Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bedside Reading

Once again evidence surfaces that the Bush administration has censored yet another report on global warming -- this one by the EPA -- deleting references to the health and environmental consequences of climate change. As if erasing the words would erase the problem.

Meanwhile, those of us in my little patch of the Reality-Based Community are getting on with the process of adapting to a changing world, sharing our homegrown vegetables, watching the skies for rain and considering life beyond the automobile.

Dragonstar is traveling with her father this week, leaving me lots of time to read -- which I'm coming to believe is a very mixed blessing. Reading leads to thinking, after all, and thinking too much is not good for one's happiness, or so reports Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. I like that Weiner used the plural, places, and most of the ones he visits are unexpected. We've heard of the happy residents of Denmark, and Sweden, and Holland. Who would have suspected Bhutan?

Apropos of the EPA story cited above and the recent testimony of Dr. James Hansen, NASA's preeminent climatologist, to Congress on the 20th anniversary of his 1988 address to that same governing body, I picked up Mark Bowen's Censoring Science and read it in a day. My take-away: the citizens of the U.S. are living under an administration of thugs and apparachiks. Not exactly breaking news, that.

To put an even finer point on it, I read Robert Scheer's The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America. Which put me in mind of the recent movie Ironman, only without the superhero. Or the cute assistant. Or the happy ending.

Mind, Life and Universe is a collection of short conversations with scientists in a variety of fields, edited by MIT professor Lynn Margulis and Eduardo Punset, who hosts a weekly science TV show broadcast throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Never mind the complexity of subjects covered -- from the lifestyles of termites to the obliteration of time. This book is a perfect place to rest one's weary mind after the disheartening assault from Scheer and Bowen.

As is the encyclopedic Back to Basics from Skyhorse Publishing, a compendium of self- sufficiency edited by Abigail Gehring. In it you'll find instructions on raising chickens, building a log cabin, brewing beer, tanning leather, spinning wool and milking cows, along with a whole lot of other stuff you didn't even know you wanted to know how to do. Even if you never actually do it. I like books like this in the same way I like Machu Picchu and the United Nations: I may never visit either one, but I feel better just knowing that they exist.

Happy reading.


  1. very thought provoking stuff - i will be back! meanwhile i've nominated you for an award, please call by and collect it :o)

  2. Ohhhh, I think I'll be going to the library today.

    We're working on back to basics too. First order of business: moving into town, to an area where we can have livestock. Best of both worlds -- we don't have to drive to be part of the community, and we can be self-sufficient.


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