Thursday, September 30, 2010

Robert Reich tells "the large narrative" of our economy

I was at a meet-and-greet last night with Brian O'Donnell, who's running for State Representative for District 59, and he and I got to talking about things I was feeling about Obama (what is it with his inability to articulate clear rationales and guiding visions?), the Democratic Party (how can they continue to be so staggeringly fumbling, bumbling, and timid since the Carter Administration?), the Tea Party (who are fighting tirelessly for our RIGHT to get dicked by insurance companies, to have our jobs outsourced overseas, to a crappy education and low-paying unskilled jobs!), and -- of course! -- to the economy (when will someone have the backbone to say that Free Trade has been the biggest shafting of the middle-class worker since Indentured Servitude?).

Well, I enjoyed the meeting, even if it might have been a bit heavy on the "greet" for poor Mr. O'Donnell. But he listened (or feigned listening) as politely as a ... well, a politician. Which he's not. Yet. (Despite J. Paul Brown's supporters are mailing literature accusing O'Donnell of being a "tax and spend politician," even though he's never held office. He has, in fact, been working as a wildlands advocate for Trout Unlimited.)

O'Donnell and I did end up find some shared ground, though: Our respect for economist Robert Reich.

Last night Reich reminded me why that's so, when he was interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air." In the 20-minute interview, Reich is refreshingly clear, logical, and honest as he explained his view of where we are economically, and how we got here. And where we are is where we were at the start of the Great Depression: with a historic concentration of wealth in the hands of the wealthiest few, and a crushed middle class unable to afford to keep fueling the economy.

In 1928, says Reich, 23 percent of the country's wealth was in the hands of the richest 1 percent of the population; in 2007, the had 23.5 percent. Census data released this week show that the top-earning 20 percent of Americans received nearly half the income generated in the United States.

Reich cites some clear steps in how we got here, including the mechanization then out-sourcing of the workforce, an overly indebted middle class, and an absurdly wealthy upper class that turns to speculation as sport.

And he shares the concern over President Obama's lack of skill in articulating the situation and a rationale for moving beyond it, playing into the hands of Tea Partiers and those who would keep the status quo.  "He [Obama] has failed to connect the dots," says Reich, "and failed to provide the public a large and understandable narrative."

Like Reich can.

Listen to or read the "Fresh Air" interview here.

Watch an interview with Reich about his new book Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future here and below.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn, Full Moon, and Snow! Oh my!

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Oh, yeah! is more like it.

Had to drive out to the airport early this morning, and got to see -- between quick glances at the road -- the clouds lift and the mountain world emerge into the first Autumn dawn light.

Over Hesperus hung the full Harvest Moon, a great glowing cue ball (or maybe that was a flashback to El Rancho last night ...). And beside it stood the dimly lit La Platas, wearing on its peaks a fine but distinct patina of powder ...


I didn't have a camera with me (which is probably best, given my distracted, lustful mountain-staring from behind the wheel anyway). But I was able to get some shots before that mean old sun melted away the season's first snow.

Have a taste.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The ultimate fishing trip ... or, fish tripping ...

Here's a delightful and, well, much thought-provoking piece of journalism from Sports Illustrated circa 1964.

In "A Dreamy New Era For Fish," from the March 30, 1964, issue, Robert H. Boyle writes about an, let's say, intriguing plan to improve fishing through LSD.

Sounds like a good idea, right? I mean, fishing is a bit boring at times anyway. Except he means, by giving LSD to the fish.

See, back in 1964, when LSD was still somewhat new and edgy -- and legal -- a Mr. Howard Loeb, senior aquatic biologist at the New York State Conservation Department Fish Laboratory, (and delightfully described as "an imaginative ex-paratrooper") started pushing LSD on fish of various species to see what would happen. He got the idea from a suggestion by the director of a mental institution who'd read about Loeb's great achievements in developing methods of poisoning fish en-masse. (Really. That's what it says.)

Of course many readers of Sports Illustrated in 1964 may not have known what LSD was yet, so the writer also provided a nice quick summary (which I'll now share for those of you today who may not know):
The drug is perhaps best known to the general public because of the psychological effects it brings about. Colors take on great depth, music is physically felt rather than heard and happiness or frustration is often extreme. It produces in a normal person a state believed to be similar to schizophrenia.
Well, needless to say, when Loeb -- also inventor of the electric fish shocker -- starts dumping loads of LSD into tanks filled with happy, swimming fishes, hilarity and zaniness ensues.

He starts with Siamese fighting fish. Why? Because they're "plentiful, cheap, almost as sensitive to LSD as humans." (Not sure how that sensitivity was measured, but perhaps it's because under the influence they're prone to long, disjointed, rambling discourses, and they all sway in unison when "Uncle John's Band" is played.)

Carp, of course, are the most resistant fish. But no one's surprised, really. "Goodness knows what kinds of hallucinations carp have," notes the reporter, "but they become noticeably lighter in color." And sometimes they swim backwards. Dude.

And another non-surprise: A major pharmaceutical company jumped on board Loeb's project, offering boatloads of LSD.

Just so you know, there is a happy ending. "No one knows what would happen to a person who happened to swim in or drink from a treated pond or lake," the writer notes. "But the tests are most encouraging and the possibilities unlimited, both for sport and commercial fishing."

Undoubtedly. Now where'd I leave that fishing pole?

Read the article here.

(via Boing Boing)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Norwegian morning ...

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Or so it seemed, as Rio and I made the dawn-patrol stroll up the mesa above Durango. The mountain-chill air and a dense, enveloping fog created an oceanic scene that triggered a body memory of walking a Norwegian fjord.

Or the coast of Maine. Or the Oregon shore. Anywhere but the high-desert country of Durango, Colorado.

But there it was, and there we were, and I could feel it. Especially since I couldn't see more than ten yards downfield as Rio and I wandered uphill through that thick atmospheric filter.

An hour and a half later, as I commuted to work -- walking up that same dirt trail -- the fog was finally lifting under the glare of the rising sun, slowly releasing the familiar landscape from its grasp. And I had a camera ...


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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Only two things money can't buy ...

... "that's true love and homegrown tomatoes."

So sings the great Guy Clark. And every year at this time, I think he's right.

Why do homegrown tomatoes taste so much better? According to the University of Illinois Extension Service, it may have to do with commercial tomatoes' being picked green so they ship better, but it also can be linked to micro-amounts of volatile chemicals that are sensed not by the tongue, but by the olfactory nerve in the nose. (Read the entire article in the Illinois Times here.)

Whatever the reason, for a couple of weeks every year, I get both love and tomatoes: homegrown tomatoes on bagels and cream cheese. It don't get much better ...

So pull up a ripe one and enjoy this: Not a great recording, but a fine version of Guy Clark performing "Homegrown Tomatoes."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yard sale days

What could possibly be better? A lovely, clear late-Summer Saturday, on Labor Day weekend.

Doing our part to support the local underground recycling economy.

Hanging and chatting with neighbors, both known and those we didn't know we had.

And we got to disgorge a heap-o-stuff -- mostly to folks who are really excited for both the object of their desire and the bargain price they're getting their gratification for.

And we're make some beer money whilst we're at it.

Oh, and lest we forget: Those yummy -- and healthy! -- bloody marys ....

Friday, September 3, 2010

Field & Stream magazine features Alpine Loop in high San Juans

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This from Trout Unlimited, which has been doing some fine work generating support for protection of the high country in the heart of the San Juan's known as the Alpine Triangle (which is also known as the Alpine Loop, for the popular 4x4 route through the area). And now they've gotten coverage in one of the most-read "hook and bullet" magazines, Field & Stream

Here's what Ty Churchwell, local coordinator for TU's Alpine Triangle campaign, says:
Trout Unlimited has teamed up with Field and Stream magazine to highlight some of the "Best Wild Places" in the West.  F&S is the nation's largest sportsmen's magazine with over 2.5 million monthly readers.  The Alpine Triangle is one of six locations where the Best Wild Places tour stopped to showcase the amazing sportsmen's opportunities while touching on the work TU is doing to protect these special places.
Check out "Best Wild Places" in Field & Stream here.  
On this main page you'll find the photo galleries with commentary, which are a lot of fun.  Also, you'll see TU's six locations listed here.  Click on the Alpine Triangle in the "choose a location" section to read the blogs of each day's adventures.  The actual paper edition of F&S, with the full story, will appear in the December/January issue, which comes out around December 1st.
We had an absolute blast doing this tour!!  The fishing was fabulous, the scenery unbeatable and the Alpine Loop OHV roads were something none of the F&S participants expected to enjoy as much as they did.  For those of us who know this resource well, we knew the Alpine Triangle was going to blow these guys away...and it did!   
Furthermore, we now have a Facebook page for the Alpine Loop campaign.  If you're on Facebook, please visit the page and join us as a "fan."
Watch a TU video about the Alpine Triangle campaign: