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An Iowa classic (and others) rebranded

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

A product with deep Iowa connections recently reached the century mark: the ice cream treat now known as “Edy’s Pie”, which, until a year ago, was called Eskimo Pie.

An outgrowth of the George Floyd tragedy has been increased awareness of racial stereotypes that have existed for decades. Eskimo Pie’s owner sought to abandon a word considered derogatory by its association with non-Native colonizers who settled in the Arctic and used the term. Although some changes, like this one, happened recently, others have been under consideration for many years.

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Echoes of Jimmy Carter in challenges facing Joe Biden

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

This column is being written shortly before President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address, probably among the most important speeches of his presidency. Undoubtedly, there’s been considerable input gathered in preparation for his March 1 address. Presumably, some ideas in early drafts will be jettisoned, yielding precious time so the president can explain and interpret events in Ukraine.

Anticipating Tuesday’s speech, I reflected on other important presidential addresses in recent years. As a potential point of inflection, my mind wandered to Jimmy Carter and what is generally referred to as his malaise speech, July 15, 1979. President Carter sought to jolt our country from a foggy feeling of hopelessness. National confidence had diminished, replaced by a vague sense the American epoch was over. Carter delivered an introspective address, striving to change our energy future through decreased dependence on foreign oil and collective sacrifice.

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What ever happened to "fly the friendly skies"?

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

“Instructors demonstrated how to stand, move, and approach an attacker, as well as fight or defend themselves with their hands, elbows, palms, knees, feet, and shins. Some techniques are standard, like a punch to the face. Others are new, like raking an attacker’s face with your nails.”

Those sentences are not about a martial arts class or training for bodyguards. This was a newspaper article describing a voluntary, four-hour course available to flight attendants, which noted, may interest those

“looking for more tools to protect themselves from aggressive, out-of-control passengers. Flight attendants wince at the mention of gouging an attacker’s eyes. ‘Remember, this guy is attacking you,’ the air marshal said, encouraging the class to keep their warrior mind-set.”

So, this is what it’s come to? A warrior mind-set among airline employees? What ever happened to “fly the friendly skies”?

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