Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hot Weather Arrives, Yellow Iris Blooms

(Reclaimed from Bubblews. The original image was my own; this one was shared by Bosela at Morguefile.com.)

These are the oldest cluster of irises, or irides, still living at the Cat Sanctuary. Possibly because they get more sun, possibly because they're oldfashioned Iris Germanica instead of some fancy new variety, possibly just because they sense more nostalgic-love vibrations in the air as I pass by them, they consistently bloom better than the newer plants. 

They like hot afternoons. Some years they've postponed blooming until June. One year I came home from Washington in the middle of July and one or two blooms were still hanging on these plants. Most years, however, they're only a few days behind the blue-and-purple irises. 

Yesterday was warm and humid. I felt a need to turn on my faithful Lasko fan. Sure enough the temperature climbed into the eighties. I don't turn on the radio to verify these things. I could tell that all the standard weather signs--the gathering dark clouds, the narrow halo of clouds around the moon, the heat lightning flickering after dark--were what might be called weather-breeders. Waking up to a clap of thunder confirmed this impression. I called a car pool buddy and said this looked like a good day to spend at the computer center. He concurred, and upon arrival he observed that an afternoon high of 91 degrees Fahrenheit had been officially recorded in town. 

Why I Will Never Consider Using American Express

(Reclaimed from Bubblews. Probably it belonged on this unsponsored site anyway.)

I'm sure everyone else who uses Bubblews has seen that stupid cartoon video that uses up several minutes of computer time, which is not free time for a lot of us, replaying the image of the shopper using the American Express card.

Right. I've seen it already. It's one thing if American Express is a sponsor that's paid Bubblews to show that video...once. Twice is not helping. Twice is harassment. Twice is interference with my work.

Remember, sponsors, you don't sell me products by annoying me. You turn me against products, possibly forever, by annoying me.

So, you do not want the Captcha system to display a gimmicky, time-wasting video. If it displays a word or two, fine. But no video. I don't have time to watch a stupid image wiggle around on the screen. Life does not contain that much time. I know I spend enough time staring at computer screens that I probably already have cataracts; I don't want one single second of that time wasted on watching computer videos.

I don't use credit cards. I don't recommend that others use credit cards. But now I have a particular reason to urge people I know especially not to use American Express.

Mark Warner on Government Efficiency

From U.S. Senator Mark Warner, D-VA:


There is one thing in Washington that everyone should be able to agree on, and that is we must improve how our government works. I’m happy to report the President has signed our bipartisan Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act into law. This groundbreaking government reform legislation will allow Virginians to track exactly how their tax dollars are being spent by the federal government.

Because of the DATA Act, every federal agency must now display their financial data in the same format on a single easy-to-read website. The public should be able to see clearly how much each agency and program across government spends. With a national debt of $17 trillion (and growing every day), I know it’s more important than ever that we reduce unnecessary spending.

Click here to watch a short video about consolidating and eliminating
 unnecessary and wasteful government reports.

And I’ve only just begun – I’m working on several other bills that will improve government efficiency. For example, I recently introduced another bipartisan bill that would eliminate duplicative, wasteful and unnecessary reports that federal agencies produce. The Washington Post had a story about our legislation, and reported that Congress is still ordering up six reports about the Soviet Union, a country that dissolved in 1991, as well as about Spanish-American War veterans, the last of whom died in 1994. I think that’s ridiculous. My legislation would eliminate or modify more than 300 of the worst offenders that are wasting money and staff hours.  

None of these initiatives will fix all of our budget problems, but increasing transparency is critical to accountability. That’s what I learned over more than 20 years in business and as Virginia’s governor, when I was proud that Virginia was named the best managed state. The passage of the DATA Act proves that Washington still can come together on a bipartisan basis to pass commonsense reforms that put the taxpayers first. I promise to keep working in the Senate to continue to hold the federal government accountable for waste, fraud, and inefficiency, and give the taxpayers the transparency they deserve.


Mark R. Warner"

Robert Hurt on Benghazi Investigation

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt, R-VA-5:

May 13, 2014

The House is Leading the Way with a Full Investigation into the Benghazi Attack

Dear Friend,
Like all Americans, I was devastated by the terrorist attack responsible for the deaths of four American foreign service personnel stationed in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. From the outset, my colleagues in the House and I have been committed to thoroughly investigating the events that transpired on that terrible night. During ongoing congressional investigations into the details surrounding the attack and its aftermath, we have discovered that the Administration has not been transparent nor completely truthful with Congress and the American people regarding what transpired that night and in the days following.
The victims’ families and the American people deserve to know what exactly happened during the terrorist attack in Benghazi, and we must do all we can to provide transparency and accountability into this tragic event in our history.
That is why last week the House of Representatives approved a long overdue piece of legislation that would create a select committee to investigate the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya which claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The Select Committee will be comprised of 12 Republican and Democrat House members and will be tasked with providing a full and complete study of the attacks, the U.S. response, and our efforts to bring the terrorists to justice. Following the investigation, a final report will be issued to Congress.
I have long supported this initiative and was a co-sponsor of Representative Frank Wolf’s resolution creating a Select Committee to investigate the attack. It is my sincere hope that this measure will allow the House of Representatives to fully uncover all of the facts behind the Benghazi attacks on behalf of the victims’ families.
I was proud to support this important initiative to begin a select committee investigation focused on obtaining a complete picture of the terrible attacks that claimed the lives of four Americans so we may work to ensure it does not happen again.
If you need any additional information, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
Robert met with Maurice Miller, who served in the Army in Korea, when he visited Arlington National Cemetery with the Lynchburg Exchange Club.
Robert met with Tom Skalak, Vice President for Research at the University of Virginia.
Robert Hurt"

Morgan Griffith on Insurance Rate Hikes

Today is an historic first!

