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Monthly Archives: October 2008

My Favorite Lions, II

October 29th, 2008 - 7:32 am
mirror mirror on the ground, who's the coolest lion to be found?

mirror mirror on the ground, who is the coolest lion around?

My Favorite Lions

October 29th, 2008 - 6:31 am

Africa, cont.

October 28th, 2008 - 10:48 am

The body wanted to sleep, but we were up at half past five and in the Land Rover by six to see whatever we could before the animals went to sleep for the day.  And it was worth it, bigtime.  We saw one of the most beautiful male lions ever (I’m a Leo, so I have a particular sort of bonding with them), and we were within ten yeards orso of him.  I’ll get the photos up soon.  Then a group of elephants, with about half a dozen babies, one of whom decided it was time to show off his feistiness.  He started running towards us, trumpeting up a storm, until his mother reached between his rear legs with her trunk and redirected him back towards the others, heh.  A bit later one, we saw the lion again, this time with a mate, who was limping a bit, sorry to say.  He seemed to recognize us, and let us get quite close again, and kept her calm.

Then this evening we were looking for buffalo when we heard lions roaring in the distance, so off we went.  IT was the same couple from the morning, plus another male, maybe fifty yards off.  Evidently they two males had exchanged roars over territorial control.  We’ll be listening tonight;  there’s lots of game for them and they may spat over the prime cuts.

We also saw a rarity:  a group of about ten older buffalo males, who had been expelled from the herd by the younger bucks.  They’ve been judged too old by the others, and so they will no longer be permitted to mate or to share territory.  One by one they will die off, prey to the hungry cats in the neighborhood.  In addition to the lions, we saw a couple of jackals, and the hyenas are always plentiful, along with leopards and cheetahs.  One of the reasons I love Africa so much is that if you make a big mistake, there is always something or perhaps even somebody who is ready to eat you.  It’s not like Washington, where you get to redesign yourself for the next wave of celebrity.

By the way, I have a couple of words for that fool who wrote in to say that I was involved in Iran-Contra and then accused of being a prime mover in the Niger forgery story.  If he bothered to look into either matter he would find that I was cleared of all accusations of malfeasance in both cases, and in Iran-Contra it came after five years of very detailed investigations by a special prosecutor.  That guy wouldn’t last long in the bush, let me tell you.

Then, this evening, we saw something I had never seen before:  a bush baby.  They are the cute little creatures thatare said to be the models for gremlins.  We found one in a tree after nightfall, and it certainly looked very gremliny, with its bright orange eyes and pointy ears…very small, very hard to spot.  Full marks to our guide Ziggi, who saw the orange eyes flashing at our searchlight.

Impala for dinner.  It may storm tonight, an adventure all its own.

Sunset in South Africa…Wow

October 27th, 2008 - 1:47 pm

There is really nothing like it.  We flew on South Africa Airlines from Washington to Johannesburg, changed to a one-engine plane that took us up to Kruger National Park, circled the landing strip once to frighten off the animals (mostly antelope) and then landed a couple of hours before sunset.  En route to our quarters we drove through a herd of elephants,a herd of buffalo, past eagles, antelopes and two rino.  Unpacked just in time for the sunset, the usual, inspiring, dazzling orange and pale blue sky at day’s end.  For us Africa addicts, it brings a unique peace of mind and natural beauty unique on this earth.

Now if only I remember to shake the scorpions out of my sneakers whenever I get out of bed…I’ll be able to savor the news that we have finally moved against the terrorist camps in Syria, for which I have been calliong since 1983.  And how wonderful that Michael Yon is on Pajamas!

Maybe we’ll someday do the same to the Iranian camps.

Back to Africa

October 26th, 2008 - 8:24 am

We will head to Dulles Airport shortly, to board South African Airways’ nonstop flight to Johannesburg.  We will spend half the next week on a friend’s ranch in the Kruger Park, mostly tooling around in a Land Rover, taking pictures of the herds of elephants, water buffaloes and various kudu, springbok, rinos, lions, cheetahs, etc. etc.  And then the other half in a small village in Congo, where, I am promised, there will be wifi.  If so, I’ll be online.  If not, we’ll be back in time to vote and will be back online on Nov 3rd or 4th.

I’ve been going to Africa for a long time, on average twice a year, and I’ve got lots of good friends there.  For the most part, it’s been a wonderful experience, and for Americans who have spent a lot of time thinking about “race,” going to Africa is a great education, because very few Africans think much about it.  The big thing is tribe, not race.  We’ll be with Zulus, Swanas, and Bacongo, for the most part.

Remember when Clinton went to Africa and tried to apologize for the slave trade?  And President Museveni of Uganda cut him off, laughing, and said “don’t apologize for that;  we did that”?  There’s a certain basic realism to life in Africa that cuts through many of the stereotypes of political correctness.

