Thursday, June 26, 2014

No Photo of Kiba the Fang

(Reclaimed from Bubblews...the site that ate my precious blurry cell-phone pictures. There is no longer a picture of Kiba. Sorry.)

A Chatabout contact suggested Kiba, a Japanese word for "fang," as a kitten name. I thought it was cute and decided to bestow that name on the first little nipper who nibbled on my finger. Kiba learned fast that there are better ways to get my attention than biting. Generations of social kittens have trained me to pick up and pet any kitten who hugs my ankle.

He also learned that Kiba was his name. All the social cats seem to learn their names, whether they actually become Listening Pets or not...because their mothers teach them. I would not have thought of making this up. I've seen the older cats in this family nudge a kitten to move toward me when I called its name.

Kiba was the most affectionate in this group of kittens. All of them are friendly, but Kiba seldom missed a chance to run up and hug my ankle. Some of it may have been genuine gratitude and affection; shortly after the kittens' eyes opened Kiba's mother isolated him from the others, and I gave him a home remedy for tummy-bugs and a bath, and his mother let him return to the nest. His litter mates missed him while he was gone and welcomed him back.

Unfortunately, Kiba got the Manx gene; his half-tail is even slightly twisted, and I wondered whether he likes being petted so much because his deformed spine is a source of discomfort. I know that humans who have either odd-shaped feet or full bosoms always like a back rub!

I don't usually keep tomcats, but was prepared to make an exception for Kiba. However, he left the Cat Sanctuary last week.

(Some readers naturally enough wondered why he left. He left because he seemed at risk for toxic fallout after the poisoning of Route 23, and I regret to report that he died anyway, for no obvious reason.)

Book Review: The Taste of New Wine

A Fair Trade Book

Author: Keith Miller

Date: 1965

Publisher: Word Books

ISBN: none

Length: 127 pages

Quote: “It wasn’t so much that people lied. We just had an unspoken agreement not to press the truth.”

This book has been quoted and cited and promoted throughout my lifetime, so obviously the problem I have in reading it is my own problem, caused by excessive familiarity. In 1965 Keith Miller could not have known that his book would be read during an Age of Therapy when, motivated perhaps by all the media noise about our President’s having been caught in a particularly tacky sort of lie, everyone was going to carry on about “being honest” as they treated every school, church, or even office meeting as a form of group therapy.

He might have anticipated that the banality of “Have a nice day” would generate the backlash of “Don’t tell me what kind of day to have,” but he could hardly have imagined Americans seriously protesting that using phrases like “Have a nice day” or “Good afternoon” was hypocritical—in the same sense that preaching race hate as a Christian or Muslim doctrine (yes, my generation actually had to deal with that) was hypocritical.

Somehow I doubt that he even foresaw adults seriously debating the morality of answering “How are you?” with “Fine, thanks,” and needing to spell out that, in the context of this little ritual, “Fne, thanks” does not mean “Everything in my entire life is perfect” so much as it means “Capable of making conversation on the subject you want to propose; willing to let you interpret my body language as mostly relevant to the topic,” even though, of course, the feelings our bodies express will not necessarily stick to the topic of a conversation. Body language never lies, but more often than not it distracts.

Keith Miller could hardly have anticipated a period of history in which people would try to “put aside the masks” and “be blazingly real” by ignoring what others had actually said and trying to “read their faces.” If anybody who’s ever been guilty of this social offense happens to be able to read this article, please understand that, even if someone’s face or body position was reacting to the perception that you were a particularly obnoxious idiot, everyone was much better off with the social lie that your tragic mental condition might not have been recognized, yet.

