Monday, July 30, 2007

A Fishing Trip to Remember

Captain Mark on a beautiful Prince William Sound dayI went on an amazing fishing trip over the weekend. Every fishing trip has some delights of its own, but this one was unusually interesting.

We went to the Coghill River, which empties into College Fjord about 32 miles NE of Whittier in Prince William Sound (PWS). At the mouth were loitering a large number of red salmon. Spawning salmon spend some time at the river mouths acclimating to the change from salt to freshwater.

We weren't there at the peak of salmon return to this particular river. Had we been there would have been thousands 0f fish rather than mere hundreds.

But as it was there were plenty of fish, and all the boats nearby were catching fish throughout the day.

Katie's boyfriend Steve boats another sockeyeAt first we didn't quite know how to catch them, but after a few hours, we started seeing how they were moving around the little bay. Schools of them were traversing the bottom (the sonar told us that) and the top (we could see their wakes and fins). I wonder if the ones at the bottom were the least freshwater tolerant and the ones at the top the most tolerant. Freshwater floats on top of the saltwater.

What we eventually figured out to do was watch for the schools of salmon, slowly motor over toward them and cast into them. Sometimes they would take the bait, but other times the large treble hook would just snag the fish (which is legal in PWS saltwater).

What made the trip so interesting was the behavior of the fish as they swam around the top of the bay. Sometimes we would see groups of them swimming by the boat. The beauty of the day and the lack of wind was another real plus. Prince William Sound is a delight on days like this!

We brought 18 fish home -- a real delight for the salmon eaters in our household!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Al Qaeda Gaming the 2008 Presidential Elections?

I have been speculating how Al-Qaeda might be gaming the upcoming USA Presidential election. Here's how I got to this point.

The purposes of Al-Qaeda apparently are "to establish Islamist states throughout the world, overthrow ‘un-Islamic regimes’, expel US soldiers and Western influence from the Gulf, and capture Jerusalem as a Muslim city," according to a Wikipedia article, quoting the US Defense Department.

Getting US soldiers out of Gulf states cannot be done militarily because of superior might of allied arms. Al Qaeda's only real option is to wear us down so that WE bring our troops home. I suspect at least a two-pronged strategy: first, to kill and maim as many allied troops and innocents in Iraq as possible, and second, to minimize terrorist attacks in the USA. All to the good if it looks as if they are still trying to hurt us in our homeland using second string terrorist cells. But surely they know that another 9/11-type attack would kindle American fury, and seriously set back their aims of expelling the infidels from what they consider to be the lands of Islam.

If this theory is correct, to get the western allies out of the Gulf, Al Qaeda will tune its behaviors in the Gulf and in the USA to maximize the chances of electing an anti-war president. This is the unseen hand I am speculating about. Al Qaeda has shown itself adept in the use of media, and their strategists must be just as carefully tracking the USA election as they are events in Anbar province in Iraq.

I fear that once the allies have gone home, Al Qaeda will turn to the next items on its agenda. Just as before the allies went into Afghanistan and Iraq, that will include attacks here at home, and stepped up terror attacks in Israel and Europe. I fear we will see attacks that make 9/11 look like small change in the jihad.

Electing an "anti war" President, of whatever party, could be just what Al Qaeda wants to advance its agenda.