In the beginning this blog was centered on San Francisco parks and open space issues with special emphasis on natural areas and natural history. Over time it began to range into other areas and topics. As you can see, it is eclectic, as I interlace it with topics of interest to me.

I welcome feedback: just click this link to reach me.

Monday, May 28, 2012


1.   Memorial Day Sonnet
2.   RecPark & Planning Commissions OK soccer fields
3.   California Clean Money Campaign - things you can do
4.   What do we owe Greece?
5.   Feedback:  Forest Alliance/Pacifica Tribune
6.   Dirt: After Dark Adventure at the Exploratorium/Insect Discovery Lab/VIP Tours
7.   Banks rip off safe deposit holders
8.   Presidio plant, wildlife making comeback
9.   Join Audubon at Pier 94 June 2
10. California tarantula on Mt Davidson
11.  Cutworms,!
12.  Best gift: pepper for soldiers/enjoy novel sport of whale shooting
13.  Evolution helps to explain why parties are so tribal and politics so divisive
14.  Pedestrian paradise - Jakarta :-)
15.  Wilfred Owen - Dulce et Decorum Est/Anthem For Doomed Youth
16.  A last chance to vote for Sutro Stewards in nationwide competition
17.  Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a songbird will come

1.  Memorial Day Sonnet

We're here to honor those who went to war
Who did not wish to die, but did die, grievously,
In eighteen sixty-one and in two-thousand four
Though they were peaceable as you or me.
Young and innocent, they knew nothing of horror ---
Singers and athletes, and all in all well-bred.
Their sergeants, mercifully, made them into warriors,
And at the end, they were moving straight ahead.
As we look at these headstones, row on row on row,
Let us see them as they were, laughing and joking,
On that bright irreverent morning long ago.
And once more, let our hearts be broken.
      God have mercy on them for their heroic gift.
      May we live the good lives they would have lived.

 ~ Garrison Keillor ~

(A Prairie Home Companion, May 29, 2004)

How would you describe the difference between modern war and modern industry -- between, say, bombing and strip mining, or between chemical warfare and chemical manufacturing? The difference seems to be only that in war the victimization of humans is directly intentional and in industry it is "accepted" as a "trade-off". -Wendell Berry, farmer, author (b.1934)

"A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."
     James Madison

May 24th Joint Hearing Results
Planning Commission and Recreation and Park Commission
vote to destroy the western end of Golden Gate Park.
With a few, quick votes, on May 24th, 2012,  the SF Planning Commission and the Recreation and Park Commission approved the Beach Chalet soccer fields project.  This project will result in the destruction of the western end of Golden Gate Park by paving over 7 acres of grassy playing field and habitat with artificial turf and installing 150,000 watts of night lighting, right next to Ocean Beach.  This vote was arrived at in the face of the Departments receiving over 1,000 e-mails opposing the project.
There were two sets of votes:
1.     The Planning Commission approved the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), despite the submission of over 300 pages of arguments and documentation that the EIR is incomplete and inadequate.  We are appalled that the Planning Commission did not uphold either the California Environmental Quality Act or the California Coastal Commission regulations.
2.    The Recreation and Park Commission ignored the pleas by parents, environmentalists, neighborhood activists, and child advocates alike to protect our scarce parkland from development.  They ignored the win-win solution of using the funding wisely to fix up other playing fields with safe artificial turf while preserving the parkland in Golden Gate Park.  In their rush to support one user-group, they rode roughshod over the basic precepts of the Golden Gate Park Master Plan.  This is the beginning of the end of our parkland.
It is a sad day for Golden Gate Park, when the departments charged with stewardship of our parks decide to destroy our crown jewel.
SF Ocean Edge is considering filing an Appeal to the Board of Supervisors.  Legal advice costs money.  If you believe that Golden Gate Park is the wrong location for 7 acres of artificial turf and 150,000 watts of night lighting, let us know by joining us and donate to protect Golden Gate Park!
There are other locations for this project -- but there is only one Golden Gate Park!


3.  Joan Downey:

Last week I attended a meeting about Fair Elections funding to secure the passage of full public financing for local, state, and federal elections and the Disclosure Act (AB 1648) which will give the voters information about who is spending money to try to persuade them to vote for or against a particular candidate or proposition. 

