Monday, May 02, 2016

Can You Find Mark Zuckerberg's Dog?

Here's a hint.

Coffee and Provocation

Hot Coffee, Mississippi
Dogs Protecting Elephants
Sniffer dogs are being used to thwart elephant ivory smuggling at the Nairobi airport.

Without a WarningGerman discount supermarket Lidl is recalling its own brand tinned herring fillets in the UK because they do not warn shoppers that they may contain fish.

Another Fraud, This Time About Food
The folks at the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic are angry that fake expiration dates on food results in billions of pounds of good food being tossed out. The same is true for many prescription medicines, such as antibiotics in pill form, which have been shown to be good for a decade or more past their expiration date. With food, as with drugs, expiration dates are entirely unregulated, which means food and drugs manufacturers can print whatever they want on a container in order to encourage you to throw good product in the trash so that you will buy more.  Watch the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic's new film:  Not Really Expired.

The Mice Feel Like Crap
Mice who'd received fecal transplants from depressed humans exhibited signs of "depressive-like behavior," indicating that depression may be influenced, or even caused, by the trillions of microbes in our guts.

Not Dead Yet 
Chicago's Field Museum reports that it found 1,820 species -- including 19 previously unknown species -- in just 17 days in a previously biologically-unexplored section of the Peruvian Amazon. Like every other part of the Amazon, the area in question is threatened by illegal mining and logging.

Except for the Kestrel
Raptor populations have been on the rise since DDT was banned in the 1970s — except for the American Kestrel which has lost nest cavities to other birds and grasshopper food sources to pesticides.

Jimmy Stewart, Dog Man

Mathias Duplessy & The Violins of the World

French musician
Mathias Duplessy meets Mongolian musician Enkhjargal Dandarvaanchig, and it's magical.

If Sergio Leone were alive today, he would make a new western just to go with this music.

The rather strange-looking instrument being played by Aliocha Regnard is called a "nyckelharpa," which is a Swedish instrument somewhat related to a hurdy-gurdy.

The Fox Versus the Stork

The states of Virginia and Maryland can be described as "the mother church of fox hunting in America."

Robert Brooke of Maryland introduced fox hunting to the United States in 1650 and imported the first pack of foxhounds from Great Britain at that time.

To this day, Maryland and neighboring Virginia are the center of mounted fox hunting in the U.S., providing good cover for a healthy fox population as well as fairly dense numbers of raccoon, groundhog and possum.

The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America holds its annual National Trial in about an hour up the road from my house, and many people who hunt terriers will spend at least one week of their lives attending this trial and, if they are lucky, hunting farms in the days before or after the long weekend.

While there are still a lot of open space in the Baltimore-Washington area, no one can deny that there has also been a very rapid growth in sprawl.

National Forests and state park land may be the same distance from home that they have always been, but increasing amounts of traffic make the trip seem longer and certainly less enjoyable.

The distance out of the city to sizeable farms is growing as land prices rise, and estate taxes force subdivision.

The simple and sad truth is that farming has become less profitable than construction of mini-estates.
The animated map, below, shows population growth and sprawl in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore corridor between 1792 and what is expected for 2075. The interval between each slide is 25 years, and I have put the data for each slide in the lower right hand corner.

While population growth in the Baltimore-Washington corridor has been rapid,
the effect on local habitat can best be seen by looking at a smaller slice of land.

To bring it back down to terrier history, let's look at Fairfax County, Virginia which is just 15 minutes up the road from where I live.

The first fox hunting pack maintained for the benefit of a group of foxhunters, rather than for a single owner, was instituted by Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax, in 1747 in northern Virginia.

Lord Fairfax swapped hounds with George Washington who lived just up the road at Mount Vernon. To this day, Virginia proudly counts fox hunting as part of its cultural heritage. The state dog is the foxhound, and the Master of Fox Hounds Association of America is headquartered in Millwood, Virginia, about 35 minutes away.

While Lord Fairfax may have lived to fox hunt, there are no mounted fox hunts in Fairfax County today, and only a few farms worthy of the name. Most of the forest fell to farms in the 1960s and 1970s, and most of the large farms have since fallen to tract homes, mini-estates and freeways.

The map below gives a visual presentation of what happened to Fairfax County, Virginia between 1937 and 1998, a period of just 60 years. As can be seen, very large blocks of forest fell to develoment between 1978 and 1988. It was during this period of time that major roads, such as I-66, were constucted. These roads effectively served to subsidize environmental destruction and the loss of farmland.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Please Looks Up the Leash

Dog shows:  It's not about the dog.

Three Stooges

Happy May Day

The weekend and the 40-hour week were created by the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that mandated a maximum 40 hour work week, imposed the minimum wage and time and a half for overtime, and banned child labor.

The Fair Labor Standards Act was New Deal Legislation first proposed by the unions, and backed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The legislation was initially proposed by Senator Hugo Black (D-AL) as a 30-hour week, but met fierce opposition from corporations and the US Chamber of Commerce, who also supported child labor and opposed Social Security and Medicare.

Hugo Black later became America's longest-serving Supreme Court justice, and was one of the Supreme Court Justices who held in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

American to the Bone

Went to a different H-Mart today, and this was next door. Love it!  Might have to go here with the kids; they're Korean, and grew up on American food, which is to say, Mexican food.I'll bet the fusion of East-meets-West is pretty interesting!

Coffee and Provocation

Weasel Shuts Down World's Most Expensive Machine 
The $7 billion Large Hadron Particle Collider, a 17-mile superconducting machine designed to smash protons together at close to the speed of light, has gone offline because a small mammal, possibly a weasel, gnawed-through a power cable.

How to Make Gun Powder From Urine
You will need to know this when the apocalypse hits.

America  Now Has a National Mammal
Without looking, can you guess what it is?

Ditch Diggers Find Half a Ton of Roman Coins
There's supposed to be buried gold and silver all over, and every once in a while someone stumbles on some of it.

The Pain of White Folks is Unbearable
Please send money. From Sabrina Tavernise at The New York Times: "Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s. The suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the period of the study, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the study on Friday.... The data analysis provided fresh evidence of suffering among white Americans. Recent research has highlighted the plight of less educated whites, showing surges in deaths from drug overdoses, suicides, liver disease and alcohol poisoning, particularly among those with a high school education or less. The new report did not break down suicide rates by education, but researchers who reviewed the analysis said the patterns in age and race were consistent with that recent research and painted a picture of desperation for many in American society."

Australia's Robot Cat Killer

Feral cats in Australia have pushed many species of native marsupials and birds to the edge of extinction. In response, Australia has bounties to encourage people to shoot feral cats, and has a massive program of poisons baits. Now ecologist John Read has designed a laser-sighted robot to spray poison onto cats, and only onto cats, with the expectation they'll lick their fur and die.
With four laser rangefinders, the trap detects when something moves in front of it. If it’s taller than a cat – perhaps a dingo or a koala – the top rangefinder will be triggered and it shuts down. Similarly, a rangefinder at the bottom needs to be able to see between the cat’s legs, meaning a low-slung animal like a wombat or a quoll won’t trigger it.

Finally, two rangefinders at the front and back of the trap need to be triggered simultaneously, indicating something the length of a cat has moved in front of it.

Australia's first robot cat killer, has already been installed in a nature reserve in south-west Queensland.  The Australian government says there are approximately 20 million feral cats in the country, and that they threaten to push over 100 species over the edge, as each cat eats between three and 20 native animals a day.  The poison used is sodium fluoroacetate.

Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

A pair of nesting bald eagles on a web cam in the city of Pittsburgh were seen to be feasting on a dead cat they had brought to their nest.

In all likelihood, the cat was roadkill, but even so the lift itself should get applause as a physical feat.

Needless to say, applause is not what the eagles received. The title in The New York Post: "Eagle shreds cat on webcam, viewers can’t handle it",

This is not, of course, the first time a Bald Eagle has dined on cat.

From Lord Alfred Tenyson's poem, In Memoriam A.H.H. come this reminder that cats are fecund and all things are part of the chain:

Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life;
That I, considering everywhere
Her secret meaning in her deeds,
And finding that of fifty seeds
She often brings but one to bear,
I falter where I firmly trod,
And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world's altar-stairs
That slope thro' darkness up to God,
I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope.

As Fake as a $10 Rolex

Holden Caulfield says Trump is a phony.

Distraction is the First Action

The first job of a pick pocket is to bump the mark.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Getting Attention at Breakfast

Mountain Girl and Marley
like having breakfast in the greenhouse with me on this cold rainy morning. Blueberry muffins! Misto and Moxie are in the back "managing mischief".

Terriers on Deck

Feeding the terriers on the deck of the "Kasierin Auguste Victoria" in June  of 1906.

This 677-foot ship was built in 1905 by Vulcan AG shipyard in Stettin (now Szczecin) Poland) for the Hamburg America Line, and was put on a regularly route from Hamburg to New York until the outbreak of world War I. At the end of that war, she was seized by the U.S. Navy. She was transferred from the U.S. Navy to the British in 1919, who sold it to Cunard Lines, who sold it to Canadian Pacific, who re-christened the ship RMS Empress of Scotland before finally scrapping the ship in England in 1930.


