Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tomorrow's Superbowl Ad Today

Adopt a Dog

Go on, take a look.
Just see what's available.
So you can tell others.


Coffee and Provocation

Hawaiian Hawks are Soaring
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering removing the Hawaiian Hawk ('Io) from the federal Endangered Species List. Since there is so little good news about Hawaiian birds, this one goes on top.

Petland Blames HSUS for Buying from Puppy Mills
Gina at Pet Connection gets out her screw gun to put it to Petland for trying to blame HSUS for the fact that Petland buys dogs from puppy mills. Eh? How's that work? Not well. As Gina notes: "[T]he chain seemingly can’t figure out which of their high-volume puppy-pumpers keep their animals in hideous, crap-filled, exposed-to-the-elements conditions — as opposed to merely miserable, lonely and nerve-jarringly loud ones for all their sad, deprived and empty lives — because …wait for it … Petland says the HSUS won’t turn over its reports." Unbelievable. Read the whole thing. And remember, the American Kennel Club not only profits from the whole thing, but they want to expand their business with commercial high-volume breeders selling to pet shops and on the Internet.

Fishing Museum Salutes Fish Poisoner
The American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vt., asked Dick Cheney to be a guest of honor at their spring 2009 meeting. Ted Williams (see blog roll at right) ripped a new one into the museum, noting that Cheney is "arguably the most dangerous enemy of fish in our generation" and that he "angles for trout in Wyoming in one of the rivers he hasn't ruined with gas and oil extraction (which just happens to run through his ranch)."

Brilliant Messaging
The Surfrider Foundation has joined forces with Saatchi & Saatchi LA to produce the "Catch of the Day" guerrilla ad campaign in which trash is collected from beaches across the U.S., then sorted, packaged like seafood, and strategically placed around local farmers’ markets. Check out what's fresh. Mmmmm ... old condoms. And if you like that bit of ninja advertising, you'll probably love Barbie Liberation Day.

Surgery and Your Dog
When it comes to crucitate ligament injuries, is your vet presenting all of the facts and all of the options, or is there a real conflict of interest at work here? I have written in the past about this (see here and here). For folks who want to read more, check out Treating Canine Ligament Injury: Looking Deeper Into A Recommendation For Surgery which has been together by Max . I particularly like the long quote from Veterinarian Mike Richards who notes that: "There is an old joke about a man walking around the city banging two sticks together. When asked why, he replies 'I'm keeping elephants away.' When told that there aren't any elephants in the city, the man replies 'See, it's working!' . . . I feel a little like I'm talking to this man when I ask veterinarians about the results they get when they attempt to stabilize a dog's stifle joint after cranial cruciate ligament ruptures occur. Most veterinarians strongly advise surgery. Most dogs who have surgery eventually walk pretty well. However, most dogs who don't have surgery eventually walk pretty well, too." Read the whole web site at Treating Canine Ligament Injury.

God Bless Claire McCaskill
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has just introduced a bill to cap the pay of any CEO whose company accepts federal bailout money. Under the terms of the bill, no employee of a bailed-out company would be allowed to make more than $400,000 -- the salary of the president of the United States. Said McCasskill in explaining the need for legislation: "We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer .... They don’t get it. These people are idiots. You can’t use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses." well actually, you can. They did. And that's the problem. She's already got my vote.

Wisconsin is Neck Deep in Bears
It seems that a two-year study has found that the black bear population in Wisconsin is two to three times larger than previously thought. As a result, the bear-kill quota will increase by 55 percent to 4,585 bears for the state, and the number of hunting permits will be increased by 57 percent. For more data on bear population growth in the U.S., see this older post from this blog.

Deer Racing: It's All About Proper Motivation
I have come across a real rabbit-hole of a web site called English-Russia, and for starters, I will send you here which is a post about reindeer races among the Sami people. Notes the web site in its wonderful fractured English: "These days is a great day for the dwellers of Northern regions of Russia. The polar night lasting many days before when the Sun didn’t come above the horizon and the land was covered with the darkness ends. People come from all the regions to celebrate. The main fun during celebration is the deer race. People bring their best deers and race, race, race. The looser deers are being eaten then, like, they did not satisfy the expectations, giving the big meals to everyone." Check it out!

Keeping the Kids Too Safe
I had a toy chemisty set when I was a kid. Whatever happend to those? Well, it turns out they have been more-or-less banned. The current versions have no glass tubes or beakers, no alcohol or Bunsen burner, no lithium, no red phosphorus, no sodium and no potassium, as these chemicals might be used by meth heads. Current sets also have no sulphur, no potassium nitrate, and no magnesium strips, as that suff might help someone make fireworks ... or be used by the terrorists! Basically, all you do now is make perfume and colored water. Read all about it here.

Was It All Just a Small Change in Lighting?

Thank God, no. There is a brain inside the one on the right.

Bosco, the Mayor of Sunol, California
Patti S. sent me a link to the delightful story of Bosco the dog, who was the mayor of Sunol, California in the late 1970's through 1994. This is a dog that was so beloved, that after his death he became a statue, a bar, and then a beer dispenser. Check it out!

Shenandoah Mountain Cur Rescued from Extinction!
Luisa has managed to find one of the very last pure-blood Shenandoaha Mountain Curs, and is nursing it back to health. This breed made its way west with Custer and was thought lost forever. A historical find of a much-storied breed.

Math Problems
I am a victim of "the new math" -- that absurd teaching fad that left an entire generation poisoned and wrecked to the point we would rather lose our life's savings than actually balance a check book. Now someone has made a video that seems to actually show the new math as I remember it being taught. Priceless.

Dwarf Rapes Nun, Flees in Flying Saucer
The Healthcareblog reminded us that fear sells newpapers, even if it is entirely contrived. And nowhere is that more true than in the area of health care: "If you’ve just read a health-related headline that’s caused you to spit out your morning coffee ('Coffee causes cancer' usually does the trick) it’s always best to follow the Blitz slogan: 'Keep Calm and Carry On.' On reading further you’ll often find the headline has left out something important, like 'Injecting five rats with really highly concentrated coffee solution caused some changes in cells that might lead to tumors eventually.' (Not to mention that the study was funded by The Association of Tea Marketing).The most important rule to remember: 'Don’t automatically believe the headline.' It is there to draw you into buying the paper and reading the story. Would you read an article called 'Coffee pretty unlikely to cause cancer, but you never know?' Probably not."

Pinups for Pitbulls
It all started with an old lady's gardening club which stripped down to their knickers for a charity calendar in England somewhere. Now everyone is doing it, and so we have the Pinups for Pitbulls calendars with proceeds to go to bully rescues. Good and excellent, but sadly there appears to be no actual nudity in this one. Bummer. Some nice trucks though. Am I the only one that thinks a Pinup for Pitbulls calendar should maybe have a few pitbulls in poodle skirts thrown in? Come on -- show us some leg!

That's Funny

Murder by Can Opener, Salvation by Restraint

As I have said before: the number one killer and maimer of dogs in this country is the can opener. That is probably true the world over; I believe this photo came from Australia.

A lot of people -- including some veterinarians -- do not really know what the correct weight is for a dog.

Here's the answer: If you cannot easily feel your dog's ribs, it is too fat.

And I don't mean you should have to dig into the flesh to feel those ribs -- you should be able to run your hands down the side of a dog and feel at least three or four of them without even trying.

If you have a smooth-coated adult dog like a pointer or a smooth-coated Jack Russell, you should be able to see at least two or three ribs when the dog breathes deeply after running a short distance.

Rest assured that no one who reads dog-oriented web sites and books is ever going to have a dog that is too thin. People who sign up for canine list-servs, buy books on dogs, and read pet columns in the newspaper are much more likely to feed their dogs to death than they are to run their dogs even a pound or two too light.

How do you get the weight off a fat dog? Simple: stop feeding it so much.

Portion control IS weight control.

Lovers and Fighters

So that's how that's done. I always wondered.

Ouch. That's going to leave a bruise in the morning!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Treadmills, Slat Mills and Turnspits

The kind of enclosed turnspit, seen above, required a very small dog to run inside the wheel and turn a chain drive going to the fireplace. The chain drive, in turn, turned the meat on the fire and sometimes ran a bellows as well.

Most of the small turnspit dogs were mutts of various types (terriers, small spaniels).

One type of turnspit dog that was "prettied up" for the show ring, however, was the Glen of Imaal terrier. The low carriage of this dog helped it fit inside the wheel.

Larger dog-powered turn mills were possible, but were uncommon. The contraption, above, was one of two different styles created to power a small sewing machine shop in 1888.

More common than wheels or turnspits in which the dogs ran inside a round wheel, were larger canine treadmills or slat mills in which the dog ran on top.

These dog mills were fairly common canine-power sources which could be used in a kitchen to run a butter churn or centrifugal milk separator, or moved outside to the barn in order to run a corn sheller or bean sorter.

Farms that did not have suitably large dogs could substitute a goat or sheep to do the same job.

Of course, slat mills are still around today, albeit now they are simply used to keep large dogs in condition and not to power farms, kitchens, or small machine shops.

Though a slat mill or rug mill (a slat mill that has a carpet-band for traction) can be used to keep a running or bird dog in shape when out of season, most slat and rug mills today are sold to Pit Bull owners (many some of whom are dog fighters). Click here to see several modern offerings, and note the "rape rack" of the type that was used by Michael Vick and his "Bad Newz Kennels."

Owney the Taxidermied Railroad Dog

Owney was a stray terrier mutt who, back in 1888, wandered into the Albany, New York, post office.

The clerks, too busy to chase him away, let him stay and he eventually fell asleep on some mailbags and became attached to the smell or texture of the satchels.

Owney began to follow the mailbags and soon he followed a few of them right out the door to the train station.

Not stopping there, he hitched a ride with a few trains and he eventually traveled with the mail bags not only all across the state, but all across the country, collecting little tags and trinkets on his collar as he went.

In 1895 Owney somehow found his way on a boat to Alaska, and from there he traveled around the world, first to Japan, and then through the Suez Canal to Europe, before returning back to Albany.

See the video at the National Postage Museum web site.

On June 11, 1897, Owney boarded a mail train for Toledo, Ohio. While he was there, he was shown to a newspaper reporter by a postal clerk.

The story is a little vague from there on out, but apparently Owney became ill-tempered, bit someone, and was somehow shot for his troubles.

Distraught mail clerks raised funds to have Owney taxidermied, and he was presented as a slightly-bizarre mascot to the Post Office Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In 1911, the department transferred Owney to the Smithsonian Institution, where he has remained ever since.

Today Owney is on display in the atrium of the National Postal Museum, which is located in the old Post Office building, next to Union Station, in Washington, D.C.


Zombies, Time Wasters and Anonymous Cowards

I did not start this blog to meet you.

I did not start this blog because I wanted to answer stupid questions from people who are too lazy to use the Google.

I did not start this blog because I wanted to engage in endless political debate with unintelligent ideologues with wacko political theories, or food faddists, or breed-blind frustrated hair dressers.

I did not start this blog to give a voice to cowards who will not use their real names and give their real email addresses.

For several years, I simply turned off the comments section to this blog rather than deal with the never-ending tide of trolls who confuse blogs with chat rooms or list-servs or Internet bulletin boards.

About a year back, I opened up the comments part of the blog after Blogger embraced technology that more-or-less killed the advertising spam bots, but I still get trolls and fools, and instant experts who think they will slip their nonsense out to the world by piggy-backing it into the comments section of this blog.

What to do? Do I want my time to be controlled by anonymous fools who post in the comments section?

Or do I want to write on what I want to write about, and spend the rest of my time with family, friends, and normal life tasks?

Do I simply let nonsense stand and hope someone else will take their valuable time answering or rebutting it?

And why should I host a space for complete nonsense anyway?

At the end of my life, what would I rather have done? How will I wish I had spent my time?

How much time theft should I allow from people I do not know, who do not have real names, and will not use a real email address?

A few months ago, I added pointed instructions to the comments section of this blog.

That helped a bit, but not enough.

So now I am imposing a new rule: No Zombies.

If you are a left-wing, vegan, bunny-hugger zombie, go away. I don't want to hear your shit and neither does anyone else.

Ditto if you are a right-wing paranoid zombie who cannot stop talking about how important your right-to-carry is. Go away. This is not your spot.

Ditto if you are a Lyndon LaRouche zombie, or a Ron Paul zombie. Go away.

If you are a dog food faddist zombie, go away.

If you are a pit bull fighting zombie, go away.

If you do not have a real name and a real email address you are willing to attach to your comments, then you are a zombie. Go away.

If you are a proselytizing born-again anything kind of zombie, go away.  If you are a stalker, a nutter or a pretender, go away.

I write what I want to write about, and if you don't like it, go away.

If I have a well-formed political opinion, and you disagree with it, go away. Or at least STFU. Start your own blog.

I did not start this blog to provide a forum for you!

Blogs are about attraction not promotion.

If you do not like what I am talking about, go away.

This blog is not a democracy and you have no rights here. If you are having a hard time with that idea, go away.

Does that mean I get it right on all the time? No, of course not.

Sometimes I get it wrong, and I am quick to correct when I do. But if I got it wrong, please supply a link to a credible source. Use the Google. And do not confuse anecdote with statistics or typing with writing. If you are writing really long and have no sources, you are doing something wrong.

If I have obviously slipped in my logic, or missed a good example, or forgotten part of a history, or gotten a number wrong, let me know. It happens, and I thank people who let me now.

But if you are simply a Zombie, a Troll, or an Anonymous Coward, or a typist, go away.

I do not have the time, and I will not supply the forum.

Terrierwork Weights and Measurements

My old $5 fish scale, bought some years back at some forgettable roadside superstore (only the best for me!) was found to be out of true weight a few weeks ago.

Apparently I have been bagging critters a few pounds heavier than I thought. Who knew?

I have gone digital now, and the new scale arrived last night. It will weigh things up to 110 pounds, and it has a very nice hook on one end, so things should be much easier.

I have never weighed my tool kit -- what I actually carry with me out into the field -- and so I took the opportunity to do so now, and it's about what I expected: the pack with shovel, tie outs, water bottles, machete, yoho trowel, snare, leashes, etc., weighs 30 pounds, the digging bar nine pounds, and the posthole digger a little over 12.

All in all, I am going into the field carrying over 50 pounds, which can feel like a quite a bit weight at the end of a long day in the hot sun and after a few digs on the dogs.


Mano-a-Mano: Millan Vs. Psycho Chihuahuas

On television later today, Cesar Millan is scheduled to take on psycho chihuahuas.

This should be amusing, not because the dogs have such terrible issues (although many do), but because the owners are often so terribly confused about who they are, what the dog is, and how to establish a caring, clear, consistent and coherent relationship between themselves and their animal.

And if you think attack chihuauas could not possibly do any real damage, be sure to send a get-well note to Jacques Chirac, who was recently hospitalized after his pet maltese attacked him. A small dog can still "bite you in the vagina."

Cesar Millan is generally working with dogs
that have been seriously messed up by their owners.

I have very little time for folks who criticize his techniques because they themselves have managed to clicker train a labrador retriever puppy that they got at eight weeks of age and so, by extension, they assume they are experts on every aspect of canine training.

You will pardon me if I think I know one small thing about dangerous dogs and dangerous animals in general: popping a clicker while your neck bone is being chewed on is a sure-fire program for failure.

If you have never seen or worked with a truly dangerous dog (and Millan does it all the time), then please drink a nice warm cup of shut-the-fuck-up, and go play with your labrador retriever.

Ditto if you have never been seriously bitten by a dog, have never broken up a dog fight without being bitten yourself, or are an expert in primate and corvid behavior and assume -- by extension -- that you are an expert in canine behavior as well. You aren't.

The simple truth is that when most clicker trainers are faced with a really violent adult dog (big or little), they say the same thing: Put it to sleep.

To his credit, Cesar Millan does not. Instead, he has taken in hundreds of violent dogs over the years, and he has turned their lives around.

No, it's not pure-positive clicker training.

It's something much older than that -- something that has always worked and will always be in the repertoire of a true animal trainer: Calm assertive power, simple and consistent direction, a coherent message said in the language of the dog, and a level of caring that goes beyond click-and-treat and kill-it-if-it-ever-bites.

Millan is willing and able to do something few other wanna-be dog trainers are willing and able to do: take aggressive basket-case dogs, and prove most of them can be turned around and rehabilitated.

And yes he believes in the sensible use of choke chains, lots of excercise, and establishing a pecking order in the pack, in which he is the alpha.

For the record, he is also all for treats, cuddles, and scratches behind the ears. He's just not interested in doing that while the dog is gnawing on his bones and attacking the house guests.

For those interested in reading an earlier and longer post about what Cesar Millan does, why it works, and where most of the "clients" in these dog-training shows have gone wrong with their dogs, read >> A Balanced Trainer for Unbalanced Dogs.

