Friday, December 09, 2016

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and His Dog, Trap

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his dog Trap,  Longfellow said Trap, a Scotch terrier of a type common before the Kennel Club ruined the breed, was the "last and greatest of all the dogs."

Fish On Friday

Wolf Fish Skull.  The process for fleshing and re-assembly is explained here.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Buy the STUFF First, Not the Dog

Christmas Surprise, 1955

Dogs are very bad Christmas gifts -- it a time of too much chaos, too many ornaments to eat, too much impulse buying, too many relatives, and not enough planning.

And remember, you are you are not getting a puppy -- you are getting a DOG, and a lifetime obligation that will never stop needs time, attention, and money.

Instead of buying a puppy, go to a pet store and buy all the stuff you will need for the dog: 2-3 leashes, an expanding collar, a set of engraved slide tags, at least two crates, dog food, brushes, dog chews, shampoo, a dog bed, a book or two on dog training, a training cot, and a big lump of money for fencing, vaccines, and checkups.

Then, after Christmas, start going through Pet Finder to find the perfect "rescue" dog.

A Defective Breed Created at a Dog Show

It's often been said that Kennel Club breeders are trying to "breed to a picture."

Nowhere is that more true than in the case of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a breed cobbled up in the 1920s and 30s to "recreate" the type of lap dog seen in the oil paintings of aristocrats painted by Titian, van Dyck, Stubbs, and Gainsborough.

While owners of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels like to wrap themselves up in the pretension of having an ancient breed related to British royalty, this particular dog was in fact created in the late 1920s and 30s at the Crufts Dog Show.

This is not to say that small spaniels did not exist back in Tudor times and even before. They certainly did.

In fact, lap dogs are among the oldest canine breeds, and the crossing of small terriers and spaniels to make lap dogs has probably been going on right from the beginning.

What is incontestable is that by the early 20th century, the so-called "King Charles Spaniel" (now known as the English Toy Spaniel in both the U.S. and Canada) no longer resembled the dogs seen in 16th and 17th Century paintings.

The modern dogs had a shorter face and domed heads.

Where did these domed heads and flat faces come from? The flat face, it is conjectured, came from mating King Charles Spaniels' with Pugs and Japanese Chins. The domed head, no doubt, is caused by simply breeding the dogs too small, forcing the brain of the dog to push up the skull -- a common feature found in many toy breeds.

Though most Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed histories claim an old uncorrupted line of the original dog never died out and "was kept at Blenheim Palace, home to the Dukes of Marlborough," this is nonsense. By the turn of the 20th Century, the original-looking dog was so extinct that not a single example of a proper-looking long-faced and flat-skulled "old type" King Charles Spaniel could be found!

In the 1920s, an American by the name of Roswell Eldridge decided to recreate the dog he saw in the old paintings, and he went so far as to print up a flyer and offer a cash award at Crufts for any King Charles Spaniel "of the old-fashioned type" which had a longer muzzle, a flatter skull, and a spot in the middle of the crown of its head.

No dog was forthcoming, and the award remained unclaimed for five years before either a "throwback" or an incorrect King Charles Spaniel (depending on who is telling the story) was presented in 1928 to claim the prize.

This dog was "Ann's Son," a dog owned by Miss Mostyn Walker. Unfortunately Roswell Eldridge had died three months earlier, and so he never saw the object of his desire.

Nonetheless, energized by the prize and the romance of a dog that "looked like those in the van Dyck paintings," a breed name, standard and a club were formed on the spot.

The goal was to "preserve" the breed. Of course, the "breed" consisted of just one dog!

No matter. A course was set, and Ann's Son was soon cross-bred with King Charles Spaniels which, while not perfect examples of the hope-for breed, had faces too long and heads that were too flat to do well in the ring.

By simply breeding "rejects with the right features" to each other, a back breeding program was created and the gene pool of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was expanded from one to some.

Slowly, things moved forward, and over several decades the dog's general form was stabilized.

In 1945 the Kennel Club (UK) granted separate registration for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (the "cavalier" monicker was added to differentiate the dogs from the shorter-faced King Charles Spaniel), and in 1952 the first dogs came to the U.S.

In 1954, Mrs. W. L. (Sally) Lyons Brown of Kentucky formed the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of the USA with the idea of keeping a stud book and eventually getting the dog into the American Kennel Club.

The AKC admitted the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel into its "Miscellaneous" class in 1962, and accepted the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of the USA as the official breed club and registering body at that time.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of the USA applied several times for full Kennel Club recognition, but was rejected each time, and after a number of years the CKCSC-USA simply decided to move forward without the AKC, creating its own stud book, establishing its own show system, and adopting its own code of ethics. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel remained in the "miscellaneous" class of the AKC, but this was mostly done to allow those interested in obedience trials to compete in that venue.

Members of the the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of the USA developed their own culture outside of that of the American Kennel Club, and that culture put a significant premium on their own lengthy code of ethics, which members had to agree to in order to join the club and register their dogs.

This code of ethics stated that "the welfare of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed is of paramount importance. It supersedes any other commitment to Cavaliers, whether that be personal, competitive, or financial."

The code of ethics went on to say that members of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of the USA agreed to not sell dogs to pet shops, agreed to NOT breed bitches before 12 months of age or after age eight, and agreed to never allow a bitch to carry to term and rear more than six litters in her lifetime.

Finally, the breed club's code of ethics noted that "These exists a constant danger that ignorant or disreputable breeders may, by improper practices, produce physically, mentally or temperamentally unsound specimen to the detriment of the breed" and requested that members of the Club consult with other breeders in the club before a mating and to never breed "from or to any Cavalier known to me to have a disqualifying, or disabling health defect."

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of the USA prospered as an independent registry, with slow but steady growth in it membership. In 1992, however, the American Kennel Club decided that it wanted to clear out breeds that had been in the "miscellaneous" class for many years, and they asked the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of the USA to become the breed club.

There was one caveat, however: The Cavalier King Charles Club Spaniel Club of the USA could NOT make acceptance of a ban on selling dogs to pet stores a prerequisite for dog registration. Nor could they require that breeders avoid knowingly crossing dogs with inheritable disqualifying or disabling defects. If the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of the USA wanted to be the AKC's breed club, they would have to jettison their code of ethics and conform to the AKC's rules which said any dog could and would be registered provided it paid a fee to the AKC and could claim descent from a previously registered AKC dog and dam.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club USA declined to join the AKC as the parent club of their breed, and so the AKC reached out to a small set of breeders who were a little less ethical and a little more rosette- and cash-hungry. These breeders formed the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, and this club was waved into the AKC in 1995.

What happened next?

The short story is that Cavalier King Charles Spaniel registrations shot through the roof.

As the AKC's own web site notes, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were "among the biggest movers" in the last 10 years with a 406% increase in registrations. In fact, Cavalier King Charles spaniel registrations are up 800 percent from what they were 14 years ago, and the Cavalier is now the 25th most popular breed in the AKC (up from 70th 1997) out of a list of 157 breeds in all.

And what has happened to the quality of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

As could be predicted, it has fallen through the floor.

A breed with an already bottle-necked gene pool due to its peculiar history and recent origin, was further choked down in 1995 when the AKC recruited a small subset of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owners to serve as the foundation stock of their new breed club.

The small number of dogs owned by these breeders is as wide as the gene pool of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is ever going to get in the AKC.

And because so many small AKC dogs come from puppy mill situations where sires may be used hundreds of time, and dams may be pregnant nearly all their lives, the gene pool of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (never strong to begin with) has contracted very rapidly.

In fact, a close reading of the excellent web site leaves one concluding that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels has been reduced to a genetic basket case, with every Cavalier bloodline infected with at least one of the following genetic defects:

  • Heart mitral valve disease (MVD) is a terminal illness which afflicts over half of all Cavalier King Charles spaniels by the age of 5 years and nearly all Cavaliers by age 10 years. It is CKCSs' leading cause of death, killing over 50% of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. >> To read more

  • Syringomyelia (SM) is reported to be "very widespread" in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel breed. Syringomyelia is a disorder of the brain and spinal cord, which may cause severe head and neck pain and possible paralysis. >> To read more
  • Hip dysplasia is reported in a significant percentage of Cavalier King Charles spaniels. It is a genetic disease which can cause the dog pain and debilitation, and be expensive to remedy. >> To read more
  • Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS) -- Because the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a short muzzle and a small head, it often has serious breathing problems. Elongated soft palates, stenotic nares, everted laryngeal saccules, and laryngeal collapse are other inherited developmental defects in the breed. >> To read more
  • Luxating Patellas (slipping knees) are are a genetic condition believed to affect 20% to 30% of Cavalier King Charles spaniels. If the condition is not corrected, it can degenerate, with the dog becoming progressively more lame. >> To read more
  • Hereditary eye disease has become widespread in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. A study of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels conducted by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation in 1989 showed that an average of 30% of all Cavaliers evaluated had eye problems. To read more

Fox Terrier in a Kennel

By Samuel Fulton (British, 1855–1941). Born in 1855 in Glasgow, Scotland, and the son of a baker, Samuel Fulton was educated at the Free Church Normal School and the High School, and joined his father's baking business first as an apprentice and then as a journeyman. Though fond of drawing, he did not start painting until age 24.

Antler Growth

Throw Back Thursday

This was a month-long trip through Europe in a VW Camper with by brother and folks.  I think this would have been 1969 or 70, so I would have been  about 10, and we were living in Morocco at the time and on our way to Algeria in a year or two.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Coffee and Provocation

Bees of the Sea
Scientists have discovered that aquatic plants get pollinated by sea creatures -- tiny marine invertebrates that swarm seagrass beds -- that function similar to bees.

The Continuing Crisis
Gassy German cows blamed for barn explosion.

Dog Themed Rolling Pin for Christmas?
We have a new kitchen. I think we need this!

A Job No American Would Do?
Donald Trump's Department of Labor transition team pick is a foreign labor executive who's brought "over 40,000" cheap workers to the USA. "Veronica Birkenstock is Practical Employee Solutions, a company that boasts of having brought 'over 40,000' cheap H-2B workers from 80 countries to the USA to work in 'hospitality, landscaping, welding, and construction' for companies like Marriott and Starwood Hotels, for whom it is the 'preferred vendor'."

Genius Investment at Work
Three wind turbines installed at a cost of $107,516 in a Washington park are expected to generate $1.50 in electricity each month.

Tom Swift's Electric Rifle
Taser is an acronym for “Thomas Swift's Electric Rifle.” Inventor Jack Cover added the “A” to make the device easier to pronounce.

A Dawn Chorus on the Reef?
Fish sing a dawn chorus on the reef, just like birds do in the hedge.

Do Not Ask for Whom the Bell Tolls
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the oldest manufacturing company in Britain, may be about to close. Officially founded in 1570, it actually has had an unbroken line of master bellmakers dating back to 1420. The company cast the bells for both Big Ben, and the Liberty Bell.

From Pearl Harbor to a Robot Economy

Pearl Harbor, USS Virginia

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, but if you ask a dozen people why Japan bombed Pearl Harbor back in 1941, not one will give you a complete answer.

Here's the short story: Too many people.

The entire War in the Pacific was initiated by overpopulation.

There is no "beginning" to this story, but suffice it to say that Japan was a very isolated country up until the late 19th Century. With the arrival of western influence, Japan began to change and demand for "western" goods such as steel and oil, skyrocketed.

So too did population.

In 1870, Japan's population was estimated to be 33 million. By 1900 it was about 45 million, and by 1930 it was over 64 million. An island nation, Japan's economy and social systems were beginning to show real stress by the second decade of the 20th Century. A key issue was lack of farm land.

Large rural families needed more land to support new families, but new land was simply not available. At the same time, rising urbanization created a new and rapidly growing demand for oil, coal, iron and steel -- commodities Japan had very little of.

Looking across a short stretch of ocean, the Japanese saw a vast amount of farm land and raw resources in northern China. In 1931 Japan invaded that region -- Manchuria -- in order to satisfy their "shortage" of resources which, in reality, was a "longage" of human population.

Japan's invasion of Manchuria led to a U.S. threat of an oil blockade of the island nation. This threat of an oil blockade led to the Japanese "first strike" at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

World War II is a long story, but the short version is that we won.  Japan had to give up its land grabs in Manchuria, Korea, the Philippines, and elsewhere.

After the defeat of Japan, Gen. Douglas MacArthur encouraged the development of new laws in Japan, including laws to allow women to vote and to hold elective office. In addition, he encouraged the amendment of Japan's pre-World War II pro-natalist law so that it now legalized abortion (which remained illegal in the U.S. until 1973).

Why did MacArthur and the Occupation Forces turn Japan's old "pro-natalist" law into a "pro-choice" law?

Basically, because they understood the causal origins of World War II in the Pacific.

Japan's overpopulation (or over-shoot of its resource base) was seen as a core issue of geo-political consequence. Slowing Japan's rapid population growth rate was, therefore, at the top of both the national and the global agenda. As one Japanese web site (written in semi-fractured English) notes: "How to popularize family planning became the No.1 policy in health care of postwar Japan ..."

With the end of WWII Japan switched from being a pro-natalist country to being a country that was interested in slowing population growth.

After the death and carnage of World War II, no one in Japan needed too much encouragement to consider voluntary family planning as an alternative worthy of consideration and support.

How did fertility fall so quickly in Japan? The mechanics were simple and effective, if not particularly modern or enlightened: Condoms and abortion. To this day, these are the primary birth control options available to Japanese women. Though Japan is on the cutting edge of electronics, they are in the Dark Ages when it comes to contraception. Low-dose oral contraceptives, medicated IUDs, injectables and implants were still not legal in Japan as of 2004, and the diaphragm is no longer produced there due to lack of demand. High-dosage pills and the copper IUD were only approved in Japan in 1999.

Despite the lack of contraceptive options, the Japanese saw rapid and amazing reductions in fertility after 1945. While the rest of the world experienced a Baby Boom, Japan saws its total fertility rate (TFR) fall from over four to two in the space of just 15 years -- a phenomenal rate of reduction even by today's standards.

One factor driving fertility reduction was later age at marriage. Another factor -- too often overlooked -- was crippling poverty after the War. Japan in the late 1940s and 1950s was a miserable place, and few people could afford to have the large families they did prior to World War II.

The real driver of fertility reduction in Japan, however, was a desire for peace and prosperity. While prior to WWII large families had been seen as a source of prestige and economic growth, afterwards they were seen as destructive to the long-term peace and economic self-sufficiency of the nation.

Japan's new small-family ethic was fueled by both central government and local Government commitment to the goal of slowing pre-war rates of human population growth. A system of midwives, nurses, family planning clinics and doctors was put in place and it took root with assistance from the Family Planning Federation of Japan (FPFJ) and the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA).

While very wide, Japan's family planning program was not very deep. Despite a post-war interest in reducing the number of births, Japan has never really subscribed to what we in the U.S. think of as a "comprehensive" family planning program. Sex education in schools was (and still is) poor, and access to a full range of modern contraceptive choices was (and still is) very limited. In the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, the only "modern" contraceptive option was the condom. Though effective most of the time, the condom is not a perfect contraceptive vehicle. To be precise, condoms have a per-use failure rate of about 3%, which means even with "perfect use" the contraceptive device fails about 3 times a year on average (yep, 100 times a year is "average" according to the people that count these things).

In actuality, of course, we do not live in a perfect world with perfect and consistent humans. Due to inconsistent product usage (i.e. situational nonuse) the "real world" pregnancy rate for couples using only condoms is somewhere between 10 to 15 percent (numbers vary depending on the study).

Bottom line: There were (and are) quite a lot of abortions in Japan.

In 1996 the pre-World War II law was further amended and it is now called the "Mother's Body Protection Law" and remains the principle family planning law of Japan.

Today, Japan's total fertility rate is 1.4, one of the lowest in the world.

While Japan's fertility rate fell rapidly after WWII, and reached below-replacement levels by 1970, the nation's absolute population continued to grow. A population that had topped 64 million by 1930 was over 83 million by 1950, was over 103 million by 1970, and was over 123 million by 1990.

The good news is that Japan's population has very nearly topped out. The bad news is that it took 45 years AFTER it hit replacement level fertility (and then went far below it) to achieve this goal. And this is in a country with essentially zero immigration.

Today, across the world, the effect of Japan's post-World War II population growth is felt in the form of massive factory-like fishing fleets that prowl the world's oceans to feed that nation.

In the Southern U.S., massive chip mills pulp our forests to supply pulp for Japanese paper and wood-strand mills.

Forests in Burma, Indonesia, and Vietnam are being chainsawed to supply plywood. Around the world chainsaws and oil derricks crank out product going to a nation that had already "overshot" its resource base by 1931 -- and whose population has doubled since then.

While Japanese fertility declines have yet to translate into a smaller population size (I doubt Japan will ever return to a population small enough that it can actually live within the "carrying capacity" of the nation itself) a great deal of "Global Good" has come out of its lower fertility rates.

One bit of "good news" for Japan and the world was a tightening of labor markets that began to occur in Japan in the late 1970s as the low-fertility rates of the early 1950s moved their way up the population pyramid. As wages of entry-level workers began to rise in Japan due to labor market constraints, Japanese businesses began to export capital overseas in order to take advantage of lower-wage labor pools in developing countries (much as many U.S. businesses are doing today). Much of the "miracle" economic growth of South Korea was, in fact, abetted by Japanese money going overseas due to fertility declines in Japan that had begun 20 and 30 years earlier.

Japanese investment in Korea's economy, in turn, helped improve the status of women there and helped speed urbanization, which in turn helped to reduce fertility rates in that nation.

The same labor market constraints that drove some Japanese businesses to export capital in order to find cheaper labor drove other Japanese companies to automate. Today, Japanese industry has more robots and complex automation systems in place than any other country in the world -- one reason that both Japanese productivity and quality remain quite high.

Are there lessons here for the rest of the world? I think so.

Though far less pronounced than Japan's labor market contractions (due to a very long Baby Boom, higher domestic fertility, and high rates of international immigration here in the U.S.), U.S. capital movements to Mexico and other nations seem to be doing for these nations what Japan's money did for Korea (albeit at a slower rate due to increased diffusion of our capital over a larger area).

At the same time, the very same labor market forces that worked to push automation in Japan are doing the same here at home where timber, steel, and manufacturing plants are producing more products with less labor (and at higher quality) than ever before. Though we may not think factory automation has an environmental component, it most certainly does -- automated plants, as a rule, waste far less than their non-automated counterparts.

The big lesson, however, is that fertility decline is the START, not the end, of bringing the "runaway train" of population growth under control. Even after fertility has fallen to replacement levels, total population numbers continue to rise for decade after decade after decade.

For a country like the U.S., where the total base numbers are already very large, this is a very sobering thought.

In terms of absolute population size, the U.S. is already the third largest country in the world.

In terms of population growth rates we are not yet where Japan was in 1955 thanks to a combination of massive immigration and the highest fertility rates of any country in the industrialized world.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's middle-series projections, the U.S will add more people to its population in the next 50 years as currently live West of the Mississippi River -- and this is the middle-series (most likely) projection.

Our population growth will not end there, of course.

Once the Population Juggernaut starts to roll, it tends to roll a heck of a long way before it comes to a stop. This has been true for Japan (which had rapid and sustained fertility decline and no immigration) and it will be even truer for the U.S. (which has non-sustained fertility decline and high immigration). It will be even more true for countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are still some distance away from achieving replacement levels of fertility.

Kuka is a German robotics company. Germany also went from pro-natalist war-monger to pro-robotics peace lover. Today, Germany has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world.

The Devil's Snare

Jimson weed is a very common, and dangerously powerful psychotropic, found on disturbed land across most of the area I hunt.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Trump Is Key to Selling Food for the Apocalypse

There are no words. This is Jim Bakker of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker fame, on the night of the election. Apparently Bakker's new ministry, with new wife Lori, is focused on survivalists and end times. Those food buckets sell for $125-175 each. Enjoy!

Wikipedia reports that:

In January 2008, Bakker's ministry moved into a new television studio near Branson, in Blue Eye, Missouri. The studio is housed in a 600-acre development that resembles Bakker's former location, Heritage USA. Most or all of the property in the new development (named Morningside) is owned by associates of Bakker rather than by Bakker himself. Several sources have reported that Bakker still owes the IRS about $6,000,000.

Terriers for Sale: Pets, Rosettes and Workers All

Legendary terriermen? Certainly! Were they selling legendary dogs? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

If a dog is excellent at age two and half, you have to wonder why it is being sold. As for puppies, they are more of an optimistic hope than a proven reality.

Both adverts could be offering very good things ... and they could also have been offering something that ended up being a little less than was required or wanted, depending on the throw of the dice and the nature of the homes they were placed in.

What is not in dispute is that both of these ads were placed by legendary terriermen about 45 years ago.

Bert Gripton and Frank Buck were the real deal. They lived to hunt their dogs and bred dogs as a supplement to their hunting activities. That said, both men were known to breed quite a few dogs and sell them off too -- mostly to people who did far less digging than the dogs deserved -- and almost certainly less than these legendary men themselves did.

In fact, dog breeding seems to be a common thread among the "famous" terriermen of the past. If you have heard of almost any terrierman now dead -- John Russell, Arthur Heinemann, Frank Buck, Cyril Breay, Bert Gripton, etc. -- you can be sure they were moving a lot of dogs, and not just a lot of dirt.

To say this is to take away nothing from Gripton or Buck, Breay or Heinemann (and several other good and worthy gentlemen still living and left unnamed). They deserve their excellent reputations. It is simply to say that just as we sing a paean to "foxes yet unseen," so too should we give a nod and pour a dram for the hundreds of unknown working terrier enthusiasts, game keepers and huntsmen who have done at least as much to preserve and protect working terriers over the years. They may be unknown, but they are the core of the cable that is the working terrier tradition.

Today, we commonly see people advertising puppies as being "sired by WHATEVER" and bought directly from So-and-So HIMSELF.

Fair enough, but have you seen the legendary WHATEVER in the field? Has HIMSELF actually dug on a dog any time in the last 20 or 30 years? Or is this just name-dropping and pedigree paper-chasing -- the very same thing we see with show ring breeders?

The situation becomes comical when people order dogs from people they have never met in countries they have never visited. Perhaps they traded a few emails with a Great Man. Perhaps they have even toured the kennel. Excellent.

One has to wonder about those forty terriers barking in the back of the Great Man's place, however. Even if a person digs every week, it's hard to find enough work for four or five terriers. Forty? Impossible. Yes, yes, dogs can be loaned out for work to the hunts, but that's not going on too much, is it? A hunt terrierman wants a dog that is reliable (and small), not a parade of green reeds that do not know their job. And no one in the U.S. is loaning out dogs at all; if the breeder is not working them his or her self, you can be sure they are not being worked at all.

Yet young and foolish dog buyers continue to drive the business of puppy sales, don't they? There has never been a shortage of puppy peddlers. That is true in the world of working dogs as well as the world of pets-and-rosettes.

The working boards are full of people that have never dug on a dog themselves, but who have a kennel full of puppies for sale. "Bred from THIS line out of WHATEVER" they proclaim, as if this line of nonsense tells you anything.

Just ask for pictures of the dam and sire working. "Oh I never thought to take a camera into the field ... I don't share pictures because the Animal Rights people might get a-hold of them."


Any variation on this nonsense, and it's best to keep moving. People that work their dogs in the modern world have pictures of their dogs working and (in America at least) they can take you out on any given weekend and show you their dogs doing their stuff in the ground. We are a hunting society, and there is nothing unethical about terrier work as we practice it.

