Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Good Business in Rebottling Ivermectin

Ivermectin sheep drench contains a 0.08 percent solution of Ivermectin and it does not have to be diluted. Given orally to dogs, it provides all the active ingredients you need to "prevent" heartworm or treat mange, ear mites, round worms, and hook worms. Ivermectin has a very broad “margin of error” or safety margin, and so doubling or even tripling the dose given here will do no harm except in certain rare bloodlines of Shelties, Collies, and a few other breeds with an inherited susceptibility to Ivermectin toxicity.
  • Up to 14 pounds: -- given 0.05 ml or or 1 drop from an eye dropper, assuming 20 drops per ml)
  • 15 to 29 pounds: 0.1 ml (two drops)
  • 30 to 58 pounds: 0.2 ml (four drop)
  • 59 to 88 pounds: 0.3 ml (6 drops)
  • 89 to 117 pounds: 0.4 ml (8 drops)
  • 118 to 147 pounds: 0.5 ml (10 drops)

An 8 oz bottle of Ivermectin sheep drench can be bought for $40 and it contains enough Ivermectin to give 4,720 doses to a terrier. To put it another way, if I dosed my dogs every month during warm weather (a maximum of 8 months around here),  this bottle would last me 590 years of coverage for one dog.

There is a good business to be made by simply buying $40 worth of Ivermectin sheep drench and repackaging it in 40 eye drop bottles and selling it $15 a bottle. The 118 terrier-sized doses in each $15 bottle would last a person with three terrier-sized dogs 5 years! And the profit for repackaging those 40 bottles, and relabeling them. would be about $500 for just a few minutes work. Ka-Ching!

Spark EV Found in the Wild

I found this parked in my regular spot at work.  My spot is not reserved, so I just parked next to it, but the car was very small and short, so I noticed. What was it? 

It turns out it's a Spark EV (electric vehicle) made by Chevrolet. This car is a $140 a month lease with no money down.  So far, this car is only available in California, Maryland, and Oregon.  The Spark EV qualifies for single-occupant use in the carpool lanes in California and Maryland. The car is made (or assembled) in Brownstown, Michigan.

My current Ford SUV is probably my last pure internal-combustion car.  I hope to get it to 200,000 miles (80,000 miles more), at which point I expect that my flying car will finally be ready.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pay It Foward

Do the right thing
, and then do a little more. It comes back.

Dogs Welcome

Purchase @ Amazon 

Misto Rockets to His Raccoon

The raccoon was released unharmed, well-fed and right where he was caught. No animals were harmed in the making of this movie.

Training the Pigs

This is classic animal training, with the snap of the finger as the positive marker for the food, and the voice as the negative marker for the tap of the stick. Keeping the pigs a little hungry is part of the training -- it keeps motivation up, same as it does for a dog or a hawk.

Below is much the same scene played out with 120 hounds and a whip. The marker here is not sound, but the placement of the whip.  Down and swinging is "no," and up and still is "go".

Why not use a leash
on 120 hounds and five pigs? Reasons! Not only would it be unworkable, but the timing would be horrendous.

A Massive Ship Rusts Away in Philadelphia

The S.S. United States is the largest ocean liner constructed entirely in the U.S., and the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic in either direction.

Built in 1952, at a cost of $78 million, my family were passengers on her to London in 1967.

Her last uninterupted transatlantic passenger service was in 1969.

This massive ship has been docked, abandoned, on Pier 82 in Philadelphia since 1996.  She towers over everything around her.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Explode the Code

I've delayed bringing on the pups because Moxie is so small (9 pounds) and she is SO amped for bear.

I have been working them both on squirrels in the go-to-ground tunnel in the back yard, and they've been doing great. But the squirrels get wise, and I am stupid, and so while loading a squirrel yesterday I let it go prematurely. What to do?

Never deterred too long, I pulled out a bigger box trap and caught a raccoon! Things progressed nicely, and the raccoon was released safe and sound (and well fed) after a little terrier training. "No animals were harmed in the making of this movie." With any luck, this raccoon will move out of the neighborhood and stop raiding my neighbor's trash can.

Up a mulberry tree next to the pond, just as the night falls.

