Meat!

Via Margory, some good food stuff: a new quarterly about meat called “Meatpaper.”

According to their website, “Meatpaper is a print magazine of art and ideas about meat. We like metaphors more than marinating tips. We are your journal of meat culture.”

According to the NYT: “This week the second issue of Meatpaper, a quarterly based in San Francisco, hits newsstands. Its responses to meat are unflinching, and often humorous: a deliberation as to whether the Bible bans blood sausage, a photo essay on found meat, a married couple discussing cannibalism. (Not to give anything away, the husband both offers himself up and resigns himself to eating his companion, while the wife dodges the question.)”

Not only do I plan to subscribe; I want to write for them.

Dog Breeding– Again

Patrick once again documents the damage that the AKC, dog shows, and the idea of closed studbooks do to dogs, with many links. He quotes Donald McCaig:

“Throughout the fight [with the Kennel Club], I kept stumbling over a simple truth without quite seeing it: dog fanciers and their creature, the AKC, really do believe that what is most valuable about any dog can be judged in the show ring, that the show ring is the sole legitimate purpose and reward for all dog breeding. They even believe, against all evidence, that the show ring ‘improves’ breeds.”

It. Does. Not. EVER.

My friend MB, with whom I went to Turkey in search of dogs, sent me this excellent essay on the same subject. Read the whole thing but especially the part below “The Healthy Continuation of Breeds” and engrave these words in stone: “Population geneticists insist that limited populations under strong artificial selection, subjected to high levels of incest breeding — such as our own CKC [Canadian KC] purebreds — simply cannot maintain genetic viability and vigour in the long term without the periodic introduction of new and unrelated [emphasis mine] genetic material. They are referring, moreover, to true outcrossing, the introduction of stock unrelated to the breeding line, not merely the use of a dog which might be from someone else’s kennel but is derived from exactly the same foundation stock some generations back.”

Please remember this the next time you want to tell me to inbreed the tazis. I will keep an Asian strain and type and working ability, but will never rule out an outcross to good dogs of similar type and working ability. That salukis have however reluctantly allowed this may be the salvation of the breed– as far as I know they are the ONLY AKC breed that allows new “country of origin” genes in. This is why MB brings in dogs from Kurdistan, and I go to Asia.

New Links Plus

Sorry– my latest excuse is back problems. Sitting down for the better part of a year writing a difficult book is bad for your back– duh! But I have been accumulating links and going out with the hounds and taming the Gos (he is actually very nice) so….

“I tell you, Watson, the Giant Rat of Sumatra actually exists!”

Private nuclear power plants?! (From Toshiba). HT Clayton Cramer, who says “I do cringe a little bit at nuclear power reactors aimed at a market that hasn’t quite mastered the art of setting their VCRs to record programs at a particular time.”

Eric at Classical Values has kept abreast of the San Francisco tiger controversy. For what it’s worth, everybody I know who has worked in zoos suspects provocation. As I wrote to a friend:

“Everyone who has ever worked for a zoo comes to see the public as cruel and/ or stupid. Examples: people telling their kids that the dingos are “female deer” (more common and sensible, I’ll grant: “Why do you have those dogs in there?”) People trying to put their kids in the leopard cage for a photo op. People waiting for a tapir escape to get the opportunity to hold their kid up to the chimp cage, an opportunity previously denied; then, the kid having been bitten, trying to sue the zoo because a “vet” sewed the kid up, only to find the vet that treated the chimps was among Boston’s finest pediatricians.”

Also, you might Google up lawyer Geragos to see what fine citizens make up the bulk of his clients….

More sad tiger news: Brian at Laelaps reports on the death of three more tigers due to the insatiable desire for “medicine” in the Han Empire.

More from Laelaps: bad behavior by wolves in Alaska. I am more sympathetic to wolf control (not eradication) than Brian, but his is an honest report. Still, when a wolf is bold enough to attack a leashed dog, it is too late to control your dog! Nor do I recommend Farley Mowat’s utterly fictional Never Cry Wolf, with its muscivorous lupines. HT reader Nightmare.

Some reading? Reid sent me this NYT book review of a new release of Wilfrid Thesiger’s most popular books. I’m glad Thesiger is getting a revival, but I also think Reid sent it because he knew this sentence would make me furious: “They don’t make Englishmen like Wilfred Thesiger anymore, and perhaps that’s for the best.” Harrumph! Ignore that and buy his good books.

Biology? The Guardian reports on a creature close to the ancestral root of whales. Some creationists or at least anti- evolutionists are apparently railing at it because they can’t get their mind around a small creature with hooves eventually becoming a whale. Who is it that called this “argument from personal disbelief”? The indispensable Carl Zimmer has more on the beast, with nice pix, here and here.

More biology (or in this case paleontology): Paleoblog covers this year’s Mongolian expedition. All pix of Mongolia make me weirdly homesick, even if they are of places I haven’t been.

Anne Marie at Pondering Pikaia has a rueful poem by the late field biologist George Folkerts. A sample:

Clear birch-edged stream with fauna rank,
With iris blue upon your bank,
Your poisoned pools I now scan,
My seine haul yields one Falstaff can.
Everything I love is gone,
Whatever will become of me

The fields are being, with great precision
Transformed into a subdivision,
The eagle falls, the lily dies,
And on the road a ‘possum lies.
No doubt what will become of me,
Molecular Biology

RTWT, of course.

And Darren is educating us about caecilians, surely the oddest “podless” tetrapods, here and here. Think I am exaggerating? Here is his description of the critters in part one: “If I told you that there was a group of living tetrapods that have sensory tentacles, sometimes sport protrusible eyes, sometimes lack eyes entirely, often exhibit sophisticated parental care and may even feed their babies on a specially grown layer of nutritious epidermal skin, are incredibly long-bodied yet often lack tails, and sometimes possess large, anatomically complex, eversible male sexual organs, you might wonder which recreational drugs I was taking.”

Now please, Darren: monster pigeons and raptors from islands!

I’m saving two more sets of links, dogs and food, for later. Can’t resist one more bit of snark: though this blog is resolutely un- political, and I’m not sure I’d necessarily want either for president, my unruly soul is gladdened by the defeat by Huck- O- Bama of the Hillarudy machine and those who assume that New York (which I love, but..) has the right to govern us all….

Update: Patrick (and a New Yorker!) have noted the same thing.

Rina’s New Bag

After nearly two seasons serving as a stand-in for a spaniel, my whippet decided last Sunday she wants to be a Jack Russel terrier. Patrick, eat your heart out.


Why this didn’t happen earlier is a mystery to me. She runs across our native cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) often while flushing birds and snaps at them seemingly without expectation of success. They are fast afoot, using well-worn tunnels to slip through the grass and escape. The rats are curiously easy or my Harris hawk to catch yet, until now, impossible for the dog.

A hawk’s eye view of the rat’s route may help the bird choose where best to strike; but the dog pokes along at root level, always a moment too late on the draw.

Sunday Rina must have had a revelation: If she runs 15 feet ahead of us, she can jam her head in along the trail and catch rats as they pass. You’d think she invented time travel for all her excitement, and maybe she has…. Think forward 15 feet, four seconds into the future, expect the rat to pass, and SNAP!

Shooting video of this, while hawking too, proved fruitless. But I got this one funny bit of Rina working “deep, deep undercover,” disguised as a terrier.