Monday, August 31, 2015

Morgan Griffith on EPA Rules

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

"WOTUS Rule – An Update

A federal judge in North Dakota acted on August 27 to block the Obama Administration’s controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which was challenged as a threat to state sovereignty by 13 states (Virginia is not among the challengers). Though this is encouraging, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began on August 28 to enforce its plan in all but those 13 states involved in the pending suit.

In May, the House of Representatives with my support and the support of 24 Democrats passed the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (H.R. 1732). This bill would require the EPA to withdraw the WOTUS rule. A different bipartisan bill that would also restrict the WOTUS rule passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in June. I am hopeful it will be considered and passed by the full Senate, so the WOTUS rule can be stopped in all states.

A Very Significant EPA “Miscalculation”

Last week, as summarized in a Wall Street Journal report, “The Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday it had underestimated the amount of water built up in an abandoned Colorado mine, a miscalculation that led to a massive release of toxic sludge into the Animas River earlier this month.” The report also indicates that “…the misjudgment was the most significant cause of the spill.”

Further, an EPA official “…noted that provisions for a ‘worst-case scenario’ weren’t incorporated into the agency’s plan to deal with the mine, which had long been the subject of state and federal cleanup efforts.”


EPA’s inspector general as well as the Interior Department have launched investigations as to what transpired here, and I expect there will be congressional hearings on this matter as well.

I can’t help but think that had a private company made a similar “miscalculation,” it would face substantial fines and penalties.

I believe EPA ought to fine itself just as severely as it would a private business, and return a portion of their budget to the Treasury to help offset the costs of the cleanup. EPA actions must be scrutinized and the agency must be held accountable."

Morgan Griffith on Grieving

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (D-VA-9):


Like you, I am heartbroken by the tragic incident in Franklin County on August 26 during which WDBJ7 journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed and Vicki Gardner, head of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was injured. Both Alison and Adam grew up in our area, with Alison graduating from high school in Martinsville and Adam from high school in Salem. They will continue to be in my prayers, as will their families and loved ones, the WDBJ family, and our community. I will also continue praying for Ms. Gardner’s recovery.

I have no doubt that many of you join me in asking God for comfort and healing. As our area continues to grieve and cope, may we remain grateful for the important work undertaken by journalists like Alison and Adam and others in the public eye who may find themselves at risk. May we also be ever thankful of law enforcement and first responders serving our communities and working to keep us safe from harm."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Link Log for August 27

Categories: Announcement, Art, Christian, Economy, Human Rights, Kid Stuff, Music, Obamacare, Pictures.


"Where are the book reviews?" someone might ask. Answer:

For as long as Blogjob continues paying for two blog posts a day, the book review and one other full-length post will be appearing there. It's an interesting system, an improvement over some other general blog-and-social sites some correspondents and I have been using. You get paid for anything within some reasonable limits, but only so much of it per day; it takes several days of steady work to earn money. Also, the system seems to enforce a strict standard of peer reviewing: you don't have to please any specific editor or sponsor or community, you can write for your own readers, but if you don't write things some people rate higher than they rate other professional bloggers' blogs, you will not have readers. So this blog site is definitely not for some Bubblews "bloggers"--they know who they are. If you are a committed, professional-quality blogger with regular readers, feel free to click here and join our new blog community:


Beth Ann Chiles shares an art walk in Iowa.


I actually opened this link right after closing one that's under "Human Rights" below; my comment, if you scroll down to it, reflects what was on my mind.


Stephen Moore of the Washington Times rants about why he can't get a loan on a more overpriced house in Potomac, Maryland. I wouldn't live in Potomac if someone gave me the house, and think anyone who buys a house there deserves it, but to each his own. Anyway, although I'm sharing the link, I wholeheartedly recommend that you track down this story on paper, Gentle Readers. The Washington Times web site is as brutal on browsers as NYTimes used to be. It's a sad day when Washingtonians can't do things more nicely than New Yorkers. Do not click on this link. Use it for reference only.!

Personal trainers are going through the same attack from protectionist competitors these days that massage therapists went through ten years ago. I sympathize. What Logan Albright might have overlooked is that the good ones aren't the ones who need the protectionist regulations. The ones who have been in the field for a while, have never been sued, and work mostly with regular clients are the ones who are delighted to train and recommend other trainers, or masseuses, or whatever other independent professionals are involved in this kind of thing. Then there are the ones who worry about competition.

Human Rights 

Our Syrian refugees are the tip of an iceberg, Gentle Readers.

Etc. Etc. Etc. I picked the JKR link because everybody's interested in her, not because there's any lack of Huffington Post or Reuters stories like the ickier link above. Not that I'm asking anybody to subject their computer to the Huffington Post, although I did manage to open it and find that it's not as hard on browsers as it used to be. But let's say this to the people who are concerned about hordes of destitute immigrants etc. etc. The position of this web site is that the way to avoid having a bloated government bungle a job is to do the job. (Ross Perot was a spoiler candidate but he was right about that.) Or, people who are feeding and/or lodging refugees are in the best position to make sure that "their" refugees go home as soon as Real Muslims um...dealt with the blasphemous thugs of ISIS as prescribed by the Koran. I'm not earning enough from hack writing to feed another human; I can offer a family floor-mat space--no treat in winter, but better than a truck trailer. As far as I'm concerned, Syrians sound easier to put up with than Africans, in a general way, but the questions are whether they're certified disease-free and speak English--who cares what they look like. What about you?

Kid Stuff 

"Construction toys for girls"? Looks a lot like the paper dolls I used to play with, only painted on wood. I'd be interested in knowing how the little girls youall know react to this.


Kimberly Brown explains exactly why she likes a song you might or might want to hear:


How Obamacare is really working--not.


One of the historic lighthouses of North Carolina:

Link Log for August 26

Categories: Animals, Books, Education, Politically Incorrect Question, Politics.


+Sandy KS celebrates National Dog Day:

Peter Streep has chickens in Spain:


Although I have no immediate plans to sell my own set of Narnia books, you can order them through salolianigodagewi @ yahoo at the usual rate. (Not as Fair Trade Books, of course.) Here's a review of volume six in order of publication, volume one in the story sequence:


Some computers I use just flat-out refuse to open the web site linked below. This one opened it with many delays that showed why: too many annoying, information-ganking ads pop up. So read it at your own risk. As an alternative, you might look for an old copy of Child Abuse in the Classroom and discuss with middle school students why they shouldn't answer personal questions at school.

Now, what about those sticky-crumby cookies that try to gank information about what kind of computer you own and whether you shop online and, if so, what you buy? How very ironic to see a warning about invasive surveys coming from a site that behaves as if it's cookie-infested...

Politically Incorrect Question 

If the full-time professional knicker-twisters want to blame the Confederate flag for the Charleston church shooting, what symbol of homosexual "pride" should they blame for today's murders? (Me? I blame the drugs people who do these things almost always turn out to have been taking...and, because most of the drugs in this category are legal, the commercial media don't want to mention them.)


Some of our correspondents seem to have either short memories, or strong residual loyalties to the Democratic Party. This article was forwarded with comments suggesting that a "plot" to prevent a spoiler campaign, like Ross Perot's in 1992, was a plot against a candidate, personally. Although I'm not one of them, I've heard that there are enough people who hate Bogus-As-His-Hair that that might even be possible. Some women persist in saying that men who lie to women will also lie to men; some of those women are Republicans. But I'll accept the idea that the "plot" is intended to prevent spoiler candidates from using sympathy within a party, not necessarily BAHH more than Rand Paul (who actually has a third party to fall back on), to sabotage that party later in an election, not necessarily this one. And the rule, if adopted, could also work for Democrats who have enough sense not to back Sanders.

