Monday, July 28, 2014

Yes... it's the owner not the dog... BUT...



This, is a Cane Corso:




Cane Corsos are some of the biggest, strongest, and by their very genetic nature, most territorial and protective dogs. They are bred to hunt large game, and to catch and herd straying swine and cattle.

Like other large "catch dogs", they can literally catch a large livestock animal, and either kill them, or hold them on the ground waiting for their handler to come and retrieve the caught prey.

This, is a Presa Canario:



Presa Canarios are a very different breed in many ways, but they descend from the same basic genetic foundation (molosser) and are also large catch dogs. They have the same size, strength, and drives as the Cane Corso. They are big, strong, highly territorial, and highly protective.

How big is "big"? 

Those chains and big heavy collars aren't for show. Males of either breed can easily exceed 150lbs, and standing on their hind legs can easily look a 6'2" man like myself directly in the eyes.

Corsos and Presas can be great dogs. Loyal, affectionate, loving, fun...

...For the right people, in the right environment...

A few days ago, a couple of Cane Corsos killed a jogger in Michigan. It came out that those same dogs had attacked other people in the neighborhood over the course of two years, but nothing had been done.

A few years ago, actor Ving Rhames had a pair of Presa Canarios, that killed his gardener.

This Michigan incident is the latest in a long series of reports from the last few years where Cane Corsos, or Presa Canarios have killed pedestrians, joggers, yard or service workers etc...

No, it's not the dogs fault. Yes, it is their owners fault.

But... not for the reasons some "dog people" like to champion.

Yes, there is no such thing as inherently bad or dangerous dog, or an inherently bad or dangerous breed...

...except that isn't ENTIRELY true.

As is usually the case, the truth is more complicated.

All dogs, no matter the breed, are potentially dangerous, because they are DOGS. YOU may consider them a member of your family, but they are not children, they are DOGS.

They are little... or not so little... balls of muscle and instincts with teeth and claws; and under the right... or wrong... circumstances, they can be dangerous.

Of course, abuse or ill treatment can make any dog MORE dangerous...

...but it doesn't take abuse to make a dog dangerous. It just takes the wrong situation, or the wrong environment, or the wrong owner who doesn't know how to handle their dog.

Some breeds of dogs need special handling or they will be dangerous, simply because of their natures. Their size, their strength, their basic breed characteristics, and their instincts.

Big, strong, territorial dogs with high prey drive or high protective drive, ARE dangerous; if not kept in the right environments, and trained, socialized, and exercised and handled properly; by the right sort of people who can properly manage these types of dogs.

Cane Corsos and Presa Canarios are working dogs. They NEED to work. They need to work off their energy, and they NEED to follow their "mission" instinct.

In military parlance, they are extremely motivated and mission oriented, and their mission is to PROTECT THE HERD AND THE FIELDS AND THE PACK AT ALL COSTS.

They're very good at it. It's what they're bred for.

They are NOT dogs that you can have in a busy urban or suburban area. They'll be miserable, and they'll make you miserable. They'll literally be driven crazy by the constant influx of strangers and "threats".

Dogs like this need room to run. More importantly, they need defensive depth. They need a big buffer zone for "their" territory. They need room to back off if they feel threatened.

If they don't have room, unless they are properly trained and handled, and their handler is present and managing the situation properly; in close quarters they WILL feel threatened, and they WILL get aggressively protective.

These are SERIOUS working dogs.

However, for a certain class of asshole, they have become "fashionable" over the past few years, because they're so big, so strong, and so "dangerous". Rottweilers and "pit bulls" are becoming more common, and certain types of assholes just want to have the biggest, baddest dog on the block.

Another type of asshole doesn't recognize that dogs are actually animals, rather than just furry people. Or that the dog that is so cuddly and great with them, is an entirely different beast when it comes to strangers and their "mission" or their territory.

Dogs are NOT fashion accessories. Nor are they furry children. They are living beings, with their own needs and drives, not simply extensions or projections of their owners.

