Monday, November 18, 2019

Time In

We have returned.
We have spent most of the past year working on our companion blog, that of biological surveys, of semi-professional, near reality quality.
That blog has been compiled into a book, How the Earth Was Lost. It has most of the essays that appeared there, plus new essays, illustrations, and photographs; 25 chapters in all, plus an introduction. It even has footnotes and an ISBN. That is more reading than doctors advise in a day.
This may or may not be good news.
We hope to create more blogs on the gyrating world of ecology, but that depends. If the public outcry is too severe, we will hang it up.
In the meantime, you can find it at Amazon. It is in print format but we hope to have an ebook version out shortly, once formatting is approved.
 - Us

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Time Out

We are temporarily withdrawing the writings from the public domain. We may or may not return, depending upon various and sundry things.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

What makes a plant rare?

Questions from our readers:
Sully, from Arcadia, asks, "What makes a plant rare?"
I am glad you asked that question, Sully. This reminds me of the words of Pierre Loupgarou, the acclaimed botanist from Mendication University in Skandia. In his classic work, The Growth and Management of Dreams, he wrote: "Rarity is not a condition but a perception that progresses until one is unable to identify anything at all." I would have to agree, although lately, I am not so sure. Have you noticed how the plants in the guidebooks don't always look like the one you have in your hand? Have you noticed that the phenomenon increases as the years go by? There is a simple, elegant explanation. It is your evolutionary process hard at work in the academic community! Yes, although once shielded from the forces of natural selection and genetic drift by a system of entitlements, professional societies, tenure, grants, and mutualism, academia is now rife with adaptations. Like a flood of Norway rats spilling over the gunwale of the Mayflower and swimming toward shore, evolution has invaded the community, resulting in a massive speciation and extinction. Eusocialty, theory diversity, and critical resistance is on the rise. Trophic cascade has impacted pensions, internships, research, funding, staffing, office furniture, even publications. So, it is no surprise to find studies showing that, while plants in the field will stay morphologically and functionally equivalent over time, plants in the professional journals will exhibit gradual changes in morphology over the same period, particularly in reproductive structures. Current theory holds that the rapidly changing conditions now found on campus are a prime factor. Many new species are appearing in the journals; some report as many as one an hour. As a result, it is inevitable that a species will become completely unrecognizable. So take heart, you are not seeing things, in fact, you are not seeing anything at all.

Friday, December 8, 2006

The Healing Properties of Plants

Another reader asks, “Dave, have you ever come across Schmoller’s locoweed, a.k.a. Oxytropis schmolleriaea? Some say it is named after the fabled naturalist, Ogelia Schmoller, but I wonder if you are involved somehow.”

Nary a day passes by without someone asking me if I know Ogelia Schmoller, the fabled naturalist, and if I hear that question one more time I will file charges against her estate for professional harassment. Ah, Ogelia. She was born in Miles City, Montana in 1883 to immigrant parents, raised on a homestead, and educated at a one-room schoolhouse. When her parents froze to death in the blizzard of 1888, her aunt took over her rearing until she dropped out of secondary school, hopped onto a boxcar, and followed her dreams to Butte, Montana. There she settled down in an upstairs flat on Caledonia Street, found a job at the opera house, and established a life rooted in her hometown values of indulgence, insolence, indolence, and, in the end, indigence. She was found by street sweepers, face down in a gutter, hand on a bottle, having lived her dream to the full. Sure, Ogelia was fabled as a naturalist. I can heartily agree with that - she was a natural liar and everything said about her was pure fable. She was gifted. Well, OK, I take that back, it is true - she was a naturalist. She knew all she needed to know about hops and barley and malt and the interaction of microbes with each, and I suppose that makes her a naturalist in some corner of the world and I guess that means my village is full of naturalists, since there is a stream of them pouring out of that bar right now and heading to their cars because it is two in the morning and the joints are closing up for the night so the barmaids can clean up their hypothesis and postulation. Judging by the size of the crowd, there must have been a lot of scientific method going on behind those swinging doors tonight.

Theory: If my wife does not see me drink, does that mean I am sober?
Test: Call the wife and see what she says.
Results: Blame the wife for my problems and go to another bar so she can’t find me.

This is rigorous scientific inquiry by active minds, some of the finest in the land. The potential makes my head swim! Think of it: If this community could be enlisted to tackle the big problems facing mankind, who knows what we could accomplish? Problems like destruction of the rain forest, the melting of polar ice caps, the overharvesting of the oceans could be eliminated. We could find solutions to them all. I get numb all over thinking about it.

Rain forest: Borrow trees from some other country. When they ask for you to pay up, just make empty promises, and be sure to not pay the tab. When they run out of trees, borrow from another country. Repeat the process. There are plenty of countries to go around.
Polar Ice Caps: When someone expresses alarm, tell them that there is a simple explanation, that the earth simply has the flu and is running a little temperature. It will be feeling better in a day or two. No need to worry. Everything will be OK. If they mention the problem again, tell them the same thing. If it is repeated enough times, it becomes common. If it becomes common, it is normal. If it is normal, what is everybody worried about? Somebody is overreacting here and it is not me.
Oceans: This is not our problem. Someone else caused us to do it, and they better get their act together because they have a real problem with overconsumption and I can tell by the way you are talking that you are in denial. You need help.

Come back, Ogelia, come back.