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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


1.   Otto von Bismarck, born 1 April 1815
2.   Green Connections outreach events for April
3.   Volunteer opportunities on Marin water district lands
4.   Feedback: diagramming sentences/photoshopping?/too harsh on a reader?
5.   Audubon invites you to join them Saturday 7th at Pier 94
6.   Obituary: Adrienne Rich/on reconstituting the world
7.   Highlights of SHARP meeting
8.   Pesticide as culprit in declining bee colonies
9.   Poem in Your Pocket Day April 29
10. Mary Oliver is Mindful every day
11.  Nature news from the East Bay
12.  San Bruno Mountain Watch April wildflower sorties
13.  Phil Frank fans - attention
14.  Lots of old San Francisco beach pictures and information
15.  Red meat gets the knock again
16.  Strong challenge to Obama's World Bank candidate
17.  Scientific American throws in the towel - acknowledges truth of Creationism
18.  Ten of the best April Fool's Day hoaxes/Jake Sigg bites on one

Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)

1.  Otto von Bismarck, born 1 April 1815
Germany became the first nation in the world to adopt an old-age social insurance program in 1889, designed by Germany's Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck.

Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.
The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.

Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election.

Politics is not an exact science
Politics is the art of the possible
Politics ruins the character

There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America


2.  Green Connections Outreach Events for April

Green Connections Office Hours: Visitacion Valley
Date: Wednesday April 4, 2012
Time: 3:30pm - 6:30pm
Location: Visitacion Valley Public Library, Community Room, 201 Leland Avenue, San Francisco, 94134
Info: Join us for the Green Connections office hours. Members of the project team will be available to receive feedback on the project and answer questions. Stop by anytime and share your ideas.

Green Connections Office Hours: Chinatown
Date: Wednesday April 11, 2012
Time: 3pm - 6pm
Location: Chinatown Public Library, Community Room, 1135 Powell Street, San Francisco, 94108
Info: Join us for the Green Connections office hours. Members of the project team will be available to receive feedback on the project and answer questions. Stop by anytime and share your ideas.

Green Connections at Sunday Streets
Date: Sunday April 15, 2012
Time: 11am - 4pm
Location: Great Highway/Golden Gate Park
Info: Come visit us at Sunday Streets. Draw your route to the park!  For event information visit

Green Connections Walk: Visitacion Valley Greenway Walk
Date: Saturday April 21, 2012
Time: 10am - 12pm (bring bag lunch to picnic in one of the Greenway's parks)
Meeting location: Meet at the first Greenway garden (Rutland Street and Tioga Ave.)
Leaders: Charlotte Hill & Fran Martin

Green Connections Office Hours: Bayview
Date: Wednesday April 25, 2012
Time: 3pm - 6pm
Location: Joseph Lee Recreation Center, 1395 Mendell Street, San Francisco, 94124
Info: Join us for the Green Connections office hours. Members of the project team will be available to receive feedback on the project and answer questions. Stop by anytime and share your ideas.

3.  Volunteer opportunities on Marin Municipal Water District lands:

Trail Crew
Upper Yolanda Trail
Saturday, April 7, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Habitat Restoration & Earth Day Celebration
Pine Point at Bon Tempe Reservoir
Saturday, April 21, 9 a.m. to Noon
Get Great REI Gifts and Prizes! 

MMWD Centennial Naturalist Hike 
Oaks, Caterpillars and Birds
Saturday, April 28, 10 AM to Noon
Make Your Own Caterpillar Kit!
Marin Bay-Friendly Garden Tour 

Seeking Volunteers for Saturday, May 19 Garden Tour
Receive Complimentary T-Shirt and Tickets!  


4.  Feedback

Leonora Ellis:
Tasmanian trees (Australia)/Tanzanian trees (Africa).....which is it?

Ted Kipping:
Jake, it's TANZANIAN trees - not Tasmanian.
Re diagramming sentences:
I've consigned George Bush II to a Special Purgatory:
He only gets out after he diagrams all his sentences.

