Word went out on the community message board that people were finding dead jackrabbits. Healthy looking jackrabbits that appeared to have just dropped dead. There was a plague going around. A jackrabbit plague. RHD2. Rabbit hemorrhagic disease two. The two distinguishes it from original RHD. Bad news, a plague of any kind. Sure enough, a few days later, I saw on the remote camera on the back porch of my cabin out in the Mojave a bird picking at what looked like the muscles and bones of what used to be a jackrabbit.
I drove out there, and found that yes indeed, this had been a jackrabbit. Whether it had died of plague, I don’t know, it seemed possible. I bagged it for disposal, and poured some disinfectant on the ground, as recommended by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The next day, I found another dead jackrabbit. This jackrabbit did not appear to have been hurt in any way. Her eye was open to me. This jackrabbit appeared to have gone into the shade and died. There was no visible trauma and no blood. I didn’t want to get too close, but this was the best chance to examine a jackrabbit, up close and at rest, that I’d ever had. Usually the jackrabbits are fast and on the move. Once they sense you seeing them, they take off.
I won’t put a picture of it here, in case a picture of a dead jackrabbit would upset you. In a way the lack of damage and the animal’s beauty made it much more sad and eerie. It reminded me of Dürer’s drawing of a young hare. I read the Wikipedia page about Dürer’s drawing, which departs from the usual impartial tone to quote praise for the drawing’s mastery:
it is acknowledged as a masterpiece of observational art alongside his Great Piece of Turf from the following year. The subject is rendered with almost photographic accuracy, and although the piece is normally given the title Young Hare, the portrait is sufficiently detailed for the hare to be identified as a mature specimen — the German title translates as “Field Hare” and the work is often referred to in English as the Hare or Wild Hare.
Dürer’s drawing of a walrus is less acclaimed:
The drawing is generally considered as not successful; and is viewed as curious attempted depiction that is neither aesthetically pleasing nor anatomically true to life. Art historians assume the artist drew it from memory having viewed a dead example during a 1520 visit to Zeeland to see a stranded whale which had decomposed before his arrival. Referring to the depiction departure for nature, Durer’s animal has been described as “amusing…it looks more like a hairless puppy with tusks. When Dürer drew from life his accuracy was unquestionable, but he had only briefly seen a walrus, and had only fleeting memory and an elaborate verbal description from which to reconstruct the image”.
The jackrabbit is very similar to the European hare. The suggestion of the magical power of hares is a common theme in Celtic literature and the literature and folklore of the British Isles. We all remember the March Hare.
Most Americans are confused as to just what hares are, chiefly because we are accustomed to calling some of them jackrabbits. Biologically, the chief differences between hares and rabbits are that hares are born with hair and open eyes and can hop about immediately, while rabbits are naked, blind and helpless as birth.
I learned from this book:
which contains recipes for hares, including jugged hare, hasenpfeffer, and hare civit.
Of all the game animals you can hunt in California: elk, wild big, bear, turkey, bighorn sheep, deer, duck, chukar, dove, quail, the jackrabbit alone can be hunted all year round*. There is no season, and there’s no limit. On one of my first trips to California, I was taken out to the desert with the Gamez boys on a jackrabbit hunt. We only saw a few jackrabbits. Nobody got off a good shot at one. I doubt we really wanted to kill one, we just wanted to drive around the desert, shoot guns, and have fun, which we did very successfully.
During the pandemic I got my California hunting license, you could do it entirely online due to Covid restrictions. But I don’t intend to hunt jackrabbits, I don’t want to be like Elmer Fudd.
The meat is said to be quite dry, tough, and gamey. Most recipes call for long simmerings.
If you ever find out in the desert where you must hunt a jackrabbit for food, here’s the Arizona Game and Fish Department telling you how to butcher one.
Long ago, when I was a young cowboy, I witnessed a herd reaction in a real herd – about one hundred cattle that some cowboys and I were moving from one pasture to another along a small asphalt farm-to-market road. It was mid-afternoon in mid-summer. Men, horses, and cattle were all drowsy, the herd just barely plodding along, until one cow happened to drag her hoof on the rough asphalt, making a loud rasping sound. In an instant that sleepy herd was in full flight, and our horses too. A single sound on a summer afternoon produced a short but violent stampede. The cattle and horses ran full-out for perhaps one hundred yards. It was the only stampede I was ever in, and a dragging hoof caused it.
by frequent Helytimes subject Larry McMurtry. You had me at “Long ago, when I was a young cowboy.”
Oh What A Slaughter isn’t a fun book exactly, but it’s about the most friendly and conversational book you could probably find about massacres. The style of McMurtry’s non-fiction is so casual, you could argue it’s lazy or bad,
As I have several times said, massacres will out, and this one did in spades.
he says on page 80, for instance. I suspect it takes work or great practice to sound this relaxed. The book reads like the story of an old friend, even humorous at times. There’s great trust in the reader.
One point McMurtry returns to an ruminates on as a cause or at least precursor to these scenes of frenzied violence is apprehension. People get spooked. Why did a heavily armed US Army unit watching over – actually disarming – some detained Indians at Wounded Knee suddenly unleash?
The Ghost Dance might have had some kind of millennial implications, but it was just a dance helped by some poor Indians – and Indians, like the whites themselves, had always danced.
McMurtry says. Yeah, but it put the 7th Cavalry on edge, and they weren’t disciplined and controlled enough. The microsociologist Randall Collins, speaking of fights and violence generally, might’ve diagnosed what likely happened next:
Violence is not so much physical as emotional struggle; whoever achieves emotional domination, can then impose physical domination. That is why most real fights look very nasty; one sides beats up on an opponent at the time they are incapable of resisting. At the extreme, this happens in the big victories of military combat, where the troops on one side become paralyzed in the zone of 200 heartbeats per minute, massacred by victors in the 140 heartbeat range. This kind of asymmetry is especially dangerous, when the dominant side is also in the middle ranges of arousal; at 160 BPM or so, they are acting with only semi-conscious bodily control. Adrenaline is the flight-or-fight hormone; when the opponent signals weakness, shows fear, paralysis, or turns their back, this can turn into what I have called a forward panic, and the French officer Ardant du Picq called “flight to the front.” Here the attackers rush forward towards an unresisting enemy, firing uncontrollably. It has the pattern of hot rush, piling on, and overkill. Most outrageous incidents of police violence against unarmed or unresisting targets are forward panics, now publicized in our era of bullet counts and ubiquitous videos.
The chukar partridge is the national bird of Pakistan and Iraq.
A taxidermied specimen in the Auckland museum.
There’s also a population in the United States.
The chukar population extends to eastern California.
Originally native to southern Eurasia, the chukar (also known as partridge) was brought from Pakistan in 1932 to be a game bird. It is now plentiful in northeastern California (east of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range) and the Mojave Desert. It can be found below sea level in Death Valley, and as high as 12,000 feet in elevation in the White Mountains. A chukar range map is available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website.
source: CDFW News. More:
Their call is a distinctive chuck-chuck-chuck, from which their name is derived. Skilled hunters who can replicate the call will find this tactic useful.
Gotta get into the desert uplands and try to find one of these guys.
In small packs of mammals there’s an alpha male who gets all the females by fighting off the other males, who have to go off and live by themselves and get stronger before the next rutting season. This is a pattern for instance among sea lions, and elephant seals, and horned beasts like elk.
But nature is funny. At the Tule Elk State Natural Reserve in Buttonwillow they have an interesting piece of taxidermy. It’s two elks that got in a fight, the alpha I guess and a challenger. The one elk’s horn went in the other elk’s eye, and killed him. Which would seem like a win, except with his horn caught on a dead elk, unable to get it off, the surviving elk ended up getting weighed down and dying himself.
The rangers swore that’s what happened, anyway.
There’s all this talk about alpha and beta in advice to young men, which overlooks that our society is quite a bit more complex, there are lots of ways to distinguish yourself and make yourself attractive, and our females are not as simpleminded and docile as cow-elks.
When it comes to alpha and beta, maybe sometimes what you want is to let them two kill each other and be the Gamma Guy left standing.
Gerald Ford’s puppies.
from Collection GRF-WHPO:
White House Photographic Office Collection (Ford Administration)
in our National Archives.
Samuel Sidney [The Book of the Horse, 1875, repr. ed. Bonanza Books, 1985] stated Skewball “…won a great number of plates and prizes in England, and one famous match in Ireland.” The Irish turf callendar says he won six races worth £508 in 1752, when he was eleven years old, and was the top earning runner of that year in Ireland. The match became the subject of a ballad, Skewball, which has endured, in varying forms, to the present day.
The match celebrated by the ballad is listed in Pond’s Racing Calendar of 1752. It was held at the Curragh in Kildare, Ireland, on Saturday, March 28, with each participant putting up 300 guineas. Arthur Marvin (also Marvyn, or Mervin) owned Skewball, who carried 8st. 7lb. His opponent was “Sir Ralph Gore’s grey mare,” carrying the heavier weight of 9 st. Skewball was a gelding, which explains why he was still running at age eleven; although it was not uncommon for horses to run to ages 9 or 10 during that period, successful stallions were usually retired from the turf to commence their stud careers. He won the 4 mile race in 7 minutes and 51 seconds.
Whatever just noting that it’s the 266nd anniversary of a run by a horse in a race that people are still singing about.
They don’t seem to run many four mile horse races anymore. Some history on these “real stayers.”
Sir Ralph Gore, owner of the grey mare, was born at Belle Isle castle.
During the Battle of Lauffeld on 2 July 1747 all his superior officers were killed or severely wounded, so command of the battalion fell to Gore, who performed so well, that on the following day he received the thanks of the British commander Prince William, Duke of Cumberland.
(Remembering now that I stopped there once to visit the Irish National Stud)
and one more from Leadbelly:
Check out the bowties on The Hollies:
Learned this the other day reading The Economist.
Are you ready?
Mate that’s nearly two roos per person!
The source of that photo is Tasmanian sheep farmer Charlie Mackinnon, who said of the dog:
She was an absolute legend, worked all day.
Funny story told in Jay McInerney Paris Review interview:
I felt like I had really arrived because—well, it was The New Yorker. But it was the fact-checking department. I wanted to be in the fiction pages, but still. It actually paid pretty well, and I was seeing great writers like John McPhee and John Updike coming to visit William Shawn. J. D. Salinger was still calling on the phone. There was a terrific buzz about the place. But it was also a little depressing. There were all these unwritten rules. Like, for instance, if you were a fact-checker, you didn’t speak to an editor or writer in the hall—it just wasn’t done. Also, it turned out I wasn’t very good at it. And ten months after I got there, I was fired, and left ingloriously with my tail between my legs.
How bad were you?
My biggest mistake was to have lied on my résumé and said that I was fluent in French, which I wasn’t. So when the time came to check a Jane Kramer piece on the French elections, it was assigned to me, and I had to call France and talk to a lot of people who didn’t speak English. That was really my downfall. And of course I couldn’t admit to anyone that I had this problem. Jane Kramer discovered factual errors just before publication. Nothing earth shattering, but you would think that I had . . .
reprinting this 2013 classic because can’t find my copy of this book, wondering if I loaned it to one of you.
Nice work boys.
Wilson got his start doing a survey of all the ants in Alabama.
There’s the question of, why did I pick ants, you know? Why not butterflies or whatever? And the answer is that they’re so abundant, they’re easy to find, and they’re easy to study, and they’re so interesting. They have social habits that differ from one kind of ant to the next. You know, each kind of ant has almost the equivalent of a different human culture. So each species is a wonderful object to study in itself. In fact, I honestly can’t…cannot understand why most people don’t study ants.
Somewhere else I think I heard Wilson say something like “once you start to study ants it’s hard to be interested in anything else.”
Look at the wild coolness on Bert Hölldobler:
Important to remember some things such as nature documentaries are better than ever!
My feet were kinda messed up (from walking?). Mentioned this to my friend Hana. She knows how to bring forth bounty from the Earth, I knew she would have some wondrous cure. She thought about it and came back with this medicine they use for messed up cow udders.
Gotta say it seems like a miracle product.
Some critics have asserted that to be a proper meme my font should have the stroke outline, and to them I respond with the above meme.
this one you could use for example when declining an invitation to go out. Photo from Comisión de Tránsito del Ecuador’s Facebook page.
just reviewing some good times summer mems.
To go on display! But back in Massachusetts. Is is worth a trip?
The original object was exhibited by P.T. Barnum in Barnum’s American Museum in New York in 1842 and then disappeared. It was assumed that it had been destroyed in one of Barnum’s many fires that destroyed his collections…
There is controversy today on whether the Fiji mermaid actually disappeared in the fire or not. Many claim to have the original exhibit, but Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, has the most proof that their exhibit is the actual original. It does not look completely the same, but it does have the same flat nose and bared teeth. The thought that the fires could have altered the appearance of the mermaid are reason for it not looking completely like it did in Barnum’s possession.
Well, if I can’t make it to Cambridge I can always make my own:
A guide to constructing a Fiji mermaid appeared in the November 2009 issue of Fortean Times magazine, in an article written by special effects expert and stop-motion animator Alan Friswell. Rather than building the figure with fish and monkey parts, Friswell used papier mache and modelling putty, sealed with wallpaper paste, and with doll’s hair glued to the scalp.
My pal and former Office co-worker Owen Ellickson is one of the greatest Twitterers in the game right now IMO, on track to become a legendary Dad Humorist.
Owen and his lovely wife used to be my neighbors, so I oft visited with Owen’s dog Jerry, who was, to be blunt, not always a pure joy to encounter. Nonetheless I was fond of Jerry and sad to learn of his recent passing. Owen wrote a tribute to his dog that I found very refreshing and tender and with permission I reprint it here for Helytimes readers:
We put our dog Jerry down yesterday. Jerry was somewhere between 13 and 15, and had lived with me for over a decade. Everyone has been very nice about it; in truth, few will mourn his loss. Jerry was a bad dog.
We like to think of dogs as paragons of kindness, bottomless pits of furry empathy that remind their owners what they aspire to be. In this “Marley & Me” framing of dogdom, even the worst things our little friends do are adorable, the kind of benign bloopers rom-com protagonists commit. Marley’s big sins were things like “chewed up a bra,” and “pooped somewhere silly.” Jerry’s sins were things like “bit a person,” and “bit a dog,” and “bit another person.” Over the ten-plus years Jerry was with me, he bit four dogs and six people. He bit residents and visitors; he bit men and women; he bit inside and outside. He bit me. He bit my wife. Owning him made me feel angry and nervous and guilty and negligent. Yesterday was a long time coming… the subject of putting him down was on the table for the majority of our time together. Jerry wasn’t a (charmed coo) “bad dog.” He was a (frightened whisper) “BAD dog.”
Jerry had bounced around Los Angeles pounds in his youth – ours was at least his fourth home, Jerry at least his fourth name (previous monikers included Frowly, Donut and Buster). He’d gotten smacked around a bit at his previous stop, and maybe before that too; whether that was the sole cause of his demons wasn’t clear. What was clear, a month or two in, once he started getting comfortable: Jerry was a little nuts. He flew into rages when anyone tried to enter our house. He had an unquenchable thirst for screaming like a lunatic at dogs he encountered on the street. And he didn’t like sharing me with anyone: if I kissed or hugged my girlfriend (now wife) in front of Jerry, he’d let out this piercing whine. It made us laugh, but, I mean, that’s crazy, right?
Simply put, Jerry had problems. We gave those problems names (separation anxiety, border aggression, stress-induced colitis, psychogenic polydipsia) and plenty of attention (heavy exercise, chicken-flavored Prozac, a litany of trainers and experts and behaviorists, including a man who called himself the Dog Whisperer’s protégé, although I never got documentation on that, although how could you, really, I guess), but we never solved those problems. At best, we managed them. At worst, he bit. If our goal was to make him a good dog, we failed.
But I don’t think it’s fair to say that HE failed. I don’t think there was some beatific, Upworthy version of Jerry that he simply refused to become. He was who he was; he gave what he had. Jerry wasn’t a perfect soul, a living vision of kindness. He was just another asshole, like the rest of us. He was aggressive and neurotic and selfish and flawed. He was still my couchmate, my hiking buddy, my pillow, my eater of last resort. He still animated our home with his grumpy-old-man noises, still made us laugh when he stared at apple-eaters like a weird drooling Sphinx, still licked my head fanatically after basketball. He still made me happy every day that I owned him, even if he made me feel all sorts of other things too.
Jerry was a bad dog. But if I could go back in time and pick a different dog from the tens of thousands that littered 2005 Los Angeles, I wouldn’t. And, with apologies to the various creatures he bit, if I could go back in time and change Jerry into a good dog, I wouldn’t. I didn’t love him because he was good. I loved him because he was Jerry.
An anonymous correspondent sends us this one with text:
maybe drunk but thought video was funny
Kunkush the cat reunited with Iraqi refugee family