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Peace and good will have finally arrived
By Bert Raynes, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: January 2, 2013
Well, friends, here we go, racing into 2013. Just commencing the 21st century, really. And haven’t these first dozen years of the 21st century been peaceful throughout the world, demonstrating how mankind has learned from the past century full of wars that killed or hurt millions upon millions of humans, destroying cities and habitats, wasting resources. It’s so nice to see peace, good will and calm brotherhood become the watchwords of this still-new century.
The tableaux of people from opposing political parties or representing contrasting views on some darn thing, standing or sitting shoulder by shoulder, staring into a TV camera, is endlessly fascinating. The odds are great that the antagonists (or even allies) won’t ever look at one another during the interview.
They do listen: They absorb, but they don’t look at one another. They stare directly ahead with those vacant eyes one might see on public transportation in a large city. The I’m-not-really-here blankness.
Owls’ eyes are fixed in their sockets, and the birds must turn their entire heads to see what they want to see. Photographs of a line of baby owls often show the nestlings with wide-open eyes all facing one direction, at the camera yet not knowing what it is. That’s kind of how those TV appearances look.
Almost never does a TV encounter as described educate about the subject or advance a solution.
Afterthought: Characters in the TV appearances mentioned above resemble bobblehead dolls. Those dolls look directly ahead, and if you wish to see some reaction whatsoever they need a slap alongside the head.
The politicos in the administration and in the U.S. Congress are heading the nation into a new and reputedly dangerous financial situation. By the time this piece prints, the important date of Jan. 1, 2013, has passed, so it’s known which crisis we’re in: under a new financial situation or still under a deadlocked situation. There doesn’t seem any opportunity for thoughtful progress.
What will our representative government come up with this time? How long might it take? Impasse.
In his first inaugural address — in January 2009 — President Barack Obama urged a restoration of “science to its rightful place.” It has now been four years for federal agencies to formulate policies to separate politics from science.
Jan. 20, 2009: President Obama issues his expectation. March 9: 2009. President Obama issues a memo calling for a plan within 120 days. April 27, 2009: The president reiterates his commitment to separating science from politics.
Dec. 17, 2010: The Office of Science and Technology Policy director issues a memo directing each agency to create a scientific integrity policy. August 2011: Agency plans are due. Few are submitted. March 30, 2012: Eighteen of 21 agencies complete their plans this summer (Chemical and Engineering News, April 2012).
Science has been taking a beating from politicians and lobbyists for a long time. It’s taken a whole presidential term for Obama’s call for respect for research to stagger to the point that federal policies are to be based on “the best and most unbiased scientific information.” All right! Hop to it.
And now: Many columnists use the new year as a reason to look back on the old year or ahead to the new. Can’t imagine I’d have anything to remind or predict. Instead I’ll just sincerely wish you all and each a healthy, happy, fulfilling 2013.
In some parts of our world, humans have learned how to play in the snow. A few other animals are thought to enjoy snow: otters, canids and birds, including ravens and crows. Polar bears? Weasels? How can one tell?
Field Notes: A holiday season for many humans, but in the Rockies it’s the beginning of difficult times for our wildlife. Well, not for every animal or bird, but for many.
Don’t forget to feed (and provide water for) the birds in your neighborhood, if you do feed. It’s easy to forget feathered creatures on busy days. Of course, give your pets some extra attention, too.
Common redpolls, rough-legged hawks, rosy finches and goldfinches are spending time at their favorite feeding stations. Evening grosbeaks are scattered about the valley, as are Clark’s nutcrackers and Stellar’s jays. Golden eagles are paired off, as are most bald eagles. Plenty of collared doves.
A smattering of northern flickers seem to be giving Jackson Hole a try this winter. Some of those sport odd plumages (Lisa and John Stout, west bank, Thursday).
Elk, moose and bison are still crossing highways; give them the right of way. Oh, and don’t forget to report your nature observations in all the hustle and bustle. Regards.
© Bert Raynes 2013