Friday, September 30, 2016

Save the Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland

Yesterday's Link Log was long because I didn't expect to be online today. I did go online, though, long enough to find this link, which goes in the category of "Maryland":

Historic Bladensburg may not be everyone's favorite part of Maryland, but I grew fond of it...the park, with its close-as-anyone-could-really-want-to-tame osprey family, and the bargain stores, and the War Memorial or "Peace Cross." The "Peace Cross" is a landmark defining the boundary between Bladensburg and a few other suburban towns' extended territory. The part of Bladensburg that people who don't live there choose to visit, which includes at a minimum the Metrorail trestle, the wide delta area in the Anacostia River where all the big semi-tame birds hang out, the little computer shop where my personal computer was set up so that it would run without a crash for fifteen years and holding, the bargain stores, and that wacky-looking church that advertises itself as "God's Final Call & Warning, Inc.," surrounds the "Peace Cross"; it wouldn't be the same without it. Yet atheists (who tend to be lacking in community spirit) claim the cross symbol upsets their little feelings. Bah.

Maryland, you pathetic atheists, happens to be one great big symbol of religious tolerance--freedom not from religion, but for religion. Maryland is a symbol, specifically, of freedom to practice the Catholic religion in peace. That's what the Baltimore colors on the flag are all about, too. Can't deal with it? Go back to New York.

(Fair disclosure: I'm a Protestant from Virginia. I think this fact hurt me in my husband's estate case in Maryland. However, I put up with the Catholics in Maryland for more than twenty years, and they put up with me. If that had not been the case, I would have stayed in Virginia like a decent human being, rather than trying to interfere with Marylanders' right to affirm their Catholic history.)

Book Review: A Hand to Guide Me

A Fair Trade Book

Title: A Hand to Guide Me

Editor and primary author: Denzel Washington

His charity: Boys & Girls Club of America

Contributors: Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali, Debbie Allen, Walter Anderson, John Antioco, Eddie Armstrong, Notah Begay, Yogi Berra, Chick Bigcrow, Geroge Bodenheimer, David Boies, Jimmy Carter, Swin Cash, Wesley Clark, Bill Clinton, Johnny Damon, Dominique Dawes, Socrates Delacruz, Jamie Farr, Antwone Fisher, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Gonzalez, Omar Gooding, Glenda Hatchett, Chamique Holdsclaw, Phil Jackson, Donna Richardson Joyner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, John Kasich, Patrick J. Kelly, Anna Kournikova, Kelly Zimmerman Lane, Tara Lipinski, Mario Lopez, Edward A. Malloy, Willie Mcginest, John Mellencamp, Daryl Mitchell, Joe Morgan, Toni Morrison, Leonard Nimoy, Holly Robinson Peete, Bill Perocchi, Matthew F. Pottinger, Colin Powell, Bonnie Raitt, Ahmad Rashad, Cal Ripken Jr, Alex Rodriguez, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Ron Sargent, John Schuerholz, Bud Selig, Bernard Shaw, John Singleton, Dennis Smith, Stan Smith, Roxanne Spillett, George M. Steinbrenner, Gloria Steinem, Ruben Studdard, Courtney Vance, Michael Vick, Manny Villafana, Antonio Villaraigosa, Dick Vitale, Kerry Washington, David Wolper, Martin Wong, John Wooden, Bob Woodward, James Worthy

Date: 2006


ISBN: 978-0-696-23049-3

Length: 272 pages

Quote: “I don’t care…what you do for a living…there was someone cheering you on and showing you the way.”

Movie star and minister Denzel Washington uses some of the pages in this long book to thank those who cheered him and showed him the way, but not many. A Hand to Guide Me really is a collection of tributes to the mentors and sponsors of people who’ve achieved high levels of success in all kinds of endeavors.

That’s what’s to love about this book—all the personal reminiscences from the superstars. It’s also what’s not to love; each celebrity author gets only a few pages to reminisce, and if you read several stories in a row they can all sound somewhat alike.

The point of the whole book is made in the introduction: children need support from adults. Some of the narrators are able to pinpoint a specific thing someone did that helped them. Not all of them are.

“When I saw ‘Revelations’ and ‘blues Suite’…I threw my toe shoes away. I wanted to dance barefoot, and dance in some heels…Alvin Ailey’s choreography spoke to something in me,” confides Debbie Allen.

“Mrs. Williams…was a teacher…always slipping me something to read,” recalls Walter Anderson. “She’d begin by telling us a story…we were on the edge of our seats. And then she would say, ‘Well, if you want to find out the end of the story, go get the book and read it’.”

Rachel Clark, who took future President Carter under her wing, “could pick more cotton and shake more peanuts than any other person in Georgia,” or so it seemed to little Jimmy. “I could pick 150 pounds of cotton, but Rachel could pick near twice as much.”

“Kelli Hill was my coach,” says Dominique Dawes of her years as a gymnast. “I would set a goal and then she would set it higher.”

“Robert…wasn’t particularly popular and I wasn’t particularly popular either,” recalls Whoopi Goldberg, but “One day…somehow I was running with the popular kids,” and “Robert…just didn’t exist. It’s like I left him behind.” Her mother helped her see how this carelessness had become an act of social cruelty, and, Whoopi says, she’s been mindful of the need not to repeat that mistake again.

“Mr. Whitney…didn’t tolerate unruly behavior,” reminisces Patrick J. Kelly. “Two of my friends got into…a fight…We expected Whit to give those kids a good thrashing and kick them out of the club. Instead, he…put his arms around both fighters and hugged them.”

“[T]hanks to Christopher Reeve,” says Daryl Mitchell of his nearly disabling accident, “it caught up with me that it wasn’t just about me…as hard as it is for you to accept that you might never walk again, it’s even harder for them” (your family).

Colin Powell credits his aunts. “You can talk about the Internet…it is nothing compared with the speed of the Auntnet…We lived in 952. My Aunt Laurice lived in 935 and my Aunt Evadne lived in 936, and another set of aunts lived in 920, I think…You couldn’t get into trouble without getting caught by this network of aunts and uncles and cousins…There isn’t a failure among the cousins.”

Bob Woodward thanks Katharine Graham: “She said, ‘when are we going to find out the truth about Watergate?’…my answer to her was ‘never.’ She…said… ‘Don’t tell me never!’ I left that lunch a motivated employee.”

If you want to find out whom the others thank for what, and why, get the book and read it. To buy it here, send $5 per copy + $5 per package + $1 per online payment to the appropriate address from the very bottom of the screen, from which we'll send $1 per copy to the Boys & Girls Clubs. You could fit two copies into one package, for a total of $15 (on the U.S. postal order) or $16 (via Paypal), and we'd send $2 to the Boys & Girls Clubs. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 29 Link Log

Tons of links today...finally saw the bottom of the e-mail. Categories: Animals, Books, Charity, Charlotte, Christian, Coffee, Crafts, Education, Fun Facts, Green, Health, Heroism, Introverts, Marketing, Movie, Nice, Obituary, Philosophy, Poetry, Politics, Travel, Washington, Zazzle.


"Why was this not in The Onion?" asked the Twit who shared it. Good question; it's funny enough for the joke site, though true. Seriously, Gentle Readers, if you're paying enough attention to notice whether you have one of the (rare) Listening Cats in your home, you just might notice your cat giving you the "Why are you so clueless?" look if you refer to a cat by the wrong gender word. None of my recent cats has done it, but Black Magic did. But my solution hasn't been to give up using gendered words for humans, but to use words that help cats decode the English language if they are (as most cats are not) trying. Cats aren't "boys" or "girls"; they're cats. Asking a cat "Where's your pal?" doesn't help it learn that its baby-sitter, foster mother/sister, friend, competitor, brother, sister, cousin, whatever, has a name; I say things like "Where's Violet? Violet! Vi-kitty-kitty-kitty!" Using "he" and "she" accurately may help cats figure out those words, but until they start making it obvious that they're "he" and "she" (at puberty) cats aren't at all offended by being called "it." (And, of course, if you live with the much more common kind of cats who have no reason to imagine that human noises include particular words, no worries...) In any case, cats are not "gender-neutral"; even after neutering, adult cats show a strong sense of gender.

No, cats can't actually thrive on a vegan diet. (Active, healthy cats can thrive on a diet shared with human vegetarians, though--especially if they're lactose-tolerant, which many cats are not.)

Now, why was this (circulated by not in The Onion?

September 15, 2016 marks the beginning of the Nevada Bear Hunt. This highly opposed hunt, which was first approved in 2010, will enter its sixth year. We are hoping this will be the last year.
We are asking the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners to end this hunt at their February 2017 meeting.

Frankly, Gentle Readers, I'd sign a petition to expand bear hunting. The appropriate bear population for any area that is populated by humans, and/or is not separated from areas populated by humans by a 50-foot concrete wall on all sides, is zero. We need to open more space for young humans to be active outdoors, not generate more fear and more reasons to raise computer potatoes. Kill those bears!


Neil Gaiman’s a grandfather. (Already? Say whaaat?) And he’s dedicating Norse Mythology to his grandson:

Wendy Welch's pick seems like a good choice for National Coffee Day:

This one's still on the drawing board (literally, it's a graphic novel), but Margaret Atwood is backing it:


Three Tweets about someone else's charity, in one day? Not what I like to do, but the idea seems especially important in the context of today's links. As (The Great) Margaret Atwood says, kids need libraries. As I add, they need libraries that are nice, quiet, restful places where they can look out the window and read and think about what they read (the way I did), not "party zones" where after-school time means the whole building is dominated by screeching tots (and an obese bleached-blonde extrovert screaming their names and demanding that quiet children shriek too, and singing loudly off-key just in case the children have learned to sing properly at home, and teaching them to make animal noises that sound less like real animals than the noises some of the kids naturally do on their own...). And the window seat that's comfortable for kids (even up to 5'4") is blocked off for the free daycare...I've watched one high school student grow up enjoying free online time while waiting for Daddy in town. One. When I was in high school, my whole generation of our family couldn't go online, but we all used that window seat; we'd nicknamed it "The [Name Withheld] Family Corner." Now it's full of the Nefarious Librarian's idea of cute visual clutter, and the window's blocked, so even when it's not being taken over for free daycare, no child can sit there and read quietly any more. Feh. I hope the Killam Corner is set up in a quiet, thought-conducive, non-distracting way.

Charlotte Update 

Good news...Charlotte needs prayers. (Thanks to Patricia Evans for the link.)

'Cos the news gets uglier.

Pray on, neighbors. Pray together!


In primary school, those tagged as "gifted" children (see below) got teased about having "cooties" (that was in California) or "germs" (that was back in Gate City where, by and large, the haterbabies were under better control by more responsible adults; "cooties" was another Forbidden Word). In adult life in a small town, those known to have less money...relieve the feeling. So here I stand to testify: we know I have a Real Christian Experience because, instead of being "huuurt" by all the hate, or hating back, I'm like, "Hate on, you haters. You condemn yourselves so much more efficiently than I or anyone else ever could." And to those who don't want to "get involved," let me just raise the question...What do youall plan to say when Jesus says to you, "I was walking in the rain, and you drove past me. I was standing in the Friday Market, and you walked past without buying anything. I saw you at work on a project with which you could obviously use help, and you had spent too much money on junk you didn't need to hire me"? Whether they're tempted to become welfare cheats or not, real (apostolic-style) Christians do not let able-bodied Christians qualify for tax-funded welfare. ("Free bread" existed in the Roman Empire; the apostolic church stopped fawning on the richies who handed out food "that had been offered to idols" and took care of their own people-unable-to-work-for-a-living.) If tempted to cling to emotional feelings of hostility toward those who insist on doing honest work rather than welfare-cheating, real Christians force themselves to act contrary to those feelings, not just by showing their teeth but by showing their cash as they force out the words "Please Ma'am/Sir, I need your help and I'm offering to pay up front for...", until those feelings go away.


Not a category I normally use,'s National Coffee Day, and if you can still tolerate coffee by the time this post goes live, Melissa has assembled a list of places where you can get coffee free of charge today.


I love that maple-leaf-colors more for my "must knit something in these colors" file.

For knitters...


Those of us who were tagged as "gifted" children are probably still a majority in cyberspace, at least, and we all know the drill: Half the adults you know want to stifle your talents and force you to "fit in" by being like the no-talent brats (whom you automatically dislike, and who dislike you, purely because of this crazy idea that you're meant to be like them); the other half want to push you to overachieve in every possible way, win not just the trophies that come naturally to you but every competition they can find, define your entire self as "a talent," and crash into depression at seventeen when you discover that your talent is actually about average relative to your college friends (instead of being delighted to meet people like you). Blessed are those whose parents manage to keep them on the narrow path between these two pitfalls.

(Janet Gotkin is apparently still alive, though widowed and past retirement age; she lived and wrote the definitive story of the "talent" who crashed and burned in college, and although I've not written a full-length review of it, you may buy it here as a Fair Trade Book. Recommended. Do not fall for the claim that the new antidepressants are safer--they can be more dangerous in different ways.)

Here's an interesting collegiate concept: a store near a school offers "fine writing, fine gifts," etc., and a blog that supports books published by the faculty and presumably the alumni of that school.

Here's a less appealing concept. Can you teach math by using math time to have students draw or manipulate geometric shapes to talk about their feelings? Forty years ago, Mennonite pen friends were trying to sell my relatives on the idea of using math time to preach at students about honesty in business. I say it's a distraction and I say to (St. Joseph) with it. Use math time to study math. I have no idea whether offering any of the gadgets advertised at the post below as fun stuff for kids to play with, quietly, after doing their math assignments will teach them empathy, or keep them quiet enough to learn from boredom...

As for teaching children not to hate...

Fun Facts

Here's another site...on Twitter I don't really mind seeing the word they made a mistake by using as their site name, but it's just the wrong name for a lot of sites.

They should've called it DangInteresting.

Consider this detailed history of the Hangul writing system, which, unlike classical Chinese and Japanese, is phonetic, thus capable of being transliterated and being used online. (At one time I actually carried around and used a Hangul transcription cheatsheet. It's a fast, and cool, way to write...and encode for privacy, if you happen to be writing in a language other than Korean, because few non-Koreans can read Hangul.)


No longer exactly news, but worth reading:

Here's another petition to sign (U.K.-specific), especially for those who can safely eat natural wheat and are now having celiac-like or other reactions to glyphosate-contaminated wheat:

And…can it be? Is prospective vice-president Pence actually going to mention local warming…not a theory but a verifiable, sometimes a deadly real, fact of life? I hope so. I’ll give him a cue line: I don’t want my government to kill American jobs. I want it to help get Americans back to work. I want a former coal miner, or the son or daughter of one, to put up a few rows of solar panels in the orchard. I want businesses to start counting ability to walk to work as a reason to hire people. Before I get too old to walk I want pedal-plus-solar-plus-dry-cell-powered personal ‘Wheels’  built by a former GM car assembler.

Once, long ago, my brother and I used to take picnics (and sometimes reluctantly take my natural sister) to the base of a wonderful old maple tree. It was the biggest maple tree we'd ever seen. Every limb on that tree was green and healthy every summer. The lowest limb was so big, old, and healthy we could actually swing ourselves up and roost on it. We had no idea how old that tree was until a greedhead from a city inherited the land and let the tree be "harvested," around the time my brother died. Sis and I walked back that way, one last time before greedhead banned hiking and picnicking on the now bare and erosion-vulnerable land, to count the rings on the stump of that tree. It would've been about the age of George Washington...and greedhead didn't even get to use that lovely lumber, because most of the tree had grown back together, and sealed off, an ancient wound that had given the tree a hollow heart. All my life, that tree has been my symbol of surviving bereavement. But I don't think I really should have known how much the tree had survived, yet; that tree ought by rights to have lived another fifty or hundred years, and been alive today. Anyway, here is a story about someone who succeeded in saving a fantastic survivor tree.


Ginger tea is magic…but it brings relief from nausea, not relief from immaturity or embarrassment…and it's another option for National Coffee Day.

Now a less cheerful (should I say warming?) post...This one annoys me because the "herd immunity" theory is so stupid! One unvaccinated individual in a crowd destroys "herd immunity." And that's a good thing, because when disease germs were completely bred out of existence in places like pre-Columbus North America, the result was that the majority of the human population evolved a lack of immunity that literally decimated their race. You do not want "herd immunity." If you're at risk for a serious disease, you want individual personal immunity, which you get by having yourself immunized and thanking the brave souls who continue to build and breed resistance into your community. I think it's called Logic 101.

(Fair disclosure: I personally have had vaccinations against things like diphtheria, and I'm glad; if visiting a tropical country I'd get vaccinations against deadly tropical diseases--but until I'm a good deal older, I won't seriously consider vaccinations against things like flu or strep infections. That's called the Risk/Benefit Analysis; thanks to Ben Carson for naming it.)

The R/BA makes posts like the one below annoying, too. Oh, sure the vaccine manufacturers are touting it...but this poor woman isn't talking about saving her kids from life-threatening cholera; she's talking about trying to "save" them from a tummy bug. The best way to "save" ourselves from tummy bugs is not to take (risky) virus vaccinations, but to let the virus clean out our digestive systems and stop eating until the virus gives up and goes away, leaving us with permanently enhanced immunity.

More Logic 101: We don't actually build up immunity by feeding animals that we eat, and thus feeding ourselves, antibiotics as a preventive. We need to save the antibiotics until someone is actually seriously ill.

On a different theme...need to pass a kidney stone?

Get into the rear car at the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster.

Heroism (in the Face of Prozac Dementia)

When the Huffington Post doesn't mention the fireman being armed, but does mention that he stopped an armed maniac, what picture comes to mind? When HP (or most regular newspapers) don't mention which drug was found in the maniac's bloodstream, what category of drugs comes to mind? (Could have been PCP, LSD, STP if anybody's still bothering with that, even cocaine if he had that type of brain--but if it had been one of those you can be sure the commercial media would mention it. They stopped mentioning it when these characters were reacting to legal prescription antidepressant drugs, under pressure from the manufacturer of the first and best known drug in that category, the folks at Lilly who gave us the street name for all forms of "Prozac Dementia.")


Why do we live longer? Possibly because our brains have developed the ability to tell whether we're getting a real rest or not?


Corporations that are ashamed of their products, and show it…


Want to watch a documentary tonight? Discover the next Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock? Find Targeted here...local lurkers, the closest theatre will be in Johnson City, Tennessee. (Thanks to Mike Huckabee for sharing.)


After arresting the reckless driver, Michigan cop drives passenger to Detroit:


Now why did the Huffington Post not break this story first? Or did they, and I just didn't scroll down far enough below the shooting story?


On the enjoyment of life...Seriously, although even when I was earning good money (perhaps especially then) I've been accused of living like a nun, I'd describe it more as living like an epicure, a classical Hedonist. Greed and selfishness don't make us happy--at least, not us HSPs. Frugality and generosity do.


Alice Walker celebrated Winnie Mandela's birthday:

Now a younger, so far less famous poet, Alex Clarke:

Politics (Election 2016)

Voters care how the debate made them feel…and a lot of guy voters feel that it’s not possible for a woman to look more presidential than a man, any woman and any man, as long as both of them are wearing suits without visible food stains on them.

But more than that is going on with this election. Has to be. I heard someone who appeared to be middle-aged and well-to-do say “I didn’t watch the debate. I don’t think much of anybody did. I think people’s minds are made up. I mean, you have a liar, and you have somebody that can look at you and tell the truth!” And I was sitting there thinking, “Mercy, Lord…which does he think is which?” There are certainly differences between Trump and Clinton. There are differences in the kind of lies they’ve told, and the way they’ve told them…but both of them have been public figures for long enough that you’d think every rational adult knew that both are liars. And although there’s room for doubt that, at their present ages, either of them can clearly see your eyes from a normal conversational distance, certainly both are capable of directing their eyes toward your face for as long as anyone could possibly want them to hold what appears to be full eye contact. So you know that, at some level, some sort of hypnotic deception is going on.

John Stossel unsurprisingly wrote the most useful review of Monday's debate that I've read so far. Dang he's good. Since I hate web sites that display articles on multiple "pages," here's the least annoying way to read it; after reading from this link, you can remove "print" from your browser bar to see page one and open the comments and share buttons (and ads, although at Reason the ads generally behave well).

Politics (General)

Why, for that matter, do we prosecute prostitutes at all? Married men who participate in prostitution are guilty of violating at least their wedding vows. What I'll euphemistically call agents who take some part of the money from prostitutes are guilty of being parasitic disgraces to the name of slime mold. The prostitutes, themselves...walk a fine line. What exactly is the difference between a "party animal," Melania Trump, a person whose legitimate taxpaying job depends on her/his looking "attractive," a competent adult who collects "gifts" from his or her numerous admirers, and Julia Roberts' (bright, cute, independent, just-needs-love) character in Pretty Woman? We all know that these are five different ways young people express their youthful energy, appeal, and hormone surges...but only the person involved knows for sure which description fits her/him best. And anyone who's lived in Washington also knows that prostitution has always existed, will always exist, and is least likely to involve really vile abuses of children and brain-damaged youth when it's decriminalized. (When the customers can get the current version of Julia Roberts' character, they're less interested in the victims of real abuse.) I say we ban overt soliciting and look the other way when young women choose to clatter around in high-heeled shoes and scream "conversations" across the street. As a young woman who received tremendous benefit from the freedom to lead a clean ethical life without all the silly, irrelevant constraints placed on "Nice Girls" in places where prostitution is a crime, I say the whole world needs more of Washington's attitude toward this. And I may be the first married woman to have publicly thanked the downtown hookers (for making us legitimate sex (appeal) workers, the receptionists and stewardesses and so on, look good), but when more women think about it I'll not be the last.

(This one skirts the topic of Foreign Policy but our international readers need to know: sneaking into the United States is a dangerous game.)

And what d'you say to this one?


Not to be missed in Seattle:

Washington, D.C., Update 

While I was in Washington, the snarky but cool City Paper launched an arts-and-crafts show that I think was really hurt by their choice of a cartoon and name for the weekend "festival." The cartoons showed a grumpy old man growling about "those crafty" something-or-others; leading up to the weekend of the show he mellowed out and told people where to find the crafty folk. City Paper readers chortled, but any time we mentioned the show to people who didn't read the City Paper they stiffened up and said things like "Can't they call it anything but that?" I proposed "Crafty Crones," or maybe, to make it age-and-gender-inclusive, "Crafty Crows" with cartoon crows "cawing" no avail. Anyway, the actual link violates this web site's contract, but it does happen to be an excellent arts-and-crafts fair. If you're going to be in the city this weekend, use this link to see where and when your favorite crafts will be on display.

D.C. crafters link here

Some might want to schedule time to walk to this (upper NW, western Red Line if you dare, 1 p.m.):


"For Teachers Only"? I don't think so.

Periodically Periodic Table of Elements Poster
Periodically Periodic Table of Elements Poster by ForTeachersOnly
View Teacher appreciation Posters online at zazzle

This one's not for teachers only, either:

Book Review: Annerton Pit

Title: Annerton Pit

Author: Peter Dickinson

Date: 1977

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press

ISBN: 0-316-18430-6

Length: 175 pages

Quote: “Granpa had been dead lucky, not just because his mining company had had to pay him quite a bit for being sacked so unfairly, but lucky to get out at all. If he’d nosed a bit further (Dad said) the odds were he’d have finished up dead at the bottom of one of his mine shafts, instead of being free to wander round Britain explaining away other people’s ghosts.”

I recently asserted that when science fiction is about an adaptive device that helps people with disabilities, it’s obligatory that the plot involve someone with a disability who uses the device to save some person, or planet. This thriller is not technically science fiction, nor is it primarily about an adaptive device, unless we count the adaptive powers of the mind. “Though Martin was almost eighteen and Jake five years younger,” Jake’s blindness becomes an asset when he and Martin rescue their Granpa from kidnappers who have stashed him in an abandoned mine.

Annerton Pit stands out in my mind as an instance where the blind character’s confidence in a dark place is nicely handled, as an asset not a super-power, along with his current rather small size. Jake, Martin, their Granpa, and the local police all help one another; the story merely happens to be told from Jake’s point of view. Jake is a cool character, though, almost entirely free from self-pity, very practical about facts like “People never think a blind child might be lying.”

Although this story was meant to be accessible to intelligent twelve-year-olds, maybe even ten-year-olds, Dickinson’s wide vocabulary and fast pace keep the adventure moving fast enough to entertain adults who have not already read it. As action-adventure stories go, Annerton Pit rates high; it’s too bad that the plot’s reliance on absolute pitch-darkness during most of the action makes the story hard to imagine as a movie.

What I physically own is a hard-worn library copy of the first edition, which has a different jacket design than the new edition Amazon is currently promoting, and lacks the biography of Peter Dickinson (when my copy was printed, he was still a living and private person). I'm not terribly keen on the idea of choosing new editions over used editions of books by deceased authors--if Dickinson were cashing in on the new edition it'd be worth buying it, but since he's not...well, you might want the biography anyway; click on the picture to buy that edition from the person who took the photo. Amazon doesn't show a photo of the older version. If the original jacket is good enough for you, send $5 per book, $5 per package, and $1 per online payment to the appropriate address at the very bottom of the screen. (Salolianigodagewi is not a Paypal address; it's the e-mail address from which we send Paypal addresses to purchasers.)

This web site has been using "wheelchair access" as the label for posts about all disability issues. I think there may once have been a reason for that. I don't think there still is one. Google is making some changes in the setup of this web site, mainly to make it easier to read on cell phone screens; during the next few weeks I'll find out whether it's possible to change the label for this whole topic to "disability."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 28 Link Log

Categories: Animals, Health, Music, Politics. Still no e-mail from Zazzle? No time to investigate today.


Bing wanted to be sure youall knew the story of the dog who almost won an Academy Award:

I came along too late to watch the movies (although they were replayed for children's groups for years) but not too late to find old secondhand copies of souvenir books like this one.


Here's another Amazon book link our e-friends at the Cato Institute (sometime home of P.J. O'Rourke) think you might enjoy.


Dr. John McDougall hosts a "webinar" on atherosclerosis. He'll emphasize the benefits of a vegan diet for preventing this disease--in atherosclerosis the veins clog up with saturated fat, so the less you consume, the harder it is for atherosclerosis to develop. Note that this one has reading requirements; I'm pleased to be able to post the temporary link in time for readers to read all three pages.


The hardest part of performing the compositions of John Cage has to be keeping a straight face...

Politics (Philosophy) 

Tom DeWeese and Kathleen Marquardt have put together an interesting blog page. Lots of links blend together into a long independent post, not unlike these Link Logs, but with a single focus:

And more...the top link opens the others.

Politics (U.S.)

Should the U.S. Congress automatically get the same medical care as U.S. veterans? Meh. I don't seriously expect Congress to vote this one into law. Even if they did, even when the Veterans Administration system was cash-based and was serving my father well, there has always been a tendency summarized as RHIP, or "rank has its privileges," or "Longer service + higher rank = better treatment, even for the same condition and the same cost"--and Congressmen are by definition supposed to outrank most people. Should your Congressman get better medical care than a low-ranked soldier who put in seven years without earning a promotion? However, this petition does send its message...

E-Friends for Heather? (Cat Photo Post)

Once again I didn't take any Tortie Tuesday pictures, but Mudpie's Human really outdid herself with these two posts.

The position of this web site is that the A.S.P.C.A. writers who described animal hoarders were confusing symptoms of (1) animal hoarding, (2) poverty, and (3) general incompetence. These are three distinct things. This web site does not encourage anyone to fuss about hippie types who "appear to be in neglect" or poor (or anti-yuppie) people whose homes may have "deteriorated." That is their business. Unless you know someone well enough to know whether their unmown lawn indicates that they have a broken hip, that their yardman has a broken hip, that they've let the yardman go because they can't afford to pay him, that they're losing memory and/or consciousness of external reality, or that they're making an anti-yuppie statement, your default assumption should be that it's an anti-yuppie statement. If their problem has anything to do with money, your focus should be on paying them for something they make, do, or sell, rather than bothering your head about their personal choices. And if you personally don't clean with ammonia and might not recognize the odor, the fastest way to become familiar with it is to visit a Humane Society shelter or, if lucky enough not to live near one, a nursing home.

Compare a HSUS shelter with this list! Hmm...what about "Animals succumb to contagious disease before your horrified eyes"? "Dead animal lying in cage; volunteer tries to rush past while babbling about the cat the shelter most wants to get rid of"? "Animals obviously doped out of their minds"? I've seen those things, too.

 They have numerous animals and may not know the total number of animals in their care.
· Their home is deteriorated (i.e., dirty windows, broken furniture, holes in wall and floor, extreme clutter).
· There is a strong smell of ammonia, and floors may be covered with [body secretions].
· Animals are emaciated, lethargic and not well socialized.
· Fleas and vermin are present.
· Individual is isolated from community and appears to be in neglect himself.
· Individual insists all animals are happy and healthy—even when there are clear signs of distress and illness.

Here's one way HSUS' cat genocide policy has made things worse for many well-meaning but increasingly incompetent animal lovers and their friends: outdoor cats do not look like Raggedy Ann. It’s good for everyone to make arrangements for the care of their pets in case "anything happens"—“anything” here meaning not only the owner’s death, but also the owner’s disability or prolonged illness. It’s easier to read an article with animal images as gruesome as some of these if you can say truthfully, “If anything happens to me, and my cats don’t wait to be rescued by the friend who promised to rescue them (or if something has happened to that friend first), my cats won’t end up looking like that.” If unable to feed a cat, nobody should hesitate to ask for help, but it’s better to turn the cat loose than to leave it in a cage.

Here are two ways we can help known or suspected animal hoarders:

1. Legally protect cats' right to roam outdoors and stay at the top of the local food chain. This benefits humans because, if cats are not at the top of the food chain, rats will be. It benefits cats because the hoarders can trust neighbors not to harm the cats, who may be all they have in the way of friends.

2. If you know someone who might be a cat hoarder, offer to help clean litter boxes. (Except for medical reasons, no cat should have to spend enough time in a cage that the cage needs special cleaning--routine dusting should suffice.) If the person says things like "Poor dear Fluffy and Snuggles have to be in cages because they fight constantly," you can reasonably say, without being a busybody, "Wouldn't they be happier in separate homes? I could take Snuggles home with me and you could visit him/her at my house." If the individual is less than optimally competent in some ways, such as memory or mobility, but is not a true animal hoarder, s/he will be delighted by any help offered to resolve the problems of practical pet care--as distinct, of course, from busybodies barging in to put all the animals in a shelter!

As a friend you can make sure the animals get adequate food and exercise, without the built-in hazards of empowering a Nanny-State-like organization to meddle in anybody's domestic arrangements. We should never imagine that any agency, whether it's a government or an alleged nonprofit organization, can substitute for any individual, personal act of charity such as protecting animals from being unknowingly harmed by animal hoarders. Authorizing strangers to oversee any aspect of anyone's home life, no matter how much harm it might prevent in one case, ensures that more harm will be done in many other cases. 

While reading the two Mudpie posts last night (I took them home to read after going offline) I was also thinking about Mimm, another calico cat in Vermont discussed at the Mudpie blog last week. Because Mimm has a "personal ad" page up on Petfinder, I'd e-mailed her foster humans to ask whether they'd ever received a legitimate reply from Petfinder--I used it once and got only spam and scam replies. They have not given up hope. Mimm is still up for adoption. She's ten years old and described by those who know and love her as what I'd summarize as a Cranky Yankee Cat, but doesn't she have a winning face? Wouldn't somebody out there want to live with a cat as cute as this?

Photo of Mimm

"Heather," I said to the Queen of the Cat Sanctuary, whose coat shows distinct "calico" patches of orange, black, and cream below and is "heathered" or "tortoiseshell" above. "Would you want a cat who is twice your age to move in with us?"

"Is there any more chicken?" Heather nonverbally replied.

"What do you think of this picture?" I said.

"Nobody I know," Heather said. 

"That's a living cat who's the same age as your great-grandmother, if your great-grandmother is still alive," I said, having lost touch with Polly over the years.

"I never knew her, either," Heather said. "You know I'm starting to acquire a taste for sunflower seeds."

"You look as if you could use some pumpkin seeds," I said.

"Yes, I could! Have you got any?" Heather is not one of those cats who really like squashes. (I used to live with a cat who was so keen on squashes that she even ate cucumbers and cantaloupe.) She is, however, familiar with pumpkin seeds, which Grandma Bonnie Peters used to use in Veggie Burgers. After GBP closed her Test Kitchen and stopped manufacturing the burgers, she had a lot of raw pumpkin seeds left. For years she sent packets of ground pumpkinseed meal to all the pet owners she knew. Pumpkin seeds freeze so well that even a year ago the last few batches of thawed-out seeds tasted about as good as the slow-moving snack-packs of pumpkin seeds I used to buy in the city. They're nutritious (for cats, dogs, or humans) and also a painless natural treatment for intestinal worms.

"I wish I had."

"You shouldn't lead people on that way," Heather said with a withering look.

"Some cats," I said, "not only don't get pumpkin seeds on demand, or even regular kibble on demand, but are kept in cages so they can't even catch a cricket."

"Some cats should make better use of their teeth and claws." Heather flexed the six claws on her left fore paw.

"Some cats have lost their claws...and even their teeth, like poor Raggedy Ann." 

"Oh well, she can't have long to live anyway, can she?" Heather began cleaning traces of chicken broth off her fur. 

"Would you want to be e-friends with other calico cats, Heather?"

"You and I are friends." Heather plopped onto my lap and licked my finger. "Now you rub behind my ear, and I lick your finger, and so on, until all the chicken broth is gone. That's what friends are for. They share food, and then they help each other wash the last traces of food off. What are e-friends for?"

"Sometimes e-friends buy things for each other. Sometimes we help each other find the things we want, and the things our cat friends want."

"What's this Mimm going to help us find?"

"Who knows? Maybe we're going to help her find a home of her own."

"Fine with me," Heather purred. "Is it a good long way from here?"

"Well, Mimm is in Vermont. There are thousands, maybe millions, of places that might be good for her, between Vermont and here."

"Excellent. Now rub behind the other ear."

"Or someone might want to rescue this extraordinary-looking calico cat in Atlanta."

Azula - Calico

"A little lower down," Heather directed.

"There are people who might want to find out whether another cat could be as polychromatic and as polydactylous as you are, and, if so, whether that cat could be as delightful to know as you are."

"Do you think that's possible?"

"Probably not for me, because I know you. For other humans who don't know you, who knows?" I had to wait until I was online again today to find this polydactyl languishing in a shelter in North Carolina.

Tickles - Extra-Toes Cat (Hemingway Polydactyl)

Will that "Tickles" cat understand words, adopt kittens, rear kittens communally with another cat, hunt as a team with other cats, or help some human figure out some quirk in the human's computer? Is she a peacemaker, something North Carolina obviously needs now? Is her personality permanently damaged by her regrettable shelter experience? There's only one way to find out, Gentle Readers. 

This polydactyl "tortie" is absolutely not up for adoption.

Heather as a year-old kitten

"Why are you so interested in all those other animals that don't even live near us?" Heather asked, loosening a flake of chicken from her white bib.

"Well, recently I e-met a nice dog whose human wanted to do something nice for you cats. Can't say for sure yet, but I think Barkley's human may have done something nice for all of you. If Barnie isn't very ill, there might be enough money for her medicine, for worm treatments all round, and maybe even enough to make sure poor little Inky won't have a lot of sickly Manx kittens next spring, as well! Barkley's human wants to be an e-friend to animals that don't even live near her."

"Sounds like the nice kind of Adayahi?"

"Well...if torties, calicos, and polydactyls are considered special breeds or types of cats, then veterans, like Adayahi and +LB Johnson , are a special breed or type of human. The rest of us thank them just for being veterans."

"I thank Adayahi for bringing in cat food, but...oh well, whatever," Heather purred. "I think I'll go and wash young Violet's face now. That's what friends are for."

Irene's one surviving kitten, now about twice this size, is not up for adoption either...but I saw a similarly cute face on Petfinder! Check it out!

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Title: One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad)

Author: Gabriel García Márquez

Date: 1967 (Editorial Sudamericanos), 1970 (Harper)

Publisher: Editorial Sudamericanos (1967), Harper  (U.S.)

ISBN: 0-06-074045-0

Length: 448 pages (the novel) + 10 pages of publishing history in 1998 paperback edition

Quote: “Macondo is surrounded by water on all sides.”

Only in wet weather, of course. Macondo is a fictional farm-turned-village-turned-town somewhere in South America, probably in Colombia. The fictional history of the founding family of Macondo, which is the subject of this book, charms North Americans mainly by its exotic, “believe-it-or-not” quality. A showman makes a fortune by demonstrating the powers of a strong magnet to ignorant villagers. A man trying to “double” his gold coins by melting them down with other metals , in lard, mysteriously reduces all his metal material to “a large piece of burnt hog cracklings.” A human child is born with a piglike tail and dies from loss of blood when a helpful friend cuts it off. And that’s only the prologue to this very long story of love and war, births and deaths and insanities, in an improbable, hot, damp, murky place.  Time passes, children grow up, elders die, babies are born, and the town grows up around them…

Spanish is in some ways a remarkably economical language. García Márquez can be a remarkably economical writer. The effect of a long series of news-of-the-weird incidents, some condensed down to passing remarks—or are they figures of speech?—in the course of a longer and weirder story, can be mesmerizing. It is the suspicion, if not the official position, of this web site that this effect is what has built up the perception that Cien años de soledad was a great novel, when in fact it may not qualify as a novel at all. That is, while reading the story I distinctly remember an impression that it had a plot, beyond just “What a weird and wondrous place the South American jungle is”—but now I find that I can’t remember what the plot was. What I came away with was “What a weird and wondrous place the South American jungle is.”

As in Chuck Shepherd’s “News of the Weird,” many of the scenes are gross-outs. It’s hard to open this book without one. I open it at random three times: First, a child suffering from pica is “cured” with a “dose” of orange juice and rhubarb, which might actually help, but “they had to tie her up like a calf to make her swallow the medicine.” Next, a lover presents to his beloved an “ermine cape soiled with blood.” Finally, a friend tears herself away from a long emotional conversation with “I forgot that today’s the day to put quicklime on the anthills.” There. You see.The characters in this story all seem a bit delirious even when we’re not told that they have any specific physical disease, which they often do. Since we’re told that Macondo is practically an island surrounded by swamps, where everything grows and multiplies prodigiously but not always healthfully, this may be the literal truth behind the fiction. 

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of this long formless gush of anecdotes is that readers who want to be amused and/or allured and/or grossed out can open this book anywhere and find something funny, attractive, and/or repulsive.

“He gave his rifle to an officer who had been disarmed in the fight and escaped with Amaranta through a nearby street to take her home. Ursula was in the doorway waiting, indifferent to the cannon shots that had opened up a hole in the front of the house next door.”

“The only souvenir she kept of Aureliano Segundo was a pair of patent leather boots, which, according to what he himself had said, were the ones hewanted to wear in his coffin… ‘He has to come sooner or later,’ she told herself, ‘even if it’s just to put on those boots.’”

“Aureliano Segundo gave her not only the money from the special raffle, but also what he had managed to put aside over the previous months and what little he had received from the sale…According to his calculations, that sum would be enough for her studies, so that all that was lacking was the price of her fare back home.”

It’s wilder than the “Wild West” shows we have in North America, and will continue to entertain those who enjoy such anecdotes for a good long time. It’s too explicit for my taste; having read it once quickly I’m ready to pass it on, since if I’m going to think about the weirdest and wildest aspects of birth, death, and disease I prefer at least to think about them as facts, but hey, Oprah Winfrey loved this book. I just find myself bogging down in the sheer, well, bogginess of it. Washington is about as close to a tropical swamp as I can safely go.

But if English is your native language and you’re studying Spanish, you must read this novel in English, at least once,  because so many people admire García Márquez. You will receive copies of his books, of which this is perhaps the best known, in Spanish. You will need to look up the official translation to confirm that yes, indeed, what the author meant to say is as bizarre as you first thought, and sometimes more so. So here is this indispensable reference work, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

I enjoyed BorgesEl libro de seres imaginarios (The Book of Imaginary Beings) and Mi pais inventado (My Imaginary Country) more. (A funny thing happened when I typed in this paragraph. Amazon wanted to link something to the combined titles of the Spanish and English editions of the first opus citatus but then went into a sulk and refused to link anything to either title alone, although it has pages for both titles. The link widget behaved better with the newer book, though.)

While some editions of One Hundred Years of Solitude, like the one with the Impressionist-inspired jacket shown above, have gone into collector prices, what I physically own is the Oprah's Book Club edition, which is still fairly cheap on Amazon. If you want that edition, send $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment to the appropriate address at the very bottom of the screen. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27 Link Log

When in the course of blogging events a blogger is faced with the amount of e-mail I'm looking at this morning, the blogger takes a deep breath, reminds self that she asked for this volume of e-mail in order to be able to share the very best of the underreported Good Stuff in cyberspace with youall, and dives in...but a decent regard for the opinions of reader-kind requires that the blogger disclose that the blogger is online only four days a week, max, and receives about 150 legitimate e-mails a day, min, not counting the Good Stuff that Yahoo routes to the spam folder because it contains pictures and/or slang words that Yahoo considers rude. Or the best blog feed, Google +, Live Journal, and Twitter links that don't even show up in the e-mail. And although other members of this web site sometimes help me, Priscilla King, with editorial decisions, and Grandma Bonnie Peters has occasionally helped with the e-mail, in recent months I've been all alone and neck-deep in the flood of good content. When do I even get time to write any book reviews I didn't actually write five or fifteen years ago, much less my hack writing or writing contest entries, or any creative writing to which I feel moved on weekends...I don't know, but I do love the reading and writing. Getting paid for it is the part that needs improvement. Anyway, if you've shared some Good Stuff that has not been read, commented on, and shared, you now know why. Categories: Animals, Books, California, Censorship, Crafts, Crime & Punishment, Fiction, Food, Garden, Scholarships, Weird, Writing. (No e-mail from Zazzle today? If and when I catch up with the e-mail I'll investigate Zazzle further tomorrow.)


Here's a pawsome dog blog (also food and writing and other Good Stuff). More for your reading list? If you like retrievers, follow the Lab..."Canine Decorating" is, as of this morning, the first point where I chortled, showing below a recipe that looked as if it'd be too much changed to count as the same recipe if tweaked to the point where I could eat it.

Incredibly pawsome...While I was compiling today's Link Log, Barkley sent funding to help the Cat Sanctuary rescue Barnie and/or spay Inky. Yes, all the money will be directed exclusively to the cats' needs, and when they're told about it I guarantee that anyone within earshot will be able to hear the four adult and near-adult cats purring in chorus. This web site is fur-ever grateful! It's not the first time a black Lab has come to the rescue...


Here's a very short review of a new Christian book:

Here's an even shorter review of a science fiction e-book by e-friend Haikujaguar:


This link is only for those who live or used to live near the Santa Susana Field Lab, but I'm sharing it just in case any readers who hadn't seen it before can use it:


Should corporations demand that employees delete posts that don't conform to the company's opinions...or should readers punish corporations that don't hire employees whose online posts show a diversity of opinions? Should we create a diversity patrol who demand that a corporation prove that it hires both left-wingers and right-wingers, both religious and non-religious, both "fashion" and anti-"fashion" bloggers?!

Ted Cruz makes valid points here:


Why not crochet an aquarium?

Crime & Punishment 

Assuming any truth to these allegations, everybody should want to sign this petition. (Trigger warning: if you take blood pressure medication, give it time to work before reading the petition.)


For a flash-fiction post, this sounds remarkably like what local sources are telling me meth does to people. We are starting to have a serious problem in my part of the world. It's ironic, because my generation grew up scorning the pathetic "scags" who were so stupid and useless as to need drugs to relax and meditate, yet some of us (and our kids) are messing with meth. The thinking is "I don't want to get stoned, and I'm not going to get stoned, but I need a stimulant to keep up my work performance and I'm beyond coffee." It's because our local culture is so reality-focussed and hard-driving and competitive and generally opposed to the stoner culture as we perceived it when we were teenagers, y'see. In some ways the lure of meth targets people who like Earnhardt's Law, and "I get high on work," and "When I say I'll do a thing, I'll do it or be found dead trying," and "If you need help to relax, you obviously don't know how to work," and "We're from (one of the most underfunded schools in the whole dang state), couldn't be proud-er (if we don't win at least the regional competition something went wrong)"--that mentality. But meth can make people freak out too.

Food (Yum) 

This recipe sooo would not work for me. Two forms of wheat and cheese and fungi...

...But it's sooo easy to edit...and it's seasonal, in my part of the world, too. Cook some chicken (if you like to buy the cheaper dark meat and blanch it, this is the most time-consuming step and should be started first; if you're using light meat or precooked chicken, start the squash first). Pick or buy a nice, big, ripe spaghetti squash. Split, seed, and bake the squash, which takes about an hour (depending on size; check standard-size store-bought squash after 45 minutes). If you want a thick sauce, melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter, add 1-2 cups of chicken stock or water, bring it to boil adding the veg and seasonings as described in the link, thicken with 1-2 tablespoons of arrowroot, and add cheese if you like cheese. (The rule is 1 tablespoon of fat and 1 of starch to 2 cups of liquid if adding cheese, which will thicken the sauce further, or if you want a thin yet cohesive white sauce; 1 spoon fat and 1 spoon starch to 1 cup liquid for a standard white sauce; 2 spoons fat and 2 spoons starch to 1 cup liquid for a thick sauce.) Otherwise, heat broccoli, mushrooms if liked, salt, ginger if liked, pepper if liked, and/or nuts if liked, right in the pan with the chicken, using either the juices that bake out of roast chicken, or water, or butter or chicken fat if you want to use those, just to lubricate the pan. Either way, shred the squash out of its shell with a fork or forks, dish it up, and top it with the chicken, veg, and optional sauce.

This gluten-free version of the recipe is provided so I can give you an Amazon non-book link, it being a while since I've used one of those. Click on the picture to learn more about how to use arrowroot in place of (wheat) flour or (possibly contaminated) cornstarch.

Bob's Red Mill Arrowroot Starch / Flour, 16-ounce

Next question: What if you like a cheesy sauce, but you or someone who eats with you can't eat cheese, or you want to reduce the saturated animal fat content of your pasta? E-mail synchronicity...the next link I clicked on contains a "Cheezy Sauce" pasta dish vouched for by Mary McDougall. To me "cheezy" is not a good taste, but if MMcD says it's good I know masses of people will agree it's good, so you can feel safe about spending the money on the miso and nutritional yeast to try it.


If you've had trouble with sage (Salvia) or iris plants, here's why: both species actually like dry, nutrient-poor soil.


This one is specifically for students who are popular, but don't want either a heavy "boyfriend/girlfriend" relationship or the "player/party-girl" lifestyle. If you're willing to write/post about your current "asexual" lifestyle and social networking style, you could win $500 for college tuition. (How long do you have to remain "asexual"? Based on what I've seen at "ace" web sites, you can admit to being somewhat "romantic" while choosing to practice celibacy and still qualify as an Ace, which sounds like the ideal lifestyle for most if not all students, especially at heavy-academic-commitment-required schools e.g. Berea.)


The Ig-Nobel awards are given to serious science projects that sound hilariously weird out of their solemn corporate contexts:


For the nonfiction writers out there, a blog challenge...I'll take it some time when I have less writing to do, maybe if I finish the offline writing for the week before the end of a Monday.