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July 20, 2018

Branson Duck Boat Ride - Bad Judgment


By Glenn Mollette

I've thought about taking a Duck boat ride and I'm glad I passed.

Thirty-one people including 29 passengers had boarded the Duck boat ride vehicle for a joy ride on Table Rock Lake outside Branson Missouri last week. It became the last ride that 17 of the passengers would ever make.

Torrential weather turned the lake into a rollercoaster ride that became more than the Duck boat could handle. Media clips have shown the stress the World War II type amphibious vehicle and people were under. The raging lake overtook them sending many of them to their watery graves.

We are filled with horror, grief and have wailed about how such a tragedy happened? Where was the precaution? Where were the lifejackets? Why do these stupid boats have canopies on them? Mostly we have asked in bewilderment, "Why were they out in that perilous storm?" Where was the sound mind of management? Where were the instincts of the driver? And, what about the commonsense of the people to have delayed their ride until better weather?

Tourist attractions every summer are under pressure to make as much as they can while they can. Kids go back to school in August and so do the family dollars. Management pushes employees to do all they can, as each day's receipts are vital to the yearly budget. On the same token, tourists crowd places like Branson. Vacationers are there usually a short time and crowd venues that offer rides and shows.

State agencies cannot be everywhere and monitor every activity but the Branson Duck incident cries out for better surveillance and stricter rules at such places and such providers of entertainment. No one in Missouri wants to step up and claim they were in charge of the oversight of this vehicle. The U.S. Coast Guard has said that it sets limited parameters on the vessel such as requiring a certificate of inspection and authorizing routes but after that has little involvement with them. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates their travel on the road but hasn't had much to say in regards to this latest disaster or banning them from the highways.

Hindsight is always better and I doubt if too many people will board Duck boat rides the rest of this summer. Yet, over and again tourist type attractions have the ability to end in disaster. About twenty years ago the duck boat named the Miss Majestic sunk to the bottom of a Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas killing 13 people. In 2015 five students were killed in a duck boat collision with a bus in Seattle. There have been two incidents in Philadelphia and one in Boston were 28-year-old Allison Warmuth was fatally run over by a duck boat in April 2016.

Vacationers have to make common sense calls. Someone has to stop and ask, "Is this ride safe?" Or consider that, "Maybe the weather conditions are not conducive to duck riding, zip lining or parasailing over the ocean today. " Every day somewhere, someone will be hurt doing something trying to have fun. People will be killed driving cars and riding airplanes. This is one of the reasons we have laws and rules in regards to trains, planes and automobiles. They can be very dangerous when not used with good judgment.

The Duck boat ride in Branson was another tragic lesson in serious bad judgment.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states,

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July 14, 2018

Thailand's watery cave - Something we can learn


By Glenn Mollette

The world celebrated the rescue of 12 Thai soccer boys from a flooded cave in Mae Sai, Thailand. We grieved over the loss of one brave man, Saman Kunam who sacrificed his life to deliver supplies to the trapped boys. Many of us watched the media reports fearfully, prayed and hoped for a miracle.

The deliverance of all twelve young boys at the hands of skilled divers was something we jointly cheered about. Reports have indicated that time was running out for them. More flooding was coming; oxygen and food were in dismal supply. Yet, reports are that ten Thousand people participated in the rescue effort, including 2,000 soldiers, 200 divers and representatives from 100 government agencies.

We don't want scenarios like what happened in Thailand to ever occur. Such a scenario was a global nightmare but was something that no political group, religious entity or anyone would surely debate. Everything possible would be done to save those young Thai boys.
Yet every day on this planet there are desperate plights playing out around the globe. Young children in Syria still live lives of daily desperation. Families in Iraq and Afghanistan do not face a day without the fear of who may invade their homes to rape, pilfer and murder their families. There are a lot of problems around the world. Hunger, clean water shortages, medical care availability and violence exist to some degree almost everywhere it seems.
We have all the above and more in America. Employment is better, the stock market is up and the military is stronger than it has been in a long time, yet with all we have going for us how many people emotionally feel like they are in a watery cave and their time is running out?

