Daily Archives: May 19, 2011

Bird Migration

Bird migration is a huge topic. Super-Big. Vast. Overwhelming.

So, starting today, it is Bird Migration Week (running from Thursday to Thursday) on this blog. I’ll be posting a number of quick reviews of bird-migration related books and a few other items, but for starters, I’ll send you over to 10,000 Birds for a post on bird migration.

To a birder, migration means that you can live in Minnesota, New York, Paris or Moscow and see exotic tropical birds such as Piranga olivacea and Icterus galbula on a regular basis without buying a plane ticket. The birds do the flying for you. Even if you don’t live in the summer range of a particular species, you may have opportunities to observe it while it passes through, especailly if you live in an active flyway, like I happen to. All of this leads to a longer life list, which is, after all, the entire point of bridwatching, right?

Read all about it in A Question of Migration.


Everything is connected to everything else. Sometimes, the connections are non-trivial. Often they are fundamental, sometimes exploitable, and now and then very potent sources of debate and discussion. I’ve come to think that a measure of sanity is the degree to which one limits a sense of connection when taking in new information. For instance, I was lambasted by a fellow blogger a few months ago when he insisted that there were connections … of influence, of a pecuniary nature, at least … between me and a major Big Science institution which caused me to say things that he thought I should not say. My refusals to back down from his assertions that I was wrong were proof that I was being paid off. That sort of over-belief in connections is the raw material of conspiracy theory. It can be amusing. Usually, it is merely distracting but sometimes it is just plain annoying.

The point is, understanding, managing, and exploiting connections is not a skill inborn for our species. It requires talent in that area, and some training.

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a person who understands a class of connections between science, politics, society, law, and that emergent property of government and institutions in general we know of as “policy.” You know Sheril from her blogging at Science Blogs in the past, and more recently, on Discover.com (The Intersection … intersection of connections, we assume) but she left the Intersection a couple of months ago. And now (well, actually, yesterday) we have the announcement that she has started a new blog at Wired called “Convergence” …

…where everything is connected.

Convergence is a forum to explore all sorts of topics, but the primary focus will be the interdisciplinary nature of understanding our world. For example, if we aspire to protect biodiversity, we must address social issues. Boosting fisheries requires economics. Tackling our tremendous energy problem involves a great deal of policy. That’s what this blog is all about: people, science, decision-making, and more. It’s where seemingly unrelated fields overlap, boundaries blur, and practical solutions are sought.*

Like most people, I originally got interested in Sheril (who wrote this book) because of her ground breaking work with the Sea Cucumber. More recently, thought, we’ve had a few (far too few) opportunities to conspire in bloggy activities having to do with things like the plight of women in war-torn ‘third world’ countries. I look forward to seeing the kinds of connections Sheril makes at Convergence.

Go have a look.