Asian Flu

From the United States Center For Disease Control (CDC) web site:

1957-1958 Pandemic (H2N2 virus)

images.pngIn February 1957, a new influenza A (H2N2) virus emerged in East Asia, triggering a pandemic (“Asian Flu”). This H2N2 virus was comprised of three different genes from an H2N2 virus that originated from an avian influenza A virus, including the H2 hemagglutinin and the N2 neuraminidase genes. It was first reported in Singapore in February 1957, Hong Kong in April 1957, and in coastal cities in the United States in summer 1957. The estimated number of deaths was 1.1 million worldwide and 116,000 in the United States.

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Dance with Me Harry

Yet another fact that nails down the commonality between human males and other hairy creatures:

download.jpgThousands of hairy, dancing male tarantulas are emerging from their hidden burrows of the western U.S. in record numbers in search of the perfect eight-legged partner. The annual mating season lasts from late August to October and this year experts say there are more tarantulas on the make than usual. The male tarantulas are not mature for the first five to eight years of their life, but when they reach their sexual maturity they join with other randy arachnids in search of female burrows. In an interview with the Guardian, Forest Urban, manager of the invertebrate program with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, explains that the tarantula genitalia are near the spider’s face and look like boxing gloves. “They use this glove-like apparatus to dispel sperm, and then it deflates like a balloon,” he said. The male then high tails it out of the female den before she eats him.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, THE DAILY BEAST

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A Pact With the Devil

imgres.jpgThe world has signed a pact with the devil; it had to. It is a covenant to which every thing, even every hydrogen atom, is bound. The terms are clear: if you want to live, you have to die; you cannot have mountains and creeks without space, and space is a beauty married to a blind man. The blind man is Freedom, or Time, and he does not go anywhere without his great dog Death. The world came into being with the signing of the contract. A scientist calls it the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  A poet says, “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/Drives my green age.” This is what we know. The rest is gravy.

— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim At Tinker Creek

Smokey the Bear: Ecoterrorist

images-1.jpgA few years back I spent some time touring the sites in the western national parks. Yellowstone was not that many years past that huge fire which destroyed half the trees in the forest. Our guide, however, put a more positive spin on that event: half the trees were spared and were still thriving.

What we learned was that fire is actually a friend of the earth. Fire eliminates choking scrub growth, removes old, dead, or diseased trees, and creates needed pasture land, expanding the habitat of the forest animals and allowing fresh new growth.

Another value of forest fires was obvious as you looked off in the distance to the heavily wooden mountains: half of the trees were brown not green. The pine bark beetles are destroying our forests. Ironically, it is the occasional forest fire that normally keeps the pine bark beetles in check.

Consider the proposition that Smokey the Bear is not a friend of the earth.