Fly by Night
|December 19, 2012|
Bird migration at Eddystone Lighthouse, by Charles Samuel Keene
From American Scientist:
Migration likely brings to mind the familiar sight of geese flying overhead in their iconic V formation, honking stridently as they fly toward their faraway goal. But the migration of many birds is a rarely observed phenomenon. Most passerine birds, a group that includes songbirds and groups taxonomically related to them, migrate at night. Nocturnal migration has fascinated scientists and bird enthusiasts for a long time. What are the advantages for birds that migrate at night? How do they do it? When do they sleep? The answers to these questions are as yet incomplete. And often answers only beget more questions. Nevertheless, technological advances have facilitated a recent surge in migration research. A recurring theme of this work is that biological clocks are intimately involved in controlling nocturnal migration.
How do we know birds migrate at night? For a long time, people have observed that flocks of birds change location between evening and the following morning. Since around 1880, ornithologists have used lunar observation—watching birds fly past the moon—to document nocturnal flights. A tally of nocturnal flight calls was published in 1899, although this technique did not flourish until the 1950s, when advances in sound recording made it more practical. During the early days of radar technology in the 1940s, “phantom signals” were discovered to be migrating birds. Radar has since become a widely used tool for monitoring bird migrations. Many of these classic methods are still used, with some modern improvements. For example, with the aid of special microphones and automated sound detection software, ornithologists recently reported in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology that pine siskins (Spinus pinus) undergo an irregular, nomadic type of nocturnal migration. Nocturnal migration may be more widespread than previously thought.
Nocturnal migratory activity is also studied in the laboratory. In captivity, night-migrating birds display stereotypic migratory behaviors during the night known as Zugunruhe, meaning “migratory restlessness.” Birds exhibiting Zugunruhe flap their wings rapidly as if about to take off from the perch. The term was coined by German bird fanciers who caught and kept wild birds; they noticed that at night, during certain times of year, their birds’ migratory proclivities resulted in damage to their feathers. This wing-whirring behavior can be clearly distinguished from captive birds’ daytime behaviors, such as hopping or feeding. Zugunruhe occurs during the dark period only. Because Zugunruhe behavior is maintained in the laboratory, biologists have been able to study diverse subjects related to migration, including biological clocks, navigation, metabolism and sleep.
Inherent Vice’s Two Directions
The jokes certainly strike one as sophomoric and the latter one as clichéd, further below Pynchon’s intelligence than one would like to think he would stoop, at least in print. Discounting them and moving on, or throwing the book across the room as Parker half implies we should do, however, would be to lose sight of “that high magic to low puns”.
Auden, Larkin and Love
I was prompted to revisit these ancient questions anew by a long footnote about a single line in the new Complete Poems edition of Philip Larkin’s poetry. The footnote refers to “An Arundel Tomb” contains a provocative remark about that the poem’s celebrated, controversial, closing line, the one about the true nature of immortality: “What will survive of us is love.”
Plato, Our Comrade?
Not surprisingly, there have already been critics of Badiou’s translation. The first is that his translation breaks the formal rules of translation to such a degree that the original meaning of the text has lost its significance. But this critique is inadequate at face value because Badiou’s hyper-translation is forthright in its intention of taking Plato’s concepts and modifying them into his own lexicon.
You may also like :
Germany’s Green Party has reduced the struggle for universal emancipation to small changes in consumerism…
The Green Party as a whole had never really grappled with the contradiction between environmental sustainability and the economic expansionism that is inherent to capitalist accumulation; nor did the majority develop a consistent critique of what was at first a small group of eco-libertarians in their midst, who preached the ‘gospel of eco-efficiency’; in favour of free markets and opposed to state intervention, this was initially directed against the ‘big machine’ of industrialism and statism alike.