On a keyword search at Yahoo news (for “NAIS”) I found this story today seeming to offer a hint of evident opposition, if not quite hope that the whole idea would simply crumble beneath its own ridiculousness. Here’s a snippet:

“USDA, after hearing strong opposition from the industry, has abandoned its earlier decision to allow a single private entity to manage the livestock movement database in connection with the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

“But that wasn’t the only major announcement from the agency concerning NAIS:

“The agency’s NAIS coordinator, Neil Hammerchmidt, told last week’s meeting of R-CALF USA that there won’t be a mandatory ID program by 2009, as previously announced.

“And, he said, USDA attorneys are researching whether they have the legal authority to require producers to report livestock movement to a private entity.”

But after forwarding that link to a person closely following this story, I received his quick and deflating reply: “I wish it was good news, but what I hear them saying is they are going to do the database private to prevent Freedom of Information Act access . . . and that they won’t hit the 2009 deadline on mandatory but still plan it to go mandatory. Slipped deadline is all. Keep fighting the good fight.”

How did this happen to our country? Where did we fail ourselves?

Stop NAIS!

I have written here before about NAIS (National Animal Identification System), the insidious plan by the federal bureaucracy and “Big Ag” to microchip every farm (and probably every domestic) animal in the country. It seems to still be rolling on, virtually unopposed, except by some small breeders, organic farmers etc., but virtually everyone who checks into it is horrified. Now Vermont farmer- blogger Walter Jeffries, who writes from Sugar Mountain Farm, has started a new blog called “NoNAIS” dedicated to stopping it.

This is an issue you think would arouse every civil libertarian, traditional conservative, fan of Michael Pollan, and back- to- the- lander, or even the yuppies who buy at Whole Foods– where are they?


“They are snaring homesteaders by including even livestock you might keep for your own consumption. The government is implementing huge “non- compliance” fines if you don’t report your backyard flock of chickens, your summer feeder pig, your lawn mowing sheep, etc. This will take away your right to raise your own source of eggs, meat, and wool.

“They are including animals that are not in the food supply such as pets like horses, llamas, etc that are not used for consumption.

“Under the plan every animal must be identified. Any births, deaths, or movements on or off the farm will be required to be logged and reported to the government. If you take your sheep to a show you will have to track their location and submit paperwork to the government. If you go on a trail ride with your horse you will have to report that to the government. If your pig has piglets you’ll have to report that and then if some of those piglets die or you eat one you’ll have to report that.”

And now the government has a NEW plan. This AP story details how the same USDA that wants to bring you NAIS wants to import Chinese poultry. ” The Agriculture Department is seeking to allow importing of poultry processed in China, where thousands of birds and several people have died from bird flu….. The Agriculture Department proposed the rule, with no announcement, on Nov. 23. The period during which it accepted comments on the proposal ended Monday. The rule still must be finalized before it takes effect.”

You can’t make these things up… one of ther easons that the USDA gives for NAIS is to control bird flu, which is about to join “the children” and “cruelty” in the list of the top five excuses to take our liberty away. Please “read the whole thing”, cross- post, and spread the info. I haven’t even scratched the surface here..

Maybe it’s time to move to Russia?? (See below).

Update: a friend and neighbor, rancher Jim Nance, adds the following:

“We have been campaigning against this from the start.

“It is so the large packers will have no liability in any kind of food scare. It will put small producers out of business.

“The funny thing is that the same companies that want the animal IDs are fighting against Country of Origin Labeling. So they could trace an animal back to my ranch, but have no information at all on the thousands of cattle from Mexico and further south!”

Another Threat

Anne Pearse Hocker just sent a news item from New Jersey– it seems that illiterate lawmakers may inadvertently (I hope?!) ban falconry and hunting with dogs in their efforts to do away with “cruelty”:

” “This bill would clarify that cruelty to animals … includes the use of an animal to injure or kill another animal,” says an explanation accompanying the proposed legislation. It adds that Bill 666 [!!] would make clear that “the use of any other direct or indirect means to inflict the cruelty” also would be illegal.

“But Tony Celebrezze, the sportsmen’s alliance’s director of state services, wonders if the proposed law would apply to hunting with a dog. The hunter is using a dog to lead him to another animal for one purpose: to shoot that animal.”


“Then comes falconry, and the plot thickens. Here we have people using trained raptors to seek out and attack other critters, including rabbits, squirrels, woodchucks*, pheasants and quail. While politicians have yet to make it illegal for hawks to dive-bomb and snatch scurrying rodents, this bill just might make it a crime if they do it at the urging of humans.”

It is a truism that any Nanny- State legislation can be justified by appeals for the safety of “The Children”. Similarly, any legislation against human – animal interaction will be justified by appeals against “cruelty”.

Though he is not involved here, I think I am going to introduce a new and relevant mantra here, and repeat it whenever relevant: “Santorum delenda est!” There is nothing “conservative” about being an animal rights loony.

* WOODCHUCKS?? Though maybe Teddy Moritz, New Jerseyite, breeder of my dachshund Lily and dog- in- law on several levels, just might… she is one of the fiercest hunters with hound and hawk I know.

Bat Falcon

Querencia reader and frequent commentor Annie D has just been to Costa Rica, where she photographed many amazing birds, insects, and plants. One of my favorite sequences (other than some beetles I hope to get later for Pluvialis) was this group. The toucan

was one of a group trying to steal eggs from a Bat falcon, which was nesting in a hole in a tree trunk. Bat falcons are tiny– even smaller than Merlins– but true falcons, and one of the most beautiful at that. They have been tried in falconry, but all I know have been eaten by larger birds of prey when flown in the open–!!– they apparently are used to the cover of at least partial canopy forest, and need it, unlike most falcons. Will Beebe wrote of the nesting habits of a pair in one of his long- out- of print books from the Thirties that made me want to go places and see things– I was ruined by books! This sequence captures the gorgeous little predator facing off, calling out in alarm, and finally taking off to repel the bigger birds. Thanks, Annie!

The Mechanical Contrivium

Pluvialis at Fretmarks and Chas at Nature Blog led me to this surreal site.

Here are Querencia’s results:

1.You should always store Querencia in an airtight container in the fridge.
2. Humans share over 98 percent of their DNA with Querencia.
3. Scientists believe that Querencia began billions of years ago as an enormous ball of dust and gas.
4. If your ear itches, this means that someone is talking about Querencia.
5. Querenciaicide is the killing of Querencia!
6. Querencia can use only about ten percent of its brain.
7. Querencia can only be destroyed by intense heat, and is impermeable even to acid.
8. Querencia can’t sweat!
9. The smelly fluid secreted by skunks is colloquially known as Querencia.
10. White chocolate isn’t technically chocolate, because it doesn’t contain Querencia!

They pale beside Fretmarks’:

1. Lightning strikes fretmarks over seven times every hour!
2. If you don’t get out of bed on the same side you got in, you will have fretmarks for the rest of the day.
3. All shrimp are born as fretmarks, but gradually mature into females.
4. The canonical hours of the Christian church are matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, fretmarks and compline!
5. All swans in England belong to fretmarks.
6. Europe is the only continent that lacks fretmarks.
7. Snow White’s coffin was made of fretmarks.
8. Julius Caesar wore a laurel wreath to cover up fretmarks.
9. Apples are covered with a thin layer of fretmarks!
10. Neil Armstrong first stepped on fretmarks with his left foot.

Or Collie Dogs.

Or Tam, whose excellent gunblog I should link to far more often.

Sad and Infuriating

Last week, Matt’s 82- year- old grandmother was attacked and brutalized by two young thugs.

” Two men followed her home from the shopping mall, a distance of a few miles over quiet residential streets. One man remained in an idling silver sedan while the other attacked, wielding a chunk of broken concrete that officers found later in Grandmother’s car. The attack broke five of Margaret’s facial bones, including three around her left eye, the bridge of her nose and left cheek. She sustained deep lacerations that bled profusely and remain grotesquely swollen and bruised. She will need surgery to mend the facial fractures and a later procedure to repair her left eye, currently sightless. The attackers drove away with forty dollars in stolen cash, a few credit cards and a checkbook.”

It is customary to call such humans “beasts” or “animals”, but I don’t know many animals that would so brutalize an elderly female of their species.

Libby wrote him thus:

“I’m for bringing back the pillories and stocks — stake the mo-fos out in the town square with a sign that says “These two “men” mugged and robbed an 82 year old woman.” And let them take whatever abuse comes their way. And after that, stick them in jail for about 20 years. And for God’s sake, don’t let them pass on their genes which appear to be defective and rotten to the core.

“When, oh when, will our society make it not worth anyone’s while to do things like this??

“Compassion? Only for your grandmother. Revenge? Sweet.”

Kipling, as always, said it well:

“When the Himalayan peasant meets the he- bear in his pride,

He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.

But the she- bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.

For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”

It is good to know that Matt’s grandmother is also angry and unbowed.

Russia Post # 2: “Hazing”

Hazing is always nasty, and Russian military hazing has perhaps always been bad. But this…. (also an expired- link Moscow Times story):

“The Defense Ministry said Thursday that it would close the Chelyabinsk Armor Academy, where a brutal New Year’s Eve hazing resulted in a conscript having his legs and genitals amputated.”

(Snip– no, let’s NOT use that word)

“[Defense Minister] Ivanov….. at first played down the hazing as “nothing serious.”

Reasons? Actually, this makes as much sense as anything:

“”Hazing is a wild and barbaric way of maintaining discipline in the Russian army. In the absence of professional sergeants who maintain discipline in the barracks in any normal army, Russian officers put responsibility for keeping order on dedy ” military analyst Alexander Goltz wrote in Yezhenedelny Zhurnal. Dedy are older servicemen who have completed a year or more of compulsory service and routinely abuse younger servicemen.”

I have just been reading this book on the experiences of a Dartmouth Classics major who became a Marine officer, and the civilized nature of our services is in impressive contrast to this barbarity ( professional sergeants play an important part in our military culture).

Russia Post # 1

The former soldier turned defense writer and novelist, Ralph Peters, once mentioned that Russia would always break your heart. This may be in part because there is so much potential there, and there are so many obstacles to reaching it.

For an instance of the first: despite past horrors and the existence of places like Norilsk, Russia’s environment is in pretty good shape. (Both this story and the next are from the Moscow Times– links expired).

“Take a deep breath and a swig of water. Russian air, water and sanitation systems are among the best in the world, according to a study that will be released Thursday at the World Economic Forum.

“Russia, in 32nd place, ranks a few notches behind the United States (28) and above Poland (38) in the 2006 Environmental Performance Index, compiled by researchers from Columbia and Yale universities.

“Russia’s environmental health — measured by indoor air pollution, the prevalence of smog outside, the quality of drinking water, child mortality and adequate sanitation — is approaching its optimal level, or 92.3 out of a possible 100, according to the report, which will be presented at the annual gathering of world and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland.”

Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union are actually among the few places other than the States I’d consider living. But check out the next item as well…