Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why You Can't Get a Cab: The Video

No, it's not about you...your ethnic type, your clothes, where you are or where cab drivers expect you want to go. At a time when more people need to be able to earn a living in self-employed service fields like taxi driving, Big Government wants there to be fewer and fewer cabs on the streets.

Need a video explanation? Here's one:

Now your nudge of the week: If I were getting paid to run this blog as a Real Magazine, I wouldn't just toss these links at you as they come in the e-mail. I'd put them together into Real Articles with fresh data, examples, and recommendations for action. Want to see that happen? Send payment, and topic suggestions, to

Swing Voters: Insane?

Rush Limbaugh has a good theory about the independent types known as swing voters...

...but actually, I think it's trying to generalize about a diverse group of people with nothing much in common that's insane. How are two uncommitted, non-party-member-types alike? Well, we all drink water, we all breathe oxygen, and some of us vote in the United States, and that's as far as it goes.

Some, but by no means all, swing voters have another trait in common. Some of us look at the facts first, while forming our opinions, and only then do we look at who else is expressing similar ideas. That would be the person we--my kind of swing voters--support.

And I don't see how it's possible for us to support Romney, because if you don't support Obama there's very little real reason to support Romney, other than some personal attachment to a party affiliation or a physical type, or maybe one of them's having once attended the same school you did, or whatever. Voting against Obama may mean voting for Romney; if so it won't be a real vote, because, for those of us who aren't attached to a party label, it won't be a real choice.

More Fun with Zoning Ordinances

In Vienna, Virginia, a zoning ordinance is being used to hassle a local church:

Mind you, I think a blaring lighted-up sign advertising a church is so tacky as to border upon blasphemy, myself; I can see the neighborhood busybodies' point. But is demanding control of other people's property the way we improve their taste? Wouldn't a slow steady barrage of quiet words to the minister be, well, more tasteful?

I once heard a four-year-old who had been given title to a new family pet, as a birthday present, whine "He wouldn't let me pet'im, so I hit'im with a rock!"--and that's what this news story brings to my mind.

Gross Profit: How Whale Vomit Acquires Value

With apologies to the rest of the family, I think the nephews will love Erica Ritz's report on the valuable substance known as ambergris, an ingredient used in super-expensive perfumes:

If you're over age forty, you've probably read this fun fact before...but this time there's a photo so you'll know what to look for at the beach.

Good luck!

The Wit of Paul Ryan

Benny Johnson picks the vice-presidential candidate's best ten wisecracks:

I don't know about this guy. How conservative can you be when all you ever listen to are the likes of AC-DC and Led Zeppelin?

Gary DeMar Is Tired of Bailing Out Flood Victims

And so am I. Right, so Gary DeMar sounds cranky, and as if he may not have enjoyed his visit to New Orleans. Maybe you have to be a person who, uh, would not voluntarily spend a vacation in New Orleans, to appreciate this article...

...but he has a point. Every part of the country is vulnerable to some kind of weather disaster. When people disperse themselves widely over the land (as the Bible teaches) and avoid overpopulation, weather disasters do much less damage, and communities have a reasonable chance of rebuilding themselves without federal bailouts. When people clump together into slumlike conditions, even heavy rain can cause massive deaths, plagues, and property destruction. And we all need to reconsider how many Katrina-sized disasters we as a nation can afford to keep on paying for.

Am I contradicting what I posted, earlier this week, about those relatives who stayed in their boarded-up houses in St. Petersburg, listening for the sound trucks braying "Evacuate!" to leave their neighborhood, through hurricane after hurricane for fifty-some years? By no means. They liked Florida; they had a right to live in Florida. They never asked anybody else to pay for whatever damage hurricanes did to their houses in Florida, either.

Which wasn't much. I am not committed to an opinion on whether they were protected because they were sincere and radical Christians, or were merely a blip in the statistics. All I know for sure is that, whenever phone calls got through to them after a storm, all they reported were lights out or messes in the yard. Nothing they couldn't handle, thank you very much.

If only to mess with Gary DeMar's mind, I should mention that they were lifelong diehard Democrats. Being a Democrat does not actually cause people to become freeloaders--or freebooters. There are Democrats who choose to take care of themselves and even help other people. (But most of the ones I know personally seem to be very old and/or dead.) These are the people who have a right to be Democrats, and to live in Florida. Or California. Or New Orleans. They are the salt of the earth, and any place should only have more of them.

I could seriously believe that God whacked me on the wrist for hesitating to offer a room to an evacuee after Hurricane Katrina. The room was there, ready for rent; I should have had faith that a person from New Orleans might have been a good renter. I didn't. So I never got a good renter and, before all the evacuees went home, found myself temporarily sharing a house with the perfect renter--who was from New Orleans. I've shared this story before. Somebody out there needs to see it again.

Yes, we should have compassion toward victims of natural disasters. Some disaster or other can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time; our home might be wrecked next.

Yes, we should try to keep our compassion simple, efficient, based on what actually happens, rather than bloating the insurance industry with efforts to prepay for "safety" that only end up making scam artists rich, too. We need to face the facts. There is no safety in this world. Some things can be predicted: for example, that insurance companies depend on their ability to suck in millions of dollars and rarely pay back any of their loot, and that if the federal government is authorized to become an insurance company it will become the fattest and ugliest of them all.

For other things, like our own ability to survive disasters and rebuild our own homes, we need to rediscover our own individual common sense and backbones. The Cat Sanctuary Blog started when, and because, the Cat Sanctuary (which is my home) was damaged by a freak cyclone that shouldn't have been able to blow through the mountains but did. Some effects of the cyclone are still visible in my home. You don't see me whining for Big Government to fix it. You see me inviting readers, every few days, to pay for the pleasure youall evidently find in reading this blog, and even post your own ads on this blog, in order to (among other things) help pay for the repairs the house needs...but you don't see me sitting around and whining for handouts.

What you do see: After observing how the September 11 attack affected New York, how Hurricane Katrina affected New Orleans, and how our local "planners" blithely rolled on with their schemes to turn Washington into a crowded death trap similar to New York and New Orleans, you see me getting out of Washington. I'll always have fond memories of Washington. I'll always enjoy reading the news from Washington. I may even go back now and then to shop or visit friends. I will never live in Washington again, because I realize that the best way to protect the lives of those who still want to live in Washington is to avoid adding even one more body to the local population density.

Dense populations are death traps...and "planners" who doubletalk about increasing population density as a "Green Thing," because slum dwellers will be less likely to own or drive cars, need to be unmasked. Yes, reducing the human population could be considered a "Green Thing," even if we're talking about reducing the human population overall rather than reducing the local population density...but encouraging people to pack themselves into slums is not a humanitarian, ethically acceptable way to reduce the population.

Phenology: Blue Moon for Neil Armstrong's Funeral

Liz Klimas suggests an appropriate tribute to Neil Armstrong for tonight and tomorrow...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Topless Day in New York

Jonathon Seidl shares photos of what's alleged to be a demonstration organized by legally topless females in New York City. However, although he says there are web sites out there (not linked to his story) that will be airing photos that focus on the mostly middle-aged women, his pictures make it clear that most of the people in the park are fully clothed. As one Tweeter observed, "6 women and 1,000 creepy guys."

Ho hum, why am I not surprised?

Clue for the clueless: Lots of people in Washington have no hangups about nudity. I've been to a lot of nice places where all forms of clothing, for any kind of body, were optional. Behavior was not a problem. Neither were personal odors--what nice clothing-optional places have in common is that everybody spends a lot of time underwater.

This is not likely to be the case in any large city in North America in August. Maybe some people are excited by sweat, sunburns, pigeon droppings, and mosquito bites in sensitive areas. Personally, I'd expect more excitement from the Republican National Convention.

All women in New York City have the legal right to walk around topless, but my guess is that fewer than twenty, probably fewer than ten, of them want to.

Richard Dawkins: Truly Disgusting

Richard Dawkins claims to know only "intelligent, educated" people, and he's not familiar with the idea of combing his hair before posing for a picture? Billy Hallowell shares more laughs at the well-known atheist's expense here:

Will Republican Convention See a Hurricane?

Erica Ritz shares the story, including a beautiful breaking wave photo, on the tropical storm moving toward the Republican National Convention in Tampa:

Regular readers may remember that I used to have relatives in St. Petersburg. They lived and worked there from the 1940s, built and sold houses, and stayed there during their long active retirement years. Married for over fifty years, they finally slowed down and died in their late eighties. They never left town during a hurricane. We used to call and beg them to visit us, when weather reports started to look like this "Isaac" story. They never did. Somehow the houses where they lived never seemed to be hit by the storms.

I miss them.

Anyway, although the outcome of the Republican convention isn't likely to be much of a surprise, this evening's report on the convention might be worth watching. Will the Republicans be evacuated from the city of their choice?

Bill Carrico Welcomes Cabela's Store to Bristol, Virginia

Carrico, O’Quinn Welcome Cabela’s to Bristol

– Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Fries) and Del. Israel O’Quinn (R-Washington) were on site today to help announce that Cabela’s, a national outdoors chain, would open a new store in Bristol, providing hundreds of new jobs for the region.

“There is nothing more important to Del. O’Quinn and me than bringing jobs to Southwest Virginia,” Carrico said. “I am excited by today’s announcement and the hundreds of individuals who will now be able to go to work.”

Del. O’Quinn, who is serving his first term in the legislature, said the announcement is a victory for economic development in the region. “The fact that this company chose Bristol and Washington County to house their first store in Virginia says a lot,” he said. “It shows their faith in the citizens of Southwest Virginia, and it is a testament to the hard work of many local leaders to make this happen.”

Carrico and O’Quinn pointed to legislation that both worked to pass in the General Assembly earlier this year. Senate Bill 607 entitled the city of Bristol to retain certain sales and use taxes generated on the premises of the development. “We worked hard with members of both parties to ensure that this legislation was passed,” Carrico said. “Everyone sat down together because we knew this meant more jobs for Southwest Virginia.”

“I am thrilled that our legislation led to today’s announcement,” said O’Quinn. “This is an example of bipartisan cooperation on legislation that led to hundreds of new jobs for our region. It’s an honor to be a part of that process.”

Cabela’s will be an anchor store in a retail development project on Exit 5 in Bristol. It is scheduled to open in 2014.

Song for Neil Armstrong

Very cool...especially the way it's presented in autoharp rather than guitar or piano format!

Thanks to Elizabeth Barrette for sharing this link.

Do Christians Need Weapons in Church?

Considering the rising levels of insanity aimed against Christians, some church leaders have said that believers should bring firearms into church with them. Rob Kerby invites readers to take a poll:


(Warning: Both The Blaze and Beliefnet will fill up your in-box. Of the two, it's much easier to unsubscribe from Beliefnet.)

A related problem Rob Kerby doesn't address is the increasing use of antidepressants by Christians. My personal crusade against Positive Thinking is my little contribution toward solving this serious problem: although naturally inclined to feel cheerful and smile and laugh easily, I believe Christians need to confront the pressure we put on people to force smiles, act energetic when they feel tired, and/or act "outgoing" when they're naturally much nicer than "outgoing" people. We need to tell people that even if you feel actively, acutely miserable, you probably don't need antidepressants, and if you feel anything less than acutely miserable, you should not consider taking antidepressants. Because anywhere from one out of ten to one out of twenty people who take antidepressants are likely to experience painful pseudomemories that often prompt violent outbursts.

If an old friend suddenly starts referring to a conversation you know you never had, or a young relative casually refers to something s/he claims to have been feeling for twenty-five years when s/he is only twenty-three years old, don't laugh it off. Be very, very concerned. If antidepressants are involved, those are pseudomemories...and as these "memories" form, they tend to include "memories" of violent abuse that seems to justify multiple murders followed by suicide. Your friend, relative, co-worker, etc., needs to talk to his or her doctor now.

Unfortunately, although the phenomenon doesn't seem to have been widely reported or studied, these people who suddenly snap into violent insanity just seem likely to be the ones who feel most need to carry loaded firearms into church. Can you stay calm, shoot the gun out of someone's hand or just twist the wrist until s/he drops it, and save your fellow believers' lives...or will this become one more reason to do your praying at home?

What about solving the problem before it starts? Isn't it time for a campaign to tone down the demands we place on other people? Instead of attacking anyone who comes to church in a sober, meditative, or just early-morning mood, why don't we direct our "outgoing" energy toward suppressing the attackers, gently but firmly reminding them, "We don't look at other people, much less talk to other people, in church. Church is the place to worship God." Then we can stop telling nice, quiet, calm, peaceful people that they're "depressed" when they're not, because they won't be complaining that going to church makes them tired. This would reduce the number of Christians who are inappropriately using antidepressants, and that would reduce the risk of inappropriately medicated people snapping into violent insanity in church.

Isn't it worth a try?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jim Hamblin Wants to Kill Boy Scouts?

Oh, right, that's not exactly what he said, but it's certainly as close as some of the misinterpretations the Old Left used to put on things the Old Right said. Warner Todd Huston shares the whole story:

If the Boy Scouts really were accomplishing a lot, good or bad, in some place (in my neighborhood the boys never seemed to want to bother keeping a troop together for even one school term), and if someone did want to kill the organization, the easiest way to do that would be to let the homosexual lobby take it over.

One discussion of how "gay is just as good as straight," and any boys who still wanted to be Scouts would be yanked out of the group by their parents.

African Painted Dog Photos

From the Perth Zoo in Australia, a series of photos of beautiful calico-colored wild dogs...

Thanks to Elizabeth Barrette for this link.

Should California Police Have Lethal Weapons?

If Californians can't trust their police to handle weapons, they're in bad shape...but Erica Ritz shares the News-of-the-Weird details:

Not only did Clown Cop accidentally shoot the innocent, unarmed homeowner; he also failed to realize where the bullet had gone, and gave her first-aid advice that happened to be dead wrong.

Does this story really prove that police officers shouldn't carry guns? No, although it may prove that Clown Cop shouldn't be a police officer.

Neither do stories about fatal accidents prove that citizens shouldn't carry guns. Neither do stories about mistakes made by members of our armed forces, e.g. Lieutenant Calley, prove that our armed forces shouldn't carry guns.

Or use computers...about one-quarter of U.S. fatalities during the Gulf War were actual combat injuries, and three-quarters resulted from a single mistake made by a U.S. computer.

People make mistakes. People have "accidents," most of which are the results of negligence and/or incompetence. In the United States the word "accident" tends to bring the image of a car crash to our minds. While twits in the United Nations allegedly twist their knickers about the idea that U.S. citizens can legally own and carry firearms, and there's always a demand for stories about fatal firearms accidents, reality is that far more fatal accidents involve cars. Stories about car crashes that kill people rarely even rate full-length news stories, because they're so commonplace.

Objects don't kill people. Groups, such as a whole city police department, don't kill people. People kill people. Sometimes they do it by accident, and no one even blames them.

But after reading Erica Ritz's story, I would have more respect for the San Diego police if they'd encouraged Clown Cop to stand up, identify himself, and ask the lady and her family to forgive him.

Words Even Punk Bands Should Avoid

It's not news that three members of a Russian punk band were sentenced to two years in prison for expressing their political opinions in an obnoxious way...

A quick web search for the story shows that global protests on behalf of the musicians' freedom of speech are already underway. (The following link is included because it floated to the top of the web search. Without passing judgment on the punkers' act, I'll take this opportunity to remind everyone that Amnesty International is a legitimate charity...which has been known to defend some people whom this web site wouldn't try to defend.)

However, the purpose of this article was to discuss the mysterious processes by which some perfectly good English words acquire meanings that can be said to make them obnoxious.

Like the name of the controversial band. In the nineteenth century, nobody was offended by mentioning pussycats, or pussy-willows, or puss moths, or even by using "Pussy" as a pet name for a little girl. When Robert E. Lee dismissed "Puseyism," a controversial school of theological thought, as "pussyism," nobody thought his language was inappropriate for use in church. The term implied softness, furriness, kittenish-ness, possibly weakness. Only in the twentieth century did Americans start using it as a substitute for another word, which had been considered so unprintable for so long that it's become unfamiliar, even amusingly archaic.

By now, in my part of the world, it's hardly even safe to say "pussycat." Those who want to be cute might describe the current residents of the Cat Sanctuary as lady cats, or Candice as the mommy cat and Grayzel as the granny cat. Breeders would call Candice a queen. (Grayzel, a sweet and quiet cat who let her sisters be Queen first but thinks she outranks her niece, would disagree.) Most Americans just use "cat" when they don't want to specify a male or "tomcat." In my part of the world, "cat" might not even be heard by someone overreacting to a word that's been used to mean a part of the human body.

In the United States we uphold the right of musicians, even non-punk musicians, to express political dissent during their performances...but I doubt that anyone would think a band had any right to use the name these Russian women chose for themselves.

Oddly, in the United States "hen," "mare," "cow," "ewe," or even "sow" don't generate as much hostility as the equivalent terms for canines and felines do. In other corners of the barnyard, the words for male equines, bovines, and chickens are also considered obnoxious.

Then there's the legitimate word for what vacuum cleaners and infants do. I thought about this recently when tempted to buy a letter to the Kingsport Times-News for this web site. An earlier letter to the editor had compared Presidents Obama and Hoover. The letter that amused me suggested that that writer must have confused President Hoover with the Hoover vacuum cleaner, because the machine and the current administration both...but we can't use that joke here. A Hoover vacuum cleaner sucks up dust and dirt, and a tax-and-spend administration sucks up money and resources and private initiative. And if you want to use the word "suck" in the modern U.S.A., you have to specify an object; otherwise an obscene reference is likely to be inferred.

Then there's "honey." Every generally understood word for any kind of sweet food has, at some time or other, been used as a pet name. Using any pet name, including the traditional ones like "darling," to address people whose names you don't know has always been considered boorish. However, "honey" has some extra baggage that, so far as I know at the time of writing, similar endearments like "cookie" don't have. Honey literally refers to a substance secreted by bees, so in slang it's used to refer to other body secretions; it's definitely a more obnoxious word than "manure." Some Americans continue to use "Honey" as a pet name or even as a legal name they give their children, but groups of women have sued employers for allowing supervisors to address subordinate staff as "honey."

Sometimes the offensive interpretation of a word is based on ignorance. A daam or dam is a low-value coin; the word and the coin became obsolete when the cost of producing the coin exceeded its value. "Not worth a dam" and "don't give a dam" then became legitimate ways to express the idea that something had no value. Though inexact, since a dime still has some value, "dime" would be a more appropriate equivalent to "dam" than the profane word usually mistaken for daam in the United States. Thus the line Clark Gable uttered in the movie Gone with the Wind offended only people who didn't know what a dam was (a group that apparently included Margaret Mitchell). It fitted into the story, though; earlier in the book Rhett Butler uttered an blasphemous curse upon Scarlett O'Hara.

Sometimes the offensive interpretation of a word is easy to overlook. It makes sense to describe a bossy, bullying, or manipulative person as a jerk because s/he jerks people or their plans around. Few people who hadn't seen it in the dictionary would guess that the earliest slang use of "jerk" described a person who was repulsive in a more general and offensive way. For me a sentence like "Rahm Emanuel is a jerk" might be debatable, but it's not obscene. Some people disagree. Since I want people old enough to be my grandparents, as well as people young enough to be my grandchildren, to enjoy this web site, I try to avoid words like "jerk" too.

It's impossible for anyone ever to list all the words that are still found in basic English dictionaries, with legitimate meanings, but offend some English-speaking people. All this post can do is try to give our Russian, Indian, European, and other international readers some idea of the kind of thing they need to look out for. There is no official Academy to regulate the approved ways English words can be used, and declare innovative word uses "not English," as there are for French, Spanish, or Arabic. Even native speakers of English are well advised to check our words for "hidden baggage" before addressing fellow English-speakers from a different region or generation.

Sand Kittens

Although they're not in the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, the Washington Post has a video of these wild desert cats in their zoo home in Tel Aviv:

The zookeeper explains that although the species isn't endangered in some other places, Israel's native population had been believed extinct.

California Tea Party Confronts Republicans

The computer doesn't show how many of you readers live in California, but here's the breaking news of interest to all Tea Party, Republican, or opposition voters in California. Apparently after intense debate, California's Republican Party voted to endorse "Proposition 31." The East Bay Tea Party opposes the proposition. This press release was pasted in from Heather Gass's e-mail, edited for format and privacy rules only:

East Bay Tea Party

Date: August 19, 2012

Contact: Heather Gass                                                                                       


Urges all California TEA Party and conservative voters to oppose proposition 31

San Francisco Bay Area, CA, August 21st, 2012:  The East Bay Tea Party (EBTP) is hereby formally registering its strong opposition to the November 2012, Proposition 31 ballot initiative.  This flawed initiative attempts to address the state’s dysfunctional budget process through various changes to the state constitution.   The East Bay Tea Party stands for smaller government, less taxes and a return to constitutional principles. This proposition violates those principles and therefore cannot be supported by the East Bay Tea Party.  

 “This proposition is an assault on personal liberty, property rights and local government control of our communities! We support free markets and equal justice. This proposition uses the UN Agenda 21 Sustainable Development 3 E’s (Economy, Equity and Environment) violating those principles.” says Heather Gass, property rights advocate and founder of the East Bay TEA Party.

The title and summary are misleading and do not represent the true nature of this proposition. At first glance, the title “Government for Performance and Accountability” sounds great and can hardly be argued against. The title is meant to deceive the masses into voting for this proposition by appealing to their concern over the corruption and incompetence in California state government. Furthermore, the summary definition leads one to believe that this proposition is only about budget reform and will bring much needed transparency to government while giving Californians value for their tax dollars.

However, upon reading the full text this proposition is laden with deceptive language and the true nature of the proposition is revealed. Although there are others, the EBTP’s main objections to this proposition are:

It amends the California Constitution and creates a “Super” Council that will oversee all levels of govt. Corruption cannot be fixed by adding a new layer of bureaucrats. Who will hold this  group accountable?

This bill takes away the 2/3 majority currently needed to pass a state budget. 

It calls for the institutionalization of the UN Agenda 21 “3 E’s”:

Economy  = Private/Public Partnerships and PLAs will replace free markets

Equity = Social and Environmental justice and the redistribution of wealth will be mandatory instead of Equal Justice

Environment = Climate Change, Species, Habitat and false science will be used as an excuse to regulate and control the citizens of California.

The “Super” Council will measure the “Performance and Accountability” of every government entity against the UN Agenda 21 3 E’s. The Council will have the ultimate power to make or stop a local jurisdiction from doing anything based this proposition.

The East Bay Tea Party is calling on ALL California citizens to vote NO and especially ALL California Tea Party and conservative groups to actively oppose this proposition!

Friday, August 17, 2012

When the Deranged Shooter Came from the Left...

Warner Todd Huston reports on how reluctant the mainstream (left-leaning) media are to mention another homicidal maniac's left-wing background, compared to how eager some media people are to publicize any possible connections between a homicidal maniac and the Old Right...\

(If you still have to type a link into your browser, I just tested--the short version works just as well as the full-length version does, from this computer.)

Meanwhile, I have to ask: What about the shooters' psychological backgrounds? There seems to me to be a more direct connection between the use of certain drugs, legal or illegal, and violent insanity, than there is between violent insanity and political opinions, Left or Right.

Rare Chickens

Chickens, like dogs, have almost endless potential for genetic combinations. There used to be dozens of different "fancy" breeds of chickens. Several breeds have become extinct during the late twentieth century.

Does it matter? Aren't chickens about the dumbest of all birds? They are and they're not. Most factory farms raise birds that have been selectively bred, if not genetically modified, for traits that are dysfunctional to free-range animals and thus presuppose stupidity. Chickens like the ones in Lauredhel's photos aren't exactly university material, but they are conscious and social enough to be entertaining pets; most can learn to recognize their humans and obey simple commands. Some chickens learn to do tricks. Some chickens even show affection toward their humans.

I've never kept any of these breeds as pets, nor personally known anyone who did, but knitters may recognize the Barred Plymouth Rock at the bottom of this page:

For some of Chellie Pingree's friends/neighbors/constituents, these chickens really did become cuddly--and tidy!--pets.

In my neighborhood, it's only fair to mention, Barred Plymouth Rocks were lumped together with other Plymouth Rocks, and raised mostly for the table. However they get their peculiar barred feathers from a different breed. In my neighborhood older people usually called Barred Plymouth Rocks "Dominicas." There are no purebred Dominica chickens any more, but apparently they were one of the brighter breeds; Barred Plymouth Rocks are much more likely to survive as free-range chickens than White Plymouth Rocks are.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Robert Adair's Evening Poem

According to Glenn Beck, today's young journalism students prefer to get their news from the Internet first, newspapers later. Why? Possibly because, amidst the stream of bad news that pours in daily (and we know it's good to read the bad news so we'll know whom, if anyone, to help), the Internet also offers the occasional tidbit that makes us feel good. Like this delightful end-of-the-day poem from Robert O. Adair:

What Would Jesus Tax?

I think Erica Ritz made the point succinctly enough that there's no need to re-type it...

Should Sally Hemings Be Listed as a First Lady?

The trouble with Sally Hemings is that so few of the facts have been preserved. She didn't write a book (although she could have written a lively one). She died before photographs were invented. Nobody even painted her portrait. Was she Black? We don't even know that she was a brunette!

The photo in Benny Johnson's article is, of course, an actress who played Sally Hemings in a fictional movie, almost two hundred years after Hemings' lifetime.

"Mistress" is an appropriate title for Hemings--in the sense of "lady in charge of the house and business," and also in the sense of "female teacher." If not an ideal heroine, she was certainly a tough, talented, intelligent, influential, and apparently very attractive woman. Whether the hateful twentieth-century use of "mistress" to mean "homewrecker" applies to Hemings remains unproven. Even if she was Jefferson's, um, "girlfriend," she was a child when his wife died.

However, the closest thing we have to a canonical biography of Sally Hemings is a memoir one of her children published after her death. The text was recently anthologized...I think, without checking the library where I found the anthology, that it was Daryl Cumber Dance's From My People. It states that Hemings had an English family name because most of her ancestors were English. She was believed to be the half sister of Martha Wayles Jefferson, to whom she was given as a slave for a wedding present. We don't really know what Martha looked like, either; her official portrait was said not to be very lifelike, but it does show her red hair. Since the Wayles family were motivated not to claim a slave child as a relative, the resemblance between the child Sally and the debutante Martha must have been strong, whether it included red hair or not.

So, if some of Hemings' children had red hair, that would not prove that they were in any way related to Thomas Jefferson. That was why some of these people's descendants went to the trouble of exhuming one of the long-buried bodies to run a DNA test that confirmed that at least one of Hemings' children probably was a Jefferson. Some people still claim that what the test really proved was that this man was Thomas Jefferson's nephew, not son.

Thomas Jefferson was ill, too, when his wife died. His stated reason for not marrying certain rich ladies who expressed interest in him was that he'd lost all interest in sex and couldn't have children.

Sally Hemings, who had not lost interest in sex, allegedly told her children that she was reasonably sure who their fathers were--and no more than two of them had the same father. She was not a "nice girl." She was an intelligent woman who had been well educated so that she could tutor her half sister's children, then relegated to overseeing the farm, still as a slave, while her charges/nieces and brother-in-law were living glamorously in Washington. Affairs with a wide variety of men were probably her main source of intellectual stimulation, and may also have been a source of unreported income. President Jefferson's brother, and probably some of his cousins, were among her, um, friends. She wasn't legally free to marry anyone, no matter how much "in love" they might have been, and was described as a harsh, embittered "driver" who ordered plenty of whippings.

Whether they slept together or not, Hemings and Jefferson definitely had a close business partnership--that went sour. Jefferson lost a lot of money by trying to help a friend, and died in debt; Hemings was one of several people he owed a great deal of money. It's conceivable that she deliberately told her son that he was Thomas Jefferson's son, rather than nephew, in the hope that this might help him collect some of that debt.

Why rake up all this muck from the long-buried past? Because I think it might help the "controversial" members of the Jefferson clan if they tried a different approach. Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson were sensitive, intelligent people; as such they kept the details of their relationship very discreet. There's no need to try to guess more, now that they're dead, than they ever allowed anyone to know while living. We can stick to the known facts. Hemings was not the First Lady; Jefferson never remarried; his daughter and Dolley Madison shared hostess duty at the White House, while Hemings drove the slaves at Monticello. Hemings was an employee, and in-law, to whom Jefferson owed more than he could possibly have paid in money.

Only some of Hemings' descendants are related to Thomas Jefferson, and it remains a matter of dispute whether any of them could be considered a direct descendant of his. Probably all of them are, however, related to Jefferson's daughter and heir, Martha Jefferson Randolph. Certainly all of them are related to the person who did most to salvage Monticello from financial ruin. Can't everyone agree that that's enough to secure their places at family gatherings?

Book Announcement: Bill O'Reilly's Wheat Belly

It's hard to believe: More than half the Google searches the computer shows attracting readers to this web site contain the theoretically banned word "belly." Do youall really want to read about bellies?

Anyway: Bill O'Reilly is publicizing a book called Wheat Belly, in which he claims that an apparently asymptomatic gluten sensitivity was keeping him from looking as good on TV as nature intended, and a wheat-free diet has restored his figure and, as a bonus, made him feel much healthier and more energetic than he did. Click here for a chance to buy this full-sized, $27 hardcover book for just $5 plus shipping:

I believe this is true--for O'Reilly. (The gluten intolerance gene is most commonly found in people of Irish descent.)

Before I developed celiac sprue in my early thirties, I went on an immunity-boosting, low-carb diet in which I didn't cut out but did drastically cut back wheat products. In six weeks I went from being a skinny, flabby cold sufferer who had to push myself to keep up with other people, 5'4", 117 pounds, 34-24-34, to being a sleek, head-turning exercise fanatic, 5'4", 118 pounds, 35-19-32. I hadn't thought I needed to work out more before I started the immunity-boosting diet, but once the "high" set in I wanted to work out. It felt great. The only problem was, at 22, I felt so bubbly and cheerful and energetic and healthy, I annoyed the older people with whom I worked. (I've done the immunity-boosting diet thing again; it's still a great way to boost energy and immunity, and lose flab, but after the first time the results have been less dramatic...for one thing, after age 25 I stopped growing healthy muscle, organ, and bone mass while losing flab.)

If O'Reilly is enjoying the same thrill, for the first time, I'm glad for him.

Will it work for you? To some extent it probably will, but there are two distinct scenarios with a gluten-free diet, depending on whether or not you've inherited a minority gene that used to be fairly well confined to Ireland.

(1): You may in fact have the "weak form" of the gluten intolerance gene. If so, you may not have had a serious medical problem while you were eating wheat, but when you stop eating wheat you, too, will feel like Clark Kent turning into Superman. (Try to remain somewhat calm about it. You will still need an airplane to fly.)

(2): You may not have the gluten intolerance gene. The majority of humankind don't. If so, cutting wheat or any other favorite food out of your diet could result in a quick, easy, temporary loss of weight--not because wheat is poisonous to you (as it is to me), but just because you're consuming fewer calories during an adjustment period. The bad news is that, unless you become vigilant about consuming fewer calories and burning more calories through exercise, the adjustment period may last less than a week. If you merely cut out wheat, you'll probably find other ways to add calories back to your diet, and then the weight will come back. And, since your body was digesting nutrients that are naturally present in wheat (as mine is not able to do), you'll need to find those nutrients in other forms--possibly more expensive and higher-calorie forms--in order to avoid nutrient deficiencies.

People used to have to have expensive, somewhat dangerous, and not altogether reliable coloscopy tests to find out whether they were really gluten-intolerant or not. Now a more reliable finger-stick blood test will tell you whether you have the gene. If you want to try a gluten-free diet, it's worth taking the blood test to find out what you can expect.

If you are not gluten-intolerant, there could be some social benefit in going gluten-free, at least on a part-time basis. Trying to banish wheat from your diet altogether and forever would be a needless inconvenience. Eating gluten-free meals, as it might be in a kitchen you share with a gluten-free housemate, is safe; you can always eat bread outside.

Some people fear that by going gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, etc., they could cause their bodies to "forget" to produce the enzymes they need to digest food that works for them. Nutritionists confirm that this can happen, but it won't happen in a week. It's safe to eat one or two restricted meals.

Cutting out one or two foods you habitually eat, temporarily, can be a good thing. If you have an unsuspected food allergy, giving up a favorite food for a month or two can confirm that. If you're trying to lose weight, giving up a favorite source of surplus calories can be a simple way to reduce overall intake. Taking control of your diet can boost your willpower and self-esteem. Many people even believe that temporarily giving up a favorite food has spiritual benefits.

Even those of us who are genetically programmed to benefit from a wheat-free diet still have to exercise if we want washboard abs. However, as many as one out of five people, who have formerly been forcing ourselves to exercise and seeing unspectacular results, may get spectacular results from a gluten-free diet.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Andrew Wheeler Looks at Olympic Athletes

After photoshopping images of stripped-down Olympians into a line-up, showing what different body types excel in the different sports, Andrew Wheeler asks why cartoonists don't draw action "heroes" with more body diversity:

It's not my topic of real interest, but as I read the article I find that he has a good point. No need to be p.c. about this. No need to demand that the body shapes of superheroes match their superpowers, since the whole point of superheroes is that their powers don't exist in real life anyway; it's supposed to be fantasy. But...which of those female figures was supposed to be Wonder Woman? One of the others looks more like the classic Wonder Woman who still prowls around on greeting cards than the new Wonder Woman does. That's the point. If younger artists do happen to invent characters with the enduring appeal of Superman, Spiderman, or Wonder Woman, drawing them with different body types will make it easier for your heirs to continue drawing them in a way your fans will recognize!

Now She Wants to Start Wearing Her Head Scarf?

Imane Boudlal says that when she was hired, two years ago, she didn't demand the right to wear her hijab at work. Now, after proving herself, she wants to start wearing it for Ramadan this year.

Why would any employer make a fuss about this? Even if it's a Disney-related company, does anybody seriously think a head scarf necessarily clashes with Disney themes? They've forgotten Aladdin? Granted, I had someone to kiss during the boring parts of Aladdin, and as I recall there were several, but I'm almost positive I saw a lady in a black head scarf in there somewhere. If there wasn't one, there ought to have been. They should pay Ms. Boudlal more for dressing like a character in a Disney movie. Not many people could be paid to wear that kind of costume in high summer in southern California.

Not convinced? Please scroll down to the comments section, where some troll snarkily threatens to sue for the right to observe a weekly "sabbath." This has actually been a very important issue for a number of observant Jews and Christians. Most of the world's religions have declared one day of the week to be special in some way, and every day of the week has been chosen, but Judaism was the first religion to build into its doctrine the concept that one "day of rest" per week is a fundamental human right. Even in the United States some employers still try pushing key people to work seven days a week until they collapse, and our traditional majority religious groups have lobbied to defend people's human right to one day off every week.

If we enjoy one day off every week, I suggest that we respect Ms. Boudlal's right to resume wearing as much of her native costume as she feels comfortable wearing. Anyone who's bothered by her scarf would probably be bothered by her accent and manners too. Write'em off as racists, raise the lady's wages for looking like an authentic "Arabian," and pray that she's willing to go on being a Disney-themed attraction after Ramadan.

Six Quotes Likely to Be Used Against Obama

Sean Hannity picked the top six on his TV program. Billy Hallowell has the printer-friendly list:

Woman Fined for Feeding Hungry Children

Angela Prattis's church is behind her summer project of feeding needy children. Unfortunately, her town council is not. They want the lady to pay for the privilege of serving food, supplied by her church, to children who (at least claim that they) would not otherwise get balanced meals.

Sometimes I think that what we really need is a constitutional amendment forbidding any attempt to enact or enforce any law against any behavior that does not materially harm someone else. The town council should be paying a fine to support Ms. Prattis's work.

Attention, local lurkers. This is where having zoning ordinances leads. The current elected officials always tell voters "Oh, no, we'd never let anything like this happen in Scott County, Virginia," or wherever. Then ten years later, since the mechanism for corruption is there, ready to be used, somebody uses it. Some rich greedhead leans on a council member. "I'll give $1000 to your campaign if you'll use the zoning ordinance to keep anybody in my neighborhood from opening a restaurant that would compete with mine." (Or, in the Pennsylvania case, maybe "if you'll enforce a zoning ordinance that will discourage people of a certain genetic type from being in my neighborhood at all"?) The council member caves in...and the next thing we hear is that some decent fellow's being run out of town because an injury preventing him from finishing a home repair project, or some church lady's being penalized for feeding hungry people.

The only safe way to avoid this kind of abominations is to declare the entire town or county a "Free Enterprise Zone" where people can do anything they jolly well want to do with their own property unless someone can prove that they're doing harm to others. That kind of law won't interfere with the enforcement of laws against smoking cigarettes, selling illegal drugs, or keeping 35 dogs in a 12x20' yard and never cleaning the yard...but it will interfere with the use of laws to harass church ladies.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Caffeine Overdose

Miss Fortune reports on the hazards of excessive caffeine:

I'd add this: For people who are either hyperthyroid or hypothyroid, it can be much easier to get a caffeine overdose. These people don't have to drink four cans of Red Bull to get the overdose effect; one cup of black coffee may do it.

Pitchfork Protest in Fauquier County, Virginia

More of the Safe (= Extremely Expensive, Protectionist-Regulated, Mostly Foreign-Grown, Genetically Modified, DDT-Sprayed, Union-Picked) Food Act in action...

Creative Vegetable Gardening in Limited Space

Maple trees will sprout (and die, leaving blockage) in rain gutters. Did you ever think that lettuce and similar small, shallow-rooted vegetables would grow in rain gutters? Peggy Layton shares a photo of how a creative gardener attached a few extra rain gutters to the house for instant vegetable-growing space:

More clever ideas below include gardening uses for old cement blocks, plastic bottles, and other things you might have been thinking of as non-Green "clutter" instead of Green garden extenders. And no, it's not too late to use some of these garden ideas to expand your access to cheap organic veggies this summer. Thanks, Peggy Layton and Bob Livingston, for sharing.

Building Up to Martial Law?

We love our troops...but Bob Livingston raises the question whether our support for the troops is being used to pave the way to unconstitutional, anti-democratic, military rule:

Paul Ryan's Voting Record

Stephen Dinan reviews Paul Ryan's congressional voting record for the Washington Times:

Thanks to Joe Miller for the link.

Joe Biden Goes to Danville, Virginia

Want to hear our vice-president out? Capture one of his historic gaffes, maybe? Or be seen on TV, as he enters or leaves the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research, holding up a sign?

Romney supporters, possibly inspired by that Noisy Room video show, would like to put together a display of reproachful message on signs:

"Vice President Biden will be speaking in Danville Tuesday morning, scheduled for 10:15AM at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, 150 Slayton Ave. Click here for ISRR Location & Directions We will meet at the Institute at 9 AM. We are asking for Tea Party backup from surrounding areas. Please meet us there if you can."
Here are the web addresses for those who want to be part of the demonstration of loyal opposition:

If all you know about Danville is that Jesse James once robbed the Danville train, you may be interested in knowing that it's still possible to get there by train:

Since they flourished 150 years ago, the James Gang will not be a problem. The small, historic town of Danville lists a hiking trail as its top tourist attraction; it also has museums and well-rated restaurants.

Love and Grief

Melissa Lawson captures the heartache of a loved one's illness:

More Pillow Talk from Kerri Smith

Fair disclosure: I'm watching how Indiegogo promotes this successful fundraising drive with e-mails.

At the time of posting, Kerri Smith hasn't yet released the video mentioned. I wouldn't have time to watch it if she had. If you do, watch this space...

Keyword time? For those who weren't here last week: Kerri Smith is the entrepreneur-mom who had to raise four thousand dollars to comply with mandatory pillow tag fees in order to market an innovative pillow. Kerri Smith's "Belly Rest" pillows are designed for pregnant women. Kerri Smith also did a wacky rap video featuring pregnant women and saxophones in a prison-like setting. Kerri Smith's rapper name is Kdiggy. Kerri Smith also markets super-cool black tote bags with the logo "Not to Be Removed Under Penalty of Law."

Anti-Obama Road Signs

The slideshow plays as a video...

How to Marry a Woman Half Your Age

Erica Ritz shares the facts on what it takes to get a well-preserved 40-year-old woman to cuddle up for a cheek-to-cheek photo with an 80-year-old man:

Actually, two or three billions would probably do it. And I hope Ms. Bolton is a big spender. The more money Soros spends on her, the less he'll have to corrupt the political process in a country he's never really understood anyway.

