Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Science Images for February from the Journal Nature

Environmental & Science Education
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

The photo team of the Brit scientific journal Nature pick February's sharpest science images, including a video..

Late, of course but ithis is like an old magazine to be thumbed through or....

Hope you like 'em.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Corona Virus Calendar of President Trump Comments

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

This video (1 m 22 s) has been making the rounds--Trump's statements on the Corona virus pandemic.

I like having them in one place rather than having to search for them.

This has not been updated to my knowledge, however it captures the early history.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Interview with Director General of China's CDC + Video

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

The journal Science published an interview (March 27) with George Gao, who is the director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control, on what his country has learned from China's management  of COVID-19. Jon Cohen was the interviewer and author of the update.

Please read all of it. It is very good.

I will be especially interested  in the response from our government on what Dr. Gao had to say about wearing face masks. This answer struck me in the face without the hand, so to speak.

"The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks. This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role—you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others."

The only thing I have that comes close to a mask is a bandana and in this country masks are already scarce for health care workers and others who have to deal directly with infected people. 

However, high quality N-95 masks are not required (see below) These should not be used but given to health care providers--to front line people. The nearly any-of-a-kind masks are a way of a preventing hand-to-face contact.

Update:  Yesterday Professor Jerry Coyne (WEIT) called attention to the video Protecting Your Family From COVID-19 by Dr. David Price (Weil Cornell Hospital (NYC}. Price is a critical care lung specialist--pulmonologist. The video is long (57 m 06 s) and cuts out a bit. It includes  answers to good questions, too. It has more than 350000 views.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Red Birds

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where the birdies is
--Children's Rhyme

I know where a few of them are.  

I try to keep track, and remember (the big trick), locations where cardinals are announcing their presence to the world and to other cardinals. Poet Mary Oliver described this as a "musical battle." I record these in a notebook, including whether I saw them as well,  that when filled gets recycled. So much for data!

I have two or three walks/bicycle rides where I mostly know where they will be and over several years they haven't changed their housing pattern at all. I don't always succeed but I try to listen from a couple of vantage points and if I'm lucky from three to be sure I've got the location as close as I can.. 

I don't walk/bike these routes at the same time each day nor each day, so any "data" I have is anecdotal. And my afternoon trail is sometimes different. I don't carry my notebook with me. So much for science.

Some of the cardinal calls will persist throughout summer and into fall. Last year, I heard a cardinal on Christmas day but it was weeks later before I heard another. It was in a familiar spot. Latest or earliest ever for me.

Childhood was spent surrounded by farms, fields and distant woods as well as a wide "crick" a field or two away. I miss the dawn chorus although there is a semblance of one here--smaller chorale unit. The latter is not nearly as rich and is sometimes overwhelmed by the sound of a city awakening. It is a kind of getting up to the snarly. I'm glad the birds are so insistent or even still here but I wish their habitat was a bit more welcoming. One of the joys of this time of year is to hear the choir starting at around 5:30 am and earlier as spring and summer progress.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Magic of Take Your Child to Work Night.

Environmental & Science Education
Early Childhood
Edward Hessler

NPR's Weekend Edition features a new book by Helena Ku Rhee and illustrated by Pascal Campion.

The Paper Kingdom is based on her own childhood. "Her parents were night janitors for a law office in Los Angeles. They couldn't afford a babysitter, so they brought her along."  They made those evenings magical and so "I wanted to write a book about that magic and wonder they instilled in me."

Illustrator Pascal Campion "liked that it wasn't 'a loud story,' but rather 'a little moment story.'" This book is one of double magic: writing and illustrations. Little moments make up a life and some of the more important ones fade but some remain in memory. All of us have them (I think).

NPR's Samantha Balaban writes that "Rhee's father went on to become a machinist, making parts for planes and cars. Her mother became a seamstress." Both are retired.

"Rhee says she hopes to send a message to her parent and to all hardworking parents; 'You feel like you're not doing enough for your children--but don't worry...' she says. 'They will survive and theyll take elements of beauty from even hardship.'"

Rhee became a corporate lawyer and writer. This book is one of three she has written. The title of this post is from Balaban's story.


Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education
Art and Environment

Good midday. Friday March 27 is the 87th day of the year with sunrise at 7:01 am and sunset at 7:34 pm. This day has 12h 33m 14s of sunlight.

I intend to post less about COVID-19 or leave a little more space between them. However, today a poem that you may have seen. is about the panbdemic and lovely beyond measure. I've been sending it hither and thither. It is from the president of Macalester College, just down the road as they say, from Hamline. The president is remarkable in every way and this poem seems so typical of him.

To the Macalester Community,

In moments of crisis, stress, and isolation, it is important to pause, breathe, and draw strength from things of beauty.  This message contains no instructions or warnings or new information.  It contains a poem that, I hope, brings to some of you the moment of peace that it brought to me. I am grateful to the Macalester parent who brought it to my attention.

Share it with someone you love.



