Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Book Review: Sunday, December 29, 2013: Learned Optimism

As Madame L mentioned when writing about the weird word "rumination," she has been reading "Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life," by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.

BTW, Madame L is not as impressed with Dr. Seligman's doctorate as he apparently is. Madame L places exactly as much value on a book written by someone without the advanced degree as on one written by a doctor of philosophy. In fact, Madame L notes here that Dr. Seligman's Ph.D. seems to have made him think he has to write more and more words, include more and more details, fill up the pages with statistics and study results...

...when all he had to do was write, "Yes, it's true, optimistic people are happier and more successful in business, friendships, and life in general; and you, too, even if you've learned some pessimistic habits, can learn to be optimistic, happier, and more successful."

Madame L is really glad she didn't pay much for this book because that's really all there is to it. She got it used at a garage sale or thrift shop or some such place, and skimmed through it lickety-split.

And, because she thinks exactly that highly of the book, she hereby offers to give (not loan, but GIVE!) her copy of the book to any of her Dear Readers who would like to skim through it, too. Just write a comment below or send Madame L an email if you're interested.

In addition, Madame L would love to hear what any of her Dear Readers, or their dogs, cats, and/or parrots have to say about taking a happier and more optimistic approach to life. (Or their fish, if they have fish, and if said fish have learned the secret to fish happiness and have shared it with them.)

Here's Mada's three-step approach to a happy and successful life:

Mada could have a Ph.D. in happiness and human relations if he really wanted one.
1. Squawk every morning as soon as you wake up, and frequently throughout the day, so your humans will know you're there. (They need to know you're there so they'll feed you and give you clean water. And they'll forget about you unless you squawk.)

2. Make cute little clicking noises and let your humans scratch your head a couple of times each day, so they'll keep loving you, so they'll come and feed you when you squawk, instead of yelling back at you. (They need to be reminded constantly of how cute and cuddly you are because they're frankly not all that bright.)

3. When your humans offer you food that you don't particularly like, accept it graciously in your beak before dropping it on the floor. That way they'll think you're polite as well as cute. (They need to realize you're smart, too, but you don't need to let them know you're way smarter than they are.)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Weird Word of the Week: Rumination

Madame L loves this word for its vivid cow imagery. Mostly the word is used nowadays as in this Wikipedia definition: 

"Rumination is defined as the compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one's distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions. Rumination is similar to worry except rumination focuses on bad feelings and experiences from the past, whereas worry is concerned with potential bad events in the future. Both rumination and worry are associated with anxiety and other negative emotional states."

But, as Madame L mentioned, the word in the past was used to refer to the digestive process of cows and other ruminants, as in this Wikipedia definition: 

"The word 'ruminant' comes from the Latin ruminare, which means 'to chew over again'. Ruminants are mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally through bacterial actions. The process typically requires regurgitation of fermented ingesta (known as cud), and chewing it again..."   The diagram on the left gives a rough idea of how the ruminant's stomach is organized.

Madame L most recently read this word "rumination" in a book called "Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life," which she will review soon. Reading this book, Madame L realized why the word "rumination" is used in psychology to refer to this process of focusing compulsively on problems and bad experiences without working through to helpful solutions. 

On the other hand, the cow does eventually finish with its cud and swallow it. Maybe human ruminants do, too. 

But who cares? The point of this book is how to learn to be optimistic, not to ruminate over what happens to people who can't even summon the courage to do more than ruminate. More, later.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Dear Madame L,

Have you ever heard of Rather than my trying to explain it, I invite you to check it out, and if you like what you see, tell your readers about it.

Here's a link to get you started:

Your sister in creativity,
Dear Ellen,
Thanks for the question! Madame L had heard of Kickstarter but had never thought she would have any interest in it, until she followed your link and found a local project she wanted to support.
Madame L pledged her five dollars to the project and was pleased to see that many other people did the same, so the goal was met and project was funded.

Thanks again, Ellen, and Madame L hopes her other readers will contribute further suggestions for Madame L to check out, and, if they've had any experience with, to please share those experiences with all of us.


Madame L

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! --- What Shall We Give?

Madame L hopes all her Dear Readers are having or have had a very Merry Christmas!

Madame L hopes none of her Dear Readers care about the recent "discussions" (polemical rages) on conservative TV and radio talk shows about the color of Santa's skin, whether Jesus Christ was white or a man "of color," and whether Christmas is being ruined by godless liberals.

Madame L hopes all of her Dear Readers will feel the sweet spirit of Christmas today, this week, and throughout the coming year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Weird Words of the Week: Mutt and Jeff

Madame L was thinking of this expression recently because it's one her dad used to say. Mutt and Jeff were comic strip characters created by cartoonist Harry "Bud" Fisher, according to the A.Word.A.Day website.

Mutt is tall and Jeff is short, and they're both "lovable losers." Nowadays when we use the term "Mutt and Jeff," we can be talking about any pair of comically mismatched characters. One could be tall and the other short, or one could be like Jack Spratt and the other like his wife, or one could be a chihuahua and the other a Saint Bernard.

The Word a Day website also notes that the expression, pronounced "mut uhn jef," is the word for "deaf" in Cockney rhyming slang. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Book Review: December 8, 2013: I Could Chew on This...

...And Other Poems By Dogs, by Francesco Marciuliano: This is one of the funniest books Madame L has read in a long time. It's almost as funny as Dave Barry's columns.

If you've ever wondered, as the back cover says, "what your dog is really thinking when he mistakes your couch for a chew toy," here's where you'll find out. At least you'll find out what Mr. Marciuliano thinks your dog is thinking. And he's probably right.

Sample poem: "Lapdog":

A lapdog
Is any dog
Who wants to be really close
So stop your muffled screams
And your cracking pelvis
And just celebrate the fact
That this mastiff loves you so

Here's another one which reminds me of a certain Boston terrier I love: "I Dropped a Ball":

I dropped a ball in your lap
It's time to play
I just put a ball in your lap
So it's time to play
See that ball I placed in your lap?
That means it's time to play
You can have your emergency appendectomy
Any other day
But I dropped a ball in your lap
And now it's time to play

This author also wrote "I Could Pee on This...And Other Poems by Cats," which Madame L also recommends highly. You don't have to have a cat in your home to get it. You only have to have known one cat in your whole life.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Weird Words of the Day: Fossicking and Gleaning

To fossick is to rummage or to search, specifically to search for diamonds, other gems, gold, or fossils. This word is apparently unique to Cornwall, Australia and New Zealand. It includes the concept of searching in areas that have already been mined, looking for items that have been left behind.

In this sense, it is similar to the idea of gleaning, which is collecting crops from fields after they have been harvested commercially, picking up the remains that are "not economically profitable to harvest," as Wikipedia puts it. Wikipedia also notes, "Some ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of a welfare system, but in reality, it was more of both a community and work-centered - a social safety net for the less-fortunate."

This of course reminds Madame L of the story of Ruth, in the First Testament, where, as another blogger put it, "Ruth’s gleaning [landed] her a lot more than some produce from a field, I can promise you that." And, as we all know, it landed the whole people of Israel the ancestry of their greatest king, David, and of Jesus Christ himself.

Back to fossicking: According to Wikipedia, fossicking in Australia is protected by laws and in some Australian states a license is not required. In some, such as Queensland, a license is required. In other areas, parks and recreational areas have been set aside where anyone can come and fossick for free.

Madame L has done a lot of fossicking in her life, without even realizing it, and she plans to continue doing it whenever possible.

Just as importantly, Madame L is going to make a point of saying the word "fossick" or "fossicking" at least once a day for the rest of this year.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Book Review: December 1, 2013: This Is Improbable (And Dave Barry)

This is the funniest book Madame L has read in a long time (other than a collection of Dave Barry's columns, which Madame L recommends even more highly for pure laughs [see below]).

Madame L found this in Powell's at the Portland International Airport for less than five dollars, and it is well worth every penny. You can also get it at or ask Madame L to loan you her copy. Warning: She'll want it returned because there are so many stories in it about just so many incredible, crazy, and, yes, IMPROBABLE research projects.

There's the research on woodpeckers (how can they keep pecking and knocking on hard wood without damaging their brains?---and, no, it isn't because their brains aren't any good anyway); mites and other critters that are sharing your bed with you; the toothless rule of Louis XIV; dream telepathy (Oh! Oh! Madame L wants to be in that experiment! Please!); memory-enhancing strategies of waiters in Buenos Aires; "Do Dogs Do Calculus?"; hexameter verse recitation; a longitudinal self-study of fingernail growth; and, well, you get the picture.

People have been writing proposals for, receiving funding for, and then performing the most amazing research projects. And, to be selected for inclusion in this book, apparently your amazing research project also has to be of no apparent value, or at least not to approach the value you originally hoped to attach to it.

Back to Dave Barry: He is even funnier. Get this book --- or any book of Dave Barry's columns --- if you can. Madame L found her copy in a Goodwill store in Portland. She doesn't even see it listed on But that doesn't matter, because you can get ANY book of columns by Dave Barry, including on, and laugh your way through the gloomy and stress-filled days of December. You can also get some of Dave Barry's fiction on, and Madame L will be reviewing some of that soon. (Or asking some of her readers to review any or all of those books. Takers? Anyone?)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

You'd Better Watch Out

Dear Madame L,

I went shopping on Black Friday, and at a certain store frequented by young, stylish, waspishly thin persons of several genders, the sales clerk asked if I would like to have a special membership card, which would let me be on their list to get special e-mail notifications of sales, give me special discounts, and give me special discounts also to two or three other nationally known "hip" clothing stores.

I said sure, what did I have to tell her to get this wonder card? She wanted my address from my driver's license, then my phone number, and finally Social Security number. I balked at that and said no. Then she still wanted my e-mail address. I asked if I would receive the special e-mail notifications if I hadn't given them my Social Security number, and she said no.

So I wondered what they were going to do with all this information. It was creepy, to say the least. Can you tell me what's going on with these membership cards and all the information they want?


Spied Upon

Dear Spied Upon,

It's true, the retailers want to know everything they can about you. They want to know where you live, where you shop, what kinds of things you buy when you shop, how they can contact you, and how they can follow you from store to store sending you ads on your smart phone. And once they get as much information from you as they can, they share it with other retailers.

Madame L herself would never give any of that information to any store clerk except what is absolutely required to ensure that Madame L is the only one using her credit card and, for that matter, her name.

Madame L is proud of you for declining to accept the terms of that "special" card offer. Keep it up! Consider that, unless you're a Hollywood star or politician, you simply do not have to buy that much stuff to make it worth your while to get those "special" cards. They are not worth it.

For more information about abuses of personal information, please check the EPIC (Electronic Privacy and Information Center) web page on privacy and profiling. Here's a very small sample of the shocking information you will find there: 
Companies collect information derived from a number of resources to build comprehensive profiles on individuals in order to sell products and to sell dossiers on behavior. This is often done without notice or extending a choice to the individual to opt-out of the dossier building. These dossiers may be used by marketers for target advertising, and they may be sold to government for law enforcement purposes. Companies also "enhance" dossiers that they already own by combining or "overlaying" information from other databases. These dossiers may link individual's identities to the following attributes:
  • Social Security Number
  • Shopping preferences
  • Health information, including diet type, allergies, arthritis, incontinence/bladder problems, diabetes, hearing loss, prostate problems, and visual impairment, birth defects
  • Marital status
  • Financial situation (solvency, creditworthiness, loan amounts, credit cards)
  • Date of Birth
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Household income
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Geography
  • Physical characteristics, such as height and weight
  • Household occupants (whether an individual has children)
  • Telephone number
  • Utility usage (electric or gas usage, telephone usage, cable or satellite usage, Internet subscription, celluar phone usage)
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Occupation
  • Level of education
  • Whether an individual is likely to respond to "money-making opportunities"
  • Congressional district
  • Size of clothes worn
  • Habits (smoking)
  • Arrest records
  • Lifestyle preferences
  • Hobbies (whether and what the individual collects)
  • Religion (affiliation and denomination)
  • Homeownership
  • Characteristics of residence (size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, sale price, rent and mortgage payments)
  • Type of automobile owned
  • Characteristics of automobile owned (year, make, value, fuel type, number of cylinders, presence of vanity or special membership plates)
  • Whether the individual responds to direct mail solicitations
  • Contributions to political, religious, and charitable groups
  • Membership in book, video, tape, and compact disk clubs
  • Mail order purchases and type
  • Product ownership (beeper, contact lenses, electronics, fitness equipment, recreational equipment)
  • Pet ownership and type
  • Interests (including gambling, arts, antiques, astrology)
  • Book preferences
  • Music preferences
  • "Socialites"
These profiles are also indexed by other factors, such as wealth. For instance, American List Counsel sells an "ultra affluent database" that is overlaid with information on age, sex, and presence of children. The database includes the individuals' home phone numbers. Many of the "affluent persons" databases are mined from public record filings (Security and Exchange Commission, State Corporations Registration lists) where individuals are compelled by law to reveal their personal information.
Does this scare you? It should!

