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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The blackest irony of all is that those creatures that flourish in spite of anything man may do are those that most resemble him:  stubborn, resourceful, pliant, opportunistic, they can make their homes anywhere, eat anything, travel on almost any form of transport, breed energetically and take a great interest in sewage.  They are, of course, the cockroach and the Norway rat.  It’s a long time since anybody hymned a cockroach. 
(More below - Sacred Elephant)

1.   "Smart" Growth
2.   Sunday Streets can't happen without you
3.   San Bruno Mtn Facebook Photo Contest
4.   Manchurian tiger has gone; the elephant is so big you can actually see it going
5.   Senator Feinstein vs historic post offices
6.   Senator Feinstein vs Drakes Bay oyster farm
7.   Neil Armstrong got paid per diem/how much food do we waste?
8.   Taste of fructose revs up metabolism
9.   Feedback
10. DFG and media endanger California's lone wolf
11.  Pointed pen calligraphy - Aug 31
12.  More on Olmsted, Hall, Golden Gate Park
13.  Atheists are getting more numerous and louder
14.  River of Words Grand Prize Winner 
15.  Knowland Park supporters file suit against zoo
16.  Army ants pic
17.  Geologic time scales

1.  Smart Growth (introductory paragraphs)

"Smart growth” is an urban growth management strategy that applies planning and design principles intended to mitigate the impacts of continued growth. If properly applied, these principles represent a positive contribution to new urban development. However, the rhetoric of “smart growth” is that population levels and growth rates are not the problem; it’s merely a matter of how we grow. According to the “smart growth” program, if we are less wasteful and more efficient in our urban growth, we can keep growing and everything will work out fine. The “smart growth” approach is fundamentally pro-growth and does not envision an end to growth or a need to end growth.

“Smart growth” is cast as a comprehensive solution, whereas it is merely a potential means of modestly reducing the environmental, social, and economic impacts of continued growth while failing to address its inevitable consequences. The “smart growth” formula has been used to discount and transform legitimate public concerns about the amount and pace of growth into a discussion about how we should best continue growing.

The Myth of Smart Growth:


2.  Sunday Streets cannot happen without you!

Did you know the City pays for the street closures, but we need to cover the costs of managing every single event with private funds? Please, take a moment to make a donation to help us fund future Sunday Streets.

We can't wait for the next Sunday Streets car-free fun, on September 9th in the Western Addition. Help us spread the word by RSVP'ing and inviting your friends by clicking here. And mark your calendars, our last event of the season is a brand new route through the Excelsior on Sunday, October 21st! More details on that event to come!


3.  San Bruno Mountain Facebook Photo Contest

Enter your favorite photo taken of or from San Bruno Mountain!

Send us your photos and we'll put them into an album, which we will share.  The photo with the most "likes" will win.

First prize:  A $25 gift certificate redeemable at the Mission Blue Nursery sale in October.
There are prizes for 2nd and 3rd place as well.

*Photos submitted must be your own;
*Photos must be of or on or from San     Bruno Mountain;
*Submissions MUST be emailed to:

*Submissions will be accepted August 26th through September 14th.
*Limit of 4 photo entries per person.
*Individuals may only win once.

Winner to be announced on September 17th!

The prizes will be awarded by number of "likes" on individual photos.

By submitting a photo, you give San Bruno Mountain Watch the right to share the photograph on Facebook and use the photograph in other publications. Prizes will be awarded via mail.


4.  Sacred Elephant by Heathcote Williams, 1989

The elephant is so big you can actually see it going.  The Manchurian tiger may already have gone without saying goodbye.  In 1970 there were only seven left in the wild.  None have been seen lately.  The Florida dusky seaside sparrow went out publicly.  In 1980 there were only six left, all males.  The last of the species went into oblivion on June 16, 1987, at Disneyworld.

…the United States, which has so far spent $2 million trying to save the blackfooted ferret, from stealing away into the eternal night, announced this year that 680 species of US plants will be gone forever in the wild by the year 2000.  And, as Heathcote Williams says “The elephant now has a depleted population the size of Willesden.”…It is a tragedy that calls for a Sophocles.

…But there is a real tragedy.  Man’s dominion over the rest of creation is nearly complete.  The elephant, no less than the Lulworth skipper, is now a “management problem.”  If it survives, it will survive not in the wild, but in a series of extended, free-range, ranch-style zoos to be culled according to resource stress in a form of zoological accounting by people called environmental managers.  It doesn’t seem much of a fate for the lord of two continents.  Heathcote Williams has every right to his anger.

The blackest irony of all is that those creatures that flourish in spite of anything man may do are those that most resemble him:  stubborn, resourceful, pliant, opportunistic, they can make their homes anywhere, eat anything, travel on almost any form of transport, breed energetically and take a great interest in sewage.  They are, of course, the cockroach and the Norway rat.  It’s a long time since anybody hymned a cockroach.

Excerpted from review by Tim Radford in Guardian Weekly


5.  From Gray Brechin:
I asked Steve Hutkins who runs the invaluable website out of his home in Rhinecliff, NY what question he would ask, and he responded thus:

Hi Senator,
What's your position on the Postal Service selling off its historic, iconic, downtown, priceless, New Deal post offices, for a song,while your husband collects the commission?

Feinstein is notably imperious and insists that she and her husband maintain the strictest firewall between his private gain and her public service, I'm not sure that would go over well with her, so you can adapt it as you like. (Richard Blum owns and is the Chairman of CB Richard Ellis, the world's largest commercial real estate company, that last July got the exclusive contract with the USPS to sell its properties and to advise it on which ones it should liquidate regardless of historic or artistic merit.)

The following is a letter that the Senator's office sent to one of her constituents here in Berkeley about the (manufactured) post office crisis. It sounds good, but it does not really touch on the fire sale of public property now going on nor the fate of outstanding historical and architectural resources and the public art they contain. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named America's post offices as among its most endangered treasures. This is getting almost no publicity, so few people know it is happening all over the country.


6.  Oyster Madness:  The saga over protecting Wilderness at Drakes Estero in the Point Reyes National Seashore or managing the area as an oyster farm has ramped up in recent weeks as the time draws nearer for the Secretary of Interior to make a decision. In a lengthy feature article, the East Bay Expressdescribed the role of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), an ardent supporter of the oyster farm, in trying to pressure the Secretary to rule in the farm’s favor. In the meantime, the California Coastal Commission has sent an enforcement letter to the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, outlining how it has been continuously in violation of its State and National Park Service permits for the past six years.  And the Coastal Commission is warning consumers to not eat oysters from the Drakes Bay Oyster Company because they may contain bacteria that is making people sick.

The oyster farm’s permit to operate in the Seashore is set to expire this year, at which time its operations were to be shut down and Drakes Estero would become part of the Philip Burton Wilderness. But a provision Senator Feinstein inserted into a law passed last year required the Secretary to consider re-issuing the permit for another ten years.


7.  Two from Marketplace

By Kai Ryssdal
Even Neil Armstrong got paid per diem

There's nothing especially Marketplace-y about a 40-year-old moon mission. Except this: I read today that Armstrong -- and all the other Apollo astronauts -- got per diem during their trips to the moon. Eight bucks a day. Minus a deduction for accommodations, since they had the spacecraft to stay in.

Unbelievable - yet true

How much food do we really waste? And why does it matter?

A listener comment:

I don't use milk, so there is no waste.
I found many years ago better sources of nutrients which milk is suppose to be rich in. Namely seeds, nuts and greens.
The problem with dairy is that its overrated. Second is that it requires refrigeration. I have had raw milk right from a cow in India,Kenya and a dairy farmer in my area years ago. A bit strong, but tasty. However I find cow's milk is best for the calf. Human milk for babies.
The chemical composition of both are not even similar.
Cow's milk is rich is protein and calcium and low in phosphorus and lecithin. The opposite for breast milk. Protein and calcium is for building a large body. Phosphorus and lecithin are brain foods. People need to stick with breast milk until weaned off of it.
Also in the case of the US, the dairy lobby is right there to insure that you don't drink what they refer to as "unpasteurized milk". They refuse to call it "raw milk". They want you to think they know whats best for the consumer, but they don't.
Again, there are better choices than milk, and refrigeration is not involved.


8.  Taste of fructose revs up metabolism

Pancreas can pump more insulin in response to the sugar

Science News April 7th, 2012; Vol.181 #7 

Insulin-producing pancreatic cells (red) have proteins (green) that can taste fructose, which boosts insulin production in some instances.Tyrberg lab, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
Scientists have a greater appreciation of fructose’s full flavor. The sugar, which is found predominantly in fruit, honey and more recently high-fructose corn syrup, tickles taste cells found on the pancreas (that’s right, the pancreas) (SN: 3/27/10, p. 22). The interaction can crank up the body’s secretion of insulin, which may be a concern for people prone to diabetes, researchers report online February 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Experiments with mouse and human cells and living mice reveal that fructose activates the same proteins in pancreatic cells that the tongue uses to taste sweets. When these cells are exposed to glucose — the sugar that is body’s main source of energy — and then get a hit of fructose, the cells pump out more insulin than with glucose alone, the researchers found.

“This is really beautiful mechanistic work,” says nutrition and metabolism expert Kathleen Melanson of the University of Rhode Island in Kingston. The research adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that taste cells are not just the province of the tongue, says Melanson, who was not involved with the new study.

Insulin is a master regulator, keeping the right amount of glucose in the blood. So it makes sense that fructose alone doesn’t trigger insulin secretion, says cell biologist and physiologist Björn Tyrberg of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Orlando, Fla. If fructose triggered insulin release on its own, glucose levels in the blood could get dangerously low. “The system seems to be elegantly made to keep a balance,” says Tyrberg, who led the new work.

Fructose has recently taken some heat for whacking metabolism out of balance. An issue is where the sweet stuff enters the metabolic assembly line: Most sugars join the process at a point where a supervisory enzyme can control the flow of goods. But fructose comes in farther down, where it can lead to an overproduction of fat. And because fructose on its own doesn’t stimulate the same insulin response that glucose does, the hormone isn’t doing the other regulatory things it usually does, like moderating appetite. The sugar content of high-fructose corn syrup is typically 55 percent fructose; the rest is glucose. Molecules of sucrose, or table sugar, consist of a fructose linked to a glucose.

In general, people should keep an eye on their intake of all sugars, Melanson says.

“It’s amazing how much people consume — there’s a lot hidden, in things like stuffing and salad dressings,” she says. The quantities of fructose found in a spoonful of honey or an apple aren’t of concern, “but our metabolic pathways aren’t designed to handle Big Gulps.”


9.  Feedback

Eric Mills:
“Etiquette requires us to admire the human race.”    Mark Twain
Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.  Mark Twain
Love Mark Twain!
My mom used to quote another favorite:  "Faith is believing in something you know ain't true."

JS:  I took this picture from current issue of The Economist