Friday, February 14, 2020

Morgan Griffith on the Equal Rights Amendment

Comment below this message from U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

Friday, February 14, 2020 –                                
No Road Back for the ERA   
There are few things from 1972 that you could just pick up and dust off for use today. Clothes would be out of fashion if they even fit, cars would need plenty of maintenance and care to be driven, and disco music had not even made its way onto the music charts.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed Congress in that year! It proposes a solution to a problem that existed prior to 1972 and was being resolved with good legislation at the federal and state levels.
For an amendment to pass, the United States Constitution requires the approval of two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, followed by ratification in three-fourths of the states. It is not supposed to be an easy process, and only 27 amendments have been added since the Constitution’s adoption.
The ERA included a seven-year deadline for ratification. By the time it arrived in 1979, 31 states had ratified the ERA. Four others had ratified it but rescinded their ratifications by the deadline. By no measure had the required 38 states ratified the ERA.
Congress then passed an extension to 1982, although the extension only passed by a simple majority rather than the two-thirds vote required for constitutional amendments, rendering the extension legally very suspect. A federal district court in Idaho found the extension invalid in 1981.
In any event, no more states ratified the ERA by the 1982 deadline. The Supreme Court that year declared a lawsuit about the extension moot because the amendment had failed. The House of Representatives in 1983 tried to pass a new Equal Rights Amendment, another concession that the ratification process begun in 1972 was dead, but that new ERA did not attain the required two-thirds vote.
You don’t have to go back almost four decades to find Supreme Court justices who think the ERA is dead. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an ERA supporter, said on February 10, 2020, “I’d like it to start over,” noting the controversy with states adopting it late and others rescinding it before ratification.
Nevertheless, supporters of the ERA are plowing ahead. Virginia’s new Democrat majority in the General Assembly spent valuable legislative time on ratification, and the Democrat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution by simple majority to remove the deadline.
ERA proponents cite the 27th Amendment, which prohibited congressional pay raises from taking effect before an election of representatives had intervened. This amendment was proposed as part of the original Bill of Rights in 1789 and only ratified in 1992, but unlike the ERA, it never had a deadline.
Other amendments, such as the Eighteenth Amendment imposing Prohibition, did include a deadline but were ratified in time.
In light of these facts, the recent activity regarding the ERA is little more than a sideshow.
But what of Justice Ginsburg’s suggestion that supporters of the amendment start over?
The country is in a different place than it was in 1972, when the ERA passed Congress. It is certainly in a different place than it was in 1943, when the text was first introduced, or 1923, when the original ERA was proposed.
I am sympathetic to those who advocated the amendment prior to 1972. In the 1960s, my mother sought a loan for our house on Broad Street in Salem. The house I grew up in was at risk of being lost. At the time, she was ineligible because she was a divorced woman. A divorced man earning the same would have had no problem. That was wrong. Fortunately, a sympathetic loan officer checked the box that she was widowed, thus making her eligible.
By the 1970s, when she applied for a loan for a house on Main Street, that legal barrier had been eliminated by good legislation without the need for a constitutional amendment.
In just a few years, the situation had changed and my mother was treated more fairly. ERA supporters overlook our ability to make progress, whether by specific legal changes, cultural shifts, or other means apart from the drastic step of amending the Constitution.
Any injustices that exist today should be remedied by legislation. The ERA is a blunt instrument. Its very broadness could lead to applications that are far from promoting “equality.” For instance, some states that have included ERAs in their constitutions have been forced to support abortion. Courts could very well force the same outcome at the federal level.
Legally, the ERA has been long dead, and it should not be resurrected.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, or my Washington office at 202-225-3861. To reach my office via email, please visit

Editorial comment: I personally think the right to privacy should be enumerated in the Constitution, anti-abortion activity should focus on the men who cause abortions, and the problem with the E.R.A. back in its day was the military draft...but there is a certain bottom-line agreement here. I agree that constitutional amendments should be difficult to add. In the absence of an overwhelming popular demand, they are a boondoggle.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Book Review: Hiding Ezra and Wayland

Sad news, Gentle Readers. Goodreads is now hiding real individual book reviews just like Amazon. Amazon can get away with a little discrimination, because it's huge and commercial. Goodreads is neither.

Underwhelmed, to say the least, by typing in mini-reviews of these two novels-from-family-history, hitting "Post," and having the book's home page pop back onto the screen with a smarmy little message saying "Priscilla King, write a review of [the book I just did]!"--I don't like web sites that bark orders at readers, in any case...I'm going back to my own blog. Which Google, of course, will try to hide from people, and Goodsearch will try so hard to hide that it'll even redirect readers back to cached copies of the posts for which Blogjob paid. Goodheavens, the corporate would-be rulers of the world cried, we mustn't let people discover a blog that blows the whistle on sneaky corporate censorship on the Internet!

If the Internet doesn't pull a U-turn and require human review before even the ugliest porn images and hatespews can be censored, how long do you think it can last? Two years? Three? It's been fun, and I look forward to getting paid again for my special talent for creating decent-looking documents on manual typewriters...

Here, while it lasts, are full-length reviews of two short paperback novels. They can be read independently; they're best read together.

Author: Rita Sims Quillen

Title: Hiding Ezra

Amazon details:
  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Little Creek Books (February 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939289351

And the sequel: Wayland 

Amazon details:
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Iris Press (September 16, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604542543
I'm late to the Internet today, Gentle Readers, because I started reading Wayland and couldn't put it down. I already knew from Hiding Ezra that this author is not averse to making readers cry, so I had to find out what she was going to do with this study in Human Evil...

Rita Sims Quillen is best known as a poet. No worries for those who don't like poetry; these stories are not told in the sort of lush  prose that tends to be described as "poetic." Landscape descriptions like "She also loved to go to a cool, shady bend in the little branch [creek] below the church where the trees created a canopy like walls" are as "poetic" as it gets. These novels get full marks for clear, straightforward prose that's not wordy, sentimental, or difficult to read. In fact one reviewer has quoted the first sentence of Hiding Ezra as an example of a good opening line for a novel.

They read like family history. Hiding Ezra is in fact based on family history--an old journal kept by a soldier who deserted from the Army in order to help his last few friends and relative survive a set of epidemic diseases that swept our part of the world in the 1910s and 1920s. Wayland might easily be based on another old journal.

Hiding Ezra is about the oddly enjoyable summer Ezra Teague spends hiding in a cave, leaving game near the homes of people who leave bread and ammunition near the cave. It's also about his grieving sister Eva, his faithful sweetheart Alma, and all the other friends and relatives they lose to the epidemics. It's also about Lieutenant Nettles, a nettlesome outsider from Big Stone Gap who connects with his inner decent human being after exposure to the grieving and loving people of Wayland, Gate City, and Fort Blackmore.

Wayland was the real name of one of the little rural settlements outside Gate City up to the 1940s, when it changed its name to Midway. Gate City had changed its name a bit earlier--in the nineteenth century it was called Estillville. Moccasin Gap, on the other side of the gap in the mountains formed by the Big Moccasin Creek, also changed its name, in the 1950s, to Weber City--spelled Weber, as in German, but pronounced Webber, as in English--after a radio comedy about a new subdivision: "The characters were having so much fun with their Weber City, we thought we'd have one too." In these novels place names are used as they were at the time.

When I read this novel, I enjoyed its dramatic climax, but wondered why the denouement was so long and so sad. A more tactful reviewer posted online that she wanted the story to be even longer, to resolve the new issues the denouement raises for the characters. Readers be warned. The last few chapters of Hiding Ezra are the trailer for Wayland.

In between reading the two stories, I cried. I won't spoil the denouement, I think, by explaining that I don't cry about fictional characters. No, but once when the words "rock hall" triggered a memory an 85-year-old great-uncle said, "My sister and sister-in-law used to take bread to the fellows that hid in the rock house." (Actually he used their given names, and one of them was still alive to confirm his claim.) My mother wondered if he was remembering the story she'd heard about my great-grandfather leading a party of soldiers to the nearby "rock house," a cave big enough for people to camp in. No, he said, this was in his lifetime...but he was weak and never had much to say at one time, and never mentioned the cave story again.

In my family the young spoke more frankly to the old, and asked more questions, than in some neighboring families. Still, I never asked for more details about feeding the deserters in 1918. I knew the cave was real; my brother and I had been shown how to find it on condition that we not try to get inside it. I knew Great-Aunt belonged to a pacifist church, and her sons were conscientious objectors, but her husband, Grandfather's brother, was exempt from military service because he was a minister. The great-uncle who first mentioned the story had one of those given names that commemorate a family friend's given and family names: Otto Quillen.That's all I can add to the facts behind Hiding Ezra.

What made me cry was that this story made me realize how lucky the elders were. My grandfather and eight of his younger siblings lived to ages between 75 and 99. Many of their generation did not. Physically and emotionally my elders survived by keeping a healthy distance between themselves and any friends they'd had as children...and even in the 1960s I still grew up hearing "Don't get closer to town children than you can help, don't go into town unless it's necessary, don't EVER go into a swimming pool, don't go to other people's houses and if you do don't eat or take off your shoes..." Two generations later, my extended family are still known as a stand-offish bunch. Possibly the elders' losses of friends to the epidemics had something to do with that. I've heard a lot of rot about possible kinds of "hurt" might have caused our family subculture to be so clannish, but this insight rang true. And it did hurt, briefly, wondering how many school friends my elders had buried...Grandfather was one of fifteen children, eight of whom lived to ages between 75 and 99. In another family of fourteen, six children born before 1940 were still alive in 1970.

Anyway: Ezra Teague survives his adventure, but the epidemic diseases and early deaths aren't over. In Wayland Ezra has left his daughter for his sister to raise. Eva has indeed married Lieutenant Nettles, who is now a nice guy but still insecure enough to be impressed by a stranger's show of respect. That insecurity places the Nettles family at risk when the lieutenant offers a job to a "hobo" who calls himself Buddy Newman. Newman's real name is Deel, as in Scottish "de'il," and his character is a study in Human Evil. He wants to set people against each other, ruin the reputation of a pious but sex-starved old lady, and do even worse things to little Katie Teague.

The suspense of the story is finding out whether Newman's schemes will be foiled, and how, and by which of the decent local folk. There is an interesting and thoroughly local delineation of the relative vileness of Newman, an otherwise likable hobo who has an icky relationship with a teenaged boy, a rude drunk, and a murderer. Newman is a bigot, a pedophile, and also a murderer, but his evil runs deeper than that. (The narration of his evil won't embarrass readers in front of their children but the single telling details, when they emerge, may upset children.)

Did an ancestor really keep a diary that narrated such events? At least they're not the local pedophile story I always heard: it would have been fifteen or twenty years later when the man I heard described as "an escaped mental patient" did some physical damage to a local primary school girl. And I was glad. I did not want that girl, who survived but never married, to have been the real model for Katie. (Katie is characterized as pretty much the perfect niece in Eva's diary, but aunts know to allow for another aunt's auntly perspective. I think each of The Nephews is pretty much a perfect child, too, in his or her own way.)

Once again, after the main plot has resolved itself, the last two chapters go on. I didn't cry while reading Wayland but I found the denouement somewhat sad. Others may like it but I think they'll agree that, once again, the last chapters of Wayland are a trailer for another story.

I gave both books five stars on Goodreads for Keeping It Real. These are not just another stereotype of "Appalachia," the whole mountain range, from Georgia to Nova Scotia and possibly also Britain, confused with old pictures of the coal-mining town. Anything looks grim in a black-and-white photograph. In these books we see Scott County much closer to the way it must have been, between 1917 and 1930, to have become what it's been in Quillen's and my lifetime. I'm delighted.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Three-Colored Lawns as Evidence of Glyphosate Poisoning

Flu has made its rounds during the past three weeks. There was talk of closing the schools. A school in Tennessee really was closed for a day or two as all the teachers and students stayed home to sweat out the virus.

I had it, after what's become my usual fashion in the last ten years. Nobody else would have noticed. I could tell I had the virus because I felt chilly even in a room where people who hadn't been walking briskly outdoors were comfortable, because my eyes got tired easily, because I felt tired by ordinary routine chores or even by know, that fighting-the-flu feeling. It was not a stomach flu (norovirus is the one that always gives me noticeable symptoms). It did not affect the digestive process.

In my forties I had this feeling for hours, maybe a day, at a time. This winter I noticed it for about ten days. Is that because I'm now in my fifties? I don't think so. Up to about age thirty, as a young undiagnosed celiac, I did not shake off that fighting-the-flu feeling. I came down with the flu. Yes, and as a child, when I was forced to eat everything other people thought I needed to eat and bundle up when other people thought I needed to bundle up and go outside when other people thought I needed to go outside, I didn't even have separate cases of colds and flu during the winter; basically, if it was winter, I had a cold; the question was whether I was sick enough to distract the teacher when I went to school coughing and sneezing at people. Because the law required children to be sent to school on 145 days of the year, even when what they were learning at school was to stay home when they had a cold, and even when they had one...which was why, as a teenager who was a little healthier and finally able to enjoy some of my classes at school, I was still very keen on school choice.

I don't know about you, but when I talk about changes in the quality of my life during the past ten years, I'm old enough to be told "Well, of course, you're getting older." What is getting old, stale, and tired of living is that cliche phrase. We are all getting older. My Nephews are noticing the same sort of changes, and although not all of them have even reached their full height yet, fourteen years old is older than four. However, the changes in the quality of my life (1) correlate pretty precisely with my exposure to glyphosate, and (2) feel to me like being younger. Like aging backward. I was not a healthy person until age 30 so when I feel sick it brings back memories of youth or even childhood. Not the sort of childhood I wanted The Nephews to have.

There are some changes we can all expect to happen just because, after a certain age (it varies, and seems to be determined by genes), the human body's hormone balance changes. In between one range of birthdays we grow taller, then grow heavier, and the texture of our skins changes to allow the skin pores to become bigger, and some of those pores tend to clog up, etc., etc. In between another range of birthdays we start growing more white hair in place of black or brown or whatever it used to be, and the texture of our skins changes again to allow the skin to dry out and form wrinkles more easily, and those of us who don't get enough exercise find ourselves losing weight in the form of calcium from the bones, etc., etc. I am actually starting to grow white hair, although during glyphosate reactions it falls out so it's not showing yet. The other changes normally start later in my family; no doubt they'll come along in due time.

Illness is a separate thing from age. The two things are correlated to some extent because, the older we are, the harder it is for our immune systems to recover from some kinds of illness--notably flu. However, young people can be ill and old people can be healthy.

One thing that definitely cheats some people out of enjoying a healthy old age is confusing age with illness. No symptom of illness is a valid indicator of age, but the belief that low-grade chronic illness is part of "growing older" keeps some people from correcting imbalances in time to avoid more serious illness...and illness definitely makes the body "older," slower to recover, more vulnerable to the next attack on our health.

So I had this dopey-sneezy-sleepy-grumpy-bashful feeling for ten days, and finally shook it off. Then on Wednesday morning I woke up at two o'clock, sneezing and sniffling. Having been well hydrated to help keep off the flu, I didn't dry out enough to go back to sleep until after six. Then my brain kept remembering that six o'clock is time to get up, so I caught three separate ten-minute naps before it was time to go to work, still losing water as I trudged through the drizzle that didn't become a real rain. At least only water was draining out of my face (nose, and also eyes). When I used the toilet I lost about a tablespoon of blood.

Where had that come from, I asked myself. What had I eaten that might have been contaminated? I decided to stop sweetening my coffee at the cafe, just in case.

It was raining when I went home. I felt dopey, sleepy, sneezy, grumpy, bashful, and a few more little guys Disney overlooked: lazy, weary, whiny--and the last one wasn't "Doc," he was "Blocked." Disney mis-heard that one. He mis-heard "Happy," too, but this web site's contract bans mentioning that Dwarf's real name.

On Thursday morning the junior cats Silver and Swimmer came to breakfast, one with her left eye swollen hut, one with her right eye swollen shut. I was sniffling again, and had the predictable gas bloating that means the sniffles were caused by glyphosate vapors rather than a cold. The junior cats had, too. Poor little things, they probably remembered it from when they were kittens...that was how Swimmer got her name; she was trying to climb up my coat, wasn't strong enough, and fell into water. Most cats hate to swim, but they can.

When I came in on Thursday evening my nose was clear enough to notice just one whiff of a smell I've learned to loathe, as I walked past a house someone has been trying to sell. Then my nose clogged up again and all the water in my body started trying to pour out through my face, again.

Then I came home, and my Queen Cat Serena, who snuggled against me for many a kitten-nap but does not think snuggling befits a Queen...snuggled. Yes. Serena was snuggling. Serena didn't have a real fever but her nose was warmer than it ought to have been, from inflammation, from breathing toxic vapors. Serena wasn't feeling well either. Serena didn't seem positively ill during any of last year's glyphosate episodes. Well, she didn't seem ill enough to be taken to the vet yesterday, either, but she was not her tough and sassy healthy self, not the cat who always shrugs away any petting and tries to redirect me to throw or drag something she can chase. What was bothering her was closer than the railroad.

I went into my home office feeling not just grumpy, but seriously angry. I can be too soft when it comes to forgiving or even pardoning things people do to me, personally. Touching my loved ones is the way to see the fighting side of me. I know who poisoned Serena. I'd always thought of them as a nice family, before. I'd even presumed to pardon them for poisoning some valuable wineberry bushes, because the poor idjit had not looked them up but only asked the guys at the shop, who'd told him they were poisonous. However. I went into the office, closed the door, and I started praying out loud: "God, please heal these cats and all the other innocent animals this fool has poisoned, and transfer all of their suffering to him, now."

Even if I felt any compassion for people who torture other people's pets, I couldn't forgive them. That would not be possible. Only those animals and the God Who made them can forgive those who poison animals. And I hope to live to see those disgraces to humankind suffer much, much more than any individual animal...enough to balance all the misery of all the animals who did and did not survive.

I got up this morning knowing that it might be a good market day, but I had too much to do online. One job  to collect payment for, one to finish, one to negotiate. Cyberchores to wrap up. Yes, although the big glyphosate news story hasn't broken enough to be worth reporting yet, it's been a month; there ought to be a Glyphosate Awareness Newsletter. And also there had to be a blog post about what the cell phone's cheap little camera doesn't quite show you: the three-colored grass. No direct sunlight, no true colors in cell phone pictures. You might think this photograph of the lazy fool's side yard shows just the usual wintertime mix of tiny green plants and frozen dead ones. Look again. The colors are grayed, but you'll see that two of those grass stalks, and a few of the blades of crabgrass, have a much redder color than the other yellowish winter-killed grass...

What produces that three-colored grass? New, green grass (including crabgrass) pops up, even in January, whenever the temperatures are not actually below freezing. Idiot and his sons used, when his children were living in the house, to mow this sloping patch of yard every week. That was bad enough, because the slope is below a road and Bermuda grass will not hold a steep bank below a road in wet weather, as we have all seen along Route 23...but on Thursday, probably in the morning, one of this idiot family had swung by and thought, "I don't have time to mow but I don't want any prospective buyers to see unmown grass--horrors!--so I'll just spray poison on the whole lawn." During the next few hours, glyphosate had no effect on the yellow vegetation, which was already dead, nor on the new vegetation, which continued to pop up, but it dried out the stalks of those other little plants and some of the tips of the crabgrass, producing that brighter, redder color for a day or so before those plant parts will fade to the same color as the parts that died naturally.

