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Name: Paul
Gender: Male
Hometown: Florida
Home country: USA
Member since: Wed Mar 31, 2010, 03:20 PM
Number of posts: 3,829

Journal Archives

It's weird how out of the innumerable crimes Israel commits against the Palestinians

I don't hear any of the war mongers claim the Palestinians have a right to level Israeli cities and murder Israeli children. But the war mongers look so hard to find any action by the Palestinians, in the background of the numerous abuses by Israel that take place every day, that can justify mass murder against the very same Palestinians. I find it very sickening.

Israel Creates ‘No Man’s Land’ in Gaza, Shrinking Strip by 40 Percent



BEIT HANOUN, Gaza — This narrow strip of land that used to be called “the Gaza Strip,” already one of the more densely populated places on Earth, is growing dramatically smaller. The Israeli military, relentlessly and methodically, is driving people out of the 3-kilometer (1.8 mile) buffer zone it says it needs to protect against Hamas rockets and tunnels. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the buffer zone eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.

What that means on the ground is scenes of extraordinary devastation in places like the Al Shajaya district approaching Gaza’s eastern frontier, and Beit Hanoun in the north. These were crowded neighborhoods less than three weeks ago. Now they have been literally depopulated, the residents joining more than 160,000 internally displaced people in refuges and makeshift shelters. Apartment blocks are fields of rubble, and as I move through this hostile landscape the phrase that keeps ringing in my head is “scorched earth.”

It’s not like Israel didn’t plan this. It told tens of thousands of Palestinians to flee so its air force, artillery and tanks could create this uninhabitable no-man’s land of half-standing, burned-out buildings, broken concrete and twisted metal. During a brief humanitarian ceasefire some Gazans were able to come back to get their first glimpse of the destruction this war has brought to their communities, and to sift through their demolished homes to gather clothes or other scattered bits of their past lives. But many were not even able to do that.

When Rania Haels got within 60 feet of the debris that was once her family home in Al Shajaya on Saturday, a machine-gun on top of a nearby Israeli Merkava tank started firing. Probably these were warning shots pumped in her direction, but the 42-year-old mother of seven ran for her life. Now she stays with her family in an overcrowded parking garage in Gaza City and spends her days sitting in a public park full of refugees displaced by the Israeli push. Normally these would be festive times, the end of Ramadan is at hand and celebrations akin in spirit to Christmas festivities are beginning. But holidays have a way of intensifying tragedy. There is no place for Haels’ family to gather to give gifts and eat Palestinian sweets. There is, in fact, no place for them at all.

More ethnic cleansing against an already ethnically cleansed and imprisoned population.

I returned again today to get more pictures, including a back view

After waiting awhile, five birds flew low towards me while hunting, and then they soared very high in the sky:[URL=.html][IMG][/IMG][/URL]



Swallow-tailed Kites: Florida

A couple of months ago I talked to a local sheriff that said Swallowed-tailed Kites could be seen regularly in the summer over some remote fields at the River Lakes Conservation Area in Brevard County, Florida: https://www.google.com/maps/place/28%C2%B015'03.1%22N+80%C2%B049'13.7%22W/

I need to get more exercises so I've made a couple of hikes out to see the birds. I brought my camera today.

I saw at least three today and at least five a couple of days ago. They were soaring high and making dives to catch high flying insects.

I'll return again later to get more exercise and better pictures of one of our most photogenic birds.


Eating on the wing





Not all improbable coincidences are created equal

Some improbable coincidences are clues to some deeper understanding.

Back when the Earth and some lights in the sky were all we knew, the improbable coincidence that the Earth also had intelligent life was difficult to explain. Some people may have claimed that shit happens and the Earth had to take some path, so this is the path it took. Of course many people also believed our complex Earth was evidence that it was all created by a super natural being.

Well all evidence is that they were both wrong. A much simpler and down to earth explanation works. There is a huge Universe out there and probably much outside our Universe. So what was extremely unlikely became probably almost guaranteed.

That is a similar logic proposed as evidence for the Multiverse. Our seemingly designed Universe, which has planets suitable for life, is one of many or infinite universes out there – with each universe having different conditions. With so many universes, inevitably there are universes suitable for life. Almost impossible shit didn't just happen: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1218129813#post40

The coincidences that created our Universe and our Earth as they are weren't anything like the coincidences that happen every day on this Earth: people win lotteries, people get jobs through an improbable sequence of events, evolution takes paths through improbable sequence of events. All of these things have happened enumerable times on this earth.

The most important fact for every conscious being is their consciousness itself. For anyone thinking about their own existence, they could rightfully ask themselves what is the most likely explanation for their own existence? Is there only one planet? (which makes my existence mathematically improbable). Is there only one Universe? (which makes my existence mathematically improbable). Do I only get one life in the infinite time of all existence? (which makes my existence at this moment mathematically impossible). I know that I am very possible so reasonable explanations are likely required to explain my existence.

Do you believe that of all of the conscious critters that have ever existed that none of their conscious-selves have ever returned in another conscious creature? Because, in additional to making each individual conscious-self mathematically impossible to only exist at a particular time in all of infinite existence, that would make each individual consciousness impossible to exist ever at all. Because if something is impossible to exist in the infinite past and the infinite future (before and after its current existence) then that same something is impossible to exist ever at all.

Since consciousness is extremely difficult for science to study

that leaves a lot of room for laymen to speculate. It's all in good fun.

If I understand what you mean by "construct", then I guessing you are using a different definition of consciousness than me. Since it is consciousness itself that assists our brains in their activities, then any brain activities that create consciousness can't be created with the assistance of consciousness itself. That's almost like saying consciousness creates itself. So consciousness has to be made totally by the unconscious brain.

If you mean that consciousness is made in the brain, regardless of whether consciousness assists, then that has to be correct.

Yes, it is a big mystery how our consciousness can operate with the modular nature of our brains, even though consciousness doesn't seem to be modular. Probably consciousness is created in multiple locations throughout the brain, but they somehow communicate, such that your brain has one goal at a time.

In addition to making it possible for us to think, do, and learn, I think consciousness forces the complex brain to act as one. This is important, of course, since we only have one body so the brain needs to have only one self.

I think you understood much of what I wrote. I think that the unavoidable force from the feelings experienced in our consciousness is what drives the whole operation of our brains. That is why we are conscious, in my opinion.

When you touch something hot with your finger, the pain you experience has an obvious purpose. That is an extreme example, but when you come right down to it, every moment of your waking life your are experiencing positive and negative feelings (usually very subtle feelings from emotions and related feelings, and these feelings are created from your brain's pattern recognition of your thoughts and senses) while you are reacting to your environment and your thoughts. These feelings are an unavoidable force that cannot be avoided by your brain. The strength of the feelings forces you to choose (the stronger feeling at the moment gets the attention, automatically), and the same feelings drive your thoughts and actions. And the strength of the feelings determines what you learn and remember. The whole process forces the brain to act as one.

It's probably impossible to know exactly how the brain makes consciousness and how all of this works, but in my opinion, consciousness and its feelings kills multiple birds with one stone. So evolution found consciousness very useful in order to create complex animated life.

So consciousness seems to be a trick evolution found to create complex animated life. Consciousness is a way the brain can force itself to act. But almost everything that happens in the brain happens outside of consciousness. The brain is a black box and we as individuals have almost no idea how our brains work and really how our decisions are reached. When we talk, words flow out and we have no idea where they come from in the brain.

But we do have this profound experience of consciousness; and consciousness is a witness to some thoughts, our environment through our senses, and our positive and negative feelings. But we are really not the author of any of it:
We may be the conscious witness of these thoughts, but we are not their authors. Thoughts just arrive....

There has been a long controversy as to whether subjectively ‘free’ decisions are determined by brain activity ahead of time. We found that the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before it enters awareness. This delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision long before it enters awareness.


So we really have no conscious free will. Our conscious-selve are along for the ride. We just have to hope that our brains, with the critical feedback from our consciousness, make the right decisions.

Where I write about a brain process that creates consciousness

I am referring to the total brain process. In some places I did write brain processes to make my meaning more clear.

I agree with some of what you write. It's impossible for us to know what brain processes creates consciousness. Consciousness is almost certainly not located at one location in the brain.

The conscious-self that your brain experienced when you were young is not necessarily the same conscious-self you are experiencing now. Our brains change over time so our conscious-selves might change also.

As I see it, evolution found consciousness useful. Starting hundreds of million years ago, consciousness allowed complex animated life to evolve. Consciousness is dominated by our feelings, which make it possible for us to think, do, and learn. Learning allows our brains to contain far more information than is contained in our DNA.

As I define it, consciousness is that which experiences your senses, good and bad feelings, and your thoughts. Consciousness isn't your memories, feelings, or any other experience, but it is what experiences those things.

The processes that create the thoughts in our brain happen before our consciousness experience them. Emotional reactions from these thoughts and other feelings in consciousness drive the thought processes in our brains and potentially drive our actions. Our brains are automatically driven by the feelings (motivational force) experienced in our consciousness. Our consciousness takes our thoughts and all other inputs from our brains to cause our consciousness to experience more feelings, which automatically drives our brains even further. It's circular. It's usually a very subtle process, but I believe this is the basic process that is required to animate our thoughts and actions.

This process gives our consciousness the illusion of free will, even though we are slaves to the feelings in our brains. There does require a conscious-self for our thought processes to work and our conscious-selves are created by particular brain processes.

Consciousness: often even scientifically minded people make unscientific assumptions

when the subject of consciousness comes up, including Richard Dawkins in this thread posted here a few days ago: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1218128811

Richard Dawkins' own words: http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/91-to-live-at-all-is-miracle-enough

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

Moralists and theologians place great weight upon the moment of conception, seeing it as the instant at which the soul comes into existence. If, like me, you are unmoved by such talk, you still must regard a particular instant, nine months before your birth, as the most decisive event in your personal fortunes. It is the moment at which your consciousness suddenly became trillions of times more foreseeable than it was a split second before....

The lottery starts before we are conceived. Your parents had to meet, and the conception of each was as improbable as your own. And so on back, through your four grandparents and eight great grandparents, back to where it doesn't bear thinking about....

...The odds of your century being the one in the spotlight are the same as the odds that a penny, tossed down at random, will land on a particular ant crawling somewhere along the road from New York to San Francisco. In other words, it is overwhelmingly probable that you are dead.

In spite of these odds, you will notice that you are, as a matter of fact, alive. People whom the spotlight has already passed over, and people whom the spotlight has not reached, are in no position to read a book....

...But we as individuals are still hugely blessed. Privileged, and not just privileged to enjoy our planet. More, we are granted the opportunity to understand why our eyes are open, and why they see what they do, in the short time before they close for ever.

Most genes likely don't influence what conscious-self is created, so you can't really use all of the potential genetic combinations as a guide to determine the chances that your conscious-self could have come into existence. But Richard Dawkins does start down the path making the odds of each of our conscious-selves coming into existence close to an impossibility. When your views on reality make reality next to impossible, you should change your views.

So in the infinite time that has ever existed or will ever exist Richard Dawkins implies that each of us only get one chance at life at most, though he claims that most potential conscious-selves will never come into existence. This make each of our conscious-selves existing right now an impossibility, since one finite life time (at most) divided by infinite time equals zero – which are the chances that I could exist at any particular time, assuming there has and/or there will be infinite time in the multiverse.

But I exist right now. So something has to give. I cannot accept an impossible coincidence as truth. Richard Dawkins and numerous other people are not correct in their views on reality.

Many people seem to think something magical happens after you die. Some place in the great beyond there is a record of each of our conscious-selves exiting in this Universe. Once we've had one life we are checked off the list. So something that was possible just before you were conscious suddenly becomes impossible forever after.

There should be no change in the odds of a particular consciousness existing in the future regardless of whether it has existed in the past. It's magical thinking if you think nature keeps records of past lives.

The same physics that created our Universe likely created many other universes. This process likely has been going on forever and will continue forever. Through infinite time, everything that is possible will happen an infinite number of times. And the larger the multiverse the more often the possible will happen.

By my very own existence my consciousness is proven to be possible. It's impossible for us to know what natural brain process creates our conscious-selves, but all evidence is that each of our conscious-selves is created by a natural brain process. It is easy to explain my conscious existence right now with an infinite multiverse. There's no way that I don't exist. All potential conscious-selves have to always exist in an infinite multiverse. No impossible math is required.

More Bird Babies

I woke up this morning and had a choice between working on my projects or going out and photographing birds at Viera Wetlands in east-central Florida, which is near my home. I chose the birds:

The Anhinga babies have changed a lot in the last few days. They have more dark feathers.

The Anhinga mother rested briefly nearby after feeding the babies

Sandhill Crane chick with parent

Sandhill Crane chicks with parent

Sandhill Crane chick with parent

Sandhill Crane chick

Great Blue Heron with chicks. It's windy today

Crested Caracara

Least Terns

Least Tern

Greater Yellowlegs

Snail Kite heaven: Lake Kissimmee, Florida

For those that want to see and photograph Snail Kites, as far as I know, the best place to visit is Lake Kissimmee in central Florida.

Lake Kissimmee and Joe Overstreet Rd that leads to the east shore of the lake is a popular birding area. A major prize of the area is the Snail Kite which breeds around the lake. Often you can see the Snail Kites from the shore by the end of Joe Overstreet Rd. I took the last four Snail Kite pictures there this summer of one that was hanging around the dock at that time. Usually you're not that lucky.

To get better looks, take the airboat ride from the company that operates at the end of Joe Overstreet Rd and ask them to take you to see the Snail Kites. You can get really close to the kites from the boat:

coordinates: N27.93716, W81.22577


At least right now, there are a lot of Snail Kites on the lake. There is a huge population of snails in the lake so the kites should be reliable for a while. The kites do move around central and southern Florida, but the airboat operator told me that Lake Kissimmee currently has the largest population.

The first three Snail Kite pictures I took from the airboat on November 17, and the last four I took this summer of a kite that was hunting around the dock. The Bald Eagle and the other snail hunting specialists, the Limpkin, I took on November 17 from the lakeshore by the dock:









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