Berfrois

Thomas Dunlap: Guiding Birders

Thomas Dunlap: Guiding Birders

From The World of Birds, Roger Tory Peterson, 1977 by Thomas R. Dunlap Even people with no interest in field guides know about them; they lie on friends’ shelves and windowsills (the one near the bird feeder, usually), and people stand in the park, binoculars around their neck, thumbing...

Read More

Planet Earth as Spaceship

Planet Earth as Spaceship

by Joe Linker “Now there is one outstandingly important fact regarding Spaceship Earth, and that is that no instruction book came with it,” says Buckminster Fuller, explaining the title of his 1969 book, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, in the chapter titled “Spaceship Earth.” The whole idea is a metaphor, comparing...

Read More

‘The aim is to produce maps that governments cannot ignore’

‘The aim is to produce maps that governments cannot ignore’

Villagers in DRC being trained to use GPS systems. Photograph by The Rainforest Foundation From Environment 360: Deep in the African rainforest and three days from home, a tribal hunter, punting down a backwater, puts aside his spear and takes out a GPS handset. He doesn’t need the Global...

Read More

Leslie Paul Thiele: Sustainability

Leslie Paul Thiele: Sustainability

King Midas turns his daughter to gold, from A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls by Nathaniel Hawthorn, 1893 by Leslie Paul Thiele Sustainability is quickly becoming the lingua franca of public discourse. It is endorsed by government agencies around the globe, championed by increasing numbers of international non-governmental...

Read More

The Editorial Climate by Keith and Orrin Pilkey

The Editorial Climate by Keith and Orrin Pilkey

This good intentioned attempt to warn society has led to an unanticipated hailstorm of criticism and a loss of credibility across a broad spectrum of science. In Virginia, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli launched a civil investigation into renowned climate scientist Michael Mann.

Read More

‘Manure is the flashpoint of exurban consciousness’

‘Manure is the flashpoint of exurban consciousness’

Thoreau’s Cove, Concord, Massachusetts From Design Observer: Currently, the town is embroiled in a minor controversy, played out on the municipal listserv, about a local pond that has been purchased by the town and preserved under a conservation easement. Where there used to be a clothing-optional beach and a...

Read More

‘A quarter-mile of corkline and mesh writhing and splashing’

‘A quarter-mile of corkline and mesh writhing and splashing’

Bristol Bay, Nick Hall From N+1: About half the world’s supply of wild salmon comes from a system of rivers, lakes, and streams in western Alaska that empties into Bristol Bay, a relatively shallow body of water roughly 250 miles long and 180 miles wide. Every summer, 40 million...

Read More

Mark Hudson: The Fires Will Come

Mark Hudson: The Fires Will Come

Bitteroot National Forest, Montana, 2000  by Mark Hudson Readers may have noticed, either from perusing the newspaper or having their house burn down, that wildland fires seem to have been getting worse lately.  The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), which tracks the number of acres burned in wildfires every year,...

Read More

Does George Monbiot live in Sector 7G, Fantasy Island?

Does George Monbiot live in Sector 7G, Fantasy Island?

In Fukushima's Wake | by Alexander Cockburn

New Left Review 

The reactions to Fukushima from the nuclear industry’s shills have been predictable—if still scarcely believable—sallies into cognitive dissonance. Thus Paddy Reagan, professor of Nuclear Physics at the University of Surrey: ‘We had...

Read More

Energy Infatuations

Energy Infatuations

Illustration by Milo Winter, from Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift, 1930 edition  From American Scientist: To follow global energy affairs is to have a never-ending encounter with new infatuations. Fifty years ago media ignored crude oil (a barrel went for little more than a dollar). Instead the western utilities were preoccupied...

Read More

‘It’s we who decide what nature is and what it will be’

‘It’s we who decide what nature is and what it will be’

Henry J. Fair, December 2005 From Environment 360: Human population will approach ten billion within the century. We spread our man-made ecosystems, including “mega-regions” with more than 100 million inhabitants, as landscapes characterized by heavy human use — degraded agricultural lands, industrial wastelands, and recreational landscapes — become characteristic...

Read More

Toads in the Gorge

Toads in the Gorge

From Guernica: Kim Howell is a white-haired giant who wears Kissinger glasses that magnify his eyes. He was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and paid for a degree in vertebrate zoology at Cornell University by working at the school’s Library of Natural Sound. Howell preserved archival recordings of birdcalls collected...

Read More
Logan K. Young on The Replacements

I, myself, was barely six months old when Twin/Tone put out The Mats’ Let It Be. The day, they say, was Orwellian: Tuesday, October...

Read More
Tyranny Is a Growth Industry by Vladimir Savich and Zachary Bos

Tyranny is a growth industry. Each day brings exciting new developments. These events imprint themselves upon the world in the form of newspapers, magazines,...

Read More
Tjoa Shze Hui: 1920s

Of the many witticisms that make up The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, one voiced by Picasso really gets under the skin. He says...

Read More
Elias Tezapsidis on Lorentzen, Batuman, Lerner, Smallwood and Stein

Contemporary narrators feel entitled to their own realities now more than ever. The internet has created this fascinating binary, one in which individuals can...

Read More
Henry Giardina on Bob Hope

All mythical creatures need an origin story. The Bob Hope character springs into being, Athena-like, from out of the head of Preston Sturges in...

Read More
Mattilda B. Sycamore: Yearning From Spurning

One problem with gentrification is that it always gets worse. But then I go into a Hooters, and it’s a vintage clothing store. A...

Read More
Alexander McGregor
Alexander McGregor: Trauma

Following World War II, the German philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote, “Nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben, ist barbarisch”: to write poetry after Auschwitz is...

Read More
John Crutchfield: Chords

But music, even bad music, is a symptom of hope, is it not? Naturally one would prefer the music to be good, but any...

Read More
Menachem Feuer on Robin Williams

Regardless of whether you are from Europe, the United States, Asia, or Africa, we can all agree that there is something special about the...

Read More
Reality Principles: Berfrois Interviews Frank Smecker

I don't know if I ever wanted to become a theorist. I struggle with this position. For me, it's a hystericized — and therefore...

Read More
Albert Rolls: Which (Side) Are You On, Man?

James Parker begins his review of Inherent Vice with the quip, “If Thomas Pynchon were a stand-up comedian, and Inherent Vice his newest routine,...

Read More
Keith Doubt
Keith Doubt on Serbia

The intellectual integrity of cultural anthropology is based largely on its commitment to cultural relativism as a principled notion. Cultural relativism is the principle...

Read More
A Gosse in Woolf’s Clothing by Andre Gerard

On May 31, two weeks after his death, and the day before Orlando was sent to the printer, Woolf noted his death as follows:...

Read More
Andrew Gallix: Let’s Go!

Retro-futurism, as we now call it, came out of the closet in the late '70s due to the widespread feeling that there was indeed...

Read More