I usually visit this blog when I'm on Scienceblogs (a great multi-science blog that is not ALL about science, but usually the people behind "science" as well). I have stumbled upon this post that is thought provoking and really quite lovely (in a its-about-time-that-horrible-disgusting-prez-Bush-is-on-his-way-out kind of way). It's from Greg Laden's blog, so read it here.
A Vancouver Canucks fan, an Edmonton Oilers fan, and a Calgary Flames fan were all in Saudi Arabia, sharing a smuggled crate of booze. All of a sudden Saudi police rushed in and arrested them. The mere possession of alcohol is a severe offence in Saudi Arabia. So, for the terrible crime of actually being caught consuming the booze, they were sentenced to death! However, after many months and with the help of very good lawyers, they were able to successfully appeal their sentence down to life imprisonment. By a stroke of luck, it was a Saudi national holiday the day their trial finished, and the extremely benevolent Sheik decided they could be released after receiving just 20 lashes each of the whip. As they were preparing for their punishment, the Sheik suddenly said, "It's my first wife's birthday today, and she has asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping." The Vancouver Canuck fan was first in line (he had drunk the least), so he thought about this for a while and then said, "Please tie a pillow to my back." This was done, but the pillow only lasted 10 lashes before the whip went through. The Vancouver Canuck fan had to be carried away bleeding and crying with pain when the punishment was done. The Edmonton Oilers Fan was next up (he almost finished a half-can), and after watching the scene, said, "All Right! Please fix two pillows on my back." But even two pillows could only take 15 lashes before the whip went through again, sending the Edmonton Oilers fan sobbing and crying like a baby! The Calgary Flames fan was the last one up (he had finished off the crate), but before he could say anything, the Sheik turned to him and said, "You support the greatest team in the world, your city has the best and most loyal hockey fans in the world. For this, you may have two wishes!" "Thank you, your most Royal highness," the grateful Flames fan replied. "In recognition of your kindness, my first wish is that you give me not 20, but 100 lashes." "Not only are you an honourable, handsome and powerful man, you are also very brave," the Sheik said with an admiring look on his face. "If 100 lashes is what you desire, then so be it. And your second wish? What is it to be?" the Sheik asked. "Tie that Oilers fan to my back!"
Well, considering this weekend is Robbie Burns' 250th Birthday anniversary, I thought it would be apropos to write about an important little plant that was found in Rhynia, Scotland.
Rhynia is north of Edinburgh and west of Aberdeen, and it is here that Rhynie Chert is found. This rock was formed when silica rich water from geysers evaporated and hardened. Within this rock, plants were fossilized with amazing detail and it is the first described vascular plant. It comes from the Devonian era, but it was not the first discovered vascular plant, as some poor guy named Dawson found an earlier vascular plant before these guys, but no one believed him.
In Canada Dawson found a fossilized plant from the Silurian era which is evidence for early vascularization of plants. Everyone thought at the time that the plant was too old to have vascular tissue (not believing that it could be evolved from that time), but he was eventually vindicated after Kidston and Lang found Rhynia gwynne-vaughanii in 1917. The plant Dawson found is currently the earliest known vascular plant from 430 MYA (million years ago) called Cooksonia sp.
In the chert are compressions of these Rhynia gwynne-vaughanii plants, the darker areas that clearly show the stems and sporangia at the terminal positions (tops) of the stems. In some compressions, annular thickenings of the secondary cell wall in xylem can be seen, elevating the status of this plant to "vascular". The cross section shows that this plant had stomata, basal patterning, but the stele (vasculature arrangement) is quite noticeable in the middle. The plant seen in the chert is the sporophyte, with recently found smaller gametophytes that are not dependent on the sporophyte like some derived plants (A pattern found is the more derived; the smaller the gametophyte). Also, more basal plants have sporophytes dependent on the gametophyte indicating that this plant may be a transition plant. This plant is known to be a sporophyte because of the sporangia on top of stems. Inside the sporangia, tetrads of spores have been found, indicating that meiosis has occurred (meiosis only in diploid; and therefore sporophyte).
Paleobotany is an interesting field filled with excitement, as new discoveries are being made and interpreted all of the time. Fieldwork and lab work combine to shed new light on plant beginnings. Most of all, it makes it difficult to decide which field I want to be in! I want to thank my prof R. Stockey (great lecture!) ; and the following ref's on the net:
Last night, I watched the documentary "To Hell with Manners" on W-Five (CTV). Having the wonderful task of instilling this lost art to my offspring, I actually MADE my seedling watch as well (even with the parental advisory warning). If she can see how not to do it, maybe she will see the reason why there are manners in the first place. Ya know, curious kids & their perennial question "Why?".
Just a brief overview of why we have manners. We have manners in order to preserve relationships with both close and distant acquaintances (aka. to be nice). There end of history lesson. If you want more go to wikipedia.
Well, we both got an eyeful last night. I cannot believe some of the things that these people would do (and they are not actors). In fact, in one hidden camera at a workplace, an employee jumped over his desk and started beating his coworker over the head with his keyboard. What the ****? Since when was this acceptable? And the saddest/funniest part was that no one else (no other coworker or employer) helped or stopped the assault.
Another example was a pregnant lady taking the subway in New York. No one offered their seat. In fact she reported that people were pushing and elbowing her out of the way. I can definitely sympathize because when I was pregnant, the same thing happened here, in wonderful 'polite' Canada.
With the advent of technology, the narrator said, we have become more isolated and we think our time is more important than anyone else. Cell phones, computers, pagers, and TV are all culprits. I think Emily Post may be rolling in her grave right now.
So readers, when you are talking to someone and your phone rings, politely say "excuse me", turn off your ringer (DO NOT ANSWER THAT PHONE UNLESS IT IS LIFE OR DEATH), and say "sorry for the interruption" and continue talking to the person standing in front of you. When you are in a movie theatre, classroom, lecture hall, theatre, turn OFF your cell phone/pager/laptop because no one else cares how much you had to drink over the weekend or what guy you screwed because you were pissed. Hold the door open for the person behind you, and at all times, say "THANK YOU" (the two words that should be the first we ever learn). If we want people to remain acquaintances (remember the history lesson), we have to be polite and have manners).
So while I don't agree with the guy who gives hugs to strangers (please not me); you should smile or talk about the ******** weather with the person who gives you coffee every day. Next time you see someone being rude, do you ignore or should you comment? What have you done with someone that was intentionally/unintentionally rude to you? I need some advice, because it sure as hell wasn't in my Emily Post's Etiquette book.
If you've never heard of "global warming"* or "climate change"*, you may want to call the Guiness Book of World Records people. As the last person on earth to hear these terms, they may have you confused. I will try to explain...
The two terms have been used interchangably, but they might not be so. Useage between skeptics and believers have twisted the meaning of each. They refer to the phenomenon of energy that comes from the sun, bounced of the surface of the earth to the atmosphere and reflected back to the earth from the pollutants (hence the greenhouse effect and greenhouses gasses terms that are used). This leads to a rise in atmospheric temperature and ocean temperature (which is the source of the term "global warming").
Incidentally, this rising in temperature has other effects which lead to changes in wind patterns, melting of glaciers, etc. This in turn changes the entire climate of the world, but funnily enough, not equally around the world. Also the changes in climate may have different effects in different places (where some areas may get more hurricanes in general, others may get less hurricanes but they will be more severe). Also, changes in temperature become more severe for certain places. This leads us to the term of "climate change".
People who are conspiracy theorists, science deniers, or the USA government like to use the term "global warming". This phrase of two simple words brings to mind a simple meaning for many people. The only thing we should be worried about is having great temperatures year round, where we don't have to worry about frostbite anymore. Living in the great beyond (think Canadian Siberia), I cannot help but cringe every time someone uses this "global warming" for the process which is occuring on our planet now. People think it will be great having a tropical climate here (think swimming and tanning year round). Other people scoff when it hits -4o degrees celcius; "pffft, yeah right we have global warming... I'll just go run my car to warm up for 1/2 hour".
However, when you read about sea levels rising from glacier melting and thermal expansion, all of those island countries and coastal cities (yeah, think New York, Vancouver, Tokyo) where most of the world's population lives, and we've got real problems. We won't be worrying about war refugees anymore, we'll be concerned about refugees from islands that have disappeared, from areas where severe hurricanes are occuring, where water has run out, etc.
The environmental refugees not only will be fleeing from their homelands, but disease and sickness will also spread. Those countries not ready for the people and climate change will have an increase in diseases never seen before in that area. Malaria will continue to spread (as will West Nile). Cholera and other diseases from unsanitary conditions will increase and there will be stresses on health care systems (as well as current stresses from increases in cancer and obesity).
I'm not trying to act Cassandra on y'all. (Cassandra the prophetess from Homer's Troy who noone listened to, jeez go read some literature!) But, the more we open our eyes to what could happen, the more prepared we are. Canada has a chance to become a world leader in humanitarian causes, while increasing our own technology resources (and incidentally selling that technology to other countries), so there can be economic gain in the future.
I think what is needed is balance between resource management/sustainability and economic gain. Neither can be feasible at the extreme ends of the scale, but moderation with both would be nice and wholly welcome. But don't ever say to me that global warming is bunk, go to http://www.ipcc.ch/ if you want some scientific background on the issue. Everyone including those not involved in science or economy, needs to get in on the discussion. This is everyones problem, not just those worried about it.
*I put these terms in brackets only to denote that they are phrases in common use that must be separated from each other, not to give them quackery status as pseudoscience.
Mwaaaa haa haa! Alright, now that I've got that out of my system.
The last semester was a total wash... blogging wise. I was so busy, I've just now caught up on the things that needed to be done (well, only the really important things), and I'm already 2 weeks into my next semester.
But a good report card later, and all major project work done, I'll be back writing interesting things and events to come. And hopefully I won't let my 2 dedicated readers down anymore.
The real CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism of course and not Complementary and Alternative Medicine...bleh) is a post-secondary student in the forgotten realms of western Canada. A plant lover on a mission to discover if stupid people really rule the world or if skeptical thinking can save us all from charlatans. (& hoping that someone will pay her to visit exotic locales and study plants)