1. Why we should pay attention to the BART board
2. More damning information on the Central Subway
3. Imaginative visioning of the flora and fauna of Califonia landscapes before European contact and long before that, over millennia of change
4. Butterflies of San Francisco with Liam O'Brien October 25
5. Native plant sales in Fulton and Oakland
6. Gardening for wildlife at Campbell Library TONIGHT
7. Salmon Protection & Watershed Network doings October 24 and 25
8. Performance arts in San Francisco October 23
9. More voices in opposition to Prop 26
10. Candlestick Point SRA's Preferred Park Plan Nov 3
11. Feedback: Dark Skies, LEDs, daily newspapers vs internet/bloggers
12. Environmental Futures 2010-11 Environmental Education Contest
13. Environmental writers: Submit short stories/poetry for contest
14. News from The Watershed Nursery newsletter
15. Book reviews, in brief
16. Full Moon walk Friday 22
17. There's a lot to be said for shunning famous landscapes and seeking out the less known and less well-traveled
18. Scientific American: When small numbers lead to big errors/cholesterol drugs and memory
19. People don't just think different things, they know different things....and they're wrong/LTEs
20. Gilbert & Sullivan's deft political touch
21. Cookies that cannot be killed
22. Feinstein opposes casino in Richmond
23. Connecting children with nature - reaching out to health care professionals
24. Mexico building a wall between it and Guatemala/Democrats finally getting immigration message
25. Protest with tongue in cheek, one corporation at a time
26. Overused words in journalism: some stats
1. At my farmers' market I ran into a candidate for the BART board, Bill Hill. The BART board is a subject outside my world, so I asked him why he was running and what he thought wrong in current BART operations or plans. In the short time available he explained what was uppermost on his mind:
(Here is the gist of the conversation, which contains my editorial comments): The board is planning to extend the line from Pittsburg [Brentwood?] out into the Delta country. This is predicated on--"when the economy picks up"--resuming the spread of Slurbia, like a bacterial slime on into the Central Valley and down the Valley. [Additional detail: At Brentwood you would have to get off the electricity-powered train and get onto a diesel-powered train.] Bill Hill thinks this is unrealistic, as the real estate market will never come back and continue its sprawl, a statement that I find unarguable. What is the BART board thinking? Perhaps you can ask other board candidates about this vital question. Hint: Senators Feinstein, Boxer, Speaker Pelosi, Gavin Newsom are supporting his opponent. It isn't often we are offered a choice. Here is a choice.)
P.S. Bill Hill is endorsed by Livable City's Tom Radulovich, long-time member of the BART board. In my eyes this endorsement carries weight, unlike that of the Democratic establishment. JS
2. Save Muni.com
PUBLIC TRANSIT: KOOL-AID OR CHAMPAGNE?
San Franciscans once revolted against omnipresent freeways, a filled-in Bay, elimination of cable cars, a bridge from Telegraph Hill to Angel Island.... Now, another flawed idea, the Central Subway, is triggering a chain reaction of adverse outcomes---much less threats to disconnect public transit from the entire Market Street Corridor. As in the past, San Franciscans must demand sensible planning.
MTA may incur bond indebtedness to finance Central Subway.
MTA needs help on what the FTA has deemed a "high risk project".
Many other cities are revolutionizing their public transit quickly---at low costs.
Muni meltdowns have and will become increasingly common.
Deferred transit investments are a higher priority and warrant immediate help.
Go to SaveMuni.com: "How you can help".
3. From Bill McClung:
I am reading a wonderful and beautiful new book just published by Heyday Press, A STATE OF CHANGE: FORGOTTEN LANDSCAPES OF CALIFORNIA, text and art by Laura Cunningham. It is an imaginative visioning of the flora and fauna of Califonia landscapes before European contact and long before that, over millennia of change.
The author grew up in the East Bay, studied paleontology and biology at Berkeley, and has wide experience as a field biologist. She is also an appealing writer and artist. For those of us interested in the cultural and natural landscapes around us, this is a book of great value and pleasure.
4. ::::: We invite you to "Butterflies of San Francisco" presented by lepidopterist Liam O'Brien at the Sunset Public Library :::::
Everyone knows that butterflies visit flowers. They are generalists when it comes to nectar food sources, but have you ever heard of a "host plant"? For the most part, the host plant is where the female butterfly lays her eggs. Butterflies are very specific when it comes to choosing a plant to lay her eggs. Liam O'Brien, lepidopterist with Nature in the City, will be leading the evening's discussion about the butterflies of San Francisco, based on an extensive butterfly survey he gave SF county in 2007 and 2009.
The focus of this talk will be for gardeners to make this important connection between butterflies and host plants, and what we can do to help these female butterflies carry on their fragile life cycle within our beautiful city.
What: "Butterflies of San Francisco"- Special talk by lepidopterist Liam O'Brien
When: Monday, October 25th, 7pm - 8:30pm
Where: Sunset Branch Public Library, 1305 18th Avenue San Francisco
As an opportunity to aid these charismatic beings, Nature in the City will be providing free seed packets with seeds of the important host and nectar plants for the threatened Green Hairstreak butterfly. For more information on the event, please contact Nature in the Cty at (415) 564-4107
> California Flora Nursery in Fulton is having a year end sale where all nursery stock will be 30% off. This sale is just for retail customers and does not apply to landscape professionals who receive wholesale prices. It begins October 18 and runs through the 31st.
The Friends of Sausal Creek (FOSC) will hold its fall Native Plant Sale on *Sunday, October 24*, *10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.* at the Joaquin Miller Park Native Plant Nursery. Attached please find a flyer so you can help us spread the word! The flyer can also be downloaded at http://www.sausalcreek.org/pdf/FOSC_Plant-Sale_2010.pdf .
Native plant experts will be available all day to help shoppers pick appropriate plants for their specific planting areas. This year’s plant sale will feature workshops and live music throughout the day to celebrate completion of the nursery’s expanded shady propagation and growing area and new teaching circle.
11:00 Native Bees and Your Garden with Jennifer Smith
12:00 Native Bird Connections: Live Owls and Raptors of the Watershed!
12:30 Gardening with Native Plants
1:00 Keeping Urban Chickens with Thomas Kriese
1:30 Growing and Propagating Native Plants with Karen Paulsell
There will also be tables to visit, including Alameda County Master Gardeners to answer your gardening questions and “The Spider Chick” Linda Erickson with awesome live arachnids, plus face painting for the kids. Live music will be provided by Harlan James Bluegrass Band and Juke Joint Johnny. This year’s sale is an event not to be missed! Bring your family, neighbors, and friends...and, if possible, a cardboard box to get your plants safely home with you.
For more information, please visit http://www.sausalcreek.org/plantsale.html , email firstname.lastname@example.org , or call (510) 501-3672.
To volunteer to help before or during the sale, contact email@example.com or call (510) 325-9006.
The nursery is located in Joaquin Miller Park on Sanborn Road. From Highway 13, go east on Joaquin Miller Road. Turn left on Sanborn and park near the community center. Follow signs to the nursery, about 1/4 mile.
Topic: Gardening for Wildlife
Speaker: Kevin Bryant
Date: Thursday, October 21, 7-8:30 PM
Venue: Campbell Library, 77 Harrison Ave, Campbell
Cost: Free admission
Info: www.santaclaracountylib.org/campbell • 408.866.1991
www.cnps-scv.org • 650.260.3450
Want to attract birds and butterflies and beneficial insects to your garden? Native plants provide unmatched habitat value for native wildlife because they have coevolved for thousands of years and adapted to each other. Many are beautiful and garden-worthy. Kevin Bryant is the President of the California Native Plant Society’s Santa Clara Valley Chapter and a landscape designer.
7. SPAWN--The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network
Friday 10 / 22 / 2010 - Native Plant Nursery Workdays in Lagunitas
Join us from 10am - 1pm for Volunteer Workdays in SPAWN's native plant nursery, where we grow valuable native plants for restoration! Visit http://www.spawnusa.org/upcomingevents/number-48 for details!
Saturday & Sunday 10/23 - 10/24 - Creek Naturalist Docent Training
Become a valuable member of our team of Naturalists and lead Creekwalks for the public to view endangered Coho Salmon! No experience necessary, please visit http://www.spawnusa.org/upcomingevents/number-45 for details and to sign up!
8. Day-long performance Saturday 23 October
Oakland-based artist Jeremiah Jenkins is best known for his knack for juxtaposing seemingly impossible materials and ideas and producing new meaning often with biting humor and efficiency. For the show at LiVE WORK, he will be doing a performance entitled The Psychology of Shooting. Jeremiah will be shooting a series of targets while undergoing therapy, marking the trajectory of his mind and emotions with his marksmanship. It promises to be an afternoon of fascinating exploration of the relationship between markmaking, marksmanship and the artist’s mental state.
San Francisco-based artist Amber Hasselbring’s project will be the first in a series heralded The Beesniks. Others to follow will be announced as the thoughts and collaborations develop. These projects will try to address the complexity of socio-ecological issues and will develop over time at LiVE WORK. Amber’s project begins with a performance on October 23rd, the day of the full moon, when she will create habitat for wild bees in LiVE WORK‘s outdoor courtyard. In the coming year, she will be doing episodic presentations in coordination with the phases of the moon to investigate how lunar cycles affect living organisms.
Amber’s performance will take place from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, October 23, during which time she will be interacting with visitors. Jeremiah’s performance starts at 3:45pm on the same day. Both events are free to the public.
LiVE WORK project space promotes experimental works in the areas of performance, live events, theatrical works, situational interventions, and other time-based works. It is particularly interested in works that do not yet have a clean category and challenge the established practices. It creates an environment that fosters creativity by emphasizing the process. It also provides mini-residencies (with a kitchen and a bedroom) to support special works that require the artist to be on site for a period of time. LiVE WORK is located at 1606 12th Ave #3, San Francisco, CA 94122.
9. MORE VOICES JOIN THE CHORUS OF OPPOSITION TO PROP 26
Recently, two Bay Area newspapers have come out opposed to Proposition 26, the Polluter Protection Initiative on the November ballot, and have detailed the economic and environmental implications the passage of Proposition 26 would have on California. Currently, a majority vote by the State Legislature or a local government agency is required to impose a mitigation fee on a business or industry that causes harm to public health or the environment. Proposition 26 aims to make it nearly impossible for the state to collect these fees and hold polluters responsible for their pollution by classifying these fees as taxes, making them subject to a 2/3rds vote. Should this initiative pass on Election Day, some of California's biggest polluters will no longer have to pay to clean up their messes.
The editorials, released by the Contra Costa Times and the Oakland Tribune, readdress what the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has been saying since it submitted its review of Prop 26 on July 15th. According to the LAO, the state has collected important regulatory fees that, under the proposition, could be reassessed as taxes, making it much harder for them to be approved. For example, fees on oil manufacturers, businesses that "treat, dispose of, or recycle hazardous waste", as well as fees imposed on alcohol retailers, which all go towards positive programs that focus on education, recycling, clean up and abatement, and investments in new environmental technologies, could be lost. Passage of prop 26 also puts Assembly Bill 32, California's landmark global warming law, in jeopardy since a key part of that program is setting a price on carbon.
Furthermore, passage of Prop 26 would make it difficult for the state to collect revenue to clean up pollution and mitigate negative health impacts; meaning California would have to find some other way to finance these important efforts. With an already over-tapped state budget, that task is more than daunting.
Candlestick Point State Recreation Area Public Workshop
The Preferred Park Plan
Alex Pitcher Room, 1800 Oakdale
November 3, from 5:30 -7:30
Elkhorn (re dark skies):
> Jake -Take a look at the attached NASA photo from the late 1990s, I think (don't hold me to it, though)...
> And you want to know why our street lights are too Fcuking bright, and just destroy our view of the stars? Other than the pervasive fog in the outer Richmond (which I love), on clear nights I just can't see many stars. I have to go to the desert to see what's really up there.
Here's the URL for this picture: http://earthatnight.org/
As Elkhorn says, this is dated, and you can bet there's more light now. I found spending time looking at some areas in detail to be interesting; eg, Siberia--predominantly dark, as expected, but an almost continuous string of lights along the transcontinental railroad. Fortunately, Tibet and Mongolia are still predominantly dark, but the Chinese govt is assiduously working to change that, with the help of western tourists.
The north coast of Norway and adjacent Russia is also very light, for reasons not clear to me. (Oil drilling?) Africa still has much darkness, with expected bright spots. Perhaps here is where civilization has its best chance of surviving; they will still have some contact with the earth.
>> Jake, You don't have to put this in your newsletter, but: those LEDs hurt my eyes. Shielded or otherwise, blue light or white. They hurt. It isn't just the streetlights that hurt. It is the headlights on the cars at night and the ones in our own lamps in the bedroom. All truly hurt. I am glad that there is some thought about circadian rhythms and occasional pain. The fact that SF wants to use them in streetlights would make me move out of the city if I lived there.
> 3. More information on San Francisco's LED streetlight proposal - I wonder whether we'll regret this
I don't know about the effects of LEDs specifically, but bright light in general bothers me increasingly as I get older. It is disorienting. As I write this, I see the current issue of The Economist has an article entitled "Does light make you fat?" I haven't read it yet.
> Other headlights, streetlights and lights in rooms, etc. are not disturbing to me. It is the blue LEDs.
Oh, you mean those obnoxious silver-blue headlights are LEDs? I hate them. Why do they exist?
> I believe so. I looked at them in an auto parts store. They are "stronger" than the regular ones. I am not sure they are LEDs but they do the same thing if they aren't.
> Jake - I pinged a friend of mine who is in the LED business re: the LED streetlight discussion. His comment below (highlights and underlines are mine) means to me that the technical designers can deliver whatever is wanted but those that are spec'ing the lights (the municipalities, etc) need to make up their minds about light pollution. On the surface, most people would respond that they LIKE the idea of brighter (i.e. "safer") lights that use far less energy than current street lights. Many do not understand the downside of light pollution but, I hope, would care if they understood it. Certainly those in a position to make these decisions, and spec new lights, ARE aware of these issues, no?
> Again, thanks for what you do here. It's much appreciated...
> (This from Paul Kallmes): Kevin, Thanks for this. In response to:
> this technical information is likely to leave people unmotivated to do anything. And is there anything that can be done now? It sounds like it may be a done deal. Not so?
> I can only say that there are some people who are motivated to do something. We have planned all along to put out an LED streetlight with color temps as low or as high as anyone wants. That's the beauty of an LED - you can pick and choose from a whole range of color temps and even install them inside the same fixture to make the color temp adjustable.
Thank you, Kevin. This sounds very interesting and I'll pass along to newsletter readers. I have no time to pursue all these subject, especially those of a technical nature like this, but I hope that someone will. As to "those in a position to make these decisions ARE aware of these issues, no?" Perhaps, but I've been around much too long to take that for granted. We the people need to let them know. As you said, most people like the brighter (ie "safer") lights that use less energy. They may not yet have gotten around to the dark sky issue. After all, most of them haven't seen a dark sky, nor are they aware of what they are missing out on --the grandeur and beauty of our galactic neighhorhood--in this vital quality-of-life, even survival, issue. Thanks for your help.
(READERS NOTE: Someone sent me an article from the International Dark Sky Assn entitled Seeing Blue, as an attachment. It is not long, but with easy-to-understand charts and graphs it is too long to include here. I will forward on request, or you can probably find it on the internet. Start with International Dark Sky Assn.)
On Oct 11, 2010, Robin Chiang wrote:
> That is because the population of the world is too big and therefore unsustainable. That has very little to do with immigration. If the world had only 1 billion people I don't think David Brower would complain about immigration. Do you?
No, Robin, I can assure you that neither David Brower nor I would complain about immigration in that case, and we could then relax about the world and not worry about all the numbers of people; let everyone go where they want--open borders. I thought that was pretty clear in what I have been saying.
But there aren't one billion, there are almost 7 billion, and growing alarmingly, and it is destroying everything I value. My stand on immigration (and by that, I mean primarily immigration into this country, where most people want to go) is based on the fact that this is the only piece of land and water that we have any hope of control over. Other countries have problems, but we don't have anything to say there. This country is way over-populated and we should try, first, to stabilize population size, then set to work to reduce. We can't stop the growth of numbers here if we don't get some control on immigration. The number of people born in this country approximately equals the number dying; our increase is mostly accounted for by immigration. And, of course, try to stop this crazed economic system that encourages wild and needless overconsumption, which vastly intensifies--nay, is an even bigger destructive factor--the damage being done to our land.
(Added note: It's not quite true that we can't do anything about the world numbers. The number of people who don't want additional children but have them anyway probably numbers in the hundreds of millions. Family planning services are not available to them. The under-funded United Nations Family Planning Assistance provides the help it can with its limited resources. Successive Republican administrations, starting with Reagan, have denied any U.S. funds to UNFPA. Preternaturally stupid.)
> Dear Jake, How dare you quote from Leonard Downie? He has no journalistic credibility with me and he should not with anybody else. He was executive editor of the Washington Post during the runup to the Iraq War. Instead of using his position to ask probing questions of Bush, Cheney, Powell and the rest of the cabal that railroaded us into an unnecessary, expensive, and destructive war, he directed the Post to be a cheerleader for the lies and deception about "weapons of mass destruction" and the "imminent threat that Iraq posed" coming out of our so-called leaders at the time.
> It was also while Downie was executive editor that the reporting of the recount of the Florida 2000 vote happened. That was the recount that was stopped by the Supreme Court so that the conservative majority could select Bush to be President. A recount study happened in 2001 and was sponsored by a consortium of newspapers, including the Washtington Post, to see who would have won if all the votes had been counted. The headlines of the story in the Post about the count on Novewmber 12, 2001 said, "Florida Recounts Woiuld Have Favored Bush." However, the reality is that if all the votes had been counted Gore would have won. Here are two links about that recount:
> 1. A summary about the 2001 recount study of the 2000 Florida Presidential vote: http://www.consortiumnews.com/2001/111201a.html
> 2. The Washington Post story on the 2001 recount: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12623-2001Nov11.html
> My point is that Downie presided over a time when the Washington Post became an outlet primarily for printing government propaganda. If I did some real research of the time that Downie was in charge, I could come up with dozens of similar stories. I will take Arianna Huffington as a source over Leonard Downie every time.
