Wednesday, October 1, 2014

John Cleese on Fox News Stupidity



Here is a wonderful short video of Monty Python alum, John Cleese eviscerating Fox News.  Cleese's theory is that in order to recognize that you are stupid, you have to be at least intelligent enough to be aware of your stupidity.. 



John Cleese


Cleese thinks the Fox news people aren't even smart enough to recognize that what they say on the air is drivel.  I think the problem with Fox News is less about stupidity and more about sociopathy,  and intellectual dishonesty..

Anyway, here is John Cleese applying his whimsical logic to Fox News... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvVPdyYeaQU





Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wild Animal Populations Collapsing Worldwide


Alarming could not be more of an understatement.  A 52 percent decline in wildlife populations in just the last 40 years.  That is the conclusion of an intense study of animal numbers by the World Wildlife Fund.   Why? A look in the mirror will give you the answer.  Human numbers have doubled to 7.3 billion in the same period, and demographers are now saying there is a 70% chance that the growth of the human population will hit nearly 11 billion before it stops.  That is an astonishing number.  It's no wonder the populations of other animal species are collapsing.

We humans are mindlessly shredding the fabric of our biosphere.  We are behaving like parasites... the kind of parasite that ultimately kills its host. 

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Taken from the Huffington Post   9/30/14

GENEVA (AP) — About 3,000 species of wildlife around the world have seen their numbers plummet far worse than previously thought, according to a new study by one of the world's biggest environmental groups.

The study Tuesday from the Swiss-based WWF largely blamed human threats to nature for a 52 percent decline in wildlife populations between 1970 and 2010.
It says improved methods of measuring populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles explain the huge difference from the 28-percent decline between 1970 and 2008 that the group reported in 2012.

Most of the new losses were found in tropical regions, particularly Latin America.

WWF describes the study it has carried out every two years since 1998 as a barometer of the state of the planet.

"There is no room for complacency," said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini, calling for a greater focus on sustainable solutions to the impact people are inflicting on nature, particularly through the release of greenhouse gases.

The latest "Living Planet" study analyzed data from about 10,000 populations of 3,038 vertebrate species from a database maintained by the Zoological Society of London. It is meant to provide a representative sampling of the overall wildlife population in the world, said WWF's Richard McLellan, editor-in-chief of the study.

It reflects populations since 1970, the first year the London-based society had comprehensive data. Each study is based on data from at least four years earlier.

Much of the world's wildlife has disappeared in what have been called five mass extinctions, which were often associated with giant meteor strikes. About 90 percent of the world's species were wiped out around 252 million years ago. One such extinction about 66 million years ago killed off the dinosaurs and three out of four species on Earth.

In the new WWF study, hunting and fishing along with continued losses and deterioration of natural habitats are identified as the chief threats to wildlife populations around the world. Other primary factors are global warming, invasive species, pollution and disease.

"This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live," said Ken Norris, science director at the London society. "There is still hope. Protecting nature needs focused conservation action, political will and support from industry."




 

 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sparks- A Bit of Cinema Magic


I have been a fan for Cirq du Soleil almost since it's beginning. We went to one of the tent shows in Los Angeles.  It was unique and beautifully realized. Terrific performers in stunning costumes that defy description. The music is also very appealing.  

Cirq du Soliel is now an international brand, with dozens of different live circus shows touring the world. They even have several permanent shows in Las Vegas.

I just came across a video titled Sparks.  It's a Cirq du Soliel video freely available on the internet.  It uses cutting edge technology to deliver some wonderful moments of entertainment.  

Sparks is fun. If you appreciate performance art,  Sparks is worth a look.

Here is the link to Sparks...  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C8OJsHfmpI

Here is a link to  a video about how they did it... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YqUocVcyrE

Friday, September 26, 2014

Oregon's Whale Wars Veteran


I am a big fan of the Sea Shepard Society, a group of volunteers, who ply the world's oceans battling  Japanese industrial whalers, the people who club harp seal pups in the Canadian Arctic, illegal tuna fishing, etc., etc.  

You have to admire people who are willing put their lives at risk to get between whales and the humans that want to kill them.  The Animal Planet TV show, Whale Wars, is about the Sea Shepard crews operating their own vessels, going to the very treacherous Southern Pacific ocean to confront Japanese whalers.   It makes for great TV.   I find it very satisfying to watch the Sea Shepard crews protecting whales from the exploding harpoons the Japanese use to kill them.

I work with a lot of good people these days on videos designed to reach the public with Move to Amend's  very ambitious and very much needed Constitutional agenda.

One of the Move to Amend supporters  I've gotten to know these past few months is a young man named Ryan Rittenhouse.  Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Ryan's background is in theater and video production. He's now working as an organizer for a non-profit called, Friends of the Columbia Gorge [FOCG].  Ryan is heavily engaged in the current fight to restrict hazardous, oil train traffic through the gorge.



Ryan in the Galapagos Islands


I asked Ryan to work with me on a video that would tie the oil train controversy to the larger Constitutional agenda championed by Move to Amend. Ryan recruited his boss Kevin Gorman, Executive Director of FOCG, to do that outreach video for Move to Amend. Ryan is co-producing that video with me. It was shot this past week and is currently being edited. I will be posting a blog entry about it as soon as it's finished.

I was having lunch with Ryan after we shot the video, when he told me that he had been a Sea Shepard crew member aboard the Farley Mowat, an old ship named after a well-known Canadian naturalist. Of all of the things I have learned about Ryan, that is the most impressive.


 
 
Ryan was quartermaster, and ship's videographer for two seasons in the Southern Pacific Ocean aboard the Farley Mowat.  He also was a Sea Shepard zodiac driver,  often putting himself and his crewmates between defenseless whales and the harpoons of the Japanese whalers. 

When it comes to life, so many people take the path of least resistance, avoiding controversy or anything that even implies some sort of personal risk. That's a big part of why it is so hard to affect positive change on a cultural scale.  Way too many people are self-absorbed and are unwilling to ' stand up'  for anything that involves any kind of assertiveness and substantive commitment.

That's not the way of Sea Shepard, whose crew members volunteer to work without pay. They are people of great courage, conviction, and commitment to Earth stewardship. They travel to the far reaches of the world's ocean's to confront the worst kind of human hubris.

Ryan Rittenhouse put his ass on the line many times over as a Sea Shepard provocateur. He is a person of character and substance. These days, he sports a bushy red beard. He likes the distinct look it gives him.   It's his style, and he has earned the right to express it, unlike so many people who are all about style, with little or no substance behind it.

Here is a link to the Sea Shepard Society...  http://www.seashepherd.org/

Here is a link to Ryan's current employer, the Friends of the Columbia Gorge...  http://www.gorgefriends.org/




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Prague



I have had the good fortune of spending time in some of the world's most interesting cities.  The city I most want to visit that I have not been to is Prague in the Czech Republic.

Prague is one of the few great European cities that was not bombed during the second world war.  The buildings in central Prague are pretty much as they have been for at least a century or more. Many of the streets are still covered with cobblestone. 


Prague

I just ran across this video of Prague, shot from a small camera drone.  It showcases the beauty of this great city. A visit to Prague is very near the top of my personal bucket list.

Here is a link to the aerial majesty of Prague...  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfo2gvt2OlI


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Cedar Hills Green Co-op


My wife and I live in a suburb of Portland, Oregon called Cedar Hills. The Homeowner's Association of Cedar Hills [CHHOA] has about 2100 homes and is one of the oldest associations in the United States.  Our home is only seven minutes by car from downtown Portland, and a few minutes from the post office, library, groceries, public transport, and pretty much everything else we need in our daily lives. We like being part of this community. 

One of the things that has disturbed us since we relocated to this area on the west side of metro Portland is the dearth of song birds.  We just don't see them. This is a beautiful area with lots of trees and ground cover, abundant water supplies, and by all appearances everything birds would need to thrive.  So, why are they not here?

We do see crows fairly often. They like to roost in the big oak tree across the street. Crows are an opportunistic species that do well in many situations. They also can account for some of the absence of other species of birds, as they are territorial and can be aggressive in pushing out competitors.

The lack of song birds in our neighborhood is hardly just a problem of 'mobbing' by crows. Domestic cats are also part of the problem.  There are 85 million house cats in America. Cats alone are accountable for the loss of up to six billion small birds annually. Cats are predators. If they are outside roaming, they are looking for prey. Hunting is what they are hard-wired to do. The only answer to this problem is to keep them inside, or perhaps put a bell on a collar that might provide some warning to a small bird before kitty can pounce.

The biggest reason for the lack of birds may be the choices we make in landscaping our residential properties.  A well groomed lawn might offer a modicum of 'curb appeal', but it's not a place that is friendly to nature or birds.  Removing trees and natural groundcover in favor of nicely manicured grass is a problem, more than anything else, because keeping lawn  and gardens 'beautiful' 'requires regular applications of chemical fertilizers, weed killers, and other kinds of biocides.  At least, that's what most people assume.

It's no wonder our suburbs have gotten so far out of balance with nature. The green, weed-free lawn monoculture is hammered into us as the esthetic ideal.  Suburbs are supposed to look like a TV lawn care commercial. That vision of being a good neighbor is constantly sold to us. That's what the multi-billion dollar lawn care industry wants us to embrace. That's what maximizes profits for them.

Allowing one's property to become a bit unkempt and wild is frowned on,  even thought of as diminishing property values.

I, like most people, do not advocate turning residential suburbs into an eyesore of weeds, invasives, and non-indigenous vegetation.  We're talking about making our personal home space more friendly to the plants and animals that would be present if we were not here, not eliminating landscape maintenance altogether.

Probably with much less of a time commitment, and also at less cost than it takes to do the lawn care we are accustomed to,  we could landscape our personal outdoor space in ways that are both esthetically pleasing and friendly to the natural world.   Every well-considered argument I can visualize leads directly to a cooperative, 'green' approach to community.

I've been thinking about how to make our personal existence more in harmony with nature for some time. We have taken some steps already with our landscaping.  We have no lawn, and we allow our plantscape to look a bit busy... not unkempt, but probably too close to unkempt for some.  We also try to avoid or very much limit any use of  pesticides and herbicides. That's not to say we are a good example. We have not been attentive to what we plant. We need to do much better.  Native species and flora that are attractive and nurturing to small birds and insect pollinators  should get planting priority. Anyway,  I'm not suggesting us as an inspiring example. My wife and I need to change our yard space so that the plantings are good for the birds and bees.

About a year ago, I started asking questions and expressing myself publicly about what I now refer to as a green co-op.  At the beginning, it was just an expression of concern for birds and pollinators in the Cedar Hills area.  Then, as I asked questions and talked to local people with lots of knowledge and life-affirming experience,  a compelling picture emerged.  I was seeing my home area, Cedar Hills, as an inspiring example of what a human cooperative for nature looks like. I was seeing Cedar Hills as a reflection of a place whose primary mantra about nature is; first, do no harm.

Portland, Oregon is well ahead of most urban regions in the way nature and the environment are considered.  The Portland Metro Counsel and it's commissioners oversee a 'nature in neighborhoods' program.  They support nature-friendly community initiatives all across the region.  In fact, Kathryn Harrington, the metro commissioner for the Cedar Hills area, is already backyard certified.   

Another thing I learned is there are already many families in Cedar Hills that are living on personal landscapes purposefully shaped to encourage birds and pollinators.   What an amazing foundation to build on.

So, I wrote down a brief concept paper that makes the case for a Cedar Hills Green Co-op.  I took it to Jodie Phelps,  the office manager at CHHOA. Jodie is a real asset to our community. 

On September 9th,  I asked the citizen Board of Directors of the Cedar Hills HOA for their support in launching a Cedar Hills Green Co-op,  run by volunteer citizens of our community. The board endorsed our effort, and they will consider formal oversight of the Green Co-op after the level of community support can be determined

So, that's where we are.  Around mid-October, an announcement for the green co-op will be included in the semi-annual mailing to HOA members. The announcement urges residents to join the green co-op, and makes a special request that residents who have already embraced a green lifestyle become the core of this community initiative. 

Stay tuned. We should know if the Cedar Hills Green Co-op is going to fly well before the Xmas holidays.

The website for the CHHOA is  www.cedarhillshoa.org/






Monday, September 15, 2014

Hope You Can Swim


This is a public service announcement from the 'Ocean Overflow Protection Service'.  The subtitle of this silly but thought-provoking video is 'denial won't stop sea level rise'. 




Humor can sometimes draw attention to subjects like nothing else can.  Warning, people in Baltimore, Boston, Miami might be more alarmed than amused.

Here is the link to this goofy PSA  parody from The Center for Biological Diversity...   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PfHerJm6cY