My long absence has been due in part to falling down the rabbit hole of dog rescue. In October, the county shelter's population exploded, inspiring the director to publish a kill list of 17 dogs with a lead time of about two weeks. The rescue community mobilized, saving all the dogs and in fact removing another couple of dozen puppies and adult dogs, which reduced the head count from 70-plus to mid-30s. That's still crowded, but more manageable. This week the head count is in the 20s. In the meantime the director resigned, so the county is headhunting a new one.

Also in the meantime we both came down with something like a cold that lingered more than usual. Mine turned into pneumonia. I am well at last, but between the shelter Dunkirk action and the illness, I lost quite a few weeks in there. We had just built 3 spacious outdoor kennels, six by twelve feet, which allowed me to take in 4 largish shelter dogs. Although a couple have found homes, we took in one more, which still makes for three rescue dogs on the premises, in addition to our own three. Hired-help dog-walkers were a lifesaver when we were both sick.

Now we're in a reasonable routine, including trusting the new dogs enough to let them run on our property, even though these large, young, incredibly springy dogs could easily jump the 4-foot perimeter fence. Luckily, they don't seem so inclined. In more good news, they're learning the drill on pooping in the woods instead of in their kennels. Confinement in shelter cages knocks the training out of a dog, but they do pick it back up in time. Next they all need to learn some basic manners, especially on a lead. A dog that doesn't try to pull you off your feet is easier to place in a new home. Yesterday we enjoyed pot-luck Thanksgiving with neighbors at the house of one of them. Greg brought his usual brined, spice-rubbed turkey, which two young relatives of our neighbors pronounced the best they'd ever eaten. Brining prevents even the white meat from drying out. Today, also as usual, he is accommodating my unvarying demand for leftover Turkey Tetrazzini. We may also make turkey and dumplings, using the turkey schmaltz to form the dumplings.

It has been a great deal to be thankful for.

Blood Eagle

Spatchcocking a turkey is almost like carving a Blood Eagle, except that you don’t have to pull the lungs out and salt them because they were already removed. 

Dogface Soldiers

The Army/Navy game will feature West Point players in uniforms honoring the 3rd Infantry Division in the Iraq War. They’ll have Rocky the bulldog, created by Walt Disney and given to the Division by him, on the helmet. 

I spent a lot of time with 3ID in Iraq in 2007 and 2008. They sang the song with the lyrics “I eat raw meat for breakfast every day,” and “so feed me ammunition, keep me in the Third Division.”

The Storms of Autumn

We are still under a burn ban here, but in the nearby* Great Smoky Mountains National Park the main road through is closed due to snowfall and hurricane-force winds.
After the National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook and red flag warning due to hurricane-force gusts and high fire risk in the area, Elkmont and Cades Cove campgrounds were closed....

A red flag warning was in effect until the afternoon of Nov. 21 for the Smokies, which means very low humidity and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger. Last night, wind gusts were expected to increase to between 40 and 70 mph at night, with up to 80 mph gusts possible in some locations. 

During these high-risk conditions, a wildfire broke out the evening of Nov. 20 in the Tennessee side of the park near Rich Mountain Road.... The cause of the fire is under investigation, and no structures or properties were threatened as of Nov. 20. However, an early-morning voluntary evacuation of homes near the park boundary in Blount County, Tennessee, was conducted on Nov. 21, officials say.

The Great Smoky Mountains is currently under a burn ban, prohibiting all campfires and charcoal use until further notice. However, that didn’t stop one woman from intentionally setting two fires, which were quickly extinguished by park officials along a road in the North Carolina portion of the Great Smokies.

The woman was arrested, with federal and state charges pending.
She was smart to set it on the North Carolina side; in Tennessee, it's a $2500 fine and a year in jail. Here it's $100 and about $180 in court costs. I don't know what the Federal charges look like.

* OK, it's an hour away by the shortest route, an hour and a half by the prettier one, but...

Going Postal on the Nazis

A good story from the German invasion of Poland.

