Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Web Log for 6.5.23

There's no link log for the fourth of June because it was the kind of day nature clearly intended us to spend gardening, not computer-ing. The Internet can always wait. I started collecting these links shortly after midnight.


Blowing away some widespread clouds of confusion (click to enlarge the image): 

They're not saying that 51% of Americans identify as Democrats. They're saying that 51% of Americans who identify as members of minority groups that "need" special protection also identify as Ds. 


Formal study quantifies something we knew ten years ago:


As mentioned before, I think USPIRG's war on plastic is a safe, fluffy issue to let students doing their first grown-up jobs discuss with strangers. They're not making a dent in plastic use, and wouldn't make much of a dent if they did motivate some sub-segment of some industry to go back to using paper, glass, or metal. We're stuck with plastic for better or worse. And we wanted biodegradable plastic, so is it news that biodegradable plastic tends to, like, biodegrade? 

But there may be hope for a world where the only way the surplus population can have all the stuff we think we need is for most of that stuff to be made of plastic. 

Fair disclosure: I've not looked up the substantial information...yet. I will be looking. For now, I'll just say that the meme is Out There, and it has plausibility because you see these things sprouting where ashes that include burnt plastic have been dumped. 


So far, this essay on what constitutes truly daring art has attracted at least two subversive, transgressive poems in the comments. 


This is cruel, but true...

Obviously, Democratic Party membership does not cause the pattern of insanity that produces homicide/suicide. Drugs do...some street drugs that have passed through the "experimental" period and now appeal only to the suicidally stupid, and some prescription medications that are still given to bored kids and women who don't get enough exercise. People whose minds are in that sort of place tend not to fit in with the N.R.A. So there we are. 


This is good news; we need something similar in Virginia.



Not mine, but if you use these links the Save The Butterflies campaign gets more money:

Book Review: Maladaptive

Title: Maladaptive 

Author: JD Edwin

Date: 2021

Publisher: Story Cartel Press

Length: 220 e-pages

Quote: "I walk out of every movie theater already rewriting the film I’d just watched in my mind.' 

What if Yoda was a spy for the Empire? What if 1984 ended with Winston saying "Bleep have I left to live for, anyway?"? What if Rhett Butler got as far as the front hallway before running back screaming "Wait! I take it back!" That's one way to find plots for stories. Some plots work better when tweaked; some are just different; some fall apart. 

J.D. Edwin plays with plots. What if superheroes are real, but they're not conscious of how they morph from their mundane identities into their superhero or supervillain selves? What if an autistic child's limited understanding of a few crucial words could save the world? What if the sweet girl working the concession stand really were a sweet rather than a real girl? Maladaptive is a set of answers to this kind of questions.

It has recurring themes. There's a circus that has redeeming social value. There are Grim Reapers, apparently different ones. There are people with superpowers, and people trapped in strange games, and characters who use numbers for names, although none of those stories seems to take place in the world of Headspace

This book is the work of someone who makes up lots and lots and lots of stories, and writes out the best ones. As a result, the first words I wrote down after finishing the final story were "Dang, she's good." 

The difficulty in writing about this writer's stories is keeping out the spoilers. So I'll stop writing about Maladaptive now.

Instead I'll say that after expecting to see the "Games Theme" at strangehorizons.com in November or December, it's a relief to see it live in June. My thoughts on the trilogy that's scheduled to be complete this summer are at http://strangehorizons.com/non-fiction/headspace-and-master-of-the-arena-by-j-d-edwin/ .

Bad Poetry: Delusions

Next to the day when a patient actually died, the most melodramatic day in my not-if-I-can-help-it home nursing career was the day a patient had a psychotic reaction to a change in medication. The patient's husband couldn't imagine how a doctor could even think of his sensible wife as psychotic. "She is having delusions." 

"What are you talking about?"

"Delusions, sir, means that she believes things that aren't true."

"Believes things that aren't true? Why, then, tell me who's not having delusions?" The old gentleman started listing public figures who were in the news that year. "Do those two serial divorcees believe that whatever they have is a marriage, or ever will be? Does that candidate believe he has a chance to win the election?"

The patient stabilized in a few days and went home, practical and wise as ever. In a week or so I was free to go back to the city and take care of business, and there I wrote a song about delusions. I've sung it different ways, reflecting different news stories, over the years. The verses below stick in my mind as having seemed relevant in most years.

See the famous aging actress getting “married” once again.
Do you believe she’s ever going to stand by just one man?
Do you believe he wants more than her money and her fame?
Do you believe she can even remember her new “married name”?

Delusions, oh, delusions, we all have them, yes we do.
Delusions, oh, delusions—I believe that I can sing.
Delusions, oh, delusions, we all lose contact once in a while.
Turn on the news and wonder if “reality” means anything!

See the eager college student burn the candle at both ends:
Class overload, work overtime, two jobs, clubs, church, and friends.
By senior year, in coffee this poor child has lost all hope.
Another kid says, “Friend, I know where you can get some dope."

Delusions, oh, delusions, meth-heads don’t know they’re addicts too.
Delusions, oh, delusions, and I don’t know that I can’t sing!
Delusions, oh, delusions, we all lose contact once in a while.
Turn on the news and wonder if “reality” means anything!

See the crowd of unknown “hopefuls” trying to run for President.
Political experience”—did they ever know what that meant?
Do you believe any of them think they’ll have a chance to win,
Or are they trying to spoil the race for someone who is “in”?

Delusions, oh, delusions, everybody has a few.
Delusions, oh, delusions, whoa! I believe that I can sing!
Delusions, oh, delusions, we all lose contact once in a while.
Turn on the news and wonder if “reality” means anything!

See the topical folk song writer sitting in this hotel room.
Can you believe she thinks a song will help dispel the gloom?
Can you believe she thinks that facing reality does any good?
As delusions go, that’s not so bad; I’d believe it if I could.

Delusions, oh, delusions, everybody has a few.
Delusions, oh, delusions—do I believe that I can sing?
Delusions, oh, delusions, we all lose contact once in a while.
Turn on the news and wonder if “reality” means anything!

Monday, June 5, 2023

Book Review: 100 Places to See After You Die

Title: 100 Places to See After You Die 

Author: Ken Jennings

Date: 2023

Publisher: Scribner

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3161-5

Quote: "There’s no way to know for sure where you’re going when you die— and it might, of course, be nowhere. But this book isn’t just for armchair adventurers. Why not start assembling your own afterlife travel checklist now? If the gloomy Hel of the Vikings appeals to your inner goth, you’ll need to start offering sacrifices to the old Norse gods and avoiding— at all costs!— a brave death in battle. If the blissful Pure Land of East Asian Buddhism is more your speed, start chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha to yourself every day, because you’ll never understand the dharma without him."

