Friday, September 10, 2010

One of the things I've always loved about Germans (even when I don't) is that earnestness that so often manifests as bluntness.  A lot of Germans have great difficulty in understanding why they should dissemble in social situations, or why the circumlocutions of politesse should take any precedence over the clarity of an undecorated statement of accurate fact.

So I just want to hug the Germans this week for knocking the first real cracks in the conspiracy of silence that reigns among the world's leading nations, when it comes to both climate change and the end of cheap oil.  First was the leaked military report that demonstrated that, public rhetoric aside, the German government is drawing up contingency plans for the end of the cheap oil era.  It forecasts nothing short of the end of the global capitalist system.  And now Deutsche Bank releases an assessment of it's thinking on investments that is equally blunt about the head-in-the-sand attitude that the US government epitomizes about the changes coming down the pipeline.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I'm no militant when it comes to native plants versus exotics, but here's my take on it. 
Most garden shops stock all sorts of exotics, because the exotics tend to remain unblemished and un-gnawed upon. But they remain untouched precisely because they're not part of the local ecosystem. Nothing eats them and nothing uses them. I've know I've adjusted my own aesthetics to see beauty not in the plant that stands pristinely aloof, but in the one that shows all the scars of actually being part of it all.
A case in point: I have a small, but slowly growing patch of a fuzzy little native plant, pussytoe, growing in the yard. I've stopped mowing that part of the property so it's been able to flower and go to seed in peace the last couple of years. Well this summer, the most common butterfly around the garden has been a gorgeous little thing I managed to identify as a Pecks Skipper. And according to the field guide the larval foodplants for this skipper are everlastings and pussytoes. So for a few square feet of unmown lawn I get a vigorous population of beautiful and energetic pollinators. Those kinds of inter-relationships are happening invisibly all around, but most intensely with the native plants and their co-evolved creatures.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Welcome to the world, Leonardo.
You've got a big sister,
and even bigger cousins.
That'll help.

Monica headed off yesterday morning toward Pennsylvania to fetch the boys back for Tuesday's start of school.  She left in the morning before any breath of Hurricane Earl had reached this far north.  It was supposed to be my task this week, but there are suddenly 5 research projects all in play at work, or maybe 6.  We had a last torrent of research on nitrogen pollution, but also getting rolling on an ethnographic project in New Mexico and Wisconsin on the dairy industry and a couple of message testing projects for Ford Foundation that we're going to fall behind on, and one we've already fallen behind on for a California policy institute.  And a bunch of other stuff I haven't have time to be in the loop for.  So I couldn't get away, despite the impending arrivals of Earl (the hurricane) - and Leo (the new nephew).

Mom was already in Kutztown helping out with Cathie's new baby, so the boys were with my Dad.  So Monica headed out before the storm, and drove the empty highways along the coast.

It began raining around 11 a.m. on Friday.  But the north Atlantic sucked the life out of Earl, and while he brought a few downpours, there was no real wind.