The Arctic’s devastating transformation

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Click on the image to reach Camille Seaman’s gallery of photographs

There was no snow, no sea ice anywhere to be seen. These would be my last days in Svalbard in August of 2011.

The only snow was in the many glaciers that bled deafening waterfalls into milky turquoise-colored fjords and into the dark sea. I lowered my gaze, averted my eyes whenever someone on the ship said to me, “See you next season!” I knew I was finished.

The Arctic had been transformed over the decade I had spent documenting through the lens of my camera. I was the ship’s expedition photographer. My photographs were about awe and beauty. To return here would mean documenting the devastation. This place was sacred to me, it was like no where else on the planet.

It broke my heart knowing I would not return

We are out of time. There is no safe place left to be apathetic.

This Earth Day is perhaps similar to many others that came before it. It is a call to consider our biosphere. It remains a call to honor the place that gives you safe haven from the dark cold emptiness of space. It is a day to stand up and declare what aspect of life on this planet you will lend your voice, your support, your time and energy to protecting.

Please RTFA. Read it all. Click on the photo up top to get to Camille Seaman’s gallery. I think you will feel her love for what she has captured. What she is losing.

What we all are losing.

Thanks, Mike

We have lost Marcella Hazan

In his early days as a rising star chef, Mario Batali received a letter from Marcella Hazan after he had made risotto in a sauté pan on his television show, “Molto Mario.”

In it, the exacting and sometimes prickly Italian-born cook told Mr. Batali he was all wrong. In no uncertain terms, Mrs. Hazan told him the only proper way to make risotto was in a saucepan. He did not agree, but the two became friends anyway, sitting down over glasses of Jack Daniel’s whenever their paths crossed.

“I didn’t pay attention to Julia Child like everyone else said they did,” Mr. Batali recalled. “I paid attention to Marcella Hazan.”

Mrs. Hazan, a chain-smoking, determined former biology scholar who reluctantly moved to America and went on to teach a nation to cook Italian food, died Sunday at her home in Longboat Key, Fla. She was 89.

She had been suffering from emphysema for many years, and had severe circulation problems, her husband, Victor, said.

The impact Mrs. Hazan had on the way America cooks Italian food is impossible to overstate. Even people who have never heard of Marcella Hazan cook and shop differently because of her, and the six cookbooks she wrote, starting in 1973 with “The Classic Italian Cook Book: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating.”

“She was the first mother of Italian cooking in America,” said Lidia Bastianich, the New York restaurateur and television cooking personality.

Mrs. Hazan embraced simplicity, precision and balance in her cooking.

Plenty left to read in the rest of the article, her marriage to Victor, confronting supermarkets with dead chickens, strict allegiance to the regional styles that comprise all of Italian cooking.

The Scottish side of my family is understanding when I say I’m glad I learned to cook from the Italian half of the family. You need only enjoy one of the many Mediterranean-grounded restaurants throughout Scotland to see how my northern kin have learned to enjoy Europe’s southern fare.

Sometime soon, I hope someone gets to interview Mario Batali in detail about his friendship, the dialectic of their discussions about cooking. It should offer more about food and real cooking than a season of some of the let’s pretend shows on television.

President Obama’s emotional thank-you to staff

President Obama choked up as he addressed his campaign staff, likening the team to “ripples of hope” whose accomplishments would far outlast his term in office.

Obama’s post-victory visit to his campaign headquarters in Chicago on Wednesday was closed to the media. But a new video posted on his YouTube channel shows the president’s emotional, off-the-cuff speech to the team that helped him secure another four years in the White House.

He began by recalling how he “grew up” during his time as a community organizer in Chicago, saying the work “changed me much more than I changed the communities.”

“I became a man during that process. And so when I come here and when I look at all of you, what comes to mind is not that you guys actually remind me of myself, it’s the fact that you are so much better than I was, in so many ways,” Obama said.

His voice cracked with emotion as he continued.

“I’m absolutely confident that all of you are going to do just amazing things in your lives,” he said. “What Bobby Kennedy called the ripples of hope that come out when you throw a stone in a lake — that’s going to be all of you.

“That’s why even before last night’s results, I felt that the work that I had done in running for office had come full circle, because what you guys have done means that the work that I’m doing is important. And I’m really proud of that. I’m really proud of all of you.”

As the campaign team applauded and attempted to buck up the commander in chief, he wiped tears from his eyes…

“Whatever good we do over the next four years will pale in comparison to what you guys end up accomplishing for years and years to come,” he said. “And that’s been my source of hope. That’s why when people over the last four years, when people ask me about how do you put up with this or that and the frustration of Washington, I just think about you.”

Watch the video. It’s only about five-and-a-half minutes.

President Obama is nothing but a man. A man who sincerely believes in what he’s doing. Who sincerely believes that what he doing is going to help the people of America. All the people.

He understands that the people helping him believe the same. And he loves them for that.

Goodbye, good riddance…

When President George W. Bush makes his final tour of European capitals next week, he can expect a less-than-fond farewell on a continent where leaders are already looking past him to his successor.

Behind the smiles and handshakes, there will be quiet relief among his European hosts who see an end to the Bush era as a chance for the next president to repair a U.S. image abroad that has been damaged by the Iraq war and other policies…

“Bush will travel in a little bubble from palace to palace,” said Joseph Cirincione, a Washington foreign policy analyst. “He’ll have welcoming ceremonies, photo ops, even some praise — and then he’ll be quickly forgotten…”

Mindful that Bush is even more unpopular across much of Europe than he is at home, the White House itself has no lofty hopes for Bush’s trip, which is expected to draw large protests in countries where anti-Bush sentiment runs highest.

No one even wants a t-shirt to remember this final tour.