Greg Suba:
Hi Jake,
thanks for bringing back a treasured memory - the Venerable Art of sentence diagrams. I absolutely loved when we did this in school. That and mathematical proofs, line by line, that concluded with the "therefore sign" (the 3-dot triangle) when one's conclusion was logically arrived at and beyond dispute. At least until the teacher handed back the corrections!  Greg

p.s. oh, and the dog/heron image does look photoshopped unfortunately.
On Mar 30, 2012, at 9:19 AM, Jake Sigg wrote:
Dominick:  True?
I don't know. I certainly didn't even think for a moment that someone would bother to photoshop something like this since it's an event that in my experience of birding Crissy Field occurs many times on a daily basis.
Followed by this later email:
Hi Jake:
I went back to SFGate a while ago and the person who posted that photo of the heron being chased responded to the accusations that this is fake:

"I took the picture and it is not a fake. This heron was hunting gophers on the berm by the foot bridge and was zeroing in on one, getting ready to strike when the dog came over the top of the berm. Because the heron was concentrating on the gopher, the dog was able to to get very close to to it. The owner was nowhere in sight. I love dogs and I love bird and have taken many thousands of pics of both. This seemed like a very nice dog who couldn't resist chasing such a tempting target. It is wonderful to have a place where dogs can run off leash, but owners need to be in control and watch their dogs. Even nice dogs have a hard time overcoming their instinct.
I have five pictures in sequence of this incident, and will send them to anyone interested.
The heron flew to the large grass field at the west end of the lagoon to resume hunting gophers, where two more dogs with no owner in sight chased it again, this time they followed it for about 50 yards."

A number of people have posted that this photo is fake on SFGate as well. Just goes to show that some just simply cannot bring themselves to believe that dogs (theirs or those of other dog owners) actually do have an impact on wildlife.  The Nile runs deep, I guess ;)
Dominik Mosur
San Francisco

Anna-Marie Bratton:
Hi Jake,
I'm going to ignore all of the controversial parts of this  Nature News and go right on the a big THANK YOU for the link to the sentence diagramming article.  I loved diagramming sentences when in school - since I am very visually oriented I could see right away the different parts of a sentence and it made english class just plain fun!  Anna-Marie

However, I do think you were a bit harsh on Keith McAllister.  I don't know his wife Mary, but I do know Keith and find him to be practical, thoughtful, and also a damn good birder interested in good practices for bird habitat.
Anna-Marie:  Life is complex, is it not?

I can understand your personal relationship with Keith.  Our histories and our relationships are built in different ways, and your relationship with him doesn't surprise me.  And, btw, you are aware that I have pasted email dialogues with him over the years in my Feedback section.  I had an extensive dialogue with Mary, about a year ago.  I was not sanguine about the potential outcome of that dialogue, but I felt the need to try.  I had to break it off as it became clear we inhabit different worlds.

The difficulty posed for those of us working with the realities of the land is that urban dwellers seldom understand nature's ways, which are sometimes harsh, sometimes unyielding.  Trying to convey nature's ways to people having at best only fleeting contact ranges from difficult to impossible.  I think the McAllisters are probably decent people.  But they don't understand the realities of the land organism and their attempts to discredit such efforts is a destructive thing, although they don't view it that way.

I'm glad to hear that he is a good birder.  Not all birders understand what habitat management entails--what keeps it good habitat.  I post all of Golden Gate Audubon's restoration work parties, because participants work directly with the land, and they learn.  Audubon has not been engaged with the land in this way until last few years, and I am heartily glad they are doing it.  The land will teach them.  They will come to understand why certain plants become troublesome and must be managed. 

That understanding is not shared by all birders, some of whom don't comprehend that some of their good bird habitat is changing in ways that are not favorable to the birds.  About 12-15 years ago we came to a gap in understanding with some birders on Mt Davidson when, taking advantage of a group of corporate volunteers, we eliminated a huge patch of very aggressive Himalayan blackberry.  It badly needed doing, as the patch was relentlessly expanding, destroying rich, diverse habitat.  To us it was obvious that the north slope of Mt D was in danger of becoming a blackberry monoculture, good for little besides rats.  Out of this eventually emerged dialogue, so that we now talk to each other more--although communication is a constant problem, and there is always danger of blundering into misunderstandings.

At risk of making this overly long, I have a story that illustrates why those trying to restore land health have sometimes come into conflict with natural allies.  About ten years ago, the Natural Areas Program contracted with Josiah Clark, a well-known birder and consultant, to work alongside staff and volunteers to sensitize us to bird issues.  We were working adjacent to the Mt D site of previous paragraph, and I was about to dispatch an invasive cotoneaster, which produces berries that birds eat.  Josiah interrupted me: 

"See that hermit thrush over there?  She needs that cotoneaster." 

"But Josiah, there's cotoneasters all over the mountain!!" 

"I know, but that thrush isn't allowed all over the mountain; this is her territory (indicating a rather small area)." 

"Of course, of course, why didn't I think of that?  I was sensitive to birds, but I didn't have the knowledge, at least it wasn't readily accessible until he pointed it out.

Well, this goes far beyond what I intended in responding to your statement.  But it is worthwhile, because it illustrates the type of problems we all have in life, when people of goodwill come into conflict with other caring people.  We know many things, but that knowledge is not always accessible to our conscious mind.

Golden Gate Audubon Society
Volunteer to improve local bird and butterfly habitat
Pier 94 in San Francisco
Saturday, April 7, 2012 from 9:00am-12noon

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 (a trailer office 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.

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 view and improve a wetland in San Francisco along the Bay.  Activities include learning about the local birds and removing weeds that do not allow native plants to grow.  This is a p“Together Green Volunteer Days” inspires people to take action to improve the health of our environment for all of us.  Heavy rain cancels this event.


“...My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.”
         Adrienne Rich

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — Poet Adrienne Rich, whose socially conscious verse influenced a generation of feminist, gay rights and anti-war activists, has died. She was 82.

...Through her writing, Rich explored topics such as women's rights, racism, sexuality, economic justice and love between women.

Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 29.03.12


7.  SHARP meeting discussing tree management on Mt Sutro briefly highlighted at

Katherine Howard was also on the program.  She is heroically battling to save pieces of Golden Gate Park from the ravages of a consumer society--with one victory under her belt:  the SFPUC is no longer planning to build a water recycle plant in the park.  Thank you, Kathy, thank you thank you.

(Because our age is so polarized I feel the need of making distinctions between pesticides.  Many think all pesticides are bad, whereas some are benign and helpful while others, such as this, are destructive.  JS)

SCIENCE   | March 30, 2012
2 Studies Point to Common Pesticide as a Culprit in Declining Bee Colonies
Experiments in Britain and France found that colonies of bumblebees and honeybees were harmed by common pesticides in a class known as neonicotinoids.


The website suggests that readers carry a poem and share it on April 29, Poem in Your Pocket Day



Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Why I Wake Early)


11.  Plant survey pilot a success -- new species for El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area

Close to 80 species of native plants have been reported from the 90+ acre El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area – that big green space on the hillside north of Moeser. A dozen volunteers armed with GPS cameras, a plant press, and more made a good start in mapping this wonderful diversity Sunday. Among other early spring wonders, we found starry Solomon’s seal (Smilacina stellata, above), never before reported from the area.

If you’re interested in helping with this exciting project, please sign up with iNaturalist and report your  observations at  We’re interested in animals, too! A trail map is here. And mark your calendars – on April 21, our big broom bash will help keep this wonderful biodiversity from being overrun by invasive, fire-prone French broom! Details on the events calendar on our web site.

Talk on living shorelines and oysters at F5C meeting Mon., April 2

Please join us Monday, April 2, as Chris Lim of the Watershed Project talks about “living shorelines” – encouraging tiny native oysters and other forms of life on our beautiful Bay’s concrete-lined shores.  This is another project in which citizen science plays a big part. The free talk is at 7 PM at Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin -- refreshments, too!

Help monitor young Coho Salmon
Marin’s Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) needs volunteers on many April dates to survey young coho salmon preparing to migrate to sea (calendar here) . Help save an endangered species, learn fascinating technical skills, and enjoy beautiful creeks! Contact for information, or RSVP to

Bad year for oaks – please help with April Sudden Oak Death survey
Dr. Matteo Garbelotto, head of the Forest Pathology Lab at UC Berkeley, writes: “2011 was a bad year for our oaks. Prolonged spring rains have resulted in a significant spread of Sudden Oak Death throughout the state, including … new areas like the East Bay …. Most of the spread occurred AFTER the 2011 Blitzes were conducted.  Years following a "wave" year are also conducive to the spread of SOD. Hence, we predict the pathogen will spread further in 2012.’

Sudden Oak Death is a fungus-like water mold that threatens our beautiful Coast Live Oaks. Besides their beauty, oaks are critical to the survival of many plants and animals, and the functioning of our watersheds. Dead or dying oaks greatly increase fire danger, and trees or limbs can fall suddenly, endangering people or property.

Please mark your calendars for Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29. After an hour-long training by Dr. Garbelotto at 1 PM Saturday on the UC Berkeley campus, you’ll  collect suspect bay leaves (the main carriers to oaks) on your own time, and where you choose, for lab testing. This year’s blitz will follow a new protocol that makes it possible to estimate the actual local SOD infection rate! Sign up here.

Training sessions on how to manage SOD are offered monthly at U.C. Berkeley, and weekly during the Fall in various California locations. According to Dr. Garbelotto, “residents with confirmed local SOD infections in their neighborhood can in fact protect their trees from becoming infected rather inexpensively."

April 7 Garber Park workshop on SOD
On Saturday, April 7, Lech Naumovich of Goldenhour Restoration Institute will lead a three-hour workshop in Oakland’s Garber Park, part of Claremont Canyon, on how to recognize Sudden Oak Death  infection, possible treatments, and how loss of oaks can affect the whole community. For information and registration, contact Garber Park Stewards, (click on Volunteer Opportunities) or email


April Hikes!


San Bruno Mountain Watch seeks to preserve and expand the native ecosystems of San Bruno Mountain, in perpetuity.

Our mission comes to life through an array of programs shaped to protect the mountain's natural beauty, biological diversity, historic heritage, and rare and endangered species. Currently programming focuses on advocacy, education, stewardship, and conservation. Ultimately, this work provides life-long educational experiences consistent with the protection of natural resources and enhances the region's quality of life through opportunities to connect with the natural world.

We are a 501(c)3 non-profit volunteer organization and rely on your support. With your support, we planted over 7,000 San Bruno Mountain natives grown at the Mission Blue Nursery back on the mountain for habitat restoration projects! Help us do more. Click on our paypal link to donate now! Thank you!

This April we are offering several extra hikes on the mountain to highlight the wonderful diversity of its natural habitats. Don't miss this opportunity to experience the magic of San Bruno Mountain in Spring.


Hikes meet at our office located at at 44 Visitacion Ave, Suite 206, in Brisbane.
All hikes will take place in Buckeye and Owl Canyons.

For complete details please go to the Spring Hike Series listing at our website.

Sunday April 1st:  Leader - Michele Salmon
Saturday April 7th:  Leader - Paul Bouscal, Sierra Club hike
Easter Sunday April 8th:  Leader - Michele Salmon
Sunday April 15th:  Leaders - John Haffner and Christine Martens
Saturday April 21st:  Leader - Paul Bouscal, Sierra Club hike
Saturday April 21st: Leader Ginny Anderson, Intergenerational Hike
call 650-323-4494 for details***
Sunday  April 22nd:  Leaders - Christine Hansell and Jerry Bolick
Sunday April 29th:  Leader - David Schooley, Founder of San Bruno Mountain Watch

*** this hike meets at San Bruno Mountain State Park headquarters
The hikes start at 10 am and typically last three and a half hours. It is a good idea to dress in layers and bring water and a snack while hiking. Poles are recommended for seniors. All hikes are easy paced, with interpretation, but require good footwork.  For complete information on hikes and hike leaders, please visit our website.


13.  Hello Phil Frank Fans,

We are pleased to announce a new exhibit around Phil's work entitled FRITZ (THE COMIC WITH OF PHIL FRANK) CRACKERS. Phil Frank's comic strip Fritz Crackers was published weekly in the Marinscope newspaper from 1977 to 1984 where it gently lampooned the local scene.  This exhibit invites you to explore not only the hilarious Fritz Crackers comic strip, but also encourages you to discover the man behind the humor.

This exhibit is located in the newly renovated Exhibition Gallery on the second floor of Sausalito's City Hall at 420 Litho Street.  The exhibition will be open to the public through Labor Day.  Please call the Sausalito Historical Society at (415) 289-4117 for more information.

Opening reception for the general public is Saturday March 31st, 2012 from 6:00 to 8:00 in the evening.


14.  Check out this site.  Lots of old San Francisco beach pictures and information.


15.  Bad news for carnivores,0,565423.story

(JS:  In March 24 newsletter I reported with enthusiasm President Obama's nominee for head of World Bank.  Here is a more sober recommendation--and a more drastic break from past politics of Obama.  Excerpted from The Economist.)

The World Bank

Hats off to Ngozi

A golden opportunity for the rest of the world to show Barack Obama the meaning of meritocracy

Mar 31st 2012 | from The Economist

WHEN economists from the World Bank visit poor countries to dispense cash and advice, they routinely tell governments to reject cronyism and fill each important job with the best candidate available. It is good advice. The World Bank should take it. In appointing its next president, the bank’s board should reject the nominee of its most influential shareholder, America, and pick Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The World Bank is the world’s premier development institution. Its boss needs experience in government, in economics and in finance (it is a bank, after all). He or she should have a broad record in development, too. Ms Okonjo-Iweala has all these attributes...By contrast Jim Yong Kim, the American public-health professor whom Barack Obama wants to impose on the bank, has at most one.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala is in her second stint as Nigeria’s finance minister. She has not broken Nigeria’s culture of corruption—an Augean task—but she has sobered up its public finances and injected a measure of transparency. She led the Paris Club negotiations to reschedule her country’s debt and earned rave reviews as managing director of the World Bank in 2007-11. Hers is the CV of a formidable public economist.

...Mr Kim, the head of a university in New England, has done a lot of good things in his life, but the closest he has come to running a global body was as head of HIV/AIDS at the World Health Organisation—not a post requiring tough choices between, say, infrastructure, health and education. He pioneered trials of aid programmes before they became fashionable and set up an outfit called Partners in Health which does fine work in Haiti and Peru. But this is a charity, not a development bank. Had Mr Obama not nominated him, he would be on no one’s shortlist to lead the World Bank. (Indeed he is a far worse example of Western arrogance than Christine Lagarde, whom the Europeans shoehorned into the IMF job last year: the French finance minister plainly had the CV for the job.)
Ms Okonjo-Iweala is an orthodox economist, which many will hold against her. But if there is one thing the world has discovered about poverty reduction in the past 15 years, it is that development is not something rich countries do to poor ones. It is something poor countries manage for themselves, mainly by the sort of policies that Ms Okonjo-Iweala has pursued with some success in Nigeria.

Mr Kim’s views on development are harder to divine. But what can be gleaned is worrying. In an introduction to a 2000 book called “Dying for Growth”, he wrote that “the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of men and women”, quoted Noam Chomsky and praised Cuba for “prioritising social equity”. Were Mr Kim hoping to lead Occupy Wall Street, such views would be unremarkable. But the purposes of the World Bank, according to its articles of agreement, are “to promote private foreign investment…[and to] encourage international investment for the development of the productive resources of members.” The Bank promotes growth because growth helps the poor. If Mr Kim disagrees, he should stick to medicine.

Ready. Steady. Ngo

For almost 70 years, the leadership of the IMF and World Bank has been subject to an indefensible carve-up. The head of the IMF is European; the World Bank, American. This shabby tradition has persisted because it has not been worth picking a fight over. The gap between Mr Kim and Ms Okonjo-Iweala changes the calculation. It gives others a chance to insist on the best candidate, not simply the American one. Mr Ocampo should bow out gracefully. And the rest of the world should rally round Ms Okonjo-Iweala. May the best woman win.


17.  Scientific American editorial April 2005

Okay, We Give Up

There is no easy way to admit this.  For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science.  They pointed out that science and politics don't mix.  They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming.  We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican.  But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say:  you were right, and we were wrong.

In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided.  For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies.  True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.  Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism?  Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon?  Blame the scientists.  They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles.  As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists.  Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that's a somewhat religious idea.  But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells.  That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory:  it doesn't get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else.  We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts.  Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do.  Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction.  To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong.  In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space:  an editorial page is no place for opinions.

Get ready for a new Scientific American.  No more discussions of how science should inform policy.  If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can't work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars and imperil national security, you won't hear about it from us.  If studies suggest that the administration's antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that's not our concern.  No more discussions of how policies affect science either--so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed?  This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science.  And it will start on April Fools' Day.

        The Editors

(On the mock front cover of this issue are attention-getting titles:
A Balanced Debate:  IS THE EARTH FLAT?
The Myth of the Atom
Let's Just Ignore CO2
Reason, Schmeason
15 Good Points by Creationists
Your Next Car Will Run on Cold Fusion!)


18.  Ten of the best April Fool's Day hoaxes
NEW YORK (AFP) - From television revealing that spaghetti grows on trees to advertisements for the left-handed burger, the tradition of April Fool's Day stories in the media has a weird and wonderful history. Here are 10 of the top April Fool's Day pranks ever pulled off, as judged by the San Diego-based Museum of Hoaxes for their notoriety, absurdity, and number of people duped.

-- In 1957, a BBC television show announced that thanks to a mild winter and the virtual elimination of the spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. Footage of Swiss farmers pulling strands of spaghetti from trees prompted a barrage of calls from people wanting to know how to grow their own spaghetti at home.
-- In 1985, Sports Illustrated magazine published a story that a rookie baseball pitcher who could reportedly throw a ball at 270 kilometers per hour (168 miles per hour) was set to join the New York Mets. Finch was said to have mastered his skill -- pitching significantly faster than anyone else has ever managed -- in a Tibetan monastery. Mets fans' celebrations were short-lived.
-- Sweden in 1962 had only one television channel, which broadcast in black and white. The station's technical expert appeared on the news to announce that thanks to a newly developed technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to receive color pictures by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen. In fact, they had to wait until 1970.
-- In 1996, American fast-food chain Taco Bell announced that it had bought Philadelphia's Liberty Bell, a historic symbol of American independence, from the federal government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell.

Outraged citizens called to express their anger before Taco Bell revealed the hoax. Then-White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale and said the Lincoln Memorial in Washington had also been sold and was to be renamed the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial after the automotive giant.
-- In 1977, British newspaper The Guardian published a seven-page supplement for the 10th anniversary of San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semicolon-shaped islands. A series of articles described the geography and culture of the two main islands, named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse.
-- In 1992, US National Public Radio announced that Richard Nixon was running for president again. His new campaign slogan was, "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again." They even had clips of Nixon announcing his candidacy. Listeners flooded the show with calls expressing their outrage. Nixon's voice actually turned out to be that of impersonator Rich Little.
-- In 1998, a newsletter titled New Mexicans for Science and Reason carried an article that the state of Alabama had voted to change the value of pi from 3.14159 to the "Biblical value" of 3.0.

-- Burger King, another American fast-food chain, published a full-page advertisement in USA Today in 1998 announcing the introduction of the "Left-Handed Whopper," specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new burger included the same ingredients as the original, but the condiments were rotated 180 degrees. The chain said it received thousands of requests for the new burger, as well as orders for the original "right-handed" version.

-- Discover Magazine announced in 1995 that a highly respected biologist, Aprile Pazzo (Italian for April Fool), had discovered a new species in Antarctica: the hotheaded naked ice borer. The creatures were described as having bony plates on their heads that became burning hot, allowing the animals to bore through ice at high speed -- a technique they used to hunt penguins.

(Um, yes, a couple years ago I got an email from a reader to add to my nature news on this dilly.)

-- Noted British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on the radio in 1976 that at 9:47 am, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event, in which Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, would cause a gravitational alignment that would reduce the Earth's gravity. Moore told listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment of the planetary alignment, they would experience a floating sensation. Hundreds of people called in to report feeling the sensation.

Embarrassedly, Jake Sigg was a victim of an elaborate hoax.  I fell for it, if only for a few seconds.

A few years ago NPR's All Things Considered reported that Starbucks was running a slurry pipeline from Seattle to New York City.  The story had the sheen of straight reporting (NPR does these things very well), giving business-like details of the need for it, interviews with people in Montana and the Dakotas whose lands it would cross, arrangements with landowners, getting necessary permits and environmental review, &c.  I was cleaning house and only half listening, so its absurdity--aren't we all living with absurdity on a daily basis now?--blended into the triviality of our consumer society that we're inured to. 

I dropped the broom and started looking for the car keys.  This is the last straw, I thought, preparing to throw myself off the Golden Gate Bridge.  Then I realized the date and started laughing.  Love NPR.