What woke me in the night would have been glyphosate vapors drifting up from the railroad, which was lined with three-colored vegetation this morning too; the Southern Railroad Company always spray poison on the railroad in the middle of the night. What I smelled yesterday evening would have been a fresher application of glyphosate to the idiots' yard. Maybe it was even some "helpful" real estate agent, rather than the idiots themselves, who poisoned the yard; I wasn't watching. But that three-colored yard tells us all we need to know.

I'm not going to post the idiots' name here, but I am going to post the picture of the property they're trying to sell, so that they can keep paying taxes on it for another ten years or else pay somebody to take it over.

One thing we can do to build a healthier world, Gentle Readers, is to look for three-colored vegetation around houses for sale. People poison their yards because they think that will help them sell houses for higher prices. We can help correct that mistake. We can publicize the fact that these properties may contain residues of poisons that may make people sick for who knows how long, so their market value has dropped below zero. We can tell owners who are trying to unload real estate with three-colored grass around it, "I might take that place off your hands if you pay me a couple of thousand dollars an acre, just to pay taxes on it while it recovers from having been poisoned! It's not worth anything now, for sure. Maybe in ten years, if the soil is assayed and all that stuff you sprayed on it has completely broken down, it might be worth some money again. Maybe. It's a very risky investment."

Do not buy this property, Gentle Readers. Do not let anyone else buy it. That lovely, scenic little brook runs below the poisoned grass shown above. It is washing glyphosate residues, AMPA and other nasty stuff, down toward Tennessee now. Whoever owns it might be considered responsible for making people sick in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, or even Louisiana. Yes, the idiots who poisoned that grass need to pay anyone who takes the risk of owning that field now.

We should be snapping pictures of poisoned properties, whenever it's possible to snap a blurry image that proves that plants have been poisoned. We should be posting them on social media with tags that include #GlyphosateAwareness and the name of the nearest town, e.g. #GateCityVA, so people will know better than to pay for these properties.

Further along the road, before accepting a lift into town with a neighbor, I saw further evidence of glyphosate poisoning along the railroad. Some poor soul had spewed blood-flecked mocha-colored froth into a napkin and thrown the napkin out beside the road. Since it landed on the passenger's side, who knows whether the sufferer spewed upward or downward, but it had definitely come out of a human body. Maybe the body belonged to the fool who poisoned the lawn; I hope it did, rather than to some innocent child who waited for the school bus at a railroad crossing. It was too cold for frogs, dead or alive, or for birds to be flying and singing. I did not see a dead bird...yet. At least the robins I've often seen flitting over the lawn photographed above are probably still further south.

I came in, sat down, bought coffee, went to the bathroom, and instead of anything a healthy person would see floating around a water-flush toilet, what I flushed away this morning was about a tablespoon full of blood and little separate semi-solid blood clots. That, too, is now on its way to promote the growth of cancers, the loss of valuable native animals and birds and insects, and the growth of Bermuda grass and Johnson grass and Spanish Needles and kudzu and very little else, in Tennessee. Sorry, Tennessee readers, that's what youall get for having sewer systems so you can keep those nasty old water-flush toilets. Nobody in Virginia would be dropping poisoned blood into your water supply if we could help it. 

Maybe it's a symptom of glyphosate poisoning, too...I think people need to have the evidence of the harm glyphosate does shoved in their faces. I snapped a picture of blighted grass. Maybe I should have snapped one of the blood clots. Maybe I should have saved the actual blood clots, themselves, and thrown them at the idiot's white door frame. Maybe what worked for the homosexual lobby is what it will take to convince Americans to stop the insanity. 

There is not, there never was, and there never will be a "weed" as ugly as glyphosate. Friends don't let friends spray poisons...especially on yards they are hoping to sell.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Postal Worker Fails Test of Mental Competence

The test of mental competence given to a geriatric patient with whom I stayed included an item: "What would you do if you found a sealed envelope with a new, uncancelled first-class postage stamp on it, lying on the ground?"

The answer was, of course: "Put it in a mailbox. The mail must go through."

If the stamp had been cancelled and the letter dropped or misdelivered, the correct answer would have been "If unable to take it to the person to whom it was addressed, send it back through the mail."

It seems my town now has a mail carrier who would not have passed the test of competence. Maybe this mail carrier has early Alzheimer's Disease.

My neighborhood does not have mail delivery direct to our doors. We still have the old Rural Route boxes, out on a rail beside the highway, and those of us who ever receive anything but bills and junkmail have post office boxes in town.

As mentioned in a previous post, I've been involved with the Encourage a Legislator campaign where we pray for a legislator outside our own districts during the General Assembly Session, along with our own, and send bland, encouraging, church-lady-style postcards to the one outside our districts. Political messages go to our people in Richmond. Encouraging words go to someone else's.

It's not gone well for me in other years. The post office is all the way on the other end of town; I don't usually walk out there. There aren't any big public mailboxes along my route. Some years I've not even had the money to buy six or eight postage stamps. Last fall I e-mailed the program coordinator that, if the Concerned Women could find enough other people to send out these postcards, that would be the best thing, as my income was still preposterously low and I didn't want to promise to buy postage. She e-mailed back that the organization would send postage.

So I received a packet of postcards with stamps and resolved to pray for the Delegate assigned to me--that was another post. And, of course, dropped the postcards into a Rural Route box I passed and raised the little flag on the side.

The first time, the card was apparently mailed.

The second time, it lay in the box all week, until I opened the box to drop the third card in and found the second one still lying there, with a note stuck to it, saying "This mailbox is not serviced."

I thought about putting it in a different Rural Route box; looked in a few and saw letters inside. Then I thought that the recipients of those letters might think the card had been misdelivered to them.

I don't think the U.S. Postal Service should continue to employ people who don't know that, when you find a bit of mail with an uncancelled postage stamp on it, wherever you find it, the correct thing to do is mail it.

A Ship Named for a Pedophile?

Seriously, Gentle Readers.

The U.S. Navy has announced plans to name a battleship after Harvey Milk.

That Harvey Milk.

He was a trailblazing homosexual activist, which some of you may think was a good thing, and he succeeded as an "out" homosexual because he was competent at his job, or jobs, which was definitely a good thing. He served honorably in the U.S. Navy.

But hello...can the Navy not think of other people who were competent at their jobs, who served in the Navy, and who were not child molesters?

In Harvey Milk's time the homosexual lobby hadn't grown big enough to dare to separate themselves from pedophiles; they took whomever they got. They got many same-sex pedophiles. They didn't repudiate the National Association for Man-and-Boy Love until, what, 1990?

To be fair, in Harvey Milk's time mainstream society had not reached a consensus about the precise definition of child abuse, either. People were more willing to believe that a sexual act involving a teenager had been non-consensual, but in some states consenting teenagers could marry each other, or older people, at thirteen.

Like a lot of "gay" men, Milk didn't publicize his sexuality unil he was fairly well settled in his career (and out of the Navy). When he did, all of his known boyfriends were younger than he. At least one was only sixteen. 

If you thought Judge Roy Moore's merely touching teenaged girls, when he was thirty and still single, was more discrediting than his "rogue judge" reputation, then to be consistent you must agree that Mayor Harvey Milk's having a sixteen-year-old boyfriend, when Milk was over thirty, is also discrediting.

Personally, I can't imagine what anyone was thinking--even if they knew nothing about the man's life--to propose naming a battleship Milk.

Unfortunately the petition linked below doesn't offer a place for those signing it to nominate other Navy veterans who weren't pedophiles (and whose names would look less ridiculous on a battleship than "Milk"). This web site, however, does. Please name your favorite Navy veterans and tell their stories below. Disqus will give you about 200 words. 

(This link will eventually expire.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Virginia Citizens Defense League Lobbying on Monday

Fellow Virginians, do you want your daily newspapers reporting a murder a day? Mostly young men, mostly shot in the back, as happened in Washington during the gun ban?

Do you want to take advantage of the January Thaw, with the opportunities this year's expected long thaw is offering to get away from farm responsibilities? Pay someone to feed the animals and off you go?

Do you like Richmond? As a day trip destination, I mean. Personally, if I were going to spend a day or two in Richmond I'd want it to be during the January Thaw. I'd pack a trench coat, unlined, and expect to leave it in the van.

If you do not want to read about our young men being shot in the back on a daily basis, do want to travel during the thaw, and would like to see Richmond at the time of year when the climate is likely to be most bearable, you might want to join a group called the Virginia Citizens Defense League and go and visit your Delegate and State Senator on Monday.

The whole thing, I am credibly informed, is being staged for maximum TV drama. Expect to stand in line outside, waiting your turn to go in and chat with your people (or their office staff) for a few minutes, while remembering that others are waiting. The idea is to show the world what a well spoken, nicely if casually dressed, Perfect Virginia Lady or Gentleman you are. The official purpose of the trip is to walk in and say, probably to the office staff, "How do you do? I'm (Priscilla King) from (Gate City); I'm here to demonstrate support for weapons right with the Virginia Citizens Defense League," leave a business card if you carry them, and then have time for sightseeing and socializing. That's all.

The e-mail they sent out was worth reading, even though I trust Terry Kilgore already knows where people in Gate City stand on this issue. I considered reposting the whole e-mail here...No. You should visit their web site, get to know the organization, and consider the networking potential before you decide whether or not to go to Richmond. Swapping cards with these people might be worth the trip.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Virginia General Assembly Is In Session

...And it opened yesterday, my first day back in town, and I didn't make the time to post anything. I've not even read my men's bills yet. I had cherished an idealistic hope that, given the proposed gun regulations and the number of people who can be counted on to oppose those, this would be another quiet year when the General Assembly could get along just fine without us bloggers nipping at their heels.

No such luck.

Once again, this web site is officially following and praying for three men (yes, all of them are husbands and fathers) in the General Assembly. Fellow Virginians, I know some of you can do this too; it's a safe, friendly way to engage with the process. Christian women, specifically, join a project called "Encourage a Legislator," which sends out postcards expressly for the purpose of sharing non-political encouraging words with a Delegate or State Senator other than your own. This person is not there to represent you, so you can't tell him or her how to vote; you just pray for the person, that s/he will be blessed with wisdom and courage and good health and so on, and let the person know that Christians across the state are watching him or her.

Out here on the point of Virginia, this web site is represented by Delegate Terry Kilgore (House District 1) and State Senator Todd Pillion (Senate District 40). Links for them should work if you're in Virginia, and should track which part of Virginia you're in.

Delegate Kilgore of Gate City has been representing us, or at the very least our Republican majority, quite well for many years. While the bills he's proposed this year are (I note with great relief) of more concern to other people than they are to me, legislators' commendations of their constituents are always fun to read... .

Fiscal conservatives's eyebrows may rise when they read the bill of which he's listed as a chief co-patron. It doesn't raise taxes, but it does allow local governments to raise taxes. I will forward concerns from readers in other districts if they are expressed in a parliamentary way. None of us is getting any younger and the General Assembly always guarantees sufficient stress at best.

About Senator Pillion of Abingdon, so far, I can say that he's been very "conservative" in spending money to file proposed legislation: .

The object of this web site's special concern this year is Delegate Ronnie Campbell of Raphine. Reading his collected works at is likely to motivate this web site's original primary readership to pray earnestly for him. Notable for its unacceptibility to all True Greens and Libertarians is his proposal to allow local jurisdictions to order people who don't even live in cities to "mow grass and weeds."

Hello? Most of Virginia is not flat land, and you do not ever want to see mown grass on a steep slope. Mowing grass on a steep slope...

* guarantees erosion

* promotes the growth of the invasive nuisance called Bermuda grass (and other things prohibited under this web site's contract)

* encourages the unwary to build new dependencies on poisons like glyphosate and dicamba, not to mention "fertilizers" that can build up to toxic excess, and ultimately replace lovely native plants with more Spanish Needles, Johnson grass, and kudzu

* makes it more difficult for glyphosate-sensitive people to find and cultivate survival food in their back yards, which is certainly what's keeping me alive at this point, when nearly all commercially grown fruit and vegetables are poisoned

* disproportionately increases the burden of land ownership on the elderly and on young working parents, to no particular gain for anybody

* reduces much-needed biodiversity and "wild" land

* promotes un-neighborly meddling and petty personal harassment

* and also looks ugly...we don't need more Astroturf!

Am I ever praying that God will add an extra boost to the amount of wisdom the General Assembly should share with this gentleman, by killing this bill. (He proposed a similar bill last year. They killed it.)

I think we need a ban on any local requirements that anybody maintain a "mown lawn" even in a city. Native plants are much better. I don't know that we need to empower government to ban the bad habit of monocropping for Bermuda grass to maintain that Astroturf look, but we certainly don't need to tolerate any encouragement of this practice.

Long-term readers will remember the intensity with which Americans rejected the foreign-born land-grab proposal known as "Agenda 21." The United Nations disowned this agenda, but that in no way prevents people who supported it from insinuating little tendrils of it, like those first little sprouts of poison ivy in early spring, back into the edges of even Republicans' philosophical "lawns."

Their proposals sound so reasonable. So nice.

Scott County unanimously opposed the whole idea of a local zoning ordinance, ten years ago, because we opposed the kind of discrimination against low-income families that is involved in things like banning trailer houses. (Remember, "Agenda 21" was all about promoting all kinds of bans and regulations that would force all but the richest to give up owning private homes and land, allowing greedheads to take over large amounts of real estate whose owners refuse to sell it.) Our county board of supervisors assured us that nothing in the ordinance would keep anyone from putting a trailer house on their rental property and renting it out.

Yet, with some dismay, I already hear of people on town councils giving in to what sounds like a harmless reasonable proposal to boost town and city incomes by...banning trailer houses.

"But the reason why these people want trailer houses is that they don't have to pay property taxes on them." Once trailer houses are set up as permanent residences, not in camps but on privately owned land, what in existing state law prevents them from being taxed in the same way other houses are? Not that I think we need more taxes on more kinds of property; I think we need more frugal budgets. But the people who are really interested in land grabs don't want to think about removing a tax loophole that might be discouraging people from improving their trailer houses. Their real goal is to put more people out of their homes!

I already hear of people on town councils wanting to segregate "high-end" from midrange or minimum-investment businesses.

"But high-end businesses generate more profit and pay more taxes and allow cities to do more for the people." Maybe so, but do the people really need higher taxes to enable more dependency, or do they need more encouragement to keep themselves off welfare through low-investment businesses?

In Washington, D.C., in the 1980s, we learned the hard way about gun bans, and we also learned the hard way about how those nicely-nice proposals to yuppify neighborhoods create what I've always hoped would remain a unique kind of homelessness. We need to be vigilant about allowing this kind of ideas to spread into Virginia. One of Montgomery County, Maryland, is probably more than all the world needs.

Maybe what we really need is legislation to establish a Free Enterprise, American Way, zone including all of Virginia under one nice, clear, simple rule: If you own land, you have no right to use it in a way that does harm to other people--which would include putting a chemical plant in the middle of a residential suburb, or keeping hogs in a pen adjacent to a restaurant. But those other people have no right to object to anything you do with that land that does not materially harm them.

Under that kind of clearheaded legislation, neighbors could petition a city government to impose a fine on people who fail to allow native plants to displace any lingering messes of Bermuda grass, or who persist in spraying the kudzu their "weed killers" have nurtured with things whose vapors kill songbirds--but they could not complain about native plants. Or trailer houses. Or the colors of other people's paint...I suppose Reston has a right to exist somewhere, but I'm not at all sure that it ought ever to have existed in Virginia.

Remembering that Agenda 21 also called for Delegate Campbell's and my generation to die younger than we grew up expecting we would, I urge Virginia's Republicans to be as vigilant about these sneaky little appeals to whatever little furtive traces of greed and snobbery they possess, as they are about the attention-grabbing gun ban. Not that gun bans are a safe experiment, as far as human lives are concerned. But land-grabbing is not a safe experiment either. 

Those who choose are welcome to join my prayer for the Virginia General Assembly for 2020:

Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon You, and we beg the blessing of Your guidance to preserve our common wealth from the influence of malevolent patrons who gamble on our shortsightedness.

Help our elected representatives to remember, always, that individual freedom and accountability only to You are ideals that have served us well in this world, while European notions about "gentility," dependency on government, and concern for appearance had destructive effects on all those who succumbed to them.

We ask Your particular blessing on Delegate Campbell, who is not a young man but is new to the General Assembly, and on Delegate Kilgore, whom You have placed in a position to guide and correct him.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Invitation to Gloat: The Goodreads Challenge

The challenge was to read 300 books and post something about each one on Goodreads in 2019.

I read the 300 books--and more, easily, because Goodreads counts recipe and pattern books. (And doesn't everybody reread the whole pattern book while they're knitting their version of a printed pattern? I knitted a lot of printed stitch patterns into original, one-off blankets in 2019.)

But I made the time to post mini-reviews of only 224.

Because I'm still on Goodreads and I still want to encourage those of the writers who are still alive (and online), I will eventually make the time to post about the other books I read in 2019. Unless I've reread them in 2020, I will list the date read as 2019. Eventually my Goodreads list will show more than 300 books read in 2019.

But the challenge included posting the reviews...therefore, I failed.

If this year's challenge is still open, I plan to enter again. 300 books will be read, whether or not I'm able to publish reviews of them...I am still hoping to get back to the Amazon links and direct sales through this web site, but that'll take a new bank account as well as a new laptop...sigh.

If I fail again, I fail again.

If people want to gloat because they finished their challenge, no problem; I'll be glad they're glad.

People may or may not want to know what happened in the last few online days in December. Norwalk Flu is what happened. I missed some online time in the last week before Christmas when I had it. The cafe was scheduled to be open half the day on Saturday and on Tuesday. I was mulling, "Which day should I use for Goodreads?" The cafe is, technically, the front room of the owners' home. They had relatives visiting. One of these relatives is a fellow celiac. In order to keep any lingering virus I had well away from that person, I took the laptop home early and dug into my holiday projects.

No Internet. Maybe half a dozen phone conversations. No Glyphosate Awareness...will I ever be glad when that's finished! Some visiting with friends and family, and lots of time for writing and knitting and housekeeping. It was like the pre-Internet era, only without the incessant clatter of the manual typewriter and the stacks of wasted paper. I enjoyed every minute of it.

It cost me a writing job to which I was really looking forward, too. Wail! Moan! Whine!

It was a lovely Net-free winter break, even so.

Meanwhile, I have a Goodreads review of a new book to expand and improve for an actual paying magazine.

Status Update: I'm Back

After two and a half pleasant weeks offline, I'm back. I have 24 pages of e-mail to sort through...and that's after checking the real mail.

Meanwhile, a funny thing happened on the way in, worth sharing...

I was walking briskly along, hauling this poor old laptop on my shoulder, watching where I was going in my astigmatic way. Generally my left eye stays focussed in such a way as scan the road ahead and my right eye stays focussed in such a way as to see what's immediately under my feett.

This leaves several yards of middle distance of which my vision, unless I take time to refocus on something in that distance, is blurry. Mostly what's going on at that distance is that vehicles are moving, and I move further to the side of the road as indicated.

Occasionally, two or three times this morning because the rain had just stopped and people were just going out to do their morning errands, a person speaks to me from that distance. What I see of this person is a human-shaped blur. The voice is what tells me whether it's male or female, whether it's friend, nuisance, or stranger.

So this blur said "Hi," and the voice told me it was a male stranger, so I said "Hi" back and kept walking.

I usually do say "Hi" back to people who do this kind of tedious greeting, or greeding, routine, if only because that's the quickest way to brush them off. Since I have the type of aging ears to which my voice sounds louder than it does to other people, and I don't intend to shout, people don't always hear me say anything.

Extroverts have this sick, crazy need to assure themselves that, even though they have nothing to say to each other and no reason not to ignore each other, they're not ignoring each other in a hostile way. A lot of hostility seems to fill in the gap where a positive purpose ought to be in the extrovert mind. Yes, I do feel that throwing them the scrap of attention indicated by saying "Hi" is a bit like bowing to Haman, but I suppose they deserve a little crumb of a treat for waiting till they get into speaking distance and speaking quietly rather than screaming across the street. (I do ignore people who scream, or who blurt out names--whosever names those might be--in a, not really hostile, but actively discouraging way.)

Anyway this particular man apparently felt a need to prove he was a vague long-ago acquaintance rather than a street terrorist, because as I kept walking away and his voice told me he kept walking in the other direction, he said something like "I'm John Doe! Used to be married to Jane!"

And I caught myself thinking, "Mercy, Lord. Does this fellow now expect I'm going to recognize him? Is that why Jane left him?" (I don't know or care why they separated. It's none of my business.)

I caught myself trying to remember the visual impression I had of this John Doe. Well, he seemed to be of average size. I did not actually see his skin color, much less eye color, or whether or not he had hair or was wearing a hat. His shape suggested he was wearing a jacket and trousers, but leather jacket or denim jacket, jeans or khakis, boots or shoes? I had no idea. If he'd needed a witness to something that had just taken place, I would've been the world's worst. All I saw of him was an average-man shape with the light behind it. No details whatsoever.

So now what happens? If he's a nice quiet introvert with a life, he'll get on with his life. Good. If he's a tiresome extrovert, he'll start fretting about whether I was ignoring him in a hostile way and how to reassure himself that he's taking control of that situation. Not good.

I really think we need a solid rule of etiquette that, if you don't have something to say that makes it worth stopping and focussing your attention on each other, you don't speak.

But the funny part is that probably 95% of all humans, including visually impaired humans who imagine that all people with 20-20 vision see everything in detail right away, would imagine that I'd actually seen this man's face--and I didn't see his face at all. I saw that he was moving in my direction, which would have been hard to do without its having been possible for me to have seen his face if I'd stopped and focussed my eyes on it...but I did not do that.

If asked to testify in court whether he was Black or White, I would have had to say that I believe that I did look at his face once, twenty-five or thirty years ago, and if he's the same person I believe him to be then he's White--but I did not actually see that.

Such is life with astigmatism.

If you know any of the people who fret about what it "means" that someone didn't speak to them on the street, you might do people with astigmatism the courtesy of reminding those people of the possibility that those who don't speak to them may not see them.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Bonus Rant: Compensation for Glyphosate-Addicted Farmers

A corporate shill on Twitter was asking for this rant. It needs to be out there, and it's too long for Twitter...

The shill asked how people calling for a glyphosate ban plan to "compensate" glyphosate-dependent farmers who can already predict exactly how much money they expect to lose, when we get that ban on the violent crime of recklessly endangering human lives by spraying poison on food crops, which there's no excuse for our not having had a hundred years ago.

Let's see. Compensation for the poisoners? They should be on their knees praying that outraged humankind do not start thinking about compensation. There's not that much gold in California, not that many diamonds in South Africa, and not that much oil under the Arab Peninsula. Compensation for all this Reckless Endangerment just might, reasonably, be taken out of these farmers' shabby carcasses.

Start, of course, with compensation for the celiacs of this world. Cancer patients deserve to collect first because most of them have less time to live, but celiacs have been suffering longer. And how exactly do you compensate people for celiac reactions? For truly amazing amounts of time, celiac reactions are surface wounds, only on internal surfaces. Irritations. Gross-outs. Strips torn off your body, repeatedly. The fact that the body is "resilient" and can become strong and healthy, when it stops being continually shredded, doesn't make the shredding process pleasant. Poisoners have been shredding my body for the past ten years. For that compensation might be possible, I suppose, except that I don't particularly want to have to go out and tear a strip off Werner Bauman every day; I have no reason to imagine that other celiacs do, either.

But although glyphosate has a unique, unmistakable, predictable effect on celiacs, its effects are by no means limited to celiac reactions, or the pseudo-celiac reactions glyphosate has produced on literally thousands of non-celiac people. When you mess with the "internal flora" of anything in the whole kingdom of fauna, there's no way of knowing what kind of harm you're not doing. Glyphosate does not predictably "cause cancer" but it does, for sure and certain, aggravate cancer. And arthritis. And multiple sclerosis. And asthma. And sickle-cell anemia. And Lyme Disease. And mononucleosis. And flu, like the Norwalk-type virus that's been ruining this Advent season for my neighborhood. And measles, as in that last news item I retweeted a few minutes ago: 24 deaths and 20 critical-case hospitalizations is not a reaction you'd find to un-aggravated measles in a population the size of Samoa's. And every other ill the flesh is heir to, including mood disorders and thus, arguably, including the misery people feel if they happen to have broken legs while exposed to glyphosate.

It's a funny thing about me, personally. I'm a lot easier to negotiate with when damages have been limited to me, personally, and not to people who might no longer be in a position to negotiate for themselves. My definition of "people" is not species-specific, either, just as glyphosate's damage has never been species-specific. I'm a lot more likely to stay angry, less likely to forgive, on someone else's behalf than on my own.

So we're talking about animals who've suffered and died, some horribly--or didn't. Regular readers remember more cases (yes, Mogwai's "cat mono" developed overnight into "cat polio" during a glyphosate episode), but I'll limit this discussion to Jenny Wren, who'd built a nest near enough the house that I could look in and see one tiny healthy wren egg before the poisoning episode, and then, the next day, no new egg, and then, the next day, a little irregular lump of calcium in the nest below which Jenny Wren lay dead. That lump was not as big as the end of my finger but, for something that had had to pass through the back end of a wren, it was monstrous. When she fell out of her nest Jenny would have fainted from loss of blood; no cat had touched her body. We are talking about passing a cinderblock through the back end of a man.

I said nothing about either "possible" or "desirable." The idjit asked about compensation.

Then we have to consider the land. The idjit seemed to be tweeting from, spare us all, Australia. The country where glyphosate spraying has been added to other ecological abuses, on top of a naturally warmish and dryish climate, with results reportedly including "flame tornados" sucking fire hoses out of men's hands and burning them. Many people believe that those who've used glyphosate since 2018 are heading for something like a "flame tornado" in the next world, but is it even possible to "compensate" for having contributed to one in this world? Personally I don't even want to think about a "flame tornado," much less about any way those who've contributed to one might compensate.

So let's just say that I don't want to think too much about compensation for those who've sprayed glyphosate on anything. Let's just say that a lot of them are, like that former school groundskeeper in California, already dying, and Bayer should pay whatever their nurses and survivors agree to settle for and shut up, now.

Because I am a Christian, I'll consider--although if this were to have to be negotiated in court I'd think long and think hard--the following gesture of superhuman generosity: If I were the judge, I would consider...letting the glyphosate-addicted farmers live.

I want them to abandon all claims on any land. I want them to have to pay decent, ethical, sustainable farmers a fee per acre to reclaim their land. I want them to be packed into "efficiency apartments" in cities, fed on the poisoned rubbish with which they're clogging food banks across America until it's used up, and forced to do the jobs "U.S. citizens won't" do, for a dollar an hour, to pay for that. I want them to be treated like violent criminals for the rest of their lives, because if people have continued spraying glyphosate since 2018, violent criminals is exactly what they are.

But I would consider giving up the claim to proper compensation, just because the only compensation these fools deserve would be too horrible to think about. Punitive damages should of course be imposed, but don't let any glyphosate farmers get any ideas about any number of millions of dollars amounting to real compensation.

Never in this world or the next will you really have any hope of compensating for the harm you have already done, poisoners. You can hope for pardon, but anything in the way of compensation will be payable from you, to us your victims.

Glyphosate Awareness Newsletter 10: Not Over, but Beyond Chat

Here's the flu-delayed Glyphosate Awareness Newsletter. There will be more of them in the new year, God willing, but they may or may not come out weekly. We are so winning...that the flow of news is actually slowing down!

The Glyphosate Awareness Newsletter is published irregularly by Priscilla King, c/o Boxholders, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia, 24251-0322. It’s available free, in plain text as an e-mail or attachment. Printed or audiocassette versions are available for the cost of production. (Audiofiles are free to anyone who can convince me that s/he is blind and can’t read a document aloud using widely available software.) Reprinting, recirculating, and sharing this information at the reader’s own expense is encouraged, provided that all sources of material are credited.


Far too many animals (and people) had to suffer while Bayer/Monsanto were allowed to squall for a theoretical explanation of the most obvious fact about glyphosate: Whatever your reactions to this poison have been, they weren’t identical even to your close relatives’ reactions. If you noticed your reactions before someone steered you to a newsletter or web page that explained them, you probably heard “You’re the only one who’s ever reacted to glyphosate THAT way,” and possibly “Are you SURE it’s glyphosate and not something else? Let’s make you sick another hundred times so we can be SURE!”—and you might even have believed the implication that your reaction was “all in your mind.”

It’s not. At least, it’s not in the part of your mind that’s based directly in your brain. Observing how many of our emotional reactions are actually triggered by intestinal reactions, some researchers have described the findings summarized at this link as evidence that part of our minds really are based in our, well, intestines.

What happens when the “intestinal flora” inside animals, and humans, are unbalanced? A multitude of different things can happen, depending on what the individual’s balance was at the beginning and what’s changed by destroying some of those “flora.” That is how it is, indeed, possible that a poison that doesn’t directly affect any human body process enough to produce one consistent reaction can disrupt the balance of our intestinal flora enough to make us sick in more than a dozen different confirmed ways. That’s why, even if you have one consistent and unmistakable reaction (as celiacs do), you might have other reactions to some glyphosate exposures and not others; it’s why glyphosate may seem to have no effect on one individual, trigger mild allergy reactions in another, upset another’s digestion, lower another’s immunity, make another “sleepy” (with kidney-related narcolepsy), another hyperactive, and yes, if anybody has any kind of slow-growing cancer or susceptibility to cancer, it can really bring out that cancer—in theory any cancer.

I don’t normally hang out with coal miners, but I happened to find a few of them talking about it recently. “I ought to use up the ‘Roundup’ I have, but now that I know it’s going to give me cancer...” These are guys who know how to read, but don’t read if they can avoid it. They trust TV commercials more than they trust web sites. It’s to laugh, or cry...anyway, glyphosate might or might not give any of these men cancer. (Or his wife, children, parents, or the visiting relative from town to whom he gives a bag of vine-ripened poisoned tomatoes.) Glyphosate is probably more likely to kill us in other ways first...but it can promote cancer’s “effort” to kill us, among all those other things, because it doesn’t directly affect anything going on in our own cells. It affects the vegetative lives of all those single-celled organisms that are symbiotic and/or parasitic inside us. And we may not notice that effect at all one day, and it might kill us on another day.

I salute those misleading TV commercials run by sharky ambulance-chasing law firms that probably aren’t offering people their fair share of any class-action suits they’re organizing. If they stop the coal miners poisoning their visiting relatives from town, all to the good!


We need to keep building awareness in St. Louis that Bayer could actually survive, and even grow—providing more and better jobs for Missourians—IF Bayer can break away from the bad old idea of spraying poisons over the land, and move forward into twenty-first-century ways to control “pest” species. Think nanotechnology! Think robots! Bayer could be building robot wasps that kill mosquitoes, not to mention robot edge steamers that kill weeds growing into roads by watering native plants in their proper place, and robot cutworms that clean weeds out of wheat fields. They have the money. They can train and pay the scientists. They can assign Missouri laborers to safer, healthier jobs!

Present at the trial and photographed for public identification was Hugh Grant, the Monsanto decision maker blamed for the original marketing of this poison. Have you ever seen an easier face to hate? Call Central Casting, ask for an evil-looking face; that’s what you’d get.


I can’t blame the Twit known as Russ Jensen for publishing a; I was tempted by that venue myself—but I don’t like it.

For one thing, although a circulates in the name of some individual or other, individuals don’t actually produce or edit it. Those links are put in by the staff (or maybe only their computers) in Liechtenstein. Knowing that e-friends’ “Papers” are actually assembled by bots makes it easier to waste no time reading them.

For another thing...Russ Jensen’s purpose is to market dietary supplement pills. Obviously glyphosate reactions do use up certain nutrients our bodies need, but hello? Supplement pills have to be digested by the parts of our body that are being destroyed by glyphosate, that are passing ordinary food through, churning it up with blood and froth, but not breaking it down? Swallowing supplement pills during a glyphosate reaction guarantees very expensive toilet water and offers us the hope of raising very healthy sewer animals. The pills may or may not dissolve into powder before they land in the toilet, but they’re unlikely to be absorbed into our blood.

There will be a time, eventually, when our bodies are able to absorb nutrients of which glyphosate reactions have depleted us. When that time comes, Russ Jensen’s supplements may help some people, perhaps many people. They are unlikely to help anyone very much now.

I think Russ Jensen probably means well, but there’s no way Glyphosate Awareness can endorse his “Paper.” I wish he’d give it a different name.


Austria, the scene of The Sound of Music, has seen the light and declared a ban on glyphosate. Like so many other places, they’re now being told they won’t be able to enforce the ban. Thailand, likewise. In the U.K. the bans are being declared, but then declared unenforceable, city by city. I’ve lost track.

What’s to be learned? Governments do have some legal right to tell the greedheads who want to continue spraying glyphosate that they’re committing Reckless Endangerment and are subject to fines, prison terms—and personally I’d have no problem with hangings, either. But they don’t have the fortitude to do that on their own. Governments depend on the consent of the governed, whether or not they’re subject to constitutions that include those words. They don’t dare interfere with market forces, whether or not they officially claim to have or want free markets. That’s why, although looking to government for big, fast, symbolic help may appeal to some of us, it’s not enough. All birds need right wings as well as left wings to fly.

We can blame Prez Trump for telling Thailand that they’ll bloodywell (and we do mean bloody well) swallow the poisons U.S. factories spew out, and like’m, if they want exemption from Trump’s tariff. Knowing that the fact that literate people like us despise Trump has consistently been Trump’s, well, trump card, we can despise him as loudly and publicly as we want. Trump won’t care, because he’s been casting himself as a victim of our elitist bigotry since he was half-grown; his supporters won’t care, because they blame everything Obama and the Bushes got wrong on people like us and our elitist bigotry; and we’ll look silly or partisan if, to our denunciations of Trump, we don’t add denunciations of President Obama, on whose watch the dumping of glyphosate directly onto grains, nuts, and beans, between picking and selling, began. And there’s no need to make ourselves look even worse by denying that the fact that we read things printed in English makes us, to some extent, part of an elite class. It does. We are. Deal with it. (And it behooves us to consider that Trump is an old man, and his attitude in that photo is typical of a kind of senile stubbornness that goes with a glyphosate-aggravated mental decline. Instead of saying “Bad, nasty, ugly Trump,” we might try “Poor old Trump, God help him.”)

Some of us have been told that market forces are as huge and uncontrollable as governments. Technically that’s true; if people who hear us say that glyphosate is harmful to them, too, were finding that it’s good for them, we’d have no chance to take control of market forces. But since in fact glyphosate is harmful to everyone, in one or a few of fifteen (or fifty, or hundreds if we count each kind of cancer and each infection separately) different ways...we have information that others can easily prove for themselves, and we own market forces. We’re already in the saddles of horses that are already moving. We need to grab the reins.


Twitter denies that anyone’s interfering with the Glyphosate Awareness chat. Hah. The numbers speak. But seriously, Gentle Readers...on Twitter we’ve won already. There is no intelligent debate left. There are a few diehard glyphosate apologists, looking bigger fools by the minute, and a few saboteurs—oh yes I do notice when and where Twitter fouls up—trying to keep us from discussing what youall are showing me we hardly need to discuss any more, not among ourselves, not when (as Twitter tries to make the case these days) we’re having our tweets show up only for one another. The chat’s archives are valuable; the chat is becoming repetitious, redundant, and boring.

Right. We, the global elite class who are fluent enough in English (and in some cases French) to read and write the versions of those languages used on Twitter, know glyphosate is bad. Most of humankind don’t have computers and Internet access and fluency in the key international languages.

We need to stay connected; for that Twitter will help. But in order to guide market forces we need to think of ourselves as...oh, why not teachers, just to avoid the baggage associated with missionaries or military leaders. Each of us is now a teacher. We need to go out into the real world and organize our students, most of whom still don’t use computers and never will.

Do you like my Zazzle postcards? Can you do better ones? (I hope so, because Zazzle’s not really compatible with Firefox. I wanted to do a postcard for each state, but my 2009 laptop whined, “No waaay.”)

You can paste your own hometown winter scenes into postcards, too. And there’s no particular need to limit yourselves to winter holiday postcards. Zazzle pays commissions on sales but Glyphosate Awareness is not a business for profit. You don’t have to limit yourselves to Zazzle.

We need to be talking to people in the real world, face to face, by phone, in holiday card and gift exchanges. Our Tweeps already know glyphosate is bad. Some days I can tell that Twitter is blocking or delaying tweets from the Glyphosate Awareness chat, some days that it’s not...but Twitter is not a battlefield any more. On Twitter it’s (almost) all over but the shouting. We have to raise awareness among people who don’t do Twitter.

More news will break, and I’ll continue to read and share it on Twitter; some of you are doing superb jobs of writing and illustrating it on these beautiful web pages. But we need to be reaching those of our elected officials who either don’t have Twitter accounts, or have Twitter accounts that are sporadically managed by college students. (Postcards are ideal if you’re not going to bump into them in your favorite café.) We need to be reaching those of our relatives who appear to think the computers we got them for Christmas are a new sort of expensive but fashionable-looking place mats. We need to be reaching the spiteful old hags who’ve been promoted to “manager” or “head” of the basically student-labor-type jobs they’ve spent their whole lives doing, and the cab drivers who have advanced degrees but have lost jobs and work authorizations because they don’t speak better English, and, yes, the coal miners.

