That’s Me, Mr. President, Enemy Of The American People

by Curt Kovener

Last Thursday editorial boards at newspapers across the U.S., prompted by the Boston Globe, were asked write to confront President Donald Trump for going on about “fake news” and calling the media the “enemy of the American people.”
Editorial boards are what much, much larger newspapers have. Here at the Times, like everything else, it’s up to me. I head up the editorial, circulation, ad sales, distribution & delivery departments as well as handle complaints and fix the toilet when necessary. And because of that, like many other weekly newspapers, we’re a week late joining in with our colleagues.
“Fake news,” so abstract and generally fake in and of itself, is such a convenient term for those who read news they disagree with so they call it “fake”. Take for instance the four photos on last week’s front page for those who were booked into jail and charged with possession or dealing methamphetamine. Go ahead. Ask them. They will tell you it was all made up; “fake news”.
We also publish the fake news of two county jails and fake news from two courthouses so maybe your neighbors filed for divorce and maybe they didn’t. Maybe your father sold some land, maybe he didn’t. And those obituaries we are sent by area funeral homes, maybe those folks really are still with us. But knowing the funeral directors’ personally and professionally, more than likely they are not.
“Enemy of the American people” is irresponsibly easy, because it works to whip up a bunch of like-minded yet simple-minded of our population.
Let’s see…I coached little league baseball back in the day, was on the volunteer fire department for 16 years, was an organizer of the local flag-waving Red, White & Blue Festival for a like number of years, and for going on 40 years now reported on town, school, township and county officials whose rulings impact you.
Yep…I’m an “enemy of the American people” right here in South Central Indiana
Matter of fact, I’m such an enemy of the people is why so many of you readers took advantage of last month’s County Fair subscription special where if you bought a two-year subscription, you got a third year free.
You sure showed me, readers…and please, please, keep it up.
And what really fits my cottage newspaper industry in Jackson and Scott Counties is being called a Media Elite.
Mr. President, I’m a one-man newspaper office in a one-stoplight town. I purposefully drive a 15-year-old mini SUV because 1) I fit in it, 2) it gets 27 mpg, and 3) it has 4-wheel drive—something important for where I travel and where I live out in the woods.
So when the President’s disciples who drive new pickups, HumVees and large SUVs call me elite, I don’t just chuckle…I guffaw. And it really is a side-splitter when elected officials who finance their own multi-million campaigns call me a media elitist.
Media Elite? Enemy of the American People?
Really, Mr. President?  All we do is inform the people.