What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
Take care.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Attacks on the Social Contract

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Defeating Covid-19 makes some new demands on all of us. Persistence. Hunkering down. Following protective measures recommended by health care professionals and government officials.One of these is social distancing.

Lev Facher writing for STAT comments on the increasing politicization of  social distancing as President Trump and his allies are urging us to stop isolating and to forget it.  This idea, to state the obvious, is a "worry" to health care workers.

"In the face of a potentially once-in-a-generation pandemic, whether one takes steps to “socially distance” from others is beginning to serve as a statement of one’s political values. And as coronavirus cases in the United States continue to spike, the prospect that some conservatives might abandon those measures en masse has alarmed public health experts, who say that giving up now would result in thousands of unnecessary deaths — and effectively sacrifice many of society’s most vulnerable."

Facher cites and discusses several who would have us "break this social rule." They include Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas (also was a radio talk host) who appears in favor of taking chances with the elderly; the president of Liberty University's Jerry Falwell, Jr. who said the school would welcome students back to campus after spring break; and others. I hadn't heard about recent comparisons President Trump has made to accidents and seasonal flu:

"In the past two days, Trump has resumed comparisons of the coronavirus to the yearly death toll from car crashes and the seasonal flu. Those remarks mirror his early talking points in February, when he called Democrats’ criticisms of his response a “hoax” and argued that despite the flu’s five-figure death count, the country did not shut down its economy each flu season."

This pandemic has ethics written all over it and Facher cites several experts who raise such concerns, including Dina Borzekowski (University of Maryland School of Public Health). 'What does it say about our society if we are willing to sacrifice one group for economic gain? This is a pandemic, and shouldn’t be played out as a skirmish on a neighborhood playground.'”
Facher also notes that Republicans such as Representative Liz Cheney and Senator Lindsey Graham, "a close Trump ally" both agree that "prioritizing the economy over the public health is likely a false choice."

Facher quotes Cheney who wrote in a Twitter that "'There will be no normally functioning economy, if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus.'

This article from the Washington Post will give you a chilling idea of what some conservative pundits, thinkers, and politicians are saying.  There is deep skepticism about facts, science, public health experts as well as following the necessary protective measures is merely a desire to move the country to the left.

Teresa Hanafin in the Boston Globe e-newsletter, Fast Forward (3.35.2020),  included a potent quote from the late Mario Cuomo, former governor of NY (he is the father of NY's current inspiring New York governor, Andrew Cuomo). Mario Cuomo made a memorable speech to the1984 Democratic National Convention in which he said,

"We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another's pain, sharing one another's blessings -- reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation. We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter, we are bound, one to another."

Hanafin closes with a simple observation and a good wish, "We are bound, one to another. Please stay safe."

Facher's column may be read here, something I hope you will do..

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Sighted Girl and an Unsighted Boy Take a Walk in a Meadow

Environmental & Science Education
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

In this film (7 m) titled "Walk" by Polish documentary filmmaker Filip Jacobson we accompany two friends, a blind boy and a sighted girl in their experience of a meadow overlooking a lake and their exploration of sensory experiences.

"Now and then, the girl probes the contours of the boy’s sensory experience, often to his annoyance. After all, how can he explain what it’s like to not know or even understand colours, or why his experience doesn’t require them? ... Jacobson reflects on the possibilities and limits of communicating subjective experience, as well as the diversity of ways to internalise the exterior world."

The film is in Polish with English subtitles.

h/t and thanks: AEON

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Comic on on the Corona Virus

Environmental & Science Education
Early Childhood
Edward Hessler

NPR's "Goats and Soda" has a comic, created for children (good for adults too) about the Corana virus. The is, the is nots, and suggestions as well as assurance.

You can print and fold a version--directions included on how to fold it.

It ends with "But seriously though, PLEASE wash your hands!!!"

Monday, March 23, 2020

Reforesting the Highlands of Ethiopia

Environmental & Science Education
Climate Change
Global Warming
Edward Hessler

‘The church is within the forest, the forest is inside the church.’--Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

I'm sure (now that should make you think I'm not) that I posted on the work of Ethiopian forest ecologist Alemayeh Wassie who is partnering with church leaders in Ethiopia "in a last stand against deforestation." This is a partnership between science and religion.

It will come as no surprise to learn that the highlands of Ethiopia were once forested but development and agriculture have left barren ground in their wake. Now, especially if one were to fly over the highlands, small odd shaped islands of forests dot the landscape. In the interior of each, the hub, are found round buildings.

Born of the centuries-old belief of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church that churches should be surrounded by forests so as to resemble the Garden of Eden, these sites have become valuable sanctuaries of biodiversity amid the extreme pressures of population growth.

In this film (9 m 22 s) the partnership between Dr. Wassie and the Tewahdo church is described. A link in the introductory comments will take you to an article about the project.  This essay from the British scientific journal Nature provides more details about these forests, Dr. Wassie and includes some splendid photographs.