Monday, September 27, 2021

Coffee and Provocation


The Oldest Selective Breeding of Dogs
The Hedge That Forged a Revolution in Opposition
India's old "customs hedge" was a dense and thickly planted barrier of thorns established in 1869 and expanded to 2,300 miles (3,701km) – the distance from London to Istanbul (then Constantinople). It was guarded by 12,000 British officers. It's purpose: to prevent smugglers from sneaking salt from coastal areas of India into British-controlled states, where salt was taxed heavily. Mahatma Ghandi's famous "salt march" was in opposition to this hedge, which no longer exists.

Salmon Fraud
Salmon sold in the US is beset by a wide variety of fraud from price fixing to false claims of sustainability to mislabeling of species and origin.  One example: about 50 percent of "wild caught salmon" is, in fact, farmed salmon. The fraud claim is most often made in restaurants, rather than stores.  One clue: wild salmon is seasonal, and harvest from late spring to early fall. If it's winter time, it's not wild salmon.

Rewilding the Elwha River
Ten years after the Elwha River dams were taken down, a transformation. From Orion Magazine: "Perhaps the most astonishing element of the Elwha restoration is how quickly ecosystem changes can be reversed. From sandbars stretching into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to changes in wildlife upstream, the whole watershed has responded more rapidly than expected."

A World Without Dogs: Utopia or Horror?

Would a world without dogs and cats be hell or paradise?

I suppose where you stand depends on where you sit.  H.G. Well's proposed that Utopia would have no dogs, cats, or horses, while the premise behind the movie Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is that all cats and dogs had died from a space virus, so humans turned to apes pets and then, later on, as indentured servant and slaves. 

The Penny Farthing Race Will Resume in 2022

The National Clustered Spires High Wheel Race in Frederick, Maryland has been put off (again) until 2022 due to Covid. 

The race is  a 0.4 mile route through historic downtown Frederick. There are two qualifying heats, and a final championship race.  

One of the remaining makers of high wheel bikes is in Sweden, but they ship to the US with a caveat: 

For US customers we offer 'pick up in Frederick prices'. The bikes are sent by boat from Sweden to US, taxes are paid and the bikes then taken to Frederick (Maryland), where we have a delicate cooperation with the 'National Clustered Spires High Wheel Race'.


A Fine American Whine In France

112 Gripes About the French was a 1945 handbook issued by the US military to soldiers arriving in France after Liberation. It was meant to defuse tension between American soldiers and the locals.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Advice from James Gandolfini

Bicycle Versus Horse

The horse has always been a problem in war:  expensive to acquire in numbers, difficult to transport, hard to feed, liable to foul water sources, and easily made lame, injured, or killed.  

From about 1900 to  1930 (before motor vehicles arrived in force), the bicycle was put forth as a ready alternative for moving troops quickly, at low cost, at some speed, down a wide variety of roads and paths. 

Asshole Crossing

Passed this sign in Pennsylvania this morning. Never seen one like it before.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Coffee and Provocation

Fighting MERS With Viruses
A bacteria-killing viruses has been hitched to antibiotics to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

I Want to Swim from the UK to the US
I would like to swim from the UK to the US, and back.  Easy enough to do, provided you swim between the US and UK Virgin Islands, which are less than 3 kilometer distance from each other.
This Platform Could Get You Elected in the US
EU plans to legislate for a common phone charger despite Apple grumbling about it.

Tiny "Rewildings" Matter
Adding more plants to tiny urban greenspaces can massively boost their biodiversity.

Mapping the Ghosts of Indigenous People
Native Land is an explorable, interactive map showing where indigenous peoples once lived. You can type in the name of your community to see who lived there.

Amazon Zillionaire and Tax Cheat Jeff Bezos to Donate...
The Bezos Earth Fund has promised $1 billion "to assist in the protection of susceptible nature and Indigenous peoples all over the world, with Congo Basin, the tropical Pacific Ocean, and the tropical Andes being an initial focus."

Hunters Driving US Wolves to Brink
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has stated that new legislation liberalizing gray wolf hunting and trapping in the Northern Rockies might support reclassifying the animals as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

H.G. Wells and the Bicycles of Utopia

In 1904, H. G. Wells serialized a novel alternate history entitled A Modern Utopia in “The Fortnightly Review” in which he predicted the European Union, tarmac roads, the rise of suburbs, wind farms, dishwashers, tanks, motorways, sexual liberation, and the internet with both newspapers and mail on line. 

In Chapter Two of the book he describes picturesque bicycle paths in his Utopia:
Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia, sometimes following beside the great high roads, but oftener taking their own more agreeable line amidst woods and crops and pastures; and there will be a rich variety of footpaths and minor ways. There will be many footpaths in Utopia. 
There will be pleasant ways over the scented needles of the mountain pinewoods, primrose-strewn tracks amidst the budding thickets of the lower country, paths running beside rushing streams, paths across the wide spaces of the corn land, and, above all, paths through the flowery garden spaces amidst which the houses in the towns will stand. And everywhere about the world, on road and path, by sea and land, the happy holiday Utopians will go.

Wells was an enthusiastic cyclist who saw the bicycle as a quick. cheap. and reliable way for people to move through space and across social class.

In an earlier 1896 bit of fiction, entitled The Wheels of ChanceWells wrote about a down-on-his-luck assistant dry goods salesman who who takes a second-hand bicycle on a 10-day tour through the English countryside, meeting amusing characters along his way.

But what of dogs in Wells' urban Utopia?  Well, there weren't any -- nor cats or horses.  All had been banished or eradicated in order to get rid of zoonotic disease passing from animals to humans.

William Goldman's Masterpiece Movie


On this day in 1969, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, written by William Goldman and starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Katharine Ross, premiered at the Roger Sherman Theater in New Haven, Connecticut.

Hispaniola: One Island, Two Outcomes

  • Per capita GDP of Dominican Republic:  $20,000+

  • Per capita GDP of Haiti:  under $3,000.

Why is Haiti such a political and economic basket case?  One factor is that the Washingtons, de Gaulles, Mandellas, Edisons and Sam Waltons of Haiti are driving taxis in New York City.

Burn It All to the Ground

Killing a Lot of Birds With One Stone

The Secret Sauce to Prevent Covid


Art and Experience

About 14,000 years ago, an Ice Age hunter, working by the light of an animal fat lamp, modeled these Bison in wet clay, tracing their jaw line with his finger nail. Found in Le Tuc d'Audoubert cave in southwest France.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Coffee and Provocation

Lessons Learned from Saving the Mauritius Kestrel

Lessons Learned from Saving the Amur Tiger
Chinese policies favoring environmental stewardship, including a Natural Forest Protection Project that has reduced rural populations, and the establishment of several reserves, has paid conservation dividends.

The Dark-Skinned and Blue-eyed Irish
Prehistoric Irish hunter-gatherers from 10,000 years ago, were dark-skinned and had blue eyes.

Lost Gold!

A Danish treasure hunter found a gold hoard buried by an Iron Age chief. The 1,500-year-old hoard contains nearly 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of  gold, including large, saucer-sized medallions known as bracteates.

Tips on Violating the UK's Fox Hunting Law?
Mark Hankinson, a director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, has been recorded allegedly instructing folks how to violate the Hunting Act laws by using trail hunting as a "smokescreen". Hankinson says the two short audio clips were taken out of context and were part of a longer talk.

Ice Age Hunters Did Not Migrate in Winter
Recent discoveries at a Paleolithic site in Poland show that Ice Age hunters were active on the North European Plain in the depths of winter throughout the Ice Age. The work focused on the thousands of Artic Fox bones and teeth unearthed at the site and determined that many were killed in late winter when their fur was at its longest and thickest.

80-Year Old Adventurer with Jack Russell and Horse

Camouflage Dogs

Same Line, Different Dog