So do watch out. Take care, especially this holiday season. Remember, there's no deal that's worth losing your privacy or resulting in identity theft. And you probably don't need most of that stuff, anyway, and neither do the folks you're buying even more stuff for.

Happy Holidays,

Madame L

Friday, November 29, 2013

Overeating on Thanksgiving?

Dear Madame L,

I ate way too much yesterday, and today I'm doing the same, reheating leftovers. Also, it's cold and raining where I live, and I don't want to do any exercise.

What can you say that will help motivate me?



Dear Snap Out of It,

Madame L forced, yes, forced herself to go for a walk today, because she, too, lamentably, ate too much yesterday. (Also, Madame L, lamentably, loves her commas, doesn't she.)

Maybe this will help:  "Exercise counteracts the effects of short-term overfeeding and reduced physical activity..."  As you can see, the actual title of the research paper is much longer than what Madame L has typed in here. Apparently, researchers must write long titles for their papers so that readers will be able to guess the contents of the research without actually reading the entire article. Madame L likes this very much because she does not subscribe to the research publications and therefore cannot read the entire articles. If you follow the above link, however, you will be able to read the abstract as well as its entire title of the article.

As summarized in the Refinery 29 article where Madame L found out about this study:
While the idea of emerging from our cozy blanket fort on Black Friday to go for a run still makes us sort of ill, this research could be a big deal in terms of understanding the best way to incorporate exercise into our lives. Whenever we hear "experts" talking about the importance of regular exercise, it's often difficult to parse out exactly how much is needed — and how that time should be spread out throughout the week. This study suggests that the key to an optimal metabolism may be more complicated than simply "calories in, calories out." 

Madame L is going to do more than take a long walk tomorrow. She's going to JOG. And she hopes you will, too.

Best wishes,

Madame L

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weird Word of the Week: Pisher

Madame L found this wonderful weird word on the "Yiddish Word of the Day" site, which defines "pisher" as something like she suspected it would mean:
Pisher means one who urinates. But it is usually used in the phrase "a little pisher" which means either a) A child who is not toilet trained yet or b) A clever child; this can be used as an exclamation after a kid does something clever, and especially something sneakily clever. This isn't what you'd say when your kid brings home a great report card, it's got a tinge of sarcasm to it. A friend of mine had a son who, at age 6 or so, had cornered the market in his school on Pokemon cards - what a pisher!
And then there's a joke to go with the word. It's not that funny a joke, so Madame L isn't going to add it here, but go to the site if you want to read the joke yourself.

Apparently the link here doesn't work for all the words, so if you're interested in any more wonderful and weird Yiddish words, try this site for "Yiddish Word of the Day."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Book Review: November 24, 2013: Jack McCarthy

Madame L is back at the poetry stuff again. It's an addiction, but not one she's trying to kick.

Here's Vancouver poet Jack McCarthy with his poem "Careful What You Ask For":

Friday, November 22, 2013


Dear Readers, does this make you as mad as it does Madame L?

According to an article on the National Public Radio website:

"Wal-Mart is the largest employer of low-wage workers in the country, and they set the terms of this debate," says Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project. "Don't add insult to injury and ask low-paid workers to help those even worse off."

The Wal-Mart food drive, and recent reports detailing a McDonald's website for employees that online at eBay for extra cash, come as the Senate — with President Obama's support — is poised to consider a bill that over three years would bump up the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour...

Calculations based on the Consumer Price Index suggest that if the federal minimum wage approved six years ago was adjusted for inflation, it would be $10.75 today — $3.50 more per hour than the actual minimum wage.

According to data compiled for the Senate labor committee, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have since approved minimum wages that exceed the federal mandate, with a high of $9.19 in Washington state. Ten of those states have minimum wage increases tied to inflation, and 30 states have voted to approve higher minimum wages for tipped workers.

And a found that three-quarters of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, would support a hypothetical hike in the minimum wage to $9.

But even the most ardent advocates of the legislation, introduced by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., initial sponsor of the 2007 bill, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, acknowledge that its prospects are dim, given the atmosphere on Capitol Hill and sustained opposition by powerful business interests like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

For more about the actual wages and working of conditions of Walmart workers, please read this Washington Post article.

Mother Jones magazine points out:
According to [a] report, "A Higher Wage Is Possible," Walmart spends $7.6 billion a year buying back stock. Those purchases drive up the company's share price, further enriching the Walton family, which controls more than half of Walmart stock (and for that matter, more wealth than 42 percent of Americans combined.) If Walmart instead spent that money on wages, it could give each of its 1.3 million US employees a $5.83 per hour raise—enough to ensure that all of them are paid a wage equivalent to $25,000 a year for full-time work.
Even U.S. News and World Report writes that Walmart could afford to pay its workers a living wage if it wanted to.

What can you do about this?  Maybe stop shopping at Walmart. Certainly contact your Member of Congress to tell him/her your vote next time around will depend on what they do to help people like Walmart employees, ad the rest of us, too many of whom are living too close to the edge. You could also support Walmart employees who are planning a protest on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving).

Dear Readers, if you have any more suggestions for the rest of us to show our support for Walmart employees, please comment or write an email message to Madame L.

Thanks in advance,

Madame L

Bucket List

Dear Madame L,

What's on your bucket list?


Wants to Go to Italy

Dear Traveler,

Madame L wants to go more places and do more things than she could ever fit in a bucket.

That's one reason Madame L is never going to make a so-called bucket list.

Another is that she thinks making such a list would limit her.

Because here's the thing: Most of the greatest and funnest and most enriching things Madame L has ever done were not things she would have ever put on a bucket list.

So, let's say Madame L, like you, would like to go to Italy. She hopes she can do that, but if  she has a chance to go to, say, Hong Kong or Taipei, or Brazil or Peru, she'll take any of those, not caring whether they were or were not on any list.

Madame L loves hearing about OTHER people's bucket lists, though. She loves the idea of setting goals for oneself that will help enjoy life and appreciate blessings.


Madame L

P.S. Here are a few places and things Madame L would never have thought to put on a bucket list, and most of them she saw right from her own back yard:

Camas, early morning fog

Double rainbow, Camas

Villarrica Lake in southern Chile

Birdley in the "jungle" in Camas

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two More Weird Words for this Week: Filibuster and Nuclear Option

According to, "filibuster" is "an untranslatable word that has its origins in 19th century maritime piracy and was once used to describe the practice of violently overthrowing Latin American governments."