Most people are simply not mentally and emotionally prepared to, or even physically able to, properly handle Cane Corsos and Presa Canarios (or for that matter most other large dogs); nor do most people have the proper environment to keep them.

I have been handling and training large dogs since I was a child, and I'm a VERY large, strong, and dominant man..  I've also made a habit of rehabilitating troubled and abused large breed dogs, particularly rottweilers and other molosser variants. My family and I love "politically incorrect" dogs, and have had great experiences with our wonderful rescued dogs, that others had considered "dangerous" or "unstable" because of prior abuse.

Even given all that however, unless I raised them myself, or knew the person who raised them, I would not accept a Presa or a Corso into my pack. Not a chance in hell in fact.

Even if I'd raised one from a pup, if I didn't have a big, FULLY FENCED and secure property, with neighbors who also knew how to handle and deal with big, protective dogs, I wouldn't even consider having a Corso or a Presa.

 For people who like and want "big dogs", and can deal with a confident, physical, and protective dog, I'm always a fan of rotties.

Jayne, my rott/amstaff male, is 130lbs of muscle, teeth, and love. He's the worlds largest lap dog when I let him get away with it.

We like to joke that he might be "dangerous" or "aggressive" if he weren't too busy looking for comfort and cuddles, and too lazy to chase after trouble.

My other rott mix is a 65lb rott/redbone coonhound bitch, and her coonhound side sometimes causes her to follow her nose into trouble, but she's still a total affection slut.

No matter what though, you still need to be prepared and able to handle large dogs.

What do I mean when I say "prepared and able to handle large dogs" ?

Well, let me use myself as an example. Yes, I'm a big strong man, but that's not the most important thing. The most important things are emotional and mental preparedness.

You MUST be the alpha, and you must be prepared to do what is necessary to deal with your dog.

I can make Jayne cower and roll with a strong look... and he loves and respects me, and I love and respect him, enough that I rarely have to.

When he does get upset, or over excited, I can usually calm him down with a word or a touch, or at worst a strong tone of command and a physical reminder.

USUALLY... but not always...

Jayne is well trained, and well socialized, with an even... in fact a laid back and lazy... demeanor and temperament; but like all dogs, he can get excited, or anxious, or agitated. Very rarely, again like any other dog, he can get excited or agitated enough that he can be difficult to handle.

If he gets so excited or scared that his instincts overwhelm his pack conditioning, I'm big enough, strong enough, and mean enough to back him down, and hold him down if necessary.

And he knows it...

If as an absolute last resort he is driven mad by something, and I am unable to back him down, calm him down, get him back under control or otherwise safely restrain or isolate him from those he could harm... I am prepared to kill him.

And he knows it...

It may sound silly to you, but anyone who works with dogs will understand this... A properly socialized dog knows when you are bigger and stronger and meaner than he is... he especially knows whether you're willing to kill him if you have to. That's how their world works.

Understand, I have raised Jayne from first separation, and love this dog as a member of my own family... but I also recognize a dog is a dog, not a child; and 130lbs of out of control and maddened muscle and teeth is a danger that must be brought under control or stopped, by whatever means necessary.

When you own big dogs... that's what you MUST understand, and be prepared for. If you are not, you have NO DAMN BUSINESS owning a big dog.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Luc, Lucy, and the Meaning of Life.

Just watched Scarlet Johansson in Luc Bessons "Lucy".

Yeah...

Lots of fan service certainly.

VERY VERY VERY DUMB...

Also, in many ways it goes far beyond "homage" and into "total blowjob" territory for Yuen Woo-Ping, John Woo, and Park Chan-Wook... and to Hong Kong and Korean (and of course being a Luc Besson film, french and italian) cinema in general... To the point of some shot for shot "homages", and very explicit callbacks and stunt casting.

Frankly, that was part of the fan service.

I didn't like ScarJo's performance choices and/or Bessons choices in directing her performance... but that was a matter of personal preference and taste. I don't think it was actually a bad performance, I think she was executing what she and Besson wanted... I just didn't care for those choices.

It was REALLY short. It also made very extensive use of stock footage; to the point that I think without it, the whole film minus credits (it's listed as 90 minutes with credits. We timed the actual film content as 83 minutes from opening shot to closing shot) would have been under 60 minutes.

Fun. Not good. Not so horrible as to wrap around and be great.

If you're a film geek... particularly if you love hong kong and korean action movies it's a good "bad movie night" movie

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mr. Watson... Go the hell away, I don't need you now

I really hate talking on the phone... Always have really, but more and more so as I get older.

I have to talk on the phone for hours and hours as part of my job; it's the absolute last thing I want to do when I'm not working

Even if I love you and you're a great friend and we haven't talked in a while... I still hate talking on the phone, and unless there's something specific to talk about, if you call me, I'm likely to say ten words (four of which are likely to be SSDD) and then beg off.

I make an exception for my less technical relatives, with whom I generally can't communicate via email, IM, or Facebook; and with whom I will have long phone conversations a few times a year... But that's pretty much it.

There are times when I simply cannot stand to talk with ANYONE on the phone, or even via instant message... sometimes for a few days at a time. My head just feels like exploding even thinking about picking up the phone.

When I am feeling like that, I will simply not answer the phone or IM for anything other than emergencies or critical work calls. I cancel my con calls, I don't even listen to voicemail never mind respond (oh and DON'T leave me voicemail unless its an emergency and its the only way you know how to contact me. IM, email, or TXT me... I LOATHE voicemail no matter what mood I'm in).

If I am in one of those moods... I am not avoiding you, I just REALLY DO NOT WANT TO TALK ON THE PHONE... Just EMAIL me. I can respond to you properly when I have time and when my head feels better.

Believe me... Its not you I hate.... Its the gods be damned telephone.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Welfare Towns and Equilibrium Traps

Alright, here's where I start to sound like a liberal to those who don't know any better...

Many people seem to believe, that the majority of "welfare recipients", and the recipients of the majority of "welfare dollars" in this country are minorities; particularly blacks and hispanics, and most particularly urban blacks and hispanics living in slums, ghettos, "the barrio", "the hood" etc...

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

It's certainly understandable why this misperception exists, because for the most part, it's the image the media, and politicians, present to us. It's just not true.

This is not to say that there aren't a large number of blacks and hispanics receiving some type of "welfare" in this county, or even that in many areas they do so in disproportionate numbers to their local populations. It just needs to be pointed out, that the common perception of "the welfare people" and "the welfare areas" as urban, and black is not only false, it's actually the complete opposite of the truth.

While this stereotype is generally true in large urban areas outside of the southwestern border states (California, Arizona, New mexico, and Texas, where the majority of urban recipients of state aid are hispanic); overall, even in heavily urbanized states, the very large majority (in most states without a "top 20" city it's generally somewhere between 60% and 80%) of those receiving AFDC, subsidized housing, food stamps, and medicaid (the most significant "welfare" programs); are white non-hispanic, and live in rural or semi-rural, suburban, or small metropolitan semi-urban areas.

It can be hard to generalize of course, because these things vary year to year, and state to state; and of course there are variations in how the states collect and report data; but some demographic factors are very clear, and any error or variability is damped out over time and in the aggregate, so a clear historical baseline and trend can be established.

Blacks and city dewellers simply are not the major "beneficiaries" of "welfare" programs in this coiuntry.

In fact, if you want to know what the "typical welfare town" looks like, it's not urban or black at all. It's very white, and very "middle america".

Likely It's a midwestern or southern, large town or small city; though these towns can be found in just about every state from Connecticut to California, and at most any size population, from a few thousand up to 200,000 or so.

Generally, it will have a very small "metropolitan area" around it, with a significant semi-rural or rural population around that, using the town for shopping and services.

It will generally have either a single major employer or majority single industry employment (often a legacy manufacturing industry, agribusiness, or a military base), along with the businesses that service and support those employed by that employer/industry.

Generally, that single company or industry will have closed down entirely, be subject to severe boom and bust cycles, or have just generally hit bad times and have significantly contracted.

