a tune… a haiku… an infrared loop



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La Foule des Jeunes au ‘Tour de France: les voila!


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French racing cyclist Maurice Garin, winner of the first Tour de France in 1903.






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Racing cyclist Nicolas Frantz, from Luxembourg, celebrates his Tour de France victory, in Parc des Princes, Paris, on July 15, 1928.



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Roger Pingeon, French racing cyclist and winner of the Tour de France 1967 (right), shaking hands of Eddy Merckx (left), Belgian racing cyclist.

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Frenchman Bernard Hinault leads in front of Portuguese Joaquim Agostinho, Dutchmen Joop Zoetemelk and Hennie Kuiper (left) and Swedish Sven-Ake Nilsson during the third stage of the Tour de France between Luchon and Pau on June 30, 1979. Hinault won the stage in a sprint finish beating Belgian Rudy Pevenage and Italian Gian-Battista Barronchelli and went on to capture his second consecutive Tour de France’s victory in Paris, winning seven stages overall.

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Lake Street Dive And The Chemistry Of Harmony


Lake Street Dive’s latest album is Bad Self Portraits.

Lake Street Dive is two men and two women, all in the neighborhood of 30, who met at the New England Conservatory of Music. As a group they use jazz instrumentation, more or less — trumpet, stand-up bass, guitar, some drums — but they play pop and soul, and draw a big following doing it. In fact, a video of them performing on a Boston street corner has been viewed more than 2 million times.

“If you put background vocals on anything, people are excited about it,” drummer Mike Calabrese says, referring to the lush vocal arrangements that dominate the band’s latest album, Bad Self Portraits. “There’s something about humans singing in harmony that is just inherently joyful.”

The members of Lake Street Dive spoke with NPR’s Steve Inskeep throughout Monday’s episode of Morning Edition, touching on their early shows (in which the other bands were sometimes the only audience members) and how they found their pop sound after an experiment with free jazz. Hear more of their stories at the audio links.

~~  LISTEN NOW  ~~

Lake Street Dive On Mountain Stage

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Fresh off its first appearance at South by Southwest, the jazz- and R&B-influenced pop band Lake Street Dive makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded on the campus of West Virginia University. Now based in Brooklyn, the members of Lake Street Dive met when they were students at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Originally conceived as a “free country” project, the group eventually began to indulge its penchant for classic pop, jazz and R&B.

Featuring Mike Calabrese on drums, Mike Olson on trumpet and guitar, and Bridget Kearney on bass, jazz-schooled singer Rachael Price kicks off this set with the audacious “Hello? Goodbye!” and “Neighbor Song” before eventually settling into a cover of Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It.” Kearney, also one of Lake Street Dive’s key songwriters, previously appeared on Mountain Stage in 2011 with her other band, the bluegrass-inspired Joy Kills Sorrow.

This performance was originally published March 28, 2012.

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Lake Street Dive find themselves on the cusp of stardom, though they insist they will always be the same people whose stage outfits once consisted of matching sweater vests. “We realize this could all go away tomorrow,” says Rachael Price. “But that won’t change what we do. We want to continue to do this for a long, long time. This is what we love. We just want to make sure we keep enjoying ourselves.”

Lake Street Dive have been performing for nearly a decade after meeting as fellow students at the New England Conservatory in Boston. The band was hand picked by Minneapolis trumpet/guitar player Mike Olson and named after an actual neighborhood of seedy bars in his hometown. Vocalist Rachael Price came from outside Nashville, Tennessee, stand-up bassist Bridget Kearney was an Iowa native, while drummer Mike Calabrese called Philadelphia home. “I wasn’t only impressed with their musicianship,” says Olson, who acquired the nickname “McDuck” while at the conservatory for his reclusive ways. “They were also a lot of fun just to hang out with. The first four years of rehearsals were more like glorified dinner parties.”

Lake Street Dive has come a long way, but this just could be the start of something even bigger.

It took a casually made video featuring the band gathered around a single mic, performing a cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” shot on a Brighton, Massachusetts, street corner to grab the public’s attention—its YouTube views now hurtling past a million views. What followed was nothing less than a modern-day music business success story—T Bone Burnett tapping them to perform on the Another Day, Another Time show at Town Hall featuring music from and inspired by the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, taped for an upcoming special on Showtime. The New Yorker raved of their Town Hall performance: “I can’t imagine then, that Lake Street Dive—a quartet led by an amazing young singer, Rachael Price—won’t be getting some air time soon.” Rolling Stone called the band “unexpected showstoppers,” while Hollywood Reporter noted the group “delivered one of the show’s best moments with the swinging ‘You Go Down Smooth,’ with stirring vocals by lead singer Rachael Price.” The New York Daily News was similarly enthused, saying Lake Street Dive “was the evening’s wild card,” and noting Price “has the soulful howl of a young Etta James.”

And just like that, Lake Street Dive went from playing for a small devoted following, to selling out venues and planning an initial European tour, with dates on several late-night TV shows in the offing.

While “I Want You Back,” a track from their six-song Fun Machine EP, which included five covers and an original track, was spreading like wildfire on the Internet, the band had little idea what was happening. They were ensconced at Great North Sound Society, a recording studio located on an 18th century farmhouse in Parsonsfield, Maine, two hours from Boston, with producer/engineer Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter) a location so remote, cell phone reception was spotty and web access non-existent.

The new album, Bad Self Portraits, which is being released by the Northampton, Massachusetts indie label Signature Sounds Recording as the follow-up to a self-titled debut and subsequent EP, is a microcosm of Lake Street Dive’s evolution of the band from “a weird alt-country jazz group to a pop-soul juggernaut, that turns ‘60s influences like Brill Building girl groups (“Stop Your Crying”), British Invasion rock (“Bobby Tanqueray”), horn-driven Stax R&B (“You Go Down Smooth”), Motown soul (“Use Me Up”) and even The Band-like gospel blues (“What About Me”).

“Our musical development has been like Google Earth,” explains Olson, “going from the entire universe to a specific place. That’s how we’ve honed in on our sound. We had the whole world of music at our fingertips, and we were unsure of what direction to take, but now we’re zeroing in a little closer.”

All four members of the band take part in the writing. The Bridget-penned title track is a wry commentary on how those selfie iPhone photos are just a cover for loneliness, but it could also refer to the rest of the album, each song a polaroid glimpse of a band that is constantly evolving.

“Nothing we do is set in stone,” says Olson about the band’s recording process in the studio, and that they are, first and foremost, a live outfit. “Songs change when we start to play them for people. That determines the stylistic direction more than anything else. When we record a song, that’s just a snapshot of where it was at that moment. And it continues to grow as we perform it.”

And as things are rapidly growing for Lake Street Dive, the nine years that they spent focusing on their musical development has left them with one constant to strive for. “We are named in homage to dive bar bands,” says Calabrese, “we were, are and always will be a dive bar band. Whether we’re playing for 10 people or 10,000 we want them to have that feeling.”

If He Walks and Talks Like a Monk, but Has His Hand Out …



In Times Square, amid the dozens of Elmos, Mickey Mouses and superheroes who work the crowds for loose bills, new costumed characters have come to seek their fortunes.

They are mostly men of Chinese descent, with shaved heads, beatific smiles and flowing robes of orange, but sometimes brown or gray. They follow a similar script: Offering wishes of peace and a shiny amulet, they solicit donations from passers-by, often reinforcing their pitch by showing a picture of a temple for which the money seems to be intended. Then they open a notebook filled with the names of previous donors and the amounts given.

The men appear to be Buddhist monks; a smaller number of similarly dressed women say they are Taoist nuns.

No one seems to know who they really are or where they come from. The police have taken no official stance, stepping in only when the monks become aggressive. Various Buddhists have confronted the men, asking about their affiliation or quizzing them about the religion’s precepts. The men remain silent or simply walk away.

They have become ubiquitous — so much so that the Naked Cowboy, the Times Square performer whose real name is Robert Burck, now simply refers to them as “co-workers.”

“They’re littered all over,” he said.

Even in New York, where people soliciting money are practically a tourist attraction, these monks tend to stand out, both for their attire and for their sense of entitlement. They offer the amulet and, in some cases, a bracelet; if they are not satisfied with the donation, they unabashedly demand $20 or more.

This year, the police have arrested at least nine people who have presented themselves as monks, mostly on charges of aggressive begging or unlicensed vending.

But merely begging in the streets is not against the law. The police have largely left these men alone, to the consternation of Buddhist leaders in New York’s Chinese neighborhoods, who portray them as nothing more than beggars who undermine Buddhists’ credibility.

“They are damaging the reputation of real monks and damaging the reputation of Buddhists in America,” said Shi Ruifa, a monk in Brooklyn who is president of a confederation of nearly 50 temples.

Similarly attired men have attracted scrutiny around the world. They are a familiar presence in Australia, where the authorities heralded their reappearance in Sydney with a press statement, “Bogus Buddhists Are Back.” They have also been seen in Canada and New Zealand. In Hong Kong, their presence has merited a Facebook page, Fake Monks in Hong Kong. Overall, there have been few arrests, though the authorities in China recently arrested seven men dressed as Shaolin Temple monks on charges of swindling $26,000 from tourists.

In Toronto, the police received reports a year ago of monks asking for money and threatening to put a hex on those who did not donate, according to Constable Victor Kwong, a spokesman for the Toronto Police Service.

Toronto, like New York, prohibits aggressive panhandling. Although “people thought they were being duped,” Constable Kwong noted, “nothing is illegal about walking around dressed like a monk.” No arrests were made.

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In New York, the men have inspired a Fake Monks in New York City page on Facebook, documenting its subjects’ whereabouts, from Central Park to the city’s Chinese neighborhoods, where local monks have mostly driven them away. Last year, Mr. Shi confronted a man in orange robes in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and quizzed him on the Five Precepts of Buddhism.

The man “didn’t know even one,” he said.

In another exchange, Harry Leong, a practicing Buddhist for 25 years, said he respectfully asked a robed man in Times Square for his religious name and temple.

“He did not give me any direct answer, even after I repeated the same questions to him several times,” Mr. Leong recalled. “I then asked him if he was a fraud, and he ran away from me.”

In interviews, the robed men were evasive about where they were from and generally refused to answer any questions about their background, temple or training. They tended to speak little English, favoring Mandarin, with accents hinting of provinces all across China.

One woman dressed as a nun said her temple was in Taiwan, but declined to give specifics.

“I cannot tell you where my temple is,” answered another woman dressed as a nun, who said her family name was Lin and that people called her Little Lin. “I won’t tell you. But it’s not that I don’t have a temple.” At another point, she grabbed at the sleeves of her robe and said, “If I didn’t have a temple, why would I be dressed like this?”

Another man dressed as a monk, eating a hot dog while three topless women and a Spider-Man nearby posed for pictures with tourists, defended his actions. “I’m not a terrorist,” he said in Mandarin. “I’m not an outlaw, I’m not a thief.”


With that, he got up and began walking toward the subway, saying, “I’m going back to Flushing.”

National Park Service calls development plans a threat to Grand Canyon


The Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon, as seen from Mohave Point on the South Rim. The National Park Service says a proposed housing development would have dire consequences for the park’s scarce water supply. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)


At the rim of the Grand Canyon, busloads of Chinese tourists jostled on a recent day with twentysomething backpackers and an Amish family with rambunctious boys in suspenders and straw hats, all eager for a prime viewing spot.

They gazed out on a dizzying sight of receding canyons and sheer rock walls, with the Colorado River cutting though the canyon floor a mile down.

Generations of park managers have tried to preserve that natural vista, but officials here say a proposed development would alter the view.

Looking eastward from the canyon’s popular South Rim, visitors could soon see a hive of construction as workers build restaurants, hotels and shops on a distant mesa on the Navajo Indian reservation.

The developers also plan a gondola ride from those attractions to whisk tourists to the canyon floor, where they would stroll along an elevated riverside walkway to a restaurant at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers.

That project and a second, unrelated development proposed for just south of the canyon have set off alarms at the National Park Service, which sees them as the most serious threat the park has faced in its 95-year history.

The first would alter the natural beauty of the canyon and encroach on its borders. The second, a major housing and commercial development, jeopardizes the fragile ecology and water supply on the arid South Rim plateau. The Tusayan development would add 2,200 homes and 3 million square feet of commercial space to a town two blocks long.

