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"To attain knowledge, add things every day.  To attain wisdom, remove things every day."   Lao Tzu
“It is vain to do with more what can be done with fewer.”  William of Ockham
		38 days to Buy Nothing Day!

1.   Short and Long-term impacts of Rim Fire on Tuolumne watershed at SF Library Oct 22
2.   Presidio Commissary proposals being considered by Presidio Trust Thurs 24 - be there
3.   Original mussel beach: restoring California Floater Mussel in Mtn Lake - Nov 2
4.   Sutro Stewards-REI Ridge Trail Service Day Nov 2
5.   League of Women Voters says No to Wall on waterfront - No on B&C/economics of B&C
6.   The West is seeing an increase in rare but scary illnesses
7.   Scapegoat sought for Lyme Disease’s startling prevalence/climate tipping point/no ‘book larnin'
8.   The Garden of Love by William Blake
9.   Who will protect Golden Gate Park?
10. Problems with scientific research
11.  Today is anniversary of invention of incandescent light bulb/your brain could use less light

1.  Short and Long Term Impacts of the Rim Fire on the Tuolumne River Watershed
San Francisco Pubic Library - Tuesday 1 to 3

Short and Long Term Impacts of the Rim Fire on the Tuolumne River Watershed

The Tuolumne River is the circulatory system for the health of the Tuolumne River Watershed which sustains a large portion of the Stanislaus National Forest in the Sierra Nevada of California, including Yosemite National Park. The Rim Fire, located primarily in the Tuolumne River Watershed, has burned over 253,000 acres as of September 9, 2013.  In efforts to contain the fire, Cal Fire  in coordination with the National Park Service and with input from the San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC), has been bulldozing fire lines across ridge tops, dropping fire retardant (2 million gallons as of Sept 5, 2013) on active and advancing fire perimeter, as well as back-burning areas to contain (different than extinguish) the fire which continues to burn through the northern and western Stanislaus forest, now well into Yosemite National Park.

As a small part of it's ecological function, the Tuolumne River Watershed drains water into Lake Eleanor, Cherry Lake, as well as the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir collected behind the O'Shaughnessy Dam in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. The rights to these collected waters are owned by SFPUC, the Modesto and Turloch Irrigation Districts and the people of California. The SFPUC diverts roughly 33% of the Tuolumne River into the Hetch Hetchy Water Transfer System to provide 85% of their total water supply for San Francisco's, as well as selling water to many water districts in Silicon Valley (customers to SFPUC, organized under BAWSCA), providing family clean water to nearly 2.5 million people.

Even as the fire continues its expansion, many, many people are questioning the immediate and long-term impacts on the watershed of ash, fire retardant (well over 2 million gallons as of Sept 6) and soil entering the river via winds and rains over the next few years are being raised in relation to watershed health - soil, water and wildlife, as well as drinking and irrigation water quality. What will be the long term impacts on the Tuolumne River Watershed's capacity to restore the fire area's once vibrate-ecosystem, and what will be the short and long term impacts on the water supply for the SFPUC and their BAWSCA customers, as well as Turloch and Modesto, the two Irrigation Districts utilizing this river as supply?
Join Wholly H2O and a panel of experts to discuss this immediately critical issue.

Tuesday, 10/22/13 - 01:00 PM to 03:00 AM

Cost:  $11.34

San Francisco Public Library 100 Larkin St San Francisco

The Presidio Trust Board of Directors will hold a public meeting on Thursday, October 24, at 6:30 pm to take public comment on the three final proposals received for the Mid-Crissy Field Site. Comments may also be submitted online and to

Here is an important letter from Superintendent Frank Dean to the Board of Directors of the Presidio Trust on the subject of the Commissary project:
While the letter does not endorse any of the three finalists, it does present key factors and critical questions that the Trust should consider in making its decision.

Please register your opinion on this important topic.

Board of Directors, Presidio Trust
103 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94129

(JS:  I will supply bullet points on request for a letter if you are inclined to write, or to speak at the hearing.)

“The Original Mussel Beach: Restoring the California Floater Mussel in Mountain Lake.”
Saturday, November 2nd, 2013, 1:00PM – 2:00PM
NIVEEN ISMAIL, Stanford University

Niveen Ismail is a PhD student in Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.  Her research focuses on the use of mussels and clams to improve freshwater quality through the removal of pollutants and pathogens. 
Niveen will be discussing the importance of restoring native mussels in Mountain Lake. She will also be discussing her planned demonstration experiments at Mountain Lake and the improvements in water quality that can be achieved through the use of mussels.
Prior to her time at Stanford, Niveen obtained her MS in Biology from Temple University (2010) and partnered with the Philadelphia Zoo and Wetlands Institute (NJ) in completing her thesis examining the bioaccumulation of pollutants in diamondback terrapins, a locally threatened turtle species.  She also worked at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering for over 5 years after obtaining her BS in Chemical Engineering in 2003.
Meet at Mountain Lake playground at 12th Avenue
For more information, contact:
Jason Lisenby,


4.  Sutro Stewards- REI Ridge Trail Service Day

Looking for a reason to get outdoors and help out your favorite open space in San Francisco?  Sutro Stewards is proud to sponsor with REI to offer a major volunteer opportunity on the mountain. On Saturday, November 2nd, come join dozens of Stewards to help improve the Mt. Sutro Open Space in a big way. Each Bay Area REI store partners with a local organization to work on a section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail- the trail that will one day connect the entire Bay Area. We have plenty of work ready - so the more people that come out, the better!  Lunch will be provided by Chipotle Mexican Grill. We cannot do this without our amazing volunteers - sign up here. Advanced registration is required.  Sponsored by PG&E.
Saturday, November 2nd 
8:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Lunch provided by Chipotle Mexican Grill
Advanced registration required--sign up here


5.  No Wall on the Waterfront

Big New NO on B&C Endorsements
After a thorough and objective review, the non-partisan San Francisco League of Women Voters has come out OPPOSED to Propositions B and C.  Read the League of Women Voters No on B&C endorsement analysis here.

The civic organization San Francisco Beautiful, which has been deeply dedicated to protecting the special character and livability of San Francisco for over 60 years, has taken a strong position OPPOSING Propositions B and C.

The San Francisco Examiner - which previously supported the 8 Washington project - issued a strong editorial called "Ballot-Box Planning is Bad for SF" urging voters to vote NO on B and NO on C.  Read that editorial here.

Help us let voters know about these powerful NO on B&C endorsements:  come to 15 Columbus Ave. any day or evening this week to volunteer to make phone calls to voters, pick up materials to hand out around town, or get a precinct to walk.  Election Day is almost here!
Thanks to an outpouring of support from dozens of people all over San Francisco who stepped up over the last week with generous donations, we can keep our powerful 30 second No on B&C ad on television for another week!  This is great news.  Keep No on B&C on TV until Election Day by clicking here to donate right now.

Final Friday Fundraiser
Now with just two weeks to go until Election Day, we need to raise the funds for our final push to educate voters and get out the vote.  Many people have already voted but most will vote by mail in the final week or on Election Day.  With the 8 Washington developer and construction contractors expected to dump another $500,000 into their false and misleading ads on top of the $1.5 million they have already spent, we have to fight back.

Join us this Friday, October 25 at 6:00 pm at the No Wall on the Waterfront - No on B&C Headquarters at 15 Columbus Avenue for a Final Friday Fundraiser to push us to the finish line.  Talented, local artists have generously donated their art to encourage our committed supporters to contribute to our Election Push and Get Out the Vote efforts. Come this Friday to support the campaign and learn more about our final push to Election Day.

RSVP for the event by calling (415) 894-7008 or sending an email to


"Look beyond the particulars of these projects and what you 'll see is the bottom line mentality of the age, the mindset that empty or underutilized spaces were voids waiting to be filled"  John King, The Urbanist, Sep- Oct '13

Vote NO on B & C  -   Preserve waterfront height limits.    
Over time, by tapering heights downward towards the waterfront, public vistas and San Francisco’s beauty will be preserved for everyone---an economic asset that attracts 16 million visitors and $8.5 billion per year.
         Regarding this picture, Howard Wong says: Hi Jake, Does look a bit strange.  It's a close-up of a U-shaped high-rise apartment building with balconies.  In other words, looking at a big building.
SAN FRANCISCO HAS THWARTED DARWINIAN MARKET FORCES, which covet prime waterfront sites for dense development.  Big money is spent to tout such projects by the few who benefit financially---developers, contractors, consultants, public relations firms, city staff, politicians and groups that receive donations, fees, payments and wages.  Instead, citizen opposition, height limits and codes have preserved our Mediterranean village-like character.
SAN FRANCISCO’S WATERFRONT BATTLES  led to protective tapering height limits, which preserve public vistas and a Mediterranean village-like beauty for everyone.  Powerful special interests will attempt to override those codes---to gain extraordinary favors.  Each code exemption is used to justify subsequent height increases----a never-ending ratcheting upward.  Learning from history, we can better appreciate the waterfront’s esthetic and economic value. 
EXAMINER:  “Ballot-box planning is bad for S.F.; vote ‘no’ on Props. B and C” 

