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Friday, May 29, 2015

The Suspense Rises

Reclaimed from Bubblews, where it appeared on February 25, 2014, and shared here just to remind everybody what a disappointment the Bubblews scam was. (The funds were raised, and the homeless family got their trailer house on their own land, anyway.)

Image credit: if you search for "discouraged" at Morguefile, this image, shared by Puravida, is what comes up...



Click on that Bank icon...$49.84! I probably won't be here to see my Bubblews earnings tick over to $50.

As regular readers have been reminded every day I've been here, this first $50 goes directly to the church fund on behalf of the family discussed here:


I've not been in contact with the church during these months. They have a low-tech phone without voice mail, and the building is often empty. (And Tracfone, those meanies, started deducting prepaid minutes for calls nobody answered to subsidize those Obamaphones. And the expensive TV ads to make sure every welfare cheat in America got one. I do think people who have disabilities and/or are looking for jobs should have cell phones, but...Tracfones were very affordable before they were subsidized.) So my current plan is that, one day this week, whichever day the weather seems best, I'll spend a day offline, spend part of the day in Kingsport, and call the church for free from there, to find out exactly how they want their $50.

Reading back through old posts, I see where TheresaWiza recommended a few fundraising sites. I've tried using those and had no luck, but maybe with all of your help I might have had, if I'd started sooner. Oh well...it's always possible that someone has actually donated a trailer house during these eight weeks. 

If not, I get a lot of housemates who have enough trouble without having to deal with the fact that they don't want to be my housemates. Not to mention the fact that the older part of the house that has the three spacious and private rooms was damaged by the 2011 cyclone; the current condition of those rooms would be depressing for a healthy person to move into, and the father in this family has had cancer.

I will be spending even less time online in March than I have been in January and February. I'll try to get up to the computer center every week or two and check in.

Book Review: The Girls of Huntington House

A Fair Trade Book

Title: The Girls of Huntington House
        
Author: Blossom Elfman

Author's web page: http://www.spokeo.com/Blossom+Elfman+1
        
Date: 1972
        
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
        
ISBN: 0-395-13951-1
        
Length: 212 pages
        
Quote: “I would also learn a lesson, a significant and vital lesson, from a sixteen-year-old girl without any judgment, without any logic, without any husband.”
        
Presumably the stories of the pregnant teenagers are the fictional part of this book. After an introduction like that, one suspects that the teacher, who narrates their story, is probably Blossom Elfman.
        
Among the things the teacher learns from her students is a short summary of the inadequacy of a compulsory school system. “The best way for kids to escape the overcrowded city classrooms? Just get pregnant.” From the nurses at the school she learns more useful, though icky, information about pregnancy.
        
Teacher doesn’t learn, at the special school for pregnant girls, what she already knows about men. It’s so unfashionable, but...Teacher always says no to her Significant Other. He stays around. The students have all said yes to men. None of those men has stayed around. Most men are pursuers; what’s completely achieved becomes uninteresting. For teacher to appreciate her superior “relationship skills” would have been very unfashionable in 1972.
        
Instead, she learns a much more fashionable piece of wisdom for this historical period. Brace yourself for this revelation: Teacher has been thinking too much! Just like the pregnant teenagers have been feeling too much, and not thinking enough! Teacher needs to learn to feel more!
        
This is not my idea of a satisfactory revelation. Nevertheless, along the way The Girls of Huntington House have things to tell us that teenaged girls need to hear: being pregnant is often uncomfortable, often disgusting, and it ruins your high school social life, and then you may not even get to keep the baby. That qualified as enough of a meaningful message that libraries across America stocked this book, and A House for Jonnie O, for thirty-five years.
        
And has anything really changed enough to make more than the vintage slang in this book outdated? Even in 1972 not all school districts funded special schools for pregnant students, and meanwhile, being a pregnant teenager is still uncomfortable and disgusting, still ruins your social life, and may still lead to your being denied custody of the baby. Only, now, some states allow social workers to urge pregnant teenagers to “choose” abortion, which is even more uncomfortable and disgusting, and still ruins your social life, and—the main reason why these greedheads recommend it—may not give you a much-needed break from school.
        
Tragically, our society still isn’t ready to hear what Joycelyn Elders had to say to teenaged girls: When you just want to have fun with your date, there are a lot of things you can do that won’t lead to pregnancy. This web site shouldn’t need to spell them out. Remember what you’ve learned about how to start babies, and then do whatever else comes to mind, except that. As long as all you’re after is a pleasant sensation, the sensation of starting a baby won’t  be any more pleasant than that. When the daily drama of being “in love” has settled down and you’re ready to be a married couple and start a family, that will be a bigger thrill, but in a different way. As long as you just want to have fun, you can have fun without letting an unwanted baby spoil the fun...or even letting ovarian cancer spoil the fun later.
        
Blossom Elfman is a living author, so The Girls of Huntington House is a Fair Trade Book. For those who don't know, what this web site means by "Fair Trade Books" is that authors still deserve payment when people buy books secondhand. When you send salolianigodagewi @ yahoo.com $5 per book + $5 per package for shipping, we send Elfman or a charity of her choice $1.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Link Log for May 28

Another short Link Log, due to limited online time...Gentle Readers, I'd like to thank youall for supporting these Link Logs. This has been a very discouraging day; even one hour of working on this Link Log is restoring the cheerful mood in which I woke up, before I had to leave home.

Today's Categories: Animals, Etiquette, Health News, Philosophy, Politics, Random & Senseless Kindness, Science, Writing.

Animals 

What happens to the antlers deer and elk shed? Here, thanks to Elizabeth Barrette, is a video for those who can watch it:

http://lucky-buck.com/tag/chewed-antler-sheds

Books 

Alexander McCall-Smith writes about Scotland, and is favorably reviewed by a fellow Scot:

https://wendywelchbigstonegap.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/the-monday-book-falls-on-a-wednesday-this-week/

https://wendywelchbigstonegap.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/tails-of-dogs-and-cats/

Etiquette 

No question: a contest for drawings of the Muslim prophet Muhammad is rude, tacky, and tasteless, because nobody knows what he looked like and people who honor his memory don't draw pictures of him. But is it like using an obnoxious word, or is it like drawing offensive cartoons of other people?

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/05/28/snap-out-of-it-cnn-host-likens-drawing-the-prophet-muhammad-to-saying-the-n-word/?

Health News 

No question here, either: The best cure for nail fungus is not to get it. Expose your feet to light and air at every opportunity. Wear shoes and socks only when necessary. Bathe often. And keep your toes from being crushed.

Lamisil works if you start early, use a lot of it, don't happen to get serious side effects, and keep your feet clean and dry and healthy for the rest of your life.

Manuka honey, ditto.

Soaking your feet in rubbing alcohol, ditto.

Personally, I've used Lamisil for immediate relief and alcohol for maintenance, and since I wear shoes only when necessary, this regimen has served me well. But wouldn't it be cool if there was a treatment that would get rid of nail fungus and allow you to go back to wearing shoes and socks all day, at least while you're outdoors, without having to repeat the treatment every night for as long as you have your feet?

http://scottadams-startupreview.tumblr.com/post/118799253065/fumigation-may-cure-toenail-fungus

Philosophy 

Does the sadistic motif in his Collected Poems keep you from enjoying Conrad Aiken? (Me, yes, it does.) Does his alcoholism affect your reading of Edgar Allan Poe? Does any aspect of his relationship with his deceased wife's unacknowledged sister affect your appreciation of Thomas Jefferson? How much do their politics affect your appreciation of Ezra Pound? What about Helen Keller? (Me, not so much.) Do you judge artists by their lives more than their work, or only by those aspects of their personal lives that are directly expressed in their public work? Weigh in on the discussion here:

http://personapaper.com/article/31836-the-manchester-armchair-philosophers-ask-what-is-the-relationship-between-art-and-ethics

Politics 

Contributions from both Patricia Evans and Karen Bracken are here:

http://connect.freedomworks.org/node/195382

Psychology 

A young veteran with post-traumatic stress issues is assigned to a counsellor who triggers his memories? They're trying to punish the veteran, the counsellor, or both? This sounds just plain mean.

https://reclaimourrepublic.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/student-vet-suspended-labeled-threat-after-requesting-non-muslim-counselor/

Random & Senseless Kindness 

Restaurant owner Eleni Fotidou wants to feed the hungry man rummaging in the garbage bin. And she said so in public. Does she know how many people in Virginia Beach are likely to run out of food in between paydays? For a start, count the number of sailors who have both dependent spouses and/or children, and drug or alcohol habits...quite a number there. What about the typical homeless? I don't know, but I'm told they have their share of those, due to the mild climate. So, maybe someone else is feeling charitable and wants to help Ms. Fotidou bear the burden she's just picked up?

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/05/27/restaurant-owner-saw-a-man-digging-through-the-trash-when-he-returned-a-note-was-waiting-for-him/?

Science 

Another experiment readers are encouraged to try at home. Don't ruin your point by exaggerating the results you get! "Cooking" by leaving food in a car in the sun is slow and unreliable, but it does work well enough convince people you know, in real life, not to leave children or pets in the car. (And, yes, breads will bake and meats will brown if they're wrapped in foil and left on the engine for a hundred miles or so. I wouldn't want to try cooking this way...no place to drain the grease...but your car's engine gets as hot as your grill.)

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/05/28/celebrity-chef-cooks-pizza-inside-parked-car-to-show-how-hot-it-can-get-but-some-viewers-arent-buying-it/?

Writing 

Online writers, check out this free publicity page:

http://marshasspot.blogspot.com/2015/05/im-in-writing-slump-i-admit-it.html

Latest on the Bubblews scam:

http://personapaper.com/article/31742-big-little-brother-is-watching-you

Morgan Griffith on Coal Energy

Part 3 of 3 from Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter:

"Annual Coal Conference

On Monday, May 18, I joined Congressman Roe and others at the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance's annual conference at which, among other things, the Obama Administration’s so-called "Clean Power Plan" was discussed.  Regular readers of this column are familiar with my strong opposition to this plan, as it threatens our Constitution, jobs, and affordable, reliable energy.

"When government picks winners and losers, everybody loses," Congressman Roe stated at the conference. "I’ve driven up through Eastern Kentucky (coalfields) and what they have created is a wasteland ... When you take the business of coal away, you take away the car dealership, the donations to the Little League, how you pay for your schools ... The young people leave and go somewhere else and never come back."

To reiterate my remarks at the conference, with the Administration’s proposed "Clean Power Plan" here in the United States, other parts of the world look very inviting for those seeking to build new facilities and create jobs.  Sadly, what we have at this Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a small group of ideologues who seemingly do not care about jobs, a reliable all-of-the-above energy portfolio, or the Constitution of the United States.  They are embedded in the EPA's bureaucracy, and they seem to hire those who agree with them.  Further, I would submit to you that they are working to do away with carbon-based fuels, which is not practical in a world economy.

Dominion Resources Public Policy Manager William Murray, who has served then-Governors Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA), said, "We cannot have an all-natural-gas future or an all-anything future.  We've got to have coal as the backbone of electric power generation."

I agree.

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."


[Editorial comment: In Virginia's Ninth District, Scott County made a successful transition to a post-coal economy long ago. Courage, lurkers in Lee and Wise County and elsewhere...it can be done, given time.]

Morgan Griffith on "21st Century Cures"

From Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter:

"Unanimous – 21st Century Cures Initiative

As you may recall, my colleagues and I on the Energy and Commerce Committee have been working for the last year on the bipartisan 21st Century Cures initiative.  Launched by Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), this effort is about saving more lives, keeping this country the leader in medical innovation, and accelerating the discovery, development, and delivery cycle of new cures and treatments for diseases.

Since the launch of this initiative in May of 2014, we have invited medical experts and patient advocates to share with us their perspective on how to best accelerate the pace of cures by participating in hearings in Washington or roundtable discussions throughout the nation.  I attended those hearings in Washington, and held a regional 21st Century Cures roundtable discussion in Blacksburg with Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) and a number of medical experts.

These efforts resulted in the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6), which passed the Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously in a vote of 51-0 on Thursday, May 21.  This package is an important step forward in terms of modernizing and personalizing health care, encouraging research and innovation, and streamlining the system, and a significant stride closer to new cures, treatments, and hope for patients."

Morgan Griffith Remembers John Wilkes

John Wilkes, as distinct from John Wilkes Booth...the way George Washington is distinct from George Washington Carver, or Martin Luther from Martin Luther King. U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith shares the story in this week's E-Newsletter:

"John Wilkes, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee

I noted with interest last week that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) took to the Senate floor to talk against the Patriot Act provisions that allow the National Security Agency (NSA) to gather data on all Americans.

As you know, I feel this is a violation of the United States Constitutional provisions against unlawful search.  I have spoken previously about that in this column, and referenced John Wilkes.

As you may recall, John Wilkes is a character from English history who thought George III was a bad King, and put it in writing.  The King did not appreciate that sentiment, and because Wilkes was writing anonymously, the King’s minions ordered a general search of East London.  The people found this revolting, and historians would later call the movement the "Wilkesite Rebellion." 

In his more than 10 hour discussion, Senator Paul also reminded people that it was in fact the Wilkesite Rebellion and his close contacts with the Sons of Liberty that ultimately led to the Founding Fathers recognizing in the Bill of Rights that law abiding citizens have the freedom of speech and freedom against "general warrant" searches.

Joining Senator Paul was Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), who also brought up John Wilkes.

Nearly 250 years later, I am glad the actions of one brave man standing up against tyranny are still echoing liberty in the halls of the United States Congress.
"

Robert Hurt's Memorial Day Message

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt, "Thanking Those Who Serve":

"As we observe Memorial Day, we remember with gratitude all of those brave men and women who have defended our great nation, and we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. To all of those who are and have been members of our armed forces – thank you for all that you do in the name of American liberty.
As Americans, we must continue to support our troops who bravely defend our interests both at home and abroad. We must always remember that it is because of their service and sacrifice that we live in the most free and prosperous nation on earth.
With this at the forefront of our minds, last week, the House of Representatives passed six bills to work towards ensuring our veterans receive the care they have earned. These bills include efforts to reduce veteran homelessness, encourage the creation of more job opportunities for veterans, and improve accountability of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees. We are taking significant legislative steps and conducting rigorous oversight to improve the care our veterans receive, but we cannot change the culture of the VA alone. The Administration must do more to meet the benchmarks set by Congress.
This week marks one year since General Eric Shinseki resigned as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. While his resignation seemed like the first step toward turning the VA around, the agency has not yet met the American people’s expectations for quality service for our veterans. Congress gave the Secretary of the VA greater authority to fire the employees responsible for the agency’s mismanagement, but in the past year, few VA employees have been fired. Congress authorized $16 billion in additional spending at the VA over three years to address backlogs, yet far too many veterans continue to face excessively long wait times to get appointments and receive care. And we recently learned that the VA may have illegally spent as much as $6 billion on improper acquisitions. It is clear that the culture of the VA remains one of bureaucracy and paper-pushing, not one of duty and service that our veterans deserve.
We in the House remain committed to holding the VA accountable and ensuring our veterans receive the level of care and service worthy of their tremendous sacrifice. We will continue to conduct oversight to push the VA to raise their standards and will pursue additional legislative reforms as needed. This week, I will be traveling Virginia’s Fifth District to meet with veterans from South Hill to Warrenton. I am looking forward to thanking these great Americans, and I hope to gain their insights into how Congress can best help those who stood ready to lay down their lives for our country.
I am honored to represent so many veterans and active duty soldiers in Virginia’s Fifth District. I recorded a video message to commemorate Memorial Day, which you can view on my website – hurt.house.gov. I join the people of the Fifth District in honoring those who have fallen and in offering our thanks to those service members who have served and continue to serve this great nation so that we may continue to preserve our American way of life for future generations.
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.


I attended the Virginia Council of Chapters Military Officers’ Association of America Luncheon, where I visited with Retired Air Force Officers Ed Fording of Keswick, John Swartzwelder of Charlottesville, and Bill Adams of Keswick (pictured left to right).
Sincerely,
Robert Hurt"

Pawpaw Blossom Image...Lost Forever?

