Sunday, August 31, 2008

Spring has sprung!

The photos were taken yesterday afternoon. Click on the photos to enlarge them.It's the first day of Spring today. Rain has been forecast for the next three days but I feel in my bones that we'll get showers today and then it will go back to fine weather. I wonder whose prediction will be right. ;- ) With the weather forecast in mind, Hanno and I worked in the garden yesterday afternoon,

Dolly Parton :: Big Wind


Saturday, August 30, 2008


From First Read (NBC):

[T]he Palin pick may signal that the McCain folks have concluded that "experience" as a message isn't a winning one, even though they spent the entire summer developing that argument. So they are hoping Palin helps redefine GOP ticket as change ....

The biggest negative about the pick is that on its face, it looks like a political gimmick, a political calculation. And McCain's supposed to be anything but a calculating or gimmicky pol. Indeed, as the Los Angeles Times wonders, isn’t McCain supposed to be the guy putting “country first” and not playing politics? The fact that McCain doesn't know Palin and spent all but a couple of hours getting to know her before making his pick is going to invite A LOT of judgment criticism. The perception is going to be that McCain panicked and wanted to do something radical to shake up the race. Well, he may have shaken up the race, but at the cost of undermining his best asset: that he was ready to lead. This decision doesn't look like it was well thought out, even as Palin has made a tremendous first impression.

Just how well was she vetted? There's going to be a race to define Palin, and while the McCain has bought time by shocking the world with the pick, there's going to be a lot of interest by the press to dig around in Alaska. And this “Troopergate” story is perhaps just the beginning. What's more, since she isn't well know, any little thing could get blown up pretty quickly.

Did anyone notice that there were more mentions of McCain's age yesterday than we've seen in months? Sure, yesterday was his birthday, and the VP pick was always going to serve as a reminder that McCain was seeking to become the oldest first-term president in history. But McCain's age has been an under-the-radar negative for him for some time (just check out any recent poll on the topic). Palin -- being an absolute unknown -- is going to get put through the "is she ready to be commander in chief?" test a little bit more than your average VP pick, simply because of McCain's age. And the more focus there is on McCain's age, the more political danger the campaign faces.


Let Them Eat Cake

Three years ago today.

Let us never forget.


McCain and Palin: A Question of Judgment

It's not clear how much John McCain knew about Sarah Palin before nominating her.

According to NBC News, McCain had only met Palin once before yesterday, and according to ABC News her selection was made hastily and with only a few days of proper vetting.

Apparently McCain wanted to nominate his friend "Traitor Joe" Lieberman, but his campaign consultants persuaded him that this would result in disaster at the Republican National Convention.

Instead, McCain's advisors suggested three other candidates that had been properly vetted: Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, former Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, and former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

McCain rejected all three candidates, saying they were "too boring" and that he needed to "shake things up."

And apparently he could not shake things up with competent Republican women like Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Olympia Snowe, or Susan Collins. No, he needed to find a faded ex-beauty queen like his wife.

The result: McCain selected a poorly qualified woman he did not know solely because of her gender and appearance. Yes, that's right: Sarah Palin is the ultimate affirmative action candidate.

But bad judgment and rash thinking are not problems unique to John McCain; they are also characteristics he shares with Sarah Palin.

It turns out that "maverick" is simply a nice term for being a reckless ego-besotted idiot.

Consider this story told by The Wall Street Journal yesterday:

Gov. Palin's opted to board a jet from Dallas in April while about to deliver a child. Gov. Palin, who was eight months pregnant, says she felt a few contractions shortly before she was to give a keynote speech to an energy summit of governors in Dallas. But she says she went ahead with it after her doctor in Alaska advised her to put her feet up to rest. "I was not going to miss that speech," she says.

She rushed so quickly from the podium afterwards that Texas Gov. Rick Perry nervously asked if she was about to deliver the baby then. She made it to the airport, and gave birth hours after landing in Anchorage to Trig, who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. "Maybe they shouldn't have let me fly, but I wasn't showing much so they didn't know," she says.

And we are supposed to put the fate of the nation in this woman's hands?

I would not let her take care of my children for the afternoon!.


Sarah Palin Is a Bridge to Nowhere

When John McCain trotted out Sarah Palin yesterday, she claimed she was qualified to be Leader of the Free World because she opposed a $400 million Alaskan pork barrel project called the "Bridge to Nowhere" which would have linked tiny Knik Arm and Gravina Islands to the mainland (they already had a fine ferry service).

There's only one little detail Ms. Palin left off of that story: It's not true.

In fact, Sarah Palin supported the Bridge to Nowhere because it was pure pork that Alaska could get through earmarks.

The Anchorage Daily News of October 22, 2006 carried a Question-and-Answer on her position on the Bridge to Nowhere less than two years ago:

5. Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?

Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now--while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.

And as for Sarah Palin's supposed "war on corruption,"
it seems to be a pretty tepid war.

Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, currently under indictment for bribery and corruption (along with his son and most of the rest of the Republican Party in Alaska) put out a press release yesterday saying:

"Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) today applauded Senator John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate on the Republican ticket.

And as for the notion that Palin is some sort of Republic Party reformer, it's pure nonsense. She was standing butt-cheek-to-butt-cheek next to Ted Stevens just 20 months ago, with four feet and her snout planted firmly in the feed trough of American politics.


Wasilla Barbie

Wasilla Barbie from My Chain Driven Ride Through Life in Alaska:

"This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt and Tweety-Bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's ass when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free."

Happy Birthday, John McCain

Happy Birthday, John McCain. At age 72, you would be the oldest person elected to a first term as President of the United States.

You would also be only candidate to ever enter office with four bouts of cancer under your belt already.

No worries though. It's not like your mind is going, is it? No memory lapses for you!

And look at the back-up person you have put in place for us -- a woman who has no experience at all! I'm sure she'll do a fine job.

Who's to say she won't? Let's just watch her tackle illegal immigration and dictators and strong men in North Korea, Iran and Pakistan.

