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

Event

 
http://naturenewssf.blogspot.com
Happy is he who learns the causes of things.  Virgil

1.   Rally to save our post offices - Saturday 27 in Berkeley
2.   SBM Pancake breakfast and native plant sale Sunday 28
3.   Sunday Streets returns to the Mission Sunday 28
4.   Pedro Point Headlands work day Sunday 28
5.   California’s Native Prairies Thursday 1 August
6.   SF Planning Commission hearings on formula retail controls
7.   North Pole now swimming pool/Earth and its 9.6 billion of us/“pipelines are perfectly safe”
8.   Edible insects are back on the menu again
9.   Feedback: Doug Engelbart/Mt Sutro forest/using desert for solar
10. Today’s birthday of George Bernard Shaw and Aldous Huxley
11.  Scientific American
12.  Dirge Without Music - Edna St Vincent Millay
13.  Nadezhda Popova, night bomber, dies at 91/Amelia Earhart birthday
14.  Notes & Queries


1.  Rally in Direct Defense to Save Our Post Office - National Day of Action


We need everyone's help to mount a defense that cannot be ignored.
Come for speakers, music, and birthday cake in honor of the Post Office’s founding in July 1775- - - and more action to keep it open!

Saturday, July 27, 2013 starting at 1:00 p.m.
2000 Allston Way, on the Berkeley Post Office steps

Speakers (partial list)
Gray Brechin: "Too Big to Name?"
Hannah Appel: "You Are Not a Loan: Debt Resistance and the Post Office"
Norman Solomon: "Privatizing the Future: What's at Stake and How to Stop It"

Music & Entertainment (partial list) Occupella, Dave Welsh, and Mrs T. Bill Banks

http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=1f9694cfb499690301a4159a2&id=07cbe103b8&e=cb54c2d9f0

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2.  San Bruno Mountain Watch hopes you will find time to check out our July 2013 Native Plant Sale this Sunday.

The Mission Blue Nursery sells exclusively plants native to San Bruno Mountain and adapted to San Bruno Mountain and the northern SF Peninsula.

Sunday July 28th
8:30am to 11:30am
Mission Blue Nursery
Brisbane CA 94005
directions

The Mission Blue Nursery is currently open to the public only 4 times a year.  The summer plant sale is coordinated with our Annual Pancake Breakfast & Raffle.  There's something for everyone!

If you're not up for breakfast, please come by anyway!  The nursery is open to all and there is a good inventory.  Browse and enjoy the demonstration gardens.  By then you may even be tempted to have 1 or 2 of Ken's gourmet pancakes - all for only $10 ( $5 for children under 12 ).

Complete information and a plant list with prices can be found at our website.

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3.  Sunday Streets Returns to the Mission!    

On Sunday, July 28, from 11am to 4pm, Valencia and 24th streets will be open for you to come out and play! There will be free activities lining the streets, including hip hop dance lessons, free bike rentals, yoga, pilates, arts and crafts, and more! What better way to spend a Sunday than taking in the sights and sounds of the Mission, while getting some exercise! Remember, all of the activities at Sunday Streets are free, so bring the whole family and all your friends!

Look for our full activity list in Friday's Examiner newspaper, or visit our website for more information.
http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=356c2753c430afbf069c5a41d&id=046f6fdc38&e=1a60b748a6


Calle 24: Cuentos del Barrio
 
Join SF Heritage and the San Francisco Latino Historical Society this Sunday, July 28th on a walking tour of 24th Street in the Mission District. Entitled, Calle 24: Cuentos del Barrio, the tour will illuminate the neighborhood’s rich history of arts and culture, commercial development, community activism, and Latino immigration and migration to the city. A group of Barrio Tour Guides comprised of local high school and college students, who conducted over a dozen oral history interviews this summer with community leaders involved with 24th Street, will share their knowledge during this 1.5 hour-long walking tour. Calle 24: Cuentos del Barrio is made possible with funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Bland Family Foundation.
 
Three 1.5 hour-long tours will be offered at the following times: 11:30 a.m. (English), 1:00 p.m. (Spanish), and 3:00 p.m. (English). The tour is free and open to the public but space is limited to 15 participants per tour. Register early by sending an email with your name and phone number to Desiree Smith at dsmith@sfheritage.org by Friday, July 26th at 5 p.m. To register onsite, visit the Calle 24: Cuentos del Barrio table located at 24th and Bartlett Streets. For more information, contact SF Heritage’s preservation project manager, Desiree Smith, at (415) 441-3000 x11.


Sunday Streets can't happen without you!

We still need a few more volunteers to step up to make this weekend's event possible. All volunteers get a t-shirt, lunch, and that warm, fuzzy feeling you get from knowing that you helped make Sunday Streets possible! Volunteers help keep costs down, which means more Sunday Streets, and they spread joy and enthusiasm, which means more fun.

Sign up to volunteer by clicking here.

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4.
The  Pedro Point Headlands Work Day  
Sunday, July 28th, 9.45 - 1.00pm
(meet at the Firehouse)
                        
If you can't make it, maybe we can see you for our next one!!!
Aug meeting date:  Sunday, August 25th
 9.45 - 12.30 Habitat Restoration      1.00 - 3.00pm - Native Plant walk
(meet at the Firehouse)                   (12.45 meet at the firehouse to join the others)
 
Native Plant Tour: Pedro Point Headlands with Jake Sigg and Mike Vasey
Come explore a unique biological reserve of plants at the Pedro Point Headlands and hear from two Bay Area men famous for their work with and knowledge of these native plants.  Mike Vasey and Jake Sigg will team up to lead a hike to the northern most headland peak and the famed coastal prairie land just below and talk about the special plants you will find here.  Here Nootka reedgrass (Calamagrostis nutkaensis) and California fescue (Festuca californica) flourish in association with huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) and a number of other berry-bearing shrubs.

Please meet at the Pedro Point Firehouse at 12.45pm for this headland native plant walk.

This field trip is preceded by a restoration work party organized by Pacifica Land Trust - meet at the Firehouse at 9:45 am; refreshments provided afterward. We highly recommended hands-on restoration as by far the most fun and effective way to learn native plants and their ecology.
Pacifica Land Trust's ongoing stewardship of this dramatic place where Montara Mountain meets the ocean has transformed some of the former motorcycle trails and several slide areas.  You will enjoy seeing and hearing about their work.

Co-sponsored by Pacifica Land Trust and California Native Plant Society, Yerba Buena and East Bay Chapters.

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5.
California Native Plant Society meeting, free and open to the public
August 1, THURSDAY
California’s Native Prairies
7:30 pm, Speaker:  Glen Holstein
San Francisco County Fair Bldg
9th Av & Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park

California’s prairies and grasslands, one of numerous native plant communities, are a remnant of what they once were some 25, 50, or 100 years ago.  Humans are largely responsible for this decline. Too few of us pay attention to the effect our actions have on the environment and fewer still make the connection between an eroding environment and cumulative impacts to human health or to plants and animals. The speaker will discuss what makes a grassland a prairie, the importance of the prairie ecosystem, how well it is understood and whether it can be restored. He will allow us to marvel over the stunning display of wildflowers.  Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to learn about this important and diverse ecosystem.

Glen Holstein received his botany Ph.D at UC Davis and had a career in consulting.  He has been studying and advocating for the protection of California deserts, chaparral, riparian systems and prairies for decades. He participated in the creation of many California Reserves – Carrizo Plains, Nipomo dunes, Cold Canyon, and others. He is retired and specializes in landscape ecology.  He is also a volunteer botanist and Chapter Council representative for the CNPS Sacramento Valley Chapter.


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6.  San Francisco formula retail controls

Yesterday the San Francisco Planning Commission held a hearing on formula retail.  You can review the materials that were before the commission here: http://commissions.sfplanning.org/cpcpackets/2013.0936U.pdf. 

In response, the Commission passed a resolution authorizing a study of the issue and seeking public comment on the scope of that study.  We encourage comment on this scope by August 5, 2013.  To provide comment on the scope of work for this study, please reply to AnMarie.Rodgers@sfgov.org .
 
Due to the multiple proposals pending to amend the City’s formula retail controls, the City seeks to secure a consultant and complete the study by this fall so that the pending proposals to change formula retail can be informed by data and public comment.  The Department will schedule a hearing on the draft study prior to completion of the study.  After completion of the study, the Department will use the study to make policy recommendations to the Planning Commission. Ultimately and with benefit of public comment, the Commission will make policy recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.  

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7.  Friday, July 26, 2013

North Pole is now a swimming pool

London: New photographs released by scientists have shown the ice cap at the North Pole melting away - and turning into a vast lake, sparking fears about climate change.  The images taken in April show a buoy used to measure climate change sitting on top of the Arctic ice but in the next image taken July 13 the buoy is seen floating in a huge pool of water while the permafrost has disappeared, the Sun reported.  It is believed that the lake is going to grow larger when predicted Arctic storms hit in the coming weeks, loosening the ice banks even further.

The melting of ice took place because of summer temperatures soaring to 3 degree Celsius, which is way above the normal average of 0 degree Celsius.
Scientists have warned that the melting of the permafrost is going to speed up global warming; they believe that a total loss of ice in the summer months will be costing 39 trillion pounds.

According to experts, the melting of ice caps is going to see huge amounts of methane gas being released into the atmosphere, which will help speed up climate change which will result in more flooding and droughts across the world.  They said that the climate change is also posing a huge threat to the wildlife that relies on the pack ice to survive.

The study has been published in the journal Nature.

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(Hmm.  I wonder if there's a connection):

A few weeks ago, the U.N. increased its estimate for the number of people who’ll call Earth home in 2050. The new figure? 9.6 billion.

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The oil companies say pipelines are perfectly safe... 
Tondiarpet residents complain of oil mixing with ground water

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/tondiarpet-residents-complain-of-oil-mixing-with-ground-water/article4918386.ece?homepage=true

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8.
edible insects are back on the menu again.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/23/mexico-insect-cuisine-sustainable-food?CMP=EMCNEWEML1644

Guardian Weekly 


ANTHROPOLOGY IN PRACTICE: What's Stopping Us from Eating Insects?
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=49&ms=NDIxNjUwMDgS1&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=MTk2MDY4MDE1S0&mt=1&rt=0 
Scientific American

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9.  Feedback

Jeri Flinn:
Thank you for the tribute to Doug Engelbart.  I had the privilege to work with Doug in the late 70s/early 80s.  He was not only brilliant, but the ultimate gentleman.  Kind and fatherly.  I didn't realize at the time that using a mouse and having split screens that you could move data from one quadrant to another was unique.  My brilliant scientist dad was also one of his first customers and we had a terminal at home attached to a mainframe that Doug worked with in the early 70s.    Thanks again, Jeri Flinn

Rob Bakewell:
Hi Jake,
Just got back from ' tour ' of 3 of Yosemite High Camps, start Tenaya Lake thru to  Sunsise , Merced , Vogelsang, and end Tuolomne Lodge.
Despite the dry winter there were splendid displays of wildflowers.

Having worked up at Mt. Sutro for several years  I think that sections of the forest , particularly east and south,  are clearly a potential fire hazard.
A fire originating in the urbanized periphery could set off a ground and canopy fie , especially during dry months Sept - November. 

The ' forest ' is unmanaged , many of the trees are deteriorated and unhealthy, spacing is unusual and given the super invasive ivies and H. blackberry, overall habitat diversity is degraded.

For example , I look at El Cerrito Hill ( near Central Av exit of east bay I-80 at Golden Gate Fields ) and see a ' eucalyptus  ' forest with fewer and larger trees , featuring an adjacent and penetrating coast live oak woodland and a ground cover that features wide species diversity.

Granted El Cerrito does not have the fog  intensity of Mt. Sutro , BUT it also shows signs of management.

What is remarkable is the birdlife .. Mt. Sutro seems to be relatively bereft compared to that observed on El Cerrito Hill.

Anyway , all of this is my un-scientific observation ... I think , with some thinning of eucs, control of ivy and blackberry spread, the establishment of habitat corridors and discreet regions and maintenance of trails , that Mt. Sutro could continue to provide a ' forest ' aesthetic and include much improved habitat diversity and fire potential reduction.

And that does not cover sustainable management of recreational trails and aesthetics.

So in short ... I can't figure out what the HELL those who are so fired up against ' management ' of Sutro are worried about !

A few weeks ago a nonsensical attempt was made by those allied with ' Rupa '  to interrupt our work party dealing with suppression of invasives on a section of the  Summit garden.

All we were doing was carefully removing invasive 24 inch high H. blackberry shoots and 30 inch high thistle in order to facilitate the spread of an already establishing diverse  and indigenous ground cover from an area measuring 30 x 40 feet.

I do hope that UCSF carries out its responsibility to manage this resource based on reason and science and resist being intimidated by those who ignore modern environmental management principles.
(It will carry out its responsibilities, Rob.  It has no choice; management is not an option.  JS)

(JS:  The following exchange got chopped up by too many exchanges, so if there are little disconnects, that is why.)
On Jul 22, 2013, at 12:39 PM, David Wiesner wrote:
NEWS: Is Anything Stopping a Truly Massive Build-Out of Desert Solar Power? 
Engineers and industry agree that although challenges abound in utility-scale solar in the sunniest places on Earth, we have the technology to go big in the desert
When it comes to utility scale solar, the answer depends upon the type of solar.  Concentrating solar power has fallen victim to environmental concerns and the declining cost of photovoltaic panels.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20076065-54/solar-thermal-plants-scrap-steam-for-photovoltaic/
David:  The SciAm article was talking about photovoltaic in the desert, and therein lies a story to which most of the public is oblivious.  A massive project is already building near Ivanpah in the Mojave Desert, plus I don’t know how many in the planning stage.  Water?  I don’t know where they are to get it, but underground is the only feasible choice, and I don’t know the environmental costs of doing that.  There are environmental costs to everything we do, and they are seldom talked about with the degree of seriousness they should receive.  There were no environmental studies, which would have revealed dozens of endangered species of plants and animals.  President Obama, under pressure, put it on fast-track, so there went your environmental review.  

Water.  It is needed for cooling in large quantities, plus the cells need cleaning with water every day because dust coating cuts severely into their ability to capture energy from the sun.  It is hard to believe in the future of organized society when we continually refuse to look down the road at potential consequences of our actions.
I see.  I was fooled by the quote about the Ivanapah project, a concentrating solar plant.

The big issue is that California says that we need to get 33% of our electricity from renewables by 2020.  Only a massive buildout of PV can meet the deadline, and the only practical area is the desert, where few humans have their backyards.  There are practical problems with getting that amount of power from rooftop solar, as the roofs cannot be more than 5 years old, and in the PG&E service area, insolation is 18% less than farther south.  Furthermore there are fewer clouds in the desert, meaning less fluctuation in output.  Fluctuation is the enemy of grid stability, so solar in cloudier areas requires expensive standby power to be online all the time.

The 33% requirement is a perfect example of an inflexible mandate, something that politicians are very good at creating.  Everything has to be modeled after the Manhattan Project, with a single-minded goal and an urgent delivery date.  We may achieve our energy goals but like with the bomb project the environment may be a casualty.

Also, many environmental organizations get funding from industries that benefit from such mandates.  No one would be building large amounts of utility-scale PV without this mandate, because it costs 5 times as much as the California average cost of electricity.  Everyone is being bulldozed by the message that we must save the planet from mass species extinction.  So if a few desert species are wiped out, they are like the folks tossed off the lifeboat to save the rest.
Your message is complex, David.  

Most of what you say in first paragraph I understand, with exception of 5-year-old roofs.  It is the fast-tracked decision to sacrifice the desert on the altar of human “needs” that needs discussion.

Then you get into the inflexible mandates created easily by elected representatives.  D’accord.  But examine the reasons why we need mega projects in distant places instead of rooftop.  PGE and others don’t like that because of its effect on the bottom line; that is the major obstacle.  But if we’re serious about coming to terms with limitations and about climate change we need a radically different way of doing business and being in the world.  Do we hear that?  Yes, but not from decision makers, only vox populi.  Additionally, transferring energy is expensive (in dollar terms, in land terms, in environmental terms) and wasteful.  Much of the energy is lost in transmission; desert solar should be rated with that in mind.

Then you mention the inconsistency of some environmental organizations getting funding from the mandates.  D’accord, again.  But I’m reluctant to be too harsh on them because of their parlous situation.  (Among charitable organizations, environmental organizations--that includes human health issues--receive half of 1% of contributions.  Minuscule.)  They have overwhelming demands on them and are pathetically short of resources to respond to the multiple crises afflicting us.  The system is set up in such a way that these organizations sometimes have to swallow hard when holding out the tin cup.

This is not an adequate response to your email, but it will have to do for lack of time.

Separate email:
On Jul 23, 2013, at 8:31 AM, David wrote:
Maybe my optimism is warranted.  CSP (ie, concentrating solar power) developers are going bankrupt faster than the projects can be built.  No CSP project applications have been filed since 2011.

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/07/k-road-gives-up-on-calico-solar-project
I’ve been aware of this, too.  However, things change, and this doesn’t mean it won’t come back when the situation changes.  In fact, there are CSP developers still active in the desert, funded in part by taxpayers.  How many times has nuclear energy been pronounced dead or moribund?  It’s back.  No, Three-Mile-Island killed it.  It’s back.  No, Chernobyl, Fukushima definitely killed it.

It’s back now.  And it will have to keep coming back as long as we have insatiable consumption and artificially stimulated "needs”.

On Jul 23, 2013, at 10:55 AM, David wrote:
In the regulated environment of California, PG&E's bottom line is not affected by rooftop solar.  Ratepayers bear the cost burden.  PG&E is guaranteed a risk-free rate of return for its regulated monopoly distribution business.
Hmm, I wonder.  I can’t help wonder if they won’t somehow make more bucks from mega-projects with huge infrastructure costs than from us having solar on our roofs.  The “experts” always have us by the short hairs.

The problem with rooftop solar is meeting the 33% goal by 2020. Megaprojects are the only way it will be met.
That makes sense, alright.  There are those inflexible mandates again.  Decision-makers are under the gun--I understand that.  But they are the ones (ie, the decision-makers, not necessarily the very same individuals) who got us into this conundrum in the first place, and show no glimmer of understanding or will how to get out of it.

(Ahem, it sounds like I’m blaming “them” instead of “us”.  I shouldn’t, because we’re all complicit, just as we are on oil drilling, fracking, and tar sands.  We won’t give up our addictiosn.)

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10.  It's the birthday of...

*  Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, born in Dublin (1856). He's the author of dozens of plays, including Man and Superman (1905), Pygmalion (1912), and Saint Joan (1923). Shaw won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1925 and an Oscar in 1938 in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for the film Pygmalion. He's the only person in history to receive both the Nobel and an Oscar.

He's considered to be the greatest English-language dramatist after Shakespeare. Even before he had written a masterpiece, Shaw was announcing this very comparison to people, and adding that he did some things in playwriting even better than Shakespeare did. Shaw knew all of the plays he had written by memory. He was also a prolific music critic and literary critic, and he's highly quotable.

*  Aldous Huxley, born in Surrey, England (1894). As a boy, he wanted to be a scientist like his grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley. But when he was 17 years old, he contracted an eye disease that rendered him nearly blind, so he decided to become a writer. His first successful novel was Point Counter Point (1928), which was an extremely ambitious book, with numerous characters and a complex interweaving plot. Huxley decided that his next book would be something light. He had been reading some H.G. Wells and thought it would be interesting to try to write something about what the future might be like.

The result was Brave New World (1932), about a future in which most human beings are born in test-tube factories, genetically engineered to belong in one of five castes: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. There are no families; people have sex all the time and never fall in love, and they keep themselves happy by taking a drug called "soma."
Brave New World was one of the first novels to predict the future existence of genetic engineering, anti-depression medication, as well as virtual reality. When George Orwell's 1984 came out a few years later, many critics compared the two novels, trying to decide which one was more likely to come true. Huxley argued that his imagined future was more likely, because it would be easier to control people by keeping them happy than it would be by threatening them with violence.

Writer's Almanac


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11.  Scientific American

CLIMATEWIRE: Fire Proves an Agent of Change for Western Landscapes
Fire thins forests so that new trees can take root, But that balance of destruction and regeneration has shifted in recent decades
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=34&ms=NDIxMDEzNjAS1&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=MTk1MjEwMzk4S0&mt=1&rt=0 

NEWS: Defecation Nation: Pig Waste Likely to Rise in U.S. from Business Deal
A proposed acquisition of Smithfield Foods would send pork to China and leave more pig feces in the U.S., potentially increasing the risk of superbug infections and other diseases
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=45&ms=NDIwODA0NTYS1&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=MTk0OTYyMjc1S0&mt=1&rt=0 

EARTHTALK: Unlike Sylvester and Tweety, Cats Usually Get Their Birds--Up to 3.7 Billion of Them
Outdoor cats, counting both pets and feral animals, also nab up to 20 billion other small mammals yearly
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=30&ms=NDIxMDEzNjAS1&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=MTk1MjEwMzk4S0&mt=1&rt=0 

NEWS: Should Humans Eat Meat? [Excerpt]
What can and should be done about human carnivory? Vaclav Smil answers in this excerpt from his new book
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=31&ms=NDIxNjUwMDgS1&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=MTk2MDY4MDE1S0&mt=1&rt=0 

NEWS: Loss of Just 1 Pollinator Species Harms Plants
The work adds weight to the argument that society should be more active in protecting pollinators and rethinking policies around pesticides
http://links.email.scientificamerican.com/ctt?kn=24&ms=NDIxNjUwMDgS1&r=NTM5NzIzNTA1NgS2&b=2&j=MTk2MDY4MDE1S0&mt=1&rt=0

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12.
Dirge Without Music by Edna St Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the
world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

"Dirge Without Music" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, from Collected Poems. © Harper Perennial, 2011.


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13.  Nadezhda (Nadia) Popova, night bomber pilot, died on July 8th, aged 91

Jul 20th 2013 The Economist

WHEN their hair was chopped off—as it had to be when they joined one of the Soviet Union’s three women-only air-force regiments—some of the women looked just like boys. Add in the bulky flight jackets, the too-big trousers and the size 42 boots, all made for men, and they could have passed for male pilots, just about. Not Nadia Popova. Somehow she managed, with a cinched waist here and a few darts there, to look like a Hollywood star. Between sorties she would fluff her hair, pressed flat by her leather flying helmet, in her tortoiseshell mirror (as at the centre of the picture above). Before each flight she would pin to her uniform a beetle brooch, which also served as a lucky charm. Beside her wooden cot in whatever shed they were sleeping in—once a cowshed—she kept a white silk blouse and a long blue silk scarf, in case she had to make a really feminine impression.

This was also the young woman—she was 19 or 20 then—who could turn her aircraft over and dive full-throttle through raking German searchlights, swerving and dancing, acting as a decoy for a second plane that would glide in silently behind her to drop its payload of bombs. That done, the second plane would act as decoy while she glided in to drop bombs herself. She made 852 such sorties in the second world war as a pilot in the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, later named the 46th Guards in honour of its courage. Once, over Poland in 1944, she made 18 sorties in a single night. The aircraft were old two-seater biplanes, PO-2s, originally training planes, made of canvas and plywood with open cockpits. When it rained, water ran over the instruments; when the planes were shot at, shrapnel tore the wings to shreds. There was no radio and, to save weight, she never wore a parachute. If you were hit, that was it.

She was a wild spirit, easily bored; she loved to tango, foxtrot, sing along to jazz. It made her feel free, which was also why at 15 she had joined a flying club without telling her parents. A pilot had landed his aircraft one day outside their town, Donetsk in Ukraine, astonishing as a god fallen to earth, in his leather jacket. From that moment she too wanted to soar like a bird. Walking towards a plane, every time, she would get a knot in her stomach; every time she took off, she was thrilled all over again.

Often she flew in pitch dark and freezing air. In an aircraft so frail, the wind could toss her over. Its swishing glide sounded, to the sleepless Germans, like a witch’s broomstick passing: so to them she was one of the Nachthexen, or Night Witches. To the Russian marines trapped on the beach at Malaya Zemlya, to whom she dropped food and medicine late in 1942, she sounded more like an angel. She had to fly so low that she heard their cheers. Later, she found 42 bullet holes in her plane.

Falling torches

Loving life as she did—running barefoot in the grass, exulting in the cherry trees that flowered outside her bedroom window—it was odd that she had suddenly wanted “the freedom to die”. It took no time, though. The moment the German invasion was announced, in June 1941, she abandoned the dance-dress she was ironing and ran to the airfield. She was one of the first to enlist in her regiment, demanding to be a fighter pilot. Soon enough, too, she had personal reasons to hate Germans. They killed her brother Leonid in the first month of the war. In August 1942, having crash-landed her plane in the North Caucasus, she saw Stukas bombing the desperate columns of refugees on the road. Her family home was commandeered by the Gestapo, the windows smashed and the cherry trees cut down.

The worst, though, was to lose friends. Eight died in a single sortie once when she was lead pilot, as hulking Messerschmitts attacked them in the dazzle of the searchlights. To right and left each tiny PO-2 went down like a falling torch. She never cried as much as when she returned to base and saw the girls’ bunks, still strewn with letters they had never finished writing. She was tough (“No time for fear”) and surprised at her increasing toughness as the war went on. But she was a woman, too.

The military men never let them forget it, mocking “the skirt regiment” even when its members had become heroines in the press. The women expected it, and did just fine without them. It was fun, though, to organise dances with the men; many of them fell in love; and so did Nadia Popova, with a blue-eyed heavily bandaged pilot she spotted under a tree, another god fallen to earth. He warned her not to make him laugh, as she clearly wanted to, because his wounds hurt. She read him poetry instead, and when she found her Semyon again for good it was at the Reichstag in Berlin in 1945, where they wrote their names in victorious pencil on the walls.

Instead of her beetle brooch she eventually wore on her smart dark suit the medal of a Hero of the Soviet Union, the Order of Friendship, the Order of Lenin and three Orders of the Patriotic War. With enormous pride she sported them, a beaming blonde among the men. She admitted she stood gazing at the night sky sometimes, wondering how she had ever managed to perform such feats up there. Well, came her down-to-earth answer, because you had to; and so you did.

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July 24 was the birthday of aviator Amelia Earhart, born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897. She was the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic (in 1932). She also flew solo on the longer flight from Hawaii to California — the first person to manage that hazardous route (in 1935). Then, in 1937, she set out to fly around the world. After making it more than two-thirds of the way, she disappeared in the central Pacific, somewhere near the international dateline.

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14.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly


Sunbathing on the beach at Vieste Gargano, Apulia, Italy. 

Why broad daylight? And what's the opposite (apart from utter darkness or pitch black)?
"Broad" daylight occurs after the false dawn and dawn, unless it is heavily overcast or foggy. There is no satisfactory opposite.
The stars are always with us, augmented frequently by the moon, unless again it is extremely cloudy or foggy, when most of us "benefit" from light pollution anyway.
Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

• Presumably broad because it fills the sky and reaches the horizon. The opposite might be what we used to call "murk" on those dull English winter days that drove us back to Australia.
Margaret Wilkes, Perth, Western Australia

• The origin of Broad Daylight probably has nothing to do with dames, Norfolk or bands. Perhaps it is a long-forgotten meterological acronym for Bright Radiant Orb All Day. Darkness is darkness unlike grey, which reportedly has 50 shades.
Peter Vaughan, St Senoch, France

• Broad is a degree, not a superlative. It is halfway between sunrise and sunset, ie noon.
Dick Hedges, Nairobi, Kenya

• Depending on the context, the opposite could be "twilight", "dusk", "half-light", "moonlight" or "starlight".
Anders Grum, Lalandusse, France

• The term "broad daylight" usually denotes nefarious activities that are performed brazenly in the daytime, and that do not necessarily involve broads.
The opposite is presumably when the same activities are performed clandestinely in narrow alleys in the still of the night.
David Isaacs, Sydney, Australia

• Narrow nightlight.
Geoff Gordon, Sydney, Australia

It would be a very good idea
What will be the end of civilisation?
If referring to the western version, probably not as good an idea as civilisation itself would be.
Richard Parsons, Nimbin, NSW, Australia

• I like Mahatma Gandhi's take on western civilisation. When he went to London in the 60s, a journalist asked him, "Mr Gandhi, what do you think of western civilisation?"  Gandhi paused for a few minutes and then replied, "Yes, that's a very good idea."
Brooke Lydbrooke, Toronto, Canada

Take it from one who knows
What criteria do you think Notes & Queries uses to justify publication?

An answer must amuse, enthuse or disabuse, else it will be spurned, returned or burned.
Jim Dewar, Gosford, NSW, Australia

They are starting from scratch
How many lessons that need to be learned have actually been learned?

From close observation of a tribe of delightful godchildren and grand-godchildren, I'd say none. It seems the teaching and wisdom of the elders are thrust aside and each generation finds its own way to what it needs to learn.
Ursula Nixon, Bodalla, NSW, Australia

Any answers?
Could one produce a newspaper with just positive news? What effect would it have on the readers?
Pat Pinchbeck, Halkidiki, Greece

What were history's greatest scams?
Elizabeth Quance, Westmount, Quebec, Canada

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