Pizza for Freedom of Speech

Does anybody else out there want to see Ron Meyer become obese?

Nah. We don't need any more human "Wide Loads" lopping over the seats of buses, trains, even private cars. I want to see lots more restaurant owners exercise their freedom of speech to oppose the major mistakes of the current administration, and those of the last few. I want to read about Ron Meyer adopting half a dozen carnivorous animals who can help him eat all the chicken, pizza, burgers, fried fish, and stir-fries he wants to buy to support freedom of speech.

I can't even eat pizza...but I can guarantee local lurkers that those of the cats who are lactose-tolerant will love all the leftover Papa John's pizzas you care to offer. Just as all of them love Chick-Fil-A chicken.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Californians Who Prefer Cougars to Richards...

Madeleine Morgenstern updates the story of the attacks on Daniel Richards after he proudly (and legally) shot a dangerous cougar:

Check out the comments to understand why, even if we don't hunt and don't particularly like shooting, it is still vital for Americans to keep our right to own and use firearms. Human survival can still depend on it.

Book Review: Deliciously G-Free

Book Title: Deliciously G-Free

Author: Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Date: 2012

Publisher: Ballantine

ISBN: 978-0-345-52938-1

Length: 267 pages

Illustrations: lots of color photos

Quote: "Excellent Enchiladas...My husband, Tim, gave this recipe its name--which tells you something about the deliciousness factor!"

This one's not a Book You Can Buy From Me, yet, because it's still a new book. For many gluten-intolerant people, it will even be worth the $30 new price. In this review I'll try to help readers decide whether they should rush out and plunk down thirty dollars today, or share a friend's or library copy.

First the obligatory grousing: What makes it possible for Elisabeth Hasselbeck to introduce a new gluten-free snack, the NoGii protein bars, to your supermarket, while Grandma Bonnie Peters' Veggie Burgers never reached your mainstream supermarket's freezer? Not the nutritional needs of actual gluten-intolerant people: most of us can get all the protein we need from non-grain sources, but most of the vegan "meat analogs" are gluten-based. No, it's money, all the way. GBP was merely a retiree who'd saved up a couple of hundred thousand dollars to invest...not enough for the greedhead protectionists of the American food industry these days. Hasselbeck is a TV star married to a retired football star. They can afford to launch a new food product.

Not that I am bitter. Not, in fact, that "the deliciousness factor" in Hasselbeck's recipes isn't high enough to make her book worth reading.

That's what some readers will love, and others won't love, about Deliciously G-Free...that focus on "deliciousness." As distinct from nutrition, or compliance with any other dietary guidelines. (The book begins with an obligatory disclaimer warning readers to consult a doctor or nutritionist.) There are a few vegan, dairy-free, sugar-free, etc., recipes in this book, and some that are easy to convert. You may not find enough new ones to justify the $30 price for a new copy. Then again, you might...depends on your diet protocol.

These recipes aren't cheap, either. Well, there are a few naturally gluten-free salads and blender drinks that are reasonably affordable when the ingredients are in season in your neighborhood. There are a lot of recipes that either assume that you've found packaged gluten-free breads, pastas, cereals, and cookies (some of which I've not seen in the supermarket yet), or assume that you've found, can afford, and can digest, the typical mix of two to five exotic "flours" for which gluten-free recipes are known. (For the record, at least two gluten-intolerant friends of mine don't digest tapioca, coconut, or xanthan gum much better than they do wheat.) If you're trying to feed five gluten-intolerant kids on one salary, take all those glossy pictures as a warning; this is not the book for you.

If you have been eating everything, if you're a typical New York restaurant "gourmet"-type foodie rather than a cook, these recipes are aimed directly to you. Tiramisu, sweet-and-sour stir-fries, tacos, chicken "fingers," lots of brownies and cookies, all the things you might miss being able to stop into your favorite eatery and buy, you can now make at home. Maybe even at the office. And, yes, people who are able to eat gluten just might prefer yours. And yours may be lower in saturated fats, simple carbs, and alcohol content. (Some of these recipes feature alcohol.)

If you want to take something that will impress friends to a grown-up party, this is the gluten-free cookbook for you. It's not hard for those who can buy the ingredients to achieve the glamorous-looking results in those pictures. And yes, those who can eat the results will probably agree that these pretty dishes taste as good as they look.

Should people who can eat wheat share gluten-free meals with those of us who can't? If they have an emotional attachment to the idea of eating from the same serving dish, there's no reason why they shouldn't. They can find enough wheat-based food elsewhere to keep their bodies producing the right enzymes. They can and should feel satisfied by an occasional gluten-free meal. If you use the Hasselbecks' recipes, they will.

If you use the Hasselbecks' recipes, especially during the first year you go gluten-free, you may have some further trouble. Each gluten-intolerant person is unique. Nearly all of us have been consuming enough gluten to have damaged our digestive systems, so until our bodies have time to rebuild themselves there may be all kinds of other things we can't digest. Most of these "allergies" or minor intolerances are temporary.

However, some Nordic types are intolerant of "tropical oils" and tropical fruits like coconut, pineapple, and bananas, and some people whose ancestors lived in the tropics have a mild intolerance of subarctic fruits like apples and pears. I chortled at the idea of using bananas that are "not too ripe" in order to prevent a dessert from looking "speckled." All of my ancestors came from subarctic parts of the world; I can't eat bananas that don't look speckled.

Other recipes in this book rely on cheese (often pricey cheese), eggs, meat, milk, tomatoes, cashews, chocolate, beans, coconut, tapioca, and other allergy triggers for their distinction and flavor, so if you have other food tolerance issues or share your meals with people who have different ones, you may need to count the recipes you'll be able to use before buying a copy of Deliciously G-Free.

If you want to open a gluten-free restaurant where gluten-intolerant people can bring their gluten-tolerant friends, this book can help you. And if you're a gluten-intolerant person who's recovered from most or all secondary food tolerance problems, your main question about this book will probably be which recipes to try first.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What Next for Kerri Smith?

Kerri Smith, the mom-entrepreneur who will soon be legally shipping out Belly Rest pillows, needs to keep the momentum going to make the pillows profitable:

I've signed up to receive ongoing updates from this company, because I love those tote bags. Now that the legal crisis is past, why not cross-label this under "Fashion," too. Has anybody seen a cooler tote bag since the original "Le Bag" fad?

Becket Adams' Vice-Presidential Picks

Becket Adams seems actually to favor Marco Rubio as vice-presidential nominee, but this list of the five candidates Becket Adams does not favor is funny:

How Tacky Can Obama's Negative Ads Get?

This time, it's an obvious caricature of Congressman Allen West beating up old ladies and other outrages that would not be allowed to occur in a boxing ring...

Is it any wonder that the fundraising page for the honorable gentleman (and lieutenant-colonel) from Florida was originally registered as "Allen West Defense Fund"? With attackers like that, etc., etc.

The attack ad is supposed to be funny...??? I suppose an ad showing a caricature of President Obama beating up Grandma Bonnie Peters (y'know, his Safe Food Act killed her business) would be funny? Or what about the Obama caricature going around yanking the plugs on sick patients' respirators, because his individual mandate to buy insurance means giving a third party the power to dictate what kind of medical treatment these patients may or may not have, and we all know that when that happens a lot of chronic invalids are going to be declared drains on the system.

Tacky. Tacky. Tacky!

Then least it's not a machine running down the battery on your cell phone, or ringing your home phone when you're waiting for a call from a public transportation station.

Keyword time? Allen West has not been seriously accused of beating up old ladies. Allen West is not legitimately reported to mug little kids, either. Allen West just might say things in Congress that would feel like a punch "right in the kisser" of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Allen West is deeply admired and enthusiastically supported by a lot of e-friends of mine in Florida. Allen West now has a more conventional Internet page for fundraising:

Remembering NASCAR Retiree Gerald Schild

Gerald Schild, a NASCAR racer of the 1970s, was shot and killed by a co-worker in North Dakota this Saturday. Details of the murder have not been released, but a brief summary of Schild's racing days is available from AOL:

Women Voters Rally in Eastern Virginia

Concerned Women of America, a conservative women voters' group, will be rallying voters in three cities in eastern Virginia today. Newport News? You've already missed'em. Richmond? Shut down the computer and run, if you want to meet them. Fairfax? You might have time to take the bus...

