Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Exemplary Churchmanship of Robert E. Lee

People were batting this topic around on Twitter. "Far from being kind and heroic, General Lee was regarded as an especially brutal slaveholder even by other slaveholders!"

Say whaaat? I said, as I hope any Virginian, however young, would still say. We all know that, while making military service a career at all is morally questionable, and transferring from the U.S. to the Confederate army was imprudent, and even if we concede that it was ethically right to fight in defense of Virginia, the way Lee sacrificed the other two-thirds of Virginia to his own corner is debatable. At best the General is remembered for having made a bad decision based on emotion, and stood by it, and played out the role he'd chosen with admirable fortitude and integrity. But apart from that, we all learned at school, the worst accusation Lee's enemies could make about his character was that as a church member he made a wisecrack about a church controversy that came to sound like a dirty joke. It was a joke about church matters, which was bad enough in those days, but it wasn't dirty at the time. Even before The War, General Lee was part of Virginia's peculiarly blessed and peculiarly awkward landed-poor class, which is why that detail was considered worth notice: the landed poor must never act trashy, as in cracking a dirty joke about a church controversy.

In reply, a Northern apologist shared this link. Read it, fellow Virginians. Though the author is obviously playing picador, read his charges and see if you agree with me on what makes this article credible...and appalling:


What's new about Adam Serwer's perspective is that he seems to imagine that these accusations are as new to everyone else as they seem to be to some Yankee readers. They're not new. Recent biographies have tried to skim lightly over this type of thing...


In fact, if you've read any substantial amount of nineteenth century American history this discussion of Lee as slaveholder seems a bit like a pious vegan emoting over the details about how "...they not only drank milk, but they ate beef! And some of them even ate...HAM!"

General Lee was not regarded as especially brutal by very many other slaveholders, nor were his views on the benefits of being enslaved to Christians peculiar to slaveholders, to the few who still argued in favor of slavery by 1850, or to White people. (Slavery itself was legal in Africa, and many enslaved people went quietly and even tried to do good work--as long as they believed they would be able to earn their freedom and come home with money, perhaps with wives/husbands and children, and other benefits legal slavery had had in almost every country except the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.)

In claiming that slavery was doing slaveholders more harm (economically) than slaves, Lee was singing along with a considerable choir. Pro-slavery arguments like John C. Calhoun's came from a different generation; General Lee's generation had lived to see just how mistaken Vice-President Calhoun's views had been.

In being wary of slaves' family ties, and breaking up families, Lee might have been less humane than some of his friends but was thereby in the mainstream of his culture.

And when slaves tried to escape, terrorism is the only word for what became standard U.S. practice. Merely tearing off the slave's shirt (he or she might or might not have another shirt that year) and ordering the biggest, meanest man who could be found to take a whip and "lay it on" was normal; washing the crushed, bleeding wounds with salt brine or alcohol was a semi-humane touch a really brutal slaveholder would have withheld; leaving the wounds to be nibbled by vermin, and the slave to die of infections, was one of the tortures the cruel slaveholders were allowed to use. There were others. Those who pressed the matter found that in some times and places there was no actual law against killing a slave outright. In fact there was an unofficial incentive, as the number of slaves exceeded the number of jobs slaves could be trusted to do.

The practice of slavery was the subject of many books in the early nineteenth century. Most went out of print because the best of these books are disgusting to read. Here's one that fits well into the totalitarian undercurrent that's always been rejected by most Americans, but has run through royalism, capital-C Communism, fascism, and modern big-government philosophy ("statism" or socialism):


Or consider this testimony from a genteel Southern Lady, showing the extent to which she was able to avoid seeing things considered too disgusting for her to bear:


I've found others, while browsing in academic libraries; at the time I felt no desire to buy the books or note the references. You can probably find plenty of material about the "patrollers" and "passes" and regulation of slave churches and so on, if you go to a university library and browse the history section for this period. It won't be fun reading. The simple fact was that slavery as practiced in the United States served the Highest Good of very few people (although Phillis Wheatley may have been one) and didn't even serve the selfish short-term interests of many people. It was foul and filthy and not even profitable. The scramble to fix slavery was not unlike the current scramble to fix Obamacare. "This whole issue is ethically unacceptable if you insist on thinking about it, but since thinking about it would cost me money, let's try not to think about the ethics but just try to save the part that seems to work, in some short-term way, for me!"

So, yes: General Lee was a respectable gentleman you would probably have admired, trusted, even liked if you'd known him personally, and he also did things that turn your stomach, because those were things respectable gentlemen did back then. And if you or I had lived at that time, those things would have been part of our definition of "normal." If we'd been lower-class Whites we would have admired the courtesy of landed-poor-perceived-as-rich Whites whose contempt for us was at least refined enough to be considered subtle, and if we'd been Black we would probably have agreed that runaway slaves could expect a good whipping and ought to be grateful to have their wounds excoriated with salt (which reduced the risk of death from infection); and if we'd been rich Whites we would probably have tsk-tsked about what a pity it was that such a fine couple as the Lees were so much less wealthy than most of their social peer group, and if we'd been in the landed poor class we would probably have agreed that, whatever else they did, the Lees were a good role model for the rest of us. Those were things normal human beings did back then.

I wonder which of the normal everyday things we do will seem barbaric and indefensible to the sixth generation after us, if humanity survives for so long?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Status Update: Those. Days.

A young person, not one of my Nephews, is having One of Those Days today.

I am too. We still don't know whether it's a reaction to continual glyphosate exposure in the area, as the road workers seem hellbent on using up all of their existing supply on Scott County for the express purpose of killing me, or a virus going around. Suffice it to say the teenager's whole family were draggy all week, the teenager's cat is in the veterinary hospital as well, the teenager has been having relapses of mononucleosis for some time but recently started fainting and vomiting, and the teenager's doctor wants to run some special expensive tests nobody can afford...and me?

I woke up this morning feeling draggy. Well, it was a dark dreary morning, hardly daylight by 8:15 when the car pool came by. It was raining.

I was still working on a document on the pathetic little old laptop I call the Sickly Snail. It used to have Microsoft Office, but due to "updates" it no longer has enough memory to run Office, so it runs something called OpenOffice.org. You do not want Open Office on your computer. For one thing it takes a lot of time and trouble to get your documents to look proper, the way they do in Word. For another thing, after you've gone to that time and trouble, the company manages to send out little "updates"--even when you're not online--that restore the settings that make your nice printable documents look like e-mail or something, all over again.

Remember those old 1980s jokes about a Cursor being someone whose computer is full of Bugs, and Boot being what a Cursor is likely to do on finding a Bug in the system, and Windows are what you hope the Cursor does not Boot the computer through...?

Open Office is free to download, but it attacks you with these horrible updates that force you to turn off the automatic "correction" of people's names into words that look a bit like them, and turn on the correction of "straight quotes," and restore Times Roman as the default font, and all of those things, all over again, and over, and over. Sometimes as it might be just before breakfast, when you were close to having a document ready to upload and post.

And what the BLINKING BLEEP is making it even possible for this attack to take place when the computer is miles away from a modem or a wireless connection? Who is spying on my little Snail? 

We need FCC protection from this kind of thing. I don't have the Internet in my home. I don't even have a land phone in my home. No "smart" device that connects to the Internet should be able to start in my home. My home is being violated! Whoever is connecting to the Snail, I suspect the telephone company, should have to snip up every wire, smash everything with a microchip in it, have their electrical wires yanked out of the walls, have wherever they are permanently disconnected from so much as an electric light bulb for the rest of their lives, and have to pay me a couple million dollars for SPYING AND HARASSMENT!

Also OpenOffice.org should be required to guarantee that, if allowed to "update" the security codes for their software, they must do so without changing any of The Owner's settings. All computer owners' names, as far as they're concerned, are The Owner, and when The Owner is using the computer they must not touch it, and if The Owner allows it to connect to the Internet OpenOffice can send its "updates" programmed to self-install after the computer is turned off, but one little tweak to The Owner's settings should cost OpenOffice.org serious money for wasting The Owner's times. Open a new document, see ragged right-hand margins, collect $500!

