I know I mentioned that a pair of beavers have taken up residence in the woodland cathedral behind my house. I suspected as much last January when I noticed water on what is usually dry land while sitting on my thinking log. I took a walk to the stream and followed it down to find a small pile of mud and sticks barely two feet tall. I could tell it was the beginning of a beaver lodge. Beyond I saw their dam. I was thrilled to have new neighbors.
Since January, I’ve checked on their progress every couple of weeks. They’ve been, you guessed it, busy as beavers, adding a little to their dam, greatly expanding their lodge and clearing brush and small trees in the process. I brought a lot of my tree trimmings this year down to the pond’s edge and was pleased to see they accepted my offerings.
In the above photo, you camn make out the lodge just to the left of the twin trunked tree. This is almost half of the pond. Beyond the lodge, the stream is backed up about 75 to 100 yards deep enough to cover a submerged beaver.
The last four photos are along the backed up portion of the stream. Above this, the stream still gurgles happily. Idyllic, no? It’s hard to believe this is all only 100 to 200 yards behind my house. Even now with the woodland fairly well leafed out, I can make out the pond from my thinking log and even from my gazebo. From my log, I spied the beavers swimming a few times but to get a better look, I’ll have to stake out a vantage point, sit still and wait for dusk. I’ve contemplated putting my kayak in the pond some evening and waiting for them there. That might mark me as truly mad, but it would be well worth it. Next spring I’ll do the same to see the kits. This is why I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV. That and I’m far too tight to pay for cable or streaming services.
Always amazing when nature takes up residency on the property unless it’s ground dwelling yellow jackets. Horrible occupants. Their stingers look like serrated daggers under a microscope. God awful painful too.
Salute on ditching paid TV. We ditched it over a decade ago by chance. I hook up an antenna moving to the new house waiting for cable. Ended up catching over 100 channels. Cancelled the order. We watched Green Acres on MeTV tonight. Before my time but it was hilarious. It’s one of the only networks gaining viewership. They actually have two channels running these old shows.
Same here. I dropped cable about 5 yrs ago. A ton of free stations via a $50 inside antenna. 90% of my viewing is evening network news and PBS.
I miss my days communing with nature. Your pictures reawaken old memories. I used to communicate with trees, birds would accompany me into shopping malls and fly around in the rafters of Home Depot’s garden section after I’d meet them on my apartment fire escape where I replenished a bird feeder most mornings. Squirrels were utterly oblivious to my existence but would surprise me by walking straight up to me while looking me in the eye and chattering in languages I almost thought I understood. That was destroyed by a tornado, yes a tornado in Queens NY, and not in an area far out away from Manhattan. It was close enough for 9 or ten mile round trip walks down to Greenwhich village or up to the Upper West side via central park trails not overly distant from the East River bridges. The tornado actually directly hit that apartment window and I was sitting not 12 feet away. Since you’ve been shelled by artillery you probably have an idea. Unimaginable. Miraculously or not I didn’t have to go to a hospital but “shaken up” – doesn’t come close. It was nothing compared to other things I’ve been through but seems to have demarcated a pleasant interlude of contact with Arcadia. I was sure that trees had some degree of consciousness. It’s a nutty limb to get out too far on. But a very beautiful one. I should try to recollect my experiments one day trying to photograph flowers up close. Every time the camera lense came within a critical distance I was immediately pelted by tiny seemingly invisible objects whirling with tracers which I thought I actually saw, accompanied by furious high pitched screams and squeaks at frequencies so high it was borderline inaudible. If the camera pulled back just a bit – all quiet. I tested it repeatedly and convinced myself that it wasn’t my imagination. It’s an entire living, breathing feeling system or living being of some sort. Invisible but not really.
Two very interesting and thoughtful articles on Putin & Russia of recent days and weeks from May 3 and May 15 which should link to the New Yorker if you don’t have Apple News. I don’t myself, they were free for some reason on my iPhone. Tatianna Stanovaya of Carnegie is interviewed in the first and referenced in the 2nd. I don’t even have a New Yorker subscription anymore mostly out of stubbornness.
