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Name: Paul
Gender: Male
Hometown: Florida
Home country: USA
Member since: Wed Mar 31, 2010, 03:20 PM
Number of posts: 2,887

Journal Archives

You're conflating Muslim with Islam

A Muslim is a human being. Islam is a religion. Muslims generally are decent people, like most everybody else in this world. I see no reason to like Islam. It's a religion and it holds humanity back – the same with Judaism and Christianity. All religions are based on myths.

Usually it's the bigots that make this mistake and use their excessive hatred of Islam as an excuse to hate Muslims. Now that's bigotry, and usually it's cover for racism. Often these same people have a difficult time understanding why our aggressive wars against Muslims are evil and wrong, but they then blame Muslims for allegedly being so violent. These bigots aren't self-aware.

In the big picture, Muslims are less inclined towards violence than average.

With a selective memory and a biased look at current events many people claim they are more violent. But we are the nation that has a very bad record of committing terrible violence against Muslims, far more than the violence they have committed against us. That is consistent with recent history throughout the Western and Muslim World.

Barrack Obama is right.


Whenever the subject of Islamist terrorism comes up, the national conversation almost always circles back to a somewhat bigoted question: are Muslims more violent than other kinds of people because of their religion?

What these conversations usually lack is data; that is, evidence that Muslim societies are actually more violent than other ones. And it turns out, according to UC-Berkeley Professor M. Steven Fish, that judging by murder rates, people in Muslim-majority countries actually tend to be significantly less violent (bolding is mine):

Predominantly, Muslim countries average 2.4 murders per annum per 100,000 people, compared to 7.5 in non-Muslim countries. The percentage of the society that is made up of Muslims is an extraordinarily good predictor of a country's murder rate. More authoritarianism in Muslim countries does not account for the difference. I have found that controlling for political regime in statistical analysis does not change the findings. More Muslims, less homicide.


30 Worst Atrocities of the 20th Century

Nonsense: the alarmists have been saying this stuff for years

and such predictions of future AI capabilities have always been way off. In a hundred years from now the alarmist will still be saying this stuff. AI is not going to take us over.

Computers are electronic machines that operate as designed. They are not going to become conscious by accident, or ever. Without consciousness, the computers will have no capability to give a shit about anything, so they are not going to take over the world.

Consciousness evolved through millions of years of evolution to allow nature to create complex animated critters. Without the positive and negative feelings we experience, such as emotions and pain, the computer will have no way to create fully independent thought. It will still be a machine, because, only through feelings do we think, do, learn, remember, choose, and care.

We have no clue how we are conscious, and probably never will, so we are not in any way going to make computers conscious by accident.

Viera Wetlands, central Florida

I needed some exercises, so my favorite place to go is Viera Wetlands to get some exercise and watch the birds. I visited last evening.


I don't usually visit late in the day, but the few times I have, I have particularly enjoyed the visit.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Tricolored Heron


Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal



Snowy Egret actively feeding

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

American Bittern


Caspian Tern

Cattle Egret

Pied-billed Grebes with American Coot

Osama explained that 9-11 was in revenge for actions and policies of US and Israel,

including Israel's destruction of towers in Lebanon.


So I shall talk to you about the story behind those events and shall tell you truthfully about the moments in which the decision was taken, for you to consider.

I say to you, Allah knows that it had never occurred to us to strike the towers. But after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the American/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.

The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American Sixth Fleet helped them in that. This bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorised and displaced.

I couldn't forget those moving scenes, blood and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high rises demolished over their residents, rockets raining down on our home without mercy....

And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children....

This means the oppressing and embargoing to death of millions as Bush Sr did in Iraq in the greatest mass slaughter of children mankind has ever known, and it means the throwing of millions of pounds of bombs and explosives at millions of children - also in Iraq - as Bush Jr did, in order to remove an old agent and replace him with a new puppet to assist in the pilfering of Iraq's oil and other outrages.

So with these images and their like as their background, the events of September 11th came as a reply to those great wrongs, should a man be blamed for defending his sanctuary?

Is defending oneself and punishing the aggressor in kind, objectionable terrorism? If it is such, then it is unavoidable for us.

I very much remember in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan ordered the battleship USS New Jersey, stationed off the Lebanese coast, to bombard the hills near Beirut in retaliation for US Marine getting bombed in their barracks. So the US supported Israel in it's disastrous invasion of Lebanon and then sent in the Marines, allegedly as peace keepers. Reagan then murdered random Lebanese in revenge for their deaths. I hated Reagan for that.

Minnesota Birding

I just spent a month on vacation, mostly in Minnesota. I was gone from the middle of October to the middle of November. I made some bird recordings, and took pictures while I was at it.

Spruce Grouse female

Black-backed Woodpecker male

Snow Bunting

There aren't a huge number of birds in Minnesota in late fall, but the quality is good. Birds such as the Great Gray Owl, Spruce Grouse, Pine Grosbeak, White-winged Crossbill, Common Redpoll, Snow Bunting, Northern Goshawk, Golden Eagle, Northern Shrike, and Boreal Chickadee are some of the good possibilities. I got many of them.

Leaving my home in central Florida, my first stop was at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in western Kentucky, on October 8.

I spent much of the day hiking around there. Behind the nature center there were quite a few Red-headed Woodpeckers, more than I've ever seen at one place. Here are a couple of recordings I made of the Red-headed Woodpeckers there:


Blue Jay and Tufted Titmouse also on recording

I then headed to Cone Marsh State Wildlife Management Area in eastern Iowa to bird on October 9.

I was soon rewarded with an unexpected lifer, which is one more lifer than I expected on the whole trip: Eurasian Tree Sparrows:

It's not the most exciting bird, but I didn't think I'd ever see this countable introduced bird.

On October 11, after sleeping through cold night in my car (like almost every other night) I birded Blue Mounds State Park in far SW Minnesota.

I recorded these Ring-necked Pheasants in the grasslands there:


After birding for a while, I headed north up western Minnesota. It was rather windy, which makes it impossible to make any decent recordings, plus it was dry so there weren't nearly as many birds as I saw in my fall Minnesota trip fifteen years earlier.

The next day on October 12 I visited Felton Prairie in western Minnesota:


It was very windy, but I did manage to get this distant shot of a Greater Prairie-Chicken:

Due to the wind, and the bad weather forecast, I decided to head to the Duluth area earlier than I planned. Shortly after leaving Felton Prairie I did see a flock of Gray Partridges:

I then spent the following few weeks birding near Duluth and areas north of there.

I made a few stops at Hawk Ridge on East Skyline Parkway, Duluth:


This is one of the best places in the US to see migrating raptors in the fall:

Up until the 1950's this was a favorite spot for the local gun nuts to shoot the raptors flying over. A local birder fought to get them to stop. Duluth bought the land and outlawed the slaughter.

A lot of Bald Eagles passed by during my visits, but like the other raptors, they were mostly very distant. It all depends on the wind direction where they pass over the ridge:

Adult Bald Eagle

Immature Bald Eagle

I recorded this Bald Eagle at nearby Wisconsin Point in Wisconsin:

Before sunrise, when I just woke up, I took this picture near Wisconsin Point, Wisconsin:

When I first arrived the fall colors were great. This is a view of Duluth and Lake Superior from Hawk Ridge:

At Hawk Ridge, this immature Northern Goshawk had the courtesy to fly close by on a day that all of the other raptors were very distant:

North of Duluth, near Hibbing, Sax-Zim Bog area is another popular birding area, more so in the winter and the breeding season (around June.)



Scene on Owl Avenue not far from the Sax-Zim Bog Welcome Center (open in winter only)

Some people have put bird food out at the Sax-Zim Welcome Center. American Tree Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco were there:
American Tree Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

On the way home I recorded this Dark-eyed Junco at Great Smoky Mountain National Park, NC:

This Sharp-tailed-Grouse is one of eight birds I saw that are easy to find on private land in the Sax-Zim Bog area, if you know the spot:

I recorded this from the same Sharp-tailed-Grouse flock, at sunrise. Three of them were doing a little dancing:

I found this Ruffed Grouse by driving the roads in the Sax-Zim Bog area:

I also found this Gray Jay by driving the roads in the Sax-Zim Bog area:

I made these Gray Jay recordings there also:


brief strong snow flurry in the Sax-Zim area (McDavitt Road) on 30 October while looking for Great Gray Owl that are in the area (not seen)

about ten minutes later the snow had completely stopped

I drove back and forth on the highway along Lake Superior's north shore a couple of time between Duluth and areas north-east:

visiting the Two Harbors Lighthouse one day:

I spent quite a bit of time in the Gunflint Trail area (Hwy 12), north of Grand Marais.


Just like fifteen years ago, for my first stop, I traveled down the same dirt road to search for Spruce Grouse in the Gunflint Trail area. And just like fifteen years ago, I found a female Spruce Grouse within a couple minutes:

female Spruce Grouse

I recorded this Boreal Chickadee very near the same spot, but I never saw one on this trip:

For comparison, also in the Gunflint Trail area, I recorded these Black-capped Chickadees along with Red-breasted Nuthatches (tin horn calls) in a flock:

From same flock, I took these pictures of a Black-capped Chickadee:

and a Red-breasted Nuthatch:

On the way home, for comparison, I recorded the similar sounding White-breasted Nuthatch at Mammoth Cave National Park, KY: https://soundcloud.com/paul-wm/white-breasted-nuthatch
Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Blue Jay heard in background

Also on the way home, I took this picture of a White-breasted Nuthatch in a park in Tennessee

In the Gunflint Trail area I was searching for Snow Buntings at a large open spot where I saw a number of them several days before. At first I couldn't find any, but then one found me: it was very close and it was walking my way. I followed it closely, taking pictures. It then spotted another Snow Bunting (better company than me) flying overhead, so it flew up to greet it. They both returned near me. I quickly grabbed my microphone and recorded most of the action:

Here are the Snow Buntings after they returned together:

Very near where I slept in my car in the Gunflint Trail area, one early morning I saw this male Spruce Grouse with a couple of females:

He flew into a tree:

spruce forest by this Spruce Grouse

Also near where I slept, one afternoon, I saw this Ruffed Grouse standing under a small tree where the top had toppled over, creating an arch:

The Ruffed Grouse was unhappy I walked by and it made some calls as it slowly walked off:

A few miles away, I photographed this Gray Jay:

I recorded this Purple Finch nearby (Purple Finch mostly vocalized early in the recording):
Also heard are Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Pine Siskin faintly.

Nearby, I photographed this female Spruce Grouse along a trail, the exact same spot I saw a male Spruce Grouse a couple days before:

She made these calls, but she still didn't move away from the water on the trail despite the fact I was standing at close range taking pictures:

After being away from the Gunflint Trail area for a few days, this is what I came back to:

The brief snow flurry I had at Sax-Zim was much more than brief up here. The roads are icy in spots.

My car thermometer read 13 degrees early in the morning (31 October), the coldest night there. But I slept fine with plenty of blankets in my car.

I quickly found this male Spruce Grouse when I started birding on November 1

male Spruce Grouse

male Spruce Grouse

When I returned back down this trail shortly after, this female Spruce Grouse had joined him:

female Spruce Grouse

The last place I visited in Minnesota was Isabella Lake, near Ely, in northern Minnesota:

burned forest near Isabella Lake

Red Fox in the Isabella Lake area

Black-backed Woodpeckers are easy to find in the burned forest there:

In third picture the Black-backed Woodpecker got his meal.

Black-backed Woodpecker calls and tapping recorded in this burn area: https://soundcloud.com/paul-wm/black-backed-woodpecker
He made a couple of grating flight calls also, Common Redpolls called in background

The normally rare Black-backed Woodpeckers were more common than the Hairy Woodpeckers in the burn area (Black-backed Woodpeckers favorite habitat.) Hairy Woodpeckers were the second most common woodpeckers in the burned forest:

Hairy Woodpecker near Isabella Lake

I recorded this Hairy Woodpecker pair in the Sax-Zim Bog area: https://soundcloud.com/paul-wm/hairy-woodpecker

There were some flocks of Common Redpolls around the burn area:

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

I recorded these (from a flock of four Common Redpolls) in the burn area:

I recorded these Common Redpolls on the trail from Park Point to Minnesota Point in Duluth. There were a dozen in a tree and two dozen more flew over. The Common Redpolls in the tree called (the two dozen flying over heard in background) and then they join the others in flight:

I put out bird seed on the parking spot by the bridge near Isabella Lake (bridge marked on the map above)

The Snow Buntings discovered it quickly:

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

There were several Lapland Longspurs with the Snow Buntings:
Lapland Longspur

At the same spot a few Gray Jays were feeding on a small animal carcass:

After only being in the Isabella Lake area for two days, it started snowing. I wanted to stay longer, but I was seventeen miles from the highway and I didn't want to take chances, so I left and started heading home:
Isabella Lake area snow

I did pretty good in Minnesota and saw and heard some nice birds. Other birds included: Golden Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, Pine Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, and Northern Hawk Owl (second lifer.)

On the way home I stopped at Congaree Swamp National Park in South Carolina. It was a very birdy area. This Pileated Woodpecker was working on this small branch:
Pileated Woodpecker

Here is a recording of this Pileated Woodpecker tapping and chopping down the small branch. One of the two Pileated Woodpeckers on the tree briefly called once in recording, otherwise it's all tapping: https://soundcloud.com/paul-wm/pileated-woodpecker

Here's a calling Pileated Woodpecker I recorded at the Gunflint Trail, MN area, near where I slept: https://soundcloud.com/paul-wm/pileated-woodpecker-1

My last stop before I got home was at Bull Island, South Carolina: http://www.bullsislandferry.com/

I took the ferry over and spent the day there on November 11. I took this picture of some American Alligators blocking a trail. I didn't pass:

I'm not in Minnesota anymore.

My microphone malfunctioned so I lost most of my recordings at Bull Island.

Now, unfortunately, I'm back home - though my area in central Florida is nice.

Florida Beach Birding: Playalinda Beach

Playalinda Beach: https://www.google.com/maps/place/28%C2%B039'44.8%22N+80%C2%B038'10.8%22W/@28.662456,-80.636345,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0?hl=en

Fall migration is a good time to head to the beach. On weekdays there aren't a lot of people there and the birds are moving through in good numbers. Plus the birds are relatively easy to photograph in the open on the beach. I feel like I'm cheating taking pictures there.

Wilson's Plover: I'm always pleased to see a Wilson's Plover which are scarce around here

Wilson's Plover

Wilson's Plover

Red Knot

Black-bellied Plover




Ruddy Turnstone

I tend to take a lot of tern pictures, and here are more of them:

Black Tern

Black Tern

Black Tern

Sandwich Terns with a few Common Terns & a Laughing Gull

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern with a fish to feed its youngster

Sandwich Tern adult feeding its youngster: it appears the youngsters migrate south with their parents. Sandwich Terns don't breed around here.

Common Tern

Common Tern flying over Black Tern

Royal Tern

If Israel can claim self defense against a population that it is brutalizing and severely oppressing

then what are the Palestinians allowed to do to defend themselves?

Since the Israeli government and IDF are supported by the vast majority of Israeli voters, it appears that Israel has a target rich environment. There are lots of military institutions and government offices. Plus, since it seems that Israel has granted itself the right to obliterate entire neighborhoods, there are a lot of nice neighborhoods in Israel that could really be tempting to obliterate along with ambulances and future refugee centers, because the IDF are everywhere. When they are done, the Palestinians can then set up a brutal apartheid regime. That sounds about fair. All people are created equal, and all that stuff.

The Palestinians are a million times more justified in attacking Israel than the other way around, but strangely that is not how things work. The racist hypocrites wouldn't tolerate what they support against the Palestinians.

Tunnels everywhere:

It's weird how out of the innumerable crimes Israel commits against the Palestinians

I don't hear any of the war mongers claim the Palestinians have a right to level Israeli cities and murder Israeli children. But the war mongers look so hard to find any action by the Palestinians, in the background of the numerous abuses by Israel that take place every day, that can justify mass murder against the very same Palestinians. I find it very sickening.

Israel Creates ‘No Man’s Land’ in Gaza, Shrinking Strip by 40 Percent


BEIT HANOUN, Gaza — This narrow strip of land that used to be called “the Gaza Strip,” already one of the more densely populated places on Earth, is growing dramatically smaller. The Israeli military, relentlessly and methodically, is driving people out of the 3-kilometer (1.8 mile) buffer zone it says it needs to protect against Hamas rockets and tunnels. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the buffer zone eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.

What that means on the ground is scenes of extraordinary devastation in places like the Al Shajaya district approaching Gaza’s eastern frontier, and Beit Hanoun in the north. These were crowded neighborhoods less than three weeks ago. Now they have been literally depopulated, the residents joining more than 160,000 internally displaced people in refuges and makeshift shelters. Apartment blocks are fields of rubble, and as I move through this hostile landscape the phrase that keeps ringing in my head is “scorched earth.”

It’s not like Israel didn’t plan this. It told tens of thousands of Palestinians to flee so its air force, artillery and tanks could create this uninhabitable no-man’s land of half-standing, burned-out buildings, broken concrete and twisted metal. During a brief humanitarian ceasefire some Gazans were able to come back to get their first glimpse of the destruction this war has brought to their communities, and to sift through their demolished homes to gather clothes or other scattered bits of their past lives. But many were not even able to do that.

When Rania Haels got within 60 feet of the debris that was once her family home in Al Shajaya on Saturday, a machine-gun on top of a nearby Israeli Merkava tank started firing. Probably these were warning shots pumped in her direction, but the 42-year-old mother of seven ran for her life. Now she stays with her family in an overcrowded parking garage in Gaza City and spends her days sitting in a public park full of refugees displaced by the Israeli push. Normally these would be festive times, the end of Ramadan is at hand and celebrations akin in spirit to Christmas festivities are beginning. But holidays have a way of intensifying tragedy. There is no place for Haels’ family to gather to give gifts and eat Palestinian sweets. There is, in fact, no place for them at all.

More ethnic cleansing against an already ethnically cleansed and imprisoned population.
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