Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Dog Training the Baby

A True Dog Man is Always a Cynic

Study what man has done to dogs, and you can become a bit cynical about humans.

Which is not an accident.

It turns out that the word "cynic" refers to dogs.

The term was coined by the Greek philosopher Diogenes who noted that dogs judged men and situations by what they did rather than what they said.

Diogenes recognized that many of the social values and institutions of humans are the product of little more than corrupted theory untested in the real world.

A bit like the American Kennel Club ....

Diogenes went on to note that many social conventions were simply put in place to demonstrate power by a controlling authority, such as government or church. People simply followed on, parroting what others said, and conforming to power in order to achieve social status and approval.

A bit like the American Kennel Club ...

Was Diogenes a crank?

Or surely!

This was a man who lived in a earthenware cistern and was known to urinate and defecate in public (he maintained they were natural actions). Plato called Diogenes "a Socrates gone mad," while for his part Diogenes said Plato's lectures were a waste of time. Later, when Plato defined Man as a "featherless biped," Diogenes plucked a chicken clean of all feathers and brought it into Plato's lecture room with the words "Here is Plato's man." Somewhat reduced, Plato was forced to add to the definition, "having broad nails."

To some degree the battle between Diogenes and Plato is still being waged today.

The Kennel Club's definition of beauty is a Platonic Ideal -- one in which the dogs in the ring are compared to a picture, and theory is used to conjure up a "standard" which has nothing to do with canine health or function.

The result, Diogenes would note, is not natural, is almost entirely arbitrary, and is often evil -- dogs that are being bred with high and rising rates of physical pathology ranging from defective hearts to shattered hips, and from wrecked eyes to cross-wired brains and diseased livers.

And yet for decades nothing has been done.

The various Kennel Club hierarchies have whistled past the dogs that cannot walk, cannot breathe, cannot reproduce on their own, and who endure shortened lives lived in pain.

Diogenes would not be surprised at that outcome. In his day he noted that men often saluted what was conventionally deemed evil, while often ignoring -- or even encouraging -- things that were truly evil.

And how was this done?

Often with sophisms -- verbal tricks of the tail.

George Orwell called this "double-speak," and Stephen Colbert has called it "truthiness," but it is all much the same -- words that sound correct and which are used to confuse while seeming to illuminate.

The Kennel Club version is the nonsense phrase that "form follows function," and never mind that two dogs which have exactly the same function are given entirely different forms!

The terrier and the dachshund do the same work, but they do not have the same form.

The setter and the pointer do the same jobs, but they do not look alike.

The Corgi and the drover's dog known as the Bouvier Des Flandres once had similar functions, but they do not look a bit alike.

Has no one else noticed?

But, of course, there is no percentage in noticing, is there? Instead, people parrot the words and conform to convention, and the charade in the Kennel Club ring continues uninterrupted.

And why? Diogenes knew.

It is because humans seek the approbation of other human beings, and in so doing enslave themselves.

In their chase for the blue ribbon, otherwise smart people park their brains in neutral and mindlessly embrace conventions made up by nameless, faceless people with dubious credentials.

Never mind that the dogs are being wrecked. The people in the ring need approval, and if the dog has to suffer for that to happen, then that is the price that will be paid for the blue ribbon.

Diogenes understood.

He was, after all, a cynic -- a true dog man.

John Steinbeck on California's Water Crisis

In East of Eden, Nobel-prize winning author John Steinbeck's (1902-1968) writes:
I have spoken of the rich years when the rainfall was plentiful. But there were dry years too, and they put a terror on the valley. The water came in a thirty-year cycle. There would be five or six wet and wonderful years when there might be nineteen to twenty-five inches of rain, and the land would shout with grass. Then would come six or seven pretty good years of twelve to sixteen inches of rain. And then the dry years would come, and sometimes there would be only seven or eight inches of rain. The land dried up and the grasses headed out miserably a few inches high and great bare scabby places appeared in the valley. The live oaks got a crusty look and the sagebrush was gray. The land cracked and the springs dried up and the cattle listlessly nibbled dry twigs. Then the farmers and the ranchers would be filled with disgust for the Salinas Valley. The cows would grow thin and sometimes starve to death. People would have to haul water in barrels to their farms just for drinking. Some families would sell out for nearly nothing and move away. And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.


