Plant Trees SF Events 2011 Archive: 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

Event

 
NOTE:  My blog site is now functional:  http://naturenewssf.blogspot.com/   I will continue to email newsletters for another week or more, to make sure everyone is aware of the change.  (People are away, traveling, &c.)  

If you want to continue to receive newsletters via email you have that choice by putting your email address in the box on upper right of the blog, then click Submit.  Even if you told me already you want to receive via email, you still have to do this.

1.   Job opportunity - gardener position at National Park Service
2.   San Francisco Beautiful grant program and beautification awards - apply by June 1
3.   Would you like to know what's really behind the Mississippi Delta flooding problems?
4.   Blue Greenway community workshop May 25
5.   Catalog Choice - you have the right to opt-out of unwanted mail and name trading
6.   Acterra - a spate of events and activities in southern peninsula area
7.   Easy way to save 100 square feet of rainforest, and contribute to an organization doing more than that
8.   Cargill's Redwood City project high in sodium, low in public support
9.   War among birds:  osprey has tough time holding onto its catch
10. Feedback
11.  Heron's Head green roof, and more
12.  LTEs:  Alternative pollinators/taking invasive plants seriously
13.  The world's most dangerous border:  Pakistan/India
14.  Encyclical on celibacy 'rubbish'
15.  Utah population boom:  bad for both wildlife and people/>1 million fish suffer mass die-off on west coast
16.  More poetry from Wilderness Arts & Literacy Collaborative
17.  Bag it - an evening of environment education and entertainment for everyone - June 3 in Pacifica
18.  From each plant according to its abilities, to each plant according to its needs - Karl Marx in the plant world
19.  The terrible threat of unlicensed interior designers
20. Notes & Queries:  Where does hope come from and how do we keep it?/If not stamps and coins, what are children collecting now?


1.  Job opportunity - I received this terse message:  

gardner position available at national park service..ft mason..must have qac b...closing date to apply is 5/30...go to jobsusa.gov/ftmason/gardener..or cont..act park for info on how to apply...irrigation/mow op skills.needed.. 

and ended up here:
http://www.job-engine.net/index.jsp?kw_0=tljmuhtmlurim&job=Gardener&SID=5476776

Perhaps you'll be able to figure it all out.

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2.  San Francisco Beautiful's Klussmann Grant Program and Beautification Awards 

Our Klussmann Grant Program offers micro-grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to neighborhood, community and non-profit groups that seek to beautify San Francisco. The final day to apply for a Klussmann Grant and nominate a special place for a Beautification Award is tentatively June 1st. Both the Klussmann Grant application and Beautification Award Nomination forms are found on our website, SFBeautiful.org.


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3.  The Control of Nature, by John McPhee

Bruce Grosjean:
Jake - If any of your readers would like to know what's really behind the current Mississippi Delta flooding problems I would suggest the chapter called "Atchafalaya" in John McPhee's excellent book "The Control Of Nature". I just discovered that this entire chapter is available in the February 23, 1987 New Yorker which can be found at the link below. I think we have talked about this book before, but it is amazingly timely right now and will furnish much needed perspective for anyone who reads it.

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1987/02/23/1987_02_23_039_TNY_CARDS_000347146?printable=true¤tPage=all

Sample:  "Twenty years before, a barge that broke loose and was crumpled after sinking at the structure was hauled up the intake channel and left by the edge of the river. The barge had not moved since then, but the Mississippi’s bank—consumed by the scouring currents—had eroded to the west. The barge now lay five hundred feet out in the Mississippi.

General Sands, reflecting on these matters, once said, 'The Old River Control Structure was put in the wrong place. It was designed to a dollar figure.'”
(The preceding two paragraphs was a squib I randomly fastened on, as I have no time to read the long article.  But I have no hesitation recommending it--for one thing it is by John McPhee, so you will be treated to good writing and you won't be aware of time passing.  It is yet another illustration of human folly and innocence, stories that are flooding [pun partly intended] into news media these days, and will become increasingly common as the consequences of our folly--ie, our kind of thinking and engineering--become evident.)

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4.  Next week's Blue Greenway community workshop on May 25th at Pier 1 from 5:30 -7:30. 

The meeting will be to review revised concepts for the Port’s Blue Greenway open spaces, cost estimates and a draft prioritization of projects.
A second meeting will be held on June 16th at the Port to review revised concepts for Site Furnishings Criteria and concepts for the Blue Greenway Linking Streets and Signage. An agenda and notice for that meeting will be sent prior to the meeting.

The revised Blue Greenway Planning and Design Guidelines - Open Space Program and Uses, Streets, Site Furnishings, Cost and Project Prioritization document will be posted on the Port’s web site at www.sfport.com/bluegreenway on Friday 5/20 for review prior to the meeting.

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5.  Catalog Choice
Do you have the right to opt-out of unwanted mail and name trading? The answer is yes. Your right is spelled out in the privacy policy on every company web site. But who has time to read and understand them? Privacy policies are too long, complex and laced with legal jargon. Our team reads them so you don't have to.
Does everybody know the rules? Unfortunately, no. We find that some marketing and circulation managers don't understand the requirements of their own privacy policies. Just the other day, I had to show a VP of Marketing her company's privacy policy and explain to her that consumers have the right to opt-out. You should have heard her fumble to find another excuse. There are none.
Winning on the Streets
Then there are the handful of companies that think they can blatantly disregard requests delivered by Catalog Choice Members. Three of these companies are profiled in this Wall Street Journal article. With your help they may change their mind (see To Do List item 3 below.)
Those of you who have been with us from the beginning know how far we have come. We estimate that 95% of direct marketers now honor requests entered through our service. We are working to address the last 5%.
Winning in the Court of Law too
The battle for your right to opt-out is being played out over phone books in Seattle where the city recently launched its opt-out site run by Catalog Choice. While the industry attempted to force the city to take down the site, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart upheld the Opt-Out registry, saying that the phone book industry had failed to persuade the court that their free-speech claims outweighed the city’s competing interests of “privacy and waste reduction.” Check out this New Yorker article to learn more.
Your To Do List
Our success depends on your continued participation, spreading the word and voicing your opinion. Here are three simple things that you can do to further our collective efforts.
1. Tell your friends to join you in stopping junk mail and phone books with Catalog Choice. Use the Invite a Friend service in your Catalog Choice account or spread the word on Facebook or Twitter.
2. Don't just throw away the unwanted mail or phone books, log in to your account and opt out. If the mailing is from a company for which you’ve made a previous opt-out, go to Your Choices, select the Details button next to the company name and file a complaint.
3. Send an email to one or more of the companies that are blocking opt-outs sent through Catalog Choice. Click each name to start the email to their customer service department - Talbots, Harriet Carter and One Step Ahead.


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6.  Acterra

(Why should I even list these events?--the world is coming to an end tomorrow.  JS)

National River Cleanup Day
Saturday, May 21, 
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Manhattan Avenue and Woodland Avenue
East Palo Alto [map]

 
For more information, please visit Acterra's Stewardship Program Events webpage.

How Homeowners Benefit from a Professional Energy Audit 
Wednesday, May 25, 
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Redwood City Council Chambers
1017 Middlefield Road, Redwood City [map] 

 
For more information and to RSVP, please visit the Verde Talk website.

Don't Miss It!  
The Many Shades of Green Jobs in California
Wednesday, May 25, 
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Portola Valley Town Center
765 Portola Road, Portola Valley [map]

 
Green jobs are growing rapidly in California, outpacing growth in other fields. F. Noel Perry, venture capitalist and the founder of Next 10, will discuss the emergence of a vibrant "Core Green Economy" in California and the future of green jobs in our state.

 
For more information, please view our event information flyer. 

Acterra to Honor Eco Enterprises on June 2nd

 
Join Acterra in recognizing these exemplary environmental enterprises at Acterra's 2011 Business Environmental Awards Reception on June 2nd in Palo Alto. $20 Acterra members, $30 general. [RSVP Here]

 
Satellite Telework Centers are helping create walkable and vibrant mixed use, high-density town centers by allowing community members to work close to home.

 
GreenWaste Recovery, Inc. stepped up to the challenge of Zero Waste by installing state-of-the-art processing equipment at its Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), which has enabled recovery rates of more than 98% for recyclables and 75% of solid waste. 

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7.  Saving 100 Square Feet of Rainforest - "Stand for Nature"

Chipkos is proud to announce our partnership with SaveNature.Org, a non-profit environmental organization based in San Francisco, California. Chipkos is extremely honored to be a featured partner with SaveNature.org and proud of the efforts that they’ve made to protect our rain forests since 1988.

Chipkos announces Mr. Norman Gershenz, director of SaveNature.org  as a primary member of the Chipkos Board of Advisors. Mr. Gershenz dedicates his time to educating our future generations on the importance of nature conservation, as well as serving as an expert advocate for rain forest adoption programs.

Chipkos is an eco-friendly footwear company, specializing in men’s and women’s sandals. For every pair of sandals that we sell, Chipkos will adopt 100 square feet of the rain forest. Chipkos is committed to protecting our world’s rain forests, and ensuring that they remain for generations to come.

How can you help?
‘Like’ Chipkos on Facebook, and we’ll adopt one square foot as a thank you. 
Chipkos has entered into a competition for start-ups that want to change the world. Vote for us!
Purchase a pair of Chipkos, and adopt 100 square feet of the rain forest.

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8.  Planning & Conservation League
SALTWORKS: REPORT FINDS CARGILL PROJECT HIGH IN SODIUM, LOW IN PUBLIC SUPPORT

 
A recent poll of registered Redwood City voters found the majority of the city's residents oppose the Redwood City Saltworks Project. The development project, proposed by Arizona based DMB Associates and Cargill Inc., would be the largest on the shores of the San Francisco Bay in 50 years. The project includes 12,000 housing units, as well as commercial and public facilities, in sensitive wetland habitat susceptible to sea-level rise. The community members of Redwood City are now joining the ranks of environmental groups, surrounding cities and dozens of elected officials, in actively opposing the development of the Saltworks project.

 
The Saltworks project has been heavily scrutinized for its negative environmental repercussions and its impact on already strain Redwood City water supplies. The poll also found that 78 percent of respondents agree the project will create too much traffic and that 64 percent support the restoration of the salt ponds into tidal marsh for fish and wildlife.

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9.  Beasts and Botany by Jess Morton

One would think large hawks immune to attack by lesser birds. But once you have seen that ultimate absurdity--a hummingbird zooming up to chase off a red-tail--you realize that size does not determine all threats and outcomes. While it is doubtful that a hummer poses any real danger to a hawk, there are lots of surprises in the bird world where confrontations are concerned. Recently, it was an osprey that got my attention. 


Ospreys, often thought of as fish eagles, are the largest hawks regularly found in coastal Los Angeles. While much bigger, both bald and golden eagles are exceptionally rare here, while osprey can be found in ones or twos along the coast any time of year, though you will see them less often during the summer. They are strikingly marked birds, with huge dark wings, white under parts and a strong black band through the eye. Quite unmistakable, once you have seen a couple.

Osprey do not nest in my neck of LA, and until recently, nested uncommonly in southern California. Now, however, tall poles with nesting platforms on top can be seen in nearby wetlands, giving the birds new places to raise young. Perhaps, one day, we may be able to establish a similar nest site at Harbor Park, to afford us our own nesting pair.

As their informal name implies, osprey fish for a living, plunging into fresh or salt water to grasp an unwary fish in their powerful talons, then flying up to a perch where they can eat their catch. Fish are slippery critters, so an osprey’s grip has evolved such that once bound to a fish, it will not release until the bird settles to a perch. While a great advantage as far as not allowing its prey to escape easily, that adaptation has its risks. More than one osprey skeleton has been found affixed to the back of large fish, the result of binding to prey too large and powerful to be pulled out of the water. Instead, these were birds pulled beneath the surface and drowned because they could not let go in this direst of emergencies!

Much less perilous to the osprey, but undoubtedly highly annoying, is another downside of that no-release grip. Once they hold a fish, they cannot use their talons to ward off other birds. So even though bigger and more fearsome than a gull, it was an osprey’s inability to drive away a harassing western gull that attracted my eye the other day. Fortunately, I was able to photograph some of the encounter.

The osprey had taken a pretty good sized fish, perhaps a foot and a half long, and was carrying it off to a perch when a passing western gull thought it would try wresting a quick meal from the passing hawk. And the chase was on, the gull unimpressed by long curved talons! It was the fish they held that the gull went after. Each time the gull approached, bill outstretched to nip off a bite, or better yet, snatch the whole thing, the osprey would slip aside or twist the fish just out of reach. And thus it went for several minutes, with a couple of other gulls joining in briefly on the fun. The weight of the fish, perhaps close to that of the osprey itself, was enough of a handicap to prevent a quick escape from the bullying gulls. At one point, the first gull appeared to reach up under the osprey and have the fish fully in its bill, but it could neither hold on nor maintain position, dropping away with nothing to show for its daring.

I suppose, though, that what I was observing for the first time was old hat for both the gull and osprey. The hawk, dodging and weaving, eventually managed to get away from its pursuers. Whether the fish was a meal for itself or family, I cannot say, but I do know that I will not look at an osprey in quite the same way ever again.
From newsletter of the Endangered Habitats League

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10.  Feedback

Ken McGary:
> Hi Jake, Thanks very much for including our Save McLaren Park newsletter in your latest Nature News!  The new McLaren Park Collaborative is also up to great things, our Natural Areas Committee will be meeting soon, and we have lots of big ideas about new work parties, nature walks, stewardship summits, and so on.  I'll keep you informed as to our upcoming meetings, and of course you and anyone else interested in McLaren's Natural Areas are more than welcome to get involved.

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11.  Spring Bounty: The Literacy for Environmental Justice EcoCenter's Living Roof
How does a green roof turn purple and yellow? LEJ’s EcoCenter is not only San Francisco’s greenest building, it’s a marvel of beauty and innovation. Just look to its living roof, which is now in full spring bloom, with colorful California poppies, yarrow, seaside daisies, and more. To nourish the grateful plants, the EcoCenter captures rainwater in a tank, and using solar power, pumps it to the roof, where it is distributed directly to the plants' roots. Very little water is wasted!

Since fall 2010, more than 1,500 school students and adult volunteers have come to Heron's Head Park. Many have also stepped into the EcoCenter to learn about its green technology and the importance of conserving resource, as well as the importance of environmental justice in Bayview Hunters Point. No other organization in San Francisco is providing this type of environmental education.

Want to get involved?  Volunteer at Heron’s Head Park on June 11, 9 a.m. - noon (second Saturday of each month). Check out the EcoCenter’s roof, and help us maintain Heron’s Head by planting seedlings and removing invasive species.

 
Volunteering Details >> 

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12.  LTEs
Science News
I read "Backup bees" with great enjoyment.  The article mentioned planting alternative forage for blue orchard bees near almond orchards.  This is good.  However, most industrial farms practice extensive monoculture (miles of the same crop), where there is no alternate forage for any pollinator, native or nonnative.  Without a variety of food blooming at different times, any insect pollinator in the area will have a short, troubled life.

Alternative pollinators can, and should, be found to honeybees.  More important, new methods of agriculture that provide a variety of food sources for pollinators must be developed, or we are all in a lot of trouble.
Karen E. Bean, Maple Falls, Washington
Bean is a beekeeper at Brookfield Farm Bees & Honey Inc.

Science News replies:  Excellent point.  The smaller farms benefiting from wild pollinators that I mentioned had good bee habitat nearby.  And without thoughtful farming, domesticating new pollinators could mean nothing more than exposing more species to the disease risks, pesticide exposures and habitat problems that honeybees often face now.

High Country News
Invasive ignorance
It's so hard to get the public to take invasive plants seriously and to avoid using and spreading them.  I'm disappointed with the scarcity of native plants and the availability of invasives at many nurseries.  It's just like grocery stores selling seafood that's on the Red List of Threatened Species.  However, there has been an outcry and change on that front, so I hope the same will happen for invasive plants.
Heidi David, San Diego, California

Get rid of the grass, or else
For years, I owned vacant beachfront property in California.  Every February I would receive notice from the local fire department to weed my property and make certain there was no pampas grass on it, else the fire department would do it for me and charge an outrageous fee.  I was impressed that the local jurisdiction recognized the invasive and highly flammable properties of pampas grass.  I always kept pampas grass off my properties, not for its invasive properties but because it harbored rats who loved to nest in it.
Jessie Vosti, Taos, New Mexico

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13.  The world's most dangerous border

Sometimes a debate starts where everybody ignores the elephant in the room. So it has been with Pakistan since the death of Osama bin Laden, with the West examining everything to do with the country except the greatest issue of all, its relationship with India. This week our cover leader looks at "the world's most dangerous border", which has cost thousands of lives, distorted the politics of two countries and stoked up terrorism. We argue that the West's refusal to help defuse tension here is a terrible mistake, especially because a settlement is not beyond reach. 

The Economist (cover story this week)

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14.  Editorial in Guardian Weekly
5 May 1865

Encyclical on celibacy 'rubbish'

A married Pope would command far more confidence than a celibate one, says the "Church of England Newspaper" in a leading article.

After referring to a new encyclical which, it says, "is kind enough to refrain from criticising marriage but calls itself Holy Virginity," and which lists the good works done by celibates and remarks that such prodigious activity would be rendered practically impossible by solicitude for the home and family cares, the newspaper comments:  "Now this is palpable rubbish:  it is correct and proper to feel sorry for the Pope because he has been deprived of the experience of a happy married life.  A married Pope would actually command far more confidence than a celibate one, because of the greater understanding he would acquire.

"This fear of sex, which has always been an element in Roman Catholicism, is a curious phenomenon and difficult to explain.  It is permissible to wonder, however, whether the majority of Roman priests and nuns would fully endorse the principle of celibacy if they had the opportunity of doing otherwise.  Most of them are whisked into their seminaries and convents at an age when they have not had sufficient experience of life to know what they are doing.  By the time they realise the truth they are trained for one profession and could not easily abandon it to enter another.

"Not only do they sacrifice their own usefulness but also the confidence of the public; for the plain fact of the matter is that people - not altogether unjustly - are suspicious of men who live in enforced celibacy without necessarily having a vocation for it."


"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of its behind."  General Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stillwell (1883-1946)

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15.  Center for Biological Diversity

Utah Population Boom: Bad for Both Wildlife and People
Utah has the highest fertility rate of any state, and its population is exploding at a record-setting pace. In fact, new statistics show it experienced record growth in human numbers in every one of its 29 counties between 2000 and 2010, for an overall population jump of 23.8 percent. Predictably, the costs are high for Utah's natural heritage: urban sprawl is obliterating wildlands, air pollution is skyrocketing, water resources are dwindling, and plants and animals are being pushed out of their habitat in every direction.
But what many don't recognize, according to a recent Salt Lake Tribune opinion piece, is that Utah's people are also suffering the consequences of their own unsustainable growth: overcrowded schools, traffic congestion, hospital waiting lists and overflowing landfills.
Utah, of course, is only a microcosm of what's going on around the world. The effects of unsustainable human growth are evident far and wide, from rapidly diminishing forests to accelerating extinction of plants and animals. The world population will hit 7 billion later this year –- which means it's high time we humans start considering what happens to the rest of the planet as our numbers grow and grow.
Read more in The Salt Lake Tribune.

More Than 1 Million Fish Suffer Mass Die-off on West Coast -- Take Action

Staggering numbers of Northern California's most at-risk fish -- spring-run chinook salmon and the Sacramento splittail -- have recently died at water pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Government data show that pumps for the Central Valley Project have killed more than 10,000 juvenile spring-run Chinook salmon since the project's inception; even more shockingly, the pumps have killed more than 1.25 million Sacramento splittail in just the past week.
Spring-run Chinook salmon, a unique salmon that spawns in the Sacramento River, are protected under the Endangered Species Act and now survive in the wild in just three tributaries. The Sacramento splittail -- a hardy, foot-long minnow -- was stripped of protections in 2003; the Center will keep working to ensure this fish gets the safeguards it so obviously needs.

Read more in our press release and take action.

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16.  More WALC poetry

Sharp Teachers
Cristina Hernandez

Vibrant emerald, bright crimson
Lean narrow branches covered in
Soft singularly veined leaves
Rich robust red flowers atop spindly long arms
What secrets lie beneath your sepia-colored skin?
Life arises from bone-dry dirt
Growing tall despite arid air
Teach me to be strong in a foreign land
Harsh as the desert
Teach me to be as amicable as desert plants
Ambassadors welcoming us to their homeland
Teach me to rehydrate my people like the tea of 
Ocotillo flowers
Teach me to alleviate their pain like the paste of 
Ocotillo roots
Teach me to carry their stories in my veins 
As you do for the Cahuilla people

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18.  Karl Marx in the plant world

Although plants don't plot to overthrow capitalist regimes, their actions demonstrate a clear communist bent.  At least some species of trees seem to give according to their abilities and receive according to their needs, report Suzanne W. Simard of the Ministry of Forests in Kamloops, British Columbia, and her colleagues in the Aug. 7 (2005) Nature.

The team showed that some trees give their neighbors carbon that they have captured from the atmosphere.  An underground network of fungi collaborates in transporting the goods.

Scientists had previously found that carbon flows between plants, but they had not established whether individual plants show any overall profit or loss.  To address that question, the researchers provided adjacent trees with one of two brands of carbon dioxide, each labeled with an isotope of carbon.  By examining how much of the different isotopes ended up in each tree, the team could measure net transfer of the element.  Birch trees, for example, gave fir trees more carbon than they got in return, the researchers observed.

The scientists discovered that shade enhances a tree's ability to receive.  Because plants require energy from the sun to grab carbon dioxide from the air, they become carbon-starved when light is scarce.  Birches subsidized firs that were shaded by heavy cloth canopies even more generously than firs in sunnier conditions, the team reported.  Birches and firs grow together naturally, so the findings may have implications for life in the forest.

"A plant grows in the shade for long periods early in its life," says David Read of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.  "this study provides an explanation for how it gets what it needs."

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19.  Schumpeter
Rules for fools

The terrible threat of unlicensed interior designers

May 12th 2011 | from The Economist print edition (excerpt)

IN 1941 Franklin Roosevelt added two new items to America’s ancestral freedoms of speech and worship: freedom from fear and freedom from want. Today’s politicians offer a far more generous menu: freedom from unlicensed hair-cutters, freedom from cowboy flower-arrangers and, most important of all, freedom from rogue interior designers. What is the point of enjoying freedom from fear or want, after all, if you cannot enjoy freedom from poorly co-ordinated colour schemes?

In the 1950s, when organisation man ruled, fewer than 5% of American workers needed licences. Today, after three decades of deregulation, the figure is almost 30%. Add to that people who are preparing to obtain a licence or whose jobs involve some form of certification and the share is 38%. Other rich countries impose far fewer fetters than the land of the free. In Britain only 13% of workers need licences (though that has doubled in 12 years).

Some occupations clearly need to be licensed. Nobody wants to unleash amateur doctors and dentists on the public, or untrained tattoo artists for that matter. But, as the Wall Street Journal has doggedly pointed out, America’s Licence Raj has extended its tentacles into occupations that pose no plausible threat to health or safety—occupations, moreover, that are governed by considerations of taste rather than anything that can be objectively measured by licensing authorities. The list of jobs that require licences in some states already sounds like something from Monty Python—florists, handymen, wrestlers, tour guides, frozen-dessert sellers, firework operatives, second-hand booksellers and, of course, interior designers—but it will become sillier still if ambitious cat-groomers and dog-walkers get their way.

