Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The ink is dry -- we're officially (and irrevocably, if we choose) "in contract." The home inspector arrives Friday afternoon. One hurdle down, one to go.

After working hours today we met our realtor at a cheap Tex-Mex joint for dinner, chat and a few more signatures. On our way back to alcohell we detoured past the new place -- four times -- and cruised the surrounds to sample village life on a mild spring evening.

Some of the locals were ambling, with and without dogs, along nearby sidewalks. Others bicycled or jogged. The adjacent city park, with its creek, pond, covered bridge and ball fields, was seeing its first real use of the season.

Even though the snow melted long ago, we know a great sledding hill when we see one.

What we witnessed was as distant as can be from sterile suburban life in a planned development. It was wonderful.

This will be our village. These will be our neighbors. Quiet as the evening was I felt vibrancy, a living community we'll soon call home.

If I can't have my cabin in the mountains -- and I can't, by the way -- this is where I want to be. This is it.

Awaiting dry ink

That elderly homeowner rejected our offer. We countered. She turned us down again. We stayed in the game.

By 9pm last night my wife and I were seated at our realtor's dining-room table, thoroughly exhausted, signing a stack of papers. At last we'd come to terms.

Our search for a new place to live has ended. We have an address.

There are a couple of hurdles yet to clear. First, the seller could reconsider before putting pen to paper -- unlikely, but we'll know by 5pm today. And then there's the home inspection and the myriad issues it'll surely uncover. The way we look at it, we already know what most of those issues are -- the inspector simply will tell us that they're worse than we thought.

We've agreed to be undeterred without being stoopid.

At this moment it's hard to resist being excited and still easy not to be completely overjoyed. The burden is easing but hasn't yet lifted from our shoulders.

If all goes well, though, we'll celebrate by dancing around a Maypole.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Today, maybe? Please?

We walked away from one unproductive attempt to find a new place to live and, the very next day, we took a run at another.

The owner turned us down flat -- no counter offer, nothing.

Fast running out of affordable options, late yesterday afternoon we visited a quaint ranch-style house near the center of our village. It's almost 60 years old, owned by an elderly woman who's lived there almost since the day it was built. Her infirmities keep her house-bound these days, so she was there to greet us for the showing.

She didn't serve us milk'n'cookies or anything, but if she had it would've fit right in with setting and the mood.

The house, consistent with its age and considering that its occupant hasn't been able to keep up with maintenance in recent years, has its issues. It's also reminiscent of the mid-1950s house in which I grew up -- lots of built-ins, period fixtures and knotty-pine paneling.

Adding to the structure's charm is its location. It's situated just off of the village's main street, backing up to parkland and less than a block from the festival grounds. Every hometown holiday parade goes right by the front door. If it were to pour rain on Election Day, we could walk to the polls and not get very wet.

For our younger spawn, the parks-and-recreation department offers a BMX setup within sight of the back door. For my wife and me, the village coffee shop is a five-minute stroll away.

Mrs. KintlaLake and I submitted an offer last night, with eyes wide open to the property's fixer-upper condition. We're told that we'll get the owner's response, one way or the other, sometime this afternoon.

We're weary of this process and pressed by the need to escape our current situation. We remain hopeful, but our hope sure could use a boost. It'd get a big one with a simple "yes" later today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

'A closing of the conservative mind'

In a recent post I observed that the current incarnation of the Republican Party "discourages true independence." Shortly after that I presented David Frum's wise, clear-eyed criticism of GOP tactics.

As if to underscore, late last week the American Enterprise Institute, conservatives' flagship think-tank, fired resident scholar Frum.

Any questions?

Reacting to Frum's public execution, TMV's Joe Gandelman said,

"'s Republican party increasingly seems dominated in terms of tactics, strategy and rhetoric by the 24/7-rage-required talk-radio political culture which puts a premium on personal attacks, over-the-top polemics, cherry picking or misrepresenting facts, demonizing and defining those with whom they disagree, and above all trying to discredit those who have different ideas and solutions rather than focusing relentlessly on the ideas and solutions they considered flawed."
This from John McQuaid of True/Slant:
"...the terrible economic conditions and the historic political cycle, both of which point to significant GOP gains in the 2010 elections...have masked and even exacerbated the ongoing intellectual disarray on the Right. Frum is one of the few conservatives who sees rather clearly that the Right's current agenda is outmoded and self-destructive, and he wasn't shy about saying so."
Bruce Bartlett now makes his home at Capital Gains & Games. Speaking from personal experience, he sees Frum's dismissal as yet more evidence of
"...a closing of the conservative mind. Rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed, and the conservative brain will slowly shrivel into dementia if it hasn't already."
And The Daily Beast's Christopher Buckley, who echoes his father in both style and substance, said,
"It is not for the likes of me -- non-intellectual, and post-partisan -- to tell AEI how to handle its resident scholars. But the teapot having been heated, let me now drop in my leaves and say that it strikes me that AEI has not burnished its reputation as a center of right-intellectual thought."
Buckley put a bow on his opinion by reaching back into an address to the United Negro College Fund, delivered by a right-wing Mr. Potatoe Head from another era:
"As Dan Quayle once put it so well, 'What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is.'"
The Democratic Party has its own problems, different problems, as do enclaves across the ideological spectrum. In almost every case, as McQuaid points out,
"...I'd wager that most of the people in these institutions don't think anything -- internally, anyway -- is amiss."
The conservative establishment, which these days bears a striking resemblance to the movement's mindless extremes, reacts to truth by shooting messengers, and indeed that may be the best way to hang on to wingnut donors. The fact remains, however, that the emperor is buck naked.

By averting its eyes, the conservative movement -- as it exists today, at least -- assures its ultimate demise.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


"The nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools." (often attributed to Thucydides)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Walking away

After three weeks of waiting for word on what I'd called "a promising attempt to secure a place of our own," late yesterday my wife and I chose to walk away from the deal. Since we'd heard virtually nothing from the other parties, we decided that it was time to move on.

