Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Down to the River

Using stock film footage from BBC nature films, this video follows God's most amazing natural creations of water and wildlife. The images are set to Alison Krauss' haunting acapella rendition of "Down in the River to Pray."


A room with a view

Of all the household tasks I do every week, ironing is the one I struggled with the most. I have tried it every which way, and nothing seemed to help me squeeze any joy from it. In the end, I defied my own advice and did it quickly while watching TV. pffffffffffftHowever, progress has been made. I hate giving up or giving in to anything. I have pushed and prodded ironing, I've moved from

Terrier Vs. Shark

A two-year-old rat terrier, swimming off a dock in Florida, is nailed by a shark and then the shark is nailed with a fist by the owner.

Prison Escape

If You Want Change, You Have to Vote for It


John McCain is now a proven failure as leader of his own party.

    On Sunday, on NBC's Meet the Press, John McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt prematurely crowed:

    "What Senator McCain was able to do was to help bring all of the parties to the table, including the House Republicans, whose votes were needed to pass this."

    Of course, that's NOT what happened.

    What happened was that House Republicans retreated from John McCain's "leadership."

    They wanted nothing to do with it.

    And the numbers prove it.

    Though this bailout package had a Republican President and a Republican Secretary of the Treasury pushing the deal, only 32.66 percent of GOP Congressmen voted for the bailout, as opposed to 59.57 percent of Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

    John McCain could not deliver the votes, and neither could Rep. John Boehner or George W. Bush. John McCain, in facct could not even deliver a single Arizona Republican!

    Nancy Pelosi made the calls and, as a consequence she got her Party in order.

    But the GOP remains leaderless and ruddlerless and without a moral force.

    It is adrift, shrouds rattling, cannonballs careening on deck, with an ancient gimlet-eyed Ahab in the wheel house changing direction every 20 minutes.


    After the vote, the Dow Jones dropped 777-points as the GOP killed the bailout deal -- in effect erasing (in one day!) all the stock market gains of the last eight years.

    The 777-point plunge surpassed the 721-point decline set the day after the stock market opened following the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

    That said, the plunge was not that huge: about 7 percent. I was around 20 years ago when the market plunged 22 percent in a single day. Seven percent is just a wake-up call compared to that.

    Even before the 777-point stock market drop, the public were warming up to the bailout deal according to Rasmussen polling, which found that 33% of of Likely Voters now favor the plan, while 32% are opposed and 35% are not sure. On Friday, just 24% of voters had supported the plan while 50% were opposed.

    So where to now? Probably the worst possible situation for John McCain and fellow GOP Members of Congress: having to peform a "reverse public extraction" from the "head up ass" position while demonstrating total lack of leadership and complete fecklessness in the face of fickle public opinion.

    Even if they stick the landing, they're gonna break some bones!


    Monday, September 29, 2008

    The Epidemiology of Rabies in the U.S.

    In any given year about 7,500 cases of rabies in nonhuman animals are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wild animals account for approximately 93% of all cases of rabies reported -- most of the rest are in domestic/feral cats, dogs and farm animals.

    The average human in the U.S. is FAR more likely to be struck dead by lightning than to come down with rabies, much less die from it. That said, most Americans are not encountering (much less handling) raccoons, fox, skunks, groundhogs, possum and feral cats on a regular basis.

    Raccoons continued to be the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species (37.2% of all animal cases during 2001), followed by skunks (30.7%), bats (17.2%), foxes (5.9%), and other wild animals, including rodents and rabbits (2.3%).

    Raccoons have been recognized as a reservoir for rabies in the southeastern states since the 1950s. An outbreak that began during the late 1970s in the mid-Atlantic states has been attributed to the translocation by hunters of infected raccoons from Florida.

    Raccoon rabies is now found in all of the eastern coastal states as well as Alabama, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Ohio.

    Foxes (mainly Vulpes vulpes) accounted for 5.9% of all cases of rabies in animals reported in 2001. The majority of cases of rabies in foxes (360 out of 437 cases) were reported by states affected by the raccoon-associated variant of the rabies virus. In 2001 Alaska reported 45 cases of rabies in fox, Maryland reported 38 cases, and North Carolina reported 56 cases.

    During the past 2 decades, more than 100 million doses of vaccine-laden bait have been distributed over 6 million square kilometers in Europe, with promising results for controlling the disease in red foxes. The use of oral vaccination in Switzerland during the past 20 years resulted in a declaration of rabies-free status in 1998, and a similar declaration was made by France as of the end of 2000.

    Air-dropped rabies-vaccine baits are now being dropped in many parts of the Eastern and mid-Western United States, and good-to-excellent results are being observed.

    To see a larger view of the CDC incidence map of rabies in fox (2001) >> click here

    Bark Obama (The Blog)

    For those who want to see political screeds from 12 different dog bloggers representing slightly different pro-Obama points of view (I think we can safely say that we are all "big tent" folks) check out the BarkObamablog.

    My latest missive is entitled "McCain's Failure of Leadership and deals with the collapse of the budget deal today.

    For those interested in buying stuff to help underwrite the cost of this little blog, check out the cool stuff now available, from canine -shirts to dog bowls, and from mugs to buttons.

    Dog bowls? Yep!

    I've got to get one of those for the American Working Terriers store, don't I?

    A huge hat tip to Gina to getting the BarkObamablog going, with 12-other hat tips to all the other smart folks contributing to the blog. Check it out!


    Sowing vegetable seeds

    I spent a small amount of time sowing seeds yesterday. In the past, I used to have trays and trays of seeds but now that we have a continuous garden, I get by with a large planting in March and then just sowing small numbers of seeds to fill in spots that arise during the year. Yesterday I planted up four golden nugget pumpkin seeds, four lemon cucumber seeds and six Moneymaker tomato seeds.

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    David Hancock on Dog Breeding

    "Uncle Sam," a St Bernard at the 1908 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Click to enlarge.

    This article by Col. David Hancock first appeared in the The Countryman's Weekly back in July 14, 2000:

    The Way Breeding standards Used to Be

    "Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favour."

    THESE WORDS of Robert Frost could so easily describe the relationship between some dog breeders and the wording of the Kennel Club standards laid down as the blueprint for each recognised breed.

    Ignoring the true meaning of the intentional misreading of the written design criteria for any breed is a form of wickedness. Such an act suits the humans involved but rarely the dog. But can any genuine dog lover truly want to produce a Bulldog that cannot breath, an Old English Sheepdog that cannot see and a Bloodhound, which not only drools saliva over every item within range, but has discomfort from sunken eyes and an over-abundance of loose skin?

    Can any breeder producing a Basset Hound which steps on its own ears and has chronic eye problems claim to love the breed?

    Respect for the standard

    An exaggeration, claimed Kahlil Gilbran, is a truth that has lost its temper. Being true to any breed involves respect for the standard and respect for the dogs of that breed.
    Exaggerating the physical features of a subject creature, to its subsequent discomfort, to me indicates disrespect both for the breed design and, more importantly for the dogs themselves.

    Less well-informed members of the public have come to think of exaggerations in some pedigree breeds of dog as being typical, traditional and not affecting the animal's quality of life. Not so. None of these is true.

    Contemporary breeds like the Bull terrier, Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Bulldog and St. Bernard are now quite unlike their own ancestors. They defy their own breed heritage and mock their distinguished lineage. Man has deformed each of these breeds.

    Broad-mouthed "holding" dogs like the mastiff breeds predate the much-mentioned Molossian dogs. They were valued by Assyrians, Scythians and the Sarmatians as heavy hounds over 2000 years ago. The Bullmastiff as a breed-type existed long before S.E. Moseley stabilised the modern breed from his Farcroft Kennels.

    The English Mastiff was much more like a heavy hound before the advent of pedigree dog shows. The Bulldogs of the baiting contests were much more like Pit Bull terriers than the Bulldog.

    And, if you look at portrayals of the prototypal Bullmastiffs and consult the official Kennel Club breed standard, you are struck at once by the incorrect skull conformation in so many specimens in the breed today. The breed MUST have a muzzle!

    Yet time and time again in today's show rings I see pug-faced, apple-headed Bullmastiffs exhibited, with hyper-abbreviated muzzles -- in clear breach or the breed blueprint, and they win! And they win at the World Dog Show!

    The early examples of the breed also had tight mouths. Now we are seeing loose-lipped drooling specimens quite unlike their forebears. It is bad enough when Bulldog, Bloodhound and St Bernard breeders produce such caricatures. But tradtionally Bullmastiff breeders have had more sense and kept faith.

    However, unless contemporary Bullmastiff fanciers become responsible, realistic and reverse these tendencies, we are going to end up with giant drooling pugs - a complete travesty of the breed ideal and an insult to those distinguished pioneers who handed on the custody of this superb breed of dog for us to protect in our lifetime.

    The sad fact is, however, that if you allow small exaggerations into a breed, then those small exaggerations soon exaggerate themselves. And, with a closed gene pool, the exaggerations get more pronounced with each generation.

    The working Basset Hound fraternity has out crossed to the Harrier to remedy the problem of exaggerations exaggerating themselves in that breed.

    Edwin Brough, the greatly respected pioneer-breeder of purebred Bloodhounds, recommended an outcross every fifth generation to retain virility and type. An outcross to the big black and tan Dumfriesshire Foxhound was used some 50 years ago. Now an outcross to one of the packs of hunting Bloodhounds is being mooted.

    The St Bernard of today is revealing far too much of the Mastiff blood utilised by breeders a century ago and is not only quite unlike its own hospice ancestors, but markedly different from its native companion breeds, also bred to operate in the high pastures, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Great Swiss Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller and the Entlebucher.

    The pursuit of "great bone" and great size in the breed to the detriment of soundness, strength and virility, has not been wise.

    Neither has the imposition of the rugger-ball for a head in the Bull terrier, in pursuit of the dreaded "down face," nor the strange desire to make the lovable Basset Hound more like the cartoon character in a national newspaper than is good for a living creature.

    Dog breeders have a huge moral responsibility, magnified by the increasing loss of role for breeds which once worked. Function once decided design. Now the whim of man all too often distorts a design originally drawn up by knowledgeable people who worked their dogs.

    Pastoral breeds were never intended to possess coats, which would hamper them at work. Working Bloodhounds do not display the degree of wrinkle seen in the breed in the show rings of today. Working Bassets, or English Bassets as they have now become known, do not display the over-long backs and under-length legs found in their show ring counterparts.

    The pursuit of undesirable and harmful exaggerations in breeds of dog tells you more about the moral shortcomings of man than about the faults in individual dogs.Of what possible benefit to the dog are sunken eyes and ears this long?

    The Kennel Club is looking all the time at the wording of breed standards, which result, for whatever reason, in harmful effects in dogs. As the holders of the copyright of the breed standards, the Kennel Club has the ultimate responsibility for undesirable words in them.

    Tendentious interpretation

    But, in the end, less honourable people will misuse any wording presented to them. The promotion of "their" type and their own tendentious interpretation of the standard will be their preference, whatever the regrettable long-term penalties for their breed.

    It just needs one influential but misguided breeder or a dissident clique to put at risk over 100 years of devoted work by generations of worthier breed enthusiasts.

    It would not be difficult to restore the historically correct head to the Bull terrier, a more athletic anatomy to our beloved Bulldog, a healthier physique to the appealing Basset Hound or to reduce the excess of skin on the admirable breed of Bloodhound.

    The dogs suffer in silence. The public usually accept a breed as it's presented to them. A handsome but slab-sided Irish Setter or pointer is not exposed as a pet to the penalties such a feature would bring to a working dog on a grouse moor.

    But the ratio of depth of chest to breadth has been shown to be a factor in the incidence of bloat, a dangerous disease. The amount of haw in the eye of a Basset Hound or Bloodhound might not be life-threatening but the considerable discomfort of constantly having foreign bodies irritating the eyeball is avoidable and surely must therefore be avoided by the custodians of any breed.

    The critiques of judges sometimes reveal the failures of breeders when they describe poor movement, inadequate structure or lack of type. But I know of no breed council that sits down either to review judges? comments or consider the sate of their particular breed.

    The dentition in Staffordshire Bull terriers, the movement in Mastiffs, the structure of Bearded Collies, the too-heavy coats in Rough Collies and the inability of breeds like the Clumber Spaniel, the Scottish terrier and the Bulldog to give birth naturally would all receive attention in any humane breed council, truly devoted to the best interests of its breed.

    As a direct result of breeds being abandoned by their own clubs and councils, enlightened individuals are coming together out of despair and out of a genuine love of their breed.

    The situation in the breed of the Bulldog illustrates this most vividly. Pip Nobes in Australia, Lolly Wilkinson in Canada, Jan Dirk van Ginneke in Holland, David Leavitt in America and Ken Mollett in the UK have separately been striving to produce a healthier, more athletic and more historically correct version of the Bulldog.

    Pip Nobes has bred an "Aussie Bulldog" with a smaller head and chest, broader hips and a longer muzzle, good news for any Bulldog anywhere.

    Ken Mollett has formed the Victorian Bulldog Society, composed of a dedicated group of Bulldog lovers with a difference -- they prefer healthier Bulldogs and breed them to prove it.

