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Monday, November 15, 2021


Welcome to the blog, 'zine, and bookstore of Priscilla King. We encourage comments, contact, and support. If the comments section isn't working, or the "contact" tab isn't showing, please feel free to e-mail (our Message Squirrel's address, which routes messages to Priscilla King, Grandma Bonnie Peters, Gena Greene, and others). And please e-mail us if you'd like to buy anything you've seen here.

We are currently looking for (TWO) paid guest posts. Guest posts should be unique, informative, and well referenced. They may reflect your political and/or religious views but should not be primarily or specifically about politics. They should tell me something I didn't know, about something I find interesting but don't write about. If in verse, they should have some recognizable form, not necessarily a traditional form. Whether in verse or prose, they should have at least three published nonfiction references, at least one of which should be a printed book. Guest posts will be reviewed by at least two separate people, the writer will accept an offer for the post with or without changes, and $5 will be transferred to the writer's Paypal account before a guest post appears here. Guest posts should also be e-mailed to Saloli at the address above.

As discussed below, due to recent world events our discussions of U.S. political issues have moved to a U.S.-only web site called Freedom Connector. Many writers, elected officials, and others active in U.S. politics have pages at this site. U.S. readers should find it easier to comment and socialize at FC than it's been here.

International readers are still welcome to read and comment about books, nature, history, recipes, handcrafts, and miscellaneous topics here.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ghosts and Fungi: Halloween Spooky Post

"In the basement, my skin felt clammy and clenched tightly around my bones. My heart pounded so wildly in my chest, I felt as if I was facing my own death. I felt so uncomfortable underground, in fact, that I thought I was going to pass out."--Theresa Wiza at .

In that basement...but not in another basement? I thought, reality-testing as I read. Yes, I can believe that a sane, intelligent person could have this reaction in only some basements, because I've watched it happen. Just as vertigo is a physical reaction that's distinct from fear of heights but is triggered by looking either up or down a "visual cliff," the phobic reactions some people have in only some buildings or basements are physical reactions to substances in those places, distinct from claustrophobia.

As discussed here ...real "horror" houses that seem to be exuding palpable waves of evil at almost everyone are likely to be physically polluted with nastier things than ordinary mold or insects. Houses that make only a few people feel "sick with horror" are likely to be polluted with mold or other natural substances to which only a few people have the nasty reactions that produce the sense of panic.

As when I was writing for Associated Content and working a flea market that was set up in an old tobacco warehouse. Some days it reeked of black mold, Stachybotrys atra, and some days blue mold (Aspergillus, usually a mixed growth), and some days my nose clogged up and I couldn't smell anything until chlorine bleach had become the dominant odor. And the funny thing about the warehouse was that, although the building was well aired, well lighted, and frequently scrubbed, people acted so weird as they walked through it. Sun would be pounding down on the big tinted skylight overhead, vendors' booths would be ablaze with lights, and we'd hear would-be shoppers babbling, "It's like walking into a cave," "It's spooky," "It's like being in a coal mine." 

So, some people don't know much about caves or coal mines. But things got weirder when other people wanted to work the booth with me. A laid-off father of young children who honestly wanted a job, especially a job where kids were positively appreciated, came in for a day. As he walked through the building his eyes teared up, his hands started trembling, and he began to cough. "I can't do this. I don't know why, but I cannot be in this building. I could not bring the children here."

A human friend and partner (yes, I do have a few of those in real life) had gone into the building, without blathering about caves or mines, and happily reported that she'd found me a booth with doors that locked for lower rent than I was paying in another indoor market, farther from home, at the time. Great job! Now she could work the booth and market her own wares some of the time! She came in with me, and after half an hour her mood and manner changed. She started looking nervously around, clock-watching, wanting to go to the bathroom or go out to a store or go home early every few minutes, like a child. Didn't she want to sell her stuff? She did, but..."I don't know what's wrong. I know it's not cold, but I feel cold." Halfway through the day, despite all those breaks, she was obviously trying to cope rationally with irrational mood swings, as her sinuses began to clog. She didn't like the people in the building, even when they bought things. She didn't like the way I'd set up the booth. Something might have been wrong with the food she'd bought. She just had to get out of that horrible building! She couldn't breathe! Her heart was pounding, her head was throbbing! She was going to faint! And this lady doesn't faint easily, nor does she have any kind of heart disease or suffer from migraines...

There's no local legend about the warehouse being haunted. Nobody's ever died there, or even become ill in any dramatic way. There is a solid history of vendors having failed to make a profit there, no matter what they've done. I was one of those vendors. So I left. Around that time, the tornado about which I wrote my last AC article passed by. No funnel cloud was seen, but the "spin-off cyclone" took out one wall of the building. The vendors voted to take out what remained of that wall in hopes that better air circulation would reduce panic reactions in shoppers. From what I've heard, either this didn't work (mold continued to thrive in the shade) or any benefits were offset by the loss of what the building had in the way of climate control, which was inadequate.

Anyway, those people's reactions started to make sense to me when I researched an AC article about the effects of exposure to mold and mold spores on different people. What was "toxic black mold"? (Stachybotrys atra is not toxic but, for reasons unclear, it's more likely than any other mold to cause a toxic chemical reaction when people are exposed to it.) Was there, then, a non-toxic black mold? (Aspergillus niger is generally regarded as safe enough to be the source of most of the citric acid used as flavoring in processed foods...but now we know, although a few years ago we didn't know, that A. niger can cause significant chronic illness for a few unlucky people: .) 

What, exactly, does mold do to people? Different things depending on who they are, what they've been eating, what other chemicals they've ingested, and who knows what-all. Allergy reactions definitely include mood swings, panic attacks, rage outbursts, depressive episodes. Mold does not usually mess with most people's minds, but it can mess with some people's minds.

Some sane and intelligent people believe that various kinds of paranormal influences are involved when they have panic attacks, or unexplained surges of rage or depression or, for all we know, maybe even manic energy. There's no proof that these paranormal influences do not exist. If evil spirits exist, they must absolutely love Stachybotrys atra. There is, however, proof that various kinds of allergies and sensitivities can be involved when a long series of nasty things happen in a specific place.

Last winter I wrote about a cancer survivor whose wife had also become ill, while caring for him at home, after another death in the family. Thanks perhaps to some of you and to other kind people, they got the trailer house parked on their own property, as requested, and have reclaimed their right to privacy. But the Kingsport Times-News printed a sequel last summer. A house close to their property seems to be unsalable at any price because it's been described as haunted or at least unlucky--a long series of occupants died of different kinds of cancer in that house. People who don't believe in ghosts or aliens feel creepy about that house, too...should it be called the Hawkins County Horror? And, er um, are that family still sure they want to live there? Should they at least have the place tested for known carcinogens before they rebuild a solid house?