So for me, reading The Taste of New Wine 45 years after its publication, this book seems full of clichés, and I have to remind myself that in 1965 these phrases must have seemed fresh and memorable. The idea that a serious religious practice, for people who were not actively employed as ministers, could consist of living “in relationship with God,” was actually new, once. The idea of debunking politeness and “being honest” had not evolved into its own form of (remarkably unattractive) hypocrisy. Miller was part of a fellowship group that seriously studied the Gospels and attempted to do what they believed Jesus would have done; it wasn’t just incessant chatter and clichés, back then. And Miller’s book was part of a salutary movement away from the kind of Christianity that allowed people to say “I go to church on Sunday, but I don’t let it affect my life during the rest of the week” into the kind that allows people to say “If I go to church on Sunday, or on Saturday or on Wednesday or at any other time, it had better be in order to share what I’ve learned and be guided by what others can teach me during the rest of the week.”This is where our awareness of the need to be “doers and not hearers only” of our beliefs started, and this book has an important place in church history.

Who needs to read this book? Maybe young people who missed the Age of Therapy, who were taken to church just because their parents went. Anne Lamott’s nonfiction books narrated how, when she became a desperately poor single mother, a small, poor, majority-minority church adopted her and her son. And she went to services, out of gratitude to the people who’d slipped her small amounts of much-needed money when she needed the money, even after she achieved fame and prosperity as a writer. And she took her son along. And funnily enough, even though she’d explained exactly why to the entire English-speaking world, the kid rebelliously asked why he had to go to church. Okay, so there are probably other twenty-somethings who can relate to this young man’s story. Most of their parents have not written bestselling books that explain exactly why they go to church, and most of their stories would be different from Lamott’s. So to those people this old book might still be relevant. Go back to where some of us started—reading this book, or any of the dozens of books that elaborated on its themes, in a church-sponsored school with a lot of ministerial students. This is a first book about how a yuppie-type married man discovered the reality of spiritual life within his own religious tradition. It helped some of your parents make that discovery for themselves. Maybe it will help you.

Just be prepared, if The Taste of New Wine does help you, to see reactions on the faces of people my age that may warn you that you’re speaking in clichés.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Robert Hurt Thanks Veterans, and Comments on Other Things

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt:

Dear Friend,
Communicating with the people of Virginia’s 5th District and hearing your feedback is very important to us. In order to ensure that we keep you up to date on what is going on from month to month, we record a monthly video address. You may watch the video address on our website at, and you may read the address below:
Video Address Text
“Hi, I’m Robert Hurt. Thank you for tuning into our Monthly Video Address.
“It is an honor to represent Virginia’s Fifth District, and I appreciate the opportunity to share with you some of what we have been working on during the month of May. Over the past month, my colleagues and I have continued our efforts to enact policies that will provide more opportunities and a brighter future for the American people.
“This month, it was reported that over 800,000 people dropped out of our labor force in April -- reducing the labor force participation rate to a 35-year low. Many communities in the Fifth District continue to experience unemployment rates well above the national average, and our rate of recovery from the economic downturn has been weak. That is why the House of Representatives has adopted dozens of pro-growth proposals that would help jumpstart our economy and get us back on track. However, the President and the Senate must join in our effort. It is my hope that in the coming months we will be able to find bipartisan common ground in encouraging job opportunities for Virginians and Americans, and I remain committed to continuing to work toward this crucial goal.
“Also this month, I am pleased to report that the House of Representatives passed legislation to establish a Select Committee to investigate the events surrounding the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. During ongoing congressional investigations into this subject, we have discovered that the Administration has not been transparent with Congress and the American people. It is critical that this Select Committee focus on obtaining a complete and objective picture of the attacks that claimed the lives of four Americans so we can ensure that this does not happen again.
“At the same time, we have recently learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs has provided service to our veterans that has fallen miserably short. To help address this issue, last week the House of Representatives passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act with a strong bipartisan majority. This important legislation allows for the removal of ineffective and derelict senior level officials at the VA that are contributing to the mismanagement within the agency. It is my sincere hope that this bill will serve as an important step toward greater care for our veterans by holding the VA accountable for its actions and initiating much needed reforms.
“Finally, and most notably, we observed Memorial Day to give thanks to all of the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives while defending our country. To all of those who are and have been members of our armed forces – thank you for all that you have given up in the name of American liberty. Your sacrifice has allowed us to enjoy a way of life which we often take for granted. With these sacrifices in mind, our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have served or are serving our nation and their families.
“Once again, I thank you for the opportunity to represent the Fifth District of Virginia in Congress, and I look forward to continuing our work to promote a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. As we close, I encourage you to sign up for updates at our website at and join the conversation on our social media pages. Thank you for tuning in to our monthly video address.”

Constitutional Convention?

I'm trying to move this kind of thing off Bubblews, but time's limited and people are still looking for it here, so here is Patricia Evans' e-mail:

"From the Committee for Constitutional Government:

Here is the text of the flier that will be handed out at the GOP convention next weekend, June 6.   If you can help hand them out at the convention, please contact Sue Long at  Any help in handing them out would be greatly appreciated.
Is a Convention to Alter the Constitution a Good Idea?
Federal overreach is of great concern—rightly so. What to do about it is of equal concern.
With the best of intentions, some citizens are calling for a constitutional convention to pass amendments to our U.S. Constitution for the purpose of reigning in federal power. The premise is that the states would control the convention—who the delegates would be, how they are chosen and how many per state; what amendments would be proposed and voted on, what the processes would be and any other matters the convention would take up.
But Article V of our Constitution states clearly the two ways to amend the Constitution:
1. Congress proposes amendments and presents them to the States for ratification; or
2. When 2/3 of the States apply for it, Congress calls a convention to propose amendments.
Our Constitution is clear: States are authorized to apply to Congress to call a convention. Beyond that they have no say.   
This is confirmed by an April, 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the authoritative source Congress uses for accurate information. CRS states without exception
that only Congress makes all the rules. It points to the ’70s and ’80s when there was considerable interest in an amendment convention. (And states then began rescinding applications.) Congress introduced 41 bills that included specific conditions as to the procedures for a convention including selection of delegates which would be, as opposed to “one state, one vote”, instead,a formula based on the Electoral  College, whereby Virginia would have 13 votes to California’s 55, etc. The report shows not only what Congress could do; it verifies what it has already done in preparation for a convention.
Control is in the hands of the Congress guilty of overreach in the first place!
Who is financing what?  George Soros is pouring millions into organizations promoting a convention. The seed money to start the Convention of States in 1912 was $1,207,183, collected in donations, though they had no paid solicitors. Most opposing a convention are paying out of pocket with their own non-tax deductible dollars.
Promoters claim there is no concern about a runaway convention. History tells us otherwise. The 1787 convention was called for the purpose of adding amendments to the Articles of Confederation. Yet, it was scrapped altogether and a whole new constitution was produced. There is no ruling authority to prevent that from happening again. Present at the 1787 convention were statesmen like George Washington and James Madison. How many such do we have today?
There is also a claim that 3/4 of the states would have to ratify any proposed amendment.  Once again, the 1787 convention set a precedent by changing the rules. They changed who ratifies from legislators to conventions and the required number for ratification from all the states to 3/4. What could happen today? Ratification by a simple majority of the states?  Or by Congress?  Or by no one?
The claim that “The states would never ratify a bad amendment.” does nothing to quell concerns. The 16th and 17th amendments come to mind. 
Why take the risks? If convention supporters somehow accomplished state selection of delegates, who would they be?
Speaker William Howell appointed those
attending the first “Convention of States” promotional gathering. Attending from Virginia:
Sen. Frank Ruff, who voted for the tax increase/ transportation bill (HB 2313) in the 2013 Virginia Assembly and fought against the Boneta Farm bill;
Del. Scott Lingamfelter, who voted in the 2004 Virginia Assembly to rescind any application for a convention (that had been passed when Democrats controlled the Assembly) on this basis:“WHEREAS, the operations of a convention are unknown and the apportionment and selection of delegates, method of voting in convention, and other essential procedural details are not specified in Article V…the prudent course requires the General Assembly to rescind and withdraw all past applications for a convention to amend the Constitution of the United States …”
Then, Lingamfelter prefiled a motion to call FOR a constitutional convention to be voted on in the 2014 Assembly.
Del. Jim LeMunyon, who voted for the tax increase/transportation bill (HB 2313) in 2013 and sponsored Homeowners’ Association bills opposed by Association dwellers;
Del. David Albo, who also voted for the tax increase/transportation bill (HB 2313) in the 2013 Assembly and voted against a convention in 2004, but for it in 2013.
Do these sound like people we trust to vote on making good changes to our Constitution?
Changing the name to a “Convention of States” or “Balanced Budget Amendment” (BBA) does not change what it is. It is still an Article V convention called by Congress for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution. States may convene all they wish; states meeting together is traditional. But for the states to make the call for a convention and/or decide its conditions would be completely unconstitutional.
Are the amendments being proposed advisable? For example, a BBA would result in raising taxes to balance the budget if there was no agreement on cutting the spending. Also, the BBA would increase the power of the federal government. As it is, the government can only spend money on the enumerated powers listed in the body of the Constitution. The BBA would result in no constraints on spending other than the cost, bypassing the limitations of the enumerated powers.  
Who besides well-meaning patriots support convention? Globalist George Soros, liberal California Governor Jerry Brown, Richard Parker, a former member of the 1960s radicals known as Students for a Democratic Society and  Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessing, an Obama supporter.
Could we depend on the states to reign in federal overreach when it is the states that take federal grants, making them an accomplice to the overreach? 
Since Congress disobeys the Constitution, is the solution to change it? If people don’t obey the 10 Commandments, should they be rewritten? When government officials don’t abide by the Constitution now, why trust they would obey an amended one?
   The solution? Obey the Constitution, not change it. For more information, contact the address below.
Committee for Constitutional Government • Box 972 • Gloucester VA 23061 •