Chris: You have supplied information about Leonard Downie and The Washington Post that I didn't know, and I share your outrage about his and the Post's behavior on this matter.
However, the thrust of the article is that investigative reporting is becoming a thing of the past, something that should be of concern to you. I would agree that Downie is a flawed messenger, but it pays to not let that keep you from listening to the message. What he is inveighing against is a deeply serious matter and not to be casually dismissed. Some of our best newspapers--yes, the Washington Post must be on the short list, along with the equally-flawed New York Times--have turned up some very important information that a free society must have. If challenged I could come up with a few blockbuster examples. (But please don't challenge me; I have no time. However you must be aware of some of them--in the Vietnam war [Pentagon Papers/Ellsberg], the Gulf War, and the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures.) The stories they did caused extreme discomfort with the administrations of Nixon and the two Bushes, to name just a few. A free society cannot do without this. Our country was founded on distrust of power, and enormous power exists in Washington, no matter which party is in power. In fact, much of the power is in the hands of others than our elected representatives.
Without this hard work, who is going to turn up scandals and corruption? Not likely the blogosphere. Bloggers are ready to poke sticks in the eyes of the powerful, but without the deep research--which the blogosphere has never been credited with--they will be ineffectual. That is what Downie meant by 'parasites', and he is correct.
> I absolutely agree with what you are saying about the death of investigative reporting. However, the establishment papers, such as the Post and the Times, have distinguished themselve in the last two decades primarily by becoming stenographers for the White House and/or regurgitating Republican talking points as truth. Another example is that in 2004 a professional interpreter of photos for NASA went on record saying that Bush had a radio receiver under his suitcoat in the debates with John Kerry but the mainstream press did not run the story. Here is a link: http://www.thewe.cc/contents/more/archive2004/november/nasa_scientist_shows_bush_wired_in_debate.htm
> There absolutely needs to be some source of news that is not tainted by corporate money as the Post and Times are, and with the bucks for doing serious investigation. I would start with giving NPR and public television a secure source of funding and a system of governance that cannot be monkeyed with by rightwing politicians. They, too, have been corrupted by the rightwing drift of our politics.
> Also, before you sing the glories of mainstream daily newspapers, check out "Into the Buzzsaw," an anthology of essays by investigative reporters whose stories were in some way deep-sixed by their media employer. There are 19 stories altogether. But don't take my word for it. Here is a link to what reader reviewers say at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Into-Buzzsaw-Leading-Journalists-Expose/product-reviews/1591022304/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending
> I am heartened by the growth nonprofit online sources of news. Does not take up the slack by the slow decline of daily newspapers. You are right in that sense. I am not sure what the answer is but I know it will not come from Leonard Downie, the Washington Post, or most of the mainstream media.
> Finally, remember that TPM, http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/, did the background work about the political firing of US Attorneys by the Bush Administration when they would not go after Democratic politicians with phony charges to sideline political opponents. That is the most spectacular example of a blog doing investigative work. I don't know of others but I suspect if I did some research, I could come up with others.
Me, sing the glories of mainstream daily newspapers? That'll be the day.
Joel Pomerantz (re E Clampus Vitus):
> Thanks so much Jake. I'm slowly getting an idea of these oddballs and how I might approach them. Meanwhile, I'm discovering so much about the storm and flood of 1862. I've begun blogging about my research on http://thinkwalks.org
12. ENVIRONMENTAL FUTURES 2010-2011 Environmental Education Contest
Purpose - To encourage environmental education outside of science classrooms and to create environmentally literate adults.
Any SF Unified School District middle and high school teacher that does not teach science may participate. Content standards already mandate some environmental education in science classrooms.
Teachers are encouraged to incorporate environmental topics into their everyday lessons in any subject but science. The concepts should be worked into and supportive of regular class content. In-class lessons, speakers, films, on-line research, and any other means of teaching or obtaining information are all encouraged. Connecting your lesson to a field trip, hands-on learning opportunity, or stewardship project is also a great idea.
You can find a list of curriculum links in the “Green Schools” section of the SFUSD sustainability website. But feel free to be creative as you seek exciting ways to integrate environmental education into your regular lessons. Mix and match ideas to come up with something powerful and unique.
The primary evaluation criterion is the extent to which environmental information is obtained by students. After receiving proposals and reviewing submitted teaching plans, judges will narrow down the field to 5-10 finalists. Judges will then visit on the day of the lesson to observe the degree to which students are engaged by the topic. Winners will be chosen after teachers submit a final writeup that includes students work. Detailed judging criteria are available on the proposal form.
The winning teacher will receive $2,000 and the runner-up will get $1000. Finalists will also be commended by the SFUSD School Board.
Deadline: January 15, 2011
Please fill out the proposal form and email it to Nik Kaestner, SFUSD Director of Sustainability.
13. Environmental writers are encouraged to send their short stories and poetry to the Soul-Making Environmental Futures Literary Contest, c/o (www.soulmakingcontest.us). Prizes of $100, $50 and $25, plus publicity. Any environmental subject will do. Jim LeCuyer, Judge.
Deadline: November 30, 2010 (Postmarked)
All prose works must be typed, double spaced, page numbered, and paper clipped. Please indicate word count on title page.
Poetry must be typed, (double or single spaced okay). One page poems only and only one poem per page, (two-column one-page-poems okay). All poems must be titled.
Do not put your names on your manuscripts, instead, enclose one 3x5 card typed, affixed with a printed label or carefully printed with your name, address, phone, fax, email, and title(s) of work(s) indicating it is for the Environmental Futures category.
Category must be indicated on 3x5 card as well as on manuscript. You may enter as many times as you wish.
Previously published works okay; however, those winning awards in prior Soul-Making categories may not be resubmitted.
No tear-sheets or photocopies of book pages. No colored paper, hard to read fancy fonts, illustrations or graphics, please.
No mss will be returned; no substitutions or revisions of work will be accepted after initial submission.
Please enclose $5 per entry payable to NLAPW, Nob Hill Branch. US $ only. International entrants please send Travelers Check drawn on a USA bank
Send entries to:
The Webhallow House
1544 Sweetwood Dr.,
Broadmoor Vlg., CA 94015-1717
No e-mail entries or those mailed special delivery, certified or registered will be accepted. Do enclose SASE in your entry package if you wish to receive contest results.
14. The Watershed Nursery newsletter: Click to view this email in a browser
Nature's Soap and Water
Wetlands Prevent Spread of Disease
Anyone who lives near the Bay or walks along the shoreline knows the land and water share a constant connection of give and take. Sediment flows from the mountains, through the marsh, into the Bay. Meanwhile, salmon go exactly the opposite direction, bringing a little of the open ocean into Sierra foothills. What is the role of wetlands in this pattern? Read more
What's in Your Watershed?
The Vibrant Bay Checkerspot Butterfly
It's autumn in the Bay Area and this native butterfly is wearing all the right colors. Bay Checkerspots, of brush-footed butterfly descent, boast two-inch black wingspans dotted bright red, yellow and white. Read More
Hercules to Rescue Wetlands
The Bay Area City Undertakes Large-scale Restoration Projects
The dynamic City of Hercules is doing its part to restore what has been lost. This East Bay city is currently engaged in trying to restore the 12-acre Chelsea parcel, located near the mouth of Pinole Creek where it meets San Pablo Bay, to tidal marsh. The project site is adjacent to the Chelsea by the Bay and Hercules by the Bay communities. Read More
15. Book reviews, in brief
Taking Back Eden, by Oliver A. Houck
Mr Houck, a law professor at Tulane and a much-revered figure in environmental law, has written a riveting, engaging, sometimes amusing examination of "Eight environmental cases that changed the world." He starts at Storm King Mountain on the Hudson River in New York, where conservationists and fishermen first opened the courthouse door to a public wanting to protect its river. He then recounts the spread of this litigation to Japan, the Philippines, Canada, Russia and elsewhere. Fascinating and beautifully done.
The Routes of Man by Ted Conover
When I was writing Roadless Rules (about the battle over roads in wild national forests) I tried to get in some thoughts about the idea of roads, their place in human history, their role in the development of civilization. Now Ted Conover has written a whole book on the subject. I especially like the coy title. Conover concentrates on six roads scattered across the world and spins a fascinating meditation on them. Highly recommended.
The Polluters by Benjamin Ross & Steven Amter
DDT, asbestos, chlorinated solvents, leaded gasoline. These chemical ghosts of the past have long been outlawed in the U.S., yet their toxic legacy, and many of the polluting companies that created them, remain. In The Polluters, the authors trace our current state of weak chemical regulations and mass pollution back to the early 1900s when the chemical industry first began strong-arming politicians through economic and political pressure to ensure profits would always rank above public health concerns. A century later, the chemical names have changed, but not the polluting industries' tactics: slanting research, burying unwelcome scientific discoveries and putting industry-friendly experts in positions of power. Buyer beware.
The Weather of the Future by Heidi Cullen
Notes climatologist and journalist Heidi Cullen asks a disturbing question. If humanity does nothing to reverse global warming, what will happen to our weather? Looking at seven regions of the world, Cullen forecasts massive disruptions in the form of fires, drought, flooding, and biological shift. By 2019, chaotic weather defies meteorological models. By 2032, cargo ships from Yokohama to New York hum across the ice-free Arctic; Godthab, Greenland has become a thriving world capital; Central California becomes a saltwater swamp; and Asia faces a climate refugee crisis. If you plan on living on this planet for the next few decades you might want to read this fascinating book.
Reviews from In Brief, newsletter of Earthjustice
16. From Jo Coffey: Full moon time again, and we'll be taking our walk Friday, Oct 22 starting at 5:45 PM.
As always, the walk will start at the Quarry Road Entrance Park by the Brisbane Post Office and Community Garden. The Brisbane Post Office is at 280 Old County Road, Brisbane.
These quarry walks are fun, a companionable walk with friends and neighbors. Come join us. Children and dogs are most welcome. Round trip distance is about two miles on a nearly flat road. Dress in layers. It can be cold and/or windy. Heavy rain cancels, but a bit of fog or a few clouds won't stop us. Right now, they're predicting some showers on Friday in Brisbane.
After long months in the evening sky, Venus has gone to the underworld, and is going through what astronomers call its inferior conjunction, when it is between the earth and the sun. It is something like a new moon, when the moon is between the earth and the sun. But, unlike the moon, Venus has a second period of invisibility when Venus is behind the sun, which astronomers call a superior conjunction. This second kind of invisibility never happens for the moon because the moon revolves around the earth, not the sun as Venus does. At a new moon, if the lineup of earth, moon and sun is just right, we have a solar eclipse. A similar thing can happen during an inferior conjunction of Venus - Venus can be seen passing in front of the face of the sun. From our perspective, Venus is much smaller than the moon, so Venus does not cover the sun's disk; it's more like a dot passing across the sun. A Venus transit is a much rarer phenomenon than a solar eclipse, but there was one in 2004, and will be another one at the very next inferior conjunction, on June 6, 2012. After that, we'll have to wait 105 years for the next one! For more information about Venus transits, see http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/transit/venus0412.html, and for some great images of the 2004 Venus transit, check out 'Venus transit' under Google images.
The actual day of this inferior conjunction is October 29, and clouds permitting, Venus will start to be visible in the morning sky soon after, perhaps as early as November 4th.
Second best is OK with me
There's a lot to be said for shunning famous landscapes and seeking out the less known and less well-traveled.
High Country News
18. Scientific American
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MAGAZINE: When Small Numbers Lead to Big Errors
A statistician weighs in on the pitfalls of estimating the sizes of small groups
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND: It's Not Dementia, It's Your Heart Medication: Cholesterol Drugs and Memory
Why cholesterol drugs might affect memory
19. LTEs, Guardian Weekly
Gary Consolmagno, a papal astronomer, said that "the traditional definition of a soul was to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions". Does that mean that Roman Catholics are soulless creatures, as they are not allowed the freedom to love members of the same sex, their priests are not allowed to love members of the opposite sex and women are not allowed to make decisions on whether to use contraceptives or to have abortions? Not much room for the exercise of free will there.
Josephine Frei, Gunzwill, Switzerland
(excerpt) "...The US is the only country in the world where it is seriously supposed that if one believes anything strongly enough it must be so, and that truth can be decided by popular vote. What most Americans seriously think, much encouraged by Hollywood, is that popularity and a high degree of fervour can thus assure both the existence and the justice of anything, no matter how absurd or evil.
John Rodenbeck, Brousses, France
"...In a political culture where basic, verifiable facts cease to matter, political debate is inevitably debased. Add to that a polarised media, in which people access the truth they seek, rather than the one that exists, and it has given rise to bespoke realities: people don't just think different things, they know different things. And some of the things they think they know are just wrong.
For all his faults, if Obama can only convince a third of Americans he is a Christian and less than half that he was definitely born in the US, then what chance does he have of convincing them of his plans for healthcare or revitalising the economy?
Excerpted from Gary Younge's column in Guardian Weekly 15.10.10
20. Obama's problems don't seem so bad when viewed through Gilbert & Sullivan:
21. Cookies that cannot be killed
In Internet terms, a "cookie" is a bit of code placed on your computer when you visit a certain website. It's a way for that site to recognize you when you come back to visit again. Cookies have always been easy to delete. But new strains are virtually impossible to shake. And they may be robbing you of more of your privacy than you ever realized.
(At long lost I find out what a cookie is. JS)
Feinstein opposes Indian casino in Richmond
By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 at 11:40 am in 2010 election, Richmond.
David Abrams (partial quote, heard on radio):
We need that which is other than ourselves--the tumbling of the rapids, the grip of gravity. We have no distance from our technology.
Join us in Reaching Health Care Professionals
The movement to reconnect children with nature hit a major milestone this month when Richard Louv presented the keynote speech before a packed auditorium at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual conference.
With over 13,000 pediatricians attending the conference and 3,000 in the audience, the event presented an opportunity to gauge whether the messages of the movement would resonate with the medical community, as it has with so many others.
How can you do this? The Children & Nature Network has developed tools specifically targeting health professionals which are freely available and downloadable at:
GROW OUTSIDE! Keynote Address to the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference
"In your practices, in every community, at every economic level, please consider suggesting to parents that they get their children and themselves into nature."
Health Professionals Prescribe Nature Play for Children’s Health
The idea that a prescription is necessary to get some children to go out and play is unfortunate on one level. But, taken another way, it serves as an indicator of the growing awareness among health professionals of the important role that nature contact plays in the health of children.
Pediatricians Urged to Help Fight Nature-Deficit Disorder
In a world where obesity is becoming more common among children who are tethered to televisions and computers, Richard Louv still goes to his special world in the woods — and he wants pediatricians to send their patients there to join him.
24. Look Who’s Building a Wall: Mexico By Joe Guzzardi
Last week Raul Diaz, Mexico’s Superintendent of Tax Administration, confirmed that Mexico will build a wall along the Mexican-Guatemalan border.
...For decades, Mexico has decried the United States’ immigration policy as inhumane and called for the open flow of “migrants,” as its leaders refer to illegal aliens....Apparently, if Mexico builds a wall, it’s appropriate. When the United States builds one, it’s racist.
According to Diaz, Mexico’s border wall will stop illegal drugs from entering the country. But, during his press conference, Diaz admitted that it could also prevent the easy access of illegal immigrants into the country. According to Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights, over 500,000 illegal immigrants cross into Mexico from Central America each year. That’s about half the total that come to the United States annually yet it's enough for Mexico to justify a wall.
...The truth is that no country is as welcoming to immigrants both legal and illegal as the United States. Starting with free pre-and post-natal care for expectant mothers who give birth to anchor baby citizens and followed by free education and a host of other social services, the illegal immigrant living in America has a good deal.
Mexico, by contrast, is a horror show. Pity the illegal alien who lives in Mexico.
The nonpartisan Amnesty International is lobbying for Congress to withhold aide payments until Mexico cleans up its horrible civil rights record. In her September 10 article, Amnesty International’s Associate Director Kathryn R. Striffolino charged Mexico with “mass killings of migrants” and “tampering with evidence” to cover up its other crimes that include “torture, rape, killing and enforced disappearances.”
...Despite overwhelming evidence that Mexico is in no position to criticize either the United States’ immigration policy or the border wall that most Americans want built, President Barack Obama remains enamored of Mexico.
Late this spring, only three months before the Tamaulipas slaughter, President Felipe Calderon addressed the United States Congress. During his speech, President Calderon had the audacity to lecture the United States about its immigration policies, specifically complaining about S.B. 1070 and supporting comprehensive immigration reform.
Instead of expressing outrage that a foreign leader would have the effrontery to tell another nation how to handle its affairs, Vice-president Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood, smiled and applauded President Calderon. President Obama hosted a state dinner for President Calderon and his wife, Margarita Zavala.
Mexico may fool the Democratic leadership but not Americans. In November, Congress will pay the price for its failure to carry out the people's wish for less immigration.
House Democrats Finally Getting America’s Immigration Message:
Enforce the Law
An analysis of U.S. House members’ campaign websites conducted by Smart Politics, a blog for the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute, shows at least 50 percent of Republican incumbents advocate cracking down on the nation’s immigration problems. On the other hand, only eight percent of Democrats’ websites promote immigration law enforcement.
Since the candidates represent districts throughout the nation, a safe assumption is that the problems created by unchecked illegal immigration and rudderless legal immigration are evident to Americans from coast to coast. Among t