Some people's panic attacks occur frequently, and may be a symptom of something wrong with a natural warning system. Other people seldom have panic attacks, but when they do, theirs may be a healthy indication that something is genuinely dangerous--at least to them. A place where some people feel comfortable, some think that if there's a ghost it might be a friendly one, and others feel sure that the place is haunted by evil spirits, sounds to me like a place where physical triggers of those people's physical sensitivities are present.

This does not necessarily prove that ghosts aren't present...especially if humans have lived in the area and kept records for a long time, and several of those humans have had psychological reactions to the same physical trigger. In theory, if a lot of people's reactions included paranoid panic, there might be a history of murders and suicides, and for all we know the ghosts of all the people involved might haunt the place, as is rumored to be the case with some historic houses in England. But, for those of us who are skeptical about ghosts, "evil spirits" like mold, radon, pesticides, and other pollution are evil enough to explain why some places evoke feelings of horror.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From Congressman Griffith's Regular E-Newsletter...

Political content is supposed to go here now:
...but this tidbit is personal. Congressman Griffith wrote:
"In an October 2 speech, President Obama asserted, “By every economic measure, we are better off now than we were when I took office.”  The President may think everything is okay, but I don’t.  And when I talk to constituents, they don’t think everything is okay either.  Too many are unemployed or underemployed, have only part-time jobs when they want full-time work, or have dropped out of the workplace entirely.  Too many people are seeing their income and wages reduced.

46 jobs bills (solutions) that would encourage more employment have passed the United States House and are stuck in Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) do-nothing Senate.

When the President and others say Congress doesn’t do anything, I would remind them that the House has sent 46 pro-job bills to the do-nothing Senate.

I am not only concerned about what is taking place with our economy, but also what is happening with our country’s energy sector, what is happening with our constitutionally protected rights, and what is happening with our health care system, among other issues.  Some ask the question: what are you doing about it?  Well, there are in fact, 387 House-passed bills (solutions) dealing with these and other issues that are gathering dust on Senator Reid’s desk.  The Senate isn’t acting on our proposed solutions.  Further, they aren’t making reasonable proposals of their own. "
Let's just say that I, Priscilla King, was a lot better off economically in 2008 than I am now.
And these tidbits are of interest to the general public:
"Medicare Open Enrollment As a reminder for all our seniors, the Medicare open enrollment period began last week and runs through December 7, 2014.  For more information, you can visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

Upcoming Veterans Town Hall in Salem

To those veterans living in the area serviced by the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), please be advised that there is a veterans town hall/listening session scheduled for November 10, 2014 from 3:00pm-4:00pm at the Salem VAMC Auditorium in Building 5.  With questions or to confirm this event is still in effect, please contact Salem VAMC Customer Service Manager Ann Benois at 540-982-2463 ext. 3554 or Public Affairs Officer Marian McConnell at 540-855-3460.

On a Personal Note…

We send our weekly column to every newspaper we know of in the district.  Some newspapers print the column, some do not.  If you live in an area where the newspaper does not carry our column, please remind friends and family they can sign up at to receive it from us by email. "
Hmm. I didn't intend to paste in the whole newsletter (Virginia readers are encouraged to use the link and read the rest of it), but now the system's refusing to delete it. Let's see if I can figure out how to fix that in should now see the contact information boilerplate from the full E-Newsletter:
"As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. 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"

Hurt Statement on Ebola Virus

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt:

"Protecting Americans’ Health and Safety Requires More Action
Dear Friend,
Over the past several weeks, our office has received numerous calls and emails from constituents who are concerned about the growing threat of the spread of Ebola in the United States and abroad. They are concerned not only because of the seriousness of the disease and how easily it can spread, but also with the failure of the agencies responsible for maintaining the public health to take the proactive steps needed to prepare for a domestic case of the disease. I share my constituents’ concerns and frustrations and hope that additional action will be taken to contain the disease, prevent further incidences, and reestablish the public’s confidence in these agencies ability to keep us safe.
The House has been engaged on the dangers of Ebola since August, holding more than a dozen oversight hearings to assess the situation and the federal response. This past week, the Energy and Commerce Committee held a key hearing at which officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other federal agencies involved in the response testified about what they are doing to prevent the spread of Ebola. It is clear that these agencies could have been more proactive earlier on in the process to prepare hospitals and healthcare workers, as well as transit and transportation systems, on the protocols needed to contain any cases of the disease.
While I appreciate that these agencies are working to combat this threat and have taken positive steps like enhancing screening measures at international airports and increasing training for hospitals and medical personnel, more needs to be done to ensure the safety of our citizens. We need to evaluate and implement additional tactics, including a temporary ban for travelers from affected West African countries, stronger quarantining practices, and fast-track review of potential treatments for Ebola.
These officials also have a responsibility to keep the American people properly informed about the situation. They should not withhold information for fear of “inciting panic.” The American people know they must remain calm and rational about the disease, but they also want to be informed and vigilant so they can do their part in ensuring the disease is contained.
Here in Virginia, I am pleased that our public health officials and hospitals and medical personnel are taking action to be prepared and help mitigate this situation. Medical professionals in the Commonwealth are also educating the public about the disease, and researchers at the University of Virginia have been instrumental in unlocking new discoveries about the virus as they work toward a cure. I am committed to working closely with local, state, and federal partners to ensure the government is doing what is needed to fulfill its core responsibility to keep the public safe.
If you need any additional information, please visit my website at or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
Robert spoke with Dixie Dalton at the Lunenburg Farm Bureau's Annual Dinner.
Robert visited with Ricky Perkins at Perkins Tire in Gretna.
Robert Hurt "

Griffith Statement on Obamacare's Lack of Transparency

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith:

Griffith Statement on Continued Lack of Obamacare Transparency
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 – Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) issued the following statement on the failure of Obama Administration officials to release health insurance rates for 2015 until after the November midterm elections:

“At a May Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, I asked representatives of some of the nation’s largest health insurance providers about their companies’ Obamacare rates for 2015.  The insurance executives would not commit to sharing their proposed rates with Congress, but did indicate that they would be submitting them to the Department of Health and Human Services and certain states by the end of June.”

