Sunday, August 31, 2008


Hello everyone,

It's not often that you can get a twofer, that is two fer the price of one.  That is, except when Billy Mays screams into your TV and offers to send you not just 25 but 50 of the whatever he's selling that day...  But here's a real twofer.

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has decided that is no longer satisfactory for the Guards regiment at Buckingham Palace, London, to wear the same bearskin hats they have worn since Wellington beat Napoleon's French Imperial Guards at the 1815 Battle of Waterloo.

Robbie LeBlance, spokeman for PETA, says that their campaign against the traditional black bearskin hats, "is hugely significant for our campaign to save North American bears."  At their upcoming meeting with Baroness Taylor, the Minister for Defense Procurement, LeBlanc states, "If she has a heart and can see the PR nightmare of the MoD continuing to support the Canadian bear slaughter, she can wield her influence and push the MoD to scrap the bearskin caps sooner rather than later."

It should be noted that 50-100 new bearskin caps are needed each year and it takes one bear's skin to make one cap.  There are an estimated 600,000 black bears living in North America, a number thought to have fallen from two million.  How the two million estimate was produced is questionable.  Perhaps the bears were asked...

Now the good part of the twofer.  Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska and the state legislature are appealing the Department of Interior's declaration that Polar Bears are a threatened species, deserving extra protection.  In fact, Governor Palin, the DELIGHTFUL new VP running mate for John McCain,  has pointed out that polar bears represent a direct threat to the human population living near their habitat, which is the North Slope of her state.  

In Alaska, PETA means People for the Ethical Treatment of Alaskans, in this case allowing them to protect themselves from the largest predator on land.  Alaska wants the Interior Department to lift the limits on killing predatory polar bears which threaten humans.
Who, me?

So here's the deal:  we support PETA England in their desire to cease using black bears for the traditional bearskin hats and we switch to polar bear fur, thus supporting the Alaskan PETA.  Besides, since the polar bear is about three times as large as the black bear, we only need to use the skins of 16 - 33 polar bears each year, vice the 50 - 100 black bears.  It's a win -win!

This politics of compromise stuff is easier than it looks.  Try to find you own twofer, and propose it to our ever-vigilant Congress, whose latest approval rating has peaked at 9 %.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Berlin and Georgia

Dear Readers,
I am today officially announcing that I will no longer commit to posting on this blog every Friday.  However, I will also commit to not dropping off the face of the earth, as some of my blogging friends have done recently.

I do have something to say today concerning last Wednesday, 13 August.  On that day, 47 years ago, the Communists erected the Wall in Berlin, splitting families who were apart that day and destroying the economy of half of one of the world's great cities.

In the summer of 1964, a West Point classmate and I visited Berlin after our summer duties with US Troops in Germany.  With the Wall only three years old, and still quite crude, we sat at an outdoor cafe and watched an elderly woman on the street corner look at her watch and look through binoculars, across the Wall.  Soon, an elderly man, several blocks into East Berlin, leaned out of his window, with binoculars, and waved at his wife.  The meaning of Freedom has never been made clearer to me.

When I arrived in Berlin as a new second lieutenant in December 1966, I again visited the Wall and wrote the following poem, published in the Berlin Observer, the local command newspaper, and picked up in most of the Berlin press.  

"Freedom's Outpost" is its name
And concrete blocks its living shame 
But yet this half stands tall.
For here have many people died
While trying to regain hope and pride
By traversing the Wall. 

The enemy has tried to prove
A city cannot live by love
From those in Freedom's lands.
And so they halted trucks and trains,
But Liberty relied on planes -
And Free Berlin still stands.

The other side's a different place
Where sentry dogs walk silent pace
Among the towers and wire.
Where escapees are shot on sight,
And yet they try, both day and night,
Rekindling Freedom's fire.

So we who guard the precious light
Commit ourselves to keep it bright,
Remembering those who fall;
For someday this will no more be
The city split by tyranny,
The city with a Wall...

The Wall came down on 9 November 1989, as many of you remember.  But it had been a tough and bloody 28 years for the people of Berlin.

In 1994, when President Clinton retired the Berlin Brigade colors, I was in London, retired from the military for two years and working as an investment banker.  The Army tracked me down, and the Berlin Observer asked if my poem of 28 years earlier could be read at the ceremony.  Although I could not attend the ceremony, I was honored to consent.

Today, the Russians are back at their old tricks again, claiming "breakaway provinces" never actually belonged to the little country of Georgia in the first place.  Can it be long before they once again start building walls?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another Missed Post...

Dear Readers,

Yes, I have once again missed my usual Friday posting date and have heard from several of you about just that event.  Here are the lame excuses.

First, unlike all the women in my family, I have NOT been reading the book shown above.  As far as I have been able to figure out, Stephanie Meyer is a female astronomer whose first three books (Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse) concerned her educational love of the universe and how celestial things work.  Then, for reasons unknown to me, she altered her book style on the heavens to write her latest, Breaking Down, which apparently deals with either automotive problems or is her attempt to enter the world of psychiatry in which her credentials are suspect.

In either case, she once again has tried to cause all productivity to cease in my home  as shown below.  However, Ms. Meyer has failed this time because her book was released just in time for the Huge, Unscheduled, Best -Ever, Carlson Family Reunion!  Well, most of the Reunion was previously scheduled, but parts were not scheduled until the last possible minute...  This is an inside joke.

At any rate, we had all the kids in one place at one time for the first time in years!  And, when the Reunion ended at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, we managed to get this picture of most of the grandkids and the proud Papa and Granny.

High Ground, indeed!