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.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


There are two kinds of light -- the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures. -James Thurber

1.   Spider field trip Sunday Sept 16
2.   22,000 hunting hounds in California?
3.   Beach Chalet soccer fields update
4.   Feedback:  RecPark bond, mostly
5.   Proposition F to restore Yosemite
6.   Cutting timber in Sequoia Monument/historical/megadrought/extinction countdown
7.   Farallones Marine Sanctuary Starlight Naturalist Paddle on the Bay
8.   Tracking Marin's Elusive Predators, Sept 22
9.   Lawn Alternatives: Do-It-Youself Native Plantscaping Symposium Sept 29
10. SFSU Friends of Biology Open House Oct 6
11.  More 9/11 poetry from Dan Liberthson
12.  Coastal Cleanup Days Sept 15 - many events
13.  SF Bay's dirtiest spots
14.  Coastside Land Trust Gallery holiday show submissions
15.  Notes & Queries

1.  Spiders

California Native Plant Society field trip - free and open to the public
Glen Canyon, San Francisco
Sunday 16 September, 10 am
Leader:  Darrell Ubick

Who's afraid of the big bad web?

Argiope aurantia

To the delight of all ages, Darrell Ubick, arachnologist at the California Academy of Sciences, will lead another one of his very popular spider field trips.  Depending on the year, different spiders are out, and comparing to what is seen on other visits is exciting.  We'll almost certainly find the big, beautiful orb weavers that are out at this time of year.  Meet up-canyon from the Recreation Building in Glen Park, where the lawn stops and the wild part of the canyon starts.  (For information:  Jake Sigg 415-731-3028)

(Kids always love these spider field trips, and Darrell is especially good with kids.  A good family event.  JS)


2.  Eric Mills:

A major correction, Jake (my fault, not yours!)  Hope you'll alert your readers in your next mailing.

I had asked Bill Gaines ( California Outdoor Heritage Alliance) how many HOUNDS were in the state.  He thought I said HOUNDSMEN, and replied, "5500-5700," according to DFG estimates (based on bear tags sold).

But I spoke with Josh Brones  today (California Houndsmen for Conservation), who said that most bear hunters probably have, on average, FOUR hounds.  So, doing the math, 4 x 5500  would equal 22,000 hunting hounds in the state, approximately, and assuming the equation is correct.  (And Josh agrees that that figure is a fair estimate.)

My question, then, is WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO ALL THOSE DOGS IF GOV BROWN SIGNS SB 1221?  I'm betting that the majority will end up dumped at our already-overwhelmed animal shelters, where most will be euthanized.  These hounds are not good candidates for adoption.

Be careful what you wish for.  Dogs, bears and bobcats alike deserve better.

(JS:  I hope the math is wrong.  22,000 hunting hounds in California staggers the imagination.  How many are chasing bears?  Do we have that many bears?  How do you keep them busy?  How keep them fed?  How much and what do they eat?   Poop?  Where does the poop go?  They must exercise; who takes them out for their runs?  So many questions.)

1.          Rematch at Board of Appeals today -- we were turned down again in our request for a rehearing, therefore  . . . .
2.          Join our appeal to the California Coastal Commission!    This is it!  If you haven't already, mail us your form NOW.
3.          Protest Rec and Park Policies - Join us at the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park this weekend
4.          Donate Today!   Credit Card or Check
5.          Status of CEQA lawsuit on the Environmental Impact Report.

1.          Board of Appeals hearing - rejected again.   The BOA has rejected our request for a rehearing.  So . . .

2.          Join our Appeal to the California Coastal Commission (CCC)! 
              This is it!  If you haven't already,  join us as co-appellants-- it easy, free, and involves no legal obligation! We have 100 people signed up - help us to make this 200!  The more folks who join the appeal, the better!  And a big "thank you" to all of you who have already sent in your forms!

Here's how to be a co-appellant (= someone who joins with others in an appeal):
1.       You and/or your organization and/or your friends and neighbors can be co-appellants both as individuals and as an organization.
2.       Appeals require an original signature.  Print out the attached signature page 4 pdf, sign, date, and add your printed name and address at the bottom.  We will collate all of your forms and submit them to the CCC as co-appellants.
3.       Mail the form to us, or drop it by 1243 42nd Avenue, SF. , CA  94122.
4.       We will have only 10 days once the City files its Final Notice.  Get your forms to us today!  
5.       You may also fill in your own 4-page form completely and mail it in.   To learn more, go to the CCC website.
6.        Note:  We will do our best to submit forms to the CCC by the due date, but we cannot guarantee delivery on time.   Stuff happens.  Appellants who are concerned about this, should submit the forms on their own.  See the California Coastal Commission website for more information on forms and due dates.

