IMG_2017Me in Borneo

Angry environmental activist.

Movie industry refugee.

Accidental lawyer.

I’m a jaded, cynical (yet oddly idealistic) movie industry refugee (studio/agency gatekeeper as story analyst) and second career lawyer, who loved studying the law but isn’t all that fired-up to practice it if it has to be in the usual humdrum pro-corporate, anti-environment way.  I drive an all electric Chevy Bolt (after the second of my two Nissan Leafs since 2011 was wrecked in May) and replace the electricity I use in my home with clean, renewable energy, so, yes, I do use green energy in my daily life, thank you very much, any haters.

I’m a screaming “greenie” who’s not perfect but I sure as hell try.  I try to do my own internal analysis on how my daily decision-making affects the size of my carbon footprint and the environment.  That’s more than I can say for 95% of this selfish, oblivious country.

I love my UCLA Bruins, my dogs, road trips, orangutans, elephants — and hate palm oil, the evil nature of sociopathic corporations, tea-baggers, Fox “News,” and, obviously, care far too much about certain things — like politics, the environment, and jambands like the Dead and Phish.  Hopefully, my self-deprecating humility, keen intellect, and rapier wit (!) keeps me from becoming too serious about anything…OK, fat chance of that — I’m too mad at everything and feel like a voice crying out in the wilderness!  Oh, sweet cathartic release!

Yours in rage,


P.S.  Here are the citations of the law review articles I’ve written:

“A Whale of a Tale: NRDC v. U.S. Navy and The Attempt to Exempt the Exclusive Economic Zone from the National Environmental Policy Act” published in Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas, 10 SW. J. L. & TRADE AM. 125 (Fall 2003); also

“The Kids Are Alright: Roper v. Simmons and the Juvenile Death Penalty After Atkins v. Virginia” published in the Southwestern University Law Review, 34 SWULR 25 (Fall 2004)


Dog Beach, Del Mar, CASantaluz Sunset II 2nd

Santaluz and Rancho Santa Fe, looking west toward Del Mar and Solana Beach.


33 Responses to About

  1. Stephanie says:

    I love you & what you stand for! Your writing is genius & inspiring. You even got me to stop and think about something I know little about. Please let me know how I can ever help. Can’t we get your ideas to go viral like this KONY 2012?

    Anyway…you are amazing. Hope you are enjoying this amazing weather

  2. GiRRL_Earth says:

    LOVE this. You and I must have been separated at birth – provided you were born in the 1960s. Ha!

    • Thanks for the kind comments. Yes, I’ve had a chance to check out yourblog too and it looks like we’re kindred spirits! I’m mortified by what I just saw too– this youtube video going around today of a redneck New Mexico horse meat advocate, petting what looks like a very trusting, loving pet as he says to the camera, “Hey you animal activists, fuck you,” then shoots a bullet through its head at pointblank range. While I’m still a (reluctant) meat eater (I’ve cut down my consumption greatly), this video, and the anger and sickening response it elicited in me, is almost enough to make me go vegetarian. Do yourself a favor and don’t seek this video out.


      • Denderah says:

        I wish you would become vegan. Because you are so excellent tis a pity to contaminate your essence with a poor murdered animal.

      • Hey, I come from a family of conservative Midwestern meat-and-potatoes types (though I was born/raised/lived in CA my whole life). I’m working on it, though. Baby steps first. Limiting it to only a few times a week to prove that I can do without. 🙂

  3. Denderah says:

    I saw the picture and story about the horse but I did not watch the shooting. I knew I would go over the edge.

  4. Denderah says:

    Yeah it takes awhile to get the hang of a vegan diet. Those of us vegan for many years forget that we did not become completely vegan in a blink. I come from a family of cattle ranchers! Whew!

  5. I only recently learned about the issues surrounding palm oil. Thank you so much for reporting on this!! Celeste “The Honking Vegan” – honk, honk!

  6. Dianna says:

    I love reading about both what you learn along the way in your life and the energy and determination you still have when it comes to these issues. It’s so difficult in these times not to just want to crawl under the bedsheets and weep, everything is in such sad shape. And so few people pay attention or try to significantly change their lives to help matters — that is a rarity too. So it’s a pleasure to know you are doing what you do and sharing your stories.

    A few points I want to add about palm oil. First, an oil palm lives and produces for about 30 years, so it can “sustainably” produce oil for all that time. RSPO certification is bogus on many levels, and that discussion is a mess of contradictions, but I’d like to point out that RSPO certification is allowed on any area that was planted about 5 years ago or more. So if a company cleared a forest 5 years ago, all the product from that plantation can be considered “sustainable.” And since the trees will keep producing for many more years, all oil will be classified “sustainable” for those years. There is no replenishment of resources or soil nutrients involved, as the term “sustainable” may imply.

    AND, when the tree’s life span is reached, what these monoculture farmers will find is a land that has been thoroughly depleted of nutrients and cannot handle a fresh planting of new young trees to keep this productivity up. This mad race to plant every square inch of Indonesia, Brazil, Cameroon, etc. — every available plot of rain forest they can get their hands on — is going to reveal in perhaps another 25 years how damaging and short-sighted this monoculture decision was. I predict all these areas will then be near-wastelands. Not only erosion issues and water issues will abound, but the ground itself will need to be seriously replenished before it can grow any additional crop. There will be nothing farmers can do (or sell) before that land restores itself.

    So for the next 25-30 years all of this may be deemed “sustainable” but it is nothing of the sort and all plantations remove and crowd out all other vegetation, so there is very little wildlife — not just orangutans — that can find anything to eat in any planted area. If any of these corporate machines could figure out how to plant and produce while allowing other, nourishing vegetation in the area at the same time, that would be a boon — just as some coffee growers are learning how to do in South America, to maintain a balance of nutrients in the soil and be productive in an area permanently, not just currently. The land and the longevity of the production would benefit, but as is so often the case, the immediate gain is all most people see and they are out to make a load of profit as fast as they can while the getting is good.

    At least for the next 25 years or so …

    One last point: I know a great many vegans and few of them realize that the most common butter substitute used by most vegan bakeries is a product made by Earth Balance, which contains a lot of (wait for it) palm oil. I contacted the company and they source from both Malaysia and Brazil (RSPO-certified, etc., blah-blah-blah). So watch those vegan products too. They may seem inherently healthier, but they are not necessarily without their flaws.

    Long-winded, I know, but there you have my weighty two cents : )

    • Thanks Dianna for the nice articulate thoughts!

      It bears repeating too (as my posts bear out): the RSPO is merely a greenwashing organization formed by greedy corporations (and misguided NGOs like the WWF, who actually compromised their morals on the “sustainable” label on palm oil from secondary forests), and a “sustainable” label isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Sad but true.

      But at the very least, our collective voice of outrage is getting louder and hopefully greedy corporations are starting to listen.

      Now if we can just talk some sense into the FDA’s trans fat ban — which (like Dr. Oz’s mis-pronouncement on red palm oil) may have some unintended consequences, like an increase in palm oil cultivation. I’m working with Orangutan Outreach and Rainforest Action Network contacts to make sure we get some comments in during the 60 day public comment period.

      • Dianna says:

        >RE: I’m working with Orangutan Outreach and Rainforest Action Network contacts to >make sure we get some comments in during the 60 day public comment period.

        Excellent! The only way anything will every change is if we get up and DO something, right? Bravo that you are so active and informed.

        A side note:
        About a year ago I actually saw a segment presented on one of those national morning talk shows — like the Today show — with a supposed health “expert” promoting drinking shots of straight palm oil for weight loss. Little pre-packaged shot-glass size shots in little plastic containers. It was wrong on soooo many levels … I sent two livid notes to the network but never heard back.

  7. emccsquared says:

    Hi! I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog…recently, I have been trying to find candles/warmers/companies who do not use Palm oil. I contacted Yankee candle and they refuse to tell me if they use Palm oil unless I have an allergy to it. Can we all boycott Yankee candle and also, can you recommend any candle companies?

  8. I enjoyed reading your intro so much, that I went back and read it again out-loud to my-own-self. I authentically laughed. This caused the dog to look at me with some seriousness as if he wondered why, but he didn’t choose to verbalize his question (this time). Thanks for your honest writing. I will drop by soon and read more. ~ Gerean (The Animal Spirits)

  9. Champanzee says:

    Your site is great. I understand your anger, but be careful not to inhibit conversation with it. Your posts are pretty objective, but the “about me” page might cause people to ignore you if they detect the slightest bit of narcissism or moral superiority. Tone is often hard to decipher in text. The key to stopping palm oil destruction lies with facilitating conversation. Because the big wigs often refuse to talk or listen, it’s up to us to promote awareness and action to the general public, many of whom will reject your ideas of saving the planet if those ideas are presented in a threatening fashion.

    Little about me: UGA grad, current law student, and I place little value on things in abundance, like humans and domesticated animals. Things in scarcity I place more value, like endangered animals and their habitats. Seems economic to me.
    My favorite ice cream is Mayfield Moose Tracks, but I haven’t eaten it in five years due to my palm oil boycott.

    • Great feedback to consider. Thanks! But according to the stats, a huge percentage of traffic never gets to this “About” page.

      Hope you are at least tolerating law school, though I loved it. Go Dogs! ( And I boycott any Ben and Jerry’s that contain palm oil — and let them know it!)

      • Champanzee says:

        I did contact Mayfield. I got stonewalled. It’s incredibly frustrating. I can’t even get friends and family to listen to me. I’m sure I’m articulate enough and I’m sure I can explain the cause and effect relationship of their thoughtless consumption of certain goods and the atrocities thousands of miles away, but nobody seems to care enough to take action (or inaction, since that’s what a boycott is). At times I think shock value is the only way to galvanize.

        Any suggestions on how I can actively make a change?

      • Btw, my blog isn’t really meant to be objective. If you’ve read many posts it’s got a definite point of view. I make no apologies for my strong environmental inclinations. 🙂

      • dianna says:

        Nor should you!!! I appreciate all your viewpoints and research, so thank you.

  10. I ask myself that weekly. I even volunteered to some acquaintances I know on the ground in Indonesia who are fighting the good fight everyday if I could go over and help fight the horrible fires there. I try to do what I can, keep telling people about the evils of palm oil — for the environment, animals, people — and I feel good when an occasional Facebook friend says they now read labels and boycott because of me. People I never thought would even care seemingly do. (I’m convinced that overworked moms in SUVs would really care if they just knew how their purchasing practices are literally harming the environment for their children and grandchildren.) I also do pro bono work for Orangutan Outreach. I’ve structured my legal career to do short (well-paying) assignments to give me time to go to travel to Southeast Asia if I can. I joined Rainforest Action Network’s Palm Oil Action Team and took part in commando raids to slap “Palm Oil Causes Extinction” stickers on Oreo cookie, Nutella and other packages in supermarkets. I do what I can — and part of that was moving to the Bay Area where I can hopefully really become even more active in environmental causes. Someday I want to start my own NGO to save orangutans. Give me your email and we can keep in contact, fellow law person. 🙂 And keep on Mayfield. The squeaky wheel and all that…

  11. Brian Young says:

    Your from California, I figured as much. I think Ca. is an entirely different planet made up of people that have they’re self righteous head up they’re asses. The Californian, environmentalist, vegan type groupies feel compelled to judge the world based on they’re own parameters and don’t consider that many of the “causes” they argue against sustain the lives of millions of people. I find your article on oil palms wickedly insensitive to the people that depend on that oil and those jobs. Grow the hell up and get off your idealist train. You don’t even live in those counties and certainly don’t contribute to them in any way. You live in Ca…plush.

    • Wow, I guess people from CA can’t have opinions — that are shared by many indigenous communities on the ground in Indonesia. You say “millions of people” sustain their lives via palm oil? You are flatly wrong. While there are many small farmers who do depend on palm oil as their only means to support their small farms, it’s the large corporations (like Cargill, etc.), who willingly turn a blind eye to the illegal slash and burn tactics used by their contractor-farmers on the ground. Virtually all of last fall’s conflagration of slash and burn fires and smoke was from ILLEGAL FARMING.

      I will tell you what affects BILLIONS of people, though, Brian: The worldwide demand for palm oil, which is:

      1. Deforesting the last “lungs of the planet,” which affects us all.
      2. Destroying the habitat of critically endangered species, like the orangutan, a Great Ape that is protected in Indonesia despite their death;
      3. Displacing hundreds of tribes of indigenous peoples — the VERY PEOPLE you claim to care about;
      4. Enslaving thousands of the poor in atrocious palm oil plantation working conditions — also the VERY PEOPLE you claim to care about — who are enduring human rights abuses daily;
      5. Exacerbating global warming — which affects every last man, woman and child on this planet.

      Get off my high horse? How about you get your own head out of your own prodigious ass and get a grip. We CANNOT continue on the same course. Indonesia knows it. The EU knows it. The West knows it. Even parts of Asia and India know it. The only people who don’t care are the corrupt local politicos and police on the ground in Indonesia who are too deep into bribery to stop the ILLEGAL burning of land, etc.

      Educate yourself before you pop off.

  12. Colm says:

    Hello fellow Leafer, (that was a nice surprise!)

    I was thrilled to finally find someone else that’s been stickering to raise awareness of important issues. (I think stickers are very under-valued.) I’ve been wanting to sticker products containing palm oil for a while but hadn’t found an organisation willing to have their website on the stickers.

    I’d like to get hold of a palm oil sticker image so I can print my own off. Please get in touch when you get the chance.

    Keep up the good work!

  13. veroveenyc says:

    Just wanted to let you know I visit your blog all the time. Have tried for some time now (since my 2010 honeymoon in Indonesia opened my eyes) to avoid products with palm oil in them- its so hard but you make it a little easier. I also want products that don’t test on animals (or test their ingredients on animals), but they are a little easier to find and I can at least look for the little leaping bunny on the packaging…. Last year, my husband and I took a 3 week trip to Malaysian Borneo, where we saw orangutans and elephants. Such a blessing. But whenever we traveled from one town to another we passed trucks loaded down with palms, and plantation after plantation. It was depressing. I try to spread the word to coworkers and friends, but they don’t seem to care much. Hell I can barely get my texan family to recycle! It’s infuriating. But at least my husband is on board and has agreed to avoid the girl scout cookies he loves. Thanks for everything you do. Please let me know how I can get more involved.
    stay strong
    Brooklyn, NY

  14. mariahjadec says:

    I was wondering if I could use a picture that I found on your website on my website? We are against using palm oil as well as much as possible. We make our organic soap from local lard from sustainable family farms (as it is a “waste” product) instead of palm oil… our website is http://www.perma-earth.com. I am currently updating all of my information on there and found an awesome picture from your website on google search that I would like to use, and I would of course credit your website as the source!

  15. Well,being of the same values and often IGing about products not using RSPO palm oil,now Im taken aback that I cannot trust that claim. And after “enjoying” my addiction to Smart Balance I have to relinquish. I have a very critical subconscious mind in a world where so few care about the consequences of what we are doing to ourselves and each other,and I am angered that corporations are so irresponsible. The companies NEVER HAVE A MORATORIUM ON PRODUCTION…THERE IS NO Astringent Quality Supply Chain check…AND the sustainability of FAIR PAY for work in foreign countries is hideous…So many “1st world countries” are ok with “cheap”. China kills white collar criminals,but overproduces crap that sucks up oil resources to make cheap plastic. The slashing and burning shouldnt even be happening in Indonesia,my mother’s country. Do they not have pride? People there cannot get a job past the age of 50! Why arent they all doing permaculuture like at the kulkulfarm in Bali and teaching bamboo growing/farming. America should be ashamed for all the is imported. Consumeritis is a damn disease…we all have so much disposabke income and dont discern the quality of what we buy…Im just as guilty…I know we all must be taught to have higher expectations. Its starts from the top. Those higher ups have to be a part of the process and stop looking at a computer screen at some fucking numbers. They can change lives by giving a damn about their supply chain!

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