Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Love and Death

These two black vultures did a little mating dance on the ballast stones of a railroad bed before actually mating, which was very quick and involved a bit of flapping that did not leave much to see. 

Not Complicated

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The 50-Year Lie About Recycling

Almost everything you separate out to “recycle” actually goes to a landfill. It’s mostly a feel-good pantomime.

Metal and glass *can* be recycled, but most of the stuff you set out on the curb isn’t, as it’s too expensive to sort and ship.

What about paper and plastic?

There’s a massive glut of paper, and no one can afford to sort and transport mixed paper. Clean office paper, industrial scrap, and corrugated boxes have a value and a market. The rest of the stuff? Not so much.

Ditto with the dizzying variety of plastics, which have to be sorted by type to be of value and use.

A huge amount of plastic composites, coated papers, etc., are completely unrecyclable, as are foam containers, foam packing, and plastic bags.

Clean milk jugs and plastic soda bottles are the only sizeable recycled plastic streams and if your household trash has much of either one, your diet needs a serious check.

How bad is it? Many city managers say it costs more to recycle most items than to send them to the landfill, and if recycling is mandated, fees will have to be imposed. 

Washington, D.C. Dog Catchers, 1924

Guns, Guitars, and Groceries

Zebulon, North Carolina, 1939.

This is a country song waiting to happen

Navigating the Duck Weed

The Surveyor of Highways

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Kennel Club Disease Formula

Would you build a house on a rotten wooden foundation?

That’s what the Kennel Clubs do with nearly every breed, starting out with a small pool of closely related dogs (often less than 30).

An example: the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever who manages to hit the trifecta of nonsense histories:
  1. a vague job no longer done;
  2. a named location without any supporting paperwork or much evidence of the dog in use there today, and;
  3. a claimed ancient lineage without any evidence and late Kennel Club registration.
Over at the “Institute of Canine Biology” they summarize the deep inbreeding within the Toller gene pool ( ):


Here is what we will learn from the analysis of the data below:
1) The entire breed descends from about 20 founder dogs
2) The database of the breed contains more than 28,600 dogs (through 2010)
3) There was a surge in popularity beginning in the 1980s
4) Over the course of the breed's history, only a small fraction of the available dogs produced offspring
5) Inbreeding increased rapidly after 1960 and has remained higher than 25%
6) The effective population size of the current population is only 27 dogs
7) The population in 2010 had the genetic diversity of only 2.1 dogs (and it can only go down). On average, the animals in the breed are more closely related than full siblings

All Tollers today can trace their origin to 9 dogs, 6 of which were full siblings. These dogs produced 81 registered offspring, 30 of which were bred. One of the founder dogs produced two puppies that were never bred, so today's breed descends from only 4 original lines.
And what’s the result?

As Embrace Pet Insurance notes:
Pet insurance for Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

No kidding. 

Winter Is Behind Us (**I Think**)

Hostas coming up gangbusters. Everything is springing up and leafing out. Buds are swelling, birds are singing, bees are buzzing. We are now in the “April showers bring May flowers” part of our regularly scheduled program.

An Important Message from the CDC

Look at the Size of This Thing

Sunday, April 11, 2021

In Good Hands

Fire Up the Fox News Crack Pipe

Americans look down their nose at the fraying ends of other cultures, with little reflection on our own. Some rural back-country Chinese folks eat bats?

Huh. In parts of back-country America people fuck sheep when they’re not diddling their sister and handling rattlesnakes.

You did not know?

I assure you, it’s true.

In America, we hunt and eat every kind of wild and domestic animal, including animals so similar to humans (pigs and cows) they are used as body part replacements (dental implants and heart valves) for living people.

You did not know?

Now you do.

They eat snake in country XYZ?

They eat snake in America too (as well as the giant lizards called alligators).

They eat rat in country XYZ?

We do too.

We even have Muskrat beauty queens, Nutria festivals, and possum fries.

You want to talk strange religions? Fine.

In America, the main religion is based on a talking snake.

Adherents are told they are mud people cursed by a mass-murdering god who sent his “son” to be murdered before he returned as a zombie.

To show their fidelity to this story, practitioners of this faith wear a copy of the murder weapon of their messiah around their neck.

It’s strange stuff, but Americans manage to bridge the gap by never reading.

My father’s job was to explain America to the rest of the world — how a country that said “all men are created equal” could in fact be the same country that built its economy on slavery and institutionalized racism and sexism.

Strange stuff.

How do you explain that the country that tells the world it was “founded on the rule of law” somehow forgot to mention all the stolen lands and broken treaties?

Do people not know that the “rule of law” (and supporting religious texts) made it legal to own slaves and disenfranchise women?

And now we face a new spate of xenophobia because a foreign microbe has been unintentionally spread around the world?


There’s a story that the Cherokee, Chippewa, Choctaw, Sioux, Navajo, and Hopi have heard before .... only this time, it seems, no smallpox blankets were involved.

And what is the solution?

Why, it’s not to rush out and provide free health care for all, is it?


Instead the same politicians who only 18 months ago were demonizing Medicare For All as “socialist healthcare,” decided to push through a $7.5 trillion government bailout, mostly to benefit Wall Street and big corporations.

Apparently socialism is needed to save capitalism, but it can’t be used to save *you*.

Think most Americans have thought about any of this?


We don’t read much.

We don’t Google.

Instead, we believe in American Exceptionalism, which appears to be one hell of a drug.

Fire up the crack pipe; let’s see what’s on Fox News.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has taken a cue from Will Rogers, who first coined the term “trickle down economics” and did not think much of it.

Back in 1933 Will Rogers (a Cherokee who might have had something to say about our current pandemic) wrote of Herbert Hoover’s economic failures while foreshadowing FDR’s success:

“The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy.  
“Mr. Hoover was an engineer. He knew that water trickles down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will reach the driest little spot.  
“But he didn’t know that *money* trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellows hands.  
“They saved the big banks, but the little ones went up the flue.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, of course, did the exact *opposite* of Hoover, and watered things on the bottom.
In his first year in office FDR stabilized farm prices and created the Works Progress Administration to fund the building of roads, schools, bridges and parks.

He created the National Labor Relations Act, which enshrined union rights in the workplace even as it outlawed wildcat strikes that could cripple the economy.

FDR created Social Security, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

He put in place the Civil Works Administration, the Farm Security Administration, and the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933.

The result was that America’s economy roared back to life, just in time to save the world.

Now Joe Biden is set to follow the FDR model with an infrastructure package that will not only fix and expand America’s failing roads, ports, railroads and bridges, but which will also prepare for a future based on electric vehicles and bike paths, lead-free drinking water, better school buildings, a much improved electrical grid, and an internet-connected nation.

The economic and intellectual strength of the plan is such that Fox News has fallen back to attacking Coca Cola and Baseball. I have no doubt they will be attacking “big hot dog” and “foreign apple pies” within the week.
Meanwhile Tucker Carlson, the “face” of the Fox News network, is openly saluting Nazi “replacement” ideology.

And what of the leadership of the Republican party?

They are trying to whistle past pedophilia, human trafficking, insurrection, rape, money laundering, and insider trading charges which are now heaping up like hurricane timber at high tide.

My suggestion: set the whole damn thing on fire. Start again. There is nothing left to the Republican Party or Fox News that is worth saving.

Of course, some will disagree. The Fox News crack pipe is serving up one helluva drug.

Friday, April 09, 2021

War Pigeons

Carrier pigeons were a critical communication link used by all sides in WWI and World War II.

Dogs were sometimes employed to carry pigeons from one side of a battlefield to another, and pigeons often parachuted in with men who then released them to notify their commanders that they had landed safely and/or under fire.

A Cauliflorous Plant

Redbud is a cauliflorous plant, which means it’s normal behavior for flowers to appear right off the trunk, as seen here. 

The Start of a Large Moth

While gathering a mass of old black plastic flower pots for recycling, I came across this large moth pupa.

Hard to know for sure, but I suspect it’s an Imperial Moth in the making.

I put it back in a pot in the corner of the yard where I found it, with a bit of old dead fern ball to keep it company.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Cooking With Brood X Cicadas?

Bon Appetite magazine has a piece on cooking with Brood X cicadas.  

Shrimp of the dirt?  

Sure.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Saving Big Bucks With a Ballpoint Pen

When a veterinarian submits a "prospective bill" before doing the work, look it over and see what you can cross out.

1. Are you being double billed? It happens. 2. Has the vet or vet tech tacked on procedures that you do not want, such as teeth cleaning? It happens. Teeth cleaning in dogs is almost never medically necessary. Dog teeth and human teeth are not the same for one simple reason: a dog is dead at age 15, not at age 80. 3. Has the vet tacked on a bunch of expensive pre-anesthesia tests? If your dog is not old, is in fine health (other than perhaps a wound), and has done well with anesthesia before, consider skipping it.

4. Is this vet trying to test for heartworm in a dog that is under 9 months of age? That's a scam or a mistake -- cross it out and consider changing vets. 5. Is the vet anxious to sell you Rimadyl for pain? Cross it out and say you'll give the dog buffered children's aspirin in the proper dose instead. 6. Is the vet trying to sell you year-round heartworm medication even though you have a real winter in your area? That's a scam -- cross it out.

7. Is you veterinarian pushing annual vaccinations and "boosters?" Forget it; all vaccines after the first year are good for the life of the dog. Your vet knows this, or should. A rabies vaccine is the only one that needs to be renewed (for legal reasons) and then only every three years, and you do not need to get it done at the vet. The cheapest rabies tag in your community can be gotten from the local animal shelter.

8. Has your new puppy been spayed or neutered? Ask to take it home that day. Some veterinarians are big on keeping pets overnight, but this is medically unnecessary and just another "tack on charge." In many cases, your dog will spend the night at the vets without an overnight attendant even being on duty. Why would you pay to leave your dog in a cage far from home with no one to even check up on it?

9. Ask the vet for a prescription for a generic and get the prescription filled at WalMart or Costco for a few dollars. You can do this with a large number of pet medications, including antibiotics, and you can even get antibiotics without a prescription. If WalMart or Costco don't have the drug you are looking for, and you will need it for the life of the dog or cat, see if it can be ordered mail order. And yes, you can ask for a double-dose and split the pill for your dog, same as is done for humans.

10. Are you kenneling your dog at the vets while on a short vacation? Just say NO to the "guilt" charges they will suggest adding -- nail trimming, baths, "vaccine boosters," and those "extra walks" that will either not be done or will be just a "once around" a 12-foot yard. A kennel is not a spa, and a short trip out of town is no reason for you to allow yourself to be gouged. Remember: the dog will be walked so the crate does not have to be cleaned and the dog washed (for free!). 

The Grievance and Racism Party

At this point, the RepubliQons stand for nothing but racism.
▪️Not fiscal austerity (no one has ramped up more debt for less);
▪️Not personal integrity (no one has lied more, stolen more, or grifted harder);
▪️Not family values (they are the party of wife-cheating and pussy-grabbing);
▪️Not right to life (they literally race to kill prisoners in the electric chair);
▪️Not personal responsibility (refusing to wear masks, maintain distance, and not gather in rallies);
▪️Not opposition to government bailouts (they supported every corporate bailout);
▪️Not support for veterans (who have been mocked and had their benefits slashed).
Racism, and racism alone is the only plank in the RepubliQon Party platform.
▪️It’s why they oppose Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, and why they rally to support officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until dead.
▪️It’s why they invented the “voter fraud” lie and then moved to close voting locations in black and Hispanic neighborhoods while stripping mail-in voting, Sunday voting, and ballot boxes, while shortening voting hours.
▪️It’s why they oppose a higher minimum wage for those on the bottom of the economic ladder.
▪️It’s why they are obsessed with the slogan “Black Lives Matter,” even as they ignore the organized violence and planned murders by Oath Keeps, Proud Boys, Boogaloo Boys, Nazis, and white supremacist gangs masquerading as “militias”.
▪️It’s why they are hyper-focused on blue collar crime (even though it’s been declining for 40 years), even as they give the Big Wink to billion dollar thefts by hedge funds and corporations, while ignoring massive tax cheats, insider trading, and charity thefts from their own leadership.
Racism, and racism alone is now the primary organizing tool of the RepubliQon Party. It’s their core identity.
▪️It’s why people fly the Trump and confederate flags;
▪️It’s why they fly the fascist “thin blue line” flag;
▪️It’s why they foment “culture wars” targeting blacks and Hispanics, especially picking fights with minority women whose strength seems to be particularly scary.
RepubliQons are not “tired” of being called racist — they glory in it, and continue to invent new ways to operationalize resentment and hate in general, and racism in particular. To that end, they have manufactured one grievance and fake fear after another, from “reverse discrimination” to gay marriage, from coed bathrooms to transgender girls in sports, from “welfare queens” to “reefer madness”. The RepubliQons are aggrieved victims, don’t you know? The reason they are not living large on a sack of cash is not that they have acquiesced to a real-world decline in wages, job security, retirement security, and infrastructure investment, but because some “minority” somewhere is no longer living with a boot placed as firmly on its neck as it once was.

The RepubliQons want that boot placed back on that neck.
That’s their entire platform. That’s their grievance and their identity.