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Blackberry

The blackberry is an edible fruit produced by many species in the genus Rubus in the family Rosaceae, hybrids among these species within the subgenus Rubus, hybrids between the subgenera Rubus and Idaeobatus. The taxonomy of the blackberries has been confused because of hybridization and apomixis, so that species have been grouped together and called species aggregates. For example, the entire subgenus Rubus has been called the Rubus fruticosus aggregate, although the species R. fruticosus is considered a synonym of R. plicatus. What distinguishes the blackberry from its raspberry relatives is whether or not the torus "picks with" the fruit; when picking a blackberry fruit, the torus stays with the fruit. With a raspberry, the torus remains on the plant; the term bramble, a word meaning any impenetrable thicket, has traditionally been applied to the blackberry or its products, though in the United States it applies to all members of the genus Rubus. In the western US, the term caneberry is used to refer to blackberries and raspberries as a group rather than the term bramble.

The black fruit is not a berry in the botanical sense of the word. Botanically it is termed an aggregate fruit, composed of small drupelets, it is a widespread and well-known group of over 375 species, many of which are related apomictic microspecies native throughout Europe, northwestern Africa, temperate western and central Asia and North and South America. Blackberries are perennial plants which bear biennial stems from the perennial root system. In its first year, a new stem, the primocane, grows vigorously to its full length of 3–6 m, arching or trailing along the ground and bearing large palmately compound leaves with five or seven leaflets. In its second year, the cane becomes a floricane and the stem does not grow longer, but the lateral buds break to produce flowering laterals. First- and second-year shoots have numerous short-curved sharp prickles that are erroneously called thorns; these prickles can tear through denim with ease and make the plant difficult to navigate around. Prickle-free cultivars have been developed.

The University of Arkansas has developed primocane fruiting blackberries that grow and flower on first-year growth much as the primocane-fruiting red raspberries do. Unmanaged mature plants form a tangle of dense arching stems, the branches rooting from the node tip on many species when they reach the ground. Vigorous and growing in woods, scrub and hedgerows, blackberry shrubs tolerate poor soils colonizing wasteland and vacant lots; the flowers are produced in late spring and early summer on short racemes on the tips of the flowering laterals. Each flower is about 2 -- 3 cm in diameter with five pale pink petals; the drupelets only develop around ovules. The most cause of undeveloped ovules is inadequate pollinator visits. A small change in conditions, such as a rainy day or a day too hot for bees to work after early morning, can reduce the number of bee visits to the flower, thus reducing the quality of the fruit. Incomplete drupelet development can be a symptom of exhausted reserves in the plant's roots or infection with a virus such as raspberry bushy dwarf virus.

One of the earliest known instances of blackberry consumption comes from the preserved remains of the Haraldskær Woman, the preserved bog body of a Danish woman dating from 2,500 years ago. Forensic evidence found blackberries among other foods; the use of blackberries to make wines and cordials was documented in the London Pharmacopoeia in 1696. As food, blackberries have a long history of use alongside other fruits to make pies and jams; the use of blackberry plants for medicinal purposes has a long history in Western culture. The ancient Greeks, other European peoples, native Americans used the various part of the plants for different treatments. Chewing the leaves or brewing the shoots into tea were used to treat mouth ailments, such as bleeding gums and canker sores. Tea brewed from leaves and bark was used to treat pertussis; the roots, which have been described as astringent, have been used for treatment of intestinal problems, such as dysentery and diarrhea. The fruit – having a high vitamin C content – was used for the treatment of scurvy.

A 1771 document recommended brewing blackberry leaves and bark for stomach ulcers. Blackberry fruit and stems have been used to dye fabrics and hair. Native Americans have been known to use the stems to make rope; the shrubs have been used for barriers around buildings and livestock. The wild plants have sharp, thick thorns, which offered some protection against enemies and large animals. Modern development of several cultivars took place in the United States. In 1880, a cultivar named the loganberry was developed in Santa Cruz, California, by an American judge and horticulturalist, James Harvey Logan. One of the first thornless varieties was developed in 1921, but the berries lost much of their flavor. Common thornless cultivars developed from the 1990s to the early 21st century by the US Department of Agriculture enabled efficient machine-harvesting, higher yields and firmer fruit, improved flavor, including the Triple Crown, Black Diamond, Black Pearl, Nightfall, a Marionberry. Blackberry leaves are food for certain caterpillars.

Paper Lion

Paper Lion is a 1966 non-fiction book by American author George Plimpton. In 1960, not an athlete, arranged to pitch to a lineup of professional baseball players in an All-Star exhibition to answer the question, "How would the average man off of the street fare in an attempt to compete with the stars of professional sports?" He chronicled this experience in his book, Out of My League. To write Paper Lion, Plimpton repeated the experiment in the National Football League, joining the training camp of the 1963 Detroit Lions on the premise of trying out to be the team's third-string quarterback. Plimpton 36 years old, showed how unlikely it would be for an "average" person to succeed as a professional football player; the book is an expanded version of Plimpton's two-part series which appeared in back-to-back issues of Sports Illustrated in September 1964. The book's epilogue is an expanded article from Sports Illustrated which appeared one year later. Plimpton had contacted several teams about his idea including his hometown New York Giants and New York Titans and Baltimore Colts.

The Lions agreed to host Plimpton in their training camp. The coaches were aware of the deception but the players were not until it became apparent that Plimpton did not know how to receive the snap from center. Despite his struggles Plimpton convinced head coach George Wilson to let him take the first five snaps of the annual intra-squad scrimmage conducted in Pontiac, Michigan. Plimpton managed to lose yardage on each play. Feeling confident he could do better, Plimpton hung around training camp one more week as the team prepared for its first pre-season game against the Cleveland Browns, being sure if the Lions had a big enough lead near the end of the game, Wilson would let him play. However, team officials informed Plimpton at halftime that NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle would not allow him to play under any circumstance; the next day Plimpton ended his experiment. Before he left, the Lions awarded him a gold football, engraved: "To the best rookie football player in Detroit Lions history."The book is memorable as one of the first to showcase the personalities of the players and coaches and what happens off the field.

Figuring prominently in the book are linebacker Wayne Walker, quarterback Milt Plum, future Hall of Famers cornerback Dick "Night Train" Lane and middle linebacker Joe Schmidt, defensive tackle Alex Karras, among others. However, Karras' inclusion is through the stories about him told by teammates and other team personnel. Karras missed the 1963 season serving a suspension for gambling on football games. Prior to Paper Lion, Plimpton had pitched to major league baseball players and sparred with boxing great Archie Moore, but the success of this book, adapted into a 1968 film starring Alan Alda as Plimpton, helped launch a kind of second career for Plimpton as an everyman athlete. Plimpton followed Paper Lion with books about golf and ice hockey, as well as two more football books. In an interview with Tom Bean and Luke Poling, the filmmakers of the documentary, Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself, Joe Schmidt talked about how the team reacted to Plimpton's presence. "He tried to blend in with the rest of the team, but after a while you could just see that George wasn't much of an athlete.

You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to figure that one out. You're in training camp and you're all pretty good football players, George comes along, he's sort of emaciated looking, you know he's not too physical of a specimen, and he couldn't throw the ball more than 15 yards." Saturday Review called Paper Lion "the best book written about pro football—-maybe about any sport—because Plimpton captures with absolute fidelity how the average fan might feel given the opportunity to try out for a professional football team."In 2008, sportswriter Stefan Fatsis joined the NFL's Denver Broncos as a kicker. His story, compared to Paper Lion, was told in A Few Seconds of Panic

Brian Barder

Sir Brian Leon Barder was a British diplomat, author and civil liberties advocate. Barder was born in the son of Harry and Vivien Barder, he was educated at Sherborne School and St Catharine's College, where he was a member of the Footlights, the Cambridge University Musical Comedy Club, the St Catharine's College Boat Club and the Cambridge University Labour Club. Barder did his National Service in Hong Kong, he joined the Colonial Office in London in 1957. He transferred to the Diplomatic Service in 1965. From 1964-1968 he was First Secretary, UK Mission to the United Nations, dealing with decolonisation, he returned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London as Assistant Head of West African Department, including dealing with Biafra. He became Press Attaché, Moscow. In 1977-78 he was a course member at the Canadian National Defence College, Ontario. In 1978 he returned to London as Head of Central and Southern Southern African Department and Commonwealth Office, he was British Ambassador to Ethiopia.

He was awarded the KCMG in 1992. In 1958 Barder married Jane Maureen Cornwell, they had two daughters and one son, two granddaughters. He lived in Earlsfield, with his wife. Barder was British Ambassador to Ethiopia during the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85, he played a key role in making possible the deployment of the Royal Air Force to Ethiopia for 14 months to move relief supplies from the ports to remote parts of the country where it was urgently needed. His role in the relief effort is described in The Ethiopian Famine, A Year In The Death of Africa. In 2009 he took part in a BBC Radio 4 programme which brought together some of the key people involved in the Ethiopian famine including International Red Cross nurse Claire Bertschinger. After retirement, Barder served on Namibian elections, he was a Know-How Fund Consultant for diplomatic training in Central Europe. Barder was appointed to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in November 1997, three years after his retirement from the diplomatic service.

He resigned in January 2004 when the Government extended the role of SIAC in a way which he believed to be contrary to Britain's international obligations. He set out the reasons for his resignation in The Guardian; the Anti-terrorism and Security Act of 2001 made SIAC additionally responsible for hearing appeals by persons indefinitely detained without trial by the Home Secretary on suspicion of being connected with terrorism but who could not be deported because there was no country to which they could safely be sent. Barder took the view, subsequently endorsed by the Law Lords, that sending people to prison indefinitely and without trial and without being charged with any offence was a breach of Britain's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. On 16 December 2004 the Law Lords ruled that Part 4 was indeed incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, but under the terms of the Human Rights Act 1998 it remained in force, it has since been replaced by the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

After retiring from the Diplomatic Service, Barder wrote a popular blog and was a regular contributor to the LabourList website. He had articles and letters published in The Political Quarterly, London Review of Books, The Times, The Guardian, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, elsewhere, he was Editorial Consultant for A Dictionary of Diplomacy and contributed to the Third Edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage. Barder's book, What Diplomats Do: The Life and Work of Diplomats was published in July 2014. Not a diplomatic memoir, it describes a diplomat's day-to-day life and work through a typical but fictitious diplomatic career, it has been described as "massively authoritative, original... a brilliant book". I found reading its chapters irresistible, like eating peanuts". Official website Barder's blog Interview with Sir Brian Leon Barder & transcript, British Diplomatic Oral History Programme, Churchill College, Cambridge, 1997