In Slate's article explaining how the U.S. press treats our nation's issues differently than it does news and issues in other countries, the author points out that the result of the recent Senate vote to restrict the use of the filibuster will be a number of vacant judicial posts being filled, which "will improve the quality of U.S. governance in the eyes of the World Bank and other international institutions."

The reason Slate had to point out this fact is that some members of the press, and ultra-right-wing conservative politicians and pundits, are calling the vote to restrict the filibuster the "Nuclear Option."

The Slate article also points out that calling this the nuclear option is "a serious statement in the only country ever to drop an atomic bomb on another country."

Madame L recommends the entire article for its clear and unbiased explanation of the filibuster, the vote to reduce its use, and the consequences.

Here's another excellent article that explains WHY the Senate "went nuclear." 

Madame L Predicts the Near Future (After Passage of the Nuclear Option)

Madame L, as many of her Dear Readers know, has semi-amazing powers of predicting the near future. And, as many of her Dear Readers are semi-continually asking for her advice, Madame L believes that Said Dear Readers might benefit from Her (yes, Madame L capitalized Her) extensive predictive powers.

Alas, Madame L cannot predict the individual futures of her individual Readers, without a quick glance at their faces or their palms, so she will limit her predictions in this case to the public and political arena.

Firstly, Madame L predicts that now that the Senate has passed the so-called nuclear option, many more Presidential nominees for public service will be confirmed.

Madame L heard You, Dear Readers, whisper behind your hands, "Ha! Anybody could predict that!"


Secondly, Madame  L predicts that Fox News will feature many so-called pundits who will opine, without any qualifications to so do, that this signals the end of our democracy; and that MSNBC will feature many so-called pundits who will opine, based on their broad knowledge of what they themselves and all their progressive friends think, that this signals a New Era in our democracy.

Thirdly, Madame L is already really sick of this whole prediction stuff. She predicts that our country's near future (i.e., up through the holidays and well into January 2014) will consist of a lot of really stupid predictions from both ends of the political spectrum, while ordinary people like Madame L and her Dear Readers will get so sick of it all that they'll stop caring.

They'll all enjoy their holidays without listening to or watching any cable news shows and most likely even without the broadcast network news, which, as they have all noted, is insipid and time-wasting and carries the old adage "If it bleeds, it leads" to ridiculous ends.

And the world will carry on. Our democracy will not be changed in any way. Good news in families will enrich all our lives, in spite of all the pundits and idiots.

Please let Madame L know, say, around mid-January, if she has been correct.

Sincerely and hopefully,

Madame L

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Weird Word of the Week: Selfie

Declared by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the word of 2013," the word "selfie"refers to the type of self-photograph that has become so popular even Pope Francis has done it.

Photo credit: AFP

According to the BBC, "The word has evolved from a niche social media tag into a mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph...

"Research suggested its frequency in the English language had increased by 17,000% in the last year.

Other shortlisted words were twerk, binge-watch, showrooming, and bitcoin. Madame L notes that her blogging program is unfamiliar with most of these words, making a squiggly red line under them every time Madame L types them. So Madame L is proud to say she's ahead of her computer on social trends. For whatever that's worth, which is probably very little, since she doesn't even understand the terminology used in a Business Insider article reporting that Bitcoin "Hits $600."

Jackie Kennedy's Letter to Khrushchev


Dear Readers,

Now THIS is a letter, such a great example of Jackie Kennedy's grace and intelligence, Madame L has to share it with you:

Washington, December 1, 1963.

Dear Mr. Chairman President,

I would like to thank you for sending Mr. Mikoyan as your representative to my husband’s funeral.

He looked so upset when he came through the line, and I was very moved.

I tried to give him a message for you that day—but as it was such a terrible day for me, I do not know if my words came out as I meant them to.

So now, in one of the last nights I will spend in the White House, in one of the last letters I will write on this paper at the White House, I would like to write you my message.

I send it only because I know how much my husband cared about peace, and how the relation between you and him was central to this care in his mind. He used to quote your words in some of his speeches-”In the next war the survivors will envy the dead.”

You and he were adversaries, but you were allied in a determination that the world should not be blown up. You respected each other and could deal with each other. I know that President Johnson will make every effort to establish the same relationship with you.

The danger which troubled my husband was that war might be started not so much by the big men as by the little ones.

While big men know the needs for self-control and restraint—little men are sometimes moved more by fear and pride. If only in the future the big men can continue to make the little ones sit down and talk, before they start to fight.

I know that President Johnson will continue the policy in which my husband so deeply believed—a policy of control and restraint—and he will need your help.

I send this letter because I know so deeply of the importance of the relationship which existed between you and my husband, and also because of your kindness, and that of Mrs. Khrushcheva in Vienna.

I read that she had tears in her eyes when she left the American Embassy in Moscow, after signing the book of mourning. Please thank her for that.


Jacqueline Kennedy

Please note these two paragraphs in particular:
The danger which troubled my husband was that war might be started not so much by the big men as by the little ones.

While big men know the needs for self-control and restraint—little men are sometimes moved more by fear and pride. If only in the future the big men can continue to make the little ones sit down and talk, before they start to fight.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories

Dear Readers,

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, Madame L has been reading a lot of stories online and in her local print newspaper about his assassination.

Madame L clearly remembers where she was when she heard about the President's death: She was in tenth-grade biology class, trying to figure out how to dissect a crayfish. She and all her classmates, as well as the teacher, were stunned to the point of being unable to do anything for the rest of the day; and we were all in a state of mourning for days, even weeks. Madame L's chemistry teacher even volunteered to let the chemistry class postpone an important exam the next day.

But Madame L has never been interested in conspiracy theories about JFK's death. And she still isn't, even with all the trumped-up stories about it with this anniversary. (Also, Madame L just hates that feeling that someone is writing about this now so they can sell more copies of their book.)

Madame L is happy to report that someone who used to be a conspiracy theorist has written about how and why he changed his mind.

Fred Kaplan wrote this article on, which Madame L took a few minutes to read. Mr. Kaplan has changed his mind because he has taken a careful look at the evidence from the Warren Report and new evidence.

