A Blogging Milestone: Fifty Folks Following

Today, this blog reached fifty followers. That’s pretty cool.

I want to thank everyone who has been reading, liking, commenting, and following throughout the past month as I have been doing my blog every day challenge. Honestly, I started off with the assumption that few folks would actually be reading any of what I wrote, but after only three weeks or so, I’m already approaching 1000 views, which never ceases to amaze me. Not only that, but you all have given me a great opportunity to find like-minded folks to share ideas with. Even when I’ve encountered disagreements, sometimes that’s fun too, and they’ve given me something to write about, which is always fun. I’ve really been enjoying the feeling of finding a global community of thinking folks to discuss interesting things with. It’s something I want to keep working at, both for myself and for everyone who has been enjoying what I write.

Which brings me to an important topic: the future of this blog after my blog every day challenge ends in a few days. After giving it a good, honest try, I’m pretty certain that blogging every day isn’t for me. Because I usually like to write fairly lengthy posts, and because I like to actually link to public sources (when possible) for the claims I make, blogging every day leaves me feeling torn between spending a good long time crafting what I consider to be an excellent post and actually having something finished by the end of the day. After all, although I am a student, and it is the summertime, I do actually have a summer job, and that does take up time. I think I would really enjoy blogging every day, if I didn’t have other obligations to fulfill. (This is why I considered majoring in journalism, and still sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had.) But since my list of “other obligations” will only get longer as the summer ends and the schoolyear starts up again, it wouldn’t be honest or responsible to claim that I plan to continue daily blogging going forward.

However, just because I won’t be posting every day doesn’t mean that this blog will be going dormant after the end of this month. It won’t be. Instead, what you can expect is something along the lines of one long, well-crafted, fully-sourced post each week. I will probably be writing some very short “mini-posts” each week as well, interspersed in between the more in-depth ones. You can also expect to see a greater degree of reblogging things I find and enjoy on other folks’ blogs, and by “a greater degree” I mean “I’ll do that at all.” Since my positive WordPress experience has been largely the result of the community response, whether through views, likes, or follows, I want to spend a little less time posting my own stuff, and a little more time reading what others are posting, then sharing things I find noteworthy by reblogging them here.

So, to the special fifty folks who have chosen to follow Uncivilized Thinking, keep an eye out! You may stop by one day to find one of your own posts featured here. Thanks again for being awesome!

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Weinergate Reloaded

So, as it turns out, Anthony Weiner didn’t emerge from his sexting scandal “a changed man.” But here’s my question: who cares?

As I’ve talked about before, I’m not in favor of cheating in any form. If you agree to enter into a sexually and emotionally monogamous relationship, I think you’re a bit silly, but it was your own fault. When you inevitably feel a sexual and/or emotional attraction to someone other than your monogamous partner, you should own up to it and respond accordingly: either leave the relationship you’re in, renegotiate the terms of the relationship to accommodate your non-monogamous nature, or turn away from your newfound attraction and stay with your partner. Personally, I think the first and last options don’t really address the issue, just postpone it. Whether you choose the old relationship or the new one, there will come a time when the situation will repeat itself: you will find yourself once again attracted to someone who isn’t your chosen partner, and you’ll just be stuck in this endless cycle of serially monogamous misery. You can kick the can down the road all your life, but it would make a lot more sense to just face up to the fact that monogamy doesn’t actually work for most humans. But let’s bracket that discussion for now. The point is, as I see it, cheating on your partner is almost as absurd as being monogamous in the first place. Why did you bother imposing these silly, arbitrary, and unrealistic rules on yourself if you were going to break them anyway?

But none of that matters. Because the private lives of our political leaders have essentially no bearing on how well they govern. Think of President Kennedy. JFK cheated on his wife Jacqueline constantly, sleeping with hundreds if not thousands of barely-legal interns while he was President. Jackie was well aware of all this, and didn’t really care, which was eminently fair of her, since she herself had an affair with actor Richard Burton and even some good old-fashioned hate sex with JFK’s old flame Marilyn Monroe in the Lincoln Bedroom. (She later famously had an extended affair with her husband’s brother, though they were both married at the time, and not to each other.) This makes for salacious reading material, which is why the media goes crazy over “sex scandals;” it’s a chance to get the average bloke interested in political news. But here’s the thing: all those flings had no effect on Kennedy’s ability to govern. The guy basically averted nuclear armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis, despite the fact that the “red telephone” system wasn’t even in place yet. (In fact, it was this crisis that prompted the creation of the White House-Kremlin hotline.) He created the Peace Corps. He established the first nuclear test ban treaty. He scrapped Eisenhower’s anti-Keynesian economic policy, and set off an economic boom that lasted a decade and has been unmatched ever since. I’d say that’s a job well done. And all the while, he was screwing interns in the Oval Office—as many as ten a week, according to Jackie.

We shouldn’t waste our time judging, or even discovering, the private lives of politicians. They have a right to privacy, just like us, and if we don’t want the politicians to violate our privacy (with, for example, warrantless wiretapping and NSA spying), then we should respect theirs. Even though it’s dishonest, I don’t care when they lie to the public about their affairs to protect their family’s privacy. Their marital problems are their business, not ours. In fact, this may not even be a marital problem so much as a marital abnormality. Given that Anthony Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin has stuck with him and actively supported his run for mayor through both waves of the “scandal” over his dick picks, for all we know, she doesn’t actually mind his internet flirting. It’s worth noting, of course, that although this gets labeled a “sex scandal,” Weiner doesn’t seem to have ever had any physical contact with any of the women involved. Photos were exchanged, sexy messages were typed, even some phone “sex” was had, but Weiner never actually slept with anyone but his wife during their marriage (as far as we know). Maybe there is an agreement between Weiner and his wife that some things are okay, but others wouldn’t be. Who knows? But the important thing is this: What Weiner does in his private life, and what Abedin thinks about it, doesn’t matter. What matters is his policy. He’s not running for “husband of the year,” or “most tactful sexter,” he’s running for mayor of New York City.

We don’t judge our sexual partners by whether or not they’d make good politicians. We shouldn’t judge our politicians by whether or not they’d make good partners.

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Just Jealous? Why I’m Angry about Wealth Inequality (and you should be, too)

I’m going to be upfront about this: wealth inequality, both within the USA specifically and on a global scale, is a hot-button issue for me. It’s one of the political problems I care about the most. That’s why, since I live in New York City, I actively participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests at Liberty Square right from the start, or close to it. As a full-time student, I didn’t camp out there, and I would have felt a little guilty doing so anyway, since I couldn’t commit all day every day to the protests, but I was down there quite a bit. When discussing those protests, many of the things I would hear from fellow students were variations on the theme of: “You’re just jealous.”

As they saw it, the only reason anyone would protest against the vast wealth disparities between the top 1% (and, especially, the top .01%) and the rest of us was materialistic envy. According to this theory, I was protesting because I felt entitled to the same level of wealth and power that these über-elite banking executives enjoy, and I was demanding that they simply hand this kind of economic “success” (so-called) to me. After explaining to me what my motivations were, and why that meant that protest was misguided, these generous souls would then kindly offer me some advice on “more constructive” ways to deal with my jealousy of the banksters. The recommendations typically fell into one of two categories: 1) Sit down, shut up, get back in line, find a job at a bank, work hard, save up, and get rich myself (this advice typically came from the business school students), or 2) Remind myself that I don’t really even want to be rich in the first place, and just calm down already, because what was there to be so jealous and upset about?

Now, I’m not blaming the folks who offered this advice, or saying that they were being intentionally or willfully unhelpful. Both these ideas would have been great solutions, if my classmates had been diagnosing the problem correctly. If my anger at wealth inequality really did stem from jealousy, then either one of these solutions would have worked excellently, if I had taken it to heart and lived by it. They were, in a sense, right answers. They were just answering the wrong question.

My problem with wealth inequality isn’t that super-rich folks have nicer shit than I do. Indeed, by my own aesthetic standards, their lives are mostly a lot worse than mine. For example, my actual living quarters are a lot closer to my dream home than a giant empty mansion would be. I don’t like a high level of technology in my living space (or, really, on my planet). If someone handed me a billion dollars and made me spend it all on myself, I certainly wouldn’t waste it on luxury yachts and big-screen televisions, even if I were acting out of pure selfishness. Those things just simply don’t appeal to me in the first place.

In fact, my problem with wealth inequality isn’t, strictly speaking, even with the inequality itself. That doesn’t bother me. Some people are taller than others, some people are stronger, etcetera, etcetera. My sister, for example, is taller than I am. No big deal. But here’s the crucial difference: She didn’t cut off my legs to achieve her height. She didn’t get taller by making other people shorter. In the case of wealth inequality, however, that’s precisely how it works: the elites gain surplus by depriving the masses of what we need to survive.

I’m not against wealth inequality because the rich have more than they could ever possibly want, but because the poor have less than they actually need. I’m against it because while billionaires zip around in private jets and decide the future of the world, at least one billion of their fellow human beings have never tasted clean water. I’m against it because while executives take home six-figure annual bonuses in addition to their salaries to pat themselves on the back, one in four children in America is on food stamps because their families can’t afford both food and rent. There is enough of everything to go around in this world, but because the distribution is so massively imbalanced, almost all the world’s wealth is in the hands of only a few hundred individuals. And while they feast, the world starves. It is monstrously unethical to ask the “have nots” to simply ignore the lives of the “haves,” and enjoy what they’ve got rather than feeling entitled to something more. Most of the humans living on this planet, and even millions upon millions of people in the richest countries in the world, haven’t got enough to get by. It’s not about trying to get ahead, it’s just about wanting, for once, to be allowed to break even.

Assuming that people who are angry about wealth inequality just wish they were rich is like assuming that feminists just wish they were misogynistic. It completely misses the point. I’m angry that there are rich peoplenot that I’m not one of them.

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The Memories of Moths

Moths can remember things that happened to them as caterpillars. Seriously. Butterflies, too.

In a 2008 paper, researchers from Georgetown University demonstrated that when a caterpillar is trained to avoid a particular smell, the moth who was once that caterpillar will retain the memory of the training, and continue to avoid the scent. Caterpillars were treated with mild electric shocks while simultaneously being exposed to particular odors, conditioning them to avoid that smell. The caterpillars were then placed in tubes with a “fork” in their “road,” with the target smell emanating from one path but not the other. The caterpillars strongly preferred to head away from the smell, down the other direction. But here’s the crazy part: when these caterpillars became moths, the vast majority of those moths also avoided the smell, and took the other option. The researchers tried the same setup with caterpillars and moths who had not been exposed to the shock-training, and found that the avoidance behavior was not exhibited by these untrained individuals. In other words, caterpillars and moths don’t just avoid this smell on their own; that comes only with training. And the only training occurred during the caterpillar stage of the moths’ life cycle. Since the caterpillars avoided the smell, that means it worked. And since the moths did too, that means they remembered their caterpillar training. Which means that memories are preserved across the metamorphosis stage.

I found this research fascinating. It’s my kind of discovery: upending conventional wisdom by actually testing it against the real world, and finding it wanting. Like most folks out there, I grew up with the idea that butterfly and moth caterpillars are essentially liquefied during their metamorphosis. The pupal crucible breaks down everything the caterpillar is, and rebuilds it as a moth, or as a butterfly. When the caterpillar’s pupa breaks open, the moth who emerges is something quite new and different. This idea is the root of numerous metaphorical comparisons: When we feel that we are losing who we are, that our lives are being entirely upended and destabilized, we are reminded that “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.” Except it turns out that even the caterpillars aren’t quite so prone to exaggeration. Perhaps the caterpillars are secretly Zen Masters themselves.

However, to me, the thing that jumped out at me wasn’t that caterpillars’ memories are retained by moths and butterflies, but rather that caterpillars have been proven to form memories in the first place. Of course, it comes as no surprise to me, but I imagine that most folks today think of caterpillars as mindless “eating machines,” with no psychological life at all. It would be “anthropomorphizing” to attribute mentation to caterpillars; how very unscientific! And yet the entire premise of this research is the tacit understanding that caterpillars form memories. There is something it is like to be a particular caterpillar, something different from what it’s like to be a different caterpillar. (Or a bat.) Caterpillars feel pain, just as we do, when zapped with an electric shock. (If you prick us, do we not bleed?) And it traumatizes them. During metamorphosis, caterpillars essentially takes their own bodies apart and start over from scratch, and even that is not enough for them to get over it. To put it in the words of John Locke (not the Lost character; I mean the O.G.), caterpillars have psychological continuity over time. In case you missed it, that’s Locke’s criterion for personhood, and the persistence of personal identity. When we speak of caterpillars, we should not say “the caterpillar that became a moth,” but rather “the caterpillar who became a moth.” It isn’t just something, it’s someone.

Remember that next time you are considering a silk scarf. Sericulture, the 5000-year-old practice of breeding and raising silkworm caterpillars in captivity, then tearing apart their cocoons when they enter into the metamorphosis phase, is lethal to the silkworm caterpillars involved. And although a single caterpillar produces as much as one thousand yards of raw silk, because the harvesting process is very inefficient, producing a single kilogram of silk fabric requires the murder of more than five thousand caterpillars. There’s a reason that Gandhi (yes, that Gandhi) was a vocal opponent of sericulture. If you believe that every living thing has a conscious self (a soul, if you will), then every single filament of silk ever worn is steeped in a five thousand year history of genocide.

And if you accept, as shown by this among other experiments, that a caterpillar forms associative memories of subjective experiences like pains and smells, memories written so deeply and indelibly into the caterpillar’s being that they survive even the near-death and winged resurrection of the caterpillar itself, then on what grounds can you deny that each of these caterpillars has a conscious self?

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Support Elizabeth Warren’s Banking Bill

After the catastrophic banking crash that led to the Great Depression, the United States passed some laws to make sure the same thing never happened again. Chief among them was the Glass-Steagall Act, or the Banking Act of 1933. This law required that investment and commercial banks be kept separate. What’s the difference between the two? Well, pretty much everything. Investment banks gamble (legally, mostly) with investor money, playing the odds on Wall Street and trying to generate return on investment for their investors. Commercial banking, however, is what most of us think of when we think of banks. A commercial bank accepts deposits from average everyday people, who store their money with the bank because they have faith that keeping it in the bank is safer than keeping it under their mattresses. The commercial bank then turns around and makes loans to other everyday people, so that we can buy houses, cars, education, or anything else too expensive to afford out of pocket. That’s pretty much the primary way a commercial bank generates revenue: collecting interest on those loans. In turn, this allows everyday people to put their money in savings accounts, and collect interest of their own. The bank has confidence that you won’t withdraw all your money all at once (because it’s all your savings!), so they can lend that money out and collect back an even bigger sum in little monthly intervals.

But here’s the problem: these two kinds of bank had merged in the “roaring twenties,” because it was more profitable that way. A combined investment/commercial bank would use depositor money as collateral to back up its massive, risky bets on Wall Street. In other words, the banksters would gamble with depositor money—yours and mine. The balance of your bank account was just a pile of poker chips to be placed on a stock the bank was hopeful about, and if they were wrong, well, it wasn’t their money in the first place. Think about it: if you were gambling with someone else’s money, wouldn’t you take more risks than you would with your own life savings? These banks did. And their risky speculation crashed the entire world economy. (Sound familiar?) When the investment banks went under, they took the commercial banks with them, which meant that basically everyone lost their life savings overnight. The banks just didn’t have the money: they had bet it all and lost. When average citizens all went en masse to withdraw their money, they were met with locked doors.

Obviously, that’s a pretty awful outcome. In the aftermath, the Glass-Steagall Act (named for the legislators who co-sponsored it) was passed to prevent investment banks from gambling with depositor money ever again. Sure, if someone gave them money and specifically said “Here, invest this for me,” they could gamble with that; it wasn’t as though they made investment banks illegal. All this law did was prohibit those investment bankers from also setting up commercial banks, luring the common folk into depositing their money, and then gambling with our life savings on risky Wall Street financial bubbles. Nothing could be more reasonable.

And so, of course, it was repealed in 1999.

At the time, Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) warned that getting rid of Glass-Steagall would lead to massive destabilization of the world economy by the boom and bust cycles of the investment banking industry, but his protests were drowned out by the enthusiastic endorsements of the vast, corporate-owned majority in both the Senate and the House. And in a few short years, the world economy was pulverized by the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. We are still living through it now. But here’s the worst part: nothing has actually been done to fix the underlying problems that allowed that collapse in the first place. You think things are bad now? The entire world economy is just a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode at any moment and send us into a downward spiral that may end up being worse than the original Great Depression.

That’s why it’s so important that Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, is finally reintroducing a revamped, reinvigorated version of the 1933 Banking Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, that gave us fifty straight years (1933-1983) without a single banking crisis, let alone a global economic collapse. Not only that, but she has co-sponsorship from across the aisle, even including former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain (R-Arizona). Resurrecting Glass-Steagall is possibly the single most important legislative step that can be taken to fix the catastrophically unstable financial system we have today. And it’s certainly far and away the best legislative step that’s actually being proposed by actual legislators.

So, what can you do about it? Well, you can start by heading over to Elizabeth Warren’s website and signing her petition to the rest of Congress. You can also find a similar petition on the Bold Progressives website, where over 157,000 people have already signed. And even more importantly, you can spread the word about Elizabeth Warren and her bold efforts to genuinely bring us common-sense, desperately needed financial reform. This is the kind of bill that shouldn’t even need to be debated; it should pass unanimously. Of course, because virtually every legislator in Washington is deeply and irredeemably corrupt, it stands very little chance right now. But that’s why we, the people, need to be scoring this vote. Anyone and everyone who votes against Elizabeth Warren’s new banking bill will officially be showing us their true colors. They don’t represent us, they represent the moneyed interests who bought their votes with campaign donations. And when our representatives no longer represent us, it’s time to find new representatives.

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Calling Shotgun on Spy Drones

Now here is the kind of hunting I can get behind.

A little town called Deer Trail, Colorado, is considering passing an ordinance that would offer a $100 bounty for shooting down a government spy drone. I love it. They even specify that the drone must be shot down with “a 12-gauge shotgun.” For pretty much the first time ever, I actually find myself appreciating the stereotypical American “shotguns solve everything” frame of mind. When reporters asked the town’s residents whether they had considered the legality of such a measure, one resident responded: “Is it illegal? Of course it is. But it’s also illegal to spy on American citizens.” That’s a damn good point.

The NSA, our most prolific spying agency, claims that their spying is legal, authorized by section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. However, according to the precedent set by FISA courts, that is actually not the case: section 215 can only be used to authorize spying on specific individuals under targeted investigation for specific crimes. Even according to the Republican representative who wrote the freakin’ PATRIOT Act in the first place, Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, the blanket spying is illegal. In fact, Sensenbrenner is so furious about the NSA’s interpretation of his law that he is threatening to repeal his own bill if the NSA continues its shady practices. “You have to change how you operate section 215,” he warned the NSA, “otherwise you’re not going to have it anymore.”

Seriously, though, is anyone out there comfortable with robot spyplanes buzzing around over our heads? I’m certainly not. And neither are the folks in Deer Trail. I love that resident’s response in the previous paragraph. It reminds me of Roald Dahl’s excellent little story The Magic Finger. The American government seems to think that they can get away with whatever they want, because they aren’t above the law; they are the law!  In other words, “we allow ourselves.” Well, the town of Deer Trail is saying, two can play that game.

There’s something else this story reminds me of: the 1984 film Red Dawn. This film, written to evoke support for the plight of the mujahideen fighting to liberate Afghanistan from Soviet occupation, uses a simple but highly persuasive rhetorical device: “Well, what would you do if the Soviets invaded your country? Wouldn’t you join in the guerrilla warfare against them? Wouldn’t any red-blooded ‘Murrican?” It was a good point. (Though the American government should probably be kicking themselves for giving those freedom fighters all those funds and weapons, since some of them went on to found a little group known as al-Qaeda.)

But here’s why I love what’s happening in Deer Trail. Imagine how that small, gun-loving, deeply conservative town would react if the drones flying over their heads were dropping bombs. On weddings. On funerals. On any males age 18 and up who own firearms, which I’m guessing, in a town like this, is all of them. And then on the ambulances and medics that respond to the crisis. Well, that’s exactly what the U.S. government is doing all over rural Pakistan. Seriously. And we wonder why there are more and more people willing to join up with anti-American terrorist movements? We wonder why there is such rage and hatred directed at the West? Well, how would you feel about a government that did this to you? This town is basically threatening armed retaliation against drones when 1) they haven’t actually ever seen any over their town, and 2) even if there are drones over their town, those drones aren’t even armed. So what do you think the reaction would be if government drones started bombing that town? Well, what would your reaction be? Given how outraged these folks already are over the unarmed domestic drones, perhaps some of the folks on the conservative side might want to rethink their approval of the American drone programs abroad, too.

Now, I’m going to make it clear: I doubt that this ordinance will pass, or have any effect even if it does. But the spirit behind it made me smile. We have to stop the US government’s drone programs, both at home and abroad. Whether the drones are murdering civilians or just spying on innocent citizens, they are never a force for good. They should be left on the scrap heap of history.

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“Removing Invasives”

I spent most of the day today doing volunteer work with Million Trees NYC.

The primary purpose of this group, as you might have guessed, is to plant one million trees in New York City. However, despite that, most of the work we did today was, in a sense, the opposite. The site I was volunteering at was a park area where new sapling trees had been planted several years ago, right when the project was starting. Our primary task today was, as the fellow from the parks department put it, “removing invasives.” Those saplings still aren’t full-grown trees yet. As such, they are still vulnerable to being strangled by vines and shaded out by other opportunistic non-native plants like burdock. So, to ensure that the trees survive to reach full growth, we had to prune back these invasive species.

It was good, hard work, and I understand why it had to be done. I’ll admit, though, it felt a little weird to me to be volunteering with an organization whose specific mission is to plant things…then spending most of the time actively killing plants. Yes, invasive species are a threat to native ones. But part of me couldn’t help feeling like we had something backwards here. There we were, killing the plants we didn’t like because they were outcompeting the ones we did. That seemed eerily like the kind of attitude that got us into the current environmental crisis in the first place, including the problems of non-native species invading and disrupting the balance of the ecosystem.

And it would have made sense to me if not for the fact that we were working right at the edge of a highway. Why is that relevant? Because, seriously, how can we pretend to care about the disruption to the ecosystem caused by invasive species when we don’t prune back the one invasive species that started these problems in the first place: ourselves? Instead of spending our effort fighting with these invasive plants about what the species composition of the green areas will be, isn’t it more important to fight for larger green areas, and reductions in the concrete deserts? Are we planting these trees because we actually care about trees, or just because we think trees are pretty? It seems a little weird to care about oak trees, but think that burdock is nothing but a nuisance to be chopped down.

Here’s the important question, as I see it: are we just planting these trees to beautify already green areas, or are we planting trees to expand the green areas and push back against the grey? Now, to be fair, I don’t know what that area looked like before Million Trees NYC got there a few years ago. But what worries me is that environmentally-minded people might be spending their efforts on things that marginally improve human quality of life within the city, through increasing the aesthetic appeal of our surroundings, instead of focusing on driving back the concrete and replacing it with ecologically viable land.

Again, I’m not saying that invasive species shouldn’t be fought. What I’m saying is that the most dangerous and high-profile invasive species is ourselves. If we win the fight against every other invasive species, but continue to allow our own sprawl of life-crushing concrete to go unchecked, then none of those other victories means anything, not in the long run. If we want the ecosystems to stabilize, then we need to stop fragmenting them into little bits and pieces, stop paving them over just to make our economy more convenient (in other words, to make our system designed for destroying the world more efficient, so that a tiny number of humans can get even more money at the expense of the long-term survival of the entire species). I felt that I was doing good work today, making sure that the invasive species introduced by globalization, and colonial imperialism before it, don’t gain a foothold in disrupting the new ecosystem that Million Trees NYC was creating here. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but think that even a giant morass of nothing but weeds and mugwort would be infinitely preferable to a paved concrete road. Yes, I’d rather have a healthy ecosystem with thriving local plants, obviously. But the difference between a stable ecosystem and one rich in invasive species seems less important than the difference between having an ecosystem at all and being a concrete wasteland.

It’s the concrete wastelands we should be pruning back first, not the invasive plants. Suppose all the invasive species take over. Yes, the ecosystem will never be the same; but in time, in will achieve a new equilibrium, if we leave it be. Even an invasive plant is still a plant, still a living thing, and where there is life, there is hope.  Where there is concrete, there is nothing but despair.

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