October 28, 2008

"Charles Alexander, Born 1922, Meets Obama"

Hat tip: the most excellent Jack & Jill Politics.

From a related thread over at the Daily Kos:
You Have No Idea How Nice Charlie really is...

So I have had the pleasure of living and playing in the Boulder area for over 6 years now. One of my first jobs was working in the historic Hotel Boulderado, and one of the first people I met there was Charlie Alexander. He was a staple in the lobby and ran the vintage elevator for anyone who dared to use it. He would tell anybody and everybody who was within earshot about the stories of his life. He was like a walking history lesson for us ignorant youth. As expected I moved on from the service industry, and sadly lost touch with most of the people at the Boulderado, including Charlie. Now I see this and am crying in my office because this is such a touching story, and because it makes me think of how he used to talk about his wife. Like she was a goddess, as I am sure she was to him. So there is a little more local color about Boulder's Charlie Alexander.
Peace and Love,

October 25, 2008

Come down off that ledge, Selma!

B-Rock's birth cert. Click for big.

Selma, as we both know, you can't cure stupid. For instance, there will always be people who are convinced that Barack Obama is an Arab terrorist. Along similar lines, there will always be people convinced that "pit bulls" pose a unique threat [and by "pit bulls" these poor souls mean all dogs of maybe two dozen breeds, and mongrels that resemble one of those breeds]. Gosh, there's even a
highly aggressive behaviour unique to pit bulls, not exhibited by any other type or breed of dog
which is, um, about as truthful and accurate as Barack Obama's "birth certificate" from Kenyatown, Kenya, shown at the top of this post.

pit bulls have a tendency to be unpredictable and [...] even apparently docile pit bulls may attack without warning or provocation.
Sweet Jebus. Nope, you can't cure stupid. The Ontario [Canada] Court of Appeals decision [the one stating that a ban on "pit bulls" will somehow protect Canadians from dog bites] is total, absolute, unadulterated batshit craziness. But change will come. Judicial batshitocity will eventually be revealed for the ignorant, bigoted nonsense it is, and "pit bulls" will survive their detractors. Remember the Netherlands...!

From the mixed-up files of the court of FUBAR —

Salem Village, Massachusetts, 1692: nineteen convicted witches are executed; at least four women accused of witchcraft die in prison; a four-year-old girl is accused of witchcraft and imprisoned for eight months; an elderly man is pressed to death; and two dogs are executed — hanged — as suspected accomplices of witches. Witchcraft hysteria comes to a screeching halt when the governor's wife is rumored to be a witch and the governor says, "You people? Are insane. Go home."

Fast forward to 2008 -- Salem is the Wicca capital of the known universe. Witch City.

Washington, D.C., 1857: Chief Justice Roger Taney rules that once and future slave Dred Scott is shit out of luck, since he has no standing to sue for his freedom in federal court.
[U]nder the terms of the U.S. Constitution, blacks were not — and never could be — citizens of the United States. At the time of the Constitution's ratification, Taney wrote, blacks were "regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights that the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his own benefit."
Fast forward to 2008: the black guy is going to win the election for president. Also: pit bulls will survive.

West Coast of the U.S., 1942: Civilian Exclusion Order No. 346 states that all people of Japanese ancestry, whether citizens or non-citizens, are to report to assembly centers, where they will live until being moved to permanent "Relocation Centers." The L.A. Times editorializes:
A viper is nonetheless a viper whenever the egg is hatched - so a Japanese American, born of Japanese parents - grows up to be a Japanese, not an American.
Fast-forward to 2008: the L.A. Times has endorsed Obama for the presidency, Muslim dad [and Kenyatown birth cert] notwithstanding.

Pit bulls will survive the Ontario nightmare. Pit bulls will survive because the culture of fear and ignorance is circling the drain, and because more and more smart, principled people own pit bulls and know them and love them. C'mon inside now, Selma -- we'll have some tea, hug the dogs, take yoga breaths and look at FrogDog's puppy photos.

[Huge, huge thanks to Selma -- Caveat -- for her tireless efforts on behalf of justice and basic sanity north of the border. Elle a besoin d’être consolée.]



Child killed by dog in Ontario, Canada

Other BSL posts

October 20, 2008

Dear Florida: send these pups to me

Photo by Bob Self for the Florida Times-Union.

If only. As it happens, my hands are rather full at the moment with an ailing old pit bull, mom's little lamb, small enough to hold in one hand when I got him way back when and good lord how this dog has always loved food. He has never not wanted to eat. Right now I would give a toe to see him perk up at the thought of dinner. [Chicken, yum! Sure you don't want a lick...?]

So yeah, it kills me that of the 114 dogs confiscated from some ass clown in Jacksonville, 90 are dead and gone: put to sleep at the pound. I hope those pups find good homes. Oh, my little man, I remember when you were that size.

October 7, 2008

White Winter Hymnal

Where God made his nest

Whenever I used to drive to a friend's place in eastern San Diego County I'd pass a freeway off-ramp to a place called Tierra Santa, and I'd start singing:

La Huasteca es tierra santa
La Huasteca es tierra santa
Donde Dios formó su nido
Donde Dios formó su nido...

The Huasteca is sacred ground, where God made his nest — where the thrushes sing their long notes that everyone loves —

For people who like wild birds and animals and books and travel and history and other fascinating essentials, natural history museums are the coolest places. They are especially great if you volunteer or know someone who works behind the scenes, because then you can look at the collections that aren't on exhibit.

Egg and Nest, by Rosamond Purcell, Linnea S. Hall and René Corado sounds like a behind-the-scenes, bird- and museum lover's dream book. Purcell took photographs of birds, nests and eggs at the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology in Camarillo, a natural history collection specializing in the eggs and nests of birds from around the world, and naturalist Bernd Heinrich, Linnea Hall, the director of the foundation, and René Corado, its collections manager, supplied the text.

From a NY Times review of Egg and Nest and other bird-related books:
If you are wondering why anyone would spend a life in a pursuit as eccentric as collecting eggs and nests, Ms. Purcell’s work will tell you. She selected a range of specimens, eggs brightly colored and plain, and nests made conventionally of twigs or of materials as bizarre as nails. Then she photographed them in natural light.

Her luminous results explain without words why people have been collecting eggs and nests for centuries.
Small photo: nest of a Bell’s Vireo. Above: nest of a Costa's hummingbird, on a cactus. [Both photos by Rosamond Purcell, from Egg and Nest.]


The most excellent Birdchick and Diane of Ark Animal Answers remind us that there isn't much time left to comment on the evisceration by bulldozer of the Endangered Species Act. You have until October 14 to submit comments by phone, snail mail or hand delivery. The Sierra Club will do the heavy lifting for you if you submit a comment through their site.

You can try leaving comments here as well, by following the links.

October 5, 2008

Best Radio Ad of the Campaign

This made my eyes puddle up:

Amazing Grace:

Jacob's Vision:

[Ralph's the banjo player in that last vid. Dr. Ralph Stanley is God a member of the original pantheon of great bluegrass musicians [and did I mention that I once got a hug from Mr. Bill Monroe?]. Ralph Stanley: national treasure.]

Art for October

My favorite month: crisp air, harvest time, fall color, the nights before the Days of the Dead. The oil painting above is by Heiko Müller:

My art comes from an urge to explore. I like the countryside. I like a good view. And once I’m face to face with a lovely scenery, I feel immediately tempted to find out what it’s concealing. The dark goings-on behind the façade of nature, you might say, or the hidden machinations of the animal kingdom.

To imagine and express this, I usually tap the lines linking religious icon art, renaissance painting and comic culture. I am particularly thrilled by the kind of spiritual terror you find expressed in the paintings of the old Flemish masters, and I’m trying to find out what happens when you apply that mood to the serene and harmless world of rural folk art.
You've been warned. Link. [He's also on Flickr.]