Anyway I was in the process of cleaning up this nasty mess OpenOffice somehow managed to dump on the poor li'l Snail when the car pool arrived, and I grabbed a dress out of the closet, and it had lost a crucial button in the wash, so instead of looking for another outfit in the closet I just threw on what I'd yanked off last night, and the car pool were grumpy too. Probably having the same reaction I was. And if anybody imagines I wore this dress overnight at some man's house, they should pity that man, whoever they imagine him to be.

For a monogamous middle-aged lady whose Significant Other has become "old" due to Lyme Disease, and who can hardly wait to see how much "youth" he recovers when we get glyphosate banned, I do seem to figure in a lot of local baby-boomers' fantasies about what they think they'd do if they still had black hair and straight backs. Some of them have pretty weird fantasies, too.

So then I opened my e-mail and got some bad news, and halfway through reading it had to bolt to the bathroom with celiac sprue. By this time my coffee had cooled down enough to be sipped. Maybe caffeine would give me a little energy. It did give my body a little energy. What my body did with that energy was to start to feel feverish.

Earlier this morning I'd been working on the long-promised post about how the Democrats are preparing to throw this election away, by failing to have any real platform except WE HATE TRUMP AND ALL OTHER REPUBLICANS BECAUSE THEY ARE NASTY PEOPLE, which is just the thing to tell a bipartisan swing voter to be sure to vote for any and all Republicans within range. Some R's are nasty people, but it's not as if some D's weren't...oh why even go there?

I am not "red," although some other people at this web site are. I am not "blue." My party color, if I had one, would be green--True Green, not Poison Green, which unfortunately describes the leaders of the so-called Green Party. Humans are political animals but our whole polis is sick these days.

I needed to turn off these uncheering thoughts and get on with a paid post about a business that has an odd, misleading name. I looked at their web page. I could not think of anything to say about them. I kept thinking about how the D's have become the party of violent haters these days, while the party of a Bankruptcy Billionnaire who has never been even "red," but always orange...

Why, I thought, shuffling back to the bathroom for another round of celiac sprue, which is mostly messy and embarrassing but not exactly painless either...why was I born? Why do I live? When do I get to die? The sooner the better. I feel too tired to live...

Rational adults don't entertain thoughts like that for very long, but we do have them. We have just lived long enough to recognize them as what they are, which is symptoms. If persistent they might be diagnosed as a mental illness. They are more or less typical of mononucleosis, which most adults have had. They go with the soreness in the not yet swollen nodes I'm also feeling right now.

Yes, young people, adults do have Those Days.

Some days are diamond, John Denver sang, and some days are stone, and some days are just plain raw sewage and there's no doing anything about it.

I do not want to join the simpering chorus of morons telling you to paste on a fake smile, on days like this. I recommend, if you do feel a fake smile coming on, on a day like this, that you slap your face good and hard and admit: "No, I'm not 'fine.' I may be coming down with something. Stay away from me."

I also recommend that, as a point of legal policy, our society should offer no redress for anybody who is stupid enough not to hear that and immediately back away, saying, "Sorry I bothered you hope you feel better soon" as they back. You don't have the energy to do anything violent, but you should have a perfect legal right to spit in their faces, call them formerly unprintable names, and wish them a fatal case of whatever you've got, if you feel like that.

The good news is that after living through a certain number of this kind of days and learning that they do pass, we do learn to stop taking them seriously. They're symptoms. They're part of an immune system overreaction that goes with mononucleosis. When you know this you do develop an ability to laugh at this 0kind of mood.

Laughing helps it dry out and blow away faster.

So, if the teenager with mono sees me laughing today...no, Junior, I'm not laughing at you. I'm laughing at mono, which I had off and on for most of two years, which was less bad than some of the Michigan Group of ME/EBV/CFS/ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOP or whatever people wanted to call the kind of mononucleosis-aggravated-by-hepatitis we got from a certain batch of MMR vaccine while in Michigan. It was definitely more unpleasant than measles, mumps, and rubella together. It was good, or bad, for many of Those Days.

