Summer Lazarus

Richard Conniff hopes that Ospreys will nest in his neighborhood.

An osprey on the hunt circles over open water, hovers with a characteristic fluttering, decides this isn’t quite the spot, circles and hovers some more, and finally plunges feet-first into the water. It may struggle to become airborne again, with a fish up to 14 inches long mortally pierced between its talons. The bird then heads back to the nest with its unwilling passenger slung underneath. The fish travels headforemost, silvery and slim, and often with what the poet Mary Oliver called “a scrim of red rubies on its flashing sides.”

Ospreys are the overlooked beneficiary of the post-DDT era comeback, Mary Ann to the more charismatic Peregrine Falcon (Ginger) or Bald Eagle (Lovey Howell). Beautiful predators, just the same.

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Reversed hockey stick

Worldwide cases of Guinea worm have been reduced by 5 orders of magnitude in the span of 30 years: one human generation. And a lot of the credit goes to The Carter Center, established by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn.

Perhaps most astonishingly, the disease is facing eradication due to public health education and dirt-cheap technology: water filters. Chew on that, Big Pharma.

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Passive to active

A thoughtful leader from this week’s Nature in support, generally, of citizen science.

…as increased scrutiny falls on the reliability of the work of professional scientists, full transparency about the motives and ambitions of amateurs is essential.

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Dan Charles revisits the circumstances that led to the domestication of blueberries (Vaccinium sp.) by Elizabeth White and Frederick Coville. Blueberries are my favorite breakfast fruit, and my ex-wife did her doctoral research on blueberry pathogens. And extra serendipitous: I was in Hammonton just last month, and I saw some of the guys sweating out in the fields getting the crop in.

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work in progressLearning Ally staff posted on the bulletin board the log sheets for several books that our team of transcribers had recently completed. Sometimes it’s nice to get a little attaboy. I worked on at least one of these titles. The books we recorded include:

  • United States Government
  • Texas Science Fusion: Lab Manual Grade 8
  • Economics: New Ways of Thinking, 2/e
  • Working with Young Children, 7/e
  • Basic Drama Projects
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Happy creating

Eli Keel does community theater.

…we are living in an age when we get to choose our communities. I could be a sports fan, or a gamer, or build houses for Habitat for Humanity, or a zillion other things. But my real friends, my chosen family, my loved ones, they almost all do theatre. Many of them get paid. Many of them don’t. The ones that don’t make theatre are board members, boosters, donors, and most importantly, an audience.

That’s my community.


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The internet is amazing: 1

An unsold television pilot of Larry Shue’s The Nerd was made in 1989 and aired in 1996. Some of the corners are rounded off—Rick isn’t nearly as obnoxious as he could be—but the basic comic situation of the dinner party with the Wal(d)graves is there.

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The pedantic nuthatch archive has been relocated to a new host, lest posts like my my praise for Michael Kraskin’s sound design for The Faculty Room suffer the ignominy of linkrot. Thanks again, Brett!

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The complete Macaulay Library of natural sounds, with some recordings going back to 1929, has been fully digitized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and made available online.

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Waders gonna wade

Tim Krepp has an interesting take on the way that the World War II Memorial is being received by the public. It turns out that the gradual steps down into the pool are too inviting: on a hot day, people want to kick off their shoes and go wading. The Park Service has attempted to maintain the solemnity of the space by posting a little NPS-brown “No Wading” sign, but as Krepp points out,

Years ago when I was in the Navy, my captain had a saying: “Every sign is a failure of leadership.” For example, if you need a sign saying “no smoking,” it’s because you didn’t properly train your sailors not to smoke in that space.

That axiom doesn’t always hold outside the closed ecosystem of a ship, but I think it pertains here. If we need a sign saying “no wading,” it’s because the design has failed to discourage wading.

Personally, I think the ring of columns owes more to Albert Speer than to paddling on the beach at Cornwall, but horses for courses.

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Stories in sound: 1

Cory Turner listens to the work of neurobiologist Nina Kraus: an audio-driven screener for children at risk of literacy challenges.

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Thanks, I suppose

Comcast is sunsetting its personal web page hosting service, so I have relocated my microsites for Larry Shue and the Wood Duck and all the other static pages stored under the chorister’s c. I will relocate the archive of pedantic nuthatch posts shortly.

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It’s a little blue, and more than a little over the top, but John Oliver’s explanation of the disenfranchisement of D.C. residents (as glossed by Matt Cohen) is much appreciated.

Posted in Equal rights for D.C. | Comments Off on 51


A rather damning analysis by Adam Davidson of the failure of the market to accurately price bonds issued by Greece—alas, a market failure perhaps induced by government intervention.

The original sin of the Greek crisis did not happen in Athens. It happened on those computer terminals, in Frankfurt and London and Shanghai and New York. Yes, the Greeks took the money. But if I offered you €7 billion at 5.3 percent interest, you would probably take the money, too. I would be the one who looked nuts. And if I didn’t even own that money — if I was just watching over it for someone else, as most large investors do — I might even go to jail.

Posted in Economics and Business | Comments Off on GR0133004177

Paris, 1922-1939

live or memorex: 1live or memorex: 2I am one of the newest members of Conrad Bakker’s Untitled Project: Robert Smithson Library and Book Club. My copy of the Wake is the 14th printing (June 1973) of the Viking Compass edition of 1959. As you can see, the cover details are a little different from the one that Smithson owned.

live or memorex: 3What Bakker’s carved and painted replica lacks in readability, it beats my book for durability. The binding is badly cracked, and I’m not sure that it would hold up to a second reading (I made it all the way through in the summer of 1986).

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