1. Correction on City College Earth Day
2. Doyle Drive weekend closure April 27-30/CNPS field trip notice
3. Bay Area Open Space Council's Open Space Conference May 10
4. Learn how to propagate plants from seeds and cuttings on Mt Sutro Saturday 21
5. We can't cheat death but we can make it work hard - Charles Bukowski
6. Feedback: Reasons for preserving species/Sierra Club on population
7. Growing Pains: Resource Depletion and Population Dynamics
8. City chickens! Ducks, too - Saturday 28 April
9. A year of topnotch workshops from CA Native Grasslands Assn
10. Confirmation that dental X-rays can be bad for you
11. Mary Oliver: Every morning the world is created
12. Fang Lizhi, physicist and dissident, died on April 6
13. Potpourri from SciAm and FSEEE: healthy eating/pathogens benefit from climate change
14. Confusing newspaper headlines, and other amusements
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. -John F. Kennedy, 35th US president
1. Denise Louie:
Oops! Re: City College of San Francisco's Earth Day and California Native Plant Week celebration, certain info in your earlier announcement was not intended for the general public; it was meant for folks who had already followed CCSF's process for getting approval to table. I'm sure Ms. Lyons would appreciate a correction. Please ask your readers to ignore the 2nd part about getting a permit to park and contacting Ms. Lyons.
Everyone is invited to join City College of SF's Earth Day and California Native Plant Week celebration, 50 Phelan near Ocean, Ram Plaza, Thursday, April 19th,11 - 1:30. Featuring the California Native Plant Society, a Franciscan manzanita on loan from the SF Botanical Garden, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the SF Weed Management Area, SFFD's Neighborhood Emergency Response Team for earthquake preparedness, solar power, an Environmentalism book cart at Rosenberg Library, giveaways such as endangered-species-decorated condoms from the Center for Biological Diversity and much, much more.
2. Doyle Drive Weekend Closure, April 27-30 - and CNPS field trip April 28
Demolishing Doyle Drive has created problems and uncertainties for the below field trip. This means that the transit information given here is problematic. Please allow extra time getting to the site by noon. How much the activity and the noise will affect the field trip is unknown, and we plan to proceed with it, unless circumstances make it unfeasible.
California Native Plant Society field trip - free and open to the public
Presidio North Shore and America's Cup Viewpoints
Saturday, April 28, 2012, 12 noon to 3:00 pm
Leaders: Jake Sigg and Ruth Gravanis
Details about road closure and field trip in a later newsletter. JS
What does it take to start a farm? How do we protect our foodsheds and provide healthy food for all? What happened in the Bay Area during the last significant enconomic crisis (that of the 1930s) and what can we learn from it? What are our elected officials thinking about and working on? How can we be innovative about telling our story? And what about voters? What are they thinking?
The speakers lined up for this year's Open Space Conference on May 10 at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio will address these questions and more. The Exhibitor Halls will be filled with friendly folks with information, products and services. Lunch will be organic, locally sourced and enjoyed al fresco. The room filled with colleagues, friends, potential colleagues and potential friends.
After this Friday, April 20, the cost of registration goes up to $100.
But wait, there's more:
• A very limited amount of Exhibitor spaces are available. Have you been thinking about it? Now's the time to sign up.
• Student scholarships are available. Click here to sign up! And forward this on to any young people you know.
• Volunteers will be loved. Email Annie Burke at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
• Bike parking will be available. It's Bike to Work Day!
4. Sutro Nursery, UCSF, at top of Aldea San Miguel Student Housing area
April 21, 2012 from 10am to 2pm
Join us at the Sutro Nursery and learn first hand how to propagate plants from seed and cuttings.
We're scaling up and need some extra hands to put seedlings into containers. We'll have our propagation expert on hand for instruction and to answer your questions.
WE MEET AT THE NURSERY SITE, 195 Behr Ave., Nursery is below parking area. Parking is very limited so carpool if possible.
See more details and RSVP on Sutro Stewards:
a song with no end
when Whitman wrote, "I sing the body electric"
I know what he
I know what he
to be completely alive every moment
in spite of the inevitable.
we can't cheat death but we can make it
work so hard
that when it does take
it will have known a victory just as
~ Charles Bukowski ~
(The Night Torn With Mad Footsteps)
On Apr 14, 2012, at 6:09 PM, Lewis Buchner wrote:
You wrote " Humankind is in that kind of predicament: it depends almost entirely on natural capital to generate food and fibre, fuel and pharmaceuticals, to pollinate crops, recycle waste and maintain the oxygen supply. Living things underwrite all national economies: money, in effect, really does grow on trees."
True! I agree All valid reasons to preserve biodiversity.
However I get pissed off when humans mourn the loss of species because "that one might have cured cancer or made some new kind of biodegradable plastic shoes".
All those species right down to some creepy worm were here first and deserve their place in the ecosystem regardless of any homocentric purpose. Cancer cure shmancer cure. Leave 'em alone anyway.
I'm in total accord, Lewis. And, for the record, I did not write that; it was the Guardian Weekly.
Living organisms should be valued in and of themselves; that is bottom line for me. We do have to face the fact of human selfishness and self-centereredness, however. When you're speaking to adults, treat them as adults. But most people are perennial children and are either unable or unwilling to face inconvenient truths. When trying to reach them you must speak to their self-centered concerns; politicians know that.
I had personal experience with this phenomenon 14 years ago when trying to get Caltrans to spray a massive infestation of pampas grass that was usurping habitat for the state- and federal-listed Endangered Species, fountain thistle, Cirsium fontinale fontinale at the intersection of Highway 92 and I-280 in San Mateo County. The thistle is endemic to the Crystal Spring Watershed--ie, it grows there and nowhere else in the world. I had to drive down there for a site visit with, first, representatives of Caltrans management, then several visits with the maintenance crew and foreman. It was like pushing a wet noodle; nothing resulted at the other end.
I got the bright idea of taking the CNPS Inventory of Rare & Endangered Plants as well as a printout from the Rare Plant Database from Dept of Fish & Game, showing ownership of the lands (this particular site owned by Caltrans), as well as a history of the the site and showing the declining numbers of fountain thistle. That gave it cachet, and I could see that they were duly impressed. I drove back to San Francisco content that I'd at last made my breakthrough and that they would now spray the pampas grass. Oh, Jake, ye of great faith.
Yet one more trip. "OK, what's the problem this time?" I probed with more precise questions. The sticking point, evidently, was that they couldn't understand why saving a thistle was important. So, for the first time in my life, I dragged out the cancer-cure saw, explaining that plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms contain compounds--often unique compounds--whose value is unknown, but that the uses for all the drugs, medicines, and materials that humans use was unknown at one time, and the process of discovering will go on to the end of time. This plant might be a source for living-saving drugs.
Bingo. They got it. They killed the pampas grass--a huge patch of several hundred large clumps.
To make a very long story short, after an interruption of ten years, we returned to the project as part of the 2008 GGNRA Endangered Species Big Year contest, by which time the pampas grass had regained the ground it lost to the spraying. The fountain thistle was down to about two dozen plants and was about to wink out. This time we persuaded Caltrans to spray three times, bringing the pampas grass down to a size manageable by CNPS volunteers. We have been returning twice yearly and this year we expect to be able to say that the pampas grass has been eradicated from the site. The sensational news: the suppressed fountain thistle seedbank exploded, and now there are several thousand plants!
Thinking people won't need the selfish argument. However, a politician's job is more difficult, and they are not afraid to get their hands dirty and do what it takes to win. We must learn that lesson, hard though it may be.
On Apr 15, 2012, at 1:09 PM, a concerned peninsula resident wrote:
A new organization has been formed - for everyone who is tired of the Sierra Club selling out on the most important issues of our time (overpopulation/family planning, fracking... ).
It's called Common Dreams.
"Dear Sierra Club, I’m through with you. ...
Common Dreams is a result of what you posted in your story early March: The article you posted in nature news (or very close to it) sourced here:
The original article in Time Magazine, to which Common Dreams author is responding
Once again, it boils down to the Republican War against Women - and their unbelievable policy to not permit women around the world safe, self directed health care including the ability to control all aspects of reproductive health and family planning.
Here's hoping Michael Brune of the Sierra Club starts focusing the club population planning
Growing Pains: Resource Depletion and Population Dynamics
By Nick Gailey
CAPA iPad-2 Winner 2012
In half a century, Orange County has gone from being defined by citrus trees and open spaces, to a sprawling urbanized expanse. There are few reminders left, from the rural past for which the County was named. This case of changing demographics and expansion is far from unusual when looking at the state as a whole. Reaching historic highs, California’s population hit the 40 million mark not long ago. Forecasts show that growth will only continue, as the numbers are expected to swell to 60 million, adding the equivalent to half of the current population, by as soon as 2050.
What aspects of our lives are actually affected by the occurrence of overpopulation? Real issues that define day-to-day activities, such as fighting through daily traffic congestion and timely access to local hospital services are heavily influenced by crowding. As unpleasant as overpopulation may seem, there any many more subtle and troubling effects to be aware of as well.
Besides the obvious impacts of more people filing into our urban centers, there is a sometimes overlooked, degradation of the natural environment taking place. It’s important to understand that with each new person entering California, either through immigration or birth, a new set of demands is being introduced - specifically on natural resources. These include, but are not limited to, demands for agricultural goods, animal protein, running water, electricity, clothing, furniture, appliances, electronic devices, and housing. And due to the car driven culture that characterizes much of the state, these new people will likely purchase an automobile. Now, on an individual basis, these demands are for the most part reasonable and to be expected in a modern society, but when they are constantly being added to and multiplied, a serious problem develops. There are associated environmental costs with the production of all these goods. The wealth of natural resources, that California is fortunate to possess, has been critical in creating high living standards and advanced economic development. (California on its own stands as the world’s eighth largest economy) With the continuation of current trends though, these very resources are becoming increasingly degraded, consumed, and scarce.
According to writings on the World's biodiversity hotspots by Conservation International, the California Floristic Province (an area covering much of California) has only 24.7 percent of its original vegetation remaining in more or less pristine condition. As one of the top 25 most biologically productive and varied eco-regions on Earth, California can gain from the protection of these natural places that range from towering redwood forests to the sandy coastal beaches. And not just for the sake of preserving itself, but also to ensure future economic interests, tourism, recreation, and even medical technology breakthroughs that depend of discovering health benefits from rare plants. The Conservation International’s findings point to the destruction of the California hotspot being caused by expansion of urban areas, pollution, roadway construction, and commercial farming – all aspects of civilization amplified by overpopulation. When these unique wild lands are altered to such an extent society is harmed too, as this habitat is what attracted so many to settle here in the first place.
Are there any places where overgrowth has been successfully kept at bay? Well, Big Sur and the greater Central Coast, serve as an ideal model, showing the value of keeping land undeveloped. Specifically, the city of San Luis Obispo has vigilantly managed growth by restricting large-scale housing development -- retaining its character and distinct lifestyle in the process. As a result, multiple national surveys have found San Luis Obispo to consistently be the “happiest city” in the country. There are no good reasons why California couldn’t implement the same policies state-wide, avoiding the host of environmental problems that out-of-control population growth brings.
From an historical perspective, the Golden State has never seen such a dramatic influx of immigrants – this change is largely responsible for the current population explosion. Without any good alternatives, California should restrict the overwhelming flow. This is the only realistic way to mitigate the effects of overpopulation in any meaningful way. As Californians, we have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to ensure conscientious natural resource use, ecological health, and a general quality of life for current and future generations. Whether through political efforts, community education, non-profit volunteering, or even simple conversations with friends and family, there are countless ways to reduce the harmful nature of overpopulation.
8. CITY CHICKENS! And Ducks Too!
Date: Saturday, April 28th, 2012
Time: 10am - 12:30pm
Location: Garden for the Environment, 7th & Lawton, San Francisco
Instructor: Paul Glowaski, Co-Founder of Urban Eggs & Farmer
Cost: $25 or $15 for GFE Members
Begin your morning by harvesting fresh eggs from your own urban back yard! You can keep chickens and ducks in San Francisco! Join Paul Glowaski, Co-Founder of Urban Eggs & Farmer at Dinner Bell Farm, for an exciting workshop on organic “eggriculture”. Whether you dream of just a few chickens, or dozens, you will learn all you need to know to keep even your chickens (or ducks) healthy and happy in San Francisco. This class will walk you through the entire process, including: ordering chicks, organic feed for chickens and ducks, sanitation & human health considerations. (Images: TheCityChicken).
9. California Native Grasslands Assn
Here we go with another year of top-knotch workshops from CNGA
April 20: Field Day at Hedgerow Farms. Location: North of Winters
May 4: Introduction to North Bay Grasslands. Location: Pepperwood Preserve, Santa Rosa
May 5: Field Trip - Grasslands of the Sonoma Coast. Carpool from Santa Rosa
May 6: Field Trip - Boggs Lake Ecological Reserve. Carpool from Santa Rosa
May 9-11: Holistic Planned Grazing for Ranchers. Location: Willits
May 24: Restoration and Revegetation with Grasses and Graminoids. Location: Sedgewick Reserve, Santa Ynez
May 25: Open Ranch Day at Rancho de las Flores. Location: Los Alamos
You can register on our website (www.cnga.org) by clicking on the "Quicklink to Workshops and Events." Payment is made with your credit card through the secure PayPal site. Or, if you prefer to pay by check through the mail or credit card via our secure fax line (530-661-2280), you can do that too. Just print the flyer, fill it out, and either mail it in or fax it. All registrations are confirmed via e-mail or U.S. mail.
Little and not often, please
Confirmation that dental X-rays can be bad for you
Apr 14th 2012 | from The Economist
Less is more
IF YOU are a suspicious type you may be disturbed by the fact that, despite reassurances of the safety of the procedure, dentists and their technicians, when administering X-rays, usually step out of the room while the deed is done. Not only that, they often drape a lead-lined apron over your body to protect your vital organs. Well, all but one: your brain.
A study by Elizabeth Claus, of Yale University, just published in Cancer, suggests your suspicions might be justified. Dr Claus thinks she has identified, in those who have had dental X-rays often, a significant rise in the admittedly small risk of developing a brain tumour.
In rich countries, five men in every 200,000, and twice as many women, develop tumours called meningiomas that affect the membranes surrounding the brain. Meningiomas account for a third of primary brain tumours. Only about 2% of them are malignant, but non-malignant does not mean non-dangerous. Even a “benign” meningioma can kill. Around 30% do so within five years of diagnosis. Symptoms can include seizures and blindness, and treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy or, ironically, radiotherapy.
Ironically, because past research studying the after-effects of exposure to things like atom bombs and radiation treatments for cancer suggests the most important environmental risk factor for meningiomas is ionising radiation. These days, however, the main source of ionising radiation for most people is neither fallout from bombs nor radiotherapy; it is dental X-rays. Despite that, surprisingly little research has been done on those X-rays’ effects.
Dr Claus and her colleagues have tried to plug the gap. They studied 1,433 Americans who have had meningiomas and compared them with 1,350 others who have not. These others were chosen to match the study group’s age profile, sex ratio and dwelling place. The researchers then inquired about both groups’ family, medical and dental histories.
In the case of their dental histories, participants were asked whether they generally had standard X-rays, known as bitewings, every year, or never had them, or fell somewhere in between. They were also asked how often they had had panoramic X-rays—so-called panorexes—taken of their entire mouths, and whether they had ever had braces, the fitting of which often involves a panoramic X-ray.
The researchers found that people who had had a meningioma were more than twice as likely as those who had not to have had at least one bitewing X-ray. And the more bitewings they had been given, the greater that likelihood was.
Even more troubling was the finding that people who had been given a panorex when they were under ten had 4.9 times the normal risk of developing a meningioma. To be fair, only 22 participants in the study had both had a panorex and developed such a tumour. But according to Dr Claus, the panorex was not common when most of the people in the study had been children. “Nowadays”, she says, “before getting braces all the kids have it.”
