Mossy Chossy writsey: Google reminds me, the Wall fell 30 years ago today. What were all you old folks doing? I was mostly just sleeping, I assume.
Heebie's take: Let's see: I would have been 11, in 7th grade. I do remember, the following year, watching (what must have been) Night Crossing, the true story of a family taking a hot air balloon over the wall. So prior to that, I'm not sure I had much concept of the Berlin Wall. I think that was when I first understood that a city had been barricaded into an island, and I remember how insane that seemed when I finally understood. (My other memory of Night Crossing is that it seemed painfully dated by 1990 - until now, I assumed that it had been made maybe in the 60s or 70s.) I do remember hearing about how people basically just started walking through, and the initial breach was almost casual, and then it became open floodgates.
Here's a bunch of photos of the scene when the wall came down.
Nworbie writes: Harper's magazine, at $24.00 a year, is incomparably the best value of all my subscriptions. This month's issue has the tale of the vultures of Palm Beach, where an elderly woman puts out food for the animals. But these are the animals of south Florida. She no longer feeds the alligators after one of them had to be taken away and shot, something which upset her so much she stopped. But she still feeds the vultures and they can't figure out why everyone else in the neighbourhood won't ...
We live in New York and bought the house in West Palm Beach as a vacation home. Our house sitter told us the house is overrun by vultures. It's a widespread problem. I heard a lady is buying bags and bags of dog food and leaving them out for the vultures. They know who it is, but she won't stop. My husband has a timer on a camera, and hundreds have broken through our screen and have taken up residence and vomit everywhere. The smell is like a thousand rotting corpses. The vultures just vomit everywhere. Defecating and vomiting. It's just gross. We can't even go back down to the house.
The wildlife has taken over the community. There's a lot of other animals, but those are easy on the eyes--they're not vomiting. I'm not talking about a few vultures, I'm talking about hundreds that are swarming the area. The whole neighbourhood is trashed. Those vultures are like the size of dogs. They ripped all the screens out, ripped up all the furniture, vomited on the barbecue and in the pool--everywhere. They just all hang out there and do whatever vultures do.
The only thing that can stop a millionaire with a swimming pool is another millionaire with a swimming pool - and a bag of vulture food. But then aren't we all vulture food in the end.
1. Nworbie also wrote a personal line to me, "[I don't mean to insult your home state, but this is perfect]" which is fair.
2. The West Palm Beach Post did a story with a few photos. Honestly, the photos are not that convincing - there are 10 birds, and they are definitely inside the pool enclosure, but something must have attracted them there - there are often clusters of ten vultures in the park behind our house after a summer weekend. And it looks like it backs up against a large Florida prairie which is not overrun by vultures. (I guess it must be a golf course.)
But this quote is amazing:
Down the street, neighbor Cheryl Katz says she has it worse, because she lives next to the lady who feeds the birds.
In May, 20 vultures tore into Katz' pool enclosure, couldn't figure out how to get out and attacked each other in a panicked frenzy.
"Imagine 20 large vultures trapped, biting each other - and they can bite through bones," she said. "They would bang against my windows running away from a bird that was attacking them. Blood was everywhere. It was a vile, vicious, traumatic event. And it was Memorial Day, so no company I called would come out to help me."
3. It's still delightfully jaw-dropping that someone is intentionally feeding vultures in a wealthy neighborhood.
4. What's the best value of all your journalistic subscriptions?
5. Omg, and from this other link:
Casimano has had to get creative to try to keep his property vulture-free. He attached helium balloons to his screen, and he plays music all day long. However, his attempts have had mixed result.
"I have a 2-year-old daughter that I can't bring down there while this situation is happening," he told WPBF. "They'll probably attack her."
The Casimanos are staying in New York until the vulture problem is resolved.
How would the helium balloons help?
Why would scavengers attack a two year old?
The Casimanos appear to own the home in the photos in the link above, which are the only photos in any article. This whole thing is seeming fishier and fishier. If this is such a nuisance, there should be tons of photos. I'm calling shenanigans.
6. Omg omg. I can't stop tacking on quotes from different articles. From a delightfully headlined "Florida vacation home invaded by vomiting vultures":
People have suggested scaring the vultures off with fireworks or balloons, Katz said. The newspaper quoted an expert as saying that killing a vulture, having it stuffed and hanging it in a prominent place would work because vultures avoid their own dead. But Katz said she found out from the U.S. Wildlife Service that it is hard to get a federal permit to kill the protected bird.
Katz said she even tried putting out four fake owls that have moving heads and blinking lights.
"The vultures chewed the owls apart," she said. "They ripped the heads off."
There is no way this is what happened without photo evidence. I stand by my take that the Casimanos and the Katzes are two rich hyperventilating pains in the ass who have mostly invented this wholesale.
Unsurprising but still, using Alexa as a witness in murder cases.
I realize that this is dystopian-levels of loss of privacy, but given that that intrusion exists whether or not it's used to hold murderers accountable, I suppose I'm in favor of letting Alexa testify about what she heard. I don't really understand law - are there existing laws that apply? Is this an area that needs legal clarification?
How does the disregard for privacy laws now compare to post-911, when virtually all protections went out the window but surveillance wasn't as widespread?
(I realize I'm being glib by calling Alexa a witness who has to testify, you utterly literal bug.)
Mossy Character sends along this link. Ootsey cutesy puppy-doodles.
"The old rancher stigma is that if you show a litter of puppies any affection when they are born and as they are being raised, then they won't perform and do their job," Cory said. "They would rather hang around the house or find an empathetic owner somewhere. (The old ranchers) actually believe that it ruins the dogs. But as a kid, I wouldn't listen to them. They would bark at me not to touch the dogs, but I would do it anyway. I found those dogs did just fine. I thought my grandparents were full of malarkey."
Contrary to what Dixon said, ranchers never intentionally abandon a sheepdog, Cory said. But because the norm has been to raise the dogs with minimal human interaction, even ranchers who do locate lost sheepdogs have difficulty corralling them because the canines don't trust people.
An increase in housing developments in what has been rural farmland for decades in Idaho has only exacerbated the issue of sheepdogs losing their way, Cory said.
"When they are so wild, you can't corral a dog that is emaciated, needs a rabies shot or needs medical attention for an injury," he added. "When they are left behind you need to be able to catch them. That is the trouble with what we are seeing around populated areas. The dogs get distracted, intimidated or confused by traffic or development that seems to be happening more and more. These dogs end up leapfrogging a lot more ground and mileage to get to the sheep. If they don't have that strong herding instinct they may get left behind. Others might get left if they have been up all night intimidated by predators and fall asleep during the day unaware that the (herd) is moving on. That is how you end up with lost dogs."
It occurs to me that we're two months from a new decade. Teens: worse than the Aughts? I think so, but maybe that's just the proximity to the worst parts of this decade.
Here's a bunch of data on global conflicts since the dawn of time. It didn't really jump out at me whether the Aughts or Teens were better or worse.
Climate change is worse, insofar as we could have spent the Teens doing something productive, just like we could have spent the Aughts (or the 90s for that matter) addressing it. I give us a 30% chance of implementing any sort of large scale collective action attempt in the coming decade, and I give it a 2% chance of making any sort of difference.
I vaguely thought about finding links on poverty and disease over time, and decided to let it go. All it will show is that the Teens were inextricably the sequel to the Aughts. Better to debate whether pop music and fashion have improved.
LW writes: One of the persistent libertarian fantasies is of free markets replacing government functions. That's happening now with commercial disputes, no longer settled in the courts. Not working out so well.
(Sketchy landlords post stock photos then redirect hapless travelers to dumps, game the low-rent Airbnb system with retaliatory bad reviews and multiple identities to keep going. Looks like the villain here, SG, has recently bought an apartment building in Chicago, yay cheap credit.)
I do not have the link handy, but there are a host of issues with Amazon sellers, from theft of Amazon shopfronts to sale of counterfeit/invalid goods. I'm afraid I don't have links for either of those handy though.
Heebie's take: I know this came up in the comments, and the Amazon link was provided, but I'm pinched for time at the moment, so I'll let you guys re-link. I still thought this was worth posting.