Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 30 Link Log

Well, I'm drenched. I do not enjoy being wet. Rain, rain, move on down to Gatlinburg and Cherokee Town! Categories: Animals, Books, Christian, Disasters, Education, Green, Health, Ohio, Politics, Zazzle.


The first animal-related thing I read was a Tortie Tuesday post:

On Tuesday my "tortie" cat, Heather, the Seventh Queen of the Cat Sanctuary, did something adorable all right...she spent about four hours telling me that the place is lonesome enough without Irene, and I spend far too much time in town, and in between layers of blankets on my bed in the unheated bedroom was the right place for a lonely social cat to sleep, all winter long. Since it was a warm evening and the heat is always set low, she was surprised and disappointed when the heat came on. She'll want to share the electric heater when it gets really cold, but like most active outdoor cats once their "winter coats" of extra fur grow in, she thinks forty degrees Fahrenheit is a nice comfortable temperature.

Anyway, because other cat colors aren't being celebrated on specific days of the week, this web site detects a potential problem. If we post Petfinder images of tortie cats when they come in on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and border collies, hounds, or retrievers when those come in first, what about all the other cats out there? So today this web site deliberately switches from tortie cats to calico cats...this time, the "diluted" kind rather than classic calicos.

Stefi from Alpharetta, Georgia:

Rebecca from Herndon, Virginia:

Tia from Montclair, New Jersey:
Mudpie's Human also shared this blatantly fundraising video. I didn't even test the video on this computer (it probably wouldn't have played) but it does illustrate something about cat communication. Touching or almost touching noses seems to be a greeting ritual for cats, and the position of the noses says a lot. The cat in the still photo at the opening of this video is telling the woman that this cat thinks it's the total boss around wherever they are! If your cat really sees you as a parent-surrogate, it's likely to sniff your breath with its nose a bit lower than yours. If it sees you as a slave, it's likely to tilt its nose higher than the tip of your nose. If you have a complex working partnership, it may do a complete "Eskimo kiss" routine, actually touching nose-tips as it sniffs the tip of your nose from above, below, left, right...For the record, my cat Magic only ever kissed me in the subordinate position and, when I tested my guess by deliberately placing my nose slightly below hers, squeaked in protest and repeated the kiss twice with her nose below mine. Some other cats, like Minnie and Iris, insisted on kissing me in the dominant position...and Heather has been known to touch nose-tips with me from ten or more different angles during one greeting.

Now, about some wild animals--turtles: I personally am going to pass this petition by. Turtles are cute, lovable creatures who deserve safe places to live. Not being in this part of New York State, I don't know the full story, how badly the (already past) events cited endangered the turtles or whether they offered any compensating benefit to any other species, or what (if anything) can be done now. But I will share the petition in case youall want to sign it:


The pace of publishing these days is insane. +LB Johnson 's latest book only just got printed and already, based on slow Kindle sales, it's been declared a least of marketing...after, what, a month? By way of encouragement to writers (and discouragement to hypertensive publishers), let me share a little about the process by which I acquire books. Suppose I want to read a book, as it might be because I like a writer's memoir and want to sample the writer's fiction. I make this decision with some trepidation, because so far it's true for every writer on Earth, living or dead, with the sole exception of Margaret Atwood, that I've preferred the writer's nonfiction...but I've made it. So, I'm an Amazon Affiliate. That's what I do all day. I go to Amazon and add the book to my Wish List. Now, unless somebody else buys it first and hands it down to me, I have to wait to earn the cost of it in Amazon giftcards. I frequent two sites that pay in Amazon giftcards. It's going to take me two or three months to earn the cost of a new book. Assuming that I heard about the book online the minute the writer signed the publishing contract, that's a minimum of eight weeks after printing. You can use Kindle sales as a basis for saying that the book is not an overnight bestseller, but you can not use slow sales during at least the six months after printing as a basis for saying the book is a failure. That's like saying a two-year-old child is short--relative to adults the child undoubtedly is short, but there's no reliable way to guess how much taller s/he will grow in the next eighteen years!

Anyway, this one is "Christian fiction" with a tough, independent heroine. We know LBJ knows about being a tough, independent woman. I don't know what kind of adventures her fictional heroine is going through, as I type this. I'd like to know. And I know some of you readers are women, Christians, fiction readers, and conservatives. That means you're probably neck-deep in "Christmas" busywork at the moment, but it also means you're going to enjoy this book, whenever you get a break. So, if you have $15, please give this novel its chance to get off the ground:

Buy Small Town Roads directly from LB Johnson

And here's my own obligatory Amazon book link:


When salt is preferable to honey and oil:


When I went home yesterday afternoon, the message on the chalkboard at the Southern-cooking restaurant was not a sale or menu, but "Pray for Gatlinburg." Here are official reports...hundreds of buildings down, thousands of people evacuated...Pray for Cherokee Town, Gentle Readers. As I type, Gate City is finally getting serious rain, and people in the cafe are actively "willing" it to move south! Fast! Faster!


Here's an awesome writing contest for high school students. Nephews, if any of you win this contest, it will be absolutely without my help...but with my blessing!


"Food Not Lawns" is a name I don't particularly like. Why? Because "lawns" suggests front lawns that face paved roads, and you don't want to eat food that's grown within ten yards (or meters) from a paved road. Then again, when I look at the images on the actual web site, I see the food plants being put in the back yards where they belong. (Front yards are good for flowers, trees, hedges, and sculptures.)


Laura McKowen has some encouraging words for those struggling to believe that they can become sober, healthy, able to walk, etc., ever again:

Is running really what's helping these homeless young men sober up and find jobs? Possibly. Y'see, depression is usually a physical disease. It can be caused by decreased thyroid function, which can be caused by genetic factors, a sedentary lifestyle, a junk food diet, and/or drug all of which things many (not all) homeless young people can relate all too well. The cure for dramatic cases of total thyroid failure is medication. The cure for more commonplace cases of decreased thyroid function is exercise!

Ohio Update

I'm not sure I completely agree with Ben Shapiro's (and also Jim Geraghty's) take on this report. The NR writers seem to be crediting the homicidal maniac Artan with the same type of logical thought processes they expects the rest of us to have. They fail to consider how much the Ohio State University outburst resembles a classic case of Prozac Dementia, in which people like Artan are reacting to pseudomemories that may or may not have some connection to the things they feared (but had not actually experienced) before using serotonin-boosting drugs. For some people these drugs damage nerves, produce pain, and generate pseudomemories of painful experiences that seem to correlate with the pain the patients feel. We need to know what drugs Artan had consumed before he tried to ram that crowd of people with that car.


Singer Lloyd Marcus and his wife rally around the Republican campaign...when someone who chills easily, as LM says Mrs. Marcus does, goes on the road from Florida to Pennsylvania at the end of November, that's dedication even Democrats ought to salute.

Frankly, I've not been keeping up with the 21st Century Cures Act, although Congressman Griffith has been posting and e-mailing about some of these issues. I'm not sure...lot of new experimental cures for conditions I only hope nobody in my family ever has...I'm not sure I'd trust my U.S. Representative to recommend courses of treatment to me and any doctor I might consult, but I'm going to have to trust his judgment on this bill. You readers may, however, want to read more about it. Here's Popvox's link-loaded brief:

...and here's the 44-page summary. I see some "pork" and reauthorization of some programs that I wonder whether we'd do better to revise or cut. I don't see--in the summary--anything that leaps out as being absolutely evil; I see a political compromise that may be the best Congress can do, but isn't going to balance the federal budget. But until we get a limit on the amount of weird stuff that can be sneaked into a bill that's not published, I don't even know whether the full text of the 21st Century Cures Act includes something like "...and $1 million in federal funding shall be directed to Senator John Doe's brother-in-law who has been ordered to pay that amount of compensation for criminal negligence." That's the kind of thing we're paying our Members of Congress to watch out for.

Fwiw, Elizabeth Warren is against it. From an e-mail circulated under her name:

"21st Century Cures doesn't reduce crushing drug prices. It doesn't really expand the invention of new cures. And it doesn't increase access to lifesaving therapies...For two years, Republicans have paid lip service to our nation's opioid crisis while refusing to spend money on it...not even a 1% increase in funding for NIH."

Funnily enough, I'd say these are good things. We don't solve problems by throwing money at them.


Today's Zazzle sale is on cards, not necessarily limited to Christmas cards...I like Christmas images. Of course Zazzle is all about custom-printing; if you browse their cards you'll see lots of designs into which you can plug family photos, if you want to transmit family photos online. I'd stick to pet or plant photos if I were going for that kind of card...

Heaven and Nature Sing Christmas Card 2

Heaven and Nature Sing Christmas Card 2

by pj_design

Petition This Web Site Totally Opposes


The position of this web site is that even hatespeech should not be censored unless there is solid evidence that, along with emotional feelings of ill will, it's also perpetrating fraud, slander, theft, or a plausible threat of violence. In other words, if people want to say or write "I hate you, you're stupid, you're ugly, and you can't come over to my house," until they turn blue in the face, adults should act like adults and ignore them.

So, the position of this web site regarding President-elect Trump and Twitter is: if you don't like looking at Trump's name, face, or Tweets--which this web site fully understands--you don't have to follow him. It's that simple. You can even "mute" him from your Twitter feed. Twitter is customizable; you're meant to sort out the Tweets you want to read and not even look at the billions of other Tweets people post every day.

Other people want to read Trump's Tweets, and that is their right, with which people who don't like Trump have no right to interfere. The whole point of Twitter is that everybody's news is out there, in headline form, and you pick which headlines you want on your own personal news feed--but not on mine, or on anyone else's.

Last week I heard a certain popular comedian spouting ethnic stereotypes on a radio show. "These women were all Mexican, so you know they had all been pregnant." I heard laughter and wondered whether he was playing a laugh track in the radio station, or pulling a funny face on stage, because to me there's nothing funny about that remark. It's ignorant, but not in a funny way.

Somewhere out there, although she probably wasn't listening to an early-morning radio show in English, there has to have been a Mexican woman who's been trying very hard to achieve motherhood for fifteen years, who would have heard that alleged joke as just plain mean. Well, y'know...that, too, would have been her problem. She has a right to know that this so-called comedian is ignorant and not funny, so that she can avoid listening to him in the future.

But if we try to give her the right to censor him, then what about some other person out there in radio-land, whose son was killed in an accident, who feels pain every time he sees a child, sees a car (or maybe it was a boat or a school bus) or hears someone say something like "I love my son"? (This hypothetical person is based on composite memories of real individuals.) His pain is real. It's immobilizing, disabling. His eyes fog up so that he can't read the document on his desk. His mind goes into that widely documented emotional spiral of "Why can't I be dead instead of my son?" Very likely he suffers a lot more than our hypothetical Mexican woman who's been sneering at the gringos estupidisimos for thirty years. If we censor the clueless would-be comedian, we have to censor all the statements of parental love in the world, too, for the sake of consistency.

And what about, er um, me? Y'know, I'm barely making ends meet here. If I took the time to think about people trying to sell me silly gimmicks I wouldn't even want to own as gifts, I certainly wouldn't feel happy about that. If we censor all obnoxious content, bam! There goes every commercial advertisement on Earth! Because hearing somebody else's radio or TV set (or cell phone or computer) blaring words like "You need a Brand X grape peeler!" when I can't afford what I'd prefer to eat for dinner tonight is very obnoxious to me! Actually, although I happen to be middle-aged and barren, I often feel more annoyed by advertisements than I do by the stereotype that all women are, have been, or have ever wanted to be pregnant!

The position of this web site is that we need to end the insanity, before we get into a position of having to enact laws making it a crime to speak or write at all. Twitter needs a clearly stated policy that all account suspensions must be reviewed by humans and must be based on genuine evidence of criminal activity, as distinct from content that merely offends somebody. Twitter might, however, benefit from a policy that people who try to activate a mechanical banning system to block someone they happen to dislike can be banned from Twitter, and possibly tracked down and prosecuted--maybe we need legislation classifying that sort of thing as defamation of character?

This petition was circulated by Avaaz. This web site therefore calls on people who have, in the past, supported other petitions circulated by Avaaz, to express their condemnation of this petition to the "Avaaz Team."

There's nothing Donald Trump loves more than Twitter. What if we could take it away from him?...

Just last week Twitter banned white nationalist leaders after a popular outcry. And they specifically told a reporter that their Rules apply to "all accounts", even Trump's. Let's build a multi-million person worldwide call to hold them to their word -- add your voice:

[link removed] Call on Twitter to ban Trump...

With determination, 

Danny, Nell, Mia, and the rest of the Avaaz team

Twitter for Fun and Profit

(This started out as a reply to a comment at . Rumors of the death of the blog have been greatly exaggerated. It's true that some of the great blogs have "died" as individual bloggers have retired, died, or taken higher-paying jobs with traditional publishers, but that merely opens up room for improvement for small, underrated blogs like this one. Anyway, here's what I've learned about Twitter for bloggers:

I'm not the expert on Twitter marketing (actually only joined Twitter for car-pool purposes) but have learned a few things about making Twitter fun and useful:

1. Customize your content. If you search the whole Twitterverse, especially the "trending hashtags," you'll see a lot of flamewars among little kids who still get a big thrill out of typing nasty words. This has caused some careless visitors to assume that Twitter is just a place for kids to act bratty. Actually, Twitter is what you make it. If you want to read about major world news, follow news media (all the big ones are on Twitter). If you want to stay on top of events in your industry sector, follow the relevant business accounts. Family, favorite entertainers, elected officials, political issues, breaking news about disasters, selective about whom you follow, and every time you open Twitter you'll see a stream of tweets about what interests you. I hardly ever see any of the flamewars.

I use Twitter primarily as a digest of news headlines, following mostly newspapers, news broadcasts, magazines, and elected officials, plus a few writers and e-friends. Now that many major newspapers limit the number of articles we can read online at no charge, Twitter helps me keep track of which stories I most want to read on each news site.

2. Read other people's tweets. Retweet the ones that your connections are likely to enjoy...the funniest jokes, the freshest haiku, the cutest pictures, from what you find. Nobody is ever going to see everything that's on Twitter. Nobody expects you to do that. If you open Twitter only once a week, it's still there. (I opted to receive e-mail notifications when anyone tweets or replies to me, though, and read those messages as soon as feasible.)

3. Tweet links to your and your friends' best blog posts. Tweet one-line jokes or pictures if you've come up with good ones.

Avoid tweeting a lot of personal content, like your age and "relationship status." If you want to publicize these things online, they belong at your blog--they might be "too much information" on Twitter. If your image suggests that you are or even might become an attractive, available female, that virtually guarantees a lot of the worst kind of followers, the "bottom feeders" whose scams are sometimes called "catfishing."

4. You should pick up a follower or two almost every day. Be cautious. Some of these people may become real friends, and some will be spammers and scammers. I'm a little old lady who manifests in cyberspace as a cat. Some "Real Twits," especially the ones who buy cheap cell phones to let web sites "verify" that they have a real phone number somewhere, are criminals who may manifest in cyberspace as cute kids or nice grandparent types.

5. Isn't it cool when (a) lots more people than you follow are following you, or (b) celebrities follow you back, or (c) multiple celebrities follow you back? I would hate to see the competition about this kind of thing become serious, because I have to admit it's fun. You probably guessed that most celebrities hire "social media consultants" rather than actually Twittering, but you never know when a Tweet that's supportive, clever, or witty enough to interest a consultant may actually be seen by your favorite movie star.

[Disclaimer: This Amazon link is provided because this is an Amazon Affiliate site. I've not read the book myself.]

Book Review: Night Whispers

Title: Night Whispers

Author: Judith McNaught

Author's web site:

Date: 1998

Publisher: Pocket Books

ISBN: 0-671-0085-3

Length: 303 pages

Quote: “I’m Special Agent Paul Richardson, FBI…We’re interested in your father.”

Despite its opening like an adventure story, with Agent Richardson stalking police officer Sloan Reynolds to make sure Sloan is the right sort of person to help investigate her long-estranged wealthy father, Night Whispers is pure fantasy.

Sloan is a tough, independent, mother-identified little proletarian who thinks she wants nothing to do with her father, his money, or even her long-lost baby sister, and doesn’t even care much about men, not even the ones who are in love with her; she has her job and her mother to think about. Needless to say, this will change when she spends some time with her father, her terrible great-grandmother, her baby sister, and their super-rich friends.

Since the only real suspense in this story is which sister will fall in love with Paul and which with the rich boy who’s become Sloan’s sister’s buddy, I won’t spoil that. Otherwise, it’s just the classic Cinderella story. Daddy will be much nicer than Sloan has ever let herself remember, she’ll love having a baby sister, she’ll have just enough time to start to like her bossy great-grandmother before the old lady dies, and by the end of the story she’ll be happily married with a child. And with all the privileges Daddy ought to have given her all along, too.

There’s more than one explicit “romantic” sex scene in this book. There’s at least one tastefully airbrushed murder, although Sloan’s life is never in danger. There’s little bad language but, if you don’t enjoy the kind of “romance” novels that tell you in exactly which manner and sequence the couple touch, then take the chance of making a baby, then quarrel, then reconcile, and only then bother to get married, don’t read Night Whispers, because that’s what Sloan and her man do.

Frankly I’m not sure why they bother, at least with the details of the sex scene. All these couples touch exactly the same body parts in exactly the same manner and sequence. The challenge of writing this kind of novel really is finding a way to write that scene that will pass Copyscape.

If you like just a little more adventure and a tiny, tiny bit more suspense than Silhouette Desire romances supply, you’ll like Night Whispers. I wouldn’t read it twice but I made it all the way through this book once.

Until I go online to post these reviews, I seldom know which authors are still alive and active in cyberspace. Judith McNaught apparently is, so Night Whispers is a Fair Trade Book. Buy it here, $5 per book, $5 per package, and $1 per online payment to either address at the bottom of the screen, and we'll send $1 to McNaught or the charity of her choice. If you add one of her newer books to the package (the newest ones should be added as new books) we'll send 10% of the total of that price per book, plus the $5 for the package, to McNaught or her charity as well, even though you pay only the one shipping charge; thus Night Whispers and Whitney My Love together would cost you $15, and the charity would get $2. If you'll accept cheaper paperback editions, you could probably fit more than two books into the package.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 29 Link Log (Updated with Amazon Link)

I am of course far behind on e-mail. Today's Categories: Amazon, Baltimore, Books, Christian, Food, Green, History, Language, Ohio, Poetry, Sports, Television, Thanksgiving.

Amazon Book Link 

More "evergreen" than the title suggests:

Baltimore Update 

At least the police got into the true spirit of Thanksgiving...which is the one that Christians have tried to associate with Christmas, and I say the sooner the better, and if you can spread it over the entire winter, all to the good.


What Louise Erdrich is reading, and why:

What Wendy Welch is reading:


Your Greek word for the day is tetelest(h)ai:

Food (Yum) 

How do you like your tea?


The trouble is that recycling doesn't pay all that the U.S.

Vixen Valentino dishes the dirt on pro-GMO trolls. (This is not a happy post.)


Nice selection of quotes from James Madison:


"Alt-right" has just been formally defined: it's a useless synonym that, by "not letting groups define themselves," borders on hatespeech. I'm not aware of it if there is a genuine "alt-right" or "White nationalist" group, but then I suppose I wouldn't be. If any readers know of one, please let us know so this web site can denounce it.

Ohio Update 

The campus killer was not a "shooter." He used a motor vehicle and a knife, not a gun. He complied with all the paperwork. Wake up America...prescription serotonin boosters are deadlier than firearms and than immigrants, legal or otherwise. This case of Prozac dementia was a Somali. Big whoop. Plenty of other cases have been native-born U.S. citizens.


Nice tree poem (free verse, but nice):


I share Greg's mixed feelings...


Norb Leahy's rant on possible new cable channels made me laugh:

Thanksgiving Thoughts 

Hurrah...somebody finally posted something about Thanksgiving and not merely "Black Friday." This is not your everyday "be thankful" twaddle, Gentle Readers. It was written by a North Carolina blogger watching forest fires burn their way toward her home, hearing rain promised on the TV long-range forecasts before Thanksgiving Day, not actually getting any. +Beth Ann Chiles is a special breed of blogger.

Desperation at the Convenience Store

(Norovirus is here again. Stricken on a Friday evening two weeks ago, I've noticed three more cases of doorknob-rattling since. I think it may have inspired the very baddest, certainly the grossest, piece of Bad Poetry I’ve ever written! Huzza! Maybe the badness of this “poem” will give people something to think about before they rattle the knobs of bathroom doors on which it may be posted. It's not that anybody wants to spread this virus around in public, it's just that the virus strikes and moves on faster than we can see it coming...but avoiding anyone who seems sick may help you! I'd like to see this one taped to bathroom doors everywhere, Gentle Readers. If you want to alter the directions to fit the bathroom in question, feel free to write in your version in any way that makes it obvious that you've done so.)

Why do you clamor at the door
You saw someone go in, before?
You’re not just struggling to contain
Your excretory needs, that’s plain:
You’re hardly one full block below
The library where you could go;
You’re three blocks, neither less nor more,
From this same chain’s next outlet store;
Unless food smells to flee you want,
You’re two blocks from a restaurant;
Emergencies in every store?
That’s what the firehouse is for.
A public restroom none would choose
For rest, or contemplating views,
Or any pleasure you might share.
There is no TV set in there.
Did you not hear? That sound—again—
Warns you that that way leads to pain.
Three flushes—faucet—one flush more—
You’d better choose a different store.
You hear the sound of Norwalk Flu.
You breathe it in, you’ll have it too.
O ghoul who listens for further retching,
Know that on Earth no thing’s more “catching”
Than the day-long woes of norovirus;
A third flush always should inspire us
To turn, while yet our legs can flee,
And hope the afflicted not to see.
Must you rush in? Remember well
The unique and disgusting smell:
That is the airborne germ will make
You sick as the patient, ere you wake,
And if Miss Manners had power to curse
You’d certainly feel even worse.
Tomorrow you will understand,
The patient’s lingering was not planned,
And as you slump upon the floor,
Remember the convenience store,
Which, had you left as soon as able
(And then foregone the dinner table),
Might not have left you bowed low before

What you should have gone home and not used at the store.

Book Review: Airport

Title: Airport

Author: Arthur Hailey

Date: 1968

Publisher: Doubleday

ISBN: none

Length: 440 pages

Quote: “Lincoln International Airport, Illinois, was functioning, though with difficulty.”

And here’s a long novel, with serious literary aspirations, about the lives of the different people who make that airport function, as airports did in 1968: controllers, pilots, ticket agents, flight attendants, customers, and the snowstorm that is the main source of the difficulty. In a real airport it’s possible to find enough drama to spin 440 pages out of, in one night—even if it’s not a snowy night—and that’s what Hailey has done.

There are the tiresome people who want to restrict the noise and traffic of the airport.

There’s a couple who will be divorced, by mutual consent and thus more or less happily, by the end of the book.

There’s a stewardess who’s crying because the passengers are grumpy.

There’s a madman with a bomb.

There’s a sweet little old lady who’s made her post-retirement career of sneaking onto planes without paying for tickets.(“They never do prosecute anybody.”)

There’s a frazzled air traffic controller who just might commit suicide.

There are pilots flying solely on instruments, unable to see out their iced-up windows.

There’s a pregnant stewardess, and a married pilot who thinks she should have an abortion.

There are "shoeshine boys" setting up stands in violation of an exclusive contract with the one the airport manager has authorized to operate.

There’s some explicit sex, some violence, and some bad language, but not more than anyone travelling through a real airport might reasonably expect to notice, and they’re narrated in a realistic, not sensational, manner.

All these elements come together to form a rather simple plot, the overall effect of which is to explain why airports and air travel are even more unpleasant nowadays.

In the 1970s Airport was taken seriously, as a book everyone needed to read. Now it’s become a period piece, but if you like action-adventure stories, it’s still a pretty good read.

Arthur Hailey no longer needs the dollar he'd get if this were a Fair Trade Book. (You can use the search box to discover Fair Trade Books reviewed at this site.) Our minimum price is still $5 per book, $5 per package, $1 per online payment, to either address at the bottom of the screen. You could, however, fit at least one standard-size Fair Trade Book (standard-size adult novel or nonfiction book) into the package with Airport and pay only the one $5 shipping fee, so please feel free to browse and order.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: A Treasury of Baby Names

Title: A Treasury of Baby Names

Author: Alan Benjamin (not known to be same person as the author of all those picture books for slightly older babies)

Date: 1983

Publisher: Signet

ISBN: none

Length: 215 pages

Quote: “Abayomi—Yoruba/Nigeria: ‘she who brings joy’.”

After a short table of sun signs and birthstones associated with the day on which the baby might be born, this book moves directly into the list of names and their meanings, or at least of words from which they were presumed to derive.

Readers should know that most names don’t actually have precise meanings. Even when a given name is identical with a word or phrase, the person who gave it to a child may have had a completely different “meaning” in mind.

“Malady,” which was the given name of a doctor who used to practice in Washington, is one of several names that aren’t popular enough to be “defined” in books like this one. As a word “malady” is defined as "any disorder or disease of the body, or any undesirable or disordered condition". Obviously that was not what the doctor’s parents had in mind when they looked at their new baby. Going by sound, I suspect they were thinking of “my lady,” and may even have changed the spelling to honor the baby’s Grandma. As a word “malady” sounds closer to “melody,” which is listed in most name dictionaries. (As a name “Melody” is usually defined in terms of the word: "a song or tune...a pleasing series of musical notes.")

If your given name happens to be “Melody,” however, that does not necessarily mean that your parents were thinking of the word. They might have been thinking of a friend or relative, even a celebrity or fictional character.

For several names, especially the ones derived from the family names of famous people, parents who bestow the name on a child are unlikely to care which words the name may originally have derived from.

“Lincoln,” for example, is known to be the name of a place in England. The place name is thought to derive from the name of a Roman colony, colonia, although there is some dispute about the original meaning of the “lin” part. (Benjamin gives “settlement by the pool,” from old English lynn, meaning the pool below a waterfall. Some other name dictionaries give “town of linden trees,” or “colony with snakes,” from linnr, a serpent…) As a family name “Lincoln” is rare. Most people have heard of it only in the context of a particularly memorable President of the United States. People who call their children “Lincoln” may have seen, or hoped, any number of resemblances between Abraham Lincoln and the child:

* The baby was long and thin.

* The baby had dark hair and eyes and relatively fair skin.

* The parents hoped the child would be honest. (President Lincoln’s supporters called him “Honest Abe.’)

* Or they hoped he would live to grow old. (President Lincoln did not, in fact, live to become very old, but his supporters also called him “Old Abe.”)

* Or they hoped he would become President…of something.

* Or they hoped he’d at least have a presidential manner.

