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The government of Tanzania in East Africa is proposing that a two-lane truck route, the first of its kind, be built across the famed Serengeti plain, intersecting the annual migration route of the world’s largest concentration of wildlife, and exposing these increasingly rare animals to poachers. The reason is to create a direct route for the transport of rare earth minerals from the Lake Victoria area used in the production of cell phones for China. An alternative route has been proposed that would skirt the Serengeti, that is longer and therefore more expensive to build and operate. See this article for more information:

We twice have visited the Serengeti and it’s northern extension into Kenya, called the Masai Mara, which itself is threatened by growth of agriculture, poaching and over use for tourism. I wrote an essay on the magnificence of this vast, complex and truly unique wildlife habitat and on big game conservation issues in the area, called Masai Mara Hood Ornament, which was presented to the Chicago Literary Club. It can be found at Go to “Search.”

If you care about preserving dozens of species of big game in one of their largest and last natural habitats, contact the media, wildlife organizations and search the internet under “road through serengeti national park.”

Hodge, Samuel Johnson’s beloved cat, surveys London’s Gough Square, looking toward the home of his master, who would go to the market to buy oysters for him. Johnson, greatest wit of 18th century London, wrote the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language in this now restored house, which we visited a couple years ago when researching “Samuel Johnson and His Clubbable Friends” for my essay presented to the Chicago Literary Club (

“I heard the bells, on Christmas Day,
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

For the news about the TV news media, check out:

Yes, there is a way to extend the range of your Wi-Fi system, with a Wi-Fire antenna, that easily attaches to your laptop. Using my computer in the downstairs library and connecting to my wi-fi system based upstairs at the other ned of the house has been iffy, but with the $50 Wi-Fire antenna connected to the laptop I now get better. stronger reception. I recommend this little device, which sets up with some quick software and clips to the top of the computer screen or sets on a table, connected by USB. For info, go to

Except from article “Democracy: Made in China” by erudite author Steven Hill (

“Perhaps if their belief in democracy is strong and ecumenical enough, the youths of China will find a way to take their country down a path toward greater popular sovereignty.

“It remains to be seen how much of the “new China” will continue to emerge as this drama plays out, but it’s very likely that any Chinese democracy will have its own unique characteristics; it is unlikely to be an exact copy of the Western model, and it will take its time arriving. China is both a modern state and an ancient civilization that, after all, has shown an almost pathological degree of patience and forbearance.

“This is the nation where Zhou Enlai, the legendary prime minister under Mao, was asked what he thought of the French Revolution and is said to have replied: “It’s too early to tell.”

“The same could be said for the prospects of representative democracy in China.”

The latest round of winners in this university cause-related public relations competition appear here:

It’s been exactly a decade since the outmoded Electoral College system of electing our Presidents, with the aid of the Supreme Court, handed the Presidency of the U.S. to a man who lost the popular vote in the nation by the population of Milwaukee. It was a close election all right, and the finger on the scale of history tipped the balance away from the people’s choice.

It’s happened three times before in our history, and it will happen again, and again, until the Electoral College is eliminated or marginalized. The electoral college was a political compromise made in the founding days of the republic, when it was feared that the common man, in the days before mass media, could not know enough about the candidates to make an informed choice. So now, in all but two states, electors unknown to the people cast all of each state’s electoral votes for the winner of the popular votes in that state, throwing out all votes cast for the opposition, and in effect dumbing down the national electoral votes, so they do not necessarily reflect the overall popular will. How dumb is that?

It’s CBS Sunday Morning, with no close second in my book. Great relevant variety, high production values, laughs, tears and learning something — what more could one want over lazy Sunday coffee, with the snow blowing outside and the cats hovering around the couch?

Try a sample:

Chongqing, the world’s largest municipal area with a population approaching 34 million has let a contract under its Safe City program to install 500,000 video surveillance devices. 1984 is coming to Chongqing, as one of China’s leading manufacturing hubs (cars, computers, defense) catches up to the future. However, with its dense air pollution, which we experienced in October, it may take even more cameras to see all that is going on in this sprawling population center.

December 2010

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