Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wallace Stegner on 'being Green'

I searched for a quote by Wallace Stegner and found it at the beginning of an essay by him which is titled "Thoughts in a Dry Land."

The Quote:  "You have to get over the color green, you have to quit associating beauty with gardens and lawns, you have to get used to an inhuman scale."

I also found this:

Behind the pragmatic, manifest destinarian purpose of pushing western settlement was another motive: the hard determination to dominate nature that historian Lynn White, in the essay "Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis," identified as part of our Judeo-Christian heritage.  Nobody implemented that impulse more uncomplicartedly than the Mormons. a chosen people who believed the Lord when He told them to make the desert bloom as the rose.  Nobody expressed it more bluntly than a Mormon hierarch, John Widtsoe, in the middle of the irrigation campaign:  "The destiny of man is to possess the whole earth;  the destiny of the earth is to be subject to man.There can be no full conquest of the earth, no real satisfaction to humanity, if large portions of the earth remain beyond his highest control."  (Success on Irrigation Projects, p. 138)
That doctrine offends me to the bottom of my not-very-Christian soul.  It is related to the spirit that builds castles of incongruous luxury in the desert.  It is the same spirit that between 1910 and the present has so dammed, diverted, used,  and reused the Colorado River that its saline waters now never reach the Gulf of California, but die in the sand miles from the sea;  that has set the Columbia, a far mightier river, to tamely turning turbines;  that has reduced the Missouri, the greatest river on the continent, to a string of ponds;  that has recklessly pumped down the water table of every western valley and threatens to dry up even so prolific a source as the Ogalalla Aquifer;  that has made the Salt River Valley of Arizona and the Imperial, Coachella, and great Central valleys of California into gardens of fabulous but deceptive richness;  that has promoted a new rush to the West fated, like the beaver and grass and gold rushes, to recede after doing great environmental damage. 
The Garden of the World has been a glittering dream, and many find its fulfillment exhilarating.  I do not.  I have already said that I think of the main-stem dams that made it possible as original sin, but there is neither a serpent nor a guilty first couple in the story.  In Adam's fall we sinned all.  Our very virtues as a pioneering people, the very genius of our industrial civilization, drove us to act as we did.  God and Manifest Destiny spoke with one voice urging us to "conquer" or "win" the West;  and there was no voice of comparable authority to remind us of th Mary Austin's quiet but profound truth, that "the manner of the country makes the image of life there, and the land will not be lived in except in its own fashion." 
Obviously, reclamation is not the panacea it once seemed.  Plenty of people... are opposed to more dams, and there is plenty of evidence against the long-range viability and the social and environmental desirability of large-scale irrigation agriculture.  Nevertheless, millions of Americans continue to think of water engineering in the West as one of our proudest achievements, a technology that we should export to backward Third World nations to help them become as we are.  We go on praising apples as if eating them were an injunction of the Ten Commandments."
"Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs." (p. 86-87)

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lake Mead is drying up. So?

Lake Mead has lost 150 feet of water in the last 14 years.

Lake Mead is  80 years old.  Only the fools who built it did not know that it could not last forever.

Lake Mead was opened AFTER I was born.

America and its people lived without Lake Mead for the first 159 years of the nation.

Let's try that again.
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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

While waiting for the End Times



During  Spring Break of 2015 thousands of young people attended various cities in Florida, the state in which I reside.  I know this because the newspapers and TV stations report on the event and they summarize the financial results.
For example, Fort Lauderdale is reported to have taken in $110 million dollars.  Panama City Beach earned $92 million dollars.  So it goes.
We can assume, I suppose, that these kids have no problem paying off their student loans if they can party for two weeks.
And as for the girl (young woman?) who passed out in the sand in  mid-afternoon at Panama City Beach and was gang-raped amid the crowd, she should not be too ashamed.  It seems that hardly anyone noticed.
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The other day a satirist pointed out that if you torture a chicken you risk arrest.  If you abuse hundreds of thousand of chickens for their entire lives, that's agribusiness.
                                    
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3rd Infantry's 1st Brigade Combat Team has been assigned to the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or man-made emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

Northern Command (Northcom), a joint command was established in 2002 to provide command and control for Federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

This action was in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which prohibits deployment of the U. S. military inside the United States.
Here again, it seems that hardly anyone noticed.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Poem for Earth Day

The Future of Forestry

by C. S. Lewis

How will the legend of the age of trees
feel when the last tree falls in England?
When the concrete spreads and the town conquers
the country's heart:  when contraceptive
tarmac's laid where farm has faded,
tramline flows where slept a hamlet,
and shop-fronts, blazing without a stop from
Dover to Wrath, have glazed us over?
Simplest tales will then bewilder
the questioning children,  "What was a chestnut?
Say what it means to climb a Beanstalk.
Tell me, grandfather, what an elm is.
What was Autumn?  They never taught us."
Then, told by teachers how once from mould
came growing creatures of lower nature
able to live and die, though neither
beast nor man, and around them wreathing
excellent clothing, breathing sunlight-
half understanding, their ill-acquainted
fancy will tint their wonder-paintings,
trees as men walking, wood-romances
of goblins staalking in silky green,
of milk-sheen froth upon the face of hawthorn's
collar, pallor in the face of a birchgirl.
So shall a homeless time, though dimly,
catch from afar (for soul is watchful)
a sight of tree-delighted Eden.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

John Burroughs on Walking

"We are unwilling walkers.  We are not innocent and simple hearted enough to enjoy a walk.  We have fallen from that state of grace which capacity to enjoy a walk implies.  It cannot be said that as a people we are so positively sad or morose or melancholic as that we are vacant of that sportiveness and surplussage of animal spirits that characterized our ancestors, and that springs from full and harmonious life - a sound heart in accord with a sound body.  A man must invest himself near at hand and in common things, and be content with a steady and moderate return, if he would know the blessedness of a cheerful heart and the sweetness of a walk over the round earth.  This is a lesson the American has yet to learn - capability of amusement on a low key.  He expects rapid and extraordinary returns.  He would make the very elemental laws pay usury.  He has nothing to invest in a walk;  it is too slow, too cheap.  We crave the astonishing, the exciting, the far away, and do not know the highways of the gods when we see them - always a sign of the decay of the faith and simplicity of man."

from:  John Burroughs' America
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Where my mind is these days

I was driving to a nearby mall to make some necessary purchases but my mind was addressing the use of the phrase 'moral equivalence.'   Too often I find it seems to mean that our killers are not as evil as someone else's killers.
I parked the car, got out, and stood by the trunk.  I turned my shopping list over and made some notes with a pencil stub I carry with me.  Since when does morality require a test of validity?  Is there a registry of values to be applied to  morality?  And if there is...#*&+!

Suddenly a beetle the size of a penny landed  on the tiny paper list I was using.  Impatiently, I flicked it away with a finger.  Instantly I felt remorse.  What if, I thought, that beetle came with a message for me, for my thought.   What made it land on that little paper scrap at the point of my pencil?   What have I done?

Yes, this is a fair description of my daily confusion.  Trying to navigate between old age and living in a culture extremely different from the one I was formed by.  A ceaseless  grasping for mental handholds.
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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Faith versus Atheism

I observe that people who have powerful faith do better at survival and they have more useful responses to a cruel world.
They may be delusional but that is trumped by successful living.
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