Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chauvinism or Hard Truth?

From Associated Press:

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- The man who announces the Nobel Prize in literature says the United States is too "insular" and ignorant to compete with Europe when it comes to great writing.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Horace Engdahl said Tuesday that "Europe still is the center of the literary world."

Engdahl is the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, which selects the literature prize winner. He is expected to announce the winner in the coming weeks.

Engdahl says the U.S. "is too isolated, too insular" and doesn't really "participate in the big dialogue of literature."

Since Japanese poet Kenzaburo Oe won in 1994, the selections have had a distinct European flavor. The last American winner was Toni Morrison in 1993.

Is there an American novelist or poet who deserves serious Nobel consideration?

HT Bridgette Williams at Texas Pages.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tough Going - But Good

Cate after a very warm morning hunt in the Red River breaks.

Squirrel season opens October 1 in most East Texas counties. However, in the timbered hills and draws along the Red River, in a few north Texas counties where Blackland Prairie and Post Oak Savannah meet to form some of the best fox squirrel habitat anywhere, the season never officially closes, though summer heat keeps hunters out of the woods June through August and most of September.

Last week, with early morning temperatures in the low 60s, Cate and I hit a certain section of woods - post oak, blackjack oak, pecan, elm, cedar, and Osage orange - for a couple of warm-up hunts.

We did, in fact, warm up.

We started at first light, and by 9 o'clock I was drenched in sweat and Cate was stepping on her tongue. Compared to gray squirrels, fox squirrels are late risers.

Still, we had a fine time, and Cate worked well in spite of the heat. She treed several times, but the squirrels were very hard to see up there in the dense leaves. It's pretty tough for a single hunter and a dog this time of year. I blew a couple of easy shots.

But cooler days are coming. We'll try to get out a day or two this week.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Little Scrappers

How's this for precocious?

A few posts back, I wrote that Donny Lynch, my hunting buddy and dog training mentor, has pups for sale. Here's a very recent photo of four of his pups on a tree. Yes, there's a squirrel up there. The gorgeous feist highest on the trunk is Sponge Bob (named by Donny's grandson Eli.) He's 11 weeks old. The little rat terriers are 8 weeks old. Some of his pups are for sale and some are not. Again, if you're interested, drop me a line and I'll put you in touch with him.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Goose Throwdown

Actually, I'm most impressed by the Chessie. She clearly knew how to take care of the goose but backed off at her master's command.

HT to the boys at Field Notes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More on "Stuff White People Like"

I've always considered "Stuff Various Ethnic Groups Like" harmless fun. I had my own fun with the concept here.

But Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic's literary editor, thinks that Christian Lander, founder of the blog "Stuff White People Like," offers more than lightweight mockery:

"SWPL—which catalogs the tastes, prejudices, and consumption habits of well-off, well-educated, youngish, self-described progressives—was refreshing because it’s everything a blog, almost by definition, is not. Rather than serving up unedited, impromptu, self-important ruminations on random events and topics, the tightly focused, stylishly written, precisely observed entries eschew the genre’s characteristic I (though Lander in fact writes nearly all of them) and adopt a cool, never snarky though sometimes biting, pseudo-anthropological tone. "

Further on:

"More damning is the conclusion produced by a careful reading of this often fine-grained semi-sociological analysis: a good deal of the progressives’ attitudes, preferences, and sense of identity are ingrained in an unlovely disdain for those outside their charmed circle. "


"At the top of this list is anything that has to do with Christianity”—an aversion, Lander discerns, rooted not in religious enmity but in taste (Christianity is “a little trashy”), formed largely by class and education. To those of this mind-set, the problem with a great many Americans is that they don’t “care about the right things.

".... In fact, he asserts in a somewhat atypical aside that betrays the steel behind his joshing, 'White People 'really do hate a significant portion of the population.' "

Think of the Left's predictable reaction to Sarah Palin, and the Right's gleeful, cynical, and equally predictable effort to exploit it. (Perhaps we need a blog called "Stuff Right People Like.")

I'm afraid that disdain for a certain "significant portion of the population," isn't limited to the Left. Here in very white collar, Republican North Texas, among people who generally regard any form of collective bargaining as a significant slide down the slippery slope toward socialism, I'm amazed at the new-found love of the working class. Todd Palin, a union man! A sure-enough 'merican! Those goddamn liberals wouldn't last a week up there in Alaska.

Of course the ideologues and opportunists in both parties underestimate the people they simultaneously loathe and woo. Getting to know truck drivers, rural preachers, farmers, factory workers, and tradesmen would be messy and uncomfortable. Better to work in the abstract and deal in stereotypes. Engaging nimble minds where we hadn't expected to find any, seeing what can be endured and accomplished through simple religious faith, or counting friends among the uninsured "resources" freed-up by downsizing and globalization could encourage reflection. We might even begin to to question positions we've spent years solidifying and arguing.

But then we like what we like. If only the everyone else liked what we like...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reprieve for the Ogallala Aquifer

A few minutes ago, I ran across this small wire report in The Dallas Morning News:

"LUBBOCK - Billionaire and wind energy advocate T. Boone Pickens has indefinitely suspended plans for a water pipeline aimed at shipping water from the Texas Panhandle to thirsty cities downstate. Mr. Pickens is continuing to pursue rights of way for electric transmission lines to carry power generated by a planned wind farm. Spokesman said there were no buyers for the water."

Politics aside, I like and admire Boone Pickens in spite of his fearsome reputation. Several years ago, I interviewed him for the Dallas Business Journal and found him gracious, funny, and self-effacing. That said, I'd hate to be one of his enemies.

Wind towers are ugly, noisy, and potentially deadly to birds. I have serious reservations about the Kenedy County Wind Energy Development project on the Texas coast. Nevertheless, I appreciate Boone Pickens's leadership on the issues of peak oil and wind power. Yes, he has a serious financial stake, but at least he has something to offer. We have to wean ourselves from fossil fuel, and wind power is one alternative. Wind farms on certain parts of the High Plains - one of the world's windiest regions - make sense.

However, I've always opposed Pickens's water project. I'm not sorry to learn that he has abandoned it for the time being. In theory, he'd purchase rights to drill and pump fossil groundwater from all over the northern Panhandle then pipe it to customers in Dallas, Fort Worth, and other profligate water consumers. Under the outdated "Right of Capture," he could sell as much water as he could pump. Never mind that the Ogallala Aquifer, the basis of the entire High Plains economy, is being rapidly depleted by heavy pumping for irrigation. In some areas, the water level has dropped 100 feet or more.

Proponents of the plan say that water is worth more to the farmers than the crops they could grow, and that once the water is gone, agriculture on the southern High Plains will cease, and the native grasses and wildlife, even bison, could return. One way or another, the Ogallala will be depleted. Landowners might as well get the maximum benefit from the pumping rights.

This isn't a ridiculous position. Week before last, I spoke with a prominent High Plains agricultural expert about the state of the Ogallala Aquifer. I asked him why so few people, are talking about it. His answer: "Because it's too awful to imagine. So they don't imagine. It's easier to deny the problem and keep doing what you've always done."

Sound familiar? "Drill, baby, drill!"

But selling fossil water will hasten the destruction of the region's economy, leaving less time for orderly transition and will likely speed the already unsustainable growth in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex while delaying critical debate about limits.

These days, Boone Pickens is focused on wind. I wish him much success. Hopefully, he'll be too busy to get back to his water project.

The Joys of Cur Ownership

I feel fall coming. Cooler temperatures, declining stress, new hunting license, fox squirrels going about their squirrelish business with renewed vigor, Cate understandably raising hell all day long, and, thus far, my dear, long-suffering neighbors not complaining to the authorities.

Jane tells me to make her hush. I respond that you probably shouldn't reprimand a tree dog - especially a pup - for treeing - or "roofing," or "fencing," as the case may be.

In hot weather, fox squirrels, like gray squirrels, are most active early and late in the day. No problem. Let the dogs in just before sunrise then turn them back out around mid-morning.

Now, the squirrels are active all day, scurrying about roofs, running along the top of my fence, trying to get at the last of my tomatoes, and generally keeping little Cate in a state of high and noisy alert.

I cannot safely shoot the squirrels with my pellet gun. Believe me, I've given it serious thought. Blessed silence plus baked squirrel.

We'll tough it out. Hunting season opens October 1. Cate can get her squirrel fix in the woods, then lie around my office dreaming squirrel dreams.

Yesterday afternoon, I gave up and let the dogs in. After sniffing everything in my office at least twice, they lay down and commenced snoring. A bit later, as I stared at the monitor and considered superfluous adverbs or wondered if there were any new entries at the Atlantic Monthly blog and otherwise worked very hard at not working, Cate cut loose at the top of her lungs. In my small office. With the door closed.

After I regained my wits and breath, I spun around to find both dogs staring at the ceiling, ears perked, brows furrowed. Then I heard the unmistakable patter of a squirrel running along the roof.

There was nothing to do but say, "Good girl!" and try to keep Cate from jumping on my desk.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Need a Good Pup?

Donny Lynch, my East Texas hunting buddy, has a few rat terrier and feist puppies he'd sell to the right hunter(s). Donny isn't a commercial dog breeder, though he's very serious, experienced, and knowledgeable. He occasionally breeds hunting dogs for himself and his friends. In this case he has a few pups left over, but he's not desperate to sell them. Donny hunts every day during the squirrel season, and coon hunts all summer in the East Texas heat, so he has no trouble working several dogs.

Of course no puppy is a sure thing, but I can personally vouch for Donny's breeding stock. I've hunted over all of his finished dogs and count them among the best all-around hunting dogs - of any breed - that I've ever known. During an average season, they'll account for hundreds of squirrels and scores of raccoons.

The rat terrier puppies are out of a locally famous line of treeing rat terriers often called "Dubbie dogs" in reference to "Dubbie," a large terrier that won the World Hunt several years ago. In general these dogs are silent on the track with a clear loud bark on the tree. This litter's sire is Chance, one of Donny's all-time favorites. You can see a decent photo of Chance in this article.
Chance's puppy Junior made an appearance this past July on Good Morning Texas. At just over a year old, he's already treeing well, and he accounted for a number of squirrels during his puppy season.

Ranger, the sire of the feist pups, is ounce of ounce, the toughest little hunter I've ever seen, though he's very companionable and biddable. Like Chance, Ranger is silent on the track and has a nice clear bark on the tree. He's an excellent coon dog. I blogged about him here and here.

As a general rule, I don't advertise or plug products. I have no financial stake in these puppies, nor do I know how much Donny might charge. But he's a great friend, dog man, and hunter, and I wanted to pass this info along.

For the most part, Donny places his pups with serious squirrel and coon hunters, but I suspect that if you can provide a good home and keep a dog busy with other kinds of terrier and feist work he'd be glad to hear from you. His dogs are very bold, gamey, and versatile. These pups will be very well socialized. The feist pups are around seven months old and are already starting to tree. I believe the rat terrier pups are quite a bit younger.

If you're interested, drop me a line, and I'll put you in touch with Donny.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stuff Some White People Like

First thing this morning, when I should have been working, I checked in on 2blowhards like I do first thing every morning when I should be working and noticed that Michael Blowhard scored 27 out of 107 on the "Stuff White People Like" test and found himself a little less white than he'd expected.

"Stuff Various Ethnic Groups Like" seems to be all the rage these days, so I decided to find out just how white I am. Turns out, I'm considerably less white that Michael B.

I scored 17/107.

One glance at the test confirmed my suspicion. The questions, like television commercials, are not aimed at my demographic. That is, age 48, born, raised and educated in Kentucky, comfortably settled in Texas for the past 26 years, extremely cheap...uh...thrifty and sensible

For instance, I do not know, nor have I ever known a person of any ethnicity who likes self-aware hip-hop references. Likewise Oscar Parties, Michael Gondry (whoever the hell he is), or knowing what's best for poor people.

I knew a vegetarian once. She moved to Manhattan. This past weekend, I met a young woman from California, a fellow scribbler who had relapsed after 10 years of vegetarianism. I asked her what happened. She said, "I moved to Texas."

I love dogs, as some of you may know. Also, coffee, black friends, farmers markets, gifted children, public radio, and book deals, especially those that come with an advance. My friends (black, white, and Hispanic) and I love organic food, particularly, squirrel, quail, frog legs, catfish, and any vegetable or fruit plucked from a backyard garden or orchard. Ditto bumper stickers or at least those that proclaim things like "I Hunt With Meat Dogs."

I like Barack Obama. However, I enjoy looking at Sarah Palin. (Stuff Middle-Age Men Like)

If you're new to my blog, you may be surprised that my friends and I love wine, which, according to the test, moves me toward the white end of the scale. In fact, on our hunting trips, far more wine than beer is consumed after the guns are unloaded and put away. A couple of years ago, I visited my buddy Wyman Meinzer at his home in Benjamin, Texas. We'd spent an afternoon following a pack of curs and plott hounds in pursuit of wild hogs. We were pulling back out on Highway 82, just before dark, when Wyman's wife, Sylinda, called and said, "Where are you boys? It's wine time!"

Oh, wait...

Could that be considered ironic? Maybe I'm a little whiter than I thought.