ERROL CASTENS: Wisteria, nicknames and other blessings

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

The Colonel Reb Foundation (, which is dedicated to bringing back its namesake as Ole Miss’ official mascot, notes that the North Dakota House of Representatives has voted to require the University of North Dakota to use the nickname “The Fighting Sioux.” This action is despite a negotiated agreement to retire the moniker after the NCAA deemed it racially insensitive.
With branches on my family tree named Kelley and Cork, maybe I should raise a stink over the insensitive treatment of my people by the University of Notre Dame with its mascot, “The Fighting Irish.” Maybe they could become the Amicable Americans.


If you want to do some early vegetable gardening, get to it: It’s a great time to plant seed potatoes as well as the vegetable seedlings that have shown up in stores – broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, collards, cauliflower – and to plant lettuce, arugula and several Oriental vegetables from seed.
Even if you don’t like mustard greens, you may want to plant them: Some garden pests that damage broccoli and cabbage are even more attracted to mustard, so it acts as a “trap crop” to keep them off the other vegetables.


And make a chance at least once a week, I beg you, from now into May to get out and see the ever-changing flowers. Right now we see daffodils, Bradford pears, Japanese magnolias and other exotics that have become ubiquitous parts of our landscapes. You’ll also want to go into the countryside and see expanses of some tiny purple wildflower that turns whole fields into the closest thing we have to France’s hillsides covered with lavender.
Before long we’ll start seeing even more riotous color, with carefully cultivated azaleas competing for attention with that untamable party girl, wisteria.


Sen. Thad Cochran has introduced the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act to provide federal funding for that subject. Cochran’s office says geography is the only one of nine core subjects not thus funded since the passage of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act.
While a lot of my fellow conservatives and I have philosophical problems with the level of involvement in education that the federal government now enjoys, no one can argue with the assertions that (1) too many Americans of all generations are geographically illiterate and (2) if ever a society needed more categories for understanding news events than “here” and “somewhere else,” it is now.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or

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