Monday, July 06, 2015

Fox on Top of the Stone Dog House

It's taken a while for the ivy to fill in on top of the stone dog house I built for Trooper back when he he was so old and arthritic that he could not negotiate stairs very well, but it has finally filled in and now provides a perfect "table top" location to photograph fox that come  to the back yard.

Digging on the Dogs

I'm not sure if this groundhog dug away or bolted, but it hardly matters as this is this very young pup's first real day in the field, and she is still putting it all together.  She's a quick learner, however, and I think she is going to be a terror.  Thrilled with her progress on this, her first real day in the field.

Field Flowers

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Textbook Terrier Work at the Second Hole

Checking it out.

Moxie slides in.

Groundhog bolted up a tree,

This one bolted out of the sette and climbed a tree, with Moxie right behind him.

The vegetation here was so thick there was no hope in finding all the bolt holes, and Moxie made quick work of it, as she is so small that she can go through a 30-foot pipe pretty quickly.

Find Joy in the Details

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Real American Fireworks

This Land Is Your Land

Moxie Has a Big Day

This is Moxie yesterday at the first hole of the day, and really her first time underground.

She had a raccoon bottled up inside. The trunk is hollow, so the raccoon was able to climb out of reach.

The sette is entered at the top, and is very old and been in continuous use for at least 50 years, with groundhogs trimming back small roots that got larger as the tree has grown.

The roof and side of this sette is made of massive roots which have fused together to create a solid root wall.

Though this tree is enormous it may be only 50 years old, as sycamores can get very big relatively quickly if they have a lot of water at hand.

This is Misto at the top of this sette. You can see another hole at left, but I am not sure if it connects up or not.


When Moxie is underground, Misto should be staked or clipped to my pack, and vice-versa.  The job of the dog not underground is to shut up and relax, or perhaps wait next to a bolthole. This is called "honoring" for some reason.

I am pretty sure Misto never read the manual, but since his default position is relaxed, he has this part of the job covered!

Zombies, Time Wasters and Anonymous Cowards

A "Christian" person came on to the comments section to post about gay marriage etc., and proceeded to quote an Iron Age book of hate and fear.

I allowed the comment, started to respond to it, thought better of it, and will now simply repost the rules of commentary for this blog. The excellent news is that I seem to have shaken off most of the trolls, lazies, hazies, and crazies, and it has been a long time since I had to shit-can a commentator.

OK. So what are the rules and/or guidelines?  This post was written in 2009, and it has a pretty fierce tone because I find that the delusional, the paranoid, the stupid, the bi-polar, the conspiracy-theorists, the narcissistic, and the religious are more than a little tone deaf.

I did not start this blog to meet you.

I did not start this blog because I wanted to answer stupid questions from people who are too lazy to use the Google.

I did not start this blog because I wanted to engage in endless political debate with unintelligent ideologues with wacko political theories, or food faddists, or breed-blind frustrated hair dressers.

I did not start this blog to give a voice to cowards who will not use their real names and give their real email addresses.

For several years, I simply turned off the comments section to this blog rather than deal with the never-ending tide of trolls who confuse blogs with chat rooms or list-servs or Internet bulletin boards.

About a year back, I opened up the comments part of the blog after Blogger embraced technology that more-or-less killed the advertising spam bots, but I still get trolls and fools, and instant experts who think they will slip their nonsense out to the world by piggy-backing it into the comments section of this blog.

What to do? Do I want my time to be controlled by anonymous fools who post in the comments section?

Or do I want to write on what I want to write about, and spend the rest of my time with family, friends, and normal life tasks?

Do I simply let nonsense stand and hope someone else will take their valuable time answering or rebutting it?

And why should I host a space for complete nonsense anyway?

At the end of my life, what would I rather have done? How will I wish I had spent my time?

How much time theft should I allow from people I do not know, who do not have real names, and will not use a real email address?

A few months ago, I added pointed instructions to the comments section of this blog.

That helped a bit, but not enough.

So now I am imposing a new rule: No Zombies.

If you are a left-wing, vegan, bunny-hugger zombie , go away. I don't want to hear your shit and neither does anyone else.

Ditto if you are a right-wing paranoid zombie who cannot stop talking about how important your right-to-carry is. Go away. This is not your spot.

Ditto if you are a Lyndon LaRouche zombie, or a Ron Paul zombie. Go away.

If you are a dog food faddist zombie, go away.

If you are a pit bull fighting zombie, go away.

If you do not have a real name and a real email address you are willing to attach to your comments, then you are a zombie. Go away.