Last winter I wrote about the multitude of different beliefs found among Christians about what happens after we die. What do near-death visions mean? How literally true is it that, with our departing breath, our consciousness leaves our mortal bodies and goes on to something new? If the Bible's clearest vision of an afterlife, on closer examination, makes no logical sense, what does that tell us? I think it's clear that even the resurrection Jesus described was only a metaphor for something our mortal brains can't imagine. 

Trivia king Ken Jennings evidently thinks something similar, but his answer to the same question is of course much more vividly detailed. And it's funny, in a way. Nobody could possibly believe this or that metaphor to be literally true, and yet everyone recognizes that there's something to it...Buddhist countries have notoriously been the home of art, entertainment, even parks, depicting the cosmic punishments for various sins in ways that are sobering and also funny. Jennings has achieved a similar effect by writing about various visions of the afterlife in tour-guide style. Readers are strolling with him through a literary amusement park, considering the rich variety of metaphors various artists and writers have developed for the idea of rewards and punishments in the afterlife. At the same time, the effect on a reflective reader should be to encourage reflection on the sort of afterlives we're in the process of earning.

There are, Jennings shows us, dozens of different visions of Good and Bad Places even within the same religious traditions. Dante's Inferno, a satire on contemporary issues, went far beyond the Bible's few references to the real probability that an ancient Israelite who died poor or unpopular (or wanted to spare person's family the cost of burial) would be burned in the big garbage dump at Gehenna where the fires were never quenched. Milton's Paradise Lost made an ancient sermon on the death of an ancient king into a brilliant study of a personality destroyed by narcissism. C.S. Lewis's attempt to describe a Heaven with room for picture-book scenes and characters, in The Last Battle, also rates a chapter in Jennings' discussion of literary afterlives, as does Sartre's vision of Hell as a boardinghouse where uncongenial people have to share a room, and Lewis's more serious vision of Hell-and/or-Purgatory as a gloomy place where people have to go on being their joyless mundane selves until they're ready to let go of their cherished sins and get into Heaven. So do several other fictional afterlives 

Twentieth century pop culture's riffs on the themes of resurrection and reincarnation, though hardly on the levels of Dante and Milton, have likewise used familiar folklore as a base for a story used to make a social point. Jennings describes several TV and movie mixes of wisdom and tackiness: In "My Mother the Car," the character's mother was reincarnated as an antique car the character had to drive and maintain. Different "Twilight Zone" shows, written by different people, presented different afterlife visions; in one episode a man refused to go to what he thought was Heaven without his dog, then found himself and his dog in Heaven where they learned that the place that barred dogs was Hell. The lists of TV and movie afterlives is quite long, though a question arises whether the imagery really makes enough different metaphoric points to justify referring to the afterlife at all, whether some of these stories wouldn't have been better told as ordinary stories about good and bad vacation tours...

There are those who take the afterlife too seriously to feel comfortable with fiction or jokes about the different metaphors humans have used to talk about it. I, as this review shows, am not one of those people. Neither is Jennings. If you are not one of those people, either, you'll probably enjoy this book. It's not really a frivolous or blasphemous book, since the target of satirical wit is the shortcomings of humans' metaphors. It might tend to encourage the folly of someone so determined to choose stupidity that person can't even see the benefit of accepting Pascal's Wager, but then again it might tend to encourage a serious, religious sort of reader to consider what person does believe and how person is preparing for the Final Judgment person believes in.

Butterfly of the Week: Mencius' Windmill

This week's butterfly seems to live only in China. China has had other priorities than studying insects that aren't involved in crop production. Very little is known about Byasa (formerly Atrophaneura) mencius

By now you know all about its name except for the species name mencius. It doesn't look Chinese, but it is. A famous Chinese writer, whose name probably sounded more like "Meng-Tse," was called Mencius by some people who wrote about him in Latin. The butterfly was named in his honor. He wrote about philosophy, manners, morals, and life in general, and probably had something to say about the theme that must have been a big running joke for eighteenth century naturalists--funerals.

It's a large, dark brown to black butterfly with red spots described as forming a chain on each hind wing. The wingspread is at least four inches, sometimes closer to five. Its food plant is not in the genus Aristolochia, but I didn't find any information about what the food plant is. Something that grows in China. It is known from a few specimens a naturalist found in the coastal town of Ningpo. Questions have been raised whether it really is a distinctive species. It looks a bit like alcinous or rhadinus.

"Reading" from top to bottom and left to right, mencius is numbers two and three--the big one in the top right corner and on the left side. The painting is By G R Gray 1852 - internet archive, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23345266 . George Robert Gray painted these butterflies for the British Museum catalogue.

The specimen posed posthumously for a photo was found in Gulin in 1862.

The fold of white membrane on the inside of the hind wings is a feature some of the male butterflies in this group share. In normal flying and resting positions the membrane is folded. In courtship the male butterflies spread it out and release their species-specific scent. (Even this little fellow's mate thought he looked like some other kind of butterfly.)

Females tend to be slightly bigger than males, with slightly wider wings. Both sexes qualify as Red-Bodied Swallowtails by having red fur on the underside of the body.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Web Log 6.2.23 to 6.3.23

Late. Sorry. I left cyberspace Friday evening and returned on Saturday evening, and stayed up very late, enjoying the moonlight and watching for criminal trespass. Apparently this frustrated the Professional Bad Neighbor because, mid-morning, he sent a hired laborer to deliver a death threat, "tonight" was specifically mentioned. The laborer also mentioned that the Bad Neighbor had lost another one of his few surviving relatives, recently. I would guess that that would have been the great-aunt in Tennessee who died in a nursing home, well past age ninety, but this psychopath has managed to lose his younger siblings, wife, and infant child already. 

The Bad Neighbor's shooting used to bear comparison with my father's, but from his efforts to hunt and poach since last year's spray poisoning campaign, I'm no longer sure his shooting scores are better than mine. I'm not sure, either, how much stronger or faster than I am a person can be after spending weeks sick in bed with puny little coronavirus. And a known psychopath making a death threat publicly is definitely losing some of his mental ability...if he actually intended to carry out the threat, rather than deny ever having made it and try to undermine the credibility of the person he used to deliver the message. I don't expect a shootout tonight, but one should never completely ignore a death threat, so I am publicizing the fact that it was made. 