“I have made it clear in the past that I want the President and Obamacare officials to release data on the premium data for the 2015 plans in a reasonable timeframe, and not play political games with this important information.  I even introduced a bill that would require the Department of Health and Human Services to release the information to Congress within 30 days of receiving it from insurers.  At the time, I introduced this bill in an effort to increase transparency and ensure that the American people are not kept in the dark for political reasons.  Clearly my efforts to have this Administration keep its promise to be transparent and not play political games with the Obamacare rate increases have been unsuccessful.”

“Instead of transparently sharing this information with the American people, the Administration has chosen to wait until after the midterm elections.  Why?  The answer is clear: prices are going up, and in some states they are going to go up a lot.  And the President is afraid to admit yet another failure of his Obamacare promises."

“Also notable is the fact that a former head* of Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (which is responsible for implementing Obamacare) has filed suit, arguing that HHS is improperly hiding this insurers’ requested rates for 2015 in violation of Obamacare itself.”

“The Administration’s failure to release this important data is a sure sign that it is bad news for the American consumer.  As the old saying goes, ‘The proof is in the pudding.’  But when the Obamacare cooks refuse to bring their ‘pudding’ out of the kitchen while the customers wait impatiently, one has to believe it’s a bitter dish.  Otherwise, the President and his allies would most certainly want to give the American people a taste.”

“I call on the President to do the right thing and release the new Obamacare insurance rates by Tuesday, October 28 – one week before the election – so the American people will know the facts before going to the polls.”

Video of Griffith questioning insurance providers about health insurance premium rates and other issues with Obamacare can be found here.



On Friday, May 9, 2014, in an effort to increase transparency and ensure that the American people are not kept in the dark for political purposes, Griffith introduced the Insurance Rate Transparency Act (H.R. 4633).  This bill would require that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) submit specific health insurance premium increase information to Congress within 30 days of receiving it from insurance providers. "

Friday, October 17, 2014

Paper Bag Cap

This was designed as a cap that's shaped like a bag. If you don't like it as a cap, you could add a strap and zipper and use it as a bag.

The color looks a little darker on the screen than it does in real life, but yes, it's a gray cotton tweed with pink, blue, and white flecks.

Price is $5, plus $5 shipping (shipping charges can be consolidated, so browse down).

Book Review: Cowkind

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Cowkind
Author: Ray Petersen
Date: 1996
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
ISBN: 0-312-14302-8
Length: 193 pages
Quote: “He was just another man, like all men. Only interested in what was in it for them.”
For the character Bossy, from whose point of view this novel is written, what’s in it for men is milk. This is a novel about a dairy farm, in the early 1970s. Even the cows have their generation gaps.
Cowkind is supposed to be funny. I didn’t laugh. In a sense the cows’ family problems can be read as a parody of the stereotypical human family problems of this period, but the father who gets grumpy when he thinks about his own father’s death, the girl whose boyfriend’s mother is sweetly telling him why he shouldn’t marry her while the boyfriend’s father is molesting her, the farmer who hasn’t bought milking machines but is willing to mutilate the tails of cows who won’t keep their tails out of the pail, are sad and off-putting rather than funny to me. They are too much like real farmers—the kind who didn’t prosper—to be funny. They’re not intelligent enough to stir up much sympathy either, but they come too close to being a serious analysis of What Went Wrong With Some Family Farms. Even the climactic scene, in which a psychically gifted cow telepathically heals a “haunted” man, failed to raise a chuckle from me.
Perhaps if Cowkind had achieved a clear positive vision of the hope it offers, the sense of transcendent “oneness” bonding and healing the cows and their humans, it would have been a pleasant New Agey read. I suspect the reason why this didn’t happen has something to do with Petersen’s observations of cows as thick-hided, thick-headed, rather numb animals. Everyone knows that dogs and horses have social and emotional feelings that aren’t quite like humans’, but are close enough that humans can get a realistic sense of how different their feelings are. Most chickens have been highly bred for stupidity, but now and then one meets a relatively clever chicken and realizes that, when chickens have the full use of their tiny scatty brains, their emotional reactions are remarkably like humans’. This does not happen with cows. The more time you spend with cows, the more you notice how few social and emotional reactions they display, and how alien their reactions are when they show any. I could suspend disbelief in a horse sensing and healing a man’s memories; it might be fiction, but I’d bet Lynn Andrews could make it good fiction. I can’t suspend disbelief in a cow doing that. And yet Petersen’s tone is too earnest for me to be able to read the shamanic cow scene as a joke.
So I don’t get it. I don’t get into it. I usually don’t get into fiction written for adults anyway, and maybe this is due to some lack of empathy or imagination rather than the shortcomings of novelists. But I can tell you that, for a novel in which different cattle breeding techniques are described and a wholesome teenaged girl is molested, Cowkind is not exactly obscene. (We’re not forced to know exactly how the girl is molested, we’re only forced to realize what loathsome people her prospective in-laws are.) More goes on in this novel than the usual sequence of adulteries and murders among people who should all have been “killed,” written out of any publishable stories by their authors, before they ever saw the printed page. Petersen really is trying to make a statement about family farms, although it’s hard to be sure, just from reading Cowkind, how he would prefer that the statement be summarized. If Cowkind doesn’t quite manage to be Serious Literature, at least it does try; at least Petersen deserves some respect for having the courage to try.
Maybe some cow lover out there will enjoy Cowkind more than I did. I hope so. The online cost will be $5 + $5 for shipping (shipping charges can be consolidated), out of which Petersen or a charity of his choice will receive $1.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shot Across the Newspapers' Bows (Web Site Bashes a Popular Fallacy)

(Yes, this was originally written in the first week of January. The scarcity of public-access computers that can read floppy disks creates a long turnaround time for what I write with the intention of posting.)

Although this web site does have an official Disaster Relief Theme and has often mentioned places where prayers, and extra cash, will be welcome, we’ve not discussed every natural disaster...In 2013, in Russia, over a thousand deaths were attributed to a collision between Earth and a meteorite.

Most of the “falling stars” in the sky burn to nothing recognizable or, if they do touch Earth, are reduced to small fragments of molten mineral matter. Every few hundred years we see a meteorite big enough to demolish a farm. Oregon’s Crater Lake is credited to one of these phenomena. No history of human fatalities is associated with Crater Lake; apparently, at the time the meteor struck, Oregon enjoyed a very low, very sparse human population. But yes, it could happen here.

A newspaper article, apparently inspired by the phrase “Act of God” that describes this kind of rare, bizarre natural disaster, described the meteor as “a shot across the bows of a nation that had outlawed belief in God.” I probably wouldn't have noticed this throwaway line if some reader hadn't sent the newspaper a verbal "bouquet" for printing it. Right. It needs a verbal brickbat.

Harrumph. The nation that outlawed Christianity was the bad old Soviet Union, in the bad old Cold War days when they were trying to prop up the toppling dogma of Marxism by taking over small countries. Russia’s experiment with atheism was especially poignant because Russia is the home of so many quaintly beautiful old churches, churches designed to make people want to pray, and now people are reportedly praying in those churches again. The current administration has been criticized for being too supportive of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Did this meteorite manage to crash on top of an atheist activists’ convention, or did it, like most natural disasters, affect Christians, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, and atheists impartially? Would anybody actually know that?

Even if a natural disaster affected only an atheists’ convention, how would we know whether some people at the convention were sensitive Christian souls going through periods of doubt...C.S. Lewis called himself an atheist for a few years. Madeleine L’Engle admitted to atheist and agnostic phases. Scott Peck did. The long line of Christian writers and teachers who’ve gone through atheist phases stretches back past St. Augustine, arguably all the way to St. Paul, who didn’t consciously call himself an atheist but denied his faith in God by his works before he became a Christian. And if the best Christian writers, the “Doctors of the Church,” have had atheist phases, then how are we to judge twelve hundred souls, none of whom we’ve ever met? How do we know whether some other saint, perhaps not a writer but a great doctor or a noble foster parent or an honorable storekeeper, was among those twelve hundred?

When it affects an entire town...most cities and towns these days contain a mixture of Christians, atheists, and others, but Russian Christians’ faith is special because it’s survived almost a hundred years of active persecution. By all reports even the Soviets didn’t outlaw belief in God; they merely outlawed evangelism and implemented policies of active socioeconomic discrimination against Christians—good jobs went to Communist Party members, who had of course identified themselves as atheists. Still, the faith of Russian Christians, and likewise Jews and Muslims, deserves admiration from believers who have never faced even overt discrimination for their faith.

If God arranges for meteors to hit apostate Christian nations, it’s strange that God waited so long after Russia reconciled itself with its Church Militant, stopped desecrating the old church buildings, and resumed praying in them. It’s even stranger that the meteor didn’t hit China, which was never a Christian nation and actively tried to suppress Christian displays by visiting athletes and spectators during the Olympics. And it’s downright bizarre that the meteor didn’t hit these United States, where Christianity has picked up political accretions, and left-wing Christians creep and whimper and apologize for whatever faith they actually have, while right-wing Christians attach God’s name to hatespews about people deserving, because of their ancestors' mistakes, to be homeless, hungry, maimed, or dead; God must feel mocked and blasphemed by both factions. 

Lavender Mittens

In real life they're pale lavender, not pale gray. These basic mittens fit an average woman's hand, are made of 100% acrylic, and cost $5 + $5 shipping.

Book Review: Voices of the First Day

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Voices of the First Day
Author: Robert Lawlor
Date: 1991
Publisher: Inner Traditions
Length: 432 pages
Illustrations: over 1000 photographs, some in color

Voices of the First Day is, not primarily but to a considerable extent, an adult picture book. That’s the best thing about it. Lots of full-color photos of folk art, all of it exotic, much of it beautiful. 
This book also contains lots of pictures of people for whom clothing was optional. Not what could be called exploitative or pornographic pictures. If you’ve ever practiced nudism at home or at summer camp, you’ll recognize the spirit in which these people and their children consented to release these photos. Most of them are wearing something. All of them are doing something other than calling attention to their scantily decorated bodies. The pictures do, however, show fit, youthful bodies.
The majority of the images of people are “duotone” rather than color, which gives everyone a dark reddish brown complexion. Lawlor tells us that the actual complexions of Australian Aboriginal people vary—especially since Australia began counting anyone with one confirmed Aboriginal ancestor as an Aborigine, even if the person can trace sixty-three other ancestors back to different continents. Lawlor goes into detail about the way some of his acquaintances look, and the quirky theories of history, geology, and anthropology his observations have suggested to him...
That’s what’s not to love about the book, actually. Although Voices of the First Day contains some pictures that are worth the price of the book, and some interesting stories—folktales as well as the story of Lawlor’s research—it is primarily an argument that the whole world should emulate some things about some of the cultures of Australian Aborigines. So far as I can tell, the silence of the rest of the world, in response to this idea, has been deafening. For one thing most of us live in climates that force us to wear clothes.
For another thing, the scholarship in this book leaves things to be desired. I’m willing to take Lawlor’s word that an observation like “The moment a man kills a kangaroo, a complex formal system of distribution goes into effect” is a polite summary of what might have been a monotonously detailed, and invasive, account of how his friend A killed a kangaroo and immediately began dividing up the meat among friends B, C, D, and so on. I have no contradictory evidence. But when he starts spinning theories from some mix of personal memory and academic reading, readers may need to be reminded that the books he cites were all madly popular in 1991; the reason why you’ve not read them is that a lot of books like The Gaia Hypothesis and The Hundredth Monkey turned out, when academically checked, not to hold much water. It’s not been proved that there never was a Lost Continent of Mu, or that the magnetic poles of the Earth don’t flipflop every few thousand years, but it has certainly never been proved that there was or that they do.
And sometimes Lawlor’s bias when he soberly states that, because male English colonists took advantage of Aboriginal women, many Anglo-Australians have Aboriginal ancestry and don’t know it. Say whaaat? Different though the English and Aboriginal definitions of family seem to have been, one thing they have in common is that children were normally brought up by their mothers. If people have Aboriginal ancestry and don't know it, the explanation would probably be that Aboriginal men took advantage of English immigrant women.
And Lawlor’s observations of his Aborigine neighbors have been too casual to make up a book on any standard topic. Voices of the First Day is not, for example, a collection of folktales, songs, or poems, although it contains many interesting samples of these. It’s not a language dictionary, although it contains a few fascinating word studies. It’s not a study of Australian wildlife and nature lore, although it contains some tidbits of nature lore, and although many Americans would enjoy reading a collection of Australian nature lore. The closest this book comes to being a real academic study of anything Australian is the folk art—bark and sand paintings that, Lawlor tells us, were always made in shades of brown because the Aborigines used only red, yellow, black, and white pigments.
So what we have is a picture book. But not exactly the kind recommended for sharing with children. The discussion of puberty rites, complete with photos of ritually scarred teenagers, is just the sort of thing many parents would want their kids not to read. This one is recommended to arty types who won’t be bothered by all the near- and complete nudity; who will love all those not quite monochromatic abstract paintings in shades of brown. 

