Pets

I don’t own any pet and I don’t intend to get one. I would only get a pet animal if I owned a sufficiently large plot of land, and that is not going to happen. In that case, however, I would maybe have a donkey (or a couple of them). I don’t know why, I have absolutely no idea why, but whenever I see donkeys, I am smitten :-). I somehow have a soft spot for them.

Other animals I like include Kakapos and Manatees. I hope we can manage to prevent them from going extinct (although I doubt that is going to happen). They cannot be kept as pets (better so), and the whole idea of having pets is a strange one, I think. It is a very strange phenomenon of our culture. Imagin coming into our culture as a visitor from a culture where the idea of pets does not exist…

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Daylight Saving Time

D.S.T. is a bizarre idea. Daylight becomes longer at the end, so we shift our daily schedule in a way that evening light becomes even longer than it already is. What nonsense! If anything, we should shift working schedules one hour into the other direction, so everybody could sleep out and one would still have daylight in the evening.

For those with a late chronotype (i.e. people tending to sleep late), D.S.T. makes a bad situation even worse. After serious health issues have been found to be possible results of “social jet lag”, the consequence should be to finally abolish D.S.T.

The Rule of the Dinosaurs

File:Berlin mauersegler schöneberg 24.07.2012 21-07-11.jpg

The dinosaurs are still on top of the food chain, in a way. I am sitting on my terrace, drinking my morning coffee and observing the swifts speeding along above me. They are descendants of theropod dinosaurs, so in a sense, they are dinosaurs. The mosquitos suck our blood and the swifts eat the mosquitos. So they are above us in the food chain, in some sense. And they still rule while the mammals are taking a little niche. Yesterday evening, I observed a small bat flying around in the garden, hunting mosquitoes as well. While the swifts are ruling the sky all day, in large numbers, that single bat comes out only for a short while at dusk, hiding away the rest of the day under the rim of the roof. That old pattern of pre-Chicxulub times, when the dinosaurs ruled and the mammals where confined to little niches, still survives here.

On hot days when barometric pressure is high, the swifts fly high up, obviously because the mosquitos do. The mosquitos cannot go up there to feed, so probably they do this to mate. If they would scatter all over three dimensions, their chance of meeting each other would become small, so probably they just stay at a height with a certain air pressure to be in one plane or relatively narrow slice or the air. That would increase their chances of finding each other. However, it also increases the chances of them being found by hunters like swifts and swallows. So there should be an evolutionary pressure to squeeze them together into one layer and another to let them spread Maybe several sub-populations could be separated into different layers. If one small group collects at a different level, they would have a higher chance not to be found by the swifts. They could then become genetically isolated from the rest of the population, eventually leading to another species.

Of course, these are just hypotheses. I don’t know if there is any research about these things.

A bunch of swifts dashes through the garden, with their characteristic calls.

What is the function of these sounds? To keep the bunch together, or to avoid collisions? Or both? What is the advantage for them to fly together? High up, where they hunt, they disperse over large areas. Maybe the presence of other swifts in a place is an indication of the presence of mosquitos, so if a swift is not inside a mosquito-rich part of space, it will fly towards other swifts, if it can see some; something that could be thought of as an attractive force whose strength depends on the density of the mosquito field. The sounds might then be warnings to avoid collisions, a repulsive force transmitted by the sounds of the calls. One would have to check if the birds only shout when they are closely together or approaching each other.

In any case, they are fascinating animals, the masters of the air. Up there, the dinosaurs are still ruling.

(The picture is from

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berlin_mauersegler_sch%C3%B6neberg_24.07.2012_21-07-11.jpg

The sound file is from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mauersegler.ogg

Also see http://asifoscope.org/2013/05/09/arrival-of-the-swifts/)

Blue Highways

Near my place, there is a public bookcase besides a playground, with a glass door on each side. People can put books inside if they don’t want them any more, and you can take books out. Sometimes, there are interesting books inside. You take a book you don’t know, its like going through a door into a room you did not know existed. You give chance a chance and turn a corner the other way. Yesterday, I found William Least Heat Moon’s “Blue Highways” inside. I like the book.

Nobody could invent such a book. Invented books are a function of the author’s pre-existing knowledge. But reality has more properties than what anybody knows, so a good non-fiction book can be much richer than any fiction.

I am a bit feeverish since yesterday and took sick-leave. But yesterday suddenly summer started. After a cold and cloudy may, the weather suddenly turned sunny, sky is blue without a cloude, and it is warm, even hot. Now I am sitting on my terrace, reading, following the author on his tour arround the USA, along small streets, watching as the author also is giving chance a chance, turning the other way, to go somewhere, again and again.

Circus Trucks

Standing at the red light, two trucks are passing, with the inscription: “Circus”. Loaded with what are obviously parts of a circus tent, these are the oldest trucks I have seen in many years. From the 1970s, I would say. Obviously, this circus is economically just surviving. The times when there was enough money to finance new trucks are long gone. So now, this whole circus, going from place to place, maybe depends on the skills of just one old mechanic who still knows how to keep these ageing trucks alife for another season.

A dying way of life, with barely a chance in the noisy world of the flickering web.

The red light turns green.

A Question (A Thought Experiment)

Imagine you could be reborn and live another life, “somewhen” in the past. You could choose when in the history of mankind you would be born (+ or – 10 years or so) and where (+ or – a hundred kilometers or so). You would not be able to control if you are born as male or female and what would be your social status.

Which time and place would you choose?