Friday, January 31, 2014

How to Make a Pete Seeger

This picture was taken in May of 1921 in Washington, D.C., and shows Charles Louis Seeger, a composer, and his wife and three sons, including youngest son Peter holding his violin-playing mother's hand. The family had bundled themselves up into a car to go off car camping (that's their tented wagon trailer, above and below) as a way to see the world. The parents did small concerts to raise money as they traveled. Note the big water bag hanging from the lamp and resting on the running board.

Charles Seeger, father of Pete Seeger, was himself an anti-war activist whose brother, Alan Seeger, was killed in WWI at the Battle of the Somme. A poet, Alan Seeger wrote I Have a Rendezvous with Death


The picture, above, was also taken in late May of 1921 in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., and shows Charles Seeger, his violin-playing wife Constance Edson Seeger, and their three children, including 2-year-old son Pete, sitting on his father's lap.

A May 22, 1921 article in The Washington Post about the family quoted Charles Seeger:

"We are trying to solve the problem of educating three boys, and at the same time lead a worth-while outdoor life."

Carry on Mr. Seeger; I am pretty sure you will not make a hash of this job!

Behaviorism Joke

After sex, one behaviorist turned to another behaviorist and said, "That was great for you, but how was it for me?"

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Head Like a 9-Pound Hammer

Gideon in a hollow tree on a snowy day.

Weekend reading

The kids have gone back to school, the weather is cooling a little and time is marching on. 

I finished the final reading of my book yesterday so that's been sent back to Penguin; hopefully it will be published in late March.

I took the opportunity last week to make more lemon cordial and gave these two bottles to Cathy and Sunny. Hope you have a  wonderful weekend. Thank you for

The Code Inside the Jack Russell

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Robert Reich For The Win

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich writes:
HOW TO DEAL WITH LOW-WAGE EMPLOYERS. I met yesterday with a former executive of a big corporation who had a good idea. Taxpayers spend at least $55 billion a year on benefits (Medicaid, food stamps, etc.) to working people whose employers don’t pay enough to provide them and their families a decent standard of living. So in effect we’re subsidizing these employers – many of which (like Walmart) are large and profitable. His idea was to tax these employers by that amount. It would be easy enough to do since the IRS and the states have the Social Security numbers of all employees who receive these benefits, and can connect them to their employers. Not only would this “lousy-pay” tax be fair to other companies that pay higher wages and don’t get the subsidy. It would also help replenish federal and state budgets. And it would prod these low-paying corporations to raise wages so their employees don’t have to rely on taxpayer-financed benefits. What do you think?
What do I think? Genius!

Budweiser's Super Bowl Ad FAIL

The musical voice here is Passenger (aka Michael David Rosenberg), who has been featured on this blog in the past.

I have several problems with this ad.

The first is the "puppy adoptions" sign. 

That's an expensive and permanent sign, and those dogs are NOT being "adopted" -- they are pure bred dogs being SOLD.  Nothing wrong with that, but do not piss on my leg and tell me it's raining. 

When you are selling pure breed retrievers (the most common pure breed, so no points for free thinking there Budweiser shill-meister), you are not in the ADOPTION business, but in the cash-and-carry business. 

The word "adoption" here is cynical marketing malarkey designed to "dog wash" this ad from the stigma that is now attached to breeding pedigree dogs.  

The second problem I have with this ad is that this stupid blonde lady seems to have a lot of trouble keeping her dogs watched and in a pen.  This is supposed to be cute.  It's not.  It's reckless endangerment.

My third problem with this ad is that it is incoherent, both as a story and as a marketing vehicle.  What is it saying?  What is the product?  Are they selling horses?  Puppies?  White bread romance between model-perfect people in a dream-like setting? 

This ad has NOTHING to do with the product it is selling.  It's bad story with a forgettable label slapped on at the end.  In short, pure crap, stem to stern.

Now Passenger?  That's a great voice and a great song. But that's the ONLY redeeming part of this ad. 

Poisoning and Profiteering

A quick photo from Charleston, West Virginia, where I was yesterday.

The local headline, below, is a reminder that law and regulation are why you can drink your local water and eat your local food without fear of poisoning.

Most companies are doing good honest work, but what do we do with those that don't?  

Gresham's law says "Bad money drives out good," but the same is true for conduct. 

If a company can sell a 15-year roofing shingle as a 30-year shingle, competitors are forced to decide whether they will follow suit or go out of business as their competitors rob them of contracts based on knowingly dishonest bids.

And what about companies that engage in reckless disregard of consumer safety by failing to inspect their storage tanks, or which dump effluent into public waterways?  Is it all to be given the Big Wink?

Laws to protect the people from liars, cheats and thieves are supposed to be promulgated by both federal and state governments.  The 10,000 gallons of toxin that leaked into the Elk River last week is a reminder there are still big gaps in law and regulation, and even bigger gaps in enforcement.  Will West Virginia move to bridge those gaps?  Time -- and the state legislature -- will tell.

Sowing seeds in trays

Frugal vegetable gardening starts with seeds. If they're seeds you've collected yourself from last year's crop, that's even better. If you want to save seeds after every season to plant the following year, you'll need to start with heirloom or open pollinated seeds. F1 seeds will not reproduce true to type. Seed saving is an easy skill to learn and it's vegetable production at its most authentic

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger, RIP

The great Pete Seeger has died.  A popularizer of folk music from all over the world, and a troubadour for civil rights, workers equity, and the environment, he was 94.

Back in 1990, Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, produced a double album, and one of the songs on it was written by Pete, with lyrics by Lee Hays, who was one of the members of the The Weavers folk group, and who also wrote "If I Had a Hammer," and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine."

The song is entitled In Dead Earnest. Lyrics below:

In Dead Earnest 
If I should die before I wake
All my bone and sinew take
Put them in the compost pile
To decompose a little while
Sun, rain and worms will have their way
Reducing me to common clay
All that I am will feed the trees
And little fishes in the seas
When corn and radishes you munch
You may be having me for lunch
Then excrete me with a grin
Chortling, There goes Lee again
'Twill be my happiest destiny
To die and live eternally

- by Lee Hays, 1981. Lee died August 26 of that same year..

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sowing seeds for the vegetable garden

Food production in the backyard is a simple activity that takes in a few elements of the simple life philosophy. It helps with debt reduction and saving, it encourages sustainability, self-reliance, organisation and preparedness, it helps with food security and waste (compost) and it is one of the things that will help slow you down. I'm really excited about our new season kitchen garden. A

Signs of the Apolcalypse?

In a ceremony that was supposed to highlight the need to end violence in Ukraine, Pope Francis released a pair of doves at the Vatican.

In perhaps an ominous sign of things to come, the doves were immediately attacked by a hooded crow and a seagull.  Please post your best theological explanations in the comments.

A Liability Lawyers Dream

The dual dog retractable leash.  Stupid on a stick, and a disaster on 10 legs.  Lawyers are standing by awaiting your calls!  Thanks to Sarah B. for forwarding this link!


Fox Hunting as a Virginia Brand

You know you're in Virginia fox hunting country when both the police and the real estate agents brand themselves with it. 
Special sauce:  the American foxhound is the state dog.  To be clear, however, this is not the AKC dog, which is one of the rarest dogs in the U.S. due to the lack of utility, but the cross-bred fox hound to be found running in fox packs from one end of Virginia and Maryland to another.
Fox hunting in Virginia rarely results in the death of a fox due to the tremendous number of groundhog burrows which provide cover. 
In an case, the red fox in these parts is a European import -- one of the dreaded non-native species that we are told (by other descendants non-native Europeans) must be extirpated.

That Time of Year

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Creating your ideal world at home

We have been delighting in that wonderful, relaxed time before the real business of the year starts in ernest. We had enough food to keep us going, there were no deadlines looming - well, I had one, but I that was under control, and our days have been our own to do what we please. I've been making lists of ideas and projects for the year, I think Hanno did the same, although his big project is

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What Does the Fox Eat?

