Joel at Pax Nortona has been blogging from the center of the inferno in southern California, with the kind of ecological and geographical astuteness that you won’t find in mainstream media coverage. Joel’s coverage began with ominous forebodings last Sunday. By the next day, he described a party-like atmosphere as neighbors gathered to watch the fire close in.
Clearly visible to us in the park was the big screen television of one of the houses perched on the hillside overlooking the Serrano Creek drainage of Whiting Ranch Wilderness. One fellow pointed his binoculars at the living room. “He’s watching football,” he announced.
The lack of information leads to speculation. We know that the fire was started by arsonists, but who? “Towelheads,” said one man with a white cairn terrier. “Yeah, must have been towelheads,” said another. “I’d bet it was.” My thinking is that if it was Al Qaeda, they would have claimed responsibility for it by now.
This week’s Science Times has a number of articles on new research into sleep and dreaming. The most interesting, I thought, was by Carl Zimmer: “In Study of Human Patterns, Scientists Look to Bird Brains.”
Bird sleep is so mysterious that scientists are considering several answers, all intriguing. The godwit may have managed to stay awake for the entire journey. Or it may have been able to sleep while flying. Or, as Dr. Benca and other scientists suspect, its brain may have been in a bizarre state of semilimbo that they do not understand.
And the Times‘ other outstanding science writer, Natalie Angier, contributed “In the Dreamscape of Nightmares, Clues to Why We Dream at All.”
Cultural specifics can also tweak universal themes. Dr. Bulkeley and his colleagues have found that nightmares about falling through the air are common among women in Arab nations, perhaps for metaphorical reasons. “There’s such a premium in these countries on women remaining chaste, and the dangers of becoming a â€˜fallen woman’ are so intense,” he said, “that the naturally high baseline of falling dreams is amped up even more.”
“Bad dreams are functional, nightmares dysfunctional,” he said.
If you feel yourself falling, spread your arms out and learn how to fly.