Hawaii Lava Flow

Hawaii lava flow speeds up, threatens small town

By Michael Pearson, CNN
updated 4:40 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014

Story and video



Lava Edges Closer To Hawaii Town

Interview with surf shop owner who’s getting ready evacuate.

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4 min 28 sec

The Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has been erupting continuously since 1983. Two years ago, the lava flow changed direction and now its path is about 600 yards from a main road in the town of Pahoa. Melissa Block talks to Tiffany Edwards, co-owner of Jeff Hunt Surfboards, about how residents are reacting.


Move 3–huge tree


University to move 200-year-old burr oak for Ross School project

The 65-foot-tall tree stands next to the Computer and Executive Education Building, which will be demolished for the Ross School expansion. A new, larger building that will connect to existing buildings will be constructed on that site on the north side of the Ross School complex.

Relocating the large burr oak tree is part of the $135 million, donor-funded Ross School project, which was approved by the U-M Board of Regents in February. The schematic design was approved April 17.

This 200-year-old burr oak will be moved as part of the Ross School expansion project. (Photo by Joel Johnson, Michigan Photography)

University officials have consulted with experts at moving large trees and believe the tree can be relocated successfully. Burr oaks are known to live up to 400 years.

“Based on extensive conversations with companies that specialize in relocating large trees, we believe this move can be successful,” said Sue Gott, university planner.  “There are no guarantees when moving trees of this age and size, but experts have cited several examples where this has been done successfully.”

There are only a few firms in the country capable of moving such a large tree.

Gott added, “We will do everything within reason to make this a successful move and maximize the life of this tree after it has been moved.”

The tree would be moved in late fall to a location along Tappan Avenue, near the entrance to the Ross School of Business Building.

Preparation work for the big move will begin immediately. Some of those pre-move activities include:

• Exploratory digging to establish the root-ball size.

• Root pruning to encourage new root growth within the root ball.

• Supplemental watering and fertilization.

• Selective pruning to ensure structure and weight balance.

This tree is one of a handful of older burr oaks on Central Campus. Others can be found near the Clements Library, Hatcher Library and Barbour Residence Hall sites.

University officials estimate the cost of the project to be approximately $300,000-$400,000. The cost for relocating the tree is part of the project costs for the Ross School expansion. Funding for the project is from Steven M. Ross’ lead gift of $100 million and additional gifts.

The university also will take extraordinary measures to protect another large burr oak in the Ross School courtyard during construction.

This spring, the university was recognized as a 2013 Tree Campus USA for the sixth consecutive year. With more than 16,000 trees on the maintained landscapes on campus, the Plant Building and Grounds Services crews plant an approximate 100 trees per year to maintain the campus forestry.

Tree Campus USA was launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota. This national program promotes environmental stewardship and the contributions made to make a healthier, more sustainable world.

Another story with more on this move.

Representative photo.

How to move a large tree.


Animals and Mirrors


What Do Animals Think They See When They Look in the Mirror?

What a handsome beak.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The six horses in a 2002 study were “known weavers.” When stabled alone, they swayed their heads, necks, forequarters, and sometimes their whole bodies from side to side. The behavior is thought to stem from the social frustration brought on by isolation. It can be seen in a small percentage of all stabled horses, and owners hate it—they think it causes fatigue, weight loss, and uneven muscle development, and it looks disturbing.

People had tried stopping the weaving by installing metal bars that limit a horse’s movement, but the study found that a different modification to the stable worked surprisingly well: a mirror. “Those horses with the mirror were rarely [observed] weaving,” the researchers reported. A later study even found that the mirror worked just as well as the presence of another horse.

Studies have shown that mirrors can improve the lives of a variety of laboratory, zoo, farm, and companion animals. Isolated cows and sheep have lower stress reactions when mirrors are around. With mirrors, monkeys alone or in groups show a healthy increase in social behaviors such as threats, grimaces, lip-smacking, and teeth chattering, and laboratory rabbits housed alone are also more active. Mirrors in birdcages reduce some birds’ fear.

But why? Other animals have a very different experience with mirrors than people do. According to the prevailing science, individuals of most species can’t recognize their reflections as themselves. The only known exceptions are humans, some great apes, and possibly dolphins, elephants, and magpies—all animals with high intelligence.

Gordon Gallup invented the test that shows whether an animal recognizes itself in the mirror: He marked primates’ faces and ears with dye and watched whether they used a mirror to investigate the spots. If they did, it revealed that the animals understood that the faces in the mirror were their own. But he thinks that most animals probably think of their reflections as another animal. The calming effect in some cases could come partly from the reflection’s apparent mimicking. “The animal confronting its own reflection in a mirror has complete control over the behavior of the image, and therefore the image is always attentive and ready to reciprocate when the animal is,” he and Stuart Capper wrote in 1970. In other words, the mirror image is sort of like a friend who always does exactly what you want.

Yet it does seem likely that some animals are intelligent enough to notice that there are differences between a reflection and a real animal—an animal in a mirror has no smell or sound, and for that matter, no body. Even fish may get that: Researchers have routinely used mirrors to test aggression levels in fish because fish are among the creatures that react fearfully to their mirror images. But a study published in May found that two out of three related cichlid species exhibited differing responses to a mirror image and to an actual live opponent. Another study found differences in brain gene expression levels depending on whether fish were meeting other fish or a mirror. “Clearly, the fish recognize something unusual about the mirror image and the differential brain response may reflect a cognitive distinction,” the authors write.

Whatever animals do conclude about the creature in the mirror, mirrors sometimes lead to bizarre (and unhelpful) behaviors. Many bird owners have horror stories of their male birds “mating” with their reflections and continuously masturbating. This mirror-image mate can also stimulate females to lay eggs, which can be dangerous for them because it depletes calcium, causing brittle bones and other health problems. Pair-bonding birds, like budgies, may bond with their mirror image and snub their owner. Mice feed less around mirrors, suggesting that mirrors may not be ideal companions for rodents, either.

When it comes to dogs and cats, reactions vary. The first mirror exposure can be hilarious, with the young animal trying to play or fight with its reflection—and ending up completely confused. Eventually most of them ignore or even avoid their reflections, although some dogs continue to growl when confronted with a mirror. But it’s clear that some pets, especially cats, continue to be entertained by their reflections, preening and performing acrobatics in front of the mirror, making it seem for all the world like they recognize themselves.

Though mirrors may provide comfort and entertainment, they are clearly not enough for most social animals. The most poignant example is a study of young monkeys raised with only mirrors for companionship. Not surprisingly, the monkeys displayed a sad mix of “autoeroticism, self-clasping, stereotypy, and bizarre posturing,” behaviors known as isolation syndrome. The same would be true for isolated cats, dogs, birds, and other pets. If you’ve got one, you know: They accept no substitute for the person you see in the mirror.

Chelsea Wald is a freelance journalist based in Vienna, Austria, specializing in science, medicine and the environment. Follow her on Twitter.

Congratulations . . .

. . . to Beth, Jesse, Hazel, Paloma and all the other residents of the area !

Must be a comforting thought:

Boulder flushes out all others for city with most toilets

With 102 johns available for every 100 residents, Boulder is the No. 1 city in the country in Redfin’s new ranking “Tons of Toilets: Which City Sits Atop the Throne?”

Boulder is the only city that has more toilets than residents, according to the Seattle-based real estate brokerage’s study.

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Must mean a lot of jobs for people who didn’t make the upper half of the class.  Reminds me of the school board member who said in a public meeting, “We need to get more students into the upper half of the class.”

I remember the three outhouses behind each gas station in rural Oklahoma, late 1950’s, labeled WHITE, COLORED, INDIAN.

Around 4th and Linden here in Wilmette, the stores and restaurants have signs that say “no public resrtrooms” or “restrooms for customers only”.  Think of the people getting off the EL after riding for an hour and a half or two!  EL stops once had washrooms, a long time ago.

A couple of years ago,I’d been driving for   two and a half hours, the last hour crawling  on the Eisenhower Expressway,  and needed a washroom.  I turned off into what I think was the Lawndale neighborhood on the west side of Chicago, home of a lot of poor black people.  I stopped at two gas stations whose washrooms had  OUT OF ORDER signs and, desperate, went into a barbecue take-out place.  The young woman there said they had no public washroom.  I said, “I’m really in trouble.”  She talked briefly with another worker, then said to me, “Come on back” and unlocked a door for me.When I was her age, a black person didn’t dare enter a restaurant in white areas, let alone ask for the washroom.   Even now black people are very careful in some neighborhoods.


Moving Lighthouse, Really !

Moving the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

The Principal Keeper's Quarters moves ahead of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to the new site.

The Principal Keeper’s Quarters moves ahead of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to the new site.
NPS Photo
In 1999, the Cape Hatteras Light Station, which consists of seven historic structures, was successfully relocated 2,900 feet from the spot on which it had stood since 1870. Because of the threat of shoreline erosion, a natural process, the entire light station was safely moved to a new site where the historic buildings and cisterns were placed in spatial and elevational relationship to each other, exactly as they had been at the original site. While the National Park Service has met its obligation to both historic preservation and coastal protection, the much-heralded move of the historic station, especially the lighthouse, was hotly debated and closely watched.

Why the Cape Hatteras Light Station Had to be Moved When completed in 1870, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was located a safe 1,500 feet from the ocean. Even then, however, storm-driven tides completely washed over Hatteras Island, eroding sand from the ocean side of the island and depositing it on the sound side. By 1970, this process, which has caused the gradual westward migration of the Outer Banks for at least the past 10,000 years, left the lighthouse just 120 feet from the ocean’s edge and almost certain destruction.

The key to preserving the 1870 tower is its “floating foundation”. Yellow pine timbers sit in fresh water on compacted sand, with a brick and granite foundation on top of them. This foundation was built because pilings could not be driven through hard sand located barely 8 feet below ground level when construction began. As long as the sand surrounding the foundation remained in place, and the timbers remained bathed by the fresh water in which they were placed in 1868, the foundation was secure. If a storm eroded the sand or the fresh water was disturbed by salt water intrusion, the timbers would rot and the foundation would eventually fail.

Since the 1930s, efforts have been made to protect the Lighthouse from the encroaching sea. The Coast Guard installed the first sheetpile “groins” (walls built perpendicular to the shore) to try to protect the tower. In 1936, however, they abandoned the lighthouse to the sea and moved its light to a skeleton steel tower in Buxton Woods. In the 1960s and 1970s, as the ocean continued to creep closer, various attempts to “stabilize” the coast included beach nourishment and three new groins installed north of the lighthouse. A severe storm in 1980 accentuated the island’s westward movement washing away the foundation of the first (1803) lighthouse, which had been 600 feet south of the existing lighthouse. In 1803, that lighthouse had been one mile from the shoreline.

In 1980, the National Park Service began planning, under the National Environmental Policy Act, for long-term protection. A three-year process that included public meetings yielded several alternatives. Relocation was considered but quickly discounted as impractical. The option finally selected was a concrete and steel seawall revetment that would have protected the lighthouse in place but would eventually have created an island as the coastline receded to the southwest. As moving technology advanced during the decade and additional information became available about relocation versus the approved seawall, the National Park Service examined the alternative that allowed it to accommodate natural processes while still preserving the historic structures of the light station.

An aerial photograph shows the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse very close to the ocean waves.

This aerial photograph shows how close the lighthouse was to the sea.  During strong storms, sea water would wash around the base of the structure.  NPS Photo

In 1987, the NPS requested the assistance of the National Academy of Sciences, a group of scientists and engineers who advise the federal government on technical matters. The Academy’s 1988 report, Saving Cape Hatteras Lighthouse from the Sea: Options and Policy Implications, considered ten options but recommended relocation as the most cost-effective method of protection. The National Park Service also considered this the best overall solution in that it would preserve the structures and accommodate the natural shoreline processes.

However, many people feared destruction of the brick lighthouse, the tallest in the United States. From 1988 to 1995, the relocation option was debated and discussed, with no funding requests made at the Congressional level or concerted fund-raising campaigns undertaken in the private sector. As Federal budgets became leaner, the NPS worked with the Army Corps of Engineers on a short-term (10-20 year) protection option to build a fourth groin south of the lighthouse. Officials hoped that it would protect the most vulnerable section of the lighthouse area, and would give the NPS time to raise Federal funds for relocation. However, North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission staff stated that it would not recommend a permit for building the fourth groin since placing any hardened structures on the North Carolina coast is prohibited by state statutes.

In 1996, North Carolina State University independently reviewed the National Academy of Sciences’ report and then issued its own report, Saving the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse from the Sea, in January 1997. It not only endorsed the National Academy of Sciences’ findings, but also recommended that “the National Park Service proceed as soon as possible with its present plans to obtain the financial resources necessary to preserve the lighthouse by moving it.” NPS managers then initiated a concerted effort to begin the planning and funding process to move the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Funding was finally appropriated by Congress beginning in fiscal year 1998.

An aerial photograph shows the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with a path cut through the trees to the lighthouse's new home.

The move path spanned 2,900 feet.  In the new location (bottom right) the keepers’ quarters are already in place before the lighthouse move.  NPS Photo

How the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was Moved The decision to relocate the Cape Hatteras Light Station was a sound public policy decision based on the best science and engineering information available. International Chimney Corp. of Buffalo, New York was awarded the contract to move the lighthouse, assisted, among other contractors, by Expert House Movers of Maryland. In simple terms, the concept of moving the 4,830 ton structure consisted of lifting it off its foundation, transferring the load to a transport system, moving the tower along a prepared move route, and installing it on the new foundation.

To accomplish this feat, the original foundation down to the pine timbers was replaced by temporary shoring beams and supports. Then a steel beam mat was inserted over the timber mat with temporary posts on top. As cross beams and main beams were set, the temporary shoring parts and beams were removed. Hydraulic jacks built into the main beams were used to effect the 6 foot raise so that roll beams and rollers could be introduced. After all jacks were shored, using oak cribbing, the system was pressurized and the jacks began lifting. At each lift level, jacks were retracted and shored up in sequence and the system lifted again to 6 feet. At this point it was ready to roll.

After it was lifted, the tower moved along to its new location 2,900 feet to the southwest on steel mats starting on June 17, 1999. Steel track beams became rails and roller dollies permitted the support frame to move along the track. Three zones of hydraulic jacks kept the lighthouse aligned. Push jacks, clamped to the track pulled the frame forward 5 feet at a time. The lighthouse was equipped with sixty automated sensors to measure the transfer of the load, tilt, vibration, and shaft diameter. A weather station was installed at the top to monitor wind speed and temperature.

The Principal Keeper’s Quarters, Double Keepers’ Quarters, oil house, cisterns, and sidewalks, which were moved during February, March, and April, awaited the lighthouse. On July 9, 1999 the lighthouse was carefully placed onto its new foundation, which foundation consists of a 60′ x 60′ steel-reinforced concrete slab 4 feet deep, 5 feet of brick, and 1 1/2 to 2 feet of rock. The light station was whole once again with all the buildings being in the same relative position as they were originally.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, sentinel of the perilous Diamond Shoals, where the Gulf Stream meets the Labrador Current, witness to the tragic sinking and triumphant rescues claimed by the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” resumed its duties on November 13, 1999 and continues to do so to this day. Now safely 1,600 feet from the ocean, it should not be threatened by the indomitable ocean waves for another 100 years.


Lots more photos



New National Monument

Christian Science Monitor

Obama to designate San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument

Juliet Eilperin October 10 at 10:43 AM  Washington Post

President Obama used his legal authority on Friday to designate the San Gabriel Mountains, located in northeast of Los Angeles, as a national monument. (WhiteHouse.gov)
When President Obama stands in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles on Friday and sets aside 346,000 acres as the country’s newest national monument, he will bring together two of the top priorities of what he hopes will be his presidential legacy — environmental protection and cultural and demographic diversity.The ceremony — which will mark the 13th time Obama has used his legal authority to designate a monument — reflects a broader White House strategy to preserve public lands that resonate with key demographic groups.Latino organizations and allied groups have lobbied for nearly a decade and a half to safeguard the San Gabriel Mountains on the grounds that they provide critical green space and fresh water to the area’s large Latino population.“What we want to ensure, and what the president has focused on, is that all Americans, and the great diversity of Americans, both have the opportunity to access these important places and can experience them” in perpetuity, White House counselor John D. Podesta said in an interview.The next spot Obama will use his legal authority to protect is Chicago’s Pullman Park district, which commemorates both labor and African American history. The administration is also eyeing other sites, such as a former Japanese American internment camp in Hawaii. More on Pullman District

Podesta said he doubted whether Friday’s designation would influence next month’s midterm elections. “Most of the decisions about Congress and governors are not going to be made in Los Angeles County. But I think this will get an enthusiastic response from the Latino community in Los Angeles County, as it should.”

The new monument, which will include parts of the Angeles and San Bernardino national forests, accounts for 70 percent of Los Angeles County’s open space and provides more than one-third of its drinking water. Fifteen million people live within a 90-minute drive, and the mountain range provides critical habitat for imperiled plants and animals, such as the California condor, Nelson’s Bighorn sheep, spotted owl and the mountain yellow-legged frog.

Several local groups and federal lawmakers who represent the area — such as California Democrats Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Judy Chu — have called on Obama to designate the region a monument, but some local officials and national land rights activists have argued that doing so will interfere with private property owners’ rights. The National Park Service conducted a 10-year study on the area, and Chu introduced legislation to create the designation.

Republican House candidate Jack Orswell, who is challenging Chu, wrote in an e-mail that he is concerned that federal authorities will use the designation to “prohibit the use of motorized vehicles, bicycles, horses, shooting sports and mining.”

“As the saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it?’ We don’t need new designations to protect what has been protected for over 100 years,” he said, noting that there are private cabins, a camp and a pack station in the area.

But the Wilderness Society’s Daniel Rossman, who chairs the San Gabriel Mountains Forever coalition, said making the area into a monument will both raise the area’s profile and prompt federal officials to draft a management plan “to protect some of the last remaining wild places” and reduce “the trash, graffiti and safety hazards” that exist now.

Rossman noted that the east fork of the San Gabriel River, which lies in the heart of the Angeles Forest, often violates Los Angeles regional water-quality standards because of the amount of diapers, plastic bags and other waste flowing through it.

Although both Republican and Democratic presidents have used the Antiquities Act to safeguard cultural and ecological sites, Obama has emphasized the historic contributions of Native Americans, blacks and Latinos when he has invoked the law. During his first term, he created national monuments at Fort Monroe, a Hampton, Va., community that served as a safe haven for former slaves during the Civil War; Chimney Rock, a sacred site for Pueblo Indians in Colorado; and labor leader Cesar Chavez’s home. On March 23, he established five more, including one honoring Harriet Tubman’s work on the Underground Railroad on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers in Ohio.

GOP consultant Alex Castellanos said by e-mail that Obama defines a national monument as “more land the federal government has grabbed so our children can’t enjoy it, either. This president misses very few opportunities to ban energy production, grazing, and any other productive activity he can, any where that he can, just to score political points with his favored constituencies.”

However, Ken Salazar, who as interior secretary commissioned a study of Latino heritage sites, said he “prioritized, and had the president’s complete backing, to make sure we had a more diverse portfolio for the United States of America. . . . When you look at the National Register historic landmarks that celebrate the contributions of women, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans, it is appalling. There’s a lot more that needs to be done.”

According to a recent analysis by the liberal Center for American Progress on the country’s 461 national parks and monuments, 26 center on the black community, 19 on Latinos, eight on women, two on Asian Americans and zero on the LGBT community.

While many Republicans have criticized the administration over the San Gabriel Mountains, they have been more supportive of the idea of making Chicago’s Pullman Park district into a national monument. The area, which includes nearly 90 percent of the original buildings that rail car magnate George Pullman built a century ago for his factory town, was the birthplace of the nation’s first African American union.

On Sept. 30, four Illinois Republicans — Sen. Mark Kirk and Reps. Rodney Davis, Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger — sent Obama a letter urging him to declare it a national park under the Antiquities Act. Not only did the railroad strike of 1894 lead to greater rights for workers, the lawmakers wrote, but the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters — America’s first African American union — also “helped build the black middle class and laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights movement of the mid-20th century.”

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis told Chicago residents in August that he supports making the district a national monument, and Podesta confirmed that the White House was ready to adopt Jarvis’s recommendation. Chicago is the only major U.S. city without a national park unit.

The administration is also looking at potential designations in other parts of the country, including Puerto Rico and Hawaii. It has invited citizens to propose potential sites to expand the National Marine Sanctuaries System, which could lead to additional national monuments.

At the same time, administration officials have told Republican lawmakers that they will hold off making some designations to see if Congress can adopt new protections on its own. A coalition of local residents and national conservation groups has called on the president to expand Canyonlands National Park in Utah because of the effects of offroad vehicle use in the area, as well as grazing and mining activities.

Rep. Rob Bishop, (R-Utah) who chairs the House Natural Resources subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation, said he is drafting compromise legislation on the issue “so everyone wins something, and nobody gets everything they want.” Both Bishop and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, have spoken to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on the issue; Bishop said Jewell assured him that Utah authorities would not be surprised by a designation there.

As long as his drafting process is ongoing, Bishop said: “I don’t expect the White House staff, who probably can’t find Utah on the map, to actually do anything.”

 More on national monuments

Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming is enjoyed by climbers and other visitors.  President Theodore Roosevelt declared Devils Tower in Wyoming as the first national monument because he thought Congress was moving too slowly and it would be ruined by the time they made it a national park.

 What is a national monument?  It’s a protected area, some very large, some very small, created by presidential order and administered by an agency of the government. The order can be reversed by a subsequent president.  A national park is created by the Congress and administered by the National Park Service.


Sixteen presidents have created national monuments since the program began; only Richard NixonRonald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush did not.[5] Bill Clinton created the most monuments, nineteen, and expanded three others. Jimmy Carter protected vast parts of Alaska, proclaiming fifteen national monuments, some of which later were promoted to national parks.

Many national monuments are no longer designated as such. Some were changed to national parks or another status by Congress or the President, while others were transferred to state control or disbanded.

More in Wikipedia



Big Bluff to Magic Pill


The Great Bluff That Led To A ‘Magical’ Pill And A Sexual Revolution

The history of how the birth control pill was developed in the 1950s is recounted in Jonathan Eig's new book The Birth of the Pill.

The history of how the birth control pill was developed in the 1950s is recounted in Jonathan Eig’s new book The Birth of the Pill.  iStockphoto.com

In the 1950s, four people — the founder of the birth control movement, a controversial scientist, a Catholic obstetrician and a wealthy feminist — got together to create a revolutionary little pill the world had never seen before.

They were sneaky about what they were doing — skirting the law, lying to women about the tests they performed and fibbing to the public about their motivations.

“They absolutely could’ve been imprisoned for some of the work they were doing,” journalist Jonathan Eig tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “These guys are like guerrilla warriors — they’re always having to figure out ways to do this thing that will attract the least attention. … They can never really say they’re testing birth control.”

The Birth of the Pill
The Birth of the Pill

How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution

by Jonathan Eig

Eig tells the history in his new book The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution.

The four people who created this revolution were: Margaret Sanger, who believed that women could not enjoy sex or freedom until they could control when and whether they got pregnant; scientist Gregory Pincus, who was fired from Harvard for experimenting with in-vitro fertilization and bragging about it to the mainstream press; John Rock, who was a Catholic OB-GYN and worked with Pincus to conduct tests of the pill on women; and Katharine McCormick, who funded much of the research.

In the ’50s, selling contraception was still officially illegal in many states.

But Sanger and McCormick, a feminist who had been active in the suffrage movement, wanted women to enjoy sex — without fear of getting pregnant.

After McCormick’s husband died, McCormick got in touch with Sanger.

According to Eig, McCormick said, “What’s the most important thing we could possibly work on?”

“Sanger said, ‘The best thing we could possibly do is work on this pill, this miracle tablet … something that would give women the right to control their bodies for the first time.’ And McCormick said, ‘I’m in: Whatever you need.’ “

Interview Highlights

On why Eig wanted to write the book

I was listening to a rabbi’s sermon — this was maybe five or six years ago — and he began by saying that the birth control pill may have been the most important invention of the 20th century. My immediate reaction was, “That’s nuts. That can’t possibly be. I can think of six things off the top of my head that seemed more important than that.” But it stayed with me. I kept thinking about it.

A couple of years went by and I was still thinking about it. His case was that it had changed more than just science, more than just medicine. It had changed human dynamics. It had changed the way men and women get along in the world. It changed reproduction, obviously, but it also created all kinds of opportunities for women that weren’t there before, it had spread democracy. …

If it really was the most important invention of the 20th century, and maybe he was right, why don’t I know how we got there? I don’t know the inventor of the pill. I can tell you the inventor of the telephone and the telegraph and the light bulb, but I have no idea where the pill came from.

Margaret Sanger was considered the founder of the birth control movement.

