Category Archives: Commentary/Polls

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The money spent on prom question







Do you think people spend too much money on prom?

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Sunday blog: The difference in urban and rural voters can be complexing

Commentary by Robert Escandon — I’m unsure if I can make this article a cogent submission.  The complex theme has been rattling around my head for some time but I’m still unsure how to express it.

Robert Escandon

We reside in the center of our huge continent with space almost unlimited.  Ours’ is most definitely a red, Conservative State and we are, mostly, landlocked with other conservative states.  One has to drive way out towards the East or West Coasts before a change to mostly blue states becomes noticeable.

Of course, there are isolated blue counties in predominately red areas — and vice versa — but a “broad-brush” overview shows more liberals towards the East and West extremes of the continent and more conservatives towards the center.

I’ve been searching my mind for reasons as to why this might be.  I’ve looked for correlations and have begun to wonder if population density has a part to play.  Is it the case that low population density favors Conservative outlooks whereas high population density promotes a more Democratic view?  If this is the case — a big if — then why might such a political overview follow population density patterns?

Culture Cow: You want to Netflix and chill this weekend or party with Cardi?

by Devin McCue, Sumner Newscow — First off, this week, turn your attention to a Netflix original that then implores you to look away.  I’m of course, referring to the much anticipated second season of a Series of Unfortunate Events.

You may remember this series as a beloved kids’ (and adults) book series by Lemony Snicket or maybe from the dreadful film adaption, starring Jim Carey.  As Netflix so often does, however, they took some wonderful source material and turned it into a visually provocative and narratively elaborate TV series that stays true to the original inspiration.

Image result for series of unfortunate events

What was so infuriating about the Jim Carey movie for fans of the books was that it cut out all the fourth-wall breaking, the narrator’s bleak outlook on life, and the intricate dialogue that made the books so enthralling.  The Netflix series, however, takes those elements and puts them on full display.

Casting the illustrious Neil Patrick Harris in the lead role doesn’t hurt either.  This season follows the beleaguered Boudelaire children through the fourth, fifth, and sixth books, breaking each story into 2 parts for a total of 6 gripping episodes.

While this story is targeted at children and fans of the books, it’s equally entertaining for the casual new-comer.  As truly one of the best Netflix originals, I’ve yet to make it more than three sittings to finish a season because it’s really just that entertaining.

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The Robert Mueller question







Do you think Trump should fire special prosecutor Robert Mueller?

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Culture Cow: Let me guide you through this crazy week in music; Netflix bracket results are in

Commentary by Devin McCue, Sumner Newscow — Dear reader, I come to you this week with a broken heart. My personal favorite artist, Kacey Musgraves came out with her much anticipated album Golden Hour this week and it was…disheartening.  In recent years, country music in the mainstream has slipped in quality, both in lyricism and musicality and it seems not even the best of the new generation are immune to the troubling tides of the industry.  Steel guitars and heartbreaking sonnets are being replaced with electronic hooks and cheap faux-dirty stories about “my baby” or trucks. One needs to look no further than her second single off the album, High Horse.

The song is nothing more than a DJ having his/her own way with Kacey’s magnetic voice to get on the radio.  Golden Hour has its saving graces with songs like Slow Burn, Space Cowboy, and a delightful interlude titled Mother, but the album as a whole is disjointed and confused about what its musical identity is.  Even though the album’s message is confused, Kacey’s best attributes are still on full display.  She has one of the finest voices in the industry, which she uses to preach her gospel of unique perspectives on the world she lives in and still finds a way to make you laugh and cry within the span of a 4-minute song.

So, while this album doesn’t measure up to her previous two album’s you’ll no doubt be hearing it on the radio for months to come.  I hold out hope that it will age well, but for the moment, Kacey seems long departed from her trailer-park days.

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The Oklahoma teachers strike question







The Oklahoma teachers are on strike. What's your feeling about that here in Kansas?

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Sunday blog: So what is the deal with car tires in the yard?

Commentary by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow — Out of curiosity, I’ve been observing a house that has recently sold to new owners.  It is a middle-of-the –road house whose front and back yards were mostly laid to lawn with a few shrubs.  It was nothing special but was kept clean and tidy by the previous owners.

Robert Escandon

Some fencing panels blew out in the strong winds we had recently and are still blown out and laying on the grass of the rear yard.  This has proved to be useful for the new owners because now they can gain access to their rear yard, through the broken fencing, which previously, had no gate and therefore no access except through the house itself.

Since occupying the property, many car tires have started appearing which has got me to thinking —– WHY would one wish to accumulate random car tires (plus one tractor tire) and then strew them around where you live?  Am I missing something about resale value?  If not, then why collect them?

It was one of the very first things I noticed about America when I first set foot here many years ago. I had travelled extensively (which was a big privilege) and had seen areas of wealth and areas of poverty in different countries but the “car tires in the yard” is definitely an American phenomenon.

Culture Cow: Ricky Gervais, Diplo California, The Post, and fill out your March Madness Netflix bracket!

by Devin McCue, Sumner Newscow — Happy Easter Saturday: For the first time in seven years, we are finally lucky enough to receive a stand-up special from one of the all-time greats, Ricky Gervais. You may remember Gervais as the controversial host of the Golden Globes a few years back and the star of the British version of The Office. His new special, Humanity, is a Netflix original and brings the comic back to his side splitting funny and controversial form.  His special covers his absence from the stand-up scene and his times hosting the Golden-Globes as well as evolution, religion, and a number of additional comedy gold-mines.

It wouldn’t be a Ricky Gervais production, however, without a bit of controversy.  His “that’s why that joke’s not transphobic” routine his show has landed him in some hot water with the LGBTQ community.  While it may be a touch offensive to some and a little crass (to put it lightly), his entire joke is centered around his celebrity beef with Caitlyn Jenner and puts the comic’s dry wit and disregard for political correctness on full display.

Gervais succeeds because of, not in spite of, his willingness to say exactly what he means and embrace his controversial nature.  Comics are the charged with holding a critical mirror up to society and we need them to speak recklessly. Ricky Gervais is the George Carlin of our generation so whenever a stand-up special like this comes along, it behooves anyone that loves comedy to watch a master at work.

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The Easter attending church question







Will you be attending an Easter Day service this weekend?

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Sunday blog: Don’t attend assemblies about not texting and driving then text and drive

by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow — There is a tradition in American schools of inviting professional guest speakers to deliver a message to students.  Such professional speakers deliver inspiring messages usually with an energetic “performance” to keep the attention of their young audience.  Mostly, the messages are of the form “Don’t make the mistakes I made.” Another favorite is “life is short, so make the most of every day.”

Robert Escandon

The messages are always solid but I am often left wondering how much effect they have on their audience.  Some years ago, Wellington School had a presentation on the dangers of texting and using cell phones while driving.  One presenter told the tragic story of their teenage daughter’s fatal traffic accident that was caused by inattention while trying to drive and use her cell phone at the same time.  In this instance, the speaker was the younger sister (of the deceased girl) talking about the family’s dreadful loss.

After school, I was standing near the roundabout in Wellington and noticed some erratic driving and wrong signaling as a driver tried to exit the roundabout while having only one hand on the steering wheel.  No surprise, that the driver was talking on the cell phone while attempting to navigate the junctions.

The surprise WAS that the driver was one of our teachers who had sat next to me during the presentation earlier that afternoon. I’m not going to name names but I realized that the warning message from the bereaved family had created zero effect in the mind of the teacher.

And here we are talking about an adult and not an immature younger student.

