Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Counting bats on a Saturday evening

While most normal people spend their Saturday evenings going out to dinner followed by either a movie or a show, I spent this past Saturday doing something entirely different: counting bats!

There is a local cave here in the Tucson area that is a maternity colony for one species of bats. During the summer the females gather here to gossip and then give birth to their babies, after which they move on until next year. Because of a desire to help these bats, a few years ago the managers of the cave decided to close it during the summer months. This way humans wouldn’t be there to disturb the mothers during their labor.

The managers also decided to do regular bat counts of the bats leaving the cave each evening to feed, in order to get an estimate of the population size. To everyone’s delight they found the numbers rising year-to-year, following the summer closure. The total population of bats isn’t actually going up, but it appears that bats are finding this cave to be a good place to give birth, so more and more of them are making it their summer residence.

In the end the situation will contribute to an actual rise in population, as providing the maternity colony a safe haven will allow for more successful births and more babies.

In the past three years the bat count numbers over each summer would exhibit a typical bell curve, going up and then declining as the summer progressed, with the largest numbers ranging between 75 to 150 each night. However, last year there was one evening in which no bats left the cave. The bat biologist leading the bat count, Sandy Wolf, has theorized that this might be because the mothers are synchronizing their labor so that everyone gives birth at the same time and, because of that, on that night no one exits for feeding.. She knows that some species do this, but for this particular species such behavior has never been documented.

Anyway, she decided to find out. This has required that someone be at the entrance counting the bats at least every other evening. (In past years the counts were only done about once a week.) This has required more help, and thus Sandy has called for volunteers to do the work.

And that is how I and fellow caver Jerry Isaman ended up hiking up the hill to the cave with digital camera, infrared lights, and monitor this past Saturday.

The camera and infrared lights were aimed at the entrance, with the monitor set up about thirty feet away, hidden from the entrance. We could watch the monitor and easily see bats entering and leaving, with me counting those going out and Jerry counting those going in. The camera meanwhile taped everything, so that our counts could later be confirmed and checked for accuracy.

I had expected this would be both boring and difficult to do. You start staring at the monitor unceasingly at around sunset, and nothing usually happens for the first fifteen minutes or so. Then the first bat flies out. I think “Whoopie!” as I click my clicker counter.

I found. however, that spotting the bats was far easier than expected, and that the work was not really boring at all. Once the first bat left things got busy for about a half hour, with bats flying out about 2 to 4 per minute. Then things quieted down, and after 90 minutes, when nothing flew out for 10 full minutes, we shut down and packed up.

The most challenging part of the count was when a bat decided to go back into the cave. It appeared that many of them had to plan their entrance and couldn’t do it on the first attempt. They would circle around several times, dive toward the entrance and then change their mind the last second, repeatedly faking Jerry out, who was about to count them for re-entering the cave and now could not. I meanwhile had to make sure I didn’t count them as exiting the cave.

The coolest thing about Saturday was the count itself: We counted 218 bats leaving, the highest count of the year. Though we were not there on the night no bats came out, confirming Sandy’s theory, our count once again indicated that the population using the cave is increasing.

I hope to do this again later this summer. It might not be the traditional way to spend an evening, with dinner and a movie, but it certainly is more interesting.

Readers!
 

I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.


Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Your support is even more essential to me because I not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.


You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:
 


 

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


 

If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652
 

Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.

2 comments

  • David Hollick

    Bob,

    Were you able to determine the species of bats in the cave? White nose is still destroying colonies here in the eastern US – has it reached the warmer caves in the southwest yet? Hopefully it will remain contained, but it is creeping slowly westward.

  • The species is well known, though I can’t tell you what it is.

    After spreading very quickly throughout the northeast in the first three years, following the normal flight patterns of bats, white nose has essentially stopped spreading very much since. I had expected it to reach Mammoth and then head north into Indiana. That has not yet happened. There has been a little creep west, but very little. The one sighting in Oklahoma has now been dismissed as a false positive. Right now the fungus has essentially not yet reached the Mississippi. And there is no white nose in the southwest, at all.

    Moreover, out here there are no winter hibernation issues, as the winters are mild. The bats are not likely to starve should they be forced out of hibernation, should white nose eventually get here.

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.

 

However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.

 

Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *