Sunday, October 4, 2015

Link Log for October 1-2

Can't believe I left without posting this on Friday, but I did. Categories: Animals, the Bad News, Crafts, Cybersecurity, Education, Faith, Health, Phenology Links, Picture, Politics, Real Men, Walking, Writing.


Gross-out alerts for some: mealworms can eat Styrofoam and, apparently, like it.

Cuter animals along the course of this "blog tour" with Peggy Frezon, author of a book called Faithfully Yours about pets and their people. (Blog tour itinerary ganked from Melissa's Mochas, home of the super-cute tortoiseshell Mudpie.)

Giveaway: Leave a comment to be entered to win a free copy of Faithfully Yours. One winner will be chosen from all the comments from the blog tour. Follow the tour and if you leave comments on all 14 stops, you'll get 14 entries!

Tues 9/29- Earl’s World
Wed 9/30- Cindy Lu's Muse
Thur 10/1- Melissa's Mochas, Mysteries and Meows
Fri 10/2- Pet Product Review
Sat 10/3- Talent Hounds
Sun 10/4- The Writer's Dog
Mon 10/5- Pooch Smooches
Tues 10/6- Heart Like a Dog
Wed 10/7- Champion of my Heart
Thurs 10/8- Joyful Paws and Talking Dogs
Fri 10/9- Fire Safety Rocks and Five Sibes

Another effort is underway to make rats the dominant species in Washington, D.C.:

Bad News 

Yet another school shooting...and yet another chance for certain Dim-ocrats to spout unenlightened drivel about how, ohhh, if that horrible gun hadn't made him do it everybody would be alive, waaaail...I really find this annoying, Dims, and a disgrace to any Democrat who's been awake during the last twenty years. In countries where people who want to kill strangers can't get guns easily, they build bombs, or use motor vehicles, and more strangers are killed--and wounded. Horrible as it seems, when the problem is an insane compulsion to kill strangers, guns could be called a (very inefficient) solution. Guns may allow lunatics like this one to kill twelve strangers when a knife might have allowed him to kill only two, but then again a bus might have allowed him to kill sixty; a bomb might have allowed him to kill twelve hundred.

Let's review the problem, slowly: The problem is an insane compulsion to kill strangers. And what do the people who suffer from this problem have in common, before they start looking for weapons to kill strangers with? They have used drugs. Many of which drugs were legal prescription medications that are prescribed too often, without adequate provision for safety in the event that drugs like Prozac have their predictable side effects, which are known to include an insane compulsion to kill strangers in 3 to 10 percent of users. So, if we really, seriously, don't want to keep reading stories about school shootings, let's just erase that old worn-out tape that keeps playing the "we need gun control" garbage that served Washington so badly in the 1990s, and start talking in real present time about the truth that we need legal prescription drug control.

I saw the story first as Yahoo wallpaper; it was e-mailed first by the Huffington Post, an e-paper that frequently scoops the competition. Others also reported the story. As usual, the first reports weren't the most complete; here's the official report:

The Huffington Post received the names of the victims and survivors:


Jil Eaton knits a toy lamb:


If the United Nations take over the Internet, are you prepared to back out and let the Internet collapse?


Ahmed Mohamed was a mischievous, rebellious little kid, reports Jason Howerton. Gifted children often are--especially when subjected to hours of boredom waiting for other children their age to catch up with them, which may not take so many years, but don't you remember how long a year is to a kid? In middle school a year might as well be "forever." People don't realize how passionately some of these kids hate school, or how easily that hate can be transferred to people in general. Or, in the case of children who travel widely, the town or state or even the country where a child feels especially misunderstood. That makes the Mohamed family's Arab-Muslim identity a valid reason why the President should reach out to this particular child. You want the Einsteins of this world to think of you as friends.

For the record, I sympathized with young Ahmed's story before I looked at pictures of his face. But I like his face. Aunts tend to look at the younger generation and think "If I'd had a child with X s/he might have looked like that," and if I'd had a son with the man I did marry, he might have looked like Ahmed Mohamed. Of course, another reason why an online image of a child's face stirs up mother instincts is that I don't see a lot of images of children in cyberspace. Which is as it should be. Children deserve privacy and need to learn to protect theirs. It's one thing to make a modest little trickle of money by blogging about a dog or cat modelling different pet care products. It's another thing to make that money by blogging about a child. Let's just say that I know of no terrorist who's ever sneaked into the United States under cover of the identity of a U.S.-born dog, nor of a thief who's ever closed out a victim's savings account by impersonating a cat.

Now, about bright kids who waste their talent and energy on stupid kid mischief...what happens when they decide to use their talents for good?

Here's a feel-good petition that exemplifies part of the problem. What's wrong with "fully including in first grade" a child who's not ready to learn to read? Efforts to "fully include" all seven-year-olds, or five-year-olds or whatever other age is credited with the magic power of making children ready to learn to read, in the first grade, actually teaches them how much they don't have in common and why they can't be friends or work together. Efforts to bring together, in a first grade reading class, all people of any age who are ready to learn to read the same material, might "fully include" all the people in that category. But pretending that all children of a certain age are equally ready for the first grade is not "treating with dignity" a little boy who may be lovable, but who is not ready to learn to read. School classes need to move in the direction of ignoring age (or pre-existing social relationships) and screening out anyone who, for whatever reason, is not prepared to learn the same material. This woman needs to give her seven-year-old son the due "dignity" of noticing what he can learn and do, and making sure that whatever education or day care he gets is based on what he can learn and do--as distinct from either calling attention to his inadequacies, or dragging others back down to his level, by trying to force him to be ready to learn to read at age seven. (For those who don't know, Downs Syndrome is a genetic condition that makes it unlikely that this little fellow will live long enough to learn to read; most people who share the mutation spend most of their short lives learning the things the rest of us learn at age three or four.) This web site does not recommend signing the petition linked below...just read it and see for yourselves how wrongheaded it is.


I wasted a bit of time on a Disqus discussion at a U.Cal. site about a student who felt "persecuted" by a teacher whose initial announcement was, apparently in a snarky bantering tone, something like "If you are a devout Christian who believes the Bible is literally true, please drop out now." Neither the student nor the teacher was much of a surprise. I don't believe every word in the Bible even claims to be literally true; I don't believe a valid approach to Bible scholarship begins with the assumption that none of it's true, either.

I was surprised, though, by the low quality of debate coming from someone who claimed to be a student, a scientist, a rationalist, speaking for U.Cal., with the kind of venomous vaps that I would have thought were really clever, too, maybe in grade five--and as passionately attached to a blind faith in "Science" as a child, too. On questions like "Does the respondent called Cam, whom we know only from a few comments on a web page, have permanent organic brain damage such as Asperger's Syndrome, or, perhaps worse, the mind damage done to some children by teaching them to confuse fashionable ideas with liberal and scientific ideas?" the scientific response is "We don't and can't know. Something is wrong when a university student can't detach from emotions, use parliamentary manners, and refrain from calling names, but we don't have sufficient evidence to say what."

There are several topics of "scientific" debate--like macroevolution, mandatory vaccines, global warming, who "really" wrote a book that survives as copies made from copies a thousand years after the events in the book happened--where the really scientific response is "We don't and can't know." People unscientifically attach themself to one opinion or the other with blind faith and, because their faith is supported by some fallible piece of scientific research rather than a sacred text, they mistake their blind faith for science.

And there aren't enough teachers who are as willing to question these "scientific" opinions on the side generally supported by the Old Left as they are on the side generally supported by the Old Right. Faith in science is as much of a mess as faith in God...anyway, here's a good, short one-line summary of people's faiths, as distinct from God or, for that matter, from Science.


Ah...flu guilt.

This, I admit, is speculation, based on what I've been feeling this week so far, and on similar occasions in the past, and what others report...but it's workable. Say you've been exposed to the virus that's going around. (Check.) You're a reasonably healthy person, so the chances are that you're going to shake it off without showing any obvious symptoms. (Check.) You feel, more than anything else, tired. No nausea, no pain, no significant fever, not even a runny nose. (Check.) Well, maybe just a little bit...less cheerful than you normally feel; the baseline mood of healthy people isn't "happy," because "happy" is noticeably better than baseline, so this web site describes the baseline as "cheerful." Anyway, as a slightly less healthy person, while fighting the virus, you notice that things irritate, discourage, or worry you more than usual. Other people may or may not notice this, but you do. You've learned that this is one of the early, and minor, symptoms of fighting off an infection. (Check.)

So then something comes up--some opportunity to do something that people should not do while fighting off an infection: shovel snow, mend your own plumbing, walk 25 miles, sit up with a friend in the hospital, hug your grandmother. You know that doing whatever it is would increase the risk of (a) your coming down with the virus and becoming unable to do other things you normally do, and/or (b) one or more other people, who may be more vulnerable, coming down with the virus. Nevertheless, while you stay warm, avoid stress, and fight the virus, you keep thinking that you ought to do whatever it is that virtually guarantees that you and they will develop visible symptoms. Public-spirited people shovel snow. Nobody should be alone in the hospital. How can you not hug your grandmother? People will think you don't Care Enough about things you're supposed to care about. It's not as if you had a cough or a fever...

I propose that we consider this type of thought pattern as a symptom. False guilt is yet another unpleasant mood that goes with fighting off an infection. A person who normally feels sick and tired when facing any unappealing chore may have a problem with responsibility or a chronic disease or both, but for a person who is normally responsible, and feels false guilt about "slacking" in some way while fighting off an infection, the false guilt is as much a part of a disease process as a fever would be.

Phenology Link 

Salmon fishing in scenic New York state:


For every comment made on Beth Ann Chiles' site, fifty cents will be donated to a legitimate charity. After typing a comment on this pretty picture, I'm not sure my comment was worth fifty cents. I'm sure youall can think of better ones.


Lewis Shupe's essay on the life cycle of republics was good for a laugh, anyway. This web site hopes nobody would take seriously the idea of giving people extra votes based on their age or income. (Anyone who thinks baby-boomers aren't welfare cheats is obviously not familiar with the United States.) On the other hand, there is some merit in the idea that people receiving federal handouts, including college tuition grants or Social Security in excess of the amount they verifiably paid in, should forfeit the right to vote until they're self-supporting again.

Scott Adams claims, on what basis I have no idea, that some people--presumably his personal acquaintances--can take the spoiler candidate's word. On some things. All to the good; all of us humans are bad enough at best and don't need to be made to seem worse than we are. However, how many weeks has it been since he promised to stay off the Fox channel, before the Bankruptcy Billionnaire is back on Fox, spouting "I don't think the word 'mature' is appropriate" with that classic four-year-old's pouty face. As this web site has observed...when a married man has initiated multiple divorces, when a man has filed for bankruptcy while known to have millions of dollars, if that man says it's raining outside we want to verify that before we pick up an umbrella.

Real Men 

My Google + comment was "Proof that America needs car control?" Yes, that's a lame comment. There ought to be a Corrido de Juan Mena-Brito.


Most of us should enjoy the right and ability to walk more than we do.


I have no immediate plans for writing a conventional novel. Have you?

Thanks to Hope Clark for sharing this writers' market link, with which I'm sure +Lyn Lomasi is already familiar:

Here's another'zine, with a focus on articles parents can laugh with and also use. (Writers and nonwriters are encouraged to browse the articles at this site, grouped in logical categories like Birth, Parenting--Toddlers, Parenting--Teens, etc. Despite the "Mommy" focus they're interesting to aunts/uncles, teachers, and grandparents too.)