On May 13, 2014, I published a photo of a pawpaw blossom on Bubblews. I took the picture with a camera phone. After e-mailing it to myself, I tidily deleted it from the phone. After uploading it from the e-mail file, I tidily deleted the e-mail file. My picture of the pawpaw blossom, beautifully backlighted, may have been destroyed forever when Bubblews' format changes destroyed it.

While reclaiming this post from Bubblews, I felt that it's only fair to show readers what the flowers of Asimina triloba look like. Here's a nice photo essay about the life cycle of the pawpaw tree, with the flowers brightly lighted so they appear almost rose-colored on this computer screen:

http://www.blossomnursery.com/pawpaw_pix.html

The image at Wikipedia (scroll down) is closer to what I see at this time of year in real life:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asimina_triloba

Here's the post reclaimed from Bubblews:

Possibly for the first time on the Internet, here's a rare photo of a pawpaw blossom. When the light's not shining through them they look drab and black. I happened to look up and see this one backlighted by a bright, sunny sky, so that the flower looked red. 

Pawpaw trees exist in a symbiotic relationship with Zebra Swallowtail butterflies. Both trees and butterflies can fairly be described as "strange" in North America, since each is the only representative of a tropical family that's found north of southern Florida. Pawpaw trees don't look much like any other North American trees, nor do Zebra Swallowtails resemble any other North American butterflies.

If all goes well, this flower will attract a butterfly (I saw one about 500 yards away on the same afternoon), be pollinated, and, by September or October, produce an edible fruit.

Here is a Zebra Swallowtail, photographed by Dancesincreek at Morguefile.com:


Book Review: God Is for Real Man

Title: God Is for Real Man
        
Author: Carl F. Burke
        
Date: 1966
        
Publisher: YMCA
        
ISBN: none, but click here to see it on Amazon
        
Length: 128 pages
        
Quote: “Feeling sorry only takes up time when you could be shining shoes to earn money to get the things you covet.”
        
Now forgotten, God Is for Real Man sold well in its day. My copy is a “Seventh Printing—April 1967”; The First Printing took place in February 1966. Carl Burke, a chaplain at the county jail who also taught children’s classes, got middle and junior high school students to translate Sunday School lessons into contemporary slang. At the time the results were undoubtedly hailed as meaningful and relevant, and probably creative.
        
Nothing dates faster than the latest fad; by now God Is for Real Man is a nostalgia trip for middle-aged people, some of whom may remember the Sunday School take-homes it inspired, years later, that encouraged us to study the weekly lesson with “Rap with us!” As late as 1977, like, these crazy Sunday School books were written in the slang of 1966, get it? (My parents always replied, “No, I/we do not ‘get it.’” My parents still tolerated and occasionally said “dig.”) Somebody out there figured that was the way we talked. It wasn’t. Slang changes from year to year and also from place to place, and there were times I didn’t even get the slang in which the lessons were written.
        
However: Sammy Davis said he loved this book.
        
Also: these kids were very much aware of men they called “queers,” and although for obvious reasons they’d been taught about these men primarily as dangers to avoid, there’s an authentic Christian touch in the paraphrase of the story about the selfrighteous type who thanked God that he was better than other people “like queers and” various others. 
        
If you’re looking for some short paraphrases of Bible stories and teachings into authentic 1960s slang, you’ll enjoy this book. And if you’ve bought into the media myth that the 1960s were a period when everybody was in college and concerned primarily with love (sleeping around), peace (avoiding military service), and joy (or at least marijuana),  read God Is for Real Man to find out how those who weren’t in college were thinking, talking, and living. 



Carl F. Burke is no longer living, so this is not a Fair Trade Book. It is, however, a pleasure to read and remind people of. To share the pleasure, send salolianigodagewi @ yahoo $5 per book + $5 per package for shipping. (Scroll down. You can fit a Fair Trade Book, probably more than one Fair Trade Books, into the package for the same $5.) 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Gift of Good Land

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where it appeared on February 19, 2014. Image credit: Pedrojperez at Morguefile.com.)



Today's why-I'm-here post is an old story; credit goes to Yohoonews for retelling a story on a similar theme, prompting me to share this one...

Once upon a time there was a farmer who wanted his children to have everything when they were little. As a result they grew up lazy and greedy, and soon wasted everything their parents had given them. Probably the children would never even have visited their loving parents, after they grew up and had homes of their own, if they hadn't believed that their father had a lot of money stashed away somewhere. (Well, maybe while their mother was alive, for the free baby-sitting...)

Anyway, the old farmer soon realized that his children were more interested in this money they believed he had than in his company. He didn't want to tell them that he had no money, for fear of being left alone in this world. When they asked where he'd hidden the money he just smiled. Finally, realizing that the only reason why they were all gathered around at one time was that he was about to die, he said, "Out in the field...somewhere out in the field..." and died.

So of course, instead of selling the land right away, all of those greedy young people came to the old farm every day and watched each other dig and cultivate the fields. Once the fields had been thoroughly worked over they realized they might as well plant something, so they did that. Although they were only part-time farmers, they worked diligently, and at the end of the year they had all gained some profit. 

Some say it took them five years, and some say ten years, to realize that there was no buried treasure anywhere on their parents' farm. By that time they had realized that, just like their parents, they weren't going to make great profits every year, but on the whole they were going to gain more than they lost as long as they rotated their crops each year and let each field rest for one year out of seven. They had also learned to appreciate each other's work better. They no longer wanted to sell the land, because it was fun working together.

Just in case anybody's forgotten, or more realistically in case any new readers discover Bubblews and me today...my purpose here is still to help a needy family stay on their own land, instead of having to become homeless welfare cases in the city:


Book Review: Going Rogue

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Going Rogue
        
Author: Sarah Palin

Author's social media sites: https://www.facebook.com/sarahpalin and https://twitter.com/sarahpalinusa

Author's TV web site: https://sarahpalinchannel.com/
        
Date: 2009
        
Publisher: Harper Collins
        
ISBN: 978-0-06-193989-1
        
Length: 403 pages of text
        
Illustrations: photo insert
        
Quote: “The way forward is to stand and fight.”
        
Fair disclosure: I’m not Sarah Palin’s greatest fan. So a friend gave me a copy of her first book, hoping that reading Going Rogue would convert me. It didn’t; my reservations about Palin were based on her stated environmental policy of trying to extend the Waste Age rather than move beyond it, and neither her position nor mine has changed.
        
I found her likable enough before reading her book; that’s not changed either. Nearly all politicians are likable. That is how they become politicians. Whether they’re trustworthy or not is a different story, and it’s worth noting that, even if what she could be trusted to do was oppose you on every single issue you can think of, the opposition never claimed that Palin wasn’t trustworthy. 
        
Going Rogue did however, clarify some things about which the mass media reports I’d heard had been confusing—e.g., was Sarah Palin ever a single mother? She says no. Did she ever contemplate becoming a single mother via divorce? She replies with a wisecrack: “Have [the propagators of that rumor] ever seen Todd?” If this kind of thing interests you, and if you didn’t watch the Palins’ at-home reality TV show, you needed to read Going Rogue.
        
If you watched the mainstream media, you may not even remember where Palin stood on the issues, because the mainstream media preferred a sort of strategic cutesipation, rarely discussing her political record and nattering on about her hair. Of course, among women who still think political “sisterhood” ought to have meant something, that could almost have been Palin’s own strategy. Attention all pundits: for some women voters, including this one, ignoring a woman’s accomplishments and blathering about her looks gives her the precise equivalent of a Race Card to play. If you insist on trivializing and cutesipating women, it may still be possible for the women to strike out, but you can’t win. Anyway, Going Rogue contains Palin’s summary of her political accomplishments and goals. If you wondered whether she was seriously basing a campaign on having once won a beauty pageant, you needed to read Going Rogue.
        
And if you wondered what kind of mother could inflict a nationwide political campaign on young children, you definitely need to read Going Rogue, in which Palin explains how much less stressful campaigning on the state level used to be.
        
She also explains exactly who came up with some of the cheapest shots taken at her during the campaign, the “Sarah-cuda” and “pit bull with lipstick” sort of thing. She did. She either learned from, or learned from the same source, as W “Who Says Men Can’t Be Blonds?” Bush.
        
She handed her political opponents both the worst points, the primary-school-level verbal attacks, and the best points, her environmental record and the vulnerable ages of the children, to use against her. It’s not her fault if the Democrats couldn’t muster the scientific expertise to challenge Palin on environmental policy. I feel, emotionally, that beating her in a fair debate ought to be doable, and ought to have been done, but the Democrats missed their chance. Considering how many Democrats are media celebrities, and how the party so notoriously spends money, all one can say is: shame on the Democrats for not even trying to fight Palin clean.
        
Going Rogue is, however, a post-campaign story, and in the end the plot turns out to be “Why I didn’t work with the party by which I had been nominated.” It seems clear that Palin would not have liked being Vice-President in any case. Perhaps we’d be a better country if we were likely to elect her President, but I think the final effect of Going Rogue is to present Palin as a state-level politician.



Is anybody out there still waiting to read Going Rogue? Doubtful. And in between the writing and the publication of this review, I've sold the copy I physically owned--but it was snapped up fast, so let's go ahead and post this review in case anybody else wants to support this site by buying another copy. All books sold online through this web site will be mold-free (unlike the books local lurkers and book review supporters faithfully bought in that moldy warehouse where I used to sell them) and will have been shipped by the U.S. Postal Service, so they cost a bit more than books physically sold in my home town: generally $5 per book + $5 per package for shipping (yes, that's the price for Going Rogue). Out of this, if we're able to verify that the author is still living, we send $1 to the author or a charity of his or her choice. To clarify: if you buy two copies of Going Rogue, or one copy of Going Rogue and one copy of America by Heart, you send salolianigodagewi @ yahoo $15, we send Palin or her charity $2. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Flowers Are Singing

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where this was posted on August 21, 2013. Bubblews destroyed the photo I'd used to illustrate this story...at least Tony7 at Morguefile.com offers a clear, close-up image of the same plant.)



Well, the digital camera works, but it's a cheap little thing. (What did I expect for $20?) I tried to get a photo of a massive, gorgeous sage bush on the road to the Cat Sanctuary. It's a cloudy day, and all I could see on the camera's tiny screen was a dark gray blur. The "thumbnail size" images on the screen usually look more lifelike on a real computer screen. I couldn't convince myself that this grayed-out blur would show up as a big green bush covered with purple flowers and black and yellow butterflies, though.

Every time I've passed that bush, all summer long, I've thought of an odd choice of words in one of Kaffe Fassett's knitting books. Knitters will know the kind of picture I'm talking about...attractive young people in one-of-a-kind sweaters made from fifty different kinds of yarn, posed in a garden of luxurious flowers...and the caption described them as "singing." 

Singing? Not when they were photographed, surely? Their mouths aren't open?

Then I remember how, in one of Euell Gibbons' wild plant books, he described "hearing a basswood tree" in bloom. The tree attracted so many bees that before he and his hiking buddies actually saw the tree, they could hear the bees humming.

The flowering sage bush was humming. Almost every flower had a bee or butterfly buzzing around it. This is real sage, Salvia, the herb genus from which the kitchen spice is made; the flowers smell sweeter, fresher, more subtle than a spice jar.

Book Review: Profiles in Faith

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Profiles in Faith
        
Author: Harold Sala

Author's web site (bilingue! ingles-espanol!): https://www.guidelines.org/commentary/preacher/dr-harold-j-sala/
        
Date: 2003
        
Publisher: Barbour
        
ISBN: 1-58660-733-6...not apparently available on Amazon. Click here to see the 416-page version.
        
Length: 95 pages
        
Quote: “This book contains brief profiles of fifty of my heroes.”
        
Although the short paperback version describes itself as an abridgment of the version of Profiles in Faith available from Promise Press, the short book appeared on the market first. It’s a quick read; each mini-biography takes up only one or two pages.
        
Sala’s selection of Christian “heroes” is odd partly because it skips through history. We meet, in order: David Livingstone, St. Peter, Lilian Trasher, Doug Nichols, “Mrs. Noah,” Mother Teresa, Byrd Brunemeier, Lim Cheong, St. Augustine, St. Paul, Martin Luther, St. Athanasius, an obscure twentieth-century believer called Pongo, William Carey, Peter ten Boom (Corrie’s nephew), Wang Ming Dao, Ray Buker, Brother Lawrence, Page Pitt, Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, King David of Israel, Chang Shen, Abraham, J. Hudson Taylor, Jeremiah, St. Paul, Joseph (the son of Jacob in the Old Testament), “Auntie” Wang (Mrs. Wang Ming Dao), Amy Carmichael, Bill Eaton, Nehemiah, Fred Whiteman, St. Mark, D.L. Moody, Anacleto Lacanilao, St. Thomas, George Muller, Chris Milbrath, Peter Cao, Mother Mary, Paul Kauffman, Ernest Shackleton, Mary Slessor, Go Puan Seng, J.C. Penney, Hezekiah, John the Baptist, A.W. Tozer, and Matthew Maury.
        
A few of these people are still living, and are probably embarrassed to find their names on this list. Some are apparently people Sala knows personally. There’s a conscious effort to mix famous and unknown names. Sala’s description of “Mrs. Noah,” a real profile in obscurity about whom absolutely nothing is recorded, probably wasn’t intended to be funny. It is funny—especially if you remember the medieval dramatizations where she was characterized as a doubter, often a loud rude drunk, who had to be dragged or shoved into the Ark. Sala defends the inclusion of this Bible character because she was willing “to live with a man who was the mockery of his day,” “did a good job with her boys” (what about Ham?), and, if she lived to be a grandmother, which is not known, would have been able to tell the most “vivid eyewitness” stories in history.
        
If you’re looking for short, fresh inspirational stories, this book is for you. It will slip easily into almost any adult’s pocket and is therefore ideal for reading on a plane or in the hospital. If you’re familiar with the biographies of some of these people, you may find it a good writing exercise to condense better biographies into the same amount of space, or compare these abridgments with the full-length biographies in the Promise Press version.



What I had when I wrote this review, and have since sold, was the short version of Profiles in Faith. That one was a bit of a teaser and seems to have disappeared from the market by now. This places me in an unusual predicament...like most of the book reviews that have appeared on this web site, this review was written in support of a book sale that ended a few years ago, and in this case, now that the review is available online, the book I actually reviewed may not be. No worries, though. The full-length version has been out for a while, is widely available secondhand, and can be offered as a Fair Trade Book. I can't tell you exactly how much more informative that book will be. It'll be more informative, of course, and in better condition than the book I reviewed here.

For those who don't know, the Fair Trade Books system is this web site's demonstration of support for the rights of living authors. When we sell secondhand books online, the bottom price is $5 per book + $5 per package for shipping. The author, if still living, or a charity of his or her choice then receives $1. (Yes, if we can find twelve clean secondhand copies of the short version of Profiles in Faith, that would mean that you'd pay $65 and Sala or his charity would get $12. I don't think more than four copies of the full-length version would fit into one package...that's determined by the U.S. Postal Service and is subject to change.) Contact salolianigodagewi @ yahoo.com, the published address for this web site, to order anything shown here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Banana Pudding

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where it appeared on February 24, 2014. Photo credit: Zaccrain at Morguefile.com...if you go to Morguefile and type "banana" into the search bar, you'll see about a dozen more ideas for ways to use up ripe bananas.)



When life hands us overripe bananas, we can make banana bread. A friend's fruit-eating offspring came home for a weekend and left her and her husband with far too much fruit, so she brought me some of the surplus...including five very ripe bananas.

I thought about making two batches of banana bread. I thought about a recipe I'd read in some magazine for frying bananas in butter and brown sugar. I did not want to add butter to bananas, which are fattening enough the way they are. I thought about a compromise between these two ideas...baked not fried...definitely not the classic Southern Banana Pudding, which is in the trifle family with layers of bananas, cookies, custard and sometimes other things, but more like an English Pudding, with a firm crust that holds its shape, yet still squidgy in the middle. So Grandma Bonnie Peters bought the gluten-free flour, and I bought the chocolate toffee bits, and we proceeded to experiment. And found the experiment good.

