Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Coffee and Provocation

Texas Monitors Dogs to Track Chagas Disease
Chagas disease is an infection caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted by the bite of the blood sucking triatomine insect. Because chagas causes a chronic infection of the heart, nervous system and digestive system, and knows no borders, its spread in the southern U.S. could be quite serious. Chagas can be hosted inside all kinds of animals, and dogs are particularly susceptible to the disease, as they are outdoors a lot and commonly exposed to triatomines. A 2009 study in Texas found large numbers of triatomine insects around kennels, and more than half of the dogs tested were found positive for chagas infection. A survey of dogs in Texas shelters found the prevalence of chagas infection ranged from 6.7% to 13.8%.

Dog Food and Whiskey
That expensive boutique dog food you shell out big bucks for at the pet store is almost certainly made in a big anonymous factory owned by Menu Foods, Diamond, or some other massive corporation that make the cheapest stuff that can be cranked out through an extruder and shoved into a bag.  But what of your expensive craft whiskey? Yep, it too is a likely fraud, cranked out of an old Seagram's factory in Indiana.

Know When to Say When?
With coffee, it's nonsense, as every coffee cup size is different, and every cup is made differently too.  This is not a standardized product.

Rabbit Poop Flame Thrower
How to build a flame thrower with rabbit poop.  One of the greatest titles ever.  You are welcome.

Massive Jump in Battery Life?
It's just around the corner, and it will impact everything from your cell phone to your next car.  It's all about the ions.

The NRA's Top Lawyer is a Convicted Murderer

Support Mental Health or I'll Kill You
A psychiatric patient who was angry that Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital had a "gun free zone" policy, decided the appropriate response was to pull out a gun and starting shooting everyone. When Richard Plotts, age 49, pulled out a gun and started firing, his psychiatrist pulled out his own gun and fired back, and never mind the violation of the gun-free-zone policy.  Both men ended up wounded, but psychiatrist Dr. Lee Silverman stopped Plotts from shooting anyone else and is being praised as a hero. 

Why Italy Is Not as Warm as You Think
Rome is north of Chicago. Venice is north of Minneapolis. London is north of Calgary. Paris is nine miles south of the U.S.-Canada border.

A Corpse Was Left Under a Motel Bed for 5 Years

This has to be the worst cleaning crew ever.

Americans are Fat Because Their Refrigerators are Too Big
This actually sounds right to me.

McDonalds Is Going to Have to Rethink Everything 
The National Labor Relations Board has just ruled that the McDonalds is a “joint employer” with all of its franchisees, making the fast-food giant responsible for working conditions, including pay, at over 14,000 restaurants. McDonald's and other chains have repeatedly said their franchisees are responsible for wages and working conditions, not them. But the NLRB says McDonald's controls the terms of the operations of its restaurants.  This was not a hard call in my opinion; franchise agreements control every part of an operation, from parking lot size to the brand and amount of butter on the bun. The Mother Ship corporation doesn't determine wages and working conditions too?  Nonsense.

The "Quit Lawyering" Job 
Apparently being a lawyer is so boring and soul-sucking that most lawyers would rather have their cars repossessed and their kidneys taken out involuntarily than read the small type on any contract.

Steve Irwin's Fierce Snake Fakery

Sometimes, telling a story is all about knowing what to leave off.

For example, did I ever tell you about the time I was stopped at the Orlando airport for a handgun violation ?

True story, and quite a scene, actually.

The security guy asked me to step away from my bag. Was there something I wanted to tell him? No?

Well then, could I explain what the gun was doing inside my carry-on?

I could not. I had no idea what he was talking about.

The cop was not amused.

He drew the gun from my bag, and my wife stepped forward and told the officer it was hers. "She does the packing in my family," I explained.

So what happened next?

Nothing. Using my best Jedi Mind Trick technique, I convinced the officer we were not the droids he was looking for.

Now, this story is entirely true, and that's the way I tell it in the hillbilly bars in West Virginia where a man is not a man unless he has had at least one gun violation in his youth.

What I leave off is the fact that the family and I were coming back from Walt Disney World, and the gun in question was a cap gun still in its packaging. My wife had bought the toy for my son (then age 7) as a consolation prize while I took my daughter on the Tower of Doom -- the ride he was too young to go on.

I recount this tale because it makes a point: sometimes, for the benefit of story, it's best to leave off a little information.

Steve Irwin knew that. In fact, he made his fame and fortune by leaving off a little information.

Take, for example, those endless specials on Animal Planet in which Steve could be seen driving around Australia to handle "The Ten Deadliest Snakes in the World."

Steve would leap off his motorcycle and run across the scrub and grab up a "Fierce Snake" while explaining that this snake had "the most toxic venom of any snake in the world -- 750 times as venomous as a common cobra."

And he would say this all pumped up full throttle in that delightful Australian accent of his. What a mad man!

It was terrific showmanship. And complete nonsense.

Steve never actually lied, of course. Instead, he simply left off an important bit of information. And the important piece of information he left off was that he was using the LD50 index of snake toxicity to determine which snakes were the "world's deadliest."

Now there is nothing wrong with the LD50 index. In fact, it's a global standard with guidelines laid down by the World Health Organisation.

