The Big Ten Gets Underway

The Big Ten looks like it is in for a very interesting year.  After one week of conference play, there are a few surprises.  Four Big Ten teams — Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Ohio State — haven’t lost a game this season, and two other teams, Iowa and Wisconsin, are 4-1.

Denard Robinson

It seems odd to say that an undefeated Michigan team is a surprise; after all, Michigan is the winningest college football team of all time.  Denard Robinson, however, can only be said to have put up shocking numbers on offense.  His extraordinary output has allowed Michigan to overcome what appears to be a pretty weak defense and keep the wolves (or perhaps Wolverines) from the door of beleaguered coach Rich Rodriguez.  Michigan State — particularly its win over preseason Big Ten favorite Wisconsin — also has been a surprise.  We’ll find out soon enough which team can keep it up; the Wolverines and the Spartans play each other this week at The Big House in Ann Arbor.

At the other end of the league, Minnesota’s bad start may have finally made Golden Gopher supporters rue the day Glen Mason got fired.  Penn State fans have to be disappointed in their offense, which has struggled to score points and been held to a field goal apiece by Alabama and Iowa.  Indiana, which comes to the Horseshoe to play Ohio State this week, is almost Penn State’s exact opposite.  The Hoosiers have scored points in bunches behind a passing attack that currently ranks fourth in the nation, but it has given up points in bunches, too.  Denard Robinson took advantage of that propensity to pull out a last-second win last week.

College football is a lot of fun to watch, and the Big Ten this year is especially unpredictable.

In A Survivalist Mode

In the United States, we’ve always had people who believed everything was on the brink of going to hell.  Like Burt Gummer on Tremors, they have lived armed to the teeth, stockpiling food, water, and other supplies, building fallout shelters and safe rooms, and maintaining a state of catlike readiness for the inevitable and rapidly approaching nuclear war, plague, terrorist attacks, or complete breakdown of social order.

Lately it seems like this attitude is becoming a bit more . . . mainstream.  According to the NRA (and you would think it would know) gun ownership in the United States is at an all-time high.  Gold prices, too, are surging, and at least some of the buyers seem to be motivated by a belief that gold coins will serve as a kind of ultimate currency in the event civilization collapses.  If you listen to AM radio, you will hear advertisements for companies that sell survivalist-type products and services, like emergency food supplies and kits.  One such company will sell you a lightweight backpack stuffed with two weeks supplies of food, emergency heat sources, and other essentials.  In classic American fashion, the emergency food supplies include things like lasagna and beef stroganoff, and the website pictures show the food presented on attractive plates, complete with linen napkins and a sprig of garnish — not what you would expect to find on hand when gangs are looting a lawless countryside or ashes from a nuclear exchange are raining down on the just and unjust.

What can we make of this trend?  Some people clearly are very worried and they want to be ready in the case of catastrophe.  Companies recognize there is a market for survivalist products and are exploiting it.  And the rest of us will just have to figure out who among our neighbors — like Burt Gummer — has had the foresight and fortitude to prepare for the ultimate survivalist challenge when the worms beneath us finally go on a rampage.