Category Archives: Op-Ed: Opinion & Commentary

Self-Reliance Revisited: Why Does the Slave Embrace His Chains?

Having explored the downsides of bucket lists in an earlier article and then waded into the murky waters of device-driven commercial media last week, Farwell now turns his attention to the devices themselves—and to the effect they’re having on how we experience our world. Do you think this doesn’t have anything to do with canoeing? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. That’s Farwell’s notion, anyway. Why not see what you think?

by Farwell Forrest | February 16, 2018

I don’t suppose that anyone reads Emerson anymore. I know I don’t. No, that’s not true. I didn’t. But I do now. And only now do I realize what I’ve been missing. My belated foray into the thickets of Transcendentalist literature began prosaically enough. I was chasing down the source of a quote I’d seen in The Complete Walker, and the search took me to one of Emerson’s most celebrated essays: “Self-Reliance.” I found the quote I was seeking in short order, but I also found a lot more—an exhaustive, eye-opening discourse on the worm … Continue reading »

Devices and Desires: Have I Got a Tweet for You!

Last week Farwell promised he’d take a closer look at devices — the smartphones and tablets that have become essential props in our day‑to‑day lives, on and off the water. Are they really the “fetters on free spirits” that he suggested? Or has he got it wrong? Read his latest column and see what you think. But be warned: This is much longer than your typical tweet.

by Farwell Forrest | February 9, 2018

Not too long ago, in another place, I had occasion to mention a book with an unlikely title: The Man Who Loved Bicycles. It was written by Daniel Behrman, and yes, I did more than “mention” it.] I praised it to the skies — like the author was my dead brother, to borrow a line from Stewart Pearson. I also tried to explain why a book about one man’s love of bicycles might interest canoeists. I may or may not have succeeded in this endeavor, but I didn’t see any harm in trying. In any case, I hadn’t been paid to … Continue reading »

A Declaration of Independence: Kicking the Bucket List

As flash mobs assemble on lonely summits and “binge hiking” enters the working newshound’s vocabulary, it’s time to take a closer look at the bucket list. Is it a benign phenomenon, just the latest New Big Thing to engage the attention of a networked nation desperately seeking diversion? Or is it something else — a final breach in the last wall protecting wild places, say? Farwell opts for the latter alternative. And today he makes his case.

by Farwell Forrest | January 26, 2018

Experts are springing up everywhere we turn today, like thistles in an overgrazed field. Yet who would dare complain? In our increasingly complex and interconnected world, expertise is sorely needed. Still, for those of us who aren’t experts — and that’s most of us, I suppose — it’s easy to become confused, particularly when so many of the experts offer contradictory advice.

The upshot? It soon becomes painfully obvious that no single expert has a monopoly on truth. This isn’t to say that there’s no such thing as consensus, of course. The subject of global warming … Continue reading »

What Good is a Dead Tree? by Tamia Nelson

The Others have an answer to the question in the title. But is anyone listening? Tamia is.

The Expert looked at his watch, and gave his companion a thumbs-up. The job wouldn’t take long. A flight of finches exploding into the air. Neither man noticed. The Expert eyeballed the old pine. He didn’t see the red squirrel clinging to the trunk. He saw only the brown needles and the bare limbs.

“What good is a dead tree?” the Expert asked, not expecting an answer. His companion knew the question was purely rhetorical. And he marked the pine for removal.

The two men thought they were alone. But they were wrong. And the Others who were present did their best to answer the Expert’s question. He wasn’t listening, though. Perhaps he never had. In any case, his companion was anxious to get going. Time is money, after all, and the Expert had more trees to condemn.

Yet the dissenting voices of the Others continued to make their case, long after the Expert had gone. It’s too … Continue reading »