A number of publications last week published compendiums of amazing images from the polar vortex's drunken stagger, in Chris Mooney's wonderful story, across nearly all the nation save drought-stricken CA. Frozen lakes, waterfalls, etc. Here's NASA's GOES satellite picture:
Fine. But what about the vortex of public reaction? Tom Toles sketches that one:
Marc Gunther runs a new sustainability blog for The Guardian, and brings an acerbic intelligence to the topic -- no little b.s. stories about how a tiny innovation or change will save us from a big problem.
Example: plastic bags. Adam Corner for the blog writes:
In 2014, England will follow the example set by Wales and Scotland and introduce a carrier bag charge. If the Welsh and Scottish experiences are anything to go by, the policy will drastically reduce the number of bags in circulation, keeping unnecessary waste out of landfill and removing a little polythene from the diet of our cities' seagulls.
Like recycling, re-using carrier bags has become something of an iconic "sustainable behaviour". But whatever else its benefits may be, it is not, in itself, an especially good way of cutting carbon. Like all simple and painless behavioural changes, its value hangs on whether it acts as a catalyst for other, more impactful, activities or support for political changes.
The evidence from Wales is not encouraging. My colleagues at Cardiff University analysed the impact of the introduction of the carrier bag charge. Although their use reduced dramatically, rates of other low-carbon behaviours among the general public remained unaffected.
To be clear: fewer plastic bags would be a small, good thing. But as a major two-day conference at the Royal Society headquarters in London this week made clear, "every little helps" is a dangerously misleading mantra when it comes to climate change.
Of course, it's always possible that cloth or old shopping bags will open the door to something bigger, and there's no harm in it. Just a tinge of frustration. Can't we sacrifice just a little for the planet? Is this the best we can do?
But my fav Gunther piece came right at Thanksgiving, on the eve of Black Friday, where he opened a column with a blast of sarcasm at those who would shop their way to happiness:
Ah yes, ’tis the happiest time of year, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas when people buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to create impressions that won’t last, on people they don’t care about.
The older I get, the less Christmas shopping seems to matter.
Some people disagree:
Kidding. It's from Wes Craven, who tweets: "Let's keep it civil out there."
"Yoko Ono’s films tend to deal with themes of sexuality, intimacy, and the navigation of public life."
"1969’s Rape is" [reports book/rock critic David Ulin] "her most famous work, a disturbing first-person perspective from the eyes of the film crew, who chase, harass, and assault a German woman as she flees through the streets of London. No doubt the film is a commentary on the sudden media onslaught she experienced in the initial stages of her relationship with John Lennon. It’s an incredibly compelling piece."
"It’s also 77 damn minutes long. Since I know you’re all reading this at work, I’ll hook you up with one of Ono’s briefer film experiments. In Freedom, we see a shot of Ono’s chest in a silky purple bra. Faceless, she attempts to unhook the front claps in slow motion to the sound of modulating, electronic drone, (provided by John Lennon, of course)."
"While it’s not unheard of to see a close-up of breasts on celluloid, the speed and sounds of the shot transform a mundane ritual of taking off a bra into a sort of post-modern dirge. The bra is never removed on camera, and the audience is left in a state of anticipation, as the clinical, hypnotic feel of the film belies all the general comfort we associate with breasts, whether maternal or sexual."
Posted today in memory of John Lennon, assassinated thirty-odd years ago on this date.
While I'm working up a post on "invasion biology," the monstering of tamarisk, and what it means for us to care for our local wilderness in the 21st century, I cannot resist posting this daring "rock art" photographed just this week in the Sespe Wilderness....
I wonder who the anonymous rock artist is -- I took this picture on Monday in a canyon above Fillmore, so he or she or they live amongst us, almost certainly, right here in Ventura County.
NEW YORK — The revival of "The Glass Menagerie" that has Broadway abuzz boasts two-time Tony winner Cherry Jones in the role of the Southern gothic matriarch Amanda Wingfield, among the greatest parts in the repertoire for a mature actress. But this isn't the only stellar attraction.
Zachary Quinto, the 21st century face of Spock and an actor of compelling interiority, plays Tom, the narrator and burgeoning writer burning to break free of his suffocating family responsibility. Equally noteworthy, John Tiffany, who won a Tony for his staging of the musical "Once," is collaborating again with choreographer-movement director Steven Hoggett in a dramatic application of their signature lyricism that's hauntingly accented with Nico Muhly's music.
But the real star of the production is possibly the oldest name in the playbill, Tennessee Williams, whose indelible memory play is heard in all its breath-catching delicacy.
Charles McNulty adds:
The narrator boasts that unlike the stage magician who gives illusion in the appearance of truth, he will give us truth in the appearance of illusion. This promise is kept by Quinto, who viscerally maps the central conflict facing Tom, who is of course the surrogate for Thomas ("Tennessee") Williams.
This deeply felt homage to an author who awakened the country's appetite for serious drama in the middle of the 20th century sparks the hope that he will start receiving the Broadway productions he deserves. His voice, nowhere more poignant than in this most autobiographical play, is still balm for weary, open-hearted souls.
So true, and so wish I could see that production! Perhaps it will travel.
Much attention has been focused in recent weeks on a mysterious barge floating off Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. On Monday the LA Times ran on the top of the front page a remarkably thin story written in the first person about the mystery of this barge, a Google effort. By the time one reached the end of story one wondered if it had been written in first person to cover up how little fact it contained.
Sounds cool, in truth. Here's an artist's conception of the finished work:
In a statement, the Googleplex declared that the idea is to draw people to the waterfront, at various spots around the bay. The designers, a still somewhat mysterious group known as By and Large, promised:
"We envisioned this space with community in mind," By and Large says, "a
surprising environment that is accessible to all and inspires
conversation about how everything is connected - shorebirds, me, you,
the sea, the fog and much more."
Which echoes John Muir's foundational -- and often misquoted -- statement of ecology:
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
Google has done everything it can to connect us to our human universe and to the planet (via the still-astounding Google Earth). Good that it's now working to connect Bay denizens to their home habitat.