Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Over 2 Million Used Books

Found a massive used book store in town. A bit overwhelming, but well labeled! They’ve got everything.

Monday, March 01, 2021

The Things Shackleton Carried

The Things They Carried is a collection of stories by Tim O'Brien about a platoon of U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam war.

I like the title, as those of us who have spent a lot of time carrying things in the field know that choices get made and sometimes, even as we are cutting the edges off of maps and snapping the tags off of tea bags, other weight is added that seems entirely illogical.

And so, it was with some interest that I read about the items that the Ernest Shackleton Expedition decided to carry with them after their ship, the Endurance, got caught in the ice during the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

Their only hope was to travel west over extremely tough ice, and in bitter cold, to Paulet Island, where stores were cached. Because they were likely to find open water between themselves and their final destination, they had to drag two, one-ton lifeboats with them. Aside from the boats, food, group equipment, and 69 dogs, Shackleton informed his men that nothing but the bare necessities could be taken on the planned march. The men were only to carry the clothes on their backs, and *two pounds* of personal items. The plan was to eat the dogs along the way.

So what did the men leave behind?

▪️Money, jewelry, and gold
▪️Scientific instruments
What did they take with them?
▪️Small religious items; a few Bible pages, a cross.
▪️Medical supplies
▪️A banjo

This last item seems crazy, but goes to the point, which is that what you carry is not entirely rational when looked at from the outside.

Shackleton saw the banjo as spiritual medicine, and it seems he was right, as crew sing-alongs were vital to keeping up moral.

So how did it end?

The Endurance got locked in the ice on the 19th of January 1915, and sank on October 24 with Shackleton and his crew less than a mile away.

Initially thinking he could walk his men to Paulet Island, Shackleton abandoned that idea after several days of marching showed that his men had made less than a mile and a half of progress a day, on average. Paulet Island was 346 miles away; they would never get there.

What to do?

Shackleton and his crew camped for months on two large flat ice floes, hoping they would drift towards Paulet Island.

On March 30, 1916, Shackleton ordered his crew to shoot the remaining dogs, and they feasted on the younger ones.

A week later, the ice floe that they were camping on broke up, and the men took to the life boats and ended up on Elephant Island, about 346 miles from where the Endurance sank.

Now desperate, Shackleton and a few of his men embarked on an 800-mile journey in one of the 20-foot open whaling boats. Their goal was to reach the whaling station on South Georgia. Twenty two of Shackleton's men where left behind on Elephant Island

After more than two weeks at sea, and after surviving a hurricane, they landed on the wrong side of South Georgia and traversed the island nonstop over 36 hours, arriving at the whaling station at Stromness on the 20th of May, 1916.

Shackleton set out to rescue the rest of his crew on Elephant Island, which he managed to do with the help of the Chilean tug Yelcho and the British whaler SS Southern Sky.

On August 30, 1916 all 22 of Shakeleton's men were evacuated from Elephant Island alive.

Today, you can buy a Shackleton banjo (made in the UK) and there is even a South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands coin featuring Ernest Shakleton.

It's worth two-pounds. Of course. 

The Fight Against Toxic Lead Shot

Most pheasants sold for food in the U
K 'contain lead shot,' a function of "pay to shoot" carnage in which the rich shoot upwards of 50 pheasants in a day -- far more than they can eat.  The overage is sold as food in commercial markets -- something entirely illegal in the US. 

At "the shoots" in the UK, the "guns" are paying £30 a pheasant, yet some nobs still complain about the differential cost between lead and bitumin shells.

In 2000 BASC, the Countryside Alliance, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeeper Organization, the British Game Alliance, Scottish Land & Estates, Country Land Association, and the Scottish Association for Country Sports issued a joint statement on the future of shotgun ammunition for live quarry shooting which, reads, in part:

In consideration of wildlife, the environment and to ensure a market for the healthiest game products, at home and abroad, we wish to see an end to both lead and single-use plastics in ammunition used by those taking all live quarry with shotguns within five years. The shooting community must maintain its place at the forefront of wildlife conservation and protection. Sustainability in our practices is of utmost importance. 

Many years ago, wetland restrictions demanded a move away from lead shot and we believe it is necessary to begin a further phased transition. Recently, there have been significant developments in the quality and availability of non-lead shotgun cartridges, and plastic cases can now be recycled.

Adding urgency to the change is the fact that Waitrose, Britain’s largest retailer of game, is to ban the sale of birds shot with lead, as experts call on the government to ban its use. 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

A Fox Becomes an Eagle

From a local bird group comes this picture of a bald eagle feeding on a road kill red fox. The eagle was successful in dragging it to the side of the road and started eating the prized intestines first. His mate was on a nest several hundred feet away. Note the banded leg on the eagle.

Everything is recycledeven us. 

Irony Alert

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Oldest Wild Bird in the World Gives Birth

On February 1, the world’s oldest known wild bird, age 70, became a mother once again when her chick hatched on the Midway Atoll in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. Then the 5-year old+ “Wisdom” was first banded by Maryland’s own Chandler Robbins in 1956. 

The Essence of the Problem

To an economist, trees only have value when they are chainsawed, milled, and stacked. And right there, is the essence of the problem...

Friday, February 26, 2021

The Future Is Always Discounted

Spring is Coming

Another two from @blackpoolart (Steve Sanderson). Nice stuff!

From @blackpoolart (Steve Sanderson) comes this wonderfully evocative painting entitled: “I wonder if the ol girl misses me as much”. 

Support Your Local Antifa

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Old Men, and the Dogs We Remember

From @blackpoolart (Steve Sanderson) comes this wonderfully evocative painting entitled: “I wonder if the ol girl misses me as much”.

UK Rabbit and Red Fox Decline

The culprit: Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (types 1 and 2) and Myxomatosis.
Of the nine mammals for which trends can be produced from BBS counts, three have increased significantly in the UK as a whole since 1995: Grey Squirrel (14%), Roe Deer (86%) and Reeves' Muntjac (172%).
Two mammals have declined significantly: Rabbit (64%) and Red Fox (44%). For more information on Rabbit and Brown Hare trends, please see pages 30-31 of the 2019 BBS Report.
What’s this have to do with the US?

Simple: Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease has now appeared in the US.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Tilapia Tacos on the Menu Tonight

After 40 years of staying away from commercial fish for environmental reasons (we’re clear-cutting the oceans and decimating our global fisheries), I have decided to greenlight two species and sources:

  1. Tilapia that is farm-raised with a feed that is 100% fishmeal- and fishoil-free, sourced other than China, and;

  2. American-caught Alaska Pollock that, despite my decades of skepticism, appears to *actually* be a well-managed and sustainable fishery.

Some fisheries have no management programs. Wegmans has made a decision to not offer the following species for this reason:

  • Black Tip and Por Beagle Shark
  • All species of Marlin
  • Blue Fin Tuna (unless farm raised)
  • Orange Roughy (unless MSC-certified)
  • Wild Sturgeon
  • Domestic Atlantic Cod and Pacific Cod (bottom trawler caught)
Note:  Tilapia are a kind of warm water cichilid and there are over 100 different species.  They are voracious plant eaters (and can become invasive in some climates),  are are now raised all over the world from Africa, and the Middle East to China, Southeast Asia, Mexico, Central America, and South America.  

The Continuing Discrimination Against Falconers

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Eagle Has Landed

The Arlington Bald Eagle has laid at least one egg and is on her nest.  You can just see her head peaking out of the top of the nest.  Now we wait!

That's a spire in Georgetown in the background.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Lessons from the Silver Surfer

This comic is both shocking and illuminating. 

For those who don’t know, this is the Silver Surfer, an emissary of Galactus, the destroyer of worlds, part of the Marvel universe of comic book characters. 

Here, we see the Silver Surfer say he will not participate in the destruction of Earth and its 3 billion people. 

But the world has 7.6 billion people. 

What’s going on? 

Simple: This comic is from 1966. 

  • It took 2 million years for human population to hit 1 billion in 1830.
  • It took only 100 years to add the next billion in 1930. 

  • Earth’s population topped 3 billion in 1960, just 30 years later. 

  • Global population topped 4 billion just 15 years later, in 1975. 

  • World population topped 5 billion in 1987. 

  • Earth’s population topped 6 billion by 1999. 

  • Global population topped 7 billion in 2011, and is projected to top 8 billion in 2024. 

The world does not need to be destroyed by Galactus — human greed, sloth, ignorance, and fecundity will do that on its own.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Cloning an Endangered US Animal


Where the deer and the antelope play...

Scientists have cloned an endangered US animal for the first time, creating a Black-footed Ferret named “Elizabeth Ann” from the frozen cells of an ancestor.

The primary threat to Black-footed Ferrets? Bubonic plague carried into western American Prairie Dog colonies by a black rat that hitched a train ride from San Francisco. The plague first came to San Francisco on ships from China around 1900. 

Don't Make Me Use My Dog Training Voice

Friday, February 19, 2021

Can You Hear Me Now?

Dogs don’t talk.

A simple observation, which should not be confused with the notion that they don’t TRY to communicate.

They do — all the time. 

No Hard Dog Talk from Cowards, Please

Have you ever noticed that the preening “hard dog” guys never reach into a dark hole to pet the nice animals that are teeth-out inside the den pipe?

Thursday, February 18, 2021

How to Cary Grant

I'll carry a torch, carry a gun, carry a tune, carry on, carry over, carry forward, cash-and-carry, carry me back to Old Virginia, and even 'hari-kari' if you show me how, but I will never, ever, be Cary Grant.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021