I am sure straightening out Medicare and Social Security is going to be just as simple as getting a new stop sign put up in Wasilla.

No, we are in fine hands with her.

Thanks for taking so much time and care in handling that important decision, John McCain!

John McCain's New Dick Cheney

Is Sarah Palin a complete nutter?

Or is she just a small-town opportunist?

These are reasonable questions.

You see, Sarah Palin, the person-you-have-never-heard-of, who John McCain wants to make Vice President of the United States, supports teaching creationism in school, and she will not answer if she believes in evolution.

She refuses to talk about Darwin.

Can you imagine what America's science programs would look like if we did not actually teach science?

The Chinese are sure to be cheering this candidate on! How else to make sure they kick our ass for the remainder of the 21st Century?

Palin's logic and thought processes are the kind that can bend around corners.

For example, she is firmly "pro-life" and anti-choice, but at the same time she is also pro death penalty.

Apparently humans are only a "miracle of life" until they are born; after that they are a miserable burden, and can be terminated if incarceration costs the state too much.

Palin also supports the aerial shooting of wolves, even though Alaska residents have twice voted, via ballot measures, to ban such shootings. So much for democracy, and so much for Go'd original intent!

Palin also opposes protection of Polar Bears under the Endangered Species Act, arguing that there are lots of them, and never mind what scientists (and even the Bush Administration) has to say about the matter. Who needs science?

Palin also supports building a several-miles-across open pit gold mine on the edge of the largest Sockeye Salmon fishery in the world. The gold mining company she is pandering for is owned by the British and the Candadians -- and the money to be made will not even stay in this country. It will speed offshore with the speed of a wire transfer.

And, to cap it all off, last week Sarah Palin signed a bill to give $500 million of state tax money to a Canadian firm in order to build a pipeline.

A Canadian company? American tax dollars are now going to subsidize Canadian companies? Wonderful.

You Only Need 617 Votes to Be Mayor of Wasilla

Columnist Dermot Cole, writing in the Fairbanks, Alaska Daily News Miner says it plain and simple:

"Sarah Palin’s chief qualification for being elected governor of Alaska was that she was not Frank Murkowski.

"... She did not win because of her conservative credentials, her grasp of policy details or because of her track record as the mayor of Wasilla, an office she won in 1996 by collecting 617 votes.

"... in no way does her year-and-a-half as governor of Alaska qualify her to be vice president or president of the United States."


Friday, August 29, 2008

Countdown to Halloween

Here is the first look at my Countdown to Halloween for the October issue of polished. BOO!
13 is the "lucky" number for this salute to all things wicked that this way come. Full of tricks and treats and ghouls and sweets.

Coming this weekend: more sneak peeks of the Boo to You! Gathering.

How Does a Dog Drink Water?


Al Gore on Why Politics Is Important


The Next President of the United States

Click to enlarge.

Is Sarah Palin Ready for the 3 AM Phone Call?

In a brilliant choice of "stunt casting," John McCain has selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice President running mate. The announcement was made (and no, I don't make these things up) at The Nutter Center at Wright State University .

Palin, a former runner-up beauty queen with five children, has been Governor of Alaska for two years, and is married to a man who is 1/8 Yu'pik Eskimo.

Prior to her short tenure as Governor of Alaska (the state population is 670,000, smaller than that of Charlotte, North Carolina) Palin served on the City Council of Wasilla, Alaska (population 5,500) from 1992 to 1996, and was elected mayor of that hamlet in 1999. She has no economic experience, no foreign policy experience, no legislative experience, and has an undergraduate degree (no graduate degree at all) in journalism from the University of Idaho.

After being defeated in a run for Lieutenant Governor in 2002, Palin was appointed Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a post she held for less than two years before resigning to protest the "lack of ethics" of fellow Republican leaders in Alaska.

Palin's major claim to fame in conservative political circles is that she is an anti-choice right-to-life advocate who gave birth to a Down Syndrome child (her fifth child) in April of 2008.

For John McCain, of course, the chief attraction of Sarah Palin is that she is a woman, making her the ultimate affirmative action candidate, selected almost solely for her gender.

Palin's selection by McCain puts the question of drilling in ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) front and center. She and John McCain disagree on ANWR -- though in truth McCain has flip-flopped on so many issues this year that it's hard to know if he stands for anything any more. Palin also disagrees with McCain's good buddy, Joe Lieberman on ANWR. Will McCain tell Palin to be quiet about ANWR, or will John McCain fold on this issue, as he has on so many others?

Time will tell! In the interim, McCain has clearly abandoned the notion that experience matters.

As Michael Halperin at Time magazine puts it:

On the face of it, McCain has failed the ultimate test that any presidential candidate must face in picking a running mate: selecting someone who is unambiguously qualified to be president.

Palin is a talented politician who has both support among conservatives and a compelling personal story. But her short resume in Alaska politics and her nonexistent national track record will make it impossible for McCain to argue with a straight face that she was the most qualified person he could have selected.

In the short term, the pick will create excitement among the kind of grass-roots conservatives who have never been enthusiastic about McCain, and in the media, which will be fascinated by Palin's good looks (matched by those of her dishy husband), intelligence and charm.

But Palin is now going to have to perform at a very high level to persuade the media and the public that she is truly ready to be a heartbeat away — and a 72-year-old's heart at that — from the presidency. How she handles questions about federal issues, national security and foreign affairs will be closely scrutinized, and her margin of error is next to zero.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Greatest Nation at the Crossroads of Change

This time in America matters, this campaign matters, this candidate matters, your vote matters.

There comes a time in every person's life when their choice can make a difference.

This is that time. You are that person.

4 Please donate to the Obama campaign

"I'll end the War in Iraq responsibly... Finish the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan... Provide affordable health care for every American... Cut taxes For 95% of all working families... End dependence on oil from the Middle East in ten years... Invest $150 billion in renewable sources of energy over the next decade... Rebuild our military to meet future conflicts...."


Banana bread and butter pudding

Thank you all so much for the lovely, heartwarming comments made yesterday. Congratulations to the winners of the stitcheries - Sharonskan, Vickie and Julie. Please send me your postal addesses and I'll get them in the mail early next week.I had a few things to catch up on yesterday morning. I got the bedsheets washed and hung out to dry by mid-morning, remade the bed with fresh linen and warm

And the winners are...

I would like to congratualate the winners of Rhonda's 500,000 visitor giveaway. I printed all the comments and cut them up. I shrunk the print down to fit more per page so I will have a photo at the end with the names of the winners. First, a good mixing of the names... Drum roll please...Winner number 1 Winner number 2and, winner number 3, whose comment photo was eaten by Blogger.These winners

War Mongering for Israel

In the February 11, 2008 issue of American Conservative magazine (partial cover, above) conservative columnist and former Nixon, Ford and Ronald Reagan advisor Patrick J. Buchanan writes in an article entitle "The Great Betrayal":

Ike promised to "go to Korea" and ended that war. Nixon pledged to end Vietnam with honor. McCain says we may be in Iraq a hundred years and warns, "there’s going to be other wars." Take the man at his word.

Mimicking the Beach Boys’ "Barbara Ann," McCain has joked about "Bomb, bomb, bomb—bomb, bomb Iran" and urged the expulsion of Russia from the G-8. He wants to expand NATO to bring in Georgia and the Ukraine. This could mean confrontation between Russia and the United States over whether South Ossetia and Abkhazia should be free of Georgia or ruled by Tbilisi, a matter of zero vital interest to this country.

We are forewarned. John McCain intends to be a war president.

Where Bush has lately cleansed his administration of neocons, McCain offers the last best hope for a neocon return and restoration and more wars in the Middle East. And if, as seems probable, Bibi Netanyahu again becomes prime minister of Israel, he and a President McCain will find a pretext for war on Iran.

Now John McCain's campaign has put out a Iran war-mongering video.

So it seems Pat Buchanan was right. Though McCain's campaign slogan is "country first," it seems he has failed to tell us is that the country he has in mind is Israel.

And never mind the truth. We did not need the truth for George Bush to stampede us into a pointless war with Iraq, so why would we need the truth now when it comes to stampeding us into war with Iran? John McCain is pretty sure you're an idiot, and that "you can't handle the truth."

Of course, not everyone agrees. The folks over at thought you might want to know what Barack Obama really said, and so they have provided a transcript as an antidote to McCain's lies and deception. Here's what Barack really said:

Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries. That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela – these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying we're going to wipe you off the planet.

And, of course, Barack was right. Even the Bush Administration admits that; they have entered into discussions with Iran themselves.

But McCain is not interested in waging peace; he knows nothing about that, as he himself admits. He knows nothing about creating jobs or building economies. He is vague about geography, and shaky on the fundamentals of Medicare and Social Security.

What John McCain knows are the lyrics to "Bomb, Bomb Iran."

And no, as his own campaign video makes clear, he's not kidding. As Pat Buchanan himself said: Take the man at his word.

Elect this man President, and we will have $10 gasoline, debt without measure, and war without end.

What we will not have is peace in the Middle East. Ever.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How Dogs Came To Rule the World

No, it's not an article about either men or politicians. "How Dogs Came to Run the World" is the featured story in the July-August issue of Natural History magazine. >> Check it out.

500,000 visitors giveaway - FINISHED!

Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.I thought I had today to look for a giveaway but after I read all your delightful comments on yesterdays post, I glanced at the visitors figures and WOW! It's over 500,000. In fact, another 700 of you have waltzed right in to add to that score.I still find it hard to believe this blog is so popular. It has been a lesson in the making for me. It has

Wonder What Their Coefficient of Inbreeding Is?

People With Ostrich Feet - video powered by Metacafe

The Vadoma or Wadoma are a tribe living in the west of Zimbabwe, in the Urungwe and Sipolilo districts of the Zambezi river valley. They have few contacts with the Bantu majority surrounding them, and are deeply inbred.

One by-product of their inbreeding is that a very rare condition known as ectrodactylism occurs in a substantial percentage of the tribe.

Once the defective recessive gene for ectrodactylism occurred within the tribe (perhaps through spontaneous mutation), it swept through the closed and inbred population, and soon "doubled down" to express itself as "ostrich feet."

Old Testament Israelites knew this kind of thing could occur in inbred populations -- they had seen it in their own goat and sheep herds -- and so it is not an accident that in Deuteronomy 27:22 it says:

"Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother."

While in Leviticus 18:17 it says:

You may not take as wife a woman and her daughter, or her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter, for they are of one family: it is an act of shame.

Well, yes it is.

It is also a very risky practice to embrace in perpetuity as part of a closed registry system.

And yet, people with dog breeds that are riddled with cancer, dysplasia, epilepsy, and cataracts will tell you it's quite fine; that there is a difference between inbreeding within an isolated human population and inbreeding within a closed registry system of dogs.

But of course, it's a lie bathed in ignorance.

The human ego -- the watch spring driving the Kennel Club machine -- cannot undo the laws of genetics.

Mother Nature always bats last, and the rising levels of disease, deformity and defect within Kennel Club dogs is not an accident; it is the inevitable byproduct of the Kennel Club's embrace of the failed eugenics theories of 19th Century England.

But, of course, the Kennel Club could not do it alone.

It also needs scores of thousands of dog owners to continue to try to marginalize obvious defects within their breeds as simple byproducts of "bad breeding" and "backyard breeders" and puppy mills (and never mind if that it is demonstrably not true).

Surely, all we need to do is cull "the bad ones" they say, lighting the funeral pyre and sharpening the ax.

And what's all this talk about Kennel Club eugenics theories resembling those of Nazi Germany?