What does my yard fox eat?  Thanks to a massive load of free Milk Bones from my son, they are mostly getting a lot of those these days, supplemented with a little sunflower seed that spills over from the bird feeder.  The Milk Bones came free to my son, so re-gifting those to the fox is a free for all.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Majesty of Mother Nature


Some Explaining to Do

"Honest officer, the shovel, machete, saw, and bloody tarp in the back of my truck is just because I hunt with terriers. I was seen digging holes in the woods?  Well, yes, that's part of terrier work too. Honest."

Whatcha Been Doing?

Several folks have called and written
 and asked "Whatcha Doing?"

I've been invited to a "sew in" B-Day bash soon
 and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to
work on a quilt I started YEARS ago.

I used to sew all the time and then life, 
issues and other interests got in the way
 and I stopped quilting entirely.
I love the fabrics in this quilt..very much
my old primitive favorites but it will still
go quite nicely in my blue and brown bedroom.

It requires 96 blocks and I am at 64 as of today.

Every block is random and includes plaids and checks
in browns, beiges, blues and a touch of yellows.
I opened the basket where the blocks and strips
 were stored and just 
threw them out on the chair and desk
 and started sewing.

I'll see how far I get before the sew in and
then an entire day there just may "get er' done"

Sew a side, trim/turn, sew a side, trim/turn
and so on.
A Log Cabin

I just toss them to the floor as they are completed.
Funny they look crooked here but they're not. I did 
not cut the strips with anything but abandon 
so the plaids and checks do not always run straight.
I wanted it that way, to appear primitive and I 
will most likely overdye it when finished also.

 I was thinking I will add a solid border with some appliques 
perhaps because I love doing those also.
I miss doing needlecraft.
Maybe this will resurrect my first love.
Needle and thread

A painters pallet of fabrics
It is all connected

In other news I shared a lovely day on Monday
with a photographer Tracey Perry, 
who shot my home for a Holiday Book 
to hopefully be published next year.
It is a major undertaking and I will keep 
you posted as I proceed.

I am thrilled to be able to get 
Christmas taken down, and do some more purging
and a thorough cleaning of the house.
I have NEVER had it up this long before,
it has made me a little antsy.

Because of my organized box system
it will come down lickety split.

So that's my story
What's yours?

The Bent World of Dog Show People

The cast and characters of "Best in Show"

This post recycled from December 21, 2006

Across the world, but especially in America, people congregate in social tribes, and most of these tribes seem to have an occasional "pow wow" of one sort or another.

For motorcycle freaks, that pow wow might be
Bike Week in Daytona, or Sturgis
in South Dakota.

A certain type of fundamentalist Christian cannot pass up a tent revival, while folks with other interests may flock to Renaissance Fairs or Civil War re-enactor events.

Gun enthusiasts have their gun shows, while still other Americans are attracted to tractor pulls, car shows, or rodeos.

Whatever the group -- from wine connoisseur to reformed alcoholic, from Star Trek fan to opera aficionado-- each has its own gathering, its own customs, and its own set of odd-ball characters.

The writer and producer Christopher Guest has made a living crafting "mock-umentaries" about such American subcultures.

His first foray into the genre was a movie entitled This is Spinal Tap -- a wonderful send up of the bloated pretensions of heavy metal music.

This movie was so well done -- and done with such seriousness and affection -- that some people actually thought it was a documentary about a real band. Reality blurred a bit more when Guest and his actor "bandmates" toured and played their instruments on stage -- never cracking a smile or leaving character as they sang faux heavy metal lyrics such as "as Big bottom, big bottom. Talk about bum cakes, my girl's got 'em."

Spinal Tap was followed up by
A Mighty Wind (a parody of folk music), and Waiting for Guffman (a parody of community theater).

In A Mighty Wind and Waiting for Guffman, as with Spinal Tap, Guest's comedy depended on his movie audience recognizing that his characters had very close approximations to real types.

