Ideology and fires

You know, way back when Darwin first came up with the idea of survival of the fittest, he categorized humans as an animal like all the other animals. Bears, pigs, monkeys and humans. We all eat, breathe, sleep, defecate and scratch where we itch.

The idea was hugely controversial. The church of the time wanted to believe that man was only a little lower than the angels, that animals were completely different from us altogether.

Now, we say that man is an animal without thinking about it. Yes: primate, vertebrate, whatever you call it, that is us.

And this classification brings us into greater relationship with our surroundings, our environment. Like cows, we eat grain. Like tigers, we eat meat. At least some of us do. And we grow grain and meat, using our environment to create food and do all the things we do.

As the smoke builds up in my city, we are saddened by the destruction of our environment. For some people, it is their whole environment, their home, that is destroyed. For some, like me, it is the beautiful outdoors, the natural environment that has been destroyed.

The fire was set by human means, there was arson which involved matches, and also a flare set by a lost hunter.

But the reason the fire became so huge is because of some bark beetles that killed the trees. They were standing timber, just waiting to be ignited. And we knew about this, we knew this would happen when the beetles first infected the trees.

This fire was inevitable. Perhaps the vast destruction was not inevitable, but a fire had to happen. Nature was doing what it does.

And we as humans, were decided what we wanted to do about that nature. Mostly, the idea that we should leave it entirely alone was the prevailing ideology.

For many years, most of which are in living memory, America with it’s democratic capitalism fought a war of ideology with Communist Russia. This war was called the Cold War, but it was only cold inside the two countries. It was hot as hellfire in some places.

Because we were using our ideologies to justify various actions in different parts of the world. Like one side or the other would prove themselves more RIGHT by having more little countries pick their ideology to govern with.

Lots of countries got caught in the middle. Remember Vietnam? Cuba? Zimbabwe? Tanzania?

Well, not all Americans are capitalists. There were and are a lot of lefty-type americans who were rooting for the communists, or at least socialism abroad. They, and socialists from other countries, were happy to see the so-called 3rd world countries embrace socialism.

Alright. I would now like to present Tanzania. Tanzania tried socialism. It tried it really hard. Socialism didn’t work in Tanzania. Nyerere, the president of Tanzania, and seemingly a very nice guy, admitted that it did not work and that Tanzania was pretty much impoverished by the experiment.

Tanzania was trying something out. It didn’t work, so maybe they ought to try something different.

Russia, the motherland of communism, is also trying this ‘something different’ themselves. Smart. If it’s broken, fix it.

back to the fires in Los Angeles.

These fires, as I said, were naturally ocurring. We kinda knew they were coming. Fires come every year.

There is an ideology of conservationism that says, “Don’t touch it! We have to pretend like we don’t exist! Humans should not touch nature, we’ll screw it up!”

Alright, I think the experiment of pretending that we are angels who float above the surface of the planet and don’t make any marks has come to a failed conclusion.

If we are indeed part of the ecological system that we inhabit, it is impossible not to interact with it. Denial is more than a river in Egypt. The time has come for the conservationists to realize that we should direct our interaction with the planet in a useful way.

Let’s use this human intelligence to choose wisely. Let’s cut down and use controlled fires to protect the environment, WHICH INCLUDES OURSELVES, from these kinds of uncontrolled acts of nature.

Let’s be wise and careful, and let’s use our smarts to protect the environment. This whole “Don’t touch it!” ideology has hurt my state.

It also hurt my home state Alaska, with people who want to treat the beautiful interior of Alaska as some kind of pinned-down insect. It’s not a dead, static thing. It’s a living place, and getting some people up there to get the oil out and spend a little attention on preservation will do a lot more to help the area than leaving it alone.

It’s time to change when we’ve been proven wrong. Don’t cling to outmoded ideas.

am I not your girl? Sinead O’Connor

Sinead sure can sing.

She sure can piss people off, too.

This album really shows her voice off, it’s full of jazz standards. It makes me feel nostalgic, like I should take up making gin in my bathtub and smoking through a long cigarette holder.

And it makes me want to memorize the words for all her songs and then some.

Which is a decent thing for an album to make me want. I think it’s a good album.

White Noise by Don Delillo

This book seems like the Catch 22 for the 80s. Not everyone in my book club agrees with me about this, but I stand by it.

Catch 22 seemed very rooted in a sense of the ridiculousness of what was happening in the world of the 60s. It centered on a single man in the military, dealing with commercial transactions and the fear that he was going to die, that people were trying to kill him. Of course, people were trying to kill him. This was war after all. But the catch was that he could not be taken out of the army for being crazy because he was sane enough to realize how crazy the war was.


White Noise is about a man, a college professor on his 3rd? 4th? wife and the huge mish-mash of half-related children that his family has become. He is also afraid of death, but in a far more abstract way than Yossarian in Catch 22.

He is bombarded, constantly and incomprehensively with messages, the White Noise of the media. He encounters tabloids and TV news and the theories of his professorial colleagues with the same attitude of incomprehending acceptance.

The book is not so much a story as an attempt to capture a snapshot of life. I consider the snapshot to be extremely rooted in the mid-80s. THere are a number of cultural artifacts that come from that time and have passed by.

It was an interesting book. Not so much pleasant, but interesting. Worthwhile.