...The Institute for Justice, a free-market pressure group, argues that this is only the beginning of the Raj’s sins. The patchwork of regulations makes it hard for people to move from state to state. The burden of regulations falls most heavily on ethnic minorities (who are less likely to have educational qualifications) and on women (who might want to return to work after raising their children). States that demand that funeral directors must also qualify as embalmers, for example, have 24% fewer female funeral directors than those that don’t.

Uncle Sam will save you from bad feng shui

You might imagine that Americans would be up in arms about all this. After all, the Licence Raj embodies the two things that Americans are supposed to be furious about: the rise of big government and the stalling of America’s job-creating machine. You would be wrong. Florida’s legislature recently debated a bill to remove licensing requirements from 20 occupations, including hair-braiding, interior design and teaching ballroom-dancing. For a while it looked as if the bill would sail through: Florida has been a centre of tea-party agitation and both chambers have Republican majorities. But the people who care most about this issue—the cartels of incumbents—lobbied the loudest. One predicted that unlicensed designers would use fabrics that might spread disease and cause 88,000 deaths a year. Another suggested, even more alarmingly, that clashing colour schemes might adversely affect “salivation”. In the early hours of May 7th the bill was defeated. If Republican majorities cannot pluck up the courage to challenge a cartel of interior designers when Florida’s unemployment rate is more than 10%, what hope has America? The Licence Raj may be here to stay.

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20.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

April, May June – and January

Why are only three months of the year girls' names?

I'm not sure that April, May and June were originally "girls' names". April is sometimes attributed to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, but some (including the OED) maintain that it comes from the Latin verb aperire, which means opening and refers to the opening of blossoms.

May is also attributed to the Greek goddess of fertility. However, Ovid maintained that it derived from the Latin word maiores, which means elders and that June has nothing to do with Juno, the wife of Jupiter, but comes from the Latin word juniores, meaning young people.

Felicity Oliver, Ostermundigen, Switzerland

• April, May and June spring to mind – harbingers of the delights of spring in the northern hemisphere, and of cooler days in the subtropics of the southern hemisphere. Then I can plant my temperate-climate vegetables and look forward to a spring harvest in September.

But what about Julie and Augusta? Don't they count as month names?

Ted Webber, Buderim, Queensland, Australia

• After the parents of a (male) neighbour fled from Franco's Spain to France, they decided to call their three children after month names from the French revolution's republican calendar created in 1792. The boy was called Germinal, and the two girls Floreal and Prairial.

I'm not sure that any of the remaining months would be suitable for girls (Vendemiaire, Brumaire, Frimaire, Nivose, Pluviose, Ventose, Messidor, Thermidor, Fructidor), but that's a matter of personal taste.

Trina Bouvet, Sassenage, France

• Ask January Jones.

Susan Irwin, Oldenburg, Germany


Our hopeful memories

Where does hope come from and how do we keep it?

Hope comes from the memory-expectations sequence. Through human memory, we aggregate experiences: we select those we prefer to recollect and to re-enact. From this selection we create expectations from our relationships with people and circumstances and from our personal development.

Hope is our embellished endorsement and anticipation of these, often hypothetical, expectations. Questions of truth and falsehood, knowledge and education, fantasy and reality arise in the process.

Brian Taylor, Merricks North, Victoria, Australia

• Hope springs eternal so you don't have to keep it.

Margaret Wyeth, Victoria, BC, Canada


Single malt is a short order

Why are some orders tall and others short?

According to Socrates, it depends on who you are standing next to.

James Carroll, Geneva, Switzerland

• Because nobody can afford a tall single malt, let alone drink it safely.

Joan Dawson, Halifax, NS, Canada


Asbo for nicking mobiles

If not stamps and coins, what are children collecting nowadays?

Mobiles.

Roger Morrell, Perth, Western Australia

• The modern child is an indiscriminate collector. Sounds a lot better than materialist, doesn't it?

Mark Singleton, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

• Asbos.

Damion Brown, Melbourne, Australia

Any answers?

Did evil exist before the advent of Homo sapiens?

Bill Lake, Dent, Cumbria, UK

If the people of Nigeria are Nigerians, what do we call those of Niger?

Jonathan Seyghal, East Molesey, Surrey, UK
For updates and info, contact scott at planttrees dot org.