Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August 23 Link Log

Yesterday I wrote a book review that should show up here next month; the book was a "bad day" story for children. Well, so far today I've noticed "summer cold" symptoms, after removing a visiting cat's fresh mess from the porch (over the weekend) and noticing a streppy odor about the mess; then when I dragged my weary bones into the cafe, wondering how many U.S. dollars those forty-something New Zealand dollars had shrunk down to, instead of a Paypal payout notice I found funny business going on at Freelancer.com. The theoretical probability is that this day has to get better soon. Categories: Animals, Books, Food, Politics, Psychology, Zazzle.


This web site has mentioned my dislike of "light pollution" before. I like watching and wishing on falling stars; this was one of the few years when clouds didn't prevent me from watching the main meteor shower of the year--but light pollution did. Here the writer known as Casey Jones documents how light pollution affects cute, likable turtles:


In a separate, though related, case of human stupidity, +Sandy KS documents how ungrateful humans blame and persecute the cats whose "nuisance" activity was probably protecting them from a rat infestation. No, confining and sterilizing the cats is not the answer. Educating the humans is. For me, living in an upscale, but catless, Maryland suburb where rats became the dominant species was very educational. I gave thanks to and for every cat that sneaked out of someone's house!



The trailer for Dave Barry's new one...is hilarious, even for those of us who actually like grapefruit. (Bonus joke, however, and a true recollection: I learned to like grapefruit at my church college, where I started eating it in a show of friendly defiance to a friend who was fond of saying things like, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do--which leaves you pretty much anything except murder, high treason, and eating grapefruit.")


In theory, this link allows you to pre-order a new copy from the publisher in such a way that both DB and I get commissions. Test it, Gentle Readers. You know you want to...

(Btw, how was it possible that, after merely mentioning a few Controlled Substances got Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter routed straight to the spam folder last week, the weird news stories headlined in Dave Barry's Blog newsletter made it into my in-box? Two of them name body parts which this site isn't going to mention. Also one of Dave Giles' "clashing" headlines, which referred to humans most of whom aren't even female by an obsolete term for female cats, made it through. The ways of Yahoo are strange.)


Determined to get to Google + this week or bust, I found this recipe. Delicious, especially if stores in your area have marked-down, end-of-season fresh raspberries.


Should this one go under Food, Animals, Nature, or Travel? This photo post contains good specimens in all four categories. I think it goes under Food, because the gluten-free macarons are different (though not hard to figure out) and the gluten-free crepes may be unique. Thanks to +LadyNightwaveBrendaMarie Writer for sharing this friend's post.


Politics (General) 

U.S. readers, here's a free e-course (intended, of course, to publicize a real school) for all ages--anyone who'd like to know more about what the President of the United States does, should do, can do. If you sign up now, you'll have absorbed the information before the election.



Kyla Matton Osbourne explains why it's so hard for some people to Fix Facts First (and let) Feelings Follow:



Can you unplug yourself? For how long? +LadyNightwaveBrendaMarie Writer challenges you...I routinely unplug altogether on weekends, as youall know. (On Mondays, the cafe doesn't open but I've usually prodded myself to go to the store and write offline about the goodies we have for sale; those posts then go live on schedule, after I've been back online.) Despite its having been a good year for raspberries, which literally kept me alive this summer, I still don't have electricity (which still means no indoor heat) at home...



This will be the last Zazzle image I'll share for a while, because Zazzle has become a user-hostile site, infested with nasty Captchas that cause the site to fight the user at every single move. I hope my e-friends who've used Zazzle are making money from the sales of their creations. I'm not going to support a site that uses Captchas.

Morgan Griffith on Telemedicine at Work

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

Telemedicine – Now is the Time

From time to time, this column highlights ongoing challenges, promising innovations, etc. being undertaken by various people, organizations, and/or businesses from throughout Ninth District. For example, I wrote earlier this month of a local cow/calf operation and its owner’s support of improving our tax code. I have also discussed the Radford Health and Rehab Center, which has made strides in health care innovation and improving patient care through “telemedicine,” which generally refers to clinical services provided remotely using various telecommunications technologies.

Another local facility taking advantage of developments in telemedicine is the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), which treats many Ninth District veterans.

I visited the Salem facility last week and, in addition to more general issues I discussed with their leadership, I was able to visit their physical therapy department which uses telemedicine to provide greater services to rural areas of Virginia.

As you may know, the VA has what are called Community Based Outpatient Clinics, or CBOCs. There are hundreds of them throughout the country, as they provide common outpatient services and are intended to help make it more convenient for veterans – particularly those in rural communities – to receive care closer to home. In the Ninth District, there are CBOCs located in Norton, Tazewell, and Wytheville.

In the Wytheville CBOC, a room that previously housed a printer and other equipment was turned into a physical therapy room. There, Ms. Jessica Edwards, a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, uses Clinical Video Technology (CVT) as part of their telerehabilitation program.

After a veteran completes a one-time evaluation at the Salem VAMC, follow up treatments may be provided at the Wytheville CBOC through CVT. Ms. Edwards works remotely with folks at the Salem VA including Dr. William D. Adkins, PT,DPT, OCS, ATC, Cert. MDT (a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Salem-based physical therapist) and Dr. Anthony Caruso, PT,DPT (a Doctor of Physical Therapy and the Chief of the Physical Therapy Department at the Salem VAMC).

During my visit to the Salem facility, Ms. Edwards joined us via camera from the Wytheville CBOC. They conservatively estimated that their telerehabilitation program has saved veterans 93,380 miles in travel for treatments and reevaluations, as those veterans would otherwise have to drive to the Salem VAMC. This is in addition to the estimated $26,700 they estimate saving in completed consults, the $61,600 they estimate having saved through follow-up visits provided in Wytheville, and the $2,097 potential savings in telehealth re-evaluations provided in Wytheville.

A similar program recently began at the Staunton CBOC, which is outside of the Ninth District.

This telerehabilitation program uses taxpayer money wisely, and provides a valuable service to veterans by delivering musculoskeletal care to those living in rural Virginia communities. Without such a service, the benefits of a veteran’s physical therapy may have worn off in a cramped car during their drive home from the Salem VAMC.

The Carilion Family Medical Clinic in Giles County, a clinic I visited several years ago, also practices telemedicine. If a patient were to come in with pneumonia, for example, and it was determined the patient has a mental health issue such as depression, they would connect via telehealth with a mental health worker for additional assistance.

I am sure other Ninth District facilities make use of some telehealth technologies as well, but I have not yet had the opportunity to visit all of those.

Telemedicine is a trend we as a nation should embrace, particularly for rural and underserved areas. As part of that, federal policies and coverage should reflect that telemedicine is a way for rural and underserved areas to receive a higher degree of health care services. It is also a way for patients to save money and time traveling numerous miles to seek help.

As a part of that vision, I have introduced legislation to expand access to stroke telemedicine (also called “telestroke”) treatment in Medicare. Through telestroke, a patient having a stroke can gain access to specialists through the use of interactive videoconferencing, even if the hospital at which the patient is receiving treatment does not have a stroke neurologist available around the clock. This telestroke service should, for many patients, reduce the need for rehabilitation and nursing home stays because data shows us quick intervention can often prevent the most devastating effects of a stroke. The Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act (H.R. 2799) can be found at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.

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.

Robert Hurt on Obamacare

Once again, the obligatory editorial comment: The way I believe the cost of medical care can be reduced is to remove the "premiums and deductibles" and other insurance-gambling garbage from the equation, altogether, and forever. Nevertheless, outbound U.S. Representative Robert Hurt (R-VA-5) offers his successor good clear guidance on this...Any chance youall in the Fifth District can keep him in Congress? We need more people who can admit the need to abolish Obamacare.

Washington policies have real and often painful effects on Fifth District Virginians, and the implementation of the President’s healthcare law is a prime example of such. This misguided law has forced many hardworking Americans to accept reduced working-hours and unsustainable increases in their insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. Time and again we have seen examples of the shortcomings and flaws in this legislation; just last week we saw another culmination of these hardships as Aetna, the United States’ third largest health insurance company, pull out of Obamacare in 11 out of 15 states in which it operates due to unsustainable rate increases.
We have also seen this law result in cancelled policies, loss of access to current physicians and providers, and an online marketplace system that has proven to be vulnerable to data breaches. Developing the federal online marketplace cost the American taxpayer over $840 million because of poor planning and management. The implementation of the law has not only cost taxpayers billions of dollars, but it is not achieving one of the key promises the President made about the law - that it would reduce the cost of health care. As higher premiums, deductibles, and drug prices continue to drive health spending upward, he has clearly failed to deliver on that promise.
Perhaps most concerning of all is that the Administration has taken action in implementing a law that lacks constitutional or legal authority. The House Oversight Committee has uncovered information which shows senior officials within the administration expressed concern over the lack of legal authority to fund the Affordable Care Act program, but ultimately their concerns were pushed aside to further the President's political agenda. This revelation demonstrates that the administration knowingly ignored the Constitution to try to make the Affordable Care Act work. The House has sued the administration for improperly spending taxpayer dollars without legal authority, and in May of this year, a federal judge ruled that these payments are indeed unconstitutional. We will continue to fight tirelessly in the House to ensure this harmful law is repealed and fully replaced with a more responsible healthcare plan.
Unquestionably, there is no issue I hear about more from concerned Fifth District Virginians than the negative impact of the President’s healthcare law on their families and businesses. As I travel throughout our district, I consistently hear about the law’s devastating effects on our families, our workforce, and our struggling economy. President Obama sold his signature healthcare law to the American people on the basis of false promises, saying his signature law would lower premiums, but they are higher and will continue to rise, causing major healthcare providers to drop out of the healthcare exchange because the expenses are too high. The president told us we could keep our current health plans if we liked them and could continue seeing the doctors we know and trust, but that too proved incorrect. We have to implement real healthcare reform that actually reduces the cost of care, premiums, and deductibles and does not separate patients from their doctors. I remain committed to reforms that are patient-centered and market-oriented to deliver the healthcare system the American people deserve.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.

Tortie Tuesday: Heather Plays Peacemaker (Again)

It's a Tuesday. Tortie Tuesday, the day when cat bloggers everywhere post tributes to our beautiful orange-and-black, or orange-black-and-white, or buff-gray-and-cream-colored cats. I am not in that sort of mood. Yesterday, when I burned the trash that included a visiting tomcat's extra-disgusting, streppy-smelling mess, my cat Irene went around and kissed the garbage barrel, nonverbally saying, "But it was a souvenir of a dear friend!" Most of the time I can relate to my cats, but...well, actually, I think this lack of empathy for Irene's feelings has roots in the lack of empathy I feel for women who act idiotic and sentimental about men who should only hope, after a couple million years in the afterlife, to become good enough for these women to wipe their boots on.

And then this morning, when I stumbled out of the house feeling streppy and yucky, Irene's precious little daughter Violet ran right out in front of where I was walking and dropped another load of fresh germs right on the path. Of course, Violet was nonverbally saying, "I don't feel well, do you know why, can you help?" Of course, this is a danger point--Violet's made it past the age where I expected to lose her to Manx Syndrome entire and alone, hurrah, but if she's inherited milder forms of the typical Manx weaknesses, or other weaknesses, her first infectious illness could still wipe her out. Of course, deep down inside I want Irene to have one living daughter to love, before she is (I hope) spayed so that we don't have to watch any more cases of Manx Syndrome. Being able to keep one of her daughters mattered a great deal to Irene's grandmother; I suspect it'll mean as much, or more, to Irene. But as I looked at those two beautiful three-colored cats and my mind vibrated back and forth between the thoughts of "my precious pets" and "my feeling so bad this morning" I have to admit I did not feel a lot of love for Violet.

(Violet is bigger than she was when this picture was taken, and, if anything, cuter, and never doubt, she knows she's cute. Her face and underside show distinct color patches; her back is a "heathered" or "tortoise-shell" mix of black and orange.)

For Heather, the one whose orange and black hairs are mixed together above, with almost all the cream-white spots down where they don't show, yes. Heather's dark face doesn't look especially "purry" in her all-time best photo...

...but she is one of the nicest, kindest, most helpful cats it's ever been my privilege to know.

I don't personally know any humans called Heather; if I'd remembered that that was the name a human friend had given a daughter of hers whom I've never properly met, I wouldn't have given a cat that name. This year, when the human Heather has spent more time with her mother, her mother and I have looked at each other strangely on more than one occasion, in a way I've tried to avoid when naming cats. I will say, though, that if a human has to have a cat namesake, the human Heather has been blessed with a great one. There are days when I wish I were as nice, for a human, as Heather is, for a cat. This is one of those days.

Heather has never been an especially cuddly cat. Even with her own kittens, she's apt to leave them with Irene (whose previous kittens all had Manx Syndrome and died young, but not for lack of motherly love) and go off hunting, or teach them to hunt, rather than spend a lot of time snuggling. All cats touch, kiss, and "eye kiss" their friends of all species (if they have friends), and Heather does those things frequently, but efficiently. In some ways, although she and Irene are absolutely heterosexual, Heather plays "Daddy" to Irene's "Mommy." She's the tougher, more adventurous, more woodswise cat...but by no means the less loving or generous one.

For instance, when I yelled at Irene and Violet this morning, "You disgusting dogs! You make me sick!" Heather came up and kissed my hand. 

I all but literally heard her saying, "I'm sorry you're not feeling well. They're not feeling well either. Let's all be patient and stay friends, shall we?"

She looked to me as if she were coming down with the same little strep-related "summer cold" that I have, and presumably Violet has, by now. For the adult cats and year-old kittens, as for healthy humans like me, it's not serious. Antibiotics will wipe it out if it does last longer than two days, which it probably won't; many of us won't even feel our immune systems fighting it off, which is what's dragging my energy level down now. It is, nevertheless, a bore.

(And what's left to sell if I have to pay for antibiotics? Don't let's think about it. Violet, the one remaining kitten of this spring's fourteen, is still awfully young...antibiotics are about as likely to kill as they are to cure kittens. I've missed Violet's slightly younger, healthier cousins and long-buried siblings, especially Heather's adorable little buff-gray-and-cream, "pale tortoise-shell" or "grayzel" colored Peri (with "blue"-gray brother Winkle), but now I'm glad Heather's kittens were adopted early. Maybe the infection won't reach them for another two or three months.)

In sickness as in health, however--through all her years in this world--Heather has been consistently a kind cat. She'll slap an unruly kitten if necessary, show a tooth or a claw as a friendly warning, and I wouldn't want to make her fighting mad, but she's never bitten or scratched anyone in anger. She's a peacemaker, as her great-aunt Mogwai, her great-grand-uncle Mac, and the long-gone cat Black Magic to whom they're probably some sort of distant kin, used to be. Even among humans you don't meet a peacemaker every day. Heather doesn't get a chance to be one (mostly between kittens) every day, but she has consistently been one when she's had the chance.

I'm not one; that's why I admire them....my late husband was a peacemaker. The boy I actually liked in high school (as completely distinct from the random boys to whom I felt random, short-lived physical attractions) was a peacemaker. Our late e-friend Ozarque was not only a peacemaker, but also a writer who was able to write in a detached, scientific way about being one--possibly a unique combination. I'm not sure I know of any other peacemakers; I know people in the litigation-mediation field who try to be peacemakers, but have not always succeeded, and I've known a couple of people who actually sowed discord among people in order to gain social-emotional "power" by playing peacemakers. (They were, I suspect, like the people Ozarque described as seeing life as like a game of chess--dangerous, in a way.) Jimmy Carter may have achieved the unique distinction of being a peacemaker who was designated and used as such by sowers of discord...hard to say, but that's the way he comes across to me.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

What Is White Privilege?

At another site someone posted a poll question: "Are you aware of your White privilege?" Someone posted in reply: "What is White privilege?" Well, duh. I mean, I'm glad if younger people really have not noticed White privilege...that is, provided that they weren't just failing to pay attention.

First, let's admit that sometimes there is such a thing as non-White privilege, too. Just being the one who sticks out in a crowd can become unpleasant. White Americans who've travelled have had that experience, as have those of us who've worked in certain neighborhoods, certain school districts...there can certainly be privileges based on being an insider, or a kind of non-insider that's more liked/trusted than another kind.

Then there are the times when it's hard to be sure. Did the distracted employee actually not see who was there first?

(Once I waited at a pharmacy counter where two geriatric patients, one with pink skin and one with sable-brown skin, were waiting for prescriptions, along with a younger patient; I was with the darker-colored patient, the one who was too ill to go in alone, and who was there first. However, the counter worker had been in a back room when the patients approached. She looked at the patients, "Who was here first? You, sir?" and the White man, who had walked in alone and probably driven to the store alone, did have more white hair and more wrinkles. To her that patient might have looked like the oldest, therefore sickest, person who needed to be waited on first. Well, appearances are deceptive. The young person might have been sicker than either of the geriatric cases for all I know.)

And sometimes it's not actually about race, even if it looks that way. Have you ever liked one music recording better than another, without seeing the faces of the performers? Is the snooty server kissing up, not to the White customer as such, but to the customer who looks as if s/he spent more money? Did the other student's paper get a better grade because it flattered the teacher more?

But then sometimes the only reason people don't notice their White privilege has to be that they've never looked at the other point of view.

Remember this sweet little children's story? It's a story of White (middle-class, well-connected) privilege:


Ghetto boys have gone to jail for the kind of stunt that got the fictional character Logan Bruno hardly even rapped on the knuckles.

Back in my AC days, I wrote about "National Return Shopping Carts Month" (February, when it's easiest to see and recapture shopping carts in much of North America). I shared an anecdote about living in Maryland. I was always baffled by seeing so many shopping carts lying in bodies of water, and used to pick them up on the way to the store and push them in with me. One day I found a stray cart while walking through a majority-minority neighborhood, and the person walking beside me panicked. "Don't touch that cart! Do you want to go to jail?" I couldn't believe that my Cuban immigrant friend had seen anyone arrested just for returning a shopping cart, but yes, indeed, some store managers and some police officers worked on the assumption that anyone seen pushing a stray cart was probably the one who'd stolen it. I'd lived in neighborhoods where the assumption was that you were returning a cart that had blown down the stream bank in a storm. Those are typically majority White neighborhoods. That's White privilege.

More recently, a paranoid storekeeper reportedly demanded that a Muslim shopper remove her veil. Would she have demanded that a White American shopper remove a skirt, or even an overcoat, that could have concealed a lot more stolen merchandise than a face veil would cover? I frequently haul knitting and knitted goods around in bags that have room for a whole load of stolen goods; nobody's ever demanded the right to inspect my bag, even in stores that display a warning that they claim that right. That's White privilege. Not so much the assumption that no White woman is ever a thief as, in many cases, the assumption that if White women have robbed the store the staff will henceforward be able to recognize them from individual photos displayed in the staff lounge.


Once in Arlington I walked out of the library carrying a big stack of books. With my astigmatism, I walked right up to the car at the end of the row in the parking lot where I'd left my husband, wondered why he'd turned the car around in the parking space, but didn't focus closely enough to notice that someone else had parked another car, the same type and color...at the end of the row, actually, just beside my husband's car. I opened the door and said, "What'd you do, pick up dinner?"--to a total stranger. Then I saw the stranger sitting in the driver's seat, whirled around, saw my husband waving from his car, and smiled and said, "Oh, sorry, wrong car!" The stranger laughed, "Yes, it's the same car!" Nobody's scared by a little teacherly-looking woman loading books into the wrong car. And as we drove off my husband said, "You know, if you'd been a young Black man he would have called the police--or shot you." That's White privilege.

Well...I do not, actually, mind having enjoyed this kind of White privilege. Nor do I plan to stop extending it to other White people, this "privilege" of assuming that people are honest and decent until they indicate otherwise. I have, however, made a conscious decision to extend it to other types of people too, on the grounds that they deserve it about as much as White people do.

(These stories, collected by a minister who also happens to be a movie star, go into more detail about how extending the "privilege" of good faith toward young people can help.)

August 19 Link Log

My e-mail is getting just...too...interesting. All week all I've found time to do online have been writing-for-pay and e-mail. But that's a good thing, because I'm not making money in the real world! Categories: Food, Movies, Politics, Zazzle.

Food (Yum) 

Stuffed peppers for any season is a "yum." The toasted wheat germ? Meh. Adds gluten (without the wheat germ this is gluten-free), and a bitter flavor some people love and some hate. You could substitute flaxseed or meal and/or sesame seed or meal, and I'd love these peppers too.


There are too many food writers in Washington to justify my trying this writing job, but here's a dream job for a D.C.-based foodie.



I'm still not planning to watch either movie, unless the right person asks me, but Noah Gittell's review, comparing a wannabee blockbuster remake with an obscure documentary to be seen in just one small independent local theatre, is too witty to miss. If NG ever compiles a book, this post belongs in it.


Here's our Amazon link to the classic version of Ben-Hur, which is the one I recommend, although one of my sisters went to a Christian school that actually required her to read the book. (Her review: too many pages. I did read all the pages in Quo Vadis and The Silver Chalice, and for Ben-Hur I think the movie is enough.)

Ben Hur

Politics (Election 2016) 

Would you like to help vet Donald Trump's tax returns? Ben Eisenberg would; if interested, you can sign BE's petition here:


Is this petition to Mike Pence a legitimate petition we want to support, or a bogus petition got up to discredit the candidate? I don't know, but I say Governor Pence should look into it.



If you've ever had a nice sweater ruined when somebody slapped a nasty "my name is" sticker on it, first of all this web site salutes you if you were so kind and gracious you didn't even slap them down a long flight of stairs, and next, this button will probably appeal to you:

And, of course, there had to be one...

Book Review: Green Green My Valley Now

Title: Green Green My Valley Now

Author: Richard Llewellyn

Date: 1975

Publisher: Doubleday

ISBN: 0-385-03374-5

Length: 236 pages

Quote: “I suppose if something big is to be felt when you leave a place you love, then something bigger it should be when you go back.”

Huw Morgan, narrator of the earlier novel How Green Was My Valley, had left his home in Wales and gone to Argentina at the end of that book. Now he’s back in Wales to report on the “modernization” of his home town.

Many geologists believe that all of the currently inhabited continents were once a single land mass, which they hypothetically call Pangaea. Among the evidence that supports this theory is a physical and geological similarity between southern Britain and northeastern North America. According to the bedrock, Wales may once have lain just northeast of Nova Scotia. The landscapes of Huw’s beloved Valley, which fill him with “a drift of wonder beyond words,” look like the Appalachian Mountains; both may once have been part of a single land mass.

The damage the coal industry has done is, predictably, similar. “[W]here the other mountain once was, behind our house, is only plain sky…the pit has gone these years, with our house and all the other houses on the hill, flattened and buried under the slag.”

The language and culture are, of course, different. “[O]ur women worked in the pits long, long before, and good as any man, and earning with the best…and they left the pits only when oil began to take coal’s place…Awful years, those were, my mother said.”

Huw’s story is fiction, and his own, although it takes place in some (not all) of the places where Llewellyn had lived. In between How Green Was My Valley two other novels, Up into the Singing Mountain and  Down Where the Moon Is Small, described Huw’s fictional life in Argentina, his first marriage, widowhood, remarriage and so on. He returns to Wales with his second wife, Sus, “an Indio of Indios.”

If peace-loving, church-going Huw is disappointed by the decrease in church attendance, the number of little local “chapels” that have been rededicated to secular use,  he’s really dismayed by the violent “revolutionary” activities going on in the early 1970s in Europe. He’s shocked by the unchristian behavior of the people, many of whom aren’t even Welsh, that he meets in this section of his life. Among other things he retires, disturbed, from the company of two lesbians. He’s widowed again, in the course of this story, and he remarries again. In order to preserve some suspense for anyone interested in reading a story that’s mostly about an older man’s discomfort with the behavior of the young (the generation who are now “older”), this review won’t mention whom he remarries. There are a lot of women in the story and Huw is so consistently polite, discreet, oldfashioned, Protestant, or whatever, that readers won’t be sure which, if any, of them to regard as “a love interest” for several chapters in the middle of the book.

Huw’s character keeps the tone of this book discreet, but there’s no lack of sex and violence in this book; it’s merely less graphic than was fashionable in 1975. It is, in fact, more of a chronicle than a novel. The central question raised by the plot is whether Huw still wants to live in the Valley and, despite his conservative personality, there’s not a great deal of suspense about that.

The copy of Green Green My Valley Now that I physically own is in poor condition, and is cheap. Otherwise, prices for all three sequels to How Green Was My Valley are in the collectors' range, but as of today this web site can still offer copies of Green Green My Valley Now for $5 per book + $5 per package. (How Green Was My Valley, which was a bestseller and became a movie, is still cheap; the other two volumes are rare and more expensive--the set of four may well go over $100.) As always, the shipping charge applies to as many books as fit into the package and would cover all four volumes, or any other combination of books you choose to order.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: Kristy and the Secret of Susan

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Kristy and the Secret of Susan (Baby-Sitters Club #32)

Author: Ann M. Martin

Date: 1990

Publisher: Apple /Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-73189-0

Length: 145 pages

Quote: “The teachers and Mr. Felder and I are hoping that, through music, Susan can acquire some meaningful language as well as some social skills.”

Susan is the sort of child that even the Baby-Sitters Club are glad they don’t have to mind very often. She’s autistic, doesn’t speak, isn’t toilet-trained, but she can play anything on the piano. Note-perfect. Including the mechanical errors in the old LP on which she heard a song.

The strangest thing about Susan as a character is that, although she doesn’t seem ever to have learned to talk, read, or understand words, she’s swallowed (mentally) a perpetual calendar and can give the day of the week on which any date fell or falls. Some late-talking children, usually boys who are not autistic and who talk fluently when they begin talking at all, are in fact understanding words; they just learn to talk by mentally rehearsing their language, to themselves, until they can talk right, without going through the babbling and baby-talk stages. It’s possible that they might memorize huge amounts of written information, possibly as a visual image, before they’re able to discuss the information or even understand it, and regurgitate that information by rote. But how would Susan have absorbed dates if she didn’t know words? Something is missing, whether from the fictional story of Susan, or from the story Martin heard about some real child before creating Susan.

Maybe that’s why it seems to Kristy as if Susan must really understand things, as if a little more niceness from other children might precipitate a Real Breakthrough. Genuinely autistic children don’t have Real Breakthroughs; whatever they do perceive is sufficiently different from what the rest of us perceive that, if they do acquire meaningful language and social skills, it’s a long slow process. But maybe, if Susan can hear and understand words, she’s not really autistic so much as just extremely shy…? Kristy makes an effort…and it’s no use. Whether she’s been accurately presented or not, in the reality of the story Susan really is autistic.

This is one of the less cheerful BSC books, irredeemably, despite having a subplot that gives Mallory a summer “boy friend.” Autism is a sad thing. But everyone is very, very nice. Even the kids who are making fun of Susan do it in such a nice, subtle, sophisticated way that Susan will never care. Or know.

To buy it here, send $5 per copy + $5 per package to either address at the very bottom of the screen. You can get several BSC books into a $5 package, and we'll send Martin or a charity of her choice $1 per book.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Book Review: To Chase a Dark Shadow

A Fair Trade Book

Title: To Chase a Dark Shadow

Author: Carole Gift Page

Date: 1985

Publisher: Accent

ISBN: 0-89636-161-6

Length: 195 pages

Quote: “Why couldn’t she put her child out of her mind as she had intended six years ago at his birth?”

Victoria is a thoroughly modern yuppie-type Christian of the 1980s. If she used birth control devices that are only 98% effective, and one of those times happened to be the one time in fifty when the product was guaranteed to fail her, she could just put the child up for adoption and get on with her life…couldn’t she?