What these results mean in practice is debatable. The radiation dose from an individual dental X-ray, Dr Claus points out, has gone down by about half over the past 30 years or so. In addition, some dentists and orthodontists—though far from the majority—have turned to digital methods that expose patients to even lower levels. But others are using fancy new techniques like cone-beam computerised tomography which actually expose people to much higher levels of radiation.
Moreover, guidelines from the American Dental Association state that healthy adults should have a bitewing X-ray no more than once every two or three years, and that there is little reason to X-ray patients who do not have symptoms. These are policies which Dr Claus describes as “quite reasonable”. But if what her participants told her is true, not all dentists are heeding their own professional body’s advice. Most of those who took part in the study reported having at least one X-ray a year. Dr Claus’s work, then, is a timely reminder that X-rays are dangerous, that dentists should use them sparingly and that patients who have suspicions about their use are not necessarily paranoid.
Under the orange
sticks of the sun
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again
and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands
of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
And if your spirit
carries within it
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---
there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---
each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.
~ Mary Oliver ~
12. Fang Lizhi, physicist and dissident, died on April 6th, aged 76
Apr 14th 2012 | The Economist
IN MID-DECEMBER 1986 the atmosphere crackled with excitement on university campuses in the central Chinese city of Hefei. Students gathered at campus notice- boards to read hand-written posters calling for freedom and democracy. Some of them invoked the rallying cries of America’s political heroes: “Give me liberty or give me death,” read one.
Fang Lizhi was the man who had encouraged the students to speak out: the first and, so far, only intellectual in Communist-ruled China whose dissent has spurred the young to challenge party rule. He liked to describe himself as “just a physicist”: a professional star-gazer and long-standing party member who had been vice-president of the University of Science and Technology in Hefei since 1984. But he was far from ordinary. He had assumed, then demanded, freedom from his earliest days in science.
Scientific inquiry, as he repeatedly, fearlessly wrote and said, needed spirit, ideas, passion and individual integrity. What it did not need was the “guiding role” of Marxist ideology. To attach philosophical pedigrees to scientific theories, usually in order to discredit them, was the method of the Inquisition and the tormentors of Galileo, whose stories he knew well. But that was how science worked in China. If the powers-that-be disliked a theory, they would slap it down with something from Mao’s Book of Quotations. This, said Mr Fang, amounted to blind worship of “some omnipotent Supreme”, and “all of us”—all who, like him, had suffered through China’s cycles of purging and rehabilitation, expelled from teaching post and party and then embraced again—“have direct experience of the Supreme.”
His own research had been trashed by it. He had turned to cosmology and general-relativity studies when, during the Cultural Revolution, he found himself digging coal in Huainan with only one book, Landau and Lifshitz’s “Classical Field Theory”, for company. But in 1972 his paper, “A solution of the cosmological equations in scalar-tensor theory, with mass and blackbody radiation”, was condemned as “capitalist metaphysics”. Big Bang theory of that sort was not communist doctrine; had not Engels declared that the universe had always existed, and was infinite in space and time? Mr Fang spent the rest of his life retorting: “Not necessarily.”
He did so in goading, playful style. An article of 1979, composed in England, was entitled “Written at midnight after praising the Lord.” Another was called “A hat, a forbidden zone, and a question.” He wrote for public consumption in newspapers, as well as for academic journals. And, with unheard-of daring, he sniped at political structures as well as pseudo-science. It was better to question socialism than love it, he said. Marxism-Leninism was “a worn-out dress that should be thrown away.” And “if every one of those good words—liberty, equality, fraternity, democracy, human rights—has been called ‘bourgeois’, what on earth does that leave for us?”
A red shift not observed
In 1986 his chirpy irreverence for party authority stoked student unrest not only in Hefei, but also in Shanghai and Beijing. Deng Xiaoping, China’s leader, denounced him, and party cells across the country were ordered to study and criticise Mr Fang’s views, usefully gaining him a readership of millions.
He was not, however, put in prison. In Deng’s cautiously modernising China, he was too good to waste: the poor son of a post-office clerk who went to university at 16, was a full professor at 42, and was easily conversant with the latest scientific researches of the West. He was dismissed from his job in Hefei, but brought back to the Beijing Observatory—while his wife Li Shuxian, also a physicist, was given a job at Peking University, a traditional hotbed of student activism. Foreign journalists were allowed to visit them in their small apartment, full of Mr Fang’s wild, free, whinnying laughter. He had had worse run-ins before, as a “slipped-though-the-net-rightist” in the Mao years. And he felt that reformists in the leadership were still on his side.
In 1989 he spurred forward their campaign for change. That January he wrote to Deng demanding the release of political prisoners, inspired dozens of other intellectuals to sign up in support, and kicked off a spring of unprecedented upheaval. When protests broke out in Beijing in April he stayed in the background, but hardliners saw him as a “black hand” behind Tiananmen. At one rally after the unrest had been crushed, his effigy was burned.
The party, however, was unable to capture him. Mr Fang and Ms Li took refuge in the American embassy, bringing the fate of dissidents to the forefront of George Bush’s dealings with China, until they were allowed, in 1990, to go into exile. Eventually Mr Fang settled at the University of Arizona to become a professor of physics, as he wanted, specialising in statistical studies of the extragalactic red shift.
No red shift was observed in China. He kept speaking out, but his stumbling English could not match his Chinese, and distance blurred him. “A rising economic power that violates human rights is a threat to peace,” he wrote from his new home. China’s students, once his eager followers, appeared unmoved. The cosmos wheeled on its mysterious way.
Further reading: "Fang Lizhi's Expanding Universe" by James H. Williams, in China Quarterly
NATURE: Chinese Medicine Herbs Found to Contain Ingredients Derived from Endangered Animals
Food and drug regulatory agencies might consider adopting sequencing techniques to screen herbal medicines for ingredients that are toxic or derived from vulnerable organisms, a geneticist says
OBSERVATIONS: Fast Food Chains Dish Out More Salt per Serving in the U.S.
The same fast-food chain will serve up vastly different quantities of salt depending on the country it is slinging burgers (or pizza or subs or drumsticks) in
ANTHROPOLOGY IN PRACTICE: The Cost of Healthy Eating
It requires a social and behavioral shift, but it also requires a serious reconsideration of our food budget and means questioning the effectiveness our personal food environment--where you get your foods is as important as what your foods are
Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics:
Global warming: Forest Service researchers examine the role of pathogens in a world that’s heating up – Summit County Citizens Voice
Under a warmer and wet climate change scenario, sudden oak death and other Phytophthora tree diseases could become more common, as the pathogens reproduce and spread quickly under favorable moist and warm conditions.
14. There's a well-known (and possibly made-up) newspaper headline:
Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
What's going on here? Is it a case of teachers hitting indolent students or of teachers asking for better wages? It's an instance of the malleability of the language that some words can act like one of those flip animations: what you see depends on what angle you see it from. In the above headline words take either of two roles (strike: noun/verb, idle: verb/adjective).
Here are a couple of other examples:
Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead
British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
Shifting slightly; the following are from Lexicon of Stupidity:
Two from the New York Times
Survey Finds Dirtier Subways After Cleaning Jobs Were Cut
They could choose a higher-cost plan, which would cost them more, or a lower-cost plan, which would cost them less.
New York Times, on how Clinton Health-care Plan would affect a typical couple
But the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader scooped the NY Times on this:
Free Advice: Bundle Up When Out in the Cold
If the United States is attacked, file this page in book III of FPM Supplement 990-1, in front of part 771.
Effective upon an attack on the United States and until further notice: a. Part 771 is suspended.
Federal Personnel Manual, Manual Supplement 990-3. Civil Service Commission: Part M-771,
Employee Grievances and Appeals
Important Notice: If you are one of the hundreds of parachuting enthusiasts who bought our “Easy Sky Diving” book, please make the following correction: On page 8, line 7, the words “state zip code” should have read “Pull Rip Cord.” A Warrenton, Virginia newspaper
Skydiver Lands on Beer Vendor at Women’s Cole Slaw Wrestling Event
Headline, Petersburg (Virginia) Progress-Index
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