Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday parrot update

Kianga is still sitting very tightly on her eggs. Once again, she stopped at two: the second one was laid about September 25 and was, as usual, smaller than the first. I am going to let her sit for 10-14 more days until she gets it out of her system. Fortunately, though she has been somewhat less interactive, she has not lost her sense of humor, as she still talks and laughs and makes rude noises at us, in the evenings especially. The rest of the time, however, she looks very serious and tries to make herself look as scary as possible to anyone trying to attend to "trivial" things like food, water, and cage cleaning!

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Dr. Watson finds himself in deep doo-doo with other scientists:
There is wide agreement among researchers on intelligence that genetic inheritance influences mental acuity, but there is also wide agreement that life experiences, even in the womb, exert a powerful influence on brain structure. Further, there is wide disagreement about what intelligence consists of and how — or even if — it can be measured in the abstract.

For example, in “The Mismeasure of Man,” Stephen Jay Gould, the evolutionary biologist, dismissed “the I.Q. industry” as little more than an effort by men of European descent to maintain their prominence in the world.

Nevertheless, Dr. Watson, 79, is hardly the first eminent researcher to assert that inherited characteristics like skin color are correlated to intelligence and that people of African descent fall short. For example, William B. Shockley, a Nobel laureate for his work with transistors, in later life developed ideas of eugenics based on the supposed intellectual inferiority of blacks.

His ideas were greeted with scorn, and Dr. Watson is encountering a similar reaction. According to the BBC, the Science Museum of London canceled a speech Dr. Watson was to have given there today, saying that much as it supports robust discussion of controversial ideas, Dr. Watson’s assertions on race and intelligence are “beyond the point of acceptable debate.”

Henry Kelly, president of the Federation of American Scientists, a private group that works to bring science to policy making, said it was “tragic that one of the icons of modern science has cast such dishonor on the profession.” (emphasis added)

Dr. Kelly, I could not agree more.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Trip blogging

I am visiting my parents and took a few photos when I went for a walk yesterday. I just walked around the "block" (which down here is about 2 1/2 miles).

Here is one of the ubiquitous ground beetles. I find them amusing, because they are always walking around with their hind-parts up in the air.

On the next lot west of my parents' I disturbed a cottontail from the spot it had been resting. It scrambled out and then stopped, waiting to see what I would do. I took a few pictures, but as soon as I started walking again, it ran off.

There were also a couple of jackrabbits, but they never stopped to let me take a picture. While I was walking I also noted an abundance of red ant mounds. These mounds can be found every several feet wherever the ground is soft enough for them to excavate. The opening to their nest if off to one side of this mound, which is made up of a very uniform size of gravel. I suppose every ant returns with a piece (several times larger than the ants are) periodically and adds it to the mound. Over time, they can get fairly large, like this one.