Gentle Readers, since this web site was launched I've been nominally on the e-mail lists of all three of my people in Congress; I also get episodic e-mails from the office of State Senator Carrico and from correspondent Patricia Evans' Representative Robert Hurt. However, it has seemed that some official e-mail from the offices of Members of Congress contains official graphics that snag something in Yahoo, or in Internet Explorer, or in public-access computer security systems, or something or other; Congressman Griffith's e-mails are the only ones that have arrived regularly.

The Heartbleed problem caused some internal upgrades in Internet Explorer; now graphics seem to be less of a problem...and today, for the first time, the e-newsletters from Senator Warner and both Congressmen arrived, all on one day.

Although I just said I was planning to transfer the political content elsewhere, that system is still under construction. And I don't want to leave youall out of this historic first event. So here, today, are what all three of our elected officials wanted to share with you, in four separate posts, in alphabetical order, beginning with...

U.S. Representative H. Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9. (Sorry there's no text version. The video link doesn't work from the page I'm on now (the editing page) but works from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7tGqHnyFPI&feature=youtu.be. )

In case you missed it, you can watch my interview with Neil Cavuto - the first live broadcast from the new Radford University studio - by clicking here or on the image below.
For more information on the Insurance Rate Transparency Act, please visit www.morgangriffith.house.gov or contact one of my offices.

What I'm Doing These Days

Will today be the day this web site finally begins its Great Breakdown? For several months now, I've been planning a way to put the different types of content that have been here in different places...a Books & Writing place (probably here), a Links place (Google +), a Short Bloggy Posts place (Bubblews), a Politics place (t.b.a.), and also a Strictly Short Stuff place, here:


Chatabout actually pays people to read and post twenty or thirty words at a time in "conversations" on various topics. Products, food, animals, news items, whatever. If you are a penniless writer, please use that link.

By separating the different departments this web site has had, I'm hoping to make each of several web pages more attractive to different types of sponsors. Some people like "serious, hard-hitting" news and reviews; some prefer a web site to be bland and literary; a surprising number of online readers want to read something short, soothing, and cheerful. No problem...we just need to sort these different kinds of things into different places...like putting canned vegetables, paper towels, and fresh fruit in different aisles at the grocery store.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

So Nuts to You!

This song is dedicated to busybodies (e.g. Mayor Michael Bloomberg) who are currently saturating the U.S. media with nags about what they think we should and should not eat. I think information about the contents and effects of food products definitely needs to be available...in fact, some of that information is being deliberately suppressed when it should be required by law to appear on labels! However, the idea of media messages presuming to tell everybody how to gain or lose weight, when the mass media don't even know which of those things any individual may need to do, is just plain silly.

The tune here is a sort of reprise to the tune of a commercial jingle many U.S. readers will remember.

So nuts to you,
For telling me that I should skip the nuts and eat the cheese!
You never knew
That cheese won’t stay down even long enough for calories
To get into
This body that, in any case, is holding up better than yours,
’Cos I’m not you!
When you just CLOSE YOUR MOUTH, you’ve said it all!

This Coke’s for you,
Because you’re telling me that I don’t need the empty calories;
For all you do,
The way you try to undermine my sense of what is good for me—
This Coke’s for you!
And if I’d rather shake it till it foams up in your face than drink it...
This Coke’s for you;
When you just CLOSE YOUR MOUTH, you’ve said it all!

This meat’s for you,
Because you’re telling me the fat in it will clog my arteries;
That might be true,
If I eat too much meat and don’t balance it with exercise,
And fibre, too,
And all the vitamins and minerals and variables
You never knew—
When you just CLOSE YOUR MOUTH, you’ve said it all!

These chips, for you!
Because you just said that salt swells up the legs below the knees,
Which it may do,
But what about the way your nagging other people swells your head?
And how would you
Know how much salt from other sources I consumed today?
And some dip, too!
When you just CLOSE YOUR MOUTH, you’ve said it all!

Ice cream’s for you,
Because you’re telling me to eat the low-fat version made with flour,
Which I can’t do,
Because the flour does me more harm than saturated fat
Could ever do,
And how much damage wholesome wholemeal bread has done to me,
You have no clue!
When you just CLOSE YOUR MOUTH, you’ve said it all!

(Pecan candy image by Earl53 at Morguefile.com.)

Tim Kaine on Military Service Members

From U.S. Senator Tim Kaine:

"Dear Friend,
With one in three Virginians directly connected to the military, listening to the concerns of servicemembers will always be a top priority of mine. 
This week I introduced the Servicemembers' Compensation Empowerment Act - bipartisan legislation that would direct the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission tasked with issuing cost-savings recommendations next year to formally survey servicemembers on their preferences with regards to compensation and benefits, such as housing allowances and healthcare. As of now, no official study has been conducted to determine the relative value of these benefits to the military personnel who depend on them. You can learn more here.
 Here's Janis, Matt and I after we met in my DC office last year
I also introduced legislation this week to extend and reform the Special Immigrant Visa program (SIV) for Afghans who risked their lives serving alongside Americans – many from Virginia – as interpreters or working with U.S. organizations over the last 13 years. Many are now in danger of violent retribution. Last year, my office was able to help Janis Shinwari, who served as an interpreter for Captain Matthew Zeller of Virginia, obtain his SIV. Janis and his family were able to get a fresh start in Virginia, and it’s my hope we’ll be able to give more brave Afghans like the Shinwaris that same chance. 
Senator Tim Kaine"

Morgan Griffith to Discuss Benghazi on TV

For those who've been following the Benghazi investigation, here's a heads-up from U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9:

"Friday, May 9, 2014 –                               

Watch Congressman Morgan Griffith tonight at 6:30pm on CNN's "Crossfire."

Topics to include Benghazi."