DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: 2011 Dispatches News Awards

By Conn Hallinan
Friday December 30, 2011 - 09:59:00 AM

Every year Dispatches From The Edge gives awards to news stories and newsmakers that fall under the category of “Are you serious?” Here are the awards for the year 2011. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:2011 Politics: The Best and Worst

By Bob Burnett
Friday December 30, 2011 - 09:54:00 AM

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Charles Dickens wrote describing the period before the 1789 French Revolution. For America’s rich, the 1 percent, 2011 was the best of times; for everyone else, the 99 percent, it was the worst of times.

The worst: The economy staggered throughout 2011. At yearend, roughly 25 million Americans were either unemployed or involuntarily working part time. But that’s not the worst. As Bob Dylan wrote, “take the rag away from your face, now ain't the time for your tears.”

5. Global Climate Change accelerated: In 2010 global emissions of Carbon Dioxide jumped by a record amount and they continued to rise in 2011. Artic ice hit record lows and there were horrific natural disasters across the planet including ten in the US. But for most Americans, Global Climate Change was one problem too many. (Nonetheless, the most recent Pew Poll found that 65 percent of respondents believed it to be a serious concern.) -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Post-Mubarak Egypt Still a Work in Progress

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 11:15:00 PM

Two friends of mine recently returned from Cairo and report that except for Tahrir Square and the immediate surroundings, there is very little evidence of protests against military rule. True this is scant anecdotal evidence, but it appears from the news accounts that the protestors may be losing the propaganda campaign that portray them as vandals and arsonists. And perhaps demonstration fatigue has set in. -more-

WILD NEIGHBORS: Heron Bait and Other Bird Tools

By Joe Eaton
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 11:09:00 PM
Black-headed night herons: "I thought you were bringing the bait.

Not so long ago, tool use was one of the defining criteria for humanity. Subsequent observations of non-human creatures using, and in a few cases making, tools have required that goalpost to be moved. Primates—chimps, organs, capuchin monkeys—have been caught in the act, as have bottle-nosed dolphins, tropical reef fish, and at least one species of octopus, the one that carries coconut shells around. Not to mention a handful of birds, among which the New Caledonian crow, a maker and user, is the most technically sophisticated. Then there’s the Galapagos woodpecker finch that employs twigs and spines to pry insect grubs out of tree trunks; the Egyptian vulture that smashes ostrich eggs with stones; and, if a fishing lure can be considered a tool (and why not?), the bait-fishing herons. -more-

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Friday December 30, 2011 - 11:41:00 AM

Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.
from The Dream of John Ball, by William Morris (1834-1898),Artist, writer, textile designer -more-

SENIOR POWER… Oral history

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 11:09:00 AM

Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of interviews. These interviews are planned and conducted with people who participated in or observed past events and whose memories and perceptions of these are to be preserved as an aural record for future generations. Oral history also refers to information gathered in this manner and to written work — published or unpublished — based on such data, often preserved in archives and large libraries such as the Bancroft. -more-