They’re Killing Pigeons Again

Tyrants end up killing pigeons; I don’t know why, but they do. Franco almost made the traditional old- fashioned competition “thief” pouters of southern Spain, like the Rafenos I keep, extinct. The Taliban’s mere sixteen “Commandments”, including ones against sorcery and NOT growing beards, include one, the fourth,”To prevent keeping pigeons and playing with birds. Within ten days, this habit/ hobby should stop. After ten days this should be monitored, and the pigeons and other playing birds should be killed.”

It worked- there are more Afghan highflyers in Salt Lake City than in Kabul today.But all kinds of totalitarian and even just Nannyists ar e tempted.Even before they tore out the hutongs, the remnants of an older city, Beijing’s pigeon flyers were harrassed by fanatical Maoists.And Chicago bans them as totally as the Taliban did, along with foie gras and at least until recntly, handguns…

But the Islamic “State” goes them one better; notoriously, they kill the OWNERS too, even if they are teeneaged boys. Syria, along with Turkey, has the most fine ancient breeds; it is where, if you beie the Turkish legends, and I do, the nomads  stopped and took the pigeons they took in their horse carts out, and settled.What is sure is that they have more genetic  diversity, and more breed “roots, than any other place. So now the crazies are desrtroying an ancient genetic heritage as well.

Look at these “refugees”:

They are Bagdads, the first letter carriers, now show birds, kept and illustrated by Darwin (above) and me…

THey are also ancestor to the German, or Nuremberg Bagdad, or Scanderoon (from “Iskander”, Alexander), which looks different from the English bird today– but the old type is like both…

It may not be a crime like killing humans, but it is certainly on a level with destroying art.

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?

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…

In support of Daniel Richards

I hate to see the pressure that California Game & Fish Commission President Daniel W. Richards is under for participating in a hunt he had every right to undertake. Although hunting mountain lions is illegal in California, Richards traveled to Idaho for a successful lion hunt. Richards is not only a hunter, but reportedly is a life member of the National Rifle Association – two things that gall animal rights activists (led by the Humane Society of the United States) who are now seeking his removal. A report in California media quoted a California assemblyman who may seek a legislative resolution that would remove Richards from the commission. It’s my hope that Richards will prevail, because state wildlife commissions need to be filled with people like Richards, and by that I mean hunters and those who view hunting as a wildlife management tool.

Disregarding how it enrages me that agenda-driven activists are seeking to penalize an American for something he has every right to do – in Richards’ s case, traveling to the Northern Rockies to participate in a legal activity, and supporting local economies in doing so – my main concern is the need to retain hunting options for managing wildlife. Mountain lions are not endangered – they are a common, widespread large predator. They must be managed, and Richards gets that.

Why should I, a Wyoming rancher, be concerned about the California game commission? I don’t know Daniel Richards, but I am firmly in his corner. I am terrified about the spread of anti-hunting agenda and how that endangers human life when predators are involved, and keeping people like Richards in positions with decision-making authority for wildlife management is critical to stopping this nonsense.

Changing social attitudes towards predators appear to be one of the factors leading to the increase in predator attacks on humans. Wildlife conservation and preservation campaigns emphasize the need to conserve or save species, but provide little support for actual management and control of predator populations. Increased tolerance for wild animals near humans can cause a chain reaction of a wild animal losing its fear of humans, eventually leading to attacks on their human neighbors.

Animal advocates often promote legislation or ballot initiatives that result in bans or severe restrictions on predator hunting – that’s what’s happened with California’s Proposition 117, which banned lion hunts in California. Regardless of where ballot-box wildlife management is initiated, the result is often the same: a predator population that has lost its fear of humans, and eventually becomes a threat to humans. The areas where most of the fatal predator attacks on humans occur are within or near areas where hunting of predators is not allowed.

California has certainly had its share of mountain lion attacks on humans. Researchers have discovered a pattern of lion behavior that indicates such attacks may be imminent. High mountain lion populations close to urban areas, increases in lion sightings, lions showing little or no fear of humans, lion attacks on pets, and any other pattern of close encounters with humans indicate that there is an increased risk of an attack on humans. Mountain lion experts have determined that most mountain lion attacks on humans are predatory in nature.

Researchers in Canada point out that it is most likely that hunting of mountain lions has helped to significantly reduce interactions between mountain lions and people, but restrictive mountain lion hunting regulations, combined with increasing mountain lion populations, and increases in prey populations, have come with an increase in attacks on humans.

Voters in some states have banned the sport of hunting mountain lions with hounds in attempt to protect the big predators. But such efforts can come with unintended consequences, such as that experienced in Washington after the hound-hunting ban was passed in 1996. State officials found that instead of the selected lion harvest practiced by hunters who used hounds to tree their lions, hunter harvest was much more indiscriminate. Hound-hunters tended to take trophy-sized adult male lions, but hunters harvesting lions on their big-game package tags tended to take any lion they were lucky enough to encounter, so the number of female, reproductive-aged cats increased in the harvest.

Walter Howard of the University of California, Davis, has advocated that mountain lions must be hunted to be managed properly: “Mountain lions are normally quite shy, wary, solitary animals not commonly seen by hikers, hunters, or other people in the mountains. The absolute number of lions present is not very important, for when lions suddenly become very visible … and livestock, dogs, and other domesticated animals are attacked, the lion population has become too abundant.” Howard suggests that in order to show true compassion for lions, wildlife agencies should use licensed hunters as predators to maintain healthy populations of lions in suitable habitat.

Delwin Benson of Colorado State University notes that the historic pursuit and persecution of mountain lions by humans and dogs has helped to reinforce the cat’s secretive and elusive behavior, thus encouraging their desire to keep their distance from humans. Mountain lions that encounter humans with no negative consequences learn to tolerate people, and the lion’s desire to retreat is dulled. Benson suggests mountain lions should be subject to “aversive behavioral conditioning” such as being pursued with hounds to the extent the lion flees, in order to reinforce the lesson that humans are threats and should be avoided. Lions would thereby learn that humans are not intruders, and neither are they prey species.

That’s the kind of lion management I support. And I encourage hunters to come to Wyoming and other states that allow for such lion harvest (and bear harvest, and wolf harvest, etc).

And to Daniel Richards: Hang in there, sir. Some of us really appreciate your efforts.

Added note: The photo I used with this post is of a captive lion. He’s appeared in numerous nature shows. The snowy tundra he’s often filmed in is an Idaho potato field.

Some “Country” Music Videos: Nostalgia and Chills…

Not all “country” music is unsophisticated or even American. Here I give you a bunch of stuff I have been working through and following. Let us start with Tom Russell’s classic “US Steel”— a straight- up traditional country lament complete with sweet pedal steel, but set in Pennsylvania rather than on the border or even Appalachia, full of sad images of decaying industry. I sent it to Marty Stupich, who worked in and documented that mill in the 80’s and now is photographing the abandoned smelter in El Paso, and to Retrieverman in West Virginia, who has been musing on such things. (I also suggested he look at a pre- doctrinaire Steve Earle in the stirring if slightly sinister “Copperhead Road” — a mini- movie with echoes of Thunder Road. Rednecks strike back…)

Which suggested in turn Show of Hands’ poignant “Country Life”. No jobs… no pubs… even in the American west, are we following England down?

The next jump almost leaves the tradition– Show of Hands provides the soundtrack to a traditional, rhyming poem turned strange, a very dark contemporary Christmas tale by Charles Causley, but the images in this version are adopted from Anime! I think it works. Causley changed Herod, the archetype of an arbitrary wicked king, into a more contemporary bogeyman, a sort of supernatural child molester, and put him in the English countryside. SOH gave him a soundtrack that stands at least MY hair on end. And the animator covered all this and added an apocalyptic edge– look at the sky and feel the wind over the line “…melt in a million suns”.

Enough doom! End your tour with “Longdog”, a merry tale of a merry poacher and his lurcher, also by Show of Hands; a hunter- gatherer, a “Municipal Paleolithic Man” in action. If dogs are outlawed only outlaws will have dogs…

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.

Breeder Issues

No; though there will be fun stuff today, I will not stop beating this drum, because it needs saying/ beating.

Jess from DesertWindhounds, in a comment at Retrieverman’s on why “can’t we just all get along?”

“Tell you what. When I stop getting harassed by total strangers for my breeding decisions, we’ll all get along. When people stop making false reports to animal control as a way to intimidate and harass breeders they don’t like, we’ll all get along. When small purebred breeders stop supporting legislation that would make it illegal for me to own an intact mixed breed dog, we’ll all get along. When breeders stop ganging up and plotting to get a man’s dogs away from him for no good reason, we’ll all get along.

“When people stop denying that the science does, yes indeed, show that inbreeding, close breeding, and not breeding enough individuals in the population is bad for the population as a whole, we’ll all get along. When purebred breeders stop denying that statistically, mixed breed dogs are healthier, we’ll all get along. When breeders stop denying there’s something wrong with using popular sires, we’ll all get along.

“When breeders stop acting like total idiots (looking at you, Dal club), we’ll all get along. When breeders stop insisting that a crossbreeding would definitely bring in ‘new diseases’ (gosh, can’t you buy healthy, tested stock in other breeds?), we’ll all get along. When breeders stop confusing genetics involving THEIR dogs as opposed to POPULATION genetics, we’ll all get along.”

Grrrrr… shout it from the rooftops.

Modern Fears

From Schneier on Security: the winning entry in contest he suggested, a litany of modern fears, in the style of the late great Edward Gorey:

The Gashlycrumb Terrors, by Laura

A is for anthrax, so deadly and white.
B is for burglars who break in at night.
C is for cars that, with minds of their own,
accelerate suddenly in a school zone.
D is for dynamite lit with a fuse.
E is for everything we have to lose.
F is for foreigners, different and strange.
G is for gangs and the crimes they arrange.
H is for hand lotion, more than three ounces;
pray some brave agent sees it and pounces.
I is for ingenious criminal plans.
J is for jury-rigged pipe-bombs in vans.
K is for kids who would recklessly play
in playgrounds and parks with their friends every day.
L is for lead in our toys and our food.
M is for Mom’s cavalier attitude.
N is for neighbors — you never can tell:
is that a book club or terrorist cell?
O is for ostrich, with head in the sand.
P is for plots to blow up Disneyland.
Q is for those who would question authorities.
R is for radical sects and minorities.
S is for Satanists, who have been seen
giving kids razor blades on Halloween.
T is for terrorists, by definition.
U is for uncensored acts of sedition.
V is for vigilance, our leaders’ tool,
keeping us safe, both at home and at school.
W is for warnings with colors and levels.
X is for x-raying bags at all revels.
Y is for *you*, my dear daughter or son
Z is for Zero! No tolerance! None!

Don’t ignore the (prolific) original writer- artist either; here is a link to one appropriate work, The Gashlycrumb Tinies: “B is for Basil, eaten by bears”. Betsy, Libby, and I were all separately Gorey fans, and I still have some first editions from Betsy. Peculiar grew up on these as well as outdoor adventure, but I don’t think our odd ideas about children’s lit warped him too much…

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 !!”)

More Idiots– and a Brave Dog

They always exceed your direst fears. The Lady with the Black Dogs sent me this link to a story about how Tesco, the huge British supermarket chain that buys most of New Zealand’s lamb, will no longer allow shepherds to use herding dogs. You couldn’t make it up:

“The supermarket chain has told its major supplier of lamb to stop using dogs, which it claims cause stress to the animals.

It means shepherds at the farm may need to use methods such as beating the ground with sticks and waving their arms to control the flock.”

Oh, THAT should keep them calm.

“Outraged staff at Silver Fern Farms in Fairton, New Zealand may now have to get rid of up to 60 dogs to comply with the orders, meaning several of the animals will be destroyed.

Shepherd Mick Pethram told the Telegraph newspaper: ‘New Zealand sheep are used to dogs, they know dogs.

‘There’s more stress in a human herding and manhandling them, waving their arms and beating sticks. Dogs are part of a sheep’s life. This is absolute baloney.’

He continued: ‘We’ll be desperately trying to sell them, but most of us will end up putting down three or four each.

‘These are good dogs. Taking away our dogs is like taking a hammer away from a builder; we can’t do our job without them.’ “

The worst thing is that these can’t even be vegetarian animal rights-ists– just people so utterly out of touch with the world that they think they can rewrite its rules.

On a vaguely related topic, here is a video of a flock guardian dog somewhere in the east– Bulgaria?– successfully taking down a wolf that attacks his flock. Great peasant celebration afterwards too.