Turning Over New Leaf

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Can You Identify This Little Character?

lli Pika

Can You Identify This Little Character?

Endemic to China, this little creature, approximately eight inches in length, is akin to both a rabbit and a panda. Very little is known about this species of animal. It was discovered in the early 1980s, and has rarely been spotted since that time. In fact, one had not been seen in twenty years.

Last summer, after two decades, the Ili pika was finally sighted and photographed (above) by its original discoverer, Wei-dong Li. The long-eared, teddy bear-like creature is not out of the woods yet. It is now an endangered species, since its numbers have dwindled from several thousand to rarely spotted in the last two decades. Its biggest problem is atmospheric pollution for which China is famous.  

I tried to find out as much as I could about the Ili pika, but most of the information available online emanates from far-left environmental websites using the animals’ demise as proof for global warming claims. From what I can see, however, it is neither West Virginia coal miners, nor the Canadian Keystone pipeline that threatens this species.
China has no interest in preventing extinctions by controlling the tremendous amount of pollution its government causes. The world must rely on “green energy” college graduate activists without jobs to promise votes to politicians who in turn waste time passing laws to oversee the use of your living room fireplace.

In the interim, as an animal lover, I remain saddened by the stupidity of mankind.

. . .

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Firenze is Art


A Repost from 2012

About ten years ago, my wife and I landed a brief teaching opportunity in Florence, Italy. We were jointly teaching a group of college students in a study abroad program. Of course, if one is in Europe for any length of time, it is impossible not to travel, and we led the students to as many sites as we could reasonably fit in and around Italy.

When we first arrived in Florence where we had not visited previously, we were anxious to see the sights. Our tastes were not always compatible, so we took the time to go our separate ways through the city and agreed to meet up at a certain spot before lunch. We decided to rendezvous at a small church close to an outdoor café we scouted out earlier.

Florence itself is “art.” It is a living museum. I am particularly fond of Renaissance architecture, so I wandered through the city's historical buildings all morning.

When it was time to meet my wife, I arrived at the Church of Ognissanti, the burial site of the Vespucci family. Carol had not yet arrived, so I walked through the church and its interior chapels. About fifteen minutes later, my wife caught up with me and began to relate enough stories about her morning in Florence to last a lifetime. We were extremely excited, and I was not paying attention to where I was going.

As we talked for a few minutes still exploring the church while conversing, we agreed that Florence has to be the most artistic city in all of Europe. I specifically remember my words: “You have to watch where you walk. You never know what you are standing on. It could be a famous monument.”

After uttering those lines, we looked down simultaneously and realized I was standing on the grave of Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as the famous Italian painter of the Early Renaissance, Sandro Botticelli.
Indeed, the city of Firenze is art. Visitors find masterpieces and historic monuments everywhere. But be careful where you walk!