Cristina Deptula on Dr. Debra Trock’s talk at the Chabot Space and Science Center

 Yellow flowers with orange centers

Not all flowers are what we would consider beautiful. Some are simple and delicate, some are strikingly colorful and included in bouquets, but still others are rather plain, open only at night when we usually can’t see them, or even smell like rotting meat. We have to remember we are not the plants’ primary audience.

Dr. Debra Trock, Senior Collections Manager in Botany at the California Academy of Sciences, discussed the co-evolution of flowering plants and their various animal pollinators during her monthly enrichment talk. Held the third Tuesday evening of each month in one of Chabot’s second-floor classrooms, these free talks from local researchers are open to Chabot staff, volunteers and guests.

Dr. Trock began her talk by clarifying the concept of co-evolution. Evolution happens within populations over time, as natural selection favors the individuals best able to reproduce in any given environment. And co-evolution occurs when two or more species evolve together, each adapting to changes in the other. She also illustrated the basic internal biology of a flower, labeling the various regions of the pistil, the female reproductive structure, and the stamen, the male structure.

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Essay by William Jefferson

Evil” Itself—Our Greatest Foe

The horrific beheading of American journalist James Foley by radical militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces civilization to face its greatest foe—evil itself.

On August 19, a four-minute, forty-second video titled A Message to America was streamed online via social media networks and was swiftly routed around the globe. The malicious intent of the ISIS video was undeniable, and the careful crafting that produced it added a sense of stealthy eeriness to its message.

A Message to America stunned the international community. British Prime Mister David Cameron denounced the video as “brutal and barbaric,” while US Secretary of State John Kerry described Foley’s murder as “ugly, savage, inexplicable, nihilistic, and valueless evil.”

World leaders and media outlets grapple with words to describe A Message to America. Adjectives and nouns are strung together in carefully prepared texts. Yet, despite the horrific nature of the act, some media sources are loathe to interject the language of good and evil in describing terrorist activity.

A case in point is an op-ed published in The New York Times on August 22 titled “The Problem With ‘Evil.’” The article was written by Michael Boyle, an associate professor of political science at La Salle University.

Boyle argues against the use of moralistic language in denouncing foes. “Condemning the black-clad masked militants as purely ‘evil’ is seductive,” he contends. He fears what he calls “a disturbing return of the moralistic language once used to describe Al Qaeda in the panicked days after the 9/11 attacks.”

The argument is not without substance or merit. Boyle has a point, but the point Boyle presses would be far more sensible if evil did not exist. Evil does exist. Evil itself is our greatest foe.

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Essay from Ann Tinkham

Ode to the Archipelago

It’s becoming a tradition, I suppose. Last year, we exchanged vows wearing nectar-scented plumeria leis. We stood barefoot between onyx lava rocks, water pooling around our ankles; our intimate ceremony officiated by a conch-shell-blowing minister who had survived a shark attack. The ginger glow of the Maui sunset erased our wrinkles long enough to trick the camera lens. Curious onlookers wondered if we were newlyweds or oldyweds renewing our vows. We kissed like it was the first time.

This year, I’ve come to heal: to remember who I was before I squeezed life through a computer screen.

I’m more myself here than anywhere. How inconvenient. An archipelago, 2,500 miles from the continent I call home; exposed peaks of a great undersea mountain range. Life is fragile here and will, one day, return to the sea.

The first thing I do is inhale the moist, oxygen-pumped air, my body craving deep, enriching breaths after 365 days of arid high-altitude breathing. I perch at the edge of land and sea. The rhythmic lull of the Pacific draws me into the primordial ooze, reminding me where I’ve come from and where I’ll return.

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Essay by Ayokunle Adeleye

“I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly,

To pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully.

I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous,

And will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.

I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession,

And will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping,

And all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling.

*With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work,*

And devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”

– The Nightingale Pledge, 1893. (Asterisks added.)

 

Those are the words of the original version of the Nightingale Pledge. Back then, the health team was one, had a doctor as the captain and the nurse as his sidekick, and worked. Back then, daughters of Nightingale were not averse to swearing loyalty to Doctors, the men of honor were yet men of honor, and no one thought he had to displace the sons of Hippocrates to “reach the peak of their careers”. Back then… before the envy and strife and hypocrisy that we see now.

 

For now we have a health team wherein everyone wants to do everything that is a doctor’s job even when they can barely master theirs, where everyone wants to take everything that is a doctor’s pay even when theirs is relatively more, where everyone wants to be the doctor’s public foe yet private friend so that they may keep those free, secret, consultations aboard. Now they want to be doctors (and consultants), do not want to go through medical school to be such, and definitely do not want to endure the rigors of residency.

 

And what is worse? Rather unlike when they threatened strike actions, cut ICU power supply, and locked everything up, even bedpans, whenever they go on their political strikes; now they form a coalition against the disciples of Hippocrates so that they can challenge our rights to freedom of association and of decision, malign us, and sue us to court– and actually do.

 

So that now government hospitals are paralyzed, people are dying, and privatization is looming. And all these because of insincerity, for JOHESU wants to have its cake and eat it too, yet he who comes to equity must come with clean hands… They feed the common man with lies to turn him against his doctor, Boko-Haram style, and hope, foolishly enough, that their propaganda will survive. Of course they won’t; falsehood may endure for a night but truth comes in the morning…:

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Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope

 

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Climate Peril

Climate Peril is a very interesting book on climate change. It is written so it is easy to understand. It really opens the eyes of the reader to what is, what can and what will happen to our environment if something is  not done about the heat trapping gases in the future. The climate change is being caused by humans. Mr. Berger in the first chapter tells of what can happen to the environment by the year 2100 if something is not done. There are government regulations on emissions now that help, although so much more has to be done by humans so we don’t bring extinction to ecosystems, animals and marine life. This book will open the eyes and minds of readers and will educate people on global warming.

You may purchase Climate Peril here: http://www.amazon.com/Climate-Peril-Intelligent-Readers-Understanding/dp/0985909234/

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Revenge Best Served Bloody

If you like suspense/thrillers that are filled with murder, mystery and excitement on every page then you will love this book. This book is about EJ Stanley and her husband Bret Manley. EJ works for a casino and her husband and her are about to go to Paris for a vacation. As she is finishing up, a strange icon shows up on her computer. She gets her computer expert friends to help her open the files and finds out they are plans to bring the US economy to its knees with a nuclear bomb. EJ and Bret are chased through Paris and even when they come back by the terrorists. If you want to read a book that is filled with suspense and excitement and will keep you on the edge of your seat page after page, then read Revenge Best Served Bloody. It is the most exciting suspense/thriller that I have read and rate it two thumbs up and five stars! Happy Reading!!

You may purchase Revenge Best Served Bloody here: http://www.amazon.com/Revenge-Served-Donald-R-Grippo/dp/1938501136/

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Black’s Beach Parallax

Black’s Beach Parallax is a very interesting action packed thriller that is both fiction and also contains many historical events. It is the story of Jack O’Malley who works for a defense contractor in the 60’s and starts playing poker. He finds that he is extremely good at the game and can make a living from it. His friend, Gene, who works for IPS approaches him to work for him and pays Jack extremely well. The work is so secret that they can’t even discuss it on the phone or in either’s home. When they discuss business they go on long runs where they know no one will be listening. Conspiracies abound and people start suddenly dying. To find out more from this action packed thriller, read Black’s Beach Parallax!

You may purchase Black’s Beach Parallax here: http://www.amazon.com/Blacks-Beach-Parallax-government-realities/dp/0692224319/

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Review of Alterien Book 2: Shadows of the Past

Alterien Book 2: Shadows of the Past takes Oberon Navarro and his half sister Sharon to the home where his family lives. He meets his mother, father, sister and the firefighters that work with his father. However, this has not turned out to be a completely happy reunion. Rivers, who was a soldier in SABER with Navarro is after him. Rivers wants to kill Navarro’s family first. Oberon is made to meet with a woman named Ara and triplet girls with women’s voices. They remove the “probe” Dr. Grey used to track and control Oberon. They train him to use his enhanced special abilities to his fullest extent. He can now fly at supersonic speed without the use of his aircraft. Find out more in Alterien Book 2: Shadows of the Past. This book is an exciting page turner which will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Find out what happens next with Oberon, Sharon and Abigail. I highly recommend this book. I absolutely loved it!!!

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Nicole Quinn’s It’s a Nightmare

It’s a Night Mare is a fantasy that is a page turner and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. This book would make a great movie. The Night Mare is a demon that rules over all. She does not allow dreams or baby girls. When a baby girl is born, she must be thrown into the river to die. If they live they are destined to live a horrible life. Females are considered Breeders/Quasi-human. The Night Mare gets her power from people who dream. A baby girl is found by an old couple who live in the Off Grid, which is away from the city of Winkin. The baby girl is found in a willow tree. The old couple raise her and prepare her for the dehumanizing that she must go through as she grows. Mina’s parents discover that she has special abilities and visions. She has these visions through dreams. The Night Mare is constantly on a quest to find the girl who will draw the Gold Stone from the bag when they are registered. The Gold Stone girl is actually the Night
Mare’s mortal enemy and she must find this girl and destroy her before she is destroyed. I highly recommend It’s A Night Mare. Buy it today and find out about the city of Winkin with all of the monsters and off gridders. Read it today and see how Mina overcomes the Night Mare!!

