It is official

You might have figured it out in comments below but it is official: because the Feds are allowing a three- decade exemption for wind farms to kill as many eagles as they “need” to, and because they exert no pressure on tribal use (right and understandable for religious practice, but ignoring the profitable if clandestine traffic in feathers for dance costumes), falconers will no longer be allowed to catch “up to six” eagles for falconry in areas of proven depredation, exactly reversing the win- win scenario Cat details below.

Nobody ever took six a year, an infinitesimal part of the breeding surplus; ranchers had proven predators removed; falconers got the companionship of one of the world’s formidable predators, often for decades, and the chance to participate in one of if not THE oldest falconry tradition on earth, at least six thousand years old.

Presumably if we do not fight this it means “for three decades?” Or forever?

And why in hell not allow trapping in wind farms?

No more of this!

My computer has just had a mental breakdown!

Apologies. Actually the blog and webs seem fine. The mail and some other things are off. I get but cannot receive mail (I get large attachments so that is not the trouble). Regular correspondents are being dumped in the spam file. And oddest of all, I can download photos from my camera, but cannot edit or open or export them– although I can see thumbnails the program insists they do not exist. I cannot export them, and while I was trying to, over 300 photos from my “art” folder suddenly dumped into IPhoto in a few seconds, and I only stopped it dumping thousands I have stored by pulling the plug! Yikes.

So apologies to the regular circle, to John M and Dr John B, and especially to Pete Humphreys, who is sending me great material on “Roaring Emma”. I’ll be back– actually I may just be able to get through on Libby’s new IPad, which I have been tardy in learning as I have been working overtime…

Red Kite?

I can’t prove the bird morphed into an “eagle” in the hoax video below was a red kite (Milvus milvus) but I have seen a few in the wild and I think it was. A beautiful bird with remarkable buoyancy and power of flight, a common medieval street scavenger, a most challenging quarry hunted through the high clouds by Gyrs and Sakers (the Craigheads did some of the last of this in pre- Partition India in 1940 and documented it in film and writing), the bird became rare with modern sanitation and persecution, was reintroduced, and is now common again. I saw my first one from a train just north of Marseilles but they are everywhere now.

The other reason confirming my uneasiness with eagle ID (other than long the long narrow crooked wings with light patches and its quite forked but nevertheless kitelike tail (young are not forked)- is that the Francophone hoaxers said it was a “Royal Eagle”. Ain’t no such bird, but the filmmakers might have known that the kite in the film is known as the “Milan Royal”.


Kite images from the Net:

Another dumb quote

From a review in the New Yorker for 27 August: “Buying a car, Grescoe writes “is the beginning of a spiral through selfishness, road rage, and anomie, one whose ultimate goal is the mall or the gated community”.

Unless you, you know, live in the country.

Do our coastal elites even “get” Upstate New York? (Yes, I know Grescoe is Canadian).

What they might think of a town of less than a thousand, forty miles on one side and 26 on the other from the nearest small towns, and 100 from a city, is hard to imagine.

More Dog Morons

Sari from our Asia Group sent me a link to this (nearly) unbelievable story about New Guinea singing dogs.

It begins: “The New Guinea Singing Dogs are the rarest in the world. Just 150 were known to exist before the bust at Randy Hammond’s home. Now there are 235.”

So they “rescued” and neutered them.

Was their owner abusing them? Even the idiotic story suggests not:

“The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture describes Hammond as a hoarder, and he’s been charged with animal cruelty, among other offenses. Despite the 85 dogs living in 27 small enclosures, Wendt describes these fox-like canines who can climb trees as “pretty healthy…In the last two years, Hammond turned all his attention to care for his wife, battling cancer…Wendt says Hammond has been very cooperative with his group and law enforcement, and that he truly cares about the dogs, who are attached to him… The number of dogs “just exploded. It went from 50 to 85 dogs in two years,” Wendt says. “That’s when it turns into chaos.”

