Archive for October, 2013

A Wild Parrot Update

October 23, 2013

I recently got a phone call from Jamie Gilardi, the executive director of the World Parrot Trust. He was calling because he’d been in San Francisco several times in the last month or so and had not seen any parrots out and about—not even one—which is unusual. He’d even gone to their roost spot and hadn’t found any there either. So Jamie called me to find out if I knew what was going on. As we talked I realized that I hadn’t been seeing any parrots either. I’ve been out of town a lot, but even when I’ve been home I haven’t been seeing any. But I’ve been too busy with my book to notice. I figured that if there had been a massive die-off or something, I would have heard about it. But it was worrisome, so I started asking around and got word that the flock has changed the location of their roost spot. That was a relief. Then, just two days ago we got a visit here at the house from two parents and a baby. (The babies usually fledge around the beginning of September. This is the first one I’ve seen this year.)

Two parents and a baby

Two parents and a baby

Later in the day I saw a large group flying in the distance. So the parrots are fine. And I think I know  the reason they’ve been making themselves scarce in this part of town. When I came home yesterday our two birds were nowhere to be found. I looked all over the house and found them cowering in a darkened hallway. That always means one thing: a nasty hawk. I looked out the window of the bird room and, sure enough, there he was.

Nasty Hawk

A Nasty Hawk

I’ve been seeing a lot of hawks around lately. Different species, too. Cooper’s, Red-Tail, Red-Shouldered. There’s even an imprint, that is, the outline of a hawk, on the window of the bird room. Some raptor flew into the window at full speed coming after our guys and left his mark. It’s too light to photograph, but it’s a bizarre sight. It must have terrified the little darlings.

To sum up, the flock is doing fine, but they’re having to play dodge ’em with the hawks, as they usually do this time of year when the hawks migrate across the Golden Gate and into the city on their way south.

My Mixed Response

October 15, 2013

I have a mixed response to the debacle going on in Washington D. C. right now. On the one hand, I don’t think the Tea Party should be given anything whatsoever. They need to be utterly broken—by which I mean exposed. Their illogic has to be exposed and dispensed with. They aren’t right about anything, and it shouldn’t be hard for an adult to get that across to the people. When they say they believe in freedom, what they’re really standing up for is a brutal Darwinian existence where the biggest, most ruthless egotists get to take whatever they can get their hands on. And they don’t really favor small government per se. What they seek is the abolition of all protections for the weak. But also an enormous military and intelligence apparatus to maintain power. They are constantly calling for increased military spending—every single budget, which is insane. But we have rules against speaking these particular truths in this country, so what should happen, won’t. Obama is not going to take the Tea Party on once and for all. We’re going to have these “budget” issues as a continuing problem well into the future.

Which brings me to the reason for my mixed response. I believe that if you look to the longterm—the real longterm, not a polite fiction—it doesn’t matter much who wins this fight. What we’re really witnessing is the ongoing collapse of an empire. All empires collapse and ours is in the process of collapse—right now. Our rise was steep and fast, and our fall will be the same. I tend to see it starting with the war in Vietnam. I don’t think we’re good at being imperialists. We’ve always claimed to have ideals, to be a bright shining light, and being an empire is in conflict with our supposed idealism. So the national mindset ends up being a big fantasy. What a perfect representation of that fantasy mind was Ronald Reagan! He glorified greed as a virtue. But greed always undermines those who practice it. That’s as much a universal law as thermodynamics. Our downfall will be our gross materialism and the militarism required to maintain it. I do see hope for the future. But our only hope is to regain our status as a republic. Only when the empire has given way will we have the opportunity to assume the goodwill, calm, and simple contentment that will enable us to begin to create a way of life that makes sense, where wisdom and love have meaning again. There are things we can be doing now, but I tend to think that the great work cannot commence until the monster has given up the ghost.

Mindboggling

October 12, 2013

This, from a New York Times article summary today:

While acknowledging shortfalls, General Keith B. Alexander said the agency was doing more “to protect people’s civil liberties and privacy than they’ll ever know.”

George Orwell was a piker in comparison to General Alexander.

Leaving Hawaii

October 2, 2013
Kailua Beach

Kailua Beach

My nine-day stay in Hawaii is coming to an end. In two hours I leave for the airport. One of the most pleasant aspects of this trip has been where I’m staying: the home of Dorothy Faison, a painter, and Simon Holland, a film editor. They have a place in Kailua, and the beach is within walking distance. This is the same town where Obama vacations when he’s in Hawaii. The beach is perfect and I’ve been there every day but one. I’m not really the beach bum type, though. I’m eager to get home and back to work. I have to go to Southern California for a week first, though, where I’ll be helping Judy with a film shoot for her movie Pelican Dreams.  I’ve spent a lot of time working out some of the book’s issues in my head. It never leaves me alone completely.

Aloha Hawaii. Mahalo Dorothy and Simon.