Keeping the wolf from the door is a fact of life. You never know what fortune will bring. I am reminded of this by the horror unleashed in Christchurch, New Zealand when a maniac went on a killing spree at two mosques where people gathered for prayers. The suspect in this atrocity live-streamed his attack on worshippers at the mosques as he gunned them down. The video is available online for those who want to view it. I listened to the description given by someone who saw the video, and that is more than enough for me; I will not watch the video. What came through in the description of what happened in the video is the sad reality in this horror is the people who perished were utterly defenceless. The likelihood of finding yourself caught in a terror attack at the mercy of someone intent on mayhem is remote but a possibility; just one of the vagaries of fortune. Continue reading →
The newest addition to our library collection is a copy of Jack Miner on Current Topics (first published in 1929). Mika found a copy in the Ex Libris book store at the Ottawa Public Library and thoughtfully purchased it, knowing I would like it. Jack Miner (1865-1944), born in Ohio, but settled in Canada in 1878, was a deeply religious man and pioneering conservationist. Miner was not a trained biologist, he had no formal education and was illiterate until he was in his thirties. He was Christian and subscribed to a literal interpretation of Scripture, believing “God put birds and animals here for man’s use and for man to control.” He founded a bird sanctuary on his farm in 1904, which exists to this day, and contributed to the effort to determine the migratory paths of wild ducks and geese in live trapping and banding them. He manufactured his own hand-stamped aluminum bands adding with his address Bible passages: “Keep yourselves in the love of God—Jude 1-21” and “With God all things are possible—Mark 10-27”. Bands recovered from birds after they were shot by hunters indicated where the birds had traveled.
In this book he discusses the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA) which was signed between the United States and Great Britain (acting on behalf of the Dominion of Canada), which effectively ended market hunting, but allows for the hunting of game species for private consumption. He puts forward his case for the conservation of wildlife resources through education and wise use. He includes two chapters detailing his admiration for the Canada goose, proposing it be designated as Canada’s national bird. That he was not a trained biologist shows through in the chapter in which he shares his dislike of crows, referring to them as “cannibals” and “murderers.” He trapped and killed them in droves, believing he was protecting more “desirable” species of birds and mammals. In keeping with his religious beliefs he tended to anthropomorphize wildlife in ascribing human morality to animal behaviour, noting, for example, that Canada geese mate for life and never seeing a pair divorce.
He is remembered for banding wild ducks and geese, having banded over 50,000 wild ducks and 40,000 Canada geese. His efforts in banding waterfowl popularized the procedure leading to its standardization and is still in use as a tool for wildlife biologists today. After his death, the Government of Canada enacted the National Wildlife Week Act to be observed the week of Jack Miner’s birth, April 10 each year. He was a simple and pious man whose passion for migratory birds inspired him to help lay the foundation of the modern conservation movement and for those who love the natural world he is worth remembering.
The term “homosexual agenda,” is a trope commonly used by social conservatives, particularly those from religious constituencies in referring to efforts by gay people who want tolerance, if not acceptance for who they are, their relationships and families. The term was invented by the Family Research Council in 1992, an Evangelical Protestant group and lobbying organization established in the United States in 1981 by James Dobson. Interestingly, Dobson is a licensed psychologist in the state of California. He has academic credentials, a doctorate in child development from the University of Southern California and held the position of Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine 14 years. In addition, he served for 17 years on the staff of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics. Dobson is intelligent, but remains a minor figure in academic circles. He is better known for his business acumen and influence as a conservative lobbyist. Continue reading →