Friday, 31 July 2015

News from the TRAMILibrary Novedades en la FOTOTEKA Nouveautés sur la TRAMILothèque

News from the TRAMILibrary
Novedades en la FOTOTEKA
Nouveautés sur la TRAMILothèque
Photos of living plants:
Abelmoschus esculentus, Gerardo Godoy, Yucatán, MéxicoAbelmoschus esculentus, Mathieu Arzoumanian, Dominica
Acalypha alopecuroidea , Rafael Durán, Yucatán, México
Ceiba pentandra
, L. Germosén-Robineau, R.D.
Hyptis verticillata, Edith Palma Flores, Nicaragua
Lippia graveolens
, Rafael Durán, Yucatán, México
Ludwigia octovalvis, Fabiola Areces, Puerto Rico
Piper auritum,
 Rafael Durán, Yucatán, MéxicoSauvagesia erecta, Edith Palma Flores, Nicaragua 

Annona squamosa, Naisa Ruiz Gonzalez, Yucatán, MéxicoCarica papaya, Naisa Ruiz Gonzalez, Yucatán, México
Catharanthus roseus
 , Naisa Ruiz Gonzalez, Yucatán, México

Thin sections / cortes microscopicos:
Chenopodium ambrosioides, Mathieu Arzoumanian, Grenada

Herbarium Vouchers:
Capraria biflora, Mathieu Arzoumanian, Dominica 

1908: Yankee Stone, the Champion Bulldog Murdered in Fort Greene, Brooklyn via @HatchingCatNYC

The Recipes Project: Nicander’s snake repellant recipe. Part 2: pastoral horror and rustic remedies

Today we return to Nicander’s snake repellant recipe, this time with a new focus: the dramatic setting where calm countryside hides a range of dangers, and the protagonist whose life is so full of bloodthirsty snakes that he resorts to covering himself in rose-scented snake goop.
Additionally, the rose oil of antiquity was made with a quantity of salt, which would have acted as a preservative. Source: Wikipedia
Additionally, the rose oil of antiquity was made with a quantity of salt, which would have acted as a preservative. Source: Wikipedia
There is something very odd about the world Nicander is showing us: the poetry’s style, vocabulary, and allusions to mythology are the product of elite, urban culture under Pergamene court sponsorship (see here for more on King Attalus, who was Nicander’s patron). And yet, the poet seems to be writing advice for an audience that goes on frequent walks through snake-infested paths, sleeps in snake-infested places, and threshes their own wheat frequently enough to need large batches of snake repellant. Granted, it is plausible that ancient elites could have been concerned about snake encounters while travelling, or when spending nights at rustic estates. However, the sort of person who would be looking up snake lore in Nicander’s poetry would not be doing so on his threshing break!
This is where genre comes into play: Nicander is writing a kind of poetry in which rustic protagonists in rural settings are expected. In antiquity, didactic poems concerning nature were usually written as if meant to help outdoorsy farmers, no matter how urbane the actual author and audience. But Nicander’s world comes with a key difference – a clever subversion of pastoral fantasy: Nicander’s narrator is leading us not through an orderly rustic landscape, but through a snake-infested scorpion-encrusted tour of horrors.
A rose as illustrated in the Anicia Dioscorides, a 6th century copy of an ancient pharmacy manual. Source:
A rose as illustrated in the Anicia Dioscorides, a 6th century copy of an ancient pharmacy manual.
