Monday, June 11, 2012

Better new link

Here's a better link to my Psychology Today blog.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

New Blog

I will be putting Dog Bytes to rest for a while to concentrate of my new blog hosted by Psychology Today, called Dog's Best Friend, after my first dog book.  The address is:

I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

stray dogs and miscreants

I intended to post a commentary on Miami Beach's conversion of itself into a police state for Urban Beach Week, a 'spontaneous' annual gathering of hip-hoppers, real and imagined hedonists, and general gadflies of meism that usually produces one or more bizarre events—last year police fired some 400 rounds into a car and its driver whose sole offense seems to have been driving on a barricaded street.  Police claimed he was firing at them, but it took three days to find a gun.

This year a heavy police presence seems to have calmmed everyone although several days remain.  It is unlikely any event will top the spectacle of one naked biped trying to chew the face off another in broad daylight on the off ramp of the MacArthur Causeway, the main thoroughfare to South Miami Beach, epicenter of the debauch.  Miami police shot and killed the cannibal.  Forget ravening wolves and marauding dogs—it's the people who are truly frightening


Fortunately this story out of China of a mountain bike racer and a stray dog who adopted each other and then made a 2000 kilometer ride together in a race through the mountains of western China into Tibet reminds me that the naked biped is capable of more than debauchery and barbarity—not that I have anything against ritual frenzy per se.  I do, however, dislike groupism.

It goes without saying that these extremes of behavior define our species and demonstrate why religion and ethics exist and why we constantly violate them.  We are performing according to our natures.  The world will change when our natures change, and they will be transformed ony through a change in each individual's  consciousness that must come from within, from a confrontation with the worst of us that allows the best of us to ride on.  And it's a damn good thing I'm not a religious man.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Back to It

I owe multiple catch-up posts on the new Jack Russell terrier puppy Toodles and other matters but for now, while I was returning home from my morning swim the other day, I heard Mitt Romney rushing through another speech as if the words hurt him.  Then it came to me--the Mitt sounds like a man running downhill with your wallet in his hand.

As he picks up speed, you can barely discern, receding with him, the words: "But you gave it to me...."

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Back Again

Google is in full digest mode, trying to unify its databases and clean-up its design, its interface.  The battle seems over privacy, but fighting it is on a par with using the current war to refight the previous one.  The chief reason that is not more discussed now lies, I think, in the different ecologies of Afghanistan and Vietnam, which allow people to claim they are not similar.  Wrong.  The physical terrain amounts to nothing compared with the psychological territory, in which the generals are as lost now as 50 years ago.  Here is a glaring example, a story heard on NPR this morning.  Army has built a fake Afghan village in which it is training the military advisers to train fighters who tactical skill already surpasses that of their advisers.  The training is in English.  The alarms should be melting down.  Learn the language and culture.  Well, do that, and we won't be there at all.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Legend of Uno and Duo

Here's a little change, which I hope some viewers will find amusing.  It might be called 'parable as legend.'

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Dog Is from Where?

An intellectual battle rages between researchers centered around the UCLA lab of evolutionary biologist Robert K. Wayne and the Royal Institute of Biology, Stockholm lab of Pier Savolainen for pinpointing in time and space the origin of the dog.  Savolainen and his colleagues place the first dogs in the ‘area south of the Yangtze River” not before 16,000 years ago.  Their findings are based on mitochondrial DNA studies, and the last few times out, they have engaged in all manner of mental contortions to keep their first dogs from breaking free of their geographic isolation. 
Wayne and his colleagues end up looking at the Middle East wolf with significant contributions from European and Chinese wolves, going back 40,000 or more years.  Their estimates are based on scans of the entire genome, especially of the nuclear DNA (from both parents, whereas mitochondrial DNA comes from the mother and the Y chromosome from the father.  
Now comes in PLoS One a study of the Y chromosome in wolves and dogs, including village dogs from the Middle East and the Area South of the Yangtze.   Sarah K. Brown of the University of California, Davis, author of the study, says the evidence points to three major patrilineal clades--in Africa, the Middle East, and the area south of the Yangtze, with the latter being the primary center of domestication, based on its higher levels of diversity.    Furthermore, she says that all European and modern North American breeds fall within that clade.  
A persistent bias in all these genetical analyses assumes that the highest genetic diversity is found at a point of origin; indeed, the statistical analysis the researchers use is based on that assumption.  Another built-in bias assumes that an expanding population radiated out evenly from the place of origin.
Both assumptions have been shown to be inaccurate, but they persist in part because statistically they must and in part because the results are what the researchers want to prove their point.    They do not.  
For all we currently know the founding dog population--or its descendants--could have been decimated by war, disease, or the influx of a few favored dogs--or masses of dogs.    Mitochondrial diversity can be increased by preferential keeping of breeding females for food production, as was apparently done in the Area South of the Yangtze River.  It can also increase through expansion of the dog population in an environment where it is relatively isolated from large-scale infusions of fresh blood that might overwhelm the native stock.  
If the dog was born on the move, we would initially expect a smallish population formed by inbreeding and outcrossing to other dogwolves and wild wolves--in other words breeding with what was available.  In How the Dog Became the Dog, I suggest that the important regions for that kind of mixing and matching were where various game and migration routes met, like the area of the Black and Caspian Seas and the Caucasus Mountains and the region of the Altai Mountains and Amur River headwaters.  A population of Middle Eastern dogwolves on the move with Homo sapiens from the area that is now the Persian Gulf passed through, even lingered in the former on its way to residence in the latter in the neighborhood of 30,000 to 40,000 years ago.    
As the ice sheets of the last glacial advance retreated the descendants of these people were on the move again--east, south and back to the west.  At least one of those movements would have brought dogs to the Area South of the Yangtze sometime after 16,000 years ago and probably closer to less than 10,000 years ago.  Impossible?  
A signal problem with the Area South of the Yangtze River is an apparent dearth of wolves and people, two essential ingredients in formation of the dog, until the dog appears 7,000 to 8,000 years ago, and it’s not for a lack of digging.  Another questions involves how dogs would exit the region in time to catch the great migration into the America’s beginning by many current estimates before 16,000 years ago, not to mention the rest of Asia and Europe.  
For now, it would be nice to see some village dog samples from northern China and Mongolia and more from the Carpathian Mountains and the Caspian and Caucasus region.

Read an excellent analysis at The Retriever, Dog, & Wildlife.