Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Book Review: The Sigsbee Deep

Title: The Sigsbee Deep

Author: Richard J. Miller

Date: 2021

Publisher: my copy is self-published

ISBN: my copy shows none

Length: 162 e-pages

Quote: “The Sigsbee Deep is over fourteen thousand feet, straight down. First, there is the corona, an area of two to three thousand feet, then the falloff into the Deep itself—it might as well be bottomless.”

That’s what the characters in this novel are facing in a hypothetical 2052 where Al Gore’s dystopian fantasies from the 1990s are finally starting to become real.

It’s science fiction, of course. Hard science, which is why so many people in an online book review network felt unqualified to review this book. At least I’ve read enough science to tell you that I’m not really qualified to review this book.

The geology is admittedly weak, postulating a new seismic fault that produces a series of earthquakes in Florida. In the hypothetical 2040s most of the coastal cities are wiped off the map, though low-lying cities near the coast, including Washington and St. Petersburg, Florida, are still above water. Early in the novel a big earthquake separates St. Petersburg from Tampa, then Pinellas Park from St. Petersburg.

(Pinellas Park is the suburb of St. Pete where the relatives I call “Aunt Dotty and Uncle Pete” lived, and is the part of Florida of which I have clear, detailed memories. In hypothetical 2052 some buildings have apparently survived but, improbably, the little tract houses of which the suburb-town mostly consists have been re-greened back into farms where people can raise enough crops to live on. Presumably the destruction of towns on the other side of Florida has kept people from pouring into increasingly shabby tract houses as the retirees have grown old and died. On a map of the Gulf Coast Pinellas Park can be described as sitting on a tiny “Pinellas Peninsula,” a little crook of land at the south end of the Tampa Bay; if separated from the main peninsula that is Florida, this mini-peninsula would become the sort of tiny island that could easily slide all the way down into the ocean, as, in this novel, it’s doing.)

The biology is unadmittedly even weaker: In an improbably re-greened suburb-town in central Florida, “global climate change” is as real as the local warming effect feels to people who live there, sea levels have risen, that’s what’s altering the shape of the ocean floor, but people are raising corn and unable to get coffee. If Florida had warmed up that much, coffee would probably grow better than corn...and the people struggling to get off their island before it sinks would be more malnourished for that reason.(The giant fish on the cover is an exaggeration of the concept; according to the text the mutant fish called Krake gape only three feet wide, but they’re big enough to eat humans and attack boats, like sharks, in hope of dislodging humans.)

The psychology is hopeless: The protagonists are multiracial, their antagonist is a White racist straight out of 1952, the protagonists have never done any shooting, the antagonist (true to stereotype) shoots constantly, yet when things reach that point the old Hollywood cliché kicks in and zaps the baddie’s well-practiced marksmanship. Good luck to anyone seriously counting on that effect to win any sort of fight or contest. David killed Goliath, but not the second or third time he’d ever taken a good look at a slingshot.

But good science fiction can use ideas more scientifically unsound than those, if it’s well written fiction (which The Sigsbee Deep is, reasonably) and if the science on which the story is based is not geology, biology, or psychology. Often stories like that focus on astrophysics—“space operas,” if they’re bad fiction; The Sigsbee Deep ventures into more debatable territory by focussing on mechanical science. Mays Jackson’s ability to reunite himself and his children with their mother depends on his ability to salvage junk from a conveniently located motor vehicle graveyard and build a working solar-powered submarine.

So it’s real, hard-core, Jules Verne type science fiction. What makes Jules Verne great is not that his prose style is extraordinary; it’s clear and readable, in English translation or in the original French, but nobody raves over his ability to turn a phrase. It’s not that his characterizations are full of brilliant insights; his characters range from stereotypes to stick figures. It’s that his speculative engineering read well enough to interest real engineers in building the gadgets about which Verne fantasized, and, with some tweaking and fine-tuning, several of them work.

The Sigsbee Deep begs to be read by real engineers and tested, so that, if people do really need to evacuate any island fast, for any reason, they could have the option of building solar-powered submarines. With or without spikes to kill attacking sharks.

Meanwhile, since family problems aren’t the topic of the story, we get a lovely, Little House on the Prairie-like picture of a faithful husband and two hardworking, uncomplaining, tantrum-free teenagers. And, as a special treat for baby-boomers, the third and fourth generations after us are able to bond by laughing at, but dancing along with, an improbably preserved recording of Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up.”

Like many good science fiction stories this one’s plot boils down to a male fantasy of singlehandedly saving at least the part of the planet the hero cares about from super-dangers, and, if the science is sound, nobody minds. So I can’t judge this novel. All I can say is that I’d like to find out about the science in this fiction.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Pre-Tortie Tuesday Post: Training Your Human to Serve Water

It's not, technically, Tuesday yet. Neither is Serena, technically, a Tortie, though Tortie Tuesday has traditionally been for calico cats (mostly white with black or gray and orange or buff patches) as well as the tortoiseshell kind (mostly black or gray with orange or buff and white patches). As regular readers know, Serena was born knowing that rules are made for the convenience of Queen Cats, not vice versa.

Like many cats Serena doesn't really like having other cats get too close to Her Human. Ownership of a human is a status symbol for cats. Serena is, however, a gracious Queen Cat who has been known to insist that Her Human feed her cat friends--first, as befitting guests invited by the Queen! So I think we can extrapolate from this behavior that, if Serena had the sort of brain that thinks about cats Out There whom she's never met, she would graciously share with them what she has learned about managing her household. 

That's the way the Cat Sanctuary Interview posts have been written. Cats and other animals don't speak English, nor do I write these things while drunk enough to imagine that they do. I think rationally and soberly about what the animals' observed behavior says, and translate that into an interview format, thusly:

PK: Cats, even in the cool green Blue Ridge Mountains, how has the weather been lately?

Serena: Sweltering. Energy-zapping. Nights can be cool, even chilly, but once the sun is visible above the mountains, nobody feels like doing much of anything. 

PK: How do you cats cope?

Serena: Well, we are desert creatures, built to survive hot temperatures. We don't expect ourselves to do much of anything when the weather is hot and steamy. We find a patch of sand that's not too hot and lie down on it till the temperature gets back to a reasonable range. But, of course, we can cool ourselves a bit by sipping cool water.

PK: How much water do cats need?

Serena: Water is not as much of a nutritional need for cats as it is for dogs and humans. We're built to survive on very small amounts of water if we have to. The water content of fresh meat is enough to keep most cats going. 

PK: So why do you insist that I share bottles of water with you on days when it's not even hot?

Serena: We didn't always. You used to drink water from the same spring that feeds the spring branch where we can go, or else from the town water supply where they leave the chlorine in. Then you and your friends made that deal with the water bottlers and you started drinking Pure Life and Deer Park bottled water. We like Pure Life and Deer Park water.

PK: One better than the other?

Serena: Whichever is cooler. 

PK: I prefer Deer Park myself. It's probably a matter of where people grow up, which kinds of minerals are naturally found in the water they're accustomed to drinking. Dasani is just slightly salty, which I don't like at all, but people from California love it. Pure Life is just slightly bitter. To me Deer Park tastes right. When I was younger the trendy thing to drink was Perrier water from France. Apparently most of the water out there tastes even worse. A lot of Americans thought Perrier tasted awful. Those of us who wanted to be trendy could stand to drink it...but I used to look for some nice cold tap water to chase the taste! 

Serena: We cats aren't partial to Dasani or Perrier water either but we do like a sip of your Pure Life and Deer Park, when you fetch a cool bottle out of the cellar. 

PK: Even in cool weather. I understood your ordering cool water in hot weather last summer, but this year you started the same routine in April, when the temperature was only about 60 or 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Serena: Well, the kittens had to learn how to drink water, of course. And it didn't hurt for them to learn that I have the right to order humans to fetch water for us. 

PK: And so, any time after midday when you cats see me step onto the porch or into the yard...

Serena: Of course, we send you to fetch water!

PK: There are those who think you cats are spoiled. Some alert readers might suggest setting up a weighted water jug in a dish...taking a large jug with a small hole at the bottom, so that water flows out into the dish just enough to equalize the pressure. When animals drink water because they need a lot of water in their diet, this is a labor-saving device for humans.

Serena: That kind of thing probably saves some animals' lives. We wouldn't use it. For us sharing your water is more of a family bonding experience. It's like the way Silver and Sommersburr and I tried to make sure you had your turn to baby-sit the kittens, every day, while they were little, even if you didn't always take that turn. 

PK: Some alert readers may say, "Sommersburr? Don't tell me that cat is still alive?" 

Serena: Very much. He may outlive his other human. He's had trouble with worms and mites, and with other cats clawing at what's left of his ears, but he is an old survivor. He's had some trouble chewing dry food, lately. He'd be happier if your readers sent him more of those little cans of wet food. But he's a social cat who likes kittens. He's enjoyed baby-sitting my kittens, this spring, lying around and twitching his tail for them to chase. And he and Silver are still very much a couple.

PK: Some readers don't believe there can be cats like you. Everyone knows that cats get together just long enough to mate, and then forget about each other. 

Serena: Social cats are a rare and special minority and the best thing about it is that we're not a "breed" humans can buy. We have to be found, when and where we come to exist--sometimes in alleys, sometimes in animal shelters. 

PK: It's hard to tell whether shelter animals are social or not, but we do know that you cats are part of an amazing social cat tribe whose base is in Kingsport, Tennessee, and that some of your relatives have passed through the Sullivan County animal shelter. With that in mind, here are some adorable adoptable cat pictures:


Zipcode 10101: Ladybird from Yonkers is part of a family of four kittens who reportedly think a small dog is their Daddy. The shelter staff insist she must be adopted with one of her sisters (not the one behind her in the picture) with a strong unstated suggestion that they'd really rather you took all four kittens and the dog. Ladybird's web page is at https://www.petfinder.com/cat/ladybird-55890919/ny/new-york/anjellicle-cats-rescue-ny488/ .


Zipcode 20202: Zion from D.C. is "in a foster home." Somebody would really rather keep this kitten. Somebody says she's the snuggliest kitten in the litter. As we know, sometimes this means that a kitten is just born to be a snugglebunny, sometimes that it's bonded with one person, and sometimes that it has medical problems, but the shelter and foster human think there's hope for the best. Zion (and possibly littermates) can be reached at https://www.petfinder.com/cat/zion-55886359/dc/washington/humane-rescue-alliance-foster-homes-dc03/ .


Zipcode 30303: Mindy from Atlanta comes with a brother Mork. They've been photographed separately and given separate web pages with a strong suggestion that they be adopted together. Meet Mindy at https://www.petfinder.com/cat/mindy-55760967/ga/atlanta/fulton-county-animal-services-ga217/ .


Bonus: Zipcode 37662 is the part of Kingsport, Tennessee, where Black Magic and Patchnose were found. Magic was thrust upon a friend of mine by children pleading that "If you don't take her, our parents will put her in a shelter!" Patchnose was found nursing an abnormally friendly son in a den she shared with an abnormally loyal and supportive tomcat in an alley. Unwanted cats from the zipcode 37662, which used to be an upscale section of town, are taken to a shelter ten miles away, in Blountville, where some other members of the social cat clan were found rearing kittens as communally as they could--when the cats were released from their cages at night, the two mother cats would snuggle and nurse each other's babies. It was a news item. Even social cats aren't always that determined to share the experiences of parenting (or hunting), but if it's going to happen again, this is a place where it's likely to happen. The Blountville shelter currently has about half a dozen adoptable kittens. This little fellow is the only one who photographed at all well, but that doesn't mean the others aren't cute; they're black, or mostly black, and therefore hard to photograph well. 

(PK: Serena, are we looking for homes for Cat Sanctuary kittens?)

Serena: Not yet, anyway. If I ever feel that they need homes of their own I'll let you know.)

Book Review: Hekate's Tea

(Not everybody's cup of tea...)


Title: Hekate’s Tea

Author: Anthony Ciulla

Date: 2021

Publisher: Amazon Kindle

ASIN:  B09SCYXXL1

Length: 188 e-pages

Illustrations: color pictures

Quote: “I didn’t know what happened or how it happened, but I was teleporting...I JUST DID IT TWICE!”

“Young adult, noir” doesn’t even come close. If you’re looking for a book to feed into a biochemical cycle of angst, seek no further. 

Only well into the story does Hellana Hoggelmaier explain that she is a German teenager who uses English as a second language. There are clues: if she were American the angst would probably start with her name, but in Germany her friends don't seem to blink at calling her Hell.

