Category Archives: Simply Put
By Mike Whittlesey
The fifth and final installment of Dave Stueve’s narrative about his recent safari experience in South Africa is published this week as the sport of trophy hunting in Africa remains under fire following the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe last month.
I am not a hunter. My enjoyment of the great outdoors is devoted primarily to riding a bicycle on the abundance of nature trails our little corner of the world has to offer. The last arrow I shot was probably in a junior high physical education class and I’ve since been pardoned for the arrow that somehow wound up on the roof. With the exception of my dad’s air rifle some 35 years ago, I’ve never shot a gun and have no desire to own one.
When Dave Stueve opened Double Lung Archery in La Porte City in 2007, he quickly developed a full-service Archery Pro Shop with a loyal following of customers who willingly come from near and far to support a business that caters to hunters. And make no mistake, hunting is big business in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources estimates the economic impact hunters, anglers and wildlife viewers amounts to $1.5 billion each year, supporting more than 17,800 jobs statewide.
Though not a hunter myself, a large portion of The Progress Review’s readers actively participate in outdoor related activities and have an interest in reading about the exploits of their fellow hunters. It is also important to acknowledge that hunter-generated revenue makes it possible for non-hunters like myself to enjoy the bike trails and state parks funded by the hunting industry. Not only do hunters account for $100 million in state and federal taxes annually, they also help fund the state’s fisheries, law enforcement activities related to wildlife, habitat/wetland restoration, as well as outdoor education and safety training. Without these dollars, many of the outdoor recreational activities enjoyed by non-hunters would not exist as they do in their present form.
Having said that, luring a lion out of its protected sanctuary for the purpose of killing it and cutting off its head cannot be explained away as animal conservation. That Cecil’s tracking collar went missing after the kill was made suggests the hunting party knew their actions were unethical, even if the subsequent investigation determines the hunt was not illegal. As this issue of The Progress Review goes to press, the investigation surrounding the hunter, his guide and the Zimbabwe landowner has not yet been completed.
In the meantime, the moral indignation expressed by those who have vandalized the property of the hunter responsible for the deed does nothing to address the problem of protecting endangered wildlife. While spewing pigs’ feet on the grounds of a hunter’s vacation home may make for dramatic television, it certainly is not a convincing statement about the sanctity of animal life. I can think of at least one pig who would have objected to such an argument.
Those morally opposed to hunting certainly deserve to express their feelings and have their voices heard. To label all trophy hunters as evil, though, is an oversimplification of the issue and does a disservice to the legitimate conservation efforts many hunters passionately pursue. As the debate rages on, many outdoor enthusiasts make the claim that banning hunting in Africa is actually more harmful to the animals there. Hard to believe, yes. The historical numbers, though, would seem to support such a claim.
In a 2006 research piece published in Conservation Biology entitled “Trophy Hunting and Conservation in Africa: Problems and One Potential Solution, the authors state, “The greatest threat to the sustainability of trophy hunting on communal land is the failure of governments and hunting operators to devolve adequate benefits to local communities, which reduces incentives for rural people to conserve wildlife.”
In other words, when the hunters and the money they spend in Africa disappears, so to does the natives’ motivation to maintain conservation efforts that previously protected the wildlife there.
In a 2011 research piece published in Environment, author Nicolas Jordan Deere noted that following the ban of trophy hunting in Kenya (1977), Tanzania (1973–78) and Zambia (2000-03), there was an accelerated loss of wildlife in each of those countries.
Kenya, for example, has lost some 60%-70% of its wildlife after initiating a ban on hunting. Faced with the prospect of literally starving to death as African wildlife consume the vegetation dirt-poor resident farmers ordinarily feed their livestock, it should not be surprising that poaching remains rampant in Kenya. Food on the table will trump animal conservation every time these conditions are in conflict.
The low socioeconomic conditions present in many African countries, coupled with hunters who are willing to pay five figures for the opportunity to hunt in Africa, places some African governments in the difficult position of publicly condemning an activity they routinely accept big dollars to allow. A recent news report from Zimbabwe noted that local officials were hopeful the furor over Cecil’s death would soon dissipate so the business of legal hunting could resume.
How long the topic of trophy hunting in Africa remains a top story in the news remains to be seen. Instead of Africa, it’s an issue that could just as easily be focused on our very own backyard. For many years, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has issued permits to conduct deer management hunts at designated times during the year. Designed to thin the excess deer population, these hunts address concerns related to the damage deer inflict on crops and ornamental gardens, as well as the number of motor vehicle accidents involving deer. Over a 25 year period, managing the deer population in this manner has become accepted practice, much like trophy hunting is today in many African countries. If Iowans and their state government view large numbers of deer as a nuisance and a danger, is it surprising that African landowners view the excess number of giraffes threatening the food supply of other animals much in the same way?
The ethical treatment of animals, regardless their country of origin, is not a high contrast, black and white problem. As we navigate the muddy waters of this complex social issue, let us hope that civil public discourse will be the rule of the day. Without it, we lack the clarity needed to help find the answers we seek.
