Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Summary #11

Some people think flowers are sensate beings and believe picking them is murder. Hmmm... Horticulturists have found that the Easter lily bulb can move in the dirt if it is planted too shallowly. It has contractile roots that actually work to pull the bulb deeper into the earth. They know it has something to do with light -- that's all they know.

Rice plants come in different colors which has made Inakadate, Japan a tourist site since the local people began planting their paddies with different kinds of rice plants in such as way as to make pictures or spell words. The village was losing its young people to the city but now has become prosperous thanks to the visitors they attract.
The game of horseshoes is not widely played today but was played by the men in my family when I was growing up. Today Alan Francis of Defiance, Ohio is the undisputed world horsehoe champion; winner of the world title 15 times. His record is 90% ringers of all his pitches.

Thinking of diminishing populations in small villages: in 1800 the only city with one million people was London. Today 326 cities have over a million including 180 which are in developing countries. 16 megalopolises have over 10 million. The percentage of people living in large cities has doubled since 1950.

Another change since the 1950s: today the last month of life often costs more than all the previous medical expenses of that person. Dying used to be very different: George Washington developed a sore throat Dec. 13 and died the next evening, John Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson and Millard Filmore had strokes and died three days later, Rutherford Hayes had a heart attack and died in four days. People used to die quickly of pneumonia, in childbirth and infected wounds. All those things are treated today; often people go on for years of life, but too often they never get out of the ICU and run up bills of staggering size. More and more medical thinkers are grappling with the meaning of these facts and just what can be done and shouldn't be done for the dying and how to act both more responsibly and more humanely. Dying is going to happen to all of us and to everyone we love, we ought to be brave enough to give it some thought.

As a society we are expert at the old head in the sand position on hard questions.
No one seems to be grappling with the following facts: The Library of Congress plans to acquire and store all public Twitter posts since 2006. Meanwhile top secret organizations hidden from public view and lacking significant oversight number 1271 government organization and 1931 private companies all related to outer terrorism intelligence and homeland security. They employ approximately 854,000 people who have top secret clearance, [half the population of Washington D.C.]. This doesn't include the people who don't have that clearance. These people work in some 30 complexes in various locations in the US. These are mostly new buildings with extensive technology inside -- they were called "government bling". To say there is much redundancy is redundant. These organizations intercept 2 BILLION emails, telephone calls and other communications of private citizens every day. They produce so many reports that many are simply shelved and never read. ... Is this the meaning of homeland security or the government's technological version of Collier Brothers-like neuroses?


Marie aka Grams said...

You always choose exceptional entries with thought-provoking themes. I'm amazed at your breadth of study. (11th Saturday summary already? Where does the time fly?)

Jonas said...

You even take an interest in the same things I do!

Believe it or not, plant neurobiology is an exploding field of study. There's a whole lot going on inside of plants (among the oldest surviving life forms and the foundation of our own genome) that we never considered. Truly amazing stuff.


June -- I am with you and Jonas about plant neurobiology. This was a great Saturday Summary! -- barbara

June Calender said...

I didn't know there was a field called plant neurobiology. I'll watch more carefully for more about it. Thanks Marie and Barbara for your comments.

Vicki Lane said...

The end of life issues are horrifying. We are addressing them by increasing our bacon intake in hopes of a mercifully quick heart attack.

Kass said...

Twitter posts? How about Blog posts?

Truly intriguing facts.