Beadwork Worthy Of A Genius


Political beadwork.

We enjoy this time of year when the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grants are awarded, since they invariably make for great reading, and usually great viewing or listening as well. Here is another one, thanks to Quartz for this summary and short profile to accompany the images of this recipient’s work:

Photos: The jewelry and sculptures about racism and sexism that earned Joyce J. Scott a MacArthur “genius” award

Lila MacLellan

A beaded necklace is an unlikely place to find a narrative about race, history, and slavery, says Lowery Sims, curator emerita at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York. But that surprise factor is part of the allure of Joyce J. Scott’s art. “Technically it’s breathtaking, it’s intimate, it’s intricate—but it’s also a very powerful statement about the world and some of the issues we face as human beings,” Sims says. Continue reading

Beauty Is A Beast


Culling could undermine the viability of the entire Norwegian wolf population, say conservationists. Photograph: Roger Strandli Berghagen

We love sheep, and sheep farmers, and shepherds, and wool, and so on. But we cannot read this without feeling more sympathy for the wolves, at this moment:

Norway’s wolf cull pits sheep farmers against conservationists

Norway’s recent decision to destroy 70% of its tiny endangered population of wolves shocked conservationists worldwide and saw 35,000 sign a local petition. But in a region dominated by sheep farming support for the cull runs deep

Elisabeth Ulven and Tone Sutterud in Oslo

Conservation groups worldwide were astonished to hear of the recent, unprecedented decision to destroy 70% of the Norway’s tiny and endangered population of 68 wolves, the biggest cull for almost a century. Continue reading

Better To Have Fizzled Than To Have Never Tried


Hikers on Blencathra, in the Lake District in England. Two years ago, ramblers, climbers and hill-lovers banded together to try to buy the peak, but the effort has now fizzled. Credit Phil Moore for The New York Times

We admit to being partial to the idea of rewilding, as we have come to know about it, which we admit is limited; but with our bias for restoration of wildlife habitat clearly stated we find this story worth sharing:

In English Lake District, Tradition and Conservation Clash


THRELKELD, England — It was to have been a grand gesture, a deal that would transfer a mountain in the fabled English Lake District from the landed gentry to those who roam its heights, reversing a centuries-old pattern of ownership by the upper-crust few. Continue reading

Bring Back The Green!


The Allegheny National Forest is absent from Google Maps (right) but displayed on Apple Maps (left). Apple & Google/Screenshots by NPR

We lose more than enough green in the real world, so when the cartographical world starts compounding the problem, we must shout in protest:

Where Did National Forests Go? Green Spaces Disappear From Google Maps

Erin Ross

If you looked at Google Maps this week, you might have noticed something strange: less green. Continue reading

Bees, Status, Survival Of The Fitted


A rusty patched bumble bee, under consideration for listing as an endangered species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, pollinates a flower in Madison, Wis. Rich Hatfield/Reuters/File

The CS Monitor has an article today that raises an interesting question, whether the same rules that have worked well for eagles, owls, fish, wolves and bears (among other animal species) would be effective for the humble bumble bee and other similar creatures. We see a very good fit between the problem, which we have noted here frequently, and the solution, whose track record is not perfect but it is clearly the best mechanism we’ve got:

Could putting a bumble bee on the endangered list save it?

By Weston Williams

The past several years have not been kind to the humble bee.

But perhaps none suffer more than the rusty patched bumble bee, orBombus affinis, a fuzzy insect with a rust-colored patch on its abdomen. The bee used to be a common sight across the Midwestern United States, but now, the bee struggles to survive in a habitat broken apart by increased farming and commercial development.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing to list the bee as endangered, which would grant it significant protections and hopefully save the bee from extinction. Continue reading

Food Memories & History, Coastal Mesoamerican Edition


Hudutu Credit Davide Luciano for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Gozde Eker.

Belize is a close neighbor to the culture described here, so this story, and especially the colors on the tables in the photos, have an air of familiarity:

A History Lesson, Served as Coconut-Seafood Soup


When Sulma Arzu-Brown’s father traveled from his village in Honduras into the city, people pointed at him, at his black skin. When he spoke his language, people laughed. “They said, ‘Look at that monkey, goo goo gaga,’ ” Arzu-Brown told me. Continue reading

Forest Protection By Any Other Name, For Any Other Purpose, Through Any Other Means, Is Just As Sweet


Richard Fortey and Derek Niemann among the beeches in Grim’s Dyke Wood. Photograph: Sarah Niemann

We do not favor private sector conservation efforts over all other options; we favor them over the option of no conservation at all. Governments around the world have rightly done the heaviest lifting on preserving nature, considering their resources, eminent domain, and other factors including the most salient; public lands effectively belong to an entire nation’s citizens. Philanthropies have also done enormous good. We have written plenty on both public and philanthropic conservation schemes. Today, a more modest story, but no less lovely:

A walk in the woods with Richard Fortey

Henley, Oxfordshire The palaeontologist and author offers a tour of Grim’s Dyke Wood, which he bought in 2011

Derek Niemann

Five years after the palaeontologist Richard Fortey bought Grim’s Dyke Wood, a small Chiltern beech wood, he shows no diminution in enthusiasm for his “nature reserve”. He gives me a tour, though in truth we delight in each other’s discoveries. I find him a ring of bright feathers on a pile of rotting pine logs, a raptor’s kill, the buffs and browns speaking of a song thrush forever silenced. He finds bracket fungi that have insinuated themselves into the thin, horizontal lesions on a cherry tree’s trunk. Continue reading

Save Your Screen Time, Kochi!

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 “main stage” doesn’t start until December, but Kochi is already throbbing with activity – from the Piramal Art Residency at Pepper House to introductions to this year’s participating artists on the KMB Facebook page.

Interested in film and video? The Signs Festival 2016 begins in less than a week at the Kochi Town Hall on September 28th.

SiGNS, the pioneering festival in India for digital videos featuring national level competition for documentaries and short fiction for the prestigious John Abraham National Awards. John Abraham Awards was instituted in 1999 by the Kerala Region of Federation of Film Societies of India  Continue reading

Antikythera, Belize & Wondrous Discoveries


Divers and archaeologists excavating the 2,000 year old Antikythera shipwreck. Credit Brett Seymour/EUA-WHOI, via Argo

This story, about remains recently found under water in a region of the Greek islands where several of us at La Paz Group have very fond memories of, gives me pause. At the time the ship in this story wrecked, the Mayans in Belize were flourishing. The archeologists working at Chan Chich Lodge are still dating the structures there, but the sailor from the ship lost in Antikytheran waters would likely have found the Mayans quite advanced relative to his own culture.

Greece’s classical period was long over by the time this sailor lost his life, and Rome’s empire was still expanding, impressively. Lots of progress, civilization-wise, philosophy-wise, math-wise, geometry-wise in that Mediterranean zone; but also in what is now called Belize, and the wider Mesoamerican corridor. Reading this article, I appreciate the work of archeologists who advance our understanding of those who came before us:

Human Remains Found at Ancient Roman-Era Shipwreck


Underwater archaeologists have found a 2,000-year-old skeleton belonging to a victim of the famed Antikythera shipwreck from ancient Roman times. Continue reading

Being Human, Sharing Relevant Information, Building Community


In the first few years of our building this wordpress platform to communicate about things that concern us and especially about things that inspire us, we occasionally found something that Andrew Sullivan had posted that was relevant here (only rarely since his site was mainly dedicated to politics and other topics that do not belong on our platform).

So we know a bit about him and always admired his relentless pursuit of what he believed in. We also know he is an excellent writer, so almost always worth a read. The same relentlessness we admire is also one we vigilantly guard against in these pages, where we have tried to limit our daily contribution to just a few essentials. We want only to have some shared space with a community of readers who care about some of the issues that interest us the most. This article Mr. Sullivan just published is definitely worth a read:

I Used to Be a Human Being

An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too.


I was sitting in a large meditation hall in a converted novitiate in central Massachusetts when I reached into my pocket for my iPhone. A woman in the front of the room gamely held a basket in front of her, beaming beneficently, like a priest with a collection plate. I duly surrendered my little device, only to feel a sudden pang of panic on my way back to my seat. If it hadn’t been for everyone staring at me, I might have turned around immediately and asked for it back. But I didn’t. I knew why I’d come here. Continue reading

Lionfish Tales

This is issue has been on our radar for some time, in most part due to contributor Phil Karp‘s posts on his work with groups in Belize and other parts of the Caribbean focused on this goal. The concept of “If You Can’t Beat ’em, Wear ’em” carries a powerful message of innovative practices to manage the invasive species that’s causing havoc in the southern Atlantic and Caribbean waters. Continue reading

No Kitten Videos Here, But Plenty Of Cats


We are human, therefore we love cute kitten videos just like the next person. We just do not need to share them here. That is not our purpose. Ditto for puppy dog videos, though we have a soft spot for scientific explanation for how dog became man’s best friend. Especially when creatively oriented to non-scientists. Back to cats. We have been featuring them as often as possible here, when considered relevant. And then some links for good measure. Our thanks now to Nature, which brings scientific studies within reach of a motivated lay audience, for this story on one path by which cats came to their current prominent state of domestication in our lives:

How cats conquered the world (and a few Viking ships)

First large-scale study of ancient feline DNA charts domestication in Near East and Egypt and the global spread of house cats. Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In The Boston Area


Saint Barbara, attributed to the “Ghent Associates” of the Master of Mary of Burgundy, from a book of hours-missal, c. 1485-1490. Courtesy of Houghton Library/Harvard University

We check in from time to time at magazines published by universities where we have recruited. This article, which we appreciate topically because of the conservation of cultural heritage described, makes us wish we could visit the venues described in “Illuminations.”  Lily Scherlis provides a good example of why we keep coming back to this magazine–crisp, clear writing and a compelling argument in favor of looking back into history for an enriching perspective on crowdsourcing versus individual authorship (read to the end of the quoted section):

…These works were born into a world where literacy was scarce and almost universally affiliated with religion: the exhibition description refers to monasticism as, at its heart, a “cult of the book.” I imagine how compelling written religious text would have been to early readers: the words echo off the page, as if read by an invisible voice heard only by you, but are available to other readers as well. Continue reading

Carbon-Calculated Menu Planning


The menu from Studio Olafur Eliasson’s dinner for the Climate Museum’s Miranda Massie. Image courtesy of the artist’s Instagram

From the folks at Phaidon, news of a top artist’s contribution to the climate change conversation, in a manner we can kind of relate to:

Olafur Eliasson puts carbon on the menu

When Eliasson’s studio cooked a meal for NYC’s Climate Museum director it listed one additional ingredient.

The artist Olafur Eliasson is on the board of the Climate Museum, a US institution which endeavours to use the sciences, art, and design to inspire dialogue and innovation that address the challenges of climate change. The museum hasn’t been built, yet Eliasson has submitted a few concept sketches, picturing a globular structure that should, someday soon hopefully stand in New York City. Continue reading