Carnivalia and an open thread

The Tangled Bank

The next edition of the Tangled Bank will be at Fish Feet on Wednesday, 15 August. Send those links in to me or host@tangledbank.net.

Until Wednesday, you'll need to make do with these other carnivals, or engage in undirected and unspecified web-based social intercourse in the comment thread below.

More like this

Good reading on a snowy day! Philosophia Naturalis #15 I and the Bird #63 Grand Rounds 4.10 Humanist Symposium #11 Friday Ark #167 The next edition of the Tangled Bank will be on Wednesday, 5 December, at Life Before Death. Send you links to me or host@tangledbank.net by Tuesday!
Carnivals! We're hawking Carnivals! Carnival of Mathematics XI Friday Ark #145 I and the Bird #52 The next Tangled Bank will be held on Wednesday, the 4th of July, at Aardvarchaeology. Send those patriotic, all-American links in to the Swedish guy, to me, or to host@tangledbank.net. Beyond…
Carnivals! Carnival of Education #156 A belated Carnival of the Liberals #57 Carnival of the Liberals #58 Grand Rounds Friday Ark #178 The Boneyard #13 Oekologie #14 A Tangled Bank announcement! The next Tangled Bank will be at Greg Laden's place, so send those links in to me or host…
It's Friday! I have no classes today, so this is the day where I desperately struggle to catch up with the backlog; it also happens to be the day we're hosting a party at our house (you're invited: 5:30, my place, across the street from the university; everyone who is anyone will be there). If you…

Hey, an open thread!

Anyone read the SF author, Alastair Reynolds? Just got finished on his Revelation Space series. The last book 'Redemption Ark' has a pretty vivid account of religious fanaticism, with the members of the cult all being injected with an 'indoctrinal virus'.

Recommended.

By Christian Burnham (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

A mystery came up today and I am having trouble solving it and thought that this open thread might be a good place to ask questions. I just came across a copy of my great-grandfather's death certificate. He apparently died of lobar pneumonia (which he had for six days) with the secondary cause of death being a one day bout with pulmonary "oedema". He was 41 years, 11 months, and 8 days old. This all points to Spanish Flu except the date is a couple months too early, he died on Jan. 8, 1918. I have seen all sorts of dates though, ranging from possible cases of a less virulent form in NYC in February 1918 (he lived in about 75 miles away from the city) to the big outbreak in June. Would anyone here happen to know of any good resources on Spanish Flu or if anyone is doing historical research on this and may have something on a web site? I have found some journal articles but the local college is closed for summer break so I can't go to the library and look at them.
I'm just wondering if it would be out of line to consider that it is probable that he died of this. I thought that because this happened before the pandemic the doctors weren't aware of what they had until caca hit the fan and I did see that there was a milder form. Arg, you would think that one of the most pivotal events of the 20th century would have more information published about it and that people would at least *know* that it happened! :^(

[b]What are the best secular charities?[/b]

This is a question that has been niggling on my mind for a bit. I'm not crazy about ACLU's current management. Americans United seems promising. But really, there ought to be more easily available research on various secular and civil liberties organizations, and how much tangible good they do.

Seen today on the back of a pickup truck: a fish symbol with a US flag motif -- appearance of being cut from a flag with hollow middle like he classic fish. Sigh.

How about a Darwin fish waving a little flag?

http://tinyurl.com/3b9umr

Southwestern Baptist, one of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, is introducing a new academic program in homemaking as part of an effort to establish what its president calls biblical family and gender roles.

I just have to vent a tiny bit...

UUGGH! I'm trying to slog my way through the bible (KJV). I started this afternoon, and with the help of a few bloody marys and a few beers, I have made it to Gen. 18. What a slog! It makes no real sense. The begats are the only thing that are fairly reasonable, though the question of with whom they begat is never answered. And it becomes abundantly clear that if only A'-dam had eaten of the tree of life, we'd be full gods anyway. Apparently the only difference is the death thing. That's why the gods (and there are more than one, unless he uses the royal "we") kicked us out. To preserve the monopoly, as it were.

Anyway, I had to vent, just a bit.
(I'm reading it b/c I figure there are a lot of people that put a lot of stock in that thing, so I should at least be familiar with it. I don't know how far I'll make it, but I'll give it a shot.)

MikeG, the Bible is DEAD BORING. Good luck. (Also, it's a bunch of nonsense.) (And the ending is stoo-pid!) The King James version has a few nice poetic &/or humorous parts. The Book of Jonah is better in the Jerusalem Bible version, imho, IF you imagine it as written by Woody Allen. (A long tradition of Jewish humor there.) The tacked-on intro/ending frame of Job is pretty magnificent if you can get in the right head. Some of the Psalms and such are pretty, but weird.

Try the Rgveda some time. Weird-ass Agni liturgy! Woo-hoo!!

Hey w00t, can't you vary your boobies a little for once? We're (naturally assuming everyone shares my position) getting a little tired of the blue-footed and masked ones... the occasional Nazca or Peruvian booby would do the trick.

Well, OK. Here's some red-footed boobies.

(.)(.)

engage in undirected and unspecified web-based social intercourse in the comment thread below.

Hey, sounds like we're getting closer to the orgies I was promised when I signed up for this atheism thing!

I have to confess I'm not that into boobies. Let's see some cocks for a change. Or a nice ass.

You know what I hate? I hate it when I find a really nice Amanita with distinct morphology that I still can't pin down to the species. North American amanitas are so poorly characterized. Somebody really needs to fix that.

This one stains brown like A. brunnescens but has neither annulus nor a chiseled basal bulb. Dammit.

Reminds me of the fact that the Swedish name for the birds of the genus Remizinae could very well be translated into English as "Scrotum tits".

@ Mike O'Risal:
Do you have a copy of David Aurora's "Mushrooms Demystified"?
Another question - why diddle with Amanitacea? I've found many Agaricus species growing wild in city environments; they're relatively easy to identify and not dangerous to eat (unlike most Amanita species).
I do know where you are coming from regarding your question. Information on higher fungi IS difficult to find out there, especially specifics on charaterization.
Interesting life-form, though, isn't it? My 2c.

By jeffox backtrollin' (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

forsen:

That would have been real funny if not "pendulum tits" turns up when googling Remizinae.

Btw, taxonomy rears its ugly head. Google and Wikipedia prefer Remizidae, while the subfamily Remizinae seems to be more a modern labeling. Tits as tits, I say.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

Anyone ever hear of the "Deadly Galerina", Galerina autumnalis?
Its description in this Audubon guide positively horrifies me, in that it's described as an "ordinary-looking" mushroom...

More good news on the science front.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6577009.stm

"The discovery of a vast fossil forest hundreds of metres underground has provided an extraordinary picture of some of Earth's earliest plants.

The exquisitely preserved remains were unearthed in a US coalmine in Illinois, and date back to 300 million years ago.

Writing in the journal Geology, a UK-US team said a diverse array of now extinct fossilised flora could be seen.

Covering a 1,000-hectare (10 sq km) site, it represents the largest fossil rainforest yet discovered."

Covering a 1,000-hectare (10 sq km) site, it represents the largest fossil rainforest yet discovered.

I presume this indicates something else was previously the largest fossil rainforest yet discovered?

There go the scientists again; changing the story to suit the evidence.

Quoth jeffox backtrollin':

Do you have a copy of David Aurora's "Mushrooms Demystified"?

I do, as well as a few other keys at my disposal. Arora's book is much better for West Coast mushrooms than East, and even there it's rather incomplete out of necessity. It was the very first key book I ever purchased, way back when I was just starting out as an amateur mycologist.

Another question - why diddle with Amanitacea? I've found many Agaricus species growing wild in city environments; they're relatively easy to identify and not dangerous to eat (unlike most Amanita species).

I've eaten three amanita species in my life (A. velosa, A. vaginata, and A. jacksonii), and they were some of the tastiest wilds I've ever had... but the first two I had identified by a professional who has spent 25 years working on genus Amanita and the third is so utterly distinctive where it occurs that it's a safe munch. Nonetheless, my main reason for doing this is purely out of profound fascination with mycological systematics and a desire to learn the local diversity of my new home state (I've been here for just over a month). I don't intend to eat any amanitas I find here unless I can get hold of another expert in the genus.

I do know where you are coming from regarding your question. Information on higher fungi IS difficult to find out there, especially specifics on charaterization. Interesting life-form, though, isn't it? My 2c.

I'd tend to agree they're interesting, but then I'm a bit biased as I'm working on a PhD in mycology. :)

Genus Amanita is one of the most poorly characterized in North America, second only perhaps to Russula. In fact, many of the species that we have here have been arbitrarily named after European amanitas that probably aren't related; they have morphological differences and, more importantly, significant molecular differences as well. Witness the recent classification of the creatively named Amanita N23, which I think was formerly included in the complex termed rubescens... none of which appear to be the same fungi that was originally given that name when classified in Europe! Much of amanita taxonomy is a product of lumping, perhaps with the intent of getting to finer classification someday.

BTW, I posted some pics of my finds from yesterday's foray over at Hyphoid Logic if you'd like to check out both the unidentified amanita and some other Mushrooms from Purgatory as well.

Quoth Stanton:

Anyone ever hear of the "Deadly Galerina", Galerina autumnalis?
Its description in this Audubon guide positively horrifies me, in that it's described as an "ordinary-looking" mushroom...

I have indeed, and I've found specimens of it before. Yesterday, I also ran across another fairly ordinary-looking mushroom called Paxillus atrotomentosus, commonly known as velvet pax. Eating it has been known to cause anaphylactic shock, kidney failure, and profound hemolysis, with death occurring in 2 to 4 days. Nice, huh?

On the other hand, I also found some Omphalotus olearius, which is not only bioluminescent but also provides the raw material for an anti-cancer drug called Irofulven. That drug is currently in use, I believe, in combination with Cisplatin for the treatment of prostate cancer and solid mass tumors. I've got pics and info posted over at my litle blog, Hyphoid Logic.

G. autumnalis can apparently be considered the same species as the European Galerina marginalis. Unless you are in the habit of eating "little brown mushrooms" that grow on dead wood, you don't need to worry. But Kuehneromyces mutabilis is worth it. Is there a similar Kuehneromyces species in N America?

Yesterday, I also ran across another fairly ordinary-looking mushroom called Paxillus atrotomentosus, commonly known as velvet pax. Eating it has been known to cause anaphylactic shock, kidney failure, and profound hemolysis, with death occurring in 2 to 4 days. Nice, huh?

That one? Finnish mushroom guides say something like "edible, but not recommended, tastes bitter even after boiling". So many must have eaten it and lived to tell the tale :)

Nowadays the velvet-foot is even less recommended, though, because of its close relationship with the nasty Paxillus involutus. This mushroom too was previously considered edible, but now it is known that the poison accumulates in the body and can suddenly cause fatal hemolytic anemia "years after consumption"!

You write at your blog that you don't know of mushrooms worth collecting that could be confused with Paxillus, but I've heard of mixups with the Ugly Milkcap Lactarius turpis. That is an elementary mistake naturally, since the former doesn't have "milk". Old school mushroom enthusiasts around here usually prefer milkcaps (after boiling). Recently the Ugly Milkcap has lost favor after it was shown to cause mutagenesis in bacteria, but since it has been eaten in my family for generations, I must be a mutant already :)

Said windy,

You write at your blog that you don't know of mushrooms worth collecting that could be confused with Paxillus, but I've heard of mixups with the Ugly Milkcap Lactarius turpis.

Good point; I don't know if we have L. turpis in the US, but now that you bring up Lactarius, I could see velvet pax being confused with either L. volemus or L. hygrophoroides by someone who didn't know enough to check the latex (and some Lactarius species are themselves mildly toxic and can be identified by latex color and reaction with air). I love the idea of a mutagenic mushroom. Sounds like a good plot for an X-Men comic!

As far as Paxillus in Finland, conditions do affect the toxicity of other poisonous mushrooms, so I'd imagine that holds true for this genus as well. Also, boiling may be key; I know that some people here eat Macrocybe and Helvella, both of which contain water-soluble toxins that can be removed by boiling, discarding the water, and boiling again. Maybe a combination of the two helps keep Finnish mushroom-eaters alive! One of the first slogans I learned about eating wild mushrooms came from a professor at UC Berkeley, and goes: There are old mycophagists / and there are bold mycophagists / but there are no old, bold mycophagists. Considering the damage that P. atrotomentosus can do, I would advise anyone who'd consider eating it or anything that even looks like it to keep the worst-case scenario in mind and consider whether it's worth the risk if they're not well-taught and experienced. There are too many chanterelles in the world to risk painful death for the sake of what may or may not be a fuzzy brown-to-tan milky cap!

@Mike O'Risal
I agree with you 100% on Aurora's west-coast orientation.
Thank you for opening this mycological thread. I found it fun and informative. Also thanks for the blog-link, I'll be checking it out shortly.

By jeffox backtrollin' (not verified) on 12 Aug 2007 #permalink

Also, boiling may be key; I know that some people here eat Macrocybe and Helvella, both of which contain water-soluble toxins that can be removed by boiling, discarding the water, and boiling again.

Are Gyromitra included in those Helvella nowadays? I've had Gyromitra esculenta, which is deadly when raw, but nevertheless very sought after in Europe. The taste is not that impressive after parboiling it twice as recommended. IMO, their reputation must be based mostly on the excitement of it, like eating fugu :)

As part of slipping back into the dark ages (ie as some of the religious nutters want) there seems to be a return to the days when there wasn't a standardised form of English and anyone wrote any old rubbish in any old way*. The anti-intellectuals are already "winning" in UK schools.

* NB that expression is something of a contradiction because the point of it is generally to emphasise that there never was such an accepted way before.

At the on-line site, The Guardian has a blog now going, The Bible's literary sins:

Whether its central character exists or not is beside the point - the Christian scriptures are a barely readable mess.
...
The literary quality of the Bible is an issue that I think is worth addressing. Firstly, there's the simple point that if the Bible really were the word of God, you'd think that He would be able to make it more interesting. Secondly, there's a war being waged against reason at the moment and it's gone time that reason started landing a few punches of its own. Why not freely state the obvious, but hitherto rarely mentioned, truth? The Good Book is not, as is so often suggested, a damn good read. It's crap. If the two Testaments tell the greatest story ever told, I am a monkey (and not just the distant descendant of one).

This has, predictably, brought out a wild and wacky collection of fruitcakes, reasoned comments, and so on.

Windy said:

Are Gyromitra included in those Helvella nowadays?

Gyromitra and Helvella are still considered separate genera, but they're closely related and both are dominated by species that produce MMH, a chemical that is sometimes used in rocket fuel.

I've had Gyromitra esculenta, which is deadly when raw, but nevertheless very sought after in Europe. The taste is not that impressive after parboiling it twice as recommended. IMO, their reputation must be based mostly on the excitement of it, like eating fugu :)

I've had Helvella lacunosa prepared the same way, and I agree it's flavorless stuff. I frequently found the stuff on forays in California where it was widely known as "dog poop on a stick" amongst amateur mycologists. I wouldn't bother eating it again and can't see why anyone would have enthusiasm for the stuff. One might as well eat boiled paper.

Stanton asks:

Has anyone tried Jew's Ear fungus?

I think you're referring to Auricularia auricula, which is more commonly known as "tree ear." I've had it, and probably anyone whose eaten Chinese food has, too, whether or not they knew it. It's a common ingredient therein.

I just like that name for it... I find it quaint, and amusing.
Has anyone tried Chinese Cordyceps, or "vegetable caterpillar"?

Well, OK. Here's some red-footed boobies.

(.)(.)

forsen:

That would have been real funny if not "pendulum tits" turns up when googling Remizinae.

Btw, taxonomy rears its ugly head. Google and Wikipedia prefer Remizidae, while the subfamily Remizinae seems to be more a modern labeling. Tits as tits, I say.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink