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, December 22, 2012


If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.     -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1.   Beyond Searsville Dam job offer/Stanford’s deficient HCP
2.   SF Port/BCDC waterfront design committee meeting Jan 7
3.   5 top reasons why you should join SaveTheFrogs
4.   Shop online to help
5.   BAEER Fair Jan 19
6.   As it goes hi-tech, wildlife biology loses its soul
7.   Pest Prevention By Design Guidelines
8.   Feedback/JK Galbraith
9.   Adbusters: the man who inspired the Occupy movement
10. I Am Completely Different, by Kuroda Saburo
11.  Notes & Queries: Why ask N&Q when you can just Google them?
12.  Scientific American
13.  Sneezles, by A.A. Milne

1.  Beyond Searsville Dam
Stop Stanford University's flawed Habitat Conservation Plan

Federal wildlife officials are poised to finalize Stanford University's deeply flawed Habitat Conservation Plan, a move that would compromise the health of San Francisquito Creek and San Francisco Bay, while posing new flooding and Searsville Dam safety concerns. Adoption of this 50-year plan, and associated federal permits to allow Stanford to incidentally harm and kill endangered species like steelhead trout, would be a major setback for ongoing watershed planning efforts to implement comprehensive habitat restoration and improve regional flood protection.

Public comments on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Stanford University’s controversial Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) are being accepted until December 24th at 5pm PST.

Take Action- Please sign the online petition and submit your comment today

We're Hiring!

Position: Associate Director of River Restoration with American Rivers and Beyond Searsville Dam

We announce that, with your generous donations, we are teaming up with our nation’s leading river conservation group,American Rivers, to offer a job as Associate Director of River Restoration.  Beyond Searsville Dam is a project of American Rivers and they have long been our non-profit fiscal sponsor. This American Rivers position will be based out of the Peninsula Conservation Center in Palo Alto, a long-time hub of environmental advocacy. Beyond Searsville Dam's roots go back to our involvement with theSan Francisquito Watershed Council and Steelhead Task Force which were both housed at the Peninsula Conservation Center. This Associate Director of River Restoration position will build upon our past efforts and focus on the rewarding work of removing the remaining steelhead passage barriers from the San Francisquito Creek watershed and helping Beyond Searsville Dam achieve our goal of a free-flowing San Francisquito Creek watershed.

Find out more HERE.

Port of San Francisco
Waterfront Design Advisory Committee meeting
7 January 2013, 6.30 pm
Bay Conservation & Development Commission
50 California Street, 26th floor
San Francisco

Review the concept for the Draft Pier 70 Crane Cove Park Master Plan. This meeting is a joint meeting of the Port’s Waterfront Design Advisory Committee (WDAC) and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Design Review Board (DRB). The concepts being reviewed are the same presented at the December 8th Community Workshop and December 11th Port Commission meeting.

The format of this meeting is to receive input from the Design Review Board/Committees, it is a public meeting and the review boards accept and appreciate public comment. The meeting format differs from the recent community design workshops as its purpose is to have the Board and Committee members review the proposal, receive public comments, and then provide comment to the project sponsor and design team.

If you have any questions, Please feel free to contact David Beaupre at 415-274-0539 or

3.  The most important action any frog lover can take to help SAVE THE FROGS! is to become an Official Member today. Your financial support enables us to grow our movement, educate the masses, and implement on-the-ground actions that provide direct benefit to amphibians and their habitats. Just as important, the larger our supporter base, the easier it is for us to receive assistance from foundations, corporations, politicians and other nonprofits. Plus you get a great membership package when you join! So make your voice heard by joining SAVE THE FROGS! today. The frogs are disappearing fast, but we can save them -- with YOUR help.

Thanks so much!
Kerry Kriger, Ph.D.
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder, Executive Director, Ecologist, Webmaster & Frog Lover

Top 5 Reasons to become an Official Member of SAVE THE FROGS! today
#1 -- Frogs are the most rapidly disappearing animals on the planet.
#2 -- Nobody does more to help frog populations than SAVE THE FROGS!
#3 -- You understand that our programs cost real money, and you care enough about the future of our planet to chip in.
#4 -- Your children and grandchildren will thank you for helping SAVE THE FROGS!
#5 -- You get awesome membership benefits!

Shop Online with and SaveNature.Org.

‘Tis the season to shop online!  Not only does this allow you to stay away from the busy traffic and crowded shopping centers but it also enables you to make the world a better place. This year please consider using during your online shopping to support SaveNature.Org.  The process is easy! All you need to do is register and then every time you search the web, shop online or dine out, will donate a penny or small percentage of the cost to SaveNature.Org. is the easiest way to make a difference.  Please register at today and enjoy the gift of giving!

Bay Area Environmental Education Resource Fair
Conference on Engaging Youth In The Environment
Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 10 am - 4.30 pm
Marin Center Exhibit Hall, San Rafael

General Admission $12
Senior/Students $10
Youth $8 - Kids under 6 free
Information: 510-657-4847,

As it goes high-tech, wildlife biology loses its soul
   We're learning a lot by monitoring millions of animals, but the high tech methods used to track animals take some of the mystery out of our relationship with the wild.
High Country News 18 December 2012

7.  San Francisco Department of the Environment

Dear friends in the architecture, construction, engineering and pest management fields:
We announce the release of the Pest Prevention By Design Guidelines, a new, peer-reviewed resource for designing buildings that are more resistant to common pests, such as rats, mice, pigeons and cockroaches. Funded by the US Centers for Disease Control, the free guidelines aim to reduce both pests and the use of pesticides for the lifetime of a building, thereby improving indoor air quality, reducing toxics exposure, and more effectively managing pests.

The San Francisco Department of the Environment led the project over the past year and a half, with extensive assistance from a national, cross-sector team of experts.  The Center for Environmental Health helped coordinate the project, and the International Code Council has reviewed the guidelines. You can download them here:


8.  Feedback

On Dec 18, 2012, at 1:51 PM, Peter Rauch wrote:
I'm not sure where you got the info that this Conopid is a new species (could be, I suppose, and it wouldn't be surprising --I just don't find any suggestion at the URL cites that it is).

Any specifics on that ?

Notice the long mouthparts (out of focus) extending down below the head; they're used to get at the flower nectar.

The adults lay eggs in wasps/bees, on which the fly larvae are parasites.

There are 70+ species known in N.A. (and no doubt, more undiscovered/undescribed species).

Peter:  I first read the item in the current Science News (15.12.12).  I might be able to send you the short article; however, Science News’ Search service is abominable, and I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to find things there.

A quote from the article:  A self-described novophile, (Brian) Brown says he and fellow fly lovers “are junkies for the new and different.”  So far, he has discovered about 500 new species.  "Finding the new species isn’t the problem: it’s finding the time to describe them all”, says Brown, an entomology curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

On Dec 18, 2012, at 1:11 PM, LL wrote:
A colonoscopy is  a true "pain the the ass." The surgical part is the least of it, the day before is the worst. I have had 5 of them over 15 years because my mother died of colon cancer. My last one found the beginnings of a segment of colon cancer. Surgery a year ago meant another colonoscopy this month, and I learned then that I had no trace of it now.  Believe me, I didn't want to have the end of my life like my mother’s.

On Dec 19, 2012, at 8:10 AM, Jim Ansbro wrote:
"18.  JS editorial:
(I occasionally pillory economists in these newsletters, which gets me into trouble with an economist friend.  I need to explain that I use economist as a shorthand for a complex of decision-makers.  The decision makers are embedded in The System and systems, as we know, resist change.)"

Season's Greetings Jake ,

I stumbled upon the ditty below on Link.TV ( providence? ) & discovered the delightful institution from England.

This 11 min. economics talk by Anglo-Marxist David Harvey is quite insightful; & with RSA's illustrations very entertaining :

Curiously - note Harvey's closing comment " I don't have the solutions "

Thanks very much for this, Jim.  I will post.

I’m puzzled by your last line:  “Curiously - I don’t have the solutions”

I was very relieved that he didn’t have a solution, otherwise I wouldn’t even have taken the time to listen.  Anyone who has a solution to this gargantuan problem is not worth listening to - BUT, we sure as hell need discussion and debate, which this guy encourages--so bully for him.

The last person I took seriously on this subject was John Kenneth Galbraith.  He was witty, charming, and very smart--and knew it, but I wouldn’t accuse him of arrogance, only of honesty.  I don’t know of anyone today that I pay that much attention to.  I very much like Robert Reich; however, he also seems to buy in to eternal growth, as growth seems to be part of his responses to our economic dilemmas.

BTW, are you still a Republican?
Every Damn Day !
OK.  But the only good thing I can think about it is that you’re therefore not a Democrat.


JK Galbraith:
"Recessions catch what the auditors miss." 

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.

John Kenneth Galbraith, JFK's ambassador to India, to JFK:  "Attempting to communicate through the State Department was like trying to fornicate through a mattress."

"Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists..."   

One of my greatest pleasures in writing has come from the thought that perhaps my work might annoy someone of comfortably pretentious position.

Then comes the saddening realization that such people rarely read.

In the earlier stages of industrialization the engineer is important.  In the later stages he yields place to the artist.  The practical man who holds that this is a lot of precious nonsense may, like the automobile makers, have to learn the truth the hard and expensive way."

"Switzerland would be flat without the Alps." 


9.  Kalle Lasn: the man who inspired the Occupy movement

For more than 20 years, Adbusters magazine has been visually subverting capitalism. Its founder and editor outlines his radical new manifesto

View a gallery of images from the Kalle Lasn/Adbusters book Meme Wars

Guardian Weekly, Monday 5 November 2012

The Adbusters book Meme Wars makes its serious economic points with the aid of sharp graphic images. Photograph: Adbusters

Last November, 70 Harvard economics students walked out of a lecture by their faculty head, Greg Mankiw. Angry at the conservative nature of Harvard's economics course, they were suspicious of their lecturers' failure to predict the ongoing financial crisis, and their unerring faith in the theories that led to the crisis in the first place. So up stood the students, and out they went to join a march organised by Occupy Boston instead.

It's this kind of campus reaction that Kalle Lasn wants to inspire with his latest book, Meme Wars – the Creative Destruction of Neo-Classical Economics. "I want to light a fire under the economic students around the world," he says. "I can imagine a few of them asking: how come we are still being taught the old economics? Why did not even one in a hundred of you professors see the meltdown coming? It's an invitation to the students who get wind of the book to create a bit of a ruckus within the university."

Lasn is the founder and editor of Adbusters, the very leftwing, very well-designed magazine that has railed against consumerism since 1989. Among other successful stunts, Adbusters has popularised TV Turnoff Week – where, as you would expect, millions try to avoid television for seven days. Then there's the annual Buy Nothing Day, which is again fairly self-explanatory. Both campaigns go hand in hand with what Adbusters is most famous for: culture-jamming, or subvertising, which sees the magazine's team create spoof versions of well-known adverts. It's also the organ that invented the concept of Occupy Wall Street, and Lasn is the man who first registered the movement’s website.

Like anyone involved in Occupy, Lasn doesn't want to be identified as its figurehead or posterboy. He is proud of the movement's horizontal structure, and has been running from the authoritarian left since he was a child. Born in Tallinn in 1942, his family fled the Russian invasion two years later. For the next half-decade, he lived in a German refugee camp, before spending the next two decades in Australia and Japan. Lasn made it to Canada in 1970, where he now lives on a small farm outside Vancouver, apparently padding to work in wellington boots.  Before founding Adbusters, he made TV documentaries that critiqued capitalism. Yet he defines himself against consumerism, rather than with the old-school left.

"For the past 15 to 20 years, we at Adbusters have been saying we have to jump over the dead body of the old left," he says. "I'm not all that interested in the political left, unless it's this new horizontal left that's coming out of Occupy."

But Meme Wars is not, he stresses, a manifesto for Occupy, a movement often criticised for its lack of direction. It is nevertheless an attempt to do what Occupy couldn't: it's a radical economics textbook that Lasn hopes will spread the spirit of Occupy from the town square to the university campus. "It was of the things that the Occupy movement didn't quite achieve, unlike in 1968 – the great moment in my life, when I became politicised," he says. "For some weird reason, when almost the same thing [as 1968] happened in Zuccotti Park, and then spread around the world like it did in '68, it didn't really happen in the universities."

The book is billed as an alternative textbook, and it certainly looks it. Adbusters pastiches adverts to satirise consumerism – and Meme Wars does something similar for economics primers. "Darling!" reads a subverted image of two 50s lovers. "Let's get deeply into debt." Elsewhere, graphs that chart economic growth over the past half-century are overlayed with ones that show a simultaneous rise in depression and pollution. While the text's content is pretty dense, visually it has the look and feel of a messy scrapbook or graphic novel. There aren't even any page numbers: a rejection of what Lasn sees as the faux-rationalism of mainstream economics. "That's deliberate. We don't like page numbers. It's one of the left-cortex things that you don't actually need if you want to understand something such as economics."

Lasn sees three problems with conventional economics teaching. First: orthodox or neo-classical economics has brought the world to the brink of financial ruin. Second: by fostering a consumer culture, it has turned humanity into a selfish, anxious race. Third: it fetishes economic growth – even though this growth is ultimately destructive, since it both makes us unhappy and wreaks unsustainable havoc on the planet's natural resources. "This is one of the most fatal flaws in neo-classical economics," says Lasn, in a delicate Estonian lilt that belies the passion of his argument. "We cannot keep on selling off our natural capital and calling it income. It's the most stupid mistake of all … When they measure growth, they don't measure real progress."

The "they" to which he refers is the economics establishment. People such as Harvard's Greg Mankiw, whose textbook, Principles of Economics, is taught in many universities, and which – Lasn argues – helps entrench the values of orthodox economics in the minds of each successive generation of economists, who then use their influence to maintain the status quo inside governments.

Lasn's modest hope is therefore to inspire the next generation to grab Mankiw and his brethren "by the scruff of their neck and throw them out of power. In a sense, I am calling for a scientific revolution: a revolution where the new guard – the heterodox, maverick people who have been sniping for a long time – rise to the top and finally create a new kind of economics." Once that happens, Lasn argues, a new crop of economists will emerge – "and they'll become economic advisers to the people running governments all around the world, and bit by bit the whole practice of economics can begin to heave."

As Lasn himself acknowledges, his hopes are not new. In fact, Meme Wars is structured around the thoughts of leftwing economists who have been making these arguments for years. The book features interviews with Joseph Stiglitz, and essays by, among others, Herman Daly and George Akerlof. "We," says Lasn of his colleagues at Adbusters, who helped him edit the book, "took all these people who we had fallen in love with over the years, and we put together a jigsaw puzzle of them."

Meme Wars takes those existing radical arguments and uses them to flesh out what Lasn sees as a new(ish) brand of radical economics. Something that is humbler than the orthodox schools – that doesn't hubristically see itself as an exact, rational science, but a social one. Lasn suggests the concept of "psychonomics" – economics that takes into account human behaviour – or "bionomics", which bears in mind the cost of environment damage. "There has been a maverick tradition out there that has been snapping at the heels of the dominant paradigm for a long time," he argues. "But they haven't quite zeroed in on exactly what [the alternative] could be. And I thought of those two words."

There is no faulting Lasn's ambition. "At the risk of sounding a bit grandiose," he says, Meme Wars "is an attempt to do something that actually could put humanity on a new path." Of course, it probably isn't quite as revolutionary as all that. Behavioural and no-growth economics already exist as concepts. Tim Jackson's Prosperity Beyond Growth and Ha-Joon Chang's 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism are just two recent books that also contradict traditional economic ideas. But Meme Wars – with its unusual visuals and collation of today's main radical thinkers – is nevertheless a welcome addition to the fray. And if its unique graphics can turn a few more heads than its predecessors on campus, then so much the better.

