Lately, I have been reading a book by Jared Diamond entitled “Collapse“, which seeks to illuminate why societies throughout history have failed to achieve sustainability and therefore collapsed. The book “Disappearing Destinations” by Kimberly Lisagor and Heather Hansen, could be considered a updated companion piece to Diamond’s book.
The authors take us on a tour of 37 endangered destinations and what is being done to retain and restore these locales to a more sustainable condition.
Two of my favorite dream vacation spots are listed in this book: Glacier National Park and Venice, Italy. It should come as no surprise that the future of both of these places is in jeopardy, due largely to increasing temperatures in North America and rising sea levels around the world.
Can you imagine a Glacier National Park without glaciers? Or Venice, Italy under so much water that it no longer becomes feasible to live and/or visit there?
So when you go out on the road this summer to your favorite vacation spot, think about what is being done to keep that spot sustainable and enjoyable for the generations that come after us.
Slaughterhouse Five was a touchstone work for a generation scarred by the Vietnam conflict. Now that the U.S. is again embroiled in a long cultural war, it’s fitting to hear one last time from Kurt Vonnegut.
Armageddon In Retrospect, revisits the major themes of Vonnegut’s work–war and peace, good and evil. The short stories, speeches, and letters suit Vonnegut’s talents perfectly. As he aged, Vonnegut’s vision became at once more cynical and more compassionate.
In the introduction, Mark Vonnegut sums up his late father’s work with:
“If you can’t learn about reading and writing from Kurt, maybe you should be doing something else. His last words in the last speech he wrote are as good a way as any for him to say good-bye. ‘And I thank you for your attention, and I’m out of here.’”
Louise is concerned about Martha’s comfort and social life. Martha prefers to sleep in the tack room of the barn where she can read “Black Beauty” by lantern light. But Louise knows how to draw Martha into conversation, sharing their interest in reading and she encourages Martha to socialize at church and other events that often required young people to ride for miles to a dance or party. Martha works seven days a week, going to seven ranches, riding a circle, breaking horses, in her skilled and gentle way. She never has to “buck them out.” She uses light saddles, tin cans, feathers, and a soft voice. She develops a community of friends and we learn more about the lives of the people that live in the county, including their personal struggles with alcoholism, disease, prejudice, and loneliness. Over the winter Martha becomes a dear and indispensible neighbor, treating animals and humans with great kindness. Most of the story takes place over the season that Martha first comes to the county, but the short wrap-up at the end provides a warm and satisfactory ending to reassure us that Martha lived the happy life she wanted and deserved.