Category Archives: Network

This (last couple) week(s) on the Network

My apologies for skipping a weekend in updating you on what’s been happening here at the Network. Last weekend got past me and I didn’t get around to the update. Fortunately for you, my lapse seems to have spurred my fellow to write some great blog posts over the last 14 days.

Jenn Campbell-Smith at The Corvid Blog dropped some learning on us all about the flood of baby crow impostors spreading visual misinformation throughout the cuter parts of the Internet. She would also like to inform you that The Corvid Blog has a Facebook page, which you are invited to “like,” as the parlance of social media would have it.

Our Owens Valley delegate Mike Prather at InyoOwnWay took part in a 100-Mule Walk from Independence to Los Angeles along the route of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, now celebrating its centenary. I’ve written and deleted a few versions of a capsule description of the post, each of which did Mike’s prose a disservice. Let’s just say that the mules aren’t the most mulish critters the group is encountering along the way. Go read. And what has happened to this particular LA Times reporter, anyway?

From the Green Mountain State, Charlie Hohn at Slow Water Movement is straying from his traditional water beat to talk about trees, which when you get right down to it are basically just water moving so slowly that it stands on end. In a pair of posts Charlie discusses how Vermont’s fall foliage change affects oak trees, which may not be brilliantly showy en masse but knock your socks off leaf by leaf. And then he uses them to heat his home, which can have close to no carbon footprint if you do it right, sourcing your heating fuel from local growers. There’s just something about a wood-heated house.

Over at Reconciliation Ecology, Madhu Katti has been blogging so busily over the last two weeks that I’m going to have to resort to bullet points. He has:

Meera Lee Sethi at Dispersal Range has been volunteering at UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and she has pictures. “Warning.” she says. “Almost everything you see will be dead. But I did leave out the skinned mouse floating in a bucket of water.” John McPhee fans who appreciated his “Travels in Georgia” may find themselves recalling that essay seeing these photos. Meera also slips one blatant untruth into an update on her book Mountainfit. See if you can find it.

As for me here at Coyote Crossing, I guess I’ve been busy too. Aside from political ranting on racism and feminism (and one piece not quite as ranty on the latter), I did a very fun video interview with the above-mentioned Ms. Sethi about her book, which you all should read. (Her book, I mean. You don’t have to read the interview. It’s a video.)

And I also announced the Kickstarter KCET is holding to fund my wildlife reporting work there. It’s doing well so far, but it could use your help. Donate, share, and flog, please. Thank you.

And here’s a picture of a five-week-old wolf cub. Oh, no reason.

Bob Kelly photo, Creative Commons license

Bob Kelly photo, Creative Commons license

Interview with Meera Lee Sethi, author of Mountainfit

My friend and Network colleague Meera Lee Sethi, who blogs here at Dispersal Range, wrote and crowd-funded a book called Mountainfit. Self-published at first, it was then picked up by a publisher, CCLaP Publishing, a wing of the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography.

Meera is working on what her publisher calls a “virtual book tour,” which involves a sequence of interviews posted on different blogs. Here’s Coyote Crossing’s, a video chat done with the help of Google+ hangouts.

In the conversation we talk about language and science, about expanding the dimensions of wonder with fact rather than deflating them, and about writers we like. But mainly, we talk about Mountainfit, which is simply a wonderful book about Meera Lee’s sojourn working at a Swedish bird observatory — but it’s about a whole lot more than that besides.

You’ll notice a technical issue that forced me to play cameraman: usually Google+’s hangout feature displays whoever’s talking. It wasn’t working tonight, which was likely the result of my making a settings change without intending to. Anyway, I realized it before we got too far in and coped as best I could. My apologies.

Anyway: here’s our chat. And don’t forget to visit Meera’s joint.

And especially don’t hesitate to check out Mountainfit.

This week on the Network

Over on Inyo Own Way, Mike relates with some regret how Owens Valley residents’ mistrust of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power caused them to turn down a conservation easement offer from the gargantuan public utility a decade ago. DWP has certainly given people in the Valley enough reason to mistrust them, but as a result of locals fighting the conservation easement some fine desert habitat is now slated to be paved with one million solar panels.

Jenn has a peeve. It’s kind of a cute peeve, judging by the photos. But every now and then images of tiny fluffy black birds will make their way across the internet with labels explaining that the birds are baby crows. But they are not baby crows, and the mislabeling tweaks Jenn’s sense of scientific accuracy. (I feel her pain: I have a similar peeve.) This week at The Corvid Blog Jenn explains how you can tell those cute fluffy baby black birds from actual baby crows, which are cute in their own special way.

As for me here at Coyote Crossing, I wade into the ugly fray over Danielle N. Lee’s travails with the seamy side of scientific publishing this weekend. It’s just one post down, but here’s a link for your convenience.

There’s plenty of good recent stuff on the Network from earlier this month, too: you can browse all our blogs via the list here.

