There’s little doubt – in my little mind, at least – that Congress has been the butt of jokes from the git-go. Cartoonists, essayists, academics, spurned politicians, pundits, comics, curmudgeons, the Mark Twains and Will Rogerses, on down to Letterman and Leno.
A lot of the humor and the point was, and is, to the effect that the country would be far better off should Congress actually, literally, do nothing. The evidence of the last year proves that thesis wrong. It’s not good for the country, and it’s not funny.
We all are supposed to be able to change all that by electing “better” office holders. We can, theoretically. We don’t, too often. We don’t vote, or we don’t investigate the candidates, or we go for the rascal we know. The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on political funding seems to assure that voters will go for the candidates with the most money for ads, rallies, and hot dogs and beer. I doubt it’s what the Founding Fathers truly envisioned, but at least five other guys in the country do.
... I was just about to write, “But, I digress,” but I have no idea where I was intending to go. If anywhere; I have been unable to come up with a theme for this column. More on shrews? Some folks have them in their homes regularly, to my surprise, but no obvious connections among ones I’ve heard about so far. More work for Nature Mapping.
I intend to write about thorium, but not today. In consideration was some new information about long-distance bird migrations. Bar-tailed godwits fly six days and nights nonstop, over oceans, mostly, some 6,200 miles round trip. If they can’t sustain flight, they drown. Mind boggling.
There’s Haiti. Nothing I can possibly add. Oh, maybe to point out that we have people in poverty here at home, millions without health care, who also should be remembered and cared for.
Perhaps you would have put up with my feelings about public school education. Perhaps not. As for Massachusetts: Look out, Sarah.
It’s not the first time I’ve been stuck for a column topic. Not by a long shot. Here’s one from The Curmudgeon Chronicles, a brave little book:
“I have no real topic for this week’s column. It’s due on New Year Day [sic] for heaven’s sake.”
Here’s something: William J. Luyten died in November 1994, at age 95. He was an astronomer internationally known for his work on stellar motion, the origin of the solar system, and dying white dwarfs – exotic stellar species of enormous density that give off little light. They are considered the final stage evolution of most stars.
Dr. Luyten once asked the National Science Foundation for funds to organize an international conference on white dwarfs. The request prompted a fiery letter from the Surgeon General, who wrote, “Human subjects cannot be used for experimentation, and federal money cannot be used for race discrimination.”
Field Notes: Well, it looks more like winter with a few more inches of snow. Still a long way from reducing the spring runoff deficit, but it should help.
The recent snowfall doesn’t seem to have induced birds to go to feeders. Bru Wicks sees one pine siskin in town, one in Spring Gulch. No doubt, a few siskins elsewhere but not close to usual numbers. Rosy finches are building up, however. Hunter Marrow and Tracy Blue are feeding up to 400; west of the airport. Several other flocks are in the valley (Bruce Hayse). Sally Haubert has no siskins, no finches, but all of two pine grosbeaks (in Kelly). A gray jay visited my feeder. Can’t remember the last time I had one. Bald eagles are spending time near their nests. Pamela Periconi is enjoying the antics of ruffed grouse in her neighborhood on the west bank. Boreal owls are hooting already. Bruce Hayse heard one in Cache Creek. Katy Duffy reports three calling owls in Yellowstone National Park.
Ahead of the recent snowfall, several moose headed down into Skyline ranch. A general movement? Come to that, have the pronghorn vamoosed?
A reminder: The potluck dinner to celebrate the first anniversary of Nature Mapping in Jackson Hole in the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Free, and everyone welcome to come. Friday, Jan. 29, 6-9 p.m. C’mon up.
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