Friday, February 27, 2015

Link Log for February 27

Categories: Animals, Car Trouble, Chortles, Constitutional Rights, Gardening, Good Thoughts, Language Quiz, Obituary, Politics, Tourism, Weather, Writing...


The Guardian picks the world's best wildlife photos...regularly. After scrolling through this eye candy (warning: one distressing picture), you can open more wildlife photo galleries.

This clever heron is training a hippopotamus to carry it out into deeper water for better fishing opportunities. (Herons can actually swim--not like ducks, but enough to get back to shore.)

Owl gone wrong:

Car Trouble 

Chevrolet Impala recall:


Twitter absolutely refused to let me open this page from the Twitter link yesterday, but here it is... totally bogus factoids about Washington, D.C. (True fact: a statue of Diogenes housed in a Maryland suburban school library has long been rumored to prowl around the building at night, but I never heard any rumors of his flying out beyond the campus...)

The "birthday song parodies" invitation was too easy, considering which politician (1) has a name that rhymes easily, (2) does not represent this constituent's point of view in Congress, and (3) recently celebrated a birthday.

"Happy Birthday, Tim Kaine,
In the Senate you're a pain,
You should live long and prosper,
Only maybe in Spain."

Definitely not good enough for the Post. Youall can do better. Please use the comment section, or Twitter, or both, to prove it.

Here's a silly quiz...immigrants may face other challenges to "belonging" in these United States, but the creator of this poll certainly sets the bar low for "belonging" in Texas.

More chortles lie ahead...a new novel by Daniel Handler:

Constitutional Rights 

It's not only Christians who need to support these victims of violations of their "pre-constitutional" right to freedom of speech. It's anybody who doesn't want to be sued for doing or saying anything that puts some rich, neurotic individual into a snit-fit. People have the right not to like each other. People have the right to hurt each other's little feelings. People have the right to sabotage their own businesses by asking questions and making judgments about customers; employers have the right to fire employees who do this, and they should, but if the owner wants to do it, it's the owner's own business.

And those who believe that two women have a "marriage" had better think twice about tolerating censorship, or interfering with other people's right to hurt those women's feelings--because, if a business owner's turning down an offer is horrible, terrible discrimination, how much worse is either of those women's turning down a more personal proposition from a man?

Same issue, different's not been so very long since all people of African or Native American descent were "suspected terrorists," or "insurrectionaries" as they were then called, and were denied the right to use firearms.


This lightweight cardigan has a lot going for it--easy lace trim, subtly flattering lines, graceful shaping.


Looking forward to a real thaw next week, Virginia Living shares photos of three invasive plant species that can become pests. Pretty, maybe, but these are weeds. Why would I share this? Because it's not too late to get some use out of an ailanthus tree if you have one. They're not the best firewood, but they will burn.

Good Thoughts 

How to overcome fears of what "Everybody" will think:

How to laugh at the worries of the Actuarial Generation:

Language Quiz 

The Washington Post recommends a foreign language for each reader to study based on their answers to seven quiz questions. (The position of this web site is that any high school diploma should require at least tourist-level fluency in at least two languages.)


Eugenie Clark, ichthyologist, died yesterday.

Leonard Nimoy, the best-known "Star Trek" actor and "alien"-sounding singer, died at age 83.


For those who wondered why all those wood stoves were banned from the, it wasn't that they were defective stoves.

Y'know the Cold War ended in 1989. The democracies won. So where did the Communist Parties go? Did those people learn something...or did they quietly sneak into major political parties (and the U.N.) and continue their service to their religion unchecked? And have they succeeded? Allen West asks us to consider the extent to which the goals of Marx and Engels are being met. For those who were turned off by McCarthyism, I'll add a request: Consider how well these feel-good policies have served Russia.

Goaded no doubt by charges that two left-of-center talking heads have lied on their shows, Media Matters unleashes its dogs on Bill O'Reilly...Meh. Most TV talking heads look and sound interchangeable to me. O'Reilly happens to be the author of a book this web site has promoted. But I'm guessing that all Media Matters will get by trying to bash O'Reilly is tired.

Tim Kaine sheds some light on his left-wing philosophical roots in this memoir of working with Jesuits in Honduras. Very good, kind people...very vulnerable, perhaps especially in the 1970s, to Old Left ideology. The El Pais page does not have an English translation button. I checked; Bing produced a readable English version in less than two minutes.

Tourism has put Gate City on the map...of "22 small towns to visit."

"Vintage and antique seekers will enjoy a stroll through Gate City, so named for its role as the gateway into Virginia from Kingsport, Tennessee. If an old mercantile, family owned restaurants and a walk through time sound like a treasure of a day, then this is your place at a slow pace. Enjoy pastries from The Family Bakery and an authentic short-order lunch at Hob-Nob Drive-In. There’s also a special LOVEwork in Gate City for you to find!


The snow is finally beginning, very very slowly, to melt. Did the February thaw, which typically occurs in the last week of February, come early this year? Were those two warm days around the beginning of the month it? Forecasters anticipate a real thaw around the beginning of March...with the possibility of floods.


When I started this blog, the contract banned explicit or violent content. Since I want The Nephews to be able to read what I write, and had no plans to post explicit or violent content, I've had a good time imposing, playing with, and occasionally lifting a ban on any mention of any specific body part. So when Google sent out the message "You will no longer be allowed to post explicit content," I wondered whether ongoing harassment by a recently blocked troll was involved. Moi?

Well, no...apparently some of the blogs into which you might stumble, if you noticed and used a "Next Blog" button at the top of this page, have been posting explicit content. Did they not sign the same contract? Wottha...?

Reading books and writing poetry help former inmates stay out of the D.C. jail:

(Does anyone remember Richard Stratton's Slam? I still have the book.)

Book Review: Seaward (Update)

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Seaward
Author: Susan Cooper

Author's web page:
Date: 1983
Publisher: Atheneum (hardcover), Simon & Schuster (paperback)
ISBN: 0-02-042190-7
Length: 167 pages
Quote: “Nothing is black and white, Westerly, in this long game we play.”
It’s a fantastic adventure quest: two teenagers running together through a surreal alternative world where anything may happen except life-as-usual. Blurbs on both the hardcover and the paperback edition specify that they come from different countries and speak different languages, in the everyday reality of the story; we’re never told which countries those are, although the girl identifies with an old myth from Scotland or Shetland. In the alternative reality of the story they can talk to each other. Both of them have English names, which become vaguely ominous in the context of the story: Westerly is going west and Cally is a phonetic version of a Gaelic word for “old woman”; Death is calling to these kids.
They do not fall in love. It’s not that kind of story. Both have recently lost their parents, and their adventures seem to be inspired, vaguely, by the idea of grief as a journey. A superhuman male figure who seems to represent life, or resurrection, or reincarnation, claims their allegiance in the alternative world. A superhuman female figure who seems to represent death, or a permanent death, a Great Sleep, tries to get them away from her brother. Nothing is black or white; neither figure will consent to be identified with good or evil. Lugan, named after the mythical ancestor-god of London, is gold and radiant. Taranis, named after a mythical god of thunder, is blue and usually quiet. It’s all a game to them; both offer death in the end.

The story is certainly imaginative, lively, and well written, but if read as anything more than a fantastic adventure—if chosen for the comfort to the bereaved its symbolism seems to offer—it’s not particularly comforting. Cooper, a specialist in British folklore, here seems to be trying to offer a British Pagan alternative to English Christian beliefs about life and death.

However, Cally and West are not dying in this story. They're grieving, and along the way they're having adventures, coming of age, testing their strength, and even helping other characters. It's possible to enjoy just going along with them for the ride.

Seaward is a Fair Trade Book. As usual, to buy it from salolianigodagewi @ you send $5 for the book, $5 for shipping; you pay only one $5 shipping charge for as many books as fit into one package. Living authors or the charities of their choice receive 10% of the total price you pay for Fair Trade Books, including shipping. I'm delighted to repost this review with Susan Cooper's assistant's comment, the first comment we've received that specifies a charity:

"If you'd like to add Seaward to the list, we certainly approve, and the charity could be Reading is Fundamental."

Click to see more about

Book Review: Me Cassie

Title: Me, Cassie
Author: Anita MacRae Feagles
Date: 1968
Publisher: Dial
ISBN: none, but click here to see it on Amazon
Length: 147 pages
Quote: “People are always saying how beautiful I am.”
She’s not just being vain. She means it. At a time when it was standard, too commonplace to count as a subplot, for fictional heroines to hate something about the way they looked at the beginning of a novel and come to terms with their looks at the end becuse somebody liked them anyway, this novel distinguished itself by being about a successful teen model. Cassie is also bright, in a non-intellectual way; her story is rather thin on plot but makes up for it in epigrams, and she dumps a big-spending guy in favor of an eccentric guy, Jonah from Arizona, who sends the wrong kind of flowers “and his father drove us to the dance, which is humiliation... Naturally Jonah was a terrible dancer, but I was in heaven just being with him and listening to him explain about tribal rituals.”
What Cassie has opportunities to do after high school, and what she does, have little in common with the average 19-year-old’s options. You can’t really blame her for not being a better role model for typical 19-year-olds because she’s so not typical. Put it this way: Cassie enjoys being a cute chick. That’s all she wants out of life at 19, and all she needs.
And although 1968 feminists would have loved a chance to swarm into this story and awfulize on about how Cassie was going to be bored, burnt-out, lonely, depressed, and out of place in society by the time she was forty, actually the kind of woman Cassie’s going to be has a tendency to land on her feet even when she ceases to be a cute chick. You can just tell. Her kind may, poor things, have to backtrack and go to school and even do the kind of jobs ordinary 19-year-olds do while they’re between husbands, but even that kind of hardship comes more easily to them than it does to the average person. Women readers may want to slap Cassie, but let’s all at least admit that what we feel is envy, not to be confused with a superior sense of reality. Cassie’s life and decisions might not be real for most people but they’re real for her.

This novel is recommended to all women who have had or currently have to choose between being pushed into a demanding career as models and starlets, marrying one of several promising young men, or just staying home and living on Mother’s and Daddy’s money; ruling out college as an option because, although they could afford the best, they don’t really love academic work in the way some of their relatives do. It’s a strenuous life but, forty years later, some of us still have to live it. And try to understand why so many women aren’t interested in this novel no matter how many clever epigrams are packed into it.

If you can relate to women like Cassie, or if you enjoy fantasizing about being one of them, this novel is for you. It'll cost $5 + $5 shipping and, since Anita MacRae Feagles no longer needs $1 out of that, I recommend you buy this book from salolianigodagewi @ only after choosing a Fair Trade Book and adding Me, Cassie to the package (only one $5 per package). 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Link Log for February 26

Categories: Excuses, Animals, Business, Food, Good News, Philosophy, Weather, Weird News, Women's Issues, Writing.


On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I really was snowed in, and I must admit I enjoyed it. On Wednesday I came out to dog-sit and post book reviews...and was struck by guilt. I hadn't spared a thought, much less a prayer and much less a fundraising effort, for the place from which I've been maintaining this web site. Last night I was snowed in at the Dog Sanctuary--spent the night in the armchair with the dog Sydney at my feet--and today I've been following Wise County's snow disaster news and posting on Twitter. Can't do much more than that but I can do that. Anyway, here's the Link Log for the day. After the dogs have their dinner and after-dinner walk on schedule, I'll go home to the cats.


This web site supports bans on individual dogs, but not on breeds...a dog that's big enough to hurt people is also big enough to help people, and, if people are kind to it, helping is what it will naturally want to do.

Dog discovers a molehill:

Dog food warning:

Bad news for cats in Greene County, Tennessee...sucked into the Humane Society vortex...


We won't be doing this every day, but, for those who've missed e-friend Paul Rance at other sites, here's the link to his e-store:


Styrofoam is so twentieth-century. What about the oldfashioned paper cup, flimsy and uninsulated but oh so Green, insulated with edible cups? Like ice cream cones, only for coffee, tea, or cocoa? If I could eat wheat I'd love this idea. There could be a choice between cookie, bread, or even saltine-flavored cups, and some people would pay extra for chocolate ones...

Do you buy what you had decided to buy before you went to the supermarket, allowing for last-minute decisions like "corn or peas, whichever is on sale" and "Junior can pick any one of these six treat items if he's quiet in the store," but basically sticking to a plan? Or does clever marketing compel you to buy things you don't want? If those candy bars were at the back of the store you'd never buy them, right...the way you never remember to buy ice cream. Right?

Good News 

We all know this weather's going to cost us, but overall Appalachian Power is promising a small temporary rate reduction in southwestern Virginia's electric bills:

Abingdon, Virginia, promises a library book sale run along the lines of Arlington's famous biannual book sales. Oh, nostalgia!


Which songs make you happy? Depends on your emotional past I suppose...John Denver's "Sunshine On My Shoulders" came to my mind first, and I don't even like JD's voice. Twitterers, if like me you're following the bad news from Wise County, this discussion may relieve the anguish...


Are some workers energized by pessimism?

Personally, when I'm alone, I don't use an emotional filter. Most things have nice aspects and nasty aspects. Adults can deal with both...and also with a lot of things that are just plain boring. But when I'm around other people, I distrust the ones who smile (except when jokes are being told). A forced, unnatural facial expression tells me they're lying, so from them I expect the worst.

More political: @KatMurti Twitters, "Most people who have risen out of poverty have done so in spite of--not because of--government."


Are you a libertarian? (Capital-L Libertarian is a political party organization. Small-l libertarian is the outlook of quite a few people in any organized party, or in none.) Here's a quick quiz:

Markeece Young, @YoungBLKRepub, Twittered, "If you're not voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton, retweet. Let's get to 1,000 retweets." When his Tweet crawled across my screen, it was showing 4,000 retweets.

Today is U.S. Senator Tim Kaine's birthday. Twitterers, please wish @TimKaine a happy birthday and many more. (And a wonderful retirement...)


Ionized flying cars...or flying backpacks...or personal rockets? Extremely cool. Not necessarily cost-effective, which could explain why that New Zealand hobbyist gets the opportunity to gloat over having beaten the U.S. Army with his working model. (I get these things in Spanish, with a button at the top right of the page to click for the English translation.)


Twitter seems to consist mostly of snow pictures; I retweeted several that will show up if you open @5PriscillaKing. It looks as if eastern Virginia got more actual snow last night than the point of the state did.

The Kingsport Times-News is collecting photos for an online scrapbook page. This will go into the Sunday Scrapbook in the printed paper. (My mother sends Times-News Sunday Scrapbook pictures to relatives to encourage them to visit; they're always postcard-pretty.)

It took me a while to start a Link Log post because this one feels like a rerun. I went to the Dog Sanctuary, polished up some book reviews, let the dogs out into the snow, and...more snow was falling. A fourth layer of snow. Virginia does not usually get layers of snow, the way the Northern States do. Once again, my choices are spending the night here, or walking home in thick wet the cozy house I left, or to a dark, cold house? Against all odds my electricity didn't even blink during Saturday's snow. Can that happen twice? Can this weird, un-Virginian weather happen twice?

Pursuant to State Senator Carrico's remarks on the disaster, Allie Gibson and Robert Allen of the Bristol Herald-Courier offer some quantification...looks like Coeburn's lost their cute little computer center, which is a pity, new as that building was. Homeless people? Given any choice in the matter, Wise County people generally prefer to stay in Wise County, but I had to re-tweet this with a link to this blog. I have the three dreary rooms. I know people who even have rooms with heat and light. Sometimes I need transportation to Big Stone Gap during the day. Sometimes some other people...have not authorized me to say anything here about what they might need. But a barter deal might be possible. If it's meant to work, it will work.

The Wise County sheriff Twittered (without a link) that county police and Guardsmen are delivering food and water to icebound people. This kind of efforts draw on county food banks. Readers who can afford extra canned food, dry food, and bottled water might want to make a note to send some to Wise County. (Apparently the building that's been housing their main food bank was one of the casualties of the Big Snow:

Those whose water is running, in Wise County, have been advised to boil it before drinking.

Governor McAuliffe went to Wise County:

Hard to believe, but, according to Twitter, the big game between Gate City and (Wise County's) Union High School is still on for tonight. Definitely time for sympathy, and prayers, for our young "Blue Devils." And the Union Bears, too. The boys' game at Virginia High, in Bristol, seems to involve fewer travel hazards, but when temperatures drop back below freezing...

"It's game day for GC! Girls will travel to Wise to play Union. Boys will travel to VA High to play Lebanon. Both will play at 6."

+Sandy Segur 's post is not weather-specific, but...when people have water-flush toilets and don't have running water, this product can make it much easier to be around them. The people, anyway. Not much can be done to ameliorate the toilets. (You'd think dry toilets would have the same problem when the power goes off, but dry toilets tend to be better vented to keep the odor out of the house.)

Northern Virginia, being lower, closer to the ocean, and more prone to local warming, is usually warmer than Southwestern Virginia...but we don't get ice solid enough for skating, either. Thanks to Delegate Ramadan for sharing this warning (before the Legislature opened for business as usual--they're already in Richmond, so what difference does six inches of snow make).

A little California dreaming for those who still have Internet access. There are places on Earth where the weather is nice, and people are hiking.

Weird News 

For those who don't know, Rain Smith is the Kingsport Times-News's answer to "News of the Weird," with a weekly column focussing exclusively on weird 911 calls. This week: sneak snowball attacks!

Women Still Face Hate... 

If Senator McConnell wants evidence, he can look at the hatespew that's suppressed from public view, but not deleted, on my Google + page. (Yes, a lot of homosexual men are woman-haters. Yes, the entire homosexual lobby should be called to account for this, just as they've been called to account for N.A.M.B.L.A.)


"We need diverse dooks"?! I'm surprised that in this day and age anybody was able to put together a collection of children's books that were all written by, for, and about White males. That was possible in 1970 but publishers have been fighting it ever since.

Sometimes I get contrarian about this. One of those invitations I can't afford to accept has been sticking in my mind for months now. A legally White friend wanted to get out of our little town. "There will be Black people at this convention! And lesbians!" I was like, "That's an attraction?" Well, yes, the idea of a broader perspective, voices from beyond the grandmotherly mountains, I think was the attraction the person meant. (There are Black people in our town; none of the exoticism this person craved about them, some of them are schoolteachers.) Even so, I've wondered: Which Black people? Which lesbians? What would we be doing? Why would they want to meet me, or I them? It sank into me at a formative age that my first close Black friend said she didn't enjoy the chance to meet President Carter, on a job, because he said "Can we get a little color in the picture?" and ordered her to pose with a group in which she didn't belong--how icky! I hate the idea of trying to drag people into things just for the sake of "diversity." Diversity does of course make things more interesting, but it needs to happen naturally.

And it will. Look at what happened at Bubblews...once the word got out that the site was global and was paying, they had more "diversity" than they could legally handle. (Look at this belongs to a legally White family, but if you do a demographic inventory of those correspondents who've shared their demographic information, you'll see frantic diversity. I never sat down and said "Now we should recommend a book by an atheist or post a link to a wheelchair user's site, to show we're not prejudiced." It just happens.)

Thanks to Jonah Goldberg for retweeting Katha Pollitt's admission: "I deleted my Scott Walker "love child" tweet. Did not realize it was a 2012 story that has been debunked. Should have been more careful." It's so tempting to use "dirt" on a political opponent without verifying it...and it does take courage to admit we've done this when we have. ("We"? Yes, "we." Who's not done this?)

For better or worse, here's the report on Internet writing:

Book Review: The Five-Minute Marriage

Title: The Five-Minute Marriage
Author: Joan Aiken

Author's estate's web site:
Date: 1977
Publisher: Warner (paperback), Doubleday (hardcover)
ISBN: 0-446-89682-9
Length: 280 pages of text
Quote: “My uncle is so set on the marriage between my two cousins, that he intends to disinherit them both if the wedding does not take place before his death.”
Conrad Aiken, the well-known American poet, had two daughters who grew up in England. Neither tried to write the sort of very very serious and ambitious novels or poems their father wrote. Jane Aiken Hodges specialized in period romances; Joan Aiken (who also married) wrote a few period romances, a few ghost stories, a few murder mysteries, a few contemporary novels, a few imitations of Jane Austen, and one volume of light verse, but was best known for stories about children. Indeed a pair of children, usually a brother and a sister, always “gifted,” emotionally but not physically precocious, are a sort of trademark of her fiction; they’re in this romance too.
The most conspicuous feature of this novel is that Ms. Aiken was obviously playing with the genre. This is a Regency Romance with all the trimmings, the nice but poor girl adrift in a hard world with a mother who’s more of a burden than a protector, the handsome hero who doesn’t seem too promising at first but comes through for the heroine in the end, and all the historical trimmings at a convenient distance from the action...but everybody, arguably including the heroine, Philadelphia or Delphie, has a given name lifted from Arthurian romance, and the hero is burdened with a family name that you’re probably meant to pronounce like “Pennystone” while you see it as a rude joke.
In the years to come, in her novels for Jane Austen fans, Joan Aiken would really pitch into the bizarre mix of snobbery and misogyny that seems to have complicated women’s lives at the turn of the eighteenth century. In this novel she accepts it. Delphie is obliged to marry Gareth because her uncle thinks she’s Gareth’s first cousin; she consents to the marriage on the promise that it can be dissolved easily once her uncle dies, but the plot doesn’t have to make sense, hey? It’s a Regency Romance...Cousin Elaine may be trying to kill Delphie, Cousin Mordred overtly tries to kill Gareth, various other vague and/or illegitimate relatives complicate matters as much as possible...anyway, at the beginning Gareth and Delphie don’t like each other, at the end they do, and all the plot twists tie up in the requisite cellophane-transparent heart-shaped bow at the end.
You won’t believe it. You’re not actually meant to believe it. You’re meant to laugh, and feel relief that your own love life, however messy it may be, is surely less preposterous than Delphie’s. That you will do.
I have exactly one serious objection to this novel, apart from my feeling that editors should have insisted on spelling Gareth’s family name “Pennystone.” The objection is that, if this should happen to be the first of Joan Aiken’s books you read, you might not go on to read and appreciate the books Aiken herself seems to have taken more seriously. This is an amusing romp through the ridiculous, hardly to be compared with the mock-history series that began with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, the character studies of The Girl from Paris or If I Were You, the nonstop nonsense of Arabel’s Raven, the dreamlike stories in Not What You Expected, the subtle social commentary of Morningquest, or the right-to-death eloquence of Midwinter Nightingale. Though deliberately minor, Aiken was never mediocre--but of all the books she wrote (and there were more than a hundred) this is probably the weakest. 

And it's still a delicious, hilarious, even suspenseful read. You know Gareth and Delphie will live happily ever after but you have to read the book to find out how.

Online, even though it's too late to offer The Five-Minute Marriage as a Fair Trade Book, we still have to charge $5 for the book + $5 for shipping if you buy only this book. You could find a better deal. If, however, you're buying a Fair Trade Book, you can easily add this slim little paperback to a package and pay only one $5 for the whole package. (If you scroll down and click on the label "A FAIR TRADE BOOK" at the bottom of a post, the site should display a list of books by living authors who will receive $1 or more when you buy their books by e-mailing salolianigodagewi @

All in the Family

Sent, apparently forwarded, by Karen Bracken, this e-mail contained lots of color photos that didn't copy well. Here's the text only:

"TV executives relationships with Obama Administration. 


ABC News executive producer Ian Cameron is married to Susan Rice, National Security Adviser.

CBS President David Rhodes is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications.

ABC News and Univision reporter Matthew Jaffe is married to Katie Hogan, Obama’s Deputy Press Secretary

ABC President Ben Sherwood is the brother of Obama’s Special Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood

CNN President Virginia Moseley is married to former Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Secretary Tom Nodes.

Ya think there might be a little bias in the news ???"

Morgan Griffith on the Appropriations Process

From Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter:

"A Government of Laws, Not Men

As you may know, the ‘appropriations process’ is the process that appropriates funding for government activities such as national defense, homeland security, education, etc.  While my colleagues and I in the House of Representatives worked the last several years to pass appropriations bills in regular order, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid shielded Senators from hard votes and protected the President from having to sign or veto such bills.

And this year, now-Minority Leader Reid and his Democrat colleagues, at the time of the writing of this column, have voted three times to block the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill passed by the House on January 14.  They have repeatedly obstructed even debating this bill in order to protect President Obama’s actions on immigration, much of which this House-passed bill would roll back.

In our House bill, the President’s questionable actions have been defunded.  Further, the Judicial branch has questioned his authority and, of course, the President himself previously acknowledged at least 22 times that he did not have the authority to take the actions he took on immigration.  The court must determine if the actions are unconstitutional.  But I think – without his having authority – his dictates are unlawful, and that Congress is obligated to exercise its prerogative of the purse as an equal branch of government.

Notwithstanding clear action in the House challenging his authority and a court questioning his authority, the Senate Democrats’ obstruction comes despite some Senators having publicly stated their concerns about the President’s immigration actions.

Sadly, no end is in sight as of the writing of this column.  According to The Hill, "Another vote – and another filibuster – are expected…as a [DHS] shutdown looms at the end of the month."

I have previously taken issue with the modern interpretation of the Senate filibuster rule, doing so in columns dated: November 16, 2012; September 22, 2014; November 3, 2014; and December 15, 2014.  Again, I urge Senate Republicans to revert to the historical filibuster rule.

Regardless, I and 169 other House Republicans recently sent a letter to Minority Leader Reid, demanding that he stop the obstructionism and allow the DHS appropriations bill to be debated.  "President Obama’s actions are tilting the scales of our government in the executive’s favor, threatening to unravel our system of checks and balances and imperiling all our liberties,” the letter reads.  And, “The House of Representatives has acted decisively to defend the Constitution from this clear and present danger by voting to defund the president’s executive actions.  For the sake of our nation, our two bodies must stand together on a bipartisan basis.  But in order to do this, the Senate Democrat caucus must cease to play politics with the Constitution."

The beauty of our system of government is that when one branch overreaches, the other two can work to bring the balance of power back into alignment.  As the saying goes, our government is one of laws, and not of men.  This debate is not about whether you like the President’s immigration policy.  It’s about whether you like the rule of law.

A federal judge recently issued an injunction temporarily blocking President Obama’s actions on immigration.  The Administration’s Justice Department is appealing the ruling of the court, but two branches of government remain: the courts should make decisions to return the balance of power, and Congress must use its power of the purse."

Can People Recover Their Honor?

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where this "Bubble" appeared on 7.31.14. Image credit: Taliesin at Morguefile,, shared this image of a redbud tree, in folklore a symbol of shame.)

People often use the word "honor" to refer to displays of appreciation for something someone else has done. That's not what I have in mind. I'm talking about our internal sense that we have done what we should have done, first, and other people's perception that we have done what we should have done, second.

According to Ayn Rand's philosophy, a sense of honor is the only measurement people need to behave according to "unsentimental" "Objective morality." Rand apparently believed that a sense of honor is hard-wired into all humans.

According to more recent studies cited by Susan M. Cain in Quiet, Rand may have been objectively wrong. Hereditary physical traits shape a healthy introvert personality, but are extrovert personalities defined only by the lack of these traits? Some researchers think that what makes people extroverts is failure to develop what these researchers call "a sense of shame." Whether it's described in terms of honor or shame, the point is that extroverts allegedly blunder through life without knowing when they're doing the right thing, except as what they do earns rewards or punishments from other people.
How accurate this is, I don't know...I'm just glad I'm not an extrovert.

Yesterday, those of us who use Chatabout were informed that that site has just arbitrarily decided to halve payments that several people had already earned under the terms of their original contract. Today we're seeing threats that BubbleWS may, at some point in the future, stop paying us altogether.

I was appalled to see some Chatters posting that they'd "eventually get used to" receiving only half their original pay...which was low enough. As if they hadn't noticed that, even if they can afford to sit around Chatting for hours, many people who use Chatabout can't. Several Chatters have major disabilities, and not all of them even get pensions. So these pathetic brainwashed people who just parrot the words they've heard from their psychiatric social workers are saying that they are willing to "get used to" enabling someone else, who's neither poor nor disabled we may be sure, to yank the lunch money out of some hungry wheelchair dweller's hands.

That's not something I want to "get used to." That's not something I think we should tolerate for a minute. People should be finding out where Chatabout headquarters are and picketing those headquarters, 24/7, demanding that the site owners pay every writer what s/he has earned.

How can that demand be enforced? In a democracy it certainly ought to be enforced by laws that give corporations no privileges above those of ordinary individuals. The law ought to state that until Chatabout has made every possible effort to pay every Chatter the amount they originally offered, plus a fee for their inconvenience, the owners of Chatabout will have their assets seized and sold and, if necessary, their wages garnished.

But, as we all know, corporations exploit loopholes in the law...such as the fact that poor people, especially those with disabilities, aren't likely to file a lawsuit to recover five dollars, which is the amount most of us lost. So what should all of us be doing about people who lack a sense of honor? In an enlightened society we don't kill them, at least not right away. We try, first, to correct their behavior by stirring up their evidently defective sense of shame. In other words we "shame" these people. We make it painfully clear to them that we no longer trust them to do the job in which they behaved shamefully. We don't have to hate them; there may be other jobs they can do very well. But we want everyone to know that what they did was shameful and cannot be tolerated.

A good example might be former President Richard Nixon, who cheated at the game of politics and got caught. Apart from that he may not have been an outstandingly bad man, or even a bad President, but the United States made it very clear that Nixon's behavior as President was tacky and would not be tolerated. After a few years of public disgrace, Richard Nixon became a reasonably successful novelist and enjoyed an active and prosperous old age.

A business not far from here provides a locally known example. After abandoning his first wife, who really was old and sick, and shacking up with a younger woman, a certain gentleman had his turn to be dumped. His first wife was willing to take him a nurse. He talked about this with other people, of whom I was one, and concluded that for him to recover his honor, he would need to go back and be a nurse to his first wife. He did. He is a respected church member and business owner today.

I was greatly surprised when Google + recommended former Congressman Newt Gingrich as a connection for me. I didn't think of him as a Googler. I also posted, a few years ago, that I didn't think a man who abandoned a sick wife for a younger woman was a viable candidate any more. (Michael Moore once did a comedy bit about Elizabeth Dole being a younger second wife. She was, but from what I've heard former Senator Dole's first wife was the one who left him when he was injured.)

Later, I was informed that Mr. Gingrich was a prime funder for some conservative web sites where I sometimes post. How bad is that? I don't think it's bad at all. Left-wing web sites have George Soros and his Tides Foundation; right-wing sites could use a similar godfather figure, and Newt Gingrich, with his proven record in campaigning and politicking, might be excellent in that role. I certainly wouldn't mind having him as a Google + connection.

But here's Chatabout, making its display of tackiness more brazen than Nixon's. What should we do with Chatabout, unless and until we get a clear legal ruling? E-kill the site. Until Chatabout atones for its sin of trying to cut payment down to 1/2X by paying its writers 2X, don't visit the site, don't advertise on the site, and don't link to the site. Shame the site. Publicize the real names of its owners, and make it widely known that anyone who does business with them is enabling shameful, unethical behavior.

People have committed suicide because they were being shamed. On the other hand, more intelligent people have straightened out their behavior, done things that deserved respect, and recovered a respectable position in society, after being shamed. If the rest of us get over our squeamish feelings of false humility and do our part to shame those who behave shamefully, we may actually help more of those people restore their tarnished honor.

[I stand by what I've said. When people try to make up for the damage they've done to others, we should forgive them; when they don't, we should shame them. And of course, in view of recent developments, everything I've said about Chatabout here goes double for Bubblews.]

In Cyberspace I Am a Cat

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where this "Bubble" appeared with an image shared by Taliesin at Morguefile. I'm not finding that image today so here's an image shared by Alvimann:

In cyberspace my name is Priscilla King, and I'm a black cat with amber eyes. (Cyberspace is still getting around to recognizing that "Priscilla King" is, technically, a business, and therefore has no age or gender; when web sites have demanded dates of birth for "Priscilla King" a range of random dates has been used.) In real life I have another name and am human. 

Twenty-some years ago I was asked, "If you weren't human, what animal would you be?" I said the only kind of animal I could imagine being was human. 

Then I went home and, for some reason, took a good long look at my cat. My black cat with just a few small white spots that didn't show. I noticed that wherever the fur was thin enough for her skin to show through, her skin was pale, almost paper-white, and would blush pink under pressure. 

Her skin was showing through because she was nursing kittens. The kittens were not physically related to the cat. The cat had been spayed. During her night at the veterinary hospital she had adopted a kitten, and had had foster kittens ever since. This year's kittens were also black. The skin under their fur was black too. 

They were Manx kittens, a large breed. Their foster mother was part Siamese, a slim and often small breed. Two of the kittens were bigger than the cat. My cat didn't care that she was feeding kittens who were bigger than she was, because her way of claiming her share of control of the world was to make friends or pets of other creatures and adopt kittens. She was a very lovable cat.

I had been a foster mother. I'm biracial (so far as we know), European and American. My foster child, or adoptive sister, is triracial, European, American, and African. When I met her she was already bigger than I was. I realized that I had something in common with this cat. 

The cat we called Black Magic died too young, and because she'd always adopted kittens I made a practice of adopting kittens in memory of her. My home became the Cat Sanctuary. 

None of Magic's foster kittens looked like her, nor (so far) has any of our other cats. However, the first time a web site asked contributors to choose "avatars," they offered one that was a black cat with amber eyes. I picked that one and have used black cat images as "avatars" ever since. 

A little later the "Search Engines Know What You Need" fad came out. If you type your name and the word "needs" into a search engine, what comes up? Chances are, some animal shelter has given your name to an animal, and one of the things the computer says you need will be a home. Open the page, and your name will be attached to a cat or dog. I like it. A few years ago this web site invited animal rescuers to name any black animal with amber eyes "Priscilla" or "King," depending on the gender, after me.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Care of the Hand-Knit Sweater: Comfortable Cotton

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where this "Bubble" appeared on 2.5.14. Photo credit: would I use a photo this bad if it weren't my own?)

Cotton sweaters can be worn next to the skin, like shirts. After wearing a cotton sweater this way, some people want to wear cotton sweaters from September to May. However, using bleach to remove stains will almost always change the color of a cotton sweater.

Cotton sweaters can safely be machine washed, but since cotton absorbs huge amounts of water, they can stretch out of shape if machine dried. Cotton is a fairly stable fibre; it will normally stretch just a little when worn and shrink just a little when washed. To control the direction of shrinkage, spread a freshly washed cotton sweater flat on a lawn chair in front of an electric fan.

Cotton is often dyed in deep, even harsh colors so the colors can mellow with repeated washing. Most cotton will gradually fade back toward its original color over the years. (The original color is normally white, but may be tan, pink, or even green. Naturally tan or pink cottons hold their colors for a long time; naturally green cottons tend to fade to off-white.) To minimize fading, store cotton material away from direct sunlight.

Cotton is biodegradable; it will soften and fray over time. Some cotton fibre will form pills if rubbed vigorously in laundering. Using a “gentle” or “delicate” laundry setting may reduce fraying, but nothing will really make cotton as durable as acrylic. 

Ant Candy

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where this "Bubble" appeared in October of 2014, but I was rewriting it from a draft written in March 2014. Topic credit: Laylalair posted . Image credit: carpenter ant "soldier" by Rollingroscoe at Morguefile,

Carpenter ants, Camponotus pennsylvanicus and other species, are large black ants that nest in damp wood. The best way to control them is, of course, to keep the wood in your home and outbuildings dry. If you live in a forest-intensive part of eastern North America, this is not possible, so you may need to do other things about carpenter ants.

According to various educational web sites I checked in order to discuss carpenter ants with you, technically these pests don't even eat your trees, buildings, furniture, books, and papers. They don't digest wood and paper. They just chew it up and exude acid onto it to convert it into a useless pulpy mess. They particularly love maple and fruit trees, but they're not picky--they'll destroy just about anything.

In some ways carpenter ants seem more like termites than like ants, though the body shapes of ants and termites are very different. (Here's a drawing that highlights the differences: . Here are some photos: .)

Carpenter ants have four gender roles, like termites, rather than three, like normal ground-nesting ants. Males are small and have wings. Breeding females ("queens") are large and have wings. Wingless sterile female "workers" are almost twice as big as their fathers, but hardly half as big as wingless sterile female "soldiers," The "workers" and "soldiers" look like two different species, but on close observation they live in the same nests. Males and "queens" also live in these nests, and a colony may have several "queens." 

All carpenter ants act as if they thought they could bite and sting. No carpenter ant can do more than nip human skin, but queens and soldiers are big enough to nip fairly hard.

Carpenter ants are omnivorous; they like both grease and sugar, and will also eat other human food if it's available. Though unable to puncture skin, they like fresh meat; I've seen them attack wounded mammals, and I've often seen them dragging moths and other large insects to their nests as food.
The fact that they eat other things than wood makes carpenter ants much easier to kill than termites. You can spray borax or diatomaceous earth into the nest, or, if you can't find the nest, you can get the ants to carry the poison in for you, by offering them a feast of Ant Candy.

Ant Candy is most visibly effective in spring, but can be made with any particularly nasty inedible candy received for Halloween, Christmas, or Valentine's Day. (Carpenter ants hibernate through the cold part of winter but may be observed foraging as late as Halloween in the South.)

Some things I think of as Ant Candy material include honey (sickeningly sweet), imitation maple syrup (I have successfully used store-brand "pancake syrup" to glue metal parts together; it held for twenty years), bigger-than-bite-size caramel candies that are impossible to bite neatly, any candy that seems hard or stale, and any candy that's not long as it's made with sugar and/or honey and/or corn syrup. Carpenter ants don't like saccharin or aspartame. They like Twizzlers, and cheap fruit-flavored candies that all taste like "fruit punch," and odd bits of saltwater taffy left over from three summers ago...

An empty tin can is a good container in which to mix and store ant candy. Half-fill the tin with nasty sweets. Melt them down on low heat if they are solid. Stir in borax crystals to make a stiff paste. Set the can in a place where you've observed ant activity. Protect it from the weather and from birds and pets by setting a larger can on top of worries, the ants can get under the larger can. Small flat cans, like cat food or tuna cans, are easiest to handle.

You should notice a decline in the local ant populations within a week, and if there are local populations of nuisance roaches (as distinct from Pennsylvania Wood Roaches), those should start to decline too. Unfortunately Ant Candy does not tempt termites. Nor does it usually tempt Wood Roaches. Palmetto Roaches, or "Florida wood roaches," will eat it; in the South, or during the warm season when they spread into the middle States, you may need to stir up several tuna cans full to make sure they leave enough for the ants.

What Would I Do With a Million Dollars?

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where this "Bubble" appeared on 2.24.14. I checked Morguefile for a graphic associated with "frugal" and got this adorable bit of home decor from Seemann: No, that's not my dream bedroom...why would I spend money on that wooden bedstead when I have a metal bedstead and a board to lay over it? I like the heavy outer curtain that could be used to reduce the amount of space an electric heater would need to run long enough to warm up on a cold winter night, though.)

Thanks to Bethany1202 for suggesting this topic: What would I do with a million dollars?

Ten years ago, I wouldn't have thought I would need to save any of it for the future, since I'd rather work for more money than pay taxes on a savings account. Ten years ago, I would have thought about spending it mindfully and giving it to charities. The main thing I've learned during the past ten years has been how very, very, very wrong this kind of thinking was. I still don't plan to retire, but I now know how long that proverbial "rainy day" can be.

Here's the kicker--in a lot of ways I don't think my lifestyle would change much.

I'd replace the long-dead deep freezer, shop ahead, and be even more fanatical about buying groceries only when the price is what seems right to me (as I learned prices in the 1990s). We can all help to fight inflation by not giving in to it. (I'd buy more fresh vegetables in farmers' markets, though.)

I'd buy more arable land, plant more vegetables and fruit, and sell more produce in the local farmers' market.

I'd definitely open the bookstore-and-computer-center I want. As a nonprofit--hey, I'd need a tax write-off! And I'd hire people to work in it when I felt like writing or gardening.

I'd definitely put the family discussed here...

...into a trailer house. I'd agree with the church people that rebuilding a proper farmhouse is too much for them to ask others to hand to them, and should be something they work at, themselves, with help from friends. I would like to be one of the friends; construction work runs in the family and although the men are usually the ones who do it as a full-time job, quite a few of the women like to help.

The Cat Sanctuary would, of course, be looking beautiful. Positively a tourist attraction. 

I'd support charities...duh...with some emphasis on charities that do something useful to raise money, such as operating good secondhand stores. I like thriftshopping, I like good causes, and I love old books and odd, inspiring batches of yarn.

None of The Nephews (male or female) would have to take out a loan to go to college, provided that they worked more hours per week each year and maintained decent grades. 

I might adopt a few children...definitely not newborn, possibly a family group.

I would still buy all ready-made clothes, except shoes and underwear, secondhand. 

I would still want to use the Internet on public-access computers rather than having it at home.

I still wouldn't have a TV set. I'd still listen to music mostly on cassette tapes. I'd still cook on a wood stove. I'd still harvest my own wood from what falls on the ground and what's left over from construction jobs. I'd still heat most of the house only to 55 degrees, or lower. 
And I just might fund efforts to make pedal-powered electrical generators available to the world.

Phenology: Bill Carrico on the Snow Emergency

As this web site has mentioned before, whenever Virginia sees anything remotely resembling what Northerners call winter weather, we call it a disaster--and it is, because we don't get this kind of weather every year, and are not prepared.

Gate City got up to six inches of powder last week, then six inches of wet snow (more fell, but it melted and packed down) on Saturday, then another inch or two of powder early Monday morning. Not bad--unless you were trying to drive on a back road, where slippery powder snow concealed a treacherous crust of ice. I didn't even want to walk out and see the inevitable idjits trying to drive under these conditions. I took two snow days at home and was, frankly, cozy. This is, after all, the kind of thing people in the Northern States expect to live with for one-quarter of the year, and in other places where this web site is read "winter weather" is usually worse than this.

Winter weather is usually more severe in Wise County than in Scott County. Higher mountains; rougher back roads. Wendy Welch described the situation in downtown Big Stone Gap as pleasant, with people finally putting those four-wheel nuisance vehicles to good use...but one person's jolly snow party is usually another person's snow disaster.

From Virginia State Senator Bill Carrico:


Richmond - Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County) issued the following statement today concerning the ongoing states of emergency in the Southwest Virginia counties of Wise, Lee and Dickenson:

"My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Wise, Lee and Dickenson counties as they continue to endure brutal weather conditions that have led to widespread damage and dangerous scenarios for many residents.  I want to assure them that we are working hard to ensure that all available state resources are leveraged to their full potential for the affected counties.  I would like to commend the first responders, local leaders, the National Guard, and the state agencies and officials who are working tirelessly to help manage the situation.  My office will continue to do the same, and we pray that weather conditions will improve in the very near future."

Wise, Lee and Dickenson counties have declared states of emergency after more than two feet of snow accumulated last week, with potentially more in the forecast.  Widespread damage is occurring to businesses and residences, along with power and water outages and transportation concerns.  The National Guard is in Wise County to assist in the damage clean-up and help county officials prepare for any additional accumulation.  In the county alone, officials estimate damage there to be millions of dollars in damage.

Individuals with storm damage to report are encouraged to call 276-328-2321. "

To which this web site adds: Youall know I don't have a lot to offer, but if anybody in Wise County has become temporarily homeless as a result of all this snow, their friends who have Internet access may Twitter @5PriscillaKing . (I'll even lean on people whose spare bedrooms have electricity.)

Morgan Griffith Wants to Help the Net-Free

You're reading this on a computer, so it's not applicable to you personally, but how many people do you know who either (a) don't use computers, or (b) don't want to post their financial information on the Internet, not even at (Seriously, I registered a business at, but I have no intention of filing taxes at Letting hackers know that a business or a person exists is a very different thing from letting them know how much money the business or the person has.)

Congressman Morgan Griffith would like to help. This is like using the public library or park or something; the more people are counted as using services, including the service of printing tax forms, the more likely those services are to stay in the budget.

From Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter:

"Readers of this column may recall that, earlier this month, I wrote about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the fact that they are sending limited forms and few free instruction booklets to assist with filing tax returns this year.  While in Wytheville last week, I was speaking with a constituent who had checked his local library, courthouse, etc. for the information he needed to file his taxes.  When he found these places did not have the materials he needed, he contacted our office for assistance acquiring tax forms and instructions.  He told me last week that our office promptly provided him with the resources he required.

As a reminder, Ninth District residents without internet access can contact my office (see below) for assistance acquiring tax forms and instructions.  IRS forms and instructions can also be found online at to be downloaded and printed."

The Hole in the Safety Net

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where this "Bubble" appeared on 8.20.14.  Topic credit: Thebluesprite posted , which reminded me of something I wrote for Associated Content many years ago. This was a shorter update of that article. Yardman-at-work image from KConnors at Morguefile:

In the United States, for at least seventy years, we've been talking about our "welfare safety net." Unfortunately the talk always seems to be about fixing the "safety net" by throwing more money at it, allowing some people to work the system for years as welfare cheats, rather than reforming the rules to keep people who really need help from falling through the holes in the safety net.

After spending several years in Washington, D.C., where this kind of story is rare, I initially thought the story of a man in my mother's neighborhood in Kingsport, Tennessee, was unique. I'd never heard of such a thing and worried that by publishing the story of "Joe Eastman" I'd violated his family's privacy. No such luck. There were lots of families like that in Kingsport.

"Joe" had got one of those coveted steady full-time jobs at the Eastman Chemical Company. He'd even bought one of the nice little houses on the less overpriced side of the neighborhood people retired into. Nobody in Kingsport even remembered him as an alcoholic who'd been married to an addict. The addict had kept the children, and Joe had to pay child support, but he and his wife could afford that.

Then an accident at the factory damaged Joe's spine. For some time there was real concern that he might never be able to walk again. Around the time the corporate disability compensation fund ran out, a doctor determined that Joe could walk, and could do some kinds of work, but not the heavy labor he'd been doing. He was trying to get a job he could still do when some troublemaker noticed that he'd missed a few child support payments. According to Tennessee law, if a non-custodial parent misses child support payments s/he loses his/her driver's license. Joe continued job hunting, but according to Kingsport custom, if a person is seen walking the person is presumed to be unfit for employment. Joe fell behind on other payments. Utilities were disconnected. The house became an uncomfortable place to live. Joe's wife left.

Neighbors tried to help by hiring Joe to work as a yardman. Although this was not enough to pay all the late fees and put Joe's economic life together, seeing how hard he was working eventually brought his wife back. However, Joe still was not allowed to reclaim his driver's license and his place in local society. He lost the house. I was at Mother's house for Thanksgiving when Joe came around to say goodbye. He was worried that, by losing his home in Kingsport, he'd have to go back to the neighborhood where the friends and relatives who would take him in would be alcoholics.

I was worried about that, too. I made some indignant phone calls because I didn't want to believe that this was the way the system was set up. Yes, it was. The welfare system is not set up to reward poor people for working hard and trying to lead decent lives. Joe would have to "hit bottom" as an alcoholic again before the system could do anything for him. This had happened and was happening to a lot of people.

Well, in that particular case, the man didn't have to fall all the way to the "bottom" of alcoholism again. His wife kept them afloat long enough for Joe to be awarded a disability pension. Now, all this time, Joe had been walking around the neighborhood, mowing yards and raking leaves. He could have gone on doing that. He could have been keeping a store, driving a taxi, or making deliveries--although in Kingsport those jobs mostly seem to be done by women. But nobody was paying him enough for doing those things for him to keep his home. So the case could be made that he really was disabled. Anyway, he stopped working and moved into a low-income housing project.

Long story short...there are people in the U.S. welfare system who don't want the system to work that way, but that is the way it works. And that's why I think real compassion for people in real need does not mean throwing more money at the welfare system. It may mean keeping the welfare system, and in the long run it may even mean keeping the system at its current level of funding, but it does demand massive reforms to a system that forces people to become paupers when it would have been cheaper and easier to help them stay in the upper middle class.