Park officials say existing development around the park and the scarcity of water have already stressed the park’s ability to handle visitors. The new projects would only make matters worse.

“They are serious threats to the future of the park,” said park Supt. Dave Uberuaga. “When you have that size and scope of potential development that close to the park, it will impact our visitor experience.”

The Grand Canyon affords once-in-a-lifetime views, but it has always been difficult for anyone except seasoned hikers to reach the canyon floor. Most of the 5 million annual visitors stop at the rim, look out and move on without ever venturing into the canyon.

Native American tribes are changing that. Grand Canyon West, on Hualapai land, operates the Skywalk attraction, a popular glass walkway that juts out over the canyon. Since 2007, the tribe has offered helicopter tours that land on tribal property next to the river.

The proposed Grand Canyon Escalade gondola would afford a rare opportunity for tourists to reach the canyon floor, said developer R. Lamar Whitmer, who is working with the Navajo.

The park service offers nothing more than “a drive-by wilderness experience,” Whitmer said. “The average person can’t ride a mule to the bottom of the canyon. We want them to feel the canyon from the bottom.”

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It’s at the bottom that the conflict lies, as the Navajo contend that they have rights to property above the high-water mark of the rivers.

Park officials say the Navajo are mistaken. Federal jurisdiction extends a quarter-mile on either side of the Colorado, the park says, and no development can occur any closer to the water.

For now, the park is waiting for the tribe to complete its planning process before providing an official response.

The project requires approval of the Navajo tribal government — and some within the tribe have voiced objections, particularly about the gondola’s terminus near the confluence of the rivers.

Tribal opponents believe the two rivers represent male and female, and where they meet is where life begins.

“That’s where our spirits go back to,” said Renae Yellowhorse of the group Save the Confluence. “My father passed away last March. That’s where he resides. If there is a development there, where are our prayers going to go?”

Two miles from the Grand Canyon’s front entrance is a project that park officials say is a more fundamental threat because they expect it to diminish the small amount of water found naturally on the arid Colorado Plateau.

The park’s main gateway community of Tusayan has approved plans for a development that would increase the town’s demand for water fourfold.

But the plans do not say where the water will come from. With Arizona suffering though its worst drought in 110 years of records, the park service says there isn’t enough water to sustain both wildlife and the new development.

“That kind of water just isn’t around there,” said Uberuaga. Yet the city continues “to pursue a full buildout and full development at whatever pace the developer wants.”

Water is already so precious that the park’s resident elk herd recently figured out how to operate the Grand Canyon’s new water faucets and began serving themselves.

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Surrounded By Digital Distractions, We Can’t Even Stop To Think



Researchers at the University of Virginia and Harvard asked people to simply sit still and think. For many, the experience was less pleasant than it sounded.


It would be tough to think up a more plum assignment for a test subject: Simply step into an empty room, sit down, and think.

Just think.

But in a study to appear in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science, participants found the experience within their own heads surprisingly difficult to manage — if not downright unpleasant.

Stripped of their books, cellphones and other distractions, many, including a majority of men, preferred to instead pass the time by reaching for the sole form of electronic entertainment in the room: a 9-volt battery administering a “severe static shock” when touched.

“It’s probably an issue of how we can control our minds and thoughts,” says Timothy Wilson, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and a co-author of the study, which attempts to measure the enjoyment found in allowing our minds to simply wander.

That represents a novel approach to the study of human distractibility, in which the “wandering mind” is often itself the distraction: a symptom of our multitasking, digitized culture that interrupts our pleasure reading, test-taking and work lives.

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Cheney’s Back, Blitzing Rivals and Drawing Scorn~~the old bastard just won’t go away…JR

cheney-shoot-friendsAs his heart failed a couple of summers after leaving office, former Vice President Dick Cheney slipped into a coma and, by his later account, spent weeks dreaming that he was in a countryside villa north of Rome, padding down a stone path every morning to pick up a newspaper or coffee.

Yet Mr. Cheney was never one to slip into quiet retirement in Italy or, for that matter, at his Wyoming ranch. Two years after a heart transplant reinvigorated him physically, he seems reinvigorated politically, too, as he takes on President Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bill Clinton, radical Islam, Senator Rand Paul, his own party — and history.

Frustrated by what he considers the president’s weakness as extremist groups seize wide portions of Iraq, Mr. Cheney, 73, has blitzed the airwaves in recent weeks and formed a new organization to promote American national security in a perilous time. He has drawn nothing but scorn from Democrats and even some Republicans who view his remonstrations as the height of hubris from someone they blame for many of the country’s difficulties. To them, he is a punch line.

But Mr. Cheney’s ability to command attention speaks to his distinctive place in the public arena. He is blunt, he is unapologetic and he is seemingly immune to the barbs aimed his way. He remains driven by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and determined to guard the nation against the dangers he sees. If the rest of the world has moved on, he has not. “I’m not running for anything,” he told Charlie Rose in one of his multiple interviews of late. “I get to say exactly what I think.”

Some have no interest in listening. On MSNBC and on liberal op-ed pages and websites, his re-emergence has provided endless fodder for who-is-he-to-talk commentary. Some activists even argued he should be barred from television because they view him as discredited.

For a White House beleaguered on multiple fronts, the former vice president’s return is in fact a welcome opportunity to focus attention on decisions made by Mr. Cheney and President George W. Bush rather than defending Mr. Obama’s own handling of foreign policy, which most Americans disapprove of in polls.

“He’s like the A-Rod of politics,” said David Plouffe, the longtime Obama strategist, referring to Alex Rodriguez, the scandal-tarnished baseball star. “No one wants to hear from him, especially when he is trying to create an alternate reality to the one he is responsible for.”


With Dirt And A Vision, Palestinian Architects Break The Mold


ShamsArd, a Palestinian architecture firm, uses packed earth to construct its environmentally friendly homes.

The city of Jericho sits in the hot, flat Jordan Valley down the hill from Jerusalem. Jericho has bragging rights as one of the oldest towns on Earth. But one of its newest homes looks like it might have arrived from outer space.

Ahmad Daoud hired a firm of young Palestinian architects to build this house. Like Jericho’s original homes, it is built of dirt. This one has a contemporary twist, though: It’s constructed with earth compacted in bags that are then stacked and plastered over.

Daoud loves the domed rooms, the nod to the past and the environmental advantages.

“It’s an environmentally friendly house,” he says. “I can tear it down and nothing will remain. In the summer, I don’t need air conditioning, and in the winter, I don’t need heat.”

Amid the dust, palms and the square, concrete houses of Jericho, Daoud’s home stands out. Daoud says everybody has something to say about it.

“A lot of neighbors say it’s nice to look at but not to live in,” he says.

Some neighbors have asked him whether it’s a house or some kind of tourist attraction. Others say he’ll never sell it, or wonder how he could add a floor for his children — a common Palestinian practice — on top of domes.

Despite Jericho’s history, mud has fallen out of fashion. Even some of the builders didn’t think building from mud would work, says Lina Saleh, one of the architects.

“Maybe in their minds it should be concrete and steel,” she says.

Saleh is part of ShamsArd, a small, young Palestinian architecture firm that has designed several buildings constructed of dirt. Translated from Arabic, ShamsArd means “sun and earth.” Saleh studied architecture at Birzeit University in the West Bank, and then joined a firm in Ramallah. Most of the clients were wealthy, and the materials they chose bothered her.

“We [imported] them from anywhere, even from Israel,” she says.

Danna Massad, another ShamsArd partner, says they wanted to find ways to build that empowered Palestinians locally.

“That empower ourselves as a community, that empower our struggle as well, and that are good for environment,” she says.

Half the world’s population lives, works, worships or keeps animals in structures built of earth, says University of California, Berkeley professor Ronald Rael. Rael, who has written a book surveying earth architecture worldwide, says revivals of earth buildings catch on best when they fit in with local values — including style, structure and, yes, building materials.

“If a community wants to live in a contemporary society, that building material needs to be shaped in a way that it’s reflective of the society,” he says.

ShamsArd began as an experiment in design. In 2012, before the architects drew the firm’s first building, they made furniture from trash: stools built from recovered steel rebar with seats of woven bike inner tubes, lampshades from loofa, cardboard sofas.


With Help From Extinct Humans, Tibetans Adapted To High Altitude


A mother and daughter herd their yaks along a highway on the Tibetan plateau.


At an altitude of nearly 3 miles, the Tibetan plateau is an extreme place to live. It’s cold, it’s hard to grow food, and there’s about 40 percent less oxygen in the air than there is at sea level.

Somehow, though, native Tibetans are adapted to it. Their bodies — and their blood in particular — work differently than those of people used to lower altitudes. The Tibetans’ advantage might be thanks to an ancient inheritance.

When someone used to living at low altitude travels to the oxygen-deprived Tibetan plateau, his or her body responds by producing more red blood cells to help circulate oxygen through the body.

Sounds like a good thing, right? Not quite.

“You don’t want your blood to become too thick,” says Rasmus Nielsen, a geneticist at University of California, Berkeley. Too many red blood cells can lead to thick blood that is harder for the heart to pump. People who aren’t adapted to high altitudes have an increased risk of stroke. When pregnant women move up to high altitudes, they tend to have difficulties with high blood pressure, suffer a higher rate of infant mortality and are more likely to give birth to small babies.

A replica of the pinky bone fragment found in a Siberian cave. Researchers used the bone bit to extract and sequence the genome of a girl who lived tens of thousands of years ago.

Native Tibetans don’t have those problems. Their blood doesn’t contain extra red blood cells, yet it still manages to keep them alive and well. It’s a mystery how they manage to function so well at high altitude without the extra help, but it’s clear that they are able to avoid the health pitfalls that other people can encounter at high altitude.

According to Nielsen and a bunch of geneticists writing in the journal Nature, the Tibetans appear to have benefited from a genetic gift from the Denisovans, an extinct human ancestor known primarily from a little girl’s tooth and pinkie bone.

Tibetans have a gene, EPAS1, that’s known to help regulate how the body responds to low oxygen levels. “It’s also been called the ‘super athlete gene,’ because we know that certain humans that have a special version of this gene have a better performance with certain types of athletics,” says Nielsen.

At first, Nielsen and his colleagues weren’t sure how Tibetans had gotten the gene. But now they have an idea. “We think we have very good evidence that it came from Denisovans,” he says. The DNA patterns seen around that gene match those of the Denisovans, a sister group to the Neanderthals.

He says Tibetans were able to adapt because they got the genes from another human species that was already adapted to the environment. It’s a lot more efficient than waiting around for evolution to do the job.

Here’s how the (very speculative) story might have gone: Modern humans evolve in Africa about 100,000 years ago and then start spreading across the globe, encountering new environments, and also other archaic human species, like Neanderthals and Denisovans. They mingle and mate, trading genetic material. Some inherit the EPAS1 gene. Eventually, some move up to high altitudes. The ones with the EPAS1 gene thrive more at high altitude than those without it. Over generations and generations, the gene becomes more common in the population.


Putting a Price Tag on Nature’s Defenses


Coral reefs have proved valuable to coastal regions by helping to blunt shore erosion from storm waves. Credit Reuters

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the United States Army Corps of Engineers got to work on a massive network of levees and flood walls to protect against future catastrophes. Finally completed in 2012, the project ended up costing $14.5 billion — and that figure didn’t include the upkeep these defenses will require in years to come, not to mention the cost of someday replacing them altogether.

But levees aren’t the only things that protect coasts from storm damage. Nature offers protection, too. Coastal marshes absorb the wind energy and waves of storms, weakening their impact farther inland. And while it’s expensive to maintain man-made defenses, wetlands rebuild themselves.

Protection from storms is just one of many services that ecosystems provide us — services that we’d otherwise have to pay for. In 1997, a team of scientists decided to estimate how much they are actually worth. Worldwide, they concluded, the price tag was $33 trillion — equivalent to $48.7 trillion in today’s dollars. Put another way, the services ecosystems provide us — whether shielding us from storms, preventing soil erosion or soaking up the greenhouse gases that lead to global warming — were twice as valuable as the gross national product of every country on Earth in 1997.

“We basically said, ‘It’s an imprecise estimate, but it’s almost definitely a pretty big number, and we’ve got to start paying attention,’” said Robert Costanza, a professor at Australian National University who led the study.

That study proved to be hugely influential. Many governments, from Costa Rica to the United Kingdom, started to take the value of ecosystem services into account when they planned environmental policies. But the study also set off a lot of controversy. Some economists argued that it was based on bad economics, while some conservation biologists argued that price tags were the wrong way to save ecosystems.

Seventeen years later, the debate is getting re-energized, just as the nation becomes immersed in an intense fight over the Obama administration’s attempt to tackle the emissions that scientists say could threaten many of these ecosystems. Dr. Costanza and his colleagues have now updated the 1997 estimate in a new study, published in the May issue of the journal Global Environmental Change, and concluded that the original estimate was far too low. The true value of the services of the world’s ecosystems is at least three times as high, they said.

“As we learn more, these estimates increase,” Dr. Costanza said.

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Brush Mind




Zen Buddhist thinking, particularly the irony of having to give up in order to arrive at something, attracted me.  According to Buddhist teaching, we have no permanent self, no lasting possession.  It is therefore essential to develop a sense of detachment from all possessions, including one’s views and habits.  Such an understanding is central to my art; my life as an artist has been a continuous challenge to give up.  I abandoned concrete forms, then colors, shades, nuance, refinement and the attempt to please, as well as the use of a seal or signature.

Kazuaki Tanahashi                Brush Mind

Berkeley, California

              April 1990




Travel by bike~~Summer Reading~~





The Postman

This charming tale goes by many names: Ardiente Paciencia, El Cartero De Neruda, Il Postino and The Postman. Chilean writer Antonio Skarmeta tells a fictional story of a postman who befriends the exiled poet Pablo Neruda. In the village of Isla Negra, off the coast of Chile (actually on the Chilean coast south of Valparaíso-J.R.), postal carrier Mario Jimenez delivers letters by bicycle to his literary hero. Loaded down with fan letters for Neruda, Jimenez rides a “cheery” Legnano bike that carries him “beyond the rather limited horizon of the fisherman’s bay” to Neruda’s home, which “seemed Babylonian in comparison to Mario’s own little hamlet.” As he is waiting to hear whether he has won the Nobel Prize for literature, Neruda helps the shy postman become a poet and win the heart of a local woman. Skarmeta wrote and directed the story as a movie in 1983, then turned it into a novel two years later. About a decade after that, it became the film Il Postino, which moved the setting to Italy and featured a nostalgic tango called “The Bicycle” by Luis Enrique Bacalov — a theme song that helped win the film an Oscar for original dramatic score.


9781876175702_custom-0e9bb3c7b47b189920a0267682af4d7f744e4355-s2-c85The Motorcycle Diaries

Notes On A Latin American Journey

by Ernesto Guevara and Cintio Vitier•
Paperback, 175 pages
Before he led revolutions and became a Latin American icon, Ernesto “Che” Guevara was a 23-year-old medical student in Argentina. In 1952, he left behind his middle-class life in Buenos Aires to explore the entire South American continent with his good friend Alberto Granado. Starting off on the back of an old, single-cylinder Norton motorcycle he affectionately nicknames “La Ponderosa,” Guevara logs thousands of miles traveling through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and more (they also travel by foot, steamship, horse, bus, hitchhiking and a raft down the Amazon). Guevara’s travel diary chronicles his leftist political coming-of-age, as he and Alberto meet struggling copper miners and indigenous campesinos descended from the Incas and volunteer to care for patients at a leper colony. Ever since this became a best-selling must-read, Guevara’s account of his exhilarating and poignant road trip through South America has inspired generations of adventurers as well as those hoping to change the world.

– Mandalit del Barco, correspondent, Arts Desk, NPR

The Water Crisis in the West


In California, cutbacks in state water deliveries are forcing some growers to fallow fields.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press


With water increasingly scarce in the drought-ravaged American West, many states could face drastic rationing without rain.

Even with more sustainable practices, the future of water in the West is not secure. Population growth, conflicting demands for resources, and the unpredictable nature of a changing climate will all exacerbate the crisis of an already parched landscape.

What are the best ways to share the water? And how can we ensure it lasts for the foreseeable future?


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Crested Butte Bike Week Medals – by Kiitella


And another by Lisa Issenberg of Kiitella… The CB Bike Week medals are inspired by a combination of the functional and aesthetic beauty of bike parts plus the creative-hardcore races planned for this week. Satin brushed bicycle cogs and chain parts compliment polished mild steel, with a cool, colorful logo plate riveted in the centers.

Kiitella trophies for today’s Ridgway River Festival


Today, proud winners of the Wildwater Kayak Race, Inflatable Race, Junk of the Unc, and a few more will hold up the latest RRF trophies by Lisa Issenberg of Kiitella: Gold, silver & bronze miniature paddles sunk into carefully selected local river rocks. A collaboration with Canyon Bridge.

The Ridgway River Festival is produced by Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership.

Morning post to Rōbert Repor

This morning I said to my wife, Dana, I need to check Jerry’s blog to see if he has his monsoon forecast out. It seemed past time. I logged in (early), half way down my cup of joe, but nothing new about impending summer drenchings. Of course, I then perused the latest posts to catch up on Jerry World. Then, after a couple of years of enjoying the Report, I somewhat impulsively submitted my application for a subscription. Why now? As Tom Robbins might have speculated: it must have been the twitch of an ancient frog leg in Timbuktu that made me click through my new level of devotion. And, then, within minutes, my just reward. Ding! went my computer and up popped your monsoon forecast. Serendipity? A cosmic tongue wag sent via the wispy morning breezes from our county road to yours? One can never know how these things happen, and should probably leave it all alone lest a bruja was involved.
But, thank you for your prompt reply to my telepathic request.
William Steding, PhD
Senior Fellow
Center for Presidential History
Southern Methodist University

Summer monsoon forecast for Intermountain West from NWS

images-1In the Great Basin and Intermountain West, summer is typically drier than other times of the year, though not so markedly. However, surface and subsoil moisture content declines much more frequently than it increases in these regions during the summer and early fall due to high temperatures, making drought recovery highly unlikely. This is true except in extreme eastern sections of the Great Basin where an expected robust Southwest summer monsoon is forecast to bring above-median rainfall, possibly lower temperatures, and drought improvement to eastern Nevada and Utah (see Southwest regional summary).

Forecast confidence for The Far West and the Intermountain West is high.
Climatologically, summer starts out dry across the Southwest and southern Rockies, but precipitation quickly increases in July as monsoonal moisture enters the region from Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, triggering shower and thunderstorm activity. JAS is normally the wettest 3-month period in eastern Arizona, most of New Mexico, and southwest Texas, with over 45% of their annual precipitation occurring. In the short-term, monthly, and seasonal precipitation outlooks, there are enhanced chances for above-normal rainfall across most of this region. Since this is a markedly wet time of the year from eastern Arizona eastward into western Texas, and because of the favorable chances of above median precipitation (e.g. a robust summer monsoon with ample moisture inflow) at all time frames – leading to increased cloud cover, higher humidity, and probable lower temperatures, drought improvement (and removal with areas of moderate drought) is forecast.


The Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway began his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, on July 21, 1925 (his 26th birthday), and delivered his completed revisions to his editor at Scribner, Maxwell Perkins, on April 21, 1926. A new Hemingway Library Edition—with a personal foreword by Patrick Hemingway, the author’s sole surviving son, and a new introduction by Hemingway’s grandson Seán Hemingway—includes early drafts, as well as deleted chapters and paragraphs. Michael Gorra, who teaches at Smith College and is the author, most recently, of Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece, examines an excerpt from the first draft.


No one reading this discarded passage will miss the irony. Its words about leaving in “the whole business” are just what the young Hemingway found he had to take out. And in notably clotted prose, he sets himself against writers of the kind he was in the process of becoming: “the ones with clear restrained writing.” Yet look more closely, and his comments reveal a central truth about his creative process. Hemingway’s style didn’t come easily, and it wasn’t in the least natural—it needed to be made, carved from the rock of a very rough draft. Many years later, he wrote that one could cut anything so long as one knew what it was; the words that remained would be strengthened by the implicit presence of what was no longer on the page. These sentences stand as one of the literary signs he wanted to do without. He was right to get rid of them. But he had to write them first, and they shape what’s left behind: a novel in which the “special moments” aren’t labeled, a book that finds a form for all the seeming accidents and irrelevancies of life itself.