Meme Wars: the the Creative Destruction of Neo-Classical Economics, by Kalle Lasn/Adbusters


I Am Completely Different

I am completely different.
Though I am wearing the same tie as yesterday,
am as poor as yesterday,
as good for nothing as yesterday,
I am completely different.
Though I am wearing the same clothes,
am as drunk as yesterday,
living as clumsily as yesterday, nevertheless
I am completely different.

Ah ...
I patiently close my eyes
on all the grins and smirks
on all the twisted smiles and horse laughs---
and glimpse then, inside me
one beautiful white butterfly
fluttering towards tomorrow.

~ Kuroda Saburo ~

(translated by James Kirkup, Burning Giraffes: Modern and Contemporary Japanese Poetry)


11.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

Why do people ask questions of Notes & Queries when they could just Google them?

Google answers would be merely factual but we look to the N&Q answers for a bit of light relief from the reporting of the many ways in which humans manage to stuff up their societies and the very planet we live on.
Margaret Wilkes, Perth, Western Australia

• Posing that question to Google returned about 9,850,000 results in 0.25 seconds. Notes & Queries is much more succinct.
Stuart Hertzog, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

• Because Google offers but one version of a valid response and does not flatter anyone's vanity by identifying the questioner.
Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

• Because computers have no sense of humour, let alone brilliant, scintillating wit like ours.
Dick Hedges, Nairobi, Kenya

• More intelligent replies.
Edward Black, Church Point, NSW, Australia

• Because the Guardian wins hands down on humour and the erudition of the double entendre.
Ken Munro, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

• No direct source to the show-offs in Google and you have to admit, we are rather good.
Mary Oates, Perth, Western Australia

• Only N&Q will give you sensible answers to some questions. For example, try asking Google about tax avoidance.
Alan Williams-Key, Madrid, Spain

• Because the internet is unreliable.
Gaynor McGrath, Armidale, NSW, Australia

• Because Google is serious, whereas Guardian readers are cool.
Gill Gabel, Lewes, UK


Scientific American

EARTHTALK: Meal Thicket: Students Balk at New School Lunch Nutrition Standards
Lunch strikes, Facebook protest pages, Twitter campaigns, YouTube parodies and other means have been utilized to voice opposition to the healthier meals

EARTHTALK: Fight to Know: California Voters Turn Down Label Requirements for Genetically Modified Products
Proposition 37, requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods, was defeated in a close election, but other anti-GM efforts continue

EARTHTALK: Clean Energy "Victory" Bonds Seek to Recapture Spirit of U.S WW II Investment Drive
Will the bill giving everyday Americans the opportunity to invest in clean energy pass in Congress?


12.  Sneezles

By A. A. Milne

     Christopher Robin
     Had wheezles
     And sneezles,
     They bundled him
     His bed.
     They gave him what goes
     With a cold in the nose,
     And some more for a cold
     In the head.
     They wondered
     If wheezles
     Could turn
     Into measles,
     If sneezles
     Would turn
     Into mumps;
     They examined his chest
     For a rash,
     and the rest
     Of his body for swellings and lumps.
     They sent for some doctors
     In sneezles
     And wheezles
     To tell them what ought
     To be done.

     All sorts of conditions
     Of famous physicians
     Came hurrying round
     At a run.
     They all made a note
     Of the state of his throat,
     They asked if he suffered from thirst;
     They asked if the sneezles
     Came after the wheezles,
     Or if the first sneezle
     Came first.
     They said, “If you teazle
     A sneezle
     Or wheezle,
     A measle
     May easily grow.
     But humour or pleazle
     The wheezle
     Or sneezle,
     The measle
     Will certainly go.”
     They expounded the reazles
     For sneezles
     And wheezles,
     The manner of measles
     When new.
     They said, “If he freezles
     In draughts and in breezles,
     May even ensue.”

Christopher Robin
Got up in the morning,
The sneezles had vanished away.
And the look in his eye
Seemed to say to the sky,
“Now, how to amuse them today?”

A. A. Milne, “Sneezles” from The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh. Copyright © The Trustees of the Pooh Properties

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