Daily Archives: March 28, 2011

11 posts

Baby Name Roll Call as Momof3 is Expecting…. 12 New Baby Chicks

In addition to hoarding silver and gold (thanks Glenn!), our family is preparing for the apocalypse by producing our own food.  I have already started my veggie seedlings under grow lights, planted my kale in my raised beds and tomorrow or Wednesday twelve new baby chicks will be arriving via post — yes, they are mailed to me. They will be a welcome addition to the ten gals I have already.

I ordered from Mypetchicken.com the following breeds:

Buff OrphsTwo Buff Orphingtons.  These friendly, gentle birds are dual purpose — meaning good egg layers and good eating, but we will only use them for eggs. They aren’t flighty and are good egg layers. The only unfortunate thing about them is that their pretty buffed copper color really stands out on my lawn. It makes these trusting fowl a major target for hawks and other predators. The one I had last year, Gigi, bit the dust in the great fox massacre of 2010.


Easter EggerOne Easter Egger. This is a hybrid variety of the Araucana breed that Martha Stewart made so famous. They lay blue, green or even slightly rose colored eggs — thus the name. When fully grown, they can look very different from each other. The distinguishing feature they all have is pale green legs. That is unique in the bird world.



Salmon FavorelleTwo Salmon Faverolles. I’m very excited to be getting these beautiful birds. Very shy and sweet-natured, I’m going to have to watch out that these two don’t get picked on by the others. I will probably keep them under the heat lamp far longer than the others I am bringing in this week. Beautiful salmon colored feathers with some white lacing make these hens out to be some serious eye candy for the backyard. They are prolific layers of light brown to cream eggs.


CuckooTwo Silver Cuckoo Marans. Another breed I am excited to add to the flock. These beauties lay dark chocolate brown-colored eggs. The eggs taste the same as all the others, but are stunning to behold.The birds are good natured and good layers.

Choc eggs


SussexThree Speckled Sussex. Great layers of brown eggs and they are good cold weather layers. They tend to get heavy so they end up not being too flighty. Very curious in nature and will often come right up to you to ‘beg’ for a treat. Their speckled plumage offers protection from predators.


Rare BreedTwo Wild Cards. Although I am a planner, I love surprises too. So I choose an assorted rare breed where My Pet Chicken gives me what’s available from a rare breed list. I’m hoping I don’t get a Naked Neck.



So I need some help naming these ladies. Girls names only please as I am guaranteed hens. The top twelve ranked names — vote with your Fonz — will get the honor of being my gals’ names.  Names already accounted for:  Roberta, Oprah, Carol, Hestia, Blaze, Pinstripe, Aimee, Eileen, Patsy and Judy. EDIT: These are names for chickens I already have.

Fun With Wingnuts: The United Nations is Coming for Your Children!

Nothing gets a wingnut angrier than the idea that someone, somewhere might threaten the Murican Constitution. Apparently the country (and in fact the whole world) is full of people who have nothing better to do than sit around scheming about how they are going to take away the rights of Real Americans who live in Real America.

A particularly menacing bogeyman in the wingnut mind is The United Nations. Formed after WWII to prevent the kinds of free for all human slaughter we had during the war, the UN has always been a source of deep right wing suspicion. It’s also always been a great source for fund raising campaigns for wingnut groups who promise to save you from the Blue Helmet Menace.

Watch out! They have guns they're not allowed to shoot you with.

The latest focus of bat shit insanity is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention is so controversial that it has been ratified by every UN member except the US and Somalia. It is also supported by total assholes like Oxfam, UNICEF, and the Rhode Island State Legislature. Wingnuts claim that the Convention will rob parents of their rights and allow their kids to become Satanist abortion-addicts who can take them to court when they can’t borrow the car. In reality the Convention prohibits the use of children as soldiers, prostitutes, and porn stars. The only real problem for the US is that it prohibits the execution of minors, and I guess it is really important for us to be able to snuff out 14 year olds for some reason.

Fortunately for America parentalrights.org has stepped forward to keep the UN from dispatching troops to steal our kids and sending them to the EU for reeducation. These patriots have a You Tube account, and they are going to protect you from an organization that nobody listens to and that lacks any enforcement powers. They are also trying to introduce a constitutional amendment preventing enforcement of the treaty, but only Jim DeMint (lulz) seems interested. So what if the UN is trying to create a legal frame work that would punish those who force kids into the battlefield or the brothel, foreigners make us uncomfortable. I can’t imagine why every one else in the world thinks we are such a bunch of jerks. Here’s a little paranoia to get your red, white, and blue blood boiling.

Weekend Box Office: Wimps Are Not Suckers

Girls can’t beat wimps. They’re suckers. Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro are like Kevin Bacon, the degrees of separation are evident in one awful movie idea. Marisa Tomei hibernates like a bear. Johnny Depp probably prays everyday for the return of Richard Grieco…no, he doesn’t. Adam Sandler still exists.

These are the things you spent your money on this weekend, and one thing we hope you never spend your money on again.

1) Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules — $24.4 Million

Snott Rockets and Armpit Farts abound! Well, that’s what I remember about middle school. Does this not still happen? Of course it does. Well, apparently bodily functions and boys running around giving each other noogies and other somewhat embarrassing things just beat out the girl dragon slayers, or Bratz doll doppelgangers, or samurai-chick road warriors, or fantastical girls failing miserably with the critics…whatever. Hard to believe a bunch of wimpy kids could beat a bunch of girls, right? What is this a Judy Blume novel? Maybe. Wimps rule and girls with short skirts can eat dirt! Mostly. Well, anyway good on the kids for bringing home the weekend bacon. Maybe they’ll get a third movie after all. I’d just like it to be less about Wimpy kids and more about Wimpy’s burgers, because when I think of “Wimpy” I prefer to think food covered in cheese, and not, you know, pre-teen angst, gym shorts, and dodgeball.

2) Sucker Punch — $19 Million

Well, hmmm. Didn’t we think that maybe this movie would kick ass? That it was going to be like 300 but with girls? Okay, maybe not 300. But at least a good little thing about “girl power?” Okay, I did. But apparently it’s not that. It’s not that at all. It’s kind of weird, dark, confusing, and dumb. So, that’s that. No sequel. No more discussion. It’ll probably be shuttled into that place where Battle: Los Angeles lives now…down by the river, in an old Winnebago, eating cold beans right from the can, and begging drifters and Charlie Sheen for change. You know who’s probably worried right now? Henry Cavill. Yup, the new Superman. Entertainment Weekly reports that this was “director Zack Snyder’s worst live-action debut, behind 300 ($70.9 million), Watchmen ($55.2 million), and Dawn of the Dead ($26.7 million).” Sure, Superman: Man of Steel will make loads more money, but you don’t want your last big film to be such a colossal failure leading into your next big film, especially when that big film is Superman: Christopher Reeve is Watching You. Do it right, Snyder, or we may have you talk to Bryan Singer about what the hell his problem was in 2006! Prada, dude?

3) Limitless — $15 Million

I don’t know how many more magic beans Bradley Cooper has left in his pocket, but certainly there can’t be that many remaining. I imagine even if he’s taking just one per week, like the leaves of the Golden Child‘s little life-sustaining branch of parsley, soon he’ll run out, and this little movie about the brain’s potential and his lustrous hair will peter out in a blur of Vidal Sassoon and the success of the A-Team. Robert De Niro may be a little sad since if he’s not Fockering his Focker he’s taking on roles like this where he plays an old wizened tree knob who teaches the young kids a thing or two about life, the world, or love. He’ll show us all “Love De Niro Style” in the upcoming movie farce, New Year’s Eve, that bastard cousin to the horrible Valentine’s Day starring Julia WideMouth, Ashton Coochhound, and Braidles Coopers! We’ve come full circle.

4) The Lincoln Lawyer — $11 Million

Marisa Tomei has been looking for her Oscar. She’s misplaced it. Last we saw, it was in the backseat of Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln. What’s it doing back there? Well, it was obviously thrown back there with a lot of other garbage from 1992 like patent leather shoes, paisley ties, copious amounts of mousse, and Luke Perry’s day-glo shirts from the 90210 set. I imagine in a fit of anger and despair the Tomei is just screaming from the backseat “Vinny! Vinny! Yeah, you blend!” in a Brooklyn accent from the late 1960’s while waving a rat-tailed comb she confiscated from the Teresa Giudice: New Jersey Housewife real estate sale. The Oscar though, someone should really help her look for it. It’s a treasured piece of memorabilia that she needs to rub daily so it’ll do its magic and bring her a movie every half decade or so.

5) Rango — $9.8 Million

Somewhere Richard Grieco is contemplating where it all went wrong. Greasy, skull-fingered Depp walked out on one of the biggest shows on television, and in walked the Grieco just ready for anything. He had black leather, tough-guy boots, and a randy smirk. What else does anyone need to be a success? Talent? Charisma? Well, Grieco had that and more. There’s just no way that wimpy Depp kid should be an A-list star. Not when Grieco had a smoldering gaze and let’s face it, non-girlish features. “It’s totally not fair. That guy…that Depp kid never had to do penance in TV Movies or have the pressure to make another television show work (Booker), no, no, he just hooks up with some hurricane-haired, goth-goblin and just like that…instant career. Now, he’s even a bug and everyone loves him. I need more muscle shirts.”

Today in Mind-Boggling News:

That Adam Sandler movie with Adam Sandler doing the same thing Adam Sandler does in every Adam Sandler movie, but now with settling-for-crap Jennifer Aniston, Just Go With It, should reach the $100 million mark, becoming Adam Sandler’s 12th movie to do so. Now this is a stunning WTF moment. Just who are the people that are consistently looking at the trailers for Adam Sandler’s movies and saying, “Yup, I’m definitely seeing that. No matter what. I’m seeing that Adam Sandler movie.” Who are they? I’m discounting all of Adam Sandler’s family and perhaps even Kevin James’ friends, so that leaves roughly 300 billion people left. It’s hard to imagine 300 billion people have been hit in the head with baseballs, or fell off a boat, or rode a bicycle into a ravine or something resulting in knocked-brain disease…so what exactly is it that’s so compelling? Has he mastered some scientific way to compel us through the television? That must be it. Turn off your TV, Adam Sandler understands microwaves.

No One Should Ever Go To Grad School… Ever

Last week, we heard from grad school rock star GrandInquisitor, who showed you how to make grad school your bitch. Now, I know for a fact that GI is one hell of a grad student and that you are getting absolutely top-notch advice.

But first let’s get one thing straight: Grad school is bullshit and under no circumstances should you listen to your annoying thick-framed-glasses-wearing friends who are telling you to apply to it. DO NOT GO TO GRAD SCHOOL. Here’s why:

1. Law school is the ultimate exercise in bullshit.

Don’t even think about going to law school. Don’t listen to your parents, they just want to be able to say there’s a lawyer in the family, even if it means ruining your life. There are already way too many law school grads and not nearly enough legal jobs.

“When the economy first went down, students saw law school as a way to dodge the work force,” said Ryan Heitkamp, a pre-law adviser at Ohio State University. “The news has gotten out that law school is not necessarily a safe backup plan.”

And perhaps worst of all, graduating from law school with huge debt has a tendency to turn you into a huge douchebag.

2. A journalism graduate degree is even bullshittier than a law degree.

Having gone to an undergraduate j-school program, I cannot even imagine wanting to go back and get a master’s in journalism. First of all, journalism school (even at the undergrad level) is pretty silly. Everything you really need to know you’ll learn on the job. Most of the best journalists I’ve met actually studied something else in college. Second, Journalists make dick. The money at most traditional journalism jobs will have you living the social worker lifestyle. I hope you enjoy driving that 1990 Hyundai!

But the real reason you shouldn’t study journalism in grad school is that the industry is changing so fast that university departments aren’t keeping up. Journalism is not a hard science. The big ideas are coming out of places like Gawker and Crasstalk.com, not college faculties. In fact, for a large swath of the industry, having a graduate degree counts against you.

Also, as a rule of thumb you should always do the opposite of whatever an unpaid HuffPo blog-jockey tells you to do.

3. The world does not need more literature professors who specialize in obscure shit no one cares about.

Expecting a career in academia is an absolutely terrible reason to go back to grad school. Yeah, yeah, you probably read “Mysteries of Pittsburgh” and thought you could get yourself into some kind of cool faculty intrigue. But in reality you’ll just end up as a non-tenured adjunct professor, which is the academic equivalent of a mall security guard.

Here’s a Brown University Ph.D student’s take on the experience:

The prevailing culture of graduate school, if not always the experience itself, is one of misery and deprivation. Most grad students genuinely believe that theirs is a particularly difficult existence. I myself have been guilty of this. My theory is that this is partly due to the discrepancy between high seriousness and low stakes. One spends a lot of time racking one’s brains about serious questions without anyone particularly caring about the answers. One can devote anywhere from two years to a decade on a dissertation, pouring all one’s intellectual energy into the project, for the reading pleasure of exactly three people, two of whom will only pretend to read it.

Sadder still is the way in which the horrible process of academic professionalization encourages grad students to define themselves by their work. Conference rooms and seminars resound with the sound of socially inept people introducing themselves by their subjects. In one of the most heinous crimes against humor since the last time Dane Cook opened his inexplicably large mouth, I once heard a political scientist respond to a colleague’s remark with, “You would say that — you’re a comparativist!” The seminar room exploded with laughter, making me drop the free sandwich I was there for. You want no part of this.

4. Grad school is not the answer to the piss-poor economy.

Fleeing the shitty job market is a common justification for going back to school. Maybe you’re a few years out of college and just got laid off. Maybe you just graduated from undergrad and are terrified of searching for a job. Don’t let your circumstances (no matter how frustrating or scary) convince you to take the wrong path out of desperation. If you go into grad school out of fear about the economy, and without a rock solid career plan, you’re making a huge mistake.

In addition to the opportunity costs associated with taking yourself out of the workforce for years and losing all those wages, you’ll mostly likely be taking on huge amounts of new debt to pay not just for tuition but also for living expenses. That debt ain’t interest free, which can result in downright startling amounts of money being owed. The juice is always running.

As our 7-year grad student from Brown put it:

I don’t think that I could, in good conscience, recommend graduate school, especially a doctoral program, especially in the humanities, to another soul.


5. The grad student lifestyle is not actually all that cool.

It’s a well-known secret that a large percentage of grad students go back to school because they miss so much of the campus experience. Eating Ramen noodles and riding a Huffy around town while hammered was pretty fucking awesome when you were 19. When you’re 25 or 30… not so much.

Look, the grad school lifestyle mostly sucks ass. You will be completely broke. You will earn less net income than porno shop jizz-moppers. That cool turbo’d Subaru Impreza WRX with the all-wheel drive and fat sound system that you had your eye on? FUCK YOU, GRAD SCHOOL BOY. You’ll drive your old used 1989 Dodge Shadow and wear thrift shop clothes and you’ll like it! And the parties… at the grad school level the parties aren’t really that fun unless you like drinking cheap shitty wine while listening to some guy with a soul patch recite John Berryman poems. And if that sounds like fun, I will personally come to your house and stab you.

6. Working isn’t nearly as bad as everyone makes it sound.

I know every single person in the world bitches about his or her job. Getting up early and going to work in a cubicle does kind of suck. We should all be free to spend our days writing songs about our favorite days of the week or sexting, or whatever it is that the kids are doing these days.

But if it weren’t completely socially unacceptable to do so, most people could tell you at least a few of the parts of their job that they find truly fulfilling. And while classroom learning for its own sake is great, actually doing something in this world is not to be shat upon.

And, oh yeah, you actually will have a lot less debt and maybe even a bit of money in your pocket, unlike your friends in grad school. So instead of spending your late nights writing papers about Pre-Columbian llama herding in Peru, you’ll be out at the club ordering bottles of Santana Champagne and dancing to this song. My first job out of college paid a paltry $25,000 a year and I felt fucking rich at the time.

7. Grad school has nothing to do with learning or enlightenment or any of that bullshit.

Grad school is about credentialing, not learning. Stop romanticizing the idea of studying a bunch of obscure, theoretical bullshit that no one cares about. You’re an adult now, you already should have the critical thinking skills necessary to Mapquest your nearest library and crack open a book. And if your local college has some professor whose ideas really do fascinate you, you can always read his book or audit his course without signing up for a lifetime of debt.

8. There’s a fine line between educated and overeducated… and it’s called “grad school.”

Grad school will train you in economically questionable skills such as writing things like this.

The Amazing Race: Globetrotters, Cowboys, and Indians

I want to preface this recap by saying that I am slightly grumpy because I am out of wine, but I will soldier on with a vodka and tonic instead because that’s just the type of dedication I bring to these recaps.

I also have a correction from last week’s episode. The “Couple” did not U-Turn the Globetrotters. The Cheerleaders did. I apologize for any evil thoughts you may have sent to Kynt and Vyxsin and encourage you to direct all future evil thoughts at the Cheerleaders.

Okay, let’s get down to business!

The Cowboys were the first team to depart the pit stop at 2:14 p.m and learned that they had to travel to the Jin Fu Yi Zhan tea shop for a tasting of papaya and mango infused tea. What they didn’t know was that this tea would appear in a later leg of the race.

Father/Daughter left  two minutes after, then Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord. Deaf kid was pissed that they were staying in China, which may be a little bit racist.

Father/Daughter found the tea shop first, then the Cowboys showed up. Mallory said the tea tasted like peach. Close, very close. Not really. Christina asked what kind of tea it is, and learned it was papaya mango. Smart. Zev had no idea what it tasted like. Maybe like tea? At least say it tasted like tea.

The teams next had to travel by plane to Kolkata, India where they had to find the Town Hall to receive their next clue. When the teams arrived in India, they ran out of the airport like lunatics and/or rock stars. Lunatic rock stars. Think Russell Brand on speed, or just think Russell Brand.

All of the teams looked like they were having a fun time passing each other in India’s notoriously dangerous cabs, being generally silly, running red lights, playing chicken, almost getting hit by a truck. When they arrived at the Town Hall, they learned that they would have to spend the night outside because it didn’t open until the next morning. Big Easy said he was going to pitch a tent which was sort of TMI for TAR.

Oh ha! When the back of the pack showed up at the Town Hall, the Globetrotters told them to run! run! run! There’s a clue box and you have to sign up for a time! Father/Daughter and Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord were dodging and weaving trying to find the clue box! I love the Globetrotters, and everyone had a good laugh which they probably needed because they were about to sleep on the streets in India.

The gates opened at 10 a.m. and everyone ran inside where they were greeted by a Roadblock. The Roadblock was all about flavors. One team member had to participate in an ancient Indian tradition of tea tasting. The team members had to find the flavor of tea that they had tasted in China, about two days ago in an entirely different country. To make matters worse, there was a lot of tea! There were thousands and thousands of cups of tea to taste! I have to pee just looking at all of that tea.

Old Yeller did something smart. Rather than drink a thousand cups of tea, he smelled the cups and looked at the color and immediately chose the correct cup of tea. He basically just put the “amazing” in the Amazing Race. Rather than a regular clue, Old Yeller was handed a bottle of Snapple iced tea sans label. He popped the cap off and underneath it said to go to the Tiwari tea stall to find their next clue.

Zev took a sip and had no clue what the tea tasted like. Luke was totally confused. Everyone was just randomly bringing cups of tea to the judge. Then, Jet started smelling the teas and he found the correct cup. Smell, people, smell!

Kisha selected the correct tea next, but the Sisters were confused about the Snapple bottle. Rather than look under the cap, they began asking people where the Snapple factory was and asked their cab driver to take them there. Rookie mistake, Sisters.

Back at the mile-long tea tasting, Mallory began praying to Jeezus. In India. Wrong God, lady. Kynt  selected the correct tea, and Luke escalated his freak-out. Then, Mallory smelled the teas and was able to select the correct cup. Smell, people, smell!

There were three racers left tasting tea: Luke, Flight Time, and Zev. Zev selected the correct tea next, and Margie clapped for him which is either nice, or sign language telling Luke to hurry up.

Meanwhile, the Sisters wandered around in the middle of nowhere asking people where they make Snapple. Finally, Kisha got thirsty and opened up the bottle for a sip of tea and ah ha! There’s a clue under the cap!

The “Couple” arrived at the tea stall first and received their next clue. Detour! The teams had to decide between Hindu Art or Bengali Literature. In Hindu Art, teams had to paint, dress and adorn a statue of a Hindu God. In Bengali Literature teams had to go to a bookstore and collect eight stacks of books which must be taken to a school in a rickshaw.

The “Couple” chose Hindu Art and were very happy that the body of the statue had to be painted pink and accessorized with sparkly things, just like them. Whatever, people.

Father/Daughter chose Bengali Literature. They loaded the books into a large cage attached to the back of a bicycle which I guess is a rickshaw. Then, they climbed into the cage themselves. This might be the strangest mode of transportation in TAR history.

The Cowboys and the Nerds also chose the bookshop, while the Sisters, Old Yeller and the “Couple” did the painting. Old Yeller put in ear plugs to complete the task because the music was too loud for him. Sheesh, old people!

Flight Time and Deaf Kid were still enjoying hating the tea party. Flight Time got it wrong. Deaf Kid got it wrong. Flight Time got it wrong. Deaf Kid got it wrong. Flight Time finally got it…wrong again. Then, Flight Time chose correctly, leaving Deaf Kid as the only one left at the task. Deaf Kid was annoyed and frustrated. He was crying. He was wailing. It was sad, and also….ugh. He threw himself onto the floor in a crumpled, defeated mess, crying for his mother.

I’m sorry, but I have to jump in here. Nut up, Deaf Kid! You’re being a big baby. You’re being a momma’s boy. You need to suck it up and get the job done. Oh what? You heard me? Deaf Kid sucked it up and completed the task! All of the tea people hugged Deaf Kid and carried him on their shoulders like a hero and promised to name a special new tea after him. I think one of them suggested Sobbing American. It’s a white tea. Look for it in the beverage aisle at your local Whole Foods.

Father/Daughter finished the painting Detour first and were directed to the pit stop across town at the Fountain of Joy. The Nerds finished the book delivery next, and then the Cowboys.

The Globetrotters, on the other hand, arrived at the painting task just as Father/Daughter arrived at the pit stop as Team Number One. Oh look, there’s an Amazing Race-flavored Snapple and their reward is to be the first humans to taste the tea. The tea had previously only been tasted by special tasting helper monkeys, like in Raiders of the Lost Ark. If Father/Daugher survived this tasting, Snapple would put the tea on the market. They also got a Bollywood performance and 1,000,000 rupees which I am surprised to learn is over $20,000.

The Cowboys, Old Yeller and the Nerds were all stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the pit stop and arrived at the same time, just as Phil was rolling the lifeless bodies of Father/Daughter off of the mat. I’m kidding, they survived, look for the limited edition papaya mango Snapple in the beverage department of your local Whole Foods, right next to Sobbing American Tea. The “Couple” showed up a minute later, followed by the Sisters.

The Globetrotters were in a race for last place with Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord. Both teams chose the painting task, and the Globetrotters finished first. Before heading to the pit stop, Flight Time gave Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord a hug because the Globetrotters are just such wonderful people. Although they had trouble finding a cab, they finally got one and despite some fancy editing the Globetrotters got to the pit stop first.

Deaf Kid and his Umbilical Cord arrived holding hands which, ugh, is part of the problem. He’s deaf, Margie, not blind! Luke sat down on the mat and broke down in another round of tears when he learned that they had been eliminated from the race. He apologized to his Umbilical Cord, and she said she was proud of him. So that’s nice. They both looked completely exhausted so this was probably for the best.

The Race continues in two weeks, when the Sisters play with dung and Zev kind of freaks out from sensory overload. There are seven teams left so we’re getting down to the wire here. Anyone want to call a winner? I’ve got my money on the Cowboys, but the Sisters are looking pretty strong, too.

Finally, today CBS announced the Amazing Race will be renewed for a 19th race.

What Exactly Is a “Puppy Mill”?

Chances are you’ve heard of “puppy mills.” You’ve probably been told not to get a dog or cat from a pet store. You might even know why you shouldn’t.

The problem: lots of people still don’t. All over the United States, legislation regulating “puppy mills” is being debated, passed, or voted down. Some cities, like San Francisco, don’t even allow puppies to be sold in pet stores. Other states, like Missouri, have gone against the will of the people to ensure that these facilities can carry on as usual. This is part one of a guide to these facilities, the pet stores these dogs go to, the legislation on the table, and what you can do to help these animals have better lives.

It’s important to understand what people typically mean when they use the term “puppy mill.” For the extents and purposes of this article, I’ll define puppy mill as a facility where multiple animals are bred and sold for profit without regard to the comfort, health and temperament of the animals being raised or sold, or the suitability of the home they go to. This is a fairly objective definition, and does not include responsible hobby or show breeders.

Why do puppy mills exist? Supply and demand. Owners of these operations often profit quite a bit. Also, a number of people consider pets an accessory, an impulse buy, an object. These people may not want to go through the process of adopting or rescuing an animal. Also, the demand for purebred or “designer dogs,” and the fact that many people want a puppy, ensures that there are simply some people who will seek out a dog the same way they’d seek out an iPad 2.

What goes on in a puppy mill

The primary problem with puppy mills is the conditions the dogs are kept in. Overcrowding is the norm, and to ensure a higher profit, as many animals as possible are often crammed into extremely small cages. Stacking cages is also the norm, and since the crates typically have only wire mesh as a floor, urine, feces and other bodily fluids often trickle down into other cages. Often, there is poor ventilation and temperature regulation, which can further endanger the health of puppies already exposed to the bacteria and viruses rampant in unclean conditions. Vet care is minimal if there is any; owners frequently take “treatment,” up to and including euthanasia, into their own hands. Water bowls can freeze, disallowing access to any water in cold climates, and food left in cages can rapidly grow bacteria in hotter climates.

A puppy mill cannot exist without grist, and sexually mature females are just that. A bitch will often have her first heat at around six months of age. While best practices dictate that a dog should not be bred until 2 years of age (for the same physical reasons an 11-year-old should not get pregnant), owners disregard this and breed bitches every heat cycle, twice a year, until the dog either dies as a result of pregnancy or can no longer conceive. When she survives, she is often killed or sold to a laboratory for testing.

These dogs are bred even if they give birth to litters that exhibit obvious physical deformities or higher fatality rates. Part of a true “breed standard” is a lack of congenital defects and a sound temperament, in addition to appearance. None of these things matter in a puppy mill. Dogs prone to hip dysplasia, bleeding disorders, and severe aggression are bred over and over, ensuring plenty of their progeny will go out into the world to unsuspecting buyers.

Once the puppies are born, they are often separated from the mother as soon as they can eat solid food. This creates a temperament problem that will often follow them through the rest of their lives. When a dog or cat is taken away from their mother or litter-mates too soon, they often do not learn basic things like bite inhibition and social behavior, and the window for such learning is very small. In many cases, they will not be able to “learn” to behave appropriately in certain situations.

What puppy mill rescues look like

In Missouri, I have worked for a shelter that raided several notorious puppy mills. It’s not a simple process to seize dogs from a mill; these facilities need only be licensed by the USDA to be “legal.” After that, it is difficult to track and prove animal cruelty that would result in the license being taken away, and many facilities have nearly one hundred reprimands on their record from the USDA and remain licensed.

When we receive dogs from a puppy mill, their condition is, across the board, abhorrent. In one rescue, all thirty-plus dogs seized had to be completely shaved. Not only were mats pulling the dogs’ skin and hiding abscesses (including one dog who had a gaping, bleeding hole in his muzzle), it was literally impossible to guess what breed they were. Many of the animals are covered in their own urine and feces.

Some dogs have infected and necrotic limbs that need to be removed. Some are so emaciated that they are days from dying. Some are so full of mange or other parasites that their lives are comprised solely of suffering. Puppies, because their immune systems are young and weak, may have parvo-virus, a highly contagious and deadly disease when not treated immediately and aggressively. Worms of all kinds and kennel cough, an upper respiratory infection, are par for the course.

Many of these dogs are terrified and some are aggressive. They receive little to no human interaction in their cages and have no idea what to expect when a rescue worker reaches into their enclosure. Because, as mentioned above, they’ve lived this way since puppy-hood, it can take months or longer to rehabilitate them socially. Many may never be “normal.”

Many of the older dogs rescued have severe dental disease due to poor nutrition. Poor dental hygiene can lead to the same problems in animals as it does in humans, up to and including heart disease. Some females may have serious reproductive issues, such as mammary tumor, pyometra, or a prolapsed uterus (the first is often cancerous, the last two disgusting, painful and usually deadly).

Some of these dogs, despite being rescued, are so ill, are in so much pain, that rehabilitation is not possible. In all honesty, some animals must be euthanized because they are so sick or deformed that they can never live a normal life according to “humane” standards.

Most of these dogs are the “breeding stock,” and those adorable puppies in the window are already at the pet store. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll talk about what their lives are like.

Wisconsin Governor Defies Court Ruling on Labor Union Bill

Governor Walker and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R- what else?) have tried to circumvent the court ordered injunction against the controversial union busting bill that they passed in early March, reportedly in violation of Wisconsin’s open meeting law. The court order enjoined the government from “any further implementation of the law,” including publishing it in the official state journal which is the official state vehicle for providing notice of new laws to the public.

