Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Acts of God Clause

An 80 mph wind and rain storm came through last night, and as a consequence about 2 million homes and 3 million people in the area are without electricity, airconditioning, internet and telephone service. Even cell phones are not working everywhere. All fine here at Casa Terrierman, but I may not blog much until power returns. I have a generator running for the fridge. Tomorrow moning is chainsaw time!

This Dog Is Rolling in the Deep


Friday, June 29, 2012

110 in the Shade :: John Fogerty

 Yeah, it might be too hot to dig.

Way out there in the cotton
   Sun beatin' down so hard
   Sweat rollin' off this shovel
   Diggin' in the devil's boneyard
   Sure like a cool drink of water...

Bottom land hard as a gravestone
   Couldn't cut it with an axe
   Gonna lay me down right here
   And that's a fact.


Locked, Loaded, Liberal, and Lesbian

At the the Westside Pistol & Rifle Range

This is Rachel Maddow, arguably the smartest woman on television. 

She's the GOP's nightmare.  As a Rolling Stone profile put it:

She's America's leading lefty wonk, complete with chunky glasses, Ph.D., and a deep faith in activist government. But Rachel Maddow is also, a little unexpectedly, totally into guns.

Well, maybe not totally unexpected if the liberal you are talking to has actually taken the time to read the U.S. Constitution, understands the roots of violence (it's more likely associated with booze than bullets), knows statistics and American history, and has been to a firing range a few times.

For more on all that, see The Liberal Case for Gun Ownership.

Commentary on Commentary

This blog has a "no zombies" and "please use the Google" policy that is rather emphatically stated, and if people do not read it and do not honor it, I do not waste one second on them.

Other bloggers have struggled with their comments policy as well. 

Over at Stonekettle Station they have a very nice succinct version which can be summarized as: "don't be a dick."  

Over at Patheos, the deletion of a comment launched a small meditation which seems to end with "go fuck yourself and start your own damn blog." 

Over at Gene Expression on the Discovery magazine blog, however, they explain the mathematics behind the sensible and experienced blogger's rudeness:  there are simply far more prattling idiots than there are hours in the day, and we bloggers are in an asymetrical war with the time-wasters:

Over the 10 years of running my own blog(s) I’ve shifted in my own perspective and outlook. In the beginning I was rather laissez faire. But it became rather obvious that most people were either stupid or ignorant, or, they took advantage of the anonymity of the internet to waste other peoples’ time. The biggest issue which I think some readers don’t seem to internalize well is that not only am I engaging comments, I’m also writing. This means that I’m spread rather thin, so the situation of me interacting with a given commenter is never symmetrical. So, to give a non-hypothetical, if I ask you for some citations and you spend 10 seconds, I’m going to get rather ticked off. I spend hours writing, and then responding to commenters who are clear and sincere. In contrast, other commenters do step up and add value when I ask pointed questions.

In real life most people are not worth deep engagement because they’re dull or incurious, or, our interests do not overlap (i.e., I’m incurious about their topics of passion). It’s no different on the internet. Sitemeter says thousands of people read the content on this weblog per day. The vast majority do not leave comments, obviously. I’m glad for that.

Well done, and well said. 

Please do not take this as a stick in the eye.  I am always happy to hear sensible things, to get additional information, to hear about errors of fact with citations to reputable sources, and to be told I am smart, have lost weight, and put on an amazing tie this morning.  But please do not waste my time because you are bored and want to argue, or are too lazy to use the Google.  Time is more precious than gold, and I will not have mine stolen by fools.  

And might I say that I hope you will embrace a similar world view in your own daily endeavors?  Try to get something done! Build foward, steer around the obstacles thrown in the road, and leave a few good words to those who show up early, stay late, and work hard in between, especially if those people happen to be at the bottom of the economic ladder.  Eschew the crazy, hazy and lazy, and the nattering nebobs of negativism that seem to be all around us all too often.  Help someone out, and do a little service.  Lean forward.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pit Bulls, Surgeons and Statistics

Pit Bulls are mostly a danger to themselves.

Are you looking for an article that will make heads explode? 

I've got one. 

Today's head-exploder is from the April 2011 edition of Annals of Surgery, Volume 253, Number 4, and is entitled "Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs." 

The article says what everyone who has actually done the research will agree on, but does so without enough context, even as its strays into rhetoric that is unnecessarily divisive because it is focused solely on dog bites.

So what does this article say that we should be able to agree on?

Just this:  When Pit Bulls bite, they can, and often do, do a lot of damage -- more than the average dog.

The article notes that:
Compared with attacks by other breeds of dogs, attacks by pit bulls were associated with a higher median Injury Severity Scale score (4 vs. 1; P = 0.002), a higher risk of an admission Glasgow Coma Scale score of 8 or lower (17.2% vs. 0%; P = 0.006), higher median hospital charges ($10,500 vs. $7200; P = 0.003), and a higher risk of death (10.3% vs. 0%; P = 0.041).

