Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rights and Responsibilities

Thought experiment: Read this speech without thinking about how much you like or dislike Glenn Beck.

1. Because I have the right to choose, I recognize that I am accountable to God…and have the responsibility to keep the 10 commandments in my own life.

2. Because I have the right to worship as I choose, I have the responsibility to honor the right of others to worship as they see fit.

3. Because I have freedom of speech, I have the responsibility to defend the speech of others, even if I strongly disagree with what they’re saying.

4. Because I have the right to pursue happiness, I have the responsibility to show humility and express gratitude for all the blessings I enjoy and the rights I’ve been given.

5. Because I have the right to honest and good government…I will seek out honest and just representatives when possible. If I cannot find one then I accept the responsibility to take that place.

6. Because I have the God given right to liberty…I have the personal responsibility to have the courage to defend others to be secure in their persons, lives and property.

7. Because I have the right to equal justice…I will stand for those who are wrongly accused or unjustly blamed.

8. Because I have the right to knowledge…I will be accountable for myself and my children’s education…to live our lives in such a way that insures the continuation of truth.

9. Because I have the right to pursue my dreams and keep the fruits of my labor…I have the responsibility to feed, protect and shelter my family, the less fortunate, the fatherless, the old and infirm.

10. Because I have a right to the truth…I will not bear false witness nor will not stand idly by as others do.

[Statement of Rights and Responsibilities from Glenn Beck's speech. Ellipses his.]

Creating Jobs, or What?

It's a video, and it's longer than one minute, which is my time limit for sitting through computer videos...but if you'd rather listen than read, click here for some valuable criticism of this administration's attempt to create jobs:

Phenology: Some People Have Had a Dry Summer

While we've had yet another super-soaked summer, some people have had a drought. This blogger is complaining...

and I'm sooo envious. I'm watching mold form week by week on the cement benches outside the computer center, adjusting to life in a world where you not only can't hang wet laundry outside and expect it to dry but can't leave clean dry things outside and not expect them to be damp and musty by sundown, noting days when I can breathe while walking outdoors as distinct from days when I feel that breathing outdoors requires gills...does anybody remember the concept of clean, clear, dry mountain air? And somewhere in this favored land, people are actually worried about not getting enough rain. Somewhere, that still seems to be possible.

How I wish we, the waterlogged people of Virginia, could pack up all this moisture in our atmosphere and ship it to the people who worry about droughts. We have so much water vapor to share, if only we could.

Learning from Tragedy: 1982 Plane Crash

First the anecdote: One afternoon in, I suppose, 2002 or 2003, as we were leaving the Anacostia Waterfront Park, my husband and I noticed a plane flying awfully low over the river. He pulled off the road at once, and both of us sat frozen in panic while the low-flying plane moved on.

Continuing home, we found that we had different semi-traumatic memories. "September 11," he said.

"No," I said. "In 1982, when that plane crashed into the bridge, and people died in the frozen river..."

I was in Florida at the time. I've managed to avoid TV for most of my life, but this was one news item I happened to see on TV, at a relative's house. Somehow the whole event had been filmed.

Twenty-five years after the crash, the Washington Post featured an article about what had been learned from the tragedy, what had been accomplished by it. The article is still online today. In case it offers comfort to anyone out there, here's the link:

Why Aren't Ghosts Naked?

Good question. My answer would be that hauntings occur in the mind of the haunted. Whether a spirit being outside the haunted individual may or may not be involved, I don't claim to know; I am convinced that the haunting takes place within the individual brain. Because I believe that, if my loved ones are conscious of anything, it's a better world than mine, I don't experience intense senses of their presence as "hauntings" but as "memories." I remember them wearing what they actually wore. Someone who believes that his or her loved ones are still as much attached to him/her as s/he is to them might perceive them wearing what they actually wore, or what the haunted person thinks they should be wearing. Is any of it real? Who knows?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mike Oberg, Mary Oberg, and Maria Roth: the Introduction

Here are some links to the recent work of a family everybody at Yahoo used to want for e-friends. Click here to tour Kings Canyon Park with AC's best nature photographer:

The narrative is here:

The writer and photographer are the parents of a daughter who also writes and photographs for AC. Here's a link to a few of her pictures:

And here's one of her recent articles:

Audrey is the cancer survivor to whom we've all been sending e-hugs. Zachary is the healthy child who appreciates an occasional e-hug, or kid-friendly post, too.

Mike Oberg Goes to Yosemite Park

Professional-quality photos here:

How the Right to Work Keeps Unions on the Workers' Side

In theory, unions ought to be a good thing. In practice, no large group of people ever form a social structure that fails to attract corruption...the way no computer drive that runs Internet programs ever fails to attract cookies. Sometimes you have to log off and delete the cookies. Sometimes, too, workers have to step back and make it clear to union leaders when a union is actually representing its leaders' greed rather than the workers' needs. So we have to have the Right to Work. Without it, unions become just another tier of management.

Click here if this analogy made sense to you:

What I Didn't Know About Goat's Milk

Lactose intolerance, to a degree that makes people feel distinctly dyspeptic after drinking cow's milk, is the normal condition of humans after age 25. Ethnic groups vary in the onset and severity of reactions; eventually even 15-20% of apparently "pure" Caucasians lose the ability to digest cow's milk. The minority of us who can use cow's milk are the ones who need a special label, like "lactase-persistent."

Blessed with lactase persistence, so far, although I know my days are numbered, I've not been greatly concerned about any hazards of goat's milk other than price and quality. These facts are new to me. However, although the words on this web page describe what can happen to a minority of people, not what happens to everybody, parents of infants should know that these effects can result from giving infants goat's milk.

Battery Breakthrough: Electric-Powered Transportation

I don't have an electric car or bicycle; I'm hoping they'll become cheaper and more reliable before mobility impairments set in, at least for me. Here, however, could be great news for anyone out there who has either of these goodies:

Halloween House Poem

This is a LiveJournal Crowdfunding project: a series of poems that tell the story of a very peculiar house. It is warmly recommended to anyone in search of ideas for a Halloween haunted-house project, like the annual nursing home fundraiser in Thomas Village. The line that grabbed me is:

"Do not say 'hello' to other people's houses. Most houses aren't people."
This is where it all starts:

This one has sad, not spooky, ghosts and may make some readers cry:

Imaginative Drawings & Paintings

Another Crowdfunding project: the artist has posted a batch of sketches (all of which appeal to me), and for a price, the artist will finish the one you choose.
I think the terribly cute "Dream Vehicle" at the end is my favorite.

Creative Shoe Lacing

Definitely the most chortle-producing thing that came in today's e-mail...Before I noticed that shoes that laced up tended to hurt my feet (I have "Morton's Toe"), I experimented with different ways to lace them, and was told that there was a Standard Style that had to be followed so that people wouldn't think I was stupid. We are more liberated today, and here, for those who lace up their shoes, are 36 different, cool ways to thread the laces through 6 pairs of eyelets.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fun Facts about the Federal Reserve

Click here to learn more about a branch of our government that probably wasn't discussed in your high school civics class, because it's not in the Constitution...

If Manta Rays Lived in Space and Ate Stars

If manta rays lived in space and ate stars, this is what they'd look like:

The artist ( is actively seeking sponsors and has given permission for people even to use the "sketch" here, as long as they link back to her site.

Buying the Corporations That Sell Us Morality

How bad is this? Personally, I've always thought that organizations, other than religious groups that require people to live up to all of their moral/ethical teachings, shouldn't try to find out what individuals do on their own time. I am, however, part of a generation whose consensus of opinion, when I was growing up, was that homosexuality was something like coprophagia--something normal people didn't even want to think about.

So the recent barrage of "pro-gay statements" coming from Big Business bothers me. Even when the statements are, in and of themselves, ideas I support. I am pro-privacy, in favor of people's right to do anything that doesn't harm others on their own time; I felt that way thirty years ago. I know these people didn't feel this way thirty years ago.

I don't think most of them are simply overcompensating, either. I think they've let themselves be bribed or bullied into supporting things they would have opposed, in the past. I'm not hearing expressions of a reasoning process, a maturing into empathy or at least away from panic. What I'm reading in this particular article looks a lot like "Yes, yes, anything you say, just put down that blood."

And I'm very, very concerned. Not because I think anybody should waste time and energy hating a large group of people most of whom they don't even know. I'm concerned because people who sell out so easily on one point will sell out on other points too. If Wal-Mart goes "pro-gay" today, will Wal-Mart go pro-euthanasia tomorrow? And will every ethical flipflop then be marketed to the daytime TV audience, via endless commercial messages and "after-school specials," as the latest substitute for daytime-TV-level ethical concepts like sharing your toys and wiping your nose?

Phenology: 8/22/11

On this cool and sunny day I'm seeing the same flowers I've been mentioning all summer--vetch and clover, Queen Anne's Lace and chicory, Queen of the Meadow and boneset, and there are still a few daisies. And trumpet flowers. And staghorn sumac, an interesting plant. But what surprised me on the way to the computer center today was the honeysuckle.

Like many spring and early summer flowers, honeysuckle was affected by the early thaws and late freezes we had this year; roadsides, hedges, and fences didn't smell as sweet this year as they normally do. Apparently some of the flower buds have decided it's late spring or early summer now, so they can now bloom.
Perhaps unfortunately, because it's an introduced species, all the honeysuckle was Lonicera japonica. There's a good picture and long informative article here:
The honeysuckle that's native to Virginia is a northern species (Lonicera canadensis), found only at higher altitudes. Picture and discussion here:

Women Who Bash Women

Granted: Hillary Rodham Clinton isn't perfect. Sarah Palin isn't perfect. Michele Bachmann isn't perfect.

Of the three, Bachmann is the one who's not been actively campaigning on an idea I don't support, but in view of the way so many spineless corporate executives have fallen into line with the homosexual lobby, I have to wonder about her campaign. Is it possible for a serious candidate to confront the homosexual lobby, head-on, early in a serious campaign? Does Bachmann actually want to be elected?

Then I see another female writer--an e-friend, actually--going into the same lemon-squeezing, nit-picking, can't-support-a-woman-unless-we-see-wings-and-halo routine that grossed me out when women were doing it to the other two candidates, and I'm disgusted.

Both Presidents Bush "misspoke" regularly. Both Presidents Bush did things that invited criticism, but surely, by now, we've seen that "misspeaking" does not prevent a person from being a competent, reelectable President.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Phenology: Grape Leaf Moths

This is a group of small moths, wingspreads hardly more than an inch across. Their English names, Grape Leaf Roller, Grape Leaf Folder, and Grape Leaf Tier, reflect what the caterpillars do to the leaves of grapevines (and sometimes redbud trees) to make caterpillar houses. They're not really a threat to local grapes or redbuds, but could easily become a threat, like the Corn Earworm, if extensive monocropping took place.

They are a nuisance around the house. Even in this year of low moth activity, if only one moth gets into the house, flies around lights, mindlessly flutters around the back of your neck, and drowns itself in your water glass, it will be a Grape Leaf Roller. If they have any idea of how to extend their life expectancies, they don't care about it...which may be why one species is called Desmia funeralis. (Black wings and bodies with white spots might have looked "funereal," but the creatures' behavior is suicidal.)

One of them tried to get into bed with me last night. Actually I think it was blown off course by the draft as I lifted the sheet.

Phenology: Haploa Moths

Haploa lecontei is an obscure, harmless moth, usually found at the Cat Sanctuary in the last week of June and the first week of July. I like the symmetry of its coloring. It looks like some sort of diagram--of a paper airplane, perhaps?
Its "cousins," Haploa clymene, usually fly during the week after Haploa lecontei. Some years both species are very numerous; this year I saw fewer than a dozen lecontei and no clymene.

Robert Adair Composes a Hymn

This religious poem actually fits several classic hymn tunes. Try it and see...

How We Measure Temperature

Schools are open here already, and for any homeschoolers or people interested in science projects who may be reading this, here's a nifty academic link:

The page says that its creators "hope that the general public will find it of interest." If you've ever wanted to know anything about the difference between degrees Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin, you will.

Words About Being Nonverbal from Stanley Shura

Stanley Shura often writes about living with a major disability. If more of the frustration it causes than the actual process of thinking with a damaged brain comes through in this article, I'm willing to believe that that's the way it feels.

Phenology: 8/18/11

Did I mention the jewelweed, also known as soapweed or waterweed? I've been waiting for it to attract a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird...but it looks as if this will be one of the years when they don't come this far north.

Also seen, not on my side of Clinch Mountain but on the side where the computer center is: mourningdoves. Here is a nice clear picture of a mourningdove:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Just Say No to Pet Insurance

When people start buying insurance to cover something, the cost of it goes up. So, the answer to

is "No, no, a thousand times NO!"

Want financial coverage? Go to a bank, e.g. Greenbank if you have an address or mail drop in Tennessee, that welcomes small savings accounts. Open a small savings account. Promise yourself that you'll put in as much money each month, quarter, or year as the insurance plan that tempts you would have charged. You won't build up enough insurance to cover much during the first ten years or so, but as your savings account grows you will be offered credit, which will cover any reasonable cost incurred by a pet's injury.

More savings will equal more credit, and if the cost of the pet's injury exceeds what most of us can reasonably expect ourselves to save over a year or two, it may be time to consider euthanizing the pet.

Sad but true pet story: once a Cat Sanctuary cat--one of Magic's foster kittens--was hit by a truck and suffered broken ribs and internal injuries. Somehow the kitten dragged herself home and, although she'd never been friendly with humans before, apparently recognized that she needed more than grooming and a mouse to play with, and attached herself to me. I stayed close to the kitten for three days and nights before a veterinary clinic that did X-rays on cats was open. The vet was willing to try to operate, for $350. I paid...and the kitten died with the first whiff of anesthetic. Magic grieved, and I wasn't happy. But I would have been much more unhappy if pet insurance scams had been around, back then, to encourage the vet to charge $3500.

Rainbow Potatoes

They're not a complete rainbow, but they're definitely more interesting on a plate than instant mashed potatoes. Check out the story (with a picture that shows up on this computer in lifelike colors) here:

Glenn Beck's Blog

Hmm...having said that I don't care for his show, haven't even bothered with some of his books, but recommend that everybody in the United States read Broke, am I going to recommend this blog to you? I don't know. Let's just say that if you're reading Broke and checking the facts, using all those masses of links in the back of the printed book or in the e-book version, this is where you can look for, post, or demand updates:

Phenology: 8/17/11

On the way to the computer center I saw the first goldenrod blooms of the summer. Is that why my nose has been clogging, off and on, all day? It is not. Goldenrod, by itself, doesn't clog my nose. Wet weather that fills the air with mold spores does.

Nice chilly nights, relative to what's usual for the time of year. Flowers seem a bit confused. That white Rose of Sharon hibiscus in my front yard is still blooming furiously. Vetch is still profuse. Morning glories, Queen Anne's Lace, and chicory are supposed to be profuse at this time of year.

Other wildlife? Still very few moths and butterflies, although I've seen enough to know that the common local species haven't been completely wiped out. I think I've seen more centipedes this year than I've seen in the rest of my life. Small mixed flocks of warblers are starting to form.

Fire blight, a fungus infection caused by too many wet summers in a row, is defoliating one whole ridge on the south side of Clinch Mountain. The trees on this side of the mountain are still young and beleaguered; where leaves have come off, the ground on which the trees are growing looks like bare white stone. I have no idea why this ridge is looking bare while plants and trees elsewhere are surviving...but I'm seeing lots of infected trees throughout the area.

How to Avoid ATM Fees

The writer known as Maxwell Payne is one of those young men who know enough about technology to explain it to people like me. Reading him may save you some technological headaches.

I could have added a few tips to this short list...

Such as: Use a bank (e.g. Greenbank, if you're in Tennessee; click here to find out if Greenbank is available where you are) that issues debit cards that block overdrafts rather than billing you for them.

And: Always carry cash. Failure to carry cash is not a sign of wealth. It is a sign of airheadedness, and lack of consideration for others, especially when others are waiting behind you in a checkout line.

[Update: While transferring this post from Weebly to Blogspot, I sighed nostalgically. Greenbank has sold out to a big, non-local bank. Who knows how much longer our user-friendly debit cards will last.]

Ode to Potatoes

For most of us potatoes are a locally grown food that's available right now...and they seem to be on a lot of people's minds. Check out this ode to comfort food:

Stem Cell Research Update

Here's a brief update for those who think that "stem cell research" means using cells taken from aborted fetuses. Adults still have stem cells (one intriguing line of research explored the potential and limitation of fat cells harvested during liposuction). Researchers are now exploring the possibility of "manufacturing" stem cells from the patient's very own cells, which would guarantee well matched DNA.

Phenology Link from Utah

Beautiful, exotic (to me) phenology from Utah:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Phenology: 8/12/11

Another nice cool night. Two more wildflowers that are starting to bloom profusely haven't been mentioned here yet: boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) and Queen of the Meadow (Eupatorium purpureum).
Here's a link that includes a picture of boneset:

And here's one for Queen of the Meadow:

Both have been used as medicinal herbs. Boneset gets its English name from the "doctrine of signatures": because the leaves grow together around the stem, people hoped it could cure broken bones (maybe if you sacrificed the right animal in the right phase of the moon). Also, it tastes incredibly bitter, so it ought to be healthy, right? It does actually seem to help people fight off fevers. Queen of the Meadow is better known nowadays as a pretty, showy flower.

Using Psychological Terms in Verbal Abuse

Following up on something I posted on 8/8/11, here's an example of the kind of verbal abuse I think Jesus had in mind when he used the words translated as "call his brother 'thou fool'". The host here is one of LiveJournal's best known bloggers, a left-wing Christian who is bothered by right-wing Christians' tendency to sit around waiting for The Rapture rather than tackle issues in this present world. A guest with what has to be a well-honed talent for verbal abuse has attacked "Christians Who Take The Bible Seriously." On behalf of all of us, a blogger who self-identifies as a Catholic monk has objected. A flamewar begins here:

Long-term fan of Ozarque's that I am, I believe she erred in chastising the guest who disagreed with her point of view, without realizing that the one who agreed with her sounds equally "hurtful," here:

In this discussion, and again in the one that starts the next day, other guests leap in with the assumption that Thomb has Asperger's Syndrome:

I submit that this form of verbal abuse is even more obnoxious than a more obvious, juvenile attack, along the lines of "Let's all just pick on this Catholic here."

It's startling to find this verbal abuse at the official verbal self-defense blog, but this form of verbal abuse is insidious and can happen anywhere...until we recognize how harmful it is.

Christian-Phobia Is "Hurtful"

I don't like the word "hurtful," actually, or the thinking behind it. I hear it as a signal indicating "I demand that everybody tiptoe around my mood disorder."

There are two ways to ask someone to modify their behavior. By far the more productive way is to describe, in clear, objective, positive terms, what you would like them to do instead of what they've done that's bothered you.

If you can't do that, and you feel that you have to talk about your little hurt feelings, the way to do that without becoming the obvious verbal abuser is to describe, in clear, objective, positive terms, what the other person has done that has hurt your feelings. (I'm doing that here, yes.)

There are older, better understood words that summarize your opinion of someone else's behavior, like "harmful" (when you can identify material harm done by the behavior) or "offensive" (when you can identify the person offended) or "disrespectful" (when you can explain how the behavior violated your standards of due respect for others). "Hurtful" sounds whiny.

However, while we're here: In this blog, although ideally everybody will always show due respect for everybody, it's the Christian-phobics who are required to be careful about posting anything Christians might find "hurtful," or disrespectful.

Obamacare Damage Control

For the first time in many months, something from Yahoo really made me go "yahoo!":

Now let's all cross our fingers (while thinking, and then hit those keyboards) and hope they find ways to strike the many, many other bad things from Obamacare.

For example (thanks to my former Congressman, Rick Boucher, for pointing this out during the debate), in its current form the proposal known as Obamacare would deny benefits to several disabled senior citizens who've already survived one arduous process of proving that they are indeed disabled. Do they really need to go through the process again? It takes years.

What to Do If You Don't Have Air Conditioning

Five stars to this article. It's funny, it's timely, and it's accurate. And it's still useless to me, because the wiring for the air conditioner at the Cat Sanctuary runs through the attic, where it's still not been possible to replace the wiring, because it's not been possible to replace the roof.

A Lasko fan is all I can use to prevent heat exhaustion, prevent my home computer from melting, and dry out things that get wet when the roof leaks.

The roof has leaked badly ever since the cyclone at the end of April. How is this relevant, in August? It's relevant because writing for the Internet is my job. Your responses are what it's going to take to fix the roof.

(Update: I'm transferring this post to Blogspot in November, and although air conditioning won't be needed here for several months, you still need to use the "Support" button at the top of this page, and the "Purchase" buttons at the bottoms of book reviews and handcraft pictures, to help fix the roof. If the buttons don't work, click on the e-mail address at the top of the page and explain which button you were trying to use.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Faint Hope of Victory for Organic Farm

Quite the most encouraging thing that's been in my e-mail today.

Phenology: 8/11/11

This has been a strange heat wave. One or more days of 90-degree heat, 90-percent humidity, will be interrupted by nasty thunderstorms that don't cool or clear the air, and then suddenly a cool, clear night will just blow in, providing some relief. Last night I actually pulled the coverlet over me instead of the sheet! It felt very nice.

Flower not mentioned yesterday: for the first time in my life, I walked close enough to kudzu to see the blossoms. Kudzu has infested certain vacant lots for years, but this is the first time I've seen blossoms growing within reach of a public road.

If the blossoms are not within reach of a public road, and have not been sprayed with herbicides, they're edible. They are one local organic food that some people may actually pay you to harvest! Here's a recipe for kudzu blossom jelly, with photos showing blossoms on the vine, in a bowl, and cooked:

Digging up kudzu by the roots is quite a chore (the roots can be the size of your leg) but it may become worthwhile as more people explore the possibilities of dried kudzu root powder as an herb. It can be used like cornstarch or arrowroot in cooking, to thicken food. In combination with an overall anti-hypertension diet, other herbs like garlic and turmeric, exercise, and meditation, kudzu may also help control hypertension.

Tracking the Poll Numbers

This unofficial straw poll shows Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann far ahead of any other pair of Republicans--5506 votes, as of today, followed by Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann with 1790 votes.

The polling technique is questionable. I think the poll has been e-mailed primarily to people on Cain's and/or Bachmann's e-mail lists, which tends to skew results a bit. If you're not on either of their lists, but there's any chance of your voting for a Republican President in 2012, please pick a pair of Republicans you consider electable and "vote" here:

Some Books You Can't Buy From Me

Why not? Because they're available directly from Bridget Delaney's web site:

Christian Graphics at LiveJournal

This blog seems to be basically a series of posters, many inspired by the "Writer's Block" prompts LiveJournal likes to toss out every day or two. Lots of pretty, colorful know you're reading the blog of a true word person when I admit that this is the one I'd be most likely to hang on my office wall:

This one has a delightful picture, a blog post, and a message:

This one is for all the guys who are doing their best to be good fathers (or uncles or grandpas):

Why Is LiveJournal So Russian?

(This post has been transferred here just in case it's responsible for this blog's otherwise unexplained audience in Russia.)

A confession (should I try to scale down the font to make it look like a whisper): I don't actually read Russian. I used to work in Washington offices where it seemed to be a status symbol to hand a Russian address to someone using a U.S. word processor and say, "Send them a copy of this." I used to carry around a cheat-sheet for phonetic transcriptions. I also have, on my hard drive at home, a huge "Words & Names" database (prints out to about 1000 pages, 8-point Times Roman) that incorporates a phonetic Russian dictionary; for just one e-dollar you can use the e-mail link at the top of the page to request fun facts about any word or name from the database. But I don't understand the language at all.

So all the clever blogs posted on LiveJournal in Russian are lost on me, and it's sort of annoying to read the "Writer's Block" posts and find that 29 of the first 30 posts are Russian, or go to the ads page and find that all the ads are Russian...

Here, a more empathetic American whose screen name is Stryck explains their point of view:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Do We Need Another Speech Taboo?

The social taboos we have against "politically incorrect" language are tedious enough. Like the ignorant reactions to "tar-baby" (no, the analogue would not be "white trash," it would be "vanilla"). Still, it's interesting to remember what Jesus had to say about hateful speech. He said that just feeling angry would be dangerous, and calling someone an openly insulting name could apparently get his first-century Jewish audience in trouble with their local religious/political "council," but calling someone a fool was what put people in danger of the Eternal Fire.

Obviously the use of "fool" has changed since King James's time; this is not the way many of us use "fool" in English. I propose that the analogue would be the way we talk about mental illness...not when we merely use "crazy" or "batty" or "wacko" in juvenile-level verbal abuse, but when we get pseudo-empathetic in serious, adult-to-adult verbal abuse.

Some of us may feel that judging someone's whole mind to be "sick" or defective is less "hurtful" than judging their behavior to be rude, stupid, antisocial, or whatever. I don't feel that way, and apparently neither did Jesus. When we label behavior, however harshly, we are at least leaving the person the option of changing to more acceptable behavior. When we label the person mentally ill, we're saying "Anything this person says or does can be regarded as a symptom; we don't have to relate to this person on equal terms."

AC article titles may be demanded by sponsors or changed without permission by editors, so the author is not necessarily to blame, but here's an example:

I propose that we make this an unacceptable question for anyone, ever, to ask. "Be bipolar" should be considered an acceptable phrase only when a patient goes to a doctor and asks, "Could I be bipolar?"

Phenology: 8/10/11

Despite a nasty heat wave and more nasty storms, things are looking almost normal for this time of year. I'm seeing a lot more centipedes and millipedes than usual; the basement's being colonized by a species I've not even noticed before. Not many moths, although I saw another Luna yesterday. Lots of summer wildflowers: some vetch and clover persist, some daisies, a few diehard asters, lots of Queen Anne's Lace, chicory, dayflowers, thistles, morning glories.

There are two distinct species of dayflowers in Virginia, and actually the one many people would consider prettier is the one that's considered a weed. Here's Commelina virginica, the native plant:

This picture is a bit more colorful:

But Commelina communis, the pretty ornamental flower introduced from Asia, is considered invasive:

Both grow in my yard, and I see some flowers that might even be hybridized.

Celebrity Update: Roseanne Barr

I've not seen the video in question, but comparing what the reviewer says Roseanne's saying now with what she wrote in her memoirs reminds me of this celebrity trivia fun fact: Roseanne Barr's show divebombed shortly after the star comedian started taking serotonin-boosting medication, which causes "pseudomemories" and delusional behavior in 5-10% of all users.

(Note that this is not verbal abuse; it's a fact that Roseanne told the world she was using these dangerous drugs.)

Talking to Listening Pets

A very important point for those who happen to be blessed with Listening Pets: it takes much longer for them to learn combinations and idioms, especially combinations of words they may have learned as triggers like "sit down" or "no food." This seems to be true for humans too. If we learn a phrase as a combination of particles (words), we can then isolate the particle within the phrase that distinguishes "food now" from "no food now" or "up the steps" from "down the steps." If we initially learn that one sound means one thing and another sound means another thing, then it will be much harder to understand that the combination of those two sounds means something completely different. Humans do learn words like "pineapple," but can we blame other animals if they never learn that "sit down" might mean something different from either "Sit!" or "Down!"?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why I Don't Twitter

I've actually chosen to force myself to spend most of my time living back in the mountains where telephone service is sporadic, radio reception is reliable within ten miles, and modems, like TV sets, are basically a waste of space. I don't see e-mail until I go to a public computer center. What I do online needs to be generating revenue to be a justifiable use of time. So, this is my official apology to e-friends who think the Internet is a social medium. I don't think it's a safe social medium for youall either, but for me it's not even a workable social medium. I'm here strictly for money.

Tea Party Shows Signs of a True Grassroots Movement

You know a political movement really does come from the "grassroots" when some of the people who are united around one particular cause are completely opposed on some other issue, and they're still using the same name for themselves. The Tea Party is a network of local groups of individuals. There is no central organization saying that everyone who wants to repeal Obamacare and cut spending has to agree on any other issues, e.g. wildlife, abortion, foreign policy, etc.

With this in mind:

shows just how drastically some Tea Partiers disagree with me. I think motorboats, and motorcars, and planes, should be used only when necessary, preferably subject to votes by several people, and not even owned by the majority of individuals. I'm not trying to push people toward this level of eco-enlightenment; I was born and raised there. For me, motorboats in a wildlife preserve feel as loathsome as child abuse.

And I still think we need to repeal Obamacare and cut spending. For me, Greenness and frugality work both ways.

Video: Are Statins Safe?

Barton Publishing has finally brought out a video called "The Great Blood Pressure Hoax." Unfortunately, my eyes aren't up to watching a video on a computer, so I'm not watching it, nor am I asking you to. I am asking you to help demand that Barton Publishing publish the facts they've gathered in a nice, printable, eye-friendly text format.

I know statin drugs can make people much sicker than they were, because I watched them have horrific effects on a friend. I've been waiting for more documentation on this effect for a few years...but, as with the appalling side effects of popular antidepressants, and the much more mundane but still very unpleasant effects of good ol' aspirin, and other chemicals Big Pharma wants people to pop every morning as if they were vitamin supplements, information about side effects has been much more effectively suppressed than, say, information about the side effects of vitamin supplements.

Underfunded Overachieving Schools

(This was posted in response to a Yahoo article that has since disappeared.)

I think underfunding may actually be good for a school. That's because I went to a small, poorly funded school in a small, working-class town. We had competitions in everything from football to spelling. The other school against which we competed, year after year, was a small, poorly funded school in a small, working-class town on the other side of the state. I had no idea how many other schools existed in our state.

There were years when a state-level competition would feature some other rival school besides Martinsville, but in our size category it really was Gate City vs. Martinsville, in some competition or other, year after year. Better funded schools just didn't make it to the final cut. There'd be one year when we heard that some school like Gretna or Pocahontas existed, and then nobody ever heard from them again--if we were successful in next year's competition, it would involve Martinsville. Again.
This is still going on, I might add. Gate City added a few more state championships to its long list last year and expects a few more in the coming year.

Teachers need to give up the misbelief that schools need more and more money. Yes, more classroom gimmicks and gadgets would be fun. Yes, higher salaries for teachers would be nice. But when the economy is tight, teachers need to believe completely in the truth of "We don't need the goodies they have. We can do more with less than they can." If teachers, parents, and students believe this, it will be true.

Why Public Places Don't Need Infant-Free Zones

Because there's really no way to predict the age or size of the individual most likely to engage in obnoxious infantile behavior in a public place...
(But a funny thing happened while I was transferring this post over from Weebly. I heard a sniffle behind my back, turned to see a small child riding around on its father's hip, and had the immediate reaction, "Why can't those people keep their sick child at home?" I think the question is fair, too. Sniffles can come from allergies, and if you are the person sniffling you might have a good reason to feel safe about sniffling in public. If it's a child, you don't know...and anyone who has or might have flu should avoid public places.)

