Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Another look at that Gallup poll

I want to rewind for a moment to Monday's post. To recap, a recent Gallup poll reveals that 49% of Americans believe that the federal government has become so big and so powerful that it poses "an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens." The poll shows that 61% of Republicans recognize the threat, as do 28% of Democrats and 57% of independents.

This isn't the first time that Gallup has asked the question, of course, and I find it interesting to look back at how party affiliation has affected the results at different points in time.
In 2006, for example, during Pres. George W. Bush's second term, it was Democrats who felt far more threatened (57%) than Republicans (21%). In 2010, two years into Pres. Barack Obama's administration, the numbers flipped (21% vs. 66%).

I think we can attribute the 2011 numbers -- a 5% drop in wary Republicans and a corresponding 7% increase in skittish Democrats -- to the GOP winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Notice how disciples of the two dominant parties whip with the political wind. Independents, by contrast, are comparatively steady -- 50% of us saw the threat of big government in 2006, 49% in 2010. The jump to 57% this year indicates, at least to me, an acknowledgement of recent strides made by the enemies of Liberty.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seeds of revolution?

Gallup just released the results of a poll conducted earlier this month and, depending on one's point of view, "Americans Express Historic Negativity Toward U.S. Government" is either very disturbing or mildly encouraging.

As the report's title suggests, a record 81% of us are dissatisfied with the way our nation is being governed -- not surprising, really, since there's precious little governing going on in Washington.
That dissatisfaction varies, by party, of course -- 65% of Democrats are miffed, versus a whopping 92% of Republicans.

More striking to me, however, is that half of us see the federal government as "an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens."
Again, political affiliation (or the lack thereof) makes a difference -- Republicans (61%) and independents (57%) feel more threatened than do Democrats (28%).

It's tempting to be troubled by these survey results -- my country is going to hell in a handcart -- and leave it at that. There's another perspective, however, perhaps a more promising one.

Widespread dissatisfaction with government and recognition that Liberty is under assault could be -- could be -- the seeds of revolution. If those seeds are watered with independence, they could well take root.

Unfortunately, true independence is hard to find in today's America, and shaping opinion (which is cheap) into action (which is essential) will be a heavy lift.

Assembling revolution's critical mass will take time. Transforming a sedentary citizenry into impassioned patriots won't happen overnight, despite our wishes.

But it has to start somewhere.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Let them sell cake

Starry-eyed college students, especially politically active ones, are known for their ignorant idealism. The Berkeley College Republicans, however, just might be onto something.

These GOP Kids plan to hold a bake sale on campus this Tuesday, with "tiered pricing" meant to protest pending legislation that'd allow California's public universities and colleges to consider an applicant's race in admissions.

Predictably, reaction to the bake sale has been negative. Charges of racism and sexism (natch) are being tossed around like a tipsy sorority sister at a blanket party. In a liberal enclave like Berkeley, you'll have that.

But think about it: If a different group held a sale with similar pricing aimed at illustrating, say, economic inequity corresponding to race and gender, wouldn't left-wingers surely support it?

Of course they would. First Amendment rights, dontcha know.

Yeah, some of the satire used by the Berkeley College Republicans is over-the-top, and sure, true discrimination based on race or gender should be wholly unacceptable in our society. Still, in my opinion, what this group is doing makes a valid point and makes it well.

See, it's neither racist nor is it sexist, necessarily, to point out that a white male applying to college may need a higher GPA and a better score on his entrance exam to have the same chance at admission as do applicants that are neither white nor male.

It's not hateful to run a gauntlet of political correctness to expose this dirty little secret: a federal mandate designed to aid diversity also has diminished the value of achievement and merit.

What's more, I contend that dismissing the casualties of affirmative action is irresponsible, not to mention intellectually dishonest.

Again, true discrimination is unacceptable to me and should be unacceptable in our society -- but the Berkeley College Republicans' aren't advocating discrimination. They've simply taken a mighty swing at a sacred cow.

Judging by the hue and cry from liberal ideologues, the punch landed.

Can't lose

The KintlaLake household has a rooting interest in both of our town's high schools -- we live in the shadow of one and our 16-year-old attends the other. They met on the football field last night, just the fourth time they'd played each other.
All-day rain made for a slow track, sloppy but much better than artificial turf. The sounds of the bands, the crowd and the public-address system traveled through the heavy air to our house, as clear as if we'd been sitting in the bleachers.

Our spawn's school, always the underdog, gave its cross-town rivals all they could handle (and then some) this time, falling by just three points. A touchdown in the final minute was the difference.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mass idiocy

Elizabeth Warren, former assistant to President Barack Obama, wants to be the Democratic Party's nominee for the U.S. Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy, now occupied by Republican Scott Brown. As a committed liberal campaigning in Massachusetts, which tilts to the left, she's free to express her progressive [sic] ideology.

Take this soliloquy, delivered at a recent private fundraiser.

Warren opens by dismissing accusations of "class warfare" -- and then, with stunning aplomb, she schools us on how to wage all-out class warfare. She demeans initiative and achievement. Typical of extreme ideologues, she wants government to assume the functions of society.

Most of what right-wingers call "socialism" just isn't. This is.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sharps: A tale of two box-cutters

My new shipping-and-receiving job is going fine, thank you very much. On September 2nd I mentioned using the opportunity to justify buying a knife especially for the purpose. I ended up buying two.

The Tim Wegner-designed Blade-Tech Ratel Lite (retail $24, street $20, made in Taiwan) features a saber-ground, 1-15/16-inch leaf-shape blade of AUS 8 stainless steel. It's a lock-back, with textured scales of fiberglass-reinforced nylon and a reversible pocket clip.

The second-gen Spyderco Chicago (retail $65, street $41, made in Taiwan) has G-10 scales, replacing a now-discontinued carbon-fiber version. Its flat-ground, 440C leaf-shape blade is two inches long, held open with a liner lock. The wire-style pocket clip is reversible to accommodate either left- or right-hand carry.

Fit and finish are good on both knives. Perhaps the Blade-Tech is a touch stiffer, the Spyderco slightly smoother, feeding my perception that the latter is more refined (for lack of a better descriptor). After two weeks of hard use in the warehouse, both blades have held up well -- the AUS 8 and 440C are, I found, durable and easy to maintain.

I should mention here that the pocket clip on my particular Ratel Lite started out extremely tight -- secure is one thing, but this was something else entirely and, from what I gather, pretty common.

A short loop of paracord, threaded through the lanyard hole, was required to facilitate an easy draw from my pocket. Eventually I modified the bend of the clip by stuffing a thick stack of cardboard under it and leaving it that way overnight. That fixed the problem.

Despite having been conceived as EDC or "suit" knives that sneak under annoyingly silly "two-inch-max" laws, both the Ratel Lite and the Chicago have performed admirably for me as box-cutters. I have no complaints, practically speaking, about either.

That's not to say that I don't have a preference. Sure, it's possible to buy two Ratel Lites for the street price of one Chicago, which certainly makes the Blade-Tech the better value. But the Spyderco is the better knife, in my opinion, for several reasons.

First, I find the liner-lock quicker and more natural to use. I also like the grip -- not just the feel of G-10 slabs, but the way that my fingers index to the handle and the choil formed when the knife is open. And finally, the flat grind and thinner blade make it a better and more versatile cutter -- 1/8 inch (Ratel Lite) versus 3/32 inch (Chicago) may seem like a nit, but the 25% difference shows up big in performance.

I'll keep and will continue to use both of these knives. I lean toward the Spyderco, but your mileage (as they say) may vary.

Back to the Backwoods
One steamy Saturday three years ago, my wife and I fled a raucous gameday scene for the relative calm of the Thornville Backwoods Fest.

We reprised that trip yesterday afternoon, minus the hot weather and tailgating. (This year the Buckeyes played late, away and badly, getting spanked 24-6 by Miami.)
Our experience at the 2011 festival was virtually identical to what I described in 2008 -- wonderful.
We returned home refreshed, toting a pound of wildflower honey from a nearby village, a quart of syrup drawn from maple trees next door to the festival grounds, and a big ol' bag of fresh cracklings (a.k.a. pork rinds) cooked in a iron kettle over an open fire.

Local is best. Life is good.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Puttin' it up

While Mrs. KintlaLake was out of town on business early this week, I gathered two dozen ripe Roma tomatoes, cut them into quarter-inch slices, sprinkled them with Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy Blend and dried them in our new food dehydrator. The process, which took about 36 hours, yielded a marvelously sweet-and-savory result.

For now I've stored them in a wire-bail jar. I'm sure they'll find their way into soups and pasta dishes -- if, that is, I can resist snacking on them as-is.

This morning I picked a pocketful of yellow pear tomatoes, halved them and began drying them as well. I skipped the seasoning for this batch, and I'm anxious to see how they turn out.

I also harvested our first five habanero peppers, along with 15 long green hot peppers. Both got my refrigerator-pickles treatment, the cold brine supplemented with peppercorns and garlic cloves.

Considering the late start, damn, this has been a great season.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


In the interest of full disclosure, I skipped last night's CNN-Tea Party Republican Debate in favor of Monday Night Football. I have, however, read the transcript and I've watched some of the video.

Most interesting to me was this exchange between moderator Wolf Blitzer and candidate Rep. Ron Paul.
BLITZER: You're a physician, Ron Paul, so you're a doctor. You know something about [health care]. Let me ask you this hypothetical question.

A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I'm not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I'm healthy, I don't need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it.

Who's going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?

PAUL: Well, in a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him.

BLITZER: Well, what do

PAUL: But what he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major medical policy, but not be forced --

BLITZER: But he doesn't have that. He doesn't have it, and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?

PAUL: That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody --

BLITZER: But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?

PAUL: No. I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid, in the early 1960s, when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals.

And we've given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. This whole idea, that's the reason the cost is so high.

The cost is so high because they dump it on the government, it becomes a bureaucracy. It becomes special interests. It kowtows to the insurance companies and the drug companies, and then on top of that, you have the inflation. The inflation devalues the dollar, we have lack of competition.

There's no competition in medicine. Everybody is protected by licensing. And we should actually legalize alternative health care, allow people to practice what they want.
I'm by no means a rabid supporter of Ron Paul, but I believe that he got this answer exactly right. To explain why, first I need to draw the distinction -- as Paul did -- between government and society.

A government of, by and for The People has little interest and, in principle, no role in offering do-overs to some citizens at others' expense. Provisions for social welfare currently exist in law and official custom, and virtually all of us have been their beneficiaries, but now they're expected.

A society, in the form of individuals or communities, may choose to exercise compassion where a government should not. Charity should be the province of society -- "our neighbors, our friends, our churches" -- and not the business of government.

Laziness and complacency have transformed exceptions into crushing entitlements. At the core of the problem, as Paul correctly points out, is our collective failure to "take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves."

The Republican field is inarguably weak and Ron Paul, like the other candidates, has managed to screw the proverbial pooch in every debate. But the position he expressed last night is right on target, along with being refreshingly free of the dime-store populism that infects this GOP race.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

'The Sound of Silence'

On a day filled with poignant remembrances, the performance at Ground Zero this morning by an elderly Paul Simon -- arguably the quintessential New Yorker -- was moving, fitting, perfect.

Catharsis in the comics

In today's edition of The Columbus Dispatch, many of the regular Sunday comics commemorate, in one way or another, the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Flipping through these colorful back pages this morning, I was especially touched by several of the long-running strips, the ones that trace back to my childhood and beyond -- Beetle Bailey, Hägar the Horrible, The Family Circus and others.
Dean Young still writes Blondie, the classic 'toon once drawn by his father, Chic Young, from 1930 until his death in 1973. I have no doubt that Dad would've approved of today's strip.

September 11, 2011

Today, ten years on, I touch the memory of ordinary lives and extraordinary bravery. It's a day for honoring those who serve my community, my state, my nation.

It’s time to visit again the aching grief, to embrace my rage and to shape anger into vigilance that guards my freedoms.

Whatever else I thought I needed to say can wait until tomorrow.

Today, I remember.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Volunteer harvest

Our volunteer gourd vines started dying back a couple of weeks ago, and I finally got 'round to harvesting what they left behind.

Thirty-two "winged" Cucurbita gourds now lay drying on a newspaper-covered table in our basement. They're of various shapes and sizes, the largest measuring over 17 inches long. Most are green, orange and gold, with a few white ones in the bunch.

A middle-class perspective

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gameday recap

Yesterday's noon kickoff had Mrs. KintlaLake and me arriving on the Ohio State campus around 9am. Once there we strolled north along Neil, crossed Lane and, in a parking lot next to a venerable OSU watering hole, resurrected one of our favorite gameday traditions.

It had been three years since Danger Brothers left Lane Avenue when Hineygate, "the world's largest tailgate party," ended its 26-year run. The band played on, albeit at a tiny outdoor venue over a mile away, but pre-game hasn't been the same since.
But there we were behind the Varsity Club yesterday morning, sipping ice-cold Budweiser at an hour more appropriate to cereal and milk, digging Danger Brothers' wonderfully adolescent shtick. We'd been there less than a minute, I'd guess, when another member of the Beer-for-Breakfast Club approached me, grinning.

"You're here!" he shouted over the music, reaching to grab my hand. "My buds and me wondered if you'd be here -- I knew you would!"

I have no idea who that guy was -- and yeah, the encounter was just a wee bit disturbing -- but the spirit of Hineygate, cultivated over a generation of football Saturdays, has returned to Lane Avenue. It was like a big ol' reunion, familiar faces in a new place.

