Monthly Archives: December 2011

How easily, mindlessly, have we learned to kill 800 year old living beings…

… and this time even in the name of green energy! Only fools would object to such wanton destruction in the name of sustainable climate friendly energy projects, we are told. Be a fool, feel for the silent ancient Mojave yucca, and weep with me…


A BrightSource contractor working on the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station in California’s Mojave Desert kills a Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera) that was likely between 400-800 years old.

This video is posted under Fair Use provisions of US copyright laws, as a means of exposing activities by BrightSource that contravene that company’s agreements and obligations to protect the fragile desert wildlife on the site it is now bulldozing.

The BLM recently reported that they expect as many as 140-150 tortoises to be found on the 4,000-acre site. If BrightSource is breaking its promises to transplant and preserve ancient desert plants, how can we trust what they’re doing with the tortoises?

Imagine if this were a more charismatic plant, say a similar-aged Redwood or Sequoia tree – would you weep then? Would you be outraged?

Stephen Fry & friends on the life, loves and hates of Christopher Hitchens


Irritant as Hitchens was to people on the right and the left, he sure was hard to ignore. Much as I wish he hadn’t lost his head over Iraq and the “clash of civilizations” in the MIddle East, I am glad he went after many holier cows from Kissinger to Mother Teresa. This celebration of his life is particularly illuminating to listen to for the gentle way that Stephen Fry probed Rushdie about the possible origin of the particularly sharp animus Hitch had for the Islamic countries. Forty-five minutes well spent listening to quite the array of intellectuals speak of their relationship with Hitch… I’m glad we get to listen in.

Using deep-sea bioluminescent bacteria to illuminate pollution in estuarine waters

Promising tale of a new approach developed by Dr. Edith Widder to detect and monitor pollution in estuaries and marine ecosystems. Also illustrates how basic science – in this case, exploring the wonders of the deep dark ocean – can help shed light on the very applied problem of pollution. Do read the story accompanying this video in the New York Times.

So the Iraq war is over, you say? Well… let’s not forget the History of Oil

As my American friends celebrate / breathe a sigh of relief at the announcement today that the US war on Iraq is finally officially over, I can’t help but go back to this brilliant history lesson (which I have posted here before):


So what of the American Plan to Bring Democracy to the Middle East? Well, the war may be officially over, but don’t lose heart, not yet… just have a look at this map, for this is what the “end” of a war looks like now:


Now welcome the weary broken American troops back home from their multiple long stints in Iraq (let’s not think about their Iraqi counterparts); dust them off, patch them up, replenish their ranks, and let’s get them back out there. There is much Democracy yet to be brought to many a thirsty, hungry, desperate (but rich in oil or other resources) corner of this world!

Enjoy the peace, my American friends…


Will the world’s leaders finally “Get It Done” after Anjali Appadurai’s mic-check at the UN Climate Change Conference?


Powerful call to act from the young woman which ought to shame the world’s leaders into doing what they must, for her and future generations. But, we all know, don’t we? Most of the world’s so-called “leaders” (especially those from the US and other wealthy and high carbon footprint nations) have no shame! They will continue to bow down to immediate political expediency and pressure from their corporate overlords to keep selling those future generations down the river (and the rising seas) to protect short-term profits.

So it is up to us, to carry forward Anjali’s mic-check and take up her call to ask our “leaders” to “GET IT DONE”!! Or get it done ourselves – starting with throwing these bums and their corporations out of the positions of power they currently wield!

Because forgetting is another kind of extinction…


Another documentary to look out for…

Once, flocks of over 1 billion passenger pigeons darkened the skies for days. By 1900, a 14-year-old boy shot the last one. How did this happen?

The Lost Bird Project is a documentary about the stories of five birds driven to extinction in modern times and sculptor Todd McGrain’s project to memorialize them. The film follows McGrain as he searches for the locations where the birds were last seen in the wild and negotiates for permission to install his large bronze sculptures there.

McGrain’s aim in placing the sculptures is to give presence to the birds where they are now so starkly absent. “These birds are not commonly known,” he says, “and they ought to be, because forgetting is another kind of extinction. It’s such a thorough erasing.”

McGrain’s passion for form is apparent when he speaks of the physicality of a life of sculpting. “Touch is literally the way we come in contact with the world.” The memorials are not naturalistic works of biological detail, McGrain’s intention is to create shapes that capture the presence of the birds, to make them personal and palpable, to remind us of their absence.

Travelling all the way from the tropical swamps of Florida to the rocky coasts of Newfoundland, McGrain scouts locations, talks to park rangers and speaks at town meetings in an effort to gather support for his project. His memorials now stand in the places where the birds once socialized, courted and fed their young — a testament to what we have lost and a reminder to preserve what we have left.

The film is an elegy to the five birds and a thoughtful and sometimes humorous look at the artist and his mission. The Lost Bird Project is a film about public art, extinction and memory