Surely no one is against euthenizing the deaf dogs that are the inevitable byproduct of breeding for merle and spotted coats?

And what are we to do with all these Greyhounds and Great Danes and Boxers that have the wrong coat color?

Those breeds have such enormous litters -- perhaps it's best if we just put a few of the "wrong ones" to sleep?

After all, those large dogs of the wrong color are so much more difficult to sell, and you know what happens if you give a dog away; they always end up in the pound. Perhaps it's better if we made sure these excess dogs were in a "safe and secure place" right at the beginning? Nothing wrong with that, is there? After all, we are trying to breed good dogs here. We are trying to improve the breed! And we will do it in a humane way -- a little shot at the vets or else a puppy placed in a plastic bag filled with party-store helium. The dogs go over the Rainbow Bridge in their sleep; there is no violence here. We even play Wagner so they remain calm and at peace right up to the end.

It is because we believe in improvement that we believe in breed purity. Purity is the goal. A pure thing is better than an impure thing.

And to make sure that goal is met, we not only keep meticulous birth records to make sure there is no breed mixing, but we also have breed clubs to serve as racial hygienists.

Surely no one is opposed to a little old-fashioned rassenhygiene?

And you know us. You know we are not bad people! We are good people! We care about the future of our breed! In fact, one index of how much we care is how much we are willing to spend at the veterinarians if our dogs get cancer ... or develop hip dysplasia ... or have perpetual skin conditions. We are bonded with our animals. Nothing but the best for them!

But no, we are not going to let our breed decline and become a mongrel breed. We will patrol for purity and uphold the standard: Not a drop of mixed blood will be allowed!

Pure Breeding Through Inbreeding Is Good Breeding

These guys clearly believe in pure breeding through inbreeding. Don't recognize them? These intelligent-looking fellows, along with two other members of the Aryan Nations, were arrested yesterday with two rifles with high-powered scopes, a bulletproof vest, wigs, walki-talkies, fake ID's, ski masks and methamphetamine.

They said they were in the Denver area and intended to assassinate Barack Obama on Thursday when he accepted the Democratic nomination in an open-air stadium.

One of the Aryan Nations members had a last name of Adolph (apparently his real name), and he jumped from a sixth floor window trying to escape the U.S. Secret Service. He was wearing a swastika-emblazoned ring when he was captured with a broken ankle.

For the Aryan Nations, coat color is very important, which is not too surprising. After all, the man that gave us the dog whistle is also the fellow that gave us the theory of eugenics, which serves today as the foundation rock upon which both the Aryan Nations and the Kennel Club's closed-registry breeding system are built.

Just look at these guys -- don't they look as fit as show ring German Shepherd and as robust as a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

No cross-breeding or race-mixing going on here!

Oh, and as for Barack Obama, have no worries: the police decided there was no real threat. Four Nazis with with two rifles, high-powered scopes, a bulletproof vest, wigs, walki-talkies, fake ID's, ski masks and methamphetamine might be nothing more than good old-fahioned cross-dressing deer hunters.

No worries. Carry on!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On the Upside, McCain is Really Good at Division



I wrote yesterday about my life and how I have changed. I want to take that a step further today and write about how you might simplify, if you haven't already done so. When I do something new that requires me to change my behaviour, I think about it for a while, work out the ins and outs of it, I might do some reading, think some more and then I dive in. Often the diving is the most difficult

Monday, August 25, 2008

Making and Breaking Dogs In the Show Ring

The story of Kennel Club dogs is pretty much the same from one breed to the next:

  1. A relatively small numbers of dogs are brought into the Kennel Club;
  2. The registry is closed so no new genetic material can find its way in;
  3. The show ring selection system results in a relatively small number of dominant (ribbon-winning) sires being elevated in the gene pool;
  4. The breed splits due to differences between types (coat color, size, lay of the ear), further reducing the already-small gene pool;
  5. An extremely condensed gene pool (10,000 dogs may have the genetic diversity of 50) means that negative recessive genes are able to easily find each other and double down within a litter, resulting in offspring with disease or deformity.

With any Kennel Club breed, the only three variables in this story

  1. The genetic quality of the dogs in the original Kennel Club pool;
  2. The length of time the dogs are in the Kennel Club, and;
  3. The degree to which the breed standard calls for negative morphological selection.

The genetic quality of the original Kennel Club pool is obviously important, but it cannot provide salvation, for even a pool of dogs without negative genetic traits is doomed under a closed registry and show-ring selection system.

The reason for this is the pairing of two phenomenon called genetic mutation and genetic drift.

Most genetic mutations are recessive, and remain unseen and unexpressed in the form of visible defect. In a large and "wild" population of animals most of these negative genes will "drift" out of the population just as they drifted in.

In a closed registry system with a relatively small number of dogs, however, negative recessive genes can quickly find each other and spread through the population -- especially if they are passed on by a show-winning sire with many offspring.

The result is a rapidly rising level of "spontaneous" disease and deformity out of what was once thought of as a "healthy" population of animals.

Time is a variable in the Kennel Club destruction process for the simple reason that some breeds have not been in the Club long enough to be completely wrecked.

It takes time (about 50 years in practice) for a small, but diverse population to become inbred to the point that recessive genes start to dominate, resulting in a noticeable increase in infecundity, mortality, deformity and disease.

Negative morphological selection is the third variable, and the easiest to see because it is so extreme and so overt.

Negative morphological selection is simply the practice of show ring breeders and Kennel Club standard writers to positively select for negative health traits.

These negative health traits include (but are not limited to) extreme size (very small dogs or very large dogs), dwarfism, bizarre hip angulations, overly wrinkled skin, flat faces, massive heads, and the elevation of certain coat colors (such as merle) and eye colors (blue) which are linked to deafness.

Contrary to what some folks think, the history and health problems of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the German Shepherd, the Pug, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback, to name a few of the dogs shown in the BBC special Pedigree Dogs Exposed, are not unusual -- only the degree to which they are easily visible to the naked eye.

Nor is a genetic bottle neck within a breed unusual in the Kennel Club. In fact, it is what the entire system is designed to do. Hence the name: "pure breed."

Genetic diversity is the opposite of what the Kennel Club wants -- what they want is "conformity" to a beauty show standard. Hence the name "conformation show."

Below are links to Kennel Club health survey results. I have selected one breed from every canine group, but you can see other breeds here.

Overall, The Kennel Club reports that of the 36,006 dogs surveyed, 37.4% had at least one reported health condition, and that the average age of the dogs surveyed was just five years.

Of the health problems reported, 14.4% were reproductive (Pyometra, false pregnancy, dystochia, infertility, cryptorchid, irregular heats), 12.9% were musculoskeletal (arthritis, cruciate ligament injury, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation), 10.5% were dermatologic, and 9.6 were ocular (cataract, entropion, corneal ulcer, epiphora, KCS, cherry eye, distichiasis).

And to repeat: Nearly 40 percent of dogs had one more more health problems even though the average age of the dogs in question was only 5 years old!

Scottish Terrier (PDF) - Terrier Group

  • The median age at death for Scottish Terriers was 10 years and 3 months.
  • More than 47.5% of deaths were from cancer.
  • In a dog population with a median age of 4 years and 11 months, 46% were reported to have at least one reported health condition. Of these conditions, 28.3% were issues or reproduction (dystochia, infertility; infertility; pyometra; agalactia; vaginitis), 15% were dermatological, and 11% were respiratory.

The Flat-coated Retriever (PDF) - Gundog Group
  • The median age at death for Flatcoated Retrievers was 9 years and 10 months.
  • More than 54% of deaths were from cancer.
  • In a dog population with a median age of 5 years, 41% were reported to have at least one reported health condition. Of these, 15.2% were musculoskeletal (arthritis; patellar luxation; lameness, dysplasia, spondylitis), 13.1% were benign neoplasia(lipoma; histiocytoma; cysts; fibroma; granuloma), 12.0% were reproductive (false pregnancy; pyometra; irregular heat cycles; dystochia), 9.8% were dermatological, 8.3% were gastrointestinal (bloat, colitis; foreign body obstruction; pancreatitis), and 7.8% were ocular (distichiasis, goniodysgenesis, entropion, glaucoma).

Bernese Mountain Dog (PDF) - Working Group
  • The median age at death for Bernese Mountain Dogs was 8 years.
  • More than 45% of deaths were from cancer.
  • In a dog population with a median age of 4 years, 46% were reported to have at least one reported health condition. Of these, 31.5% were musculoskeletal (arthritis, dysplasia), 13.9% were reproductive (pyometra; false pregnancy; dystochia, infertility), 9.4% were dermatological, 8.4% were gastrointestinal, and 6.4% were ocular.

Deerhound (PDF) - Hound Group
  • The median age at death for Deerhounds was 8 years and 8 months.
  • More than 24% of deaths were from cardiac problem, with cancer accounting for an additional 18.8% of deaths.

  • In a dog population with a median age of 4 years and 2 months, 32% of dogs had at least one reported health condition. Of these, 17.5% were reproductive (pyometra, vaginitis, dystochia), 14.8% were musculoskeletal (arthritis, dysplasia), 13.2% were gastrointestinal (bloat, diarrhoea), and 10% were respiratory.

Border Collie (PDF) - Pastoral Group

  • The median age at death for Border Collies was 12 years and 3 months.

  • More than 23% of deaths were from cancer. Another 9.4% were from strokes, and 6.6% from cardiac issues.
  • In a dog population with a median age of 5 years, 29% were reported to have at least one reported health condition. Of these 18.6% were musculoskeletal (arthritis, lamenes, dysplasia), 14% were reproductive (dystochia, false pregnancy, cryptorchid), 11.6% were respiratory, 8.7% were dermatological.

British Bulldog (PDF) - Utility Group

  • The median age at death for Bulldogs was 6 years and 3 months.
  • More than 20% of deaths were from cardiac issues, with an additional 18.3% from cancer, 4.4% from respiratory failure, and 4.4% from strokes.
  • In a dog population with a median age of 3 years and 1 month, 46% were reported to have at least one reported health condition. Of these, 31.6% were ocular (cherry eye, entropion, dry eye, corneal ulcer), 15.2% were dermatological, 10.8% were reproductive (dystochia, infertility, false pregnancy, cryptorchid, pyometra), 10.4% were respiratory, 9.2% were musculoskeletal (arthritis, lameness, dysplasia, patellar luxation).

Pekingese (PDF) - Toy Group

  • The median age at death for Pekingese was 11 years and 5 months.
  • More than 23% of deaths were from cardiac issues, and another 9% were from neurological issues.
  • In a dog population with a median age of 5 years, 37% were reported to have at least one reported health condition. Of these 20.4% were issues or reproduction (infertility; false pregnancy; cryptorchid; agalactia; eclipse; mastitis; pyometra), 13.9% were neurologic (intervertebral disc disease, deafness), 11.1% were dermatological, 10.2% were respiratory, 8.3% were ocular, and 7.4% were cardiac.

Clearly, different breeds have different health issues, but just as clearly, none of the breeds listed can be said to be problem free.

In fact, the breeds listed above, are so often fraught with problems that they would be subject to massive class action litigation and product recalls if they were a manufactured commodity.

So how does the Kennel Club get away with a business plan that guarantees that most dogs sold "with papers" will die sooner and have more expensive health conditions than most run-of-the-mill mutts?

The answer can be found in the all-absolving language to be found on The Kennel Club's web site which says that:

"The Kennel Club makes no warranty as to the quality or fitness of any puppies offered for sale and can accept no responsibility for any transaction between purchaser and vendor arising from publication of the listing."

In short, the Kennel Club offers no warranty and accepts no responsibility for the genetic wreckage you may be about to buy.

Good luck, and you're on your own.

And don't let us know if it doesn't work out!

"Parson Russell Terriers" go to the show. And never mind that the Reverand Jack Russell refused to register his own dogs. To read more about the history of this breed, click here.

Best Quote of the Day

Roger Ailes, writes:

"The McCain campaign keeps emphasizing that McCain was a prisoner in Vietnam, as proof of his qualification for the Presidency. Well, so was Gary Glitter, and I'm not voting for him either."

Ailes also says

"Obama/Biden is a better ticket than McCain/Anyone"
I couldn't agree more! A hat tip to Dr. H for the Ailes quote.

Don't be afraid to simplfy

When I was growing up it was a commonly held belief that if you did well at school, worked hard and made a lot of money, you would live a life of ease, confident in the knowledge that you could buy whatever you wanted and happiness would follow close behind. Most of us swallowed that hook, line and sinker but when it came down to it, having it all didn't make us happy.I've often written about

Yard Visitors Last Night


Genius at Work


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Top 10 Songs With "Dog" In the Name

A repost from Sept, of 2008.
  1. Hound Dog, Elvis Presley
  2. The Dog Song, Nellie McKay
  3. I Love My Dog (As Much as I love You) - Cat Stevens
  4. Walking the Dog, Rufus Thomas
  5. Even a Dog Can Shake Hands, Warren Zevon
  6. I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treat Me) Bobby “Blue” Bland
  7. If Dogs Run Free, Bob Dylan
  8. Dirty Ol' Egg-Sucking Dog, Johnny Cash
  9. Hey Bulldog by The Beatles
  10. Wild Pack of Family Dogs by Modest Mouse

Did I miss some?
Of course!
How about Gonna Buy Me a Dog by The Monkees? Or Everything Reminds Me of My Dog by Jane Sibbery? Or Me and You and a Dog Named Boo by Lobo? Or Black Dog by Led Zeppelin? Or Walking the Dog by Aerosmith? Or Dog On Wheels by Belle and Sebastian? Dog Eat Dog by Adam and the Ants? Or Yellow Dog Blues by Bessie Smith? Or the haunting Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War by Paul Simon? Or the haunting Ghost of a Dog by Edie Brickell (Paul Simon's wife and the voice of The New Bohemians)?

And then there are the great songs about dogs that do not have dog in the title, such a Ol' Red by Blake Shelton or Old King by Neil Young. Or the twisted Dead Puppies by Dr. Demento, or Fido your Leash Is Too Long by The Magnetic Fields.
And where do you place The Bitch is Back by Elton John, with pole dance by Pamela Anderson?
Others? Add them in the comments!

The only requirement is that the song be on Youtube.

Good Things

Here are some of my favorite things. First a photo of dear friends, Pam, Kathy and Sarah at the last Gathering in July. The rain had forced us into the garage to paint. No one seemed to mind one bit. The laughter was just as sweet. Next is just one of the dozens of beautiful vignettes Penny has in her home in Franklin, TN. Angela is on the front porch of her friend Neena's shop in Leipers Fork TN. Angela and Penny both sell their primitives in Neena's shop. They have found a wonderful new friend who shares their love for all things primitive. Check out their creations at Look for Olde Raggs USA, and Henny Penny Prims.

Check back later in the week for more info on Boo to You! and some surprises.

The Down to Earth book

The Down to Earth book is going ahead. My agent thinks there is a lot of potential so we are preparing a proposal for the publishers. We'll try the North American market first, then Australia and maybe Europe. It's so exciting! I'll tell you more about it as I get further into the process of preparing the manuscript.I have to thank a good friend, Linda Nichols, who helped me along the path

The Kennel Club Protects and Preserves Failure

The U.K. Kennel Club is trying to protect and preserve failure -- dog breeds that were created in the last 130 years or so that have simply failed to catch on.

The numbers above, show the number of puppies of select "endangered" breeds that were registered with the Kennel Club last year.

Those of you with an eye might notice the greyhound on the list.

What? The greyhound is NOT endangered -- they are a dime a dozen!

Ah yes, but you are talking about non-registered greyhounds. You are talking about working greyhounds. You are talking about ruffians -- dogs that either hang out at the track all dog long, or else poach their dinner in the fields.

You are not talking about -- sniff, sniff -- pure bred greyhounds. Greyhounds with papers. Dogs with pedigrees. Dogs with enough money that that they do not have to work.

Work is so common.

The Kennel Club is not concerned with common dogs or working dogs. They are concerned with noble dogs. Dogs with pieces of paper. Dogs with registrations.

And with these dogs we have a crisis.

It seems that no one wants a Kennel Club greyhound. If you ask folks about it, everyone says the same thing: the Kennel Club dogs are expensive and complete shit as workers go.

Why buy a poorly made Kennel Club knock-off of the real thing when the real thing is still well made and available anywhere, and can run like the wind?

You wouldn't, and neither would anyone else, it seems.

Much the same story is true for the rest of the dogs on the list. The miserable Glen of Imaal Terrier is a dog far too large to work, and its legs are a bowed mess, as the above picture shows. And let's not talk about the genetic diseases here!

The Skye Terrier is another dog that needs to be pushed off the cliff -- nothing but a dust mop attached to a never-ending veterinary bill.

The Manchester Terrier is a dog that never offered anything special to the world. Any dog can rat. The Manchester is a breed with a distinction without a difference -- a dog dealer's dog if ever there was one.

As for Field Spaniels, are any registered dogs actually found in the field? Apparently not. Are any registered Smooth Collies actually found with a shepherd and his sheep? Apparently not.

Hmmmm. As I recall, people are still shooting birds in the field, and they are still herding sheep. What's up?

I will pretend no expertise on shooting dogs and sheep, but I can tell you that no registered Sealyhams are found in the field, even though there's no shortage of folks digging to fox, badger, groundhog, and raccoon in the U.K., U.S,. Canada and the rest of Europe. The work is still being done, but the heavy-bodied, soft-coated, and over-large show Sealyham is not being asked to do it.

Hmmmmm. . . .

Could the problem be with the Kennel Club standard and the Kennel Club rosettes to ruin system?

Heaven forbid! No!

The problem must be the foreigners!

Those damn foreigners are taking away jobs from British dogs! Or at least that the's train of nonsense being pushed on the good reporters over at The Independent newspaper.

But there is good news says the Kennel Club and the sages at The Independent:

"That most British of British breeds, the bulldog, is going from strength to strength, according to the Kennel Club figures."


A bow-legged, barely walking, always farting, hardly breathing, skin-disease plagued dog is being heralded as "the most British of British breeds."

And the Kennel Club is celebrating this "achievement?"

Say no more. Which way to the final exit?


Saturday, August 23, 2008

The "Accredited Breeders" Scheme Is a Farce

The lead article over on K-9 Magazine's web site is ...

Also up on K-9 Magazine's web site is a quick look at the farce called the "Accredited Breeders Scheme ":

  • The Kennel Club Accredited Breeder Scheme Exposed
    In 2004 The Kennel Club set up the Kennel Club Accredited Breeder Scheme. Four years on we ask, is it working?

    "Not only can someone who isn't a dog owner become an accredited breeder with the Kennel Club's seal of approval, but people who have never before bred a litter can also gain membership.

    "Elbow scoring is not a requirement for breeders that are accredited, it is merely a recommendation -- meaning that breeders who are not concerned about their dogs passing on genetic defects such as elbow dysplasia are still accredited by the Kennel Club. Only a small percentage of breeders that are accredited are subject to home inspections -- meaning that the vast majority of accredited breeders are operating outside of the scrutiny of the organisation that is accrediting them .... The main benefit for breeders that are part of the scheme is that they can advertise themselves as accredited .... One must question whether the puppy buying public is fully aware of how high, or indeed low to give it another slant, the actual standards are to become accredited? It is entirely conceivable that the buyer of a puppy could have more canine experience than the accredited breeder, which seems ludicrous. "

Pharaoh Says Moses Not Ready to Lead

Sometimes Pharaoh forgot how many pyramids he owned.

But he never forgot his message of hope:

"If you liked Egypt, you'll love 100 years in Iraq."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vet Lecture 101: Kennel Club Selecting for Defect

This video is from the British Veterinary Association and features veterinarian Emma Milne (author of The Truth about Cats and Dogs).

Watch it, and listen carefully, as she details examples of selection for pathology.

"The fact is that breeders, by the very demand of the breed standard, have to select for disease and ill health.

Every single wrinkle, every bowed leg, every long back, and every short face are all unhealthy abberations of human selection which would never exist in nature.

The traits that represent the breed standard should be seen for what they are -- and this is my big thing. We should not be saying "that's what a pug looks like", "that's what a dachshund looks like."

These traits are detrimental deviations from the starting point of a propotioned normal animal full of hybrid vigor. Breeds such as a bulldogs with incredibly high levels of
dystocia, would disappear within a couple of generations were it not for veterinary intervention. Let alone the number of animals suffering from skin and ear disease, joint disease, neoplasia, heart disease, and respiratory insufficiency and distress due to obstruction, which all require veterinary intervention to alleviate suffering and improve welfare, purely because of their breed type. ....

I believe it is time we face facts and realize that some of these breeds have to be outcrossed, and some of them must disappear alltogether because their welfare is so bad."

The Kennel Club: When Truth is Inconvenient, Lie

"Ms. Caroline Kisko of The Kennel Club is a liar, and she's not even a very clever or smart liar -- merely a blatant and bold one.

But don't take my world for it.

You can read The Kennel Club's own web site and find the results of their own breeder's survey

What do you do when truth is inconvenient, and keeping membership and income up requires telling a bold lie?

Well, if you are The Kennel Club you lie, of course. And, As Joesph Goebbels's so infamously said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

Which seems to be the The Kennel Club's plan in the wake of the BBC's airing of Pedigree Dogs Exposed.

Instead of looking inward, The Kennel Club's entrenched bureaucracy has decided to try to "manage the controversy" through disinformation.

In short, they are lying and they hope people like you will remain ignorant and believe it.

Taking a page from Public Relations 101, The Kennel Club first tried to "get out ahead" by putting out a press release, claiming the producers of Pedigree Dogs Exposed were prejudiced.


My God, do these people have no insight at all? Perhaps a dictionary, at the very least?

You see, the Kennel Club had not even seen the BBC documentary and they were already denouncing it -- the very definition of prejudice.

Besides, when has the Kennel Club ever opposed prejudice?

Prejudice is The Kennel Club's raison d'etre. It is why they were created, and it is the fundamental underpinning of the Club.

The Kennel Club's entire basis of existence is prejudice against dogs that have the wrong set of papers ... the wrong coat color ... the wrong arc of the tail ... the wrong nose color.

Who cares if the dog is healthy or can do the job? A dog is to be judged solely on paper and solely on looks.

Having attacked the messenger in the most laughable way possible (especially laughable in light of the fact that the BBC is the chief television sponsor of Cruft's), The Kennel Club then rushed out to hire an expensive public relations company to put together a web site.

Now, here's the delicious part: The public relations firm that The Kennel Club hired apparently knows nothing about dogs, and as a consequence they unintentionally illustrated the web site with dogs that are genetic wrecks due to Kennel Club inbreeding.


For example, we have a Dalmatian on the "splash page" of the web site, and never mind the astounding levels of deafness with Dalmatians.

We have a blue-eyed sled dog on another page (a Husky, I think), and never mind the deafness gene associated with blue-eyed dogs.

And, of course, we have a pair of Great Danes -- a dog so beset with cancer, bloat and other issues, that most of the dogs in this breed are dead by age 8.

So what did The Kennel Club do next to "manage the crisis"?

