The Greater Good


deer 010The deer were out in front eating mesquite seeds today without their young one.  Guess the persistent coyote finally got it.  (I had blogged Coyote v. Deer on October 5.)  The other day there had been a crash through the underbrush and I saw the hind end of one of the adults dashing away, no doubt after the coyote.  The young one was standing by my fence looking around like what’s going on?  If the coyotes worked in pairs, one could have downed it then.  (This an older photo out back.)

I had been wondering why our deer don’t get a rack of antlers.  This from the Desert Museum:

Mule deer are easy to identify due to their large mule-like ears. They are brownish-gray in color, have a white rump patch and a small white tail with a black tip. The male deer grow antlers during the summer and fall and shed them each spring. The antlers split off from the main branch forming two branches, each branch has 2 or more tines.

The Greater Good

I am taking a University of Arizona Humanities Seminars class this semester, Utilitarianism: The Greater Good? where we are reading and discussing some interesting philosophical issues, but in addition to the weekly readings our text is The Classical Utilitarians with text by Bentham and Mill, who wrote back in the late 1700’s when you didn’t use just one word when two dozen would do.  After a page-and-a-half paragraph, I find it hard to even summarize the point made.  Rather hard to slough through.

Utilitarianism is the belief that a morally good action is one that helps the greatest number of people.  With Xmas just around the corner the charities are vying for that morally good action, in the form of hard cash.  I have just gotten my yearly Please Donate card from Heifer International and checked them out on, where you can see what percent of the money donated is spent on overhead.  Heifer did not do so well, with only two stars:

Program Expenses (Percent of the charity’s budget spent on the programs and services it exists to deliver)  69.8%

A few years ago my daughter gave me a gift of a donation to Kiva, which gets four stars.

Every day, Kiva connects thousands of people to borrowers and partner institutions around the world, working together to create opportunity and alleviate poverty.

Kiva does microfinancing, lending money to people or the organizations, such as International Micro-Loan Fund, IMON International, in Tajikistan, who lend the money to people around the world.  You chose your person and then they repay you so that you can lend again.  Do it randomly or choose your country, gender, sector (such as Agriculture, Education or Retail), groups or individual, and attributes (such as Green, Youth or Fair Trade).  Scroll through some of these requests:

And I searched for Tucson1 in and found that four stars went to: the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Habitat for Humanity Tucson, (I am leaving out the faith-based charities), Foundation, and (!) United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.   I’m glad, because I’ve given a bit of money to the Food Bank (as well as food each time they ask), Habitat for Humanity (which was part of my senior project in Architecture school, and after the donation Jimmy and Rosalynn sent me Xmas cards for years), and when I worked at IBM, one year I was drafted to be the department United Way rep, during the yearly fund-raising as IBM encouraged everyone to donate, and they may have matched our contributions.

Tumamoc5-300x400Tumamoc Hill

Tumamoc Hill just west of the Santa Cruz River in downtown Tucson is a trincheras site with occupations going back to 500 BC. There are also a large number of Hohokam petroglyphs.

I drive by the entrance to Tumamoc Hill each Tuesday and Thursday when I pick up a friend for qigong.  The hill is a popular evening hike, and there are usually about 40 cars parked along the road, others in the doctors’ offices’ parking lots across the street (next to St Mary’s Hospital).  People driving to walk, kinda like me driving to the Y to exercise.Tumamoc Hill

There are nice city views at the top.  It’s a 3.1 mile round-trip hike up 730 feet, and at an easy pace takes about two hours on the paved road to UA’s Desert Laboratory, which has some century-old study sites.  (These photos from the internet.)

• 1903: Becomes botanical research station of Carnegie Institution.
• 1937: Laboratory closed because of Great Depression.
• 1940: U.S. Forest Service acquires property and converts lab into Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station.
• 1950s: Paved road built. Receiving, transmitting and telescope towers built, destroying large part of an archaeological site.
• 1960: UA establishes Desert Research Laboratory.
• 1976: Tumamoc becomes a National Historic Landmark.

Name: Tumamoc is a corruption of the O’odham word for desert horned toad.
Origin: Geological sequence of volcanic and sedimentary deposits laid down 56 million to 60 million years ago and uplifted 15 million to 20 million years ago with tectonic activity that produced the modern basin and range topography characteristic of southern Arizona.
History: Archaeology suggests ancient tribes settled on the hill west of the Santa Cruz River, some as early as 300 to 500 A.D. Ancient trails connect to now-invisible prehistoric villages on the hill’s north and east sides.
1880s: Volcanic rock talus is quarried from the south and northwest slopes by Mexican teamsters for houses and apparently is the source for walls around the older part of the University of Arizona campus.
Present ownership: 349 acres owned by UA; 320 acres of state land held in trust for public schools; 200 acres of state land held in trust for UA.

Cell Towers

cell towercell-phone-tower-disguised-as-a-cactus-1I drive by this cell tower on Anklam Road just about every day.  Like the fact that it’s “disguised” as a palm.  When I was finding a photo of it from the internet also found this cell tower masquerading as a saguaro.


captain-phillipsSaw the movie Captain Phillips last night.  Very good. The pirates were very believable, and the Navy Seals pretty awesome.

The leader of the pirates was played by Barkhad Abdi, a cab driver in Minneapolis.

Before landing a role opposite Tom Hanks in the film Captain Phillips, Barkhad Abdi had never acted.

Captain Phillips is based on a true story: the hijacking of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama. Hanks stars as the title character, Capt. Richard Phillips, and Adbi plays Muse, the man who leads the charge against ship and crew.

Abdi was born in Somalia and lived there until he was 7. At 14, Abdi moved from Yemen to Minneapolis, Minn., which is home to tens of thousands of Somalis [and where all of the Somali actors were recruited].

“I hope people understand the culture clash between these very, very different characters, Capt. Phillips and Muse,” Abdi says. “One had just, the normal life, you know, he went to school, college, graduated, family, and now he [has] a job. And the other one is just someone that grew up in a war-torn country, that had no hope, no school, no job, no government, nothing.”

For his role, Abdi trained for over a month to learning how to handle weapons, maneuver the tiny skiff boat, and, most importantly, he says, to swim. Learning to act was a challenge, too.

As a child in Somalia, Abdi says he witnessed a whole year of the civil war, which began in 1991. “I was really blessed to have parents that got me out. Certainly [Muse] did not have that.”  “I look at him as someone that had nothing to lose, a ruthless man who has nothing to lose. A man who has nothing to lose is dangerous,” Abdi says. “So, that’s how I became his character.”


mt topAlso this weekend saw Arizona Theater Company’s The Mountaintop.

… a fictional depiction of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s last night on earth set entirely in Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel on the eve of his assassination .

I thought it was quite well-done (especially the set – I love all of the ATC sets), except for the ending (hope this is not a spoiler), which I thought would have had more impact if King had walked outside to the balcony and you heard that shot.


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