Governor Scott Walker

The Republicans subverted the injunction by compelling the Legislative and Reference bureau to publish the law that would eliminate collective bargaining for state employee’s unions. There is significant dispute as to whether this actually implements the new law or not. Democrats contend that a law is not enacted until it is published in the official state journal and that additional steps need to be taken by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State, like the official state journal have been specifically enjoined from performing the functions that would  implement this law. Republicans argue that merely the act of publishing the law enacts the new law and that no further steps need to be taken.

There is going to be one pissed off judge reporting to work in Wisconsin today.

Source: TPM


What I Learned From a Video Game About Congressional Redistricting

I confess, the reason why I wanted to do this post was because I thought the idea of a game about congressional redistricting is pretty funny and because it felt like such an odd subject to make a game out of. But, on further thought, I realized that for the layperson, it is an opportunity to get reacquainted with how districts are drawn in the good ol’ US of A. Ok, for me. It was a good chance for me to get reacquainted with it because I totally hated government in high school and tried to spend most of the class asleep. In fact, I really don’t even remember taking it. So, I thought I’d share my findings with you in case you find it useful, what with the census results coming out, 2012 coming up and the Republicans finally starting to get their act together and finding some people who are willing to run.

Anyways, why don’t we start with looking at what redistricting is again. It is the practice where a state government can divide up areas into legislative districts to reflect the density of population and determine how many of the 435 representatives it sends to Congress. Districts are usually redrawn every 10 years after the census is taken, which is why people get really uptight over whether or not you fill a damn form out with something other than the name “Mickey Mouse”.

However, redistricting can also be known by its evil twin name, gerrymandering. That is when districts are divided up in favor of a particular incumbent or political party and can be drawn along voting lines or racial groupings. For example, one way to do this is if you have an area that has a lot of Republicans surrounded by a lot of Democratic voters, the area could be redrawn so that it splits the Republican voters and restricts them to a minority in the two districts. This is legal until someone gets pissed off and brings a lawsuit against it as in the case of Tom Delay and his money-funneling-mid-census-term redistricting spree. Interesting side note: The term was coined when in 1812 the governor of Massachusetts, Eldbridge Gerry, had signed a bill that redistricted it to benefit his party (confusingly named the Democratic-Republic party). One of the districts was said to look like a salamander because of how it was drawn. Someone made a hybrid of the two names resulting in the term gerrymander. For more on redistricting, it is worth taking a listen to this episode of the Diane Rehm show that first sparked my interest.

But, it is pretty common to gerrymander and seems to help shape the country into being even more partisan. So, a game was born. Is it possible to redistrict the US along non-partisan lines? Some people think so. Professor Nathaniel Persily, a guest on the show, has got his students at Columbia Law School trying their hand at it. So, I thought I would too. After clicking past the opening screen, I was presented with quite a few options. I chose the basic fundamental level which is where I’m at anyways.

After the game loaded, I had to choose my party. Now, for someone who is a little anti-party, I bristled a bit but whatever. It’s all in the name of science. The head of my party is Libby Raul. Well, hello there, Libby! Nice Hillary hair and Nancy Pelosi suit.

Next I got my mission. I needed to look at my district representatives to find out their concerns. The first time I went through this, I blindly didn’t care and just went to the redrawing, which is what I’m good at – drawing. I thought I’d try an early period Baroque-esque theme. Apparently all of the reps in my districts are Democrats which is probably because of the basic level.

When redrawing the districts, I had to balance out the populations to be 650K-ish each. But this is the first time around when I did not know I had to look at my representatives’ concerns nor did I realize that all those dots were Republicans or Democrats. I was concentrating more on balancing out the populations, kinda like on Sim City.

Then I had to submit my masterpiece for approval.

Luckily everyone enjoyed my conceptual sense of space and balance and approved my plan. Ultimately there were no court challenges to my artistic awesomeness.

So that’s the game! Besides the artistic factor, I found it a fun and an engaging way to visualize and learn about a subject which has always escaped me up until now.

What could be result of all of this? It could spur more public interest in redistricting law reform to restrict the practice of gerrymandering. And if we are able to redraw lines to reflect a population change rather than favor a particular side, according to Matthew Frankel at the Brookings Institution, it might go a way in encouraging Congress to work across the aisle. At the very least it can help create a better-informed public about our political process and that is always extremely valuable.