INGREDIENTS FOR GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE BANANA PUDDING

Baking spray

5 very ripe bananas 

2 tablespoons brown date sugar (for flavor, but if you don't like things too sweet you could use less sugar or none)

1-1/2 cups King Arthur Mill gluten-free flour (or similar rice/potato flour)

1-1/2 teaspoons Rumford's baking powder (or other baking powder)

Pinch of salt

Splash of water

1 bag Heath Chocolate Toffee Crunch Bits

METHOD FOR GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE BANANA PUDDING

1. Spray 9x9" square nonstick metal pan. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (medium, moderate).

2. Peel and string the bananas, remove any very brown spots, and cream the pulp. There will be 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups of banana pulp. Small lumps of banana are acceptable. Stir in the sugar. Break up any visible lumps of sugar.

3. Add 3/4 to 1 cup of flour with the baking powder and salt. (Sift them if yours are lumpy). Stir to form a stiff batter. Splash in the water. Add the rest of the flour. It should feel like a fairly firm cake batter, stiff enough to need to be coaxed into the pan with the spoon but liquid enough to spread itself over the pan.

4. Pour or sprinkle toffee bits over the top...use half the bag, the whole bag, or anything in between; leave about a half-inch margin.

5. Bake 25 minutes or until it leaves just a few moist crumbs on a butter knife. Turn off the heat and let it dry out in the closed oven while the oven cools, or while you eat a reasonable amount of vegetables.

6. Cut bars and eat warm. This recipe is likely to attract neighbor children if no children are in the house, but if there are any leftovers it will keep in the refrigerator or even freeze well.

I have not personally tested any variations, or even other brands of gluten-free flour. But the next time a local lurker offers me five or six ripe bananas all at once, I will.

Book Review: Mad Mary

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Mad Mary
        
Author: Liz Curtis Higgs

Author's web site: http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/blog/
        
Date: 2001
        
Publisher: Water Brook Press
        
ISBN: 978-1578564477
        
Length: 304 pages
        
Quote: "Mary Magdalene has been knocking at the door of my heart for three years. She got squeezed out of Bad Girls of the Bible when I realized I needed more time to research her complex story. Then she was dropped from the roster for Really Bad Girls of the Bible because Tamar and Bathsheba took up more than their allotted pages. (Pushy, huh?) Now I know the real reason why Mary M waited so patiently in the wings: She deserves a book all her own!"
        
Liz Curtis Higgs achieved bestseller status with a series of Bible character studies that begin with a retelling of the story in the form of a contemporary novel or short story, then study the Bible texts and invite readers to apply them to their lives. Mad Mary is her take on Mary Magdalene.
        
The thing about the New Testament stories is that they were written at a time when it was prudent to blur the identities of people. Various customs made this easy to do. Lots of people had the same name. To help friends tell them apart, they might be called by some unofficial nickname instead. When people were telling stories, it was polite not to use the names of people present but say, “A certain man came in...” or, “A woman said...” It was polite to ignore the opposite sex as completely as possible; if a man needed to mention a group of women he could of course refer to the group, but if he needed to mention meeting his friends, a married couple, he would politely mention only the husband.
        
So, although there’s a long tradition of identifying at least four stories that don’t specifically mention Mary Magdalene as possible parts of her story, there’s no biblical basis for it. What we know for sure about Mary Magdalene is that she was delivered from “seven devils,” which was probably a figure of speech referring to a specific pattern of mental illness; she travelled around with a group of female disciples of Jesus, and she was the first to proclaim the Resurrection.
        
Liz Curtis Higgs spends some time debunking the vulgar image of Mary Magdalene as, shall we say, a vulgar young woman. She argues that (1) Jesus was not a philanderer; (2) the symptoms attributed to “devils” were violent, frightening, often associated with physical illness, but not sexy; and (3) Mary Magdalene’s being mentioned at the head of the list of the women disciples suggests that she may have been the oldest of the group of women. Young women weren’t expected or allowed to do much, in this historical period, except marry as early as age thirteen, have as many babies as possible, and more often than not die before age thirty. Women who achieved middle age had much more freedom and respect than younger women had. And if Mary Magdalene was older than Mother Mary, she must have been at least fifty.
        
She briefly discusses the other stories about female followers of Jesus who could just conceivably have been Mary Magdalene, but probably weren’t; if the Gospel writers were free to mention Mary Magdalene’s name because she’d already died old, which is likely, they would have had no reason to omit her name from the discussion of women who were sinners or adulterers or even physically disabled. Some scholars think the same woman was known to the same people as Mary Magdalene (Mary from Magdala, or Mary the Tower) and Mary of Bethany; Mad Mary dismisses that theory.
        
What we know about Mary Magdalene is that, although her “devils” could have been more tolerable things like epilepsy or delirium tremens, she may have been insane. Whatever her past had been, it wasn’t pretty. But she had been healed and forgiven, despite her fellow disciples’ lapse of faith when she reported an impossible bit of Good News. Can’t you just hear their thoughts? “Jesus is gone, and now poor old Mary’s going...” Jesus had a sense of humor; we’re never told that He smiled, but we’re shown that He cracked jokes. (Read His speeches, outside of church, in a modern translation that strips them of that "churchy" feeling, and people will laugh.) He probably thought letting Mary Magdalene carry the Good News was a hoot. And enlightening, especially for pushy Peter.
        
