Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31 Links

In case you're wondering, of the e-mails and blogs I read, I generally link to about one out of ten. Categories: Animals, Business, Cybersecurity, Food, Frugal, Health, Outrage, Phenology (post not link), Travel, Writing.


Chickens...yes, some chickens, especially the smaller breeds, can fly up into trees, where they're vulnerable to flying and climbing predators. We always used to try to bring them inside before they started to find a place to roost for the night. Chickens like to go to bed an hour or so before sunset, in my part of the world, possibly because they seem to be the local native species of mosquitoes' favorite food source and are motivated to move out of the mosquitoes' reach. And yes, Games, Bantams, Anconas, even "Easter Eggers" can fly...not like wild birds, but higher than mosquitoes. And as far as owls, weasels, and raccoons are concerned, they are fruit for the picking.


Are there chickens in HSUS shelters? Heavenforbidandfend. On to the next animal-related post...a good one, although sad:


So this is a dog day. (For new readers: if you're near the city listed, you can click on the link below each picture to find out where you might still be able to meet, and even adopt, the dog or cat shown. I pick the cutest pictures showing up on a search of three cities. If you're in a different part of the United States, enter your own zip code into Petfinder's search box to see similar animals closer to you. You're on your own about making sure that these really are pets in need of adoption, rather than pets that have been stolen.)

Bogart from Arlington: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/35024688
Shane from New York...by "recommend an adults-only home" they may mean that he resembles a breed that has been known to bite when mauled: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/34935140
BLUE see also COOKIE
Old Blue from Marietta, Georgia: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/37295135
+LB Johnson documents that dogs can be very clever at getting into things they shouldn't touch:


Why Costco is more like Sam's Club than like Wal-Mart:

Why "public-private partnerships" are a bad thing...for the economy, as well as for the individuals who use them. I've ranted about this in other years.

Why businesses shouldn't rush to discard all but the newest electronic junk...because even pre-digital technology has its points:


Should Twitter be considered a "utility" and forbidden to keep its current mechanical flagging system, because left-wing trolls have been abusing that system to flag and "shadowban" even moderately conservative Twitter accounts? I hope not. Twitter is private; I'd like to see it stay private and develop a system for ensuring that, while it remains easy for individuals to filter what they read on Twitter in any way they choose, humans make sure that only genuinely abusive content (e.g. identity theft, fraud, slander/libel, personal harassment, espionage, credible threats of violence, etc., that violate existing laws about what can legally be published) gets blocked on Twitter, site-wide.


Food (Yuck) 

Poisoned dog food alert...the FDA is investigating...


Food (Yum) 

This recipe from +Sandy KS is delicious and gluten-free; I'd even recommend that the cafe here add it to their list of gourmet treats! (Leave the pricey bee product out of mine, thanks. For those of us who can tolerate other sweeteners, what bees regurgitate is mainly a really expensive way to add stickiness to the kitchen and glyphosate to the diet.)


Here's a cheap way (especially in summer) to make gluten-free "noodles" you might like better than gluten-based pasta or expensive gluten-free pasta, in tomato sauce.


This one is neither especially healthy nor gluten-free...well, if you omit the pie crust and serve it as a pudding it would be technically gluten-free. Whether it's safe or not, for those who do or don't have the wheat gluten intolerance gene, still depends very much on whether the manufacturer used natural, BT, or E. Coli ("Roundup Ready") corn to make all that cornstarch. Use this recipe at your own risk. It used to be safe for celiacs, and once we get glyphosate banned it should be safe again...and it would be yummy. And if you can get fresh sweet cherries, organically grown and still bursting with Vitamin C, which aren't likely to grow in my orchard this summer but are probably available somewhere Out There, it would be "healthy."


And here's a recipe treasure trove...Dr. McDougall's staff have finally got (many of) Mary McDougall's recipes into one place online! Indexed and searchable...and if a recipe has Mary McDougall's name on it, it's been tested and found good. If you want menu suggestions this site should satisfy you and your family for months. All recipes will be vegan, most will be gluten-free, many will be sugar-free, and most will be good enough to satisfy the people who don't need recipes to be "free" from anything (yet).



Y'know, I've not written a lot about being frugal here because I am frugal. This web site is saturated with frugality. How much would a fish post, if a fish had a blog, about water? Here, for those who are new to the concept, is a link-up of people who've posted things they considered frugal.



+LadyNightwaveBrendaMarie Writer posted a reflection on writing, or doing any job, too much. There's a reason why the Bible mandated that everyone, including the "beasts of burden," should enjoy one "day of rest" out of every seven. It's in the Ten Commandments. Pushing yourself, or anyone else, to do the same thing seven days in a row, is actually mentioned ahead of murder and adultery in the Bible, Gentle Readers.



Why shouldn't The Elderly & Disabled be shoved into cell phone plans, if they prefer land phones? Two main reasons why this abuse is especially heinous: (1) Land phones tend to work better, year-round. (2) Land phones tend to be bigger and easier for The Elderly & Disabled to operate--there's still a brisk market for oversized land phones with oversized buttons. (How Adayahi's big hands and farsighted eyes ever allowed him to use a cell phone, I have no idea; let's just say I've given up expecting him to be able to use one on any given day--even though he qualifies for all kinds of special free-minute plans and is miserly enough to try to use them. I can imagine my father receiving a cell phone in the mail and solemnly telling whoever was helping him "read" his mail, "Get it away from me. Use it if you can. It's too little to be of any use to me, but be kind--it's only a baby, not full-grown!" He said that about so many things that came along while he was alive, and were offered to him through Virginia's wonderful blind people's network...) Oh, and a third thing: cell phones are less secure and make it easier for hackers, identity thieves, and other predators to harass The Elderly & Disabled.


(I received that link from an online network based in Canada; the story is about corporate elder abuse in Missouri. Do we have readers in Missouri? Well, this issue sort of connects to something pending in the U.S. Senate this week...our Canadian correspondents don't have access to Popvox.com, but U.S. readers do, and once again this web site encourages youall to use it. There ought to be a law. There is about to be a law, either mandating that the United States help cell phone companies push more cell phone and WiFi towers into neighborhoods that might prefer to do without them, or mandating that cell phone companies wait to build user bases that will fund the construction of any new towers...the position of this web site is that the cell phone companies should have to wait for the user bases, without federal subsidies. Here's the Popvox page for the bill; for the first time in a long time, the Popvox miniature edition of the full text popped up when I clicked on it.)



We had just a brief freeze and some actual snow on Sunday night, Monday morning...just enough to wither trees that had been budding. A local man who obviously lives at a lower altitude than I do told me his persimmon tree had already put out actual leaves, an inch or two long. This will not be a good year for fruit. (Then again, remember 1980 and 1981...if we get a normal winter next year, next summer may be a fabulous year for fruit.)


Hiking in the Midwestern States, with a group that apparently still organizes long walking tours:



Does your blog need daily topic suggestions?


(I probably won't make the time to follow this post daily, but I'll share this now: I have indeed eaten ice cream for breakfast...because I still don't have a plugged-in refrigerator, so if I eat ice cream at dinner I have to plan on eating the rest of it at breakfast the next day. Even with the cats' enthusiastic help, and grateful though I am that Tickle and Heather seem to be lactose-tolerant, that's two meals!)

What the blank-blank-bleep-bleep does Google want from web sites? Here's what I want, and what the #ReadersRevolt hashtag is (partly) about: I want to keep writers and readers, rather than search engines owned by monster corporations, in control of the private Internet user experience. So, take this one with a grain of salt. Google has been systematically steering readers away from this web site for years. Twingly is the search engine that indexes individual blogs, as distinct from the so-called blog pages on corporate web sites. Use it often. Use Bing, Yahoo Search, et al., too, just to remind Google that no matter how good a search engine is, it does not and should never actually own the world. (And I personally am still looking for a search engine that does not, as all the big ones now do, ignore spellings and strings of words you've typed in specifically for disambiguation purposes--e.g. "Priscilla King's cat Bisquit" as distinct from "biscuits" and "Bisquick" and "restaurants that serve biscuits in a zip code near where our spyware has determined you're going online"--and force you to wade through thousands of pages of garbage before you find what you're actually searching for. When I search for "book trouble bush author earl miers" I am not looking for fifty other books about bushes, the Bush family, earls, people called Earl, and trouble; a good search engine will zip straight to a book titled The Trouble Bush by Earl Schenck Miers.)


It's a book, and a good one at that, but if you search for it in the normal way Amazon wants to steer you to all kinds of irrelevant garbage with "Myers" as the author or "brush" in the title.

Would you like to be a blogger too? Here's what you should know:


(And yes, it's true that blogging will push you in the direction of not taking time to fix every single typo.)


What are your goals, if you do want to be a writer or blogger...and if they include "Getting rich, like J.K. Rowling," I recommend choosing a different route to riches now. (Literary writers don't want to admit it, but although popular writers like Stephen King, John Grisham, Adriana Trigiani, and J.K. Rowling have been accused of "having no style, only luck," the fact is that they have formidable talents...for marketing as well as storytelling, if not for writing especially poetic-sounding prose!)


If you are a blogger, does your blog or web site have a song?


Book Review: Deliciously Light

Title: Bon Appétit: Deliciously Light
Amazon is behaving oddly

Author: Bon Appetit magazine staff

Date: 2001

Publisher: Condé Nast

ISBN: none

Length: 80 pages

Illustrations: a few black-and-white drawings

Quote: “For many people, serving soup and salad together captures the essence of light, delicious dining.”

What you’ll love (or regret) about this cookbook is that it is, even more than the recipes it contains, “deliciously light.” This is not a big glossy coffee-table cookbook, nor is it a Complete Collection for Complete Beginners. It’s aimed at people with some cooking experience, quite a lot of money, and an interest in trendy, yuppie-friendly, relatively “light” recipes.

+Sandy KS recently complained that some people are down-rating all food blogs because it’s hard to tell whether people have tested the recipes they post. Well…in some cases that’s true. The number of combinations of foods that people will try to put onto the same plate is probably finite. After reading and testing a certain number of recipes for cucumber-and-yogurt dip you can say that (a) the tzatziki recipe on page 6 is likely to appeal to those who like that sort of thing, and (b) it’s a long way from being the “lightest” tzatziki recipe in any extensive collection since it does add sour cream to the yogurt, and (c) if you’re not really wild about the taste of yogurt and/or sour cream, plain old cucumber slices with a sprinkle of salt and/or lemon would be a great deal lighter than a cucumber-flavored cream dip scooped up on wheat pita chips, and would also be vegan and gluten-free, and (d) but then again, if you do like yogurt and/or want to use unsugared yogurt as a probiotic supplement, you’ll probably like tzatziki with or without sour cream. 

Then again there are combinations—I think of a recipe from a popular children's "encyclopedia" of my youth, a party dessert that was basically whole juicy oranges slurped up through mint-flavored Life Savers—that may look better on a page, or even on a plate, than they actually taste: I’ve never met anybody who remembered ever enjoying any combination of mint and orange flavors as much as they enjoyed either flavor by itself.

If enough people fund my web site to bring this “bookstore” to real life, one thing we may do is test recipes.
I’ve not tested most of these recipes and don’t plan to, but I can encourage less adventurous readers to try some of them for yourselves. There’s a walnut-garlic dip that still contains more oil than I’d care to dip my raw veg into, but that gets its thick consistency and creamy color from boiled potato rather than whipped oil, egg, or cream (it’s a vegan recipe). There’s a naturally pink “Watermelon Lemonade” that’s rich in trace minerals and guaranteed to be yummy with or without alcoholic additions. There are trendy, yet tasty, baby spinach and fruit salads (several of them). There are lots of recipes that are “free” from whatever you’re trying to avoid.

There are some recipes I personally wouldn’t care to bother with. Why, if people want to eat “light,” would they want to add lots of butter to rice and pack it into ramekins rather than just, y’know, boiling it? Cooking rice in chicken broth adds more than enough calories from saturated fat without adding butter! And why would anyone interested in eating “light” even consider breading their chicken not only with flour and breadcrumbs, but with cheese? And, given that most of us are accustomed to eating green beans either steamed, or stir-fried in just enough oil to film the wok, how can a “light” cookbook even mention boiling the beans in saltwater and then tossing them in six tablespoons of olive oil? Obviously the magazine editor was “lightening up” a recipe that must have called for melting a whole stick of butter into those beans, but…yuck! How overripe did “green” beans have to be to give anyone the idea of adding fat to them in the first place?

However, if you can get good fresh fruit and veg, I’d imagine that any of these recipes would be delicious, because fresh fruit and veg are delicious. The trend for light,  plant-based food is far from over, and the “trend” to push people into places where they can’t raise their own veg if they tried should keep anything that involves fresh local produce a status symbol for years to come. If you enjoy cultivating a reputation as a gourmet cook, you'll probably enjoy this book.

Magazine offices are not living authors so this is not a Fair Trade Book. It is, however, small and light enough to fit into a package with several Fair Trade Books, so you're encouraged to scroll down and find some. To buy it here, send $5 per book + $5 per package by postal money order to P.O. Box 322 (addresses at the very bottom of the screen, or send that amount + $1 per online payment to the e-mail address Salolianigodagewi will send you. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Book Review: Kingdom Keepers II

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn

Author: Ridley Pearson

Author's web page: http://ridleypearson.com/

Date: 2008

Publisher: Disney / Hyperion

ISBN: 978-1-4231-0708-8

Length: 377 pages

Quote: “[T]he Magic Kingdom…offered the holograms of five teenage kids as Park hosts. The five kids who had auditioned for those roles were typically forbidden to enter the Magic Kingdom. But tonight was special.”

Exactly how it’s possible for a holographic image to be used to harm the reality it’s an image of—directly, such that if any of the teenagers falls asleep the hologram will somehow prevent his or her waking up—is not made clear in this novel; in the real world that wouldn’t happen. But who cares? All a novel like this one really needs is an excuse for the kids to spend a wild night chasing villains through the amusement park, with lots of reference to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park and lots of the kinds of special effects young movie-goers apparently enjoy.

Ridley Pearson is not as funny as his occasional collaborator Dave Barry. That’s probably not a problem either. Since the untimely death of Douglas Adams nobody has been as funny as Dave Barry. Let’s just say that a certain cerebral resonance probably led these two different writers to collaborate in the first place, and Pearson can also be funny, but he's tagged more as an adventure writer than as a humor writer.

So, in this story readers meet, or readers of Kingdom Keepers I re-encounter, a typical Disney-movie mix of diverse teenagers who've become friends because five of them were chosen to become holographic hosts at the Animal Kingdom Park. Something went wrong, and the holograms have power over the real kids' brainwaves, so it's a good thing that they have a few additional friends to participate in this adventure.

If you enjoy the idea of staying in an amusement park at night and doing all the dangerous, stupid-unless-evildoers-are-chasing-you sort of things you wouldn’t be allowed to do there during the daytime, this goofy, fast-moving, easy-reading novel is for you. There's a whole series!

The first four volumes have definitely been out long enough that we can resell them as Fair Trade Books: $5 per book, $5 per package, $1 per online payment, and if you order all four as used books here, the four-book package will cost $25 by U.S. postal money order or $26 by Paypal. From that price we send $1 per book to Pearson or a charity of his choice.  The more recent three volumes, and the forthcoming eighth volume...there's always somebody who didn't like a new book and is willing to sell a copy dirt-cheap on Amazon the day after the book reaches local bookstores, but it would be much cooler to buy at least the new books directly from Pearson's web site. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Book Review: What My Parents Did Right

A Fair Trade Book

Title: What My Parents Did Right

Editor: Gloria Gaither

Date: 1991

Publisher: Star Song / Jubilee

ISBN: 1-56233-025-X

Length: 263 pages

Illustrations: black-and-white photo sections

Quote: “With television talk-show hosts declaring that ‘every home is dysfunctional in some way’…I believed that…no family is immune to problems and hard times. Yet…I’ve been encouraged…[M]y mother and father taught me about God and about serving Him. That’s just one of the many things my parents did right.”

Gloria Gaither, whose testimony (quoted above) opens this book, was in a position to request family success stories from a lot of Christian celebrities. The contents page of this book reads like a roll call of Christian writers, speakers, and singers. In more or less alphabetical order, readers get family memories from Gloria Gaither, then Kay Arthur, Robert Benson, William K. Brehm, Jill Briscoe, Tony Campolo, Bart Campolo, S. Truett Cathy, Charles Colson, Lawrence Crabb, John R. Dellenback, Richard M. De Vos, Dez Dickerson, James and Danae Dobson, Joni Eareckson Tada, Carl Erskine, Colleen Townsend and James Evans, Bill Gaither, Steve Green, Darrell Harris,Larnelle Harris, Stephen Hicks, Dana Huff, June Hunt, Carman Licciardello, Florence Littauer, Mark Lowry, Richard Lugar, John MacArthur, Karen Burton Mains, Ralph Martin, Tony Melendez, Calvin Miller, Janette Oke, Sandi Patti, Frank Peretti, Ron Sider, Gary Smalley, Norm Sonju, Kenneth Taylor, Sheila Walsh, Walter Wangerin, Robert Webber, and Kenneth Wessner. 

These happy memories are followed by encouragement to people whose own family memories are less happy, in a section headed “You Can Break the Cycle,” from Lee Ezell, Julie Makimaa, Jerry Falwell and Jeannie Falwell Savas, Phyllis and Jeffrey Jenness, and Jack, David, and Don Wyrtzen.

In 1991 all of these people were active and well known, and had hundreds of fans who were likely to buy a book containing their family memories. Twenty-five years later…it’s sort of encouraging to note how many of them are still alive!

“[Y]ou could look forward to getting a book from Dad every holiday or birthday,” Robert Benson recalls.

“Every day as I left the house,” Tony Campolo says, “the last thing [my mother] would say to me was ‘Remember! You can go over the top for Jesus!’”

“My parents…endured years of the sounds of less-than-accomplished  playing emanating from my room,” says Dez Dickerson.

“I was a fourth-grade teacher’s nightmare,” “Jamie” Evans admits, but “My parents worked hard to get some explanation” beyond “Be grateful you had three smart ones. The fourth lacks what they had.” Jamie was badly dyslexic before it was trendy. “Two hours of homework for the average child would take me five hours…my parents were called to allow me to…stumble against hurdles.”

“[M]y parents…spent time with us, stayed optimistic, kept our minds moving, gave us lessons they couldn’t afford, kept us in church, gave us a sense of history, and offered us hope,” says Florence Littauer. “I hope I have done the same thing.”

“Dad struggled with whether it was wrong to send milk to the dairy on Sunday,” Ron Sider remembers. “As it turned out…we did not suffer much financial loss. But Dad had been prepared to lose a lot of money rather than disobey the Lord.”

“My hardworking [D]ad also taught me to work,” says Kenneth Taylor. “[H]e gave us a summer assignment of two hours a day cutting trees and brush…It was hard work—but fun too.”

“While Dad never attended church in his life,” Jerry Falwell says, “Mom never missed.”

Don Wyrtzen may deserve a prize for the best children-learn-about-theft story: “Jimmy and I were bragging to my [D]ad how we had ridden all over New York City without paying…Dad…had me write a letter to the New York City Port of Authority, apologize to them,a nd tape some change to a card to pay.”

If you still enjoy any of these people’s books or music, and you don’t already have What My Parents Did Right, you probably want it.

You can get this book cheaper directly from Amazon but, if you buy it here as a Fair Trade Book, for $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment, we'll send $1 to Gloria Gaither or a charity of her choice; you'll be helping this web site support writers and payment for writers, generally, and you'll be our e-friend for life. This book was not designed to be shipped in bulk; I can't guarantee that I could jam two hardcover copies into one package, but if you wanted to order it together with the Gaithers' thinner books like I Am a Promise or their standard-sized ones like When the Pieces Don't Fit, you'd pay a total of $15 or $16 for two books, $25 or $26 for four, which could add up to less than you might pay directly to Amazon. (You can also, of course, mix up books by different authors in one package.)

Friday, January 27, 2017

January 26 Links

Where was I yesterday? I was at home. Why? Because in order to socialize with you online, I need to hang out in a cafe; in order to hang out in the cafe, I need to buy a cup of coffee--and you did not send this web site the price of a cup of coffee. I'm serious. Real-life sponsors want to see that this web site is making money and not only costing money. The computer tells me that thousands of Americans are reading this web site daily. Some of them have to enjoy it, and it seems very unlikely that all of those who enjoy this blog are children or are in hospitals or other institutions. If you are an adult reader whose income for the past year was over US$12,000, you're much better off financially than I am, and you should support this web site. The safest and simplest way to do that is to send a U.S. postal money order to Boxholder, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia, 24251-0322. (Attention junkmailers: all junkmail is recycled right in the post office.) If you're not already on the e-mail list(s) of one or more of the real-world members of this web site, e-mail salolianigodagewi @ yahoo for the appropriate Paypal information to use to support whichever aspect of this blog you would most miss if it starves to death. Or send the price of a week's worth of coffee, plus 10% since funding sites have to live too, to this link:


Today's Categories: Animals, Books, Food, Health, Introverts, Music, Nice, Obituary, Phenology, Pictures, Poems, Politics, Writing, Zazzle.


Posthumous photo of a beautiful "tortie" cat:


But we just looked at tortoiseshell cats in search of good homes. In honor of Vice-Presidential Cat Oreo, since this web site honored Vice-Presidential Cat Pickle, what about some black cats? Truffles was all but black, anyway...

Joanie aka Jonas
Joanie or Jonas from Arlington: "If this is not my permanent home, what is?" Mink and Fluffy are still waiting for their homes, too. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/34474697
And in New York, Myth and Merlin are still in search of good homes...but heads up! Frenchie may have been petnapped, and needs careful investigation. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/35639305

Care from Atlanta...is that "care" as in "brother to Love and Snuggles," or as in "needs extra..."? The web site doesn't say! Peanut still needs a home, too... https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/37244840
...How discouraging that three (technically five) of those Petfinder accounts are still open. Three of the world's cutest black cats are still trapped in the shelter system.

Wild animals: 



There are valid reasons why writers use screen names that differ from their pen names--especially to meet Live Journal requirements (where Ozarque a.k.a. Suzette Haden Elgin, Time Shark a.k.a. Mike Allen, and Ysabetwordsmith a.k.a. Elizabeth Barrette leap to mind). But it can be confusing when readers are meeting or introducing a brand-new writer, like Nikki Hasselhoff a.k.a. Heather Averhoff. Grumble, grumble. Anyway, for those who enjoy fiction with at least one major character guaranteed to remain romance-free, Hasselhoff/Averhoff has published two volumes in a series:


This writer managed to finish a novel while homeschooling. I'm impressed.


For those who prefer history:


This web site recently discussed a comic novel in which the protagonist's father has left home to move in with his boyfriend. That novel was written from Pennsylvania...


...and here's the real neighborhood that has to have inspired the "Popular Street" in the novel:


Food (Yuck) 

Well, first of all I wouldn't eat a crab if I were on a pier on Maryland's Eastern Shore, because I've observed the habits of crabs. Second of all, I wouldn't buy meat online. And third of all, I wouldn't buy seafood from a place identified with Kansas City--you know that can't possibly be local produce! However, I was disappointed that a correspondent mentioned having (1) bought frozen crab legs from this company, (2) been asked to write a review of same, (3) written the said review, (4) mentioned that the crab legs came from China (which should have been on the web page but wasn't), and then (5) was informed that the review would not be posted. Well, Gentle Readers...a crab is a crab is a crab, but if anybody in Virginia is interested in a crab, living or dead, hello, that's what Maryland is known for. Do not buy crab legs from Kansas City Steaks. In fact, because of their censorship of accurate information about how far those crab legs have travelled after their original owner died, this web site recommends not buying anything from Kansas City Steaks.



Why some people hate "conservatives"? This Monsanto hack-weasel pounces on one of the recent formal studies about glyphosate, a.k.a. "Roundup"--the one where the scientists went for Big Funding and investigated a link to cancer, which, because cancer has many causes and develops slowly, was almost guaranteed to produce an inconclusive study, and did produce one. We don't know to what extent any specific chemical, including DDT, causes cancer; some people who handled DDT recklessly, in quantity, in the 1940s are still alive and cancer-free, and many people whose exposure to DDT was minimal have died from cancer. What we do know for sure is that glyphosate does not prevent or cure cancer. But we also know that glyphosate-treated and "Roundup-Ready" foods make people sick; we do know that when glyphosate has been sprayed on live plants, we're likely to find a lot of dead birds, starting a few hours after spraying and continuing until the next heavy rain; we do know that when people have sprayed "Roundup" in their homes and yards, much as some of those people may want to believe that they've safely killed a lot of smaller lifeforms they don't like, we can observe those people showing more severe symptoms of all kinds of conditions we may or may not notice them having--"allergies," "depression," dyslexia, hyperactivity, lethargy, even pain and setbacks and delayed recovery from a previous injury. Instead of which, this corporate shill takes the fact that the study about Monsanto causing cancer is inconclusive and spins it into the outright lie that "Roundup is beneficial." Anybody claiming that glyphosate is beneficial, to anything or anyone, should be locked up and forcibly fed a gallon of it. On television.


(Yes, I tweeted that, and I'm glad. Actually I can think of a better thing to do to the corporate shill, but it's too gross for this web site.)

On a different track, Norb Leahy reminisces about how the insurance industry destroyed the medical care system:



Did you know Laura McKowen designs "Introverts Unite" T-shirts?

Buy it at https://teespring.com/operation-home-pod-introvert

Susan Cain had already explained why some of us become addicts, whether we do or don't have the Irish-and-Native-American-majority gene for alcoholism. U.S. culture pressures us to act like (phoney, obnoxious) extroverts, that's why. Handing someone a drink "is like saying 'here, have a glass of extroversion'."

Somewhere out there a fellow introvert needs LMcK's latest reflection on sobriety, or you can do this too:



+LadyNightwaveBrendaMarie Writer shares a love story in old songs. I can't listen to them but I think it's possible for some of you actually to listen to the songs.



Random act of kindness:



Two things the late Eugene Cernan and Mary Tyler Moore had in common: other Americans became familiar with them from television before my home town had television. These obituaries aren't memory triggers for me but undoubtedly are for some people:




Winter is back at last. As I walked to the cafe, temperatures were in the twenties (Fahrenheit--that'd be about -5 Celsius at the Cat Sanctuary, typically one Celsius-degree warmer downtown) and tiny random snowflakes were falling. We had more thaw days than typical January days this year, as in 1980, and, as in 1980, we can expect the price of any apples that may be locally grown to become very high. A long January thaw is by definition rainy and disappointing to visitors:



No pretty snow scenes? Just wait, Old Man Winter is whispering this morning. Just you wait! Heh-heh!


+Beth Ann Chiles shares more beach scenes:



+Martha DeMeo shares a day in the life of a successful interior decorating shop. (I'm not sure which, if any, of the Victoria Cooleys on Google + is the one who should be following The Martha Review...you know who you are.)


Stephanie Johnson is on Blogspot, so should be on Google +, but the system isn't plussing her name properly...anyway, she's posted a photo essay showing how she paints a mural, step by step. Pretty cool if your browser can handle small simple pictures, but lots of them:


Game faces of weary Washingtonians, resolutely discouraging paparazzi...this picture is such a nostalgia trip! These are the faces of the people who encourage you not to "march on Washington" in any large-scale demonstration, which always make the city so much more unpleasant for visitors and residents alike. Give yourselves a chance to like Washington. Trickle out there in small enough groups to stay in a friend's home or camp in your van. It's a pleasant city, as cities go, when it's not jamming with people angry because the crowds are forcing them to miss their connections and stand up with taller people's armpits in their faces on the train.



Welsh legend revived...reminding me of a Welsh writers' forum that was kind enough to let me in, on no better credentials than having relatives whose name is Jones and having more or less completely failed to learn Welsh from a college roommate, and I've neglected them, despite lots of English-language, U.S.-accessible, even sports-related content. (And books, as mentioned above. And recipes. And gift items.)


The forum hosts poetry contests, and there's a page for poems...here's my favorite in the current batch:



One way of looking at President Trump's performance...



Want to write something rebellious? Links go here:



Cards are on sale...and are recommended for use when sending money orders...

Rooster Crowing Cute 90th Birthday Card

Rooster Crowing Cute 90th Birthday Card

by SmilinEyesTreasures

(Does that say "turning 90" or "turning 20"? Cross it out and fill in whatever you're actually celebrating!)

Book Review: A Dash of Pepper

Title: A Dash of Pepper

Author: Thelma Harrington Bell

Date: 1965

Publisher: Viking

ISBN: none

Length: 159 pages

Illustrations: drawings by Corydon Bell

Quote: “If ever a boy yearned to own a horse, it was Clyde Downer.”

So, of course, because this is a horse story, he gets one—from an older friend who tells him a legend about a long-ago horse, who looked like the colt called Pepper, who outraced a steam locomotive. And, because a rule of novel writing is that if you begin a novel by repeating an old story the main plot of the novel has to link back to it, before the end of the book Pepper will have a chance to do something heroic that…but that’d be telling.

Along the way Clyde learns about the care of his horse. “‘A frightened horse wants to run.” “Horses like to hear talk…Soft-talking tells him everything’s going to be all right.” “You should decide upon the use of your horse before you get far along with his training. Even a racer is gaited for the type of race in which he will compete.”

In 1965 considerable parts of the United States still picked up few or no television broadcasts, and there was still a market for children’s books that were written to order. Like TV serials only usually less funny, they were written to rules to ensure the kind of time-filler an audience expected.They had to be about a child of a certain type (usually a boy in the highest school grade for which the book would be recommended), from a comfortable family, learning about one of an approved list of wholesome interests for children that age (such as horses). before having an adventure (which didn’t have to be believable to adults), with a happy ending. They were marketed to adults as harmless rainy-day or wait-time entertainment, as long as nobody believed them to be true or “wasted” time reading them when there was anything else to do. A Dash of Pepper is that kind of book. Not outstandingly good, but not bad.

The copy I physically own belonged to a school library and was apparently discarded after being chewed up by someone’s puppy. Online purchasers will be getting a nicer book.

Thelma Harrington and Corydon Bell have not needed a dollar for a long time, so this is not a Fair Trade Book. It can, however, be shipped together with one or more Fair Trade Books. Send $5 per copy, $5 per package, and $1 per online payment to the appropriate address from the very bottom of the screen. (Salolianigodagewi is not an appropriate address; it's the address of the Message Squirrel that sorts out orders and sends legitimate purchasers the appropriate Paypal address link.) Thus, one copy of this book would cost $10 by U.S. postal money order or $11 by Paypal; two copies shipped together would cost $15 or $16, and four would cost $25 or $26, and you could substitute the same number of books of similar size and market value for the same price. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: Hymns to an Unknown God

A Fair Trade Book

(Amazon wants to link to a new paperback edition with a different cover. What I physically have is the hardcover first edition, which looks like the picture above.)

Title: Hymns to an Unknown God 

Author: Sam Keen

Date: 1994

Publisher: Bantam

ISBN: 0-553-08903-X

Length: 293 pages plus endnotes and index

Quote: "I can't go back to traditional religion. Neither can I live within the smog-bound horizon of the secular-progressive faith...I want to find a way to lean on the everlasting arms."

Philosopher Sam Keen discusses his post-Christian spirituality. How much more do you need to be told?

Do you want to know what he has left, after having studied theology, then decided he couldn't feel sure that he believed in God? I did.

What would Sam Keen's spirituality-without-faith, such as it is, mean to you? Who are you readers anyway? What can I tell you about someone else's personal reflections when I have no idea who you are, spiritually?

You didn't use Disqus comments when this web site had those. You don't use Google/Blogger comments now that it has those. For a while, allowing for a certain number of page views from relatives and a certain number from Google's site monitors, the number of U.S. readers this web site had was roughly equal to the number of people who regularly sent us e-mail...but (1) dang if those people's e-mails ever showed any positive indication that they were reading this web site, and (2) the number of U.S. readers has increased, significantly, while the number of people from whom I regularly receive e-mail has dropped, but I have no idea who the new readers may be.

All I know about you is that most of you aren't willing to identify yourselves at all, much less with wonderful, supportive comments like this one:


...or with wonderful, informative comments like the links, anecdotes, even poems, people used to share on the Ozarque blog. (Or still share on Making Light, when anybody posts there. Or on the Dilbert Blog. Or on several other blogs whose common feature is that they seem to be written by people who, if not famous writers before they started blogging, at least seem to have had more forthcoming e-friends than I have, or than my e-friends noticeably have.)

It matters because, if I knew whether the people reading this are either the people who send me e-mail or the other people who read their e-mail, I'd have some idea whether anyone Out There is interested in Sam Keen at all. I have none.

I have no idea whether anyone Out There positively likes anything about this web site. You're not communicating with me. You may or may not be the same people who are bombarding me with e-mail "publications" that don't refer directly to anything I've posted here. You're not linking back to things posted here. You're not sending money, which you are indeed supposed to do if you like this site.

So the only way to write this review is to write it for The Nephews, and the only thing to say is that none of you seems likely to like Sam Keen. He was a skillful writer about the age of your grandparents who was read and admired by many baby-boomers when we were young. He was a good enough writer that some of us were interested in knowing what he'd decided he believed about the Great Spirit. Well, the short answer is that he agreed with me about an individual spiritual practice being much more important than merely going to a church-as-social-clique-for-adults. (Either he and his first wife were remarkably thin-skinned, or he's skimmed over a lot of the emotional and verbal abuse that goes on in a church-as-social-clique-for-adults.) And he agreed with Wendell Berry about a relationship with nature, environment, with one specific piece of land, being part of that spiritual practice. And beyond that...he wasn't able to agree with Berry about a permanent commitment to one marriage for life, nor was he able, in the end, to come to terms with the idea that God might be Infinitely More than either individual human spirituality or collective humanity. At the end of this book he's still aware of a belief that God is more than "progress" toward a one-world totalitarian government, but he's still trying to believe that that kind of "progress" is even viable--much less desirable--and he's still putting his money on that one-world government, and...feh. Better you should read me or Wendell Berry.

Should anybody Out There read Hymns to an Unknown God, then? For its historical interest, perhaps; it's the personal book Keen wrote late in life, the one with a lot of autobiographical information about what was going on behind his more abstract and philosophical early books.

For the insight it offers into the religion of progressivism? Yes, but...most of those who still rest religious faith in a one-world totalitarian government are not as sincere or as spiritual as Keen. You need to know that it's a religious belief but you don't need to imagine that, for most of these people, it has disciplines, rituals, or hymns. Keen grew up singing Protestant hymns and quotes at least one in each chapter of this book. For the hard-core totalitarians, people like that are a temporary nuisance, to be exploited, the way Hitler exploited the good Protestants of Germany.

How do I know? Because already the totalitarians have scrapped this kind of ideas. I can't just say that if we have any readers who want a one-world totalitarian government, this is a book about how they can express their spirituality and perhaps adjust to reality. They're getting their ideas funnelled in from the U.N. geniuses who came up with "Agenda 21," whose mission is to deprive humans (other than perhaps their own overprivileged selves) of the spiritual, and the practical, benefits of a relationship with the land. Today's "progressives" are likely to sneer at this "progressive" book.

So, maybe "conservatives" should buy Hymns to an Unknown God to remind any progs we know of the deterioration their one-world wanna-be-a-government has already introduced into their own ideas? Baby-boomers who supported one-world government believed in a relationship with the land...well, that was exploited and stripped out of the totalitarian movement. Want to bet on which of Keen's other noble spiritual thoughts will be stripped out of "progressivism" next? The one about at least keeping some sort of spirituality in the interpersonal bond that forms when people who have developed spirituality become physically intimate, with one another, or with anyone else? Or will it be the one about compassion, and about utterly rejecting anything likely to lead in the direction of Nazi Germany, the living definition of evil during Keen's formative years?

Wake up and smell the coffee, progs. Totalitarians are not compassionate in the way we spiritually minded introverts are. They don't really set any more value on the idea of keeping masses of people alive than they set on the idea of everybody having a good spiritual life on a clean, healthy private farm. And the direction of real progress, if that's going to occur, will be a continuous reduction of government, both in the sense of decentralization and in the sense of privatization, because the pendulum swung too far in the twentieth century and needs to start swinging back...before the people who've allowed themselves to be herded into Agenda-21-approved fifty-story apartment blocks perish horribly, whether in plagues, in natural disasters, or in acts of outright war.

This is not the most encouraging review...however, you're welcome to buy this book from me. (I don't agree with many things Keen has written but I've enjoyed his way of writing them.) Either the hardcover or the paperback edition can currently be purchased on this web site's usual terms: $5 per book, $5 per package, $1 per online payment; you'd send a $10 postal money order to the real-world address at the bottom of the screen, or a $11 Paypal payment to the Paypal account Message Squirrel Saloli, at that e-mail link, will send you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

January 25 Links

Categories: Funding, Animals, Christian, Fun Facts, Health, Movies, Phenology, Pictures, Poetry.


Will Patreon actually bring this site closer to working like a real magazine, collecting readers' $1 or $5 per month? I hope so; that'll bring us close to being able to pay for your content and post it in all its beauty, rather than merely linking to it. For $1 you get to take polls and see previews at the Patreon page below, and you get thank-you notes. For $3 Patreon suggested that I promise to follow you on Twitter, which is cool, except I don't spend a lot of actual time on Twitter. For $5, however, you get to pick a book I'll discuss here...send a printed book and I'll find something nice to say about it. More and better perks at:


...include that, if you chip in $250, I'll invest in a decent camera and do full-length gorgeous phenology posts. (I've been wanting to do that from the beginning.)


Mudpie invites humans (actually, she probably intended only her human) to play that tickle-me-so-I-can-grab-you game:


So it's a cat day: polychrome and polydactyl cats:

Bonded Baby Cats: Reese & Willow
Willow from New York travels with a sibling: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/37153470
Cuddly Mittens from Reston (Virginia) travels with at least one and preferably three siblings: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/36747752
L.T. from Tallahassee... "You, I mean you! Get me out of this cage!" Can't blame her for being impatient after three years in a shelter. Mercy. She walks with a permanent limp, but she can deal with it--why can't the humans? It's not as if she were going to have kittens anyway. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/21950406
Smaller animals: Illinois plans a statewide celebration of monarch butterflies:



Liz Curtis Higgs on The Women of Easter:



It's Cracked, therefore it's snarky, but here are the silly but true stories of six successful teenaged inventors.



Even the McDougalls must eventually slow down. Only one "Advanced Study Weekend" in Santa Rosa is scheduled for this year. Here's one of the featured speakers:


And tomorrow's "Webinar" is a free-for-all--no assigned reading, just ask John McDougall anything.


Lenore Skenazy discusses movies that have contributed to our current culture of paranoia:



Cardinals in Illinois in January? Are they spending the whole winter that far north, these days, or just venturing north during the thaw?


(It's interesting to remember that an old scientific name for Virginia Red Birds used to be Richmondena cardinalis because Richmond, Virginia, used to be the northern border of their range! Those cheerful-looking little birds that sing "Cheer, cheer, cheer" have really thrived in close association with humans; they now live year-round north of the Mason-Dixon Line.)


Pursuant to recent discussions of seals and selkies...



+Martha DeMeo shares a memorial poem:


Valentine's Day verse in celebration of verbification...and a bonus image of deep pinkness that might or might not belong on a Valentine card, but it's the natural source of (relatively wholesome) annatto food coloring.


January poem:


Trump Limerick

(Cut from the Link Log in order to label it, separately, as Bad Poetry.)

He wrote of "the Art of the Deal"
While acting the part of the heel
Yet though it seems strange
Those who wanted a change
Proclaim that he's smart, tough, and real.

Much more and better Bad Poetry About President Trump is here...approximately 700 poems from all around the world, many of them proudly, defiantly, deliciously bad...


And can we have an Amazon link here? Of course we can! Bigly!

Add caption

Book Review: B Is for Betsy

(Part of a different series, about a different child called Betsy than the Betsy-Tacy books discussed yesterday...This is the new edition, not the one I have, and yes, it does include most if not all of Haywood's trace-and-color-friendly drawings inside.)

Title: B Is for Betsy

Author: Carolyn Haywood

Date: 1939

Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Co.

ISBN: none

Length: 159 pages

Illustrations: drawings by the author

Quote: “Betsy was unhappy because today was the first day of school. She had never been to school and she was sure she would not like it.”

Betsy has heard that school is a “terrible place” where teachers hit children with switches if they’re late. This is, of course, a book about how a nice, friendly teacher who reminds Betsy of her favorite doll, a nice policeman who walks across the street with the children, and nice neighbor children who become Betsy’s friends, convince Betsy that she likes school.

In 1939 many people believed children’s stories ought to give children a general idea that we live in a safe, friendly, orderly world, and B Is for Betsy is that kind of book. So were the eleven more books about Betsy that follow it. Betsy’s disappointments include not being able to buy the exact present she wanted to give a friend (so they could play with it together) because her mother noticed her admiring it in the store and bought it as a present for Betsy.

Life was not, in fact, one long sweet dream in 1939, although many parents made heroic efforts to allow children to think it was. Nice parents tried to cover up things that might alarm their children. Nice children let their parents do this. Betsy’s parents “go away” for a week…because someone is ill? Dying? Already dead? Good girls like Betsy didn’t ask questions. They picked flowers. If worried, they might have acted out their tensions by picking someone else’s flowers instead of their own or their parents'. Nice adults forgave them for that kind of thing as long as the children didn’t ask hard questions.

Sometimes Betsy’s life on Planet Nice really is nice, even warmed by touches of humor. The first grade collect food to fill a Thanksgiving basket for the pretzel vendor, “Grandma Pretzie”:

'Will there be a turkey in the basket?’ Betsy shook her head and looked very grave. ‘No,’ she said. ‘Miss Grey says that turkeys cost a great deal. She thinks that Grandma Pretzie would like a chicken almost as much as a turkey. But Billy Porter says that Thanksgiving is the day you eat turkey…And I think Billy is right…where can we get a turkey, Father?’…

'Well,’ said Father, ‘I don’t know, but turkeys are very fond of secrets and surprises. They have a way of popping up when you are not expecting them.’…

One evening when Father came home, he had two big turkeys with him…

Betsy brought a loaf of bread and a pound of butter. Father drove Betsy to school that morning because she had so much to carry. Father had a big package all wrapped up in brown paper.

Many primary school children enjoy revisiting a story even after they know the ending by heart, so the obviousness of the ending of this episode is not necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed the Betsy books, and likewise the Eddie books, in grades three and four. I might have enjoyed them earlier if I’d discovered them sooner.

What I have is a discarded library copy: thoroughly used, much mended, slightly musty-smelling. As a child I never minded tears, tape (as long as it was the nice but expensive kind that doesn’t stick the pages together), fingerprints, or pencil marks in a book. I expected books to be older than I was and enjoyed the evidence that I was sharing them with other readers, some perhaps as old as my parents. That’s an awesome thought when you’re eight years old.

And I never traced the line drawings from the pages of any of my Haywood books to color them in, but that was clearly the author/artist’s intention. 

As noted last week Carolyn Haywood no longer needs a dollar, and you might be able to get some of these books for less than $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment. If, however, you want all twelve of the Betsy books, you can order the complete set here (currently) for that price, for a total of probably $75 (or $76 online) since the hardcover books were slightly oversized. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24 Links

Once again, lots of links indicate a post-holiday slump in writing gigs. Do I eat dinner tomorrow, or buy coffee and read yourall's links? This isn't good...so the first link is dedicated to fixing it. Today's Categories: Funding, Animals, Armed Citizen, Books, Christian, Crafts, Funny, Mental Health, Movies, Phenology, Pictures, Science, Virginia Legislature, Welfare, Writing, Zazzle.


One local sponsor has expressed willingness to commit to making monthly payments and wants to do that online, so I've set up a Patreon page. Good things: they promise to convert whatever online payment system other people use into Paypal payments I can use; they offer online sponsors (= e-patrons = Patreons) a special inside mini-blog with polls and perks. Perks include the opportunity to send me books (old or new) you'd like to promote here, and the opportunity to pick your own book-of-the-month. Not-so-good things: they naturally take their bite, so in order for me to receive $10 you actually send $11; also, you're making electronic payments--it's more secure just to send money orders (tucked inside greeting cards for maximum security) to P.O. Box 322. Will this system work better than Indiegogo (which attracted spam e-mail and hackers but no funders) or Fundly (which never got off the ground at all) worked in the past? Why not test it with a payment? If Patreon works, it'll promote your new books as well as my old ones...but making it work is (partly) up to you.



The first animal link that came in today is from the wild side. It's a song parody, or imitation, follow-up, filk, something in that genre anyway, but there's more to it than just a pretty romantic ballad to sing to a traditional sad ballad tune. This one aims specifically at fishermen who not only don't feel sorry for seals who may be trapped in big nets, but actively try to kill the seals who are competing predators on the prey the fishermen seem to think nature intended for them alone. Unfortunately, despite the evidence that humans have experimented with deep-diving gear made of sealskin, humans can't actually mate with seals. The idea of a peace treaty with our fellow predators being sealed by intermarriage has to be understood as a metaphor.


I wanted to link to the classic song as all baby-boomers learned it, about the Great Selkie and the earthly nurse, but Amazon doesn't show a link to that specific song title. I looked up about half a dozen LPs I used to have, didn't find "The Great Selkie" listed on any of them, decided to settle for a link to a songbook that I still have since I know it contains the words of which I'm thinking.

Here's a new recording...this may or may not be the same version. (There are lots of different versions, or different songs, about the Great Selkie. In some versions he's a half-seal, half-human spirit being who hires a human nurse to rear his "son" or human form as a human child, but warns that her husband will inadvertently "kill" this "son." In some he's a man who "becomes a seal" by wearing sealskin diving gear, and some versions explicitly say that men who did this were distrusted by those who didn't, and optionally that the woman may be the mother of his son, which in medieval days would have been considered more than sufficient reasons for her husband to want to shoot "both the son and the Great Selkie.")

The Great Selkie of Sule Skerry

Abby the Lab shares a hilarious piece of skid-talk from her human godmother's father:


It's understandable that he's not a big fan of the Atlanta Falcons...


Anyway, here are three dogs in honor of Abby. A local lurker asked on Sunday...Yes, each of these pictures was posted by some sort of animal rescue organization. Each picture represents an animal that was available for adoption through some shelter or animal sanctuary. Click on the link below each picture to find out more about the shelter and the animal.

Miss Lissy
Miss Lissy, a reformed "junkyard dog" from Atlanta: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/27534802
Vidalia...may warrant some research, because she's being advertised from a Washington, D.C., shelter, she's not actually in D.C., and the shelter isn't saying where she is. She may have been petnapped. Rescuing her may mean researching her background, restoring her to her home, and busting a shelter whose "rescues" are actually stolen pets. This web site gives the D.C. shelter points for admitting this possibility. The more influence the Humane (Pet Genocide) Society has, the easier it becomes for petnappers to operate inside shelters as "animal-loving volunteers"! Even co-workers may not realize that these people may be cruising through rural neighborhoods and stealing pets...the shelter nearest where I'm writing this has some animals that actually need new homes, but has had some that I know for a fact were stolen--for profit--because they were or resembled valuable breeds. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/37097280
Lil Girl
Lil Girl from New Jersey...looks like another Georgia gal whose story invites further investigation. I have to give this shelter points, though, not only for this adorable snapshot, and for admitting that a Georgia shelter may need to be investigated, but for recognizing that a natural-born follower dog like Lil Girl needs a leader dog to follow. If you adopt Lil Girl rather than restoring her to her home, you need a senior dog! https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/36934023
+LadyNightwaveBrendaMarie Writer shared some pictures of a smaller dog reaching the end of a dog's lifespan:


On the cat side, here's an extra-cute cat picture...not technically a selfie since the human snapped the picture of the cat, but adorable, anyway.

Cat-related prezzies, for those who know a cat lover who collects trinkets:

Bad news for bird lovers: Steve Milloy reopens the question of why nobody has, in all these years, got close enough to confirm that there really is an ivory-billed woodpecker living in these United States. Usually, if there really is a bird living in a certain habitat, after a few years there'll be more sightings because more birds; if one ivory-bill moves into the U.S. it'll bring in its mate and, if all goes well, they'll hatch chicks and so on. And from a distance, in a video, ivory-bills look a tremendous lot like pileated woodpeckers, which are also nice, but not particularly rare.

For today's Obligatory Amazon Link, here's a fantastic book, fantastic in every sense, about a man who "becomes an Ivory-Bill" (but you have to read the story to know what that means and why it's a good thing...in view of the title, I should mention that the ghostly image gets a non-occult explanation):

Armed Citizen Fights Crime...and Crime Almost Wins 

Not all "Armed Citizen Fights Crime" stories end beautifully. This web site has linked to several that did, but this one from San Antonio did not.



Louise Erdrich has found two that sound good:



I had never given much thought to it before...showing that even for Bible Mavens there's always more to be learned about the Bible, Matt Krachunis explains the difference between a hired servant, a slave, and a bondservant.


Alice Walker posted a prayer that might qualify as post-Christian; worthy of Shug Avery.



Ann Mackie Miller has posted a list of the key differences in U.S. and U.K. crochet terms:


Naomi Parkhurst's "encoded words" knitting patterns fascinate me. I'm still trying to crack her code. Here's her way of knitting "resist" into a cat-ears hat...yes, you can support this blog by ordering either a pink cat-ears hat with "resist" as either a color or texture pattern, if you're still opposing our new President, or a standard-shaped hat in the color(s) with "resist" as a pattern if you're more concerned about resisting other forms of social/ideological pressure. Local people buy them, in the colors and patterns available, for $5 or order custom designs for $10 in cash; online readers may order them for the same prices, plus $5 for shipping, via U.S. postal money order to Boxholder, P.O. Box 322, or the same price plus $1 for Paypal surcharge to the Paypal address Salolianigodagewi will send you.



Vintage Dave Barry column...my e-mail stack needed this.


Mental Health 

It's a privilege and a pleasure to be able, finally, to agree completely with something Chelsea Clinton says in public:



A movie title like Monster Trucks is not exactly bait for aunts, so I'm glad Elizabeth Barrette posted this long, spoiler-loaded review explaining why we may actually like it: (1) Intelligent science fiction, (2) representing wheelchair users, (3) and nerds, (4) and horses, (5) with comedy. Any Nephews in need of a chaperone are hereby invited to invite me and their dates to this one; I promise to bring my knitting...something stupidly simple, since it sounds as if this movie might be fun to watch.



This is certainly being a long January thaw but, before people start blathering about how this means that the election of a newly self-styled "Republican" is going to cause global warming and turn Asheville into a beach town, here's a memory: the January thaw in 1980 was super-long, too. What an extra-long January thaw means is, mainly, a bad year ahead for apples and cherries (which are Northern species and bear fruit only if they get enough frost and snow each winter). Even the flower buds are likely to be killed if they open during the January thaw, which a few are about to do.

We've had rain almost every day in January and very little of it has frozen on the ground, which is becoming soft and marshy even in the mountains. Afternoon highs have been in the fifties and sixties, overnight lows in the forties, Fahrenheit. One day the afternoon high here broke the 70-degree mark, and either that day or the next day this blogger reported 57 degrees Fahrenheit in Ontario:


This European blogger reports more typical weather, though:



It's definitely a day for armchair travel here...and +Lyn Lomasi posted some lovely pictures from Colorado:


+Beth Ann Chiles has some from Daufuskie Island off the coast of South Carolina:


Rowkey shared an adorable nature cartoon:


Here's a vivid close-up of last summer's grasshopper:


Brian Leverton shares a drawing of Australian dingos.


Robin Lusk snapped a photo of a pair of trumpeter swans.



Science and its abuses: The problem with the "vaccine against fake news" item the researchers tested goes beyond the topic they chose (global warming theory). It's an unscientific fallacy that, if there is a solid majority of scientists who share an opinion or some other brainquirk, that means there's anything "scientific" about the opinion. A lot of scientists do endorse global warming theory, evolution theory, and various other theories--not because they've done research that supports those theories, but because either (a) they've always taken their teacher's word on topics of less interest to them or (b) they're willing to endorse whatever they've been advised influential colleagues or funders want them to endorse, in order to get on with their own work. A lot of scientists are lefthanded, and a thundering majority of scientists wear eyeglasses. (There is some evidence that these traits are influenced by the same DNA that gave them the higher than average tolerance for mathematics that a practicing scientist needs.) This does not, however, make it scientifically true that "Humans should write with their left hands and wear eyeglasses."


Pertinent comment on that article, pasted as a graphic then edited to remove some code that didn't work on this site:


tex152 on  said:

You do know that at one time, the scientific consensus in America was that black people were inferior to whites. At that time, anyone who thought otherwise, (Republicans), were considered crazy science deniers.

Nothing ever changes.


Virginia Legislature 

This batch of five bills is raising alarm among fiscal conservatives...though some of the bills were proposed by fiscal conservatives, including State Senator Carrico. Looks like we're in for another round of nasty in-fighting. Some fiscal conservatives, concerned about the looming federal budget disaster, want to call a constitutional convention just to revise the part of the U.S. Constitution that deals with the budget, on the theory that if Virginia calls for a constitutional convention with a state law that specifically rules out any dispute over the Bill of Rights, we can ensure that the "New Constitutional Convention" will not dispute any part of the Bill of Rights. Others warn that one State out of fifty won't have that much control over the agenda of a "New Constitutional Convention." Aaack! I, the writer known as Priscilla King, hereby stick my neck out and say I don't trust the other 49 States enough to support these bills. I've not even discussed any of them with other members of this web site, who don't always agree with me and who sometimes convince me...but as of today, this individual blogger would vote against all of these bills, regretfully including Senator Carrico's and Delegate Lingamfelter's. Here are the five links, for Virginia readers and for those who want to lean on your own State legislatures to consider:






The idea of a balanced budget amendment...was discussed a few years ago, at a number of sites including this one. It's worked for Virginia. There's been reason to doubt that it would serve the federal government well, since the easiest way to balance the budget would be to raise taxes. A federal balanced budget amendment that required any imbalance to be corrected by cutting spending would be a nice idea; if State Senator Carrico sees a prospect of getting that enacted, I say the sooner the better, but good luck getting it past the special interests.


Actually received last year, pursuant to something I'd written about our local food bank and local unemployed population, was an article (PDF, I'm sorry) by a team of British psychologists calling themselves the Psychologists Against Austerity, in which they discuss the emotions British welfare dependents have about proposed welfare cuts. Fascinating stuff, their 16-page article deserves a 16-page rebuttal about the emotions people have when government gets out of their way and lets them earn honest livings instead of handing them welfare and routing them through one-size-fits-all "programs."



+Andria Perry shares tips for bloggers:


Dave Urbanski reports on an interesting kind of writing contest: Students who are the epitome of "White privilege" are being invited to write about their awareness of "White privilege." I say it'll depend on who's judging the essays whether the whole contest is an exercise in cranking out derivative garbage by parroting things the kids have read...or a contest to find out which of them have actually visited the "inner city" areas of New York, Boston, or Washington. (And if it's the latter, it might actually be good!)



Since I've encouraged you to fund this site using money orders tucked inside greeting cards, here are some greeting cards currently on sale at Zazzle. (Brands don't actually have birthdays, but at least one of the mock birthdays associated with the "Priscilla King" brands happens to be in January. Just a thought. This web site really doesn't give a flyin' flip how long before or after a birthday we receive a money order. We'd accept a money order encased in a sympathy card, even a graduation card...but these are some cute digital-photo birthday cards.)