General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

On American Birth Control League founder Margaret Sanger seeking a “magical pill”

Sanger’s story is personal in some respects. She had seen her own mother die after having given birth to what she felt like were far too many children and far too great a sexual drive on her father’s part. She went to work in the slums of New York City where women were having eight, nine, 10 children with no idea how to stop it, other than having abortions, which were often poorly performed and very dangerous. So she saw this stuff very up close. …

There had been this backlash against the control of fertility in the late 1800s and early 1900s, where it had been made illegal even though the fertility rates had been dropping over the course of the 18th century.

But by the time you get to Sanger and she’s a young woman working in New York City, it’s very hard for women to get any kind of education even about birth control, much less birth control products. She has this plan to improve education for women. But her dream, and it’s really just a dream, is that there should be some kind of magical pill — something that would allow women to turn on and off their reproductive systems.

On scientist Gregory Pincus and his controversial work

Pincus was fired from Harvard. In fact, he was denied tenure because he was far too controversial. In the 1930s, he was not only experimenting with in-vitro fertilization, he was bragging about it to the mainstream press, which is something serious scientists weren’t supposed to do.

Instead of just publishing his results in medical journals, he was taking them to popular magazines and saying, “This is the brave new world!” And people were scared of the Brave New World because of the Huxley book, but Pincus didn’t mind the comparisons. He said, “Someday we will control [how] babies are born. We might not even need men in the process. We will be able to control the giving of life through science.” This scared the hell out of people.

Harvard, which had once hailed Pincus’ research as some of the most important research it had ever done, suddenly quit on him, cut ties completely and he was unable to find a job anywhere else in the world of academics. He ended up working out of a garage for a little while, out of a barn for a bit, and then founded his own scientific institution on really a wing and a prayer, going door-to-door in the community of Worcester, Mass., knocking on doors, asking people to contribute to his scientific foundation. So he was a real fringe character at the point that Margaret Sanger and Katharine McCormick found him.

On Pincus working with fertility gynecologist, John Rock, testing injections on unknowing women

There’s a lot of lying in this process of creating the first oral contraceptive. That’s what they have to do. You can really have a wonderful ethical discussion and debate about whether it was worth it, whether they were doing things that were beyond the bounds. The laws and the ethics of science were very different in the 1950s than they are today — you didn’t have to give informed consent, you didn’t have to have anybody sign forms giving away their rights, telling them about what these experiments are for. So in a way, we do have women being treated like lab animals so that we may find a form of birth control that frees them. There’s a great irony there.

On how they sought Food and Drug Administration approval

This is the first pill ever created for healthy women to take every day. There’s never been anything like this and the idea of seeking FDA approval for something women are going to take every day without studying it for years and years and checking out the long-term side effects, this is scary stuff! But Pincus also feels like he’s racing the clock, that if the word gets out about this and the Catholic Church and the federal government realize what they’re doing, the opposition will mount and he’ll have no chance of getting it through. …

Author Jonathan Eig is a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal and has written three other books about Al Capone, Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson.

Steven E Gross/Courtesy of W.W. Norton

In 1955, when they’ve really only tested the pill on maybe 60 women for more than say, six months or a year, Pincus goes to a conference and declares victory. He declares that we’ve invented the pill. The media picks up on this and it becomes this huge story. … Thousands of women are writing to their doctors and writing directly to [Pincus and Rock] saying, “I’ve heard about this pill and I need it, I need it now!” … There was this huge outpouring and it had a huge effect on Pincus and on the other scientist working on this because they began to see there was an enormous demand for this and they began to see they had to push harder, they had to go fast. When you go fast in science, you’re taking great risks. …

It’s one of the great bluffs in scientific history. [Pincus] knows that he has the science. He’s not sure that it’s really ready; he hasn’t tested it on nearly enough women. His partner John Rock is saying, “Don’t you dare announce that we’re ready to do this yet. If you do, I’m out.” He’s furious with Pincus. But Pincus does it anyway. He realizes that they’ve got some momentum and they need to keep it going, this whole thing could fall apart if too much opposition is raised.

On manufacturing the pill

As a result of all of the publicity, the G.D. Searle pharmaceutical company agreed to manufacture the pill and to apply to the FDA for approval, but Pincus and Searle come up with yet another sneaky but brilliant idea. They decide, “We’re not going to ask the FDA to approve it as birth control because that will raise a whole bunch of other issues. … Let’s just ask them to approve it for menstrual disorders.” … Almost any woman can go into her doctor and say, “I’ve got an irregular cycle. I’d like to have this new pill.” And that’s exactly what happens. The pill has a label on it that says, “Warning: This pill will likely prevent pregnancy.” And it’s the greatest advertisement they could ever have — because this is what women want.

On McCormick realizing her accomplishment

One of the scenes in this book that I love is — Katharine McCormick, who is even older than Sanger, she’s 80 now and the pill is approved, it’s available, and she goes into the drugstore with a prescription from her doctor and asks for it. This 80-year-old woman is going in and asking for a prescription for the birth control pill and obviously she wasn’t planning to use it — she just wanted to be able to buy it. It meant so much to her to know this was available now to women, 60 years too late for her, in many ways, but she had done it and that was an amazing accomplishment.

Red Moon Report

I’d been checking the brilliantly white full moon off and on for a hint of eclipse and gave up at about 4:00.

I was reading at about 5:00 when Alice came downstairs, said the moon was in eclipse !  Because of our backyard trees, we had to go into the east-west street here to get a clear sky view.

Click here for more photos of this eclipse.

Lunar eclipses I’ve seen have blacked out the moon.  This time the black part was red, really red, gradually squeezing out the white.  OK, dirty red.  Wonderful to see.

Why does the moon look red during this lunar eclipse?  Answer


When Jenifer, Susan, two-year-old Ben, and I were returning at night from a long trip a long time ago, we noticed that the moon was being eclipsed.  Each time we stopped on the Ohio Turnpike, we looked up to see a further stage of the process.


As we were looking up this morning, Alice pointed out the major constellations, those pictures people have traditionally made of stars, like the Big Dipper in the Big Bear.  She mentioned the Pleides which I’ve never noticed–looks like a white smudge the size of my thumbnail.  Also called The Seven Sisters, it is a star-cluster 440 light years from earth.

Pleiades large.jpg

Click for  Pleiades in folklore and literature


Bison Arrive Here


As bison roam again, prairie hopes flourish
Yearslong conservation efforts return wild grazers to Illinois
By Ted Gregory | Tribune reporter  Chicago Tribune  10.7.14

   FRANKLIN GROVE, Ill. — The hulking animals that stepped from trailers to corrals here late at night drew a hushed, attentive audience of about 25 people. The reason for the reverence: Wild bison have been reintroduced on the prairies east of the Mississippi River for the first time since the 1830s, says the conservation group coordinating the effort. In a few days, the 20 animals will be released from the corral to gradually roam much of the 3,500-acre Nachusa Grasslands — the key part of an ambitious prairie restoration 95 miles west of Chicago.

ANTHONY SOUFFLE/TRIBUNE PHOTOS Some of the bison from a preserve near Sioux City, Iowa, are reluctant to leave their trailer Friday after their eight-hour journey to the Nachusa Grasslands preserve in Illinois.

  “The word that keeps coming up is surreal,” said Jeff Walk, director of science for the Illinois chapter of The Nature Conservancy, which owns Nachusa and has been readying the land for the bison since the late 1980s. He accompanied the 20 bison on an eight-hour truck trip from Broken Kettle Grasslands preserve near Sioux City, Iowa, to Nachusa on Friday.
   “After all the work that people have put into this,” Walk said, “it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s actually happening.’ ”    The bison relocation is an effort to reunite the species with the most imperiled ecosystem on the planet so both can thrive. Some bison enthusiasts even hope the new, oversized, shaggy residents of Nachusa, the largest restored prairie in Illinois, will spark an environmentally responsible agricultural movement in the state.    “If industry can adopt those practices,” Matt Ruhter, president of the Illinois Indiana Bison Association said of placing bison on prairies, “then you’ll get a lot of new prairies popping up and all the benefits that come along with having prairies.”    Temperatures hovered in the low 40s and clouds darkened the starry skies when the two semitrailers carrying the bison rolled to a stop at 10:17 p.m. Friday.    Wind gusts prompted observers, many of whom were taking video, to bundle themselves in layers, hoods and hats.    The bison kept everyone waiting. Despite being prodded by broomsticks, encouraged by large rattles shaken at them and hooted at by their handlers, many of the animals refused to scoot through the open rear doorway of one trailer, down the enclosed ramp and through the chute to the corral. By 11:30 p.m., the crew assigned to make that entry happen had departed, allowing an estimated 10 animals to exit when they were ready.    Then the crew, Nachusa staff and volunteers gathered in a home across the road from the prairie, sipped beer and celebrated. On the table were plates of bison-shaped cookies and brownies.    Despite the somewhat rocky arrival, Nachusa volunteer Cindy Crosby said the moment was historic.    “This is tallgrass prairie in Illinois and this is the missing piece of the puzzle,” said Crosby, who drove with her husband, Jeff, from Glen Ellyn to view the bison arrival.    “More than 700 species (at Nachusa) but we didn’t have the big piece, and tonight it’s all going to change. Nothing is going to be the same as it was yesterday.”    The animals’ placement at Nachusa is the latest turn in a compelling story that started in 1985. That’s when The Nature Conservancy sought large tracts of grasslands untouched by plows. The organization, considered the largest environmental nonprofit in the U.S., settled on land near Dixon and acquired its first 400 acres in 1986.    The goal was to acquire more land, restore it and pull all of it into a vast prairie in a state that has lost nearly all of its native landscape. While the conservancy added land to Nachusa, volunteers and staff conducted more than 105 prairie restorations.    People worked hundreds of thousands of hours — an estimated 450,000 — at the preserve, including years of harvesting native plant seeds.    Last year’s harvest gathered a record 6,500 pounds of seeds, conservancy spokeswoman Gelasia Croom said.    The conservation organization’s claim that grasslands and prairies are “the world’s most imperiled ecosystem” is based on the group’s calculation that only 5 percent of grasslands are protected globally and remain “greatly threatened” by invasive species, suppression of natural fire and urbanization.    The status of native prairie in Illinois is even grimmer: Nearly 60 percent of the state, about 22 million acres, once was prairie, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports. Over the centuries, farms consumed much of it, leaving only 2,500 acres of prairie in Illinois today, the DNR states.    That’s where bison, emerging from their own dreadful history, are expected to play a key role in saving and expanding the prairie.    Typically referred to as buffalo    — a mix-up traced to the first North American explorers who noted the animals’ resemblance to their genetic buffalo cousins in Asia and Africa — upward of 60 million bison roamed North America when those early explorers arrived, experts say. But sport hunting and mass slaughter dropped that number to fewer than 1,000 by 1906, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.    Aggressive conservation efforts, started in large part by Theodore Roosevelt and zoologist William Temple Hornaday in the early 1900s, have brought the bison population up to 450,000, WCS reports. But fewer than 20,000 roam freely, and the vast majority of bison are domestic livestock.    The beasts that clomped into the specially made corral at Nachusa on Friday night are viewed as prairie saviors, not livestock.    “We want these animals to be as wild as possible,” said Bill Kleiman, Nachusa Grasslands project director. But five of the bison are fitted with GPS tracking devices, and fencing has been erected along the edges of the prairie and the few public roads in Nachusa.    An iconic American animal and the largest mammal in North America, bison stand as tall as 6 feet at the shoulder, weigh up to a ton and can run 35 mph. They also are voracious grazers that prefer grassland, which opens prairies to native flowers and plants, Kleiman and others said. That scenario attracts wider varieties of insects, birds and other animals, helping the biodiversity of prairies.    “Bison were such a significant part of the prairie that whole ecosystems depended on them,” said Brook McDonald, president and CEO of the Conservation Foundation, a nonprofit focused on preserving and restoring natural areas in northeast Illinois. “Without them, those species go too.    “We can go around and do the small prairie restorations,” McDonald added, “but a true native prairie ecosystem has to have bison in it.”    By playing a crucial role in restoring prairies, the bison start a domino effect of environmental and agricultural benefits, conservationists say. Beyond their aesthetic beauty, prairies sequester carbon and replenish the soil — a significant aid to cropland that has been depleted. And in providing additional habitat for native pollinators, restored prairies help productivity for agricultural plants such as pumpkins and apples.    The massive hoofed animals also can withstand harsh Midwest winters. They give birth and, except for needing the occasional batch of nutrients, can find food, Kleiman noted. In other words, bison perform crucial ecological work with minimum care.    The entire Nachusa bison budget totals around $6 million, Kleiman said, including the cost of acquiring the animals and additional land, running the program for several years and funding an endowment.    Short-term plans for the Nachusa bison call for gradually expanding the area the animals can roam and adding about 30 of them to the prairie through next year, Kleiman said. By then, the bison will be able to graze on 1,500 acres.    The long-term vision includes about 100 of the animals grazing throughout an ever-expanding Nachusa, the conservancy’s Walk said. The grasslands also would serve as a source of bison for other prairie/bison restoration efforts throughout the U.S., he added.    Illinois has bison. A total of 688 were recorded here in the last USDA Census of Agriculture in 2012, a number that is about half the population total in 2007. That number covers mostly those animals used in meat production.    The important distinction of the Nachusa bison, conservationists say, is that they have not been interbred with other species, remain genetically diverse and are wild.    Those differences are less significant to Ruhter, of the Illinois Indiana Bison Association, which seeks to develop a “sustainable and responsible” bison production and preservation industry. But he called the reintroduction of wild bison in Illinois “a great thing.”    More bison on prairies probably would lead to more bison ranching to meet intense demand for the high-protein red meat that generally has fewer calories and less fat and cholesterol than beef, Ruhter said.    Demand for bison meat out-paces supply by about 3-to-1, he added.    His organization and the Chicago Zoological Society will host a Brookfield Zoo symposium in November to spread the word on bison benefits. About the same time, Nachusa will open bison viewing to the public.    “I look forward to going out there and checking it out,” said Ruhter, whose family runs a bison ranch south of Champaign. “I hope it goes really well for them.”    Back at Nachusa, human and bison anxiety subsided by sunrise Saturday. Kleiman, who lives in a home at Nachusa and made the round trip to Iowa to fetch the animals, checked on the herd that morning. All were in the corral.    On Sunday afternoon, Kleiman stopped by again and said the bison were eating, hay protruding from their mouths and tails swishing.    “They looked relaxed and comfortable, and I’m relaxed and comfortable now,” said Kleiman, “and that is a good thing.”tgregory@tribpub.com     Twitter @tgregoryreports 

ANTHONY SOUFFLE/TRIBUNE Emily Hohman, of The Nature Conservancy, uses a four-wheeler to herd bison into a trap pasture last month at Broken Kettle Grasslands in Iowa.

At the Broken Kettle Grasslands preserve in Iowa, Emily Hohman tries to coax bison onto a truck to Illinois.

Voracious grazers that prefer grassland, bison open prairies to native flowers and plants, which helps increase the biodiversity of the land.

A sample of bison tail hair is taken for genetic testing Friday, when 20 animals left their Iowa pasture.