Tuesday, May 31, 2005

New job for Leo

One of the disadvantages of being a dog is that I don't get to read today's paper today - I have to wait until it's on the floor - so this is a reaction to news most of you saw a couple days ago: the FAA is looking into some new screening equipment that would let those screeners (who aren't allowed to grope people anymore) actually see through your clothes. The admitted problem, though, is that it can't see through skin: people with wrinkles and folds like a Shar Pei (or people with body cavities) can still pass through security with all manner of dangerous things concealed.

Leo, the Rottweiler across the back fence, is under-employed (even though he went to one of those la-te-da private schools for the privileged registered pups). But he's a sniffer. He's good at sticking his nose in wrinkles and folds. He's good at finding what people are trying to keep private. Beta says he's disgusting. Alpha just pushes him away and laughs, then reminds me what a good dog I am because I show more respect than that to two-legged dogs. Unfortunately, that leaves me out of the job I have in mind for Leo.

Anyway, here's my proposal: let's put Leo to work at the airport. He comes out ahead, because he gets out of the yard for a few hours, and so does the FAA: Leo stands with the ex-groper by the line of folks going through security, and he puts his nose wherever he wants. The people who object or act uncomfortable obviously have something to hide, and need to be detained as probable terrorists.

Leo wouldn't be any more intrusive, and ten bones says he'd be more effective, than the current system or the machines that see through clothes.

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Purebreds and pound pups

This one has been irritating me for a few days now, like a sluggish flea that only wakes up once in a while: I go about my business, not even thinking about it, just eating, sleeping (in the sun when it's out), barking at anything that threatens the pack's territory, and OUCH! - there it is again. So I scratch-scratch-scratch, and it goes away for a while again.

The ankle-biter, Omega, is paper-trained (sort of. I think he has dementia, though. That or horrible aim), so Alpha and Beta leave the newspaper out for him, and sometimes I get to read some of it before he makes it all soggy.

Anyway, here's the editorial that became my sluggish flea:


(Sorry - I haven't figured out how to make those clicky-links, so you'll have to copy that and paste it in your browser.)

I don't have all the details of the study, because I haven't seen it - just that editorial, but the way it looks to me is this:

Some people apparently like to send their AKC-registered pups to private schools , a privilege they pay a big pile of bones for. They believe those private schools are better, somehow.

Other people just send their pups (mostly pound pups like me, but some are registered breeds) to the neighborhood school that everybody pays a few bones to support.

Now according to the study this editorial talks about, if those fancy-dog owners kept their big pile of bones and sent their AKC-registered dog to the neighborhood school, s/he would get just as good, and sometimes better, training than at those private schools that cost so much, because that's what happens to the AKC-registered pups who do exactly that: they match or out-perform the private-school pups at the trials and shows.

To which I say, "Well, duh!"

We have all kinds of dogs in the neighborhood. Some went to private schools, and some went to whatever school happened to be in the neighborhood. I can't honestly see much difference in how they turned out.

Some dogs just never get it all together: they don't learn how to sit or lie down, they don't learn that some things you do outside no matter how bad you hurt from waiting, they don't learn that you don't bark for no reason, and they don't learn that the best way to get a pat on the back and a treat is to find the bird and then hold still with your head aimed at the spot and your tail straight out and your left front paw lifted up.

Other dogs learn all those things and more, and it doesn't matter where they went to school - it matters how much time and energy their owners put into helping the schools train them, into reinforcing and encouraging their pup's education, into establishing expectations that the pup will indeed learn.

Now if that's true (and it is), then why would anyone pay extra for the fancy label? The tires on the Escalade aren't any different that the tires on the Tahoe, yet some people insist on trading more bones for the same thing - just so they can think that somehow makes them better? Unfortunately for them, this study shows them it just isn't so.

I guess it's as if the purebreds went to private schools only to learn to believe they're better dogs than I am: I work harder, I play harder, and I shed more hair on the couch than they'll ever dream of!

And I finally got rid of that nagging itch.

Oh, and here's the article that inspired the editorial:


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Friday, May 27, 2005


I have to admit I don't think as quickly as Alpha and Beta. I run faster and turn quicker, though, so it works out in the long run (hehe).

Anyway, I was scarfing up my kibbles tonight while the box in the living room was talking about some little pill that causes blindness. I perked my ears up and stopped chewing so I could hear the rest of the story, and it turns out to be the same Viagra pill that they were giving away to sex offenders and everybody was all upset.


Sounds like a neat solution to me....

Gotta finish dinner.

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The magic of private investment accounts

Sorry for my extended absence, but Beta gave me a couple of those nice big rawhide bones, so I've been sidetracked. I like it though, because I can gnaw on 'em for a while and then just put my head down and think a bit.

A couple stories on the talking box caught my attention the last few days: one was about the Northwest Airlines pension fund, and the other was about the Minneapolis teachers pension fund. The way it sounds to me, both of them are going belly up (which to us dogs just means we're making ourselves vulnerable. I don't understand why you insist on distorting that).

What they have in common, I think, is that they are both carefully managed accounts that are designed to supplement Social Security, and they are both threatened by not having enough bones to give all the dogs who were promised bones. And, maybe most importantly, they were both created as a way for management to say "Hey, we'd really like to give you more bones to take home everyday, but we just can't - we don't HAVE that many bones right now. But here's what we'll do: if you agree to keep on working for the bones we're giving you now, when you get old enough to just stay home and lie in the shade, we'll make sure you get a big juicy bone to chew on every day."

Fair enough. We dogs are pretty much trusting sorts, so we go along. We believe the stock market (whatever it is) will deliver those big juicy bones.

And then, come to find out, the stock market isn't going to deliver the bones.

The part of the whole thing that makes me snort is that the head dog in Washington actually has people believing his story about carefully managed investment accounts being a good thing for every dog. Who won in these two cases? The management teams that promised the juicy bones: they got all those years of less expensive labor (so they got to keep more bones) and they get out of paying off their promises.

There, my friends, is the real magic in private investment accounts.

That's it for now. There's a bush in the yard that needs marking.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Now these questions are interesting...

Alpha got this in the mail today and tossed it. I immediately decided it was more interesting than the credit card application he put in the pile by the shredder, so shook off the coffee grounds and carried it under the bed to take a closer look. It's the spring survey from the Republican National Committee (Form RNC-2005) - the Republican Party Census Document.

It starts with a four-page letter from Ken Mehlman that was just silly - it seems the Democrats want to take control of the Senate and the House back from the Republicans, and maybe the White House as well in a few years.They've even hired "professional activists." Well, I tell you what. I don't know much about the Senate, but Alpha has a shotgun that we use to knock birds down so I can bring them back, and anyone trying to take over the house will provide us with some serious entertainment. If Mr. Mehlman thinks I'm going to send him money to avoid that kind of fun, he's nuts. I don't care what color Alpha paints the house.

Then we get to the questions, printed on that nice, medium-weight stuff that's so fun to chew on in the wee hours of the night. It calls for an answer of "yes," "no," or "undecided" to each question, but you have to fill in those little circle things, and I can't do that. It's hard enough to use a keyboard :(

Some of these questions I don't have any personal experience with, but we do watch a little bit of those moving pictures of talking heads on that box in the living room, so I know what I think anyway. I'll mark those answers with a *, just so you know when I'm not speaking from my own experience.


1. Do you support President Bush's initiative to promote the safety and security of all Americans?

I don't think so. I used to be able to fly in the plane with Alpha when we went to see the other parts of the family. Now I can't. That doesn't make me more secure at all.

2. Do you support the use of air strikes against any country that offers safe harbor or aid to individuals or organizations committed to further attacks on America?

Not until they can figure out a way to not bomb the good dogs right along with the bad dogs.

3. Do you continue to support increasing the amount of security at airports, train stations and all government buildings including monuments and museums?

Alpha tells people I'm "aggressively friendly" but that's really only with people I can tell are good. Bad people make me nervous, so I tell Alpha I don't like 'em. Alpha and Beta got me at the pound, and there's lots more dogs there like me. Want more security? Bail my brothers and sisters out, park us at the airport, and let us judge. One of those guys in the green suits with the gun that shoots really fast could keep an eye on us and talk to the ones we say are bad. That'd work better than groping little old ladies.


1. Should the inheritance or "Death Tax" be permanently repealed?

I honestly don't worry about taxes of any kind, 'cause Alpha takes care of that sort of thing. But here's my deal: any kids I bring into the world will have to find their own way. I'll make sure they get enough food and enough training to have an even chance, but they don't get the bones I buried. They can have the house and the food dish, I guess, 'cause I won't care. If I don't teach them to carry their own weight, then that's my fault. Any bones left over when I die just recycle themselves into grass and trees and bushes to pee on. Seems to me as if it should apply to the rest of you, too.

2. Do you support President Bush's pro-growth policies to create more jobs and improve the economy?

Personally, I wish he'd put more effort into making better-tasting dogfood. That same-ole, same-ole stuff in the bowl every day tastes like cardboard. Which is okay, I guess - this survey will taste the same as the food. And that cardboard the wind blew into the yard this morning. Now, I have to go to the * part:

*It seems to me that most of the President's "policies" to make things better for the other alpha's who bring home the kibbles involve letting people who already have more bones than they know what to do with collect even more bones in the hopes that they will use some of them to bribe us into trading them three-for-two so they have even more. I'd rather have a bigger bone for myself.

3. Should Congress focus on cutting the federal deficit by reducing wasteful government spending?

I'll go straight to the * on this one:

* Lemme see. That famous hammer-and-toilet-seat example from before I was born gets brought up occasionally around our (tan) house, so I'll use it, too. Everyone noticed that you could buy the same stuff at the neighborhood hardware store for just a few bones, and everyone blamed the government for wasteful spending. I'm not about to suggest that those government people shouldn't have been punished, but how come the people who got all those extra bones didn't get chased under the bed too? Oh. Wait. That's the same kind of people who now run Haliburton. They have so many bones no one would dream of chasing them under the bed.

Somehow I think "wasteful government spending" won't go away under this administration, and maybe under none.


1. Do you support President Bush's plan to make our schools more accountable to parents and to restore local control of education?

*Ummm.... How has "No Child Left Behind" restored local control of education? Alpha's brother-in-law was here the other night, and he said the kids at his school have spent forty days this year testing to prove that they have met the requirements of NCLB. That's over 20% of the school year. So President Bush has said "Let's make things better in the public schools by reducing the amount of time spent on teaching to a little less than four days a week instead of five. I thought he went to Yale. Or maybe Yale doesn't teach common sense...

2. Should students, teachers, principals, and administrators be held to higher standards?

*No. They should be held to the HIGHEST standards. So should politicians. Let's start by suggesting that Mr. Mehlman realize that principals ARE administrators. He needs four categories in that equation, but the one he left out was support staff - the ones who don't get very many bones at all. Maybe he thinks they don't count because they don't have enough bones to be important. But if that's why he skipped them, why would he worry about teachers or principals? Ahah! Now I know why he made a special category called "administrators" - that's for the ones who get enough bones to buy toilet seats at the government store (or slide enough bones to others to get jobs at private companies that pay even more bones - just like politicians).

3. Do you agree that teaching our children to read and increasing literacy rates should be a national priority?

I know this is a one-bone shot, but we have a president who thinks that "nuclear" and "nucular" are the same word, and he's preaching literacy? We have the blind leading the deaf here. (See http://www-csli.stanford.edu/~nunberg/nucular.html for a very lucid discussion of the possible reasons for the "nucular" thing.)

1. Do you support President Bush's initiative to allow private religious and charitable groups to do more to help those in need?

If I give one of my bones to the government to give to the dog down the street whose Alpha isn't as good as mine, and the government gives it to The Sheltie Society to pass on to hungry shelties, don't you think I have a right to know it got there? So that "private religious or charitable group" better open up their books so I can see where my bone went. Oops. They're no longer "private." Guess I have to say no on this one. They already have the right to help the dog down the street, but I don't need another layer of people in between trying to decide where to give the bone the government took away from me in the first place. Let's not pretend that the administrators of charities are another charity themselves.

2. Do you support the law, passed by the Republican Congress and signed by President Bush, that bans partial birth abortions?

I've never had a pup of my own. To get me out of the pound, Alpha and Beta had to get me fixed. So I can't wrap my mind around accepting abortion at all. But I look at all the un-adopted pups at the pound and I think to myself "Why don't these people who try to tell the rest of us what's moral get off the pulpit and adopt a pup? Or give the government enough bones to keep those pups healthy and quit whining about the expense?" Damned hypocrites.

3. Do you support the President's efforts to save Social Security for future generations?

Bones for the retired is an economic issue in the first place, not a social issue. Unfortunately, it also seems to be a political issue, so that means everyone will try to make it confusing (like suggesting it's a "social" issue rather than an "economic" one). The President wants private accounts. Alpha and Beta already have private accounts. They're called IRAs and Roth IRAs and 401(k)s and all kinds of things. Beta's brother has a 403(b), whatever that is. All of those are private accounts. All of those are already legal. So the President want to take bones from my Mama (or worse, from me, 'cause I don't have all my teeth anymore, either), and let some still-in-the-sac pup decide to give 'em to Enron?? And this is going to create ECONOMIC security how???

4.Do you think Congress should pass legislation on the Federal Marriage Amendment?

I think marriage is a family issue. It's not a State issue, it's not a Federal issue. Alpha and Beta seem to get along just fine. They both love me and Omega-the-ankle-biter. And their two-legged kids seem to like us too. We're back to the pulpit issue. There must be some bones to be gained in the Anti-Partnership crap. Why are you so interested in what these people who supply my bones do inside the house? They call Peeping Toms "perverts."


1. Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations' commanders?

Aren't paybacks a bitch?(Sorry - dog joke) We joined the UN 'cause we created it, we don't give 'em the bones we said we would, and then we whine when they think we're not everything we think we are. According to most of what I see in that talking box in the living room, we want the UN to do what we want, even if we're holding all our bones between our own paws. Let's keep in mind that according to ECONOMIC ISSUES #3, U.S. commanders are willing to pay tons of bones for a toilet seat, while the soldiers have to pee in the bushes anyway.

2. Do you agree that our top military prioity should be fighting terrorists?

Yep. And let's leave Haliburton out of the loop, shall we? They already have more bones than they know what to do with. Oh, wait - I'm 'sposed to invest my retirement in those guys....

3. Should the U.S. continue work on building a defense shield against nuclear missle attack?

Hehe - 'nother one-bone joke: don't you mean nucular?? And another no-bone question. Of course I want all the pups in the 'hood to be safe from attack. But for the number of bones they envision spending for that pie-in-the-sky crap that just gives more bones for defense contractors who already have plenty, they could build us all concrete, underground dog-houses that would be more effective.

Well, that's enough whine for tonight's kibbles. Time to go hole up with the pack.

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