Surferbird News-Links, 9th Edition

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Welcome to Surferbird News-Links. Join me on an exploration of health, food, science, and the environment. For more information on the name and origin of Surferbird News-Links, see here. Oh, I almost forgot; there's always an earworm at the end of every edition.What's an earworm? you ask. Well, scroll on down to discover!

Surferbird News-Links, a weekly summary from across the web

News-Links

Environment

A tall tower in the Amazon - The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory, 1,066 feet tall, will record data to study the role of the carbon cycle in the Amazon jungle. It's the tallest structure in South America and will add to our understanding of climate change. Take a look at the moving image; you'll be glad you did. It's taller than the Eiffel Tower.

Fish are choosing microplastics over zooplankton - This isn't the kind of news I like to share, but it's real. The effects of microplastics on the health and survival of fish are devastating.

America's Preparedness Report Card - How prepared is your state for current and future effects of climate change? I was surprised that California received an A, given the situation with the drought. What grade did your state receive?

What's buried in the backyard?- This was an interesting article about the origin of trash. Disposable packaging didn't really begin until the Victorian era; people used to make everything at home. I enjoyed looking at the various artifacts buried in the backyards of English homes. They look like treasures, to me!

Food

Bring on those wild cousins - I have a cousin who used to pull my hair. I would sit defenseless like a plant and let her. I'm glad she doesn't do that anymore. But what am I saying? This article isn't about those types of cousins; we're talking about real plants, and the genes from these "wild cousin" plants might prove useful for the future of our changing food supply. Read on to learn about the importance of collecting wild plants, which are, unfortunately, disappearing.

And while you're at it, pass the kelp - Kelp may just well be the new kale. It's nutritious and doesn't require fertilizer, pesticides, fresh water, or land - not to mention that it sequesters carbon. More than simply doing no harm, it has the potential to heal the environment.

Health

Health benefits of iced tea - As we move into summer and the temperature climbs, enjoy your iced tea; but don't feel guilty about it. Iced tea has some clear health benefits. Read on to learn more.

News on Atrazine - second most widely used weedkiller - It's been fifteen years since this herbicide was evaluated, and it's not a pretty picture. The EPA reports surface and groundwater contamination with serious risks to birds, mammals, and fish, even at levels below established safety limits. The use of Atrazine isn't permitted Europe, and a report on health risks for humans will be coming out later in the year.

Science, technology, and other stuff

Did you hear about the owl that hugged one of its caretakers? - This owl lives in Mississippi; I'm from Mississippi, and I pretend to be an owl - at least some of the time. Check out the rare gift of this injured owl's caretaker. He has a beautiful way with animals. I can't help but believe that the owl was hugging its caretaker instead of merely spreading its wings. You will have to decide for yourself. The photo is priceless.

Protecting the future of fireflies - I used to catch fireflies as a child, and at night, they would light up my room. I always let them go. Fireflies are disappearing, but here are some ways that you can help - especially if you have a garden.

Autism and peripheral nerves - Autism isn't just about differences in brain development; it may also be linked to peripheral nerves throughout the body that communicate sensory information with the brain. This is truly a fascinating article, which helps explain the heightened sensitivities to touch in those with autism.

Celebrating the intelligence of slime mold - P. Polycephalum, a bright yellow slimy blob (a single-celled organism), is capable of making decisions - even irrational ones. We share something in common. It's a gelatinous amoeba and lives on the forest floor. After reading this article, I have a new appreciation for the different ways cognition is expressed. There's a video of P. Polycephalum in action through the link above. My youngest owlet and I watched the amoeba find food, its reward, by figuring out the shortest route through a maze.

Earworm

The Surferbird almost took the day off along with "The Owl." That would have been OK, and it even conjures up a funny image, doesn't it? What - were they going surfing?

But I really want to make a go of this blog, and besides, these Surferbird News-Links are fun to put together. And what was I supposed to do with my earworm?

This is going to seem silly, but because I want to make it with the search engines, so to speak, and search engines like it when you write posts, Make it with You by Bread became this week's earworm.

I know many of you will find it sappy, but I slow danced the first time to this song. I remember the day and the place when that occurred. As you might have guessed by now, I'm a sappy owl. But I still love this song.   Laura