Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The weather is better but people are still pretty dumb.

Some are weatherwise and some are otherwise.
Ben Franklin 1706 - 1790

Necessity never made a good bargain.
There never was a good war or a bad peace.

Genius is nothing but a greater aptitude for patience.
Georges Louis Leclerc De Buffon 1707 - 1788

A decent provision for the poor is the truest test of a civilization.
Samuel Johnson 1709 - 1784

Depend on it sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

I wonder if this could be employed as a study aide some how? And last from Samuel:

I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you an understanding.

This world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel.
Horace Walpole 1717 - 1797

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke 1729 - 1777

When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.
Thomas Paine 1743 - 1809

The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have government without newspapers, or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Thomas Jefferson 1743 - 1829

Pretty good for a guy with the Sally Hemmings “problem”. I’ve said that context be damned; hypocracy is hypocracy and if you can't see it it’s probably because you’re a hypocrite.

To teach is to learn twice.
Ask the young: they know everything.
Joseph Joubert 1754 - 1824

Boy! If this little sarcasm isn’t one of the verities of life, I don’t know what is. Now, if it were only possible to realize the truth of this prior to middle age. But then of course it wouldn’t be true any more. It’s kind of like those puzzles about people on the island that always lie or always tell the truth. Reality flip flops because the a priori conditions affect the perceptions you need in order to solve the problem. A lot of time is spent trying to solve what we think is the right problem. But we often work on something only related to the problem.

RTP: Read The Problem.
Ralph Edmund Bolgiano

Good advice for me when I very impatiently jumped to all kinds of conclusions as to appropriate strategies. Hierarchical levels of organization are too much for most of us. We protest and resist the solution on one level because we like to jump a few levels and assail our debate opponent with, “Oh Yeah, but what about the price of eggs in China?” Many of the debates (arguements) I read in the news employ "Toddler Logic":

I didn't do it. It wasn't that bad. He did first.

Life can be understood backward; but must be lived forwards.


The time travel paradox is an example of a “eudox”: I understand that if you could go back in time and kill yourself (or your father), you couldn’t go back into time and kill anybody. And as much as I appreciate the advantages of logical “thought experiments” as Einstein called them. I have a little trouble with a system of thought being the only thing to stop a physical action (Yeah yeah, I know the Theory of relativity holds that approaching the speed of light makes you infinitely short and infinitely massive - but it starts with the premise that you can’t exceed the speed of light so the “proofs” are tautologies). So I guess I’m not as rational as I’d like think I am. It rankles a bit to go from Einstein’s cosmos all the way back to Aristotle for the stopper. Now if logical paradox of rational word usage can keep us from physically going back into time, in mathematics, why do irrational numbers (like pi) and imaginary numbers (square roots of negatives) have any utility? And if the Big Bang happened, there was a time before time (without space there can’t be the time it takes to cross it) when there were no rules (or least, rules that have no “Logical” reason to have any connection to the rules we’re using to think about this question). What was the question? That’s the problem with the thought experiment, rigorous logic gets confusing at the point at which you interject a “wild hair/hare”, one of those “just for the sake of argument” kind of assumptions. Most of us just can’t keep our thought processes straight in this world, much less in an altered or hypothetical universe. And this is a way of seeing where it’s all going? So it slips into mysticism. If you feel it’s true but can’t prove it, it’s either religion or mysticism. To quote John Stockton during his campaign for the vice-presidency: “ What am I doing here?” Which is a larger question that it seems; and the next guy thinks he has some answers.

William Blake 1757 - 1827

To see a World in a grain of Sand, and a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the Palm of you hand And Eternity in an Hour.

I fervently hope that everyone has had such a moment in their lives; more importantly, I hope that they remember it, and cherish it, and believe in it. I hope that they haven’t refused to remember the “dream truth” quality of those times that are outside of time (and therefore space), when we see things differently. Certainly sometimes they’re visions that have danger and can cause harm; I don’t engage the man talking to God in the street. But that doesn’t mean that he’s not experiencing a life far richer than those who can’t see anything but the dirt beneath their feet.

We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Moderation in all things.
Publius Terentius Afer 190 - 159 BC

The golden mean is great, but how do you know what moderation is if you’ve never seen excess? I guess that I’m advocating:

There is moderation even in excess.
Benjamin Disraeli 1804 - 1881

“Wisdom through excess.” My friend Jimmy used to say. At least in moderation.... By that I mean we don’t have to take the elevator all the way to the top or bottom, but we shouldn’t be afraid to at least peek into the basement and the top floor at least a time or two. So here we have the LSD, mescaline, or psilocybin experience. So many people (especially those who know nothing about it have made it their business to tell us about the drug experience. The Partnership for a Drug Free American is a great example. Listen to their ads:

When she read her first book she read it to me. When talk of the birds and the bees went around she came to me for advice. So why didn’t she come to me when someone offered her a joint?


Another group of poor souls addicted to “drug money”. And I refuse to subscribe to the cop-out of blaming the bad parts of a drug experience on the drug. It’s all inside you already. The exalted highs and the abysmal lows. It’s just a pill! The rest is in your head from the totality of your life. The Partnership folks want to blame all our troubles on the drug. I prefer the person who takes the drug. So for those that are shocked, I have to rely on another of the thoughts of Thomas Hobbes:

The secret thoughts of man run over all things, holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave, and light, without shame or blame.

I guess my definition of “sin” (and especially those things that deserve to be illegal) doesn’t include the “victimless” crimes, or “dirty thought” for that matter. I fail to feel guilty about dreams in which I commit adultery with Lamia, or engage in ... whatever. And I reserve the right to think about these things when not in the dream state. It is so much more reasonable to contemplate having seen the underlying microstructure of a leaf in its veins or the roots of a mountain in the texture of its hollows and trees, all with a little (50 micrograms!) help from LSD. Even if the "AH HA! I SEE!" moment doesn’t last after those 1000 or so molecules have been pissed away. I know that it was all possible within the 150 pounds of molecules which are ME. Back to Blake:

A Truth that’s told with bad intent, Beats all the lies you can invent.

Prisons are built of Stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.

Not only a visionary, but a cynic (I like that in a person) with a poet’s flair. Here is Friedrick Von Schiller again:

Whatever is not forbidden is permitted.

A very important principal. And one that has been ignored by tyrants thorough out history, and recently as well. I’m reminded of the case in the 1980’s were a US citizen constructed a hydroelectric power plant on his property (refurbished an old grist mill). The issue came up as to whether he should be allowed to tie into the power grid (selling his electricity at wholesale and buying it back at retail). An electrical power company executive opined that he didn’t think that it was LEGAL for private citizens to generate electricity! Fortunately, Judge Ito wasn’t presiding, and the obvious answer came back. “What?” The judge cleared that up for the power guy. As a matter of fact Virginia has some of the better regulations (and lack thereof) concerning home power generation. . I’m selling electricity to the Shenandoah Valley Electrical Coop right this minute. But as I understand it, there is a cap on the percentage of electricity in the grid that can be produced (and therefore purchased from) private citizens… Better get your PV panels while there's still time. You might have to GIVE your excess electricity away (or purposely waste it) if you’re too late. Let’s get that regulation changed; what do you say?

Mating Call Modification

Whippoorwill (Caprimulgus vociferous) Behavior in response to a mimicking device in Rockingham County: Submission to The North American Ornithicalogicial Society.

Electronic file last modified on 25 January 1997.

‑‑The original was printed in a single column with lines of 78 characters or less, but it has been converted to lines of 75 characters or less to show better how esoteric we can be.


Whippoorwill (Caprimulgus vociferous) Behavior in response to a mimicking device in Rockingham County in 1997.

CITATION: REDACTED 1997. Whippoorwill Behavior in response to a mimicking device in Rockingham County in 1997. Journal of North American Ornithocalogical Society.

Ornithology 11:511‑523.

Acknowledgments‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑-‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ 617
Literature Cited‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑-‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ 613

The purpose of this paper is to provide results of experiments into the Behavior of a Whippoorwill (Caprimulgus vociferus) during oral mating display in Rockingham County

Approx. Center of Site: 38 37' 10" N, 78 56' 51" W
Singers Glen, Virginia USGS 7.5 minute Quadrangle:
Location: Fulks Run International Airport
Area Studied: Former domicile of the author, the site of a ratty old trailer.
Habitat(s) Studied: Graveled area (Limestone crushed rock, size #5/8) near the author's bedroom window
Elevation: 1377 ft ASL (416 m)
Minimum Distance to Ridge top (ASL approx. 2000): 1 mi (0.6 km).

Behavior(s) Studied: Male mating enticement display station.


A landscaped area (formerly the site of a trailer, definitely NOT a mobile home) appears to represent the all time ideal site for Male whippoorwills' enticement display.
During the early summer (June 22 through June 26) of 1997, starting at 10:02 PM (a) male whippoorwill(s) perched on a bench and conducted his enticement display. The call was measured at 85 db at a distance of 30 feet (8.5 m) in a frequency range of 440 to 1360 MHz, with an average repetition cadence of 0.8 seconds, and an uninterrupted duration of 2 hours and 16 minutes. A similar performance was repeated in the AM hours of the following morning, starting at 02:37 and continuing for 2 hours and 31 minutes.

Several consecutive nights of this behavior prompted the author to seek relief from the mating call by means of whippoorwill behavior modification. The afternoon of 26 June 1997, he obtained a "mimicking device" also known as a mechanical talking "parrot". This device is a nine (9) volt DC sound activated recording and play-back mechanism embedded in an imitation "feathered" puppet designed to represent a "talking" bird. The sounds, or calls, repeated by the device are recordings of the sounds that activate the devise, they are modified in both frequency and cadence rate. Frequencies and cadence rate are elevated by a factor of 1.0627. Description of puppet: Length: 36 cm, wingspan: 32 cm, pelage: back, blue, wings green, red, and yellow, breast: white, tail feathers (3): yellow, green, and red (each one solid color). Eyes: blue, feet yellow. Legs: very short (like the whippoorwill). Bill: very large, approximately 4 inches (10 cm) bright yellow. Genus and species unknown, possibly meant to represent a toucan.


Unfortunately, observations were unsatisfactory because of sleep deprivation. The first several nights the author had resorted to throwing handfuls of gravel (limestone, size #5/8) at the bird. Previous experience (two years ago) had illustrated the futility of fire arms (see JOO 3:321-315), prompted the author to experiment with alternative measures. Thus, data are only estimates of reality. (See sleep deprivation studies, JOP, 1990, 4:255-259).

The evening of June 26, 1997, a whippoorwill arrived at the mating display location at 09:54PM. The whippoorwill began his mating call (measurements: 85 db at a distance of 30 feet (8.5 m) in a frequency range of 450 to 1360 MHz, with a repetition cadence of 1.2 seconds, nearly identical to those previously recorded on June 25, 1997. Duration however was affected by the response of the mimicking device. The whippoorwill ceased his calls for a period of 5.6 seconds (possibly the time it took for him to try and figure out what the f**k was happening). The whippoorwill resumed his mating call and the mimicking device activated and responded with the afore mentioned cadence and frequency modifications. The whippoorwill responded to the mimicking device by modifying his calls. The whipporrwill calls were measured at 92 db at a distance of 30 feet (8.5 m) in a frequency range of 472 to 1430 MHz. At no time did the whippoorwill mimic the “AUWWKKK!” that the “parrot” interjects at the beginning of each new recording. Duration of this "enhanced" mating call lasted for 1 hour and 22 minutes, when it was terminated by the experimenter's intervention (thrown gravel [again, limestone, size # 5/8] that’s all I can find at this time of night and you can hurt your arm trying to throw it violently).

The author theorizes that the stubborn insistence of the whippoorwill counteracts the “parrot’s” ability to reset and therefore rerecord the “enhanced” display characteristics. Were this not the case, both parot and whippoorwill would have likey ramped up in frequency and cadence beyond the point of human hearing. Perhaps to the point they’d both explode (one can only wish).

After removal of the mimicking device, mating displays were observed to recommence after periods of time as short as 20 seconds after gravel was thrown. Mating calls loudness, frequencies, and cadence, returned to previously recorded levels following additional gravel throwing incidents at 11:18 PM, 11:21 PM, 11:25 PM, and 11:26 PM. Presumably, duration would have also been unaffected by the experiment, had the experimenter possessed the patience to test it (have YOU ever heard a whippoorwill when you’re trying to sleep?).

Following is a representation of the above results in table form:

(Table 1); Apologies to those who do not have the requisite software)

Further study of affects on duration are needed, however, observation effort and methods were inadequate to properly document results on this occasion. Others, (Boekelheide and Ainley 1989, Boekelheide et al. 1990a) have noted the persistence of the mating display (after all, the species name IS vociferus! Scott (1973:23) noted that the rate of return to mating display calls is more than 8 times more rapid than the rate at which frogs return to normal behavior after disturbance (gravel throwing, geogenesis and size unknown). Does this mean that FROGS are smarter than whippoorwills? And will you tell me why a bird that screams “HERE I AM, HERE I AM” a thousand times an hour isn’t eaten by some self respecting owl or fox or something?


Mating call resumption intervals, whippoorwills. sub colony.

Seconds duration with
Site SC delay Date mpts Young Source
Parnassas A 45 8/9/1991 70+ 1.56+ ? Fawley 1973) *
Parnassas B 10 8/3/1983 19 ? 1.90 Fawley (in prep.)
Breiry Branch A 42 8/3/1983 19 0.45 ? This Paper
Briery Branch B 52 8/3/1983 16 0.31 ? This Paper
Briery Branch C 69 8/3/1983 2 0.03 ? This Paper
Rawley Sp. 84 7/17/1983 49 0.58 1.23 **

** Tesh (1973:9, 23) did not appear to make an intensive effort to measure resumption rate (due to use of shot gun). Thus, Tesh's (1973) data may underestimate the tenacity of C. vociferus.

** Graybill and Hodder (1985:206) list 84 total tests, but Hodder and Graybill (1985:538) lists 82 attempts; the mean value for duration/gravel throws in Hodder and Graybill (1985) is correct if sigma is less than 2.05.

I am grateful to Ray Tesh for the lone of the mimicking device. And I am most grateful to Eric Gadberry for the gift of the shot gun; the only strategy that appears to have any effect on Caprimulgus vociferous. However, the nearly instantaneous replacement of the “dead” whippoorwill with a replacement male bird, convinced me that even though I was willing to kill the first whippoorwill on Cross Mountain, I was not willing to kill the last whippoorwill on Cross Mountain. We live and we learn; unless we happen to be particularly stupid Texans. In which case; God help us all.

Literature Cited:
Ainley, D. G. 1990. Farallon WHIPPOORWILLS: patterns at the community level. Pp. 339‑380 in Ainley, D. G. and R. J. Boekelheide (Eds.). 1990.
Whippoorwills, stupidity, ecology, dynamics, and structure of
an upwelling system community. Stanford Univ. Press.
Boekelheide, R. J. and D. G. Ainley. 1989.
Age, resource availability, and idiotic brain-dead birds. Auk 106:389‑401.
Boekelheide, R. J., D. G. Ainley, S. H. Morrell, and T. J. Lewis. 1990a. Whippoorwills. Pp. 163‑194 in D. G. Ainley and R. J. Boekelheide (Eds.). 1990. Bird brains of the North American Continent: ecology, dynamics, and structure birds that are dumber than frogs. Stanford Univ. Press.
Tesh, R. F., Boekelheide, R. J., D. G. Ainley, H. R. Huber, and T. J. Lewis. 1990b.
Effects of #6 bird shot on stupid whippoorwills. Pp. 195‑217 in D. G. Ainley and R. J. Boekelheide (Eds.). 1990. Whippoorwills of the Farallon Islands: ecology, dynamics, and structure of an incredibly stupid bird. Stanford Univ. Press.
Graybill, M. R. and J. Hodder. 1985. Effects of the 1982‑1983 El Nino on reproduction of six species of Caprimulgidae in Virginia. Pp. 205‑210 in W. S. Wooster and D. L. Fluharty, eds. El Nino North: Nino effects in the Eastern North America. Small International Airport Grant Program, Univ. Maryland, College Park, Md..
Hodder, J. and M. R. Graybill. 1985. Reproduction and survival of birds that got "blowed-up" during the 1982‑1983 El Nino. Condor 87:535‑541.
Scott, J. M. 1973. Resource allocation in four species of Caprimulgidae. Ph.D. Thesis, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis.

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