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Messages - woozletracker

Pages: [1] 2 3 4
1
Visions of the Rewilding Renaissance / Re: Rewilding Britain
« on: August 24, 2015, 11:25:18 AM »
Yes, their analysis is lacking on that point. Monbiot restricts his vision to the barren highlands (on land at least) and cautions against restoration on lowland farmland with more fertile soils.

It's very accommodationist, recognising no necessity for conflict with those who have appropriated 30-40% of the entire planet's primary production for their own exclusive use (via their domesticates and fuel/timber/other extractions):

http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/153031/

They're looking for a 'win-win', but obviously in order for all the nondomesticated species to win (ie: have a fighting chance of not being driven extinct) agriculture and industry based societies have to lose. And not in a small way either! They're pleading to a better nature that doesn't exist. They don't understand that the civilised culture wants it ALL. That's why the sheep are still on the uplands, even if it's massively unprofitable and requires huge subsidies. Otherwise that land would just be going to WASTE.

cheers,
I

2
Visions of the Rewilding Renaissance / Re: Rewilding Britain
« on: July 20, 2015, 10:42:58 AM »
Hey Vera, nice to speak again :)

Yes, slow progress and there seem to be a lot of stupid hurdles in the way, but it's all very promising. Things will get interesting with the first big predators. Always a strong urge to kill them off because of the threat - real or feverishly exaggerated - they pose to livestock. That coupled with their audacity of acting outside of the farmer's immediate control, thus violating his self-appointed totalitarian mastery of the land...

Mark Fisher is writing interesting, informative stuff about this as always: http://www.self-willed-land.org.uk/

best,
Ian

3
Visions of the Rewilding Renaissance / Rewilding Britain
« on: July 16, 2015, 11:03:12 AM »
The movement inspired by George Monbiot's book 'Feral', as well as numerous small-scale projects across the UK, just put up their new website:

http://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/

They've also been getting some favourable media coverage, eg:

http://www.channel4.com/news/catch-up/display/playlistref/130715/clipid/130715_REWILD_1307  (possibly only available here)

Still no mention of human rewilding, except in the context of ecotourism and an increased 'sense of wonder' in less domesticated landscapes, but I was heartened to see an English writer putting this point across in the latest Permaculture magazine:

http://amelialake.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/integrated-rewilding-and-permaculture-magazine/

No text from the article at that link, I'm afraid, but here's the key passage fyi:

Quote
[...] the dominant view of rewilding perpetuates the false division between people and the rest of nature. Many indigenous communities do not have a word for 'wild'; they recognise themselves as part of nature, not separate from it. The wild should not be a place we visit, it should be something we are, an integrated whole that includes humans. Through recognising humans as part of nature we come to see that just as we domesticated animals and landscapes through agriculture, we also domesticated ourselves. In this sense humans need rewilding just as much as places. From this less well-known perspective rewilding is a homecoming to our own wildness, a simultaneous transformation of human systems and landscapes.


The 'false division' is in evidence in the Channel 4 piece, where it is set up as a conflict between the needs of wild nature vs those of the 'human ecology', referring to the barren uplands that have been grazed down to grass monocultures by sheep farming. So far there has been no analysis that I'm aware of as to why we have this division or how it came about (*cough*, agriculture). Monbiot views this as a problem inherent in the entire human species, as I mentioned in a previous thread, so this fits the alienated ecotourist vision, with barriers in place to limit our destructive activities and protect other species from us. There's little or no emphasis on the need to implement sustainable or regenerative subsistence strategies as a way of breaking down this division and creating situations where human activity in relation to other species can be encouraged rather than limited and policed - or simply reserved as a weekend leisure activity for affluent city-dwellers. I might even side with the sheep farmers if that turns out to be the case!

Anyway, thought it might be of interest to see how some are taking the rewilding idea in different directions.

cheers,
Ian

PS: yay, we've got beavers again: http://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/reintroductions/beaver

:)

4
Common Misconceptions / Re: Were (are) hunter-gatherers warlike?
« on: March 28, 2015, 06:02:03 AM »

5
Common Misconceptions / Re: Were (are) hunter-gatherers warlike?
« on: March 28, 2015, 05:42:32 AM »
Nice contribution, nameless. Weird how reluctant many folks are to actually have a conversation with whatever, or whoever they're wanting to learn more about (ants included! - not that I personally have that ability...) I've been turning this one back on myself lately, pointing out that nearly all of my understanding of indigenous people comes from books written by white writers, often based on information recycled from 2nd or 3rd hand sources. How reliable can this information really be, when most of the observers didn't take the time to immerse themselves properly in those cultures for the many years it would take to discard the preconceptions instilled by their own culture, to the point where they could begin to understand what was going on in any depth? Liedloff (Continuum Concept) did some time, Sorenson (Preconquest Consciousness) too and Abram (Spell of the Sensuous), Prechtel probably most of all (Secrets of the Talking Jaguar), but I still got the feeling even he was just scraping at the surface. What about Quinn, Jensen, Zerzan - have they spent any time with indigenous people, or enough time to respectfully be able to speak on their behalf? Probably it's important to have these 'halfway' voices, so the culture shock isn't too great and civilised audiences can still relate, up to a point, but I'm thinking you would need to hear directly from people born and raised in longstanding indigenous traditions in order to approach a fuller understanding of what that way of living is truly like. (Sidenote: can anyone point me to indigenous writers who have tried to do this - preferably in English!)

Anyway, I was thinking this topic could probably apply to hierarchy, or rather perceptions of hierarchy by western observers in indigenous populations, which tend to dissolve or turn into something completely differet upon closer inspection. Prechtel, for example, did a good job of showing how the Mayan shamans he was apprenticed to, while viewed by outsiders as a religious upper class in a western-type hierarchical relationship to those beneath them, actually had a totally different position within that society which didn't jibe with the usual western conceptions of power and subjugation. The shamans were providing an essential service with the - oftentimes dangerous - spiritual work they were undertaking. Ordinary people recognised this and offered support in the form of expensive gifts, meaning the shamans were released from the usual obligations of subsistence and could concentrate their full energies on their work. At the point where Prechtel makes enough money that he can afford to pay himself out of the debt he owes to these other villagers, they are affronted when he tries to do so, with one explaining that an attempt to get out of 'mutual indebtedness' - kas-limaal - was an attempt to 'push us away,' 'refuse us,' 'pretend to forget us [...] we don't have a word for that kind of death, that isolation of not belonging to all life' (Long Life, Honey in the Heart, p.347). A world of difference between forced taxation for a superior elite, and the use of voluntary gifts and a notion of universal debt to keep a society together through bonds of mutual obligation. And that's the slippery, but fundamental kind of difference you can only discover (I'm guessing!) through long periods of direct involvement in another culture.

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It's funny to see the actual sources of anthropological notions and realize that they're based on something really tenuous combined with the preconceptions and prejudices of someone who is an an expert in different field to the source of those preconceptions.

Indeed, it's the racist use of indigenous people, past and present, as a blank canvas for civilised people to indulge their prejudices and brain-dead philosophies. The trick is they actually have to be silent - easily done with prehistoric cultures, but more complex with those who still survive, in spite of concerted attempts by the same people who alternately romanticise or demonise them, while continuing to take their land, kill them off and enslave their remaining populations. Again, there has to be a real two-way conversation if anything is to be learned. Otherwise it's all confirmation bias and sock puppetry and we end up just talking to ourselves, using other people merely as props to suit whatever argument we happen to be making then.

I suppose the next question is: how do you have a conversation with someone who died tens of thousands of years ago, and whose cultural traditions have long since vanished from the face of the earth?

cheers,
Ian

6
Whales!

Our friend Monbiot (my emph.):

http://www.monbiot.com/2014/12/12/everything-is-connected/

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[T]he natural world is even more fascinating and complex than we had imagined. And we are only just beginning to understand just how rich and strange ecological processes might be.

I promised whale poo, and whale poo you shall have. Studies in the 1970s proposed that the great reduction in the large whales of the southern oceans would lead to an increase in the population of krill, their major prey. It never materialised. Instead there has been a long-term decline. How could that be true? It now turns out that whales maintain the populations of their prey.

They often feed at depth, but they seldom defecate there, because when they dive the stress this exerts on the body requires the shutdown of some of its functions. So they perform their ablutions when they come up to breathe. What they are doing, in other words, is transporting nutrients from the depths, including waters too dark for photosynthesis to occur, into the photic zone, where plants can live.

In the southern oceans, iron is a limiting nutrient, without which the plant plankton at the bottom of the food chain cannot reproduce and grow. By producing their poonamis – sorry, faecal plumes – in the surface waters, the whales fertilise the plant plankton on which the krill and fish depend. This effect, known as the “whale pump” has been hypothesised for several years. But now there is some experimental evidence to support it. A team of scientists at the University of Tasmania collected some pygmy blue whale poo (who knew that marine biology was so rich with possibility?) and grew plankton in water containing varying concentrations of it. They found that the richer the mix, the greater the productivity. No surprises there.

Separate research, in the Gulf of Maine, estimates that whales and seals, by defecating at the surface and recycling nutrients there, would, before their numbers were reduced by hunting, have been responsible for releasing three times as much nitrogen into those waters as the sea absorbed directly from the atmosphere. The volume of plant plankton has declined across much of the world over the past century, probably as a result of rising global temperatures. But the decline appears to have been been steepest where whales and seals have been most heavily hunted. The fishermen who have insisted that predators such as seals should be killed might have been reducing, not enhancing, their catch.

But it doesn’t end there. Plant plankton, when they die, slowly descend into the abyss, taking with them the carbon they have absorbed from the atmosphere. It is hard to quantify, but when they were at their historical populations, whales are likely to have made a small but significant contribution to the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The recovery of the great whales, which were reduced by between two thirds and 90%, but whose numbers are slowly climbing again in some parts of the oceans, could be seen as a benign form of geo-engineering.

This should not be the only, or even the main, reason why we should wish them to return, but the way in which whales change the composition of the atmosphere provides yet another refutation of the idea that we can manipulate the living world with simple, predictable results.


(Goto link for his refs)

Wasn't rewilding the prairies supposed to be really good for carbon sequestration? (Though not as good as leaving fossil fuels in the ground and/or ending the industrial age admittedly.)

cheers,
I

7
Archaeologists have found evidence of einkorn wheat in underwater excavations near the Isle of Wight:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/history/the-remarkable-archaeological-underwater-discovery-that-could-open-up-a-new-chapter-in-the-study-of-european-and-british-prehistory-10073458.html

This shoves the arrival of agriculture in the British Isles back a good 2,000 years to around 6,000BC. Just DNA, no seeds, so it's unclear whether it was planted and harvested there or just brought over and ground into flour by travelers. The coastline was much further out during that point in the mesolithic before the ice melted and seawaters drowned those lowlands, but the researchers seem to be working on the assumption that the wheat traveled by boat among surprisingly (to them) well-traveled human cultures:

Quote
Whichever scenario is correct, the discovery suggests a very unexpected degree of Mesolithic period maritime mobility (and Neolithic-originating cultural practice) that has not hitherto been apparent from the archaeological record.

If now-inundated coastal zones around continental Europe and Britain really were home to more technologically-developed and geographically-connected Mesolithic societies than those more inland Mesolithic cultures on what is still dry land, then there should be other differences at the Isle of Wight site, apart from just the einkorn evidence.

Remarkably, some such evidence has indeed emerged there.

The archaeologists, working there have found evidence of a wider range of flint tool styles - including some Neolithic-style  flint implements - and have also found around ten pieces of split timber, including three which had been split in a manner not seen elsewhere until the Neolithic.
Recent archaeological discoveries

The archaeologists say that the site may have been a Mesolithic boat-building encampment -perhaps the oldest such site yet discovered anywhere in the world. They have found evidence for woodworking, cooking and flint tool manufacturing. They also discovered pieces of Mesolithic string, the heel bone of a giant wild cow (aurochs) and DNA from dog (or wolf) and cattle (probably giant aurochs).

"The use of, or introduction of, cereal grains in Britain now appears to have been a much longer and more complex process than we had previously imagined," said archaeologist, Professor Vince Gaffney of the University of Bradford, co-author of the Science paper.

"Scientists' ability to analyse genetic material found deep in ancient buried marine sediments will open up a totally new chapter in the study of British and European prehistory.


My working theory on this is that it shows agriculture (aka the Neolithic Revolution) as capable of moving through forager territory much quicker than previously reckoned - although clearly much slower than the breathtaking pace of change upon first contact with the Americas and other suitable temperate zones around the globe. It throws up all the usual questions of who these people were - conquering immigrants or locals converted, either through choice or coercion, to the new way of life. How sharp were the distinctions between farming and foraging societies? Did they trade? Did they fight? How long did they coexist, with one group occupying the fertile lowlands (including those now underwater, it seems) and the other sticking to the forested highlands or the coasts? At what point did the foragers capitulate and what, if anything, of their culture and traditions remained, adopted by those who superceded them?

Interesting stuff...

cheers,
Ian

8
Grief & Praise / Wild boar 'tragedy' in the UK
« on: February 03, 2015, 06:38:46 AM »
Tragedy for who?

http://m.westerndailypress.co.uk/Government-action-Wiltshire-wild-boar-M4-tragedy/story-25960617-detail/story.html

Quote
The Government is to investigate how many wild boar are living in north Wiltshire after a motorist died after hitting one on the M4 through the county.

The chairman of Natural England, Andrew Sells, confirmed his department would be sending an expert to join a local deer initiative, with the specific remit of finding out just how bad the wild boar problem is in the farming country north of Chippenham and in the Bradon Forest, near Malmesbury.

The action comes after the tragic death of Raymond Green, a 47-year-old from Royal Wootton Bassett, whose car hit a huge wild boar on the M4 near junction 17 and was then hit by a lorry in the first week of January. [...]


My analysis of the news & framing terms of the article (x-posted from here):

********

Quote
Mr Gray said he was pleased the problem was at last being recognised. [...] once the monitoring work is completed, DEFRA will consider further steps to deal with the growing problem of wild boar


What are We going to do about the wild boar Problem?

Where have we heard this kind of language before? It often comes out as a justification just before further atrocities are committed towards an already long-persecuted population. What are We going to do about the Jewish Problem, the Gypsy Problem, the Badger Problem, the Rabbit Problem... etc. Who does the 'we' refer to and who gave 'us' the authority to arbitrarily deal out death in this matter?

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Their population growth has been such in the Forest of Dean that there is now an annual cull, as gardens, parks and football pitches are dug up by the boar.


Our chosen haunts - those We create and maintain through great and continuous labour - take precedence over Theirs (wild boar are a woodland animal and their disturbance of the soil actively favours the growth of saplings in areas where grass otherwise dominates). When They invade and upset Our carefully laid schemes they forfeit their right not just to passage in those areas but to their lives even those scraps of woodland which We (in our temporary beneficence) have allowed to persist.

Quote
The action comes after the tragic death of Raymond Green, a 47-year-old from Royal Wootton Bassett, whose car hit a huge wild boar on the M4 near junction 17 and was then hit by a lorry in the first week of January.


When one motorist loses their life because of a collision with a wild boar (whose own loss of life is pointedly not considered 'tragic' or cause for concern in any way) it is taken as an call to arms to defend all motorists from the threat posed to them by the bodies of living animals. What of the threat posed to animals by the M4 and all the other rivers of flying steel which cut through their migratory routes and fence their tiny living spaces with the constant threat of death? Once again it recalls Derrick Jensen's premise:

Quote
Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims. (http://www.derrickjensen.org/work/endgame/endgame-premises-english/)


Quote
Natural England does not carry out any formal monitoring of feral wild boar populations


There is a snarl behind the word 'feral' and further coded meanings behind the word 'wild', despite the attempts of some to rehabilitate them in a more positive light. At the heart of it lies disavowal: We are not 'wild' or 'feral' animals, and this is where our judge, jury & executioner authority comes from. We have cultivated ourselves just as we have cultivated the land and are now domesticated and civilised - or more correctly domesticating and civilising because the process is never complete and never unresisted. And yet the word 'feral' describes Us down to a 't' if you take it to mean an animal that has not discovered its place in the ecosystem, and which (until it manages to do this) causes great damage to the native flora and fauna leading to simplification and ecological impoverishment, with only the strongest and most flexibly adapted capable of resisting its onslaught.

But the disavowal allows Us to ignore all that we have in common with these wild boar, which we in turn perceive entirely in terms of Them, which permits us to go on destroying them or keeping them down (it's always a pushing down, coming from a fear of what may rise up after such long repression) as we see fit. That's the point of this article.

********

Wild boar have recently re-established a presence in the UK after being driven to extinction probably during the 1200s. George Monbiot had a good article about them a few years back:

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/09/16/arrested-development/

What parallels can we draw between their rewilding experience and our own? How can we make alliances and start to protect them (and maybe have them protect us)?

Thoughts welcome

cheers,
Ian

9
Common Misconceptions / Re: New Theory on N. Am. Extinctions
« on: December 02, 2014, 09:00:06 AM »
As far as I know it's still an open question why the horses stopped migrating past Solutre. Not that I've read any in-depth scientific study of its prehistory... Equally ignorant about herd migrations but I can think of dozens of potential reasons for the yearly patterns to shift over time (eg: changes in food availability, decreased desirability of the destination, obstacles forcing a change of path, overarching warming or cooling trends etc. etc.) What convinces you that there was an intensification of hunting, and that this led to their local demise?

Welcome back :)
I

10
Anyone watching this recent BBC documentary series? Full of the standard nature porn, complete with small fluffy animals for the youtube generation... But what most caught my attention was the way it describes social relationships and conflicts among other animal species entirely in terms of civilised humanity. I think the purpose of this is to basically legitimise the inhuman power structures which we're forced to endure on a daily basis by pointing to the 'animal kingdom' and saying: "Look, they're just like us! Everybody acts this way so our chosen way of life (hyper-violent, male-dominated hierarchies) is justified!" Here's the intro to the fourth episode, titled simply 'Power':

Quote
Now [after animals 'learn the lessons of childhood, enter the adult world and find a safe home'] they must battle for dominance, because those with power get privileges: the best food, the best territory and the chance to beat rivals for a mate. But only a lucky few will ever reach the top. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p026vhmr/life-story-4-power)


They look at kangaroos, meerkats and archer fish among others, but the real propaganda coup comes with the focus on a band of chimps in which one adolescent is trying to 'rise up the ranks' and assert his dominance on an existing male leadership. The description is full of loaded words like that, and you almost feel that you could be listening to Attenborough narrating power struggles in the corporate world, with 'vigorous young go-getters' taking on the old guard. All the footage is of action, squabbles, conflict, again typical of nature docs. You never see animals snoozing for half the day, slacking off or foraging lazily & peaceably with their peers. I guess the producers would say that doesn't make for good TV. But crucially it does nothing to challenge the very civilised concepts of resource scarcity, life as a constant struggle for survival, the need to 'get ahead' even at the expense of friends and family, the requirement to never let a moment pass and to always be seeking to improve status, expand your own personal empire etc.etc.

Seems to me it would be valuable to collect counter-examples in an attempt to show civilised folks, through the observation of non-humans, that life doesn't have to be this way. Probably an examination of noncivilised human cultures would be a powerful way to do that too.

Can anyone point me to books, articles, other documentaries that challenge this idea of the whole natural world being rooted in dominance and power? I need to wash Attenborough's smarmy narration out of my mind...

cheers,
Ian

11
R D-O does a c-span book reading (mainly from the introduction of the History) and discussion:

http://www.c-span.org/video/?321631-1/book-discussion-indigenous-peoples-history-united-states

Lots of good points. Andrew Jackson was an evil mother£$%*er. You will remember the phrase 'settler colonialism', and maybe end up using it in conversation to confound and enrage your more ignorant peers (she uses it about 100 times). The parallels with modern-day Palestine are striking throughout. She cites the UN definition of genocide:

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Article 2 of the convention defines genocide as

    ...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

        (a) Killing members of the group;
        (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
        (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
        (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
        (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

    — Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2[2]


13
Thanks for that, Goblin Girl. Good to see that some of the migrants acted differently and did not share the same ideology of manifest destiny imagined (and acted upon) by the elite. It's curious now to see the same elites giving lectures about integration, multiculturalism etc. to the poor, desperate migrants who dare to cross 'their' borders and attempt to make their way in 'their' land. I suppose if they came with conquering armies and a mission of genocide that would be okay! But seriously, that impulse to integrate and make peace seems like an important thing to work with in the process of making the dominant invasive culture go native and end its conquering ways.

cheers,
Ian

Oh, on scalping, wikipedia says it 'independently developed in various cultures in both the Old and New Worlds', citing the Crow Creek Massacre of 1325 where, out of around 500 bodies '90 percent of the skulls show evidence of scalping'.

14
Thanks, didn't know about this (although have read about how some of the power stations are shifting to biomass in a big way over here). I notice the environmentalists quoted in the article still haven't come up with a better reason for preserving these habitats than their value to us (ie: industrial civ) as a 'carbon sink'. This is just pathetic:

Quote
If nothing else, the new inquiry provides an emerging forum for examining ways to make working forests more bird-friendly. “We’re forging partnerships with landowners, loggers, scientists, and even hunting clubs that lease large swaths of bottomlands,” says Curtis Smalling, director of land bird conservation for Audubon North Carolina. “We understand that healthy timber markets can have an upside for conservation, and there are lots of ways to work together.”

Fucking quislings...

cheers,
I

15
This looks like a good'un! Real News interview in 3 parts (two up for now, will post the third when it arrives) with historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12560

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=767&Itemid=74&jumival=12568

and here's a decent review:

http://oldwars.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/book-review-an-indigenous-peoples-history-of-the-united-states-by-roxanne-dunbar-ortiz/

The part I found most interesting was her explanation for how the first European settlers repeated the same kind of patterns of colonial exploitation practiced in Ireland (and, I assume, other 'internal colonies' like Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, and probably other regions under the other colonial powers of Europe). It sounds like not only the oppressors carried on the same work with the Native Americans, but even the oppressees turned on them, failing to see any cause for solidarity in their own history. It's like the way child abuse gets passed down from generation to generation (see Alice Miller & others). From the review:

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European ideas of property also played a crucial role in the colonization of the Americas. Peasantry dispossessed of land and livelihood, especially in British occupied Ireland, comprised the rank-and-file of newcomers who came to make a life of their own. They had little choice in the matter when faced with the alternative of starvation and death at home. With them also came soldier settlers, or Ulster-Scots, who were seasoned and violent settlers in the colonization of Northern Ireland. They also brought the practice of scalping, which they first used on the Irish, and the tools of colonization necessary for violent war making against Indigenous peoples. These Scots-Irish settlers formed the wall of colonization as both fodder for the “Indian Wars” and as militant settlers who pushed frontier boundaries. They willingly or unwillingly cleared the way for “civilization” by transforming the land into real estate. The myth was born that white European civilization was “commanded by God to go into the wilderness to build the new Israel” and “entitled to the land through their blood sacrifice.” (55)


(It was also news to me that scalping was (originally?) a European practice. Bloody savages, eh?)

Also good to see is a challenge to the historians who put the greatest emphasis on epidemic disease as the major cause for the demise of Indian societies:

Quote
Dunbar-Ortiz works against the so-called “terminal narratives” to which many U.S. historians subscribe, that Indigenous population decline was mainly due to biological factors such as disease. Conveniently absent from these narratives is over three centuries of colonial warfare waged against Indigenous peoples. “Commonly referred to as the most extreme demographic disaster—framed as natural—in human history,” Dunbar-Ortiz writes, “it was rarely called genocide.” (40)


I like her style: such devastating analysis presented quietly, unassumingly from such a small frame! We need more warriors like that.

I

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