Monthly Archives: November 2015


by Barry King, November 28 2015

Thanks to Reid's son Forest for introducing me to this book. If you buy it, or buy anything else from, please shop at instead of, and select The Virunga Fund as your beneficiary. It won't increase your price, but amazon will make a donation to Virunga.…/…/

Book review: Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, by James C. Scott.

Prototypical scheme: A wild forest was designed by God, or by Darwinian evolution, to "succeed" as an ecosystem capable of sustaining a bio-diverse assortment of plant, animal, insect and bird species (and many other kinds). Modern "scientific" forestry, on the other hand, in its early stages, focused on maximizing board-feet of lumber produced, and chose mono-culture: a whole forest of trees of a single species, planted in rows. Many such projects worked for a few years, then failed as the whole forest ecosystem collapsed for unforeseen reasons involving complex interdependencies. The key insight is: these projects, and many others like them, were promoted as "modern", "scientific" and "rational", but were nevertheless unsustainable.

...continue reading


by Barry King, 28 November 2015

After the recent terror attacks in France, the instinctive response of people of faith all over the world was to pray for Paris, and to encourage others to do so. For others, who consider religious faith problematic, the response was different: “Don’t pray for Paris”. The subtext to those opinions was clearly: religion is part of the problem, so it can’t be part of the solution.

The first of those responses (prayer) has deep historical roots. Thoughtful people will wonder about the second: is it a new idea, or has it been tried before? If it has been tried before, what were the results of the earlier trials? Hearing news of the Paris attacks, many of us remembered John Lennon, who wrote 40 years ago: “Imagine…no hell below us, above us only sky.” John identified the objective of that dream as “..all the people living life in peace.” Clearly, if John were still among us, he would have been among those saying, “Don’t Pray for Paris”.

...continue reading

jmes tylor john kerry

by Reid Fitzsimons

In response to the horrific terror attacks in France last night, President Obama has announced a two-pronged approach. First, in a reprise of the enormously meaningful show of solidarity with the French people following the Charlie Hebdo attacks this past January, he has dispatched Sec. of State John Kerry to France along with has-been soft rock star from the 1970s, James Taylor, to croon to the French people “You’ve Got a Friend.”

Second, President Obama has initiated an offensive plan code-named “Tunes Against Terror.”  The centerpiece of this strategy involves positioning audio-equipped drones above ISIS strongholds and blasting in a continuous loop a compilation of James Taylor’s greatest hits, including Sweet Baby James, Fire and Rain, and Oh Susanna. Additionally, the 1972 Carly Simon song, “You’re So Vain,” written about James Taylor, will be included.

The President expressed his confidence that this unprecedented dual strategy will reassure the French people of US support of their progressive social policies while either making the ISIS terrorists feel mellow and embrace Western progressive ideals or desert their posts to escape excruciating James Taylor covers of songs such as Wichita Lineman, Hound Dog, and Handy Man.