And if you think you can do a better job with violent dogs than Cesar Millan is doing, then be sure to call up National Geographic. I am sure they can find a few red-zone Pit Bulls and Jack Russells for you to work with while their cameras are rolling.

Film at 11!

A Bird Dog with Enthusiasm, But No Ability


Dog Logic: It's Best to Cover All the Bases


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ken Salazar Is OK with Me

Ken Salazar, complete with bolo tie.

To hear the right-wing reactionaries tell the tale, Barack Obama has sold his soul to the Humane Society of the U.S. and PETA.

And their evidence for this?

The shocking news that a couple of lunatic organizations on the far-left fringe decided to endorse Barack Obama for President rather than the senile John McCain and his gum-chewing sidekick whose credentials seem to have been limited to her bodacious set of double Ds.

Woooeeeee! All I can say is I'm sure glad I don't hunt with these folks!

Talk about missing sign!

Take the obvious stuff -- like who Barack Obama has put in charge of the U.S. Department of Interior.

The Deparment of Interior controls a HUGE amount of land in this country:
  • 264 million acres of Bureau of Land Management country (an area three times larger than all of Great Britain);

  • 96 million acres in the National Wildlife Refugee system (an area larger than all of Great Britain);

  • 84 million acres in our National Parks system (an area about the size as Great Britian);

  • 55.7 million acres of Indian Reservation land (an area about the size of England), and;

  • The Bureau of Reclamation (which supplies water to about 1/3 of all the people in the American West).

And oh yes, the Deparment of Interior also controls the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and it is also in charge of implementing the Endangered Species Act.

And who did Barack Obama put in charge of all this?

A hunter.

A western hunter.

A western hunter who wears a cowboy hat.

A western hunter who wears a cowboy hat and who supports trophy hunting of Polar Bears.

A western hunter who wears a cowboy hat and who supports trophy hunting of Polar Bears, and who thinks we need to start rounding up and humanely shooting feral horses on western lands where they are so overpopulated they are wrecking the ecology.

A western hunter who is a longtime member of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus "whose sole purpose is to preserve and strengthen the rights of hunters and fishermen."

A western hunter who signed on to Dick Cheney's amicus curiae brief in the Heller (gun) case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

So that's Ken Salazar.

A friend of the lunatics at PETA, and the direct mail mill known as the Humane Society of the United States?

I don't think so.

But did the folks on the right even notice?

Do they even understand what agencies decide things in Washington?

No. And apparently not.

So who did Barack Obama tap to run the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency in charge of commercial breeding of livestock, crop support, and farm policy?

None other than Tom Vilsack, the former Governor of Iowa.

Have you ever been to Iowa?

Every job in the state is connected to farms, pigs, cattle and crops.

You cannot get elected to home room monitor in that state unless you are pro-farmer and pro-agricultural livestock production.

This is a state with 3 million people, 4 million cattle, and 19 million hogs.

You want to talk chickens? Fine. Iowa leads the nation in egg production with 52.4 million chickens producing 13.9 billion eggs a year.

You want to talk turkey? Fine. Iowa, produced 274 million pounds of turkey last year.

All told, over 6.60 billion pounds of red meat were produced in Iowa last year, as well as 4.28 billion pounds of milk.

So that's Tom Vilsak, and that's where he comes from. He's their kind of guy.

Is Tom Vilsack a friend of the PETA lunatics and the direct mail mill known as the Humane Society of the United States?

No, I don't think so.

But did the folks on the right even notice?

Do they even understand what agencies decide things in Washington?

No. And apparently not.

But of course, Barack Obama tried to do more. He tried to get former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to join his Administration as Secretary of Commerce.

Now, on a good day I am only luke-warm to Bill Richardson. I cannot tell you why. Something... Dunno; maybe it's the fact that he's always smiling while he works out the angles. He's either a great diplomat or a used car dealer, and I'm unsure of which.

But I can tell you that Bill Richardson is a hunter.

So am I worried about Barack Obama embracing some sort of extremist Animal Rights agenda that is going to stomp all over hunting and the commercial raising of livestock?


This country is clearly full of lunatics on the far right and the far left, but I am pretty sure Barack Obama is not one of them.


Sir David Attenborough Gets Hate Mail

It turns out that famous nature documentary maker Sir David Attenborough gets hate mail from Christians.

Why am I not surprised?

From The Guardian:

Sir David Attenborough has revealed that he receives hate mail from viewers for failing to credit God in his documentaries. In an interview with this week's Radio Times about his latest documentary, on Charles Darwin and natural selection, the broadcaster said: "They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance."

Telling the magazine that he was asked why he did not give "credit" to God, Attenborough added: "They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator."

Attenborough went further in his opposition to creationism, saying it was "terrible" when it was taught alongside evolution as an alternative perspective. "It's like saying that two and two equals four, but if you wish to believe it, it could also be five ... Evolution is not a theory; it is a fact, every bit as much as the historical fact that William the Conqueror landed in 1066."

Starbucks Economic Leadership

I am have written a little about my coffee habits in the past.

Now, let me note that in the world of coffee, Starbucks is cutting 6,700 jobs and closing 300 stores after reporting first-quarter profits that fell more than expected.

What? A serious economic recession has had a negative impact on a place that sells $4.00 coffees?

Yes, it is true.

But Starbucks being Starbucks, they are teaching by doing.

If crashing economic troubles means fewer jobs for Starbucks employees at their 16,8145 stores in the U.S. and 61 in Australia, then it will not be a burden only shared at the bottom.

And so Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has asked the board to cut his annual base pay from $1.2 million (last year) to less than $10,000, or the minimum required to maintain benefits for him and his family.


Imagine if the top managers of Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda and Chrysler did that? Or if the tops managers at Citibank, Wells -Fargo, and Bank of America followed suit?


