A Familiar Place…

The road runs straight south from the ancient city of Sanliurfa in Turkey (actually “Urfa”– the title is a post- Ataturk designation) to a border, or, in our fraught times, perhaps, a BORDER, like our southern one.

 The land is almost flat, dry, but productive since the dam on the Euphrates, which drowned may old villages, allowed irrigated winter wheat to be grown. The drowned villages have been rebuilt. The people of the countryside are Kurds rather than Anatolians, with a leavening of Arabs near the border.

They are contentious, argumentative, overwhelmingly hospitable (one thing they do is continually roll you cigarettes; once I had one behind each ear I HAD to smoke, but sweet Turkish tobacco is not that bad). They drink endless coffee and not very hidden “raki”, the anise- flavored local vodka. One reason they do not have all that much visible alcohol is not Islamic; booze in Turkey is a state project, which means the Kurds would have to  buy it from a government they do not love, but I ordered and drank it every night in our hotel.

That road runs into Syria about thirty miles south of the city. On the other side… well, go west 40 more miles or so, turn left, and you can watch the seige of Kobani.

The people in Urfa fly pigeons; Turkey is the most pigeon- fancying nation in the world. Urfa is the only city I have stayed in that has large art- photo portraits of pigeons, signed by the photographer, in the lobby of its most prestigious luxury hotel. This one is a Reehani dewlap, with the inked label saying “Urfa Guvercin”– simply “Urfa Pigeon”.

In the countryside, people hunt, with gun and tazi and hawk.

They have flock guardian dogs too, though it is best to get back in the car if they get too close. This one was already starting towards me.

It can be a lot like here. I have often teased people with this next one, asking what part of New Mexico it was taken in. Most think maybe Taos though some go for Rio Arriba county.

There will be more. Strange how knowing a place just a bit makes your perspective so vivid…


At Atomic Nerds, LabRat has a fascinating post on dogs and the sense of “self” :

“We used to assume no animal but humans had a sense of humor, until we thought to thoroughly test that assumption, and we found otherwise. We used to think no other animal used tools, until we looked and found multiple examples. We used to think no other animals had culture, until we looked and found multiple examples across many intelligent and social, but otherwise unrelated species. (Obviously not culture as in Shinto and opera, but behaviors, innovations, and mannerisms that varied with local groups.) If the argument I’ve made suggests that other animals than dogs, perhaps some that are actually less intelligent, have a sense of self… well, I’m really not all that convinced we’ve looked all that well.”

RTWT of course.

If you have a team of falcons you may be able to get a paid trip to Afghanistan.

Anne Price sent this link to serious wolf hunting with eagles. Not for the faint- hearted.

The politically correct set in England want to ban all Latin usage in English, including “et cetera”. One proponent is worried that non- native English speakers might mistake “e. g.” for “egg.”

Lord Whimsy goes mushroom hunting in the temperate rain forests of Washington, here and here.


Maybe– 2 1/2?– cheers for the Heller decision. A lot of people still want to load it with enough restrictions to make it meaningless, but at least the principle is affirmed.

Funny how so many people want the WRONG interpretation to be kept– even though most scholarly opinion, including that of such honest liberals as Laurence Tribe, affirms “originalist “intent.

Stingray of the Nerds has a more rigorous take here. I’,m inclined to agree, with LabRat’s caveat about violent felons.

Lots on deck, from lizard pix to Albanian warrior virgins to bird phylogeny, soon…


A wonderful ancient sculpture.

All- female lizard clone species. Several of these are common in the Magdalena area.

Terrierman talks about veterinarian bill- padding, kickbacks etc
. Luckily ours is an old- fashioned ranch woman– but I have seen both the demand for pre- op bloodwork and the referral kickback.

Did a comet contribute to the Pleistocene extinctions? It looks more complicated all the time. HT Chas.

The Swedish army castrates its heraldic lion. So why does it leave the mane on?

Could the founders have been any more explicit about the Second amendment?

Stuffed roadkill toys are almost too weird. HT Laura Niven.

Dog armor. Chas again. He suggests chain mail for tazis.

A book about how to build toy guns and projectile launchers out of Legos has become a surprise best- seller.

A new organization to fight for sporting dog owners. HT Michael Spies.

Pluvialis has a good review of the not- very- good Golden Compass here. Saved me a few bucks– it was the best of the books, with its cold Oxford and colder North, but if they can’t give me good daemons I’m not going! She also links to a surprisingly affable discussion between Pullman and a Christian film critic– surprising because I thought he would be more like the irritating “smug” Dawkins (“smug” as counterpart to the Dawkins- Dennet “bright”.)

(And yes, Dawkins is a great writer on biology. I just wish he would follow the advice of his predecessor Huxley (in his debate with Ussher) when venturing out of comfortable territory.)