* Or they hoped he’d grow up to practice “malice toward none and charity toward all.” (President Lincoln’s election led directly to a war, after which President Lincoln aroused further controversy by trying to make peace on the most generous possible terms.)

Or they may have wanted to honor President Lincoln’s memory, regardless of any resemblance or lack of resemblance to an infant (few babies really look much like President Lincoln). Or they may have wanted to honor some friend or relative who’d been named after President Lincoln. Anything is possible.

So the interpretation of given names is not an exact science. If you want, either to pick one dictionary and stick to it, or to collect dictionaries and compare them, this book is for you.

I collect them, for my on-disk Words & Names Database. Having digitized the contents of this dictionary, I’m ready to pass my copy along.

My copy is the first printing. What you see at the Amazon link above is a second printing, which is still available new. Since I don't know whether the author of these books is still alive and don't particularly want to track him down, feel free to buy either copy. If you want to support this web site, however, please send $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment to the appropriate address of the bottom of the screen. (That means, if sending a real-world postal money order to the P.O. Box address, you pay the surcharge directly to the post office and send me $10; if sending a Paypal payment, you send me $11 out of which I pay the surcharge.) If you don't specify the first or second edition, you will receive whichever is easier to get at the moment.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Book Review: Reverend Randollph and the Holy Terror

Title: Reverend Randollph and the Holy Terror (Book 4 of 7; Amazon has a photo for Book 5)

Reverend Randollph and the Unholy Bible

Author: Charles Merrill Smith

Date: 1980

Publisher: Putnam

ISBN: 0-399-12461-6 (click the number to buy this volume on Amazon)

Length: 236 pages

Quote: “Next week he [Reverend Randollph] would benamed permanent pastor…And…In an hour or so he would be married to a beautifulred-haired divorcée ex-Presbyterian agnostic named Samantha Stack.”

But the bridegroom won’t get much honeymoon time before a serial murderer starts sending unpleasant little poems to ministers just before he kills them, and once again, in this fourth volume of his adventures as a professional minister and amateur detective, Randollph has to find the murderer…before the murderer finds him.

These detective stories, where the detective is a young, active, muscular preacher, are very far from traditional “devotional reading.” Apart from the fairly “clean” murders (Smith didn’t go in for gross-outs) there’s a fair bit of attention to Randollph’s enjoyment of food (which is not quite gluttony) and married life (which is not quite lust, although his marriage is of course controversial).

Smith assumes that readers are familiar with the Gospel story, and throws in background scenes in which Randollph both preaches and practices his religion: “Take it easy, Randollph warned himself. Be kind. Be gracious. Remember that he is a child of God, even if you wonder just what God had in mind when He created Sad Tad Barry.”This leads into a discussion of contemporary TV shows, where Randollph then quietly defends George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” by reminding everyone that one of them is found in the Bible. (King James' and Geneva translations, anyway.)

I suspect that a lot of Smith went into the characterization of Randollph, although too often for my taste Randollph comes across as just another of the dare-to-be-trendy “liberalizers” who were far too quick to forget the positive value of the traditions they rushed to discard. (He was different from many of them, at the time, because he was young and, before returning to full-time preaching, had been a professional football player. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes were meant to enjoy this series.) In this book, when Reverend Randollph sits down to meet the serial murderer known as the Holy Terror, he sensibly surrounds himself with a posse including his good friend the bishop—and what they do, while they wait, is play poker. Yes, poker. For money, even though the money will go back to the church. The murderer will come to Randollph’s door and find the preacher, the bishop, a police officer, and a buddy known as “Sticky Henderson,” gambling.

The Reverend Randollph stories weren’t written as a study of the Seven Deadly Sins—although Randollph keeps reminding people that lust was only one of the traditional seven. In this one, the focus of attention seems to be not one of the seven, but the Unpardonable Sin of Impenitence that makes any of the others really deadly. Each of the murder victims is reminded of some long-buried source of unconfessed guilt from his past, and…that’s a clue, so I’ll stop. 

Dorothy Sayers’ murder mysteries tried to rise above the limitations of the genre by using Lord Peter Wimsey’s post-traumatic stress to remind readers that even fictional murders were serious matters. Smith’s go further, of course, by making a church the background of Randollph’s life and the setting of some of the mysteries he’s called to solve. That said, are these books really suitable for “Sunday” reading? My own day of rest and worship happens to be Saturday, anyway, in honor of which my web site seldom displays anything on a Saturday. Whether you read murder mysteries on weekdays, on your day of rest and worship (if any), or at all, is entirely up to you.

To buy the Reverend Randollph books here, send $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment to either address at the very bottom of the screen. All seven books would thus cost you $45 (postal money order to Box 322, pay the surcharge directly to the post office) or $46 (Paypal payment to the address salolianigodagewi sends you, we pay the surcharge to Paypal). If you find a lower price online, feel free to take advantage of it. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

November 25 Link Log

Hope everyone found something to give thanks for yesterday. Despite the nasty people at the local utility company having failed to re-connect the electricity to make the humans' Thanksgiving plans for the Cat Sanctuary work, and despite the adoption of Inky (hurrah!) and apparent loss of Irene (waaail!), the cats enjoyed their Thanksgiving feast of cold chicken...after which Heather promptly went out and brought in a small squirrel. Before even biting into it to kill it, herself, she spent considerable time and trouble communicating to me that it was meant as a treat for me, by way of thanks for the chicken. Our late lamented Ivy couldn't have made the point clearer.

Today...has been a great day for catching up on e-mail....not much is going on anywhere in cyberspace! Because so many e-mails came in with headlines relating to Black Friday sales, all links that might enable anyone to buy anything are in the category "Shopping" today, rather than "Amazon," "Zazzle," etc. Categories: Animals, Cybersecurity, Food, Nice, Politics, Shopping, Writing


What happened to Irene, anyway? I don't know for sure (yet). Remember how, in October, the cats just didn't act sorrowful enough for me to believe anything bad had happened to Violet when she disappeared? I think Heather, Irene, and Tickle may actually have been visiting Violet. They kept disappearing temporarily, one or two at a time, and returning, very cheerful and pleased with themselves. (Yes, social cats visit friends; mine have been known to insist that visitors eat first.) And then, on Monday, all three of them disappeared...and then Tickle came in looking discouraged, and Heather came in only on Wednesday afternoon, whining and wailing as she walked. Tickle, who is Heather's son, is even whinier than Bisquit, who was Heather's grandmother--but even when Heather's own mother was catnapped, Heather never whined, but just quietly took over rearing her younger siblings. So when she did whine, I took that as evidence that something very bad happened...Irene had never strayed more than fifty yards from home before. Irene had, like Ivy, never encountered motor vehicles whose drivers didn't stop and adore the classic calico cats' pretty faces. Irene has not come home. Heather learned the words "Where is...?" very early in life, and has consistently responded when "Where is..." is followed by a word she recognizes and she has an idea where the thing/person is; if Irene had been merely injured, I'm pretty confident that Heather would have shown me where Irene was, rather than crying whenever Irene's been mentioned. In the direction these cats have been coming and going, a paved road is further away than cats normally stray, but there is one...with an especially nasty blind turn, about a mile from the Cat Sanctuary.


(The first animal-related content in the e-mail was a post from Mona Charen that discussed dogs and cats. Technically the first animal she mentioned was a Keeshond, an unusual breed. Going by the picture, I looked for police-dog types on Petfinder, under "Shopping" below.)


What happens after the official pardon of the official White House turkey? Well...what else could happen to a domestic turkey? (This is not a funny post.)


Why no web site should ever have an automatic blocking/flagging process...these things should always be investigated by a human before any user is inconvenienced.

Food (Yum) 

Via Twitter..."Brownies" and "Blondies" are a (chocolate or otherwise) cross between cookies and candy. They contain small amounts of flour and loads of fat and sugar. Since they don't have to rise and are held together mainly by saturated fat, they tend to work well with gluten-free "flours"...if your guests include diabetics, do not click here.

It might be too late to start these carrots now, but next year...


Serendipity...synchronicity...whatever. I had forgotten the name, although I remembered the reading experience, of Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods. Recommended.


Do the anti-Trump protests remind you of the "Occupy" protests? There's a reason.

Other anti-Trumpers come out in support least curbing the hysteria.

Jonah Goldberg addresses the issues not the man:

John Stossel reminds us what we can learn from Thanksgiving:

Because I got the same NYT link in the e-mail and chortled too, here's Jim Geraghty's wisdom on enjoying the rest of the weekend with relatives who may disagree passionately about politics:

Meanwhile...the trouble with what Thoreau wrote so long ago is that public libraries aren't true to his vision any more. They're trashing the wisdom of the ages and trying to reinvent themselves as day-care centers.

And here's good news on right-to-work laws:


First a reminder not to be stupid about "Black Friday" sales.

E-friends are sharing some links to sales. Meh. Why not? Here's Mudpie's affiliate merchandise:


Product Details

This seriously creepy book link (it's about the history of genocide) was shared by Margaret Atwood, for whom Thanksgiving is long past:

...U.S. readers may buy it here.


Beauty from Atlanta:
Emma from Fairfax:

Arese from New York:

Kitten taking steps in the grass poster
Kitten taking steps in the grass poster

by prophoto

Golden Retriever Dog in the Snow Poster

Golden Retriever Dog in the Snow Poster

by GrandmaDee


Calling all boys, and parents or teachers who tell stories to boys, between ages ten and twelve:

Kylene Has Two Children

Because I promised to post it here (for copyright reasons), with an Amazon link to the founding father of its genre:


They did a great job with Dad’s Handscreen this time. With the latest upgrade you can actually feel the colors, or where the colors would be, when you zoom to certain degrees of focus: the images feel warmer if they’re closer to white in black-and-white view, or closer to red in red-to-violet. “Isn’t it a thing of beauty and a toy forever?” the guy at the shop wisecracked, showing it off, and it is. I could have spent an hour just looking around the shop with it.

But of course Dad wanted to hurry up and mount it on to his Wheels and go out for a spin. More excitement, I suppose. So we all got on our Wheels and followed him. It was a lovely day; we left all the walls up and enjoyed the cool air on our faces.

Even passing the energy plant, the air felt good. Nobody will ever say it smells good, though, no matter how many rows of pine trees and boxwood bushes and sweet-scented flowers they plant around it. That day the calendulas were positively shrieking their scent into the air but you still know, when you’re passing the energy plant, that they’re burning dung and carrion inside.

“They’re orange,” Mom said, “the calendulas! I can feel the orange! Can you feel it, Kyle?”

“I can’t even feel the calendulas,” Dad said. “It’s not the Handscreen. It’s my hands.”

He stopped walking and sat down. The Wheels kept rolling, of course, on the energy he’d generated. He kicked the brake so hard I could hear it, even behind Mother’s Wheels, even with our Wheels rolling.

“I’ve got a disability,” he said. “I’ve spent twenty years working to eradicate disabilities. I’ve got a disability.”

“You’ll have it eradicated in a week,” Sam told him.

Two weeks, tops, I thought. Dad’s good at that sort of thing.

He cheered up, though, back at the house, looking at Trevor’s latest picture on the Handscreen. He spent a long time looking at his grandson’s face, the way blind people look at things, with their hands.


When we got home I think Sam expected, just as I did, to find Trevor in a rotten mood. It really wasn’t fair that the day Mom and Dad picked up the Handscreen had to coincide with his day at school. We’d thought about asking whether he could trade school days with some other child, but that’s always a hassle and they say children need some practice coping with disappointment.

“When Mom and Dad were your age,” I’d told him, earlier that morning, “kids had to go to school half the days in the year.”

“Wotta waste,” he’d said. “What did they do there?”

“Some kind of theory, or experiment—they did all their lessons at school. The whole class. Together. Lockstep. Like they’d put all the six-year-olds in one room and tell them to learn to read, all at once, all the same way. Then the ones who didn’t learn to read that way were told they had disabilities,” Sam explained.

“Craaazy,” said Trevor, blinking up at Sam, who’s never seen such long, pale eyelashes on a kid. Trevor got Dad’s albinism but not his microphthalmia; he sees everything with either or both of his pale blue eyes, doesn’t even need glasses, any more than Sam did at his age. “How did they ever learn to read?”

“Some of them never did,” I said.

The Schoolwheels notification peeped and flashed across the TV screen. Trevor ran out to the porch, jumped on his Wheels, and ran out to hook on to the Schoolwheels with the other children. I wondered whether all twenty or thirty of them had thought of other things they’d rather do than go to school, that day, and whether any of them was not racing his or her own Wheels. They always pump enough energy into those things to coast their Wheels around the neighborhood for the rest of the week, little feet flying, bodies leaning over the sides, looking back and forth, shouting to each other. They always seem to have fun.

“What did you do at school?” I asked.

“Height, weight, finger stick,” he said with more than the usual disdain. “And I got stunned.”

Stoned?” Sam hollered.

“No, stunned,” Trevor explained. “’Cos Leelawadee O’Halloran said I was looking at her too long. So she Belted me.”

“Oh, dear love.” I went over and hugged him, which he tolerated.

He fingered his Belt. “Why do boys have to wear Belts anyway?” I looked at his father.

“Once upon a time,” said Sam, “boys and men didn’t have to wear Belts. For some of them, probably most of them, that worked just fine. Others, however, became violent. Some people said it wasn’t fair to girls to let boys go outside. It wouldn’t have been fair to boys to keep them inside all the time, either. So we men have agreed to wear Belts.”

“It hurts,” Trevor informed him, “being Belted. I couldn’t get up off the floor for fifteen minutes.”

“Not as much as it used to hurt in the bad old days if a guy looked at a girl too long, and her father hit him in the face and knocked his teeth out,” said Sam.

“What does it hurt to look at a person anyway?” said Trevor.

“It’s disrespectful,” I said. “It hurts the person’s feelings.”

“It’s because she had these new shoes that play Wossup Possum videos,” said Trevor. “If I did not want people looking at me I’d get shoes that didn’t play videos.”

I sat very still and waited for the thoughts of violent acts toward an eight-year-old child to leave my mind. When they left I said, “Leelawadee O’Halloran wasn’t showing the best judgment, was she?” I did not say, “What can you expect from a child whose mother named her after a type font?” I said, “Still, those were her shoes. She wore them just to look at them, herself, and not to share them with you. You should try not to look at her any more.”

“So what else did you do at school?” said Sam.

“Just the same sort of thing as last time,” said Trevor. “We ran. We sang songs. We did gymnastics. We looked at pictures of everybody’s projects. We ate corn on the cob and bean soup and the-last-watermelon-this-year, only it wasn’t very good.We started another batch of paper. I guess this is the paper we made last time,” he said, showing off a pad of the kind of coarse unbleached paper kids use at school. “And we did karate, and I flipped Albert Brenner over my shoulder.”

“Albert Brenner?” I said. Albert Brenner is thirteen.

“Sure,” said Trevor. “In karate size matters less than paying attention. That’s the point. I guess Brenner was sort of distracted because of this new pattern for shoes that he’d designed, that he wanted us to make, ’cos shop comes right after martial arts, and that was what we did in shop. We all did different versions of the pattern on the computer first, and then we voted which pattern to put on the shoes.”

The school Trevor attends was named for a wealthy donor, a Colonel Shoemaker, whose father spelled the name “Schumacher.” I’ve often wondered what the Colonel might have said if he’d ever imagined that students would actually make shoes.

Well, now that we have electronic communication systems for most of the things kids study at school and most of the jobs adults do, some people felt that students and teachers ought to see each other’s faces some times. Not too often, of course; turns out that most of the differences that made it hard for people to get along, in the past, were aggravated when people had to do everything in the same room, and smoothed right out when people were working on their own devices in their own homes. So we voted, and all the children at Shoemaker Elementary School go to school one day every two weeks. That’s enough for children like Trevor, or like his buddy, Marvin Kwok; I think any school is probably more than brats like Leelawadee O’Halloran deserve. Anyway, they go to school and do the things children actually did in groups in the olden days: sports, music, shop. The older ones, who’ve learned a bit about how not to waste food at home, cook the meals. It’s meant to be more like a social occasion, a party, even, rather than military service, or prison, or whatever school as we knew it was meant to be like.


After dinner Trevor read to us from one of his new books, after his fashion.

“‘Kyle McClintock, a Man Who Defied Disability.’ Like that’s Grandpa,” he said, as if we didn’t know. “Cool! ‘Kyle McClintock was born with only one eye. In those days, all the children the same age in a neighborhood had to go to school on the same day. The ones who failed to learn things as quickly as others did were considered disabled.’ Like you said, Dad. Now I’ll let the Tablet read itself, okay?” He touched a switch.

“Doctors warned Kyle that his one eye was likely to wear out fast,” the mechanical voice read. “In those days most children were taught to read only with their eyes and talk only with their mouths. Although some devices had been designed to help people read and talk with their hands, many of those people were still able to communicate easily only with one another. Computers had flat screens. Kyle bought a very expensive device that translated the letters on a flat screen into shapes that he could read with his hand. The shapes formed only letters in a strange, oldfashioned code. Because he could see the letters other people were reading with their eyes, as well as the images, Kyle McClintock knew how much information he would be unable to read with his hands unless he could invent a new kind of computer screen.”

It’s always a hoot to read what some writer has made out of something you remember. Yes, that was why Dad invented the first Handscreen. More or less. They left out the bits about my grandfather having grown up in an institution because my great-grandmother was blind, and about employers not even considering Dad for jobs, when he was younger, because his artificial eye looked so real that they thought its not actually focussing and seeing things made Dad’s face look strange or untrustworthy. They never do mention that Dad was forty years old before I was born.

By the time I came along, things were a bit different. It was always hard for me to imagine a time when people who had just a little sight, just a little hearing, could get into ordinary schools as long as they “passed as normal” but might be expelled if they admitted they had “disabilities.” In my world disabled students had power; they could demand all kinds of expensive adaptive devices. A real disability was still a real headache, though. Blind people had a way of reading with their hands, and deaf people had a way of talking with their hands—and those were two completely different languages.

Hence the Handscreens.

I remember the first few computer programs that made voice recognition a standard feature. “Epic fails” was a phrase people used. One of the better designed voice-based programs stored everything in the cloud, so even blind people didn’t trust it. Screens were still hard and flat; sound was either turned on or turned off, and most people who could see anything, at all, turned off the sound permanently.

Well, humanity had some evolving to do, that’s all I can say. I mean, I’m glad Trevor can’t remember what it was like. People had become accustomed to rolling around in massive gas-burning cars. Naturally no blind person could drive. So people actually wanted to go through the process of building self-driving cars—what a nightmare!—before they thought about building self-driving Wheels.

No device is perfect. Wheels have been known to fail to follow the courses their owners set for them. Most people don’t want every trip they take in a Wheel to be broadcast around the world in the cloud. However, Wheels are light enough and move slowly enough that, if they do crash, nobody’s likely to be killed. If children really want to see for themselves what it’s like ramming a Wheel into a brick wall, they may have a lot of extra chores to do to pay for repairs, but what it’s like is: your Wheel stops.

And a lot of people thought the only “right” way to make love was to make babies; Grandmother gave birth to five children. Now, of course, when you go to the hospital to have a baby, the Nip and the Tuck are part of the package. People have just had to learn that, if nine out of ten babies are going to live for seventy-five years or longer, there’s no need to keep on making babies just in case something happens to the first one. It’s not really an old saying, although the kids think it is: “If God wanted you to have two children, you would’ve given birth to twins.”

Trevor does know that he had what were called aunts and uncles. One of the aunts is still living. That detail wouldn’t be mentioned in a story written for children. It’s too personal; it’s nobody’s business that my grandparents, crowded though the world was becoming, produced five children.

I think our evolution, as a species, actually benefitted from the plague…

“Then Kyle’s friend and working partner, Rayvon Mathis, died from the plague,” the mechanical voice went on. “At first nobody understood why so many people were dying so suddenly. The human population was more than three times what it is now. Scientists working to solve the problem of how to feed so many humans had experimented with changing the genes of living creatures. When they modified the genes of hogs to make them grow bigger and faster, a virus, formerly harmless to humans, had mutated to adapt to the new population of hogs. The mutation made the virus fatal to humans who lived in crowded conditions. In cities like New York, Rio de Janeiro, and Hong Kong, fewer than one tenth of the population survived.”

Even cities like Baltimore, where we live, lost appalling numbers of people. I remember…

“Want me to skip, Mom?” Trevor asked. He touched the switch. “Now I’m reading to myself, okay?”

“It’s okay,” I assured him. “I can guess what it says, anyway. People who lived in less crowded conditions and kept more to themselves were the ones who survived the plague. After the plague had run its course, people voted to keep the human population nice and safe and sparse. Only one family lives on one hectare of land. A family might mean one person, or two people, or two people with a parent or a child.”

“That’s not what it says.” Trevor punched my arm. “There’s some more about how Grandpa paid for Aunt Bernice’s education, and then… ‘Although many people who had been considered disabled died during the plague, many who had been considered able-bodied were considered disabled as a result of the fever. Kyle himself was now considered blind. His project attracted other engineers who were now considered disabled, such as Charles Rolland and Wayne Gilmore, both deaf, Dave Stephens, a wheelchair user, and Zahavith Rubenstein, who had been diagnosed as autistic’…Now I want the Tablet to read…”

The Tablet went on with the story of the early Handscreens. It bogged down when it came to the contributions of Claudia—“Seidenspinner! Stupid computer,” Trevor said, taking over the narrative. Claudia’s voice is the sound the Tablet synthesizes; it pronounces some words with her accent. She’s a very shy person. I suspect she programmed the Tablet not to recognize her name.

“Handscreens display images of what they scan in a three-dimensional form, allowing users to see shapes with their hands.” The writer hadn’t even heard about the addition of color. “They can also read written words aloud, and translate hand-signed words into written words.”


“Look, Mom, a toothbrush!” Trevor tugged on my hand. “A green one, in the gutter.”

“Look with your eyes not your hands,” I said automatically.

We don’t often go to the library. In the olden days, I understand, librarians had to be in the library every day. Now that job, like most jobs, is basically done from home; live-chat screens blur the background while allowing people to see the body language, so I often talk to lonely patrons live from the field where Sam and I raise our vegetables. I can even talk to them live from the shower.

That particular day, I was walking at Trevor’s pace, not even using our Wheels, because it was such a lovely day and in order to create a delay. Someone had tried to remove a real book from the real library. When the Tattletape peeped, my Handscreen alerted me; I set it in live-chat mode, so my face popped up on the screen that swung out from the scannergate as it locked. I said, “Please re-scan the things you’re carrying,” and the person jumped over the scannergate and ran, not apparently aware that the Tattletape would continue peeping, louder and louder, from the book itself until it was properly checked out or properly reshelved. In this kind of situation it’s nice to give the police time to investigate the person’s background, to know what to brace for.

As we walked, the message from the police dispatcher popped up on the screen: Dianne Farbey, age 74, had a police record consisting of two inappropriate emergency calls, within the past three years, both resolved without charges, some minor traffic violations from the years before Wheels, and “trespassing” during a protest in the 1990s. Her official ID photo showed up, as did the snapshot where she was clutching two books and sputtering with indignation.

“Is that the bad person?” Trevor asked.

“Well, I don’t think she seems like such a bad person, on the whole,” I said, dictating the message to the arresting officer, “but I would like to talk to her family along with Ms. Farbey, if that can be arranged.”

It could, of course. Their Wheels reached the library just ahead of us, which was as I’d hoped. When Trevor and I walked in, a woman, obviously her daughter, was holding Ms. Farbey’s hand and trying to reprove a child, smaller than Trevor, who was trying to climb over the scannergate.

I couldn’t resist flicking on live-chat mode and saying sternly, “Please don’t climb on me!”

It worked; the child squeaked and scampered back to Mama.

After the introductions Dianne Farbey made things easy for everyone. “No one was there to check out the books, so I just took them with me, as I’m sure everyone else does! I am not a thief. I had my library card!”

“I’m so sorry,” said her daughter to me. “Mother,” she said to Dianne Farbey, “you run your card through the scanner, now, and then the books. Remember?”

“The what?” said Dianne Farbey. “I had my library card right on top of my book. I always do.”

“I’m very sorry,” I said, and I was. Now we’d spend another year or two debating whether we needed a holographic projection of a librarian standing behind the scanner. I showed her, as her daughter had obviously showed her several times, how the scanner works, and suggested that her daughter accompany her in the library, henceforward.

The officer wasn’t pleased to have come out and not been able to arrest anybody; they don’t have quotas any more, but he was obviously one of the old breed, more interested in some sort of video game he’d had going in his Wheel than in keeping the peace. I’m not too pleased that the Baltimore Police Department still finds jobs for that kind, myself.

“Did you ever see a real bad person?” Trevor piped up.

I blushed, but Officer Grouchy’s voice mellowed. “I sure did, buddy. Down Douglass Street, just Saturday night, we had a blood thief. You know what a blood thief is?”

Trevor knew. “A bad person who cuts somebody to get some blood to fake a finger stick.”  

“That’s right, that’s what they do. And when we find them, we Belt’em so hard they jump up in the air before they fall down!”

Some humans have more evolving to do than others. Anyway, if it helped Grouchy feel better about his interrupted game, it couldn’t be all bad.

“I’m not a bad person,” Dianne Farbey declared.

“Of course you’re not,” I said. “I look forward to serving youall again, the next time.” Dianne Farbey remembered the difference between “you” and “youall,” I’m sure, but she let it go.

On the way back Trevor showed me a dragonfly, a vermilion-red one, and a dogwood tree, a red-violet one, and a garden bordered with early asters, and a bird.

“A robin, a young one, I think a male. But something’s wrong with it; it’s trying to fly and it can’t. It’s old enough to know how to fly.”

“It looks as if it’s eaten a lot of pokeberries,” I said. Pokeberry pulp is messy and tasteless; it’s the seeds that damage the brain, even of a bird.

“Is that cat going to eat it?” my son asked next.

“Not while we’re on the street,” I promised. I could not, however, raise a signal from the cat’s collar.

“It hasn’t got a collar,” Trevor explained.

“What a pity.” The collars they make for cats these days are a treat to watch in action, putting out holographic displays to distract cats from doing things they shouldn’t do and lead them back to where they have some right to be. Still, some cats pull off their collars. Maybe fleas get under them.

“It hasn’t had a collar for a long time,” Trevor said. “See, the fur on its neck…”

“It must be lost,” I said. “Here, kitty, kitty.” I leaned over and wiggled my fingers to catch its attention. It was lost all right; it followed us home.

Before the plague people used to argue about things like whether animals had a right to roam outdoors. Nobody had wasted the city council’s time with that sort of silly argument for years. Nevertheless, two days after we published the news that we’d found the homeless tame cat, DaVernyn O’Halloran published a proposal to round up and sterilize homeless cats in the city. I couldn’t believe he was digging up the same old arguments from the olden days—in one paragraph the poor homeless cats couldn’t survive, in the next paragraph they were going to multiply like flies and wipe out entire bird species, as if there were birds in North America that hadn’t evolved the ability to coexist with cats for thousands of years. Really it was the kind of thing you’d expect from a man whose daughter is named after a type font, wears video-screen shoes to school, and Belts little boys for looking at her videos.

Let’s just say that that proposal never came up for discussion in the council.


Since there’s no penalty for having been the owners of a cat that decides to go feral on you, the way the majority of cats did during the plague years, our cat’s rightful heirs turned up later that week.

It was the usual story. Frisby was her mother’s cat, not theirs. He didn’t like their cat, also male, and therefore wanted nothing to do with them, so when the old lady died Frisby went missing. The collar was found, beeping wearily, its battery wearing down, early the next morning. Frisby was nowhere nearby. Cats are safer outdoors than they used to be, since Wheels stop short of any moving thing. Still, Frisby’s heirs had intended to continue feeding him, but they’d never seen him.

We hadn’t had a cat. We had had crickets. So there was no trouble about Frisby moving in with us, and of course the nights were quieter afterward, and I’m sure the rugs are safer.

“I am delighted,” Trevor said solemnly, “that someone in this family is smaller than I am.”

He was a mature cat, maybe all of ten years old, the vet said. He was a blotched tabby, not a mackerel tabby, Trevor said.

I’m not the one paying for a color-enhanced Handscreen. I inherited Dad’s microphthalmia, on both sides, as daughters of men who have it on one side usually do. My eyes, both fully artificial, have never seen colors. People don’t miss what they’ve never had. To me the screen that heats up to indicate white or a pale color felt confusing, disorienting. It would take me a long time to get used to that kind of Handscreen.

And I’ll admit I didn’t really look forward to getting used to having an animal about the house, either. Sighted people think of cats as creatures that purr and catch mice. Blind people think of cats as creatures that dart out under our feet, and if Frisby had tried that I was prepared to kick him so hard he’d fly up in the air before he fell down, whether he could land on his feet or not. But he never was that sort of cat.

“Do you think of yourself as blind?” Sam asked, one night after we were sure Trevor was asleep, when I’d mentioned the difference it makes in people’s attitude toward living with cats.

“Not often,” I said. “Dad would be disappointed…but sometimes I do. I am blind. Totally blind. What I was born with in the way of eyes never saw any difference between midnight and midday. I’ve only ever seen with my hands. It makes a difference when a quiet animal spends its life on a level my hands don’t feel. We never had a cat in the house.”

My parents wanted my childhood to be like Bernice Mathis’s childhood in every way. Dad wanted that so much that he seemed to deny the main differences between Bernice and me. I wouldn’t have wanted Bernice not to have had her eyes, any more than I would have wanted not to have had a father. If he’d thought about it I’m sure Dad would have understood that; he was, after all, the one who reminded me that Bernice had already had her turn to be the age I was, and one day it’d be my turn to be the age Bernice was. But he didn’t want things like beautiful strong eyes, or loving full-time fathers, to make more difference than age did. I think.

“People still tend to become more farsighted with age,” Sam said, later that night. “I wonder whether Frisby’s first human had trouble seeing him under her feet, too.”

Frisby said nothing.

I warned my parents that Frisby was living with us, when they came to visit. He stayed out of the room, though; apparently he was out in the garden with Trevor.

“DaVernyn O’Halloran,” Mom said. “Wasn’t he one of those children…they had Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and Bernice was a Big Sister?”

“The problem child,” Dad said. “The one who confessed that he’d made up those awful stories about Bernice because he was jealous that she was his sister’s Big Sister and not his.”

While dinner was in the oven we watched television. The television’s not hooked into the solar panels like the things we use every day. One person can generate enough energy to run it, but neither of my parents cared to sit around watching me pedal, nor did I care to watch them; I got out the backups, and we charged a few extra batteries while we watched the city council Preview. Anybody can go to the meetings—that’s encouraged here in Baltimore, almost as much by the council members themselves as by the after-business parties—but, in order to speak or vote, you have to have watched the Preview. Most times, after watching the Preview, you decide to let at least one of the council members speak for you. You can pre-vote for that.

This time looked like most times, at first. There was some discussion of changing the commuter train schedule between Washington and New York. None of us rides the train often, so we wouldn’t be voting on that. Someone had reported damaged pavement out toward Dundalk. Nobody expected fixing that to exceed the city’s street budget, so there wouldn’t be much discussion about that. It looked as if those who attended the meeting wouldn’t have long to wait for the party to begin.

Then our council member, Helen Hsiu, said: “I’m being challenged for my seat on this council by my constituent, DaVernyn O’Halloran. He’ll be presenting his campaign platform at the meeting. I find it rather off-putting…for one thing it’s very long.”

“We’ll be going to the meeting after all,” Dad reported, just as Trevor, Sam, and Frisby came in.

“Have you met our cat Frisby?” Trevor said. Frisby let Trevor pick him up and set him on the couch beside Mom. He sniffed at each of my parents’ hands.

“I used to like dogs myself,” Dad said, “when my eye still worked.”

“Oh Grandpa,” Trevor said, “can you see things on your Handscreen now?”

I hadn’t wanted to ask, and Dad hadn’t complained, but he said, “Much better, thanks. I think it was just a matter of getting accustomed to it but my doctor’s changed my supplements, temporarily, just to be sure. Trevor, do you think you can sit through a really long council meeting?”

“’Course I can,” Trevor said. “I can read.”


His eyes were still only six years old, of course. I checked to make sure his Tablet was set for large typefonts and loaded with fully illustrated books, just to be sure. I was tempted to check what kind of reading material Marvin had brought, when they sat down side by side, but restrained myself from being so rude to the Kwoks.

Anyway, they behaved themselves, and Helen wasn’t exaggerating when she’d said that O’Halloran’s “platform” was long. Twenty-five different things, the man wanted. The alarming thing was that he seemed to think other people would want any of them. He wanted all kinds of animals, not only cats, rounded up and kept off the streets—claimed it was too much trouble to run his Wheel through the cleaner before bringing it inside. He wanted a ban on hedges, because the Douglass Street blood thief had been hiding in a hedge. He wanted the city to put everyone back on a central electrical power grid, the way they were in the olden days, when if a storm knocked out one panel—well, the equivalent of one panel, whatever that would’ve been—it took out the whole neighborhood’s. He wanted one central instruction program for all the children in all the schools. I think, although my brain was reeling, he’d even said something about a central authority to approve of all publications, before he sat down.

“I’m speechless,” Dad muttered, but when the chair called for comments Dad stood up.

“Mr. O’Halloran may not have been fully aware of it at the time, but when he was born,” Dad said, “the city of Baltimore had many of these things that Mr. O’Halloran thinks he wants. I would never have expected that a younger person would want to go back to those times. My generation worked hard to move society past these bad ideas. But it’s not just the intergenerational insult that concerns me here. Neighbors, most of Mr. O’Halloran’s proposals have one thing in common. They are not grounded in respect for each individual’s freedom of choice. They are as rude, as disrespectful, as extending the traditional closing of meetings from ‘God save us all’ into a formal prayer; a prayer within one religious tradition, say, that petitions specifically for followers of other traditions to convert to the speaker’s own tradition.”

Helen Hsiu started shouting “Hear! Hear!” Of course we all joined in, afterward; even the non-voting section.

“Mr. O’Halloran,” said the chair, after several minutes of “Hear! Hear!”, “I think you’ve heard that?”

O’Halloran looked at the floor like a sulky child.

“Is there any other business?” There wasn’t. The chair rapped his gavel. “God save us all. The meeting is adjourned. Let the party begin.”

Weather not only permitted but encouraged the party to begin out in the street. (We still have wide, smooth streets from the days of huge, heavy vehicles.) As we walked out people started singing:

All Maryland is of one mind, oh Maryland, my Maryland:
Here peace and freedom all may find, in Maryland, my Maryland.
Toward true progress we’re inclined, and meddling will no longer bind
The liberty of humankind, in Maryland, my Maryland.

I suppose O’Halloran was born right around the time our state voted to add a verse people could actually sing, without feeling queasy, to the state song. Helen Hsiu walked up beside us. “It’s a disease, of course,” she said.

“Yes.” Mom knew what she meant. “Control mania.”

“The hard part is persuading people like that to get help in time,” she said. “It’s too bad that he has a child.”

I was scanning the crowd for Trevor; since he hadn’t led Marvin straight to us I guessed he must have followed Marvin to the Kwoks, which it turned out that he had. With them was a girl, bigger than they were, with a lot of very long thin braids.

“Mother, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa,” Trevor recited proudly, “this is Leelawadee O’Halloran from school. Lee, my parents are Mr. and Mrs. Aguilera, and my grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. McClintock.”

We all greeted her warmly, though I’ll admit that uncharitable thoughts came to my mind. I don’t call myself “Mrs. Aguilera,” and hardly recognize that name as meaning me—though it’s hardly likely to mean Sam’s mother, a casualty of the plague, and I do recognize “the Aguileras” as including me—but I didn’t feel like telling the O’Halloran child to call me “Kylene McClintock,” either. I noticed that Mom didn’t mention her name being Michi Hayazawa, either.

“Mr. and Mrs. Aguilera,” recited Leelawadee O’Halloran, “I’m sorry I Belted Trevor and Marvin at school that day, and I’d like to invite them to watch the whole Wossup Possum video on my Tablet. It was only fragments on those shoes, anyway.”

Needless to say we all watched the kids closely—the Kwoks, too—and what d’you think, they behaved perfectly. They watched the cartoon, they sang along when the adults sang, they danced when other people danced. Anybody would have thought Leelawadee O’Halloran was as nice a child as our two.


The funny thing, I mean the peculiar thing, was that she seemed to like our two.

“I wonder why?” I asked Trevor, after having seen Leelawadee O’Halloran five times in the next three weeks or so. “Don’t girls her own age play with her?”

“I don’t think there are any girls her age at school with us this year,” he said. “I’m not sure. There are some girls who come on the other Schoolwheels from other neighborhoods; I think they’re more like my age. Then there are three girls who are ten years old. They don’t like anyone who’s younger.”

I still thought it was peculiar for an eight-year-old child to want to play with other children as often as that one seemed to do. I wondered whether her father’s mental condition had anything to do with that.

Dad reported that he was getting better use from his colorized Handscreen by beginning with the unenhanced view, to which he was accustomed, and then checking for light-and-dark and then for color.

“Will there ever be a world without disabilities?” he said rhetorically. “As long as people get older, they’ll have to deal with increasing wear and tear on their faculties, year by year.”

“A world where people accept some disabilities, as they get older, is better than that other way some people wanted to build a world without disabilities,” Mom said.

It’s still mostly a Jewish tradition, but the library does observe a day of remembrance for that, every year; for one week the history material is on display, and some years people bring in pictures of the people who were murdered, some for having disabilities.

“And some things will always be hard to spot, at first,” I said, thinking of DaVernyn O’Halloran.

“Does that child…” Mom guessed what I was thinking.

“At least she seems to have a healthy taste for vegetables, as a snack,” I said as lightly as possible. “Once or twice a week she’s come out to buy some.”

“And lingered?”

“And lingered. At least there’ve been no more violent confrontations.”

“More than one child even living in a house used to be considered normal,” Mother said. “I don’t think it necessarily did all of them all that much harm. I think you and Bernice Mathis were actually good for each other.”

“I don’t think Marvin’s bad for Trevor at all,” I said, “but who knows about the O’Halloran child.”

What she’d told the boys was that her mother was ill.

“There’ll never be a world without colds,” Dad said. “There’ll never be a cure for colds, because the cold is the cure.”


I found out a good deal more about the O’Halloran child, not too long after that.

We were all, Sam and Trevor and I, and even Frisby, sailing down the bay to a farmers’ market to unload some vegetables. It was quiet, not much wind, and we weren’t talking or singing, and we heard something that must have sounded just a bit different from the usual seagull noise; different enough that we all concentrated on listening for it, and sure enough, it was a child. So we steered a little closer—and it was Leelawadee’s voice.

Then it stopped. None of us liked the sound of the silence after that child’s cry, “No, don’t,” had stopped.

Sam anchored the boat, quietly. We slipped over the side, quietly, carrying shoes and Handscreen around our necks, and waded onto the shore as quietly as possible. Trevor, as usual, held my hand. Sam didn’t; we lost sight of him. Frisby, having decided at the last moment to come ashore on Sam’s shoulder, bounded ahead of Trevor. I suppose, without meaning to, we let the cat guide us.

But we were the first to hear Leelawadee say, “Mrs. Aguilera’s out there on the bay. See her boat?” She sniffled.

“Wouldn’t matter if Mrs. Aguilera were right here,” O’Halloran said, as we tiptoed up on them. “Can’t you tell by looking at her? She’s blind.”

They were in some scrub bushes near the water. Sam, we found out later, had rushed further in to check a boathouse where he thought someone who was ashamed of what he intended to do might have gone.

“See the Aguileras’ cat,” said Leelawadee O’Halloran.

“See the Aguileras right here,” I said grimly, focussing the Handscreen on her.  “Hello, neighbor O’Halloran. Is everything all right?”

“Wossat on your face?” Trevor asked her. “It’s on your shirt, too. Have you got a cold?”

“I thought it sounded as if something were wrong,” I said, temporizing, thinking of something to say that wouldn’t sound too threatening. I meant to let him be dealt with properly by the authorities. I lied, “There’s a different kind of infection going around town. Not a cold. Treatable. Would you like to go in with us for a finger stick? You’d better come too, DaVernyn, since you’ve been exposed.”

“Is it a bad infection?” Trevor asked.

“It can get bad if it’s not treated,” I said. “If you see anything on her skin or clothes, don’t get close to her. Let the doctor…”

“Get out of here,” O’Halloran shouted at him.

He ran, and I was glad, because you can’t Belt one male and not another one standing within range. As a blind woman I have that switch on my Handscreen, too, as well as on my wrist watch.

“Don’t touch her,” I babbled, knowing exactly what he was trying to wipe off his daughter’s clothes and skin. Of course he ignored me. Of course I Belted him.

So did Leelawadee. Apparently his Belt registered both charges in just close enough succession that he really did jerk up into the air, a few inches, before he came down.

The switch that fires the electric current through the Belt also activates a siren. People are supposed to come to the rescue. Police come, if you’re close enough that they pick up the signal—but we don’t have as many of them as we once did, in Baltimore, and they don’t spend much time along the bay. In our case the person who came to the rescue was Sam.

“Can’t you shut those things off,” he screamed.

“They go for ten minutes,” Leelawadee howled back. “Even the police can’t shut them off.”

We put our fingers in our ears and waited, since it would be illegal as well as hateful to sail away before the police came. Nobody tried to find out where Frisby had gone, either; obviously as far from the horrible noise as he could get. I wondered whether the noise was meant to help incapacitate the victim.

When the sirens shut themselves off at last Sam asked Leelawadee O’Halloran, “Did someone else make that mess on your shirt?”

She nodded. “My father did. He’s the one who’s sick. Not me.”

“Has he done that before?” I asked.

She nodded again.

“Did he threaten to do something else if you Belted him?” Sam asked.

She nodded again. “He said he’d kill my dog. He’s hurt my dog, anyway. He’s probably,” she said, cold-blooded as children can be, “going to hurt Trevor.”

Trevor had sensibly gone back to the boat; but he wasn’t quite big enough to lift the anchor. O’Halloran was starting to pull himself together; he’d slithered several yards down toward the water, and seemed to be trying to get to the boat.

“He’s not going to hurt Trevor,” Sam said. “Why don’t you go and join Trevor in the boat now.”

“May I,” she said, sweet as children can be, “look for your cat first?”

“I don’t expect the cat will abandon Trevor for very long,” I said. “I think you’re safer in the boat.”

Both of us were still hoping to hear a police motorbike, being so far from a road on which a Wheel would roll. Neither of us heard one. I started, not running or dancing, exactly, but walking briskly around in circles, the Text Message Dance, trying to find a signal to send a message: Stunned pedophile on bay shore, help please.

Sam walked down toward O’Halloran. “You are not going to hurt Trevor. You are not going to have a chance. Don’t even think about it. Just sit down.”

O’Halloran turned around and told him, in the foulest terms I suppose he could think of, exactly how he was going to hurt Sam, and then me (“your blind very-rude-word”), and then Trevor, and Leelawadee, and her dog, and our cat, and if any police did show up…

So there was nothing else I could have done. “Sam! Leave him! Get clear!” I sidestepped so as not to point it in Trevor’s direction, either, and let O’Halloran have the charge from the watch. And then we all put our fingers in our ears and sat down again, except for O’Halloran, who was knee-deep in the Bay when he fell.

That time the police picked up the signal.

Sam asked Officer Brisk whether O’Halloran was still alive, not that it makes a great deal of difference to a convicted pedophile. Officer Brisk thought he might be alive; but he wasn’t. DaVernyn O’Halloran drowned in three feet of water.


They say it’s boys who never quite get over losing their fathers; girls, like Bernice Mathis, can survive without fathers if they have the other things they need. Lee’s mother, Olivia Brown, wasn’t good for much—her sickness turned out to be the kind that comes in bottles—but Lee wanted to stay with her, and we thought that would be the best way, having their own home while being part of our family; it had worked for Bernice.

I’ve become fond of Lee, over time. Of course you only ever have one child, unless you have some sort of multiple birth, and you never love another child the same way you love your own. Then again, don’t most adults love most children, if we get to know them? Anyway Lee has her own mother.

After we’d all searched and called for more than two hours, we found Frisby, and he let Trevor bring him back home.

I felt bad about O’Halloran, of course, but everyone agreed that I’d had no choice.

“I suppose,” Dad said, “there’s only one way to eradicate some kinds of disabilities.”