Sunday, July 3, 2011

Nevada Desert

I have a world-view that is so very human centered! It is eye-opening for me to fly for hours over the barren deserts of Nevada - alluvial fans and playas, sharp hog-back ridges and V shaped valleys formed by brief winter flash floods. These peaks and plains appear as alien as the lunar landscape!

Flight from Reno to Las Vegas - Out the window with telephoto

If I could be a lizard on a rock, day after day would be the same – after the cool desert dawn, the sun would quickly warm the rock, would steadily move across the sky, shadows creeping hour by hour.

Nevada Hills - Reno to Las Vegas

…there might be moving air, might be a breeze or wind… might be rainless clouds overhead… The air temperature is over 100F almost every day of the summer. Winter temperatures may drop well below freezing. Occasional brief violent winter storms appear and quickly vanish. Each day, at the end of day, the light fades as shadows lengthen and vanish.

Dry Nevada river network - Note that there is enough moisture in some to support more vegetation

Amazingly even here there is life…. A few tough hardy plants - sage brush and creosote …. Mostly small, adapted to slow growth, adapted for the least water possible… even here insects, lizards, snakes, and birds are to be found. A few nocturnal mammals emerge each night. It is a full self sustaining eco system.

Mountains and Planes of Southern Nevada

Natural selection determines who can win and who loses. And no humans – no one walks these hills – they are empty-empty-empty of human presence. Day after day… year after year… it is the same…

North Las Vegas

And then, suddenly, looming out of the desert is the city of Las Vegas – Suddenly pools of water, green lawns, giant sprinklers settling the dust at construction sites… This is a place of modern buildings – bright lights – music and dancers – and gambling casinos.

Casino "On the Strip" Las Vegas

Visitors to Las Vegas have the motto “ What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…” Las Vegas is only a few hours drive from Los Angeles and all of Southern California. It is a city of excess and extreams. It is a city that values hope and luck. But water is the factor that determines life here… The water of the Colorado River is coveted by many - but it remains the limiting factor for life in Los Vegas.

Nighttime "On the Strip"

The gambling industry was the stimulus for the growth of Las Vegas. But many people here live their lives apart from the gaming industry and do all the normal things that people in any city do… The city is famous for its wide boulevards and spacious homes on large lots. Like the open desert, it is a city with summer temperatures well over 100 and winter temperatures dipping into the freezing range. Winter rain showers can result in sudden street flooding – but most of the year this is a dry land where the climate limits what can possibly be grown in the gardens.

Gated Community North Las Vegas
We were in Las Vegas visiting family - My wife Judy's sister and brother in law... They are deeply in the midst of planning the wedding of their only daughter, Ari... We laughed a lot, had good discussions (we tend to agree on most things), ate well, heard a good singer in one of the clubs... I even got up almost every morning at 5:30 so that my brother-in-law Conroe and I could walk in the almost cool morning air. We had a fine time!

Links of the week:

1. My latest discovery from "Bill Moyers Journals: The Conversation Continues": Interview with Holly Sklar. This is her website: "Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign":

"America has had a vast redistribution of income and wealth in the last 3 decades. The buying power of the minimum wage is lower than it was in the 1950's. Inequality of income and wealth is what it was in the 1920's, before the Great Depression. Now almost all the (profits from the) rise in productivity are going to the very top in the upper economic class. When you hear the expression "We're the richest country in the world," the truth is we're the most indebted country in the world.

US Capital - Washington DC

The infrastructure ( funded with tax dollars) we built to recover from the Great Depression and after the World War II is now crumbling. And we are spending less on research and development. Our education system is sliding further and further behind. The idea that we're getting more competitive for the global economy is ridiculous, its a myth. Executives at big corporations have basically doubled their share of company reserves in the last decade. Crumbs are not falling off the table - the rich are simply keeping more. We have a lower life expectancy than many other industrial countries. We're the only industrialized country without universal health care. "

The solution to our problems is to accept the situation, do the responsible thing, and be willing to raise more tax money not less - (Especially tax the wealthy why are most able to pay!!) Do you know the expression "If it ain't broke - don't fix it..."? Well our economy is broken - and we need to fix it - and that requires our collective will to work together for the common good! View the Mark Fiore cartoon below...

2. Mark Fiore - Cartoons - Click on the "Trickle Down Tales"