Republican primary election rules report link

There are things this web site likes about Bernie Sanders. One of them is that he admits he's a Socialist rather than a Democrat. Not that this web site thinks a Socialist can represent much of any electoral district in these United States...but we appreciate Sanders' honesty.

Patrick Hope on Background Checks

Pheeewww. How to handle this one? Another probably-Prozac-demented fool committed another murder earlier today. You knew the left-wingers would have to exploit this, digging up their tired old mantra of "more gun control, more gun control."

Regular readers also knew that I don't believe "more gun control" equals less crime. "More gun control" was an emotional reaction I shared in middle school, then outgrew after seeing the facts in Washington. Washington, D.C., had gun control in the 1990s, so we had murders with illegal guns. Ireland had gun control in the 1970s and 1980s, so they had murders with bombs. I think we're safest when everybody knows that anybody is likely to have a gun, and that gun control means hitting the target.

Not all of our regular readers agree with me about, so far as I know, anything. They have, however, noticed that this web site nearly always publishes correspondence from elected officials, whether we agree with their opinions (or support their political careers) or not, because what elected officials publicly say about news and issues is part of the public record.

So I'm online later than usual tonight, spending the night in Kingsport again, and in comes an e-mail from Delegate Patrick Hope, of Arlington, chanting the mantra, "more gun control, more gun control."

I considered just hitting "delete." He's not my Delegate. But regular readers may remember that this web site likes some things most of our Delegates (and State Senators) have done. We've liked some of Delegate Hope's ideas. This is not really even an idea, this document that went out under his name. This is a hasty emotional reaction to (a) having witnessed a horrific murder live on television, an experience that should never happen to anybody, and (b) being a Democrat, a condition that I believe has redeeming value but also has to be awfully confusing at this point in history.

We must be kind. One of the nicest things anybody has ever said about this web site was the result of a Google search I did for a hack writing job this morning. Although the computer shows that most first-time visitors to this site are looking for posts about seldom-discussed plants and animals, Google is doing its bit; this web site should come up if you search for "kindness."

Believe it or not, Delegate Hope, limiting the number of innocent bystanders a Prozac-demented maniac can kill (by allowing him to use a gun rather than a bomb) is an act of kindness.

I want to be kind about this e-mail document. This web site doesn't need to display the words themselves. They're online at Here is the link. It probably won't work forever. That's another bit of kindness, because this document contains at least one glaring typographical error.

No matter how many immigrants have been packed into Arlington in recent years, there's no way "92%" of Virginians support any gun control measure. I'm dyslexic too, Delegate Hope, so I understand...depending on how the poll was worded, it's possible that a poll yielded something like 29%. Though even then I'd bet they weren't natural-born Virginians, who are close to our nation's capital and regret the murders committed there too.

Somebody out there might want to start a petition to the Governor of Virginia to require that anybody who starts chanting "more gun control, more gun control" receive a study of the history of gun control in Washington, D.C., and the right to remain silent (or at least be ignored) until s/he has absorbed the facts therein. I'd sign that one.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Phenology: Social Climbing, Weather, Flowers, Wildlife

I wouldn't exactly call GBP's Kingsport neighborhood "Snob Hill," but "Sevier Terrace" is in fact the side of a hill; in "Upper Sevier Terrace" (above Stone Drive) the houses are much bigger than the ones on the road called Sevier Terrace down below, and the further uphill you go, the posher the houses get. (This house is two out of a possible six blocks above Stone Drive.)

We were walking around the neighborhood this morning. My injured foot is almost ready to resume walking long distances; now I have to recondition my pampered flabby legs...sigh. We had talked, earlier this month, about "Obamazoning" and the Whiteness of the neighborhood, so GBP made a point of pointing out two houses, both posher than hers, owned by non-Caucasian families.

It was a cool morning, about 60 degrees Fahrenheit at sunrise. I was up before sunrise. The stream and woods around the Cat Sanctuary generate fog, most mornings in summer. This was typical. The moon and stars were bright enough to be seen in spite of the city lights in Kingsport, but hidden by fog and mist around Gate City.

After I'd mentioned here that the naked ladies had settled down for the season, one more of those quirky flowers popped up. "She" was shorter than her sisters and had only four individual blooms rather than five or six. The others have gone to seed.

One myrtle bush, and two dandelions, were still in full bloom. Black-eyed Susan is past its peak but still blooming well. In Kingsport I saw some roses, some "Rose of Sharon" hibiscus, and more than one full-sized Florida-type hibiscus blossom left, and one clump of cultivated lilies. Back at home, clover, Queen Anne's Lace, dayflowers.

And on the way to work this morning I encountered wildlife. First, when I reached for my trusty shillelagh out on the porch (how would I walk down a steep unpaved road in the dark without it?), I felt thick, coarse fur covering something softer than a spider. That would be one of the Arctiid caterpillars, most of whose English names include the word "bear." I missed the moths this summer and was glad to find a caterpillar--of course it would have been more fun to see one on the grass, rather than barely miss killing one on the porch.

Further down the road, I met a stray tomcat, raising faint hopes that my favorite spring kitten may have eloped rather than being stolen, and then, deer. The deer are hardly even unusual along this road at this time of year. They make themselves very scarce in hunting season, but in summer they really become pests.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Equal Time: Seth Moulton on the Iran Deal

When I saw this e-mail header, Gentle Readers, my first thought was "Seth Moulton? Where have I seen that name before? Who is he and where is he from?" Apparently Congressman Moulton (D-MA) has been sending out e-mails, on behalf of the White House and his party, in support of the Iran deal Congressman Griffith and many of you oppose. Many of you got this e-mail too. For those who didn't, here's what it said:

I was in the first company of Marines to enter Baghdad in 2003.
As a combat veteran, I know the cost of war. It is something I still carry with me today in the U.S. House of Representatives, where I have the privilege of representing the people of northeast Massachusetts. And I am reminded of it every time the questions of war and peace come before Congress.
In September, we will face that question once more when members of Congress consider whether or not to support the Iran nuclear agreement.
During the Iraq war, I saw the weapons and influence of the Iranian regime, and I deeply understand the threat Iran poses to America and our allies like Israel. That is why it is so crucial that the international community works together to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
After careful deliberation, I believe the Iran nuclear deal does just that. You can investigate the deal yourself here.
Let me be clear: I do not, and we should not, trust Iran to comply with this agreement. But this deal is not based on trust. It's based on enforceable verification measures that are comprehensive enough to be effective. Inspections will also give us greater intelligence on Iran than we have today.
I respect that some, including a few veterans, may disagree and feel that there is the possibility of a "better deal" out there. To them I say, what's the alternative?
You may hear of two: increasing our sanctions regime or pursuing a military option. Here's why those are just not acceptable:
Increasing sanctions -- let alone maintaining them -- would only work if the international coalition behind the sanctions holds together. But our allies have been clear: They agreed to sanctions to force Iran to the negotiating table to secure a deal like the one we now have. If we walk away from that deal, we walk away alone.
The other option, taking military action against Iran, would once again imperil the lives of Americans to achieve much less than this deal achieves by diplomatic means. Military action would only set Iran's nuclear program back a few years at most, reaffirm their pursuit of a nuclear weapon, and drive the program underground.
Both these options leave us worse off than we are under the terms of the Iran deal. The fact is there is no "better deal" that will prevent Iran from building a bomb.
No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated among adversaries. But, in our ongoing confrontation with a great threat to world peace, we have found the best available option by peaceful means rather than pursuing a worse option through war. It is for these reasons that I support the Iran deal.
And if you read it for yourself, I feel you will too.
Thank you,
Seth Moulton
Member of Congress"

What Churchill and Attlee Had in Common: Morgan Griffith's Thought for Teachers

From U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):


Individuals Make a Difference

As I have been driving throughout the Ninth District, I have been listening to a fascinating series of historical lectures. Many folks seem to think individual people do not make a significant difference in history. I don’t think that’s so.

Consider, for example, Elizabeth Everest, who served as Winston Churchill’s nanny or “governess.” The two were very close – Churchill later wrote of her, “My nurse was my confidante. Mrs. Everest it was who looked after me and tended all my wants. It was to her I poured out all my many troubles.”

That alone would make Everest worthy of note.

But as we know, Churchill’s career had many ups and downs, such as when he was defeated by the Labour Party and replaced by Clement Attlee nearing the end of World War II.

What does this have to do with Elizabeth Everest?

Well, Attlee was younger than Churchill. After Everest’s time with the Churchill family, she served as nanny to another British family – the Attlees.

One woman cared for two young men who happened to be future British Prime Ministers. The odds of that occurring are astoundingly small. There must have been something remarkable about Elizabeth Everest.

None of us grew up in Victorian England and, like you, I did not have a nanny. But our teachers often fill some of that role. As our children are starting school, we have to believe many of our children’s teachers will leave indelible, positive impacts on their students. Let us hope that some of them are like Elizabeth Everest – though their work may not be seen for decades, their students may go on to shape the modern world.


Morgan Griffith on Iran Deal

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

"Iran Agreement – A Suspect Side Deal

In a previous column, I noted my opposition to the proposed Iran deal, as well as the opposition of Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and several other notable Democrats. At that time, I identified several of my concerns: Why did the Administration negotiate this deal without having included the handful of American prisoners being held in Iran? How is this not a treaty? What are the secret side deals?

The Associated Press last week reported that “Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency [the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA] that normally carries out such work…” The site referred to in that quote is the Parchin nuclear site, described by NBC News as Iran’s “most sensitive known military complex.”

Also noted in the Associated Press report: “The Parchin agreement was worked out between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers were not party to it but were briefed by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package.” CNN reported that the specifics of the Parchin inspections “were not included in the nuclear agreement.”

This ‘side deal’ – allowing Iran to inspect itself – is unusual at best, and foolish at worst. When I apply for a life insurance policy, the insurance company verifies the health information, including taking their own samples. The United States should not assume Iran will tell us the truth."

Friday, August 21, 2015

Link Log for August 21

Happy Twitterday! Categories: Animals, Books, Business Opportunity, Censorship, Gross-Out, Health, History, Mental Health, Picture, Politics, Race/Stupidity.


Jonah Goldberg makes the moral case for pets in a chapter from his new book, The Dadly Virtues. (Yes, that's "dadly" not "deadly." The book explains further.)


These two aren't Fair Trade Books--yet. Too new.

(Just reading the review made Grandma Bonnie Peters and me giggle, yesterday. It's funny because it cites the book.)

Business Opportunity

Earlier this summer, Grandma Bonnie Peters was delivering telephone directories by day, sitting with a patient by night. The phonebooks have all been delivered, the patient has found a university student to share her flat at night, and GBP has been job-hunting. A friend who is a visiting home health aide tells us, "My agency has patients downtown! You could go from house to house on the bus..." I'm not the one who's job-hunting. "But you could earn as much per hour as you make from some entire days hack writing." Those cute but crowded little vans that wind their way through all those residential neighborhoods are not designed for an efficient visiting nurse. And although I've always felt that driving in Kingsport is swimming with sharks, GBP says it's even worse now because Kingsport drivers--a grumpy lot at best--are crowded and frustrated by the new bike lanes. We walk downtown for breaks, and every day she says, "Notice all the bikers not using these bike lanes? I'm counting...I've seen nine bicycles...all...summer...long."

Then I read this post by a foreign tourist in New York City, and I saw an opportunity for some creative investor to revive Kingsport's economy. No way would the local market support rent-a-bikes for $7/hour or $19/day. But I'd bet it would support rent-a-bikes for $1/hour or $5/day. Not a full-sized business, but a side line an existing business could operate. And yes, I would seriously consider renting a bike in order to be a visiting health aide--depending on the need. Not an option I'd recommend for GBP, but definitely one for people of normal working age.


Right. If Denver wants to force the whole city to boycott a big-chain restaurant because they disagree with the CEO on a private political issue, then Real Americans do have to boycott Denver...I don't like this kind of thing at all, you may have guessed. I don't even eat at Chick-Fil-A. But one must support their right to freedom of speech.


This web site cannot ignore Jimmy Carter's last wish. But this web site is sure it's the most stomach-turning story a regular, family-type newspaper has printed today. (This web site is also pretty sure that anyone who's read Carter's books will remember everything the Post report adds to the headline in this link. Only the Post adds color photos.)

Health News 

Here in the U.S. doctors have been warning people for about twenty years now that taking antibiotics when we're not seriously ill is breeding MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the hard-to-kill strain of staph that can harm normal healthy people and kill fragile people. The normal cure for staph is and should be to cover your face if and when a "summer cold" makes you sneeze, wash your hands, and keep a good healthy distance from people who don't live in your home. I've been thinking that everybody's heard that. Arthur Chappell's friends evidently have not. So now I'm wondering: (1) Is the word getting out in the U.K.? (2) Is it even getting out to people who don't work in health care fields in the U.S.? (3) How many of us already know someone who doesn't have an immune deficiency disease, isn't on immune-suppressant meds, is only middle-aged, but is showing serious immune deficiencies (e.g. multiple bouts with pneumonia) due to overuse of antibiotics?

(About Blogjob links: I see the site is automatically providing referrals when I link to other people's Blogjob blogs. This is nice; it may boost my Blogjob earnings a little bit. If you want to paste the link into your browser and delete the "?ref=priscillaking" part, however, feel free. You'll see the same ads, and need to purge the same cookies if your browser does not do that automatically, either way.)


How racist, exactly, was Margaret Sanger? Probably less than many of the people to whom she marketed the then-controversial idea of women's having a right to choose--traditional Catholics still don't want us to mention this one--safe sex. Here's a mostly left-wing site with an African-American pro-choice writer discussing what Sanger actually wrote. The comments get ugly, but the article itself strikes this "conservative" web site as fair-minded and accurate: Imani Gandy sticks to her point of view without falsifying Sanger's. (I get more good links from the Left via Twitter. Thanks to +Katha Pollitt for this one, and also for retweeting that splendid picture.)

Mental Health 

Dr. Robinson's statistics make me wonder about the interaction between creative inspiration and bipolar manic moods. Most creative "highs" don't reach the scale of manic mood swings; most bipolar patients don't create great or even decent art. So, instead of letting no-talents console themselves with the belief that "the link between genius and madness" means they're protected from mental illness (which isn't even true), maybe we should reframe it as "manic mood swings may stimulate creative talent if people have any"?


