Each night at sunset, a handful of plants "fall asleep." Species as diverse as legumes and daisies curl up their leaves and petals for the evening and do not unfurl until morning.Now, a new study suggests that plants may have been folding their leaves at night for more than 250 million years. By tracking the unique bite marks that insects inflict only upon folded leaves, the authors determined that one extinct group of plants were likely nyctinastic — the scientific term for plants curling up in response to darkness...Charles Darwin described "sleep movements in plants" in 1880 in his book "The Power of Movement in Plants," but the phenomenon had already been documented as far back as 324 B.C. by Androsthenes of Thasos, an associate of Alexander the Great. It's hard to miss — stroll through any garden near dusk, and you'll likely notice a few flower species closing their petals...But if plant sleeping behavior is a defense mechanism, it clearly does not work every time. In fact, one of the telltale signs of nyctinasty is that the plants' leaves are often pockmarked by perfectly symmetrical holes. Not unlike what happens when a child cuts shapes into folded paper to make a snowflake, any hole punched through a folded leaf by an insect will show up on both sides of that leaf when it opens.
"Things You Wouldn't Know If We Didn't Blog Intermittently."
31 March 2023
"Nyctinastic" plants explained
It's o.k. to be not-for-profit
Kindergarten play cancelled because...
"In April 2014, the Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, New York, sent a letter to the parents of its kindergartners, confirming rumors that the school would not be going ahead with its annual play.Dear Kindergarten Parents and Guardians,We hope this letter serves to help you better understand how the demands of the twenty-first century are changing schools.The reason for eliminating the kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and careers with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers, and problem solvers. Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that we know will never please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind.These kids, the letter implied, could not spare two days from their regularly scheduled work..."
"... members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The non-suburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and post-modern professors will no longer be calling the shots...One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion . . . All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet."
28 March 2023
The Gloucester Tree is a fire-lookout tree
The Gloucester Tree is a giant karri tree in the Gloucester National Park of Western Australia.At 58 metres in height, it is the world's second tallest fire-lookout tree (second only to the nearby Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree), and visitors can climb up to a platform in its upper branches for views of the surrounding karri forest. It is owned by the Shire of Manjimup.
Agatha Christie's writing being "cleaned up" for modern readers
Several Agatha Christie novels have been edited to remove potentially offensive language, including insults and references to ethnicity.Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries written between 1920 and 1976 have had passages reworked or removed in new editions published by HarperCollins to strip them of language and descriptions that modern audiences find offensive, especially those involving the characters Christie’s protagonists encounter outside the UK...The newspaper reported that the edits cut references to ethnicity, such as describing a character as black, Jewish or Gypsy, or a female character’s torso as “of black marble” and a judge’s “Indian temper”, and removed terms such as “Oriental” and the N-word. The word “natives” has also been replaced with the word “local”.Among the examples of changes cited by the Telegraph is the 1937 Poirot novel Death on the Nile, in which the character of Mrs Allerton complains that a group of children are pestering her, saying that “they come back and stare, and stare, and their eyes are simply disgusting, and so are their noses, and I don’t believe I really like children”.This has been stripped down in a new edition to state: “They come back and stare, and stare. And I don’t believe I really like children.”
It's so sad that nothing can be done about this
NASHVILLE, TN—In the hours following a violent rampage in Tennessee in which a lone attacker killed at least six individuals and injured several others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Tuesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Tennessee resident Laura Campbell, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”
25 March 2023
A bee roosting for the night
Epeolus sp. A brood parasite bee that roosts overnight that clamps itself to plants with its mandibles. This is apparently common among ‘cuckoo’ bees.
21D. This is a debut entry, although its singular form appeared once before. “Words that form other words when read backward” are SEMORDNILAPS, which have a kinship to palindromes, which read the same forward and backward, of course. As you might have noticed, the singular form, “semordnilap,” is palindromes spelled backward. Martin Gardner, a prolific writer and magician, coined the term.
Name that animal - the end
Credit to Neatorama for the subject for that round, but frankly I'm running out of ideas for "name that animal" entries; those who want to see the previous 13 entries in the series can look here, but to come up with more I'd probably have to dig deeper into the realms of insects and microorganisms and deep sea teleosts. In the meantime there is so much else going on in the world. I may revisit this topic later, but for now we'll give it a rest.
"Wasp mantidflies can be found throughout much of North America, but either they’re not super abundant on our prairies or I’ve fallen for their mimicry an awful lot."