I spent last weekend in a blind in Central Washington looking for wolves. A new pack has moved into the Teanaway River Valley, but the howlers never showed themselves to us. Still, I did get to read Bill McKibben’s latest book Oil and Honey. The setting—beautiful, semi-wild, and quiet but for the occasional honk of a bull elk—was perfect for reading the book, which is a braided discussion of Bill’s frenetic life leading 350.org and his apprenticeship to a slow-and-steady beekeeper in his home state of Vermont.
It may not be his greatest book, but everything Bill writes is worth reading. What’s flabbergasting to me is that he somehow found time to write it at all while maintaining the most grueling travel and speaking schedule imaginable. (However much you’re doing for our collective future, you’ll feel inspired to do more by the example he sets.) Here’s a taste:
Every time I went to D.C., I felt like I was visiting the cashier at the front of the store. That’s the obvious place to start when you’ve got a problem—maybe she can solve it for you. But if not, going to her for help year after year is just perverse; at a certain point you’ve got to take your problem to the manager in the backroom and demand what you need. Congress is the cashier. ExxonMobil, the Koch brothers, and Peabody Energy are the big boys. That’s who we were gearing up to go after now.
Not much for pet-blogging, I nonetheless found myself weirdly intrigued by this post on “predator-friendly ranching.” It covers the finer points of dispatching dogs to guard sheep from coyotes.
Of course, shutdowns can’t last forever. Maybe even now, as you’re reading this sentence, the shutdown is over. When it ends, cable’s talking heads will distribute “points” to each “side” based on public perception. Polls will be taken. Wrists will be slapped. Victory speeches will be given. But the shutdown isn’t even the real story. The truth is so much worse.
Ezra Klein’s 13 reasons why Washington is failing is one of the rare examples of the genre that’s actually worth reading, in part because he makes some non-obvious points sharply.
In a related development, psychiatrists are growing concerned about one segment of the American public.
Yet the US is not home to all the world’s lousy politicians, and it is with a sense of comfort that I return to the ample bosom of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, agile quarterback and a veritable Magellan of corridors.
If you haven’t been following Knute Berger’s series on the history of urbanism in Seattle, you should carve out some dedicated time to absorb it. In his latest installment he tackles the advent of the car, illustrating the sense of privilege and carelessness that it conferred (and that is still in evidence today). I hope I’m not giving too much away by quoting from it:
The Times editor’s account of his Locomobile ride was more than just fun though. It also foreshadowed the problems Seattle would come to have with cars. In passing, he wrote of running over a pesky dog, which was “spread out over several square feet of the state of Washington.” He and the dealer sped away.
“There is something in the feeling that overcomes one when he gets up in his high car, and knows that, by the slightest touch, he can go like the wind,” a 1906 Seattle Times editorial explained, “which deprives the ordinary man of all sense of judgment and caution.” Being interrupted from that reverie by reality, the piece continued, produces a sense of disgust for anyone—traffic cops, pedestrians, pets—spoiling “the beautiful dream.”
It’s one of Berger’s better pieces, in my opinion.
Finally, I’d urge readers to check out Where is Your Plan B?. It’s a hard look at the spotty implementation of a policy—the FDA’s recent approval of over-the-counter sale of an emergency contraception—and what it means for women’s health. I especially recommend Sarah Mirk’s linked pieces about secret shopping for Plan B in Portland and Native American activists fighting for access to Plan B.
Don’t miss David Frum’s Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Political Parties.
(And while we’re on sevens, a refresher on the seven foods that we should try to buy organic.)
Finally, mainstream news outlets like the LA Times are swearing off the practice of giving climate deniers any ink time.
I don’t have much financial clout (or, like, any at all), so I appreciate Grist’s guide to divesting from fossil fuels, no matter the size of your piggy bank.
Finally, for a breath of fresh air: Bill Moyers’ interview with Wendell Berry.