November 25, 2008
The US Department of Agriculture released their report this week adding new details to the practices at Michael Vicks’ Bad Newz Kennels in Smithfield, Virginia. Vicks, along with several others, has already pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for running a dog-fighting ring and is expected to plead guilty to state charges, getting a three year suspended sentence. Vicks will be out of Leavenworth in July 2009.
The report shows that after failing an FBI polygraph test in October 2007 the former Atlanta Falcon quarterback recanted his denial and admitted taking part in the hanging of dogs from a nylon cord nailed to a tree and drowning others in a five gallon bucket of water.
Twice Vick put family pets into the fighting ring with pit bulls because he “thought it was funny to watch the pit bulls. . . injure or kill the other dogs.” Vick also admitted watching his friends hang, shoot and electrocute pit bulls.
For the full report go to the Smoking Gun’s site, here.
To learn the details of how Vick went from being the highest paid player in NFL history in 2004, signing a $130 million contract, to bankruptcy while in prison, check out ESPN’s Harper’s Index-style run down on the numbers here.
One bright spot is the $928,073 he was required to give to rehabilitate the 47 pit bulls that survived their time in the Bad Newz Kennels.
November 23, 2008
Michael Markarian led a press conference this morning, (Nov. 21) packed with television cameras at The Humane Society of the United States’ headquarters in Washington, D.C., to announce the results of a new eight-month investigation into puppy mill cruelty. The HSUS investigated more than 20 Petland stores and found that these stores, part of the nation’s largest puppy-selling retail chain, are selling dogs from abusive puppy mills in Missouri and across the Midwest, while assuring consumers that they only buy puppies from good breeders with the highest standards of care. Some Petland stores even buy puppies from brokers and middlemen, and may not even know who the breeder is until after the puppy arrives in the store.
Read the rest of this article and see the video here.
November 21, 2008
Google announced on Nov. 18 that it will undertake one of the largest scanning projects ever proposed: putting over 10 million images from the archives of LIFE magazine online.
What’s really striking about this is that 97 per cent of these images have never been seen by the public. So that means that LIFe magazine which was for over four decades America’s pictorial view of the world only used 3 per cent of the work submitted by their photographers. Among the iconic image makers who worked for LIFE are photographers like Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, Gordon Parks, and W. Eugene Smith.
For more information about this amazing project, go here.
November 20, 2008
I’ve posted about Dr. Fox previously and here’s one of his newspaper columns from this past week where he encourages readers to submit their stories of communicating telepathically with their pets. Click on the article thumbnail for a readable version.
Telepathy is a term coined by Frederick W.H. Myers in 1882 in an article for the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Literally the word means “distance feeling.”
Personally, I don’t think that Dr. Fox or the letter writers in this column are guilty of incompetence or fraud. I accept that they truly believe in the accuracy of their impressions. The real question is, is that belief enough for anyone else to accept that their perception is accurate? Their are many possible explanations that do not require telepathy to be real, in order to account for this perception. It could be simply that these pet owners (and Dr. Fox) are engaging in self-deception or wishful thinking.
There’s another category of possible error that should be mentioned: subjective validation. This is, almost definition, the problem with animal telepathy. We only have the person who believes in the telepathic communication reporting that it is taking place.
In 1994 a British dog owner, Pam Smart claimed that her dog Jaytee, a terrier, was able to psychically sense when she was coming home, according to reports of his behavior by her parents. Jaytee achieved world-wide fame when he was featured on the World of the Paranormal TV show and Channel 4′s Absolutely Animals.
Four years later the results of a scientific study were released and stated that “Jaytee’s love affair with sitting by the porch has more to do with passing cats, playing children and cars whizzing by.” Their conclusion was that ”In all four experiments Jaytee failed to detect accurately when Pam Smart set off to return home.” Here’s a BBC article on the case, Psychic Dog Phenomenon brought back down to Earth.
November 10, 2008
A wonderful aspect of the community that has build up around Word Press is the designers who create themes and then release them for use for FREE! I’ll admit I don’t understand the business model here, but then I think my local library is a sucker for letting me have books at no cost and let’s me return them after I’ve extracted all the information from them.
Anyway, go here for a very nice collection of WP themes. . .
November 2, 2008
Here’s a two-page sci-fi short short story called “The Terrible Planet” written by Allan Anders. It appeared in the November, 1952 issue, No. 6 of “Fantastic Worlds — Amazing Planet and Space Adventures” a title published by the modestly named Standard Comics. [ A postal regulation required comic books to have at least two pages of text to qualify for a discounted magazine mailing rate. ]
In this tale the Men of Earth Finally Find a Way to Conquer the Menace of Saturn! (Thank God!)
What if the Solar Council offered to temporarily transplant your brain into a robotic body called a Rover. The Rover was nine feet long and six feet high and looked like a giant metal greyhound. This body needed no food and it would function for 60,000 years before it began to deteriorate.
What if you didn’t want to give it back?
Clicking twice on the images below will open a larger, much more readable image in your browser.