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Friday, July 1, 2016

Book Review: Karen's Sleigh Ride

A Fair Trade Book


Title: Karen’s Sleigh Ride (Baby-Sitters’ Little Sister #92)

Author: Ann M. Martin


Date: 1997

Publisher: Apple / Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-06590-4

Length: 108 pages

Illustrations: black and white drawings by Susan Tang

Quote: “My idea is that we have a wintery sort of Christmas party, for the Stones, to raise money…we could have sleigh rides—in a one-horse open sleigh!”

The Stones’ barn has burned down, and Karen, the seven-year-old stepsister of Baby-Sitters Club President Kristy Thomas, has not yet learned how to write contraction words but has thought of the coolest idea to raise money to restore the barn. Karen’s father happens to be a millionnaire. It wouldn’t be appropriate for him to hand his neighbor money. Letting the kids throw a party to raise the money is apparently considered better etiquette in Stoneybrook, Connecticut.

Why does Karen have this brainstorm before Kristy does? Oh well, maybe Karen cares more… What about the Stones themselves? What about Karen’s various parents and step-parents? Regular readers know how I feel about children’s stories where it somehow seems to take a child to think of something that would, in real life, be stunningly obvious to the adults. Ann Martin didn’t do this in the Baby-Sitters Club series, but here she is doing it to younger readers. Tsk. 

I’ll let it go, however, because Karen is not an especially bright little child-of-divorce and it’s just possible that all those older people would have carefully backed away from claiming what started out as the Stones’ idea, dropping a trail of hints just so poor little Karen can have the experience of thinking of a good idea before Kristy does, because BSC readers already know that Kristy has all the brains and looks in that family. The way Karen tells the story, it sounds as if nobody else thought of the idea first, but regular readers already know that Karen is just a tiny bit insecure and inclined to tell stories in ways that enhance her fragile self-esteem…


Anyway, here, dumbed down to a reading level at which children presumably know about possessive forms but not about contractions, is a very nice story about some very nice kids who throw a very nice fundraising party. It contains helpful hints for primary school children who would like to throw fundraising parties themselves. (Parents, beware.) It’s a short but cheerful read.

I dressed a doll to match Karen's outfit on the cover of this book, put it on display, and wrote this review, but was not able to post it, on June 16. The original doll-and-book package was sold on June 20. To commission a different doll outfit inspired by the cover of this book, send $20. 

To buy just the book, as an ordinary Fair Trade Book, send $5 per copy + $5 per package to either address at the very bottom of the screen, and we'll send $1 per copy to Ann Martin or a charity of her choice. Ten or twelve Baby-Sitter's Little Sister books would fit into a package, for a total of $55 or $65, from which we'd send $10 or $12 to Martin or her charity.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

January 30 Link Log

Well, it looks as if I've not been hired to write "more polarizing" Republican articles. If it wasn't meant to be, it wasn't. I could've used the money, but writing as my bipartisan self is undeniably more fun. "The Green Rant" was long enough, today, to be a separate post; scroll down for an annoying Green link. Categories: Amazon, Animals, Constitutional Rights, Gardening, Gloating, Holiday, Politics, Turkey Update, Zazzle.

Amazon 

This web site is getting traffic from...this site? Huzza! (Their "top story" is about how to incorporate Amazon links into blog posts. As noted here, Amazon offers "newer" ways to do this if you're in a place where it's possible to get anything inside an "i-frame" to work. I don't; when it's possible to get a privately owned computer to display an "i-frame," which in my part of the world is seldom, the computer immediately begins screaming and quivering with security warnings so that you can't do anything else until you've dismantled that horrible "i-frame," so if you use the "i-frame" method to add your links, and I read your blog, your Amazon links may not even show on my screen.)

http://topstories.mobi/

Animals 

The original Smokey the Bear (who wore trousers, and a hat, when he posed upright for his fans) is long gone, but a living bear is walking like a man in New Jersey today. If this really is my last Washington Post article for the month of June, at least it's cute and interesting enough...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2016/06/30/pedals-a-bear-that-walks-upright-is-back-should-people-help-him/?tid=sm_tw

Constitutional Rights 

It's the indisputable truth contained within overtly hostile and offensive articles, like this one, that make every effort to reopen the gun control debate such a bonanza for gun dealers. Well, personally I don't mind a bonanza for our local Gun & Pawn stores, so...Fair disclosure: the Clintons were not actually videotaped dancing on Justice Scalia's grave, entertaining though that spectacle would have been. Just another metaphor.

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/05/chelsea_and_hillary_dance_on_scalias_grave.html?

What about that unenumerated right to privacy? Who gave Google the right to map every 9x9' square of land on Earth? This isn't cool, actually; it's evil. Thanks to the Post for...warning people. (Below the explanation of the warning, there are more of the best puns in Washington. Scroll down for comic relief.)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/style-invitational-where-in-the-world-explore-what3words/2016/06/30/11a415ac-3cd7-11e6-a66f-aa6c1883b6b1_story.html

However, it didn't take much clicking around the West End of Gate City to find an intriguingly apropos three-word tag. The Pentecostal Powerhouse Church is one of a group of local churches that used to have a strict dress code, so it seems appropriate that members are now relaxing the dress code, slightly, on a strictly individual basis--you can still spot older members just by their clothes, but younger ones, not so much...and the church's three-word tag, or one of them, is "invite.outfits.broadened".

If you want to play with this, this web site recommends using business addresses only. This web site also recommends a federal law mandating that the whole idea of mapping private property, by any kind of code whatsoever, using any computer that can be interfaced with the public Internet, should be made a felony. I'm pleased to report that at least the maps of private roads and homes in my neighborhood look pretty thoroughly confused...which is as they should be. If you don't know who lives in which house, you should not be able to see an image of my neighborhood, and if you do see one, by all means it should show the "addresses" Google has assigned to actual houses in places where no house has ever stood, and the names of roads on completely different roads...and more than that. (Basically, if Google's image of the public and private roads in my neighborhood were identified with a lot of penguin paths in Antarctica, that would be fine by me.)

Gardening 

I hesitate to recommend this one because the "slideshow" format is sooo clunky...but here's a quick Top Ten List of garden pests and True Green ways to control them.

http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/top-ten-garden-insect-pests

Gloating 

Michaels craft store, here we come! I just "earned" $25 worth of free luxury yarn by taking surveys, the last one about new movies, which I'm sure all of you young people would know more about than I do. Would you like to earn free stuff too? You don't have to buy craft supplies at Michaels; it could be Amazon or CVS, or even a donation to UNICEF if you want to make one. Young people who are still shopping around for everything earn free stuff faster than those of us who already have most of the things we plan to buy in this lifetime. You can search for Yougov and join it all by yourself, but both you and I will get more free stuff sooner if you click on this link to join Yougov. This is a legitimate survey site that will not clog your e-mailbox with spam.

https://today.yougov.com/refer/brglBv6yISldXGeAQbYXBg/

Lily Sugar'n Cream Yarn, White 14 oz Cone

In July, I always knit with cotton yarn. For a relatively cheap brand often recommended for dishcloth making, Sugar'n'Cream has proved to be a soft, wearable, durable yarn for blankets or sweaters too. It comes in lots of colors, including mad mixes of purple, chartreuse, aqua and hot pink, or that lovely laid-back pale beige with subtle reddish and bluish flecks that I've been knitting with during the past year. White was what showed up most true to life on the screen. Black is what I'll probably get with my Yougov card, because many other knitters avoid knitting black sweaters, and lots of people want to wear them.

Holiday 

I don't know whether I'll be online during the holiday week or weekend, so let me post this now. No sparklers over heads...no firecrackers outside homes of hypertensive seniors with PTSD...and if you cruise past my house on noisy nuisance vehicles, plan to buy several new tires, because the animals may be gentle but the road is vicious.

http://www.timesnews.net/frontpage/2016/06/30/CHPD-chief-urges-residents-to-be-safe-and-obey-law-when-shooting-fireworks.html?ci=content&lp=1&p=1

Politics 

Larry Elder nominates Vin Scully for president. Meh...better'n Bernie.

http://www.elderstatement.com/2016/06/the-embrace-of-socialism-despite-its.html

Dave Brat just signed a pledge that...I'd like to like better than I do. The problem part is the part about the market-driven energy. The idea of market-driven energy is good, but it's going to take a lot of discipline and effort to keep greedheads from driving the energy market in the right direction.

I mean: yes, I've met coal miners, both former and active, and shaken their hands, in public places. Not only do they go to college, these days; they go to a college of which I'm a "graduate" with library privileges. No, I don't want them to become unemployment statistics. I'll claim them as soul brothers because they would literally rather die than welfare-cheat, and I respect that. But why should they have to die, and why should our land have to die? Why can't they just move right into the business of energy independence by outfitting Southwest Virginia homes with solar panels? I want a coal miner to install a row of those lovely things in my orchard, right over the roots of the deceased peach trees, where they won't do the apples or blueberries a bit of harm and they'll do me some actual good. (I've Twitted Terry Kilgore about this because I know he cares about the coal miners too.)

http://www.freedomworks.org/content/rep-dave-brat-signs-freedomworks%E2%80%99-pro-growth-pledge

I'm leery of this map, because by definition illegal immigration relies on inaccurate documents, so how can you really tell? Nevertheless...there's another organization called F.A.I.R. that may want to check these reported facts. When both F.A.I.R.s have hashed'em out, and explained their methods for collecting and verifying data, this set of facts will interest me.

http://www.glennbeck.com/publish/uploads/2016/06/immigration-map.jpg

Turkey Update 

Individual ISIS goons traced to countries...bah. From any part of the Earth ISIS scrapes the scum.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/turkish-police-detain-13-people-over-istanbul-airport-attack_us_5774f8eae4b042fba1cf2e24?

Zazzle 

What popped up on the link that came in the e-mail is just too pretty not to share.




Btw, when I've not been online, in June, I've been writing book and product reviews from inside the future home of the Internet Portal; there are some cute serving trays there, too, and one day you may even see them here. Meanwhile...Gena Greene, where are you? Artists and photographers can upload unique designs for serving trays onto Zazzle. Theoretically the person who shares a link to a Zazzle product earns a higher commission than the designer, which isn't exactly fair but is meant to encourage Zazzlers to help one another.

Here's a smaller, admittedly less pretty, also cheaper tray. Next week I intend to post something about how important this slogan can be for Christians...




...A poor design but mine own.

Why Three-Part Messages Fail

This web site frequently refers readers to the work of a writer known as Suzette Haden Elgin (in book publishing) or Ozarque (in cyberspace), almost with reverence, as if her writing were inspired Scripture. Well, yes, actually I do believe Ozarque was mortal and fallible.


Possibly the biggest error in what she had to say to readers my age, and younger, is something that was apparently true—at one time—for her own generation.

When I first heard about “three-part messages,” or “three-part ‘I’ statements,” even as a teenager, I knew I was hearing something profoundly wrong. I asked many older people how it was possible for anyone to imagine that, in any situation that might be described as “confrontation,” words like “I feel angry” would not instantly provoke an argument, and usually an ugly argument at that. Didn’t everyone know that if you say to a child something like “When you fail to water the tomato plants, I feel sad, because the tomatoes can’t grow without water” (even assuming a climate where that makes sense), any child over about age three is going to say, either to you or as soon as you turn your back, “Well, you’re mad and I’m glad!” Didn’t everyone know that if you say to an adult something like “When you throw your trash in my back yard, I feel angry, because my back yard is not the city dump,” any self-respecting baby-boomer is going to say something like, “Oh yes, I can see that you do feel angry, but I don’t really think it has anything to do with anything like trash in your back yard. I think you really need to take this up with a doctor…”

Yet a large and vocal minority of mostly upper-middle-class members of the Greatest Generation affirm that saying things like “When your car ran over my dog, I felt sad, because it injured the dog so badly,” has enabled them to get their messages across “without argument.”

I confess, friends, I am puzzled. When someone says something like “When you step on my toe, I feel hurt, because you weigh at least 100 pounds and that’s a lot of weight on my toe,” I feel bewildered that they feel the need to go to such elaborate and unnatural lengths. If I did in fact step on your toe, under normal conditions all you’d need to say would be “Ow.” That primal sound, alone, would convince me that what I’d stepped on was your toe, which I’d step off if possible, saying “Sorry.” In any alternative situations that come to mind I’m sure that any alternative words I might think of, like “Sorry I can’t move now, because in addition to my 100-plus pounds you’re also feeling about twenty cubic feet of rubble weighing down on our feet,” would also seem unnecessary. Silly, even.

Then there’s a category of “three-part messages” that might be represented by “When you screamed out loud, ‘What’s your daughter doing these days?’ so that people all over the mall turned to look at us, and you continued to shout so that people all over the mall could hear you, ‘Well my daughter just made Phi Beta Kappa at M.I.T.!!!’, I felt sad, because I had already told you my daughter is dead.” Here we can give the person the benefit of the doubt and imagine that s/he really wanted, primarily, to be overheard bragging about her/his brilliant offspring, even if s/he had to hurt someone’s feelings to do that. 

Actually, in many cases people who say things like this are more like the “sadistic trolls” of cyberspace. They may know you personally, resent you, and want to bring unpleasant memories to the surface of your mind; although it may be against some people’s religion to admit it, people like that do exist. Or they may not know you well—they may not remember that your daughter is dead, even if they’ve been told that six times, because some of these people really do not care about anyone but themselves enough to pay attention or remember other people’s “news” items. They may just want everybody all over the mall to turn and look at them as they screech about their daughter, but, deep down, there probably is a reason why they singled out an acquaintance who has a daughter who is dead, rather than, say, waiting for an attractive member of the opposite sex to walk past, alone, and then screeching, “Let me buy you a drink, or even a pizza,’cos I’m so happy I feel like treating total strangers today, because my daughter just made Phi Beta Kappa at M.I.T.” 

