Friday, June 30, 2017

The Happy Pattern Hoarder

(Status update: I may be online during the next ten days, but this laptop won't be. The cafe is closing for a vacation; after closing today it'll reopen on the eleventh of July. I spent the morning in the Friday Market and sold $32 worth of, mostly, soda pop, of which $6 went directly to the fire department, bringing my income for the week to $54.08. You still need to support this web site: )

Now about the books, or in this case magazines, I received courtesy of the site that pays in Amazon giftcards: Let us face it. I am not the customer of modern book publishers' dreams. Modern publishers, I learn with dismay, want to know within two or at most three weeks whether a book is going to be profitable or not. If they don't see the profits within three weeks, they're ready to write it off as a bad investment, rather than keep the book available and see whether it develops into a slow steady seller. They even want to judge the success of the real, printed book by the success of the "e-book," although real books and "e-books" appeal to two different types of readers. I don't want the "e-book." And I don't even trudge out to the post office to pick up real books in the mail every week, either, unless I've agreed to proofread galleys or have some other reason to watch the mail.

The first thing Amazon wanted to know about those knitting magazines I ordered was "Did they arrive by the twenty-third of June?" Er, um...I suppose they did. I'm not sure. I went to the post office on the twenty-fifth.

Anyway both magazines were there, good as new; I've posted reviews of each one at Amazon and will add a little more puffery here:

Knitter's issue #7, Summer 1987, the T-shirt issue:

Knitter's Magazine (Issue 7, Summer 1987, Vol. 3, No. 3)

Review: I'm pleased, and so will you be if you buy this magazine for the same reasons I did. It's part of American knitting history. In the 1990s Knitter's was to become the most successful knitting pattern magazine ever, but in 1987 it was new and not really on its feet yet. This issue contains a reader's complaint that another issue had been thin, with a wry reply from the editors about the high proportion of editorials to advertising--and this issue is downright skinny. And then, all the patterns are for knitted T-shirts; most of the pages consist of a detailed index of what was in the first six issues, all of which are also collectors' items now. Apart from the index, there's a detailed history of T-shirts in fashion, with the (in)famous picture of Kim Harper clawing the T-shirt off Marlon Brando's back in A Streetcar Named Desire. Then there are about a half-dozen patterns for hand-knitted T-shirts to work in one piece, in the round, down from a square yoke, etc. Knitter's has printed more T-shirt patterns in more recent issues that also contained patterns for jackets, tote bags, socks, and mittens. Nevertheless, if you're collecting Knitter's magazine or the work of Alexis Xenakis, Elaine Rowley, and/or Meg Swansen, you want this issue for your collection and you'll probably enjoy it.

I admit it: I collect knitting patterns because I enjoy looking at them. You might call me a pattern hoarder; I already own more patterns than I could possibly knit in another fifty years--including several patterns I've never even wanted to knit the way they're written. In theory the pattern collection exists to allow clients to commission projects I wouldn't have thought of knitting myself. In practice, I'll admit it's unlikely that clients are going to read through a display of pattern books that's close to lining an entire wall in a good-sized room. But I, personally...after a long hot day in an open-air market or craft show, or on a rainy Sunday afternoon, or during the "mental health days" of my young-womanhood, I like to curl up with my current knitting project and a stack of patterns, and read through the patterns and think about what I'd knit next if I had an unlimited supply of yarn and time. My brain stores--not complete information, but quite a bit of information, about what I've thought might be nice to knit in some unimagined future. If I go into a charity store and unexpectedly stumble into a box of lovely vintage yarn, my instant reaction is something like "That looks as if it'd be just right to knit the textured sweater on the back cover of Knitter's Issue #24, or, if not that, possibly a unique variation on the multicolored sweater from Knitter's Issue #45, or maybe..." And if I buy the yarn, I go home, pick those pattern books off the wall, and usually end up asking the nearest non-knitter which of two or three patterns s/he would like. I do better remembering the yarn requirements for knitting patterns I read last year than I do remembering the effects of the aging process on cousins I saw last year.

{Knitting} Knitter's Magazine: Alpine Knits {Number 24, Fall 1991}

The other back issue I hadn't owned until this week, and now own, was Issue #24, Fall 1991. There is a lovely, laborious ice blue cable-stitch sweater with white embroidery on the back cover. Inside the magazine are lots of patterns inspired by Western European textile traditions. Most are for women's sweaters. There's an adorable 1980s-style picture-knit sweater for a little girl illustrating Johanna Spyri's novel Heidi; if the little girl in your life doesn't want a lot of layers of extra yarn knitted across the front of her body, she might appreciate the picture knitted as a pillow cover or part of an afghan. There's a classic specimen of Ann Bourgeois' trademark version of fairisle stitch. There are other cable sweaters, a short-sleeved "Loden lace" sweater, a "modern" fairisle stitch sweater inspired by geometric prints, a reindeer sweater, several sweaters featuring the deep V-necks and chevron-across-the-whole-body effects with which designers were playing in 1991. Deep V-necks "for layering" are back in fashion and you might want to use these patterns to knit a relatively flattering version of this look.

I think my favorites, though, are the sock patterns. Meg Swansen offers two versions of a labor-of-love Bavarian-style texture pattern for sock legs; there's also a vintage slouchy-top sock pattern from the days when socks were not normally visible, but were, nevertheless, worn as very discreet fashion statements.

Both magazines arrived in excellent condition; I'm pleased.

Book Review: Dave Barry Talks Back

Title: Dave Barry Talks Back

Author: Dave Barry

Date: 1991

Publisher: Crown

ISBN: 0-517-58868-4

Length: 285 pages

Illustrations: cartoons by Jeff MacNelly

Quote: “I am always getting letters from people who want my job...I frequently get letters from readers asking me to explain how humor works...[W]e continue to receive alarming news items clipped out by alert readers who have somehow obtained scissors...”

Not only does this web site not pay for itself; it also fails to generate enough meaningful interaction to keep me interested. Blogs and newsletters consume time that other writers cannot, and need not, fritter away on typing “Hello again, nice post, again” at the bottom of everything we read online. I expect most of the content I receive from other online writers to tell me something new, more than reflect back what I've already said, myself. But entire days go by when everything in my e-mailbox is some sort of mass mailing, often from someone so ignorant s/he asks me for money.

This is probably not the only reason why this web site is less entertaining than Dave Barry's is, even though, 45 weeks out of the year, Dave Barry posts recycled newspaper columns. But it's a factor. Dave Barry's column was blessed with a high level of interactivity. Each of the columns in this book was some sort of reply to a correspondent, or correspondents. These correspondents showed Dave Barry exactly what they considered funny, and what they found confusing. That is why, if we see a person reading a Barry column and not laughing, we know that either (a) the person is not actually reading it, or (b) the person is reading it for the sixteenth time today in an effort to analyze why it was so funny, or (c) it's the one DB wrote while his son was in the hospital, in which case the person is probably crying.

Interactive, reader-prompted topics about which this book makes people laugh include dogs, weasels, Richard Nixon, spontaneous combustion, explosions, toothpick-related injuries, animals falling out of airplanes, airplanes generally, Disney World, Florida generally, houses, boats, toads, London, junkfood, traffic tickets, the federal budget, guys, houses, blood donation, credit cards, English grammar, and spiders. Some of these topics are inherently laughable, while others become funny through the process of interaction between reader and writer.

Who should buy this Fair Trade Book here, thereby contributing $9 to this web site and $1 to Dave Barry's favorite charity? Anyone who doesn't already have a copy should buy Dave Barry Talks Back here. The problem, from my point of view, is that that doesn't leave very many people. I cannot imagine a baby-boomer who didn't read this book in the early 1990s. If you are a younger reader and have not already read it at a relative's house, however, you can buy it here for $5 per copy + $5 per package (three more paperbacks of this size would fit into the package for one $5 shipping charge) + $1 per online payment. When sending a U.S. postal money order to "Boxholder, P.O. Box 322" as shown at the bottom of the screen, you'd send $10 for this book only, and the post office would collect its surcharge from you. When sending Paypal payments to the address Salolianigodagewi will send you, you'd send a total of $11 because Paypal collects the surcharge from us.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dreaming of Windows UAE

But first, two status updates:

1. Financial status: Market buddy who didn't drive up to Wise County yesterday advanced, which is not the same thing as paying, me $20. That plus rescuing a few stray pennies off the street brings this week's gross income to $28.04. Support this web site.

2. Blogging status: The cafe from which I blog will be closing for a vacation for the first ten days of July. I will be taking the laptop home, out of electronic communication range, and processing words on it during most of that time. I may or may not be able to go online while spending time in Kingsport...Earlier today, on a closed forum, I wrote that Independence Day week is traditionally Fun Fest week in Kingsport. That would have been convenient; Grandma Bonnie Peters always has something to contribute to Fun Fest. But I now see that, this year, Fun Fest has been pushed back into Bastille Day week, July 14-22. Well...that might mean that GBP will have more time to go online from the active seniors' club, which I'm now qualified to join and may decide to join, next week, anyway. I can't promise another recipe, but it could happen.

Now, today's public post is especially for Microsoft and Bing, with which my relationship is so ambivalent, especially after I came to the e-mail about "How to claim your Bing rewards by installing Windows 10." I wouldn't touch Windows 10 with a ten-foot pole. "Cloud storage" is not for me; I already live in a small town, I don't want to bring that sneaky snoopy gossip-ridden atmosphere into cyberspace, urgh and ick.

So, @Microsoft , if you want to sell me a new version of Windows, here are the features that would interest me in "updating" anything. Call it Windows User Appreciation Edition:

1. It's designed primarily for offline use--recognizing that, most of the time, most of us don't want or need to be connected to the Internet while we're doing what we bought a computer to do, which is processing words and numbers. Even in a Wifi Hot Spot, it doesn't connect anything to anything until the user opens a browser window and confirms the order to connect to the Internet.

2. It has the option of opening pictures and audio/video "boxes," individually, only if the user clicks on one. It displays, primarily, alphanumeric text, and never allows fancier content to delay the uploading or processing of alphanumeric text.

3. It relies primarily on external data storage, rather than forcing users to overload their hard drives. And there's no way anyone connected to the computer via "the cloud" can read anything stored in the external data drive. If it's necessary for anyone but the owner of a computer to see what's been stored in the external drive, they can get a search warrant and physically inspect the computer.

4. It can be connected to voice-activated and/or touch-screen devices, but those have to be installed separately. (It recognizes that most of us don't want a built-in sound device automatically blabbing information at the world.)

5. It's guaranteed to run all future Microsoft products--that is, Microsoft guarantees it won't launch any new products that aren't compatible with UAE--for 100 years, or until Microsoft dies, whichever comes first.

6. All versions of UAE come with Microsoft Word...that'd be Word 97, before that obnoxious "styles" feature got out of hand. All Word documents open looking the way Word users painstakingly formatted them to look, which means nothing I ever wrote on a computer ever opens with blank lines instead of tabs separating paragraphs. Blank lines separate sections, or stanzas of poems, not paragraphs. And "styles" are never allowed to override any other format decision the user has made, either.

7. Spell-checker software can highlight things the computer is programmed to identify as possible errors but, since some of these things are actually words the computer may not recognize, UAE blocks any automatic correction feature. Corrections must be made manually. If I'm typing something in a language where "i" is a word, I do not want any computer or web site insisting that that "i" is a mistake for the English word "I." If I'm using (a) (b) (c) in an outline, I do not want the computer telling me that that "(c)" is a mistake for the copyright symbol. Etc. Etc. Etc. Ad nauseam.

8. As a huge security improvement, all documents (including tweets) have to be typed and stored offline before they can be posted online. UAE does not allow live chat. Hurrah! By not allowing live chat, UAE automatically blocks the kind of "chat" between computers that transmits viruses, and it also prevents tiresome people from interrupting or spying on people who are processing words or numbers!

9. Because laptops running UAE are likely to last fifty years, they come with ports for plugging in new mouse and keyboard extensions after the original mouse and keyboard inevitably wear out.

10. And, to show that Microsoft is sincerely trying to go Green, UAE can be installed as an upgrade to any laptop or desktop computer built at any time since the invention of microchips. Blocking the fancy bells and whistles allows UAE to run--slowly--at the speed of a 1982 desktop computer, if the user is willing to type at that speed.

Now that would be a real upgrade, and if the price were reasonable I'd buy it.

I've read, and written, about the features of Windows 10. What I wrote based on research was reasonably product-friendly. I, personally, don't feel friendly toward anything about Windows 10. I wouldn't take it as a gift.

Book Review: Parson Austen's Daughter

Title: Parson Austen's Daughter

(That Amazon system-generated book graphic is showier than the actual book cover--plain dark faded cloth.)

Author: Helen Ashton

Date: 1949

Publisher: Dodd Mead

ISBN: none

Length: 337 pages

Quote: “From...the notes to [R.W. Chapman's] edition of Jane Austen's Letters...most of my minor characters have emerged.”

Which daughter is this biographical novel about? Parson George Austen had two. Ashton's story begins with a flash forward of Cassandra Austen (1773-1845), the elder sister who lived well enough into middle age to be considered “old”; “The End” seems to be the end of Jane Austen's life (1775-1817) , but there's an afterword about the rest of the family, so the book also ends with Cassandra. “Cassy” and Jane Austen were close all through life. This story draws heavily from letters they wrote to each other when they weren't actually living in the same house, which they often were.

Jane Austen became famous for “novels of manners” that often focus on the courtship and marriage customs of the English gentry. Some of the girl characters seem to resemble Jane and Cassy, each of whom had a few suitors, but neither Jane nor Cassandra Austen ever married. Ashton suggests that Cassy was “in love” with a man who died young.

It's harder to convince readers, although Ashton tries, that Jane Austen suffered from a broken heart. Proper young ladies at the turn of the nineteenth century were supposed to be asexual; Austen may really have been. She wasn't rich enough to be pushed into marriage for money and was able to earn a good living with novels whose style is altogether unique. Anyone can try to write novels like Austen's but nobody else has ever done it well enough to get many people to read those novels; Austen launched a real cult of fans, sometimes self-proclaimed “Janeites,” who reread and memorize hers unto this day. Their precision and detachment are so unusual that they can hardly be associated with any common or well understood influence on a writer's voice...they might well come from asexuality. What is known is that Jane Austen flirted with several young men, but reported only one serious proposal of marriage, which she declined.

The spinster sisters were never lonely. They had six brothers, seven sisters-in-law, and the predictable assortment of nieces and nephews to love. One reason why they seem healthier—physically, emotionally, spiritually—than many nineteenth century ladies was that they walked, extensively, often together, in all kinds of weather. Jane began to avoid wet weather only when she became ill. (She was so drily cheerful and detached, even about her own illness, that it's hard to guess the nature of her illness; Ashton doesn't try. Jane Austen became less active for a few months, and then she died.)

Ashton succeeds in convincing us, as Jane Austen succeeds in convincing people, that although they were “poor relations,” oppressed by sexism and elitism and by a long pointless war and by a culture where scientific awareness of the unhealthiness of many beloved customs was developing into a positive fad for illness, the sisters had fun. In a quiet way, of which the Austen sisters would probably have approved, this mellow, picturesque novel celebrates girl power.

And it doesn't take much invention for Ashton to accomplish this. Although Parson Austen's Daughter is admittedly a novel pulled together from letters, memoirs, and history, it reads like a biography. If you want fictional conversations (and a similar plot, in a wholly fictional story), read Joan Aiken's If I Were You. This fact-based novel is more factual than several contemporary works that were marketed to younger children, in the 1950s, as biographies. Ashton's own biography on Wikipedia classifies Parson Austen's Daughter as a biography.

Helen Ashton no longer has any use for a dollar; however, prices for Parson Austen's Daughter are moving toward the collectors' range. Currently, I can still offer it for $5 per copy, $5 per package for shipping (at least one more book of this size would fit into the package for a single $5 shipping charge), and $1 per online payment. Although real payments (U.S. postal money orders) go to "Boxholder, P.O. Box 322" as shown at the bottom of the screen, online payments don't go to Salolianigodagewi, the Message Squirrel who redirects orders to the appropriate member of this web site (and spam to the powers-that-be); Saloli's replies to online orders will explain where to send online payment.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Morgan Griffith on the Alexandria Shooting

This e-mail came in last week (I've fallen behind the e-mail while downloading things I'd been storing as e-mails for several years). As you readers probably know, Congressman Scalise is slowly but steadily recovering. Congressman Griffith reported on other people we might or might not know:

June 19, 2017 –
Shooting in Washington
On Wednesday, June 14, a horrifying attack took place. At an early morning baseball practice, a man approached the field, confirmed it was the Congressional Republican baseball team practice, and started shooting at the players.

The players were preparing for the Congressional Baseball Game, a bipartisan tradition beginning in 1909, Republicans versus Democrats. This man targeted the Republican Congressmen and their staff, an attempt at political assassination.

The attack hit close to home for me.

The Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, was shot in the hip. Bullet fragments created extensive internal damage and bleeding, he was in critical condition for days. He still remains hospitalized in serious condition.

I have known Steve since I first came to Congress; we serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee together. This December, I seconded his nomination for Majority Whip.

An aide to Congressman Roger Williams was also wounded, and Roger somehow injured his foot in the process of getting in the dugout and helping those around him. I was Roger's assigned mentor when he got to Washington.

The team manager, Congressman Joe Barton, is also a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He brought to practice his 11 year old son, who has played with my son when they are both in town.

Joe told me that the gunman was clearly herding them together for maximum effect. Two Capitol Police Officers, Crystal Griner and David Bailey, were also wounded in their heroic efforts to stop the attack. Without the U.S. Capitol Police, in the words of Rand Paul, “it would have been a massacre.”

Also wounded was former aid, Matt Mika.

I was shocked to hear about the attack that Wednesday morning, as were my colleagues on both sides on the aisle.

The Democrat baseball team was practicing that morning as well, and when they heard about the attack, they stopped their practice and huddled together to pray.

On Thursday, a Democratic Congresswoman who I barely knew sat down next to me on the floor of the House. She was clearly shaken by the attack. Like me, she was sincerely concerned for our society, and we had a long conversation about if and how we could resolve the lack of civility currently dominating our country.

Later Thursday, as I sat in the stands at the game, I was moved to see members of both teams gather to pray for the victims. It was a powerful image of both parties sharing support and displaying their faith.

Most members of Congress I’ve dealt with are here because they want to do what they think is best for the country.

With the turbulent political atmosphere, it’s hard for people across the country to believe that we are capable of working together in D.C., and that we can respect those with opposite opinions.

Congressman Cedric Richmond is an outspoken Democrat, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus and rarely agrees on policy with Steve Scalise, but is one of Steve’s close friends in Congress. He was one of the first people to get to the hospital to support Congressman Scalise, as a fellow legislator for Louisiana.

Like Speaker Ryan said, "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

It’s a reminder we are all Americans first, Democrats and Republicans second.

In the aftermath of this attack, it is clear that the heated rhetoric needs to be toned down.

We can strongly disagree. We can think the opposing side has got it all wrong.

But we must keep it civil. We must be able to have meaningful dialogue.

This is America. We are proud of our open society, freedom of speech, and a Republic based on democratic principles.

To keep our Republic requires us to have the ability to resolve our differences at the ballot box and when the election is over, to move forward with the minority, or losing side, being the loyal opposition and to agree to disagree in a civilized manner.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.


We hear and obey, Mr. Griffith. We're here, we're "conservative," get used to it, but this web site has always called for civility--even for good will.

Chilly Phenology Post

(Status update: I just used the rest of yesterday's $8 to buy lunch and coffee. If your income for the past year was over US$12,000, you need to contribute your fair share to this web site:

Don't like transferring money online? Neither do I. U.S. readers may send U.S. postal money orders to Boxholder, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia, 24251-0322.)

Warning: this is not a feel-good phenology post.

I've not done a #Phenology post for a while, beyond noting that it's been a cool damp spring, but today we have real phenology news. On this twenty-eighth day of June, when heat and humidity are normally rising beyond anybody's comfort levels, the temperature this morning dipped down to 46 degrees...Fahrenheit. That's 7.78 degrees Celsius.

(I don't think the Blue Ridge Mountains have seen temperatures reach 46 degrees Celsius, not in my lifetime anyway. 40 degrees Celsius is possible, though, in July, and if we've not had that much of a heat wave in June we've certainly come close...In downtown Washington, D.C., 40 degrees Celsius is normal in July, that's 104 degrees Fahrenheit, with the sun greenhouse-effecting down on the partly-melted pavement through a pearly-grey, 90%-humidity sky. Washingtonians traditionally consider it sort of a duty to take road trips "outside the Beltway" on holiday weekends all year, thus allowing some of the taxpayers' money to trickle back into our favorite small towns, but everybody in their right mind gets out of the city during the July and August heat waves. Brain-melting weather is traditionally cited as an excuse for all kinds of craziness among those who were already stupid enough to stay in the city. That's why I'm not signing those petitions to deny Congress its traditional recess in high summer. Rural Virginians deserve their fair chance to talk to their men in Washington, and Congressman Griffith, Senator Warner, and Senator Kaine need their fair chance to maintain their brains in working condition...There! Politics! Yarrr!)

But today, in Gate City...I put a hand-knitted blanket over my feet last night, and I woke up at 4 a.m., feeling cold. In June. I kept saying to myself, "No, it is not cold enough to dig out the heater! It's June! What's going on? Do I have a fever?" I went out and checked the thermometer, and it really was showing 46 degrees. (I did not dig out the electric heater. I did dig out cold-weather gear; wore sweatpants until it was time to change to a long-sleeved, heavy cotton dress.)

This is not supposed to happen.

I walked out to work, and on the road I passed three dead songbirds, one only a baby with only the tips of wing feathers showing. The baby was too young to be identified, and one I think was some sort of native sparrow had been too badly mangled, but the one without a mark on it was a male robin. "Who killed Cock Robin?"

Cool though the weather has been, those cute little birds did not die from any shortage of insects, on which the parents normally spend every daylight hour stuffing their young at this time of year. Granted the weather has affected the insect population. I've seen more fungus gnats (and woodlice!) along paved roads, where those species normally don't survive, and more dog ticks than in a normal spring. Moths and butterflies seem to be rebounding from the baculovirus war that's been launched against the dreaded Gypsy Moths; I've seen all the usual butterflies that visit the Cat Sanctuary, two big Manduca and a few of the more attractive Sphingid moths, more inchworms including one unmistakable (1-1/2 inches long) baby Tulip Tree Beauty. Hot-weather species like the tiger moths, which normally fly in June, have not been flying yet this year, which is fortunate because the milkweed they pollinate hasn't bloomed. I found one stingingworm in the orchard, at an earlier stage than they usually stray into orchards, dying...baculovirus is a gruesome disease, but anything that kills stingingworms can't be all bad. Still, songbirds eat a lot of grasshoppers, leafhoppers, and mosquitoes, and there've been plenty of those. Mosquitoes are almost the only insects that fly when temperatures are around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Songbirds also like plant seeds, and they had plenty of those, too; lots of long unmown grass, ripe mulberries below mulberry trees, and burr-weeds have been going to seed where those birds had fallen. Chicory, a hardy weed that started early this year, is already blooming, as are Queen Anne's Lace, queen-of-the-meadow, and even a few morning-glories. Wild roses have mostly gone to seed, although garden roses are still in full bloom. Dandelions are past their peak but still blooming. Crown vetch, native vetch, and clover are blooming well. Non-native honeysuckle, which usually blooms in June, has hardly started blooming in Gate City this year, although it's blooming in Kingsport. Fleabane daisies, which usually bloom in May, are still in full bloom; oxeye daisies, which usually bloom in June, are starting slowly. The songbirds haven't had native plant seeds in their usual proportions, but they've had lots of native plant seeds to choose from.

Large predators didn't kill the little tweetybirds, either. Aspergillosis is always a possibility, but it usually occurs in warm weather, shows up on the surface of the dead bird...and doesn't give me the mild hayfever I had on the road this morning.

No points for guessing...bushes growing near the railroad clearly show the effects of the "herbicide" that killed those birds. Glyphosate, "Roundup," is not the most efficient insecticide. It kills plants much faster than it kills insects. It does, however, kill insects--slowly--and when those insects are eaten by the birds that are doing humans the most good, then glyphosate kills birds. Not the same day, but within a few days, after glyphosate is sprayed, you can find dead songbirds.

Each mosquito those songbirds can't eat now means, remember, a thousand more to bite you in September, Gentle Readers. And despite the invasive species called "tiger mosquitoes" balancing things out, most of the local mosquitoes will bite any other warm-blooded creature at all before they'll bite me.

The railroad company has every right to keep grass that could foul train wheels from sprouting within several yards of the railroad track, of course. The railroad company could and should be paying teenagers to dig up grass and weeds by the roots, rather than killing songbirds.

According to the (less than reliable) manufacturers, glyphosate is "only mildly" toxic to wild birds, but it is selectively toxic to the wild birds that are most valuable to humans. It kills birds third-hand--after the birds eat the insects that live on the "weeds" on which the poison is sprayed.

Robins don't live near the Cat Sanctuary. They seldom visit woodlands. They like grassy meadows; they are especially partial to small-town and suburban residential neighborhoods with lawns. They will eat larger, more useful cold-blooded animals, like earthworms, if they can, but a large portion of their diet is annoying gnats and disease-carrying mosquitoes. In places where robins live, people hardly ever notice a mosquito in early summer; that's not because mosquitoes don't start flying during the February thaw--often they do--but because robins eat them. Robins are bold, as songbirds go; they usually nest in the same trees every summer, often nest right outside a window where they can catch mosquitoes more efficiently, and can become part of the human family. Male robins have blacker heads than females, and sing long elaborate songs that seem to be challenges to any mockingbirds in the vicinity. That's why robins are often the first (sometimes the only) songbird American children learn to recognize. They can become all but pets for children who can't keep a dog or cat. They are also the species I most often find dead on the ground near where some fool has sprayed glyphosate.

When will people wake up and realize...the more you poison unwanted species, outdoors, the more of those unwanted species you have! Prey species usually reproduce faster than their natural predators, so if you poison the prey, and thereby poison the predators, you're guaranteeing yourself more of the prey species you didn't want. There is not, never was, and never will be a truly effective "pesticide" for any outdoor plant or insect species.

Glyphosate is harmful to humans as well as birds. It serves no good purpose whatsoever. It should be banned from the market in all countries now. It should not be replaced with any other poison spray, but with an ecologically feasible approach to nuisance species that includes encouraging natural predator species, especially weed and insect eaters as adorable as a robin.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Makers and Takers: Homelessness Revisited

(Status update: On Friday morning, after which I went online but didn't post anything here, I earned $19; once again a light misty rain just wouldn't stop until everyone had left the Friday Market, and all I dared to display were bottled drinks, and of the very few shoppers who came out most weren't even thirsty. After buying groceries for the weekend and bottled drinks for the next market day, I had very little pocket change left. On Sunday, once again my market buddy didn't want to go up to Wise County. My income so far this week has been $8, which brings this blog post to you from an unhappy, grudging local lurker who says you should pay some of the cost of maintaining this blog already. If you were living in the United States during the past year and your income was above US$12,000 for the past year, you need to support this blog. .)

Someone at a members-only forum posted something about the reported impending crisis of homelessness in the United States.

Here's what this web site had to say about homelessness a few months ago:

Has not changed. So, here's what I posted on the forum:

One thought that may cheer you is that homelessness is being misrepresented by greedy agencies and motel owners.

A large portion of the homeless population in the U.S. became mentally ill after using certain overprescribed medications in the 1950s, and remained incurable for life. That generation is disappearing.

There will always be people who lose their homes due to fires and other disasters, everywhere. That's a problem, but not an overwhelmingly big one.

In some places, there are people who lose their homes because rent rates are higher than retirement, disability, or unemployment pensions can be stretched to cover. I worked with Mitch Snyder, who used to try to present that as the main cause of homelessness, and believe he sincerely thought it was--he was passionately sincere, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. It did happen, and still does happen, that people who have low-paid jobs or have just lost their jobs can't afford decent homes in the places where they used to work or may still be working. As Marge Piercy illustrated with a composite fictional character in The Longings of Women, these people are competent and resourceful and often find ways to make it hard to tell that they are homeless. They want to believe their homelessness is temporary, like that of the Holy Family in Bethlehem, and in many cases it is. This type of homelessness is not an overwhelming burden to government agencies either, except when people who've refused to plan for life with disabilities become unable to work and have to seek help...and some of them won't consider it as long as they can stand up, even if they have relatives who are willing, and planning, to offer them homes.

But greedheads are encouraging welfare recipients to whine for "more low-income housing now" when these people actually have homes, but they claim their homes are "substandard"--by which may be meant perfectly livable, but older, oldfashioned, hard to heat, too small for a young family, too big for a geriatric patient, etc.

As long as things like leaks, broken windows, and (horrors!) wallpaper on the walls, are being used to define people as "homeless, in need of more subsidized apartment buildings" rather than "low-income and/or unskilled, in need of basic home maintenance work," I can't worry too much about "homelessness."

Though some individuals really are still homeless, and, for those who know where they are and why they're homeless, they really are a problem...or have a problem, or problems.

Well, I own a home. That's been the main source of worldly happiness in my life as a widow: a home of my own where I can be alone with the cats and work on potentially profitable projects in peace. I don't leave my home, or invite people to see it, or disclose where it is, without a very, very, very good reason.

Houses are, of course, financial dependents on their owners. If they're not maintained and "kept up," they deteriorate. Squirrels tear metal or shingles off roofs. Rodents chew siding off walls. Foundations settle lower into the earth. My home doesn't smell moldy, but that's the result of daily work; the basement has always reeked of black mold, as most basements in my part of the world do, such that, before I made a study of fungi, I thought the distinctive odor of Stachybotrys atra was what basements smelled like. Windows need caulking. Screens need replacements. Chimneys need repairs. The older part of the house needs rewiring. The newer part of the house has always had only a temporary, unsatisfactory roof and, although it does have proper drywall, in a moment of manic whimsy one of my elders pasted wallpaper over some of the walls anyway. The water heater and composting toilet, as installed by my brilliant father, work surprisingly well on solar power alone--for one person--but wouldn't work efficiently enough for two.

Over the weekend, during the off-and-on rain, I did some of what an old lady can do all by herself in the older part of the house. (I no longer let my mother do physical work, although she still does all kinds of things that cause anyone who happens to see her to rush up and grab things out of her hands...) The condition in which some things had been preserved was a joyous surprise; the condition into which other things had sunk was an unhappy one. Inevitably I looked at things that need fixing, but require more than two hands or a "reach" of more than six feet off the floor, and remembered a few well-meaning people who've said, "That's dreadful! That's unlivable! You're living like a homeless person! You could easily qualify to move into a low-income housing project in town..."

How many ways is it possible (or necessary) to say: I do not want a low-income housing project in town. I have a home. It's adequate for my survival needs, and likely to remain so for as long as I'm likely to live, even if neither the house nor I ever look any better than we now do. I want to scream, to broadcast the sound all the way to Richmond and all the way to Washington: DO NOT SPEND TAX MONEY ON LOW-INCOME HOUSING PROJECTS FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME. HELP US MAINTAIN AND IMPROVE THE HOMES WE HAVE.

I've already spent as much of my life as I ever want to spend watching other people's toilets flood into my ceilings, overhearing other people's noise day and night, being exposed to other people's colds, seeing other people's faces distorted with hate and envy whenever I felt or looked cheerful, stepping on the insects that breed in other people's dirty kitchens...that's not what I call living, and it's not what I endured places like that, in my formative years, to be able to stay out of as an adult.

I've not actually lived in a building that had bedbugs, thank God, and touch wood (blogger touches head). Not yet. But relatives who truly were disabled, whose foster children failed to move back in and maintain their lovely old historic home with them, have been forced into a four-storey hovel infested with bedbugs. People who wanted to reproach me for not being able to do what a Virginia landowner ought to have done, for those relatives, have made sure I received all the lurid details of how the bugs got into a geriatric patient's surgical wound. Not in my name, and not with my property tax money, should anyone ever fall for that anti-American meme about "older and disabled people needing to be in small apartments rather than separate houses."

Personally, if I couldn't live in my own house, I'd live in the cave above it. Or I'd just move directly to the bottom of the local lake, before I'd consider moving into a low-income housing project in town.

Well, that's my personal point of view. I am, as regular readers know, an introvert, a person whose brain and nerves have developed more completely than some people's ever do, thus a person who enjoys plenty of personal space and solitary quiet time. I enjoy congenial company; that does not include the company of extroverts, whose brains and nerves are, from my point of view, as poorly developed as dogs are, and who can therefore be loved only in the way that dogs are loved. (I do love dogs, but I've never wanted to commit to living with one permanently.) Extroverts enjoy dashing aimlessly about and making low-content, repetitious chatter with lots of different faces. Extroverts probably like living in small apartments in housing projects.

Extroverts are often reported to be the majority personality type in these United States, but after age fifty, the older the median age is, the lower the percentage of extroverts becomes. As a group extroverts do not live as long as introverts do, nor do they age as gracefully. They're very seldom, if ever, the people who build meaningful lives around major disabilities, either. So, any effort to help aging and disabled people should be designed for introverts; even if we're not a solid majority, we are the ones who continue to enjoy life and make positive contributions to society after becoming "old" or disabled.

That means single-family houses, with designated care givers of our own individual choice if necessary to replace our spouses and children (or help care for our spouses and children!), with green space, with gardens, and with rooms of our own that have doors that lock from the inside.

Not that most of us are asking for tax money to be spent to give us those things. Most of us already have those things. What we need is to keep more of our money, and our freedom to pay people we find competent and congenial, to ensure that we keep the homes we have.

(Y'know...personally and confidentially...if, as his wife, I was cut off from receiving any financial benefits from looking after my Significant Other if he ever became really disabled...I think I wouldn't shove him into a nursing home and walk out to get a higher-paid job, the way so many able-bodied younger spouses do. He really is...all I'm allowed to say is "a man you don't meet every day"; the sort of person that somebody might choose to stay with, and help, just out of respect. But what would I live on, if I didn't even have time to peddle my handcrafts? I have sooo been there, with my late husband who wasn't a veteran but was phenomenal in other ways, and I say nobody should ever be there. If the disabled partner is entitled to benefits at all, then those benefits should include support for the caregiver of the person's choice.)

I'm destitute, and desperate, but not homeless. Grandma Bonnie Peters is destitute, and desperate enough to be trying to do physical labor at the age of 82, but not homeless. Forget the "homeless" meme. Forget the whole stupid, harmful idea that people can only be helped by directing massive amounts of money into massive assembly-line-type, one-size-fails-to-fit-much-of-anybody "federal programs." As long as people are conscious, it doesn't serve their Higher Good to allow them to "pauperize" and depend on financial handouts, whether those handouts are given in the hope of buying forgiveness for individual sins or are extorted from the taxpayers. As long as people with fully developed introvert-type brains, with consciences, are conscious, it is acutely painful to them to suggest that they need or can use handouts, anyway. It is cruel to pour money into these monster "programs."

If the federal welfare programs were created in order to keep conscience-impaired types from battening on the charity of individuals who don't realize how they're being exploited...which is why most Republicans and "conservative" Democrats, the vast majority of Americans, voted to build and maintain federal welfare programs in the first place...well, there may be some use for tightened-up federal "safety nets," but I say as a poor person that we still must never depend on federal programs as the primary way to keep even people with minor disabilities alive.

What we as a nation have been doing is saying to people "Here, take these food stamps to buy food until you can get a job," and most of us have been emphasizing "get a job!" all right, but we've not been looking at the larger picture:

* Jobs may not be available--and in some areas, federal programs or even charity-funded programs that try to "meet needs" are directly to blame. (For example, in my part of the world, do-gooders funding Mountain Empire Older Citizens have put hundreds of taxi drivers out of work...while also making it difficult or impossible for able-bodied people to take jobs even five miles from their homes, or take college or trade school courses, or even take advantage of advertised sale prices on groceries.)

* Jobs may be available, but able-bodied food stamp recipients may do the math and feel that they're better off turning down a part-time job and keeping their food stamps and subsidized medical care. (For example, while investing her life savings in a business, GBP found her business failed partly because the needy people she wanted to employ found it unprofitable to work for a living.)

* Jobs may be available, and some able-bodied food stamp recipients may be young enough to be considered for entry-level jobs (which, here I stand to testify, most of the adult population are not)--but they may be discriminated against because, due to not owning cars or being able to afford new clothes and so on, they arrive at job interviews in a sweaty condition.

And it's the same way with what's currently being described to unsuspecting taxpayers as "homelessness." Real homelessness as my generation remember it is actually declining. Today's "homelessness" is being manufactured by deliberate efforts to pack more people into more overpriced and inadequate slums, and the kindest, most humane thing to do is to ignore the chatter about it. Houses exist. Technology to allow people to work from those houses exists. Most of the new "homeless" population will be much happier and healthier if we as a nation just tell the social workers to shut up, because these people are not homeless (or, if they have become homeless, they didn't and don't need to be), and tell these people to go home and go to work. All we have to do is remove the silly protectionist regulations that keep them from earning a living in their homes, and they'll be just fine, thank you very much.

This is still a good first book, but it's been out there for a while, and it doesn't go far enough. This web site can and will update what Arthur Brooks had to say, with more about what real poor people do and don't need.

One-to-one "giving" is actually more efficient than either medieval-style almsgiving or socialist-style handouts, but it has to be done right...and that's where the "conservative" part comes in, and yes, even Ayn Rand's ideas about never "giving" but always "trading," properly understood. Ayn Rand was not as good a writer as her admirers wanted to think; she expounded her views in a language that was foreign to her, in novels written for Hollywood, and presented herself as even more of a hard-boiled greedhead than she was--so in some ways her books are as cautionary as they are exemplary. But let me say this again, as a poor person. I don't want you to "give" me anything. I want you to acknowledge that you're "trading." If you don't think this blog offers something worth paying for, I want you to tell me what you are willing to pay for, and pay me to do that.

"Lady Bountiful" is a fool, and deserves to know that the people to whom she dispenses her bounty have been exploiting her as a fool for years. That's not because she shouldn't have been helping her neighbors in a mindful, intelligent, hard-headed-fiscal-conservative way that would have been building up her community; it's not because she should have been paying an ever-more-bloated totalitarian scheme to crush her community, which is what socialism always was, no matter how willfully the Old Left have refused to recognize it. It's because everyone but a hospice-list, brain-damaged quadriplegic--even a hospice-list quadriplegic who still knows where s/he is!--has something to offer, and it serves everyone's Highest Good if those who want to help recognize what they have to offer.

Stop saying "Ooohhh, those poor, needy, hungry, homeless people, we need a big federal program to meet their needs."

Start saying "If my neighbors are hungry or homeless, and I'm not, I need to be helping them--in a respectful, evenhanded, responsible way--by paying them to do things that meet my needs. I need to be spending less money on corporate products and more on the goods and services my needy neighbors are able to provide."

Don't walk past panhandlers; don't steer them to those "programs" of large-scale grift that, in Washington at least, are likely to have set them out on the corner to panhandle. When you pass panhandlers, carry a reasonable amount of cash, and offer it to a reasonably alert panhandler in exchange for escorting you through the neighborhood or helping carry your bags. I've known people who were able to go from panhandling (after an injury that was indeed disabling, for a while) to owning businesses...Asian-born people, who had that goal in their minds; I've not seen native-born U.S. citizens do that, because we as a nation have been blathering about our Welfare State for so long that unless they've known Asian or African-born people our native-born panhandlers don't realize that it's possible.

Don't confuse people selling stuff on the streets, or people "marketing" stuff from their homes, or people asking for money for things they do, with panhandlers. Recognize them as entrepreneurs, which they are. If you don't want to buy what they're selling, tell them honestly what you do want to buy from them, and talk to them honestly about what it would take for them to start selling that.

In the "marketplace of ideas," a few people have been decent enough, respectful enough, to tell me things like "I'm not funding your idea because I'd rather be funding an engineer's invention or a comedian's comedy novel or some other project that you, writer known as Priscilla King, wouldn't be qualified to undertake even if you wanted to steal that other person's idea." I respect that. I don't blame you-the-individuals-who've-said-that (Neil Gaiman is the one whose name other readers know; I continue to respect and support Neil Gaiman, although he no longer needs much support). And I've never, ever, turned down a valid suggestion of what people needed to have done, either for elitist reasons (people who advertise any connection with Berea College are saying we don't turn down any job for elitist reasons) or because someone else could do those jobs better than I could; I've helped find that person for the people who wanted that job.

Feel free to say to me, "I don't like a book site." (If you say that while funding something else, no worries--the book site will still be here for those who do like it!)

Feel free to say, "I don't agree with your politics or want to read about them." (If you say that, no worries--I have absolutely no doubt that the correspondents who keep sending the political links and discussions will carry on. The political contacts I personally don't follow, and flag as spam when their names turn up in my e-mail, continue to feed content to other people who forward it to me.)

The effective, respectful, legitimate way to say those things is to say, "I do want to see this, and I'll fund it." Two ideas that came in last week were a romantic comedy novel in Twitter form (yes, I'd be willing to do that if people pay for it), and a forum about forums about chronic health issues (I'm not sure how profitable that can be, but a correspondent wanted to fund it and the McDougalls will undoubtedly continue to be a great source of updated information for it). Feel free to send in other ideas if you don't want to fund those.

In real life, the reason why I've advertised odd jobs has always been that I know people who think writing isn't Real Work. They're wrong, of course, but they're partly right--the writer's brain and liver do need the stimulation of physical labor. I both want and need physical labor jobs to feed my writing, for more than merely financial reasons. Local people may feel free to say "I want you to help wash windows or weed hedges or extirpate poison ivy." I not only do those things; I enjoy them.

And I want you to feel free to say those things to other "needy" people, too--individually and collectively. Nobody should be rewarded in any way, even through the "reward/punishment" of having to report to bossy social workers, for sitting around whining "needy-needy-needy." Instead, we should tell the people who are claiming to be homeless and hungry, "Houses and land exist. Go home and go to work"--

...And then wait. These people know what the problems they face are. Listen to what they're saying, and then start thinking and talking about ways to address those problems. Maybe there are legitimate needs for programs to help people make their homes more accessible, to pay for individual in-home care from the individual a disabled person trusts, or just to remove barriers to entrepreneurship in the neighborhood. Maybe there are legitimate needs for elected officials to toss the "ball" of responsibility back to local communities and individuals. In Virginia, at least, no "real" lady or gentleman ever could eat while neighbors were hungry, and I for one want to get back into the "Lady Not-Bountiful-But-Actually-Helpful" position for which I was born and brought up. I want to be part of a community of people who have something to give, not that horrible colony of parasites social workers have parked on Jackson Street to sit around going "needy-needy-needy." (Admittedly some of those people deserve to be there, bedbugs and all, but not in my name would anyone I ever knew ever have gone there.)

There are not legitimate needs for more federal handout programs. There is a need to cut those programs, in order to de-pauperize poor people and put America back to work.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Morgan Griffith on Power Plants Reopening

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

Two Coal-Fired Power Plants Fired Up to Meet Demand
June 21, 2017 – Dominion Energy is re-opening two coal-fired power plants in Virginia, in order to be prepared to meet power needs during peak hours this summer. The plants were shut down to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Mercury Air Toxics Standards rule (which the Supreme Court later ruled was improperly issued). However, PJM Interconnections, a company that manages the electrical grid in many eastern states, including Virginia, requested the plants be allowed to temporarily remain open in order to provide reliable power to residents. The Department of Energy (DOE) approved their request.
PJM’s spokesperson told a local paper, Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, that Dominion Energy would operate the coal-fired power plants on an emergency basis to prevent rolling black-outs, and added that this move is “required to avoid power disruption that could disturb military bases, hospitals, and other critical infrastructure in the area.”
Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) said, “It is critically important to maintain the reliability of the power grid. The threats of rolling brown-outs, and even black-outs, have been a concern of mine for some time. As I’ve said before, if we shut down power plants before we have an adequate substitute, the obvious result will be families, schools, businesses, and hospitals lacking power. By re-opening these plants, thankfully, Virginians will be in a position to avoid power shortages during the hottest months of summer. I’m glad DOE made the logical decision.”

How Medical Insurance Makes People Sicker

(Status update: Since Tuesday, my income went up by $20.10, total for the week so far $33.86, and a local lurker drove past and stole all the raspberries s/he could reach from the unpaved road. I am not making this up. Such wonderful neighbors I have these days. Attention ratbags: if you want more and better raspberries than you stole from me, go to , which is the online branch of the place from which my father bought the ancestors of my raspberry brambles. The first few generations will bear bigger, juicier fruit on less hardy plants; over time the brambles will evolve back toward their wild prototype. Maintaining raspberries is such fun--retraining the briars that always want to grow across the path, cleaning out the smilax and blackberries and wild roses, contending with stingingworms while picking the berries...If you place $10 in a clean dry screw-top jar in the hedge, below the brambles you attacked, I'll pray that God will choose a gentle way to discipline whatever you have in the way of a soul.)

This snippet came in the e-mail from some wonderful young people at West Virginia University. (They have some sort of journalism course where they put together a local e-newspaper for school credit, and they share lots of wonderful things. Warmly recommended to local readers, although they're not Virginians and use "Appalachia" to mean all the Mountain States when, as we know, it means one specific town.) I called this bit of news...predicted it twenty years ago, actually, though the brand "Priscilla King" was "born" in 2006. Here's the official documentation that it's happening:

After analyzing data from nearly 6,000 women in Appalachian Ohio, researchers found that alcohol misuse was on the rise. The data, provided by the Community Awareness, Resources, and Education (CARE) Project, showed that women living in Appalachia are more likely to report health problems related to alcohol abuse than women who live in urban areas, and they are less likely to seek help due to the stigma surrounding seeking help for substance abuse, lack of anonymity and scarce access to health care providers. (via

You too can read the e-newspaper; visit to sign up.

What else can we expect if Obamacare is replaced with anything insurance-based? More transmission, and less treatment, for other conditions as well as alcohol and drug-related diseases...

* sexually transmitted diseases

* vermin-transmitted diseases (lice, bedbugs, potentially human fleas)

* infectious or contagious diseases that may be chronic or asymptomatic for the "immune carrier," such as tuberculosis, where the carrier is able to work as long as others don't realize s/he is dangerous to them

There are medical as well as moral and economic reasons why the replacement for Obamacare needs to be cash-based, not insurance-based.

Should this post have an Amazon book link? Of course it should. Here's the latest information on all the diseases that an insurance-based medical care system is likely to promote...two big fat volumes, known to trigger hypochondria and aggravate indigestion and nightmares in anyone who's not tough enough to become a doctor. (Yes, I read this kind of thing; my body's not up to working with sick people every day, but my mind can handle it.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Is this blog dead or alive? I don't know.

I'm alive. I'm sitting in the cafe.

A real-world sponsor is spending a lot of time with a dying elder in a nursing home, thus cut off from either real-world or cell-phone social interaction with anyone else. I've agreed to be in the cafe where, in the event of any change in the patient's situation, I'll be accessible by cell phone. So far, what's come in on the cell phone has been nuisance calls I've ignored.

The world needs cheerful "conservative" content.

People need to be funding cheerful "conservative" content.

I don't think most of the people who weren't radical left-wingers in the 1950s or 1960s realize how well organized those people needed to become, and did become, in order to dominate the mainstream media the way they do. Let's just say that, when I was in Washington, there were certain city neighborhoods where they clustered (of which Takoma Park was one), and there were leftist-funded activist groups that recruited young people (of whom I was one) for nice bipartisan efforts that needed funding, and however bipartisan and moderate and reasonable the cause might be, those left-wing neighborhoods were the plums. When we'd slogged around a less friendly community, saying things like "I'm raising money for a battered women's shelter" and getting doors banged in our faces for a few days, for a quick morale booster those organizations would send us to Takoma Park. There people would offer us bottled water, listen to our fundraising pitch long enough to figure out whom to make the cheque payable to, hand us money, and generally restore our activist souls. If these people got into conversation with us, which they seldom did because they had lives which we had interrupted, they were the ones who said things like "Oh yes, Ralph Nader's a great guy to work for but I don't think he goes nearly far enough!" or "Yes, we agree that the city needs a battered women's shelter and rape crisis center, but how 'gay-friendly' are you planning it to be?"

More conservative people seldom needed to do that because, by definition, "conservative" means the people who aren't agitating for radical changes. All well and good...until one starts writing and realizes that, although amateur writers (be they ultra-radical anarchists, libertarians, moderate Democrats, mainstream Republicans, right-wingers, or the kind of Tea Partiers whose reaction always seemed to be "Never mind what 'T.E.A.' stands for, where's the party?") are flooding the Internet with complaints about left-wing bias in the mainstream media, those people don't have a clue about the kind of bias they're up against.

I've actually known, and lived with, and processed the taxes of, people who were actually living on less than half of their income and giving the bulk of it to left-wing causes. I don't know whether more conservative people really need to be doing that with regard to humanitarian, religious, apolitical or "conservative" causes, although I did, in my thirties, and I will say it felt great at the time. All the Bible authorizes any church or temple to ask for is one-tenth of its members' income, plus any special offerings people might have felt moved to make when they considered themselves blessed. But if "conservatives" want to be competitive in the marketplace of ideas, they need to know that they're competing with people, who at least until they became parents, regularly dedicated three-fifths of their income to marketing the Old Left's agenda.

Over the weekend I read a couple of vintage Old Left books. My attention was caught by the shrewd marketing strategy that went into one of them...and by the loyalty. Left-wingers used to have to be very sneaky about slipping just hints of their political ideas into books--The Lorax is a great example, though the books I was reading were older and less delightful to read--that anyone at all could read, even if those books didn't impress people of other philosophical persuasions as being quite as great as the left-wingers made them sound. Books like The Lorax were aggressively marketed, however, by loyal lefties who raved over them, promoted them far and wide, led people to believe that these books were classics. Most of them were not nearly as good as The Lorax, but left-wingers bought them and sold them anyway, because those books reflected their beliefs.

Conservative readers seem to think that posting a tweet here and there is going to do what the left-wingers did for the reputations of writers as grotesquely overrated as Gertrude Stein. They are so wrong.

If you want more Christian content, more pro-free-market content, more independence-oriented content, more fiscal-conservative content, more humanitarian content, more patriotic content, more non-corporate-commercial content, more of whatever else Big Money has not been poured into an effort to sell you, then you need to...Hey, I'm not saying I require as much money to survive as Al Gore seems to. Far from it.

But you're reading a blog whose primary author has lived this far into this week on US$13.76. On Sunday, I walked out to the grocery store with a $5 bill left over from my Friday Market sales, and a few pennies and nickels, in my pocket; in my tote bag, two dolls, a hand-knitted towel, and a hand-knitted cat blanket. I sold the cat blanket for $8, rather than holding out for $10, because the purchaser was a teenager. Of the resulting $13 I spent just over $9 on food and $3 on badly needed cleaning supplies. Yesterday, during the nonstop rain and occasional thunder and lightning on the day the cafe is closed, I stayed in, knitted, and didn't let myself waste a lot of mental energy on how this rain at this time of year is affecting the orchard (unprofitably). This morning I walked out toward the cafe thinking, "If somebody buys a doll, I can buy coffee and work online today," and nobody bought a doll but I found a penny and three quarters in the road--so I came in and bought coffee. I am not making this up.

"If people aren't ashamed to ask for money, they shouldn't be ashamed to ask for it from the social welfare agencies," was an idea the Old Left succeeded in getting into the schoolbooks our older generation used (and trusted) in the 1920s. Now there is something to be said for that idea, except...where does it leave all the slick commercial ads we've been seeing all our lives? "Oh, well, General Mills and General Motors and Coca-Cola aren't asking for handouts, they're offering something." Right. I'm offering something, too. If all I were doing was asking for handouts to live on, I wouldn't bother; I'd agree that there was no particular need for me to live. But I've never asked anyone for a handout to live on. I'm asking for payment for things I've done, just like General Mills and General Motors and Coca-Cola, except that my products are more wholesome and environmentally sound than theirs are, and I don't generate obnoxious TV commercials.

Meanwhile...years ago, I saved the entire Ozarque blog, for personal use, in the form of e-mails, because I enjoyed every one of Ozarque's books and I had a feeling that her blog might be more valuable to me even than her books. Now, due to Yahoo's takeover, I've been downloading those e-mails into Word documents.

Once again, I'm awestruck...Ozarque did such a fantastic job of drawing together people who shared only some of all her various interests, into such a delightful online community that added so much more to what would have been a great blog all by itself. She didn't write a lot of really new content for her blog; she rotated between sharing links with comments, starting discussions of about one page from one of her books, and starting discussions of news items. And her Live Journal was a wonderful online salon, like the university common room she wanted it to be, where all of her e-friends felt free to comment, from all their different backgrounds and viewpoints--left-wingers and right-wingers, Southern Baptists and Wiccans, teenagers and seventy-somethings.

I started blogging around the time she stopped. I thought, "I should be able to do that in cyberspace, because I was that sort of hostess in Washington. I've always been able to pull together a circle of friends from different backgrounds and communities too, and it's always been fun. It should be especially fun now that I can afford a social life only in cyberspace."

Well, obviously, cyberspace is very, very different from Washington.

Wherever there are humans, there will always be a lot more people who "act friendly" just in order to call your attention to what they want to accomplish than there are people who are equally willing to pay attention to what you want to accomplish. That's human nature, and not necessarily even all bad...but...

Right now, I'm over age fifty; most of the people I've claimed as friends, in my lifetime, are over age seventy; my closest friends are dead. I have 32 cents to live on until I sell something I've made, and an orchard in which most if not all this year's fruit crop is about to ripen and/or rot before I can get it to market. I am not a depressive person, but if I start posting daily about my personal life, which is what you're paying for, I guarantee you will find this web site depressing.

That's because you will be feeling guilty...because, deep down, you know that you can afford to sponsor more cheerful content than this post. You can afford to send payment to Boxholder, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia, 24251-0322. ("Boxholder" is important; "Priscilla King" is a brand, legally owned by the same individual who owns that address, and the post office has hired some new people and it's not good to haul tax documents around in a tote bag.) Alternatively, you can follow the instructions at

to pay online.

Now, what exactly do you want to fund? That's a more cheerful topic, so just in case this post has reactivated any readers' depressive feelings, let's think about what you're paying for. Here are some things this web site could do, instead of just telling you how low my cash flow is until you start paying for decent content...

1. I still want to do the pro-police post discussed last month on Patreon, despite (most correspondents') utter lack of support for that idea.

2. I still plan to bring back the daily book reviews, despite yourall's tepid response to them, because Amazon is tracking actual payments. (Want to start a theme here that you find more exciting than book reviews? Start making actual payments.)

3. A real-world sponsor shared some material about marketing the "good stuff" from the web site as PDF reports for which readers could pay via Paypal. That's a good idea. I can even tell this person, who's trying to do it too, why it's not worked; Paypal buttons use "i-frames," and in our part of the world we have an Internet server that automatically scrambles the code in "i-frames" so that even if we manage to get a Paypal button onto a site it disappears in a few days, that's why. (This is flagrant discrimination, and ought to be banned by the FCC.) We can, however, offer reports--online PDF's, or actual printed reports, as you prefer--for which you can send payments via e-mail or real mail, as you prefer.

Let's discuss the topics on which you want reports, suggested by what's generated traffic for this site over the years and what's being requested at writing sites, on Patreon. Blog posts there will open when you use the link above to make a payment.

Bring this blog back from limbo, Gentle Readers.

The discussion is here:

Book Links: Correspondents' Choice for June 8-16

Quick status update: This post should have gone live on Friday. I got caught up in other things. It's not been a profitable weekend, and you still need to follow the instructions here to keep this web site active and cheerful:

I'm amazed that Goodreads reviewers rate The Other Boleyn Girl, which I reread and reviewed recently (a review will show up when I have more free online time), #4 out of...all the historical fiction in the English language. They like it better than The Color Purple, better than Chasing Hepburn, better than Johnny Tremain or Caddie Woodlawn or any of those Children's Classics you got history credit for reading in middle school...better than anything but Memoirs of a Geisha, Gone with the Wind, or Pillars of the Earth. Hmm, what's Ken Follett doing that high up the list? Possibly Goodreads is not the most impartial source of literary criticism. Anyway, if you're looking for a sexy, violent novel with a high squick factor (including a hint of brother/sister incest) and a sweet romantic ending, The Other Boleyn Girl is a good read. Congratulations Philippa Gregory. You rock!

I'm not sure this web site is much interested in geishas (although the Boleyn sisters could be used to define the word "courtesan"), and having been disappointed by a super-seller Follett novel whose only point of interest was kinky sex in the 1980s I'm not eager to tackle another Follett work, but let's reconsider the classic antebellum Southern romance...I like Gone with the Wind because I've never read it as an ordinary romance where the all-female audience are supposed to identify with the heroine and sniffle and tingle over the ins and outs of her courtship. You can't identify with a spoilt brat like Scarlett O'Hara in that way, or at least I can't. I read her and her series of doomed husbands as a literary symbol. Whether Margaret Mitchell planned it that way or not, Scarlett's alliances with the young soldier, the old storekeeper, the romantic idealist, the tough old hillbilly, and the soldier of fortune reflect the philosophical trends in the Southern States' culture. That makes her story interesting, even if you want to turn her over your knee approximately every ten pages.

But what ever is GWTW doing so much further up the list than its counterpart novel, Jubilee? Despite the image of a Black woman on the cover, Elvira "Vyry" Ware is all but legally White--blonde, even--and her kindness to the sister to whom she's been enslaved is a delightful antidote to Scarlett O'Hara's awfulness. Elvira is a symbol of what Americans want to believe our grandmothers were like. She gets a choice between two fine young men, too, during a period when there weren't enough young men to go around, and although that scene could have been tightened up I'm guessing that reading it will bring tears to your eyes.

(Jubilee and Gone with the Wind are about equally long; each took about ten years to write, and was heavily researched. GWTW is a much more polished novel. Margaret Walker didn't spend those ten years perfecting the timing and transition of her manuscript; she spent them doing Original Research. Here's her nonfiction account of...)

And which historical novel came in just below The Other Boleyn Girl? You've seen it here...

Moving from stories of the past to stories of the hypothetical future: To what extent, if any, are you readers interested in writing science fiction (or any kind of fiction) about characters with disabilities? This forthcoming anthology...

Invisible 3: Essays and Poems on Representation in SF/F by [Wilde, Fran, Sessarego, Carrie, Rosenbaum, Benjamin, Moon, Dawn Xiana, Cross, Jennifer, O'Shaughnessy, MT, Kurisato, Mari, Mayer, Jaime O.] shared here because of this short essay:

And here's the book Ysabetwordsmith mentioned in the comments:

Dittos, dittos, oh dittos. Vian Smith's Tall and Proud may have been too optimistic about the outcome for some paraplegic teenagers, or for injured race horses for that matter, but it was ever so much better than Deenie. I remember feeling that all middle school girls, not only those who'd been ordered to wear a brace for a few years, were being insulted by Deenie. I've not seen a copy of Tall and Proud for a while; it's gone from contemporary adventure fantasy to historical adventure fantasy. I have to mention, though, that it was endorsed and recommended by my father the best-case polio survivor.

For those who still have fathers and whose fathers already have neckties, soap, and handkerchiefs:

From a surprising contender in this field...Mike Tyson remembers his trainer as "father figure":