Serious stuff, really.

Jonathan Katz at Bedlam Farm Journal has been carrying a pretty heavy load by being the point man on the controversy, almost entirely fabricated by those who know nothing about animals, over banning the Central Park carriage horses. (If animals needed psychologists, those horses would be happy; as Freud knew, love and work are the necessities for a sane life). In the last month, he lost two of his animals to old age and decrepitude. Only others who love animals (most Animal “Rights” people don’t know or love them, as has been obvious in this debate) will understand his grief. But, I am happy to report, he continues to think.

First, from one of his recent essays, “A Simonless World” (links aren’t working but you can find it on his blog) , a passage  where he paused in his sorrow to contemplate the peculiar attitude that the culture seems to be making about animals these days:

“Last week, five or six people came up to me at different times and
told me about their dogs – this happens to me daily – and each one told
me their dogs were abused. I always ask why they say that, and they give
me reasons like this: the dog is afraid of moving lights, the dog is
afraid of men with big sticks, the dog is shy around loud noises, the
dog is afraid of trucks and buses.

 “There are so many reasons why dogs might behave that way – breeding,
litter experience, issues with the mother, encounters with dogs and the
outside world. Abuse is actually the least likely for most dogs.

“Something in the life of contemporary Americans calls them to need to
see animals as abused and piteous and dependent creatures. I think it
makes us feel valued, worthy, even superior to other people.  We are a
fragmented, tense and disconnected people in many ways, animals give us
something to feel better about. Abuse is real, it is a crime, but I
sometimes think it seems that every dog in America was abused, and I am
always drawn to wonder why it is that people need to take ordinary
animal behavior and transform it into narratives of human cruelty and
mistreatment… We no longer see them as
partners, but as pathetic wards and helpless beings.  I don’t think it
is good for animals to view them through such a narrow prism.”

The late philosopher and dog trainer (and poet) Vicki Hearne used to say that Animal Rights activists could only envision two roles for animals: cute and abused. In the intervening years I can see a second: dead. GRATEFUL dead, and I don’t mean the band. There is a little philosophical movement lurking about that scares the crap out of me, that says with Jeremy Bentham and certain odd Buddhists that absence of suffering is paramount, that things like carnivory must be remedied, and if it isn’t then everything from re- engineering carnivores’ genomes to ending our species to ending life is justified. I do suspect they are a small group, but I hope they never get hold of a weaponized virus…

Again, my old post defending coursing dogs, or any dog with a job, might be worth a look. As is this surprisingly sympathetic portrait of coursing coyotes in Oklahoma from the NYT. Of course, people are trying to shut that down too, as they did the legal wolf hunt with hounds in Wisconsin. Look at the contrast the clever NYT writer made between the solicitous hunters, who like most of us sustain large vet bills every year, and the AR activist who claims we leave wounded dogs in the field to die (yeah, I know that is unbelievable…)

And a slight swerve: an essay by an anti –gunner who admits without condescension that there are enormous divisions between people of good will over guns, even in Sandy Hook families that lost members to that crazed shooter, and castigates the familiar anti- gun tropes that insist all Americans want gun control or, worse, that those of us who oppose it are ignorant, bigoted,  etc– name your cliche, and see that ass Liam Neeson, who has probably made more money off at least the image of guns than I have. I do not agree with her, but I get the sense we could have a conversation…

Ancient coursing dog photo:


Brad Watson, who was on at least one of the hunts below, has just gotten his story “Eykelboom” published in the New Yorker, and it is FINE haunting story. Is the New Yorker publishing better fiction recently? I say yes, from all sorts of odd and good writers– I know it is not northeastern- chauvinist anymore at least for contributors, but lately it has been on a roll. Now you can see (quite recently) Thomas McGuane with a strong if terrifying story, and people in translation you have not heard of– and Brad, an Alabaman (well, I think he was born in Mississippi) with good guns and several books all of which you should read (I took the liberty of linking to a favorite collection above), who loves food and teaches at Laramie and hangs out with scientists  and philosophers.

You should always check Bedlam Farm for updates in the carriage horse fight and other battles against AR fanatics. Relevant posts here and here and here and here and…

I want one of these.

A feathered lizard is still a lizard. Think BIRD!

Check out Hillmap, then go here to see it applied, in this instance for finding grouse. HT Lucas Machias.

Help Joan Didion.

Peter Matthiessen (and John Cole) were outdoor writers, if only as undergraduates. And shot not only crows, but raptors! Of course back then everybody did. (Pic from Jonathan Hanson).

A fine gun site from Russia. Great illos, many of things you don’t see here…

Mechanical Houbara??!! Interesting but I am not sure if I approve.

Lucas’ Links

My friend whose cyber name is “Lucas Machias” sends more links than anyone I know, and I can’t keep up with him. His favorite subjects include but are not limited to wildlife art, paleontology, evolution, and sporting lit. I have decided to occasionally give him a post of links of his own; there is no other way to keep up! With no further ado:

Predator prey relationships are more complicated than we think.

Never mind winter; drought is coming; or, it can get much worse.

Very cool mule deer migration video.

We have all seen them: an amazing clueless Amazon review.

Lucas reads a lot more fly fishing books than I do. Here is one about Russ Chatham’s fishing mentor.

Microscopic sandworms of Dune?

“Hitchcock would have loved it.” Mutating birds at Chernobyl.

Raven politics.

The Golden Eagle’s genome has been sequenced. Interesting that it indicates a good sense of smell!

For all Roy Chapman Andrews fans. Unfortunately the internal link doesn’t seem to be working; I may Google it later.

Svante Paabo’s book on Neanderthals is out!.

More to come, I’m sure…

Weekend Links

… good, bad, & strange. Bear with my light blogging for a couple more weeks please! First, good:

Tazi pix! Right from the source, Almaty & environs– the bearded ethnic Russian guy is Konstantin Plakhov, who bred our Ataika, seen here as a pup at Kostya’s there and as a matron, here, below.

Libby with Kostya and Zhendet the tobet, in 2004:

Very Bad: you are not paranoid when they are after you. I particularly like this quote: ““They can get rid of hounding and deal with a segment of their community that is not well respected. Or they can potentially lose all bear and bobcat hunting.” Us. The oldest Paleolithic partnership. “First they came..” Fill in your favorite. Are you listening David Peterson? Think they’ll keep bowhunting?

Weird but probably true paleo- science. A bad time for megafauna! HT Walter H.


Some smart atheists (and one brilliant one, John Gray, who really doesn’t fit that or any easy definition) defend religion against “fundamentalist atheists”. HT Vic Venters.

Local naturalist John Wilson, followed by many other friends, sent in a link about the ancient cultures of Central Asia. Makes me nostalgic.

Jonathan Hanson sends a link on little dinosaurs with shining feathers (NOT birds), and Neutrino Cannon one on bears using tools.

Karen Myers sends disturbing news on the Belyalov foxes. If I were rich I’d buy two.

Allen Jones sends in the news that Tom Russell’s text for his art book Blue Horse, Red Desert is now available as an ebook.

Linkfest plus…

Good news announcement imminent (no, not the pending grandchild or as Mr P calls it “the Forthcoming Offspring”)– but I think I will wait until it is “on paper” so to speak. Somehow pixels are not quite as real…

Also other news: going to Wyoming in August, where Libby will cook for an old friend’s daughter’s wedding, and I will meet up with Cat, speak at her library, and drink martinis. That should feed blogging. Then, East in Sept mostly to see family but also hope to get with Sy & Dr Hypercube. More as I know more.

Meanwhile, too long since a link collection, with plenty accumulated. With no further ado:

Natural history: Walter Hingley sends note of 2500 year- old gyrfalcon nests, with 900 year- old feathers. I knew packrat nests in the southwest may date to the near Pleistocene but I believe this is the first bird nest so old.

From Matt: YouTubes of the first New World “forest falcon” I know of successfully trained in falconry, progressing from calling to bagged quarry to hunting. Ecologically and I suspect evolutionarily a fascinating bird: a genetic falcon or at least primitive falcon evolved in an Accipter’s habitat to look like one, and with a primitive South American caracara’s head!

(Matt: “I have actually heard the collared FF calling in the forest in Panama, but I never happened to see one. I did trap a barred FF in a mist net and it was the first wild trapped hawk I think I ever held. I told the biologist, “It looks just like a tiny goose hawk!” He chuckled and asked if I meant goshawk, which I knew was the word and the spelling but had never said it out loud or heard it spoken…

“…It obviously runs on foot a lot (did you see the grainy YouTube of the bird running after the falconer like some crazed armadillo?) so the flights would probably go in and out of cover like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It has gorgeous feet and a serious head with a strong, compressed beak.

“In attitude it definitely seems like an imprinted falcon, especially the imprinted aplos I’ve seen. Watching something that acts like a falcon but is built like a cooper’s hawk is a little disconcerting. I was pleased to see also how attentive it was, how well it ate and how apparently comfortable it was in the relative open country. I’m sure I could catch some things with one around here.”)

Asian animal memes; reader and dog relative Lane Bellman sends this informative forum on eagling, dogs, and other things Central Asian. They use some of my photos, but as they praise me and recommend Canat as a guide I am not complaining.

Pigeons beat Internet. I love my computer but also my Neolithic, ancient agri- city tech…

Guns n’ stuff: Al Qaeda, NY mayor Bloomberg, and the Daily News all endorse the same gun control plan, based on a total lie or, charitably, ignorant misinterpretation. That would be a terrorist organization, a liberal mayor (if singularly illiberal person), and a conservative newspaper– equal opportunity blame to go around here.

(Things are different in the west. Next post or soon I’ll quote Hal Herring’s review of a Colonel Jeff Cooper gun book. Herring is doubtless broadly on the left– wrote a piece on wolves for High Country News recently– but finds good true things to say about the old T rex).

From Chas: the Ninja Glock I too like the… serendipitously fortuitous typhoon app, and yes this IS a joke.

Cultural and other: the great sportswriter George Kimball has a website up. I contribute a small blurb to his neglected American at Large. Go there and buy the books of among other things our finest contemporary– last?– boxing writer. (And a strange common denominator– at dinner in Mag last year I mentioned him and Daniela knew his NY sports reporting, while Vermont- raised Greg, Libby’s boss, knew him from the Boston Herald!)

Could I be part Mongol or Turk?? I am certainly part Lombard. Too early for the ridiculously prolific Jingiz line, though…

Chad posts the truest readers’ poster ever made. And Nagrom, sometime blacksmith and knife maker, writes the best essay on tools. (Nagrom also has a James Elroy Flecker quote in his header, and is the only person under 40 I know of who knows he exists– well, Peculiar might. Anyone want to quote me his most famous lines?)

Last, some stuff from the WSJ re Buzkashi I don’t have a link to, irresistible– I am sure you could find the source. Me to blogfamily:

“…don’t know if it is online yet but the Wall St Journal has a
piece on achieving fame via buzkashi in Afghanistan, with lots of local
color, vendors hawking opium and hash at bouts etc.

“But the real delight is the attempt of local (??!!) PETA to stop it. The
vice president or some such of the buzkashi society is quoted as saying
(paraphrasing here– I read it at the Post office): “But we love our horses!
We think of them as WEAPONS.”

“They may be barbarians but you gotta love it.”

A Few Links

Michael Pollan thinks the recent attacks on “foodies” and gluttony may be in part the product of an unholy alliance of Big Ag and stealth vegans– really! For the record, for the past couple of years I have begun to suspect that The Atlantic has a stealth AR agenda– something that would be less harmful if it were overt. The “new” management did tell me in blunt terms I could no longer write for them as soon as they came on, which I thought a bit odd as my last piece had won an award and been short- listed for another…

Dog “wrestling” (I would not call this virtually bloodless sport, used to test the bravery of flock protection dogs like Cat’s throughout Central Asia, dogfighting) in Afghanistan. Actually Time– surprisingly?– pretty well gets it.

Patrick says Teddy Roosevelt was more hardcore than 50 Cent.

A visually stunning video of peregrines over London, if one that doubtless relies a lot on computers; HT Tim Gallagher and Walter Hingley.

Belyaev foxes for sale! I WANT one. Sy Montgomery, who sent the link, does too, but is afraid it might eat her “girls” (chickens). I fear my girls might eat the fox.

Last, a link to an Amazon reviewer, whose enormous body of work on everything from hot snakes to the glass flowers at Harvard I have barely tapped, but who is going to cost me money– a New Mexico biologist who has interesting things to say about almost everything.

MANY links

Unseasonal cold weather (down to nearly – 30 or as people are suddenly all saying “NEGATIVE” 30 F at night) has curtailed outdoor activity but there have been everything from house emergencies to deadlines to unexpected trips to Santa Fe, all taking their toll on the blog. I hope regular service can resume– I have a ridiculous amount of linkage saved and will never catch up soon. Onward!

A video of the galgo hare coursing championship, from a Spanish hunting and fishing show (see opening clips), courtesy of Gail Goodman. Can you imagine such a show in the US?

Cultivation of the bird’s- nest soup bird, courtesy of Arthur Wilderson, who writes: “I wonder what might be done to further enhance the productivity of such sites. A ban on the use of pesticides in the immediate area might increase insect densities and so support more birds. I could see some sort of anti-predator campaign too, if the native birds of prey haven’t been long since wiped out… Then you’d start selectively breeding the swiftlets for maximum nest production, and the cycle of domestication would begin anew.”

Maybe such efforts are the reason you can get authentic “nest” as an ingredient in soft drinks– in Albuquerque!

Nabokov was right! 65 years ago, working solely by close observation of morphology, he predicted we would find that New World “blue” butterflies invaded in five successive waves from Siberia and radiated out, evolving into many new species, all the way down the Andes…

DNA has just proved him 100% correct, in both theory and detail. The story is both a triumphant vindication of Nabokov, who was often sniffed at by entomologists as a dilettante, and a classic demonstration of close observation and traditional taxonomic methods– one that shows that, done right, they still work.

NOT the Onion: “food” recall; HT John McLoughlin.

$200,000 racing pigeons going to China, where they seem to want to exceed our excesses. My father and his business partner, a banker, spent what then seemed like a literal fortune to bring a winning strain from Europe in the early 60’s, but this seems crazy. As Betsy Huntington used to say (adjust for inflation): “Never pay more than one thousand dollars for anything that can DIE.”

It appears that bacon is a gateway drug for vegetarians.

Screw the political correctitude of the moment: as Carl Zimmer says, Pere David and his ilk were heroes. (And sorry, science as we know it is western. As Pat Hemingway says, Islamists use jets, not flying carpets).

They have made a movie out of The Long Walk. I don’t really care if the story is 100% true or not.

Tom Russell sings Tonight we Ride on Letterman, and even that smug bastard likes it. Bonus: Paul Schaeffer plays Mexican accordion!

Coyote- hunting longdogs from Kansas, from a good blog new to me. I’ll be checking it more.

Medieval falconry video: somewhere in eastern Europe, a gyr (gyr hybrid?) kills a heron dead in the air with one blow. There is rumored to be more including cheetahs…

Next, dog & bird; tomorrow, more birds among other things…?

Random Links, Good & Bad…

The Saudis believe they have thwarted an Israeli spy attempt— by a vulture.

In the context of deconstructing a dumb set of generalizations by Dennis Prager, LabRat gets off a brilliant riposte (emphasis mine): “I absolutely believe he’s correct in that contempt is the most corrosive thing there can be in a relationship, and that a habit of rolling your eyes at your partner probably is more ultimately destructive than even infidelity. What I find amazing is that he seems to honestly believe this is a gender-specific thing.” ! and !

There is only one gun store in all of Mexico, (fewer than in my quiet rural county) and gun crime, especially against innocents, is rampant– so they want us to do as they do and close all of ours (and be smug about it as those interviewed seem to be). Somebody show them the murder statistics in Juarez vs those in adjacent El Paso, and ask what the difference is…

Nagrom takes on some particularly odious vegan types.

A sad case: cattle rustling in Magdalena. Marshall Cearley is a good guy but it is a bad deal all around.

A collection of Copperhead Road covers courtesy of Chas. The best feature mandolin– you need one for the right sound I think.

Elephant polo video courtesy of Arthur Wilderson. I must scan a pic of Lib riding an elephant near Treetops [see below] in the 70’s, looking for tiger & rhino.

BRILLIANT coursing song from an 1840’s dog book courtesy of Jess:

“…our long dogs, our long dogs,
our strong dogs, our long dogs.
These dogs I make my song- dogs,
For ever shall they go!”

Update and correction: TIGER tops as Terence Wright noted– Treetops is in Kenya (Lib didn’t notice). I may have been confused because (Indian)Jim Corbett wrote about it. Pic soon of Lib on elephant at Tiger Tops.