Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Truth Telling

Anita Roddick died yesterday after a period of illness, much of it attributable to Hepatitis C. Even though she likely contracted it in 1971, she wasn't diagnosed until 2004. When asked about it, she said, "I live with a sharp sense of my own mortality, which makes life more vivid and immediate."

That's the silver lining of bad medical news. The blinders fall off and what really matters stands out in sharp relief.

My mind wandered to another woman known for truth telling. Patricia Limerick functions as the University of Colorado's self-styled 'campus fool'. The university did not properly appreciate her until she won the MacArthur prize in 1995. ;-)

Patty is known primarily for her insightful essays which eschew academic jargon for accessibility to the general public. She covers history, multiculturalism, geography, energy and water policy and everything in the universe as it pertains to the American West. There are links to many of her articles at the website for the highly interdisciplinary Center for the American West. There is no blog, but the news page is set up with wordpress.

In one of my superhero counterlifes, I would like to do a postdoc with her to ponder energy and environmental policy. To get a taste of her clarity, read how Patty Limerick solves America's problems of energy dependence, the obesity epidemic, workaholism and sense of grief and loss in one breathtaking swoop.

Also read Witnesses to Persecution for her insights into discrimination and violence against Chinese Americans. Here is a short sample:
"We must acknowledge that nothing has immunized us against the unhappy effect that economic disappointment works on the soul, or against the temptation to find scapegoats to hold responsible for deeper problems."
And that's all I am going to say about today's anniversary.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for posting about Patty Limerick. I had never heard of her before. I like her writing voice - what I think of as "New Yorker magazine" style (smart, wide-ranging, affecting, and very readable). I'm looking forward to reading What Every Westerner Should Know About Energy Efficiency and Conservation.

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