Sunday, September 21, 2014

That is not a "Deadly or Dangerous Weapon", it is an Ordinary Pocket Knife

Well I just have to blurt this out in defense of cutlery and apple peelers everywhere:

Hey Reuters: This man was not "carrying a deadly weapon" - he had a pocketknife in his pocket. The blade was only 3 1/2", about usual size for a Veteran to be carrying. About 1" longer than the first knife a child would have been given for their own at age 6 in any sane society. About 1" longer than the pocketknife in my purse that my grandfather gave me as a little girl. Every man in the State of Texas probably carries a knife like this.

No Omar Gonzales should not have run onto the White House grounds, but it sounds like he has been suffering as a homeless American Veteran, one of many who need help that doesn't rely on psychotropic drugs but instead on real therapy, personal love, and a genuine sense of purpose.  From a better report by Betsy Blaney and Josh Lederman :

" An Iraq war veteran accused of scaling a fence and making it into the White House before the Secret Service stopped him posed no threat to anyone and needs counseling instead of prosecution, members of his family said Sunday.
"Omar Gonzalez, 42, was arrested Friday and is expected in federal court Monday to face charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon — a small folding knife in this case.
"Jerry Murphy, whose mother was married to Gonzalez for several years, said Gonzalez suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and that he needs treatment. He said Gonzalez has been driving around the country and living out of his truck for the past couple of years, and that he always carries his knife.
"I know he's got heavy artillery, you know?" Murphy added. "He's got all kinds of weapons and he was trained to use them. I believe if he wanted to make a scene or cause problems, he very well could have. But it's clear that he didn't." "
In fact, the reports also make clear that his intent was not harm, but a misguided need to warn.

Most veterans return to normal life and make the transition, but Mr Gonzales is a War Hero who needs help not prison, and I hope the people prosecuting this event will have the compassion necessary to set him on the right track.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Odd and Wild "Texas Persimmons" Are Ripening Now

The Wild Texas Persimmons are ripe! These turn black when ripe, and unlike orange persimmons, they don't need a frost. The trees are small and look almost like an under-story live oak, except their bark and trunks remind me of crepe myrtles.  They would be a good landscape tree - but they are male and female so you need several trees for them to be fruitful. Here is an excellent page to help identify and learn more about them:'s Texas Persimmons Page

Our friend Herb gave me a bunch and I turned some of them into Persimmon Jam. The final product is very tasty, reminiscent of molasses - dark and thick and rich and full flavored. They are don't have much acid in them, so the rest of the pulp I canned in my pressure canner.  Our friends tell us it makes fantastic persimmon bread. They made a wonderful pie, using a recipe that is similar to a pumpkin pie, nicely spiced with evaporated milk. I'll post the recipe here when I get it.

These fruit are quite challenging to process, because they are so soft, and each contains multiple large seeds. Putting them through a collander or a jelly strainer leaves far too much waste. I tried several different methods of separating the pulp and finally settled on using a strong mesh bag with very small holes. The ones with diamond shaped netting are too large and allow seeds to escape into the pot, but the bags that grapefruit, oranges, lemons and other citrus come in, with small square shaped holes, seem to be perfect for it. I just scoop the whole fruit into the bag and squeeze it with my hands until all the juice and pulp is out. This method also cleans the seeds well  - they are surrounded by a tough membrane that is as edible as the rest of the pulp but otherwise difficult to remove.

The color is very off-putting for me. It looks and feels like working in crude oil or blackstrap molasses and gets everywhere.  On the plus side, while the unripe ones make an indelible stain, the ripe ones seem to stain at about the same level as plum peelings. One woman, Deb McClintock, has been using the green ones as yarn dye (and wow does she have some gorgeous colors), and also the green ones were used to make ink. But they seem to reach a point on the tree that they will go ahead and ripen even if picked - which is not the case with the wild orange ones in my experience.

 Overall, the reliable test of ripening speaks strongly for these fruits. The American Persimmon that I grew up with in Oklahoma is difficult to rely on because of the need to be certain every single fruit is ripe before using them. These black ones can be confidently used when they are fully black and soft - no astringency at all at that stage.

I was also excited to get these because I want to save the seeds. I have a little display of native wild flower seeds that I sell at our Farmers Market and other events, and I wanted to add this great Texas Native to them. Also, reenactors may know that persimmon seeds were used as buttons during the difficult times during and after the civil war when real pearl or metal buttons were unavailable. They are very hard and naturally smooth, as well as uniform in size, which makes for good buttons.

