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Dec 30
2009

"When the Rivers Ran Red"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wine , Sonoma , politics , Napa , law enforcement , history , government , farms , families , economy , author , agriculture

Bruce Robinson

It's well known that many of the oldest wineries in Sonoma and Napa Counties predate Prohibition, but the story of how they got through the 14 dry years when the 18th amendment was in effect is only now being fully told.

 

 

 

Dry laws were never supported in northern California. Several statewide ballot initiatives were unsuccessful, due in part of strong opposition in San Francisco and the surrounding counties. So when Prohibition was enacted in far-off Washington, D.C., author Vivienne Sosnowski says that folks in the north bay almost unanimously took to bootlegging.

Our poularized cultural history paints Chicago as the epicenter of the battles between federal prohibition enforcement agents and rumrunner, bootleggers and others who flouted the law. But similar episodes played out in many areas. Sosnowski recounts one she was told of, which happened near Geyserville.

Sosnowski (left) was able to talk with a number of elderly members of Sonoma and Napa county wine-making families, collecting their oral histories of the Prohibition years. She says she came away from the project with a great admiration for what they all went through.

 

 

 


 

 

Dec 29
2009

"The Dangerous World of Butterflies"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , trees , tourism , timber , resources , policy , parks , open space , media , law enforcement , international , government , farms , environment , conservation , author , animals

Bruce Robinson

 Nature lovers versus breeders. Preservationists versus poachers and smugglers.  A history that goes back eons versus threatened extinctions in the 21st  century. These are just some of the stories that lie within the dangerous world of....butterflies?

 Here on the west coast, we enjoy seeing the annual migration of the brilliant orange monarch butterflies, some of which gather in certain trees at the Bodgea Dunes state park on the Sonoma Coast.  But the Monarchs of eastern North America have a longer and far more remarkable migratory cycle.

 

Researching and writing this book on butterflies has opened his eyes in unexpected ways, Peter Laufer (left) says, but it also served to fulfill the unarticulated wish behind the impromptu remark that first set him onto that path.

 

 

 

This video compresses the life cycle of the Painted Lady butterfly into less than three minutes of striking time-lapse photography.

[video:[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UD0jQH 400x400] 300x300] 


From PeterLaufer.com:

War weary after writing a book about Iraq, Laufer joked before an audience that his next book would be about butterflies. The result: an invitation to a butterfly preserve in Nicaragua. There he stumbled into a theater of intrigue full of strange and nefarious characters-all in pursuit of one of nature's most delicate creatures.

 

The Dangerous World of Butterflies chronicles Laufer's unexpected discoveries in the butterfly industry and underground. Readers will learn everything there is to know about the beauty and magic of butterflies. But Laufer's narrative takes unpredictable turns into the high-stakes realms of organized crime, ecological devastation, species depletion, natural history museum integrity, and chaos theory. Set in locales throughout the Americas and beyond, this fascinating book takes us into a behind-the-scenes world sure to alter our view the next time we delight in the colorful fluttering of butterflies in our yards.

 Butterflies are enormously popular, and have been for centuries, but not everyone loves them. There is even a website for people who are repelled by them.

 

Dec 28
2009

"Tamalpias Walking"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in speaker , parks , open space , ocean , Marin , history , environment , coast , author , art

Bruce Robinson

Marin County artist Tom Killion has spent his life portraying different views of Mount Tamalpias--but filtered through the techniques of Japanese woodcut printmaking.

 

When he set out to draft the text for Tamalpais Walking, Killion discovered he had a lot to learn about the history of Mount Tamalpais.

   Tamalpais Walking is the most recent in a series of collaborations between Killion and poet Gary Snyder, Their previous joint effort was The High Sierra of California in 2002. Killion will be at Copperfields Books in Sebastopol on June 3 to talk about their books.

 

Even though Japanese woodcuts are distinctly stylized, Killion says he was also intrigued by the accuracy of detail that the masters were able to incorporate.

 

Killion's website shows and sells many of his prints, including the samples reproduced below. There is also a page explaining his technique, including this favored hand-powered press.

 

 

 

Dec 24
2009

"Jesus Was A Liberal"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in speaker , Science , religion , Ideas , author

Bruce Robinson

 To the Rev. Scotty McLennan, Jesus was a man who told stories and spoke in metaphors, who respected the science of his day, and who emerged from his mystical sojourn in the desert with a radical message about the power of love.

 

The Rev. Scotty McLennan is the dean for religious life at Stanford University. He was the university Chaplain at Tufts University from 1984 to 2000, and senior lecturer at the Harvard Business School for ten of those years. McLennan received his B.A. from Yale University in 1970 as a Scholar of the House working in the area of computers and the mind. He received his M.Div. and J.D. degrees from Harvard Divinity and Law Schools in 1975. In 1975, he was also ordained to the ministry (Unitarian Universalist) and admitted to the Massachusetts bar as an attorney. He is the author of Finding Your Religion and was the inspiration for Doonesbury's Rev. Scott Sloan.

Some of the most heated issues in contemporary American society revolve around questions of science, from evolution to stem cell research. The Rev. Scotty McLennan says he sees no conflict between science and faith, and just as he doesn't believe Jesus did.

Jesus taught tolerance, McLennan believes, but following that teaching in the face of the adamantly pejorative beliefs of others is a challenge.

Dec 18
2009

The Messenger

Posted by Bruce Robinson in war , volunteer , veterans , politics , policy , media , international , government , families , author , arts

Bruce Robinson

The Messenger is a film about war that doesn’t take sides, according to director Oren Moverman, but seeks instead to personalize the losses experienced by the families of the servicemen and women who don’t return.

Oren Moverman (right), writer-director of The Messenger, says there is no political agenda behind it, other than a desire to raise awareness about the human costs and consequences of modern warfare.

The Messenger has drawn generally good reviews, but Moverman is even more pleased that coverage of it has also included his central themes about the people it portrays.

In his private life, actor Woody Harrelson (below right)  is well know for his progressive politics. But in the film, Moverman says Harrelson was entirely in sync with the director’s apolitical stance.

View the trailer for The Messenger below, or go here for a sampling of reviews of the film.

[video:http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2740519449/ 300x300]