Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts

October 06, 2014

"Someone" Was Living in that Hole

Nine years after the big fire.
Monday we hiked one of our favorite old trails, severely burned over in 2005. That fire was followed by a flash flood the same summer, wiping out parts of the trail, and then came an influx of invasive weeds. The weeds are not so bad now — there is more grass — but you still have to pick your way over trunks of dead trees that have toppled in the intervening years.

More linkage

M. is enough of an animist that of course she would say, "Someone is living in that hole," as opposed to "an animal of some sort." Isn't an animal "someone"? (It's the second item under "Sept. 15.")

Recent severe forest fires in Colorado are not a "departure from the norm," say University of Colorado researchers. " Modern fires in these Front Range forests are not radically different from the fire severity of the region prior to any effects of fire suppression." In other words, we are still feeling the effects of the 1910–present regime of fire suppression.

Bicycle commuting supposedly skyrockets — but in Colorado Springs, it's all about fun, not about going to work. "The Springs is probably the best city along the Front Range for mountain biking," said Tim Halfpop, manager of Old Town Bike Shop on South Tejon Street. "But we're the worst for road riding and getting around town."

The founder of Wiggy's, the low-profile but respected outdoor gear maker in Grand Junction, is promoting lamilite, a continuous-fiber synthelic insulation. I am just re-reading Ernest Hemingway's novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, set in the mid-1930s during the Spanish Civil War, in which the American protagonist, Robert Jordan, extolls the virtues of his eiderdown-insulated "robe," for which he paid $65 — more than $1,000 today, according to one calculator. Makes Wiggy's bags look like a deal.

Rich French diners are still chowing down on endangered birds. It's tradition, you see. "Captured Ortolans are kept and fed heavily for at least three weeks until they resemble a small fat ball. Once they reach a specific weight, the unfortunate birds are drowned in a French liqueur called Armagnac, before being prepared or sold. In France, the price for such a peculiar 'delicacy' easily reaches 150 Euros ($189 US)."

Did I mention that ze artiste Christo has admitted that his plan to hang plastic panels over the Arkansas River is "at a standstill"? No doubt some art auction house will sell copies of his legal filings. It's all conceptual, you see.

March 30, 2014

Blog Stew Must Have Chile Peppers

¶ Oh no! New Mexico chile production is falling. Pueblo County will just have to take up the slack.

¶ I doubt that Timothy Bal of Belle Mead, N.J., would want to rent our vacation cabin.

How the Humane Society of the United States invests its millions. Note that there is nothing here about helping animals.
Since I work around the corner from HSUS, I know exactly what their headquarters building looks like, and I have some idea of what they know about their core business (direct mail). Suffice it to say that they have screwed that last one up so badly that they are now facing a court-approved RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuit – the same one the ASPCA has already paid $9.2 million to settle.
Where does the money go? Into more direct-mail campaigns to raise more money. They call that "celebrating animals, confronting cruelty," but you can call it offshore banking. 

May 03, 2013

Bring Back the Shasta Ground Sloth!?

The conference on re-creating extinct species that that Chris Clarke was blogging has come and gone, but there is still good stuff at the link.

I, for one, would happily contribute to a Kickstarter campaign to bring back ground sloths. Of course, they would want all of our avocados.

March 29, 2013

Thinning the Blog Stew

Trees burned in the 2010 Schultz fire. Image: Flickr/Coconino National Forest
• Coloradans: your fishing licenses expire on Sunday. And big-game hunting applications are due Tuesday night. Time to make some choices!

• A piece from the Colorado Springs Gazette's blog on Colorado's official sport of burro-racing with quotes from Hal Walter. You will find his too-occasional blogs in the sidebar: Farm Beet and Hardscrabble Times.

Scientific American describes big forest-thinning projects in the White Mountains of Arizona.
The Forest Service hired Pioneer Forest Products last May to cut and process the trees from the thinned forests. Pioneer will recycle the small-diameter timber into wood products -- for cabinetry, for example -- and wood laminate. Nearly 40 percent will be feedstock for a 30-million-gallon-per-year biodiesel plant run by Western Energy Solutions/Concord Blue USA. The processing plant in Winslow, Ariz., will employ about 500 people. The firm is still waiting to receive financing to begin operations in a budget-strained environment, said Marlin Johnson, a consultant for Pioneer.

October 01, 2012

Blog Stew at the Hot Springs

Bathing at Pagosa Springs, Colorado. See third link below.
•  I did not know it at the time, but I spent most of my childhood in the "state of Absoroka," one of twelve proposed states that never formally existed. "Jefferson," the one in northern California-southern Oregon, came close to formation in 1941 and still lives on in the hearts of some.

•  Despite campaigns against it, fashion designers are returning to fur. Some are conflicted:
Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet, herself a vegan, wears fur and uses it in her collection. "It doesn't make sense," she once admitted. "Something about putting it inside me [sic] feels really barbaric. Something about wearing it just feels a little glamorous."

 • Peruse some photos taken 150 years ago in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico,  and Utah.

August 07, 2012

Blog Stew with Ingredients that You Don't Want to Know About

Off-topic but fascinating. Sewer-diving in Mexico City (with video). Sewer-cleaning the "fatbergs"  in London (with video). More sewer history.  The good old days of scavenging in sewers.

The Humane Society of the United States is sued for racketeering and other issues.

District judge Emmet G. Sullivan did dismiss allegations of mail and wire fraud, but he did so only because Feld didn't have standing to file this charge. His ruling all but set the stage for a class-action RICO lawsuit against HSUS for misrepresenting itself in its fundraising campaigns across the nation. This lawsuit easily could bankrupt HSUS, put it out of business and send some of its top executives to prison.
Funny, isn't it, that you have to go to a blogger to hear about this.

Ze artiste Christo has pushed back the construction of "Over the River" yet again. Tourism-industry types are dismayed, try to find silver lining.

I understand the argument that asks how pristine is a canyon with a highway(US 50) and a railroad in it already. But I do think that the Bureau of Land Management should have restricted OTR to the stretch between Texas Creek and Parkdale, because if there are highway blockages — and there will be — one could detour around on Colorado highways 96 and 69.

Upstream of Texas Creek, there are no detours, except very long, twisty, gravel roads through the mountains such as Fremont County Road 2 or an even longer highway detour up to Hartsel and Antero Junction.

It doesn't take much to close US 50 now: a little roadside fire, a car going into the river, a truck hitting a bridge abutment — I have seen all of these.

• Oh yes, and this: tracking coyotes with GPS collars in urban Chicago.

May 06, 2012

A Documentary of the Dreamtime

I own the book. I have now watched the film. I realize that I am unlikely to ever see the cave.

(Maybe the last is all right, because it spares me the experience that you, too, may have had of finally visiting some famous site and reacting, "I thought it would be bigger!")

Detail from the panel of horses at Chauvet Cave.
How could some Aurignacian-period hunter, shouldering his haunch of horse meat, imagine that future people would look back on his era while thinking, "That was the real time."

I look at those pictures with a quasi-religious awe. Some scholars apparently think that one artist did the best stuff, such as the panel of horses, but even the lesser work shows a sure hand. It is not scribbled or cartoonish.

The question remains  —  how did Old Master-quality drawing skills seemingly just pop up c. 30,000 years ago?

And biologically accurate too. 

Where is the student work? Drawn on rock surfaces outdoors, where it long since washed away?

(Rethinking that statement a day later — perhaps the filmmakers and still photographers give us a false idea by focusing on the best work. Consider this from an article in Natural History: " In some cases, we see a sophisticated, realistic painting next to a rather crude sketch, perhaps a copy of the original by an apprentice.")

The easy walk-in entrance to the cave was erased by a rockslide about 20,000 years ago, and then the cave sat sealed, dark, and damp, growing its formations, until three French cavers found it in 1994 So it was visited sporadically for ten thousand years, the carbon-dating suggests.

Ten thousand years. Ten thousand years when the world was, in a sense, intact. Ten thousand years outside of history—shared with large animals. 

Even if it was a world where you had to watch for cave bears, wolves. and lions and where if you made it to forty, people probably called you “Old-Timer,” it was a world that made sense to its inhabitants.

As director Werner Herzog muses, we are locked into history, but they were not. Hence my borrowing of the term "Dreamtime" for when they lived.

March 15, 2012

Pleistocene Park, continued

The Pleistocene, when men were men and mammoth bones framed your house.
(Mammoth Site museum, Hot Springs, South Dakota)
Russian and Korean scientists are moving ahead with a plan not to breed mammoths exactly, but to inject mammoth DNA into elephant eggs and then implant the eggs in female Indian elephants. 
Mammoth remains were uncovered in thawed Siberian permafrost, and scientists around the world have been trying to extract DNA from the remains. Previously, paleobiologists were able to reproduce mammoth blood protein, and Japanese researchers want to resurrect the mammoth within five years. This new project will move forward if the Russian institution, the North-Eastern Federal University of the Sakha Republic, can ship its mammoth remains to the Koreans.
I reckon that the Russians are thinking "Pleistocene Park tourist attraction" while the Koreans . . . will do anything—or at least Hwang Woo-Suk will. Jeju Island might make a good Pleistocene Park, come to think of it.

But since mammoths used to roam the American Southwest, I think that if successfully recreated or hybridized, they should be released into the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Lots of different habitats there, and I like the idea of them splashing through Médano Creek.

December 01, 2011

Obama Administration Lifts Horse-Slaughter Ban

President Obama recently signed a law ending the ban on horse-slaughter plants.
A June report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress‘ chief investigative branch, said the ban depressed prices for horses in the U.S. and led to a surge in reports of neglect or abuse as owners of older horses had no way of disposing of them, short of selling them to “foreign slaughtering facilities where U.S. humane slaughtering protections do not apply.”
The usual suspects are upset.
A bill to ban horse slaughter and export of horses for slaughter has been introduced in the House and Senate, and the Humane Society of the United States said it would redouble its efforts to try to enact that legislation.
Simply, there are more horses in the United States than people want. I have heard of livestock auctions imposing additional fees on people wanting to sell horses, because your average saddle horse does not sell for very much — if it sells at all.

Horse-rescue operations can take only a few of the unwanted animals.

Meanwhile, despite its much-touted adoption programs, the BLM is feeding and storing hundreds of wild horses in corrals away from the public gaze, as I blogged in 2008. Your tax dollars at work.

Still the HSUS plays the cultural-taboo card, together with a little fashionable France-bashing:
Michael Markarian, who oversees the Humane Society Legislative Fund, which lobbies for animal protections, said any state that allows a horse-slaughter plant to open will face pressure.

“People will not be happy about their community potentially bringing in one of these plants,” he said. “Americans don’t eat horses, and don’t want them butchered and shrink-wrapped and sent to France or Japan as a delicacy.”
Because all the feasible alternatives, like letting them starve, are so much better.

Related — if you want to move to the theoretical — an article on meat taboos with an interesting response from Boria Sax.

November 03, 2011

How the Humane Society of the US Does Not Help Animals

It's too busy managing its investments.

From the New York Post:
HSUS's advertisements employ the images of downtrodden dogs and cats to tug at the heart strings and wallets of America's pet lovers. But CCF's new analysis finds HSUS is a "Humane Society" in name only, sharing a meager $527,566, or 0.4 percent of its $120 million budget with sheltering organizations nationwide in 2010. In the same year, HSUS spent $47 million in fundraising-related costs (37 percent of its total budget) and put $32 million in hedge funds.
Yep. $32,000,000 in hedge funds. That's where your donation goes, if you are uninformed enough to give HSUS your hard-earned dollars.

April 26, 2011

Blog Stew with White Whine

• Do people really say this? I thought it was just an urban legend. From the meta-social media site White Wine, found via the meta-meta social-media site Social Media Bitch.

• Leroy and Darryl turn nature videographers and capture an epic battle.

• What happens when today's distance runners try "persistance hunting," Bushman style.

Blind cave cockatoos were formerly found in a Massachusetts zoo—one of several amazing zoo stories at Querencia. 

Another amazing zoo story, but only in an ironic way. "What is so scary about bunnies?"

Too Often, a Horse is Worth Nothing

Farmer-writer Frank James explains the obvious about why there are so many unwanted horses and problems with neglected horses.
Horses essentially have no financial value.  A recent column by Cyndi Young-Puyear in the Indiana AgriNews explains how most sale barns will no longer accept horses or ponies without a minimum fee.  That's because they know the animal is NOT going to sell and they want to be paid for their services.  These minimum fees run from $35 to $65 when any of the animals in question rarely bring more than $5 to $10 apiece.

It's pretty simple really when you think about it.  WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH A HORSE WHEN NO ONE WANTS IT?  OR CAN EVEN AFFORD IT?
All my life in the West, I have seen more horses owned for their . . . talismanic value, you might call it . . . than for any real purpose. They end up standing day after day in little pens and paddocks.

April 23, 2011

HSUS Caught Fudging Membership Figures

Patrick Burns, who knows something about direct-mail and lobbying, describes how the Humane Society of the United States lies about its membership numbers.

So where does that 11 million number come from which the HSUS features so prominently on its web site?  

It's a complete untruth. A magical fabrication.  A fantastic fraud. 

It's a LIE.  Eleven million is not even in the same time zone as the truth.

So why lie?  What's that all about?

Simple:  Lying is how the Humane Society of the U.S. claims unearned political power

Documentation is at the link.

July 13, 2010

A Uniquely Colorado Sport on Film

Over at Hardscrabble Times, Hal Walter mentions his appearance in Haulin' Ass, a documentary about the uniquely Colorado summer sport of pack burro racing.

He himself appears at about the 50-second mark.

A fairly small pool of male and female athletes not only run multi-mile courses at high altitude, but they do it while leading members of the species Equus africanus asinus.

In a nod to the donkey's role in old-time prospecting, each animal carries a pared-down version of a prospector's equipment kit.

The donkey cannot be ridden, it should go without saying.

Sometimes this partner goes along with the plan, and sometimes not. Many times the lead in a race has changed because one runner's four-footed partner suddenly decides against crossing a bridge, for example.

November 12, 2009

The Turkey in Union Station

Walking toward our eastbound train at Chicago's Union Station one evening last week, I saw people pointing at something on the train tracks, below the platform.

I looked. It was a wild turkey, very dead. And very out of place in downtown Chicago.

Then I put some things together.

M. and I had arrived on the Southwest Chief, on that set of tracks, about four hours earlier.

We had seen wild turkeys from the window several times in Kansas and Missouri.

One of them must have flown too late, like the turkeys back home that Shelby the collie chased, not taking to the air until her nose was practically touching their tail feathers.

It was gone today, of course. Someone probably tossed it in the trash.

But when your train enters the long underground train shed, you pass through a dim and sooty passage where I always expect to see rats the size of spaniels scurrying along, not to mention hypothetical asphalt-adapted coyotes.

I imagine one of the above, squinting against the bright lights closer to the station, scurrying out of the shadows to snatch up this unexpected bounty, larger than the usual city pigeons.

But most of my thinking about roadkill is about how casual we are about creating environments that kill animals.

Some people at least eat what they (or others) kill. I have done that too. It makes the equation feel a little more balanced, but only for you yourself.

October 23, 2009

Blog Stew with Software Skulls

• Trainer killed by ice-skating bear. Because putting bears on ice skates is still a hoot in the former Soviet Union.

• The amazing survival of a coyote. Driver Daniel East, however, not only did not care to check on the coyote, he did not even check his car for radiator leaks, etc. He and sister Tevyn had more important stuff on their minds:  they were on their way to join a community of artists.

•  "Crash-testing" skulls: Video summarizes research on using architectural modeling software to model animal skulls and to see the impact when an animal kills its prey.

March 01, 2009

Blog Stew with Thunder Snow Sprinkles

¶ The Colorado Division of Wildlife advises that you think about mountain lions when landscaping. The only problem is that if you took all their recommendations, your grounds would look like a Wal-Mart parking lot.

¶ An undercover operative in a British animal-rights group tells his story. And you thought beagles were trustworthy. He was accepted by the ALF types after he video'd himself vandalizing a car, which tells you something about the group.

¶ At the Nature of a Man blog, a series on animal tracks in the snow.

¶ If I did not know from the Associated Press that it was snowing in the South, I could tell from my visitor logs: three hits from Georgia and one from Alabama from people Googling "thunder snow." (It has happened before.)

March 29, 2008

PETA Threatens Bloggers, Journalists

That the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) kills most of the animals that it takes into its shelters is becoming common knowledge.

PETA's response, apparently, is to threaten legal action against columnists and bloggers who draw attention to that fact.

Patrick Burns, among others, has the statistics. He notes that under Virginia law (where PETA is based), "PETA's license is to run an animal shelter or humane society rather than a slaughter house."

January 08, 2008

The Church of Animal Rights

Mary Scriver muses on the churchiness of animal-rights groups, particularly the Humane Society of the United States:

If the Humane Society of the United States were a religious institution, which it very nearly is, preaching the doctrine of compassion and the horror of cruelty, it would not be a mainstream denomination because it has no actual churches (shelters). . . . However, the minister --er, President Emeritus -- John Hoyt IS or was a Presbyterian minister who found the perks and income much nicer with HSUS.