Archive for February, 2009

Slums of Mumbai

February 27, 2009

090204_slumdogs8Since Slumdog Millionaire cleaned up at the Oscars I have been watching the media bring our attention to the real slums of Mumbai. This Photo Essay in Foreign Policy has some great photos of the slums and also is quite informative about the current state of some of the biggest slums in the world. The New Yorker also published an article prior to the Oscars in anticipation of “Slumdog’s” triumph. Some are using the movie’s success as a means to highlight the extreme inequalities that exist in India. I can see why this is a good time to do that, but it is also a time for India to be proud of being the subject of such a highly acclaimed film. Unfortunatly the New Yorker has archived the article and you need to sign-in to read it.

Will we ever see High-Speed Rail?

February 22, 2009

This nation is still in the stone-age when it comes to high speed rail. I find it pathetic that we call this a “developed” nation yet our rail system is light years behind other “developed” countries. Unfortunately it seems developed countries are defined by the strength of its’ military technology and the rate at which its’ citizens consume goods.20rail4_650

California voters passed proposition 1A last November which allocated $9 billion to start building a high speed rail corridor connecting the Bay Area to Los Angeles, with split-offs to Sacramento and San Diego. I was overjoyed to see this proposition pass. Now the question is, will it really become a reality and if it does when? The California High-Speed Rail Authority states:

Construction efforts are anticipated to begin by 2011. An implementation plan approved in August 2005 estimates that it would take eight to eleven years to “develop and begin operation of an initial segment of the California high-speed train.”

The NY Times ran this article on Feb. 19, 2009, discussing money allocated to high speed rail in the recently passed economic stimulus package. $8 billion for high speed rail was tacked on to the bill in the last hours. I am happy to see this but am also aware that it is not nearly enough to make the revolutionary changes our rail system needs. The article states:

High-speed rail has a long, tortured history in the United States, going back to 1965, when Congress passed the High-Speed Ground Transportation Act. Since then, it has been proposed by many governors and studied in countless plans, always holding out the promise of catching up with other countries.

Below is a map of the proposed high speed corridors
Well, even though the money is not enough, this is a start. I am glad to see that California already has an organization in place to start the project and it will be getting some more funding from the Feds. Can’t wait to jump on the train in SF and be in LA in two and half hours!
rail-map

Bald Eagles at Cache Creek

February 21, 2009

Hannah and I did a great day hike in the Cache Creek Natural Area yesterday. The hike leaves highway 20 just east of Clearlake Oaks. The trail leads up to the top of a ridge from which you have a great view of the Cache Creek gorge. We were not up on the ridge long before we saw a young bald eagle soar over our heads. We found a nice place to sit and saw about five more bald eagles soaring over the gorge. These eagles use Cache Creek as a resting ground on their migration between Alaska and Mexico. It was a beautiful day. Below is the only decent shot I got at one.
cache-creek-eagle

Geographers Find Bin Laden

February 18, 2009

A study done by UCLA geographer have stated that they believe Osama Bin Laden to be hiding in a certain building in Parichinar, Pakistan. They came to this conclusion using spatial theory called distance-decay therory. The New York Times states:

Distance-decay theory states that as one goes further away from a precise location, there is an exponential decline in the turnover of species and a lower probability of finding the same composition of species. The theory of island biogeography states that large and close islands will have higher immigration rates and support more species with lower extinction rates than small isolated islands.

These theories can be applied over varying spatial scales to posit bin Laden’s current location based on his last reputed geographic location. Distance-decay theory would predict that he is closest to the point where he was last reported and, by extension, within a region that has a similar physical environment and cultural composition (that is, similar religious and political beliefs).

I new geographers would be the ones to find him!

tribal-area

Introducing the Bird and Wolf show

February 11, 2009

My lovely wife and I have started a radio show on KMEC 105.1. It will take place on Tuesday nights from 7-9 PM. KMEC is the radio station of the Mendocino Environmental Center. It is a low powered station and it’s footprint is only just beyond the Ukiah city limits. However, it also streams on line. Here is the link. The station is a great community resource and asset. Look forward to getting calls and requests. We plan to have an eclectic mix of music with some story telling, spoken word, speeches, and interviews. Tune in for the fun!

Moral Police on the Offensive in India

February 2, 2009

Just came across this article in Indian Express. In Mangalore, a college city on the south-western coast in the state of Karnataka, some young women who were having drinks in a bar were assaulted and made to flee the business. The author of the article writes:

On January 24, a part of the moral police in Mangalore, the Right-wing Hindu outfit known as the Sri Rama Sene, with a sympathetic BJP Government in power, put fear in the hearts of pub-going students with a violent attack on girls at a relatively new lounge bar, Amnesia. Television images of the attack are still fresh in everybody’s mind.

Girls, aged between 19 and 20, were grabbed by their hair, thrown on the ground, molested, slapped and beaten by a group of young men, claiming allegiance to Hindu culture and accusing the girls of dancing with boys at the bar.

This is an obscene act of sexism and intolerance. It is a select group of fundamentalist forcing their archaic world view onto others. It is what Benjamin Barber writes about in his book Jihad vs. McWorld. Western modernism brining about social upheaval and confusion to more traditional communities who respond in a violent manner.

The author has written a lengthy article discussing the history of the rise of the BJP in this area of India and the factors involved that have led Mangalore to this low point. One man is quoted:

“Many of the traditional ties that existed in society have broken down. In the past, jasmine flower grown on a Christian’s farm was bought by a Muslim trader and sold to Hindu women. The breaking of ties has created a vacuum for exploitation by groups that indulge in divisive politics,” says Vidya Dinkar.

It seems that Mangalore is facing a serious test of it multi-cultural tolerance and ability to accept a changing world. Hopefully the men who participated in this horrendous act will be put to trial and the community will respond in a responsible manner. Here is youtube footage.