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For the birders…

April 25, 2017

This field guide to dumb birds speaks some truth about birds and birders. It shows what happens when you take small children to the field. We had a golden-crowned kinglet putting on a show for us in our tepehuaje yesterday. I have many photos like the author’s.

Birth control and abortion

April 24, 2017

Pratima Gupta writes on being an obstretician and abortion provider while she is pregnant.

Nothing marks the change between traditional societies and the developed world so much as education and liberty of women. Three cheers for the Gates Foundation, helping to provide birth control education and services where it is most needed.

Absence of credibility

April 20, 2017

The armada Trump claimed to be sending to Korea in fact was headed to the Indian Ocean. It would be wrong to say that Trump lost credibility, given his known attachment to alt-reality. I cannot think of a past commander who succeeded by this:

Those two Trumpian tactics – a callous disregard for the truth and a determination to stay mum about future military plans – can easily combine into a misunderstanding that causes a trigger-happy regime to pull it.

Many liberals today are cheering O’Reilly’s departure from Fox News. I don’t see why. He grew rich over decades peddling lies and propaganda there. Trump’s rise would not have been possible without O’Reilly and Alex Jones and others who created the alt-reality their viewers inhabit. His departure represents no change in direction by that network. It signifies no slackening in demand for that product. He leaves at the peak of his career. There is no win here.

Don’t fence me in

April 19, 2017

Both Texans generally and those living on the border oppose Trump’s border wall. Perhaps, when they voted for Il Donald, they hated Obamacare even more?

The real and the crazy

April 18, 2017

In WW II, the German language BBC broadcasts became popular in Germany by providing the unvarnished truth. In the current US, outlets like Brietbart and Infowars are infamous for the conspiracy theories they circulate. Alex Jones ex-wife is quite reasonable to argue that Infowars provides prima facie evidence that her husband is delusional, paranoid, and unfit to be a custodial parent. His defense is that he practices performance art, presumably distinguishing between reality and the nonsense he feeds the rubes. Alas for us all, we are living under the regime that Alex Jones helped create.

Enforcement of belief

April 17, 2017

I long have wondered how many Americans who seem faithful Christians in the pew, or even the pulpit, secretly do not believe the doctrine their church peddles? It is easy to imagine a variety of motivations for that, not the least of which is what they fear it would do to their familial relationships. That said, I’m skeptical of the recent study by University of Kentucky psychologists that puts the number as high as 20%. The survey phrasing is bad and the methodology raises my eyebrow.

A chief function of the university is to foster the kind of personal dialogue that shakes loose the intellectual cobwebs. Universities can be little more than technical schools, in a barbaric society like Pakistan, where blasphemy is outlawed and where those who openly express apostasy or criticism of Islam risk being murdered. A mob recently killed a student at Abdul Wali Khan University, because his dorm room discussion strayed from the pious.

Update: One of the students who participated in the lynching clais the university encouraged it.

Healthy reefs have sharks?

April 14, 2017

As on land, it seems that apex predators modulate the biodiversity of a reef ecosystem, and are indicative of that.