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If you check on Amazon to see about buying a copy of my wonderful new book of essays on all sorts of things, ranging from a cheetah on our Landcruiser hood, to a super french fry museum in Bruges, to the story behind Todd Lincoln becoming America’s greatest industrialist, you may find that the prices look high. But, just go to the offerings in small type and you will find lower prices for the softbound and hardback editions.

My new book  — Apple Pressings — of essays presented before the Chicago Literary Club is now available for ordering, in a paperbound edition. Hardcover coming soon. To order, go to Amazon and then Books; the title is Apple Pressings.  For an even better buy, go the Barnes and Noble’s website, and search for Apple Pressings.

If you are a curious person like me, you may enjoy what Samuel Johnson called these “loose sallies of the mind.” Come with me to find out about the “Masai Mara Hood Ornament” we met in deepest Kenya, or the two billion candlepower beacon that once guided aircraft to Chicago, or what is going on with the Electoral College that really elects our Presidents, or how Toyota beat out VW and Detroit in the small car competition, or how Abraham Lincoln’s son became the top corporate magnate of his era, or what really went on in Vietnam in 1968, or the ins and outs of spokesmanship in “Smoke Smoke,” or how we went off the deep end with open offices, or an insider’s relationship with Dick McDonald who designed the Golden Arches, or how the ubiquitous french fry became a global cultural symbol, or what it was like to do public relations during the growth explosion of one of the greatest brands of all time.




Better known as Mount Kenya, it is the highest mountain in Africa. We camped at the base, on the equater, several years ago, and took this photo of a recumbent lion as our safari moved on.

Last night governor Perry reiterated his belief that the “science is unsettled” on whether man’s carbon emissions is the primary cause of climate change, and whether we should change our economies on that basis. He raised the example of how Galileo was considered crazy in believing the world is round by the preponderance of scientists in his time.

In our time, today, the preponderance of science is on the side that mankind has accelerated potentially devastating climate change through our increase in modern carbon emissions related to burning fossil fuel. Yet there os also a historical perspective that suggests that monumental natural climate change has taken place several times before, but that the consequence to mankind is now greater because of the size and dispersal of our human population.

For example, after hurricane Katrina, some said that the answer was not to rebuild New Orleans in its aftermath, as has been done, but to rebuild a “new” New Orleans at another location that is not in the natural path of catastrophic storms.

I’d like to propose, not as a scientist, but from the perspective of a thinking person, that mankind should be taking a hedged approach to climate change: assume that to some extent that it is inevitable, but also assume that mankind should reduce carbon emissions that can only make climate change worse. For example, perhaps we should begin moving populations inland and to higher ground, at the same time we strive to reduce use of fossil fuels and develop alternative energy sources. Perhaps what we need to do is BOTH evolve our cultural footprint on this world and change our intensity of use and sources of natural energy.

Here’s a segment of my 2007 essay, “The Masai Mara Hood Ornament,” which can be found at, that reports one scientist’s expert opinion on this issue:

“The guest speaker was Richard Leakey, the renowned paleoanthropoligist, former director of the National Museum of Kenya and of the Kenya Wildlife Service. Yes, he is the 64-year-old inheritor of the legacy of famed fossil hunters Louis and Mary Leakey. Richard has devoted his life, as did his parents, to helping conserve the habitats of wild species in Africa and elsewhere.

“He shared an increasingly familiar concern when he said, “I think the most threatening crisis facing us and our descendants is climate change. No single thing is going to do more damage or wreak more havoc than the climate change cycle we are now entering on.”

“He observed that many byproducts of human activities, such as carbon spewing into the atmosphere, have a negative impact. But he went on to share his view that the human race, our very species, might not be what and where we are today but for naturally caused climate change, in earlier prehistoric times.

“The first of such changes was 2.6 million years ago, when the response to fairly rapid desiccation or drought was the development of the earliest record of technology – the first time primates started to use sharp edges to access a meat diet.
The second sweep of climate change took place in Africa about 1.8 million years ago, when early humans first left Africa, and we began to find their fossils in parts of Europe and later in Asia.

“Some of you may have participated in the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project, a landmark DNA study of the human journey out of Africa to populate the world. Vicki and I sent our DNA samples in, and found the portions of Africa from whence our earliest descendants moved on into Europe.

“The last major pre-historic climate change, and one that still affects us, occurred just 8 or 9 thousand years ago, when humans around the world underwent pressures from desiccation that led to the domestication of plants and animals.
Leakey concludes, “Had there not been such climate change in three separate episodes, we probably would not be where we are today, as a species.”

“The difference is that in previous times there were relatively few people to be effected by climate change, but today it can affect an enormous population – some 6 to 8 billion people across the continents. He believes that today there are far too many people on the planet to absorb such change, particularly if we go through a period of years when rainfall patterns change dramatically, mean temperatures rise, and most significantly, ocean levels also begin to rise.”

Following from MSN Autos, “World’s Bravest Trucks.” We’ve spent a lot of time in Land Cruisers in the Masai Mara of Kenya and in the Serengeti, including escaping from a charging elephant and having an enormous cheetah jump up onto our hood (you can see the photo of that in my essay, “The Masai Mara Hood Ornament,” at, then look up my name under “Roll of Members.”

Toyota Land Cruiser
In what was the least-desirable “celebrity” endorsement ever, a tape emerged shortly after the September 11 attacks showing Osama bin Laden and the rest of the al-Qaeda hierarchy standing in the Afghani desert flanked by a fleet of Land Cruisers. Toyota obviously had no interest in putting bin Laden in a Super Bowl ad. The official line was that “it is not our proudest product placement,” but a Toyota spokesman added, “It shows that the Taliban are looking for the same qualities as any truck buyer: durability and reliability.”

Despite the vehicle’s legendary off-roading ability — fans call it the Land Crusher, after all — the vehicle’s move from utilitarian rock crawler to luxurious, tech-laden Range Rover fighter has brought controversy for the UN and aid organizations: At nearly 70 grand, the current Land Cruiser is by no means cheap.

Those who feel the contemporary 200-series Land Cruiser is too grandiose can head to Toyota of Gibraltar for a brand-new 70-series. That’s Toyota-speak for the more-spartan Cruiser that has been around since 1984. In the past quarter-century, changes have been minimal: You can order yours with the understressed 4.2-liter inline-six diesel introduced in 1990 that develops 129 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. Toyota of Gib will be happy to supply you with just about any form of Land Cruiser you can conceive, from stock station wagon or pickup to ambulance, fire truck, or even mobile laboratory.

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.”

January 2023

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