The story begins with little Hell sharing fantasy adventure stories with her beloved father, before his murder. Mourning melodramatically, she considers suicide as a way to be with her father again, but stays alive for the sake of her mother, who does seem a bit shellshocked, or perhaps she’s taking drugs to help her cope with the grief. Then the bookseller, who’s always been her and her father’s friend, hands her a book about the Greek goddess Hekate, another netherworld goddess sometimes considered to embody the same concept as Mother Holda or Hölle. From the book flutters a fragrant dry leaf that’s been pressed between pages at a point where the text promises that “who drinks the tea, a goddess will be.” Now suffering from a broken heart as well as grief, Hell tells herself that if the leaf is poison at least it’ll put her out of her misery.

(Auntly Interruption: The Aunts’ Union requires me to mention, although I’m quite sure The Nephews already know, that most natural toxins are more likely to add to people’s misery than put them out of it. Very few plants are deadly. Many plants are indigestible.)

Hell drinks the tea, and right away she starts seeing visions of Hekate, who calls her “my lovely” and encourages her to use the new powers Hekate has give her, but gives her little guidance as to what those powers are or how to use them. Even the bookseller, Mrs. Freeman, who seems to have a similar relationship with a stronger supernatural being, can’t tell her much except that her relationship with Hekate is private; Mrs. Freeman doesn’t want to know. So, on her first adventure, Hell takes delicious revenge on her ex and a couple of street bullies, all at once. Hekate seems to be encouraging her at first. Then Hell finds out that Hekate’s power feeds on human suffering and, because Hell not only used her power but used it selfishly, now Hell’s mother has to die and suffer in you-know-where, the theological concept, where the mother who called her baby Hell is tormented by a demon in the shape of a giant baby. Hell doesn’t have much of a comment on this image. Her immediate concern is to use the power to teleport her mother to the more pleasant afterlife where Mother and Father can be together, watching their daughter careen through the rest of her mortal life with helpless love. Hekate seems to understand. Hell’s punishment for this act of love is intense but short-lived.

Hekate spurs her on, sending her back to the bookseller, who keeps giving her books about large-scale human suffering. (After all, Hell read Harry Potter and Twilight long ago.) Each book rouses Hell to an adolescent energy surge of fierce compassion, but what does a teenager know about using fierce compassion? Hell can snap herself right into the body of a slave trafficker and burst out, leaving him in a gory mess, or stay in the body of a doctor doing a ritual child mutilation and make him mutilate himself, but how much does that accomplish? Forced to leave her next lover lest using Hekate’s power destroy her too, Hell instead uses enough power to destroy one of the slaves she’s managed to rescue. (She wasn’t in love with him, but in a vague, child-of-a-broken-home sort of way she loved his relationship with his wife.) Moving on to bigger targets, Hell bashes her way to the current dictator of North Korea, supernaturally slapping him around enough to make him carry out a few reforms.

But she’s failed to maintain a low profile during her adventure. Before she’s even old enough to buy a jug of wine, legally, in the United States, Hell finds out who murdered her father. Yes, because he was another servant of Hekate. So was a grandmother she never knew. And now Hekate’s enemies are after her, and their powers are a match for hers, and there are more of them.

In short, Hell’s life is...well...you-know-what. Her fantasy adventure seems like a nightmare and ends with a real Perils-of-Pauline cliffhanger. (Yes, a sequel is in the works.) The more anxious kind of Christians can easily read this novel as a story of how the Evil Principle exploits a teenager’s idealism to enmesh her in eternal torment. From the writer’s Twitter page I wouldn’t think that was his intention, but who knows.

A part of me enjoyed this book’s energy and audacity. The e-book version I received looked like a draft that may have been corrected by the publisher. It’s written in good English, in a very simple, direct, translatable style. (Though written in Germany, it's still waiting to be translated into German.) Almost every action is summarized in one sentence, as are the movements of people while they’re making conversation. Conversations read almost like stage directions. Hell narrates her story in the artless way teenagers write, when they have something to write about.

Hekate elegantly crossed her legs and shifted in her chair:

“Yes. These are the same men. What do you think should happen to them?”

With no hesitation, I yelled:

“They should be turned into the maggots that they are and then fed to a dog!”

Hekate laughed and stood up with me: 

“A wonderful solution to this problem, my dear. Let’s go, I will show you how.”

Instantly, we were back in the alley...

It’s not an easy story to fall asleep over. And the maggot episode made me cackle out loud, though the men seem to be turned into awfully large maggots. 

Some booksellers and librarians seem to be in the confidence of readers who live with high levels of angst, grief, and guilt, who specifically ask for books that will make them cry. Hekate’s Tea is for them if any book is.

And in the end, it made me want to cry—old as I am, and laugh at the crazy teen energy and simplistic teen solutions as I did. My guess is that Hell will survive, probably at the expense of another friend or friends, just because—“You CAN’T end a book for teenagers this way! There HAVE TO be sequels—plural! I want to see this character grow in the direction of not just ‘helling around’ but picking a cause and actually working for it.”

Monday, May 30, 2022

Alarming Market Trend

This post is brought to you by kittens: 


Aria and Nilo from New York. According to their web page, https://www.petfinder.com/cat/aria-54881529/ny/new-york/anjellicle-cats-rescue-ny488/, they must be adopted together. Aria is female, Nilo is male.

 

Bubbles from Washington, D.C., sounds as if she's being fostered by a control freak who would really prefer to keep her. And she's actually three-colored, not solid black-and-white. Her picture is here because she has the same pattern of dark and white fur as Serena's young son Biro, which makes her seem extra-cute to me. All kittens are, of course, unbearably cute. If you don't want to pay $175 before the basic vet care, at your own expense, feel free to browse for another kitten. Bubbles' web page is https://www.petfinder.com/cat/bubbles-kitty-55741082/dc/washington/lucky-dog-animal-rescue-dc20/ .


Lemon from Atlanta...there are a lot of adorable kittens on Petfinder's Atlanta page, but many of their pictures are showing up blurred and/or skewed. Lemon's is one of the few pictures at that page that actually show up on my browser looking like a kitten. In fact, she looks a bit like Serena's daughter Pastel, though smaller and paler. Her web page is https://www.petfinder.com/cat/lemon-55650586/ga/atlanta/royal-potcake-rescue-usa-inc-ga512/ .

(It's not part of the actual post, below, but since regular readers want to know...There were eleven kittens this spring: Serena's, Silver's, and someone else's. One of Silver's was stillborn with major birth defects, and seven more died after exposure to airborne glyphosate vapors from the Bad Neighbor. One of the short-lived ones reminded me of Bisquit, who liked the nickname "Bic-bic," so it was called Bic, and the others were called after other writing devices corresponding to their colors. Biro, Crayola, and Pastel are still alive. They show no indication of being as clever as Serena but they do seem to have the instinct for hunting as a team.)