This web site is (obviously) addressed primarily to voters in the United States, although overseas readers are welcome. If you have a vote in Election 2012 and aren't yet registered, C.W.A. will help you register. They would like to meet you and confirm that you're an actual, conscious, competent voter. They will help you work with disability issues, clarify where you should register and vote if you've not voted from your current residence before, and discuss your concerns about the candidates and the issues in this election. They're not supposed to interfere with your voting for whomever you support, but they'll be friendlier if you support at least one Republican.

If you don't legally have a vote but would like to influence the election, C.W.A. will have lots of ideas for ways you can make your voice heard. Maybe literally, by speaking at a meeting. Maybe less directly, by talking to other students at your school. (Some of these ladies are the type who might put you on the stand and introduce you to a meeting as a "little Republican" before you enter grade six. That happened to me. I survived.)

Someone who wasn't clear about the geography of Virginia sent me e-mails asking whether I would at least "reach out to 5, 10, 25, or 50 or more" other women about this rally. Right. Here it is: I don't know most readers' gender, but I'm reaching out to as many women as read this blog. Here is the pertinent part of the e-mail:

As part of their "She Votes" voter initiative to rally and mobilize Christian conservative women voters, our partner Concerned Women for America will be rolling their "She Votes 2012" tour bus into several key cities in Virginia beginning today, and we'd like you to be a part of the celebration!

Here is their schedule for Thursday, August 9:
Newport News, VA
Holiday Inn and Suites
943 J. Clyde Morris Blvd
9:00 AM

Richmond, VA
Virginia State Capitol
1000 Bank Street
11:45 AM

Fairfax, VA
Fair Oaks Church
4601 West Ox Rd.
3:00 PM

If you live in or around any of these cities, we urge you to make plans to see the "She Votes" bus and meet with Concerned Women for America president Penny Young Nance to learn more about their dynamic outreach effort that is engaging, and empowering conservative women to take back our nation during this election.

+ + Become part of "She Votes 2012"

If you are a conservative woman or likeminded man who is concerned if our nation can survive four more Obama years; if you worry about the kind of America your children and grandchildren will grow up in, we encourage you to become part of CWA's "She Votes" voter initiative.
Go here now for more information and to add your name.

(If you add your name, you will get lots of e-mail from conservative Republicans.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Symbols for Atheists

What do atheists have in place of a cross, star, or crescent? Religious has some suggestions. Note how many of them are merely negative. Atheism is not a positive belief, like Humanism, nor is it a simple absence of belief, like agnosticism; it's an aggressive, usually anger-driven emotional reaction against belief.

Note, in fact, how many of these symbols express Christian-phobia. Atheist organizations should always be scrutinized; the choice of "atheist" rather than "agnostic" suggests that these people are not just Humanists, that they're probably hate groups.

Hillary Rodham Clinton Dances

Mike Opelka shares a one-minute video clip: Hillary Rodham Clinton starts out with a bit of dignified toe-tapping, then breaks into a knee-bending shimmy step at the invitation of another lady:

But you do. Admit it. It's inspiring to watch someone over sixty move like that. If you disapprove of Mrs. Clinton politically, use this video for motivation. Are you going to let that "progressive" beat you on physical fitness and preservation?

I'll never willingly cast a vote for a hostess who let herself be heard saying seriously, as she dragged her husband out of a conversation at a party, "They're not rich: they're useless." Nevertheless I have to salute Mrs. Clinton's ability to maintain her health and condition while doing sedentary jobs.

James: How Not to Write a Letter of Parental Disapproval

Mytheos Holt shares a photographed example of the letter not to write to a son who declares himself homosexual:

Why do we need to see the letter? One reason: because those of us who know older (perhaps now dead), conservative men may need to see the handwriting, and the name "James," just to be sure that it's not a letter some friend of ours might have written.

Another reason: because this terse, cold letter reads like an expression of shock that was probably penned thirty years ago. By now some fathers who may have said or written this kind of thing might want to write more compassionate letters to their sons.

The letter to "James" is not a letter I've ever wanted to write to, say, the stepson I've never met. Maybe most letters of this kind would not be suitable for publication because they wouldn't be so generic.

Maybe it will help someone out there, maybe even him, if I share a letter I might have written to my stepson if I'd ever had his address:

"Ken: Your choice to practice homosexuality was a blow to your adoptive father, but it couldn't possibly have hurt him as much as your choice to disappear did. He probably said things that reflected his misunderstanding of you, and your misunderstanding of yourself, when you were a teenager. He probably said that he found the idea of anal intercourse disgusting, as most people do. So you tried it, you liked it, and I don't know what else was going on in your life at the time but I know what was going on in the neighborhood where you were, and you chose to disappear.

"I have reasons to believe you've left the United States; you weren't born here and were legally adopted by a relative in order to allow you to live here, should you choose. In the United States you are presumed dead, because you never turned up to claim the six-figure savings account that had your original legal name on it. Your father and I wanted you to inherit more even than that. Your name was what your father's abusive ex-wife used to get away with the money.

"If you are back in the country where you were born, among people who are actually closer relatives, you'll probably find it easier to deal with her than your father and I did. Words may be what you need. So here are the words.

"Your adoptive father loved you. He may have pushed you to 'toughen up' and go out for sports, because he had had to 'toughen up' to relate to other men too. He wanted you to work hard, study hard, be 'R.A.' or 'prefect' at school, because that would help you overcome prejudice against large dark-skinned immigrant men, of whom you were one. Yes, he was proud that you were doing a man's job at fifteen. Yes, that was partly because he hadn't even just accidentally produced you, but had chosen you as a son. You've probably noticed by now that there's a mixture of selfish and altruistic feeling in just about everything we human beings do. Your father thought a great deal of you and cared deeply about your well-being.

"Your adoptive father was ill for exactly six months before he died. He was conscious for most of that time, and the one thing he wanted was to be reconciled with you. So what else could I want for him, or for you?

"Yes, I think anal intercourse is an abomination because it can spread diseases. Yes, the same thing can be said for eating crabmeat. If you or any crab-cracking Marylander want to study those topics in the Bible, we can study them. If not, I'm no more interested in whom you sleep with than I am in whether you eat crabmeat. You're an adult; in fact you're too old to be my son. Your moral choices are between you and God. I lived with the crab eaters, I could probably have lived with you.

"You and I now have exactly two things in common: we've lost the same man, and we'll probably always avoid the same town in Maryland. You probably don't want to meet me. If I wanted to meet you, it would be out of curiosity. However, your adoptive father and I were in agreement about his estate. The money and the high-rent property were for you--because your father was afraid you'd become ill and require expensive treatments. The house where we lived was for me. I'm not saying I wouldn't have taken the money, but I respected your father's intention to leave it to you. And if you had made contact with your father while he was alive, you should know that any call, letter, or visit from you would always have been welcome.

"We always cynically said 'Oh, at that age kids only write to their parents when they want money.' Your adoptive father would have sent you money. He was your mother's blood relative, not her husband, but he loved her and you.

"If these thoughts help you in any way, stepson, I wish you the best of luck."

Gibson Guitar Case Settled? ???

According to Christopher Santarelli, the federal government has ended its harassment campaign against the Gibson Guitar Company, settling for only $350,000...

That's quite a fine, considering that the company wasn't actually doing anyone any harm, and the "charges" against it seem to have been political. File under SCAM!

Kerri Smith vs. the Nanny State

Here's an update on yesterday's post:

Several readers have read it, and remind me that this web site has reviewed books called The Belly Melt Diet, and also Misery Guts. Well, yes, and come to that I also kicked around Peter Flom's argument about "souls or bellies." So, although I try to avoid references to body parts, I'll accept the claim that a support pillow manufacturer has as much right to use "belly rest" as doctors have to use "belly fat" and dietitians have to use "belly melt."

The official name of these pillows is Belly Rest. Paying for a Belly Rest pillow now, before the legal sale can occur, will help Kerri Smith meet the ridiculous protectionist licensing fees. She's well on her way--you will get a legal pillow! You can order one here...

Or scroll down below the video screen to see the hilarious list of perks you can get for contributing to the fundraising drive. The tote bag is terrific...a cool gift for future mothers who will need to tote baby supplies around, or for anybody who totes books, craft projects, or groceries. I'd like to see students make it the campus fad of the year. It looks trendy, goes with every outfit, and does not display the word "belly."

More keywords, anyone? (We'll use this tag for posts that promote something on another site, to introduce a paragraph that uses Internet search keywords in five low-content sentences.) Kerri Smith's Belly Rest pillows are something I personally don't need. Kerri Smith's Belly Rest pillows are something someone you know would probably love to find under a Christmas tree. Kerri Smith's Belly Rest pillows come in cool urban black-and-white or a trendy shade of green. If you pay more, you can order one of Kerri Smith's Belly Rest pillows in any color or combination you like. And even if you're not pregnant, if you are American you might find a way to sleep better on one of Kerri Smith's Belly Rest pillows than you would on a pillow made in China. So there.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Louisiana Teachers Union Attacks Private Schools

Thanks to Joe Miller for this link:

Another Church Attacked in Nigeria

Billy Hallowell reports on the latest Boko Haram outburst:

This web site has actively solicited comments from Muslims who disagree with Boko Haram. We have yet to receive any. Some readers may have been unable to comment due to cookie issues with Google; if so, please e-mail appropriate comments to But it's looking more and more as if decent Muslims, who are loyal to a fault, have been hijacked, bound by a misguided sense of duty to support intolerable behavior in the name of Islam.

I understand that Nigerians may be afraid Boko Haram will attack their homes next; I'm talking about Muslims who are in the United States and should be free from physical danger. Where do you stand? With the Compassionate and Merciful God, or with terrorists?

American liberal values have traditionally taught that Muslims' right to practice their faith deserves respect too. If Muslims continue to support, or fail to denounce, terrorism, then a lot of us are going to have to change that opinion. Everyone has the right to pray and worship in whatever way they believe is right. Nobody has a right to trespass on their neighbors' property and attack their neighbors. Any religion that shows confusion about this raises doubts about its legitimacy as a way people pray and worship.

Another Entrepreneur Vs. the Nanny State

Becket Adams reports on the unexpected costs of marketing an innovative novelty pillow:

I can't watch or listen to the video of pregnant women rapping about the plight of this Mom Entrepreneur, but for those who can, my guess is that it's worth the price of a pillow. It's set in what looks like a prison yard and features a saxophone.

Oh yes, let's boost the signal on the Internet. Keywords anyone? The pillow inventor's name is Kerri Smith. Kerri Smith has designed a support pillow for pregnant women. Kerri Smith's web page has a name that's banned from this web site, but it's linked in the Blaze article. Kerri Smith is trying to raise $4,660 to keep the right to market a pillow on the internet. Kerri Smith has about $2000 left to raise. Kerri Smith also has a lot of regulator/predators to expose and boot out of our government, to which they are a disgrace...ask Kerri Smith. There.

I'm adding this post to the "scam" category because I think this protectionist racket is a scam Al Capone would have loved...if Al Capone had been sleazy enough to attack a bunch of pregnant women.

Update: With seven days left in the fundraising drive, I think this story deserves a revisit. Scroll up the list of titles on the right to find it...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Federal Spending and Recessions: The History

Perry Willis shares a succinct historical summary of federal spending and recessions, with graphs:

This article was apparently meant to pop up after I'd responded to a poll using new software, but the new software doesn't work at all for this computer. Anyway, after reading the article, I'd like to recommend that lots of readers check it out. Perry Willis would like to hear from readers (via e-mail), and all he'd hear from me about this is a predictable "Amen!" from the choir.

Left-wingers, I know a few dozen of you regularly lurk on this site specifically because you don't agree with me. The computer tracks this kind of thing. Because I post material that opposes certain specific ideas, I have regular readers at the Political Action Committees I directly oppose. You are welcome here; I read Extreme Left stuff too. I suspect your insights would be especially useful to Perry Willis.

Van Jones as Stealth Capitalist

Van Jones doesn't want your kids to have a lemonade stand. Or their P.T.A. to have a bake sale. Good heavens, some little private citizen out there might be selling food that's fresher and better than the garbage distributed by the corporations that invested so much in the Obama campaign...that can't be allowed! But it's all right when it's Jones's own kid...

For the record, Grandma Bonnie Peters spent years developing a selection of three affordable, gluten-free, MSG-free, dairy-free, egg-free, low-salt, all-natural-and-mostly-organic "Veggie Burger" flavors. The demand for these products was limited, but vociferous. You know how department stores don't have to advertise Carhartt coveralls--they advertise themselves with "We have Carhartt"? Food stores in eastern Tennessee were advertising themselves with "We have Allergy-Ease Veggie Burgers." Food stores throughout the entire eastern United States were trying to contact Grandma Bonnie, saying that customers had been asking for something just like Veggie Burgers.

For the record, Grandma Bonnie was offered substantial payments for her recipes, but she wanted to spend her retirement years as an active part of East Tennessee's depressed economy, creating jobs and getting local people off welfare. She had created full-time jobs for two adults with partial disabilities and four single mothers. She wanted to extend those benefits to more Tennesseans.

For the record, the Democratic Party used--back when I found good things to say about them, which has become difficult lately--to talk about the need to support ventures like Grandma Bonnie's Veggie Burgers. Jim Hightower wrote whole chapters about this very topic. Where did all this love of the American working man or woman, who is really meeting a need and giving his or her neighbors a good deal, go after we got the Chicago gang that are currently occupying the White House? "Phfft!" is where it went. The Democrats I loved, my husband and favorite aunt, are tossing and turning in their graves. Especially "Aunt Dotty." She left all that land and money to support Veggie Burgers...

So...I'm not saying Veggie Burgers would displace home-grown, grass-fed Angus steak on most of our neighbors' tables. For most people they're an alternative. For some people, who don't have the other alternatives, Veggie Burgers meet a need. So why can't you buy them at the supermarket?

Because, just when Grandma Bonnie had invested her life savings and those of four relatives, sold everything but the house where she was living and taken out a mortgage on that, in order to get around the existing barriers to entering the U.S. food market, the Obama Administration dumped enough new regulations on top of her to demand another half-million-dollar investment...and the money's not there any more. It's gone. There's no way Grandma Bonnie will ever get it back. She was a hardworking entrepreneur with a dream. She is a senior citizen whose Social Security pension will just barely stretch around her mortgage, who has to take part-time low-wage jobs to pay for groceries and electricity.

Thanks so much, President Obama, and all your Chicago-style pals, e.g. Van Jones.

Five More Christian-Owned Companies

Do you want to support Christian business owners? Would you like to be able to do that and eat other things besides fried chicken? While Billy Hallowell's list isn't mine, here are five more large companies whose owners have disclosed their religious identity online:

Tyson Foods? Now that's a switch. Here I'd been dutifully avoiding Tyson chicken ever since Roger Morris described the stomach-turning conditions under which the birds spent their days, while Don Tyson was in charge of things. John Tyson is a different man. Do the chickens know the difference? Maybe Christians in Arkansas would like to tell us more about this.

Interstate Batteries has franchise opportunities available. For research purposes, I searched the "Store Locator" feature on their web site. Kingsport, Tennessee, is lavishly supplied with Interstate Batteries franchises. There's also a franchise in Lee County, Virginia. Hmm. People in Gate City can walk to Kingsport if they take the time, but when people in upper Scott County need batteries, can they get to Kingsport or Lee County to buy batteries? They can order batteries online...if they have computers, and if the computers have working batteries. Sounds like a business opportunity for somebody in Duffield or Nickelsville...maybe both.

Hobby Lobby is another store that's easy for people in my part of the world to support. As a knitter, I know this store well, and I've been disappointed in it over the last five years or so. What used to be a world-class selection of cheap, medium, and luxurious yarns has shrunk down to a heavy-handed greedhead effort to force knitters to "choose" an unsatisfactory store brand. In the hope that Kingsport's Hobby Lobby store may correct its mistakes and start offering more name-brand yarns again, I'm offering them a free link: Knitters, please use this link to inform the store that we like choices.

The other two businesses Billy Hallowell mentions are in the Western States. Local readers are welcome to add more local businesses to the list here.

You can also, of course, support this web site by buying any book or craft item you've seen here, buying an ad or advertorial, and/or just sending in $5 (what you'd pay for a printed magazine). If the "support my blog" button doesn't work, e-mail