This is where the non-snake ingredients of the recipe — the deer, wax, and rose oil — come into play. First, the roses. Theophrastus, a philosopher and botanist predating Nicander, mentions that rose oil is so useful for covering up other smells that perfume merchants on the point of losing a sale would overpower their customers’ ability to smell properly by wafting rose oil at them.[1] One can imagine that the end product of a snake-and-deer soup could benefit from the odor masking properties of rose oil! Additionally, the rose oil of antiquity was made with a quantity of salt, which would have acted as a preservative. [2] The presence of salt also accounts for the puzzling “Finely ground” grade mentioned in the recipe.
Deer marrow is also an apt addition. While not a rare species, deer are a rural creature available primarily to country folk and those in cities wealthy enough to buy game meat. Even then, getting fresh deer marrow (as Nicander specifies) would give an urban druggist difficulty.[3] Deer antler was regularly used in smoke-screens against snakes, and Dioscorides, an author of the first century CE, maintains that the marrow also can drive off wild beasts. So here too an ingredient that is in keeping with the pharmacy of the ancient world also adds a thematic touch of rustic flavor to the poem’s setting.
Nicander’s wax is almost an afterthought, a common ingredient likely added for consistency’s sake. Beeswax, then as now, could make a runny mixture (like snake-deer-rose stew) into a more workable topical lotion.
So what should we make of Nicander’s recipe?  This sort of poetry was the ‘infotainment’ of its day. He entertains and educates by making connections to stories and images that are familiar to his audience, much the same way that Neil DeGrasse Tyson uses stories, myths, and animation technology in his Cosmos series. Although not himself a scholar of toxicology, Nicander worked from texts written by the experts of his time, and natural philosophers of subsequent generations treated the Theriaca as a reliable source.[4]
As for the recipe itself, there is no way to know whether anyone actually wandered the ancient Mediterranean countryside looking for mating snakes to toss into their next batch of snake repellant, but Nicander gives clear directions that include the elements one expects from less literary recipes. There are probably traces of actual folk practice inspiring the passage, but it’s nearly impossible to say which elements those are.
Nor should one try to divorce the elements of Nicander’s recipe from each other; on the contrary, there is therapeutic value in reading a finely crafted recipe, even if you never whip up your own batch. Everything about this passage is tailor-made to grasp an elite audience’s attention, first by creating a sense of urgent horror as a familiar setting devolves into a poisonous nightmare, then provide comfort in the form of human knowledge and power.
The recipe itself is therapy via fantasy for human beings who have had it with all these snakes on their plains.
[2] Theophrastus De Odoribus 8.
[4] Scarborough discusses the full range of sources in “Nicander’s Toxicology UNIFOR report says Stephen Harper's economic performance is a bust!

