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November 14, 2007

'Muir of the Mountains' by William O. Douglas

The prolific William O. Douglas is best known as the longest serving Supreme Court Justice. He was promoted from a leadership role in the new SEC, serving from 1939 through the resignation of Nixon(1975). Though a champion of the poor and an opponent of big business he is perhaps secondly best known as a wilderness conservationist.

In a famous dissenting opinion, 1972's Sierra Club v. Morton, Douglas once argued that trees had every much a bit a right to sue as any corporation. I hiked the area in question as a pre-teen boy scout, the Southern Sierra's Mineral King, within five years of that decision. I don't know the details, but I gather, dissenting opinion not withstanding, the Sierra Club did prevail.

Douglas was a fan of the Sierra Club - in 1961 he wrote a children's biography book entitled 'Muir of the Mountains' - a co-founder of the club. (Muir was from the same generation of conservationists as Teddy Roosevelt.) The book, suitable for pre-teens (give or take, I'm not an educator) chronicles the life of one of California's legendary characters and his dedication to wilderness conservation.

Although Lawyers, as a rule, are not necessarily the most creative of scriblers, the string of reasoning throughout Douglas's endeavors is one worthy of following. And this book is certainly a much better 'cookie' to place on the path of a youngster than those left by Hansel and Gretel.

The book was re-published in 1993 by the Sierra Club. It is currently out of print, but available from Amazon, used.

'Nature's Justice' edited by James O'Fallon

I'm not a William O. Douglas scholar, so I can't really compare this book to others regarding or by this influential, Washington State born, American.

However I did find this particular collection of well introduced writings both entertaining and educational. O'Fallon takes a broad selection of his writing ranging from commentaries on the fly fishing advice of Izaak Walton to Supreme Court opinions regarding civil rights in the 1960's. His stories of growing up in the NW are also worthwhile.

Douglas was not without flaws - you could say he epitomized the cliche 'Soviet State of Washington'. You could also say he was a womanizer and I'd bet drink had an influence on his life. But he was very definitely very much a man of his times and his influence is still with us today.

Mr. O'Fallon is with the University of Oregon Law School, recognized as one of the nation's best on the subject of Environmental Law. I highly recommend this book, as well as the near Seattle William O. Douglas Wilderness.

December 8, 2007

FLOOD by Andrew Vachss


By Andrew Vachss


Vachss, as a writer, is a reincarnation of the a 1950's noir pulp P-I scribbler, but with a twist. His P-I, Burke, has been the subject of 17 books, most recently 'Terminal', also reviewed locally, I believe in the Times.

'Flood' is the first in the series. Floods as a metaphor carry a lot of weight with me. I'm a whitewater kayaker, by sport, and coming of age in Eugene the most dramatic moments of this California boy's NW winter were spent paddling the swollen rivers of the Coastal Range. My favorite book of all time is Eugene native Ken Kesey's 'Sometimes a Great Notion' inspired most likely by that same river. Enjoying the adrenaline rush of Grand Canyon quality whitewater with unavoidable concern for the residents of the 'flooded' homes is as memorable as one's most imprinting sexual encounters.

'Great Notion' was definitely also about sexual politics - and that is the twist that Vachss brings to his P-I books - all 17 of them deal, in some fashion, with childhood victims of sexual abuse seeking revenge. As Bogart would no doubt tell you the risks of dealing with the Femme Fatal are many - but in this case Vachss handles those twists in a manner that is both responsible and emminently entertaining. The simple moral of this story is that carrying a gun in your purse is not necessarily an unfemine thing, but I'll leave the rest to you.

Now, as to that girl who's father wrestled with Kesey in college (and whose logging family father's relationship with her mother may well have been an inspiration) - I wish I had been as good a communicator as Kesey, or Vachss, (now my number two favorite writer), when we had had a chance.

I'll leave the rest on that one to you too.

December 14, 2007



by Isaac Asimov


Also a 2004 movie starring Will Smith

Watching Will Smith's 'I, Robot' was strangely revealing. I had read the book when I was quite young, 12, give or take. The realization of the impact the book has had on my life was quite shocking - all the more so when you consider the nature of the plot.

Writing in 1950 the case could easily be made that Asimov was extrapolating the warnings of Eisenhower and others regarding the military industrial complex into their manifestation with computer, and 'robotic' (a word Asimov is credited with coining') technology. As you will recall the movie explores the potential risks of even a responsible implementation of 'motive' computing technology. His foil was a doubting aquaintance of the inventor, Will Smith's gritty detective character.

The 'Three Laws of Robotics' are the 'hardwired' safeguards built into every robot. What surprised me watching this movie was realizing that Asimov, a crafty secularist, had 'programmed' me to respond to the military industrial complex?

Go figure.

BTW - Asimov died of tranfusion contracted Aids, a fact not publicized. He was born as a Russian Orthodox Jew, his parents emigrating before he learned to speak the language. He was trained as a Chemist and worked both as an engineer and a University Professor starting during WW2.

February 18, 2008

'Decline of the Pacific Madrone'

Decline of the Pacific Madrone

From a conference at the Center for Urban Horticulture (UW)
Edited by A.B. Adams and Clement Hamilton


Unfortunately the Center for Urban Horticulture is best known as the victim of an alleged eco-tourist attack (never rule out some smart counter-terrorism on these sorts of things). It should be best known as the agricultural extension agent for 21st century environmentalism. Their staff is very helpful on questions relating to the health of the urban environment - for everyone from the most sanguine and connected landscape professional to the lay home owner with an avocational expertise.

Like it's publisher this book may also have more presence negatively than that positively earned. It is true that Madrones have suffered some locally - but this book investigates that question to positive result. Madrones,(related to Rhododendrons) are beautiful, unique, and native can be successfully planted.

In fact it is quite possible that the sick trees seen are soley the side effect of making them visible. When a stand is revealed by the construction of a nearby road roots can be disturbed, something the trees are sensitive to (they also don't transplant well from the wild, once established). In addition the bark is sensitive to light, more so if it has grown in the shade and then is exposed. A tree that thanks to that same clearing is now on the edge of the forest may develop problems from such. The only real bad news is that the distinctive red bark is a sign of stress - it is not necessarily fatal, but too much can be a bad sign.(It shows a weaker protection against disease penetration)

Many trees can also be quite spindly, with little foliage, except at the very top. This is an effect of growing in a denser forest and the competive stress of same can lead to a less healthy tree, as it does in many species.

A little bit of spindliness can be quite attractive, like some of the trees in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood. My personal observation is that the form of these trees is most likely a remnant of their youth, prior to the development of the boulevard. In a sunny spot and well drained soil a Madrona should thrive.

The conference that inspired this collection was brought about by the actions of the Magnolia neighborhood. I haven't been there lately, but I do recall one of the test plots, near the main Discovery Park parking lots. The success of these trees, as well as the grand old fellows (and ladies) of Magnolia Boulevard is perhaps the best testimony to the accuracy of this research and its ability to stand the tests of time.

Per the Center for Urban Horticulture the trees are available at least through these sources:

Burnt Ridge Nursery in Onalaska, WA
Forest Farm in Williams, OR
wholesale nursery Fourth Corner Nurseries in Belllingham, WA

February 19, 2008



A discussion of the book with

Author Tom Brokaw

Moderator David Brewster (Founding Team Member of the Seattle Weekly and Crosscut)

Available for Download from TVW

David Brewster and Tom Brokaw are both big fishes in their respective ponds - Brewster in the world of local alternative weeklies and Brokaw as a long term top dog of the news team at 30 Rock. One might think Brokaw to be a big fish in a bigger pond, but Brewster is a bit more of a pioneer, and at least in Seattle may have more influence than Brokaw. As to the rest of the region their influence may be relatively equal.

Like my Parents Brewster and Brokaw are not technically 'Boomers', born before the war, but to young to have worked during it. Their leadership in that history, as well as the differing approaches towards journalism, makes for a very interesting discussion.

Alternative weeklies, including Brewster in Seattle are an experiment in journalism - dropping the pretense of inpartiality for advocacy journalism (turf the bloggers may yet win). Brokaw, in comparison follows the tradition of Cronkite and Murrow in attempting to be objective. Their discussion from those two perspectives from two top players at the top of their game is as interesting as the discussion of the baby boomer generation.

I'll leave it up to you to decide who is the more impressive. I do think though that from the perspective of politics in America (Brewster is unashamedly pro-Democrat) Brokaw wins hands down.

FWIW I haven't read either of Brokaw's two books, I do think I know the story already and don't have the time to rehash. They are both on my list though, and hopefully at some point I will - perhaps if I should ever be so fortunate to have a couple of children of my own - 21st century boomers or busters, however the case may be.

March 8, 2008

'Jews of the American West'

Jews of the American West

Edited by Moses Rischin

From a 1986 Conference at the University of Denver


I'm 50% percent german, ethnically, on mom's side. Growing up in California I was raised to be totally clueless about german/jewish tensions. One of mom's closest friends was jewish and her son was very good friends with both my brother and I. His older sister was one of my first major crushes in puberty, probably for the best though that I didn't act on it.

One of my strongest memories from going to school back east was attempting to flirt with a Jewish girl during my Freshmen year and getting totally shot down. Nothing particulary dramatic, save for the realization on my part as to what was going on.

Based on my experiences in Seattle I dug up this book. It makes virtually no reference to Seattle and only a few passing one's to Portland. The book did provide a scholarly confirmation to my own experience - California Jews are the most integrated in their communities.

Descriptions of some of the in-fighting among competing organizations is a bit mundane, but it sets the stage for a much more interesting debate. Prior to WW2 there was a major Jewish 'anti-zionist' movement in America, based in San Francisco. The basic philosophy was that jews here should see themselves as americans first and drop all the old european divisiveness. In it's day it was perhaps dominant, however given Hitler and the formation of Israel it's arguments lost sway almost completely.

Also interesting are the discussions about intermarriage.

I won't go into my Jewish experience in Seattle, save to say it was not positive. It would be interesting to discuss same with some of the contributors to this volume, if I had the time for such things. I do have Jewish friends from LA that I met back east whom I think were as clueless, or nearly clueless, as I. That's a conversation I do hope to have.

FWIW my mother's family was part of the same german immigration wave that brought the first german jews to America - many of whom also ended up in California. Go figure.

April 25, 2008

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

By Alexander McCall Smith


Rhodesian born European McCall Smith somehow channels Oprah Winfrey into an entrepeneurial African Native in a successful emerging free market democracy. Mma Ramotswe is a businesswoman, make no doubt about it. And her P-I business gives McCall Smith a platform of social commentary.

One of those lessons is that men are dogs, and this can be tiring in traditional english literature. However these flaws are well presented here. I'm not enough of an African expert to say whether the profile of character here is one central to the success of this African nation, but if so, this is truly a guiding work.

Certainly quite the opposite effect to what Christine Gregoire is doing to the State of Washington right now.

August 1, 2008

Cops, Crooks, and Politicians

Cops, Crooks, and Politicians

By Neil W. Moloney

With a foreword by Former Governor John Spellman


This book is not quite the tell all that the title promises, however for those concerned with public safety, post WW2 corruption, or Pacific NW history this is a must read.

This is a cop's story of an uncompleted investigation, starting with a 1954 murder of a Seattle Police Officer in a Greenwood neighborhood bank robbery. The perpetrators were Canadians, apparently connected.

The author, former chief of the Seattle PD, Port of Seattle, and the Washington State Patrol, started his career about this time. He rose to the top ranks in the 1974 corruption scandals, a story he also addresses.

He doesn't name American names, or at least new ones. He does talk at great length about Canadian corruption and implies that there are similarities in 'practice' on this side of the border.

One name he mentions a lot, and seems to like, is former US Attorney Brock Adams who did his best to prosecute the case. Curiously this book was written not long after Adam's disgracement on no evidence.

Reading between the lines the names not said would be Norm Maleng and the Judges of King County, to start. Moloney though is a good cop, and states only those conclusions that he can back up.

It is up to the reader to bring their own experience to the story - and to ask themselves whether those same corrupt practices continue - or, as more likely, reinvent themselves.

The Moral Center

The Moral Center

By David Callahan


Callahan rose to notice in America with his early 2004 book 'Cheating Culture' where he makes the case that America has been taken over by those who dishonestly make their living - on the right and left.

'Moral Center' is his 2006 post election reflection on solutions for that problem.