Now the actual post:

According to Google, this site's getting an alarming increase in traffic from sites that blatantly advertise that they sell term papers for students to use.

A few years ago I posted some observations about this practice. There's nothing wrong with students reading other students' term papers, I said. I enjoy doing the research to write sample term papers. And I've thought about posting some of my old papers here; they earned good enough grades, long enough ago, that if a student tried to pass them off as per own work the teacher would smell the plagiarism. If you have the money you can pay any number of people to write sample term papers for you, compare what they've said, follow their leads and links, and write a paper that's enriched by all of their different insights. That's expensive, but legal. 

There is something unethical about trying to pass someone else's term paper off as yours. At many schools it guarantees you'll fail the course; at many it guarantees you'll be expelled. 

How can teachers tell which term papers are plagiarized, with the proliferation of Internet publication? They look for papers that sound like their students' written "voices." Obviously anybody can put a little "spin" on the material in the textbook, or on Wikipedia, and let that form the bulk of a paper--but students are expected at least to rewrite each sentence they've read, except in quotations. And, to make sure it's really their students' work, many teachers look for references to discussions that took place in their classroom.

Once long ago, pre-Internet, I was really at a loss for anything to say about the material we'd been studying in a class. Then, a few hours before the computer center closed, I had a brainwave and cranked out a paper that was readable, a little too long, linking the material we'd studied in that class to things I'd studied in grade eight and things I'd gone over when my sister was in grade seven. It was an A paper in most ways--the teacher admitted--but he gave it a C. "I don't know where it came from, maybe some original work she did somewhere else, but it's not based on research she did in MY class!" 

I was indignant, counter-accused the teacher of being a sexist bigot and trying to boost the boys higher up the curve, which for all I know he really was doing. But over the years I've realized that he had a point. My last-minute inspiration was better than no inspiration at all, and I'd cited material from the textbooks, but I had not cited anything anyone had said in the classroom. That poor old teacher was teaching different sections of the same freshman-level class to two hundred total strangers, mostly freshmen. How was he supposed to know what each of them had done, or could do, if their papers did not refer to their participation in his class?

So my old blog post warned students not to try just handing in a professionally written paper as if they'd written it. Buy one or several sample papers but think of them as like getting into a conversation at the library and letting other people show you what they were doing, not like paying someone else to write your paper. 

This new post considers a new wrinkle: These new writing services are unfamiliar to me--and I'm glad. They're not just general writing sites. They specifically target students. They target students in English-speaking countries. The home sites are in non-English-speaking countries. 

In other words, somebody might be buying a document from some desperate foreigner who's trying to pretend to be me...and whose country might not be on the best of terms with the the student's native country...and who might have plans to use the student's use of their service for purposes of blackmail, later on. "Before electing this person to the city council, you should know that person scraped through college by paying professional writers to write per term papers!" 

Students of the world...In theory there's absolutely no reason why you can't be inspired by the research done by foreign hack writers as easily as you could by the work of American hack writers. Science is global. Not that I'm writing from a university library and citing material from medical, science, and legal journals here. But someone who's desperate enough to borrow the identity of an obscure,  penniless American might be sitting in a university library in Nigeria or Russia or Tuvalu, having studied written English for six or eight years and being fully qualified to translate the great works of English literature, feeding you cutting-edge scientific research for five dollars a day. 

What's wrong with that? Nothing--provided that you use such people's sample papers as part of your own research. You can even cite a professional writer's sample term paper as the source of a quote, if the pro put something really well; the form for that is something like "[Name or screen name]. Personal correspondence," or "[Name or screen name]. Unpublished paper." 

But just be quite sure that anyone who might some day go back and check would be able to see significant differences between the professional writer's paper and your paper, especially including a couple of phrases your teacher will recognize as things the teacher, you, or a classmate said in that classroom.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Hasty Status Update

Well. It's May, right? In the absence of a contract, who wants to spend a day of this gorgeous yard work weather looking at a computer? So I've been offline for, er um, almost two weeks. This is normal except that, before going offline, I tossed off an invitation at another Blogspot-hosted forum for a crowd with a history of overloading Disqus to consider coming over here while their host is ill. A regular commenter had stepped up and invited them, then mentioned feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of a daily blog post.

I can do a daily post, as regular readers may remember. Even in the absence of hordes of lively and inspiring commenters I can do a daily post. Who knows what a horde of commenters might inspire this web site to do. Even in the absence of Grandma Bonnie Peters, the non-writers here are a lively crowd too. Disqus was working here, for a few years when people weren't using it. I'd like to see the horde's links and jokes here. I was serious about the comment when I typed it, and I will make it happen if people want it to happen--that horde, or any other horde.

But what an impression to make on a few dozen e-friends...Well, I assumed that they could click on my Disqus picture and see a link to this blog. They say that's not correct. But then I just blinked out for, what's it been, twelve days? And I don't have any cool, snarky comments on the news at this moment. 

I'm serious, though, about restoring Disqus, and daily posts (with Petfinder pictures), if people want them. Let's say seven people. If you're one of the seven, you may post a comment here or post one on Twitter.

How to Advertise at This Site

Google shows that a lot of you readers are looking for a way to advertise your sites, cheap. That's not a problem if your sites comply with the rules. Like everything in cyberspace my ad policy has grown and changed, so here are the new rules...

1. The cheapest way to get advertised here is just to make, sell, or do something that a member of this web site finds worth advertising. In that case we may advertise your product or service free of charge. But you must continue consistently to please us. If disappointed we may feel especially obliged to warn people so that they’ll not be disappointed too.

If you are an elected official to whom one of us has sent an Internet petition or a real letter, your replies and further e-mail will appear here free of charge, as received, as being part of the public record. The cheapest advertising an elected official can get is a public record of having represented constituents well.

Though all posts at this site are tagged “Posted by Priscilla King,” because that’s how our hosted system works, at least theoretically four other living people have the right to post their own writing here under their own screen names.

2. If none of us has used your product or service, you must pay to advertise it and the post that mentions it will mention that it’s a paid advertisement. Paid ads may or may not relate directly to written content. Products and services advertised in paid ads may be available in countries other than the United States where this web site is read; Google publishes the blog in many countries and may offer automatic translation into their languages.

a. Paid ads may consist simply of links, with or without pictures. You may post a paid ad as a comment, in which you may make any legitimate statement you choose to make about your product or service, or have a link and/or graphic appear in the original post. The price is $5 per link.

b. Paid ads may appear in product-supportive posts if your product or service is reasonably compatible with this web site. Topics of these posts do not need to have appeared at this site before. Posts will not claim that we use the product or service if we don’t. Posts may include favorable comments on your web site’s design or content, your product’s or service's Amazon ratings, the look of your product, any public statements of support for any cause we may also support, etc., if those comments occur sincerely to me or to someone who agrees to be quoted.

The price for product-supportive posts generally reflects the length of the post and any research it may include. Since Fiverr adopted an alarming policy of automatically accepting jobs before freelancers actually see the offers, I’m no longer available there, so here is the rate schedule I used to have or would have displayed at Fiverr:

(i) “One screen” posts are short (500 words or fewer), simple posts that use up very little memory and are most likely to be read by people using older laptop computers, tablet computers, or cell phones. This is a large audience so don’t underestimate the reach of posts that are accessible to them. Short simple posts cost $5. They are most likely to be read during the week they appear. People who are employed in your business—your employees, or your competitors’—will keep coming back to older posts in this category. Prospective customers, not so much. You may want to consider paying for fresh short posts each month. A short post may contain a small picture and typically contains one or two links.

Short posts may be “search engine optimized” but should not look obviously “keyword-stuffed.” Thus, if your product is “flower arrangements for weddings,” it would include related phrases like “bride’s bouquet,” “bridegroom’s lapel,” “bridesmaid,” “mother of the bride,” and “souvenirs for guests,” but in a short post, trying to work in “flower arrangements in bride’s bouquet” and “flower arrangements in souvenirs for guests” would look repetitious and actually be down-rated by the more sophisticated search engines.

(ii) Typical blog posts contain 500 to 1500 words and may contain more links, pictures, and keyword phrases. Paid ad posts usually include general information about a product or service—its history, how it’s used, interviews with people who use it, how to maintain it in good condition, etc. I don’t do fiction about alleged users whose livestock and even relatives were all just collapsing with anemia from mosquito bites until someone sprayed some Flit and they all instantly revived blah blah. I do posts that summarize what customers post about a product on shopping sites; if you’re getting full marks from a majority of customers, that’s worth posting about. (Posts about products’ customer ratings do have to mention what people don’t like, but in the case of good products this tends to be product-supportive anyway, showing that people who don’t like your product are really looking for some other kind of product and should save their time by buying that.)

Pictures in paid ad posts should be either your original artwork, photos, or business logos, or the original work of artists credited with by-lines and links to their web sites. Pictures can be what Blogspot defines as medium-size (like the book jackets and Petfinder photos, taking up about half the width of the blog column, which Blogspot keeps narrow for viewing on small devices; up to 200x400 pixels). Pictures in a $10 paid post must be simple JPG, no animation, no sound, no cookies.

Links to sites other than your own (shopping sites, informational sites, books or news media that you quote or that mention your product or service) are good in a paid ad post. I personally like “linkfest” type posts, but some people hate them enough that generally one link to 200 words is considered the right ratio.

Different search engines use, and continually update, different algorithms so there are different rules about how to do SEO. You get analytics as well as keywords (how many people searched for a keyword, what else they searched for, which countries they were in) by subscribing to SEO services, which I recommend to . You get the same keyword, phrase, and question lists by checking Bing, Google, and Yahoo yourself or paying me to do that. A typical blog post usually has room for 15 to 20 keyword phrases and questions. Often the questions organize themselves naturally into lists with headings, which I think are overused on the Internet, but that’s because they make documents easier for some adaptive devices to handle.

Some ambitious blogs pay for batches of blog posts—often five per week, one posted each working day—on an ongoing basis. There’s no extra charge for long-term contracts to write this kind of thing. The more detailed your instructions, the better you’re likely to be satisfied with the posts you get. I once wrote blog posts for a Quora-style forum where the specifications were that each post had to get the discussion going with two substantial “comments” adding information (and keywords) below the main post. That level of fiction is not an ethical problem for me, as long as I have seen or heard real people expressing the different opinions for which the fake comments made room. I could not currently write a post with a “comment” representing an honorable person defending glyphosate, because anyone currently defending glyphosate is at best ignorant and out of date, and would have to sound like it. I could not currently write a “comment” representing a bigot as an intelligent, decent human being. I could easily write posts with “comments” representing someone who admires Donald Trump and someone who hates him, or someone who enjoys driving a car and someone who’s willing to drive only after others have demonstrated that they’re unfit, because I know real people who honestly express a full range of opinions and experiences on that kind of topics.

(iii) Original offline research is appropriate for some typical blog posts or full-length articles. I love doing original offline research but it costs money—$50 per day plus travel expenses, and where I live, travel expenses usually involve paying a driver $50 per day too. Interviews with some types of people, such as artists, inventors, publicists, politicians, park rangers, public safety experts, and evangelical religious people, are easy to get at no charge. My whimsical “interviews with animals” are usually suggested by observing animals’ behavior and/or animal-related issues in the news, and cost nothing. Interviews with eyewitnesses, survivors, and scientists doing independent research or teaching, cost money; I recommend $50 per eyewitness or scientist, $100 per survivor. If you talked to survivors of combat, personal tragedy, or controversial surgical procedures you’d probably want to offer them more than $100, but there might be good budgetary reasons why they wouldn’t take more than that if you offered more than that—or there may not. Original offline research is recommended if you want to cite the latest scientific studies, which are often available to university libraries and paying members of professional associations only.

I offer original offline research in university libraries on legal, medical, scientific, and technological topics. I’m literate, if not fluent, in those dialects. Remarkably few people are willing to pay what it costs, but I do it, happily, when paid.

(iv) Long blog posts or traditional magazine articles contain 1500 to 5000 words and may contain even more links, pictures, and keyword phrases while keeping the same proportion of those things to words. In theory the basic fee is still about a penny per word for writing off the top of my head, plus about $50 per day for research, but it’s harder to write a worthwhile long post without some research. (Internet research only still costs $50 per day, but typically takes less time, and is one of the few services I offer for which it is feasible to prorate charges for fractions of a day. Generally, if I leave the house or the computer center and/or talk to people, that’s a day.)

In the SEO for a long post it’s possible to aggregate different unrelated keywords if the article presents information linking, say, “glyphosate,” “cancer,” “autism,” “gastrointestinal diseases,” and “obesity”—or perhaps “walking,” “cardiovascular health,” “weight control,” and “mood boost,” or “honeybees,” “flowers,” “beans,” “vegetables,” and “global food supply.”

(v) Long “reports” or “e-books” really are mini-books of at least 25,000 words. Blog sites aren’t set up to handle them. They’re formatted to look like and/or be printed as real books. They can contain long quotes (with permission), graphics, and tables. They can contain a lot of things, depending on who’s going to e-publish them. Traditional short books can be e-published with the option to print on demand, free of charge, on Amazon and other sites; often they serve as promotions for full-length books. Amazon loves audio-books and will accept live interviews (if people speak clearly) and live music to which you have the copyright. If you’re paying for professional website management, you can publish the same script as a book and a movie. Despite my well-known abhorrence of unnecessary “updates” I do like exploring new useful applications of technology, and some apps are so easy that people like you and I can use them to build high-tech e-books. Generally I don’t consider myself a skilled professional even with simple, printable graphic design; my simple, printable graphics work, but eye thinkers might think a specialist’s graphic designs are better.

E-books are lovely tie-ins with products or services. E-books about the Bible can be printed and offered to visitors in a church’s vestibule. E-books that trace the history of food products and give recipes make good gifts, can be developed into publishable books, and can be used to promote food products you sell. A popular way to write a long novel, these days, is to write a series of four or five related e-books, typically introducing the characters in the first novelette free of charge at a web site and offering their complete story as the printed book. This can also be done with fun facts about different products you sell, with e-books on topics like beads, pendants, headbands, bracelets, and combs, or coffee, cocoa, soup, ramen, and mug cakes, or whatever. What’s an AirBnB without an up-to-date book, or basket of mini-books, about your town and its attractions? If people visit your town to celebrate an annual harvest festival, music festival, or sports event, why not a book about the festival and what it celebrates? Even people who won’t buy your products might buy your books, if they’re fun to read, and I believe I’ve made mine fun to read.

Because e-books are usually designed for sale rather than being published free for the world to see on the Internet, SEO is usually irrelevant—and since clients often rewrite them, have them rewritten, or pull them down once the full-length book becomes available, they don’t stay online and are hard for people checking my writing credentials to find! That’s all right. Once you’ve paid for an e-book, it’s yours. I keep only the right to mention that I sold someone a book manuscript with a working title which is probably different from the title of the client’s published book.

E-books start at $300. Different publishers recommend different formats for e-book manuscripts. I offer three popular formats: Microsoft Word .docx, PDF, or Google Docs. Amazon specializes in converting your scripts to Kindle and will also convert your printed script to an Audible audio file free of charge.

Should you or I read your e-book aloud as an audio file? Some publishers like to work from their own studios and employ their own professional readers. If you’re not working with one of them, and if you have decent recording equipment and a reasonably clear voice, I tend to vote for reading your own scripts. Intonation conveys meaning and most books contain sentences that people other than the author are likely to read with the wrong intonation for the intended meaning. It’s worth the effort to read sections and practice until your audio documents sound “professional,” or at least easy to understand. It’s also worth asking a few e-friends in different countries to determine how accessible your version of English is to a global audience. For maximum reach you may prefer to work with the publishers’ BBC- or NBC-English-speaking readers.

A good e-book contains general information about a topic with only a little product-specific content. A topic like “cell phone etiquette” or “things people are doing with cell phones” suggests a book that at least mentions the special quirks and features of most or all of the cell phones that were on the market at the time of writing. You can include specific instructions for using your own cell phone app, and some publishers will include links to product sales pages in an e-book, but books gain credibility by being independent of the product they support.

3. For me, writing is a window not a mirror. I enjoy learning more about topics on which I’ve not considered myself expert enough to write a lot of blog posts. I paid for psychology courses, not entomology, at Berea College (although my faculty adviser did believe that much can be learned about neurology by studying insects). I started writing about caterpillars because nobody else wanted to do it that year, and kept on because it was a nice spacious friendly niche market—there are more people who want to know what they should do about a creature they find in the garden than there are people who want to be entomologists and answer their questions. I’ve seriously considered pursuing a degree in entomology for that reason. I’ve learned a lot about cars, solar collectors, coffee, “Study Abroad” programs, online courses, furniture, and whatnot from paid writing projects; I’m always interested in learning about the topics that interest you. And yes, even when I personally have reservations about a product or idea, I’m interested in knowing why other people may like it.

By “reservations” I mean everything from “Printed newspaper subscriptions are something I’d buy if I had more income, but I can’t afford any” through “These baby supplies may be very nice for babies; I’m glad I personally have never had a baby” to “I’m glad I don’t have to own any car and I wouldn’t have this particular model as a gift, so it’s interesting to observe how many people like it and why.” I write about cars I wouldn’t keep, about places where I couldn’t be paid to live, about politicians for whom I have no vote. That’s cool.

There are, however, some products and services I don’t want this web site to touch, even if I’ve written about some of them anonymously at writing sites, including though not necessarily limited to...

* Pornography

* Paid sex, dating, or phone chat services, even if they try very hard to be legitimate social sites for nice people who want friendship that could elad to marriage

* Any kind of drugs, including alcohol as a beverage

* Any birth control product. Even though this web site doesn’t discuss the details, having a policy that people who can’t figure out the details for themselves are either too young or too unimaginative to be thinking about sex, this web site has a policy that if people choose a healthy natural approach to sex they don’t need to buy the products. (Even though some people enjoy playing with the products, anyway...that’s the kind of personal quirk this web site does not discuss.)

* Any dietary supplement, exercise product, safety device, etc., that’s marketed as anything beyond what it is in objective fact. The position of this web site is that it’s best to start by choosing healthy ancestors and then make the choices that maintain your good health for the next ninety years after birth; we don’t need to spend a lot of money on health-supporting products and services. It can be hard to draw a hard-and-fast line about things like noting that the right kind of massage, at the right time, can promote healing from wounds, and a phytochemical in a certain food may build resistance to a certain disease, and shrieking that, e.g., kudzu roots are THE CURE to cardiovascular disease that THEY don’t want YOU to know about. (Powdered kudzu root does in fact contain a phytochemical that can help lower blood pressure. Don’t spray your kudzu—those roots are worth money. Digging up kudzu roots promotes sweaty, aerobic exercise, which can also help reverse cardiovascular disease.) Generally this web site is open to publicizing facts about foods, exercises, nutrients, massage, and protective or adaptive gadgets, but its tolerance for hype is low. I like to see the warnings and contraindications for what you do recommend and a realistically skeptical view of the hazards of what you don’t recommend. I don’t like any effort to tell the general public, across the board, that anything is “good for you” or “bad for you”: you don’t know the reader’s actual medical profile. Just the facts, please.

