Posts Tagged ‘The Sixth Extinction’

An All-Inclusive Church

January 17, 2017

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.”  So I was delighted when the BBC read this the other night.  It is posted on the Hereford Diocese Inclusive Church, England, among others.

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, confused, filthy rich, comfortable, or dirt poor. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rake or could afford to lose a few pounds. You’re welcome if you are Old Leigh, New Leigh, Not Leigh, or just passing by.

We welcome you if you can sing like Pavarotti or can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing,’ just woke up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury, or haven’t been in church since little Jack’s christening.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome keep-fit mums, football dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like ‘organised religion.’ We’ve been there too!

If you blew all your money on the horses, you’re welcome here. We offer a welcome to those who think the earth is flat, ‘work too hard,’ don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost on the London Road and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts… and you!

Seen Today

bobcatI was in my bedroom (second floor, with a view of the relatively animal-less hillside beyond), and was so excited to see a bobcat ambling down said hillside.  I grabbed my camera, but there is a dreadful block wall behind, so all I got her his/her ears and back.  To think that I had them lounging on my back patios at the last house.  (Google bobcat notesfromthewest, and set it to Images and you’ll see a lot of the shots of bobcats I’ve taken over the past five or so years, with other miscellaneous photos from those same blogs.)

Reading

obama-booksCan’t remember if it was on NPR or in the NY Times, but it was mentioned that President Obama read books late into the night.  (Photo of President Obama reading “Where the Wild Things Are” to children at the White House in 2014. Doug Mills/The New York Times.) This wasn’t the article, but it mentions three books that I have read1:

And most every night in the White House, he would read for an hour or so late at night — reading that was deep and ecumenical, ranging from contemporary literary fiction (the last novel he read was Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad) to classic novels to groundbreaking works of nonfiction like Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction2.

I am just finishing Our Kind of Traitor, by John Le Carre, which President Obama mentioned in the interview that I heard, along with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz, which I also “read” (listened to the audiobook version, narrated by musical maestro Lin-Manuel Miranda), although it was very strange (magical realism).  Maybe I’ll try to read more books on his list.

Then I saw this: Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon nominated for book critics award.3  I just picked up Chabon’s Moonglow from the library.  Enjoyed his The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.  And Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto.  I think we’ve all read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Ann Patchett, Michael Chabon and Zadie Smith are among the nominees for the National Book Critics Circle awards in the US…

Margaret Atwood, the Canadian author of novels including The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye, will receive a lifetime achievement prize…  The winners will be announced on 16 March.

Patchett’s Commonwealth, Chabon’s Moonglow and Smith’s Swing Time were all fiction finalists, along with Erdrich’s LaRose and Adam Haslett’s Imagine Me Gone.

So there’s more to add to my request list at the library.

Monsanto Continued

A friend emailed me this question: If they are growing genetically modified corn in green house, it should not need pesticides.  Are you concerned about fertilizer?

I answered: Watch The World According to Monsanto on youtube.  It’s way long and boring but skip to the section on corn in Mexico, 1:25:20; it’s an eye-opener.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6_DbVdVo-k

1https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/books/obamas-secret-to-surviving-the-white-house-years-books.html?_r=0
2https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jan/17/michael-chabon-zadie-smith-nominated-book-critics-award-margaret-atwood-national-book-critics-circle-
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/connect-the-dots/

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Connect the Dots

December 4, 2016

Climate change is hard to think about not only because it’s complex and politically contentious, not only because it’s cognitively almost impossible to keep in mind the intricate relationships that tie together an oil well in Venezuela, Siberian permafrost, Saudi F-15s bombing a Yemeni wedding, subsidence along the Jersey Shore, albedo effect near Kangerlussuaq, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the polar vortex, shampoo, California cattle, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, leukemia, plastic, paper, the Sixth Extinction, Zika, and the basic decisions we make every day, are forced to make every day, in a world we didn’t choose but were thrown into. No, it’s not just because it’s mind-bendingly difficult to connect the dots. Climate change is hard to think about because it’s depressing and scary.1

This is from (of course) the New York Times, a month and a half ago.  It took me a while to find the 15 connections.  I had never heard of the Sixth Extinction, so I read Elizabeth Kolbert’s book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.  Had to research the albedo effect near Kangerlussuaq, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the polar vortex, shampoo.  So a challenge to you too.

You might also like to read the entire article, entitled When the Next Hurricane Hits Texas.  Great photo from the hurricane in 2008.

hurricane

The Worst Word in the English Language

…the website of Oxford Dictionaries called off its search for the worst word in the English language before I got a chance to have my say. When the survey was halted — the Oxford folks said that too many people were sending in offensive or insulting words — the word “moist” was in the lead…

I no longer think that the word I most dread in the English language is “maintenance.” That realization came to me not long ago, when I was in my car, by myself, at a red light. Ordinarily, I would have been thinking about the points and plugs of my car…

And here we come to the word in the English language that I now most dread: “Upgrade…”

Here’s how I imagine an upgrade to a computer operating system comes about. In the offices of a tech company in some West Coast loft building, Jason and Justin, two impossibly young-looking techies, are having a desultory conversation after finishing their 10th Ping-Pong game of the day. They’re killing time until the weekly foosball tournament starts.

“You know,” Jason says, “I think most of them are getting so they can find their calendars and their contacts pretty easily.” (“Them” is Jason’s word for grown-ups.)

“Remember how much fun it was to complicate the way to get to contacts on that smartphone we worked on?” Justin asks.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Jason replies. An expression of intense anticipation comes over their faces. They resemble the fraternity boys in “Animal House” just before someone yells “Food fight!” Suddenly, Jason and Justin shout in unison, “Upgrade!”2

I have to agree with Calvin Trillin.  (He’s an American journalist, humorist, food writer, poet, memoirist and novelist.  One of his most famous quotes is, The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.)  Read the entire article – it’s quite humorous.  And see my blog on that subject, when I upgraded.3

Cuba

I have no comment on Castro’s death.  But I do recommend that you read Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana, by Isadora Tattlin.  One of our art group recommended it, and I read it before we went to Cuba in 2012.  You can read my blogs, starting with this one: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/cuba-day-1/

Work

Shall get a pile of essays on Wednesday. (That supplements my weight training.)  My last day of school is December 16th.  Have gotten to like most of these students.  Shall I miss teaching?  Yes and no.

1http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/09/opinion/sunday/when-the-hurricane-hits-texas.html?_r=0
2
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/books/review/calvin-trillin-on-the-scariest-word.html?_r=0
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/computers/