I knew Callahan as an undergraduate (where Brock Adams was Trustee, in addition to his duties as US Secretary of Transportation). Callahan was on the political track while I was a economist into divestiture and workplace democracy. But we did have the chance to have several worthwhile conversations - my strongest memory is noticing that he was getting letters published in the New York Times on a regular basis. Definitely someone worth talking with, and hopefully I for him.

I'll leave his solutions to you, but let me extract his quoting of FDR for your thought.

Roosevelt was masterful at laying claim to the ideals of self-creation and personal liberty through hard work. In his 1936 speech to the Democratic Convention, Roosevelt decried industrial barons who had imposed a "new despotism", and said that "the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man." He exhorted America to fight a "new industrial dictatorship" that crushed "individual initiative". FDR than spelled out his vision of freedom: "Liberty requires opportunity to make a living - a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives a man not only enough to live by, but something to live for .....Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the marketplace."

Just prior to the conclusion of the book he quotes from another early 20th century leader, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of the few or we can have Democracy. We cannot have both.

August 12, 2008

Rules of Attraction

Rules of Attraction

By Bret Easton Ellis


I was prompted to read this book by my recent review of the classic Christian Bale movie written originally by Ellis, 'American Psycho'.

This book, his first, was also turned into a movie, by the same name. I've seen it - my memory of it is positive, but no more distinct than that it reminded me of my first alma mater, Hampshire College. 'Rules of Attraction' as a book however has created quite a distinct memory. Excuse me while I indulge myself by recanting same - and restating some of his same 'rules' for your own pleasure and evolving judgement.

Ellis is a moralist wielding sexuality like a Shao Lin monk or Zen master wields a sword.

Continue reading "Rules of Attraction" »

November 4, 2008

Codename Litefoot

Codename Litefoot

By Robert A. Boyd


Joining the Airforce at 17 in 1965 military brat and NRA match shootist Robert A. Boyd was to get quite the education about America and the World through his experience in Vietnam.

This book was written nearly 40 years later motivated in part by a VA PTSD therapist. At 700 pages the account is quite detailed - though not exactly erudite his centrist 'average joe' perspective on the issues of the day is illustrative, and very, very, real. This includes frank discussions on sex and race, as well as his perspective on drug & alcohol use 'in-country'.

Personally I found the most meaning in his description of authority within the military. I'm from a totally different, non-military, world yet there is a logic in his experiences that is relevant to my own. Like the author, I too was trained in target shooting at a young age (though it ended with my parents seperation) - this provided a connection that was all the more eerie for me.

It's also added a new term to my lexicon - the REMF, 'Rear Echelon Mother Fucker' - not too mention also learning about the CIA's role in military operations. The detailed descriptions of scout-sniper operations were also quite interesting.

I'm not a consumer of military literature, so it's not really possible for me to compare this to others in the genre. I read this only because i ran into Mr. Boyd by chance - or was it!

November 22, 2008

The Heart of the World

The Heart of the World:
A Journey to the Last Secret Place

By Ian Baker


This book is a mountain sports person's version of the Da Vinci Code. It concerns a search for a legendary waterfall in one of the most inaccessible places on the planet, the Tsangpo Gorge of the Brahmaputra River. After several hundred miles on the Tibetan plateau, just to the North of Everest, the river cuts through the Himalaya carving a canyon between 25,000 foot peaks. The area is a political no man's land between India and China, peopled by the most remote fingers of Tibetan culture.

Baker is a Tibet scholar become adventurer. This book is an essay on Tibetan Budhism as it applies to landscape and the exploration of sacred secret places. Baker was in the area at the same time whitewater Kayakers were attempting to paddle the river for the first time, perhaps foolishly. For folks aware of that story this book provides an added dimension - perhaps a bit like the Scott/Amundsen race to the South Pole.

Baker first visited Kathmandu at 19, like him I also visited at that age, just a few years later. My journey was the opposite of his - starting off as a mountain adventurer, but becoming more spiritual along the way - ending up in a similar 'place'.

I too was aware of the Tsangpo gorge, having completed a survey of Chinese Rivers using Army Map Service topos from the University of Oregon map collection during a few spare months in early 1982, shortly after my return from Nepal and India. I shared stories of this discovery, but can't say for sure whether I was the one who first targeted this river for whitewater sport.

The Last River

The Last River

By Todd Balf


This book concerns one of the early attempts at paddling the Tsangpo gorge of the Brahmaputra river - which will likely never be done completely.

Sadly a paddler died, Seattle native Doug Gordon, a classmate of Bill Gates at the Lakeside School. I didn't know Gordon, but it's a safe assumption we were at some event or another.

It's a great companion read to the more spiritually focused 'Heart of the World'. Ian Baker, the author of this piece was in the area at about the same time.

November 25, 2008

Beyond the Ivory Tower

Beyond the Ivory Tower

By Derek Bok (President of Harvard University)


Harvard President Derek Bok's book on the responsibility of academia to business and community is still relevant today.

President-elect Obama's choice to head the White House Economic Council is Lawrence Summers*, the 2nd Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton, and, more recently, a short term President of Harvard - fighting the same battles that Bok fought during his tenure.

The $64 Billion question though is whether right wing attack folks of the likes of Newt Gingrich were supportive of the Summers (Clinton) attacks? In this case, I cannot say - but in general the circumstantial evidence is substantial.

* Here is what Summers had to say about the 700 Billion dollar bailout, back in September.

November 26, 2008

Soggy Sneakers Guide to Oregon Rivers

Soggy Sneakers Guide to Oregon Rivers

By Members of the Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club

2004 (First Edition 1980)

This book, still in print 28 years after it's initial publication, is a great example of a volunteer based organization producing a very useful tool - though it does help to understand that each seperate contributor will have his, or her, own biases. That however is good advice no matter the professional status of the contributor.

I was fortunate to have spent my high school years paddling with maybe 2/3 of the original contributors of this book - a great group of mentors. This included the natural resource folks at Oregon State University, who saw the project to completion and Gene Ice, the instigator of the project, a post-grad physics student at the University of Oregon who would later go on to win awards for the industrial applications of his particle beam research. I wrote the descriptions for 3 segments, one of which is in the current edition. This run is lower Fall Creek, very close to Eugene and just below a flood control dam - which draws down in late summer, providing a great recreational opportunity when much of everything else has dried up.

December 1, 2008

Charting the Unknown - How Computer Mapping at Harvard Became GIS

Charting the Unknown

How Computer Mapping at Harvard Became GIS

By Nick Chrisman


This review is a bit like a post-modern piece of art, dangerously self-referential, but, hopefully, also 'true'.

I chose to work in the field of GIS, Geographic Information Services, shortly after completing a Senior Thesis on the subject of Higher Education and Economic Development. I chose the field upon becoming aware of some of the, uh, public-private 'business' practices around the economic development career track - I think a good choice, especially as I'd already had some exposure to the GIS field through government land use internships.

I wasn't actually aware that the software package I worked the most with, ESRI's ArcGIS, was a product of the same factors, and place, I studied as an Undergraduate. A such I found this book particularly interesting. This, also, is the first bit of dangerous self-reference.

The author, Nick Chrisman, was one of two GIS professors at the University of Washington Department of Geography a program I attended for a year - so this made it doubly dangerous, but also multiplied the personal attraction of this book.

Continue reading "Charting the Unknown - How Computer Mapping at Harvard Became GIS" »

December 10, 2008

The Shock Doctrine

The Shock Doctrine
-The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

By Naomi Klein


This U.S./Multinational economics book looks at conservative business practices from Pinochet to Iraq. It is definitely written to be supportive of acurrent nti-war efforts. The unintended relevance of the book, published just before the last election cycle, to this current crisis is quite large, and the basis of my recommendation.

Continue reading "The Shock Doctrine" »

December 23, 2008

Other People's Money, Other People's Lives

This phrase, other people's money, is resonating with me. As you know, much of this blog is dedicated to exploring various aspects of societal responsibilty, including fiscal. I'm also a legal critic believing that much of the current problem we face goes to the lack of responsibility in the bar, to, you guessed it, other people's money.

Kent Kammerer, convenor (sp?) of Seattle's most diverse (best) civic forum had a recent piece on Crosscut regarding money and leadership in the City of Seattle which brought this all together for me.

I used the term in my comment on this piece - and coincidentally, heard it on the radio just that same day by the author of a book by the same title, Nomi Prins, published in 2004. Though Ms. Prins rose to the top at Goldman Sachs she is not a fan of Wall Street's excesses and her tales remain relevant.

But why am I blaming the legal profession for the sins of the financiers?

Continue reading "Other People's Money, Other People's Lives" »

April 11, 2009



By Malcolm Gladwell


Author Malcolm Gladwell is best know for his first book, 'The Tipping Point'. Like that book this one synthesizes the work of criminologists and marketeers to analyze the subject. 'Tipping' also utilized sociologists, while 'Blink', more inward looking, brings psychologists to the matter of understanding how we make snap judgements, sometimes very effectively sometimes not.

More to the point, this book will help you to evaluate how you make snap decisions and make you quicker at thinking on your feet. Who knows, reading them both and perhaps you could 'tip' the world in a 'blink' of an eye - and become and 'Outlier', subject of his third book, not yet read.

October 14, 2009

Remembering when I was a Socialist

I am reminded of my first publication, a compilation of research on the subject of Socially Responsible Investment - on the heels of an administration occupying expansion of my alma mater's pioneering South African divestment.

The Hampshire College Report on Socially Responsible Investment

Ed. by Doug Tooley,

April 1983.

In 1976, Hampshire College bacame the first school in the country to divest from companies in South Africa. This opened the door for us to a much larger idea, that of using investments to reflect our ethics instead of those of the capitalistic ideology.

Continue reading "Remembering when I was a Socialist" »

November 3, 2009

Book Review
- Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost

Don't Follow Me I'm Lost

by Richard Rushfield


At the height of the Reagan revolution author Richard Rushfield chose to attend the most prestigious radical institution of higher learning, Hampshire College. This book is his story, and the story of the allied group of artists, producers and marketers that was the Supreme Dicks. It was a coming of age in a moment of political and artistic zen, the time between punk and grunge in the musical world.

The Supreme Dicks were the sperm that fertilized the egg that would become the Universe of Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr, and, as a side project, create the first X fueled raves.

In this book RR skewers the pinnacles of the corrupt and hypocritical NE establishment with humor blending Sean Penn in 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' and Hunter S. Thompson. His words are filled with the freshness and perspective of a west coaster wandering free in the strict class society of the east coast.

Rushfield leaves the titans that used Hampshire College, and the Dicks, to forge the abusive corporate and political tool of Nifong political correctness sleeping under the bridge with recently released Priest pedophiles.

You however, will walk away laughing, with a buddha smile of enlightenment and individual empowerment that will carry you through whatever the bastards may throw your way.

Available at Amazon and other booksellers.

(A mea culpa: I was a friend of the group in its early days - I believe I was the one who started calling the civilian security force as a prank, a 'theme' that apparently persisted after my departure from the campus.)

April 9, 2011

The Commanders
- by Bob Woodward


As Woodward puts it this book lies somewhere between transitory journalism and a more permanent historical work. However at 20 years out from publication it is looking like a very historically relevant work - both in its descriptions of the players of Bush I, including Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, but also in its presentation of the organization structure of the political/military elite.

The Wooden Sea
- by Jonathan Carroll


"Jonathan Carroll is as scary as Hitchcock, when he isn't being as funny as Jim Carrey..." -Stephen King

A piece of fantasy written for a mature audience; a metaphysical juggling of our different selves at different ages coming together when needed.

October 11, 2011

Book Review
'Radio Shangri-La'
by Lisa Napoli (2010)


I was inspired to read Lisa Napoli's book 'Radio Shangri-La' having visited recently opened Tibetan areas of Nepal in 1981, as well as spending a month in the Thamel district of Kathmandu. My personal favorite book of that trip was James Joyce's 'Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man' - a decidedly different phase of life from that of the author's.

Continue reading "Book Review
'Radio Shangri-La'
by Lisa Napoli (2010)" »

December 29, 2011

Book Review
'Lunar Park' by Bret Easton Ellis (2005)


I've had an obsession with Bret Easton Ellis for sometime, once minor, but slowly growing, perhaps now to dangerous levels with the meta-fictional work 'Lunar Park'.

The movie version of 'American Psycho' (2000, based on a 1991 book), a genius critique of Reagan era Wall Street all the more relevant today, was what first garnered my serious attention. But it was his relatively minor 1987 work 'Rules of Attraction' released to the big screen in 2002 that began the obsession - based loosely on his time at the small radical college Bennington the story reminded me closely of my own experience at the very similar Hampshire College. The fact that I had been involved in a personally impactful triangle that included a Bennington student as a third in a fashion not unlike those of the book sunk that particular 'hook'.

Continue reading "Book Review
'Lunar Park' by Bret Easton Ellis (2005)" »

September 6, 2012

The Role of Wildlife in Liberal Education

Aldo Leopold is known as a father of conservation and the then emerging field of ecology. His most famous work is 'Sand County Almanac' where he more fully articulates the principles below.

It was written in 1942, upon the end of the great depression and the cusp of World War II, not to mention the dustbowl land destroying years at the peak of Mr. Leopold's development.

Continue reading "The Role of Wildlife in Liberal Education" »

October 20, 2012

The Legend of Billy Moser and the Supreme Dicks

The Supreme Dicks were an infamous grunge era band originating at Hampshire College in the early 1980's. I was the band's first, self-appointed, 'business manager' which didn't mean a whole lot, save for one very epic event. If I recall correctly I was also the responsible individual starting a habit of calling the private campus security force and complaining about our own events, as a form of 'guerrilla' theater.

Below the jump is an excerpt from the Richard Rushfield book, 'Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost' concerning related events. The story, legend, is true, though the name, 'Billy Moser', is not. This excerpt starts right after Rushfield describes the security habit.

Continue reading "The Legend of Billy Moser and the Supreme Dicks" »

February 6, 2015

God and the Dialectical Process

Selections from the book:

In Season Out of Season
an introduction to the thought of Jacques Ellul

Madeleine Garrigou-LaGrange


I became conscious, as I worked and thought, that I needed to interpret all things in a dialectical manner.

Marx is one of those that led me to this realization, but I was much more attracted at first by his economic interpretation than by the philosophical aspect of his thought. Much later I was to realize that Christianity and biblical thought are dialectical.

I want to clarify that the dialectic presupposes history. It is not enough to pose a positive factor and a negative factor (good and evil as dialectical forces). There has to be a passage of time for the two contradictory factors to come into relationship.

Continue reading "God and the Dialectical Process" »

April 25, 2015

A Harvest of Reluctant Souls

'A Harvest of Reluctant Souls'

By Fray Alonso de Benavides


Translated by Baker H. Morrow


The history of the New Mexico area is the longest in the US - the first European to come through the area was Cabeza De Vaca sometime after 1527 in his eight year journey from a Florida Coast shipwreck to Sinaloa. The Puebloan cities were the source for the legend of the 'Seven Cities of Gold' which inspired Coronado to invade the area with Montezumaesque visions. Juan de Onate woud lead the first settlers to the area in 1598 and the long standing capital Santa Fe was founded in 1610.

This book was published in 1630 (15 Years after the 2nd Volume of Cervante's 'Don Quixote') by the Franciscan de Benavides from a fundraising report to the Pope. Its historical accuracy is certainly questionable, but it is also a very accessible authentic document of the period.

Continue reading "A Harvest of Reluctant Souls" »

May 17, 2016

The Profiteers

The Profiteers
Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World

By Sally Denton



The Reagan era history is just now being compiled and 'The Profiteers' by Sally Dentonis a solid contribution into the emerging canon of the period. The 'Shock Doctrine' by Naomi Klein and 'Subersives' by Seth Rosenfeld among others outline the international and domestic control strategies of these modern masters. The privately held Bechtel corporate 'person' is first among these oligarchs and their corporate socialist no bid construction business did, in fact, build the world from their American West roots.

Continue reading "The Profiteers" »

July 15, 2016


The Parties versus the People

How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans

By Mickey Edwards


Mickey Edwards spent 16 years in congress starting with the Reagan years and in leadership during the Gingrich takeover led by many Reagan era College Republicans. In this book he analyzes the crisis level problems of partisan politics and proposes detailed solutions in a compact and easily readable tome. My only critique would be his omission of the legal profession in the partisan context, including the large numbers of that profession occupying our national legislature.

Political parties are not inherently bad - citizens of common disposition will naturally seek each other out and combine to seek out agreed-upon ends. But when the pursuit of party power becomes the end goal and not merely a tool for achieving a better society, it is democracy itself which is laid beneath the guillotine's blade.


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