Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Every frog has his day

Saturday's highlight was seeing the frog exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. Other interesting sections of the museum I was able to see included the exhibits on the Northwest Pacific Indians (which included a longboat) and small North American mammals. The frog exhibit was worth the trip -- seeing so many different species was amazing, from our "own" American bullfrog (an import, actually) to the Mexican dumpy frogs to the tiny poisonous frogs. It was also delightful to hear the different mating cries of the frogs: the grunting of the pig frog and the bullfrog's call. This was a wonderful opportunity to see some cute (yet, in some cases, dangerous) animals and realize the beauty and diversity of Nature. It was, however, also disheartening to learn about the damage inflicted upon the populations of these frogs due to human and other activity: worldwide, scientists have noted significant declines among frog populations in the last half-century. Often, the tinier the species is, the more helpless it is to protect itself against larger forces. I know that there's no concrete reason for us to help these little guys out ... but something about protecting the wonders of Nature should appeal to even the hardest human heart.

Of the previous year: Let us call it the Year of the Scream, at least politically. It began with Howard Dean hollering his way into obscurity in Iowa, but by its end the yelling became bipartisan: Zell Miller losing his cool against Chris Matthews during the convention, for instance. Seeing Bush win a second term was dispiriting. This article, a review of the book "What's the Matter with Kansas?", shows some of the ways the Republicans have solidified their base, and explains that, despite the Democrats' traditional allegiance to the working poor, they have hurt their base over the past decade. Two reasons the Republican Revolution passed in 1994? NAFTA and the budget bill, both of which were delivered by Clinton.

As for the next year: May emergency supplies reach the beleaguered people of Southeast Asia speedily and effectively. In light of our government's relatively ungenerous assistance -- when you balance it out, our $35 million amounts to each citizen contributing less than a dollar; it's also 0.14 percent of our gross national income -- it falls on us to do more via private donations. Want your dollars to be spent wisely? Perhaps this site will help.


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