This week on the Network

My esteemed fellow have been coming up with some good stuff in recent days, and so it’s time to do something I’ve been meaning to do for some time: start a weekly roundup of new posts on the Network.

First off, we’ve got a formal fundraising page up for those of you who’d like to help us out with our operating expenses here on the Network, where I explain:

We’re providing talented environmental science writers with free space here on our network. That includes not just hosting space, but cost for third-party services like backup and support. Right now Network founder Chris Clarke (that’s me!) is paying those costs out of pocket. That’s easier some months than others, and as we add new bloggers those costs will increase.

Check it out. Thus endeth the fundraising pitch.

Since this is the first such roundup post, we’ll go back more than a week. Back in mid-September over at Toad In The Hole, Ron Sullivan posted a nifty photo of a cryptic moth she found on a Bougainvillea outside her digs in Berkeley. I can’t make head nor tail of it myself.

Madhu has been busy reacclimatizing to California, moving his family, and starting his Fall semester, but he did take time to share a spectacular eagle-cam video over at his blog Reconciliation Ecology. Gorgeous. (And so why didn’t the hobbits just fly all the way to Mordor?)

At Slow Water Movement, Charlie takes a deep breath, swallows his annoyance at the inane Republican shenanigans occurring in DC, and treats us all to a bit of leaf-peeping from his viewpoint in the Green Mountains of Vermont, not so green this month so much as orange and yellow and red. Charlie provides a suggested soundtrack, too.

The Corvid Blog’s Jenn is full of surprises. Not only does she write engagingly and do public speaking with a bird on her head, but she’s also a talented visual artist, as she shows in this post on her participation in an art project/book about endangered birds. Her Mariana crow nearly leaps out of the monitor. I want a copy of that book.

At Dispersal Range, Meera Lee offers up what is likely the first in a series of Network posts touching on the shutdown of the Federal government. But her post is no polemic: it’s a paean to the importance of noticing detail, disguised as a travelog of a hike in the Sierra Nevada with a field ecologist studying conifers — especially red firs, Abies magnifica, a tree that I haven’t seen in far too long outside an arboretum. (They make vast swaths in middle-elevations in the Sierra’s conifer belt, dark and moist with chartreuse Letharia lichen and noisy chickarees.) Said field ecologist is now denied access to her study sites because they’re in National Parks. Data may well be lost. But that’s not what the post is about. Go read.

And me? Well, I complained about human-centered environmentalists last night. Big surprise, I know. I’ll be putting together a piece on the shutdown and hiking with furloughed feds in the next couple days to follow up on Meera Lee’s shutdown post. Names will be named. Not of people, of course, because who needs trouble? But there are plenty of other names.

Check all these newish posts out, then visit some of our bloggers who haven’t had time to post in a while — Shaun and Mike  and Patrick  and Basin and Range Watch — and say hello.

Another update next week.

FtBCON: Science, Skepticism, and Environmental Activism

Tonight I spoke with my Pharyngula co-blogger PZ Myers and my Network colleagues Madhu Katti and Jenn Campbell-Smith about the relationship between Science, Skepticism, and Environmental Action. Or at least that was the intended topic: We talked about a lot more than that. And Jenn had a bird on her head.

The panel discussion was part of FtBCONscience; Atheism With A Conscience — the online conference sponsored by Freethought Blogs still in progress with panels all day Sunday on a wide range of issues. Check it out!

Here’s the conversation between PZ, Madhu, Jenn and me.

Like the Network? I could use your help today.

We seem to have come up against a small denial of service attack: a site in the UK has been loading a particular file once every three seconds for the last few days, which I noticed when our web host sent me a note saying we’d already used up three quarters of our processor bandwidth for the month of July.

I think I’ve got it beaten for now, but it’s very likely the culprits — who seem to object to a couple of feminist-oriented posts here at Coyote Crossing — will end up costing me some cash at the end of the month. Not to mention the lost income from the half day I just spent trying to nail the problem to the wall.

I pay to host this site out of pocket. That’s not a long-term plan: we’re going to be looking at ways to have the site pay for itself, and hopefully even remunerate our bloggers. But for now, I’m bankrolling our network’s costs, because it’s important to me to promote good writing and discussion on biodiversity issues.

It generally costs less than I mind, but this hack attack may cut into actual living expenses.

If you’ve appreciated having the Network here, or if you’ve appreciated my writing on feminist issues when I do it, or both: I could use a bit of cash to cushion the effects of this attack. The PayPal “donate” button in the right sidebar here will do the trick. You don’t need a PayPal account to help out: just a credit card.

Thank you.

Apologies for overzealous spam software

If you’ve tried to comment here in the last few days and had the Network’s software call you bad names, I apologize. It was an overzealous piece of crap WordPress plugin that apparently banned a few regulars. I’ve taken the plugin out and shot it. It won’t be bothering you again.

In the meantime, howsabout commenting here and emailing me if you have any trouble? Thank yew.