Writing alone can set you free

Not long ago, I received an email from a person praising one of my writings. He wanted me to know, however, that he doesn’t take sites like mine seriously because it’s a personal web site, and therefore, not credible. Because my site lacked credibility, he didn’t feel he could share the writing with others.

I was reminded of the email when I read PZ Myer’s posting today, notifying his readers that Anjuli Pandavar is no longer part of his network. PZ Myers and the other members of the Freethought Blogs are fully within their rights to remove a writer. If the writer posts pieces that violate the premise behind the site (I’ve read a few of her works at the Wayback Machine, and they surely do), it’s a good idea to remove the person rather than muddy the waters in which all of them swim. The New York Times may choose to play the all-inclusive game, most smaller sites cannot.

Still, it is a good reminder of why I now write solely in my own sites. It may get quiet around here, my sites aren’t always the most active or my writings frequently shared, and some people may question my credibility, but no one can kick me out or tell me what to write.

There are also no expectations with sites like mine. Since 1996, I’ve written about the Loch Ness Monster, the semantic web, environmental legal cases, the HTML5 standards process, animal welfare, photography and web graphics, sexism, JavaScript/Node, and now, Trump, with his miserable excuse for a White House. Oh, and RDF (Resource Description Framework).

RDF and Trump. Probably not a combination of words you would ever expect to read in your lifetime.

My only consistency in what I write is … well, none, really.

 

 

The Rule of Small Deer

They were three on the path in front of me.

When I came upon them, they didn’t run. They just stood there, staring at me. Then, as one body, they moved: one pawed the ground; one began eating the leaves from a small bush; the third started walking towards me.

Deer are supposed to run from people. I walked closer to the deer coming towards me and it didn’t stop.  I stamped my foot and it still came. I raised my arms and waved and it didn’t pause, didn’t blink. I turned around to go back, and only then did it stop, turn around, and head back to the other two.

I turned around one more time, back towards the deer. The little bold one swung around back to me, as if it were on a string and matched to my movements. I began to walk towards it, thinking this time it would shy away. It didn’t. I moved closer until I could see the ragged edges of its fur and the tiny black at the center of its eyes, but still, it came.

I didn’t know what to make of the deer. I imagine it had run from humans one too many times. Run from the food and the best footing and the last of the sunshine. Run back into the trees and the shadows and the low branches waiting to trip it and the bushes already picked clean.

Probably decided to hell with it. Yes, that’s it. To hell with it. You push anything hard enough, even a small deer, and they’ll think to themselves to hell with it.

Be the finch

 

Think things are hopeless? That Republicans control it all?

I just saw a hawk flying straight towards my house, being chased by a dozen small finches.

Be the finch.

 

 

Deception and the House SAVES Act

The House Committee on Natural Resources will debate five bills related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on Wednesday. Though these bills are couched in reasonable sounding phrases and catchy acronyms, promising to make the Endangered Species Act better, make no mistake: these bills are an attack on the ESA.

The bill known as the SAVES Act, H.R. 2603, is particularly dangerous, made more so by its deception. At first glance, the bill seems to be beneficial to endangered species in the United States. Its purpose is “To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to provide that nonnative species in the United States shall not be treated as endangered species or threatened species for purposes of that Act.”

It’s a reasonable sounding suggestion. After all, why should we be concerned about non-native species? We have enough work just to protect our native species.

However, removing protections for non-native species means removing protections for animals ranging from African elephants to the Green Macaw. This means that a company like Feld Entertainment would no longer need a permit from Fish & Wildlife to ship endangered big cats to circuses in Europe, and wealthy hunters can import skins from freshly killed leopards.

As US Fish & Wildlife Services notes:

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires the Service to list species as endangered or threatened regardless of which country the species lives in. Benefits to the species include prohibitions on certain activities including import, export, take, commercial activity, interstate commerce, and foreign commerce. By regulating activities, the United States ensures that people under the jurisdiction of the United States do not contribute to the further decline of listed species. Although the ESA’s prohibitions regarding listed species apply only to people subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S., the ESA can generate conservation benefits such as increased awareness of listed species, research efforts to address conservation needs, or funding for in-situ conservation of the species in its range countries. The ESA also provides for limited financial assistance to develop and manage programs to conserve listed species in foreign countries, encourages conservation programs for such species, and allows for assistance for programs, such as personnel and training. (emph. added)

People in the United States have been responsible for the decimation of species all over the world. Removing non-native species from the ESA would remove the ability to hold Americans accountable for our actions. It would rapidly increase the risk to any number of endangered species.

Implying that removing non-native species from the ESA is a ‘positive’ action for endangered species is a lie. The SAVES Act is a lie.