Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January 17 Links

Oh I'm so chuffed...in addition to today's two rants I squeezed in some paid activity and finally squeaked back into the backlog of e-mails! I've not caught up yet, but I'm gaining on it at last! Categories: Animals, Appalachian Studies, Family, Food, Fun, History, Obamacare, Phenology, Politics, Television.


Cats get a separate post in honor of Tortie Tuesday...Last night I planned to post something in behalf of cats who've survived "declawing." Petfinder didn't show any of those unfortunate cats up for adoption, so today's cat post features long-haired white cats, which also have more than their share of special needs.


Appalachian Studies 

Oh, wow..."One Hundred Days in Appalachia." Are we about to be better represented to the rest of the nation, or worse, than ever before? First of all, do these people realize that Appalachia is one town?



Although Shaunti Feldhahn is talking about any kind of relationship whatsoever with the Kindness Challenge (you can practice appropriate forms of kindness toward other drivers on the highway), this link is especially for a man who, though generally regarded as sane in other ways, thought he could compete with my Significant Other while neck-deep in family relationships. (I mean the one who travels with that son who's so close to that stage of life that I didn't want to be a stepmother to, all these years. No teenaged boy needs a stepmother.) "I'm divorced, been divorced for years...I just spend all my time with my children and in-laws from this marriage in my past." No, brother-in-the-faith. You are estranged from your wife. You still belong to a family that includes her. Your task is not to replace her with someone who has no place in your family, but to reconnect to your wife and restore her rightful place in your family. Whether or not other women "like" you (as a neighbor, why not, you're well preserved and solvent and competent and all that) is irrelevant; nobody else can marry you, because what God has joined together no other woman can put asunder. There are deeply dysfunctional, irreparably broken marriage. Yours is not one of them. You just need to build a bridge. So you should take the Kindness Challenge and reach out to the woman who was, and still is, and always will be your wife.


Would you like to read more about this idea?

Food (Yum) 

Cheesecake-flavor M&Ms totally don't appeal to me. If they appeal to you, you probably want to enjoy them while you can. If so, here's a gluten-based, sugar-loaded, buttery and generally sinful cookie recipe:


Here's one about really natural food. Maple syrup can be made wherever a maple tree grows, but in many of the United States the sap rises before March...when we tapped a tree we used to drill during a long, warm January thaw like this one, then sit through the next freeze and collect the rest of our share of the sap during the February thaw. That's not the hard part. Even hauling 5-gallon buckets of maple sap (which is mostly water, and equally heavy) through the snowy wooded hills is not the hard part. The hard part is getting all that sweet-smelling steam out of the house. It has to boil for several days before a 5-gallon bucket of just slightly sweetish water turns into a thin, light syrup. (And when it starts to look remotely syrupy, it has to be watched closely because it now has a high enough sugar content to scorch.)

The payoff? Although other maple trees are traditionally considered to produce an inferior grade of syrup relative to the Sugar Maple, "inferior grade" in this case means more of a mapley flavor, less similar to white-sugar syrup. Not only can Southerners make our own maple syrup; some of us nowadays think ours tastes more interesting than the Vermont and Canada products.


The box elder is a wonderful tree...when young, it's likely to be dug up because it looks like poison ivy. If you don't panic and allow it to grow up, it will eventually produce satisfactory maple syrup. A native plant, it grows fast and stabilizes the soil on sloping soil as well. Mini-thickets of box elder sprouts can look like an infestation of poison ivy (and have been known to shoot up in the middle of one) before the young trees crowd each other out and the strongest start to look like real trees. After the second year they no longer look much like poison ivy...as the tree grows its leaves may branch out from having three forked-edged leaflets to having five or seven leaflets on each leaf stalk...but in the Blue Ridge Mountains poison ivy has evolved an astonishing resemblance to box elder sprouts.

By Agnieszka KwiecieĊ„ - Nova at pl.wikipedia - Transferred from pl.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=629554


What's a spoon counter and how do you add one to your blog?


Thanks to this graphic artist, Berrien Lucius / Mew, for the link, and for sharing these clever cartoons:



This post is not fun, particularly; it claims to be one of the last of the World War II memoirs. Cracked was a parody magazine. Cracked.com is a writing site that does not limit itself to comedy, and this post does not read like comedy or parody--although some of the memories the writer shares are bizarre.



A. Barton Hinkle summarizes the ongoing dispute about how to replace Obamacare. It doesn't sound good, because I don't see nearly enough about cutting out the useless fat--the insurance racket--and funding the actual costs of successful medical treatments only. (I think we-as-a-nation should consider defunding any unsuccessful treatments. Doctors should get a trade-off: if e.g. you-the-doctor fail to ask whether a patient like my father, who may look more something else than Irish but is Irish-American, has a common Irish gene that causes the patient to have a probably-fatal stroke within a day after any use of a full anesthetic, and the patient is therefore unable to pay the actual cost of the operation, you can't be sued (and the outraged relatives have to prove criminal negligence).



This pretty picture of blue sky worked reasonably well for this computer. Alabama logged an afternoon high of 75 degrees Fahrenheit...I'm not surprised. By now the thaw has inched its way up to Virginia and yesterday's afternoon high was 66, which felt balmy. And for most of the day it wasn't even raining...although today it's raining again. It's like the rain clouds are trying to make up for all the rain we didn't get in October. I think we've had one rain-free day in 2017.



Calling all wonks...Cabinet confirmation hearings in the Senate. Even while living in Washington I never sat through this kind of thing on live TV but I do think it's cool that you can.



I can't watch the video, but I read a summary on Grassfire (unfortunately without a permalink). This is so unbelievably tacky. Right. Plus this post if you agree: Steve Harvey is an excellent TV host. Repeat: Excellent. (Yona being a total SH fan, Steve Harvey is one of the few "new" TV people I've watched enough to evaluate...I would seriously compare him with Alex Trebek.)


Should this one have a hashtag? What about #ExcellentTallGuy ? (His height's as relevant as his color, right?)

Christian Rant with Unsubtle Hints About Funding

Am I ever longwinded today...I think I've got "blogorrhea." Here's another comment that outgrew the Link Log.

I have one quibble with this Christian rant. (Maybe if I were a left-winger's teenaged offspring I'd feel "triggered" to rush to a safe space and curl up and wail; since I'm a writer I feel "triggered" to add a rant of my own.)


It does not recognize, within itself, the seed of elitist bigotry against those who have less--that is, if I really want to believe that God is good and life is fair and people can earn whatever they want, then when I meet someone whose life is obviously not fair I'm going to have a need to suspect that that's the person's own fault. If the person did something and didn't get paid for it (which is my own personal story) that's because the person "should have" done something different--like knowing in advance that that person wasn't going to pay, or knowing about a loophole in the law that that person could exploit, or whatever; I've heard that many times from certain crippled members of the Living Body of Christ--"crippled" here meaning "in some way unable to give up fast food and cable television in order to support any good work that either individual Christians or their churches are doing." Or, if the person is unable to work, that's because the person "should have" been in a different place at a different time, or maybe chosen different ancestors in order to have been born with different genes. We have to beware of this line of thought, because what goes around comes around...the Bible says that God hears the curses of the widow and the fatherless, and I personally, being both widowed and fatherless, wish anyone who's blamed me for having been cheated out of money the full experience of losing everything and everyone they care about, most particularly including their health.

But, as far as +Andria Perry went in what she wrote...she's right. Someone else's having something is not the reason why you don't have the same thing, or better. If you personally agreed to do X in exchange for Y and your complaint is that a specific rich person is still clutching that Y that s/he owes to you, then you have a right to say that, e.g., Arvind Dixit should be foraging in dumpsters if he wants to eat until he's paid what he owes you. I have a right to say that, and I also have a right to say that my husband's estate, considered separately from me if the state of Maryland didn't want to recognize our marriage, owed me more than his estate was even worth and his ex-wife should have been put to work on a chain gang to make up the full amount. And anyone who wants to educate me after the fact about all the holes in the laws of Maryland that I learned about only as a widow should be required to study Maryland law, at their own expense and as a full-time occupation, until they've come up with a way to reimburse me.

(And, by the way, when women marry rich men for their money...there's no need to assume that the relationships were abusive in order to imagine that those women well and truly earned their money. Most of those men were ill before they died. Being a sick person's private "caretaker" is hard work. Not being that is a load of guilt that may be even worse than the work in the long run. But even when widows weren't their departed husbands'--or wives'--private nurses, another thing that's hard to imagine is to what extent they made it possible for the rich spouse to earn, keep, and invest as much as s/he did. My husband earned much more money than I did, but I was the one who gave him odd jobs after he'd gone bankrupt, so that he was able to earn that money!)

Otherwise...Joel Osteen has a big house because he's written a lot of books that a lot of people have bought. Has that done you or me any harm? No; if anything he's put some money into circulation so that it might, if we happened to be in the right place, have done us some good. Why waste any time or energy resenting him? If you find his books helpful, buy them, and if not, don't buy them; why blame him for the fact that a lot of people choose to buy his books? You could use the energy to write your own book.

I've never found it difficult to understand jealousy of someone's attention or affections, or competition to do something better than someone else. I can sort of imagine that someone telling a member of his virtual congregation, "I wouldn't send money to Joel Osteen, because he already has more than you have," might be motivated by jealousy or even honest disagreement more than by envy. I don't, however, get the point of a lot of the envy people express.

I think the whole Trump tribe come in for a lot of envy--and easy to hate though Donald Trump is, envying his money is hating him for the wrong reasons. He made that pile of money by doing some things that were unethical, yes, and also by doing some things that were legitimate and reasonable. He did not prevent other people from doing the same things, good or bad.

Paris Hilton may be an idjit and the whole Kardashian clan may be tacky and Nancy Pelosi may go down in history as the cheerleader for the worst single piece of legislation in the history of the English-speaking world, but does that mean they should give away all their money? Hello...none of them is all that stupid.

I'm all in favor of the thought pattern that goes "The best-selling book, record, fad item, whatever, has generated enough revenue for the celebrity author, musician, designer, whatever already. I'll buy the best-selling book secondhand and pay the full price for a new copy of this other book by this unknown, deserving new writer." That does make sense...but it's about supporting the person who you believe has done something to earn a little more, not hating the person who already has a little more.

I'm also all in favor of the thought pattern that goes "I'm already earning a decent income from one thing I do or have done. I also enjoy using money to help others so, if I do something else, I'll dedicate the proceeds to this or that good cause." Ayn Rand and her "Objectivist" personality cult used to be famous for attacking that thought pattern. I actually think, after careful study of her life and work, that Rand did send some of her own money to people who had less; her word for it, in her English As a Foreign Language, was honor. She wrote in favor of giving away money "for honor." She expected U.S. audiences to understand that phrase better than many of them did. If you perceive a difference between an "objective" morality based on honor as distinct from a "sentimental" morality based on cultural cliches, you should understand it, easily. You know you're giving someone something "for honor" because you're supporting what the person is doing, rather than enmeshing the person in a relationship of dependency.

I've known people, not all of whom were even rich, who managed to find quite a lot of ways to give away money "for honor." (Feels tempted to name names, decides that might embarrass a few people who've outlived the incomes on which they used to do this...self for one.)

The people who seem to have provoked Andria Perry's rant, however, aren't likely to know anything about those people who do give away money "for honor"--because they aren't likely ever to receive anything given on those terms. Anybody who might, e.g., choose to support this web site because you like something posted here, is unlikely to have money left over to buy more alcohol for somebody who sits around drinking and expressing envy rather than writing, painting, mowing lawns or even playing the blasted stock market for pity's sake.

This web site has called out, and continues to call out, rich people who appear (from here) as if they could be doing more to take care of their own in Michigan. (Helping people recover from a large-scale disaster does not even come under the heading of "giving for honor." It comes under "taking care of your own," because even if your house wasn't affected by the disaster, your local economy was.) This web site is not expressing admiration of everything Dolly Parton has ever done in her lifetime when we say that her response to last autumn's forest fires provides a good example to people like Michael Moore and Dan Gilbert.

If Dolly Parton or anyone else were just handing out twenty-dollar bills to every bum outside the local liquor store, that would not be a good example to anybody. That would be...about as stupid as the sheer bulk of the Welfare State causes it to be, only less sustainable.

This time last year I invited people to fund a book I wanted to write on Indiegogo. One e-friend who replied directly was Neil Gaiman, who is a rich celebrity writer and deserves to be one. His reply was an invitation to everyone to help fund another book project that might or might not have been better than mine, but was certainly closer to the spirit of Gaiman's own kind of writing. Obviously that wasn't the response I would have liked. It has not, however, caused me to hate or envy Gaiman. (Even if he were in the demographic toward which my book would have been marketed, I wouldn't hate him just for liking a different book project better than mine.) There are thousands of poor and obscure writers in the world; which one(s) a successful writer chooses to sponsor doesn't affect my reactions to the successful writer's work, at all. You're exactly as likely to find links to Gaiman's books or blog here as you were two years ago.

But some of the gripers aren't even looking for sponsors for anything they're doing. Sometimes they even try to suggest, or believe for themselves, that they're griping on behalf of other people and not themselves. "If I had Warren Buffett's money, I'd help all the needy orphans in [insert name of famine zone]." Would you really? Instead of helping people you actually know? You'd abandon your family and home town and move to that famine zone? Or would you sit around like the typical rich American and write a cheque for $25 a month to some organization that may or may not actually be feeding any orphans? How could you tell? These are not just rhetorical questions; some people do think about them and have valid answers to them...but most of the people saying "If I had his money, I'd do things my way" are merely feeding energy to the Deadly Sin of Envy.

So, this web site now recommends that you do two things:

1. (Duh.) If your income for the year 2016 exceeded $12,000, support this web site. There's an e-mail at the bottom of your screen. Send an e-mail to that address to receive the Paypal address to which you can send payment for a subscription. You can also find me on Fiverr and pay for a guest post, or sponsor a post here, through their system...and it's called Fiverr.com because gigs offered through that site start at US$5.