David Abrams (partial quote, heard on radio):  We need that which is other than ourselves--the tumbling of the rapids, the grip of gravity.  We have no distance from our technology.


6.  The fungus among us

West Nile virus, valley fever, hantavirus: Over the past decade, the West has seen an increase in some rare but scary illnesses. According to a September study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the U.S. places 11th globally for incidents of plague. Scientists also recently discovered that a deadly tropical fungus, which first appeared in the Pacific Northwest roughly a decade ago, has moved further into the U.S.

Worldwide, many tropical and subtropical diseases are spreading, thanks to climate change, biodiversity loss and easy global travel. Pathogen-carrying pests like mosquitoes thrive in warmer, wetter conditions, while biodiversity declines give diseases easier access to their preferred hosts.

Scientists know little about some of the West's nastiest diseases -- except that they are becoming more common. Some are easily dodged (avoid mouse droppings that might carry hantavirus); others are more insidious (lung fungus spreads easily through the air). Here are more facts about some strange -- and alarming -- Western diseases.

High Country News


Researchers Seek Scapegoat for Lyme Disease’s Startling Prevalence

What's to blame for the startling prevalence of Lyme disease?

By Shraddha Chakradhar

 (No, he's not the culprit; he's our possible savior.  We're the culprit.  JS)

The fear of ticks, and of the Lyme disease these bloodsuckers carry, is well founded: roughly 30,000 cases of Lyme are reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year. Because most cases go unreported, the true toll is more like 300,000, the CDC estimated in August. The new figure “confirms that Lyme disease is a tremendous public health problem,” Paul Mead, the CDC's chief of Lyme epidemiology and surveillance, said at the time.

As investigators struggle to explain Lyme's prevalence, some have shifted focus from the long-maligned deer that carry adult ticks to a smaller culprit. The white-footed mouse, which hosts immature ticks, is especially efficient at passing the Lyme-causing bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi from one generation of ticks to the next.

The mouse is also an opportunist that thrives where other species cannot. As human development fragments forests into smaller patches, white-footed mice increase in density even as other animals disappear. “It is an animal weed,” says Felicia Keesing, a professor of biology at Bard College. “Anything that causes a surge in the population of these mice is something to watch.” Predator removals can cause just such a surge. A 2012 study found that Lyme incidence in recent decades coincided not with deer abundance but with declines in the population of red foxes, which eat mice and other small mammals.

Testing ideas about Lyme in the wild is exceedingly difficult. As a result, some researchers contend that the best protection is a diverse animal population that controls or dilutes the effects of white-footed mice. Others argue that targeting deer, which allow ticks to reproduce, remains the better strategy. In the meantime, as researchers debate the relative importance of the species implicated in Lyme disease, B. burgdorferi is doing just fine.

"We have tried on a large scale the experiment of preferring ourselves to the exclusion of other creatures...And now, conscious of those results, we are tempted to correct them by denigrating ourselves...Finally, we must see that we cannot be made kind toward our fellow creatures except by the same qualities that make us kind toward our fellow humans."  Wendell Berry

In “Oil Sands May Irrevocably Tar the Climate,” David Biello reports on efforts to halt the Keystone XL pipeline. By allowing for increased heavy oil production in the Alberta tar sands, the pipeline would accelerate the buildup to the cumulative carbon-emissions threshold of one trillion metric tons, at which we will reach the feared “tipping point” of more than two degrees Celsius of warming. The article points out that emissions must drop by 2.5 percent a year, starting now, for us not to exceed that threshold by 2041. Such an annual reduction would mean cutting energy use from carbon in half in about 30 years. One possible way to get there is by cutting world economic output in half. No one will willingly do that. At least not until economic collapse occurs following runaway atmospheric heating.

Incredible innovation and cooperation among nations are required. That will happen only when the majority of the powerful people of the wealthy nations realize they breathe the same air as the weak and the poor. The history of human behavior makes that outcome seem most unlikely.

Tom Faulkner
via e-mail


Scientific American, November 1863:

Now Read This
“Don't take a newspaper; don't read one of any kind. If you hear persons discussing this or that great battle, ask stupidly what it all means. Emulate Rip Van Winkle; steep your senses in moral and mental oblivion, and pay no attention to what is passing about you. If you have children, don't take any paper for them; tell them ‘book larnin’ ain't no ‘count.’ In this way you may save two or three dollars—the price of a paper—and lose $500 or $5,000 by not being informed about markets, supply and demand, and a thousand other things as essential to an enterprising man as light and air.”


The Garden of Love
by William Blake

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not. writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

From The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. © Doubleday, 1988


9.  Who will protect Golden Gate Park?

(JS:  I print the following exchange from another conversation just to emphasize the lack of protection for Golden Gate Park.)

On Oct 11, 2013, at 3:45 PM, Robert Bakewell wrote:
Yesterday I took visitors thru Coon Hollow and was appalled and embarrassed by the rubbish and destruction,  and the loitering drug addicts who have taken over the Ghirardelli Picnic shelter near the Conservatory of Flowers.
( Meanwhile a gang of SFRPD gardeners are planting  ' petunias ' in front of the Conservatory ! )
Am I the only one who thinks this is unacceptable and that the City has the power to effectively deal with this problem ?
It's all very well to have Natural Areas but if scofflaws and the irresponsible are allowed to abuse the territory then what's the point !

I don’t know what to say, Rob.  All the years I worked in the park, plus the 23 years since I left, the practice was always window dressing.  Funds go to green lawns and colorful flower beds for those riding through the park, ignoring the basic park.  That is, after all, what most people see.  I used to rail about it while I was working there, to no effect.  The reason is clear:  That is what people notice, and managers must please the mayor and Supervisors; it pays off at budget hearing time.

There has never been an organized park constituency, someone speaking for GGP, defining issues and waving them before the public.  Neighborhoods do a good job for the neighborhood parks, but no one ever speaks up for Golden Gate Park.  (Kathy Howard and Ocean Edge is doing an excellent job, but that is necessarily on only one crucial focused issue; no one speaks for the park as a whole.)  The former Neighborhood Parks Council lived up to its name, and the succeeding SF Parks Alliance so far seems to indicate it doesn’t want to cross swords with McLaren Lodge.  (Am I wrong on this?)  

So, Rob, managers will continue to do what works, and that is pleasing City Hall--which is clueless about the basic park and its needs, and probably wouldn’t care if it did know.  Everything comes down to votes.

As we know, cops, firemen, and Muni don’t need an organized constituency; other interests do.  I don’t see matters improving until a GGP protection organization is born.


P.S.  I grieve over San Francisco’s deliberate ignoring of Wm Hammond Hall’s beautiful vision for the park.  (Hall was a protege of Frederick Law Olmsted, and Hall’s vision was pretty much Olmsted’s vision.  Hall, Olmsted, and McLaren are all turning over in their graves at what happened to their masterpiece.)  

Following Prop 13 (Jarvis-Gann) in 1978, City gardeners banded together for the first time ever and formed the Wm Hammond Hall Society.  We lasted about three years and made some waves, but were neophytes in terms of politics and organization; we made mistakes and lacked the staying power it takes to accomplish much.  It’s very late to start protecting the park--but better late than never.

Please ignore what you've just read

Many of the stories on this page may be false, according to a paper published in the Public Library of Science Medicine.  John Ioannidis, from the University of Ioannina in Greece, has analysed the research papers appearing in the open-access journal and found that, over time, many studies are overturned by subsequent evidence.  He found that this was because research studies often tend to be small.  "Research findings are more likely to be true in scientific fields that undertake large studies, such as randomised controlled trials in cardiology, where several thousand subjects may be used," he writes.

Guardian Weekly 9 Sept 05

Problems with scientific research
How science goes wrong
Scientific research has changed the world. Now it needs to change itself
Oct 19th 2013 The Economist

A SIMPLE idea underpins science: “trust, but verify”. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better.  But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity.

Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 “landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties.

What a load of rubbish

Even when flawed research does not put people’s lives at risk—and much of it is too far from the market to do so—it squanders money and the efforts of some of the world’s best minds. The opportunity costs of stymied progress are hard to quantify, but they are likely to be vast. And they could be rising.

One reason is the competitiveness of science. In the 1950s, when modern academic research took shape after its successes in the second world war, it was still a rarefied pastime. The entire club of scientists numbered a few hundred thousand. As their ranks have swelled, to 6m-7m active researchers on the latest reckoning, scientists have lost their taste for self-policing and quality control. The obligation to “publish or perish” has come to rule over academic life. Competition for jobs is cut-throat. Full professors in America earned on average $135,000 in 2012—more than judges did. Every year six freshly minted PhDs vie for every academic post. Nowadays verification (the replication of other people’s results) does little to advance a researcher’s career. And without verification, dubious findings live on to mislead.

Careerism also encourages exaggeration and the cherry-picking of results. In order to safeguard their exclusivity, the leading journals impose high rejection rates: in excess of 90% of submitted manuscripts. The most striking findings have the greatest chance of making it onto the page. Little wonder that one in three researchers knows of a colleague who has pepped up a paper by, say, excluding inconvenient data from results “based on a gut feeling”. And as more research teams around the world work on a problem, the odds shorten that at least one will fall prey to an honest confusion between the sweet signal of a genuine discovery and a freak of the statistical noise. Such spurious correlations are often recorded in journals eager for startling papers. If they touch on drinking wine, going senile or letting children play video games, they may well command the front pages of newspapers, too.

Conversely, failures to prove a hypothesis are rarely even offered for publication, let alone accepted. “Negative results” now account for only 14% of published papers, down from 30% in 1990. Yet knowing what is false is as important to science as knowing what is true. The failure to report failures means that researchers waste money and effort exploring blind alleys already investigated by other scientists.

The hallowed process of peer review is not all it is cracked up to be, either. When a prominent medical journal ran research past other experts in the field, it found that most of the reviewers failed to spot mistakes it had deliberately inserted into papers, even after being told they were being tested.

If it’s broke, fix it

All this makes a shaky foundation for an enterprise dedicated to discovering the truth about the world. What might be done to shore it up? One priority should be for all disciplines to follow the example of those that have done most to tighten standards. A start would be getting to grips with statistics, especially in the growing number of fields that sift through untold oodles of data looking for patterns. Geneticists have done this, and turned an early torrent of specious results from genome sequencing into a trickle of truly significant ones.

Ideally, research protocols should be registered in advance and monitored in virtual notebooks. This would curb the temptation to fiddle with the experiment’s design midstream so as to make the results look more substantial than they are. (It is already meant to happen in clinical trials of drugs, but compliance is patchy.) Where possible, trial data also should be open for other researchers to inspect and test.

The most enlightened journals are already becoming less averse to humdrum papers. Some government funding agencies, including America’s National Institutes of Health, which dish out $30 billion on research each year, are working out how best to encourage replication. And growing numbers of scientists, especially young ones, understand statistics. But these trends need to go much further. Journals should allocate space for “uninteresting” work, and grant-givers should set aside money to pay for it. Peer review should be tightened—or perhaps dispensed with altogether, in favour of post-publication evaluation in the form of appended comments. That system has worked well in recent years in physics and mathematics. Lastly, policymakers should ensure that institutions using public money also respect the rules.

Science still commands enormous—if sometimes bemused—respect. But its privileged status is founded on the capacity to be right most of the time and to correct its mistakes when it gets things wrong. And it is not as if the universe is short of genuine mysteries to keep generations of scientists hard at work. The false trails laid down by shoddy research are an unforgivable barrier to understanding.

It was on this day in 1879 that the inventor Thomas Edison finally struck upon the idea for a workable electric light. People had been trying to make electric lights since the 1820s to replace kerosene and gas lamps, but they had chosen the wrong material for the filament: platinum. And Edison tried carbonized cotton thread, carbon filament that worked much better. He later improved the design with a tungsten filament that lasted longer and glowed brighter.

One of the effects of the invention of the electric light is that people sleep less than they once did. Before 1910, people slept an average of nine hours a night; since then, it's about seven and a half. Sleep researchers have shown in the laboratory that if people are deprived of electric light, they will go back to the nine-hour-a-night schedule.

Writer's Almanac

(I'm getting near the 9-hour sleep now, even with electric lights.  JS)

On the other hand….

FEATURES: Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime
Research on naps, meditation, nature walks and the habits of exceptional artists and athletes reveals how mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity 


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