As for all this focus on "lines" of working terriers, it is taken to a level of absurdity by the puppy peddlers. Anyone who knows anything about working terriers knows no true working dog is a "pure" anything, and genes are quickly diluted. "Descended from So-and-So" tells you almost nothing, especially if you never saw the dog work yourself. A first generation dog is only half that gene pool, and a second generation dog is a quarter or less. In the end you are buying a pig in a poke.

Yes, a cross between between Mike Tyson and Robin Givens might get you super-model looks with a boxer's hooks, but it is just as likely to give you an ugly, stupid, scrawny and foul-tempered kid who has small hands, a thin frame, and an irritating lisp. Cross Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe and you are just as likely to get Einstein's looks and Marilyn's brains as the other way around!

Breeding, of course, is important. Working dogs are more likely to descend from two working dogs than not, and the best practice remains, as always, to get dogs that have solid working sires and dams.

Just remember, however, that there are two sides to every breeding, and much of what is being crossed from one generation to another is entirely unknown even when someone has had a "line" of terriers for two or three generations. Not every cross is a success.

In any case, a working terrier is not all about genetics is it? How many good dogs have been ruined by young fools that over-matched a dog too young? How many people have heard people proclaim a dog "worthless" when it was only 14 months old? How many people leave their dogs caged and pacing in a kennel for 12 months out of the year and then expect the dog to work like a practiced veteran the three or four times a year it is let out to see forest or field?

If only these examples were rare! Sadly, they are not.

What made the dogs of people like Frank Buck and Bert Gripton exceptional was not just breeding -- it was that these dogs saw a lot of experience in the field and were raised by people who understood how dogs thought. These MEN were as legendary as the dogs. Sadly, their experience and knowledge does not convey with the pedigree.

The ads these genuine digging men men wrote for their dogs should be read. They speak volumes in a few words: "parents small," ; "trial if necessary," ; "parents can be seen at work six days a week."

Compare these small printed advertisements to the folks who now post elaborate graphics-filled web sites offering puppies for sale. Some web sites are all about ribbons and rosettes, while others show pictures of dogs chained out in dirt yards with photos shot through rusting wire mesh.

Different ends of the social spectrum, to be sure, but what both types of web sites have in common is that neither one mentions actual terrier work.

For puppy peddlers, taking dogs out into the field to work, weekend after weekend, is too close to real work. Dogs in the field might get injured and veterinary care and tools cut into profit margins. Field work time is in direct competition with show ring trial dates.

Besides digging on the dogs a couple of times a month is suspiciously like labor. For puppy peddlers, the bottom line is the bottom line, and it is all about cash and ego, not true terrier work.

Compare the size of the genuine earth dogs offered by people like Gripton, with the hulking dogs offered up for barn and brush pile work here in the U.S.

These over-large dogs are not true terriers. Terrier means "earth dog" in French. A terrier is a dog that is capable of going to earth and to which you dig to when you are hunting.

These over-large barn-and-brush pile dogs might be called "grangier" (a possible french world for "barn dogs") or even "arbrier" (a possible french name for "tree dogs") or "bidonier" (a possible french name for "trash-pile dogs") or "batimentiere" (a possible french word for "building crawl-space" dogs), but they are not true terriers if they cannot go to ground in dirt . . . . and do so in most of the settes they encounter in their area.

Bert Gripton used to advertise that his dogs could be seen at work six days a week. Not many can say that now (and, truth be told, not many could say it back then either).

Working six days a week? Think about what that means. Regular work, day in and day out, week after week, is hardly possible with a very hard dog that goes in and gets punch-drunk with bites and rips every time it goes to ground.

Yes, the folks who dig three days a year will tell you they value a hard dog. What they will not tell you, of course, is how little time they actually spend digging.

The more you dig on the dogs, the more you come to value brains, voice, balance, and a touch of discretion in a dog, and the quicker you are to sort things out at the end of a dig. A dog that is laid up for three weeks with a ripped lip is a bad outcome if you really serious about getting out and amassing field time. Not everyone is, of course.

Bert Gripton knew the value of a small dog!

Punch Me Kangaroo Out, Sport

Mathew Amor decided to organize a small group of friends to take a sick young man called Kailem on a boar-hunting trip at his property in Condobolin, New South Wales. Kailem, who had cancer, died last week, but back in June,
“Kailem wanted to catch a boar,” said Amor.

“We were driving along, the dogs are loose. They are trained to smell pig’s blood, and picked up a scent.

“The dogs went past 20 kangaroos, which they are trained not to touch.

“Anyway, this big buck got a hold of my friend’s dog. It just grabbed him.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

The dog rescuer and ready-made Kangaroo trainer in the video is Greig Tonkins who happens to be a a zookeeper at Taronga’s Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

He didn't hurt the Kangaroo -- he just spoke to it in a a language that a Kangaroo can actually understand.

From Bone to Loam

I have walked thousands of miles in forest and farm, and dug at least a thousand holes over the dogs, but I am always amazed how little of what lives lasts.

As the Bible notes in Ecclesiastes 3:18-20:

For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity.

All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.

Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? 

A Three Century Joy Ride

Back in 2010, the late great Joe Bageant wrote an essay on the Plunder of Nature:

As an Anglo European white guy from a very long line of white guys, I want to thank all the brown, black, yellow and red people for a marvelous three-century joy ride. During the past 300 years of the industrial age, as Europeans, and later as Americans, we have managed to consume infinitely more than we ever produced, thanks to colonialism, crooked deals with despotic potentates and good old gunboats and grapeshot. Yes, we have lived, and still live, extravagant lifestyles far above the rest of you. And so, my sincere thanks to all of you folks around the world working in sweatshops, or living on two bucks a day, even though you sit on vast oil deposits. And to those outside my window here in Mexico this morning, the two guys pruning the retired gringo's hedges with what look like pocket knives, I say, keep up the good work. It's the world's cheap labor guys like you -- the black, brown and yellow folks who take it up the shorts -- who make capitalism look like it actually works. So keep on humping. Remember: We've got predator drones.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Moxie Checks Out the Other Side of the Ditch

It was just birds in the bushes, but you never know!