Memories Are A Muse That Amuse

by Curt Kovener

(This is an encore column from the Curt Comments archives. About the only thing the editor hunts these days is for something to drink and a comfortable place to sit to enjoy it.)
The Ides of August, the 15th, is the opening day of squirrel hunting season and marks a five month or so greenflag to a variety of hunting and trapping seasons in Indiana.
Squirrel hunting was about the only thing my Dad and I did when I was real young and because of work obligations the trips were few and far between. But that made them all the more treasured.
I can remember him asking me on the evening before if I wanted to go squirrel hunting in the morning. “You’ll have to roll out of bed pretty early,” he would advise. Of course I wanted to go but the excitement and anticipation of the early morning adventure kept sleep from my eyes until very late. Then when Pop came in, shook my foot to awaken me, with a somewhat whispered “C’mon, let’s go”, I’d scramble for my hunting clothes. Which were older, ordinary playing clothes.
His wakeup drink was coffee. Instant stirred into a cup of hot water from the tap. I sort of embraced it as the drink squirrel hunters drank before heading to the woods. Now, though, I prefer my coffee brewed and set Mr. Coffee the night before to have a whole pot ready for me when I wake up early.
Pop used a 12 gauge 870 Remington shotgun and he provided his pre-teenage son with an over & under .22 rifle/.410 shotgun.
“Use the rifle first. If you miss, bust them out with the shotgun,” he would advise.
While a number of my hunting associates prowl, crawl, crouch, strain and hunker all over the woods looking for squirrel, I hunt using my Grandpa’s favorite technique: sit down amongst some hickory and beech trees, stay quite and keep looking up.
I was using that technique on one of my hunting trips with Pop. All was quiet but in the heavy dew laced landscape, I could begin hearing the light pitter-pitter-patter of pieces hickory shell being removed dentally by Mr. Bushytail. Try as I might I could not locate the rascal, and I dare not move around for fear of being spotted and freezing the squirrel’s breakfast activity and my chance of squirrel & dumplings for supper.
Still hearing the pitter drip of cuttings hitting leaves, I continued to look all around for the source. Suddenly, a couple of drops of dew hit the back of my neck. Looking far upthe tree canopy was the bushy back side of the subject of my attention.
Still seated I leaned one way and then another trying to get a bead on his head. Finally tuckered from all of the contortions and straining, I laid back flat on the ground to rest.
And there was Mr. Squirrel in full plain view.
As I drew up with the .22, he continued his game and to toy with my affection when he made an abrupt 180° turn and all I could see through the leaves was squirrel butt.
I had had it. I wasn’t waiting any longer and I wasn’t going to take any chances. I clicked the gun down to the shotgun side.
Laying flat on my back I drew a bead just a little north of the rear end I saw, took a breath, let it out and squeezed the trigger.
The squirrel was rolled out of the hickory and dropped with a dull thud just a few feet away. But I never saw it.
I learned a painful lessons of physics and shotgun kicks while braced against solid objects.
But the soreness in my shoulder quickly eased when Pop came over as I was picking up the squirrel. He held up the two he had bagged and, using my left arm, I held up my one and we knew what was on the supper menu that night.

Thoughts On Education

by Curt Kovener

Students are heading back to school so it is an appropriate time to turn the podium over to Prof. Ron Atkins for some of his collected quotes on the subject of education for our youth, our parents, our legislative leaders…and the rest of us, too
•At its best, schooling can be about how to make a life, which is quite different from how to make a living
~Neil Postman
•Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.
~Bob Talbert
•Only the educated are free.
~Epictetus
•Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.
~G. K. Chesterton
•An educated man is one who can entertain a new idea, entertain another person, and entertain himself.
~Sydney Wood
•The responsibility for producing an educated citizenry is too important to be left entirely to educators. Education is everybody’s business.
~Thomas J. Brown
•The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.
~Alice W. Rollins
•You can pay people to teach, but not to care.
~Marva Collins
•Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.
~Jacques Barzun
•They say what you don’t know won’t hurt you—and some of us haven’t felt a twinge of pain in years.
~Fletcher Knebel
•There is nothing more powerful than ignorance, not even intelligence.
~Lillian Smith
•Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
~Samuel Johnson
•The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions.
~James Russell Lowell
•Man’s most human characteristic is not his ability to learn, which he shares with many other species, but his ability to teach and store what others have developed and taught him.
~Margaret Mead
•Educators should be chosen not merely for their special qualifications, but more for their personality and their character, because we teach more by what we are than by what we teach.
~Will Durant
•Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.
~Carl Jung
•Good teachers cost a lot, but poor teachers cost a lot more.
•Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theatre.
Gail Godwin
•Everything works when the teacher works. It’s as easy as that, and as hard.
~Marva Collins
•Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.
~John W. Gardner
•No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.
~Lady Montagu
•Children have a lot more worry about from the parents who raised them than from the books they read.
~E.L. Doctorow
•Please remember these two difficult truths of teaching: 1. No matter how much you do, you’ll feel it’s not enough; 2. Just because you can only do a little is no excuse to do nothing.
~Susan Ohanian
•America’s future will be determined by the home and the school. The child becomes largely what it is taught, hence we must watch what we teach it, how we live before it.
~Jane Addams
•One of the chief hindrances to decent education in America today is the overloading of our schools by placing on their shoulders responsibilities which in other times and other countries have, as a matter of course, been assumed by the home.
~Bernard Bell
•Most schools have more assistant coaches than assistant principals.
~David Byre