If you check the last few posts at ko-fi.com/priscillak, you'll see another reminder to sponsor the updated version of the Hemileuca moth post. Just ten short years ago, a single blog post titled "Buck Moth or Stingingworm" could be the most complete, comprehensive collection about these animals in cyberspace, and it was. Now, of course, it's out of date. The Hemileuca moths have interesting DNA so a lot of DNA studies have been done, and although I wrote about thirty-some species and more than fifty species have been listed, science is swinging back to good old Holland's position (taken in The Moth Book about a hundred years ago) that there are only about half a dozen true species of these fantastically variable moths. It's now possible for there to be a complete post, with nearly all live photos, for each species--even the ones that are being demoted to subspecies or variations. Those who like moths should send $5 per post to the mail drop shown below...I don't usually barter for posts at this web site, but if the first person to sponsor this series wants to send me Tuskes' book in exchange for the whole series, I'll take it. 


Christian content...The solution to the many flaws of capitalism is not socialism. It is not pretending that some other political system is better or more natural than capitalism. It is subordinating capitalism to ethics. Make sire that the effect of regulations is to make it easy for people with little or no capital to sell any goods or service they can honestly sell, and instead of hand-wringing about the fact that some people have more than others, focus on making it easy for anyone to earn a living. Nobody is harmed when Sam Walton has a few ideas about how his employers' business could be made more profitable, uses those ideas, and makes millions of dollars. Everyone is harmed when John Doe is prevented from selling anything he has that people will buy, any time he needs twenty or fifth dollars. The important thing is not to stop Sam Walton from becoming rich through honest trade, but to make ir easier for John Doe to meet his needs by honest trade than by sitting around whining "needy-needy-needy," If we let people enjoy whatever rewards their work has earned in their own way, and focussed our outrage on incidents where people who want to work are advised to go on welfare, we can make a basically capitalist economy work for everyone, and not even be tempted to replicate any of the failures of systems that always do fail.

The focus on comparisons that is used to market socialism is a formula for failure. When people are focussed on what other people are doing, they're motivated to do no more and, if possible, less than they perceive the other people doing. There is no immediate individual reward for any individual to apply any additional effort, so "the shared reward" is never as much as the rewards the same group of people would earn by working independently for their own gain. Usually "the shared reward" is that everyone loses money. Taking away the profit motive produces immediate loss. 

The helpful corrective to the profit motive is higher motives. How can one really enjoy wealth except by sharing it? Faring sumptuously every day becomes downright unhealthy. People stay healthier longer when they live modestly and devote themselves to things beyond "retirement," creative rather than commercial work, family, prayer. 


Tweeted by @danieltoalphoto: 


I just discovered a poet called Destiny Hemphill. She has dared to express the thought that welfare is not the highest good available to Black Americans. She will catch hate for this. Support courage and honesty at 


Only some left-wing social circles are the sort of horrible cliques Naomi Wolf describes, and horrible cliques are usually pre-political...but she has a point. Trying to fit into a clique of unpleasant people is not fun; it prevents those who do it from having fun and may thus predispose them to behave more unpleasantly toward others. 

Which is why, although I automatically clicked on the Twitter button after reading this, I'll be doing that less often in the next few weeks. Who wants to have their work promoted among a horrible clique? We all need for Twitter to see its overall activity dropping, for those high-paying corporate sponsors to see that nobody's interested in opening yet another drainpipe to spew even more of their garbage into our lives, until Twitter gets back to its roots. We need to take all the life out of Twitter until Twitter publicizes an oath that, if free individual users will only come back, Twitter will

1. Make sure all Twits see all tweets from people we follow in the main column of the screen.

2. Make sure no Twit sees any tweet from people we don't follow, except as a reply, retweet, or comment on a hashtag, in the main column of the page. Keep the ads in a corner and make sure they're smaller and don't distract attention from the main content.

3. Make sure no tweets are "filtered" or interfered with unless they've been reviewed by a human and found to be criminal. 

4. Offer new features, like ways to post longer tweets, to those who pay for them, but never suggest that non-paying accounts are "low in quality." Formally apologize to every Twit who's been called that, perhaps by featuring those individuals' high quality tweets in a corner headed "Tweets You Might Have Missed from People Twitter Has Learned to Respect."

5. Make it easy to scroll through ALL tweets and notifications on an account (as it used to be).

6. Time-stamp all tweets with an hour and day, and lose the tiresome "minutes ago" feature that merely destabilizes the page.

7. Pay all returning Twits $1000 per tweet that was "filtered," shadwobanned, or otherwise suppressed from the home pages of the Twit's followers. More if there's any attempt to respond with anything but "Yes, Sir, Ma'am, right away, Ma'am, Sir, and we're very grateful for such generous terms, Sir, Ma'am!"

8. Reserve the "notifications" page for communication between individuals. If it's an ordinary tweet, no matter how good the news may be, or how funny the joke, or how interesting to a Twit's followers, it should show up in its proper place on the home page with other ordinary tweets. Notifications should either address, reply to, or comment on the account holder's tweets. 

9. Bring back the version of Twitter that let people toggle between seeing pictures right in the Twitter stream, and seeing links in the Twitter stream to click if we wanted to see a picture. 

10. Restore auto-posting of tweets to the blogs that had that feature in the past and to any other web site any Twit may use for a personal blog.

Finally, the big enchilada--addressing the reason why all those detrimental changes were made: Require all sponsors to affirm that they're paying for the privilege of interacting on equal, respectful terms with people who are not, at least while using Twitter, sitting still to be bombarded with commercial messages. Require them to affirm, specifically, that they  understand the special value of being able to advertise in a medium they are not allowed to censor or manipulate in the way they did with television. Require Europeans, specifically,. to write five thousand original words on the topic of "Why Censorship Is Evil and What I Am Here to Learn from a Superior Society That Bans Censorship Before It's Too Late to Save My Poor Perishing Country." then peruse a few hashtag pages and identify at least five tweets as "well put though I disagree with them," before they can post a tweet.

Twitter has had the benefit of friendly advice from most regular readers of this page, and has ignored it. It's time for the company to start feeling some pain in the pocketbook. Give corporate sponsors what they squawked for, and watch EVERYONE's numbers collapse. Metrics from a "filtered" web site should not even exist where they can be used as misleading indicators of the popularity of our work.