We also dismissed our realtor who, to our amazement, responded with a childishly unprofessional outburst. I'll chalk that up to youth, inexperience and the fertility drugs she says she's taking.


So at 11am today, Mrs. KintlaLake will meet up with an old friend, a woman who also happens to be a realtor, to resume the hunt.

"From now on I have only one job," she said to my wife on the phone last night. "It's my life's mission to find your family a home."

Because those words came from a friend and not some hucksterish stranger, we take a measure of encouragement. That feeling joins mixed emotions percolating here this morning -- disappointment and optimism, weariness and confidence.

We're fine and we will be fine. Finding a place of our own simply is going to take a little longer, that's all.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Telling tactic

A reader observed that pointing out the former Mayor of Wasilla's use of crosshairs might have been, let's say, a bit hyper-sensitive of me. I'll explain my perspective -- and I'm going to take the scenic route, so bear with me.

The first rule of survival, I believe, is this:

Know where you are.
Fixing our position, even generally, is essential to choosing tactics in a survival situation. Conversely, being oblivious to location and surroundings can reduce our chances of getting out alive.

It's a principle with parallels. During the American Revolution, for example, the British made a famously bad tactical choice. Retreating from the Battle of Lexington and Concord, their red coats made them easy marks for the upstart colonists, who picked them off from the cover of walls and hedges, hillocks and houses.

The British failed to recognize where they were -- and in that time and place, the nature of warfare had changed. They ignored their surroundings. They didn't survive. They lost the battle and the war.

While we must use observation and discretion to choose our tactics, our objectives need not change -- to survive in unfamiliar woods, win a war, stay married, impress the preacher, get a raise, buy a car. Achieving those objectives, however, absolutely depends on our ability to adjust our approach as circumstances change.

In everyday life it's easy to spot folks who can't or won't adapt -- the guy who jabbers about old girlfriends on a first date, the woman who wears a low-cut blouse to an executive job interview, the kid who doesn't grasp the connection between a messy room and privileges curtailed. Obviously, those are poor choices.

More than that, they speak to the person's judgment (or lack thereof). They are, to use a term of tactical art, tells.

So now, finally, we come to Caribou Barbie's crosshairs.

Her objective, presumably, is to attract and keep followers. Her political surroundings won't allow her to achieve that objective by relying on rabid conservatives alone -- if she's to become more than a novelty, she must choose tactics that appeal to independents.

The current climate among anti-Obama right-wingers -- her immediate surroundings -- is one of anger, some of it now expressed in the form of death threats, destruction of property and yes, there are allegations that some lunatic discharged a deadly weapon into a campaign office.

In that context, the tactical choice to use rifle crosshairs to highlight vulnerable incumbents is, in my opinion, a reflection of lousy judgment. It may not alienate ideologues and entrenched partisans but for independents, those of us who actually think about such things, it's a tell.

It doesn't make a bit of practical difference, by the way, whether this PAC-rat doesn't know where she is or simply doesn't care. And really, considering her dubious track record it could be either. In terms of judgment, it's the same tell.

Some say that politics, sports and life are full of metaphors like target, reload, bomb, blast, fire and shoot from the hip -- and I say that's
beside the point. If it weren't, we wouldn't wince when we hear someone say "ground zero" flippantly in reference to anything but a sacred place in New York City.

Words matter. Symbols matter. I don't insist on manifest political correctness but I do demand sound judgment and critical thought.

The former Mayor of Wasilla has shown me neither. Those crosshairs are just the most recent tell.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nutjobs will kill The Revolution

The enactment of health-insurance reform has put the lunatic fringe on public display, with all of its full-frontal stupidity.

More than a dozen pro-reform Dems have received death threats. Rocks and bricks have been hurled through legislators' windows, one member's community storefront got an envelope of white powder and another's campaign office caught a bullet.

And guess which dead-from-the-neck-up Denali Diva is using crosshairs to identify the most detestable Democrats?

This goes well beyond what the media are calling "incivility." No one should confuse what's happening with respectful dissent or time-honored civil disobedience. This is the work of nutjobs who do for "citizen" what 18-year-olds do for "adult."

You say you want a revolution? If this keeps up or even escalates, the nutjobs will kill The Revolution.

Reacting to these frothy fruitcakes, here's a voice of reason:

"...I've been very clear about this idea of...making the changes at the ballot box, getting people registered. I think, frankly, anyone who crosses the line in suggesting vandalism, or certainly any sort of death threats that may indeed happen, just completely wrong."

"...the large number of people that I deal with...will ostracize anyone who is on the fringes...and they will remove them from their relationship...I think people largely embrace the idea, let's have the revolution, but let's do it in November at the polls."

"...we won't accept and tolerate this kind of action by any of our members...we will make our voices heard at the polls."

"I think when you look at...the actions that we've seen thus far, unacceptable. Completely unacceptable."

"...let's...make sure we distance ourselves from these actions. And...let us be very clear, very clear that when we take our actions, let's take it by registering people, getting them out to vote and changing Congress at the ballot box."

" cannot make them look better by making us look bad. The focus really needs to be on attacking the issues. I will not attack the individual. I will attack the issues all day long and be able to make the case."

Who said that -- a Republican? Perish the thought that Boehner or McConnell or Coburn or Cantor would sprout balls big enough risk alienating their precious base of talk-radio robots. Could these so-called "leaders" look any more like trembling sycophants?

No, those reasonable
words were spoken this morning by Mark Skoda -- founder of the Memphis Tea Party and an organizer of last month's national Tea Party convention.

You read that right -- Tea Party.

I retract nothing I've
said about the Tea Party, but I'll confess that Skoda -- who probably wrangles an even nutjobbier base than the GOP does -- has made me stop and think.

