IS THE SKY REALLY FALLING?


I’ve had it with the news. According to various formerly respectable magazines and newspapers, the sky is falling. Perhaps it is. As the shadow of  Rupert Murdoch hovers over national publications,  editors decide that sensationalism trumps balanced, well researched stories. Reporters no longer seem to trust readers to have an attention span longer than a flea’s, which is why they rely on sound bites to attract public attention. There is not much room for logic in most sound bites. For example,  Newsweek says that Benyamin  Netanyahu spat on Joe Biden’s face, b. Great attention grabber, but did it really happen? Read the story and you will see that it is all stuff and nonsense meant to demonize the Israeli government. But, someone at Newsweek believes that  pandering to anti-Zionists boost sales and sales are everything. 

 The Washington Post continues to give the impression that  the media construct from Alaska is relevant to American politics when she is, at best, a carnival barker who owes her status to irresponsible journalism. True, she appeals to bigots, xenophobes, religious extremists and those disinclined to think hard.  Does that make her front page material? I don’t think so. What The Post seems to ignore is that when the state of the union collided brutally with many Americans’ sense of entitlement. The USA was the unchallenged leader of the First World for so long, many   feel angry and disoriented at the change for the worse. Rather than adapt, as Americans  have done so well in the past, they seek a catalyst for the anger and their fear. That is so much easier than an attitude adjustment. The media construct from Alaska thrives on hatred and fear.  None of this points at great intelligence or rock firm mental health.
Politicians such as Eric Cantor shake a  collectively mendacious finger at Democrats who asked that Republican politicians issue a joint statement condemning inflammatory behavior. In a classic example of blaming the victim, they accuse  Democrats who received death threats for supporting health care reform  of being the ones who fan the flames. When the media construct from Alaska incites Tea Partiers with divisive rhetoric, Cantor and company say nothing. 
 Dissent us a big no-no in the GOP these days. Canadian Professional Conservative David Frum disssents-hey, it’s a lucrative gig. He’s getting more attention than when he toed the old discredited old line–and he gets fired.  In comic opera mode his  fellow  Republicans howl that he is a traitor to the cause. 
Lost in all this is damage done to the body politic. Members of the newly monolithic do not seem to understand that even if they should win future elections, they country they so badly want to govern will be, thanks to their short sightedness,  the Disunited States of America. Who profits from this?
News from  global village is not good. Harpers Magazine claims that the CIA failed to do its job in Malaysia, which is said to harbor the new wave of Jihaddists hell bent on the destruction of  western  civilisation. Maybe Harpers is right. maybe Al-Qaida is licking its whiskery chops as we speak. That would be premature. While   the media might  never  its regard for truth, but  Americans might recall that they once thrived in adversity. Whatever tabloid inspired journalism predicts, it is too early to run for the bunker.

ET TU STUPAK


Congressman Bart  Stupak, D-Michigan,  has just written a column for The Washington Post defending has stand on health care reform. No doubt has adopted many unwanted babies. This how interpreted what he had to say, “I voted for health care reform in order  to keep women from being able to choose whether or not to have an abortion. In the very least, if they choose to have an abortion they will do it on their own dime.”
That’s lovely. Here I thought that he cared about  Americans whose health is at risk because they cannot pay exorbitant insurance premiums. But no, his vote was all about  limiting women’s choices. I assume that  the congressman has adopted umpteen HIV positive and drug addicted children,  as well as children whose mothers were raped. He no doubt will divert funds from the military to pay for the care and feeding of unwanted children. That sort of thing.   He cannot possibly be one of these anti-choice people whose compassion only applies to the unborn– those folks who are anti-choice, but who foam at the mouth when others protest against ca[ital punishment.
The congressman’s column is attempt  to get back into the good graces of his anti-choice constituents. apparently it only they who matter to him and the hell with the rest of the country. I find that  his reason to vote for health care reform is less than admirable. Essentially he is no different from so many other politicians who wish to inflict their religious views on the American public. Shame on him.

OODLES OF YARN IN CHARMING BERKELEY SPRINGS,WV


George Washington slept in  Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, more than once. So did Lord Fairfax.They were not the only ones to seek the reportedly curative powers of the area’s mineral springs. Adventurers, gamblers, and card sharps and  found their way to the little town’s eateries and saloons. That is all in the past. Today, Berkeley Springs is a grande dame with few enticements  for high rollers in search of a party town.  The good thing. What this grande dame of West Virginian towns  lost in rakishness throughout the years, it gained in sedate charm. Folks from all over the country still come to stay at its spa. Some give in to  town’s  Victorian charm and end up staying for good.  
Ellen Kardell’s Pocket Meadow Farm yarn shop, on 19 N. Washington Street, contributes to Berkeley Spring’s charm. Kardell is a transplanted Washingtonian who traded the city life for the quieter pace of a tiny farm in Morgan County,  West Virginia where she balances the roles of entrepreneur with that of a farmer whose chickens and sheep are oblivious to the fluctuations of the fiber market.
Her  Washington Street shop–she has a shop at her farm– is a knitter’s paradise. Its inventory includes  luxury, classic and natural  European, South American and Asian fiber as well as farmspun yarns, fibers and rovings produced in  West Virginia. Check out her  site, www.pockemeadowfarm.net for a detailed list of  her products.  If you travel to charming Berkeley Springs, be sure to drop in. I challenge you not to fall in love with the $750 hand-woven red coat pictured above. If your budget does not stretch all that far, you can score a bar of homemade soap, Kardell’s hand dyed yarn or a skein of rainbow-colored Mini Mochi yarn with enough yardage for a scarf. The latter  is a steal a $8.50. Sign up for a knitting class, join the Pocket Farm knitting group and tell your friends that there’s much more to Berkeley Springs than mineral water.

pocket meadow farm shawl


THE RIGHTS AND WRONGS OF SPRING


Above–Cilantro seedlings.

Below–A bee checks out our first crocuses. 
There is snow on the mountains, but  in the valley,  pansies, snowdrops are bustin’ out all over. On our street, in Little Macondo,  pale joggers jiggle their winter fat and  exercise deprived yummy mommies push over-sized strollers as grimly as if they were rolling  Sisyphean boulders uphill. On main street, students on spring break crouch on the icy retaining walls of university buildings, freezing their buns while they  scan the traffic and scope the babes. Oblivious of flocks of geese flying overhead, tourists  eye restaurant menus, debating the merits of  pad Thai, organic steaks and  pizza. The Oriental carpet merchants whack their wares with carpet beaters, our surly meter maid abandons the comfort of the town’s gas-guzzling SUV to stick the tourists with 25 dollar dollar parking tickets Somewhere in the hood,  a bad trumpet player mangles the hell out of  “My Funny Valentine.”
 Bought tulips, lilies,  and Margaret’s paperwhites.
Mr. Fibonacci succulent shows off its pattern. 
Greece is going the the tubes,  another earthquake shakes up Chile, a politician admits that  he groped male staffers, the media construct from Alaska shops  for the  reality show that will lend her a presidential air–in a pig’s eye– but we care nothing about this stuff. In Little Macondo, we tend our little gardens. After all, Saint Pat’s around the corner and that is our deadline for planting peas and potatoes. We buy our snow peas at the Southern states co-op, but if we want  fingerling potatoes we have to order them from places like John Scheepers and Jahnny Selected Seeds. Scheepers has Red Ruby, Bintje, All Blue, Princess LaRatte and Yellow Finn seed taters at  $11.95 plus shipping for ten tubers. I am partial to Yukon Gold, which will probably be available at the general store in the next county. That is where I will get a couple of bales of hay  so that I can repeat my experiment with the tubular veggie beds I bought the year before last. I can only hope that I get better results than I did last year when Bambi and family devoured nearly everything I planted. This season, my paramour and I plan to  fence in the veggie garden, but word from local  gardeners is that the  fence that will keep Bambi  out has yet to be invented. We’ll see. For now, we concentrate on indoor plants–succulents, forced paperwhite narcissi and a  pot of cilantro seedlings that soak up the sun on a windowsill. 