Because it's an art book, Amazon shows this one selling, even when used, for collectors' prices. I'm still willing to sell the copy I physically own now, locally, for the low local-store price, but online the best I could do would be $15 + $5 shipping. Out of this, Lawlor or his favorite charity would get $1.50. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mad Purple Pullover

This stripey pullover, based on a Patricia Roberts design, really is purple, red, pink, blue, and green in real life. Even brighter than in the photo.

The material is Simply Soft acrylic...not the toughest, but with reasonable care it should keep its shape and color for many years. Machine wash and dry. Do not hang on a coat hanger.

The size is "large," and the shape is just slightly fitted for a tall, busty woman...44-48" around, 5'6" to 5'10".

Price: $40 + $5 shipping. (Yes, you could probably fit a hat, paperback book, or baby sweater into the package with this sweater and pay only one $5 shipping charge.)

Book Review: The Mr. and Mrs. Happy Handbook

A Fair Trade Book

Title: The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook
Author: Steve Doocy
Date: 2006
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0-06-085405-7
Length: 245 pages
Quote: “This is not an advice book per se...because what worked for me...may not work for you. It’s more of a DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME book. We’ve already made almost every conceivable mis­take and can save you the wear and tear of being an idiot yourself.”
Yes, there really are some TV people whose marriage contracts outlast their TV-network contracts. Kathy and Steve Doocy have stayed together while meeting celebrities at NBC and CBS and Fox. From their book, you may not learn how it would be possible for you to live with either (a) a TV person or (b) the person your hormones think they want, but you will definitely get a lot of allegedly true, and hilarious, celebrity gossip.
One anonymous story I know for sure is an urban legend (though urban legends probably have happened somewhere; the fact that it's a legend doesn't mean it's not true). The stories told on Geraldo Rivera, Donald Trump, Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford, Richard Simmons, Dick Cheney, W Bush, Angie Dickinson, Elton John, Paul McCartney, and John Wayne are authorized.
Is this book, like, conservative?” I wouldn’t describe The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook as politically biased, although when people (a) have been married to each other for twenty years and (b) come from a Catholic background, relative to the U.S. mainstream I would have to classify them as reflecting a “conservative” view of marriage. I’ve often suspected that Rupert Murdoch’s attitude toward U.S. politics has consistently been “Which side currently feels under-represented, and is therefore likely to attract the most viewers, and thus the most ad sales, for me?” The celebrity line-up really describes the Doocys’ position. They’ve worked with people who do and don’t identify with any American political party. Their business is friendly, chatty, funny, PG-rated entertainment. A celebrity is a celebrity is a celebrity. The Doocys also tell stories about personal friends who are not celebrities; they don’t use those people’s names.

"Is this book family-friendly?" Well...mostly. Most books about adults contain some things that may confuse children. This one is not explicit but does mention brand names of some products the uses of which children don't need to try to understand.
Anyway, this book is not about how to  vote; it’s about looking back on the most uncomfortable, embarrassing moments in your life and realizing that, if narrated like scenes from TV sitcoms, they’re funny. Catch your spouse monitoring her(his) food intake by counting between bites? Catch yourself haggling over the price of a family funeral? Wreck the neighbors’ lawn while moving into your new house? Report a hornet sting as a snakebite? Develop an unhealthy fear of your own dog when the dog eats the wet part of the baby’s diaper? Help your teenaged daughter spy on her boyfriend? Try to “lighten up” the atmosphere in the hospital waiting room? Is there a better way to live with these memories than to turn them into comedy?
Fair disclosure: I don’t watch enough TV to have recognized the Doocys’ names when I bought their book. I bought it for the purpose of reading something laughter-promoting to a sick patient who hasn’t watched much TV, either, and might or might not recognize Dick Cheney as a celebrity. It worked. After two hours of Mr. & Mrs. Happy, the patient’s endorphin levels rose so high that he even appreciated the comedy potential of his own complaint. Can more than that be said to recommend a funny book?

Price: $5 + $5 shipping, out of which the Doocys or a charity of their choice get $1. Shipping prices are per package and can be consolidated into a total of $5 for as many things as can be shipped in one keep browsing!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tidepool Beret and Pullover

In real life this cotton beret is about the same pale bluish green color I'm seeing on the computer screen. So is the child's sweater that goes with it:

The same yarn was used to knit both pieces, and they were photographed with the same cell phone camera, lying on the same work table, at different times of day. (The sweater looks asymmetrical because it's lying on a slanted table. Actually its sides match.)

Gena Greene knitted this child's set from a pattern by Celeste Pinheiro in Knitter's magazine. The main change she made was using a rather posh, soft Egyptian cotton and not attaching the snap-on stuffed toys that decorated the original sweater...this size is meant to fit a school-aged child, about eight years old, probably not interested in baby stuff.

Price: $30 (both pieces) + $5 shipping (as discussed below, you pay only one shipping fee for as many different things as fit into one package).

Book Review: Silence

Book Review: Silence
Author: Shusaku Endo
Date: 1969 (Japan), 1980 (U.S.)
Publisher: Taplinger (1980)
ISBN: 0-8008-7186-3
Length: 201 pages
Quote: “They bind you in such a way that you can move neither hands nor feet; and then they hang you upside down in a pit.”
During the twentieth century Shusaku Endo was considered Japan’s leading novelist. critics say that his books, though “mainstream” rather than denominational, were “controversial...deeply psy­chological,” depicting “the anguish of faith and the mercy of God.”  In the novel Chinmoku, which translates as Silence, he opened an historical bucket of worms many Buddhists and Christian-phobics would have preferred to keep covered up: the persecution of Christians by nominal Buddhists in Renaissance-era Japan.
During the sixteenth century, Portugal briefly competed with Spain in the rush to colonize South America. Then they backed off...partly because Spain was more aggressive and partly because the Portuguese had made successful contact with Japan. A “civilized," though alien, nation that was eager to trade exotic goods was more interesting to some than the junglas of Brazil. To facilitate business, Portugal even sent a few missionary priests to Japan. At first this mission seemed successful; about 150,000 Japanese converts were reported in 29 years. By 1614, however, the ruling shogun became completely convinced that the goal of the “Kirishitan band” was to  “overthrow true doctrine, so  that they may change the government of the country, and obtain possession of the land.” (This was probably true; while missionaries themselves were sincerely interested in preaching what they call “true doctrine,” they have usually been sponsored by businesses and governments with different priorities.) After twenty years of simple persecution failed to stamp out Christianity in Japan, the ruling class resolved to end the conversions by devising tortures that would force the Portuguese missionaries themselves to denounce Christianity.
In the historical preface to this edition of Silence, translator William Johnston explains that, in historical fact, a priest called Cristovao Ferreira did apostatize while hung upside down in a cesspit. Not much documentation about the rest of his life has survived; his role in Silence is based on one of two somewhat disparate stories. Sebastian Rodrigues, the protagonist of Silence, is a fictional character. Endo based the facts of Rodrigues’ story on the history of a real missionary called Giuseppe Chiara. Chiara officially apostatized under torture, then lived another forty years in Japan, and finally stated before his death that he was still a Christian. In the fictional letters of the fictional Rodrigues, Endo explores what Chiara might have thought he meant by this.
Needless to say, this novel is the sort of serious, intense story older reviewers called “harrowing.” Rodrigues was born in a poor country; he took vows of poverty and celibacy; he travelled halfway around the world on a wooden sailing ship to preach his religion to people who were willing to accept it partly because they were poorer than he. His audience are not the silk-draped aristocrats we can see in paintings, nor the military elite idealized in martial arts clsses. They are ignorant, overtaxed, oppressed, despised dirt farmers. “The Buddhist bonzes treat them like cattle,” Rodrigues fumes, noting by now that the seams of his clothing, too, are “white with lice” after a few days preaching to the crowds who packed into the bare huts of his hosts. To these people the Portuguese had offered a “college,” probably to be understood more as a colegio than as a college within a university system, but still the only place where they could learn to read. As an undercover priest Rodrigues has little to give his flock beyond a modicum of self-respect, a suggestion that some sort of Higher Power might be at all interested in their squalid lives. He gives them this, and feels very humanitarian. And then the torture begins.
Rodrigues, like Chiara, hardly wins the traditional martyr’s crown. By telling Rodrigues’ story in terms like those attributed by eyewitnesses to Chiara, Endo implies some acceptance of Chiara’s position. Rodrigues is a tragic antihero, and yet in Christian terms there remains some hope of spiritual redemption for him. In the end Silence can be read as an affirmation of Christian faith. It does not, however, become a fun read.
Who should read Silence? Ideally, Americans who have been cherishing a delusion that, after the fall of the Roman Empire, Christians were the persecutors rather than the persecuted. Endo graphically presents the historical proof that Buddhist spirituality doesn’t cure the urge to dominate or manipulate others any more reliably than Christianity, or Humanism, or the latest version of “faith in my own lack of faith” that’s going around.
More likely, however, Silence will appeal to readers who want others to know how tough-minded, and/or how multicultural, they are. And to those who get some sense of emotional relief from meditating on the idea that others are a great deal worse off than themselves. Almost everybody in this novel is a great deal worse off than almost any modern English-speaking, or Japanese, reader. At least, anyone not currently dependent on an artificial “respirator” for breath can be considered better off than Rodrigues is at the pivotal point of the novel.
Also, perhaps, those who question just what Christianity can mean in Japan even today. For me, Silence is a book-length discussion of a part of history I might prefer to limit to a paragraph. But it needed to be written; a Japanese man born in 1923 needed to have written it. I salute the courage it took for Endo to write this book, and for his Japanese audience to make it a multilingual success. Read this book if you want to see what a Japanese Christian process of self-examination and penitence looks like. 

In 1969 most of the literary world was still trying to sell the world the idea that the Japanese could be nice, quiet, hardworking people who loved their children, and Endo and his audience were admitting, “No—actually—some of us, sometimes, have been as evil as the English-speaking world wanted to think we were in 1942.” Whatever our ethnic background may be, in order to be nice, quiet, hardworking lovers of children we need to acknowledge and reject our potential for evil.

Shusaku Endo no longer needs the $1 that would be his fair share of the $5 plus $5 shipping for which I can offer this book. Online readers can get a better deal on Amazon. I'm posting about this book here because I've posted reviews for a lot of cheerful and funny books this summer, and although I don't like books that wallow in nastiness I do handle books that aren't cheerful or funny.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: The World Split Open