By Mike Whittlesey
Last week’s RAGBRAI visit to La Porte City can only be described as a valiant effort that came up short. I’m referring, of course, to pie. On Thursday, July 23rd, the community learned first-hand that the voracious (and legendary) appetite RAGBRAI riders have for pie is a well-deserved one, indeed. The 1,500+ slices of pie prepared by the American Lutheran Church were gone by 1 PM. More than 1,000 fry pies offered at the Amish Family Foods booth were happily devoured before the day was done. And that’s not counting the pie for sale at the Sacred Heart and St. Paul United Methodist church booths.
While the effort to meet the pie demand may have disappointed some of the late-arriving guests making the ride from Cedar Falls to Hiawatha, clearly the effort to show riders and their support personnel a good time in La Porte City did not. The combination of near-perfect weather and local citizens highly motivated to offer a healthy dose of LPC hospitality to riders coming to Iowa from all around the world had many offering words of thanks to bystanders as they pedaled out of town.
If there is one word that can sum up the RAGBRAI experience, it is TEAMWORK. Many riders make the journey accross the state as part of a team, and the creative names and uniforms they display are an important part of the RAGBRAI culture, each with its own unique story to tell.
The sense of collegiality shared among riders on the daunting 462 mile journey from Sioux City to Davenport was clearly evident on the streets of La Porte City, as cyclists used commands such as “rider on!” and “rider off!” to express their intentions to those riding around them. When potentially dangerous obstacles along the road were encountered, riders were also quick to warn those behind them with a shout and pointing of the arm at the offending terrain.
The safety of participants is clearly the number one concern for RAGBRAI organizers. That accidents along the way become newsworthy events is a tribute to just how few serious injuries are incurred over the course of the ride, a remarkable feat considering how many moving parts there are making the trip across the state.
Hosting the world’s largest bike ride for the first time in 32 years, teamwork was essential for those planning La Porte City’s role as a pass-through community along the 2015 RAGBRAI route. Over the five month process of planning for “Ride LPC 7-23,” the steering committee held fast to its commitment to closely adhere to the guidelines and recommendations established by RAGBRAI organizers. The end result affirmed those efforts, as Main Street vendors enjoyed a tremendously successful day serving riders who thoroughly enjoyed the time they spent in La Porte City.
Given the feedback from riders in 2015, La Porte City will not have to wait another 30+ years to receive another invitation to host RAGBRAI. Taking what has been learned from this year’s experience, the goal will be to make the next one even better. That’s a lot of pie!
The Progress Review’s first Memorial Day tribute to veterans was published in 2007. Looking back, it’s interesting to note the actual size of the photos published in that issue. In 2015, our ninth tribute, the photos have gotten considerably smaller, and that’s a good thing, as the total number of veterans featured has grown from 43 to 175. We were especially pleased to add several “new” veterans to the roll call this year, including some who are currently serving on active duty.
In the early 1990s, when America became engaged in Operation Desert Storm, appreciation of veterans came to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. When “boots on the ground” were deemed necessary in Iraq, then later in Afghanistan, reports of casualties brought the harsh realities of war home to the civilian population. It had been many years since so many American troops had been put in harm’s way, and the deaths of our soldiers were shocking, particularly to the those who had never experienced the somber consequences of war.
It is appropriate that our recognition of veterans with ties to La Porte City is sandwiched between Honor Flights hosted by Sullivan-Hartogh-Davis Post 730 in Waterloo. More than 90 veterans made the trip to Washington, D.C. on May 5. Another group will make the journey next month on June 16.
Four years ago, after a last-minute cancellation, I was invited to accompany the group of veterans aboard Waterloo’s second Honor Flight. It was an incredible experience to spend the day in our nation’s capital with a group of men and women who were well-acquainted with the ultimate sacrifices made by their friends and comrades during World War II and the Korean War. The Progress Review has been fortunate to travel on each of the successive Honor Flights to continue the tradition of producing a souvenir DVD for each veteran aboard the flight.
With each trip I make to Washington D.C., I am reminded how pleased and proud my dad would have been to view each of the monuments and memorials on the Honor Flight itinerary. Of course, as a 22-year veteran of the Air Force who served a tour of duty in Vietnam when I was very young, he would have been partial to the USAF Memorial and its spires that soar 270 feet into the wild blue yonder.
This year’s Memorial Day tribute to our veterans is a special section that begins on page 11. Each of the 175 veterans pictured have their own unique stories of the service that was given to their country. At the same time, it is important to also remember the sacrifices made by the families of the members of our armed forces.
As we pause on this Memorial Day, we offer a heartfelt, “Thank you for your service,” to veterans and their loved ones for their service and sacrifice to ensure our way of life.
As a special tribute, we invite our readers to enjoy some of the images from the May 5, 2015 Honor Flight we’ve posted online in the form of a video slideshow. While the brief program represents just a fraction of the Honor Flight experience, it summarizes their day in a very powerful way. To view the slideshow, logon to www.theprogressreview.co.
By Mike Whittlesey
RIDE LPC 7-23
At a meeting with RAGBRAI officials last week, much attention was focused on the services and activities that get riders to dismount from their bikes to spend their time and money in the communities along the route. There can be no denying that RAGBRAI offers tremendous economic opportunities for each city and town the riders visit. And with at least ten miles separating La Porte City from the nearest communities on the route, many cyclists will certainly be ready for a break when the trail leads them to La Porte City.
RAGBRAI’s last visit to La Porte City came in 1983. Since that time, the event has grown more than 30%, if measured solely by the number of riders participating. Fortunately, our community has some experience with planning a summer party, though six hours of RAGBRAI in LPC has the potential to make the two day Festival of Trails Celebration look almost pedestrian.
This year, there are nearly 50 cities and towns along the RAGBRAI route, including a half dozen or so even smaller, unincorporated communities. More than half of them are populated by fewer than 1,000 people. Preparing your community to greet and serve a group more than ten times its size is a monumental undertaking. Yet each year, hundreds of small towns throughout the state lobby to bring RAGBRAI to their communities. Why? In addition to the millions of dollars riders from each of the 50 states pour into local economies, RAGBRAI offers the cities and towns along the route an unprecedented opportunity for self-promotion.
On July 23rd, what will the visitors who pass through La Porte City remember most about our city? Do you have an idea for a theme and/or activities that will make the day especially memorable? If so, the city’s RAGBRAI Steering Committee wants to hear it. As our community begins the process of preparing for the event, the level of enthusiasm already being expressed by local citizens is an indication that riders who stop in La Porte City will leave better for the experience.
For the latest information about RAGBRAI’s visit to La Porte City, visit the La Porte City Facebook page devoted to RAGBRAI at facebook.com/ridelpc723 or www.theprogressreview.co/ragbrai. You can also use these sites to share your ideas for making La Porte City an unforgettable stop on the RAGBRAI tour. In anticipation of the events that will take place in La Porte City on July 23rd, many, many volunteers will also be needed in the days before, during and after RAGBRAI’s visit. Want to help? Logon today to complete a volunteer form or call City Hall at 342-3396 to express your desire to share your time and talents with what promises to be the biggest community event of the year. Volunteer forms are also available at City Hall (202 Main Street) and The Progress Review (213 Main Street).
Additional information about the ride, including RAGBRAI’s rules and regulations for vendors, will be published in The Progress Review and posted online as it becomes available.
By Mike Whittlesey
So many pranks, so few opportunities…
Though not on the scale of Halley’s Comet, which makes an appearance every 75 years or so, this year is only the second time since the turn of the century that The Progress Review’s official publication date has fallen on April 1. While it might be tempting to include an outlandish story that defies belief, or insert a photograph upside down to see if anyone notices, we’d like to be taken seriously the other 51 weeks of the year. So, as you go about your business this April Fool’s Day, know that this edition of The Progress Review has been designed with the same care and attention to detail as every other issue during the year (which, sadly, is not to say it is completely free of errors…).
The origins of April Fool’s Day actually date back hundreds of years, with no one explanation for how the day came to be an absolute certainty. In more recent times, though, there have been some rather memorable pranks carried out.
For example, on April 1, 1957, the British Broadcasting Company was responsible for airing one of the first April Fool’s jokes to appear on television. As part of the news program entitled “Panorama,” one segment of the show detailed the efforts to harvest Switzerland’s spaghetti crop. The report included video footage of the spaghetti harvest, where families were shown picking spaghetti strands from trees and placing them into baskets. Thankfully, it was a bumper noodle crop that year, thanks to the mild winter and the low numbers of that dreaded pasta pest, the evil spaghetti weevil. Following the show, one operator advised a caller who wanted to know where such a spaghetti tree could be purchased locally, to “…place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
Cookie lovers may recall a hoax that has circulated for many years via e-mail- the story of a woman and daughter who loved the chocolate chip cookies they were served at Nieman Marcus so much, they purchased the recipe. Later, when the woman received her credit card bill and was shocked to learn she had been charged $250, not $2.50 for the world famous recipe, she began a campaign to send it to anyone and everyone she could. Interestingly enough, when this hoax first appeared, chocolate chip cookies were not on the Nieman Marcus menu. That has since changed. In fact, a box of 50 cookies can now be purchased on the Nieman Marcus website for the low price of $25, plus shipping.
In 1985, “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch,” written by George Plimpton for Sports Illustrated, told the story of Hayden “Sidd” Finch, a former Harvard student and Buddhist monk-in-training. Finch was reportedly at the New York Mets training camp that Spring, despite never having played baseball. He had learned the “Art of the Pitch” while traveling in Tibet and could throw a ball a reported 168 mph with pinpoint accuracy. In his 13 page essay, Plimpton offered up a clue the story was bogus to readers, using the following phrase under the story’s headline: “He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent lifestyle, Sidd’s deciding about yoga- and his future in baseball.” Upon closer examination, the first letters of these words spelled out “Happy April Fools Day.” Two years after composing what is still considered one of the greatest deceptions in sports journalism, Plimpton developed the story into a novel, sold in the fiction section of book stores, of course.
With so many pranks out there, hopefully the first of April will come and go leaving you free of being subjected to some form of a fool’s errand. To be on the safe side, though, it’s probably best not to take ourselves, or any other strange event that may happen today, too seriously.