More Reasons to Buy Organic Produce

You might prefer not to know...

Sarah Palin's Not the Only Politician with Foot-and-Mouth Disease

And then there's always Nancy Pelosi on Obamacare--what were her exact words? "We have to enact it before we can understand it"?

Dangerous Spectator Sports

Even being a sports spectator can present safety risks. No longer news, but a good example for athletes and promoters:

For those of you who like watching a lot of cars go around a track, the 26th and 27th of August are drawing near. Time to head out to Bristol...yes, this year it may still be possible to get tickets without being related to anyone.

Although it's happened only a few times in the history of car races, one relative of mine is completely race-phobic because she was on the street outside the Indiana stadium when a car flipped into the air and landed in the stands. Would NASCAR follow Barry Bonds' example if the bizarre were to recur?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How Quickly We Forget

How short a time has passed since Obamacare was Romneycare. Note that greedheads in the A.M.A. and A.A.R.P. were all for it--they liked the idea of forcing healthy people to buy into insurance gambles and force the price of health care up. But note, here, how a bunch of left-wingers reacted to it when it was coming out of a mouth that had been branded "Republican." Where, ah, where are they now?

Government Agency Implicated in Child's Death

When government agencies pile up the bureaucracy to the point where none of the people who might be officially supposed to enforce the law do enforce it, I think it's time we as a nation charged the bureaucracies with responsibility for the abuses they fail to stop. Taxpayers aren't paying a bunch of bureaucrats to sit around passing the buck. If they don't have a clear course of action and take it, maybe it would be better for the taxpayers to take personal, individual responsibility for dealing with situations, rather than paying the bureaucrats to do anything.

Made Me Laugh, But...

These wacky psychic predictions for the next 5-1/2 months made me laugh:

Funny thing though...although a few encouraging words on some (not all) of their petitions have caused the Tea Party to send me even more e-mail than Associated Content, I've not seen anything personal about President Obama. They obviously don't approve of Obamacare and raising the debt limit--nor do I--but so far as they'll admit, anyway, even the ones who want Obama, Reid, and Pelosi deported think they deserve nice new homes in their next country.

Which reminds her recent book, The Obama Diaries, Laura Ingraham asks where the satirists have been all these years we've had the Obamas to kick around. She names two well-known satirists--raising the obvious rejoinder that Christopher Buckley had more compelling things to write about (see Losing Mum and Pup).

I'll tell her where I've been. I have been lurking. I remember all the nasty rumors and threats that circulated during Election 2008, and I do not want the Obamas' kids to lose their parents. No matter how funny their father's cigarettes, their mother's nagging, and La Glapion's "fabulosity" can be made (and Ingraham does make them funny). And I also do not want Obamacare to gain a martyr.

Which reminds me...Ingraham's first two books are Books You Can Buy From Me. As always, living authors get the option of a 10% royalty.

I'm not going to try to insert buttons from this computer today. To buy Ingraham's secondhand books from me, send me a message. Click here to indicate whether you want The Obama Diaries ($10 + shipping), Shut Up and Sing ($5 + shipping), or The Hillary Trap ($5 + shipping); as always, shipping charges don't apply to local readers who buy the books in real life.

Mark Warner Explains His Vote

When you're deeply in debt, what's the first thing you do? You don't borrow more money; you reduce spending. I signed a petition to this effect and received a nice (generic) e-mail from the office of Senator Mark Warner, pointing out that if Congress hadn't "compromised" on raising the Debt Ceiling, all the voters and taxpayers who pay mortgages and use credit cards would have been feeling the blow.

The Senator made an excellent point. I don't pay a mortgage or use a credit card. I recommend that others try to wean themselves off these things too, because the money you're spending to pay interest is not doing any good to anyone you're likely to want to do good to. But all of us need to think frugally if we hope to achieve a more frugal nation

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Union Membership Needs to Be a Choice

Labor unions have done a lot of good things for full-time employees...and a lot of harm for self-employed, part-time, semi-retired, and at-home workers. I don't belong to any union, and don't want to. I respect other people's right to unionize...but I want to warn them that failing to respect co-workers' right not to join the union will inevitably cause the union to become just an additional tier of management.

Rights of Which Women, Exactly?

This is really controversial...I know women who find it deeply offensive that any religious teaching ever required women to cover themselves in any way (although I'm told that all the Koran requires is that women wear shirts in the presence of men, that veils are an option that originated in the desert where men use them too). And I also know women who find it deeply offensive that society demands that we display our body shapes, hair, or faces, and that we conform to certain stereotypes about the way these displays "should" look.

Consider the American Muslim students who insist on wearing head scarves on any campus near you. Whether their hair is kinky or wispy, I'd bet that every one of them has inherited a type of hair that happens to be unfashionable, and prefers covering up the whole issue (the hair) rather than spending time and money on efforts to make their hair conform to a pattern set by a different genetic type of people. And some days I enjoy other people's enjoyment of my wispy hair, and some days I wish people would accept that, although I'm not a Muslim, I may still want to wear a head scarf.

I'd support legislation to criminalize forcing anyone to dress in a certain way (although it'd be hard to enforce), but for that very reason, as a feminist I would oppose any ban on any degree of veiling or covering an individual woman may choose.

