November 18, 2011

Happy Friday. -34 here in the flats, not so bad at the citadel, where it is currently -11. Looks like a gorgeous day dawning. The Alaska Range is clearly visible in the south. There are often weeks on end when the mountains are not visible from Fairbanks. Mostly you see them in the fall and winter. It’s always surprising that they look so large when they do appear.

Yokelly we finished watching the BBC nature documentary LIFE with David Attenborough. You know, of course, that his brother is the actor/director Richard Attenborough, who directed Gandhi and acted the old, white-bearded guy in Jurassic Park. Anyhoo, LIFE is spectacular. Each program focuses on one category of life on earth. There are several segments that deal with mammals, breeding behavior, raising young, predator-prey relationships, and such. Also segments on insects (heh), marine invertebrates (one of the best parts of the series), fish, birds, plants, and (last) primates other than WO/MAN. Each program ends with a short documentary on how they filmed the documentary. Only a large, well-funded organization like the BBC could pay photographers and technical support people to travel to remote places and stay there for weeks or months on end to film things most people have never seen or even imagined. Some of the photography, often done at some risk of injury to the photographers, required carefully designed blinds, or aerial wires to support moving cameras, or drilling a hole in the Antarctic ice so scuba-diving photogs could place cameras on the ocean floor. The time-lapse photography sometimes took as long as a year to complete a sequence that lasts perhaps a minute on screen. It doesn’t get much better than this. Highly recommended. Would make a great gift for any nature lover in the family.

Local news includes the story that two more Ft. Wainwright soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, following the three (?) who were killed last week. Remind me why we are still there after 10 years and counting? Others were “injured,” which covers everything from superficial wounds to loss of limb. All the talk about cutting funding for health care never seems to get around to the enormous sums we spend on military adventures and far-flung bases. We just stationed a bunch of troops in northern Australia, in case we need to invade New Guinea or Indonesia or wherever. The Roman Empire collapsed under the strains of an over-extended military empire combined with the dictatorial leadership (the emperors) that emerged from the civil wars among the generals. Fortunately, we are not at all like that.

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