The indie comic book 5 by Becky Cloonan, Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon, Rafael Grampá and Vasilis Lolos won a prestigious Will Eisner Award this year in the Best Anthology category. [The Eisners are the Oscars of the comic book industry, but of course you knew that.] The graphic below is the cover of 5. Click for big, and click here for even bigger.

Finally, the rabbit hole of linkage led me to Adam Swinbourne's print of an extraterrestrial Boston Terrier:

I love Martian Dog, and more to the point, I can afford him. This print costs less than a bale of hay [weeps]. I shall order now, while PayPal still accepts U.S. dollars.

After the flood

Photos and related article at the NY Times.


by Linda Bierds

Safe, we thought.
The floodwaters nestled
the arc of their udders, but no higher --
dewlaps, flanks, even the tips of the briskets,
dry. All day they stood
in the seascape meadow,
their square heads turned from the wind.
By evening they were dead.
Chill, we learned, not drowning,
killed them -- the milk vein
thick on the floor of the chest
filling with cold, stunning the heart.
We had entered the house, where silt water
sketched on the walls and doorways
a single age ring. When we looked back,
they had fallen, only the crests of their bodies
breaking the waterline. I remember
the wind and a passive light.
Then the jabber of black grackles
riding each shoulder's upturned blade.

[H/T Andrew Sullivan.]

October 4, 2008

Science News: 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Winners Announced

Not for nothing have the Ig Nobel awards been called — by Nature, no less — "arguably the highlight of the scientific calendar." A selection of this year's winners:
NUTRITION PRIZE. Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is.
REFERENCE: "The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips," Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence, Journal of Sensory Studies, vol. 19, October 2004, pp. 347-63.

PEACE PRIZE. The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (ECNH) and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.
REFERENCE: "The Dignity of Living Beings With Regard to Plants. Moral Consideration of Plants for Their Own Sake"

ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE. Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino of Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, for measuring how the course of history, or at least the contents of an archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.
REFERENCE: "The Role of Armadillos in the Movement of Archaeological Materials: An Experimental Approach," Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino, Geoarchaeology, vol. 18, no. 4, April 2003, pp. 433-60.

BIOLOGY PRIZE. Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.
REFERENCE: "A Comparison of Jump Performances of the Dog Flea, Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis, 1826) and the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis felis (Bouche, 1835)," M.C. Cadiergues, C. Joubert, and M. Franc, Veterinary Parasitology, vol. 92, no. 3, October 1, 2000, pp. 239-41.

MEDICINE PRIZE. Dan Ariely of Duke University, USA, for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine.
REFERENCE: "Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy," Rebecca L. Waber; Baba Shiv; Ziv Carmon; Dan Ariely, Journal of the American Medical Association, March 5, 2008; 299: 1016-1017.
Click here for the complete report on the 2008 Ig Nobel Awards, brought to you by the Einsteins at Improbable Research. [H/T: Ars Technica.]

October 1, 2008


At left, a screen grab from WSFA News, Montgomery, Alabama. According to the news report, four people were arrested after deputies "uncovered what they believe is a dog fighting ring" and found dogs kept in deplorable conditions.

Bad Rap blog posted news of the raid last week: 27 pit bulls confiscated from [what may or may not have been] a dogfighting operation. The dogs were caged or chained up without any sign of food or water. Nice dogs. Tails wagging so hard the camera only captures a blur. I'd take 'em all if I could. From Bad Rap:
It was reported that Montgomery Humane Society will be evaluating the animals and making them available for adoption. That news seems a little premature since of course the dog owners have a right to due process, however interested readers might want to send donations to MHS for the extra burden of housing and placing the dogs, along with a hardy 'thank you' for taking them in.

There's a slide show here. In the video below, the news story begins about 40 seconds in.

From the Bad Rap blog: "[T]he compassion shown by the authorities is encouraging, and we have to hope, a sign of a new trend in animal law investigations."