I'm very glad to have the time this week to get back to this long-neglected tradition. And being as this is a comeback of sorts, I thought I'd devote it to stories of far more important and heartening comebacks.
My exquisitely sapient friend Hedwig brings the roses to my cheeks with news of an increase in the number of an odd and captivating bird:
According to a recent report, New Zealand's Takahe, Porphyrio hochstetteri, the world's largest flightless rail, has experienced a dramatic increase in numbers. The annual census, carried out by New Zealand's Department of Conservation, covers a core part of the 50,000 hectare Takahe Special Area within Fiordland National Park. The 2005 census showed that Takahe experienced a 13.6% increase in the number of adult birds, with the number of breeding pairs up 7.9%.If we're going to be bringing animals back from the brink of extinction, we may as well reclaim some of their habitat while we're at it. Apropos of which, Time has a fine article on the increasingly popular movement to destroy dams; it includes a photo of the spectacular demolition of Virginia's Embrey Dam, which further incarmined my already hypersanguinated malar dermis (to coin a phrase).
That many good things can happen when dams are removed is well documented. In 1999, for example, when a deconstruction crew took a wrecking ball to the Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River, the results stunned even those who had lobbied for the dam's removal. Important fish species that used to swim from the ocean to spawn upstream--Atlantic salmon, alewives, sturgeon and shad--didn't just come back, marvels Pete Didisheim, advocacy director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, "they surged back." The next year, almost a million alewives were massing in the river. Fish are also rebounding in Virginia's Rappahannock River after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blasted a gaping hole in the Embrey Dam last year.The article reports that 175 dams have been dismantled in the last six years. It's a start!
Last, researchers have made the astonishing discovery that it may well be possible to recover some portion of memory lost to Alzheimer's Disease:
New research shows a mutant protein named tau is poisoning brain cells, and that blocking its production may allow some of those sick neurons to recover. It worked in demented mice who, to the scientists' surprise, fairly rapidly regained memory.