Monthly Archives: August 2011
“It has occurred to me that social economists could learn something about measuring hard times by counting the ducks and geese surviving on state university ponds and the squirrel population in campus trees.”
- Tony Hillerman, Seldom Disappointed
In Hillerman’s very poor college days he had a friend and roommate who made squirrel stew on Sundays when they did not receive food from their dishwashing job. My first thought was, would I eat a squirrel? While I feel we eat far too much meat in our society, I do like to eat meat. I try to eat meat only once a day, I keep the serving size small, I buy organic free-range. So where do squirrels fit in? Squirrels are wild. I have no qualms about eating wild meat provided it is hunted in a sustainable way. Squirrels are a long way from endangered, and I think if given the opportunity I would give squirrel a try.
In england the burgeoning population of gray squirrels (introduced from North America) is threatening the native population of red squirrels (think Beatrix Potter). The governments solution is to cull the gray squirrels. Regardless of this being an ethical solution to the problem, it is certainly a good idea not to simply throw the dead squirrels away, but to eat the meat, and use the fur. The squirrel market is slowly growing in England, and I have to wonder how long before it starts popping up here.
For a basic overview of squirrels as food, check out this
In an open letter similar to Warren Buffet’s a group of wealthy French executives said said: “We, the presidents and leaders of industry, businessmen and women, bankers and wealthy citizens would like the richest people to have to pay a ‘special contribution’.”
The French government has acted on this idea as part of a package to cut the deficit, and introduced a new tax of 3% on anual income of 500,000 euros ($721,000).
In a strong article in the NY Times, billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffet writes that he and his friends “have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” Therefore he says, increase taxes for rich, and even more for the mega-rich!
The article was inspired by the upcoming work of twelve members of congress, who are to decide how to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Buffet says the place to start is taxing the wealthy. The article is clean, crisp, and shows an easy way to approach a problem that is anything but simple. The full article can be read here: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich
Hillerman introduces his Catholicism early in his book; it was an important part of his life from childhood to when he wrote the book. His primary early learning of Christianity came from Father Bernard, the Priest of the one church in the tiny town of Sacred Heart, Oklahoma. These days there has been lots of press about Creationism, and the loud movement that supports it. As a Christian myself, I have at times been asked questions such as: “So you think the Earth was built in seven days?” or “Isn’t the Bible just a big lie since it starts out with such an obviously wrong account of creation?” I have always felt that my answers were a hastily put together hodge podge of not all that coherent claptrap. Hillerman’s Father Bernard however provides a coherent answer (to the inquisitive sixth grader Hillerman was) on the question:
“Darwin’s theories, said he, didn’t conflict with our biblical Genesis stories because we understood that in these God taught in poetic metaphor. The biblical “days” of creation represented eons of time. Humanity separated us from the other primates when God touched the first of us with self-knowledge of Him and of life, death, good, and evil. The evolution theory was simply a brilliant scientist’s attempt to help us understand the dazzling complexity of God’s creation – from the amazing strength of a grasshopper’s legs to the way our brains translated the signals delivered by our optic nerves.”
Father Bernard continues with a primer on the Gospels and the foundation of Christianity:
“He made the Gospels equally simple. Christ tried to teach us that happiness lay in helping others, selfishness was the road to damnation. His bottom line always boiled down to God loves us. He gave us free will, permission to go to hell if we wanted, rules to follow if we preferred both a happy life and heaven, and a conscience to advise us along the way.”
Nothing as complex as Christianity, or a persons faith, can be encompassed by so short a passage, but I find it helpful to try on sentences like these. They help me see the foundations of my beliefs, and they help me in casual conversations with people who don’t know anything about my faith.