Monday, January 30, 2012

Martin Scorsese on Doberman Discrimination


Martin Scorsese knows movies and he knows a bit about dogs too. In a letter to The Los Angeles Times, he writes that:

One recent morning, I turned on the television, and imagine my surprise when I heard the nominations for the first Golden Collar Awards for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film. After all, we had Blackie the Doberman in our movie. How could she not be nominated?

I listened in vain for Blackie's name to be called, and then to all the hullabaloo over a certain Jack Russell terrier named Uggie. Actually, Uggie is so adorable that he received two nominations for two separate pictures. Well done.

OK, let's lay all our cards on the table. Jack Russell terriers are small and cute. Dobermans are enormous and — handsome. More tellingly, Uggie plays a nice little mascot who does tricks and saves his master's life in one of the films, while Blackie gives an uncompromising performance as a ferocious guard dog who terrorizes children. I'm sure you can see what I'm driving at....

I detect... deep-seated prejudice at work. Jack Russell terriers were bred in the 19th century for the purposes of fox hunting by an Englishman, the Rev. John Russell. Dobermans were bred by a German tax collector who was afraid of being bludgeoned to death by the citizenry. But does that mean we must condemn the entire breed? Must we forget the magnificent physical achievements of such legendary Dobermans as Bingo von Ellendonk (who achieved a perfect score in the storied Schutzhund competition), Borong the Warlock, Baracuda Liborium or Caravelle Drillbit?

No Mr. Scorsese, we have not forgotten, and that's the problem.

You see, it was Doberman's that ate Gregory Peck in The Boys from Brazil.

There was an entire movie with trained Dobermans's as bank robbers (The Doberman Gang), and Magnum PI was always being intimidated by Higgen's dogs, Zeus and Apollo.

And then there's They Only Kill Their Masters. The plot is right there in the title.

As for the magnificent physical achievements of Bingo von Ellendonk, that was for Schutzhund, in which a dog is instructed to attack a human, albeit a human clothed in a lot of padding to soften the rather formidable bite.

So have we forgotten the Doberman?  No we have not! 

But is the world going to salute a tax-collector's dog designed to intimidate and rip into human flesh, rather than a Jack Russell terrier who redeems human life and makes us all laugh?

No, probably not.

The world still loves happy endings.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Dog Shows in the Age of Dog Show Ridicule


I sometimes read something on a handheld device, send it to email, and forget it's there. Trolling through some old files while looking for something else, I came across this old gem from 2009: Bitch Please;  Dog shows in the age of dog show ridicule.

If you're looking to mock, a dog show is an easy target. You could note how many of these people pursuing perfection in dogs are themselves fairly overweight, and eat too many funnel cakes, and dress in a way that would kill any chance of a social life were they actually in high school. Spending time at the dog show, however, the group came less to resemble some kind of wacky subculture, and more just the culture. A common trait of Americans — blue and red, gay and straight, X and Y, whatever — is that they largely want to be good at something, to be recognized for doing at least one thing well, and maybe that's at the expense of everything else. Poetry writing, bass fishing, cooking, competitive eating, you name it. So you spend months or even years in triathlon training. You juggle Family Feud and reality TV and dog show gigs. You learn about breeds and how to groom and how to rub your dog in just the right family unfriendly way to make its tail stand straight up for judging.

I think this piece has it exactly right: these are just people with limited talents trying to get good at something. And yes, in order to get good at this something, they are willing to give up quite a lot -- money, time, time with family... and even the health of dogs.

This is the dark little secret of dog shows: they are not about dogs. A dog will not cross a room for a rosette, much less drive 300 miles across two states and spend two nights in a bad hotel for the privilege.
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Coffee and Provocation


Public Lockable Dog Crates?
What do you do when you have your dog with you, and you want to go into a store?  In Norway, at leas one place has a "Hundehiet" box where you can stick your dog inside until you’re done.   I am not sure I like the idea, for reasons that seem obvious:  abandonment, heat, cold, sanitation.

Here's a List of 20 Ancient Living Things:
The youngest is 2,000 years old, the oldest about 500,000 years old.  And yes, they are all living.

Something Is Brain Damaged
Christie Carr, a 39-year-old woman from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, nursed a partially paralyzed and brain damaged Red Kangaroo back to heath after it suffered a fractured neck, and now the animal shares her bed at night. ‘He’s always stealing my pillow,’ she said.

Three Million Lakes
Canada has at least 3 million lakes.  Other odd geography facts here.

Guns for Less?
A shipment of 86,00 M1 Garands and 770,00 M1 Carbines held by the South Korean military since the Korean war in the 1950s, will soon be coming to the U.S. after an objection by the State Department was overturned.


What Percent Are You?
Want to know where your household income ranks?  Punch in total household income and see.

A Dog Tag for Your Keys?
I have a dog tag on my keys with my cell phone number on it.  This seems like a nice version and you get two numbers, so one tag can actually go on the dog!
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fearless Beauty is on Duty


"Beauty" was a wire haired terrier who belonged to a People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) officer and who led the Animal Rescue Squads during the bombing of London in World War Two.

Beauty received the Pioneer Medal from the PDSA for all the lives she saved; a medal usually reserved for humans. She also received a silver mounted collar with the inscription, 'For Services Rendered'. She was awarded the Dickin Medal in January 1945.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Six People and a Dog Commute on 50CC



And you drive your SUV to work all alone!
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Too Close for Comfort


This is an ad for some sort of breath-freshener for dogs, but it says quite a lot that so many Pugs actually look like this now. Cut off a dog's face, and a dog's head is not that different from a dog's back end.
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Only in America

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Nonsense of "Pull Dogs"



In The Working Jack Russell Terrier Eddie Chapman writes:

"Something that makes my blood boil is when I hear terrier men talk about dogs they call Caesar dogs. They will show you a Russell type that has been bred too big and say, 'I use him as a Caesar dog'. If I ask what a Caesar dog is, they say it is a dog which will hold the badger, he won't let go,' they say. I have never heard such rubbish in my life. Besides being unnecessary, it is invariably cruel to the dog and more often than not he will be badly bitten for his pains. Besides that, it is unnecessarily cruel to the badger and the sort of behavior that got badger digging banned. I have tried to explain how to remove badgers from a sett without injury to dog or badger. There is nothing clever about getting a hard dog smashed up by a badger. On the contrary, it shows ignorance and a lack of responsibility and feeling. Bravery in a terrier should never be exploited."

I found it quite refreshing to read this passage, as I have often noted that there is little reason to own a "pull dog" if you actually know how to handle things at the end of a dig. The use of "pull dogs" damages dogs and quarry alike and is wasteful as it often necessitates time out of the field and expensive veterinary work.

In the U.S., the use of pull dogs (what Chapman and some others call "Caesar" dogs) is to due to the prevalence of too many over-large terriers that cannot go to ground in a real earth. To say you have a "good pull dog," is to say you do not have a dog capable of actually going to ground.

If you have followed the Kennel Club dictates, and embraced a 14 inch tall dog with a 17" or 18" chest (or larger!), you are forced to rationalize a job for it. No matter that it is a stupid job forged in pain. Most people would rather see their dog injured than swallow their pride and admit they have drunk the Koolaid offered up by the Kennel Club know-nothings who think a fox den is as big around as a go-to-ground tunnel.

Another factor is that many people simply have no idea of how to handle quarry and so use the dog to to do the job. Having gotten to the end of a dig, they do not know how to get the animal out of the pipe, nor do they know how to dispatch it. In such a situation, the use of a "pull dog" is ignorance in motion.

The simplest way for a novice to handle quarry is with a snare. You can make your own for about $5, or else buy a pig snare from a feedstore.

Groundhogs can also be tailed out alive -- it is not hard if the groundhog's tail is presented, as it so often is. If very much of the pipe is remaining, however, you may find yourself in a tug-of-war with the groundhog who can jamb up inside a pipe so tightly that even a large man can have difficulty pulling one free.

Always use a snare for raccoons -- they can twist all the way around on their short fat bodies. They can grab you with their hands and have crushing bites. Rabies is not uncommon in raccoons, especially on the East Coast.

If you have entangled a fox in a net, be carefully when extricating the fox. The best advice is to pin the animal to the ground under your boot while removing the net. Work the net off the fox in sections, and then release it to hunt another day.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Learning About Dogs by Watching Dogs

In the January issue of Earth dog-Running Dog magazine, Colin Didriksen has a nice article about picking a pup. Didriksen is raising Teckels these days -- working dachsunds -- and the piece starts out:

There was roughly one hundred years of doggy experience between the three men standing in the garden watching a litter of Teckels do what seven week old Teckel pups do.

Their mother was with them and now and again one of the pups would push her too far and receive first a growl and if that didn't convince it to stop then the nip that followed did. It's a pity that some human parents don't take note of the way other animals correct the wrongdoings of their young and act similarly; it would mean fewer badly behaved children and incidents of unsocial behavior would be diminished. Areas where some young people delight in causing aggravation to old people would disappear. A degree of respect is often brought about by a tiny tinge of fear.

Watch any non-human mother and its young. Cats, dogs, foxes, ferrets and the like, usually after a verbal warning in the guise of a growl or a hiss, will all discipline their young physically either with a nip, by swatting them with a paw, or both.

You will have to buy a copy to read the rest, and I encourage a subscription, as it's a good magazine with fine pieces from Didriksen, Richard Christian (the title of his piece this month is Civilization and Syphilisation and very amusing), David Harcombe and others.

I always find it amazing that the pet and show ring people are always quick to wax nostaligic and romantic about the history of dogs, but seem entirely blind to the fact that canine history is being written every day by men and women who actually work their dogs above and below ground.

And guess what?  Take my word on this: true working dog men and women have something to say and to teach.

The fox in his burrow and the sheep on the hill do not judge up the leash, do not care about some scrap of pedigree paper, nor are they concerned about coat color, nose color, or "expression."

But, of course, people are people, and how is it that we choose a pup from a litter at eight weeks of age?

Ah well, you will have to buy the magazine and read the piece.  But yes, it's very amusing.
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The Impact of Ebola in the Forest


In three essays in Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature, David Quammen profiles the work of Mike Fay who did a 2,000 mile walking "megatransect," with pygymy porters, through the wildest and most inhospitable parts of the Central African Republic and Congo, ending up on the coast of Gabon after 18 months of walking through poacher-infested forests and leech-infested swamps.

Quammen writes of what they found -- and did not find -- in the Minkébé National Park in Gabon:

They found spectacular zones of forest and swamp, stunning inselbergs, networks of streams, all rich with species and virtually untouched by human presence. They also found — as Mike Fay has been finding — a nearly total absence of gorillas and chimpanzees. It wasn’t always so. In 1984 a paper appeared in the American Journal of Primatology, by Caroline Tutin and Michel Fernandez, in which the authors described their census of gorilla and chimpanzee populations throughout Gabon. Using a combination of field transects, habitat analysis, and cautious extrapolation, Tutin and Fernandez estimated that at least 4,171 gorillas lived within the Minkébé sector, representing a modest but significant population density. Something seems to have happened to those apes between 1984 and now. It may have happened abruptly in the mid-1990s, when three Ebola epidemics burned through villages and gold camps at the Minkébé periphery, killing dozens of humans. One of those outbreaks occurred in early 1996 at a village called Mayibout 2, on the upper Ivindo River. It began with a chimpanzee carcass, found dead in the forest and brought to the village as food. Eighteen people who helped with the skinning, the butchering, and the handling of the chimp flesh became sick. Suffering variously from fever, headache, and bloody diarrhea, they were evacuated downriver to the Makokou hospital. Four of them died quickly. A fifth escaped from the hospital, went back to Mayibout 2, and died there. That victim was buried in the traditional way—ceremonies were performed, and no special precautions were taken against infection.

By early March, thirty-one people had fallen ill, of whom twenty-one died, for a mortality rate of almost 68 percent. Then it was over, as abruptly as it started. Around the same time, according to later accounts, dead gorillas were seen in the forest.

... [Fay] spends hours in his tent, collating the latest harvest of data on his laptop. Within the past fourteen days, he informs me, we have stepped across 997 piles of elephant dung and not a single dung pile from a gorilla. We have heard zero gorilla chest-beat displays. We have seen zero sprigs of Marantaceae chewed by gorilla teeth and discarded. These are numbers representing as good a measure as now exists of the mystery of Minkébé.

See National Geographic's interactive web site for more information.
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mary Chapin Carpenter :: Come On Come On


video url

Down the River Road is not a metaphor. River Road is a real road.  Mary Chapin Carpenter used to live in the D.C. area near me.  I drive down the River Road quite a lot when I go hunting.

Back about 13 or 14 years before this song was recorded at Wolftrap, Mary Chapin Carpenter would perform for beer money at Food For Thought on Connecticut Avenue, and I was a $5 and $10 tipper when she passed the hat. I remember her well as I thought I was being extraordinarily generous with my money considering that $10 back then could buy two pitchers of Tuborg beer, and I was making less money than the receptionist in my office. 
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Lessons On Mountain's Muzzle

Mountain is curled up in her bed next to me. There are a couple of scars running down her nose from a few fox encounters in her youth, and if you look carefully, you can see the very tip of her nose is cut off from a groundhog bite. A front canine is broken -- a little something to remember from a sette with double raccoons. 

Mountain works a little differently now -- she will stand back and bay a little more.  Now she knows butt from breath.  Old dogs know more than young ones do.

And yet this dog wakes up every morning to check what pants and shoes I am wearing. She lives for Carrharts and boots.

My point here is that this dog has not "bellied over" from a few natural aversives, and neither have any other dogs that I have owned.  She has not been too cowed by bites, barb wire and brambles.

For that matter, neither are the cows who seem to be very happy living behind their electric fence.  They are not too traumatized by having been nipped by the wire a few times in their life.

All of this is a wind-up to a truly excellent piece from Ruth Crisler about real world aversives and the fomented fear and contrived crisis fanned by certain dog trainers who seek to browbeat the world into thinking there is only one way to train a dog.  Read the whole thing.

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Remember When We Played Outside?



The irony here is at the end...
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Home Defense?


Don't tell me you have a gun for home defense, when you're not doing a thing to help save the home planet. 
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We Are All Marianne Gingrich


We are all Marianne Gingrich (from Newsweek):

".... the Republican right continues to promote the virtues of traditional marriage, espousing conventional gender stereotypes that conform to Christian dogma by relegating wives to subordinate status while giving familial authority to their husbands. Other evergreen conservative refrains include the criticism of feminists and working mothers for supp...osedly abandoning their domestic duties in favor of paid work outside the home.

"But what happens to the woman who adheres to this retro feminine mystique? If she becomes a homemaker and depends on her husband for support, what if the family breadwinner turns out to be a guy like Newt Gingrich? The wife who sacrificed her ability to earn a living finds herself in deep trouble when hubby rewards her trust by running off with a newer, younger, blonder babe.

"... If Republican men want women to follow such a dangerous course, they should have to answer for how they lived up to their end of that deal in their own personal lives.

"And if they want us to elect them to high office, they should also be required to explain how voters can reconcile their private conduct with the consequences of their public policies.

"Because if we elevate them to the White House, the rest of us are also going to have to live with the gap between what they say and what they actually do. And in that scenario, we all become Marianne Gingrich.

Nature's Viet Cong


In Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature, author David Quammen writes about one of the world's most despised insects:

"...the mosquito is taking a bad rap. It has been victimized, I submit to you, by a strong case of anthropocentric bias. In fact, the little sucker can be viewed, with only a small bit of squinting, as one of the great ecological heroes of planet Earth. If you consider rainforest preservation. The chief point of blame, with mosquitoes, happens also to be the chief point of merit: They make tropical rainforests, for humans, virtually uninhabitable

So as Europe was being stripped of its virgin woods, and India and China, and the North American heartland, the tropical rainforests largely escaped, lasting into the late twentieth century—with some chance, at least, that they may endure a bit longer. Thanks to what? To a concatenation of accidental and deterministic factors, no doubt, among which should be included this: 10 million generations of jungle-loving, disease-bearing, bloodsucking mosquitoes—the Culicidae, nature’s Vietcong.
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A Coffee Cup Quote Starbucks Missed

The chief mate of the Pequod was Starbuck, a native of Nantucket, and a Quaker by descent....

"I will have no man in my boat," said Starbuck, "who is not afraid of a whale."
. - Moby Dick, by Herman Melville

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Coolest Man in the World Has Throat Cancer



Over at the Querencia blog, Steve Bodio mourns that his mongolian friend, Aralbai, who was deemed to be "the coolest man in the world" by Field and Stream magazine, has throat cancer at the very young age of 54, and he is refusing chemo and radiation. Read the rest here.
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Coffee and Provocation


Greenland's Sirius Special Forces
Greenland is under the control of Denmark, which is is responsible for both its police patrol and its national defense. In order to protect the native sled dog population of Greenland, however, no snowmobiles are allowed in the north of Greenland, nor are imported sled dogs allowed -- a way of making sure that gasoline and degenerated dogs from the Kennel Club do not wreck the native canine gene pool which has been 5,000 years in the making.  The result is "Sirius," a special forces team that moves by native sled dog.  Photographer Fritz Hoffman has put together a photo exhibit of the dogs patrolling one of the largest and most rugged frozen wildernesses in the world.

Remember Stamps?  Remember Working Dogs?
The U.S. Postal Service is issuing four 65-cent postage stamps featuring “Dogs at Work".  The dogs shown are a tracking dog, a guide dog for the blind, a search and rescue dog, and a "therapy" dog (Seriously?  A therapy dog?).  For those of you who have not mailed a letter in 15 years, a 65-cent stamp is the postage for sending a first-class piece weighing between one and two ounces. 

Hollywood Terriers
Terriers are taking the limelight this year, with a cartoon Snowy (Milou) starring in the new TinTin movie, and Uggie the Jack Russell terrier, the star of "The Artist," apparenrly the most exciting prospect for an Oscar after his knock-out performance on stage at the Golden Globe awards.  Finally, Christopher Plummer gave a shout-out to the Jack Russell terrier Cosmo, his co-star in the film Beginners.

The Horror of Dogs on Chains
I hate to see a dog on a chain, though I have to say these two characters seem to be having a lot of fun.

Pet Connection Comes Back From the Dead
The old Pet Connection blog will be coming back at a new location and with just dogs at HonestDog.com.  Things should fire up around February 1st.