    In Canada, using stock imported by earlier settlers, Lolly Wilkinson produces athletic and authentic Bulldogs, more like the famous prototypal Bulldogs "Rosa" and "Crib" than our show ring specimens allegedly inspired by them. Her dogs live a long time and give birth naturally. Ours do not.

    It is to me shaming that an overseas breeder should have to show our breeders the way to breed the best examples of our most famous native breed of dog.

    Change may well depend on the truth being in and out of favour, as Robert Frost declared.

    Exaggeration may well be, as Gilbran considered, the truth having lost its temper.
    Change is often needed and welcome, but changes in breeds that are harmful or alter breed type unacceptably are neither needed nor welcome, whether in or out of favour.

    Needless handicaps

    Harmful exaggerations should make us lose our tempers with those who inflict needless handicaps on subject creatures. Pedigree dogs are particularly vulnerable, sadly especially in Britain, where we have produced some of the most regrettable exaggerations displayed in the domestic dog.

    Going back to the breeding of a number of breeds "the way they were" is neither sentimental nor regressive, it is sorely needed. Before we are humiliated by an edict from Brussels, we have work to do.


    Please fence me in

    We had quite a full weekend with Hanno finishing the new chook fence and me flitting between writing and household chores. Of course there were lots of breaks and tea on the verandah so it was a productive and relaxing time for us. I watched the neighbours go in and out all weekend, mostly for short trips and I wondered if they were picking up forgotten groceries or DVDs to watch. I was just

    Contingency Planning For Your Pets

    Have you ever thought about what will happen to your pets after Jesus comes back to claim the souls of the saved during the Rapture and deliver them to heaven to enjoy ever lasting life?

    No? Bad pet owner!

    The good news is that someone has thought this out.

    The bad news is that Your Pets Will Not Be Flagged For Removal By Jesus During the Rapture.

    The good news (we always bring The Good News here at www.terrierman.com) is that there is a service to help you and your pets bridge the gap. As the link notes:

    I am here to offer you pet care service for after the rapture. As an atheist, I will surely still be here on this earth post rapture and would love to look after your pets for a small fee and make sure they are still well taken care of after you and your family have been raptured. You will be able to look down on them from heaven and see them being well cared for by me and living happy, healthy lives. Do not let my atheism scare you! I am a moral and loving pet owner and would never do harm to any animal. For a small deposit of only $50, you can be assured that your pets will be well cared for from the time that you are raptured until the end of their natural life. They will get adequate amounts of food, water, and shelter as well as plenty of exercise and socialization as I would imagine there will be a lot of pets that will be abandoned by Jesus the pet hater that will need to be cared for.

    Problem solved! We will now go back to our regularly scheduled program....

    Saturday, September 27, 2008

    Guns or Knives?

    Paul Newman, in memorium.

    A great man who did great things, including give over $250 million to 1,000 different charity groups, and co-starring in the highest-grossing western in motion picture history.

    Always a gentleman, he died married to the woman he loved, made it to #19 on Nixon's enemies list (one of his proudest accomplishments), and made more great movies that anyone can count.

    Ideas for Hand-made holidays

    Hello ladies. I will be posting more of our swap photos tomorrow. Today I would like to give you links for more ideas for making holiday gifts for our friends and families. Making gifts is about putting a little of yourself into something that you give to your friends and family; it is one of the best things you can do for the holidays. You save money, maybe recycle fabrics or remake things,

    Shit Knife Survival: A Story for Our Times

    From Discover magazine:

    The Inuit didn’t fear the cold; they took advantage of it. During the 1950s the Canadian government forced the Inuit into settlements. A family from Arctic Bay told me this fantastic story of their grandfather who refused to go. The family, fearful for his life, took away all of his tools and all of his implements, thinking that would force him into the settlement. But instead, he just slipped out of an igloo on a cold Arctic night, pulled down his caribou and sealskin trousers, and defecated into his hand. As the feces began to freeze, he shaped it into the form of an implement. And when the blade started to take shape, he put a spray of saliva along the leading edge to sharpen it. That’s when what they call the “shit knife” took form. He used it to butcher a dog. Skinned the dog with it. Improvised a sled with the dog’s rib cage, and then, using the skin, he harnessed up an adjacent living dog. He put the shit knife in his belt and disappeared into the night.

    To hear the story on TED (and to learn a bit more about the extinction of human diversity).

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    The Feral Reserve


    Mighty Fearless :: Mighty dog

    This ad wouldn't work as well with any other breed.


    Terriers in Hooverville

    Here's a picture to remind you of where we have been, and where we might be going. This is a Hooverville in Washington state.

    The Working Terrier: Icon Of Englamd

    A while back I suggested that the Working Terrier
    be considered as an "Icon of England," writing in my submission that:

    The terrier is the quintessential dog of England; the canine thread that weaves its way through the tapestry of the English countryside. It is galant and brave, equally at home in country or city, castle or allotment, at the end of a Lord's leash or in the hedge bushing out a rabbit for a young boy. This is a no-nonsense dog with the drive to conquer the world (if not quite the physical presence). Every region of England lays claim to one type of terrier or another, each with their own characteristics.

    If England has a dog, it is the terrier.

    Well, 1,170 other possible icons have been nominated, and the Working Terrier is at the 312 position in the stack. Want to move it up? Click here!

    Virginia Farms & Forests Bring in $79 Billion a Year

    If you are a hunting dog man in any state, you own a debt to the farmers and land-owners (including public land managers) who allow us to work and hunt our dogs in the field.

    Farms and forests are huge economic engines, of course, but how huge is not always readily apparent. Consider this: In may little state of Virginia, a new University of Virginia study produced by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service found that agriculture and forestry brings $79 billion a year to the state. By comparison, Virginia's entire two-year budget is $78 billion.

    The UVA study also found that one in 10 Virginians, or roughly 500,000 working people, have a job directly or indirectly tied to agriculture and forestry. >> To read more

    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    Do You REALLY Trust John McChange on Guns?

    What do Barack Obama and John McCain have in common?

    Both got an F rating from the Gun Owners of America.

    So what's the difference?

    John McCain got an F-minus. Barack Obama did a bit better -- he only got an F.

    An F-minus??? That's a grade?

    It is, and here's why: While Barack Obama has promised he won't touch your guns, John McCain has promised he will put gun shows out of business.

    As Pastor Chuck Baldwin put it in his post entitled "John McCain is a Liberal Gun Grabber" on the Gun Owners of America web site:

    Let me say it straight out: a John McCain Presidency would be far worse than a Barack Obama Presidency. With a Democrat in the White House, conservatives and Christians suddenly find their principles and are able to offer resistance. Put a Republican in the Oval Office, however, and those same people become blind, deaf, and dumb to most any principle they profess.

