Red-Tails in Coffins

When I first visited the Bay Area more than 25 years ago, my future husband, a San Francisco native, took me around to the sacred spots. There was the site of the Mabuhay Gardens, several Chinese restaurants, Land’s End and Ocean Beach. In Berkeley, there was the university itself, and the sanctum sanctorum….the original Peet’s Coffee. I am from New York but I had never dreamed of such a taste. That coffee epitomized the Bay Area: organic in the sense of rising naturally from the cultured and good intentions of the singular inhabitants here. REALLY GOOD. Now it looks like I’ll be switching my brand. Peet’s is on-line to be acquired by Joh A. Benkiser (JAB), which among many other holdings ha

The Elephant and Everything Else, in Room After Room After Room

Even though I have written a book about evolution, I confess to kneeling in awe at the concept. And indeed, having read literally hundreds of papers and books explaining evolution from many a vantage point, I suspect that even brainiac scientists who can sketch out on cocktail napkins the molecular transfer of nucleo-whatever-icides to show you the physical transaction of evolution, don’t fully grasp it themselves. Otherwise, they would be able to say what evolution is. Ernst Mayer, a giant of biological thinking, has a point-blank book, What Evolution Is, and I love that book, but even a writer of this stature somehow falls short of a definition. There is a reason for this. Evolution is the

Home on the Range

When I started researching The Spine of the Continent, there were a couple of topics I REALLY didn’t want to have to get into — one was cattle-grazing in the West. In short surmise, the federal government leases public lands to “permittees” who graze on it for a nominal fee. The trouble is, much of this grazing is an environmental nightmare. Ranchers let their cows denude the soil til there ain’t no more, which causes the kind of erosion that brought us the Dust Bowl. It makes the landscape cave quickly in flood or fire. Scores of plants and animals on the Endangered Species list are there because bad cattle grazing has destroyed their habitat. Invasive species take over the neighborhoo

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