More printouts will help. Meanwhile, those of us who aren’t writers should keep thinking...a lot of these people don’t read. They know how to read, technically, but they read only when they have to. Bigger print may or may not help. I won’t be able to appreciate some of the other ideas that may work for your people—but we need those, too. Make videos. Build floats and enter parades. Do pre-game shows. Whatever.

Meanwhile, we need to be working on a positive answer to the glyphosate apologists’ one (feeble) argument, “But how else are we going to feed people?” We have the proof that feeding them poisoned food is not going to create a planet with ten billion healthy humans on it. We need to give them visible, tangible, tasty evidence that it’s possible to raise food that is fit for human consumption, enough for eight billion humans who are committed to getting back to two billion, or fewer, in the next generation, to eat.

For many of us that means learning to use and appreciate undervalued foods like chickweed and dandelions. For as many of us as possible, it means raising healthy, glyphosate-free foods—like corn, beans, potatoes and tomatoes—in back yards, window boxes, kitchens. Almost anyone can rear half a dozen tomato plants in half a dozen five-gallon buckets, indoors, and half a dozen plants will meet most households’ tomato needs. Beans are dead easy to raise, too, and good for the soil. Potatoes are easy to raise, and all right-minded children love picking them out of the loose, mulchy garden. When the corporate shills wail about the needs of agriculture, we need to tell them to get their lazy greedhead selves out of the way of people who can feed themselves better than the factory farms ever did or ever will...and the best way to get the point across to them is to hold up a garden fork loaded with potatoes.

The next Newsletter will come out in a New Year. May it be happy and glyphosate-free.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Morgan Griffith on FISA

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

Griffith Calls for Sanctions in Response to FISA Abuses
Wednesday, December 18, 2019 – Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) issued the following statement after U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court Presiding Judge Rosemary M. Collyer condemned the misconduct regarding surveillance applications into the Trump campaign uncovered by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz:
“The Justice Department’s inspector general found numerous abuses of the FISA process when investigating one of President Trump’s campaign advisers. The FISA court is right to be sharply critical of these abuses. But I believe these abuses call for stronger action.
“We need to be clear. Lawyers who practice in a court are considered ‘officers of the court.’ ‘Officers of the court,’ including James Comey and others, misled the FISA court. During my career practicing law, I found that sanctions imposed by judges on ‘officers of the court’ engaged in misconduct to be the strongest remedies. Such sanctions send a distinct message that misconduct will not be tolerated.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that federal judges have virtually full power in their courtrooms, so the FISA court has the power to sanction. Considering the serious and real abuses of power uncovered by the inspector general’s report, sanctions on the ‘officers of the court’ who perpetrated them not only would be justified but are necessary in order to prevent future abuses.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Tim Kaine Supports Military Families, And...And...

And what else? I asked, reading the e-mail below from U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Dear friend,
Today, the Senate passed the 2020 national defense bill. Each year, I'm proud of the bipartisan work that goes into delivering a defense bill that helps protect our country and support our servicemembers.

This year, one of my top priorities was addressing dangerous conditions in military housing, including rodent infestations, mold that made kids sick, lead, and other safety hazards. The final legislation includes two of my amendments to improve oversight and increase protections for military families to ensure they have safe places to live. I'm thankful we could come to a bipartisan consensus in both the Senate and House to pass these reforms and other provisions that are important to the defense community in Virginia.

Here are some of the other priorities I supported that were included in the final defense bill:
• Supports shipbuilding and repair.
• Includes paid family leave for federal employees.
• Authorizes military construction projects throughout Virginia.
• Blocks the President from withdrawing troops from NATO.
• Provides financial relief to civilian federal employees.
• Cleans up dioxin at Bien Hoa Air Base in Vietnam.
• Addresses recurring areas of instability in post-conflict zones.
You can read more about the legislation here >>
I'm so pleased we got this bill across the finish line and I look forward to it being signed into law
" [signature graphic: Tim Kaine]

Such a nice, bland, unexceptionable description for such a huge, complex bill with so many controversial political ramifications...This web site definitely appreciates the Senator's interest in cleaning up military housing, and this web site also repeats: We need a One Subject At A Time rule for all proposed legislation, in the U.S. Congress and in every individual State's legislature.

Ten Fiscally Conservative Ideas to Address Climate Change

The Premier of Ontario has reportedly asked for “conservative” ideas to address climate change.

I have no formal qualifications to advise the Premier of Ontario. (U.S. readers, think Governor of California, or maybe Texas.) I studied science at Berea College, where it’s rigorous, but the science I read was psychology. That makes me an ecological maven. I’ve written this post in a bloggy and mavenish tone. People with Ph.D.’s in geology and meteorology and so forth, who are qualified to advise Premiers and Governors, may read it for a laugh. Then they can use this basketful of ideas to do formal studies...

Some Twits wailed that “conservative ideas about climate change” was an oxymoron. I beg to differ. These ideas are “conservative” in the sense that they’re skeptical about global climate change theory, and in the sense that they don’t demand that governments raise taxes and build bigger bureaucracies.

The global warming theory that was publicized ten or twenty years ago is so-o-o over. Apart from being tied to a political agenda for turning the United Nations into a global dictatorship, it was based on the claim that Miami was going to be underwater by 2010. Let us lay that theory to rest beside the impending ice age theory that scared my generation when we were the age of Greta Thunberg.

By “climate change” we also don’t mean weird weather. Weird weather does not represent a pattern of change. “The hottest, coldest, wettest, driest, whatever in – number of years” means similar weatherquirks were taking place forty or a hundred years ago. Weird weather sometimes creates emergencies to which some people out there may be moved to respond, so I retweet and share reports of it, but it’s a separate category from any pattern of human-made climate change.

What I have watched happening, as a pattern over the years, is known as “local warming” or “the greenhouse effect.” It’s destroying the glaciers and arctic wildlife in northern Europe; it’s making cities in the temperate zones death traps in summer. Talk of the greenhouse effect was buried under the panic about global warming theory in the 1990s but, while global warming theory has disproved itself, local warming has been increasing...slowly in big cities where the effect rose faster in the 1960s, more alarmingly in small cities these days.

I live in a forest on one of the hills above the town of Gate City, Virginia, population about 2500. Gate City is about five miles north of the Tennessee border. Kingsport, Tennessee, population about 30,000, is about three miles south of the border; Gate City is sometimes perceived as a suburb of Kingsport. In the 1970s the rule was that the temperature at my home was usually three degrees (Fahrenheit) below the official temperature reported from Kingsport. In the 1980s I observed that the temperature in downtown Kingsport was usually two to five degrees above the official temperature. Last summer I had two opportunities to ride back from Kingsport in the afternoon, by different roads, past businesses that display thermometers. The ride took ten or fifteen minutes; the walk from the paved road to my home might have added ten more. I rode past thermometers showing temperatures in downtown Kingsport that were close to 40 degrees Celsius—98 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Then at my home the outdoor thermometer was showing 75 degrees Fahrenheit. We are talking about Code Red days when older or hypertensive people could actually have died from the heat, downtown, while people ten miles away would hardly work up a sweat. This increase in the temperature gap is a cause for concern. And it does seem to be happening all over the world.

Here are my ten ideas about fixing it. Those who may have wondered when I’m going to write that Green Tea Party Manifesto may consider this a draft of it.

1. Make walking fashionable.

New Yorkers walk. Washingtonians walk. Torontonians walk. In the small towns, however, many people think they need to drive distances nobody in a real city would consider risking a car to city traffic for. The primary fear seems to me that if they walk to work or school, they’ll arrive looking less “fresh” than they looked when they left the house. My generation started the trend for walking to work in sport shoes, carrying dress shoes. The young could start a trend for commuting in sweats and shorts, storing a “fresh” suit at the office where they could put it on after washing at least their feet and faces.

I walk. Of the twenty or thirty good reasons for walking the strongest is probably my astigmatism, and reluctance, as long as I can see more than most people do without them, to pay for special glasses. I get constant reminders of the social stigma ignorant people have put on walking, from people who’d do better to thank me for never having smashed a vehicle into theirs. Every time some piece of trash identifies itself as trash with a stupid remark about walking, I feel that I’m enduring persecution for righteousness’ sake. It’s a good feeling though it leaves me with low opinions of my townsfolk.

If we’re going to reverse undesirable climate change, we need to shift the balance of opinion from “Anybody would drive everywhere if they could, so there must be something wrong with people who walk around town” to “We choose to walk because we can, though of course we have to try to be inclusive of those poor old people who have to drive.” It wouldn’t cost much money for local governments to start a trend toward thanking pedestrians. It might help if, for instance, a few elected officials noticed pedestrians (dusty, sweaty, with their hair messed up) in stores and restaurants and boomed, “Please, Sir/Ma’am, won’t you go ahead of me,” or “may I pay for your coffee,” or just “may I take this opportunity to THANK YOU FOR NOT DRIVING! I salute your public spirit!” That’s enough to stop many small-town social bullies; it might be enough, all by itself, to start the trend. If not, a few competitions with cheap trophies or fifty-dollar cash prizes, scholarships, dinner at local restaurants, would probably get the trend going.

We can leave it to the Bright Young Things (like Thunberg) to call the attention of the young to the idea that walking is sexy. For my generation, I’ll say this: The reason why I’ve worn the same dress size since grade nine, and the reason why my Significant Other has fended off diabetes past age 70, is that we get out and walk and move our bodies. If you don’t want to be obese or diabetic, start walking now. (And a country that has a National Health Service could appropriately publicize the thanks of the National Health Service to adults who avoid putting a burden on it.)