Books that had convinced him of the conspiracy idea were wrong, as he writes here: "Then, one day, I looked up the footnotes in those books, most of them leading me to the multivolume hearings of the Warren Commission. I was shocked. The authors had taken witnesses’ statements out of context, distorted them beyond recognition, and in some cases cherry-picked passages that seemed to back their theories while ignoring testimony that didn’t. It was my first brush with intellectual dishonesty."

Madame L thinks her Dear Readers will find Mr. Kaplan's article interesting and clarifying, no matter which way Said Dear Readers have thought about this in the past.

And he doesn't seem to be writing this in order to sell a book, which gives him hundreds of points in Madame L's reckoning. (And this isn't because he doesn't write and sell books. He does! Just check his author's page at to get an idea of what he writes about.)


Madame L

Not Long Remembered? Au Contraire, Mister Lincoln

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Echoing Lincoln, keynote speaker and Civil War historian James McPherson said the president took the dais in November 1863 at a time when it looked like the nation “might indeed perish from the earth.”

“The Battle of Gettysburg became the hinge of fate on which turned the destiny of that nation and its new birth of freedom,” McPherson.

In the July 1863 battle, considered the turning point of the war, federal forces turned back a Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania. Lincoln’s speech was delivered more than four months later, at the dedication of a national cemetery to bury the battle’s casualties.

“Lincoln would have been surprised by the reverence accorded to him by future generations,” McPherson said, noting Lincoln himself held in high regard the country’s founders.

He said the Gettysburg Address, despite its brevity, managed to weave together themes of past, present and future; continent, nation and battlefield; and birth, death and rebirth.

“Men died that the nation might live,” McPherson said. “Yet the old nation also died,” and with it, a system of bondage that enslaved some 4 million Americans.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Great Math Riddle

Dear Readers,

Madame L spent about an hour while she was trying to go to sleep last night, trying to figure out the answer to this riddle. Then her sister, Ellen, sent her the answer.

Ellen had started a project of writing about a number of items she's grateful for, as many items each day in the month of November as that day of the month. So, for instance, on the seventh day of the month she wrote about seven things she's thankful for. She kept it up through the 16th, Saturday, at which point she decided that the lists were "getting longer and longer" while not serving any valuable purpose. Not that she wasn't thankful, and not that she couldn't think of many more things she was thankful for, but she was going to go on to actually thank the people she's thankful for. Great idea!

But it made Madame L think of a problem she'd heard of recently. So she mentioned it to Ellen, who had already heard of it, and knew the solution. Here's what Ellen wrote:

"I remember Daddy telling the riddle of the first-grade teacher who was tired and wanted to give the children a task to do on their own so she could rest for a few minutes.  She told them to add all the numbers from 1 to 100. She thought she'd have some peace and quiet for at least an hour, but only a couple of minutes later, much to her dismay, a little boy came to her desk with the answer. She asked him how he did it so quickly, and he explained how simple it was. If you start at each end and add the numbers--100 + 1--and work your way in toward the middle--99 + 2, then 98 + 3, and 97 + 4, etc.--then each answer is 101. By the time you get to the middle, you would have done it half as many times as the number of numbers you are adding, which in his case would be 50, so 101 times 50 is the answer. So with my 30 days of gratitude, then it would be 31 x 15 which is, as you said, 465."

What an elegant solution to the problem! Thanks, Ellen, and thanks for all you do.


Madame L

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Book Review, November 17, 2013: Journey to the Veil

Madame L found out about this book, and the blog called "UnBlog My Soul," from the blog of one of her family members. But who? She just looked at Ellen's blog and didn't find it there, even though she thought that was where she'd seen it a few weeks ago.

Wherever she found it, Madame L wants you, Dear Readers, to be able to find it whenever you want to be inspired. So, go to that link, or, better yet, to this link, an index to the topics covered in the blog and book.

Oops, Madame L just tried to get to some of the links from that index, and they no longer have content. So,  whether you prefer to carry a book around with you (like Madame L) or not, you'll want to find the book "Journey to the Veil" at

Meanwhile, some of the other links on the front page of the blog do work, including the link to "The Challenge of the Book of Mormon," which Madame L loves.*

What's so great about this book? First of all, it's NOT about this man's fight with cancer and his eventual death---any more than it's about how all of us live through trials and hardships, knowing we too must eventually arrive at, and pass through, that veil.

John Pontius wrote his blog, "UnBlogmySoul," without thinking his posts would ever be collected into a book. In fact, as he was dying and his wife suggested she could do that, he objected at first. In

It's about gospel principles. It's about how God loves us. It's about how we should act if we want to be happy.

Madame L promises you that you will laugh and cry as you read the book. And then you will resolve to improve your own life. Thank you, John Pontius (1952-2012) for your life and your legacy and for your testimony.

*Here's an excerpt from "The Challenge of the Book of Mormon," which reminds us, again, that the Prophet Joseph Smith really did translate the Book of Mormon from ancient records, as he said he did. If someone nowadays were to attempt to write a fake document like it, here are some of the things he/she would have to do:

---Write a history of an ancient Tibet covering a period of 2200 B.C. to 400 A.D. Why ancient Tibet? Because you know no more about Tibet than Joseph Smith (or anyone else) knew about ancient America.
---You must be 23 years of age.
---You must have no more than three years of formal education and must have spent your life in a backwoods farming communit.
---Your book must be 522 pages, and over 300,000 words in length. (Remember writing a term paper in high school or college? Can you IMAGINE writing this length in the time Joseph Smith dictated his translation to his scribes?
---Your history must be written on the basis of what you know. There was no library, and no published works on Ancient America for Joseph Smith to reference, so you must use none. There is to be no research of any kind.
---Other than a few grammatical errors and corrections, you must make no changes in the text. The first edition you dictate to your secretary must stand forever....
---Many of the facts, claims and ideas and statements given as truth in your writings must be entirely inconsistent with the prevailing beliefs of the world. Some of your claims must prove to be the direct opposite of the prevailing worldly beliefs of the time.

And so on. Madame L also loved the page from the blog called "Scriptorian's Keys."

Dear Readers, if there's only one book you read for the rest of this year, make it this one. Madame L promises you will be glad you did.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weird Word of the Week: Stone Age

With apologies for letting this feature go for so long, Madame L returns with this weird word, or expression, for this week:

Stone Age: Anything before Android OS 4.0 (including, um, Madame L's mobile telephonic device)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Book Review, November 10, 2013: What's on the Other Side?

Madame L recommends this book to everyone who has ever had a friend or relative die, to everyone who has ever wondered what dying will be like, to everyone who has ever wondered why they're here on Earth and who and where they were before they were born, to everyone who thinks about God's love and what He has in store for us.

