Friday, August 28, 2015

Fish for Friday

An iceberg in Greenland
Edited by
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

With Arctic temperatures rising rapidly thanks to climate change, Greenland’s ice sheet is melting and raising sea levels. "While You Were on Vacation, a Chunk of Ice the Size of an Asteroid Fell Into the Ocean." [Emily J. Gertz, takepart] Excerpt:
Imagine Manhattan buried under a thousand feet of ice. That’s how much of Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier fell into the Arctic Ocean last week, becoming a 7.8-square-mile iceberg.
    “As a single event, this is a fairly rare size,” said Twila Moon, an ice sheet scientist at the University of Oregon. But the phenomenon isn’t unusual, she said, because glaciers in Greenland “pulse” seasonally. That means they break off at their edges and retreat inland in summer, and move back toward the ocean in winter.
    Still, the ongoing retreat of the Jakobshavn Glacier is another sign that climate change is further destabilizing the ice sheet covering Greenland, one of the world’s biggest repositories of freshwater. Even with temperatures in the Arctic rising at nearly twice the global average, scientists have been surprised in recent years by the fast melt rate of Greenland’s land-bound ice, which contributes to sea-level rise.

Mount Tambora eruption's profound aftermath influenced the skies of 19th-century paintings
like “Chichester Canal,” above, by J.M.W. Turner
"How a Volcanic Eruption in 1815 Darkened the World but Colored the Arts." [William J. Broad, NY Times] Excerpt:
In April 1815, the most powerful volcanic blast in recorded history shook the planet in a catastrophe so vast that 200 years later, investigators are still struggling to grasp its repercussions...The exploding mountain, [Mr. Wood's] book notes [see next paragraph], heaved some 12 cubic miles of earthen matter to a height of more than 25 miles....
    A recent history of the disaster, Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World, by Gillen D’Arcy Wood, shows planetary effects so extreme that many nations and communities sustained waves of famine, disease, civil unrest and economic decline. Crops failed globally.
    “The year without a summer,” as 1816 came to be known, gave birth not only to paintings of fiery sunsets and tempestuous skies but two genres of gothic fiction. The freakish progeny were Frankenstein and the human vampire, which have loomed large in art and literature ever since.
    Clive Oppenheimer, a volcanologist at the University of Cambridge, who has studied the Tambora catastrophe, put the chance of a similar explosion in the next half-century as relatively low — perhaps 10 percent. But the consequences, he added, could run extraordinarily high.
    “The modern world,” Dr. Oppenheimer said, “is far from immune to the potentially catastrophic impacts.”...
    ...the revelation of global volcanic ruin — a portrait 200 years in the making — offers a kind of meditation on the difficulty of uncovering the subtle effects of climate change, whether its origins lie in nature’s fury or the invisible byproducts of human civilization.
"No, You Do Not Have to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day." [Aaron E. Carroll, NY Times] Excerpt:
Many people believe that the source of this myth was a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board recommendation that said people need about 2.5 liters of water a day. But they ignored the sentence that followed closely behind. It read, “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”
    Water is present in fruits and vegetables. It’s in juice, it’s in beer, it’s even in tea and coffee. Before anyone writes me to tell me that coffee is going to dehydrate you, research shows that’s not true either.
    Although I recommended water as the best beverage to consume, it’s certainly not your only source of hydration. You don’t have to consume all the water you need through drinks. You also don’t need to worry so much about never feeling thirsty. The human body is finely tuned to signal you to drink long before you are actually dehydrated.
"For Athletes, the Risk of Too Much Water." [Gretchen Reynolds, NY Times Excerpt:
...coaches and others worry that dehydration leads to muscle cramping and possibly heat illnesses, including serious heat stroke. So, hoping to keep their athletes healthy and safe, they press them to drink fluids before, during, and after a practice, whether the athletes feel thirsty or not.
    And if an athlete should develop cramps or feel excessively hot during the workout, they are told to down even more fluids, and if the cramps continue, still more, “until, before you know it, a player will have drunk a gallon or two of fluid or even more,” Dr. [Kevin] Miller [an associate professor of athletic training at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich., and co-author of a new report about overhydration] said, “which is something that we know actually happens.”
    The problem with this situation is that, according to the latest science, dehydration during sports is rarely if ever dangerous, but overhydration undeniably is.
    Last year, for instance, in a heartbreaking incident, a high school football player in Georgia experienced cramps during practice, and hoping to alleviate them, began gulping large amounts of water and Gatorade. By the end of the practice, he had swallowed about four gallons of fluid, according to media reports. Not long afterward, he collapsed at home and was rushed by helicopter to the hospital, where, several days later, he died....
    During recent telling experiments that [Dr. Miller] directed, for instance, volunteers who exercised and sweated in the heat until they had become severely dehydrated were no more prone to muscle cramps than they had been at the start....
    Instead, both cramping and heat problems seem to result from athletes pushing themselves too hard. Muscles cramp, Dr. Miller said, when a muscle is fatigued and begins to spasm, not when an athlete is dehydrated, while heat illnesses generally occur in athletes who are not physiologically acclimated to hot weather (a process that requires slowly increasing the length and intensity of workouts in the heat) and who continue to exercise even as they start to feel awful.
    So, he said, “the best advice” about how to keep young athletes healthy during warm-weather practices and games, “is common sense.” Don’t urge athletes to drink if they aren’t thirsty. And don’t make them keep playing if they aren’t feeling well, he said.
When we present knowledge as more certain than it is, we discourage curiosity. "The Case for Teaching Ignorance." [NY Times] Excerpt:
As [Columbia University neuroscientist, Stuart J. Firestein] argued in his 2012 book Ignorance: How It Drives Science, many scientific facts simply aren’t solid and immutable, but are instead destined to be vigorously challenged and revised by successive generations. Discovery is not the neat and linear process many students imagine, but usually involves, in Dr. Firestein’s phrasing, “feeling around in dark rooms, bumping into unidentifiable things, looking for barely perceptible phantoms.” By inviting scientists of various specialties to teach his students about what truly excited them — not cold hard facts but intriguing ambiguities — Dr. Firestein sought to rebalance the scales.
    Presenting ignorance as less extensive than it is, knowledge as more solid and more stable, and discovery as neater also leads students to misunderstand the interplay between answers and questions.
    People tend to think of not knowing as something to be wiped out or overcome, as if ignorance were simply the absence of knowledge. But answers don’t merely resolve questions; they provoke new ones.
A visual history of human knowledge. How does knowledge grow? Sometimes it begins with one insight and grows into many branches; other times it grows as a complex and interconnected network. [A March 2015 TED talk, 12:49]

Some of the world’s last mountain gorillas: One of my all-time favorite IFAW [International Fund for Animal Welfare] videos. So much soul in their eyes.

Releasing "Cinderella" the endangered Amur tiger: The slow-motion shot really captures her incredible power and beauty. And those claws!!!

A study of more than 2,200 species finds that humans are the planet’s most deadly natural-born killers. "Meet the Super-Predator Wiping Out the World’s Wildlife." [John R. Platt, takepart] Excerpt:
Watch any nature documentary, and you’ll see the same story unfold time and time again: A predator approaches a group of potential prey and ends up taking down a single animal, perhaps the youngest, the weakest, or the oldest among them.
    Watch human beings doing the same thing, and you’ll observe something different: They’ll either take the biggest animal—the strongest and the most charismatic—or they’ll just go ahead and take the entire group.
    That fundamental difference in behavior, according to a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, makes humans the worst predators on the planet.
    The paper – more than 10 years in the making – surveyed 2,215 predator species around the world. It found that humans kill adult animals at rates up to 14 times higher than any other predator. Not only that, but we also target an abnormally high number of other predators, not just for food but also – as with Cecil the lion – for sport.
Add caption
How come it's legal for a man to go into the woods and kill the mother or father of a fawn with a high-powered rifle, but it's not legal for me to take up a stand out there and prevent it by shooting the man before he pulls his trigger?

Elephants are one of the most iconic and intelligent animals in the world. They build lifelong bonds with their family members and even mourn their dead.
    But over the last century, the elephant population has taken a devastating hit as poachers slaughter one elephant about every 15 minutes to fuel a massive and lucrative illegal ivory trade.
    As long as the illegal trade in ivory continues to flourish, elephants will continue to be killed in droves – until eventually, there are none left.

Bishop's Castle - USA
A medieval castle built over 40 years by Jim Bishop in the San Isabel Forest (Colorado).
Bishop began building it at age 15.

Those are great pictures you took of the equestrian parade in Santa Barbara. I was surprised, however, that Trump wasn't riding the lead horse.

An African American woman yells 'Freedom'
when asked to shout so loud it will
be heard all over the world
"Race in the US: Know your history." And then you might understand how the death of Michael Brown became a tipping point in the US. [A'Lelia Bundles, Aljazeera] Excerpt:
There will never be an acceptable explanation for what happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson in Ferguson but we will never fully grasp why the stage was set for such an encounter unless we know American history.
    We cannot fully comprehend why Dylan Roof murdered nine parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston unless we study the Civil War and the Confederacy.
    We cannot truly fathom how a minor traffic stop in Cincinnati could result in a white campus police officer blowing out the brains of an unarmed black man unless we delve into the role race has played in law enforcement from the enactment of the federal Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 to today's mandatory minimum sentencing statutes....
    What used to be called "'the Negro problem" really is a matter of the intransigence of white supremacists who are mired in the past.
    Slavery was not the benign, paternalistic system described in the history textbooks of my youth. Instead it was a brutal, often sadistic, form of domination over the bodies and minds of people who were kidnapped, whipped, beaten and raped. Generations of human beings toiled against their will without pay or legal rights.​
The photo shows Snohomish County firefighter Ken Lawless, left, and Lt. Brandon Gardner being thanked for saving the home of the man on the right. The man is wearing a T-shirt that says "Lower Taxes + Less Government = More Freedom"].
    Yeah, freedom to watch your home burn to ashes. Freedom to rebuild from the bottom up (or not depending on insurance, etc). I swear to g*d I hope these people see the intensity of the irony in this picture.

Soon it will be compulsory for the elderly to not only carry their ID with them, but also their insurance papers, their list of medication and a compact version of their medical history, their views about resuscitation after a cardiac arrest etc, etc.
    So, when an older person wants to go out he or she will need to carry a lot of paperwork!!
    That is why there has been developed a special USB stick for seniors.

I very much enjoyed reading your account of what you heard on Day 3 [of wearing hearing aids]. The words [you chose] conveyed the real sense of the sounds you heard. As usual, I must interject the dour observation, amidst your recounting your happiness in your hearing these sounds, that when your hearing was normal these sounds hardly registered in your thought inasmuch as they are so much a part of our every day world. I sympathize with your problems in the restaurant. I've had many persons who wear assisted hearing devices tell me that they experience the most difficulty in groups in which there are many voices.
    I'm afraid my auditory nerve is weakening somewhat. I find myself unable sometimes to hear words correctly. I have to ask [my wife], and others, to repeat what they tell me. I note, mentally (and somewhat bitterly) that if am to suffer auditory insufficiency why can't it be of sounds that I find intrusive, like loud car radios, motorcycles, background music in nearly every commercial establishment, rude people talking in loud voices in public places, etc. I suppose the only thing to do is to offer up the indignity of it all for my sins – that's what Sister Agatha told us to do when I was in the fourth grade.

One of my pet peeves is noisy restaurants! Terrible music and bad acoustics. I have suffered every Sunday after church where the talking is so bad you have to scream practically to talk, yet [my husband] enjoyed it so much I put up with it.

I have always heard (sorry for that word), that a restaurant is the absolute worst place to use a hearing aid. Poor guy. But a very good explanation and use of nouns to describe it all!

Limerick of the week:
Conversing in a cafe's laborious,
the misunderstandings notorious.
    If you lean in your head to hear,
    will she take your coming so near
as a sign you're getting too serious?
Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean


  1. Thanks for today's harvest: Greenland’s ice sheet and sea levels, 1815 volcanic eruption and dark skies. Should you drink 8 glass of water a day? Do athletes drink too much water? Discouraging curiosity, picturing how knowledge grows. ​Soul in the eyes of the world's last mountain gorillas, a rescued tiger released back to the forest, the world's super predator, what's legal to shoot to kill, elephant slaughter continues. A contemporary medieval castle, equestrian parade without Trump. Knowing the history of race in the U.S., what freedom does or doesn't equal. The real Ronald Reagan. What has never been illegal in Canada? Compulsory elder I.D. Hearing-aid controversy over conversing in a busy restaurant (or cafe)....

    1. Also, Ed, the list above, of phrases for the fish, seemed awfully long to me. I later shortened it for my Google+ and Facebook "ads":

      "Greenland’s ice sheet, the 1815 volcanic eruption. 8 glasses of water a day? What about athletes? Discouraging curiosity, how knowledge grows, the world's last mountain gorillas, a rescued tiger released, super predator, shoot to kill, elephant slaughter, a 'medieval' castle, equestrian parade Trumpless, the history of race in the US, freedom to what? The real Ronald Reagan, never illegal in Canada, elder ID, hearing aids...."

      Better? Or not enough shortening? What do you think?

  2. Fish is still good on Sunday morning as long as it is fresh.

    1. Ed, do you think the fish is still fresh? I'm thinking that, whether fresh or not, there might be too many of them. Too much to read – not that any particular reader reads them all. And I wonder how many of the links to complete articles actually get clicked on?
          Do you think I ought to include fewer fish in future? Please advise me.
          And I welcome others to comment as well. Please do.