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"How did you get to be so smart?" a writer friend asked me at one of our monthly meetings. I've forgotten both the preceding conversation, and my answer, but I could boast that it might seem so because I read the daily state and local papers.

Before 1991 and all through my childhood, our paper of choice was the Arkansas Gazette. In retrospect, the two major papers were rather like today's polarized political parties: The Gazette seemed to equal the Democrats, and the Democrat, the Republicans. We were abject at the buyout, but for the sake of keeping informed, we capitulated, since the word "Gazette" was tacked on, possibly in deference to "the other paper's" readers.

My home office is full of journals, so many that my children might give up cataloguing them by month and year when I move to the final realm. I hope not, but one never knows. And from those journals, a book-in-progress is in the computer. I call it a Compendium of Journal Jottings. A former writers group refused to critique sections of it, so I left them to their own devices.

Examples of what I learned from the latest journal entries follow: "The United Service Organizations (USO) is a nonprofit ... founded in 1941," from Heloise. A trivial fact, yes, but I didn't know it.

Another bit from the paper for the compendium section on "The Nation" is: According to John Magsam, of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 2018 is the 37th year for Forbes' lists of the richest 400 people in the U.S. I have updated my information about Alice Walton's place on the current list since the earlier entry I had. She dropped from ninth then to being tied with Rob Walton for 12th this year. Jim Walton is 11th on the list. There are 57 women included, Alice Walton being the richest.

I recently read, and noted, that the Nobel prizes have been awarded since 1901, according to Malcolm Ritter, Jim Heintz and Christopher Chester of The Associated Press. The earlier compendium entry, un-annotated, alas, says 1895. Obviously, more research is required.

As to world news, two government classes at Hendrix under Dr. Richard Yates--while both netted grades of D--have influenced me in the scope and knowledge of global affairs. The latest journal entry for "The World and the Universe" chapter, is from an article by Matthew Lee, AP, that reports a 1955 (while I was at Hendrix) Treaty of Amity between Washington and Tehran has been terminated by our current administration. This treaty is one of many signed in the wake of World War II during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations to counter the Soviets. And the U.S. is pulling out of an amendment to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that, according to John Bolton, could be used by Iran or others to sue the U.S. at The Hague-based International Court of Justice.

I also clip relevant items, articles, comics, obituaries. Last week, an article discussed the fact that Merriam-Webster has put out the sixth edition of the official Scrabble dictionary with many new acceptable words. Knowing that the friend (alluded to in the opening of this piece) is a Scrabble enthusiast, but not remembering if she subscribed to the Democrat-Gazette, I clipped the article for her.

She was delighted that I had thought of her, and, no, she did not get the daily paper. (Sad-face emoji by me; so many folks don't subscribe.) An additional bit of information: The first Scrabble dictionary was published in 1978. (When did our family buy its first Scrabble game? A sibling says during the '60s.)

Three obituaries are push-pinned into a bulletin board that's been on my dining-room wall since Mom and Dad lived here: one, my children's father; two, my brother's husband, and three, a boyfriend from the Hendrix days of yore.

The limitations of length preclude further examples, and I haven't yet begun to express the depth of my debt to this newspaper and its employees.

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Pat Laster is a writer of prose and poetry living in Benton.

Editorial on 10/11/2018

Print Headline: Brain food

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