Well, believe it or not, they trotted out Caroline Kisko, the Club's Secretary, to be the "liar for hire" at the level of press, television, radio and internet.

Why Ms. Kisko? I have no idea, other than Ronnie Irving seems to have shot his credibility into the crapper by saying he does not give a damn about science.

Ms. Kisko is quoted on The Kennel Club's apology site as saying that "90 percent of dogs will not suffer from health problems that have a detrimental impact on their quality of life."

Right. And the moon is made of Swiss cheese.

In fact, Ms. Caroline Kisko of The Kennel Club is a liar, and she's not even a very clever or smart liar -- merely a blatant and bold one.

But don't take my word for it.

You can read The Kennel Club's own web site and find the results of their own breeder's survey (PDF).

In that survey The Kennel Club notes that "Health information was reported for 36,006 live dogs, of which 22,540 (62.6%) were healthy, and 13,466 (37.4%) had at least one reported health condition."

More than 37% of dogs had "at least one" health condition???


When you consider that the average age of the dogs in question (healthy and unhealthy dogs combined) was just 5 years old, what you are looking at here is an extraordinary level of disease, deformity, and misery in Kennel Club dogs.

But apparently, Ms Caroline Kisko does not care about that truth.

No, she is paid to do a job, and never mind the dogs. She has been given her marching orders.

I am not, of course, the first person to point out that Ms. Kisko's bold assertions about the health of Kennel Club dogs do not jibe with their own data.

So how does Ms. Kisko reconcile her lies against The Kennel Club's own published survey data?

Simple: she simply says a lot of genetic defects do not matter.

And you will be astounded and amazed at what does not matter according to Ms. Kisko!

For example Ms. Kisko says congenital cataracts do not "materially affect" a dog’s life and so they can be wiped off the defect list.


Congenital cataracts do not affect a dog's life?

Really? What dog is she talking about?

Now here's an idea: How about we rub a little nitric acid into Ms. Kisko's eyes in order to cloud the lenses (all with her permission, of course), and see how she thinks about it then?

I bet the answer changes pretty darn fast!

Of course, Ms. Kisko is not finished, is she?

No, she cannot be finished, you see, because backing out the data on hereditary cataracts alone does not move the numbers down far enough.

More hereditary problems need to be pushed off to the side -- problems like hip dysplasia and epilepsy, for example.

So what does Ms. Kisko do? How does she achieve this?

Simple. Ms. Kisco unilaterally decides that 85 percent of the dogs reported in the breeder's survey that are suffering from hip dysplasia and epilepsy are, in fact, FINE because she supposes that these conditions might not result in premature death or cripple a dog too badly.


Don't worry about hip dysplasia? Don't worry about epilepsy? Who cares if the dog is in pain and has to have surgery? Who cares if the dog is on pain relievers its entire life and cannot be ethically bred? Who cares if the dog is on benzodiazipam its whole life to control seizures?

According to Ms Kisko, as long as the dog is alive, everything is fine.

Right. I would offer Ms. Kisko the opportunity for her to meet one of my old Italian friends who might do a small procedure on her that will partially destroy one of her knee or hip joints. All voluntary, of course. No threat. Pure science. A little "proving of the theory" if you will.

Then, after a Black and Decker drill has wrecked her knee or hip we will get a doctor to write Ms. Kisko a lifetime prescription for prednisone and we will get a willing veterinarian to write a prescription for a Cox-2 inhibitor like rimidyl.

Now I know rimidyl is illegal for use in humans, but I am quite sure Ms. Kisko will agree to an off-label exception in this case just to prove the point that knee and hip joint destruction is really "no big deal."

Come on Caroline; lets do it for science!

Of course, if Ms. Kisko begs off, I will understand.

Ronnie Irving talked a good game about there being no problem with father-to-daughter matings until he was asked if he would have sex with his own daughter and produce a baby from the union!

Talk about a man terrified of a question!

He recoiled like a frog from a blowtorch ....

. . . . or like a Kennel Club spokesperson from a whirling Black and Decker drill placed right at her knee.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Here are just two of the smaller projects we will be making in Boo to You! Remember supplies are included in all Gathering classes. The other big news is this Gathering is scheduled to be featured in a wonderful local magazine. More details about that later on.
I will be showing some more sneak peeks in the next week, but I do want to leave some surprises. There are seven scheduled projects so far in Boo To You!, what a great value.
If the weather is good, we will be dining out in the garden, and the soups and artisan breads will set the mood for fall.
Hope you will join me. Because of the magazine shoot, I will be closing registration earlier. I will give you at least two days notice of closing.

Sneak Peek

Back in the vegie patch

There is good news from yesterday. Hanno's doctor said he thinks he can be treated for the glaucoma with drops, and these started last night. The other eye with the cataract and bleeding retina is being monitored. He said he wants to see if the bleeding stops by itself, apparently it often does. Hanno has to go back to check the progress of the treatment next month. I want to thank everyone

Best Miltary Dog Ever


BBC: Pedigree Dogs Exposed

Below are links to the BBC show Pedigree Dogs Exposed. It is, as the producers correctly put it, "the greatest animal welfare scandal of our time."

Watch the whole thing. And then read Inbred Thinking for a little history of how we got into this mess.

As for producer Jemima Harrison, hat's off! You have put into video the true story of the Kennel Club, and you have held up the camera lens as a mirror.

If it looks ugly, it is because it is ugly.

If it looks immoral, it's because it is immoral.

If it looks ignorant, it's because it is ignorant.

And you want to know the hilarity of it? The ugliness, immorality and stupidity does not stop! In response to this show, The Kennel Club has gone out and hired a publicity machine which is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars buying "Google search terms" in order to steer people to the Kennel Club's site where ... wait for it ... a Dalmatian is the entry point graphic.

A Dalmatian! A breed beset by congenital deafness, and where bad temperament is a way of life!

A Dalmatian! The mind reels.