It’s called one-upmanship. Their joy is complete only when they take some of the joy away from someone else. That’s the game they play; that’s what many of them understand social life and conversation to be—one big game with the objective of scoring off other people. And if you tell someone like this that s/he made you feel sad, you are encouraging him or her.


Actually, this category encompasses the people to whom we might want to say things like “When you said ‘Nobody would ever vote for a **** Jew like Joe Lieberman,’ I felt angry, because I…” (choose as many as apply) “intend to vote for a competent moderate politician like Joe Lieberman,” “voted for Lieberman, repeatedly, when I lived in his State,” “am Jewish myself,” “am a whole-Bible Christian, and my Bible tells me not to oppress anybody,” “had a grandfather who died fighting against that kind of hate,” “don’t see how a Jewish President could be worse than the Muslim or half-Muslim President we’ve had for eight years, and/or the Christian/s we had before him,” “don’t agree with Lieberman’s politics, but his religion has nothing to do with it,” “think Lieberman is far too moderate, myself, but we’ve had a lot of good lefties who were Jewish,” etc. etc. etc. (What about "am picking on Lieberman because I've not said anything good about a Democrat presidential candidate in this election"?)

Some people still hold various quaint old prejudices, but these days those are not the people who engage in public “baiting” of ethnic groups. Real bigots have already noticed that overt displays of bigotry tend to make an enormous range of people angry, for an enormous range of reasons, and create more trouble for the bigots than the bigots feel the displays are worth. Anyone still overtly spouting prejudice almost certainly wants to make you or me angry. Consider the old story about what one of the young Kennedys allegedly admitted: on seeing the Republican stickers in a taxicab, he immediately put his dirty shoes up on the seat, lighted a cigarette just to burn the upholstery, muttered nasty drunken remarks about the kind of people who drive cabs these days and their mothers, didn’t tip, short-changed the driver, and ran into a dark alley shouting “Vote for Goldwater!” So what I’d be likely to say, if I’d heard that kind of anti-Lieberman remark in real life, would be, “How much are the Democrats paying you? You don’t mean to say you’re campaigning for a candidate like that, making a real hate magnet of yourself…for free?”

But in the majority of Necessary Confrontations, when someone my age or younger is likely to stop throwing trash in your back yard if you deliver that message without distraction, it’s generally helpful to ignore the whole topic of emotions—even if the person tries to distract you by crying or swearing, it’s good to ignore that. Stick to an updated kind of three-part message: “When you throw your trash in my back yard, I have to deal with your trash, so now, as a result…”

It’s still a good idea to plan these messages carefully. What are you doing to your trashy neighbor as a result of his obnoxious habits? What rights do local laws give you to sue your neighbor for property damage, and how much does your lawyer’s name intimidate your neighbor’s lawyer? If you don’t have applicable local laws and plan just to return your neighbor’s garbage with compound interest, how far are you and your neighbor prepared to escalate the garbage war? What other consequences are likely to motivate this neighbor to stop throwing his trash in your back yard?

It is not a good idea to mention your emotional feelings when you want to focus attention on the need for someone else to change his or her behavior. Anyone who grew up in the Age of Therapy knows at least half a dozen different ways to turn any mention of any emotion into an argument that can be used against you. If you mentioned your emotions, that person is guaranteed to “win” the argument. Why should s/he even bother talking about less fascinating topics, like the veterinary expenses of a dog s/he backed a car into, or trash in someone else’s yard, or the disgusting thing s/he said about someone you happen to like, when s/he can change the subject to what is the matter with you, and why whatever you were talking about should be considered strictly as a “symptom” and not taken seriously.

I would like very much to know how Suzette Haden Elgin, who was one of the world’s experts on her generation’s techniques of what she called “cutesipation,” ever managed to hand an opponent a weapon like “I feel sad/angry/hurt, because…” and report, with a straight face, that that was a way to persuade anybody to water the tomato plants or stop throwing his trash in your yard. I would like to know that in an experiential way. I don’t believe I ever will; I’m sure anyone she was able to persuade, adult-to-adult, to do anything after saying “I feel” must be dead by now, and any child she ever persuaded to water any plants with an “I feel” speech must be an adult who’s resolved never to do anything else merely because someone in his or her generation has an emotional feeling about it. 

I’m sure that people whose sense of courtesy prevented them from quibbling with “I feel” must have been very nice people. Though I suspect they were also people who micro-oppressed others, or accepted micro-oppression by others, using that verbal technique that makes the sense of intolerable oppression so pervasive in Native Tongue—simply basing everything on the presupposition that all women (or all Black people or all people whose native language isn’t English) are feeble-minded. One habit of communication (or manipulation) does not necessarily depend on the other, but historically they do seem to have been found in the same time and place…

For my generation, the Rule of Three may still be hard-wired into our brains, but the structure of an effective three-part message is different. It’s “When you [do X], then [Y happens], and as a result, now [Z is happening or will happen].” All objective facts that are verifiable in the real world. No emotions.

Live long and prosper, Gentle Readers.

Label GMO Food in Plain English

Here's my version of an e-mail the Alliance for Natural Health is urging everyone to send to their U.S. Senators:

"
I apologize for this form letter...I'm disappointed to read the details of the new GMO compromise being offered by Sens. Roberts and Stabenow. The bill strikes me as a sneaky way to give Monsanto what it wants rather than the kind of labeling the overwhelming majority of consumers want.

The bill requires the labeling of packaged food containing GMOs in one of three ways: an electronic code that consumers can scan; a USDA-developed symbol; or a label. The bill leaves it to manufacturers to decide which of the three methods they prefer. Naturally they will prefer the code that can only be read with a scanner, which will be useless to most businesses and most individuals.

The QR code is hardly a label in any meaningful sense of the word. It *discriminates* against those who do not own smartphones--which is half of people living in rural areas, 75% of those over 65, and half of those making less than $30,000 a year. This legislation discriminates against all these people and especially the poorest Americans. Sens. Stabenow and Roberts should be ashamed of this.

An astounding 92% of consumers now want on-package labeling of genetically modified foods. As your constituent, I urge you to send this bill back to the House in a form that requires GMOs to be labelled in plain English, in clear and readable type.

And if they complain about that...I personally think the information should be available in Spanish, too. I'm willing to compromise on that part.
"

Tyson Chicken: The Green Rant

(This rant overflowed its fair share of space on today's Link Log.)

Tyson, oh Tyson, how long must the sins of the fathers be repeated by the children? The managers of the Tyson chicken company (distributed by Wal-Mart, thus available far away from Arkansas) claim to be Christians, no longer getting into trouble for stunts like smuggling bricks of cocaine by shoving them up the back ends of live birds, but...still dumping the raw excrement of sick birds into bodies of water from which their townsfolk drink, as in the bad old days when Bill Clinton almost lost the governor's seat. The position of this web site is that all owners of land or businesses, whether they are Hereditary Guardians of Mountain Springs or not, should feel personally responsible for not poisoning their townsfolk.