Madame L recommends this book to everyone. It's written by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you don't have to be a Mormon to enjoy the book. The Author, Brent L. Top, has researched the topic of what we often call "life after death" through careful reading of ancient and modern scriptures, statements by modern prophets, and experiences of people of all faiths who have "gone over" to the other side and returned.

And here's what they have in common: They find that they are loved, that they are greeted and welcomed by, as Brigham Young wrote, "more friends behind the vail than on this side, and they will hail us more joyfully than you were ever welcomed by your parents and friends in this world; and you will rejoice more when you meet them than you ever rejoiced to see a friend in this life."

As Madame L said, you don't have to be a Mormon to ask these questions and to have these experiences. And what's great about this book is that it explains it all. As the subtitle promises, the book summarizes "What the Gospel Teaches Us about the Spirit World."

Madame L found the book in her local Deseret Book store, but it's also available on for $15.96 for the new hardcover and for $15.26 for the audio-book CD.

Madame L will also be happy to loan her copy of it to any of her interested readers, if they'll promise to return it so she can read it again.

Madame L sees on the website that the author has also written "The Life Before," which Madame L will be reading and commenting on as soon as possible.

Madame L invites comments and recommendations from all her Dear Readers on these books and any other books on these subjects.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Book Review, November 3, 2013: Who Are the Children of Lehi?

Dear Readers,

Have you ever wondered how religious people can hold on to their religious beliefs while accepting modern science with its apparently anti-religious conclusions about the nature of the universe, the earth, and the appearance of humanity on the earth?

Madame L does not happen to have that problem, because her church (she is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) teaches true religion is compatible with truth in whatever realm; that we should accept truth, and only truth, no matter its source; that we should search for truth; and that we can receive personal revelation from a loving God who wants to lead us to truth, enlightenment, and back into His own very presence.

But Madame L is well aware that not every member of the church thinks the same way she does, and certainly that not every member of the scientific community does. 

So she loves it when she finds some LDS (Latter-day Saint) scientist who explains how whatever  his or her field is does not conflict with the Book of Mormon or with true religion in general.  

Here's an example that Madame L recommends heartily: "Who Are the Children of Lehi? DNA and the Book of Mormon," by Jeff Meldrum and Trent Stephens, available at

The authors, professors at Idaho State University, demonstrates that we have no way of "proving" the truth of the Book of Mormon by comparing the genetics of the modern-day indigenous people of America with the family of Lehi or any of the other settlers of the New World mentioned in the Book of Mormon. 

Does the fact that DNA testing of modern indigenous people of North and South America does not reveal them to be descended from or related to any Middle Eastern peoples "prove" that the Book of Mormon isn't true? Of course not, and these authors demonstrate why the very idea that DNA evidence should "prove" or "disprove" such an idea is preposterous.

If you don't have a background in molecular biology, no worries, because the authors kindly provide about two semesters' worth of background on the subject in the early chapters of the book. If getting that much information in less than 20 pages seems daunting, don't worry about that, either, because you can skim through that part to get to the conclusions, which show precisely why individual genetics won't work to solve this "problem." Then  you can read the chapters on population genetics, again skipping to the conclusions if you'd like, and which show, again, from that point of view, why it simply can't be done. Does it matter? Obviously not.

The book is infused with the authors' strong testimonies of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and its teachings and their conviction that having a background in molecular biology or any kind of science is not necessary for gaining a testimony. 

Madame L recommends this book heartily to members and non-members of the Church. Madame L has started reading another book by these authors, "Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding," also available from, and will report on this book soon.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Haribo Sugarless Gummy Bears

Dear Readers,

If you need a laugh today, please check out the page for this product. 

Do not order the product for yourself. In fact, do not even bother to look at the product's description, although you may be edified by this safety warning:

"Consumption of some sugar-free candies may cause stomach discomfort and/or a laxative effect.  Individual tolerance will vary.  If this is the first time you’ve tried these candies, we recommend beginning with one-fourth of a serving size or less. Made with Lycasin, a sugar alcohol. As with other sugar alcohols, people sensitive to this substance may experience upset stomachs."

Then, warning in mind, scroll down and read the funniest reviews ever. For example:

"As I type this review, I'm on the toilet, surrounded by my dearest family and friends and a priest. I'm not exactly sure whether this is an exorcism or if I'm getting my last rites read to me. This very well could be my final crowning moment. I may never make it back to my feet. What a way to go. Will I go out by suffocating in a toxic byproduct stench? Will I croak from my body expelling all essential nutrients for life? Is this the apocalypse?..."

Perhaps you'd like to order the product for, say, your member of Congress. Or your former significant other who broke up with you by e-mail.


Madame L

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Should I Dress in Blackface This Halloween?

Dear Madame L,

Should I dress in blackface this Halloween?


Need a Costume

Dear Costumer,



Madame L

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Book Review, October 27, 2013: The Reason I Jump

Madame L bought this book on the recommendation of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and Madame L is passing along Mr. Stewart's recommendation:

Read this book. You don't have to have a child or a friend or a friend with a child with autism to appreciate it. But if you do, as Madame L does, you'll especially appreciate it.

"The Reason I Jump" was written by a Japanese boy with autism. It explains better than any of the many other books Madame L has read on this subject what is going on in the minds of autistic people.

If you don't want to buy your own copy (Madame L got hers from for $13.54) and the waiting list at your local library is too long, please let Madame L know you're interested, and she'll send you her own copy.

Really. It's that good, and it's that essential for us to understand and empathize with these people who so desperately need our understanding and care.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bike History 101

Thanks to the Vancouver Bicycle Club for these 9 interesting facts, which they in turn took from "Bicycle: The History," by David Herlihy, and from "The World Almanac Book of Records: Firsts, Feats, Facts & Phenomena," by Mark Young.

1. In 1817, Karl von Drais, a German baron, invented a horseless carriage that would help him get around faster. The two-wheeled, pedal-less device was propelled by pushing your feet against the ground. The machine became known as the "draisine," and led to the creation of the modern-day bicycle.

2. The term "bicycle" was not introduced until 1860s when it was coined in France to describe a new kind of two-wheeler with a mechanical drive. The French borrowed from the Greek word, "cyclos," which means "circle."

3. Orville and Wilbur Wright, the brothers who built the first flying airplane, operated a small bike repair shop in Dayton, Ohio. They used their workshop to build the 1903 bike "The Wright Flyer."