In A Mighty Wind, for example, estranged folk musicians are modeled on the likes of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Mamma Cass and Denny Doherty, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

In Spinal Tap, the repeated demise of drummers in freak accidents is a reference to the untimely deaths of such rock percussionists as Keith Moon, John Bonham, Eric Carr, Nicholas Dingley, and Dennis Wilson.

For his entry into the dog show world, Christopher Guest created "Best in Show," in which dog show archetypes are dissected with the precision of a surgeon and the cultural sensitivity of an anthropologist.

The thread that holds the tapestry of characters together in Best in Show is not dogs, so much as the recognition that many of the people that attend dog shows seem to be "working out" their issues through the world of dogs. We laugh at the joke because it is so often true, and everyone in the audience knows it and "gets it."

A repeated theme in the movie is dysfunction -- sexual dysfunction, social dysfunction, and emotional dysfunction.

The fact that many dogs show obsessives are driven by a hole in their soul, and that that they seek to fill this hole through the surrogacy of dogs and dog shows is faced head on.

Many of the "normal" people that frequent dog shows are slightly odd, and more than a handful seem to be trying to compensate for the absence of children in their lives by dressing up their dogs, dancing with their dogs, or -- as in this case -- singing to them. Frustrated maternal instincts from both straight and gay couples are worn on the sleeve for anyone who takes the time to look for them.

A recurring theme in Best in Show is the large number of openly gay and closeted gay people that can be found at dog shows. In the clip below, a sad and powerful story is told in a single line: "I asked my ex-wife ... who's that?" The painful laughs that follow are triggered because almost everyone familiar with dog shows knows a character who fits the story. This is a story about lost lives.

Another recurring theme in Best of Show
 is that people of moderate financial means often seek personal recognition and an improved social position by participating in the world of dog shows. Or, to put it more succinctly: "Make Fern City proud" !

The role of the dog show judge as part-and-parcel of the scene gets a delightful send up when color-commentator Fred Willard and his side-kick come together to steer the TV public through the judging process. The judge, "a retired school teacher from New Jersey," is initially mistaken for a man, and Willard cannot help but blink at the way she will spend her day.

Following the success of Best in Show, Bravo-TV did a "reality" show knock-off of the movie. It says quite a lot that they had no problem finding a ready cast of real people to populate their series: Showdog Moms & Dads.

In this series, a cast of "real dog show people" were followed around to canine events across the country including a woman with no kids who freely admitted to displacing her maternal instincts on to her German Shepherds; a married man (and former AKC judge) who came off as a closeted version of Liberace; two screaming queens and their Toy Fox Terrier; a woman whose relationship with her Weimeraner appeared to be much stronger than her relationship with either her husband or reality, and; a "normal" person who was a single-mom and dog trainer trying to raise her son in a dog show world -- and with dog trainer commands.

I suspect Best in Show and Showdog Moms & Dads made some people in the dog show world uncomfortable, if for no other reason than rooms full of people were laughing out loud at scenes not so very different from reality.

Is this what we look like to the rest of the world, they wondered? Others protested that not everyone at a dog show is dysfunctional ... or gay ... or controlling ... or ego driven.

To which we can reply: Of course not. Not everyone at a Star Trek convention was unpopular in high school. Not everyone at a gun show is a Republican. Not everyone who listens to "Peter Paul & Mary" is a Democrat.

But that's the way to bet.

The bottom line is that tribes do share cultures, values, backgrounds and experience. And the people at dog shows are a tribe every bit as strong as those at a Star Trek convention, a gun show, or a "Peter Paul & Mary" concert.

The success of Best in Show, and Christopher Guest's other movies, is based on his understanding that obsessive groups do differ from us and each other, and those differences make the people in those groups both interesting and amusing.

Certain "types" are "over-represented" at almost every convention or tribal gathering. The result is that if you want to see tattoos, Bike Week is not a bad place to start, and if you are studying psychological dysfunction, a dog show is not a bad place to collect test subjects.

Of course, if you are looking for plain crazy, you can also do pretty well at the local dog park! As Cesar Milan's show, The Dog Whisperer, suggests, a lot of people have very dysfunctional relationships with their dogs outside of the show ring.

A commonality here,
as I have noted in the past, is that a lot of people with "dog problems" treat their dogs as if they are human children rather than what they really are ... which is a dog.

Too often, the result is a dog that thinks it is "top dog." These confused "top dogs" believe they must discipline the humans in their pack and also protect their packs (human and non-human alike) from outside intruders. The result is a disaster, as Showdog Moms and Dads captures so humorously on film.

Paradoxically, this little bit of "reality" turns out to be more surreal -- and at least as comical -- as anything dreamed up by Christopher Guest.

In an interview with an Australian publication, Christopher Guest explained how he got the idea for the movie:

"I got the idea for Best in Show six years ago when [wife Jamie Lee Curtis] and I were taking our mutts to the dog park in Los Angeles. I noticed a real dynamic that existed between owners and their pets. The pure-breeds looked down on our mutts in the same way their owners looked down on us. I started attending dog shows to meet the people and to see just how serious this all could get at the top level."

And so, you see, it really did start in a dog park!

Oh, You're Venomous?!

Sounds terrifying!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Weekend reading - UPDATED

The long summer school holiday in Australia ends next week and everything will be back to "normal" again. It's been a hot summer here, especially in the west and down south and I think most of us are looking forward to autumn. I hope all my friends in colder climates are staying warm and safe. Enjoy your weekend, and to all my Australian readers - Happy Australia Day for Sunday. We'll be having

The Dog Show Joke

I got a call from a major television sports outlet the other day. They were thinking about doing a show about dog shows as a sport.

Dog shows?!  As a SPORT?  I laughed.

Dog shows are not a SPORT. They are a competition, but they are not one in which the dog or the owner is showing any athleticism, nor any expertise, nor much of any skill, unless you consider paying other people to walk your dog around a ring and brush and cut the hair to hide all faults a special skill, in which case I can hardly wait to see the "Wide World of Hair Dressing."

To be clear, at the top of the dog showing game, the owner is often not the breeder, and the person walking the dog around the ring is almost certainly a paid professional handler.

Professional pool might be a sport.  Sure Minnesota Fats was horribly out of shape, and sucked down cigars and whiskey like he was a garbage disposal working on potato peelings, but at least that man had real skills.  The average person, given a pool stick, cannot run a table.  But anyone can buy a dog, anyone can breed a dog, and anyone can walk a dog around a ring without a second's worth of study.  In fact, that is the attraction of dog shows for people who are out of shape, have no skill, and who often have low economic standing, and were never good looking enough to be homecoming queen or cheerleader.

A dog show allows people as common as a turnip top to insinuate themselves into royalty and money.  "Oh yes," the slightly overweight 55-year old school teacher from Matewan tells you, "Chauncey has five champions in his pedigree and he is of a breed created by the Earl of Leicester at his estate at Thrumpton-on-Avon to point peacocks for the Maharaja of Jaipur."

Right.  The whole thing is to laugh.

In fact, the notion that dog showing is a "sport" is such an obvious joke, that it is an annual staple of Stephen Colbert over at The Colbert Report.

Of course, most Americans want nothing to do with the joke that is Westminster and the extended joke that is the American Kennel Club.

As I have noted in the past, while more Americans than ever own dogs, far fewer Americans are embracing the deformed, defective and diseased dogs of the AKC than they did 20 years ago.

AKC registrations have plummeted, and at current rates of membership loss, the AKC will not have a dog to register by 2025.

In fact, today, AKC-registered dogs represent only about 10 percent of all dogs acquired each year in the U.S. -- and that number is going down every day.

The Dog Trainer by Henry Van Ingen

From 1882.
Henry Van Ingen was a Dutch painter who taught at Vasser College in Poughkeepsie, New York.  He died in 1898.

Foreign Aid is Permanently Saving the World

Bill Gates writes:
By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. You might think that such striking progress would be widely celebrated, but in fact, Melinda and I are struck by how many people think the world is getting worse. The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful.

