DIY Videos: Want an oven? ‘Simple Nick’ simply shares his wisdom

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Do It Yourself Videos

A Note from Dr. Wayne Baker: This week, welcome back columnist Terry Gallagher.

DIY Videos Simple Nick shows how to make a tandoor ovenDespite the basic production values and far-out subject matter, homemade how-to videos are not only entertaining, but often very useful.

One reader of this week’s series mentioned to me that he learned to make a tandoori oven from clay pots via YouTube videos.

I’m not sure which one he relied on—there are lots out there—but this one by “Simple Nick” seems typical. Nick seems genuinely interested in offering backyard cooks an inexpensive way to make special meals involving just a few minutes work. And, Nick appears to have made this helpful video with no other ulterior motive.

A lot of the how-to videos you find on the web are not made with such altruistic motives. Online segments from the PBS series This Old House, for example, subject viewers to scads of ads and product pitches all over the screen. And other creators of the how-to videos can take advantage of the YouTube Partner Program, which “allows creators to monetize content on YouTube through a variety of ways including advertisements, paid subscriptions, and merchandise,” according to their site.

It does seem, though, that many of helpful videos are created out of simple generosity, the desire to share something useful with other people.

One of my classically educated friends says this desire to share what you know with people in the dark is the same impulse that led the Greek god Prometheus to steal fire from Mt. Olympus and bring it to shivering humans.

Stealing fire makes sense when you think of Simple Nick and his home-made tandoori oven.

SIMPLE NICK: MAKING A TANDOOR OVEN

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: You can read more than 100 of Terry Gallagher’s past columns by clicking on this link. And Please, we always invite you to comment (below) or to share this column on Facebook (use the blue-“f” icons).

Comments: (0)
Categories: Uncategorized

DIY Videos: Might there be a new life for TV French Chef Julia Child?

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Do It Yourself Videos

A Note from Dr. Wayne Baker: This week, welcome back columnist Terry Gallagher.

TV French Chef Julia ChildOnce you start looking at the range of home-made how-to videos out there, there are definitely some surprises.

One friend told me he’s signed up to receive updates whenever a retired shop teacher named Mr. Pete posts new videos on YouTube, offering instruction in how to use such tools as “the ever- popular Craftsman Atlas 12-inch lathe and the ubiquitous Bridgeport j-head milling machine.”

“He’s great,” my friend reports, “especially if you have no idea how a machine shop works, that is, how to make a wheel, a screw, a nail or a bearing.”

While I’m pretty sure that most of us are never going to make our own nails, a lot of us enjoy watching other people cook on television. That’s true even among those of us who don’t know an escargot from escarole.

Julia Child, for example, has been a mainstay of popular entertainment since her 1963 television debut preparing her recipe for boeuf bourguignon, continuing in reruns even after her death a decade ago.

The rising popularity of cooking programs and online videos proves that an activity many people consider drudgery has become a popular spectator sport, best-selling author Michael Pollan writes in his most recent book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. Pollan points out that Americans now spend an average of 27 minutes per day preparing meals, less time than it takes to watch most cooking programs. “There are now millions of people who spend more time watching food being cooked on television than they spend actually cooking it themselves.”

JULIA CHILDS MAKES BOEUF BOURGUIGNON


SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: You can read more than 100 of Terry Gallagher’s past columns by clicking on this link. And Please, we always invite you to comment (below) or to share this column on Facebook (use the blue-“f” icons).

Comments: (0)
Categories: Uncategorized

Do It Yourself Videos: Want to whistle with your fingers? Fillet a pike?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Do It Yourself Videos

You Tube video how to whistle with your fingersA Note from Dr. Wayne Baker: This week, please welcome back the popular OurValues columnist Terry Gallagher. Thanks, Terry!

After I was able to get my ancient lawnmower running again, thanks to some free advice I picked up watching how-to videos on the web, I could hardly contain myself, bragging to anybody who would listen.

The next day, I was boasting to a mechanic at my local service station; after working on my cars for years, he would be especially surprised to hear that I got a stalled motor running again.

He gave me a funny look, and said the thing happened to him. No, not a clogged carburetor, but a snapping turtle he had caught inadvertently while fishing.

Just as I did, he turned to YouTube, where he found a video of a couple of “good old boys” showing how to clean and cook a turtle. The next day, he was eating turtle soup.

Since then, everyone I’ve run into tells me about learning to tackle a new skill after watching how-to videos on YouTube.

Two different people told me they learned to fillet a Northern pike.

Another friend says he learned how to do the fingers-in-the-mouth whistle.

Last winter, I replaced burned-out bulbs in a 1970s-vintage stereo receiver, and reattached a wheel on my snow-thrower.

All of this user-generated instructional material on the web must have some economic value. At some level, people are saving money, mastering new skills, fixing old things and putting them back into service.

But what’s in it for the people who create this stuff? Is it an ego trip? Or simple generosity?

Have you ever made a video like this? If so, please tell us about it.

HOW TO WHISTLE WITH YOUR FINGERS

HOW TO FILLET A PIKE

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: You can read more than 100 of Terry Gallagher’s past columns by clicking on this link. And Please, we always invite you to comment (below) or to share this column on Facebook (use the blue-“f” icons).

Comments: (2)
Categories: Uncategorized

Do It Yourself Videos: Why do so many share so much?

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Do It Yourself Videos

A Note from Dr. Wayne Baker: This week, please welcome back the popular OurValues columnist Terry Gallagher. Thanks, Terry!

Do It Yourself YouTube video on repairing a Toro lawn mowerA few weeks ago, when the grass was ankle-high, my lawnmower wouldn’t start.

It’s a hand-me-down, a gift from a neighbor who got a better hand-me-down when his folks moved into a condo. So it’s plenty old, and was becoming more balky every time I used it, before stopping altogether.

I’m not a particularly handy person, but I started poking around on the web, and found dozens of homemade videos showing how to de-gunk the carburetor on 1970s-era lawn mowers. After a half-hour on YouTube and another one in the driveway, and with $15 spent on an air filter and a spark plug, I’m back in business.

So while saying a silent thanks to the folks who made those videos, I started wondering about the impulse that leads people to create so much useful material and give it away to the whole world for free.

It’s a subject I’ve written about here before, including a post about Sheldon Brown, the creator of a comprehensive guide on how to maintain classic bicycles. Although the site eventually brought a lot of business into the shop where he worked, Brown created it as a labor of love, a gift he gave away without thought of profit.

The guys who made the videos I watched didn’t make a cent off of me, though I certainly saved a few bucks by taking their advice.

But you have to wonder: what’s in it for them?

What motivates people to share their expertise so widely, for free?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: You can read more than 100 of Terry Gallagher’s past columns by clicking on this link. And Please, we always invite you to comment (below) or to share this column on Facebook (use the blue-“f” icons).

Comments: (0)
Categories: Uncategorized

Get Out the Vote: Why Lincoln urged Americans to vote

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Get Out the Vote
The Political Lincon an Encyclopedia

Click this cover image to visit the book’s Amazon page.

NOTE FROM DR. WAYNE BAKER—Columnist Terry Gallagher has been exploring Americans’ voter apathy and challenges to raising the level of participation.

One of the most contentious issues in Florida in the 2000 election was how to count absentee ballots from outside the country. As in most elections, most of those were submitted by overseas military personnel, presumably supporters of George W. Bush.

Problem was that many of them lacked postmarks or witness signatures or other procedural requirements, and supporters of Al Gore pushed to have the rules strictly enforced and those ballots thrown out. Eventually, the Democrats gave way, and Florida’s electoral votes, and the presidency, were awarded to Bush.

But that wasn’t the first time that soldiers’ votes played a significant role in a national election.

In 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers were far from home. The federal government pushed state leaders and military officials to make every accommodation to them to vote, either on furlough, or by absentee ballots.

And when the votes were counted, though he faced off against a popular former general who was campaigning against the war, Lincoln won “overwhelming support from the men who were faced with that grim task,” according to the encyclopedic The Political Lincoln from a piece by historian Matthew Norman. “In the states for which the soldiers’ vote was tabulated separately, Lincoln garnered over 77 percent the vote (he won 54 percent of the civilian vote).”

When the results were known, Lincoln told a crowd who gathered outside the White House to serenade him how much voting matters: “We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.”

