Saturday, October 1, 2016

Have a Good Month, World


Jeff—Saturday

Kalo Mina.

That’s how to wish someone a “good month” in Greek, and this being the 1st of October it’s the appropriate time to offer such a greeting. Some might think with things as difficult as they are in Greece—and believe me they are—offering good wishes for such a limited period is a bit stingy, but such a limited time offer strikes me as consistent with about how far ahead government planning seems to extend over what to do next in wrestling with Greece’s Great Depression crisis.



There is an adage in writing fiction that’s admired by we seat of the pants writers (who distain outlines) for comparing our style of writing to driving a car at night: You need not see the entire road to reach your destination, just following your headlights will get you there.


That works for fiction writers just fine, but I’m not so sure I’d recommend it to a government in the dark running so close to the edge of a cliff.  Some longer term planning, together with a peek or so at a map—and every so often asking someone familiar with the territory for directions—might prove a safer way to go.  Though if you’re trying to write a horror story…


Then again, who am I to question the wisdom of a foreign nation’s leadership?  After all, we have our hands full with our own back here in the good old US of A.

Indeed, from our television networks’ ratings driven news coverage there’s virtually nothing happening anywhere in the world as significant as our elections. Yes, mention is made of events that arise to Hitleresque stature, but only as a tease for returning to the next round of (non) presidential prater.


It’s as if we expect the rest of the world to go on hold while we conclude our three-year cycle of Presidential elections. Make that four-year, because candidates are already positioning to run in 2020. 


Question: If 20-20 vision means perfect vision, does 20-16 mean cockeyed?

Just asking.


Personally, I think this campaign is doing a tremendous service for the average American citizen by providing free cardiac stress tests simply by turning on a TV.  Pick a news channel, any channel, and I can assure you that within moments you’ll find some report or commentator testing your blood pressure. 








It’s also helped me to work on my primal scream.

AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!


Kalo mina.


—Jeff

Friday, September 30, 2016

A literary tour of Washington Zoo

I spent a lovely day wandering around Washington Zoo, then got very bored in an airport due to a flight delay. I am now going to burden you with the result of those two events. Looking at pictures of animals and thinking about books that maybe should have been written...




The Pig Easy

The Silence Of The Lamas

Don Quixote

Don Goatote


The Pelican Brief


One flew over the err... I am sure there must be something here...Jeff? EvKa?


Show me the way to arapaima....

Who Bears Wins
where eagles bear?

Anything by Jeffrey Beaver


That'll be the degu


How to survive the capitalist meerkat.....


From ear to eternity

The allegations made by the .... alligators???


Jaws

The Snapper

                                                   No country for old tortoises

Never read between the lions

The cat in the striped pyjamas

The Boxer....by Mike Bison
( ok scrapping the barrel there but it's a great pic)

Tree Men Panda Baby

Pandamonium



The Cheetah


Captain Correlli's Pangolin

I will go away now,

Caro Ramsay  30 09 2016



Thursday, September 29, 2016

CITES 17

Michael - Thursday

CITES stands for quite a mouthful - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the 17th plenary meeting of the participants is taking place right now in Johannesburg. With a few not very important exceptions, every country in the United Nations is a signatory. The aim is a laudable one: to control trade in species which are in danger of extinction in the wild, or which may become endangered if exploitation is not strictly controlled. Most of the 35,000 species on one of the three CITES appendices are plants, but about 10% are animals and birds. As one would expect, they have the highest profile. And while most of the 35,000 are facing extinction due to the loss of habitat, global warming, and overutilization, again the highest profile species are the victims of baseless beliefs, greed, thoughtlessness, and politics. (Disclaimer: Any similarity between this and the US presidential election is purely coincidental.)


Umm...now what?
Of course it’s the big names that make the running—elephants, tigers, rhinos. But what of the smaller species which are just as valuable and even more vulnerable? Who has a thought for the pangolins—fascinating creatures with chitinous protective scales, who roll up into a solid ball when threatened and make a good living cleaning up ants and termites? Why would anyone persecute these interesting characters? Unfortunately they, and especially their scales, have a reputation for medicinal properties in the East. Estimates suggest that perhaps a million individuals have been illegally killed over the past decade for meat and the use of scales and body parts. Yesterday CITES 17 agreed to move all pangolin species (Asian and African) to Appendix 1, the highest level of protection and banning all international trade. I’d be even more thrilled about that if some of the other occupants of that Appendix were doing better; all species of rhino are on that list, for example.


Another example is the African Grey Parrot, down to perhaps 1% of previous numbers in the wild. Your pet store owner will tell you their specimens are all bred from domestic stock and hopefully that will be true. But many are snared in the wild, wrapped in muslin bags, and smuggled out of Africa with plenty dying along the way. They, too, are to move to the highest endangered level.

The Guardian newspaper has released a series of in depth articles on endangered species and illegal trade to coincide with the CITES meeting. See this article for example.


Then the politics. China is a signatory and appears to take its responsibilities seriously.  But there's ample evidence that tigers are bred for body parts in that country although that is against their own law. China reacted angrily to the accusation, pointing out that CITES is about international trade and so what it does internally is nobody else’s business. What’s more, they point out, the breeding program actually enhances the tiger gene pool so that it helps the species overall.


There are also disagreements about elephants. Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have the largest populations (in that order of total numbers) and they asked for a process to be initiated to lead to an orderly sale of legally stock-piled ivory, perhaps through a once-off auction as has been done before. The money could then be used for conservation of other species, particularly rhino. This was vehemently opposed by Kenya which has seen their elephant numbers decline significantly due to poaching. Kenya won the day with more than 70% of the delegates rejecting even a discussion of a future process. One delegate is said to have remarked bitterly that if Kenya cleaned up its act—particularly controlling ivory smuggling through Mombasa—then its elephant populations might be growing the way the southern African ones were.

As for the rhinos, the furor carries on. There are many good arguments on all sides, but CITES will certainly continue the ban on the rhino horn trade. Having just lost a pregnant female in our small game reserve in broad daylight despite our anti-poaching team, technology, and the hard work of our people, to say nothing of the efforts of the government and CITES, I’m now convinced there’s no option but to regularly and painlessly remove the horn and destroy it on the spot. The game reserves that have done that have lost essentially no animals since they started the policy. If the day comes when the peoples of China and Vietnam no longer believe that the horn is anything more than solidified animal hair, they can be allowed to grow back. At least we’ll have some rhinos left for the horns to grow back on.

Monday, September 26, 2016

a Paris past, post-Bouchercon and the awesome Twin Cities

Wow what a gift! My friend, Maureen in Portland, just sent me this wonderful 1948 map of Paris by arrondissement along with a Metro ticket. Hmm wonder if I can use it in November?
After Bouchercon, the wonderful agent who represents Lisa, myself and Duane Swerzyinski invited us for dinner. A cajun prawn dish and home made cookies.
Then on to Minneapolis/St. Paul for a library talk. Pat Frovart, who I and many people love, took me to lunch and her 'old' bookstore, Once Upon a Crime, now run by Devin and Jessie. Pat, who owned Once Upon a Crime bookstore for years with her husband, Gary, were honored with the Raven award at the Edgars. Gary, passed away a few months ago, and is deeply missed by the mystery community. Just want to say Pat is doing well, and as she says 'Now I've got time to read for pleasure, not work"
To me this is what the Twin Cities really are about :)
Cara - Tuesday who missed seeing Susan Spann at Bcon zut!

a Paris past, post-Bouchercon and the awesome Twin Cities

Wow what a gift! My friend, Maureen in Portland, just sent me this wonderful 1948 map of Paris by arrondissement along with a Metro ticket. Hmm wonder if I can use it in November?
After Bouchercon, the wonderful agent who represents Lisa, myself and Duane Swerzyinski invited us for dinner. A cajun prawn dish and home made cookies.
Then on to Minneapolis/St. Paul for a library talk. Pat Frovart, who I and many people love, took me to lunch and her 'old' bookstore, Once Upon a Crime, now run by Devin and Jessie. Pat, who owned Once Upon a Crime bookstore for years with her husband, Gary, were honored with the Raven award at the Edgars. Gary, passed away a few months ago, and is deeply missed by the mystery community. Just want to say Pat is doing well, and as she says 'Now I've got time to read for pleasure, not work"
To me this is what the Twin Cities really are about :)
Cara - Tuesday who missed seeing Susan Spann at Bcon zut!