Link Log for November 25-28

Although I’m scheduling some content to appear on Blogjob over the holidays, I don’t plan to be live online again this week, so here’s the final Link Log. Categories: Books, Food (Yuck), Phenology, Politics, Technology. (The Food links are yucky but they might help you save someone’s life.)


Maria Popova reviews an American classic, Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey:

This one is specifically for Catholics, but Protestants might want to check it out too–How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice by Kathryn Lopez. (The link that came in the e-mail may be for a newer edition than the Amazon link.)

Civil Rights 

Feds beware…the Hammonds have ever so much more potential popular appeal than David Koresh, Rodney King, or Randy Weaver. And the young seem much more restless than my generation were back then…maybe because the Welfare State hadn’t totally destroyed the economy, back then, so nearly all of us were focussed on doing our jobs!

Food (Yuck) 

As if you hadn’t already read enough reasons to avoid anything containing corn or rice, now that so many corn and rice products, even Success Brown Rice, contain enough “Roundup-Ready” (GMO) rice to make me feel sick and send some people to the hospital…

Are any farmers reading this? Y’might want to invest in another mule!

Is there a cure for the damage glyphosate has done? Jeffrey Smith has a hope…


Y’know…I think the whole idea of trying to measure global temperatures may be flawed. It’s just too weird to read that an El Nino (Spanish: lower-case, would mean “the little boy”; upper-case, means “weird weather”) year, in which my part of the world set records for cold winter weather, for heavy snow sticking on the ground for weeks and deep freezes and mass deaths-from-freezing of wildlife that normally survive our winters, followed by a very long and mellow spring and a very mild summer and a mild, slow autumn, was “the hottest on record.” Mercy, Maud, I want to shout, where were you? 1986 was a hot year. 1987 was a hot year. 2015 was a cool year…where I was. Even if the cheaper kind of mercury-based thermometers were literally blowing their tops if placed on sidewalks in Baghdad.

Steve Milloy shared this NYTimes link (you’re warned; sorry if it crashes your browser) as a joke, with the suggestion that certain “researchers” are planning to fabricate the weather reports that’ll make 2016 seem even hotter than 2015. Well…if you crunch honest numbers in certain ways, you get any kind of statistical results you want. That’s not exactly news. To the extent that El Nino is a weather pattern, it seems to be followed by a backlash some call La Nina…this web site will know that that’s true if we’re cooking on the sidewalks of Kingsport next summer, while Baghdadis parade around in long-sleeved shirts in July.

And La Nina may be approaching. Here it is the day before Thanksgiving, and although I have turned on the heater in the office room, I left it turned off when I headed out in the T-shirt-dress I’m wearing now. The ground froze last night and the night before, but thawed into squidginess in the afternoon sun–it’s squidgy outside by now, and not uncomfortable if you step outside without a coat and move briskly.


But the convoluted reasoning ascribed to the President here…

…makes him sound either less intelligent or more un-American than he is, which, I believe, is really trop fort. It is convoluted, and unlikely enough to remain hypothetical, but, for young Twits who haven’t been following the issue…ISIS is part of the general craziness in the Middle East, as was Al-Qaeda, as was the P.L.O. The craziness in the Middle East is caused by too many people wanting to own land that contains oil, even though it doesn’t contain enough water for all of them to live on or near it. Reducing the global demand for oil would (a) reduce these people’s desire to live in the same place and (b) reduce their ability to amass lethal weapons to fight over it. (See Bill Maher‘s When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden, although that was meant to be controversial entertainment too.) In theory, if we all wanted to get serious about using less petroleum, it would dampen all the craziness in the Middle East. Maybe even dampen the land and give people living there access to a decent quantity and quality of water. That is, of course, postulating that if you or I walk to the post office somebody else won’t drive to the post office, drive back, and then insist on offering us a lift to the post office, thereby doubling his petroleum consumption and offsetting our reduction of the same. Anyway, the President wasn’t saying that solar panels will stop bombs. They won’t. He knows that. All people our age know what he meant. He simply expected that youall had heard all of this explained over the past fifty years, too.

(Yes…for those who wonder…not only can people who Twitter be called Twits, with the capital T, but some controversial organizations and high-profile celebrities now demand that those following them on Twitter confirm that we’re Real Twits.)

For U.S. readers, here’s a post by Publius Huldah:


More about the “bugs” in the emerging technology of electric cars…(Apologies for the NYTimes link, but it behaved fairly well on this fairly old, fairly small laptop, so it’ll probably work for most readers. Sort of.)

Non-book-review cat, also from Morguefile:


Link Log from November 18

Categories: Animals, Art, Bizarrerie, Food, Google +, Muslims, Phenology, Photos, Poetry, Psychology, Thanksgiving Day, Writing.


+Sandy KS shares fun facts about an ugly but interesting animal.

(In between Animals and Art, somebody may enjoy scrolling through +Raphaël Vavasseur Art ‘s Google + gallery of paintings…I don’t know, they seem to express a lot of the emotions and associations humans project on to our cats.)


Peter Streep shares a painting by Pieter Saenredam, an obscure Dutch artist whose style seems ahead of his time.


How I’m getting referrals from this site is anybody’s guess…could it be because I’d said, more than once, that the word “honey” in modern U.S. usage is so vulgar, so often, that it should probably be considered unprintable? Oh well. Nobody minds the cute, innocent little bees, and the bees at this Blogspot “hive” seem busy indeed. What are the hidden dangers of visiting online “mobile recharge sites”? When you exchange your cell phone number for recharge minutes from a web site, how many nuisance calls are you signing up for? I don’t know. I can’t even afford to check this out. If someone out there wants to check it out and report back, I’d thank them.

And here’s the inimitable Vladimir Putin…I agree with the +Allen West Republic assessment. Totally.

Food (Yum) 

Would you pay $6 per month to join a spice club?

I like this beef-and-vegetable soup recipe. I like okra.

Google + 

“Revitalizing” Google +? Three thoughts:

(1) Computers are business tools. If you want people to hang out on social sites, you pay per post. That’s the secret of the relative success of all the other alternatives to Facebook.

(2) Business tools should never call attention to themselves. If you want people to use a web site when they’re not being paid to use it, you never, never, never change a button that was working, and you avoid adding clutter or screeching, clashing background colors.

(3) Personally, the reason why I backed away from Google +, where I was connecting with some e-friends I’ve missed, has been that I’ve switched from mostly using public-access desktop computers to mostly using a privately owned laptop computer. Google + is one huge mess of memory-hogging graphics. Some laptops won’t open it at all. And as I read that more people are buying even cheaper and flimsier “tablets” and using phones for their Internet activity, I think I’m onto something. The way to “revitalize” Google + might begin with offering a graphics-free version.


Bill O’Reilly wants a “Million Muslim March” to condemn ISIS.

Morgan Griffith wants Saudi, Egyptian, Jordanian, and other Muslims to join us in a war against ISIS.

For quite a long time, I’ve wanted just to link to articles or review books in which Muslims denounced ISIS and/or the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda…good luck, gentlemen. Brigitte Gabriel may have a point, much as I hate to admit it. If the peaceful majority are afraid of offending the loud lunatic minority, then the peaceful majority may be irrelevant.

And, while we’re here…I think Muslim drivers who refuse to deliver beer…should own their own independent outfits, if they like, but not take jobs driving for companies that handle beer.

Phenology Links 

In Canada, they’ve just had the First Snow…serious snow, mind you. (In Virginia, when we get this much snow, levelheaded people call it a Big Wet Snow, and those who panic easily start carrying on about “snow emergencies” and “blizzards.”)

And then in Scotland…


Dan Lewis has found quite a collection of photos of active volcanoes:

The Vagabond Tabby has found a charming ruined house:


Speaking of charming ruins, Alice Walker posted a new poem:


Scott Adams discusses the psychology of late adolescents (ages 15-30) in ways that probably just won’t make sense to anyone under about age 20. Let’s just say I agree with him about the rationalization process; all of us humans do a lot of the things we do for reasons we don’t completely understand (I don’t usually eat when I’m sleepy, but often eat when I’m thirsty) and then, if asked why we did those things, we invent reasons that don’t actually account for what we’ve done.

Thanksgiving Day 

Big-chain stores get the message: Don’t open on Thanksgiving Day.


Here’s a site that delivers a word and a quote (not related) per day.

Neil Gaiman talks about stories:

E-friends from AC, please don’t drive +Lyn Lomasi completely around the bend, but…she’s built her site up to Real’Zine status and can accept a few guest posts and/or applications. Hurrah! If any of us deserved to reach this point first, she did.

Phenology: Monarch Butterfly, Gardening, Farming

(This was written on November 13, originally scheduled for November 15; it’s been separated into two posts due to length, and will have to appear on November 16 and 17, due to drama at the Cat Sanctuary on November 14 and 15.)

Not last night, but the night before, rain washed most of the leaves off most of the trees. The predominant color of the hills is now drab, with a few lingering patches of oak, beech, pine, or cedar. Nevertheless, we’ve had only one or two brief dips below the freezing mark, and insects remain active. One of the spring kittens managed to pick up a dog tick last week.

And yesterday I saw a monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus. This is one of the best known and best loved butterflies on Earth…

(Credit: “Monarch In May” by Kenneth Dwain Harrelson. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – )

They’re popular because they tour. The one I saw was heading south for the winter, and may come back in the early spring, when milkweed begins to sprout. The female Monarch is restless in spring, and lays only one or two eggs on each milkweed plant. On a quiet day you can hear her wings flap as she flits from plant to plant. Monarch caterpillars eat nothing but milkweed; more than one or two of them might kill their host plant. When they reach their full size, which can be a little over two inches long, the caterpillars often look for a plant other than milkweed on which to hide while they rest and turn into butterflies.

They spend ten or fifteen days pupating, during which they don’t spin cocoons and are visible but don’t look like living animals, and then emerge–as adolescents. Monarch butterflies reach full maturity only when they’re ready to reproduce. In summer this takes four or five days; for the alternate generation, who hatch in winter, it takes the whole winter season.

For hundreds if not thousands of years, monarch butterfly populations were stable. The species became threatened only recently. Efforts have been made to rebuild population levels…

However, the species has been severely threatened by humans’ abuse of chemicals. Monarch butterflies are harmless to plants humans can eat, but they’re vulnerable to poison spray.

Despite the science fiction in the novel Flight Behavior, monarchs are not seriously believed to be endangered by global warming…although, if some of the global warming scenarios scientists have projected were to come true, they would be. The butterflies are most seriously endangered by herbicides that are sprayed, or drift on the wind, onto their host plant milkweed. They are also vulnerable to insecticides, although they tend to scatter themselves widely enough that population levels were not threatened by insecticides alone.

Are the “organic pesticides” discussed below really more toxic than glyphosate or DDT or whatever? Depends on the concentration in which they’re used; water could be “more toxic than DDT” if we’re talking about a trace of DDT on the peel of a peeled apple versus enough water to drown in. Thing is, if you really get into sustainable organic farming or gardening, the “organic pesticides” are going to be like that rifle I didn’t actually buy, last summer, for the purpose of killing a nuisance animal–you don’t even think about them every year. I’ve recommended the oil-and-vinegar treatment for poison ivy, but do I myself use it? No; I dig up my own poison ivy by the roots, which is a better option I’ve recommended for long-term poison ivy control. Another good option is owning (or renting) a goat; they can become lovable pets, and they eat poison ivy.

(More about sustainable farming and gardening forthcoming…)