Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hofstra University Ghost Tour Plus Lecture on an Early Long Island Witch Trial

Mr. Hofstra
Happy Halloween! Today, Hofstra University will have its first ever Ghost Tour which will take place on campus at 6:15pm. Along with the tour, there will be apple cider and apple cider donuts. Participants will meet various Hofstra dignitaries who died on campus and learn about some notable murders that happened nearby before the university formed in the 1935. I will be playing Mr. Hofstra who died in Hofstra Hall in 1932. If you are in the area, I hope to see you there!

Just prior to the tour, there will be a lecture at 4:30 by Tara Rider about Goody Garlick who was tried for witchcraft on Long Island. The trial took place three decades before the Salem Witch Trials. The lecture should prove to be informative about the early history of Long Island.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Edward Abbey Quiz

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It is time again for an On the Brink Quiz! Today's quiz focuses on the noted writer and philosopher, Edward Abbey. Links to previous quizzes follow the questions. The answers are in the comments section.

1. Edward Abbey's most famous novel focuses on a group of people trying to destroy the systems that cause environmental damage. Name the book.

2. In what state was Abbey born?

3. Although he was born far from the American West, he spent much of his adult life there and made it a focus of his writing. What brought him to the west to live?

4. Abbey had a love/hate relationship with the U.S. Government. For example, he was drafted into the military, hated it, and was discharged as a private. However, he worked for the government some summers. What did he do?

5. One of his most important pieces of non-fiction is Desert Solitaire. It focuses on landscapes of one state. Name the state.

6. Abbey wrote often about man's intrusions into the west and how damaging they were. His ire frequently focused on one dam. It is mentioned in many of his writings. Name the dam.

7. Although he didn't found the group, he is often associated with an important controversial environmental anarchist organization. Name it.

8. Abbey had many relationships with women and had five children. How many times was he married?

9. Abbey tried to be provocative and controversial in his writing. He felt that environmentalists were too passive in their approach. Throughout his life, he was a provocateur. Some believe that his radicalism derived from his upbringing by his parents who were rather liberal. What did his parents do for a living?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Climate Change Costing Taxpayers Billions

An article by Michael Biesecker in The Chicago Tribune notes that climate change is costing taxpayers billions according to the Government Accountability Office. The office expects that the taxpayer burden will grow.

The taxpayer responsibility to pay for climate change is caused by crop loss, floods, hurricanes, fires, and a variety of other problems. While the EPA has been busy scrubbing climate change from its Website, and while it has prohibited U.S. government scientists from speaking about climate change, the public is not banned from paying for the costs of climate change that the government is busy denying. The burden for the costs of bad decisions by industry are being transferred to the public at large as the U.S. abandons a very modest attempt at developing climate change policy.

I am writing this from the Geological Society of America annual meeting where there have been many presentations by top-notch researchers on the clear evidence of climate change on our planet. The disconnect between the scientific community and the U.S. government is creating a rift that will have many long-term consequences.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Castle Clinton National Monument

Today I continue my series on all 129 U.S. National Monuments. This is in follow up to my series that featured open access photos of all of the U.S. National Parks. In the coming years, I will highlight open access images all of the U.S. National Monuments in alphabetical order.

Today's featured monument is Castle Clinton National Monument in New York City. This is not one of the monuments that is under review for delisting as per executive order by the president. Following the photos is a list of U.S. National Monuments previously featured on this blog.

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Previous On the Brink posts in the National Monument Series:

Admiralty Island National Monument
African Burial Ground National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agua Fria National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Basin and Range National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument
Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Booker T. Washington National Monument
Browns Canyon National Monument
Buck Island Reef National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument
California Coastal National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Palgrave Handbook of Sustainability: Case Studies and Practical Solutions

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Posting in this space and in social media has been a little light as of late. I was working on a publication deadline for a book project and I was spending most of my free time in bringing the project to conclusion with my friend and colleague, Sandra Garren.

The project is called the Palgrave Handbook of Sustainability:  Case Studies and Practical Solutions. It is a 260,000 word document that includes dozens of chapters by authors from all over the world that focus on real-world examples of sustainability successes. Putting together such a big book is a significant undertaking and I couldn't have had a better partner on the project than Sandra. The book will be out in 2018.

As many of my readers know, I have been using The Artist's Way as a productivity tool for years and this blog is a big part of my process. For those of you unfamiliar with The Artist's Way, it uses a number of techniques to enhance writing output, including the use of something called morning pages that are written prior to starting formal writing. This blog has served the purpose of being one part of my morning pages practice. Over the last several months, as the book's deadline loomed, I had to set aside most of  my early morning writing time to focus entirely on editorial work. Now that the book is at the publishers expect to see the blog posts increase a bit more. I have two other books I am finishing, but they are smaller projects and will be part of my normal writing process. Expect to hear more about those books in this space in the future.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Appropriating the Small Home

The tiny home movement was not just discovered by hipsters.
Mobile home parks have been around for decades.
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The New York Times has a cringe-worthy article by Lisa Prevost in today's edition about the difficulty owners of small homes have in finding a place to park their structure. It is worth a read. I have largely rolled my eyes at the small house movement over the last several years as it was uncomfortably embraced by the sustainability movement. While I applaud the intent, the movement is so embedded in class-based sustainability that it is difficult for me to take it seriously.


The small house movement has always been present. Just ask poor people. 

The small house movement is appropriating the idea of small homes from the poor by turning them into something for the elite. Small home owners demand access to space in places that were not developed for small homes. They want to take the small homes out of mobile home courts and apartment buildings where there is abundant infrastructure for small homes and put them into places that were never designed for them.

Many people live in studio apartments, another form of
small home. However, they are not appropriating space and
live in buildings with appropriate infrastructure.
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There are an estimated 20 million Americans who live in mobile homes and millions more that live in small apartments. Yet we somehow focus on the middle and upper class as they try to forge new lives in small homes in articles like today's Times piece or in the HGTV show Tiny Luxury. Many of these structures come from unique design shoppes. To quote the article, "....[a student] starts graduate school at the University of Vermont in January, and hopes to move from her Bronx apartment to the Burlington area in a 340-square-foot tiny house being built by Craft & Sprout." Craft and Sprout is a small home builder in Connecticut.

Also, tiny home owners tend to focus on moving to the country where there are loose environmental and zoning rules. They lead to an odd form of suburbanization which is normally anathema to sustainability advocates. 

In my mind, those truly interested in sustainable living would move to studio apartments or mobile home parks where there is an efficiency of space and infrastructure. While the tiny home movement is cute, it is elitist and marginally sustainable. Many people have to live in tiny homes. By making them a luxury item, we appropriate the very spaces of the poor.