Well, no. Victoria’s life, such as it’s been, has been a student’s life shared with her mother. When her mother dies, the university becomes a barren place, her thesis almost boring, and she finds herself spending a lot of time at her mother’s grave…where she soon notices a young man visiting his wife’s grave. By the time he tells her he’s a private investigator who helps people find missing family members, she’s starting to think a lot about the son she never knew. She’s also warning herself that the young man still seems to be attached to his lost wife. Little does she know that, according to the mysterious workings of Providence and novel writers, she’s being called to rescue her son from mortal danger.

Her son lost his adoptive parents in a car accident. He was injured. He has post-traumatic seizures. Medication can help reduce the severity, but only time cures post-traumatic seizures. But in the 1980s there were Americans who believed that post-traumatic seizures had something to do with demon possession. Had the patient sinned? Had the patient been “conceived in sin”? You see! Proof! Demons begone! And if one or two prayer sessions didn’t banish the demons, it was the patient’s fault! It had to be, because otherwise it’d be the fault of the Christians who’d tried to cast out the demons! (A student, not at my church college but at a different denominational school nearby, used to have post-traumatic seizures; I'm sorry to admit that one of the teachers tried to exorcise him, too, and blamed him when he continued to have "demon headaches.")

Victoria will learn about seizures, and about local laws and other things, as the plot heats up. Eventually, after she’s made full use of his professional services and would have no further use for him if she really weren’t hoping he’d make a move, Phillip the private investigator will admit to a more personal interest in Victoria, who of course returns his interest…it’s just that women who were students in 1985 had been taught that our role in the dance of romance was to respond to the male’s pursuit.

To Chase a Dark Shadow is a nice, plausible piece of chick lit about a nice, plausible young woman. The way Victoria prays is not necessarily the way every reader has been taught to pray. I for one am willing to accept that she does pray, after whatever fashion she’s been taught; characters who pray are nicer than characters who wail, have hysterics, or pop pills.

Carole Gift Page is apparently still alive and writing, so this is a Fair Trade Book. Buy it here, for $5 per copy + $5 per package, and we'll send $1 to Page or a charity of her choice.  

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Gift of Tongues and the Baptism of the Spirit (Christian Testimony, Revisited)

(Trigger warnings? This is, obviously, a Christian post...cut from the Link Log due to length, not religious identity. Since I anticipate posting another long Link Log and probably another full-length post on the day I'm writing it, perhaps this one should be scheduled for Saturday, even though it's more about me than about God.)

I like the Bible study linked below. I highly recommend it to some local lurkers:


Not just because it could be used to "prove" that I've been Baptized By the Holy Spirit, even though I was physically baptized far from home, in Florida, in standing water, by a Cuban-American who clearly pronounced a name different from mine, and I didn't even hear which of the two possible texts he uttered at the moment of baptism because I was under water...so some of my relatives have been saying, throughout my adult life, that I was baptized "wrong" and need to be baptized all over again, properly, in one local church as opposed to the others, which of course was what my parents hoped to avoid...

But I see the confusion this preacher sees. "The gift of tongues" has sometimes been a real gift that has served God in miraculous ways. Often, however, it's a source of confusion.

Sincere Christians fret because they don't have "the gift of tongues," when for all we can tell they may have received more useful gifts. What about the gift of sobriety, for an addict? The gift of celibacy, for someone who's been sucked into a sex-obsessed subculture and got out before developing AIDS? Are you going to doubt that those are gifts from God? I'm not.

Troubled souls think they have "the gift" when what they really have is the kind of glossolalia that's a symptom of emotional distress. I had that, once--the kind where you're profoundly burdened by something you can't even explain, while trying to pray out loud in public, so you just break into an old traditional prayer in Latin, which you happen to have learned previously...Was that a gift from God? Well, maybe it kept me from divulging other people's secrets to the church, but that's all it did. I think of it as having been strictly an effect of caring too much about someone I couldn't help.

Then there's the kind that's an effect of unconscious learning. At my church college a lot of us spoke Spanish, some with native fluency, some not; the ones who had to work at learning Spanish used to hang around the ones who spoke with native fluency for language practice. Eventually we formed a multiethnic crowd in which bilingual conversations took place, in the school cafeteria. (That was something that had been much discussed, but never before seen, in the history of that school.) A few people who hung out with that crowd didn't speak Spanish at all, so far as they knew...but they heard it. One day I was out at a church mission with a Connecticut Yankee who had never taken a Spanish class. A man came up to us speaking Spanish, and the Yankee unthinkingly blurted out the Spanish phrase that answered the man's question correctly. He thought he might have received a sort of micro-gift of tongues, although he wasn't sure exactly what he'd said and couldn't say anything else in Spanish. Well, maybe that experience was a spiritual blessing for him, but I think of it as having been an effect of overhearing things, the same way a tune that's been used as a commercial jingle might bring a commercial trademark to the mind of someone who's never consciously paid attention to the jingle.

Then there's the kind discussed in this novel, written with empathy by an unbeliever...

What I Really Think of You by [Kerr, M. E.]

...where the preacher's daughter has learned the idea of "speaking in the unknown tongue," which is just basic babytalk, and she can babble as well as anyone else because babbling is what people do in her church. I have no idea how much of the "tongue" speaking heard in some churches is this kind of babbling, as distinct even from real glossolalia. I try not to worry about it, to admit the possibility that if people "speaking in tongues" think they are glorifying God in some way they may be glorifying God. That is not how a lot of it sounds to me, but how do I know what it sounds like to God?

And then there's the kind that I've always felt tempted to do...My brother and I happened to be born with a fascination by, and a talent for, words and languages. We had our own "language" made up of bits of Spanish and French and Latin and German and English and baby-babble; I've written fiction that uses constructed languages based on that. Our parents wanted us to stick to proper French, Spanish, and German, but couldn't give us enough conversation practice to build real multilingual brains. My brother was the one who could converse, in a limited way, in French; I'm the one who can converse, in a limited way, in Spanish. I can puzzle out German, Latin, Italian, Portuguese, with a dictionary. I've picked up odd bits, not enough to do more than figure out what song lyrics mean with a dictionary, of many other languages. It's not a spiritual gift; it's a hobby, like drawing or cultivating flowers or collecting stamps.

Once I prayed fervently, and I think it's possible that God gave me the micro-gift of being able to use what German I know--which isn't much--to comfort a dying woman who was speaking Yiddish. And then again, if she'd lived longer, it might have turned out that my own vanity tricked me into using my German to confuse, deceive, and upset the lady, because I've never known for sure exactly what I said, whether I claimed to be her long-dead granddaughter or something. I know I meant well, in a spiritual way; I know I heard myself using German more fluently, and being understood better, than would have been possible if I'd been consciously speaking German without praying. Only the facts that the old lady obviously had a moment of joy, and died a few days later, have ever allowed me to imagine that that incident was a gift from God. I've known people for whom similar incidents seemed to be gifts from the Evil Principle.

When I've been exposed to people whose "worship" services seemed more like mean little kids imitating younger, foreign, or speech-impaired people, there's always been the temptation to join them in what's always seemed to me like a blasphemous parody of worship. I mean I could do that, convincingly. Without even praying I could walk into a Pentecostal church where nobody knows me, or into a gathering of non-Christians who believe in past lives for that matter, and close my eyes and recite a lovely old song that I memorized because it sounds good, and go all, "Oh, I was praying in a spiritual language," and wait for somebody to scream, "No, you were speaking Gaelic! Fluently! Glory be, it's a miracle," or a past life--whichever. I would know it was neither a miracle nor a past life, and I'd be laughing at those people.

I've never actually done this; it's always felt like a mean, spiteful, antichristian thing to do. But I've always had the ability to do it. I've known, too, that there are situations when it's exactly what the prophets in the Bible would have done. If I knew for sure that someone "speaking in the unknown tongue" was a charlatan, I reserve the right to be "slain in the spirit" and start hopping around, speaking (my severely limited amount of) Swahili fluently, and smack that person's face just the way "the spirit" told me to.

Friends and fellow believers...I suspect, though I don't positively know, that this kind of conscious play-acting is what goes on in some of your churches, even in some of the very same churches where a worthless drunken brawler received the miraculous gift of sobriety and so on. I have heard stories, told after the people involved were dead and it was possible to see how their lives turned out. One man sincerely repented and prayed and received the gift of sobriety, and everyone was awestruck, yes. (And he was sober for thirty-some years.) And another man came in, "speaking in the unknown tongue," and stole the wife and mother from a local family, and the daughter was so mortified she quit school and let the shame of her mother's seduction ruin her life. And a beautiful girl with almost knee-length Cherokee-black hair spoke and sang in tongues, and pious people felt blessed by the Holy Spirit while listening to her sweet young voice, and impious people were moved by a different sort of spirit, and after certain experiences the details of which will never be known, she went north and became a notorious prostitute. (Eventually she settled down and came back to our town, and my parents always said I had to be extra-polite to the nasty old hag she'd become, too, while at the same time avoiding her as much as possible, because of her horrible, shameful story.) The Spirit of God has been among such churches, but other spirits have been present too.

Even in the apostolic church, at the same time that the gift of tongues was accomplishing miraculous things, the apostles themselves were guided to downplay "speaking in tongues" in the churches--to limit the time the church spent listening to someone "speaking in tongues" to the time during which some other person present could understand and translate what was said. I believe this guideline may need more attention in some churches, and "the unknown tongue" may deserve less. The kind of ordinary emotional glossolalia that happens when someone doesn't want to talk about someone else's sins and blurts out "God have mercy" in some old forgotten language is really best reserved for private prayer at home, as the Bible teaches.

What I believe has been God's special gift to me, some years of spiritual discipline after my physical baptism with water, has been spiritual love, or freedom from hate. The local Trash Class (in which category I most definitely include social workers who enable welfare cheats, along with the cheats themselves) have tested this gift thoroughly in recent years. Yes, of course you can make me despise you, just by acting trashy. If you're determined to convince me that you're not as nice or as clever as any dog I'd be willing to feed, you can certainly do that. Many people have done it. But you can't make me hate you, the way I did as an unenlightened child, or the way some harassed introverts (of whom Hitler was the epitome) do as adults. I may be the only one who can say for sure that the difference exists, while I'm still alive--but it does. Good will toward humankind is a gift from God, and you can't touch it. Even if you died and, for your sins, you were sent back to Earth as a disease germ, you couldn't touch it.

Well, I've spent the last few years in rather peculiar circumstances, what with all this working and not being paid. I'm honest, competent, trained and educated; I've never claimed or wanted to be a genius but I was on the Dean's List at Berea and I did have a successful business of my own, for years, starting while I was too sick to work and continuing while I was fostering a teenager. That "book-smart but life-stupid" label is there for the haters to fall back on as long as I continue not to be rich, and if you want to say that the choice not to acquire money by unethical means is stupid, feel free; the Holy Spirit has never told me not to despise that belief or those who spout it; I suspect the Holy Spirit despises that belief, too.

I've not asked for or received "visions" as most people think of them, ever, but I have received spiritual insights during prayer. One of them is that the reason why I've not been paid what I've earned is that the church is the living Body of Christ, and that Body is like the sick, dying bodies in a hospital, unable to move a finger because so much of its nerve and muscle tissue is dead. (That, of course, being the hypocritical churchgoers in whom the Spirit of Christ never lived, who among other things "have eaten their portions themselves, and the fatherless have not partaken thereof.")

Another is that, although I'm not a saint and not really even the nun I've been living like, I've spent the past decade here as the representative of Christ to the self-proclaimed Christians I know. Youall are showing Jesus what you think of Him by the way you behave toward me. Toward other people, too, whom some of you know better than I know them or than you know me. Toward those who have, after much prayer and struggle, received the gifts of sobriety or celibacy or anger-management or money-management or parental love or truthfulness or some other thing they notoriously lacked in the past... In any case, many of you churchgoing types had better prepare to be lashed.

Whether the "gift of tongues" some of you exhibit in some churches was just the sort of confused babbling that non-Christian writer guessed it to be, or just unconscious learning or emotionality, or deliberate fraud, or perhaps even a foretaste of a real gift God may call you to use some day, I don't know. Likely those of you for whom it was learning, emotionality, or a real gift, don't even know which it is--yet--yourselves.

I was with one of you one day when a TV news channel broadcast an Israeli memorial service, and you said, "What's she saying? She has such a heavy accent"--and my immediate thought was, "Wow, have you studied Hebrew enough to tell one accent from another? I've not...but that's such basic Hebrew!"--and then the translator came on and voiced-over the rest of the service in English. I've never forgotten that day, though. You had not studied Hebrew. I have, a little. You heard that lady say "My father was a man of peace" almost as clearly as I did, and for you it was a gift. Whether it was a spiritual gift or a more mundane gift of learning, who knows.

I suspect, though, that if Jesus visited your church He might say something like, "Youall speak with the tongues of men and angels, yet you have neglected works of mercy and charity. Those you ought to have done, and not left the other undone." And even if He said it in classical Greek, and you were blessed with the ability to understand it in Greek without ever having studied Greek, you'd do better to heed His words in Matthew 23:23 rather than only marvelling at your own gift.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Morgan Griffith on Oxycodone and Marijuana

Er, um...Just to make sure everyone is on the same page with this, we're talking about studies of medicinal tinctures of marijuana, not smoking leaves or whiffing wax.

I have an anti-marijuana anecdote to share, actually. Secondhand marijuana smoke may not make people believe they can fly, the way the real hallucinogenic drugs do, but it certainly can make them sick enough to impair their judgment. Once, as teenagers, my brother and I did some inadvertent research on secondhand pot on a Greyhound bus. Neither of us ever smoked; I don't think my brother ever went to a party or worked in an office where people were passing a joint around, and when I did, I left...but back then Greyhound encouraged people to smoke tobacco at the back of the bus, which of course made the air all over the bus so foul that people could smoke quite a lot of marijuana, too, before anyone could be positive about what they were breathing. All you knew was that it was sickening. And, yes, depending on body size and sensitivity, you could get stoned that way. We did. Nobody was sharing the joint with us half-grown kids, up near the front of the bus...but we got stoned. To this day I have a neat little scar on my left hand because my brother, for no obvious reason, suddenly reached over and dug a thumbnail into my hand. And I was feeling too sick, too sleepy, too polluted, to care, at the time. Both of us were hung-over in the morning, too, over and above being "allergic to Florida" (reacting to all the mosquito poison sprayed along the beaches).

If an hour or two of breathing secondhand marijuana had that effect on us, y'know...much depends on your body size and sensitivity, but not all Greyhound drivers were (or are) huge, numb individuals either. The driver on that particular bus was just about our size...

I don't think it should ever be legal, or even be decriminalized, to subject anyone else to marijuana smoke. In a moving vehicle, that might deserve to be ruled a felony. Under ordinary circumstances, the amounts of secondhand smoke I've inhaled gave me a headache, nothing worse, but people have gone into anaphylactic shock from breathing secondhand marijuana smoke.

Medically regulated, controlled doses of marijuana extracts that may (or may not) really help sick patients? Surely the police have better things to do than bother about that. And although I know firsthand that a pot hangover feels yucky, I've never seen anyone coming off marijuana attempt suicide because the backlash of pain was unbearable, the way people coming off pain pills do...I used to live next door to a man who committed suicide when he was coming down from codeine. Neither have I seen anyone smoking marijuana go barking, howling mad, or have a heart attack, or both, the way some people do on meth.

The position of this web site is that there are better ways to control pain than any drug. However, I believe the people who are currently involved with illegal pills and meth would be a lot less dangerous to have as neighbors if they were legally growing marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes. Congressman Griffith speaks here out of concern for his constituents.

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

DEA Appears to Think Oxycodone Less of a Problem than Marijuana

In recent years, more and more people have expressed an interest in advancing medical research into potential benefits and risks associated with the use of medicinal marijuana. I am among them, having supported efforts to address the burdensome processes that currently impede legitimate medical research on marijuana.

Unlike many other circumstances, I believe this is a situation in which President Obama has the authority to appropriately use his pen and his phone to remove barriers to research in order to help sick people.

Regrettably, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently announced it is not changing the scheduling of marijuana, which is to remain a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act, the same classification as heroin.

For comparison, oxycodone (OxyContin) and methamphetamine are Schedule II drugs. Schedule II controlled substances are defined as drugs that have a DEA-accepted medical use in treatment as well as a high potential for abuse.

Schedule I controlled substances such as marijuana, on the other hand, are substances which according to the DEA have NO medical use AND a high potential for abuse.

In other words, the DEA is saying that oxycodone and methamphetamine have medical uses, though they seem to have determined these drugs do not have high potential for abuse. I would say to the DEA, “Get your head out of the sand and look around. Marijuana has significant issues for which we should be concerned, but it seems to have nothing near the addictive qualities of oxycodone and methamphetamine.”

Keeping marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug and denying it may have medical use limits the ability of researchers to study the drug’s safety and effectiveness as a treatment.

Accordingly, rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substance Act would indicate that the federal government finally acknowledges an accepted medical use and would help to allow research into potential therapeutic benefits and risks of medical marijuana use.

There are countless reports of marijuana’s medicinal benefits in treating conditions including cancer, epilepsy, and glaucoma, but patients, doctors, pharmacists, and policymakers must have more to rely on than anecdotal evidence.

It is maddening that this Administration and this DEA seem to be continuing to refuse to make it significantly easier for scientists to study medicinal marijuana so that those patients, doctors, pharmacists, and policymakers can rely on science and facts.

I have been working to change the laws to permit the rigorous study of medicinal marijuana. But the President appears to be taking no action either way, creating a situation in which the federal government is not enforcing the law in some states and maybe enforcing the law in others, in effect prohibiting doctors from using medicinal marijuana.

For example, a mother with an epileptic child can purchase a marijuana tincture for her child in Colorado. She doesn’t know exactly what dose is appropriate, but knows it significantly reduces the amount of seizures her child endures. But if they travel to Virginia, she either has to risk arrest by state or federal officers by continuing to use the treatment, or instead, watch her daughter suffer.

Philosophically, I believe the laws of our country ought to either be enforced or changed. The President, it seems, turns a blind eye to blatant recreational use of marijuana, but callously allows his DEA to continue to block potentially life-improving medications. You see, in this case, the President has the ability to reschedule the drug through his DEA, but for unknown reasons, is neither enforcing nor changing the policy.

DEA also recently announced it is increasing the number of DEA- registered medical marijuana growers/manufacturers. Previously, only one entity in the United States – the University of Mississippi – had been authorized to produce marijuana for American researchers.
That, to me, is a step in the right direction.

While I am concerned that limited access potentially resulting from DEA’s decision not to reschedule marijuana may continue to delay potential treatments and therapies, I am optimistic its decision to expand the number of growers will make it easier for scientists to study medical marijuana and its risks/benefits. This work may be of interest to folks at research universities in the Commonwealth, particularly Virginia Tech in the Ninth District which has agricultural expertise as well as a medical school based on doing research.

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.

Best of the Spam Folder, or How Not to Get There

[Cut from the Link Log due to length.]

Although Candidate Trump has reportedly gone to Louisiana for the sort of photo-op with disaster victims that candidates and state-level politicians can rarely resist, Michael Moore is still claiming (with partisan political motivations showing, of course) that Trump is not a serious candidate. I wanted to discuss this a bit because, although I've signed up for Moore's e-mails, and for Mark Warner's and for Ben Carson's and for several other people's, I seldom see them...and I found a lot of good things in the spam folder today. Why was I even looking at the spam folder? Because Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter had got into it somehow.

The usual reason why good e-mail goes into the spam folder is that people forget and send out e-mails containing too many pictures, or too detailed, too blow-up-into-poster-friendly, in some ways too good pictures. That aaaallllways seems to happen with Senator Warner's e-mail. It's frustrating, but then it's also frustrating when I try to read e-mail from a computer like the dear little Sickly Snail and one "good" picture crashes the whole system, because pictures are memory hogs. That's why Yahoo automatically misfiles picture-burdened e-mail as spam.

Another reason is that, in order to filter out the garbage that offers to enhance your "manhood" even if you're a woman, Yahoo has an insanely tight filter for vulgar words. Since it's all done by computer, headlines containing things like "Homo sapiens," "former Vice-President Dick Cheney," and "the town of Hell, Michigan" are guaranteed to cause Yahoo to file e-mails as spam. I'm not sure what algorithm they use to allow a few e-mails containing phrases like "natural honey is more contaminated than corn syrup" or "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take this any more" to get through, while others don't...but if you want me to see your e-mail, Gentle Readers, please keep it extremely clean. Remember I'm an aunt!

Anyway, this morning I got into an e-conversation with Congressman Griffith's e-mail aide about what had happened to this week's E-Newsletter. Sure enough, it had been misfiled as spam, possibly because it mentions medical marijuana. Well, no worries, it's not a tacky spam offer to sell you that! It's forthcoming; some Virginians may want to weigh in on this topic, though all I, personally, ask is that anyone selling medical marijuana sell it in a non-smokable form.

But this e-mail from Michael Moore happened to be in the spam folder right beside Congressman Griffith's, and it was picture-free. It was getting filed as spam because it contained a few rude words. Now, if you've read Moore's books, and if you've talked to people on the streets of our big cities these days, you know that Michael Moore is not an especially foulmouthed fellow. He uses just enough rude words to sound, y'know, sort of hip and peppery, the way he is, by D.C. or New York or Detroit standards. That's what I wanted to mention here. You cannot sound that way in Yahoo e-mail if you want people to read your e-mails. I'm not the one who panics at the sight of words like "crazy," and as far as I'm concerned, if you're in or from Michigan you're entitled to say whatever your sense of neighborliness allows you to say about Hell. On Yahoo, however, you are dealing with an hysterically hypersensitive machine. So beware, be-e-e-ware. (Many good e-mails are asleep in the deep...)

Well...you also need to know that the original e-mail was longer than this. (More slang and vulgarisms, yes.) I tried to post it as a link that would fit into the Link Log, and Google wouldn't let me, possibly because Moore used Yahoo to type it. But here's the election theory/joke, for those who enjoy such...slangy reference to the little tourist town cut, per this site's contractual obligation, because he didn't capitalize the name of Hell:

Soon, though, his karma caught up with him. Calling Mexicans “rapists” should have disqualified him on Day One (or for saying Obama wasn’t born here, as he did in 2011). No, it took 13 months of racist, sexist, stupid comments before he finally undid himself with the trifecta of attacking the family of a slain soldier, ridiculing the Purple Heart and suggesting that the pro-gun crowd assassinate Hillary Clinton. By this past weekend, the look on his face said it all — “I hate this! I want my show back!” But it was too late. He was damaged goods, his brand beyond repair, a worldwide laughing stock — and worse, a soon-to-be loser.

But, let me throw out another theory, one that assumes that Trump isn’t as dumb or crazy as he looks.

Maybe the meltdown of the past three weeks was no accident. Maybe it’s all part of his new strategy to get [...] out of a race he never intended to see through to its end anyway. Because, unless he is just “crazy,” the only explanation for the unusual ramping up, day after day, of one disgustingly reckless statement after another is that he’s doing it consciously (or subconsciously) so that he’ll have to bow out or blame “others” for forcing him out. Many now are sensing the end game here because they know Trump seriously doesn’t want to do the actual job — and, most importantly, he cannot and WILL NOT suffer through being officially and legally declared a loser — LOSER! — on the night of November 8th.

Here's the Amazon link to one of Moore's better vintage documentaries:

And here's a page at his web site that...disappoints me. I was hoping to see more evidence of more people winning the Modern-Day Battle of the Bulge here. What are youall waiting for? My crummy cheap-phone pictures? You seriously think Michael Moore would look at the kind of pictures the Tracfone takes? I know some of you have got to have better cell phones than that. Share, please!


Now to post this...Google + doesn't like that picture of that video? Say whaaat? Oh, right, because it's too big. Let's try another Amazon-linked picture.

Book Review: Sundial of the Seasons

Title: Sundial of the Seasons

Author: Hal Borland

Date: 1964

Publisher: Lippincott

ISBN: none

Length: 344 pages

Quote: “[F]rom that first outdoor editorial have grown more than a third of a million words about wind and weather, time and the seasons, man and his natural environment. In this volume I have chosen 365 out of a total of close to 1,200 of those pieces.”

This, then, is a selection of phenology posts. As a book its purpose is not strictly phenological, although an index on pages 345-350 does allow readers to chart weather patterns to some extent. The short articles reprinted here skip about: “March 21, 1954; March 22, 1959; March 23, 1952; March 26, 1961; March 27, 1960,” and so on. The purpose of the book is more generally to communicate a sense of respect for Nature. “[B]irds and trees and insects still outnumber people…It is obvious…that man and all his works…do not constitute the whole of life or the greater part of activity upon this earth.”

Within an historical context, however, Borland’s observations do serve the ultimate purpose of phenology—to determine when, whether, if at all, real “global climate change” has taken place. In my teen years, a few record cold winters, back to back, had put the fear of a Second Ice Age into many of us. “The children had to miss a whole month of school due to snow,” people were saying more recently. “That’s not global warming.” No, but neither is it global cooling, which was what we worried about during the months of school we missed due to snow in 1977 and 1978. Far from imagining that Asheville was about to displace Miami as North America’s southeast beach town, we feared that Asheville might be about to displace Thunder Bay as its northeast frontier…

Borland documents that this has not happened. Instead, “once Spring starts moving north it travels at…approximately seventeen miles a day…for places of approximately the same altitude above sea level. another scale of calculation comes into effect whne you come to a ridge of hills…Spring…climbs only 100 feet of altitude in a day. Spring may creep intoa  valley with green grass and violets ona Sunday morning and not reach the top of a  200-foot hill bordering that valley until Tuesday noon.”

Allowing for the effects of latitude and altitude, the predictable weather events of the 1950s occurred on about the same schedule phenology bloggers document them occurring now. No two years’ weather will ever be exactly alike. There are colder and warmer seasons, wetter and drier seasons. One year a certain flower blooms as early as March; another year it waits until July; normally it blooms in May, and if we walk far enough to find them we probably see other flowers of its kind blooming in May, even when that particular flower bloomed later or earlier. Borland, in the Berkshires, considers it normal to see willow catkins on the tenth of April; I, in the Blue Ridge, usually see a few willow catkins in the third or fourth week of March.

There are also differences in what can be observed on different walks. Some flowers, and the birds and butterflies they attract, thrive on full sunlight; some prefer more shade. Some thrive in wet years, some in dry years. Some coexist for years with mown grass, some do not. Changes in humans’ and animals’ behavior may trigger changes in flowers’, birds’, and butterflies’ behavior: where there is more smoke (including motor exhaust fumes) closer to the ground, there are fewer insects, since insects don’t enjoy flying through smoke, and there will soon be more of some flowers and fewer of others, depending on what the insects ate and/or pollinated.

So, some of the creatures Borland observes are familiar to me, to Pamela Dean, to Naomi, and to other bloggers in various parts of North America. Some are not.

I’m particularly bemused by Borland's claim that the Black Duck is “the common duck of New England.” It is uncommon in the South. It is a threatened species, perennially threatened, because it does not suspect that humans want to think of it as a separate species. It rather obviously thinks of itself as basically the same sort of bird as our common wild duck, the Mallard. It is usually smaller, thinner, darker of coat and brighter of foot than a Mallard, and makes a slightly different noise…All the Black Ducks I have met were travelling with Mallards. Black Ducks are continually threatening to breed themselves back into the Mallard gene pool. They can mate with teals, too, and even with wide-billed Shovellers, if they really try. Sometimes they do; ducks have no noticeable sense of "race."

If you enjoy phenology blogs you’ll probably enjoy Sundial of the Seasons, despite its unscientific format. It is going into the collector price range. To buy it here, send $10 per copy + $5 per package to either address at the bottom of the screen. (You could add one to three more books of similar size to the package.)