Friday, March 20, 2015

Coffee and Provocation

The Bunnies are in the Pythons
It turns out that non-native Burmese Pythons released by owners (cartoon version of the history here) are killing everything in the Everglades. A study that placed radio transmitters insides marsh rabbits found all of the rabbits gone, while rabbits released outside of the Everglades, as a control, thrived.  According to paper co-author Robert A. McCleery of the University of Florida: "Every one (of the rabbits) we are saying was eaten by a python, we found inside a python. It wasn't like, 'I wonder what ate this.' You are looking for your rabbit and you find a python. The radio collar was transmitting from inside the python." Pythons are not just eating rabbits; they are also eating nearly every other creature in the Everglades, including deer, raccoons, and possums. A lack of prey animals is also driving out traditional native predators, like bobcats, coyotes, and hawks.

Blind and Not in the Woods
Current increase in myopia reflects a similar increase in children reading and studying more ... [S]urprisingly, it’s not the studying and screens that are to blame. Now researchers believe that it’s the very act of spending too much time inside that is causing the problem. After a great deal of research and eliminating other factors, scientists now think that it boils down to exposure to light. Regardless of what kids are doing – whether sports, or playing, and even those who continue to do “close work” (like reading) outside – what seems to be key is the eye's exposure to bright light. So while our kids are losing their connection to nature – while they’re becoming increasingly unfamiliar with the feeling of grass underfoot, mud in the hands, the sound of birds, the smell of dirt – they’re also losing the ability to see.

He Who Smelt It Delta It!
Even as NASA scientists are saying drought-stricken California has only one year of water left, the population of wild Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) has dropped to just four females and two males. The smelt were once common in the Sacramento-San Joaquin estuary until water in that estuary was diverted to supply the 25 million people and farmers in the area. Changes in water salinity and clarity followed, and along with them cam new invasive species of fish. The result? A massive population crash. The Delta Smelt was declared an endangered species in in 1993, and a recovery plan was established in 1996, but by then the population was teetering on the edge, with an average population of about 350 fish found between 2000 and 2006. The population crashed to just 25 fish in 2007 and has never recovered. Now, with the fish on s knife edge due to an overshoot of human population and unsustainable agricultural practices, and a mounting water crisis now threatening the state, it appears there is nowhere to go. There is, of course, a Delta Smelt captive breeding program. But to what end?

The Rise of Cafes, and the Decline of Cafe Culture
From Wonders and Marvels: "The innovations generated in cafés have shaped the world we live in. Cafés as thinking spaces continue to offer a model for how we can work in a creative economy where we’re all bohemians. Each of us needs privacy to cultivate our own unique voice and generate ideas, but we must refine those notions through conversation, brainstorming, and exchange with others. Without that balance, great ideas can suffer in silence or be subsumed in groupthink. Ironically, despite the growing number of coffee shops in American cities and their historic role in creative exchange, cafés offering a blend of isolation and sociability have been replaced by sites where we are alone in public. Starbucks and many others have brought elements of the historic café tradition into the present, but most customers in these places cut themselves off from one another with earbuds and laptops. How many people truly discuss ideas with someone at Starbucks on a regular basis?"

The Greatest Farm Gate Ever Made
It's entirely mechanical, and self-opening, and does not let farm stock out.


Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,

They've got a lot of bump gates in west texas. Plenty scrap from drilling operations and every farmer knows how to weld.


PBurns said...

This bump gate is a bit different Donald -- no bump. Look at the video again. There is a very low slotted ramp. The weight of the vehicle going up the ramp lifts and swings the gate. When the vehicle leaves the ramp on the other side, the weight of the gate closes it. And the sloted "cattle guard" ramp keeps animals off the ramp both coming and going. I've never seen a bump gate quite like this one.