Monday, February 12, 2007

Greetings from the Beagle Channel

Ushuaia, Argentina, is supposedly the southernmost town on the planet. Anyway, it sits here on the Beagle Channel, named after the ship on which Charles Darwin sailed, HMS Beagle. The weather is unusually warm and sunny, I think we managed to arrive on their one day of summer. The scenery here is spectacular, quite mountainous with glaciers and at lower elevations forests of southern beech quite similar to those in New Zealand. In fact this country looks like the lake country in southern EnZed.

Buenos Aires was its usual mixture of Parisian chic and third world decay. Argentina is a country with many advantages and one serious disadvantage: Spanish colonial heritage. That last is enough to outweigh all of the former. With amazing natural resources and an educated population, they manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory time after time. When they needed Margaret Thatcher as a leader, they instead got her as an enemy. Poor Argentina.

This afternoon we board the ship and sail off into the Drake Passage - arguably the roughest seas on the planet. We´ve taken our seasickness meds and we hope for the best. I understand internet time on this ship costs $1/minute so I probably won´t blog until we return.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Travel Blogging

I will be traveling to Latin America and Antarctica for the next three weeks. Blogging during the balance of February will be (a) irregular, and (b) travel-focused. I will try to send an entry from Ushuaia, Argentina, which felt like the end of the world when I was there three years ago. I'll also try for impressionistic posts from Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls and Rio de Janeiro.

This blog will be back to its ususal fare of domestic politics and world affairs in March. Have a good February....

Legislators Resemble Diapers?

As noted above, I will be traveling to Latin America in a few days. This article identifies some of the trends in Latin America about which one can be sad. It quotes Juan Peron of Argentina as saying "when one enters politics, one throws his honor to the dogs."

On the other hand, I particularly enjoyed the wisecrack: "Legislators and diapers need to be changed frequently, for the same reason." That is perhaps the best argument for term limits I've ever heard.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Global Warming, or Not?

Al Gore says we are at dire risk from global warming. Others say it just ain't so. I'm no climate scientist and I don't claim expertise. One thing I do know: there was naturally occurring global warming (and cooling) long before humans were able to affect the climate. Those natural forces still exist.

If there is global warming going on now, we humans may or may not have much influence upon it. Scientifically, it is difficult to tease out the relative impact of natural and man-made forces when both are acting at the same time. This is especially the case since the natural forces have already demonstrated that they alone can cause what we are experiencing.

Check out an article on global warming written by Mark Steyn in the Sunday Chicago Sun-Times online. He has a point of view which may even be right, but he is for sure entertaining and his facts are normally correct.

For a more serious approach to the same topic, see George Will's article in Newsweek online. He makes a number of the same points, as well as providing some political insights about the issue.

As always, gentle readers, the sharing here of your own climate change insights, thoughts, and fears is welcomed.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

They Chose Civil War?

Every now and then Charles Krauthammer says what needs saying. Writing in the National Review Online, he has an interesting 'take' on the situation in Iraq.

He argues that blaming Americans for the violence in Iraq is nonsense. He concludes "It willfully overlooks the plainest of facts: Iraq is their country. We midwifed their freedom. They chose civil war. "

If he is correct, that makes a good argument for leaving and letting the Iraqis get on with the bloodletting.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Final Harry Potter Book on Sale in July

July, 2007, will provide a double jackpot for Harry Potter fans. The movie version of book five: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will open in theaters on July 13. In this book Harry matches wits with the High Inquisitor, Professor Umbridge.

A variety of sources are carrying the news that the seventh and final book in the best-selling Harry Potter series will be on sale July 21, just eight days later. Entitled "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," it will conclude the series which documents young Harry Potter's adventures during seven years at the wizard boarding school, Hogwarts.

Jo Rowling, the author, has indicated earlier that two major characters die in book seven. She has also indicated that the final chapter will describe the futures of the books' major characters. It will be interesting to see if Rowling leaves room for future books set in the wizarding world. Alternatively, she may tie everything up so tightly there is nothing left to say.

Rowling probably won't write further books because she needs the money. She is reported to have become the richest woman in the United Kingdom, richer even than the Queen. On the other hand, she may continue to write because she has stories she wants to tell.

If you liked the Potter books and movies, check out the unabridged versions of the books recorded on CDs by British stage actor Jim Dale. He is simply excellent. He does all of the voices himself and each major character has his or her own distinctive voice. I believe that he won a Grammy for one or more of the recordings. The other DrC and I enjoy listening to them in the car on long drives.

President Reagan Remembered

Most political pundits write from their heads, or their guts. Peggy Noonan writes about politics from her heart, and it shows. When she is on her game, nobody does it better. Writing in the Wall Street Journal she fondly remembers the man and the President.