Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Meme: Favorite Fictional Characters

I'd like to start a meme...even though I'm typing this on Blogspot, the site that seems set up to discourage blog comments and conversations. Any number can play, any number of times. The question is, "Who is one of your favorite fictional characters, and why?"

If you read a lot of fiction, you might want to limit your answers to the top fifty or hundred favorites.

The idea of posting this meme came to me after scheduling a post about Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River. I liked Trudi Montag (despite a certain physical resemblance to a student labor supervisor I consciously chose not to know, socially, as an adult). I don't like the majority of characters, or the majority of novels, but I've liked enough that I wanted to go back and start with the first characters I remembered liking in children's novels, as a child. I had four Official Favorite novels, all the way through elementary school, and thought I would have liked the child protagonists in each one of they'd been real people.

So let's start with Frances Hodgson Burnett's Sara Crewe in A Little Princess. If I ever took a fictional character seriously as a role model, or advised a child to, this would have been the one. Smart, creative, generous, brave, hardworking, and also willing and able to yank the chains of mean people just by being nice, Sara shares humor-impairment with other Burnett characters, but anybody who likes animals that much and speaks that many languages has to have some latent sense of humor somewhere.
I enjoyed Sara’s story when I was seven, and as an adult I remember it as probably the best, truest storybook I read as a child. Everyone says now, and in different ways everyone said in the 1880s, that how much money people have makes no difference to them. Their relationships are pure and spiritual and blah blah. Some people even believe they do react to other people in a pure and spiritual way that has nothing to do with who has more and who has less. Children need to know that this is, by and large, a lie. Mean, selfish people like Maria Minchin may of course hate other people just as much when it’s profitable for them to “make nice” as they do when it’s not...but notice how the ordinary people react to Sara when they see her as someone who has more or as someone who has less.
Notice that, although her idealism gives some emotional comfort to Sara, the mere fact that Sara has any emotional comfort aggravates Miss Minchin. (Burnett and some of her characters were attracted to early forms of Positive Thinking, but this had not led Burnett out of touch with reality.) Christians believe that the existence of good is a source of torment to those who have settled into evil ways. Sara’s independence of thought disturbs the unpleasant people she knows enough when they envy her money; it pushes them into violence when she no longer has money. Children as young as Sara is at the beginning of the book have already had time to observe that this is the way the world is. As a child I appreciated the information that some adults, even adults who write books, understand the complexity of human nature and aren’t trying to impose some demented philosophical theory of their own upon the world. Sara is about as lovable as a child can be...except to those who hate her.

We might as well admit to children that the more lovable they are to people of good will, the more hate they, too, will stir up in evildoers. Miss Minchin hates Sara not even so much for that careless, childish mistake of calling Miss Minchin a poor old thing who doesn’t know any better as for that horrid, creepy, crazy noble-heartedness that prompts Sara to share the penny buns with Anne.

The story is, of course, about how people react to Sara as rich child and as poor child. The plot that moves her up and down the socioeconomic ladder is a tiny bit obvious. I’ve never been able to decide whether the story Burnett actually wrote, where Captain Crewe is really dead and Sara has to be rescued by his friend, or the Hollywood version, where Captain Crewe is found to be alive in the hokiest Hollywood manner, is less plausible. I just generally prefer the book to the movie, although as 1930s movies went I suppose A Little Princess was above average—it had Shirley Temple in it. Then again that may have been one of the many points where the movie lost credibility. It was just too ironic that, in the book, Sara had been told that another child (described as looking more like Shirley Temple) was pretty and that Sara was not. 

In real life people move dramatically up and down the socioeconomic ladder in ways that might be more interesting for being real. I have; that's how I know firsthand that the way people react to Sara as rich girl and as poor girl in the book is true to life, no matter how much some people want to deny it. Frances Hodgson Burnett had seen some ups and downs in life too. 

Book Review: Home Alone 2

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Home Alone 2

Author: Todd Strasser and John Hughes

Author's web site: http://www.toddstrasser.com

Illustrations: color photo insert

Publisher: Scholastic

Date: 1992

Length: 152 pages

Quote: “Buzz always promised he'd change, but by the next day he'd be the same bully again.”

During the 1990s, three of the movies America loved best were the Home Alone series, featuring brilliant child actor Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, the youngest child whose family couldn't keep from misplacing him on vacation trips. Everybody wanted to adopt little Kevin; sometimes he even seemed to feel sorry for himself, but within a few minutes he was off to try another hilarious trick to foil the many adults, from busybodies to burglars, who interfered with his jolly, prezzie-filled, fashionable yuppie-child Christmas. While many movies are based loosely on novels, and Home Alone was based on stunts, the success of these movies prompted Scholastic Press to hire popular author Todd Strasser to write “novelizations.”

In Home Alone 2, the other McCallisters go to Florida. Kevin goes to New York. He's been recording random snatches of music, TV, and family conversation, for fun, and finds ways to use his recordings to rent a room at the Plaza, see the sights...and confuse his old enemies the burglars when he runs into them again.

It definitely helps Kevin that these happen to be two of the world's most bungling burglars, at their best. It also helps the cause of good clean slapstick comedy. Anything funny that could be done with a fad toy or “gift item” to prevent an adult from doing what he was trying to do, if the movie producers couldn't work in a way to have Kevin do it to these burglars, was done by them to themselves. Before Kevin starts having fun with them, in Home Alone 2, the burglars have been bashed by toy gorilla paws. In between the predictable comedy scenes featuring burglars and bricks, greased ladders, igniting ropes, full cans of paint, and household tools, Kevin sends them sliding on plastic “pearls,” removes their facial hair with still-trendy super-glue, and, just before the burglars are taken back to prison, gets the local Pigeon Lady to cover them in birdseed. (In the movies nobody got badly hurt, but kids should not try these stunts at home...I had to say that to maintain my membership in the aunts' union.)

Scholastic's standards have slipped since they brought Clifford the Big Red Dog to the nurseries of America; sloppy editing, possibly automatic computer editing, confuses children by letting Kevin plan an “affect” and a burglar grab for a greased “wrung.” Oh well. Do children read novelizations of old movies? This book is a nostalgia trip for adults. No question: Reading this book is not as good as watching the brand-new movie, in a theatre, with a friend, was the first time around. But the book will remind you of the movie. So you'll enjoy it.

Todd Strasser has written several original books for teenagers that have received critical acclaim. His "novelizations" have not; "novelizations" don't receive critical acclaim. They do prove, for those who read laboriously and want to know that a novel will hold their interest, that Strasser knows how to tell lively, plausible, funny stories about guys.

As regular readers know: when you buy a Fair Trade Book online, you send $5 per book + $5 per package to salolianigodagewi @ yahoo.com. One copy of Home Alone 2 adds up to $10. We send 10% of this price per book, or $1, to Todd Strasser or a charity of his choice. Six copies, or one copy of Home Alone 2 and one each of five other books of the same size, would add up to $35, from which we'd send $6 to Strasser or his charity, or $1 to him and $1 to each other author, or whatever combination would be applicable. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Phenology Post for June 29

After a week that felt like July, the past two days have felt like early May again: overnight lows in the fifties (Fahrenheit). I'm loving it. A few straggler berries managed to ripen in the orchard. The wind that brought in this cool weather brought us some thunderstorms, but nothing really unpleasant--although I was caught out in a thunderstorm on Friday night, and walking on a paved road, below electric power lines, in a thunderstorm was not very pleasant at the time.

I saw a small adult raccoon and two young raccoons, dead, out on Route 23 last week. They might have been our faithless friend Rackety Coon, whom I've not seen or heard lately, and her/his family. I hope so.

More pleasant sights on Route 23 this morning were the wildflowers. Chicory, a hardy weedy wildflower, doesn't usually grow in enough profusion to make patches of pale blue beside roads. This year it has. Crown vetch and native vetch are in bloom. Daisies are still in bloom. Some tiger lilies are still blooming, although the patch that was blazing beside Route 23 last week is subsiding now. A few morning glories have bloomed. In Tennessee a few sweet peas are still in bloom.

Grandma Bonnie Peters made a point of turning onto a road called Mimosa Drive, this morning. Most street names in most American cities are arbitrarily chosen, but on Mimosa Drive we could see an especially large and fully loaded mimosa tree. At this point I'd like to throw in a Morguefile image of a mimosa tree, for those who don't have one to look at, but, despite having been promised a new computer two weeks ago, we are still plodding along with the Sickly Snail.

Pathogenic Microorganisms (edited for link formatting)

[Below, Gentle Readers, is the article I wrote on Friday. It was not meant to appear here. It was meant for the use of a paying client. It was written for publication overseas, so follows British spelling and punctuation rules rather than the American rules this site normally follows. Due to what may have been ordinary foul-ups in cyberspace, which are common enough, but we can't rule out the possibility that the foul-ups were deliberately created to allow someone to gank the text without paying for it, I've not received payment for the job. So, here's what I wrote. If the client just didn't want it, very well, it's still my intellectual property, which someone else may purchase and print if they like. If some hacker is trying to use it without paying, I can prove plagiarism.]

[About the references: In Word Documents, we use footnotes or endnotes. In Blogspot, we use links. Some of these links open pages that use up lots of memory and/or contain cookies, despite their academic respectability, and you might prefer to look up some of the references in print anyway; I didn't, but printed versions exist. So, each link is used only once. While footnotes are usually placed at the end of a paragraph that draws on a source, links are attached to keywords or names, sometimes at the beginning of the paragraph. A list of links appears in order at the end of the document.]

Pathogenic microorganisms are tiny living things that can cause diseases. Four types of pathogenic microorganisms are viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasitic protozoa.
Viruses evolve fast because they reproduce only within living host cells of animals, plants, or even bacteria. They appear under an electron microscope to consist of 'an RNA or DNA core, a protein coat, and, in more complex types, a surrounding envelope.' Distinct shapes allow virologists to classify some viruses into families, genera, and species.
Nucleic acid from a virus and host cell can combine during the process of replication, allowing a virus to transfer nucleic acid from one host to another even if the second host belongs to a different species. This makes some viruses useful in genetic modification.
Not all viruses cause disease symptoms. Some viruses can be 'dormant' in a body for years without producing symptoms. While virus-related diseases like the 'common cold' produced by human rhinovirus, or the symptoms produced by Herpes simplex, are well known, researchers are still studying the many factors that seem to influence whether or not these viruses cause symptoms in a particular patient.
Virus Transmission
Some viruses, such as norovirus, can be transmitted through the air. Others seem to require more direct contact; human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, which causes AIDS) and Herpes simplex seem to be transmitted only through contact with certain body fluids from an infected person. For some viruses, the means of transmission and avoidance are not fully understood. There is debate about whether standing at a 'healthy distance' from other people, washing hands frequently, or both is most important in preventing infection with human rhinovirus.
Bacteria consist of a single cell that has a cell wall but lacks the nucleus and organelles observed in single cells from more complex organisms. A 'nucleoid' contains chromosomes (DNA); the cytoplasm in a bacterium also contains ribosomes and other 'inclusions'. Bacteria may also have appendages, often 'flagella' structures that help a bacterium swim. Senior classifies bacteria into eight groups based on their ability to photosynthesise, their shape, and their reaction to staining.
Although many bacteria have been given genus and species names, bacteriologists debate the definition of a bacterial species. Future scientists may eventually discard familiar species names such as Staphylococcus aureus and Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Bacterial 'growth' is measured as an increase in numbers rather than size. Bacteria reproduce by fission when the environment is favorable. Conditions favorable to bacterial growth vary but most bacteria associated with human diseases multiply at temperatures close to human body temperature.
Nutrition triggers reproduction in bacteria. Bacteria vary in their needs for oxygen, salt, and acidity, but most of the bacteria that infect humans thrive in environments similar to human bodies. While the Cyanobacteria or 'blue-green algae' live by independent photosynthesis, and some types of bacteria self-nourish through 'chemosynthesis' of specific chemicals, most bacteria need a variety of nutrients found in organic material. Researchers cultivate most bacteria in the laboratory on agar solutions.
Some bacteria, like Lactobacillus acidophilus, are so 'friendly' to humans that bacterial cultures are used to process food and even sold as digestive supplements. Others, like Staphylococcus aureus, may 'commonly colonise' humans 'without causing any problems' yet cause diseases that may become fatal to immune-deficient patients. A few, like Clostridium tetani, are associated with specific diseases.
Bacterial Transmission 
Some bacteria can be transmitted through the air. Some are transmitted by food, and may cause 'food poisoning'. Most bacteria that infect humans can also spread through contact with body fluids. Some can be transmitted by 'vector' species such as mosquitoes. A few hardy bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus can survive on nonliving surfaces, such as linens, long enough to infect others. Clostridium bacteria, which do not tolerate oxygen, are not airborne but can be transmitted through contact with soil where an infected person or animal deposited body fluids.
Fungi are a very large and diverse group of organisms traditionally placed in the plant kingdom. The three main types of fungi are single-cell organisms (yeasts), multi-cell filaments (moulds), and multi-cell filamentous organisms that form large fruiting bodies (mushrooms).
Mushrooms may be nutritious or toxic when consumed by humans but the fungi that form mushrooms are not considered genuine pathogens. They can, however, be allergens.
A few types of yeasts and moulds can infect humans, occasionally producing serious disease conditions. Most people who develop serious fungal infections have immune system impairments. Since fungi thrive in warm, damp environments, they are often associated with tropical countries, but outbreaks of histoplasmosis (infection by Histoplasma capsulatum) are reported among people who explore bat habitats as far north as southern Canada. Candidiasis (infection by an overgrowth of naturally occurring Candida albicans) and ringworm (infection by Tinea species) are reported worldwide. 
Fungal Infection Transmission 
Although fungus spores are airborne, most fungal infections are transmitted through direct contact with the fungus. Tinea infections often spread through contact with surfaces at spas, gyms, locker rooms, etc. Histoplasmosis can be transmitted either through skin contact with mould spores, or through inhaling airborne spores. Candidiasis can be transmitted through direct contact but usually becomes a problem only when the patient loses normal immunity, since Candida albicans is normally present in healthy human bodies.
Protozoa are relatively large, mobile, single-cell organisms that can be observed through a simple microscope. Although each protozoan consists of only one cell, some amoebae can be up to 1 mm in size, and protozoan cells have nuclei and various other structures similar to those found in animals; Yaeger describes their complexity as "more like an animal than like a single cell." Most protozoa pass through several stages, sometimes including "cyst" stages in which the organism is encased in a rigid wall and seems dormant until conditions permit it to emerge into a more active form. The most common form of reproduction is simple fission, but some forms of protozoan reproduction are considered sexual. Protozoa spend most of their lives in liquids, which may include tears, blood, and other liquids within larger organisms.
Most protozoans are harmless to humans. A few, such as Trichomonas vaginalisEntamoeba histolytica, and Giardia lamblia, can infect humans and cause diseases. 
Protozoan Transmission 
Protozoa are less easily transmitted than the smaller pathogens. They usually spread from one host to another by direct contact. This can be body-to-body contact (the usual route for Trichomonas vaginalis), contact with infected water or soil (the usual route for Entamoeba and Giardia), contact through vectors such as mosquitoes, or 'predator-prey' contact (eating infected organisms as food). 
How are pathogenic microorganisms treated and prevented? 
A variety of treatments have been developed and used, with varying degrees of success, to treat different types of infestation with pathogenic microorganisms. Antibiotics are effective against most bacterial infections (although resistant strains have emerged) because most bacteria reproduce asexually, evolve slowly, and tend to die out in a given habitat after some time in any case. Fungal infections can be harder to treat, and some viral infections still defy medical science despite recent breakthroughs with antiviral drugs. Clean, healthy humans with robust immune systems still enjoy better resistance and better chances of recovery from infection by pathogenic microorganisms.
The category of viruses includes both human rhinovirus, probably the least feared of all common pathogenic microorganisms, and human immunodeficiency virus, possibly the most feared. These two types of infection display the wide range of human responses to pathogenic microorganisms.
People infected with human rhinovirus may or may not bother to seek help. If they do seek help they may be told to get some rest, sip hot liquids, take aspirin, or just work through it. Most people's immune systems wipe out the virus in a day or two.
People infected with human immunodeficiency virus may carry and transmit the virus for years without knowing they have it. What 'awakens' the dormant virus and produces AIDS is not completely understood; however, when HIV begins replicating, it destroys the patient's natural immunity and prevents the patient from ever really fighting off the infection. Although today's antiviral drugs offer people with AIDS better prospects for a long active life than was imaginable in the 1980s, treatment for this disease remains costly and lasts a lifetime.
Rapid progress is being made in understanding and treating conditions caused by pathogenic microorganisms. Earlier detection and more effective treatments are possible today than were possible even ten years ago. Nevertheless, prevention remains the best cure.

References [all confirmed 26 June 2015]
1. Available from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/virus.
2. Gelderblom, H. 'Structure and classification of viruses' in Medical Microbiology 4th edition, ed Baron S, University of Texas at Galveston, Galveston, 1996. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8174/.
3. University of California at Menlo Park, 1997, Introduction to the viruses. Available from http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/alllife/virus.html.
4. Lee, W, Lemanske, R, Evans, M, Vang, F, Pappas, T, Gangnon, R, Jackson, D, & Gern, J, 2012, 'Human rhinovirus species and season of infection determine illness severity', American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine 2012 Nov 1; 186(9): 886–891. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3530215/.
5. Liggett, S, Bochkov, Y, Pappas, T, Lemanske, R, Gern, J, Sengamalay, N, Zhao, X, Suc, Q, Fraser, C & Palmenberg, A, 2014, 'Genome sequences of Rhinovirus A isolates from Wisconsin pediatric respiratory studies', Genome Announcements March/April 2014, vol. 2. no. 2, e00200-14. Available from http://genomea.asm.org/content/2/2/e00200-14.full.
6. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention 2015, HIV transmission. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/transmission.html.
7. Public Health Agency of Canada 2011, Rhinovirus. Available from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-ftss/rhinovirus-eng.php.
8. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention 2015, Common colds: Protect yourself and others. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/.
9. Google.com. Available from
10. Todar, K. Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology. Madison WI, 2012. Available from http://textbookofbacteriology.net/structure.html.
11. Senior, K. 2014, How many types of bacteria are there? Available from http://www.typesofbacteria.co.uk/how-many-types-bacteria-are-there.html.
12. Cohan, FM 2002, 'What are bacterial species?', Annual Review of Microbiology 2002;56:457-87. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12142474.
13. University of California at Davis, Bacterial growth and reproduction. Available from https://smartsite.ucdavis.edu/access/content/user/00002950/bis10v/week7/13bacteriagrowth.html.
14. Scheffers, D, 2013, 'Bacterial reproduction and growth', Wiley Online Library, DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001419.pub2. Available from http://www.els.net/WileyCDA/ElsArticle/refId-a0001419.html.
15. Georgia Perimeter College, Bacterial growth. Available from http://facstaff.gpc.edu/~cmcallis/1913/1913Fall'09WebPages/Web%20Chapter%20Notes/Ch6BacterialGrowth1-11-02revisions.htm.
16. Public Health England 2014, Staphylococcus aureus: guidance, data and analysis. Available from https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/staphylococcus-aureus-guidance-data-and-analysis.
17. Mayo Clinic Staff 2015, Staph infections: Causes. Available from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/staph-infections/basics/causes/con-20031418.
18. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention 2013, Tetanus: Causes and transmission. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/tetanus/about/causes-transmission.html.
19. Society for General Microbiology 2015, 'Fungi', Microbiology online. Available from http://www.microbiologyonline.org.uk/about-microbiology/introducing-microbes/fungi.
20. Betz, B, 1990, 'Respiratory tract diseases in oyster mushroom cultivators', Pneumologie 1990 Feb;44 Suppl 1:339-40. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2367412.
21. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention 2015, 'Fungal diseases'. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/. 'Types of fungal diseases'. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/index.html. 'Who gets fungal diseases?' Available from http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/infections/index.html.
22. Ericsson, C, Steffen, R, Panackal, A, Hajjeh, R, Cetron, M & Warnock, D, 2015, 'Fungal infections among returning travelers', Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 35, issue 9. Available from http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/9/1088.full.
23. Chiller, T, 2013, 'Histoplasmosis', in Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Infectious diseases related to travel. Available from http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2014/chapter-3-infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/histoplasmosis.
24. Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014, Candida albicans: Pathogen safety data sheet. Available from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-ftss/msds30e-eng.php.
25. ABPI Schools 2015, Resources for schools. Available from http://www.abpischools.org.uk/page/modules/infectiousdiseases_pathogens/pathogens5.cfm.
26. Yaeger, R. Medical Microbiology 4th edition, ed Baron S, University of Texas at Galveston, Galveston, 1996. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8325/.
27. Australian Society for Parasitology, 'Protozoan parasites', Para-site. Available from http://parasite.org.au/para-site/contents/protozoa-intoduction.html.
28. Mayo Clinic Staff, 2015, Diseases and conditions: HIV/AIDS: Treatments and drugs. Available from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/basics/treatment/con-20013732.

Book Review: Dungeon Fire and Sword

Title: Dungeon, Fire and Sword

Author: John J. Robinson

Publisher: M. Evans

Date: 1991

Length: 478 pages of text, 4 pages of bibliography, 12 pages of index

Quote: “Anyone who believes that historical research is drudgery has never delved into the past of the military monastic order known as the Knights Templar. Its story...is high adventure.”

That's what readers like about John J. Robinson's history of medieval Europe, the centuries most remembered for the Crusades and Inquisition. “Dark,” in the sense of unenlightened, these “ages” may have been, but that was why their history is so much like an action-adventure blockbuster movie script.

Here are a few noble warriors, and a lot of vicious, treacherous ones. Also glamorous, strongminded women—and children (some feudal heirs were “married,” for dynastic reasons, before age twelve). Likewise sincere Christians and Muslims (many of whom were able to make peace with one another) and hypocritical ones. And homosexuals (the richest and most powerful people surrounded themselves with guards and servants, thus creating crowded conditions—and quite a few medieval kings had boyfriends). And slaves (of all conditions and ethnic types), and foot soldiers. Here are kings, queens, knights, popes, and vassals as they really were, not as splendid as they're made to seem in traditional fairy tales, nor as vile as they're made to seem in modern political rants; simply human, and fallible. Mercy, were they ever fallible. The purpose of Dungeon Fire and Sword is to interest readers in a chapter of history that's often neglected today, but this chapter of history does happen to make a pretty good case for American Democracy, even if an historian never mentions that directly.

Some of the bare facts presented in this book may make you laugh, or at least hoot. Some may make you cry. Some might even make you sick if you think about them very long. Robinson doesn't linger on the gross-outs; he's telling a long, complicated story, and moves fast.

This is the history on which the “Indiana Jones” blockbusters drew, and on which various “ancient and secret” social clubs draw; Dungeon Fire and Sword explains what these people are going on about and how much of it was real, or at least documented by mostly-reliable contemporary writers as real. This book describes the glorious and tacky lives of Richard the Lion-Hearted, Saladin, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Simon de Montfort, “Saint” Louis IX, the Baldwins, Bernard of Clairvaux (the hymn writer), Godfrey de Bouillon, Raymond of Toulouse, Genghis Khan, Pope Gregory, Rashid-Eddin Sinan (the Old Man of the Mountain), Barbarossa, Jelaladdin, Ismail of Damascus, Philip le Bel, and several other people whose names are less familiar but whose stories are equally dramatic.

If you're in the mood for an epic drama with battles, murders, tortures, heroes, villains (they switch parts), and ancient curses, Dungeon Fire and Sword is for you. If you're looking for a wholesome, high-minded, and perhaps calming read, avoid all medieval history.

John J. Robinson no longer needs a dollar. I still have a copy of Dungeon Fire and Sword, in relatively good condition considering where it's been, for sale in the real world. To buy a certified clean copy online from this web site, send salolianigodagewi @ yahoo $5 per book + $5 per package (I don't want to promise that even two copies of this book would fit into one package). 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Link Log for June 27-28 (UPDATE)

What'm I even doing online here? I'm supposed to be polishing the document I wrote for payment on Friday. In between delays as the document is zapped around the world and back, however, I've been checking for yourall's most plus-worthy links. Categories: Animals, Charity, Christian, Confederate Flag Rants, Cute Things, Cybersecurity, Etiquette, Food, Health, Job Opening, Obamacare, Patriotic, Politics, Writing, and Young. [Edited to fix a Googlitch--things typed in italics were showing on the screen as blank space. Let's see whether changing to bold type will fix it, or whether Blogspot really wants people to start YELLING at one another.]


