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May 2014 (Vol 25, No 1)

The Morris Amendment: urban growth machine

Olympia’s planning department keeps a constant eye on bringing in tax revenue

Do you look around Olympia’s Westside and wonder why, after 20+ years of “comprehensive planning” it’s still all about cars?  How is it that developers have been able to crowd the freeway exits with “destination retail”; line the arterials with fast-food chains and drive-in banks; add fortress-like drugstore complexes next to strip malls; clear the remaining stands of trees for more national brand stores—and surround them all with a sea of parking lots?

Who's Buying Our Future?

“Do we understand the path we are taking here, by defining two classes of water, for two different groups of population?”

Dr Raul Gupta, head of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, West Virginia

—Evan Osnos, “Chemical Valley,” The New Yorker, April 7, 2014


Grays Harbor says “NO!”

On April 24th, the City of Hoquiam and the Department of Ecology held a “scoping” hearing in Hoquiam High School on two of the three proposed oil terminals for storing and shipping North Dakota Bakken oil. About 100 people attended. Forty people gave two minute talks. No one spoke for the proposed terminals.



When the Harpers Magazine arrives, it is a family tradition for one member to read off the Index and have the other members guess at the possible answer.  I thought it would be fun to have a Bakken Index. The North Dakota Bakken oil field combines hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. This has produced a new U.S. crude oil boom that wants to come our way on virtual pipelines of 120 car Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) unit trains.

The Bakken Crude Oil Field


(Gabriel Garcia Marquez 1927 – 2014) Dying when it’s doable, not when it’s recommendable

To many, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the most important writer in Spanish literature, more important than Cervantes. His main work, One Hundred Years of Solitude, has become canonical not only in western literature but in the universal republic of letters. The history of the Buendia family transcended time and place and came to be the history of all of us, human beings hoping to live life, as it should be, a little better. One Hundred Years of Solitude became “la novela total” (The Total Novel).

About our senseless, corrupt, warmongoring government...A letter to federal officials, elected and appointed

Dear President Obama, Congressional Representatives, Supreme Court Justices, and heads of selected U.S. agencies including IRS, EPA, FDA:

I  write this message from a place of peace and love within myself.   I am simply asking a question.  I would like your response within 30 days.

What Should the United Faculty of Evergreen Bargain For? An open letter to a progressive union

Evergreen’s faculty union, the United Faculty of Evergreen (UFE), has begun bargaining with the administration for its next contract. The purpose of this letter is to describe one thing I hope the UFE will bargain for and one I hope it won’t.

I’ll address the one I hope it won’t bargain for first—spousal hiring.  A good argument cannot be made for preferentially hiring the spouse or partner of a faculty member who has already been hired to teach at Evergreen. Yet, the union continues to entertain this position.


From MADD to climate change: Motivating society to demand action in addressing the very real dangers of global warming

The American public has a complicated view of global warming – most believe it is happening, but most do not think it will seriously affect their way of life and many do not attribute severe or unusual weather events to this phenomenon. While a majority view the reported seriousness as generally correct or underestimated, a sizable and, since 2009, heightened percentage see the threat as generally exaggerated.  –Gallup, March 17, 2014


Splendor in the cosmos

Everything we can see of the Universe is only like a small sprinkle of dust on the surface of some tremendous unexplored cosmic ocean. Scotty Yoos recently asked me, “Why not capitalize the word Universe?” I only said that it would be considered silly. Scotty may be right, let’s capitalize Universe, for our place in the scheme of things; and use a small u for any other universe. Next he asked if the Universe is really expanding. I said, “Yes, no one knows why.” Well, how can we be sure?


(Gabriel García Márquez 1927 -2014) Se muere cuando es posible, no cuando es recomendado

Para muchos Gabriel García Márquez es el escritor mas importante de la literatura en español, mas importante que Cervantes. Su obra mas importante Cien Años de Soledad, se ha convertido en canónica no solo de la literatura occidental pero de la republica universal de las letras. La historia de la familia Buendía trascendió tiempo y espacio hasta convertirse en la historia de todos nosotros, seres humanos esperando vivir la vida como debería ser, un poco mejor. Cien Años de Soledad se convirtió en la “novela total”.

Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) Never can say goodbye

The spirit will not descend without song.

-Blues People: Negro Music in White America (1963)