Essay by Ayokunle Adeleye

Getting Off the High Horse

 

In the past week I have been slandered, insulted, even threatened. I have been called arrogant, egocentric, delusional and maniacal… In fact, they have said they may not allow me to pass my “part 6 (sic) MBBS exams”. Interestingly, majority of such statements came from a particular profession more than others; yes, the very ones I said must have been taught sauciness in school. Well, I am a doctor, to be, and I hereby, here and now, pledge allegiance to, and pitch my tent with, Doctors– the ones with powers to pass me, or not.

 

Perhaps I have been biased in my stance. Perhaps.

 

In this sequel to CONSULTANT, My FOOT, and The Eyes of JANUS, I shall therefore endeavor to set aside passion and emotion, affiliation and allegiance, set the issues raised on the table, and discuss them openly. For the truth is, everyone has been toying with the truth– as the Yoruba say, Kò s’ẹ́ni tí kìí kọ ebè s’ọ́dọ̀ ara ẹ̀; no one hoes the soil away from himself. But the Yoruba also say, ẹjọ́ ò ní jẹ́ ẹjọ́ ẹni k’á má mọ̀ọ́ dá; one cannot have a matter and not know how to judge it.

 

When I said…

When I said the politician like everyone else wants (his credentials) to be doctored, not nursed, I was referring to the modern trend of everyone being doctors, PhD holders, even when such certificates are bought or forged.

 

When I said other health workers did la cram, la pour in school, I didn’t mean there were no brilliant students in those courses. I meant most of them cram structures, equations, doctrines,… I meant in Medicine, more than anywhere else, cramming is a tricky art for one needs in-depth understanding and demonstrable applicability to survive– particularly the clinical exams, and ward rounds.

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Christopher Bernard reviews Philip Fried’s poetry collection Angry Love

 

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Philip Fried

 

With Angry Love

 

Interrogating Water and other poems

Philip Fried

Salmon Poetry

112 pages

€12.00

 

A review by Christopher Bernard

 

New York poet Philip Fried’s new book of poems has a bitter humor, an angry sarcasm just this side of despair:

 

The multi-chemical Lethal is a classic

And one of America’s best-loved cocktails, due

To its featured role on cable’s Death Row show

With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino

—Mixology, a Madrigal

 

But the bitterness is well earned, as every day – and, with the multiversal bedlam of the internet, sometimes every minute – we are granted yet another example of our continuing descent into barbarism and moral chaos.

Fried’s poems often use a device that has become increasingly common in modern culture, both American and European: they take on “the voice of the devil” in an attempt to shake the reader out of their usual passiveness:

 

Galloping with his drum, the singer

Rides in a split second over

Plains that outdistance their tympanum sky,

And all by the song’s power.

Ideology gallops the story.

What values spur the teller?

—Ballad

 

Fried’s poems work their angle and edge from the insanity of our gun-worship:

 

O portable and concealed god, barely visible

As a bulge, yet guardian of halcyon skies

And mountain majesties from your home in a pocket-,

Pancake-style-belt, or shoulder-holster.

—Prayer to the Small-Arms Deity

 

to our national narcissism:

 

First, assemble the Manifest Destiny engine,

Fasten the Shining City to the Hill,

… With the Leveraged Capital

Rubberband, stretch an elastic liberty

Until it nearly snaps, from sea to sea.

—Grammar as Glue

 

to our infatuation with technology, our paranoias over transgressed borders, our feverish materialism, our dehumescent humanism – but above all, to our scattering moral obeisance to the gods of war, our morphing into the labile dictatorship of terror:

 

We are soliciting bids from a divine

entity for a Full-Protection Covenant,

with renewal options in perpetuity,

to shield the homeland and its future seed.

—The Department of Defense (DoD) Request

for a Covenant (RfC)

 

The language of these poems blends the schizoid paranoia of military officialdom and the meretricious smarminess of corporate diction with the majestic cadences of the King James Version of the Bible (frequently quoted) and the sleek, solemn latin of the Vulgate, in a mashup of dictions meant to shock with awe at the “sinister giddiness” of our official culture.