I mean, I heard about Tyson's pollution problem in the 1980s, and in 2008 I stood up in court and testified that a bag of Tyson's chicken could not have come out of my home because my husband and I did not, ever, buy Tyson's chicken. This was not just because we lived close to the Perdue farm (much cleaner, according to the report linked below, but still a substantial mess). It was because I personally would rather scoop up filth with my hands and burn it in a barrel, if solar power isn't burning it fast enough, than let it wash into water my townsfolk drink. And if you're going to advertise yourselves as Christian business owners, Tysons, so should you.

http://www.environmentamerica.org/reports/ame/corporate-agribusiness-and-fouling-americas-waterways

Now: this web site does not endorse the recommendations of environmentamerica.org. They are politically motivated recommendations that do not have the best interests of American farmers and townsfolk at heart. What we need is not "moratoria on new livestock operations," which would prevent business owners with better hygienic policies from competing with Tyson on ethical bases, but simply requirements that business owners take responsibility for cleaning up their own mess.

We do not need to encourage whole communities to "reject new livestock operations." We need to encourage whole communities to support smaller, more sustainable, local-scale livestock operations.

We need to look at the waste problems generated by packing too many humans together into animal-less, green-space-underprivileged, unnatural, toxic, urban living conditions, as recommended by U.N. Agenda 21. We need, before government even talks about the waste problems of farms, to demand that government take a hard, close look at the waste problems of multifamily housing projects.

We need to encourage whole communities to require that new housing for humans feature at least one acre of privately owned land per dwelling.

We should even consider getting back to the biblical principle of land being basically something people inherit, with which people bond, rather than something people buy and sell. Any landowner, however poor, is always richer and more free than anyone who has to buy everything s/he eats and drinks.

That said...the Tyson family should not need, if they are in fact trying to operate according to Christian principles, to be told to clean up their own mess. Within reasonable limits, a field can actually benefit from absorbing chicken effluvia. You exceed those limits, you scoop, you burn to kill the bacteria, and then you deal with the chemicals in the ashes, before anything hits the water. All whole-Bible Christians must have noticed a Bible passage that all elementary school children love to "discover," because it frankly discusses both weapons and bodywastes: Deuteronomy 23:13, quoted here from Biblia.

"
And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee.
"

Moses did not envision chickens living in the density at which they live on Tyson farms, but if he had, can anyone doubt that he would have mentioned those chickens?

(End of rant. Now what on earth is the relevance of this Amazon link? It's an inside joke among Southerners, Gentle Readers, but if you read the book you may understand why it came to mind, as I was typing. I feel just like the "Responsible" sister, whose excuse for not reasoning with the people making the foolish decision is that she's about to suffer for the forbidden passion the cover painting reflects, watching the "evil" character futilely tongue-lash everyone within range and silently thinking Yes! Go, girl!--because what else, at that point, can Miss Responsible do?)

Book Review: Enthusiasm

A Fair Trade Book


(What I read, and have for sale with a Storybook Doll at the time of writing, is the hardcover edition. Amazon doesn't want to show that image with the book; it's the same image the publisher used for the audiobook-on-CD version:

 )

Title: Enthusiasm

Author: Polly Shulman


Date: 2006

Publisher: Penguin / Putnam

ISBN: 0-399-24389-5

Length: 198 pages

Quote: “There is little more likely to irritate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast.”

Narrator Julie is the next-door neighbor and best friend of Ashleigh, the Enthusiast. Both of them are book lovers who have recently discovered the novels of Jane Austen. Julie enjoyed Pride and Prejudice; Ashleigh wants to wear long skirts and speak early nineteenth century English. “My dear Miss Lefkowitz,” she hails Julie before tenth grade classes begin, “we will be hard pressed to find even a single gallant at Byzantium High…fortunately, I have discovered the answer.”  

Julie and Ashleigh have always scorned boy-crazy girls, but who doesn’t long for “a soul mate…who will understand our hopes and fears, laugh at our jokes, offer us his coat when the afternoon turns cold, charm our parents, and admire us flaws and all,” as Julie puts it…and both girls just happen to have seen boys who at least look like that sort of romantic “hero” material, at the local boys-only school. All they need to do is get themselves invited to participate in a few of the boys’ social events…and, this being a romantic comedy for teenagers, that’s easily accomplished.

Well before Julie and tenth-grade-soulmate Parr find themselves speaking in a sonnet (instead of the usual awestruck adolescent loss-for-words routine), readers may notice that this novel is not exactly meant to be realistic. Probably they won’t mind. Once you’ve accepted teenaged girls whose obsession is Jane Austen, and teenaged boys who catch the said girls trying to crash a school party and just happen to have tickets and also just happen to be the boys the said girls were hoping to meet, why not accept a Teen Romance hero whose actual name is supposed to be “Grandison Parr”? If you stop and think, you know that “Grandison Parr” is about as likely as a tenth grade hormone attraction leading to a “soulmate” relationship…but romance is a fantasy genre anyway.


Enthusiasm is obviously inspired by Pride and Prejudice, but it’s not merely a remake. Within the narrow limits of the romantic comedy genre, it has its own plot. Romantics who are interested in reading about a budding friendship that builds up to sweet, chaste kisses should enjoy this one. Teenaged boys who are interested in reading about what nice, book-loving teenaged girls like and laugh at could do worse than read Enthusiasm, too. 

To buy it as an ordinary Fair Trade Book, send $5 per book + $5 per package (you could probably get four copies into a package for a total of $25) to either address at the very bottom of the screen, and we'll send $1 per copy to Shulman or a charity of her choice. To buy the very special, harshly used edition I bought cheap, read, and dressed a doll to match, send $20 (dolls don't fit into packages with additional books). To see the pattern for the doll-size cross-the-back evening gown, watch this space; it will eventually be uploaded.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 29 Link Log

Categories: Animals, Constitutional Rights, Economy, Gardening, Gluten-Free, Health News, Nature, Obituaries, Turkey Update, Venezuela Update, Weird, Writing, Zazzle.

Animals 

Cat chooses unusual nap position.

http://www.itsjustlife.me/wordless-wednesday-grandkitty-picture/

(Cat Sanctuary update: "How does your cat sleep?" Usually either out of my sight or on my lap, except when they're curled protectively around young kittens. All adults in my social cat family, including the males and the dumped-out stranger Inky, curled around this spring's kittens--including Inky's five, all of whom succumbed to Manx Syndrome before they were even one month old. After we lost Ivy, last winter, Heather started demanding a nap-on-my-lap every day or two until the weather got too warm. Heather and Irene sometimes nap in ying-yang position; so did Tickle and Elmo as kittens, last fall, and so did Tickle and Inky, and Elmo and Sisawat, as young cats this spring. Elmo and Sisawat have "graduated." Both have come home to visit, recognized and been recognized by their family, and expressed a preference for a home of their own. Tickle and Inky still don't have laps of their own, and Inky, sadly, remains unspayed for financial reasons. Donations toward protecting Inky from giving birth to more doomed kittens will be used for that purpose and no other.)

Constitutional Rights 

Cato recommends this short and insightful commentary on the idea of "gun violence as a public health crisis": The surprising fact is that, after the 1970s when people thought they'd identified a positive correlation between the presence of guns and violence, we're seeing a steady increase in guns contemporaneous with a decrease in gun violence.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/trevorburrus/2016/06/16/no-guns-are-not-a-public-health-crisis/#24ba78391eb1

Or do you prefer John Lott's more detailed study?



This web site is sorry, Democrats, and this web site understands that if Capitol Hill is catching this week's wave of heat'n'humidity sitting down on the floor probably felt like the right thing to do, especially if the tiles happen to be concrete...but at this point the only reason to carry on the tired old gun control "debate" is that it boosts gun sales, which is, according to the current evidence, a good thing for all of us.

This web site's favorite gun store has been selling a lot of stickers that this web site considers cool; here's a version nonlocal readers can get from Amazon. (If you go to an ISIS-infested country and drive really, really badly, do you get off with a recommendation to attend "55-Alive Safer Senior Driving" classes and/or buy new glasses?)

USA ISIS Hunting Permit - 4" x 3"- printed vinyl decal sticker america terrorist

Economy

The trouble with Twitter is that it moves so fast, after you have a few hundred connections, that you lose track of whom to thank for quotes like this one:

Work is a good thing – not punishment. The punishment is in laboring so hard to get so little.

Warmly seconded, because there's no better job than being a writer, but after that "Cow Patty" I have to make a choice between a more solid dinner today and being online from the cafe again tomorrow...

Gardening 

Recommended...especially for that follow-up article linked at the bottom...

http://time.com/4133353/pesticides-lung-function-children/?xid=tcoshare

Gluten-Free 

While online at the Family Bakery in Gate City, which smells nicer than the McDonald's, I've decided to subject myself to another scientific experiment and find out whether their "Gluten-Free Cow Patties" are safe for me to eat. I can say that they taste good--similar to the "Kindergarten Patties" for which Rodale Press circulated recipes when I was a kid, only made with sugar and chocolate rather than honey and carob; basically peanut butter and oatmeal cookies/candies, anyway. Later in the week we'll know whether they make me sick. Oats are becoming safer as awareness of gluten sensitivities rises. I've eaten Cheerios without ill effects, this year...fantastic!

Health News 

I have some reservations about how this weight-loss feat might be accomplished, but it's doable...if he added a lot of exercise, if he switched from eating even greasier beef or pork dishes instead of chicken, if he switched from constant face-stuffing to eating only two or three meals a day. I'll take his word for this.

http://kluv.cbslocal.com/2016/06/28/wow-texan-loses-140lbs-by-eating-chick-fil-a/

Nature 

Seldom seen in my part of the world--sunrise with thin enough clouds to form pink wisps in the sky, as opposed to heavy, low-hanging clouds of fog.

http://thevagabondtabby.tumblr.com/post/146638912947/mistymorningme-morning-stillness-photograph-by

Obituary 

Elvis Presley's old band lost its lead vocalist last week; this week, it's the lead guitarist:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/06/29/scotty-moore-elvis-presleys-pioneering-guitarist-dies-at-84/

Also, last week, the world lost Ralph Stanley.

http://www.heraldcourier.com/news/ceremony-honors-life-of-music-legend-ralph-stanley/article_9f523fdd-2c3a-5ab5-9923-48801b5efadf.html

Turkey Update

The Huffington Post broke this story; The Blaze's Dave Urbanski is following it. "You can hear people wailing," he says. I've disabled the sound on this computer, but they have plenty to wail about. You can see from the pictures that this is a "liberal" Muslim community, with relaxed dress codes and U.S.-friendly government policies, and they've been attacked by their alleged brethren in the faith for that reason...oh, peopleWaaaail! I don't know how God puts up with us! Continued condolences to our Turkish readers...

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/06/29/death-toll-at-41-in-triple-suicide-attack-at-istanbul-airport/?

Venezuela Update

What Bernie Sanders wants to do for the United States, continued. One benefit of membership in a church that's part of a large denomination is that your church can help you send food, etc., to victims of practical socialism.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/venezuelans-are-storming-supermarkets-and-attacking-trucks-as-food-supplies-dwindle/2016/06/28/70020a14-37c8-11e6-af02-1df55f0c77ff_story.html?tid=ss_tw-amp

Weird 

In Louisiana, the law doesn't ban prostitution as such, it doesn't ban people between the ages of 18 and 21 from doing whatever sexual acts they choose to do, it doesn't even ban teenagers from having sex with other teenagers...but it has just now decided that, although a 14-year-old girl is old enough to decide to have sex and get pregnant, a 19-year-old girl is not old enough to choose to work as a stripper (and not have sex or get pregnant). Bottom line: The fundamental truth that females (of other species as well as ours) can collect rewards for sexual acts while males usually have to provide some sort of reward for sexual acts, has always been a source of profound frustration, confusion, and distress for males.

http://reason.com/blog/2016/06/24/adult-women-cant-consent-to-sex-in-louis

On a happier note, though still sort of weird: Thanks to Elizabeth Barrette for sharing this article, with pictures, of plastic that changes color when it stretches.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/g00//news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/06/28/this-futuristic-plastic-changes-color-like-a-shimmering-opal-as-you-stretch-it/

And, about the great public-toilet issue...the issue is pretty gross, and the language at this post is appropriate, but it's nice to find someone else detaching from the false dichotomy and acknowledging that single-user public restrooms is the way to go. Why hassle the genuinely gender-confused? Why subject males to homosexual harassment? Why subject any of a business's customers to other customers' disease germs, especially rapidly airborne but short-lived Norwalk Flu, which you can indeed get just by smelling that peculiar, strangely familiar odor wafting across from another toilet in a group restroom...

https://thebarefoot.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/laws-that-belong-in-the-toilet/

My favorite kind of weirdness is people (or other creatures) that do things that should not, in theory, be possible...but they're doing those things. In theory it's impossible for bumblebees to fly, which explains why they do tend to "bumble"! Here's an interview with a quadriplegic yoga teacher:

http://www.dailygood.org/story/482/the-body-s-grace-on-being/

Writing 

One reason why "good" writing doesn't get due respect (and payment): there's a lot of it out there, and those who are paying for writing are entitled to choose only the very best (by whatever standards they hold--there are a lot of publishers whose working definition of "the very best" really means "the piece that contains an apparently gratuitous, I mean, I didn't specify this or anything, but the writer just happened to mention my brother-in-law's line of business").

Another is, of course, that too many people are willing to let writing that contains actual research be published on terms that don't pay for that research.

http://www.jerryjenkins.com/mean-ol-publisher-rejected-make-say-yes-next-time/

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/may/20/what-makes-bad-writing-bad-toby-litt

Zazzle 

Not one of +Ruth Cox 's photos, but this shower curtain reminded me of hers...





Dare Bet for Candidate Trump

Because it's beginning to seem possible that this web site will be persuaded to endorse Trump, and because the trolls and the crybullies have apparently persuaded Scott Adams to disable the comments on his site...here are my top three reasons for being an "anti-Trumper":

1. Trump has always come across as a jerk. I don't mean merely a New Yorker. "Killer" Ron Halvorsen, the boxer turned preacher, built a career on being a working-class Noo Yawkuh wit de accent an' orl, and I was a member of his church for four years.



