Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
It looks like these Kenyan vultures are not being poisoned on purpose, but accidentally as poisoned carcasses are left to eliminate predators. But the effect is the same. As the article points out, vultures are critical for the ecosystem.
When I lived in Burkina Faso we used to watch vultures circling the village. They flew incredibly high came down at the right time to feed. They always seemed to know what was going on. On days when the market was running they were especially numerous. It was cheap entertainment on a hot afternoon.
I hope the poisoning does stop so that the vultures can return to a normal number.
Monday, December 13, 2010
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Sunday, December 05, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I came across this fascinating collection of pictures of the Lewiston/Auburn Maine area going all the way to the source of the Androscoggin river in New Hampshire. The pictures were taken by Charles Steinhacker for the EPA. At this time, 1973, the struggle was on to clean up the river, which had endured almost a century of industrial and municipal waste. The pulp mills deposited all their waste directly into the river. The towns along the shore did the same. The smell of the river was legendary.
At this time the Clean Water Act had just been passed with high hopes. It would take many years, but the river would eventually be restored. I was a student at Lewiston High School at the and remember the time and the issues well.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The subject of the talk was how the religious right has misrepresented the true meaning of the Gospel in their effort to make the USA turn back to God and proclaim itself a Christian nation. Hughes showed that although the nation was founded with a strong Judeo-Christian influence, the founding fathers never intended to establish a state religion. They knew too well the problems that had caused in Europe. Instead, they wanted a secular society where all religions would be respected.
Hughes touched on periods where fundamentalist leaders had tried to convince the country to accept their point of view. In the second Great Awakening in the first part of the nineteenth century their message included the plea for social justice that brought about many social reforms and led to the emancipation movement. In the fundamentalist movement in the early twentieth century they ignored social justice entirely. And in the fundamentalist movement that began after the 1960's they reject all claims of social justice that are found in the Bible.
According to Hughes, these lies are causing great harm to our country and leading to the political polarization that we have today. I thought his argument made a lot of sense. The fact that he is a strong Christian himself makes his argument even stronger. He is fighting from within, so to speak. I am eager to read the whole book. I was glad to get an autographed copy.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
While on a business trip last week I picked up the new George Washington biography by Ron Chernow. I had previously read his biography of John D. Rockefeller. I really enjoyed it! I have gotten as far as the end of the French and Indian War. The account of Washington as a young man has been very revealing. I didn’t realize that Washington was so ambitious. He never hesitated to grab the advantage. I look forward to reading the rest of the story.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010
I really enjoyed the story. I enjoyed that the monsters, the vampires, were not totally evil. They were as much to be pitied as feared. Although the story is classified as horror and science fiction, it has very strong, well developed characters. Peter is the perfect reluctant hero. As the miracle girl Amy has enough mystery, yet she is real enough to be believable.
Some reviewers felt the book was too long. But I really enjoyed the length. The author took the time to develop the characters and the situation. It took time to show the life on the colony and then how it came unraveled.
The end was really exciting, not what I expected at all. It really made me think. It will be worth it to read this again in a few months to catch some of the clues I may have missed the first time.
My only disappointment is that the next volume won't be published until 2012.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Sunday, September 05, 2010
with landscapte timbers. Just another course or two to go. I went to Lowe's to get more timbers and found out they were on sale
at just under two dollars for pressure treated, eight foot timbers.
How can they even make any money selling at these prices? Is it meant
to be a loss leader? Or, is the goal to entice people into the store
and buy other things. Probably, they just have a lot of them to get
rid of. I just don't understand marketing.
These pictures were sent with Picasa, from Google.
Try it out here: http://picasa.google.com/
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Sunday, August 01, 2010
I usually walk in Norlo Park every day, sometimes twice, with the dog. These willows get only minimal trimming. I think they just trim the low-hanging branches. Yet, they always look like they are sculpted. These trees are doing great near by the edge of the stream.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
The controversy reminded me of some of the experiences I had living in Burkina Faso and Senegal in the 1980's Both of their legal systems come from French law, through the prism of African culture. Police have the right to stop and ask you any questions. I remember the road blocks. I was always a little nervous. It's as if you had to prove that you had a right to be where you were. Now, we were never hassled and had just a few uncomfortable experiences, especially after the coups in Burkina.