2. Keep walking feasible: Don’t herd people into slums in the name of “walkability.”

Slums are not “walkable.” Crowding creates craziness, so nobody needs to hope that just packing newer buildings with more competent people does not amount to constructing slums. If people are subjected to New York, or Hong Kong, or Rio de Janeiro living conditions they will at best start acting like New Yorkers. I think the consensus in Toronto, as in Washington, has always been that the world needs no more of that. Densely populated neighborhoods are too hostile and too hot to be “walkable,” whatever their builders may have fantasized.

So we need to think back to the traditional model of sparsely populated, self-reliant communities where “walkability” meant schools, grocery stores, and home-based businesses within one mile, and offices within five miles, of people’s homes. The Internet can add so much to the transition away from the twentieth century aberration of “zoning for maximum use of motor vehicles.” Most people don’t need to commute every day and, once or twice a week when they do meet or physically exchange goods, most people should be able to walk to most of the places where they do business. Most families should have a choice between one-acre gardens and five-acre mini-farms, around houses where everyone has a room of his or her own, with green space around and between their homes.

How much does government need to do to promote this trend? Probably, just step out of the way. This is the lifestyle “conservatives” want.

3. That means marketing the idea of better lives for fewer and healthier babies.

No, of course nobody wants—or needs—to think about mandatory abortions, or even penalties for those who have too many babies. All government really needs to do is call attention to the advantages of growing up in a one-child home, and the maturing value of being the mother of one child (as opposed to the perhaps irreparable damage done by repeated childbirths). And, perhaps, the idea that the physical consummation of love does not necessarily mean making babies.

4. Also the ideal of a calmer, more bucolic lifestyle.

Where I live a lot of people, if asked why the 1970s “back to the land” movement failed, will answer, “It didn’t.” The first few years of organically farming soil where vicious chemical cycles were going on were unprofitable, but if people were prepared to work through that, every year was better than the one before.

“Going back to the land” failed people who weren’t willing to do it right, like the Sick Greens who, when their water lines didn’t work for them, declared their rebellion against the bourgeois notion of bathing, then shuffled back into town—probably as welfare cheats—with fungus infections, nutrient deficiencies, and often drug-related brain damage. What would have helped them? A good healthy public laugh at the idea that “back to the land” was a counterculture movement for people who rejected hard work, personal hygiene, and similar “conservative” values...when in fact nothing is more “conservative” than a sustainable move “back to the land.”

5. Canada is generally perceived as a cool country, but it has something to crow about if people choose...

Sustainable dry-flush toilets! What a concept! As the home of the Sun-Mar company, Canada leads the world in toilet technology.

I’ve always been glad that, when Associated Content was buying all those “I love my [name-brand product]” pieces, my blog buddy laid claim to “I Love My Sun-Mar Toilet.” But I do. For sheer woo-hoo and yee-haa braggadocio there’s nothing quite like being able to neutralize all the nastiness we and our animal companions inevitably produce, without adding one drop of pollution to what people in Tennessee have to drink. I may not have much respect for a lot of my townsfolk’s opinions, but I am protective of their health. Water-flush toilets are so-o-o over.

6. Solar power is cheap, and could even be made hoardable, if people don’t waste it.

Thomas Friedman and other corporate-brainwashed people have fantasized at length about using electrical power grids to micromanage people’s behavior in their homes. “Conservatives” naturally hate that idea. So, as a conservative alternative, why not market energy independence? In Ontario, in Virginia, in points between those and to the north and south, most people get enough sunshine that a row of solar collectors in a one-acre garden could run the gadgets they really want to use every day—say a small refrigerator (but not a huge deep-freezer for unreliable storage), cooking stove or heater (but not both at the same time), one computer, but they have to make their own acoustic music and set their non-electric clocks by their computer. They could put a Lasko fan near their chair rather than run an air conditioner in summer. Those who really wanted more electricity could plug back into the grid and pay for it...but the utility companies could be required to pay the ones who collected more solar energy than they chose to use. “Conservatives” love basing things on business transactions, especially the kind that are profitable for them. If those big inefficient heat pumps that heat or chill whole houses, while pumping heat into the air, cost money to run, while controlling the climate in only the room where they’re actually working pays “conservatives,” they’ll scale their energy consumption back waaay beyond what Agenda 21 advocates would have demanded.

Solar power is a hard sell anywhere north of Orange County, California, as long as it’s being marketed as “roof-mounted panels, which may trap rain and damage the roof, and won’t lower your bills by enough to pay for themselves in twenty years.” Most places just don’t get enough sunshine to make solar power seem cost-effective—on the terms the corporations and agenda-pushers offer it. But try “Put a row of panels in the garden and tell the greedhead electric company to stick their monthly fees in their ears,” and panels will go up—and heat pumps and air conditioners will go down.

7. Less crowding could eliminate one of the most acrimonious of the current political issues, too.

Few conservatives actually hate, or even dislike, large groups of people (group-thinking does not fit the conservative style), but conservatives have abundant reason to hate the way various "sexual minorities" have been exploited as distractions by the Extreme Left. “Sexual minorities” appear whenever almost any animal species is overcrowded. Nufsed.

8. Less crowding could eliminate the felt need for glyphosate and other “pesticides,” as well.

The argument in favor of spraying poison on food crops is that “It’s the only way we can hope to feed ten billion people.” A better argument would be “Let’s work on getting the world’s population back to sustainable levels.” More individuals living closer to their land can control nuisance species without poisons. Most of North America’s most persistent “weeds” are actually edible. Why poison dandelions when you can eat them? Again government’s role could be to encourage, rather than force, vast fields of “factory-farmed” single crops, cultivated and harvested by machines, to mutate back into small family farms where people appreciate companion planting, crop rotation, and irregular produce.

9. Which could also reduce the risk of fires.

I discovered the Premier’s call for content while browsing someone else’s Twitter page to refresh my mind after last Tuesday’s Glyphosate Awareness chat. I found photos of wildfires in Australia. Funnily enough Australia has been the home of most of the glyphosate apologists who’ve joined the chat.

Yes, there is a connection. Glyphosate is a desiccant. Desiccants dry out plants. Dry plants burn more easily than green ones do. Even when they’re not desiccated by poison, huge fields of one kind of grain in which every individual plant dries out at the same time of year are tinder boxes. However, studies have already quantified the way chemical pesticides promote bigger and more destructive wildfires.

While plants are green, they hold water and resist fire. In much of Ontario, in Virginia, and in most places between, we have certainly had destructive, out-of-control fires...but our fires never reach the appalling sizes of wildfires in California or Australia, because, when there’s a mix of bare earth, dry plants, green plants, and trees in between buildings, fires come to things that won’t burn easily. Deserts, and huge monocropped factory farms, don’t present natural barriers to fire. Today's big news headline from Canada seems to be a recent quantitative analysis of how this is working in British Columbia. It's relevant to the wetter eastern side of the continent too.

10. And about all those other pollutants...

I don’t think plastic has much to do with climate change, actually. I think Soros is funding attention to plastic, and to climate change, by way of distraction from the real problem of glyphosate. But plastic is an ugly mess these days, so why not throw in a few “conservative” thoughts about plastic.

Conservatives have never had a problem with the ideal of tidiness. I remember when right-wingers objected to tax money being used to fund “Sesame Street,” to a kid my age “regressing” far enough to laugh at it whenever I got a chance to watch it, to its being aired at times when right-wing children were supposed to be out in the fresh air.One song from “Sesame Street” I’ve sung all my life builds up to a dynamic climax with the lines, “Making a mess may be all right, and quite a sight to see, but just be quite sure, before you mess things up, that you can CLEAN UP YOUR MESS BEFORE IT MESSES UP ME!” I would have expected some older conservatives to object to the way those lines are written to force singers to yell. They don’t. Some of them scream those words right along with the music. They don’t want the playground, or the ocean, turned into a “grungy glop garden” any more than anyone else does. As Mike Savage puts it, conservation is a deeply conservative idea.

But it looked to me, last week, as if the teachers who still cling to some revised version of the global warming myth are falling down on their job of teaching the real observable facts of conservation to the young. On the Saturday, when it wasn’t raining, there was a holiday parade on Kane Street. Hygienically wrapped candies were distributed to children. On the Sunday and Monday, it rained. I walked down Kane Street on Monday afternoon and, if I took one step without passing a hygienically wrapped candy a child had opened, licked, and dropped on the ground, I did not take two. The side of the street really looked like Candy Land. What happened to all that wasted sugar? It was melting down in the rain already, probably sticking to my shoes. What happened to all the plastic? By now some of it’s already choking fish in Tennessee, or maybe dissolving into the water that people in New Orleans are about to drink. Somebody failed to tell those children that, if you taste a hygienically wrapped candy, and you don’t like it, the purpose of the wrapping is to wrap tightly around it while you put it in your pocket and hold on to it until you get to a proper place to dispose of it.

Littering can be so much easier than tidiness is, at some times and for some people, that government needs to do more than merely verbally endorse tidiness. An idea that worked brilliantly, at no real cost to local government, in Maryland was regular “Clean-Up Days.” At first small prizes were offered to those who picked up the most litter in a certain park. Then, to eliminate any possible incentive to dump litter in some part of the park on a Friday in order to collect more of it on the Saturday, the cash prizes were replaced with free use of rental bicycles or rowboats. How many afternoons I’ve spent rowing up and down the Anacostia River, harpooning stray plastic bags and styrofoam cups, but reflecting that the amount of litter still there to be collected had really dropped to levels that hardly justified the cost of an afternoon’s boating. (Rowing on the Anacostia River has become a pleasant way to spend an afternoon now; in the 1980s, when I first joined “Clean-Up Marches,” nobody could imagine that that would become the case.) Town and neighborhood “Clean-Up Days” could become pleasant outdoor social events in other places too. If it worked on the Anacostia River, it’ll work anywhere.