Higgs’ presentation of a contemporary story she finds similar to Mary Magdalene’s is more dubious, although it's praiseworthy as a challenge to Christians to overcome our fear of psychotic patients. Higgs doesn’t try to show us a modern character with the symptoms of first-century “devils.” Few of us have seen a person with that kind of condition, although they still exist; they’re seldom let out of the institutions. Instead, Higgs presents a fictional “Mary Margaret Delaney” with a combination of more familiar conditions: depression, guilt, obsessive-compulsive disorder, multiple personality disorder, memory loss, kleptomania, religious mania...all of which are cured overnight by one prescription! And then she becomes a normal, if unconvincingly docile, old Catholic who only needs to become a Baptist and everything is rosy.
        
That’s what the Lilly Pharmaceutical Company would like us to  believe can be expected from Prozac or the related formulas that do, in fact, give most users a mild but reliable “high.” In real life it’s not so easy. The side effects of feel-good pills include pain, physical disability, and violent insanity. Not, in any way, to be compared with the miraculous healings that attracted attention to Jesus.
        
What would have an effect like the effect Higgs gives to her character Delaney? The placebo effect would. If Mary Delaney had never had a true psychotic condition, but had merely been a person who enjoyed emotional melodrama, then she would have bounced back from a depressive mood with a chirpy, perky mood.
        
If she’d been psychotic, medical treatment would have worked differently. As Peter Breggin put it in Toxic Psychiatry, there is no real cure for schizophrenia. The antipsychotic drugs damage the brain, in unpredictable ways, and sometimes happen to knock out the neurons that are producing psychotic symptoms. Mary Delaney might or might not have seemed more lucid on medication. She might have been equally confused, or more confused, but had less energy. She might have developed painful physical symptoms. She might have become more cheerful; she might have become bland; she might have become murderous or suicidal.
        
When a patient attempts suicide, is hospitalized and medicated, and seems lucid and cheerful three days later, one of two things has happened. Either the patient is simply having an emotional reaction (which may not be part of a bipolar cycle, but is characterized by intense despondency followed by near-manic levels of relief), or a miracle has occurred. The Bible story of Mary Magdalene is about a miracle. The fictional story of Mary Delaney, however, can't rely on a fictional miracle, since fiction writers can’t claim to understand why a miracle occurred when, in fact, none did.
        
So, as often in this writer’s "Bad Girls" series, I like Higgs’ historical and religious insights into a Bible character better than her fictional parallel story. Whatever the real Mary Magdalene had lived through, her historical function was to call attention to the life and teachings of Jesus. In between chapters of psychodrama, Mad Mary is true to the life of its historical subject. Higgs doesn’t shy away from the blunt, sarcastic, shocking, subversive, and radical qualities of Jesus’ teaching. 
        
What she does with the Gospel story of Jesus is particularly interesting. In order to “translate” the story into a realistic contemporary novel, Higgs re-visualizes an ordinary Christian in the place of Jesus; the preacher who rescues Mary Delaney is mortal and, when he dies, will stay dead. And if you think that’s impious, think about some of the outrageous things the Bible writers had to say to ordinary Christians about praying in our Savior’s Name, and being collectively His living Body, and killing our carnal nature so that His Life can live on in us. We are not likely to confuse ourselves with Jesus but we may find ourselves acting His part in life. In her nonfiction discussion of the Gospels, Higgs accepts the most literal, fundamentalist version of the Resurrection story, with no attempts to look for more mundane (or heretical) interpretations of a cosmic mystery. Readers are brought to confront the mystery of Jesus being at the same time fully divine and fully human. The high point of the historical Mary Magdalene’s story is, after all, that she was the first to testify to His supernatural existence. Higgs won’t let non-Christian readers who picked up the book for the story put it down without reading Mary Magdalene’s testimony.
        
Mad Mary is recommended to just about any reader, but especially to women who are interested in understanding what the Bible actually tells us about women in the early church. A great deal of theologically and historically dubious literature has been written about Mary Magdalene; Higgs tries to strip away the Pagan influences, “goddess cult” incursions, and erotic fantasies, and present what can reasonably be understood from the Bible’s record of the first Christian evangelist. For Christian readers this book will be interesting, and likely to inspire further study and discussion.
        
For non-Christians...I can’t say how it’s likely to affect any given individual, but if you’re ready to try to understand what Christians teach about Christ, Mad Mary could potentially be the book that enlightens you. Phobics beware! This book just might make a few of you into Christians.



For those who don't already know: The Fair Trade Books system is this web site's way of supporting the rights of living authors. When (if) we sell books online, for a minimum cost of $5 per book + $5 per package for shipping, if we're able to find the author still living we send the author or a charity of his or her choice 10% of this total cost, or $1. (Yes, if you buy four copies of Mad Mary, that means you send us $25 and Higgs or her charity gets $4.) The official, published e-mail address for this web site is salolianigodagewi @ yahoo.com; this refers to our virtual Message Squirrel, who reroutes e-mail to our unpublished private e-mail addresses as appropriate. And, yes, it's possible to purchase books that haven't yet been reviewed here as Fair Trade Books if they've been out for a while and are more likely to be available secondhand than new; instead of buying four copies of Mad Mary you might want to buy one copy each of Bad Girls of the Bible, Really Bad Girls of the Bible, and Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible, and we can do that too.