Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
From First Read (NBC):
[T]he Palin pick may signal that the McCain folks have concluded that "experience" as a message isn't a winning one, even though they spent the entire summer developing that argument. So they are hoping Palin helps redefine GOP ticket as change ....
The biggest negative about the pick is that on its face, it looks like a political gimmick, a political calculation. And McCain's supposed to be anything but a calculating or gimmicky pol. Indeed, as the Los Angeles Times wonders, isn’t McCain supposed to be the guy putting “country first” and not playing politics? The fact that McCain doesn't know Palin and spent all but a couple of hours getting to know her before making his pick is going to invite A LOT of judgment criticism. The perception is going to be that McCain panicked and wanted to do something radical to shake up the race. Well, he may have shaken up the race, but at the cost of undermining his best asset: that he was ready to lead. This decision doesn't look like it was well thought out, even as Palin has made a tremendous first impression.
Just how well was she vetted? There's going to be a race to define Palin, and while the McCain has bought time by shocking the world with the pick, there's going to be a lot of interest by the press to dig around in Alaska. And this “Troopergate” story is perhaps just the beginning. What's more, since she isn't well know, any little thing could get blown up pretty quickly.
Did anyone notice that there were more mentions of McCain's age yesterday than we've seen in months? Sure, yesterday was his birthday, and the VP pick was always going to serve as a reminder that McCain was seeking to become the oldest first-term president in history. But McCain's age has been an under-the-radar negative for him for some time (just check out any recent poll on the topic). Palin -- being an absolute unknown -- is going to get put through the "is she ready to be commander in chief?" test a little bit more than your average VP pick, simply because of McCain's age. And the more focus there is on McCain's age, the more political danger the campaign faces.
It's not clear how much John McCain knew about Sarah Palin before nominating her.
According to NBC News, McCain had only met Palin once before yesterday, and according to ABC News her selection was made hastily and with only a few days of proper vetting.
Apparently McCain wanted to nominate his friend "Traitor Joe" Lieberman, but his campaign consultants persuaded him that this would result in disaster at the Republican National Convention.
Instead, McCain's advisors suggested three other candidates that had been properly vetted: Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, former Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, and former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.
McCain rejected all three candidates, saying they were "too boring" and that he needed to "shake things up."
And apparently he could not shake things up with competent Republican women like Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Olympia Snowe, or Susan Collins. No, he needed to find a faded ex-beauty queen like his wife.
The result: McCain selected a poorly qualified woman he did not know solely because of her gender and appearance. Yes, that's right: Sarah Palin is the ultimate affirmative action candidate.
But bad judgment and rash thinking are not problems unique to John McCain; they are also characteristics he shares with Sarah Palin.
It turns out that "maverick" is simply a nice term for being a reckless ego-besotted idiot.
Consider this story told by The Wall Street Journal yesterday:
Gov. Palin's opted to board a jet from Dallas in April while about to deliver a child. Gov. Palin, who was eight months pregnant, says she felt a few contractions shortly before she was to give a keynote speech to an energy summit of governors in Dallas. But she says she went ahead with it after her doctor in Alaska advised her to put her feet up to rest. "I was not going to miss that speech," she says.
She rushed so quickly from the podium afterwards that Texas Gov. Rick Perry nervously asked if she was about to deliver the baby then. She made it to the airport, and gave birth hours after landing in Anchorage to Trig, who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. "Maybe they shouldn't have let me fly, but I wasn't showing much so they didn't know," she says.
And we are supposed to put the fate of the nation in this woman's hands?
I would not let her take care of my children for the afternoon!.
When John McCain trotted out Sarah Palin yesterday, she claimed she was qualified to be Leader of the Free World because she opposed a $400 million Alaskan pork barrel project called the "Bridge to Nowhere" which would have linked tiny Knik Arm and Gravina Islands to the mainland (they already had a fine ferry service).
There's only one little detail Ms. Palin left off of that story: It's not true.
In fact, Sarah Palin supported the Bridge to Nowhere because it was pure pork that Alaska could get through earmarks.
The Anchorage Daily News of October 22, 2006 carried a Question-and-Answer on her position on the Bridge to Nowhere less than two years ago:
5. Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?
Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now--while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.
And as for Sarah Palin's supposed "war on corruption," it seems to be a pretty tepid war.
Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, currently under indictment for bribery and corruption (along with his son and most of the rest of the Republican Party in Alaska) put out a press release yesterday saying:
"Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) today applauded Senator John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate on the Republican ticket.
And as for the notion that Palin is some sort of Republic Party reformer, it's pure nonsense. She was standing butt-cheek-to-butt-cheek next to Ted Stevens just 20 months ago, with four feet and her snout planted firmly in the feed trough of American politics.
"This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt and Tweety-Bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's ass when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free."
Happy Birthday, John McCain. At age 72, you would be the oldest person elected to a first term as President of the United States.
You would also be only candidate to ever enter office with four bouts of cancer under your belt already.
No worries though. It's not like your mind is going, is it? No memory lapses for you!
And look at the back-up person you have put in place for us -- a woman who has no experience at all! I'm sure she'll do a fine job.
Who's to say she won't? Let's just watch her tackle illegal immigration and dictators and strong men in North Korea, Iran and Pakistan.
I am sure straightening out Medicare and Social Security is going to be just as simple as getting a new stop sign put up in Wasilla.
No, we are in fine hands with her.
Thanks for taking so much time and care in handling that important decision, John McCain!
Is Sarah Palin a complete nutter?
Or is she just a small-town opportunist?
These are reasonable questions.
You see, Sarah Palin, the person-you-have-never-heard-of, who John McCain wants to make Vice President of the United States, supports teaching creationism in school, and she will not answer if she believes in evolution.
She refuses to talk about Darwin.
Can you imagine what America's science programs would look like if we did not actually teach science?
The Chinese are sure to be cheering this candidate on! How else to make sure they kick our ass for the remainder of the 21st Century?
Palin's logic and thought processes are the kind that can bend around corners.
For example, she is firmly "pro-life" and anti-choice, but at the same time she is also pro death penalty.
Apparently humans are only a "miracle of life" until they are born; after that they are a miserable burden, and can be terminated if incarceration costs the state too much.
Palin also supports the aerial shooting of wolves, even though Alaska residents have twice voted, via ballot measures, to ban such shootings. So much for democracy, and so much for Go'd original intent!
Palin also opposes protection of Polar Bears under the Endangered Species Act, arguing that there are lots of them, and never mind what scientists (and even the Bush Administration) has to say about the matter. Who needs science?
Palin also supports building a several-miles-across open pit gold mine on the edge of the largest Sockeye Salmon fishery in the world. The gold mining company she is pandering for is owned by the British and the Candadians -- and the money to be made will not even stay in this country. It will speed offshore with the speed of a wire transfer.
And, to cap it all off, last week Sarah Palin signed a bill to give $500 million of state tax money to a Canadian firm in order to build a pipeline.
A Canadian company? American tax dollars are now going to subsidize Canadian companies? Wonderful.
"Sarah Palin’s chief qualification for being elected governor of Alaska was that she was not Frank Murkowski.
"... She did not win because of her conservative credentials, her grasp of policy details or because of her track record as the mayor of Wasilla, an office she won in 1996 by collecting 617 votes.
"... in no way does her year-and-a-half as governor of Alaska qualify her to be vice president or president of the United States."
Friday, August 29, 2008
In a brilliant choice of "stunt casting," John McCain has selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice President running mate. The announcement was made (and no, I don't make these things up) at The Nutter Center at Wright State University .
Palin, a former runner-up beauty queen with five children, has been Governor of Alaska for two years, and is married to a man who is 1/8 Yu'pik Eskimo.
Prior to her short tenure as Governor of Alaska (the state population is 670,000, smaller than that of Charlotte, North Carolina) Palin served on the City Council of Wasilla, Alaska (population 5,500) from 1992 to 1996, and was elected mayor of that hamlet in 1999. She has no economic experience, no foreign policy experience, no legislative experience, and has an undergraduate degree (no graduate degree at all) in journalism from the University of Idaho.
After being defeated in a run for Lieutenant Governor in 2002, Palin was appointed Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a post she held for less than two years before resigning to protest the "lack of ethics" of fellow Republican leaders in Alaska.
Palin's major claim to fame in conservative political circles is that she is an anti-choice right-to-life advocate who gave birth to a Down Syndrome child (her fifth child) in April of 2008.
For John McCain, of course, the chief attraction of Sarah Palin is that she is a woman, making her the ultimate affirmative action candidate, selected almost solely for her gender.
Palin's selection by McCain puts the question of drilling in ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) front and center. She and John McCain disagree on ANWR -- though in truth McCain has flip-flopped on so many issues this year that it's hard to know if he stands for anything any more. Palin also disagrees with McCain's good buddy, Joe Lieberman on ANWR. Will McCain tell Palin to be quiet about ANWR, or will John McCain fold on this issue, as he has on so many others?
Time will tell! In the interim, McCain has clearly abandoned the notion that experience matters.
As Michael Halperin at Time magazine puts it:
On the face of it, McCain has failed the ultimate test that any presidential candidate must face in picking a running mate: selecting someone who is unambiguously qualified to be president.
Palin is a talented politician who has both support among conservatives and a compelling personal story. But her short resume in Alaska politics and her nonexistent national track record will make it impossible for McCain to argue with a straight face that she was the most qualified person he could have selected.
In the short term, the pick will create excitement among the kind of grass-roots conservatives who have never been enthusiastic about McCain, and in the media, which will be fascinated by Palin's good looks (matched by those of her dishy husband), intelligence and charm.
But Palin is now going to have to perform at a very high level to persuade the media and the public that she is truly ready to be a heartbeat away — and a 72-year-old's heart at that — from the presidency. How she handles questions about federal issues, national security and foreign affairs will be closely scrutinized, and her margin of error is next to zero.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
This time in America matters, this campaign matters, this candidate matters, your vote matters.
There comes a time in every person's life when their choice can make a difference.
This is that time. You are that person.
4 Please donate to the Obama campaign
"I'll end the War in Iraq responsibly... Finish the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan... Provide affordable health care for every American... Cut taxes For 95% of all working families... End dependence on oil from the Middle East in ten years... Invest $150 billion in renewable sources of energy over the next decade... Rebuild our military to meet future conflicts...."
In the February 11, 2008 issue of American Conservative magazine (partial cover, above) conservative columnist and former Nixon, Ford and Ronald Reagan advisor Patrick J. Buchanan writes in an article entitle "The Great Betrayal":
Ike promised to "go to Korea" and ended that war. Nixon pledged to end Vietnam with honor. McCain says we may be in Iraq a hundred years and warns, "there’s going to be other wars." Take the man at his word.
Mimicking the Beach Boys’ "Barbara Ann," McCain has joked about "Bomb, bomb, bomb—bomb, bomb Iran" and urged the expulsion of Russia from the G-8. He wants to expand NATO to bring in Georgia and the Ukraine. This could mean confrontation between Russia and the United States over whether South Ossetia and Abkhazia should be free of Georgia or ruled by Tbilisi, a matter of zero vital interest to this country.
We are forewarned. John McCain intends to be a war president.
Where Bush has lately cleansed his administration of neocons, McCain offers the last best hope for a neocon return and restoration and more wars in the Middle East. And if, as seems probable, Bibi Netanyahu again becomes prime minister of Israel, he and a President McCain will find a pretext for war on Iran.
Now John McCain's campaign has put out a Iran war-mongering video.
So it seems Pat Buchanan was right. Though McCain's campaign slogan is "country first," it seems he has failed to tell us is that the country he has in mind is Israel.
And never mind the truth. We did not need the truth for George Bush to stampede us into a pointless war with Iraq, so why would we need the truth now when it comes to stampeding us into war with Iran? John McCain is pretty sure you're an idiot, and that "you can't handle the truth."
Of course, not everyone agrees. The folks over at FactCheck.org thought you might want to know what Barack Obama really said, and so they have provided a transcript as an antidote to McCain's lies and deception. Here's what Barack really said:
Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries. That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela – these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying we're going to wipe you off the planet.
And, of course, Barack was right. Even the Bush Administration admits that; they have entered into discussions with Iran themselves.
But McCain is not interested in waging peace; he knows nothing about that, as he himself admits. He knows nothing about creating jobs or building economies. He is vague about geography, and shaky on the fundamentals of Medicare and Social Security.
What John McCain knows are the lyrics to "Bomb, Bomb Iran."
And no, as his own campaign video makes clear, he's not kidding. As Pat Buchanan himself said: Take the man at his word.
Elect this man President, and we will have $10 gasoline, debt without measure, and war without end.
What we will not have is peace in the Middle East. Ever.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
People With Ostrich Feet - video powered by Metacafe
The Vadoma or Wadoma are a tribe living in the west of Zimbabwe, in the Urungwe and Sipolilo districts of the Zambezi river valley. They have few contacts with the Bantu majority surrounding them, and are deeply inbred.
One by-product of their inbreeding is that a very rare condition known as ectrodactylism occurs in a substantial percentage of the tribe.
Once the defective recessive gene for ectrodactylism occurred within the tribe (perhaps through spontaneous mutation), it swept through the closed and inbred population, and soon "doubled down" to express itself as "ostrich feet."
Old Testament Israelites knew this kind of thing could occur in inbred populations -- they had seen it in their own goat and sheep herds -- and so it is not an accident that in Deuteronomy 27:22 it says:
"Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother."
While in Leviticus 18:17 it says:
You may not take as wife a woman and her daughter, or her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter, for they are of one family: it is an act of shame.
Well, yes it is.
It is also a very risky practice to embrace in perpetuity as part of a closed registry system.
And yet, people with dog breeds that are riddled with cancer, dysplasia, epilepsy, and cataracts will tell you it's quite fine; that there is a difference between inbreeding within an isolated human population and inbreeding within a closed registry system of dogs.
But of course, it's a lie bathed in ignorance.
The human ego -- the watch spring driving the Kennel Club machine -- cannot undo the laws of genetics.
Mother Nature always bats last, and the rising levels of disease, deformity and defect within Kennel Club dogs is not an accident; it is the inevitable byproduct of the Kennel Club's embrace of the failed eugenics theories of 19th Century England.
But, of course, the Kennel Club could not do it alone.
It also needs scores of thousands of dog owners to continue to try to marginalize obvious defects within their breeds as simple byproducts of "bad breeding" and "backyard breeders" and puppy mills (and never mind if that it is demonstrably not true).
Surely, all we need to do is cull "the bad ones" they say, lighting the funeral pyre and sharpening the ax.
And what's all this talk about Kennel Club eugenics theories resembling those of Nazi Germany?
Surely no one is against euthenizing the deaf dogs that are the inevitable byproduct of breeding for merle and spotted coats?
And what are we to do with all these Greyhounds and Great Danes and Boxers that have the wrong coat color?
Those breeds have such enormous litters -- perhaps it's best if we just put a few of the "wrong ones" to sleep?
After all, those large dogs of the wrong color are so much more difficult to sell, and you know what happens if you give a dog away; they always end up in the pound. Perhaps it's better if we made sure these excess dogs were in a "safe and secure place" right at the beginning? Nothing wrong with that, is there? After all, we are trying to breed good dogs here. We are trying to improve the breed! And we will do it in a humane way -- a little shot at the vets or else a puppy placed in a plastic bag filled with party-store helium. The dogs go over the Rainbow Bridge in their sleep; there is no violence here. We even play Wagner so they remain calm and at peace right up to the end.
It is because we believe in improvement that we believe in breed purity. Purity is the goal. A pure thing is better than an impure thing.
And to make sure that goal is met, we not only keep meticulous birth records to make sure there is no breed mixing, but we also have breed clubs to serve as racial hygienists.
Surely no one is opposed to a little old-fashioned rassenhygiene?
And you know us. You know we are not bad people! We are good people! We care about the future of our breed! In fact, one index of how much we care is how much we are willing to spend at the veterinarians if our dogs get cancer ... or develop hip dysplasia ... or have perpetual skin conditions. We are bonded with our animals. Nothing but the best for them!
But no, we are not going to let our breed decline and become a mongrel breed. We will patrol for purity and uphold the standard: Not a drop of mixed blood will be allowed!
These guys clearly believe in pure breeding through inbreeding. Don't recognize them? These intelligent-looking fellows, along with two other members of the Aryan Nations, were arrested yesterday with two rifles with high-powered scopes, a bulletproof vest, wigs, walki-talkies, fake ID's, ski masks and methamphetamine.
They said they were in the Denver area and intended to assassinate Barack Obama on Thursday when he accepted the Democratic nomination in an open-air stadium.
One of the Aryan Nations members had a last name of Adolph (apparently his real name), and he jumped from a sixth floor window trying to escape the U.S. Secret Service. He was wearing a swastika-emblazoned ring when he was captured with a broken ankle.
For the Aryan Nations, coat color is very important, which is not too surprising. After all, the man that gave us the dog whistle is also the fellow that gave us the theory of eugenics, which serves today as the foundation rock upon which both the Aryan Nations and the Kennel Club's closed-registry breeding system are built.
Just look at these guys -- don't they look as fit as show ring German Shepherd and as robust as a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?
No cross-breeding or race-mixing going on here!
Oh, and as for Barack Obama, have no worries: the police decided there was no real threat. Four Nazis with with two rifles, high-powered scopes, a bulletproof vest, wigs, walki-talkies, fake ID's, ski masks and methamphetamine might be nothing more than good old-fahioned cross-dressing deer hunters.
No worries. Carry on!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
"The McCain campaign keeps emphasizing that McCain was a prisoner in Vietnam, as proof of his qualification for the Presidency. Well, so was Gary Glitter, and I'm not voting for him either."
Ailes also says:
"Obama/Biden is a better ticket than McCain/Anyone"I couldn't agree more! A hat tip to Dr. H for the Ailes quote.
A repost from Sept, of 2008.
- Hound Dog, Elvis Presley
- The Dog Song, Nellie McKay
- I Love My Dog (As Much as I love You) - Cat Stevens
- Walking the Dog, Rufus Thomas
- Even a Dog Can Shake Hands, Warren Zevon
- I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treat Me) Bobby “Blue” Bland
- If Dogs Run Free, Bob Dylan
- Dirty Ol' Egg-Sucking Dog, Johnny Cash
- Hey Bulldog by The Beatles
- Wild Pack of Family Dogs by Modest Mouse
Did I miss some? Of course!
How about Gonna Buy Me a Dog by The Monkees? Or Everything Reminds Me of My Dog by Jane Sibbery? Or Me and You and a Dog Named Boo by Lobo? Or Black Dog by Led Zeppelin? Or Walking the Dog by Aerosmith? Or Dog On Wheels by Belle and Sebastian? Dog Eat Dog by Adam and the Ants? Or Yellow Dog Blues by Bessie Smith? Or the haunting Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War by Paul Simon? Or the haunting Ghost of a Dog by Edie Brickell (Paul Simon's wife and the voice of The New Bohemians)?
And then there are the great songs about dogs that do not have dog in the title, such a Ol' Red by Blake Shelton or Old King by Neil Young. Or the twisted Dead Puppies by Dr. Demento, or Fido your Leash Is Too Long by The Magnetic Fields.
And where do you place The Bitch is Back by Elton John, with pole dance by Pamela Anderson?
Others? Add them in the comments!
The only requirement is that the song be on Youtube.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The U.K. Kennel Club is trying to protect and preserve failure -- dog breeds that were created in the last 130 years or so that have simply failed to catch on.
The numbers above, show the number of puppies of select "endangered" breeds that were registered with the Kennel Club last year.
Those of you with an eye might notice the greyhound on the list.
What? The greyhound is NOT endangered -- they are a dime a dozen!
Ah yes, but you are talking about non-registered greyhounds. You are talking about working greyhounds. You are talking about ruffians -- dogs that either hang out at the track all dog long, or else poach their dinner in the fields.
You are not talking about -- sniff, sniff -- pure bred greyhounds. Greyhounds with papers. Dogs with pedigrees. Dogs with enough money that that they do not have to work.
Work is so common.
The Kennel Club is not concerned with common dogs or working dogs. They are concerned with noble dogs. Dogs with pieces of paper. Dogs with registrations.
And with these dogs we have a crisis.
It seems that no one wants a Kennel Club greyhound. If you ask folks about it, everyone says the same thing: the Kennel Club dogs are expensive and complete shit as workers go.
Why buy a poorly made Kennel Club knock-off of the real thing when the real thing is still well made and available anywhere, and can run like the wind?
You wouldn't, and neither would anyone else, it seems.
Much the same story is true for the rest of the dogs on the list. The miserable Glen of Imaal Terrier is a dog far too large to work, and its legs are a bowed mess, as the above picture shows. And let's not talk about the genetic diseases here!
The Skye Terrier is another dog that needs to be pushed off the cliff -- nothing but a dust mop attached to a never-ending veterinary bill.
The Manchester Terrier is a dog that never offered anything special to the world. Any dog can rat. The Manchester is a breed with a distinction without a difference -- a dog dealer's dog if ever there was one.
As for Field Spaniels, are any registered dogs actually found in the field? Apparently not. Are any registered Smooth Collies actually found with a shepherd and his sheep? Apparently not.
Hmmmm. As I recall, people are still shooting birds in the field, and they are still herding sheep. What's up?
I will pretend no expertise on shooting dogs and sheep, but I can tell you that no registered Sealyhams are found in the field, even though there's no shortage of folks digging to fox, badger, groundhog, and raccoon in the U.K., U.S,. Canada and the rest of Europe. The work is still being done, but the heavy-bodied, soft-coated, and over-large show Sealyham is not being asked to do it.
Hmmmmm. . . .
Could the problem be with the Kennel Club standard and the Kennel Club rosettes to ruin system?
Heaven forbid! No!
The problem must be the foreigners!
Those damn foreigners are taking away jobs from British dogs! Or at least that the's train of nonsense being pushed on the good reporters over at The Independent newspaper.
But there is good news says the Kennel Club and the sages at The Independent:
"That most British of British breeds, the bulldog, is going from strength to strength, according to the Kennel Club figures."
A bow-legged, barely walking, always farting, hardly breathing, skin-disease plagued dog is being heralded as "the most British of British breeds."
And the Kennel Club is celebrating this "achievement?"
Say no more. Which way to the final exit?
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The lead article over on K-9 Magazine's web site is ...
- Will a Kennel Club Closed Breed Registry Spell Doom for Dogs?
In the wake of a stunning expose of inherent breeding problems within the pedigree dog world, Patrick Burns explains why a closed breed registry will spell doom for dogs...
Also up on K-9 Magazine's web site is a quick look at the farce called the "Accredited Breeders Scheme ":
- The Kennel Club Accredited Breeder Scheme Exposed
In 2004 The Kennel Club set up the Kennel Club Accredited Breeder Scheme. Four years on we ask, is it working?
"Not only can someone who isn't a dog owner become an accredited breeder with the Kennel Club's seal of approval, but people who have never before bred a litter can also gain membership.
"Elbow scoring is not a requirement for breeders that are accredited, it is merely a recommendation -- meaning that breeders who are not concerned about their dogs passing on genetic defects such as elbow dysplasia are still accredited by the Kennel Club. Only a small percentage of breeders that are accredited are subject to home inspections -- meaning that the vast majority of accredited breeders are operating outside of the scrutiny of the organisation that is accrediting them .... The main benefit for breeders that are part of the scheme is that they can advertise themselves as accredited .... One must question whether the puppy buying public is fully aware of how high, or indeed low to give it another slant, the actual standards are to become accredited? It is entirely conceivable that the buyer of a puppy could have more canine experience than the accredited breeder, which seems ludicrous. "
Sometimes Pharaoh forgot how many pyramids he owned.
But he never forgot his message of hope:
"If you liked Egypt, you'll love 100 years in Iraq."
Friday, August 22, 2008
Watch it, and listen carefully, as she details examples of selection for pathology.
"The fact is that breeders, by the very demand of the breed standard, have to select for disease and ill health.
Every single wrinkle, every bowed leg, every long back, and every short face are all unhealthy abberations of human selection which would never exist in nature.
The traits that represent the breed standard should be seen for what they are -- and this is my big thing. We should not be saying "that's what a pug looks like", "that's what a dachshund looks like."
These traits are detrimental deviations from the starting point of a propotioned normal animal full of hybrid vigor. Breeds such as a bulldogs with incredibly high levels of dystocia, would disappear within a couple of generations were it not for veterinary intervention. Let alone the number of animals suffering from skin and ear disease, joint disease, neoplasia, heart disease, and respiratory insufficiency and distress due to obstruction, which all require veterinary intervention to alleviate suffering and improve welfare, purely because of their breed type. ....
I believe it is time we face facts and realize that some of these breeds have to be outcrossed, and some of them must disappear alltogether because their welfare is so bad."
"Ms. Caroline Kisko of The Kennel Club is a liar, and she's not even a very clever or smart liar -- merely a blatant and bold one.
But don't take my world for it.
You can read The Kennel Club's own web site and find the results of their own breeder's survey ...."
What do you do when truth is inconvenient, and keeping membership and income up requires telling a bold lie?
Well, if you are The Kennel Club you lie, of course. And, As Joesph Goebbels's so infamously said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
Which seems to be the The Kennel Club's plan in the wake of the BBC's airing of Pedigree Dogs Exposed.
Instead of looking inward, The Kennel Club's entrenched bureaucracy has decided to try to "manage the controversy" through disinformation.
In short, they are lying and they hope people like you will remain ignorant and believe it.
Taking a page from Public Relations 101, The Kennel Club first tried to "get out ahead" by putting out a press release, claiming the producers of Pedigree Dogs Exposed were prejudiced.
My God, do these people have no insight at all? Perhaps a dictionary, at the very least?
You see, the Kennel Club had not even seen the BBC documentary and they were already denouncing it -- the very definition of prejudice.
Besides, when has the Kennel Club ever opposed prejudice?
Prejudice is The Kennel Club's raison d'etre. It is why they were created, and it is the fundamental underpinning of the Club.
The Kennel Club's entire basis of existence is prejudice against dogs that have the wrong set of papers ... the wrong coat color ... the wrong arc of the tail ... the wrong nose color.
Who cares if the dog is healthy or can do the job? A dog is to be judged solely on paper and solely on looks.
Having attacked the messenger in the most laughable way possible (especially laughable in light of the fact that the BBC is the chief television sponsor of Cruft's), The Kennel Club then rushed out to hire an expensive public relations company to put together a web site.
Now, here's the delicious part: The public relations firm that The Kennel Club hired apparently knows nothing about dogs, and as a consequence they unintentionally illustrated the web site with dogs that are genetic wrecks due to Kennel Club inbreeding.
For example, we have a Dalmatian on the "splash page" of the web site, and never mind the astounding levels of deafness with Dalmatians.
We have a blue-eyed sled dog on another page (a Husky, I think), and never mind the deafness gene associated with blue-eyed dogs.
And, of course, we have a pair of Great Danes -- a dog so beset with cancer, bloat and other issues, that most of the dogs in this breed are dead by age 8.
So what did The Kennel Club do next to "manage the crisis"?
Well, believe it or not, they trotted out Caroline Kisko, the Club's Secretary, to be the "liar for hire" at the level of press, television, radio and internet.
Why Ms. Kisko? I have no idea, other than Ronnie Irving seems to have shot his credibility into the crapper by saying he does not give a damn about science.
Ms. Kisko is quoted on The Kennel Club's apology site as saying that "90 percent of dogs will not suffer from health problems that have a detrimental impact on their quality of life."
Right. And the moon is made of Swiss cheese.
In fact, Ms. Caroline Kisko of The Kennel Club is a liar, and she's not even a very clever or smart liar -- merely a blatant and bold one.
But don't take my word for it.
You can read The Kennel Club's own web site and find the results of their own breeder's survey (PDF).
In that survey The Kennel Club notes that "Health information was reported for 36,006 live dogs, of which 22,540 (62.6%) were healthy, and 13,466 (37.4%) had at least one reported health condition."
More than 37% of dogs had "at least one" health condition???
When you consider that the average age of the dogs in question (healthy and unhealthy dogs combined) was just 5 years old, what you are looking at here is an extraordinary level of disease, deformity, and misery in Kennel Club dogs.
But apparently, Ms Caroline Kisko does not care about that truth.
No, she is paid to do a job, and never mind the dogs. She has been given her marching orders.
I am not, of course, the first person to point out that Ms. Kisko's bold assertions about the health of Kennel Club dogs do not jibe with their own data.
So how does Ms. Kisko reconcile her lies against The Kennel Club's own published survey data?
Simple: she simply says a lot of genetic defects do not matter.
And you will be astounded and amazed at what does not matter according to Ms. Kisko!
For example Ms. Kisko says congenital cataracts do not "materially affect" a dog’s life and so they can be wiped off the defect list.
Congenital cataracts do not affect a dog's life?
Really? What dog is she talking about?
Now here's an idea: How about we rub a little nitric acid into Ms. Kisko's eyes in order to cloud the lenses (all with her permission, of course), and see how she thinks about it then?
I bet the answer changes pretty darn fast!
Of course, Ms. Kisko is not finished, is she?
No, she cannot be finished, you see, because backing out the data on hereditary cataracts alone does not move the numbers down far enough.
More hereditary problems need to be pushed off to the side -- problems like hip dysplasia and epilepsy, for example.
So what does Ms. Kisko do? How does she achieve this?
Simple. Ms. Kisco unilaterally decides that 85 percent of the dogs reported in the breeder's survey that are suffering from hip dysplasia and epilepsy are, in fact, FINE because she supposes that these conditions might not result in premature death or cripple a dog too badly.
Don't worry about hip dysplasia? Don't worry about epilepsy? Who cares if the dog is in pain and has to have surgery? Who cares if the dog is on pain relievers its entire life and cannot be ethically bred? Who cares if the dog is on benzodiazipam its whole life to control seizures?
According to Ms Kisko, as long as the dog is alive, everything is fine.
Right. I would offer Ms. Kisko the opportunity for her to meet one of my old Italian friends who might do a small procedure on her that will partially destroy one of her knee or hip joints. All voluntary, of course. No threat. Pure science. A little "proving of the theory" if you will.
Then, after a Black and Decker drill has wrecked her knee or hip we will get a doctor to write Ms. Kisko a lifetime prescription for prednisone and we will get a willing veterinarian to write a prescription for a Cox-2 inhibitor like rimidyl.
Now I know rimidyl is illegal for use in humans, but I am quite sure Ms. Kisko will agree to an off-label exception in this case just to prove the point that knee and hip joint destruction is really "no big deal."
Come on Caroline; lets do it for science!
Of course, if Ms. Kisko begs off, I will understand.
Ronnie Irving talked a good game about there being no problem with father-to-daughter matings until he was asked if he would have sex with his own daughter and produce a baby from the union!
Talk about a man terrified of a question!
He recoiled like a frog from a blowtorch ....
. . . . or like a Kennel Club spokesperson from a whirling Black and Decker drill placed right at her knee.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Below are links to the BBC show Pedigree Dogs Exposed. It is, as the producers correctly put it, "the greatest animal welfare scandal of our time."
Watch the whole thing. And then read Inbred Thinking for a little history of how we got into this mess.
- Pedigree Dogs Exposed Part 1 of 6
- Pedigree Dogs Exposed Part 2 of 6
- Pedigree Dogs Exposed Part 3 of 6
- Pedigree Dogs Exposed Part 4 of 6
- Pedigree Dogs Exposed Part 5 of 6
- Pedigree Dogs Exposed Part 6 of 6
If it looks ugly, it is because it is ugly.
If it looks immoral, it's because it is immoral.
If it looks ignorant, it's because it is ignorant.
And you want to know the hilarity of it? The ugliness, immorality and stupidity does not stop! In response to this show, The Kennel Club has gone out and hired a publicity machine which is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars buying "Google search terms" in order to steer people to the Kennel Club's site where ... wait for it ... a Dalmatian is the entry point graphic.
A Dalmatian! A breed beset by congenital deafness, and where bad temperament is a way of life!
A Dalmatian! The mind reels.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
All things being equal, smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs.
Of course, not all things are equal, and that is especially true in the dog world.
Take a look at the two graphs below, for example. Though they may look similar, they are not, as they are actually plotted on different axes.
It turns out that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are so unhealthy their mortality cannot be graphed on the same scale as that of the Golden Retriever!
In fact, in Sweden, where this data comes from, it seems that the Golden Retriever is about as healthy as a mongrel -- and in fact may be a bit healthier.
As the Swedish longitudinal analysis of over 350,000 dogs in the Agria Insurance data base notes,
Golden retrievers were at low risk for mortality in this study – only 22% died before 10 years. Golden retrievers were significantly less likely to die of trauma and heart disease and were in the baseline (average) risk group for neurological and tumour causes of death. They were at increased risk in the first age category for locomotor problems, but this effect waned with age as demonstrated by a negative age-breed interaction.
As the Swedish study notes, breed-specific information gleaned from the insurance data can be extremely useful to people looking to acquire a dog and those trying to determine whether an investment in veterinary treatment is worth the expense.
Information on the average survival pattern for different breeds is useful clinical information. Prospective owners should understand that in getting, for example, either a Bernese mountain dogs or a golden retriever, the likelihood of the dog living past 10 years of age is very different. Most owners, once their dog becomes seriously ill or dies, are keen to know if the condition is rare or common, in general or in their breed. Many owners are especially concerned if they feel their dog has died prematurely, that is at a younger than average age. Veterinarians and their clients can also use survival statistics as part of informed decision-making regarding expensive veterinary care and for conditions in which quality of life is an issue. For example, an Irish wolfhound that has survived to eight years has a 76% chance of being dead before 10, whereas an eight-year old golden retriever has a 90% chance of surviving to 10.
The Daily Mail has a nice piece on Pedigree Dogs Exposed which premiers tonight on BBC One):
Vets describe how virtually all cavalier King Charles spaniels develop life-threatening heart murmurs..
And a third have syringomyelia, an agonising condition caused by them being bred with skulls too small for their brains.
Veterinary neurologist Clare Rusbridge said: 'The cavalier's brain is like a size ten foot that has been shoved into a size six shoe; it doesn't fit.
'It is described in humans as one of the most painful conditions you can have, a piston-type headache. Even a light touch - a collar, for example - can induce discomfort.
'If you took a stick and beat a dog to create that pain, you'd be prosecuted. But there's nothing to stop you breeding a dog with it.'
The programme says the drive for perfection has left golden retrievers prone to cancer, labradors with joint and eye problems, West Highland terriers beset with allergies and boxers at high risk of heart disease, epilepsy and cancer.
Pugs are so inbred that although there are 10,000 in Britain, their DNA could come from just 50.
The Pekingese's squashed face causes breathing difficulties that lead to some airlines refusing to fly them.
So serious are the breathing problems that Danny, the 2003 Crufts winner, sat on an ice pack while being photographed afterwards to stop him overheating.
To ensure desirable traits are passed on, male dogs are being mated with their own daughters, sisters and granddaughters.
Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, said: 'If dog breeders insist on going further down that road, I can say with confidence that there is a universe of suffering waiting for many of these breeds and many, if not most, will not survive.'
The Times of London reports that the BBC, which has had exclusive broadcasting rights to broadcast the Crufts dog show for more than 40 years, is reviewing its coverage in light of a programme (Pedigree Dogs Exposed!) that it had commissioned on canine health which shows that the Kennel Club's program of closed registries and beauty-show conformation standards has resulted in a high incidence of inherited genetic disease which have left many pedigree dog in misery.
The Times reports that that "the BBC fears it will not be able to defend its coverage of Crufts after the showing."
Three quarters of Britain’s seven million dogs are pedigree and it is estimated that veterinary bills now amount to £10 million a week to cover what the documentary makers, backed up by evidence from the RSPCA and others, claim are increasing cases of ill health.
The programme showed a prize-winning Cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from syringomyelia, a condition that occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain.
Veterinary neurologist Clare Rusbridge says in the film: “The cavalier’s brain is like a size 10 foot shoved into a size 6 shoe – it doesn’t fit.”
It also showed boxers suffering from epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs who were unable to mate or give birth unassisted.
Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics at University College London, told the BBC: “People are carrying out breeding which would be first of all entirely illegal in humans and secondly is absolutely insane from the point of view of the health of the animals. In some breeds they are paying a terrible, terrible price in genetic disease.”
Selective, or line breeding, is commonplace among pedigree dogs and the Kennel Club has registered dogs bred from brother-to-sister and mother-to-son matings.
The RSPCA’s chief veterinary adviser, Mark Evans, told the BBC: “The show world is about an obsession, about beauty, and there is a ridiculous concept that that is how we should judge dogs.
“It takes no account of temperament or fitness for purpose potentially as a pet animal, and that to me makes no sense at all. It is a parade of mutants; a freakish beauty pageant.”
Dog owners wait to compete at Crufts.
If you thinks going to war with Iran (the John McCain plan for the Middle East) will result in a safer America, a balanced budget, and cheaper prices at the pump, then go ahead and vote for gun-grabbing, eight-house-owning, five-hundred-dollar-shoe-wearing, sick-wife dumping, veteran-kicking John McCain. He's your man!
Monday, August 18, 2008
A study of canine mortality among 350,000 insured dogs in Sweden found that 91% of the wolfhounds were dead by age 10, and that 28 percent had died by age 5.
Half were dead by age seven, and only 37 percent were still alive at age eight.
And this for a breed that does not stop growing until age three!
Well, as is so often the case, the answer is "yes and no." As Paracelsus, the father of toxicology, noted, "Everything is poison, there is poison in everything. Only the dose makes a thing not a poison."
Which is a nice way of saying that it depends on how much pokeweed you are intending to eat, when you are picking it, what part you are eating, and how you intend to prepare it.
Birds routinely eat the berries without harm as their gut cannot corrode the shell of the seed which contains phytolaccatoxin (a fancy latin word which means "pokeweed toxins").
Cows and horses also eat some pokeweed, generally without harm if they do not overdo it. That said, it is generally recommended that pokeberry be chopped out of fields where horses and cows are grazing.
Raccoon and fox will eat pokeberries, and do not seem to be any worse for the wear, though humans are warned off of the berries, as the seeds inside contain the toxins.
Warning off, of course, is not the same as not eating; there are scores of country jam and pie recipes for pokeberries which simply say "remove seeds." Seems simple enough.
Younger leaves are less toxic than older leaves, and it was once common to eat them. The recommended recipe is to boil the leaves, drain the water, boil them again, drain them again, and then boil a third time before serving. The triple boiling draws out and drains off the toxins. The result is a bit like cooked spinach, and is called "Poke Salette," salette being an old English term for cooked greens. The leaves are supposed to be quite good if picked young, but no, I have never had it. I dislike all cooked greens.
So how toxic is pokeweed? As you might have gathered, not very.
Symptoms of pokeweed poisoning include sweating, a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, a severely upset stomach, and possibly vomiting and bloody diarrhea. I can find no reported human deaths, but no doubt they have occurred somewhere sometime. Basically, no one is eating that much of this stuff who does not know how to cook it. Perhaps that will change after the apocalypse.
Pokeweed is sometimes called "ink berry" and in colonial times up until the Civil War it was sometime used for that purpose. In fact the Declaration of Independence is said to be written in an ink made from a mixture of iron gall and pokeberry juice.
In 1969, Tony Joe White wrote and recorded a song by the name of Poke Salad Annie, which was promptly picked up by Elvis Presley who sometimes played it in concert.
The version below features Tony Joe White and the great Johnny Cash. And how about them sideburns?!!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Doug P. came up from North Carolina with his three delightful kids and his fell terrier, Murphy, and we all went digging.
The dogs eventually found the first one of the day in the middle of a large multiflora rose break which I cut down to size with the machete. A little digging, and the first one of the day was accounted for.
The second groundhog was in a field sette, and we let that one (pictured at top) go after digging to it and snaring it out.
The third groundhog of the day was found in a sette I had popped into (and repaired) a few weeks earlier.
Initially we thought we had two groundhogs in two unconnected settes at this location, but it turned out to be the same fellow running some distance. The dogs bottled him and we dug to him and dispatched this one too, as it was in the stream bed where the farmer wants them out.
We were getting a bit hot by now (it is August!), but Mountain found again and was underground in the thick pokeweed. She was not baying, and though Doug and the kids and I looked for her, we could not find her. I eventually walked down the creek to the truck and drove it back up the field, confident the rumble of the truck would let her know the game was up, but Mountain had reappeared on her own with a small cut on her lip. She had clearly found, and no doubt had bolted it.
On the drive back up the farm to Doug's car, I spotted a big hole just inside the corn line and we stopped to take a look and decided to let Murphy work this one solo. She got in fine, but got stuck at a narrow spot which seemed to give the groundhog the time it needed to dig in. We cleared out some extra dirt and swapped in Mountain, and she eventually found it, but by now the day was getting a bit long. Since Doug had a 6 hour drive down to Kitty Hawk, we decided to call it a day and gave this last fellow best; there will always be another dig.
All the pictures, above, are by Kenzie, by the way -- a lovely girl with a gift for photography. All three kids are bug-light bright, so I think the future is in good hands so long as we can keep the world together to pass it on to the next generation.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels mating. To read about the creation and wreckage of this breed, click here.
A new study from Imperial College, London has come out supporting the thesis that Kennel Club dogs have been wrecked by 19th Century genetic theories and show practices which remain the foundation stone of The Kennel Club's closed registration system.
This is bad news for The Kennel Club as the Imperial College study (published in the journal Genetics) echoes the conclusions of a one-hour special entitled Pedigree Dogs Exposed to be shown August 19, 2008 and also on the BBC web site.
Even more damning, the Imperial College study uses The Kennel Club's own data to show how inbred modern purebred dogs have become.
The study, entitled Population Structure and Inbreeding from Pedigree Analysis of Purebred Dogs (PDF) was co-authored by two researchers from the Imperial College's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, an expert from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, and Jeff Sampson of The Kennel Club, who supplied the underlying pedigree data used by the researchers. The research itself was funded by the U.K. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
For folks interested in learning more about the historical background leading up to current levels of inbreeding (i.e. "How did we get into this mess?") read Inbred Thinking -- a concise history of the historical and intellectual development of the Kennel Club and its closed registry system. A printed version of this article appeared in K-9 Magazine in May of this year under the title of "Will a Closed Registry Lead to Genetic Genocide for Certain Dog Breeds?"
Back to the Imperial College study: What does it say, what data is it looking at, and what are its conclusions?
Some summary points:
- The study is based on a 10-breed sample of 2.1 million dogs in the Kennel Club's electronic pedigree data base. The Kennel Club's database contained records of a total of 5.7 million dogs from 207 breeds as of the end of 2006. The Kennel Club's electronic data base was begun in 1970.
- This is the first systematic attempt to study Kennel Club population structure using The Kennel Club's own pedigree database.
- The 10 breeds examined were: the Rough Collie, the Golden Retriever, the Boxer, the English Bulldog, the Chow Chow, the Greyhound, the German Shepherd Dog, the Labrador Retriever, the English Springer Spaniel, and the Akita Inu.
- The researchers note that inbreeding condenses and exacerbates genetic disorders with a population:
"Dog breeds are required to conform to a breed standard, the pursuit of which often involves intensive inbreeding .... This has adverse consequences in terms of loss of genetic variability and high prevalence of recessive genetic disorders. These features make purebred dogs attractive for the study of genetic disorders, but raise concerns about canine welfare."
- The researchers note that many dog breeds are associated with specific genetic disorders that have been magnified by inbreeding:
"Many diseases affecting dogs have high prevalence in one or a few breeds, such as Addison’s disease, common in Portuguese Water Dogs (Chase et al., 2006), interstitial lung disease in West Highland White terriers (Norris et al., 2005), and dermoid sinus in Ridgeback dogs (Salmon Hillbertz et al., 2007)."
- The authors found disturbingly high levels of inbreeding within most Kennel Club breeds they looked at:
"We find extremely inbred dogs in each breed except the Greyhound, and estimate an inbreeding effective population size between 40 and 80 for all but two breeds. For all but three breeds, more than 90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations, indicating a dramatic effect of reeding patterns on genetic diversity."
Or, as the press folks at Imperial College put in in layman's terms: "The researchers' analysis showed that, for example, Boxer dogs were so closely related to one another and had such little genetic variation between them that genetically, 20,000 dogs looked like a population of about 70. In the Rough Collie breed, 12,000 dogs looked in genetic terms like a population of about 50. Such small effective population sizes mean that the chances of a dog breeding with a close relative, resulting in birth defects and genetically inherited health problems, are high."
- The number of generations studied ranged by breed from 5.9 in Greyhounds to 9.0 in the German Shepherds, with an average over the ten breeds of 8.0 generations of dogs analyzed.
- Popular sires are part of the problem, but not all of the problem.
"Popular sires (defined here as > 100 recorded offspring) are evident in all breeds except Greyhound. Golden Retrievers have the largest proportion of popular sires (10%), and conversely the lowest proportion (5%) of male dogs that are sires. . . . Highly-prolific dams (> 40 offspring) are concentrated in three breeds: German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever. Most dams have just one litter recorded."
- A closed registry system is the core of the problem.
"Dog registration rules have only been rigidly enforced for about 50 years, prior to that occasional outcrossing was still possible."
- The Kennel Club needs to change the way it does business.
"We have found that the loss of genetic diversity is very high, with many breeds losing over 90% of singleton variants in just six generations. On the basis of these results, we concur with Leroy et al. (2006) that remedial action to maintain or increase genetic diversity should now be a high priority in the interests of the health of purebred dogs. Possible remedial action includes limits on the use of popular sires, encouragement of matings across national and continental boundaries, and even the relaxation of breed rules to permit controlled outcrossing."