So I'm not talking about an accent that I find amusing, or a manner that gives me the pleasure of feeling overprivileged. I mean that Trump comes off as a rich jerk with a long record of taking advantage of anyone who's disadvantaged in any way, in business "deals," specifically including widows and disabled veterans.

2. There are those who believe that anyone who wants to declare bankruptcy instead of paying a debt should be required to sell off all his/her assets, including motor vehicles, television sets, and any garment or piece of furniture that has or ever had a market value higher than $100, and if the creditors want to be mean there doesn't really need to be any legal provision for letting non-payers of debts keep the shirts on their backs. I am one of those people.

3. I'm not even sure that I'd call Trump sexist. Men who believe that a man who lies only to women, as it might be by vowing to "forsake all others until death doth them part" and then marrying younger women, repeatedly, is a man whom other men can trust, are sexist. I don't see Trump that way. I see his obnoxious behavior toward some women as having a certain unavoidable sexist odor, but I see his behavior toward some men as being equally obnoxious. I see him as an equal-opportunity selfish jerk who's likely to cheat and/or betray anybody. I mean...without even being an elected official he's already used eminent domain to take advantage of private citizens. (The position of this web site is that that ought to be made a felony, incurring deportation at the minimum.)

Note that, although Scott Adams has presumably got into this with a lot of "anti-Trumpers" who parrot the "Trump is a crazy racist" meme (while threatening the lives of Trump supporters? ???)...this web site has never, ever, accused Trump of being "crazy." This web site does not use "crazy" as an all-purpose insult-word, first of all. Secondly, I don't think it's rational to describe a successful Bankruptcy Billionnaire as anything but intelligent. Evil, perhaps; despicable, certainly, but very intelligent...sort of like my late husband's late ex-wife, or like the late Osama bin Laden. Acknowledging intelligence doesn't mean we like or approve of a person. It can mean recognizing one of the very few people who really qualify to be hated, and regarded as enemies, by intelligent people of good will. It can also be a way of acknowledging our debt to those who successfully oppose someone who's both evil and intelligent, which is always what's going on when I acknowledge that Hitler (before the drugs) was perceptive and intelligent and able to latch on to good ideas for his evil purposes...I'm not admiring Hitler, I'm admiring Churchill.

And, racist? I think that's like "sexist." Trump is, indisputably, White and male; he was those things in the bad old days when people thought those things should automatically confer privileges on a person; he wants those privileges, for sure. But, I repeat, he's not stupid. By now he knows better than to expect to get away with overtly relying on race or gender as a disadvantage for the other person, and he's seen that people who are neither White nor male can be serious competitors.

(This web site is partial to tangents, so that "Fauxcahontas" tangent might as well be addressed here, just to get it out of the way. Elizabeth Warren is neither a relative nor otherwise comparable to Pocahontas. She won the nickname "Fauxcahontas" by falsely claiming Cherokee ancestry in order to get the benefit of affirmative action. Warren's alleged basis for this claim was her cheekbones, which, it was later determined, she inherited from Swedish ancestors. Interestingly, Trump has claimed Swedish ancestry, but his grandfather was German. The confusion seems to have been traced to the grandfather; Trump may have honestly believed he's Swedish-American, as President Obama may have believed he was part Cherokee, just because people don't expect their parents to lie to them about these things. Telling children the family name is Swedish during a war against Germany, to protect those children from being beaten up if they admitted their name was German, is less despicable than denying your heritage merely in order to cheat needier students out of allegedly need-related scholarships. Still, Trump would be well advised to let the whole "Fauxcahontas" meme drop. This web site will curate it...you're welcome.)

The question that may decide the election is whether Trump can change--or appear to have changed--his selfish-greedhead-arrogant-lying-cheating-scheming-jerk qualities. Is he capable of a genuine spiritual experience? I don't know; frankly I'm inclined to doubt it. If, as some studies suggest, extrovert personalities are produced by a defective conscience, then it's either impossible or incredibly difficult for any extrovert to have much of a spiritual experience. And Trump's not just any extrovert egomaniac; he's demonstrated to the world that he's motivated largely by money, and he's made a lot of money being an extrovert egomaniac. That camel going through the eye of that needle will have an easier time than Trump becoming a Christian.

So, more to the point: is Trump capable of wanting to be President badly enough to pursue a spiritual experience, renounce selfish ambitions, and actually serve as a President dedicated to serving the will and interests of his constituents? I don't know about that, either, but it's easier to believe than that Trump is capable of being a serious Christian. He does have the natural ability to go to church, make Christian noises, avoid being alone with a young woman, abstain from any kind of private business "deals," and put his personal life on hold for four years, just as other Presidents have done...if he really wants to do that. I'm not convinced (yet) that he does really want to do that; but it's possible that he might.

I still think the best-case scenario would involve...I'm not going to propose a running mate for Trump, because I don't really wish the stigma of inheriting the Presidency on any politician I like, and I certainly don't endorse any deliberate attempt to shorten anybody's life, even Trump's, in any way more direct than encouraging the person to campaign for or serve as President. I will limit myself to observing that it's impossible for Trump to choose a running mate on the traditional "life insurance" basis, Spiro Agnew being dead. But if Trump carries on with the campaign, and yells and goes red in the face often enough, and if just about any of the other Republican candidates happens to be Vice-President when the inevitable happens...

Oh right, Big Fat Ugly German-American Jerk, #BankruptcyBillionnaire . Convince me that I'm wrong, if you can. Prove that you are capable of admitting you've made enough money on sleazy real estate deals and selflessly serving the will and interests of the Republican Party, if you can. That's the dare. This web site's support is the bet.

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/146605145036/persuasion-update-clinton-vs-trump

Book Review: Dawn Saves the Planet

A Fair Trade Book


(Go ahead and use that Amazon link, but be careful--it'll try to steer you to buy the Kindle rather than the book.)

Title: Dawn Saves the Planet (Baby-Sitters Club #57)

Author: Ann M. Martin

Author's web site: http://www.scholastic.com/annmartin/books/ (Just one of many pages at a professionally maintained web site for this prolific author.)

Date: 1992

Publisher: Apple / Scholastic

ISBN: 0-590-45658-7

Length: 146 pages

Quote: “How about if we do something like invite people to come to a fair?...We could call it the Green Fair.”

In this installment of the 100-plus adventures of the nicest middle school girls on Earth, Dawn takes her ecology project so seriously, she wants to set up a recycling center right inside her public school. She thinks of everything…except whether the people who participate in all her wonderful ideas want credit for thinking of things, too, especially when they did.

Dawn is a very, very nice girl but, given a chance to tell friends in Stoneybrook all the things she’s heard about and associated with being a California Girl during her earlier childhood in California, she can become just a bit of an overbearing bore. Of course, this being the Baby-Sitters Club world, the way Dawn alienates her friends will seem funny to readers. So will the way she overcompensates when she realizes what she’s doing.

And Dawn was a True Green—before Agenda 21—so, although her ideas for saving the planet may seem simpler and older-fashioned than the ones you’ve heard about more recently, they’re the ones that really are sustainable. Today’s kids can trust Dawn to recommend healthy individual Green choices!


This is a short book with a simple plot, and I’m glad this web site has no minimum word count for book reviews. Anyway, Dawn Saves the Planet is an essential part of every BSC collection, a fun read for middle school kids, family-friendly and wholesome. To buy it here, send $5 per book + $5 per package to either address at the bottom of the screen (that means eight BSC books for $45), and we'll send $1 per book to Martin or a charity of her choice.

All Gena Greene Storybook Dolls are unique, and I think we've dressed one for each of a good half of the Baby-Sitters Club and Baby-Sitter's Little Sister books. Not a problem. If you want a doll dressed in a different version of the outfit Dawn is wearing on the cover of either the first or the second edition, let me know; it'll raise the price to $20 and will not be shipped together with other books (because dolls don't qualify for the post office's book rate).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 28 Link Log

Once again, let's see how far through the e-mail I can get before the WiFi blinks out...For once I'm watching my e-mail avidly, even checking the spam folder, for a prospective client's answer to a question. If offered a job writing "polarizing" news stories for a right-wing web site, would I take it? In a New York minute. Even though I myself prefer "triangulating," finding points of agreement, and cooperating to "polarizing." It would be like last summer, when I was asked to write "about Tony Blair's war crimes" for a left-wing site. If you take the position that war is by nature a crime, the phrase makes sense, so I wrote about what the people who think their former Prime Minister should be charged with "war crimes" are charging him with. Writers do not have to agree completely with those about and for whom we write, in order to be honest. All writers should be able to write a fair, accurate report on any public speech or event, no matter how much we may disagree; we can write about our own opinions separately, if we so choose.

For example: This web site has no foreign policy, so will not feature posts about the Brexit story. That doesn't mean I'm not reading them, or wouldn't be able to write about what's being said on either side if someone really wanted an article on that topic. All it means is that I'm American, therefore unqualified to vote on a point of British policy. If I were to write about the Brexit Vote I'd be writing from research about what British people are saying and doing. If clients want to highlight one point of view or the other, that's their prerogative. Professional writers merely report these things.

Categories: Animals, Books, Disaster, Gardening, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Obituary, Politics, Travel, Weird, Zazzle.

Animals 

Zombie turtles...no, it's not this summer's blockbuster movie.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/06/28/scientists-created-zombie-frankenturtles-to-discover-why-loggerheads-are-dying/?tid=sm_tw

Canada geese rear their young semi-communally. Each goose guards her own nest, and geese have even been caught smashing neighbors' eggs when the territory gets crowded. However, once goslings hatch and start exploring their world, they socialize with other goslings and tend to follow friends. Papa and Mamma Goose may find an outing with their own babies turning into the goose equivalent of a school picnic! Goslings even sleep over in their friends' nests. So it's often possible to see huge "blended families" of geese, like this one:

https://mobile.twitter.com/USFWSMidwest/status/747841461333327872/photo/1



As this web site has explained several times: Clipping cats' claws is kind (like a manicure for humans), and should be done regularly. Declawing the cat is cruel (like tearing out fingernails with pliers, or maybe breaking off the ends of humans' fingers), and should never be done, even if people are too lazy, too blind, or too shaky to be able to clip their cats' claws. (Those people should, of course, call someone like me to help trim their cats' claws. I'm an old hand...partly because, since clipping doesn't hurt cats, it may encourage them to scratch things when they want attention, or need help to trim their claws!)

https://www.change.org/p/support-new-jersey-s-anti-declaw-bill-a3899-singleton?

And, for the dog lovers...Local lurkers may remember that it was a female employee of our local sheriff's department who'd adopted the dog "Bear," an old friend who, when "his boy" (her son) wasn't at home, tried to "detain" me and force me to play with him. You can still see the scars on my arm, and if Bear's intentions hadn't been good it's likely that I'd no longer have an arm. Possibly that's the problem with this other county not letting their police dog's handler adopt him. Well, yes, she should learn from our sad experience with Bear and make sure the dog "Hap" gets adequate exercise and entertainment. But what's the county's alternative? Putting a retired police dog in a shelter? Killing him? And how do they know that any woman, automatically, will be unfit to care for a dog she's already handled, when he was in his prime, now that he's growing old?

https://www.change.org/p/montgomery-county-commissioners-and-sheriff-tommy-gage-let-me-adopt-my-former-k-9-partner?

Books 

Dan Lewis has found an online version of a book that everyone, including author Victor Green, must be glad to agree is obsolete. Check it out some time when you want to remind yourself that, annoying though we humans are, as a species, real progress on some fronts has nevertheless been made. Eurgh.

http://nowiknow.com/the-negro-motorist-green-book/

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have collaborated on another series. This one's not speculative; it retells the Gospel stories from the Bible.

https://timlahaye.myshopify.com/collections/the-jesus-chronicles-1/products/the-jesus-chronicles-set?variant=3633468801

Disaster 

No longer news: large parts of Greenbrier County, West Virginia, have been underwater this weekend, causing the cancellation of the Greenbrier Classic golf tournament. CNN expects the water to stop rising this week:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/28/us/west-virginia-flooding-weather/index.html

The federal government is eager to "help" flooded communities by buying up the land, turning it into "protected green space." (And for how many presidential administrations after this one will federally protected land stay "green"? If it can still be strip-mined, or fracked? ???)

http://www.bdtonline.com/news/officials-judge-flood-damage-in-greenbrier-county/article_7ab8bc66-3cdf-11e6-8b90-472b05043dc3.html

Gary LeBlanc and the Mercy Chefs are there to help:

"When we arrived in White Sulphur Springs this past weekend, local officials asked me to increase our daily meals to 2,400. I had originally planned for 1,000. But, in a huge leap of faith, I said we'd do it. Instantly, our daily costs more than doubled.

So, I'm asking every friend of Mercy Chefs to prayerfully consider how you can help TODAY. We must meet the urgent needs of flood victims by providing 2,400 meals today, tomorrow and, most likely, for the rest of this week here in the Mountain State.

This link, highlighting the work of a writer about disasters in general, is shared because of what Rebecca Solnit says about the expectation that "poor people...revert to our savage...nature" in a crisis. Reminded me of the Great Storm of Takoma Park, Maryland, in 1989. This was a cyclone that literally blew up out of nowhere--one minute it was "How are you going to enjoy this perfect June weather?" and the next minute it was the biggest, baddest cyclone I've ever personally survived. If it didn't quite qualify as a hurricane, it acted like one. After the second half of the storm hit, every road in Takoma Park was blocked, every house showed damage, and nobody had electricity. (Weirdly, Bethesda also experienced a Great Storm and even three actual fatalities, while Silver Spring and the part of Washington, D.C., that lies in between Takoma Park and Bethesda, reported an ordinary thunderstorm with very little property damage.) So on the morning after the storm we all called in "stormbound" to our jobs and went out to clean up the mess, so that on the next day we could go back to work; what d'you think? Despite the number of affordable furnished rooms being rented to poor families, including students, artists, and foreign refugees, many Takomans were yuppies and the majority were members of the Seventh-Day Adventist church. Nevertheless, some idjit had to publish something in a local paper about how, wow, wotta surprise, all those poor and/or foreign people in Takoma Park had somehow managed to avoid looting and violence...had, in fact, behaved just like our friends in pricier Bethesda. Bah humbug!

http://www.dailygood.org/story/1322/rebecca-solnit-falling-together-on-being/

And then this news story, just in....[insert obligatory disclaimer about foreign news, hastily reported by people whose native language probably isn't English]...Once again the computer reports that a majority of people reading this site, this weekend, were in Turkey. After the recent hacking, this report does not come as good news. We've become Turkey-phobic. We wonder warily whether all of our Turkish readers are hackers. This is, however, worse than even hackers deserve. This web site extends condolences to those who've lost friends and relatives in the bombing.

http://news.huffingtonpost.com/t/t-l-dutknk-uyjhkhdri-t/

Gardening 

You probably need to live in the north-central part of the United States to re-create Laura Ingalls Wilder's wildflower garden...but what fun if you do!

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2920

And here's a full-length article about the flower a visitor mistook for marijuana in my not-a-lawn, a few years ago. Height is all mullein really has in common with marijuana and tobacco, as plants, although people have tried drying and smoking mullein too. (Well, it's less addictive than tobacco and less intoxicating than marijuana; that's about all that can be said for smoking mullein.)

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/weeds-with-a-purpose-great-mullein-verbascum-thapsus

Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous 

The Telegraph says it best: "People who claim to worry about climate change use more electricity than those who do not."

http://dailycaller.com/2016/06/28/leo-dicaprio-is-having-another-fossil-fueled-party-to-celebrate-how-green-he-is/

Obituary 

I'm sure this story will dominate the local printed newspapers all week, but Kim Bellware from the Huffington Post shared it first: Coach Pat Summitt, age 64.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pat-summitt-dead-basketball-lady-vols_us_57704801e4b017b379f64c31?

Politics (Issues)

Congressman Jim Jordan (not a close relative of former Gate City Christian School Headmaster James Jordan) accuses IRS Commissioner John Koskinen of obstructing justice.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/06/21/irs-commissioner-john-koskinen-jim-jordan-editorials-debates/86212160/

For many of us the goal of much hard work, education, and professional training is to become a professional worker who's paid for doing something, rather than for "hours." Kenny Stein shares some of the frustration thousands of professional types are feeling...I, too, would like to see everyone move away from the whole concept of paying for "hours."

http://www.freedomworks.org/content/federal-government%E2%80%99s-new-overtime-rules-represent-declaration-war-job-flexibility-and-small

The Independent Journal headline here is a bit ambiguous...Democrats in Congress staged a 1960s-style "sit-in" to demand a vote on a 1960s issue, "gun control." We really need a law banning people from wasting Congress' time by demanding endless re-votes on things that have been soundly defeated in the past. Anyway, Virginians need to know that among those refusing to accept the outcome of the constitutional legislative process, demanding to relive the past in the hope that this time they can make it come out their way, were Senators Kaine and Warner. (IJR suggested that Senator Kaine's commitment to reopening the "gun control" issue started with the Orlando shooting; regular readers will recall that he'd promised to make it a focal issue this June, before the shooting.)

Two insights come to mind:

(1) For some grief-stricken souls, the urge to lash out against something blamed for the death of a loved one can create a fixation with all kinds of unrealistic ideas...like poor old Sam Crockett's obsession, in the 1980s, with blaming cars with automatic transmission and power steering, or specifically blaming the Camaro Z28, for the loss of his drunk-driving teenaged son. My own parents actually showed some interest in closing down the park where my brother accidentally drowned, although they were rational enough not to attach themselves to pushing that issue. And poor dear Sarah Brady is a sympathetic, charismatic person...it can be very hard to remind yourself that the cause to which she's dedicated her life has been pretty thoroughly proven irrational. It probably takes an individual emotional attachment to some place where "gun control" has been a resounding failure, e.g. Ireland or the District of Columbia, to bear that in mind when dealing with Mrs. Brady.

(2) Reopening the "gun control" debate is a proven stimulus to firearms-related business activity. Contrary to the stereotype that gunsmiths and gun dealers are right-wing, well, wingnuts, many of them actually describe themselves as "moderate." They are influential businessmen in Virginia, and they appreciate Senator Warner.

http://ijr.com/2016/06/637400-a-glaring-fact-emerges-about-26-of-the-democrats-who-participated-in-the-sit-in-against-gun-control/

Congressman Griffith recently supported a U.S. House bill nicknamed "PROMESA" intended to restructure the debt of Puerto Rico.

https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/114/hr5278?ct=t(Weekly_Update_June_20_2016)

Politics (Election 2016) 

Hillary Rodham Clinton displays her "Gay Pride" by walking four whole blocks.

http://ijr.com/2016/06/637831-hillary-shows-bold-commitment-with-how-far-she-marches-in-nyc-gay-pride-parade/

Travel 

Vegan vacation in Hawaii, anyone? It must be great to be a semi-retired doctor...after just thirty or forty years or so of working with patients, writing books, being controversial, etc., you get to make a second career of organizing vacations for people who can't become full-time patients but might be helped by the same thing that helped some of your other patients. "McDougalling," eating a low-fat, complex-carb-only, vegan diet, is such a helpful corrective for the high-fat, low-fibre, meat-based diet that makes so many of us in the United States ill, after fifty years of eating out of balance...it's a simple, intuitive solution yet it can seem like a miracle. If you know someone who needs to balance his or her diet, but is concerned about a medical condition getting out of hand or about having the willpower to get onto the corrective regime, a vacation with the McDougalls is the perfect gift for that person. Pricey, but for some people it's well worth the price.

http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5e58f59d97611f910916b6276&id=7d0dc96606&e=4d57a9fdfb

Cheaper, simpler fun stuff in Tennessee...east Tennessee, a quick day trip for anyone who's smitten by the "get out of town" urge while in Gate City, Virginia.

http://blog.selectregistry.com/2016/6-things-to-do-in-tennessee-for-nature-lovers/

Or, for those who prefer to travel eastward...note that this site does not include Natural Tunnel, which would, of course, fail to satisfy our urges to "get out of town."

http://blog.virginia.org/2016/03/16-amazing-camping-locations-virginia/?adref=twt0616

Weird 

Holding sparklers up over people's heads? What a weird idea. I think my own personal Nephews would know what a bad idea this is, but, in case anybody out there needs to read it...(Thanks to Dave Barry for sharing.)

http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2016/06/24/Sparkler-lights-brides-hair-on-fire-at-Tennessee-wedding/8381466797558/?spt=sec&or=on

Zazzle 

At least Zazzle reminds me to post these links...When you follow a link on someone's web site (or social media feed) to buy something from Zazzle, the designer earns a commission, but--in order to encourage more link sharing among Zazzlers--the person who posted the link earns a bigger commission. So although I'm not the one walking out with the Ph.D. degree this June, you can support this site by buying the shirt for anyone you know who is earning her Ph.D.