Time Wasted?

The NY Times has a provocative article today on the concept of wasted time at work – especially as it applies to knowledge work. We continually try to graft concepts of efficiency developed for manufacturing onto more creative activities. Money quote:

“In other words, what looks like wasting time from where you sit, could be a whirl of creative thought from where I sit.”

Meteor Strike Update

Dr. Valerius Geist has some ideas.

“There may be some thing to this meteor strike. However, the cosmic event did
not get rid of megaherbivores, such as mammoth and mastodons. However, the
short, but severe depletion pf large prey may have eliminated Arctodus
simus, and Miracinonyx. They seem to be gone about 13,000 BP. With Arctodus
gone the continent was open to human colonization. What is so nice: what I
wrote about the peopling of North America in my little book Whitetail Tracks
has now been confirmed. (a) the earliest humans in South America were not
Indian, but primitive Caucasoid-Negroid. (b) the earliest skeletons on the
Pacific coast are indeed Ainu! I also claimed that between 60,000 t0 12,000
BP there would have been thousands upon thousands of attempts to colonize
North America, which all failed. That means that you can expect an odd human
site here and there within that long time span. Well there is now a furor
over a few such sites! This interdisciplinary way of working does work.”

Big Fisherman

This photo emerged from a packing box over the weekend. That’s Reid Farmer, age seven, with some rainbows we caught in the Arkansas Ozarks. That’s my grandfather Travis Reid’s hand holding the other end of the stringer. I really liked that sheath knife that I bought while on vacation in the Smoky Mountains.

Steve and Matt – do you have any junior outdoorsman photos to contribute?

You asked for it. 🙂 Matt and Dad about 1972. A sunfish would have pulled me in.S
Steve, the young woodsman: ” I am trying to track one I know I have of me at about the same age as Reid with a string of pickerel, but here is one at 27 or 28 with a woodcock in Easton Mass., where I grew up and my mother still lives. That field is a ‘community’ of condos now.”

Darwin’s Letters

Annie D just introduced me to this treasure trove of Darwin’s letters.

She quoted a very youthful (twelve- year old) Darwin on– washing:

“Just as I was going, she said she must ask me not a very decent
question, that was whether I wash all over every morning — no — then
she said it was quite disgustin — then she asked me if I did every
other morning, and I said no — then she said how often I did, and I
said once a week, then she said of cour you wash your feet every day,
and I said no, then she begun saying how very disgusting and went on
that way a good while. so then I went and told erasmus, and he bust
out in laughing and said I had better tell he to come and wash them
her self, besides that she said she did not like sitting by me or
Erasmus for we smelt of not washing all over, there we sat arguing
away for a good while.”

As I have mentioned before, I once held a fan letter to Jean- Henri Fabre from Darwin. It is not yet available in text but is catalogued here.

Real Hunting…

… and otherwise. On Henry Chappell’s Home Range, he takes us out for a few days of old- fashioned East Texas hunting, fishing, and eating— bream fishing with bait, squirrel hunting with dogs, night hunting for raccoons. This is hunting- gathering as a life. Good pics too!

On the (very) other hand, Dave Petzal, the Gun Nut, has some stories about modern “hunters” that could make you weep. Quoting a guide:

“You people who make videos and TV shows have screwed up a whole generation of hunters. Every time someone buys something they get a free video, and the problem is, they believe them. They come out here expecting to get a 35-inch mule deer in an hour, because that’s what they see on the video. They don’t like to hunt. What they want is a big head dead on the ground, fast, so they can go to the airport and throw their camo in the dumpster and plug in their I-Pod and get back to their computer.”

And then there is what has to be the ultimate “Red State” story: the one about the eleven- year old Alabama kid who killed the thousand- pound feral hog.

I mean: not only is he eleven and from Alabama. He killed his first deer when he was five; he killed the pig with a .50 caliber revolver (I assume the big S & W); he goes to a Christian school; and he is quoted as saying (emphasis mine) “I probably won’t ever kill anything else that big.”