STRANGER THAN FICTION


Luna Mellul, the main character in my novel, A POCKETFUL OF RUBIES, is entirely fictitious character, or so I thought. That was before until someone or something in Malaysia started visiting my blogs. I blog about books, writers, food, gardening. My target readership is not Malaysian. Nevertheless, whenever I use words such as Israel, Israeli, Mossad, as in “the writer lives in Israel, someone gave me a bottle of Israeli olive oil, the book features a Mossad agent,” folks from rather odd Malaysian site promptly visit my blogs. As I mentioned before, Google Analytics makes it possible for blog publishers to track their visitors’ geographical location, the length of their visit, the way they accessed a blog and more. That is how I know that my Malaysian visitors have very clear Islamic extremist tendencies.
My geek connections suspect that they visit once their bots come across words of interest; I prefer a scenario where Islamic Malaysian extremists crouch over their computers searching for data on cooking, gardening and book writing in America and Israel. That is a more honorable occupation than plotting to blow people up.
Whatever the reality of these fanatics, there is nothing in my blogs to justify their visits except for a bizarre coincidence. Most recently, one of them did a search for Luna Mellul and landed on my blog. It turns out that there is, in real life, someone who used to be called Luna Mellul. She is the wife of a rogue Jew turned Islamic extremist. The guy was not exactly Nobel Prize material. He drove a cab in New York and whether this is the root of his disaffection with America and Judaism I do not know. I do know that he eventually turned coat, renounced his country and his co-religionists to join people disaffected with reality. He converted to a violent brand of Islam and allegedly coerced the real Luna Mellul to do the same. He went on to write and post on the web rather stupid rants against Americans and Jews. No surprise there. As so many religious fanatics, his frothing-at-the mouth rhetoric was meant to disturb, frighten and discombobulate those who did not share his views. Too bad for him. If he got any attention at all, it probably came from folks very low on the the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security folks) totem pole. Americans did not give a hoot about his crackpot pronouncements. Vastly ignored, he decamped to Morocco.
But who are these Malaysians what is their connection with the rogue Jew? I don’t really care. I do know that one of them blogs about weapons for snipers. That is something I trust Homeland Security to sort out.
Meanwhile I am changing my fictional character’s name. It is not that Malaysian bots influence my decisions one way or another. It’s just that I would rather not have the main character in my novel share anything with the unfortunate Luna Mellul.

THE LONG KVETCH—HOW DEMON FEMINISM WRECKED HER LOVE LIFE


It is hard to cry for Lori Gottlieb. She is a gifted writer with impressive credits. She is the author of four books, dozens of articles in national publications and ten anthologies. She is also a commentator for National Public Radio. Her level of experience in journalism ought to keep her from confusing facts with opinion. But that is precisely what she does in much of her confessional book, MARRY HIM: THE SEARCH FOR MR.GOOD ENOUGH .

Her essential message seems to be, “be realistic, play nice, go for the middle ground.” That is probably sensible advice for humans of either gender “and those who have yet to make up their minds.” Too bad that the message gets lost in a welter of generalisations, extrapolation, obfuscation, inaccuracies and ambivalence.

Gottlieb’s lengthy account of her attempts to find a husband first appeared as an article for Atlantic.Reportedly,generated more mail than any other article to appear in that magazine in a decade. Not surprisingly, it evolved into a very marketable book. Basically, Gottlieb attributed being single to her overblown romantic expectations. Well and good. She blamed feminism for her mistakes. Not cricket. She claimed that she was not the only one whose love life was wrecked by feminism–millions of women shared her experience. Debatable. She put in a plug for arranged marriages. Highly debatable. She implied that marriage is forever. Vastly unrealistic, judging from current divorce stats.

Her take on feminism is the most unpalatable dish in this dating smargorsbord. . Feminism, by many other accounts, is about equal opportunity and equal pay for women. Bra burning and man hating are incidental to it, however often they get mentioned in the media. Pity that Gottlieb chose to dredge up these old cliches. The irony of it is the probability that feminism made it possible forher to compete successfully with male writers. It is disappointing that she ignores that. It is also disappointing that she seems to approves of equality when it suits her. For example, she cries foul when a matchmaker accepts a smaller fee from a man– the same fee she would not accept from Gottlieb because it was not “worth her time.”In the pre-feminist world Gottlieb would like to resuscitate, incidents of this nature were the rule.

Still, she is entitled to her opinion. The trouble is that the women she interviewed in order to buttress her arguments are hardly representative of the general population. They are, by and large, part of an elite group of highly educated successful urban professionals. The divorced mother who clerks at a Wal-Mart somewhere in the Appalachians is conspicuously absent. So are other low-income high school dropouts in rural areas of the United States. Possibly their views differ significantly from those of a well paid urban dentists, fashion designers and architects. Yet Gottlieb would have her readers believe what is meaningful for a few women is meaningful for women in general. She apparently imagines that all that keeps American women from fessing up to their desire to chuck their jobs and go tend hubby is that they were brainwashed by feminists. The bad thing, according to her, is wanting “to have it all” as some unreferenced tenet of feminism supposedly dictates; the good thing is to lower one’s expectations.

‘The dream, like that of our mothers and their mothers from time immemorial, was to fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after.”

As far as I know, women in time immemorial did not leave a record of their dreams–they were too busy catering to hubby. Her claim that women passed on the idea of romantic love, dor-le-dor,for thousands of years does not hold water.

“Before the twelfth century, in Europe, love between men and women was not regarded as heroic; it was instead considered a sign of weakness, the preoccupation of a person without character, ” says William Reddy. He ought to know. He teaches history and cultural anthropology at Duke University.

The notion that marriage guarantees a happily solvent life is one of the objectionable fallacies in MARRY ME. It negates the present divorce rate and its negative economic impact on women and children. Just how risky it is for a woman for a woman to trade a good salary for the joys caring for hubby and kids is something Gottlieb glosses over. She argues that feminism is to blame for the status quo while implying that it all comes down to viable eggs. If, as her research indicates, men prefer to marry potentially fertile women under age thirty-five, how does feminism fit into the picture? This is just one example of fuzzy logic in MARRY ME.

Should you shell out 25 five dollars for this book?That depends. If you are a successful urban professional looking for for a way to validate your angst, go for it.

THE LONG KVETCH—HOW DEMON FEMINISM WRECKED HER LOVE LIFE


It is hard to cry for Lori Gottlieb. She is a gifted writer with impressive credits. She is the author of four books, dozens of articles in national publications and ten anthologies. She is also a commentator for National Public Radio. Her level of experience in journalism ought to keep her from confusing hard facts with personal opinion. But that is precisely what she does in much of her confessional book, MARRY HIM: THE SEARCH FOR MR.GOOD ENOUGH .

Her essential message seems to be, "be realistic, play nice, go for the middle ground.” That is probably sensible advice for humans of either gender “and those who have yet to make up their minds." Too bad that the message gets lost in a welter of generalisations, extrapolation, obfuscation, inaccuracies and ambivalence.

Gottlieb’s lengthy account of her attempts to find a husband appeared as an article for Atlantic.Reportedly,generated more mail than any other article to appear in that magazine in a decade. Not surprisingly, it evolved into a very marketable book. Basically, Gottlieb attributed being single to her overblown romantic expectations. Well and good. She blamed feminism for her mistakes. Not cricket. She claimed that she was not the only one whose love life was wrecked by feminism–millions of women shared her experience. Debatable. She put in a plug for arranged marriages. Highly debatable. She implied that marriage is forever. Vastly unrealistic, judging from current divorce stats.

Her take on feminism is the most unpalatable dish in this dating smargorsbord. . Feminism, by many other accounts, is about equal opportunity and equal pay for women. Bra burning and man hating are incidental to it, however often it gets mentioned in the media. Pity that Gottlieb chose to dredge up these old cliches. The irony of it is the probability that feminism made it possible for Gottlieb to compete successfully with male writers. It is disappointing that she ignores that possibility. It is also disappointing that she seems to approves of equality when it suits her. For example, she cries foul when a matchmaker accepts a smaller fee from a man– the same fee she would not accept from Gottlieb because it was "worth her time."In the pre-feminist world Gottlieb would like to resuscitate, incidents of this nature were the rule.

Still, she is entitled to her opinion. The trouble is that the women she interviewed in order to buttress her arguments are hardly representative of the general population. They are, by and large, part of an elite group of highly educated successful urban professionals. The divorced mother who clerks at a Wal-Mart somewhere in the Appalachians is conspicuously absent. So are other low-income high school dropouts in rural areas of the United States. Possibly their views differ significantly from those of a well paid urban dentists, fashion designers and architects . Yet Gottlieb persistently would have her readers believe that has e meaning for a few women in particular, has meaning for women in general. She apparently imagines that keeps American women from fessing up to their desire to chuck their jobs and go tend hubby is that they were brainwashed by feminists. The bad thing, according to her, is wanting “to have it all” as some unreferenced tenet of feminism dictates; the good thing is to lower one’s expectations.

‘The dream, like that of our mothers and their mothers from time immemorial, was to fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after.”

As far as I know, women in time immemorial did not leave a record of their dreams–they were too busy catering hubby. Her claim that women passed on the idea of romantic love, dor-le-dor,for thousands of years does not hold water.

“Before the twelfth century, in Europe, love between men and women was not regarded as heroic; it was instead considered a sign of weakness, the preoccupation of a person without character, ” says William Reddy. He ought to know. He teaches history and cultural anthropology at Duke University.

The notion that marriage guarantees a happily solvent life is one of the objectionable fallacies in MARRY ME. It negates the present divorce rate and its negative economic impact on women and children. Just how risky it is for a woman for a woman to trade a good salary for the joys caring for hubby and kids is something Gottlieb glosses over. She argues that feminism is to blame for the status quo while implying that it all comes down to viable eggs. If, as her reseach indicates, men prefer to marry potentially fertile women under age thirty-five, how does feminism fit into the picture? This is just one example of fuzzy logic in MARRY ME.

Should you shell out 25 five dollars for this book?That depends. If you are a successful urban professional looking for for a way to validate your angst, go for it.