In the US, on the other hand, we are free to do as we wish. The police can't stop you unless they have a suspicion you are doing something illegal. And even then, they have strict limits as to what they can ask. It would be a shame to lose that freedom, the feeling of liberty. If we all have to prove that we have a right to be here, instead of the police having to prove they have a reason to stop us, then we will have lost a great deal.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I usually just listen to NPR stations at home, at work and in the car. But on an eleven hour car trip (PA to ME both ways) I needed some variety. I found that commercial radio is definitely not what it used to be.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
Saturday, July 03, 2010
Today's stories of General Petraeus making his first appearance at a July 4th celebration for the American embassy personnel in Kabul Afghanistan reminded me of the years I spent in Africa. As Peace Corps volunteers we went to several celebrations in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso. Somewhere I have slides of a celebration in Dakar, Senegal where they even had a color guard from the embassy Marine guards.
General Petraeus takes command of the Afghanistan warGeneral Petraeus arrived in Kabul today to take over the Afghanistan war effort. Afghans say he faces a limited window to rein in corruption, make the Karzai government more accountable, and create momentum toward peace.
By Dan Murphy, Staff writer / July 2, 2010Newly appointed U.S. and NATO forces commander, U.S. General David Petraeus, speaks with Commander of ISAF Joint Command Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez during their arrival in Kabul Friday.DEU Army Michal Miszta, IJC Public Affairs/Handout/ReutersKabul, Afghanistan
With the US-led Afghanistan war in its most precarious position since it began nearly nine years ago, Gen. David Petraeus arrived in Kabul today to implement a strategy similar to the one he successfully pioneered in Iraq.
It includes not only removing the Taliban from the villages they have occupied for years, but also overseeing reconstruction, helping create a more accountable government, and building up the Afghan military and police.
The capital of Kabul is an oasis of relative security. But the situation in the south of the country – the Pashtun heartland that gave birth to the Taliban in the early 1990s – is deteriorating, say average Afghans, aid workers, and some diplomats. June was the deadliest month ever for foreign troops here.
“Compared to eight years back, or even three years back, we are really much, much worse off than at any point,” says Danish Karokhel, who runs Pajhwok Afghan News, which has reporters in every city. “The Taliban are on most of the important roads leading to Kabul. The government just looks so weak to people.”
Poppy farmer Dal Mohammed is not a Taliban supporter – far from it, he says. After all, it was partly the Taliban’s fault that he recently had to flee his village in southern Afghanistan with his two wives and seven children for this refugee camp on Kabul’s outskirts.
But it was the joint US-Afghan military response to a Taliban attack that destroyed his home in Helmand Province and drove him here.
Standing amid the temporary brick-and-mud homes, he says the situation in Helmand is the worst it’s been since the war began. As fellow refugees nod, he says peace should be made quickly with the Taliban.
The Afghan government? “We have no trust in them at all.”
Challenges: Corruption, instability, and government accountabilityAs Gen. David Petraeus takes command of the Afghanistan war, the call is coming in loud and clear: Do something different and do it fast. The common refrain centers on several challenges: Rein in corruption, make the Karzai government more accountable, and create enough momentum toward peace that Afghans will put their weight behind the US-led fight.
To do this, Petraeus will need to resolve tensions between the US military and civilian leaders and President Hamid Karzai. While the US has poured more than $280 billion into Afghanistan to rout Islamist militants, Karzai’s government has been reaching out to the Taliban – a move some say is based on the calculation that the US lacks the ability or political will to stay until the insurgency has been vanquished.
“How can we fight the Taliban when Karzai is making overtures of peace and is thinking about asking them to join the government?” asks Rahman Oghli, a member of parliament (MP) who worries that citizens may be led to believe that turning against the Islamist movement is more trouble than it’s worth. “Our Army would be thinking to themselves, ‘Why should I fight when it’s going to end that way?’ ”
Petraeus is revered by many for having created that crucial momentum in Iraq, successfully recruiting Sunni insurgents to help turn the tide against Al Qaeda.
What Afghan lawmakers want Petraeus to doPoliticians from Marjah and Kandahar, both targeted for key US offensives, charge that two pillars of the counterinsurgency strategy – to protect civilians and establish the rule of law – have largely failed.
Walid Jan Sabir, an MP from Marjah district in Helmand, says the area is at best marginally safer since the US-led offensive in February.
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We always felt our American-ness more strongly in an overseas post. All the things that may divide us at home are not important in another country. There is definitely a special pride being a U.S. citizen, regardless of politics or anything else.
I can only imagine how the Americans in Afghanistan deal with the stress and danger of the security situation. In Burkina Faso and Senegal we only had to deal with petty street crime. We were free to celebrate and share our pride in our country!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
http://store.usgs.gov Topographic maps will never be the same again!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I kept wanting Fanny to become more assertive. Instead I started to see her as a blank slate where her total virtue was used to show the shorctomings of her cousins, aunts, uncle, and all the other characters. It wasn't until the end of the book where she goes to visit her family that she showed some reactions of her own.
I didn't understand why Fanny and Edmund opposed the play so much. Was it just too show that it could lead to temptation? After a while I got tired of hearing about propriety so much. I read somewhere that Jane Austen had participated in amateur theatricals with her family. Did she oppose it or did she just use this situation to make the story?
Also it was obvious that Fanny would end up with Edmund. Didn't they worry then about first cousins marrying? And he never seemed to really understand her in spite of all his kindness.
I loved the characters in this book. Aunt Norris and Lady Bertram are fabulous. Henry and Mary Crawford are also great. I have known people like this and will think of these characters when I meet more. I can see coming back to this story again. I think next time I will read it, although I really liked the audiobook version.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
While visiting a redwood grove in Humboldt State Park last week we noticed this bird swooping down on us as we walked among the trees. Come to find out it is Steller's jay. Here's a good picture I found on Flickr in the bird guide group.
I got a few usable pictures of my own at the park visitor's center.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Here is a link to more information on Fernando Botero's work.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
A lot of time was taken up with the return and difficulties of E. B. Sledge. He was tormented by nightmares and had a hard time returning to civilian life. In the past week I read his wartime memoir With the Old Breed. I really enjoyed the book, even though the story was extremely brutal at times. The battles of Pelelieu and Okinawa were terribly difficult battles. Sledge describes the horrors in detail that you don't see in many history books. For example he tries to explain how the odor of dead bodies and human waste in the tropical heat got worse day after day as the battle continued. It's a wonder that any of the soldiers could return to normal life after what they had seen and done. I think our leaders should read something like this before deciding whether or not to go to war.
Now I need to get a copy of Robert Leckie's A Helmet for My Pillow.
Monday, April 26, 2010
The book is written by Hugh Ambrose, the son of the late historian Stephen Ambrose. I highly recommend it as an excellent read all by itself, even without seeing the TV series. It adds two new voices: Vernon "Mike" Micheel was a navy pilot who flew bombers at Midway and continued in several subsequent battles; and Austin C. "Shifty" Shofner who served in the Phillipines, was imprisoned, escaped, served as a guerilla leader, and then returned as a combat commander with the Marines. I can see why the TV series left out the officers to concentrate on the infantry soldiers. It would have needed five more episodes, at least. Their story, however, adds tremendously to the book.
The book leaves out Robert "Lucky"Leckie, for the most part. As Ambrose says, he wrote his own book which told his story very well. I did find an old interview of his on Booknotes on C-Span. I will be adding his titles to my reading list.
I did wonder about Eugene Sledge, from Mobile, Al. Throughout the story Ambrose emphasizes his conservatism and love of the old South. I kept wondering how he did in subsequent years, and especially through the Civil Rights struggle in the south. How did he adapt to all the changes in the world he loved? He did eventually become a biology professor in a college. I really want to read his books to see more about his war experience and his life afterwards.
The Pacific really debunks the Greatest Generation idea. These soldiers were no better or worse than other people. They were forced by circumstances to fight and did the best they could. It diminishes what they did to put them on a pedestal.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
This is an excellent site for sharing outrageous book covers. I will be on the lookout for pictures to submit!
Saturday, April 03, 2010
Mystery solved thanks to Alex Lamoreaux, who writes "That mystery bird is a hermit thrush, they will be heading north soon to their breeding grounds and be replaced with wood thrushes (who breed here)."
I assume the hermit thrush is not a hermit all year long!
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Years ago, when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso I came on a village where the people were celebrating this festival (1981). I took a number of pictures that I have been using in presentations over the years. I will have to get them scanned and pointed at some point. I am glad to see that there is a festival there now. for those of you who read French, here is an article in the local newspaper, le faso. Enjoy the video!