Reading Manuel D. Duldulao’s THE FILIPINOS: PORTRAIT OF A PEOPLE

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In ancient times this was a land-track to Indonesia and even now one can see at night the quivering lights of Borneo towns from some of the Sulu islands. The Batanes Islands, off the northern coast of Luzon, sprinkle 18 tidbits to within 65 miles of Taiwan.

To this close proximity must be added evidence of early linkage with the “chain of fire” that once ringed the vast unbroken continent. One chain of volcanoes leads north from Borneo through Palawan and Mindoro to western and northern Luzon. Another line simmers from the same start but this time through the Sulu Archipelago and western Mindanao into Negros where Mount Canlaon still stands in turmoil after having poured out tons of lava that were to become fertile layers for the growing of sugar.

The eruption of Taal Volcano in 1965, after being quiet for 50 years, showed once more the hold of nature’s wrath on life in the Islands. The volcano, rising on an island in the middle of Lake Bonbon, 40 miles south of Manila, roared for three days, and blasted out untold tons of ash, mud, and glowing pumice. Steam shot 1000 feet aloft, spreading debris so thick that it buried houses and killed 200 out of the 3000 people who lived on the island.


Manuel D. Duldulao was a Filipino journalist and art commentator.

Recommended Reading: Kate Evans in Hakai Magazine, 6 January 2020

Six men set out from Iceland in a small rowboat. Their destination: Eldey, the nesting ground for the rare great auks.

Jumping ashore, they spotted a pair of the birds guarding an egg. In the ensuing chase, the two auks were killed and their egg was accidentally crushed. The men didn’t know it, but they had just killed the last great auks ever seen alive.

Read the article here.

 

The World This Year: The Economist, 21 December 2019

The Economist sent a reporter to traverse the length of the southern border, from El Paso to San Diego. The result below:

p. 39:

El Paso to San Diego: Donald Trump’s wall will irrevocably change America’s southern border

. . . a new wall is rising, and it will not be so easily sliced through. America’s new border wall is made of 30-foot-tall (18 in some places) steel bollards filled with concrete, sunk six feet deep into a concrete foundation and topped with five-foot slabs of solid steel designed to impede climbing . . .

Some Democrats argue that Mr. Trump is merely replacing walls that already exist. That is not true. When a 30-foot wall, impenetrable to wildlife and surrounded by a network of roads and lights, replaces a low fence, it really is a new structure, in much the same way that replacing a garden shed with a ten-storey office block would be. A journey from El Paso to San Diego makes clear just how deeply the wall will change the character of America’s southwestern border. Emma Lazarus’s poem on the Statue of Liberty welcomes to America the world’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Mr. Trump’s wall sends the opposite message.

In Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, an environmental atrocity occurs:

. . . along the new sections of wall . . . lie massive, fallen saguaro cactuses in sections — bulldozed for the barrier. They can live for centuries. Some of those cut down were probably standing before Arizona was a state.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Overstory, p. 288

Hopefully, self will finish reading this book here, in Oxford. Then, she can lug it home to Redwood City, where it belongs. Even though Redwood City has NO actual redwoods any more.

Loggers to Nick Hoel and Olivia Vandergriff, into their second week of sitting on the crest of an ancient redwood:

  • “These trees are going to die and fall over. They should be harvested while they’re ripe, not wasted.”

Nick (or Olivia, it’s not all that clear in this passage):

  • “Great, let’s grind up your grandfather for dinner, while he still has some meat on him.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Patricia Westerford’s Father Explains Trees: The Overstory, p. 118

Her father explains how the trick is done. “Think about it! They’ve figured out how to live trapped in place, with no other protection, whipped by winds at thirty below zero.”

These magnificent Monterey pines were planted by the original owner of Fowey Hall, in Cornwall. Self encountered them for the first time in May 2019.

She had always thought Monterey pines were found in only two places in the world: California, and Kilkenny Park in Northern Ireland (She contributed a piece about Northern Ireland’s Monterey Pine for a book on Trees of Kilkenny, edited by poet Csilla Toldy and published last year)

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Breaking Down Self’s 2019 Reading List

Most of Self’s favorite reads so far 2019 were novels (six out of 10).

Three of her favorite reads of 2019 were memoirs written by doctors.

One of her favorite reads of 2019 was a book about the environment.

Five of her six favorite novels were written by women.

This year she attended the Fowey Festival of the Arts (in honor of Daphne du Maurier) and during the festival, she bought a copy of Jane Austen‘s Northanger Abbey from Bookends of Fowey. She loved loved loved it.

None of the books she read in January and April ended up making much of an impression.

One of her six favorite novels has been optioned for the movies by Lawrence Kasdan.

One of her six favorite novels won a prize.

One of her six favorite novels is a finalist for a Kirkus Prize.

Her 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge was to read 34 books.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Still Summer, Still Reading

from p. 118 of Landfill: Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene, “Needs”:

I’d read my Henry Mayhew on London’s waste workers and had been out at night on the Thames with the body-salvagers of Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend. I stayed away from Milton. My telescope wouldn’t have been welcomed by anyone and I don’t think I could have used it. The hunt for the body resumed in the late autumn of 2017 in a part of the landfill adjacent to the area already examined. After seven fruitless weeks the search was called off.

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Redwood City, July 2019

Love Dee’s book. So much.

Stay tuned.

 

LANDFILL, by Tim Dee: Henry Mayhew and the Anthropology of Dust

Landfill: Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene is a great book. Lord how self parses every paragraph.

Late last night, self got to Essay # 7: “The Birds,” about the iconic Daphne du Maurier short story and Hitchcock’s film adaptation of it. This morning she began the next piece: “London Labour and London Poor,” the title of a “work of epic taxonomical ethnography” by Henry Mayhew.

p. 82:

Dust is everywhere in Mayhew’s city . . . He knows there is no such thing as dirt. It exists — just as Mary Douglas spelled out a hundred years later — only in the eye of a beholder. “No single item,” she said, “is dirty apart from a particular system of classification in which it does not fit.” But, for Mayhew, dirt is the one thing he most wants to define.

Yet he can never fix it. How do you count dust? How do you hold it? What is it? The powdered world? The fundamental raw material? Sediment or suspension? A cast of everything that has lived? That which we tread on — or breathe? That which we are? Hamlet’s quintessence?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Her 2019 Reading Year

Top reading year, this is turning out to be.

Her Favorites, by Month:

  • February: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry and November Road by Lou Berney.
  • March: Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few.
  • April: Milkman by Anna Burns; Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday; and Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush.
  • May: Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges by Antony Beevor and Northanger Abbey.
  • June: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Tim Dee

Landfill: Notes on Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene, p. 21:

  • Early morning Bristol. The bars, along the street where I live, recycle their glass empties of last night.

She knew nothing about Tim Dee before she began this book.

His writing is SO beautiful.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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