Saturday, May 31, 2008
Doug P. came up on Memorial Day and we went walking in field and forest a pretty fair distance over a few hours, but dug only just a little. That's the way it goes sometimes. Lots of holes, but not much home.
Mountain eventually found and we dug this fellow out, and I was back home by 2 pm to visit with the Misses at the pool.
This weekend I'm taking off from digging, and instead I am going up today to hit the American Sighthound Field Association's International Invitational at Morven Park about an hour up the road from me. Morven Park also happens to be home to the Museum of Hounds and Hunting (i.e. mounted fox packs).
God bless Virginia, land that I love.
- Vermont - enacted in 1777
- Alabama - enacted in 1996
- Minnesota - enacted in 1998
- North Dakota - enacted in 2000
- Wisconsin - enacted in 2003
- Louisiana - enacted in 2004
- Montana - enacted in 2004
- Georgia - enacted in 2006
A friend who knows of my casual interest in Internet culture sent me an email.
"Guess what?" he wrote. "There's an entire web site devoted to goofing on Internet trolls."
And, believe it or not, there really is.
It's called "Forumwarz."
The long and the short of it is that this is a game with a message. But you have to play it to get it. Oh, go ahead! It's just time -- the one thing you will be begging for more of on your last day on earth.
As I have noted in the past, the Internet is an inspirational place where millions of people reach out to locate kindred souls, share knowledge, and build worthwhile communities and information resources. Most of these people stand up straight, have real names, have real email addresses, do pretty solid research, and can look other folks in the eye.
Ironically, the Internet is also a sad place full of angry, pathetic and lonely losers who who seek to destroy community, sow confusion and spread disinformation. Most of these folks are anonymous cowards who do not have real names, do not have real email addresses, do not do any real research before typing , and who will never look anyone in the eye because they are fakes, fools, pretenders and bullshit artists.
Imagine my surprise to discover that this last group actually has a Wiki entry to describe them!
And yes, they really are called Anonymous Cowards.
Other terms that are apparently used are: "Anonymous Idiot" and "Random Fuckbag."
Lovely. And, of course, there is the old standard: Troll.
Run a blog, forum or web site and you will get such creatures showing up. They are like rats in a barn and they come in several forms: hit and run posters, cyber-bullies, flame-baiters and sock puppets, to name just a few.
Of course the Internet is increasingly international so "Random Fuckbag" has to find its equivalent in other languages.
And so I have recently learned the Spanish phrase: "Pendejo sin nombre," or "nameless asshole."
Cool. Very international.
But what about the other languages? What's the equivalent in French? In German? In Finnish? In Dutch? In Swedish?
A quick run at Google Translator suggested "anonymous coward" in Dutch (anonieme lafaard), French (lâche anonyme), German (anonymer Feigling), Swedish (anonym feg), and Croatian (anonimnih kukavica).
But how to begin to translate "Random Fuckbag"?
I decide "old condom" is about as close as I am likely to get with Google Translator, which obligingly suggests equivalents in Dutch (oud condoom), French (vieux préservatif), German (alte Kondo), Swedish (gamla kondom), and Croatian (stari kondom).
I know these phrases are not quite right and do not carry the necessary sauce for the goose. What is really needed here are foreign-language colloquialisms.
Sadly, however, the Internet has not yet been perfected to that level.
An "anonymous idiot" or "ashole" may work as descriptive insult in any language, but it lacks distinction as a result. "Random fuckbag" is handmade phrasing that is probably unique to the English language. It is idiom with at least a little bit of terroir left in it. It is language with legs.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Chilli is an enormous black and white Friesian bull, weighing 1.25 tons and standing at 6 feet 6 inches in height. What's a Friesian? Basically, it's a European-version of the Holstein.
Abandoned in 1999 on the doorstep of the Ferne Animal Sanctuary in Ferne, Somerset, England, when he was just 6 days old, the Guinness Book of Records says he may be the world's tallest cow.
One thing for sure: Chilli is a damn lucky bull. If this animal had gone anywhere else, he'd have been turned into hamburger (or steaks) long ago!
OK, so getting food advice from Penn & Teller is about like getting health care policy advice from Michael Moore ... But you know something? That turned out to be pretty good advice.
So there you go.
Which is not so say that everything you see on TV is true, even on a show called "Bullshit!"
It turns out the National Institute for Health (the authority cited), actually thinks the Atkins Diet is OK. Sure you croak early from clogged arteries, but you may die 10 pounds thinner!
Of course, I am not one to listen too carefully to NIH when it comes to diet -- they have been all over the map for five decades now and probably did thump the Atkins Diet when this video was made. When it comes to diet, maybe the NIH should just be quiet.
The bottom line, of course, is always the same in all things: live in moderation, avoid ideologues (on either side of the aisle), try to eat less and excercise more, and try to be nice to others.
