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Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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Bringing back an old friend to the forest

From all accounts, it’s fair to say that our early Virginia ancestors had it in for large animals. Sometimes they had good reasons, and other times they didn’t. But it doesn’t matter, because for the most part they were successful in their efforts to get rid of them. At one time Virginia, and especially the Northern Neck, was home to a surprisingly large number of large wilderness animals.

When the first settlers arrived in 1609 there were wolves, mountain lions, bear, elk, and farther south in Virginia, even a species of buffalo. But many of these animals didn’t stand much of a chance against the growing population of settlers. The last wolf was killed in 1815 (starting in 1633 Virginia paid a bounty on wolves) and the last mountain lion in 1882. Other large creatures hung on, but many of the large North American quadrupeds, which President Thomas Jefferson routinely bragged about, were all but wiped out in his native Virginia.

Read more: Bringing back an old friend to the forest

A Working Heirloom: How much it means to me

Most heirlooms sit tucked away in a drawer, perhaps carefully packed, or maybe on display. “That was Grandma’s china,” or perhaps, “this set of glasses came over with my family from England.” Things like that, and often, in terms of a family history, that connection that bonds one generation to the next, is priceless.
I have several items just like that, but my favorite isn’t on display or carefully tucked away with the family china.  It’s on my wrist.  With care, I wear it every day.  Of course, sometimes, if I am doing heavy work, or perhaps going out of the country, I put it aside.  I don’t want to risk damaging it or losing it.  But, it’s a working heirloom, and I don’t see any reason I shouldn’t keep on using it.  Besides, at the risk of sounding superstitious, I think it brings me good luck.

Read more: A Working Heirloom: How much it means to me

The bottle I threw away today could outlast us all

 The Northern Neck is home to some of the most pristine waterways in Virginia. There are few bodies of water that are as unobstructed and natural in character. Of course, on some summer days, it gets a bit noisy, but come sun down, it’s just the occasional bass splashing as he tries to get something to the eat, the sound of frogs, and of course, the symphony of the peepers. However, even in what seems an unspoiled area there are signs that mankind and his trash are never far away.

Read more: The bottle I threw away today could outlast us all

Senate win in Fairfax will help Democrats at redistricting time

The Democrats in Virginia took a drubbing last fall.  In one of the worst routs the party has faced in more than 10 years, they lost all of the top jobs in Richmond, and suffered a devastating setback in the House of Delegates.  However, last week, the Democrats managed to find a consolation prize.  To the casual observer it might not seem like a big deal, but for the party it was important win.

Read more: Senate win in Fairfax will help Democrats at redistricting time

The president and Afghanistan

There are a lot of Democrats who aren’t happy about the president’s decision to commit additional forces to Afghanistan. They are convinced this is an un-winnable war and can’t help but make that all too easy leap to saying that this will be just another Vietnam. Respectfully, I think they’re wrong on both counts. President Obama didn’t make this decision casually.
 First of all, Afghanistan is not Iraq. Iraq is a war that, for all its terrible costs, was fought because of a determined and single-minded desire on the part of one administration. Afghanistan is different. There is a history to our involvement in the region that many of us don’t recall, or, I suspect, choose not to. Or, maybe we have simply forgotten. But it’s this history that makes a sound moral case for why we just can’t pack up and go home.

Read more: The president and Afghanistan

Is the GOP on the wrong side of history?

The Republican Party, eyeing the 2010 elections, has convinced itself that the health care bill, slowly, but surely progressing through Congress, will be what political experts call, their “wedge issue.”  They are already talking about targeted seats, and pickups in the House, sufficient, or so they claim, to give them back control of the lower chamber.

Read more: Is the GOP on the wrong side of history?

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