Monday, September 28, 2015

Link Log for September 28

Categories: Animals, Food (Fight), Global Warming, Phenology Links, Politics, Words, Youth Behaving Well


Youall probably saw the baby panda pictures before I did. Here's a note on Bei Bei's name:


During the War Between the States, a battle was technically won by high school boys. After the battle had raged all day within sight from Virginia Military Institute, the students wanted to go out and fight, and those over age sixteen were at last allowed to do so. After realizing that the last dozen or so bodies that had fallen belonged to "children," the Northern troops surrendered.

This was not, however, the oddest episode that decided a battle in U.S. history. Dan Lewis describes how a battle in 1943 was actually decided by a food fight.

Global Warming 

Was global warming theory, with inaccurate numbers and all, part of a strategic plan to reduce people's awareness of the fact of local warming? Not that this web site supports conspiracy theories, like the one suggested by this far-from-right-wing writer. But the possibility exists. While decrying (or denying) the hysteria about Florida or California being underwater in thirty years, people do, in fact, overlook the effect their driving two miles has on the local climate. In my part of the world they wail, for multiple minutes that can easily feel like hours, about the heat and the humidity, but don't like to think about how much they directly contribute to both.

Phenology Links 

Liz Klimas shares images of last night's lunar eclipse:

Does "blood on the moon" really portend that someone's going to die? Well, someone usually is, somewhere...and the reddish color of the moon is enhanced by air pollution.


Whom do you want to replace John Boehner? asks this National Review columnist. "Grassroots conservatives, here's your chance." I don't know. I like Congressman Griffith, so far; there are no perfect people and if there were they wouldn't be able to represent the Fightin' Ninth District, but I think the job he's been doing representing us is well above average. Many conservatives disapprove of their "Congress-critters." Do you? Or do you think yours should be Speaker? The National Review wants to know.

Do you ever wish Dave Barry really were a candidate?


The easiest way to get around gender issues is to violate grammar and use the plural "they," which can mean "both she and he," to mean "either he or she." How much cognitive-dissonance-as-pain would it cause to make "they" the formal substitute for either "he" or "she," saving "he" and "she" for descriptions of two-person exchanges, perhaps? Can "they" displace "he" and "she" the way "you" displaced "thou"? If it did, would "they" generate "theyall" or "those" forms, analogous to "youall" and "youse"?

Youth Behaving Well 

Here's a college freshman who doesn't want to read a graphic novel that contains drawings of women doing things it would be inappropriate for a young man they didn't know to watch them doing. On principle. Cheers for him. What I want to know is what kind of teacher, in what kind of course, assigns graphic novels instead of the classics of world literature. I happen to have read several of Alison Bechdel's graphic novels. They're cute and witty and, among educated adult feminists, they resold fast, partly because they are brain candy that offers no challenge to our minds. They're the kind of thing female baby boomers read to relax--Lifetime Channel Lite. For what class do students need to ignore the classics of literature and philosophy, and "study" cute, inane cartoons of the private lives of fictional lesbians? Why do they need to pay tuition to talk about popular works of fiction that need no historical background study and have yet to generate a body of critical scholarship? What does this teacher offer students that's worthy of the name of "university"?

Morgan Griffith on the Pope and John Boehner

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

"Pope and Change

We experienced an historic moment last week when Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of Congress, the first Pope in our nation’s history to do so. I was in attendance to hear his remarks to the people of the United States.

Regardless of your religious beliefs or political leanings, Pope Francis’ words were thought-provoking. While others in the media have focused on other comments, I appreciated his having emphasized the importance of family and marriage, and was pleased when he said, “the golden rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of development.”

Also, fairly early in his remarks, Pope Francis referred to the fight of those aspiring to achieve the American Dream, mentioning “…the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day's work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and — one step at a time — to build a better life for their families.” On this, the Pope and I agree. On how people of other nations might come to the United States and participate in the American Dream, the Pope and I might disagree. Our laws on immigration clearly need to be simplified, but they must be followed.

Speaking of the American Dream, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) – himself a Catholic – has sought to get the Pope to the Capitol for approximately 20 years. And when I reflect now on Pope Francis’ allusion to the quest for the American Dream, I can’t help but think of the Speaker, who grew up working at his family’s modest bar in Ohio and who worked as a janitor to help fund his education.

In other words, Speaker Boehner spent his whole life chasing the American Dream. In few other nations, if any, could the son of a barkeep rise to such heights – Speaker of the House, second in succession for the Presidency.

On September 25, the day after Pope Francis’ remarks, Speaker Boehner announced he would be resigning from Congress at the end of October. While it is no secret that he and I had some disagreements, Speaker Boehner is an honorable, decent man. I respect him and his service, I respect his decision, and I am truly glad for him that, after many years of persistence and faith, he was able to host the Pope in our nation’s capital.

Leadership – whether leading a religious faith, a legislative body, or a different entity – is a challenging responsibility. As the House of Representatives prepares to move forward, many discussions will continue taking place regarding our future leadership. I will work closely and actively with my colleagues to find for the job a candidate or candidates who will follow regular order and the principles of Thomas Jefferson’s Manual of Parliamentary Practice. Currently, with the Republicans in control of the House, this should mean more conservative victories, and if the American people elect a Democrat majority, more victories for the left. After all, the House of Representatives by its design is supposed to reflect the will of the American people across the country.

Lately, under both Democrat and Republican speakers, a handful of people in back rooms make all of the decisions. I hope the next Speaker will return to allowing the Committee process and the floor to work its will for the betterment of the American people.

Change of a Different Type

Speaking of change, let’s talk about money – from nickels and dimes to billion-dollar deals.

Recently, with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI), I led a letter to President Obama calling for strong, enforceable protections against currency manipulation in the final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. 154 other Members of Congress signed on to our letter.

While I have serious concerns about TPP and especially the Trade Promotion Authority that Congress granted to the President, I firmly believe that we cannot get a good trade deal with countries if they continue to manipulate their currency and leverage an unfair trade advantage which hurts our American economy and decimates our businesses and jobs. Countries like China and Vietnam have been accused of doing this in the past.

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."

Announcement: Conceptual Fiction and Blogjob

From time to time, usually when commenting on other people's science-fiction-related posts, I've mentioned writing conceptual fiction. Some people have mentioned wanting to read, free of charge.

Well, Blogjob is currently offering a way you can do that. Blogjob is an ad-funded site that reportedly pays bloggers who post regularly. In order to avoid running out of money and cheating writers, the way Bubblews and Chatabout and some other sites have done, they limit the number of posts per blogger per day. I've set up a pattern of posting one book review and one other full-length post per day; that allows a limited amount of socializing. By qualifying as a "Social Networker," I'd get to add one more post and some more socializing. That would make room for the novel-in-blog-form I've mentioned, if anyone seriously wants to read it.

So, what you do is click on this link...

...and set up your own Blogjob accounts.

Why would I encourage you to do that?

Setting up a Blogjob account allows you to socialize with Blogjob bloggers and, if you blog regularly and have a following, slowly accumulate points toward a cash payment. Whether you blog regularly or not, two uses of the link qualify me as a "Social Networker" and make room for the fictional blog site in which you'd get to explore my conceptual fiction world.

How much will it cost you?

So far as I can tell, it's absolutely free...then again Yahoo's spam filter has always trapped hundreds of spam e-mails, ever since the AC days. I've not seen the volume of spam increase, but that's not a guarantee. No garbage e-mail from Blogjob. You can choose whether or not to receive e-mail from e-friends, groups, comments on your posts if you set up a Blogjob blog site, etc. Some Blogjob blog themes are browser-friendlier than others. Some run annoying but harmless Chitika ads; some (like mine) run only safe, harmless Ad Sense ads.

How much can you earn?

Don't count on Blogjob to pay any bills. Think of it as a slow-moving social site for people who really want to know what their friends are thinking and doing, as distinct from merely checking on their health. Earnings are capped but, if you blog daily from the U.S., you could earn US$300-400 per year.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Link Log for September 27

This is such a tiny Link Log I'd wait and add links tomorrow if the Florida link weren't so timely. Categories: Books, Florida, Politics.


Neil Gaiman's news:

My book review for today:


Lloyd Marcus is doing a concert Monday evening:


According to this Yougov survey, about 60% of U.S. respondents think "non-Christians" generally should be able to serve as President of the United States, and 40% think Muslims should.

I don't agree. While I see no reason why a Humanist should have to pretend to be a Christian (I think our current President is a Humanist and should be able to admit it), or why we couldn't have a Jewish concern about Muslims, Mormons, and Catholics in the White House is not about the individuals (who may be well qualified) but about their connections to large, ambitious organizations that have been known to pursue greater influence than the Constitution was written to allow any religious organization to wield. Sometimes, in the past, this influence has been pursued through nefarious and un-American means. It's not that individual Muslims, Mormons, and Catholics aren't fine human beings; some are. It's that, if and because they are fine individual human beings, they wouldn't even be aware of the murky machinations of the organizations behind them. Which could range from discrimination to outright subversion of our constitutional democratic republic.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Link Log for September 24

Yesterday was a long day in the content mill. No time for e-mail or socializing. Today, I have an hour. Categories: Animals, Christian, Comics, Cyberspace, Food (Yum), Music, Politics, Science, Video.


Site dedicated to fun facts:


Liz Curtis Higgs on honesty:


I laughed out loud when I scrolled down to the post for August 11. Where did you laugh out loud first?


Someone sent a couple of interesting-looking links to displayed an arrogant, annoying message saying they don't support my browser and ordering me to "UPGRADE NOW," then proceeded to crash my browser. Right. Lesson learned: This web site will no longer support in any way. If you want to promote the work of a good writer who, due to desperation, has sold a good piece of writing to, please copy the text and e-mail it as a Word file, or print the page, photocopy the printout, and e-mail it as a JPG. In order to qualify for the patronage of my Gentle Readers or me, will need to (1) fix their site so that it works for whatever browser their patrons choose to use, (2) e-mail an apology to anyone who deigns to revisit their site using a browser they have previously dissed, and (3) include a $100 payment for the favor of our patronage.

I feel guilty. I mentioned here that had allowed its ads to become more annoying than's ads were, and suggested that something in New York was not obnoxious. Obviously, was obligated to rectify that. New York City is profoundly obnoxious.

Food (Yum) 

Pears in a truck...I started with a comment addressed to Andria Perry, then thought of local lurkers.


Richard Whittaker interviews Gabriel Meyer:


Jim Babka picks up a hot potato with this temporary link:


This one is less controversial than many of John1282's posts. If the link works for your browser, it's not exactly news to pet owners--just more and freshly detailed--but interesting, I say:


Dan Lewis found the full-length (three-hour) "Merlin" video on Youtube for free.

Has Google Fixed This? (Edited with updates)

Any time a company changes hands, people who use their product or service can expect problems as people try to fix things that were working just fine. For an example, if you use Google Chrome, check your "New Tab" tab.

It's supposed to show one-click images of the sites you visit most often. In my case, in order to be useful, those would currently be:

* my hack writing site

* Amazon

* Blogspot

* Blogjob

* Live Journal

* Twitter

* Freedomworks

* Morguefile

Last week the "thumbnails" were messing up; inappropriate buttons from commercial sites I'd visited only once were displacing buttons I use regularly. Others were complaining about this too.

This week, the "thumbnails" seem to be looking the way they should look again. Thank you, Google. Anyway, Plus or Twitter this article if you agree:

The way a web page looks (and works) is the way it should look (and work) until the user wants to change it. All changes are inconveniences. Never, never, never change a web page until the user requests the change.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Long Link Log for September 23

Stuck in Kingsport, due to illness, not mine. Lots of links. Categories: Animals, Books, Crafts, Food, Girl Power, Green, Music, Sports, Traffic Safety, Words.



Now, here's a seriously controversial idea: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, should stop protecting bears. Or let's say, we should protect bears who have a healthy instinct to avoid humans, but if a bear is within sight from a house or a paved road, that bear is saying "I'm tired of living."


This (below the rant) is an interesting post. Not so much the tally of statistics that prove that, when fiction awards are given out in the United States, they are probably always going to be given to writers who are well distributed and well known here; 75% U.S., 10% U.K., up to 5% Canadian and 10% "other" (meaning mostly the other English-speaking countries, and meaning that, most years, Australia will be represented and Kenya won't) probably does reflect the best efforts of a panel of people who value cultural diversity to make a diverse selection. Even books that are successful in England aren't necessarily published here, and many books that are successful even in England or Canada aren't necessarily likely to be understood here. Authors like Chinua Achebe, whose novels about Africa are simple enough to make sense to American readers, are likely to be read as writing on a primary school level with some adult content mixed in. Authors like Wole Soyinka and Salman Rushdie...I've read Rushdie's nonfiction and his children's book and liked them, but I had to ask friends about a lot of things in those of his novels that I read, and remained aware that I was missing a lot of references. I can see a lot of Americans, including English majors, bogging down in a book like Grimus just because they don't hang out with people from India. We have to choose whether to be pedantic and make little notes, or just let things elude our understanding, even when reading a book by somebody like Margaret Atwood who's lived in the U.S. and at least has enough information to know when she's saying something most of us won't get. So there's just no way, even if an equal number of people in Venezuela were equally talented writers, that an equal number of books from Venezuela would win U.S. literary awards. We wouldn't know a good Venezuelan book if it hit us on the head. Not because we're bigots, but because we're ordinary mortals who are doing well if we understand one culture well enough to judge its literature.

But consider the list of science fiction writers at the end of Lynnoconnacht's post. Did you ever think of Rushdie as a science fiction writer? Of Italo Calvino? Do you, for that matter, think of Atwood as one? If not, to what extent is that because your definition of science fiction is less about "fiction that speculates about a current scientific question" than it is about "second-rate"?

For those who'd like to raise their cultural diversity levels a teensy bit, here's the reading list of an Indian book lover:

In a different literary vein, altogether: Ridley Pearson:

And, in yet another...This web site is a niche bookstore, specializing in material that helps people who've had an Illiberal Left education recover some balance.

And, finally...strictly for laughs, Gentle Readers:


Natalie Ford knits some more pretty socks:

Food (Yuck) 

Beware of Mexican cucumbers! Actually I've had salmonella and would rather have it than GMO-contaminated corn or rice, any day and twice on Sunday. However, can we link this news item to the one below? Yes. Local, organically grown cucumbers may be odd-sized, odd-shaped, unwaxed and all that, but they're less likely to make us sick, because nobody in my neighborhood uses raw sewage as fertilizer.

Girl Power

There are more like Malala Yousafzai. Awesome teenagers, I mean.


Saving the endangered (natural, sustainable, Green) family farm:


The graphic at the top of this post makes the real point. About some other things Lloyd Marcus says in the post, I will say that when people are trying to reach across a gap, sometimes they try too hard to reach too far. Like I think it's appropriate that the city of Baltimore paid compensation to the Gray family. The timing, amount, manner, etc., may have been "appeasement" but some compensation was due. But this post started out with "The Star-Spangled Banner," which is Maryland's great gift to the nation.

One afternoon in the early spring when I was eight years old, I was goofing off at home as usual, and my mother came up to me with the Girl Scout Manual in hand. She said, "Here are all the words to 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' Can you sing it?" I could not. She said, "Well, it's our national anthem, and you need to know how to sing it." So I spent that afternoon learning "The Star-Spangled Banner."

I already knew "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," the one the teacher felt capable of teaching us at school, and "America the Beautiful," the one my grandmother had been capable of teaching me during the last year of her life. (This was the grandmother who had been declared dead at the age of thirty-five, who was in fact disabled between the ages of seventy and seventy-one.)

In every country there are certain old songs, one of which is the official national anthem, that everybody should know. The United States is a big country and has several of these songs. "Hail Columbia" is another fairly formal song, not too easy to sing, but if you're a "USAmerican" you should know it. "God Bless America" is an easy one to sing. "Lift Every Voice" is fairly easy. Some of the songs about our individual States are pretty hard to sing with a straight face, but everybody should know their own State songs.


Calling all guy-watchers...what do you think? Does Detroit Lion Don Carey have what it takes to be a poster boy for the idea of young men not causing abortions? Check it out: looks, money, multiple talents, the beginning of the right thoughts...and the position he plays is described as "Strong Safety." That's quite a ball of opportunity that's been thrown his way, now let's see him run with it.

Traffic Safety 

Bad news for Gate City...but maybe it'll call attention to the fact that motor vehicles kill many times more Americans than firearms do, every year.


How AP tells writers to avoid political neutrality...see my comment at the Blaze post.

And here's a severely confused White guy...according to police, one of the two White guys the cop is separating, here, was screaming about the other one's "White privilege." Well, of his mind, he's a Klingon.

Phenology: Dancing with Leaves

It's been a while since this web site has displayed a phenology post. There's been a reason for that. I've not been out in nature enough.

In order to earn money (US$1-2 per hour if you go by hours) as a hack writer, I've been commuting to Kingsport, Tennessee. In order to get a free ride out there, I've been leaving home at 5 or 6 a.m. or sometimes earlier. I've been coming back at 7 or 8 p.m. or sometimes later, and a few nights I've stayed in Kingsport. I'm working out of Grandma Bonnie Peters' basement, a lovely big barn of a room that stays cool in summer and warm in winter, with room for all the grandchildren's sleeping bags on the floor. It's quiet and comfortable, frugally well lighted with lots of fluorescent tubes in different tones for clear natural-looking light, and as all GBP's friends know, the problem is knowing when to stop eating the fresh, delicious, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and mostly sugar-free food GBP cooks and serves. (You can't just cook meals for her in return--you have to restock her pantry with the pricey things she eats.) It's a pleasant place to spend the night, if stuck in the city. Most days the air conditioning even filters out the smell of Kingsport air. But I'm always eager to get back to my own home and the cats and the orchard and all.

This morning I finally squeezed in some time for a walk around the Cat Sanctuary, and what I noticed most was autumn leaves.

Most people in Gate City aren't accustomed to thinking of autumn leaves as an economic resource, although the fact is that autumn leaves attract our favorite kind of tourists. Even when I was growing up here, the local woods were still recovering from excessive logging. Tulip poplar leaves turn yellow, maple leaves turn yellow or red, and dogwood leaves turn reddish purple, in September...and after that, in the 1970s, that was it, and the hills looked bare and drab until May. You had less than a week to feast your eyes on autumn foliage, and some years, during that week, it rained.

Autumn is a prettier season now. We have more of a mix of hardwood trees. If you can't visit beautiful Scott County this weekend, as the dogwoods and tulip poplars do their thing, there should be plenty of color left to enjoy for another month or two. Lots of leaves to crunch under your feet, around the Natural Tunnel or in your friends' or relatives' woodlot. Bright, breezy afternoons, warm sun on your face, migrating birds.

This year, I'm seeing a lot of leaves start to turn brown just because it's been a long, dry, mellow late-summer season. We've not come anywhere close to frost yet. Dogwoods, tulip poplars, sycamores, and some maples show their colors in September because their annual cycle is based on light more than temperature. They "see" the days growing shorter and prepare for autumn whether the temperatures are hot or cold. Oaks and beeches stay green until they feel frost. Some leaves turn brown just because it's been dry. What crunched under my feet this morning were mostly brown leaves. Purple dogwood, yellow sycamore and tulip poplar, and bright red leaves on just one (probably designer-hybridized) maple tree, are still clinging to the trees today and may stay on into the weekend.

Birds are migrating. You might see them do cute things if you're paying attention at this time of year. Last week serious birdwatchers converged on the wide spot in a back road known as Mendota, Virginia, to count migrating hawks. This morning, while GBP was sitting in her car, she saw a transient flicker inspect her deck, lilac bush, and pine tree for ants. (He didn't find any.)

Although nights have been mild and days have been quite warm this month, the time to dig out winter gear is here. I just laundered my smaller Blanket Shawl. GBP, who chills easily, has already been getting a lot of wear out of a jacket I knitted for her in 1996. (It was knitted in Red Heart Super Saver acrylic, which may stretch a bit but otherwise wears like iron, and it looks like a new oversized jacket if you don't remember...yes, if it were human, it'd be old enough to vote.) If you don't already own a selection of hand-knitted sweaters for comfort on all occasions, lurkers, please check the Lamplight Theatre's weekend bazaar. I have a few pieces on display there and am preparing more for a bigger display from October through Christmas at the Haggle Shop. By preparing I mean, mostly, letting the mothball odor air out.

If you shop early, you'll have new and beautiful gifts for everyone to put on when the nights get frosty. By putting on I mean on the bed, as well as on their backs. I have sweaters to suit every body on these displays, still have some sweater kits in stock--btw readers who knit could buy kits and patterns from me, if they want the fun of knitting their own sweaters their own way--but these days, when I think about buying yarn, I'm thinking cotton towels, bed covers, chair covers, car seat covers, insulating window covers, even trendy new mock headboard designs to hang on the wall above the bed. Your ideas are welcome.

Meanwhile, although I'm a knitter partly in order to corner a niche market in this part of the country, about a dozen crocheters and quilters are breaking out their winter displays too. However, when I was selling crafts in that grim unheated warehouse, I would not have liked to sit for hours underneath quilts, knitting, while the temperature hovered just above freezing. Crocheted afghans might have been cozier than quilts; underneath knitted blankets and shawls, I was practically comfortable. Quilts look lovely and traditional in a warm house, but if you must travel in winter, knitted blankets are what you need to have in the car.

As we all know, the cooler nights, bright yellow flowers, and few colorful leaves we're seeing this week are nature's little seasonal I need to type those familiar keywords like storm windows, flu shots, firewood, strawberry bed, insulation, or snow tires?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Link Log for September 22

Categories: Books, Good News, Green, Weird. No politics today! (I've been down the content mine.)


Today's book review:

Thanks to Elizabeth Barrette for sharing this link where we can see Tolkien's Middle Earth as Tolkien saw it:

Good News 

Weird news is not usually heart-warming, but Dan Lewis's weird story for the day...


Or is this one another Clue for the Clueless?

Here's a long but much more pleasant article from Richard Louv:

If you'd rather read an essay that long in printed form, here's where to get the book:

Weird News (Not Good) 

Physical abuse of husbands by wives is rare, and stories about it tend to smell fishy, because in almost all married couples the husband can run faster. Husbands who report being battered by their wives, this web site suspects, really have asked for it. Maybe it was just too much tickling and pillow fighting; maybe he provoked her to hit him in order to have an excuse for something he intended to do, or had already done. (Physical abuse of disabled patients, male or female, is common--but it's usually neglect or mis-medication, rather than battery.) However...after careful deliberation, what this wife apparently had done and intended to keep doing, at every opportunity, seems wrong to this web site. Well, obviously the guy expected it. Probably he'd all but literally begged for it, knowing that he'd set up a camera to record it as evidence that he shouldn't have to share custody of the children with her. Probably he even deserved it. All the same: pas devant les enfants...Thanks (?) to Dave Barry for sharing this link.

Florida husband abuse story

Morgan Griffith on Oil Drilling

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

"A Ban and an Energy Boom

Virtually no one would have predicted just a decade ago that the United States would soon transform into an energy-producing powerhouse. Regardless, we have, and our nation is now one of the world’s leading producers of oil and natural gas.

But there is action that can and should be taken in order to help sustain this success: lifting the outdated ban on crude oil exports.

This is not a partisan issue. As Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) explained in a recent opinion piece, “A relic of the Nixon administration, the national ban on crude oil was a failed price control policy then and now is nothing more than an unnecessary restriction on one single industry that exists nowhere else in our economy—preventing it from selling its commodity on the global market.”

Last week, my colleagues and I on the Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 702, a bill authored by Congressmen Joe Barton (R-TX) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) to lift the nearly 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. This legislation is expected for consideration by the full House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

The ban was first implemented at a time during which there were fears about the scarcity of domestic oil. But that ship has sailed, and the ban is no longer justified. The development of new technologies led to an increase in drilling activity around the nation, resulting in the United States’ role as one of the world’s largest producers of oil.

Lifting this ban could have several benefits.

While I believe lifting the oil export ban will have little impact on the price of gasoline at the pump, some believe that it may actually decrease the price. In fact, some studies have shown that lifting the ban would flatten or even reduce domestic gas prices. For example, a study from the Obama Administration’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA, an agency that collects, analyzes, and disseminates energy information) indicates that in the America, “gasoline prices, would be either unchanged or slightly reduced by the removal of current restrictions on crude oil exports.”

Additionally, a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates that eliminating the ban would “increase the size of the economy, with implications for employment, investment, public revenue and trade.”

And as the Wall Street Journal noted in a 2013 editorial, “lifting the ban would lead to more domestic production, which means more jobs in oil drilling and services and everything that goes along with such growth.” Thus, lifting the ban on crude oil exports would create jobs all over the country. One place at which lifting this ban could create jobs is at the Russell County metals manufacturer Steel Fab, which makes large tanks that are used by the oil and gas industry. When I visited them on September 21, they told me that they make tanks for all ends of the economic spectrum, and that have recently sent a very large tank to be used in Texas.

Finally, lifting the ban would provide our allies around the world with the ability to import American oil rather than oil from Russia or Iran. With this Administration having supported the lifting of Iran’s ban on oil exports should come their support for lifting the ban on American exports.

President Obama in the past has sarcastically described Republicans’ energy strategy as: “Step one is drill, and step two is drill, and then step three is keep drilling.” Instead, we believe in an all-of-the-above energy policy in which we dig, discover, deregulate, and – yes – drill in order to secure our energy future, provide jobs, and keep costs low.

