Monday, November 30, 2015

Riviana Claims Success Brown Rice Is Not Genetically Modified

Right. Success Brown Rice has been my staff-of-life food for many years. Suddenly it's started making me sick in the way wheat does. Other rice products, including store-brand products similar to Success Brown Rice, started to affect me this way last year. I've been credibly informed that there are two reasons why this is even possible: (1) rice has been genetically modified to resemble wheat (by splicing in DNA from E. coli, which can also cause this rice to affect some gluten-tolerant people in the way E. coli does, which differs from the way wheat affects me mainly in the amount of blood found in the toilet); or (2) rice has been sprayed with glyphosate to protect it from insect damage. (Apparently glyphosate itself may affect some people in some of the ways wheat affects gluten-intolerant people.) Which is it?

In light of all the attention that has been given recently to genetically modified ingredients, we understand your need to better understand the relationship between the foods that you eat and genetic modification.

Agricultural science has been modifying the genes of staple foods to maximize their desirable characteristics for many years, and the benefits have been abundant. Although over time the approach to the way the genes are modified may differ slightly, their common goals have been to produce crops that are more tolerant to adverse weather, more resistant to pests, and more nutritious.

There is increasing concern among consumers about the role and impact of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the environment and the food supply. The United States Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration regulate the safety system for food biotechnology. Collectively, these agencies provide strong, active oversight and help ensure that consumers are protected. We go to great lengths to ensure that our raw materials are safe and wholesome. All of the ingredients used in our products not only meet U.S. Government standards, but meet our own stringent quality standards as well.

At this time there is no known commercial production of genetically modified rice in the United States. Test methods are available for long grain and medium grain but the limit of detection is 0.01% with a 95% confidence level. With that in mind, Riviana is going through the verification process to participate in the Non-GMO project. We will continue to monitor developments in this area to ensure that the quality and safety of our products remains above reproach.

We truly appreciate you sharing your concerns, as your feedback is important to us. Thank you for your continued patronage.

[Riviana employee] Consumer Relations


Please do NOT reply to this email. If you would like to respond to this message, click on the link below: "

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How I Lost 85 Pounds Through Paid Professional Videogaming with Elvis Presley, and Blake Shelton, and Erykah Badu...

Or, in a word: BOSH. What this mini-post is really about is that I'm soooo tired of getting e-mail with obviously untrue "made you look" headlines. (Especially when there are embedded links...I'll tell you up front, this post contains some links to Amazon. They're legitimate links you can use to buy books and records I suspect most readers might like--if you don't already own them, which you probably do; these are very popular books and records.)

I've not lost 85 pounds--even after "starving a fever" for eight days in October, I lost only about 20 pounds. Nobody would want to look the way I'd look if I'd lost 85 pounds.

If anybody's getting paid for professional videogaming, I have no idea who it might be.

Elvis Presley died in 1978. (Lots of other guys have earned decent money by enhancing any natural resemblance to him they had, at the time, and lip-syncing with his records.)

What Blake Shelton and Erykah Badu have to do with this post is that I remember seeing their names on Yahoo's list of "What's Trending Now" as I opened my e-mail.

I wouldn't open an e-mail from you that used the headline I've used for the title of this post, and you'd be ahead not to open one from me that used this headline. It is soooo...obviously...garbage! 

And so are some of the e-mails I deleted this morning. "The next Reagan"? The "Reagan" who's famous enough that his name can stand alone, President Ronald Reagan, had children; according to a quick Web search three of them are still alive, albeit retired. "The next Reagan" would be a decent headline for any actual news about anything Michael, Patti, or Ron Reagan, or any of their children or any children Maureen Reagan might have had, might have been doing. In fact Michael Reagan interests me enough that I actually opened that e-mail. But no, that was the headline on an e-mail about somebody's selection of Republican presidential candidates for 2016. of them is likely to be the next President, but none of them is going to be the next Reagan.

Another e-mail screeched that somebody "has been accused of a serious crime. You be the judge." Er um, that's why we have judges and that people aren't "convicted in the court of public opinion" by one or two misleading bits of evidence. It was brought to my attention last week that somebody has a video sequence showing me, the writer known as Priscilla King, taking a bag full of groceries through a supermarket checkout line, holding the cash to pay for them, but not having paid for them. If the video sequence is complete, it will also show two store employees squawking in chorus, "You forgot to pay," and me returning to the counter and paying. I'm not a thief, nor can I imagine that a real thief would ever use that particular technique; it ought to be painfully obvious that everyone involved in that episode was distracted by figuring out how to use the automated cash register. I don't think people should try to "be the judge" even if the viral video shows what appears to be Elvis Presley shooting Erykah Badu in the back...when, if such a video had been made, the rest of it would show the film crew carefully wiping the paint off Erykah's coat before she stands up.

Or how about, "Don Trump's pretty much a Nazi right?" This kind of thing can be found in the context of a conversation, but it wasn't; no fact-based comparison between anything the #BankruptcyBillionnaire said or did and anything any Nazi said or did; pure, kindergarten-level verbal abuse, so far as I could tell. (It came from an attention craver whose e-mails often contain garbage, so I didn't actually open that one.) "Rump," obnoxious jerk, egomaniac, spoiler pseudocandidate, woman-hater, Clinton crony, mocker of family values, world-class liar, bogus Republican whom nobody should trust, yes...but I not only have no reliable documentation of his attempting genocide, I don't even have solid documentation that he intends to be even a Franco-variety fascist. You want to call people Nazis, you need some sort of basis for choosing that label other than "I don't like him or her."

"Long-tailed tags" for things people post or e-mail on the Internet can be fun to play with. After becoming accustomed to using a limited number of "tags" or "labels" as sorting tools to help people find related content on Live Journal or Blogspot, I'm having fun with Wordpress-hosted blogs' policy of using just a few "Labels" for sorting and endless "tags," the longer and more peculiar the better, for attracting readers from search engines. Why be limited to "math/humor" or "math/fiction" when you can use a one-time tag like "math in Alice in Wonderland"? But people need to maintain some sense of what they're talking about. If you tell readers it's about math in Alice in Wonderland, kindly make sure that it is.

For Ron Paul

From retired U.S. Senator Ron Paul (father of Senator Rand Paul):

I spent my entire life fighting to audit the Federal Reserve. This is my legacy.

And I'm fired up about a Senate vote after Thanksgiving.

I know Campaign for Liberty supporters like you are fired up, too.

Thank you so much for your support in this fight.

Please donate $10 or more before tonight's critical deadline:

-- Ron

Jim Babka and Perry Willis Promised This Follow-Up...

(This web site doesn't know which parts of their e-mails were composed by Jim Babka and which by Perry Willis. We have a "Label," a useful little piece of software, for Jim Babka and will use it to incorporate contributions that, like this one are signed by Perry Willis, unless and until we figure out how to change the entire "Label" to "Downsize DC," which would have been the proper label for their organization...except that so many correspondents are active in different organizations that we've tracked correspondence by individual correspondents' names. Anyway, the headline at their site identifies the Syrian refugee "crisis" as an Opportunity to Grow a Backbone.

Meh. Members of this web site have lived/bunked with Arab-type people before but we'd still prefer to make sure any prospective housemates are sane, clean, sober, reasonably respectable members of their own communities, and generally not inclined to muck about with explosives or deadly weapons while staying with us. That's why the "allowing citizens and charities to sponsor" refugees is crucial. There are countries that currently seem to be at lower risk from ISIS goons disguised as refugees than the U.S. is, and some of them may even have more opportunities for the kind of unskilled labor jobs some of these bachelor "refugees" look qualified to do...let those countries open their floodgates to the masses of single men.)

Syrian refugees: Are we still the home of the brave? Retweet
  • U.S. politicians (and voters) created the Syrian refugee crisis
  • Those who caused the crisis have a moral obligation to give sanctuary to the people they victimized -- "You broke it, you bought it."
  • No tax funding should be used for this purpose. Instead...
  • Congress should throw open the doors to voluntary contributions, allowing American citizens and charities to sponsor Syrian individuals and families.
We call this policy “Sanctuary yes, tax-funding no.” Today we’ll address two questions related to this policy. First...
Will taking in Syrian refugees increase the risk of terrorism?
A lot of people seem to think so, but this fear doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. Practically speaking...
  • No refugee has ever committed a terrorist attack in America (the Tsarnaev brothers, for instance, did not come through refugee program).
  • All previous attacks were committed by U.S. citizens or by people who came here with legal visas.
  • Keeping out refugees won’t keep out terrorists, anymore than walls and bars keep drugs out of our prisons.
Here’s the moral argument...
  • We wouldn’t imprison or deport you because someone on your block committed a crime. We wouldn't even take your guns due to a gun crime. The same principle applies to the Syrian refugees. We don’t punish innocent people because of what bad people do.
  • All human rights are pre-constitutional and inalienable. Rights do NOT come from governments. Rights pre-exist governments. Rights stem from our humanity. This means that the Syrian refugees have the same right to the presumption of innocence that you do.
Basically, we need to choose principles over special pleading.
Here’s where the moral and the practical converge...
Denying sanctuary to people you victimized breeds resentment that promotes terrorism. ISIS uses this in their propaganda. Our government, in our name, has already done far too many things to help Muslim extremists promote terrorism. It’s time to stop.
What about screening?
Refugees are screened. The process takes 18 to 24 months. It’s a game of “pretend.” Think about it...
Will Assad give us his files about the people fleeing his rule? Of course not. So there can be no background checks for these refugees. It’s absurd to think otherwise.
But even if screening could work, would-be terrorists would simply bypass the process and enter the country by other means. Again, think about it...
Someone who’s willing to die in a terrorist attack isn’t going to worry about being arrested for travelling without papers.
Screening is pointless. It's a fairy tale that just wastes money and holds innocent people against their will. But here’s something that could work...
If we treat immigrants with respect they may inform on the bad people in their community. But this is unlikely to happen as long we treat all Muslims like terrorists and innocent people as if they were guilty.
A final point...
Many Americans sneer at the French. They call them cowards and “surrender monkeys.” Remember "freedom fries?" Yet France is taking in 30,000 Syrian refugees while the U.S. is taking in none (so far). That’s embarrassing. We call ourselves the “home of the brave.” That’s just empty bragging. Americans tremble before the slightest risk. How do we know?
  • You should see the letters we get, telling us we're not scared enough.
  • There's even a news network completely devoted to being crazy with fear. They wouldn't do this if it wasn't getting ratings. It’s time to grow a backbone.
If you agree, please tell Congress to....
  • Accept Syrian refugees, but instead of using tax money to support them...
  • Create a path for Americans to sponsor Syrian individuals and families
Take these actions...
  1. Send your instructions to Congress using Downsize DC’s Educate the Powerful System.
  2. Forward this message to friends. Ask them to send a letter, just like you did.
  3. Consider making a contribution or starting a monthly pledge to further our work
We hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving,
Perry Willis
Vice President, Downsize DC 

P.S.: Fellow Americans, the U.N. has set up a funding site where we can donate money to help transport, feed, clothe, and shelter masses of "Syrian refugees" in camps that are being set up outside the U.S. I say "meh," again...I don't know where these places are or who's running them or how or why or anything. If you trust the U.N. to oversee this, here's a link you can use to contribute:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Jim Babka Replies to the S.A.F.E. Act

Gentle Readers, this web site has no foreign policy. This web site does have a sense of compassion for Syrian refugees who are actually in danger in Syria (although there seem, on examination, to be far fewer of them than some have claimed--specifically, ISIS seems to be paying at least lip service to the Islamic rule of tolerating Jews and Christians as second-class citizens in Islamic countries). This web site has also observed that no country can just open the gates and let everybody who wants to claim to be a Syrian refugee come into every country where ISIS is unwelcome.

Accordingly, this web site recognizes a vital kernel of truth in Jim Babka's and Perry Willis's e-mail. This web site would not exactly recommend allowing a mass immigration from Syria or any other country. Allowing temporary lodging for bona-fide refugees, vouched for and sponsored by U.S. citizens, is a much safer idea. If these refugees are Jews or Christians, they should be recommended by a rabbi or pastor. If victims of other ethnic or religious persecution, they should have some way to prove that. If admitted only as sponsored by religious or humanitarian organizations, based on personal recommendations, and completely banned from receiving publicly funded benefits of being in the U.S., any "refugees" who have intentions other than escaping from persecution are likely to decide they're not refugees after all.

Syrian refugees: Sanctuary YES, tax-funding no.
by Jim Babka & Perry Willis
The Syrian refugees are fleeing three things...
2. Bombs dropped to fight ISIS
3. Bombs dropped to fight Syria’s dictator, Assad
The United States government shares responsibility for all three things...
* Our invasion of Iraq created the seedbed in which ISIS grew
* Our politicians then supported ISIS []
* Our politicians then sent planes to bomb Assad, and later ISIS too (reversing their earlier policy of supporting ISIS)
* Our politicians have also armed other terrorist groups in Syria []
This is what the refugees are fleeing -- conditions the United States created.
But we can be even more precise about who is responsible for this crisis. If you...
* Supported the Iraq invasion
* Supported the idea of overthrowing the Assad government in Syria
* Voted for either of the last two presidents ( Bush and Obama)

Then you share responsibility for the Syrian refugee crisis.
Please notice...
People who supported the policies that created this crisis also tend to oppose letting Syrian refugees come to America.
This is evil piled upon evil. Here’s what justice requires...
Those who supported the policies that created the Syrian refugee crisis must now make amends. They broke Syria, now they bought a refugee crisis. They should quit doing bad things and start doing good things. Most importantly, they must come to the aid of those they helped victimize -- the Syrian refugees. In short...
The U.S. made this mess, so the U.S. must take the lead in fixing it.
This means that the Syrian refugees must be given sanctuary, no matter what happens with the issue of how they’re supported once they get here. The existence of tax-funded support for such refugees is NOT a sufficient excuse for stranding people the U.S. victimized. Still...
The best position, both morally and practically, is to support sanctuary while also opposing tax-funded support for those refugees. That’s the position Downsize DC is taking...
Syrian immigration yes. Tax-funded support no.
But we want to go further than that. We want to ask Congress to...
1. Accept voluntary donations to support the incoming refugees
2. Allow American citizens, charities, and other institutions to sponsor Syrian individuals and families -- because it's presently illegal to do such a good deed []. The State monopolizes this process.
It would be good for the federal government to start learning a new approach to problem solving. This crisis is the perfect opportunity to begin. Permit the use of a thousand new projects. Americans are a generous, big-hearted people. Let voluntary actors innovate and privately fund solutions to social problems like the Syrian refugee challenge, rather than rely upon violence-based taxation and one-sized-fits all, monopolistic programs.
Our next message will deal with the following objections…
  • What about the risk of terrorism from refugees?
  • What about screening programs?
TODAY, we encourage you to take the following actions…
TOMORROW, call Jim Babka on the radio and give him your feedback.
Thank you for being a DC Downsizer,
Jim Babka & Perry Willis
Co-founders, Downsize DC
P.S. November 24 and 25, Jim Babka guest-hosts the Gary Nolan Show from from 9 AM to Noon Central time, in Columbia and Jefferson City, MO. But you can listen at — click on “Listen Live,” on the top right side of the page. Here's the call-in number: 800-529-5572 

Morgan Griffith on the S.A.F.E. Act

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9), editorial comment below:

the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Constituents have contacted my offices to express their concerns, share their views on how to defeat ISIS, and on the President’s proposed plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States next year.

I understand and share many of their concerns – ISIS is a serious threat.

According to reports, prior to the Paris attacks, one of the ISIS assailants posed as a refugee in order to enter Europe through Greece. Consequently, many are questioning whether the United States could be similarly infiltrated.

Adding to these fears is the fact that top national security officials within the Obama Administration have warned repeatedly that there is not sufficient data or resources to significantly vet the vast majority of refugees from Syria.

A duty of our government must be to protect the safety of the American people. That’s why my colleagues and I in the House of Representatives on November 19 passed the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act (H.R. 4038).

The SAFE Act would immediately suspend the Syrian refugee resettlement program, prohibiting the admission of refugees from Iraq and Syria into the U.S. until the FBI Director certifies the background of each refugee, and until the FBI Director, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence certify to the American people’s representatives in Congress that each refugee is not a security threat to the United States.

Despite serious concerns regarding national security, this vote was not taken lightly. Many with Middle Eastern backgrounds or descent work, play, and contribute to our communities, and are truly great Americans.

Notably, despite the President’s veto threat, the SAFE Act passed the House with a veto-proof majority. The Hill reports that “A number of Democrats who were on the fence about the bill decided to vote yes after hearing administration officials make the case against it.”

“It didn’t persuade,” said Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), who supported the bill. “It had the opposite effect – for a number of us.”

More can and must be done in an effort to keep us safe. The SAFE Act is a targeted, significant first step we are taking in an area in which there is an immediate need for action.

FBI Director James Comey said on October 8 that “My concern [about bringing Syrian refugees into the United States] is that there are certain gaps I don’t want to talk about publicly in the data available to us.”

Comey also testified in an October 21 House Homeland Security Committee hearing, “…if someone has not made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interests reflected in our databases, we can query our databases until the cows come home but nothing will show up because we have no record of that person…You can only query what you have collected.”

The Administration insists the current background check system is sufficient. As an analogy, I recall, however, that 11 days before the launch of Obamacare exchanges, an administration official testified that the exchanges were on track for an October 1, 2013 launch. Whether supportive of or opposed to Obamacare, no rational person argues the Obamacare computer system was ready on time.

Of course, the ramifications of the botched launch of Obamacare would pale in comparison to what could happen should the current background check system fail.

No system is perfect, but we must pause the Syrian refugee program until the reasonable questions being asked by Congress and the people of these United States can be answered.

General Jack Keane, a retired U.S. Army general, said, “I’m absolutely convinced that you’re doing the right thing by pausing and making certain that the Congress takes a look at the executive branch’s plans and makes certain that it’s reasonable what we’re doing in terms of the vetting process.”

Our nation has a long history of providing for many of the world's refugees. We remain a compassionate nation, and I acknowledge the plight of those fleeing from war-torn areas of the Middle East and know that we must find a way to help them. But I also acknowledge my first responsibility is to the people I represent.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Editorial comment: And as Thanksgiving approaches, let us all give thanks that Hitler didn't think of sending bogus Jewish spies around the looks from here as if a whole new depth of human evil has been plumbed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Robert Hurt on Medical Care for Veterans

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt (R-VA-5):

"Dear Friend,
This past week, as our nation came together on Veterans Day to honor those who have served our country, I traveled across the Fifth District and talked with many of Virginia’s brave veterans. In addition to attending several Veterans Day events, I visited McGuire VA Medical Center, the Salem VA Medical Center, and three Community-Based Outpatient Clinics, more commonly known as CBOCs, in Danville, Lynchburg, and Charlottesville.
As in the past, I was impressed with the healthcare providers with whom we met. They genuinely care about the veterans they see, and they want to provide the highest level of care to those who have sacrificed so much for our country. I am grateful for their commitment to that goal.
Some providers expressed the concern that bureaucratic paperwork required by the VA often prevents them from efficiently and effectively delivering the care their patients require. Because the culture of paper-pushing exists at the macro and micro levels, this bureaucracy stands in the way at every step of the process, right down to the doctor-patient relationship. Over the years, most of the veterans I have spoken with value the high level of care they receive, but they also often express frustration with all of the red tape that goes along with accessing healthcare.
In some respects, I believe we have made strides in reforming the way our veterans receive the healthcare they have earned, but we still have a long way to go. VA healthcare providers and the veterans with whom I spoke this week explained that while the Veterans Choice Program is a well-intentioned program aimed at speeding up access to care, there are problems with efficiency in this new model that must be addressed.
While the “40-Mile" Rule was created to allow veterans residing over 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility to receive care outside the VA system, the system in place for identifying these providers and for setting up appointments often results in having veterans having to drive even further than the VA facility for care and in having appointments set beyond the time that would have been set by a VA facility.
We must continue to work to serve our veterans more efficiently, and it is our responsibility to make sure they receive the highest level of care. That is why Representative Tim Walz (D-Minnesota) and I introduced the Veterans Administration Legislative and Objective Review (VALOR) Act in July. If adopted, this legislation would require that the Department of Veterans Affairs undergo a biannual, independent audit by a non-governmental entity. This bill would provide an outside perspective in identifying the problems at the VA and would offer solutions to solve these problems on an ongoing basis.
As we continue to work to implement effective long-term solutions, I encourage our veterans and our active-duty members of the armed services to contact our office if we may ever be of assistance in dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs or any other federal agency.
I am grateful to all of the veterans who took the time to meet with me this week. I am humbled by the opportunity to serve Virginia’s Fifth District, and I remain fully committed to ensuring that our veterans who have given the most receive the benefits they have earned and deserve.
Finally, last week we witnessed horrific acts of terror committed in Paris. America stands firmly with France and resolute in our fight against terrorism. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims and their families and with the entire 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."

Morgan Griffith Calls for a Pause

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

Griffith Calls for a Pause on Admittance of Syrian Refugees into the U.S.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015 – Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States:

“During these troubled times, a priority of the federal government must be to protect the American people.”

“President Obama has proposed that the United States accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement. This would not be without risk, as there is not sufficient data about the vast majority of refugees. Therefore, these refugees cannot be significantly vetted. Vetting is difficult, particularly when we take into account two factors – 1) we are now dealing with thousands instead of hundreds of individuals, and 2) ISIS, etc. is using the flood of refugees to smuggle terrorists into Western countries.”

“No plan will be perfect, but our approach must be prudent. Accordingly, I and others are of the belief that the prudent action to take is to pause the admittance of additional Syrian refugees into the United States.”

“As FBI Director James Comey testified in an October 21 House Homeland Security Committee hearing, ‘…if someone has not made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interests reflected in our databases, we can query our databases until the cows come home but nothing will show up because we have no record of that person…You can only query what you have collected.’”

“Echoing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), I say, ‘This is a moment when it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.’”

“In addition to pausing this particular part of the refugee program, other actions may be taken. For example, I have repeatedly noted my belief that the President does not have the authority to wage an extended war on ISIS without Congressional approval. Congress must debate and vote on an authorization for the use of military force against ISIS. Additionally, our Arab allies including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, etc. ought to provide troops on the ground in the field of battle.”

“That all having been said, we cannot disregard the plight of many people in war-torn areas of the Middle East – minority religions, particularly Christians, have been targeted by ISIS. We should consider providing aid to help refugees elsewhere, without bringing them to American soil.”

“In the House of Representatives, a task force is examining and expeditiously developing suggestions regarding Congress’ role in defeating ISIS, and also concerning potential national security implications of the President’s plans to resettle at least 10,000 Syrians in the United States. I seek a balanced Congressional response, and look forward to thoroughly reviewing the task force’s recommendations.”

“In the meantime, we must pause the admittance of additional Syrian refugees into the United States.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Link Log for November 17

Categories: Animals, Art, Books, Chemistry, Christian, Controversial Content, Election, Ethics, Fun Stuff, Gender Politics, Music, Phenology photo link, Philosophy, Stupidity (Is a Choice), Syrian Refugees, Technology, Travel (Virtual), Writing.


Two wild animals fight...either the big aggressive deer or the mountain lion could have done a lot of damage to the amateur photographer who captured their fight on video, if they hadn't been too well matched and spent about fifteen minutes using their energy on each other.


I like the birds in this young man's head.


+Marsha Cooper discusses an interesting pair of quilting books:


Thanks to Elizabeth Barrette for this explanation of what makes books smell so pleasant.


At the writing link below, Jerry Jenkins links to Ann Voskamp. One thing I have to mention before recommending her blog--even though she says her name is Ann without the fanciful E (thus bonding with Anne of Green Gables fans around the world), the blog is fanciful, hifalutin, loaded with memory-hog pictures; if you're not using a fairly fast-moving and high-powered computer you can't read it at all. Bah. I prefer a humble blog with minimal audiovisual clutter, accessible to all devices including five-dollar cell phones. Not that I'd try to read a blog with a cell phone, but why be hostile to people who do? Anyway, here's a sample of a not very well seasoned or reasoned, but very very pretty, feel-good Christian blog. Mood-elevating eye candy about the good things that happen when responsible adults choose small, safe, sane acts of courage like talking to strangers.

This web site will never endorse the idea of trying to pin on a forced "smile" and shove yourself into strangers' faces. If, instead, you wait for the moments when it's actually possible to help strangers by talking to them, some of those moments may come when you're in a crowd, and then you get to see a thousand real, honest, natural smiles bloom. (Warning, though, from an older and soberer Christian. In some crowds it will happen; in some crowds it won't. Nobody's spiritual experience should depend on the mood of the last crowd scene in which they found themselves.)

Here's a Christian trying to take over "Black Friday"...yes, I remember growing up thinking of it as "Thanksgiving Friday."

Some Christians frown on tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), so The Nephews should not interpret this link as an encouragement to get a tattoo. Even this one? Hey, the Bible never said there's anything wrong with ink...if you have to freshen it up with a pen every day, it means more.

Controversial Content 

My editorial pronouncement: The photos at this page are family-friendly. The comments are most definitely not. Recommended to adults, anyway, because it's cool to see so many young women putting the miserable-with-envy little boy in his place.

Election 2016 

What does a natural-born Peace Chief do in times of war? Ben Carson has a good answer:


Not all English-speaking people were brought up to think and talk about the concept of personal honor. Dan Lewis reports on a (perhaps extreme) example:

Daddytypes ponder a much lighter point of personal ethics:

Fun Stuff 

Yes, this is the lighthearted, feel-good blog where sponsors will donate money to a worthy cause for every post on which you comment.

And here are some visual puns:

Gender Politics 

Scott Adams proposes an idea that just might deliver "the boot" to ISIS more efficiently than putting troops' "boots on the ground." (I think we all agree that ISIS is one great big butt-end?)


Fun facts (several of which were new to me) about the history of the shawm, plus links to recordings of what this archaic instrument sounds like. (As a novelty I like it.)


Photo link..."Halloweenie" is not what comes to my mind; maybe because I live further south than the photographer. This is November-at-its-very-prettiest. Most of the leaves are on the ground, but they're still radiant against the evergreens. (At some altitudes we're still at that stage of autumn here.)


Has America been destroyed? Er,'s a fascinating, subjective list of writers, some still famous and some obscure, who've had some harmful influence on America. I nominate Auguste Comte to replace Margaret Sanger. What would you say?

Stupidity (Is a Choice) 

One of the most stupid things I've ever seen people do, and some of them do it over and over and over...When they feel threatened by something in their real world, they don't move to confront the threat or protect themselves; they try to displace the emotional feeling of discomfort by attacking the nearest person they perceive as unlikely or unable to fight back. When they were in middle school and their stepfathers abused them, they beat up primary school kids. When they got jobs and the business whose managers were foolish enough to hire them started to go under, they attacked subordinate employees (if there were any) or maybe customers (if those customers were children, or old ladies shopping alone). Here we see university students, who have reasonable grounds for concern about lingering pockets of race hate in the world, reacting by...generating more hate. Brilliant, brats. Any university that continues the effort to educate these young fools should lose its accreditation. Black lives matter; I'm not so sure about stupid lives.

Stupidity, of course, has no color. Here's a comment worth sharing on ISIS' latest display of stupidity...

Syrian Refugees 

I stopped nagging about them after reading reports that the U.S. was bringing in, apparently, all the persecuted Christians in Syria and a bunch of other guys who weren't noticeably Christians and, according to some reports, weren't even Syrians. Glenn Beck, who's continued following this issue, grouses again:

Technology did this site get referrals from this site? I'm not sure, but if you've ever looked at different products in a hardware store and wondered what the explanations were supposed to mean, this web site can help; here's a nice readable primer about epoxy glues.

Travel, Virtual 

The Internet is global, and here's an English-language blog from an obscure country students may get extra points for studying about...


Jerry Jenkins endorses an idea that may be familiar to many bloggers...

And here's your chance to help pick the Best Online Essays of 2015. Warning: if you enjoy reading well-written short nonfiction, do not click on this link before you've done any chores you need to finish today. It would be too distracting. This is the medium-length list of nominations for a Golden Giraffes award. The page contains a link to the Long List and invites you to pick one essay for the Short List.

This is more technicalities than writing, but it might conceivably improve somebody's chance of making the medium-length list for a Golden Giraffes some day...

And here's one reason for being a writer...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Morgan Griffith on ISIS and Other Topics

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

"Defeating ISIS
I continue to be horrified and heartbroken by the November 13 coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris. I mourn the innocent victims, pray for them and for their loved ones, and pray for the people of France.

I strongly condemn these attacks. Mr. President, the world needs strong leadership from the US.

Unfortunately, it is all the more clear that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – which claimed responsibility for these attacks – must not be underestimated. Merely 12 hours before the attacks, President Obama claimed that ISIS had been “contained.” I and others –including Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the top Democrat on the Senate’s Intelligence Committee – disagree. “I’ve never been more concerned,” Senator Feinstein said on November 16. “I read the intelligence faithfully. ISIL is not contained. ISIL is expanding.”

ISIL – or ISIS, as I prefer – is a very dangerous terrorist organization, and it must be defeated. Aggressive American air power hitting numerous ISIS locations simultaneously and boots on the ground provided by our Arab allies (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt…) can do the trick. A few American sorties a day are not enough, Mr. President.

Working Together to Support Manufacturing

Last week, I was fortunate to have joined some local officials and industry experts in Abingdon at the Manufacturing and Legislative Council Meeting organized by the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing (SVAM).

Manufacturers present reported that they seek “industrial maintenance” employees who tend to the repair and upkeep of industrial equipment and machines. It was reiterated to us that manufacturing is more than “screwdrivers and wrenches” – manufacturers need employees trained in information technology (IT) and electrical/ mechanical engineering. Today, “industrial maintenance” means not only opening the machine, but being able to work on the machine’s computer systems. Almost every piece of manufacturing equipment is at least partially computer-driven. If you have these skills, you can find a job.

They also need employers who can think for themselves and solve problems.

I can’t help but think that some laid-off workers in the coal-producing regions of Southwest Virginia, with their skills, could fill available industrial maintenance positions. Others may need additional training. I look forward to continuing to work with SVAM, area manufacturers, and local legislators in this regard, and will continue to look for other methods of supporting and growing manufacturing in our region.

Update – Immigration and the Rule of Law

As you may recall, earlier this year I joined a number of my colleagues in the House and the Senate in signing an amicus brief challenging the President’s actions on immigration. This brief was filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a continued injunction against the Obama Administration’s immigration actions in the case of Texas v. United States.

On November 9, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction blocking the Administration from implementing its plan. Reports indicate the Administration will likely appeal to the Supreme Court for consideration.

I have said this before: Though I believe the President’s immigration actions are unconstitutional, this important debate is not about whether you like these policies. It is about whether you like the rule of law.

Medicare Open Enrollment

As a reminder for all our seniors, the Medicare open enrollment period runs through December 7, 2015. During this time, seniors can add, drop, or switch their coverage options. Seniors and family members may wish to review the options to find the plan that best fits their needs. For more information, visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

The Volkswagen Diesel Problem – Are You Affected?

The German car giant has admitted to cheating emissions tests in the US on certain diesel engines from 2009-2015.

My colleagues and I on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are investigating Volkswagen’s actions. To echo Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), “Attempting to deceive regulators and customers is a double whammy of betrayal.”

While VW is attempting to figure out how to fix the diesel problem, they are offering a “Customer Goodwill Package.” That package is predominantly a $500 pre-paid Visa card and a $500 dealership credit.

Consumer Reports notes, “…Volkswagen is calling for owners to submit information online, wait four weeks, then visit a dealership and present a driver’s license, vehicle registration, and title or lease agreement. Owners must claim this award by April 30, 2016.”

Information about the Goodwill Package, including the Program Rules/eligibility, is available on

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tim Kaine on Veterans Day and ISIS (ISIL, IS)

From U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA):

"Today we mark Veterans Day, a time to reflect on the sacrifices of veterans and their families in the Commonwealth and across our great nation. Ensuring members of our veteran community have access to the best care and benefits, as well as resources to help ease the transition to civilian employment, continues to be a top priority of mine in the Senate.
It’s also important to note that as our global challenges become more unpredictable, we are asking more and more of a select few. For more than 15 months, I have been urging my colleagues in Congress to debate and vote on the war against ISIL. As the conflict continues to grow across the Middle East and North Africa, the least we can do before the cost gets any higher is take a vote to authorize this mission and show those who we have asked to risk their lives that we support them.
Thank you to all of our country’s veterans. I’m proud to be in Leesburg today at the George Marshall International Center sharing my appreciation for their bravery throughout our nation’s history. Our men and women in uniform and their families have selflessly sacrificed to keep us safe, and for that we owe them a debt of gratitude."

Robert Hurt on Veterans Day

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt (R-VA-5), edited to remove "table" formatting that kept the text from displaying on the screen:

November 11, 2015
Dear Friend,
Please join me today in recognizing those who have selflessly served to ensure the safety and security of our great nation. Below, you can view our Veterans Day Video Message by clicking the image below, or clicking here.
“Today, we come together as a nation to recognize and pay tribute to our veterans who have selflessly served our country with distinction and heroism.
“I’m here at Charlottesville’s Dogwood Vietnam Memorial, the oldest civic, public memorial in the United States dedicated to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. On November 4, 1965, US Army Specialist Champ Lawson, Jr of Earlysville became the first Albemarle County area man to die serving our nation in Vietnam. Shortly thereafter, Ken Staples, Bill Gentry, and Jim Shisler found themselves at Staple’s Barbershop at the Barracks Road Shopping Center discussing the idea of a memorial for local men who would give the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. A few days later they met here in McIntire Park and decided that this should be the location for the Memorial. Working with the City of Charlottesville and local businesses, the Memorial’s interim construction was completed on January 12, 1966 and the Memorial was dedicated a few months later in April. The memorial bears the name of 24 military personnel who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“Virginia is home to over 800,000 veterans and countless more parents and family members of those in uniform who have made immeasurable sacrifices in the name of American freedom.
“As we reflect on the liberties and opportunities we all hold so dear, we remember that it is our veterans, throughout the generations, who have preserved our way of life. As we are reminded of how fortunate we are to live in this great nation and enjoy these tremendous freedoms, we remember that if it were not for those willing to serve, we would not have these blessings. And as we address our nation’s challenges, we remain committed to preserving our American way of life for those who will come after us, and committed to preserving those very freedoms that so many before us have heroically defended.
“Throughout our history, we have encountered grave challenges, and indeed today our challenges still persist. But our veterans remind us of the courage and perseverance that set Americans apart.
“Next month, we look forward to hosting a series of five commemorative ceremonies across the Fifth District specifically recognizing our Vietnam veterans as we observe the 50th Anniversary of the commencement of combat operations in the Vietnam War. If you, or a Vietnam Veteran you know, is interested in participating in one of these commemorative events, please call our Danville office or visit our website, and look for our Vietnam War Commemoration page under 5th District Services.
“I am proud to serve our veterans in Central and Southside Virginia, and I hope that you will join with me this Veterans Day in thanking all of those who have and continue to serve this great nation.”
Washington, DC - 125 Cannon HOB * Washington, DC 20515 * Phone: (202) 225-4711
Charlottesville - 686 Berkmar Circle * Charlottesville, VA 22901 * Phone: (434) 973-9631
Danville - 308 Craghead St., Suite 102-D * Danville, VA 24541 * Phone: (434) 791-2596
Farmville - 515 S. Main Street, P.O. Box O * Farmville, VA 23901 * Phone: (434) 395-0120

Below, you can view our Veterans Day Video Message by clicking the image below, our clicking here.

Veterans Day Video Message

A 23901 * Phone: (434) 395-0120

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Robert Hurt on Veterans Day

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt (R-VA-5):

"Dear Friend,
As we commemorate Veterans Day tomorrow, we remember with gratitude all those brave service members who throughout American history, have courageously fought to preserve our freedoms. We gather as a nation to honor and pay tribute to those who have selflessly served, and I hope you will join me in thanking all of our veterans – as well as our troops both at home and abroad – who have given so much to defend this great nation.
We owe these heroes a level of care and service worthy of their sacrifice, and while we have made progress in restoring our ability to fulfill that promise, the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to be plagued by mismanagement that is negatively impacting our veterans. Just last week, a report indicated that over 2,500 VA employees took more than a month of paid leave last year, which cost an estimated $23 million in salary alone, yet the VA cannot document or explain the instances. This is another unfortunate example of the culture of carelessness and inefficiency that has pervaded the Department for too long. Ultimately, the President bears the responsibility of changing the course of this agency as our Commander-in-Chief, but he has not done enough to remedy these urgent issues.
Given the heavy price all our soldiers paid, it is clear that we must renew our commitment to care for those who have served and pledge to maintain that commitment to those who will answer the call to serve in the future. It is my belief that applying more private sector scrutiny to the veterans’ health system is one way to bring about greater efficiency and accountability in service delivery. In July, I introduced the Veterans Administration Legislative and Objective Review (VALOR) Act with Congressman Tim Walz (D-Minnesota), which requires that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) undergo a biannual, independent audit by a non-governmental entity. Given all the VA’s major shortcomings, it is clear we must do more to maintain effective oversight over the agency to prevent problems from getting out of control.
The VALOR Act ensures that the VA has another set of eyes on its practices, operations, management, and progress in implementing new reforms. We must be diligent in our effort to change the culture of the VA so it can return to fulfilling its critically important mission - our veterans deserve nothing less.
This year also provides a unique opportunity to recognize veterans who served in Vietnam, as 2015 marks the 50th Anniversary of the commencement of combat operations in the Vietnam War. In early December, I look forward to hosting recognition ceremonies in South Hill, Danville, Bedford, Charlottesville, and Warrenton to recognize the brave men and women who served our country during the Vietnam War era. It is my hope these ceremonies will provide an opportunity to recognize the sacrifices of our veterans, who are indeed our peacemakers.
If you, or a veteran you know, would like to be recognized, please register on our website or call our Danville office at (434) 791-2596. I look forward to honoring these brave men and women who so selflessly served our country.
I am humbled by the opportunity to serve Virginia’s Fifth District veterans, and I hope that you will join with me this Veterans Day in thanking all of those who have and continue to serve this great 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. "

Monday, November 9, 2015

Morgan Griffith on Changing the House Rules

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

Congressman Griffith's Special Edition E-Newsletter 11.6.15
Friday, November 6, 2015 –

Though we will be sending our weekly e-newsletter on Monday, November 9, I hope you are interested in this special edition e-newsletter in the meantime.

Changing the House – Continued

Those who have followed my public statements for the last several years know I have been concerned about the rules in the House and in the Senate. The rules we have been working under are not working for the American people or towards an efficient legislative body. I have great hope that we may be seeing the beginning of a change towards a better process, particularly over the last couple of months.

I believe that a more transparent rules process and greater input on legislative action from the Republican Conference membership at large will better represent and serve the interests of the American people.

Over the last couple of months, I have engaged in discussions with various groups within the House Republican Conference to make changes to our Conference Rules and House Rules. About a month ago, I was asked to serve on a working group to propose rules changes. This group has been regularly meeting in the evenings to review rules change proposals. In fact, one day last week, I had a proposal in my left breast pocket, a proposal in my right breast pocket, a proposal in my back pocket, and a proposal tucked into my copy of Jefferson’s Manual of Parliamentary Practice.

Then this week, I was named by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) to serve on a new task force working to reform the House Republican Steering Committee, which determines committee chairmanships and helps to set policy. It is too early to tell if these changes will bring about the desired effect, but even if these are just baby steps, I am proud of the fact that finally there is hope of reforming this body. Stay tuned.

Changing the Senate – A First Step

Speaking of baby steps, the Senate may be willing to make changes to one of its rules – the modern filibuster/cloture process.

Those of you who have been following my column and public statements are aware I have been urging the U.S. Senate to abandon its modern filibuster/cloture rules and revert to the historical processes since 2012. Doing so I believe would allow more bills to be considered, debated, and voted on, more compromises to be reached, and more progress to be made on the important issues of the day such as growing jobs and our economy.

I am pleased by a recent POLITICO story indicating that some Republican Senators are starting to agree with me on this, at least when it comes to government spending measures, given that Senate Democrats filibustered “…all funding bills and ultimately [forced] budget negotiations that led to a sweeping fiscal deal last week.” The story also notes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has assigned a group of Senators to see what rules changes are possible.

This is an encouraging first step. I will update you on any developments."