Thursday, July 19, 2012

Glory of the Eighties

(I've been such a busy bee, working working working and editing editing editing. Will get back to posting my five-star books soon. In the meantime, here's something that's been tumbling around in my head.)

So it would seem that the Eighties are another long decade. Somehow the Seventies contracted, allowing the Eighties to begin in late 1978 or early 1979; the Nineties graciously reciprocated by allowing the Eighties to continue until the release of Nevermind in late 1991. In much the way that we refer to "the Sixties" to evoke the period from the Summer of Love to the break-up of the Beatles, today's young writers and editors refer to the Eighties to evoke the period of crass consumerism, allegedly bad fashion, neon colours, and big hair. Hmm, that sounds pretty familiar to — well, to the life we live today — and maybe that's why so many people now find the Eighties so evocative. The Eighties may offer a touchstone to help us understand what we're going through in the 2010s. That's kind of glorious, right?

Or maybe just depressing. That whole thing about history repeating itself... Hmm.

Then again, I kinda liked the hair...

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

My Five-Star Bookshelf, Part Eight

Jeff Gailus, The Grizzly Manifesto: In Defence of the Great Bear

If you know me at all, you know I have a fascination with bears. Jeff Gailus' book makes an intellectually fierce and personally impassioned argument for paying attention to the fate of the grizzly bear. For its topic alone, the book would have my attention; but for its insights, its argumentation, and its voice, it has a position as one of my five-star books.

Bears are culturally fascinating because of their intelligence, their strength, and their behaviours; and the grizzly, with its huge range and towering stature, is a mythic creature living in our midst. Unfortunately, living in the midst of modern humans has set the grizzly on its downfall: most of what we read about grizzlies today has to do with attacks on humans, deaths of bears on railway tracks, or lotteries for hunting permits. Grizzlies in Canada are in peril, and Gailus' book explains why. Interestingly, he offers a trans-national perspective for bear management, suggesting provocatively that — gasp! — the United States may, in Yellowstone Park, at least, be doing a better job than Canada in managing its grizzlies and other large carnivores. Given that the bears' natural range extends from the Arctic tundra to far south of the forty-ninth parallel and that the bears don't notice national boundaries, we must start thinking internationally if we hope to keep grizzly populations viable.

But there is the pivotal point: do we have the will to keep these large carnivores alive when our continued social wealth depends on moving increasingly into the bears' remaining habitats? If we examine Alberta headlines from the last ten years, we might conclude the answer is no. Gailus provides a strong reason for that answer to be yes.

This slim book should be required reading for both environmentalists and policy-makers. If you live in Alberta or British Columbia; if you visit Canada's mountain parks; if you care about the fate of North American ecosystems, read this book and discover how you are implicated in the death of grizzlies and how you can change the fate of the grizzlies that remain. I promise you, this book is worth your time.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Saturday's Playlist

"The going water and the gone..." This is the way the world revealed itself to me on a warm weekend night.

1. Melissa Etheridge, "Angels Would Fall"
2. Tori Amos, "Happy Phantom"
3. Stevie Nicks, "Edge of Seventeen"
4. Kim Wilde, "You Keep Me Hangin' On"
5. Oh Susanna, "You'll Always Be"
6. Eurythmics, "Sex Crime"
7. Tears for Fears, "Mad World"
8. Lady Gaga, "Poker Face"
9. Hawksley Workman, "Smoke Baby"
10. Robbie Robertson, "Somewhere Down the Crazy River"
11. U2, "With or Without You"
12. Aerosmith, "Remember (Walking in the Sand)"
13. U2, "Hawkmoon 269"
14. Suzanne Vega, "Marlene on the Wall"
15. Kate Bush, "Leave It Open"