It’s been interesting for us to watch the news here lately, as the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Conference is going on in Laos right now. As one newscaster put it, 16 heads of state representing half of the world’s population are in attendance (China and India are there too, as well as Australia). There are all sorts of reports on the news about what is happening, and we’ve enjoyed getting the Indonesian, Australian, and British points of view. There seem to be some problems within the organization about Burma’s government, as it is a military dictatorship which has a history of human rights abuses, but nobody seems willing to bring up this issue. (TP points out that all of these countries probably have this same problem in their recent histories; jm thinks that conflict avoidance is a very Southeast Asian trait). Now that the Australian PM has showed up, the new problem is that he won’t sign a non-agression pact with ASEAN countries. He has said that is unnecessary– but it would also anger the US, with whom he has previous agreements. Also, he probably doesn’t want to. Who knows when Australia will find it necessary to invade Brunei? In all seriousness, though, he does want to reserve the right to come after Indonesia if he thinks that the new president does not successfully crack down on terrorism.
On a completely unrelated note (and one that does not have anything to do with Indonesia) I (jm) spent some time this morning trying to figure out if cows, oxen, and buffalos are related, and if so, how. We were talking about oxtail soup yesterday, wondering if it actually has tail in it (it does) and then we decided we didn’t know what an ox actually was. So after about three zillion online dictionary and encyclopedia definitions, I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody else does really either. Well that’s not entirely true. Ox is the word for a domesticated bovine quadruped, and is a larger category name for buffalo, bison, yaks, water buffalo, etc. It is usually used to refer to cattle that have been trained as working animals from the time they are young. Basically, all of these animals are pretty closely related, but their evolutionary relationship is obscure. Also, a cow refers to the female of any of these animals, and what we have in the US are bison, not buffalo. A buffalo is indeed a type of ox, however they are the strain found in Asia and Africa. Bison are decended from European creatures, and there are some still roaming the forests of Lithuania. We also learned that water buffalos and cape buffalos are true buffalos. There is no word in here that specifically and only refers to the animal that hamburgers come from (except the scientific term, Bos Taurus). If any of you know anything about this subject, please let us know as we are still a little confused!
Oh, and one more unrelated thing. I saw a news headline yesterday proclaiming that some recent Botulism cases may have been caused by Botox. Hmmmmm, didn’t see that one coming.