Monday, October 1

In a time of war

"Pundita, dear, I think I can say with assurance that you are the only blogger who would find in the life of a dead rodent directions for US defense policy. I can't recall at this date when it struck me that you weren't so much writing about foreign policy as doing it. Perhaps it was sometime between your investigation of China pig disease and your railing about the state's slowness to react to Katrina.

Whether running a psychological operation against Burma's dictator or needling India's government, you often act as well as observe. That does not exactly make you an analyst. Your blog is very curious and mysterious, but then so are you.
Boris in Jackson Heights"

Dear Boris:
China pig illness. Remember it was never established whether it was actually a disease; it could have been a case of poisoning. But yes, Pundita went into action because the news about the illness was threatening to create a worldwide panic. The pig "disease" story was coming on top of fears about a deadly H5N1 pandemic.

The vaccine researcher pushing the story and passing along the scariest rumors was way out of line. So, with the help of readers who helped in the investigation, Pundita put him back in line and sent a strong warning to China's government -- and to any other source fiddling around with the rumors coming out of China.

One can't really write "about" foreign policy in a time of war. One is engaged, whether one wants to be or not. I might carry that to lengths at times.

I don't think meerkats are rodents, but then I would have to look it up. All I know is that in the very harsh environment of the Kalahari they are hunters and warriors. Meerkat tribes are almost perpetually at war over land rights. Yes, there are parallels to be found for human diplomatic relations in a time of war.

However, Flower at the time of her death garnered more interest worldwide than many statesmen, rock stars and sports figures. She was worthy of a tribute.
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For a beautiful picture of Flower, go here. Now isn't that a face fit for a memorial coin? The odd thing around her neck is a radio collar.

I've learned that Flower died in February of this year; at least that was when the show's executive producer notified a meerkat fan club about her death. I learned of her death only on Friday, when Meerkat Manor in the US broadcast the news. The producer wrote that Flower lived longer than most meerkats.

I've also checked the Wikipedia article on meerkats. They are members of the mongoose family, not rodents. The article has this interesting note:
Meerkats are the first non-human mammal species seen actively teaching their young. Young of most species learn solely by observing adults. For example, meerkat adults teach their pups how to eat a venomous scorpion: they will remove the stinger and help the pup learn how to handle the creature.

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