What else should everyone be able to agree on?  Just this:  Pit Bulls are implicated in serious dog bites, including fatal dog bites, more often than most other breeds.
Over a recent 3-year period from January 2006 to March 30, 2009, a total of 98 dog bite fatalities involving 179 dogs occurred; 60% of the deaths were caused by pit bulls, and 76% were caused by pit bulls and Rottweilers. A total of 113 pit bulls were involved in these deaths, and they accounted for 63% of the dogs involved in fatal attacks (Table 2).

The article goes on to note that laws governing dogs that bite are far from uniform:
Dog bite ordinances vary widely across the United States. Seventeen states have “one bite” laws that do not hold the dog owner accountable for the actions of a dangerous dog until after the dog has caused harm, at which point it can be considered potentially dangerous or vicious. Twelve states have laws that specifically forbid municipalities to enact breed-specific laws or ordinances. Currently, 250 cities in the United States have breed-specific ordinances, even though some of these cities are in states that prohibit breed-specific laws. Texas, the state that leads the nation in dog bite fatalities, is a “one bite” state that prohibits breed-specific laws.

So where does this article go wrong?

Well, for one, they are using AKC American Staffordshire Terrier registration data as a proxy for Pit Bull owneship.

This is not just slightly wrong, this is monumentally wrong.

Most Pit Bulls are not registered with the AKC, and most AKC American Staffordshire Terriers are "PET Bulls" far removed from Pit Bull fighting stock.  It can be argued, pretty convincinly, that registered AKC dogs are very often temperamentally different from unregistered non-AKC stock, and that the AKC-registered dogs are more likely to have stable and responsible owners.

This is basic stuff and needs to be said.

Pit Bulls are a broad type of dog, but the American Staffordshire Terrier is a narrow breed that was split off from the type about 70 years ago, and it is slowly becoming distinct.

Is the split complete? No, not yet. But the fact that it is occuring should be recognized.

Another place where this article goes astray is in its focus on human injury and mortality, and its failure to provide a base line for that injury and mortality.

Yes, 20 Pit Bull-related deaths a year sounds pretty terrifiying, but compared to what?

The simple truth is that this is a huge country and 20 deaths a year from any source is really not very many.

Bee stings kill about three times more people a year than Pit Bulls do.

And, of course, bees are nothing to worry about compared to the number of deaths caused by backyard swimming pools, the hazards of falling down steps in your own home, deer wandering into the roadway, and the hazards of playing golf!

This is not to say that Pit Bull bites are not an issue; they are. But death is not the only outcome, and it is certainly not the most common outcome, associated with dog bites in general, or Pit Bull bites in particular.

What price do we put on the scarred face of a child, or a lifetime of fear associated with dogs? Can we talk about that a little more?

Finally, the article gets down to solutions. What should we do about Pit Bulls, and WHY?

This last question is where I think the article really falls apart, as it considers the Pit Bull problem to be solely and mainly about dog bites.

It's not.

Why does every dog debate have to revolve around the fears and desires of humans?

Is it too much to ask that we actually talk about the dog's problems?

You see, Pit Bulls are mostly a danger to themselves, not to others.

When a bored, untrained, and under-exercised young Pit Bull bites another dog, eats the couch, or growls at anything, it is too often shipped off to the pound where it is rarely adopted out, and where it is almost invariably killed, i.e. "put down."

Last year, nearly a million Pit Bulls were killed in shelters -- 40,000,000 pounds of dead Pit Bull.

Yes, let's talk about the 20 people that were killed by Pit Bulls last year, but can we also talk about the ONE MILLION Pit Bulls that were bred, bought, abandoned, and killed by people that same year?

Could it be that if we focus on reducing the breeding of Pit Bulls, we will also reduce the unnecessary killing of these dogs and, by extension, increase the chance that the Pit Bulls that are bred have a good temperament, and are placed in the right homes with the right owners?

This article misses that discussion, entirely.

Bad News and Good News for Republican Friends

The bad news is as detailed, above.

The good news is that Somalia does not have universal health care.   

Be sure to bring sun screen... and an ammo belt.

One Nation Under God

One nation, under God, indivisible, with health care for all.

And why?  Because, as the preable to the Constitution says, this nation was created to promote the general Welfare of the American people.

Medicare did that back in 1965, and before that we had child labor laws, wage and hours law, and the emancipation proclamatin to end slavery.

Anyone want to go back to slavery, child labor, and the rest? If so, be sure to sign your name, and to put your address, email, and phone number in the comments!

The push to get national health care has been a long one. It started with Truman, and the first plank was hammered into place in 1965, under LBJ, with Medicare and Medicaid.

Do you know what Medicare did back in 1965?

More than health care. We became a better nation.

I told that story on this blog back in 2009, but it's still a good story about how this nation got a little bit better because some people aspired to make it better for all.

Of course, the pinched-pockets have always been with us.

We could not afford to end child labor... Wage and hour laws would force companies into bankrupcty.... Medicare was socialism.... OSHA was the rise of the nanny state. The Chamber of Commerce has been one long waaaaaahh since the beginning.

But push comes to shove, most right-wingers actually do become socialists when they hit age 65. Theory hits the reality of old age sickness and poverty, and theory seems to get trumped every time.

You want to hear a funny story?

Here it is....

It seems that before the Koch brothers were pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into undermining the social fabric of this nation by buying entire elections, they were trying to get libertarian totem Frederich Hayeck to come to the U.S. to become a “distinguished senior scholar” at the Institute for Human Studies, which the Koch brothers wanted to turn into a libertarian citadel.

Only one problem: Hayek would not come because he did not want to leave Austria, which had nearly universal health care, for fear he might get sick abroad.

So what happened next?  It seems Institute for Human Studies vice president George Pearson (who later became a top Koch Industries executive) researched the problem and wrote to Hayek that he could get free health care in the U.S. through Medicare because Hayeck had paid into the Social Security system some years earlier when he was at the University of Chicago!

Like libertarian Ayn Rand, Frederich Hayek was only too happy to use "socialized" medicine and income support as soon as his own health failed and his bank accounts grew thin.

Theory is a nice thing, but it's not much use when you are sick or need to buy a loaf of bread, or cup of coffee! When push comes to shove, people tend to flip and flop as expediency dictates.

And speaking of flipping and flopping as expediency dictates, check out the video below, in which Mittens Romney praises the individual mandate of Obama care, circa 2006.


A Graphic For Those Who Are Not Reality Based

Also, Dewey defeated Truman.

Einstein Never Said That


Motivated Terriers

From The San Francisco Chronicle comes this story:

Guinness, an 8-year-old Wheaton terrier, was hot on the trail of a raccoon last week in Atherton when the masked bandit took the chase to new heights, scaling an oak tree taller than a five-story building.

Not one to give up on a chase, the 40-pound dog went right up after the raccoon and soon found himself frozen in fear about 30 feet above the ground.

“Amazed” firefighters responded to the June 19 incident at about 9 p.m., said Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. He said everyone who heard the call thought it was a mistake. Dogs don’t climb trees, they reasoned.
“We thought it was a cat or a raccoon or a possum,” Schapelhouman said “That’s typically what it is. The irony of having a dog up there — it was unusual, to say the least.”

I have had terriers go up trees before after quarry. Pearl, the cover dog, even made it to film, barking furiously in a precarious situation.  And then, there are the hounds and terriers who climb up inside trees.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Season's End -- A New Book on Working Dogs

I have not read it yet, but it sounds like it will be a fun read, despite the fact that it includes a short story from me.   There are pictures too from what I understand!

It's out now, or it will be very soon (Amazon listing goes live on the 30th).

The terrier on the cover is my Pearl, now retired and living the Life of Riley.

How the Tea Party Makes Their Tea


Big Timber: When The Nation Was Young

And one more that will become HUGE if you click on it.  That's Michigan in 1890.  The last picture is from Shorpy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

AKC Registrations Continue to Crash and Burn

AKC registrations continue to crash and burn despite the fact (and we could not make this up) that the AKC thinks partnering with the #1 dealer of puppy mill dogs for pet shops (the Hunte Corporation) to talk about canine health is a good idea. 

And to add a chocolate topping to whole charade, the AKC and the Hunte Corporation have put a severely brachycephalic dog with an undershot on their poster under the title (wait for it....) "We're Raising the Bar Together." 


Meanwhile, the Dayton Kennel Club reports:
  • Volume of AKC registrations continued to be headed downhill.
  • Number of AKC breeders has declined 10% in 2011 for a total decline of 34% over the past 3 yrs.
  • Number of Commercial breeders has dropped 36% from last year.
  • Number of puppies sold at retail stores is down 20%.
  • Total revenues during the first eight months of 2011 were $2.1 million (5.4% lower than 2010). 77% of this decrease can be attributed to registrations.
  • Total registration revenues were $1.6 million less than 2010.
  • Due to the shrinking population of breeders, the number of registered litters continues to decline, 11% below 2010,

 Meanwhile, over at the Hunte Corporation, their web site features an AKC "Parson Russell" terrier at the top and is co-branded with the AKC at the bottom.  And what of that mention of AKC breeding standards?  There are none, other than the dam be at least 8 months old. 

Want to know more?  Here's how it all works -- and how it's all connected

The good news is that America has woken up and, as a result, fewer and fewer people are signing up or paying up for AKC dogs.

Worse Jeans Ad Ever

What the hell were they thinking?
This dog looks like a bag of laundry, and the woman looks like she's berating the man for hitting her dog with his car.  Whiskey-tango-foxtrot.

AKC Registrations Crash, Operating Deficits Follow

The AKC seems to be running pretty steady deficits, forcing them to slowly draw down from their massive portfolio of stocks.

What's the problem?

The core problem is that AKC dog registrations have fallen through the floor, and while they once declined at a rate of about 4% a year, they are now declining at a rate of about 10% a year, as indexed by their financial statements.

We have to go by the financial statements, as the decline in registrations has become so precipitous that the AKC no longer reports registration numbers to the public or at board meetings, though the law and normal financial reporting require the decline in revenue to be documented.

Even as registration numbers crash, the AKC is furiously adding more and more rare breeds, which increases administrative costs while doing very little to bolster the bottom line since rare breeds are, by definition, rare.  

Rare dog breeds also tend to have incredibly narrow gene pools, which means the AKC will remain the Mother Church of Inbreeding -- they are speeding up in this department, not slowing down.

As I have noted in the past, AKC puppy mill registrations are used to pay for the cost of dog shows and other "events" held by the AKC, including those fancy wine-and-dine events that are held as part of the Westminter and the Eukanuba National Champtionship.

As Jim Stevens, Chief Financial Officer of the AKC noted at the last AKC board meeting:

[I]n 2010 AKC’s events incurred an operating loss of more than $11 million. Since registrations generated an operating profit of only $7.5 million in 2010, there was a first time shortfall of more than $3.5 million in the annual events subsidy from registration revenue.

Note the careful wording.  This is not a first-time shortfall in "events" revenue; AKC dog shows and trials have never paid for themselves. Now, however, the cost of "events" has risen, and the steep decline in AKC puppy registrations cannot be made to paper over the cracks and holes.

As it stands now, AKC registrations appear to have fallen from a high of 1.528 million in 1992, to less than 450,000 today -- a decline of more than 70 percent. If things continue along this steep and steady decline, the AKC may be out of business entirely by 2025.

Worse Zombie Hand Job Ever

Jack Russells will be no damn use during the Zombie Apocalpyse.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Boxers are Herders and Yorkies are Earthdogs?

The American Kennel Club is chock-full of pretenders and fantasists.

Three examples of where that gets you:

I love the boxer as a herding breed.   In fact, I think the AKC should classify all the butcher dog breeds as "herding" dogs:  Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dogue De Bordeaux, Dogos, etc.  Breeds bred for "very strong jaws and a powerful bite ideal for hanging on to large prey" are just perfect for herding.  What could go wrong?

The Good New is that the Bad News Is Wrong

The headlines screamed:

GM grass linked to Texas cattle deaths

Only one problem:  The grass here was NOT genetically modified grass at all.  Tifton 85 is just a simple old-fashioned hybrid, i.e. a simple cross between an African Bermuda grass and Tifton 68, another hybrid grass first produced in Tifton, Georgia.  

Another small problem is that grass-based arsenic-poisoning is not new or uncommon.  In fact, in dry areas under poor grazing management, grass-based cyanide poisoning is pretty common, as the Merck Veterinary manual makes clear.

Most grass contains cyanide, and cyanide and selenium poisoning in grass-fed cattle occurs all the time. Selenium buildup is generally due to bad soil, but cyanide-poisoning in grass-fed cattle is generally due to improper grazing on dry soil or on low-cut grass that has a low-water content.

So what should the headline have been?  Here are two options:
New York-based reporter that has never seen a live cow fails at basic reporting and research

A bad rancher with poorly-managed fields manages to poison his cattle through a combination of ignorance, sloth and greed

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Dog Is Neither Shovel Nor Child

Article from the January 2011 issue of Dogs Today.

A Dog is Neither Shovel Nor Child
Balance is key to a correct relationship with your dog

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that most dog owners have decent to extremely satisfactory relationships with their dogs.

The bad new is that “most” means we have only cleared the 51 percent threshold.

The simple truth is that millions of dogs and their owners have interpersonal relationships marked by stress, indifference, miscommunication, and even misery.

Are there commonalities to these problems?

Generally speaking, yes.

A Dog Is Not a Shovel

One problem is that some owners fail to recognize that dogs are fully sentient beings that need more than food, water, shelter, and sanitation. Dogs also need mental stimulation and exercise every day, no exceptions.

This means that if you kennel your dogs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, you are failing your dogs. In fact, you are treating your dogs worse than the most hardened of psychopathic criminals on death row.

And yet, how often do we see this? All the time!

Go to any commercial breeding or long-term boarding kennel, and you will see cage after cage of dogs deprived of the most basic kind of mental stimulation. Most are rarely walked or even turned out from their cages. Instead, a high-pressure water hose is used to blast feces into the scuppers. The gate to the kennel run may not be opened in a week

This is not a life. This is abuse.

“Abuse?!   But that’s the way we’ve always done it!”


Slavery and torture are also ancient traditions, but that doesn’t make them right does it?

We need to do better than this.

Dogs are not inanimate property. If you leave a shovel out in the rain and snow, it is of no concern to the state. But do the same thing to a dog, and not only will the state step in – it may fine you, remove your dog and, in extreme cases, jail you.

While there may be no legal obligation to provide exercise and mental stimulation for your dog, failure to live up to this responsibility is at the core of many, if not most, dysfunctional relationships.

Job One then is exercise and mental stimulation. Satisfy your dog’s needs in this regard, and you are half way home.

A Dog Is Not a Child

At the other end of the spectrum from those who treat dogs like shovels, are those who treat dogs as if they are children.

A dog is Canis lupus familiaris, not Homo sapiens bambino.

Accepting a dog for what it is, is the cornerstone of having a correct relationship.

Dogs drink from puddles, bark routinely, bite on occasion, and turn around three times before they curl up in the grass.

You cannot warn a dog about consequences, or explain to them why you are taking away their allowance. A dog does not have morality, does not believe in heaven, and does not fear hell.

Dogs consider it normal to roll in animal feces and to eat them too. They greet each other by sniffing each other’s butts, and they often drink from toilets because they do not have hands to turn on a tap.

Many dogs have strong prey drives, and some will kill your neighbor's cat as quick as you can say "Bob's your uncle."

In short, your dog is not your “fur baby.”

Do not deny the nature of a dog or its particular needs, any more than you would a tiger or a hummingbird.

And yet, look around. So many people insist on treating dogs as children. What’s going on here?

Most of the time, it’s a classic case of displacement -- a childless woman, gay man, or senior citizen transferring maternal or paternal needs to a dog.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with treating a dog well, or even doting on it, provided that the dog is not allowed to run riot and basic discipline is imposed.

That said, it’s important to realize dogs do not see the world the way we do. What an owner sees as an act of beneficence, a dog is likely to see as weakness to be exploited.

The bottom line is that a dog’s owner must set the rules, establish the routines, and decide what behaviors are permitted and which are not.

And yes, this means the dog must be subordinate to you.

It’s not a question of being mean or not caring. Quite the opposite. It’s a question of providing the dog with the clarity it needs to know it is not an equal in the household.

A dog is a dog, and a dog is less than the owner, less than the spouse, less than a child, and less than any human guest.

If there is any question about this in the mind of either you or the dog, the basis for a less-than-satisfactory relationship is set.

It’s All Up To You

Perhaps the most common failing in the world of human-dog relationships is the failure to train.

Watch closely, and you will see that people who raise perfectly acceptable children often have dogs that are out of control.

How is this possible?

One reason is that even the most active parents are only partially raising their own children – schools and society are doing most of it.

Beginning at a very early age, kids are bundled off to day care, kindergarten, and grade school where they spend eight hours a day being taught to raise their hands, line up for lunch, and respect adult authority. Socialization and exercise occur on the playground, while more after-school instruction is provided by coaches, church, police, television, movies, and books.

In the typical human household, children spend less than 10 minutes a day talking to their parents. Whether we chose to admit it or not, it is the larger social fabric of society that provides so much instruction to our kids.

Not so with dogs.

If you send your dog to public school; they will not train it! Instead, they will turn your dog over to the local pound where, if it is still unclaimed five days later, it is likely to be put to sleep.

Did I mention that a dog is not a child? True!

While the bad news is that you cannot pass off dog training to the local public school, the good new is that your dog does not need to know very much to make it in this world.

Four or five basic commands -- sit, come, stay and down -- are all that are needed for both dog and owner to have reasonably happy lives.

And here’s the other bit of good news: any and all dog training systems work pretty well.

Dog training is not rocket science; it’s repetition, timing, rewards and consistency.

A final bit of good news is that if you are looking for a good book on dog training, there’s a new one that sets out multiple methods of training the basic commands. Cesar’s Rules, by Cesar Millan, features Millan and eleven other dog trainers detailing the most common methods of teaching basic dog commands.   Check it out!  

Fish on Friday

Networking back when it had something to do with nets.

This was Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1905. A Shorpy great. Click to enlarge.

Are You All You Think About?

Enlarge this picture for the big and the small of where you actually fit in this universe.
. .

The Light Bulb, or 120 Years of Failure

From Maggie Koerth-Baker in The New York Times:
The electric light was a failure.  Invented by the British chemist Humphry Davy in the early 1800s, it spent nearly 80 years being passed from one initially hopeful researcher to another, like some not-quite-housebroken puppy. In 1879, Thomas Edison finally figured out how to make an incandescent light bulb that people would buy. But that didn’t mean the technology immediately became successful. It took another 40 years, into the 1920s, for electric utilities to become stable, profitable businesses. And even then, success happened only because the utilities created other reasons to consume electricity. They invented the electric toaster and the electric curling iron and found lots of uses for electric motors. They built Coney Island. They installed electric streetcar lines in any place large enough to call itself a town. All of this, these frivolous gadgets and pleasurable diversions, gave us the light bulb.
I like stories like this, as they remind us that success is often slow, and generally involves many people who toiled in failure or near-failure for decades, and that in the end it's so often the culture of the times and the sum total of many events that make something happen.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bicycle Baskets for the Dogs

I am looking to put a bicycle basket on the back of the bike for the dogs, and I am casting about for ideas.

Most of the commercial carriers are ugly and flimsy-looking Sherpa Bag type things, while a plastic crate is pretty ugly in terms of aesthetics, and would seem to offer too little protection for the dog in the advent of an accident.

Another problem is that most bike baskets for dogs look like they are designed to carry teacup dogs.  Is it possible to carry a Jack Russell or two?

The wicker job below looks pretty great, but also very specific.  Where am I going to get one of those!  How about on Amazon?  And more here.

And then buried in an on-line forum for moped riders
, I found a picture of the rig below with the following notion:  Basket from Target and portal made from a recessed lighting fixture.  It looks like bolt-through fasteners were added for the shock cords on the lid.  I think I could do this, and it would be very cool and safe.

It occurs to me, however, that it should be possible to put two dogs on a bike, with one dog each loaded into side panniers, and with each dog facing forward.  A woven pannier like this would be awesome, but I am thinking a regular cloth-sided pannier, with a hard bottom, and a head slot for each dog on top,might be more practical as these would mount easily on my existing Blackburn rack and would keep the weight low too.  Suggestions?

More research:  I found this Dutch site which is really very good.  The maker of these wicker bike baskets is a marvelous, talented, and artful craftsman by the name of David Hembrow. Check out his work, and say Thank You that this kind of stuff still exists somewhere in this everything-made-in-China-from-plastic world.  Yes!  Full standing ovation

American Terrier Work Nightmares

Skunks AND rabies.  One can kill the dogs if they are sprayed underground, and the other can kill the human of they are bitten.  Together, rabies and skunks are always a pause.  For extra fun, this double dose of misery occurred not too far from where I occasionally dig.   Nice.
Skunk Bit Patron In Leonardtown Restaurant

A skunk involved in biting a human has tested positive for rabies, according to the St. Mary's County Health Dept.

The incident took place at Cheeseburger in Paradise, 23415 Knotch Rd. in California, Md., on the afternoon of June 14.

The skunk was the sixth animal and the third skunk in the county confirmed to have rabies this year.

Big Dog and Little Dog, 1923

Wolfhound and Chihuahua, 1923, Washington, D.C. Click for massive picture from Shorpy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In Thailand It's RAT-a-touilla With Hot Sauce

Click for video

Rat hunters in Thailand started to hunt rats to protect their crops, but they found the meat was good, and that diners were prepared to pay.

God bless capitalism and man the omnivore. Every culture has its food taboos and preferences. Who is to say one is worse than the other?

Coffee and Provocation

Neo-Wolves and Chickens?
A restaurant at the foot of Huzhua Mountain, Hubei province, central China, has an interesting gimmick:  diners come to watch large yellow dogs (the kind often eaten in China) chase down the chickens they're about to eat.  The dogs return the chickens to cooks who lop off the chicken's head and put it in the pot.  In reward for the catch-and-retrieve, the dogs get the leftover chicken to eat afterwards.  Could this make it in the U.S.?  Why not?   You want free range, natural chickens?  We got those!

Fat People are Killing the Planet?
Researchers at the  London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, publishing in the journal BMC Public Health, say that increasing levels of fatness around the world has the same impact on global resources as adding an extra billion people to the global population.  And where is the problem most severe?  In North America, of course. Though we have only 6% of the global population, we are responsible for more than a third of all the obese people on the globe.

I Wonder If This Would Stop Dogs From Barking?
It sure makes peope shut up!

This Land is Your Land (sort of):
Louis Bacon, a billionaire hedge fund manager has pledged to protect 90,000 acres of his Colorado ranch from further development as part of a much larger planned conservation area. The Obama administration said it would be the "largest single conservation easement" ever provided to the federal government. The easement will provide the foundation for a proposed new Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area.  The 90,000 acres is used as a corridor by bison, cougars, black bears, bighorn sheep, elk and deer, and borders the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  The family of Malcolm Forbes family had earlier placed more than 80,000 acres of the ranch in a conservation easement, and this easement will join the largest parcel inside the proposed conservation area -- the 600,000-acre Vermejo Ranch.  On all the land, hunting will be allowed.

Pot Growers to Help Build a Conservation Area:
Nearly 1,000 acres on Short Mountain in Cannon County, Tennessee, will be kept free of development forever, and remain wild and open to hunters and hikers, after the land was seized from conservation-minded marijuana growers.  It turns out the land is home to species of crayfish, salamanders and beetles not found anywhere else.

Massachusetts Bear Boom:
The population of black bears is, supposedly, growing by 8 percent a year.  That's a doubling time of less than 9 years.

You Never Heard of this Guy:
But I guarantee he changed the world more than anyone you have heard of.

I Had No Idea:
I had no idea that tattoo removal was this fast.  Wow!  So why is it so damn expensive?

Norway Has Hired Friends for Their Number One Mass Murderer:
I could not make this up.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Come to Somalia.

Come to Somalia: It's a Libertarian paradise!  Government-free since 1991!

For those who like to travel, I have this standing offer:

I will reimburse your one-way travel to the country with the least amount of law and regulation in the world at that time (I choose the country), and I will pay you the average annual salary of the people in that nation for one year, provided that you live and work in that country for one year on that money alone, and send me a picture from there once a day.
Operators are standing by.

The Rise of Coyotes Spreads Lyme Disease

Coyote in Shenandoah National Park.  Video of coyotes 10 blocks from my house.

Scientific American reports that the spread of coyotes is driving the spread of Lyme Disease:

As coyotes take over their ranges in North America, red fox populations are plummeting, and researchers have found one surprising result: The drop is fueling the spread of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease cases have increased enormously in recent years: From 1997 to 2007, the number of cases increased by 380 percent in Minnesota, 280 percent in Wisconsin and 1,300 percent in Virginia. Researchers used to think the increases were due to increasing deer populations, since deer are an important host to the disease-causing bacteria. However, the new data show these increases were independent of deer population levels.

"Increases in Lyme disease in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States over the past three decades are frequently uncorrelated with deer abundance and instead coincide with a range-wide decline of a key small-mammal predator, the red fox, likely due to expansion of coyote populations," the researchers write today (June 18) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  "We found that where there once was an abundance of red foxes, there is now an abundance of coyotes," said study researcher Taal Levi, who completed the study as a part of his graduate work at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

I cannot say I am too surprised.  As I have noted in the past, red fox are a healthy engine of mouse destruction. It is not deer that are the problem with Lyme disease, so much as it is mice which are the core host.

The good news is that Lyme is actually harder to catch than most people think, and easier to cure too. Doxycycline is easy and cheap to acquire without a prescription, and useful for quite a lot.

A Reader Writes...

A Reader writes...

I'm sick and tired of hearing about how dumb people are in the South, and I challenge any so-called "smart" Yankee to take this exam:

1. Calculate the smallest limb diameter on a persimmon tree that will support a 10 pound possum.

2. Which of these cars will rust out the quickest when placed on blocks in your front yard? (A) '65 Ford Fairlane (B) '69 Chevrolet Chevelle (C) '64 Pontiac GTO

3. If your uncle builds a still which operates at a capacity of 20 gallons of shine produced per hour, how many car radiators are required to condense the product?

4. A woodcutter has a chainsaw which operates at 2700 RPM. The density of the pine trees in the plot to be harvested is 470 per acre. The plot is 2.3 acres in size. The average tree diameter is 14 inches. How many Budweiser's will be drunk before the trees are cut down?

5. A front porch is constructed of 2x8 pine on 24-inch centers with a field rock foundation. The span is 8 feet and the porch length is 16 feet. The porch floor is 1-inch rough sawn pine. When the porch collapses, how many dogs will be killed?

6. A man owns a Georgia house and 3.7 acres of land in a hollow with an average slope of 15%. The man has five children. Can each of his grown children place a mobile home on the man's land and still have enough property for their electric appliances to sit out front?

7. A 2-ton truck is overloaded and proceeding 900 yards down a steep slope on a secondary road at 45 MPH. The brakes fail. Given average traffic conditions on secondary roads, what is the probability that it will strike a vehicle with a muffler?

8. With a gene pool reduction of 7.5% per generation, how long will it take a town which has been bypassed by the Interstate to breed a country-western singer?

I did fine except for the woodcutting question. I don't drink beer, so I don't really know.

Sad Fish Story

A bow fisherman by the name of Brent Crawford shot this monster alligator gar in a lake near Corpus Christi, Texs.  This animal weighed more than 300 pounds, which would have been a record had it been hauled in for an official weigh.  More importanly, an alligator gar of this size is as rare as anything in America.  Without a doubt this animal was at least 50 years old.  Was shooting this amazing dinosaur of a fish worth the few crappy filets to be boned off of it?  I am all for hunting and fishing, but sometime the best shot is no shot at all. Picture from Corpus Christi Caller Times.

Digging on the Dogs

It was a beautiful day on the farm and Gideon found pretty quickly.  If the temperature would only stay like it was yesterday!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Death in the Duff

Mountain was working a groundhog in the hedge, but she could not quite reach it, and the soil was rock hard.  She was in a good location and so I just waited for her at the edge of the field, glad she was going to get a little energy wrung out of her before we went home. Gideon and I were already pooped from a dig just a few minutes earlier, but Mountain had had to play honor guard on that one. 

While we waited, I noticed a patch of fur and just a few feet away, small bones.  Can you guess what this creature was, based on skull and fur?

