George Gurley

Missouri rivalry will be missed
March 31, 2012
When Missouri announced that it was leaving the Big 12, I was shaken to the roots of my being. The idea was unthinkable. It felt as if some basic law of nature had been violated: Spring would no longer follow winter, chocolate ice cream would no longer taste good. It was a denial of geographic reality, as if the new map would show a blank space east of Kansas, with the legend, “There be dragons here.”
Eating chicken raised to an art
March 4, 2012
Out in the country, the prospect of a chicken’s demise arouses little concern. Chicken mortality is commonplace, often brought about by ghastly means. Raccoons invade our chicken coup, leaving a wreckage of beheaded birds. Owls, hawks and even our own supposedly civilized dogs have committed barbaric acts upon these defenseless creatures. I must include myself in the roster of shame. I am known as “Chicken George” for my ability to devour vast quantities of fried chicken. But this sordid business is accepted as part of nature among us simple rural types.
Capitalist system promotes change
February 5, 2012
In the basement of the newspaper where I worked during the summers of my youth was a prodigious printing press, a rumbling monster that looked like the engine of a Mississippi River steamboat.
Happiness is hard to quantify
January 1, 2012
Economist Carol Graham claims to have created a new science that can measure “the economics of happiness.”
Shakespeare’s complexity compounds mysteries
December 3, 2011
The film “Anonymous” is the most recent installment of the ongoing argument about who wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare.
Government’s role in economy
November 6, 2011
“Seeing is believing” — right? According to Michael Shermer, author of “The Believing Brain,” that hoary bromide has it exactly wrong. Believing comes first. Then we seek information that confirms our beliefs and reject whatever might contradict them. Our brains are “belief engines,” writes Shermer. They search for patterns and endow them with meanings, simple truths to comfort us in a complex world.
Owners are best stewards of land
October 1, 2011
Across the gravel road is a small plot of ground of which I am the “steward” — that is to say, the owner.
Weed mars prairie enjoyment
September 5, 2011
Every summer, almost every day, I go out in nature with my mind set on murder. Sericea lespedeza is my quarry, an innocuous-looking plant that spreads like a virus. It can out-compete even native grass.
Major parties must change their ways
August 8, 2011
The political vocation attracts “charlatans, jackals and romantics,” according to one observer. And the worst of these may be the romantics. Charlatans and jackals do mischief. Romantics — those in possession of absolute truth, who dream of “changing the world” and even human nature — can wreak lasting harm.
Common good calls for sacrifices
July 3, 2011
The Douglas County Department of Enlightenment and Coercion paid me a visit the other day, along with the Lawrence Office of Environmental and Social Supervision. Also in attendance were representatives of the Free State Bureau of Restrictions and the Pioneer Office of Entitlements. I counted 42 cars and trucks, each driven by a single individual. (Separate vehicles give individuals quiet time to dream up new regulations and growth prevention initiatives, I learned.)
Killjoy revels in life’s miseries
June 5, 2011
“Our days are a web of petty miseries and is there a greater blessing than to be the ashes of which oblivion is made?”
U.S. must adjust expectations
May 1, 2011
Comparisons between the Roman Empire and America are commonplace but also of enduring interest to pessimists seeking the secrets of decline
Going goofy in a Google world
March 6, 2011
Google: There’s no escape from it. Today, you must google or be utterly marginalized, exiled to the peripheries of society like a pariah dog. And yet, who does not feel a profound sense of foolishness every time he googles, or advises someone else to google or pronounces the word, “google?” When I say “google,” I feel as if I should be wearing diapers, drooling and sucking my thumb.
Film spurs thoughts on meaning of life
February 6, 2011
Lee Siegel, a New York columnist, recently criticized the Coen Brothers’ film “True Grit” for expressing the post-modern view that life is meaningless. He compares it to the original John Wayne version in which “vital characters apply their will to the world” and have meaningful connections with other human beings. By implication, Siegel ratifies the belief that actions have consequences and that justice will ultimately prevail.
Trees speak for themselves
January 2, 2011
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” Why are those mundane words so poignant, so uplifting?