Must-See Congressional Hearings Go Back Decades Listen ~ June 17, 2017







Nearly 20 million people tuned in to watch former FBI Director James Comey testify before the Senate earlier this month. But other episodes in history have been just as dramatic.


Forty-five years ago today, there was a burglary. You may have heard of it. It involved the Watergate Hotel – first, the break-in, then the political cover-up, and, ultimately, the president’s resignation. The congressional hearings on the Watergate scandal were must-see TV, making stars of senators and political junkies of a generation.


Zen and the Art of the World’s Deadliest Motorcycle Race By Stephen Phelan ~ The New Yorker


The English racer Geoff Duke at the Isle of Man T.T. races in 1955. Hundreds of competitors have died on the circuit.

Photograph by Hulton Archive / Getty


On the morning of June 7th, several spectators gathered by the side of a narrow country road in Ballig, on the Isle of Man, to witness the third full day of the Tourist Trophy—a weeklong series of motorcycle races held each year on this bumpy, grassy rock in the middle of the Irish Sea. They waited quietly, listening for engine noise amid the birdsong and the murmuring of a nearby stream. Suddenly, a high-performance bike blasted past, at such concussive velocity that it might have been a missile. First-timers winced and recoiled. “Who was that?” someone asked. More riders followed, fearsomely fast and loud, at intervals of a few seconds. Some were recognizable by their racing colors, others by their distinctive riding styles. Brian Coole, a local T.T. enthusiast, spoke familiarly about two of the year’s big rivals, Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop. “Hutchy guides the bike; Dunlop wrangles it,” he said.

There had already been several changes to the 2017 lineup. Rider No. 5, the twenty-three-time T.T. winner John McGuinness, had been forced to withdraw after breaking his right leg, three ribs, and four vertebrae in a bad crash, at a qualifying event in mid-May. Also absent was rider No. 71, Davey Lambert, who had crashed nearby four days earlier. Lambert’s death was announced just before the event now in progress, a four-lap race of the Snaefell Mountain Course. The thirty-eight-mile circuit, on winding public roads, is often said to represent the Mt. Everest of motorsport—partly for its technical challenges, but mainly for its deadliness.

On the first lap, rider No. 63, Jochem van den Hoek, rocketed through Ballig on his Honda at more than a hundred and fifty miles per hour. Some twenty seconds later, turning through a tricky curve at the eleventh milestone, he came off the bike. His death was confirmed that afternoon, around the same time that No. 52, the Irishman Alan Bonner, had his own collision higher up the mountain. Bonner was also killed, bringing the historic death toll on this circuit, which has been in use since 1907, to two hundred and fifty-five, including thirty-two in the past decade. (That figure does not account for race officials and spectators hit by runaway bikes.) For the first twenty years of the contest, parts of the course remained open to public traffic; in 1927, a racer named Archie Birkin was killed as he swerved to avoid a fish truck.

To the casual observer, the T.T. may seem like madness incarnate. “Yeah, I hear that all the time, and it winds me up a bit,” Richard (Milky) Quayle, a former racer, told me at the grandstand in Douglas, the Manx capital. “You couldn’t do this if you were mad. It takes too much focus and discipline.” Quayle had known the two men killed that day, and resented any suggestion that competitors were careless. “Every rider out there is actually living their life, not wasting it like you see so many other people doing,” he said. One of the few native islanders ever to win a podium place in the tournament, Quayle was now a chief adviser on the T.T. circuit, talking newcomers through the treacherous geometry of the Snaefell and assessing their readiness to ride it. He knew the dangers firsthand, having clipped a stone wall with his shoulder, in 2003, resulting in a spectacular crash that later made him famous on YouTube. “I smashed myself to bits,” he said. He only quit the T.T. because, soon afterward, he had a son. “I wouldn’t be able to take those total-commitment corners at Ballagarey or Quarry Bends, knowing he was waiting for me to come back,” he told me. “I still ride fast bikes almost every day. But I do miss the racing. And without it, to be honest, I struggle with life.”



Eagles Adopt Baby Red-Tailed Hawk, Putting Aside Violent Species Rivalry


An eagle family has adopted a baby red-tailed hawk in British Columbia, but scientists are not sure how much longer these natural enemies can live in harmony.

Lynda Robson/Hancock Wildlife Foundation


Bald eagles and red-tailed hawks are not typically friends — in fact, they have been known to fight each other to the death.

That’s why Canadian bird watchers were so surprised when they spotted a pair of bald eagles sharing a nest with and caring for a baby red-tailed hawk, in addition to their own three eaglets.

The unexpected interspecies family is living in a Douglas fir at the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary in British Columbia, as the Vancouver Sun reported.

And bird experts are putting forward two main theories about how a red-tailed hawk chick, a species that is a fraction of the size of an eagle, ended up in the nest.

Both theories reflect a degree of aggression more typical of hawk-eagle relations. And the two options essentially boil down to a timeless question — which came to the nest first: the chicken (ahem, hawk) or the egg?

First, raptor scientist David Bird proposes to the Sun that one of the eagles may have raided a hawk nest, grabbed the young hawk and carried it back home.

Then, “my guess is that this little guy begged loud and hard for food — not even thinking about the danger,” Bird told the Sun. “Food overrides everything in these birds. He begged away, and Mom and Dad said, ‘OK, here’s an open, gaping beak. Let’s put food in it.’ ”

A second theory, proposed in a blog post by David Hancock of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, suggests that the egg actually hatched in the nest.

It’s common for red-tailed hawks to divebomb bald eagle nests, he says. “If the attacking red-tail, egg in oviduct, did get carried back to the nearby eagle nest, it is not unlikely that either in the death throws or upon being torn apart (less likely in my experience!) the egg got deposited into the eagle nest.”

Then, the eagles inadvertently started incubating the egg and eventually reared it along with their own eaglets.



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Davey Lambert, a 48-year-old man from Gateshead, England, died this week after crashing at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, an annual motorcycle event here that claimed two more lives on Wednesday. Four competitors died in the races last year, and another was killed the year before that. Those fatalities brought the death toll at the event, known as the TT, to 146 since it was first run in 1907. If one includes fatal accidents occurring during the Manx Grand Prix, the amateur races held later in the summer on the same Snaefell Mountain Course, the figure rises above 250.


For this reason, and others, the TT has few parallels within global sports. The concept of mortality underpins everything here. It gives the race its prestige, opens it to criticism, makes it exhilarating, makes it terrifying. It puts the island on the map.


It is also why, for two weeks each year, this sleepy rock in the middle of the Irish Sea (population 88,000) becomes something like a rollicking festival ground. Organizers convert 37.73 miles of undulating public roads into an enormous, claw-shaped racetrack, and roughly 40,000 visitors, many of them bringing their own motorcycles, join local fans for a week of practices and a week of competition. It all culminates with the Senior TT, which takes place this Friday, a public holiday on the Isle of Man. (Schools are closed for the entire race week.)



Speeds over the four race days routinely exceed 200 miles per hour. Every year, there are crashes. Almost every year, there are deaths.






Rivals Chase the “Buss You Can’t Get Anywhere Else”

~~~ WATCH ~~~

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Bob Dylan Explains His Roots, As Only He Can, With Nobel Lecture ~ NPR


Two months and change after he accepted his Nobel Prize for Literature in a small ceremony in Stockholm, Bob Dylan has delivered his Nobel Lecture, required of all laureates in order to finalize the award. “Now that the lecture has been delivered and made public, the Dylan adventure is coming to a close,” writes Sara Danius, permanent secretary for the Swedish Academy, in a blog post.

The lecture, 26-and-a-half minutes long, finds Dylan contemplating the literary roots of his work and the nature of it, and of song, more elementally. “When I received the Noel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature,” opens Dylan. “I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was. I’m gonna try and articulate it to you — and most likely it will go in a roundabout way.”

He opens — as slow, thoughtful, Sesame Street-style piano plinks softly in the background, his paper rustling here and there — with some thoughts on Buddy Holly, who he says looms the largest in his life. “I felt a kin … like he was an older brother. “Something about him seemed permanent.” Dylan says Holly looked him straight in the eye, and claims that a day or two after that, Holly died. Through Holly and Leadbelly, he was exposed to the raw nerve and roots of American music. “I had a natural feeling for the ancient ballads in country blues…. but everything else I had to learn from scratch,” the last word pronounced ‘scrats.’

“You know that Stagger Lee was a bad man, and that Frankie was a good girl, you that Washington is a bourgeois town and you heard the deep-pitched voice of John the Revelator and you saw the Titanic sink in a boggy creek and you’re pals with the wild Irish rover and the wild colonial boy. You heard the muffled drums, the fifes that played lowly, you’ve seen the lusty Lord Donald stick a knife in his wife, and a lot of your comrades have been wrapped in white linen.”

Dylan then examines his literary development by looking, through a refracted lens, at the three works that had the biggest impact on him personally and artistically — Moby-Dick, All Quiet On the Western Front and The Odyssey. He penetrates each in a near-breathless examination of the themes and plot points and contours and shapes and colors of each work, much as he does in that kaleidoscopic folk music family tree. “And that’s it — that’s the whole story,” Dylan says of Moby-Dick, after an impressionistic monologue that could have been ripped from Finnegan’s Wake.

“So what does it all mean,” he wonders, concluding a pointillistic breakdown of The Odyssey. “[The themes] could mean a lot of different things. If a song moves you, that’s all that’s important. I don’t have to know what a song means. I’ve written all kinds of things into my songs, and I’m not gonna worry about it — what it all means.

“Songs are unlike literature,” he continues, softly contradicting the Academy. “They’re meant to be sung, not read. The words of Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be acted on the stage, just as the lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page. And I hope some of you get to listen to some of these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert, or on record, or however people are listening to songs these days.”

Dylan closes with a quote from Homer: “Sing in me, oh muse / And through me, tell the story.”



STATE OF (TRUMP’S) MIND Trump wasn’t always so linguistically challenged.

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MAY 23, 2017

It was the kind of utterance that makes professional transcribers question their career choice:

“ … there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but I can always speak for myself — and the Russians, zero.”

When President Trump offered that response to a question at a press conference last week, it was the latest example of his tortured syntax, mid-thought changes of subject, and apparent trouble formulating complete sentences, let alone a coherent paragraph, in unscripted speech.

He was not always so linguistically challenged.

STAT reviewed decades of Trump’s on-air interviews and compared them to Q&A sessions since his inauguration. The differences are striking and unmistakable.

Research has shown that changes in speaking style can result from cognitive decline. STAT therefore asked experts in neurolinguistics and cognitive assessment, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists, to compare Trump’s speech from decades ago to that in 2017; they all agreed there had been a deterioration, and some said it could reflect changes in the health of Trump’s brain.

In interviews Trump gave in the 1980s and 1990s (with Tom Brokaw, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Charlie Rose, and others), he spoke articulately, used sophisticated vocabulary, inserted dependent clauses into his sentences without losing his train of thought, and strung together sentences into a polished paragraph, which — and this is no mean feat — would have scanned just fine in print. This was so even when reporters asked tough questions about, for instance, his divorce, his brush with bankruptcy, and why he doesn’t build housing for working-class Americans.

Trump fluently peppered his answers with words and phrases such as “subsided,” “inclination,” “discredited,” “sparring session,” and “a certain innate intelligence.” He tossed off well-turned sentences such as, “It could have been a contentious route,” and, “These are the only casinos in the United States that are so rated.” He even offered thoughtful, articulate aphorisms: “If you get into what’s missing, you don’t appreciate what you have,” and, “Adversity is a very funny thing.”

Now, Trump’s vocabulary is simpler. He repeats himself over and over, and lurches from one subject to an unrelated one, as in this answer during an interview with the Associated Press last month:

“People want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it — you’ve been to many of the rallies. OK, the thing they want more than anything is the wall. My base, which is a big base; I think my base is 45 percent. You know, it’s funny. The Democrats, they have a big advantage in the Electoral College. Big, big, big advantage. … The Electoral College is very difficult for a Republican to win, and I will tell you, the people want to see it. They want to see the wall.”

For decades, studies have found that deterioration in the fluency, complexity, and vocabulary level of spontaneous speech can indicate slipping brain function due to normal aging or neurodegenerative disease. STAT and the experts therefore considered only unscripted utterances, not planned speeches and statements, since only the former tap the neural networks that offer a window into brain function.


As Climate Warms, Rafters and Fishermen Eye an Uncertain Future in the Upper Arkansas River Valley


The Arkansas River outside Buena Vista, Colo.

Outdoor sports dominate the Upper Arkansas River Valley, with attractions like white water rafting and fly fishing drawing tourists from across the country. With climate scientists predicting reduced flow as the century unfolds, the region could face a future with less water.

For visitors seeking an adventurous Colorado outdoor experience, look no further than Chaffee County.

“Most notably,” says Brandon Slate, who runs the Buena Vista-based Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center, “is our kayak and standup paddle school. We teach people how to do those activities. We also do white water raft trips, rock climbing, and mountain biking trips as well.”

The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center is one of many outfitters along the upper Arkansas River.

“We like to say, ‘Choose your own adventure,'” Slate says.

Just shy of 30 miles south of Buena Vista along Route 285 and the Arkansas River is the town of Salida. Judy Perham has lived there for almost nine years. On their way to lunch, Perham and her friend lean against the side of a bridge, drinking in the sight of the Arkansas and the snowcapped peaks in the background.

“I didn’t realize how much a river could mean to me until I moved out here,” Perham says. “It just really touches my soul, and I just enjoy it. I mean, I love it.”

~~~  READ/LISTEN  ~~~

Announcing the World Premiere screenings of DIRTBAG: THE LEGEND OF FRED BECKEY

Announcing DIRTBAG premiere screenings at Mountainfilm in Telluride and SIFF in Seattle

The moment has arrived!

The movie is done after more than a decade in the making.

We’re proud to announce the first ever public screenings of DIRTBAG: THE LEGEND OF FRED BECKEY.

The film will World Premiere over Memorial Day Weekend at Mountainfilm in Telluride (May 26-29), followed shortly by the Northwest Premiere on June 4 and June 10 at SIFF in Seattle!


Tickets will sell out fast, so act now at the links above if you plan to attend!

If you live outside of the Telluride and Seattle areas, don’t worry! We’re planning to take the film on tour in 2017-18 to screen in as many cities and festivals as possible.

Stay tuned for more announcements and follow @DirtbagMovie on Twitter for the latest breaking news on the project.

Check out the new Theatrical Trailer for DIRTBAG:

Watch the DIRTBAG Theatrical Trailer

Watch the DIRTBAG Theatrical Trailer

Huge thanks for your support on behalf of Fred and the hundreds of people who contributed to this documentary! Fred’s life story will finally be told. We could not have done this without you. See you soon.

Best regards,

The DIRTBAG Movie Team

Fred Beckey on a ski trip in Whistler, April 2017
photo by Dani McDonough


Dirtbag_ The Legend of Fred Beckey
Presented by Patagonia

Directed and Produced by
Dave O’Leske

Andy McDonough
Colin Plank
Jason Reid

Adam Brown
Jeff Wenger

Executive Producer
Colin Baxter

Darren Lund
Jason Reid

Jon Garn

Visual Effects
J. Baab

Joe Garber
Carl Nelson

Digital Media Producer
Sandy Jeglum

Original Score
Brad Anthony Laina
John E. Low

Featuring the Music of
Steve Gunn

Additional Music
Dave Huebner
Ghosts I’ve Met

Aerial Footage
Luke Allen Humphrey
John Scurlock
Whitney Hassett

Featuring Interviews with
Fred Beckey
Helmy Beckey
Yvon Chouinard
Eric Bjornstad
Conrad Anker
Ed Viesturs
Colin Haley
Layton Kor
Tom Hornbein
Norman Dyhrenfurth
Jim Whittaker
Royal Robbins
Reinhold Messner
Jim Donini
Peter Croft
Barry Blanchard
Timothy Egan
and many more!

Nonprofit Sponsors

Camp 3 Sponsors
Joss Stewart
Kristin O’Leske
Dan Herman

Camp 2 Sponsor
Richard P Malloch

A Film By
Through A Child_s Eyes Productions

2R Productions

Roped In Productions

Lucid Visual Media


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Commerce secretary Wilber Ross praises the lack of protest in a country where it’s punishable by death ~ This is a great example of who Trump has on staff! …

Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross offered two highlights from his trip to Saudi Arabia in an interview with CNBC on Monday morning. First, he enjoyed the two bushels of dates he was given by Saudi Arabian security guards and, second, he was pleased that he saw no protester with “a bad placard.”

Perhaps because an American-style protest is illegal in that country and can result in a death sentence.

Ross was using the lack of protesters as an example of how warmly the Trump administration was received in the country.

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~~~  Humorous video  ~~~