Monthly Archives: September 2010

At least 45 beautiful reasons to vote Yes on Prop 21 to save California’s State Parks

I hope my fellow Californians (those who can vote!) will step up to the plate where our legislators have failed, and vote to pass Proposition 21, which seeks to provide a protected independent source of funding for our State Parks. The California State Park network is an excellent example of good use of the commons in this state, for the benefit of all of us – yet it is one of the first things to get cut whenever the state budget feels a pinch. While I generally don’t like this state’s proposition system much at all (why bother pretending at a representative form of government if every citizen has to vote on important matters of governance? How can people busy in the daily grind of making their own ends meet have the time and resources to make informed decisions on everything?), we’re stuck with it, and this is a good one to get behind come November

Where I’d rather be this Monday…



… not attending another faculty senate meeting, but traipsing through this meadow in full bloom under darkly brooding skies, cooling my heels in the tranquil streams, and catching the occasional cloudburst of the late monsoon!! I wish!

This and other similarly fantastic images come from Kaas, part of the Deccan Plateau in Maharashtra, India, as captured through Ganesh’s lens. Go lose yourself in the gallery, escape from your Monday afternoon blues, imagine a better world…

Here’s another image, a more intimate view of a single flower and a little bug enjoying a walk along its stalk.



A swift natural wonder in the midst of a megalopolis

If you build it, they will come – isn’t that what they say about real estate? Well, sometimes they come and find real estate (habitat) in whatever it is you may have built for entirely different purposes! Most living organisms are like that – they will try to find a way to make a living in the unlikeliest of places – and if they make it, their progeny will thrive there too! Evolution is like that too – not terribly fussy about what is “natural” or “artificial” to the human eye, but rewarding innovation and flexibility in the face of adversity when any organism finds novel ways to overcome challenges. So why is it that we humans are so slow to learn from this? Why are we insistent on “protecting” biodiversity in reservations/ghettos far from human influence, and continue to ignore those bits of biodiversity that have found ways to live among us, sometimes even thrive among us? Surely, if we pay a bit more attention, and figure out what it is that allows them to do so, we may be able to change our ways, our technologies, our architecture, just a bit to accommodate more species within the human habitats that now dominate this planet, no? How about providing more habitat for biodiversity right in our neighborhoods, not just in remote mountains, jungles, oceans?

Like the Vaux’s Swifts that take over a chimney in Los Angeles during their autumn migration through that megacity, as narrated in this radio story:


And here is a video clip accompanying the story, which I first found via Audubon California’s Facebook page:

[vimeo 15241742 w=400 h=300]

Vaux’s Swifts roosting in downtown LA building from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.


Andrew Jones’s presentation on Socio-ecological Systems

Those are the slides Andrew used for his talk in the Biology Colloquium on Friday. I have recorded audio of his talk as well, and will try to add it here ove the next few days.