Eventually you do build up some immunity and feel normal and chipper again, most of the time. Years go by in between reruns of Those Days and, when you do come to one, you laugh.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Congratulations, Walter Block

While the cover of his infamous 1976 book was enough to convince me that Professor Walter Block has tried to defend the undefendable...Check it out: Amazon's actually refusing to show the original cover, with the subtitle, which contained a four-letter word for a very disgusting category of humans.


...Nevertheless, his successful career proves that letting people hate you is not necessarily a bad thing for a writer. Thanks to Tom Woods for sharing this update.

Walter Block, the prolific libertarian theorist, Austrian economist, and professor at Loyola University New Orleans, reached an unbelievable milestone the other day: 100 peer-reviewed articles published that he co-authored with his undergraduate students.

Now 100 peer-reviewed articles is four times as many as most Loyola professors can boast in their entire careers, much less just with students.

No other professor has come close to matching this feat. I don't think any other professor has even tried.

This is amazing, right? The university must be so proud! Where else can parents find a professor so committed to his students' long-term success?


So far, not a peep from Loyola University.

This, no doubt, is because Walter is a "sexist" for not believing in the gender wage gap, and because he "supports slavery" (yes, people really are this dumb) because the New York Times took him out of context.

Can you imagine Walter, who actually favors reparations for slavery, "supporting slavery"? His point was that the objectionable part about slavery was the coercive aspect, and that everything else was incidental. The Times, which wanted to make Rand Paul (whose family has long known Walter) look bad, twisted this to make it sound as if Walter was saying that some aspects of slavery might be nice.

A decent human being running Loyola University would have admonished the Times for its libelous reporting and defended his extremely accomplished and widely published professor. But that's only for leftists. Anyone who isn't p.c. will be abandoned at the first opportunity, and sternly lectured for views everyone on Earth knows he doesn't hold and would never hold.

Meanwhile, lots of Loyola students refuse to take Walter's classes because of the buzzwords: why, we've heard he's a "racist" and a "sexist"!

Here's a guy who gets articles published for them in academic journals, who cares more about them than any professor they'll ever meet, and who even got some articles published that he disagreed with!

He is, in short, the model professor.

It is shameful how he has been treated.

Now Walter doesn't have his own podcast, but he does have friends -- lots of them. And some of those friends, like me, have podcasts. And you'd better believe I used my podcast to get the word out about Walter's amazing milestone. Libertarian blogs all over the place are doing likewise.

I don't do this often but, having ganked his fun facts, I'll share TW's business link:


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Two Cats in Search of Good Homes

The official post about these cats ought to include their photos, but you know how it is with me and the cheesy little cell phone that takes only blurry pictures at best. Anyway, here is the photo-free Take 1 of the official post about two precious pet cats who need new homes...within a reasonable distance from Gate City, Virginia. Cat Sanctuaries don't put information about cat adopters online, but we would like a follow-up visit:

1. Rue

Possibly eleven years old, Rue is a long, lean, lithe gray tabby with a pretty face. Her only sign of "slowing down" is that she seems to be trying to tell her humans she's ready to retire from being Queen of a Cat Sanctuary where she's been gently managing a colony of eighteen social and semi-social felines. If you visit, Rue will be outdoors watching for you, and if you hold out your arms, she'll leap into them and sniff at you as if to say "By any chance, could you offer me a place to be alone?"

"She likes you," her humans say to me. "Would you take her?"

I would not. I think she wants a lap of her very own to nap on. I suspect her of thinking she could nonviolently bully Samantha and Serena, both of whom are smaller, into running away, and I'll not have that.

2. Midnight Rose

This spring kitten's human died recently, so, in search of new humans and a cat friend, she staked her claim to the senior housing project, where of course she's not allowed to stay. Project residents enjoy watching her and keep stalling the manager and me along: "We'll send her to the Cat Sanctuary as soon as we can borrow a carrying cage!"

I think she may be a social cat, because she continues to lure a one-year-old male cat away from a private home in the next block, even while off heat. Only social cats bother with that sort of thing.

With humans, she's friendly but cautious. We think she'd accept most of the residents of the housing project as Her Human since Her Original Human was also pretty old...but you know how places like that are.

Her coat is midnight black with one little rosette, not a bib, right below where a collar would fit.

Bonus. Her Friend

"Would you take the male kitten too?" I was asked.

"A male who's bigger and older than our little Traveller?" I said. "Does His Human even want to part with him?"

"She's trying to keep him at her house, but he won't stay. He's going to get killed crossing the main street all the time."

"Have you told her about the neutering clinic that's set up to keep town cats from running through traffic?" I said. We have such a thing. I'm not sure what purpose a neutered male cat serves in this world, since most male cats are poor hunters and...well, anyway, a social male cat is special, and if this little fellow is the one who's persuading Midnight Rose that other cats can be friends, it would make sense for His Human to want to keep him in her home.

Him and a few more cats, because although lonely social cats are fabulous pets, a human is not the same as a friend of their own kind! A social cat whose human goes to work every day most definitely needs at least one congenial cat housemate. There were a few days when I had to leave Magic alone, indoors, while I was at work, and as I walked up onto the porch I'd hear her crying like a baby human. I'm not sure whether even Heather really meant to tell me that the way to live with social cats is "by sixes," but, considering that they miss and mourn one cat friend longer if they don't have others, I would recommend keeping three.

I dislike the Bristol shelter's web site. "The severe cat overpopulation problem in Scott County"? There is no such thing. We have a severe rodent overpopulation problem in Scott County due to lack of free-range cats--though they don't need to be ranging back and forth across Jackson Street in the daytime. We need to defund organizations like this one until they stop parroting HSUS cat haters' propaganda and make contact with reality. Nevertheless, if you need to keep a town cat from running through traffic while you're out at work, this group is siphoning money away from rich urban cat haters and might as well be exploited:


Neutering male cats is usually simpler and less likely to do permanent damage than spaying females.

All social cats are extraordinary. https://www.paypal.me/PriscillaKingUS/10

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Dear Wal-Mart...

Dear Wal-Mart,

On the way home from work I met Jane Doe, who had to go to Wal-Mart anyway, so I rode along. Each of us went into the store and bought a few things. On the way out, Jane Doe asked, joking, “Did you have a good time?”

It occurred to me that your company headquarters needs to know exactly what sort of time I had.

I am a celiac, unlike the hordes of non-celiacs who suddenly discovered, about ten years ago, that they too felt better when they “went gluten-free.” But only for a short time.

I grew up feeling draggy and sluggish all the time, with no resistance to infections. When I developed "celiac sprue" at thirty, I felt free to marry an older man, being convinced I had less time to live than he had. Though I felt better immediately after going gluten-free, only around age thirty-nine did I start to believe I’d ever reach age forty.

However, after going gluten-free, I became a healthy person. My example convinced relatives that they too could become healthy people. Mother became active in a celiac support group. It seemed strange that the incidence of celiac disease in our neighborhood was so much higher than it was in Ireland, but it’s fairly easy to eat a healthy diet without wheat, rye, or barley. For about fifteen years we all enjoyed normal health, which no celiac ever takes for granted.

Then, in 2014, I started having celiac reactions to corn. Then to rice. Then to all sorts of things that didn’t even contain grain. I’ve had celiac reactions to beans, to potatoes, to tomatoes, to coffee, to strawberries, even to orange juice, during the last few years.

Celiacs network on the Internet these days. I learned that celiac reactions to corn and rice didn’t mean that we’d become unable to digest natural corn or rice, but that corn and rice were being genetically modified to make them more like wheat. I learned that, because “gluten-free food” often contained GMO alternative grain, “gluten-free” pastries were not only likely to taste unexciting but also likely to make me sick. By 2015 food producers were assuring us that GMO rice was not being used in the United States, but that any and all food these days was likely to contain “pesticide residues.”

Aha! From that point, it wasn’t hard to identify a specific “pesticide” that had always been known to trigger celiac reactions—namely, glyphosate, the main ingredient in “Roundup” and some other “herbicides.”

These products are not merely “herbicides.” They do not kill only plants. You can tell when someone has sprayed “Roundup” in his garden by the dead birds, dead insects, sick cats and dogs, and conspicuously sick humans in the vicinity. 

Make no mistake: Glyphosate in any significant amount is toxic to all living creatures. Toxicity increases with exposure. However, statistical studies have consistently failed to prove a correlation between glyphosate exposure and one specific kind of reaction, because, across species, individual reactions vary, depending partly on the individuals’ genetic heritage. 

(Here is the post where I linked to about a dozen very formal and heavily vetted statistical studies; if the links don't work for you, e-mail me for copies of the PDFs.

True celiac disease is produced by a “strong form” of a genetic pattern that’s rare in Ireland and virtually unknown anywhere else. A “weak form” of the celiac pattern is fairly common in western Europe but rare elsewhere. People who feel better when they “go gluten-free” are usually in this group of White people who thrived on a wheat-based diet before glyphosate started to build up in the environment. Their sensitivity to natural wheat, itself, is mild but their sensitivity to glyphosate-poisoned wheat can be disabling.

Some humans who have been directly exposed to glyphosate claim that the worst effect they noticed was a bitter taste. (That’s debatable, because some people have mental and emotional reactions, obvious to others, that they are not able to recognize in themselves...mood swings, narcolepsy, vertigo, anxiety attacks, rage attacks, learning disorders...There’s a strong correlation between glyphosate exposure and autism.)

Other people who have been directly exposed to glyphosate have been hospitalized with intense, immediate reactions that included anaphylactic shock, skin damage, bleeding, loss of consciousness, and paralysis. One patient was paralyzed for 39 days. Across species, genes determine whether humans or animals initially react to glyphosate with no noticeable reaction (a substantial minority in all species studied), immune reactions like hayfever, enteric reactions like diarrhea, kidney reactions like narcolepsy, or death. Mental/emotional reactions are easily identified only in humans, but pet lovers have seen “the look on Fluffy’s face” too.

People who use glyphosate find it very convenient to be able to produce more grain with less weeding and cultivating. They can be unreasonable even when it’s pointed out to them that they are the ones who “sleep” (black out) all day after spraying the garden, or have disabling vertigo or uncontrollable diarrhea or setbacks in physical therapy. They want to believe that they are “older” than they were the day before, or that, since a lot of people had hayfever on the day when this poison was sprayed, “a cold is going around,” or that they’re “allergic to” some sort of flower that had been blooming all week with no effect on them.

We’re talking about people who would never dream of recklessly endangering their neighbors by letting a four-year-old drive a car, or yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre. Because they are not the kind of people who recklessly endanger others in the usual ways, they don’t want to admit that they are recklessly endangering their neighbors by spraying “pesticides.”

We’ve allowed manufacturers, notably Monsanto, to defend the use of this poison on the sole grounds that, although it causes painful reactions in a majority of living creatures of any species, in all species studied those reactions vary. In the case of glyphosate, appealing to statistical studies of specific disease conditions is like arguing that, if a man shoots one victim, strangles another, stabs another in the back, and cuts another’s head off, he’s not a serial murderer.

What’s happened since 2014 is that the Monsanto Corporation urged farmers to explore new uses for their “safe” product, “Roundup,” which had not been linked to any consistent statistical increase in any single specific reaction. They could use glyphosate to “ripen” crops in the field, or even to “preserve” crops before trucking them to market—even crops like tomatoes, strawberries, and apples, which are normally not even peeled before they are eaten. As a result most of the plant-based food in the U.S. food supply is tainted with enough glyphosate to induce celiac sprue in anyone who has the celiac gene.

