June 30, 2009

My fool-proof, dog-proof setup for collars and tags

Pit bull: "Mwuahahahaha!" Angel: "Fear not, tiny camouflage-patterned Quiet Spot tag bag! Whoa, pit bull — am I seeing things, or is that Michael Jackson over there?" [pit bull runs off] Angel [whispers over shoulder]: "Hey, MJ, seen the Nicholas brothers yet? Dance jam tonight? Awesome!"

The heartbreak [and dollar suck] of dog-tag loss was suffered recently by Pet Connection's Phyllis DeGioia and her good boy Dodger. Only the tags were lost — not the dog, thank heavens. Read about it here.

I love the Quiet Spot tag silencers and thought I'd share my tag 'n' collar setup. It's fool-proof, if I do say so myself: if I can manage to keep tags safe with this method, trust me, it's fool-proof.

What I use:

  • Steel key rings, available at any hardware place, sizes 1" or so to whatever. These are cheap, so I always have several rings of different sizes.
  • Quiet Spot tag silencer[s]. They do exactly what they're supposed to do, which is end tag noise, and they are as tough as nails. My dogs have worn them in the ocean, in the mountains, crashing through brush while working livestock, etc. and we've never killed a tag bag yet. My local pet supply place carries them, and you can order them online.
  • Boomerang CollarTags. I keep two of them on each dog's collar. I'm a huge fan of CollarTags: they've been in the sidebar since I started this blog, and on my dogs' collars since before that. They really are the best dog ID tags you can buy, and no, I'm not paid to say that. One CollarTag has: DOG'S NAME/my cell #/my home #/MICROCHIPPED/CITY, STATE. The second CollarTag has: REWARD/LOOSE = LOST/alternate phone number[s]/MICROCHIPPED. Did I mention all my dogs are microchipped?
  • Collar. For my dogs, I like the sturdy nylon collars with steel buckles. I've seen those plastic quick-release thingies fail under pressure. Nothing like watching an untrained dog break his collar at the sight of sheep, yikes.

OK, on to the setup.

The little photo at top left shows how the tags go on the key ring. Yes, that's a St. Francis medallion. I am not terribly religious; however, I am deeply superstitious. Also: city tag, microchip tag, rabies tag, etc.

Once you have the tags on the key ring, put the Quiet Spot bag over the tags and fasten the three little arms OVER the key ring, like so:

Back view, with blurry Smoky nose... and front view, below, with himself. OMG, he is so adorable :~))) The scratch on his nose is from crashing through some rose bushes in the backyard saving everyone from a giant tiger that ekscaped from the zoo.

Once the tags are on the key ring and the Quiet Spot is 1) holding the tags and 2) fastened to the key ring itself, just thread the collar through the key ring as seen in the photo at the top of the post, and you're good to go.

In the unlikely event that the Quiet Spot bag works its way loose, the tags will still be fastened to the key ring, which will still be fastened to the collar.

But wait! Isn't the key ring likely to slide right off the collar whenever the collar's unbuckled?

You bet, especially if you happen to be as absent-minded as I am.

CollarTags to the rescue! Since you'll be using them anyway, let the CollarTags keep the ring in place. First, make sure the key ring isn't large enough to slide over the CollarTag. Then put one CollarTag on the collar, then the key ring + Quiet Spot, then the second CollarTag, like so:

I guarantee that tag bag will stay put.

"Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!! Beat it! Just beat it!!"

I also love fancy custom collars. Check out these sites:
Paco Collars
Blocky Dogs

Old school: The Nicholas Brothers [and Fats]

Not that it needs anyone's validation, but someone by the name of Fred Astaire said this was the greatest dance number ever filmed. Ladies and gentlemen, the Nicholas Brothers, in a clip from Stormy Weather:

And here they are as kids:

Don't even get me started on the contributions of black American artists and performers to this nation and the world. A great, immeasurable legacy, and before I get all maudlin, here's Fats doing his That Ain't Right with Ada Brown. [And yes, the waiter is Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.] Keep your foot from tapping, I dare you:

June 28, 2009

Weekend ephemera

The pink hearts and the orange hearts are the same color. Seriously: the exact same color. Optical illusion by Akiyoshi Kitaoka - see the uncropped version and more color illusions here. [Click for bigger.]

The optical illusion above is from Akiyoshi Kitaoka’s awesome website, via COULORlovers. I embiggened the image on my own 'puter with GIMP to help wrap my brain around the whole thing - very cool.


This is a nice kitchen, but what I love are these latches:

The cupboards up at the cabin have old latches like these, and they are the main reason nothing fell and broke during the 6.4 shaker of '92. [OK, the earthquake retrofit also helped.] "Chimney Falls," the valley was nicknamed in the papers after that little episode.


Hot Water: Take That Final Gas Notice! What a shame I didn't see this last month, before I spent the big bucks on a new water heater:

Just one example of money-saving ingenuity from There, I Fixed It. H/T: Make Online.


Found poetry: check out this paragraph from a NY Times article on TMZ's biggest scoop.
For more than an hour, TMZ was essentially the only outlet claiming that Mr. Jackson was dead. Television and newspaper journalists read the TMZ report but largely held off on repeating it, for fear of making a mistake. Still, the bulletin traversed the Web with remarkable speed, creating a stark divide: on the Internet Mr. Jackson was dead, and on TV he was still alive.
And as it should have been published:
Still, the bulletin traversed the Web
With remarkable speed, creating a stark divide:
On the Internet Mr. Jackson was dead,
And on TV he was still alive.
A golf clap for Brian Stelter, poet/journalist.


Note found in an empty classroom:
Am I ugly

I answered that question already on myspace

I don't remember what you said

Well I said that you were alright.

I am.
Kids these days ;~)

June 25, 2009

Paging the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks

"Click" for "bigger."

He was an extraordinarily talented [and, yeah, big box o' crazy] American original. 50 is way, way too young. [62 is way too young.] Media circus in 3... 2...
Television news images showed large crowds gathering outside the UCLA Medical Center. “People are already showing up in costume, believe it or not,” said a Fox News correspondent, Trace Gallagher, comparing it to the circus he witnessed during a trial involving Mr. Jackson. [Source]

And apologies to the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. No, I didn't send it to 'em.

June 23, 2009

File under: When can I move in?

Methow Valley Cabin by Lawrence Architecture.

I already have a favorite cabin, but ye gods this one is wonderful. Credit to Lawrence Architecture for the great design: not too big or too fancy — built to shed snow — and that setting? So beautiful. The cabin seems as much a part of the valley as the sagebrush and the pines. More photos here.

Found this at the terrific design site Materialicious. Honestly, just look at those cabins...

Ikea chicken-coop hack

A masterpiece of Swedish design. Photo from ikea hacker.

All the cool kids these days are busy with their chickens and their bee hives, and here I am without so much as a barn cat or a bird feeder. Wait, I have sheep! But they're down at the farm, and I need something here, dammit.

In the meantime, up above is a cool Ikea chicken-coop hack from, well duh, ikea hacker via the Ethicurean via Urban Chickens. I could do this.

And if not — on to Plan B:

How cool would this look with a little paint? From Street Use via Make.

Poultry posts from Raised by Wolves
Chicken posts from Smartdogs' Weblog [Fort Peepage...LOLOL]
Spring chicken raisin' - one of many chicken posts by Gina at Pet Connection
Chicken posts from Team Chicken at Sunset Magazine's One-Block Diet
Bee posts from Birdchick

They don't call it the Athens of East Central Missouri for nothing

Honest to God, Aldermen of Troy, just pretend you have enough neurons to make a synapse and admit you don't know what you're talking about.
In an unanimous vote Monday evening, the Troy Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance prohibiting the ownership of pit bulls within the City of Troy. This followed several complaints of these dogs running loose and a fatal attack on a pet dog by two pit bulls.

In the ordinance, the board of aldermen 'finds that pit bull dogs are dangerous and potentially hazardous to the community because the breed possesses characteristics of aggression, strength, gameness, viciousness, predaceousness, unpredictability and savageness not possessed by other breeds of dog.'

The ordinance further defines the "pit bull dog" the Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier breed and any mixed breed of dog which contains an element of these breeds.
"Contains an element"? Based on what? DNA? Pedigree? A brindle coat? The One Drop Rule for dogs? Paging Dr. Science!

Read the whole big bag o' stupidity here.

Related: Almost too absurd to be true

June 22, 2009

The blog colors, they pop. Also: goat cheese is delicious

The blog background is now hex #191B1C, a cool dark gray that I love a lot. Was seriously tempted by FruJu. Check it out [click for bigger]:

But it felt too hot for a SoCal summer. Oy, COULORlovers can be such a timesink. And speaking of color, here is a [free!] tool that totally, absolutely rocks: ColorPic.

June 10 was Goatsday over at the Atlantic's Food Channel:
Why We Raise Goats, by Bill Niman and Nicolette Hahn Niman
The Growing Demand for Goat Meat
A New Use for Goat Cheese

And a shout out to the most excellent cheese artisans of the California Artisan Cheese Guild! I love you guys and gals.

Fun goat fact #1: goats were first domesticated almost 10,000 years ago, in Persia.
Fun goat fact #2: there are only three documented goat towers in the entire world. This one is in South Africa:

Photo by Peter Borcherds on Flickr.

Best idea ever

Heaven on earth: the Santa Rosa Plateau, much as it looked 200 years ago. Before the Gold Rush, a Spaniard wrote that it was possible to ride from one end of the San Fernando Valley to the other and never be out from under the shade of a giant oak. [Click for big.]

In the top ten of best ideas ever, at any rate: bulldoze sprawl, return suburban blight to nature. MacArthur Genius Grant for Maria Streshinsky, please!

How’s about a stimulus-started plan to buy up the nation’s foreclosed and empty McMansions and hire out-of-work construction workers to deconstruct them? It’s an idea that could keep giving and giving. Aside from the obvious benefits of employment as the deconstruction took place, de-developers could offset costs by selling used housing materials (recycle!) or donating us able building materials to low-income- housing renovation projects (help the poor!).

De-developers could then restore the housing lot to the area’s original native-growth environment (employ out- of- work landscapers, help the native critters!), have it designated as a conservation easement, and donate it to, say, the Nature Conservancy. Or perhaps the local community could take the lot over for the construction of playgrounds or the planting of victory gardens.
Sounds absolutely perfect to me.

US Government May Bulldoze 50 Cities; Create More Green Space
US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive
Bulldozing America’s Shrinking Cities

"Family, friends mourn Neda Agha-Soltan"

From L.A. Times reporter Borzou Daragahi in Tehran:

Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, was shot dead Saturday evening near the scene of clashes between pro-government militias and demonstrators who allege rampant vote-count fraud in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The jittery cellphone video footage of her bleeding on the street has turned "Neda" into an international symbol of the protest movement that ignited in the aftermath of the June 12 voting. To those who knew and loved Neda, she was far more than an icon. She was a daughter, sister and friend, a music and travel lover, a beautiful young woman in the prime of her life.

"She was a person full of joy," said her music teacher and close friend Hamid Panahi, who was among the mourners at her family home on Sunday, awaiting word of her burial. "She was a beam of light. I'm so sorry. I was so hopeful for this woman."

Security forces urged Neda's friends and family not to hold memorial services for her at a mosque and asked them not to speak publicly about her, associates of the family said. Authorities even asked the family to take down the black mourning banners in front of their house, aware of the potent symbol she has become.

But some insisted on speaking out anyway, hoping to make sure the world would not forget her.
Read the complete article here.

June 20, 2009

What is this place, what country, what region of the world?

Iran, June 20, 2009.


T.S. Eliot

Quis hic locus, quae regio, quae mundi plaga?

What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands
What water lapping the bow
And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog
What images return
O my daughter.

Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning
Those who glitter with the glory of the hummingbird, meaning
Those who sit in the sty of contentment, meaning
Those who suffer the ecstasy of the animals, meaning

Are become insubstantial, reduced by a wind,
A breath of pine, and the woodsong fog
By this grace dissolved in place

What is this face, less clear and clearer
The pulse in the arm, less strong and stronger—
Given or lent? more distant than stars and nearer than the eye
Whispers and small laughter between leaves and hurrying feet
Under sleep, where all the waters meet.

Bowsprit cracked with ice and paint cracked with heat.
I made this, I have forgotten
And remember.
The rigging weak and the canvas rotten
Between one June and another September.
Made this unknowing, half conscious, unknown, my own.
The garboard strake leaks, the seams need caulking.
This form, this face, this life
Living to live in a world of time beyond me; let me
Resign my life for this life, my speech for that unspoken,
The awakened, lips parted, the hope, the new ships.

What seas what shores what granite islands towards my timbers
And woodthrush calling through the fog
My daughter.

YouTube: "Basij shots to death a young woman in Tehran's Saturday June 20th protests"
[Alternate site: here, at the entry logged at 2:37.]

She was standing next to her father when she was shot. The video, needless to say, is graphic.

"Please let the world know."

June 19, 2009

On freedom of speech

From William Jelani Cobb's blog americanexception.com:
In 1989 the Iranian regime put a contract on Salman Rushdie's head because he wrote a book. In 2009 millions of Iranians took to the streets with freedom of speech as a prominent demand. Progress, perhaps.

Two years after Ayotollah Khomeini of Iran declared a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses the author made a surprise appearance at Columbia University at a forum on the First Amendment.

Maybe he was ahead of the curve.

"Free speech is a non-starter," says one of my Islamic extremist opponents. No, sir, it is not. Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.

Jelani Cobb then quotes from the speech Rushdie delivered at Columbia back in 1991, wise, brave stuff, and with a big hat tip to americanexception.com I'll quote a bit more. Salman Rushdie at Columbia:
"Our lives teach us who we are." I have learned the hard way that when you permit anyone else's description of reality to supplant your own -- and such descriptions have been raining down on me, from security advisers, governments, journalists, Archbishops, friends, enemies, mullahs -- then you might as well be dead. Obviously, a rigid, blinkered, absolutist world view is the easiest to keep hold of, whereas the fluid, uncertain, metamorphic picture I've always carried about is rather more vulnerable. Yet I must cling with all my might to . . . my own soul; must hold on to its mischievous, iconoclastic, out-of-step clown-instincts, no matter how great the storm. And if that plunges me into contradiction and paradox, so be it; I've lived in that messy ocean all my life. I've fished in it for my art. This turbulent sea was the sea outside my bedroom window in Bombay. It is the sea by which I was born, and which I carry within me wherever I go.

"Free speech is a non-starter," says one of my Islamic extremist opponents. No, sir, it is not. Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.

BBC enlisting new satellites to broadcast in Iran

How to set up a proxy for Iran citizens

From NIAC:
If anyone is on Twitter, set your location to Tehran and your time zone to GMT +3.30. Iranian Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut Iranians’ access to the internet down! We must help them! Cut & paste & pass it on! Go Humans!!!
And this, from the Guardian via NIAC:
Previously, he [Mousavi] was revolutionary, because everyone inside the system was a revolutionary. But now he’s a reformer. Now he knows Gandhi – before he knew only Che Guevara. If we gain power through aggression we would have to keep it through aggression. That is why we’re having a green revolution, defined by peace and democracy.
The leader of the free world [and that phrase takes on special resonance in times like these] said today that we must bear witness to the "incredible demonstrations in Iran," the "hundreds of thousands of people who believe their voices were not heard and who are peacefully protesting and seeking justice." President Obama recalled the words of another American leader, who said:
When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

Paging Edward Hopper

"Hawk. On my lunch." Photo by d.billy at Flickr.

Hawk flies into a bar chicken joint in the East Village. Waiter says, "What is this, some kind of a joke?"

And only in New York would this happen at a place called...

[Full story here: Excuse Me, Waiter…? There’s a Large Bird of Prey in My Soup.] H/T: who else but birdchick, who ID'ed the critter as an immature Cooper’s hawk.

Coolest poop bags ever

How could I have forgotten?! In addition to brilliant chalkboard shenanigans [those fonts!], Nate Williams created the design for these 100% biodegradable poop bags for Olive. Two sizes: Unisex and Super Poop. Did I mention these bags are 100% biodegradable?

From the Olive site [where there are lots and lots of desirable items for pets]:
It seems strange that conscientious dog owners pick up their dog's poo (which is 100% biodegradable)...only to pop it into a plastic bag that will be with us for 100's of years.
Olive poop bags are made naturally from GMO-free corn starch and vegetable oil, are certified 100% biodegradable and compost in as little as 40 days. Poop and parcel can be buried for micro-organisms to consume or combined with yard waste for curbside collection in communities that compost biodegradable waste.
Biodegradable bags, a terrific collector's-item canister — what's not to love? OK, corn starch. Which comes from [cough*dead zone*cough] corn. My advice: assuage your guilt with a made-in-California, organic, recycled, totally adorable poop-bag carrier. I am so giving up Starbucks for a couple weeks to buy these goodies.

June 16, 2009

Fermat's Lost Theorem

All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten physics.

The most awesome and excellent Nate Williams created this hand-drawn chalkboard for Digits, a non-profit middle school program spearheaded by STEMTech.

OMG, I so want a poster of this.

H/T: magnet reps, whose artists are terrific.

June 15, 2009

"The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave"

Andrew wrote yesterday:
In situations like these, peer-to-peer media is essential. Send all you've got to me. We'll do our best to assess, edit, and post. There is no neutrality in this. Every blogger is now an honorary member of the resistance. We are at war too - for peace and democracy.
Which seems very dramatic — except that today his site may be under some sort of digital attack and yesterday this site, this little dog-and-whatnot site, was getting hits from Iran.

So the world really is watching. It's nightfall now in Tehran, and there are reports of gunfire, but the crowds earlier today, marching for democracy — just incredible.

The title of this post is from a familiar speech, and it was no trouble to cut and paste the last two paragraphs into this post here in the peace and quiet of my California home. Yes, I'm very lucky. Would I be brave enough to join the protesters, if I were in Iran? I hope so. I don't know.

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable - and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace - but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

I will never laugh at Twitter again

Not for a while, anyway. On the left, you see what happens — that and worse — when an entrenched regime feels threatened. Peep this:

Meanwhile, over here:
Today, as global geopolitics is shaken to its core by events in Iran, I turned on cable news this morning, and saw endless ads for a Larry King Jonas Brothers “interview”, Morning Joe yukking it up discussing Kuwaiti massage therapists, a video of a tomato throwing contest on CNN, talk radio blowhard Bill Bennett…and occasionally a phone call from Christiane Amanpour in Tehran. I can’t even bring myself to turn on the network morning programs, I might vomit.
Again, huge thanks to Andrew Sullivan. His blog and Nico Pitney's HuffPo blog put the media heavyweights to shame.

Ahmadinejad's epic fail

The government's plainclothes goons head out. Click for big.

From the Guardian via Andrew Sullivan, who is doing great work covering the revolution:
Robert Tait, the Guardian's former Tehran correspondent, has been poring over leaked reports of the official results, allegedly leaked by disaffected officials.

He and our diplomatic editor Julian Borger write: "The figures have been accompanied by claims from interior ministry sources that fake statistics were fed into a software program and then distributed to vote counts among polling stations to produce a plausible outcome. The same sources have also claimed that the interior ministry's statements announcing the results were prepared before Friday night's count."

Such claims are being reported on websites that Iran is frantically trying to block, according to our blogs editor, Kevin Anderson. He explains the cat-and-mouse game between the authorities and internet users.

We can only watch and hope for peace and freedom.

June 14, 2009

I could never sneak up on a border collie like this

Smoke was busy practicing his luge position this afternoon and I was able to ease over and take a few snaps.

"Do you mind? I'm trying to concentrate here." Whatever, dude ;~)

Oh, Canada: the good, the bad and the ugly

First, the ugly. Canada's Supreme Court will not hear a bid to overturn the province of Ontario's ban on "pit bulls."

TheStar.com reports — badly:
Louise Ellis will never forget the horror and helplessness she felt when she saw her 5-year-old daughter being attacked by a pit bull.

But now she's breathing a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court yesterday said it will not hear a bid to overturn Ontario's ban on pit bulls.

"I'm so pleased with the ban," said Ellis, who still remembers the 1994 attack vividly. "The pit bull took the flesh off from underneath the eye, across her cheek and just down the nose, the bottom of the nose."

Ellis said her now 20-year-old daughter shows few signs today of the 300 stitches that repaired her face.

This just in: the number of pit bulls in Toronto has risen since the ban was implemented. Dog bans are quirky that way, which is one reason places like the Netherlands have repealed BSL.

And dog attacks still happen in Ontario. BSL doesn't stop serious dog attacks — it never has. In fact, let me tweak that news article: Korie-Lyn Edwards' grandmother will never forget the horror and helplessness she felt when she saw her 17-month old grandchild mauled to death by the family's own 10-year-old Rottweiler-German shepherd mix.

And now the Ottawa resident is furious that breed bans and the false sense of security they provide will leave other children at risk

This just in, too: there have never been any pit bull-related fatalities in the province of Ontario.

Canadian-Californian dog expert Jean Donaldson explains that breed bans are over-inclusive and under-inclusive: they target great numbers of good dogs that will never harm anyone, and they utterly fail to deal with dangerous dogs of other breeds and types. Breed bans are irrational, in other words. Unjust. Profoundly stupid. Worthless.

Dr. Karen Overall nails it: "[Laws] banning breeds will not make you safer, and the illusion that they will do so is dangerous to humans and unfair to dogs."

Oh, Canada [sigh]. You know better than this. Your citizens deserve so much better than laws demonizing and banning their good dogs.


"Enough with the bad and the ugly, already — where's the good?" you ask. "Where's the good?"

I'm happy to report that the good — City of Calgary Animal & Bylaw Services — is so good it deserves an entire post to itself. Calgary's Animal Services director Bill Bruce gave a series of seminars in California last week, and I went to the nearest one here in SoCal and was impressed to pieces. Stay tuned for more.

"Unlocking the Awesome Potential of Behavioral Disorders"

From the upbeat folks at Despair, Inc. comes this most excellent Social Media Venn Diagram t-shirt, available in sizes to fit every blogger.

H/T: evad over at COLOURlovers.

"We are fighting a war against fish - and we are winning"

Langdon Cook of the most excellent blog Fat of the Land wants everyone to check out a new film called The End of the Line, based on the book of the same name by British journalist Charles Clover.

From Langdon's post:
In one passage about the harmful effects of bottom trawling, Clover asks readers to to imagine "what people would say if a band of hunters strung a mile of net between two immense all-terrain vehicles and dragged it at speed across the plains of Africa." The result, in this apt analogy, is a "strangely bedraggled landscape resembling a harrowed field. There are no markets for about a third of the animals they have caught because they don't taste good or because they are simply too small or too squashed. This pile of corpses is dumped on the plain to be consumed by scavengers."

This is just one of the common practices that occurs on the high seas every day.

Over-fishing, habitat destruction, and pollution are taking a toll that, for many generations, was hard to quantify—because it was hard to see.
But there are no excuses now. And it isn't too late. There is still time to make things better, and we can make a difference.


Check out the fascinating beetles [that's Cyprolais hornimanni from central Africa, left] in urjsa's photosets on Flickr. H/T: COLOURlovers.

For Fosher

From Kitsune Noir, a moody were-goat by Alison Scarpulla. I was going to save it for Halloween, but there's that unfortunate impulse-control problem [sigh].

Cat mutilations: 18-year old arrested in Miami

And he's a white kid, so we'll see how virulent the "Skin him alive!" and "I hope his cellmate is a cat-lover!" internet outrage gets.

And yes, that kind of noise always freaks me out. Cruelty isn't justice. It's just cruelty.

Teen arrested in Miami-area cat mutilations

June 13, 2009

The revolution will also be blogged

Interesting times, these. Tehran, night of June 13, 2009. Photo from mousavi1388 at Flickr. More Flickr photos of the election and its aftermath here and here. [The election was held on the 22nd of Khordad 1388, according to the Persian calendar.]

The thing about the great immigrant gateway of California, especially the university towns and the high tech/geek-to-live parts of California, is that public school classrooms here are full of kids from all over the world.

This means any time you want immediate, informed comment on events elsewhere — in Iran, say, during, oh, let’s imagine a fiercely contested national election that could have a tremendous impact on life as we know it — you talk to a kid. A kid from Iran. “Did you hear anything from your cousin in Shiraz?" Pure catnip for a news junkie. Need a Farsi speaker? No problem! It just kills me that the school year ended Thursday and all my sources, er… students are on vacation.

OMG, I can’t believe I’m actually wishing the school year had been a week longer [slaps self].

On a much more serious note, my thoughts are with my students’ relatives and their compatriots. This is just unreal. Stay safe, people. Stay strong.

Looks like a former student: a voter in Iran on June 12. Photo from the Mail Online.

June 6, 2009

Actual dog experts[!] speak out against BSL

Hat tip to John Sibley for showcasing this terrific video on breed specific legislation. It should totally go viral, if you ask me.

Featured in the vid are Dr. Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson and Dr. Nicholas Dodman: experts on dog behavior and dog training, which is to say you will never hear them speak of "unpredictable" dogs that "turn on people" and must be banned. In a world where Google pundits* bring of the stupid, Dunbar, Donaldson and Dodman actually know what they're talking about.

"The biggest variable in a dog's demeanor is: how well was it socialized? How well was it trained?" [Ian Dunbar]

The video is the work of Drayton Michaels, "a 2007 graduate of the SFSPCA Academy for Dog Trainers. He has worked professionally with dogs since 2000. He owns and runs Urban Dawgs and Pit Bull Guru with his wife Vyolet, also a graduate of the Academy [source]."

*[What follows has much to do with dogs in general and BSL in particular. Seriously.] Writer and blogger Julian Sanchez took a recent look at pop philosophy and "the unhealthy illusion of knowing something":
On the one hand [...] a democracy can’t make ethics and political philosophy the exclusive province of cloistered academics. On the other hand, I look at the online public sphere and too often tend to find myself thinking: “Discourse at this level can’t possibly accomplish anything beyond giving people some simulation of justification for what they wanted to believe in the first place.” This is, needless to say, not a problem limited to philosophy. And I think it may contribute to the fragmentation and political polarization we see online, which are generally explained in sociological terms as an “echo chamber” effect or “groupthink.”

[T]here’s also the problem that the general glut of information and opinion makes it disconcertingly easy to kid yourself about how well you understand a particular topic. (My friend Michael Moynihan refers sarcastically to “Google pundits” who affect deep understanding after plucking a few talking points from a search—a sin I’m sure I’ve committed myself on occasion.) It’s something of a cliché, but the older I get, the more I find that learning more about an area where I once held a strong opinion will often mean realizing just how limited my own understanding is.
I like to imagine that the typical online breed-basher will wake up one morning, slap his forehead and exclaim, "What am I, nuts?! My entire experience with dogs consists of failing to housebreak that Labrador you hear barking nonstop in the backyard — and I'm telling Jean Donaldson and Ian frikkin' Dunbar they don't know what they're talking about...??!! Sheesh, I'm an idiot. I shall do penance by volunteering at the local animal shelter for the rest of my life."

If only ;~)

June 5, 2009

Mmmm... books

Tom Stoppard and his book satchel. Photo by Tony Cenicola for the New York Times - click for bigger.

Bookshelf is a blog devoted to "interesting bookshelves, bookcases and things that look like them."

Bookshelf, via the awesome Materialicious [an all-time fave timesink]. Approving gentleman to the left is The Art Scholar by A. Martins de Barros.

June 2, 2009

Cool Wallace vid

From Wallace's boss Roo Yori comes word of this most excellent new report on rescue pit bull and disk dog champ Wallace. Thanks for the good work, KSTP TV!

ETA: Well, the embed was working fine last night... dunno why it disappeared.

Here's a link.

June 1, 2009


BSL/BDL is money down the drain - but you knew that. Screen grab from the Best Friends BDL Calculator. [Click for big.]

Via Ken Foster, author, editor and friend to pit bulls, comes word about a neat little tool at Best Friends: the BDL [Breed Discriminatory Legislation] Fiscal Impact Counter. Here's a link to The High Costs of Breed Discriminatory Legislation, and here's the BDL Economic Impact Calculator itself. Be sure to check out the excellent article by Ledy VanKavage: All Bark and Fiscal Bite – Are Breed-Discriminatory Laws Effective? [pdf] [Do chickens have lips?]

"The stolen dog who changed American science"

LIFE photographer Stan Wayman took the photos above for a February 4, 1966 article called Concentration Camps for Dogs. The graphic images and the story of dog robbers selling pets to research labs helped bring about passage of the Animal Welfare Act in July of 1966.

On Monday Slate began a five-part series about the Animal Welfare Act and about a Dalmatian named Pepper, "the stolen dog who changed American science."
Pepper's journey in the summer of 1965 helped start a national media sensation and a broad panic over the theft of pets for biomedical research. Her death on an operating table in the Bronx would help animal welfare advocates break a long-standing stalemate in Congress and push through the most significant animal-protection bill in American history. At the same time, she became a martyr to the cardiology revolution at a crucial moment in its development. Pepper also represents a turning point in science, from an earlier age when animals for experiment would be plucked from the road or the river, to a new era of standardized, mass-produced organisms that can be shipped right to the laboratory door. In a five-part series to be published over the course of this week, Slate will explore her legacy.

"Dan Engber's part-reporting, part-storytelling, part-memoir of his own experiences testing animals (don't worry, not dogs) makes for a compelling read," sez the Daily Beast. Plenty compelling, but be warned that it's also a gut-wrenching story for anyone who loves dogs. And how depressing is it that in 2009 there are puppy mills as bad as anything Stan Wayman photographed for LIFE? Very, very depressing.

"The Great Tide"

Amazing video from the BBC:

"A mighty army of dolphins, sharks, whales, seals and gannets [they can change their whole body into these little daggers, says Birdchick] hunt down the billions of sardines along South Africa's east coast each winter. This is the sardine run: an underwater Armageddon, the greatest gathering of predators anywhere on the planet, and the most spectacular event in the world's oceans."
YouTube's embiggened HD version is double-plus ossum, and this smaller version, also with HD, ain't bad.

[HT: Birdchick]

Edited to add: OMG, watch the longer version over at Terrierman's blog. Too cool for words.