2. If you do get into that thought process that starts with "If I had George Soros' money, I'd give it to...", reflect on a few questions:

* Why are you even thinking about his money, instead of your own money that you're planning to earn?

* How are you proposing to earn the amount of money you would like to use in the way you're thinking about doing?

* The book linked below is mainly about donating time rather than money to charities that do international relief and humanitarian work. It took about five years for three primary authors, four writers' assistants, and several dozen correspondents foreign and domestic, to write. Last time I looked, the web site on which it was updated had fallen apart, so some of the information is out of date. If you seriously feel called to tell people which charities they should support and why, are you up for the challenge of continuing the work these writers began?

* If not that, is your project comparably cool? Is it something you imagine I'd fund if I were to inherit a few million dollars? (Yes, that's still possible.) Is it something you imagine some readers might want to fund, or something you imagine some of the writers this web site follows might want to fund? If not, how can you make it that kind of thing? That done, why not choke off the Deadly Sin of Envy and just tell us about your project?

Envy is such a tacky Deadly Sin. Unlike sloth, gluttony, lust, and anger it offers no payoff of pleasure...and it's easy to resist, just by going after what you really want!

Tortie Tuesday: Cats with Special Needs

This post outgrew its place in today's Link Log...Mudpie's Human snapped a good cat picture here.


Tickle, the peaches-and-cream-colored son of Tortie Queen Heather, was the one who did something cute last night. He was lonesome. His mother went off hunting, his human went off to work, and although a normal cat's reaction would have been "Yesss! I am monarch of all I survey!" Tickle is a social cat. When I came in he nonverbally said "Finally!" and immediately started clawing at the wheelbarrow. This could have been a normal cat's dominance display, and probably started out as a reaction to the same impulse; the cute part was that when I said, "Stop that, or I'll trim your claws," Tickle immediately ran to the door, purring and nonverbally saying "Yes please."

Trimming Tickle's claws is a bit of a trick because he has a weak form of the polydactyl gene--just one half of an extra "thumb" toe on one paw, in between the toes corresponding to the thumb and index finger, where the extra claw is hard to reach. The half-toe has to be pinched to extend the claw while the clippers are angled in between the normal toes. It's obviously a ticklish job, and he always acts as if he'd hoped I'd forget that claw.

However, he purrs and cuddles while being clipped. I asked him whether he was trying to suggest a cat blog post. Frankly I don't think he understands any words at all. All tame cats recognize the general tones of "calling" and "scolding," so they react to anything in the same category as "Here, Kitty" and "Stop that," and with Tickle that's as far as it seems to go. Nevertheless, his nonverbal reply to the question was definitely a "yes." If it was more of a "Yes, hold me and groom me" than a "Yes, readers need to know that cats like a good manicure," well, he's a nice cat as adolescent tomcats go; most cats are not Listening Pets.

Anyway, you the human may want to discourage your cats clawing at doors, things stored outside, even things stored inside if you let them hang out indoors, and there is a humane way to accomplish that.

Cats run their paws and claws over things to leave subtle scent messages that other cats and dogs recognize. They flex their claws while kneading a friend's skin; they naturally use the right amount of pressure that this caress apparently feels good to other cats, which means it takes a little time to train them not to sink their claws into human skin and clothing, which are more vulnerable. They also use their claws as weapons if they ever get into a serious fight or want to destroy an object, which we can hope they never will. Those behaviors will not go away, nor, in most cases, will they do you or your pet any harm.

But the most common reason why cats claw at wood or upholstery, extensively, leaving upholstery hanging in shreds if they have a chance, is simply to wear down the long sharp ends of their claws...and once they learn to trust that a human is not going to hurt them but to give them a nice manicure, they'll tell that human when it's time for the next trimming. Cats don't have a natural instinct to let other lifeforms take care of their claws, but they can learn quickly. Between the benefits of (1) being scolded for trimming your own nails in the way that naturally occurs to you, and (2) being petted, praised, and rewarded for letting someone else trim your nails, which would you prefer to do?

Cat Sanctuary cats have a choice. They can take full responsibility for filing their own claws to the length and shape they prefer, on pieces of dead wood I'll leave in the yard if a cat is using them; or they can let me know that they want the manicure job, which includes praise and petting and, if they cooperate, a treat. I prefer that they take care of their own claws, actually. Magic, our Founding Queen, always did. Heather, our Reigning Queen, usually does. Sometimes a clingy junior cat will solicit another manicure in the same week, if it's been a stressful week--just for the attention. Most of the cats, like Tickle, take care of their own claws for weeks on end but enlist human help when they feel lonely, bored, or stressed.

If you want to keep a cat indoors permanently, which tends to induce neurotic behavior, you should begin by providing a few things you can encourage the cat to scratch--wood, carpeting material, maybe other surfaces if your cat wants to scratch them. Then, if the cat scratches other things, take a toenail clipper and snip off only the white ends of dead tissue from its claws. (The pink inner core that's visible at the base of each claw is sensitive flesh. Don't touch it. If you clip down into the quick the toe will bleed profusely and the cat will walk with a limp for a few days.) Clipping a cat's claws should be as much fun for the cat as getting a manicure is for...the kind of human who loves hanging out on the mall.

There is no excuse for the surgical operation known as "declawing," which is like removing all of a human's fingertips. Declawing is now illegal in many places, and even when no specific local law bans it, many vets now refuse to do the operation.

There are, however, some cats who have been declawed, who need homes. Fair disclosure: these cats will be living the rest of their lives with pain, so they may behave oddly. I once lived with a declawed cat who demonstrated a range of coping behaviors that dramatized how cruel the operation is--soaking her paws in cold water for hours, biting at her paws, lying on her back with her paws up, running madly up and down the stairs apparently for a sort of counter-irritant effect, and of course using the bathtub to force humans to remove bodywastes rather than scooping litter over a puddle or pile with her poor sore paws. If you're up for a real humanitarian challenge, however, you might try rehabilitating a survivor of declawing. They can still be lovable pets, especially if they're either never allowed in the bathroom, or else trained to use the toilet like human children (some long-legged cats can learn this trick). They must, of course, be kept indoors.

I thought a nice way to end this thought might be to spotlight declawed cats at Petfinder.com. Well, hurrah! Half a dozen searches failed to turn up one! Here, however, are some cats that do have special needs. I don't really believe cats mind having kittens, so I distrust humans who post about how a cat's horrid, mean former owners "didn't care that I got pregnant." (So, the cat was expelled from college? Passed over for a promotion? Really.) That's the Humane (Pet Genocide) Society, which has unfortunately fallen into the hands of people who really want domestic animals to go extinct, putting their words in the cat's mouth. But I'll agree that long-haired, pale-colored cats really need to do most--if not all--of their continual shedding in a nice cool cellar on a nice pale-colored rug. These "glamourpusses" don't seem to enjoy the caresses humans always rush to offer them; in my part of the world they usually look as if they're burning up in those coats. They are undeniably beautiful, in winter...and if you can bear to spoil their looks and trim the fur, long-haired cats may become as cuddly as short-haired ones.

Penelope from Brooklyn...like most long-haired cats, needs occasional dietary supplements to keep from choking on her own fur: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/27828123

Serenity from Fayetteville is a prisoner in a Humane Society shelter. Is it more important to rescue her, or to withhold support/funding from HSUS shelters? Your call. If you want to rescue her: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/37152218
Annabella from upper Montgomery County, Maryland, is another prisoner of HSUS "rescuers" who at least use the page they've set up for her to reiterate the point of this post about minimizing furniture shredding. Her eyes will always have that shape, but they may just possibly stop rolling upward in that expressive way when she stops hearing HSUS propaganda about the alleged cat overpopulation problem: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/35506986
Then there's Tickle himself, although he has no special needs...currently I don't want to separate him from Heather, but if she has kittens Tickle will come up for adoption again, strictly because he's male. (I don't like the odor of male cats.) (And no, I don't think it's likely that Tickle and Heather will inbreed.) Two of Tickle's close relatives were "temporarily fostered" by people who didn't think they wanted male cats, but agreed to keep those two in order to get them neutered at a reduced price and return them to me. Neither of those cats was ever neutered...and neither was ever returned to me. One of those "foster grandparents" said, "If you want to see that kitten again, you'll have to come out and visit him!" And those cats didn't even have extra toes! Living with social cats is a different experience from living with normal cats. If there were enough of them to go around, I'd recommend that everybody try to have a social cat as their first pet, because they are so easy to love.

Isolated social cats, however, seem to like living with normal cats as their pets. Adults bond as friends even if they don't try to mate, and adopt kittens...that's how vets and shelter staff are able to recognize social cats. A minority of cats are truly antisocial (and last fall we met one of those) but the majority are simply non-social, and can be socialized by social cats.

Nitpicking Book Review (or Introvert Liberation Movement Statement): Horse Sense for People

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Horse Sense for People

Author: Monty Roberts

Author's web site: http://www.montyroberts.com/

Date: 2001

Publisher: Viking/Penguin

ISBN: 0-670-89975-5

Length: 220 pages including endnotes and appendices

Quote: “No one has the right to say ‘You must or I will hurt you,’to any creature.”

Monty Roberts was the son of a traditional horse trainer. There's some controversy about some things he's said about his early life, even a book about whether his claim that his father was abusive is a lie...from the fact that that claim does not appear in his earlier books, where he describes his father as distant but not abusive, I wonder whether the alleged abuse might even have been a Prozac pseudomemory...but this is one of those earlier books where there's no mention of Marvin Roberts having been an abusive father. I mention this issue because it is a childhood memory of Marvin Roberts having snubbed Monty Roberts that I pick on as the "bunk" in this book. I think it's a valuable and enjoyable book but it needs a bit of debunking.

Repelled by the conventional wisdom that “horses are wild, dangerous beasts that must be broken into submission,” Monty Roberts set out to demonstrate that these big, dangerous animals can instead be persuaded to become humans’ friends. Hence his success as “the Horse Whisperer.”

In my opinion Roberts’ contribution to human knowledge has been tremendous. It seems unlikely that the first humans who domesticated horses thought “Here is an animal at least ten times bigger than I am—obviously the first thing to do is to tie it to a tree and beat it into a state of ‘learned helplessness’.” Humans who depended on that method have, in fact, always muttered about people—usually socially disadvantaged people, Native Americans or Gypsies, sentimental rich ladies or idealistic teenagers—who somehow, it wasn’t faaair, made friends of horses. There was a belief that, since horses had to be “broken” and bullied into recognizing their legal owner, making friends with horses was a kind of witchcraft practiced by horse thieves. There was also a genre of legends about “crazy” horses that would die fighting or fleeing from anyone who tried to “break” them, a hopeful fantasy that some of those horses could be “gentled” by a friendlier approach, as in My Friend Flicka. Before Horse Whisperer became famous, we all knew that there were people (my brother was one) who had made friends with “unbroken” horses and ridden them, bareback, just as there were people who made pets of feral cats, but we thought they’d just been lucky. Roberts was the first to identify and document the nonverbal communication that allowed him to “join-up” with almost any horse, anywhere. Horses aren’t the brainiest animals on Earth but they do have a rudimentary nonverbal “language,” which humans can learn and use. Roberts not only proved that that language exists, but wrote a “first dictionary and grammar” of it.

If you have just a little experience with horses, I highly recommend The Man Who Listens to Horses; this is one case where the movie might even be useful. I’m not nearly as horsey as my brother was and thoroughly enjoyed reading Roberts’ documentation of what my brother used to get right and I used to get wrong…
Anyway, Roberts says in this book that management types told him they wished they knew the secrets of “human whispering.” After a little thought he realized that his approach to horse training was part of the philosophy behind his approach to human relationships…so he could indeed write a book about “human whispering.” This is it…a book of radical nonviolence.

People who think they don’t like the “libertarian” philosophy are likely to be reacting to the devil-take-the-hindmost egoism in books like The Fountainhead, where the blonde claims she liked being raped. (Well, it’s fiction; Rand would have heard that women like that existed…) It’s always possible to find enough people for a party, even a political party, who want to practice aggressive egoism, but that’s not really libertarian. Far from it. Libertarianism is a philosophy of nonviolence. It has room for disagreement about how forcefully people choose to defend themselves against violence, but basically a libertarian philosophy is opposed to saying “You must or I will hurt you” to any person (not all libertarians recognize non-humans as persons).

Of course, communication among humans is more complicated than communication between a human and a horse. That’s the trouble with Horse Sense for People. It was written in 2001, when much recent research about brain differences was still being done, and it doesn’t go far enough.

Roberts obviously hadn’t read much, at the time of writing, about the permanent physical differences that not only distinguish introverts from extroverts but indicate that extroversion may need to be reclassified as a sort of brain defect. Roberts grew up, like all Americans his age, with a vague idea that introversion was a weakness that kept people from communicating and working together, rather than an asset that helps people to communicate and work together in a smarter, healthier, more rational way than extroverts’ fears and neediness usually allow.

I’m going to pick on one small point in a book that makes many points about various aspects of human communication, because it really seems like “horse sense” to me and I’m surprised that Roberts doesn’t see it. Humans who suffer from extroversion often have a big emotional need to vocalize whenever they see other humans, whether or not they have anything to say. It’s one of those annoying neologisms, but in this post I’d like to call this behavior “greeding,” to emphasize the difference between meaningless, annoying vocalization and the kind of “greeting” that opens an actual human conversation. Some introverts learn to participate in greeding rituals, and some even form emotional attachments to the idea that participating in these rituals is a very good, generous thing to do because (if they think about it and face the reality) it’s unnatural and unpleasant. Nevertheless, Jesus warned Christians not to “love greetings in the marketplaces.” (Three separate Scriptures: Matthew 23:7 and Luke 11:46, as well.)

Self-accepting introverts, whose families and primary culture groups did not demand greeding behavior, are bewildered by it. Many people think that greeding is “friendly” behavior. When we consider its effects—distracting people from their own thoughts, sometimes interrupting real conversations, and measurably raising everyone’s blood pressure—it’s hard to find anything about greeding that can really be said to express good will toward the other person. Some specific greeding rituals undoubtedly do express friendship, but greeding, generally, is a hostile behavior. In terms of cross-species animal behavior studies, greeding is a “threat display.”

“You must reassure me that I’m human!” is the real meaning behind the “hi, hey, hi, hello,” that doesn’t open a conversation. (Extroverts apparently live in some doubt about their species identity, possibly because in some ways, especially in greeding rituals, they do react more like dogs.) My mother’s theory about “outgoing” children was that they’d all been bottle-fed, prematurely weaned, and brought up in day care centers. Greeders do not, in fact, want to become real friends to the people for whose attention they’re greeding. They don’t want to join the conversations or participate in the thought processes they interrupt. They are trying to fill some sort of deep-rooted emotional need. Maybe a lack of intensive mother-infant bonding really is what compels these pathetic people to demand that co-workers, neighbors, or total strangers take the time to tell them that they’re human. I have to wonder, though, whether who’s anyone in that much doubt about it is fully human.

“I was walking down Main Street…I was about ten,” Roberts recalls. “I looked ahead and saw my father walking directly toward me. As he approached, I said, ‘Hi Dad!’ but he looked at me and kept walking…I shouted loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear, but he just kept walking. I returned to school, hurt and puzzled, trying to figure out” why Dad hadn’t participated in that mindless-greeting routine typical of extroverts and dogs. When asked, “He looked at me and said, ‘I didn’t have anything to say to you.’ I let it go, because I guess that was an answer; by then I knew it would achieve nothing to point out that I had not been asking for a conversation…merely an acknowledgment of my presence…A parent refusing to acknowledge the presence of his child is like an animal refusing to allow a newborn to drink from its udder.”

If all or most humans were afflicted with extroversion that might be true. As it is, however, many humans feel no need for “acknowledgment of our presence.” How do introvert parents succeed in bringing up children who don’t feel a need to exchange greetings, without making those children feel like infants deprived of milk? My best educated guess would be that several forms of nonverbal communication are involved.

(1) The parents provide attention and affection when the children aren’t screaming for those things.

(2) Both parents and children are able to perceive each other’s presence, and each other’s awareness of their presence, without interrupting whatever they’re doing to belabor it. When family members walk past each other, some subtler form of nonverbal communication establishes that they’re not going to collide; there’s no need to stop, make noises, or sniff each other. 

(3) Other aspects of the family relationship reinforce the basic idea that we-the-people-who-don’t-do-greeding are more familiar, nicer, more trustworthy etc. etc., than those-other-people-who-do-greeding.

But what was happening in the 1940s when Monty Roberts was about ten years old? North America was in the middle of a cultural war on introversion. Instead of being told the truth, “Whether or not you’re ‘smarter’ in terms of math or formal logic you are more perceptive and/or better able to use what you know than the average person, likely to live longer, and much easier for other nice quiet people like yourself to like being around,” introvert children were being told, “Oh dear, something is terribly horribly wrong with you! Why do you want to read or build things or spend time with animals when you could be running around playing games like aaalll the other children? What horrible thing happened to make you such a freak?” 

As I read this anecdote, I imagine Marvin Roberts thinking, “All these years I’ve brought my child up to be a person who never speaks unless he has something to say, and there he is, yapping at me in the street like a spoiled dog!” Yet another example of the many ways the campaign to “sell” extroversion alienated people whom nature intended to be friends…Neither Monty Roberts—who can hardly be perceived as an extrovert—nor his Dad seems ever to have been able to acknowledge the violence external influences wrought on their relationship. Fortunately, because most introverts are truly awesome human beings, they did remain on speaking terms.

The belief that everybody could be happy if we just agreed to act like extroverts was common among Roberts’ audience; he didn’t have to argue at length in favor of greeding rituals. Why does it seem extraordinary to me that he supports them, or tolerates them, at all? Because this is a book about Horse Sense for People.

Dogs invented greeding rituals. Their social lives do require reciprocal noise-making, sniffing, and a whole dance of communicative gestures. The only alternative to participating in these elaborate rituals is a fight.

Cats also have greeding rituals. Their rituals are usually silent and seldom take up anything like as much time as dogs' greeding rituals, but cats go through a full ritual every single time they see each other. Again, not participating in the greeting routine is likely to mean a fight.

Horses, as Roberts has made a career of explaining, have very subtle, nonverbal displays that acknowledge one another’s presence without greeding. It’s not entirely clear whether horses always do anything consciously to acknowledge each other’s presence. The way to approach a horse without anyone fighting or fleeing is simply not to act like a predator.Beyond that, communication with any individual in the herd is optional and occurs when horses have something to “say.”

The difference in greeting behavior across species, in fact, seems to support a generalization. Elaborate greetings—threat/deference displays—are typical of predator species. Extrovert humans are thus closer to predatory animals, and introverts to non-predatory animals. Herbivorous animals are easily startled into flight when they meet anything that might be a predator, and the herbivores and insectivores vary from having a wide range of possible social relationships that humans can identify (as horses do) to leaving room for doubt whether they notice that their siblings are alive (as many insects do), but herbivores don’t have extensive greeding rituals. After a long separation horses do have ways of saying “Old friend! Where have you been so long?” that are unmistakable even to humans, but in everyday situations a flash of an eye or twitch of an ear is as far as the “acknowledgment” routine gets.

I can’t blame Roberts for having been told, “Something must have hurt your feelings terribly when you were a little child to allow you to grow up so [insert up to a dozen different disparagements for non-extroverts]. What did your parents do?” (Often there was a deliberate effort to “gaslight” over emotional traumas at school and focus on often purely theoretical traumas of earliest childhood.) I can’t blame him for remembering this day when he tried out a greeding display he’d learned at school, and been discouraged, as possibly contributing to his capacity for independent thinking. (Jonah Goldberg has found evidence that the purpose of the whole war on introversion probably was to try to reduce the incidence of independent thinking.) Considering how few other humans had his “horse sense” about horses’ nonverbal communication, I am in fact awestruck by Roberts’ ability to communicate with horses. But I’m also…astounded by his failure to extrapolate data. Roberts’ continuing to endorse greeding rituals between humans, rather than disparage or discourage them, is an example of really successful gaslighting.

Indirectly, Roberts does acknowledge the reason why conscious, self-accepting introverts may no longer agree with the old claim that “at least” greeding is “a harmless little thing we can do that makes others feel good. On pages 65-66 he reminisces about a horse who was ruined for life by playing a part in a Disney movie. In the movie the horse, then a little colt, was encouraged to rear up and rest its forelegs on humans’ shoulders. Once the colt became an adult horse, of course, it could no longer be indulged in this behavior…and although the behavior was unnatural and dysfunctional, the horse wasn’t able to understand that it had to change just one behavior pattern so that its relationships with humans would be rewarding again. That horse never trusted people who wouldn’t let it rest its forelegs on their shoulders and, since no human who wants to live can allow a full-grown horse to do that, the horse became a real mental case, never able to trust or work with anybody during its short adult life. Acting out one cute little scene for one cute little movie made a valuable horse into a monster. 

For introverts who are tired of being bullied into acting as if we shared a brain defect we don’t share, indulging extrovert acquaintances in a little social display sets up similar unrealistic expectations and turns a mentality only slightly more sophisticated than a horse’s into a monster of “needy” bullying. Give this type of not-fully-humans the greetings they demand, and the next minute they demand that you convert to some bizarre religion, or maybe sleep with them, or give them all your money, or participate in the pretense that anybody would want to be like them. Even after retraining they’re likely to remain “chronically distrustful and mentally unstable.” No matter how hard people have tried to mistake it for “love,” extroverts’ compulsive urge to reach out and grab for control of others’ attention is fundamentally violent.

Meanwhile, Roberts’ fundamental philosophy of human relationships is consistently typical of introverts’ nonviolent mind-sets and orientation toward showing trust and respect by leaving other people alone. Roberts describes a football coach who yelled at students to “treat [the other team]…like…the worst people on earth…Knock him down and give him a knee in the ribs as you get up.” Roberts’ response, “Young players can…respect their opponent, play the game hard, but live within the framework of the rules.” Did one really need to be a football fan, in 2001, to remember Jerry Rice popping up and saluting the much bigger guys who’d knocked him down? Whether Roberts remembered Rice’s performance or not, his readers did.

“The…company will only work efficiently when those within…the team can justifiably trust one another….It is critical…[that] each employee is utterly confident that he or she will be treated in a fair and honest way.”

“The fact is that horses run slower when they are whipped than when they are not…[Horses] do love to race, and I love racing. But we should take the whips out of racing…because they are ineffective.”

“[C]leaning the stalls…was one of the most distasteful aspects of the entire horse industry…I told the team that I would clean and bed ten stalls. the men would time me. I would ask them to double the time that it took and to work out what their wage would give, given that amount of time. This would allow them to calculate the price per stall…Since they decided that the two men would do all the work that meant that each would receive $1300 per month. Mucking stalls instantly became a cherished position” (after wages calculated from an hourly rate were converted to a performance-based rate, allowing an instant pay rise).

For parents, Roberts recommends writing out behavior contracts on a blackboard, or whiteboard: “Child will not spit for a week…parents will take child to [wherever].” If a child’s behavior is very undesirable, contracts can be punitive; one parent made a quick decision, when a child failed to supply animals with water, that all other behavior contracts and household privileges began with the child’s filling the horse’s water trough—using a human-size cup. Contracts allow parents to set rules about behavior without physical force or the kind of emotional drama that can feel more abusive than a simple spanking to the child.  

Roberts addresses family and office management issues more than academic or political ones, but it’s easy to extrapolate applications of his “horse sense” philosophy to any kind of social relationship. In political terms, they’re very close to Jim Babka’s “voluntaryism.”

If you're already familiar with this approach to human relationships, then you may not need Horse Sense for People, although it contains some nice horse stories (and one horrific, possibly Prozac-enhanced, story about one of Roberts' clients). If not, you should read it--noting that this is not the book that contains any of the "lies" for which Roberts has more recently been blamed. It's been out long enough to be offered as a Fair Trade Book on this web site's usual terms: $5 per book, $5 per package, $1 per online payment, to the address at the very bottom of the screen (down below the giftcard links; this web site does not encourage Amazon giftcards as payments, but can take them). You could fit at least one more book of this size into the package; if that book was, e.g., Shy Boy you'd send a U.S. postal money order for $15 (paying the surcharge directly to the post office) or Paypal payment for $16 for the two books, and from that we'd send $2 to Roberts or a charity of his choice. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

January 16 Links

This is not the first time I've gone online from someone's house, nor is it the first time I've gone to someone's house in order to cook a McDougall or Sinatra meal; it is the first time I've gone online while cooking a meal. As a result, for the first time in several weeks now, I was online when Congressman Griffith's newsletter came in--I've been so far behind the e-mail that, by starting on Tuesdays, I've been missing anything e-mailed on the Mondays! Chicken stir-fry with lots of broccoli, rice, big green salad, and links in the Categories: Animals, Books, Crafts, Economy, Education, Food, Good News, Obamacare, Politics, Travel, Weird.


The first animal image that came in today was a beagle...like the famous Snoopy? In real life they're even cuter. Here, in honor of a real-life friend's beagle, are Petfinder beagles that some reader Out There may be able to take home.
Spanky...like almost everybody in Washington, is "really" from somewhere else, in this case North Carolina. He needs a new home and could either go to the city or stay in his own State: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/37152686
Leggs from New York...originally from New Jersey, could relocate as far as Maryland, but she's a Yankee and won't be adopted by Southerners, Westerners, or Canadians! Don't even ask! Rrrrwoof! (Actually I think the ban on long-distance adoptions is there to screen out "applications" from spammers and scammers, with which Petfinder has been infested at times...) https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/31604370
Penelope from Atlanta: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/37186630
Sometimes dogs can make themselves very useful...


From the cat side, a cute picture:


On the wild side, here's an adorable little skunk...Y'know, at the Cat Sanctuary, I've actually missed little Hepzibah, an Eastern spotted skunk. (She was a sweetheart, partly because everyone, even Pepe, who looked more than twice her size, had always shown her due respect.) When skunks approach humans' homes and the humans have not been encouraging them to do so, this is often an indication that the humans are sharing their territory with ground-nesting wasps or hornets. European hornets, a giant-sized invasive species that pack enough venom to knock you off your feet for days, are what lured Pepe and Hepzibah close to my home. The species is still invasive in my part of the world but where I saw a hornet, I would soon see (or smell) evidence of one of our strongly scented friends. No worries. European hornets were both Pepe's and Hepzibah's favorite things. I appreciated our skunks, and hope my not having seen Pepe for a few years indicates that he's moved on in search of more ground-nesting insects.

Some friends in town had also attracted a skunk, also called Pepe, although he was a Striped Skunk and much smaller than our Pepe--not much bigger than Hepzibah. They did not appreciate what their Pepe was trying to do for them by digging up their lawn, trapped him and had him hauled away to a nature park, and then had to live with a colony of yellowjacket wasps. Yellowjackets are a native species, hardly half as long or as wide as European hornets, but they are clannish and can make themselves very unpleasant if someone inadvertently walks on the ground above their nest. So of course a hypersensitive child did...Let's just say that their Pepe had done his very best to keep that child out of the hospital.



