CRF Blog

Rethinking Nero

by Bill Hayes

In Rethinking Nero, National Geographic reassesses the Roman emperor.

One is hard pressed to “rehabilitate” a man who, according to historical accounts, ordered his first wife, Octavia, killed; kicked his second wife, Poppaea, to death when she was pregnant; saw to the murder of his mother, Agrippina the Younger (possibly after sleeping with her); perhaps also murdered his stepbrother, Britannicus; instructed his mentor Seneca to commit suicide (which he solemnly did); castrated and then married a teenage boy; presided over the wholesale arson of Rome in A.D. 64 and then shifted the blame to a host of Christians (including Saints Peter and Paul), who were rounded up and beheaded or crucified and set aflame so as to illuminate an imperial festival. The case against Nero as evil incarnate would appear to be open and shut. And yet …

Almost certainly the Roman Senate ordered the expunging of Neronian influence for political reasons. Perhaps it was that his death was followed by outpourings of public grief so widespread that his successor Otho hastily renamed himself Otho Nero. Perhaps it was because mourners long continued to bring flowers to his tomb, and the site was said to be haunted until, in 1099, a church was erected on top of his remains in the Piazza del Popolo. Or perhaps it was due to the sightings of “false Neros” and the persistent belief that the boy king would one day return to the people who so loved him.

The dead do not write their own history. Nero’s first two biographers, Suetonius and Tacitus, had ties to the elite Senate and would memorialize his reign with lavish contempt. The notion of Nero’s return took on malevolent overtones in Christian literature, with Isaiah’s warning of the coming Antichrist: “He will descend from his firmament in the form of a man, a king of iniquity, a murderer of his mother.” Later would come the melodramatic condemnations: the comic Ettore Petrolini’s Nero as babbling lunatic, Peter Ustinov’s Nero as the cowardly murderer, and the garishly enduring tableau of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. What occurred over time was hardly erasure but instead demonization. A ruler of baffling complexity was now simply a beast.

“Today we condemn his behavior,” says archaeological journalist Marisa Ranieri Panetta. “But look at the great Christian emperor Constantine. He had his first son, his second wife, and his father-in-law all murdered. One can’t be a saint and the other a devil. Look at Augustus, who destroyed a ruling class with his blacklists. Rome ran in rivers of blood, but Augustus was able to launch effective propaganda for everything he did. [more]

Americans’ Opinions On Spanking

by Bill Hayes

FiveThirtyEight reports that Americans’ Opinions On Spanking Vary By Party, Race, Region And Religion.

The pro-spanking bloc has slipped from about 84 percent in 1986 to about 70 percent in 2010 and 2012. That’s still a majority, but spanking has become less socially acceptable over the past three decades.

That drop, however, isn’t because younger people are more likely to be anti-spanking. Since 1986, there hasn’t been much of a difference in the opinions of different age groups in any given year …. [more]

Why Dangling Modifiers Aren’t the Real Problem

by Damon Huss

In Why Dangling Modifiers Aren’t the Real Problem for Slate, James Harbeck argues that not all dangling modifiers are incorrect usage. Considering this article’s humor, it makes a very good point.

They can use prepositional phrases:

With silver trim and an oversized trunk, Dave knew he’d found his car. [There’s nothing wrong with this sentence if Dave, not the car, is the one with silver trim and an oversized trunk.]

They can use other kinds of modifier, too:

Purple with pink polka-dots, she thought it was the loudest dress she’d ever seen. [She wasn’t purple with pink polka-dots, the dress was. We assume.]

Obviously sentences such as these are a little problematic. But, according to Pinker — as well as a number of others, including Geoffrey Pullum at Language Log — there are danglers that are perfectly fine. Granted, many danglers are very snicker-worthy because they’re ambiguous, but ambiguous is not the same as ungrammatical. There are many perfectly grammatical sentences that are ambiguous — for example, “He asked his son to comb his hair.” (Whose hair, son’s or dad’s?) [more]

The Social Laboratory

by Bill Hayes

In The Social Laboratory for  Foreign Policy magazine, Shane Harris looks at mass surveillance in Singapore and asks whether it is bringing about a more harmonious society.

