Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ten Thoughts for Today

1. Why is it that I have to go the National Review to find an article about how much of the revenues from United States' purchases of oil imports from Venezuela (the U.S. buys more than 15% of its oil from that country) go to Cuba, who, in return, sends "intelligence personnel" (read left-wing radicals/militiamen) back to strong-man Chavez? (Even more of the revenues fund Venezuelan contracts with Russia to buy MiG-29s and 100,000 AK-47s.) Even if any part of this is untrue, why hasn't Big Media been doing intelligence gathering of its own? The Christian Science Monitor has this story today, but NR had it almost 2 weeks ago.

2. I think younger liberals and Democrats need to realize that sometimes, even though it may "feel" strange at first, we live in a post-Vietnam, post-Gulf War I age where terrorism is real, tyranny is real, and using the "big stick" (rather than speaking softly) sometimes makes the most sense. That said, from whom can the future leaders of the world now learn diplomacy?

3. Dying Rwandans need some Big Dubya. (Speaking of big sticks.) If there is one place on the planet where nearly everyone would get behind Bush saying "Screw everyone else; we're goin' in," it's in Darfur. C'mon! I'm becoming annoyed.

4. AJMac had a good post on leadership the other day. I like this passage:

The sine qua non of leadership is merely that people follow you. Nothing else is required, really. Which means, of course, that a lot of bad leaders out there are leading people to terrible places. Good leadership requires more than simply taking charge; it requires one to lead in the right direction. However, all leaders have one thing in common. If you are to give others the opportunity to follow you, you must decide to go where no one else is going. You must make up your mind, commit to your course 100%, and not be dissuaded by the lack of popular support for your decision. You must lay everything on the line. You should base your decision upon the best information possible in real time. However, once you have first stepped on the road less traveled, you must not turn back at the first sign of resistance.

5. The accipiters are a genus of forest hawks. I like the idea of navigating around obstacles--large trees, shrubs, rocky outcroppings--at high speed. All in pursuit of something worthwhile. Like a dragonfly. Or a mosquito. That is, if you happen to be a gyrfalcon.

6. I'm tired of women I know putting down birds. I love birds. I'm an amateur ornithologist, actually. I don't know a lot, but I recognize most of the birds I see. I'm constantly reading about them, drinking in all the details: beak shapes, wing lengths, scapular colors, breeding plumages, habitat range, forage behaviors, etc. A lot of these women seem to think birds are like flying rodents. I simply don't get it. Luckily, my wife is a Ph.D. ecologist, so she appreciates birds and other living things.

7. I've come to realize that it would be very easy to be an atheist. There'd be a lot of good reasons to be one, I suppose. But it would feel so empty. I often say that Nature and love are enough God for me. Well, that's simplifying it; but there's a kernal of truth there. It seems that atheists must be devoid of wonder or a sense of mystery. Because, looking out across the valley in Yellowstone or over a reef in the Florida Keys, I feel so much beautiful, creative, living energy. Such astounding complexity and order. And the love I know in my life: it has a source beyond me, beyond those who love me. I know there are arguments for and against what I'm saying. Some very elegant. But for me, maybe it's that I'm left yearning for so much more than humanity. Because, despite the goodness therein, there's a lot of ugliness in being human.

8. All that said, I often reflect on John Lennon's line: "Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try." Written and sung for peace here.

9. When I think of the Inupiat people who live on the North Slope of Alaska, I think about eating an apple when I was working up there. That one apple cost the funding agency close to $50 to make available to me. In that same outpost (Atkasuk), I met two teenagers on an ATV coming back from a hunting trip. Their machine was covered with blood. They carried rifles. They had just shot a caribou and were coming home to find some others to help them bring it back. Ambivalence about oil drilling should be expected.

10. Real Fig Newtons are better than generic ones. The cake is lighter, richer. The filling more golden, softer, juicy.


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