1. One out of 15 humans who have ever lived is alive today
2. Job opportunity in the Presidio
3. Sacred Economics Today, Palo Alto talk Dec 18/restore Sausal Creek Dec 17
4. Christmas: give the gift of nature--Bay Nature
5. Bullfrogs banned in Santa Cruz!/frog birthday cards for gifts
6. US Fish & Wildlife Service rejects SF's Sharp Park Golf Course plans
7. Give the gift of conservation: SaveNature.org - Adopt An Acre
8. Appeal for enhanced native oyster monitoring/the Black-tailed Jackrabbit
9. LTEs re frivolous SF Examiner story
10. The quality of mercy...droppeth as the gentle rain
11. Great 18th century scientist, Emilie du Chatelet - two eye-opening book reviews
12. St Thomas Aquinas: We are fields before each other
13. Doings in the bird world
14. Let's hear it for pumpkin/drinking wine may boost spine's bone density
15. Notes & Queries: Do only humans keep pets?/Any creatures besides us enslave their own species?
The 7 billionth human is born. Out of all the humans who have ever lived, 1 in 15 is alive today.
(Sierra, Jan-Feb 2012)
Destroying species is like tearing pages out of an unread book, written in a language humans hardly know how to read, about the place where they live.
Rolston Holmes III, American philosopher (1985)
The only thing more powerful than learning from experience, is not learning from experience. Archibald MacLeish
Anthropocene, n. An unofficial term designating the geologic epoch in which we live, the "Age of Man". Because humans are having widespread effects on the planet that can be measured in the geologic record, the International Commission on Stratigraphy is investigating whether the current Holocene epoch should end and an Anthropocene epoch begin. Scientists debated the concept in October at a meeting in Minneapolis of the Geological Society of America. Among the physical arguments for the switch: Radioactive elements from atomic bomb tests have spread through the environment, carbon dioxide is building up in the atmosphere and dams have trapped huge amounts of sediment.
Science News 3 December 2011
(That assessment sounds conservative until you remember that we're talking geological epochs. Biologists have more than sufficient reason for recognizing a new epoch, given the massive species extinctions that already happened, plus an untold number that soon will. The course of evolution has already undergone a massive shift because of us. JS)
2. Job opportunity to work in the Presidio
Sacred Economics Today:
A Talk by Charles Eisenstein
Sunday, December 18
5:30 p.m. (Community potluck)
7:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. (Talk)
2121 Staunton Court, Palo Alto
Cost: Free (suggested donation of $15 to cover speaker-related costs.)
"Eco-" is the root of "economics" and "ecology," and author Charles Eisenstein will share his insights about the connection between them. How does money relate to real wealth? Can a transformation in how we view money lead to a change in how we live on this Earth? Join this thought-provoking discussion to explore how you can become a more effective change agent.
For more information about this event, please view the event flyer. This event is co-sponsored by Acterra.
Help Us Restore Sausal Creek!
Saturday, December 17
9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
765 Portola Road, Portola Valley
(in front of the Town Center and library)
Join us for a few hours of planting native plants on the banks of our local creeks! Help us improve habitat for native insects, birds, fish and other animals as we work to help restore the "bottom of the food chain" -- our native plants that support all other native life.
For more information and to sign up, please visit the Acterra Stewardship Events website: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2341724160/eorg
With its top-notch writing and compelling photographs, Bay Nature magazine takes you into the heart of our wild areas and engages your sense of wonder. The magazine is a project of Bay Nature Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring people to explore and protect the diverse natural heritage of our region, so your gift will be treasured both for the pleasure it brings and for the difference it makes!
Share your love for local nature -- for a very special price!
>> Give a one-year gift subscription for only $17.95.
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Or call 1-888-4-BAYNAT (1-888-422-9628).
We'll send a gift card to your recipient now, and then every three months, we'll send them a beautiful magazine, printed locally on recycled paper, with no plastic wrapping.
This offer is good until December 31st, 2011. Your recipients will get our January-March 2012 issue, which includes stories about volunteers pitching in to save state parks and scientists getting down into the mud to study our local wetlands.
5. Frogs, oh yeh
Bullfrogs: Political Victory in Santa Cruz
On Tuesday the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to initiate actions that will likely soon make Santa Cruz the nation's first county to ban the importation, sale, release and possession of American Bullfrogs, one of the world's worst invasive species. Bullfrogs eat native wildlife and spread chytrid fungus. The Board will meet for a public hearing on the issue February 28th, and we encourage all Santa Cruz citizens to attend.
Save The Frogs' campaign to ban the importation of American Bullfrogs into California was featured in Wednesday's San Jose Mercury News and Santa Cruz Sentinel, as on Oakland's KTVU-2.
Read the San Jose Mercury News Article
Brand New Happy Birthday Cards
These are birthday cards for any frog lover! The cards feature a Fringed Treefrog (Litoria eucnemis) from Papua New Guinea hanging out on a leaf in the rainforest.
Order a set of cards here! SaveTheFrogs.com
Visit SaveTheFrogs website to view the delightful work of art contestants: http://www.savethefrogs.com/art/index.html
6. Federal Agency Rejects San Francisco's Sharp Park Plans
Groups call on Mayor to Support Sharp Park Legislation, Address Mounting Problems
SAN FRANCISCO— A central element of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department’s plan to continue golf operations at Sharp Park Golf Course was rejected by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service last week.
Story at wildequity.org
Give the Gift of Conservation!
For the perfect holiday gift, Adopt an Acre of Costa Rica Rainforest, Micronesian Coral Reef or migratory mammal African desert habitat in your friend’s name to protect nature for future generations and ensure the survival of millions of species of animals and plants. Along with a personalized Adopt an Acre deed, select from our array of gifts: See's assorted chocolates, a nature print or box of nature cards. For more info and to order now go to SaveNature.Org.
8. The Watershed Project - thewatershedproject.org
Are the Salmon Knocking?
An Appeal for Enhanced Oyster Monitoring
We need your help in our efforts to determine if we are bringing back native oysters in a sustainable way. Are we increasing species diversity? Are we helping salmon and other species?
What's in Your Watershed?
The Black-Tailed Jackrabbit
Though this species enjoys a good nap in the warm afternoon hours, it is always ready for danger. The black-tailed jackrabbit's ability to look so cute and yet be so tough makes this hare easy to admire and adore.
(About 20 years ago I saw a jackrabbit on Bayview Hill, but not since. At around same time Giants fans were treated to a fox (don't remember whether the red fox or the native gray) and her kits traipse across the ball field at a break in the game. JS)
9. LTEs, San Francisco Examiner
(Re a frivolous one-sided story of the 14th: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/peninsula/2011/12/san-francisco-s-long-term-plan-natural-habitats-rankles-critics)
I see that your article included not a single quote or reference from a scientist, an environmentalist, a conservationist, nor a representative of a youth or children's organization. The Recreation and Park Department is not properly equipped to go it alone at answering to some of the mythologies perpetrated by the other folks you interviewed for your story.
As a result of the selection of sources, the public is getting a single side of this story. Your article makes no mention - in any real detail - of why RPD is planning to take the actions analyzed in the DEIR.
The single greatest myth is this idea that people are no longer going be able to use the parks. There is but one trail in the entire city of San Francisco, including throughout the GGNRA, where dogs on leash are not allowed. And there are no natural areas whatsoever that do not have trails criss-crossing through them. If there's a natural area without a trail, it's due to safety. It's that simple. The Rocks in Golden Gate Heights is the only example I can think of.
How can we ameliorate this imbalance of your story?
In your story of the 14th you talked only to people hostile to the City's Natural Areas Management Plan. Why? The story was short on information and consisted mostly of polemics from people with agendas who, legitimately or not, feel threatened by the Natural Areas Program (NAP).
For brevity I will focus on only one issue: the eucalyptus plantations on Mt Davidson. Although the trees are not native, much of the public values them, so the NAP plans to keep them, but in a healthy state. Public attention should be drawn to the fact that in the ivy/blackberry understory the trees are unable to regenerate from seed. Thus, as trees topple from their heavy burden of ivy climbing 200-feet into the crown, there is nothing to replace them; they are in deep trouble. The area is in process of becoming a tangled mess of ivy and blackberry atop fallen trees. Tree defenders should be demanding that these groves be managed. How many trees are to be cut is not the issue--1600 out of 11,000 is a very small number in any event. Attacking the NAP does nothing to address the deep and urgent need. The public is the loser.
The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
The Merchant of Venice, Portia to Shylock, Act IV, Scene 1
11. A great 18th century scientist, Emilie du Chatelet
Excerpt from book review in The Economist, 20 May 2006
Love and the Enlightenment
The woman behind the man
Passionate Minds: The Great Enlightenment Love Affair, by David Bodanis
Emilie du Chatelet was a lot cleverer than her great lover, Voltaire
Everyone, just about, has heard of Voltaire, and most of it is flattering. Freethinker, dramatist, poet, scientist, economist, spy, politician and successful speculator to boot, he embodies the intellectual breakthrough of the Enlightenment--the single biggest leap in mankind's understanding of itself and the world.
Almost nobody has heard of the woman with whom he shared most of his life, Emilie du Chatelet. But you can make a good case that she was a more rigorous thinker, a better writer, a more systematic scientist, a formidable mathematician, a wizard gambler, a more faithful lover and a much kinder and deeper person. And she did all this despite being born a woman in a society where female education was both scant and flimsy...One reason was male chauvinism. Her best work was done at a time when women simply did not feature in the scientific mainstream: Immanuel Kant said that counting Emilie as a great thinker was as preposterous as imagining a bearded woman.
...Born in 1706, Emilie had three pieces of great good fortune in her life. The first was to be born with a remarkable brain. Her greatest work was to translate the Principia, the path-breaking work on mathematics by the secretive Cambridge brainbox, Isaac Newton...she did not just translate his writing from Latin to French; she also expressed Newton's obscure geometric proofs using the more accessible language of calculus. And she teased out of his convoluted web of theorems the crucial implications for the study of gravity and energy. That laid the foundation for the next century's discoveries in theoretical physics. The use of the square of the speed of light, c2, in Einstein's most famous equation, E=mc2 is directly traceable to her work.
JS comment: That c2 is a biggie; after years of contemplating the mysteriousness of the nature of light and the profound role that the speed of light plays in the working of the universe, and why its speed SQUARED should figure mathematically into the shaping of the universe and its events (eg, Einstein's E=mc2)--that, I have not begun to understand. This Emilie du Chatelet sounds like quite a woman. I must delve into this a little deeper.
From Science, reprinted in Guardian Weekly 1 August 2006:
The scientist whom history forgot / David Bodanis uncovers the research of an 18th-century Frenchwoman
(DuChatelet) had been raised in Paris in the 1710s, growing up in a townhouse of more than 30 rooms overlooking the Tuileries gardens. Her mother had been appalled at having a child who refused to stay politely at children's parties, or to gossip about clothes, but who instead loved listening in when educated guests - especially astronomers - came to visit.
Du Chatelet's father, luckily, doted on his sole daughter. He kept the mother from sending her off to a convent, as was regularly threatened; he hired tutors to teach her Latin, Greek and mathematics. At Versailles, where her black curly hair and rapid-fire speech won her admirers, he merely sighed when she used her skill at mathematics to win at cards, and then used the money to buy more books, rather than more clothes. But he helped her, with family money, to arrange a marriage with a wealthy army officer who - luckily - would be away with his regiment most of the time.
In her late 20s, after an affair with the individual who inspired the character Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses (she was the only partner he had who ever willingly dumped him), she met the poet and writer Voltaire, then in his 40s. He was delighted with her youth and intelligence:
Why did you only reach me so late?
What happened to my life before?
I'd hunted for love, but found only mirages.
She teased him for that, but was thankful that she had finally found someone with whom she could let her intelligence pour forth.
Together she and Voltaire created something of a modern research institute in an isolated chateau they had rebuilt in eastern France. The chateau was like a berthed spaceship from the future. Visitors from intellectual centres in Italy and Basle and Paris came to scoff, then stayed, and became awed by what they saw.
I found accounts of Du Chatelet and Voltaire at breakfast, reading from the letters they received - from the mathematician Bernoulli, and Frederick the Great of Prussia (earlier there had been correspondence with Bolingbroke and Jonathan Swift) - and in their quick teasing at what they heard, coming up with fresh ideas. Then they returned to their separate wings of the house and competed to elaborate.
This is where the great problem with her subsequent reputation began, for Voltaire wasn't much of a scientist, but Du Chatelet was a skilled theoretician. Once, working secretly at night at the chateau over just one intense summer month, hushing servants to not spoil the surprise for Voltaire, she came up with insights on the nature of light that set the stage for the future discovery of photography, as well as of infrared radiation. It was a humiliating contrast for Voltaire, and especially grating when she began to probe into the still recent mathematical physics of Sir Isaac Newton.
Voltaire could not follow any of the maths, but on political grounds he wanted to believe that Newton was perfect in all respects. Du Chatelet, however, began a research programme that went beyond Newton and led to her glimpsing notions that would lead later researchers to the idea of conservation of energy fundamental to all subsequent physics. For that, and other reasons, she and Voltaire broke up: he was immensely proud, and couldn't bear to have as a lover someone who could so clearly see his weaknesses.
Now though, in the early 1740s, while Voltaire was in his imperious sulk, she tried to insist that she would be fine without him; indeed, she wrote that it was preposterous to think that an intelligent woman needed a man to be happy. And then, when she was 41 - in 1748 - she met a fit young poet at a provincial court, and fell in love with him. At first he loved her back, but then he got scared, for he knew he couldn't keep up with her or her sophisticated friends. He became cruel to her, and got her pregnant.
At that time it was a death sentence to be pregnant in one's 40s. Voltaire went back, out of friendship, to support Du Chatelet. She had always worked at night, but now began staying up later and later to finish the manuscript on Newton that she hoped might be her claim to immortality. Voltaire wrote that she wasn't angry, just sad to have to leave before she was ready. She finished her text at the end of August 1749, a few days later she gave birth, and within a week she - and the child - were dead.
Almost immediately after Du Chatelet's death, sharp-tongued gossips began to disparage her work. Then, as her insights entered the scientific mainstream, the idea that a woman had created these thoughts was considered so odd that even scientists who did use her ideas came to forget who had originated them.
In the late 1930s, better scholarship brought at least some of her achievements back to life, but in 1957 Nancy Mitford wrote a biography of Voltaire that set historians on the wrong path again: it painted Du Chatelet as a cut-out character who had dashing adventures, but for no discernible reasons.
Emilie du Chatelet deserves to be brought back to life, in all her stumbling excitement and fears.
David Bodanis is the author of Passionate Minds: The Great Enlightenment Love Affair, published by Little, Brown
Guardian Weekly 1 August 2006
WE ARE FIELDS BEFORE EACH OTHER
How is it they live for eons in such harmony -
the billions of stars -
when most men can barely go a minute
without declaring war in their mind against someone they know.
There are wars where no one marches with a flag,
though that does not keep casualties
Our hearts irrigate this earth.
We are fields before
How can we live in harmony?
First we need to
we are all madly in love
with the same
~ St. Thomas Aquinas ~
(Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West by Daniel Ladinsky)
13. Doings in the bird world
Yesterday I was at Shollenberger and observed 5 0r 6 turkey vultures eating a duck. (Interesting how they marched around the little corpse taking turns.) About 20 feet away a hawk - perhaps a Coopers - watched from behind a nearby bush. Suddenly the hawk swooped into the group of TVs, scattering them. They came back but the hawk struck again this time grabbing the duck, flying a little way and then dropping the duck and flying off. All of the vultures left, except one who continued feasting. Perhaps a deal was made beforehand?
Birds Slam into Walmart Parking Lot
Thousands of migratory birds expecting to take rest in a body of water crashed into a Walmart parking lot in Utah on Monday night. Environmental crews scrambled to clean up the dead birds and rescue some 2,000 straggling survivors, which were then released in nearby bodies of water. Local wildlife expert Teresa Griffin said the birds were “just everywhere” and that the clean-up effort had been “nonstop.” She added that bad weather conditions likely confused the flock of grebes, a ducklike bird making its way south for the winter. “The storm clouds over the top of the city lights made it look like a nice, flat body of water,” Griffin told local reporters.
(Where'n hell were the cars when we need them? JS)
Let's hear it for pumpkin
Pumpkin probably has more of a healthful phytonutrient called beta-carotene than any other food...Our bodies can convert
beta-carotene, a carotenoid and antioxidant, into vitamin A--a nutrient essential for good eyesight and proper growth.
(Carotenoids are responsible for the orange hues of pumpkins and carrots and the deep reds of tomatoes. Some carotenoids are
thought to help reduce incidence of cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and particular kinds of cancer.) Mangoes are another good
source, but they are not always available.
Fromi Agricultural Research October 2005
For Daily Use
Drinking wine may boost the spine's bone density. A British research team analyzed the diets of 1,232 pairs of postmenopausal female twins in the United Kingdom and compared the data with the women's bone mineral densities. The researchers found that women who drank wine had substantially higher spinal bone density than nondrinkers. Beer or liquor didn't impart this benefit, nor did other dietary factors such as protein or vegetable consumption, the scientists report in the November American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A traditional English diet high in fried foods, beans, red meats, savory pies and cruciferous vegetable was associated with lower hip bone mineral density.
Science News 3 December 2011
15. Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly
Santa Claus waves goodbye as he and his reindeer leave Finnish Lapland to meet children from all the world. Photograph: Martti Kainulainen/EPA
Do only humans keep pets?
Giraffes and other large animals look after tick birds just as humans used to care for dogs to hunt and herd and cats to deter rats and mice.
Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
• No. A water buffalo I once knew became very friendly with an ox-pecker that visited him daily. Symbiosis I think they called it.
Dick Hedges, Nairobi, Kenya
• Sharks have a known affinity for keeping pet pilot fish.
David Tucker, Halle, Germany
• My cat has a pet peeve. I won't let her out at night.
Aaron M Fine, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, US
• No, pets keep humans. Just as you don't own property: property owns you.
Edward Black, Pauanui, New Zealand
• As my cat was pawing through GW, she dictated the reply: "Cats do. Their pets are humans."
Alexandra Chapman, Paris, France
• No. I have seen several pets obviously kept by inhumans.
Daan Zwick, Rochester, New York, US
Ants just might be nicer
Do any creatures besides humans and ants deliberately enslave their own species?
Good to know we're right up there with ants.
John Benseman, Auckland, New Zealand
• Kookaburras and white-winged choughs practise a form of domestic slavery. Their young are expected to contribute to raising the newest hatchlings of a couple of seasons before they are free to mate and breed.
Ursula Nixon, Bodalla, NSW, Australia
• Honeybees of the worker cast are true slaves within the species.
L Whitten, Christchurch, New Zealand
A pint of pale ale, please
Why is it unacceptable to go beyond the pale?
My OED describes a pale as "a pointed piece of wood for fencing"; "a boundary". So, the ignominy would come from crossing the picket line.
Anthony Walter, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
• There is no point in going beyond the pale because the best Guinness is found in Dublin, not the back of beyond.
James Carroll, Geneva, Switzerland
• A palaeontologist might be able to dig up an answer.
Margaret Wyeth, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
A little light on the top
Is there more or less facial hair on males these days than in, say, the 60s?
My male Welsh terrier has the same amount of facial hair as did his male ancestors in the 60s.
Reiner Jaakson, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
• Less. After 60, men couldn't care less what other people think about them.
Shaun Davies, St Peters, NSW, Australia
Rubbing two sticks is next
Why do Londoners smoke?
Because they're difficult to light in damp conditions.
Roger Morrell, Perth, Western Australia
What ever happened to Tony Blair? Is he still alive?
Jake Sigg, San Francisco, California, US
What is the opposite of micro-management?
Carrie Brown, Toronto, Canada