...no champagne!...got milk?

a poet's hand...

...my 'mouse-pad' is a magazine with a photograph of Maya Angelou on the cover. I wonder where we would be (I don't imagine I would have survived...) without the poets? Without the artists? Without the Creation, Big Bang, Mystery, Whatever you choose to call IT? And I am thankful, al hamdullilah.

Lest I forget...

...the haunting words of the Lebanese/American poet Kahlil Gibran:

'No leaf falls without the silent knowledge of the entire tree.'

(excerpt from THE PROPHET, 1923)

Lest we forget...

Add Up the Damage

by BOB HERBERT, Op-Ed Columnist
Published: December 29, 2008

Does anyone know where George W. Bush is?

You don’t hear much from him anymore. The last image most of us remember is of the president ducking a pair of size 10s that were hurled at him in Baghdad.

We’re still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel is thrashing the Palestinians in Gaza. And the U.S. economy is about as vibrant as the 0-16 Detroit Lions.

But hardly a peep have we heard from George, the 43rd.

When Mr. Bush officially takes his leave in three weeks (in reality, he checked out long ago), most Americans will be content to sigh good riddance. I disagree. I don’t think he should be allowed to slip quietly out of town. There should be a great hue and cry — a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speeches — over the damage he’s done to this country.

This is the man who gave us the war in Iraq and Guantánamo and torture and rendition; who turned the Clinton economy and the budget surplus into fool’s gold; who dithered while New Orleans drowned; who trampled our civil liberties at home and ruined our reputation abroad; who let Dick Cheney run hog wild and thought Brownie was doing a heckuva job.

The Bush administration specialized in deceit. How else could you get the public (and a feckless Congress) to go along with an invasion of Iraq as an absolutely essential response to the Sept. 11 attacks, when Iraq had had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks?

Exploiting the public’s understandable fears, Mr. Bush made it sound as if Iraq was about to nuke us: “We cannot wait,” he said, “for the final proof — the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

He then set the blaze that has continued to rage for nearly six years, consuming more than 4,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. (A car bomb over the weekend killed two dozen more Iraqis, many of them religious pilgrims.) The financial cost to the U.S. will eventually reach $3 trillion or more, according to the Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz.

A year into the war Mr. Bush was cracking jokes about it at the annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association. He displayed a series of photos that showed him searching the Oval Office, peering behind curtains and looking under the furniture. A mock caption had Mr. Bush saying: “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.”

And then there’s the Bush economy, another disaster, a trapdoor through which middle-class Americans can plunge toward the bracing experiences normally reserved for the poor and the destitute.

Mr. Bush traveled the country in the early days of his presidency, promoting his tax cut plans as hugely beneficial to small-business people and families of modest means. This was more deceit. The tax cuts would go overwhelmingly to the very rich.

The president would give the wealthy and the powerful virtually everything they wanted. He would throw sand into the regulatory apparatus and help foster the most extreme income disparities since the years leading up to the Great Depression. Once again he was lighting a fire. This time the flames would engulf the economy and, as with Iraq, bring catastrophe.

If the U.S. were a product line, it would be seen now as deeply damaged goods, subject to recall.

There seemed to be no end to Mr. Bush’s talent for destruction. He tried to hand the piggy bank known as Social Security over to the marauders of the financial sector, but saner heads prevailed.

In New Orleans, the president failed to intervene swiftly and decisively to aid the tens of thousands of poor people who were very publicly suffering and, in many cases, dying. He then compounded this colossal failure of leadership by traveling to New Orleans and promising, in a dramatic, floodlit appearance, to spare no effort in rebuilding the flood-torn region and the wrecked lives of the victims.

He went further, vowing to confront the issue of poverty in America “with bold action.”

It was all nonsense, of course. He did nothing of the kind.

The catalog of his transgressions against the nation’s interests — sins of commission and omission — would keep Mr. Bush in a confessional for the rest of his life. Don’t hold your breath. He’s hardly the contrite sort.

He told ABC’s Charlie Gibson: “I don’t spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don’t worry about long-term history, either, since I’m not going to be around to read it.”

The president chuckled, thinking — as he did when he made his jokes about the missing weapons of mass destruction — that there was something funny going on.


add '-gatherer' to hunter and you get...

...Iferouane! (owned by Mimi Cary Drake in CA). I asked Mimi about Mr. Lincoln...apparently it was the cover of the new issue of History Magazine. Unread. Just out of the mailbox.

The Kel Tamashek...

...through the eyes of Edmund Bernus, Emeritus Research Director at the IRD (formerly Orstom). Edmond Bernus (1929-2004) conducted research on the Tuareg/Tamasheq and was one of the best specialists on this people...more



...ak Domiko (Sheshonq Idiiyat-es-Sahel X Afsoon Idiiyat-es-Sahel), bred by Doug Koger (Domiko Sighthounds, Miami, FL). T'naasheet (now four and a half months old...thanks Ali for the correction!) is the direct maternal descendant of my first taidit Al-Hara's Tarada (daughter of Gabriele Meissen's Al-Hara's Jaba, al hamdullilah). Tarada whelped only one litter of which only her daughters Jana and Chenna (X Safouan) bred forward (of the taidit). Jana's daughter Iman is the dam of T'naasheet's dam Afsoon, the result of a maternal half-brother/sister mating (Kaisoon Al-Ifriqiya [Safouan Al-Ifriqiya X Jana] X Iman Al-Ifriqiya [Kel Tarbanassen Firhoun X Jana]). I am very grateful to Doug for breeding Afsoon to Sheshonq. So far, T'naasheet reminds very much, in both type and character, of her grand-dam Iman. Al hamdullilah.

I know its Christmas...but I still have to blog!

...from top: Aisinda (desert-bred), Ataram, then his sister Tezerift (Afelahlah X Tiwul), Azil (Aslam X Semteende) and Sikasso (Fasiqqi X Imouyene). Al hamdullilah.

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays and that there is somewhere on this planet more peace and humanity, Insh'Allah.


bitches with whelps get no holidays...

NYTimes Op-Ed piece today...

Published: December 23, 2008
San Francisco

Not-So-Lonely Planet

They came for the Moon, and for the first three orbits it was to the Moon that the astronauts of Apollo 8 devoted their attention. Only on their fourth time round did they lift their eyes to see their home world, rising silently above the Moon’s desert plains, blue and white and beautiful. When, later on that Christmas Eve in 1968, they read the opening lines of Genesis on live television, they did it with a sense of the heavens and the Earth, of the form and the void, enriched by the wonder they had seen rising into the Moon’s black sky.

The photograph of that earthrise by the astronaut Bill Anders forms part of the Apollo program’s enduring legacy — eclipsing, in many memories, any discoveries about the Moon or renewed sense of national pride. It and other pictures looking back at the Earth provided a new perspective on the thing that all humanity shares. As Robert Poole documents in his history, “Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth,” that perspective had deep cultural effects, notably in the emotional resonance it offered the growing environmental movement. Seen from the Moon, the Earth seemed so small, so isolated, so terribly fragile.

It takes nothing from the beauty and power of the image, though, to point out that it was the photographer, far more than its subject, who was isolated, and that the fragility is an illusion. The planet Earth is a remarkably robust thing, and this strength flows from its ancient and intimate connection to the cosmos beyond. To see the photo this way does not undermine its environmental relevance — but it does recast it.

That the Earth is small is undeniable. If the inner solar system were the size of the United States, the Earth would be the size of a football field; if the distance to the center of the galaxy were a mile, the Earth would be less than an atom. But if the “Earthrise” photo could have captured our planet in the dimension of time instead of space, things would look different. In its duration, as opposed to its diameter, the Earth demands to be measured on a cosmic scale. At more than four billion years old, it stretches a third of the way across the history of the universe, a third of the way back to the Big Bang itself. Many of the stars you can see on a clear winter’s night are younger than the planet beneath your feet.

Mere persistence is not, in itself, that great a feat. The barren rocks of the Moon have persisted almost as long. But the Earth has not merely endured; it has lived. For almost 90 percent of its history the planet has been inhabited, and shaped by life. The biological mechanisms that first operated in the dawn of life animate the creatures of the Earth to this day, forming an unbroken chain at least 3.8 billion years long.

This unfailing, uninterrupted life demonstrates that the planet is far from fragile. The living Earth is tough on scales it is hard to credit. Life has watched continents crash together and tear themselves apart; skies glowing like bright coals; tropical seas frozen into stillness: it has endured. Slaked in radiation from nearby supernovae, pummeled by asteroids, it has barely faltered and never stopped. Our civilization may be — is — out of balance with its environment; current human ways of life are frighteningly precarious. But to read the fragility of our way of life onto life itself is foolish.

Humans can kill species and diminish ecosystems. Such vandalism poses real dangers to its perpetrators, since human civilization relies on the services some of these ecosystems provide. But at the scale of the planet’s life taken as a whole it is penny-ante stuff. Humanity poses no existential risk to life on Earth, and nor will anything else for hundreds of millions of years. Rich, varied, ever changing — the Earth is all of these. Fragile it is not.

Why so robust? The reason rests in the second great misconception: that the Earth is isolated. This is true only if your sense of connection depends on physical matter moving from place to place. The dust and rocks that rain down from space are indeed the merest spattering, even if some of the larger rocks occasionally cause a little dinosaur-killing discomfort; the traces of gas blown off the top of the atmosphere are truly negligible. Matter trickles in, whispers out. But matter is not everything.

An unending spate of pure luminous energy pours from the Sun in all directions. Eight minutes downstream at the speed of light, part of this extraordinary flux crashes down on the Earth in a 170,000-trillion-watt torrent. Some of it splashes back into space; Major Anders’s “Earthrise” captures that reflected light in the brilliant white of clouds and polar ice. Most, though, is absorbed; this is the energy that drives the winds, makes the waves and currents flow, heats the rocks and warms the sky. The Sun’s energy flows through the earth system and out the other side, ebbing back into the coldness of space as a tide of infrared radiation.

A very small fraction of this energy is caught, not by rock and wind and water, but by life. That fraction of a percent captured by plants and other photosynthetic organisms flows into and through the food webs of the world. It is this sunlight, endlessly refreshed, that allows the grass to grow, the birds to sing — and you to live. The Sun’s energy flows through your breakfast cereal, your morning coffee, your veins and your mind. It animates you as it has animated almost all the Earth’s life for billions of years.

The science of thermodynamics tells us that closed systems tend toward equilibrium, toward dullness, toward entropy. If the Earth were truly as isolated as it looks, that unavoidable tendency would be the lot of life. But the Earth is as open as the sky. Energy from elsewhere floods through it, creating endless chances for complexity and improbability, washing the world’s entropy back into space. The flow of energy that unites almost every living creature on the planet is the same flow that connects our environment to the universe beyond.

For this flow to work, the energy must get out as well as get in. If Major Anders had had a camera working in the infrared, that departing energy would have shown up as a warm glow on the night side of the planet. Forty years on, that glow has dimmed a little; less energy is getting out. By thickening the skies with carbon dioxide, we are blocking the energy’s flow, and allowing a buildup of heat here at the surface of the Earth. This greenhouse warming is small beer in any cosmic sense. It poses no threat to the continuation of life on Earth, but it does pose a threat to tens of millions of people, and will do so for generations to come.

Happily, to see the problem of global warming in terms of this flow of energy is to see its solution. By putting a little of the cosmic energy to use — by developing wind power, appropriate energy crops, hydropower and, most promising of all, solar power — we could do away with the need for that sky-thickening carbon dioxide. Other flows of energy could help too — flows of heat from the depths of the Earth and of radiation bequeathed to us in the uranium of dead stars. But it is solar energy, indirectly or directly, that will dominate the picture, simply because of its abundance. The Sun delivers more energy to the Earth in an hour than humanity uses in a year.

To substitute these flows for the fossil fuels poised to despoil our planet and also run out on us — worst of both worlds — is an epic task. But the message that frames all the other messages of “Earthrise” is that we can rise to epic tasks. Look where the photo was taken. “If we can put a man on the Moon ...” quickly became shorthand for society’s failure to achieve goals that seemed far simpler. But still: we put a man on the Moon, and that does say something. Efforts on a similar scale aimed at harvesting the energy flowing about us are entirely appropriate, and could make things a great deal better. We cannot solve all problems; some climate change is inevitable. But catastrophe is not.

“Earthrise” showed us where we are, what we can do and what we share. It showed us who we are, together; the people of a tough, long-lasting world, shot through with the light of a continuous creation.

Oliver Morton, the author of “Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination and the Birth of a World,” and, most recently, “Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet,” is the chief news and features editor of the journal Nature.


my thoughts this morning...

Earths turn,
Winds burnish, howl.
I leave my tent to
Sunrise! warming,
My traces, fresh
In the new dust.

In this madness
I seek reasons;
See only dogs,
A grey horse, dancing.

Daoud Abdullah Abdullah
Monday, the 24th day of Thw al-Hijjah, 1429 A.H. (Islaamic Calendar)
The Islaamic Calendar started in the moon year in which the prophet Mohammed, salallahu allayhi wa salaam (may peace be upon him, in Arabic), immigrated from Makkah to Madinah.


Tamasheq poem...

Only God possesses he who possesses us…
In the moonlight which makes mountains glow,
Astride his camel, clothed in a Tamaskanout,
He headed toward Tighemar to watch over
His wife Meloulan.

In the moonlight as you play your imzad,
Your fingers never tiring,
May you be able to express yourself eternally,
May you live until the day
You will be surrounded by the dueling poetry
Improvised by the noble nomads
With whom I find myself.

...from a song off the CD Ikewan, Tuareg Memories, a haunting collection of traditional Tamasheq music...can be found at Amazon.com

from the top...

...eight month old Hawa (Tamgak X Tiwul), sleeping puppies, a puppy pulling a thorn out of his paw, alerted puppies!, and thirteen month old Raba (Idi Illaman Afelahlah X Tiwul). Al hamdullilah.

the land and sky feed the soul...

two nice photos...

...the first from Carlos in Mexico City of Yubai (Aslam X Semteende) playing with Carlos's Greyhound Nacho; the second of Yubai's sister Tawzalt playing with Azelouan (Tombouktou's Quloud [Kusaylah X T.' Nahalet] X We Wille Dari), both owned by Brian Reiter who lives in DC and whose blog is listed in my blog list: Sahel Hound. Again, thank you to the owners for permission to use the images.

a new photo of Tagola...

...sent to me by her owner Christiane Thier-Rostaing (Ag Amaiass Azawakh, Germany). Tagola was one of my very favorites of the taidit brought back from the Sahel by the members of the 2007 expedition. Thanks to Christiane for her permission to publish the photo.

our friends Jess and Brett...

...have little Toumlilt (feminine for 'white' in Tamasheq, Fasiqqi X Tiraout). Apparently she is enjoying her new home! Al hamdullilah. They told me she was 'feisty". They have an interesting blog...you can find the link in my blog list (Demon Puppy, etc).


a few more...

moe puppy pics...

...from top: Amaray (Fasiqqi X Tawinak), Bomboukou (Fasiqqi X Tiraout), who knows!, Tiinaade (Fasiqqi X Tiraout) and T'naasheet (Sheshonq x Afsoon, bred by Doug Koger, Domiko Sighthounds, FL...now several months old) with the puppies. Al hamdullilah.



...but wind so bad today its a miracle the pictures made it through the ether...will caption later...thanks out to Brian for explaining to me how to use the keypad instead of the mouse for cropping, etc. I was getting really frustrated with the BAD MOUSE thing. Turned out it was my ignorance. So the mouse is off the hook. For the moment.