instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Commentaries, otherwise unpublished

Craig C. Chandler, a remembrance

C3PO
Craig C. Chandler, a personal observation


We first met in late 1977 at his office in Rosslyn when he was director of Forest Fire and Atmospheric Science Research for the U.S. Forest Service. I wasn’t sure what to expect. We chatted freely and when I left I was better informed, except  Read More 
1 Comments
Post a comment

The Big Blowout - a 30-year retrospective on the 1988 Yellowstone fires. An extract from To the Last Smoke, Vol. 3, The Northern Rockies

Everyone agreed at the time that the fires of 1988 were a monumental event, not only for the Northern Rockies but for the nation; and that judgment has persisted. For years afterward the big burns were the pivot of conferences, training sessions, scientific studies, and fire cache chatter. Twenty years later they merited a retrospective  Read More 
1 Comments
Post a comment

California split - fire careers, north and south

Fire lighting and fire fighting - two tasks that should be joined but rarely are. Careers veer into one or the other. Like so much of the California fire scene, they tend to divide north and south. Those who began by quenching fire, if they drift into the right niches of the north, might  Read More 
Be the first to comment

When Johnny Cash walked out of a burning ring of fire

Sometimes culture and fire collude, sometimes they clash, and sometimes they just collide. When celebrities are involved, an episode can become a curious cipher on American fire, and when those celebrities are Johnny Cash and California condors, the event can transcend the quirky into the just plain bizarre. Of course it happened in Southern  Read More 
Be the first to comment

NASA vs. NARA: taking the measure of the two cultures

Taking the measure of the two cultures

The two cultures may share topics, problems, and occasionally the same cranium, but they rarely mix. When it comes to practice, my usual index is simple. The sciences deal with figures, and the humanities, with figures of speech. Numbers act on the marketplace of ideas as monetizing  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Words on fire

Words, texts, language - these are normally considered the stuff of the humanities. But words, good, bad, and ugly, saturate fire management. They have consequences. We ought to understand them better

Words matter. They matter in themselves, because their use reflects choice and imparts information. They matter because they contain analogies  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Buzz Off

A reflection on Buzz Aldrin on the occasion of MIT+150 seminar on the future of exploration.

It was a symposium dedicated to the future but it kept getting hijacked by the past. MIT+150 “The Future of Exploration” was part of the university’s sesquicentennial, a celebration of previous accomplishments that, it was asserted, would be surpassed by the dazzling achievements to come. But every time Buzz Aldrin entered the room all eyes turned to him. Read More 
Be the first to comment

"Science supplies the solution"

It was an auspicious entry to an august setting amid desperate times.

The National Academy of Sciences had been established in 1863, amidst the American Civil War, to bring scientific advice to the federal government. Its imposing building sits on the Constitution Avenue, facing the Mall. Its logo features a torch. Its Great Hall spills into the auditorium beneath a mural that depicts Prometheus carrying flame heavenward. For fire folk tasked with discussing the future of wildland fire science at a time when fires were hollowing out the U.S. Forest Service, it couldn't get more distinguished.

The Workshop on a Century of Wildland Fire Research, hosted by the Academy on 27 March 2017, gathered many of the best minds in the field. Read More 

Be the first to comment

The gift outright

I have to prove - contrary to written evidence - that I can be a man of few words. So let me turn to poetry.

Specifically, to Robert Frost's "The Gift Outright." "The land was ours before we were the land's...." It's one of the grand themes of American environmental history, and  Read More 
Be the first to comment