June 25, 2010

I like her

Brenda Barnette, the new GM of Los Angeles Animal Services, meets the press with a big ol' love bug/lap dog of a pit bull.

Hate! Hysterics! Hyperbole!

And firebombs! Welcome to Los Angeles, Brenda Barnette, and have fun dealing with some of the most vindictive, sanctimonious, self-absorbed "animal lovers" in North America.

Brenda leaves the Seattle Humane Society with a remarkable record of success. Under her leadership, in 2009 the Seattle Humane Society had the best year in its 113-year history with the placement of 6,091 animals and a Live Save Rate of 91.4 percent. Much of this success was due to a robust Foster Care Program that allowed more than 4,300 animals to benefit from home care while they waited for homes of their own. [Source.]

What's not to like, right? But wait! News of Barnette's ties to the [oh noes!] American Kennel Club
caused a collective gasp by the small group of invitation-only spay/neuter advocates present, most of whom were longtime animal devotees who celebrated with Lakers-style cheers and tears in 2008 when Councilman Richard Alarcon spearheaded, and the City Council passed, what is termed the toughest spay/neuter ordinance in the country.

For all the good that's done. [And just for the record, "the ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence demonstrating a statistically significant enhancement in the reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law."]

An anonymous commenter frets over Barnette and her ilk:
"Note what [a group in favor of No-Kill in Seattle] proposes [...] 'county should open up the county code and reevaluate the regulations related to licensing, pet limits, and special permits...so that the county can ensure that none of its existing regulations are inhibiting the development of a model, No Kill program.’

"Do you know what that means? Take AWAY animal control laws, like breeder licensing, pet limit laws (that prevent hoarding situations). Watch the puppy mill breeders, dog fighters, and hoarders escalate with NO LAWS to deal with them."
Because the state of Washington has no animal cruelty laws! And dogfighting is legal there, apparently. Los Angeles is doomed! I'm trying to imagine how much these critics must hate someone like Bill Bruce of Calgary Animal Sevices.

The last two blockquotes above are from this article. [By this familiar voice.]

I wish Barnette the best, and I'm glad she got the job. Most people in SoCal have the sense to know that hate and hysterics don't help shelter animals find homes. Why not try good leadership and smart policies for a change? The Bill Bruce model has done wonders in Calgary — let's see how a similar approach works at Los Angeles Animal Services.

Related [and rated R for language]: Can't post the title on this here PG-rated blog, but Judy Mancuso's husband biggest fan weighs in. Yeah, that helps animals.

June 23, 2010

Arc kicks, karate chops, and thirty cops

Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith do the bonding and the kung fu fighting this summer in The Karate Kid, from Columbia Pictures.

Last week Dwayne Betts was filling in for my fave author/blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates over at The Atlantic, and shared this poem for Father's Day:

by John Murillo
Los Angeles, California, 1976

For me, the movie starts with a black man
Leaping into an orbit of badges, tiny moons

Catching the sheen of his perfect black afro.
Arc kicks, karate chops, and thirty cops

On their backs. It starts with the swagger,
The cool lean into the leather front seat

Of the black and white he takes off in.
Deep hallelujahs of moviegoers drown

Out the wah wah guitar. Salt & butter
High-fives, Right on, brother! and Daddy

Glowing so bright he can light the screen
All by himself. This is how it goes down.

Friday night and my father drives us
Home from the late show, two heroes

Cadillacking across King Boulevard.
In the cars dark cab, we jab and clutch,

Jim Kelly and Bruce Lee with popcorn
Breath, and almost miss the lights flashing

In the cracked side mirror. I know whats
Under the seat, but when the uniforms

Approach from the rear quarter panel,
When the fat one leans so far into my father's

Window I can smell his long day's work,
When my father this John Henry of a man,

Hides his hammer, doesn't buck, tucks away
His baritone, license and registration shaking as if

Showing a bathroom pass to a grade school
Principal, I learn the difference between cinema

And city, between the moviehouse cheers
Of old men and the silence that gets us home.

Commenter Michael offers a link to the scene.

And the most excellent Nag posts a rather impressive screen test. Yowza. Just... wow.

The police definition of "pit bull" often seems to be "any dog we shot."

And don't forget [as if we could] the Merritt Clifton corollary: "A 'pit bull' is any dog the newspaper says is a pit bull."

Title of this post was swiped from the most excellent and essential Radley Balko, whose latest commentary on the epidemic of cops shooting dogs can be found here. Excerpt:
Last July I wrote a piece for The Daily Beast on the continuing cops-shooting-dogs problem. While it's difficult to say just how often this happens (police departments tend to be less than forthcoming with the data), it's often enough to produce a regular stream of news stories. What I did discover while reporting that piece is that very few police departments provide training for their officers on how to deal with dogs, something I found astonishing given how often your typical cop is likely to come into contact with one. By contrast, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman told me all of their employees get annual training on interaction with dogs. Probably not coincidentally, he also said serious dog attacks on postal workers are vanishingly rare. The other problem is that there's rarely any accountability for these shootings. If a police officer says he felt threatened by the dog, that's usually enough to justify the shoot, even if the dog was a miniature Dachshund, or a Jack Russell Terrier.

Read the whole thing, and be sure to follow Radley's link to a terrific post at Popehat, where Patrick notes that "[i]n police reports, it appears that there are only two breeds of dogs, pit bulls and rottweilers":
I’ll bet that in some bureaucratic Newspeak seminar for police department internal affairs or public relations personnel, officers are taught, always, to characterize dogs shot by the police as “pit bulls,” “rottweilers,” or if they can’t jam it into one of those categories, “German shepherds.”

It's a good thing to see police thuggery and media fear-mongering addressed by respected, dare I say mainstream, journalists and bloggers. And huge props to the commenter at Popehat who says what every pit bull owner knows:
People associate [pit bulls] with black and latino people. The racist undertones of the ban in Denver (where I have lived) are not really undertones at all, but pretty openly racially motivated by the advocates of the ban when they discuss it.

Another essential Balko post: More Militarized Than the Military. Gotta love that War on [some] Drugs.


"Susie's Law" signed by NC governor

Susie greets a supportive legislator. Photo by Jerry Wolford for the Greensboro News & Record.

Contributor keithan81 over at Pam's House Blend tells it:

Susie isn't a person. She's a pit bull mix who bears the scars of torture. In August, 2009, Susie, just a puppy, was found by passers-by in a Greensboro park, badly beatened with her jaw and teeth broken, and with second and third degree burns on over 60% of her body. Maggots infested her wounds; maggots that had been there for two weeks.

What on earth would cause a human to do this to Susie? Apparently, her attacker went crazy after she licked the face of his newborn baby. He beat her, then sprayed her with lighter fluid before setting her on fire. His mother turned him in; he accepted a guilty plea and was sentenced under the state's burning of property law. He will be in prison for 6-8 months. Yep, months. He would have gotten the same punishment for setting a couch on fire and more for setting a mailbox on fire.

Susie's Law changes all of that. Starting December 1, in North Carolina, the malicious abuse of animals will be deemed a Class H felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison, even for first-time offenders.

H/T to the Blend, where proprietor and pit bull owner Pam Spaulding advocates tirelessly for pits and pit mixes.


[Here in SoCal, some legislators actually support mandatory mutilation... er, spay/neuter for anything that looks like a pit bull, no matter how responsible the owner or how blameless the dog, but that's another story.]

Susie's Law Signed After Months In The Making
Susie’s Law passes

June 10, 2010

Cute sheltie + small, cheerful human = classic zoomies vid

What a sweet dog. Sheltie must be thinking, "This has gotta be the slowest carbon-based organism I have ever tried to play with in. my. life."

June 6, 2010

June 6th 1806

"[T]he red has the appearance of being laid over a ground of yellow": Western Tanager by Phae on Flickr.

In what is now Lewis County, Idaho:
This morning Frazier returned having been in quest of some roots and bread which had left at the lodg of the Twisted hair when on his way to the fishery on Lewis's river. the Twisted hair came with him but I was unable to converse with him for the want of an interpreter, Drewyer being absent with Capt. C. This Cheif left me in the evening and returned to his village. Capt C. Visited the Broken Arm today agreeably to his promise; he took with him Drewyer and several others. they were received in a friendly manner. The Broken Arm informed Capt C. that the nation would not pass the mountain untill the latter end of the summer, and that with rispect to the young men whom we had requested should accompany us to the falls of the Missouri, were not yet scelected for that purpose nor could they be so untill there was a meeting of the nation in counsil. that this would happen in the course of ten or twelve days as the whole of the lodges were about to remove to the head of the Commeâp Creek in the plain near Lewis's river, that when they had assembled themselves they would hold a council and scelect the young men. that if we set out previously to that period the men would follow us. we therefore do not calculate on any assistance from them as guides, but depend more upon engageing some of the Ootlashshoots in the neighborhood of Travellers rest C. for that purpose. The broken arm gave Capt. C. a few dryed Quawmas roots as a great present, but in our estimation those of cows are much better, I am confident they are much more healthy. The men who were with Capt. C. obtained a good store of roots and bread in exchange for a number of little notions, using the Yanke phrase, with which their own enginuity had principally furnished them. on examination we find that our whole party have an ample store of bread and roots for our voyage, a circumstance not unpleasing. They retuned at 5 P. M. shortly after which we were visited by Hohâstillpilp the two young Cheifs who gave us the horses in behalf of the nation some time since and several others, who remained all night. The Kooskooske is about 150 Yds. wide at this place and discharges a vast body of water; notwithstanding it high state the water remains nearly transparent, and it's temperature appeas to be quite as cold as that of our best springs.

Western Tanager by The.Rain.Man on Flickr.

we meet with a beautifull little bird in this neighbourhood about the size and somewhat the shape of the large sparrow. it is reather longer in proportion to it's bulk than the sparrow. it measures 7 inches from the extremity of the beek to that of the tail, the latter occupying 2½ inches. the beak is reather more than half an inch in length, and is formed much like the virginia nitingale; it is thick and large for a bird of it's size; wide at the base, both chaps convex, and pointed, the uper exceeds the under chap a little is somewhat curved and of a brown colour; the lower chap of a greenish yellow. the eye full reather large and of a black colour both puple and iris. the plumage is remarkably delicate; that of the neck and head is of a fine orrange yellow and red, the latter predominates on the top of the head and arround the base of the beak from whence it graduly deminishes & towards the lower part of the neck, the orrange yellow prevails most; the red has the appearance of being laid over a ground of yellow. the breast, the sides, rump and some long feathers which lie between the legs and extend underneath the tail are of a fine orrange yellow. the tail, back and wings are black, ecept a small stripe of yellow on the outer part of the middle joint of the wing, ¼ of an inch wide and an inch in length. the tail is composed of twelve feathers of which those in the center are reather shortest, and the plumage of all the feathers of the tail is longest on that side of the quill next the center of the tail. the legs and feet are black, nails long and sharp; it has four toes on each foot, of which three are forward and one behind; that behind is as long as the two outer of the three toes in front.

Observed equal altitudes of the sun with Sextant.

The first description for science of my heart bird, the Western Tanager, written by Captain Meriwether Lewis. You can read the journals of his expedition here.

H/T: Idaho Birding Blog.

June 1, 2010

Why are bear cubs so adorable?

Dunno. They just are. I wuv them.

Now that the snow is melting, wildlife is popping up all over the SoCal nightly news reports: bears, mountain lions [see links below] and what-do-you-mean-this-isn't-New-Mexico far-ranging birds. [Shout-out to fellow birder S-, who photographed a Greater Pewee — is that an oxymoron? — up at Arrastre Creek today in the San Bernardinos. Since 1900 only a dozen or so of these Central American flycatchers have been spotted in California, according to the latest eBird stats. Darn day job... I'll get you anyway, Pewee!]

Topic. Bear cub adorableness:

Local mountain lion link fest:
"Just feet from my front door"
This just in: Wild animals live here
Woman survives mountain lion scare
Staring down nature's nose

Jonah 2010

Found this at Aquafornia, where you can watch the wide-screen version and be even more depressed impressed.