[M]any current and former U.S. officials have come to see Singapore as a model for how they’d build an intelligence apparatus if privacy laws and a long tradition of civil liberties weren’t standing in the way. After [retired Navy Rear Adm. John] Poindexter left DARPA [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] in 2003, he became a consultant to RAHS [Singapore’s  Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning program], and many American spooks have traveled to Singapore to study the program firsthand. They are drawn not just to Singapore’s embrace of mass surveillance but also to the country’s curious mix of democracy and authoritarianism, in which a paternalistic government ensures people’s basic needs — housing, education, security — in return for almost reverential deference. It is a law-and-order society, and the definition of “order” is all-encompassing.

Ten years after its founding, the RAHS program has evolved beyond anything Poindexter could have imagined. Across Singapore’s national ministries and departments today, armies of civil servants use scenario-based planning and big-data analysis from RAHS for a host of applications beyond fending off bombs and bugs. They use it to plan procurement cycles and budgets, make economic forecasts, inform immigration policy, study housing markets, and develop education plans for Singaporean schoolchildren — and they are looking to analyze Facebook posts, Twitter messages, and other social media in an attempt to “gauge the nation’s mood” about everything from government social programs to the potential for civil unrest.

In other words, Singapore has become a laboratory not only for testing how mass surveillance and big-data analysis might prevent terrorism, but for determining whether technology can be used to engineer a more harmonious society.

In a country run by engineers and technocrats, it’s an article of faith among the governing elite, and seemingly among most of the public, that Singapore’s 3.8 million citizens and permanent residents — a mix of ethnic Chinese, Indians, and Malays who live crammed into 716 square kilometers along with another 1.5 million nonresident immigrants and foreign workers — are perpetually on a knife’s edge between harmony and chaos. [more]

Learning Democracy

by Bill Hayes

In Learning Democracy for the New York Times Book Review, Irshad Manji reviews The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East by Juan Cole.

It isn’t easy to track down a positive word about the Middle East these days. Then again, Juan Cole is not your typical observer. A professor of history at the University of Michigan, he is also a prolific and popular blogger on current affairs. An American, he spent part of his childhood in France and Ethiopia. A left-leaning idealist, he comes across as far more optimistic than the dour Occupy crowd. A cosmopolitan in constant touch with 20-somethings, he seems to be addressing boomers in his latest book, “The New Arabs,” which is replete with explanations that digital natives would never need. (Don’t know what the “meatspace” is? Read on.) [more]

The real science of the gridiron

by Bill Hayes

In The real science of the gridiron, the Los Angeles Times reviews Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game by Allen St. John and Ainissa Ramirez

Early strategy included the “Flying Wedge,” devised by a Harvard coach and first used against Yale in 1892. Players would lock arms and form a V in front of the ball carrier with bigger guys in the middle, faster guys on the wing. Assuming that players in the wedge averaged 200 pounds, “a low estimate of the impulse of the collision — the change in momentum after impact — was 2.5 tons, roughly the equivalent of getting hit by a SUV traveling at 25 miles per hour.” It was football’s equivalent of the military formation used by Alexander the Great, the phalanx, and too brutal for a game designed for gentlemen. The wedge was outlawed, “but its grisly legacy would live on.” Many more mass-blocking plays followed in its wake, causing so many severe injuries that some called for football to be banned. [more]

A World Digital Library Is Coming True!

by Bill Hayes

In A World Digital Library Is Coming True! for the New York Review of Books, Robert Darnton reports on the progress of various projects to make content more accessible.

[T]he Digital Public Library of America, which aims to make available all the intellectual riches accumulated in American libraries, archives, and museums. As reported in these pages, the DPLA was launched on April 18, 2013.2 Now that it has celebrated its first anniversary, its collections include seven million books and other objects, three times the amount that it offered when it went online a year ago. They come from more than 1,300 institutions located in all fifty states, and they are being widely used: nearly a million distinct visitors have consulted the DPLA’s website (, and they come from nearly every country in the world (North Korea, Chad, and Western Sahara are the only exceptions).

At the time of its conception in October 2010, the DPLA was seen as an alternative to one of the most ambitious projects ever imagined for commercializing access to information: Google Book Search. Google set out to digitize millions of books in research libraries and then proposed to sell subscriptions to the resulting database. Having provided the books to Google free of charge, the libraries would then have to buy back access to them, in digital form, at a price to be determined by Google and that could escalate as disastrously as the prices of scholarly journals.

Google Book Search actually began as a search service, which made available only snippets or short passages of books. But because many of the books were covered by copyright, Google was sued by the rights holders; and after lengthy negotiations the plaintiffs and Google agreed on a settlement, which transformed the search service into a gigantic commercial library financed by subscriptions. But the settlement had to be approved by a court, and on March 22, 2011, the Southern Federal District Court of New York rejected it on the grounds that, among other things, it threatened to constitute a monopoly in restraint of trade. That decision put an end to Google’s project and cleared the way for the DPLA to offer digitized holdings — but nothing covered by copyright — to readers everywhere, free of charge.

Aside from its not-for-profit character, the DPLA differs from Google Book Search in a crucial respect: it is not a vertical organization erected on a database of its own. It is a distributed, horizontal system, which links digital collections already in the possession of the participating institutions, and it does so by means of a technological infrastructure that makes them instantly available to the user with one click on an electronic device. It is fundamentally horizontal, both in organization and in spirit.

Instead of working from the top down, the DPLA relies on “service hubs,” or small administrative centers, to promote local collections and aggregate them at the state level. “Content hubs” located in institutions with collections of at least 250,000 items — for example, the New York Public Library, the Smithsonian Institution, and the collective digital repository known as HathiTrust — provide the bulk of the DPLA’s holdings. [more]

Crime Fiction

by Bill Hayes

In Crime Fiction for the New Yorker, Nicholas Schmidle questions a Chicago murder investigation.

Homicide investigators from Area One, the branch responsible for the neighborhood around Fifty-eighth and Michigan, took up the case. Even in a city that was averaging three murders a day, Area One detectives were exceptionally busy. Their territory included the notorious Robert Taylor Homes, twenty-eight public-housing towers whose stairwells were controlled by drug gangs. Robbery, rape, and murder were commonplace. “They were killing people left and right,” Kenneth Boudreau, a veteran detective who served in Area One, told me. The neighborhood was overwhelmingly black, but the police force was overwhelmingly white, and it struggled to establish authority. Tenants, seeing police below, sometimes threw trash from their windows. Many crimes went unsolved.

Cases that attracted significant media attention, however, often became known as “heaters,” drawing the resources necessary to make arrests and secure convictions. According to a 1992 article by Myron W. Orfield, Jr., a law professor at the University of Minnesota, heater cases were diverted to “judges statistically far more likely to convict.” Some cops tried to avoid the stress of such cases: in 2005, a retired detective told the Chicago Tribune, “You pray to God not to give you a heater case.” Others, like Boudreau, didn’t shirk the challenge.

Morgan’s case was a heater. Crime-lab technicians dusted the Cavalier, and three days later they pulled fingerprints from a Miller High Life bottle and a Löwenbräu forty-ounce that had been found in the car; the prints matched a set on file for Tyrone Hood, a resident of a South Side neighborhood eight miles away. Two detectives immediately began searching for him.

Shortly before 4 P.M., Hood was walking from his house to a corner store, the Munch Shop, when the officers, in an unmarked police car, pulled up alongside him. They informed him that his prints had turned up at a murder scene. Hood, who was twenty-nine, had a full, unpicked head of hair, and a tattoo of his nickname, Tony, on his left forearm. A married father of three, he cobbled together a living through temporary auto-repair jobs, construction gigs, and clerical work. He had grown up in a chaotic home, the eighth of ten children. An older brother had served time for robbing McDonald’s restaurants. When Hood was seventeen, two thieves shot and killed his father. Not long afterward, Hood was arrested twice for aggravated assault — one of the incidents involved unlawful use of a firearm — and once each for marijuana possession, battery, and theft. He had served a year on probation for the weapons charge. Now, facing the cops, he dismissed the possibility of his prints being at the scene. (“Someone must have put them there,” he later declared.) But he agreed to answer questions at the police station, to “clear his name.”

On May 8th, Hood said, he had spent the day at home with his family; that evening, he had watched “Cops” with his wife, Tiwanna. Later in the interrogation, though, he said that several people had come over, among them his friend Wayne Washington. When Hood was asked about his whereabouts on May 9th — Mother’s Day — he initially said that he had been with his mom. Then he said that he had stayed home with Tiwanna.