Driving While Mature

As loyal local lurkers know, one of the Cat Sanctuary humans has been involved in an accident recently. She, of course, maintains it was totally the other driver's fault. I wasn't there, but visualize the accident as it was described to me as one in which both drivers were somewhat at fault. Nevertheless...consider this quote:

The other driver's statements at the scene strongly indicated that a drug test would have been appropriate...but the traffic court judge automatically assumed that the 70-plus driver just needed a brush-up driver's training course! Please beware of stereotypes, Your Honor.

"Everything's a Disease These Days..."

I wish he'd gone into more detail about the harm that's done when every form of human discontent is misconstrued as a disease: the murders provoked when people who aren't serotonin-deficient take serotonin boosters and develop violent psychoses, the careers ruined when children who may or may not have genuine learning disabilities are misidentified with those who (whatever the trendy euphemism is these days) have genuine thinking disabilities, the side effects produced when pain that's caused by bad posture and habits is mistreated with medication instead of correcting the cause...but that's not what I'm online to do today, either, so I can see why Goldacre didn't bother to make this more than a rant.

Think Globally, Act Locally

What does this traditional Green slogan mean? Here's a nice, short, well written solution that came in today's e-mail:

Due to length limits, however, I think Juniper Russo is preaching to the choir and not explaining enough for the people who've never given thought to the question before. A better explanation would be a short Wendell Berry's Another Turn of the Crank, which is a nice short summary of ideas he'd developed in books like Home Economics, The Gift of Good Land, and What Are People For?.

Although Another Turn of the Crank is the one I currently have for sale in the real world, Amazon makes any book by Wendell Berry "A Book You Can Buy From Me." Due to our button issues, click here to purchase these books through our unique system that offers royalty payments to Mr. Berry when you buy the books at this site.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Green Pencils, as in Pencils for Greens

Why Joe Biden Shouldn't Speak in Public

In the 1980s, our current Vice-President was one of the few congressional representatives to be widely known (and ridiculed) outside his home state. He was ridiculed for his use of plagiarism in public speeches.

But then, when he utters his own words, they come out like this...

Great Shades of Spiro Agnew!

Organic Foods Are Worth Their Price

This is a short, almost kindergarten-level summary of a lot of research with which the writer and I have been keeping up over several years. Don't be deceived by its simplicity...if you really want to look up studies in scientific journals, you'll find them. This is just a family-friendly, condensed alert...

Lyn Lomasi Needs One Small Correction...

The problem here is that she did not get all these benefits from writing for Yahoo's Associated Content. She got them from writing for the original Associated Content. New corporate owners, new rules...and the new rules at Associated Content are not honest.

Why Your Boss Is a Jerk

Great Kid, Bad Dad


Monday, August 1, 2011

George Allen Takes the Pledge

Virginia senatorial candidate George Allen, although Republican, pledges not to join the tax-and-spend Republicans:

Salute to Brad Ochocinco

Here's a shout-out to football player Brad Ochocinco, some of whose fans have flamed him on Twitter for mentioning that he was reading Broke (by Glenn Beck). I'd like to link to the Newsmax published web page that tells this story, but the link in the e-mail I received doesn't seem actually to lead to the page...but I'm sure those who Twitter can find the whole thing.

#1. Reading a book is a very different thing from being a fan of the author. (For example, I'm not attracted to Beck's performances, but I think the work his research team put into Broke is valuable...I might even say awesome.)

#2. Now when we actually follow up on those masses of links that are so helpfully provided in Broke, we find that Beck's presentation has erred on the side of melodrama. I'm not sure that's altogether bad. There's always room for error in interpreting statistics, and at least the melodrama motivates people who care to compare the spin different people are putting on the statistics. And the question is not whether our national economic prospects are grim, but how horrible they are.

#3. Football players have been stereotyped for too long as big dumb oxen who wouldn't know which end of a substantial book to open first. I'm not a football fan, but I am a fan of stereotype-busters and promoters of literacy...and I've just become a fan of Ochocinco.

If you Twitter, please let my new favorite football player (since Jerry Rice) know he's gained a fan.

Phenology 8/1/11

Well, the heat finally broke--overnight lows in the sixties--positively chilly.

Other birds are quieter, but I'm hearing more cardinal songs: duets. So far I've not seen (through the thick leaves) whether this means two cardinal families are trying to divide the territory, or a mockingbird is messing with my male cardinal's mind. I've seen more mockingbirds here than previously (possibly due to warmer weather). They do enjoy messing with other creatures' minds. Once in Maryland I saw a mockingbird fly up to a group of other birds and imitate a cicada (made them look), and in Florida a mockingbird used to give my mother a workout by flying to different windows and imitating her patient's cell phone!

I'm surprised by how few moths have survived the early thaws and late freezes this spring. Usually in late summer the light-seeking moths are a nuisance; not this year.

The usual wildflowers (clover, vetch, daisies, a few late "fleabane daisies," thistles, early asters, Queen Anne's Lace, chicory) are blooming abundantly. At home I have a purple "Rose of Sharon," sort of a northern hibiscus, a cultivated bush introduced by my mother, that's hardly bloomed at all this year, and a white one that's bloomed more than I think it's bloomed in all the previous years of its life.

The orchard has produced some fruit...more than I expected after the last killing freeze this spring...nothing you could call a crop.