LONGYOU CAVES, WASHINGTON AND CHERRIES, CATALINA ISLAND AND MORE: #21

LONGYOU CAVES

Amazing recent archeological find in China. Follow the link above to a Wiki that's startling in its brevity given the scope of the mystery. Check out the YouTube videos. It's as if the pyramids were built underground, the Egyptians left no record of their having been built, and there was no above ground evidence of their very existence. Huge amounts of stone had to have been excavated to create underground spaces covering over 300,000 sq ft, but there's no evidence of where the debris went. None of the local structures utilize matching stone. And, at only 2,000 years old (if current dating is correct), the idea that the meticulous Chinese bureaucracy failed to mention their construction truly boggles the mind.

WASHINGTON AND THE EVIDENCE

An archeologist poking around in the dirt basement of Mount Vernon found a couple of bottles of cherries. Still moisture inside. Smelled like cherry blossoms. Experts confirm that the bottles are probably 250 years old. The folks that run the museum that is George Washington's home on the Potomac will tell you that the story of a young George chopping down a cherry tree is pure myth. They lie. I think that the two bottles buried in the basement tell us that George's father was preserving the evidence should George ever change his story. It's the sort of thing that my dad would have done.

CATALINA ISLAND 

A century ago, 18 mule deer were imported to Catalina Island off the SoCal coast. They began doing what deer do. They mated and they grazed. Now there are a couple of thousand mule deer on the island. And now, plant and flower species unique to Catalina Island, found nowhere else in the world, are threatened with extinction by this non-native, invasive species of deer with no natural predators.

The folks responsible for managing Channel Islands National Park want to remove the deer from the environment that they are devastating. After study, they have decided to shoot the deer from helicopters. It may not the way that I would do it. I would favor a controlled hunt. But it has to be done and the Park Service made a choice. I can't wait to hear what the local community of environmentalists has to say. In a somewhat similar case in my home state of New Jersey, it was so hard to convince folks that thinning a herd in a state park was necessary that deer died of starvation before hunters were allowed to come in and thin the herd. Compassion can have unintended consequences.

SPEAKING OF COMPASSION

A doe-eyed child stares into the camera. The caption solicits money for food for starving Gaza children. By itself, this meme proves two things. Charities have learned to use research to maximize donations. And compassion is driven by the popularity of the cause. 

Studies show that when you put forward a picture of one child in distress and ask people how much they would donate, they come up with a number based on their own resources and the depth of their empathy. Add a second child, and the number diminishes. Show a camp full of children and the empathic impulse can be overwhelmed, leading to a feeling of helplessness. So to maximize donations, one good picture of one hungry child. 

80,000 children have died of starvation during the Syrian civil war in the last decade. 80,000. Children. Have. Starved. To. Death. Thousands more have succumbed to diseases like diphtheria. Thousands more from violence. Who marches for them, for the 600,000 dead Syrians in total, for the 4,000,000 Syrian refugees? Who marches for the 300,000 civilian dead in the Yemeni civil war? I am not pretending that the plight of civilians in Gaza is not dire. But I have to wonder why, over the past decade, Arab on Arab violence towards children is given a pass while the effects of the October 7 declaration of war by Hamas has caused international condemnation of Israel's response.

I suppose that the answer, if it's not outright antisemitism, is that Israel is viewed as a European construct, so the violence is white-on-color violence. But 60% of Israelis trace their heritage not to Europe but to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. And the non-Jewish Arab population since 1948, when 150,000 Arabs remained in Israel, has grown to over 2,000,000 Arabs who live, work, and vote there today. Hardly apartheid.

In my opinion, the reason for the misguided demonstrations is the rise of solipsistic thinking, the belief that truth is personal rather than revealed through discourse. The demonstrators do not want to hear that, while Israelis build shelters to protect civilians from rockets and mortars, Hamas builds tunnels under civilian homes, hospitals and schools to protect themselves with human shields. Evil.

We can only hope that we are witnessing the death throes of Iran as its internal and external critics take action against its barbarity and the barbarity of those groups that Iran sponsors - Hamas and Hezbollah and ISIS and Al Qaeda and the Houthis. Just imagine living with those folks as your neighbors. Imagine the constant shellings and the suicide bombers. Now imagine what the real justice would be in holding the real evil accountable while Israel struggles alone against a Caliphate that will, if it manages erase Israel, come swords bared for Europe and the Americas next.

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