First they were going to rescue them by– what else? — putting them down. (Vicki Hearne used to say ARists preferred all animals to be either cute or dead). But (the “caring” warden who arrested the owner, one Georgia) “…Martin wouldn’t allow that. As Wendt writes in a note of thanks on the New Guinea Singing Dog International Yahoo site: …(She) realized that these rare and special dogs needed a chance to survive…”

With no descendants– genetically and evolutionarily dead. Sorry, I don’t buy “too inbred” either– why not breed out to some of those other rare dogs?

But the fix is in. No dissent mentioned in the story. Four “choices” to make about it– “This story makes me happy/ inspired/ laugh/ intrigued”– why not disgusted, appalled, murderous, depressed? And you can only comment on (Evil) Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg being a private arm of Big Brother…

When Big Nanny, AR, and moronic institutionalized “compassion” meet there are no civil rights and no fertile dogs. (Re)read Vicki Hearne. Me? I’ll defend my own genetic gold. Molon labe.

First Let’s Kill All the Tigers..

Professor McMahan, the guy who wants to eliminate all predators, is back with what he thinks is a refutation of his critics. This time he begins with a thought experiment: since Amur (“Siberian”) tigers are supposedly insignificant ecological actors these days, why not let them go extinct?

“Many of the commentators said, in effect: “Leave nature alone; the course of events in the natural world will go better without human intervention.” Since efforts to repopulate their original habitat with large numbers of Siberian tigers might require a massive intervention in nature, this anti-interventionist view may itself imply that we ought to allow the Siberian tiger to become extinct. But suppose Siberian tigers would eventually restore their former numbers on their own if human beings would simply leave them alone. Most people, I assume, would find that desirable. But is that because our human prejudices blind us to the significance of animal suffering?

“Siberian tigers are in fact not particularly aggressive toward human beings, but suppose for the sake of argument that they were. And suppose that there were large numbers of poor people living in primitive and vulnerable conditions in the areas in which Siberian tigers might become resurgent, so that many of these people would be threatened with mutilation and death if the tigers were not to become extinct, or not banished to captivity. Would you still say: “Leave nature alone; let the tigers repopulate their former habitats.”? What if you were one of the people in the region, so that your children or grandchildren might be among the victims? And what would your reaction be if someone argued for the proliferation of tigers by pointing out that without tigers to keep the human population in check, you and others would breed incontinently and overcultivate the land, so that eventually your numbers would have to be controlled by famine or epidemic? Better, they might say, to let nature do the work of culling the human herd in your region via the Siberian tiger. Would you agree?”

I’ll let my intelligent readers answer this– have at it. And for God’s sake, Daniela– not before breakfast!

Update for Lane: “What but fear winged the birds?/ And jewelled with such eyes/ The great goshawk’s head?”– Robinson Jeffers, “The Bloody Sire”.

More Thoughts on Prof. McMahan’s Essay

Reading yesterday’s NYT (online) essay, The Meat Eaters, by Rutgers University professor of philosophy Jeff McMahan (forwarded by reader Daniela and shared below by Steve), I’m almost more puzzled by my own need to comment on the piece than I am amazed by it.

It’s tempting to lump this man’s essay in with the tiresome mass of animal rights propaganda, but I think it’s only superficially similar. This goes deeper, is arguably crazier, and may belong to another tradition entirely.

Professor McMahan’s work is principally atheist, by my reading, secondarily misanthropic, and only for the sake of example concerned with the welfare of animals.

His ignorance of animals and “nature” is obvious (Does he know some deer eat baby birds? Does he know ducks rape and kill each other?) and his ignorance of the human animal (his own animal self!) can be inferred. But I think the misanthropic bent of his argument hints that maybe he knows just enough about himself to be scared and disgusted by what he sees.

This is a very old theme, indeed. Man’s fear and loathing of himself long predates any “animal rights” movement (though it certainly seems to inform it.)

I can’t help but, as a parent of two children, recognize in this line of thinking a child’s deep-seated (and profoundly self-centered) sense of injustice.

Faced with the world’s certain measures of pain, bewilderment and abandonment, reasonable children seek comfort—and if denied that comfort, predictably lash out in self defense. They give hell to their parents, to their siblings, teachers, and tragically often to themselves.

To such a child, it is better to be alone than in the company of fellow sufferers. It is better, some will conclude, even to be dead.

For all the professor’s elaborate argument and educated language, he writes essentially from the perspective of a hurt child, ironically selfish in his lashing out against the “cruelty” of others.

This argument has been taken farther than the professor has yet come. Every religion and entire civilizations (spawning literatures and philosophies he must certainly know) have been created in the attempt to see past the problem of pain.

Although we still argue (obviously) and wonder about this problem, there is at least a shared understanding that the problem is sewn into the system and somehow essential to it.

Whether you chose to see this as life in a Fallen world or simply acknowledge, in the secular sense, that we’re all fucked, every adult must advance from that basic understanding to whatever conclusions can be drawn.

Only a child will chose to sit in a corner, hungry and hurt, while everyone sits at the table and eats what’s given.

Update: Chas’s thoughts here.

Worst NYT piece EVER?

Unfortunately the Times is not up to Jeff Lockwood’s standard today, at least outside of their science pages. Last night Daniela sent me this essay by a philosophy professor at Rutgers who is also a visiting one at Princeton (which at least balances him and Peter Singer with Freeman Dyson, who outweighs them both together intellectually), suggesting that we must totally eliminate all carnivores in order to stop suffering on the planet. That anyone this immune to reason, or innocent of any knowledge of anything outside his abstract field, gets paid handsomely for using his brain at any college is a damning comment on our society, education, and of academia as a whole today. This should only have been printed in The Onion. I won’t dignify it by quoting further, but am considering a letter to the paper– think about writing one too (they have already closed comments).

And the other depressing fact is that, if you wade through those comments, the most common reaction after the sensible variants on “what a fool!” and “what was the Times THINKING?” is the one that humans should be eliminated, voluntarily or involuntarily. This hatred of humanity among our elite classes is almost as scary as Professor McMahan’s hatred of reality and incomprehension of what life is. Both are utterly fascist, even beyond Naziism in their implications.

Matt exclaims: “What a troubling, sad piece—this man teaches!”

Lighter reaction– Daniela accompanied the link with the following note: “Well, I’m just about to see whether I have any reasonable carne to indulge my heathen self in!”

And one last point– what must excellent science writers like the Times’ Nicholas Wade think about sharing space and money with such invincibly ignorant idiots?

Update: Daniela comments in an email: “I like Jeff Lockwood’s take on ethics! That would make Prof. McMahan a philosophiopath, for being too ignorant to know how to pose a philosophical question. In the Hebrew Hagada the one who doesn’t know what to ask is called “Tam” – “an innocent”…The text suggests you help him”.

I am not sure I know how…

5000 Year-Old Scammer?

David Z (see below) sent us the latest on Hari Scam and and, amazingly, it is even more ridiculous than what has gone before.

“Among the mixed-bag films at Tribeca this year, Thorkell Hardarson and Örn Marino Arnason’s Feathered Cocaine was arguably the most mixed. Alan Howell Parrott, an American Sikh convert, introduced falconry to the Middle East, much to his eternal regret. Though falcon populations had held stable for centuries of falconry practice, Persian Gulf smuggling now threatens the noble birds with extinction, transplanting them to inhospitable climates and polluting their gene pool with designer hybrids.”

This goes beyond everything being lies including and and the, though it all is. Does the film actually make these claims or are the reviewers crazier or lazier then the filmmakers? Where is the North American Falconers Association? Hell, where are the Wall Street Journal and New York Times?

As Matt says, re Hari’s introducing falconry to the Middle East,”Parrot introduced falconry TO THE MIDDLE EAST???? Wow–I had no idea the man was 5,000 YEARS OLD!”

One more odd thought– why is a guy whom most Salafist Islamists would consider a Hindu heretic, and a convert at that, getting invited to hunt with them? Why would he want to?

I’d really like to get some planned stuff on science, dogs, old guns, and more, with pix, up, but I still tire easily and this mole needs whacking. Besides, he’d be hilarious if he were less dangerous, and if seemingly sane people weren’t taking him seriously.