Thursday, June 16, 2011

Media roundup: Jellyfish explained, $0.19 an hour, and vetoes for farmworkers

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 12:20 PM

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In an effort to show you that we do in fact read, and also to remind you that Bloggytown has not been completely swallowed by the Food Not Bombs fracas, we want to take this opportunity to point you to a few non-Weekly articles that relate to our own published and personal interests. Training for what? - If you were intrigued by last week’s cover story on the controversy surrounding sheltered workshops—places where the developmentally disabled perform repetitive labor for sub-minimum wages as part of job training programs—you should check out the Columbus Dispatch’s recent series on employment for the disabled, which looks not only at workshops, but transition from high school to the workplace. Besides the supplementary video clips, a highlight of the coverage is a comprehensive map of the state of Ohio, showing the average wage for sub-minimum wage earners in each county. The lowest is $0.19 per hour. The human toll of pesticides - The Atlantic points out that among Rick Scott’s $615 million in budget vetoes this year was $500,000 destined for the Apopka Family Health Center to treat farmworkers suffering from various health ailments due to long-term exposure to pesticides. The whole sordid history of Apopka's pesticide problem is laid out by Christopher Balogh in our June 2 cover story on the plight of Apopka’s former farmworkers. Though the problem has been discussed for years by media and government alike, little action has been taken, spurring farmworker advocates to put the Farmworker Memorial Quilt on display at the Audubon Park Community Market throughout the month of May to bring renewed attention to the issue. More than plasma and poison – Those of you who were at the beach for Memorial Day recall the torrent of jellyfish that made that extra day off of work just slightly less perfect (or, for you sadists, more perfect). The New York Times deftly published an article on the wonders of the jellyfish just after the prehistoric creature made headlines in Florida, and for anyone with even a marginal interest in science and nature, the article is worth a read. Some excerpts below:

...A diverse group of thousands of species of gooey, saclike invertebrates found throughout the world, the jellyfish are preposterously ancient, dating back 600 million to 700 million years or longer. That’s roughly twice as old as the earliest bony fish and insects, three times the age of the first dinosaurs.

...“They’re living lava lamps,” said Jack Cover, general curator of the aquarium. And they’re so mesmerizing to visitors that, Mr. Allen said, “the jellies are right up there in popularity next to the dolphins.” Which is a good thing, considering that the infrastructure needed to keep the tender-fleshed sylphs hale and whole can cost millions. “Keeping jellyfish is a fine art,” said Vicky Poole, the exhibit manager. “It’s a little like maintaining phlegm.”

...All jellies are carnivorous, feeding on plankton, crustaceans, fish eggs, small fish and other jellyfish, ingesting and voiding through the same convenient hole in the middle of the bell. Jellies do not actively hunt but instead use their tentacles as drift nets. Should a fish brush against the often invisible extensions, the pressure prompts the tentacles’ stinging cells to release tiny harpoons packed with neurotoxins. In the most venomous jellyfish, the toxins are designed to work quickly and unequivocally, to forfend any damage to the predator’s delicate tissue.


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