A Fair Trade Book

Book Title: The World Split Open
Author: Ruth Rosen
Date: 2000
Publisher: Viking Penguin
ISBN: 0-670-81462-8
Length: 444 pages including notes, long bibliography, and index
Illustrations: black-and-white photos
Quote: “[I]n the fall of 1967...I noticed a small card tacked to a bulletin board in the student union: ‘Women’s Liberation Group forming—all are welcome.’ At the time, I was also working as a journalist...‘it could be a great story,’ I thought...I wanted to write a story about the group. They agreed, but insisted that I partici­pate. Two hours later, my world began to turn upside down.”
This is the story of Rosen’s revolution. And what a story it is! As a journalist Rosen met dozens of women whom most of us knew only as  celebrities or pen friends; as an active member of a left-wing “liberation” group she had an inside view, at least secondhand, of the left-wing revolutionaries that inspired the most colorful “revolutionary” feminists. She knew people who could describe the nonverbal communication that allowed them to take Stokely Carmichael’s famous remark about the place of women in the civil rights movement as a joke. She could consult Carolyn Heilbrun, Barbara Ehrenreich, and also Norman Mailer, for help publishing this book.
That’s what you’ll love about The World Split Open. Although Rosen writes as a professional journalist, with limited reference to her firsthand participation in the events she describes, she was either there, or able to interview someone who was there. Her memoirs have a significant place in the history of her generation.
That’s also what’s not to love about her book. Because Rosen got an up-close-and-personal view of the left-wing activities that got so much attention, young readers could be excused for thinking that Rosen saw the whole thing. She didn’t. She was so far out on one wing that she has nothing at all to tell readers about the rest of the bird. She’s done a great job telling the story of left-wing feminism...but the women’s movement would not have accomplished nearly as much as it did if it had been confined to the left wing.
In the fall of 1967 I wasn’t really reading yet. I was exposed first to the other kind of feminism, the quiet kind that was being quietly practiced by women like my mother and her clients. Mother was a beautiful model turned beauty consultant; by 1967 she’d left the big cities, where she’d worked with clients like Tallulah Bankhead, for small towns where she occasionally earned pocket money by trimming old ladies’ hair. Mother smashed stereotypes all over the place. She opted for natural childbirth and literally straight-armed nurses to make sure she got it. She owned her own business and breast-fed me, and later my brother, right in the shop. She had a devoted husband who did housework without being asked. Anybody would have thought feminist leaders would have been flocking to her salons for advice... unless of course they’d studied the psychology of young women.
The problem the left-wing feminists found with Mother wasn’t just that she was over thirty (she settled down late), or even that she lacked faith in Social Security and supported Barry Goldwater. They were used to recruiting moderates into their groups; Richard Nixon was a politician to try Republicans’souls, and Mother never even officially joined the Republican Party. The problem was that being around Mother made left-wing women feel so envious they could hardly see the door.
Granted, there were left-wing women, like Gloria Steinem, who had similar effects on some Republicans. I am not here even talking about women like Beverly LaHaye or Dale Evans Rogers, who said, modestly enough, that in their own relationships they’d worked things out in such a way that their husbands could be described as leaders. I’m talking about the possibility that some of the writing at may be neither fiction nor fantasy. There are indeed women who would have a surgical abortion to destroy a healthy baby if their men told them to. These women are dangerous, both before and after the men who exploit them decide to trade them in for more recent models.
That Ruth Rosen hasn’t researched right-wing women enough to see the differences between Marabel Morgan’s make-concessions-in-order-to-elicit-concessions approach to relationships, Beverly LaHaye’s partnership approach, Phyllis Schlafly’s right-wing feminism (you had to listen to the whole explanation behind “fifty-nine cents is enough”), Midge Decter’s real fear that every other woman is a threat to her home, and the desperation of the Manson Family females, is every reader’s loss. It is, however, the more deplorable because a real feminist journalist, Eleanor Burkitt, had already written a fair-minded, informative, and wide-ranging study of  The Right Women.
The Right Women deserves a review of its own. More than that, it deserves to be required reading for anyone who thinks Ruth Rosen has told even half of the story in The World Split Open (and, if you buy the books from me, it is). Burkitt carefully distinguishes between the different paths to self-affirmation that can be fairly described as right-wing feminism, and the genuine self-hatred, or hatred of other women, that motivates genuinely antifeminist behavior.
It needs to be better understood that, although the left-wing feminists of my childhood tried to tell women like my mother that they were antifeminists, or “part of the problem,” the dictionary definition of “feminist” is anyone who thinks the value of women is at least equal to the value of men. Catholic housewives like Erma Bombeck qualify. Outsiders like Margaret Atwood, whose first successful novel explored the emotional breakdown of a woman who has chosen abortion, whose most successful novel expressed distrust of totalitarian tendencies Left and Right by conflating them into a political cult that mixes Marxist and Christian rhetoric, and who then wrote three blockbusters in a row exploring the evil in the hearts of women, also qualify. Women like my mother, who progressed naturally from a focus on women’s fashion and beauty into a focus on women’s health, also qualify. Women like Linda Thompson, who care more about a very young woman’s right to keep her baby alive than about her “right” to  be pressured into abortion, so much that they’re willing to sacrifice their careers to oppose left-wing totalitarianism, definitely qualify. Women like Helen Chenoweth, who echoed a quip that’s been traced back to Ellen White when she said that she would have preferred to stay home and bake cookies but she had to be in Congress because the right sort of men wouldn’t run, qualify too.
Burkitt went out there and interviewed everybody on the right, from homeschoolers to Young Republicans to female marksmanship instructors. Helen Chenoweth was in her book. Linda Thompson was. Laura Ingraham was. It was an eye-opening experience for Burkitt and I wish Rosen had shared the benefit of it. It would have been pleasant to write something about how, after feminism went mainstream and developed a solid right wing, Rosen lived and learned. But no; while I was reading her book, e-friends out west e-mailed that Rosen was bashing Tea Party women in California with stereotypes that...that...
I confess, Gentle Readers, I was gobsmacked by the stereotype of Tea Party women as “always wearing dresses, never a pantsuit.” I cannot imagine to whom that line would be uttered. Pantsuits were a fashion blunder of Rosen’s and my youth. I wouldn’t expect the younger generation to remember them. They were the men's nylon-and-polyester "leisure suits" of the 1970s in women's sizes. They were dreadful. They were the uniform of young fashion victims in 1970 and of color-blind elderly frumps by 1975, but I’ve not seen one in years. Pantsuits were certainly not what serious feminists wore at work, nor were they chosen either for beauty or for comfort. They existed only as long as the garment industry was forcing all women to choose between miniskirts, jeans, and vintage clothes as alternatives. By the late 1970s the majority of women were going with vintage, and eventually the fashion industry smartened up and heeded our demand for dresses that did offer beauty, comfort, and the option of wearing them at work. For about thirty years, when newspapers report that some fashion designer tried to market a two-piece outfit with separated full-length legs, they’ve had to mention quickly that this was not the dreaded “pantsuit” but a casual "sweatsuit," a really mannish “trouser suit,” or “more of an Indian salwar-kamiz look.” So Rosen was saying that...that she’s not shopped since 1975? I suppose that might be considered a kind of liberation...

(For the record, on the day I received the e-mail containing the "never a pantsuit" comment, I happened to be wearing a cotton salwar-kamiz. I usually wear skirts or dresses to the computer center because I live in a warm climate. My choice of clothes has more to do with the weather, what I'm doing that day, and what's clean in my closet, than with politics or religion.)
And in The World Split Open, Rosen shows that she’s stuck in the one-sided politics of her youth, just as that sound bite showed that she’s stuck in the fashion sense of her youth. Rosen is writing a cultural history of the United States, not a critical study of worldwide English literature; she didn’t have to mention any Canadian novel, however good, but she mentions The Handmaid’s Tale more than once, and she gets it all wrong. The government of the Republic of Gilead is neither Christian nor right-wing. The idea of the “handmaid” is Jewish. The rationale for the enslavement of these women is Marxist. The methods of enslavement consist of destroying printed words (monarchist and/or Marxist) and cutting off access to credit in a cashless economy (the idea's been claimed by an active member of the Communist Party). Although by now the Republic of Gilead seems closer to Omar’s Afghanistan than to anything else, Atwood got her ideas of revolution and resistance from the World War and Amnesty International; she was trying to show how those things might happen in the United States. (See Atwood's prose collection, Writing with Intent.)
Although The Handmaid’s Tale is as foreign as The Second Sex, it ought to have had a tremendous impact on the United States. We should have read The Handmaid’s Tale, thought about it, and said, “We have to stop paving the way for dictatorship. We have to say no to anything that’s ‘cashless’ or ‘paperless.’ We have to be more aware of all the ways we give others excessive power to interfere with our self-determination.” Rosen read The Handmaid’s Tale as a bigot and said, “It’s about a right-wing government.” I’m not sure whether “bothers” is the right word for what this misinterpretation does to Margaret Atwood, because some writers positively enjoy correcting a misinterpretation of something we’ve written, but since Atwood has publicly corrected this particular mistake several times Rosen's comments in The World Split Open are just plain sloppy journalism.
Given that the political lines have to be drawn differently in different countries, any attempt to place any foreigner on the U.S. political spectrum is doomed to err. I think Atwood can fairly be called a liberal, in the best sense. My impression, based on her books, is that she was a leftist in youth but has learned from the historical events of her lifetime. I wish that could also be said for Rosen.
But it can’t. Why, Rosen wails cutely, are women still trying to “juggle” work and family life instead of demanding tax-funded government child care? Many women have settled for day care. Rosen has not, apparently, bothered to talk to the ones who haven’t, or read anything they’ve written. Women and men “juggle” because a child whose home is not abusive would rather be at home than in day care. Rosen can’t seem to imagine the possibility that the doctrine she drank in as a little girl, that if government were only bigger it could do everything for everybody, might not work for actual people. What would happen if one “beneficiary” of a government program told the truth about her or his experience? Rosen’s world would split open again...and I say the sooner the better.
Inexcusably in view of the influence of Marx on her youth, Rosen ignores the actual process of dialectics. When people have adopted a general belief, e.g. the myth that all or most women would want to be “angels in the home,” and the shortcomings of this belief have produced a need for change, the change is always made by two kinds of movement. There’s an extreme reaction, carried out by what I call the heyokas of the movement whose excesses everyone else rejects, and there’s a moderate reaction that usually ends up being adopted because it seems so much more sensible than the extreme reaction. We wishy-washy liberals tend to win.
In the women’s movement of the late twentieth century, the left-wingers who made the headlines were the extremists. The conservative women who stayed in their churches (only they were now recognized as scholars and teachers), stuck with their jobs as nurses and office managers (only they demanded better pay and working conditions), cherished their children (and even demanded less government help, in some cases, by homeschooling), enjoyed male attention (only they used that male attention to teach men how to behave), might have taken more interest in the mating behavior of fish than in that of lesbians (only, for that reason, they weren’t afraid of lesbians), and so on, are the ones whose “movement” has largely succeeded.
Blinkered by her politics, Rosen remembers Sonia Johnson’s clamor for the Equal Rights Amendment, but can’t seem to remember that, while Johnson was getting herself excommunicated from her church, Sandra Day O’Connor was quietly welcomed into the Supreme Court. Rosen remembers the women who complained that they didn’t know how to “juggle” work and family, but merely resents, rather than learning from, the women (like Phyllis Schlafly) who did. Rosen remembers the women who selfishly opposed abortion (for everybody) because they saw children as a means to keep a breadwinner supporting them, but has nothing to say about the ones who opposed abortion (for themselves) because they noticed a positively genocidal pattern in the way abortion was selectively recommended to their ethnic group...or, for that matter, because they were simply afraid of physical injury.
The inevitable result is a one-sided book that’s informative for young readers, nostalgic and illuminating for older readers, as long as Rosen is describing what her friends were doing...but, as a description of what American women were doing, about as accurate as a study of movie-star magazines would have been.
It also polarizes the generations more than necessary. Whether Brittany Doe, daughter of Jane, age 22, felt more sympathy with the Tea Party or the Occupiers, she has to be aware that the twentieth century welfare state was never sustainable and is unlikely to last through her adult life. She has to see the remnants of the Old Left, flapping about like disillusioned Millerites in 1845, observing that Jesus had not returned to this world in the flesh and insisting that He must have done something; in the case of Obama supporters, the insistence is that there has to be a way to tax and spend ourselves out of bankruptcy, there has to, there has to, because people can’t be asked to tighten their belts. If Brittany Doe finds any logical reason (as distinct from blind faith) to support this idea, her reason must be that she doesn’t expect to live long in any case and she jolly well wants to grab her share now. Then there’s the New Left, hugging trees for camouflage; their plan of saving, then ruling, the world by thinning the human population might in fact work, apart from the minor problem that people who had done it wouldn’t be quite human. If Brittany has any hope for the future at all, it’s closer to the Old Right than to the Old Left. Do we really want to teach Brittany a view of the women’s movement that she is bound to identify with the oppressors of her generation? Shouldn’t her first full-length survey of the movement be written from a centrist position that recognizes the contributions of both the left-wing heyoka celebrities and the quiet, easily forgotten women whose “modest, conservative” moves actually got somewhere?
Ideally, of course, Brittany would read The World Split Open for Rosen’s account of the outrages that used to be normal, the separate columns for “Help Wanted, Male” (career jobs) and “Help Wanted, Female” (clerical, babysitting, and food service jobs), the jobs that weren’t recognized as part of the sex industry but were available only to women with the right body measurements, the teachers who blithely assured students that girls were supposed to be “beautiful and dumb.” (Yes, Brittany, all those things used to be true, and also young girls used to be blamed for “getting themselves raped” since they must have done something to “inflame the poor fool’s lust.” I was seriously told, as late as 1980, not to train for a career job because in spite of all present facts I was likely to become an attractive woman, like my mother, and should stay indoors and not inflame men's lust.) Brittany would wonder why women who remember those abominations, and more, would ever have bogged down in special-interest issues like abortion, homosexuality, or "goddess spirituality." She might wonder whether the touching faith women like Rosen placed in a Nanny State had something to do with their generation’s unequal access to education. And then she’d talk about it with Jane Doe. And to her list of celebrity extremists she could add the names of the women who’d done most to liberate her, personally, which is always a pleasant exercise, and would also show Brittany the difference between the heyokas and the real movers in the movement.
We don’t live in an ideal world, so I’ll wrap up this long rant by recommending that everyone who reads The World Split Open read The Right Women—preferably, read The Right Women first. When you can read it in its complete historical context, The World Split Open is a valuable book and a good read.

The World Split Open is available as a Fair Trade Book package together with The Right Women. The package costs $10 plus $5 shipping (other books may be added to the actual package to reduce shipping costs), and out of this Rosen and Burkitt, or charities of their choice, will receive $1 each.