I now have a very complete skeleton in a bag -  backbone, ribs, leg bones, shoulders, hips, skull, even toe nails.  It's rare to get a skeleton as complete as this one is unless you've boiled the animal clean yourself.  I'm pretty sure I could articulate this one pretty well with nothing but a glue gun.  It would be a fun project for a grade school class.

Laughing and Cringing at "the Fancy"

Stories about the lunatic fringe in the world of dogs are carefully cut. They leave out the vast majority of average people who have one or two reasonably well-behaved and well-loved dogs that are fed bagged kibble from a bowl, and who sleep at the foot of the bed.

They leave out the working gun dogs, the working police dogs, the guide dogs for the blind, the side-kick dogs owned by lonely long-distance truckers, and the therapy dogs at nursing homes.


Television shows these days are rarely about presenting news; they're about presenting entertainment.

We want freaks and lunatics and odd people, and we want blood and horror and fast cars.

We want explosions, mafia bosses, naked girls, and detectives who solve who-dunnits.

We want canned laughter and stupidity on parade.

Stupidity on parade is not too hard to find with dogs.

Let's face it, there's no shortage of nut jobs who dress up their dogs, who consult dog psychics, and who even plan weddings and birthday parties for their "fur babies."

It's to laugh, and that's exactly what they do in a "A Different Breed," as you can tell from the Sky1 trailer shown in the U.K. back in March.

Here in America, HBO is taking a different turn. HBO aims to shock and outrage us with dog "stores of fear, loss and betrayal?"

In the first part of "One Nation Under Dog," to be shown tomorrow night, we will be presented with a man who has a massive sense of canine entitlement, and never mind if his large Rhodesian Ridgebacks are, quite literally, ripping the ears of the neighbor's kids.

For this fellow, his dogs are all about his personal property rights, and canine and community responsibility never much enter the picture.

The second segment is about puppy mills and kill shelters. The producers have decided to film several dogs being killed on camera -- adult dogs and puppies alike. Will they mention that killing these dogs was a choice and not a requirement? Will they give a nod to the No Kill movement? Will the producers talk about how the American Kennel Club depends on puppy mill registrations to keep dog shows going? We shall see.

Color me skeptical already.  You see, the canine kill numbers given in the trailer (see below) are simply wrong, and have been for years. Does this documentary film-maker not know that shelter killings have fallen like a rock? Will that fact even be mentioned, or does that bit of good news get in the way of the shock story they want to tell? We shall see.

The third and final segment in the HBO show is about conspicuous canine consumers -- the folks who shell out big bucks for doggie funeral plots, and who will spend jaw-dropping amounts of money to get their dead pets cloned, even as other dogs are being shoveled into the ovens down at the local shelter. These people will look like complete fools after the first two segments, and no doubt that is the idea. An easy hit.

I am told this HBO documentary closes with two feel-good stories about canine adoption. Nice, but will the documentary point out that more than half of the dogs being killed in U.S. shelters today are Pit Bulls, and that most people looking for a dog do not want this breed, and cannot (apparently) handle this breed when they do get it? Will there be talk about the breed-blind pit bull pushers who sabotage every effort to step in and stop the killing even as they ignore the fact that a million Pit Bull deaths a year is very much a breed specific problem? We shall see.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Training Yourself

Click to enlarge the graphic. 

This is about "how to change a habit," but it's really about using operant conditioning on yourself

Here's a question:  If your dog was training you, what would he train you to do better?  How about your spouse?  Your employer?  Your kids?  Your friends?  What habits do you want to add or subtract?

Genetically Modified Crops Bring Predators!

I live on genetically modified food, and you do you, and we both have been for decades. Surely you don't think cows, chickens, sheep, corn, soy and apples are found in the wild producing at the rate they do on the farm?

Here's the thing that the fear mongers will not tell you: genetically modified foods boost production and therefore take pressure off of wild lands so forest does not have to fall to field, and field does not have to fall to factory.

Here's another thing the fear monkeys will not tell you: genetically modified foods allow predators to come back to out fields... predators like the lady bugs, spiders, lacewings, and praying manti. Why is that a bad thing? Answer: It's not!

But don't believe me. Discover magazine tells the story:

In China, with Bt cotton reducing the need for insecticides, pest-eating bugs have rebounded and brought natural pest control with them.

China’s genetically modified cotton is not new. Farmers used to spray their cotton with a protein, naturally produced by the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria, which is toxic to certain insects. As research into genetically modified crops advanced, scientists implanted the cotton itself with the Bt genes that code for production of the insect toxin, creating so-called “Bt cotton” and alleviating the need for the sprayed insecticide. Since China approved its use in 1997, Bt cotton has proved itself particularly effective against the cotton bollworm moth, reducing the costs and side effects of spraying pesticides, but it has also decreased the number of non-pest insects compared with organic fields.