Friday, 16 September 2011

09:01 – Not all politicians are liars, or at least not all the time. Occasionally, they accidentally tell the truth. For example, here’s my favorite quote from a politician: “Typhoid fever is a terrible disease. Either you die from it or you become an idiot. And I know what I’m talking about, I had it.” (Hint: No, it wasn’t Dan Quayle, although admittedly he did accidentally tell the truth more often than most politicians. Other than perhaps our current vice president.)

I remember some advice my mother gave me when I was a little fellow, back during the 1960 presidential campaign. Never, she said, believe anything good any politician says about himself or his own party; always believe anything bad a politician says about an opponent or opposing party. Which, I think, sums things up pretty well for the ages.

It’s still summer for a few more days, but autumn weather has already arrived in Winston-Salem. Yesterday, the high was in the upper 80’s (~ 30C). Today, the high is to be in the mid-50’s (lower teens C). There’s also a stiff breeze, which makes things feel considerably colder. I just took Colin for a short walk, and it was chilly enough that I wore my hoodie.

Speaking of autumn, I remembered to grab a specimen of the Acer rubrum (red maple) leaves from one of our trees, while the leaves are still green. I’ll do paper and/or thin-layer chromatography of an alcoholic extract of these leaves, along with other leaves I gather just as the leaves begin to change color and still other leaves I gather once the colors are fully developed. The chromatograms of A. rubrum leaves should illustrate that the intense green of chlorophyll conceals the yellow/orange color of carotenoid pigments that are present in leaves throughout the year, along with the presence of red/violet anthocyanin pigments, which develop only in late summer and early autumn as the leaves begin to change.

Right now, I’m writing up a lab session about plant population surveys. I’m using the front yard of the house across the street, which has been vacant for a couple of months. Species diversity is quite high for a residential yard. Although it’s not a plant, I found this spectacular fungi yesterday.

The cap is about 10 cm in diameter. It’s Amanita sp., but, not being a mycologist, I’m not certain which species. Whatever it was, it had disappeared this morning when I took Colin for his first walk.

15:45 – Oh, my. The troika have decided to withhold the next €8 billion tranche of the Greek bailout, which means Greece can’t receive any more funding until at least next month. For Greece, the rational decision is now to declare bankruptcy–possibly as early as today–and default on all of its sovereign and bank debt, whether euro-denominated or otherwise. Even if Greece fails to declare immediately, I’d expect a serious bank run, which should have the same effect on Greece’s banks. Greece may be faced with no immediate choice but to declare bankruptcy, default on all of its debts, and begin re-issuing the drachma, which will of course be worthless outside of Greece.

All of our Border Collies have had odd personality quirks. Kerry, for example was terrified of ceiling fans and AA cells. Not C cells or 9V batteries, you understand, nor even AAA cells. Just AA cells. Now Colin is exhibiting a quirk of his own. He dislikes my laser printers. When one of them fires up to print a page, he runs over and growls at it. When I remove the paper tray to refill it, he attacks the paper tray viciously. Very strange.