Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Coffee and Provocation

Web Sites I Bookmarked:
Strange Maps is Very Cool. Check out the cultural map of the world, the map showing how well evolution is taught in U.S. schools, the European map of blondes, the map of the world 25 million years into the future, or the Tory map of the world, the beautiful map of the shifting river bed of the Mississippi River, the bizarro tourist map of the U.S. made in Japan, or the United States of Baseball. Lots and lots more. Check it out.
4 Post Secrets is a strangely unsettling art project in which people anonymously mail their inner-most secrets on a postcard to an address in Maryland. Check it out. A hat tip to Emily K. S. for this one.
4 Found magazine is a web site/publication celebrating found stuff. A hat tip to Emily K. S. for this one too.

The Five Best Dog Books?
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Stanley Coren (author of Why Does My Dog Act That Way?) says the five best dog books are: 1) For the Love of a Dog by Patricia B. McConnell; 2) If Only They Could Speak by Nicholas H. Dodman; 3) If Dogs Could Talk by Vilmos Csányi; 4) Bones Would Rain From the Sky by Suzanne Clothier, and; 5) Always Faithful by William Putney. Others will disagree, of course. Feel free to add your recommendations in the "comments" section.
See Amazon or AbeBooks to order

Nutria are Coming to New Jersey:
Actually, they are already there. Now the push is on to wipe them out before they get a foothold. Good luck with that!

Corruption and the Endangered Species Act:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finally admitted that "sound science" has been routinely ignored when making decisions about wildlife protection under the Endangered Species Act, and it has said it will now reverse or re-examine seven decisions involving the White-tailed Prairie Dog, the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse, the Canada Lynx, the Hawaiian Picture-wing Fly, the Arroyo Toad, the California Red-legged Frog, and the Sacramento Splittail fish. The Fish and Wildlife Service's reversal comes hard on the heels of an investigation of Julie MacDonald, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary overseeing the Fish and Wildlife Service. Ms. MacDonald was a civil engineer who routinely pressured scientists to alter their findings in order to curry favor with developers. Congressman Nicky Rahall of West Virginia, who is Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, says MacDonald "should never have been allowed near the endangered species program." Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists says the seven admitted instances of wrongdoing "do not begin to plumb the depths of what's wrong" at the wildlife agency and its implementation of the Endangered Species Act. A hat tip to Chris for pointing to the ESA reversal article. The U.S. Department of Interior, for the record, is a cess-pit of corruption. Look at oil and gas leases at the Minerals Management Service if you want to see billions of dollars lost from corruption and incompetence.

The Wall of Death?
John Wegner, the chief environmental officer of Emory University, has labeled the facade of the math building at his school "The Wall of Death" because 60 birds a year are killed while flying into it. Sixty birds over the course of a year is a "Wall of Death?" Please, let's not debase the language (or the cause) by flashing into hyperbole too quickly, eh? So what's Mr. Wegner's solution to the crisis? Believe it or not, it's draping mesh off the side of the Math Building for three months a year. In my opinion, this makes a horrible environmental statement, suggesting that a huge cock-a-mamie production is required to do even minimal environmental good. Don't get me wrong: I am not opposed to saving birds -- all for it in fact. But bird impacts on buildings are not a new problem and it's not one to panic about. Bird populations -- especially passerines -- rise and fall, and tend to balance themselves out. Yes, let's try to reduce bird impacts, but it's generally a good idea to innovate rather than hyperventilate. David Sibley is trying to do that. He has posted a nice couple of pieces about his experiments with low-cost bird-proofing which is based on the theory that birds can see UV wavelengths pretty well. He's clearly got an idea here, and since Emory is a University, how about throwing that building-drapery money towards a couple of Chemistry Department geeks who can be detailed to coming up with a spray-on UV-bright window coating? A hat tip to Marie E. for sending me the Emory article.

North Carolina to Allow Sunday Falconry/Hawking:
It look like North Carolina is going to allow Sunday falconry. Under "Justification" for the rule change, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission notes: "The Commission has the legal authority to allow falconry on Sundays, and there is no biological reason to maintain the current prohibition. " To which I would only add: "Damn straight, and let's get it on." The propensity to legislate without a reason is the Mother of the Devil. How many falconers are there in North Carolina? About as many working terrier enthusiasts, I would venture. They can do no harm to anything. In fact, artisan hunters of all kinds (bow and arrow hunters included) should be encouraged and dropping all restrictions on Sunday hunting (where they still exist) is a good first step. A hat tip to Moose Droppings
for this one.

Exactly What Does the Windows Key Do?
It's down there on the left side of your keyboard -- the one you ignore. Is it just branding? No, actually. Press it and it opens up the "Start Menu." Press it and "E" at the same time, and you get Windows Explorer. Press it and "F" at the same time, and your computer will start the search menu for files on your computer. Press is and "L" and your computer will log you off. Now you know. Thus endeth this useless lesson.



Anonymous said...

Press the WIndows key and "R", and you'll get a Run prompt which is very useful for getting work done in Vista.

Alaska said...

Hi PBurns,

The article at your first link about corruption and the ESA isn't as relevant as it might be. Here is an AP version that contains the quotes you used:

- An FWS employee whose curiosity you piqued

PBurns said...

Thanks for the additional windows key tip.

And thanks to FWS person for noting that I had pasted in the wrong link -- that is indeed the RIGHT link you have bird-dogged me too. I seem to have been "multi-tasking" while doing this C&P.


Matt Mullenix said...

Re: NC falconry rules, note also that NC is listed in the Evolution Education map you posted elsewhere as having an exemplary life sciences educational program. Good show NC!

The South shall rise again!

PBurns said...

LOL. Well *parts* of the South may rise again. Virginia is still a basketcase.

Of course, I have a simple (and direct) solution: Folks that do not believe in evolution should simply not be vaccinated since vaccinations and re-vaccinations are done in order to keep up with mircobial adaptations, and the vaccines themselves are generally created through an evolutionary process (i.e. evolutionary attentuation). It's time the anti-evolution folks put their money down and "bet the farm" by going without vaccines.


Dog lady and publisher said...

Re Best Dog Books

A Man and his Dog (also known as Bashan and I) by Thomas Mann. Look for the latest translations.

Caveat said...

Whenever I see Stanley Coren's name, I'm reminded of his nonsensical comments about certain breeds and types of dogs, as well as his inability to back up his statements. Whatever, the self-styled 'expert' field is rather cluttered these days.

Books I like:

Beautiful Joe
Call of the Wild
1000 Dogs
The Social Lives of Dogs
A Dog of Flanders
The Other End of the Leash
National Geographic Book of Dogs (out of print)
The Culture Clash

Gina Spadafori said...

I agree! The self-styled expert field is too crowded. My goodness, there's hardly any room for me!

I like "My Dog Tulip."

Love your real estate porn. Problem with some of those small towns, though, is that they're dead. And I don't mean in terms of things to do.

Some friends live in a little farm town in Kansas, about 40 minutes from Hutchinson. Used to be a thriving little place until the Wal-Mart, etc., in Hutch killed all the business, agricorp took all the farmland and all the kids moved away after high school. Now every third house in abandoned and all the downtown businesses are shuttered. My friends live in a stunning old Victorian that was built for the town doctor around 1900. They couldn't unload it if they tried.

What a sad, dreary place. And they're stuck there.