Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cooper's Hawk in the Bird Bath

This summer has definitely been miserable hot. Apparently the resident avian predator of our neighborhood thought so too. I took the picture from in the house, zoomed (note the screen). I was sure if I tried to get outside to take it he would fly off. He flew off anyway about a minute after I took the picture. He was buzzed by grackles twice in that period.

The bird bath is 21 inches across, so I would make the hawk like 17 inches from beak to the end of the tail, wingspan maybe 28 inches.

I searched the blog for "hawk", we first saw the Cooper's Hawk Thanksgiving of 2007. I wonder if it's the same bird or a descendant. Cool. Cornell Lab Of Ornithology has a great bird book, which says oldest known Cooper's Hawk was 20 years and 4 months old -- so I'd guess that it's the same bird.

Hmmm, the article says that if you don't want the hawk using your bird feeders as a hunting ground to take them down for a few days and the hawk will "move on". I doubt that would work. I've seen this guy all over our neighborhood, we'd probably all have to coordinate to get him to move on. Plus, seems like he lives here, just as we do. Oh well. The article says he mostly likes bigger birds and lists starlings first, so more power to him.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It Would Never Have Worked

I thought I had blogged on this before but couldn't find anything. Oh well.

The wife and I saw "Inception" last night. Very nice, good acting, nice pacing, wonderful logical consistency. A bit of a thinker, but no where near the mental tickle of "Mememto".

But, it just didn't quite work for me because: the wonderfully complex plan that gets carried out was way too complex to ever have succeeded on the first try.

Think about playing Mousetrap as a kid. It never worked right the first time. You always had to tweak this, nudge that.

In the mid-80s, scientists almost universally opposed Reagan's Star Wars missile defense system because there would have no way to test the fabulously complex software. Maybe now you we have enough computing power that you simulate it, but, still, who is willing to trust that?

In some ways, it's Intelligent Design vs. Evolution. The Intelligent Design is bound to forget things, need tweaking, want some do-overs. Evolution just keeps on keepin' on, if it lives fine, otherwise, au revoir Pee-wee.

I think that this is a cognitive illusion, akin to the one that "at some point the roads should be done", where we just don't want to admit that the roads always need maintenance. We want to believe that incredibly elaborate plans can be executed perfectly the first time, and normally they can't. Hence the many incremental steps towards the 1st moon landing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Surprisingly Cool

Biked this morning 8:30 to 11:10. Surprisingly cool breezes even towards the end. 33.6 miles, top speed 35.9 mph (???). Delaney Ferry to James to McGee to Shannawood to Dry Ridge to Scott Ferry. Back in McCracken Pike, Huntertown, and Parkers Mill.

On Dry Ridge, saw a red-headed woodpecker. The white bar on their lower back and wings is really striking. Then I saw 3 of them in a tree, squabbling with 4 kingbirds. Both of these I've only seen further out in the countryside, and this was the first time I'd seen either species flocking. The bird book says that kingbirds get their name from being very territorial and aggressive and attacking larger birds, even crows -- the woodpeckers are slightly larger than they are.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sin #4: Hampering The Use Of Birth Control Worldwide

Man, I started this series February 6 and here it is July 17 -- must be as boring to me as it is to you. Regardless, we have made it to the final installment.

It used to be mostly the catholic church, with its third world "breed, baby, breed" strategy for keeping its numbers up, that was the primary opponent of birth control.

But, the American neo-puritan/conservatives decided to get in on the act too. And, shocker, the Bush administration's decision to quit distributing condoms worldwide and instead distributing information on abstinence-based birth control (oxymoron?) has led to a resurgence of AIDS in Africa.

I also find the posters "We'll wait until we're married" that you see in Tennessee a hoot. Horny youngsters get married too young so they can have sex, greatly increasing their chances of divorce. Family values, my ass.

I've always found it interesting that the "Right to Breed" is so fundamental that it is nowhere in the constitution or law that I know of. The Chinese, with their one child per family policy of the last few decades, are the only case I know of a government limiting that right. We should probably make "Idiocracy" required viewing for all DINK yuppies. Actually, I think that there are enough genes for smartness spread throughout the gene pool that smart people will come from every economic strata, racial group, etc -- so I really don't worry about "Idiocracy". But, we all need to slow down before we pass the carrying capacity of the earth, if we haven't already (says the guy with 4 kids).

A couple of weeks ago I was at the catholic funeral mass for my mother's sister, the last of her generation. The priest was not a good speaker, and, increasingly, I find the religious blather dished out to be completely incomprehensible:

When she was alive, Ann loved you as a mother and as a wife. Now in heaven, she loves you as god loves you, with divine love. This is a much greater love than any earthly love. So she now loves you much more than she did when she was living.
????? Where the fuck do they get this stuff? Do they just completely pull it out of their ass? They take something real, human and wonderful -- motherly and wifely love, both probably based at least in part on the hormone oxytocin -- and render it meaningless by throwing in non sequitur assertions based on nonsense.

It is hard to lose loved ones. But we all die, and that's the end of it. They live on in us in our genes and/or in the lessons (memes) that they passed to us in their lives.