4. Fred A. Birchmore, 25, circled the globe by bicycle in 1935. The entire trip, through Europe, Asia, and the United States, covered 40,000 miles. He pedaled about 25,000 miles. The rest was traveled by boat. He wore out seven sets of tires. (Only seven sets.)

5. There are over a half billion bicycles in China. Bikes were first brought to China in the late 1800s.

6. About 100 million bicycles are manufactured worldwide each year. (And not one of them made in the USA---could that be true?)

7. Over the past 30 years, bicycle delivery services have developed into an important industry, especially in cities, where the couriers have earned a reputation for their high speed and traffic-weaving skills.

8. Americans use their bicycles for less than 1% of all urban trips. Europeans bike in cities a lot more often: In Italy 5% of all trips are on bicycle, 30% in the Netherlands, and 7 out of 8 Dutch people over age 15 have a  bike.

9. Bicycle Moto Cross (BMX), an extreme style of bicycle track racing, became a sport in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Maris Strombergs, of Latvia, won the gold medal for Men's BMX, and Anne-Caroline Chausson, of France, won the gold in the women's event.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Obamacare Train Wreck?

Dear Madame L,

I'm sure you've heard about all the problems people are having signing up for Obamacare, with the government websites not even working. How can you still support this idea?


Less Government

Dear Less Government,

Madame L still supports the idea of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, as many people call it; and she is positive that it is going to be successful and helpful for millions of Americans who currently don't have affordable health care insurance.

Madame L is sorry so many people are having problems with the website and the roll-out and agrees that the feds should have planned that whole thing better. But here's the thing:

When lying politicians (strong words, but true) will say or do anything for their own partisan and re-election and donor-pleasing purposes, Madame L doesn't see any reason to believe them.

And when supposed "news" organizations report "news" that isn't news at all, Madame L thinks they should be put in the public stockade and pelted with rotten eggs. Case in point:

If you watch Fox News, you may have seen three respectable middle-aged couples complain about how Obamacare is killing their little mom-and-pop businesses and so on. But a reporter on the other side of the political fence checked up with these people and found that the truth behind their stories was the complete opposite of what they were brought on TV to say:

One couple said they had to cut back on employees because of the act, even though it applies only to businesses with 50 or more employees, and they have only 4 employees. One said insurance under the ACA would be more expensive than their current insurance, but they hadn't even tried to compare prices; when the reporter did, he found they would save more than half under Obamacare what they were currently paying.

Madame L's point is proven again and again when politicians and their TV allies lie about the ACA. Please, Less Government, gather the facts from real news sources. And when you're receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits, remember that it's the federal government's social safety net that is providing those benefits, and remember that the same fol-de-rol was folled-and-rolled out when those programs were first introduced. Also, did you know that the Heritage Foundation was the group that first came up with the idea of Obamacare's individual mandate? You can find it right here.

Madame L must add one more thing: The childish tantrum thrown by the Republican Party over the ACA is shameful. Many people, not just federal employees but many others, suffered because they were furloughed, and the example which has been set of creating a crisis every few months and demanding concessions in return for normal governance is despicable.

Sincerely, angrily, and disappointedly,

Madame L

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book Review, October 13, 2013: Scatter, Adapt and Remember

Subtitle: "How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction"

The author, Annalee Newitz,points out that people (humans and our proto-human ancestors), as well as many other species, have survived calamities many times in Earth's history.

And this is how humans do it: Scatter, adapt, and remember.

Madame L recommends this book if you haven't read much history and anthropology, or if you have little or no background in biology or geology or astronomy.  Also, it would be a great read if you have lots of spare time for reading a lot of fluff mixed in with a few good ideas.

But here's the thing, Dear Readers:  Madame L knows you DO love to read, but also that you have a basic education so you're aware of the basic facts about biology, geology, astronomy, history, and anthropology. Madame L also knows that, as much as you love to read, you want to read new ideas and ideas that will make you think in a new way about the world. And that means you don't want to waste your time reading old news. Because old news is, of course, not news at all.

So, here, Madame L will tell you, without any more details, because she only skimmed through the book once she realized it had very little new to offer, and has already returned it to her local library, that the title says it all.

Next time, Madame L will write about a book or books that she will recommend, including novels about how people survive apocalyptic or near-apocalyptic events. (And, interestingly, the survivors are scattered, they do adapt well, and they do remember...but they also do a lot of other things.)

Until then, please send Madame L suggestions for books you would like her to review and please send your own book reviews.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Book Review: October 6, 2013: The Trouble With Poetry

Madame L found this wonderful collection of poems by Billy Collins in her local library, and if she ever finds a used copy of it in a bookstore, she's going to snap it up.

The trouble with poetry, as Mr. Collins says, is

...that is encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.

And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world...

Not that poetry's only job is comparing everything to everything else, but it certainly does that well, doesn't it. And Billy Collins' poems make Madame L laugh and cry and think and, as he says, fill Madame L with the urge to write poetry. Which is good.

Here's another poem from that collection, so you can see what Madame L means:


Yes, that's Orion over there,
the three studs of the belt
clearly lined up just off the horizon.

And if you turn around you can see
Gemini, very visible tonight,
the twins looking off into space as usual.

That cluster a little higher in the sky
is Cassiopeia sitting in her astral chair
if I'm not mistaken.

And directly overhead,
isn't that Virginia Woolf
slipping along the River Ouse

in her inflatable canoe?
See the wide-brimmed hat and there,
the outline of the paddle, raised and dripping stars?

There, now you see what Madame L means? Doesn't that make you want to laugh and then go out and look at the stars and write your own poem?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Best Advice Ever! --- James Clear

Dear Readers,

Would you like some good advice on how to stay focused when you get bored working toward your goals?

Or are you still needing some good advice just to get started on building better habits so you can begin working toward your goals?

Madame L has been reading the blog of James Clear for a few weeks now and hopes you'll begin reading it, too. He has great ideas and he's responsive to readers' comments. He writes, for instance:
We believe that you have the right to pursue freedom and choose your direction in life. Hundreds of people have written in and shared their dream to start a business, write a book, or otherwise do work they love. The common theme through all of these responses is a clear desire to choose the direction for your own life. I haven’t heard from anyone who has said, “I wish someone would just figure it all out for me.” There have been plenty of people who admit to not having all the answers (myself included), but we are certainly a group that wants to take responsibility for the life that we live and the work that we do.