Willie and Loretta :: Lay Me Down

Fish on Friday

Cormorant fishing is done in parts of Asia.

The bird's throat is partially restricted with a cord or collar, to which a light line is attached. The tethered bird cannot fly away, nor can it fully ingest any fish it catches.

When a bird has swallowed one or two fish, the bird is gently pulled back in to the boat, and its throat is stroked to induce the fish to be coughed back up. Of course, the collar comes off at night, and the bird is allowed to eat two or three of the smaller fish it has caught during the day.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Charles Schultz, Spike and Snoopy

Charles Schultz and Spike

In the "Peanuts" or Charlie Brown cartoons, Snoopy has a brother out west named "Spike".

In fact, Spike was a real dog; a mixed-breed, black and white pup owned by Charles Schulz in his youth.

Spike was the subject of "Sparky" Schulz’s first published cartoon which the 15-year old sent to "Ripley's Believe it or Not"  The cartoon, shown below, noted his dog’s gastrointestinal feats. Schultz claimed Spike understood 50 English words.

Snoopy was not in the very first Peanuts comic strip, which ran on October 2, 1950. Instead, he showed up later, and in a form very different than he looks now. The softer, more-rounded Snoopy that we know today did not show up until the mid 1960s.  Spike, Snoopy's brother, did not show up until about a decade later.

Once They're Gone, They're Gone Forever.

Lumberjacks working among the former redwood trees of Humboldt County, California. Where this tree once stood sits either track housing, or marijuana fields.

Ivory-billed woodpecker study skins at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology.  This species is now extinct.

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

How Much Is That Cane?

Yesterday's post
about Incredible Canine Walking Sticks generated a couple of questions about where to acquire such a thing.

 Well, for those who must have one right now, this little item is £1,800 (about $2,700 US).

A Few Words About Time Wasting

This blog has a "no zombies" and "please use the Google" policy that is rather emphatically stated, and if people do not read it and do not honor it, I do not waste one second on them.

Other bloggers have struggled with their comments policy as well. 

Over at Stonekettle Station they have a very nice succinct version which can be summarized as: "don't be a dick."  

Over at Patheos, the deletion of a comment launched a small meditationwhich seems to end with "go fuck yourself and start your own damn blog." 

Over at Gene Expression on the Discovery magazine blog, however, they explain the mathematics behind the sensible and experienced blogger's rudeness:  there are simply far more prattling idiots than there are hours in the day, and we bloggers are in an asymetrical war with the time-wasters:

Over the 10 years of running my own blog(s) I’ve shifted in my own perspective and outlook. In the beginning I was rather laissez faire. But it became rather obvious that most people were either stupid or ignorant, or, they took advantage of the anonymity of the internet to waste other peoples’ time. The biggest issue which I think some readers don’t seem to internalize well is that not only am I engaging comments, I’m also writing. This means that I’m spread rather thin, so the situation of me interacting with a given commenter is never symmetrical. So, to give a non-hypothetical, if I ask you for some citations and you spend 10 seconds, I’m going to get rather ticked off. I spend hours writing, and then responding to commenters who are clear and sincere. In contrast, other commenters do step up and add value when I ask pointed questions.

In real life most people are not worth deep engagement because they’re dull or incurious, or, our interests do not overlap (i.e., I’m incurious about their topics of passion). It’s no different on the internet. Sitemeter says thousands of people read the content on this weblog per day. The vast majority do not leave comments, obviously. I’m glad for that.

Well done, and well said. 

Please do not take this as a stick in the eye.  I am always happy to hear sensible things, to get additional information, to hear about errors of fact with citations to reputable sources, or to be told I am smart, have lost weight, and put on an amazing tie this morning.  But please do not waste my time because you are bored and want to argue, or are too lazy to use the Google.  Time is more precious than gold, and I will not have mine stolen by fools.

And might I say that I hope you will embrace a similar world view in your own daily endeavors?

Try to get something done! Build foward, steer around the obstacles thrown in the road, and leave a few good words to those who show up early, stay late, and work hard in between, especially if those people happen to be at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Eschew the crazy, hazy and lazy, and the nattering nabobs of negativism that seem to be all around us all too often.  Help someone out, and do a little service.  Lean forward.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Incredible Canine Walking Sticks

My own walking stick, of course, is very terrier-specific and shows a terrier's butt sticking out of a hole. The entire top piece is carved out of a single piece of stag antler.