As a result, for me, pushing a shopping cart through Wal-Mart involves a thought process like this one:

“Start at the back wall of the grocery section, with beverages. How ridiculous is it that because high-fructose corn syrup is so denatured by extensive processing, soda pop doesn’t make me sick? Ridiculous but true. I like the taste of real orange juice, and I love strawberries, but until we get glyphosate out of the food supply I have to make do with soda pop.

Snack aisle. Since complaining about one batch of Planters peanuts in 2017 I’ve had no further trouble with subsequent batches, but of course, as long as Planters’ parent company won’t even label the tainted and/or genetically modified products, I have to be careful about peanuts. Planters said nothing about other nut and seed products. I like sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds, but I don’t dare try those until we get glyphosate banned.

Dairy section. Yuck. Glyphosate builds up in milk faster than it does in meat, and at my age I probably don’t digest milk efficiently in any case. Cheese, I never have been able to digest. Eggs are good in baked dishes but I’ve never liked them all by themselves.

Baking supplies. Don’t even go there any more. I used to love to bake. Baking was a bonding activity I shared with my mother, who is not ‘old’ now, being only 83, but who is unlikely to recover from the obviously glyphosate-related resurgence of her celiac symptoms since age 80. Gluten-free baking was a new adventure in a mutual hobby. Probably we’ll never do it again.

Cereals. Forget about it. The companies have worked hard to make Chex and Cheerios gluten-free, but as long as they’re in denial about glyphosate being more harmful to more cereal eaters than gluten is, I might as well eat ‘D-Con, the Exterminator in a Box’ as eat Chex or Cheerios. I used to like Chex and Cheerios.

Canned fruit and vegetables. Don’t go there any more. About the only brand that still seems to be safe, for now, is that Mexican brand of canned beans that’s cheaper at the Dollar Store. Of course, being Mexican, they’re probably loaded with all sorts of other toxins and carcinogens that affect me more slowly anyway. I am so much luckier than most Irish-American celiacs because, when I crave applesauce or pineapples, at least I can go out and look for wild persimmons.

Rice and beans. So many flavors used to work for me, and I miss them, but I can’t use them. Other flavors are new and I’d like to try them, but I don’t dare. Since I wrote to the company Zatarain’s has been careful about using un-poisoned rice...but no beans, and no tomatoes.

Pasta and sauce. Forget about it. They have all those gluten-free pastas these days, and all of them are probably poisonous to me. In any case, if the rice-based pasta were safe, the tomato sauce wouldn’t be, any more.

Frozen foods. Mostly tainted. Frozen veg used to be mostly safe but are now mostly poisoned. Ice cream, likewise.

Meat cooler. Stock up on meat. I don’t actually crave meat as often as the cats do, although sharing meat with the cats is a bonding experience for them. However, meat,  Planters peanuts, Zatarain’s rice, M&M’s, and soda pop are just about the only things in this super-size 24-7 grocery store I can eat now. At least I can eat the unsprayed raw ‘weeds’ like fresh dandelions out of my garden at home. Many cannot.

Produce. Try to rush around the whole produce section, but a whiff of fresh tomatoes grabs at my memories. I loved tomatoes. I like cucumbers. I like onions and bell peppers and sweetpotatoes and broccoli and spinach, raw spinach right out of the bag like chips, and leaf lettuce and radishes and jicama and corn on the cob and turnips. I miss vegetables so much right now, I could positively relish zucchini! But no, no, no, no vegetables unless I know for sure that the farmer didn’t spray poison on them right before sending them to the store.

That will bring us to the checkout counter, and if I can’t resist the M&M’s in the checkout line, how could I resist them when there’s so little else in this store that I dare to eat, and I can’t really trust even what I’ve bought? Not one thing in this grocery cart can be considered health food, but everything else in this store is positively poisonous.”

I went to Wal-Mart to get a week’s groceries. In 2013 that would have meant spending about $50 and taking home sacks of fruit and veg as well as cheap, heavily processed chicken, peanuts, rice, plus candy and soda pop. Today I brought in $90, but spent less than $15 for one bag of junkfood. If I look more than five years older than I did in 2013, I wonder why that might be...Not!

You can do so much better than this, Wal-Mart. Big corporations have a lot of power to do good as well as harm. Wal-Mart is such a large share of the market that Wal-Mart could singlehandedly restore food sanity to the United States with one easy step:


That would be gluten-free and GMO-free and glyphosate-free. (Food naturally made from wheat, like flour and sandwich bread, doesn’t have to be gluten-free since celiacs know it’s wheat-based and can avoid it, and since natural wheat gluten is a good source of healthy protein for most of humankind.) Stock natural wheat products on a separate shelf from corn and rice products. You could even stock GMO products provided that the farmers and manufacturers were proud to label them, as it might be “Made with BT corn, which is glyphosate-free and is chemically more like a disease germ than like wheat.” (BT corn made some people sick, but not nearly as many as glyphosate-marinated E. Coli corn.) Let farmers know that, if any trace of glyphosate is detected in food products, they’ll never sell food to Wal-Mart again.

Require farmers to accept the fact that glyphosate is more toxic to more people than either GMO foods, as such, or natural wheat gluten.

By purging glyphosate-tainted food from its shelves, Wal-Mart could force other stores to stop selling glyphosate-tainted food, as the word would get around...

“Food Lion had a better price on tomato sauce last week, but when I used their tomato sauce one child threw up, the other child misbehaved at school, my husband yelled at me, and I had a migraine. I’ll stick with Wal-Mart’s tomato sauce.”

“I told the housekeeper I’d rather support the local supermarket, but I will admit I’ve felt better since she’s been buying groceries at Wal-Mart.”

Of course nobody’s saying that now. Actually I’ve had more celiac reactions to gluten-free food Wal-Mart sells than to gluten-free food Price-Less sells. (Food Lion is the worst. Since about 2014, if I’ve bought food at Food Lion and not had a celiac reaction, that’s been because a salmonella reaction purged it out of my system first.) But people could be saying that food they bought from Wal-Mart was healthier than food, even from the same brands, they bought from other stores, if Wal-Mart would go Three-Gee-Free.

I’ve noticed a funny thing, Wal-Mart, about the food items that have been discontinued for lack of sales in recent years. I have tried a few new food products, and the ones that haven’t survived on the market have been the ones that made me sick. I've seen even Necco Wafers, a staple junkfood from the 1860s, vanish from Dollar Stores--because they're made mostly of sugar and cornstarch, and these days, most sugar and cornstarch contain enough glyphosate to make me sick. Most people don’t have an obvious immediate reaction to food with high levels of glyphosate in it, and don’t recognize it as having made them ill if they even realize they were ill...but they don’t like the products and don’t buy more of them.

If you want to help people be healthier, Wal-Mart, forget about obviously greed-driven ideas like “We’ll help people drink less soda pop by doubling the prices on the advertised brands, switching from sturdy 24-ounce bottles or stubby little 16-ounce bottles to terribly cute tall-and-skinny 16.9-ounce bottles that tip over so easily people won’t allow them in their houses, and maintaining a reasonable price only on our in-house brands.” We all understand why Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi-Cola want to raise the price of a bottle of Coke or Pepsi, and we all know that that has nothing to do with our health. Inflating prices on soda pop or on anything else does not promote the perception that Wal-Mart's owners care about people's health.

Going glyphosate-free would actually improve people’s health, and attract them to Wal-Mart in a healthy way that would make people like Wal-Mart.

Farmers will wail and howl, and food processors will probably lie on the floor kicking and hold their breath till they turn blue, when told they need to burn their poisoned “food” now...but you could allow them to ease back into the market next year by grandfathering in food containing substantially decreased traces of accurately labelled, naturally decomposing glyphosate residues, on condition that they pledged to stop using any kind of "cides" on or near any food crop, ever again.

It’d be a total win-win for Wal-Mart just to let Kraft and Nestle turn blue, work with farmers, and send the huge agro-businesses a clear message: They’re going to have to get on board, or let smaller farmers leave them behind. They cannot be allowed to continue recklessly endangering people’s lives.