 

Have you brought forth the Predator Drones? Have you armed them with

Hellfire missiles and fledged them with glycol-weeping wings?

….

Does the Killer Bee fly by your wisdom and initialize its missiles? Does

the DarkStar launch at your command, deployed from invisible havens?

Whatsoever is under the whole of heaven is mine.

—On the Record

 

Who is this that comes from the wilderness like pillars of smoke,

perfumed with lambskin and burnt gunpowder?

His legs are as pillars of marble, clad in flame-resistant trousers. His head,

crowned with bulletproof Kevlar, is as a watchtower looking toward

Kandahar.

—Canticles

 

Shimmering with anorexic allure,

these supermodels have learned to stroll with intent,

reinventing themselves up from the balls of their feet.

The Lil Saunder Voluminous Total Jacket

seamlessly encloses a lead core,

including the base, in brass or a suitable metal.

—Catwalk

 

Other poems combine street-vetted vernacular with quotes from Thoreau and Emerson, museum-ese with the disingenuous customer-friendliness of instruction cards, Victorian-esque translations from the Greek tragedians with the utterances of a Siri app named Sybil, the thuggish inquisitory of a black-site interrogator, chronicles from the dark ages of the future in the stumbling diction of an anonymous monk, and the prim hysteria of newspaper headlines.

The bitter brilliance of these poems should not hide from us the deep compassion and the furious optimism that burns at their heart. Fried’s poems are a poetry of denunciation and warning, as old as Micah and as new as the whispering drone peering in at your window. The anger of these poems is the anger of love. And a determination to seize mind, heart and body and shove us away from the bloody abyss into which we seem so intent on plunging, as though we believed we shall grow wings if only we fall hard enough.

If I have any criticism of the book, it is that I came away with no clear understanding of Fried’s notion of “the good” – aside from building and molding language into fortresses of intention and villages of words. His vision of our time’s evils is eloquent almost to a fault: I hunger to hear his vision of good – even of our time’s “goodness” (only the dark Pollyannas of cynicism refuse it any goodness at all); I’d like him to occasionally drop the sarcastic mask, the much-dented postmodern shield, and show a glimpse of the naïve spirit without the defensive clutch at cleverness.

Not the least of the ironies associated with this book is that it (like Fried’s previous books) is published by a foreign press – to whom thereby we owe many thanks. The elegant design is grateful to both eye and hand – it’s a handsome production all around. But it is one more nasty little self-imposed humiliation to our seemingly unending national list that this much-needed voice had to go beyond the country’s borders, its ever-shrinking, ever-thinning skin, to find a publisher.

_____

Christopher Bernard is a writer, poet, editor and journalist living in San Francisco. His books include the widely acclaimed novel A Spy in the Ruins; a book of stories, In the American Night; and The Rose Shipwreck: Poems and Photographs. His work has appeared in many publications, including cultural and arts journalism in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere, and poetry and fiction in literary reviews in the U.S. and U.K. He has also written plays and an opera (libretto and score) that have been produced and radio broadcast in the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry films have been screened in San Francisco and his poetry and fiction have been nominated for Puschcart Prizes. He is co-editor of Caveat Lector (www.caveat-lector.org) and a regular contributor to Synchronized Chaos Magazine.

 

 

Philip Fried

 

Flash fiction from Michelle Chouinard

The One That Got Away

 

Hey there.

Yeah, it sure has been a long time. Longer than it needed to be. Funny, I never thought I’d run into you all the way out here; are you on a business trip? Imagine a thing like that. How is everything? How is your leg, did you get the surgery? How’s my mother? I know what you mean… life is like that sometimes, isn’t it?

Once upon a time, there was a Little Girl. When she was four years old, her mother took her far away from where she lived, to a new place, called ‘California’. When the Little Girl asked where her daddy was, her mother told her that she wouldn’t be seeing him again, because he had hurt them and he didn’t love them anymore.

But it was okay, Mother said, because the Little Girl was going to have a new daddy now. A new man had come into their lives; he loved Mother, and he would learn to love the Little Girl, too. But the Little Girl wasn’t sure. How could she trust this man to love her when her own biological father didn’t?

It wasn’t easy for the Little Girl, and it wasn’t easy for her new Daddy. These things are hard no matter what, but Mother made it even harder. She never let Daddy act like the Little Girl’s father, held it over him that he wasn’t her biological parent, only she was. She also caused fights between him and the Little Girl whenever she saw them getting too close; she needed to be the fulcrum around which the family moved. You see, Mother was a very unhappy person, and she made everyone around her unhappy, too.

Despite these difficulties, the Little Girl and her new Daddy grew to love each other, or at least so the Little Girl believed. When she was nineteen, Mother and Daddy decided to get divorced, and Daddy wrote the Little Girl a letter telling her that he loved her like she was his very own, and he always would, no matter what happened between him and Mother. And for the first time ever, the Little Girl started to believe she mattered.

But this wasn’t a fairy tale, and life doesn’t always end with happily ever after.

Mother and Daddy decided to stay married, and they moved far away to start a new life in another new place. It was very difficult for the Little Girl and her Daddy now that they were living so far apart, but they tried hard, and their relationship grew stronger than ever.

But when Mother found out how close the two of them were, she became very, very angry and very, very jealous. She began to pull their relationship apart again; she told lots of lies, and turned the two of them against one another.

The Little Girl saw what Mother was doing, and how unhappy a person Mother was. She very sadly realized that if she didn’t want to be unhappy, too, she would have to stay away from Mother. She explained this to her Daddy, and told him that even so, she still wanted him to be in her life, that she wanted to make sure their relationship stayed strong. And she kept trying hard, but it was too late.

Daddy stopped visiting his Little Girl, and stopped calling her. Birthday cards stopped, and there were no wishes at Christmas. The Little Girl grew up, graduated from college, got married and had a baby; her Daddy wasn’t at any of those events to share them with her. Days passed into months, and months turned into years…all without her Daddy.

 

Okay, well, I won’t keep you. It’s been good running into you; I’m glad you’re well. Stay safe.

The Little Girl turned and watched her Daddy disappear into the distance.

Goodbye, Daddy. I miss you.

Poetry from Sean Lynch

 

Summer

we were in west philly
and you got angry because of my friend
i thought there was something

inside of you and he was fucked up

on oxies and jack daniels reminding

me of new jersey though we had fun

watching connor all inebriated and singing

sweetly i felt
the abrasiveness in the air

finding our way out of the ghetto

wasn’t easier than usual

the lights were swinging back and forth

on market and i couldn’t keep my foot

off the pedal danger danger

we were sweaty

and you made a generous donation
i risked our lives for no good reason

i urinated in your dresser
and since it was made of plastic
the acrid smell of broken-down beer

lingered longer than necessary
i couldn’t stop talking in my sleep

reflecting some horrors
i’d never remember

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Essay from Ayokunle Adeleye

The REP I Want

 

These days where the mundane is hyped, and the mediocre is celebrated, it is just so easy to lose focus, to show off stupidity, and to profit from ignorance. Since these days, service has been mutated to counter-servitude, and privilege has jumped borders: it used to be a privilege to serve, now it is a privilege to be served, even by one’s own representative. Service was a job, contested for, sworn for, and slaved for; now service is tyranny, an avenue to detain and harass familial enemies, a means to circumvolve diffidents, subdue dissidents, and propagate familiar, unconstitutional, policies, and a means to an end no less.

 

So that these days, every elected human (human, not official; perhaps calling them ‘official’ is why they act like slave masters) want reelection, deservedly or not. So that these days when I go to the market square, its modern equivalent, rather, it is hard to not notice those two large billboards urging the reelection of a certain Rep and citing somnolent soliloquized accomplishments, accomplishments that, in my entitled opinion, belie a four-year tenure. So that as soon as I acknowledge the ventriloquial message, “•••• lafé léèkan si”, meaning, ‘we want •••• one more time’, I smile. And that is all one can do. Àbí? I smile because I’d rather not laugh, mock, or scorn. I smile because I’m privy to letdowns at the hand of our man, and at a pivotal time too. I smile so I may not cry…

 

Since I know that not everything is money, monetary or infrastructure– that is how those of us not savoring the fabulous National Cake, and not even enjoying the crumbs off the fabled table, yet live from day to day in our diabetic land, a land of hunger in the midst of plenty. No bursary, no scholarship; yet we paid extra school fees for which receipts are yet inaccessible after four months, and even the political, sorry, publicized, reduction in school fees is not to take effect until another six.

 

Nay; not everything is in terms of how much funds an elected has in hand to conceive and execute worthwhile projects, lest sycophants say he would have done much more had he had the funds. Not everything is in Naira and kobo; some things are just integrity, plain and simple, and the lack thereof. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, the head thinketh, and the hand doeth. At least that is the sequence the political species operate: promise first, think later… acknowledge, assuage, assure, abnegate, then abrogate and abscond; àbí?

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