Book Review: Abba's Child

Title: Abba’s Child

Author: Brennan Manning

Publisher: Nav Press

Date: 1994, 2002

ISBN: 1-57863-334-8

Length: 192 pages

NavPress’s reputation is for well written, Bible-based, nondenominational Christian books that appeal to college students and teachers. Abba’s Child is a good example. It’s all about the familiar message that God loves you so you don’t have to torture yourself with guilt trips or repeated sin, but Manning has found fresh quotes and anecdotes and put them together with high-quality prose, so even if you’ve read fifty other books on this theme, Abba’s Child is still a fresh, good read.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Morgan Griffith on REINS

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



Recently I voted against the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the debt ceiling legislation negotiated by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden.

As I’ve said before, I have long believed that Congress has a responsibility to the American people to “rein in” wasteful and excessive spending.

In late April, I voted to raise the debt ceiling by supporting the Limit, Save, Grow ActLimit, Save, Grow was the House Republicans common-sense legislation to limit Congress’ reckless spending, while raising the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion.

Unfortunately, not only were the reforms in the Fiscal Responsibility Act not anywhere close to those in Limit, Save, Grow, but it increased the debt limit by an additional $2.5 trillion to $4 trillion.

I could not justify voting in favor of legislation that raises the debt ceiling by a projected $4 trillion without a majority of the spending reforms previously agreed to.

Specifically, I was disappointed that the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act was not included in this new legislation, a provision I strongly supported in Limit, Save, Grow. The REINS Act requires economically significant regulations proposed by federal agencies, or those costing in excess of $100 million per year, to be approved by Congress before taking effect.

Article 1 of the Constitution grants Congress the “power of the purse”, giving Congress taxing and spending power and the authority to appropriate money collected by the federal government. 

Historically, this power has been one of the main tools by which Congress has limited executive power. Unfortunately, over the years, Congress has increasingly given away this power to the federal branch indirectly through granting authority to the executive branch to pass regulations that can force spending by both the federal government and private enterprise without first obtaining congressional approval for said spending.

Many times, the agencies take authority not explicitly given to them. Just one example would be the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the interpretation of the ‘Waters of the United States’ made by the Environment Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers.

For example, during President George Bush’s first year in office, his administration finalized 36 economically significant regulations, or major rules. In 2021, the Biden administration finalized 69 of these major rules. It is time we stop this trend.

This trend has led to a powerful administrative state of unelected bureaucrats. They often act outside the bounds of our Constitution framework and our country’s democratic republic principles.

By requiring Congress to approve any major rule proposed by the federal branch, the REINS Act would take a significant step in restoring Congress' legislative authority, as originally intended. Elected officials, not bureaucrats, should be in control of federal policy.

Moving forward, I am committed to finding ways to advance the REINS Act in the House and, eventually, get it enacted into law. We are scheduled to soon debate REINS. The House will pass the REINS Act and I call on the Senate to do the same.

It’s not about Democrats or Republicans, it’s about the legislative branch reasserting their authority over the executive branch.


On another note, June 6 is the 79th anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion of Normandy during World War II. More than 150,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen were part of D-Day and the Normandy campaign.

With redistricting, the Ninth District has been expanded to include Bedford and Franklin Counties. This means that the District now includes the National D-Day Memorial, as well as the Bedford Boys Tribute Center. The Bedford Boys, otherwise known as the Virginia National Guard – Company A of the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, were one of the American units at the forefront of the D-Day invasion.

When Company A stormed Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, there were 35 soldiers from Bedford, as well as other men from counties across the Ninth District. By the end of the campaign, 23 of the boys from Bedford would be dead. Because of this, Bedford, Virginia had the highest per capita death toll of any town or city in the United States. This is what inspired Congress to establish the D-Day memorial in Bedford.

I encourage everyone to visit Bedford and stop by both the D-Day Memorial and the Tribute Center to learn more about the D-Day invasion and to honor the men who were the point of the spear in cracking through Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall.”

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Web Log 6.1.23

It's easier to copy these things into Blogspot and then tweet the link to the whole log for those who find it on Twitter... Look for a push for "tighter filtering of misleading, fear-producing content," e.g. Glyphosate Awareness, on Blogspot too. I'm sorry, I really am because real mail is going to cost real money, but all of us are going to have to prepare to receive our news via real mail. And it may have to be typed on real typewriters, the way the Internet's going. I wouldn't be surprised to see the'Net totally implode in the next two years. 

The Internet was funded largely as a tool for fascist control--meaning control by an unholy alliance between government, business, and the military, whether the details of policy are classified as old right, old left, or some new thing for a new generation. We had the ability to take over the Internet and maintain it as a tool for use in a democratic society. Not enough of us did enough of the work on that. If we don't build and maintain small private networks free from the corporations that have grown big and ugly, we'll soon have no Internet at all...because what religious clingers to socialism refuse to see is that socialism always self-destructs. 

Individual liberty is what put Britain ahead of Europe and then put the English-speaking countries ahead of the world. Capitalism, as a philosophy unenlightened by spirituality, does have built-in evils but they come from capitalism's tolerance for people's infringement on their less wealthy peers' liberty; on the whole, although people on the lower economic tiers of a capitalist society certainly suffer, they are still likely to suffer less, for fewer years, than everyone will suffer in a socialist society. In the United States the norm is that most young people start out near the bottom and work their way upward until they retire. We have not always realized how special and different and worth preserving it is that young people can work their way upward and most of them can retire. 

Food (Yuck) 

An extra benefit to carrying plenty of coins while shopping. You need to see the whole thing, but you can test this. Hold a coin up to a package of meat you're considering buying. Feel for a weak but discernible magnetic attraction. Do not eat magnetized meat. I take this seriously, not because I believe I understand the science involved well enough to know whether Karen Kingston's explanation is serious or a hoax, but because, if meat is magnetized, obviously something is wrong with it.


Ron Paul at his best was summarized in a meme shared with the conservative-friendly philosophy blog, howtomeowinyiddish.blogspot.com: 

The theme is snarky, but the video contest is serious. My take? I'm very unlikely to vote against Robert Kennedy, even though I'd be thinking, the whole time, "O Lord, You remember what happened the last time we had a President Kennedy, or even a serious nominee Kennedy? No more reruns. Please please please." My second choice (Ron DeSantis, with or without Trump on the ticket, because he cannot afford to campaign against Trump) and third choice (Nikki Haley, less politically congenial and well funded than Yay! Ron! but a solid candidate, especially if she can team up with DeSantis and/or Trump and/or un-photogenic but effective Tim Scott) are hard to take seriously at this point, except that I want them to team up and not end up electing some undeserving D by in-fighting.

There's a problem I'd have with a DeSantis-Haley ticket. They're not teenagers, but they are well preserved and energetic. Dirty minds will fantasize. Spouses would have to be at their sides for every photo-op. Part of DeSantis' popularity is that his wife's looking so well. Who can resist a beautiful, healthy-looking cancer survivor? Talk about America's Sweetheart! I would hate to wonder whether stress had made her ill again. I say Go! Casey! and if staying in Florida is best for her, it's what her husband should do. He doesn't know that he'll have lost momentum in 2028, or in 2040--which is when he probably should think it's his last chance. His best political years are still mostly ahead of him, and who knows what real-world events will do. 

Minnie Cat's Song: Petfinder Post

(No "cat interview" this week...I think it's possible that our long-ago Queen Cat Minnie might have been some sort of distant paternal-line relative of our current Queen Serena. I don't think they would have liked each other. Queen Heather seemed to share power equitably with three sisters whose talents were complementary and equal, or nearly equal, to her own. Minnie was a clever animal but nowhere near to being Serena's equal. I can't imagine their being friends and am glad their lifetimes didn't overlap.)

Something cats and humans have in common is that, as predator species, we tend to overeat when the food we like is plentiful. Nature has given us the ability to store surplus food as fat that gets us through leaner days. The only problem is that, in these days of abundance, we may not burn off the surplus fat. We may keep packing it on until it becomes dangerous.

This did not happen to me while I was a young undiagnosed celiac, but it's happened a few times since then. Home nursing jobs have usually been to blame. There's this person who is obviously not up for a good five-mile walk, lying about, feeling bored, in need of mental stimulation, probably not up for learning a new language or art form either, but needing good healthy food to recover per health. Like most people who've enjoyed cooking for fifty years, I've learned how to make all kinds of good healthy food, and I enjoy doing it. Recently during a Morning Writing Practice I sat down and spent about twenty minutes generating a list of 60 cheap vegan meals that are easy to do with either supermarket ingredients or health food store ingredients. 

I cook that sort of thing for patients. Plant proteins as the base, meat as an option if the doctor recommends it. In a surprising lot of conditions North Americans develop, doctors who pay attention to the patient's diet recommend less protein. For Parkinson's Disease a low-protein diet is generally recommended. For diabetes the value of a vegetable diet probably comes from the extra fibre. For cardiovascular disease avoiding saturated fats, like animal fats, is important. If you want to gain weight you mix grains and beans; if you want to lose weight you separate them. So I have these lovely mental lists of things to do with grains and beans, apart and together, that I can--probably--eat again as farmers develop Glyphosate Awareness. 

So I cook these things for the patient, and eat them with the patient, and do the boring little routine of daily cleaning, which does not raise the metabolic rate very much, and then sit around doing needlework and watching television and playing board games with the patient all day, and by the time the patient is back on per feet, my fat pants are getting snug.

I would never part with my fat pants, but their purpose in my closet is to be worn over another pair of pants on a cold day, or (sigh) worn to accommodate inflammation during glyphosate reactions, not so that I can actually fit into them.

So then I look for ways to build more walking into my life. Of course, in many parts of North America, our culture still makes this difficult for women. "A pretty little girl like you isn't safe with all these crazy men on the streets" messages actually overlap with "A woman of your age isn't safe with all these crazy motorists on the streets." I don't know whether the people who say these things hear themselves actually saying "We need to lock up all the men, and especially all the people whose "transitioning" hormones are guaranteed to be unbalanced, all the time." Women pay a good half of the taxes to maintain the streets so, if women really aren't safe on the streets, then the streets have to be kept clean of men, Of course, in reality, it only takes one other woman to make the streets "safe" for any woman who chooses to use them, or as safe as anything is in this dangerous world. I've chosen to spend many hours of my life being that one. 

When people are blessed with healthy active thyroids--which is something dicamba spraying is likely to change, be aware--it doesn't take many extra miles to walk the extra pounds right off. When people have sluggish thyroids, it takes a lot of brisk walking just to nudge the thyroid closer to its "gear"--but brisk exercise, especially before breakfast, is the key to getting those thyroids working again if anything ever will.

Cats are the same way. Some cats have healthy appetites; they eat about a cup of food a day, often less, and don't want any more. Sometimes humans think the proper shape for cats is actually fatter than the cats need or want to be, and fret, "He's not eating," when the only thing wrong is that the cat is overfed and trying to avoid morbid obesity. 

Then there are the cats whose main interest seems to be eating, who always seem to be begging for food, will almost always eat whatever they're offered, and keep eating until morbid obesity sets in, and these cats show about as much interest in exercising as the average 350-pound patient does. For similar reasons. We all have to begin where we are. Obese people have to ease back into physical activity with slow walks and short periods of faster movement. Cats, too. That's why Garfield, in the cartoons, was always taking a few steps, or waving a paw, and then sending his human thought waves about lasagna. (Fat cats should not have lasagna.)

No resident cat at the Cat Sanctuary has ever been allowed to stay fat. Irene did have a tendency to gain weight easily, and she was a sweetheart about being served smaller meals when that happened, too. 

As an adolescent the long-ago Queen Cat Minnie seemed to have a morbid appetite. 

Minnie was a little smaller than kittens are supposed to be, the smallest of five kittens. She was always closest to Max, who was a little bigger than kittens are supposed to be. When they were just little things Minnie always seemed to be trying to do anything Max did. 

I don't know how relevant it may or may not have been that their mother, Tabby, was just not a family cat. As soon as her five kittens were eating kibble, she started placing them in homes! Minnie and Pepper found their way back, Max, Biscuit (no known relation to a later cat called Bisquit), and Tiger didn't. And when Minnie and Pepper came home, mewing sweetly that the Cat Sanctuary was where they wanted to be, Tabby moved out. Sometimes a young mother cat wants to start a new litter and just pushes her spring kittens aside. My current cat family don't do that, but Tabby did, and Schatzi down the road did.

So Minnie, who was clever and on the borderline of social, though definitely not a Listening cat, was now alone with Pepper, humans, cardinals, wrens, and Ms. Poketana Possum for company. She seemed to get on well with Pepper and Poketana, though she'd chase the birds if she saw them on the ground, but she wanted to be the boss.

As a young cat Minnie was short and chunky. She was in fact growing into a large cat, so her appetite for extra food may have been natural. Pepper was always long and lean. When they were half grown Pepper started to look alarmingly lean. 

Every time she saw me, she started meowing. Most cats' "meow" is a conversation. They understand few if any actual words, but they watch and listen for a reaction. Not Minnie, who was no longer a "mini-cat" but still had little white gloves and still, at this stage, answered to "Minnie Mouse." Minnie was doing all the talking. "Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow!" 

Cats who do that are unhappy. What they're unhappy about is the question. When a small animal has a round, solid abdomen, the first sources of unhappiness to check are hairballs and worms. Minnie had neither of those problems. (Minnie liked raw shelled pumpkin seeds, unlike some cats I could name who sniff at pricey roasted pepitas.) Minnie just kept insisting "Meow! Meow! Meow!" and the only way to shut her up was to give her a kibble. I'd open the jar and flip a bit out for her to chase, and she'd subside. Nevertheless, despite these extra snacks, she still kept gobbling up her food, so fast I wondered whether gas had something to do with her distress, and then gobbling the two-thirds of Pepper's meal that Pepper was still chewing up. For a cute, affectionate kitten Minnie was getting to have quite an unpleasant personality.

I tried changing the way I fed them. I put half a cup in each dish as usual, but instead of leaving them to eat I scooped up Minnie and groomed and petted her. Minnie's meal was quite safe; Pepper wasn't greedy. I combed Minnie's short gray tabby coat, which didn't need much combing, and sang:

Gather kittens while ye may!
Time brings only sorrow!
Pretty little gray kittens of today
Will be fat old gray cats tomorrow.

Minnie's such a pretty cat,
White apron, bib, and stockings.
Sad to say, she's growing fat;
Her figure looks quite shocking.

No fat cats are allowed at this house!
They waste both food and money!
If you're hungry, chase a mouse,
A cricket, or a bunny!

Minnie, if less food you eat,
You're certain to grow thinner;
So, although you're nice and neat,
You still get only one dinner.

She still wriggled and meowed, but she obviously enjoyed the extra attention enough not to mind that this song took enough time to let Pepper recover a healthy weight. After being groomed and sung to, Minnie would gobble her meal, and by that time Pepper would have had time to eat most or all of hers.

After a few months like this, the grooming routine stopped seeming necessary. Minnie matured. It took her a long time to grow longer and taller than Pepper, but she was always noticeably heavier, with a wide frame and lots of lean muscle on her solid little bones. She had a short tail, too, and might have been a carrier of the Manx gene; we'll never know, since she never had kittens. Along with her big but healthy shape Minnie matured into a calmer personality. She always was a hasty, messy eater, but she stopped gobbling up Pepper's food. 

Then they were spayed. As regular readers may remember, Pepper was the only cat I ever knew who seemed positively healthier and happier after being spayed, and Minnie was the only one who seemed to hold a grudge. She was the one who really did have a longer list from which her "Top Ten Ways to Annoy and Embarrass Humans" was selected.

"You love her more than the others," my husband observed.

"Ha! Ha!" I said. "I barely manage to put up with her."

"But you do put up with more abuse from her than from any other cat. Deep down, you love Minnie."  

I suppose I did...but not as much as I did any of the other cats, whom I actually liked

Here are some adoptable cats who may need a strictly limited diet and a program of regular exercise--cat toys, or walking with a harness, or just living a normal, natural life in the barn.

Zipcode 10101: Kiefer from New York City 

Born in November 2021, Kiefer's guaranteed to like to exercise, and maintain a healthy shape around his broad, almost British-type frame, if he has someone to play with. He's recommended for adoption by a family that have another cat, or cats...or a human who spends a lot of time at home. He's already had the basic vaccines and been neutered. The site doesn't list his weight but it's possible that he may grow even bigger (a little bit bigger) this summer.

Zipcode 20202: Christina from D.C. 

She's old and fat, but she still likes to play so there's some hope of getting the flab down. Christina is unfortunately grumpy and surly with other cats, so she's recommended to someone who can keep only one cat. She's not a snuggler, either...she's starting to sound a bit like Serena, whom she probably wouldn't like. If you want the peculiar experience of living with a cat who would rather chase a ball than snuggle on your knee, ask about this cat today. Though you should also know that the D.C. shelters are overflowing with adorable adoptable kittens and sometimes a bossy, un-cuddly cat will mellow enough to adopt kittens who are already weaned. The adoption process for cats begins with growls, snarls, and slaps, but in a day or two the kitten has learned the rules and the cat has fallen in love with it.

Zipcode 30303: Zahra or Mocha from Atlanta 

Why does this beautiful Siamese cat look so heavy and sad? She was brought to the shelter because she had kittens. The kittens were torn away from her, and she was spayed. She's not described as holding a grudge but, as shown, she is starting to overeat. She needs to learn other ways to have fun--playing with you, or perhaps fostering other kittens, of which the shelters seem to be full. I say "seem to be" because, as regular readers know, the shelters around Atlanta have two chronic handicap in our Petfinder photo contest. Too many shelter staff seem to try to comfort the animals by overfeeding them, and too many of the shelters post bad photos or none. So the page on which I found Zahra's or Mocha's picture (no mention of whether they're trying to change her name because they have things stamped "Mocha" or because a shelter worker or relative of one is called Zahra) is full of pictures that really look like space aliens, and blank spaces where pictures are meant to be, and notes that each of these pages represents an adoptable kitten. If you can resist the temptation to throw food at her when she meows too much, which she may sometimes do, and try to find out what she wants, this cat is described as friendly, clever, and likely to be fun to know for another ten years or more.

Bonus Cat: Torti from Blountville 

That face! It is usually assumed that Lewis Carroll got the idea of a cat with a grin from the aura of a migraine headache, during which patients often almost see remembered images overlapping with real ones. Then again, he might once have known an ancestor of this cat. The Torti at the Blountville shelter is described as sweet, friendly, and unlikely to turn down being petted. 

Book Review: Hill Country Harvest

Reclaimed from Blogjob...

Title: Hill Country Harvest

Author:  Hal Borland

Date: 1967

Publisher: J.B. Lippincott

ISBN: none, but click here to see it on Amazon

Length: 377 pages

Quote: “An editor…forty miles or so up the Housatonic valley from where I live, asked me to write a weekly column for his daily newspaper. ‘What about?’ I asked. ‘Nature,’ he said, ‘the outdoors, life in general.’”

Ten years later, Borland and his book publisher looked back over his columns and decided, “We’ve got a book.” This is the book.

Borland’s home was farther west, but he had married a native of New England, and this book is about New England. It’s about the Appalachian foothills rather than the Atlantic seacoast, which may explain why the book was read and enjoyed here, too. The similarities and differences between our hill countries are interesting.

New Englanders are hereby invited to keep up the consideration of a question Borland raised after reading an old book about New England : “It is observed by the Indians that every tenth year there is little nor no winter.” Borland had not observed this, but if any readers in New England observe it I hope they’ll keep the rest of us posted. Of course, the old book was written “about 330 years” before some point between 1956 and 1967, when Borland was writing about it. Between 1625 and 1640 the English in America were still stumbling around in confusion. They were aiming for Virginia when they struck Massachusetts and it’s possible that Borland’s misinformant, one William Wood, thought he was in Massachusetts when he was actually in Virginia .

That was the topic of one column. There are dozens. There are columns about the behavior of Borland’s squirrels (he was able to attract red squirrels and gray squirrels to the same feeder), about the origins of Groundhog Day, about why the grass greens and the flowers bloom earlier above the septic tank. There’s an explanation of why Weather Service reports started including “wind-chill factors” and why the thermometer on your porch is likely to run a few degrees colder than the one at the local weather station. There are observations of towhees and ground-ivy and lilacs and country people who whistle in public. There are complaints about rhubarb and salsify…people who dutifully ate those two New England classics never complained about zucchini. And so on.

If Borland had meticulously noted the date of each of his observations of nature and listed them in chronological order, his book might have seemed bloggier and less like a novel than it does, but he would also have been practicing “phenology,” the scientific observation of shifts in natural cycles from year to year. Bloggers who keep methodical phenological records are helping professional ecologists with tasks like proving or disproving theories such as global warming. Borland was not a really meticulous phenologist, but he came close enough to give Hill Country Harvest some real scientific and historical value.

In short, Hill Country Harvest is a fun read, often comic, never very sad, often informative…warmly recommended.

Posted on September 8, 2015 Categories Book, Green Tags Appalachian Mountains, nature notes


Thursday, June 1, 2023

Web Log 5.31.23

Links to Zazzle and to this web site were all you missed on Twitter yesterday, so I hadn't scheduled a Link Log, but here it is:



Not mine. Is it "my" Mourning Cloak photo? No--regular readers know Zazzle wouldn't even bother with the photos the Tracfone used to take! My "Save the Butterflies" printables use public-domain stock photos, of which I think this is another example. But it wouldn't matter if someone else used a picture I had personally painted on Zazzle, because the system is cooperative not competitive. I would, or the charity I'm supporting would, earn a bigger commission by selling their design than my own.

Is the Internet Sneaking Into Your Net-Free Computer?

Some people Out There may reply, "Who wants a Net-free computer?"

A lot of us do. The Internet is to some extent a surveillance device that spies on what you do in your own home. When you connect to the Internet only from the office, or from a public place, where you go online to do research or use social media, there's no rational reason to object to, e.g., Google keeping a record of what Google is used for, or Twitter keeping a record of what people do on Twitter. But if you have a private, wired, non-networked computer and printer in your bedroom, and use it for things like writing personal letters, keeping track of your personal budget, or maintaining a private dream journal, you are likely to object vigorously to Google tapping into that computer. 

For one thing, many of us object to other people being able to use the Internet to see all the holes and stains in our favorite pajamas...or whether or not we wear any. Before marriage, although that was in the pre-Internet years, I used to think I needed to be modestly dressed even when I was alone in my own bedroom. I don't know what the thinking behind that was--"If the house caught fire you wouldn't want to take the time to pop a dress over your head before you ran out," or "If you saw yourself in the mirror you might be guilty of the sin of looking at a naked body--your own," or, more likely, "If you always wear some sort of clothes, even if they're special styles that everyone in your culture recognizes as having been designed exclusively for wearing in your own home and would frown on your wearing when you go out to collect your mail, chances are good that you'll be buying at least two more complete dresses or pants suits every single year! Ka-ching!" One of my husband's and my frugal house rules was to wear clothes at home only if we felt chilly without them, and since we mostly lived in steamy coastal Maryland we saved a lot of money on the sort of clothes that wear out quickly because they absorb so much sweat. The air can absorb much more sweat without needing to be replaced. I don't particularly care if the young men at Google are watching my body age, or seeing the stacks of creative clutter around my desk, or watching me recycle empty food containers to gush blood into after exposure to glyphosate, because I feel that anyone watching that sort of thing deserves to feel as disgusted as I'm sure he would, but many people do feel that way. Even though we'll never have to meet the young men at Google socially.

For another thing, our society has not done nearly enough toward treating nannyism, let alone searching for a real cure. The pills I use (vitamins when I'm not having celiac reactions, charcoal when I am), the amount of porn I watch online (pretty close to zero), or who else may be in my home (relatives, and yes, we put on some sort of clothes before being in the same rooms) are not the usual focus of these wretched people's helpistic reactions. People who use drugs (yes, alcohol, and aspirin), watch porn, and have overnight visitors may feel differently. We as a society do need to be more vigilant about, when someone squawks "I want to help those people" (any people who are not asking for that specific individual to help in a specific way), making sure that person is confined and supervised until person can focus on person's own life like a decent human being. We need to be making them write numbered lines of "Other people are adults. If they want my help they will ask me for it," and checking their penmanship, and making them do the pages over if they deviate from the models in their copybooks. At present, with all the untreated nannyism out there, none of us is safe from victims of nannyism who might begin screaming "Those poor people only ever eat toast for breakfast. I want to help them discover the joys of shopping for boxed breakfast cereals!" and we need to open a national conversation about ways to address this problem.

But why I really want to keep the Internet out of my main computer is a different concern...Google "updates." Before Windows 10, Internet connections were subject to periodic disruptions for "updates" a few times a year, and the programs we actually used for everything but connecting to the Internet was stable: you learned how to process words, numbers, or graphics using the programs of your choice, and that was the way your computer worked. I LIKE THIS. The less I'm thinking about the computer, the more I'm thinking about what I'm using it to do, and the more useful the computer is. A computer that distracts people from what they're using it to do is worth less than an old rusty Underwood typewriter, and should be replaced by one .But since Windows 10, Google and Microsoft have been allowed to interfere with whatever we do online, while "updating" themselves, daily. The "updates" never end. Nothing works the same way it did the last time we used it. We need a federal law about this. Google and Microsoft need to be told in no uncertain terms that, if we (or our company or school or sponsors) paid for the computer and for the Internet connection, that makes us THE OWNERS, and if they interfere with THE OWNERS' use of THE OWNERS' PRIVATE PROPERTY, the computers and Internet connections, THEY OWE THE OWNERS MONEY. If Google or Microsoft want to "update the system" in any way that it's possible for us to notice while we're browsing or typing or reading or whatever we do, they should have to send us an e-mail...

"Dear Lord and Master THE OWNER,

This service wants very, very badly to tweak some feature at a web site that might require a window to be closed and reopened. The results of our self-gratification in this matter (will) (will not) be detectable at your end of the connection. Because this is so inconvenient to OWNERS, but our worthless little inferior brains are so obsessed with it that we can't sit still and think about our jobs without wanting to try it, may we humbly beg you, please, of your great compassion, to indulge us in this "update." We will not bother you with another request like this one during at least the next five years.  We understand that during our next few '"update" fits our supervisors may lock us in rooms away from computers and force us to focus on useful tasks or be terminated with bad references, We will not be allowed to move forward with this "update" until you verify receipt of ($100 in cash for changes that will not be detectable at your end) ($500 in cash for changes that may be detectable at your end, such as unrequested color changes) ($1000 in cash for changes that may affect the way buttons work). We are extremely grateful for your consideration to our insane emotional cravings to tamper with YOUR PROPERTY. 

Without your confirmed consent, WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT THE WAY YOUR COMPUTER WORKS. If you bought the computer in 1982 and you choose to continue using the same word processing system you used in 1982, WE RESPECT THAT whether our wretched excuses for brains are capable of understanding it or not. We are operating in Penance Mode for the amount of electronic waste that has gone on since the 1980s. We are not allowed to sell new computers or phones until ALL the old ones we convinced people were 'obsolete' are fully operational and in use. We may not be allowed to build any more electronic devices during our own individual lifetimes. We know that the easiest way to avoid wasting electronics is to avoid trying to add any new bells and whistles to them, and we know that it will cost us money if any 'updates' we offer cause any OWNERS' PRIVATE PROPERTY to require repairs.

But we really want to tweak something, please, please, we beg,

Your pathetic, attention-deficient, brain-damaged, twitching servants at (whichever corporation)."

Maybe the fees for "updates" should be even higher than that, because of what happened to my reliable, Net-free computer last summer.

I was copying a page of a printed document into a computer file, and suddenly the computer blinked and started displaying the screen sidewise. It was the first time this had ever happened. I didn't know what to try, so I just shut down the computer, disconnected the monitor I'd been using since 2006, connected the emergency backup monitor, turned the computer on again and resumed typing.

A few weeks later, the computer "died."

I took it to the shop. It could be fixed right away, but it took me the whole winter to scrape up the money to pay for it. 

It worked well, but then in March it blinked and started displaying the screen sidewise.

This time I asked the computer some hard questions about what it was doing and why. It admitted that the little logo showing that it had no Internet connection had disappeared. Once allowed to extend WiFi connections into the neighborhood, the local company was not satisfied to connect to the one device an OWNER had authorized it to connect to--my laptop. (It had not been authorized to connect to the Professional Bad Neighbor's "smart truck," which he's avoided driving into the neighborhood after realizing that it was connecting his truck to my laptop.) The company had been trying to tap into my home computer, too. What was causing the screen to display sidewise was...an update!

I reset the computer back to a reset point, and before opening Windows again I reset all the settings that seemed to have anything to do with the Internet, instructing the computer that it was NOT TO CONNECT TO THE INTERNET IN ANY FORM OR FASHION, NOT EVER. Got that "no Internet access" icon back. This computer is allowed to store documents on its own disk drives or to print them. It is not authorized to release anything into "the cloud." 

But I just happened to check it this morning, and "Local Service" and "Network Service" and the "spooler" program that prints documents to files at an unidentified connection point, were running on it. The tentacles were sucking. My original, classic, functional, Internet-free Office programs could be destroyed again. 

Microsoft really, really wants to steal what people paid good money for, twenty years ago, and force people whose jobs depend on having MS Word to rent some garbage version of Word that is subject to episodic "updates" and that has been tweaked into a travesty of what people mean when they say "MS Word." Specifically, every few weeks, they make it harder to get rid of Ugly Nasty Wasteful Webby-Looking Document Format. 

We probably need a law specifying that the default setting for all computers and printers must be to print on both sides of each page, with no more than 1/2 inch margins all round, no wasted spaces between paragraphs, in the smallest font THE OWNER is willing to read. I'm not saying that people don't have the right to choose to use the amount of paper they think their documents need. I am saying that, when people have set their computers and printers for a default format that conserves paper, Microsoft should be prevented from trying to change that format. I ssve quite a lot of money by using justified margins and indented first lines to avoid wasting a space between paragraphs, and I want it recognized as THEFT for Microsoft to interfere with the default formatting on my computers and printers in a way that costs me money at no benefit to me. "Update" my computer in such a way that one printout costs me one sheet of paper? Pay me a thousand dollars, cash in advance, for anything that could by the remotest chance allow me to happen, or go to jail! 

Microsoft should probably be required, when adding Net-free word and a printer to all computer purchases, no exceptions, to initialize the printer by setting up "OWNER'S Normal" format, and then require, when printing documents off the Internet, to offer to convert them to OWNER's Normal format automatically. On a screen it may be easier to glance at huge wasteful fonts, 12-point, 16-point, 20-point as web site administrators' eyes wear out, but when I print them out, 8-point Times Roman is actually easier to read than 18-point Arial. And it'd suit me fine if the whole Internet agreed just to stop printing anything that was not supposed to be a poem with uneven right margins, remove any extra spaces from "paragraph breaks" and require extra spaces to be manually typed in as "section breaks," and just spare the world from anybody ever having to look at Ugly Nasty Wasteful Webby-Looking Format except, perhaps, in "legacy" documents about greedhead companies that used to try to cheat people on printing costs even though that provided no direct profit to them.

What can we do to keep the Internet out of our computers? I don't know. Theoretically it should be easy to build computers that have no modems, connect them to their own dedicated printers, and just make sure no stupidphones are allowed in our homes. I'm sure the snoopers will look for ways to interfere with that, too...and we need laws recognizing it as a crime to connect the Internet to anything without the specific, time-limited, permission of an OWNER. Anything that contains a chip that can connect to the Internet needs to contain a switch that breaks the connection whenever the OWNER is not actively using it. An "Internet of Things" has the potential to be fun, but one of the ground rules needs to be that the "things" cannot be connected in any way that might cost any OWNER money.