Oh yes, and wash your hands and flush too. And don't litter. That is all.
"Lucky" Luciano teaching a lakeland terrier a trick. This picture was taken in Italy in about 1949, after Luciano -- one of America's most famous mobsters -- was deported back to Italy. This picture was part of a campaign to humanize Luciano so that the U.S. Government might let him back in. It didn't work.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Click to enlarge. This is a family tree showing how a "quagga"-coated Plains Zebra was created in just four generations. Source
Olivia Judson had a piece in yesterday's New York Times entitled Musings Inspired By a Quagga.
A quagga? The South Africa zebra? Now there's an interesting story. Surely any "musings" on that animal and its story would be full of insight!
My hopes were dashed, however. Ms. Judson had nothing to say about the quagga, and nothing new to add to the topic of extinction, ostensibly the topic of her piece.
Sadly, her "musings" read like notes of a romantic school girl who has just walked though a natural history museum for the first time. I doubt that is what she intended, but there it is.
For example, Ms. Judson mentions the quagga in her title, but seems unaware that this animal is not really a species of Zebra at all -- it is a subspecies, and a subspecies of the most common and variable type of Zebra, the Plains Zebra.
As an evolutionary biologist, Ms. Judson knows the difference between a species and a subspecies. And it's not like the world has raised the bar very high when it comes to designating a new species. Quite the opposite. When in doubt we split rather than lump species, if for no other reason than we can now sell the naming rights to a new animal or plant for as much as $2 million.
That said, there are limits to all things, and the quagga has crossed them. DNA analysis of old quagga skins by the Smithsonian Institution confirms that the quagga was not a separate species of zebra, but rather a simple color-variant of the Plains Zebra.
This information is not deeply hidden. In fact Lutz Heck (a scientist instrumental to the creation of the German Hunt or Jagt terrier) was the first to suggest in his book, Grosswild im Etoshaland (1955), that careful back breeding of Plains Zebras could produce an animal identical to the "extinct quagga" in a matter of a few generations.
Heck's theory was put into action in 1987 by Reinhold Rau, and quagga-coated zebras were being reproduced in less than 20 years time.
Did I mention that this information is not closely held? In fact, The New York Times has had long articles about it! Yes, the same New York Times in which Ms. Judson writes.
Ms. Judson's paean to wildlife extinction also fails to mention how few plants and animals have actually gone extinct in the last 500 years. The numbers here are quite different from what people think!
In fact, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), only about 800 vertebrate animals and vascular plants have gone extinct in the last 500 years, and of these only 70 were species of mammals (most of them mice, rats and bats), and even here there is some padding, as some of the species listed by the IUCN are demonstrably not extinct, including the quagga and Burchell's Zebra (to name just two). Furthermore, if you study this sort of thing carefully you find that today about as many "extinct" animals are being rediscovered every year as are being listed as "gone for good."
Please do NOT misunderstand what I am saying. I am NOT saying things are all fine -- far from it. A lot of wildlife and wild places are under very serious threat.
I am saying, however, that the situation is a bit more complex than Ms. Judson and some others would have us believe, and in the complexity is a more interesting story than what is now being told to us.
The real story is we have not (yet) destroyed the world, and we are doing quite a lot to protect what remains, and even bring some of it back from the brink.
Today in the U.S. we have more wolves, more buffalo, more bald eagles, more wild turkey, more peregrine falcons, more beaver, more cougar, more white tail deer, more grizzlies, more whales, more coyote, more osprey, more alligators, more red fox, and more raccoon than we did 30 years ago, 50 years ago, or even 100 years ago.
Today more wild land is being set aside in Africa, Asia and Latin America than you can imagine, and wildlife is being re-introduced into some areas where it was once extirpated.
Are things still grim for some species and some locations? Of course. But on land, at least, we are making real progress. In fact, the direction and velocity is astoundingly positive. Only in the oceans are we falling down on the job, and even here change is beginning.
If one is going to talk about lost animal and plant species, I also think we need to mention that we are probably creating more species today than we are actually losing. The fact that these new species are varieties of corn, rice, potatoes, bananas, cattle, pigs, chickens and fish does not make them less important to Mother Nature.
In fact, by any objective standard "miracle" rice and transgenic salmon are more valuable to the natural world (bees, bears, bunnies and barracudas) than any subspecies of Plains Zebra. The reason for this is simple: Only through increased agricultural production can the world decrease pressure on our remaining wild lands and wildlife.
Which brings me, in conclusion, to the most bizarre omission in Ms. Judson's piece: not a word about the speed of human population growth.
This is a odd because Ms. Judson's claim to fame is that she wrote a little book entitled Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex.
All the words are there -- sex, evolution, biology -- but Ms. Judson never seems to connect them up. And it's not like it would be hard to do when talking about the quagga and people. The human population of the world was 1.5 billion the day "the last quaaga went extinct." By 1930 world population had clicked past 2 billion, by 1960 three billion, by 1975 four billion, by 1987 five billion, by 1999 6 billion. When the quagga-coated Plains Zebra last disappeared, Africa had a population of 125 million people; by 2050 it is expected to have a population of 1.75 billion.
This is the big story -- the story that Judson does not even give a nod to. You see, we humans do not wake up every morning intent on fouling our own nest -- that's just what we do when there are too many of us living without income, knowledge, and technological capacity to lighten the load. That is the story of environmental destruction on this planet. This is the BIG story that Ms. Judson missed while wandering about in a museum musing about an extinct species that was, in fact, never a species and is, in fact, not extinct.
And the Harpy Eagle? It is not endangered as Ms. Judson and the museum claim. It is "near threatened" which is the category right next to "least concerned"
Which is to say the Harpy Eagle is "not threatened, but we're keeping an eye on it."
There's your story, and it's really not a bad story or a sad one, is it? Eyes wide open, we are now saving the planet, and almost all of it is still there to be saved if we get right on it.
And we are.
- Related Posts
** Thinking About Species Loss
** The Complete History of the World in 15 Seconds
** Mutant Fish in the Frying Pan
** Norman Borlaugh I Presume?
** When Population Growth Comes Homes to Roost
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
That's not an ordinary coyote!
This was taken with a camera trap in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.
The Monongahela National Forest borders the George Washington National Forest and and Jefferson National Forest, and combined these three forests operate as one huge enormous ecological zone covering 2.8 million acres spread over parts of three states -- Virginia, West Virginia and small parts of Kentucky.
The Monongahela by itself is over 919,000 acres. The Jefferson National Forest comprises lands located in Virginia (700,939 Acres), West Virginia (18,530 Acres) and Kentucky (1,083 Acres). The George Washington National Forest is comprised of lands located in Virginia (960,133 Acres) and West Virginia (105,099 Acres).
This 121-page report was commission by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and has a lot of information in it, including:
- In 2003-2004 there were 103,051 active trappers in the US
- The average trapper used 39 traps per day.
- The average trapper owned 112 foothold traps, 50 bodygrip traps, 3 padded foothold traps, 3 cage traps and 36 snares
- The primary species targeted for trapping was raccoon, followed by red fox, coyote, muskrat, beaver, mink, bobcat and grey fox
- In 2004, 35% of trappers targeted coyote, 35% red fox, 34% muskrat, 25% mink, 17% bobcat, and 14% grey fox.
- 60% of trappers surveyed had been contacted to trap nuisance wildlife
For the record: fox, raccoon, coyote, and beaver populations are at 100-year record numbers in the U.S., and populations of these animals are continuing to grow as they move out beyong their historical ranges. Trapping at current rates has no impact on state or regional wildlife numbers.
- Related Posts:
** Releasing Your Dog From a Trap
** Animals Rights Folks Developed the Dog-lethal Conibear Trap
** Modern Scientific Trapping
Steve - append your email address to the comments here -- I have lost your email address!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Read the whole thing, and then go to the link about Michael Keenan (picture at right from the Bad Rap blog) who was a pit bull owner and humanitarian who lost his own life in a fire while trying to rescue a Jack Russell terrier that was not even his.
Six years earlier Mr. Keenan had dived into San Francisco Bay to save a woman from a fully-submerged car after it went into the water.
Good heroic people tend to know good heroic people, and so friends and family of Michael Keenan have contributed to a small living memorial to enable some of the the pit bulls rescued from a recent Arizona horror-mill (PDF) to travel to California where they can be adopted.
Yes, Michael Keenan continue to save lives. If there is a heaven, Michael Keenan will no doubt be there, and the dogs will be too.
And his friends? They will be there in time. Of this, I have no doubt. In the meantime, hats off to both, and thanks to Bad Rap for telling the story. Donors to their cause are always welcome.
As for Michael Vick, he is in the Leavenworth, Kansas penitentiary. But don't expect him to change much; he is getting instruction in dogs from PETA-moron and canine-killer Ingrid Newkirk (no, I am not making this up), whose own "shelter" kills more than 90 percent of all animals that are surrendered to it, and who believes all pit bulls should be banned and euthanized.
Getting lessons in dog care from Ingrid Newkirk is like getting cooking lessons from Jeffrey Dahmer.
If Vick want to set things right, a few hundred grand (as an anonymous gift) to "Bad Rap" might be a place to start. .
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
It looks like there were just two fox in the yard last night -- No Neck and Skin Tail.
Skin Tail is no worse, and may be doing better, as it looks like there might be a little more fur on there now than there was a few months ago. If this is mange, it does not seem to progressing beyond his tail.
No Neck, as always, is looking fine and her neck is developing a little more tone. She is still a very young vixen.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Clashmore Mike trainer Dan Hanley puts the mascot through his paces
The original Notre Dame mascot was an Irish terrier. A series of dogs played the role, the first being a dog named "Tipperary Terrence" who was presented to Notre Dame head coach Knute Rockne in 1924. This dog was replaced by "Brick Top Shuan-Rhu" another Irish terrier, in 1930.
In 1933, Brick Top was replaced by a dog named "Clashmore Mike" who proved so popular and beloved that all successor dogs were given the same name.
Clashmore Mike was a splendid mascot as he could be used to great effect if made to do a series of simple tricks. At half time, for example, the handler would run Clashmore Mike around the stadium, and as he made his rounds he would stop and lift his leg on the opposing team's bench to howls of delight from the fans.
For the famous Navy-Notre Dame game, Clashmore Mike's handlers would announce that they had been feeding the dog goat meat all week long. In addition, the dog was trained to chase and attack any goat he came across, so that when the Navy goat-mascot came on to the field leading the Navy team, Clashmore Mike took after him at top speed, again to great howls of laughter and the embarrassment of Navy football fans.
Clashmore Mike was replaced as the school's mascot in 1965, when the Leprechaun became Notre Dame's official mascot. It was a great step down, in my opinion -- from reality to fantasy, and from a dog with character to a mere cartoon.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Sarcoptic mange is a common fox disease caused by a parasitic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei, which burrows into the skin, with infestations of several thousand mites per square inch possible.
Scabies mites secrete a yellowish waste that hardens into a thick crust on the skin, causing hair loss and (as infestations progress) lacerations and cracking of the skin. Chronic itching can cause the fox to bite and gnaw at itself, and the animal can become dazed from pain and lack of sleep. Weight loss from stress can be quite rapid, and organ failure is common. Death usually follows within six months of infestation.
One of the chief causes of mange in wild fox populations is too high a fox density. Mange mites can survive a long period of time in a den, which means that effective mange control requires fox dens to be unoccupied at least one year out of every two.
In areas where fox trapping and hunting is outlawed or discouraged, however, fox population densities will often rise to the point that some dens never lie fallow. In such situations mange mites colonize the den and parasitize generation after generation of foxes who die horrible and grisy deaths.
Death by mange is a long and nasty torture, and far more cruel than the swift death offered by a hunter's bullet or the swift chop of a working lurcher or hound.
Anyone who truely cares about animal welfare should favor a return to managed population control of animal species that have overshot their carrying capacity. Death is not an option -- all animals die. The only real question is how an animal will die and under what circumstances. Managing wildlife through regulated hunting is a far more humane alternative that death through disease, starvation and vehicle impact.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
"The Republican brand is so bad right now that if it were a dog food, they'd take it off the shelf."
--Rep. Tom Davis, (R-Virginia)
In other new bits and bites, I note that John McCain is trying to get America energized with REALLY ugly T-shirts sold at incredibly expensive prices ($50!!).
Now there's a marketing strategy!
For some reason, we are supposed to believe that T-shirts made from bamboo are better for the environment than those made from organic cotton.
And no, I am not sure why.
On the upside, you can get an entire Barack Obama action pack (a great looking T-shirt, a big car magnet, 5 bumper stickers, a rally sign, 5-buttons, and 50 stickers) for just $35.
Hmmm. What product and price structure says "elite" and which one says "real world?"
For those who want to make the most direct statement, you can do that by just clicking here.
White's Ferry as it is today.
White's Ferry as it once was.
I've penciled in a trip to Morven Park on the 31st to see the sighthounds run at the American Sighthound Field Association International Invitational -- should be fun, and give me a chance to tuck in to see what little is on display at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting which is in reduced state (never too large, I imagine), due to rehab of the mansion.
I may also visit a farm up at Purcellville where I used to dig, and visit an antique store or two. One of my favorite antique spots is up the road from Leesburg at Luckett's Store near White's Ferry, which is the last ferry across the Potomac River. After you cross the Potomac to the Maryland side, you are not very far from where I hunt my dogs most Sunday's. One of the places I hunt (now farmland) was formerly where the part of the Battle of Antietam was fought. There used to be 100 ferries operating on the Potomac, but White's is the last one and the barge that carries you across is called the Jubal Early, which gives you some idea you are still on the edge of South.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
I want to encourage every one of you who choose to live simply to do it on your own terms. There is no rule book for simple living, we all do it differently. I think that once you’ve got it in your mind to change from being a consumer to a conserver, many of the practical day-to-day things will come from your change in mindset. If they don’t, and you’re unsure about what to do next, just be