* Any encouragement to pay third parties just for handling money

* Any encouragement to operate on borrowed money or in debt

* Any encouragement to lend money at interest

* Any form of gambling, from lotteries to insurance. Buying lottery tickets can be a nice public-spirited way to make a donation to charity or fund a special government-promoted-but-not-tax-funded project, and there can be benefits in taking out insurance, but this web site is not going to market such things.

* Any chemical “pesticide” spray that’s misrepresented as a way to “control” anything.

* Any product that’s advertised with pictures of bare skin (or other body parts, including, for the sake of consistency, hair), especially in a disease condition

* Any product that’s associated with censorship, especially if that censorship has appealed to “junk science.” Junk science is produced by either or both of two deviations from the scientific method: (1) denying the limits of scientific knowledge and thus confusing theories with facts, or (2) beginning with an attachment to a particular outcome and setting up or reporting studies in a way that supports your bias. In recent years both of these errors have led people to scream about “the science” when they meant unscientific and counterfactual drivel, thus giving science a bad name.

* Any site that’s slanderous or hateful, with specific reference to (1) Christian-phobic content, (2) content that denigrates women, and (3) content that smears all Republicans as racists. I am not and have never been a member of the Republican Party, and sometimes they annoy me too, but be reasonable!

There probably is content Out There that will be added to this list if it’s shown to me.

Generally I’m sympathetic to ads for things like

* books

* newspapers

* magazines

* web sites

* electronics

* non-perishable food

* dishes and kitchenware

* clothing

* shoes, hats, “fashion accessories”

* furniture

* handcrafts

* original arts and crafts

* toys, especially if they don’t plug into walls and don’t make noise

* pet supplies

* household supplies

* farm supplies

* gardening supplies

* camping equipment

* sporting goods (other than weapons)

* stores where readers can buy perishable food, weapons, and other things that aren’t suitable for selling online

* social events that are open to the public

* sale days at stores

* one-time ads you used to place at Craigslist before that site got so messed up

* musical instruments

* music recordings

There are probably other categories I would have added if I’d thought of them. If in doubt, ask.


Monday, May 16, 2022

Book Review: Chronicles of Riss Adventures in Sorcery

Title: Chronicles of Riss: Adventures in Sorcery 

Author: Jeanne Owens

Date: 2015

Publisher: Jeanne Owens

Length: 222 e-pages

Quote: "IT'S BEEN ABOUT A YEAR since I saved the world from the crazed God of Evil, Yangul, and for most of that time my dear friend, Arianna, has been nagging at me to share some of my earlier adventures - to chronicle them for posterity, she says."

This is fantasy in the Freudian, rather than the literary, sense. In this prequel Marissa Cobalt doesn't yet have friends, or seem to want them. It's pure girl-power all the way as the teenager (fourteen when these stories begin) bashes, slashes, and fireballs through a series of confrontations. Her enemies are older and bigger and ought logically to be more of a challenge; they know how to use things like first flirtations, alcohol, and PMS against her, but Riss always takes them down just the same. If her super-strong fists don't get them, her magical firebombs will. The only thing she can't do is undye her bright blue hair, which she punked once (in a short story not included in this book), may never be able to change back, and has changed her name to celebrate. (So we know she's really trying to make her hair less distinctive, in a fictional world where wigs are so cheap.)

Well, I laughed. The stories are episodes, don't seem to be leading up to the novel the first sentence (quoted above) promises, and aren't easy to believe if you step back and think about them, but if you're in the right mood they're delicious. Probably habit-forming.

The e-book I received links to a web site that's no longer any help at all toward purchasing the book, so here are the Amazon links:


(Blogspot is not behaving well today. If the book image doesn't take you to this page, here's the URL: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U1UCNC2/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0 

And: 


should take you to this URL: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0791MSLSF/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i1 .)



Friday, May 13, 2022

Morgan Griffith on the Baby Formula Shortage

This sounds planned. It's not as if there were a shortage of food, or as if it were all that much harder to process food for babies. It sounds as if somebody's trying to make life harder for young people who've been trained to imagine that government is supposed to care for them, or care about them. 

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

"

Baby Formula Shortage: The Latest Biden Crisis

Supply chain disruptions in recent months have led to shortages of many products we once typically purchased with ease. The present widespread shortage of baby formula, however, presents a disturbing new indicator of the economy’s disorder.

According to Datasembly, 43 percent of major baby food brands were out of stock for the week ending on May 8. In some states, the percentage was even higher.

As stocks of formula deplete, shelves have emptied, prices have spiked, and some retailers have limited the amounts customers can purchase.

Parents of infants need no explanation about the seriousness of this situation. Many babies depend on formula for food, limiting the possibility of substitutions when none is to be had. The shortage can be particularly alarming for parents whose babies require specialty formulas due to allergies or other special needs.

And just as with the current widespread inflation in prices of food, energy, and other essentials, lower-income households can be hit hardest by surging formula prices. The U.S. Surgeon General’s office estimates that families typically spend $1,200 to $1,500 on infant formula in the first year.

The formula shortage is acute now but not unexpected. Out-of-stock rates have been climbing for months. Furthermore, the formula manufacturer Abbott Nutrition shut down its factory in Sturgis, Michigan, and recalled some of its products in February after reports of hospitalizations and deaths of infants. These actions reduced supply.

Despite these warning signs, the Biden Administration appears to have been taken by surprise, just as it has with most of the other crises taking place under its watch. In fact, when asked who was running point on the issue in the White House on May 11, incoming Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre laughed and said she did not know.

This shortage in baby formula occurs as the Administration ships pallets of it to the southern border in response to the astounding number of illegal immigrants entering our country. One crisis caused by President Biden’s incompetence and misplaced priorities is contributing to another.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency that regulates baby formula, has not appeared to view the shortage with much urgency. It is investigating the issue at Abbott’s Sturgis plant. No link has been established between its products and infant illnesses, and the FDA on April 29 announced that it did not object to Abbott releasing specialty and metabolic formulas made at the plant on a case-by-case basis.

The FDA has not yet cleared the facility to resume broader production, which Abbott on May 11 said could be done within two weeks. More products would subsequently be available on shelves in six to eight weeks.

With shortages predating the February recall and shutdown in Sturgis, why has the Biden Administration acted with so little energy to resolve the issues at the Sturgis plant and permit its reopening? President Biden had time to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner and intentionally deliver a comedy routine at the end of April but not to push for a solution on baby formula. It’s reminiscent of Nero supposedly fiddling while Rome burned.

Parents deserve to know that their government is actively taking steps to resolve this problem. I and other Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote a letter signed by more than 100 Republican House members to President Biden and FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf demanding to know their plans for addressing the shortage.

Since the Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over this issue, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing about it on May 25. I appreciate the leadership of Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) in convening the hearing, and as the Republican Leader of the Subcommittee, I look forward to getting answers.

President Biden has consistently pursued the wrong priorities and provided short-sighted leadership since taking office, roiling the economy and jeopardizing availability and affordability for products we rely upon every day. Even expecting these results from the Administration, however, the baby formula shortage is an alarming failure with harmful consequences for the most vulnerable among us. It must take action now to address the problems it helped create.

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 my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also, on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.

"

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Morgan Griffith on Roe v. Wade

Editorial comment below this e-mail from U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9: 

"

Fearmongering Over the Supreme Court

A leaked draft opinion has turned attention to the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case.

Based on the draft opinion, it appears that a majority of the Court is ready to reverse its ruling in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that struck down restrictions on abortion across the country.

As a strong supporter of the right to life, I would welcome such a ruling by the Court. The tragic consequences of Roe v. Wade have been millions of babies that were never brought into the world and millions of lives never given a chance.

I’ve read the draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito. I believe it makes a well-reasoned and persuasive argument that Roe was a bad decision that took power out of the hands of the states and the people, where it belongs.

Unsurprisingly, the astonishing event of a leaked Supreme Court opinion has been used by progressives from President Biden down to stoke fear about the consequences of reversing Roe, portraying its reversal as an undoing of women’s rights generally.

But this argument by the Left and President Biden ignores the numerous laws and court cases with no relation to Roe protecting women today. Pregnancy, motherhood, and single parenting do not restrict women today as they did fifty years ago.

In the decade immediately prior to Roe, Congress enacted a spate of civil rights laws, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1971, and Title IX in 1972, that protected women from discrimination in employment, education, housing, and federally funded activities, among other areas. These laws predated Roe, have no basis in it, and would not be affected by its reversal.

Pregnancy, too, has more legal protections in our day, thus removing penalties cited by abortion supporters as justification for upholding Roe.

Title IX was passed in 1972 to ban sex discrimination in education. Among the forms of discrimination prohibited were those based on pregnancy or childbirth.

In 1974, the Supreme Court ruled in Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur that a teacher could not be forced to leave her job due to pregnancy. Roe is mentioned only once in the majority opinion among a laundry list of previous Supreme Court cases, so reversing Roe would not overturn the basis of this particular decision.

In 1978, the Pregnancy Protection Act applied prohibitions on discrimination based on pregnancy and childbirth to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, thus covering employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, and the government.

These measures limit potentially negative economic consequences for pregnancy, and they are here to stay no matter what happens to Roe.

Alternatives to abortion are also more readily available than they once were for women with an unintended pregnancy. Justice Alito notes in his draft opinion the increased prevalence of state “safe haven” laws allowing women to drop off babies anonymously under certain circumstances.

As the author of Virginia’s 2003 safe haven law, I know how meaningful these changes to the law can be for expectant and new mothers grappling with their future and that of their babies.

Single parenthood has also become more common. Furthermore, the percentage of newborn children put up for adoption appears to have declined over recent decades. In fact, the couples looking to adopt young infants likely outnumber those available for adoption in the United States. If a mother believes she cannot keep her baby, a loving adoptive family is likely available.

The bleak depiction of the future of women painted by abortion supporters simply defies the progress made for women in this country wholly apart from Roe v. Wade, and of course it also ignores the tragic consequences of abortion: the taking of human life.

As a pro-life individual, I would celebrate the reversal of Roe. It is important for those of us who call ourselves pro-life to be ready to support mothers, children, and adoptive families. Since 1973, the Federal Government offers more programs to aid adoptive families. We should also be ready to help as private citizens and members of our communities.

If Roe is reversed, our country can move on from this grave constitutional and moral error and make progress on fulfilling the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness endowed by our Creator to all, born and unborn.

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 my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.


Right. The comment: 

I am in favor of more adopting and fostering. I do think that, whether or not a fetus might have had any chance at becoming a living baby, surgical abortion is painful and dangerous for women--at best--and should not be regarded as a birth control option. 

People spewed hate when Joycelyn Elders talked honestly about some of the alternatives to starting unwanted babies that people have. I don't expect they'll hate me less than they did her when I say that she was right. Pills harm women. Gadgets have been known to burst, melt, slip, or overflow. There are ways to Make Love Not Babies if that's what you want to do. Women might have the excuse of force or the threat of force. Men are extremely unlikely to have any excuse for making unwanted babies. 

Morally we should hold men responsible for rearing their offspring, yes. In practice, there are quite a few men out there who think--even with the horrible option of abortion--that they can avoid responsibility for a child by killing the prospective mother along with the fetus. Abortion is preferable to murder, therefore a civilized society needs to tolerate abortion...in the same way that shooting a dog is preferable to letting it infect a human with rabies, therefore a civilized society needs to tolerate pistols. There can be penalties for abusing these unsatisfactory last-chance "solutions" but no civilized society can criminalize using them when they are necessary.

Bottom line...I would have liked to see the historic ruling that privacy is one of the unenumerated rights protected by the U.S. Constitution in other contexts. I would have liked for it to have been enshrined in our law a lot earlier than 1972. But we need it in our law and should keep it where we can get it.

I think we should keep Roe v. Wade

I think the people who scream about abortion being murder need, first of all, to spend their time and their money trying to resuscitate fetuses until they feel clearer on the difference between a fetus and a baby, and then, at that point, to be redirected to a more useful outlet for their energy like teaching men to respect women and take responsibility for babies.

Let the hate begin. I'm just coming out of my all-time longest Twitter shadowban for having typed the truth about an outright murder (Robert Williams, shot in the back by a co-worker in 1995). I catch so much hate from Bayer goons, online, these days that a little more's unlikely to matter. All I ask is that people on both sides recognize that BOTH OF THEM ARE SO OVEREXCITED ABOUT THIS FOR THE SAME REASON--basically, they oppose murder. The overexcitement is a bad thing. The opposition to murder is a good thing. Maybe, if people hold on to that thought, they can stop hating and screaming long enough to think about real solutions to the problem of unwanted pregnancy.