Kenneth Boudreau and his partner, John Halloran, took over the interrogation the next day. Boudreau considered himself an expert at separating a man from his secrets. “I have spent a lot of time learning how to interview people, and have been trained by the F.B.I.,” he told me recently. “You don’t have to beat people to get them to talk.” Chicago cops, however, have long been criticized for being overly aggressive. In 1931, a White House commission warned that the “third degree” — methods that “inflict suffering, physical or mental, upon a person in order to obtain information about a crime” — was “thoroughly at home in Chicago”; one preferred tactic involved beating a suspect in the head with a phone book, since it could “stun a man without leaving a mark.” In the late sixties, Chicago police officers shot and killed a Black Panther activist while he was in bed; his relatives received a large wrongful-death settlement. In 1982, a lieutenant named Jon Burge was accused of torturing Andrew Wilson, an alleged murderer of two police officers, who was in his custody. A doctor who examined Wilson found “multiple bruises, swellings, and abrasions,” and several “linear blisters.” Wilson claimed that he had been cuffed to a hot radiator and that “electrical shocks had been administered to his gums, lips, and genitals.” Burge was eventually fired for “systematic” misconduct.

Boudreau, a solidly built man who is now in his mid-fifties, told me that he had never relied on physical intimidation during interrogations. At the time of his encounter with Hood, Boudreau was an Army reservist. In 1990, during the Gulf War, he had deployed to Saudi Arabia; after the September 11th attacks, he had participated in the Ground Zero rescue effort. When he discussed interrogations with me, he spoke like a student of cognitive science. “It’s all right-brain, left-brain,” he said. “When someone is recalling something, they look left. But when they’re creating an answer they look right.” He claimed that people who spoke with their hands near their mouths were acting suspiciously, and theorized that “when someone’s tapping their leg you can see that if they had full movement they would be running away.”

Hood took a polygraph exam. Many scholars have questioned the reliability of such tests, but cops regularly use them. The polygraph technician detected “deception” in Hood’s answers. When Boudreau and Halloran pressed him over the inconsistencies in his story, Hood was impassive, telling them, “If I don’t say anything to explain, I will go to jail for a long time. If I do tell what happened, I will go to jail.” Hood later reported that Boudreau and his fellow-interrogators, frustrated with his refusal to confess, slapped him in the head and thrust a gun in his face, telling him that he could go home “if he signed ‘the papers.’ ” (Boudreau told me that he had not engaged in any abuse; Halloran declined to comment.)

After forty-eight hours in detention, Hood still maintained his innocence. Boudreau and his colleagues couldn’t hold him any longer without formally charging him, and they didn’t have enough evidence to succeed in court. On May 22nd, they let him go.

Three days after Hood left the station, investigators pulled another set of prints from a beer can in Morgan’s car and traced them to Joe West, who lived two blocks away from Hood. On May 27th, two detectives went looking for West; they didn’t find him, but came across Hood hanging out at the Munch Shop with his friend Wayne Washington. The cops, recalling that Washington had figured in Hood’s alibi, asked him if he would answer questions at the station. Washington agreed. Hood, who said that he didn’t want Washington to mistake him for a snitch, volunteered to go along and face further interrogation.

At the station, Hood and Washington were ushered into separate rooms. Detectives also tracked down West and another friend of Hood’s, Jody Rogers. Boudreau and three other detectives questioned West, who initially denied any knowledge of Morgan’s murder. But after West was informed that his fingerprints had been found on the beer can he told a different story. Wayne Washington and Jody Rogers, in turn, provided details that complemented West’s account. [more]

Why Are There So Many Orphans in the Comics?

by Bill Hayes

In Why Are There So Many Orphans in the Comics? for the New Republic, David Hajdu reviews Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is slyly literary. Chast knew what she was doing when she gingerly laced the theme of death through the book. Early on, when her parents chat about their views on religion, they focus on the afterlife. The family yarns we hear about Chast’s parents’ ancestors are mostly about tragedy and death, and the “cautionary tales” that Chast remembers being taught as a girl are all tales of doom: “Friend’s husband killed by falling flower pot,” “Guy who almost died playing oboe,” and “A rash, then dead.”

Chast’s book is deliciously funny and, at the same time, sober and true. It is steeped in the kind of family love that I can recognize: love inseparable from confusion, frustration, resentment, and high costs of many kinds. Like Maus and Fun Home, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is a book about the relationship between grown children and their parents that represents the comics art itself in full maturation. By the end of the book, as in the end of Maus, the parents are gone, and their comic-artist offspring is left alone, trying to act like a grown-up while making funny little study-hall doodles. The natural order of the comics has been restored. [more]

Old Debts, Fresh Pain

by Bill Hayes

In Old Debts, Fresh Pain, ProPublica reports on the weaknesses in debtor-protection laws.

Across the country, millions of other workers face a similar struggle: how to live when a large fraction of their paycheck is diverted for a consumer debt, as ProPublica and NPR reported Monday. The highest rates of garnishment are among workers who, like Rose and Goetzinger, earn between $25,000 and $40,000, but the numbers are nearly as high for those who earn even less, according to a new study by ADP, the nation’s largest payroll services provider.

Those who fall into this system find their futures determined by laws that consumer advocates say are outdated, overly punitive and out of touch with the financial reality faced by many Americans.

“Most low income people are struggling to keep up with basic fixed costs,” said Michael Collins, faculty director of the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “That tends to absorb most of the budget. There isn’t much left.”

ADP’s study, requested by ProPublica, offered the first large-scale look at how many employees had their wages garnished and why.  In the Midwest, one in 16 workers earning between $25,000 and $40,000 had wages seized for a consumer debt in 2013. These numbers reveal a hidden population, advocates say, and should spur lawmakers to offer more protection.

The federal law regulating garnishment harkens back to 1968, when the financial life of Americans was much simpler. Time has eroded what even then were modest protections. The law barred creditors from taking any wages from the very poorest of workers, but used a calculation based on the minimum wage to identify them. Since the federal minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with inflation, today, only workers earning about $11,000 annually or less — a wage below the poverty line — are protected. The law also allows collectors to garnish a quarter of a debtor’s after-tax pay, an amount that government surveys show is plainly unaffordable for many families.

And the law is silent on perhaps the most punishing tactic of collectors: It doesn’t prohibit them from cleaning out debtors’ bank accounts. As a result, a collector can’t take more than 25 percent of a debtor’s paycheck, but if that paycheck is deposited in a bank, all of the money in the account can be grabbed to pay down the debt. [more]

The Honey Launderers

by Bill Hayes

In The Honey Launderers, Bloomberg Businessweek reports on the largest food fraud in U.S. history.

Americans consume more honey than anyone else in the world, nearly 400 million pounds every year. About half of that is used by food companies in cereals, bread, cookies, and all sorts of other processed food. Some 60 percent of the honey is imported from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and other trading partners. Almost none comes from China. After U.S. beekeepers accused Chinese companies of selling their honey at artificially low prices, the government imposed import duties in 2001 that as much as tripled the price of Chinese honey. Since then, little enters from China legally.

[German ALW Food Group employees Magnus] Von Buddenbrock and [Stefanie] Giesselbach continued to cooperate with the investigators, according to court documents. In September 2010, though, the junior executives were formally accused of helping ALW perpetuate a sprawling $80 million food fraud, the largest in U.S. history. Andrew Boutros, assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago, had put together the case: Eight other ALW executives, including Alexander Wolff, the chief executive officer, and a Chinese honey broker, were indicted on charges alleging a global conspiracy to illegally import Chinese honey going back to 2002. Most of the accused executives live in Germany and, for now, remain beyond the reach of the U.S. justice system. They are on Interpol’s list of wanted people. U.S. lawyers for ALW declined to comment. [more]

The war in Ukraine

by David De La Torre

In Reversal of fortune, The Economist reports on the Ukrainian crisis.

WHEN, exactly, Russia’s stealth invasion of eastern Ukraine began it is hard to say. That was part of the point of the stealth. But on August 14th the Ukrainian government said it had destroyed a convoy of Russian military trucks carrying ammunition. On August 21st NATO satellite pictures showed Russian military units advancing with self-propelled artillery at Krasnodan on the road between Donetsk and Luhansk. And by August 25th and 26th Russian armoured columns were streaming across the border near Amvrosiyivka, on the road to Donetsk, and at Novoaszovsk, on the coast.

From that point on, the evidence for Russian troops on the ground was clear from the results of the fighting. Earlier in the summer the Ukrainian army had been making progress against the irregular Russian-backed rebels in the east. Now they were being routed by forces that were obviously more professional. The scale of the defeats was dramatic. On September 3rd, Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, who had been defiant just days before, announced that he had agreed the terms for a “permanent ceasefire” with Vladimir Putin, his Russian opposite number.

Doubtless taking note of Mr Poroshenko’s desperation, the Russian president’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, smoothly denied the claim. [more]

‘For the Common Good of Humankind’

by Bill Hayes

In ‘For the Common Good of Humankind’ for the New York Times Book Review, Daniel McCarthy reviews The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke: From the Sublime and Beautiful to American Independence by David Bromwich.

In “The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke: From the Sublime and Beautiful to American Independence,” David Bromwich explores another facet of this complex thinker: “I write about Burke as a moral psychologist.” Bromwich, a Sterling professor of English at Yale, gives us a figure who may be unknown to readers familiar with Burke only from “Reflections on the Revolution in France” or his reputation as modern conservatism’s founding father.

Bromwich’s Burke is one for whom “ordinary feelings such as trust, though they have a Christian correlative, themselves supply a sufficient groundwork of moral conduct.” Burke is moved more by a universal sympathy for human struggle than by religion or patriotism. [more]

For a free classroom lesson on Burke, see Edmund Burke: The Father of Conservatism from our Bill of Rights in Action Archive.

Infographic of the Day: Poverty rate in the United States from 1990 to 2012

Statistic: Poverty rate in the United States from 1990 to 2012 | Statista
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Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the Planet for Wildlife?

by Bill Hayes

In Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the Planet for Wildlife?, Smithsonian magazine looks at the idea of noted biologist E.O. Wilson to save the planet from a mass extinction.

Known as the father of sociobiology, he is also hailed as the pre-eminent champion of biodiversity: Wilson coined the word “biophilia” to suggest that people have an innate affinity for other species, and his now widely accepted “theory of island biogeography” explains why national parks and all confined landscapes inevitably lose species. He grew up in and around Mobile, Alabama, and has been at Harvard for over 60 years but still calls himself “a Southern boy who came north to earn a living.” He is courtly, twinkly, soft-spoken, has a shock of unruly white hair, and is slightly stooped from bending over to look at small things all his life — he’s the world’s leading authority on ants. Wilson has earned more than a hundred scientific awards and other honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes. And perhaps his most urgent project is a quest to refute conservation skeptics who think there isn’t enough left of the natural world to be worth saving.

Throughout the 544 million or so years since hard-shelled animals first appeared, there has been a slow increase in the number of plants and animals on the planet, despite five mass extinction events. The high point of biodiversity likely coincided with the moment modern humans left Africa and spread out across the globe 60,000 years ago. As people arrived, other species faltered and vanished, slowly at first and now with such acceleration that Wilson talks of a coming “biological holocaust,” the sixth mass extinction event, the only one caused not by some cataclysm but by a single species — us.

Wilson recently calculated that the only way humanity could stave off a mass extinction crisis, as devastating as the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, would be to set aside half the planet as permanently protected areas for the ten million other species. “Half Earth,” in other words, as I began calling it — half for us, half for them. A version of this idea has been in circulation among conservationists for some time.

“It’s been in my mind for years,” Wilson told me, “that people haven’t been thinking big enough — even conservationists. Half Earth is the goal, but it’s how we get there, and whether we can come up with a system of wild landscapes we can hang onto. I see a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming, with twists and turns, some of them opening up to become wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won’t let species vanish.”

I had also begun to think about such wildland chains as “Long Landscapes,” and Wilson said he liked the idea that they could meet climate change head on: Those that run north-south, like the initiative in the West known as Yellowstone-to-Yukon, can let life move north as things warm up, and those that run east-west may have the benefit of letting life move east, away from the west, which in the future may not see as much rain. “Why, when this thing gets really going,” Wilson said, “you’ll be so surrounded, so enveloped by connected corridors that you’ll almost never not be in a national park, or at any rate in a landscape that leads to a national park.” [more]

For a free classroom lesson on biodiversity and mass extinctions, see Are We Headed for a “Sixth Mass Extinction”? from our Bill of Rights in Action Archive.