Another One Bites

Maryland’s 30-day waiting period to begin its 7-day additional waiting period to buy a handgun has been ruled unconstitutional

Modern Western

A laugh line from The Blues Brothers, filmed when a lot of radio stations claimed to play "Country/Western music," the real joke was that she was right. The two genres, although often popular among similar audiences, are in fact distinct. Country music has its roots in Appalachian folk songs, themselves Celtic in origin, combined with gospel and blues influences in the South. Western music had its origins in the West, and combined themes of cowboying and ranching, gunfighters and trail songs,* with a southwestern Spanish influence. 

Here are some newer singers doing Western music. Some of them also do country music, including my favorite genre Outlaw Country, but these are Western pieces.

More after the jump.

Hard Lessons

There's been quite a bit of talk about the possibility that Israel intends to purge Gaza, perhaps by driving the population into Egypt -- which says they're prepared "to sacrifice millions" to prevent having to accept the Gazans -- or in some other manner.

I don't know if they're intending that or not, although I notice that they're getting a lot of heat for it compared to the President of Syria, who expelled 14 million citizens who didn't get along with the government. In addition to that, though, there's some missing context: this is very much a two-way street. The Islamic world has been ethnically cleansing itself of Jews since Israel was founded in 1948; some having, prior to that, collaborated with the Nazi movement on the subject.*

One of the harder lessons in life is that there are things you can't fix. Without endorsing ethnic cleansing, I would suggest that the reason this conflict has drug on for more than seventy years is that people keep trying to put it in a bottle. Ceasefires, peace processes, and all that are well-intentioned, but they lead to generations of people living poor in 'refugee camps' that never go away -- surrounded and governed by militants who execute oppression towards them while planning terrorism abroad. 

Those Syrian refugees are better off in Germany than they ever were in Syria, and certainly better off than if they'd stayed to fight for ten more years. A happier future doesn't run through diplomacy, but victory: it's time for American officials to take their hands off the wheel, and let this sort itself out. Both sides really want the same thing: they hate each other and want to be separate. What they have to work out is something that can only be worked out one way. Peace will be possible once they've had their fill of war, and not because someone put a lid on the conflict while both sides felt like they could still have won more if only the fight had kept going.

* From that link: "Local militant and nationalistic societies, like the Young Egypt Party and the Society of Muslim Brothers, circulated reports claiming that Jews and the British were destroying holy places in Jerusalem, and other false reports that hundreds of Arab women and children were being killed." 

Sørina Higgins' "C. S. Lewis: Writer, Scholar, Seeker"

Some of you may recall AVI talking a while back about a conference he went to on the Inklings, which included a talk about the Holy Grail by Dr. Sørina Higgins. She has now published in "The Great Courses" a piece entitled "C. S. Lewis: Writer, Scholar, Seeker." It's now available as an audiobook.

Although his career is much richer and more varied than a single series of tales for children, Clive Staples (C. S.) Lewis is perhaps best-known for his beloved fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. Born in Belfast near the end of the 19th century, Lewis had a difficult childhood and lived through the devastation of two world wars. Yet, his work most often celebrates joy, optimism, and spiritual meaning, rather than dwelling on the darkness he had experienced.

In C. S. Lewis: Writer, Scholar, Seeker, Dr. Sørina Higgins will take you on a fascinating expedition through the life and work of this influential author, examining the crucial events and relationships that shaped his personal, literary, and spiritual journeys. As you’ll see, while Lewis holds a special place in the canon of modern fantasy literature—along with his friend and colleague J. R. R. Tolkien—the fantastic was not his only interest. His wide-ranging imagination and constant curiosity led him to write everything from religious essays to science fiction while also pursuing his career as an Oxford fellow and tutor and literary scholar. As you trace Lewis’ life from his unhappy days at boarding school to his final years, Dr. Higgins will spotlight the connections between his lived experience and the creation of his work, illuminating the ways his literary efforts reflected his personal pursuit of meaning and connection.

The story of Lewis’ life and literary achievements is one of both historical specificity and timeless, eternal themes. Though Lewis was certainly a man of his times and subject to many of the biases and restrictions of his era, as Dr. Higgins highlights, he never stopped growing and embracing new ways of thinking. And today, more than half a century after his death, his work lives on, entertaining and enlightening new generations of readers all over the world.

I'm sure that will be of interest to many of you. Dr. Higgins is a very nice person as well as a scholar, so it should be pleasant as well as intellectually engaging.