Thanks to the Vagabond Tabby for reminding us of these classics. (Have you read all of them? There's an adult-sized omnibus edition...everybody knows Peter Rabbit, probably almost by heart, but believe it or not I read Samuel Whiskers first. It was one of those old books left lying about in one of the houses my parents rented in their nomad phase. I hope the owner's kept it; it was in good condition and ought to be worth serious money by now!)


Links for knitters:



Why don't people just move to where the jobs are? One reason: there is no place where the jobs are, these days, at least not the jobs worth moving halfway around the world for. Granted that if you're willing to do low-status day labor--for which it helps, a lot, to be a writer, which allows you to think of jobs mowing lawns, washing cars, and bussing tables as ways to get paid to exercise and stay in touch with the young--you can usually find some sort of job anywhere; there's no excuse for being an able-bodied welfare cheat. Still, that very fact is an argument in favor of staying in a "poor county": If your chances of earning a good living as an experienced legal secretary, psychotherapist, or auto mechanic are low whether you're in Poor County or Rich City, you're going to stay in Poor County where the cost of living is low and you have a better chance of eating regularly on what you earn from four-hour odd jobs.

And I have to say I think this stability is a good thing for people...if not for those sectors of the economy that are based on reselling houses, wasting various commodities ("easier to buy new ones than to fit the ones we have into the truck"), selling fast food and prostitution to lonely nomads who don't regard a shanty or hotel room as "home," and trying to rehabilitate young people who've become complete misanthropes as a result of not having the opportunity to bond with friends and relatives. My parents' nomad phase lasted until I was ten years old. I had a solid sense of home, hated every single move, and could be tempted to support legislation requiring people to maintain one primary residence for as long as they want to maintain custody of any children born while they were there. (I said "could be tempted"...but I do think uprooting children is abusive, and rootless kids have much more in common with homeless kids than kids whose home may still have wallpaper, or even lack plumbing.)


Meanwhile...the fact that former competitors Ringling, Barnum, and Bailey had merged had already been our clue that the travelling live circus was fading out of U.S. culture. It's just so much easier on everyone involved, even the audience, to put the acts on a video...even though a part of me, even closely connected to the same part that was saying "I've already seen an elephant in a zoo, so can my brother have the circus ticket?" at age eight, still wonders whether this means some children will grow up without ever meeting a live elephant.

@JimGeraghty from the +National Review (hey, Google + worked!) recommended this one of the many tributes to R&B&B as being "nuanced" and fair. I agree. I'll add two zoo/circus memories from the early 1970s:

1. Favorite memory: when the elephant breathed on, sniffed, and kissed my hand.

2. Unfavorite memory: when the creepy-looking guy encouraging kids to pile into the howdah yelled, "If the elephant breaks down, we get a new one!" I knew it was a joke because the howdah would not have held enough kids to break an elephant's back. I also had a feeling that it told us something about that young man's relationship with the elephants, and without even focussing my eyes on his face I was instantly on the elephants' side.


Fwiw, my prediction is that in the long term the demise of live elephant acts will mean less respect, protection, and territory for wild elephants...but that will be Indians' and Africans' problem.


What I just don't "get" about these things, or maybe I do, is the full extent of the backlash that's going on. I mean, when I was in middle school, no school employee would have smiled and joked about school being the place to learn to spell "tomorrow" if somebody had written "tammarow" in a public place. (Well, maybe a bus driver or janitor, but certainly no one who had a desk job inside the school building.) No school employee would have let that kind of thing slip past--especially in front of other people. They really did say things like "What is the matter with you?" and "That's a third grade mistake. What are you doing in grade five?" and "You can spend the next week's lunch and recess breaks inside, writing 't-o-m-o-r-r-o-w' 500 times." The ones who wanted credit for being witty said things like "A good spanking would raise your intelligence quotient." The ones who wanted credit for running a tight ship would reach out, grab the child who'd written "tammarow" with one hand, and hit him or her with--actually, it'd be an object held in the other hand; teachers didn't touch kids' nasty little backsides. All teachers were issued, and most of them prominently displayed, a selection of objects generally classified as paddles--usually ends of boards, about half an inch by two or three inches by approximately one foot long. Most teachers used these objects, more often to punish violence or vandalism than just to correct mistakes, but if kids didn't seem to take corrections seriously enough teachers would hit them. So now this school employee is being fired, not because her whole job description seems dubious or because the county was of two minds about hiring her in the first place--which would make sense--but because she corrected a kid's spelling, gently, without direct insults or physical assault, in public? ????? Is it possible that the people who demand that children be talked to as if they were foreign dignitaries, these days, are just going through one big emotional reaction to the way we were educated?


Food (Yum) 

Well, if you can use wheat, sugar, dairy products, and alcohol, this would be yummy. French Toast has just about all the ingredients some people have to avoid, yet for others it's actually nutritious...


Good News 

Some readers won't like her politics or her writing style, but...any report that begins with "24 years after being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, this person is..." goes into the category of Good News. (Well, maybe if the person were acting out total ingratitude toward Life/God/whatever, the story might move into the category of Weird News...) Kristi Nelson hasn't reconsidered her outdated political opinions but she is still alive. Cheers!



I'm not sure exactly how this relates to the item linked under "Outrage" last week. Not being in Illinois, I may never figure that out. I'm sure there's a link somewhere.



Popvox explains how Obamacare moved into the Undead Zone...it's going down, but it can't just quietly fade into the vile dust whence it sprung, unwept, unhonored, and unsung. (This temporary link goes to one of their weekly "week in Congress" reports. Scroll down for the details of the Obamacare status report.)


Jerry Bowyer has an alternative...Fasting is not for everyone (and if you can do a total fast without going into a coma, you may be on the borderline but you're not diabetic), but it serves some people well. A more mindful diet, either in the sense of restricting specific foods or in the sense of just eating smaller amounts of better food, works for people for whom fasting does not work. The point here is not whether you go Atkins, vegan, Paleo, Pritikin, McDougall, or much easier Sinatra, or some other diet plan, or just become mindful of taking care of your health generally; the point is that health care is something we do for ourselves in order to avoid depending on any kind of medical care. I'm not saying that we should all rely on fasting, or garlic or macrobiotics or whatever, to solve all medical problems. I am saying that a lot of people who stay active and healthy into their seventies, even eighties, are people who pay attention to what their bodies are telling them and see a doctor for an annual check-up--or less often.


President-elect Trump promises to make things worse:



Parting shot at President Obama...oh, I believe that President-elect Trump won't take Obama's mistakes as precedents, especially after the post linked above! He will drain the swamps! Republicans will do positively better, as distinct from merely less bad, jobs than Democrats! And Christopher Reeve can use that cape just like a pollution-free airplane, too! LOL and jk.


Frankly, when anybody tries to sell me an insurance gambling scheme as a solution for anything, un-auntly thoughts do come to mind. I want to lay the U.S. Constitution on that person. My main copy of the Constitution was printed in a high school history book, which is fairly solid, but for the insurance gambling racket I wouldn't mind getting an extra copy printed on a two-by-four plank...but seriously, this is still the United States and the office of any elected official does deserve some respect. (Maybe what we need are provisions making it easier to get some elected officials out of those offices. Any answer to any question about medical care that involves more payment to the gamblers who've fouled up what used to be a good system, e.g., could be considered to authorize placing the official astride that plank and hauling him out of town.)



Have any readers besides +Beth Ann Chiles visited Iowa? I never have...


Would you rather go to Florida? Are you sure? Would a virtual trip with Dave Barry be enough?


Europe? I probably never will...


(This one's in Spain; the blogger wrote just a caption on a photo, and it's a good photo, and, despite being on Niume, it behaved perfectly for the computer. I think Niume has seen the error of its ways. Huzza!)


(And this one's in Italy; sort of grainy due to digital imaging, but it does show a cool design for a fountain.)



Have you ever wondered how weird phone calls can become? Great-Aunt Chatty McReminisce is only the tip of the iceberg.


Morgan Griffith on the Transition Between Administrations

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9:

Monday, January 16, 2017 –
The Congressional Review Act: A Valuable Tool
As presidents near the end of their terms, they often race to accomplish as much of their agenda as possible. Famous examples include John Adams’ “midnight” appointment of John Marshall as chief justice and John Tyler’s annexation of Texas into the Union.
President Obama is no different. He is determined to implement as many of his ideas via executive action as possible, no matter how bad they are for the economy, jobs, or wages.
To stop this mischief, Congress possesses a little-used but valuable tool: the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA will allow us to overturn many of President Obama’s final actions.
President Clinton signed the CRA into law in 1996. According to a Congressional Research Service analysis of the law’s provisions, Congress has sixty legislative days after an agency submits a final rule to overturn it. Both chambers of Congress must pass a joint resolution of disapproval in that period. Unlike most legislation, a CRA resolution cannot be filibustered in the Senate. The resolution then goes to the president’s desk for his signature or veto.
Once a CRA resolution is signed, not only is the targeted rule gone, but agencies are forbidden from reintroducing the rule or a substantially similar one in the future.
During its twenty years on the books, the CRA has been used rarely. After all, a president is unlikely to sign a resolution disapproving a rule issued by his own administration. In fact, it has only been used successfully once, when Congress passed and President Bush signed a resolution overturning a rule from the final days of the Clinton Administration.
Fortunately, the same circumstances that permitted the successful use of the CRA in 2001 exist today. President Obama will be replaced by a president who opposes many of the policies he ratified by executive action. Several of President Obama’s actions are ripe for overturning under the CRA.

I am ready to use the CRA to reverse President Obama's recent administrative actions that hurt the well-being of the Ninth District. I am a cosponsor of H.J.Res.11, which overturns the Interior Department's Stream Protection Rule. This rule will kill thousands of coal jobs if allowed to take effect,

The Department of Labor's overtime rule should also be subject to CRA disapproval. This rule endangers small businesses and will force many companies to cut employee hours to balance their books. As a policy that achieves an ideological goal without regard for its damage to the economy, the overtime rule is a perfect example of what the CRA was meant to block.

Based on the legislative calendar, many last-minutes Obama Administration rules will be eligible for CRA disapproval until this May. To paraphrase the old adage, the new Congress should vote on CRA resolutions early and often. By doing so, it can prevent great damage to the economy and reclaim authority from the executive branch.
General James Mattis
Last week, Congress voted to waive a law requiring military officers to be retired for seven years before they can serve as Defense Secretary. Congress’ action clears the path for President-elect Trump’s nominee to lead the Pentagon, General James Mattis.
The principles behind the original law are sound. Civilian control of the military is essential in our Republic. The law ensures that the Armed Forces will not be misused by a leader fresh from service with a devoted following among his former soldiers, sailors, or airmen.
Still, Congress reserves the right to make exceptions based on the man and the moment. Congress recognized this in 1950 when it exempted George Marshall, who led the Army through World War II as a general and devised the Marshall Plan as secretary of state. I believe General Mattis also merits an exemption and will make an excellent civilian leader of our Armed Forces.
Presidential Inauguration
At noon on January 20th, Donald Trump will take the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States. The inauguration of a new president is an important ritual celebrating the peaceful transfer of power from one individual, and often one party, to another.
Because of the inauguration’s symbolism for our republican form of government, I believe it is my duty to attend. I witnessed President Obama’s second inauguration in 2013, and I look forward to seeing President-elect Trump sworn in on Friday. Later, my daughter and I will attend the Congressional Inaugural ball.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Book Review: Rhode Island Blues

A Fair Trade Book 

Title: Rhode Island Blues

Author: Fay Weldon

Date: 2000

Publisher: Harper Collins (UK), Atlantic Monthly(US)

ISBN: 0-87113-775-5

Length: 325 pages

Quote: “I m eighty-five...If people don’t like what they hear they can always dismiss it as dementia.”

Grandmothers who were eighty-five in 2000 grew up hearing that women were either Good Girls or Bad Girls. By and large, the ones who lived to become grandmothers were Good Girls. Felicity, the outrageous heroine of Rhode Island Blues, was a Bad Girl...and when she moves into an assisted living place, her grandchildren, who hadn’t even known about each other before, will discover that she still is one.

It’s possible that this whole book might have been Weldon’s reflection on the thought that she’s no spring chicken. There are no present-time chickens in the story, although chickens play a cameo role in Felicity’s distant past and her decision to move to Rhode Island in the first place. There are some disturbing reflections on the plight of rich senior citizens, as unsettling, yet in Weldon’s hands as comical, as the handsome blue fowl posed against a red sky on the dust jacket of the book.

If I'd been the publisher, this book would have a different cover. I'm disappointed that the book does not, in fact, feature Rhode Island Red chickens, which are the type that appear in that color-tweaked photo...here, courtesy of Wikipedia, is what they really look like. 

Rhode Island Red cock, cropped.jpg

Felicity, whose name is meant to be ironic, definitely does not want to doze off into the twilight zone at eighty-five (for one thing she’s only eighty-three; she likes round numbers). She wants her life to be a romantic comedy, “One more time”...and it is. She finds a man, only twelve years younger than she is, who is still interested in sex, and she wants to marry him, however many obstacles her trashy grandson and the loathsome head nurse put in her way. The story being a romantic comedy, readers will laugh out loud a few times, and Felicity’s nicest granddaughter will learn things that will help her become even nicer.

Well, it's Fay Weldon, so you knew you could expect mordant but not depressing laughs on every page and an interesting, not altogether predictable ending. Weldon has written so many excellent novels in this category that public libraries have actually been thinning them off the shelves, and she doesn't seem to intend to stop any time soon.

Other sources may offer this book cheaper, but if you buy it from this web site, for $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment, we send $1 to Weldon or a charity of her choice. You could fit four books of this size into a package for $25 (or $26) and, if they were, e.g., Down Among the Women, Life and Loves of a She-Devil, and The Cloning of Joanna May, we'd send $4 to Weldon or her charity. You could also mix books by different authors, and if they're Fair Trade Books we'll send $1 to each of those authors or charities.