Culture Cow: Escape to the past with Culture Cow’s second Oldies but Goodies

by Devin McCue, Sumner Newscow — Happy Friday. Earlier this week, the rap trio out of Atlanta, Georgia, Migos dropped a music video for their song Walk It Talk It in the 70’s theme special that featured afros, a disco ball, and Jamie Foxx himself.  The video screams 70’s funk scene including groovy camera-work, synchronized dance moves, and a mid-song game hosted by Foxx.  While the main artists are enough to ensure the quality of this video, it’s Drake’s entrance (at 2:15 in the video FYI) kicks it into rare form.  Check it out below:

It’s in the spirit of this video, that I’m writing the second installment of CultureCow’s Oldies but Goodies article.  With movies like Pacific Rim: Uprising and Sherlock Gnomes premiering and rappers like 6ix9ine claiming to be the best in the game, it feels nice to reminisce on older times.  Let nostalgia work its way into your heart this week and indulge with one of these gems from years past.

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The ‘your NCAA basketball tournament viewing habits’ question







How much of the NCAA basketball tournament are you watching?

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Letter to the editor: Wellington deserves better

Commentary by Mitch Spencer, Special to Sumner Newscow — Wellington deserves better.

I was born and raised here in Wellington and I am very frustrated and disappointed at how the leaders of our town are currently treating my father, Kerwin Spencer. Kerwin Spencer has loyally served as the Wellington City Prosecutor for the past 18 years.

No one deserves to be treated this way. My father has the highest integrity of anyone that I know.

Shane Shields, the Wellington City Manager, and Shawn DeJarnett, the city attorney, have come together not only to have Shawn DeJarnett take the city prosecutor position, but to raise the salary more than $5,000 for the first year with no cap on the limit for the following years.

Sunday blog: The legacy of Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

Commentary by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow — I was very sad to learn of the death last week of one of my heroes,  Stephen Hawking.  Plenty of accolades deservedly came to him for his life-achievements in physics and cosmology.  Whether he was the world’s most brilliant scientist is open to debate.  Was he a genius?  Certainly, but there are always competitors for the title of being top of the intellectual tree.  Kip Thorne (ex of Caltech) could equally hold that title as could many other great people of the current day and throughout history.

Robert Escandon

What sets Steven Hawking apart, at least for me, was his courage and tenacity in the face of a mortal illness.  When first diagnosed with ALS, he was in his early twenties and was told his life expectancy was around three to five years during which time he would slowly lose all muscle control.  Such a devastating prognosis is difficult to imagine.  Equally difficult to imagine is that he would go on to lead such an influential life of contribution to mankind until the age of 76.

There is such a wealth of information written about Steven Hawking that my humble little article couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface of his achievements.

Did he ever get sentimental about his disabilities?  As far as I can tell from everything I have read about him, the answer is emphatically “no.”  He is quoted as saying: “Life is too short to waste a minute.” So year after year he applied his enormous intellect to theoretical physics and cosmology where his active brain wasn’t stricken with debilitating disease.  He was free to roam in his mind and in his intellect, even as his body was ravaged by illness.  I can’t imagine him giving in to negative thoughts of the “Woe is me” kind and permitting self-pity to overtake him.  His intellect was intact to a level which allowed him to explore the world free of bodily constraints.

Letter to editor: When people go by their feelings and not reason

Commentary by John Munro, special to Sumner Newscow — OK, so Wednesday all across America we had school students staging a walk-out to protest against the easy access — really? — of firearms in particular AR-15 style semi-auto rifles, which apparently some kid by the name of David Hogg from Parkland, Florida, the school that got shot up a couple of weeks ago, thinks that this is the thing to do.  Not that it matters that all firearms are inanimate items that have no way of doing any harm on their own, only by external application can they do anything at all.  This might have meant something to me if they would have protested against the real reason 17 kids had to die, and another 15 were needlessly wounded.

The Cruz kid that did the shooting had been in trouble for quite a long time, with numerous visits by the Broward County Sheriff’s office to his home on domestic violence complaints, he had been in physical fights a number of times while in school, he had made actual threats to others, and in fact had sent text messages to another kid that he knew declaring that he was going to shoot up the school.

At no time during all of this was he ever actually arrested or brought before a juvenile judge for his behavior, which if in the real world, he would have had a violent record a yard long, which would have prevented him from ever purchasing the rifle to begin with, and by all rights, would have resulted in his incarceration.  On top of all this, somewhere along the lines of a year prior, he had brought a firearm, probably a handgun, to school.  This along with several of the other violations, was in fact a felony.

