Tuesday, July 8, 2008

uneasy times

It is an uneasy time in Mongolia, or probably more accurately, the capital, Ulan Baatar. As this articles in today's IHT suggests, it would seem that a socially disenfranchised few took advantage of the disquiet raised by a politically disenfranchised few to loot and pillage in the midst of some serious concern over the legitimacy of the most recent general election.

Living five minutes from the site of the rioting, Annie put up a post during the 'state of emergency' while the very thorough Asian Gypsy has what appears to be most of the details. There are some very good pictures at Suuder.com, a Mongolian photodocumentary site. While I think most Mongolians are genuinely embarassed by the collateral damage, and even with a government still dominated by the former-Communists, there is a lot at stake in this post-Soviet country. As the leader of the Mongolian Democratic Party, Tsakhiagyn Elbegdorj, put it: "From the Sea of Japan to the eastern border of Europe, we are the only functioning democracy, and we have a duty to save it."

Rumor has it that a covert operative named 'Coffee Boy' may have been responsible.

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The Tour de France has started. And by design, it is a little different this year. No prologue, no time bonuses. And a lot of previous favorites are out either due to being caught doping or were excluded by association.

Cadel Evans is the clear favorite, but folks wonder if he has the aggressive edge to actually 'take' the win... or will simply ride well enough to outlast the remainder of the field. Alejandro Valverde is on great form, but perhaps too good a little too early. Denis Menchov rode a good Giro d'Italia already this year, but as a result is perhaps still a little dulled from that gruelathon.

It's been a good Tour already. Valverde stomped on everyone to win the first stage, Thor 'The Bear from Grimstad' Hushovd won his sixth Tour de France stage in stage 2, and France scored a one-two-yellow yesterday with Samuel Dumoulin winning the stage and Roman Feillu taking second and the overall lead. (This pic of Roman Feillu in today's individual time trial is by Robert Bettini.)

It's already more exciting than previous years.

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We got this pic from Dennis + Sally. This is Sally making her first duck retrieve at a NAHVDA clinic. (I gather they use live ducks, and bind one wing and the beak.) She rocks. Hopefully we're going to train with them in two weeks. We're very excited.

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In somewhat disturbing news from the homeland, Pat the Terrierman reports that the Tayside Police has fallen foul of its Muslim constituents because it used a puppy on a poster to advertise its non-emergency number. (The folks at SmartDogs had posted a similar story of sorts -- about a student's service dog at St. Cloud State University in MN -- back in mid-May.) I would welcome comments from any of my Muslim readers, but my sense here is that dogs themselves are not actually haram (dirty or impure), but that they are regarded as animals (with specific tasks to do) and not as pets (that blur domestic boundaries). In which case, why an aspiring police dog would somehow be impure is still beyond me.

Bill at The BlackandTanBombshell reported a while back that there is a movement afoot to ban e-collars in Wales. With all due respect to Caroline Kisko of the Kennel Club who claimed e-collars were "a cruel, outdated and unsuitable method of training dogs," perhaps you should actually try one. Or read a current book like Dave Walker's that clearly outlines how and when to use them in a humane way.

(By contrast, and while he remains a dean of dog trainers, if you have only read Paul Long's Training Pointing Dogs, originally published in 1974, you might come to the conclusion that the e-collar is a clumsy, unpredictable tool. And that using a slingshot to steady a dog on point is a viable tool. Then again, these are both still a long way from the thrashings trainers used to advocate in the 1930s and 1940s.) What's next? Outlawing sticks? or leashes? or just harsh words?

3 comments:

Rocket said...

Safe thoughts go out to Annie!

Go Sally go! You look beautiful with that water foul in your mouth.

Meg said...

Spreading "Coffee Boy" conspiracy theories....

I love you! Hi from Portland, OR.

Meg

Mike Spies said...

re: banning e-collars... the British sporting dog community seems to largely believe that American training methods are based on pressure and cruelty. Ergo, British methods are superior. The latter, of course, is wrong. The former has yet to be demonstrated.

The US Anglophile, Landrover, wellie crowd seem enamored with British-bred Labradors and training methods, but have not demonstrated any superiority in trials. The question remains unanswered.