Saturday, September 03, 2011

Our Doggly Duty

We created dogs.  We are their Gods.  The hundreds of recognized variations now exist because we've been playing with their genes for generations, designing customized abilities and instincts into them to serve our purposes.  Everything from the Great Dane to the Chihuahua and all the sizes and shapes in between.  They've had our collective backs throughout the whole of recorded history, and likely several eons before that.

Dogs are our responsibility.

I could get on a rant about PETA and the USHS but I think I've already gone there.  Suffice to say they can go frag themselves.  Or each other.  I don't care.  But keep their screwed up philosophy away from me and my dogs.  My cats too, as it happens

Dogs understand humans much, much better than we understand them.  And that's a tragedy, given that we're almost as likely to encounter a dog as encounter another human in any number of different urban and rural environments.  We need a comprehensive program to teach people about them.  And I don't mean the Dog Whisperer crap.  Let me hand over a clue--dogs (and wolves) aren't little soldiers who need a drill sergeant in their lives.  Pack order doesn't work like that.  Not for wolves and not for dogs.

One of the most vital things people overlook is this basic fact:  Dogs must be socialized.  The higher potential danger the dog represents, the more s/he should be socialized.  The excuse "I don't want the dog to be too comfortable around my friends" (just in case said friends are likely to steal all your stuff, I guess) doesn't really fly.  I know you bought the pitbull to keep them in line, but dogs understand the concept of property just fine.  They don't care if the guy scratches them in that special spot behind the ears if he's in the house without permission.

Exceptions might be found, but that's true of just about anything.  The presence of the dog is a serious deterrent for strangers.  If you're worried about your friends stealing from you, you don't need a dog.  You need better friends. Dogs can read human expression rather well, which means they generally have some idea whether you trust someone or not and will act accordingly. 

In my latest novella, I imagined a world where they'd bred dogs for intelligence and ability to communicate.  It's interesting to consider what they might become if we did that. But then we'd have to confront our history--if dogs became as intelligent as, say, your average 7th grader, what would we do with them?  Could we own them?  Or would we simply become their guardians?

I believe that if we were really smart, we'd be breeding dogs for intelligence and ability to communicate, on top of more specialized talents like bomb-sniffing and the like.  That, however, doesn't seem to be the goal.  Too bad.  We're instead breeding dogs for trivial cosmetic traits and the apparent purpose of passing along genetic damage.  Tragic.  We actually have some idea of what we're doing.  We no longer have an excuse.  We now understand why dogs are so easy to modify.  They're built that way.  Convenient for us... less convenient for them.

Dogs deserve better.  There are anthropologists who believe that civilization might not have been possible if not for the assistance we received from dogs in the early days of our conversion from hunter-gatherers to herders.

Yes, it's vital we protect people from dangerous dogs.  But we're also obligated to protect dogs from dangerous ignorance.  It's entirely possible to do both at the same time.  If we have the sense and the will.  Maybe it's time we rethought what dogs should represent to us--and treated them with the honor and respect I believe they've earned.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Keeping our eye on the ball

Make no mistake.  Gawd only knows there's enough reason to be disappointed in the Obama administration.  I think I've put enough energy into outlining what I think they've done wrong.  And I'm hardly the only person doing so.  But I draw the line at the whole "what difference does it make?" argument.  As I've said plenty of times, it's the difference between rappelling into the mouth of a volcano and just walking up and jumping off the edge.

It's not hard to imagine which would be preferable.  At least if you start rappelling into the crater, you have a chance to change your mind.  Much as we have the chance, however slight, to turn this whole thing around as well.

I honestly don't know what to expect from Obama at this point.  It scares me that so many things we hated about the last administration have remained in effect and ongoing.  Only some of this is the war... I'm more concerned about the security apparatus that remained in place after Bush left office.

And I could go on about the failures of supply-side "voodoo" economics for days.  We all know them.  Or those of us with the ability to wrap our brains around the obvious.  Employers don't hire people they don't need if they can, instead, push the current staff to handle the load coming in.  Less expenditure, more profit.  But, unfortunately, this behavior sends out ripples, affecting all other businesses in the area.  Fewer people making money means less money spent, which means lower profits for everyone.  A downward spiral.  Every person who loses a job, or loses welfare, is one more person unable to make purchases to help drive the economic engine.

So, yeah... we all know this.  So what?

Michele Bachman is what.  Rick Perry is what.  Mitt Romney is what.  I'd add Ron Paul to that list, but the media won't take him seriously.  The best thing for all of us would be if the old loon ran as a Libertarian.  For the first time the Libertarian Party would have a decent showing and that would draw off votes from the Republicans.  It's about time we had the chance to see them repaid for 2000.

As upset as we are by what we may (rightfully or otherwise) view as the failures of this administration and many of the Dems in Congress, we cannot allow the Republicans to win in 2012.  Cannot.  I don't care if you have to drag yourself to the polls by the scruff of your neck.  Vote.  And vote Democrat.

I don't want to hear "They'll never learn if we keep voting the lesser of two evils."  Right now too much is at stake to be thinking like that.  There's a good chance that the next four years will see the retirement of at least two, if not three, Supreme Court Justices.  And anyone with any thoughts whatsoever about the Citizens United decision, to name only one, should be considering this very closely.  Do we really want to allow a Christian Dominionist Republican to choose those Justices?

Not only no, but hell no.  Not only hell no, but fuck no.

No excuses.  I don't want to fucking hear them.  I'd vote for a mewling lamb before I would stand by and let those freaks take control of my home.