09.29.08

UnBearable

Posted in Cat, Financial, Politics at 10:21 pm by justakim

The financial market craziness makes me wish we were back to relatively harmless presidential politics. Someone sent me this story about a honey-stealing bear just before McCain told his overused bear boondoggle story on Friday.

Here’s some consolation political humor and some cute.

09.24.08

Ghost Town

Posted in Financial at 10:12 am by justakim

It was very interesting to observe peoples’ behavior last weekend. We went to pick up some kitchen stuff at a popular upscale outdoor mall and the place looked deserted. I mean, there were cars though not as many as usual, but we saw few people actually wandering around. Very dramatic change.

When I heard how Bernenke was on board on this bail-out, a chill went straight down my spine. I really hope that election politics takes a backseat for a bit. Small hope, I know.

If you want some reading on what hit us last week, read this article on the financial crisis.

09.10.08

Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee

Posted in Book, Conservation, Economic Development, Resources at 10:37 pm by justakim

Excellent journalist.

I’d first like to say that this author is amazing. In the first few pages, I was struck by how he could present these real figures with the familiarity one would expect of a fiction writer the characters they designed. This is my first McPhee book and it probably won’t be my last. If you’re at all interested in a good story and a glimpse at the environmental scene in the past, stop reading right now and go get that book. If you’re not likely to read this book, read on.

As many of you know, David Brower is a prominent environmentalist best known for his campaign to prevent a dam that would flood parts of the Grand Canyon. McPhee has arranged an elegant setup. He takes Brower out into the field with three of his adversaries. He uses these encounters to portray the nuances of the issues and beautifully illustrates the depth of these four people with background information along the way.

Round 1: Charles Park; geologist, professor, conservationist
Round 2: Charles Fraser; sustainable developer
Round 3: Floyd Dominy; farmer, dam builder, improver of farmland

There are some very remarkable things about these matches that really give the story a lot of depth and much to consider. One is that they all believed that they were doing good. Park thought that mined resources will benefit humanity and not using those resources would result in suffering. Fraser wanted to make nature available to a large number of people and to create something beautiful. Dominy saw the suffering of those hard working people who’d moved out west and could not make a living on their homestead and so from an early age, he built dams so that pioneers could survive. Brower himself wanted to preserve the land for its own sake and saw his cause as a war of attrition.

What was also intriguing was the amount of knowledge the opponents had. Park spent large portions of his year prospecting all over the world, and spends more time outdoors than any of them. Fraser, while not an outdoorsman, has already built a successful development with many environmentally friendly features way ahead of its time, and he has done his background research with an interest in history, recognizing the long record of human use in the area in question. Dominy is a native of the drought-prone areas and knows the needs and desires of the people.

The other thing that was so striking in these comparisons was how they all appreciated nature. No matter how vehemently they may be arguing, no matter how much they may irreconcilably disagree, when faced with the beauty of their surroundings, they would all pause, and enjoy the sight together. They all appreciated and admired the same thing. There is no ruthless destruction. There is no raping of the earth as it were. There were just different priorities.

It was very touching to have this vision of the environmental discussion of the past, and to be able to see the changes and similarities with the discourse of the present day. This portrayal brought respect and humanity to both sides that often gets washed out in the us-vs.-them mentality that often arises. And aside from being useful, it was beautifully written.

09.01.08

I’m Back!

Posted in Admin, Book at 1:31 pm by justakim

Nothing like a 12 mile all-day hike to put you in the mood to sit down and not move for the rest of the weekend! We did Mount Defiance, finishing our trip in the dark due to missing a trail. 12 miles, 10 hours. And then I log in and see a lot of 50-year-olds bragging about doing it in 3 hours! We even ran into one coming down as we were heading up. Crazy!

Despite being relatively pitiful, I feel good.

I had a lot of stray thoughts while the site was down.

We were busily ignoring the Olympics when it suddenly dawned upon us… August 8th, 2008. That’s a very very lucky number. No wonder they tried so hard to claim this one.

Wall-e was an excellent environmentally-themed movie. Even those most distanced from the environment appreciate it and understand responsibility. I got to see the silly inspiration for Wall-e in Short Circuit too.

Kent State is using electric cars on campus. Using electric vehicles in short range places like that is a great idea.

A friend sent me a link to EcoGeek which looks interesting!

I read a few things.

Encounters with the Archdruid: John McPhee is an amazing journalist that takes David Brower out into the environment with three of his adversaries, bringing the environmental debate of the times into a very personal setting.

Stumbling on Happiness: What we think we want isn’t necessarily going to make us happy so we should look to see how it made others feel as our best estimate as to how it will affect us. The book is sprinkled with Adam Smith quotes.

Freakanomics: There’s a surprisingly fun number of ideas in there, basically based on going out and checking the data to see for yourself how people act.