Friday, 15 February 2013

Reason in this Season

In these days leading up to the 25th, Ellyn von Huben reflects on the "fun" holiday that has replaced Christmas, the lukewarm version of a celebration which, lacking in meaning, offers little more than the occasion for twinkle lights and used wrapping paper. This Christmas, we certainly need more than that. Ellyn explains.  

Christmas is hard to avoid. For the devout Christian who wishes to keep his heart in Advent it is almost adversarial. The music and decorations begin right after Halloween; as I have mentioned before, the American Thanksgiving holiday has been subsumed as minor part of the ramping up to Christmas. And Twelve Days of Christmas exist for many people as just a song echoing in their heads as they haul the Christmas tree to the curb on December 26. It’s a given that it won’t be heard on radio or Muzak at that point.

Given the saturation of Christmas in America, it is not surprising that those who do not believe should appropriate the trappings and fun of the holiday. Really, what’s not to like? There is sentimental music, food, glittery decorations, and presents - all to be enjoyed.

Thursday, 9 August 2012


Reason is the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, mathematics, and art, and is normally considered to be a definitive characteristic of human nature.The concept of reason is sometimes referred to as rationality and sometimes as discursive reason, in opposition to intuitive reason.

Reason or "reasoning" is associated with thinking, cognition, and intellect. Reason, like habit or intuition, is one of the ways by which thinking comes from one idea to a related idea. For example, it is the means by which rational beings understand themselves to think about cause and effect, truth and falsehood, and what is good or bad.

In contrast to reason as an abstract noun, a reason is a consideration which explains or justifies some event, phenomenon or behaviour. The ways in which human beings reason through argument are the subject of inquiries in the field of logic.

Reason is closely identified with the ability to self-consciously change beliefs, attitudes, traditions, and institutions, and therefore with the capacity for freedom and self-determination.

Psychologists and cognitive scientists have attempted to study and explain how people reason, e.g. which cognitive and neural processes are engaged, and how cultural factors affect the inferences that people draw. The field of automated reasoning studies how reasoning may or may not be modeled computationally. Animal psychology considers the controversial question of whether animals can reason

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Swainson's Thrush

Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), also called Olive-backed Thrush, is a medium-sized thrush. This species is 16–18 cm in length, and has the white-dark-white underwing pattern characteristic of Catharus thrushes. Swainson's Thrush was named after William Swainson, an English ornithologist. The breeding habitat of Swainson's Thrush is coniferous woods with dense undergrowth across Canada, Alaska and the northern United States, also deciduous wooded areas on the Pacific coast of North America. These birds migrate to southern Mexico and as far south as Argentina.

The coastal subspecies migrate down the Pacific coast of North America and winter from Mexico to Costa Rica, whereas the continental birds migrate eastwards within North America (a substantial detour) and then travel southwards via Florida to winter from Panama to Bolivia. Swainson's Thrush is a very rare vagrant to western Europe. It has also occurred as a vagrant in northeast Asia. This species may be displaced by the Hermit Thrush where their ranges overlap. Possibly, the latter species adapts more readily to human encroachment upon its habitat. At least in the winter quarters, Swainson's Thrush tends to keep away from areas of human construction and other activity.