Monday, October 15, 2018

Pictures From a Walk Along the Bank Below My House

I have rowed, fished, and walked this stretch of the Potomac river from Key Bridge to Chain Bridge for more than 40 years.  When I die, I hope someone put a little of my ashes in the river along here.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Big Game Canned Hunting Comes to the UK

The UK has always had canned hunts in the form of heavily stocked bird shoots, but now some places are stocking large foreign mammals to be shot for a price. The Guardian reports:

[A]nyone looking to bag an animal’s head to grace that empty spot on their wall needs only to head to deepest, darkest Bedfordshire where they can shoot rare deer, or, for the financially stretched, wallabies and sheep.

A small number of overseas firms are offering trophy-shooting packages in the county, which boasts several impressive deer parks. A ‘grade A’ red deer stag, highly prized by hunters because of its magnificent antlers, can be shot for a £9,000 trophy fee, according to an online price list dated 2018 and distributed by a Danish travel company called Limpopo & Diana Hunting Tours.

The company has been offering clients a range of shooting packages in Bedfordshire, including some at Woburn Abbey Deer Park, one of the largest conservation parks in Europe, which boasts that its 3,000 acres “are sanctuary to more than 1,200 individuals from nine species … including the critically endangered Père David’s deer, which was saved from extinction in its homeland thanks to a reintroduction from Woburn in 1985”.

What's odd (but not illegal or immoral) is that Woburn Abbey Deer Park is supposedly “not affiliated” with the shooting travel company offering the canned hunt package. Woburn Abbey Deer Park did not address specific questions asked by the Observer newspaper, but said in a statement that: “One of the most important management aspects of the Deer Park is the annual cull. The cull is overseen by trained professionals to ensure a healthy and sustainable population of deer within the park. The cull is based on continued census counts and aims to improve age dynamics and diversity maintaining the population density at a level suitable to ensure the continued health and welfare of all the deer within the park. The culled animals are then sold as venison to local and national markets where it enters the food chain as a healthy and sustainable food product.”

Woburn Abbey Deer Park is owned by Bedford Estates which is controlled by the Duke of Bedford, and it specifically breeds red deer to create “spectacular” antlers, with the semen from the best deer sold to other deer farms and canned hunt establishments around the world.

If £7,000 to bag a deer feels a bit steep, Limpopo & Diana Hunting Tours offers a different shooting package for a different deer park in Bedfordshire where you can shoot wallaby for £220, or a Soay ram sheep for £600 or a ewe for £150.

JRTCA Go to Ground

I was at the JRTCA Nationals trial for a few hours yesterday.

Back in the day, when I did Go To Ground at the AKC and AWTA trials, rats didn’t have welded safety cages that look like they could survive Shark Week. We made cages out of folded fox wire and hog wire ring clips. Occasionally a dog would grab a cage and a rat would escape. Somewhere out there is a picture of me holding a massive Border Terrier by his tail with a tailed rat in the other; me doing the iron cross where the rat steward was particularly incompetent. No animals were harmed in the making of this movie.

Things run a bit smoother today, as the equipment is better and the people tend to have actually done their job a few times before.
Electronic timers have replaced wrist watches at Go To Ground.

Forced Retrieve

Dog Creates Adam

In All Fairness, Our Schools Are Weak

Racism Is Not Complicated

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Coffee and Provocation

E.D. Morel Exposed the State Sponsored Killing of 10 Million People 
It's the holocaust you have never heard of, and E.D. Morel is the man that exposed it that never gets mentioned.  The killing was of 10 million Congolese by the King Leopold and the people of Belgium.  E.D. Morel was the shipping clerk that noted, in 1891, that  that the ships leaving Belgium for the Congo carried only guns, chains, ordnance and explosives, but no commercial goods, while ships arriving from the colony came back full of raw rubber and ivory. Morel correctly concluded that Belgian King Leopold II and his countrymen were engaged in a massive system of slavery, exploitation, terror, and murder for profit.

Amazon Sells Merkins
Merkins. Yes merkins. If you don't know what that is, I'll wait while you look it up. But wait; that’s not even the weird part. Check out the color options.

She's Totally Nuts
Maybe the woman was the emotional support animal for the squirrel on the airplane?  Didn't think of that did you?

Margarine Made From Whales?
Yep, this was a thing once, an artifact of the rise in petroleum leading to a whale oil surplus that did not last long.

Smells Like Dead Rabbits
Rabbits can differentiate between the poop of predators that have eaten rabbits and those that haven't.

Will Oat Milk Replace Almond Milk
Cow milk has been replaced by almond milk in this house -- fewer caloried and tastes great and is not more expensive.  Now almond milk (which uses a lot of California water) may soon be replaced by Oat Milk (Oatly),  Oats use less water, are a great rotational cover crop, and can be grown all over the US and the world.

Oysters are Restoring New York's Polluted Harbor
New York harbor used to have some 220,000 acres of oyster reefs filtering water. Killed off by overharvest and pollution they are almost all gone, but bringing them back is critical to restoring the harbor to clean water.

Will Cow-Milking Robots Keeping Small Farms in Business?
The problem with farms is labor, and the solution may be robots. Dairy farms are leading the way.

Evolution in Hyper Drive
In Mozambique, massive amounts of elephant poaching for ivory has resulted in herds of tuskless elephants as "unnatural selection" leaves the tusk-free to breed.

Forests Back Under Old Management
When John Muir came to Northern California he found an Eden than reminded him of the keeper estates that once existed in Scotland -- a sparse forest of giant trees with low cover and berry bushes below. What he did not understand, was that the landscape was not natural, but the byproduct of thousands of years of prescribed burns by native people who practiced a kind of agroforestry that encouraged the proliferation of huckleberries, acorns, salmon and elk, and medicinal herbs like wormwood, as well as willow, bear grass, and hazel for basket making. Now some native tribes are taking over the brush-choked forests left from 100 years of fire suppression in order to return to ancient, and successful, forest management practices.

Cow Plays Fetch

If she rewarded the cow with carrots or sugar cubes, it might do agility!

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Kennel Club Disease Is Not New

Over at The Field magazine, they ask: What do you think is more important; breed purity or healthy pups?

It's an interesting question first asked of, and answered by the Kennel Club in 1897 when that organization was still housed in the offices of The Field magazine.

Back then, when presented with inbred Scottish Deerhounds falling sick and dying prematurely, the Kennel Club rejected outcrossing for health in favor of sickness and breed purity.

Today's answer remains largely the same. Writing about Dalmations, David Tomlinson notes that:

Though the spotted coat might please the human eye, it comes with a number of genetic disadvantages, one of which is congenital deafness. A significant number of puppies are born deaf or partially deaf, a problem common to many albino or piebald animals. According to the Kennel Club, “not enough is known about congenital deafness to be able to offer any firm breeding advice. However, scientists at the Animal Health Trust have suggested that it may be possible to reduce the risk by only breeding from bilaterally normal hearing parents.” Owners are encouraged to have their dogs BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested.

Sadly, deafness is not the Dalmatian’s only genetic problem. Equally serious is hyperuricosuria, a condition in which the dog’s liver has difficulty in breaking down uric acid, leading to kidney and bladder stones. This is an inherited condition and one that all pure-bred Dalmatians can suffer from, though it particularly affects older males. In a ground-breaking attempt to solve the problem, the Dalmatian-Pointer Backcross Project was started in 1973 by Dr Robert Schaible, a medical geneticist then at the University of Indiana. He used a champion English pointer sire on a pure-bred Falmatian bitch in a bid to eliminate the faulty gene. Just one of the offspring of the original litter was bred to another Dalmatian.

Today, 18 or 19 generations on, the LUA (low uric acid) dogs descended from the pointer are visually indistinguishable from a pure Dalmatian and the high uric acid gene has been eliminated (though not other faults, such as congenital deafness, but selective breeding can largely eliminate this). However, one major problem soon emerged: show enthusiasts in the USA refused to accept dogs from the Backcross Project.

There was equal resistance on this side of the Atlantic. When the Kennel Club allowed Dalmatian enthusiast Julie Evans to exhibit a backcross bitch called Fiona at Crufts in 2011, the two British Dalmatian clubs condemned the Club’s decision, calling it arrogant and unacceptable. Breed purity, it seems, is more important to many people than the health of their dogs. Despite this, Evans’s Tyrodal kennel remains dedicated to breeding what she calls “the total dog… show quality, healthy genetics and with sound temperament”.

Today, there are LUA Dalmatians in the UK and Europe, all descendants of the Backcross Project, though sadly the majority of Dalmatian breeders still put breed purity before health. The project remains a classic example of how carefully considered outcrossing can be hugely beneficial to a breed. However, it is also a sad reminder of the resistance pedigree-dog enthusiasts display to any animal they consider to be a mongrel. Surely sound health should be every breeder’s number-one priority?

So there is the Kennel Club answer as it has always been: failed 19th Century eugenics theories, and the sniffing pretensions that support them, matter more than healthy dogs that are free from pain, confusion, and misery.
** The Kennel Club's Dalmatian Test
** The Defective Dalmatians at Crufts
** The Dalmatian Club Embraces Purity and Pain
** The Dalmatian Club Hopes You Won't Read This
** LUA Dalmatians Join AKC!

Guru Seeks Disciples

Last weekend, I was in a mid-sized town when I passed someone at a card table set up on the sidewalk. As I passed by, I noticed she was selling “life coach” services. I wonder how that whole idea played out in her head. How does an unemployed person decide to hang out a shingle as a “life coach”?

Kennel Club Leadership Under Fire

The Daily Mai
l reports
that the top management at the Kennel Club is under fire:

The under-fire chairman of the Kennel Club has quit after losing a vote of no-confidence in a private board meeting, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Simon Luxmoore stood down along with committee chairmen Mark Cocozza and Jeff Horswell after allegations of mismanagement and bullying, as we reported last week.

The core charges are mismanagement and bullying and yet the trio will remain on the board of the Kennel Club in a move that one critic, Geoffrey Davies, has branded a 'fiasco'.

Kennel Club members had called a vote of no confidence, alleging that the three top officials had lowered the club’s reputation, victimized protesters, and “failed to provide sound leadership”.

The brouhaha was kicked up when Mr. Horswell openly laughed and ridiculed the placing of dogs at the Birmingham Championship show and Mr. Luxmoore threatened a journalist trying to tape his comments at the Welsh Kennel Club dinner.

A letter signed by 250 protesters, a sixth of the Kennel Club's membership, said: “We are unanimous in the belief that our historic Kennel Club is being wrested from us and is not in the safe hands we need to guide us forward into the future."

In response, club executives called in Farrer & Co, solicitors to the Queen, to fight the challenge. They also sent a “muzzling” letter to the club’s 1,497 members, warning that organisational rules forbid talking to the media, on pain of expulsion.

Behind it all, of course, is money and ego. The Times reports:

At the heart of the dispute lies a battle for the future of an organisation that was set up to run dog shows and oversee stud books but has morphed into a highly successful business. The club has a turnover of £21m a year, 240 staff and a lucrative monopoly over the registration of pedigree dogs and events such as Crufts.

Five years ago, its board of directors transformed it from a club into a private company. It then sold the building it had occupied for 50 years, in Mayfair, central London, to developers in exchange for a new office block nearby and £12m cash. Some was used to buy a £3.4m Northumberland grouse moor to hold field trials for gun dogs and bloodhounds. Last year came plans to build a £2.4m “customer relations” computer system to target the UK’s 10m dog lovers.

The protesters say the commercialisation has gone too far and the money is being spent too fast, with losses last year of £677,000. “The idea was to use these databases to make lots of money through marketing to members and owners, but the feeling is that we are becoming a business and not a club,” said one manager.

The Kennel Club brings in a lot of money, but does it actually do anything positive for dogs?

The short answer is no. 

No working breeds was ever created or improved by the Kennel Club, but every working breed has been compromised or ruined there under the twin burdens of bizarre show ring standards and exaggeration, and the requirement that dogs be inbred within a closed registry that gives zero points for health, zero points for work, and zero points for temperament.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Blue Heron at Wide Water, C&O Canal

Trumple Down Economics

Brooklyn understands Trickle Down Economics. From The Daily Mail:

A series of small statues depicting President Donald Trump with a sign reading 'pee on me' have appeared across Brooklyn.

Advertising professional Phil Gable placed the statues, which carry a plug for his branded content studio, around Park Slope over the weekend.

'It was largely just a personal expression of my own disdain for Donald Trump, both as a President and a human being,' Gable told Gothamist.

The statues are mounted on patches of grass and depict a youthful-looking Trump from the 1980s or 90s.

The Lesson of Old Yeller

A Vegan Critique of "Sausage Party"

From Cole, M. and Stewart, K. , 2018. Speciesism Party: a Vegan Critique of Sausage Party. ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. ISSN 1076-0962:

This paper provides a critical vegan reading of the comedy animation film Sausage Party (2016), directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan and starring Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig. Such a reading is situated within an emerging vegan studies framework (Wright 2015) that is sensitive to the reproduction of unequal power relations between humans and other species, but also how those power inequalities intersect with intra-human power relations along the lines of gender, sexuality, "race", age, class, different experiences of embodiment and so on. Sociologist Erika Cudworth argues that "[w]e need as full an analysis of social intersectionality as we are capable of, "so that the critical focus remains on "relational systems of power" (Cudworth 2015, 101). Cudworth (2011) also introduced the concept of anthroparchy, to signify the human domination of nature, with "nature" including but not limited to other animals. In that context, Sausage Party perpetuates anthroparchy, in so far as it normalizes the consumption of "animal products" for the audience. Those consumption practices are dependent on systems of production that are implicated in major environmental crises (Twine 2010), including mass extinctions, climate change, deforestation, water pollution and water scarcity, which might be summed up by Michael Fox's (2000) term "ecocide". Cudworth (2014) argues that a relational system of power comprises both ideas and beliefs as well as contextually embedded social practices. In this paper, we argue that Sausage Party provides an exemplary case study in the cultural reproduction of such an intersected relational system of power. It celebrates ecocidal, oppressive consumption practices at the same time as it reproduces ideas and beliefs, or social norms, of unequal relations between species, between genders, between the differently abled, and so on. This may be made clearer by situating the critique of Sausage Party in the context of recent research that may be broadly construed as operating within a vegan studies framework.

Like Locusts on the Land

Fleas Were Old When Adam Was Young

Flea in amber.

Paws Like Shovels

Tern Folding Bike and Passengers

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

A Real Devil's Triangle

The racists Roger Stone, Ann Coulter, and Milo Yiannopoulos.  And are those legs?  

Coffee and Provocation

Therapy Dog or Disease Vector?
It turns out that therapy dogs can spread superbugs to kids. Kids with cancer, and compromised immunity systems are most at risk.

Beaver Dams Can Last Centuries
A 150-year old map of beaver dams and ponds near Ishpeming, Michigan shows many beaver dams and ponds still exist.

When This Rome Fell, It Was Not a Tragedy
The historian Procopius tell us that when Emperor Honorius was told about the fall of Rome, he cried out thinking his pet chicken had died, since it was named after the city. Once he learned it was only the city that had fallen, Honorius breathed a sigh of relief.

A Beautiful Monkey
Neanderthals shared their viruses with Homo sapiens, but also passed on their genes for coping with their pathogens. In short, modern humans are not only a hybrid animal, we are also a hybrid immune system.

Garbage In, Garbage Out
In its first eruption in nine decades, Ear Spring geyser in Yellowstone National Park shot out a massive amount of trash tossed in by decades of tourists.

No More Plagues?
From polio to tuberculosis, infectious diseases are no longer the leading cause of death in any region. Somehow, we are still supposed to still feel bad about this news.

It's Raining Kangaroos
Thanks to a few years of rain, there are now twice as many kangaroos in Australia as people (50 million to 25 million). Thee result:  Australians are being encouraged to eat more kangaroo as a way of controlling their numbers, but demand remains low.

Peace Dividend
Now that peace has broken out in Columbia, FARC guerillas are showing scientists new species in the jungle.

Pride Cometh Before the Fall
The quest for selfies killed at least 259 people between 2011 and 2017.

The Paleontology of Charles Dickens
Charles Dicken's Bleak House was the first English novel to mention a dinosaur. The first paragraph of the first chapter starts: "Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest."

The Best Nobel Prize
After winning the Nobel Prize in 1922, the Carlsberg brewery gave physicist Niels Bohr a free house next to the brewery with a tapline straight into the house so Bohr could have free beer for the rest of his life.

Young People are the Jeff Flake of Politics

Young people are the Jeff Flake of politics; if you are counting on them, you’ve already lost.


Pizza Hut at the Pyramids

Sad choices in a crowded world.

Monday, October 08, 2018

If Trees Gave Us Free Wi-Fi

Columbus Made Much of the Modern World

Fuck You and Your Stupid Civility

Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig writes on Twitter (yes, that's a thing now):

There will be renewed calls for civility. Ignore them. They ask for civility as a way for you to grant them complicity in what they do.

Civility is for normalcy. When things are normal and working as intended, civility is part of maintaining balance. But when that balance is gone, civility does not help return it but rather, destabilize it further. Because your civility gives them cover for evil.

Note: this isn’t the same as calling for violence. But it is suggesting that you should not be shamed for using vigorous, vulgar language. Or for standing up in disobedience. Or for demanding acknowledgement and action in whatever way you must.

Fuck Trump. But he’s just the ugly fake-gold mask they’ve put on this thing. Fuck all the GOP, fuck that blubbering, bristling frat boy judge, fuck McConnell, Ryan, Grassley, Collins, every last one of them. Fuck them for how they’ve shamed victims and helped dismantle democracy.

They will tell you to smile, that we need to get back to business, that we gotta heal the rift and blah blah blah — but that’s the desire of a savvy bully, who wants you to stop crying after he hit you, who wants you not to fight back. But you can cry. And you can fight back.

They can eat shit. All of them. They can eat a boot covered in shit.

Winter is coming, you callous fucknecks, you prolapsed assholes, you grotesque monsters, you racists and rapists and wretched abusers, you vengeful petty horrors.

Sidenote: some will tell you to be civil because our rage and scorn will fuel the other side, but fuck that double standard in both its ears.

“Well, if you hadn’t said those SASSY WORDS and demonstrated ANGER at our whittled-down democracy, I for a second might’ve been convinced not to eat this baby. But fie! Fie on you! Your incivility MADE me eat this baby!”

Spoiler warning: they were always gonna eat that baby.

Right. In short, NONE OF US should "smile more".

And about violence? Let's not be so quick to count that out. Violence has changed a lot of things, and not always for ill.  

Some things need killing.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

A Feast for All

The Era of Human Zoos

Detail from Wilhelm Hagenbeck circus poster found here.

Carl Hagenbeck was a German wild animal dealer who supplied European zoos and international circus acts.  He more-or-less created the modern zoo with animal enclosures that used moats. and which featured animals in more natural habitats.

Hagenbeck was not content
to just collect interesting animals for exhibit. He was also fascinated by native people, and in 1876, he sent a collaborator to Sudan to bring back both wild animals and a few Nubian humans.

The Nubians were exhibited in a zoo enclosure, same as if they were a wild animal, and their presentation was very successful in Europe.  Hagenbeck's Nubians toured Paris, London, and Berlin, with enthusiastic crowds coming out to see people from the Dark Continent. 

Hagenbeck branched out.  A few years later he brought a group of eight Labrador Inuit to Europe and toured with them through Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Frankfurt, and Paris before all eight died of smallpox. In 1889 Hagenbeck captured – with the permission of the Chilean government – 11 members of the Selk’Nam tribe, who were enclosed behind bars and exhibited across Europe.

A "Congo Village" in a zoo in Norway in 1914.

"Human zoos" continued in Europe until the late 1950s, with African children exhibited at a human zoo in Brussels, Belgium as late as 1958.

The phenomenon was not purely European. The Cincinnati Zoo kept 100 Native Americans in a village setting for approximately three months, and a Congolese pygmy by the name of Ota Benga was displayed at the Bronx Zoo in New York City in 1906, forced to carry around orangutans and other apes while he was exhibited alongside them.

On Coney Island in 1905, at the Luna Park Amusement park, a group of Filipino tribes people were made to dance wearing only a g-string, and were encouraged to kill dogs, chop them up, and throw them into stew pots.

Coney Island, NY display of Filipino tribesmen.

Many of the captured and displayed native people died of disease, but the final end for Ota Benga stands out for its great sadness:

[I]n January 1910, Gordon arranged for Benga's relocation to Lynchburg, Virginia, where he lived with the McCray family. So that Benga could more easily be part of local society, Gordon arranged for the African's teeth to be capped and bought him American-style clothes. Tutored by Lynchburg poet Anne Spencer,[29] Benga could improve his English, and he began to attend elementary school at the Baptist Seminary in Lynchburg.

Once he felt his English had improved sufficiently, Benga discontinued his formal education. He began working at a Lynchburg tobacco factory. He proved a valuable employee because he could climb up the poles to get the tobacco leaves without having to use a ladder. His fellow workers called him "Bingo". He often told his life story in exchange for sandwiches and root beer. He began to plan a return to Africa.

In 1914 when World War I broke out, a return to the Congo became impossible as passenger ship traffic ended. Benga became depressed as his hopes for a return to his homeland faded.  On March 20, 1916, at the age of 32, he built a ceremonial fire, chipped off the caps on his teeth, and shot himself in the heart with a stolen pistol.

He was buried in an unmarked grave in the black section of the Old City Cemetery, near his benefactor, Gregory Hayes.

One of the zoo keepers capturing and displaying native people was the Nazi zoo keeper Lutz Heck, who was instrumental in the creation of the Jadgterrier. Lutz Heck is show below (left. with beard) with an India family and an elephant he brought to Berlin for display in 1931.