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The time change question







Do you think we should continue "springing forward" and "falling back" with time changes?

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Sunday Blog II: In one meeting announcement, utter despair turns to hope for SRMC

Commentary by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Wow, what a news week.

I’m trying to remember a week that matched this one for overall news worthiness. I’m not sure I can come up with one.

Tracy “Cueball” McCue

This week contained a little of everything. The hospital owner transfer announcement, a Wellington High School bomb threat, three intentional fires set within the city limits, the girls basketball team making it to state, and the potential replacing of a Wellington City Prosecutor were just the headlines. All stories that could fill up a year-end top 10 news list seems to have occurred in one week. That’s the feast and famine nature of the news business.

Next week we could be back to “Wellington has a new pot hole” and “Myrtle’s cat is hungry” stories. But that’s the news cycle.

Without a doubt the story of the week, month, year and, perhaps, decade is the Sumner Regional Medical Center becoming the property of a private group. I have an intimate relationship with one of the board members, and I had no idea that was going to happen.

My wife simply told me Monday to be at the Wellington City Council meeting on Tuesday. My kid had a choir concert on the exact same night. But the fact I was told to be at a city council meeting, led me to believe something big was about to happen. My first inclination was to think that dreaded “the hospital is going to close” sentence was finally going to be uttered.

Sunday Blog: Can someone explain to me why the larger fish are allowed to be taken away?

Commentary by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow — I’ve always enjoyed fishing as a hobby, both as a young boy and now as an older man.  I’m not one to go hiking along a river bank or lakeshore but prefer to get comfortable in a garden chair and fish with bait. either on a lead or under a bobber.  I find it relaxing to be sitting outside, plus fishing gives me a legitimate excuse to do exactly that.  To be fair, I do like to catch the odd bigger fish but not to the exclusion of simply relaxing by the water enjoying my own thoughts and my own company.

Robert Escandon

I happened to be walking around Hargis Lake last week and took notice of the posted size-limits for fish and the maximum numbers that can be retained.  Anyway, it got me thinking about the logic behind these fish and their size limits.  Given that most fishermen like to catch larger fish, the permitted removal of those same  larger fish from closed waters would appear to be reverse logic.

Those fish that have made it to a larger size obviously have good genes and ought to remain in the lake or river to pass on those better genes at the next spawning..  So, why do we permit the better fish to be selectively removed while returning the stunted smaller members?  Commonsense suggests that such activity will eventually produce a lake with lots of small fish and few larger representatives.  The various fishery authorities make things worse by re-stocking with young, small fish.

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The hospital being sold question







What is your essential reaction that SRMC ownership transfer story this week?

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Sunday blog: When it comes to sports, there are many differences on both sides of the Atlantic

Commentary by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow — This past week I found myself musing about sports and academics in general.  Having lived in America and Europe, it is interesting to note both the similarities and the differences.

Robert Escandon

At the emotional level, supporting your chosen team is little different on both sides of the Atlantic but there are differences in the games themselves and in public expectation.  For instance, Europe is overwhelmed by one sport — Soccer — which is all pervasive.  Unlike the U.S.,  European Universities don’t have their own teams nor their own stadiums either.  People don’t watch televised Soccer games between –say — Oxford and Madrid University teams, because there aren’t any.  A University may play the odd friendly local league game against another University but it is not a big deal like here in the States and wouldn’t be televised or broadcast.

I was surprised when I first came to live in America to find Universities owning massively expensive sports stadiums, and paying their coaches ludicrously large salaries.  The money invested by Colleges (and especially universities) in their sports activities seemed, to me, more like the levels expected in professional sports.

When you attend a British University it is to study your chosen subject and not with the up-front intention of playing a sport.  As such, there are no sports scholarships on offer and therefore no sports’ scouts either.   You might get some academic assistance with your tuition fees (if you are very lucky and intellectually smart) but your sporting interest or abilities will be irrelevant to a University. 

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