Hilarious. PETA, read and weep!

Update: the whole “Hogzilla II” thing has gone downhill. Patrick has the whole sordid tale: not just exaggerated or a publicity stunt (though apparently both) but a tame pig. Disgusting.

New Wolf Species

Darren has been too busy to post anything but amazing pictures, but he did email me a heads up on–!– not one but TWO new wolf species!

“I’ve been following the story here (popular articles and shorter papers reporting the relevant discoveries have been appearing since 2003 at least), but finally we have the full report. The authors find that Indian grey wolves and Himalayan wolves are outside of a clade that includes all undoubted C. lupus populations, and are distinct enough from the latter to warrant specific recognition. The two new species are C. himalayensis and C. indica. I think this is huge news and am desperate to blog on it – but I just don’t have time.”

Here is a link to the abstract. I hope Darren will soon be able to tell us more.

The Roller Scandal

Eight (so far) California roller pigeon fanciers have been targeted in a Federal sting operation and accused of killing as many as 2000 raptors, apparently mostly urban Cooper’s hawks. Some of the info is pretty ugly:

“Navarro allegedly told an undercover Fish and Wildlife Service agent that he likes to “pummel” the hawks that he catches with a stick.

” “You’ll see, it gets the frustration out,” Navarro said, according to a Fish and Wildlife agent’s affidavit.”

But some of it is dubious:

“”When you take out a predatory bird, you’re taking out the upper end of the food chain,” said Special Agent Lisa Nichols of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “It blows the balance of everything.” “

Well, OK. But urban Coops mainly exist because of an oversupply of urban pigeons and doves adapted to the human- modified landscape (and if there were indeed 2000– a figure I am skeptical about– they were WAY out of “balance”.

Then there is this:

“Roller pigeons are bred for a genetic quirk that strikes in mid-flight, causing a brief seizure that sends the birds spiraling uncontrollably toward the ground. Thousands of hobbyists compete to see who can best make their birds roll in unison.”

Well, a moment’s thought should tell the reader that something that can be performed “in unison” is not done “uncontrollably”. As Pluvialis points out in a recent post, only birds bred too closely go out of control; in fact, rolling and tumbling seem to be actions enjoyed by the birds.

Unfortunately, as Rebecca reminds us, ” that may as well be a dinner bell to a hawk”.

Matt and I discussed the whole matter. I was blunt (a bit busy and preoccupied); Matt nuanced as usual. I said:

“Whole thing is crazy. The pigeoners shouldn’t be killing hawks. The Fed shouldn’t be doing elaborate stings. I doubt the 2000 figure. And urban Coops aren’t endangered. Why not let falconers trap and move them?– I do it all the time with adolescents and they don’t come back!”


“I am often a little bit out of the mainstream on my views. If possible, I am even MORE paranoid than the average falconer, but my fears are for the big threats: The possibility that all private animal ownership be regulated in this country, if it is not eliminated altogether. There is a weird synchronicity between the government on one hand and the animal rights nuts on the other that serves the purpose of each. When these two get together, bad things happen for us and for everyone who likes to own and breed animals.

“In addition to falconry, I also run a sighthound at game. The coursing flap in CA last year was really troubling to me. Those dog guys were out of line and sloppy and short-sighted, no question about it. And the notion of a point system (as in formal coursing) is alien to me and I think is a dangerous component to add to any legitimate hunt.

“Nonetheless, running dogs at game is something I do, and so I took notice. As a falconer, the parallels are obvious also. Far better (in my view) that we should police ourselves and reach out to our own bad apples than to have the media, PETA or the state and federal government do our policing for us….

“Know what I mean?

“So please don’t get me wrong regarding the pigeon guys. I agree with you that they are basically tossing hawk food as a hobby and should expect to take some losses! But given the choice between arguing over predator control strategies with a pigeon guy or arguing over animal ownership with a PETA rep., I’d rather talk to a Roller man.”

Amen. For more intelligent discussion from both pigeon and hawk folks, see the comments in this post of Rebecca’s, and the text in this one.