La Vie En Rose


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cass Sunstein Is OK with Me

I have just gotten my sixth or seventh email about Cass Sunstein who is an animal rights lunatic.

Sunstein is also a very accomplished legal scholar and academic but, in my opinion, those people are a dime a dozen in this country, and so let me simply toss Sunstein into the basket of Animal Right lunatic .

See? He fits perfectly.

So what are all these Cass Sunstein emails about?

Simple: I am supposed to be hyperventilating because Barack Obama has put Cass Sunstein in charge of all regulation in the Federal Government!! An animals rights lunatic is going to run ALL of the U.S. Government!

Really? There is such a job? One guy runs all of the U.S. Government?

News to me, but I have only been 27 years getting legislation through Congress. What the hell do I know? Not much -- ask anyone!

So I looked up Sunstein and, more importantly, his job. And you can too.

Sunstein will head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration.

What does that office do?

Not nearly as much as you think.

First this is an office that was established in the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act.

In short, it's an office about bureacracy. It's not an office that initiates anything. Congress and Federal agencies still do that.


I though the last quarter century of my life had been a joke and dream. OK, it has been a joke, but at least it was not a dream. Two houses of Congress, the President, and the Federal Agencies are still making laws -- with approval of the courts. It is not yet being done by the Wizard of Oz behind a magic curtain. Thank goodness!

So what does the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs do? Mostly it serves as an arbitration unit between federal agencies in conflict with each other, and it serves as an anlysis shop where draft regulations are looked over and rethought and quantified.

Federal agencies often produce rules and regulations which are overly elaborate and ornate, and which require companies and agencies to do a lot of work for perhaps not too much benefit.

This office tries to discourage that. In short, it is the shop where cost-benefit analysis is done.

Is Cass Sunstein the man for that job?

Probably. You see, while he absolutely thinks there is a place for regulation, he is also a bit of a cynic. He wants to see the cost-benefit analysis. He wants to see the numbers.

Though a liberal, he has raised questions about the constitutionality of workplace safety laws and the Clean Air Act, and he thinks that the lives of younger people might be worth more than the elderly since we are talking about relative years of life (and productivity) lost.

In short, Sunstein is a bean-counter's bean counter.

This is a guy who is willing to ask tough questions, and whether you like those questions or not, tough questions are the job over at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

So Sunstein is probably a good fit.

But will Sunstein be initiating policy or regulations?

No and nope.

Sunstein's job is simply to be a skeptical bureaucrat and point out where unintentional losses and gains might be occuring due to government action.

Sunstein's bloodless economic framework scares the hell out of the left.

Environmental activists in particular are saying his cost-benefit analysis is the kind of crazy-tune stuff George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan might salute.

Business interests, on the other hand, have generally saluted his nomination, hoping he might be a backstop to aggressive regulation to improve workplace safety and oversight in the food and drug arena.

Ok, fair enough, but what about the animal rights stuff? Won't Sunstein be the guy in charge of: 1) returning all the chickens back to the wild, or; 2) banning beef, or; 3) banning dog breeding, or; 4) banning hunting?

No. Absolutely not. Are your crazy? Not remotely his job.

But ... but ... but ... I got this email you sputter.

Yes you did, but in this day and age you REALLY DO need to slow down and rope your own cattle when it comes to information.

This email was generated by a "chain pull" from the folks over at the "Center for Consumer Freedom."

First, a few words about the Center for Consumer Freedom.

To start with, every single word in its name is a lie.

It is not a "Center" at all -- it is little more than the account of a public relations firm.

The Center for Consumer Freedom was started by ad man Richard Berman "to unite the restaurant and hospitality industries in a campaign to defend their consumers and marketing programs against attacks from anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-meat, etc. activists ..."

In short, for those of you who have read Christopher Buckley's delightful book, Thank You for Smoking, this is the "MOD Squad" come to life -- Merchants of Death lobbyists in Washington and their paid apologists and liars for hire.

And, to put things in perspective, let me give you some numbers: Smoking kills about 400,000 Americans a year, booze kills another 100,000 Americans a year, and God Himself cannot tell you what poor FDA regulation and diet choices are doing in terms of mortality and illness.

Berman and the Center for Consumer Freedom will not tell you who their donors are. This is really ironic since, a web site run by Berman and the Center for Consumer Freeedom, is all about "exposing" funding from the other side.

So who funds the Center for Consumer Freedom? Who knows? But I suspect you can guess. Do you really need a weather man to tell you which way the wind blows? I bet not!

The bottom line is that the Center for Consumer Freedom operates as little more than an independent nonprofit public relations firm for for-profit companies whose products are not healthy and predictably kill hundreds of thousands of people a year.

And there is nothing wrong with that. We have a lot of transvestite people in this country, so why not a few transvestite nonprofit organization as well? And it's not like it's the only one is it? No!

What makes the Center for Consumer Freedom unique, however, is that in their war with PETA (and to a lesser extent the Humane Society of the U.S.) they are aligned against an entity that really is as stupid, evil, wrong and an even bigger fraud than the Center for Consumer Freedom is.

Which is saying something!

Nor is everything
the Center for Consumer Freedom saying wrong -- much of it is correct, if not entirely complete.

But if you are smart, you should never take what others are saying as dicta. Especially stuff that comes to you via unsolicited email!

Embrace the Cass Sunstein model, and be skeptical. Do the research and look up independent sources.

Use the Google.

And if you use the Google on Cass Sunstein, as I did, you relax quite a lot and you think the Obama Administration put the right guy in the right job for this one.

Does that mean Cass Sunstein is not an animal rights lunatic? No. He is certainly that.

But so what? There are a lot of animal rights lunatics in this country, and they have always been in government.

