Friday, August 7, 2015

Fish for Friday

Colorful stairs at the School of Arts
in Saint Herblain, France
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

I love this article. Chicory is my favorite wild flower around here where it grows along the roadside in abundance. "Chicory Is the Cheshire Cat of Herbs." [NY Times] Excerpt:
Chicory’s flowers are as blue as the summer sky, their casual, untrained beauty heightened by the meager settings in which they grow. One of the best ways to see chicory in New York City is to simply take a drive. The plant seems happiest growing from road medians, cracks in curbs and mangy, un-mowed fields. It grows alongside other beautiful but outcast plants like Queen Anne’s lace, dandelion and soapwort, and it takes only a wet week or two in July to produce a burst of color that can challenge autumn’s leaves.
    The brilliant color in such unlikely surroundings can turn the heads of observant urban naturalists, including John Updike:

Show me a piece of land that God forgot —
a strip between an unused sidewalk, say,
and a bulldozed lot, rich in broken glass —
and there, July on, will be chicory.
    Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a nonnative plant with a long history serving humans. It is probably best known for the bitter drink which is brewed from its dried and ground roots and is still enjoyed as a coffee substitute, or additive, in many parts of the country. (If you’ve ever been to Café du Monde in the French Quarter of New Orleans, you’re aware of how chicory can elevate a café au lait.) The young leaves are also prized for salads, particularly in Europe, where the plant is not the lowly weed we pass on the parkway, but a specialty crop.
Five years ago the Sierra Club launched Beyond Coal, a campaign to retire one-third of our nation's coal plants by 2020. Everyone scoffed. We were dreamers. Coal was here to stay.
    Boy did we prove them wrong.
    With your help – and the help of local organizers, lawyers, and partner organizations – we retired one coal plant every 10 days for 5 straight years. 200 coal plants altogether are retired or slated to be retired, out of the original 523 we took aim at.
    Yes, that means we've surpassed our 2020 goal. We're dreaming even bigger now: retire half of all coal plants by 2017. Thanks to you, we're well on our way.
    ...It's a campaign that's fought on the ground, in communities all across the country – and in Congress, where we're fighting off attacks from a House and Senate that are increasingly in the pocket of Big Coal.

"High-resolution 3D images reveal the muscle mitochondrial power grid." [National Institutes of Health, News & Events] Excerpt:
A new study overturns longstanding scientific ideas regarding how energy is distributed within muscles for powering movement. Scientists are reporting the first clear evidence that muscle cells distribute energy primarily by the rapid conduction of electrical charges through a vast, interconnected network of mitochondria — the cell’s “powerhouse” — in a way that resembles the wire grid that distributes power throughout a city. The study offers an unprecedented, detailed look at the distribution system that rapidly provides energy throughout the cell where it is needed for muscle contraction....
    “The discovery of this mechanism for rapid distribution of energy throughout the muscle cell will change the way scientists think about muscle function and will open up a whole new area to explore in health and disease,” says Robert S. Balaban, Ph.D., scientific director of NHLBI’s Division of Intramural Research and chief of NHLBI’s Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics....
    The movement of muscles, from flexing your arms to the pumping of the heart, requires lots of energy that must be distributed throughout the cell. For example, the skeletal muscle rate of energy utilization can increase 100-fold with strenuous exercise. As a result, muscle cells contain many mitochondria, microscopic structures that are specially equipped to convert foods, including sugars and fats, into useable high-energy molecules, particularly adenosine triphosphate (ATP), for work. As part of this process, known as oxidative phosphorylation, the mitochondria, like small cellular batteries, use an electrical voltage across their membranes as an intermediate energy source in converting food into ATP. Thus, this mitochondrial membrane voltage can be considered one of the primary sources of energy in the cell.
    Scientists have long-believed that mitochondria distribute energy to muscle cells mainly by molecular diffusion, or the slow spread of the end products of oxidative phosphorylation, including ATP and other compounds, through the crowded cell. However, recent genetic studies suggest that diffusion alone does not fully support the distribution of energy in heart and skeletal muscle cells. Researchers have suspected that a faster, more efficient energy pathway might exist but have found little proof of its existence — until now....
    Identifying this basic property of the muscle cell in how it distributes energy has potential implications for disease diagnosis and treatment. These findings could spark new avenues of scientific and medical research, the scientists said. In the future, scientists may use muscle biopsies or sophisticated non-invasive imaging techniques to determine how defects in mitochondrial networks impact different diseases.
    Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online.
Experts say the majestic African elephant could be extinct in the wild within a decade. A website where many of us hunt for used furniture or apartment deals is helping to hammer the nail in the coffin.
    A new study found a flourishing black market for ivory on Craigslist, and no way to know where it comes from, despite laws and treaties banning or tightly restricting the trade. The appetite for ivory that's killing elephants across Africa and Asia is often blamed on consumers in China or Hong Kong, but conservation groups say North America is the second largest ivory retail market in the world.
    Craigslist is one of the most popular pages on the web, with 50 billion page views and 80 million new postings each month, so it’s no surprise then that people looking to profit off the trade, often militant groups and international criminal syndicates, gravitate there. Wildlife groups found that despite a policy prohibiting ivory sales, sellers are still unloading ivory in major markets across the US, mostly without any documentation or proof of provenance.
    If Craigslist wants our business, they should enforce their own policy, and block ivory sales. Let’s help give elephants a fighting chance by demanding they do. The more ruckus we raise, the more leverage we’ll have in negotiating with the company to do the right thing. Sign's petition now and pass it on.

While on his recent trip to Kenya, President Obama announced over the weekend the final steps of a near-total ban on the U.S. ivory trade! Send your thanks and urge him to strengthen these new protections.
    While commercial imports of African elephant ivory are already banned, these new rules would strengthen the ban by closing loopholes in the intrastate trade of elephant ivory and restrict the number of elephants that trophy hunters can import into the U.S.
    It's a long-awaited and urgently-needed victory in our fight to end the brutal slaughter of African elephants for their tusks – and a major win for dedicated National Resources Defense Council supporters. Send your thanks and urge the President to strengthen these new protections.

Having a bad day?

"8 Pictures From Inside Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehab." Raising babies is hard, but bringing up the babies of endangered species—like sea turtles—is something else, writes National Geographic’s Jane J. Lee. Summer is sea turtle nesting season, and volunteers and scientists are busy helping these vulnerable creatures beat the odds. Excerpt:
But staff and volunteers around the world continue their work because sea turtles can use all the help they can get, especially Kemp's ridley turtles, the world's most endangered sea turtle.
    Summer is hatching season for Kemp's ridleys, and so workers have their hands full right now ensuring the newborns get out to the ocean safely. "We're working day and night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," says Donna Shaver, chief of the sea turtle science and recovery program at Padre Island National Seashore in Texas.
    So if you've ever wondered what it was like to work with adorable, and endangered, animals, flip through the following behind-the-scenes pictures of rescues, rehabilitation, and releases.
A naturalist loads a dead loggerhead sea turtle into a van for transport
to the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Massachusetts.
The turtle swallowed a 10- to 15-foot-long fishing line
and likely died because it could no longer feed.

How hot can it get in a car?

Nanosecond photo:

Zhangye Danxia Mountains – China

Limerick of the week:
He went to put his glasses on his head,
but found that he had only made the bed;
    even if he could see the words
    and make out all the nouns and verbs,
could he remember what it was he'd read?
Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these! Colorful stairs, shoot first & "target" later, a favorite wild flower, beyond coal, our muscles' power grid, Craigslist & elephants, banning the United States' ivory trade, bad police day, sea turtle rescue & rehab, hot cars, bird on a telescope, colorful mountains, why did I come in here?