Daily Archives: November 28, 2010

5 Million Hits a Year on Robert Lindsay Sites

In the last year, the two Robert Lindsay sites received an amazing total of 4.9 million hits from visitors, 1.7 million on this site and 3.2 million on the video site. The number of visitors is not known, but there were probably 1.9 million visitors to the video site and possibly 1 million visitors to this site.

All in all, a pretty amazing performance.

Of course, the two sites combined still barely make a nickel. The video site brings in ~$10/month in syndication fees, and this site makes no money at all, since advertising is not allowed on WordPress yet, if it will ever be allowed. There are no advertisers at the moment on the video site.

The fact that two sites with combined traffic of 6 million hits/year still make almost no money to the lie of “build a high traffic website and make big money.” There may indeed be money to be made on the Internet, but it’s through selling products or services, not selling ads.

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Filed under Meta, Vanity

Sometimes They Really Are Out to Get You

Repost from the old site.

While I was getting my Master’s Degree at a local university in the 1990’s, I used to read a lot of academic journals. One of my favorites were the psychology and psychiatry journals, but I read journals in all sorts of areas – medicine, linguistics, history, political science, biology, sociology, etc.

I found the most interesting case study!

At some time between 1991-1994, a middle-aged man presented to a Canadian mental health unit complaining that “the Mafia was trying to kill him”. (When I wrote this post, I thought the Canada part was strange because I was not sure if there was a Mafia in Canada, but Googling shows there is). He described an elaborate conspiracy involving various figures, surveillance, threats, etc.

After an extensive interview, the man received a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. He stayed in the hospital, was medicated, and was released after a few weeks.

About three months after his release from the mental hospital, the man was murdered…by the Mafia!

This was a true case written as a letter to the editor up in one of the most respectable, peer reviewed journals. I could not believe what I read! The theme of the letter is that you have to be careful diagnosing psychosis in folks complaining of plots to kill them, because in some cases, there really are people trying to kill the person.

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Filed under Americas, Canada, Crime, Mental Illness, North America, Organized Crime, Psychology, Psychopathology, Psychotherapy, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site

Facts and Nonsense About the Brain

Repost from the old site.

Like most things, there is much nonsense spoken about our brains. Our brains are very interesting to us, even to stupid people, because we use them to think. Yes, even dumb people do use their brains to think. We don’t really understand how our brains work, so some of us try to sound smart by pontificating about our mysterious brains.

Here are some widespread myths about our brains:

We only use [choose one: 10%, 20%] of our brains. This silly statement makes us feel good, because it suggests that if we really try hard, we can use 30 or 40% of our brains and make more money or get laid more or dazzle folks with our wit, or this or that. Problem is that no neurologist will agree with this statement, and no one quite knows even where it came from.

It’s one of those feel-good statements that is complete nonsense. We use all of our brains. Even total idiots are using all of their brains most of the time, strange as it may seem.

There are parts of the brain that are emotional and parts of the brain that are dedicated to cognition. This one is not nearly as silly as the first one, but it’s still not true. I know this because 15 years ago I was acquainted with a neuropsychologist. He did various sorts of cognitive testing, and he also worked with people with various forms of brain damage.

He was also a strange guy, but he was nice enough, and he did have a PhD. I assumed that getting the PhD had probably driven him partly crazy, and he was neurotic as a result. He informed me that there were no emotional or thinking parts of the brain. He said that all of the brain engages in both thinking and emotion.

Sure, some parts, like the amygdala, are more dedicated to emotion and other parts, like the prefrontal cortex, are more dedicated to thinking, but all the parts do both.

Every drink (or joint) kills a few brain cells. I can’t believe even physicians tell me this crap. It’s nonsense. Yes, alcohol is one of the few drugs that actually kills brain cells, but you have to drink alcoholic-style for years before it happens. Cannabis, like many drugs, does not kill brain cells at any dose. Unfortunately, drugs don’t need to kill cells to mess up your brain. They can damage cells and destroy connections between cells.

Male brains are better at math and science than female brains. Actually, they start out the same, but worldwide studies show that at about age 13, when massive male hormones kick in, males all over the world start to surpass females.

A personal observation is that females who do well at these subjects are more likely to be more masculine (not necessarily lesbian) than other women. The President of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, was recently massacred for stating this obvious fact.

Female brains are better at verbal than male brains. Apparently the case, though there are arguments about which type of verbal we are talking about. If you think about it, there are evolutionary reasons why females would end up better at verbal (needed to raise young kids) and males are better at visuospatial (needed for hunting).

There are some more facts about the brain that you may find interesting.

We have a maximum number of brain cells at age 23, and after that, there is a steady decline. This is correlated with what is known as fluid IQ, a rough measure of brain efficiency. This is why mathematicians, physicists, novelists, poets, songwriters, musicians, artists and others like them tend to do their best work when they are still pretty young.

On the other hand, only an insane person would put the 18-22 year olds in charge of a country. This group has never been put in charge of anything in any society, with good reason. Their brains are going like gangbusters, but they don’t have any sense.

They think they know everything, but they don’t know shit. They are supremely self-confident, and they have not even reached the stage of self-doubt.

Other than passing their classes, they are contemptuous of learning and knowledge in general and never admit there is anything they don’t know. If they can’t figure it out, it’s worthless. This age group is a prime example of the notion that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous.

They have a grotesquely poor understanding of their fellow man, and they are horribly intolerant. Also, they are very much group-thinkers who are terrified to defy group-think and peer pressure.

If we put them in charge, it would be a nightmare. They would hold public executions and would probably torture people in public. There would be stupid wars all the time. Everything would be legal, and no one would care. There would be private armies all over the place and probably some form of fascism would be the flavor of the day.

We occasionally put them in charge of some stuff, like being Presidents of fraternities, but often they even fuck that up.

Mind you, I was an 18-22 year old too, and those were the best days of my life. I remember myself as being supremely mature and with-it, but I assume I had my head up my ass like the rest of them.

Yes, the brain declines with age, but wisdom is good. The crystallized intelligence of age does have advantages over the rarely-used super-brains of the young. Our brains are slower, but with the gifts and harsh lessons of time, we are vastly superior at making decisions.

Any tribe or civilization of any worth always put middle-aged to old guys in charge and revered its elders. We are cautious and careful, and we already did most of the dumb things there are to do, and we are not likely to do them again.

Crystallized intelligence is more or less the stuff you know. As you age, you accumulate knowledge and theoretically wisdom. You don’t get a hardon with every passing breeze, but you’re much less likely to do stupid shit. It’s called a trade-off.

A process called pruning occurs in which there is actually a massive loss of brain cells and connections. Most folks do not know this, but there is a massive overgrowth of brain cells in childhood. At adolescence, the brain decides to clear out all those stupid dirt roads that don’t go much of anywhere and make some superhighways instead. The result is like pruning a tree, and the brain works much better as a result.

There is quite a bit of loss of brain structure in the process, but it’s all good in the end. In fact, pruning is an essential process for the adolescent brain. If you observe most adolescents, it would not seem controversial that they are experiencing massive loss of brain structure, but a lot of folks still refuse to believe this.

There is a window in the brain for language that starts to close at about age 7. If you wait until later, you never really get language right. We have folks born deaf who got hearing at age 33 and have still never picked up language right. You can learn a foreign language in adulthood, but you will always have an accent, and you will never get 100% native speaker competence.

There is a blind cave fish that has a window for sight. If it is exposed to light before a certain age, it can see. If not, it just figures there is no light down in this cave, so it just goes blind and turns the visual portion of the brain over to something else. The brain seems to open up windows, so to speak.

The brain opens a language window that says, “Any language here?” as it waits for input. If there is no input, the brain just closes the window, figures there is no language coming, and turns the area over to something else.

The brain is plastic. That does not mean it is made out of polyurethane. It just means that it is smart. For instance, if one part gets damaged, your brain will try to reroute connections around the damaged area. Also, other areas of the brain will try to take over for the damaged area. Brains are smart! They actually think about how to fix up messed up brains! Cool!

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Filed under Alcohol, Applied, Biology, Cannabis, Depressants, Dope, Gender Studies, Intelligence, Intoxicants, Language Learning, Linguistics, Neuroscience, Psychology, Reposts From The Old Site, Science

An Examination of the Frog Extinction Epidemic

Repost from the old site.

Although many factors are involved in this epidemic, one of the worst is the Chytrid fungus epidemic. It is being spread by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes chytridiomycosis. This fungal disease is devastating frog populations all over the world, but particularly in Australia, and North, Central and South America.

The devastation in Central America has been particularly acute, with many species simply vanishing from the face of the Earth. Bd is just now spreading here in the US, with serious devastation of Sierra Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog populations in the Sierra Nevada. However, some populations are apparently surviving the epidemic with some some survivors intact and thereupon rebuilding their populations.

A paper in Nature (Pounds 2006) made the case that the chytrid epidemic was being driven by global warming. They suggested that Bd had always been there but had only become pathogenic in the face of global warming.

A new paper (Lips 2008) in the journal PLoS Biology challenged that theory with some interesting data. I did not read the Pounds paper, but the Lips paper was quite convincing.

Their argument is rather simple. If Bd had always been there, it would not show a spread rate typical of a spreading disease epidemic. Instead, it would tend to erupt in all places at once.

Lips’ team showed first of all that Bd had not always been in the environment, that is, it was not an endemic. It appears to have escaped from an Australian lab around 1970 and from there spread through Australia. From Australia, it made its way to the Americas.

We can see several places where it seems to have been introduced, and we can plot the years of introduction on a map. So Bd is acting like an invasive alien species.

Bd appears in Costa Rica in 1987 and then heads south to Panama. It seems to be following mountain ranges there too. The number of species lost in Costa Rica is very large.

Bd spread in South America following two introductions, one in 1977 and one in 1980. The 1980 Ecuadorian introduction heads both north and south along the Andes. The 1977 Venezuelan introduction heads south along the Andes. For some reason, Bd in South America is sticking to the Andes.

This is precisely how we would expect an epidemic following an introduction by an alien species to operate – a geographical spread from a point of introduction with a rate of spread in miles per year. Furthermore, the testing of many specimens in museums failed to find Bd in any of them prior to 1977. This suggests strongly that Bd is an invasive alien fungus that was not present in the environment before.

An alternative hypothesis was not tested but did occur to me: That even though Bd was an alien exotic invasive fungus spreading after accidental introduction, global warming had somehow made Bd much more lethal to frogs. I can’t figure out a way to test that hypothesis, and I guess none of the researchers are considering it. The Pounds team is sticking to their guns on this one, but I think that they are wrong.

It’s a good mind exercise to read academic science journal articles that test scientific hypotheses against competing hypotheses. It’s hard to read that stuff, but if you can get through it somehow, personally I find these brain puzzles to be a lot of fun. If you see learning as virtually a sensual activity as I do, this kind of stuff is almost as fun as a vacation, sports, sex or any other other purely sensual activity.

Learning and thinking is actually a blast, to me anyway. Try it sometime!

References

Lips, Karen R., Diffendorfer, Jay, Mendelson III, Joseph R., Sears, Michael W. 2008. Riding the Wave: Reconciling the Roles of Disease and Climate Change in Amphibian Declines. PLoS Biology 6:3.

Pounds JA, Bustamante MR, Coloma LA, Consuegra JA, Fogden MPL, et al. 2006. Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. Nature 39: 161–167.

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Filed under Americas, Animals, Australia, Central America, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Endangered Species, Environmentalism, Global Warming, Latin America, North America, Panama, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, South America, USA, Venezuela, West, Wild, Wildlife

Cow Farts Cause More Global Warming Than Humans?

Repost from the old site.

The latest rightwing crap.

I was on a rightwing blog a couple of years ago and decided to ask how many believed in global warming. The vast majority did not. A few said it was happening, but it was natural. One or two said it was happening, but no one knew what was causing it, and we needed to study it more.

This blog has unfortunately become infested lately with some young White male 20-something reactionary-to-libertarian trolls who are lurking in the comments section.

It’s quite simple to be a libertarian when you are young, dumb and full of cum. I voted Libertarian at age 22. I’d never do it again, but that’s how you learn. People that age just haven’t been fucked hard enough and enough times by life yet. By the time we are 40, most of us have had about a million horrible things happen to us, and narcissism is on sharp decline. That’s why age and wisdom are traditionally synonymous.

They’re causing a lot of dissension, but echo chambers are boring. Comments rules forbid me from banning folks based on ideology, so for the moment, they are sticking around.

It’s kind of interesting to have some pet rightwingers to play with, because like a lot of pets, they do a lot of stupid shit. Since rightwingers can talk unlike all other pets, rightwingers also say stupid shit.

Debating rightwingers is like debating ultranationalist Jewish Zionists. Most of their arguments are absolute crap. The reason is because what they are arguing for is perfectly horrible to most folks.

Hence I really admire Zionists like Samson Blinded who just tell it like it is. I admire libertarians like Entitled to an Opinion who just lay it out in all of libertarianism’s heartless nastiness. Plus TGGP and Obaidah Shoher and really bright guys, and I have to admire that, if they are pushing something pretty awful.

Since conservatism and Zionism are unpalatable to most folks as they actually exist, conservatives and Zionists always have to lie to try to get decent people to go along with their programs, which most folks find repellent.

Anyway, it looks like the rightwing has moved on on global warming. Only 6% of the US says it doesn’t exist, but about 50% of Republican Congresscritters say so.

But the new line is that global warming exists, but it’s not caused by people, it’s caused by cow farts!

Well, if that were so, as a totalitarian, I would just say fine, so kill all the cows, serve the whole world steak for a month and be done with it. If that’s too radical, make a beef hamburger at McDonald’s cost twice what a chicken or turkey hamburger does. Soon every fast food joint has beef and non-beef options and profits are blasting right along.

This rightwing argument, like most of them, is ultimately devious. The rightwingers know that this hamburger-munching Americans will never tax their beloved burgers even one penny.

So they throw up their hands and say nothing can be done, especially about reducing auto emissions, which is really what they have their butts smoking about anyway. How dare you order me to ride a bike!

Cow farts cause global warming, so what business do we have trying to reduce car emissions? Let global warming continue apace.

Problem is that they are playing games with figures.

It is true that the cattle industry, in the totality of its effects, does account for 18% of global warming. However, cow burps and farts only account for 12% of that 18%, and that 12% is 98% burps and only 2% farts. So cow farts actually account for .04% of global warming. That is something like 1% of all transportation (mostly vehicle) emissions. Cow farts and burps in total account for 2.1% of global warming.

If cow burping and farting is only 12% of cow global warming, what’s all the rest? All the land, especially tropical forest land, that is cleared for cattle. All of the fossil fuel burning that goes into the production of fertilizer, feed and growing cattle. All of the transportation costs involved in the cattle industry. And on and on.

One would think that any livestock or animal husbandry is as capable of producing this problem as any other. Not so. Cattle cause the overwhelming majority of the global warming from animal husbandry.

Therefore, we could continue to eat meat, but just switch from beef to lamb, turkey, chicken, pork, goat, etc. I’d love to turn a lot of the cattle lands on the Great Plains back to buffalo and then harvest them for food. We had great herds of buffalo roaming our Midwest for thousands of years with no problems for the ecosystem and no global warming issues. I am told that rabbits are an excellent food.

A great way to do this would just be to tax beef and probably even milk based on the amount of damage it does to the ecosystem. My brother (I won’t go near the place) informs me that hamburgers at McDonald’s cost from $1-4. Double the price. Make them cost $2-8 instead of $1-4, as I mentioned above. It’s probably politically impossible, but that’s why I have totalitarian tendencies.

Cattle also cause a tremendous amount of other damage above and beyond global warming. I will just let the article summarize:

Livestock also produces more than 100 other polluting gases, including more than two-thirds of the world’s emissions of ammonia, one of the main causes of acid rain.

Ranching, the report adds, is “the major driver of deforestation” worldwide, and overgrazing is turning a fifth of all pastures and ranges into desert. Cows also soak up vast amounts of water: it takes a staggering 990 litres of water to produce one litre of milk.

Wastes from feedlots and fertilisers used to grow their feed overnourish water, causing weeds to choke all other life. And the pesticides, antibiotics and hormones used to treat them get into drinking water and endanger human health.

The pollution washes down to the sea, killing coral reefs and creating “dead zones” devoid of life. One is up to 21,000 sq km, in the Gulf of Mexico, where much of the waste from US beef production is carried down the Mississippi.

The report concludes that, unless drastic changes are made, the massive damage done by livestock will more than double by 2050, as demand for meat increases.

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Filed under Agricutlure, Animals, Conservatism, Cows, Domestic, Environmentalism, Global Warming, Libertarianism, Livestock Production, Political Science, Politics, Pollution, Reposts From The Old Site, Republicans, Ultranationalism, US Politics, Zionism

Human Races and Subspecies

Repost from the old site.

A question that comes up all the time in race realist circles is whether or not the various races of man, however defined, can be considered to be subspecies. No reputable scientist considers the major human races to be separate subspecies of Homo Sapiens. At any rate, Homo sapiens himself is already a subspecies called Homo sapiens sapiens. There was H.s. neanderthalis , H.s. idaltu, probably H.s. rhodesiensis and finally, Homo sapiens sapiens.

So a human subspecies would be look more like a Neandertal, with dramatic differences between them and modern humans. Even Khoisans and Pygmies are much closer to the rest of us than Neandertal or Idaltu Man was.

This area is still quite controversial, but the only scientists and theorists who are suggesting that the differences between the races are great enough to constitute subspecies are racialists, many of whom are explicit racists. Almost all are associated with White nationalism and usually with Nordicism. Nordicists are best seen as Nazis.

You must understand the differences between races and subspecies. For instance there is the California kingsnake . There are no subspecies of the California kingsnake. However, there are numerous races, many of which look radically different from the California kingsnake norm. They are simply called races of the California kingsnake.

So races of humans and other animals are really a level even below that of the subspecies. They are not protected by the Endangered Species Act, and I’m not sure anyone cares about them all that much. They’re better seen as regional variants.

Subspecies are a variant of a species that only occurs in one limited geographical area in which no other subspecies of that animal reside. Hence, each subspecies is geographically isolated from the others such that interbreeding is rare to nonexistent. At some point, subspecies’ territories may start overlapping. They begin to interbreed a lot, since subspecies of a type are readily capable of interbreeding. Once their territories overlap and interbreeding begins, we often stop calling two types separate subspecies and wrap them into a single entity.

Subspecies were differentiated in the past based on a significant degree of anatomical difference. Nowadays, genetics is much more popular. The combination of significant anatomical and behavioral differences combined with significant genetic difference at some point is deemed great enough to warrant a subspecies split. These discussions are carried on very civilly in academic journals and after a bit of back and forth, a consensus of some sort is arrived at regarding whether or not two variants of a species differ enough to be called subspecies. At that point, the discussion typically dies.

In addition, new genetic discoveries now show that some subspecies are so far apart genetically that a good case can be made that they are actually full species and not subspecies. This argument is also written up carefully in a journal, and usually seems to be accepted if the argument is well thought-out. In addition to splitting, there is lumping.

Some variants of a species have in the past been divided into various subspecies. Some new analyses have shown that all of these subspecies definitions were in error, and in fact, the species is fairly uniform, with few to no subspecies instead of the 10-15 they had in the past. This argument also gets written up in a journal and passed around. Usually the new designation is accepted if the argument is well-crafted.

The species/subspecies question is not as wildly controversial among scientists as laypeople think. Designations change back and forth, all are based on good, solid science, and science simply coalesces around the paradigmatic view of a species as it may change over time. Science, after all, is always a work in progress.

The reasons that the California kingsnake races were not split into subspecies is because apparently the genetic differences were too small to warrant a split into subspecies. It is also possible that these races are widely distributed over the kingsnake’s territory, with no particular race holding sway in any certain locale. So probably all of these kingsnake races can not only interbreed like subspecies but they probably are actively interbreeding as they are probably not geographically segregated.

At some point, it is discovered that two animals, previously thought to be separate species, have interlapping territories and the two species are observed readily interbreeding. Since separate species cannot interbreed, once two species start interbreeding easily, science often decides that they are not separate species after all and instead that they are subspecies of a single species

At some level X, two living things are split into species. At some lesser level of genetic differentiation Y, a species is further split into subspecies. At some lesser level of differentiation Z, we can start talking about races. I believe that all of the various breeds of dogs and cats are races.

“Race” and “subspecies” are two terms often conflated in speech, even by biologists, but strictly speaking, they do have different meanings. I do not know any reputable biologist who thinks that any of the various extant human races or subraces, however defined, need to be preserved on solely anthropological grounds in order to preserve their phenotype.

The various human races have been changing all through time continuously.

North Africans were once pure African, now they are mostly Caucasian.

Northeast Asians looked like Aborigines until 9,000 YBP (years before present).

South Indians looked like Aborigines until 8,000 YBP.

Southeast Asians looked like Negritos and Melanesians until about 5,000 YBP.

Over 10,000 years ago, Amerindians looked like Aborigines. Between 7,000-9,000 years ago, they looked something like the Ainu or Polynesians.

Europeans looked like Arabs 10,000 YBP, like Northwestern US Amerindians 23,000 YBP and 30-40,000 YBP, they looked very strange, possibly resembling a Khoisan more than anything else. White skin only shows up 9,000 YBP in Europe.

Polynesians and Micronesians only show up in the past 2,000 years.

So all of the modern human races and subraces, however defined, have been continuously changing down through time. The notion that they are some kind of unique subspecies in need of conservation like Northern Spotted Owls is completely mistaken and has little basis in modern science.

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Deep Ecology – An Overview

Repost from the old site.

One thing people ought to know about this blog is that one of
my philosophies is Deep Ecology. Click that link and you so you can try to figure out what it means. It was part of a debate in the environmentalist (especially radical environmental) movement that probably really got going in the 1990’s.

It had several rivals, including Social Ecology, promoted by a fellow named Murray Bookchin . Deep Ecology was promoted by a guy named Arne Naess. There’s also Ecofeminism, which I’m not really up on, because I can’t stand most kinds of feminism, although pro-porn feminists sounds like they are after my heart.

To me, Deep Ecology means something like, “Up with the animals, down with the people.” I’m not saying kill the people or anything like that, but I think in general, most species have a right to survive just like people. And no, White nationalists may not give me a debate in the comments section of this post about why their race is an endangered species.

Notable Deep Ecologists and influences include Edward Abbey of The Monkeywrench Gang fame, Dave Foreman, founder of Earth First! (many EF’ers are Deep Ecologists), Mike Roselle, also of EF!, Judi Bari (probably framed by the FBI), Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold , Theodore Roszak, John Zerzan (anarchist intellectual from Oregon) and Gary Snyder (Buddhist beatnik poet).

An overview of the Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology dust-up is here. In general, Deep Ecologists were more anarchists and Social Ecologists were more traditional socialists. I recall a Social Ecologist saying that if an animal had to be driven extinct to keep poor humans from suffering, than so be it.

They also opposed the idea of protecting animals like tigers that kill humans. If a tiger protection plan deepened the poverty of already poor humans, they would oppose that. This is pretty much the mentality of socialist states in the past 100 years, which in general have cared a lot more about the needs of humans than animals.

Deep Ecologists had major roots in the Green Party and the worldwide Green Movement as a whole. They tend to support not just reduced population growth, but actual negative population growth and population declines within nations.

This puts Deep Ecology on an oppositional status with almost all nationalists, especially ethnic nationalists. Ethnic nationalists in particular have always championed high birth rates. White nationalists are extremely pro-natalist for Whites only, and they go nuts over articles about White women having 18 kids. That would keep me out of such a movement right off the bat.

Ominously, all fascists have also always been fiercely pro-natalist.

Capitalism also, dependent on ever-increasing population for the insanity of ever-increasing economic growth, is very much pro-natalist. Capitalist theory holds that population declines will destroy the capitalist economy. That’s a great reason to reject neoliberal capitalism, or possibly capitalism itself, right there.

One of Deep Ecology’s critiques of standard environmentalism is why we should preserve habitats and species.

The standard line is that we must do this because these things can or may provide great benefit for human beings. Wilderness areas are preserved so humans can run around in them, birds are preserved so humans can look at them with binoculars, and rainforests and species are preserved because science can study them and figure out new medical or technological applications to benefit humans.

Deep Ecologists say that this is anthropocentrism. Species and places should be preserved for their inherent value, regardless of whether or not humans can use them or exploit them for human benefit. That’s a major philosophical position that you might want to ponder.

We had a big to-do over the California spotted owl (CASPO) in this part of the Sierra Nevada about 15 years ago. Bottom line is some mills closed, people lost their jobs, homes went into foreclosure, etc. About 100% of the population up here was in favor of the loggers who were wrecking the forest and against the owls.

As it turns out, the restrictions that the Forest Service put in are not even working to preserve the CASPO, and it surely needs to be listed at least as federally threatened. The crooked Fish and Wildlife Service won’t do so because that would mean further logging restrictions.

At the time, I used to delight in infuriating people by saying that 1 spotted owl was worth about 20 humans. Hardly anyone seemed to go along with that.

The species accounts on this blog are in the spirit of Deep Ecology. I’m an animal lover. I wish I could love human animals just as much, but it seems like non-human animals are in general nicer and more reliable.

By the way, Dave Foreman’s Confessions of an Eco-Warrior (1991) is highly recommended as a primer in deep ecology.

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Filed under Animals, Birds, Capitalism, Economics, Endangered Species, Environmentalism, Ethnic Nationalism, Fascism, Feminism, Gender Studies, Government, Nationalism, Overpopulation, Owls, Political Science, Racism, Reposts From The Old Site, Socialism, Spotted Owls, White Nationalism, Wild

Adventures in Owling

Repost from the old site.

For the last few weeks here in Coarsegold, California (elevation 2000′ in the Sierra Nevada Mountains), I have been hearing strange “Screech! Screech!” noises at night, often very late at night. I’m hearing them right now, as a matter of fact. I’m an experienced bird watcher, and I assumed they were birds, so I grabbed a strong flashlight (you need a strong flashlight to look at any night birds) and went outside.

Most birds are simply not active at nighttime. Day-active birds will usually just go up into a tree and sleep there at night. I had a rare bird on my property in 1990 in Southern California and I had bird-watchers coming every day to come see it.

It was a Brown Thrasher, common in the Eastern US but very rare in the West. The bird stayed on my property for about three days. At nighttime, I went out looking for it and found it in a bunch of trees on the side of the house. We think that they just go up into a tree and probably sleep up there. I guess they need to sleep too, like everything else.

The only birds active at nighttime are generally owls. There are also some birds like nightjars and whippoorwills that become active at dusk. I’m not sure if they stay active at night or not. So if you hear a bird at night, it’s an owl.

Well, I went outside and the strange screeches kept coming from a huge tree nearby. I shone my light up there and there were some good-sized owls up there. I couldn’t figure out what kind they were because it was night and they weren’t fitting into any known categories. One flew away and I noticed how huge it was in flight. I went back in and did some research on the Net.

At first I was thinking “Screech owl” because we do have Western Screech Owls here. But they are quite small and have a distinctive call. They make this call on hot summer nights, often very late at night, but it’s not a screech, in spite of the name. It’s more of a “bouncing ball” call. It’s hard to describe unless you have heard it.

On the Net I learned that baby Great Horned Owls do make a “Screech!” call. That fit in with my perceptions about the birds’ size. A horned owl is a very large bird. They are so large that they are known to prey on house cats. They are also very common in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

So these were baby Great Horned Owls. I guess they fledge here in July and August. What was interesting was there were around 5-10 of them in a small area, all calling to each other. The size also ruled out Screech Owls , because they are quite small.

You need to understand that “baby birds”, once fledged, are about the size of adult birds and are often indistinguishable from them. Some smaller birds have juvenile plumage, but among larger birds, it’s not common.

In Orange County in the late 1980’s, I saw two crows of about the same size, one feeding the other one with its beak. This is how birds feed each other. I did some research and learned that that is a baby crow. Baby crows are about the same size as adults. Adults will feed them for a while after they fledge and leave the nest, but then they need to take off.

I also had some acorn woodpeckers living in a huge oak tree on my property in the mountains. They live in communal units of multiple adults and even raise the young communally. They may raise more than one clutch in a good year. I noticed that after the young were fledged, they stuck around for a while, and the adults continued to feed them. Then I guess they took off.

This myth, so beloved by American parents with adult kids still at home long past the time to leave, about adult birds “throwing the young out of the nest” as soon as they fledge, is just not true.

First of all, baby birds can’t fly very well as soon as they fledge. Sometimes if you are lucky in Spring you can see baby birds scuttling along the ground trying to fly. I’ve seen this in House Sparrows in Fresno, California. I think they scuttle along the ground and half-fly for a few days or so, then they get it. They fly for a short distance, then they land. They must be extremely vulnerable to predation in this stage.

Keeping baby birds around after they fledge is a positive adaptation in evolutionary terms. Larger birds such as woodpeckers and surely crows are thought to be more evolved, so they seem to keep the young at home for a while after fledging. Tossing the babies out of the nest is evolutionarily stupid, since if they can’t fly well, they will be very vulnerable to predation.

Trust me, they are vulnerable enough in the nesting phase! I had an Ash-Throated Flycatcher nesting on my Oakhurst property one year. My cats figured out the story after a while, and kept trying to climb up to the nest. I’m sure predators like raccoons are even worse. I even understand that snakes can climb trees and raid nests.

I’ve never seen so many owls as I’ve seen up here in the mountains.

Twice I saw Northern Saw-Whet Owls on the road in Oakhurst, once at dusk and once at 9:30 PM on a sleety night in winter – this one had a mouse in its talons! Saw-Whet Owls descend to the Oakhurst area in winter.

Another time, also in Oakhurst at dusk, I saw small birds “mobbing” something just before dusk. When you see that, it’s generally a predatory bird like a hawk or an owl. It was dusk. I ran inside, got my binoculars, and went back. After a while, I saw that they were mobbing a Northern Pygmy-Owl .

It’s a pretty cool little bird, with fake eyes in the back of it’s head! Nice evolutionary trick to fool you into thinking it’s looking at you when it’s not. I think that this trick evolved to help this small owl avoid predators, because there I’m not sure there is an advantage for a predator to seem like it has eyes in the back of its head.

A couple of years ago, in Oakhurst near some apartments at dusk, I saw a huge bird swoop down on some bare ground in front of some apartments, grab something and take off back up to a Ponderosa Pine tree, where it was promptly mobbed by a bunch of small birds. I stopped and looked long enough to see that it was a Great Horned Owl with a mouse (probably a deer mouse) in its talons.

Mobbing is an interesting tactic. Small birds with fly in large numbers at a hawk or an owl. Often these hawks or owls are the same ones that kill and eat these same small birds. Accipter hawks such as Goshawks are mobbed, but I have never seen a Buteo such as a Red-tailed Hawk mobbed.

Buteos typically subsist solely on small mammals and reptiles and seldom if ever eat other birds. But accipters are bird hawks. They prey on other birds. I once saw a Goshawk being mobbed by small birds, fly out of some underbrush, and over to a post where it sat for a bit while the others continued to mob it.

The idea of mobbing is strength in numbers. Although they attack predators known to prey on them, if you have enough small birds, it will confuse and upset the predator enough to so it won’t attack them. It’s also an early warning system for any other small birds in the area that a predator is in the area. In addition, by mobbing, the small birds try to drive the predator away from them and off to somewhere else.

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On Spotted Owls

Repost from the old site.

There are three subspecies of spotted owls in the US. The Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) ranged from Oregon and Washington down into the California coast ranges and over into the Siskiyous and Cascades.

The California Spotted Owl (CASPO) lives in the Sierra Nevada, down into the Tehachapis and and into the mountain ranges of Southern California.

The Southern California population is isolated in mountain ranges that are not connected and is projected to go extinct over at most 100-200 years. Before mass settlement of Southern California, CASPO may have moved from range to range via river corridors, but now that is not possible. The Techachapi CASPO is probably not sustainable either. CASPO also lives in the Coast Ranges south of San Fransisco.

The Mexican Spotted Owl lives in the Southwest, mostly in Arizona and New Mexico. It was listed as threatened recently and recently had a huge amount of critical habitat set aside. It seems to be threatened by cattle grazing, but I forget how. Serious overgrazing in the Southwest seems to be devastating the grass and forb understory of the old growth pine forests.

This overgrazing has promoted heavy stands of small trees that are susceptible to drought and fire. The truth is that the Southwest should not even be grazed in the first place; it’s too dry and cows just devastate arid regions.

Cows evolved in cold, moist England and they are not well suited to arid regions. During the hot, dry months, they congregate in riparian areas, which they utterly devastate. The Eastern US is much moister, and cattle grazing causes few problems there.

The NSO was declared a threatened species in 1990, setting off the timber wars in the Pacific Northwest. Clinton pushed through a crappy Northwest Forest Plan, which sold out way more to industry than was necessary. Logging in the region declined by 80%, but they had been horribly overcutting for decades.

As one might expect, the new regulations did not save the NSO, and it has continued to decline at 3.5% per year. The continuing decline of the NSO means that it may soon have to be uplisted from Threatened to Endangered.

In the far north, in northern Washington and British Colombia, the NSO is declining at about 7% per year. In southwestern B.C., there are only about 50 owls left and they are going to go extinct in the past few years unless something is done.

All spotted owls have selected for old growth forests. A new threat is the Barred Owl, which is a relative of the Spotted Owl, coming down from the north. The Barred Owl is much more tolerant of the open conditions created by massive clearcutting, and is displacing Spotted Owls in many places. In particular, it is interbreeding with them, creating a new hybrid type.

Loggers claim that the Barred Owl invasion is the true cause of the NSO decline, but they are lying as usual. The Barred Owl invasion is due to the more open conditions created by out of control clearcutting for decades in the Northwest.

The CASPO was petitioned twice for listing, in 2000 and 2004. I haven’t read the petitions, but I have read hundreds of pages of studies on the CASPO. The CASPO, last I heard, was declining at a greater rate than even the NSO. In 2006, the US Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list the CASPO as an endangered species.

That strikes me as a wrong decision, but Bush is listing species at a rate even 85% lower than his rightwing father, George Bush. Bring back George Bush Sr.! As we can see, with the years, the US Republican Party, and consequently the US Whites they represent, have gotten increasingly virulent in the attitude of hatred and destruction towards our precious environment.

Next to the immigrant hordes flooding our shores, our precious slice of American Gaia has no greater enemy than White Americans.

What is curious about this is that White nationalists insist that only Whites are altruistic enough to care enough to be environmentalists in any way. It’s an interesting argument, but it’s sure not true in the US, and almost everyone making this odd argument is voting for the party of Nuke Gaia. Go figure.

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