If you are a proselytizing born-again anything kind of zombie, go away.  If you are a stalker, a nutter or a pretender, go away.

I write what I want to write about, and if you don't like it, go away.

If I have a well-formed political opinion, and you disagree with it, go away. Or at least STFU. Start your own blog.

I did not start this blog to provide a forum for you!

Blogs are about attraction not promotion.

If you do not like what I am talking about, go away.

This blog is not a democracy and you have no rights here. If you are having a hard time with that idea, go away.

Does that mean I get it right on all the time? No, of course not.

Sometimes I get it wrong, and I am quick to correct when I do. But if I got it wrong, please supply a link to a credible source. Use the Google. And do not confuse anecdote with statistics or typing with writing. If you are writing really long and have no sources, you are doing something wrong.

If I have obviously slipped in my logic, or missed a good example, or forgotten part of a history, or gotten a number wrong, let me know. It happens, and I thank people who let me now.

But if you are simply a Zombie, a Troll, or an Anonymous Coward, or a typist, go away.

I do not have the time, and I will not supply the forum.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Florida Lions Come Roaring Back

Some time back, in a post entitled Islands of Wolves, Rats, Lions and Dogs, I detailed why population bottle necks are not quite as simple an issue as some would have you believe, as a lot depends on the length of an animal's life, the number of progeny in a year, the length of time before first birth, life-span, mating habits, time, total population numbers, and the level of genetic diversity in the establishing or remaining population.

In the real world, population bottlenecks are not always quite as big a problem as some people imagine, nor are they quite as easy to correct as some people hope. If that sounds like two statements in direct opposition, then you have grasped a core message of this post, which is that not all animal populations are the same, that few real-world cases line up squarely with simple theory, and that there are multiple facets to both genetic isolation and genetic rescue.

One of the example animals given was the Florida Mountain Lion or Florida Panther.

Now imagine a large population of lions that has been reduced by hunting to just 30 individuals living on an isolated isthmus 200 square miles in size. The population is so isolated that the coefficients of inbreeding within the lion population begin to rise, and a rise of infecundity and an increase in genetic defect is feared. The good news, however, is that this isthmus is not at carrying capacity for lion, and so eight completely unrelated female lions are imported from another country more than 1,000 miles away -- a 25% population boost representing a massive increase in genetic diversity. What happens? A rather significant improvement in species health and fecundity seems to occur, and the lions begin colonizing more space on the isthmus.

Since I wrote that post, a little over three and a half years ago, there has been a population explosion of Mountain Lions in Florida. National Public Radio reports:

Now, nearly 200 range throughout southwest Florida. And some officials, ranchers and hunters in the state say that may be about enough...

Creating a travel corridor for panthers and other wildlife has become increasingly important as the big cat's population has grown in southwest Florida.

"Because their ranges are fairly large," says Wendy Matthews, with the Nature Conservancy, "they need to move north in order to continue having a healthy population in terms of genetics and then also being able to have sufficient game to eat and feed their kittens with."

Florida officials estimate there are now at least 180 Florida panthers living on millions of acres of public and private land in Florida. But after decades of protecting the panther and working to expand its habitat, state wildlife officials now say they want to adopt a new policy toward the endangered species.

Under a federal recovery plan for the panther, it can't be taken off the endangered species list until three populations of 240 animals or more are established in Florida or other Southeastern states.

Liesa Priddy, a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a ranch owner, believes those goals may be unrealistic.

"We're at the point where we're probably pushing the 240 animals in this primary, first range for panthers," she says. "And where does the second population go? Because it takes a lot of contiguous land to support a panther population."

Of course, the bottom line is the bottom line. Florida is a popular retirement destination and the Baby Boom generation is retiring in droves. Unable to afford expensive homes on the coast, more and more are opting for land in Florida's interior. This is a classic battle between greed and need, people and wildlife, the interlopers and the original residents:

But panthers are just one part of a much larger dispute playing out in Florida: one about land use and the future of millions of undeveloped acres in the state. After decades of development along the coasts, builders and retirees are increasingly looking to new communities in Florida's interior, including areas west of Lake Okeechobee where panthers are becoming common.

Paul Carlisle, an administrator from Glades County, says more than one-third of the land there is already under conservation easements. Setting aside more land for panthers, he says, would hurt the county's economy. The panther, Carlisle noted to the commission, used to range not just in Florida, but throughout the Southeast, from Texas to North Carolina.

Not said in the NPR piece is that there is no such thing as a Florida Panther. It's just a Mountain Lion, same as can be found in other parts of the nation. This is "subspecies" fiction designed to protect habitat; a worthy goal based on bad science.

If Florida has "extra" Mountain Lions, why not move a few of them north into Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and upstate New York?

There is more than enough wild land out there to support a sizable Lion population. There is no reason in the world to bottle up "the Florida Panther" in Florida, since there was never such a thing as the Florida Panther.  Mountain Lions are Mountain Lions.

The US once had a large Mountain Lion population that stretched from California to Virginia, from Texas to Minnesota, and from Florida to Maine.

Let's restore that population -- or as much of it as we possibly can. Yes, there will be a few problems with livestock and pets and people, and the occasional Lion will have to be relocated or shot. But Lions breed relatively fast and can be managed on the land.  Let us return what land we can to one of America's top end predators,

Fish On Friday

Thursday, July 02, 2015

H Is for Hawk, and H is for Hedge

Remember when we were told that, along with a paperless office, the machine age would deliver us a flying car and endless amounts of leisure time?

Right.  Not so much.

And so, after buying a paper copy of H is for Hawkand carrying it around in my bag for six weeks, I made a leap and bought an audio copy on Audible as part of a promotion of that service.

The fact that it was going to be read by the author was an attraction.

An earlier Audible book on artificial intelligence had been read by a voice that sounded a bit like the computer "Hal" from 2001, A Space Odyssey.

Would this be that voice too?

I suspected not.

I am happy to report Helen MacDonald has a delightful voice, and her cadence is perfect.

She is wonderful writer, but she may be even better listened to than read. This is writing as poetry.

I had read T.H. White's The Goshawk before. I even own a first edition (there is no other) of Gone to Ground, his sporting decameron tale, but I had no idea White was gay or a sadist.

All I could tell from reading The Goshawk was that he didn't know his ass from his elbow when it came to training any animal, much less a hawk.

As I listened to Helen MacDonald's recounting of her story, her father's story, and T.H. White's, I was reminded of how much terrier work is like hawking

The frame is the same; one species harnessed by another to hunt a third.

For both, the danger of losing a much-loved animal is always there, as is the need to focus unblinking attention on the thing that is loved.

Fly a hawk, or run a working terrier in the field, and you will eventually have one disappear on you.

It happens to everyone. Most of the time things get sorted quickly enough.  But not always. 

When a hawk or a terrier slips away unseen, the hollow inside you starts as small as a peanut.  In 15 minutes it is as big as a ping pong ball. In half an hour it's as big as a melon. In an hour it is pressing hard against your lungs.

The brain tries to reign things in, but the hollow inside you has now grow, graduated, and is an independent thinker.

You strain for a sound.  Was that a goose? A murder of crows? Perhaps a barking dog?

You are hunting as if a life depends on it.  You move upwind and down, scanning for movement. You curse passing airplanes and the rumble of distant cars.  Then you hear a small muffled sound, or see a flash of fur or feather, and your world swings back, centered and in control.

There it is. All is not lost.

I can fix this.

The illusion of control is restored.

Why do we do this?  

Why do we hunt with hawk or terrier when the potential for devastating loss is always there?

I cannot speak for others. I can barely articulate an answer for myself. 

The way I hunt allows me to enter forest and field with a new set of glasses.  I see more and I begin to understand the world better because I am thinking with a primitive and feral brain that is not my own.

The way I hunt allows me to understand the natural world in a more intimate way -- and with it my own place in a complicated matrix.

In this world there is no past or future, there is only NOW. What is flying NOW? What can be scented NOW? What is the weather NOW?

I may be hunting a small farm on the edge of the suburbs, but I can see the wild, feel the wilder, and almost taste the wilderness.

And what I am doing is not without risk.

I am running along the edge of the abyss and I am aware of it. Yes, the dog or the hawk is wearing an electronic locator, but it is far from magic. Very bad things can happen out here. There is no question about that.

What is going on here is irrational, but it is also basic and elemental.

When the dogs and I go hunting, the code explodes from where it has been coiled up like a watch spring inside our respective bits of DNA.

It is an ancient code written in blood and sweat, and urine and dirt.

This code connects all things, including the dogs and I and the natural world around us.

And it is a timeless code. There is no past or future in the hedge; there is only NOW, now, now.

Perhaps this is part of the attraction. 

Perhaps this is why Helen MacDonald took to training a Goshawk as she struggled to remain upright following the death of her father.

Perhaps this is why T.H, White took to training a Goshawk when he came to his own fork in the road.

I do not know.  

I do not claim to understand it.

All I know is that a kind of enlightenment occurs for dog, hawk, and human alike. When things go well, we become one together, and with the land, and with the seconds and minutes that we spend together.

It is a perfect thing.  It is what we chase in the hedge.

Coffee and Provocation

Sterilizing Deer Increases Deer Numbers?
Scientists who have been surgically sterilizing deer on the campus of Cornell University have discovered that their work has resulted in no decline in deer numbers and may have exacerbated the problem.  It seems by preventing pregnancy in does, Cornell accidentally triggered reoccurring deer estrus cycles which lure bucks in from all around. 

A Treasure Trove of African Rock Art
The British Museum is uploading 25,000 digital images of African rock art. Fabulous! 

Maybe They Should Import Mexicans?
Columbia has a record coffee harvest, but a shortage of workers to pick it. Or at leash a shortage of workers at the wages and benefits offered for unreliable seasonal employment that involves hard physical labor in remote locations.  Sound familiar? Too bad they don't have slaves.

300 Years of the Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes
Note how many slaves went to South American and the Caribbean.  Most died there, as conditions were horrible, and disease rampant.

Can Fish Feel Pain?
Probably not say scientists who say the primitive brains fish do not have enough sensory receptors in their nerve cells for suffering to occur.

Artificial Intelligence Meets Darwin 
A computer has developed a new scientific theory, using only artificial intelligence, to solve the problem of how flatworms replicate after being sliced up.

Extension Cord Solution
A carabiner can help you keep your extension cords connected -- a solution to a perpetual problem. It's at the 3.08 mark.

Feminist Drones Dropping Abortion Pills
Why are feminist drones dropping abortion pills in Poland? Women on Waves is using drones to highlight Poland’s restrictive abortion laws.

Girl Scout Troop Council Rejects $100,000
The money came with a condition:  they had to reject transgender scouts.  Instead, the scouts rejected the money... and raised $250,000 through Indiegogo.

Storage Hack for IPhone
iOS 8 lets you store lower resolution versions of photos and videos on your iPhone, while uploading the full resolution versions to your iCloud account. Simply go to Settings > Photos & camera > Optimize phone storage. Other hacks here.

Rock On Little Wing!

For you kids out there
, Little Wing is a song by this fellow.

Misto Checking Holes

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

True Southern Pride and Real Southern Shame

There are things to be proud of if you're from the South.

We can be proud of a dozen kinds of barbecue that are variously rubbed, soaked, basted, and slathered.

We know pig and we know chicken.

We can be proud that we have a long history of running coon hounds at night, and foxhounds during the day.

We know dogs.

We can be proud of our wildlife: turkey, deer, duck, geese, and bear. We hunt and fish, and we make no apologies for it.

We know forest, field and fen.

We are proud of our music. We invented Jazz, Blues, Bluegrass, Rhythm and Blues, and Southern Rock.

We glory in fireflies and snapping turtles, bluegills and bucket-mouthed bass, cane poles and bank lines for catfish.

There are things to eat in the South:  corn bread and grits, biscuits and gravy, coleslaw and lemon meringue pie, watermelon pickles and fried green tomatoes.

There are things to drink in the South:  RC Cola and sweet tea, lemonade and Cheerwine. I am told we make pretty good liquor, taxed and untaxed.

And let us not ever forget that we are tough.  It took hard men to mine soft coal, to follow a plow, to bring in the hay, to run lumber through a mill, and to bring in the shrimp. It took smart men to give the world Coca-cola and CNN.

There's no shortage of things to be proud of if you are from the South.

But there's one thing to be ashamed of.

I don't need to say what that is, because there are still fools and pretenders who remind us of why we are ashamed every single day.

Some of these folks are true sister-fucking, knuckle-dragging racists.

Most, however, are just pretenders and wannabes.  

These are the people who embrace the confederate flag as a right-wing political act.

These are the folks who follow the crowd, and who think aping "the cause" of the moment, as directed by Fox News, might suggest they have deep cultural roots and bonafides they actually don't have.

Most of these pretenders cannot even name their great, great grandfather and grandmother.

Roots? Chickweed has deeper roots!

Here's the thing: the Confederate flag that you see being waved about today has no real historical roots at all.

At best, it is a corrupted and historically inaccurate bastardization of the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, the area where I am from.

This fake "Confederate flag" was invented whole cloth in the 1950s when the Ku Klux Klan and racist segregationists wanted a symbol to wave during their televised hate campaigns.

As the folks over at Vox note, this Confederate flag has always symbolized white supremacy — and it has never symbolized anything else:

The Confederate flag began enjoying unprecedented national popularity and became a cultural symbol after World War II, just as the federal government began trying to make good on its Reconstruction-era civil rights promises....

... [I]t's not a coincidence that white Southerners were embracing the Confederate battle flag just as the South's system of violently enforced white supremacy was under its first real threat since Reconstruction. President Truman had vowed to do more to promote civil rights, integrating the military and telling the NAACP that civil rights could not wait.

In response, the Ku Klux Klan surged. Southern politicians displayed the Confederate battle flag when they railed against Truman. College students who supported Strom Thurmond's segregationist presidential campaign in 1948 waved Confederate flags at campaign events.

And so it started, and so it remains.

So if you think waiving a fake Confederate flag makes you a Southerner or shows your "pride in the South" and your "roots," I have only one thing to say to you: Fuck You.

Fuck you if you are so dumb, ignorant, lazy, and uncreative that the only way you can show Southern pride is to wave a Chinese-made flag.

Fuck you if, instead of showing true Southern hospitality, you work overtime to make others feel unwelcome and uncomfortable.

Fuck you if you do not want to celebrate the best of the South, but to remind people of the worst.

Fuck you, you fucking fucker.

The South is a great place, and those of us who love it will NOT be defined by four years of treason and failed insurrection ginned up by preening peacocks, hot heads, and terrified slave holders too lazy to actually work their own land more than 150 years ago.

I am sorry that you are such a loser that blaming others for your inadequacies is the only way you can wake up in the morning and not slit your own throat.

I am sorry you are so rootless that you have no positive cultural traditions to share with others.

I am truly sorry the only way you can show your "Southern pride" is to wave the most visible symbol of the South's historical and moral shame.

You are the worst the South has to offer.  And for that, you should be ashamed.  The nation already is.

Teaching Manners to a Monster

Ziggy is a 200-pound St. Bernard just pulled from rescue. He may have never been out of his yard. He has certainly never been walked on a leash.

Ziggy is not just big, without manners, direction, or training, he is a walking danger to himself, his owner, and everyone else around him.

This is a dog that can drag himself and his owner into traffic, drag everyone into a dog fight, and easily dislocate a shoulder, or pull someone into a serious fall.

This is a video of Ziggy's first-ever training session with Sean O'Shea at The Good Dog Training and Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles.

Ziggy is not a bad dog. No aggression issues. He's just a VERY BIG dog who has never been taught anything or been given much experience.

As you can imagine, his new owner was freaked out by the sheer power of the dog, and had the good sense to go to a professional dog trainer with more than one trick in his bag.

As you can see, Sean O'Shea is a well-muscled fellow and not old. Even with a prong collar and a dominant dog collar for backup and safety, however Ziggy has more power than can be easily controlled with a leash alone.

The good news is that Sean had also put an E-Collar Technologies Boss Collar on Ziggy.

Using the leash and the e-collar in tandem, Sean quickly works Ziggy into doing short recalls and turn arounds. Once Ziggy gets the hang of that, Sean starts training him to do a controlled walk at heel.

Massive improvements occur very quickly. and without a lot of drama or jerking.

This is a terrific example of the value and power of e-collar training, especially for people with limited upper body strength, shoulder injuries, and/or very large dogs.

Ziggy is running at about 45 or 55 on a Boss Collar here. For reference, my small terriers run at 3 (Misto) and 6 (Moxie and Mountain) on their Educator collars, made by the the same company.

Again, this is what makes the modern e-collar so terrific; they are like expandable wrenches that work on different sized nuts. They can be adjusted up and down to suit the dog and the circumstances, and they enable training with much better timing than can normally be given with a leash, especially at a distance.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The NRA Doesn't Represent Most Gun Owners

Another NRA-supported loser.
The Washington Post has an op-ed piece up by a fellow who owns a couple of guns and says the NRA does not represent him:

Some time after I bought my first gun, I got a robocall from the National Rifle Association, asking me to join. After the customary “Please stay on the line…” from a pleasant but earnest voice, I recoiled from the barkings of an angry-sounding man.

Did I know that Barack Hussein Obama and European leaders are meeting on American soil right now, at this very moment, to plot the confiscation of my guns?

The caller continued with his insinuations of an imminent United Nations plot against America, but before I could be handed off to a live operator, I hung up the phone.

I was amused, and then insulted, that someone would think I was dumb enough to fall for such a pitch. But the sad truth is that there are enough people willing to open their checkbooks to make such a noxious fundraising appeal worthwhile.

The NRA claims to have five million dues-paying members (though there’s some reason to believe this figure is inflated). That sounds formidable, until one considers that there are approximately 50 million adults who own firearms. Still, the organization has successfully positioned itself as the singular representation of gun owners. For decades they’ve worked to defend and expand access to firearms in spite of polls showing that most Americans, including gun owners, favor laws that would limit access in various reasonable ways (even three-quarters of NRA households favor background checks prior to private gun sales). But when a U.S. congresswoman was shot in the face, the NRA made certain that no law was passed that would have made her safer. There’s no doubt that the NRA does have some grass-roots support, but it’s smaller than we think. The NRA does not represent all gun owners, and it certainly doesn’t represent me.

The piece starts to roll but never takes flight as it remains focused on guns rather than the fact that NRA membership numbers are a lie, and a lie that both the press corps and politicians have bought into for too long.

You do not have to be a gun grabber to reject the NRA, and you do not need to be a crack-shot researcher to expose the biggest lie about the NRA.

Here's a hint: We have a hugely popular Democrat president, and the NRA opposed him with everything they had to offer.

The NRA supported John McCain who was a gun grabber, and they supported Mitt Romney too. How did that work out for those candidates?

The real membership of the NRA is less than half what they claim it to be.

Is the NRA still a big organization? Sure. But they represent a small fraction of gun owners, and gun owners represent a small fraction of the total populace, and even less of those that matter in an election since almost none of them are swing voters.

The NRA's mission no longer has much to do with guns and a lot more to do with separating the rubes from their wallets.

This is a direct mail mill not much different from PETA or HSUS or the ASPCA, albeit directed at low-information reactionary Republicans rather than low-information, reactionary Democrats.

As with a Nigerian scammer, a lot of things in an NRA appeal are left transparent in order to winnow out the thoughtful.

Both the NRA and the Nigerian email scammer know that transparent lies are a good way to "lose" the troublesome types right at the beginning.  These are folks who will join once, but will never renew or donate  again.  Why waste a special appeal and renewal cycle on someone who doesn't believe in black helicopters or that ISIS is about to invade across our southern border?

I have friends who continue to donate to the NRA. When asked they tell me that "no one else" is there to defend gun rights.

I have to laugh.

Defend them from what? Rational thought?

The most extreme gun restrictionist proposal you can find in any legislature today would have been embraced by the NRA back in 1975, when we had color television sets and had already put a man on the moon. Crime today is lower than it was then, and the Democratic party today is more conservative than Richard Nixon.  Protect guns from what?

Well, you know. Those people.

Right. Those people.  

All of this reminds me of nothing so much as military contractors telling us that we need to spend $17 billion on building a single aircraft carrier (the Gerald Ford) that will be stocked with F-35's that each cost $337 million.

And WHO is this floating target going to be fighting? The contractor are vague. And well they should be, as no other power in the world has a navy or even much of an air force.

So we are told we need to arm ourselves against, you know, THEM. Those people.

What? The ones living in mud caves? You think an air craft carrier is the right tool for that job? 

And so it goes.  Good money follows bad. We are told to put our brains on autopilot and that any attempt to engage in free thought is an exercise in weakness and treason.

But it's not. Anyone who tell you that is either an idiot or a scammer.

And the NRA is an organization of scammers.

If an organization lies to you about something as basic as its membership numbers, they will lie to you about everything and anything.

Caveat emptor.  

The NRA is playing its members for fools. same as PETA, HSUS, and the ASPCA.

A direct mail mill is a direct mail mill.  They live on rubes, suckers, and marks.  If you donate to any of them, you have just failed an IQ test.

That's not a political statement or even a statement about guns; that's a simple fact.

Deer Last Night

The top two were crossing the road in front of my house, one stop light to Georgetown.  The other three were in a group at the local park where I walk the dogs; two of them are buck in velvet.  Pictures take after 8:30 at night with an iPhone, always the camera at hand.