Flooding the Grand Canyon

Here’s a nice little news tidbit that is currently escaping media hype – federal officials are flooding the canyon in hopes of reviving its dying ecosystem. What? You mean the 25 or so dams that currently control the Colorado River and provide most of the water to Las Vegas and half of California may have been not a good idea? Of course, this particular flooding is only the release of the Glen Canyon dam. The article states “The canyon’s ecosystem was permanently changed after the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1963.” Um, ok. What about the Davis Dam, Parker Dam, Palo Verde Diversion Dam, or Imperial Dam? Did they not affect the canyon’s ecosystem? What about the Hoover Dam? I’m sure flooding 20% of the Canyon in the 40s didn’t have much impact.

While I do typically vote for human rights over animal rights (I.e., I’m a meatasaur and if natural resource limitations mean starving children or starving deer, I’m voting to starve the deer), I think in this instance there should be some limitations.  Do we really need to have Vegas in the middle of the desert?  Really?  Can’t we just move the whole blitz to someplace with an annual rainfall of more than 4″?  Texas, perhaps?

If there’s one thing that all the debate about global warming has taught us, it’s that we don’t know what we’re doing.  Intelligent people criticize all possible solutions, as well as the very existence of global warming.  In a scientific atmosphere where no real general trends have yet to be ‘proven’ for the globe, how do we have the pride to determine what far-reaching effects our actions might take?  How do we know that forest farming is not going to harm the plains region, or that selective logging will both prevent forest fires and preserve a forest ecosystem?  How do we know what impacts chemicals in our crops or steroids in our meat will have on our children or our children’s children?  How do we know that preservation of national parks and refuges will increase biodiversity or simply waste a valuable resource?  how do we begin to discrimiate between the wide variety of information and research that is available to us?

I continue to seek answers.

Food and looking good.

It’s always been one of standards of advertising – if something looks good, people will buy it. This is particularly true in fast food advertising. We’ve all seen the ads – tomato slices glistening with freshness, a juicy, tender-looking hamburger patty between two halves of the perfectly baked bun. And our mouth waters, despite the fact that we know our burger experience won’t be anything like that. The bread will be squished, the tomato mealy, and the lettuce half-wilted. Still, we buy into the image and the sultry, deep voice describing the delectable nature of the food choice.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this kind of advertising. The product, the perfect burger, could in some rare case be exactly as it’s pictured on television – it’s not necessarily false advertising. And I certainly don’t blame advertising companies for selling the product wholeheartedly by appealing to our most base sense – that of sight. I’m not even blaming us for responding to the advertising positively, especially if only for a moment. Still, the image of food seems to have a profound impact on us that we tend to disregard.

Take this blog post for instance. I was drawn in by the title, ‘tart and tangy’. The images were vivid, artistic, and well composed. But when i read the text itself, I felt cheated when the author initially disliked the results of her recipe. Ultimately, the review of this recipe was positive, but at the end I still felt cheated. What did the images give me that the text did not to leave this impression? Was it the artfulness of the juxtaposition of knife, plate, and empty space in the first picture? Was it the rich and vivid colors of the berries themselves? The article was what it was – a valid review of a newly found recipe. But somehow I wanted more but wasn’t sure what. Social comment? Emotive elements? Ethical appeal?

Another instance of this dissatisfaction can be seen in the Iron and Wine video, ‘Naked as We Came’.

I am oddly disturbed/moved by this video. What does it all mean? The back-and-forth of life and death, food and eating and remnants, light and rain and shadow, serve to imply some odd sort of whole message. But I still have no idea what it is. I am dissatisfied and oddly attracted to it, its vividness and gentle solemness. I want to see it again, just to try and figure out what it means, and a part of that is related to the feelings of seeing all this good-looking food just out there. And the ants. It’s a squeamish-delicious feeling, and I have the odd sensation it’s trying to tell me something about my own life.

Is this odd reaction to seeing ‘good food’ a primal instinct? Are our reactions here purely biological? Let me rephrase – yes, our reactions are biological. But are they sparked only by the natural need of sustenance, that mouth-watering reaction to certain sights and smells? Or do we have deeper, more complex reactions as well, relating to our emotions, memory, and abstract categorizations of life and what it means? Does me seeing the newest hamburger ad tempt me simply to go out and buy a hamburger, or does my reaction have some larger, unintended consequences?

Goodbye comics, hello U.S. of A.

Some of you may have read my former postings about TEAL (Typo Eradication Advancement League). Today, at the start of Jeff’s momentous journey across the contiguous United States correcting errors as he finds them, I am glad to announce the website is up! You will also notice I’ve updated my blogroll with the current TEAL blog, as opposed to Jeff’s old one. I will be sad to see the comics and some of that olde-tyme humor disappear. However, in order to make space (and spare time) for his momentous journey, some of Jeff’s pursuits must fall by the wayside. Still, let’s take a moment for nostalgia. Sigh.

But there is a new path to tread, a new life to be led. And for that, I say good luck to Jeff and companions on his several-month quest. Adieu, adieu, parting is such sweet sorrow.

Kayak (aka, why the author is dumb)

I recently purchased tickets to go to Saint Louis for my college five year reunion. Some of you who are in the area will be excited by this news. Others of you who despise higher education will be disgusted by my returning to the scene of the crime. Still others may be wondering why I have yet to visit. Regardless, this unusual feat of cheap ticket buying was made possible by Kayak, my favorite online ticket-getter. It searches a range of airlines and cheap ticket vendors online to get you the best price. Plus, with buttons and bars on the left margin, the search is easily re-customizable. Also, for certain vendors like Priceline, it will open a simultaneous search in a new window. The only drawback is that since Kayak does not sell fares directly, sometimes a flight will sell out in the time it takes you to navigate to an airline’s website. And, per usual, Southwest is not available through their search.

Still, the information is some of the best available, and also offers possible fares on other days, and graphs showing when tickets might be cheaper. Fortunately, I was able to secure tickets on US Air for about $230. Unfortunately, I did not realize I could have gotten direct AA flights for about $250. That’s another of the problem – with so many flight choices from a single airline at the same price, price-ordered listings can be deceiving. A dollar more or less can cause an entire separate page of listings. I would have readily paid the extra 20 bucks for the direct flight, but my tickets are non-refundable. Instead I will be going through Charlotte, alas.