The missus and I hung around through Danger Brothers' first set so that we could extend a personal "welcome back" before heading over to The 'Shoe for another band and another reunion.
The first game traditionally hosts the annual return of TBDBITL alumni. The sight and sound of nearly a thousand bandsmen -- 225 current members and more than 750 scarlet-shirted alums -- is unforgettable, stirring our souls in ways I won't even try to describe.

As for the game, I'll cut to the chase: Ohio State 42, Akron 0. (Maybe there's a reason they're called "Zips.") The Bucks looked good, not great, and a win is a win.

My wife and I didn't see the whole game, however. We didn't even make it through the first half.

In 49 years of watching OSU play football in Ohio Stadium, I can't recall it ever being as brutally hot as it was yesterday -- upper 90s, heat index well above 110°F, stifling humidity and a smog alert.

An official went down from the heat ten minutes into the game. After the first quarter, fans started bailing down the aisles like they often do when the Buckeyes are up by four touchdowns at the end of the third. We went below shortly before halftime.

The concourse under the stands was jammed, the walls lined with people trying to cool off. Woozy patrons packed first-aid stations, with more standing in long lines awaiting medical help. Ambulances came and went like cabs at Grand Central -- hundreds of fans suffering from heat-related maladies, some reported to be serious, were transported to area hospitals. I'd never seen anything like it.

We chugged water and cuddled cups of ice for a half-hour, but we knew that if we returned to our A-deck seats it wouldn't take long for the relative comfort to broil away. Ultimately we decided to call it a (game)day.

I snapped this photo of Mrs. KintlaLake just before we walked out of the stadium. The sign means to convey that once we left, we wouldn't be permitted back in.

The double entendre, certainly unintentional, suited the occasion.

Overall it was a great day, despite the fact that we ended it utterly gassed. We still are, stumbling through the middle of our long weekend and trying to re-charge.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nine two eleven

More than two dozen tomatoes, harvested from the garden yesterday morning, finish ripening on stone windowsills in our kitchen. Over in the fridge there's a tub of chunky salsa fresca, made with home-grown tomatoes and hot peppers, along with a bowl of cucumbers-and-onions salad marinating in red-wine vinegar.
Out back, the garden is a rat's nest of ridiculously productive plants and unreachable (but harmless) weeds. Our cuke vines are withering at the base but still setting fruit, about half of it small and stunted. We'll have a modest crop of peas from a second planting. More long green peppers are on the way and, obviously, three tomato plants are giving us more than we can handle.

As I hoped, we'll have a late-season bounty of habanero peppers.

I don't recall ever being this gratified with a backyard garden. As autumn approaches and takes hold I'll clear some of the beds, prepare the soil and plant wintering crops. The cycle never ends.

Recently I did a different kind of "planting" (so to speak) that'll bear fruit after the Labor Day weekend. Although I didn't mention it here, I took a temporary warehouse job a couple of weeks ago, filling in for four days at the shop my wife manages.

To my surprise, I really enjoyed the work. Apparently I proved my worth to the rest of the crew, too, because the corporate office called Mrs. KintlaLake this week and offered me a full-time position.

My first day is Tuesday.

Such a tape-and-boxes proposition requires a proper knife, of course. I rummaged through the blades I own and didn't find what I was looking for, exactly, so (naturally) I had a good excuse to go shopping.
After surfing KnifeWorks for a while, I picked up a Blade-Tech that fills the bill. The Ratel Lite is inexpensive, small, one-handed and equipped with a pocket clip -- perfect. I'll offer my impressions here once I've used it for a week or two.

Between now and the moment I punch the clock on Tuesday, however, I'll reach down and pick up "the longest continuous thread in the fabric of my life" -- Ohio State football.

It's been a rocky off-season, to say the least, an agonizing time for life-long fans of the Buckeyes. Just yesterday, three more players were suspended for the first game.

Tomorrow, the bullshit will end and football will begin.

Life in Buckeye Nation will get back to normal. Traditions cultivated over 122 years will resume. All will be well once again.

Like a storm leaves the air clear and fresh, scandal may have stripped OSU football to its essence. We have a new coach, an interim coach, a young coach. Expectations for this 2011 team are modest. Critics are likely to be uncharacteristically forgiving.

In other words, the pressure in Columbus is as low as it'll ever get.

This is one football season that everyone should be able to enjoy. Mrs. KintlaLake and I will settle into our seats in The 'Shoe tomorrow at noon, intent on doing just that.