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

Event

 
1.   Speak up for San Francisco Rec and Parks - Friday June 24 at 10 am
2.   Judge halts Niles Canyon road widening project
3.   Oakland City Council approves Knowland Park expansion, will face legal challenge
4.   Butterflies of the Bay Area is now up for viewing at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center
5.   Feds challenged on stripping vegetation from levees
6.   Ladybugs once common now rare -  Scientific American Citizen Science - Lost Ladybug Project
7.   Save The Frogs! Poetry Contest - all ages and nationalities encouraged to enter
8.   Tarantulas shoot silk from their feet
9.   Two-day symposium "Growing Natives: Inspiring & Enduring Gardens" September 17 & 18
10. SciAm tidbits--change name of SF's Tenderloin?
11.  In The Book - poetry of William Stafford
12.  Neptune completes its first orbit of the Sun since its discovery
13.  Tom Toles takes a look at the economy
14.  Limits: The laws of physics may well prevent the human brain from evolving into an ever more powerful thinking machine
15.  Notes & Queries: When does middle of nowhere become somewhere?/Difference between religious right and religious wrong


1.  Speak Up for SF Rec and Parks!    

Let your elected officials know just how vital your parks and recreation programs are to you and your family.  The Board of Supervisors' Budget and Finance Committee will offer public comment on Rec and Park's Fiscal Year 2011-12 budget tomorrow, Friday, June 24, beginning at 10 a.m., at City Hall, Room 250.  

Like many city departments, the Recreation and Park Department relies on annual General Fund support to keep our parks clean, safe and fun, and to provide quality, affordable programs to children, adults and seniors, however, that support has experienced significant cuts over the past seven years, testing our ability to maintain a high level of service to the public.

Thanks to some belt-tightening by staff and some creative revenue-generating solutions that are helping to balance the General Fund losses, we are extremely proud to have submitted a budget this year that includes no layoffs, no new fee increases and no service cuts. 

Our strategies are working, but the cuts keep coming.  Newly proposed cuts now threaten our ability to leverage volunteer support and maintain and care for our green spaces.

We understand your days are busy but your voice is important.  Please consider coming out tomorrow to voice your support for parks!

You can also email committee members at: carmen.chu@sfgov.org, ross.mirkarimi@sfgov.org,jane.kim@sfgov.org, david.chiu@sfgov.org or scott.wiener@sfgov.org, or mail comments to: Clerk of the Board/Board of Supervisors: 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244, San Francisco, CA 94102. 

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2.  Judge Halts Niles Canyon Road Widening Project

Court Issues Injunction; Legal Challenge to Caltrans’ Inadequate Environmental Review Will Proceed to Trial
 
In a victory for environmental protection and transparency in public agency decisions,Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch today issued a preliminary injunction barring Caltrans from initiating construction on the first phase of the controversial $80 million highway widening project in Niles Canyon along Alameda Creek.

In ruling that the Alameda Creek Alliance may proceed to trial challenging the inadequate environmental review for the Route 84 “Safety Improvement” project, the judge severely lambasted Caltrans’ clandestine project approval and obstruction of the public process. The ruling effectively prevents Caltrans from construction activities until February 2012, and could ultimately result in a ruling that an Environmental Impact Report must be prepared for the project.
 
Read today's press release here

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3.  Knowland Park

The Oakland City Council turned down our appeal and unanimously approved the Zoo expansion project Tuesday night. Thanks to all of you who turned out in good numbers to stand up for the park and for those who ceded time so we would be sure to get the most key points made in our oral testimony. You spoke eloquently, powerfully, intelligently and from the heart. Despite our submission of additional materials showing that the visitor increases and traffic counts were grossly underestimated, the impacts much greater than admitted in city reports, and the process not acceptable under the California Environmental Quality Act, the Council voted with almost no discussion, making it crystal clear to anyone in the audience that they had already decided before even hearing the appeal that it would be rejected.

This did not come as a great surprise to us or any of the environmental groups that are part of our Coalition. But it sent a clear message that if you are a politically connected institution, you don't have to follow the same rules as the rest of us do. That's not right.

Actually, that unanimous decision was a good thing, because it makes the way forward much clearer: obviously litigation is our only option at this point, and we are in discussion with our attorneys about next steps. In fact, we are even more energized than before.

The issues here are bigger than just Knowland Park, much as we are passionate about protecting it. As we delved deeper and understood more about how the environmental review has been handled on this project, we began to see that the Zoo began way back in 1996 by proposing a really sensitive plan, one that took much less land from the park and sited development on already-distirbed ground, and got their Mitigated Negative Declaration (saying the project had no sigificant impacts, and meaning a full EIR was not required). Then, with each successive plan, the Zoo has added more and larger features that dramatically ratcheted up the impacts, but has still been allowed to keep the MND instead of having a full Environmental Impact Report. If this is allowed to stand, this will become a template for every developer to follow.

It is regrettable that the City has chosen this course, both environmentally and fiscally, but it's not over yet. Meanwhile, go out and enjoy the park's beauty and be glad you are among the human beings on the planet who understand why spots like this are worth NOT developing, and who would like there to still be a few of them around for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to enjoy.

The Friends of Knowland Park Leadership Team

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4.  MaryAnn Nardo's Butterflies of the Bay Area is now up for viewing at the 
Marin Headlands Visitor Center (open daily 9:30 - 4:30)
June 9-Aug 17.

Butterflies are self-propelled flowers.	R.H. Heinlein

"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."
	Hans Christian Andersen

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5.  Suit Fights Feds' Policy Damaging Species' Habitat in California

Trees and shrubs that grow along levees in California's waterways can provide shady, complex habitat for chinook salmon, steelhead trout, birds like southwestern willow flycatchers and dozens of other imperiled species. That's why on Monday the Center for Biological Diversity and partners filed a lawsuit challenging a new federal policy requiring flood-control districts to strip away vegetation from levees in California.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.


Story in the Sacto Bee:  http://www.sacbee.com/2011/06/21/3715239/groups-sue-army-corps-of-engineers.html


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6.  Scientific American Citizen Science

Lost Ladybug Project

Throughout North America ladybug species distribution is changing. Over the past 20 years several native ladybugs once very common have become extremely rare. During this same time ladybugs from other places have greatly increased both their numbers and range. Some ladybugs are simply found in new places. This is happening very quickly and scientists don't know how, why or what impact it will have on ladybug diversity or the role that ladybugs play in keeping plant-feeding insect populations low.

Lost Ladybug Project is asking citizen scientists to help discover where all the ladybugs have gone so they can try to prevent more native species from becoming so rare. For example, to be able to help the nine-spotted ladybug and other ladybug species, scientists need detailed information on which species are still out there and how many individuals are around. Entomologists at Cornell can identify the different species but there are too few of these scientists to sample in enough places to find the really rare ones.

Cornell entomologists need citizen scientists to be their legs, hands and eyes by finding and photographing local ladybugs.

Project Details
	•	PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Losey, Associate Professor
	•	SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Cornell University Entomology Department
	•	DATES: Ongoing
	•	PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
	•	COST: Free
	•	GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
	•	TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
	•	HOW TO JOIN: How to join: Citizen scientists can get started right away. The first step is to find local ladybugs. Lost Ladybug Project offers tips for both finding and photographing ladybugs on its Web site. After photographing the ladybugs, citizen scientists should upload those images using a digital form available on the Lost Ladybug Project site. Photographs may also be mailed to the project's organizers in Ithaca, N.Y.

For more information, contact the project: ladybug@cornell.edu
See more projects in Free,  Fieldwork,  All Ages.

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7.  SAVE THE FROGS! Poetry Contest
www.savethefrogs.com/poetry

The 2011 SAVE THE FROGS! Poetry Contest is underway! This contest will raise awareness of the amphibian extinction problem by getting people involved and interested. The best frog poems will be used in a book of frog poetry that will be sold to raise money for SAVE THE FROGS' worldwide amphibian conservation efforts. Please enter your best frog poem and inform your local teachers! All ages and nationalities are encouraged to enter.

Now or Never
by Martina Lo, Age 12	
Houston, TX	

When mosquitoes swarm, and frogs are gone
Is when we will realize our mistake
That the pollution and the littering
Has put our world at stake
Never will our future generations
Ever get to see
What a wonderful, vibrant sight
These amphibians can be
Forever, we will then regret
For not putting up a fight
For not saving the frogs
For not preserving a beautiful sight
Together, we can be a greener world
Make a change, and show your care
And maybe in the future…
The frogs might still be there

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8.  Tarantulas shoot silk from their feet



New research reopens debate over whether some spiders, such as this Mexican flame-kneed tarantula named Fluffy, can shoot silk from their feet.

Science News 18 June 2011

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9.  A two-day symposium titled “Growing Natives: Inspiring & Enduring Gardens” is being offered on Saturday & Sunday, September 17 & 18, 2011 in Lafayette and Berkeley. Designing, installing, and maintaining native plant gardens of lasting value is the theme of this symposium aimed at professionals, home gardeners, and native plant enthusiasts.

The earlybird deadline is June 30. CNPS members receive additional discounts. For more information and to register, visit:    http://gns.cnps-scv.org

With questions, call Margot Sheffner 510-849-1627.

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10.  Tidbits from Scientific American

A study showed that social rejection affects the same part of the brain as physical pain, bringing new meaning to the lyrics of "Love Hurts."

Sound analysis of sperm whale "clicks" suggests they might have names, similar to the individual, identifying whistles that dolphins display.  And we thought they just sang to one another.

PETA urged San Francisco to rename its seedy Tenderloin district to something that did not "evoke the horrors of the meat trade".  "What, am I going to say, 'Yo, I'm headed down to the Mixed Salad?'" one resident told the San Francisco Examiner.

(JS:  NPR's Says You , when it broadcast from San Francisco, asked what was the origin of the word Tenderloin.  The variety of audience and letter-writer responses were all over the map, and many of them had nothing to do with meat.  I posted this item in my newsletter a couple years ago but received no responses--so my guess is that we may never know where the word came from.)


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11.

 
In The Book
 
A hand appears.
It writes on the wall.
Just a hand moving in the air,
and writing on the wall.
 
A voice comes and says the words,
"You have been weighed,
you have been judged,
and have failed."
 
The hand disappears, the voice
fades away into silence.
And a spirit stirs and fills 
and room, all space, all things.
 
All this in The Book
asks, "What have you done wrong?"
But The Spirit says,
"Come to me, who need comfort."
 
And the hand, the wall, the voice
are gone, but The Spirit is everywhere.
The story ends inside the book,
but outside, wherever you are --
 
It goes on.
 
~ William Stafford ~
 
(The Way It Is)


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12.  Far Out

(A friend once wrote me "I confess that I was truly shocked to realize that none of us will live long enough for Pluto or Neptune to circle once around us & the Sun in our lifetime."  JS)

On July 12, Neptune completes its first orbit of the Sun since its discovery.
(German astronomer Johann Galle first spotted the distant world September 23, 1846, by looking in the spot where French astronomer Urbain Leverrier calculated it would be.)

Astronomy July 2011

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13.



"Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends."

"Evolution is only a theory like, um, gravity."

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14.
The Limits of Intelligence
The laws of physics may well prevent the human brain from evolving into an ever more powerful thinking machine
By Douglas Fox  | June 14, 2011

Excerpt from Scientific American July 2011

Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the Spanish Nobel-winning biologist who mapped the neural anatomy of insects in the decades before World War I, likened the minute circuitry of their vision-processing neurons to an exquisite pocket watch. He likened that of mammals, by comparison, to a hollow-chested grandfather clock. Indeed, it is humbling to think that a honeybee, with its milligram-size brain, can perform tasks such as navigating mazes and landscapes on a par with mammals. A honeybee may be limited by having comparatively few neurons, but it surely seems to squeeze everything it can out of them.

At the other extreme, an elephant, with its five-million-fold larger brain, suffers the inefficiencies of a sprawling Mesopotamian empire. Signals take more than 100 times longer to travel between opposite sides of its brain—and also from its brain to its foot, forcing the beast to rely less on reflexes, to move more slowly, and to squander precious brain resources on planning each step.

..."I think it is very likely that there is a law of diminishing returns" to increasing intelligence indefinitely by adding new brain cells, (the researcher) says.  size carries burdens with it, the most obvious one being added energy consumption.  In humans, the brain is already the hungriest part of our body:  at 2% of our body weight, this greedy little tapeworm of an organ wolfs down 20% of the calories that we expend at rest.  In newborns, it's an astounding 65%.

In Brief
	•	Human intelligence may be close to its evolutionary limit. Various lines of research suggest that most of the tweaks that could make us smarter would hit limits set by the laws of physics.
	•	Brain size, for instance, helps up to a point but carries diminishing returns: brains become energy-hungry and slow. Better “wiring” across the brain also would consume energy and take up a disproportionate amount of space.
	•	Making wires thinner would hit thermodynamic limitations similar to those that affect transistors in computer chips: communication would get noisy.
	•	Humans, however, might still achieve higher intelligence collectively. And technology, from writing to the Internet, enables us to expand our mind outside the confines of our body.

"Cortical gray matter neurons are working with axons that are pretty close to the physical limit."
	Simon Laughlin, University of Cambridge

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15.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

When a place becomes a name



Phone box on the edge of nowhere, Isle of Rum, Scotland. Photograph: Chris Linder/Alamy

When does the middle of nowhere become somewhere?

• When you are stuck there.

Philip Stigger, Burnaby, BC, Canada

• When New Yorkers realise the world doesn't end at the Hudson.

James Carroll, Geneva, Switzerland

• In Europe, when you can find a house to ask, there should be one within a 10km drive. In Africa, just wait for a tribesman to turn up if you are lost. He will turn up within five minutes even in the middle of the Sahara. So ask him.

Dick Hedges, Nairobi, Kenya

• When it is discovered by WalMart, Tesco and KFC. On the same day.

Keith Muscott, Rhydwyn, Anglesey, UK

• I remember asking Dr Heisenberg the same question. He wasn't certain.

John Marbrook, Auckland, New Zealand

• Possibly sometime or maybe in no time at all.

John Anderson, Pukekohe, New Zealand

• The questioner writes from the US, where the answer is "when someone finds something there that is more than 50 years old and consequently declares it to be a historical site".

Alan Williams-Key, Madrid, Spain

• In our part of the world it's just beyond the Black Stump.

Tony Mount, Nakara, NT, Australia

• When a biology teacher on holiday discovers a rare skink under a rock in an area planned for mining.

Theo Wilms, New Plymouth, New Zealand

• When I go there.

Doreen Forney, Pownal, Vermont, US

• With the introduction of a pub.

Roger Morrell, Perth, Western Australia

• It becomes somewhere when Jim Dewar arrives.

Alexandra Chapman, Paris, France



Two wrongs are not a right

Is there any difference between the religious right and the religious wrong?

The right know; the wrong don't.

Richard Glover, Waitakere City, New Zealand

• No. The religious right are wrong. The irreligious are right, and the moderately religious somewhere in between. Take them out of the equation and the religious right are left. QED.

Joan Dawson, Halifax, NS, Canada

• No.

Peter E Zelz, Redwood City, California, US

• Yes. The width of a scientific thought.

Steve Thomas, Yarralumla, ACT, Australia

• Wholly smoke!

Jim Dewar, Gosford, NSW, Australia



As long as it's French

How do the people of Niger refer to themselves?

Daniel, a Nigerian with whom I work, says they call themselves Niger (with a French accent).

Jeremy Gilling, Sydney, Australia



An area of excellence

Why has England always been so class-ridden?

Don't knock it: it's the only thing we do well.

Robin Thomas, Reading, UK



Any answers?

The Americans have a first lady, but if they elect a married woman as president, what will they call her husband?

Alan Russell, Glossop, UK

How did cavemen cut their nails?

E Slack, L'Isle Jourdain, France
For updates and info, contact scott at planttrees dot org.