[insert pause for thought here]

You say you want a revolution? Well, just for starters, this blogger wants a helluva lot fewer enraged entertainers, brick-hurling wackos and keyboard commandos.

They ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow.

Buzz killed

Our host-tormentors are back.

We weren't expecting their return until late tonight, but for some reason they infiltrated our temporary island of sanity during the wee hours this morning. We spotted their suitcases behind the living-room couch just a few minutes ago.

My family and I, after a blessed break from my mean-spirited mother-in-law's constant drunkenness and her husband's raging mental instability, are fine. And while we aren't able to grin at them knowing that we'll be leaving this dysfunctional place in the next week or two (that process isn't going as quickly as we'd hoped), we took full advantage of those 15 days to regroup and recharge.

We have deep reservoirs of clarity, integrity, strength and peace that they can't fathom and will never know.

As ever, our spirit thrives.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pricing a freedom

Although the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions guarantee certain rights, they don't promise that I'll be able to exercise those rights without writing a check.

In Ohio my right to keep and bear arms is, for now and for the most part, assured. Carrying a concealed handgun, however, currently is considered a privilege and requires a state license. Here's a quick calculation of the price tag:
  • Certification course: $100
  • Ammunition: $48
  • Application & background check: $67
  • Photograph: $10
That comes to $225. Accounting for otherwise-unnecessary travel to class and the county sheriff's office (twice) bumps it by another thirty bucks or so. And since I'll be moving shortly after getting my permit, soon I'll make another trip to visit to the sheriff (about $10 travel) and pay a change-of-address fee ($15), raising the total to $280.

Past the classroom, the range, the gas, the background check and the wallet card are other outlays. Carrying concealed means having something to carry (check and double-check) and a way to carry it -- more than one way, actually, since I'll carry year-'round in various attire. I figure I'll spend another $150 to $300 on concealment holsters.

There's also regular, purposeful practice, naturally, which means paying range fees and buying ammo but hell, I'd be doing that anyway.

So the grand total -- exclusive of firearm, magazines, carry ammunition and practice -- will be somewhere between $430 and $580. That's the price of admission for carrying my handgun concealed in The Great State of Ohio.

Please don't ask me if it's worth the money -- of course it is. We can discuss whether concealed carry should be every citizen's right and not a privilege granted by the government, but status quo the required training is worthwhile and the fees are anything but onerous.

Besides, it costs what it costs.

Insights from Frum

Conservative writer David Frum's take on the passage of health-insurance reform is making waves across the political landscape. I present his commentary here, unabridged.


Sunday, March 21, 2010 -- Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.

It's hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they'll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections. But:

(1) It's a good bet that conservatives are over-optimistic about November -- by then the economy will have improved and the immediate goodies in the healthcare bill will be reaching key voting blocs.

(2) So what? Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now.

So far, I think a lot of conservatives will agree with me. Now comes the hard lesson: A huge part of the blame for today's disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama's Waterloo -- just as healthcare was Clinton's in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise -- without weighing so heavily on small business -- without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994-style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the "doughnut hole" and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25-year-olds from their parents' insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there -- would President Obama sign such a repeal?

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or -- more exactly -- with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?

I've been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters -- but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say -- but what is equally true -- is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed -- if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office -- Rush's listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.

So today's defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it's mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it's Waterloo all right: ours.

( is "dedicated to the modernization and renewal of the Republican party and the conservative movement." David Frum, its editor, was a speechwriter for Pres. George W. Bush and is the author of The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush.)

No elephant in the room

Take a look at that photo of the signing ceremony held yesterday at The White House. What's missing?


Health-insurance reform got not a single GOP vote in the House, so no one should be surprised at the event's Democrats-only guest list. Still, the imagery is unusual.

Students of atmospherics know that political victors go out of their way to include collaborators from "the loyal opposition" in such a tableau. It simply wasn't possible this time -- without exception, Republicans closed ranks against the legislation.

Democrats point to the photo as further proof that the obstructive GOP is "the party of no." Republicans insist that they were locked out of the process months before the shutter clicked, blaming Dems for ram-rodding reform over the objections of the People.

Both are right; both are wrong. Neither side is capable of overcoming shameless self-flattery, thus neither is justified in pointing accusatory fingers across the aisle.

Intellectual honesty moved out of Washington long ago and left no forwarding address.

For independent citizens, the photo symbolizes partisan idiocy. It's the funeral portrait of collaboration, documenting The
Big Lie of Bipartisanship.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is health-insurance reform unconstitutional?

That question is being answered in the affirmative by opponents of the law signed today by Pres. Obama. Conservative talk-radio is buzzing. Attorneys General in 14 states have announced their collective intent to undertake a legal challenge.

This particular batch of sausage (a.k.a. "legislation") was fugly, more so than usual, and both sides share the shame. National polls show considerable disapproval of the new law, most of it willful ignorance brought on by Republicans' disinformation blitz.

On its face, it doesn't seem quite right that our federal government will force individual citizens to buy health insurance, does it? States traditionally have regulated insurance, but now the feds seem to be horning-in on sovereignty. Entitlements? Don't get me started.

Back to the question: Is health-insurance reform unconstitutional?

We don't know. Nobody does -- yet. It's likely that nine citizens will answer for all of us.

Randy Barnett of The Washington Post
laid it out well:
"Ultimately, there are three ways to think about whether a law is constitutional: Does it conflict with what the Constitution says? Does it conflict with what the Supreme Court has said? Will five justices accept a particular argument?"
The original question is overly simplistic. Barnett's explanation is, by contrast, refreshingly simple. The next steps, over our opposition or advocacy, will be neither.

I hate to burst bubbles, but we don't live in a democracy -- we live in a representative republic with democratic moving parts. As such, we elect (democratically) our states' representatives, who make law. We elect (democratically, Electoral College notwithstanding) a President and Vice President. The President nominates justices to the Supreme Court, who (after confirmation by our representatives) decide what's constitutional and what's not.

That's the process. That's the way it works. It's why we awoke today to health-insurance reform as the law of the land and why we'll have no direct, democratic say on the question of its constitutionality.

We get the government we deserve. All contentions to the contrary -- well, now that's unconstitutional.

Monday, March 22, 2010

'Training scars'

That SWAT sergeant who worked with me on the firing range yesterday brought up the subject of "training scars" after our group finished a shoot-on-the-move exercise. He commented that several of us had carried direction from an earlier drill into that one -- returning to chest-high ready or low ready after each double-tap.

In a controlled live-fire environment, there was nothing necessarily wrong with that tactic. Our instructor cautioned us, however, against developing habitual range sequences that we'd transfer to a dynamic, life-and-death encounter. More than one cop, he noted by way of example, has paid a high price for the "scar" of re-holstering reflexively after firing -- before neutralizing a real-world threat.

They fought like they'd trained -- and, it could be argued, their training habits cost them their lives.

An awareness of "training scars" isn't unique to my instructor, of course. Here's a brief, invaluable
video in which Larry Vickers talks about reloading.

We'll fight like we've trained, scars and all -- truly we have no choice in the matter -- so we'd better train like we'll fight.

Naval Jelly

I broke through the rust yesterday. This time I have no targets to share, only my impressions of a most positive experience.

On a spectacular early-spring Sunday, I joined 25 other students at a small gun-rod-bow club in the wooded hills 15 miles southeast of here. We spent 12-plus hours in classroom instruction and live-fire sessions, guided by three active-duty law-enforcement officers.

I was fortunate to do much of my range work under the hand of the county sheriff department's SWAT commander, quite the teacher. His good-humored insights eliminated my head-scratching, and by day's end I was putting defensive rounds on target with deliberate speed and confident accuracy.

Practice is essential, but inevitably our skills suffer when we breathe only our own fumes. As I've said before -- and as I was reminded again yesterday -- professional training makes all the difference.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rusty slapping

This is what rust looks like.

A long-overdue trip to the range yesterday produced four targets, including this 45-round example at extended personal-defense distance, exposing a variety of flaws with grip and technique -- notably trigger-slapping and anticipating recoil.

I'll never be a competition-caliber shooter, thanks to a physical condition that saddles me with essential tremors. Because I live in suburbia (and will for the foreseeable future), I'm not able to stroll out my back door and log trigger time whenever the spirit moves me.

All the same, a pursuit of mastery makes no excuses. My limits are givens but my rust is unacceptable.

Yesterday's range session is behind me. Today, in an all-day class, I'll be getting a lot more trigger work and playing for something more valuable than table stakes. By tonight I'll know whether or not my rust affected the result.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Deemed disarrayed

After shining much-needed light on Republicans' smoke screens, this seems like the right time to quote Will Rogers:
"I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat."
From then 'til now and forevermore, the Democratic Party is the quintessential circular firing squad. The moment that Democrats awaken to find themselves in the majority, they pull out their self-sabotage checklist, fragment into feuding factions and sprint away from whatever it was that swept them into power.

I'm independent, by no means rooting for dominance by any political party, but for some reason it irks me that Democrats could FUBAR a free lunch.

While the GOP feeds and waters its white-rural-conservative-evangelical-NASCAR base, Dems like to tout the diversity of their "big tent." The result of doing business under a big tent is, naturally, a circus, a left-of-center political party that stands for so many things that it stands for nothing at all -- not the Constitution, not the rule of law and not the best interests of this country.

(Don't get cocky, Republicans -- your party serves us no better.)

Democrats try, incredibly, to convince us that their disarray is proof that diversity is their strength. That doesn't quite explain why they're still scrambling for votes on health-care reform, forced to use a procedural device to give it a snowball's chance of passing.

It's entertaining, at least to me, to see a political party crippled by the same force that can save our country -- independence, which is poison to partisans and the lifeblood of patriots.

We know how important "
other" voters were to the outcome of the 2008 presidential election, for instance, and our numbers continue to grow at the expense of the two dominant parties. Now the People must start choosing other candidates, too. Once we do we'll rebuild our nation on a firm foundation.

The Republican Party, the present-day equivalent of the
Thought Police, actually discourages true independence. There's no place for it under the Democratic Party's tattered tent, either.

And that's just fine. We know who we are -- independent American citizen-patriots, holding fast to our principles but rejecting ideologies, bound to country before party, cherishing liberty and defending freedom, the Constitution our platform -- and we don't need a political party to define us.

We, the People, already have a home.

MAC Madness

My Ohio team is the Buckeyes, not the Bobcats, but last night the kids in green-and-white did me proud, reminding me why The Big Dance is so compelling.

Check out that photo -- D.J. Cooper of 14th-seeded Ohio U looks like a scrawny junior-high benchwarmer walking up the court next to gazelle Greg Monroe of Georgetown, which was seeded third.

Obviously, the boys from the small Midwestern party school would be no match for the bigger, stronger, pro-style Hoyas. In the end, as expected, the game wasn't even close.

Final score: Ohio U 97, Georgetown 83. Wait -- say what?

In the NCAA basketball tournament, a team that couldn't even rise to .500 in its own conference can catch fire at season's end, sweep through the MAC field and send an iconic East Coast program packing after one round of dancing.

That's why I watch. That's why they play the games.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Deemed duped

The Democrats are adept at squandering every advantage, going so far as to eat their young -- that's not exactly a news flash -- but I've also noticed that the Republicans are especially good at bleeding off credibility they can't spare.

Let's review.

Sen. John McCain, while campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination, repeatedly criticized Democratic Party frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama for being unacceptably young and inexperienced -- and then he chose Caribou Barbie as his vice-presidential running mate.


Speaking of the former Mayor of Wasilla, during a public appearance in which she sneered about Pres. Obama's use of a TelePrompTer, we caught her peeking at crib notes scribbled on the palm of her hand.


And now the minority party is shame-shaming the Dems for using something called "deem and pass" -- a procedural maneuver that relieves legislators of the burden of casting yea-nay votes on controversial measures -- to aid passage of health-care reform. Looking past Republicans' camera-ready displays of righteous populism, however, we see that the GOP has, over the years, employed "deeming" nearly three times as often as Democrats have.


All this from the party that lost one election and now deems the result "tyranny."


Republicans deploy their smoke screens daily, intent on distracting the People from substantive issues -- and yet so many of us buy what they're selling, the whole vaporous bill of goods.

Look, I don't respect any elected official who dives for cover at the first sign of political difficulty, but that's not the point here -- it's not even part of the point. If it were, we'd get just as riled if deeming were used to help pass, say, gun-rights legislation.

You know damned well we wouldn't. Whatever it takes, right?

When distractions are introduced into a debate, both the message and the messenger lose credibility. And when we adopt an irrelevant party line to validate our own position, we've been had.

We admit to being the soft-headed fools they think we are.

The way I see it, the only plausible explanation for Republicans constantly trying to divert our attention with chaff like "scheme and deem" and "socialized medicine" is that they don't have enough juice to win on substance -- and that's no news flash, either.

It's not about deeming. The process isn't corrupt -- the messengers are corrupt and, whenever we allow them to dupe us, so are we.

Lessons from fortune

Invited to a fancy corporate soirée in New York City a dozen years ago, not long after separating from my first wife, I was paired with a female companion, a complete stranger. It wasn't a blind date, really, just the merciful act of mutual friends who didn't want to see either of us wandering the social wilderness alone.

The classy divorcée had quite the personal history. As the ex-wife of a well-known corporate baron -- I'm not going to expose him here, but he's done numerous television commercials for the company which bears his name -- she wanted for nothing. "Rich" would be an understatement.

Despite her material wealth, I found this woman personable and refreshingly unpretentious. Over the four hours we spent together I watched her show genuine interest in others, listening more than she spoke. We had a great time, at one point fleeing the Brie-and-Chablis crowd for the relief of a nearby dive serving fat burgers and Rolling Rock in long-neck bottles.

My most vivid memory of that evening is the way that my companion handled herself with partygoers (often drunken ones) who sought to pry into her private life. When conversation revealed that she split her time between homes in San Francisco and Melbourne, for example, she was asked, "Where do you get the money to do that?"

Her reply was simple. "I'm very fortunate."

When pressed, she'd smile and repeat the humble assertion.

"I'm just very fortunate."

Maybe her divorce decree prohibited her from divulging the source of her wealth -- I don't know and it doesn't matter. I mean, court orders haven't stopped others from yakking about taking former spouses to the post-marital cleaners.

No, my sense was (and is) that I was seeing the essence of a remarkable person. I took her lessons.

I gain nothing, ultimately, from vindictive words and deeds. Trying to impress others is little more than puffing hot air into my own ego. Being interested is more productive than being interesting.

I haven't seen this woman since but I'll never forget what she taught me by her example.

I consider myself very fortunate.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ridin' around with Bubba

As my family and I pulled out of a local restaurant's parking lot last evening, the amber "check engine" icon began glowing on the instrument panel of my Chevy TrailBlazer -- no reason to panic, of course, just something to notice.

I reached for the rearview and pressed the OnStar button. A few seconds later a person named John answered, asking how he might assist me. He tapped a keyboard while I explained the appearance of the light, and then he put me on hold for a half-minute or so.

When OnStar John returned to the line, first he confirmed my exact location -- and I mean right down to the off-ramp that I was taking at the time -- before telling me that the exhaust-gas monitor in my vehicle's emissions-control system triggered the dashboard alert. He suggested that I attend to the problem within the next seven days, even volunteering to connect me immediately with my dealer.

I politely declined his offer, thanked him and said goodbye.

As for the emissions-system bug, I'll chase it myself before calling a dealer. I've already connected my
CarChip, setting it to extinguish the idiot light. If and when the fault recurs, the indispensable gizmo will record the OBD code, arming me with knowledge to present to a mechanic (if it even comes to that).

Often, I've learned, these are nothing more than electro-mechanical hiccups, transient glitches
that pop up and then disappear. We'll see.

And then there's that whole I-know-where-you-are thing.

"The past was dead, the future was unimaginable." (George Orwell, from 1984 Part 1, Chapter 2)
Now I'm not one to walk around in some paranoid Orwellian fog -- I embrace technology's risks as well as its gifts. It can be disconcerting at times, but we coexist with "Big Brother" every day. Everything we do can be monitored; our every move can be fixed and followed.

Sure, my mail goes to a post office box. I know how to interrupt power to my truck's OnStar and EDR systems and I can disable or confuse my mobile phone's tracking features.

I also know that for those of us who want to enjoy the benefits of this tech-thick society, attempting to live life completely "off the grid" is, at best, a fool's pursuit.

Don't kid yourself -- it's way, way too late for us to waste time trying to "disappear." We'd be wiser, in my opinion, to spend our energy learning what ol' Bubba knows about us (and how He knows it, and whom He tells) than on trying to prevent Him from finding out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Doing harm, not good

If you Google "pro-gun quotes" you'll get nearly 1.5 million hits. Most of those pages catalog rhetorical support of a citizen's right to keep and bear arms, including statements attributed to the Founders.

Problem is, a whole lot of those quotations are either mis-attributed, manufactured or just plain bogus. Take this one, for example, seen on t-shirts being sold last Sunday at a local gun show:

"'Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.' (Thomas Jefferson)"
There's no evidence of Jefferson ever having said or written that. They're the words of John Basil Barnhill, spoken in 1914 during a series of debates on socialism. Here are two variations of another oft-quoted non-Jeffersonism:

"The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it."

"The people will not understand the importance of the Second Amendment until it is too late."

Also bogus, those words first appeared in print -- get this -- in 2007, at the end of Matt Carson's On a Hill They Call Capital: A Revolution is Coming. I suppose that shouldn't surprise us, since Carson apparently misspelled "Capitol" in the title of his own book. (I also wouldn't be shocked if he'd consider me "elitist" or "intellectual" for pointing that out. Considering the source, I can live with the insult.)

Jefferson isn't the only Founder in the game, of course. George Washington didn't sleep in as many places as is claimed, nor did he say anything remotely resembling this:

"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty's teeth and keystone under independence. The church, the plow, the prairie wagon, and citizen's firearms are indelibly related."
And James Madison didn't say this:
"The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned."
There truly is no end to what folks will invent to validate what they believe. Constitutionally, it's the flip-side of what a Texas dentist (and member of the state's school board) did recently, ignoring the words of Jefferson in order to support his view that the First Amendment doesn't establish separation between church and state.

You'll find no more committed defender of the Second Amendment than this blogger. I also know that American gun owners constantly battle the perception that we're backward belly-scratchers who couldn't use a dictionary even if we managed to hold it right-side-up.

Unfortunately, attributing a bunch of bogus quotations to the Founders -- who, by the way, gave us plenty of bona fide statements to use in support of Second Amendment rights -- only serves to reinforce our image as an armed horde of illiterate ignorants.

Passion is no excuse for dishonor. Think about it -- aside from what others may infer about our collective intelligence, what are we saying about our integrity?

Knowing that I'm throwing myself in front of a runaway train, I'm on my knees here, begging: Stop making shit up, People!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Double celebration

Since in my youth I played my fair share of organized basketball, you'd think I'd follow (and perhaps blog about) hoops more than I do. I guess I'm just more of a football fan.

I should be ashamed of myself, however, for waiting 'til now to mention this year's fifth-ranked basketball Buckeyes -- 26 wins, conference champs in both the regular season and the Big Ten tourney, and the inspiring story of Evan Turner. Now Buckeye Nation celebrates a #2 seed in The Big Dance.
Across the room here, my wife is smiling, too -- coach-alum Bob Huggins led her 27-6 Mountaineers to the Big East crown. Like Ohio State, seventh-ranked WVU earned a #2 seed in the field of 64.

And so it's a great sports day in the KintlaLake household -- especially since the Buckeyes and Mountaineers wouldn't play each other unless both escape their regions and make the Final Four.

'All the Roadrunning'

Occasionally I allow my world to go silent, retreating into work and thought, leaving the salve of music on the shelf for a while.

In more than two dozen hours on the road with my family recently, no one turned the radio on. Hundreds of CDs are still packed in boxes from our last move and nearly two thousand digital tracks await browsing on my PC. My twelve-string guitar sits idle in a corner.

Yesterday I reached for the radio in my truck.

At that moment, as often happens, I picked up a musical thread and followed it. The end of that thread happened to be Mark Knopfler's "All the Roadrunning," the title track of the 2006 CD recorded with Emmylou Harris.

It's a pensive ballad about the life of traveling musicians, something with which I have at least peripheral experience. Knopfler's lyric drives much deeper, however, reaching the drone and hum of our own lives, punctuated by risks taken and instants that sparkle, and the resigned satisfaction with the destiny each of us chooses.

A million miles our vagabond wheels
Clocked up beneath the clouds
They're counting down to show time
When we do it for real with the crowds
Air miles are owing but they don't come for free
And they don't give you any for pain
But if it's all for nothing
All the roadrunning has been in vain

The rim shots come down like cannon fire
And thunder off the wall
There's a man in every corner
And each one is giving his all
But this is my piper, this is my drum
So you never will hear me complain
And if it's all for nothing
All the roadrunning has been in vain

All the roadrunning

Well if you're inclined to go up on the wall
It can only be fast and high
And those who don't like the danger soon
Find something different to try
And when there is only a ring in your ears
And an echo down memory lane
Then if it's all for nothing
All the roadrunning has been in vain

All the roadrunning

The show's packing up, I sit and I watch
The carnival leaving town
There's no pretending that I'm not a fool
For riding around and around
Like the pictures you keep of your old wall of death
You showed me one time on the plane
But if it's all for nothing
All the road running, it's been in vain

I've a million miles of vagabond sky
Clocked up above the clouds
And I'm still your man for the roaming
For as long as there's roaming allowed
There'll be a rider and there'll be a wall
As long as the dreamer remains
And if it's all for nothing
All the road running, it's been in vain

All the roadrunning

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A few words from the father of
the First Amendment

Mr. President

To messers Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.


The affectionate sentiments of esteem & approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful & zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more & more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th. Jefferson

(Read more about Thomas Jefferson's "Wall of Separation Letter" at


The public tug-of-war over revisions to social-studies textbooks used in Texas schools, a battle waged between conservatives and liberals on the state's board of education, is over for another ten years.

Left-leaners wanted to see diversity, racial balance, more attention to cherry-picked civil liberties in the curriculum -- status quo on progressive steroids. Right-wingers, citing a "liberal bias" brought on by a "secular onslaught," sought to rehabilitate capitalism, cast our nation's founding as based on Christian fundamentalism and present conservative principles in a more flattering light.

With Republicans outnumbering Democrats 2-to-1 on the board, it never was going to be much of a contest. And this is Texas, after all, so take the pulse and do the math -- the final vote was 10 to 5, predictably along party lines.

It's worth noting that during days of discussing the future of texts on economics, history and social studies, the state board consulted no economists, no historians and no sociologists. This was purely an ideological fight, characterized by the dominant conservative bloc as a high-stakes struggle against persecution by liberals.

That would explain a) why Faux News gave it such heavy coverage and b) why the proceedings produced these gems from victorious board members:

"I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state. I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution."

"Let's face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation -- y'know, 'capitalist pig!'"

