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Profile Information

Name: Hunter
Gender: Male
Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 37,639

About Me

I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing.

Journal Archives

The ten year old plus dog we adopted is awesome.

She radiates joy. Everything we do makes her happy. She looked so sad in the animal shelter. We couldn't leave her there. They said they were going to put her down if they couldn't find her owner. They found her owner, but he couldn't take her back, so we took her home.

I'm absolutely certain this dog is thankful we adopted her.

We didn't know it when we got her, but she's a pig hunter. That's why she's covered with scars. She's a well mannered dog in the house, she loves people, but we've learned we can't walk her off-leash in the wilderness because she'll run out and round up anything her previous owner liked to shoot, preferably something large and dangerous. Pigs, coyotes... probably bears and mountain lions too. That's why she's missing most of her tail, chunks of her ears, some teeth, and walks with a limp.

Her last encounter was with a bobcat. The cat ripped a huge gash in her scalp before it escaped unharmed. The dog came back and looked at me like I was a moron because I didn't shoot her prey, the same as our encounter with the pig. I looked at her bloody shredded head and face and decided I was never going to let her run free again. My wife is an expert with surgical glue so we didn't have to go to the vet but it was a nasty looking wound, peeled open so we could see the meat underneath. But it's healing nicely...

The only other dog we've had that was this awful was a catahoula, yet another shelter dog. She was the smartest dog I've ever had, with the same extreme enthusiasm for life, but she always had sense enough to keep her distance from whatever she was chasing which was a good thing because my wife's parents' neighbors had some adopted BLM horses that were intent on killing her when they first met, but eventually they became buddies.

This dog seems okay around horses, she seems disinterested when I've got her on the leash and they pass on the trail, but I'm not chancing it.

Much better than fishmeal.

Scooping up everything out of the ocean and turning it into fishmeal for "farmed" salmon and other industrial scale meat production is just one of the ways we are destroying the oceans.

Of course the problem with these sorts of innovations is they rarely replace environmentally destructive practices. When more salmon feed is produced we simply get more salmon farms, when more chicken feed is produced we get more industrial chicken production.

I don't think eating animals is in itself unethical. Humans have been eating animals for a very long time. Eating animals is in our genes.

As a kid most of the meat we ate was fish we caught or actual farm and ranch animals, not animals raised in factories. My dad didn't hunt but he has friends who do which is good for occasional venison, etc. I've eaten pigs and chickens and cows I've seen alive. Some pig I fed and talked to ended up in the freezer. Which is why I'm now a vegetarian most days.

When I do eat meat I know where it comes from. My mom goes so far as to thank the spirit of the animal on the dinner plate, especially the Thanksgiving turkey. (One more reason many Christian religions have shunned her...) My mom and dad also hosted a couple of vegan Thanksgiving dinners when I was a kid which my ranching and dairy family older relatives were not too keen about. So they'd compensate by serving extra dead meat when Thanksgiving was held at their homes. We'd get turkey, pork, venison, trout, beef and salmon! My mom had lots of animal spirits to thank, but mostly she did it silently.

So I wonder... if I made a meatloaf out of fly larvae could I connect to some sort of individual insect animal spirit? Mostly flies annoy me, but I was watching a little Hoverfly this morning and it seemed a little spirit was in there.

Maybe this is the sort of thing you must generalize to a God or a Great Spirit. I'll give my most non-heretical Christian friends and relatives that, that their Thank you God is a generalized "thank You to the turkey spirits You created too."

Strict vegans may disagree, but I have trouble with plant spirits too. I'm trained as a biologist. Plant's are like animals that can't run away. They might easily be much more sophisticated than insects. Therefore if you are the sort of person who thanks animal spirits, then you ought to be thanking plant spirits too...

Complications, complications....

I do all sorts of chemical photography...

... when the mood strikes.

I develop my own B&W film. The last thing I played with was cyanotypes. I use large format film or I print "negatives" for my contact prints on transparency paper. I have a few 75+ year old cameras that I load with 120 or 4X5 sheet film one way or another.

I also love my Polaroids.

But it's been a long time since I had any kind of darkroom. It's too easy to scan film, make the picture the way I want on the computer, and have it printed at Costco or the locally owned camera store.

I'm probably a horrible environmentalist because the silver used in film is a toxic heavy metal, mining silver is bad, etc., etc., but I like old film cameras. It's some kind of magic.

J.K. Rowling is the penultimate example of a welfare success story.

In order to teach in Scotland she would need a postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE), requiring a full-time, year-long course of study. She began this course in August 1995 at the Moray House School of Education, at Edinburgh University, after completing her first novel while having survived on social security.


Most people are going to find a way to contribute something to society even if they are never capable of "supporting themselves."

The truth of any human community is that NOBODY ever truly supports themselves, we all build upon one another's accomplishments.

Even a wild man living like an animal in the forest isn't "supporting himself." He is supported by the natural environment, the air he breathes, the water he drinks, the plants and animals he eats.

In a vacuum an individual human dies. We could drop any "successful" person naked on Mars and they'd end up just as freeze dried and dead as anyone else.

Since our status in life is essentially random, because none of us chooses the circumstances of our own birth, everyone deserves those minimal things required to sustain human life, not just food, shelter, and medical care, but education too since humans are intellectual creatures and human societies are an intellectual creation.

I couldn't do it. I tried teaching in the city.

It took everything I had to give. I used to sweep my classroom at the end of the day, not because the custodians wouldn't do it, but because the classroom was empty and quiet and I needed to decompress and get my head together before I went out in public, before I got in my car and drove home.

Otherwise I might have been Mr. Road Rage, or Mr. distracted driver replaying all the dramas of the day in my head, no resolution possible.

Our upper classes starve the schools, starve the people, and then when the people become angry and their communities dysfunctional the upper classes blame the people for that hunger and dysfunction, and they propose "solutions" like privatization that will only suck more money and vitality from the communities they are starving.

More money will fix the schools. Pay students from within the community to go to college and become teachers. Make classes smaller, provide free breakfast and lunches, support communities with a generous welfare system and well paying jobs. Make schools a nice place to be, a kind of oasis of safety and sanity in communities that are rough.

We could do it. We could flip our tax system so that property taxes paid for the "common defense" and income taxes paid for education. Wouldn't that work well -- let the guy with the million dollar house pay for useless aircraft carriers. We could raise the minimum wage. We could create good government jobs in places where the private sector has failed the people.

The money people created this problem. It's stupid to pay any attention at all to their proposed solutions.

Proudest day of my grandfather's life was when Armstrong walked on the moon.

My grandpa was one of the many, many engineers who made it possible, but it was Armstrong and his fellow astronauts who had the guts to ride that dragon.

Hunter goes hunting wild animals with a rake...

My wife's parents live in the Sierra foothills near a river. It's long been cattle country so it's home to every sort of non-native invasive weed, from thistles to a dozen kinds of obnoxious grasses that stick in your socks.

There's a shaded sandy beach on the river that we keep clear of these alien invaders for entirely selfish reasons. It's a great place to hang out on hot summer days. We walk down to the river with our rakes and hoes, and in a few minutes the beach is clear.

Our family dogs have always considered this place heaven on earth. Our little children build sandcastles and try to catch fish.

Recently, back at home in the heart of agrarian California, we visited our local animal shelter. This never turns out well because we usually end up taking home the most un-adoptable dog they have. This time was no exception.

The dog that caught our attention was an old hound. She was covered with scars, she walked crooked, she was missing teeth, three-quarters of her tail, and a few chunks of ear. The shelter people said they'd put her down if they didn't find her owner.

But she was among the most intelligent, well-mannered, and gentle dogs we'd ever met. She looked so sad and depressed in the shelter, like she'd rather be dead than have no pack and nothing to do. My wife told the shelter we'd adopt her.

The shelter did find her owner, but he couldn't take her back. By the dog's behavior, especially her fondness of pickup trucks and her calm demeanor around power tools, I'm guessing he's a construction worker suffering some hard times.

So the dog came home with us and she is a wonderful gentle soul who sleeps in the sun, does a happy dance whenever anybody pays her attention, and is extraordinarily attentive to the rules of our household.

We knew she would love visiting my wife's parents.

It's a long hot drive across the valley and fifteen minutes after we arrived we decide to take the dogs to the river. On a typical visit to the river the family dogs will splash through the water, romp about, playfully chase a few mice, rabbits, or ground squirrels, and then dig in and settle down in the cool sand.

First thing new dog does at the river is hold her nose up sniffing, sniffing... and then she dashes across the river and into the brambles, faster than I've ever seen her move, with the rest of the dogs following in joyful pursuit. Then we hear a huge amount of thrashing in the underbrush. Then our youngest dog, who looks like a big fox or a little red coyote, a fearless hunter of mice and chaser of road-runners, suddenly leaps out of the brush, falls six feet sideways into the river, swims across, and hides behind my wife.

I grab a rake and run across the river towards the commotion. Then I hear our other dog, who's an easy going mutt with the temperament of a big lazy urban labrador retriever, yelp in terror, and then she too comes flying out of the brush and into the river, and her head is bleeding. (Fortunately it was just a scrape, probably the result of her hasty retreat.)

At this point the old hound is the only one left in the brush chasing after something, and singing with joy.

I tear through the brush and brambles with a rake in hand, and old hound dog sees me. She leaps over a big boulder, out of sight. I see nothing. Then I hear a rustling maybe three feet from where I'm standing.

I look down, belly level in the brambles, and it's the face of a monster. And hound dog is on the other side nipping at its ass.

The beast looks at me like it could kill and eat me. I know it could. I hold the rake uselessly in front of me and take a few steps backwards. Then three hundred pounds of tusked angry pork takes flight, deftly dodging the rake, brushing against me, hound in hot pursuit.

I know she's a good dog because she eventually came back when I called, and she has since forgiven me for letting the hog escape. Now I know how she got those scars. She hunts hogs.

This experience has got me thinking about a lot of things, especially how unnatural it all was. First of all, I'm burning gasoline to drive with my family across California to visit a "natural" place populated with Eurasian imports like thistles and pigs, with a dog bred and trained to hunt these pigs.

But even before Columbus, this "natural" environment was greatly modified by the first Americans.

So I'm thinking what comes next? Will we recreate and enjoy a "natural" environment of our choosing someday, maintained with a deft and skillful hand, or must we suffer chaos and collapse?

There's so much in this world we don't see. Most of the time those pigs on the opposite shore of the river are invisible to us.

The fun really starts when they use natural gas to make gasoline.

This also throws a monkey wrench into the symbiotic relationship between wind energy and natural gas. Without inexpensive natural gas backup wind energy projects become much less viable.

We'll be sucking really hard on the straw when we're making synthetic "natural" gas out of coal. By that time the economy and the environment will be in ruins, but they'll still be people looking for the next technical fix.

What we really need is to reduce the population of people living in unsustainable ways. Unfortunately the people living the least sustainable lifestyles control the markets, the politicians, and the media. The sociopaths of the 1% would starve half the population and enslave the rest to protect their own wealth and power.

Here in the U.S.A. increasing numbers of us are volunteering for duty as wage slaves and supporting the destructive and unsustainable schemes hatched by obscenely wealthy criminals simply because we're afraid these masters might otherwise throw us off the ship.

And this fear is well-grounded. The least powerful among us have already been abandoned.


It's not difficult to imagine an economic system that works...

... and many "first world" nations have achieved something close to that.

The U.S.A. is not a "first world nation."

To build an economy that works you first need a generous social safety net. You pay for this safety net by taxing the wealthy.

We might divide the population into five groups:

The "low income people" would be full time college and trade students of all ages, the chronically unemployable, people who can only work part time, people who have retired from lower middle class jobs, etc.. ALL OF THEM, like every other citizen, would be entitled to to excellent food, public health care, free education, and safe, secure places to live, places that they can call their own, places where they can paint the walls whatever color they want, places where they can settle down for years if they want to.

The lower middle class would begin at full time minimum wage employment. This would be a much greater minimum wage than now exists in the U.S.A.. Education and health care would still be free, as with all the other groups. Housing options might be public or private. This lower middle class would pay no income tax.

The middle class would pay income taxes sufficient to support their own aggregate use of public services, mostly health care and education with some small surplus. This would be the largest group of workers, and might graciously consider themselves unsubsidized and "self-supporting."

The upper middle class would pay progressively greater taxes, but not so much as the wealthy class, maybe 40-50% on everything exceeding what a full time minimum wage job pays.

The wealthy class would be taxed to such an extent that their share of the national wealth would never exceed 20%, by a combination of income and wealth taxes. The "one percenters" as we now know them would simply be taxed out of existence. The shares of giant mega-corporations would be spread across a much larger base of shareholders, and these corporations might even be nationalized to some extent.

The only truly just economies are "trickle up," where money is created for the benefit of the poor and middle classes, where money is taxed off the top, from the wealthy classes, and recirculated before it has a chance to stagnate and become a source of political and economic corruption.

I'm pretty sure space/time is an aspect of mass/energy...

... as is information/consciousness. It's all mass/energy, nothing else. We can't see all of it, but that's not surprising because our brains are so tiny in comparison to the universe. There is no possibility that humans will ever figure it all out. We'll know more than dogs or carp do, but this knowledge will never amount to more than a tiny insignificant fraction of possible "knowledge."

Every dog I've ever known has been a conscious being, even those dogs that are only slightly smarter than carp. Carp are conscious beings also. Consciousness is a vertebrate trait. We can't relate to plants, invertebrates, or fungi, so in those cases we just don't know if they are conscious or not. Maybe, maybe not.

Frankly I don't think we're that special. Consciousness is simply a programming trick that keeps us from giving up in utter despair. Without consciousness reasonable beings would simply lie down in the dirt and stop living. Dirt to dirt. There would be no reason to continue. The more brain power you've got, the more consciousness you need to counteract rational motives for not living.

I've suffered major episodes of depression in my life so I'm very familiar with the sensation. Fortunately for me at my very worst, "No reason to live" ranks equally with "no reason not to." I might not eat for a couple of days, but I don't like the sensation of thirst or lack of oxygen, so I keep hydrated, and I keep breathing. Eventually I'll eat too. I've never felt any need to hurry the process of dying along. We all die eventually. Maybe I'm just lazy.

Sex is another one of those programming tricks discovered by natural selection. People are always having sex and reproducing even when there's no rational reason to do so, and very rational reasons not to. If we didn't have sex drives there wouldn't be any people. Same goes if we didn't have consciousness.

I don't have a good opinion of mystical experiences either. The most vivid I've experienced are those the police and health services called "psychotic episodes."

That doesn't mean I don't look at the universe and my fellow humans without a sense of awe and wonder, or that I don't have a spiritual side. I do. This stew of mass/energy inspires within me a great curiosity. But yet again, curiosity, like consciousness or sex drives, is just another programming trick stumbled upon by natural selection.
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