This Sloth Sanctuary update might be important to anyone planning a trip to Costa Rica:


Not the most flattering photos of the photogenic hound Valentino, these pictures do answer the question raised a few weeks ago--whether the dog could obtain an appropriate harness:


Mei Liang Hoe titled this photo collection "The Perks of Being a Wildlife Photographer":



+Coral Levang reports on a heroic little boy:



+Ed Decker shares this link to a thoughtful preliminary Bible study. I'd be interested in digging deeper into the original texts and the degree of difference, if it is a consistent difference, made between homosexual and heterosexual sin (not to mention non-sexual sin). I've always thought that sin is sin is sin, myself. Anyway I completely agree with Rick Phillips' conclusion: they're all washed away by the sacrifice of Jesus.


Here's a quick summary of the Christian position on homosexuality as such. We don't throw stones at people; when we want to worry about individuals' sins, we have plenty of our own. But we can't "call evil good and good evil."


Confederate Flags

Censorship just brings out the latent "rebel" in people. I saw a Confederate flag rippling in the breeze this afternoon. Haven't seen one in years; usually the flags displayed on Jackson Street in Gate City are U.S. and Virginia flags. But I could understand. I've not owned or displayed any Confederate-flag items for years, since in Washington I thought all they'd do would be to alienate students (mostly Northerners, mostly Black)...but this talk of censoring the Confederate flag is making me wish I had one to run up the pole myself.

Some people need to be reminded that, so far as is known, none of my Confederate ancestors was fighting to preserve slavery. One of them did own slaves; one didn't. One, who was too old to fight but served the Confederacy as a tailor, had been enslaved (in Europe), and supported the place where he'd recovered his freedom. (Slavery was global before 1800, and some Europeans were enslaved after 1800.) My Confederate ancestors were fighting to protect their homeland--in all probability, no more no less, although the one who was fifteen and lied about his age might have been looking for adventure. The political causes of the 1860s don't translate precisely into the terms of the 2010s. Rather than try to revive the antique Confederate flag, I'd like to see young people design and display an Anti-Censorship, Anti-Nannyism flag of their own.



Cute Things

Schools and day care places really need this cute piece of household décor.



How important is this tidbit? After all, people who are serious about cybersecurity don't do Facebook.



Dave Urbanski shares a table of boring things people say that may be heard as..."racial microaggression"? Per-lease. What about "Think twice before saying these things to anyone, regardless of race, because they're boring clichés"? Not hateful...just super-stale!

In Washington, D.C., everybody is "from" somewhere else, and I literally think of the "from" chunk as part of the identity of a new acquaintance; I feel better defined, among people who don't know my family, as "Pris from Virginia" (or the equivalent for my real-world name) than as "Priscilla King." But I was warned a long time ago that in places that are or might be someone's home town, "Where are you from?" sounds more like "You don't fit in here." And of course, having mentioned Virginia, I now have to share the classic tip: "Never ask people where they're from. If they're from Virginia they'll tell you which town. If they're not, why embarrass them?"



I'm not sure how people were referred to my site from hers, but after investigating Trudy Hanley's "Hub" (because Google reported it as a source of traffic here) I can recommend it as a source of pasta sauce recipes. Also baklava, for those who can eat baklava.



Recent political events are causing some e-friends and real-world friends to need this reminder from Tim LaHaye. (It's a book--from back at the beginning of his career, meaning that it's one of the excellent early books that made his reputation. Older conservative Christians already own copies, but if you don't, here's your chance to buy it for only the price we paid for it when it first came out.)

Anger Is a Choice

For non-Christians, or Christians who may find it interesting, Elizabeth Barrette shared the link to this meditation:


Mei Liang Hoe reminds people of something basic:


+Coral Levang reminds people of another basic...overwork is a health hazard! (That's why taking one day out of seven as a "day of rest" from all ordinary work is a commandment in the Bible.)

Well, yesterday I pasted in the link, but today it's not showing up. And it was a link to a post on Persona Paper. The title was "I Am Such a Slug," if you want to Google it; PP is too cluttered with ad graphics to run on the computer I'm using now.

Job Opening

I need someone with these skills too, but I think +Coral Levang can afford to pay the person...



At least Norb Leahy gets the basic point...one of them, anyway:



Here's to our country, right or wrong--when wrong to be put right. +Theresa Wiza had the idea when she wrote this vintage article, newly republished:



Patricia Evans shared some incisive comments, significant claims about the behavior of Virginia's U.S. Representatives, and an excellent cartoon. Below the claims, which are copied on my Freedom Connector page, is a link that should take readers (in any State) to the comments and cartoon. If it doesn't, let me know and I'll copy them from the e-mail.


Somewhat "crotchety" (in the Ozarque sense) discussion of the Constitution and proposals for Balanced Budget Amendments:



Here's an interesting writing group...some familiar to regular readers, some not.



Some bloggers are very, very young. I chortled at this snappy retort from a very young writer. Then I remembered events like the Prozac-demented (in his case I think it literally was Prozac) bus driver who deliberately smashed a few dozen passengers into a building in Israel in the 1990s; they were adults as I recall, but could've been kids. The kids chatting on this Tumblr thread do not even remember what were known as The Troubles in Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s. Banning guns does not cause outbreaks of knife-throwing, not in an era when motor vehicles are widely available and explosives are easy to make. (And the surprising thing about Washington's gun ban, in the 1990s, was that banning guns did not noticeably discourage shootings either.)


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Morgan Griffith on Telemedicine

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith:


Helping Patients – An Update

As you likely know, one of my priorities as your representative is advancing legislation that would help patients receive quality, affordable health care that meets that patient’s individual health care needs.  Among my efforts to help patients are the Patient Choice Act (H.R. 1376), the Compassionate Freedom of Choice Act (H.R. 790), etc.  More information on these proposals and others – including the Energy and Commerce Committee’s 21st Century Cures initiative – can be found on my website.

I am pleased to note I have recently introduced another bill which would help advance my goal of improving care for patients.  This bill, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act (H.R. 2799), expands access to stroke telemedicine (also called “telestroke”) treatment in Medicare by reducing the need for rehabilitation and nursing home stays.  This change is also estimated by the American Heart Association to save approximately $119 million in Medicare spending annually.

Currently, Medicare only covers telestroke in the most rural, underserved areas.  The FAST Act would change that, reimbursing for telestroke consultations under Medicare regardless of where the patient happens to be living.

Through telestroke, a patient having a stroke can gain access to specialists through the use of interactive videoconferencing, even if the hospital at which the patient is receiving treatment does not have a stroke neurologist available around the clock.  It can expand the diagnoses of ischemic strokes, thus allowing patients to more quickly be treated with Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA), a “magic, clot-busting drug” that helps dissolve blood clots and reverse disability if administered promptly.  Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke and receiving treatment promptly are crucial when attempting to minimize the harmful impact of a stroke.

I was joined in introducing this important bill by Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH, a stroke survivor), Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Congressman David Scott (D-GA), Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS), and Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA).  The FAST Act is also supported by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as well as the American Academy of Neurology.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans and contributes greatly to long-term disability and dementia among survivors.  Strokes take place when the brain’s blood supply is blocked (an ischemic stroke, which is the most common) or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures (a hemorrhagic stroke).  There also are “mini-strokes” (transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs), in which blood flow to the brain is blocked only briefly.

At a 2001 event in Richmond, my then-colleague Virginia Delegate Bob Bloxom suddenly began having a significant stroke.  Two doctor-delegates, John O’Bannon and George Broman, promptly rushed to his aid.  Dr. O’Bannon, a neurologist, phoned for an ambulance, and informed the paramedics of Bob’s condition.  Doctors were soon able to administer the tPA drug to Bob, after which he recovered rapidly.

To everyone’s astonishment Bob returned several days later to the Virginia House of Delegates, making remarks on the floor with no discernable impact to his speech or motor functions.


All things considered, Bob was fairly fortunate.  Those who don’t have a hospital and/or stroke specialist within a few miles are currently less fortunate, as tPA is most effective if administered within the first three to four and a half hours after a stroke.  tPA and telestroke ought to be more readily available to help improve patients’ chances of recovering from a stroke.  The FAST Act will help.

Frankly, I'd be scared of "telemedicine" myself, but if it helps other people...

Official Reply to Senator Warner's Newsletter

In the post just below this one, Senator Mark Warner invited Virginia voters to share our comments on the prospective federal oversight of online work-from-home. Here's mine:


My thoughts are, "Let's keep it simple and flexible." No need to clutter up the Internet with efforts to track anybody's work hours, and by all means let's preserve the anonymity that protects people who might be considered less desirable in some way, during a conventional job interview, from discrimination. (Quotas mandating that X number of women be hired don't do anything for the ones who have the wrong look, quotas mandating that X number of Blacks be hired don't help the actual ghetto youth who needed the help, etc., but on the Internet the quality of work done is the only proof that an employee is not in literal fact a dog.)

Protection for people who work from home online might begin with protecting their right to payment for work done under the terms of their contract. Not regulating how much or how little people may agree to receive per job, of course, but ensuring that people who have agreed to sell a certain job for a certain price will receive that price. Bubblews.com is a widely known offender; the company just decided last winter not to pay out thousands of dollars the company had already claimed it was sending to various writers and photographers, worldwide. (But I suspect they targeted residents of states like Virginia that don't have small-claims court.)


Priscilla King "

An afterthought: Why did I pick discrimination as a primary reason for preserving online anonymity? Because race consciousness is in the air? Because I was writing to a Democrat? Because I was writing to a relatively rich person who has no way to imagine how precarious the financial security of people poor enough to write for the Internet can be? All or any or none of the above--I don't know.

Mark Warner on Working from Home

From U.S. Senator Mark Warner:

I wanted to let you know about a significant issue I’ve started to focus on: the big shifts occurring in the workplace and among the workforce as more and more people work “on-demand” in what’s called the "sharing economy".

Whether by economic necessity or by choice, as many as one-third of American workers now piece together several on-demand opportunities to make a living. And with continuous advances in technology, that number continues to grow, especially as the Millennial generation enters the workforce.

Today, online platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit and Etsy can provide easy-to-use digital platforms to match supply and demand for goods and services. These innovations are changing the traditional employee-employer dynamic.

The sharing or on-demand economy, where people are contract or freelance workers, provides exciting opportunities in terms of freedom and flexibility in hours and work-life balance. But many of these on-demand jobs do not provide traditional safety net protections for workers: unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation for injuries, or pension and retirement planning.

Yet Washington has mostly remained on the sidelines as the U.S. economy, its workforce and the work place, have undergone perhaps the most dramatic transformation in decades. As policymakers, we have a role to play with this tremendous shift.

Earlier this month, I delivered a speech about the potential impacts of generational and technological changes on the American economy. My recent op-ed in the Washington Post explored some ways that policymakers might begin to address these challenges.

Finally, as I work to find solutions to make this sharing or on-demand economy work better for more people, I’d like to hear from you. If you are working in this on-demand economy, tell us your story: Is it working for you? Could it work better? What are the advantages of this type of work? Do you see any downsides?

Please email your thoughts to: projects@warner.senate.gov.

Thank you,

Mark R. Warner "

Robert Hurt on Mitigating Obamacare

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt:

Since its implementation, the President’s healthcare law has time and again harmed, rather than helped, the overwhelming majority of Americans. The policies put forth in Washington have real, painful effects on Fifth District Virginians, and I am committed to repealing this law and replacing it with market-based solutions to lower costs and improve access to quality healthcare for all Americans.
The President’s healthcare law contains a wide variety of harmful provisions, including more than a dozen tax increases. Last Thursday, the House passed the Protect Medical Innovation Act to repeal one such tax increase within the President’s healthcare law – the medical device tax. The tax was imposed on medical devices that range from dentures to pacemakers to MRI machines. These devices not only save lives and improve patients’ health, but the makers of these items employ hundreds of thousands of Americans. Imposing an additional tax hinders those jobs, innovation, and patient care. I was proud to cosponsor this legislation and see it pass the House with wide bipartisan support. It is my hope that the Senate joins us in passing this legislation to send it to the President’s desk.
This week, I will join my colleagues in the House to mitigate yet another harmful portion of the President’s healthcare law. The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is a panel of fifteen unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats that will be given a staggering amount of control over the care Medicare patients receive. The law grants these individuals substantial authority to slash Medicare payments to providers or eliminate payments for certain treatments and procedures altogether. Congress should instead be making such significant decisions about the services Medicare patients receive - not a panel of unelected appointees that cannot be held accountable by the American public. The IPAB is just another example in the healthcare law that reinforces the fundamental difference between this Administration’s view that Washington knows best and my view that the American people that know best.
These two bills are small steps in the right direction toward protecting the people from the negative impacts of this fundamentally flawed law. But much more must be done to reverse all the harm this law has created by massively expanding the size, scope, and reach of the federal government into such personal matters. We have to implement real healthcare reform that actually reduces the cost of care, premiums, and deductibles and does not separate patients from their doctors. I remain committed to reforms that are patient-centered and market-oriented to deliver the healthcare system the American people deserve.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, 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 gave students from Southside Electric Cooperative’s Youth Tour a tour of the Capitol during their visit to Washington.
Robert met with Mecklenburg County Tourism Coordinator, Justin Kerns of Boydton.
Robert Hurt "

This web site remains convinced that meaningful improvements to Obamacare begin with phasing out the insurance industry's involvement in the medical field.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Confessing the ABCs

It's a meme! I was starting to think that species had gone extinct. Here, because her Q post cheered me up at an earlier, wearier time this afternoon, and because her blog is relatively simple, are my answers to the meme +Sandy KS shared at http://challengeyourwriting.blogspot.com/2015/06/i-will-confess-my-abcs.html. I want to do this one in combination with Grandma Bonnie Peters in order to help readers tell us apart:

A: Age
PK: 51
GBP: 80

B: Biggest Fear:
PK: The Apocalypse
GBP: (Didn't admit any. Changed the subject to my hair. I say it might well be...) Giving somebody a bad haircut.

C: Current time: 6:45 p.m.

D: Drink you last had
PK: Mountain Dew
GBP: Water

E: Easiest person to talk to
PK: My husband, while living
GBP: Have no trouble talking to anybody. A motor mouth.

F: Favorite song
PK: Too many to pick just one. To sing in church, "Ein' Feste Burg." To sing at a folk song gathering, "Wildwood Flower." To sing at a gospel gathering, "The Blood." To sing at a shape-note singing event, "Soar Away." Or maybe I'd really rather listen to other people's favorites anyway.
GBP: "He Lives" (gospel song)

G: Grossest memory
PK: Norovirus. (For the record, Sandy, I don't think a healthy animal birth process is gross at all. That's OK though. I'd rather not know what was gross about the one you mentioned. There are enough gross-outs in the political news!)
GBP: (She didn't want to pick one. I mentioned a skin infection about ten years ago that has left scars. She said, "That's not the grossest one." We agreed that it was the grossest one we'd discuss here.)

H: home town
PK: Gate City, Virginia
GBP: Monument, Indiana (town no longer on the map; flooded by the TVA). Some would say Fort Wayne.

I: In love with
PK: The famous Significant Other, Mr. Privacy
GBP: "We're all supposed to be in love with Jesus. What's that scripture? Leave everything and follow Me." (She actually walked over to the bookshelf, got a Bible, and looked up Luke 18:29.)

J: Jealous of
PK: Mr. Privacy of course.
GBP: (denies being either jealous or envious of anybody)

K: Killed someone?
PK: No one human. Lots of nuisance insects. A copperhead (venomous snake), once. Dying animals.
GBP: Hit a dog once...it ran out between parked cars. (She's not counting small, cold-blooded animals. I've seen her kill those.)

L: Longest relationship
PK: Married almost ten years
GBP: Married 37 years

M: Middle name
PK: No middle name
GBP: [middle name withheld by site policy]

N: Number of siblings
PK: Two living sisters, same age, different colors
GBP: One sister (would be 93 if living)

O: One wish
PK: How does it go? To see my great-grandchildren eating off golden plates?
GBP: In the Resurrection, to see Jesus

P: Person you last called
PK: A car pool
GBP: A neighbor

Q: Question you are always asked
PK: "Are you married? Going steady?" Apparently I don't look like the celibate type, but I am.
GBP: "Do you really walk to the post office?"

R: Reason to smile
PK: Thought of something cute/clever/funny to blog about
GBP: (Other than that, yes, she does walk to the post office, I said.) In good health and looking forward to the coming of the Lord!

S: Song you last sang
PK: Hard to remember. I seldom sing when the weather is humid and my sinuses clog; usually in dry weather. It's been a humid week!
GBP: "Our God Is an Awesome God" (GBP sings in the choir at the Seventh-Day Adventist church and also, by invitation, at the Presbyterian church.)

T: Time you woke up
PK: 5:50 a.m.
GBP: 6 a.m.

U: Ultimate friend
PK: My modem-free computer at home
GBP: Jesus

V: Vacation destination
PK: Home. I've outgrown the urge to travel.
GBP: Well, (relative) thinks a vacation destination ought to be Branson! (Missouri.)

W: Worst habit
PK: Staying up late when I want to get up early
GBP: Oh I've forgotten! (Chortles. I nominate preaching.)

X: X-ray
PK: Molars
GBP: Broken wrist

Y: Yummy food
PK: Sun-ripened strawberry washed under the garden hose
GBP: Stir-fried veg

Z: Zodiac sign
PK: Whatever. (Priscilla King was born into cyberspace in June 2005, "about 40," and was surprised, some years later, to find that according to the identity data set up for her on Yahoo she'd been born in January 1964. This is currently complicating one of my e-jobs as a hostess at a "seniors" web site; Priscilla King is a very junior "senior," at 51, thus eligible for the job in cyberspace, and I certainly needed the money, but the real-world body PK inhabits is still a few weeks under age 50, thus ineligible to do the job at a physical site where it might be helpful to real seniors.)
GBP: I remember it was "on the cusp."

At this point, for some reason GBP felt motivated to show me her favorite photo (snapshot of a young man who's now in high school, as an infant) and favorite greeting card (it says "You're the best Grandma on Earth," and was printed by the best Grandson called Joshua Namewithheld on Earth, too). I don't know that anybody had asked, but if youall are getting to know her, you probably should know that her grandchildren are her favorite people.

