One true thing

View from Lopez
View from Lopez
We are back and recovered from our latest trip, and have a couple of weeks here before we again head out. We have a brief trip to Montana in early April, where all of Eileen Tokarski’s grandchildren (and their parents and step-parent) are gathering for an impromptu graveside memorial. As my oldest said, they’ve not really had a chance to “process” her passing, by which she means to say good-bye. Standing at a grave, which I don’t otherwise recommend, serves that purpose. It is a moving experience when done with the intent to create closure. The most effective means by which I’ve seen this ceremony work is by releasing helium balloons and watching them drift far away and out of sight. It is a powerful image guaranteed to produce tears.

Later in April we are going to Bellingham to visit Mom’s sole surviving sister, and from there to visit a cousin on Lopez Island out in the San Juan’s. This cousin, I am so pleased to report, recently was allowed to marry her spouse of many years – legally. I only knew of her, but not on a personal basis. I had read the book JFK and the Unspeakable, by James Douglass, and in the acknowledgements (who reads those?) found he had a Northwest connection, and then I saw my cousin’s name. It’s not a common name, but not that uncommon either, and I thought can it be? Months later I passed the question on to my aunt, and yes, I learned, this was my cousin. Later we had a long phone conversation, and she sent me an early draft of a stage play to advance the Doulglass work, and also some of his work on the MLK murder. I am excited at the prospect of spending time with them.

I so look forward to that trip. Everything is new and fresh when old eyes see new faces and places.

After Lopez, we are off to Portland for a week. We rented a condo in the downtown area, and will have some grand-kid/kid time. Portland in April is really kind of a nice place. We might even kayak the Willamette.

I know, you’re thinking who has time to travel like that? Not many. But then, in all these years before I’ve not had time or money to travel much, and so went on a journey of the mind. I just got back from wasting part of my Saturday on the impenetrable PW at the Intelligent Disconnection. All I ever did before I could travel was to make regular trips to the book store, and my whole world view changed. I did not mean for that to happen. I was the staid, boring, self-assured Catholic Republican that my parents had raised. But for that to happen to PW, one true thing has to sneak through his defenses and undermine his certitude. I don’t know what that one true thing might be. I only know that 1) he’s not looking, and 2) hasn’t stumbled yet.

The key to understanding this country and its intellectual culture is this: PW is protected from ever finding one true thing by intellectual hubris. Unless he stumbles on on one true thing, unless it jumps out from behind a tree and slaps him, he’s merely on his way to becoming yet another serious commentator on the important state of affairs in this world. He’ll know nothing, least of all that he knows nothing. Those kind of people write our important books and fill our TV screens. That’s why this country is so damned boring!

6 thoughts on “One true thing

  1. Here’s how the big girls and boys do it. Scripted, staged, packaged, all presented in perfect harmony. All that’s missing is a pretty little bow on top. Your friends at Intellegent Dissent may be in training to become the next Democrat to organize the thoughts and acts of unsuspecting Montanans. Like baby birds eating pre-digested insects from the parents, the Chronicle ate right out of their lying mouths. Transmitters never swallow, they spew. To them access is sustenance. Sucking up to the status quo is their mantra. Long live The Party.

    Sorry, wasn’t smart enough to get a proper link to work.

    LAURA LUNDQUIST, Chronicle Staff Writer | Posted: Friday, March 14, 2014 10:15 pm

    The Department of the Interior has plans for managing energy development on public lands, saving species and helping Native Americans, but in a time of constrained budgets, it’s going to need help from the public, according to the Secretary of the Interior.

    On Friday night, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined Sen. Jon Tester for a question-and-answer session on the future of public lands and endangered species as part of the Wheeler Center for the Exploration of Montana Issues lecture series.

    Nicol Rae, dean of the College of Letters and Science, asked a wide range of questions dealing with Interior Department responsibilities before putting it out to the audience of more than 300 people in Gaines Hall at Montana State University.

    On the perceived tug-of-war between conservation and development, Jewell said development and conservation could both exist if the interested parties would participate in thoughtful planning.

    Jewell said many Montanans — sportsmen, conservationists, ranchers and farmers — have come to the table to find that middle ground.

    As an example, she pointed to Montana’s Crown of the Continent project with its conservation easements that help preserve a broader landscape to serve as wildlife migration corridors.

    “It’s that kind of landscape-level understanding that we have to do around the country and Montana is a model,” Jewell said.

    Tester said development, particularly energy development, needs to continue, but it should be done in an intelligent manner to keep some of the treasured parts of the state.

    “There are some places where development would be a poor choice, the Rocky Mountain Front being one,” Tester said. “If we aren’t proactive about how we deal with these treasured landscapes, they will be gone.”

    Jewell, a former petroleum engineer, said that the Interior Department was trying to increase permitting for renewable energy projects on public lands — 50 have received permits since 2009 — to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels. But they have their own effects on wildlife, and the switch can’t happen overnight.

    The only order Jewell has issued so far is a directive to look at energy development and conservation swaps on a landscape scale. If development is allowed in one area, Jewell said, another pristine area should be set aside far enough away from the development that it won’t be affected.

    Tester agreed, adding that some North Dakota farmers told him that the thing that was missing from the Bakken oil fields was planning.

    Going beyond that, Jewell said, the American public should endeavor to conserve more resources, whether it’s water or energy, and demand more sustainable behavior from businesses.

    “It’s complicated, it’s long term. But we’re on a constructive track and we’re going to continue,” Jewell said. “But you’ll continue to see conventional energy development. But we’ll do it in a way that’s safe and responsible.”

    Asked about Endangered Species Act listings such as the wolf and the sage grouse, Jewell said it is the area of greatest controversy in the Interior Department, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must be dispassionate and use the best available science.

    The delisting of the gray wolf was proposed because the species is not in danger of going extinct, even though it hasn’t been fully restored to its historic range, Jewell said.

    “Emotions run high around the ESA on both sides. But it is a law that has been very effective in opening our eyes to our ecosystems and their interdependencies,” Jewell said.

    The Department of the Interior and all the agencies it oversees — the Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the bureaus of Land Management, Reclamation and Indian Affairs — are facing three difficult trends, Jewell said: constrained financial resources, climate change and upcoming generations that are more disconnected from the outdoors.

    Knowing that a significant amount of the department’s workforce is eligible for retirement within five years, Jewell said she has a four-tiered plan to get youth more engaged in the outdoor recreation.

    But she asked the audience to help get youth interested.

    “We are seeing a growing disconnect on every level between children and nature. It’s a huge problem,” Jewell said. “I am charging my colleagues to prioritize programs that welcome young people in.”

    Jewell was making a brief tour of Montana after a week of witnessing the struggles of farmers and cities during California’s devastating drought.

    The discussion will be broadcast within a few weeks on Montana PBS.


  2. To get to Lopez, drive to Anacortes and walk on the ferry. Parking at the ferry landing is free. It’s pretty easy to thumb a ride on the island. People are friendly.


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