I suspect to President Obama’s chagrin, “drill baby drill” has worked as a strategy far better than he ever expected. Since this “drill baby drill” strategy is working, let’s lift the ban on crude oil exports once and for all, and do our part to ensure this strategy continues working into the future.

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."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Link Log for September 21

Categories: Book, Cyberspace, Flower (Phenology), Frugal, News of the Weird, Politics, Writing.


Today's book review:


Have I ever mentioned how much I haaaate Skype? I'm pleased to read that the program that's crashed so many more worthwhile programs finally crashed itself, instead.


Melody Rose discusses, at Dave's Garden, the late-blooming Bidens I failed to spot and currently have vining up around a privet bush under the office window at the Cat Sanctuary. Two years ago I posted a photo of ladies-thumbs, in August, growing four feet high with the support of this bush. This year the ladies-thumbs are low, modest, grassy-looking things, the way they usually are, but this sunflower-like Bidens is pushing the size limits for its species.

Dave's Garden also shared a post about the plant called Felicia (yes, there's a plant species by that name; the flowers can also be called blue daisies). Unfortunately the page behaved so badly that I wouldn't feel right recommending it. Please work on this, Dave.


Something I'd like for Christmas...obviously it wouldn't work at the Cat Sanctuary as well as it works in Arizona, but with a storage and backup system it would probably meet my energy needs. Coal-free at last.

News of the Alarmingly Weird 

People who should not, ever, drive cars:


I'm not sure how good a cross-section of the U.S.A. you get on a car-free island...but....


How do you beat procrastination?

Not by mushiness, and I'm not sure what this touchy-feely post might boil down to if held over a good fire of skepticism, but I think she's trying to tell writers that we're all right if we don't bog down hopelessly in feelings about ourselves. Which is true.

Some ideas about fantasy fiction:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Link Log for September 20

Categories: Christian, Clue for the Clueless


Some good thoughts on the virtue of humility:

Interesting to see how thoroughly a book I bought, not even ten years ago, has been suppressed...

Clue for the Clueless 

Why does this web site even waste its time posting reminders for people who probably don't know how to read?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Link Log for September 18

Happy Twitterday, Gentle Readers! It's Twitterday in anticipation of the #HeritageActionForum online event. Anyway, what Twitterday always means to this web site is more links from more new sources. Categories: Animals, Art, Books, Crafts, Kids, Poems, Politics, Scams.


Worldwide...on this photo page, relatives of Paddington Bear in Darkest Peru, the seasonally toxic quails that made the ancient Israelites sick in the Bible, and an Amanda moth. And more.


Sharon McGovern draws animals, and some people:


Actually this review is more a recommendation of Elizabeth and Leicester than of Kenilworth.


The world's biggest knitted doll:


Not only was Ahmed Mohamed targeted because he's a Muslim; first, he was targeted because he's a kid.


As a leader in the field of Bad Poetry, I pronounce "Rhymes Against Humanity" a grandiose title, dooming Gene Weingarten's efforts to the category of...Poems.

Here, for comparison, is a bit of Bad Poetry:


Although one of the best political polls I've seen online identifies Scott Walker's policy statements as one whole percentage point more compatible with mine than Ben Carson's, Rand Paul's, or Ted Cruz's, his apparently taking an old joke seriously raised some chortles in other countries. I'm glad this Canadian thinks it's funny; from here it looks like plain old pork...

But it's nothing compared to this guy's National Bankruptcy Plan.

Full-length questions for each candidate here:


Why Planned Parenthood should receive no federal funding, and some may want to stop supporting them privately, too:

Questions for Candidates

In the e-mail there's an assignment: Generate questions to ask candidates "Trump, Carson, Bush, Cruz, Rubio, Fiorina, Walker, Christie, Rand, Santorum and Jindal." (sic)

My brain is tired, Gentle Readers. I've been working on too many different, small, potboiler projects, too fast. There is a faint, horrible possibility that some of The Nephews could become orphans. And I'm trying to figure out the new, improved system for embedding Amazon links into my blog posts; starting today, instead of random Amazon links in the sidebar, you should see a link to any book, or to a book by any author, mentioned in the text. (Two or more links to an author's name, in one post, means two or more recommended books.) If the respondent hadn't mentioned a list, my own list of candidates would have been "Carson, Paul, Clinton, the two bad jokes and a lot of other people."

However, now that I'm looking at their names, I do remember these Republicans. Ten politicians (and a spoiler) are enough to have in one room; the other Republicans have their points but should probably be encouraged to save their money for another year. Some of this lot should save their money, too: form coalitions, look for lower-profile positions that build their national name recognition (and campaign coffers), run for President later--the younger ones should have many chances ahead. Excluding Democrats makes things simpler but also makes this exercise the kind of Republican-fest where I think Grandma Bonnie Peters fits in, but I, as an independent swing voter, do not. So I conferred with GBP. We tried to think of a reasonably tough question for each Republican, even the ones for whom we'd probably vote, and here are some questions for them:

1. Question for BAHH the Bankruptcy Billionnaire: What, exactly, did the Clintons do to persuade you to nominate yourself? I don't hate you, but I have despised you since your first bogus bankruptcy in the Reagan Administration, and your bogus campaign is taking my opinion of you lower by the day. Go home.

[Before the official question for Ben Carson] Your plan for ending Obamacare doesn't go far enough to suit me, but since Governor Jindal is in this too, I'll save that question for him. This question is for you because GBP said it would be a deal breaker for her...and she's an active Seventh-Day Adventist:

2. Question for Ben Carson: Were you accurately quoted as saying that you would support mandatory vaccinations? If so, what persuaded you to abandon (a) Leviticus 17:14, which expresses ethical rather than medical objections to introducing any other creature's blood or serum into one's own body, and (b) the individual freedom of conscience your Protestant tradition has so long upheld, and (c) your own "Best/Worst Analysis" model of decision-making?

3. Question for Jeb Bush: Given that your brother's administration triggered the well-known blood feud mentality in much of the Arab world and stirred up a hornet's nest of terrorists and guerrillas who see their acts of violence as tragic heroism, why have you even considered seeking national office?

(You have found better ways to serve the country before, Jeb Bush, and you will again. Go home. You have a good record as Governor of Florida. Most of our Florida contacts like you. You were meant to do better things than cause wars.)

4. Question for Ted Cruz: You are not a natural-born citizen of the United States. Considering that you were brought up as a U.S. citizen from infancy, I think the technicality about your having been born in Canada is silly. But it is in the law. So why are you campaigning for a position from which you are barred by law, rather than campaigning to change the law?

5. Question for Marco Rubio: Your stated policy on immigration mentions a case-by-case basis. I personally think that makes more sense than a lot of immigration policies we've heard. Your Republican base do not. How will you resolve this conflict with the people you would be elected to represent?

6. Question for Carly Fiorina: You are a world-class public speaker and debater. That's one important qualification for a President. What are your others? Your business career was somewhat less successful than some legitimate "outsider" candidates', and you've not yet had a political career. What made you think you should dive directly into a presidential campaign rather than a gubernatorial or senatorial campaign?

7. Question for Scott Walker: Granted that a wall along the Canadian border would be a big job creation scheme...and that it's also a vintage Garrison Keillor seriously are you taking this idea, or expecting others to take a campaign that features it? (Our e-friend Julito in Canada had some fun with this one this week: .)

8. Question for Chris Christie: You are the only non-author in this group (the spoiler has had books published in his name, although this web site doesn't recommend them), but you obviously are doing something right. Our Republican contacts were disowning you years ago. You have no support in our part of the world, none among GBP's "Christian Right" contacts, and none among my "Moderate Right Libertarian" contacts. So, whoall do support you, and why, and what makes you and them believe you can win the election?

[Before the real question for Senator Paul] I'm typing these questions and I say people who are still mixing up your name with either Ron Paul's or Phil Roe's have a problem. That should not be your problem. When I kept mixing up people, like the writers Richard Wright and James Baldwin, I sat down and read enough of their books to get separate images of them clearly fixed in my mind, so as not to sound ignorant or senile.

So, 9. Question for Rand Paul: You are a real libertarian. In the Senate, and on domestic policy issues, I love that. I'd like to see more of it in Congress and some of it in the White House as well. I'm asking this as a person who's lost a great deal of money, and what most people would call success, by behaving honorably toward someone who had no honor. There is just one place for authoritarian, anti-libertarian thinking. That is in armed forces at war. You are a man of peace; you understand peace far better than most politicians do. You are a Christian and a healer and a bridge builder. Many Republicans fear, for valid reasons, that we're likely to see a military attack on American soil during the next eight years. Of course a President is expected to consult military leaders about military issues--that's what the Pentagon is for. But, in the event of war, how would you reconcile being a natural-born Peace Chief with having to function as a War Chief?

10. Question for Rick Santorum: You are known as a devout, practicing Catholic. We've had a Catholic President before, and the thing people like to forget is that he was controversial and distrusted until he was murdered. And he was a secular Catholic. Why would our Protestant majority support you in place of Governor Huckabee? Why would our numerous non-Christian minorities support you at all?

Though all of my known ancestors have been Protestants since at least the sixteenth century, I've worked with Catholics who were good and trustworthy people. Also Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Humanists, Buddhists, and Pagans who were the same. In most positions I'd have no reservations about backing a Catholic, a Mormon, or a Muslim. For a President of the United States I think those three religious groups are too well organized and too devious to be trusted. No matter how fine the individual man or woman might be, any of those organizations behind him or her just does not belong in our national government.

[Before the question for Bobby Jindal] We have a stereotype of how a leader should look; that stereotype has hurt Candidate Fiorina, it's hurt Senator Paul, and it's probably hurt you more than either of them. People rethink their stereotypes slowly. It's only recently that we've admitted that Dr. Carson actually fits the stereotype for how a leader should look, perfectly, as soon as you remove "Caucasian" from the specifications for that stereotype. Going by a web search I just did, I think the electorate may need some more time to get accustomed to seeing you as a leader. But "Why can't you wait and build your record, recognition, and also campaign fund, by supporting an older candidate whose image is currently more presidential, and who may not have the other chances you probably will have" is a group question for all younger candidates. It's not that forty is "too young"; it's that qualified forty-year-olds should want to line up behind qualified sixty-year-olds.

11. Question for Bobby Jindal: You have more to recommend you than I think most voters realize. You've actually managed to shrink the cost of a government while being part of it, and while that government was carrying the weight of recovery from a disaster. You claim to have the solution to Obamacare as well...but when we examine your proposed solution, it basically consists of allowing mandatory insurance on the state level, not to reducing costs by stripping the expense of insurance out of the medical care system. That would be a simple solution for you, if you were President. What would it solve for anybody else?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Link Log for September 17

Categories: Art, Books, Busting Bubblews, and other Good News, Politics.


Can people neutralize fears by making art projects out of them?


Here's a new, small publisher some readers may want to check out:

Busting Bubblews 

A former Bubbler reports some success collecting some of what Bubblews owed her via this link, but warns that everyone may not be so lucky:

Good News 

A new web site dedicated to random acts of kindness:

Politics--Serious--Candidates' Statements


We did, we really did.

Some of the larfs at the link below are mine; I'm sure youall can do better...

D.J. Patil to Young Scientists

Ahmed Mohamed's teachers panicked at the thought that an innovative electronic clock might be a bomb, and the U.S. Chief Data Scientist steps forward to clear the boy's name:

Yesterday, a 14-year-old student named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing his engineering project (an electronic clock) to his high school. Officials mistook it for a bomb.
When I was growing up, my friends and I were fortunate to know how to use soldiering irons, circuit boards, and even a bit of duct tape when nothing else worked. We played, experimented, and learned through trial and error.
The best part? When I brought my work in, my teachers loved it. And that fed my desire to embrace science, engineering, and technology. That learning to play with technology -- that curiosity -- has helped me on every step of my journey so far.
That's why I’m so proud to see people across the country standing up for the innovation and intellectual curiosity that Ahmed has shown.
That includes the President.
Cool clock, Ahmed
And he's not the only one. Today, Dr. John Holdren -- the President's top science advisor -- reached out to Ahmed and personally invited him to come to join us at the White House Astronomy Night on October 19, where we'll bring together scientists, engineers, and visionaries from astronomy and the space industry, along with students and teachers. They'll share their experiences and spend an evening stargazing from the South Lawn.
We think Ahmed will fit right in.
That's because we think it's really important that kids with a passion for science and technology have the opportunities they need to reach for the stars (sometimes, that's literal).
It's why the President has prioritized broadening participation in science and technology to a more diverse pool of students.
It's why we regularly host kids from across the country at the White House Science Fair.
It's why we believe that the National Maker Faire is so important and why we are a nation of makers.
And it's why we're dedicated to telling the untold stories of some of the brightest minds in our country -- to inspire young people to follow in their footsteps.
Ahmed, you inspire us -- and we can't wait to meet you.
DJ Patil
U.S. Chief Data Scientist
The White House
P.S. -- Don’t forget your NASA shirt. I’ll be wearing mine."

Link Log for September 16

Categories: Animals, Christians, Food, Health News, Maryland, Scams.


Someone steered me to Buzzfeed this morning, so now I have lots of cute animal photo links to share. I'll stop at four; feel free to skip whenever symptoms of cuteness overload set in.

(1) Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has a dog blog. He's even been known to write as a dog ("On the Internet, nobody knows you're human").

(2) Terribly cute wild animals in Canada, including one of the famous black squirrels. At least black squirrels are famous in Washington, D.C. They used to be common along the Atlantic seaboard as far south as Virginia, but during the nineteenth century they were crowded up into Canada. A few squirrel families were then shipped back to D.C. to reestablish the breed. Today black and gray squirrels coexist in most of Washington and its suburbs' parks. Gray squirrels are bigger and tend to be the dominant species, but black squirrels seem to hold their own when people don't trap and shoot them.

(3) Still in Canada, here are recent photos and videos of a zebra filly.

(4) And here, from England, are the reasons why you should fall in love with a cat person.

There's also a photo essay illustrating why you should fall in love with a dog person, but it's not recommended here due to crass language. Worse than "love a dog person," I mean. (My husband was a dog person.) However, we mustn't overlook dogs. Here's a border collie behaving almost like a retriever:


From +Allen West Republic :

Food (Yum) 


Health News 

For those not participating in Serena Williams' Quarter-Marathon in Florida, another winter vacation option might be a ten-day McDougall Program--December 4-13 in Santa Rosa, California. The McDougalls have been offering these for a long time, for people who want to try using diet and exercise as treatment for their health problems. You get a spa-type retreat supervised by M.D.'s, with lots of exercise options, from skiing to simple yoga, and lectures and delicious McDougall Plan meals. Ten days is often enough for people to assess whether the McDougall Plan will help them.

McDougall Program temporary link


Students everywhere have always said school lunch was yucky, but for a graphic gross-out experience, check out these school meals allegedly served in Prince Georges County, Maryland, schools. Have you ever wondered where young people got the inspiration for the whole zombie-apocalypse genre? Thanks (I, um, think) to +Allen West Republic for the link.

Maryland school lunch link

It would be interesting to read the thoughts of Morgan State's Professor Brown, whom we e-met yesterday, on this statement from former Baltimore Raven, Ray Lewis:

Duh...obviously Black lives do matter. Human lives matter. Does that mean that anybody who uses the hashtag "Black lives matter" has a viable plan for improving anything?


+Theresa Wiza reports a bogus Paypal message fraud: