Okay, so evidently Bren's Left Coast is going to take January off. And part of February. In my defense, I was travelling a lot, but I know they have internet in exotic places like Milwaukee and Brooklyn so really that's no excuse. In any event, I'd like to welcome back my readers (reader?) to a new year and a new administration.
1. This Thursday is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, one of the most influential thinkers of the last two centuries. From an article today in the LA Times, scientists are still grappling with the implications of the Theory of Evolution, including why it's speeding up: "In the 5,000 to 10,000 years since agriculture triggered the growth of large societies, the pace has accelerated to 100 times historical levels." There follows a discussion of lactose tolerance, skin tone, and blue eyes - "For nearly all of human history, everyone in the world had brown eyes. Then, between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, the first blue eyed baby was born somewhere near the Black Sea... today the number of people with blue eyes tops half a billion." Fascinating. (And why are we still having a "debate" about the theory of evolution?)
2. In an evolution-related story, Black wolves come from selective breeding in dogs. Color selection was bred into dogs by humans and then passed into wild populations. It turns out that it's much more prevalent in North America, where there was more cross-pollination between domestic and wild animals, than in Europe. How cool is that? But again, evolution is just a "theory."
3. The dominant strain of influenza in this country, H1N1, is now nearly 100% resistant to the retro-viral Tamilflu. Why does this matter? "Tamiflu and Relenza have been stockpiled by the federal government for treating the public in case of the emergence of a dangerous pandemic flu. Four times as many Tamiflu doses have been stockpiled as Relenza doses." Story reported here in the LA Times.
4. And speaking of flu, remember H5N1 (a/k/a "bird flu"?) It's baaaaack! According to Dr. Keiji Fukuda, head of the World Health Organization's global influenza program, "It's probably the most lethal virus that's ever been discovered." Maybe science has a place in public debate after all?
5. And Fowler, Indiana, my hometown, has one of the largest windfarms in the United States, or even the world. A Christmas letter from friends there told me "You wouldn't recognize the place" for all the wind turbines outside of town on "Fowler Ridge" which is a made up name for a barely perceptible wrinkle on the prairie northwest of town. More of the windmills' dimensions - and where to eat while going to check them out in Earl Park and Fowler - are at www.earlparkindiana.com. Go Benton County!