Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Things Half-Remembered...

I need a bit of help tracking down a story I read about 10 years ago... It was supposed to be a true story, which is why I think it's worth tracking down. I can't seem to find it anywhere.

It involved a man who went on safari in Africa on more than one occasion. This probably was 70 or 80 years ago. At night he had the habit of playing records on a portable phonograph. When he was in one particular location, a lion would walk to the edge of his camp and sit and listen to the music. When the man stopped playing records, the lion left.

Does this ring a bell with anyone?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Return of the White Lion

Just in time to give some perspective on Linda Tucker's book, Mystery of the White Lions, the Nat Geo Wild channel re-ran (and will again on July 27) a one-hour program about Linda Tucker's Global White Lion Protection Trust and the efforts to re-introduce white lions to the Timbavati region of South Africa.

The key to the success of the project is obtaining governmental protection for the white lions. The main obstacle to this is money. Shooting white lions, either in the bush or in a tiny escape-proof enclosure (canned hunting) is big, big business -- idiots of the world will pay as much as $150,000 for the privilege of hanging a dead white lion's head on their wall.

(In Tucker's book, she quotes an African saying that says, kill a white lion and you lose your soul. In my opinion, such a person didn't have one to begin with. But I digress.)

Official objections come in the form of "why just white lions? all lions need protection", and this is certainly true as stated. But--and the objectors surely know this--the white lion makes a good poster animal for the project, and once protection for them can be secured, it will be easier to expand protection to all lions. After all, regular-colored lions can be carriers of the white gene.

It is perfectly logical to focus on the re-introduction and protection of white lions since people have been focusing on their destruction for decades. People's fascination with them is a perfect stepping stone to getting attention focused on all lions, which are not protected in any way even though their population is being exterminated rapidly. Not just for trophies, but for such things as satiating China's craving for tiger bone wine--tigers are protected, lions are not, so lion-bone wine is used as a substitute.

One scientist pooh-poohs one of the project's hopes -- getting white lions classified as a sub-species -- calling the concept of sub-species "arbitrary and artificial". But so is the whole classification system. Take any definition of "species" that you want, and you can find officially-recognized examples that don't fit it.

As presented in the TV show, the White Lion Trust seems to be worthwhile, well-planned, and thorough. I can't help but wonder what's currently going on with it, however, since the show was produced in 2008 and their web site mostly has not been updated since 2008.

In the previous post in which I critcized Tucker's book, I was reacting to the book's emphasis on so-called "new-age" spiritual concepts and her failure to present them in a convincing, coherent manner. In her exploration of the white lions' history, Tucker talks about extraterrestrials, unknown underground rivers, prehistoric gold refineries, pyramids, constellations, symmetry between northern and southern Africa, transmigration of souls, and more, in a manner that I found more confusing than enlightening. And I wanted to be enlightened, especially since at least one of the topics (transmigration) is near and dear to me.

But the White Lion Trust appears to be a very impressive endeavor and worthy of success. They need to get the word out to the public about their mission and the several very beautiful lions they are working with.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mystery of Mystery of the White Lions

The title of this post is not a typo. I have just finished reading Mystery of the White Lions by Linda Tucker, and I don't know what to make of it. The basic premise of the book is that white lions have a long and sacred history in Africa, and their recent reappearance in the wild signifies earth-changing events to come.

Perhaps my confusion comes from my hope, that the book would be revelatory, conflicting with my impression, that the writing is sloppy and dense, not to mention finding it to be downright wrong in places.

The worst offense, in my opinion, is Tucker's repeated references to her "near-death experience" which consisted of sitting in a disabled Land Rover with a bunch of other people in the African bush while some lions were close by. Not one of the people, Tucker included, suffered so much as a scratch on that occasion. No matter how frightening it may have been to her at the time, this is NOT a "near-death experience" as she repeatedly calls it, and to call it such not only perpetuates the ignorant corruption of the term that has seeped into popular culture, it does a great disservice to those who have had true near-death experiences. It also seriously undermines Tucker's quest to be one who bridges the scientific and spiritual communities. A true near-death experience involves a person flatlining, having a deeply profound and meaningful spiritual experience, and being revived. True NDEs DO bridge the physical and spiritual, they are enlightening and life-changing, and are far more significant than merely being scared. This apparent lack of knowledge of a true spiritual experience reported by millions of people really makes me doubt Tucker's sincerity in probing both the scientific and spiritual realms, especially since a true NDE is not really all that far removed from what some of what she claims to have researched and experienced herself.

Another seemingly telling slip is a one-time reference to white tigers as Siberian tigers, another misconception that is widespread among the uneducated public. Anyone with real interest in such animals knows that white tigers are Bengals, not Siberians. I find it hard to believe that someone who has spent so much time researching white lions and their genetics could not have come across such basic information about their close cousins. Add to this the fact that Tucker said she spent significant time with Siegfried and Roy, and this mistake just blows me away.

These are gaffes related to Tucker's main subject matter on such a basic level that I cannot help but be skeptical about the rest of her book.

Adding to my doubts is Tucker's web site, The book begins with an excerpt from an eloquent "Plea for Africa" by Credo Mutwa (more about him in a minute). The book says the complete essay is on the web site. It is not. The entire web site gives the impression of abandonment and decay, since it has very little content newer than 2008, broken links (interestingly, in the section about buying the book), and a contact form that doesn't work.

The vast majority of the book is devoted to African shaman Credo Mutwa, a famous person but unknown to me until now. I shall have to research him carefully before I can come to any conclusions. But already I have come up with an interesting question: If we are to believe everything he is quoted as saying in this book, should we also believe his statement (not in this book) from January of this year, that half the world's population will not see the year 2011 because of oil...?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kingdom United Against Brutality -- I Hope...

Hey, England! Here are some videos of the animals your "landed gentry" want the right to literally, physically tear to bloody shreds:

That's right, now that there's been a change in government in England, the rich folk want the fox hunting ban repealed. They call the ban "class warfare". I suggest that they get their heads out of their castes and wake up to the fact that they are the ones committing brutal, senseless warfare against intelligent beings with feelings and a family life probably more advanced than their attackers'.

To think that in this 21st century, there are large numbers of people who consider it their right to be barbarians while calling themselves elite... The fox hunt ban not only needs to stand, it needs to have some real teeth put into it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Technical Difficulties

On several older posts, I included audio recordings that were important to the post. Well, it seems Google has stopped supporting their player that I used, so I have switched to a player supported by Yahoo. So, if you read an older post and found a blank white space instead of an audio player, that's now been fixed. I hope.

Here is a list of such posts:
Advances in Language Study
More Cat Language
Calling All Lion Fans
The Christian the Lion Guys on the Radio
Another Lion Reunion, or, I Will Always Love You
Guest Speaker

Since each post had to be fixed individually, I probably missed one. If you find a post that is supposed to have playable sound but doesn't, please leave a comment on that post and I will fix it. Thank you.