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Olson: Some things to talk about

I hope you’ll be seeing friends this Memorial Day weekend.

Maybe you could use some things to talk about? Here’s a few quick conversation starters for you, in between grumbling about the weather forecast (aren’t you glad you’re not camping right now?).

Walla-who?: A wallaroo went missing from its home near Kingston this week.

Willow looks like a small kangaroo. Her species is native to Australia and also very cute. Willow is 14 months old, 2 feet tall, and weighs 15 to 20 pounds. The animal belongs to Jenny Cleveland and her family.

Cleveland told reporter Dana Herra that the animal is a better pet than a dog, wears a diaper when inside the house, and if you put a pillowcase near her, Willow will somersault into it like it’s her mother’s pouch.

Cleveland said she got the wallaroo in Texas in January, and apparently there are no permits or any special considerations needed to keep one as a pet here.

As a commenter wrote on the story online: “Great, now my wife wants one.”

It wouldn’t surprise me if at least a couple of others feel the same. Let’s hope that Willow is returned to the Cleveland family, and that if others decide to adopt a wallaroo, they keep them in the yard.

I’d hate to have a bunch of feral mini-kangaroos hopping about the countryside.

From what I remember from Saturday morning cartoons, they’re dangerous boxers.

Big government idea 1: We used to be against “drunk driving.” Then it was “don’t drink and drive.” If states put into effect the proposal from the National Transportation Safety Board to lower the legal blood-alcohol content to 0.05 percent, they might as well change it to “don’t drink anything and drive.”

NTSB says that in European countries, this change has helped dramatically reduce traffic fatalities, and they think it would do the same here.

No one wants to lose a loved one to an impaired driver. I think we’re all against drunk driving.

But where’s the line? Should having a few beers and a sandwich on Friday evening after work and then driving home constitute criminal behavior?

Driving under the influence is no small-time offense.

Under the NTSB’s proposal, if you’re pulled over and be found to have a BAC of 0.06 percent, you would have your car impounded and be hauled off to jail. If convicted, you lose your license; after it’s reinstated you could have to pay for a breathalyzer you blow into before you start your car.

That’s on top of the attorney fees and court costs that usually reach into the thousands of dollars.

If this proposed change were put to a statewide vote, it would probably fail. But I doubt there will be any voting on it. If it’s passed, it will be passed by our legislature without their asking us, as was the income-tax increase of 2010.

If the Illinois legislature does decide to lower the limit – and it probably will, eventually – I imagine the Friday night crowd at Ski’s in Sycamore or Twins Tavern in DeKalb will probably be thinner. At least, until we have cars that drive themselves.

When do we get those, anyway, GM?

Big government idea 2: This one comes to you from our friendly world government, the United Nations. This week, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization proposed a solution to world hunger: Eat bugs.

What, that sounds gross? Not to the UN, which points out that 2 billion people already supplement their diet with insects, which are nutritious, with high protein, fat and mineral content – in some cases more so than diet staples such as beef. 

The report said wasps, beetles and other insects are underutilized food sources. Strictly speaking, they’re right. DeKalb County is crawling with bugs – they’re all over my windshield – and my family and I haven’t eaten a single one. At least, not on purpose.

Those folks at the UN aren’t thick, though. They know that you, I, and the rest of western civilization in generally find the idea of eating barbecued scorpions on a stick revolting.

But they figure that the food industry could help make insects more accepted as a food source by including bugs in recipes and adding them to restaurant menus.

So maybe the real solution here is for taverns to stop selling beer and start selling bugs.

On second thought, if you’re going to sell any bugs, you’ll probably have to sell some beer first.

Part of the problem: I didn’t really follow the Jodi Arias case closely as it was going on. But from what I’d read and seen, it had all the key elements of a sensational trial – sex, lies and scandalous audio.

In case you don’t watch cable TV news, Arias was convicted May 8 of killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in Mesa, Ariz., in 2008. She stabbed him more than 20 times, cut his throat, shot him. Criminal investigators call this “overkill.”

Arias’ story kept changing. She took the stand at her own trial (never, never do that) where the Maricopa County prosecutor ripped her to pieces.

A jury has been unable to decide if she should get the death penalty; a new jury will consider that in July. Arias once said she wanted the death penalty, now she’s changed her mind.

Some say the trial has been the classic example of a “media circus.”

There was a special on TV about it this week. I watched the whole thing, and I’m not sorry. It was interesting, and I’d watch it again.

In memoriam: I never served in the armed forces, but like the rest of us, I benefit from the freedoms generations of soldiers have fought and died to defend.

What’s more, I make my living from the one I consider most important – the First Amendment.

There are listings of local Memorial Day events in today’s Daily Chronicle, as well as on our homepage at, if you’re looking for a way this weekend to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Or just take the time to do so in your own way – fly the flag, say a prayer, tell their story.

• Eric Olson is the editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, email, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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