Links 1

I have many I have been saving, some worth your time, some that just caught my eye An example of the second is this horrifying skeletal “bird”, aptly titled “Epic Bird Anatomy FAIL”:

Love those feather bones..

On the serious front, we have more dispatches from the front lines of the AR fascists’ attempts to make us cease all contact with our animals, from the invaluable and necessary Bedlam Farm blog. “We”,  ie the side of sanity, won the first battle for the continuing existence of the New York Carriage horses, but can we be complacent? Jonathan Katz says no.

He also revisits the larger issue here; whether it is possible to have a traditional relation with an animal, say WORKING, in our society. I would have thought he was being paranoid, but after belatedly reading Ted Kerasote’s latest, Pukka (review TK) I learn that a large majority of urban Americans think that ALL dogs must be spayed and neutered. Where do these mooncalves think that dogs COME FROM?

A quote from Bedlam Farm:

” The truth is that American dogs live the best lives of any animals in
the world, very few of them suffer and die at the hands of abusive and
uncaring owners…

” We are moving towards a kind of quarantine for dogs, increasingly
sealed off from the opportunity to socialize them, to give them varied
and stimulating lives, to accompany us in our travels, be appreciated by
other people. Dogs deserve better than to be isolated only in homes and
backyards because society does not permit us to take any risks with

Eleanora’s falcons have always been thought  strange. Island – nesting relatives of the European Hobby, they resemble little Peregrines with big wings. They live on Medterranean islands, and breed during the FALL passerine migration to Africa, using that bounty to fuel their reproduction.

 Now it appears that they keep “prisoners” in a larder as well. Please forgive format– it came out this way:

“…the falcons keep or
‘imprison’ some preys in a relatively deep cavity or in a fissure of
rocks from where they can’t escape as their flight feathers (both tail
and wings feathers) were already pulled out …
Or by keeping them trapped in a tight and deep hole which makes them
unable to move neither their wings nor their hanging legs…

“The authors reported
also that this behaviour can occur even before the eggs hatch, and was
already well known to a local fisherman who is staying in the
archipelago in a more or less regular basis for decades…”

Read, as they say, the whole thing.

Last before dinner: a relative, a wild Eurasian Hobby, flies down a Swift . That we have not yet mastered such flights, apparently done easily in the Old Days, should suggest we don’t know everything yet…

Links I: Feathers and Carriage Horses

…which I have been neglecting. With a book deadline and one for a big article not too far away, the impending operation, and things like four- hour “Neurological Psychology” tests, these more than one hundred miles away– I won’t burden you further, but I can be distracted.


I an a bit disappointed that not one “Mainstream” reviewer of the new “Jurassic” film has remarked on its featherless lizards. Not even my favorite and most erudite reviewer, Anthony Lane at the New Yorker- he is no scientist, and DID write the funniest one, but I unfairly expect him to know everything.

You all know what I am going to say next: FEATHERS. As Brian Switek blogged, ” A Velociraptor without feathers isn’t a Velociraptor!” Perhaps the paradigm has not shifted yet. Continue to spread the meme with such portraits as John Conway’s, above…

Don’t forget the New York Carriage horses either; their struggle against Animal Rights activists and New York’s remarkably obtuse (stupid?) mayor deBlasio  is symbolic of the one everywhere that pits owners of working animals against those who want to end all human- animal work and relations. Jon Katz at Bedlam Farm does a good job on this and much else,  but I am surprised this isn’t a constant national story. The statistics are revealing; all the city’s papers are in favor of keeping the horses, as are 70% of the people. I don’t know why this ridiculous and heartbreaking controversy wasn’t settled in favor of the horse drivers long ago.

Jon: “I have assembled some quotes from just a handful of the people who have,
unlike the mayor and a single member of any animal rights group in New
York City, come to New York to see the horses and examine them and their
lives. The mayor has never talked to any of these highly regarded and
experienced people, never considered a word they have said, never called
them up or invited them to visit. Every week, animal rights activists
and real estate developers seeking to ban the carriage trade hold their
press conferences, march in the streets, shout at the carriage drives,
taunt the horses, parade into City Hall to meet with the mayor and his
aides to plan their campaign to banish the horses….

“The Central Park Conservancy, credited with restoring the park after decades of neglect, opposes the
mayor’s plan to replace the carriage horses with electric cars, saying
the plan is “unsafe” and will increase congestion in the park, already
struggling to accommodate 40 million visitors a year. The horses, says
the conservancy, are a natural part of the park’s history.

“Buck  Brannaman, one of the world’s most respected horses
trainers, author of “The Faraway Horses” and the inspiration for the
movie “The Horse Whisperer”:

“Pulling carriages on rubber-rimmed wheels on paved streets
is a low-stress job, and the horses are calm and relaxed, not anxiously
laying their ears back or wringing their tails. Plus, these horses get
lots of attention and affection from passersby. And horses love
attention and affection as much as we do.

“Famed biologist Jared Diamond:

“Draft horses are “the most domesticable
animals in the world for life in urban areas.” They tolerate noise and
disruption, other species they are gentle, they stay close to one
another, they attach to people, they are genetically extraordinarily
well suited to work with people in urban environments.


“None of these people or organizations have been questioned by the
mayor, or been invited to participate in the discussion on the future of
the carriage horses. The debate there is harsh, dishonest and
unknowing, shaped by unfounded accusations and unsupported prejudices.
The leaders of our greatest city – and many journalists there –  have
lost any understanding of the real world of real animals, the debate
over the carriage horses could not possible be lower, more corrupt or

“Virtually none of the people seeking to ban the horses – garage
builder Steven Nislick, head of NYClass, the animal rights group
spearheading the ban effort; mayor deBlasio, who has never owned a dog;
the president of the New York City Council, who has two rescue cats; or
the leaders of any of the animal rights organizations involved has any
training or qualifications in equine medicine, training or behavior. Yet
they have dominated the discussion in the city, and shaped the media
coverage of the issue, so important to the future of animals in our

We owe it to the earth to keep animals in our every day lives,
especially when they are fortunate enough to be needed, loved, and so
well cared for. We have a shared responsibility for the people and the
animals in the world. If you are so moved, please write the mayor and
tell him so: Mayor Bill deBlasio, New York City Hall, City Hall Park, N.Y., N.Y., 10007.

Links plus

I have accumulated a few…

Federico sent these wonderful reconstructions of Pleistocene “Hominins”, saying “These are by far the most compelling reconstructions of ‘ancient’ people I have ever seen — admittedly one of the two is just an old school Homo sapiens…  For whatever reason I do find both reconstructions so much more alive and true to life than anything I have ever seen:  I can see that the old sapiens would have lots of stuff to teach *me*, and I can see that the neanderthal is just so close to us — I can feel how disappointing it would be if we could not communicate with someone like him.”

From “Lucas Machias”: patenting reconstructed species. Hoo! “What Brave New World…”

Keith Brady sent down this wonderful video on Chernobyl from Canada. I would have eaten the old lady’s vegetables– would you? As Keith said, “She’s a peach – got a lot of blood in her body….unlike the BBC guy.” If this were a YouTube I would have embedded it. Read Mary Mycio’s Wormwood Forest– in Amazon but the link won’t work– for more background.

Annie Davidson sent this pic– no link– via the San Diego Natural History Museum, of a horde of 33 round tailed horned lizard skulls found while cleaning out an America Kestrel nest box in the Chiricahua Mountains of southern Arizona. As we have both species, I must check out some nests; I would love to find a similar one. It looks like an Asian Buddhist skull rosary, and you could make a variant..

From Chas: vulture- safe zones in India. It may be the first positive sign for these necessary scavengers since I wrote up the problem in the Atlantic too many years ago. Wonder what the Parsees are doing…

Younger people don’t know, and older ones forget, that it was not only (or even) liberal Democrats who  saved  our wilderness areas in the last twenty or thirty years. The always contrary (and always interesting) Dave Foreman reminds us, here of what the PC would think of as some unlikely wilderness advocates. Remember (judge, senator) Jim Buckley? Libby’s late parents were of that ilk too.

More, and worse, soon.

A Very Few Links

Hopelessly busy and slow but you NEED these…

Jameson Parker has a post about an amazing gift shotgun, a Boss, perhaps the most austere (and best) Best. I have a corrollary tale– remind me– about someone who had one, and naturally, was given one. Now that I have about what I need, old friend, dog in law, and falconer friend Bodie, who shoots a Darne, has offered me a loan of– something special. Stay tuned…

Boss– I think this second hand one goes for well over $100,000:

Bodie & Darne

Slate says “Hunting Good!” HT Eric Eliason.

An Animal Rights activist east of the mountains near Albuquerque has apparently been stealing dogs whose owners she disapproves of, even from inside houses. When the police caught up to her, they report she threw two pitbull pups out the window of her car. What a burden it must be to “love” animals so– Vicki Hearne had a lot to say about THAT. Paul, your neighborhood– any thoughts?

MUCH more to come.. sorry to be slow.

A Few Links

I have been neglecting my blog family. Check the sidebar for new additions to the blogroll- Border Wars, and my neighbor (forty miles on dirt roads) Morgan Atwood at Rum & Donuts, who has abandoned his pseudonym “Nagrom”. Also, LoARSqred, partner of MDMNM of Sometimes Far Afield, has moved with him to Small City NM where she too has started a blog, A Seemingly Stochastic Life, full of gardening and hunting and good food (I think MDMNM has been too busy to blog).

Have you seen Neutrino Cannon? Scarily erudite and fiercely opinionated– and more often than not, right– on a daunting variety of subjects. Check his interests in his profile…

Darren of Tet Zoo may be blogging more than ever but has moved to Scientific American Blogs, where I hope he is getting the recognition he deserves.

A few particulars. What on earth are “conventional” breeders doing to dogs? Christopher at Border Wars muses (angrily) here and here.

Excellent essay by Paul Theroux on the PLF blog (originally from the Financial Times) on why there is still plenty of good potential travel writing. Need I say I agree? I actually quoted Theroux in Eagle Dreams.

Here is a strange one: exactly how weird were the popular cartoons and at least some music in the Thirties? I submit that the psychedelic Sixties had nothing on them. Following my whimsy after watching a jolly YouTube of Fats Waller doing “This joint is jumpin’ ” at NC (In the thirties “…everyone dressed up for parties, or just dressed better back then…[and] “weapons carriage was apparently considered normal”, I went looking for some remembered Cab Calloway songs with cartoons.

Oh. My. God. NOTHING prepares you for good music linked to the weirdest cartoons you have ever seen. Snow White parodies with Betty Boop, Bimbo the Bear, murder attempts, and Cab Calloway as not one but two cartoon characters singing St James Infirmary over the apparent frozen corpse of Betty–! Koko the clown turns into a ghost for a while, while singing and moving like Calloway, transformed by the Wicked Stepmother. But why are all the characters floating down the River Styx on an ice floe past skeletal and spectral card players (aces and eights), musicians, broken- down cars, and even barflies, though the container on the bar is marked “milk”, while owls and demons and what appears to be a large spermatozoon fly overhead?? And why at one point do Koko and Bimbo try to beat up a tree stump?

And that is the LESS weird video. Next, try this one, where Calloway starts live with his band singing Minnie the Moocher but shortly pops up in the underworld again as a cartoon GHOST WALRUS, menacing Bimbo and Betty as ghost wardens execute ghost skeletons in electric chairs to much hilarity and little effect, while a scat- singing nursing cat and her kittens join gleefully in on the chorus. The end reminds me (seriously) of Goya’s skies full of hellish creatures, and also that the thirties cartoonists were hyper- literate and cultured and amused themselves inserting high- culture references everywhere. (A later example: “Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit…”)

It is a shame that they are hard to find today except on YouTube– too un- pc by miles– but we are lucky that they still exist there. On the other hand Max Fleischer and his brother and his associates may be in part responsible for the weirdness of my generation- I saw that first one often as a child, and God only knows what else!

Apologies (Chas!) for the info dump but I have both a book and a review deadline looming plus have written an essay on my friend Peter Bowen’s novels that may soon be linked here– this after travel and PD slow typing. I needed to put out a little or I would never catch up.

One more though: despite my Scots maternal blood, they will never get ME to wear a kilt, but check out and help Stingray’s (and others) Kilted to Kick Cancer campaign.

Links, Pix, & Assorted Phenomena…

Long overdue, especially the New Improved Version 3 of Darren Naish’s Tetrapod Zoology, now hosted by Scientific American. I hope this means that Darren is finally making some money of what was and still is the best zoological blog on the Net.

New data on ancient dog origins in SE Asia? They seem to think this lineage was a dead end; why?

The Atlantic is again beating the AR drum by distorting the facts, conflating public and private land, ignoring the harm that out- of- control feral equid populations can do, and so on. I don’t want to spend much time on the Atlantic because I am vulnerable to the charge that I am a disgruntled former writer, but someone should start writing them demanding they admit their now clear biases. (And what does a former TV legal analyst know about natural history, ranching, land use issues, or arid land ecology?)

After The Woods and the Water is a blog and log for Nick Hunt, who is attempting to walk across Europe, following the trail of Patrick Leigh Fermor. He recruited small sums from what turned out to be 45 people for his budget (we are proud to be among them) and will be writing PAPER as well as occasional cyber dispatches from the road. Wish him luck!

Rifle Loonys! Recently I was advising a friend on his first big game rifle and it occurred to me that there was someone available who knew far more than me and had written a book, Obsessions of a Rifle Loony, about it. I sent him to the site of John Barsness and Eileen Clarke, Rifles and Recipes , which offers that book and a whole lot more. Of the goodies on offer at the site I particularly recommend that book, Eileen’s Slice of the Wild (the most detailed and analytical game cookbook ever, from the female half of a couple that lives on game even more than we do) and one I come late to: the quarterly Rifle Loony Newsletter, which for only $8 a year continues the themes of the books above with knowledge and good humor. One of John’s quiet virtues is that he is a mythbuster, knocking down “truths” and cliches that get endlessly read, repeated and quoted. I am embarrassed to say I have done this in my past, at least on rifles (I will claim more personal knowledge of shotguns). That I don’t now is not just experience; in part it is because I read John.

(I am now adding to the post at 4:30 PM as I intended more and to put it in draft, but published prematurely and had to go out!)

To continue…

An international camera trap gallery to benefit mammal research in tropical forests– stunning black and white images of such things as jaguars, chimps, tapirs, and my favorite implausible esthetic mammal, the giant anteater (best portrayed by sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti— a future blog subject. If anyone knows of an Internet pic of this bronze let me know? HT Annie Davidson.

Some of the dogs stayed home, some went to the kennel which they consider jail, but Lashyn, who needs her insulin shots, went on vacation with Peculiar and Mrs. She is looking good and enjoyed her visit but will remain dubious (as does Taik) about “wet”. Here, hiking up north with(getting very pregnant!) Mrs:

A very strange bird: a gyrfalcon- kestrel hybrid (with a kestrel for comparison)! Will be interesting to see how it develops…

Finally, a little phenology. Most Augusts bring first thunderstorms, then spadefoot toads emerging and singing in the temporary pools, which in turn portend boletes in the hills. This year we have almost none of the above, but local naturalist John Wilson sends some toads to remind…