Thursday, November 06, 2008

The News Just Keeps on Coming

The election is over. I have to admit I was a bit of a political junkie over the last several weeks. I found myself going to lots of different websites to load up on information. I listened to a bunch of podcasts from iTunes which center on various issues and aspects of the presidential campaign. The televisions in my house only receive three channels so I often stayed at work to watch cable networks as they examined and parsed every conceivable aspect of the upcoming vote.
There was definitely a point where I reached overdose status. The day before the election I settled into my chair and fired up the internet and found I did not have the energy to go to my bookmarked political sites. Before I even new what was happening I found myself on a sports website. It turns out obsessing on the presidential race had saved me from some emotional stress. How is that? I’m a Chiefs fan.
Like a Western European Hedgehog rousing itself after hibernating through a tough Finlandic winter I poked my head out of the political news cocoon I had surrounded myself with and found there was a whole world out there I had been oblivious to for some time.
I was going to use the more typical bear in my hibernation analogy, but one of the things I learned as I went whizzing around the non-politically interested internet was bears do not actually hibernate. Their metabolism does not sufficiently alter to qualify for true hibernation status. I am sure this will come as quite a surprise to Yogi and Boo Boo who will no longer need to swipe quite so many pic-a-nic baskets to sustain them through the Jellystone Park winters, much to Ranger Smith’s relief.
Here is one news item I had missed. The Swiss Constitution has been amended in order to protect a certain segment of the native population. This on the surface sounds very positive. It is almost always a good thing to have government stand up to protect the down trodden. The odd thing is this segment of the population can literally be trodden down. They were referring to plants.
The Swiss Parliament asked a panel of philosophers, lawyers, geneticists and theologians (and I am quoting from the Wall Street Journal online here) “to establish the meaning of flora’s dignity.”
I am a pacifist by nature, but if remaining neutral and never having to worry about running a war means you now have to spend your time creating panels to discuss the inalienable rights of begonias I may have to re-think some things.
Before going on I have to take a moment and try to picture a conference room full of philosophers, lawyers, geneticists and theologians. What a wacky place it must be. The philosophers are in their corner arguing if the Hemlock plant feels guilt for the murder of Socrates. The lawyers are considering a class action lawsuit against John Deere on behalf of wheat. The geneticists are bunched up discussing how to engineer a rose by another name which truly does smell as sweet. Finally, the theologians are debating if they had been pre-destined to be stuck in this room, if it was a matter of man’s free will or if it was a little known circle of Hell.
What sort of conundrum does this pose for Swiss vegetarians? Think of the poor potato. Peeled, boiled, mashed, and slathered in butter all for the personal amusement of some hominid who shamelessly uses the fact that he possess a few measly things the potato doesn’t (central nervous system, powers of cognition, and opposable thumbs) to subjugate the entire race of Solanum tuberosum (for those of you who do not remember you Linnaean nomenclature that’s the Latin name for potato).
Since Florida does not have to spend this November recounting ballots one community is looking to deal with another problem. Deltona, Florida is concerned about too many bugs. To deal with this they are going to bring in a large number of bats. According to Bat Conservation International, a charter member of the Association of Groups Nobody Ever Thought Existed But Do, bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour.
A neighboring city is now contemplating bringing a large number of owls to keep the bats from taking over their airspace. This is called the “Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” method of species control.
It truly is amazing what was going on in the world while I was spending all my time with Wolf Blitzer.

Christopher Pyle hopes the Swiss laws pertaining to plants are not retroactive. While visiting Hilterfingen Switzerland in 1982 he decapitated (a.k.a. picked) a flower.

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