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August 2, 2011 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Weird summer stories. Reality? Really?

Is is any wonder the rest of the world thinks the United States is crazy?  There’s endless supply of nutty stories and events. Plead heat exhaustion?

How odd is it:  West Texas has been scorched by twin disasters of wildfires and drought. Yet a new threat looms: a small lizard, “Dunes Sagebrush Lizard“, which eats the Shinnery Oak shrub that grows only in the Permian Basin of West Texas and parts of New Mexico. Conservationists want this lizard placed on the endangered species list. If the lizard makes the list, cattlemen will not be allowed to graze cattle in those areas, and drilling for oil/operating existing oil wells in the area would have to stop immediately. Let’s think here. The U.S. needs oil. People in the area need jobs. The cattlemen need pastures since drought and wildfires have destroyed much range. And they are not even sure if the little lizard guy is in the area – but he might be! His favorite food there!

How weird is it:  Yosemite, a National Park, is cutting down trees to improve the view for tourists. It’s true that “famous” photo views are obscured by “new” trees. So the view has changed? Actually the forest service itself caused this situation with their years of rapid dousing of all forest fires – even “natural” ones caused by lightning. No fires means lots of vegetation growth. Guess the young ambitious trees didn’t get the memo not to grow in certain areas. But maybe we don’t know all the details. Some countries don’t have many trees and have to import timber. Maybe the targeted trees are a part of the trade plan with the paper deal. What? Keep reading.

How ironic: The Obama administration is working on a trade deal with Vietnam and Asia. New Balance, the sole remaining shoe manufacturer in the U.S. is worried. Already the employees, knowing the competition from overseas manufacturers, work extremely hard and are more productive than most. Yet, if this agreement goes into practice it eliminates the steep existing tariff on sneakers from Vietnam. Probably means the end of New Balance. (Read the article for more). So count on job losses in the U.S. with this deal. Still another odd thing is that the article explains everything will be OK. The U.S. will be producing paper from Maine and computers from California to trade back to Asia and Vietnam. What? Uh, aren’t some computers produced more cheaply over there? So why would those guys want to buy U.S.made computers? It’s not like they are icons like Mustang convertibles or vintage Levi jeans. Not to mention the shipping costs. (Will they throw in one free – just pay the additional shipping?) And paper from Maine? Seriously? Isn’t everyone moving to away from paper to electronic? Paper. Hmmm. Guess they might need paper for packaging for all those products poised to flood into the U.S.(like Nike shoes). Still, Maine are you listening? Making paper is a nasty process with very undesirable by-products that ruin environments and scenic waterways. Not to mention the air quality and the smell! If you live near one, no explanation needed. If you don’t, well, if you thought a pig farm smells bad, try a paper mill. Where is the Sierra club and environmentalists on this one? Oh, right they are busy with the view vs tree controversy in Yosemite. (And we will have to cut down a whole lot of trees to make enough paper to even out that trade balance!)

How wacky: ignore the budget cuts and the fact that the state is out of money. A couple went hiking in the Angeles National Forest with Baxter, their 80 lbs Labrador mix dog (click for video). The dog’s paws were cut by the rocks. He became exhausted and was unable to walk another step. He was too heavy to carry out. Even without camping gear, they waited over night to see if he would recover. Finally, they called police for help. In swoops a helicopter to take them all to safety. Maybe they had a charge card to cover the costs, I don’t know. (Did anyone think of just taking them a stretcher?)

No wonder the rest of the world just shakes their head in disbelief. The weird summer stories just keep bubbling up. Feverish thinking from the extreme heat and drought? It’s the only explanation.

Always amazed,   (Click sidebar tag “Summer weird stories” for more of the bizarre)

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

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