Saturday, November 27, 2021

Confused Immigrants on a Wire

Birds on a wire. Starlings, of course.

When out with the dogs in winter, we often see large flocks of starlings, often with cowbirds and blackbirds mixed in, winging down to settle on cut-over corn fields and soy rakes, huddled on the lee side of shed roofs, and even settling on roads in order to make use of the warmth radiating up from the black tarmac.

Believe it or not, the more than 200 million European Starlings found in North America today are direct descendents of approximately 100 birds introduced into New York City's Central Park sometime in the early 1890s.

Sturnus vulgaris owes its presence in this hemisphere to an odd little New York City group called the "American Acclimatization Society" which was dedicated to introducing all of the birds mentioned in William Shakespeare's works into Central Park. Previous attempts to introduce Starlings in the Northeast, Midwest and on the West Coast had failed, but the 1890 release was spectacularly successful, as today's massive winter flocks attest.

You rarely see massive flocks of starlings in the Spring and Summer. During these times of year Starlings are far more solitary, seeking out hollow trees, ledges and building eaves in which to construct their nests.

As a general rule, Starlings avoid woodlands, deserts and open grassland, preferring man-altered environments such as cities, suburbs and grassy freeway medians where they can forage for bugs, seeds, berries, and insects.

In Europe the Starling is a migratory bird that forms large winter flocks bound for North Africa. When transported to the U.S., however, the Starling seems to have lost its bearings. Where, exactly, is is supposed to be migrating to? It does not know.

On the East Coast of the U.S., Starlings form winter flocks up to a hundred-thousand birds strong, but these flocks often travel just 50 to 200 miles before settling back down again. No climate improvement is achieved over such a short distance, but a vague genetic itch has been scratched, and the birds seem to be no worse the wear for overwintering close to home.

Starlings in the Midwest migrate much farther south than those on the Eastf Coast, probably because some individuals were blown farther south during winter storms and learned a migration routes back north by following blackbirds up from Louisiana and Mississippi in the Spring.

Land Theft in the US Was Overt

"Indian Land for Sale," US Department of the Interior, 1911. 

The bottom of this poster-ad was signed by Walter L. Fisher, Secretary of the Interior and Robert G. Valentine, Commissioner of Indian Affairs. The current Secretary of the Interior is Deb Haaland, an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe. The current Director of Indian Affairs is Darryl LaCounte, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

By the way, land in Kansas is being sold here for the constant dollar (CPI adjusted) equivalent of $1,000 an acre. Land in Elk County, Kansas is now about $2,000 an acre when bought in 100 acres+ lots. 

A #1492Project is needed analogous to the 1619 Project.

Canada was also eager to depopulate the natives and repopulate with white, European immigrants. See below.

Three 5-Gallon Pails

48 pounds of dog food from Tractor Supply fits nicely in three 5-gallon pails (with lids) in the bike shed where they are guarded by vicious working terriers who themselves are proud descendants of socialist wolves. 

Why Purina? See >> here.

Litigation Against Disinformation

Pfizer and Moderna need to sue Fox News, NewsMax, OANN, and politicians who say their vaccines don’t work.

Omnicron Is An Anagram for Moronic

If the US were 100 people:

- 35 are eligible but not fully vaccinated
- 48 are fully vaccinated but not boosted
- 11 are boosted
- 6 are under the age of 5 (ineligible for vaccination)

Failure to fully vaccinate, with recent boosters, will kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in the next year. 

Live Life Off-leash.

The Cure For What Ails Us

You want a cure for what ails us?  Simple: more bicycles, more trees, more reading, more helping others, more walking, less TV, more vegetables, less alcohol.

Or… fewer cars, fewer parking lots, less TV, less self-centeredness, less sitting, less processed foods, less anesthesia, more awareness.

Farm Price Supports and FDR

ON OCTOBER 29, 1929, the stock market crashed; the beginning of the Great Depression.

How did we get out of it? We elected a Democrat.

When FDR ran for president, he seemed an unlikely savior: a rich dilettante with a funny accent, a withered body, and cigarettes he smoked from a holder.

But Roosevelt had a message and a cause: the "forgotten man" — the broken farmer in the West, the apple vendor hawking his wares for a nickel in in Manhattan, the Chicago and St. Louis factory worker now hitting the rails looking for work.

Roosevelt knew what had broken America: unfettered greed and a herd mentality that made prices too low for farmers to make a living.

Unregulated banking had left depositors banging on doors to empty buildings. Flashy brochures had sold both deserts and swamps as perfect locations for homes and the result was that both lives and land had been ruined in the process. It was time for a cool head, and a little rational government organization and intervention. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said he was the man for that job.

In November of 1932, FDR carried all but six states, and those he failed to carry were mostly small New England states that were not too hard hit by the Depression.

When FDR came through the door to the Oval Office, he faced a mountain of problems: an economy in ruins, Mother Nature in full riot, and a government that seemed to be without rudder or clue. Herbert Hoover, the Republican President who had fiddled while the Great Plains blew away, the stock market collapsed, jobs withered on the vine, banks collapsed, and home equity disappeared said, on his last day in office, "We have done all that we can do. There is nothing more to be done."

But of course, America was not defeated. All the U.S. needed was a little common sense and a little clear-eyed governing. Into the fray rolled a decisive Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a man with bold ideas, clear plans, and a mandate to put them in motion.

First up was the Emergency Banking Bill which was signed into law just eight hours after it was introduced. By the end of Roosevelt's first week in office, bank deposits exceeded withdrawals. A few months later, this bill was further strengthened by adding provisions that insured individual deposits up to ten thousand dollars.

Next up was saving the farm. To do that, farming had to be profitable again. As Roosevelt never tired of pointing out, America knew how to grow food. In fact, American farmers were so damn good at it, that while farmers were producing record crops, they also saw an 80% decline in income due to over-production. What was needed was a stabilizing force on farm prices said Roosevelt. Just as a horse pulling a plow needed a bridle, so too did the Heavy Horse of capitalism. With a little restrain and a little guidance, that which could easily kill a farmer could be harnessed and made to serve him.

In the second year of FDR's first term, he sent government-sanctioned death squads to the Great Plains with a plan to buy and kill as many farm animals as possible.

The simple fact of the matter was that stock eradication was the only way forward for both farmer and animal. Most of the cows and horses on the Great Plains could not be sold as they were now in such poor condition that no one on earth would buy then.

Overproduction of wheat, as well as too many cows and horses, had left the ground eroded and broken. The wretched-looking cattle that still dotted the prairie were little more than bags of skin and bones outlined in ribs. The horses were scabby with sores, their teeth shattered and their lips bleeding from gnawing on fence posts. Cattle and horses alike had lungs that were packed with dust.

A bullet to the brain was not animal cruelty; it was blessed relief for animals that had no other hope.

Over the next year the U.S. Government bought eight million cattle and many horses in an effort to bring up stock prices so that farmers could feed their families.

The cattle the Government did buy up were often worthless. Nearly one in three were shot and tipped into a ditch to rot, their bodies too thin for even the starving locals to bone out for a single steak.

Land that had rippled with grass and run riot with millions of wild bison just 50 year earlier, was now broken and blowing away, much of it devoid of all vegetation and unable to support even a single domestic cow.

Along with payments to reduce farm stock, the Roosevelt Administration began making payments to get people to move out of really hard-hit areas.

Just as the Government and the railroads had once subsidized immigration to the U.S. and colonization of the Great Plains, they now paid for people to move away from Texas panhandle, eastern Colorado, Oklahoma and western Kansas. This was not land for potato farmers and get-rich-quick men. There was an over-shoot of people said the Government, and the way back to economic and land health was to reduce the number of humans as well as the number of cattle.

All of this was a massive help to turning things around, but the single greatest long-term force in ending the Dust Bowl and reshaping American agriculture came in the person of Hugh Bennett, someone most Americans have never heard of.

Hugh Bennett was an American original -- a big, friendly man who could shoe a horse, paint a barn, and fix a tractor, even as he spoke clearly and simply about his new theory to turn the land around.

What was wrong, said Bennett, was what we had done to the land, especially in the Plains. The land had been fine for 2 million years as a cover of native grass for migrating buffalo, but we had got it ruined it in less than 50 by turning the grass "wrong side up" and putting too many domestic cattle out to graze in permanent pasture.

Bennett thought it might be possible to turn things around, but it was going to be tough to pull it out of dive when things were going down so fast, and we were already so close to the ditch.
Bennett's radical plan was for the government to buy a million acres of land in the worst-hit sections of the of prairie states so that the land could be "haired over" with tough grass seeds imported from Africa. A new grassland had to be made (or restored), and it had to be done at a scale that had never been done before. It might be too late, of course, but the only way forward was to try, and once it was accomplished, to let the land rest for perhaps decades... or even longer.

In places where the land was a little less ruined, Hugh Bennett thought better farm practices might be enough to turn things around: contour plowing, winter ground cover, cover strips to hold the soil in place.

Bennett found a friend and believer in FDR. Roosevelt felt if the Plains could be saved, then Hugh Bennett was the man to do it.

On April 14, 1935, the biggest dust storm in U.S. history hit the prairie states, pushing a tower of dirt more than two miles into the air, and moving 300,000 tons of topsoil towards the east coast.

This was "Black Sunday" -- the day the wind moved more dirt in a single afternoon than was dug by an army of machines toiling for over seven years to build the Panama Canal.

On April 19, 1935, five days after Black Sunday, Hugh Bennett was in Room 333 of the Russell Senate Office Building (then simply called the Senate Office Building) pushing for land conservation.

As Timothy Egan notes in The Worst Hard Time:

He began with the charts, the maps, the stories of what soil conservation could do, and a report on Black Sunday. The senators listened, expressions of boredom on the faces of some. An aide whispered into Big Hugh's ear. ‘It's coming.’

Bennett told how he learned about terracing at an early age, about how the old ground on his daddy's place in North Carolina was held in place by a simple method that most country farmers learned when they were young. And did he mention — yes, again — that an inch of topsoil can blow away in an hour, but it takes a thousand years to restore it? Think about that equation. A senator who had been gazing out the window interrupted Bennett. ‘It's getting dark outside.’

The senators went to the window. Early afternoon in mid-April, and it was getting dark. The sun over the Senate Office Building vanished. The air took on a copper hue as light filtered through the flurry of dust. For the second time in two years, soil from the southern plains fell on the capital. This time it seemed to take its cue from Hugh Bennett. The weather bureau said it had originated in No Man's Land. ‘This, gentlemen, is what I'm talking about,’ said Bennett. ‘There goes Oklahoma.’ Within a day, Bennett had his money and a permanent agency to restore and sustain the health of the soil. When Congress passed the Soil Conservation Act, it marked the first time any nation had created such a unit.

To force prices up enough for farmers to make a living, Roosevelt had the government buy surplus corn, beans, and flour, and distribute it to the needy.

Over six million pigs were slaughtered, and the meat given to relief organizations.

Crops were plowed into the ground — like slitting your wrist, to some farmers. In the South, when horses were first directed to the fields to rip out cotton, they balked. Next year, the government would ask cattlemen and wheat growers to reduce supply in return for cash. Hoover had been leery of meddling with the mechanics of the free market. Under Roosevelt, the government was the market. The Agricultural Adjustment Act created the framework, and the Civilian Conservation Corps drummed up the foot soldiers. They would try to stitch the land back together. Build dams, bridges. Restore forests. Keep water from running away. Build trails in the mountains, roads on the prairie, lakes and ponds.

In May, Roosevelt signed a bill giving two hundred million dollars to help farmers facing foreclosure. Now, before some nester's land could be taken to satisfy a bank loan, there was a place of last resort.

That summer, FDR launched the Second Hundred Days, signing into law the Social Security Act so that the crushing cycle of old age poverty that had bedeviled mankind since the beginning, might end.

Next up was the Works Progress Administration to fund the building of roads, schools, bridges and parks, and the National Labor Relations Act, which enshrined union rights in the workplace even as it outlawed wildcat strikes that could cripple the economy.

And what was the result?

Things turned around. Farm economies began to improve with incomes 50 percent higher, and crop prices up 66 percent since Herbert Hoover's last day in office.

Money flowed back into the banks. People slowly returned to work.

Roosevelt took credit, and the American people gave him credit, but the Supreme Court disagreed, stepping in to say that government control of the American farm economy was unconstitutional. The government could not be the market.

Sound familiar?

Of course, today we do have price supports and market-making for all kinds of agricultural products.

The Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers every year to leave over 30 million acres fallow -- land that supports fox, deer, quail, pheasant, sage grouse, and turkey, as well as scores of millions of song birds.

Social Security is the primary source of income for most Americans in retirement. If you are lucky enough to have gone to college, it's probably because your parents had a little money set aside now that they no longer had to provide economic sustenance to their parents (your grandparents) in old age.

The over one million acres of Dust Bowl land that the government bought from broken farmers in 1935 for $2.75 an acre, is now almost four million acres located in 20 publicly-owned National Grassland parks administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

And in the end, even the Republicans admitted it was all due to the good sense and steady hand of FDR.

When Kansas Governor Alf Landon, who had run against Roosevelt in 1936 saying he had no idea how to fix the Great Plains, was asked about the New Deal and its lasting effect on the country, he said it "saved our society."

And, of course he was right and the American people knew it. Alf Landon lost every state in 1936 except Maine and Vermont, winning the Electoral College by the largest margin ever, 523 to 8.


Thursday, November 25, 2021

The Range of the Six Species of Wild Turkey

Coffee and Provocation

Thanks and Giving
Talk is cheap and action is important. This Thanksgiving, write a check to a charity doing good work.  Nicholas Kristof spends a lot of time looking into small good ones that need assistance, and has some recommendations.

Suicide Rates by Profession
The suicide rate for all occupations is 24.7 per 100,000 for ALL occupations, and is lower in healthcare in general (of which veterinary care is specifically included) and was so low in veterinary care that it could not be independently calculated. What professions have a higher-than-average rate of suicide? Engineering Technicians had a suicide rate of 34.7, Baliffs and Correction Officers a rate of 36, Chefs and head cooks 47.8, Supervisors of Housekeepers and Janitors a rate of 37.7, Sales Workers a rate 34.7, and Construction and Extraction Workers a rate of 49.4. Who seems to have the highest suicide rate? Fishing and Hunting Workers with a rate of 119.9 -- a phenomenon that may be due to isolation, low pay, alcohol (a depressant), and ready access to guns.

Rip, Rape and Rob
The Archdiocese of New Orleans overcharged FEMA $46 million for post-Katrina building repairs, but because the archdioceses is bankrupt from sex abuse lawsuits, DOJ says they only need to pay back $1 million back to the government (i.e. us taxpayers).

1,000 Miles to Die from a Bumper
An Oregon-born gray wolf known for its 1,000 mile long trek to California was killed by vehicle impact.  It was just 2 years old.  Ironically, research has show that the presence of wolves in an area sharply reduces deer-vehicle impacts, which cost US drivers billions of dollars a year and hundreds of human lives.

No More Boiling Alive in the UK
Lobsters, octopus and crabs are now classified as sentient beings in the UK, and a new report says they should be stunned or killed manually rather than simply boiled alive. Our crack team of researchers notes that in 1531, boiling a human alive was the prescribed punishment for for murder committed by poisoning. That law was repealed in 1547.

Losing the War on Drugs
Flint, Michigan’s old police academy has been sold off to become a marijuana grow facility.  Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren has told President Biden it's time to make good on his campaign promise to free non-violent cannabis convicts.

Genetics to Fight Rainbow Trout Disease
Whirling disease, an imported aquatic disease first discovered in Germany in 1893, has devastated Rainbow Trout populations in Colorado and other western states, but genetic research shows a way forward.

Stop Subsidizing Over-fishing
A group of scientists spanning 46 countries and 6 continents is urging the World Trade Organization to force government to stop paying incentivizes that lead to overcapacity and overfishing. Subsidies include those to keep the cost of fuel and vessel construction low, that keep market prices for fish artificially high, and which subsidize distant-water fishing fleets.

Let Us Give Thanks for Wild Turkey and Uncle Sam

Wild Turkey Feathers. This is a repost from Nov. 2008

Let us give thanks to the Wild Turkey, America's largest ground-nesting bird.

Back when my grandfather was born, the Wild Turkey was teetering on the edge of extinction. Today we have more Wild Turkeys in America's woods than existed in pre-Columbian times.

How is that possible?

Good question. But before we get there, let's dwell a little bit longer on the miracle.

You see, it generally requires a lot of forest -- 2,000 acres or more -- to maintain the kind of food crop and cover that Wild Turkey need to thrive.

The reason for this is that in the dead of winter, Wild Turkey depend on acorns and other nuts and seed for survival. This food is only produced in abundance by mature hardwood trees -- oak, beech, dogwood, cherry and gum.

So what's the big deal? We have a lot of forest in America.

True enough now, but not as true a century ago in the Eastern U.S. and much of the Midwest. Back around 1900, virtually all the big stands of large trees had been logged out in the Eastern U.S. and across much of the Midwest as well. As the trees vanished, Wild Turkey populations plummeted.

Wild Turkey populations were further pushed to oblivion by rapid improvements in gun accuracy, and weak game laws that had yet to catch up to the changing dynamics of landscape and technology.

By 1910, there were fewer than 30,000 Wild Turkeys left in America.

Then, an amazing turnaround occurred. That turnaround started with passage of the Lacey Act in 1900. The Lacey Act ended commercial hunting of wild animals.

Commercial hunting is not sport or recreational hunting -- it is the opposite of that. In commercial hunting, the goal is not having a fun day in the field to fill your own freezer with wild meat, but a full year in the field to fill the freezers of 10,000 people whose primary concern is the price per pound.

To put it simply, commercial hunting is to sport hunting what gill-netting is to fly fishing. One comes with a factory ship attached; the other a simple wicker creel.

No single action has done more to improve the status of American wildlife than passage of the Lacey Act. Prior to its passage, commercial hunters bled the land white, shooting everything that moved. Wild game merchants sold pigeons for a penny apiece, and ducks for only a little more.

Hunters, using cannons loaded with shrapnel, would shoot 400 ducks in a day in Maryland's Eastern Shore marshes, while market deer hunters would set up bait stations near roads and shoot 20 deer in a night.

The Lacey Act helped put an end to this kind of unrestricted slaughter of American wildlife, but it did nothing to restore badly degraded habitat.

Wildlife without habitat is a zoo.

Habitat without wildlife is scenery.

America -- still a young nation -- remembered when it had both, and it wanted it all back.

The second steps on the road to wildlife recovery occurred between 1905 and 1911. It was during this period that Theodore Roosevelt set aside 42 million acres as National Forest and created an additional 53 National Wildlife Refuges as well.

It was also during this period that Congress passed the Weeks Act authorizing the U.S. government to buy up millions of acres of mountain land in the East that had been chopped clean of its forest in order to obtain wood for railroad ties, paper, firewood and timber.

With the Depression of the 1930s, and rapid migration of millions of people from the rural countryside to the city, more and more marginal farmland began to revert back to woody plots.

Spontaneous forest regeneration in Appalachia, along with tree-planting by the U.S. Government-funded Civilian Conservation Corps, helped restore more than 6 million acres of hardwood forests on denuded land purchased under the Weeks Act.

In 1937, the Wildlife Restoration Act (aka, the Pittman-Robertson Act) initiated a new tax on rifles, shotguns and ammunition, with this dedicated revenue going to help fund wildlife conservation.

Pittman-Robertson Act funds were used to purchase millions of acres of public hunting lands and to fund wildlife reintroduction efforts for Whitetail Deer, Canada Geese, Elk, Beaver, Wood Duck, Black Bear, and Wild Turkey.

In the case of Wild Turkey, initial restocking efforts were not successful. Turkey eggs were collected from wild birds, and the poults that were hatched were released into the wild. Unfortunately, these pen-raised birds were quickly decimated by predation and starvation.

New tactics were tried. A few adult Wild Turkeys were caught in wooden box traps intended for deer (picture of deer trap at right). These Wild Turkey were then moved to suitable habitat, but these adults birds also perished under the onslaught of predation.

The reintroduction of Wild Turkeys was beginning to look hopeless.

After World War II, game managers began to experiment again. This time, cannon nets -- large nets propelled by black powder rocket charges -- were used. These nets enveloped entire turkey flocks at once.

Moving an entire flock of Wild Turkeys seemed to work. The first few flocks that were relocated out of the Ozarks (the last stronghold of the Wild Turkey) began to thrive, in part because regrown forest provided more food stock for the birds to live on. The millions of acres of mountain land purchased in 1911 under the Weeks Act had, by now, become large stands of maturing hardwoods in the National Forest system.

Turkeys caught in a cannon net.

Systematic restocking of Wild Turkey continued through the 1950s and 60s, and by 1973, when the National Wild Turkey Federation was formed, the population of wild birds in the U.S. had climbed to 1.3 million.

With the creation of the National Wild Turkey Federation, more sportsmen and private land owners were recruited for habitat protection and Wild Turkey reintroduction.

Today, the range of the American Wild Turkey is more extensive than ever, and the total Wild Turkey population has climbed to 5.5 million birds.

Wild turkey hunting is now a billion-dollar-a-year industry, with 2.6 million hunters harvesting about 700,000 birds a year.

And so, when we are giving Thanksgiving this Thursday, let us remember not only the Wild Turkey and America's hunting heritage, but also such "big government" programs as the Weeks Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Pittman-Robertson Act, the National Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Clean Water Act.

Without Uncle Sam -- and your tax dollars -- much of America's wildlife would now be gone.

It was Uncle Sam -- and Mother Nature's natural fecundity -- that brought back the Wild Turkey, the Beaver, the Elk, the Whitetail Deer, the Black Bear, and the Bald Eagle. Ted Nugent and the National Rifle Association were nowhere to be seen, and neither were Bass Pro Shops or salesmen pushing Yamaha ATVs.

So next time you are in forest or field, remember Uncle Sam, and thank God for Mother Nature. Whether you know it or not, your hunting and fishing has always depended on both of them.


Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit

Cancer, And Why I Wish You Sound Science

Have you ever noticed that when God gives people or their loved ones cancer, they run to doctors who depend on science to develop cures, show the surgeons where to cut, where to radiate, and what drugs to take!  Then, when the cancer shrinks into remission, they thank and praise God?  Perfectly backward.  They should be thanking and praising science. It was science the brought the cure, and it was “God” brought the cancer.  It was “God” brought the disease, it was science that bought the vaccine.

Let’s Keep An Eye on Them

Just because you're a white, Christian man does not NECESSARILY mean you are going to kill people. 

But there's no question they’re the group MOST likely to commit terrorism. 

Can't we at least register them, and maybe require them to wear a giant red letter "A" for asshole, so we can watch them together?

Thank You Evolution

Aging Software Runs In Both Directions

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Major Tuneup

Four years ago I had no doctor — never had one.

Now I have a number of them.

I have a General Practitioner who got me to take a mail-away test for colon cancer. No history of colon cancer in my family, and I’m happy to report I’m clear.

I have a rheumatologist due to psoriatic arthritis, which was diagnosed three years ago and under-treated for about 18 months. I now take a shot of Humira every week (twice the normal dose), and generally feel good.

I have a dentist who has capped two front teeth (one chipped, the other to match), filled two cavities, reinstalled two old crowns, and done an extraction and an implant. A lot of dental work in the last 6 months!

I have a urologist who did surgery to remove bladder stones.

I have an Ear-Nose-and-Throat doctor who treated a persistent ear issue in September and, while doing that, noted that I had a deviated septum that was blocking about 90 percent of my right nostril. Did I have trouble breathing?

A light went on; this was why I snored, had horrible and never-ending congestion, had severely interrupted sleep, and often had labored breathing!

No wonder I felt like shit. With only a few hours sleep a night, I drank 10-15 coffees a day to power forward — creating a never-ending cycle of sleep deprivation and occasional caffeine-driven mania.

The ENT doctor scheduled me for surgery (at my request) and after about a month of recovery, I can now breathe through my nose which is a marvel. It feels like oxygen is going straight into my brain. It’s unbelievable.

It may seem strange that it took a doctor to tell me I had 90 percent nasal blockage on my right side, but he said it was likely progressive over 20 or 30 years, and it was not uncommon to not pinpoint the problem. Was the deviated septum due to a few blows taken over the years? Maybe, but not necessarily, he said. I noted I had some breathing problems even as a kid, and the doctor said it was probably congenital and simply got worse with age. It was totally fixable, but recovery would take a few weeks of severe congestion and discomfort.

He was 100 percent right.

I’m now sleeping much better, and drinking far less coffee.

I breathe in and just FEEL the joy of unrestricted breathing, something I’ve missed for years.

Bottom line: I feel better than I have in some time.

My psoriatic arthritis has not gone away, of course. I have some occasional hip stiffness and pain, some occasional bouts of fatigue. But it’s all much better.

It probably helps too that I have lost some weight.

All in all, I’m a bit like an old car with new rings, new tires, and an oil change. I’m still an older model car with expected wear, but doing much better after seeing a mechanic. A few more miles on me yet!

He Who Made Kittens Made Snakes in the Grass

Do you see them? Copperhead snake in the first photo, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes in the second and third photos. Not my photos. 

These are the only truly venomous snakes we have in Maryland and Virginia, and the Copperhead is over-rated for toxin, while the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is rare and generally confined to rocky mountainous areas. Both are found in my immediate area, however; copperheads all over, and rattlesnakes in the high rock just 8 miles out of town.
“All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers, is contained in the dog. If one could but realize this knowledge, if one could but bring it into the light of day, if we dogs would but own that we know infinitely more than we admit to ourselves”. -- Franz Kafka, Investigations of a Dog, 1922


Thanksgiving in the Forest

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Supply Chain Problem?

Liars for Hire Rationalizing Racism

Ken Burns on Why America Must Confront It's History

Our Grandfathers Killed Nazis... and Won

A father and daughter duo open carry to protect anti-fascists protesting the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha on Wisconsin.

We are going to see more of this on the left and it will terrify politicians.  

As I noted back in 2013, "the quickest way to gun control is if black folks and Hispanics 'Open Carry' handguns to their State Capitols and loiter near the parking lots where state and federal legislators and their staffs park their cars.
"A really smart gun control group would organize this to make this happen."

As The Atlantic noted, back on May 2, 1967:

The eighth-grade students gathering on the west lawn of the state capitol in Sacramento were planning to lunch on fried chicken with California’s new governor, Ronald Reagan, and then tour the granite building constructed a century earlier to resemble the nation’s Capitol. But the festivities were interrupted by the arrival of 30 young black men and women carrying .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45-caliber pistols. 

The 24 men and six women climbed the capitol steps, and one man, Bobby Seale, began to read from a prepared statement. “The American people in general and the black people in particular,” he announced, must:

take careful note of the racist California legislature aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, demonstrated, and everything else to get the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetuated against black people The time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.

Seale then turned to the others. “All right, brothers, come on. We’re going inside.” He opened the door, and the radicals walked straight into the state’s most important government building, loaded guns in hand. No metal detectors stood in their way....

... The Panthers’ methods provoked an immediate backlash. The day of their statehouse protest, lawmakers said the incident would speed enactment of Mulford’s gun-control proposal. Mulford himself pledged to make his bill even tougher, and he added a provision barring anyone but law enforcement from bringing a loaded firearm into the state capitol.

Republicans in California eagerly supported increased gun control. Governor Reagan told reporters that afternoon that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” In a later press conference, Reagan said he didn’t “know of any sportsman who leaves his home with a gun to go out into the field to hunt or for target shooting who carries that gun loaded.” The Mulford Act, he said, “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.”

The fear inspired by black people with guns also led the United States Congress to consider new gun restrictions... Congress passed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, the first federal gun-control law in 30 years. Months later, the Gun Control Act of 1968 amended and enlarged it.

Notice that the Black Panthers were not standing up to federal soldiers. 

It was not the federal government, but local and state police that participated in the lynchings of black men and women in the south.

It was not the federal government, but local and state police that routinely arrested young black men on trumped up charges.

It was not the federal government, but local and state police that bashed men and women in gay bars, and called Mexicans "tonks" because of the sound their heads allegedly made when slammed with the butt of a rifle.

And yet, with the NRA today, notice that no one is "AR-15 rattling" about the REAL (and occassionally continuing) civil rights abuse done by local and state police against blacks, hispanics, gays, and others. 

And why not? 

Simple: the average NRA member is more than OK with blacks, hispanics and gays getting beat up by cops.  That's what police are for, they think: to protect white, male, heterosexual hegemony.

Cropped version of larger picture.

The Secret Origin Of Dogs

When it comes to the origin of dogs, we would rather tell ourselves a lie than the truth. 

The truth is that our first relationships with dogs were not forged in their desire to return a tossed ball to hand, but in our brutal massacre of their mothers and fathers. 

We killed adult wolves and coyotes and kidnapping their orphan young to a strange and alien world where they grew dependent upon us for food, affection and any semblance to freedom. We are still doing that.. 

And why? For our own amusement, and nothing more.

Our first relationships with wolves and dogs, then, was not forged in some notion of benign, mutual co-dependency, but in blood and fear. 

No wonder we created another story to hide the shame!