Michael Crichton’s remarks to the Commonwealth Club, 2003

ChichtonI don’t often (or ever) say to readers that you should go read something that I read. I know how that works, as I am usually reluctant to take time from my planned day to indulge anyone. So my suggestion here is to simply take a glance at the opening words of Michael Crichton to the Commonwealth Club in 2003, and see if you have the same experience that I did. Crichton was such an engaging writer that he held readers rapt for decades. See if upon reading the beginning, you find yourself reading the end too. Maybe so, maybe not.

Here are the opening two paragraphs:

I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.

We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.

Continue reading “Michael Crichton’s remarks to the Commonwealth Club, 2003”

Please pass the thistle …

Everts Thistle The plant to the left is commonly known as “Everts Thistle,”named after Truman Everts, a low-level bureaucrat who used its roots to survive during a 37-day ordeal that lasted from September 9 to October 15, 1870. The plant was and is abundant in Yellowstone National Park.

This post is not part of the normal fare of this blog. I have long known the survival tale of Truman Everts, but never the details. I have long known that cirsium scariosum, or Elk Thistle, was renamed in honor of this man.  On our way to Yellowstone last month, my wife read the Everts tale to our grandson and me from the book by Dave Walter, Montana Campfire Tales, and I was enraptured. It is an heroic tale, but Everts did not go on to become a governor or senator, to write a book or to even become famous. He was just a man who in the face of 37 days of insults to his body and mind, survived.

Continue reading “Please pass the thistle …”

Little dictators

The above video is an interview of Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto, by Mark Steyn, a Canadian author and pundit. I don’t expect that the reader take time from other pursuits to watch it, but if you do, it is informative. Peterson talks about how far afield the gender identity movement has gone.

Over the past months I have become familiar with Steyn, and enjoy his writing and speaking style. He is a climate change skeptic, and at one time called Michael Mann’s hockey stick “fraudulent.” In response Mann sued Steyn.

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YNP

We are in the last day, a travel day, after spending the last week in Yellowstone National Park with our 12-year-old grandson. What a fun time we have had! A few observations.

  • Over the years, especially when we lived in Bozeman, my wife and I have avoided the big attractions of YNP, Old Faithful, Lower and Upper falls and the Grand Canyon, and all of the geysers and mud pots and hissers. This time we made it a point to take the grand tour. We got to see those sites through the boy’s eyes. He was enthralled, as I was at his age. Our only regret, he did not get to see Morning Glory Pool … the day was waning, the drive ahead was long, it was two miles away. He offered to run there and back, as he is hockey-conditioned, but we had to move on. He’ll see it another day. Continue reading “YNP”

Smarmy. MWA Embraces Sheep

Desertification is real, and irreversible.

The Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) has always thrown wildlife and native trout habitat under the bus when faced with a choice between a bigger budget and standing up to corporate enterprise.

https://wildmontana.org/wild-life/shearing-sheep-in-the-ruby-valley

Their latest sell-out, in alliance with other NGO sell-outs Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Greater Yellowstone Coalition among others, is a deal with the devil — the industrial sheep business in Southwest Montana.


John Helle’s private, domestic sheep graze in prime grizzly bear, bighorn sheep (roadless, public land) habitat for 27 cents per head per month.

I have nothing against sheep, except when there are too many of them in one place, for too long. Ever been to the Middle East? Greedy men in the sheep and goat business have destroyed continents.

The story of conservationists and corporate capitalists working in harmony, side by side, whatever the industry, is a false one dependent on paid agents posing as people with a passion for nature. Their passion is for status, money and power. It’s that simple. One way to always tell the fake from the real deal is to look at the size of the budget and number of employees. Over $1 million annually pretty much guarantees nothing will get done for the land, water or wildlife. The other way to tell the shit from shinola is the media coverage. Lots of favorable, smarmy, human interest stories is a dead giveaway you’re being duped.

Mark and I have both been duped by MWA and similar ilk. If this little diatribe prevents one more honest conservation-minded person from being taken in and disappointed, it’s well worth the ink.

“ … Into the Desert, Seeking Rest But Finding None …”

This story is not the usual POM fare. Where it properly belongs I could not say. If it is not your cup of tea, skip it. I have never told this tale to anyone except my wife. Believe it or don’t, that’s up to you. But every detail is true, down to the last.

Especially the last …

The year was 1994 or 1995.  I cannot say which for sure; maybe 1996, even.  The salient point is that it occurred back in the day when airlines gave big price breaks if you stayed over a Saturday night, so that it was often cheaper to pay for an extra couple days’ worth of hotels and meals than to fly home on the Friday evening of a business trip.  And for that reason my normally stingy company gave me some leisure time on the West coast, such as I could never have swung on my own budget.

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Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild

It was another long summer of smoke-filled eyes in the West. An early snow storm in the Northern Rockies ushers in a season of peace and solitude. Wildfires frighten tourists, excite the media and reacquaint homeowners who built in the forest to Mother Nature’s laws.  Hey, I get it, fires are deadly and sexy – good ratings. But after decades of kicking the environmental can down the road, at the first sign of smoke most politicians want someone else to blame for their pathetic past performances.

Three of the last four summers (2015, 2017, 2018), Glacier National Park erupted in a fury of smoke and flames. Tourists scampered away to Yellowstone, “inholder” homes were evacuated, some incinerated. But that’s not why I picked up the pen today. Let’s talk about quiet, yes quiet.  Where has our quiet gone? Continue reading “Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild”