This weekend, February 15 through 18, is the Great Backyard Bird Count. It's fun to participate, and I hope you will: you don't have to live out in the country, like we do, to be part of it. Anyone can join in.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.
You can count birds for as long or short a period of time as you wish during the four-day period. Count the highest number of birds of a species seen together at any one time and report it to the GBBC web site.
Why count birds?
Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.
To get an idea of what kind of information counting birds can give scientists, visit the GBBC site. It's fascinating.
Not sure about your bird identification skills? You can go here to improve your skills and learn a lot about birds.
Before we moved to our current home, I wasn't that interested in birds, but we've had so much pleasure in identifying the various species. And I think we would have had as much pleasure when we lived in town, had we bothered to try to identify species, and especially had we known of projects like the GBBC.
Do check out the photos on the site. They are incredible.
And here's something really cool: there's a place on line, eBird, where you can keep track of your bird finds any time. We find one or two new species during almost every one of the four seasons. A pair of binoculars is a great help--we thought there were nothing but finches on our thistle-seed sack, but in fact, a pair of binoculars revealed that a redpoll was among them.
How lovely it is that nature has provided us with such an amazing variety of life. How sad that so many of us never seem to notice. The Great Backyard Bird Count can help you notice.
These little confrontations always begin with a bored Sekhmet stirring up trouble with the inoffensive, innocently-lying-there Blixa. Good thing for her that Sekhmet's so fast, considering that Blixa is more than twice her weight ...
Well, that's the claim over on the Google group Atheism vs. Christianity. The guidelines "Tips to doing battle with evil atheists" also point out helpfully that (1) we non-believers are actual human beings, and (2) we are at least as moral as the believers we're arguing with.
Credit where credit is due: it's refreshing to see a site admit that non-believers don't commit any more crimes, nor engage in any more illicit sex, nor divorce, etc. etc., than Christians. That is rarely seen on the Internets.
Further, the guidelines also say that atheists will probably "thump" Christians in debate, and that atheists are often quite familiar with the Bible.
All of these things are well known to most atheists; why are they such revelations to so many Christians? It's not as if we just tossed a coin and said, "Okay, heads, we're atheists." We've thought about this stuff for a long time. We've debated in our heads and with other people. We've read. We've studied the Bible. And we conclude that the existence of a god just does not make sense and cannot be rationally justified.
I gotta say that when it comes to arguments against the existence of a god, I still love Why won't God heal amputees? Lots of food for thought there, and some pretty airtight arguments.
I'm going to say it up front: I am not a Hillary Clinton supporter. I don't like where she comes from: the 90s, NAFTA, the triangulation.
But I am sick to death of the sexist attacks against her. I am sick of the articles about women who detest her, usually for no reason that makes any sense to me, or of reports of how men hate her (see Chris Matthews). I hate it when women comment about her femininity, or lack thereof, or how they can't see her being maternal, or whatever.
This is a brilliant woman, a BRILLIANT woman, smarter than her husband (who was a Rhodes scholar at that, but I'd still say Hillary is smarter), a woman who mothered a child and who has served her country formally as First Lady and as Senator. A woman who has accomplished two things that too many people view as incompatible if not downright mutually exclusionary: being a mother, and being a public figure/civil servant. Or some other roles as well: being a First Lady, and being a very accomplished lawyer and aspirant to public service roles in her own right. Being the wife of a powerful man, and having ambitions to power of her own. It's high time we got past the idea that women "shouldn't" have such aspirations. They should, and they do, and Hillary is for goddess's sake more qualified than any of the GOP candidates in terms of presidential material.
So many of the gripes agains Hillary are completely rooted in sexism. We hear about her ambition: well, who the hell EVER ran for office who didn't have ambition? Or a healthy ego? I can't stand it. I'm going mad here, and I'm not even a Hillary supporter. Limbaugh and his ilk are particularly disgusting, but I see and hear it from all quarters.
I'll tell you right now, if Hillary wins the nomination, I'm undecided as to what I'll do: sit out the election, or vote for her. But it's not because of all the sexist reasons out there. I like her chutzpah, and I like her competence, experience, and and confidence. I just don't like her policies, but I'm not that sold on Obama's, either, nor do I see that much difference between the two. I don't like her stand on the Iraq War--I would say that's the biggest obstacle for me. But damn it, she is an extremely competent candidate, and I can't say I'd object to seeing a woman elected president in my lifetime.
I really just can't stand all the misogyny coming out of the woodwork with her candidacy. It really speaks ill of the body politic, the media, and American generally. Shame.