After all these years, the original Narcissus still looks better than that well-known narcissist, Bogus-As-His-Hair. (There shouldn't be a copyright on this picture...unless it's a good fake, the artist is prehistory. But, credit where credit was due, the image was tweeted by Gareth Harney (@OptimoPrincipi).)


Rand Paul posted a good one on Freedom Connector--members-only, for copyright reasons. (Not a member? The article is also at; I read it and commented at FC, here.)

Publius Huldah posted an...interesting one. I don't imagine it's the one that would actually be used to disqualify Ted Cruz, for obvious reasons, but it's an interesting consideration of one of those obsolete points of law that nobody's bothered to remove until people notice how obsolete they are.

Race (As Distinct From Stupidity) 

Stupidity, unlike race, is a choice...and if you seriously think any of these things are racist, here's your sign. I think most people will agree that they're funny. (I tweeted that if a lot of White males are in a class, a lot of White females will probably want to transfer in. Where does that leave the rest of studentkind? to find out whether your White classmates show fear if you sit beside them, or invite you to lunch. If they invite you to lunch and say ignorant things, hello, they are students; educate them. If they get up and move when you sit beside them, that would be racism. And this web site will make fun of them on social media.)

Book Review: Empowered for the Call

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Empowered for the Call

Author: Tim Bagwell

Author's web site:

Publisher: McDougal

Date: 1998

Length: 158 pages

Quote: “I realized that just as God was moving me personally into a new level of anointing and effectiveness, He wanted to do the same for my congregation.”

This book about spiritual vocation was endorsed by Oral Roberts, so you can expect it to take a very charismatic, very dogmatic, “we sense and know that God wills this to happen” approach that some Christians will endorse and others will dispute. This is the main thing you need to know about this book. It's reasonably well written; the position it takes is what you'll love or hate.

Bagwell explains how some individuals may receive a sense of vocation before they reach the level of maturation at which they can effectively carry out their vocations. Although sins people can simply stop committing might interfere with their vocations, it is the “relationship with God” that breaks the “bondage” to these sins; “It is only when your desire for holiness in your life is based on your relationship with the Lord and your desire to deepen that relationship that you will succeed.”

Christian books should be used with discernment; the more personal their teaching, the more discernment. Some people will find Empowered for the Call helpful. Others might feel the emphasis on “thou...shalt be turned into ANOTHER MAN” (isolated from the story in 1 Samuel 10) as just another brick in a wall of verbal abuse that separates them from the church in which they may have tried, or be trying, to form a “relationship with God.” If you buy this book, buy it for yourself, not for someone else.

Bagwell is alive and active, so Empowered for the Call is a Fair Trade Book: $5 per copy, $5 per package, out of which we will send $1 to Tim Bagwell or his church or any other charity of his choice. It's a small enough book that up to a dozen copies could fit into one package--that'd cost $65, of which Bagwell or his charity would get $12.) Payments may be sent to either address at the bottom of the screen.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Where the Nefarious Librarian Went Wrong

When I dug up and reread this post from bygone years...

I could see why the Nefarious Librarian might, for a moment, have sincerely thought I was the one who'd taken the book out of the library without its being Properly Checked Out.

The post was ambiguous. Why did I write it that way? I was in a hurry; I'd explained some things about the Fair Trade Books in previous posts, and didn't feel a need to explain them again. One of them was that being an Amazon Associate gave me incentives either to buy books from Amazon for resale or just to encourage readers to buy books directly from Amazon. Another was that the Fair Trade Books idea was meant to promote legitimate sales of books in order to encourage writers, not to encourage theft.

I didn't expect the book to be stolen from the library. And, like most people who check out lots of library books, I have walked out of libraries carrying books that hadn't been Properly Checked Out--usually with the blessing of librarians who've said things like "One of those seventeen books didn't scan right! Never mind! Just bring them all back!" (It's possible, considering that Pick Another Checkout Lane eventually returned to the library, that that's what happened with it.) And nefarious librarians around the world make it tempting when they discard older books, sell them cheap or throw them away, for no valid's no longer possible for anyone to respect most public libraries as community projects. 

I'm sure our Nefarious Librarian would (and probably does) resell books from our local library, probably including some I've loved and missed. However, the whole point of Fair Trade Books is that the books have been properly purchased. I've kept library books that were not Properly Checked Out past what would have been their due dates, since they didn't show up on the list of what to return on which day, but I have returned them; I would not knowingly sell a stolen book.

I live and work where my ancestors have lived and worked for two hundred years--and that's only the White ones. I've used the same screen name and identity for ten years. I have a reputation to maintain, and standards. And I'm an introvert, with the fully developed brain that feels the ickiness of selling stolen things as painfully as I feel the sour notes the Nefarious Librarian "sings." But I do understand how Little Miss "Not From Here, Not For Us" might have imagined otherwise. People like that believe that they are normal.

Phenology Post for August 20: Farewell to the Naked Ladies

The summer heat has broken, the Perseid meteors have done their thing, some mixed flocks of small migrating birds are heading south, and the garden flowers known as naked ladies have stopped blooming. I've not made the time to write a phenology post for more than a week...what follows should really have been two or three separate posts, although the natural phenomena have been observed on the same days.

Local resident cardinals are finding a lot to say for themselves. What they're saying is probably what dogs often say--"This is my home, and it's not for rent! Move on!" Coming out of cardinals it sounds more pleasant. "Birdie, birdie, birdie," "pretty-pretty-pretty," and "Cheer! Cheer! Cheer!" are what their "songs" often suggest to English-speaking people. Another common cardinal "song" might sound just a bit like a slow, leisurely drawled "Wait" or "Move it." Cardinals usually repeat one or two notes three times in each call, but individual birds recognize each other by their different calls. Some cardinals distinguish themselves by repeating their notes only twice, or more than three times.

Cardinals look cheery in winter, with the male's bright red coat and black mask and the female's chic red feather crest standing out against bare branches or snowy ground. What I've always understood the resident cardinals at the Cat Sanctuary to say to me has been "Cheer! Cheer!" What other small birds understand them to say is probably another thing. Male cardinals sometimes fight other songbirds; the birds don't kill one another, but my cardinals are quite good at keeping other birds off what they perceive as their roses and their privet hedge.

Flowers still blooming include dayflowers, red and white clover, Queen Anne's Lace, queen-of-the-meadow, boneset, morning glory, Black-Eyed Susan, the "Rose of Sharon" (Hibiscus syriacus) at the Cat Sanctuary and, yes, a few full-sized hibiscus bushes imported to Kingsport from Florida. Grandma Bonnie Peters used to have "angel's trumpets" (Brugmansia) blooming along the walkways, at this time of year, when she moved into the house where I'm typing this. Considering how toxic these plants can be and that stupid people experiment with them just to see for themselves how much damage they can do, GBP replaced them with a couple of hibiscus bushes. This year the hibiscus have bloomed well and still have one or two huge, bright red blooms.

About Brugmansia, the tone of this Wikipedia page expresses my belief. People survive tripping out on this poisonous plant but nobody seems to describe the trip as pleasant.

Those who want to make fun of people's ignorance can have enough fun enticing the ignorant to chew a leaf of boneset, which is bitter but not toxic. Chewing one leaf of boneset stimulates salivation slightly. Several leaves of boneset, dried and brewed like tea, can help speed the process of sweating out a fever. This interesting-looking native plant is sold as a home remedy; people who harvest boneset leaves may not need to pay for aspirin. (The plant has no scientifically confirmed effect on broken bones, but Wikipedia suggests that it may have earned its English name as a remedy for "breakbone fever.")

I have walked fewer miles this August than in other years, due to a minor injury and helpful friends. The foot itself, not the ankle, was strained, so walking on smooth, level surfaces feels almost normal; I still feel the strain when walking on hills, and stepping on uneven ground was what did the original damage. There is remarkably little smooth, level ground in my part of the world. I've been taking one- and two-mile walks around downtown Kingsport as breaks from work.

On one of these walks I found an interesting small animal...a good-sized black caterpillar with no fur and orange pinstripes. Although there is some debate about whether the variant forms of Anisota are really separate species or merely sub-species, this individual was easily identified as the "Orange-Striped Oakworm," A. senatoria. I looked up that species in 1989, when I'd been researching and writing about gypsy moths and had several moth books. The one I saw this week appeared younger and slimmer, with thinner stripes, than the final-instar caterpillar shown here:

Individuals can vary. Or it may have been a different species or sub-species...earlier stages of A. senatoria show more orange or yellow and less black, and are smaller of course. These late summer caterpillars spend most of their time in the treetops, so although they're fairly common in Virginia and Tennessee, they're not often seen. The ones we see are usually older caterpillars who have left their original nest site and are looking for places to pupate; while it's strongest in Malacosoma, an instinct to stay close to their place of birth while eating and growing, then wander about and pupate somewhere farther away from siblings and closer to outsiders, is observed in many moth and butterfly species.

Anisota seem to be harmless here. Guides to garden pests sometimes mention that the species achieved local overpopulation and became a pest in the North, apparently when insect species were rebounding, and predator species had been depleted, after enthusiastic use of insecticides. However, even as pests, they'd be unlikely to kill oak trees since the trees have already absorbed energy from the leaves and are about to shed their leaves anyway. They may taste, but don't actually eat, other plants.

The Orange-Striped Oakworm is more likely to attract attention as a curiosity. Its size (about two inches long) and dark color make it fairly conspicuous on the ground. The body structure and habits of the Anisotas are similar to those of the giant silk moths, so scientists place them in the same family, but neither the moths nor the caterpillars are giants. Female moths are bigger and sometimes brighter-colored than males; the female can have a two-inch wingspan and may be bright orange shading to vivid pink or yellow, while the male has a one-and-a-half-inch wingspan (sometimes less) and is light brown. The wings are peppered all over with small black spots, and each upper wing has a small white "eye" spot, but these moths aren't nearly as gaudy as the bigger kinds of giant silk moths. Anisota moths are more likely to rest with their wings folded rather than spread out like butterflies' and the bigger silk moths' wings, too.

Even their name suggests an eighteenth-century joke. The real giants in the family were given names like Atlas, Prometheus (and Promethea), Cecropia, and Polyphemus. After the names of legendary giants were taken, big silk moths documented later got names identifying them with the titles of "great men" like Regalis, Imperialis, and their smaller "relative," Senatoria. The other species or sub-species of Anisota were later given color names like A. rubicunda or human-derived names like A. peigleri.

Book Review: Magnificent Obsession

Title: Magnificent Obsession

Author: Lloyd C. Douglas

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (1929), reprinted by Grosset & Dunlap

Date: Copyright 1929; my copy is part of a set reprinted to comply with “wartime regulations”

ISBN: none, but click here

Length: 330 pages

Quote: “We'll have to evolve a new vocabulary for religion, to make it rank with other subjects of interest. We've got to phrase it in modern terms.”

How quaint the “modern terms” of the 1920s have become!

To the post-Victorian generation, being able to see that outer space was full of emptiness and of huge chunks of bare rock whirling about, that the human body is full of internal organs none of which could be described as “the soul” (although by now we can pinpoint a “spiritual center” in the brain), and that fossils can be arranged in an order that seems to support the claim that different species mysteriously “evolved” out of one another, seems to have been quite overwhelming “evidence” that traditional religious beliefs weren't true. To Christians who grew up after humans had survived this emotional shock, the idea that anybody's faith was ever based on a lack of information about outer space, human anatomy, or fossils seems the bizarre and ridiculous part.

Lloyd Douglas was writing to an audience of people who'd accepted the claim that being “modern” meant believing that God was dead. If God was dead, then humankind was God. Wonder at the miracles of God was to be replaced by wonder at the wonders of humankind. Trains, cars, and airplanes inspired a kind of quasi-religious awe at this period, as did factories, and Mussolini. The cultural atmosphere of books of this vintage seems so remote that it's a shock that the vices most writers deplored, drugs and drunkenness, promiscuity and homosexuality, seem so familiar. Lloyd Douglas's characters had never heard of television, but when a teenager is giving her parents a hard time, the story (“defied some house rules...flicked all her classes...contrived to get herself suspended...came home and plunged immediately into a series of hectic affairs; out every night”) might be happening today.

There's no longer anything trendy or exciting about atheism, though, and although Christian-phobia still exists nobody thinks Christianity has merely gone the way of the horse-drawn wagon any more. So the cumbrous way the students Joyce and Bobby work their way back around to a sort of “modern, scientific” faith in “the Major Personality” of God now seems more outdated than any of the volumes of collected sermons their grandparents might have read. And their faith still falls short of being a real religion; they'll believe as long as it seems clear to them that giving away a tenth of their money leads to prosperity, and being kind to other people leads to popularity—no longer.

That said, the Magnificent Obsession is this strange, sterile, compromising faith of the early twentieth century, which Joyce and Bobby and a few of their friends are led to rediscover from the cryptic notes left by an “obsessive” old doctor they admired. Without actually becoming complete Christians, the young people work their way back to some vague faith in kindness, honesty, and generosity, and since they're all well off in the first place, they end up solvent, gainfully employed, paired off, and likely to live happily ever after.

Lloyd Douglas was a very successful author of “Christian fiction” in his day; any study of early twentieth century Christian literature should include Magnificent Obsession. However, I can't claim that this is his best work. While writing The Robe and The Big Fisherman Douglas had to stick loosely to the facts of history, which are pretty lively. While spinning a fantasy about a religious fad that never really caught on in the form Douglas here describes (although it did lead to Positive Thinking), Douglas tends to lose me. My eyes glazed over during each of three attempts I made to read this novel. It has a bit of a plot, which resolves neatly in the end, but I couldn't interest myself in the characters enough to say whether the plot was satisfying or otherwise.

I can recommend Magnificent Obsession as a novel to people who need help to get to sleep at night. If you have inadvertently ingested too much caffeine, take a chapter. As an historical document or collection piece, it's worth having, although not hard to find. To buy it online here, send $5 per copy + $5 per package to either address at the bottom of the screen. It's not a Fair Trade Book, though, so feel free to buy this one online somewhere else and spend your e-money on Fair Trade Books here. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Link Log for August 19

[Edited to fix a typo, so I also added one more link--repeated from a previous Log, still relevant. Categories: Animals, Armed Citizen Fights Crime, Education, Etiquette, Fashion Statement, Good News, Least Competent Criminals, Obamacare, Obituary, Politics (and Race).


My belated Black Cat Appreciation Day post...

These rich and beautiful lady-cats get choices my cats have never had. Cat Sanctuary residents have told me, clearly and unanimously, that exactly two things packaged as cat food that sponsors sent them, in 2006 and in 2009, were unfit for cat consumption. (Lucky days for the possums.) Otherwise, they usually get whatever brand of dry kibble somebody found on sale at a discount department store, for breakfast, and whatever version of chicken, fish, or turkey with rice I've cooked for dinner...and they like it. They're so far from being picky that Ivy, like her mother Bisquit, will actually eat cow's milk products even though she must have noticed by now that she has nasty reactions afterward. I've had to warn a sponsor not to bring us milk. (Many cats are lactose-intolerant, and unfortunately most of them don't understand that they are.)

Citizen Fights Crime 

Another one of nice that this Link Log is not going on the site with the contract that bans any mention of firearms. This web site particularly likes the gentleman's care not to shoot the criminal in the back.


"We are all parents" was the headline in the e-mail. How ridiculous, I thought, opening it in search of a laugh. But the content is serious: we all do support parental rights, even if we're grandparents...

or never were, or never will be, parents.{2D3EE30A-76DE-4BB9-9C54-88BFA1B1CAA9}

Here's a corrective for bloggers! Actually, Dr. Allen, I'm sure many reporters can plead poverty. Sponsors don't say, "Here's a day's wages and a train ticket, now go to the university library and investigate this medical study." Well, George Peters used to say that to me, but he was a rare gem of a sponsor. Normally they say, "Here's two dollars and the reported results of a medical study that sounds cute and catchy, now write a bit of fluff about it that fits into this amount of space, preferably before lunch." I spend my mornings writing bits of fluff at one, two, three, five, eight, and ten-dollar rates. Which is better than blogging for publicity alone, or chatting for pennies...but there's just no way it can pay for professional-quality research.


Basics a few young men apparently missed learning from their fathers...Earlier today I saw a comment from a young man about whether or not he should stand next to a "taller, handsomer, richer" guy when trying to impress girls. Guys. Please. Whether you're a teenage boy trying to impress teenage girls, or a man trying to impress women...if you like and respect her, and your manners show that, you are more attractive (to many of us) than someone who is taller, handsomer, richer, and able to bench-press more weights, and driving a Porsche, but also conceited.

Fashion Statement 

Dr. John McDougall, a naturopath who recommends a vegan diet to correct several disease conditions, endorses these T-shirts for vegans. (I intended to gank the middle one, which your computer may display as the one on the right, as being the best photographed; if you click on the link you should see an adult's, child's, and toddler "onesies" sample.)

Starchivore Apparel - Half Off Sale

Good News 

Looks like youall did it...those who signed his petition and otherwise helped Steve Mack.

And, for friends of Grace Ellen:

Least Competent Criminals 

This scam artist exploited Turbo Tax flaws to get a bigger refund. Duh...when you use Turbo Tax you're telling law enforcement where to find you...


Mack Stetson tells it like it is.

(One of those horrible chores that are better done now than put off forever the way you'd like to...If you want to make sure you are or are not kept on life support, if you ever get into a vegetative condition, ask your lawyer how to make your directives in the matter clear. Anyone who was not involved in the decision is likely to quarrel about it. In Virginia it's a good idea to assemble parents, children, spouses, a few cousins to be on the safe side, your lawyer, and a notary public while you read your official statement aloud on video.)


Congressman Louis Stokes of Ohio, age 90.


The trouble with this Newsmax poll is that, like primary elections in some states (er-herm!), it allows people to cast votes for a Republican presidential nominee while planning to vote against him/her in the actual election. I'd expect a substantial percentage of Democrats to be voting for Bogus-As-His-Hair. However, if you like a serious candidate yet, here's a chance to say so:

I like Rand Paul; I like this short summary by his father. (Not wanting to be part of a "warfare state" is a different thing from wanting to maintain a strong national defense. This web site has no foreign policy, but this web site does note, admiringly, that bigger, richer countries with bigger military budgets seem almost to have respected Switzerland for hundreds of years.)

I like what I'm hearing about Carly Fiorina, too...I didn't intend to retweet the Blaze story, but it's nice to see that some people have enough clout that Yelp doesn't hide their honest reviews.

Politics of Race

The position of this web site is that neither Planned Parenthood, nor Mountain Empire Older Citizens, nor the Salvation Army, nor any organization of people who were not elected by a popular vote and who ask people for donations, should receive any public funding. Organizations should be public or private and, either way, it should be easy for anyone to pinpoint who is responsible when anything goes wrong. An organization like the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority should be public. An organization like Planned Parenthood should be private.

The link below opens a video clip of a talking head. I hate those little blighters. I can't listen to it, myself. I know some of you want the added information you get from hearing the intonation of Dr. Carson's voice; without having previewed the text of what he says, I can't say how important that information may be. I don't know exactly what he says. I am taking it on faith that he says, somewhere in the clip, that P.P. is racist. And I want all defensive White people to "hear" a legally White person saying that, historically, it was; you can find quotes from Margaret Sanger and friends about the horrible threat to Western Civilization presented by those nasty ethnic-minority types breeding like rabbits. I own some of the books; make a donation to support this blog via, I'll go home and look up the references.

That said, I believe P.P.'s (and fully tax-funded social workers') tendency to recommend abortion to young women of color, today, represents elitism rather than racism. The line between the two is both fine and blurry, but I believe, based on what I hear young women saying in a part of the world where the poorest young women are often the palest White ones, that the assumption that a girl couldn't possibly rear a child is calculated more on the basis of income than on the basis of color.

Robert Hurt on Construction Permits

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt (R-VA-9):

"Dear Friend,
During my time in Congress, I have been laser-focused on enacting pro-growth policies to provide hardworking people across the country opportunities for new, good-paying jobs in their communities. This remains my top priority, as too many Fifth District Virginians continue to look for work.
Our local officials work diligently to promote economic development in their communities, but in many cases, federal bureaucracy stands in the way of this vital work. Local officials in the Danville-Pittsylvania County area have long worked to acquire permits to develop the Berry Hill Mega-Park, a proposed economic development site aimed at attracting large new manufacturing enterprises. Boasting 3,500 acres of publicly-owned land, Berry Hill is the largest site of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the fifth largest on the East Coast, making it uniquely situated to generate economic activity. Unfortunately, a regulatory obstacle has impeded its progress and potential for dynamic job creation.
Pittsylvania County has made every effort to acquire necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin site preparation for this vitally important project, but they have been denied at every turn because no company has publicly committed to building a facility and prepared detailed blueprints. But without these permits from the Corps, the likelihood of bringing manufacturing firms to this site is extremely low because, understandably, a company will not establish a facility at a site without an approved permit.
Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to Berry Hill, as local officials in Henry County and Martinsville encountered the same roadblock. They spent an inordinate amount of time and resources to resolve it, preventing them from putting that energy to use recruiting employers to the region. We have also seen similar examples in other parts of the country where the Corps is irrationally standing in the way of economic development.
The regulatory red tape preventing the advancement of these types of initiatives defies common sense. A legitimate, thorough permit application for an economic development site should not be denied because of a lack of commitment by a company for use when the parties involved fully understand the goals and purpose of the project. I recently joined with Congressman Morgan Griffith and Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner to introduce the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act to remedy this issue.
This bipartisan, bicameral legislation specifies that the lack of a committed end-user company should not be a reason to deny a permit that meets all other legal requirements, effectively removing the regulatory roadblock that is preventing projects like the Berry Hill Mega Park from proceeding. The Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act is a major step toward resolving this catch-22 scenario and allowing our communities to attract the jobs we so desperately need.
I thank my colleagues, especially Congressman Griffith and Senators Kaine and Warner, for their strong support of the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act. I look forward to working with them and state and local economic development leaders to make real progress toward job creation in Southside Virginia and removing the federal government as a roadblock to job creation across our nation.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120."

Link Log for August 18

Belatedly, with apologies...Categories: Animals, Education, Funny, and one link that might be classified as either Politics or Thank a Soldier.


Grecy Garcia seems to be writing from a Cat & Dog Sanctuary in the Philippines:

Unlovable animals...I really wonder whether ticks would be missed if they went extinct.


Any parent should always be able to find out, firsthand, what's going on in his or her child's classroom. Would video cameras make it less distracting for parents to supervise their children's education?


Everybody in cyberspace thinks this news story is ridiculous. You have undoubtedly seen it. But you might not have seen Dave Barry's commentary.

Funny but true:

Do women really like science fiction, or do they only pretend they do to attract attention from, er um, teenage sf geeks? Well, I'm showing my age here, but I like my age...women my age were not, by and large, interested in teenage sf geeks. But some of us were interested in Leonard Nimoy, in Harrison Ford, and some of the other interesting bodies cast in sf movies. Enough to sit through those silly guy-oriented movies, even. Like duh!

(Science fiction written by, for, about women is another matter. A lot of women liked Anne McCaffrey. Then there's science fiction written by, for, about comedy lovers, which is where I came in...I liked Douglas Adams and Piers Anthony myself.)

Politics, or Thank a Soldier?

Which category does this thought fit into? If Hillary Rodham Clinton were a Marine...ain't no way. Granted she's almost 70 years old, and nobody expects people that age to do anything Marines do. Nevertheless. (Right. That was my comment. Now the article gets serious.)

Book Review: Death Beam

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Death Beam

Author: Robert Moss

Publisher: Crown

Date: 1981

Length: 408 pages

Quote: “Some of the Western intelligence chiefs who knew of the Club's assistance...privately recognized its usefulness. But they also saw the Club as a source of potential danger and embarrassment. They would never formally admit to acknowledge it.”

Charles Canning, “some kind of intellectual James Bond,” is a member of the Club in good standing. He could “talk American,” or French or any number of other things (he is English), if he didn't let himself get carried away by passion when quoting the classics of French literature to supermodels in bed. He can kill ordinary men with his bare hands, too, if he thinks it's appropriate; he's done that several times, and he's never been caught, and he never will be...because Death Beam is an escape novel, primarily aimed at male readers between ages twelve and ninety-five. Foiling the evil Soviets' plot to use their Death Beam to destroy the President of the United States is just one of many adventures Canning has with his cosmopolitan assortment of glamorous and sinister friends, and will not seriously complicate his romance with the beautiful African-American singer Melanie Toussaint.

Nor will a well-savored roll in the hay with the beautiful Israeli Clubwoman, Rael, complicate Canning's American pal Hammond's romance with the charming all-American Sally, who shows a little Club potential after a chase that involves her diving into a load of tomatoes, explaining to someone who thinks she's covered in blood that “It's all right. I'm a messy eater.” A fellow could count on a girl like Sally to understand that Rael was strictly helping Hammond calm down, probably saving his life, a humanitarian act regardless of any passion that may have been felt...if people like Sally, like Rael, or for that matter like Hammond, actually existed.

Canning's opponents are similar self-parodies. War-wounded, vengeful Ivan Petrovich Safronov, a sort of cross between Ivan the Terrible and Captain Hook, thinks it's axiomatic, whenever one needs a distraction from a bit of political controversy, to attack the Jews; he's not joking when he tells his subordinates, “Stalin shot his generals. History can be repeated.” After killing “that geriatric pedophile” who's previously seemed to be what Safronov has for a friend (and yes, trigger alert, he is a pedophile), Safronov will quote Lenin and gloat, “We will teach men the meaning of terror.” Then there's Sammy Hamad, the Palestinian they exploit, and scuzzy double agent Stepan points for guessing what they're like; even if you don't read spy novels you've met “characters” like these, possibly in descriptions of cliches to avoid using in serious fiction.

It's no easy task for a grown woman to read novels like Death Beam without laughing. I never mind laughing, so I've read it. Preposterous as the spy novel genre has to be (if the authors know any real secrets vital to the security of any real nation, they know better than to use them), it is sometimes chosen by knowledgeable writers as a way to communicate a bit of truth, and in my judgment Death Beam accomplishes that. Of course, by now you don't have to wonder whether my judgment is based on communication with any Unidentified Informants. The truth in Death Beam is that the United States' weak point is our tendency to underestimate the dangerousness of what our enemies can and will do. By way of evidence: September 11, 2001.

Who would be likely to enjoy Death Beam? Someone looking for entertainment that may be no more realistic than a romantic comedy, but is at least less sugary. The copy I have is a library discard (from last summer's Big Haul of fiction) and not in good enough condition to be sent to Mountain Home; if anybody out there wants a clean copy, we'll get him one.

Robert Moss is alive and active, although his recent writing hasn't been spy novels. Therefore, Death Beam is a Fair Trade Book. If you buy it here, although our best price will be $5 per copy + $5 per package, we'll send 10% or $1 to Moss or any charity of his choice. Payment may be sent to either address at the bottom of the screen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: Don't Stop the Carnival

A Fair Trade Book (awesome!)

Title: Don't Stop the Carnival

Author: Herman Wouk

Publisher: Doubleday

Date: 1965

Length: 395 pages

Quote: “The West Indian is not exactly hostile to change, but he is not much inclined to believe in it...all anybody does in this life is live for a while and then die for good, without finding out much...the idea is to take things easy and enjoy the passing time under the sun.”

Which West Indian Wouk had in mind, I don't know. I am not the ideal reviewer for this novel. I was born too late, and in the wrong place, to have any idea how clearly Herman Wouk described a time, place, and experience that used to be real. I can read Don't Stop the Carnival as a fantasy about somewhere long ago and far away, and as such it holds together well enough to be an enjoyable read. What my husband, who did have some real memories of what real West Indians were thinking in 1965, would have said to Don't Stop the Carnival, I don't know. Which West Indian was that, and what contract gave Wouk the right to speak for him? But autre temps, autres moeurs; in 1965 this novel was not considered exploitative or even presumptuous.

The central character, with whom Wouk seems to have identified, is a “Broadway press agent” called Norman Paperman. He falls in love with a charmingly run-down hotel, buys it, and spends a hectic vacation trying to make it a successful business venture. This of course becomes a predictable comedy of errors, with local odd jobs men refusing to replace a worker Paperman has fired, water supplies seeming to defy laws of nature, an employee giving birth on a customer's bed, and more. Paperman's daughter has been dating a demographically appropriate bore whom Paperman dislikes; during his stay on the island she becomes more interested in a less demographically appropriate but manlier young man. Paperman, himself, is thoroughly married and intends to stay married, but the events of the story, like an ocean tide, just keep bouncing him up against burned-out movie star Iris Tramm, who shows herself to be a good friend as well as a good lay, and then comes to her own unhappy ending. The story is believable while it lasts, and if you've ever enjoyed staying at a hotel on a beach it should evoke enough pleasant memories that you can forgive it for lasting for 395 pages.

What's not to like? I don't care for the way Iris Tramm is treated in this novel—although it's period-appropriate. Wouk obviously saw her as a mature, interesting, intelligent human being. Perhaps she was; although Hollywood publicists didn't call attention to it if movie stars were intelligent, there's plenty of evidence that some of them were. So, if Iris Tramm can be a real friend to Norman Paperman without violating his marriage, which she can, why does she violate it? Because in 1965 people wanted to believe that a Real Man and Real Woman wouldn't be satisfied by “just” being friends. And although the man was the one expected to pounce, the woman was the one expected to take the blame—for being a woman—and punish herself by coming to a terrible end shortly afterward. I don't like that way of thinking and am glad feminists have done so much to make it seem outdated and wrongheaded. Even in 1965 women who could be friends and respect a man's marriage did exist, but there was a tendency for male writers not to have known any of them and thus not to be able to write about them.

Then there's the way Paperman and the other characters think about that's something I do remember about Americans in 1965, and it's period-appropriate, authentic, plausible, and to my mind Paperman is relatively enlightened about it, but I can imagine how younger readers might be offended by it if they're anything but Jewish and embarrassed by it if they're Jewish.

Otherwise, this is an enjoyable riff on the theme of “Everybody's incompetent when they suddenly start doing a completely different job.” Definitely an adult plot, with some extramarital sex and some gruesome fatal accidents, but not so adult as to be tasteless or trashy. Anybody who has time to read novels is likely to enjoy reading Don't Stop the Carnival once. I liked it better than Marjorie Morningstar.

And it's still a Fair Trade Book! According to the Internet, on the day I uploaded this review, Herman Wouk was 100 years old. Well done. He won a Pulitzer Prize for The Caine Mutiny and earned plenty of money on Marjorie Morningstar, War and Remembrance, and Don't Stop the Carnival in the 1960s, but he's still entitled to have, or redirect to a charity, 10% of the total price of any of his books we sell.

So, what will that price be? Depends on which edition you want. Hardcover editions of Don't Stop the Carnival are collectors' items; the one I physically own has had a rough life and would cost a local lurker less than $15, but $15 is as low as this web site can go on a clean hardcover copy in good condition. Paperback reprints are cheap; you can get those for much less than $5 per book plus $5 per package, for a total price of $10...but those other secondhand booksellers won't send Wouk or his charity anything, and, as long as the writer lives, this web site will. Payments can be sent to either address in the box at the very bottom of the screen.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: Spanking Shakespeare

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Spanking Shakespeare

Author: Jake Wizner

Author's web site:

Publisher: Random House

Date: 2007

Length: 287 pages

Quote: “It's hard to imagine what my parents were thinking when they decided to name me Shakespeare. They were probably drunk.”

In the Bible (Genesis 9:20-27), after the Flood Noah becomes a heavy drinker. One of his three sons, Ham, and that son's son, Canaan, find Noah passed out drunk and naked, and make fun of him. Other sons and grandsons respectfully cover up the old man's indiscretion. When Noah awakens, he “curses” Ham and Canaan with a will that designates Canaan as “a servant of servants unto his brethren.”

This is generally considered one of the least edifying stories in the Bible, usually omitted from Sunday School studies; some think this story may have been added to the Bible to justify the Israelites' less than cousinly policy toward the closely related Canaanite tribe. Nevertheless, even for those who read the story of Noah's drinking binge as politically motivated fiction, it does show how ancient Israelites felt about young people's duty not to make fun of their elders.

Jake Wizner's teenaged narrator, Shakespeare Shapiro, has a lot to say about his family life. What he has to say does not include any consideration of the moral of Genesis 9:20-27 (although he does mention being Jewish, so he should know the story). Shakespeare often sounds as if a good spanking would improve his editing skills, but he never gets one. It's his parents, his younger brother Gandhi Shapiro, his teachers, and his friends, who get spanked (verbally) throughout the novel.

Publishers Weekly called Spanking Shakespeare “bold and bawdy...funny and smart.” A Chicago Tribune reviewer raved, “Brilliantly lewd.” I seem to be the only one who's thinking this novel crosses a boundary.

Nobody else seems to be saying, “Go ahead and write about your parents' drunkenness, about how you couldn't talk about pornography with your father 'because anything he said was bound to be disturbing,' about being taken to an explicit movie by your 'mentally unstable grandmother' and worse. Get it all out on paper. You might even show those pieces of paper to your therapist, or people you meet at Alateen meetings, if you really want to, before you burn them. (And if you're a fictional character, literary tradition allows them to be published in the real world by means you never suspect.) Then all that sort of 'material' will be out of your system when you're ready to write about something other people need to read.”

Spanking Shakespeare is not presented as the private thoughts in the private journal at the back of the teen writer's closet. It's presented as his senior project. I think the teacher should have told him that this kind of story needs to remain private.

And it's not just that we're told that Mr. and Mrs. Shapiro drink, that Shakespeare's buddy Neil talks endlessly about his irritable bowels, or that Shakespeare's teacher orders teenagers to compose their own obituaries and praises Shakespeare for fantasizing about a short life as a failure at everything he's done. We're told these things over and over and over.

And Shakespeare Shapiro, compulsive secret-spiller, is inevitably attracted to Charlotte White, a nice quiet girl who has a big secret. Which he spills. But Charlotte forgives him, because in our society teenaged girls tend to become desperate due to the pressure on them to choose boyfriends their own age, who are, of course, even less mature than the girls are. Like most teenaged girls, Charlotte has never had a serious boyfriend before and thinks having one is too interesting to risk. Charlotte even forgives Shakespeare for ruining a tender moment with, “Can I ask you something?” and when she shyly murmurs, “Of course,” “Where...would be the best go to the bathroom?”

Here's where I see whatever redeeming social value this long, long sequence of dirty jokes may have. Teenaged boys don't need to read Spanking Shakespeare. They already know how to be crass. But teenaged girls should definitely read Spanking Shakespeare, just as an antidote to all those horrible teen romances where the girl automatically assumes that a boyfriend will be a better mentor than a relative, teacher, or counsellor would be. Teenaged girls need to know how immature even the smarter, smoother kind of teenaged boys really are. They need to see it acted out for them: Charlotte may be ready for True Love, but Shakespeare is not.

For the guys, there's quite a range of real memoirs, by real men from Winston Churchill to Tim Tebow, to show them what a fellow can do when he's learned a very important lesson of public memoir-writing: what to leave out.

For those who don't follow this web site over to Google +, this web site recently got into a conversation with another web site that discussed a tacky thing a teenager had done. "What would you do if these were your sons?" This web site replied that what the other web site had done came close to one of the worst punishments with which this web site could ever threaten a teenager...publicizing tacky behavior on social media! That would be harsh, bordering on cruel...but not illegal...even though I'm sure most teenagers would rather be spanked with a two-by-four plank! Something for teenagers to keep in mind if they read Spanking Shakespeare.

Despite this faint praise, Spanking Shakespeare is a Fair Trade Book. If you buy it here, by sending $5 per copy + $5 per package to either address in the box at the very bottom of the screen, we'll send Jake Wizner or a charity of his choice $1 per book.