Observations.

Is the Lost Cause finally getting lost?

In a response to the recent furor over the Confederate flag and its removal from public grounds, Kevin Drum just nails it:

Are we still arguing about whether the Civil War was really fought over slavery? Seriously? What's next? The Holocaust was really about Jews overstaying their tourist visas? The Inquisition was a scientific exploration of the limits of the human body? The Romans were genuinely curious about whether a man could kill a hungry lion? The Bataan death march was a controlled trial of different brands of army boots?
(Kevin Drum, Are We Still Yammering About Whether the Civil War Was About Slavery? Really?, Mother Jones
Essays, Science.

The moons of Jupiter

The fascination of astronomy for me, beyond the beauty of the heavens in the night sky, beyond the immense imponderables of the current model of a vast and ancient universe, is the idea that our understanding regarding the universe has been gleaned by observing from the Earth a few points of light in the sky. One illustration of this can be found in the history of our knowledge of the moons of Jupiter.
Education, Science.

Evolutionary zinger: The bat, the moth, and the mite

When Fred Rickson taught his section of General Biology at Oregon State, I made sure to attend all of his lectures, as he opened them with his evolutionary zingers, hoping that his students would would be enticed to be more prompt than usual.  My favorite was his zinger about the three-way symbiotic relationship between a bat, a moth, and a mite.
Education, Science.

Evolutionary zinger: Ants and acacia trees

I treasure the science education I obtained at Oregon State University. One standout class was General Biology, a portion of which was taught by professor Fred Rickson. He did not like people slipping in late, so he gave short teasers promptly at the start of the hour, which he entitled evolutionary zingers, hoping that his students would enjoy the stories sufficiently to show up on time. It definitely worked for me. I was not in the habit of attending a lot of lectures, but the intricate stories of complex life told by professor Rickson were as attractive to me as nectar "fountains" are to acacia ants, the subject of one of his zingers.
Poetry.

Breathing

I lie flat upon my back,
having just flung myself to the ground following the full effort of a bicycle ride up a long hill,
breathing deep and hard,
swallowing gulps of restoring air.

I feel my rib-cage lift against the fabric of my shirt as each breath enters my lungs,
my muscles and cartilage stretch to accommodate the air,
then rapidly compress,
expelling a rush of sound.

I attend to the bed of grass in which I lie,
its earthy smell of hay,
its tiny fruiting heads gently scraping against the skin of my forearms,
its stalks waving in the wind and against one another in soft whispers.

I feel the simple pleasure of being alive,
as a gentle breeze flows across my chest,
and the spring Sun shines down and warms my skin.

Around me all else in this glorious moment unnoticed,
ignored.

Just. Breathing.

From memories of a bike ride from Rodalben up Pirmasenser Strasse to the Husterhöh Kaserne, Pirmasens, Germany, 1975.