Surferbird News-links, 65th Edition, Happy Halloween!

Crows, by Firkin,, from a public domain image on Wikimedia Commons by Arthur Rackham

Crows, by Firkin,, from a public domain image on Wikimedia Commons by Arthur Rackham

Today's spooky edition of Surferbird News-links includes: stories and facts about crows and bones; a link to an interview with Scott Pruitt; dicamba, the weed killing ghoul; health effects of climate change; fear and personal development and a Halloween earworm.

Happy Halloween! I got a bee in my bonnet, or rather, a crow in my hat, and decided to post a Halloween edition of Surferbird News-links. If you search the internet for "crow in my hat" you won't find it; believe me, I tried. It's a Lauraism. And I can do that because it's Halloween. And it's my blog.

I'm also experimenting with the format to see if I can hold myself to less chatter and less discussion about the links because I want to post these more often. Let's see how I manage.


All decked out—Halloween images from around the world, (

These images take on a whole new dimension after reading the article on skeletons, below. But in addition to that, they'll also put you in the Halloween spirit. That's a really bad joke, and I'm afraid this edition of Surferbird News-links is full of them!

climate change

A terrifying interview with Scott Pruitt, (

This is more terrifying than any horror movie. Burning fossil fuels is Scott Pruitt's definition of environmentalism— poisoning our oceans with mercury, polluting our air with hydrocarbons and building pipelines that traverse miles. Pipelines leak, you know. And don't even get me started on the greenhouse gases. The idea that we're being good stewards of what God has provided, as he suggests in the interview, scares the #%$@ out of me. And that's the first time I've tried to use a bad word on this blog, and I couldn't do it. But more importantly, you need to read this creepy interview because it's a freaking good scare!  

food and farming

another pesticide is approved by the EPA, (

As if permitting the use of chlorpyrifos wasn't enough, the EPA recently approved dicamba for use as a weedkiller. These are both wicked pesticides. I'd take a skeleton any day over these two ghouls! But all kidding aside, the EPA is going against its own data by allowing the use of these chemicals. One of the primary concerns with dicamba, however, is that it has drifted from dicamba-resistant crops to nearby farms that aren't protected, causing a lot of damage.

Also, the Environmental Working Group (the source, above) cites numerous studies that link dicamba to increased risks for lung cancer, nervous system damage and thyroid carcinomas. Although the article contains additional details, one important fact you might want to know is this: When body weight is factored in, children from 1–2 years old are exposed to dicamba more than any other group. Frightening, indeed. (This information was edited November 2, 2017, for clarity.)


Scientists have linked climate change to diseases and other health concerns, (

I didn't know that higher temperatures could decrease a mosquito's lifespan. I thought the opposite was true. This misconception illustrates how difficult it is to correlate increases in health-related diseases with climate change. But even so, scientists have recently connected the dots between an increase in mosquito-borne diseases and health-related diseases due to more heat waves and weather-related disasters to climate change. And some groups are beginning to take action.

Science and nature

fascinating stories and facts about crows, (

Crows don't deserve their bad reputation. They're really smart. In fact, crows have large brains for their body size. But my favorite part of this piece is about a crow rewarding a little girl with small gifts. One of the gifts is a heart. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to spoil it for you. You'll have to read the article to get the whole story. I'm practicing restraint.

cultivating an emotional attachment to bones, (

To me, skeletons are creepy. What kinds of feelings do they evoke for you? Yet, I can't think of a better time to contemplate bones than Halloween. After reading this piece, though, my perspective has changed. For example, many cultures think they represent more than physical remnants of the dead. They also provide a means of communicating with them. But through imagination, even non-religious people can use skeletal images to bring people back to life, metaphorically speaking, and to wrestle with their own mortality. Take a look at this excellent piece at the Atlantic for more thoughts on bones. 


authentic fear helps us grow, (

What are you afraid of this Halloween? Whatever it is, it's probably not important. But real fear plays a role in helping us overcome our weaknesses. Learn about the different kinds of fears—the ones to avoid and the ones to be thankful for—in this essay by Arthur C. Brooks at the Atlantic. 


Who doesn't remember watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"? The music is to die for. Happy Halloween!  Laura