Are you one of those people who has a dream and needs help getting started? Here are some more of James's articles:

---The "Chosen Ones" Choose Themselves

---Successful People Start Before They Feel Ready

---What is Actually Required for Success

And here's one more, for how to deal with haters and critics.  Here are his main points on that subject:

I’ve said this many times before, but it bears repeating: I don’t really have anything figured out. I’m not an expert and I don’t have all the answers. I’m still learning to deal with criticism like everyone else.
But in my limited experiences, here’s what I can summarize about dealing with haters.
  1. First and foremost, don’t be the hater. Don’t be the person who tears down someone else’s hard work. The world needs more people who contribute their gifts and share their work and ideas. Working up the courage to do that can be tough. Support the people who display that courage.
  2. If you’re dealing with criticism, then don’t let the wall keep you from seeing the road. Focus on the path ahead. Another way I heard it put recently, “Ignore the boos. They usually come from the cheap seats.”
  3. If you choose to respond to the haters, then surprise them with kindness. You might just win a new fan while you’re at it.
  4. Finally, and most importantly, make the choices that are right for you. People will criticize you either way.
Madame L's best advice for any of her Dear Readers is to follow James's advice.


Madame L

Monday, September 30, 2013

More on Vaccinations

Dear Madame L, 

I want your take on vaccines. As someone who has lived in multiple countries around the world, who has probably had actual real life experience with some of the diseases vaccinated against (polio, right?), and as someone who seems very knowledgable in the scientific fields. 

When I was pregnant with the first, it never even dawned on me that anyone would choose not to vaccinate. I was blown away by the fact that there are people out there who wouldn't do it for their kids. It seemed so simple. It'd be like if your child had cancer and you chose not to fight it. This made me want to figure out why. I've read the vaccine manufacturer inserts, studied the effectiveness of some of the vaccines available, read about what they actually prevent or don't prevent, read about the actual diseases that the vaccines are meant to protect against and their symptoms and mortality rates, learned about the different possible side effects of the vaccines, read people's studies on why some children are affected in such terrible ways and others are not, toxins from the vaccines pass directly through the blood brain barrier (which I'm still reading about) and I have learned that not all vaccines are created equal, as I once thought. 

Vaccine injuries are real. Many babies and toddlers are permanently damaged by them. People have filed lawsuits against the government for whichever country they live in and the government has admitted fault to the vaccine injuries and end up paying for the child's medical care for the rest of their lives. 

The diseases they fight to protect us against are real. People have suffered and died because of them, and continue to do so. Some in the USA and a lot in other countries with less sanitation. 

So what's your take on vaccines? Are there some you think are very important and others that aren't? Are there some that you believe are more of a risk to have than the disease itself?

Then of course, there's the claim that vaccines are causing the rates of autism to continue going up. 

One doctor, Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride has researched the link between neurological issues and our gut flora. Basically finding that when you have a healthy gut flora your body has the tools and health to fight off things such as autism, add, ADHD, schizophrenia, even allergies and other issues. She says that vaccines aren't the cause of these issues, just another contributor. Things such as antibiotics, lack of breastfeeding to pass on the mothers antibodies, and the lack of nutritious foods are also contributors to the decline in the health of our gut flora. She has a special diet full of probiotics and fermented foods that she recommends that, over time, builds the gut flora back up. She actually had a son who was diagnosed with autism whom she fed these things to and he was later symptom free. 

I think her findings make the most sense to me, out of everything I've read so far.

She suggests that people can simply test their gut flora to know if they are at risk of developing issues. If they are, she helps them repair it before continuing on with recommended vaccination schedules. 

What's your take on all of this? 


The person who keeps driving her mother crazy throwing all my findings at her in an effort to bounce ideas off someone.

Dear Person,

Thank you for your detailed question. Madame L apologizes for taking so long to getting around to addressing your questions and particularly appreciates your thorough research on the topic. 
Yes, it's true that Madame  L had polio as a child, along with her older sister and younger brother.
It's also true that as soon as the polio vaccine became available, Madame L's mother took her and her brother and sister to the public health clinic to get them vaccinated. Even after someone told her that her children probably didn’t need the vaccine if they’d already had the disease, she reasoned that they might have had a mild version that didn’t completely protect them from further outbreaks or that they might have had had a different version than whatever would be going around in the future. In any case, she did everything she could to make sure her children would be safe from any disease, any harm.

Madame L realizes that you are doing exactly the same thing for your children: everything you can to make sure they are safe from any and every disease and harm. Madame L hopes you'll continue reading every bit of valid --- and Madame L emphasizes the word "valid" --- research you can find on the subject of the safety of vaccinations.

Madame L has read many articles and books suggesting that good nutrition will help prevent or even cure all kinds of illnesses, ranging from blindness to multiple sclerosis. Yet none of those articles and books has included scientific, statistically valid, unbiased, replicable studies to back up the authors' conclusions. And, in fact, Madame L notes that in almost all those cases the people writing those books have some ulterior motive or bias; this may include simply that whatever they're selling worked for them.

Addressing the article you mention in your question: Madame L does not have access to, nor does she think most other people have access to, a doctor who will test their gut flora to see if they've been infected with or are in danger of getting a disease for which a vaccine exists. In fact, this whole notion strikes Madame L as more than ridiculous. If a person has been infected with the mumps, for instance, the last place to check for evidence of the disease is in their gut, even if antibodies could be found there. Madame L knows there are many explanations for apparent spontaneous remissions of many diseases, including diet, but Madame L isn't counting on anything like that happening for millions of Americans.

Further, as you know, the doctor who published the study most often cited about vaccinations and autism has withdrawn the study and has been thoroughly disgraced, as he has had to admit that the study was flawed and his conclusions were invalid. Madame L is glad you haven't jumped on that bandwagon, which many people are still tooting their horns on, even though it's got four flat tires and a broken-down engine. Madame L found a good video on this topic, which she thinks you'll find informative.

So, what are we left with? If we discard bad science, money-making science, tricks-with-words-by-doctors-who-are-selling-books-and-supplements-and-lab-tests science, government-scientists-are-probably-lying-and-it's-all-a-government-conspiracy science, and celebrity science, we are left with good solid evidence for the efficacy of childhood vaccines and for the value of getting those vaccines on the government-medical-science-recommended schedule.

Madame L recommends this Web site, AntiAntiVax, for summaries of that good solid science and links to pages with more detail.

Madame L hopes you'll read this information, discard the information that comes from unqualified and biased writers, and conclude, as she has, that the best thing you can do for your children is get them vaccinated according to the schedule recommended by the Public Health officials who are concerned for the health of everyone in our country.


Madame L