In Kruger we’ll eat mostly meat;  in Congo, mostly fish, with lots of vegetables and fruit.  And great beer everywhere, one of the benefits of European colonialism.

Barney Frank, Deep Thinker

October 25th, 2008 - 7:57 pm

Barney Frank is one of the most overrated “intellects” in this town.  He could only be considered “smart” when compared to his Congressional colleagues.  Not for nothing do they have a ten percent fan rating.  Barney recently said that “the Iraqis” want us out of their country, but Jay Nordlinger spoke to an Iraqi military officer:  “You should have met the Iraqi colonel who said, if we Americans leave too soon, we will turn over the country to al-Qaeda and Iran — and people like him will have to flee for their lives.”

But Barney, and his man Obama, really don’t give a damn about such Iraqis (which is to say, MOST Iraqis);  they’re all about punishing America.  Nor, apparently, do Obama’s many minions.  When Hitchens, who once actually accused me of mass murder, belched up his pathetic endorsement of the Messiah, all he could say about his man’s foreign policy was “the Obama-Biden ticket is not a capitulationist one, even if it does accept the support of the surrender faction.”  Which is kind of like saying that all the calls for “negotiations” with Iran are simply catering to the idiots who support him, and leaves you with a choice between two unpleasant explanations:  either Obama believes it (which would make him a dreadful Commander-in-Chief), or he doesn’t (which would make him an embarrassing panderer, with no reason to think he’d change in office).

On the other hand, you have to wonder just how stupid Barney is.  After all, he’s one of the major culprits in the financial crisis, and yet not only does nobody really lay a glove on him, but mostly he gets praise as some sort of wizard.  Getting away with idiocies like “the Iraqi people want us out” is nothing compared to that.

I guess it’s a friendly gesture from Condi Rice to Obama, huh?  Once we open our “interest section” in Iran, he’ll have a place to stay when he goes to Tehran.  I wonder if this means the Iranians are telling us to ignore their public statements saying that they won’t talk to us until we’ve withdrawn from the Middle East and broken all support to Israel…or whether we’ve already agreed to that.

Meanwhile, the Iranians continue to push for some spectacular terrorist success in Iraq, where they and their al Qaeda and Mahdi Army allies have been humiliated by American and Iraqi forces.  As Bill Roggio reports in the linked article, we’ve captured 8 Iranian officers and killed one more in Iraq the last six days.  He notes that American officials say that our intel on Iran-in-Iraq is getting better, which means that those captured Quds Force (often misdescribed as an “elite” force, when in reality it just refers to those Revolutionary Guards guys operating outside Iran’s borders) are telling us quite a bit.  I suppose it’s only a matter of a few days before some Congressman, Senator or intellectual protests our interrogation methods, and calls for an investigation.

Because, as I’ve noted before, we really don’t want to know what the Iranians are up to.  But there’s a lot of information out there that shows what the mullahs are doing, and some day our current leaders will have to answer the old questions:  what did you know and when did you know it and why didn’t you do anything against a regime that has made death–in Iran and wherever our soldiers are to be found–its main activity?

Global Cooling

October 22nd, 2008 - 3:53 pm

I’m a great admirer of Robert Tracinski, who puts out one of the most thoughtful webzines, The Intellectual Activist (it also exists in a dead-tree version).  His latest deals with global cooling.  I’ve lifted a lot of it for you here, in the hope that some of you will want to subscribe.  He’s a wonder, a fine writer, and a man prepared to evaluate evidence and change his mind when the evidence convinces him.  Here you go:

recent evidence about sunspot activity is cause for concern about the likelihood that we may be returning to significantly cooler times ahead. Blogger Michael Asher reported recently that the sun made history of an ominous sort in August 2008: for the first time in 100 years an entire month has passed without a single visible sunspot being noted by astronomers.

“The article ‘Dearth of Sunspot Activity to Herald New Ice‘ portends that if this present sunspot trend continues, the world could be in for major changes.

Following the end of the Sun’s most active period in over 11,000 years, the last 10 years have displayed a clear cooling trend as temperatures post-1998 leveled out and are now plummeting. China recently experienced its coldest winter in 100 years while northeast America was hit by record snow levels and Britain suffered its coldest April in decades as late-blooming daffodils were pounded with hail and snow on an almost daily basis. The British summer has also left many yearning for global warming, with temperatures in June and July rarely struggling to get over 16 degrees [Celsius] and on one occasion even dropping as low as 9 degrees [Celsius] in the middle of the afternoon.

“Summer heat continues in short supply, continuing a trend that has dominated much of the 21st Century’s opening decade,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “There have been only 162 days 90 degrees or warmer at Midway Airport over the period from 2000 to 2008. That’s by far the fewest 90-degree temperatures in the opening nine years of any decade on record here since 1930.”

Forecasts of a sharp cooling trend are backed by the UK’s Armagh Observatory, which has been observing solar activity for over 200 years. The observatory notes that solar cycles 21 and 22, which were characterized by being short and intense in their activity, led to the natural global warming observed in the 80s and 90s. “Cycle 23, which hasn’t finished yet, looks like it will be long (at least 12 to 13 years) and cycle 24, which has still to start, looks like it will be exceptionally weak,” writes one observatory scientist.

Based on the past Armagh measurements, this suggests that over the next two decades, global temperatures may fall by about 2 degrees C—that is, to a level lower than any we have seen in the last 100 years…. “Temperatures have already fallen by about 0.5 degrees C over the past 12 months and, if this is only the start of it, it would be a serious concern,” concludes David Watt.

“Of particular concern is the fact that the complete absence of sunspot activity supports a paper on recent solar trends by William Livingston and Matthew Penn of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson. The NSO scientists have accumulated data showing a trend which suggests that by 2015, ‘sunspots will disappear from the solar surface.’

“A dearth of sunspot activity could herald a repeat of the Maunder Minimum, the name given to the period roughly from 1645 to 1715, when sunspots became exceedingly rare and contributed to the onset of the Little Ice Age.”

Jack Wakeland agrees, citing Henrik Svensmark’s The Chilling Stars, which provides the theory for the relationship between sunspot activity and global temperatures. Jack is too busy designing all of the nuclear power plants we’re going to need soon because we can’t build any more coal-fire plants, so in lieu of an actual review of the book, I’ll post the comments Jack sent to me:

“This book outlines a powerful theory of cloud formation. Dr. Svensmark’s discovery is that cosmic rays, within a specific energy band, generate the vast numbers of micro droplets of electrically-charged H2SO3 and H2SO4 in the lower atmosphere that cause sun-reflecting clouds to form. He has observed dramatic increases in charged micro-droplets of acid in the laboratory and he has seen it in data reported in airborne H2SO3, H2SO4 micro droplet surveys over the ocean. Experiments are scheduled for the CERN particle accelerator to further examine the precise mechanics of the collisions of cosmic rays with atmospheric molecules by which charged mirco-droplets are formed.

“For decades meteorologists have been chasing after the source of these micro droplets and planetary chemists have been chasing the SO3 emissions over the oceans that provide the material for most of these droplets (because most of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans). They’ve been interested because these electrically charged micro droplets of H2SO3 and H2SO4—many of which are only dozens or hundreds of molecules in size—are the nucleation sites for atmospheric water droplets that make up clouds.

“Henrik Svensmark discovered that cosmic rays create these charged micro droplets, that differences in the annual flux of cosmic rays within the frequency range that generates lower atmospheric clouds correlate directly with changes in the global atmosphere and ocean temperatures; that major astronomical collisions that have occurred two or three times over the past billion years (and produce vast fluxes of cosmic rays) can be correlated to paleontological evidence of major shocks to the earth’s climate; that decadal sun spot cycles (which alters the fraction of the cosmic rays within the right energy band that get deflected away from the solar system) correlate to decadal warming and cooling of the earth’s atmosphere; that early Renaissance observations of sunspots are correlated with centuries-long warming and cooling cycles (the end of the Medieval warm period and the Little Ice Age); and that changes in isotopic concentrations of atmospheric gases trapped in polar ice which are correlated to cosmic ray flux can be correlated to millennial changes in the earth’s atmospheric temperature.

“His cosmic-ray-cloud-formation theory explains atmospheric temperature changes on every time scale against which it has been tested: on the annual timescale, on the decadal timescale, on the tricentennial timescale, on the millennial timescale, and on the time scale of paleontological epochs (hundreds of millions of years).

“Henrik Svensmark has discovered the primary thermostat of the earth.

“Henrik Svensmark’s theory even explains the ‘Antarctic anomaly’—ice cores around the world show that, for over 30,000 years, when arctic ice and glaciers across the northern and southern hemisphere recede, Antarctic ice accumulates, and vice versa.

“Are there other, secondary thermostats? Surely there are. (e.g., astronomical changes in our sun’s output as it ages, the precession of the earth’s spin and irregularities in its orbit, and of course atmospheric chemistry, the greenhouse effect of water, methane, and CO2). But none is correlated to global climatic temperature change with one tenth of the strength or one tenth of the reliability, across all time scales, of Dr. Svensmark’s cosmic-ray-cloud-formation discovery.

“But the science on the issue of CO2′s role in changing the climate is even more clear cut. Not only is there no scientific evidence of any kind that the earth’s climate is getting hotter and being driven out of control by rising CO2 concentration, there is newly discovered scientific evidence that proves that the earth’s temperature is being driven by cosmic rays, and there is newly discovered scientific evidence that the climate is well under control. There is newly discovered evidence that proves that substantial reductions in solar activity over the past ten years have cooled the earth 0.3C.

“We not only know that CO2 is innocent, we know—with the certainty of Perry Mason winning a confession on the witness stand—which party ‘did it.’

“It is a very peculiar, even tragic, situation that Dr. Svensmark made his momentous discoveries about what is the primary driver of the earth’s climate—he made the discoveries in approximately 2002–2006—at the exact moment when it has become almost impossible to rationally discuss the earth’s climate. He made his discoveries at the moment when the entire Western World is on the brink of committing industrial suicide over the supposed horrors of too much CO2.”

Biden Yet Again

October 22nd, 2008 - 11:53 am

We are just back from a long weekend in and around Billings, Montana, happily without internet connection for most of the time.  So it is only now that I’m catching up on the latest utterances of our leaders.  I have long said that Senator Biden is one of the dimmest bulbs in that great overdone chandelier known as the U.S. Senate, and his performance in this campaign has certainly added dimness to his luster.  As Governor Palin said just yesterday, if she had said the things Biden has said, she’d be carved into little pieces by the MSM and by the narcissistic intellectuals who frequent the oped pages and the talk shows.  Whether remembering FDR’s television performances or the great American victory over Hezbollah in Lebanon or a local restaurant that hasn’t existed for two decades, Biden simply invents his world every day.  I guess if he doesn’t have a text to plagiarize, he just can’t get it straight.

Suddenly, everyone paid attention to an offhand remark he made to friends at a fund raiser.  And for once, I think he got it right, warning that if Obama were elected, he’d be severely “tested” quite early in his presidency.  ”

“Watch. We’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.

“And he’s going to need help . . . to stand with him. Because it’s not going to be apparent initially; it’s not going to be apparent that we’re right.”

This sort of a thing is a commonplace for incoming presidents;  I can’t remember one who wasn’t told something like it during the transition period, and a lot of energy is invariably devoted to analyzing likely scenarios and designing adequate responses.  On this one, Biden is simply part of the conventional wisdom.  The surprising part of his statement is the last sentence.  What does he mean when he says “it’s not going to be apparent that we’re right”?

Of course, it may mean nothing.  Lots of Bidengaffes are simply the result of an inability to stop talking, and words just come pouring out.  But it may mean what McCain is suggesting it means:  that Biden knows that Obama has no sense of what the world is really like, and it’s likely that Obama’s initial reactions will be misguided.  The inference would then be:  so until I, Biden, get him straightened out, he’s probably gonna look bad.”

On the other hand, he may think he knows something real.  There are some blog reports suggesting that US intelligence agencies now believe that Iran will be building its first bomb by next February, and Biden may take those reports seriously.  If so, President Obama would have to do something.  What?  Does Biden think that his administration’s first instinct would be to call a conference and then fly to Tehran to negotiate a big deal?  Or does he think it would then be necessary to take drastic action?  The talking cure seems more to Obama’s taste, but no serious person believes it would succeed.

Who knows?  But imagine if Palin had said such a thing.  We’d have a million column inches explaining why she doesn’t belong on a national ticket.


October 16th, 2008 - 7:27 am

It seems to me that nobody in the MSM has pointed out the clear shift to the right throughout the West in recent months.  France (Sarkozy), Italy (Berlusconi), Austria, and now Canada.  Australia’s a bit of an outlier, but the new leftist government has proven centrist, a clear recognition that the Australian electorate was just tired of Howard and wanted to play with a new kid.  I think the repeated failure of referenda on Europe is part of this trend.

A lot of this has to do with a slow, reluctant recognition of the threat of radical Islam, in the form of immigration and excessive toleration of anti-democratic Muslim leaders.

Is it a harbinger for our own future, in this election or future ones?  I don’t know;  as usual a lot depends on events (especially in Russia and the Middle East), and on the quality of leadership.  We’re facing four years of bad to mediocre leadership, and I don’t see the sort of charismatic Western leader anywhere who can catalyze a strong, coherent fight for the victory of our values that we will eventually have to wage.  Perhaps Sarah Palin will prove to be that leader;  she certainly has at least some of the qualities, and a lot of the convictions, we will need.

However, I do think that the Western trend is helpful to the next American president, because he’s going to try to be more “multilateral,” and the new European leaders will not be as inclined as their predecessors to convince America to join a suicide cult.