3.          Join us at the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park  -
              Protest Rec and Park privatization and commercialization policies.
This event was just announced.  We will try to have a display table -- we don't know the location yet, but if you want to join us, contact our volunteer coordinator or go to the Be-in Website for more information on locations.   The website is:
Here is the article from the SF Examiner:

4.          Our thanks to the SF Bay Guardian Press coverage:
The Park Bond Battle:  SF Bay Guardian:
Artificial turf project appealed as opponents decry use of kids as lobbyists:

Whose Park (November 2011)

5.          Donate today!    Help us to protect Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach.
Click here to donate by check

6.          Status of CEQA Lawsuit on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
Still up in the air!  Many of you have asked if we are filing a lawsuit regarding the EIR.  Our attorney has prepared a good case, however, funding both the CCC Appeal and the EIR lawsuit will require extensive resources.   Please donate today!


4.  Feedback

I re-post this feedback from Tess Wellborn in last newsletter, as I failed to respond at the time.  Subsequently, Calvin Welch added comment.
Jake, I appreciate your support for the park bond.  I agree our parks need funds.  I disagree that the last bond, a mere two years ago, was well-spent.  Therefore I doubt that a new one would be.  Look at Rec and Park's arrogant response to Prop. B, ignoring it.

The timing is wrong - it's too soon for another park bond, and other city needs, like education, should be addressed.  But the management and its priorities are the main problem.

Jake is mi- informed about bonds in any way addressing the deferred maintenance issue he raises...GO bonds CANNOT AND ARE NOT USED for maintenance.  They can only be used for new capital development which in fact, given NO MAINTENANCE RESERVE   by Rec and Park would actually make the deferred maintenance issue much worse.  One of the main objectives of the NO on B campaign is to change Rec and Park policy requiring them to create and fund a maintenance reserve instead of using bond after bond to build new facilities they can't (won't) maintain.
Calvin Welch

Tess:  How embarrassing.  I know as well as anybody, and frequently correct others when they talk about using GO (General Obligation) money for ongoing maintenance; in my haste I was careless with language.

What separates maintenance from capital projects is mostly pretty clear, but there are gray areas.  I am involved in, eg, natural areas and open space issues, and a clever, high-priced lawyer could have a field day with what constitutes maintenance and what capital here.  Truth is, until the Natural Areas Program was created in 1995, there was no maintenance of these areas at all except for hazard situations.  None.  RecPark didn't even pick up the garbage, with the exception of abandoned cars and dumped refrigerators.  Today these areas, unsurprisingly, have huge backlogs.  Is it deferred maintenance or capital projects to address severe weed problems, erosion, loss of biological communities, &c?  (Granted, there is little in the 2012 bond to address these issues, other than addressing a few erosion problems, but you get my point.)  I don't expect you to be familiar with these issues, but be aware that there are problematic areas outside your view.

And you, Tess, were careless as well.  The last bond was in 2008, not two years ago.  And it's not clear what you mean by "Rec and Park's arrogant response to Prop.B, ignoring it."  Was the 2008 bond Prop A or Prop B?  Is that what you meant, the 2008 bond?

And isn't the whole point of issuing a bond, which can be spent only on capital projects, to free up General Fund $$ (of which RecPark has been getting fewer and fewer each year for some time now) for other needs like education?  The more I hear from bond opponents the more hollow it sounds, as well as self-destructive.  We voters are fairly good at that.
Thanks, Jake, and your points are well-made.

I meant Prop B Coit Tower, which has been ignored.

On Sep 8, 2012, at 6:20 PM, ed dunn wrote  (pursuant to our exchange in last Feedback):
Thanks for your reply. I would love to talk more about this. Maybe we should meet for coffee sometime?
Ed:  As of last week I was still vacillating on the bond issue.  However, since then I've had opportunities to sort out and think through the issues and my position is fairly crystallized now.

A GO bond needing 2/3 presents an irresistible temptation for those with grievances to "send a message".

You and I are aware of the problems and dysfunctions of City govt, but if everyone with an agenda takes advantage of this kind of opportunity to get attention to their issue(s), how are we to govern ourselves?  Whatever doubts I had initially, I am now of the firm opinion that opposing the bond will accomplish nothing positive, regardless of whether it is defeated or not.  If defeated, you won't get attention to your issue, and if it wins you'll be even further out in the cold than you perhaps feel now, and the dire needs of our parks will become more desperate.  You will doubtless think differently, but the reality you see is a different one from what I see.

Assorted thoughts:

1)  Gavin Newsom appointed Phil Ginsburg to, among other objectives, raise revenue, which means privatizing; Ed Lee follows the same path.  The electorate voted for both Newsom and Lee.  That is the way the democratic process works, imperfect and subject to manipulation as it is. 

Privatizing public services is anathema to me and I would consider almost any desperate measure to counter this pernicious trend, which is widespread as the public sector is being starved.  Exploiting a vulnerable bond is not the way to do it; it doesn't--and it can't--get to the problem, which is public sector starvation.  My god, what unhappy times--we're starting to attack ourselves.  That is what often happens to the oppressed--they don't know where their own interest lies; when they can't get at their oppressor they attack each other.

2)  A bond defeat would exert even more pressure on the General Fund (see my response to Tess Wellborn) and make stronger the impetus to substitute private money for public financing.  You will argue with me on that, but it wouldn't be the first time you've been wrong, would it?  The older I get the more attention I pay to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

There's more, but got to stop sometime.

On Sep 10, 2012, at 6:44 PM, An Wi wrote:
Regarding "no problem"--I have no problem with it. I do have a problem with the nonsequitur contraction of "you are well come" as a response to an expression of gratitude instead of as a greeting, which "welcome" seems more to be.
You're welcome is the only way I have ever heard it (or seen it) - this is the first time I have encountered well come.  Did you just make that up, An?
To me, "no problem" is closer to translating the romantic "it's as nothing" (e.g., "de nada," "du rien"), and a way to dismiss a sense of obligation from the thanker. I much prefer "no problem."

That is exactly what it means, but when it is said with the frequency of you know, like, wow, awesome, fantastic....and said mechanically and mindlessly it becomes grating.  I hear it even when I haven't made a request that it might be an appropriate response to.  I think most people feel like Garrison Keillor does in that little satirical skit.
Welcome's derivation is "well" or "will" come; see, for example, I'm not saying anyone says the full phrase, I'm saying if you look at the derivation of the contraction people now use it makes zero sense. Saying "you're welcome" after "thanks" is equally mindless, so we might as well go with the Germans or Italians and use a word like "bitte" or "prego" that can mean please or thank you or seven other things depending on context.

Lee Rudin (re map of The World According to Americans):
Surprised CA and NY isn’t colored purple for gay! Many good responses to the cartoon posted. I forward a lot of your stuff..people think im a treasure trove of info, most courtesy of your newsletter.  thanks for all your efforts, lee


In 55 days San Francisco will vote on the future of Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Restore Hetch Hetchy has created the Yosemite Restoration Campaign to advance its goal of someday righting one of the greatest affronts to our environment. To that end, we gathered over 16,000 signatures to place Proposition F on the ballot in San Francisco this fall.

Prop F will:
1) Create an environmental task force comprised of volunteer experts

2) Develop a plan for San Francisco to build its local water resources and reverse the damage caused to the Yosemite and the Tuolumne River by the old water system.

3) Submit a comprehensive plan to the voters in 2016 that includes restoration of    Hetch Hetchy Valley.  Powerful voices in defense of the status quo have lined up against the campaign. We need you to add your voice to the debate. Please join our campaign today by signing up at If you can volunteer in any fashion, please let us know by clicking the volunteer button and share how you can participate and your availability.

Our greatest path towards victory, is through mounting a 21st century grassroots campaign online and out in the field.

Sign up now and help build the team that will get this important work accomplished!


Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics

U.S. tightens limits on cutting timber in Sequoia Monument – Los Angeles Times
Responding to a judge's order, the Forest Service says it is thinning trees to reduce the risk of fires. Conservationists insist it is a logging plan.

Underwater forest shows Fallen Leaf Lake once suffered from 'megadrought' –Reno Gazette Journal
As Nevada and much of the country struggles with the effects of one of the worst drought years in recent memory, scientists continue studies of a Sierra drought they say likely dwarfed any event of modern times.

Scientific American
EXTINCTION COUNTDOWN: Updates from the Brink: Dying Devils, Disappearing Vultures and a $473,000 Fish


7.  FARALLONES MARINE SANCTUARY - Sanctuary Starlight Naturalist Paddle

Join a leisurely naturalist-led paddle in the protected waters of Richardson Bay. Float past harbor seals, sea birds and shore birds. Learn about the endangered California Clapper Rail that frequents bay mudflats and estuarine marshlands.  An introduction prepares you for a leisurely paddle into the sunset along Sausalito's waterfront. Discover more about the area's human and natural history as you pass along Sausalito's eclectic and colorful houseboats, with Mt. Tamalpais in the distance.

September 21st, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
$65 per person
Departs Schoonmaker Point Marina, 85 Libertyship Way, Sausalito
AGE MINIMUM: 18+, or 15+ with an adult

Space is limited; pre-registration is required. Contact Erica Warren, 415/561-6622 x 232, or

Centennial Naturalist Hike: Tracking Marin's Elusive Predators
Saturday, Sept 22, 2012, 10:00am to12:30pm

Marin County is home to grey fox, bobcat, coyote and mountain lions, however, these animals are very rarely, if ever, seen. Please come and join naturalist Virginia Fifield on an easy 3 mile hike along Rock Springs Road. Participants will learn to identify the field sign of these elusive predators, as well as to learn about the trail cameras that have been utilized to document wildlife presence around the MMWD Watershed. Participants must RSVP as this hike is limited to 10 people and is suitable for older children and adults. 415-945-1128.


9.  Lawn Alternatives: Do-It-Yourself Native Plantscaping

A symposium on native plant gardening from design to installation and maintenance

Lawn Alternatives: Do-It-Yourself Native Plantscaping is a one-day symposium being offered on Saturday, September 29, 2012, 8:45am to 5:30pm at Foothill College, Lecture Hall 8338, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills.

The theme is how to design, install, and care for native plant gardens – to save money, save water, and save the environment, all at the same time. Topics range from garden design and plant selection to lawn removal, garden installation, and maintenance, with a focus on specifics, practical steps, and how-to information. If you are a homeowner looking to do it yourself or a landscape professional wanting to hone or refresh your skills, this event is for you.

The speakers are accomplished professionals and authors: Peigi Duvall of Indig Design, Deva Luna of EarthCare Landscaping, Sherri Osaka of Sustainable Landscape Design, Nancy Bauer, author of The California Wildlife Habitat Garden, and Helen Popper, author of California Native Gardening: A Month-by-Month Guide. The program includes refreshments, lunch, and a reception. Books and plants will be available for sale.

The symposium is organized by the California Native Plant Society (Santa Clara Valley Chapter), hosted by Foothill College Environmental Horticulture Department, and sponsored by Bay Area Water Supply Conservation Agency and Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Registration is now open; discounts are available for advance registration by Sep. 15, for CNPS members, and for students. Space is limited: early registration recommended. To register, visit: For more information, email, or call 650-260-3450.

Space is still available but going fast. Early bird rates valid until Saturday, Sep 15.

Save the Date
Friends of Biology Open House

Saturday, October 6, 2012
2:00 to 4:30 p.m.
Hensill Hall Lobby
San Francisco State University

Join us in celebrating the cutting edge research of students and faculty in the Department of Biology at San Francisco State University.

This event will recognize the tremendous achievements of the department, as well as your generous support which makes them possible.  The afternoon will provide an opportunity to tour the facilities, and hear from faculty and students about their research in the Department of Biology.

Presentations by Dr. Vance Vredenburg and Dr. Diana Chu.

We look forward to seeing you!

Mike Goldman, PhD                     
Professor and Chair                      
Department of Biology

RSVP to Joe Schillaci at (415) 338-2647 or e-mail
Wine and light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Continued from last newsletter - more September 11 poetry from Dan Liberthson


In a place both subterranean and liquid
I swim-walk nearly blind, touching
hands, shoulders, breasts, faces.

Remotely pleased by contact, not alarmed,
like amoebas nuzzled by their fellows,
they reach gently and form up to the touch.

Then seeing happens like a camera flare:
these are only parts, detached and longing.
Oddly, I don’t flinch even as they crowd.


The stump remembers the severed limb
and vice-versa: cut off they ache—ache
for comfort like babies ripped from breasts.

What has become of you O brothers and
sisters, my lovers, since your flesh shredded
from your souls in Hatred’s metal teeth?

I still mourn your lost bodies—do you?
I remember your smiles and turnings, all the
dear odd habits that made you mine, me yours.


Nothing is so merciless as a hungry idea,
born of mind yet despising mind—craving all
flesh and spirit for itself: consuming and consuming.

Where are these starving ideas born
but in the pits of empty, clenched stomachs
and voracious minds squeezed dry of light?

From dominion’s greed is born the Razor,
bodiless edge slicing through all promise,
severing at its roots the Tree of Life.


I love my breath just as you did.
I warm to my love just as you did.
My love warms to me just as yours did.

Why then am I here and you gone?
What will I do with your memory,
entrusted to me and we who live on?

I feel you—watching from the dream place
under the earth, the waves—press
your lives into my cupped hands and turn away.


Don’t go! I take your gift and drink it in
until my whole being brims with your light,
until my shadow shines diamond bright.

Stay with me: I will sing life with your voices,
your breath risen to knit the shattered world again
day by day as the sun rises to warm us all.

Let us make the world anew, salved with care
and grace distilled from your love and despair.

Let us plant a new tree in your soil—there!
What Goes Around

© Dan Liberthson

Those who think
God’s love is
for them alone
and for those
who believe
as they do
don’t see
God’s love is
their own love
which denying others
they deny God
and God them.

(Dan will be reading his poetry at the SHARP clubhouse in the Sunset on Sunday October 14.  Will post the event later.  JS)

To have great poets, there must be great audiences. -Walt Whitman


12.  Coastal Cleanup Days - September 15

Volunteer Event:  Coastal Cleanup Day -
Candlestick Pt. State Recreation Area 

Date: Saturday, September 15, 2012
Time: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Thomas Avenue and Griffith Street
San Francisco, CA 94124

This event involves planting native plants at Yosemite Slough, a recently remediated area of Candlestick Point SRA.  It is a chance to see an interesting area that has been closed to the public.


Colma Creek Cleanup:

When: Saturday, September 15, 9 am to noon
Where: Colma Creek, meet at the bridge near 180 Utah Ave (corner of Utah and Harbor) in South San Francisco 94080
What: Cleaning up trash from the creek banks

Harvey Milk Academy Rainwater Harvesting Project:

When: Saturday, September 22, 9 am to 3:30 pm
Where: Harvey Milk School, 4235 19th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
What: Installing rainwater harvesting tank (cut and build a wooden frame for the new tank, shovel gravel into hole, and roll the new tank into place.

Colma Creek is a trash "hot spot" in the Bay Area. Garbage from the streets gets washed into storm drains, which flow directly to our creeks and bay. Help us prevent this trash from making its way into the Ocean!

Gloves and garbage bags will be provided, however we encourage you to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bucket) in order to reduce the number of plastic bags we use. Long pants, sturdy shoes, water, and sunscreen are recommended.

Click here to register or email or 882-7252
This event is sponsored by the Tuolumne River Trust, the San Mateo County Department of Public Works, and the City of South San Francisco


1. Participate in Coastal Cleanup Day on September 15th-- Join thousands of volunteers across the state in uncovering the natural beauty that lies beneath trash in our creeks and along on shorelines. Click here to find a site near you.

2. Urge your local lawmaker to support AB 298. This bill will prohibit stores from distributing single-use carryout bags. The bill also requires stores to provide plastic bag recycling collection bins and creates a reusable bag certification program. Click here to find your local senator and send a support letter.

As Mencken would have said, free opinion directs the boot of truth at the crotch of power, and the more it hurts the better. Half a century after his death, news is the endangered species. Opinion – raw, cruel, unguarded, outrageous, euphonious, cacophonous opinion – is what is riding high.
(From Simon Jenkins column in GW 2/11. 

SF Bay's dirtiest spots
                     San Francisco Bay Pollution: Environmental Group Reveals The Bay's Dirtiest Spots

Once a year, Save the Bay, the largest regional organization working to protect our water, releases its list of the dirtiest, most polluted spots in the Bay. And this year's list is a doozy.

"Trash continues to do serious damage to San Francisco Bay and the ocean," said Jared Blumenfeld of the Environmental Protection Agency in a release. "It's everyone's responsibility to reduce trash."

The list includes the five areas throughout the Bay that present the largest problem. In a release, Save the Bay noted that each of the hot spots is in one of the top ten cities that contribute the most trash to the Bay Area.

Though trash pollution is still a major concern in the Bay Area, Save the Bay Executive Director David Lewis noted that San Francisco has been a leader in pushing for preventative measures.

"Even better than cleaning up trash is preventing it in the first place," said Lewis in the release. "Our Clean Bay Project goes beyond cleanups by helping cities implement proven solutions to reduce trash at the source, including bans and fees on plastic bags, Styrofoam food containers, and other common litter items. Since 2007, when San Francisco passed the nation's first plastic bag ban, cities across the Bay and around the nation have implemented similar bans."

Check out the 2012 hot spots in the slideshow below. Then visit Save the Bay to help out.

'Tis the season to be jolly! Coastside Land Trust Gallery is celebrating the Holiday Season through the arts and is soliciting submissions for our annual Holiday Show. Last year's Holiday Show was a huge success, don't miss the opportunity to be featured in this years show!

To apply please do the following:
       1. See the application, fill out and sign, and return to us via email or snail mail between October 1 and October 8, 2012. 
       2. Send digital images required with the application to

We encourage you to submit your coastside influenced work and all medium are invited to be considered. Submissions will be accepted October 1 through October 8, 2012. To recognize the Holiday Seasons during this show, the Gallery will be dedicating some wall space to “Small Works” that can be suitably priced for gift giving.

Please visit the Gallery web page or call 650.726.5056 for more information.

"The Fly" by artist Robin Mize
Now hanging in the Coastside Land Trust Gallery Fall Festival Show -$150


15.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

If war is the answer, what was the question?

Who fired the first shot?
John Reynolds Auckland, New Zealand

• The question is: "What are you doing on my turf?"
Peter Vaughan, St Senoch, France

• My T-shirt reads: "If war is the answer, we're asking the wrong question." Could have bought a bumper-sticker, too.
Donna Samoyloff, Toronto, Canada

• What has been the most frequent destructive event in every century?
John Graham, Hoogstraten, Belgium

• In each of the following what word is synonymous with abject failure: 1. in Iraq; 2. in Afghanistan; 3. on drugs; and 4. on terror?
Gavin Mooney, Mountain River, Tasmania, Australia

• Clausewitz alone knows.
Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

A ruler of some kind
Who drew the first straight line, and how?

Eve drew the first straight line when she tried to keep Adam on the straight and narrow. She drew a line in the sand and said "Don't cross it, or else."
Ted Webber Buderim, Queensland, Australia

• A crow, by flying from A to B.
 Felix Ansell, Haworth, Bradford, UK

• It's up to the birds and the bees again. A crow will tell you how it flies, and a bee what it's making for.
E. Slack, L'Isle Jourdain, France

• God drew the first line before the tree of knowledge.
David Tucker, Halle, Germany

• I'd go for the Romans up on Hadrian's Wall, building it and various roads in splendidly straight lines.
Ursula Nixon, Bodalla, New South Wales, Australia

Going straight ... but Hadrian got there first.

• One of the ancient rulers used a rod of iron.
Paul Lloyd, Swansea, UK

• An early Persian ruler.
John Marbrook, Auckland, New Zealand

Keep it simple. Thanks
Why and where did the now, alas, ubiquitous "No problem" arise?

I don't know where, but, at the end of the day, equally, alas, ubiquitous, it is a case of one-upmanship, implying that there is a problem, magnanimously forgiven. Similarly, a simple you're welcome in response to thank you has become thank you.
Aaron Fine, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, USA

• From the unfathomable depths of the American language swamp. You're welcome. No problem.
Tom O'Shea, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

• "No problem" is the fast food version of the more eloquent  and slowly drawled Aussie "She'll be right, mate". Of course the tea and tiffin brigade would prefer a simple "yes", but where is the magic?
Gaynor McGrath, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

It's a fight to stay ahead
Who gets paid by results these days?

Headhunters get paid by results, and their victims face a struggle to keep ahead.
David Tucker, Halle, Germany

Any answers?

Leaders, trying to move away from something uncomfortable, are always saying: "We've got to put this behind us and move on".

Could there ever be something about which a politician would say: "We've got to put this in front of us and move backward"?

Ned Noel, Wamboin, New South Wales, Australia

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