There are not many trees that offer such a wide range of potential products in such a small package!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shame on Etsy for Colonialism: Shouting Down Genuine Minority Voices & Abusing Honest Businesses in Favor of Trendy Political Fads

The business platform Etsy has decided to go down the ugly road of identity politics, banning The Washington Redskins name and logo from stores on the site.  By doing so, they are, intentionally or not, joining an attempt to destroy the livelihood of the players and owners of this team, and of the businesses who have invested in merchandise using this name and logo.

Worse, they don't even realize they are behaving in the worst possible practice of Colonialism: dictating "we know what is best for you" to all of their store owners and all of the customers who come to Etsy - and to all members of American Indian Tribes who have not found fault with the team's name or logo. No legal means of attacks on this name or logo have been successful, and The Washington Redskins name and logo remain fully and completely compliant with all applicable American laws.

When it emerged, Redskins' owner and management "traveled to 26 tribal reservations and met with 400 tribal leaders..." They also "took a survey of tribes across 100 reservations..."  What they found is that the large majority of genuine Native Americans actually support the team and its name. Unlike the protesters, the Washington Redskins have actual statistics and genuine data to support their assertion.

In a quick search, I found more unique reports of members of American Indian tribes who don't have an issue with the name - or even appreciate it - than the (often repetitive) reports of those whose own personal names are becoming well known because of their decision to create and push controversy over the word.  Supporters like Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Chairwoman Mary L. Resvaloso who said  "There are Native Americans everywhere that 100% support the name," "I believe God has turned this around for something good." She told [Snyder] that "it was far more important for us to focus on the challenges of education in Native American communities."  

Supporters like these, quoted by Paul Woody in the Times-Dispatch:
“It doesn’t bother me,” said Robert Green, 66 and chief of the Patawomeck Tribe in Virginia. “About 98 percent of my tribe is Redskins fans, and it doesn’t offend them, either.”
Kevin Brown, 58 and chief of the Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia, said, “I’m a Redskins fan, and I don’t think there’s any intention for (the nickname) to be derogatory. The majority of the people in my tribe don’t have a problem with it. There are a few who do, and we respect their feelings.
“I like the uniforms. I like the symbol (logo).”
G. Anne Richardson, chief of Virginia’s Rappahannock Tribe, had to stifle a laugh when asked her feelings on the Redskins’ nickname.
“I don’t have an issue with it,” she said. “There are so many more issues that are important for the tribe than to waste time on what a team is called. We’re worried about real things, and I don’t consider that a real thing.
“We’re more worried about our kids being educated, our people housed, elder care and the survival of our culture. We’ve been in that survival mode for 400 years. We’re not worried about how some ball team is named.”
A few months later, a special report by MMQB found that no more than "a dozen members of Congress want the name changed, as do some civil rights groups and vocal members of the national media.", and the reporter herself, obviously sympathetic to those wanting the name change, had to admit after speaking with members of 18 tribes "By no means is there a consensus" among Native Americans themselves.  There are 532 members of Congress, and only 12 of them think this is an issue.  At least a dozen tribes she contacted didn't care enough about it to bother even responding to her inquiry.

The reality is that if this is a genuine issue, and not a made-for-PR art project, it is the prerogative of the tribes and people themselves to take their own actions and speak for themselves - with their own voices.
People like Stephen Dodson,  a "full-blooded American Inuit chief originally from the Aleutian Tribes of Alaska, and said he was tired of being spoken for as a Native American" and went on to say:
“People are speaking for Native Americans that aren’t Native American. Being a full-blooded Indian with my whole family behind me, we had a big problem with all the things that were coming out [of the discussion],” he said. “I think they were basically saying that we were offended, our people were offended, and they were misrepresenting the Native American nation.
“We don’t have a problem with [the name] at all; in fact we’re honored. We’re quite honored.”
As the eldest member of his blood line, Dodson represents more than 700 remaining tribe members and talked to Redskins Nation about the positive power of the Redskins’ name.
“It’s actually a term of endearment that we would refer to each other as,” he explained. “When we were on the reservation, we would call each other, ‘Hey, what’s up redskin?’ We would nickname it just ‘skins.’”
“‘Redskin’ isn’t something given to us by the white man or the blue eyes, it was something in the Native American community that was taken from us. [It’s] used also as a term of respect, because that’s how we were. We respected each other with that term.”
Every individual has preferences for how they prefer to be identified. I am from Oklahoma, and I can attest that every American Indian I have ever known called themselves an Indian.  The fact that many academics prefer "Native American" doesn't mean a thing without surveying the actual tribal members themselves. It is very likely that most people understand the word "native" to mean "a person born here", and agree with the late Russell Means who insisted "The one thing I've always maintained is that I'm an American Indian. I'm not politically correct. Everyone who's born in the Western Hemisphere is a Native American. We are all Native Americans."

Those elitists who are jumping on this manufactured bandwagon, who are not themselves American Indians, are guilty of the worst kind of patronizing colonialism, behaving as though the tribes or their members "need help" from these elitists, as though the members of these tribes can't speak for themselves as individuals and as a corporate body.  By usurping this natural God-given authority, elitists like those running Etsy are setting themselves as arbiters of right and wrong while pretending not to hear the genuine voices telling them to butt out and mind their own business.

Etsy used a long, convoluted blog post to announce the censorship, trying to justify their outrageous, unjust interference with the lawful, legitimate, and time-proven business of the Redskins Football Team and all of the Etsy sellers who sold Redskins licensed memorabilia, by pretending that they are able to speak for "the minority group itself", when in fact, they are not only following the latest elitist trend that ignores the genuine in favor of the romanticized fashion of the moment, but using it as justification for dictating unpredictable rules without warning to honest people who thought the company practiced legitimate governance:
Like the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, we at Etsy find the opinion of the minority group itself to carry most weight in determining whether the mascot is disparaging. In no uncertain terms, Native American groups have consistently advocated and litigated that the term “redskin(s)” is disparaging and damaging to Native Americans. Therefore, it will no longer be permitted in our marketplace.
We understand that fans wish to support their favorite football team, and we do not believe that fans who are attached to the mascot have any racist feeling or intent. We also understand that some fans view the name and mascot as an homage to Native Americans, and we do not doubt their noble intent, but the fact remains that Native Americans themselves find the term unacceptable.
Sellers are welcome to continue selling items that contain the team colors and location, but items containing the name or the logo will no longer be allowed. This change takes effect today. Our Marketplace Integrity Team is contacting members by email whose listings are affected by this updated policy. If you have questions about a specific item in your shop or that you might want to list on Etsy, please contact us using the Help Center.
Etsy does not provide an easy way to contact them, but as a blogger, you can use their Press email address:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Remember David Haines.... But Especially, Remember Fabrizio Quattrocchi: "I'll Show You How An Italian Dies!"

Today, the muslims that call themselves ISIS have killed another hostage. As we mourn David Haines, murdered by islam, we are wise to recall that this is the habit of our enemy. 
10 years ago in 2004, muslims in Iraq were killing off hostages one by one. The name Fabrizio Quattrocchi should be taught in our schools, and honored on our calendar. April 15th is no longer just Tax Day, but it is also the day Fabrizio Quattrocchi showed us how to stand up to evil. 
From the article at The Daily Mail
" As the last seconds of his life ticked away, Fabrizio Quattrocchi defiantly removed the hood placed over his head by his killers and shouted: 'Now you'll see how an Italian dies.'
"They were his last words. The militiamen then shot the 36-year-old ex-soldier in the neck at point-blank range. Mr Quattrocchi was one of four Italians forced to stand alongside a shallow grave dug by their captors, who then selected him at random for death. "

At the Blog Just One Minute, a quote from NRO:
April 26, 2004, 8:31 a.m.
Moments of Truth
Fabrizio Quattrocchi lived fully — to his last moment.
By James S. Robbins
Thucydides wrote about war in order to study man's character. Conflict brings out both the very best in human nature, and the very worst. The two often emerge simultaneously.
Witness Fabrizio Quattrocchi, 36, a baker from Italy who went to Iraq to work as a security guard for a contracting firm. He and three other Italians were taken hostage by al-Katibat al-Khadra, the Green Battalion, who demanded that Italy release some of the Muslim extremists they are holding, and that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi apologize for statements he made that allegedly insulted Islam. They showed the hostages on video, and threatened to kill them if their demands were not met. To demonstrate they were serious, they took Quattrocchi to a field, and had him dig a large hole. They then put a hood over his head and forced him to kneel by the grave, preparing to murder him. But Fabrizio did not cooperate. He stood and tried to pull off the hood, shouting, "Now I'll show you how an Italian dies!" The terrorists shot him in the back of the neck. Al Jazeera, which obtained the videotape of the killing, chose not to air it, saying it was "too gruesome." Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said, Fabrizio "died a hero."
Tell your children. Tell your grandchildren. Tell them about the great bread baker from Italy, who went to fight evil, and who refused to bow to their despicable false god. And because of that, the good Fabrizio Quattrocchi lives in Heaven forever, the guardian angel of brave children everywhere. 


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