    Nowhere is McCain's chicanery and duplicity more jeopardous than in the area of the right to keep and bear arms. On issues relating to the Second Amendment, John McCain is a disaster! For example, the highly respected Gun Owners of America (GOA) rates McCain with a grade of F-. McCain's failing grade is well deserved.

    ... The Gun Owners of America report of the 106th Congress reveals that out of 15 votes relating to the right to keep and bear arms, Senator John McCain voted favorably only 4 times. Put that into a percentage and McCain's pro-Second Amendment voting record is a pathetic 27%.

    Meanwhile, in my home state of Virginia this week, Joe Biden attended the United Mine Workers annual fish fry in Castlewood. Biden mostly talked about how John McCain -- in McCain's own words -- was anxious to remove health care regulation so it could soar like Wall Street. The audience hooted. Coal miners know something about being "given the shaft," and they also understand the importance of health care. Black lung anyone?

    But Joe Biden also said something important to the folks in the Shenandoah: He too is a gun owner, and he too has a fondness for his guns. That said, let's sort fact from fiction, eh? Let's put an end to the National Rifle Association's "say-any-old lie-for-the-partisan-cause" tactic. This time, Joe Biden said, Virginia should not fall for it. Remember what we got last time.

    As for guns, Biden made it clear and made it personal:

    “I guarantee you, Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey. Don't buy that malarkey. They're going to start peddling that to you. I got two, if he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem. I like that little over and under, you know? I’m not bad with it. So give me a break. Give me a break."

    A Beretta? Nice shotgun there Joe!

    Of course most conservatives simply assume John McCain is a "good guy" when it come to guns, and that Barack Obama is "bad" on the issue.

    They don't even bother to look up McCain's record.

    As Joseph Farah notes, in a piece entitled McCain is Anti-gun:

    "Before writing and promoting my new book, "None of the Above," I hadn't realized how willingly Republican-leaning voters would accept John McCain's election-year reinvention of himself .... I strongly suspect most Republicans preparing to drink the McCain Kool-Aid really don't know the record of their candidate. They hear he is pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax – and they accept it, without examining his life in public service and voting record.

    ".... McCain has been at war with gun owners for a long time. In 2004, the year he considered switching to the Democratic Party and teaming up with John Kerry as vice presidential candidate, he sponsored an amendment to S. 1805 that would have outlawed the private sale of firearms at gun shows. Gun Owners of America pointed out the measure amounted to a nationwide ban on gun shows, because every member of an organization sponsoring one could be imprisoned if the group failed to notify each and every 'person who attends the special firearms event of the requirements [under the Brady Law].'

    "In addition, Larry Pratt's great organization [GOA] warns that McCain supported legislation that would have forced federal agents to be more aggressive in arresting and convicting honest gun owners who inadvertently violate one of many arcane federal gun laws in acts that are, in and of themselves, just part of the innocent practice of gun stewardship.

    "For instance, if McCain had his way, his legislation could send to prison a gun owner who travels with a gun through a school zone or who uses one of the family's handguns to go target shooting with a minor child. Someone who uses a gun for self-defense could be sent to prison for a mandatory minimum of five years because of technicalities in McCain's own legislation, according to Gun Owners of America.

    OK, so those are two people with interesting points. Maybe valid ones. But what is John McCain's record? What does the National Rifle Association say?

    Well the NRA, like John McCain, is all over the map depending on what day it is.

    When push comes to shove, this organization is not concerned about hunters, or target shooters, or even those with self-defense concerns, so much as it is with its own direct mail returns.

    Like partisan politicians, the National Rifle Association knows it has to "play to its base" in order to get direct mail cash to roll in.

    And election season is a big time for direct mail. The NRA cannot afford (in terms of cash, not politics) to sit this one out.

    And so they have to roll out a campaign targeted at the dyed-in-the-wool reactionary conservative who would rather vote for a gun-grabbing Hitler than for a Democrat who vows to uphold the Constitution and respect the Second Amendment.

    Which explains why, when John McCain was merely a renegade Senator from Arizona the National Rifle Association called him “one of the premier flag-carriers for the enemies of the Second Amendment.’’ The graphic below is a scan of the text taken straight from the NRA's own magazine.

    Now, of course, the NRA is singing a different tune. They have flip-flopped.

    Which tells you more than a little bit about the partisan nature of the NRA, doesn't it?

    But let's forget that: Let's talk about John McCain and guns.

    Did you know that back in 1986, John McCain voted to ban the importation of handgun parts made overseas, effectively killing a large portion of the home-protection market for affordable weapons?

    In John McCain's mind, only criminals use low cost guns, and never mind if that is demonstrably NOT true. Rohm and Raven handguns have protected more homes from burglars than any other brand. And, as Roy Innis, president of the Congress on Racial Equality notes, "To make inexpensive guns impossible to get is to say that you're putting a money test on getting a gun. It's racism in its worst form."

    John McCain not only supported the biggest gun ban in U.S. history, he also thinks a 24-hour BATF background check is too quick. He thinks the BATF should have 90 DAYS to decide if folks are OK to own a gun, and he thinks the BATF should also be able to require gun stores to conduct inventory audits, and that gun trace information should be more widely available to law enforcement officials and the public at large. [McCain's statement on Senate floor, 1-22-04.]

    And while John McCain has opposed "assault weapons" bans (so far), he has said he would consider one. No doubt he and his good friend Joe Lieberman (the fellow he wanted to make Vice President) will get right on that after they "close the gun show loophole."

    And that last one is a promised action. John McCain has promised "Traitor Joe" Liberman he will get that legislation passed. After all, they are best buddies. McCain doesn't go anywhere without his wife .... and Traitor Joe.

    This is the John McCain Second Amendment record that the National Rifle Association will not tell you about.

    But don't take my word for it. Listen to what Dennis Fusaro, Virginia state legislative director for Gun Owners of America , a Republican, and a lifetime NRA member, recently told CBS News:

    "'On paper, Obama appears worse than McCain,' he said. But McCain is more dangerous, he argued, because he is more likely to successfully enact legislation that would result in fewer rights for gun owners. Obama, Fusaro believes, simply won't make the issue a priority."


    That's why Gun Owners of America would rather see Barack Obama in office than John McCain.

    At least with Obama you know where you stand and you can believe what he says. He won't shift around on you.

    Obama is a constitutional scholar who has unequivocally said the Second Amendment is an individual right that includes the right to own a gun for hunting, defense, and sport shooting.

    Obama has repeatedly said he will NOT take away your guns and will not move on gun legislation.

    Obama has promised to do nothing on guns. On this issue, Obama is NOT promising change.

    But John McCain has.

    John McCain has promised Joe Lieberman he will close down the gun shows. And if elected to office, that's one promise John McCain is sure to keep.

    Now the question is this: do you believe Barack Obama will be true to his word and offer no change in the Second Amendment arena?

    Or do you believe John McCain will break his promise to best friend Joe Lieberman and deep six his own legislation (for which he starred in TV ads for Americans for Gun Safety) and NOT put gun shows out of business?

    Choose or lose, and the devil take the hind post.

    And never mind the economy, the war in Iraq, and the prospect of Sarah Palin dealing with the likes of Vladimir Putin, North Korea, Osama Bin Laden, Iran, Mexico, and Pakistan.

    On guns alone, the safe bet (if there is one, and if you believe guns are actually a presidential issue) is Barack Obama.

    It is, as Gun Owners of America put it, the diference between an F and an F-MINUS.

    And it is, I think, the difference between a politician you can (hopefully) trust, and one you certainly cannot.


    A Breed History: The Short Horn Terrier

    The Short Horn Terrier is pictured at right. It was created by "Sir" Waler Scott who cross bred it with a dairy cow (or was it a dairy man?) kept in the kennels of Lord Fenshaw of Fenwick upon Upton.

    Similar dogs have been worked for centuries by nameless faceless people in remote sections where telephones have still not penetrated. These dogs were designed to run 40 miles a day, tackle 40 pound fox and then win ribbons at the shows. The sagacity of the dog is admired by all, and its purity is maintained by scrupulous pedigree records. The best dogs can be traced back to Waler Scott himself!

    The picture at right shows the whisp of hair on the forehead which suggests a Bedlington may have been crossed in with the aforementioned dairy cow. The ideal measurement of this breed is 14 inches by 14 inches by 14 pounds based on the size of quarry which the original breeders were careful to never actually handle or measure themselves.

    The face of the dog should look like a little like a roadkill ferret. The expression and dark eyes make the face of this dog particularly pleasing to the eye.

    This dog is the "original terrier" from which all other breeds are derived, and it is kept as a working breed to this day. Somewhere. By someone. Sorry: no further details are available.

    What will you do?

    Shane and Sarndra just before they went home yesterday.I was interested to read in the Why are you simplifying? post that several readers said they wanted to look after the planet, especially their own piece of it. While I believe we never really own the land we purchase, I do firmly agree with the idea of looking after the land we live on. The concept of looking after your land is firmly

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Dog Food Economics and the Wall Street Bailout

    Have you noticed how few senior citizens are eating dog food these days?

    Call me an "old softy," but I consider that a good thing, and I give full credit to Social Security and Medicare which have changed the economics of old age to the point that no one under the age of 60 remembers a time when America's elderly poor actually slumped cans of Alpo onto their dinner plates, because they could afford nothing better.


    Back in the Clinton era, I spent eight years defending Medicare from attack, initiating the conversation (still ongoing) about drug reimportation from overseas, and trying to derail misguided efforts to privatize Social Security.

    I bring this up not to rehash the past but because two things are now front and center in America today: the collapse of Merrill Lynch and the financial markets last week, and the determination of John McCain, in the absence of reality, to embrace Social Security privatization.

    What does Social Security have to do with the collapse of Merrill Lynch and the the other financial giants?

    Actually, quite a lot.

    You see, back in 1996, the folks who were pushing to privatize Social Security were Wall Street firms like Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs.

    Brokerage houses were salivating at the prospect of skimming off hundreds of millions of dollars a year in commissions and transaction fees from a privatized system.

    All that had to occur for that to happen, was to sing the siren song of greed.

    And, of course, the stage was well set. Back in the mid-1990s, everyone from cab drivers to fresh-scrubbed college grads were convinced they were stock-picking geniuses. The market was roaring! Surely any fool could make a mint on Wall Street? It was simply a matter of tossing a dart, and never mind if anyone said differently!

    Wall Street knew an opportunity when it saw one, and so it pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into a campaign designed to leverage fear, resentment, and greed into a new profit center for the hyper-rich.

    The fear being fanned was the notion that Social Security was "going to go broke." And never mind that it was not true.

    The resentment being fanned was the notion that someone, somewhere, might be getting something they did not quite deserve.

    The big emotional driver, of course, was greed.

    Think about how much money you could be making if you invested in such sure-fire winners as Hewlett-Packard or Pets.com or Tenet Healthcare!

    What could go wrong? Nothing! Stocks were soaring!

    Of course, to buy the cure you first had to buy the disease.

    Social Security was terribly sick said Wall Street.

    The cause of the disease, said the stock market sages, was that America was aging.

    We were going to go broke because we were growing old.

    And so Merrill Lynch and other brokerage firms ran full page ads, such as the one below, talking about the demographic "time bomb" of Social Security.

    Click on the ad, above, to read the full text. And click here to read the annotations, numbered in blue, to read how Merrill Lynch was trying to fear-monger us into killing Social Security.

    Of course it was all nonsense, but it was potentially lucrative nonsense for Wall Street traders, and so it was asserted, repeated, parroted and echoed across the landscape by folks who overtly or covertly were taking vast sums of money from Wall Street.

    Not everyone was on the take, of course. A lot of people were simply ignorant.

    The ignorant did not know the benefits of an aging population, nor did they understand the liabilities of a rapidly growing one.

    Casual pundits did not know the difference between one kind of dependency ratio and another.

    And Wall Street knew that.

    They sought to tell a simple story, no matter if it was a lie.

    It was enough if it sounded true. Greed, fear and resentment would do the rest.

    We were told "Social Security was like the Titanic."

    Which was true, except that we were 30 miles from the iceberg, we were sailing on a clear day, and we had an attentive watchman on deck. If we made a quarter of a degree change in course, we would sail so far from the iceberg we would never know it was there.

    But Wall Street traders wanted us to panic. They wanted us to sink the boat NOW in order to avoid hitting the iceberg 30, 40 or 60 years into the future.

    Now, it's true that if you sink the boat, you will not hit the iceberg. But that's cold comfort when you're treading water, alone, in the North Atlantic.

    The good news is that through sheer force of fact, rhetoric and some luck, those of us working to derail Wall Street privatization efforts manged to stall things long enough that the stock market had a major "correction."

    Which is a nice way of saying that a few million people who thought they were geniuses, lost their shirts and learned a fundamental mathematical fact: If you lose 50% of your portfolio's assets during a "correction," it takes 100% growth in that same portfolio just to be made whole again.

    A small lesson was learned. But it was a small lesson, and not everyone learned it. And, truth be told, we are a nation of amnesiacs. We have rafts of politicians who are slow learners and quick forgetters.