Link Log for June 26

Can it be? Do I actually have enough online time left to check Google +? Nooo! I'm using an ACADEMIC computer, at the college nearest the home of the Sickly Snail. (Yes, the computer feels to me as if it's screaming the word "academic" in my face.) It works fine for Google searches and writing site software, but blocks e-mail and, apparently, blocks social sites. I haaate this. I've been doing strictly academic, strictly medical research writing for five hours and could so use a few stupid jokes and pet pictures right now.

Well, let's see what this computer can open...Celebrity Gossip, Cyberspace, Family Stuff, Fun Stuff, Music Video, Music Memoir, News of the Weird, Prayer Request, Racism (with rant), Thank a Soldier.

(It opened Google + when I clicked on a link for +Sandy KS . I'd opened five links, commented, and plussed when Grandma Bonnie Peters came in and said, "I'm going home." Her home is the home of the Sickly Snail. We were in Gray, Tennessee. I'd just written an informative pamphlet for the hack writing site, while she'd been cheering up a "poor old lady who's been very ill" who's a little over half her own age. At 2:30 p.m. it was 94 degrees in the shade. GBP, age 80, had been on the road in the sun. I was glowing in the air-conditioned college library. GBP's basement stays close to earth temperature all year. The links here that aren't live are the ones from the Blogspot feed that I wanted to check out but haven't been able to.)

Celebrity Gossip

Taylor Swift fans may want to check out the discussion of TS's not entirely random acts of kindness at themillionhair.tumblr.com. Rose McGowan fans should look for the discussion of why RMcG “got fired,” a few posts further back.


How do you keep e-mail from taking over your whole work day?


Family Stuff 

Comment on the Google + page:


Fun Stuff 

I wanted fun stuff, and +Sandy KS provided some on the first screen of Blogspot feed. Nice going. (Fair warning: her explication of the word "queasy" may cause sensitive readers to feel it, themselves.)


Music Video

I can't tell from the blurb on the Blogspot Feed Page whether Madeleine Morgenstern recorded this herself, but she's been the first to share it. Regular readers may remember seeing/hearing our President sing “Sweet Home Chicago,” so, not only do youall know that it's unusual to see a President singing “Amazing Grace” with a church group after a Major Tragedy; you know that, though very much an amateur, President Obama can sing. Worth checking out if you can open theblaze.com.

Music Memoir

Retired U.S. Navy musician Coral Levang's musical memory stories tend to be worth reading. A recent one is at corallevang.wordpress.com under “M Is For Music.”

News of the Weird

Florida city council...apparently feels the heat. Well, it's not that we've been seeing any new records for how hot summer days can get, only for how hot they get in the month of June. The past week has felt like July. But you'd think people in Florida would be used to their weather by now...


Prayer Requests

Regular readers remember that thesmittenedlife.blogspot.com is an irregular blog that started out with a little girl having leukemia, and has gone on, sporadically, from there. It contains just a few too many nice clear color photos (and videos!) for the Sickly Snail to bear, and may contain just a few too many emotional moments for some readers. Those who can stand it may, however, want to read “Praying for Bailey” and join them in prayer.

Racism (rant alert!)

F.t.s. (which all the Real Aunts out there know means “forget the stupidity,” just as "p.m.s." means "putting up with men's stupidity"--what were you thinking?) about the Confederate flag and its “meaning.”

The actual, literal, objective meaning of any flag is: a lot of colorful fabric stuck up on a pole. The emotional, subjective meaning of any flag is: whatever was going through the head of the person who ran it up the pole at the time.

Personally, if I had a flag I'd actually inherited from a Confederate (or foreign) ancestor I probably would fly it on selected special occasions, and what it would mean would be “Look at me, my ancestors preserved this old flag for all these hundreds of years, aren't we special?” But none of them maintained a museum, and they all died too long ago for that. The only flag I've inherited from an ancestor is the U.S. flag under which my grandfather fought in 1918, which also happens to be the one I consider to be the flag of my country.

Now and then I see people flying other flags. State flags. Obsolete flags like the Confederate flag or the Gadsden “Don't tread on me” flag. Foreign flags, including the flags of countries the United States has found it necessary to beat in wars. Cutesy little arts-and-crafts flags celebrating birds and flowers. Kingsport, Tennessee, and Takoma Park, Maryland, and some other towns where I've spent time, have their own flags. Used car dealerships hang out strings of pennants, and if people own forty different flags, want to fly all of them, and don't mind looking like a used car dealership, that is no threads off the end of my flag. Maybe some day if I have lots of time to kill I'll ask them to explain where they got their strings of flags, and why.

Some people who display Confederate flags, like nobody I've ever met, may be advertising that they are haters. Some, like the Duke teenagers in the old “Dukes of Hazzard” show, may be advertising that they are “rebels” during an historical period when that's what teenagers were expected to be. Some may be advertising that they had Confederate ancestors. Some may just think the Confederate flag is a nice symmetrical design, and some have been known to mix it up with the Union Jack for that matter. You're saying you have time to care about this?

I do not anticipate ever having time to care about the surplus flags people fly, though I will say that I personally know a lot of people whose displays include Confederate flags, and none of them is a racist. I don't have a great deal of respect for people who indulge in that sort of cheap stereotypes.

I do care about real racism, though. I'm against it. Like a majority of White people, of all different degrees of sensitivity and sophistication, I'm disgusted by the sheer stupidity of White racism. Also scared by the ill will other kinds of racism direct toward me.

Real racism is what I suspect Norb Leahy is trying to document at his “Conservative Blog,” ntlconsulting.blogspot.com, with a post titled “HUD Decision Is the Last Straw.” We've been following this issue, regular readers will remember. There are idiot, bean-counting, “let's play 'Mother May I' so youall have to ask me before you do anything” types at our Department of Housing & Urban Development who've decided that, in order to preserve their jobs, what these United States need are race-based quotas for housing projects. Which will ensure that riots will continue to happen.

I'm wary of declarations that anything is “The Last Straw,” but in the week after a Major Tragedy with racial overtones, I will say that efforts to perpetuate riots through race-based quotas, in this century, are about as tacky as it's possible to get.

Thank a Soldier 

This web site officially salutes a foreign-born soldier who's fundraising on behalf of a disabled student: