Friday, January 8, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 01-07-20: Finished *The Legacy of Conquest*, Zags on Mute, HC Richardson and Bill Moyers

 1.  I've been wanting to read new books I have on hand, but before doing that, I've been determined to finish Patricia Nelson Limerick's book The Legacy of Conquest. I finished it today. I especially enjoyed her chapter entitled, "Mankind the Manager". In it, she introduces her readers to Gifford Pinchot and the early days of the U.S. Forest Service and explores Pinchot's dedication to forest management. I wouldn't go so far as to say Limerick sees the management of forests, waterways, grazing land, and the other natural resources of the West as foolish. Rather, as she did with many subjects in this book, ranging from conflicts with Indian tribes, the U.S. takeover of the southwest, the impact of mining in the West, and more, she looks at many of the consequences of human management, most of them unintended and complicated, as different templates that humans place on land and water, whether property lines, mining claims, national park boundaries, timber parcels, etc. never turn out to be as orderly as those assigning these borders might hope. 

The border between Mexico and the USA is a mess, largely due to the history that lies behind it. Animals that are protected within national park boundaries are unprotected when they wander outside the park -- but the animals are doing what they do naturally. They know nothing about park borders, let alone the existence of towns or residences on lands that have been theirs to feed on before human settlement. The history of the West is a long story of conquests of land, peoples, and resources followed by one complication, one conflict after another. What has actually happened in the West over the last few centuries challenges the idealistic and romantic tales often attached to it. 

2.  I got quite a bit of reading done during the Gonzaga/BYU game because the Zags roared out to huge lead in the game's first ten minutes. I muted the sound, read, looked up once in a while to make sure the Zags didn't collapse. They didn't. 

3. When I went to bed, I put in my earbuds and tuned into to listen to Moyers interview Heather Cox Richardson. She provided her analysis of Wednesday's chaos in Washington, D.C. and at the Capitol. I read Heather Cox Richardson's daily summations of the news every day. I recently finished her book, How the South Won the Civil War. I appreciate her deep understanding of U. S. History and how she does her best to speak on behalf of democracy, what threatens it, what its promises are, and how democracy can survive. She does her best to evaluate current events less in terms of political parties and more in terms of what leaders are doing that erodes democracy and what others are doing to try to preserve it. She staunchly supports and advocates for equality and has a studied and scholarly understanding of the forces that have threatened democracy and equality over our nation's history and those that have worked to achieve equality and preserve democracy. She's also an optimist, for the most part, and it was good to fall asleep tonight having heard Richardson's combination of grief and hope as she talked with Bill Moyers. 

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