Yep.  I have said the same thing myself and even "bet the farm" on the future of the world (OK, it was an ant farm, but still, it was real money from a guy who works for a living).

This morning, before posting this note to the blog, I sent a note to two people I know from back in the days when I worked on U.S. and world population policy, noting the current Total Fertility Rate for countries that used to send tremendous numbers of immigrants to the United States:
The Total Fertility Rate for the US is now 2.1. For Mexico, it's just 2.2. For El Salvador it's 1.99. For Vietnam it's 1.89. For Cuba it's 1.46.
For the record, replacement level fertility is 2.1.

Countries as diverse as Korea (1.24 TFR in the South, 1.99 in the North), Tunisia (2.01), Iran (1.86), Italy (1.41), France (2.08), Ireland (2.01), and Morocco (2.17), have low fertility rates.

China and India combined (TFR of 1.55 and 2.55 respectively) have replacement level fertility.

South Africa's Total Fertility Rate has dropped to just 2.25.

Sure there are areas where fertility remains high, but even here it is falling fast. Kenya has a TFR of 3.76, but that's down from 8.1 in 1977. Iraq has a TFR of 3.5, but that's down from 7.40 in 1970. Pakistan's TFR is 2.96, but that's down from 6.60 in 1980.

The simple truth is that thanks to information, education, and access to family planning, clean water, antibiotics, vaccines, and a little bit of capital and guidance from overseas, the world is dramatically improving, which is exactly what the Marquis de Condorcet predicted.

Coolest New Instrument You Will See Today

This instrument is called a Hang, and it was invented in Switzerland in 2000.

A close variation of the Hang is the Hand Pan, examples of which are made by Pantheon Steel in the U.S. where there is a waiting list to buy one, and they are not cheap.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kevin's happiness project

I'm late to my blog today, but I thought it was better late than not at all. I've been doing the final reading of my next book and ebook, making bread and cleaning. I hope you enjoy your day.


I have been watching Kevin's Hand-made Home on TV and enjoying it a lot. It's like a bloke's over the top version of what we're doing here, and what a lot of you do. He is seeing what he can make

Common Roots: Rosettes and Animal Rights

This is a repost from April 2004.

A book some might find of interest is "The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age" by Harriet Ritvo [Harvard University Press, 1989]

Ritvo points out that the Dog Show crowd and the Animal Rights crowd spring from the same root-stock of sentiment, and in both cases the animals are the side-show, not the main event.

Ritvo writes that in the Victorian era and into the 20th Century dog show folks "elevated standards that had no basis in nature or aesthetics but reflected the ignorant, self-interested caprices of fanciers who wished to boost the prestige of their own stock in order to associate themselves with people of good breeding." And, of course, it paid, with show winners being sold for cash -- a quick way for people of low rank to buy themselves up the social ladder. If one had a dog that was "best of breed," then surely the owner must be of similar worth, right??

Ritvo notes that terriers were particularly singled out for attention by the show ring preeners and pretenders, and that "'The Fox Terrier Chronicle, the only 19th Century periodical devoted to a single breed of dogs, covered the terrier elite the way that newspapers and other periodicals covered human high society."

Ritvo notes that dog fanciers projected "an obsessively detailed vision of a stratified order, which sorted animals and, by implication, people into snug and appropriate niches" with dog shows offering "a dizzying range of classes and then abstracted from them a carefully calibrated hierarchy of animals, ranging from those who did not place even in their sub-breed category to the best in show."

In short, the attraction of dog shows was that people, who themselves were as common as a turnip top, could now fancy that they were among the social elite. They did not have to have real knowledge of animals, or have an important job or title or large estate -- they just had to purchase a dog from a "reputable" show breeder and put on airs.

As one Victorian periodical noted, "nobody now who is anybody can afford to be followed about by a mongrel dog."

Ritvo notes that "Specialist clubs were supposed to defend their breeds against the vicissitudes of fashion, but they had few other guides in their attempts to establish standards for breeds and judges."

