Once again I’m debilitated from lack of sleep, having slept for a handful of hours last night. I have no idea why my insomnia recurred, as I’m following my sleep hygiene rules pretty carefully. But the upshot is that my brain isn’t working well, and posting is a huge effort. It will be light today, and I’ll divert my minimal energy into preparing talks for my upcoming lecture cruise to the Galápagos.
But I thought I’d pose ten questions to the readers of this site to see how attentive they are. (Yes, this is a bit solipsistic.) To answer them all, you’d have to have been a reader for a while. Some are easy, others aren’t, but no Googling or searching the site allowed.
1.) What does PCC(E) stand for?
2.) Give two reasons why canids are usually spelled “d*g” on this site
3.) Why don’t I like WEIT to be called a “blog”? What’s the preferred term for the site?
4.) What is the name of my favorite duck, and how many years in succession have I taken care of her?
5.) How did this website get started?
6.) What was the name of my last cat, and what kin of cat was it?
7.) From what region does my favorite red wine come?
8.) What must all readers do before they put up their first comment?
9.) What is the name of Steve Pinker’s teddy bear? (This was the subject of a contest a long time ago.)
10.) What was the great insight I had on an acid trip when I was in college?
The New York Times’s opinion section has started a new series whose purpose is outlined in the article below by By Ezekiel Kweku, the Opinion politics editor.
But America is not young anymore. Whereas it was once spry and excitable, it is now creaky and soft. The country that passed Prohibition and created Social Security now spends decades dithering over how large a role the government should play in health care. The country that went to the moon shrinks at the challenges presented by climate change. Its bold and expansive political imagination has atrophied.
There are, of course, reasons for this settling. As the historian Daniel Immerwahr argues in a guest essay, hard partisanship makes it difficult to create coalitions for sweeping changes. Wars, which once smashed through gridlock, no longer lead to collective action.
Not all of the big changes were completely — or even ambiguously — good. The economic boom of the industrial age was fueled by the blood and sweat of exploited workers; the country’s westward expansion came at the expense of Native Americans. But America in its youth was a country confident and unafraid to confront the future. What if it could recover that spirit of invention and restlessness, the risk-taking that formed this country? What would it change? What could it be?
This is the idea behind Snap Out of It, America!, a new series from Times Opinion. It will present not a single, cohesive vision but an array of ambitious ideas from across the ideological spectrum to revitalize and renew the American experiment.
The series will come out every Wednesday, but I’m not going to be paying a lot of attention. Click on the screenshot to read Kewku’s whole article
Now the fun part: a quiz! Yesterday, as part of this series, the Times decided to revitalize America by imagining not two but six political parties falling on a two-dimensional plot of social conservatism and economic conservatism. There’s a brief intro of the seemingly thin rationale at the screenshot below:
America’s two-party system is broken. Democrats and Republicans are locked in an increasingly destructive partisan struggle that has produced gridlock and stagnation on too many critical issues — most urgently, the pandemic and climate change.
There is no reasonable or timely way to fix this broken system. But there is an alternative: more parties.
It is not so hard to imagine a six-party system — and it would not even require a constitutional amendment.
The description of how to get to such a system is below. But first, whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent (or other), in the 20-question quiz below, you can discover which new party would be the best fit for you.
Now that’s gonna work. We’ll have the Christian Conservative Party, the Patriot Party, the American Labor Party, the Growth and Opportunity Party, the New Liberal Party, and the Progressive Party.
Which one would you belong to given your social and political views. Click on the screenshot below to take the 20-question quiz. At the end it will slot you into one of the six parties and tell you a bit about it. If you want to skip the quiz and read about these imagined parties, just go here.
Here’s the first of 20 questions; many of them are about race:
I took the quiz twice independently several hours apart, and both times fell into the same party. (I didn’t remember my answers to the first round.)
This is a description of that party:
The New Liberal Party is the professional-class establishment wing of the Democratic Party. Members are cosmopolitan in their social and racial views but more pro-business and more likely to see the wealthy as innovators.
Its potential leaders include Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Eric Garcetti and Beto O’Rourke. Based on data from the Democracy Fund’s VOTER survey, this party would be the best fit for about 26 percent of the electorate.
I guess I can’t be unhappy with that, as I’m on the liberal side of both economics and social attitudes. Still, I don’t know what this means, what I’m supposed to do about it, or how I can use my slot to revitalize America.
Of course you’ll want to know where you fall, too, so comment below and we’ll put a quiz here showing where readers fall.
Yesterday’s “Guess the music stars” quiz, which showed famous musicians (rock and country) as young kids and asked you to guess who they were, got a surprising amount of attention. In lieu of today’s wildlife photos (send yours in, please!), I’ll give you the answers to yesterday’s quiz, along with my comments.
The photos came from a set published on the “Don’t worry be happy” public Facebook page on May 4 of last year, and you can see the photos, and others I didn’t show, at this link. I was surprised at how few were guessed correctly by most people, but of course I knew the answers when I posted them, so to me it seemed easier than it really was. But on to the photos!
1.) Carlos Santana. This would have been one of the hardest for me to guess, I think, but a fair number of people got it.
2.) Ron Wood. This would have been tough for me as well because I’m not a big Stones fan.
3.) Neil Young. COME ON, PEOPLE! How could you miss this one?
4.) John Lennon. Another toughie.
5.) Johnny Cash. Maybe the overalls would help given his poor background as a farmer’s son.
6.) Janis Joplin. Of course! Lots of people got this one.
7.) David Bowie. Another hard one.
8.) Freddie Mercury. Did anybody get this?
9.) Van Morrison. You can sort of see the future rock star in there. . .
10.) Mick Jagger. Lord, this one isn’t easy!
11.) Jim Morrison. Another hard one.
12.) Paul McCartney. Come on! This is dead easy!
13.) Keith Richards. Not easy. . .
14.) Elvis Presley. Everybody should have gotten this one.
15.) Sting (Gordon Sumner). Not that easy.
16.) Chuck Berry. Not that easy, either.
17.) Ringo Starr. In my view, this one’s easy.
18.) Same as #5, Johnny Cash.
19.) George Harrison. The hair color would throw you off if nothing else.
20.) Mark Knopfler. A fair few people got this one, but I wouldn’t have.
Since you did so well, here are two more musicians to guess. All comments and guesses below, please.
Can you resist this given that the quiz—which of 22 birds are you most like?—was designed by the estimable folks at Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab. Take the quiz here, and see whether you’re most like a kestrel, an American robin, a bald eagle, a blue jay, a Canada goose, a chickadee, a crow, a goldfinch, a great blue heron, a great horned owl, a ruby-throated hummingbird, a magpie, a mallard, a mourning dove, a northern cardinal, a northern mockingbird, a peregrine falcon, a red-tailed hawk, a rock pigeon, a raven, a snowy owl, or a screech-owl. Now this is just for fun, but can you resist?
The quiz’s notes; each question has four choices.
Cornell Lab ornithologists and educators examined the personality and behavior characteristics of 22 North American birds, to help create this fun personality quiz. Now you can find out which bird you are most like (or is most like you) based on 15 simple questions.
This quiz is a companion to AM I LIKE YOU?, a children’s book by Laura Erickson and Brian Sockin, illustrated by Anna Rettberg.
It turned out that I was a kestrel: here’s my diagnosis. I am single-minded and determined, I’m not particularly graceful, I do like to travel, I don’t like going to baseball games that much, and I am NOT tolerant of messy living quarters. So it goes. I still like kestrels, though.
Evolutionary biologists and amateur photographer John Avise continues with his series on North American ducks. The object is for readers to learn all our ducks as a project in quarantine. You have to guess which one is shown in these photographs, and then see the answer, a duck fact, and a range map below the fold. John’s comments are indented.
Now, name this duck (many of you will get this one):
Evolutionary biologist John Avise has a backlog of duck photos to help us through the pandemic. As I said, every Sunday I’ll post his photos of a single species, and your job is to guess the species. By the time we’re out of lockdown in a few years, we’ll know all the duck species!
Here are the photos. An ID, range map, and John’s Duck Fact O’ the Week is below the fold:
Click “read more” to learn the ID and other stuff about the species.
Evolutionary biologist and avid bird photographer John Avise continues our weekly series in which readers are challenged to name the species of duck show. Click below the fold to get the answer, along with John’s Duck Fact about the species. A preliminary comment from Dr. Avise:
During these difficult times, I find it comforting to reflect upon the fact that life goes on as usual for all ducks and other creatures. Here are my photos of our next Duck O’ the Week:
Reader Simon called my attention to this quiz in the Washington Post that asks about your views on issues like gun control, immigration, government-sponsored health care, voting rights for felons, the Electoral College, and other stuff that we’ve been talking about. You get to answer 20 multiple-choice questions, and after giving each answer you are shown which Democratic candidates agree with you.
At the end, they tally up your answers and tell you which candidates agreed with you most often overall.
Take the test by clicking on the screenshot, and put your results below. Big fun!
And here are my results. I guess that makes me a centrist rather than a “progressive” Democrat. So be it. I’d still vote for any of these folks were they the candidate.