“The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” – a brief review

January 14, 2009



My taste in prose has always tended toward non-fiction. And I’m much more in tune with work like Ted Kerasote’s excellent Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog than I am with the more sentimental (and just plain dumb) Marley & Me. I mean, John Grogan and his wife are both journalists and yet they seem to have absolutely no interest in educating themselves about dog behavior or finding a suitable trainer for Marley.

Because I’m known in my neighborhood as a ‘dog person’ a friend pressed his copy of Edgar Sawtelle on me with much encouragement. I tried hard to subtract all the hype, the Oprah Book Club selection and the vehemently divisive reviews and forum comments on Amazon. I wanted to read it as if I knew nothing at all about it and had just stumbled across it.

As I read I grew immersed in the world David Wroblewski creates and found that at 560 pages, it went surprisingly quickly. There are insights into both canine and human behavior than anyone with much experience of either will recognize. As a Shakespeare fan, I liked the loose connection with Hamlet.

(Of course, we all know that the bumpkin Will of Stratford-on-Avon didn’t write a word of Shakespeare’s canon; the real author was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, but that’s a tale for another entry.) 

I loved the dog-centric nature of the book (esp. the parts with Almondine, who is the Ophelia counterpart) and enjoyed the writing style; it seemed one step removed from realism, slightly mythic. 

The ending, which seems to raise the most controversy among readers, didn’t strike me as out of tune with the rest of the work. Perhaps because, due to the parallels with Hamlet, I was expecting a downer ending.

After all, in the play all the major characters are dead by the final curtain having been run over by a truck. (“I could tell you more, but suddenly I am run over by a truck.”—Michael O’Donoghue, “How to Write Good”). 

So don’t let all the hype turn you off, as it nearly did me, Edgar Sawtelle is worth spending time with.

Supplements Glucosamine/Chondroitin Don’t Work Any Better than a Sugar Pill

January 14, 2009

Dr. Donna Raditic’s column (“Nutraceutical News”) in the  Jan./Feb. 2009  of The Bark should be praised for emphasizing the point that “natural”is not always harmless. But I have to take issue with her very first recommendation: glucasamine and chondroitin supplements for ‘joint health.’


As the owner/guardian of two Labs and the spouse of an individual who suffered from hip dysplasia for 15 years and has had two hip replacements, I’ve learned a couple of things about these two supplements: they are enormously profitable for their distributors and their effectiveness is open to serious doubt.

The largest controlled clinical trial of glucasamine and chondroitin by the National Institutes of Health concluded that they don’t work any better than a sugar pill at halting the destruction of cartilage. The full report is available online from Arthritis & Rheumatism, the official monthly journal of the American College of Rheumatology, Sept. 29, 2008.


Dr. Ali Askari, chief of rheumatology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, put it this way in discussing the study, “The bottom line is that there is no specific difference between the placebo and the glucosamine/chondroitin mix.”

The bottom line for concerned dog owners? Research your supplements carefully.

Flashback to Feb. 1984: John C. Dvorak disses that “new fangled device” the computer mouse

January 13, 2009

In January, 1984 the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface rather than a command line interface was introduced, Apple Computer’s Macintosh.


Of course, the best and the brightest of the day’s tech writers immediately saw it for the game changer it was and heralded it as the next great advance in computer technology. Or did they?

“The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I don’t want one of these new fangled devices.”

— the ever-prescient John C. Dvorak in the San Francisco Examiner

Or how about David Bunnell from The Macintosh Reader: “To hold up the Macintosh experience as an example of how to create a great product, launch an industry, or spark a revolution is a cruel joke.”

For more jollies about ‘Job’s folly’ follow the link below:

Jan. 1984: How critics reviewed the Mac – Apple 2.0.

FREE High-Resolution Grungy Paper Textures from Six Revisions

January 13, 2009

Six Revisions has a selection of excellent free high-res grungy paper textures available for download for the price we love best — FREE. Here’s a low-res sample, the link follows below.



High-Resolution Grungy Paper Textures – Six Revisions

Nut allergies – a Yuppie invention – Los Angeles Times

January 12, 2009

Joel Stein makes points familiar to all skeptics in this opinion piece. Want to become even more skeptical than you already are? Go here. I double-dog dare ya.

Nut allergies – a Yuppie invention – Los Angeles Times.

10 Things You Won’t See After the Recession – Business Center – PC World

January 12, 2009

Mike Elgan of Computerworld makes a good argument for his list. I disagree about the installed base of landline phones but I could be wrong and he might be right. And this was written before CES and the announcement of the Palm Pre. Consider that U2’s Bono bet $100 million of his own dollars that Mike is wrong about this one.

10 Things You Won’t See After the Recession – Business Center – PC World.

How the City Hurts your Brain

January 12, 2009

As of 25 year resident of NYC I read this article with more than a casual interest. Some research appears to show that urban life can impair our basic mental processes. This seems oxymoronic while sitting on the D train watching women apply eye make-up at 7:30 am as the subway car lurches into Rockefeller Center, but sobering when you realize it applies equally to everyone.

Here’s one conclusion I didn’t need a scientific study to confirm: “A tired brain, run down by the stimuli of city life, is more likely to lose its temper.” Tell me something I don’t know.

For the complete article go here How the city hurts your brain – Boston.com.

hugin – Free Panorama photo stitcher

January 12, 2009

Here’s an easy to use cross-platform panoramic imaging toolchain based on Panorama Tools.

With hugin you can assemble a mosaic of photographs into a complete immersive panorama, stitch any series of overlapping pictures and more.

To download the software, go to the site here.

George W. Bush: Idiot-In-Chief

January 5, 2009

From a list compiled by the AP:

  •  “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.” – September 2000, explaining his energy policies at an event in Michigan. 
  •  “Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?” – January 2000, during a campaign event in South Carolina. 
  •  “They misunderestimated the compassion of our country. I think they misunderestimated the will and determination of the commander in chief, too.” – Sept. 26, 2001, in Langley, Va. Bush was referring to the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. 
  •  “There’s no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail.” – Oct. 4, 2001, in Washington. Bush was remarking on a back-to-work plan after the terrorist attacks.
  •  “It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber.” – April 10, 2002, at the White House, as Bush urged Senate passage of a broad ban on cloning. 
  •  “I want to thank the dozens of welfare-to-work stories, the actual examples of people who made the firm and solemn commitment to work hard to embetter themselves.” – April 18, 2002, at the White House. 
  •  “There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.” – Sept. 17, 2002, in Nashville, Tenn.
  •  “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” – Aug. 5, 2004, at the signing ceremony for a defense spending bill. 
  •  “Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” – Sept. 6, 2004, at a rally in Poplar Bluff, Mo. 
  •  “Our most abundant energy source is coal. We have enough coal to last for 250 years, yet coal also prevents an environmental challenge.” – April 20, 2005, in Washington.
  •  “We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job.” – Sept. 20, 2005, in Gulfport, Miss. 
  •  “I can’t wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbors back into neighborhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs.” – Sept. 5, 2005, when Bush met with residents of Poplarville, Miss., in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. 
  •  “It was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship. After all, 60 years we were at war 60 years ago we were at war.” – June 29, 2006, at the White House, where Bush met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. 
  •  “Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die.” – Dec. 7, 2006, in a joint appearance with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. 
  •  “These are big achievements for this country, and the people of Bulgaria ought to be proud of the achievements that they have achieved.” – June 11, 2007, in Sofia, Bulgaria.
  •  “Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit.” – September 2007, in Sydney, Australia, where Bush was attending an APEC summit.
  •  “Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech.” – April 16, 2008, at a ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to the White House. 
  •  “The fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there’s jobs at the machine-making place.” – May 27, 2008, in Mesa, Ariz. 
  •  “And they have no disregard for human life.” – July 15, 2008, at the White House. Bush was referring to enemy fighters in Afghanistan. 
  •  “I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.” – June 26, 2008, during a Rose Garden news briefing. 
  •  “Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people.” – July 4, 2008 in Virginia. 
  •  “The people in Louisiana must know that all across our country there’s a lot of prayer – prayer for those whose lives have been turned upside down. And I’m one of them. It’s good to come down here.” – Sept. 3, 2008, at an emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, La., after Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast. 
  •  “This thaw – took a while to thaw, it’s going to take a while to unthaw.” Oct. 20, 2008, in Alexandria, La., as he discussed the economy and frozen credit markets. 
  • Dogs of War – 1,000 Feral Dogs in Baghdad

    January 5, 2009

    Feral Dog Control in Baghdad, Sept. 2008

    In Islamic culture there is no history of keeping dogs as pets, they are considered unclean animals. The idea of having a pet dog, as opposed to a working dog, is seen as a recent, Western notion and is embraced by very few. There are no dog shelters or rescue groups in Iraq. When the population goes hungry, the dogs starve.

    Now there is the problem of the feral dogs, seen as disease carriers and a direct danger to children and the elderly. In Baghdad 13 people died in August 2008 in the capital after being attacked by dogs and the only controversy is over how to eliminate them. Currently, rifles (above) and poisoned meat are the preferred methods.

    « Previous PageNext Page »