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: You can read more than 100 of Terry Gallagher’s past columns by clicking on this link. And Please, we always invite you to comment (below) or to share this column on Facebook (use the blue-“f” icons).

Comments: (0)
Categories: Uncategorized

Get Out the Vote: How much voter impersonation is there?

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Get Out the Vote
800px-Thomas_O'Neill_-_NARA_-_182078

Tip O’Neill in his prime.

NOTE FROM DR. WAYNE BAKER—Columnist Terry Gallagher has been exploring Americans’ voter apathy and challenges to raising the level of participation.

In Tip O’Neill’s autobiography, Man of the House, he used the phrase “Chinese hat trick” to describe a form of voting fraud.

On election day, a ward boss would hire Chinese men and have them vote repeatedly under different names. “Each time they came to the polls, however, they would be wearing a different hat, the idea being that to Caucasians, all Chinese people looked alike,” according to O’Neill.

But after winning a close race for re-election to the Massachusetts house, O’Neill introduced legislation to punish that kind of malarkey.

“I didn’t like people stealing elections–and I especially didn’t like people stealing them from me!” he wrote. “The bill passed easily, and that particular brand of corruption virtually disappeared from Massachusetts.”

Yesterday’s post looked at the growing political strategy called “voter suppression,” like requiring potential voters to show a photo ID, to reduce turnout among those who are likely to oppose your candidate. The common rationale is to prevent the kind of fraud O’Neill saw in Boston back in the day.

But how common is that really, where someone shows up at the polls pretending to be someone else?

Not very, according to an analysis reported in the Washington Post last week.

Loyola University Law School Prof. Justin Levitt looked at more a billion votes cast in elections across the country from 2000 through 2014, and found only 31 credible cases of voter impersonation.

“Election fraud happens,” Levitt wrote, including ballot-box stuffing by officials in on the scam. But those methods are not going to be stopped by requiring photo IDs.

When turnout is so low already, why would we make it more difficult to vote?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS THIS SUMMER: Terry Gallagher has written about a wide range of topics. You can read more than 100 of his past columns by clicking on this link. Email us at OurValuesProject@gmail.com with suggestions for Terry. And Please, we always invite you to comment (below) or to share this column on Facebook (use the blue-“f” icons).

Comments: (0)
Categories: Critical PatriotismEqual OpportunitiesFreedom

Get Out the Vote: For some, the real goal is voter suppression

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Get Out the Vote
2000 Florida presidential election ballot and box

The 2000 Florida presidential election is now so infamous that this voting stand, ballot and ballot box from that election is now an exhibit in the state’s museum in Tallahassee.

NOTE FROM DR. WAYNE BAKER—Columnist Terry Gallagher has been exploring Americans’ voter apathy and challenges to raising the level of participation.

While many observers bemoan low voting turnout, not everybody sees it as a problem.

In fact, some political types embrace “voter suppression” as the key to electoral victory.

Their goal is not to persuade more people to support their candidate or position, but instead to discourage their opponents from voting at all.

“The tactics of voter suppression can range from minor ‘dirty tricks’ that make voting inconvenient, up to blatantly illegal activities that physically intimidate prospective voters to prevent them from casting ballots,” according to Wikipedia. “Voter suppression could be particularly effective if a significant amount of voters are intimidated individually because the voter might not consider his or her single vote important.”

Voter suppression is far more than minor dirty tricks, though. In Florida in 2000, which proved decisive for George W. Bush’s election as president, the United States Commission on Civil Rights said that “statistical data, reinforced by credible anecdotal evidence, point to the widespread denial of voting rights. . . . . The disenfranchisement of Florida’s voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of black voters.”

One of the seemingly innocuous ways to suppress voting is to require potential voters to show photo identification to cast a ballot.

So what? Not a big deal for most of us.

Turns out that studies have shown that 18 percent of all seniors and 25 percent of African-Americans don’t have picture IDs.

Do too many people vote?
Why would we make it more difficult?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS THIS SUMMER: Terry Gallagher has written about a wide range of topics. You can read more than 100 of his past columns by clicking on this link. Email us at OurValuesProject@gmail.com with suggestions for Terry. And Please, we always invite you to comment (below) or to share this column on Facebook (use the blue-“f” icons).

Comments: (0)
Categories: Equal OpportunitiesFreedom