Orwell and the earth

When [the critic] Woodcock compared Orwell to Antaeus, who draws his strength from the earth, he might have also meant that he drew his intellectual strength from the specific and the tangible and from firsthand experience. It set him at odds with an era in which ideologies led many astray, not least as doctrines defendingContinue reading “Orwell and the earth”

Medicinal Herbs of CA

This month the Ojai Quarterly published my “Off the Shelf” feature on Lanny Kaufer’s spectacular and informative new field guide to medicinal herbs in California: Here’s the opening: And below the fold [page 2, below] the full story in a more readable font for the web. Much respect to Lanny, who not only has beenContinue reading “Medicinal Herbs of CA”

Will the Ojai Pixie Survive?

Here’s a story from me in the Ojai Quarterly about the leading agriculture export from the Ojai Valley, the Pixie tangerine, it’s past, present and (gulp) future. For ease of internet access, let me run an easy-to-read-online version of the story that ran in the print magazine, with appropriate linkage, below the fold. As anContinue reading “Will the Ojai Pixie Survive?”

“What can’t be cured…

…must be endured,” said Robert Burton about melancholy, back in 1620. It’s considerate and a bit ironic that he should offer such a pithy description for the plight of melancholics and depressives, given that he literally wrote the book on the subject of enduring it, and in a new edition that book is a mereContinue reading ““What can’t be cured…”

Scientific prophecy in CA: A new kind of heat wave

California stands at “ground zero” in the world of climate change, as the MacArthur grantee/genius Peter Gleick likes to say. This is not good news for forty million or so of us who live here, but for far-sighted scientists, it’s an opportunity. Gleick himself became known when as a graduate student decades ago he wroteContinue reading “Scientific prophecy in CA: A new kind of heat wave”

180k farmworkers sickened w/Covid

According to this excellent and short WSJ video feature, 180k farmworkers this year have tested positive for COVID-19, and some of them have died. Here’s a story from Santa Maria in Santa Barbara county about a group of 250 or so such guestworkers living in crowded conditionsin a motel…and interviews with two who contracted theContinue reading “180k farmworkers sickened w/Covid”

Congressman Covid

The coronavirus has provided an extraordinary new image for cartoonists around the world to work into their satirical art. Here’s an example I think really clicks, from John Arlington of the US, discovered on the international — and great — Cartoon Movement, of the Texas Republican Louie Gohmert. Gohmert has been waging a brazen cultureContinue reading “Congressman Covid”

John Muir taken down from the pedestal by Sierra Club

Two days ago the Sierra Club made the front page of the Los Angeles Times when the 122-year-old environmental organization took down the monument in esteem that was its hero, John Muir, the co-founder of the organization, from his emeritus leadership position in the great beyond. Joseph LeConte, his friend and co-founder was outright disowned,Continue reading “John Muir taken down from the pedestal by Sierra Club”