Thursday, March 28, 2013

Phenology: Plover (Killdeer?)--Update, with Pictures

Yesterday I walked home by a different, longer route than I usually take, and so I passed by the Presbyterian church, and on their front lawn I saw a plover. Didn't get close enough to count the rings on its neck, and it wasn't giving the call that early Americans heard as inviting hunters to grassland where they could lure and "Kill! Deer!" (Or some hear it as "Deer! Here!") But it was probably the species known as a killdeer. Most plovers in this part of the world are.

Plovers are some of the cutest ground-nesting birds on Earth. Although they can fly high and far (some routinely fly thousands of miles in spring and fall), nesting plovers don't fly; they scuttle along the ground like sandpipers (they're built like large sandpipers) and call to predators to follow them. Whether they think it out in words or not, the message seems to be "I'm bigger, more worth your trouble, and I'm injured and vulnerable. Eat me and leave my babies alone." The plover parents are of course gambling that they will be able to fly away from the predator if they have to, after luring the predator out of sight of the nest. Usually they can do this. Sometimes they can't.

Plovers nest and feed in clear grassy areas, away from trees, so Cat Sanctuary cats never have to be kept indoors to protect nesting plovers. But if you see a brownish bird that looks like either a large sandpiper or a long-legged pigeon, running a few yards ahead of you and uttering plaintive "peep, peep" calls, you have found a plover, and its nest is probably not far away. Time to confine the cats. In exchange you'll be able to watch (from a distance) as the plovers rear their young, and will know when it's safe to let the cats out again.

UPDATE: Feh. In five minutes it's possible to tell you that I saw a plover, but not in a way that's likely to be useful to anyone who doesn't live within a mile of the Presbyterian church in Gate City, Virginia. Can this post be made a little more informative, thanks to modern technology? Specifically, can we get a more precise image of the plover family than "large sandpiper or long-legged pigeon"?

I like the Wikipedia page because the photo of the killdeer is at the top, with other plovers below:

Here's the AllAboutBirds page for the killdeer:

And a few more pages about other plovers:

On the coast of New England, protecting the Piping Plover, which is very unlikely to stray as far inland as Gate City, is a serious concern. Definitely bring the cats inside if anyone in your neighborhood has seen a Piping Plover.

Since the Cat Sanctuary is a good three miles from the Presbyterian church, the Cat Sanctuary cats are still roaming freely. This may change, as the weather warms up, if anybody notices a Ruffed Grouse in the woods.

And yes, Morguefile has a nice clear image--a painting not a photo--for the killdeer:

And a photo of a typical killdeer's nest:

Fun Facts About the U.S. Presidents

Synchronicity...yesterday I saw a copy of Cormac O'Brien's Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents in the Ivy Cottage store (on Jackson Street in Gate City). I had written a review for this title as a Fair Trade Book, but it's still on a floppy disk waiting to be uploaded here. Briefly, Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents is a short, lighthearted summary that presents a few of the most entertaining stories from each presidential administration on three to five pages. Online readers can buy it from me for $5 + $5 shipping; local lurkers can walk into the Ivy Cottage store and buy it cheaper.

Here, in a video format that's not working very well for this computer at this time, is Billy Hallowell's quick pick of just a few presidential fun facts:

St. Teresa of Avila

At this point, this web site just had to show you something here's a quick lighthearted tribute to the sixteenth-century Saint Teresa of Avila:

Obama Caves in to Monsanto

From the Food Democracy Now team:

"It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we regret to inform you that late last night President Barack Obama signed H.R. 993, which contained the Monsanto Protection Act into law. This is an outrage that will not go unanswered.

While we are still waiting to hear from the administration all the final details, we understand at this time that Section 735, the Monsanto biotech rider is intact.

President Obama knowingly signed the Monsanto Protection Act over the insistence of more than 250,000 Americans who signed an urgent letter asking that he use his executive authority to veto H.R. 933 and send it back to Congress to remove the Monsanto Protection Act from the bill. Regretfully, President Obama failed to live up to his oath to protect the American people and our constitution.

Today we’re calling on President Obama to issue an executive order to call for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Tell President Obama that you're outraged that he signed the Monsanto Protection Act and it's time to label GMOs!

Now that Congress has passed and President Obama has signed into law, the Monsanto Protection Act, Food Democracy Now! urgently requests that the President issue an executive order to support the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

We want to thank everyone who made tens of thousands of calls to Congress and the White House and we understand that people are upset, but now is not the time to be quiet!

Click here to make a call to the White House and let President Obama and your members of Congress know how upset you are and that it's time for GMO labeling! We will not be stopped! Every voice counts!

If leadership in Washington DC can betray the public behind closed doors, it’s time that the American public gain the right to transparency about what they are eating and the food they’re feeding their families every day.

Not only is GMO labeling a reasonable and common sense solution to the continued controversy that corporations like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical have created by subverting our basic democratic rights, but it is a basic right that citizens in 62 other countries around the world already enjoy, including Europe, Russia, China, India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

In addition, mandatory labeling of GMO foods is something that President Obama promised while on the campaign trail in 2007 to Iowa farmers when he said on November 10, 2007 in Des Moines: “Here’s what I’ll do as president... we’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified because Americans should know what they’re buying”.

It’s time that President Obama hold true to his campaign promise to Iowa farmers and the American people by issuing an executive order to label GMOs in our food products immediately. The American people need real leadership in Washington DC, not more backroom deals by corporate lobbyists that subvert our democracy.

Tell President Obama that you’re outraged and demand that he must immediately issue an Executive Order to label GMOs.

We recognize that this is a time of great sadness for millions of Americans, but now is not the time to sit back and do nothing. We must act collectively to demand openness and transparency, not only in our government, but also in our food supply. It’s time that President Obama stand up for the American people and immediately issue a signing statement calling for the mandatory labeling of GMOs.

The passage of the Monsanto Protection Act is another sign of how out of touch Congress and the White House are with the sentiment of the America public. The insertion of the biotech rider in a backroom deal with corporate lobbyists and Senate leaders is a new low. Since losing a court case in 2010 to Center for Food Safety for the unlawful planting of GMO sugar beets, Monsanto and other biotech companies have been desperate to find a way around court mandated environmental impact statements required as a result of a U.S. district court’s ruling.

There is a fierce urgency in the fight over the Monsanto Protection Act for family farmers and food activists across the country as 13 new genetically engineered crops await approval at the USDA and AquaBounty's GMO salmon could be approved in the FDA next month. The passage of this rider in an unrelated budget spending bill could open the floodgates for these new approvals, even if the budget agreement only last for the next six months.

Any new approvals could threaten the livelihoods of America’s farmers, as the approval of even a single one of these untested crops can lead to widespread contamination of farmers’ crops, bringing economic harm to farmers and contamination to our seed supply.

Join Food Demcoracy Now! in calling for mandatory GMO labeling today! It's time to take back our government. Every voice counts!

For the past year, family farm advocates and legal experts have fought to stop the Monsanto Protection Act, another special interest corporate giveaway that fundamentally undermines the federal courts’ ability to protect family farmers and the environment from potentially hazardous genetically engineered (GMO) crops that have not been proven safe.

We recognize that there are narrow-minded people out there who do not think that a 6-month provision that subverts our Constitution and judicial authority for another corporate handout to Monsanto is worth shutting down the federal government, but here at Food Democracy Now! we disagree.

We are greatly encouraged by the quarter million American people who have signed this letter and the tens of thousands of phone calls to Congress and the White House to demand that our basic rights are upheld by our elected officials, particularly our President. This is a sign of how urgent citizen participation is to maintaining a democracy.

Washington has failed us. It is clearer now than ever that "we are the ones that we’ve been waiting for"!

Thanks for participating in food democracy,

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team


1. "Obama Signs Monsanto Protection Act Into Law: Statement by the Press Secretary on the H.R. 933 On Tuesday, March 26, 2013, the President signed into law"

2. "H.R. 933: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013", passed Congress March 22, 2013 containing Section 735, Monsanto Protection Act.
Monsanto Protection Act language, Now Officially U.S. Law!
Sec. 735. In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the Secretary’s evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner: Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary’s authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.

3. “H.R. 933: Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year ... (Concurring in the Senate Amendment)”, which contains Section 735, the Monsanto Protection Act passes Congress 318-109. "

Stand with Rand: Get the U.S. out of the U.N.

Remember U.S. House Resolution 75? This web site discussed it last month; we think it will be mostly symbolic, but it could be a very valuable symbol. (In other words, we suspect that the U.N. would get over itself if threatened with the loss of U.S. support.) We hadn't heard much more about it until recently, when Karen Bracken notified us that, apparently in response to yet another despicable U.N. power grab, Senator Rand Paul is now backing HR 75:

"Well the UN Small Arms Treaty is looming out there once again. No matter what lies Obama tells the American people this Treaty will disarm every American citizen and much more. It will totally disarm our country. The UN will officially become the Global Police.
It is time we took a firm stand against the UN. If more Senate seats are lost to the Democrats in 2014 election (and believe me Obama is making sure that happens) they will pass every Treaty that is sitting on the shelf. The remaining Treaties if ratified will be the formal end to this country and to our parental rights. We must get out of the UN.
Currently there is a bill in the legislature, by a true constitutional conservative Rep. Paul Broun from GA, to withdraw the US from the UN. He is running for Senate in 2014 (we must reach across state lines and make sure he wins) The bill HR75. I have sent many requests for people to utilize to show support for this bill.
Now we have Senator Rand Paul taking a stand to get the US out of the UN. With his recent popularity I think we need to strike while the iron is hot!
I am declaring April GET THE US OUT OF THE UN month. I would like you to get as many people as possible to participate. Each person sends 10 post cards to RAND PAUL with one simple message. GET THE US OUT OF THE UN NOW!!!
I think if we can get enough cards to one person (I am sure he will let the public know about the barrage of cards he is getting) it will send a message. They are saying that 8 out of 10 people want the US to remain in the UN. I think that is a lie. I think 8 out of 10 people feel just the opposite. TWEET this campaign, FB this campaign. We are talking 10 post cards at 34 cents each and 10 stamps per person. If all you can afford is 1 post card then 1 post card is better than none. Get as many as you can afford. You can send the Gadsden cards from Agenda 21 Today or just get white cards from the Post Office. If anyone plans a big "post card" writing event for their group please send me the details and some pictures. I will share with our national team.
Here is Rand Paul's address:
Senator Rand Paul
208 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510
The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests”- Patrick Henry
To fix "THE SYSTEM" We must become "THE SYSTEM" - k. bracken
"The change we seek has always required great struggle and great sacrifice." - Barack Hussein Obama
"The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master." - Ayn Rand
For those who don't already know:

1. is one of the oldest, biggest, and best constitutional-conservative web sites. It's based in Tennessee and has members nationwide. It has a "store" page where you can see and buy the Gadsden postcards.

2. By going to, you can browse around and look for other pieces of legislation that may be of interest to you. Here's a specific page for HR 75: You'll be asked to log in (e-mail address, a password other than the one you use to open the e-mail) and can see other people's comments along with your own if you check back in. HR 75 is getting lots of support from Popvox users and is gaining support in Congress.

3. Your members of Congress need a barrage of postcards, too. As a former and likely future presidential candidate, Rand Paul is keeping track of responses from across the nation, but your U.S. Representative and Senators are the ones you need to convince that this is a viable, voter-approved idea.

Marsha Blackburn on TSA Mismanagement

As regular readers may remember, one of the first batch of documents I sold to Associated Content was titled "Top Ten Reasons Not to Buy Airline Tickets." Over the years I've found, and displayed here, several more reasons...and most of them aren't even Green; they have to do with the inefficiency, disrespect for customers, and general mismanagement that's constantly reported from everyone who flies these days. Do yourself a favor, life is short--if you can't go by Amtrak, go by Greyhound.

Congressman Marsha Blackburn wants to do more to improve the Transportation Security Administration. If you think they're not beyond all hope of improvement, read this e-mail, slightly edited for length:

"We all hate waiting in line to go through security at the airport. But we also realize that, in this post-9/11 world, it's necessary. Unfortunately, the lines are about to get a lot longer, thanks to a reckless decision by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

Despite running around scaring people by saying she's going to furlough employees because of sequestration, Napolitano just spent $50 million of taxpayer money on new uniforms for TSA agents. Don't be fooled—the Department of Homeland Security has the flexibility it needs in the sequester to cut waste, fraud, and abuse from its budget. This means Napolitano CHOSE to furlough personnel in favor of new uniforms.
This is just one more example of how the TSA has become the poster child for everything that is wrong with big government. Since its creation, the agency has had an employment increase of 400 percent, its warehouses are close to capacity with nearly $100 million in screening equipment sitting idle, and it spends more than $17,500 in training costs per new hire, yet is unable to consistently conduct criminal and credit background checks on their employees.

Talk about failed leadership! Sadly, this is what we've come to expect from the Obama administration—careless, uninformed decisions. Enough is enough! That's why I'm launching a petition today so you can raise your voice to demand that Janet Napolitano and the TSA be held accountable for their ridiculous spending decisions. Will you visit this link and sign it today? After, I hope you'll make a generous contribution to support my efforts to end big government as we know it.

The Obama administration's incompetence and recklessness have upped the ante for 2014. Conservatives must hold onto the House and win back the Senate—or I fear for the future of this nation. That's why I'm starting my campaign earlier than ever this year. I need to know that you stand with me and are willing to continue fighting for our shared conservative values.
There's too much at stake to allow the Obama administration to continue leading us down this dangerous path. Thank you in advance for your continued support.

Marsha Blackburn
Member, United States House of Representatives

P.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano knew she'd have to furlough personnel when she authorized new uniforms for TSA agents. Now TSA agents receive a larger uniform allowance that U.S. Marine Corp lieutenants! We must hold the Obama administration accountable for reckless decisions like this, so please stand with me today by signing my petition and making a contribution afterward. Thanks—Marsha "

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When You Do a Job Better than the Government...

When you do a job better than the government, which has been putting off doing it for years, then...if you're Steve Lanthrop of get persecuted.

Although Becket Adams hasn't transcribed much of the video clip, he does identify the U.S. Senator (Ron Johnson) who's pledged to fight for his constituent and who is soliciting more stories of harassment by the federal bureaucracy.

The Littlest Burglar

Erica Ritz has the video of a two-year-old burglarizing his eight-year-old sister's room:

Why am I linking to this? Because at some point in my childhood, naming no names and places, my room was repeatedly raided by a terribly cute younger child. The parents of this child said "No, no," but they obviously thought she was cute and clever. So the burglaries continued as long as I lived within twenty miles of the brat. And now the brat's grown up, and guess what her career's been like? She now cleans houses, and I'm told she really cleans houses...because her business partner is in jail.

If you know a child whose talent seems to be for theft, please don't give this child the message that s/he is cute and clever. Two-year-olds learn best from physical pain, like a sharp slap on their little thieving hands, and frustration, like being locked into a nice clean dog-type cage at night for a week. Children who start stealing later in life are likely to learn better from embarrassment, like having to return the stolen article, beg pardon for having stolen it, and/or pay at least twice its market value.

Starbucks Doesn't Want Your Business

This web site thinks the issue is not legitimizing mock weddings for a few more people who can't even pretend to be traditional couples, but protecting the rights of the majority of people who won't be married when we become unable to manage our own affairs. If you're concerned about that majority, including your own future self, then Starbucks doesn't want your business:

And isn't it about time this annoying chain collapsed, Gentle Readers?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Virginia Requires Voters to Show Photo ID

Governor McDonnell has signed the bill requiring anyone voting in Virginia to show a photo ID.

How bad is this, given that most voters are already required to show photo ID in order to drive cars, get jobs, go to school, and in some cases even move around their school or office, and given that the bill provides for a waiver of the nominal cost of renewing a driver's license if a voter is all that destitute? Er. Um. I don't see the violation of human rights that some Democrats claim is embedded in this new law.

On the other hand, I don't see the improvement in the security of the vote that some Republicans have tried to claim, either. This web site has already discussed how cheap and easy it is to get a misleading photo ID...even when you want an accurate one. If Patrick Moran wants to impersonate a bunch of deceased Democrats, he can probably still do that, and in places like Fairfax and Alexandria he could probably buy a wig and a dress and include some deceased African-American female Democrats. People would think, "Somebody called Lulubelle Marie Smith looks like that? Well, it says she's 97 years old...bless her heart, I guess she's just glad she can still walk around." Because in the kind of mob scene found in urban DMV's and polling areas, people who don't know each other very well are not inclined to take time to get acquainted.

But even if Patrick Moran votes in the name of the late Lulubelle Smith and Ms. Smith's great-nephew sees him and says, "That's funny, I thought Great-Aunt Lulubelle was dead," I'm not convinced that that matters, as long as elections are being conducted without paper ballots. Electronic votes counted overseas are likely to be counted the way foreign interests want them to be counted. If there's not a pile of recyclable paper ballots sitting in an office, we can count on seeing the candidates who most appeal to certain foreign interests win every election, year after year, no matter how unpopular those candidates may be in every actual neighborhood you visit.

Delegate Rob Bell has succeeded in getting identified with the right side of a controversy, but has he succeeded in taking a step toward more accurate election results? This web site doubts that.

If anything, tying electronic voting to voter ID could be a step toward eroding the secrecy of the ballot, empowering the nastier sort of foreign interests to arrange for those who consistently vote for U.S. interests to suffer all sorts of mishaps, losses, and "accidents"...unless, of course, we smarten up and demand paper ballots.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sandy Garst Differs with Tea Party Federation

Sandy Garst comments on some bills heard in the Virginia General Assembly, 2013, pertaining to property rights and "Agenda 21":

"Agenda 21/Property Rights Bills

*Important Reminder: As of 2010, each bill submitted costs approximately $3000-$5000 to process.*


I have reported on 57 bills relating to Agenda 21 and/or Property Rights.  There were many more bills this session that could have been included. 

Because the people on my distribution list know about Agenda 21, I am only going to explain my positions on a couple of bills that differ from Tea Party positions.  I am not saying that the Tea Party Federation is wrong because they have valid reasons for their assessments.  I just came to a different conclusion based on my bias and what I could interpret.   

“Establishes a special nonreverting fund known as the Wetland and Stream Replacement Fund to receive moneys paid to the State Water Control Board for mitigation of any impacts that a project may have on wetlands. The moneys in the fund are to be disbursed to purchase mitigation bank credits…”

Ø  I oppose all funds that do not relate to a specific core governmental function and even then I question the need when a budget would suffice.

Ø  This fund supports the Agenda 21 tool of wetland mitigation that is in opposition to private property rights.

Ø  Wetland mitigation banking is similar to the carbon credit exchange the federal government wanted to force on us.  It is a cap and tax scheme. 

Fiscal Implications: “DEQ anticipates requiring one position at an annual cost of $80,000 for salary and benefits. If the revenues derived from this fee are insufficient to cover the entire cost of the position, the agency will have to absorb the remaining impact, absent some general fund support.”

Ø  This is an expansion of government that will cost not only those poor folks whose property has been labeled a wetland but most likely every taxpayer.


Establishes the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth for the purposes of making the Commonwealth a national and global leader in nuclear energy and serving as an interdisciplinary study, research, and information resource for the Commonwealth on nuclear energy issue.”


·         “Summary: This legislation establishes the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority (Authority) as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth. The Authority will be governed by a 17-member board of directors, ten of whom are appointed by the Governor, five representing specific public institutions of higher education, and two representing the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. The Authority is required to form a nonstock, nonprofit corporation, which would be referred to as the “Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium” (Consortium). Membership in the Consortium will be opened to both public and private institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth, Virginia-based federal research laboratories, nuclear-related nonprofit organizations, business entities with operating facilities in Virginia that are engaged in activities directly related to the nuclear energy industry, and other individuals whose membership is granted by the Consortium's board of directors. The purposes of the Consortium include carrying out the rights, powers, and duties of the Authority and conducting other activities useful in:

·         making the Commonwealth a leader in nuclear energy,

·         serving as an interdisciplinary study, research, and information resource for the Commonwealth on nuclear energy issues, and

·         raising money on behalf of the Authority in the corporate and nonprofit community and from other nonstate sources.”


Ø  This creates a public-private partnership and public-private partnerships are an Agenda 21 tool.

Ø  This creates an unelected Authority that will affect the nuclear energy industry.

Ø  This “political subdivision of the Commonwealth” represents an expansion of government.

Ø  This Authority is going to need money to operate and it would be naïve to think tax dollars will not be allocated to fund it through grants, tax credits, or direct funding.

Ø  If Virginia were to become a national and global leader in nuclear energy, it would best happen through the free market.  Government and Academia usually just add expense and interference.



HB 2190 Stormwater management ordinances; requires localities to adopt more stringent requirements.Summary: This bill requires localities to report to the Department of Conservation and Recreation when a more stringent stormwater management ordinance or stormwater requirements are developed by the localities.”

Ø  This takes power away from localities. 


“Fiscal Implications: This bill could result in administrative costs to the Department of Conservation and Recreation resulting from greater regulatory review requirements. Specifically, the addition of language directing appeals of locality decisions regarding BMP usage limitations to the Department may result in additional time and resource impacts depending on the magnitude of such appeals. Such costs are indeterminate.”

Ø  This will be an added expense.  Who will pay?"

Karen Bracken on Local School Boards

Karen Bracken shares a round of e-mails, with links, edited for format and clickability. Note that Amazon isn't showing a link for the book Common Core, The Trojan Horse for Education Reform. Some readers may want to know where to buy this book...scroll down for the update.

I think your folks might be very interested in this email I got from the state Director of Eagle Forum in California. Below her email is comment from Charlotte Iserbyt (Reagan Dept. of Ed). Followed by the article. I too highly recommend the book referenced below by Stanley Kurtz. The wheels of the plan are in motion folks. We will start to see more and more schools shut down.
Karen Bracken

Camden, New Jersey, just became the fourth city to lose local control over its schools. They have now been taken over by the State. Does that improve education any? No, but it allows bigger State government and more control over local citizen's taxes. How much easier it will be to push through a big, top-down federal education program like Common Core when you don't have to worry about local school districts and parents who might not like such a program. What can parents do? Who do they go to when they do not like what they see going on in their schools?
We are seeing the same push for control by bigger regional and State governments in our city and county governments. California is divided up into 18 big regional governments that are usurping control over our cities and counties. Transportation funds are linked to the sustainable development changes in the cities and counties. If local governments do not approve and implement the changes, they will not get their transportation funds to improve the roads.
One of the goals is to move people out of the suburbs and rural areas and force them into the cities. They are doing the same through Common Core. Part of Obama's Social Justice plans for Common Core is to take money from the schools in the suburbs and give it to the inner city schools, forcing the suburban schools to have to close. This is written about in the book by Stanley Kurtz called Spreading the Wealth. It is also written about in my book, Common Core, The Trojan Horse for Education Reform.
--- On Mon, 3/25/13, Charlotte Iserbyt wrote: 
Educational Titanic. Start with the inner city schools first; then collapse the rest of them.

Get rid of elected officials!

Once that is done, anything goes. We have lost our freedoms under the Constitution.

Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt
Former Senior Policy Advisor
U.S. Department of Education

To order the updated abridged 2011 version of "the deliberate dumbing down of america", it is available from 3D Research at

Which city is next? Polly
On Mar 24, 2013 11:37 PM, "Polly" wrote:

Karen Bracken - I WILL NOT COMPLY - WILL YOU?"

UPDATE: Minutes after this post appeared, KB replied with information about how to buy Common Core, the Trojan Horse for Education Reform:

The author is Orlean Koehle. You can buy the book from her Common Core website. She is an awesome lady. CA State Director for Eagle Forum and retired teacher.
I paid $30 for 2 books. If you buy 1 book they are $18. I called about a discount rate for quantity and was told she publishes the book herself and just about covers her costs. But you might try calling the number provided to see if anything has changed (that is if you are interested in buying quantity).

Publius Huldah on the Balance Of Powers Act

If you really enjoy this kind of semantic nitpicking, you either are a lawyer or ought to be one. But, if you like the general idea of the Balance Of Powers Act, and want to support it, you need to read this discussion of six problems a constitutional lawyer can find with it:

Should Planned Parenthood Employees Quit?

Actually, what Abby Johnson is encouraging people to quit is working for abortionists...but if you signed on with Planned Parenthood in the belief that a lot of people were seeking help to prevent pregnancy, and what you found yourself doing was working for an abortionist, you might seek an "exodus" from this job. Johnson has declared a Day of Exodus when she wants to offer her skills and connections to people who, like her, want to stop abetting abortion.

Why is this web site linking to this one of Billy Hallowell's stories? We do not (so far as we know) owe him any money; we've linked to many stories by Billy Hallowell that were more inspiring than this one. However, certain organizations have a history of blocking and burying Internet searches for certain other organizations--a kind of unofficial censorship, which this web site opposes in all ways and always--and so I want to paste in this snippet from a comment:

"Perhaps having a website with whatever necessary embedded in it so that search terms such as “what is planned parenthood like” or “what are working conditions like at planned parenthood” or “planned parenthood jobs” or “planned parenthood volunteer” come up with your site. Allow the page to be freely copied by others with the same view and have them link to yours with the current info, in case they don’t update theirs frequently. Having lots of websites with the info means it will be difficult for search sites to block them all."

Good point there, and in the interests of blocking censorship...let's also mention that another comment, telling a story that's been used to discredit Abby Johnson, discredits her co-workers at Planned Parenthood at least as much as it does her.

Planned Parenthood is a charity I've supported. I believe we are an overcrowded species, as is shown by widespread unemployment and the emergence of a homosexual lobby, and need to choose to produce fewer and better babies. I do not believe it's medically or ethically viable to treat abortion as just another option for the careless; it's a life-threatening operation that should be reserved for life-threatening emergencies. There's more to this lecture but it's barred by contract from appearing on this web site. The bottom line is that if we're supporting women's right to choose, that would be their right to choose not to risk becoming pregnant in the first place.

Should women like me, who are not really involved with Planned Parenthood but have patronized sales or stores organized for their benefit, withhold our support from the organization because it asks workers to facilitate abortions? I would say, not as long as the organization respects its workers' right to choose to help young couples in ways that are more, well, helpful. If Planned Parenthood is in fact pressuring workers to participate in abortions, then a mass exodus is appropriate. Help this organization rethink and regroup.

If Abby Johnson is exaggerating the pressure, then just ignore her, don't do the mass exodus, and let her deal with the consequences. There's no need to censor, block, or bury information. The cure for false information is true information. If people know that a former Planned Parenthood worker is out there calling for a mass exodus on the eighth of April, and on the eighth of April no mass exodus occurs and other Planned Parenthood workers say they like their work, then we'll know that either the problem Johnson reports was exaggerated or else it's been resolved. Either way, a good thing. The bad thing would be for Planned Parenthood to participate in unofficial censorship.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Myke Cole on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Last week this web site linked to Myke Cole's discussion of how he, as a veteran, experiences post-traumatic stress disorder; my comment on his blog post asked what he found helpful.

Here's his original article:

Here's my related post:

Here is his reply to my comment:

Glad it was helpful to you. I engage in a wide variety of strategies to deal with my PTSD, but the single most helpful thing is treating it as a shift in perspective, as I have mentioned above.
You don't treat a shift in perspective, you acknowledge that you have changed, and changed permanently, and go about constructing a new life with new goals based on the person you have become. You also don't view this new person as "wrong" or "sick" or "damaged." You are different, and that is what it is.

The 2 big fresh goals that have honestly saved me are:

1.) Security - Taking on crisis related work, especially those tasks that are dangerous and difficult (I currently work in Search-and-Rescue and Maritime Law Enforcement) has been enormously helpful. It is the closest thing to that the bone-rattling feeling of significance I had when deployed to Iraq or major domestic disasters. It also helps put the fear to bed as I mention in the the post above.

2.) Art - Pursuing a career in the arts was a thing I was always taught was foolish, and that responsible people didn't do it because one could never make a living. But publishing novels is the only thing (other than armed service) that makes me feel relevant to the world post Iraq. Part of coping with PTSD was giving myself permission to be poor, or bohemian, or whatever I had to be in order to allow myself to follow this calling.

I am not saying that PTSD is a way to chase your dreams. I am saying that, instead of treating it like a pathology, I had to find new ways to be in the world that fit the new way in which I saw the world. I had to find life goals that felt relevant post disaster. Writing and fighting are the only 2 that work for me so far.

Hope that helps."

It helps me feel that I've provided useful information on this web page; thank you, Myke Cole.

Out of gratitude, I looked up Myke Cole's Amazon page. Although they're not the kind of novels I read, somebody out there may want to buy these books...

Are Cockroaches Coming to Gate City, Virginia?

First the credit, or blame, goes to Glenn Beck, for recommending in Cowards that conservative bloggers attend neighborhood meetings and write about those. That's why I went to the neighborhood meeting last week.

My neighborhood, just past the western limits of Gate City, has had very few meetings. So few that there is no public gathering place. The meeting was held on private property.

The topic was a proposed replacement for septic tanks, which is what many of these people currently have. Some people have had little trouble with their septic tanks. Because the hosts of the meeting are related to me, and the school bus used to stop at their property, I remember some of their problems with septic tanks. Those rental houses they used to try to manage, with the renters that moved out every year no matter how low the rent was, and the lush, marshy lawns that looked marshy and smelled...why am I not surprised that the senior male in this family told the meeting, twice, "I want sewers!"?

If his property were my property, I'd be tempted to want sewers. They might still be a nasty mess--sewers are not a great technological improvement over septic tanks, and are apt to flood, such that people walking down the street don't know whether a Situation of Extreme Pollutedness is coming from a septic tank or a sewer--but I personally wouldn't be blamed for the mess.

The weird part about the meeting was that nobody even seemed aware of the real twenty-first-century solution, which happens to be what my forward-thinking parents installed at the Cat Sanctuary back in the 1990s. Namely, water-free toilets. They're not mess-free; in fact they're built to need cleaning daily. But the mess is never quite as nasty as a flooded sewer. Or septic tank.

There are valid reasons why people would choose a sewer system, especially the people who live in the valley below the mountain on which the Cat Sanctuary sits, and in view of the population density in the valley and the age of the residents a sewer system may be viable and sustainable for them. It's not the Greenest option, it's not the cheapest option, and technologically it's retrograde, but it's probably the easiest option for disabled senior citizens to handle.

All I have to say about the proposed sewer system is, don't even think about extending it up onto the mountain, as someone suggested after the meeting broke up. Sewers may be sustainable for a flat road where a lot of people live just a few feet away from the proposed installation. They are not a viable option for the mountain.

But in view of last week's discussion of German Roaches at The Blaze, and of last week's discussion of sewers for the west end of Gate City, here is a short discussion of the new fauna that are likely to be observed in the valley if sewers are adopted (per one of those Sustainable Communities grants Stanley Kurtz just blasted)...Warning: this discussion contains graphic gross-outs.

North America now has five species of insects in the cockroach family that are often found near human homes. The one that's familiar in Gate City is the Wood Roach, Parcoblatta pennsylvanica. Wood Roaches are the purists of the family; they live outdoors and eat only decaying wood or wood products. Male Wood Roaches can fly, like to travel, and sometimes come into a house with a load of firewood or a box or crate that's been outdoors. They don't usually panic and bolt for the outdoors; they rest peacefully indoors until sundown, when they find their way out again.

Although they're not especially pleasant to look at or be around, and their presence can indicate that your walls, shed, woodwork, or stored objects are dangerously damp, Wood Roaches are considered harmless. They're vulnerable to the same treatments you'd use to get rid of other roaches, and the species is not endangered, but there's no need to do anything about Wood Roaches.

Here's the Wikipedia page for Wood Roaches:

Here's a page from Sweetbriar College:

Another species many of us know better than we want to know is the much larger Palmetto Roach, Eurycotis floridana, also known as the Florida Woods Roach, Southern Roach, Queen Roach, Water Roach, Water Bug, Stinking Roach, Giant Flying Roach, or Horrid Kingsport Bug. Here's their Wikipedia page:

Easily twice as long as a Wood Roach and sometimes longer than the American Roach, the Palmetto Roach isn't afraid of light or of much else. Its strong odor is thought to come from stomach gas produced by its willingness to eat anything. You can see bite marks where it's nibbled on a book binding, a piece of fruit, etc., and if you fall asleep with food traces on your hands or face it just might nibble on you. (Palmetto Roaches aren't strong enough to bite seriously, but they're not vegetarians and will happily swallow flakes of your epidermis along with the grease or sugar they're removing for you.) You can hear a Palmetto Roach scuttling across a hardwood floor. If you wake up and step into your slippers in the dark, and a Palmetto Roach happens to be gnawing on the lining of your slipper, the crunch and squish will cover a good half of the sole.

(I said this article would contain graphic gross-outs. It gets ickier. Don't read this post while eating.)

Last week I said that German Roaches are harder to get rid of than Palmetto Roaches. That's true in the sense that Palmetto Roaches seldom actually live in human homes. As with Wood Roaches, the ones found in our houses are usually wandering males. Females occasionally get lost and lay eggs indoors, but Palmetto Roaches like wide-open spaces, so even if they hatch indoors they'll probably go outdoors all by themselves.

In Florida, however, where Palmetto Roaches are active all year, there is no getting rid of them. They like sewage and garbage as much as American Cockroaches do, so they run up and down drains and are likely to invade homes all...year...long. Florida houses are seldom really infested with Palmetto Roaches but they're seldom free from them either.

The truly revolting species is known to the world as the American Roach, Periplaneta americana, although scientists think it probably originated in Africa. Here's its Wikipedia page:

Although nervous people may describe both American and Palmetto Roaches as "as big as your hand," as a matter of scientific fact neither normally grows even two inches long...apart from the antennae. Palmetto Roaches average 1.75" long, American Roaches only 1.6". American Roaches are, however, fatter. And they do live in human houses...full-time.

Although they don't like light, American Roaches do love rich food. Almost anything humans eat counts as rich food for roaches, who also eat damp wood, paper, fabric, glue, and dung. American Roaches are attracted to plain flour and cornstarch but they go wild over the chocolate, candy, cookies, sugary juice, and greasy chips found in many American carpets. They also seem to like the insides of computers. If anything they smell worse than Palmetto Roaches, and if anything they're more likely to nibble on humans...they eat human hair.

Periplaneta americana are also known as Giant Roaches, Sewer Roaches, and Water Bugs...and of course lots of other names that won't be displayed at this web site. The Virginia Tech web page even says that this species is also called "Palmetto Bug." That would be by the confused.

Confusingly enough, the ones I first learned to call Water Bugs are a completely different species, most commonly known as German Roaches (Blattella germanica). Typically less than an inch long, German Roaches are the ones people (different from me) have been known to describe as cute, lovable, and friendly. (Most roaches seem to feel safe when they can squeeze into a thin crevice, so it's possible that German Roaches actually enjoy being held...I know, ick.)

Here's their Wikipedia page:

I'm not positive that that's a German Roach; Morguefile contributors tend to be hazy about the species photographed in their free animal pictures, but the color is right. While other North American roaches can look pretty much alike in photos--you can tell them apart by size, shape, and behavior in real life--Blattella germanica is much smaller and lighter-colored than any other roach on this continent.

Though less disgusting than American Roaches, German Roaches are equally dirty and harder to get rid of, because they multiply faster. German Roaches are also known as Croton Bugs, Groton Bugs, Chinch Bugs, Chinces, Hoods, and other names you won't see on this web site.

Then there's the new pest on the block, the Oriental Banded Roach, Blatta orientalis. This species has only recently invaded North America. It looks like a deformed Wood Roach; while Wood Roaches' and American Roaches' wings cover their bodies, and Palmetto Roaches' wings extend beyond their bodies, Oriental Roaches' wings don't cover their bodies and rarely work well enough to allow the insects to fly.

There's not a clear photo of this species at You're lucky. They just might be the ugliest of all roach species. Oriental Roaches are also sometimes called Water Bugs.

Why are four completely different species all called Water Bugs? Because they go where public water and sewer lines go. Once a sewer line is installed, dirty homes will be the ones that become heavily infested by any or all kinds of roaches first...but all homes will, from time to time, be invaded.

Get used to looking at these things, neighbors. You will probably be living with them soon.

As the old Yankee saying goes, "It's no sin to have roaches [when you have a sewer where they breed and from which they crawl into your bathroom], but it's a sin to keep them."

Extermination services may try to sell you more expensive vapor sprays that are more toxic, to roaches and to humans and their pets. Don't buy into this rip-off. The way to get rid of roaches is to clean and dry the house, coat baseboards and the areas around drain pipes with borax, and persevere for six months after you last see a roach...but once you have sewers, you can plan on doing this continually.

Water-free toilets can in theory attract roaches, but since they work by heating and drying their contents, they probably exterminate any roaches they attract. The Cat Sanctuary gets an occasional stray Palmetto Roach during especially hot, damp summers, and has an active Wood Roach population outdoors, but I have never seen a roach in the bathroom of the Cat Sanctuary.

Passover and Holy Week Update

Although in English we've preserved an ancient Pagan goddess name in the word "Easter," in some languages the names for Easter and Passover are the same. Even English gives us the option of talking about the paschal week...from Hebrew Pesach, via Latin. It's always the same season.

Arlene from Israel shares a bit about Pesach, and other topics you'll see if you scroll down below the picture:

Thanks to Terresa Monroe-Hamilton from Canada for linking Arlene with U.S. readers.

Phenology: Maple Trees

We don't usually think of maple trees as having flowers, but they do, about this time every year. Small, dark red flowers can turn the whole tree red, around the same time willow trees turn yellow and fruit trees show their first fragile whitish buds. That is what we're seeing in Gate City, Virginia, right now, despite the cold snap and today's rain.

Further north, the blogger known as Kayre snapped what appears to be a maple tree in full bloom, despite the snow--this could be a recent photo!--with a bald eagle sitting in it:

Thanks to Elizabeth Barrette for the link.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Phenology: Please Don't Whack the Groundhog

While this web site is so busy we didn't even have time to do a phenology post about the red-tailed hawk we saw on Wednesday (male, possibly the mate or son of the female we've seen a few times this winter), an Ohio county attorney has made the time to file a formal complaint against the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, for "predicting" an early spring:

I took the poll at the end of Liz Klimas's article; my vote was "Shouldn't have trusted a groundhog in the first place." What does a giant rodent know?

Another fun fact about the groundhog: Although Irvin S. Cobb once observed that the Virginia Possum's "name is not O'Possum, nor is it MacPossum. There is nothing Irish about him. He is American," the groundhog's Cherokee name, okona, can be heard as "O'Connor"...especially by hearers who've been drinking green beer.

Any phenology observations here, other than the red-tailed hawk? Well...the daffodils, ground-ivy, and dandelions have continued to bloom; and air temperatures were below freezing when I walked to the computer center this morning. I think air temperatures stayed close to the freezing point all day yesterday. By Virginia standards the weather can be described as cold.

Now We Want to See It Too

"Agenda 21" becomes a movie? Trevor Loudon shares news of a documentary movie about to be shown in Sydney, Australia:

No, it's not Beck and Parke's novelized prediction; it's the recent documentary some of us hoped Beck and Parke had written. It's about US (the U.S.), but is it available here?

Stanley Kurtz on Community Planning Grants

Actually, Stanley Kurtz is opposing "Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants," the land-grabbing, local-government-mocking boondoggles that have been the bane of the Virginia legislature and of other state legislatures in the last few years. From Patricia Evans:

"Tea Party take note. You might want to encourage your representatives in Congress to block future funding for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants. Publicity helps. Controversial policies like “smart growth” often operate under the public’s radar. A successful public battle over future funding of these grants just might discourage the administration from pulling the trigger on its most draconian anti- suburban plans." - Stanley Kurtz
Obama’s Plans for the Suburbs: And How to Stop Them

From National Review by Stanley Kurtz, author of Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities (Required reading for all county supervisors)

Last Friday’s headlines focused on President Obama’s address at Argonne National Laboratory, where he proposed to spend $2 billion on an energy-security trust fund for renewable fuel research. Obama boldly pledged “to shift our cars entirely . . . off oil.”
How exactly is he planning to do that? Research will have an effect over time, but “entirely off oil” is either a greatly exaggerated or a very incomplete account of the administration’s energy plans. The New York Times story on Obama’s speech dryly notes that although the president “has vowed to make addressing climate change a priority in his second term . . . he has provided only scant details on how he intends to act.”

Look closely, however, and it’s possible to spot some troubling plans. The Times, and just about every other major news outlet, neglected to note that on the day of Obama’s Argonne speech, the Department of Energy released a series of coordinated reports called “Transportation Energy Futures” (developed in cooperation with Argonne). This DOE project explores a variety of strategies designed to curb America’s greenhouse gas emissions up to 80 percent by about 2050.
Arguably the most controversial of those reports covers the “effects of the built environment on transportation.” To put it plainly, the “built environment” report lays out strategies the federal government can use to force development away from suburbs and into cities, supposedly for the sake of reducing carbon dioxide emissions given off by all those suburban commuters. The Obama administration wants to force so-called smart growth policies on the country: get out of your car, stay out of the suburbs, move into small, tightly-packed urban apartment complexes, and walk or take public transportation instead of driving.

The Department of Energy’s built environment report lays out a scenario much like the one I described in Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities. The report highlights two policy options most likely to increase dense, Manhattan-style urban development, without exceeding the traditional limits of federal authority. Those options are eliminating the home-mortgage interest deduction and conditioning future federal aid of all kinds on local adherence to “smart growth” principles. Of these, I think the second is the most likely to be implemented. The built environment report also says that the most convenient bureaucratic channel through which to manage such federal pressure is the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
The built environment report acknowledges that conditioning federal aid on population density would be political dynamite. And this, of course, is why Obama loudly touted his plans for an energy security trust fund, while downplaying the DOE’s report release. Essentially, the built environment report suggests that federal funding on new schools or roads might be held to population density criteria that would starve projects in suburbs in favor of those in cities. I’ve argued elsewhere that these so-called smart growth policies are about a lot more than greenhouse gases. The global warming issue serves here as a justification for wealth redistribution on a grand scale.

The other major, yet still largely unnoticed, energy story from last Friday was the Bloomberg report on the Obama administration’s plans to order all federal agencies to consider global warming (i.e. carbon dioxide emissions) before approving large projects. I’ve already discussed the potential of this new administrative order to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Yet the impact of these new Obama administration guidelines will likely be far wider.
The Bloomberg report notes that once carbon dioxide emissions can be invoked in court, not just oil pipelines but even highway construction can be delayed or blocked (all those suburban commuter fumes). So Obama’s new regulatory guidelines may shortly give environmental groups the power to call a halt to a whole series of suburban development projects.

How can these changes be fought? Publicity helps. Controversial policies like “smart growth” often operate under the public’s radar. Obama wants the energy debate to focus on benign-sounding research plans, while his administration’s interest in placing the massive power of federal funding behind urban densification strategies goes unnoticed.
The other way to block Obama’s plans is to have Congress cut funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative. In particular, future funding for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program ought to be eliminated. Although the cost of these planning grants is small, their potential impact is large, especially if the administration follows through with the built environment report’s option of conditioning a wide range of federal aid on local adherence to so-called smart-growth planning. ( I described these troubling “sustainability” grants in “Obama’s Plan for Ohio.”)

Budget-cutting House Republicans were able to halt funding of Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants in fiscal year 2012. Blocking that funding again with a targeted public campaign wouldn’t entirely end the program. There are still plenty of fully-funded planning grants out there. Even so, a successful public battle over future funding for these “Sustainable Communities” planning grants might discourage the administration from carrying through on the sort of anti-suburban proposals contained in the built environment report.
It may already be too late to prevent the administration’s new directive on carbon-dioxide pollution standards from sparking a series of court challenges to suburban highway construction, and perhaps other forms of suburban development as well. But it’s not too late to prevent the most powerful blow of all — the aggressive use of conditional federal funding to Manhattanize America.

Tea Party take note. You might want to encourage your representatives in Congress to block future funding for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants. A public battle on that issue just might discourage the administration from pulling the trigger on its most draconian anti-suburban plans.
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To which I, Priscilla King, have to add: Being aware of the awkwardness of forwarding an e-mail of this length to Congressman Morgan Griffith, I suspect that some readers have similar problems with your elected officials' official e-mail systems, so I'm posting this document here, and you can send them the link in your own reasonable-length messages.