random quotes ... to amuse, inspire, enrage:
  The forest at night is a funny place. The trees get bigger, and they seem to come alive, as though during the day they were asleep or gone from their bodies, and only at night do they animate themselves and live, perhaps even pulling up their roots and walking the valley floors. If you're out there you can sometimes almost catch them at it, just beyond the corner of your eye. Of course on a moonless night it only takes a little wind to imagine such things. Branches dip to tousle the hair, and the falling-water sounds of the leaves are like soft voices calling in the distance. Two holes make eyes, a trail blaze is a smiling mouth, branches are arms, leaves hands. Easy. Still I think it may be true that they are a type of nocturnal animal. They are alive, after all. We tend to forget that. In the spring they sprout joyously, in the summer they bask in the sun, in the winter they suffer bare and cold. Just like us. Except they sleep during the day and come awake at night. So if you want to have much to do with them, night is the time to be out among them.

The different trees wake up in different ways, and they treat you differently. Eucalyptus trees are friendly and talkative. Their branches tend to grow across each other, and in a wind they creak constantly. And their hanging leaves twirl and clack together, making the falling-water sound, a rising and falling voice that caresses like a hug, or a brushing of the forehead. The eucalyptus has a great voice. But you wouldn't want to touch one, or give it a hug, unless you could see it and avoid the gum. The bark is smooth and cool, fragrant like the rest of the tree with that sharp dusty smell, but it doesn't grow as fast as the wood inside it, I guess, and there are a lot of breaks in it as a result, cracks that split it completely. These cracks leak gum like a dog slobbers, and in the dark you can't keep from getting your hands and arms in it, and coming away all sticky.

Pine trees are more forbidding speakers. In a breeze their quiet whoooos are fey, and the wild ohhhhhhhs they utter when the wind is up can raise the hair on the back of your neck. But pines feel good to the touch, and you can look at their black silhouettes against the sky forever. Torrey pines have the longest needles, and their little branches are all curly. They spiral off the main branches like pieces of the springs that Rafael keeps in his shop, and make lovely patterns against the others. And the rough, brittle bark feels wonderful against the skin, it's like a giant cat's tongue. Redwood bark is even better, all split and hairy: you can put your fingers in cracks around the sides and hang on for dear life. It's like hugging a bear, or holding on to your ma and crying into her hair. Good friends, pine trees, though you have to ignore their stern voice and touch them to find that out.

tagged: trees, forest
  —Kim Stanley Robinson, The Wild Shore, Chapter 21 (1984).

Archive for the 'state' Category

Aaron Swartz, RIP

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

I am really grieving the loss of Aaron Swartz, who killed himself the other day. His family attributes his suicide in part to depression triggered by the federal CFAA prosecution for his JSTOR hack. JSTOR had withdrawn their charges long ago — but the federal government continued to prosecute. Who knows why — maybe the […]

omg, government secrets not safe!

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

“I do think it’s true that the large contours of national and international policy are much harder to keep secret today,” said Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “It would not be possible to conduct a secret war in Cambodia, as took place in the Nixon […]

eviscerating Miranda

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

The Supreme Court on Tuesday released its decision in Berghuis v. Thompkins, reversing the 6th Circuit and eviscerating the simple bright line rule of Miranda: The police must advise suspects of their rights; for responses to police questioning to be admissible in court, the suspects must make a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of those […]

libertarianism, state action, and private discrimination

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Some great commentary coming out in the wake of Rand Paul’s floundering attempts to dodge explaining his philosophy. For instance, this from No More Mister Nice Blog: Here’s the thing: segregation at lunch counters didn’t exist because individual privately owned businesses were determining for themselves that they would not serve black people. They relied on […]

Rand Paul, weasel extraordinaire

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Oh man, Rand Paul was on Rachel Maddow weaseling around a straight-up answer on his views of whether the federal government can prohibit discrimination in public accommodations. A, I thought this guy was supposed to be glib and personable? This was one of the least smooth, least adept weaseling’s I’ve ever seen. Maybe that’s all […]

take 5 minutes — Congressmember hilariously questioned on Constitution

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Yesterday Rep. Alan Grayson questioned Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia on the meaning of Bills of Attainder, in regards to one of the anti-ACORN bills / amendments floating through Congress. Delightful. I’m linking to it through Glenn Greenwald’s blog, who brought it to my attention, because Greenwald is almost always worth reading.

Obama’s FCC pick

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Obama has appointed Julius Genachowski to head the FCC, which I think is pretty good. Genachowski is on the record as supporting network neutrality. Also, there’s a fair amount of eco-friendliness and tech-savviness in his background — he headed up the Obama team’s internet campaigning, and also worked on Obama’s tech plan. And, to boost […]


Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Just like Maddow after Jindal, I am rendered speechless by the DOJ memos released on Monday. Most were by my former Con Law professor; among the notable exceptions was the repudiation of these policies last October. Holy Constitutional Law, Batman. * DOJ – Office of Legal Counsel memos * NYT (3/3) * LAT (3/3) * […]

egg rights: South Dakota’s latest ventures into unintended consequences

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

South Dakota is at it again, with a new egg rights bill that defines “any organism with the genome of homo sapiens” as a person under the South Dakota Constitution. Man it’s hard to keep up with all the really poorly thought out legislation from that state! Broadsheet has the simplest quickest coverage, and links […]

bad ideas like bad pennies keep turning up

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

A Louisiana state Representative is considering a plan to pay poor women to have their tubes tied, to stave off additional reproduction by undesirables. One wonders just how bad history classes have to be in Louisiana for John LaBruzzo to have actually failed to learn about the many, many times governments have tried programs like […]

wtf with st. paul?

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

This is un-fucking-believable: Amy Goodman and producers were arrested at the RNC protests. Arresting an award-winning journalist for inquiring about her arrested producers. The video of Goodman’s arrest (“Update II”) should be watched along with the SF Chronicle‘s interview of her on her release (“Update VII”). See also Washington Post. An AP reporter was arrested […]

a good day for basic human liberties

Friday, June 13th, 2008

yaay habeas corpus. Kennedy is the difference between a conservative — someone whose values I frequently dislike and disagree with, but who is in many ways a respectful person — and a proto-fascist. For the right-wingers who like to throw the term “fascism” around, the core concept of fascism is that the State takes precedence […]

barking dogs != relaxation (or security)

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

For the record, the menacing presence of very large german shepherds is not a plus at a train station. And when you hear their barks, whimpers, and howls nearby it makes you worry whether they’re attacking someone, upset or excited at someone’s lunch, etc. Word is they’re sniffing for bombs but I don’t think for […]

circuit split on sex toys

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Well, the 5th Circuit (Texas) has just said that Texas’s anti-sex-toy-law (memorably mocked by Molly Ivins in this video, available at youtube via pandagon) is unconstitutional, relying heavily on Lawrence (or so I hear, via pharyngula); I haven’t read the case yet). This looks like a pretty clear Circuit split with the 11th Circuit (Georgia, […]

gender-specific names or go to jail

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

In Venezuela, the National Assembly is considering restricting all baby names to a total list of 100 names. This will eliminate the wide variety of inventive names that people assign, and will eliminate names that “generate doubt” about gender. NYT 9/5 Because there just aren’t enough laws dictating gender now.

hello kitty shamebands

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

The Thai police are requiring delinquent or troublemaking cops to wear “hello kitty” armbands as a badge of shame. [nyt 8/7] i wonder if that would work here in the US ….

Requiem for habeas corpus

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Sometimes one despairs and relies on others to speak truth to power. Many have done so with respect to with respect to the “Military Commissions Act of 2006″, but Kent Keith Olbermann‘s was particularly eloquent. update: Ahem. Apparently that’s Keith Olbermann, and Kent Brockman. Another sign of aging, because I would never ordinarily confuse the […]

the death penalty & tookie williams

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

A human being who was doing valuable work, and helping to make the world better, was killed in San Quentin, California, just after midnight, Tuesday December 13. [See SaveTookie.org for details of Mr. Williams' anti-gang and anti-violence work.] “I could find no justification for granting clemency.” [Schwarzenegger Statement following Clemency Decision, 2005/12/12.] Tookie Williams was […]

annoying me today

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

So far today I am thrice annoyed: Multiple Double Standards: NY Sex Offenders Get Viagra [5/23] Jesus. Get over Viagra already. What is with the guys running the guvmint? “According to [NY State Comptroller Alan] Hevesi, the problem is an unintended consequence of a 1998 directive from federal officials telling states that Medicaid prescription programs […]

doubletake: did he say that?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

And the Republican abandonment of ‘federalism’ continues: Senator Tom Coburn, a newly elected conservative Republican from Oklahoma, said: “This isn’t a states’ rights issue. What we’re saying is they are going to review it. The states are not given the right to take away somebody’s constitutional rights.” … [House majority leader Tom Delay]: “The conservative […]

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