Hemp Should Be A Hoosier Crop

by Curt Kovener

As reported on the front page a bill being studied this summer by the Indiana legislature could allow southern Hoosier farmers to grow a new crop: industrial hemp. The bill, authored by Rep. Jim Lucas of Seymour, passed the house earlier this year and was gaining support in the Senate when Gov. Eric Holcomb gave a thumbs-down further consideration
Like the baby with the bath water, hemp, and its much more popular cousin marijuana, were made illegal in the 1930’s. More on that in a bit.
What is industrial hemp? A variety of the cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3% tetrarahydro-cannabinol (THC) concentration. THC is the chemical that provides the drug effect of marijuana where its concentration levels generally range between 5% and 20%, although higher concentrations occasionally occur.
To say another way, hemp is near beer to marijuana’s moonshine.
Perhaps it might be easier to view the differences between hemp and marijuana like we view sweet corn and field corn. Both of the corns are in the same biological family but eating the former is more tasty than the latter even though young immature field corn can be substituted on the dinner plate. It just lacks the sugar content and is a bit more al dente.
Industrial hemp is a fiber-producing agricultural crop that is grown in more than 30 countries throughout the world, including our neighbors to the north, Canada.
Industrial hemp is visually distinguishable from marijuana because of the purposes for which it is grown. Industrial hemp, grown for its long, strong and light fibers, is a single stalk often reaching a height of six feet or more. Marijuana plants are shorter and bushier with numerous branches with unfertilized flower clusters where THC is accumulated.
Marijuana is not self-pollinating. There are male and female marijuana plants. Pot growers will pull up and discard the male plants. The remaining females are longing for love and male companionship and as a result, their unrequited flower buds attain a higher level of THC.
Hemp and marijuana will cross pollinate but when they do, the marijuana’s THC is dramatically reduced. And that is not what the grower or the consumer are seeking.
The fact that the plants can cross pollinate could make the illegal marijuana growers some of the more vocal opponents of legalizing hemp because it would decrease the buzz of their buds. Remember that the next time someone opposes its legalization. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are looking out for the community’s morality or your children’s interests.
And from a marijuana control perspective, what better way than to let nature take its pollinating course?
Up until 1937 hemp was used for rope, sail and tent canvas, writing paper, clothing and other fiber. Hemp seeds can be crushed into an oil which is used for cosmetics and medicinal applications.
For a historic perspective, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. Jefferson used hemp paper for the first several drafts of the Declaration of Independence.
Given the many uses of hemp and the fact that it does not contain a significant quantity of the psychoactive THC, one wonders why its production was and continues to be prohibited in the United States. It is apparently the result of a combination of factors which converged in the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. At that time, the outlawing of substances to protect the morality of the America public was being pushed by crusading elected officials and religious leaders.
(Remember, prohibition didn’t work so well in America…except for organized crime & bootleggers.)
But there may have also been more personally profitable motives for outlawing heemp.
Newspaper magnate William Randolph Heart supported making hemp illegal for his own financial purposes. At that time, the Hearst empire included large tracts of forest that provided wood pulp for the newsprint used by his and other newspapers. Hemp has the advantage of growing faster and producing more paper per acre than trees. Fearing hemp-based paper could give his competitors an advantage and make his forestland less valuable, Hearst editorialized for making marijuana and hemp illegal.
With the current tariffs on wood-based newsprint, a Hoosier hemp newsprint manufacturing plant could be a homegrown answer leading to jobs and a market for Indiana farmers growing hemp.
The eventual decriminalization of industrial hemp at the federal level appears to be inevitable. Kentucky has already put into the bluegrass state’s laws the right to raise hemp.
The Bluegrass Commonwealth, a state considered backwards by some Hoosiers, is more than six years ahead of Indiana in the legalizing and growing hemp. Kentucky farmers are growing hemp for seed, oil and fiber and are developing markets for their product. That should rather make Hoosiers reconsider which state is really backwards.
The question facing the summer study committee and the Indiana legislature is whether Indiana should be positioning its farmers to take advantage of a new opportunity when it becomes available, or should we continue to ban the production of a beneficial and potentially profitable crop because of out-of-date misconceptions and prejudices.

It’s Now The Law; Don’t Cross The Color Purple

by Curt Kovener

As of July 1, Indiana landowners have a new way to mark property for no trespassing— with purple paint. This is good news for those of us who dwell in the wilderness.
Owners of private property are now be able to exchange damaged or stolen “No Trespassing” signs for a line of purple paint with the Purple Paint Law. This is according to the House Enrolled Act 1233 which allows Hoosiers to mark their property and prohibit trespassing by marking vertical purple paint lines on trees or fence posts.
The idea is to have a quick and easy fix for property owners besides putting up the normal “No Trespassing” signs. There are requirements to how the purple line must be placed though.
If you paint a purple line on a tree, that is the same as saying no trespassing. So you no longer have to post no trespassing signs. But it has to be visible and a purple line.
Purple painting property owners need be aware that some spray paint will fade over time. If marking a tree, you are painting a living thing. With growth and weather, the color made fade or change. Tree marking paint specifically designed for the forest industry may be a better, longer term bet. The law does not specify what shade or purple—violet, lilac, fuschia, deep purple.
The law says that any purple mark must be a vertical line of at least 8 inches in length. For trees, the bottom of the mark needs to be at least 3 feet but not more than 5 feet from the ground. Marked trees may not be more than 100 feet from the nearest other marked tree.
Purple marks can also be on any fence post as long as the mark covers at least the top 2 inches of the post. For fence posts, the bottom of the mark needs to be at least 3 feet but not more than 5 feet and 6 inches from the ground. A marked post cannot be more than 36 feet from the nearest other marked post.
Instead of putting up a sign, which can get ripped down, shot or destroyed in some other way, lawmakers think that by painting a purple line everybody will understand.
But will color blindness be a credible defense by trespassers?
Perhaps for urban dwellers, a new purple color scheme will be decorating the neighborhood.

Is That REALLY What They Meant?

by Curt Kovener

Newspaper headlines are meant to sell the story and prompt the reader to read it. If they can be they should be witty, creative, perhaps punny but above all truthful & accurate.
But sometimes in our quest to get you to read our story, headline writers try to sell you on reading the story but on second look, you have to wonder what they were thinking…if they were at all.
Here are some examples of editors getting caught with their headlines down; a bold-face botch with a red-face result.
•Grandmother Of 8 Makes Hole In One
•Veterinarian Testifies in Horse Suit
•Two Convicts Evade The Gallows; Jury Hung
•County Officials Talk Rubbish
•New Housing For Elderly Not Yet Dead
•Farmer Bill Dies In House
•Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
•Queen Mary Having Bottom Scraped (they were referring to the ship…I hope)
•Women’s Movement Called More Broad-Based
•Antique Stripper To Display Wares At Store
•Meat Head Fights Hike In Minimum Pay
•City May Impose Mandatory Time For Prostitution (are we talking about employee benefits?)
•Stud Tires Out
•Planned Parenthood Looking For Volunteers
•Child’s Stool Great For Use In Garden
•Judge To Rule On Nude beach
•Police Help Dog Bite Victim
•Dealers Will Hear Car Talk Friday
•Enraged Cow Injures Farmer With Ax
•Miners Refuse To Work After Death
•Juvenile Court To Try Shooting Defendant
•2 Sisters Reunited After 18 Years In Checkout Counter
•Killer Sentenced To Die For Second Time In 10 years
And in the painfully obvious department:
•Expert Says Something Went Wrong In Jet Crash
•Foul Play Suspected in Death Of Man Found Bound & Hanged
•Blind Woman Gets New Kidney From Dad She Hasn’t Seen In Years
•Local Couple Found Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
•U.S. High Schools Require Some Study For Graduation