The twenty-first century martyr

Extraordinary times deserve extraordinary writing. Elizabeth Breunig rises to the occasion, speaking of the two heroic young men, Riley Howell and Kendrick Castiloo, who died attacking school shooters, saving lives, living up to their moment. From the Washington Post: You can determine the excesses of an era by its martyrs. Essential to the story ofContinue reading “The twenty-first century martyr”

Sisyphus and climate activism: the surprising truth

In December, the scientist who — probably more than any other individual — brought ocean acidification to the attention of the world, Ken Caldeira, gave a named lecture to the huge science conference known as the AGU (officially, the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union). He spoke on the legacy of Carl Sagan, andContinue reading “Sisyphus and climate activism: the surprising truth”

A true (but legal) horror — family separation

This blog mostly focuses on questions of climate, wilderness, drama and literature. Inevitably politics sneaks into the discussion, but for the most part against my wishes — my attitude as a reporter is that my opinion is no better than yours, especially on topics with which I have no personal experience. So why talk aboutContinue reading “A true (but legal) horror — family separation”

Why so many old-timers don’t see climate change as a problem

The climate is changing all across the country and around the world, but in traditional communities, people often refuse to accept the evidence of its workings, even if demonstrated by scientists. Along this line a story in The New Yorker — called Tangier, the sinking island in the Chesapeake — profiles Mayor James Eskridge, a long-time crabberContinue reading “Why so many old-timers don’t see climate change as a problem”

Nerve gas for Ventura County, thanks to the Trump EPA

As Lily Tomlin has pointed out, “No matter how cynical you become, you can’t keep up.” Especially in these days of Donald Trump. Last week (was it only last week?) a meticulously sourced story in the New York Times by Eric Lipton (Why Has the EPA shifted on Toxic Chemicals? An Industry Insider Calls the Shots)Continue reading “Nerve gas for Ventura County, thanks to the Trump EPA”

Trail signs along the PCT: Section Q

Just have to say that the trail signs in Section Q — the Marble Mountains — in the far north of California were the best (that is, most Zen) that I have seen along the length of California. They deserve remembering in their own right, so here goes: Next day I after about 5 orContinue reading “Trail signs along the PCT: Section Q”

The Lions of Ventura County

Let me post (with some pride) my cover story this week in the Ventura County Reporter, on mountain lions, which benefitted enormously from pictures donated to the cause of the cougar by the National Park Service. Here’s the cover: How could you not love P-19? And here’s the story. THE TRUTH ABOUT BIG CATS |Continue reading “The Lions of Ventura County”

The forgotten radicalism of Jack London

In the West Coast’s leading literary journal, Threepenny Review, Howard Tharsing explores the forgotten radicalism of Jack London. Like Tharsing, London knew the relentless humiliation of poverty all too personally and all too well. Tharsing writes: Having myself been homeless for most of 2012, I was struck by the recognition that life for the poorest among us, theContinue reading “The forgotten radicalism of Jack London”

David Foster Wallace thinks about nature

In his classic (and often hilarious) essay for Harpers on the Illinois State Fair from l993, Ticket to the Fair, David Foster Wallace ruminated on many questions, including how people see nature in the MidWest. He wrote: Rural Midwesterners live surrounded by unpopulated land, marooned in a space whose emptiness starts to become both physicalContinue reading “David Foster Wallace thinks about nature”