Goes into detail on the few major personalities influencing his royal highness. Chemizov & Sechin are realists who understand the Ru military’s limitations. But he seems to listen more closely to several other characters who are not so smart. Portrays Bortnikov as less cautious than Patrushev, which makes sense from my limited observation, Patrushev is a hawk and does have the old-time mindset described in the article, but my sense of him is that he is toweringly smart, really exceptional and wouldn’t possibly have been unwise in the ways that are apparent. The writer agrees with that. He probably understands the underlying forces at play as well as anyone alive today. Putin gets it too but on the different levels necessary for an actual politician, which the other guys are not. Kiryenko is a political technologist, exceedingly facile and clever, possibly too much so or only so who probably alienates a large percentage of the brawny underlings because of his speedy braininess, and rumored talent for making vast amounts of money. Kuvalchik is said to be a huge behind the scenes banker, schemer and actual close confidant. You need a grounded person, a family man who understands the world and how much it’s changed through his love and interactions with his children and grandchildren. Not a spy or a banker or a muscleman. Someone like Joe Biden, right? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). Unfortunately we live in a jungle.
Trees with a degree of consciousness? Well, they communicate, remember, look after each other. Bring up families.
He’s a German forester. They’re the best. An eye-opener, seeing how they tend their woodlands over there.
May be not trees but worms and flies very likely.
(full PDF not paywalled)
Thanks. Heavy duty. Took me a while to get the hang of it, if I did. I’m not happy calling this anything to do with “consciousness” as a non-scientist would use the term.
“.. even plants (peas) can adopt different root growing strategies depending on the variability of nutrients in their soils, showing risk appetite and aversion not unlike animals do . What would follow from such findings? If we take the functional perspective, and state that attention, access or metacognitive faculties are the hallmarks of consciousness, we would have to conclude that these simple animals have conscious sensations of their surroundings, home vectors and stimulus response-couplings. If not willing to accept that, one would have to resort to meta- or higher-order variants of these functions and deny consciousness to animals that just execute the ‘simple versions’. But what higher order variants would that be: ‘super-attention’, ‘super-access’ or ‘super-metacognition’ of some sort? We cannot argue that attention, access or metacognition are central to consciousness in humans, and then suddenly retreat if animals that we do not ‘believe’ to have consciousness execute those same functions. It is either that these functions are not constituting consciousness, or that the lower animals have consciousness too.”
I’m not sure that reactions to stimuli, however complex those reactions are, can be usefully compared to what we think of as human “consciousness”. But maybe I’m just locked into plain old “human-chauvinism”.
Similar questions came up on the Colonel’s site a while back. I chipped in with a quotation from an unlikely theologian, Oscar Wilde. It seemed to me to reconcile today’s out and out materialism with the phenomenon of consciousness.
“”Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams.”
On a more prosaic level, the work of the now unfashionable German anthropologist, Arnold Gehlen, much read in the ’50’s I’m told, laid the practical groundwork for examining the phenomenon of human consciousness.
Gehlen was mixed up in political stuff as well, but his observations on child development, and on the “consciousness” possessed by animals, don’t so much define consciousness as define the sort of consciousness we humans possess.
He found a qualitative difference between our reasoning powers and that of a chimp. Some of the experiments used to show that were, I thought, rather cruel.
A lot of boxes were scattered around a room. A banana was hung on the wall that the chimp could only reach if he piled one of the boxes on top of another.
At first the chimp had to work out that it needed two boxes. Took him a bit of time to do that but when he’d got it he got the banana every time. So that was a merry banana eating session and the chimp was very happy. Proud too, I expect. I know some humans who’d have trouble with that problem. Wonder if Nuland et al could have handled it. Not on current form, I reckon.
Next day it got ugly. Same set up. “I’ve been here before” said the chimp to himself and put the first box under the banana. Then he turned around to go and fetch the second box. Easy.
Except that when he did so, some bastard of an experimenter nipped out from behind a screen and took the first box away.
So the chimp would come back with the second box and be absolutely nonplussed. This shouldn’t be happening, he said to himself, put the second box in the right position, and turned round to get another. Not noticing that the experimenter slipped in again and took the box away.
When all the boxes bar one had gone they ended up with one very angry and bananaless chimp. Not kind. I hope he got whole bunches of bananas afterwards.
As for Gehlen, his start point is indeed reaction to stimuli, and how we learn to process stimuli and build up a mental picture of our world corresponding to the processing we’ve done of those stimuli, but he does go further than that.
When we get machines that can operate at that level, they too may be “conscious” but not as we are. For a start they won’t have the same sensory inputs and the same ways of processing those inputs. I don’t know if the AI people have put a lot of thought into that.
I’m not happy calling this anything to do with “consciousness” as a non-scientist would use the term.
There is a huge amount of philosophical/scientific research about consciousness but absolutely NO consensus about what consciousness even “is”.
You can therefore pick and choose whatever fits your own opinion and surely find some support, say, within the bibliography of the Lamme paper. 🙂
They respond to their surroundings – is that “awareness?” Not in the sense that we mean. Can they effect the behavior of huge numbers of birds, insects and other creatures? Probably very subtly and incrementally, yes. Are they aware that they are aware? I’m very skeptical. Did mother nature send that tornado directly to my apartment because it was offended by my attempts to photograph flowers from too close a distance? That is possible. I felt myself I shouldn’t be doing it. But it would get me written up as paranoid and overly self-important, understandably. You know the story of the worldwide outbreaks of elephant violence? There have been several instances where episodes of attacks, even fatal attacks, on trainers and related “jail-breaks” occur over a widening geographic area over the course of weeks, spanning the globe eventually. Investigation found that they were often preceded by a single instance, in a zoo or circus somewhere, or a poaching context, of extreme cruelty to an elephant by its trainers or imprisoners. Elephants in fact do communicate via a membrane in their forehead region which emits very low frequency waves which the creatures modulate for signaling. The outbreaks may have originated as in the case of George Floyd. You laugh. However it might be much more serious. I saw a YT vid of one of those obnoxious “influential” people who give TED talks. He was some sort of high Muckety-muck involved in colonial Africa who was an ecological “good guy” now but in a former incarnation had been a director and planner of a program which for its intended purpose of keeping some elephants alive after the deluge but to place them in their planned restricted reserves they first set about killing elephants by the many many thousands. Little babies too, I’m certain. The man was an absolute bastard war-criminal of elephant universe. I despised him the moment I saw him at the dais, it only confirmed my intuition. (Yes, EO, you guessed it, when I was a tiny lad in England in 1959 at Whipsnade park, the famous progressive zoo, I was placed atop an elephant and allowed to ride it. The elephant was nice to me.) All joking aside – my point is we do not know and will never know at this rate, if all the troubles we the humans are having now for so many years on earth are not in fact due to those horrid atrocities committed by the so-called “best and brightest” on the elephants, their young and the overall society of the living world. Consider this. In 1993 in a secret meeting in Rome a convention of very high muckety-mucks decided that the Earth’s human population needed to be reduced to 800 million from 6 billion by the year 2030. Techniques were devised, study and testing. How does anyone not suspect, not know, that it is the secret revenging plan of the elephants or even a small coterie of their elders? We don’t know. Why have the humans set out to commit mass suicide which many people suspect they have already set course for?
English Outsider, my British correspondent, I encourage you to scrutinise at your earliest leisure the image available for viewing for a limited time only at this link;
Due to reasons of plausible deniability which you maybe familiar with from your readings of pulp paperback espionage non-fiction so popular in your country, you may appreciate that I am forced to joke around or appear that way.
Finally read your link. Spot on. The man is right. I was so intimate with trees at one time it was weird. Read several books too including old-time 19th century English books by eccentrics delving into their druid roots. It’s in our blood. My mom was English & Irish in ancestry and if she wasn’t a high druid priestess in a former life then .. . Thanks for that link. Now I know I wasn’t crazy.
I think you might have defined consciousness. Maybe any sort of consciousness including ours. “Are they aware that they are aware?”
Their roots communicate with each other via various fungi organisms. Wohlleben’ colleague, Suzanne Simard at the University of British Columbia, has a good book on it: ‘Finding the Mother Tree’.
If you prefer a true but fictionalized account, try the Pulitzer Prize winning ‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers. A great read.
Good for you. Good for them. I like beavers, and I want more of them in North America.
In the North East their evening outing starts around 6:30 ish. A swim across the pond. An outing on shore. Garcon, might I have a bite of elm pls. By 8, just b/f darkness, a leisurely swim back to the lodge; clockwork.
I sense a kindred spirit. Almost every morning I watch kangaroos eating our lawn.
As for TV, I cut an old fashioned TV front panel out of plywood and nailed it to the front of our bird table. When the grand kids ask me what it was, I proudly tell them that it is “Reality TV” and stubbornly hold to that position. After watching a few birds through the TV frame they get the idea.
I have found an old Plasma TV case to replace the now tattered plywood one and this spring I am going to tell the kids that we now have a flat screen, HD, digital reality TV.
Lovely pictures. If envy of that woodland plot were transmissible you’d feel waves of it coming across the Atlantic. Two questions, related.
1. Do they eat your vegetables? Just before you harvest them.
2. How do they get on with fences? I have problems with similar animals, badgers. I put up stout fences, sheep netting, rabbit netting, high netting for the deer and barbed wire for the bullocks. Combined. Some of it dug in six inches to a foot.
I’ve never caught them at it, but I swear the badgers laugh at it all as they trundle through to harvest my carrots.
Badgers? Only one I ever met was in Glacier National Park, Montana on the way up to 10,000 ft.
Well named – Taxidea Taxus. Why hasn’t the Internal Revenue Service made it their mascot? A “fossorial” carnivore.
Sorry, brings to mind a ditty we sang in marching band:
See the badger, see the badger
With its tail up in the air —
You can kiss what’s under there
Meanwhile I want to know if those beavers got an approved EIS and USACE permission for wetlands modifications.
They mustn’t be upset. A wickedly powerful bite. I suppose they’d be just right for the IRS since their jaws lock. So they’re impossible to get away from once they have you in their grip.
The thing is, EO, IRS agents carry a Badge. Think about it.
I don’t do much vegetable gardening except for some treats for our rabbits. My neighbor tried a vegetable garden years ago, but the woodchucks and rabbits always got the best of him. I stick to trees, bushes and flowers learning what does well and doesn’t turn into animal food. I can’t grow any kind of lily. Somebody eats the bulbs and the deer eat the blossoms. I had to fence off my new Kwanzaa cherry tree out front. The deer were going through the leaves and young branches. It’s doing fine now. I had to do the same for my young pussy willow. That’s the extent of my fencing
Besides the woodchucks and rabbits, we have possums. I encourage them because they are voracious tick eaters. Of course we have our grey squirrels and all manner of birds. I’m working on getting the crows used to being around me as they feed on their daily peanuts. For good or bad, they remember and act accordingly.
thank you, Twisted. I’m getting on the bike & heading “down by the river”.
On my side, more modest activity.
I try to fight against the neighbors’ cat. She kills without necessity blackbirds and robins which nest in my hedge. A true female of the species, cunning and bloodthirsty. So far, I am losing the battle. Her score is two blackbirds, one sparrows and robin, but I don’t despair. I think I’m going to get a child’s play water gun! It is well known that cats hate (hot or cold) water.
Josh Hawley, Republican senator from Missouri, has an interesting piece that some may care to comment on:
“America’s men are in crisis and it’s rooted in one big lie”
Two straws in the wind that I have noticed:
Remember Bruce Jenner?
Now there was a man’s man,
supremely successful at some athletic events.
But he gave up being a man, had his very manhood cut off, and became an imitation woman.
What went wrong?
I certainly have no inside information, but I can hazard a guess.
Did his then-wife, Kris Jenner, support his masculinity, or undermine it?
I.e., play to the criticisms of masculinity mentioned in Hawley’s article.
For a second high profile example,
consider the ill-fated marriage of Charles Windsor and Diana Spencer.
What caused their marital breakup?
Again, I have absolutely no inside information.
However, just from reading the news, it was apparent that Diana had a real appetite for publicity.
She was always described as the “People’s Princess”.
I.e., playing to the crowd.
I can certainly see how Charles might have gotten tired of this.
In some sense, playing second fiddle in his royal marriage.
These breakups are a reality.
So too are the issues Josh Hawley raises in his article.
Is there a connection?
We don’t know.
Mr./Ms. Jenner and King Charles certainly have insight into this.
King Charles surely doesn’t want to relive that messy situation,
but Jenner might be willing and able to speak to it.
As to me, let’s just say I remember fondly the old days,
when men were men and women were women, and
“vive la différence”
I had a very dear friend many years ago who was one of the most brilliant, outrageously gifted, entertaining and unusual people I or anyone else has ever known. He was 6ft 2in, incredibly handsome in his youth (only lived to 39 by which time the doctors told me he had the heart of an 85 year old man) but wanted more than anything to be a woman. He was not gay, nor was he effeminate or fay in the too often usual lisping, limp-wristed ways. He wore black leather jackets and drove huge motorcycles (not when I knew him, but he did). He was all set to play Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto with Leonard Bernstein and the NY Philharmonic orchestra for one of his televised concerts featuring talented young prospects in classical music, but an injury to a tendon of one of hands ended that days before the concert. He was one of the finest magicians alive, especially at slight of hand, having been the roommate for several years of the man who John Scarne himself consulted whenever he was in NY, and could enter a poker game with 25 cents and leave with several thousand dollars, playing against one of the greatest card mechanics in the United States who ran the bar and the crooked dice and card games. He could play pool, stark raving drunk while giving you a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare to hold, and as he carried on around the table he would take the parts of characters in the plays, first one then another, reciting their lines perfectly, convulsing in paroxysms of laughter the assembly of gangsters, retirees, and veterans of Vietnam, Korea and WW2 who watched and thumbed through the book in response to his challenge “go on, pick any play, any act any scene, I will do it from memory.” And he would, flawlessly. He worked as a fitter in the women’s lingerie section of the Manhattan Macy’s store in Herald Square AS a woman, for several years, undetected – helping women of all ages decide on their next purchases of brassieres, girdles and undergarments. During which time he was Barbara. He never got the whole procedure as the eunuchs did (though he wanted to the doctors wouldn’t do it) but grew massive breasts etc due to hormone injections. He drank himself to death. The bar was in mourning though he had been so ill he wasn’t coming around much. It was horrible. His father was High East Coast ruling class WASP, his mother partially Cherokee. Why do I mention it? His name was Bruce.
Josh Hawley. Interesting name. To Josh – verb, to make fun. Haw – an abbreviation for haw haw haw or Heehaw, indicating laughter. Of course Senator Hawley meant no harm, he is a fine man and Bruce would probably want to marry him if he was still alive. And something else – Bruce would have agreed with everything Hawley said. Everything. He was no limpwristed XYZ. He would joke around with Roland, 6 ft himself, descended from Pygmies of the African Congo who worked down the street as a custodial engineer at the hospital which saved Bruce’s life until he had the misfortune of being experimented on by an affirmative action doctor who wouldn’t listen to what I told him they needed to do to revive him (he had been pronounced dead something like 7 or 9 times but come back to life, once getting as far as the morgue. He would scream at Roland, who could shoot the eyes off a cue ball with either hand running balls until only exhaustion stopped him, while playing 8-ball with him “Set the Nubian free!” And Roland would laugh and say in his Honduras accent “I see someone set you free, Bruce.” Bruce had some very extreme for these days opinions about how the country was going to hell in a handbasket which in his honor I won’t repeat. That was 1979. He had more talent in one of his little fingers than just about anyone who ever lived. See “The Wasteland” by TS Eliot. “Tiresias, old man of wrinkled dugs..” considered the wisest man who ever lived in some myth but probably I have that wrong;
Anyway, that’s not the strength Hawley is talking about. If he had more courage he’d mention things like needing valium every morning to cope and something else to sleep and two other pills to get up the energy. Every pain a reason to complain. But the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t allow it of a US Senator.
By a Buffalo University professor. Looks interesting. I’m not trying to speak for woke cultural Marxists, but maybe this can shed some light on their peculiarities. Down near the highlighted text it goes into its take on how modern man became emasculated due to technology. Interesting. The first 9 digit logarithmic tables were calculated by a farmer who did it all in his head. For real.
Thanks for the photos and update…You Are A Blessed Man..Nature is Your
And..Like The Beavers..and your Critters You Are Being Fed..
Nice That You Mentioned The Crows…They are the Most Common Bird Here…
And I Love Watching Their Flight..Wings Wide..Soaring and Perfect Landings..
I Have Fed Them Often Over The Years…Bread Mostly But Popcorn or Any Left
Overs i Can Use…They Have Left Us Many Long Feathers in Return..Possibly
To Mark Us..As “Hobo” Friendly….I Gather Thier Feathers…Tie Them..About Three Along a
Long Cord.Sticking Straight Out….Weighted on The End With a Egg Size Glass Ball..And Hang them on…..The Patio..from a Long Plastic Rod…They Always Blow and
Turn in The Wind…Like a Weather Vane…
Enjoy Your Harmony…Its Your Gift… Sharing is Another…
Seymour Hersh – new today on his substack. Quite interesting.
Excerpt below link.
Last Saturday the Washington Post published an exposé of classified American intelligence documents showing that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, working behind the back of the Biden White House, pushed hard earlier this year for an expanded series of missile attacks inside Russia. The documents were part of a large cache of classified materials posted online by an Air Force enlisted man now in custody. A senior official of the Biden administration, asked by the Post for comment on the newly revealed intelligence, said that Zelensky has never violated his pledge never to use American weapons to strike inside Russia. In the view of the White House, Zelensky can do no wrong.
Zelensky’s desire to take the war to Russia may not be clear to the president and senior foreign policy aides in the White House, but it is to those in the American intelligence community who have found it difficult to get their intelligence and their assessments a hearing in the Oval Office. Meanwhile, the slaughter in the city of Bakhmut continues. It is similar in idiocy, if not in numbers, to the slaughter in Verdun and the Somme during World War I. The men in charge of today’s war—in Moscow, Kiev, and Washington—have shown no interest even in temporary ceasefire talks that could serve as a prelude to something permanent. The talk now is only about the possibilities of a late spring or summer offensive by either party.
But something else is cooking, as some in the American intelligence community know and have reported in secret, at the instigation of government officials at various levels in Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Czechoslovakia, and Latvia. These countries are all allies of Ukraine and declared enemies of Vladimir Putin.
This group is led by Poland, whose leadership no longer fears the Russian army because its performance in Ukraine has left the glow of its success at Stalingrad during the Second World War in tatters. It has been quietly urging Zelensky to find a way to end the war—even by resigning himself, if necessary—and to allow the process of rebuilding his nation to get under way. Zelensky is not budging, according to intercepts and other data known inside the Central Intelligence Agency, but he is beginning to lose the private support of his neighbors.
One of the driving forces for the quiet European talks with Zelensky has been the more than five million Ukrainians fleeing from the war who have crossed the country’s borders and have registered with its neighbors under an EU agreement for temporary protection that includes residency rights, access to the labor market, housing, social welfare assistance, and medical care. An assessment published by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that the estimate excludes roughly 3 million Ukrainian refugees who escaped from the war zone without a visa into any of the 27 European nations that have abolished border control between each other under the Schengen agreement. Ukraine, though not in the EU, now enjoys all the benefits of the Schengen pact. A few nations, exhausted by the 15-month war, have reintroduced some forms of border control, but the regional refugee crisis will not be resolved until there is a formal peace agreement.
if only folks would work so hard behind the scenes on The Vlad Problem.
Thank you for the lovely photos
We were thrilled in my area when the otter finally came back. Otter are most likely to succumb to toxins in the water so we took it as a sign of things improving here, plus they (the otter) are so playful and fun to watch, and they sleep at night.
Beaves (nocturnal nature engineers) are great so long as they are not too near the house – I do like my sleep.
found this little audio recording from a beaver den – love these sounds
Thanks for that. I never heard beavers being so vocal. I’ve only seen them out on their ponds where they practice good noise discipline.
There has been a further development in something discussed a while back:
“How a determined laity in Washington, D.C and Arlington, VA is fighting Latin Mass restrictions”
I can certainly understand the desires of many
for the liturgy to be spoken in the vernacular.
But there is so much truly great music set to Latin texts it would be a terrible shame to neglect those.
For example, listen to the first video in this playlist:
For the text, see the comments to the video.