I think this week we reached peak stupidity on the part of the educational system. Up at Hamline University in Minnesota…it’s a private liberal arts progressive institution of ‘higher learning’ (at least they claim to be such) that has a now former adjunct professor named Erika López Prater. She is a teacher of art history and her course for the just completed fall semester was on the history of religious paintings. In this course she and the class analyzed various…religious paintings…including a portrait of the prophet Mohammed, Buddha, and several others. It’s important to note that some…perhaps even the majority…of people of the Muslim faith consider visual images of their prophet blasphemous. Now Ima not Muslim…remember Ima a bear so I have no religious leanings at gall…but looking at Wikipedia and doing a quick google I can see that this isn’t a universally held belief by folks in that religion and it’s the more fundamentalist conservatives in the religion that believe this. Nonetheless…going back through history…there have been many paintings of the man done…and many of them are hanging in mosques…and likely most of them were done by painters of the faith itself.
A little background…as
seen in this article…the professor is both a person of color and is seems to be of the faith herself since her hair is covered. Nonetheless…she realized that visual images of the man are controversial to some in the faith so in her syllabus she indicated that paintings of him would be analyzed and that anyone with concerns should contact herd. None did. When it came to the time in the class when the painting was to be displayed…she again emphasized the possible controversial attitudes about the piece and invited any class members to depart for that portion of the class…and I presume that their grade would not have been affected if they chose to do so. Again…none did.
Then after the fact…one…count ‘em…one…student complained to the university that she had displayed this islamaphobic painting. The universities response…she was fired, they announced that she was undeniably islamaphobic, stated that “respect for Muslim students overrides academic freedom”, and that they condemn the hateful abuse on the students as a result of this controversy.
But…a slight problem with that interpretation. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) stated in a subsequent article that while it strongly discourages visual representations of the man…there is a clear difference between analyzing them for academic purposes and using them for offense or hatred…and that she should to have been disciplined. I also saw several other opinion pieces…all by Muslim authors…who stated that the man himself would have had no issue with the paintings and that he had suffered far worse Islamaphobia by his contemporaries than was evidenced by the painting.
As of this writing…she remains a former adjunct professor but I’m pretty sure that Hamline University is going to lose the lawsuit for wrongful termination she will likely file.
Nuts I tellya.
Anyways…after their night at the Holiday Inn Express in Lakeland they headed off early Friday morning to Circle Bar B Preserve arriving just after dawn and headed off on their morning’s photography exhibition.
Heading toward the trail…Neil got this shot of early morning dew on the vegetation.
They spotted a Red Bellied Woodpecker…yeah, I know the major portion of red you can see is the top of his head…but an actual Red Headed Woodpecker looks like his whole head got dipped into a can of paint…the Red Bellied has the red top of his head but gets its name from the sorta reddish brown color on his breast. Like many other woodpecker species…it gathers food during the summer months and stores the acorns, nuts, or whatever in holes it’s poked into the bark of a convenient tree. Then sometimes…they move them from one place to another as seen in this sequence. It is pulling one out in the first shot, then the second and third show it flying about 4 feet to another tree before stashing it again in the last shot. Maybe it’s moving it from the pantry to the food prep area…that’s what Neil says anyway.
Early in the walk they spotted this pair of Sandhill Cranes sorta hunkered down in the grass.
Connie spotted a couple of something or other warblers…they generally call these things taunty birds as they just hide in the brush and taunt you by calling but are too well hidden to find.
This one was actually on the same tree the Red Bellied Woodpecker was using before.
They spotted a Red Shouldered Hawk…they think, it was pretty far out and they couldn’t decide for sure.
This is what the path through the Preserve looks like.
Great Blue Heron.
Double Crested Cormorant…they probably took 3 dozen shots of this individual from about 10 feet away…but the only shot Neil thought worth posting was this one from Connie.
The hawk flexing his wings…or maybe just having trouble keeping balanced on the little twig it was sitting on instead of the fatter branch just below it.
This was one of a pair of Sandhill Cranes that flew right over their head.
No real flowers seen that day so she shot some Spanish moss instead.
And a Little Blue Heron…again her shot was better than his as he didn’t get one that wasn’t with a partially obscured head.
They got a little closer to the Red Shouldered Hawk as they switched to another trail.
Connie spotted this White Ibis in the tree.
And this Moorhen just underneath it.
Off the trail a bit they spotted this Harrier…it really blends into the trees for camouflage.
This is the most people habituated wading bird we’ve ever seen…it’s a Great Egret that was (a) apparently eating insects off the plant or the plant itself instead of fishing…maybe it’s a vegan egret instead. It then walked right by them on the path close enough that they could have reached out and grabbed it if they wanted to. Really nice breeding plumage on this individual.
On the way back they saw the same pair of Sandhill Cranes in exactly the same location…so it is very likely that this is Mr. and Mrs. Crane sitting on the nest and brooding eggs. Once they hatch…the young are not known as cranelets…they’re called colts…and don’t ask me why, I dunno.
With that their day was done…so they headed off to St. Petersburg for the final leg of their expedition on Saturday morning. After a wonderful dinner at a tavern Connie found…they were up early and headed down to Fort DeSoto State Park only to find it closed…they did get a couple shots of an Osprey and a nice sunrise over the bay but were otherwise disappointed so they headed home.
The good news is that once they got home there was some activity out back at the pond.
Snowy Egret with breeding plumage…this one was right behind our lanai.
And a Wood Stork…we’ve seen plenty of these down here but this is the first one ever seen at our pond…and we saw it the next couple of days as well…and like all Wood Storks…it’s got a face only a mother could love. No feathers at all on its head. They’re pretty big birds as well…both it and the Sandhill are bigger than the Great Blue Heron which is normally the largest…well, tallest anyway…species we see.
Interesting things found on the net.
More math nerdery…Gelfond’s constant named after…you guessed it…Aleksandr Gelfond…it is defined as e to the pi power…and like both of it’s progenitors (well, pi we’ve discussed here before and e is actually named Euler’s Number which is the base of natural logarithms (ln) as opposed to regular old logarithms which are based on the number 10 (log). I googled a bit and could find no actual use for Gelfond’s constant beyond the definition.