Malcolm dissents

Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses and a capital- F Friend of Q, was so appalled by an Adam Gopnik anti- gun rant in the New Yorker that he wrote the furious and sometimes even funny riposte below.

Turns out he was “baited” with an old essay, but the truth remains. Apparently no one at the NYRKR has yet realized that not only is Gopnik’s statement that it is almost impossible to own a gun in Canada wrong (or as we say, a “lie”), but Canada’s only move on guns in recent years was to abandon its flawed, useless, and ruinously expensive long gun registration scheme.

There are dangers to living in a bubble; I am remembering Pauline Kael’s statement that Nixon must have stolen the election because nobody she knew had voted for him.

In Berkeley.


 I don’t regard myself to be on “the right,” whatever that means in this Fantasia of a current political climate, but I own a pile of guns and have been shooting and hunting with them since childhood. True, certain European countries have stringent gun laws, and some or possibly all of them likely have lower homicide rates than our own experiment-in-progress. On the other hand, it’s not “impossible” to own a gun in Scotland, which still ushers in the Glorious Twelfth in traditional fashion with a lot of booming double-guns and dead grouse in the heather. Meanwhile, following the Velvet Revolution the Czech Republic quickly moved to reverse draconian Soviet regulations designed to keep guns out of the hands of anyone who might pose a threat to the regime, and Czechs are currently about as armed to the teeth as the Swiss, with similarly little trouble. America is a unique situation, with a degree of class and racial and regional diversity that might be described as unprecedented in the history of the world. Frankly, for a heterogeneous, even polyglot nation of 300 million with an estimated one gun per person, it’s somewhat astonishing that gun violence is as rare as it is on a per capita basis, despite the best efforts of a sensationalizing media to portray statistically rare (if undeniably tragic) mass shooting events as some sort of social pandemic. As far as straight gun homicides go, the vast majority are demonstrably related to black market drug trafficking, which itself is a product of foolish, draconian, and totally paternalistic state policy rife with corruption at every level and probably knowingly engineered to prop up excessively militarized domestic law enforcement departments, privatized penal institutions, and for all I know the GDP of Mexico. Don’t even get me going on Big Pharma and whatever barrage of untested drugs-du-jour it wants to ram down the throats of Americans at the earliest possible age, except to say I’d far rather see both legal and illegal drug policy reform than squads of the aforementioned LEO’s coming around to confiscate the guns of American citizens, be they Bobby Seale, Dennis Banks, the Pink Pistols, or myself. And frankly, essays and punditry such as the above, in which some air-conditioned wonk blathers on about sixty or so million American gun owners as though their collective character is somehow flawed, retrograde, inbred, gap-toothed, or otherwise unevolved enough EVEN TO NOTICE THE BLATHER, let alone have a change of heart and whistle kumbaya whilst agreeably handing over the artifacts of their own enthusiasms, are about as insulting as it gets. Let’s not forget that we are talking about people who keep the electrical grid up and the toilets flushing and the trash hauled off and the food magically appearing in the grocery store; stop having this conversation as though it’s solely the purview of a self-congratulatory intellectual class, because that isn’t what stands to have its pastimes and ways of life criminalized. And honestly, I’d love to see one-fiftieth the ire out of the left over Snowden’s current straits as it seems endlessly to have over legally owned firearms in a free nation. So basically, this: if you or Adam Gopnik or Barack Obama want my prized 1924 Mannlicher-Schoenauer, or the 1955 Czech BRNO my son shot his first two elk with, or anything else in the safe, you are all welcome to go purchase your own. You can’t have mine. Get the picture?

Steve again: one more thing I have always wondered about: since most military people and cops I know are firmly pro- gun, just who is going to take our guns away?

Pigeons vs Humaniacs

Chris Landauer of Border Wars sent me a note a couple of weeks ago on the ARista’s war on pigeon racing. Since then I have been roaming the Internet, too busy and too pissed off to to write a calm essay on the kind of people who would persecute old men, some of them who have made real connections to youngsters of different cultures, for being “racketeers” for betting on races. They claim it is cruel because some don’t make it home (they don’t know most ferals are more homer than not), and that some substandard birds are “culled” (and eaten), a practice and term that they seem to think unique to pigeon keepers….

It would of course be easy to sue the sport out of existence, of course; though the Queen of England and some wealthy Belgians fly birds,  the old working class cartoon character Andy Capp on the other side of the channel and ancient ethnics like my late grandfather in the US are more typical, as are young blacks and city Hispanos. And given its nature as a HOMING sport, its targets are stationary, unable to go underground. Add irrational fears of diseases that pigeons don’t even carry, the latest being bird flu…

And then I thought, to hell with reasoned arguments; better to go with my initial reaction. So here are some of the calmer parts of my reaction to Chris…

“God, Chris, I get so sick of it all.

” ‘It’s so crooool, but they are all old and they’re going to die soon so we’ll LET them’…

“And another human- animal hybrid culture, another meme, another selected association of unique genes goes back into the undifferentiated pond; another joy is taken from us, there is one less thing to distract the young from the all- flattening difference- ending locale- killing biophobic Almighty Screen. How many youths in how many places once took baskets of pigeons miles to ‘toss’ and raced them home, as I did? No more pigeons, hunting dogs, ferrets, horses but for the rich, ratting, snake catching. Oddly my grandson probably WILL do many of these, but will he be a social outcast for it? And WHERE will he do it?

“And me- my salukimorphs are wanted, and my hawks. But who will pick up my unique genetic stream and crosses when I am gone, my wild hawk- evading homers, my crossbred and reconstructed old Spanish pouter breeds? Eli is too young, and his parents still live in the city; US cities are banning them outright by name (Chicago, Bozeman) or just making it  virtually impossible to keep or God help us FLY them.

“No answers but… Pigeon racing CRUEL? What absolute bullshit. The only beings that never suffer are– DEAD.”

A last thought: vegetarian and fine writer Sy Montgomery, who wrote beautifully about them in Birdology, knows better, and has more wise biophilia in her little finger than all of HSUS…

Photos from Scotland and Turkey, where pigeon culture still not only exists but thrives. The last pix including the cupboard loft are in the restaurant in Urfa where I used to eat lunch.

“In our time…”

“… which is a rather stupid time..” (Jose Ortega y Gasset): the latest on the California bill to ban hunting with hounds; and the possible loss of the historical and economically important Remington factory in Ilion New York.

On the hound bill, the concern of the antis is touching. “”It’s typically a high-tech hunt that results in an animal being shot out of a tree, which is unsporting”, says Wayne Pacelle of the HSUS– because, of course, he would be cheering on the hunters if it were “sporting”. Another backer worries about the hounds, who would be much better off neutered in urban dog parks: hunting with dogs “could also result in dogs being hurt or lost.”

They did quote a sensible voice or two: “”We do not want the challenge to be in the shot,” Brones added. “We want the challenge to be putting yourself in a position for the shot… We don’t want the animal to suffer.” I somehow doubt it will make any difference, though.

Money quote in the Remington article is priceless: ““Look, frankly, if we really want to keep jobs in New York, let’s invest more money in yogurt…” IF??

Two quotes from Dr John Burchard, in a recent letter: “Modern humans are in great danger of becoming totally disconnected from the natural world – with dire results for us as well as for “wildlife”.”

And: “There is a tendency in the modern world to want to eliminate all risks, even to
the most inattentive, uncaring and irresponsible individuals. A certain measure
of risk management is indispensable for the maintenance of an orderly society –
but the complete elimination of risk is first of all impossible, and secondly
not even desirable. “

Important Reminder

… for anyone who breeds dogs or cares about the Old Ways: please write to oppose the new federal APHIS regs! Jess sums it up well:

“The comment period is to let APHIS know that there are problems with this new rule. It should be abandoned completely. Tell them. Do you plan to purchase a puppy that will be shipped to you? Tell them. Do you have a rare breed that depends on easy shipping to maintain genetic diversity? Tell them. Do you want to be able to buy from the breeder of your choice, whether that breeder is local or across the country? Tell them. Do you know breeders that will not be able to comply with the AWA regulations? Tell them.”

This post is an essential example of the blog category “Read The Whole Thing”. If these regs had been in place when I brought my three breeders back from Asia, the whole Querencia tazi family and strain would be nothing but imaginary, unfulfilled potential in Asia. Jess, who has a few more dogs than we do, would not be legally able to let her dogs sleep in her bed any more (seriously), by sudden and utterly arbitrary federal fiat.

Whether driven by a sinister conspiracy or “merely” invincible ignorance (I think chance determines more disasters than conspiracy but also that well- organized fanatics can move faster than the complacent majority), these regs must be stopped. Someone on another blog thought my use of the challenge or outright dare “Molon labe!” (“Come and take them…”) was over the top. How would you feel if the government planned to casually destroy over a decade of your work and love, your intentional and careful breeding of a unique domestic animal in a tradition thousands of years old? Now multiply throughout the nation…

Quote of the day #1: The way things were

“Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission … For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police… ” (A. J. P. Taylor, English History, 1914-1945; HT Derb

Why we won’t shut up

Jess has taken down the post explaining why we fight against arbitrary breeding regs and requested I remove the link. I will let my own words stand for now.

Virtually EVERY DOG THAT APPEARS HERE REGULARLY, or that I have ever bred, is ineligible to breed under Los Angeles and fer Chrissake EL PASO rules, and arguably or at least practically speaking by Albuquerque ones, be they rare breeds, salukis blocked by SCOA factions because they come from improper countries or have “bad” colors, lurchers, or longdogs. I am tired of hearing (A) it won’t affect me (B) I’ll just ignore it (C) I live in a rural place. You know my favorite Trotsky paraphrase: You may not be interested in “X”, but “X” IS interested in you.

More cheerful programming to resume soon. Below, useless forbidden mutts here and in Kyrgizstan.

Pigeon Slander

Apparently there is to be a “reality” show about pigeon racing starring Mike Tyson. While he might not be the perfect spokesman I’d pick, the once- great Audubon Magazine sees this show as an opportunity to link the Horror of Tyson to the Horror of a sport of which the only characteristic is that some pigeon men kill raptors.

Think I am exaggerating? Their lead is “Mike Tyson to Star in Reality Show on Pigeon-Racing, A Sport Linked to Raptor Deaths”. And it goes downhill from there. Is Audubon now a PETA affiliate?

Meanwhile, in a linked action, PETA wants to sue in NY to stop pigeon racing, a sport which has connected more humans to the natural world than PETA ever will. “District attorney spokesman Jonah Bruno says the office is looking into the allegations.” What a world… (HT David Williamson, who says ” SLUG ‘EM, MIKE !!”)

Big Ag Blues

I might be less skeptical about the Obama Rhetoric below were it not for developments in the real world. This article from the San Francisco Chronicle may be the most horrifying yet: despite the so- called “Green” attitudes of California voters, apparently perceptions of what is “sanitary” trumps all sense of what is good for the land and its inhabitants.

” Dick Peixoto planted hedges of fennel and flowering cilantro around his organic vegetable fields in the Pajaro Valley near Watsonville to harbor beneficial insects, an alternative to pesticides.

“He has since ripped out such plants in the name of food safety, because his big customers demand sterile buffers around his crops. No vegetation. No water. No wildlife of any kind.

“”I was driving by a field where a squirrel fed off the end of the field, and so 30 feet in we had to destroy the crop,” he said. “On one field where a deer walked through, didn’t eat anything, just walked through and you could see the tracks, we had to take out 30 feet on each side of the tracks and annihilate the crop.”

It gets worse.

“In the verdant farmland surrounding Monterey Bay, a national marine sanctuary and one of the world’s biological jewels, scorched-earth strategies are being imposed on hundreds of thousands of acres in the quest for an antiseptic field of greens. And the scheme is about to go national.

“Invisible to a public that sees only the headlines of the latest food-safety scare – spinach, peppers and now cookie dough – ponds are being poisoned and bulldozed. Vegetation harboring pollinators and filtering storm runoff is being cleared. Fences and poison baits line wildlife corridors. Birds, frogs, mice and deer – and anything that shelters them – are caught in a raging battle in the Salinas Valley against E. coli O157:H7, a lethal, food-borne bacteria.

“In pending legislation and in proposed federal regulations, the push for food safety butts up against the movement toward biologically diverse farming methods, while evidence suggests that industrial agriculture may be the bigger culprit.”


“A food safety bill sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, passed this month in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It would give new powers to the Food and Drug Administration to regulate all farms and produce in an attempt to fix the problem. The bill would require consideration of farm diversity and environmental rules, but would leave much to the FDA.

“An Amish farmer in Ohio who uses horses to plow his fields could find himself caught in a net aimed 2,000 miles away at a feral pig in San Benito County. While he may pick, pack and sell his greens in one day because he does not refrigerate, the bagged lettuce trucked from Salinas with a 17-day shelf life may be considered safer.”


“It’s all based on panic and fear, and the science is not there,” said Dr. Andy Gordus, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Game.

“Preliminary results released in April from a two-year study by the state wildlife agency, UC Davis and the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that less than one-half of 1 percent of 866 wild animals tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 in Central California.

“Frogs are unrelated to E. coli, but their remains in bags of mechanically harvested greens are unsightly, Gordus said, so “the industry has been using food safety as a premise to eliminate frogs.”

“Farmers are told that ponds used to recycle irrigation water are unsafe. So they bulldoze the ponds and pump more groundwater, opening more of the aquifer to saltwater intrusion, said Jill Wilson, an environmental scientist at the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in San Luis Obispo.

“Wilson said demands for 450-foot dirt buffers remove the agency’s chief means of preventing pollution from entering streams and rivers. Jovita Pajarillo, associate director of the water division in the San Francisco office of the Environmental Protection Agency, said removal of vegetative buffers threatens Arroyo Seco, one of the last remaining stretches of habitat for steelhead trout.”

There is a LOT more– read it all. Meanwhile, also on the farm front, NAIS is rearing its ugly head again. Wendell Berry says he would go to jail over it, read it all and don’t weep– get angry!