Even in the Victorian era, almost no one walking into the ring with a "working" breed actually worked their dogs. After almost half a century of formal shows, the author of a manual for dog owners noted that "the sportsman will as a rule have nothing to do with the fancier's production."

All of the above is from the Second chapter of Ritvo's book. The Third chapter is about the rise of the Animal Rights movement, and here we see the same class issues popping up that we did in the previous chapter. Just as honest working dogs were labeled "mongrels best for the dustbin," so too were the people that owned them. The analogies made were simple and direct: Coarse people had coarse dogs and engaged in coarse behavior. Show people had "pedigree" dogs and they did not engage in coarse behavior.

Of course, not everything was quite as simple as this in the real world. No matter -- the goal of the RSPCA was not entirely about animals anyway -- it was in no small part all about putting down the poor and the rural and castigating them for having "undisciplined" values.

Towards this end, Ritvo notes that the tracts of the RSPCA "implicitly identified the lower classes as the source of brutality," even as this same organization gave "the big wink" to fox hunting and grouse hunting which were common pastimes of the rich and landed.

Today, of course, the people you see at a PETA rally and the folks that you see trotting their dogs around a show ring are not all that different demographically.

In his book "In Defense of Hunting," James A. Swan notes that the Animal Rights crowd is dominated by people that are "white, urban, predominantly female, nicely dressed" and that many of them are "people who have gone through painful divorces or have had traumatic childhoods or have otherwise been hurt by the norms of society."

Food for thought .... make of it what you will.

The Caucasian Culture of Canines

Reposted from 2008.

As the web site entitled Stuff White People Like, they poke fun at the Caucasian culture of canines anthropomorphism:

A lot of cultures love dogs - be it for entertainment, labor, or other. But white people love dogs on an entirely different level.

It should be understood that in white culture, dogs are considered training for having children. That is to say that any white couple must get a dog before they have kids. This will prepare them for responsibility by having another creature to feed, supervise it’s bathroom activities, and to love. Because of this, white people generally assume that their dog is their favorite child unless otherwise stated.

When actual children are born, the dog is not displaced but rather remains as the most important member of the household. This is because of the fact that white children will eventually hate their parents, but dogs will love anyone who feeds them.
White people generally believe that dogs have human emotions and that they are capable of loving certain TV shows, films, and music. “Buster just loves watching Six Feet Under!” Even though most dogs would enjoy watching Hitler if he were getting attention every time it came on the TV.

They also believe that their dogs share similar tastes in food - “Little Ben Kweller likes the Organic food the best.” Forgetting the fact that dogs enjoy eating their own feces, and pretty much anything that falls onto the floor.

When searching for homes, many white people will require large yards so that their “dog can run around.” If you work in real estate, this can be exploited for large markups when selling to white people.

It is also a proven fact, that dogs are often used by white people to attract members of the opposite sex. Bringing a puppy or dog to a local dog park, will encourage interaction and conversation. Even more so than a Mac Laptop.

If white people are ever talking about their dogs, it is essential that you reassure them that their dogs are absolutely special and unique. That they are being properly cared for, and that treating them like children is the only way to care for a pet. Under no circumstance EVER should you say anything that is derogatory towards dogs, critical of spoiling dogs, or that they are not full members of society who deserve the same rights as humans. Doing any of these three things will completely destroy all relationships you might have had with a white person.

The Voice of the Farm

From Birds & People by Mark Cocker, available from Amazon (via way of Futility Closet) comes this little gem:
I was in the Outer Hebrides and I came across an abandoned derelict croft. It had no roof, but very substantial walls and in the gaps between the stonework was a starlings’ nest. I could hear the birds inside, and eventually one of the starlings came to defend its territory. I heard straight away that it wasn’t just the usual rambling song. It started to mimic a Corncrake, a species that is very rare in mainland Britain. It did this bird’s buzzing repetitive song, but then it immediately went into other sounds that seemed familiar and had a strong rhythm to them. As I was listening I was looking around and could see the remnants of farm machinery, including an ancient tractor that had not moved for 20-30 years. I realized this bird was singing the song of some of this machinery. It was singing the song of a mechanical pump that had obviously been active around this farm, and used by the people who had lived here.

I wasn’t listening to the same starling that heard these original sounds. These copied sounds are usually passed on from parents or neighboring birds so that a young bird absorbs and then duplicates them. The strange thing was that I was recording the sounds in what had been somebody’s living room, a place that had obviously been full of the conversations of family life over generations and which had passed into history. Yet the birds had returned and taken it back — claimed this space and these rocks — and were singing their own song. And they were singing the songs that were around when the people were here.

Read a review of the book here.

The mimicry of starlings is rather famous, and Mozart had a pet bird that did classical tunes.

As I noted in a post back in 2009,

Believe it or not, the more than 200 million European Starlings found in North America
today are direct descendants of approximately 100 birds introduced into New York City's Central Park sometime in the early 1890s.

Sturnus vulgaris owes its presence in this hemisphere to an odd little New York City group called the "American Acclimatization Society" which was dedicated to introducing all of the birds mentioned in William Shakespeare's works into Central Park. Previous attempts to introduce Starlings in the Northeast, Midwest and on the West Coast had failed, but the 1890 release was spectacularly successful, as today's massive winter flocks attest.


The Cure for AIDS

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gideon Exits a Fox Den

Gideon exits a fox den. We have bolted a number of red fox from this den in the past, but no one was home yesterday, as it was 50 degrees out.  Today, the federal government is closed because... wait for it... we expect as much as three inches of snow.  Welcome to the South, where weather can go in any direction, and we are never ready for any of it!

Judy Garland Auditions Totos


Oh My God, Chem Trails!

Walking the farms yesterday.

In the Land of the Blind

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nature, Red in Beak and Claw

Hunting inside the woods yesterday, I came across this little scene.  A hawk, no doubt a red tail, nailed either a hairy or a downy woodpecker, and then plucked it clean on the log.  Feather identification made species identification a bit easier, below.

Within a few yards were numerous woodpecker holes. The one, immediately below, is from a downy or hairy woodpecker, the large mortise-cut below that is the trademark work of a pileated woodpecker.

As for the woodpecker feathers, I have a few saved for a friend who is a fly-tier.  This bird's death will neither be anonymous nor useless.

A recipe for slow

Thank you so much to those who looked at Sarndra's facebook page and liked it or ordered clothes. We tried to get her up over the 1000 mark. We didn't make it but we gave it a good try. It went from 611 to 842. It was a great effort and I thank you for helping. If you're looking for good quality baby or toddler clothes, check in there to see what Sarndra available.


I have been getting a

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Save money on your accounts

We take the time every year to review our accounts because sometimes there are savings to be made. January is a good time to do it because we all feel fired up at the beginning of the year and often we've got more time because of the holidays. We wanted to increase our internet download capacity from 50GB to 100GB. We've been on 50 for a few years now and while we don't go over, we sail pretty

Gideon Slides In

I accidentally found out the if you shoot five or more pictures, back to back, G+ will sew them together for you in an animated GIF. That GIF cannot not be posted on Facebook (which does not take animated GIFs) or blogger (which also does not take animated GIFs), but if you load the animated GIF on to a server then, presto-change-o, your own little movie burst is made from a series of fixed photos.

There's also a cool little free application for the iPhone called "fast Camera" that makes rapid photo bursts.  Putting them together every once in a while could be fun!

Fox on the Hill

There's a fair amount of wildlife in Washington, D.C., from coyotes in Rock Creek Park to blue herons, Canada geese, red tail hawks, and bald eagles. And, of course, there are deer, raccoons and red fox all over, though these animals tend to move at night and are thus rarely seen.

A red fox is now hunting during the daylight hours in front of the Capitol -- a grand location for him, as the squirrels here are so fat, tame, and openly unafraid that it's like hunting at McDonald's -- one reason there is an almost-permanent red tail hawk sitting in a tree in front of the Supreme Court.