Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My New Nikon P610

I have made the plunge and ordered a real camera -- a digital Nikon P610, which has a 60x zoom and a wireless connection to my cell phone or computer, for easy transmission and storage of pictures.

Getting the functionality of the P610 would have cost me $5,000 five years ago, but the new digital point and shoots with zoom lenses are much cheaper and much easier to use than the old kit.

The camera here is only costing me a little over $300, which is pretty astounding.

I'm a thick-thumbed monkey of a man
, but I hope this camera will let me get a few decent bird pictures, and maybe even a few dog pictures.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Coffee and Provocation

The Continuing Crisis
A teenager in Melbourne was charged with conspiring to prepare for a terrorist attack after he was recorded discussing plans to paint the Islamic State flag on a kangaroo, pack the animal full of explosives, and release it in the vicinity of police officers.  For those who think this is an entirely new idea, see "Samson's Fox".

Say What?
Wolves howl in different dialects.

A 16th Century Imitation Game
On this day in 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded after her message cipher was cracked.

Maine Has Some of the Biggest Volcanoes
Who knew?

The Zika Virus is Not the Only Virus to Cause Birth Defects
There's also rubella and cytomegalovirus.

The Spider in Black
Scientists have named a newly discovered black tarantula after singer Johnny Cash. It lives near Folsom Prison.

Yes, We Really Do Read It For the Articles
When Playboy executives took nudes off their web site, traffic quadrupled, and the average age of readers fell from 47 to 30. It turns out young people who grew up in the porn-saturated world of the internet aren't that interested in as a place to get porn. while the existence of naked women on the site made it awkward to share Playboy content on social media sites.

Frustrating for Whom?
In Turlock, California, nearly 3,500 samples of bull semen were stolen from the back of a truck. “The loss of all those units of semen,” said the truck’s owner, “is very frustrating.”  Over 70% of all calves in the U.S. are the product of artificial insemination.

The Top 62 People
According to CNN/Money, the 62 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the economic bottom half of the world.

Edukation is Fundementalism
The U.K. Home Office misspelled the word “language” in an announcement of a new English test for immigrants.

God Is the New Name for DARPA
Pope Francis says the the Internet is a “gift from God.”

Boy and Dog on Unexploded Bomb by Dario Mitidieri, Tigray, Ethiopia, 1991.

Joseph Heller Imagines Donald Trump

"It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character."
. . . . . . -- Joseph Heller, Catch 22

David Attenborough Is Marinated in Awesome

What a life!  And it's all on video. Watch the whole thing.

They Put Sound in the Truck Bed

They put sound in the truck bed, and they still have no idea why. And, of course, ANYONE can put sound whereever they want (and it's portable) for less than $30, so the selling point is unclear. Fun commercial, though.

Hong Kong Rat Sign

Run Rabbit, Run

In northern Quebec, a  Marten chases a rabbit
and catches it. This a bet on a chase that I would have lost!  More here. Though this is repeatedly identified as a Marten, based on size and lack of white throat patch, I believe it may be a Fisher.

What's the Confidence Interval?

Monday, February 08, 2016

Boston Newsies With Dog, 1909

It's 5 am on a Sunday, in October 1909, and a gaggle of impoverished child laborers are going to sell ground up trees with 5-day old news to people on the street. The boss man look on, and the dog is there for moral support.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Night at the Museum

The Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading in the UK, got a surprise on Wednesday when their 155-year-old mousetrap caught a mouse:

So, this retired rodent had managed to sneak past University of Reading security, exterior doors and Museum staff, and clambered its way up into our Store. Upon finding itself there it would have found the promised land; a mouse paradise laid before it full of straw, wood and textiles. Then, out of thousands of objects, it chose for its home the very thing designed to kill it some 150 years ago: a mouse trap.

The trap was patented in 1861; and is billed as a “perpetual mouse trap” that “will last a lifetime.”  And apparently, it does not even have to be baited to work!

The Continuing Crisis: Please Don't Send Flowers

When 91-year-old Peggy Hartman died
, her friend of 50 years, Margaret Seaman, ordered a flower arrangement that was supposed to be in the shape of a Jack Russell terrier -- a personal love of Peggy's. But when the flowers arrived, the pall bearers could not stop laughing, as the flower arrangement had split up in transport, and now had five legs and a weird snout. The florist had photographic evidence that the arrangement looked fine when it left the shop, but nonetheless agreed to donate the cost to the Battersea Dog's Home. World War III averted. Stand down the torpedoes.

Waren G. Harding's Laddie Boy

Kennel man Wilson Jackson took care of, and trained, Laddie Boy an Airedale kept by Warren G. Harding.  Laddie Boy had his own chair for cabinet meetings.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Presidential Caucus

This is how they used to mow the lawn at the White House. In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson purchased a flock of 18 sheep to trim the White House lawn. The flock was led by an ornery ram named "Old Ike" who loved cigar butts and hated people.

Replacement Fly Reel

Somehow, my cheaper-than-dirt fly reel got bent, so I ordered another el-cheapo. The best fly reel is the cheapest one you can find, in my opinion.  

Same As It Ever Was

Wannabe Tough Guys, 1910, Shorpy

Wannabe Tough Guys, 1975, Shorpy

Head of the Family

Friday, February 05, 2016

Old Men and Their Terriers

I turned 57 on Wednesday and so, in a fit of insomnia, I found myself looking through old pictures of old men and their dogs.

The world changes, but old men and dogs will always be with us.

The Immature and Ayn Rand

Coffee and Provocation

Teddy Roosevelt Got Things Done
The father of our National Parks and the US Forest Service drank a gallon of coffee a day and may coined the line “Good to the last drop” when he was served Maxwell House coffee at the Hermitage, the home of former president Andrew Jackson.

Is This a Problem?
It seems 60-7 percent of the male smallmouth bass in the Missisquoi River in Vermont bear eggs, a characteristic known as “intersex.” It may be due to agricultural runoff, but intersex fish seem to be common all over. Has it always been this way?

Drone Footage of Syrian City Destroyed by War
This amazing video shows what is left of Homs, Syria after a seige destroyed much of the city and displaced or killed  its population. Syria has become a proxy battlefield between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Russians, Americans, Kurds, and Turks providing supporting roles, sometimes on both sides and at the same time. 

No Women Allowed in Saudi Starbucks

Women are forbidden from entering Starbucks in Saudi Arabia.  Starbucks issued the following statement: "Starbucks in Saudi Arabia adheres to the local customs by providing separate entrances for families as well as single people. All our stores provide equal amenities, service, menu, and seating to men, women and families. We are working as quickly as possible as we refurbish our Jarir store, so that we may again welcome all customers in accordance with local customs." One is left to wonder if "local customs" allowed slavery whether Starbucks would open up a shop with slave labor. Profits before people much?

Where Did American Slaves Come From?
Most were not imported from Africa, but instead were bred here, many in Virginia, which served as a breeder-nursery for southern plantations. The ban on the importation of slaves after 1807 may have been more about trade protection for Virginia than any moral light being kindled.

Marijuana Kills
Rat poison set out by marijuana farmers in California is killing scavengers and predators.

Want to Make More Real Estate Money?
Buy a house near a future Starbucks, Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.  Quick: what's the opposite of NIMBY?

There Used to be an International Trade in Ice
In the mid-19th century, ice clinking in glasses, from India to the Caribbean, came from a global commodities trade in frozen water.

Balzac drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day, as did Voltaire.

Fish on Friday

A baby swordfish fits on the tip of a finger
. but will grow to between 1 and 3 feet within a year, depending on gender.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Tardigrade Is My Spirit Animal

After posting this, I realize some people may not know what a Tardigrade, or Water Bear, is. From Wikipedia:

Tardigrades are notable for being perhaps the most durable of known organisms; they are able to survive extreme conditions that would be rapidly fatal to nearly all other known life forms. They can withstand temperature ranges from 1 K (−458 °F; −272 °C) to about 420 K (300 °F; 150 °C), pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and the vacuum of outer space. They can go without food or water for more than 30 years, drying out to the point where they are 3% or less water, only to rehydrate, forage, and reproduce.

How Much to Park Your Dog?

Dog Parker is a new start-up business with 5 locations in Brooklyn, New York.

It's basically a lock box that sits outside shops with a security card which unlocks the box and charges you for time. There's a padded floor inside, and the box is (supposedly) temperature controlled.The charge is 20¢ a minute, plus a $25 annual fee. For the math-challenged, that's $6 for a half hour. Members can use a box for a maximum of 3 hours every 12 hour period. If the temperature gets below 32°F or above 85ºF, the Dog Parkers are (supposedly) closed until the weather improves.

The whole idea seems to me to be a disaster on stilts waiting to happen.  Thoughts?  Yes, I do know a similar scheme is being tried somewhere in Sweden, as I recall.