But one man does not make law or regulation in this country, and over at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, no one is making law and regulation. They are only counting beans, reducing paper work, asking whether every rule and regulation is really needed, and trying to get warring federal agencies to fight less. And I think Sustein might be the right man for that job.

So why did the Center for Consumer Freedom do a chain pull on this guy? Why the Chinese Fire Drill?

Simple: the Center for Consumer Freedom needed to do something to show its corporate masters and donors that they were on top of things as far as the Obama transition was concerned. The fact that Cass Sunstein is not a real problem is a never mind as far as they are concerned. I mean, this guy is going to be the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama Administration!!!!!! Surely that will panic the troops! And the fact that the troops will panic will impress the corporate masters and result in more money flowing into the Center for Consumer Freedom.

Which is how it works in these astrotruf organizations.

You see, Washington, D.C. astroturf organizations are generally started by public relations firms like Berman's and they are almost always maintained by contrived crisis.

And it's a good business.

The corporate folks who pay their bills are actually in the advertising departments of their respective industries, and most could not differentiate a real political problem from a contrived one if they had an Audubon Field Guide in their hand.

And so PR-firm created astroturf organizations like the Center for Consumer Freedom are able to drum up imaginary problems and then fix them for their corporate clients. It's a lot like Filipino Psychic Surgery in which you "cure" patients of cancers they never really had.

Welcome to Washington. Welcome to my world.

650 Millions Years in 20 Seconds

650 Million Years in 1 Min. and 20 Sec.

Plate tectonics impacts terrier work. I have said so before, and now you can see why and how.


Only In Japan


Monday, January 26, 2009

Best World War II Poster Ever

A real poster! And a Jack Russell, of course. A nice looking one I might add!

The G in GSD Stands for Gimp

Manchester, U.K. Show. Link

Normally when you see dogs as lame and as poor on their feet as these German Shepherd Dogs (GSD's), you figure the dog is ancient and "on its last legs."

Sadly, these dogs are young and considered top show prospects. This is raw footage from Pedigree Dogs Exposed, but you can see the same kind of wrecked GSD in any show ring in America or Great Britain today.

Max von Stephanitz, the “father” of the German Shepherd, feared it would come to this, and he warned breeders to eschew show ring points and focus instead on putting work and health front and center. Writing in 1929 he said:

My main “warning-cry” concerns itself with the direction of the breed, which many breeders – many novices – still subscribe to, a direction that would lead us off the beaten path, far off of our breed goal; toward breed ruin.

In all my articles, lectures, and judges reports of the last few years, I have desperately tried to point out that we must cling to the breed standard of the working dog, and I gave reasons why we must do so – as it was once laid down, as a model of the breed’s design. I have emphasized over and over again that we should not get overly engrossed in details of outward characteristics, even if they are ever so attractive, when, for the breeding value of the dog, he must be based entirely and decisively upon the totality of hard constitution, good health, endurance, authentic working structure and stable temperament.

The vision, the understanding of this standard, is thus sometimes lost. Many young fanciers have unfortunately hardly ever seen correct conformation in respect to these dogs. They become intoxicated with appearance which so often has so little in common with the working dog as he is supposed to be. In this case, the only thing that helps is trusted faith in the system, until one’s pondering leads to eventual understanding. The belief in what is well meant – the thoughtful suggestions and guiding principles – are for the welfare of the breed’s future.

As with so many breeds, sport and fad breeding led to more severe evidence of natural traits, and therefore to bad breeding situations that had nothing more in common with working ability. This may seem nice to the faddist, however, for the true lover of Nature, who doesn’t engage in matters based on eye appeal, it appears as a strange caricature.

Over-sized, massiveness, height, racing ability, straight front or tucked up racing dog body would be for the shepherd an adverse perception leading to the death of the breed. And actually, some of our dogs and especially those who receive applause among the novices resemble the racing dog type in his over-sized, narrowness, tucked up appearance and effemination. The Borzoi, who hunts the wolf on the Russian prairies does not look like this; he is still a correct, rugged fellow. He who looks around at dog shows, pages through dog magazines, will find often enough that there are still a few other breed’s destinies which are threatened, that is, they are about to step out of their breed type because they are not bred upon a breed goal, but rather upon an imaginary “beauty concept”.


An Ancient Den

Mountain slides in with Pearl watching. This was a dirt sette on top of a very steep wooded slope going down to a creek. The entrance to this pipe was choked with leaves, but Mountain wanted in and after a managed it.

Almost through the leaves!

Pearl found the exit to this den below where we had been standing. It turns out that the dirt we had been standing on, above, was simple wash down stopped by this massive layer of stone. Mountain was in under all this stone, and behind it too.

From the looks of it, this den may have been here since the time of Jesus. I really think stone-roofed dens like this are hundreds if not thousands of years old. Once dug, they cannot collapse, and they are perfect fortresses for wildlife.

Mountain exits. No one home this day (or if it was, it bolted while we were trying to get through on top). Another nice sette to remember to check when we are at the back of this farm.

Fox Scat

This is a piece of fox scat -- placed on my glove, for scale. Notice that the tip of the scat comes to a point, and that there are hairs sticking out of the end. This is typical. No other common scat in my area has a lot of hair in it (other than coyote scat).

This is another bit of fox scat found further long the same trail yesterday. In this specimen, most of the non-hair matter has degraded from exposure to the elements, which gives you a pretty good idea of how much fur fox scat has in it. While most fox scat has large amounts of mouse hair, this scat is mostly deer hair.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Good Old Lessons From Good Old Timers

Working Catahoula's busting a once-reluctant steer.

Kenney Benoit writes of a lesson learned from his Grandfather:

Thank you ever so much for running a wonderful site. I am glad that someone has clearly stated what has been known for so long.

As a kid growing up I was around my Grandfather who raised Catahoula Cur dogs to work cattle on his farm. The dogs were used at least twice per week to bring cows from the woods to pens, for round ups to castrate calves, to pen cattle heading to the sale, to pen cows for worming and vaccination, and to hunt hogs that were turned loosed by a miss guided hunter. This was a tradition, a way of life passed down from his father. When he was younger and in his father's day they had no free range laws and the dogs were used to work cattle and hogs that were loose in the woods, free range animals. He admits that it was a lot more work for everyone involved, back then, including the dogs.

I inherited coon hunting and hounds from my father. As a result to compete in the events the dogs had to be registered with the Breed Club that you were hunting them in. So naturally I thought that the registered dogs were always better. Heck registered dogs cost more they must be better, look what they are worth.

As I aged I figured that I would provide my grandfather with a present. What better than a registered dog from the breed that he love, a Registered Louisiana Catahoula Cur. Boy I was proud of myself and just knew that Grandpa would love the present. I am glad that he loved and cared for me regardless of the gift. It turned out to be a disaster and a great learning experience.

The dog turned out to be a complete buffoon. My grandfather knew it from the day that I gave him the dog and actually castrated the dog as soon as the testicles descended. I couldn't understand it. No other dog that he owned was castrated why in the world would he castrate the "well breed registered dog" that I bought him. The reason was he didn't want the pure breed stock to screw up his mixed up mutts. I now know that he only kept the dog because it was a present and he didn't want to hurt my feelings. I had seen him knock better dogs in the head because he wasn't feeding an animal that couldn't do the job he kept them to do. As it turns out the dogs was almost deaf and really very unintelligent.

That is when Paw Paw began to school me on dogs.

You don't own a dog that doesn't have a purpose.

You don't keep a dog that can't perform the job he was bred to do.

Paper is for wiping your rear, not to show how good a dog is, that is proven (can't be shown on paper) when you put him to work.

Never buy a dog from someone who just raises and sells dogs.

. . . and much more than I couldn’t have learned else where

Then he began to tell me how the registered dogs had all kinds of problems. Most people that owned them didn't even use them except for decoration and a conversation piece. He said he didn't want dogs from people that didn't know what a dog was for. Then he went on talking about how people liked dogs with certain colors, glass eyes, and all kinds of features. He knew he wanted a dog that could work. He would breed his dogs to others dogs that really worked and it wasn't always a Catahoula Cur. Heck it didn't even have to be a "pretty dog". Some were fuzzy, funny colored, and could be considered ugly by someone who didn't know a damn thing about dogs. They might not have looked it to the untrained eye, but the dogs were healthy, structurally sound, weren't too big, could work in the heat for hours on end, and they were beautiful to anyone who needed to get the cows into the pen. They were the real deal. He wasn't in the business of raising and selling dogs. He raised cattle and used dogs as a tool.

He new something 30 years ago as common knowledge and he passed the information on to anyone who had an interest and capability to understand what he was speaking about.

Since then my dealing with dogs became allot more fun. I began to enjoy the dogs again. I found pleasure and happiness in mutts. Some of my best remembered hunts came behind a dog whose father was only known as “The neighbor’s sneaky damn cattle dog” (according to Grandpa). I gave up the high dollar hunting dog meets, and politics that go with it. Even then my dad wouldn't let us show the dogs in the beauty contest. He knew that didn't matter and in the words of a many a coon hunter "The bullshit stops when the tailgate drops".

I have now found a love for the terriers. They don't eat as much as those big old hounds. I ain't ever had to chase one all night to get him off a deer. They are easily accepted by others and don't look vicious. They do well with the family and live with us rather than in the kennel out back. They tree coons and possums, hunt squirrels, they can run a rabbit, they do it all, and most deer hunter don't mind me chasing critters where they deer hunt. With the walkers and blueticks they were always scarred that they were going to run the deer out of the country.

It goes on and on. I too have seen the ruin of many a breed of dog by the registering bodies. Just like people a dog can't be judged by who his daddy was.

I have enjoyed finding like minded people as you.


What a great story!

And a very sincere thank you for sharing it, Kenney. Your Grandfather would be very happy to know that you are "passing it on."

Cheetahs Never Prosper ... Due to Inbreeding

Cheetah used as a feline rabbit lurcher in the U.K., 1937.

From ScienceSays.Net:

The Endangered Cheetah and Genetic Bottlenecks

The addition of the cheetah to the endangered species list last week was a sad blow to wildlife conservation groups that have fought hard to protect the species. However, in the past, the cheetah had been seen as a conservation success. What happened to drive the cheetah back to the brink?


The cheetahs didn’t need a push this time - the truth is, the species had never really recovered. Using outdated metrics, the cheetahs’ population had increased to the number that we believed was necessary for a chance at survival.

Unfortunately, the damage had already been done - the new cheetahs were descended from such a small population that there was little genetic diversity in this new population. To give you an idea how severely inbred the species has become, a skin graft from any cheetah can be put onto any other and will be accepted. Humans, on the other hand, have so much genetic diversity that there are probably members of your own family who would be too different for skin grafts to take.

When a population gets as small as the cheetah’s did in the past, there is no turning back. You can breed more animals, but the genes are lost forever. We can import genetically diverse members of another group, but since there are only ~15 cheetahs left in Asia, that’s not an option. Otherwise, it’s time to sit back and wait for mutation and evolution to take charge. This is a precarious position, though - the diversity of genes is what allows a species to adapt and to withstand external pressures, like famine, drought and disease - the lucky ones survive the hard times and the species gets stronger.

If genetic diversity gets as low as the cheetah’s, the whole species becomes vulnerable. Additionally, inbreeding will further damage the remaining animals and make survival ever harder for future generations, an effect known as inbreeding depression.

This indicates a weak and vulnerable population, as well as substantial inbreeding. Nothing terrible had to the cheetahs, this time - this was just a return to the effective population size. It was inevitable.


The Open Doors

I occassionally post short films. This is one of those. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Coffee and Provocation

Good Ideas Department
Jason Marrihew of the American Animal Hospital Association suggests putting contact information into your cell phone for your dog -- the dog's microchip number, the vet’s phone number, a 24-hour care phone number, and the ASPCA Poison Control. Of course, I only know about this great idea because of Gina. You can put family Social Security numbers into your phone too.

A Nice European Import
Is the European Goldfinch getting established in the U.S.? One can only hope so -- a remarkably lovely bird! Yes, yes, I know ... invasive species. A bit late now, though, as any Native American can tell you!

The Vatican Greenlights Pedophilia
The age of consent for sexual activity is age 12 in the Vatican -- the lowest in Europe.

I love the Paris Hilton Tinkerbelle Purse
And I bet you will too! Check it out!

Death by Caffeine
I drink a lot of coffee. The people at Starbucks know my name and come sit at my table on their breaks. I have written about coffee picked fresh from the anus of a civet, and I have written about how coffee created development in the modern world and how the World Bank damn near killed it, and what all of that has to do with birds. And, of course, there is an American Working Terrier coffee mug. All of this brings me to this cool new tool, which lets folks like me know when I have gone "over my limit" with caffeine. Check it out!

The Continuing Economic Crisis
Minnesota counties are thinking of getting rid of their pocket gopher bounties as a way of saving money. Only one question: what took them so long? Is there really that much slack left in this nation's economic rope?

Richard Brautigan & Tarpon Fishing in America
What more could you want? If you don't know Brautigan, you missed one of the funnier light-hearted Beat Poets of the late 60s and early 70s, a legendary time period after birth control and before AIDS, after marijuana but before crack. And there was fishing -- tarpon fishing! Apparently it's all on film, and it can be purchased. Almost no other film of Brautigan exists. A hat tip to Steve Bodio over at Querencia for this one!

Stealing from Hunters and Anglers
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to rip off California's Fish and Game Preservation Fund, which is underwritten by fees paid by hunters and anglers. Has there been a peep of outrage from the right wing blogosphere on this? Not that I can see. Apparerently they are too busy diving at shadows to see real problems!

Hunting in Washington, D.C.
Hunting is a right written right into the Virginia state constitution, while over in suburban Maryland, The Washington Post reports that bow hunters are being right invited into people's back yards in close-in Montgomery County where deer are as acclimated to leaf blowers as you and I are.

An All Rounder
Janeen's English Shepherd is developing an appetite for squirrel! And no, they're not easy to catch.

New Hawking Blog
Doug Potter's new hawking blog is coming along very nicely. A good read. Check it out!

Kevin Kelly on the Place Beyond Ownership
Kevin Kelley writes: "Very likely, in the near future, I won't 'own' any music, or books, or movies. Instead I will have immediate access to all music, all books, all movies using an always-on service, via a subscription fee or tax. I won't buy – as in make a decision to own -- any individual music or books because I can simply request to see or hear them on demand from the stream of ALL. I may pay for them in bulk but I won't own them. The request to enjoy a work is thus separated from the more complicated choice of whether I want to 'own' it. I can consume a movie, music or book without having to decide or follow up on ownership." Read the whole thing.
Plutonium Found at the Dump
An old glass jar inside a beaten up old safe at the bottom of a waste pit was found to hold some of the first plutonium ever made. Glad it was secure!

Turning Taxidemy into a CPU
Just when you think you have seen it all, someone turns a taxidermied beaver into a full Windows-operating computer and posts instructions for you can do it too!

A Condom Ad That is Not Safe for Work
But it features dogs (of a fashion) and it is funny in a perverted sort of way. Check it out if you dare. You have been warned!

Where the Hell is the State of Kanawha?
I had no idea this was the history of West Virginia. West Virginia was once part of Virginia, of course, but I never knew the circumstances of the split. I must have been passed out at the back of the classroom the day they explained this. Or maybe in Virginia schools we hide our shame by simply not teaching it. In any case, it's fascinating and it comes with a cool map.

European Anatomy Museum Photos
A nice Flickr set of human and animal freaks, oddities and curiosities of medicine-- check it out! Not for the squeamish.

Free Stock Photos
You say you want free stock photos for your project? Here are 25 free stock sites. More are suggested in the comments section too.

No More Moa, But We Have an Excellent Turd
A treasure trove of information has been found in Moa feces buried beneath the floors of caves and rock shelters for thousands of years. The feces -- up to 15 cm in length -- suggest Moa ate small soft plants, not the bushes and trees once thought.

Stories In Once Sentence
Some of my friends and I used to do these in college. A small drinking sport. I could kick myself now for not thinking up this web site myself: One Sentence: True Stories Told in One Sentence. Perfect! Check it out!

A Killer iPhone Application
The iPhone now comes with a new application called "Lethal" which, if you install it, will tell you everything in your area which poses a lethal threat. They even have a wildlife overlay which ranks Mobile, Alabama as the most wildlife-lethal place in the U.S. with 19 killer species. The sign, at left, is from Alabama. Not a lot of terrier work in Alabama.


Wow Photography

Pan and Zoom with this amazingly detailed wide-shot picture from the inaugaration.

And no, this does not capture 1/100th of it.

Can you find your member of Congress? Your Senator? A perpetually sleeping Supreme Court justice?

How many bassoon players were there? Check out the length of those telephoto lenses! Who the hell let all those people climb on the horse statue? And is it any surprise that George W. Bush looks like a scowling chimp? Can you find Aretha?