"For every one good thing, the immortals deliver to men two evils. Men who are as children cannot take this becomingly. But the manly do, turning the brightness outward.” Pindar
1. Your help needed to prevent another East Bay fire
2. When does the shoe fit? Chuang Tzu tells you
3. Timidity by the Goldman Prize
4. Feedback: non-receipt of emails/punctuation--and those commas
5. Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path To Prosperity - one of the consequences of the financial crisis has been the squashing of any convincing conversation about everything that caused it
6. Celebrate dynamic food web of estuary, tidal lagoon, and shellmounds of Lake Merritt
7. Koyaanisqatsi - life out of balance/Robert Redford on America
8. Touching story of orphaned duckling/charismatic megafauna
9. Exploring Botswana & Namibia at Ted Kipping’s potluck May 28
10. Richard Wagner born 200 years ago yesterday/man in history and nature
1. Claremont Canyon Conservancy
We're on Our Way but an Extra Push Needed to Remove the Eucalyptus from Claremont Canyon
Many of you have written to the Federal Emergency Management Agency or spoke at the three hearings last week in support of the Environmental Impact Statement to enable funding for euc removal in Claremont Canyon. Thank you.
There is one other important thing you can do.
Please Sign Our Petition
As a follow up to our message last week supporting the draft environmental impact statement to reduce the risk of fire in the east bay hills through removal of eucalyptus, we have created an online petition. Just click on http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/support-east-bay-hills?source=c.url&r_by=1603797
(You can review the EIS at the Rockridge Library or by going to the FEMA website,
Make Sure FEMA Knows You Want the EIS Approved
Please voice your strong support to FEMA to approve the EIS and release the funds so the University can proceed to cut down the eucs.
Write a letter or email the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and urge them to approve the EIS as is and release the funds. Send it
• via email to FEMA at EBH-EIS-FEMA-RIX@fema.dhs.gov,
• via fax to FEMA: (510) 627-7147, or
• via mail to FEMA, P.O. Box 72379, Oakland, CA 94612-8579.
For a sample letter and talking points, please go to our website,
For a sample letter and talking points, go to our website, http://claremontcanyon.org/ccc_from_the_board.php and scroll down.
For a summary of all of the Conservancy's current activities, please see the home page of our website: www.claremontcanyon.org.
On May 18, 2013, at 1:18 PM, a reader wrote:
hi Jake -- request posting this action alert:
FEMA Cutting down 85,000 trees in Berkeley and Oakland
FEMA is going to destroy and pollute the natural ecosystems in the East Bay Hills behind Berkeley and Oakland by cutting-down 85,000+ trees (The link in the article says much more around half a million trees) and using highly toxic herbicides because they think it is a fire hazard.
Dear (Name withheld): You surprise me. I assume these trees slated for removal are the Tasmanian blue gums that were so heavily implicated in the 1991 fire. This is exactly the sort of thing FEMA should do, which is to prevent future disasters, not pony up the money after people’s lives and property have been destroyed. We are no longer rich enough to spend tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to clean up preventable messes, such as floods in floodplains that should never have been built on, or dwellings inside forests, or at high tideline. You get the picture. And what’s this about natural ecosystems? Hello?
And your phrase “highly toxic herbicides” is emotive. Toxic to whom or what? To the target, which is what is intended. The herbicides generally used are designed to work along highly specific pathways, and are not necessarily toxic to other organisms. For example, the widely used glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup) is designed to kill all plants it is applied to. Another widely used herbicide is triclopyr which works along different pathways from glyphosate. It kills only broadleaf plants (dicotyledons) and doesn’t kill monocotyledons, which include grasses, lilies, irises, orchids, bananas, &c. That is a boon to restorationists, as it allows them to kill broadleaf plants in grasslands without hurting the grasses. Other herbicides are designed to kill the Compositae, the sunflower family.
