Thursday, February 12, 2004


The Mars rovers pictures are astounding. Remember, this isn't a picture of a dried-up mud puddle in Jersey -- it's Mars! And between you and me the thing that would seem to best explain the uniformly distributed, nearly circular nodules, as well as the layered rocks in the upper left, is the evaporation of marshy (not flowing) water. They are going to have one of the rovers spin its wheels to build a shallow trench. I bet they find a lobster in there.

Another astounding thing is my wife's ability to tolerate that I have begun cracking my knuckles again, full scale. Just like the bad old days. I was really proud when I stopped in 1997, because it is a gross habit. But I am back in the habit now. Snap, snap, snap. And she hasn't complained once. Though my baby daughter did once look at me with alarm when she heard it. My wife even tolerates that I have resumed doing it on a totally unsupported, whimsical, wacko possibility that somehow the cessation of knuckle cracking (in my case) could have had a bearing on the ALS situation.

As I was digging up dandelions I mused that people have been attacking dandelions for decades if not centuries. Now, dandelions exist in the wild, where no one attempts to dig them up. Animals eat them. Even some people use them in salads. I think these people are French. Anyway, I wondered if the relentless (OK, judging by some of my neighbors, not so relentless) pressure on the weeds have led to any selective effects. That is, favoring dandelions which seed more suddenly, or which are herbicide resistant, or what. (I fight them with a trowel, not chemicals). I suppose this could be investigated by sampling the DNA of wild dandelions (in nature reserves and other places which are not plowed or gardened), and comparing it to dandelions sampled from suburban lawns. I am betting there would be some interesting differences.

Heaven forfend one of the rovers snaps a picture of a dandelion on Mars. Then I would snap.

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