    And Wall Street is nothing if not patient.

    And behind it all, always just out of sight, remain the discrete men and women with bags of cash who are only too eager to lubricate the wheels of Capitol Hill.

    They are people like McCain campaign manager Rick Davis who used to run a front group opposing Fannie May and Freddie Mac regulation, and Charlie Black, a former lobbyist for JP Morgan, Washington Mutual Bank, Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

    And so, because we still have rats in the grain pile, we still have folks staggering up to podiums to talk about Social Security privatization.

    We still have Wall Street front groups trotting out fresh-scrubbed young staffers who are paid to ask quivering questions about deregulation and Social Security privatization, as if these topics are front-and-center in the minds of 20-somethings from coast-to-coast.

    The answer John McCain gives
    in the clip, above, is straight from the play book supplied by those running his campaign; people like Merrill Lynch lobbyists Judy Black, Dan Crippen, Vicki Hart, Jim Hyland, Peter Madigan, and Steve Phillips, to name a few.

    And so, like the talking parrot that he is, John McCain says it is "outrageous" that young people are paying into Social Security to pay obligations to America's seniors.

    Now, to be clear, what John McCain is really saying here is that he has no idea how Social Security actually works.

    Social Security has always been a progressive multi-generational transfer program. That is why it has worked so well for so long. Young people have been paying for the old for more than 60 years. That is how the system works. To hear a politician express outrage that this is how the system works is a bit like hearing a mechanic say he is terrified that explosions occur inside a gasoline engine; it is a statement that does not inspire confidence in the repair job being suggested.

    As for the notion that demographic change is going to bankrupt this nation, it's pure bunk. And I guess I would know: I am a demographer who has spent a lot of time with the Social Security actuarial and economic-variable tables.

    Social Security is sound now, and it will be sound into the future.

    But you know what is not sound?

    Merill Lynch.

    Goldman Sachs.

    Lehman Brothers.

    Morgan Stanley.

    All gone, bankrupted, restructured, or boned out to foreign investors.

    These companies wanted to run your life, but in the end they could not run their own.

    More than 80 percent of AIG is now owned by the U.S. Government.

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still afloat only because of a $200-billion bailout from U.S. taxpayers.

    American Home Mortgage has collapsed.

    Countrywide Financial has bellied over, with its assets acquired by others.

    Washington Mutual is teetering, while JPMorgan Chase, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds have all had their stock ratings lowered in the last week.

    John McCain, of course, is nearly oblivious.

    Last week he repeatedly said "the fundamentals are fine," and then when it became clear no one would salute that nonsense, he decided to turn around and claim he and the Republican party has always been about sensible regulation and government oversight.

    Now the same people that tried to stampede us into privatizing Social Security are trying to stampede us into socializing their debts and bad investments.

    They want us to give them $700 billion or $800 billion or $900 billion to buy a pig in a poke, and no we cannot look inside (there is no time!) since that might let the cat out of the bag.


    But just remember this: If you are prepared to drink their Koolaid, you must also be prepared to eat their dog food.

    Put away the Lean Cuisine, and open up a can of Alpo and plop it onto a plate.

    That has been Wall Street's solution in the past. That was Wall Street's solution in 1929.

    And that is what they're offering us today; the left overs bits, cut away and rendered after they take the choicest cuts for themselves.

    Welcome to Dog Food Economics! Now eat up!


    Tea for two

    Karen has asked me to write about the Australian tea tradition. I'm not sure that tradition continues today but this is my version of what it was like in the old days.Tea used to be a part of most people's days. In Australia, we had a cup of tea with breakfast, often with toast, another cup was had between 10 and 11am for morning tea. Then another cup at lunchtime with a sandwich, another

    John McCain Bails

    A new Washington Post-ABC News poll gives Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama a nine-point lead over Republican nominee John McCain.

    Even Fox News admits that McCain is going down like an airplane shot out of the sky, noting that Barack Obama has recaptured the lead — 45 percent to 39 percent — over John McCain in the presidential race.

    So what is McCain doing? He's pulling his ripcord even as he struggles to get out of the fighter seat.

    Unprepared for real crisis, without any answers, and with lobbying scandals exploding around him like jet fuel (and with Sarah Palin waiting to go off under his right wing), McCain is screaming "May Day, May Day, May Day" into the mike.

    He wants to cancel the debates set for Friday.

    He wants to suspend campaigning while he sorts it all out.

    It's 3 am. the phone is ringing, and John McCain wants to unplug the phone.



    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Free Sarah Palin

    Free Sarah Palin from the sexist chauvinism of John McCain and his handlers!

    We want to see Sarah Palin in the full light of day!

    Don't hide your light under a bushel!! Light it shine, let it shine!


    I have a catch-up day today. Although Hanno has told me to concentrate on my writing and he will do the laundry and most of the indoor work, there are some things I need to do and they will be looked after today. We also have two special visitors today - Shane and Sarndra will arrive late this morning. They aren't staying long but just seeing them is a joy that I'm looking forward to. I'll

    Hunters for Obama

    The National Rifle Association Lies ... Again

    No surprise. The National Rifle Association is lying.


    Few organizations have a sleazier reputation when it comes to political stuff in election season.

    Lying is part of the NRA modus operandi, especially in Presidential elections, and so it is this time around.

    But you don't have to believe me.

    FactCheck is a neutral source, and they have actually done the work of flagging the false claims made by the NRA in their mailers and TV ads.

    Here is what they say -- and what the NRA has said in response.

    The bottom line, according to FactCheck.com,
    is that the NRA ads are lies.

    As the folks at FactCheck note on their web site:

    The NRA is circulating printed material and running TV ads making unsubstantiated claims that Obama plans to ban use of firearms for home defense, ban possession and manufacture of handguns, close 90 percent of gun shops and ban hunting ammunition.

    Much of what the NRA passes off as Obama's "10 Point Plan to 'Change' the Second Amendment" is actually contrary to what he has said throughout his campaign: that he "respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms" and "will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns."

    The NRA, however, simply dismisses Obama's stated position as "rhetoric" and substitutes its own interpretation of his record as a secret "plan." Said an NRA spokesman: "We believe our facts."

    We believe our facts? Wooooeeeeee!

    Doesn't that sound like folks fresh from the alternative-universe that George Bush has been living in for the last eight years?

    Doesn't that sound like the alternative-universe John McCain is living in right now?

    Who needs facts? We make crap up and your job is to salute it! That's the mantra of George Bush ("Mission accomplished!") and John McCain ("the economy is fundamentally strong")

    Apparently the NRA believe its members don't want or need the truth -- they can do fine on "truthiness."

    They don't want want or need the facts -- they just make do with a bunch of stuff made up whole cloth.

    Fact Check notes that the NRA has lied boldly: "We find the NRA has cherry-picked, twisted and misrepresented Obama's record to come up with a bogus 'plan.'"

    The flier looks almost as though it comes from the Obama campaign. It uses the same color and font scheme as well as the campaign's sunrise logo. And on some points it is right; Obama has called for national legislation against carrying concealed firearms, and he would revive and make permanent the expired ban on semi-automatic "assault weapons," for example. On other points it exaggerates. Obama has spoken in favor of government registration of handguns, for example, but has not called for registration of all "firearms" including hunting rifles and shotguns. But the TV spots and fliers also make claims that are directly contrary to what Obama actually says about guns.

    And so what does Barack Obama REALLY think about the Second Amendment and your right to hunt and protect yourself and home?

    Here's what he has actually said and written:

    ... Barack Obama believes the Second Amendment creates an individual right, and he respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns.

    And what is John McCain's position on guns? The same as Obamas! Both support the Second Amendment, and both want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and crazies.

    Well, let's go to the video clip -- the video that the National Rifle Association does not want any of its membership to see.

    Want to know more?

    Read through an earlier post from this blog about the Second Amendment entitled The Liberal Case for Gun Ownership.

    That's where I come out on guns, and that's about as pro-Second Amendment as you can get.

    And so, in theory, I should be an NRA member. But I am not, and I never will be because the NRA lies like most animals breathe, and this current campaign is a perfect example.

    I will not support liars.

    And neither should you.


    The Wrong Stuff

    The folks over at
    Answers.com define "Screw the Pooch" as:

    • To make a major mistake, particularly one that will have serious ramifications.

    The folks over at allwords.com define "Screw the Pooch" as:

    • To screw up; to fail in dramatic and ignominious fashion
      verb (third-person singular simple present screws the pooch, present participle screwing the pooch, simple past screwed the pooch, past participle screwed the pooch)

    The folks over at wiktionary define "Screw the Pooch" as:
    • to screw up; to fail in dramatic and ignominious fashion
      The term was first documented in the early "Mercury" days of the US space program. It came there from a Yale graduate named John Rawlings who helped design the astronauts' space suits. The phrase is actually a bastardisation of an earlier, more vulgar and direct term which was slang for doing something very much the wrong way, as in "you are fucking the dog!" At Yale a friend of Rawlings', the radio DJ Jack May (a.k.a. "Candied Yam Jackson") amended this term to "screwing the pooch" which was simultaneously less vulgar and more pleasing to the ear.

      The term, however, did not enter the popular lexicon until Tom Wolfe used it in his book about the space program, The Right Stuff, where is was used to describe a supposed mistake by astronaut Gus Grissom.

    The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English defines Screw the Pooch" as:

    • to bungle or ruin something

    Who is "scewing the pooch" in America today? Hmmmm. Who could it be?

    Monday, September 22, 2008

    Ford Maverick

    A Ford Maverick in the color known as "Anti-Establish Mint"

    Remember the Ford Maverick?


    It was a forgettable car from the 1970s that sold well in its era, but never made it into the 1980s.

    Trying to be "too cool for school,"the marketing geniuses at Ford sold the car (and no, we are not making this up) in the follow colors: Anti-Establish Mint, Hulla Blue, Original Cinnamon, Freudian Gilt, Thanks Vermillion, Black Jade, Champagne Gold, Gulfstream Aqua, Meadowlark Yellow, Brittany Blue, Lime Gold, Dresden Blue, Raven Black, Wimbledon White, and Candyapple Red.

    Now, of course, the car is mostly found in one color: rust.

    Since we have brought up the issue of "Maverick" and cars, let's look at the cars that the Presidential candidates drive.

    Thankfully, Newsweek has already looked into it, and they report:

    "After the fuss over the number of residences owned by the two presidential nominees, NEWSWEEK looked into the candidates' cars. And based on public vehicle-registration records, here's the score. John and Cindy McCain: 13. Barack and Michelle Obama: one."

    And the one that the Obama family is driving is a hybrid Ford Escape.

    McCain's fleet includes a 2004 Cadillac CTS, a 2005 Volkswagen convertible, a 2001 Honda sedan, a 2007 half-ton Ford pickup truck, a vintage 1960 Willys Jeep, a 2008 Jeep Wrangler, a 2000 Lincoln, a 2001 GMC SUV, three 2000 NEV Gem electric vehicles (bubble-shaped cars popular in retirement communities), and a Lexus.

    As is only fitting with John McCain, there is even a flip-flop and a waffle in the deal:

    One vehicle in the McCain fleet has caused a small flap. United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger, an Obama backer, accused McCain this month of 'flip-flopping' on who bought daughter Meghan's foreign-made Toyota Prius. McCain said last year that he bought it, but then told a Detroit TV station on Sept. 7 that Meghan 'bought it, I believe, herself.' (The McCain campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

    Right. Say one thing, say another, and then bunker when the world figures out you are either a liar or (to be more charitable) perhaps have Alzheimer's.

    Welcome to the McReality of asking John McCain a simple McQuestion.

    Old Pictures of Coyote Lurchers

    My notes on this one say: "Coyotes and wolf, 1910, in Montanta."

    My notes on this one only say: "Greeley, 1908." I am assuming this is Greeley, Colorado.

    Why are you simplifying?

    These are just a few photos I've taken in the backyard in the past week that really don't relate to my post. I know many of you like looking at our vegetable garden, so I hope these photos will encourage you to comment today.Many of you know that I'm writing a book proposal at the moment and I need your help with it. I am trying to formulate some thoughts on simple living and it would help me

    Sunday, September 21, 2008

    Digging on the Dogs

    A short day digging solo in the field on Sunday. My church has always been outside; the First Church of Field and Stream. Let us prey.

    Still a bit hot, but mostly because there was not a scrap of shade on the farm I was on. 82 degrees in the shade is well past 90 when you're in the full force of the sun.

    A pretty uneventful day other that a noticeable flocking of birds, which seems only fitting the day before the official start of Fall.

    Five or six large skeins of Giant Canada Geese had joined up, and they busted off a field as I drove up the farm road. It was quite a sight, and even more so when you consider this magnificent bird was thought to be virtually extinct as late as 1950.

    I walked the fields checking a few holes and was amazed at the ballet of barn swallows going on around me -- hundreds of them zooming low over the field and then wheeling around to nail a bug on the fly.

    As the dogs and I hovered at the holes, the birds seemed to follow us, no doubt pinging on the bugs we were knocking up. It is amazing to think that these birds will soon be wintering as far south as Brazil and Venezuela.

    It was a pretty glorious day for birds, and no less so when the dogs busted a massive flock of blackbirds that had settled on the forest floor near one of the fields we were working. I am not sure if the birds were feeding on mast or were resting during the day before flying at night when it is cooler (most bird migrations occur at night for this reason). I suspect the later. The tree cover and ground-resting would probably prevent a hawk from nailing them while they were down. The size of the some of the blackbird flocks we see in the Fall around here are truly amazing.

    This farm no longer holds as many groundhogs as it once did thanks to a few years of concerted work by the dogs. This is the farm Sailor died on -- jumping from my arms and running down the field terrified from her heart racing in arrhythmia. I suspect the black widow spider bite she received a few months earlier might have damaged some muscle or connective tissue in her heart, but I will never know. I miss that dog; she was not only the best working terrier I have ever had, she was the best working terrier I have ever seen. Prejudiced? Moi? Not a bit. I am as flinty as stone. But I know a good dog, and I know a dog that loved me. And yes, I loved her, and I am not ashamed to say so.

    Dave, the farm manager, stopped by and said he had lost a few chickens to a raccoon, and asked if I had found a groundhog in the field sette I had been checking in earlier? He had not known that sette was there, and he hit a high spot and did $1,200 worth of damage to his farm machinery as a consequence. Bruised his posterior too. I had not found anyone home in that sette, but I had noticed it was a big pipe. I said I would check the dry ridge which was about 300 yards away -- maybe we would find it at home up there.

    And sure enough, Mountain did find it in the dry ridge. This is very rocky ground -- almost all broken shale and stone, and though the pipes are never deep, getting in is always tough.

    None the less, the job got done, and one 13-pound groundhog was accounted for.

    I left this groundhog near the dirt pile on the edge of the farm road so Dave would be sure to see it. He would no longer have any more trouble from that one, and the fox would find it before night passed into morning. Everything is recycled. Dust to dust. Let us prey.

    Custer's Long Dogs

    George A. Custer, 1862, Peninsula Campaign, Virginia. Click to enlarge.

    In the past, I have, written a bit about jack rabbits out west as well as coyotes and the use of lurchers to hunt coyotes , but I have yet to talk too much about one of the most famous of American dog men -- George Armstrong Custer.

    Custer found particular solace with the dogs. A border-line manic-depressive, Custer found that when he was manic he could go riding and running with them, and when he was despondent, they were perfect company to lie down with.

    And Custer did "lie down with dogs," never once feeling a moment of shame as he cuddled up next to them, their large bodies wrapped around his to keep him warm on the cold Plains.

    George A. Custer with the Sioux-Ree warrior Bloody Knife
    (pointing) and the Crow warrior Curly (standing), with
    staghound and greyhound. Montana, Spring 1876.

    Custer's dogs were greyhound crosses -- what later came to be called the "American Staghound."

    A Staghound, of course is simply a large American longdog -- a cross between two sighthounds such as a Greyhound or Scottish Deerhound, though Borzoi, Saluki, Afghan, or Irish Wolf Hound could theoretically be crossed in there as well. Today, most American Staghounds are multi-generation Staghound crosses.

    It's possible that some of Custer's dogs may have been lurchers. A lurcher is a cross between a sighthound (such as a Deerhound, Greyhound or Whippet) and a herding dog (such as a rough collie) or perhaps a larger terrier (such as a Aierdale or Bedlington). If some of Custer's dogs were lurchers, they are likely to have been Greyhound or Deerhounds crossed with a collie or some other large herding dog.

    Too much can be made of breed and terminology, especially when talking about historical dogs. Custer was running in the West where dogs were intact their whole lives, found their own mates, and designed themselves as Nature saw fit.

    Custer's first longdogs dogs, acquired sometime after the end of the Civil War in 1866 were killed (one in a firearms mishap and the other -- Blucher-- in 1868 at the Battle of the Washita River against the Cheyenne).

    Custer got other dogs, and always seemed to have four or five with him, including a pair that reportedly came from Queen Vicotoria through Lord Berkeley Paget, the man who supplied Custer (in 1869) with the revolver he had with him during the last stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

    The fate of Custer's dogs after his demise at The Litttle Bighorn is not too well documented. Dutch Salmon, who has looked into it, reports that:

    "One hound, Cardigan, went to a clergyman in Minneapolis, who later had the dog mounted on display in a public building."

    An ignoble fate, I suppose, but if there a noble use for a dog after death, I am unaware of it. Come to think of it, being stuffed and remembered and awed over by school kids is about as good as a dog can hope for after death. Carry on Cardigan!


    John McCain "McChanges His Tune"

    If I see Stanley Crouch's byline, I always read it, because he is a free thinker and will say what he think even if is heretical and unpopular (are there popular heretics?). You can read a New Yorker profile of Crouch here.
    So what's Stanley saying this morning? Oh good stuff, good stuff. He writes in his column for The New York Daily News:

    Now that he has appropriated Barack Obama's theme of change, John McCain has become its most obvious victim. No one now knows what he stands for or what he believes. He changes at a velocity that would be commendable if he were in show business instead of politics.

    In show business you are commended for convincing an audience that you are something different from what you actually are or that you can do things that you actually can't. But McCain's newfound ability to change his thoughts - or dramatically reverse them - is equaled by his party's. The Republican Party went to bed thinking it was a bull, woke up believing it was a bear and ran screaming from its mirror.

    So unfettered expansion, once known as deregulation, has almost swallowed our economic world as we know it. This has been a bucket of ice water thrown on politicians snoring in feathered beds provided by lobbyists.

    Still dripping but fully awake, the Republican Party, which we thought would live or die as a bull under the flag of deregulation, is now sanctimoniously asserting the importance of the federal government stepping in to save the little big men of corporate America.

    Read the whole thing.
    I have learned a valuable lesson today, one which I already knew but ignored. Back up your computer stuff. Sat down today to send some things and my address book was gone "poof". After an hour with Apple Care,  (40 minutes with a language barrier) we discovered yep, it's gone!
    I have managed to piece back together from saved emails everyone's address...I hope. 
    The reason I mention it is this.....if you don't hear from me via email for a while, well, whoops, I may have missed adding you back in. If you check here regularly you won't miss any events. I always send out email alerts first..so if you don't receive one and then see something listed here, please email me so I can add you back on. Again, sorry for the blip. As the Apple Guy says " this almost never happens to Macs." After 4 Macs  and no problems, I guess I was due.

    Now, just this second, I discovered my one sprinkler station has been running for over an hour, because I was on the phone with India and forgot! Holy cow! . Maybe I should duck and cover, this has not been a good afternoon. Hope you all are faring a wee bit better.