Arizona Jaguar on Trail Camera

This video of a solitary jaguar
roaming the mountains just south of Tucson, Arizona was released yesterday, and shows the only wild jaguar known to live in the United States.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Insurer of Blue Buffalo Supplier Says "Tough Luck"

From Law 360 comes this story of dog food fraudsters finding out that their legal insurance policy is as weak as their food purity claims:

The insurer of a pet food ingredient broker accused of colluding to fraudulently provide less-than-pure chicken and turkey meal for Blue Buffalo’s kibble products says those claims don’t constitute personal injuries, therefore its coverage doesn’t apply, according to a complaint filed in Texas federal court on Thursday.

Colony Insurance Co. says it has no duty to defend or repay the litigation costs of its policyholder, Custom AG Commodities, an intermediary between pet food ingredient suppliers and distributors that was targeted in a third-party complaint accusing it of conspiring with those distributors to pass off inferior pet food ingredients as premium while charging more money to suppliers — claims that don’t constitute bodily injury or property damage under its policy, Colony said....

...,The dispute stems from a pair of lawsuits filed against Blue Buffalo by Nestle Purina PetCare Co. and a class of consumers, alleging that the company falsely advertised its pet foods as free of poultry byproduct meal when independent testing showed that it wasn’t. The consolidated consumer multidistrict litigation was settled in December for $32 million, but Purina’s claim that Blue Buffalo unfairly profited and violated the federal Lanham Act still remains.

After being sued by Purina in May 2014, Blue Buffalo then went after its ingredient suppliers and distributors, Diversified and Wilbur-Ellis, alleging it was duped into buying the adulterated chicken and turkey byproduct filler. Diversified, in turn, brought Custom AG into the fold, alleging that it and Wilbur-Ellis “conspired over a number of years” to defraud it.

The First Miss America Is Not as Cute as the Dog

The dog is Long Goodie. The woman is Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C., the very first Miss America in 1921. This picture was taken in 1925.

American Terrier Woman

Serena Williams' beloved Jack Russell, Jackie, died of old age in November. She now has a Yorkie (seen here) by the name of Chip.

Couples Counseling

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Only in America?

Actually, animals have always predicted the weather and that's been true all over the world for millennia.

True scientists, however, actually understand the difference between weather and climate. So this graphic, from the Sierra Club, is a Full Fail on their part.

And Your Little Dog Too!

This is Mary Langley Bruce in New York in 1908, with her Brussells Griffon, "Cupid". The original model for the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz? Could be!

Fox News, Then and Now

This fox was caught on the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C. in December of 1919.

Fox can still be found running around the area today.

God, Groundhog Day & Government

The roots of Groundhog Day
go back to the Bible and perhaps even earlier.

The Romans considered February [the name comes from februa, to purify] as "a time of cleansing in preparation for a fresh start" because the the month comes halfway between December 21, the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and March 21 (the Spring or Vernal Equinox).

The connection to the Bible is that in Hebrew tradition mothers were required to purify their children in the temple 40 days after giving birth.

Mary, mother of Jesus, purified Jesus on Feb. 2nd, 40 days after Jesus's birth, establishing the tradition of the "Feast of the Presentation."

The early Christians, working off of an earlier Roman tradition, associated February 2nd with the lighting of candles (i.e. "the bringing of new light") and established "Candlemas" as a Christian tradition. In the ancient Pagan world, Groundhog Day was known as Imbolc.

A Candlemas rhyme was developed to mark the occasion of the turning of the seasons, and the rhyme suggested that Candlemas itself was a kind of weather predictor:

Somewhere along the way the weather-predictive power of Candlemas came to be associated with badgers. No one is quite sure why, but it is probably due to pre-Christian Germanic tradition that associated the romantic roamings of this large weasel with the start of a slowly lengthening day.

In any case, when German and Dutch immigrants came to Eastern North America there were no badgers to be found, and so they transposed their badger tradition to the groundhog, which also burrowed in the ground and which also came out of hibernation at approximately the same period of time.

In 1887, Clymer H. Freas, city editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania came up with the idea of a "Punxsutawney Groundhog Club" as a kind of boosterism for his ill-begotten city (the name Punxsutawney means "place of sand flies").

It was a crazy idea, but perseverence paid off. Over the course of several years, story and ritual were heaped up, and the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club stoked the flames of a myth, claiming that "Punxsutawney Phil" was a legendary groundhog that never died and could predict the weather for six weeks in advance. If Punxsutawny Phil can see his shadow, so the legend goes, then six weeks of winter are supposedly at hand. Of course, that's not too big a leap: six weeks is approximately the time of the Spring Equinox (March 20th.)

In December of 2004, the 100-year-old civic boosterism of Clymer H. Freas came to its latest fruition when Congressman John Peterson (R-Pa.) managed to snake $100,000 in Federal funding out of Congress for a "Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center".

The "grand opening" of the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center was Groundhog Day, 2006, but (you will be relieved to hear) it already has a home on the Web. Just >> Click here.
"If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again."

Groundhog Day at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hillary Clinton Says Let's Debate Her Tactics

In 2008, Hillary Clinton asked the poignant question: "Since when do democrats attack one another on universal health care?"

Charles Robert Darwin, Proprietor

Headline: Axe-throwing facility Timber Lounge to open in Halifax.

What could possibly go wrong?

You're Not From Here, Are You?

An Englishman is being shown around a Scottish hospital. At the end of his visit, he is shown into a ward with a number of patients who show no obvious signs of injury. He goes to examine the first man he sees, and the man proclaims:

Fair fa' yer honest, sonsie face,Great chieftain e' the puddin' race!Aboon them a' ye tak your place,painch tripe or thairm:Weel are ye wordy o' a graceas lang's my arm.

The Englishman, somewhat taken aback, goes to the next patient, and immediately the patient launches into:

Some hae meat, and canna eat,And some wad eat that want it,But we hae meat and we can eat,And sae the Lord be thankit.

This continues with the next patient:

Wee sleekit cow'rin tim'rous beastie,O what a panic's in thy breastie!Thou need na start awa sae hasty,wi' bickering brattle.I wad be laith to run and chase thee,wi' murdering prattle!"

"Well," the Englishman mutters to his Scottish colleague, "I see you saved the psychiatric ward for the last."

"Nay, nay," the Scottish doctor corrected him, "this is the Serious Burns unit."

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pit Bulls In the River

A slightly modified tale:

One summer in the village, the people gathered for a picnic. As they shared food and conversation, someone noticed a Pit Bull in the river, struggling and flailing about. The dog was going to drown!

Someone rushed to save the dog. Then, they noticed another yowling Pit Bull in the river, and they rushed in to pull that dog out. Soon, more dogs were seen drowning in the river, and the townspeople were pulling them out as fast as they could. It took great effort, and they began to organize their activities in order to save the Pit Bulls as they came down the river. As everyone else was busy in the rescue efforts to save the dogs, two of the townspeople started to run up the shore of the river.

“Where are you going?” shouted one of the rescuers. “We need you here to help us save these dogs!”

“We are going upstream to stop whoever is throwing them in!”

And who is throwing them In?

Not Pit Bull haters. Pit Bull lovers.

Almost a million Pit Bulls a year are being killed in animal shelters across the U.S.

All of these dogs were bred by people who said they loved Pit Bulls.

All of these dogs were bought or acquired as puppies by people who said they loved Pit Bulls.

And almost all of these dogs were relinquished to the pound or "shelter" when their owners found out that an adult Pit Bull comes with a lot of responsibility.

Pit Bulls are not being pushed into the river by breed specific laws.

Cities that do not have such laws are killing dogs wholesale.

In fact, some of the cities with the lowest Pit Bull kill rates are cities that have banned the dogs, such as Denver.

Others, like San Francisco, have not banned Pit Bulls but have seen a marked decline in Pit Bull euthanasias after implementing a mandatory Pit Bull sterilization law coupled to free Pit Bull spay-neuter programs.

One thing is clear: Pit Bulls have breed specific problems.

Perhaps their biggest problem is that so many Pit Bull breeders and owners are young, irresponsible adults who have unstable lives and who are acquiring their first dog -- a Pit Bull -- for much the same reason that they might acquire a big-bore motorcycle, a sports car, or a "hummer".

Is it an accident that Pit Bull owners are much more likely to have problems with the law than the average dog owner? I don't think so.

The responsible people who are adopting Pit Bulls from shelters deserve unending applause for their efforts.

But have no illusion: the good work they do will never be enough so long as so many people stand silent while so many people breed Pit Bulls, and so many others are acquiring puppies from these breeders only to "thrown them in the river" in just a year's time.

Pit Bulls have a breed specific problem.

At what point, do we begin to recognize that these dogs need a breed specific solution?

At what point do we say we are sick and tired of killing nearly a million Pit Bulls a year?

At what point do we agree that if we want something different, we need to do something different?

At what point do we run up the river bank, and start at least talking about all those people who are throwing the dogs in the river?

The graphic, above, shows how many Pit Bulls are killed in America EVERY DAY because the Pit Bull community has failed the Pit Bull.

Nearly one million Pit Bulls a year are killed in shelters across the U.S. every year -- 2,400 dead Pit Bulls a day.