Your anxieties are unwarranted, and it would be helpful if you dealt with facts. Glyphosate, eg, is absorbed by the plant and nothing happens until the plant translocates the glyphosate to the roots, where it interferes with the plant’s ability to produce an amino acid essential to plant growth. Without that amino acid (which, btw, does not occur in animals, so it probably doesn’t even affect animals), the plant dies. That is a really good product and a very useful one if used properly. Herbicides can be restorationists' friends.
There is a lot of pseudoscientific stuff out there. The alarmist stuff you read has not been scientifically vetted, and it can’t stand up to scrutiny. I doubt that UC is trying to sneak this past the public; they know better than that; there is no way it can elude the public. And you’re right, there will be a massive outpouring against the cutting. That only proves that they are short on information and understanding, and long on emotion. What else is new?
There’s much more to be said, but I don’t have time.
The trees in Strawberry and Claremont Canyon have been there for decades and hardly constitute a "hazard." But pouring 1400 gallons of herbicide on the currently pristine hills will create a real hazard, and UC Berkeley even plans to use the highly toxic herbicide "Roundup" to squelch the return of non-native vegetation.
Herbicides are not "poured"; they are painted sparingly onto the cambium layer of a cut stump so as to kill the roots. Herbicides are expensive and there is great care taken to not apply more than is necessary. The herbicide is applied to the thin cambium/phloem layer, the outer layer of the stump, just beneath the bark. It is absorbed and translocated through the phloem to the roots to effect kill. Economical, efficient and harmless, and it allows the native vegetation that supports our wildlife to come back. There is no non-target damage.
You seem to have forgotten October 20, 1991, and don't understand the word 'pristine'. If that canyon is pristine, then I'm Robert Redford.
When the Shoe Fits
Ch'ui the draftsman
Could draw more perfect circles freehand
Than with a compass.
His fingers brought forth
Spontaneous forms from nowhere. His mind
Was meanwhile free and without concern
With what he was doing.
No application was needed
His mind was perfectly simple
And knew no obstacle.
So, when the shoe fits
The foot is forgotten,
When the belt fits
The belly is forgotten,
When the heart is right
"For" and "against" are forgotten.
No drives no compulsions,
No needs, no attractions:
Then your affairs
Are under control.
You are a free man.
Easy is right. Begin right
And you are easy.
Continue easy and you are right.
The right way to go easy
Is to forget the right way
And forget that the going is easy.
~ Chuang Tzu ~
(In the Dark Before Dawn, trans. Thomas Merton)
The 2013 Awards for Environmental Political Correctness, aka the Goldman Environmental Prizes, were announced today. Not once in the 24 year history of the Prize's history - and during which the world population has grown from 5 billion to 7.1 billion - has the Goldman family had the courage to bestow an award for family planning. By turning a blind eye to this glaring but politically sensitive need, they have made the efforts of today's awardees more futile because of it.
On May 21, 2013, at 7:36 PM, Michael Sullivan wrote (regarding not receiving emailed newsletters):
Anyway, sometimes when something doesn't arrive, you don't think to wonder why it isn't showing up. I guess that was my situation. Anyway, very glad that I'll be getting your lucid prose once again.
I too stopped receiving emails for almost a year, I think, but figured you wanted people to access Nature News directly. I’m not very interested in searching the internet, and appreciate getting this in my in-box.
For the record, I am not trying to steer people to my blogsite; I like the email version better, and Google is hard to work with. Purpose of the blogsite is to give people a choice--and to allow people to unsubscribe without the need to apologize.
On May 21, 2013, at 6:29 PM, Pete Klosterman wrote:
I have had similar problems with emails between me and both my father and brother; I tracked the problem down because it was important to have this communication and it was easy to check whether emails were being delivered, via old fashioned phone calls.
In both cases it was overactive spam detectors, on the part of my and my relatives' ISPs, not their personal computers. After several complaints, it appears that my ISP's spam detector has been partially disabled; now I receive more spam than I would like but haven't been aware of disappearing family emails.
