Archive for November, 2007

Turkey in residence

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

This female wild turkey has been hanging around the condos for more than a week. I usually see it on the lawn between 6 and 7 a.m., but today it was here at 10, so I was awake enough to take a picture.
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Rocky Point Park photos

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

I went to this park to look for Scrub Jays. Didn’t find any, but did see a couple of raptors. The first was a Short-tailed hawk. It was low and moved out of sight. I was looking for it when I spotted another bird far overhead, mostly gliding. As I put the binocs on it, it banked and was lit up by the sun. It was a Bald Eagle, only the second one I’ve seen in flight. Not the greatest photos but you take what you can get.
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Nous sommes tous français

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Hello to my friends in Paris! I’ve been reading about a new book titled, “The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography,” by Graham Robb. Robb bicycled 14,000 miles around France, and spent four years researching the country’s history from the time of the Revolution to World War 1. Before railroads and telegraph lines, France was not one nation, but many isolated sub-nations, with their own languages or dialects, often practicing pre-Christian rituals, often extremely hostile to outsiders.

We know that Germany too was a relatively new construction in 1914. We also know that wars are usually fought between elites, using commoners to do the actual fighting. Putting a loosely knit nation on a war footing is one way to consolidate its disparate population: Nous sommes tous français!

A corollary is disparaging political opponents as non-nationalists, traitors to the idea of a unified nation. This got me thinking about 9/11, that great unifying moment. The moment was just that, short-lived, destroyed by divided opinions about the Iraq War. Perhaps, though, we got it wrong from the beginning, and misinterpreted 9/11. What was attacked on 9/11? Not Heartland America, nor Christian America. Damage to Trinity Church in Manhattan was incidental.

No, the targets of 9/11 were our financial and military cathedrals, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And what ideologies better represent the United States in the 21st century than our economic power, backed up by our military power? They are the public faces of our elites, and the means by which they expand and maintain their power.
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Audubon Field Trip

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Jones-Hungryland

I recently joined the National Audubon Society and today I went on a field trip with our local chapter, Audubon of Martin County. The field trip was led by Laurie, our chapter president. Jones-Hungryland is a huge wildlife area that straddles Martin and Palm Beach counties. Although it was small-game hunting season we didn’t see or hear many hunters. We stuck to the main road along a canal, and stopped several times along the way. These photos are highlights of the trip.
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Death by corn

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Ethanol, an alcohol distilled from corn, is the new wonder-additive for gasoline. Genetically modified corn is robust and herbicide-resistant. Can corn save us? Or will it hasten our journey to self-extinction?
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Halpatiokee Park Photos, Nov 22, ’07

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Alligator

I’m thankful for some good photos! Follow the link below.
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Look me in the eye

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Pervez Musharraf isn’t the only foreign leader President Bush misunderestimated. Putin is ineligible to seek re-election next May, but that probably won’t stop him from retaining power. His clique has essentially seized control of Russian media, and perverted the political process in ways that preclude serious competition with his United Russia party. Now he’s accusing his rivals of collusion with Western governments. Communist-era music is heard at pro-Putin rallies.

It’s the 1930s all over again. Most Russians seem to love this guy, but the reasons aren’t hard to understand. Putin plays to Russian pride. Putin’s lackeys have created an image of Russia as victim. Now it’s time for Russia to stand tall and be proud again. Yes, it’s the 1930s all over again, but I wasn’t thinking of Stalin or Moscow when I wrote that. I was thinking of that other maniac in Berlin.

Until she moved to the State Department after Colin Powell resigned, Condoleeza Rice was Bush’s National Security Advisor. She brought to that position some experience as Soviet Union and Eastern European Affairs advisor to President George H.W. Bush. A fat lot of good that experience was to Junior. In June 2001, Bush entertained Putin at his Crawford, Texas, estate. Here are excerpts from a press briefing with George and Vlad:
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Pervez-envy in the White House

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, seized power in a 1999 military coup. When Pakistan’s Supreme Court threatened to prevent him from seeking another term in office, Musharraf declared a state of emergency, fired the Supreme Court, and took several justices into custody. When lawyers protested, thousands were arrested. As part of his emergency powers, Musharraf has stated that his decisions are final, and cannot be challenged in any court.

When one of his potential political rivals, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned from exile and planned a protest rally against Musharraf, he sent soldiers to prevent her from leaving her home. (Update November 22, 2007: Musharraf seems set to remain in office indefinitely, as his new, hand-picked Supreme Court has ruled against a challenge to last month’s election. What are Supreme Courts for, after all?)

I’m not the only blogger warning that the United States is headed for dictatorship. I’m not the only person pointing out that what governments do or tolerate in other countries they very often do at home, to their own citizens. Well, let’s let President Bush, himself appointed to office by our own Supreme Court, speak for himself. I report, you decide what this president would do to you and me if he got the chance. Here’s an excerpt from an interview President Bush gave to ABC News correspondent Charles Gibson yesterday, with my emphasis:
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Reading for fun?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

This week’s National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) report on Americans’ reading habits has been much in the news. An article in today’s New York Times discusses the correlation between secondary-school students’ reading habits and their scores on reading-comprehension tests. This correlation is a no-brainer. Something else in the Times article caught my eye:

Three years ago “Reading at Risk,” which was based on a study by the Census Bureau in 2002, provoked a debate among academics, publishers and others, some of whom argued that the report defined reading too narrowly by focusing on fiction, poetry and drama.

There is a huge difference between reading non-fiction and reading fiction, poetry and drama. Yet time spent reading the latter can greatly affect what we take from the former.
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Don’t burn your books yet

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

“Optimistic estimates put the current e-book market at around $25m a year. That’s a rounding error for the publishing industry. And just to give you some perspective, ringtones — another digitally-delivered good — gross as much revenue as e-books do in a year… in 33 minutes.” — Andrew Orlowski

Steven Levy, writing for Newsweek, sees something else:
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