ScienceIAmA biologist who studies flammulated owls (tiny owls that are less than six inches tall). AMA!
Mar 1st 2018 by atlasobscura • 18 Questions • 1458 Points
Hi everyone! I am Niall Ferguson. I am the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard, where I served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. I am also a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. I have written fifteen books, including The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild, Empire, Civilization and Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, which won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize. I am an award-making filmmaker, too, having won an international Emmy for my PBS series The Ascent of Money. In addition to writing a weekly column for the Sunday Times (London) and the Boston Globe, I am the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, an advisory firm. I also serve on the board of Affiliated Managers Group. My new book, The Square and the Tower, was published in the U.S. in January.
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EDIT: And that's it folks. It's 11:02am in Stanford and I have to get back to my day job. Thanks to all of you for really great questions. My RSI is now killing me, but it was fun!
Are small owls filled with an equal amount of rage and malice as their larger counterparts or is it scaled down with their size?
How did you experience Thatcher's politics? As a photojournalist living and documenting back then you must have witnessed a lot e.g. her cuts in welfare and the falklands war. How did the labour class respond?
It depends on what prey they consume. The Flammulated Owl feeds on insects, therefore it is less aggressive than other owls. Albeit, if I approach a nest with young the adults may be aggressive and dive-bomb me.
I experienced it first hand and covered the coal strikes in the North East of England. And I saw first hand the devastation of mining communities where there was literally no food in many cases that mothers and fathers could put on the table for their children. The police were more like a state agency, administering rough justice to anyone who was opposing the closure policies. The brutality was in many cases appalling and certainly of the same brutality which I had witnessed in Ireland and in other civil wars and riots around the world. I photographed the effects of the strike of both individuals and communities and I saw the levels of poverty into which people were forced. I also witnessed how communities have been divided, between those who worked and those who were forced to go back to work.
The labour class responded with a great deal of resistance on all levels across England. Particularly students were outraged by Thatchers policies and I think even her supporters were sometimes appalled by the consequences of her strategies and her determination to crush the working classes and defeat any opposition to her policies.
The strange truth about the Illuminati. After all the crazy conspiracy theories, it was really gripping to read about this weird little South German sect of radical Enlightenment thinkers in the 1770s who thought they could infiltrate the Freemasons and undermine Roman Catholicism.
What's the strangest interaction you've ever had with a tiny owl?
Thank you! I’ll definitely check out your book!
Great – let me know if you have any difficulties. Best wishes, David
If you're even slightly right-leaning, keep it secret until you have tenure. These days the degree of ideological conformism is even worse than it was in the 1980s, when I was starting out. Then there were still Tory dons at Oxford and Cambridge, whose support was vital to me: notably Norman Stone, Jack Plumb and Maurice Cowling, as well as Jeremy Catto. That was a wonderful network, as they were both brilliant and fun.
Hi good question. lots of good books on the subject and I suggest you search for them on Amazon or Google. I have conducted the research into the subject of mind control and have even made a short video on the topic which had a post on the www.thewayitwas.uk Facebook. I have one book which could be a special interest to your studies based on the appalling work done on mental patients by a Canadian psychiatrist in the last decades of the last millennium. I will dig out the title and getting across to you in a subsequent email. Good luck with your searches it's a fascinating area. David
I haven't begun writing vol. II, so I wasn't side-stepping Sam's question, just making sure I didn't preempt myself. My argument is for consistency. My hunch is that either there are a lot of war criminals who have led the State Department / U.S. government or none, depending on your definition. What seems highly implausible to me is that there is only one, and that is Kissinger. Remember, the main basis for this claim is a really shoddy little book by my old friend Chris Hitchens. He was many things, but a lawyer wasn't one of them.
Hello Dr. Mika. Thank you for this intriguing and adorable AMA.
I wonder, what kinds of environmental pressures select for such smallness? In other words, what is the advantage to being so tiny and cute?
Were you the author of "Blood Cotton", the anonymous review of Edward Baptist's book which was withdrawn from the Economist? It is widely rumoured to have been written by you.
Thanks for your kind words! I suspect their adaptation to hunt for insect prey aided in the selection for this size. If there are enough insects in an area, the parents will stop by their nests many times a night, which seems to be a great way to raise the young and provide them with plenty of resources. If conditions are good, catching insects and being small to do so is a great way to be successful as a species.
Did you ever do any surveys in the Spring Mountains? I worked there for a number of years and camped under vocal flammulated owls a few times. All night it was just "Hoot." "Hoot." "Hoot." "Hoot." with no real enthusiasm behind it haha. Never got to see them, though.
What does Russia want with the Trump administration and vice versa? I keep hearing that they’re both populist but Putin is a strongman from the top down and Trump’s policies seem to favor the very very rich. Neither seems particularly “populist” to me.
As a matter of fact, I received my PhD at UNLV pretty close to the Spring Mountains and yes, I did surveys for them near the ski resort and in some neighboring canyons as well. I didn’t focus on that area that much since one of my colleagues had done extensive surveys for the species in the area. However, good memories from my time as a graduate student! I did work for the Nevada Dept. of Wildlife surveying most other mountain ranges in Nevada for the species and provided them with extensive data on the Nevada populations. These were some great summers I spent in some of the most beautiful mountains (on most under-rated ones) in the west. Nevada is more beautiful than what the public thinks ;)
Oligarchy is the key word here. Trump campaigned as a populist, governs like an oligarch. Each relates to the other. Putin however has a goal beyond making money: he wants to weaken the West and restore Russian power. I'm against that.
What are the main predators of flammulated owls? Do other, larger owls eat them?
What's the wrongest pronunciation of your name you've ever heard?
Expanding on a previous answer where red squirrels and other larger owls are most likely the main predators of Flammulated Owls, there is always a threat to young owls right after they fledge and are vulnerable to predation. You’d have foxes, bobcats, etc. able to kill young before they are able to maintain flight. But that’s mostly for a short window right after the young jump out of the nest and have to hide in low bushes or can climb up trees to find safety before they can fly.
Asking for an emotionally unstable biology student friend- how does one get a job?
Get as much field and research experience as possible, already as undergraduate student. Have him/her find a faculty who does interesting work and participate in their lab or field research. Then use that experience to apply for field positions or seasonal positions to advance the knowledge and expertise. That is the first step towards a graduate degree. Then it depends on what career he/she wants to pursue. If a government job sound interesting, a Masters is usually enough and almost better suited for such a move. For academia, a PhD would be necessary. I hope that answers the question and ‘stabilizes’ the friend or yours!