One month before the election, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart holdover correspondent Lewis Black turned up on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to record a fresh segment of Back in Black. He highlighted how few Americans choose to vote and urged eligible voters to overcome personal distaste for both candidates:
LeBron James made headlines Friday* when he informed ESPN of his Decision not to let his sons play football because of “the health dangers”. Presumably, James is concerned about “the health dangers” posed by concussion and other violence-induced head injuries that have driven down participation in youth football programs by over 10% in over just a three-year span (2010-2012). Those are legit.
But don’t let James fool you into thinking he is taking some sort of principled stand against the dangers of participating in sport.
Unless you’re a Western cattle rancher or ardent conservationist, you probably haven’t been following the fight over delisting the wolf. I’m one of those two things, so I’ve been receiving emails about the issue on an almost daily basis, and will happily catch you up with some good news and some bad news.
The good news: after being driven to extinction across the continental United States, wolves were reintroduced to the Rocky Mountains during the 1990s under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. They increased in number and helped restore some of semblance of a balanced ecosystem in Yellowstone National Park and across the Mountain West.
The bad news: Before the keystone predators could recolonize their historic range — the level of recovery mandated by the Act — two senators from Idaho and Montana (Tester and Simpson) managed to delist the wolf and return wolf management to the states.
Without even closely examining the issue from a scientific perspective — for instance, by noting the critical role played by wolves in maintaining healthy ecosystems — you can tell this was a horrible idea for three reasons:
One, Tester and Simpson only managed to get their proposal through Congress by attaching a rider to the 2011 federal budget. This method puts it in good company with other exemplars of good governance like this year’s Monsanto Protection Act, which conveniently granted the biotechnology giant a six-month period of immunity just before a farmer in Oregon announced he had discovered genetically-modified wheat illegally growing on his farm.
Two, you may recall from earlier in this post what happened last time wolves were not listed as an endangered species: we killed every. last. one. living in the United States, threw ecosystems out of whack, and had to undertake an expensive and still only partially-successful reintroduction program. I’m sure that if we remove that federal protection everything will go back to being perfectly fine.
Three, delisting devolved the responsibility of creating wolf management plans to the states. Here’s, for instance, what Montana came up with [click to embiggen if you have trouble reading it]:
Continue reading One questionable policy straight out of Parks & Rec
The Seattle Times ran a feel-good story yesterday about Colton Harris-Moore, the Barefoot Bandit who — you may recall — captured the nation’s attention a few years back as he raced across the country, one jump ahead of the lawmen. In case you need a reminder, the article includes a synopsis — and if you don’t, skip this excerpt:
Harris-Moore grew up poor on Camano Island, north of Seattle, raised by an alcoholic mother and a series of her felon boyfriends — a feral childhood he wouldn’t wish on his “darkest enemies,” he once wrote to a judge. He earned his first conviction at age 12, in 2004, for stolen property, and things only got worse. After he walked away from a halfway house in 2008, he embarked on a two-year burglary spree, breaking into unoccupied vacation homes and stores, and stealing money and food.
Some of the crimes were committed barefoot, and by 2010, he had rocketed to international notoriety as he stole small airplanes in the Northwest, flew them with no formal training and landed them with various degrees of success. A few were only lightly damaged, but two crashes were so severe he could have been killed.
His final run was a cross-country dash to an airport in Indiana, where he stole a plane, crashed it in the Bahamas, and was arrested in a hail of bullets.
The feel-good story is primarily about a Boeing project manager who took Harris-Moore under his wing (pun intended), but I found myself most interested in the article’s brief aside describing how he is paying back some of the damage he caused:
He pleaded guilty to dozens of charges, apologized, and sold the rights to his story to FOX, which plans a movie. Any proceeds will repay his victims.
The ink’s been dry on that movie deal for a year and a half now, but while the result — a modern-day Catch Me If You Can, but less clever and more trashy — should certainly be interesting, why stop there? We know Harris-Moore somehow learned to read and write while doing everything but attend school, so how about a memoir? Maybe a line of high-end apparel — or better, footwear?
The possibilities are basically endless.
And now, thanks to the Seattle Times, we learn the long wait is over: for his next act, the Barefoot Bandit is going to publish a cookbook featuring — presumably — the culinary wisdom he accrued living in the wild from the age of seven. From reading the Hatchet, Brian’s Winter, The River, Julie and the Wolves, Island of the Blue Dolphins, My Side of the Mountain, the Boxcar Children (Book I), and I’m sure others that just aren’t coming to mind, I imagine survival involved a lot of scavenging for raw fruits, vegetables, grub, maybe the occasional moose… and I’m going to ignore that part of the article where it says he survived by stealing food from vacation homes.
Anyway, this project could really be a real hit among urban foragers. And he’s off to a good start with a perfect title: