Some links: 90

seven methods of killing kylie jenner

I don’t know of a graceful way to put this: this play will resonate more with audiences who are different from me. Many of the work’s themes—prejudices in favor of light-skinned BIPOC, the shameful treatment of Sara Baartman (the so-called “Hottentot Venus”), an offhand homophobic remark unearthed from the deep social media timeline—have been elaborated elsewhere. And let us retire the trope of bringing up the house lights to implicate the audience.

The play does make it clear that, and why, Cleo (Leanne Henlon) is enraged. And the strongest element is the theatricalizing of the chaotic cacophony that is a viral thread, realized by Henlon and Tia Bannon as her friend Kara. Their physicalizing of emojis is quite the thing. Don’t understand current British slang and internet initialisms? It doesn’t matter. The playing is there.

  • seven methods of killing kylie jenner, by Jasmine Lee-Jones, directed by Milli Bhatia. Royal Court Theatre’s production, presented by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington

Personally, I have never understood the mania for all things Jenner-Kardashian. But that’s easy for me to say.

Great Backyard Bird Count 2023

Working around the weather (as usual), as well as some other appointments, I visited the Glade and Lexington Estates Park at suboptimal times. But I came back with a combined species count of 21. The Great Blue Heron in the little skid of a pond in Lexington Estates was the biggest surprise. There seems to be more Leatherleaf Mahonia (Berberis bealei) along the Glade than in years past—or maybe I’m just better at spotting it. Nasty stuff.

Woodend lichens foray

Another lichens walk with Natalie Howe, this time as part of a five-week class, and this time back in the friendly confines of Nature Forward’s Woodend Sanctuary. I excelled at finding sticks with not-lichens, like this one with a big patch of Giraffe Spots (Peniophora albobadia). But I did meet two taxa of Physcia, including Physcia stellaris, a Parmotrema, and a shadow lichen, Phaeophyscia rubrophulchra.

We walked the new trail, so most of the rocks were newly-placed and hadn’t acquired the requisite patina of lichens.

The one downer about lichens workshops is that they tend to take place when nothing much else is going on, so it’s always freezing and windy.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story

HOTSPUR. Nay, I will. That’s flat!
[King Henry IV] said he would not ransom Mortimer,
Forbade my tongue to speak of Mortimer.
But I will find him when he lies asleep,
And in his ear I’ll hollo “Mortimer.”
Nay, I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak
Nothing but “Mortimer,” and give it him
To keep his anger still in motion.

Henry IV, Part 1, I:3

It’s fair to say that the ecological consequences of the introduction of European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris, EUST) into North America have been a (mostly adverse) mixed blessing. I’ve been told that EUSTs are favored by groundskeepers for golf courses, because the birds eat turf-destroying grubs—make of that what you will. And my grandmother had a particular animus against them; make of that what you will. I certainly wouldn’t knowingly park my car under a roost.

But perhaps we can retire the canard that the introduction happened at one place, at one time, by one man: Eugene Schieffelin, a drugmaker and socialite in New York. Research by Lauren Fugate and John MacNeill Miller, as reported by Jason Bittel, confirms that Schieffelin wasn’t the only American to release EUSTs, nor was he by any means the first. By the 1870s, “introductions were well underway,” decades before Schieffelin’s activity in 1890-1891.

According to the former president of the Acclimation Society of Cincinnati, between 1872 and 1874 the society released about four thousand European birds, including starlings.

“Acclimation” or “acclimitization” was a particularly boneheaded piece of nineteenth-century ecology that held that introduced species could improve an ecosystem.

Anglophone countries… focused instead on the ways importing species could increase the beauty, diversity, and economic yield of the local environment—sometimes because they themselves had destroyed it.

Most importantly—to answer a question that Rick Wright asked in a 2014 blog post— Schieffelin had no particular interest in the birds of Shakespeare. He just liked starlings. Fugate and Miller lay the myth on the desk of Edwin Way Teale, in an essay from 1948.

“[The starling’s] coming was the result of one man’s fancy,” he writes of Schieffelin: “His curious hobby was the introduction into America of all the birds mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare.” Published more than forty years after Schieffelin’s death this sentence is the first time Shakespeare enters the story. It is hard to say where Teale got the idea.

Perhaps Teale was bemused by Central Park’s Shakespeare Garden, begun in 1913, years after Schieffelin’s death.

As Wright wryly observes,

With a Horatian eye to their capacity to delight and to profit, the [American Acclimatization] Society’s introductions over the years included everything from brook trout to Java finches, neither of which, if memory serves, ever trod the boards at the Globe.

Shakespeare’s one reference to Sturnus vulgaris (above) isn’t even pejorative; rather, the bird is recognized as a good mimic. Make of that what you will.

Field trip and workshop resources in the DMV

Here’s a roundup, somewhat Northern Virginia-inflected, of some organizations that run field trips in the mid-Atlantic.

Nature Forward is our standard-bearer. Workshops and camps for kiddos and families, walks focused on birds/geology/botany/etc., CEU-credited courses in lichens/spring wildflowers/conservation history/etc., overseas travel—something for everyone at nearly every level of expertise. NF is also an important advocate for protection of natural areas in the DC metro.

Some outfits mostly interested in birds:

Are you ready for some botany?

Maybe something a little more niche is your interest.

Or you’re looking for something more fast-paced than the naturalist’s shuffle.

The Washington metro is a mosaic of publicly-accessible, natural areas under several different jurisdictions. Check out individual parks and recreational areas for scheduled workshops, camps, and events.

*I know these organizations only by referral/search, not by firsthand field trip experience.

I’m going to make this a thing, too

Teachers understand that errors in their learners’ output are normal and complex. They can be… a misapplication of an analogy (e.g., if “let’s do lunch” is correct, then “let’s do sandwich” should be fine also).

—Andrea B. Hellman et al., The 6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners: Adult Education and Workforce Development (2019), p. 63