"Sociology tends to blame society for everything."

"Somebody's gotta stand up to the experts."

Because the win went to the right, Texas textbooks will soft-peddle McCarthyism and highlight the Black Panthers. Say hello to the 1980s conservative movement led by Phyllis Schlafly and Newt Gingrich, and say goodbye to Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation between church and state."

And so on.

For a moment, let's set aside the victor-vanquished aspect of The Texas Textbook Wars and think critically about what really happened.

Clearly, both the liberal and conservative factions were obsessed with indoctrination over education, operating from neo-political absolutes instead of attending to the interests of the students they serve. Bound by their social, religious and economic agendas, they corrupted the process.

That process, no matter which side won, is guaranteed to produce more ideologues -- the last thing that Texas (or this country) needs.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is Glenn Beck crazy?

Probably -- well, maybe.

Beck strikes me as an intelligent loon, navigating this world in the wake of personal trauma -- like Jack Cafferty with a better haircut, Nancy Grace with something relevant to say. Passion is his currency.

This recovering addict and latter-day Mormon [sic] is fragile, fractious, self-effacing. He highlights scars rather than hiding them. He plies his trade in conservative media, but his libertarian leanings distinguish him from the rest of the über-right FOX-and-talk herd.

Although I don't follow Beck closely or make appointments for his commentary, I find myself agreeing with much of what I hear him say. He's fundamentally an ideologue, however, so he's prone to self-sabotage. His credibility suffers almost daily from incendiary, where-the-hell-did-that-come-from statements that win share and lose me.

Recently he's become the butt of jokes over an ad that's run during his Faux News broadcast. Here's the
clip, followed by the satirical genius of Stephen Colbert.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Survival Seed Bank
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations

Now that's nuts.

My own preparedness bent is no secret to readers of KintlaLake Blog. I'm a big believer in practicing sustenance gardening and stockpiling seeds, but I know a scam when I see one.

I apply the same filter to Beck's commentary, judging some of it smart and some of it unprocessed crap. The key is recognizing the difference. (Not having a weak mind keeps fearmongers at bay, too.)

Yes, Glenn Beck may be crazy -- but (with apologies to the Piano Man) it just might be a lunatic we're looking for.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Squeeze, pain & tough choices

Parents and school-age kids in Kansas City, Missouri know what it feels like to be squeezed.

The Kansas City public schools, fast running out of money, last night decided to close 29 of its 61 schools beginning next fall. Its 18,000 students will be portioned among the schools that'll remain open. The district also will slash about 700 of 3,000 jobs, 40% of those cuts in teaching positions.

Vacant school buildings in KC, Detroit and communities across the country are monuments to overspending in the face of a shrinking tax base. Urban flight, home foreclosures and high unemployment have reduced revenue, while districts have continued to buckle under pressure to build more, bigger and grander facilities that declining enrollment can't support -- and which, in the end, have had little constructive effect on education anyway.

Now, even knowing the pain brought on by the squeeze, the worst thing we could do is try to reopen shuttered schools any time soon. Without money to pay for them, that would postpone rather than prevent the inevitable. It'd probably make things even worse.

KC's public school district did the right thing. There should be no federal or state bailouts. If Kansas City wants more than 32 schools, then its citizens need to bear the tax burden of supporting them.

As I typed that I could hear so-called "fiscal conservatives" cheering. I wonder if they could hear me laughing.

Present-day conservatism advocates reducing spending and promises lower taxes -- a contradiction that fuels economic train wrecks like the one in Kansas City. (At least fiscal liberals are consistent, if patently irresponsible, in inflating both entitlements and taxes.) Conservatives are quick to support closing schools and gutting social programs, but they blink when asked to let a big bank fail.

Hold the principle, pass the bailout. Extra debt on the side, please.

This capitalist perversion is the punch-line of fiscal conservatives' inside joke. The rest of us say, straight-faced, that mismanagement is mismanagement, whether it afflicts an automaker, an insurance company or a school district. An economic crisis exacerbated by declining revenue and overspending must be attacked from both ends -- increasing taxes and cutting services or, in the commercial sector, raising prices and reducing costs.

Does it hurt? Absolutely -- and it's the only way to clean up the colossal mess we've made. Suck it up, People.

But what about those kids? Crammed into classrooms with too few teachers, without the extracurricular activities that help develop well-rounded young citizens, won't the children suffer?

If we, as parents and communities, do nothing differently, of course they'll suffer. We can't make tough choices without accepting the consequences.

Wait -- did I say consequences? For those who rely on schools to educate and raise our children, consequences may be the right word. Some of us, however, see it as an opportunity to do more of what we've been doing -- or should have been doing -- all along.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Revolution

No doubt about it, The United States of America stands in desperate need of change -- revolutionary change.

We don't need regressive change. The wish to "return to (whatever)" is misguided and, by definition, backward. The Revolution must take place in this time, this place, moving forward.

We don't need simple-minded change. This is an irreversibly complex world turning in an undeniably complex age. Every citizen is entitled to participate, but not every citizen is qualified to lead.

Opinions, which easily can inflame a mob, are barely sufficient to inform a vote. Public service of the sort required by The Revolution must be informed by critical thought.

We don't need ideological change. Patriots, not partisans, will save the Republic. Devotion to dogma isn't devotion to country. Incurable ideologues must be exposed and dispatched lest they poison The Revolution.

We don't need social change. A society is a rich mix of heritage and faith, traditions and values, beliefs and experiences. A nation is society's governance, and while it exists in the context of social change it must remain separate, distinct.

Social, religious and commercial agendas, however grounded in pure intent, have no place in a nation's revolutionary change.

Recognizing what The Revolution cannot be is crucial, because these days The People are mired in confusion.

We see foolishness and call it courage. We condemn intellect. We toss around epithets like "socialism," "fascism" and "tyranny" without the faintest clue about what we're saying.

We're not ashamed of our ignorance.

We vilify the last President and sanctify this one (or vice versa) for the same acts. A nutjob with a gun and an Internet manifesto murders innocents and becomes a martyr. We don't know the difference between opinion and principle, politics and governing, celebrity and conviction.

Worst of all, extremists are considered revolutionaries. Nothing strays farther from revolution than extremism. The moment that extremists take the helm, The Revolution is dead in the water.

The Revolution must come from The People, not from the fringe.

True revolutionaries, thinking citizens moved to action, must step forward from The People. Until that happens, The Revolution sleeps.

Two years in the shower

Turning the calendar from February to March last week reminded me that I began KintlaLake Blog two years ago this month, and I started thinking about how I'd characterize what's appeared in this space.

I'm a wordsmith at play and KintlaLake Blog is my backyard swingset. It's more journal than magazine, more mirror than soapbox. I share my words with you but, like that solitary
trek from Kintla Lake over three decades ago, I do this for myself.

Yesterday it hit me -- for 24 months I've been singing in the shower.

If you're reading this, by the way, I guess it means that you're hanging out by my bathroom window.

Honestly, it doesn't matter to me if anyone else likes the music. Audience or no audience, I plan to keep singing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Welcome, peace

Our hosts left for Port Columbus airport early this afternoon. An atmosphere of hatefulness left with them, to be replaced by whatever my family and I choose to create -- which will be, I expect, 16 days of peace that simply can't exist while they're here.

My father-in-law, the bitter and unapologetically impotent enabler of his wife's daily drunkenness, cornered Mrs. KintlaLake last night for a round of ritual belittling. His parting shot to his daughter was, "You all need to move out of here as soon as possible."

She's no longer cowed by the old man's relentless antagonism -- none of us is. We're not ungrateful, either, but we're past feeling obliged to demonstrate to his satisfaction that we're grateful enough for having his roof over our heads.

As we prepare to make tracks toward sanity we'll be neither bum-rushed nor intimidated. Right now, in fact, we're in the strongest possible position.

If only he knew.

Today we await the outcome of a promising attempt to secure a place of our own. Everything is set except the other parties' agreement, and we should get word on that within the next week. The hoped-for formalities would be another week or so after that.

If somehow this one doesn't come together, we'll keep looking, confidently, as before.

But with just a little bit of luck, when our host-tormentors walk back through this door two weeks from Thursday, we'll be able to greet them with knowing, suitably righteous smiles.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Nominee

I don't watch awards shows -- not the Grammys or the Tonys, and not last night's Oscars. I was pulling hard, however, for one of this year's Academy Award nominees in the "Documentary Short" category.

The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant, co-written by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, who also directed the film, chronicles the final days of a factory in Moraine, Ohio, 80 miles west of where I'm sitting right now. As I've mentioned before in KintlaLake Blog --
here, here and, by reference, here -- it's the plant that built the 2005 Chevy TrailBlazer that I drive every day.

Moraine Assembly was shuttered two days before Christmas 2008.

Of the film's nomination, co-writer Bognar said, "It's very bittersweet. We're very honored, but I would happily trade the nomination, or even an Oscar, for people to have their jobs back. So I think we both carry a complicated bunch of emotions.

"I want to stay grounded in the reality of this: the only reason we're getting this great honor is because something really terrible happened in our community."

An excruciatingly relevant story, no matter how well it's told, doesn't guarantee a statuette, and The Last Truck didn't win the Oscar. Still, I want to honor it -- along with all of the displaced Moraine workers, my neighbors -- in this space.

Sharps: Shadow Tech Talon B

When I go to a gun show I don't go shopping for guns. Generally I don't come home with any ammo, either. But just as I did almost two years ago, when I went to last weekend's gun show on the west side of Columbus, I picked up a new knife.

It was a purposeful purchase -- for business reasons, actually, I sought an affordable small blade that was handmade locally. Among the limited choices, what I ended up getting was a
Shadow Tech Talon B. Here are the specs and measurements:
  • Overall length: 7.0625"
  • Blade length: 3.1875"
  • Blade thickness: 0.1875"
  • Blade width: 1"
  • Blade tang: Full
  • Blade steel: 1095 @ 59-60, coated
  • Blade grind: Hollow, sharpened swedge
  • Blade pattern: Spear point
  • Handle: Cocobolo, brass pins
  • Sheath: Kydex with multi-position belt loop
  • Price: $65.00
I'll be candid here -- out of the box, the Talon isn't a particularly good knife. Geometry of the too-thick blade is poor, in addition to being roughly ground and crudely coated, and it doesn't cut worth a damn.

The performance of the Talon is hamstrung, I think, both by its geometry and by the Ziebart-grade coating. Eventually I was able to strop the edge to where it was acceptably sharp, if not ideally so, but the blade desperately needs to be stripped and re-profiled.

The portly wood handle fills my large hands nicely. I can't help wondering if the slabs are unreasonably thick, though, and they certainly add weight to an already heavy (albeit well balanced) knife.

After all that, the Kydex sheath is a pleasant surprise. It's decently made with good retention in all positions. I like that it offers a range of practical ways to mount the belt loop, as well as providing hollow rivets for lashing the sheath to gear.

Shadow Tech aims the Talon at the personal-protection market, and the sheath carries the heavy knife well horizontally on the belt in the small of the back. For now I've settled on horizontal carry in front (right-handed cross-draw, to the left of the belt buckle).

In concept the Talon B has promise, but not without some changes.

Reducing the thickness of the blade by 33% (to 1/8") would be a good place to start. It'd make the knife much lighter and (with thinner handle slabs) far more manageable.

The coating and the "sharpened" swedge have to go, of course. And although I'd prefer either a flat or convex grind, the current hollow would be okay if done properly.

Don't touch the sheath.

That's not asking much -- just attention to details and a focus on performance -- but it's the small things that make a big difference.