Throughout our country people still struggle with healthcare. Insurance companies continue to call the shots on procedures and treatments. Doctors order what they feel like the insurance company will agree to or pay for. Is this always in the best interest of the patient or is it always in the best interest of the insurance company? How many American are on the verge of drowning from inadequate medical care and are also up to their necks in debt from medical costs? Surely this is a call for national concern, prayer but more than anything it's a tremendous alarm for us to continue to work together to do something.

The recent shooting in Annapolis, Maryland reminded us again that we have a violence issue, mental issues and gun availability issues in this nation. Everybody should not have a gun in America. Do we not feel like we have all died again every time there is a school or random community shooting? We have to quit arguing about "your gun" and "my gun" and work together to fix all of this and it's a lot to fix.

Of course, we still have rampant poverty in America. We have too many communities who are afraid to drink their water. Kids are still bullied at school. Nursing homes are still nightmares emotionally and financially and there is always another hurricane, tornado, flood or fire just around the corner.

There is so much about our everyday world that strains us and keeps us fighting for survival. Maybe we can all learn something from the divers and many people from all over the world who came together to rescue those young men from a watery grave. If we don't fight each other and work together for solutions we might solve more of our problems that are about to end our existence.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 



July 11, 2018



by John H. Butch Preston


John Butch PrestonJohn Butch PrestonIt has become common knowledge now that President Trump doesn’t read or won’t read. This is something that should not be dismissed out of mind, for it is an important clue into his mentality: he doesn’t comprehend what most school children know significantly—that reading is fundamental. Reading is crucial for developing a well-balanced brain. Mental growth is not only important to growing minds but is something that should be a lifelong pursuit. How else can one develop one’s intellectual ability to discern—that is: one’s capacity to effectively deduce the consequences of the many decisions one has to make in life? Especially moral decisions. In this respect, a strong background gained from reading is one’s most helpful guide in considering critical choices.

Where else can wisdom be found if not by reading?

But yes, one can become quite savvy, even very successful in life without reading, but it comes with a price—simpleminded, one dimensionality. To dismiss reading as unnecessary leads to a very shallow life indeed. A prime example of Trump’s shallowness is his use of the esteemed power of the Presidency of the United States to bully private citizens via the Internet; this sets a new standard for superficiality, and a new low for Americans.

Reading is the most effective means of obtaining information and knowledge, bar none. All great civilizations have depended on a public that reads. It wasn’t until the Greeks developed an alphabet that they created the world’s first working democracy. (Something one learns by reading). Christ himself wrote something in the dirt with his finger according to John 8: 7, some mysterious message that we will never know—although John undoubtedly had mastered the ancient art of memorization in order to turn over his knowledge of Christ to the scribes, he was obviously illiterate so Christ’s message remains in the dust forever.

It’s not too late: Trump needs to start where most adolescent youngsters start their serious reading, with Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and a good biography of Lincoln. It appears that Trump’s only link to Lincoln is in fulfilling the second part of Lincoln’s famous dictum: “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time.” It does seem that Trump is a master at manipulating fools.

But here is the main crux of the matter. Had Trump decided in his youth that reading was worthwhile and then enjoyed reading widely, he may have come across the stage play Night of the Iguana, in which the main character, a Catholic priest, assesses humanity with the remark, “NOTHING HUMAN DISGUSTS ME EXCEPT DELIBERATE CRUELTY.”

Had Trump read this play (or seen it) and taken this to heart, perhaps he wouldn’t have created the awful tragedy at the Mexican border. Deliberate cruelty is cruelty with malice of forethought. One has to lie awake and dream up such heartlessness. And for what? People can argue over this until the cows come home but there is no, none, absolutely not, never ever, no matter what, excuse for the deliberate cruelty he inflicted on these precious children. Jesus is watching you Mr. Trump!



John Butch Preston is a retired college English teacher living on a farm in Lawrence County. He has been published in national journals and has three books on Amazon and local book stores: a novel titled Where Everything Important Happens on a Hillside, a short story collection, Ten Miles from Clay City and Other Stories, and The History and Tales of the Paintsville Stockyard. His play Kentucky's Richest Man, the story of John C. C. Mayo recently premiered at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg. He is currently working on a new play and a new novel. Preston’s main source of pleasure is gardening.