But there's something you need to know when it comes to the LD50 test -- it's a test of toxicity in snakes in which individual mice receive equivalent quantities of venom (i.e. each mouse is weighed, and equal amount of venom are administered by weight).

The LD50 score is the amount of venom administered to each mouse to the point that 50% of the sample die. The lower the LD50 score, the higher the venom toxicity to mice.

Of course, the LD50 score is completely meaningless in the real world. For one thing, not every species of snake administers the same amount of venom when biting. In addition, some kinds of venom are particularly lethal to mice, but virtually harmless to humans and most other animals.

That's the kind of information Steve Irwin left off!

And so, when Steve leaped off the motorcycle and grabbed up "the deadly Fierce Snake" we watched transfixed at this man's reckless bravery, his facile familiarity with snakes, his volcanic enthusiasm.

"Krikey mate, that was a close one!" he would exclaim like a carnival barker at a Midwest midway. Somehow we knew we were being had, but we were not sure how. After all this was Animal Planet; surely they would not lie to us in order to increased their ratings? Would they?

In fact, the "deadly poisonous" snakes of Australia are virtually harmless. Far more people die each year in Australia from horse back riding accidents than snakebites (21 people a year v. 1.6 people a year.

That too is a little fact Steve Irwin left off.

And while Steve liked to talk up the dangers of Salt Water Crocodiles, here too we find very few deaths.

You want to know what kills more people in Australia than any other wild animal? It's not the Salt Water Crocodile. It's not the deadly Fierce Snake or the King Brown or the Tiger Snake.

It's the honey bee.

Funny how Steve forgot to tell us about that!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pups in the Yard

Humor: The Bizarre Truth About Purebred Dogs


On top of the stone dog house.


Like so many things done with dogs, you move sheep with pressure.

Pressure is what a Terrier uses to move a fox to a stop end underground, and what a Pointer uses to make a bird stop running and then flush.

Pressure is a subtle thing; the use of the code inside one animal to raise the code inside another.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mike Rowe Gets a Terrier

Mike Rowe, of Dirty Jobs fame, has acquired a homeless dog
It is, of course, an American dog which is to say that it is full of vim and vigor, of pedigree unknown, and to be judged on the attitude it brings to the job, not some scrap of paper issued by pretenders on Madison Avenue in New York City. 
And, since the job is likely to be dirty, it is a terrier of some sort.
Appears a puppy’s in my possession. If I had to guess, I’d say a terrier mix of some sort, maybe two months old. Yesterday he was homeless, today he’s not, and this morning we’re getting acquainted. All I know for sure is his teeth are sharp and he craps like a puma.

Being a person who thinks outside the box, Mike chose the dog's name using a kind of "puppy poo bingo," which seems like such a good idea that I thought I would share it. 
Mike wrote down the six names he liked best on a bit of puppy pen liner, and then let the dog "check the box" so to speak.  Freddie it is!

A standing offer to Mike is a day in the fields of Maryland for him and Freddie. As I have said in the past, owning a terrier without taking him out into the field is like owning a bottle of wine in order to read the label. 
And is Freddy ready for that Dirty Job?  Give him six months, and he will be!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dog Attack!

Puppies take down the Old Lady. No animals were harmed in the making of this movie.

Too Obvious?

If you routinely drive around in the rural countryside digging holes in the woods and you carry a shovel, a machete, a folding saw, a small hatchet, and a knife with you, would this be the wrong sticker to put on the back of your vehicle?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Vultures Are Vomiters, Not Raptors

For years, it was believed that all vultures were raptors, members of the order Falconiformes.

In 1994, however, it was discovered that vultures on this side of the Atlantic actually share a common ancestor with storks and ibises. Now, New World vultures are recognized as Ciconiiformes, in the family Cathartidae, while European, African, and Asian vultures are recognized as Old World vultures (family Accipitridae, subfamily Aegypiinae). There are 15 species of Old World Vultures and 7 Species of New World Vultures.

What is a buzzard?

In the U.S. vultures are often called "buzzards," but in actually a buzzard is a European member of the hawk family. The European buzzard, Buteo buteo, is closely related to the American red tailed hawk.

Almost all the vultures you see in the U.S. are Turkey Vultures. Black Vultures also exist in the South, but they do not have the graceful flight of the Turkey Vulture and are not as common. California Condors (a type of vulture) have been retintroduced in California and Arizona, but are so rare you are unlikely to see one in your entire life unless you make a special trip to the remote areas where they have been released.

Turkey Vultures got their name from their bald red heads. The lack of feathers on their head are an adaptive mechanism -- when a vulture is eating a dead animal, it often sticks its head inside the carcass to reach the meat. Feathers on the head would trap unwanted flesh and blood, along with bacteria. A bald head, then, is an adaptive mechanism for cleanliness, as is the vulture's habit of urinating down its own legs -- another way to clean off clinging bits of flesh and bacteria.

Turkey Vultures have few predators, other than man. Their nests are scratched out of bare patches of soil on cliff faces and out of the rotting wood at the tops of broken trees. They will often nest in the sides of abandoned farm buildings as well -- old silos being a favorite location. Vulture nests are subject to predation by raccoons, but the vulture as a fairly effective defensive mechanism -- it vomits up a large masses of semi-digested meat along with very acidic digestive juices. The smell of Turkey Vulture Vomit is rather astounding, and the stomach acid is acidic enough to burn a raccoon's eyes.

You will rarely see Turkey Vulture flying in the early morning, as they launch themselves from trees, cliffs, powerlines, barns and silos only after the morning air has warmed up. A Vulture will fly into a thermal uplift, ride it up in a wide circle, and then glide across the sky at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour gently falling until they reach the next thermal which they in turn ride up again -- repeating the process adinfinitum. On a good day, a Turkey Vulture can glide for four of five hours without flapping its wings.

The feet of a Turkey Vulture are very weak and are built a bit like a chicken's -- they cannot catch small prey like a rabbit. Road kill is their primary food source, and the rise in deer, raccoon, possum and groundhog populations has meant a rise in turkey vultures. Vultures are also common on river banks where they scavenge washed-up fish.

Dorothy Parker's Dogma

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Dig a Hole

T shirt available here

An instruction piece on how to dig a hole?

I would not write such a piece if I had not seen it done poorly often enough.

Let's start at the beginning: Slow down.

As odd a piece of advice as that sounds, that's where to start when it comes to digging holes. Most people are too quick to dig, and don't give their dog enough time to push quarry to a stop end or a bolt hole. If you've dug to your dog only to find it has moved farther down the pipe, you are probably guilty of digging too soon -- welcome to the club!

Once you think the dog has worked the quarry to a stop end, and you've located the spot with the locator box, drive the bar into the ground a foot or two, and give it a good rattle. Stomp on the ground. Then wait a few seconds and box again. If the dog and the quarry are still in the same place, you're ready to dig.

If the box suggests the den pipe may be only two to three feet down, I would recommend using the bar to make sure you have the exact location of the den pipe fixed.

Using a digging bar as a probe is not difficult, but it’s not quite as obvious as it sounds either. The trick to getting a bar through two, three or even four feet of dirt and small stones is to repeatedly slam the bar into the first bar hole you create, and then widen that hole with a strong stirring motion, after which you slam deeper into the soil.

SLAM, slam, stir, stir. SLAM, slam, stir, stir.

Sideways pressure on the bar should put strong pressure on the bottom side, and top edge, of the hole. The goal is to use repeated strong persuasion, and not brute sideways force. You do not want to ruin a good bar by bending it!

As you get close to the depth of where the dog is located, bar more slowly and methodically -- you do not want to slam the bar into the dog, which can kill it. Slower beats faster at this stage!

In normal soil, you should be able to tell when the bar breaks through, as the bar will suddenly pass through a 6- to 12-inch void. Bang -- you found the den pipe! It's not quite so easy if the soil is as soft as cake batter.

Digging a hole sounds simple enough, but sometimes it isn't. In the U.S., most holes are shallow, which is why we can get away with posthole diggers much of the time. They are a nicety in the dense roots and brush of a hedgerow, but many still prefer to dig with a shovel alone, and on a dig deeper than three feet, shovel excavation is always required.

If your box shows a depth of up to three feet, the quickest way to get to the dog, and still have the room you will need to work, is to trench across the pipe about 3 feet long and a shovel-head-and-a-half wide. When you get down to within a foot of the pipe, use your bar to locate it, and then use a posthole digger or the shovel to carefully cut down into the pipe. A posthole digger is excellent here because it will remove the dirt cleanly. You will have to overlap the cutting circle of the posthole digger to cut an earth hole that is 10 to 12 inches across or more. I recommend digging deeper than the pipe and allowing the dog to push any extra dirt into the small "well" that results. Your final result should be a clean hole that is large enough that you can easily pull the dog when it is time to do that.

In truth, most digs require two holes. Often the terrier and the quarry move a bit farther up the pipe just as you break through. This is not a case of the dog moving backwards, but of the dog moving forwards -- often past a turn in the pipe where it had been stymied by the slashing teeth of the quarry.

If you find you need to dig another hole, do so, but again wait until the dog has pushed the quarry as far as it can. Pound on the ground one more time before you dig; you want to avoid a third hole if you possibly can.

If you are up to the quarry, it's important to block off the back end of the pipe before you pull the dog. If you fail to do so, the critter will bolt back into the rest of the sette as soon as the dog is pulled clear. Blocking off the back of the sette can be accomplished by either collapsing the pipe or by blocking it with dirt, rocks, shovel, or posthole digger.

Once you pull the dog, be careful the critter does not bolt out right over your foot and up your pants leg! Put in a shovel head if you have to step out of the hole for a minute.

Once you have pulled the dog, you may realize you have to cut the pipe back another 8 or 10 inches to get right up to the quarry in order to either see it for dispatch, to get a snare on it, or to encourage it to bolt.

One way to encourage a bolt is to drive a bar down behind the animal, and give the bar a good rattle. This is often enough to startle the quarry considerably. If the quarry is right there, simply place a branch or shovel handle in the hole, and give it a few minutes to gather its courage for the dash to freedom.

One thing I find distasteful are people who allow a dog to “work” quarry once the animal is firmly fixed in a stop end and has nowhere to go. This is baiting, and morally wrong, as well as dangerous to the dog. The job of the terrierman is to locate the quarry and dig down to it, not to “test” the dog by allowing it to subject a scared animal to more stress, or to allow the dog to become over-adrenalized to the point it may end up taking foolish risks and harming itself. There is a place to slip in the shovel and put up the dog, and that point is as soon as the quarry is firmly bottled in a short stop end.

Holes deeper than three and a half feet require a different approach, as you will need to be able to get into the hole to pull the dog and dispatch the quarry, otherwise you will find, at the end of the dig, that your arms are too short to reach.

At a depth of four feet, you should be digging a hole that is at least four feet around. When digging deeper than five feet, I recommend a square hole that is at least five feet on each side, as you will have to get the shovel sideways in the hole in order to toss out the dirt. You may want to make the hole a little bit longer than it is wide so that you have room to stand on one side of the hole while digging out the other side.

The deeper the hole, the more important it is to keep the sides square, and to level off the bottom of the hole as you dig. At depths greater than five feet, the danger of collapse has to be paid attention to, as does the logistics of clearing the hole with the dirt. Having someone topside to move spoil back from the edge is an excellent idea.

In holes that are deeper than six feet, you will want to cut footholes into the wall in order to be able to get out. In addition, you will need to cut a deep bench in one side of the hole so that the primary digger, at the bottom of the hole, can toss dirt up to a halfway point. Another digger will then stand on this bench and toss dirt clear of the hole.

If you are unlucky enough to hit running sand, you will need to put in a stick to keep track of the den pipe as you dig, and it will help if you come in from the side, rather than straight on top of the dog.

After a dig, take time to fill in holes, and in hedgerows or forest settes, jam sticks and branches crosswise into the hole so the den pipe is not packed solid with dirt when refilled.

Most dens will eventually be reoccupied, and the more dens that remain intact, the more likely your farms will remain productive for seasons to come.

America's Most Popular Dog

Meet and Greet With Pups

The dogs are getting a lot of socialization -- kids, dogs, old people, cars, lawn blowers, grass trimmers, law mowers, people with canes, etc.  You can never see to much at this age.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Coffee and Provocation

The Plague is Still With Us... and Dogs Can Be a Vector
In Colorado four residents have recently been diagnosed with the Bubonic Plague after coming in contact with a dog that became infected and died from the illness. The dog most likely got the plague from a Prairie Dog (a type of marmot). Prairie Dogs, in turn caught the plague from a flea riding a black rat who was riding a train from the West Coast of the U.S. around 1900. The plague got to the West Coast of the U.S. on a rat stowing away with a boatload of Chinese illegal immigrants brought into San Francisco. In China, the Bubonic Plague has also appeared due to transmission from a dog fed a marmot. Parts of Yumen, a city in northwestern China with a population of about 100,000, has been sealed off to contain spread of the plague.  The Bubonic Plague cannot infect marmots on the East Coast of the U.S. because the environment is too wet to support the Black Rat flea.

George Harrison Tree Killed by Beetles
Los Angeles gently weeps, but a new tree is slated to replace it -- hopefully something a little more robust than a pine.

The Problem With Sterile Roosters
The world’s largest poultry breeding company, Aviagen Group, says a higher percentage than normal of its roosters are sterile to the an inclination of the birds to overeat.  The company is tweaking the genetics a bit, and the problem should soon be straightened out.

Just Discovered Amazon Tribe Infected With Flu
Another one bites the dust?

Bicycle and Equestrian Helmets With Flare
Want to wear a brain-bucket that looks like a fedora while bicycling or riding your horse? Can do. Girly hats and manly hats for all types are available.

Fatter, Older, Taller
Humans are getting taller. They’re also fatter than ever before, and living longer too.

They Should Have Called the Town Watson
The elements ytterbium, yttrium, terbium, erbium, holmium, thulium, and gadolinium were all first discovered in ore from the same mine near the Swedish village of Ytterby.

Sixteen Years of Birth Control on a Switch?
A new birth control drug device that can be turned on or off, which lasts 16 years, and which delivers 30 micrograms a day of levonorgestrel, a hormone already used in several kinds of contraceptives, is on the horizon. The device will begin pre-clinical testing next year in the U.S., and the goal is to have it on the market by 2018.

Reality TV Shows Make for Fewer Teen Pregnancies?
Apparenlty some of them do.

A Celebration of Life
Earlier this month 40,000 people gathered in Rwanda for the 10th Kwita Izina, the annual ceremony that celebrates and names all of the known mountain gorillas born during the previous year in the Virunga National Park Transboundary Park. This year’s event honored 18 births, up from 12 last year.

The GOP Likes Obamacare?
By a margin of 3 to 1, Republicans actually like Obamacare.

The Bones and Veins of a Tree

A block of wood was planed down one layer at a time, and photographed between each pass, revealing the hidden life and motion coiled inside every tree.

Constant Course Correction

A Woof in Sheep's Clothing

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Coffee and Provocation

Dogs Used to Sniff Out Child Porn?
Apparently, dogs are being trained to sniff out thumb drives with the idea that they can be used to find hidden caches of child porn.  So far it sounds like it's mostly theory and not much reality.

China Has More Electric Vehicles than the U.S. Has Drivers?
China now has over 200 million electric-vehicle drivers. The surge in electric-vehicles can be traced to the 2002 SARS virus epidemic when mass-transit users became afraid to board a bus. The solution was to buy a 1-horsepower electric motorcycle for $200 to $450. The alternative caught on: In 2013, the Chinese bought 37 million two-wheeled electric vehicles.

Putting the Wild Back into the Water
In 1974, Montana stopped stocking trout in streams and rivers that supported wild trout populations. The result: trout fishing improved dramatically. Once stocking was discontinued, wild trout numbers doubled and tripled.

Leave a Smaller Footprint By Eating Chicken
It's better for the environment and your health.

Too Much Coffee?
The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to consumers that ingesting pure powdered caffeine sold in bulk online is not a great idea. A single teaspoon is equal to 25 cups of coffee.

Free E-Books to Download
Eight sources. Knock yourself out.

Do You Think Most People Pay No Taxes?
Right. And we have a nice bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

Jon Stewart and Jerry Seinfeld Get Coffee
And they drive to coffee in a car that makes the sound of virginity.

The U.S. Army Said a Woman Could Not Train Dogs


Endangered Monkey Business with Terriers

Britain Gone to the Dogs

Monday, July 21, 2014

Haters Gotta Hate (thinking not required)

The face of stupid looks just a little bit effeminate.

From the Metro
(UK) comes this little missive:
The leader of the youth arm of the British National Party has launched an attack on someone that he perceives to ‘challenge his principles’ – his own ‘gay’ dog.

Jack Renshaw, a student at Manchester University and the head of the BNP Youth, wrote the Facebook post alongside a picture of Derek the dog, in which he criticised the mutt for ‘licking the penises of other male dogs’.

‘I wish my dog would stop licking the penises of other male dogs,’ he wrote.

‘I love you, Derek (my dog) – but – don’t challenge my principles because my principles will likely win.’

Renshaw was recently involved in a controversial BNP recruitment film entitled ‘Fight Back’, in which he addresses his ‘fellow British youth’.

‘Who is responsible for the ongoing attempt to eradicate the British culture and the British identity through the forced assimilation of different cultures and different peoples?’ he asks.

Among other groups, including cultural Marxists and the media, ‘militant homosexuals’ comprise an ‘unholy alliance’ which is destroying society, according to Renshaw and his pals.

Want to see how terrible the BNP is? Here you go. Apparently Britain is in the shitter because of the "zionists" and the "cutural marxists"  and the "capitalists" and the "militant homosexuals" and "the media."

Right.  These kids are just ugly, angry, alienated, ignorant losers. Hitler's children come to Britain.

Netherlands: Shaped by Population Growth

With 400 inhabitants per square mile, the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe.

Clearly, in a country so densely populated, land is at a premium -- and it has been at a premium for a very long time.

The Roman historian Pliny noted that the people living in what is now Holland were "a miserable people living at the highest known level of the tides. They have built their huts and live like sailors when their land is covered-over, and like the shipwrecked when the tides have gone out."

In short, even with a very small population, life in the Netherlands was pretty grim 2000 years ago.

As the population of Holland grew, the need for land -- already in short supply -- increased. The Romans were the first to set about reclaiming arable land, and they did so by cutting canals and draining swamps. In the absence of family planning, however, the population of Holland continued to slowly grow, and by 1000 AD it had risen to well over 1 million and more aggressive land reclamation efforts were needed.

Since Roman times, increasing numbers of people in Holland had been building earthen berms around their lands in order to help keep water out and speed the drying of otherwise marshy land.

As increasing numbers of berms and dikes began to be linked to each other, the integrity of regional dike systems grew dependent upon each other. A "social contract" was needed, and it was soon created with neighboring farmers getting together to formally acknowledge their community dike-maintenance obligations.

By the 12th Century every Dutch farmer was required to maintain his portion of a dike, and this obligation was enforced by elected "water guardians" headed by a "dike reeve" or Dike Lord who could levy fines and subject miscreants to physical branding. In extreme cases, the "Law of the Spade" was evoked, in which dike-maintenance scofflaws were required to put their spade in the ground and leave their own lands forever. Neighbors of the offending farmer would then appoint someone else to take over the land and maintain the dike that the previous owner had so studiously ignored.

In short, the end result of a land shortage in the Netherlands was the OPPOSITE of what you might expect in a resource-scarcity situation. Instead of a war over farm land, the shortage of terra firma forged a culture in which working together towards a common good was not only expected, it was required.

In the absence of family planning, of course, the population of Holland continued to grow.

By 1300, it had risen to about 2.2 million people and the demand for land was as high as ever.

Around 1400 AD the first windmills showed up in Holland -- a new energy source that was quickly put to use pumping marshy land dry.

Population growth did not stop, of course.

The population that was 2.2 million in 1300 rose to 3.2 million by 1824 and then took off like a rocket as knowledge of basic hygiene resulted in a rapid decline in childhood mortality.

Holland's population rose to 4.2 million by 1855, 5.2 million by 1872, 6.2 million by 1884, 7.2 million by 1894, 8.2 million by 1904, and 9.2 million by 1915.

In 1921 the population of the Netherlands was 10.2 million and it continued to grow by leaps and bounds, hitting 11.2 million by 1929, 12.2 million by 1935, 13.2 million by 1942, 14.2 million by 1951, 15.2 million by 1963, 16.2 million by 1975, and 16.7 million by 2013.

Of course, as Holland's population continued to grow, so too did its need for land. Colossal dikes, canals, barrages, dams, pumping mechanisms, storm surge barriers and locks were constructed to reclaim more and more land from inland lakes, bays and coastal flats. As these marshy areas were "put under the plow," millions of acres of bird habitat were lost.

Today, more than half of Holland is composed of land wrestled from the sea, and more than three-quarters of its population lives on land that was once underwater at least part of the year.

Holland's reclamation of farm land has been terribly expensive, of course, but it has (surprisingly) not been so expensive that it has harmed Holland's economic development. As Johan Van Vern, the "father" of Holland's enormous post-WWII Delta Plan, has noted,

"The whole of the Delta Works can be had for one year's army budget, a mere trifle in the state economy of centuries."

In fact, Holland's GNI is not only higher than average for Europe, it is also higher than average for Western Europe and Northern Europe.

Nor has Holland's Delta Plan ever failed to hold back the sea. While the history of Netherlands is littered with stories of flood and ruin caused by dike failure, the history of the last 40 years is quite different thanks to modern engineering methods (concrete is a good thing) and much higher construction standards.

Today Holland's dikes are required to be built to a "Delta Safe" standard capable of withstanding a storm of a magnitude that might occur only once in 10,000 years. The result of such massive construction is that no one under age 40 in Holland has ever seen a dike breached by the sea.

The best news, of course, is that Holland has addressed its core underlying problem: rapid population growth.

Thanks to modern contraception, the Netherlands now has a total fertility rate (TFR) of just 1.7, and its population is expected to grow by less than a million people over the next 50 years (most of it due to demographic momentum abetted by immigration).

Another bit of good news, is that with Holland's dramatic slowing of population growth, the government has stopped building new dikes and has made the rather momentous decision to return some of its reclaimed land back to the sea.

The current plan is for one tenth of all Dutch farmland to eventually be returned to marsh, wetland, or flood plain forest.

An area of 600,000 acres of dry land is already in the process of being returning to seasonal or permanent flooding, and wild birds such as cormorants, spoonbills and marsh harriers are beginning to return to Holland after being driven from the land by drainage during the last Century.

Ogden Nash on Aging Dogs and Men

On a Good Dog

O, my little pup ten years ago
was arrogant and spry,
Her backbone was a bended bow
for arrows in her eye.
Her step was proud, her bark was loud,
her nose was in the sky,
But she was ten years younger then,
And so, by God, was I.

Small birds on stilts along the beach
rose up with piping cry.
And as they rose beyond her reach
I thought to see her fly.
If natural law refused her wings,
that law she would defy,
for she could do unheard-of things,
and so, at times, could I.

Ten years ago she split the air
to seize what she could spy;
Tonight she bumps against a chair,
betrayed by milky eye!
She seems to pant, Time up, time up!
My little dog must die,
And lie in dust with Hector's pup;
So, presently, must I.

Russia's Terriers of Oppression

The Black Russian Terrier may be the only breed of dog ever created by a state purely to subjugate its people. The Black Russian Terrier was created by the Russian Military, beginning in the 1930s with the intent of creating a heavy, aggressive, but tractable dog capable of patrolling prisons, military bases, and border areas during brutal Russian winters. In addition to patrol work, dogs were occasionally expected to pull carts, locate land mines, and aid wounded men.

The Black Russian Terrier is essentially a cross between three breeds: Giant Schnauzers, Airedales, and Rottweilers, with a little Newfoundland, Caucasian Ovcharka, Great Dane and Eastern European Shepherd thrown in for confusion.

Breed uniformity was achieved over a 20-year period by the state-owned Red Star Kennel whose sole function was to provide dogs to the Soviet armed services for border control and prison patrol.

The first breed standard was approved in 1958, with dogs standing 27-30 inches tall and weighing from 80-145 pounds.

The personalities of Black Russian Terriers are quite variable, and the dog is prone to hip dysplasia as the Russians did no x-raying of hips during their breeding program.

The coat of the Black Russian Terrier takes some keeping up, as it is a long-haired breed requiring regular combing and brushing, as well as scissoring every two months or so.

The Black Russian terrier entered the AKC in July of 2004 as part of the "working group."

Whether the Black Russian Terrier is a terrier at all is a good question.

What, exactly is a terrier?

An Airedale, for example, is generally classified as a terrier even though it is far too large to get to ground and is mostly derived from Otter hound and fox hound crosses. It's saving grace, of course, is that it looks very much like a Welsh Terrier which is nothing more than a cleaned up (and almost always nonworking) version of the nonpedigree working Fell Terrier.

The "American Staffordshire Terrier," of course is not a terrier at all -- it is simply the American pit bull that was once rejected by the AKC and then drawn back in under a different name when the AKC decided that cash money trumped sniffing social prejudices. So long as the AKC could call it something else (and the breeder checks cleared, of course) they would look the other way.

What are we to make of the Kerry Blue Terrier, which is another dog too large to go to ground?

Then we have all the terriers that were created wholecloth for the show ring, such as the Bull Terrier, and the terriers that are not terriers at all but miniature herding dogs (i.e., the Schnauzer).

Then we have the dogs that have been froo-froo'd to the point that they are walking hair dresser models, like the Sky Terrier, the West Highland White Terrier, and the Kennel Club Sealyham Terrier.

Finally, to keep things confusing, is a dachshund a terrier?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"H is for Hawk" Gets Solid Gold Review

From the Financial Times comes this review:
They say that bad books are the easiest to write about, which makes this review very difficult indeed – because H is for Hawk is a dazzling piece of work: deeply affecting, utterly fascinating and blazing with love and intelligence.
Read the whole thing.

The book is to be released July 31, 2014, at which point I assume it will also be available on Amazon in the U.S.  Hard to get a better opening to a review!

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights. You can write from the head or from the heart, from the intellect or the emotions. The best kind of writing – and it is rare – does both those things at once. It’s rare because it can be so very painful to produce, the discipline required to sit with raw feelings and turn them into ordered words not unlike the courage it would take to hold your hand on a hot radiator until it burns, and then force it back there, again and again. Macdonald has done just that, and the result is a deeply human work shot through, like cloth of gold, with intelligence and compassion – an exemplar of the mysterious alchemy by which suffering can be transmuted into beauty. I will be surprised if a better book than H is for Hawk is published this year.

Dogs Loved Barbara Woodhouse

When you bring very little flutter and a lot of simple clarity to the table, dogs pretty much love you.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Puppy Weights and Measures

Moxie weighs 4.6 pounds at 12 weeks which means, according to this online calculator, that she will tip in at 9 pounds and 14 oz as an adult.

Misto weighs 5.2 pounds at 10 weeks which means, according to this online calculator, that she will tip in at just under 12 pounds 13 oz as an adult.

We shall see... I expect a little more for the former and maybe a little less for the latter.  Gender makes a difference!

These are the Dog Days

In July and early August, the Dog Star, Sirius, rises and sets with the sun. Once upon a time, folks thought the combined effect of light from Sirius and the sun brought the heat of summer.  Now we know it's because God simply turns up the heat

This is Why We Can't Have Dogs Without Misery

Erin Auerbach is a flame-troller.

But don't take my word for it. Go read her piece in The Washington Post entitled, Why I’d never adopt a shelter dog again.

Here's the summary: "I went out and repeatedly got purebred brachycephalic dogs from a shelter and they ended up having health problems. I was a saint for taking care of these dogs, but I will never do it again. Instead, I am going to run out and buy more Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers from breeders because I think their suffering is cute. The French Bulldog I just got is not all farked up; he is from a show breeder but his spots were the wrong color for showing, so I was really lucky! Dogs from show breeders NEVER have cancer, epilepsy, arthritis, or bouts of pancreatitis. They are healthy, due to the fact that dogs must be in perfect health to participate in a dog show!"

Yes, I swear to God that is what this unresearched sack of drivel says.

Or I think it does.  It is so poorly written, it is hard to be sure.

This is what newspapers have become?  Good riddance to bad meat!

Erin Auerbach is such a poor writer and thinker she has to resort to flame-baiting to get anything in print.  Her piece for Salon was entitled "I hope my dogs die soon" which is the kind of piece you write when you have nothing intelligent to say and you are simply an attention whore.

No wonder I do not buy The Washington Post anymore, and rarely check the web site.

As for Ms. Auerbach, I hope she falls a great distance on to a sharp spike. The world is crowded and we need a great deal less of whatever it is she has to offer.

Worst Thing You Can Buy

The AKC GoodDog! Helpline is $79.99 for unlimited access to useless advice that could come from anyone and which is certified from the #1 endorser of puppy mill dogs in the world.

They are probably hoping you will not read
the Terms of Use, which they happily write in ALL CAPS to make them hard to read and to make them seem AS IF SHOUTED.

Terms of Use For AKC GoodDog!SM Helpline

These Terms of Use govern the use of the AKC GoodDog!SMHelpline. AKC reserves the right to modify these Terms of Use at any time without prior notice. Your use of the AKC GoodDog!SM Helpline following any modification constitutes your agreement to be bound by the Terms of Use as modified. The last date these Terms of Use were revised is set forth below.

1) The AKC GoodDog!SM Helpline is a support service offering telephone access to a dog trainer. The training advice offered will only be positive reinforcement training methods. The service will be available for the life of the enrolled dog and is non-transferable.
2) Access will be by toll free telephone number from calls originating in the United States only during published service hours. The hours of service may change at any time. You may incur charges when called from a cell phone; please contact your provider for more details.
3) You must be at least 18 years old to subscribe to the service.
4) The service
will not be able to provide training advice for situations involving aggression or other serious behavioral issues. If the trainer identifies such an issue the trainer will advise you to seek the services of a professional behaviorist and/or "in person" trainer which you agree to do.
5) If you are not satisfied with the service within seven (7) days of purchase, you will receive a full refund upon request. After which time no refunds will be granted.
6) There is no guarantee as to results.

Disclaimer of Warranties


Limitation of Liability


This seems to be a lot of legalese, trouble and expense for very dubious service.

I have a better idea.

For a limited time only, and only for readers of this blog, I am offering a Dog Trainers Magic Wand. Only $50. Your results may vary. Just click on the link below.  All profits will be donated to the Harry Potter Center for Children and Pets Afflicted by Dementors.


Operators are standing by. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Remember When Children Read Books?

Read this 1917 book full of terrier stories for children here.

What's Your Vet Charging You?

What's your vet charge for common services?

Is it on their web site? Is it posted in their office?

Why not?

Washington, D.C. is one of the most expensive places in America to live, and the Washington Humane Society charges (and openly lists) the following fees for comparison:

  • Regular Spay/Neuter Package (includes surgery, pain medication, e-collar and complimentary nail trim) $130
  • In-heat Spay additional $20
  • Pregnant Spay additional $25
  • Cryptorchid additional $20-$40
  • Over 100 lbs. additional $20
  • Aggressive Dog additional $20
  • Frontline flea treatment per dose $10
  • Distemper (DHPP) vaccination $10
  • Rabies vaccination $10
  • Nail trim $5
  • Microchip $35
  • E-collar $10
  • Heartworm test $20
  • Six months of heartworm preventative (under 50 lbs) $20
  • Six months heartworm preventative (over 50 lbs) $25

For the record, my own vet, which was voted one of the "Best Veterinary Hospitals" in the Washington, D.C. area has a web site but publishes NO pricing.

Again, why not?  I would complain, but I only see them about once every five years, as I do my own vet work for small wounds, shots, flea and tick, worming, etc.

How about your vet?  Google them and let's see how many out there actually report pricing!

And no, pricing is not everything, but since "no one goes to a bad doctor," it's not a small issue either, is it?

A Dog's Life :: Elvis Presley

Jack Russell to the end. The song is from Paradise, Hawaiian Style, released in 1966 and written by Ben Weisman. Weisman wrote 57 songs for Elvis. The lyrics are by Sid Wayne who co-wrote songs in almost every Elvis film.

Raccoon Steals 28 Pounds of Cat Food

Go big or go home!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Last of Italy

On my way back. Three hour drive to Rome, then turn in the car (line), get boarding pass (line), cross airport, wait, board, wait on tarmac, then 9 hour flight to Montreal, overlay for 3 hours, and then on to D.C. and a cab home. I figure 21 hours of travel.

I miss my wife. And dogs. But my wife most of all.  

Managed to drive a stick through Italy without incident despite 25 years in automatics, serious hills, hairpin turns, and deficient signage warning motorists of road construction.

Good people everywhere. Just keep your sense of humor and your expectations low. 


End note:  As low as I kept my expectations, United Airlines and Air Canada drilled for the basement. The pilot and a stewardess did not show up for the flight from Quebec to DC (wonder what they were doing together?), and the airline did not inform the passengers until after the plane was supposed to take off. That was two hours after the airline pilot was supposed to be there, and after every hope of making a connection on another flight that night had evaporated. In the end, I could not fly out from Montreal that day, and the airline put me through multiple lines and a lengthy wait before they gave me a voucher to go to some hotel a bus ride away. I got up at 4:30 in the morning, to make an 8 am flight with a connection through Toronto. I had to go through the boarding pass line, the baggage line, the secuity line, and the immigration inspection line all over again. And then I had to wait, wait, wait.  Signage is bad everywhere, and apparently everyone is new to their job.  Lesson:  never take a connector flight, especially not one in Canada.  Never take United.  Stay away from Air Canada.

Small House Movement

Monday, July 14, 2014

Nature Fakers and Dog Fakers

I posted a short bit about Ernest Thompson Seton yesterday.

Seton, of course, went on to write Wild Animals I Have Known (1898) and was later attacked by John Burroughs in an essay in Atlantic entitled  "Real and Sham Natural History."  

Burroughs called people who wrote sentimental and anthropomorphic animal stories, such as Seton, "nature fakers" and the ensuing controversy between romantic and science-based natural history was pretty fierce until Teddy Roosevelt ended it by siding with Burroughs.

What's particularly interesting about the battle between Burroughs and the Nature Fakers is that the Nature Fakers believed instinct played a relatively small role in animal behavior and that most animals gained knowledge by training and experience. Does that sound a bit like B.F. Skinner?

Burroughs, of course, was not having any of it:

The crows do not train their young. They have no fortresses, or schools, or colleges, or examining boards, or diplomas, or medals of honor, or hospitals, or churches, or telephones, or postal deliveries, or anything of the sort. Indeed, the poorest backwoods hamlet has more of the appurtenances of civilization than the best organized crow or other wild animal community in the land!

Burroughs summed up the Nature Fakers in his description of William J. Long, noting that Long's book, School of the Woods:

... reads like that of a man who has really never been to the woods, but who sits in his study and cooks up these yarns from things he has read in Forest and Stream, or in other sporting journals. Of real observation there is hardly a vestige in his book; of deliberate trifling with natural history there is no end.

Well yes, but how is that different from what we see today in the world of dogs?  Not a whit!