Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 28 Link Log

Once again, let's see how far through the e-mail I can get before the WiFi blinks out...For once I'm watching my e-mail avidly, even checking the spam folder, for a prospective client's answer to a question. If offered a job writing "polarizing" news stories for a right-wing web site, would I take it? In a New York minute. Even though I myself prefer "triangulating," finding points of agreement, and cooperating to "polarizing." It would be like last summer, when I was asked to write "about Tony Blair's war crimes" for a left-wing site. If you take the position that war is by nature a crime, the phrase makes sense, so I wrote about what the people who think their former Prime Minister should be charged with "war crimes" are charging him with. Writers do not have to agree completely with those about and for whom we write, in order to be honest. All writers should be able to write a fair, accurate report on any public speech or event, no matter how much we may disagree; we can write about our own opinions separately, if we so choose.

For example: This web site has no foreign policy, so will not feature posts about the Brexit story. That doesn't mean I'm not reading them, or wouldn't be able to write about what's being said on either side if someone really wanted an article on that topic. All it means is that I'm American, therefore unqualified to vote on a point of British policy. If I were to write about the Brexit Vote I'd be writing from research about what British people are saying and doing. If clients want to highlight one point of view or the other, that's their prerogative. Professional writers merely report these things.

Categories: Animals, Books, Disaster, Gardening, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Obituary, Politics, Travel, Weird, Zazzle.


Zombie turtles...no, it's not this summer's blockbuster movie.


Canada geese rear their young semi-communally. Each goose guards her own nest, and geese have even been caught smashing neighbors' eggs when the territory gets crowded. However, once goslings hatch and start exploring their world, they socialize with other goslings and tend to follow friends. Papa and Mamma Goose may find an outing with their own babies turning into the goose equivalent of a school picnic! Goslings even sleep over in their friends' nests. So it's often possible to see huge "blended families" of geese, like this one:


As this web site has explained several times: Clipping cats' claws is kind (like a manicure for humans), and should be done regularly. Declawing the cat is cruel (like tearing out fingernails with pliers, or maybe breaking off the ends of humans' fingers), and should never be done, even if people are too lazy, too blind, or too shaky to be able to clip their cats' claws. (Those people should, of course, call someone like me to help trim their cats' claws. I'm an old hand...partly because, since clipping doesn't hurt cats, it may encourage them to scratch things when they want attention, or need help to trim their claws!)


And, for the dog lovers...Local lurkers may remember that it was a female employee of our local sheriff's department who'd adopted the dog "Bear," an old friend who, when "his boy" (her son) wasn't at home, tried to "detain" me and force me to play with him. You can still see the scars on my arm, and if Bear's intentions hadn't been good it's likely that I'd no longer have an arm. Possibly that's the problem with this other county not letting their police dog's handler adopt him. Well, yes, she should learn from our sad experience with Bear and make sure the dog "Hap" gets adequate exercise and entertainment. But what's the county's alternative? Putting a retired police dog in a shelter? Killing him? And how do they know that any woman, automatically, will be unfit to care for a dog she's already handled, when he was in his prime, now that he's growing old?



Dan Lewis has found an online version of a book that everyone, including author Victor Green, must be glad to agree is obsolete. Check it out some time when you want to remind yourself that, annoying though we humans are, as a species, real progress on some fronts has nevertheless been made. Eurgh.


Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have collaborated on another series. This one's not speculative; it retells the Gospel stories from the Bible.



No longer news: large parts of Greenbrier County, West Virginia, have been underwater this weekend, causing the cancellation of the Greenbrier Classic golf tournament. CNN expects the water to stop rising this week:


The federal government is eager to "help" flooded communities by buying up the land, turning it into "protected green space." (And for how many presidential administrations after this one will federally protected land stay "green"? If it can still be strip-mined, or fracked? ???)


Gary LeBlanc and the Mercy Chefs are there to help:

"When we arrived in White Sulphur Springs this past weekend, local officials asked me to increase our daily meals to 2,400. I had originally planned for 1,000. But, in a huge leap of faith, I said we'd do it. Instantly, our daily costs more than doubled.

So, I'm asking every friend of Mercy Chefs to prayerfully consider how you can help TODAY. We must meet the urgent needs of flood victims by providing 2,400 meals today, tomorrow and, most likely, for the rest of this week here in the Mountain State.

This link, highlighting the work of a writer about disasters in general, is shared because of what Rebecca Solnit says about the expectation that "poor people...revert to our savage...nature" in a crisis. Reminded me of the Great Storm of Takoma Park, Maryland, in 1989. This was a cyclone that literally blew up out of nowhere--one minute it was "How are you going to enjoy this perfect June weather?" and the next minute it was the biggest, baddest cyclone I've ever personally survived. If it didn't quite qualify as a hurricane, it acted like one. After the second half of the storm hit, every road in Takoma Park was blocked, every house showed damage, and nobody had electricity. (Weirdly, Bethesda also experienced a Great Storm and even three actual fatalities, while Silver Spring and the part of Washington, D.C., that lies in between Takoma Park and Bethesda, reported an ordinary thunderstorm with very little property damage.) So on the morning after the storm we all called in "stormbound" to our jobs and went out to clean up the mess, so that on the next day we could go back to work; what d'you think? Despite the number of affordable furnished rooms being rented to poor families, including students, artists, and foreign refugees, many Takomans were yuppies and the majority were members of the Seventh-Day Adventist church. Nevertheless, some idjit had to publish something in a local paper about how, wow, wotta surprise, all those poor and/or foreign people in Takoma Park had somehow managed to avoid looting and violence...had, in fact, behaved just like our friends in pricier Bethesda. Bah humbug!


And then this news story, just in....[insert obligatory disclaimer about foreign news, hastily reported by people whose native language probably isn't English]...Once again the computer reports that a majority of people reading this site, this weekend, were in Turkey. After the recent hacking, this report does not come as good news. We've become Turkey-phobic. We wonder warily whether all of our Turkish readers are hackers. This is, however, worse than even hackers deserve. This web site extends condolences to those who've lost friends and relatives in the bombing.



You probably need to live in the north-central part of the United States to re-create Laura Ingalls Wilder's wildflower garden...but what fun if you do!


And here's a full-length article about the flower a visitor mistook for marijuana in my not-a-lawn, a few years ago. Height is all mullein really has in common with marijuana and tobacco, as plants, although people have tried drying and smoking mullein too. (Well, it's less addictive than tobacco and less intoxicating than marijuana; that's about all that can be said for smoking mullein.)


Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous 

The Telegraph says it best: "People who claim to worry about climate change use more electricity than those who do not."



I'm sure this story will dominate the local printed newspapers all week, but Kim Bellware from the Huffington Post shared it first: Coach Pat Summitt, age 64.


Politics (Issues)

Congressman Jim Jordan (not a close relative of former Gate City Christian School Headmaster James Jordan) accuses IRS Commissioner John Koskinen of obstructing justice.


For many of us the goal of much hard work, education, and professional training is to become a professional worker who's paid for doing something, rather than for "hours." Kenny Stein shares some of the frustration thousands of professional types are feeling...I, too, would like to see everyone move away from the whole concept of paying for "hours."


The Independent Journal headline here is a bit ambiguous...Democrats in Congress staged a 1960s-style "sit-in" to demand a vote on a 1960s issue, "gun control." We really need a law banning people from wasting Congress' time by demanding endless re-votes on things that have been soundly defeated in the past. Anyway, Virginians need to know that among those refusing to accept the outcome of the constitutional legislative process, demanding to relive the past in the hope that this time they can make it come out their way, were Senators Kaine and Warner. (IJR suggested that Senator Kaine's commitment to reopening the "gun control" issue started with the Orlando shooting; regular readers will recall that he'd promised to make it a focal issue this June, before the shooting.)

Two insights come to mind:

(1) For some grief-stricken souls, the urge to lash out against something blamed for the death of a loved one can create a fixation with all kinds of unrealistic ideas...like poor old Sam Crockett's obsession, in the 1980s, with blaming cars with automatic transmission and power steering, or specifically blaming the Camaro Z28, for the loss of his drunk-driving teenaged son. My own parents actually showed some interest in closing down the park where my brother accidentally drowned, although they were rational enough not to attach themselves to pushing that issue. And poor dear Sarah Brady is a sympathetic, charismatic person...it can be very hard to remind yourself that the cause to which she's dedicated her life has been pretty thoroughly proven irrational. It probably takes an individual emotional attachment to some place where "gun control" has been a resounding failure, e.g. Ireland or the District of Columbia, to bear that in mind when dealing with Mrs. Brady.

(2) Reopening the "gun control" debate is a proven stimulus to firearms-related business activity. Contrary to the stereotype that gunsmiths and gun dealers are right-wing, well, wingnuts, many of them actually describe themselves as "moderate." They are influential businessmen in Virginia, and they appreciate Senator Warner.


Congressman Griffith recently supported a U.S. House bill nicknamed "PROMESA" intended to restructure the debt of Puerto Rico.


Politics (Election 2016) 

Hillary Rodham Clinton displays her "Gay Pride" by walking four whole blocks.



Vegan vacation in Hawaii, anyone? It must be great to be a semi-retired doctor...after just thirty or forty years or so of working with patients, writing books, being controversial, etc., you get to make a second career of organizing vacations for people who can't become full-time patients but might be helped by the same thing that helped some of your other patients. "McDougalling," eating a low-fat, complex-carb-only, vegan diet, is such a helpful corrective for the high-fat, low-fibre, meat-based diet that makes so many of us in the United States ill, after fifty years of eating out of balance...it's a simple, intuitive solution yet it can seem like a miracle. If you know someone who needs to balance his or her diet, but is concerned about a medical condition getting out of hand or about having the willpower to get onto the corrective regime, a vacation with the McDougalls is the perfect gift for that person. Pricey, but for some people it's well worth the price.


Cheaper, simpler fun stuff in Tennessee...east Tennessee, a quick day trip for anyone who's smitten by the "get out of town" urge while in Gate City, Virginia.


Or, for those who prefer to travel eastward...note that this site does not include Natural Tunnel, which would, of course, fail to satisfy our urges to "get out of town."



Holding sparklers up over people's heads? What a weird idea. I think my own personal Nephews would know what a bad idea this is, but, in case anybody out there needs to read it...(Thanks to Dave Barry for sharing.)



At least Zazzle reminds me to post these links...When you follow a link on someone's web site (or social media feed) to buy something from Zazzle, the designer earns a commission, but--in order to encourage more link sharing among Zazzlers--the person who posted the link earns a bigger commission. So although I'm not the one walking out with the Ph.D. degree this June, you can support this site by buying the shirt for anyone you know who is earning her Ph.D.