Tuesday, September 25, 2007


"It's impossible, if no more than one opinion is uttered, to make choice of the best: a man is forced then to follow whatever advice may have been given him; but if opposite speeches are delivered, then choice can be exercised."

Artabanus to Xerxes, from The Histories of Herodotus

"The important thing to notice here is that Dave does not see blog comments as productive to the free exchange of ideas. They are a part of the problem, not the solution. You don't have a right to post your thoughts at the bottom of someone else's thoughts. That's not freedom of expression, that's an infringement on their freedom of expression. Get your own space, write compelling things, and if your ideas are smart, they'll be linked to, and Google will notice, and you'll move up in PageRank, and you'll have influence and your ideas will have power."

Joel Spolsky, from Joel on Software Blog

I'm still glad many readers have opted to email me their thoughts concerning recent posts. Most of the following excerpts are from those emails, but also fragments I found elsewhere on the web concerning this discussion I thought were relevant.

"Thanks for your insights on the mangomania. We thought of going on Friday but something about it all made me uneasy. Thanks for putting that into words."

"I've received some phone calls and emails about whether I've seen the Mango yet. People are pretty surprised that I'm not making the half hour trip to Beloit to see this bird!"

"I lurk on your site frequently, and I simply loved your post today. I wish more people had such a sensible, thoughtful approach to life. We live smack-dab in a tiny lot in the city of Oshkosh, but since I've stuffed our teeny-tiny lot with bird- and butterfly-friendly plantings, I'm amazed at the diversity here. It's amazing what a little effort will produce."

"Thanks for the Mango Madness story. I too enjoy giving my free time walking two blocks from my city apartment to volunteer at Magic Hedge/Montrose Beach bird nature area here in Chicago as much as possible. I have driving places in the past but seem to do it less now. I have little money and try to give volunteer wise. I guess I am lucky, many rare birds stop over in Chi-town and I feel blessed. I guess every hobby has a balance. I just think more people need to see birding as more of a conservation effort than a hobby."

"I enjoyed today's post about Mango Madness and also Laura's fast shout-out to your piece on her blog. You're dead on correct."

"I am not making the trip to Beloit for the Mango either. I like your idea of the ‘could have easily seen but didn't.'"

"I loved your post on the Green-breasted Mango! We are a lot closer to Beloit than you are, but it pretty much went down the way you described it. I am happy to say we did at least fill up the entire car with birders, even if they were all family members."

"I've never gotten too much of a thrill chasing freak-bird sightings (or even birds outside Wisconsin, really). I do enjoy the social aspect of it even if I always feel more like a cultural anthropologist...I mean, it is cool to know that people care about birds and birders are for the most part very smart and conscious people, but there is a bit of a freakish obsession with the ultra-rare that doesn't translate into bird conservation."

"Your idea is certainly an interesting one. Although, I'm too much of a twitcher to spend all my twitching money on conservation."

"Mike McDowell is a good guy and I like him but his latest blog entries are nothing more than to troll for arguments and criticize those that like to travel to see birds. I am sure everyone who is traveling to see this Mango gives back some way or another to bird conservation. Trouble with people like Mike they like to stereo type listers as insensitive people who do not care about habitat or other concerns with birds."

"I've been talking about birds killed by cars for years, but it's as if biologists get so focused on their own specialties that they just don't see beyond them. When I started birding, I got very concerned about cats, communications towers, windows, and cars killing birds. Audubon said that none of them harmed populations--they were just killing individuals. Well, those individuals do add up to populations, don't they?"

"I too have been seeing a lot of dead birds on the roads, and it always breaks my heart."

"My read of the current state of affairs is that if our priorities don't place conservation interests first, there won't be many of the bird species left to chase or even see on a casual basis. Without doubt, the birding community is due for some serious soul searching about long distance travel for viewing birds."

"We enjoy reconnecting with familiar faces and meeting new birders because for us, birding isn't just about the birds, it's also very much about sharing rewarding social interactions."

"Unless all of us (not just the few who are doing it now) start seriously changing our behavior, we will have a lot fewer birds to watch in 20-40 years - I guarantee it."

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