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In the garden: Après le déluge

Massive beatdown for these cucurbits, whatever they are, I forget, and which seem to have grown quite successfully without my noticing them until today:

(Showing also that I have been way too cheap with the straw; that newspaper should not be exposed, and there should be straw soaking up all the nice water!)

And the painter should come back: Read below the fold...

Tweet of the day

Workers of the world, unite!

In the garden: Wait a minute, it'll change

So I had happily anticipated a day of outdoor typing when I heard thunder muttering and grumbling to the west, so I looked up at the sky and then took this photo:

And then I looked at the map Wunderground app to see what was coming at me, and I saw this little cloud: Read below the fold...

Times decides to use the word "torture" instead of euphemisms

About time, and good for Dean Basquet who wrote:

Given those changes, reporters urged that The Times recalibrate its language. I agreed. So from now on, The Times will use the word “torture” to describe incidents in which we know for sure that interrogators inflicted pain on a prisoner in an effort to get information.

Of course, they didn't use the right word when it would have made a difference: Read below the fold...

Tweet of the day

Shocker: Democrats betray Colorado fracking activists

Boy, that came out of nowhere! Common Dreams:

In what is being slammed as a hijacking of the democratic process—and a cave to pressure by the oil and gas industry—top Colorado Democrats have pulled two anti-fracking initiatives from the state's November ballot despite huge grassroots support behind the proposals.

On the day Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) was expected to hand in nearly 300,000 signatures in favor of ballot initiatives 88 and 89, which sought to provide greater local control over fracking operations, he announced that he had dropped support for the measures in favor of a deal brokered by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. Instead of allowing citizens to vote on shale oil and gas drilling in their communities, the politicians announced during a joint press conference that they are establishing a task force—led by XTO Energy President Randy Cleveland and taking input from business groups along with the oil and gas industry—that will craft drilling regulations.

On the very day. That's not a slap in the face. Read below the fold...

In the garden: A happy encounter

So I'm on sitting on the porch, blogging, waiting for the stupid rainshower to go away --the rain was supposed to be yesterday, dammit -- when a woman pulls up in a car, parks it, walks up the front area, takes out a camera, and starts photographing! I ask her what she's doing, in a nice way, and she says she's a painter! So when she left, I took this from her point of vantage, though of course I don't know exactly what she saw, and can't even reproduce what she took because I don't know how wide her lens was; the iPad has a mother huge lens. But what she saw is somewhere in here:

Read below the fold...

"I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I'm a network analyst."

Dada is a virgin microbe which penetrates with the insistence of air into all those spaces that reason has failed to fill with words and conventions. -- Tristan Tzara

I've done three pretty dense posts recently (MH17, the Stare Kiejkuty story, and now Ebola) on the sort of topics that conspiracy theorists tend to latch onto, and the threads haven't over-run with birthers (or truthers (or anti-vaxxers (etc.))) possibly because I was quite forceful about saying I wanted evidence and reasoning, not "Colonel Mustard in the library with the wrench," or "Just watch this YouTube!"

On the other hand, those of us with long and tenacious memories will recall that Bush effectively gaslighted the 2004 elections (and some say, stole them, but that's another story). So we have to be able to conceptualize a world -- some might say, build a model, and others develop a method -- that can give an account of events where a hundred or a thousand John LeCarré novels are running simultaneously, all of them interfering with each other. (For example, Moderation Rule #2 at Cannonfire reads: "No 911 C-D nuts." And I'm actually all for that, because crowds like that can eat a blog alive and make it look bad doing so. However, that's not to say "something really bad" didn't happen on 9/11, much more than the event itself. Rather, it's a question of method. Conspiracy -- the conscious combination of cabals to bring about a historic event, let's call it -- aren't adequate to give such an account. Read below the fold...

In the garden: Thigmotropism is full of win!

Hat tip, dromaius, for thigmotropism:

What is Thigmotropism?
Thigmotropism is the directional response of a plant organ to touch or physical contact with a solid object. This directional response is generally caused by the induction of some pattern of differential growth. This phenomenon is clearly illustrated by the climbing tendrils of some plants, such as the sweet pea. The tendrils actually "feel" the solid object, which results in the coiling response.

So Plants Actually Have a Sense of Touch?
Yes. In fact, some plants are actually much more sensitive to touch than human beings! For example, human skin can minimally detect a thread weighing 0.002mg being drawn across it. However, a feeding tentacle of the insectivorous sundew plant responds to a thread of 0.0008mg, and a climbing tendril of Sicyos actually repsonds to a thread weighing just 0.00025mg! Therefore, some plants have a sense of touch which is nearly 10 times as sensitive as human skin!

What Parts of the Plant Can Respond to Touch?
The clearest example of thigmotropism is the coiling that occurs in some tendrils. However, roots also depend on touch sensitivity to navigate their way through the soil. The general touch response in roots is negative. That is, when a root "feels" an object, the root grows away from the object. In comparison, most tendrils grow toward the touch stimulus, allowing for the tendril to wrap around the object which it is in contact with. Therefore, roots are said to be "negatively thigmotropic". This allows the roots to follow the line of least resistance through the soil. ....

This is a really great page, and I found it really hard to stop quoting because it's so interesting. Read it all!

Read below the fold...

Beach reading, except not

I ordered these two interesting books and they came today in the UPS. Like I have time to read them! Read below the fold...

In the garden: Bee balm at sunset

I suppose to a pollinator the bed of bee balm looks like the Vegas strip at night! Read below the fold...

Chris Christie gives his BFF, Andrew Cuomo, a reach-around on corruption

This is a fun New York Post story, but they bury the lead:

Christie, head of the Republican Governors Association, is still refusing to provide financial or other assistance to [Republican Rob] Astorino’s campaign, despite Cuomo’s worsening ethics scandal.

And so is the Christie-controlled [Republican Governor's Association], whose massive expenditures and sophisticated website provide support for GOP candidates for governor across the nation — except in New York. Top RGA staffers repeatedly refused to explain the glaring omission.

“Christie stabbing Astorino in the back irks every GOP voter in New York,’’ Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R-Rensselaer), a key Astorino backer, said Sunday.

Astorino, his aides and even many Democrats believe Christie, mired in the Bridgegate scandal, has a peace pact with Cuomo under which neither will criticize the other.

Gee, that sure is odd. Read below the fold...

Handy diagram of a food forest

Stay classy, Israel...

To be fair, Sherman marching through Georgia. Read below the fold...


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