A San Francisco Working Group ( is working in association with the California Clean Money Campaign ( to get this legislation passed.

Disclosure Act (AB 1648) is coming up for a vote soon at the State level.
• Lets voters know who really is paying for political ads — on the ads themselves.
• Political television ads will have to clearly list their three largest funders and their logos.
• Applies to all kinds of political ads, including television, radio, print advertising, and websites.

See  for more information. Attached and below are things you can do to help get this passed.


4.  What do we owe Greece?

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

JS:  Readers of this newsletter know I am enamored of the ancient Greeks:  Their invention of democracy, the jury system, theater (both comedy and tragedy), poetry, history, philosophy (started by Plato), various sciences, and, and, and.... 

Oh, and western civilization. Without them we would not even exist, and the world's course would have been very different.  Possibly civilization as we know it would never have been developed.

So, although modern Greece is just another nation making its way in the degraded industrial, consumerist world--and part of me shares the view of Angela Merkel and the Germans regarding Greece's present predicament--still I cannot shake off the deep feelings I have about this land and its people. 

Yes, modern Greeks are not quite the same people, but an incident from 1941 carries a powerful reminder that a bit of history lives on.  Germans in 1941 ordered a Greek caretaker to lower the Greek flag atop the Acropolis and replace it with the swastika.  He lowered the flag, wrapped himself in it, and, before they could stop him, threw himself off the cliff.  The Germans may not have known it at the time, but the incident had a powerful galvanizing effect on the people, giving rise to nothing but trouble for the Germans thereafter.  In this incident I hear echoes of Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis, where the overwhelmingly outnumbered Greeks humiliated the immense Persian army and fleet. 

Although their motto at the time was "everything in moderation", that didn't apply to  fighting for their freedom, which they valued above all else.  They went flat out and gave their all.  We know them now as the inventors of civilization, but at the time they were known first and foremost as fighters.

Am I being too sympathetic for today's Greeks?  Possibly.  With any other people, the fiscal conservative in me would come out.  I'm glad I'm not the one who has the final say in this matter.


Commentator Angelo Tsarouchas puts a price tag on what Greece has given the world.

Marketplace for Thursday, February 23, 2012
Kai Ryssdal: I don't know if at this point in the global business cycle, the phrase "mild recession" is going to calm anybody's economic nerves. But that's the way the European Union sees 2012 shaping up on the continent. Shrinking economic growth overall -- in part because of the various debt crises we all know and love so well.

Commentator Angelo Tsarouchas is first generation Greek-Canadian. He says, yeah, Greece has its debts -- but payback, oh you know what that's like.

Angelo Tsarouchas: Everywhere I go lately, everyone keeps asking me about Greece: "What's going on with Greece? They owe billions of dollars. They're not paying their debts. What's wrong with you Greeks?"

Whoa. Stop right there. Let's talk about something that the Greeks haven't brought up. Yeah, residuals and royalties for what the Greeks have given the world.

And you're asking me, "What have the Greeks given the world?"

OK, let's start with -- um, the English dictionary. Something like 80,000 words in the English dictionary are Greek-based. Without Greek, there wouldn't even be the word "economy" or "money." Yeah, look it up. Of course, Greeks also gave us words like "crisis" and "chaos," but whatever. That doesn't matter.

And you know you couldn't even get sick without Greek. I'm talking about all the medical terms. Yeah. Laryngitis, dermatitis, nausea. You know, herpes. Well, that was Hermes brother. But he fooled around a lot.

The way I figure it, all those words have to be worth like a million dollars a pop, so we're talking $80 billion here.

Let's see, what else did the Greeks give us? Oh, democracy! I mean it needs a few upgrades now and then. But democracy's gotta be worth... $200 billion. I mean, c'mon! It's your right to vote we're talking about here. And we'll even throw in Plato and Socrates and Aristophanes and all those other guys that just kept blabbing on forever and ever.

OK, what else? Oh yeah, and let's not forget the Olympics. Yeah, you know -- shotput, javelin, 4x100 relay, all that kind of stuff. That's worth -- flat rate -- $250 billion. Not to mention marathon. That's right. Whenever all you skinny, in-shape people get up early in the morning and start running around for 26.2 miles, that came from Greece. I mean, the guy died in the end, but that's irregardless. We'll throw that in with the Olympics package.

Greece should get its royalties and residuals back. The way I tallied it up, Greece is due $530 billion. We owe, what, $430 billion? So there's a surplus net to the Greeks of $100 billion. Why don't we call it square, right there. Yeah, that's good. You guys keep it as a tip. Thank you, you can thanks the Greeks for that and the world, too.


Alternatively, LTE in The Economist:

SIR – Echoing the sentiments of my co-peripheralist in Dublin (Letters, May 12th), I too am frustrated by the widespread misuse of the term “austerity”. It must surely seem “austere” to cut by 30% the pension of a Greek civil servant who was undoubtedly counting on that income to live out the next 25 years of his life. But when the specific pension in question is, for example, the monthly €1,800 ($2,300) paid to a retired assistant garbage-truck driver in the Peloponnese (I kid you not), perhaps some other term would be more appropriate. The new pension level of €1,200 is still 50% above the starting wage of a schoolteacher.
Austerity, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Alexander Singer


5.  Feedback

On May 27, 2012, at 1:29 PM, Jack Barry wrote:
...about the Forest Alliance.

He says they caused UCSF to lose a FEMA grant for forest management, a few years ago, by their intentional actions,  threats of litigation, and that now UCSF is scouring  around, looking for ways to do forest management....

He further says that Cole Valley Assoc and Forest Knolls Assoc,..have seen through the BS put out by Forest Alliance....

You need to have documentation about these points in your arsenal, or website......
I did say in my talk at SHARP that Forest Alliance caused UC to lose its FEMA funding, because FEMA doesn't fund projects that are controversial.

I hope what you said about CVIA and Forest Knolls is true; I have found that people lacking counter-balancing information tend to believe what they hear.  However, the West of Twin Peaks Central Council swallowed SFFA's distorted view of events hook, line, and sinker.  So far as I could tell, there wasn't a single one of the delegates that didn't believe them, and after the SFFA presentation the applause was vigorous.  I thought the presentation a pitiful effort--lacking any grounding in facts, and patently propagandistic.

The Council seemed an unfriendly bunch to begin with, and they insisted that only delegates could talk or ask questions--as if Mt Davidson doesn't belong to all of us.  Presentations were limited to ten minutes, hardly enough to cover this large and complex topic, nor was there adequate time for questions from the audience.  But they had their minds made up long before the meeting began, so it's just as well that they didn't draw it out any more.  Afterwards, I was mentally down for two or three days--not so much because of their hostility to the Natural Areas Program, which I knew beforehand, so much as their disrespect to views different from their own, and their lack of respect for the democratic process. 

When I hear this kind of insensate, unreasoning attitude toward government, I wonder if they ever give thought to its ultimate effect.  It's as if they are having fun beating up on government, belittling it and holding it in disrespect.  What is the consequence?  You don't get better government--you eventually may get dictatorship.  That is why I was depressed after this grisly meeting.

hi Jake, re item 4. Pacifica Tribune -

We can thank the Pacifica Tribune for getting local and regional sports and weather correctly printed, in a timely manner.  We can also thank them for printing opinions as facts, editiorializing as reporting and personal attacks. On many environmental stories we see only one point of view: that of the developers.  All in the name of serving the community. 

Should they go out of business? The bigger question is how have they lasted this long? 

~ 25+ year Pacifica resident.

Dirt: After Dark Adventure at the Exploratorium

Thursday, June 7, 2012, 6:00–10:00 P.M.
The Insect Discovery Lab presents a special exhibit "LIFE IN EARTH"

SaveNature.Org brings life to the Exploratorium's After Dark event with giant African millipedes highlighting dirt as home and refuge, darkling beetles representing growing up in dirt, Eastern lubber grasshoppers highlighting dirt as maternity ward, and possibly Emperor scorpions representing dirt as refuge, protection and home. Hands-on experiences with most insects will enliven the After Dark education experience. Click here for more info and tickets.

Other Exhibits: Dig into soil science and get the dirt on everything from mushrooms to meteorites. Join biointensive farming expert John Jeavons to learn how food can be grown with a fraction of the soil and water used in conventional agriculture. Find out how City Slicker Farms is bringing urban farming to Oakland, and get a taste for growing gourmet mushrooms from coffee grounds with Back to the Roots. Take a tour of extraterrestrial dirt found as far away as Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, and as near as your own home. Sift through the sedimentary history of the San Francisco Bay, and peer into the teeming world of a rotting log. Meet other denizens of dirt with’s Insect Discovery Lab, and get down and dirty with compost, seed bombs, liquefaction, and more. Dirt also features Staub (Dust) (2008) and an exhibition of historic photographs documenting the end of the Dust Bowl era.

Summer Special - $25 off
Insect Discovery Lab

We bring awe-inspiring arthropods from around the world into your classroom or home for students to see, touch, and hold. This captivating, hands-on presentation is delivered by our enthusiastic, experienced educators. Your students will learn basic anatomy, adaptations, and ecosystem relations of different insects, and discover their importance in our every day lives. The program is easily tailored to all grade levels. Call 415-648-3392, visit our website, or email to book. Offer expires August 31, 2012. Please mention "summer special" when booking.

Insects may include:
Darkling Beetles
Eastern Lubber
Giant African Millipedes
Australian Walking Stick
Giant Thorny Phasmid
Whiptail Scorpion
Madagascar Hissing

We encourage young people to care for nature and sponsor classroom-designed projects that allow students of all ages to design creative ways to preserve and protect precious habitats. Our organization’s Adopt An Acre program has helped to save rainforest, coral reef and desert ecosystems around the globe.

Insect Discovery Lab VIP Tours

$500 tour for only $300 until Aug 31!

Book a VIP behind the scenes adventure tour now for the ultimate, exclusive glimpse into the award-winning Insect Discovery Lab in San Francisco with up to 8 participants for 1.5 hours.

Take a walk on the wild side and travel around the world without leaving the city! Experience close, hands-on encounters with amazing insects and arthropods from around the world - Giant African millipedes, Australian walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Whip Scorpions, and more!

Great as a birthday gift, fun family get-togethers, and unique cocktail parties! Book your VIP tour now -
contact, 415-648-3392.


7.  When I see an email like the following I usually hit the Delete button.  But the P.S.  caused me to telephone my friend Leslie, and it really did happen to her--and, apparently, to many others.  Both the video and my conversation with Leslie left me both stunned and puzzled - it is so unreal.  I know powerful organizations like banks can get favorable legislation from the legislatures they buy, but this is not in the realm of believability.  If I understood this correctly, banks don't even need to make an attempt to check to see if the depositor is still alive.  This beggars belief.

I would appreciate it if someone can explain what is going on, and how it can happen that banks can steal from your safe deposit box without even notifying you.  Help me, please.  JS

Hi Jake,

I was victimized by Bank of America who removed the contents of my safe deposit box and turned them over for auction. These precious heirlooms from my mom were worth from $80,000 to $100,000. I cared for her during her long battle with Alzheimer's. The State of California offered me a check for about $1000. PLEASE watch the ABC News video in the petition.  This is my last hope of getting any resolution from Bank of America.

Click on this link:

Thanks for helping,

P.S.  Yes, this is really from me and this really happened to me, but it has happened to millions of other people as well.

“Our competitors are our friends.  Our customers are our enemies.”
    Retired president of one of the major U.S. grain companies


(Oh yes, we DO love our banks, don't we?...)
LTE, The Economist

Punishment fits the crime

SIR – Regarding the current travails at Spanish banks (“A rude awakening”, May 12th), Barcelona, arguably the birthplace of the modern bank, did not tolerate bankrupt bankers. According to Edwin Hunt’s and James Murray’s history of business in medieval Europe, under a law passed in 1321 bankers who were in default were given only bread and water and had to settle their accounts within a year. In 1360 one banker, Francesc Castello, “was beheaded in front of his own bank.”

Dan Church
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Lemme see, there's Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America....Jamie Dimon, you're first. 

We might get the Senate to pass such a bill - but how do we get it through the House of Representatives?  Damn Republicans.

Saturday, May 26, 2012 (SF Chronicle)
Presidio's plant, wildlife is making a comeback

Rare dune plants
  Some of the rare and endangered flowers and plants that are growing in the
Presidio can be seen at:
  To see a video of the ducklings at El Polin, go to:

WHO: Golden Gate Audubon Society
WHAT: Lend a hand to improve local bird habitat
WHERE: Pier 94 in San Francisco
DIRECTIONS:  Take Third Street to Cargo Way turn left onto Amador St., an industrial road which turns right. The address is 480 Amador St in San Francisco (an office trailer for a neighbor). Turn into the gravel parking lot before the chain link fence. Just ahead you will see a small light blue sign next to white barriers. This is the entrance to Pier 94.
Public Transit: Use this Pier 94 map.
WHEN: Saturday, June 2, 2012 from 9:00am-12noon
NOTES: Please wear close-toed shoes and clothes that you don't mind getting a bit dirty.  Bring a water bottle if you have one to minimize trash.  We’ll provide instruction, gloves, tools, snacks and water. Join us to improve a wetland site in San Francisco along the Bay.  Activities include learning about the local birds and removing weeds to allow native plants to thrive. 


10.  News from the Glen Park Association
(image missing)
Californian Tarantula, taken on Mt. Davidson.
By Murray Schneider 

Dylan Hayes, Recreation and Park’s Natural Areas Manager, parked his service truck atop Mt. Davidson a few days ago, lifted a mattock and a pair work gloves from the flatbed and walked to a hillock on the frontier of a stand of eucalyptus trees.
On a south-facing slope he spotted a rarely seen grayish-brown California tarantula, something he’d not seen in his decade serving San Francisco.
“It’s a third bigger in circumference than a silver dollar,” Hayes said, who holds dual bachelor degrees from San Francisco State University in natural resource management and conservation biology.
Bay Area tarantulas live in underground burrows lined with silk for most of their lives. They can be found on Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County, even on Mt. Tamalpais.
“I’d never seen one before in San Francisco, though,” Hayes said, “but I always suspected the spider was here.”
Hayes and his cadre of NAP managers are entrusted with the management of 32 natural open spaces in San Francisco. His job takes him to places such as Glen Canyon, Bernal Hill, Twin Peaks and Mt. Sutro. His mission is to ensure that natural habitats are not over run by inimical invasive weeds that threaten rich biodiversity, and that people, insects, birds and mammals live in harmonic symbiosis with the vegetation that surrounds them.
“I saw the tarantula in open sage scrub,” said Hayes, also the recipient of a MBA in sustainable environment. “I was weeding radish outside the eucalyptus edge and I watched it crawl between several rocks and the duff.”
Tarantulas may appear malevolent, but they are actually very docile spiders, albeit large, reaching five or more inches. Feeding upon smaller arthropods, their venom is not lethal to humans, but is strong enough to subdue their prey. They dig their own burrows or usurp abandoned rodent holes, lining their colonized domiciles with silk produced by the spinnerets at the rear of their abdomen.
“Mt. Davidson coastal sage scrub is essentially the same as the pre-European landscape,” said Hayes. “But tarantulas can’t live in eucalyptus plantations.”
Mindful that avuncular eucalyptus has been in California since early statehood, that it is a sanctuary for raptors and other birds, Hayes has no plan to denude San Francisco’s highest promontory of its Australian import or clear cut any other trees for that matter. Left untended, though, swaths of gum trees can blanket understory with suffocating quilts of deciduous leaves that can mean the death knell for spiders such as the California tarantula, not to mention Mt. Davidson’s palette of ferns, coyote brush and monkey flower that abounds among host grasses.
“The tarantula’s significance is that it is a true relic,” said Hayes. “It reflects the age-old coastal sage and scrub habitat that’s hanging around in San Francisco.”
The NAP’s Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan for Mt. Davidson, which will take decades of planned judicious management and cautions implementation, takes the heterogeneity of this valued natural area into account. It is a habitat where NAP believes hummingbirds and chickadees can co-exist in symmetry with red admiral and painted lady butterflies, while day trekkers, accompanied by their canine companions, can stroll along breathtaking paths and trails.
“The California tarantula won’t stick around in the city with constant threats, that’s for sure,” said Hayes, watching the hirsute arachnid inching it way back to its hidey-hole. “It needs protection and stewardship to coexist with us.”


Greetings Jake, the story so far....cutworms, ugh
  Discovered a cut worm infestation in two of my raised planter beds this spring, went down one morning and all my pretty 1" carrots etc, plants had been clear cut overnight. Bummer. I lay out boards as slug traps and found the little buggers, a few on the surface and more deeper. Have already done three applications of beneficial nematodes, with some apparent effect. Have not done any more seedings. Planted healthy Pea, Bean and Squash starts using recycled paper coffee cups as collars. Some are doing OK but about half just died off, pulled up one of the cups today and bottom of hole was crawling with fat cutworms, (hadn't realised that they also fed on roots). Broadcast some wildflower seed in one area as test patch a couple of months ago, nothing showing, maybe they haven't germinated yet. Resigned to minimally productive season - Mother knows best - but want to eradicate problem. A number of folks have suggested a mix of Bacillus thuringiens, molasses, wheat bran and water, well shaken, not stirred, to oxygenate and soak affected area. Whadaya think? If this sounds worth a try I'm not sure of best proportions or if any particular Bt formulation would be most appropriate. What appear to be the two most affected areas can easily be turned over for better absorption, if they like it maybe the word will spread and the neighbors will crawl over for a Last Supper. Response and suggestions appreciated.
Thank you.
Patrick Monk.RN. Noe Valley. SF.


12.  Scientific American June 1862
Sea of Meat
“A shoal of whales ran ashore lately at Whiteness, Isle of Shetland, and getting into shallow water, immense numbers—four hundred, it is said—were captured by the islanders. They were attacked both by sea and land; almost the entire shoal was captured. People came from miles around, and a number of riflemen hurried to the spot to enjoy the novel sport of whale shooting.” 

Pepper for Soldiers
“A gentleman who saw and conversed with several of the wounded soldiers who arrived from Newbern a few days since says that they told him that pep per would be one of the most accept able and best things that could be sent by friends to the soldiers. Pies and rich cakes are so injurious that many Generals forbid their being eaten, but pepper is an excellent preventative of diarrhoea, which is pros trating large numbers in the warmer climate. It is put up in tin boxes hold ing a quarter or half pound each; the soldiers punch holes in one end and thus make pepper castors.”



Viewing the world with a rational eye
The Science of Righteousness
Evolution helps to explain why parties are so tribal and politics so divisive

By Michael Shermer  | June 13, 2012, Scientific American

 Image: Illustration by Brian Cairns

Which of these two narratives most closely matches your political perspective?

Once upon a time people lived in societies that were unequal and oppressive, where the rich got richer and the poor got exploited. Chattel slavery, child labor, economic inequality, racism, sexism and discriminations of all types abounded until the liberal tradition of fairness, justice, care and equality brought about a free and fair society. And now conservatives want to turn back the clock in the name of greed and God.

Once upon a time people lived in societies that embraced values and tradition, where people took personal responsibility, worked hard, enjoyed the fruits of their labor and through charity helped those in need. Marriage, family, faith, honor, loyalty, sanctity, and respect for authority and the rule of law brought about a free and fair society. But then liberals came along and destroyed everything in the name of “progress” and utopian social engineering.

Although we may quibble over the details, political science research shows that the great majority of people fall on a left-right spectrum with these two grand narratives as bookends. And the story we tell about ourselves reflects the ancient tradition of “once upon a time things were bad, and now they’re good thanks to our party” or “once upon a time things were good, but now they’re bad thanks to the other party.” So consistent are we in our beliefs that if you hew to the first narrative, I predict you read the New York Times, listen to progressive talk radio, watch CNN, are pro-choice and anti-gun, adhere to separation of church and state, are in favor of universal health care, and vote for measures to redistribute wealth and tax the rich. If you lean toward the second narrative, I predict you read the Wall Street Journal, listen to conservative talk radio, watch Fox News, are pro-life and anti–gun control, believe America is a Christian nation that should not ban religious expressions in the public sphere, are against universal health care, and vote against measures to redistribute wealth and tax the rich.

Why are we so predictable and tribal in our politics? In his remarkably enlightening book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Pantheon, 2012), University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues that to both liberals and conservatives, members of the other party are not just wrong; they are righteously wrong—morally suspect and even dangerous. “Our righteous minds made it possible for human beings,” Haidt argues, “to produce large cooperative groups, tribes, and nations without the glue of kinship. But at the same time, our righteous minds guarantee that our cooperative groups will always be cursed by moralistic strife.” Thus, he shows, morality binds us together into cohesive groups but blinds us to the ideas and motives of those in other groups.

The evolutionary Rubicon that our species crossed hundreds of thousands of years ago that led to the moral hive mind was a result of “shared intentionality,” which is “the ability to share mental representations of tasks that two or more of [our ancestors] were pursuing together. For example, while foraging, one person pulls down a branch while the other plucks the fruit, and they both share the meal.” Chimps tend not to display this behavior, Haidt says, but “when early humans began to share intentions, their ability to hunt, gather, raise children, and raid their neighbors increased exponentially. Everyone on the team now had a mental representation of the task, knew that his or her partners shared the same representation, knew when a partner had acted in a way that impeded success or that hogged the spoils, and reacted negatively to such violations.” Examples of modern political violations include Democrat John Kerry being accused of being a “flip-flopper” for changing his mind and Republican Mitt Romney declaring himself “severely conservative” when it was suggested he was wishy-washy in his party affiliation.

Our dual moral nature leads Haidt to conclude that we need both liberals and conservatives in competition to reach a livable middle ground. As philosopher John Stuart Mill noted a century and a half ago: “A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life.”

People are hungry for stories.
It's part of our very being.
Storytelling is a form of history,
of immortality too.  It goes from
one generation to another.
    Studs Terkel

14.  Cars in Indonesia

Let them walk

A plan to stop ordinary folk from buying cars

May 26th 2012 | JAKARTA | from The Economist
A pedestrian paradise

IT IS a fast-growing Asian country with slow-moving cars. Indonesia’s traffic jams make molasses look runny. The delays may be irksome, but they are symptoms of a boom. Car sales in Indonesia jumped by 17% from 2010 to 2011, to nearly 900,000 new vehicles, and by 11% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2012, despite global economic gloom

....Sugiarto of the Association of Indonesian Automotive Industries, a trade group, urges the central bank to reconsider. “Otherwise the market will collapse,” he says.

Some Indonesians would not mind if it did. They blame carmakers for Jakarta’s traffic jams. The number of cars is growing ten times faster than the roads they roll on; city officials in 2009 predicted that the Indonesian capital could experience total gridlock by 2014. According to Mr Sugiarto, the Jakarta Governor’s Office has suggested that carmakers address this by producing fewer wheels. That is dandy for people who already have cars; others might prefer Indonesia to build more roads.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Anthem For Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen was born near Oswestry, Shropshire, where his father worked on the railway. He was educated at the Birkenhead Institute, Liverpool and Shrewsbury Technical College. He worked as a pupil-teacher in a poor country parish before a shortage of money forced him to drop his hopes of studying at the University of London and take up a teaching post in Bordeaux (1913). He was tutoring in the Pyrenees when war was declared and enlisted as shortly afterwards.

In 1917 he suffered severe concussion and 'trench-fever' whilst fighting on the Somme and spent a period recuperating at Craiglockart War Hospital, near Edinburgh. It was here that he met Siegfried Sassoon who read his poems, suggested how they might be improved, and offered him much encouragement.

He was posted back to France in 1918 where he won the MC before being killed on the Sombre Canal a week before the Armistice was signed.

His poetry owes its beauty to a deep ingrained sense of compassion coupled with grim realism. Owen is also acknowledged as a technically accomplished poet and master of metrical variety.

Poems such as 'Dulce Decorum Est' and 'Anthem for doomed Youth' have done much to influence our attitudes towards war.

(From the internet)



As of Friday at 6 PM the Sutro Stewards' Plant-A-Tree project was in 11th place Nationwide. We need to finish in the top 10 to bring $10,000 to San Francisco's Mt. Sutro!

Please take a minute to cast your vote for the Sutro Stewards Tree Planting Project at the Odwalla website.
Vote Here:

Our project is unique and hugely beneficial to the long-term health and sustainability of the Mount Sutro Open Space. The trees we will purchase are from a short list of dwindling natives that once covered the San Miguel Hills in the center of San Francisco. We will plant these trees, then use the seed and cuttings from them for propagation in the UCSF Sutro Nursery. The stock we grow will be reintroduced in our open space area.

The competition ends May 31st, please share this with your household, friends, family and network, too.


"Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a songbird will come." - Chinese Proverb

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