Some interesting things elsewhere IX

So here we are back with another edition of ‘Some interesting things elsewhere’, after quite a long absence…

A picture of a Snowy owl, which has been taken just before newyear, here in Belgium close to the Northsea coast. This is an arctic species that very seldom come so far to the South, and scientist do think that this specimen does not come from Northern Scandinavia, but has taken a boar from Northern Canada… No matter where it comes from, it’s a beautiful picture of a beautiful bird. (Picture via natuurpunt on facebook)sneeuwuil

Lana Hope has started an interesting series about what is modernity that looks quite promising. Speaking of modernity and Christianity, Roger Olson had a series too a while ago that is worth reading: Christianity and modernity: oil and water? Part 2 part 3. As someone who does identify as postmodern and who wants to connect more to the non-modern roots of my religion those things are very interesting…

David Russell Mosley from the letters from Elfland has written a very interesting artcile On the economics of Elfland for the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien. I recently reread the Lord of the Rings trilogy (which I like a lot) and watched the second hobbit movie (which was quite disappointing, you can’t make a movie of the hobbit without including the gradual arrival at Beorns house, and a love triangle with a female elf captian Kili the dwarf and Legolas who isn’t even in the book is just too much…) so I’m still in a Tolkien mood anyway.

To show how different life and gender issues can be in other places: Indian Eunuchs adopt to fulfill motherhood. The eunuchs in questions are living in special brothels, and the person the article speaks about identifies as ‘she’, and has a heartbreaking story. No matter how different and difficult their lives, they are humans like us!

Did you hear my EP instant pocket apocalypse from last summer, which might have been the least advertised release ever? It switches from abstract electronic instrumentals to weird semi-electronic indierock and other not-so-common stuff. I will never be able to play any of this live though…

Zack Hoag quits the progressive Christian internet for 2014 and I completely understand him. As a non-American I don’t even understand all the calling-out for using the wrong words and all the shibboleths of that strange niche…

On new years eve we had ‘de tijdloze’ in Flanders on the radio station studio Brussel, when the listeners choose the top-100 of classic rock-songs, including some hard ones. For the first time #1 was Led Zeppelin with ‘stairway to heaven’, which kicked ‘smells like teen spirit’ from its first place. (#3 was Pearljams ‘black’, a song I don’t care for much. Also, the weird song Mia (click for my blogpost about that song), a former #1, fell to 22, which means the end of an era… (singing that the middleclass rules the country better than ever before isn’t accurate anymore?)

And which means that there wasn’t any Belgian song in the top-20 left… (Only Americans and Brittish ones even, speak of colonialism? -edit: Wait, isn’t the arcade fire Canadian?-)

This sociological piece about American fundamentalism confirms my suspicion that unlike whatever it might claim it is not at all built around ‘the bible only’ at all, but more like a complex man-made (made up on the way?) tradition.

Speaking about American fundamentalism, this slice of life story at the broken daughters blog (by an American ex-fundamentalist girl currently studying in Germany) is quite funny to me. Don’t ask me why…

And this is just a fraction how we humans are being an abomination against nature and Creation: 10 animals that went extinct in 2013 (or declared extinct)

Another sad statistic from last year: 70.000 Christians killed in 2013

And then there’s this genius piece from the onion about brainwashed idiots feeding the poor (yes that’s satire, but it sounds like some atheists I’ve met)

What did you see that caught your eye?



3 responses to “Some interesting things elsewhere IX

  1. The owl is interesting. North America is also experiencing a southern irruption of snowy owls. I wonder what circumpolar event is prompting this? (Lemming population crash? Lemmings are known to have cyclical populations but I don’t know if those cycles are synchronized around the arctic.)

    • It could be simpler than that, and the birds in W-Europe might just be on the outer rage of the current N-amzerican snowy owl diaspora (thanks to some human help). There are currently at least 3 snowy owls present in this part of Western Europe: one in Zeebrugge, Belgium, one Calais, France, and one somewhere in the Netherlands. All 3 places are not just located on the coast, but also not far from an international harbour!
      An article I read (I think in a paper newspaper so I can’t link, and it’s in Dutch anyway) did indeed suggest a North-American origin for the one in Zeebrugge (the one on the picture, which is only the fourth snowy owl ever recorded in Belgium btw! I think 3 of them so far Southwards are an unseen phenomenon), citing an extremely low population -more than the usual cyclical low point- of lemmings in North-Canada and Greenland that causes them to migrate to find food elsewhere, where some end up more southern in N-America like you say, and others might get lost at sea, finally having no choice but landing on a ship that will take them over the ocean if they do survive that travel. The Belgian bird was unringed, so finding out the real origin isn’t simple but it sounds plausible to me. But if those birds had flown from Scandinavia by themselves they would not all have ended up close to a harbour and .

      (So if they survive and migrate Northwards after the winter this could mean some genetic North-American input for the Scandinavian population. Maybe adding genetic diversity is not bad for a species that is at risk of gong through very shaky times with all our climate problems)

      I have no idea about the current state of the Scandinavian lemming population though, so I can’t tell you know if the lemming population cycle is synchronised. That’s an interesting question indeed. The current more-than-normal melting of the Arctic ice in summer might have a circumboreal influence though on all sub-Arctic ecosystems, apart from the normal lemming-and-owl population cycle.

  2. I don’t think snowy owl ranges have contracted much under human pressure and so I suspect that both the Belgian and southeast US birds are far south from their natural ranges.

    However, one suggestion I read recently (and there seems to be some confusion about the causes of this irruption) suggested that lemming populations may not be involved but rather access to lemmings – that this year the snowfall may be thicker (which may be a Arctic local phenomenon like the current North American cold snap or a long-term trend caused by warmer temperatures bringing more moisture into the air to make snow) and so the owls may not be able to reach the lemmings. That could quite plausibly be a circumpolar event.

    At least in the US there are some internet bird tracking websites that show a huge southward movement of snowy owls. I should look to see if there is also something in Europe that does this sort of tracking. (Although I gather that a lot of Europe approaches internet billing in a way that makes internet citizen science somewhat more costly.)

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