Shhhhhh! Don't tell anyone: As PM, Stephen Harper's economic performance is a bust!

| July 31, 2015One of the most effective ways to keep a population quiet and obedient is to deprive it of information.
As a result, it should be reasonably safe for me to just report on the study released yesterday by two Unifor economists, Jim Stanford and Jordan Brennan, straight up as if I were a mainstream media stenographer rewriting a corporate press release.
That's because the comprehensive review of the performance of the governments of Canada's nine prime ministers who lasted longer than year since the end of the Second World War shows that Stephen Harper's Conservative government is an absolute bust, a flop, a dismal failure … (Thought you said you were going to report this straight up -- Ed.)
"Canada's economy has never performed worse, since the end of World War II, than under the present Conservative government," the two economists say in Unifor's press release, which by yesterday evening appeared to have been covered by no one in the mainstream media. (By the wee hours of this morning, Toronto time, a reference to the report seemed to have shown up only on a publication called Canadian Labour Reporter, plus in a post on Rabble by Stanford himself. The Globe and Mail? The Toronto Star? The National Post? The Canadian Press? Nada.)
Well, maybe they'll write something today. So let's give the professional journos their due -- they're busy writing up their advancers about Harper's transparent effort to game the system, the early-early election call many pundits are predicting will come on Sunday. Why would citizens need to know anything about the country's actual economic performance on the eve of an election when the government's misleading claims about the economy will dominate the debate?
"The Harper government ranks last among the nine post-war governments, and by a wide margin -- falling well behind the second worst government, which was the Mulroney government of 1984-93," the economists said.
Brian Mulroney. Remember him? The prime minister so bad he effectively reduced the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to two seats and thereby paved the way for the reverse hostile takeover of Canada's conservative political movement by the Republicanized Reform Party led by neoliberal ideologue Preston Manning.
The report by Drs. Stanford and Brennan also shows that the excuses trotted out by Harper's government to back up its claim Canada's economy is "the envy of the entire world" are completely at odds with the facts.
For example, you can't blame the 2008-09 recession, as Harper's supporters like to do, at least if you go by what other prime ministers have had to face since 1946. There have been 10 recessions in that time frame, and "the recovery from the 2008-09 downturn has been the weakest of any recovery since 1946."
The researchers looked at 16 indicators of economic performance, grouped into three broad themes: work, production, and distribution and debt. The list includes measures traditionally emphasized by business types and other traditionally emphasized by social activists. Combined, they argue, the 16 indicators are a fair representation of the most common economic concerns and priorities of Canadians across the political spectrum.
In 13 of the 16 indicators, the researchers found, "the Stephen Harper Conservative government ranks last or second last among all postwar prime ministers. And its average ranking across all 16 indicators is by far the worst."
As prime minister, Harper's performance ranked the worst or second worst for job creation, the employment rate, labour force participation, youth employment, job quality, economic growth, living standards, non-residential real business investment, growth in real exports, productivity, personal income (a tie with Jean Chretien), income inequality, and household debt (a tie with Mulroney). He came sixth of nine for unemployment, by the way, so Harper's performance is not exactly stellar even when it's not dead last.
The oft-repeated claim Canada is a world leader also turns out to be bogus. Canada's growth among advanced Western nations is in the bottom half and, the researchers predict, will likely get worse this year.
"This statistical review confirms that it is far-fetched to suggest that Canada's economy has been well managed during the Harper Government's time in office," the report concludes. It has the worst overall economic performance of any government since the end of the Second World War, a superlative record of the sort a country shouldn't want its government to have.
What went wrong? Since 2011, unconstrained at last by minority government status, Stanford and Brennan argue the Harper Government has lost its way, implementing brutal fiscal austerity, emphasizing market-driven trickle-down policies and relying on consumer spending to drive the economy.
When oil prices collapsed, our manufacturing sector had already been hollowed out thanks to years of neglect, and the prime minister's Alberta-centric dream of Canada becoming "an energy superpower" was blown to smithereens.
Back in the day when I was a real reporter, rewriting press releases for money instead of just for fun, we probably would have run a story like this -- albeit deep in the newspaper -- with appropriate commentary from folks who could be depended upon to disagree, like the government itself, other Conservative politicians and maybe a spokesperson from a right-wing think tank or two. One of them could have argued some of the social measures don't belong in the study.
No more. Nowadays, while the drivel pumped out by the press agents at the Fraser Institute is copied and published without a critical word, the analysis of a PhD economist educated at places like Cambridge University and the New School for Social Research is not reported at all if it makes a strong case the government's pre-election propaganda is pure fantasy.
Stanford's and Brennan's study is called "Rhetoric and Reality: Evaluating Canada's Economic Performance Under the Harper Government." But if verifiable facts are published in a vacuum, can they be described as political reality?
Perhaps to get the media's attention they should have published a Top Ten List -- or, in this case, Top Nine, since the researchers excluded two of Canada's 11 prime ministers since 1946, Joe Clark and Kim Campbell, seeing as they held that office for less than a year.
Here they are, the Big Nine, based on their economic performance, from best to worst:
1) Lester Pearson
2) Pierre Trudeau
3) Louis St-Laurent
4) Jean Chretien
5) John Diefenbaker
6) William Lyon Mackenzie King
7) Paul Martin
8) Brian Mulroney
9) Stephen Harper
Stephen Harper, dead last, and apparently proud of it. Sheesh!
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog,

Healthy aging diets other than the Mediterranean: A focus on the Okinawan diet

Volumes 136–137, March–April 2014, Pages 148–162
Mediterranean Diet and Inflammaging in the elderly — The European project NU-AGE


Nutrition can alter risk for aging-related diseases rivaling pharmacotherapy in efficacy.
Such eating patterns include the Okinawan, Mediterranean, DASH and Portfolio diets.
These diets have abundant vegetable, legume, and marine functional foods.
The Okinawan diet is especially rich in pharmacologically active phyto- and marine compounds.
Several potential anti-aging compounds modulate insulin signaling and inflammatory pathways.


The traditional diet in Okinawa is anchored by root vegetables (principally sweet potatoes), green and yellow vegetables, soybean-based foods, and medicinal plants. Marine foods, lean meats, fruit, medicinal garnishes and spices, tea, alcohol are also moderately consumed. Many characteristics of the traditional Okinawan diet are shared with other healthy dietary patterns, including the traditional Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, and Portfolio diet. All these dietary patterns are associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, among other age-associated diseases. Overall, the important shared features of these healthy dietary patterns include: high intake of unrefined carbohydrates, moderate protein intake with emphasis on vegetables/legumes, fish, and lean meats as sources, and a healthy fat profile (higher in mono/polyunsaturated fats, lower in saturated fat; rich in omega-3). The healthy fat intake is likely one mechanism for reducing inflammation, optimizing cholesterol, and other risk factors. Additionally, the lower caloric density of plant-rich diets results in lower caloric intake with concomitant high intake of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Other shared features include low glycemic load, less inflammation and oxidative stress, and potential modulation of aging-related biological pathways. This may reduce risk for chronic age-associated diseases and promote healthy aging and longevity.


  • Healthy aging; 
  • Okinawa; 
  • Diet; 
  • Portfolio; 
  • DASH; 
  • Longevity

Corresponding author at: Department of Geriatric Medicine, University of Hawaii, Kuakini Medical Center Campus, HPM-9, 347 N. Kuakini Street, Honolulu, HI 96817, United States. Tel.: +1 808 523 8461; fax: +1 808 528 1897.

The CALLISTO Project: A Summary


The CALLISTO Project: A Summary

  Open Access


The European Union (EU) Framework 7-funded project entitled CALLISTO (Companion Animal multisectoriaL interprofessionaL and interdisciplinary Strategic Think tank On zoonoses) ran between 2012 and 2014 and investigated zoonotic infectious diseases transmitted between companion animals and man and food producing animals. There are large numbers of companion animals throughout Europe and these animals, of varied species, play an integral role in human society, providing very real human health and welfare benefits. There is, however, some risk that close human contact with companion animals may lead to the transmission of zoonotic infectious diseases of numerous different types. Companion animals may also be a source of some infections transmitted to farmed livestock. This risk must be communicated to the pet owning public in a balanced fashion by veterinary and human healthcare professionals, the pet industry and governments. The risk may be somewhat ameliorated if the owners of companion animals subscribe to the principles of responsible pet ownership. Nevertheless, there are further policy and research actions that could be implemented by the EU and/or national governments to further reduce the risks associated with the close integration of companion animals into human society. These include the development of systems for identifying and registering the most common companion animal species and establishing surveillance programmes that capture data on zoonoses that occur in these animals. Closer attention should be paid to the health status of animals entering or re-entering the EU from third countries and the welfare surrounding companion animal cross-border movement. Data collection and pathogen assessment in the less studied exotic companion animals being kept is also needed to better understand risks. Disease and disease vector spread within Europe should be monitored and solutions found to limit such spread. The emergence of antimicrobial resistance in companion animals should be monitored. Controls should be placed on the use of human critically important antibiotics in companion animal species, but new approaches to companion animal antimicrobial therapy must be developed in parallel.


  • companion animal; 
  • European Union; 
  • zoonosis


This supplementary issue of the Journal of Comparative Pathology presents the major outcomes from the European Union (EU) Framework 7-funded project entitled CALLISTO (Companion Animal multisectoriaL interprofessionaL and interdisciplinary Strategic Think tank On zoonoses), which investigated zoonotic infectious diseases transmitted between companion animals and man and food producing animals.
The work of the CALLISTO consortium involved seven Expert Advisory Groups (EAGs) working within five project work packages over three cycles of one year each (2012–2014). The stated objectives of the CALLISTO Project, and the cycles during which they were addressed, were:
To develop a detailed overview of the role of companion animals as a source of infectious diseases for man and food animals, including available information on disease incidence and geographical distribution in these host categories (cycle 1).
To identify knowledge and technology gaps in the management of the most important zoonoses transmitted by companion animals (cycle 2).
To propose targeted actions that contribute to reducing the risk for infectious disease outbreaks in man and food animals associated with keeping companion animals (cycle 3).
To disseminate the results of CALLISTO to relevant stakeholders to contribute to the uptake of the CALLISTO-proposed actions and to promote risk awareness in healthy and balanced human/animal relationships (cycles 1–3).
The detailed final reports from each cycle may be found on the CALLISTO website ( The purpose of this Editorial is to overview the findings and recommendations from the CALLISTO project. More detailed reviews of the findings are presented in the manuscripts that comprise this Supplement issue to the Journal.