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Monthly Archives: May 2015

Well, today I saw a list of jobs with the highest divorce rates. The top of the list was “Dancers and Choreographers,” followed by “Bartenders.” My sister was a Dancer who married a Bartender! They have been married for about twenty years now – defying the odds.

And here is a photo of a butterfly I took today.

Polygonia interrogationalis. A Question Mark. "Question Mark" is the name of butterfly.

Polygonia interrogationalis. A Question Mark. “Question Mark” is the name of butterfly.

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Will somebody please tell me what the hell has happened to the New York Public Library. I’ve only been gone from town for four or five years. One of the things I’ve always loved about this city is what a fabulous library system we have. However, since I’ve been back, half the books I want to check out are listed as only available by reserve at the main branch, which I won’t call by the name of the arrogant millionaire who paid money to get his name on the building.

I was writing something and wanted to check out a detail that I had read in a book years ago. The book is Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fisher. It’s a commonly cited book. It shouldn’t be rare or hard to find at all. If there is an example of the sort of book that public libraries were intended to make available to the public, that would be it. Yet, the New York Public Library only has one copy and it’s not even a circulating copy. It can only be read by appointment at the millionaire’s name building. This is not the first time I’ve had this happen. Multiple times this year I’ve bought books at the local Barnes and Nobles because they were only available on reserve at the library. What the hell is going on? Why are so many books reserve only? I used to use the library all the time. In fact, when I was in college, I rarely used the school library and was able to use the Mid-Manhattan Library for ninety percent of my academic papers.

How can there have been such a decline in such a short period of time. I have my speculations, but this is just going to be a petulant little outburst so I can get back to writing my longer thing. Barnes and Noble’s had the book for same day delivery in Manhattan. I just have to decide if I want to spend the money.

If anyone runs for mayor based on restoring the library, and I mean the collection and the hours of operation, not the damned building, which has been restored with funding from millionaires, I will vote for you!

Today, I saw an American Redstart. It’s another tiny little warbler. First I noticed the male, and then a few minutes later a little gray bird caught my attention. I didn’t know what it was, so I snapped a picture. I believe it’s the female.

Redstart-Male

Redstart-Female

At the edge of the lake, I saw a sizable bird that resembled a heron but was not one of the herons I know. Looking it up, I found out it was a Black-crowned Night Heron.

Black-crowned-Night-HeronWhen he turned his head, you could see the long plumes.

Black-crowned-Night-Heron-GroomingBy some bushes, I heard some loud cries. I watched and an adult American Robin hopped along the ground followed by two fledglings. The adult continued to hop forward and the babies followed making quite a noise. The adult appeared to be showing the young ones how to forage for themselves. It was very cute.

Robin-FamilyFinally, I saw the irises have started to bloom.

Iris-by-Lake

For my readers outside of the United States, the Pew Research Center is an organization that conducts data-driven social science research on issues and attitudes shaping both the United States and the world. They are “nonprofit, nonpartisan and nonadvocacy” and their research is widely cited and is generally considered reliable. They focus very heavily on polling and demographics. They have regularly published research on the United States’ religious attitudes and demographics.

The U.S. Census does not ask questions about religion.

The Religious Landscape Studies were designed to fill the gap. Comparing two virtually identical surveys, conducted seven years apart, can bring important trends into sharp relief. In addition, the very large samples in both 2007 and 2014 included hundreds of interviews with people from small religious groups that account for just 1% or 2% of the U.S. population, such as Mormons, Episcopalians and Seventh-day Adventists. This makes it possible to paint demographic and religious profiles of numerous denominations that cannot be described by smaller surveys.

A few key items that might interest people:

  • There has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of people identifying as “unaffiliated,” a group that includes agnostics and atheists. They are the second largest group after Evangelicals.
  • All major Christian groups, Evangelicals, Mainline Protestant and Catholics, have declined as a percentage of the population. Mainline Protestants and Catholics have declined dramatically. Evangelical Christians have grown in absolute numbers, but declined slightly as a percentage.
  • Non-Christian faiths have grown, with the main growth occurring among Hindus and Muslims.
  • Switching religions is a common occurrence in the U.S.
    • “If all Protestants were treated as a single religious group, then fully 34% of American adults currently have a religious identity different from the one in which they were raised.”
    • “If switching among the three Protestant traditions… is added to the total, then the share of Americans who currently have a different religion than they did in childhood rises to 42%.”
  • Religious switching has mainly resulted in gains among the unaffiliated. “But for every person who has joined a religion after having been raised unaffiliated, there are more than four people who have become religious “nones” after having been raised in some religion. This 1:4 ratio is an important factor in the growth of the unaffiliated population.”
  • The percentage of the unaffiliated who describe themselves as atheists or agnostic has grown.

You can read the report on the Pew website.

I don’t have any thoughts on the report yet myself, but I’d love to hear yours if you have any.

I took so many pictures yesterday, including flowers and landscapes, I’ve decided to just concentrate on some of my “birding” pictures. Right now, on the East Coast of the U.S., in the mid-Atlantic states, we are having what is known as “the warbler migration.” The wood-warblers, family Parulidae, are small song birds many of whom winter in the Caribbean, southern Florida and eastern Mexico. Central Park, as it happens, is a great place to look for birds. There is a lake in the park, and immediately to the north of the lake is a wooded area known as “the Ramble.” This is the prime place to go to look for warblers. I’m new to this, and I only saw a few species, and got photos of fewer.

I went to the park again. Under a tree, eating some seeds were two ducks. One was the oddly colored duck that I saw a few weeks ago.

Dark-Duck

A typical male Mallard was with her.

Two-DucksI may be jumping to conclusions, but in my mind the other duck is the same male I saw before and the dark duck is a female.

I also got some nice pictures of a pair of geese, one on a nest and another standing at a distance.