Pimp the Ride
For a small tour of American awesomeness in the motor home department check out this ride.

The Pretentiousness Scale
Calvin Trillin describes a new social index in this delightful little read.

Paula Deen Moves from Fat Pusher to Drug Pusher Who is Fat
Paula Deen, an overweight TV cook, is famous for pushing fat- and sugar-soaked food on her TV show.  Now it turns out she had had diabetes for three years and has only now decided to announce it after securing sponsorship from diabetes company Novo Nordisk.  And yes, she is still going to be pushing lard and sugar on her TV show -- now all you have to do is take drugs for the disease she is  encouraging you to get!  This is like someone promoting cigarettes who then gets paid by the chemo companies while forgetting to mention that your Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance dollars are supporting it all.

Two Awesome YouTube Video Remixes and Mashups
The first is Elvis and Duffy.  I always hated this Elvis tune, but with the addition of Duffy it becomes pretty good.  And how about this catchy little mashup of The Fresh Prince of Bel-air?

So Why Are the British So Pasty White?
I am told that no point in Great Britain is more than 75 miles from the sea.

Good Luck With That
The Federated Farmers of New Zealand are calling for sheep shearing to become an Olympic sport.  And I am sure that will happen -- right after I win the bronze for digging on the terriers. 
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This is Good and Worth Reading


No, I did not write it. That's why it's good and worth reading.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This is Not a SOPA Protest


I do not know enough about SOPA or PIPA to support or oppose, but I note that everyone from Wikipedia to Google are flying blacked out sites or logos to protest the proposed laws.

Rather than jump on a bandwagon that I know nothing about, I am simply posting a nice black square.

This is what inside of a den looks like to a working terrier.

There is no light at all -- there is only pure darkness, and the beat of the dog's own heart, and the faint beat of another up the tube.

There is only the scent of fur and urine, water and mold.

There is only the sound of my shovel above, and perhaps the growls, clicking teeth, and rumble of rock and dirt ahead.

This is the world of the working terrier.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Four Minutes of Lies and Confusion


This morning, the Kennel Club came out with a 27-minute video entitled "Dogs -- A Healthy Future".

I do not have time this morning to go through all 27-minutes of the video, but it turns out I do not have to in order to make the essential point, which is that this is an in-house industrial self-promotion video which does NOT tell the true history of the Kennel Club, nor does it actually tell you what is wrong in the world of pedigree dogs, or the way forward in the world of dogs.

You can see the video yourself, here, but let me detail the first four minutes:  what is said, what is not said, what is an outright lie, and what small steps forward are actually being taken.

  1. Killing off working dogs.  The video starts off (at 0.38) with the narrator gushing about Poodles, Old English Sheep Dogs, and Border Terriers.  What is not said is these three breeds were once working dogs, but they do not work anymore. In fact, these are three perfect examples of what happens when you draw a dog into the Kennel Club and the dogs are either denatured or exaggerated to the point that they are useless in the field. Work a dog? The Kennel Club affords ZERO points for work, same as it affords ZERO points for health.  The result is what you see in the Kennel Club:  guns dogs that have never heard a shotgun, sheep dogs that have never seen a sheep, and terriers too big to go to ground on a fox.
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  2. A nation of dog lovers?  The narrator says (at 0.42) that to visit a dog show is to see that Britain is a nation of dog lovers. You will notice, however, that the announcer does not advise visiting a Kennel Club-approved puppy farm to see the horrifying scenes there, nor do they advise visiting a local kill shelter, such as Battersea, where about a third of all healthy dogs are put down because no one wants them. A nation of dog lovers? Yes, there are a lot of dogs in Britain, but there is a lot of institutionalized cruelty as well, and the Kennel Club and its paid apologists have been part of that cruelty for 140 years, banging the gong for predictably diseased dogs bred in a closed registry system, saluting deformity and exaggeration at every turn, and always pushing back at those who say the nation can do better.
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  3. One big, happy (entirely white) family.  Steve Dean, the new head of the Kennel Club, shows up to suggest (at 0.51) how friendly and fun everything is at a Kennel Club dog show.  This is the same Steve Dean who, when asked just ten days ago whether the Kennel Club would welcome as members everyone in the world of pedigree dogs, answered: ”It is not open to everybody as this carries risks: if you do not filter the applicants then any group of people can join and thus effectively change the entire organisation.” Right. Watch the film and see if there is anyone in it who would not look perfect in an Aryan Nations film.  Britain is a very diverse place, but the Kennel Club is not very diverse, and they do not see any problem with that, as their own self-promotion film makes clear.  A non-white face in a 27-minute Kennel Club film?  What an odd idea!  And yet the tin-ears at the Kennel Club seem shocked that anyone would note that while the world went from Bassets to Auschwitz in 50 years, the Kennel Club never left that stage, saluting closed gene pools at the front end while winking at sterilization and gas chambers at the back end, all the while keeping a firm eye on coat color and social class -- of people and dogs alike.
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  4. Looking after canine welfare?  The narrator claims (at 1.00) that the Kennel Club has been looking after the welfare of pedigree dogs for almost 150 years. This is a naked lie. In fact the single greatest threat to the welfare of pedigree dogs has been the Kennel Club itself. The reason for this is that the Kennel Club has:
    ... a) Generally closed breed registries with less than 50 dogs;
    ... b) Required all dogs be bred within closed gene pools;
    ... c) Routinely saluted morphological exaggeration, and;
    . . d) Afforded zero points to health in the show ring.

    The result, today, is that breed after breed on the Kennel Club's roster is a genetic and structural wreck.  Canine insurance companies now charge higher premiums for Kennel Club dogs which are deemed to be less healthy than cross-breeds or mutts.  Can there be any more powerful indictment of what 150 years of Kennel Club stewardship has meant for pedigree dogs?
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  5. The ethos of the Kennel Club is health? Steve Dean, the new head of the Kennel Club, is seen sprawling on the grass (at 1:10) while dressed in black pants, blazer jacket, tie, and penny loafers (mind the dog poop Mr. Dean!).  He tells us that "the whole ethos of the Kennel Club is the health and welfare of dogs, and that includes "all dogs, pedigree dogs, cross-bred dogs, mongrels."  This is, of course, complete nonsense.  To refresh, the Kennel Club is an organization that is focused on registering purebred dogs, it is an organization that is pushing people to buy only purebred dogs from registered breeders, and it affords ZERO points to the health of any dog in the show ring. This is an organization that registers thousands of puppy farm dogs a year, and which does nothing to promote adoption from shelters. In short, Steve Dean's statements here are as tortured and contrived as his squat in the grass.
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  6. The Kennel Club runs Crufts, the most famous dog show in the world. Following the showing of Pedigree Dogs Exposed in 2008, the Kennel Club lost all of its major corporate sponsors for Crufts. Scrambling for any major sponsor, the Kennel Club accepted sponsorship from a discount furniture chain which required it to change Cruft's logo to include a sofa.  No, I am not making this up! Now, Crufts has lost that discount furniture store sponsor, and other major sponsors have yet to come forward. And why would they, when Crufts and the Kennel Club are more likely to be associated with canine misery and defect than quality?!
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  7. The Kennel Club registers all dogs.  The narrator claims (at 1.32) that the Kennel Club registers "all dogs" but in fact that is a dramatic overstatement. The Kennel Club is focused on registering purebred dogs, and only those dogs whose owners want them registered, and will pay a fee. In fact, most dogs in the UK are not registered with the Kennel Club.
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  8. The Kennel Club regulates 708 breed clubs. The narrator goes on to note (at 1.32) that the Kennel Club "regulates the 708 breed clubs." Are we to take it that this means the Kennel Club is in charge and can make the breed clubs do what it wants when that needs to be done?  Does this mean that if there is a problem with pedigree dog health, it's not the fault of the breed clubs, but the Kennel Club's hierarchy itself?  Is the Kennel Club finally going to stop hiding behind the skirts of breed club matrons and (supposed) legal impotence?  Time will tell!
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  9. The Kennel Club helps to stamp out puppy farmers?  The narrator claims (at 1.45) that the Kennel Club works to stamp out puppy farms, but this is a lie. The Kennel Club has actively recruited puppy farmers and registered their product since the beginning, and it continues to do so to this day. The objection of the Kennel Club is not to puppy farms -- but to anyone that might be breeding a cross-bred (and therefore unregistered) "Cocker-Poo" or "Dorgi, as well as to anyone who might be breeding pedigree dogs that are not registered by the Kennel Club.
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  10. The Kennel Club registers a quarter of a million puppies a year.  Steve Dean tells us (at 2.22) that the Kennel Club registers a quarter of a million puppies a year. Amazingly, however, the Kennel Club puts its brand on these dogs even as the organization manages to slip out from under all consumer regulation. How does that work? The Kennel Club licenses breeders, its creates and sanctifies breed standards, and it says it regulates all the breed clubs and is dedicated to canine health, and yet the Kennel Club accepts NO responsibility for defective, diseased and deformed dogs, and it offers NO guarantee about the health of any dog or puppy carrying its brand. Amazing! How is that possible? If a car company put its logo on a car, could it claim it had nothing do with the defective brakes that came from its supplier? How then, does the Kennel Club not fall within similar regulatory oversight since, according to its own statements, it controls all facets of pedigree dog breeding under its own registry?
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  11. The Kennel Club is trying to 'control the loss of genetic diversity in dogs?'  We are told (at 2.40) that the Kennel Club is trying to "control the loss of genetic diversity in dogs." Really? What does that mean? Not what you think! In the Kennel Club, "controlling the loss of genetic diversity" means that you keep breeds separate and in a closed breeding pool. In fact, the entire rationale for the Kennel Club is not to promote genetic diversity, but to trap dog breeds in genetic bottles cut off from the rest of the canine gene pool. When the Kennel Club talks about "controlling the loss of genetic diversity" what they really mean is putting more dogs in more breed bottles!
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  12. The Kennel Club is working to eliminate inherited diseases?  When the Kennel Club says it is "working to eliminate inherited disease," is does not mean that the Kennel Club is opening up its roles in order to increase genetic diversity and reduce the level of inbreeding.  It does not mean that the club is banning brachycephalic breeds with faces so pushed in they cannot breathe. It does not mean they are banning super tiny dogs whose brains cannot fit in their skulls, and it does not mean they are banning giant breeds that die of heart failure only a few years after they stop growing. What the Kennel Club means when it says it is "working to eliminate inherited diseases" is that it is looking for new health care tests so that already-too-small breed pools can be pared down even more. And even here, the solutions talked about are often complete nonsense. How do you get rid of mitral heart valve disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels when 85% of the dogs will die with that affliction? It cannot be done!  How do you get rid of brachycephalic breathing disorders and whelping problems in the English Bulldog when the breed standard requires smashed faces and huge heads?
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  13. The Kennel Club is working to tighten regulations at dog shows?  We are told the Kennel Club is "working" to tighten regulations at dog shows. Really? Again, what does that mean?  All Kennel Club shows operate under the dictatorship of the Kennel Club. It is the Kennel Club that creates and legitimizes breed standards, which trains and writes the rules for dog show judges, and which sanctions and promotes the dog shows themselves. Every regulatory aspect of a dog show is under the Kennel Club's control, so there is no "working" to regulate a dog show; either the Kennel Club does it, or it allows the dysfunction, disease, deformity and defect that is on parade. In fact, the Kennel Club has winked at defect, deformity and disease at dog shows for more than 140 years.
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  14. We must unite to fight "inherited diseases." Having just told us that the Kennel Club has complete control over pedigree dogs, and that it has always put canine health front and center, the announcer tells us (at 2.45) that the world of pedigree dogs must unite to fight inherited diseases. What?! There are widespread health problems in the world of pedigree dogs?  How did that happen if the Kennel Club has complete power and has been putting breed health first for nearly 150 years? Suddenly, the entire narrative comes crashing down, and it comes crashing down for a very good reason:  almost everything we have heard up to now has been a lie.
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  15. "They're a working breed... or they came from a working breed." In the Kennel Club's self-promotion video, we are shown some dachshunds, and an owner tells us (at 3:20) that "They're a working breed... or they came from a working breed."  Right.  Came from a working breed.  The Kennel Club dachshund is not a working breed now. A working dachshund is called a "teckel" to differentiate it from the non-working joke paraded around on a string lead at a Kennel Club dog show. We are told "we do have a back problem" with dachshunds, but we are not told what that problem is.  Here's a hint:  it involves paralysis of the back legs, and the dog is either put down or put into a wheeled rack where it spends the rest of its life scooting around the living room. This small "problem" is fobbed off as being in "some lines" and is said to be a "conformation" problem. Not said is that the odd structure of the dachshund is in no way related to the work it does underground. Working terriers are found all over Britain, Europe, Canada, and the United States, and none have the stretched back or the history of spinal injury and rear leg paralysis we see with the dachshund.
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  16. The Kennel Club has always taken the lead in inherited diseases. We are told (at 3.45) that "the Kennel Club has always taken the lead in addressing the problem of inherited diseases."  Heads up! A small word game is being played here. You see, the Kennel Club has always taken the lead in CREATING the closed gene pools that make inherited diseases so common in the world of dogs. And, to be clear, the Kennel Club continues to salute those closed registry gene pools. By saluting closed gene pools, and encouraging further reductions within them, the Kennel Club keeps the wheels of inherited disease spinning forward at an ever-increasing rate. The history is clear here, and the Kennel Club's own publication tells it. Back in 1897, when the issue of inherited disease sprang up in the world of the Scottish Deerhound, the response of the Kennel Club was not to rush in to outcross to improve breed health, but to rush in to close the registry to preserve breed purity. So YES, the Kennel Club has "always taken the lead in inherited diseases," but not in eliminating them, but in fostering them!
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  17. The Kennel Club's weak stance on hips.  The announcer tells us (at 3.44) of the Kennel Club's scheme to get rid of hip dysplasia, which they tell us has been in place since 1965.  Not said, is that the scheme has not worked, and it has not worked because the Kennel Club does not require breeders who want to register Kennel Club puppies to follow it!  Dysplasia in Kennel Club dogs has not gotten better.
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  18. Sequencing of the canine genome. The announcer prattles on  about the sequencing of the canine genome in 2004 (at 4.16), but fails to mention the obvious, which is that we do not need to sequence genomes to know how to breed healthier dogs. We know how to breed healthier dogs NOW, and it is not a closely held secret: 
    a) Get rid of breeds that are selected for defect and extreme exaggeration, and;
    b) Allow breeds to "fall upward" to type so that dogs are bred for real function rather than for a scrap of paper proclaiming breed purity. 

Will we get rid of all canine health problem by simply doing those two things alone? 

No, of course, not.  It would, however, be a simple, quick and immediate step forward.  

Remember:  right now Kennel Club dogs are NOT as healthy as cross breeds and mutts.  

That fact alone stands as an indictment of the Kennel Club's way of doing business.

Is this to say there is nothing good going on? 

No, that would not be true. 

The Kennel Club has suddenly discovered Coefficients of Inbreeding (COI), something that has been around since 1922, and it is providing a computer program to make it easier for breeders to calculate those equations.

The Kennel Club has banned very close incest breeding (sire to daughter, dam to son) which is the kind of thing that has been banned in humans since the days of the Old Testament.

The Kennel Club has named 14 breeds of particular concern -- a real step in the right direction, and one for which they should get some applause, despite the still-timid way that they are going about operationalizing it.

So YES, there are some good things happening, and YES, let's recognize that the Kennel Club is under some duress to "build forward" out of the wreckage of its past, even as it keeps the cash box full.

That said, let's be clear that NOT ONE of these recent changes occurred because of the Kennel Club's own initiative. 

Every single one of these recent changes has occurred because of the exposure and shame heaped on the Kennel Club by the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed.

The Kennel Club did not see the light until they felt the heat, and it has taken several concerted years of heat to get the modest change we see here. 

That's the real story, but it's the story the Kennel Club attempts to sweep under the rug with four minutes of bold-faced lies at the front end of this self-promotional film.

Sorry, but the era of lies and disinformation is over. Someone please tell Steve Dean and Caroline Kisko.

Now, do you want to see pictures from the Richmond dog show (the one featured in the film) taken by someone who was not a paid apologist for the Kennel Club?  Good news then!  Those are up over at Jemima Harrison's blog.  Yes, her pictures are more powerful than my text.   See for yourself!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Black and White and Happy All Over


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Coffee and Provocation


What the Talmud Says About Dog Breeders:
In the Talmud it says:  "No man should breed a dog unless it is kept on a chain. He may, however, breed it in a town adjoining the frontier where he should keep it chained during the daytime and loose it only at night. It was taught: Rabbi Eliezer the Great says that he who breeds dogs is like him who breeds swine. What is the practical bearing of this comparison? — That he  be declared cursed."

Dog Breed Health Site:
Carol Fowler has launched a new Dog Breed Health website (www.dogbreedhealth.com), with information on the inherited health problems of 130 dog breeds.

Mitt Romney Is a Serial Killer:
Steve Colbert's Super PAC, now named the "Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC" has put out its first attack ad, noting that if Mitt Romney really thinks corporations are people, then for most of his life Mitt Romney has been a serial killer. Colbert has it about perfect when he mocks the insanity and inanity of the American political system, especially the way big money influences the process. Of course, the real object of attack here is the U.S. Supreme Court which not only greenlighted the notion that corporations are people, but also the entire "Super PAC" process with unlimited amounts of unaccounted for corporate cash driving the process.

Mitt Romney Does Not Have 15 Homes:
In a Newt Gingrich-sponsored attack piece on Romney, some random citizen claims Mitt Romney has 15 homes. That is simply not true. Mitt Romney does NOT have 15 homes. He has a $12 million beachside mansion in La Jolla, California, which he is in the process of quadrupling, and he had a massive ski estate on 11 acres in Park, Utah which he sold because it was looking a little too large for television and he wanted to run for President. Romney also has a $10 million home in New Hampshire and a townhouse in Belmont, Mass., and a nearby mansion, where one of Romney’s sons lives, and where Romney was registered to vote as recently as last year. There may be more, but I doubt it rises to 15 -- more likely 7 or so, though I image that if you looked at total square feet, you might find they were equal in size -- or larger -- than 15 average American homes.

Praying to Not-Extinct Turtles:
The black softshell turtle is native to South Asia but, as of 2002, it was officially considered extinct in the wild (even if there is some reason to doubt that claim).  The good news is that in Chittagong, Bangladesh, there are about 150 to 300 of these turtles living at the a shrine dedicated to to Bayazid Bastami, an influential Islamic mystic from the 9th century.  The legend of the shrine is that the forebearers of this group of turtles were once human sinners, but in the 13th Century a saint saved their souls by turning them into turtles.  Since then, the attendants of the shrine (called the Mazur Committee) have taken care of the turtles and their descendants.

More Not-Extinct Turtle News:
In the Galapagos Islands, a species of giant tortoise believed extinct for 150 years appears to be alive and well and living on the volcanic slopes of Volcano Wolf on the northern tip of Isabela Island.  A genetic analysis found that DNA footprints of the long-lost tortoise species, Chelonoidis elephantopus, in the genomes of hybrid offspring that are only 15 years old, meaning that there are almost certainly several purebred turtles roaming the island. The hybrid tortoises are a mix of C. elephantopus and another giant tortoise from the area, C. becki.

"Avoid Ghetto" Ap for Cell Phone GPS:
Microsoft has patented an ‘avoid ghetto’ feature for GPS devices.  The "ap" notes that a route can be plotted for pedestrians to avoid an “unsafe neighborhood" based on the latest crime statistics.

You Are the One Percent:
If you made over $34,000 last year, then you are part of the richest 1% in the world.  Of the richest 1%in the world, half live in the United States.

Twittering With Ron Paul:
There's a twitter feed that just includes direct quotes from Ron Paul's old Newsletter.  140 characters is about all you need, and just a few samples will do.  For example this morning's is: "Our country is being destroyed by a group of actual & potential terrorists -- and they can be identified by the color of their skin."  Another:  "I've urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming." And another: "If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be." And another:  "The criminals who terrorize our cities -- in riots & on every non-riot day -- are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are." And another:  "At least 39 white women have been stuck with used hypodermic needles -perhaps infected with AIDS- by gangs of black girls."   Just to remember:  Ron Paul finished second in the New Hampshire primary.

Immigration Policy That Rewards Failure:
David North writes:  "Many parts of U.S. immigration policy reward failure. This is usually not recognized. Whether the failure is in the labor market, the investment market, or the marriage market, bits and pieces of our immigration system are there to shore up those who cannot make the grade."
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jessica Elgot is a Racialist, Not a Reporter

Hitler and Eva Braun with their purebred dogs. Six dogs were in the bunker -- all purebred.


This post is not about dogs. It is about racialism and reporting.

Jessica Elgot is a young "reporter" for "The Jewish Chronicle," but we will get to to that in a moment.

Let's start with the fact that she is a racialist.

A racialist is someone who sees the world through one lens, the lens of race, culture or religion.

The folks you find on the Stormfont web site, or at British National Party or English Defence League rallies are all racialists if not outright racists.  These folks are obsessed with the race and religion of people they see on the street corner, in the media, and in politics.

This obsession is shared by Jessica Elgot.

Though she is not hurling invective at others, her obsession is not how we are connected together, but how we stand apart.

If The New York Times said the end of the world was at hand, Jessica Elgot would write an article entitled: "End of Word at Hand, Jews to Be Most Affected."

So how do I come to write about Jessic Elgot? After all, she has not written a word about me, we live in different countries, and she herself says she does not care a whit about dogs.

It seems that someone Ms. Elgot did not know sent her a smear packet about the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed

Ms. Elgot herself says she does not care a whit about dogs, but as a confirmed racialist it seems she reflexively reached for her keyboard when she was told the documentary was opposed by "Jewish dog breeders." The result: an article for The Jewish Chronicle entitled "Jewish dog breeders call upon BBC to cancel Nazi-linked film".

Whiskey-tango-foxtrot.   Nazi-linked film? There's taking some liberties with the English language!

The morning the piece came out, I looked up Ms. Elgot. It turns out she is all of 24 years old and she wants to be a freelance journalist. Good luck with that!

I shot off an email. Had she actually talked to anyone about dogs or the history of dogs? Who was it that represented ALL Jewish dog breeders? Under what claim?

Her answers were evasive.

It turns out that she had not talked to anyone. She had not talked to Jemima Harrison nor, apparently, had she talked to anyone who knew anything about dogs or the history of dogs. Instead, she said she had received a letter "signed" by four putatively Jewish dog breeders from a Facebook group.

A Facebook group??! A letter from FOUR people??!

Yes, that seems to have been the extent of her "research".

How absurd does this story get? You cannot imagine.

For starters, let me point out that Pedigree Dogs Exposed was commissioned by Richard Klein of the BBC, a Jew according to the typing Nazis over at the Stormfront web site who happily go through the roster of all the Jews in power at the BBC.

The Executive Producer of the Pedigree Dogs Exposed update that is now in video production under commission from the BBC, is also Jewish.

But so what? What's religion got do with it? Not a thing!

We would all recognize the naked racism and anti-Semitism if the typing Nazis over at the Stormfront web site put out a headline entitled "Jews Bash Kennel Club Dog Breeders" and it turned out to be just four random people who happened to be Jewish, wouldn't we?

And guess what? That headline may yet float!

You see Nick Griffin, the hate-spewing head of the British National Party has already tweeted in support of the Kennel Club after critics noted it's obsession with racial breed purity.



Very amusing.

I actually know more people who hunt with their dogs who are opposed to breeding dogs for defect, disease and deformity than I know "Animal liberation cranks" with that view point, but never mind that.

What I'm hoping for is that someone will tell Nick Griffin that a Jewish fellow commissioned the BBC piece about the Kennel Club. I am sure Mr. Griffin will oblige with a headline or a tweet about that. After all, Nick's already got his Kennel Club rosette!



But wait, it gets better.

Caroline Kisko, the press secretary for the Kennel Club, is married to Chris Kisko who is (or was) a member of the British National Party, and who is all over the web site of the hooligan-soaked English Defence League. On one post, for example, he echoes sentiments once voiced by the likes of Hitler, Goebbels and Goering:

Since what date did accepting an invasion of an incompatable cuture into ours become desirable. (sic)

Right. Nice words those, and I cannot help but note that they nearly echo those of Steve Dean at the Kennel Club who, when asked if the Club would welcome all who are actively involved with pedigree dogs, replied: ”It is not open to everybody as this carries risks: if you do not filter the applicants then any group of people can join and thus effectively change the entire organisation.”

Right. They want to "filter" out the riff-raff. You know who you are. They're not actually against the Jews, or the Muslims, or the Pakistanis, you understand. They're just for their own kind. "Separate and equal," and all that.

Now to be clear, it may be that Ms. Elgot is not a dyed-in-the-wool racialist like Nick Griffin or Chris Kisko.

It could be that she is simply a very young and very lazy reporter who has not been too well trained.

Perhaps no one has told her that Facebook and Twitter are not news sources!

Perhaps no one advised her that a real reporter would have noted that Jemima Harrison's award-winning documentary resulted in three independent studies affirming its conclusions (one of which was commissioned by the Kennel Club itself).

Perhaps no one suggested to her that she might Google "eugenics and dog breeding". If she had done that she might have read "The Eugenics Man and the Kennel Club" right at the top, or "The Westminster Eugenics Show" just below, or "From Bassetts to Auschwitz in 50 Years."

A few more clicks and she might have read about how the Nazis were obsessed with breeding "pure Aryan cattle" and how Hermann Göring helped fund the creation of a "German hunt terrier," and how dog breeders associated with the "Verein Fur Deutsche Schaferhunde" gave Hitler "Blondi," the German Shepherd that was by his side when he ordered millions to their death.

At the very least, she might have thought of calling up Jemima Harrison.

So yes, Jessica Elgot is not much of a reporter, and she certainly seems to fit the criteria we might normally associate with a racialist.

But perhaps she is simply young, not very well-trained and lazy? That, is, in fact, almost certainly true.

What then of her editors? Where are they in all this? Any guidance from them?

Nope, not a bit. They are cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown.

I copied my correspondence with Jessica Elgot to Stephen Pollard, Richard Burton, and Alan Montague, her putative editors at The Jewish Chronicle, but they do not seem to care how poorly this story was hammered together. And why would they? Their readership is not subscribing to this publication to actually read the news of the day, is it? No, they are mostly subscribing as an act of ethnic solidarity. The Jewish Chronicle is not likely to lose too many subscribers because of a mangled and poorly-researched piece on dog breeding!

And yet, I am troubled.

How could an editor of a Jewish publication miss the fact that any story about pedigree dogs is also a story about breed purity... and that standing in the shadows of that discussion is also the dark shadow of forced sterilization and gas chambers?

Have the parallels never occurred to them? Have they never wondered why those parallels exist?

Are the editors at The Jewish Chronicle really that asleep at the wheel?

Surely the editors of The Jewish Chronicle know that the gas chambers of World War II were first suggested in 1935 by Alexis Carrel, the French scientist who won the 1912 Nobel Prize for medicine and who wrote that, "Perhaps it would be effective to kill off the worst and keep the best, as we do in the breeding of dogs."

Surely the editors of The Jewish Chronicle know that Hitler was not operating in a vacuum, and that he got a lot of his ideas from Leon Whitney, the dog breeder, veterinarian, and American Kennel Club-darling who was president of the American Eugenics Society, and who had penned a book calling for the forced sterilization of 10 million Americans?

Surely the editors of The Jewish Chronicle know that Whitney got a lot of his ideas from Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin who was President of the British Eugenics Society and who was the first person to coin the term "eugenics?" Surely they know that Galton was an advocate of closed breeding pools, and that it was this idea that was so warmly and emphatically embraced by the Kennel Club around 1900?

Surely the editors of The Jewish Chronicle know the intellectual roots of the Holocaust?

No?

Then, how sad is that?

Friday, January 13, 2012

The World As It Was and Should Be


I downloaded a dozen FREE books to my Kindle Fire last night, one of which was In Africa - Hunting Adventures In Big Game Country (1910) by John T. McCutcheon.

A quick glance through the table of contents found this summary of Chapter Eight:

Meeting Colonel Roosevelt in the Uttermost Outpost of Semi-Civilization. He Talks of Many Things, Hears that he has Been Reported Dead, and Promptly Plans an Elephant Hunt

Nice!

Now to be clear, I am not saluting elephant hunting, but neither would Teddy if he were alive today. This is, after all, the man who almost single-handedly created the National Forest system, the national Wildlife Refuge system, and the National Park system, and who did more to protect wildlife in this country than anyone who came before or who has come along since.

But Roosevelt believed in an active life, well-lived. He did not shrink into his hole, cuddle up next to the fire, and play board games all day. Life was to be lived, and he was out in the world living it. That is the world as it was, and the way it should be today.
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Knocked Down



You can learn a lot by watching.

For example, I once watched a drunk passed out on a street corner.

He was NOT trying to get up, and as a consequence no one tried to help him. No one tries to help those who do not try to help themselves.

A week later, someone fell in front of my office building. I did not see the fall, but I think it may have started with an epileptic seizure.  After it passed, the fallen person had a leg injury of some kind and was trying very hard to stand.  A dozen hands were there to help.

The lesson is clear: If you try to get back up, this country is full of hands and always will be.

There is no shame in being knocked down, only in not trying to get back up.
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Catcher in the Rye

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shakespeare's Polar Bear


Perhaps the greatest stage direction ever is in William Shakespeare's Winters Tale, in which a scene ends with "Exit, pursued by bear."

A bear?  What bear?   Believe it or not, a Polar Bear. 

A Polar Bear? In Elizabethan England?

Actually, yes.

Author Garry Wills, writing in Verdi’s Shakespeare, notes that Winter's Tale was written in 1610 and that in 1609, two Polar Bear cubs were captured from Greenland by Jonas Poole and brought to England where they were sold to Philip Henslowe's Beargarden, an animal-baiting establishment located right next to the Globe Theater. 

The young Polar Bear cubs showed up in three theatre productions in 1610 and 1611 (one of which was "Oberon the Faery Prince by Ben Johnson) before they became too difficult to handle. Though in later productions actors in bear suits may have been used, or brown bears, in that first year of the Play, it is believed that the novely of Polar Bears was part of what drew the crowd.