I'd be glad to share my experience with others, if that would help.
Thanks for your response, Pete. I suspected this was the case. Question: If they reject one email from me, they seem to reject all emails from me. How do I reach the party to ask them to turn down his/her spam detector?
I just finished reading the NY Times article (cited below, from Lennie Roberts) about commas and other punctuation matters. Immediately after reading I received your email with exemplary commas, apostrophes, and plurals. Thank you, thank you, Pete. It’s nice to know there are still a few people in the world concerned with ability to communicate.
I make no claims that my experience is universal, but based on that experience, fixing blockage of emails required action on the part of the recipient. They need to contact their ISP and complain; it helps a lot to be able to identify the exact time that the blocked email was sent. It also helps if the complaint is within a day or so of the blockage, since the ISP's logs roll over and are archived, making them more difficult to search.
I'd be glad to work with people who are seeing the blockage in their email accounts.
(I decided not to pursue this spam detector question further, for lack of time. However, I will post warnings from time to time that this happens, and that readers must let me know if newsletters are not arriving.)
On May 21, 2013, at 12:12 PM, Lenore Roberts wrote:
Hi Jake, I so loved the title that I bought the book: "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves".
Here's a very long NY Times article that will amuse you I'm sure:
Lennie: I love being reminded on occasion that there are other folks who care about clarity and ability to communicate. So often I have the feeling I’m the only one left in the world who cares. I know this isn’t true, but that’s the feeling I experience after reading so much garbled syntax and punctuation. So thanks to you and others who remind me that I’m not alone.
5. Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path To Prosperity, by Andrew Simms – review by John Harris
An economy based on renewable energy, zero growth and a shorter working week might sound outrageous, but such ideas are hardly new
...the long aftermath of the economic crash looks to have left precious little room for such ideas, instead pointing up the irony that one of the consequences of the financial crisis has been the squashing of any convincing conversation about everything that caused it, and what it actually means.
Perhaps this is down to the incremental, drily pragmatic nature of democratic politics; perhaps it's just reflective of capitalism being capitalism, so that anything hostile to its interests is quickly neutralised. Whichever it is, while inequality is widening, glaciers are still melting and what passes for British debate about it seems laughable. On a bad day, it can seem as if the entirety of politics now rotates around a quarterly event: the release of the provisional figure for economic growth, or the lack of it.
The economist, campaigner and author Andrew Simms works in a rather different universe, accessible via the offices of the New Economics Foundation. He is most renowned for Tescopoly, his book about the rise of the titular retail giant, and his subsequent invention of the concept of "clone towns". But Cancel the Apocalypse is much more ambitious: a treatise on why the human race cannot go on as it is, and what we might be able to do by way of an alternative. In addressing what the political-economic vernacular calls sustainability, it takes in the banking system, energy generation, the global air-travel business, meat-eating and more – along with such tangential reference points as the psychedelic rock band Hawkwind, Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos and Doris Lessing's The Memoirs of a Survivor. It is a breathless, quotation-packed work, light years from anything to do with orthodox politics, which suggests someone unpacking the entire contents of their head: it's probably about 100 pages too long, and best read at the rate of a chapter every few days.
Yet Simms's talent for casting gigantic issues in pleasingly human terms is clear, and proved by his evocation of the five or so days in 2010 when the ash from an Icelandic volcano shut down European airspace. He describes staring into the unblemished blue from Kew Gardens, and realising what was afoot: "Flying was something we thought we couldn't live without, [but] the world did not come to a standstill." He is also keen to push his arguments into new territories, as evidenced by what turns out to be the book's unexpected highlight: a chapter on advertising and PR, and the extent to which they work as the free market's multicoloured telescreen. And he has facts galore. The county of Cornwall alone, he says, has to dispose of 4,000 tonnes of junk mail every year – "500 dustcarts' worth, costing them around £700,000". If you consider left-field the idea of slowing down the capitalist machine via a ban on billboard advertising, it's worth bearing in mind that it has already been done in Vermont, Maine, Hawaii and Alaska.
No one will agree with every word. For my own part, I was maddened by Simms's complete hostility to nuclear power. A lot of what he writes is open to an obvious enough criticism: that his arguments should probably be addressed at China, India and Brazil rather than a small and increasingly insignificant corner of northern Europe. But there is a joy in reading someone setting out the case for such unmentionables as a 21-hour working week and an economy that runs wholly on renewables. Moreover, when you have set the book down and pondered its essential message, you are left with an entire mindset rather than specific proposals.
Consume less, he says. Be sceptical about new technology. Slow down. And do not fall for the modern political class's post-Blair belief that history is bunk, and to draw on the past is to be a hopeless throwback: it is only a comparative blink since the second world war found millions of people reshaping their lives in the cause of a common endeavour, and the same thing could yet happen again.
And then there is the fetish of growth, or rather growth-ism. As Simms points out, the idea that economies necessarily have their limits was being voiced when capitalism was still young: in 1848, John Stuart Mill argued that "a stationary condition of capital and population implies no stationary state of human improvement". A century and a half later, Adair Turner, a former director of the CBI, told Simms that if anyone thinks "the most important objective of public policy is to get growth from 1.9 per cent to 2 per cent and even better 2.1 per cent", they're worshipping a "false god", and "extra growth does not automatically translate into extra human welfare and happiness".
These are pretty ordinary thoughts, but ones that the dull noise coming from Westminster renders almost exotic – and essential.
Guardian Weekly 29.03.13
6. A Place for Sustainable Living
An evening of Stories, Food, and Jazz to celebrate the dynamic food web of the estuary, tidal lagoon, and ancient shellmounds of Lake Merritt!
Thursday the 23rd of May from 7-9pm
Resurrection Lutheran Church (View)
397 Euclid Ave
Oakland, CA 94610
Go to Google Maps
Rebecca Tuden ~ Watershed Specialist, City of Oakland
Dr. Richard Bailey ~ Lake Merritt Institute
Damon Tighe ~ Macro Photographer
Constance Taylor ~ Wild Oakland
Dr. Katie Noonan ~ Oakland High School
Live Jazz with Formless Heights and organic food by Grace Hearth
A few facts about the lake:
1. Lake Merritt is estuarine; a mix of fresh and salt water.
2. Lake Merritt is not human made it was formed thousands of years ago.
3. Lake Merritt is the nations oldest federal wildlife refuge.
4. The lake is a climate buffer which moderates Oakland temperatures.
More Info @ foodwebstories.com
“Modern people are on the world, not in it; they have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them, but are undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.” John Muir
Screening of Godfrey Reggio’s film with live performance by the Philip Glass Ensemble
Sunday, May 26, 7pm
Davies Symphony Hall
Philip Glass’ score for Godfrey Reggio’s documentary parable about “life out of balance” swings gloriously from dizzying to contemplative; to experience it live is a profoundly moving event. Koyaanisqatsi was so powerful and instantly iconic when it premiered thirty years ago, that it radically changed the visual and musical faces of film, music, television and advertising. The music carries “such a sense of momentum that there were times when it felt as though the music were moving the images and that the film was a living organism.” –Los Angeles Times
Robert Redford on America
The writer-director uses Cannes press conference to say that the US has lost its way since the second world war, and that rampant development must be controlled
"Certain things have got lost," said Redford. "Our belief system had holes punched in it by scandals that occurred, whether it was Watergate, the quiz show scandal, or Iran-Contra; it's still going on…Beneath all the propaganda is a big grey area, another America that doesn't get any attention; I decided to make that the subject of my films."
Redford, now 76, also had critical words for the US's never-ending drive for economic and technological development, which he considers has been a damaging force.
"We are in a dire situation; the planet is speaking with a very loud voice. In the US we call it Manifest Destiny, where we keep pushing and developing, never mind what you destroy in your wake, whether its Native American culture or the natural environment.
"I've also seen the relentless pace of technological increase. It's getting faster and faster; and it fascinates me to ask: how long will it go on before it burns out."
Redford suggested this All Is Lost, which concentrates on a single man's struggle to survive at sea after his boat is damaged and loses all power, could be seen as a counterweight. "This film is about having none of that: all you have is a man, a boat and the weather, nothing but the elements. That's it."
Guardian Weekly 24.05.13
All Is Lost – first look
Review: JC Chandor's drama of survival at sea features an impressive – and largely non-speaking – performance from Robert Redford, but is a little too pared-down for its own good
8. Orphaned duck
On May 22, 2013, at 10:32 AM, karen benzel wrote:
Hi Jake, here is a local story that your readers may like. Thought I would send and see if you agree. best, k
Karen: I will post the URL.
I have ambivalent feelings about this kind of thing--and nobody can resist a little duckling, particularly an orphan. We all love a heartwarming story once in awhile to counterbalance the horrors we experience. At the same time, stories like this reinforce the charismatic megafauna syndrome, the cute, fuzzy stuff, while we ignore the millions of tiny, ugly, perhaps repulsive creatures and organisms that are as essential--possibly more so--than the warm fuzzies. You can’t cuddle with a slime mold, a scorpion, or a pathogenic bacteria, but they have their essential roles to play. I don't expect to see that wisdom in my lifetime, but it would be to our benefit to recognize the way the world works, rather than indulge our self-centered fantasy.
I recall a conversation I had with an ecologist working for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. FWS was developing a Recovery Plan for an endangered species, and it was a very controversial project involving a private property owner. The ecologist, describing the steps in the project, remarked "…but how can you get them to understand reintroducing pathogens and parasites?"
This, alas, gives insight into the difficulties we have created by operating as if only the top predator--us--matters, and that our needs override the needs of the other organisms that support the structure we depend on.
Ted Kipping pot luck/slide shows
4th Tuesday of the month at 7 pm (slide show at 8 pm) at the San Francisco County Fair Bldg, 9th Av & Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park
Served by Muni bus lines #6, 43, 44, 66, 71, and the N-Judah Metro
*Please bring your own plates & flatware as well as a dish & beverage to serve 8 people
MAY 28 GERALD CORSI EXPLORING BOTSWANA & NAMIBIA
10. Richard Wagner born 200 years ago yesterday--22 May 1813
The following is an excerpt from "Richard Wagner -- The Continuing Appeal" by Andrew Porter, published in SF Opera Magazine (June 1999 Ring Festival). The writer is recalling a violent thunderstorm he experienced in the Bavarian Alps at the time of attending a cycle of the Wagner Ring, which is set along the Rhine River.
"The point of these reminiscences is twofold. First, as a reminder that the Ring is set in the real world, in landscapes that Wagner knew -- the world we still live in. Centuries later, we have changed some of its features. We've built factories on the banks of the river; we've bridged it; we've poured poison into its waters. But the river (as T.S. Eliot put it), although 'almost forgotten by the dwellers in cities,' although 'unhonored, unpropitiated by worshippers of the machine,' remains 'untamed and intractable...implacable. Keeping his winter seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder / Of what men choose to forget.' The Italians were reminded of that when the Arno, which normally trickles as a sluggish stream through Florence, suddenly rose some years ago to devastate the famous city. Productions of the Ring that neglect the strong flow of the Rhine -- and most of the ten or so productions that I've seen have neglected it -- neglect one of the things that give the Ring its continuing appeal: that sense of placing ephemeral man, whatever his all-consuming concerns of a particular moment may be, in a world that is older than he is, a world that will continue after man has ceased to be a part of it. The Ring is about individuals in society, about man among men. It is also about man in history, and man in nature."