Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marinated in Awesomeness (Not Butter)




Estimated to be at least 80 years old, 17-pound "Larry the Lobster" was purchased at a restaurant by Don MacKenzie of Niantic, Connecticut, who said he just couldn't stand to see the massive creature end up on someone's dinner plate.

"It takes seven years for him to even become a lobster big enough to keep," said MacKenzie.  "For a lobster to live this long and avoid lobster traps, nets, lobster pots ... he doesn't deserve a bib and butter."

Nope.  He deserves his own YouTube video.  Mission accomplished!

Sell Your Soul for a Chicken Sandwich?



The weight of hate is going to take this company down.  

Here's a simple truth:  When you crap in the punch bowl, even if you boil that punch bowl in Clorox later on, no one is ever going to drink from it again. 

Chick-Fila-A has crapped in the punch bowl, and the Internet has put it on YouTube and Facebook.  Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

America, We’re in This Together


"When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together..."

We all stand on the shoulders of giants... George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, and Tim Berners Lee.

No one who has ever built anything of very much consequence in this nation, or any nation, has done it alone.

Thomas Edison needed capital, and he needed government investment and willing consumers.

Tim Berners Lee, one of the people who invented the Internet as we know it today, could not have done it without dozens of fellow inventors, big government investments spurred on by Al Gore (yes, it's true), and many small and large businesses taking a gamble to work together.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson understood the point, of course.

The Preamble to the Constitution does not say "Me, Myself and I," but:

"We the people, of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

We the People, working together can build a great nation.

We did that. We the People built the Great White Fleet and paved a million miles of road connecting your house to mine.

We the People built great universities in every state, and made parks for the common man. We cleaned up our rivers, we protected our forests, we brought back America's wildlife.

We the People. Not Me, Myself and I.

Before he began flipping and flopping and pandering himself to embarrassment, Mitt Romney recognized that we all get to great heights with the too-often unsung assistance of others. Listen to what he once told the world's winter Olympians:

"You Olympians, however, know you didn't get here solely on your own power.

"For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions.

"All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right!"

-- Mitt Romney, to Winter Olympics participants


Barack Obama also knows that behind every American success are parents, teachers, coaches, construction workers, military men and women, and hard working taxpayers.

This nation is great because we are a UNITED States.

This nation is great because we are (or at least once were), WE THE PEOPLE.

As President Obama told a crowd at a recent campaign stop in Norfolk, Virginia:


"We’ve already made a trillion dollars’ worth of cuts. We can make some more cuts in programs that don’t work, and make government work more efficiently… We can make another trillion or trillion-two, and what we then do is ask for the wealthy to pay a little bit more…

"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges; if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

"The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

"So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon.

"We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for president – because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”
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Monday, July 30, 2012

Training the Children

Völkisch Thought in the World of Dogs



Did you know that Konrad Lorenz, that Austrian father of Ethology, the study of animal behavior, was both a Nazi and a cheerleader for "race cleansing"?

True! 

Now, to be fair, a lot of folks believed in eugenics in the 1920s, and a lot of folks in Austria and Germany also became Nazis, some with more passion than others.

What is distinctive about Konrad Lorenz, however, is that he did not join the Nazi party early on, or as a callow youth.

Lorenz was 35 years old when he joined the Nazi party in 1938, just four months before Kristallnacht.  Eager to ingratiate himself with the Nazis, he suggested that animal behaviorism provided a solid platform and rationalization for "racial cleansing."

As Richard W. Brukhardt, Jr. notes in Patterns of Behavior: Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and the Founding of Ethology:

Summoning up an image with which the Nazis were obsessed, the naturalist [Lorenz] who only a few days before had applied for membership in the Nazi Party likened degenerate members of society to cancerous cells in an organism: "Nothing is more important for the health of an entire people [Volk] than the elimination [Ausschaltung] of invirent types, which, with the most dangerous and extreme virulence, threaten to penetrate the body of a people like the cells of a malignant tumor."

Apologists for Lorenz
paint him as a simple opportunist willing to say anything for money or advancement, but the true history is a little more troubling. 

In private letters, Lorenz is overtly antisemitic, and in his application to join the Nazi party, his supporters noted that his father's autobiography was "a decidedly Nazi book."

There is more, of course.  Sworn in as a Nazi in 1938, Lorenz was a member of the Office of Race Policy and a goose-stepping supporter right up until 1943, when it became clear the Nazi cause was doomed. 


In 1940, even as trains full of of Jews rolled to the ovens, Lorenz saluted the cause of extermination for racial purtity, writing that:

The selection of toughness, heroism, social utility ... must be accomplished by some human institutions if mankind in default of selective factors, is not to be ruined by domestication induced degeneracy. The racial ideas as the basis of the state has already accomplished much in this respect.


In 1942,  Lorenz participated in a study of 877 children of mixed German-Polish marriages to determine their potential for assimilation into German culture. Those considered of inferior social or genetic value were sent to concentration camps where, presumably, most were killed.

At the end of the war, Lorenz was rounded up by the Russians and put in a camp for former Nazis from which he was discharged in 1948.

After being released by the Russians, Lorenz found it hard to get funding in Austria or Germany because of his past Nazi associations.  What to do?


The answer, of course, was to lie overseas, where his track record was less clear due to time, distance and translation issues.  Lorenz now claimed he was never a Nazi, and downplayed his numeous published papers which supported racial cleansing.

It worked. 

In 1973, Konrad Lorenz joined Dutch biologist Nikolaas Tinbergen and Austrian biologist Karl von Frisch, as one of three joint winners of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine -- the same award given in 1912 to Alex Carrel, the French scientist who, in 1935, first proposed using gas chamber "as we do in the breeding of dogs" to improve the human race.

The notion that Konrad Lorenz gave up his Nazi theology is simply not true.  In his last book (Civilized Man's Eight Deadly Sins, 1974), Lorenz has a chapter on "genetic decay" in which he continued to claim that domestication of animals had weakened them -- a Nazi idea now stripped of Swastika's, but otherwise unchanged from its original permutation.

And what was Lorenz's solution?  Lorenz believed that aggressive measures should be embraced in order to prevent "degeneration" of both humans and animals, and that to achieve success both humans and animals should be to bred to a standard enforced through eugenic measures.  If this was done long enough for humans, Lorenz argue, we might be able to perfect a new species of man, but to do so we would have to replace the Golden Rule with a new maxim; "You shall love the future of your Volk above all else."

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Westminster Dog Show on Acid


"The Westminster Dog Show is a hellscape packed to the gills with Midwesterners and dogs who receive more attention and have better lives than at least 40 percent of the world. The amount of misplaced love and resources funneled into these pooches on a daily basis is enough to make a stone-cold sober person uneasy. But yesterday I discovered that being thrust into the middle of the whole ordeal, while tripping acid, is a great way to kill an afternoon." - Vice




The article and video (see links above) is from Vice, a web site I have never heard of, but which seems to be having fun.

My generation grew up with LSD.   It was that marvelous period of time after the birth control pill, but before HIV/AIDS, and after the arrival of reefer, but before the advent of crack cocaine. We not only inhaled, we never exhaled.

Owsley Stanley, the former sound mechanic for The Grateful Dead, briefly attended my high school before he droppped out, and he later went on to make most of the LSD that folks were dropping in the late 1960s, 70s, and up until the early 1980s, before he split for Australia. He died in Australia last year, the victim of an auto accident, at the age of 76. He was a legend, and I knew people who knew him. Less than three degrees of separation, if you know what I mean.

The stuff knocking around the zoo today is pretty tame stuff compared to what we had 35 years ago. Today, 80 mics would be considered a massive dose. Try 600 mics, and you are likely to lose part of your heat shield upon re-entry. Just sayin'.

A dog show on acid? Whooeee.

The dogs would not be the problem -- it would be the people. Mixing acid and uptight pricks with ego disorders is something I would never advise. Dog shows are a pretty bad trip when you are straight.  On acid?   No way!   As Nancy Reagan put it, just say "No."
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Will Ferrell, Dog Trainer



Very funny!

Clicker training works well for training neutral tricks, such as those shown here, but the clicker actually does very little -- it's simply an always-consistent mechanical noise-based-marker without tone or timber or variation in volume.

The understood joke here is that so many clicker trainers are pretty miserable at timing and lean far too heavily on the clicker as a tool, failing to understand that in order to be a successful clicker-trainer you have to be calm and assertive -- the opposite of Will Ferrell in this sketch.

Here we see Ferrell talking too much, moving too much, working with too many poorly trained dogs at once, and claiming expertise he does not have. How often do we see that in the world of dogs?

As I have noted before, the key to successful clicker trainer is being calm and assertive.

The clicker helps people who are not very good at that get better at it, but a really good trainer who has learned to be calm and assertive (and ego-free), and who has good timing, will generally chuck the clicker in order to keep his or her hands free, trading in the clicker for a simple cluck or mouth noise, or perhaps a hand signal. There is nothing magical about a clicker!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Few Words from Mitt Romney



The following is a quote is from Mitt Romnet's book No Apology:

"England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn't make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn't been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler's ambitions.”


Following his recent visit to the U.K. where he questioned whether the British could pull off a REAL Olympic games as well as HE did a much-reduced winter games (working entirely alone and without any help from anyone else, and never mind that U.S. Government bailout he does not like to talk about), presidential wanna-be Mitt Romney flew to Israel where this report has just come in from our crack team of transcribers:


MITT ROMNEY HAPPY TO BE IN ISRAEL

In Mitt Romney's opening speech at Ben Gurion Airport, he says he has always had a deep love for and connection to Israel... especially after Anne Frank and all the other Jews that were murdered in the holocaust were baptized as Mormons after their death.

He also told the assembled crowd that he knows the Israelis are not like the British. While the British would have been driven into the sea by Adolph Hilter, he explained, he knows the Jews would have fought back and that they did not need America's assistance then, or now.
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Coffee and Provocation



Obama Cares ... and You Can Take That to the Bank
ObamaCare.... Obama cares. Use the term and tell people why.  So many people benefit, you want to make sure the man gets proper credit for what is to be given. Please note that millions of families will now be getting a nice cash rebate from insurance companies ($150 to $800 per family) thanks to ObamaCare. Because Obama cares. >> Read more

Mormons Do Not Help the Poor
(and neither do most religions)
Instead, Mormonism uses the billions of dollars it collects every year to buy fast food franchises and malls, just like Jesus did.  >> Read more

Econonomic Growth Compared to What?
America is bemoaning 1.5 percent economic growth. Anyone check Europe's? It's zero (or less than zero in the EU).  So America is doing better than any other country where you can drink the water or you might care to live, including Japan. Discuss. >>  Read more (PDF)

Romney Is Off to Israel.
Hilarity sure to ensue when he tells them they don't make Jews like planet Kolob Mormon Jesus any more.  This is a man who is so smooth that he almost started a war with the British.  He should have picked the French -- he used to be a Mormon youth missionary in Paris.  Yes, that is how you spell spoiled and entitled.

NRA Versus the U.S. Army?
It seems suicide soldiers are shooting themselves in the head with increasing frequency, and the U.S. military now wants to take away the guns from the the seriously depressed.  The NRA objects.  How about a compromise?  How about if we send the soldiers back home so they won't be so depressed?  How about if the Arny and the NRA both support that?  >> Read more

Ann Romney Feels Your Pain
“I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids. Thank goodness that we value those people too. And sometimes life isn’t easy for any of us.” -- Ann Romney at the Connecticut Republican Party’s Prescott Bush Awards Dinner in Stamford, April 2012

Some Beautiful People

Friday, July 27, 2012

Our Lady of Perpetual Hate and Greed



Remember when this kind of stuff was CHRISTIAN?

No?

Me either. 

And that's the problem. 
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Coffee and Provocation with Shotgun Goodness



There are few things that piss me off more than the summer flies that show up at my Starbucks.  I am paying a lot for this coffee (too much!).  Is there some reason this place does not have a fly-deterrence and killing system in place?  It does not help matters that all the flies flock to the front windows next to where I like to sit.

I have become a rather expert fly-killer with a magazine and newspaper, but I think I may have to change my game and start showing up with a fully automatic weapon slung across my back --- the Bug-a-Salt (bug assault, get it?), designed by Lorenzo Maggiore who had the genius idea of using simple table salt and air compression to create a "shot gun" that would shoot tiny amounts of table salt like "buck shot" at marauding, annoying, and disease-transmitting flies. 

Video below.  Pre-order here, and please note the "arms dealer" special for bulk purchases. Nice!

This is America at our finest -- creative, violent, humorous, innovative, problem-solving.  Nice work Lorenzo.

Will this be the first home-defense gun that gets two thumbs up from both President Obama (a fly-killer extraordinaire) and the National Rifle Association, which could use this little pneumatic shotgun to promote sport hunting and skeet shooting to a whole new generation of grade-school students?

Have we found common ground on guns at last?!


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Your Dog Can Help Win the Zombie Apocalypse


This web site is unapologetically opposed to Zombies.  In fact, we kill all zombies, trolls, time wasters, and anonymous cowards.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with this Administration and the sound scientists at the Center for Disease Control in having a working game plan to fight the Zombie Apocalypse.

But, gentle readers may ask, how can we use dogs in the fight against Zombies?

The good new is that Jason Macek (who is not a Zombie) has put together a very nice guide on how to use your dogs to fight Zombies when that time comes... which according to the Mayan Calender may only be a few months away.  Enjoy!




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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Time, Place and Manner and the 2nd Amendment


I – like most Americans – believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. I think we recognize the traditions of gun ownership passed on from generation to generation, that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage. But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers and not in the hands of crooks. They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities."
. . . — President Barack Obama

Time, place and manner.

Good people can disagree on time, place and manner.

The NRA agrees that bearded fellows named Mohamed should not be allowed to carry bazookas in an airport.

Everyone is OK with a .22 down on the farm.

The real debate is in between.

And it's all about time, place and manner.

The fact that an AK-47 is (mostly) illegal while AR-15 is (mostly) legal goes to the heart of the matter.

What's the difference when you are standing in front of a movie theatre at midnight with a 100-round magazine and malice in your heart?

Should guns belong in the hands of crooks?  What's a crook?  Are we going to allow the heads of pharmaceutical companies to owns guns even as they steal billions through fraud, while we prevent someone with a felony arrest for shoplifting at age 17 from ever owning a gun?

Should guns belong in the hands of the crazy?  Who is crazy?  Is everyone who is bipolar to be banned from owning a gun?  How about all the neurotics who take Ambien to go to sleep?   How about Scientologists?  People who believe in aromatherapy? Where do you draw the line?

One thing everyone agrees on (even the NRA), is that the line has to be drawn somewhere.
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Death from Snake Bite Before Discomfort?



The real world of forest, field and fen presents a lot of serious aversive consequences for the wild animals that live there and the farm animals, humans and pets that visit.

Mother Nature is not a clicker trainer!

In the clip, above, an African Spitting Cobra teaches an adult male lion about the consequences of approaching too closely.

In the clip, below, a Puff Adder gives the same message to a Honey Badger who apparently just survives his ordeal.



Here in the U.S., of course, we have snakes that are every bit as dangerous as the Spitting Cobra or the Puff Adder -- Mojave Rattlesnakes, Western Diamondbacks, and Eastern Diamondbacks.

A dog that gets bit by a rattlesnake has a reasonably high chance of being dead in short order and a very certain chance of being in a lot of distress requiring expensive veterinary intervention.

The one thing that reliably works for dogs that hunt in territory frequented by rattlesnakes is snake-aversion training, and the best snake aversion training is done with an e-collar.

Of course the pure click-and-treat crowd does not really care what works. The most extreme in this crowd have slipped into cult-like babble that is as immune to fact, reason, observation and experience as anything you will hear from a born-again Christian, Mormon or Scientologist.

Apparently the message of the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training Behavior (which despite the grand name is simply an unaccredited dog training school with no buildings) is that your dog is better off dead than discomforted by being trained to avoid snakes.

Really? Karen Pryor salutes that? Hard to believe, but that, at least, is the message of Nan Arthur who is an instructor with the Karen Pryor Academy and who, when asked about snake-proofing dogs, had no training advice at all other than to tell The North County Times that no one should ever take their dog off-leash in an area where there might be a rattlesnake -- which, of course, includes most of the United States.

So no bird hunting, eh? No rabbit coursing, no terrier work, no pig hunting.

And never mind that in California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida it's not entirely unlikely that you will one day find a rattlesnake in your backyard.

I suppose in those states no one should ever let their dog off the living room rug!

Ms. Arthur goes on to tell us that e-collars simply do not work.

"There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that shock collars teach anything to dogs."

Right. Apparently Ms. Arthur is as as well informed on these matters as a parakeet. People are paying her for training advice? Each to his own, of course, but as you are driving to a Karen Pryor Academy seminar (loans are available!), you might pay attention to all the cows by the side of the road that are carefully standing behind electric fencing. Those cows seem to have learned quite a lot from electric fencing, even if Ms. Arthur has not!

But, of course, it's not just cows.  My own working terriers (like millions of other dogs) are contained behind a simple Invisible Fence system and never mind the parade of raccoons, fox, deer, possum and squirrels that travel through my yard at night.  Invisible Fence has trained and taught my dogs that they are not to follow, and that training has been every bit as successful as the lessons taught by spitting cobras to adult lions.

But, of course, the observational success of e-collar training does end there, does it?

Scores of thousands of working bird dogs have learned and lived happy and productive lives with e-collar instruction.

Ditto for dogs that work Schutzhund and Ring, search and rescue, and even simple obedience.

All of this is completely new information to Nan Arthur, of course. Blinders on, her essential message to the world is snake death before discomfort!

Ms. Arthur goes on:

We live in snake country. That's just a fact. Horses get bitten, children get bitten, cats get bitten, and nobody's putting shock collars on them.


Right. Good point. Deep thinking going on there.

A horse weighs anywhere from 10 to 100 times the weight of a dog, and kids are warned about snakes, while cats rarely move more than 100 yards from a house.

So, really good points being made there Ms. Arthur. Thanks for sharing. Now what brand of shovel would you recommend I use when I bury my dog?

Death before discomfort? Oh yes, please tell us more!

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And these are the dogs that lived!
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Landsat is 40 Years Old... Here's What It Shows



Las Vegas grows (below).



The Aral Sea shrinks (below).



The Amazon is desforested (below).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Which Romney are You For?




WHICH ROMNEY ARE YOU FOR? Gun grabber or NRA brown-noser? Flip or flop?

Are you for the Mittens Romney that liked ObamaCare before Obama, or the one that now wants to toss 3.1 million kids off of their parents health insurance?

Are you for the Mittens Romney that claims he's a job creator... but who forgot to say that those jobs were in China and India and Mexico?

Are you for the Romney that "saved" the Olympics with a government bail out, or are you for the Mittens Romney that does his banking in the Caymans and Switzerland?

Are you for the Romney that tithes to his church which believes that Jesus-Is-a-Space-Alien living on the planet Kolob, or are you for the Mittens Romeny that does not pay his fair share of taxes?

Are you for the Romney that was in favor of an assault weapons ban before some lunatic shot up a town in Colorado, or you for the Mittens Romney who is now opposed to an assault weapons ban because he will say anything to get elected?

Flip or flop? Which Romney are you voting for?

Are you voting for the Romney that Massachusetts put in before they knew what he was like, or the one they will now not touch with a 10-foot pole because he left them broke, busted, and with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation (47th worst)?

Yep. Massachusetts residents are not voting for Romney.

His own state. The people who know him best. Think that over....
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The Eye of the Needle



My mother got a cornea transplant a few weeks ago, and apparently this is what the stitching looks like underneath (her eye is currently sewed closed while it heals).

This picture is from a fellow on Redditor who posted this high-resolution picture of his girlfriend's eye -- she got the same surgery done. 

My mother's eye surgeon is from Syria (my folks were posted to Syria to live the day after they got married) and her surgeon apparently does incredibly intricate sewing as a hobby.  I believe it! 
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Stupid, Ignorant, Delusional or Terrified?



Tyler Muto has expanded a bit on his previous excellent post, and his basic message is as before:  There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to dog training.

Of course, this is new and troubling information for those who put all their eggs in the basket of click-and-treat. 

And so what do they do?  Unable to understand the not-too-subtle idea that there are no silver bullet solutions that work on all dogs under all conditions for all problems, they assume that Muto must somehow reject reward-based training, which is simply nonsense.

Read the whole thing here

Now ask yourself why pure click-and-treat trainers have such a hard time holding more than one idea in their head at a time. 

  • Are these folks that inexperienced with the full range of canine behaviors?
  • Are they that terrified of themselves and their clients due to (perhaps) some past trauma or perhaps their own inability to control their own emotions when training a dog?
  • Are they simply demonizing more balanced trainers in order to build their own brand, and so are willing to over-simplify and engage in intellectual dishonesty in order to achieve that goal?
  • Are some people simply so stupid that they cannot hold two ideas in their heads at once?
  • Is this simply a case of squawking parrots who seek to assimilate and insinuate themselves into the world of dog training by "flocking up" and repeating noises and behaviors they see others in the flock repeating?

This is a genuine question. 

The notion that consequences should always be positive is a bizarre idea that does not fit well within the real world of either human or animal learning. 

Neither does the rejection of 2,000 years of successful animal training.

So why hold on to an idea that does NOT reflect observable reality and that is not part of classical operant conditioning which is based on consequence rewards AND consequence punishments?

Has clicker training simply become a religion, as immune to logic and evidence as any religion, and now operating on faith and proclamation alone?
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Happy Dog Does Not Believe in God



Of course many people who do believe in God seem happy enough. Each to his own.

The point is that happiness and morality do not seem to have very much to do with belief in God or with religion in general.

You want to be happy? Do good work. Help others. Be of service. Live small and stay within your budget. Arrive a little early, stay a little late, and do more than your fair share. Do esteemable things, and you will have self-esteem. Build for time and distance, and delay gratification. Give without expectation of getting. Find the invisible people that serve, and heap a little recognition and praise on them. Live a life of square corners. Routinely walk through field and forest to get resized. Pay attention. 

That's all there is to it. It's really that simple. It's not about more money, or the right spouse, or a bigger house, or a faster car. It's certainly not about where you pray.  If your door to happiness or morality is that small and pinched, you may never get through to the other side.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Inhumane and Outrageous!

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There Is No 2nd Amendment for Body Armor



 
[Holmes] wore a ballistic helmet, a ballistic vest, ballistic leggings, a throat protector, a groin protector, and tactical gloves. He was so well equipped that if anyone in that theater had tried what the National Rifle Association recommends—drawing a firearm to stop the carnage—that person would have been dead meat. Holmes didn’t just kill a dozen people. He killed the NRA’s answer to gun violence.

O.K.

So will the political left and the political right now come together to ban the public acquisition of ballistic vests, helmets, face shields, leggings, etc.?

One can argue as to whether there is a right to an AR-15, and whether there is a public use for an AR-15, but clearly, the only purpose of a citizen owning a ballistic vest, leggings, and face shield is to make it easy to do public mayhem with impunity. As Slate notes:

Essentially, Holmes has called the NRA’s bluff. It may be true that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But the best way to stop a good guy with a gun is a bad guy with body armor. And judging from Holmes' vest receipt, he wasn't even buying the serious stuff.
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You Otter See How They Train



A nice litte clip of a mother otter teaching her pup how to swim.

It's not all click and treat -- more like the William Koelher Method of Otter Training!
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Meet the Beetles!



Found this in my living room this morning, very much alive. It was a nice day yesterday, and apparently someone left a window open.

This is a female Eastern Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus).  The males have pretty impressive horns out front. The grubs of these beetles feed on dead cherry trees and black locust, and I have a few dead black locust in the back.  

For the record, this is the largest beetle found in the U.S.
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Coffee and Provocation


Dog World Turbo-boosted to Oblivion: 
U.S. magazine Dog World has published its last issue.  Not a complete surprise.  As the AKC withers on the vine, and so too does the print media, the twin downward curves worked to turbo-boost the magazine to oblivion.  They say they will keep an online presence, but I cannot imagine it will be much other than a rehash of show wins and rehashed paid puffery ads masquerading as "news" articles. 

Evaluating Breathing:
Here's a nice little video about evaluating the breathing problems in brachycephalic breeds.  This is from the Swedish Kennel Club.  The fact that this video is needed is an indictment of breeders and show ring judges who seem to be idiots.  Who needs to be told not to put up a dog that breathes heavily on a short walk around the ring? 

A Dog Show You Would Pay to See!
You know what's needed in the world of dog shows?   A whole new structuring.  We need something that is a bit more basic and a bit clearer about what we are trying to do, and the cost of failure.  My modest proposal is that there be a veterinarian ringside to do a mandatory spay-neuter on at least one dog and one bitch put up at any major, with a good Tasering for the owner-breeder of said dog if is is deemed that the dog has a breathing problem, an eye problem, or a gait problem.  Come on, you KNOW this would boost admissions, and it would also result in the rapid improvement of dogs, wouldn't it? 

Inbreeding Makes for Stupid
Inbreeding makes for stupid and for shorter
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Essential Stories


What I'm reading, what I'm drinking. 

Two of these things are not long for this world -- the paper book and the paper newspaper. 

And yet, coffee and good story will last forever. 

The book is a novel of the Civil War with the kind of granularity in detail that makes my own brain spark. 

The newspaper too has a few interests.  The lead story today is on pharma fraud, and though none of the key players are actually named, I know them all.  
For years, a trio of anemia drugs known as Epogen, Procrit and Aranesp ranked among the best-selling prescription drugs in the United States, generating more than $8 billion a year for two companies, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson. Even compared with other pharmaceutical successes, they were superstars. For several years, Epogen ranked as the single costliest medicine under Medicare: U.S. taxpayers put up as much as $3 billion a year for the drugs.

The trouble, as a growing body of research has shown, is that for about two decades, the benefits of the drug — including “life satisfaction and happiness” according to the FDA-approved label — were wildly overstated, and potentially lethal side effects, such as cancer and strokes, were overlooked.... ..,[A]t the center of any explanation of the popularity of these drugs are the nation’s doctors, clinics and hospitals, and the choices they made for patients.

Americans might like to think that doctors focus on only their health. But physicians and hospitals have to pay the bills, too, and, in some cases, the more they treat a patient, the more they earn. This was especially true in the case of the anemia drugs: The bigger the dose, the more they made.
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Pride and Prejudice



In the world of working terriers nothing is quite as comical as the folks that are breed- and kennel-blind. For these folks, only one particular type of dog is worth a crap -- the type they own.

What these folks are doing is telegraphing their inexperience. If you do not know of a white dog, a black dog, a brown dog, a red dog, a smooth coat, a rough coat, a liver nose, and a black nose that works well in the field, you are either not paying attention to what is around you, or you are not getting out too much. The color of the dog, the color of its nose, the lay of its coat, and the gender of the dog does not mean a thing.

And yet there are a lot of people making this claim, aren't there?

To me this kind of pap sounds like the stuff we hear from the rosette chasers. How easy is it to drink the Kennel Club Koolaid and to begin thinking that the color of the dog matters? In fact, what matters far more than color is the experience and temperament of the person that a dog is given to.

A person with experience and an even temperament will try to get his or her dog from working lines and then he or she will enter it correctly and give it a lot of experience in the field. As a general rule, the dog then works out fine.

Some of the one-minute rice folks we have in this world today think that if a dog is kenneled for a year and then thrown at a hole, it should "do the job" first time out. Start them with rats? Take them out in the field and give them experience slowly? They have never heard of it.

It's always funny how a dog can be declared crap by one person (and often in a week!) and then be passed on to someone else who hunts it well for a long time. Something might be crap, but maybe it's not the dog?

Yet people do not want to look at themselves. They do not want to think that a different dog may require a different approach or require a different speed or a different way of working. Isn't that always the way?

People that dig to the dogs have always been rare. They are rare now, they were rare 20 years ago, 50 years ago, 75 years ago, 100 years ago, and 150 years ago. Always rare. And yet there have always been digging dogs and there always will be digging dogs. And the reason for this is simple: people that really dig their dogs tend to get their dogs from other people that also dig their dogs. They are not buying dogs from the general population. If you are randomly looking at all white dogs, or all black dogs,or all red dogs, or all brown dogs to find a worker, then you are not following directions or buying sensibly, are you? Working terriers tend to come from people that work their dogs. Those people have always been rare, but they have also always existed, and they have always owned dogs of all colors.

Caveat emptor, of course. There is a difference between someone who always has a pup for sale but only works one or two dogs three or four times a year, and someone who works their dogs every week but just breeds one litter every three or four years.

The former is a dog breeder, and though his or her stock may be coming from a famous "name brand" kennel, the dogs themselves are going to be almost entirely untested. You cannot kennel 30 dogs and give them adequate work, while at the same time staying home to feed and shovel poop and sell off the puppies that are advertised in the paper.

The later, of course, is a true worker who is breeding true working terriers, but the kennel may not have a name, and there are almost never pups for sale -- he or she does not breed often, generally keeps one or two for himself, and the litters tend to be small because the dogs are likely to be on the small side.

Perhaps the most tiresome bit of chatter in the working terrier world are the young know-nothings who continuously slag Plummer terriers and/or praise Patterdale terriers. Once again, we find people judging dogs by color and brand-name. Never mind that a Plummer terrier is just a color variant of a Jack Russell, or that digging to terriers was centuries old before anyone had ever heard of a Patterdale terrier. So many young people today think that the world began when they were born, and that it will end the day they die. The idea that the dogs have always been there in all colors, coats, noses, genders, and without brand names is something hard for them to fathom. Raised on brand names, they now cannot see past them.

Of course, inexperience is telegraphed in a lot of ways, isn't it? The fellow who tells me the size of the terrier does not matter has just told me he does not dig much. The person who values a really hard dog is telling me he or she is getting out only a few times a year and has a lot to prove on the few times he is out. The person who values a mute dog is simply a fool and a pretender.

Of course it does no good to point this out in a directed way. Better to simply bite your lip and state simply what you know to be true: a small dog is almost always more useful than a large one; a dog that "knows butt from breath" can move and hold more quarry with less damage than a dog that has teeth alone; a mute dog is a nuisance to all and a danger to itself; a working terrier is to be judged by what it does in the field, not the kennel names on its pedigree or the color of its coat.

Or, as J. Allen Boone once observed:

"There's facts about dogs, and then there's opinions about them. The dogs have the facts, and the humans have the opinions. If you want the facts about the dog, always get them straight from the dog. If you want opinions, get them from humans."


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Red Badge of Courage?




I am somewhat flumoxed
by the number of people who think a picture of a bleeding dog is a "red badge of courage"

Hardly! More like the scarlett letter of a novice.

A dog that is constantly knackered is a dog that does not know butt from breath -- or else it is a good indication of a novice digger that does not know how to terminate quarry or get it out of a stop end.

Either way, a muzzle that is covered with blood is a good indication that you own a dog that cannot hunt next weekend, for one reason or another. Is this such a good thing that it is worth photographing and bragging about?

Injuries to both human and dog are part of the sport, to be sure, but they are something we try to avoid -- a regret, not a mark of success. They are some small or large measure of failure, even as they were in the old days before people had huge kennels of rosette-chasing dogs.

Once upon a time people hunted several times a week and worked all season with just two or three or four reliable dogs that knew the busines. The men were experienced and the dogs were too -- instant experts and replaceable dogs had not yet found favor.

It does not take a smart dog or an experienced dog to get ripped up in a hole -- any over-large, thick-headed, over-adrenalized dog can get wrecked. If you have such a dog (and yes, I have owned one!) you learn to temper your own style of work to spare the dog unnecessary abuse.

That means you pull the dog and snare out the animal, you take the trouble to drop another hole and tail the quarry out (what's another three feet?), or you shoot it, bar it, or let it bolt free. Whatever your option (and you have many) you have respect for the dog and guard it against injuring itself.

Above all you do not take pictures of wrecked dogs and post them on the interet! To do so is to shout from the rooftop: "I am greener than alfalfa in April."

The job of terrier work is not to get a dog wrecked, but for the dog and master to locate the quarry, to bottle it, to dig to it, and -- if needed -- to dispatch it.

A successful day in the field is not defined as a day in which a dog is injured, but one in which there are few regrets, no condolences offered, and the dog and master are both tired, happy and healthy.

A friend of mine -- somewhat puzzled that my dogs were so eager to hunt -- recently asked me how I rewarded my dogs after a successful day in the field.

"Simple," I said. "I let them hunt next weekend too."

The reward for success is being able to do it again the next day -- and all of us wanting to.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

300 Pit Bulls Found in Filth

Every publicity whore in the dog world came out to bemoan one dead Pit Bull in Belfast a few weeks ago, but as I pointed out at the time there were a hundred dogs a day being killed in Ireland and dog rehoming places begging for funds, while nearly a million Pit Bulls a year are killed right here in America.

We hardly need the likes of Victoria Stilwell (or anyone else) flying around the world if they want to do good work for dogs in general, and Pit Bulls in particular.

Of course, if it's just a matter of being a publicity whore, then that's something altogether different isn't it?

Since I wrote those words, in my own County two Pit Bulls attacked a man stepping out of his car, seriously injuring him right in front of his young son. The police shot one of the dogs dead.



Now a dog "rescue" in Montgomery County, Texas has been found with 300 Pit Bulls jammed into crates and cages and covered in filth.

Petco has supplied crates (God bless them) and the Humane Society of the U.S. was called in to help, as it was deemed too big a case for the local Montgomery County Humane Society to deal with.

So how many Pit Bulls will Victoria Stilwell take,  train, rehome, and guarantee as safe?  Ten?  Twenty?    Fifty? 

Remember, this is a woman who flew across the Atlantic for publicity, spending thousands of dollars on airplane fair and hotel accommodations to save a single dog in a country where she does not live.  Now, how much time and money will she spend to save the nearly One Million Pit Bulls killed in this country every year? 

Does she really believe they can all be adopted out?  Is the depth of her ignorance about the Pit Bull problem in America and the Bull Staffie problem in the U.K. really that deep?

Bad Headlines for Mittens

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Might Be Light Over the Next Few Days


I don't drink, don't smoke,
do no drugs other than coffee, take no medications, and I excercise, which is to say I'm pretty healthy for a 53-year old fellow.  That said, I finally needed the attention of a real doctor, and yesterday I had a small operation for a hernia.  All went fine, but they told me it's a four-day recovery, and now I believe them.

It was supposed to be laproscopic surgery, but I just took off the bandage and the slit in my gut looks enormous.  That said, it's not too painful, unless I actually try to get up, bend over, sit down, or shift my weight.  Surprisingly, we do a lot of that over the course of a day!

The good news is that I can catch up on bad movies, good books, and the political turmoil of campaign season.  The other bit of good news is that I should be well on my way to being healed in a week or so, so no real complaints.  Sure I may hobble around like an old man until then, but it's not a permanent condition.

Not yet, anyway.
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Schwartz Learns Hoops

Francis Metcalf does a great job of teaching tricks to other people's dogs over at Bay Area Dog Trainer, and he runs circus dog classes which look like a lot of fun. He writes of his little terrier Schwartz:

I have not had the time to train my little mascot lately, mostly he follows me around and amuses himself. He longs for training though, and often I'm too tired or bored with training other peoples dogs to work with him. Fortunately he is a quick study and I am never disappointed. He is sleeping soundly on my lap right now, exhausted from this session!



Excellent. And Schwarz has even learned to run artificial tunnels.

Francis does Ring, trick training and Schutzhund -- performance dogs all the way around.  If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area and looking for fun sport with dogs I think Francis is the fellow to meet!
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Electric Fences, Barney Fife and the X-Men



The sticker, above, was on a car in the lot when I grabbed a cup of coffee this morning.

Generally good advice, and I need to hear it as much as anyone. 

By the way, you look lovely today.  Have you lost weight?  You don't want to get too thin!


A friend of mine says the world needs more applause, and he is right. 

Genuine applause only, of course, but it's really not that hard to find things to applaud about.

We live in an incredible world with marvelously talented, smart, hard-working people.  Let's not focus on the stupid, lazy and crazy more than we should, eh?

That said, I find that if you do not fence up, then you do not fence OUT

The deranged, the psychotic, the criminal and the narcissist are all a bit tone-deaf and, by definition, are people with boundary issues. If you are not clear about what you will not tolerate, then you may find yourself run over by these types

It was my mother that taught me this (though she denies it). 

Some 30 years ago, I had gotten a terrific review from a boss, but he noted that I did not suffer fools well.  I thought that was a genuine criticism, and reported it to my mother (along with my raise and my promotion).  As she stirred the pot on the stove, she replied with solid clarity:

Nonsense.

If you tolerate fools well, you're going to be surrounded by them.


Wow!   Hadn't thought of that. That was an alternative take. Clearly I needed to tolerate fools better (my boss was not wrong on that point!), but maybe there was a line to draw somewhere? Where was that?

And, of course, I am still working on that question!

As is the nation.

You see, this question of fencing out bad behavior is one of the Big Questions of our time.  

We have all been ripped, raped and robbed and yet we all seem to be so damn polite, that we think we cannot even say too much about it, much less do anything about it.

Take your own bank account.  I do not need to know anything about you to know you have lost a lot of money and security in recent years.

If you are an average American, about 40 percent of your net worth disappeared between 2007 and 2010 as your home value crashed, your 401-K retirement savings withered on the vine, and fraudsters like Bernie Madoff ran off with the spoon.

I was interviewed about that kind of stuff earlier this week, and in the rough transcript, now online, I reference electric fences, Barney Fife and the X-Men.

My core point is that America has been brought down by fraudsters


Al Queda took down a couple of buildings -- Wall Street took down the nation. 

And yet, we seem confused as to what do about White Collar crime.  Why?


Lying, stealing and cheating is self-rewarding behavior that is not so very different from a dog that leaps up on to the dinner table every night for a bite of steak.

If you allow that kind of behavior to go on for very long, it's going to take some focus to get the dog busted off the bad behavior and moving in a new direction. 

Sometimes, when a wire is truly twisted, you have to pull it across a sharp edge to get it straight.

And, of course, it's not all that different in the world of business, is it?

Consider the Medicaid fraudster, in the video below.   For this fellow, ripping off Medicad -- America's health care program for the oldest, sickest and poorest -- has been a hugely self-rewarding behavior.

Should we now ignore this self-rewarding behavior and hope it goes away?

Should we reward this fraudster for engaging in some other kind of less-destructive behavior?

Is this bad actor depraved because he is deprived?

Is he simply a bored animal?

Should we shake a can of pebbles at him?

How about the State Attorney General's "body block"?  Is simply knocking firmly on the front door and giving him a good stare doing very much?

At what point do we say, "enough is enough" and pull out an e-collar for a little "Edison medicine"?

Are we ready to try something different to stop very bad self-rewarding behavior?  And if so, what setting should we put that e-collar on?   Is "vibrate and tone" going to be enough?
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