Checking Dens

Checking for fox settes in fields near water. There's probably not enough elevation here for dry dens. Fox dens have to be dry but near some water source, no matter how sleight.


Sorghum planted as deer feed

On Sunday, I helped one fellow look for a deer he thought he had shot on Friday, but I suspect he missed. No blood trail, and no carcass.  He was shooting slugs, so the deer was not likely to run far if it was hit.  I had prowled the area marking dens as found, and had seen no carcass, and further investigation found nothing.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Lesson the Government Is Teaching Us

From an piece in The New York Times by Timothy Egan, entitled Fake Cowboys and Real Indians:

The sight of native people shivering in a blizzard, while government authorities threaten to starve them out or forcefully remove them, is a living diorama of so much awful history between the First Americans and those who took everything from them."

Let me say it plain: Cliven Bundy was treated with kid gloves because he had guns with bullets in them. The Native Americans are getting beaten, soaked, shot, and starved because they don't. This is is lesson the Government is teaching us.

Post note: After I put this blog post up, and the very day that over 2,000 U.S. military veterans descended on Standing Rock to stand with the Sioux and between them and the Water Protectors, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to deny a permit to the Dakota Access Pipeline for this particular under-the-lake pipeline crossing. To put a point on it, as soon as weapons-trained military veterans showed up (talking peace, but the hammer clearly implied), the government rolled over. But is it over? Don't count on it. The good news is that this pipeline is predicated on contract oil prices that are higher than current market rates, some contract could be voided or renegotiated by some signers in the next month or so. The now-certain delay in the start of pipeline operations will cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars, and could rise to over $1 billion by 2018. In an energy market quickly rushing to solar, electrical, and battery, and where peak oil demand is probably already here, it's not clear the Dakota Access Pipeline will continue to make long-term economic sense.

These are the Good Old Days

"They don't make them like they used to," says the fellow patting the hood of a '57 Chevy.

No they don't -- they make them better.

Today cars steer with one finger, have batteries that never need topping off, pollute less, get more miles per gallon, and have seat belts and air bags to boot.

So it is with many other things.

Take wildlife -- there's more of it now than there used to be.

Today, across the U.S., we have more whitetail deer, red fox, raccoon, coyote, possum, groundhog, Gray fox, black bear, wolf, duck, geese, moose, beaver, turkey, elk, alligator, cougar and bald eagles than we have had at any time in the last 100 years.

And the numbers keep going up.

The world of working terriers is better too. Getting out to a farm is pretty quick in an air-conditioned car. No one is riding 20-miles to a hunt on a horse, and then, at the end of a long day, riding 20-miles back.

How about veterinary work? In the "good old days" your dog could be lost to distemper or canine influenza or hepatitis before it was old enough to get into the field. Before antibiotics, a small wound could lead to death from sepsis or a corneal abrasion could lead to blindness. Mange was difficult to cure and rabies was still prevalent across Europe, including the UK. It is still rampant in the U.S., but vaccines now keep our hunting dogs safe.

How about working terrier equipment? It hasn't changed much since the days of Jacques du Fouilloux in 1560, but it is certainly easier to obtain. An excellent shovel can be delivered to your door with a telephone call or a few clicks of your computer mouse. Ditto for fox nets -- only now they are made of green nylon, never rot, and last forever. The radio telemetry of Deben collars means we can now find and dig to our dogs with a great deal less fear than 40 years ago. And if we lose a dog in the field far from home, there is a good chance it will be returned to us thanks to microchips and tattoo registries.

What about working dogs? Surely these are not as good as those of yore?

At the risk of heresy, let me suggest that the real working terriers of today are about the same quality as they have always been -- a mixed lot, to be sure, but probably no worse.

In fact, as a group, they may be slightly better, as we now know more about genetics and, as a consequence, we can at least try to keep healthcare time-bombs out of the gene pool -- bilateral deafness, lens luxation, loose knees, and ataxia, for example.

It is also easier today for the average person to get a good working dog.

First of all, there are more working terriers than there ever have been.

Oh sure, there are not as many working terriers as a percentage of all dogs, but in absolute numbers the count is clearly up. Think about it: the human population has tripled over the last 70 years, and with it has come an increase in the number of people interested in all dogs, including working terriers. The rise of working terriers in the U.S. has certainly been a boost, as has been an increase in the number of foxes in the UK -- a phenomenon that has made casual terrierwork much more rewarding.

Today most working terriers are not associated with mounted hunts at all, but with weekend diggers who jump in a car and are out to a hedgerow within the hour.

In Victorian days, it was harder to travel, and fox were often scarce due to traps and poisons. Leisure time was also in short supply -- the weekend was not invented until the 1930s.

Truth be told, the "weekend warrior" terrierman did not much exist in the "old days." Back then when a gamekeeper had a nuisance fox to deal with, he was more likely to reach for poison and traps than for a terrier. In fact that is still the case. Terrierwork is relatively humane, but it is not very efficient, which is why traps and poison are still used, along with snares, and lamping with lurchers and guns.

But what about the show dogs?

What about them? Most show terriers are to working terriers what white lab rats are to wild rats; they may bear a passing resemblance, but they are entirely different animals in every way that counts.

In truth, many terrier breeds never hunted much of anything other than an occasional rat or rabbit. Though nearly every Kennel Club breed, from Silky terrier to Glen of Imaal, claims they once hunted fox and badger, there is very little evidence to support most of these claims.

Most terrier breeds, as we know them today, are synthetic creations cobbled together by show-ring enthusiasts beginning in the middle-to-late part of the 19th Century. Breeds were assembled from bits and pieces of genuine working dogs mixed with a dash of turn-spit dog, lap dog, dachshund, and spaniel. Features were exaggerated, coats lengthened and softened, colors selected, and nose color and "expression" given points. Slathered on top of all these new show-ring standards were invented histories and unfounded assertions that inconsequential attributes were of importance in the field.

Almost all of it was (and is) nonsense. As Harriet Ritvo notes in The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age, from the 1850s and into the 20th Century, dog show folks "elevated standards that had no basis in nature or aesthetics but reflected the ignorant, self-interested caprices of fanciers who wished to boost the prestige of their own stock in order to associate themselves with people of good breeding."

Most show terriers are to working terriers what white lab rats are to wild rats; they may bear a passing resemblance, but they are entirely different animals in every way that counts.

Ironically, even after 150 years of effort, the show ring has not killed off the true working terrier, which still exists outside the show ring in the same form it did a century and a half ago.

The "black and tan terrier" (now called the fell terrier) still works, though its stilted cousin the show Welsh Terrier and show Lakeland Terrier, now have overlarge chests and elongated heads, making them useless as fox-working dogs.

The "foxing" terrier (now called the Jack Russell Terrier) still works, though its bastard cousin, the show ring Fox Terrier, now has an enormous chest, an oddly elongated muzzle, a loose coat, and an odd stiff-legged movement never seen in a real working dog.

A few Border Terriers still work, though they too are increasingly too large to get to ground, and are now so expensive that they are more likely to be owned by suburban housewives than people capable of digging five feet into an embankment. In the U.S. finding two working border terriers to breed together is almost impossible!

What of the other breeds of working terriers?

There really weren't any, if by "work" we mean going to ground on fox and badger.

In fact, we may have one or two more working terrier breeds today than we did in the old days. Added to the above list of three types we can add the Patterdale Terrier (breeding true for 50-years and a derivative of the fell terrier) and the Plummer Terrier (breeding true for 20-years and a derivative of the Jack Russell Terrier). Unfortuntately, here too the push is on to draw them into the show ring, and chest size is already an issue in some lines, especially with Plummers.

What of the Cairn, Norfolk, Scottish, Australian, and Sealyham terrier?

Most of these breeds were drawn into the show ring almost as soon as they were created, and most were "worked" to nothing more substantive than rats and rabbits -- a job that a good collie or lurcher can do almost as well.

Yes a Cairn or two, and a Norfolk or two were hunted to fox. Jocelyn Lucas himself worked badger and fox with his pack of Sealyham terriers. That said, such stories are the exception rather than the rule, and few terrier breeds, other than the three previously mentioned, ever saw wide service in the hunt field. Lucas and his kennel partner, Mrs. Enid Plummer, found it almost impossible to carry on their own kennel of Sealyham terriers in the face of show-ring demands for ever-larger Sealyhams with elongated faces and softer coats. Today the small compact Sealyham Terrier of Lucas's day is essentially extinct -- as are the antecedents of most of the other terrier breeds. The names may live on, but something is surely missing, for none are commonly found in the hunt field today.

On the upside, the same type of working terrier that has always prevailed in the field still exists, and with a modicum of due-diligence dogs can be obtained reasonably easily from working kennels, and with some certainty that the dog will be of the right size and temperament to do the job.

Five-generation pedigrees -- a legacy of the show ring it should be said -- are sometimes a benefit in sorting through size and paternity claims. A quick telephone call can check out a story or two, and ascertain a pup's availability. A picture posted by email can quickly affirm a sire and dam's overall appearance and perhaps even offer some small assurance that the dog or sire and dam in question have indeed been worked (if pictures are available, as they certainly should be in this day and age).

Caveat emptor, of course.

Dog breeders tend to say what they think their customers want to hear. Even mediocre hunting dogs (by definition most of them) are routinely presented as exceptional beasts. If you do not put chest size front and center in your selection criteria, your dog will sure to be too big

That said, if after due-diligence you are reasonably satisfied that a dog or pup being offered will fit your needs, it's a relatively easy thing to get anywhere in the world in order to visit the kennel, see the dog in person, and strike a deal. We live in an increasingly small world, and it's now quicker to get from Washington, D.C. to London than it is to get across the state of Virginia -- at some level, a marvelous thing.

Which brings us back to Square One: These really are the good old days.

No generation has ever had more spare time.

No generation has ever had better dogs more easily obtained.

No generation has ever had easier access to farms stretching out over a vast portion of the countryside brimming over with suitable quarry.

If you want to hunt with terriers, it has never been easier to work them, and if you do so, you will quickly learn more with a shovel in your hand than you could in fifty lifetimes of bouncing around a show ring.

Slip loose a dog at a naturally-dug fox or groundhog den, and you will know more about spanning in 10 minutes than you could ever hope to learn from reading a breed standard.

Dig on a groundhog at the stop-end of a dirt pipe and you will know why tenacity and teeth are required.

Patch a few dogs up at the end of the day, and you will appreciate why brains and discretion are required as well.

Spend a hot summer day in a hedge and you will begin to value a dog's nose for its function and not just for its color.

Put a mute dog to ground and you will know why diggers care more about good voice and an honest mark than they do about "movement" and "expression."

Above all, get out and dig.

If you do so, when you grow old and grey, you will look back and say -- "Ah! Those were the good old days."

How We Cook Our Thanksgiving Turkey.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Coffee and Provocation

The Queen delivers a speech on poverty.
A beaver busted into a dollar store in Charlotte Hall, Maryland, and trashed the place, including the artificial Christmas Tree display.

The Russians are having the Koreans clone genetically superior police dogs. It's like a bad James Bond movie.

Ravenous 14-Foot python caught with 3 deer in its gut.

Texas man taunts Alligator and jumps into water ... Alligator kills man.

The longest cat fence in the U.S. was just built on a Hawaiian volcano to protect nesting bird colonies.

Dolly Parton will be helping people back on their feet by donating $1,000 every month for six months to each family that lost their homes in the forest fires in Sevier County. The flames reached the doorsteps of Dollywood, but the park was spared and will reopen on Friday.

Pigeons in Barcelona are being put on the pill (nicarbazin) in an attempt to cut their numbers by 80 per cent.

Thanks Obama!
The outdoor industry will be added to the calculus of the nation’s gross domestic product in a bill headed to the President’s desk.

Big Data for Big Conservation
The US Forest Service says it hopes to use DNA collected from water to map every aquatic animal in the Western states. The resulting biodiversity map, cataloging thousands of species by population boundary, would be an enormous conservation resource.

Women, Work and the Pill
Economic empowerment and freedom got a jump start with modern contraception. Video.

Russian soldiers with dog from the center, 1914.

Drone World

The Leadership of Lions and Dogs

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives

Working terriers? They LIVE!

An Elk Picks His Mark

Keep your dog on a leash so it does not chase the deer and elk.

Notice that the elk leaves the two Jack Russells alone -- they're not running away. Wee wolves.

Throw Back Thursday

This would have been in 1976 or 1977, when I was 17 years old. The pack was a Kelty BB5, a marvelous old pack -- the largest Kelty made at the time, and first introduced in 1969. The "sissy bar" on top moved weight higher, which is always a good idea if you are doing long-distance walking and the tree cover over the trail will allow it.

Human Soul for Sale, Dirt Cheap

"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." — Matthew 4:8

They eat frogs legs for dinner and drink $400 wines, just like the rest of us.

Those damn frogs were eating the malaria mosquitos in the swamps that will not be drained now that we have Goldman Sachs and a team of billionaires and lobbyists on the march.

Thank God these people don't use emails or help orphans whose parents died of AIDS. The good people of KY and TN cannot have that. Or Medicare. Or the black lung fund. Screw that stuff and pass the Grey Poupon.

Dog House Design Has Not Changed Much in 700 Years

Four Dogs before a Doghouse in a book of German fables from the late 1400s. This illustration is in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

A Christmas Message From the Terriers

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What Rough Beast Slouches Towards Bethlehem?

The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

To Tell The Truth

Do you recognize her?

The lady holding back the Borzois is is Kitty Carlisle, aka Kitty Carlisle Hart, who was born on September 3, 1910 – and died on April 17, 2007 at the age of 96.

Kitty Carlisle was a regular panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth, where she provided a great deal of over-the-top cultural grace to her panelist duties. She seemed rich and cultured because she actually was rich and cultured. Married to playwright and director Moss Hart, she herself was a singer, actress and spokeswoman for the arts. She was was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame, served for 20 years on the New York State Council on the Arts, and received the National Medal of Arts from President George H. W. Bush in 1991. Oddly enough, her Jewish grandfather had been a Confederate gunner on the iron-clad Virginia (formerly the Merrimack), which fought the iron-clad Monitor!

Topping Tulips

Terrier Taxonomy

The Belvoir Hunt Kennels

The Belvoir Hunt Kennels by Sir Alfred J. Munnings. This painting sold for $460,000 at Sotheby's.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Need Dalmatian Puppies

A Sense of Impending Doom

Things feel unsettled in Washington at the moment.  I am reminded of a conversation I once had with my wife:

Me: “I feel bad. Jittery”

Her: “How?”

Me: “A feeling of impending doom.”

Her: “You know what that is?”

Me: “No”

Her: ”Impending doom.”

That’s how it feels.

We have people without experience, and no track record of success, pulling apart things they do not understand, based on a theory they read in a Heritage Foundation white paper written by a graduate of Hillsdale College.

What could possibly go wrong?

Standards Where Health & Performance Are Zero

John Henry Walsh invented the Kennel Club "standard" -- cookie cutter judging based on a series of arbitrary points compiled by folks who may not have even owned any of the dogs they were writing a "standard" for.

Walsh was editor of The Field magazine, and wrote for that publication under the pseudonym of ‘Stonehenge.’

In 1867, a scant eight years after the first formal dog show (where he was one of the judges), Walsh published The Dogs of the British Islands, in which he and several friends set out to to detail the physical attributes of various breeds, and to assign various "points" to these features so that the dogs could be judged in a systematic way from show to show.

Walsh's point system (along wih the eugenics theories of Francis Galton) served as the backbone and architectural model of the Kennel Club point system which is used to judge dogs in the ring, and on the bench, to this day.

Walsh's point system gave ZERO points to health and field performance, and that is still true in the Kennel Club ring to this day. Any wonder then why health and performance are so pitiful among Kennel Club dogs?

Get Rich Raising Nutria!

Wow! What a great idea! It says in this 1958 Popular Science ad that the price of nutria pelts is already almost equal to mink. And these exotic rodents breed like ... well, rodents! Women will always wear fur. What could go wrong? Nothing! Just look at that cool logo if your confidence is wavering. This is sure to be an exploding market for a bright, energetic young person.

Coffee and Provocation

Jurasic Chicken
Scientists in Chile have grown dinosaur legs on a chicken. In of last year, scientists successfully converted a chicken's beak into that of a snout similar to its dino-predecessors.

That Monkey is a Whore
When monkeys were taught the concept of money, it resulted in the first recorded incident of monkey prostitution.

100 Million Dead Trees in California
The drought has been long and awful.

When You Have More Money Than Brains
Bowser Beer is a ridiculously expensive six-pack of bottled beef broth.

This Crap is a Complete Waste of Money
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) now requires over the counter homeopathic remedies sold in the US to come with a warning that they are based on outdated theories ‘not accepted by most modern medical experts’ and that ‘there is no scientific evidence the product works’.

What Happened to the Seals?
The Seals GPS technology has helped scientists conclude that a 65 percent decline in Scotland's Harbor Seal population between 2001 and 2010 was due to a toxin produced by algae.

Frog Sex Ratios are Changed by Road Salt
Scientists have found that the proportion of females within tadpole populations was reduced by 10 percent when exposed to road salt, or sodium chloride, suggesting that the salt has a masculinizing effect.

Donald Trump Is Impeachable on Day One
Donald Trump will have to sell billions of dollars of real estate in the next month to avoid being impeached for bribery and payment from foreign powers. He has business interests with Jose E. B. Antonio, who is also Philippines dictator Rodrige Duterte's Special Envoy to the USA. Similar conflicts exist is some 20 known countries where the Trump organization has dealings, and then there is the long, undisclosed list of foreign creditors, potentially including sovereign wealth funds.

No, Santa-san Will Not Be Driving
Domino's Pizza in Hokkaido Japan is rolling out delivery by reindeer.

A Stinking Bad Idea
A Japanese skating rink froze 5,000 fish frozen in ice. It did not go over well with the public.