Groups that have gone on record opposing a call for an Article V convention, American Policy Center, Concerned Citizens of the Middle Peninsula, Virginia, Third Congressional District GOP, Danville Tea Party, Newport News GOP City Committee, Eagle Forum,  Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AFL-CIO,  Gun Owners of America, National Rifle Association, United Republicans of California, California Democratic Party, The American Independent Party, National Association to Keep and Bear Arms, The Constitution Party, American Pistol and Rifle Association, Pro-America, The John Birch Society, The Second Amendment Committee of Hanford, CA, Constitutionalists United Against a Constitutional Convention, United Organizations of Taxpayers, Voters Against Conspiracy and Treason, and
Mid-Peninsula Tea Party (comprising the counties of Gloucester, Mathews and Middlesex), Mathews County GOP Committee,the Conservative name a few.

"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."  - Thomas Jefferson "

Morgan Griffith on Emissions Regulation

From Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter:

President Allows Nations with Emerging Economies to Pick Carcass of U.S. Economy
Monday, June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new regulations that would require our nation’s existing power plants to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.  This rule will impact approximately 1,000 fossil fuel-fired plants, particularly those that burn coal or natural gas.
In issuing these regulations where Congress has refused to legislate, the President and his EPA are seeking to fulfill his 2008 promise that, “…under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”  (Interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board, 1/17/08)
Amazingly, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in her statement unveiling this latest attack on the American family, “Critics claim your energy bills will skyrocket.  They’re wrong.” 
Let’s see.  The President says it will make your rates skyrocket, but because they know that’s politically unpopular, Administrator McCarthy tells you the opposite. 
Somebody is trying to fool the American people.
A reporter asked me last week if I thought that developing nations would see what the United States was doing and then issue similar regulations for emissions from existing power plants after President Obama does so. 
I told the reporter, Matt Laslo, a freelance reporter covering Congress, that what I think the other nations see is an opportunity to pick the carcass of the American economy.
After nations with emerging economies watch this Administration’s unreasonable regulations damage our economy, negatively impact our jobs and our access to reliable energy, and raise our electric rates, do you expect that these nations will “follow our lead?” 
I am of the belief that these developing nations will promote their own country’s energy needs.   They want what we have – prosperity – and this Administration’s policies are making it easier for them to take our jobs. 
A company choosing to open a facility in one of these countries – which do not have the environmental standards we currently have or had 10 years ago – will be able to more cheaply produce products.  In doing so, they will damage the quality of the air for the world. 
Since we live in the Northern Hemisphere, we share air with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Myanmar, etc.  All of us in the Northern Hemisphere share the same air.
According to a NASA study, it takes just 10 days for the air from the Gobi Desert in the middle of China to reach the eastern shore of Virginia.  Instead of implementing regulations or policies that discourage the domestic production of goods, we ought to encourage manufacturing in the United States – where we do care about our air quality.  This would benefit the world’s air quality, and certainly would benefit our economy as well.  We can have balanced, reasonable regulations, but this new proposal by the President is neither balanced nor reasonable. 
I am of the belief the President’s expectations that other nations will “follow our lead” will be dashed, just as his expectations for a “reset” of our relationship with Russia – which has been described in a New York Times story as “…a very climate-change-skeptical society” – were dashed...  
I am deeply concerned about the impact that these regulations will have on our electric prices, our economy, our access to reliable energy, and more.  I vow to continue fighting these regulations and additional efforts the President may undertake to advance his War on Coal, which is, in turn, a war on middle class America.

Fair disclosure: This web site has suspected for a very long time that the corporations that collect money for providing energy could reduce nasty emissions, continue to employ local people at decent wages, and also reduce our bills, if they got serious about reducing the waste at the top of the corporate pyramid. This web site has nothing to offer, other than the force of opinion, toward making them get serious about that.

This web site has also felt distressed for a long time by travellers' reports of how careless with the environment people are in some of these countries from which the calls for tighter regulations in the U.S. have come. There's a very famous, beautiful picture of one specific place in China that dominates my favorite Chinese restaurant. An iconic place, like Mount Hood or Lake Louise. That place, its names, and what it's like there, now, are discussed in Peter Hessler's book River Town (which I discussed at 

Last year, when this web site received correspondence that I thought was worth sharing even if I had some misgivings about it, this web site just posted it and waited for readers to comment. This year, having read my own Yearbook (which is now available to sponsors with any donation over $75), and felt misrepresented by my own web site, I feel obligated to comment. I don't know exactly how a real conservative, one who wants to conserve our environment as well as our money, would go about encouraging corporations to set responsible policies for themselves and thus limit their own economic growth. I do understand that, in the absence of the kind of religious fervor observed in a few very small Protestant groups, in some not all Catholic monasteries, and in the Old Left Wing, it's extremely hard to motivate an American to choose to pass up any opportunity to bank more money this year than he banked last year. So hard that I'm not sure how anybody could blame Congress for being unable to do this. But this web site would like to see them at least give it a good try

Please keep up the good work, Congressman Griffith.

"As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at"

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


What is Chatabout? It's not really a blog site; it's a chat site that invites people to leave 20-word comments on different topics. Having to stick to the topics keeps the chat polite and sociable...I think the reason why people hang out on Chatabout is that we get paid per comment. I've spent a few online days, or parts of a few online days, there. Even earned a tiny Paypal payment.

It is possible to view a selection of the comments one specific person has left at Chatabout. Here are mine:

Or search for a topic of discussion and see how many people have left comments on it. Foods, flowers, animals, entertainment, stores, restaurants, products, and similar polite topics have pages.

Chatabout users can post questions and collect answers, or browse through other people's questions and leave their answers, through this index page:

Or chat about recent news stories, indexed here:

Many bonuses are offered to Chatabout users. A lot of them will involve filling your in-box with spam and may demand personal information that it's not advisable to share on the Internet. Some of them seem to be legitimate...for example, today there was a bonus offered for posting anything about Chatabout on a blog.