Not Dead Yet

This is Mountain Girl asleep in her stone dog house. I built this stone dog house back when Trooper was getting so arthritic he could not get up and down the stairs to the always-heated-in-winter, always-cool-in-summer dog houses inside the garage. Now Mountain Girl has gotten deaf enough that I can walk right up to her asleep on a thick pile of straw inside. I've never done that before!

This stone dog house has a slightly sloped floor that drains out the front, with thick foam insulation all around, faced with thick stone on the sides and bottom.  Ivy coats the ouside sides and top, making for a kind of evergreen stone cave. The door is narrow, but inside three terriers can curl up with plenty of room for all, and 10 inches of dry straw underneath.

Aside from the dog houses inside the garage, and the stone dog house in back, and the sunny spot on top of the the driveway, Mountain also has a special spot on top of two hay bales under the eave of the house, tucked behind a big boxwood, right next to the driveway.  Here she is out of the rain, out of the sun, out of the wind, high up and dry and able to hear and see all that come to the house. Or at least that was how it used to be. Her hearing is going, and now I can drive up the driveway and sometimes catch her snuggled in and sawing away. Good dog!

Magic Dust

Magic dust found in aisle #3 at Pet Smart. Notice that it works for everything: inappapropriate marking, excessive barking, and chewing!  And did you notice that it is "veterinarian formulated?" You pay extra for that!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Let's Kill All the Dogs So They Won't Eat Meat

RSPCA members will vote to fill five of 25 seats on council this month, and there are just eight candidates.

One candidate is dangerous idiot John Bryant, who has previously been on the RSPCA board and is a former chief officer of the League Against Cruel Sports. He say he wants all dogs and cats spayed and neutered, and he wants to abolish all pet ownership completely. He has compared owning dogs and cats to owning slaves.

Another certifiable loon and budget killer is Peta Watson-Smith, a vegan, who has compared the raising of farm animals to the Nazi holocaust. Speaking to The Times, she said: "I don't think people always appreciate what is the holocaust going on behind closed doors. You talk about the Jews."

Also standing for election are Dr Dan Lyons and Angela Roberts who run the Centre for Animals and Social Justice in Sheffield and who have suggested that seats should be reserved in parliament for representatives elected solely to represent animals.

However the vote goes, at least one or more of these people are going to be part of the inbred cabal of nut jobs, con men, grifters, liars, and direct mail profiteers ripping off old ladies in order to wage war on those who raise animals for the table and manage wildlife for sustainability.

As I have noted in the past, the national RSCA raises vast sums of money under the pretense of helping homeless dogs and cats, but they spend almost nothing on that mission.

Most of the money raised by the RSPCA goes to fund more dunning notices and solicitation letters.

Pet Store Marketing

Bret Michaels? Why the fark is he being paid to endorse a dog tug? Hell, I can't even remember what cross-dressing band he was in. Poison? Yes, this group of transvestites (see below). He's the second one from the left. Someone, somewhere, somehow, presented this as a marketing coup. The mind reels. Money traded hands for this. Why?

But She Has a Lovely Personality!

At What Cost? For Whose Benefit?

Boots at Fort Hood represent lives lost in Afghanistan and Iraq.

They should add a colostomy bag, wheel chair, prosthetic, or pill bottle for all those wounded.  

And pictures of all the schools not built and roads and bridges not repaired in this country because of cash we wasted overseas.

And for what?

People who are not grateful, will not fight for themselves, and who embrace the 7th Century and all it has to offer.

What leadership got us here?

Messing About With Fishing Rods

This is my mother fishing, 
somewhere between 70 and 75 years ago. The top picture is with her and a cane pole in the creek at Longton, Kansas. Below is my mother in Minnesota with a stringer of assorted species.

Remembering the Lads in Their Hundreds

This is a great little group called Show of Hands
and these two songs can be found on Centenary: Words And Music Of The Great War which is a 2-CD set at a great price.  One CD is music with poems read by Jim Carter (Carson the butler on Downton Abbey) and his wife Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).

Show of Hands
, of course, is Steve Knightley, Phil Beer, and upright-bassist Miranda Sykes.

Knightly, along with being a phenomenal musician (as are Beer and Sykes), has a degree in history and his grandfather, Sergeant Thomas Knightley, served in The Great War.  If you have never hear of Show of Hands, plug them into Pandora for a listen!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Something to See in Brussels

Brussels' Manneken Pis statue
of a urinating baby can be found in gardens and fountains all over the world.

Less well known is Zinneke Pis, the statue of a dog who is forever lifting his leg onto a Brussels street pole. Zinneke Pis was installed in the center of Brussels, on the corner of Rue des Chartreux and Rue de Vieux-Marche, in 1998.  The creator of the dog lives in the neighborhood, and he modeled it after his own pet.

The Corn Revolution and Precision Agriculture

Every one in a while a very important article comes along, and I want folks to read it so much that I blast it to the world. This is one of those articles. Written by Jesse H. Ausubel, Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University, it is entitled The Return of Nature: How Technology Liberates the EnvironmentRead the whole thing!
A series of “decouplings” is occurring, so that our economy no longer advances in tandem with exploitation of land, forests, water, and minerals. American use of almost everything except information seems to be peaking. This is not because the resources are exhausted, but because consumers have changed consumption, and because producers changed production. These changes in behavior and technology are today liberating the environment.

Agriculture has always been the greatest destroyer of nature, stripping and despoiling it, and reducing acreage left. Then, in about 1940, acreage and yield decoupled in the United States. Since then American farmers have quintupled corn while using the same or even less land. Corn matters because its production towers over other crops, totaling more tons than wheat, soy, rice, and potatoes together.

The average yield of American farmers is nowhere near a ceiling. In 2013, David Hula, a farmer in Virginia, grew a US and probably world record: 454 bushels of corn per acre –– three times the average yield in Iowa. His tractor cab is instrumented like the office of a high-speed Wall Street trader. In 2014, Hula’s harvest rose 5 percent higher to 476 bushels, while Randy Dowdy, who farms near Valdosta, Georgia, busted the 500-bushel wall with a yield of 503 bushels per acre and won the National Corn Growers Contest.

Now, one can ask if Americans need all that corn. We eat only a small fraction of corn creamed or on the cob, or as tortillas or polenta. Most corn becomes beef or pork, and increasingly we feed it to cars. An area the size of Iowa or Alabama grows corn to fuel vehicles.
Crucially, rising yields have not required more tons of fertilizer or other inputs. The inputs to agriculture have plateaued and then fallen — not just cropland but nitrogen, phosphates, potash, and even water. A recent meta-analysis by Wilhelm Kl├╝mper and Matin Qaim of 147 original studies of recent trends in high-yield farming for soy, maize, and cotton, funded by the German government and the European Union, found a 37 percent decline in chemical pesticide use while crop yields rose 22 percent. This is the story of precision agriculture, in which we use more bits, not more kilowatts or gallons.
Click to enlarge.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Are You Paying Too Much Stupidity Tax?

It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that how much money they have -- and spend -- is an index of their worth as people and sophistication as consumers.

Wine has one function -- to get you drunk, same as beer. Oh, you drink it for the taste?  Right. When was the last time you drank a six-pack of diet coke at one sitting, or split a 2-litter bottle of root beer you paid $40 for? Never and never.

The idea that something is better because it is expensive is the oldest con in the world -- made real by constant repetition of the con man's favorite line: "you get what you pay for." That's less often true than not.

Price-gouging the fancy folks with their sniffing pretensions of respectability and "special" knowledge is the oldest game in town. People want the best to show THEY are the best.

We see it in veterinary offices, don't we? Spend $130 for a spay or neuter at a local humane society clinic, and you will be told "you get what you pay for." Really? Actually, you will get a better job done at a low-cost spay-neuter clinic simply because they do so many of them and are practiced. And what about a dog with a simple pulled muscle? The vet will charge you a fortune and you will think he is better because of it! Vets know this and load on the charges as a consequence.

The same phenomenon occurs in human health care, where the same medicines, made in the same factories in Puerto Rico, are sold to Americans at three times the price that folks in Mexico, Canada, or Europe pay. We are supposed to think we get better health care because we pay more, but in fact statistics show we get worse health care at twice the price. Some bargain!

How about dog food? Folks who spend too little time with their dogs, till have sniffing pretensions about being "better" owners than other people, and they prove it to themselves by paying too much for dog food, and never mind if no dog food has ever been shown to be better than another.

And how about dogs? The health and working abilities of Kennel Club dogs are demonstrably worse than cross-bred dogs, and almost no one serious about hunting, pulling, or herding, is looking to the show ring for their animals. And yet, here too, folks pay big dollars not for health or performance but because of sniffing pretension and misguided values and the suggestion that if you pay more you will get a better dog.  That's rarely true!

So, to come back to it:  If you're broke, one question to ask yourself is how big a stupidity tax you are paying. For many folks this is one of their single biggest line-item expenses.

Coffee and Provocation

Dog Walking?  There's an "App" for That
The "Wag" app allows you to order a dog walker on your smartphone up to 30 minutes before you need a walker and dog walkers can also be scheduled regularly. The service launches in New York City today with 75 dog walkers throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, and it’s already operating in Los Angeles and San Francisco.Owners can opt to meet their dog walker ahead of time and can also track their dog via the app. They’ll also receive a “report card” with a photo of their dog, a map of the walk, and a “pee-poop” status update. Each Wag walk costs $20 per half hour per dog and can be ordered either in 30- or 60-minute blocks. An additional dog from the same household is another $5.

Bringing Back the America Chestnut Thanks to GMO
There used to be over 3 billion Chestnut trees in eastern North America -- 25% of the Appalachian forest. Beginning in 1907, and spreading quickly, howevever, chestnut blight imported from Asia wiped them all out. Now scientists think they may have the solution to bringing the Chestnut back -- adding wheat genes.

Rewriting History
Scientists are pushing back the clock, and now they say that dogs have been around for about 30,000 years, and that stone tools predate humans by at least 5
00,000 years.

The Squirrel and Bird Partnership

It seems “squirrels understand ‘bird’ and birds understand ‘squirrel” with predator alarm calls spreading through a forest at speeds over 100 miles an hour.

Texas Ranches Saved the Scimitar-Horned Oryx
The scimitar-horned oryx has been extinct in Africa since the mid 1980’s but thanks to hunter-driven conservation efforts somewhere between 6,000 to 10,000 of the animals can still be found in Texas

Rhino Farms in Texas?

The Exotic Wildlife Association is proposing moving as many as one thousand African rhinoceros be moved  to Texas in order to conserve and propagate the endangered species. Rather than attempt to build a rhinoceros sanctuary, the organization intends to adopt the animals into private homes

Miracle Weight Loss?
The roots, leaves, and flowers of the Thunder God Vine are highly toxic, but new research suggests a compound found in the plants roots could be a brand-new approach to treat obesity. A compound called Celastrol, found in the roots of the Thunder God Vine, may increase the body’s sensitivity to leptin which helps fight obesity. Mice given oral doses of Celastrol lost
an average of 45 percent of their body weight – and they lost body fat, not lean mass. The research was published in the journal Cell.

Dogs at Hadrian's Wall

This carving of a hare chasing a greyhound was discovered earlier this year on a building stone at Vindolanda at Hadrian's Wall. This stone probably came from an earlier temple to Diana, the goddess of hunting, constructed around the year 100.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Talk Is Sheep

In Australia, PETA tried to take a guy to court for swearing in front of sheep. I kid you not!
The complaint was lodged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which had apparently obtained footage and testimony from an undercover operative working at the station. For Ken Turner, who operates Boorungie Station, the complaint itself suggests the sheep could at least understand English. "The basis for the concerns was the rights of the animals, that they might have been harassed by viewing things they shouldn't have seen or verbal abuse by people using bad language," he said. "To my knowledge, there was no actual cruelty on the job.

"The allegation was that bad language was used by an employee on the property in front of the sheep, and that they could have been offended by the use of bad language." While describing claims about verbal abuse of animals as "rare", Mr Coleman said the RSPCA took such allegations seriously.

Droplet Gets Funded

The folks making Droplet
hit their $100,000 goal, as I predicted they would.

And they made a terrific little sales video with a nice plot. Full applause!

Droplet can be used to remind the kids (or yourself) to walk the dog, feed the dog, train the dog, de-poop the yard, or wash the dog.

Remember:  It's 90-days to a habit that creates a life time of positive change.

Federal and State-sponsored Racism

The federal government and the states
created and encouraged racial segregation which resulted in the creation of ghettos with poor services and high rents. This was not an accident; it was intentional policy. Listen below -- our first radio show embed.

Of course, it was not just in the creation of ghettos that government had a hand. Government also created and backed the financial instruments that underpinned much of the plantation system of slavery. In order for cotton and sugar production to expand, planters just starting out needed loans to buy slaves and land. Louisiana bankers Hugues Lavergne and Edmond Jean Forstall allowed slaveholders to use what few slaves they had as collateral for loans, and then Lavergne and Forstall repackaged these loans into financial instruments backed by the Louisiana state government with public money. Once secured with public money, European financiers confidently bought slave-based securities, which in turn pumped dependable European currency into America’s agricultural economy.

Life Goes On :: A PSA From Argentina

Nailed it.

Demateralization Through Technology

Every one in a while a very important article comes along, and I want folks to read it so much that I blast it to the world. This is one of those articles. Written by Jesse H. Ausubel, Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University, it is entitled The Return of Nature: How Technology Liberates the EnvironmentRead the whole thing!

Back in the 1970s, it was thought that America’s growing appetite might exhaust Earth’s crust of just about every metal and mineral. But a surprising thing happened: even as our population kept growing, the intensity of use of the resources began to fall. For each new dollar in the economy, we used less copper and steel than we had used before — not just the relative but also the absolute use of nine basic commodities, flat or falling for about 20 years (Figure 8). By about 1990, Americans even began to use less plastic. America has started to dematerialize....

The reversal in use of some of the materials so surprised me that Iddo Wernick, Paul Waggoner, and I undertook a detailed study of the use of 100 commodities in the United States from 1900 to 2010. One hundred commodities span just about everything from arsenic and asbestos to water and zinc. The soaring use of many resources up to about 1970 makes it easy to understand why Americans started Earth Day that year. Of the 100 commodities, we found that 36 have peaked in absolute use, including the villainous arsenic and asbestos (Figure 9). Another 53 commodities have peaked relative to the size of the economy, though not yet absolutely. Most of them now seem poised to fall (Figure 10). They include not only cropland and nitrogen, but even electricity and water. Only 11 of the 100 commodities are still growing in both relative and absolute use in America. These include chickens, the winning form of meat. Several others are elemental vitamins, like the gallium and indium used to dope or alloy other bulk materials and make them smarter.

Much dematerialization does not surprise us, when a single pocket-size smartphone replaces an alarm clock, flashlight, and various media players, along with all the CDs and DVDs.

But even Californians economizing on water in the midst of a drought may be surprised at what has happened to water withdrawals in America since 1970. Expert projections made in the 1970s showed rising water use to the year 2000, but what actually happened was a leveling off. While America added 80 million people –– the population of Turkey –– American water use stayed flat. In fact, US Geological Survey data through 2010 shows that water use has now declined below the level of 1970, while production of corn, for example, has tripled (Figure 11). More efficient water use in farming and power generation contribute the most to the reduction.

Wild Flower Conundrum

Three wildflowers in a field while out walking the dogs yesterday. The bottom is Queen Anne's Lace or wild carrot, but if anyone knows what the other two are, let me know in the comments.

Finding Permission and the Energy to Dig

I re-ordered my farm cards and added two coffee mugs, as I broke my last one while photographing the puppies.

Fish On Friday


This 5,000-pound Manta Ray was caught in 1933, about 7 miles off the coast of Brielle, New Jersey.  It got tangled in the anchor line and almost sunk the boat. The baby in the Captain's hand was born after the ray was landed with the help of the Coast Guard. Manta Ray's are very slow reproducers, only producing one or two pups every 1-5 years in the wild.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Terrierman, the Early Years

This was me as a little shaver
with the house man/gardener and our dog at that time (named "Charlie," I think) who was on a long-term "borrow" from the French lady next door.

My earliest memories are of Mali.  I think this gardener was the fellow who used to beat giant "flying fox" bats -- fruit bats with wings spanning 2.5 feet -- -- out of the mango and fig trees in our yard.

Over-hyping an "Apple Watch" Dog Collar

A company called DogTilligent has developed an "All-in-One Smart Dog Collar" that has GPS, WiFi capability, an accelerometer, a thermometer, a speaker, LED lights, and a microphone.


Why? You ask WHY?!  Did you ask that when a man climbed Mount Everest? Did you ask that when we sent a man to the moon? Did you ask that when we sent American troops to kill people overseas?

You did? Well O.K. then. Why is always a good question.

The short answer is because they can, and they hope to turn a profit,

The collar is said to "help a dog owner keep track of the dog by warning when the collar has traveled beyond a predetermined location. The Virtual Leash warns the dog when it’s moving away from a human companion by whistling, vibrating, and simulating a tug on the collar."

Awesome. And the dog is supposed to know what this means how?

The DogTelligent app includes pre-programmed commands like sit, stay, down, and come that makes training easier.

Right. A small failure here in common sense.

Pressing a button on a smart phone is not easier, faster, more reliable, or better than a voice command. A voice does not need Wi-Fi and always has battery power.

Training a dog is not about issuing a command -- it's about understanding the command, and that understanding is made through reward, timing, recognition, repetition, and consequence, building towards reliability.

Another point: The fact that this collar vibrates does NOT make this collar an "invisible fence." Stop using that word.

The GPS is great, but as for the "bluetooth technology, WiFi, cellular communication, accelerometer, ambient temperature sensors, ultrasonic micro-speaker, micro-speaker, and microphone" all of that is electronic waste. No one needs any of that. Seriously.  And what about the rest of the stuff this company is also developing but which also fails to address a real need and/or is not made for the real world?  Scrap it and focus on doing ONE thing right.

For those who wonder, this collar is vapor ware for the moment.

 It is not being made by someone who has made a line of ecollars in the past (such as Greg Van Curen, who started Innotek, sold it, and is now developing great new collars at E-Collar Technologies).

 Instead, we are invited to an Indiegogo page where we can pre-order the collar for $120 (a $39 savings "off retail value").

If past campaigns of this type are any indication of how fast it will come, expect a wait of about a year, no real cost savings over that "retail value," and some production and operational problems with the first models.

If I sound cynical, it is only because I am used to folks over-hyping new technology and it's been done (a lot) in the e-collar arena, as I have noted in the past.  Calling this a "smart phone" for your dog presupposes a dog needs a phone.  It doesn't.

Watch the video below and see how attractive this sales pitch is for the dog owner who is not thinking too much, is not very observant, and is a little too quick to pull a credit card. 

Watch the dog go into the road and the owner, driving in his car, tell the dog to SIT.  In the road.

And why is the dog in the road in the first place? Because the "invisible fence" provides nothing more than tone and vibration.

There's more foolishness wrapped in great graphics and a smooth sales pitch, but see for yourself, below.

My advice is:  If you need an invisible fence or a dog training collar, go with a company that has a track record in making those. This is not that company.

The Nose Is the Gateway to the Hole

The eyes may be the gateway to the soul
, but the nose is the gateway to the hole.


This is my grandfather, Ed Dunlop of Augusta and Longton, Kansas with his hunting dog, Duke.

My grandfather again, this time with an earlier dog by the name of Joker. Apparently you wore a tie when you went hunting back then, and boots that laced to your knees. I can't say Joker was conformationally correct. In fact, he looks a bit like a bag of walnuts!

This is my grandfather, wearing a white skimmer hat, white pants, and riding a horse with my mother at the front of the saddle. This would have been on the farm in Longton, Kansas in the late 1930s.

Rewilding Thanks to Modern Forestry

Every one in a while a very important article comes along and I want folks to read it so much that I blast it to the world. This is one of those articles. Written by Jesse H. Ausubel, Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University, it is entitled The Return of Nature: How Technology Liberates the EnvironmentRead the whole thing!

Forest plantations produce wood more efficiently than unmanaged forests. They meet a growing fraction of demand predictably and spare other forests for biodiversity and other benefits. The growth in plantations versus natural forests provides even greater contrast than the warm versus cool forests. Brazilian eucalyptus plantations annually provide 40 cubic meters of timber per hectare, about five times the production of a warm natural forest and about 10 times that of a cool northern forest. In recent times about one-third of wood production comes from plantations. If that were to rise to 75 percent, the logged area of natural forests could drop by half. It is easy to appreciate that if plantations merely grow twice as fast as natural forests, harvesting one hectare of plantation spares two hectares of natural forest.

An equally important story unfolds on the demand side. We once used wood to heat our homes and for almost forgotten uses such as railroad ties. The Iron Horse was actually a wooden horse — its rails rested on countless trees that made the ties and trestles. The trains themselves were wooden carriages. As president of the Southern Pacific and Central Pacific railroads in their largest expansion, Leland Stanford was probably one of the greatest deforesters in world history. It is not surprising that he publicly advocated for conservation of forests because he knew how railroads cut them. The US Forest Service originated around 1900 in large part owing to an expected timber famine caused by expansion of railroads.

Fortunately for nature, the length of the rail system saturated, creosote preserved timber longer, and concrete replaced it. Charting the three major uses of wood — fuel, construction, and paper — shows how wood for fuel and building has lost importance since 1960 (Figure 7). World production has also saturated. Paper had been gliding upward but, after decades of wrong forecasts of the paperless society, we must now credit West Coast tycoons Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos for e-readers and tablets, which have caused the market for pulp and paper — the last strong sector of wood products — to crumple. Where are the newsstands and stationers of yesteryear? Many paper products, such as steno pads and even fanfold computer paper, are artifacts for the technology museums. Email has collapsed snail mail. US first-class mail fell a quarter in just the five years between 2007 and 2012. As a Rockefeller University employee, I like to point out that John D. Rockefeller saved whales by replacing sperm oil with petroleum. ARPANET and the innovators of email merit a medal for forest rebound. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

If It Wasn't For The Irish And The Jews

This song was a popular cross-cultural collaboration
between William Jerome (originally Flannery) and Jean Schwartz, born in Budapest, Hungary.

This tune could benefit from a few more verses about other groups that have helped forge this great nation. As it is, however, very nice!  A little more on Tin Pan Alley singer Bill Murray here.

For a Different Point of View

From, of all places, Cracked:
That's a world population graph dating back over the last 2,000 years. Just look at it! Around 200 years ago, a freaking switch got flipped, and shit exploded. There is no comparing humanity over the last couple of centuries with anything that came before. It's like if you were driving home one day and saw that while you were gone, your goldfish had grown large enough to flatten the entire neighborhood.

But make no mistake: What you're seeing on the graph is humanity winning. Winning so hard that we're not even sure how to handle it. That up there is what every single species only wishes it could do. That kind of success requires utter mastery of the environment, food, health, and predators -- humanity just absolutely dunking over all we survey.

You and I were born right in the middle of this unprecedented and unfathomable winning streak, during a series of changes that are whipping by at light speed, rendering what we think of as a "normal human life" utterly unrecognizable to someone living just 200 years ago. And change is terrifying. Lots of the old rules have gone out the window -- they were written for a different time, with different problems in mind. Lots of the timeless advice you hear was spoken by people who never anticipated the world you're living in. If you find all of the shit grown-ups say to you to be contradictory and confusing, that would be why.

For instance, this is why you will endlessly hear people confusingly talk about how great things used to be, about how men used to be "real" men, how food used to be "real" food, and how people used to make honest paychecks doing "real" work. This is, of course, objectively wrong -- they're referring to a time when humans didn't live as long, didn't have as much, and lived lives with fewer options.

All that happened is these people were raised under one set of rules, only to find the next generation "breaking" them. So, you get a grizzled old guy who remembers when a hard day's work meant sweat, sore muscles, and danger. He remembers how that day ended with a meal cooked by a subservient stay-at-home wife. When civilization advanced to put that dangerous job in the hands of a machine that can do it 10 times faster and to give the stay-at-home wife the chance to pursue a career, the guy sees that old life as the "real" one and this new world full of cubicles and political correctness as the world having gone "soft."

But, listen closely -- when he boasts that kids these days "have it easy," he's accidentally complimenting the world on its success. Making things easier is, after all, the goal.
The point is well made. The world IS getting better for people.

But is it getting better for all the other inhabitants of this globe? I don't think so. It's great if you are corn plant since you did not even exist in the modern form 500 years ago. But for bears, tigers, rain forests, and even deserts? For elephants, chimps, tapirs, and sea bass? For pronghorns and zebras? For freshwater eels, Atlantic cod, and swordfish?

For all of these, and thousands more, the world is harder, darker, shorter, and less secure.

The Opportunity to Rewild Thanks to the Beneficence and Super Abundance of Modern Agriculture

Every one in a while a very important article
comes along and I want folks to read it so much that I blast it to the world. This is one of those articles. Written by Jesse H. Ausubel, Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University, it is entitled The Return of Nature: How Technology Liberates the Environment. Read the whole thing!

I have argued that both the United States and the world are at peak farmland, not because of exhaustion of arable land, but because farmers are wildly successful in producing protein and calories. To prosper, farmers have allowed or forced Americans to eat hamburgers and chicken tenders, drink bourbon, and drive with ethanol, and they continue to export massive tonnages abroad.

Wasted food is not decoupled from acreage. When we consider the horror of food waste, not to mention obesity, we further appreciate that huge amounts of land can be released from agriculture with no damage to human diet. Every year 1.3 billion tons of food are thrown away globally, according to a 2013 report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. That equates to one-third of the world’s food being wasted....

Rebound is already happening. Abandonment of marginal agricultural lands in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe has released at least 30 million hectares and possibly as much as 60 million hectares to return to nature, according to careful studies by geographer Florian Schierhorn and his colleagues. Thirty million hectares is the size of Poland or Italy. The great reversal of land use that I am describing is not only a forecast; it is a present reality in Russia and Poland as well as Pennsylvania and Michigan.

In America alone the total amount of corn fed to cars grows on an area equal to Iowa or Alabama. Think of turning all those lands that are now pasture for cars into refuges for wildlife, carbon orchards, and parks. That would represent about twice the area of all the US national parks outside Alaska.

Cross Fox Last Night

Here's a fox with an interesting pelage! I would call her a cross fox, but she's almost a brindle, and she has a touch of mange as well -- a reminder that mange, distemper, and vehicle impact hunt fox in a way that is far more cruel than that of the dog man.  Decent food for a few months, and/or a few doses of ivermectin over two weeks, would set this fox right, but Mother Nature abhors populations running at the red-line for over-production, and so the numbers will just get hammered down somewhere else, one way or another. Mother Nature always bats last, and she is a cruel clean-up batter.

Note that this is not the same fox as was photographed a few nights ago.  Fox densities in the suburbs and cities are so high that territories overlap in a confusion of boundaries. It's rare for any fox to make it past their third or fourth year, and most are dead within 18 months due to disease alone -- a factor that has to occur in a mammal that is raising 4-5 young every year.  Steady-state population dynamics requires species with high-fecundity to have high rates of mortality.

Gotta Have Moxie

Hunting orange hat! And with my dog's name too! Awesome T-shirt with historical note. Gotta have Moxie!

Moxie is an old quack medicine now sold as a soft drink and best described as tasting like "liquid pain."

Catch and Release Hunting

One of the great things about terrier work is that you can hunt and release game back to the wild unharmed, much as you can with fish at a lake, stream, or ocean. The joy and skill of hunting is preserved. Death is not required, and hunting, is preserved and made distinct from the act of killing -- a confusion for so many.

Hive Mind

These bee hives are in the park where I walk the dogs. They are unfenced and left alone, the assumption being that people are not fools and that the bees can take care of themselves.

The prodigous construction and destruction efforts of bees, termites, worms, and ants is a reminder that great things can be built -- and destroyed -- by the smallest actions of tiny actors over time. Darwin understood.