Even if the towns revenue base was healthy and diversified, or their major employers are doing OK, often they are still in trouble because things have changed around them which have just made them economically stagnant or non-viable. In those cases, very often they were a thriving town or city before the interstate highway system expanded, and the rail network contracted; but now they are off the main transport routes, and they cost too much, or are too inconvenient, for infrastructure and logistics dependent employers, to economically operate.

Sometimes, they are farm towns, or often former farm towns. Over the past 80 years, our nations farm productivity has soared, but farm labor has crashed. Before the depression, at least 10% of our population directly farmed or ranched the land to produce foodstuffs or textiles. Now, it's less than 1%. That's great for the cost of food, and in general keeping inflation down... but what are all those people who used to be farmers doing now? Meanwhile, the populations of farming areas have grown at a rate similar to that of the rest of semi-rural america. Only there's no decent employment opportunities to support this growth.

Often, they are a distant satellite of a medium or large sized college town, state capital, military base town, or similar polity; close enough that the larger city pulls away business and talent, but not close enough for workers to economically commute, or for the smaller city to share in the largers suburban prosperity.

... and generally, outside of a few southeastern states, and the border states; these towns have largely majority white populations, with largely white populations of "welfare" recipients.

These are the places that the permanent or semi-permanent, intergenerational, white underclass in America live.

Those stuck in that underclass are most likely high school dropouts (about 50%), or GED recipients (about 25%. Only about 25% actually graduate high school). They have almost always become parents before the age of 24 (about 60%) if not actually while in high school (about 40% of those).

If we're just looking at women it's more like 80% have had children under the age of 24, 60% of those while still in high school, and 80% of them dropped out and did not later obtain a GD (at least not before the age of 24).

Even if they had any postsecondary education, or a trade outside the industry which has left the town non-viable (and Devry, other trade schools and for profit colleges and the like, recruit heavily in these populations), theres little or no nearby employment base for them to gain better employment.

They are likely (more than 50% overall, with more than 60% or males and more than 40% of females) to have multiple minor convictions for possession or intoxication, simple assault, driving with suspended license and insurance; or other relatively minor crimes, that while not felonies, do make getting better than low end employment difficult.

Very few are active habitual hard drug users, though intermittent methamphetamine and marijuana use are common (again, over 50%), and intermittent misuse of prescription drugs is becoming common.

Oh and while they may not generally be regular users, they are however statistically by far the most likely group of people to become serious abusers of methamphetamine.

Minor and intermittent alcohol abuse is common, but true alcoholism is relatively rare.

Most of them DO smoke though... in fact, they're the only group of white people in this country among whom more than 40% still smoke (about 40% of women and 60% of men).

They also tend to have poor diets, which in addition to making them more likely to be obese (more than 60%), when combined with their other risk factors is likely to make them far less healthy overall.This reduces both their testable intelligence scores (such as they are... rant for another time), and their expected lifespan by between 5% and 15%.

That's the white underclass in America today... and the "welfare" recipients alone make up something like 15-20% of the population, never mind the "working poor" who earn enough to be means tested out of "welfare" programs.

All told, white, black, hispanic, and everyone else, this institutionalized underclass is something like 25% to 35% of our population, depending how you count it, and whose numbers you believe. Most of them don't live in the inner cities, or the "hood"...

They live in... Jacksonville Illinois.... or Kearny Arizona... or Waycross Georgia.

... and whether they are recipients of state "aid" or not, they are in what is known as an equilibrium trap.

If things were any worse, people would just leave. Go to another place with better education and employment prospects.

If things were any better, people could get ahead, and the local economy could grow.

As it is, conditions are just in that "dead spot" on the curve, where they are both "good enough" or even "tolerable enough", that most people willing to live under them long term, AND where there there is little opportunity for anyone to significantly improve their life, without both a major expenditure of effort and resources, and significant risk of failure (actually, the near certainty of failure several times, before success is achieved).

The risk outweighs the potential reward for most, and most of the rest get beaten down by the multiple failures it generally takes before one can succeed.

Equilibrium traps are considered one of the worst steadystate socioeconomic problems for good reason.

That one particular issue: the fact that failure (even repeated failure) is a part of the process of success; is often the hardest obstacle to overcome.

 Even those who are motivated to improve their lot, and willing to put in the effort, and take the risk; generally have neither the resources to keep trying in the face of failure; nor the education, motivation, acculturation, and support network to help them do so... even if only to help them understand that failure is part of the process, and that it is possible to succeed.

So, you get an institutionalized underclass of the barely employed or unemployed, under-educated, disincentivized, and demoralized people, maybe just maybe just getting by, maybe just surviving...

Maybe not really living... maybe just... existing.

Of course, even when our government is not actually directly creating this equilibrium trap (and very often, they are), they encourage, support, and reinforce it. The government gives just enough "aid" to make things tolerable, but not enough to really make it better; not enough resources, or options, or freedom to let someone help themselves effectively; and they take EVERYTHING AWAY if you try to make it better for yourself.

It would be a case of perverse incentive, if it weren't for the fact that the system is clearly functioning as designerd. It's purpose is not to lift people up, or help them lift themselves... but to keep them under control.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

A Technological Life, or something like it

I have just been wasted the last few days.

I got sick last Thursday and was in bed all day, Then I thought I was better enough to go to a 4th of july BBQ and made myself worse. Because I'm an idiot, and do this almost every time I'm sick.

Then Monday, I have no idea what happened, I don't recall doing anything stupid to it other than... growing old I guess... but for some reason my lower back just locked up.

Rather painful that. Could barely move. I tried to get out of my truck and pump some diesel, and I literally couldn't manage it.

Two hours of little Korean lady sadists (yes, it took two of them. The first one could only last about 45 minutes before she was worn out) beating, elbowing, kneeing, and walking on my back (accompanied by repeated exclamations in mixed Korean and English to the effect of "Jesus christ... too much muscle... all too tense... all tied in knots") later, and I could almost sorta kinda walk upright again.

Almost...

The next morning however I was completely locked up again, and I've pretty much been locked up in bed, or on the couch, ever since.

Yay, pain.

Being sick, makes you dumb. Having back pain, very much makes you dumb. Which kinda leads to to the next thing...

My macbook pro is out for warranty service with Apple right now, so I'm on my windows laptop.

As it happens, I also just changed phones.

We switched from Verizon to T-Mobile a few months ago, but were using our old verizon phones (they're unlocked multiband global 4g phones) with t-mobile SIMs (yes, this works, you just have to know how to reprogram the phone to work on the new network, and it has to be fully unlocked).

A few weeks into this, my Galaxy S4 decided to stop working on T-Mobiles network, so I had to replace it.

After researching and comparing the current smartphone landscape, I ended up picking up a google Nexus 5. It's alright, but I don't really like it. I tend to work my devices hard, and the Nexus just didn't quite keep up with what I wanted it to do.

Mels phone was also unreliable, and since I have been preparing to start a new contract which will have me travelling a lot, we needed to get her a reliable replacement.

Or rather I got a replacement. Since I didn't care for the Nexus 5 but Mel likes it, she got the Nexus, and I grabbed a Galaxy S5 (which I'm quite happy with, as I expected I would be. I loved my S4, and the S5 is a straightforward upgrade to it).

Both my windows laptop, and my new phone, are wonderful, current, high performing examples of their type... However, neither of them had my full and current working setup or documents on them. The setups that typically take me a few weeks or more of tinkering and tweaking to get right, when I switch devices.

I am one of those folks who depends on their digital exobrains to run their lives; because, so to speak, I've got too many active tracks going, and I LOSE track of the ones not currently active.

I had forgotten to configure two pieces of software, and two accounts, on my windows laptop and new phone. A combination of just too many little things to remember, and the fact that I've been braindead the last week between being sick, and having really bad back pain.

This not having my digital exobrains properly updated and configured caused me to miss several messages, emails, and two con calls over the past few days.

Nothing that's going to kill me or anything, just one of those irritations of modern life.