Tuesday, September 27, 2005

laugh or cry?

Naturally, Mike Brown first blames the liberal media for his failure to cope with the Katrina disaster. "I should have scheduled regular meetings with the press," he says. This is actually correct. By asking why he hadn't done this or that, the reporters would have explained his job to him, given him some direction.

And he blames the governor and the mayor. He should have taken manly charge of the situation (!) and forced those hysterical officials to help him figure out what to do.

Then he lies about what he knew. Well, perhaps he's not lying. Given his competence level, it's more likely he received this information and spent the next 24 or 48 hours musing over what he was supposed to do about it.

My, oh my.

Thank the deities he got blasted from both right and left. One wonders if he will ever admit his lack of qualifications.

Monday, September 26, 2005

a jack a week, that's all we ask

The flying was stupendous this weekend because the wind went down and stayed down for days. Three calm days and we flew two of them, and yet nothing got caught! It happens. Today we went out, mild 6-8 mph wind, occasional gusts up to 20-25. (I'm really starting to rely on the online weather to figure out when to go. There's usually a 5-8 mph difference between where I live and where I hawk.)

It was calm when we started and steadily picked up as the hour went on. The birds passed up two excellent flushes, giving a good start but giving up quickly. It took about 45 minutes to get those two flushes. We took a little break and started up again. Now both birds took excellent positions on poles overlooking one of the sections, and I began flushing in earnest, asking the deities for a good flush.

The deities answered. Polya, as usual, was on it and all locked up by the time I arrived ten seconds later. Squeaky, as usual, stepped in at the last minute. Polya was extra-possessive and wouldn't let go despite the tempting bloody chunk I offered. By the time he released it, the jack was in shock, and I stuffed it, hoping it would be out of shock by the time I got to the car. (Jackrabbits are surprisingly durable, as wild animals go.) The birds munched happily on dinner while I snapped them to their perches.

The jack, however, was still in shock, which was a bummer. Polya had drilled quite thoroughly into it, which I hadn't seen in the chaos of trying to get him to release. So I had to put that one down as well. :-(

Next one I'll try to do better. It's pretty difficult when Polya gets possessive, his feet turn into solid steel and he has to really concentrate to unlock them. I think next time when Squeaks steps off, I'll move Polya and rabbit a distance away. That way he'll feel less competitive pressue, which may assuage the possessiveness.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

and so it begins

That first catch of the season always reminds me how much I love falconry. It's late (for me), I've been lazy, and the wind has been at a seemingly constant 15mph with gusts to 25. Ten to twelve the birds can handle, but higher makes accuracy harder. Wind teaches hawks control, so it's good, but physics is hard to overcome.

Yesterday, the wind was about 18 or so. Both birds went up to poles but came down for various reasons. There were also two Englishmen walking their dogs in the field, and the mate chatted them up while I wooed Polya away from them. Squeaky flew for pleasure and landed in a space separated from me by a levee.

So Polya was right with me on the fist. The English guys were now heading back the way they came, passing about 40 yards behind me. That was far enough for Polya to ignore them. I quartered through knee-high brush, knowing that in wind like this the jackrabbits tuck themselves into the thicker stuff.

Then one rabbit blasted out only 2 yards away. The foot-flush is always a joy when your bird is ready to react, as Polya was. We were coming from upwind, so the rabbit had to run downwind, and by darting left I cut off the option of turning upwind. Polya had it within 4 yards, locked up nicely.

I like to give a good feed at the start of the season, so I killed the rabbit. Squeaky came trotting up hesitantly. Harris hawks don't blush, but he knew quite well he didn't deserve any credit. When he tried to put a foot on the rabbit I pushed him away, tossed him a quail wing to keep him busy.

Polya glanced at Squeaky eating with automatic interest and jealousy at the ready, then looked down at the bleeding jack at his feet, and ignored Squeaks from then on. His thoughts were completely transparent. I dismembered a leg for each. Polya transferred from the body to the leg with complete grace, for once. We were all completely graceful, for once: everything went with ease. Squeaky eventually got his jack leg and we all went home happy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

brown drowns, chertoff floats, everyone loses

So much of the anger has been focused on Mike Brown that I was surprised to hear that Chertoff is the one who dropped the ball. Apparently, there were decision-making powers that Chertoff could have given Brown, but did not for three crucial days.

This past week has given rise to some odd thoughts:
  • Brown was the fall guy to protect Chertoff.

  • One wonders if Brown is regularly using heroin, or if he really thinks that "I don't know why I'm being recalled to Washington" is a good response to reporters. Then again, he hasn't exactly built his five-minute reputation on good response.

  • Isn't Dick Cheney the very picture of a Borg? Not in the physical sense, as Borgs are invariably portrayed as slim, fit, and sexy, but in the crushing assimilation sense. Halliburton Dreaming...


One also wonders just how insane bipartisanship can get. As stated earlier, it seems like Democratic complaint automatically causes Republican contrariness. The more the Dems hate something, the deeper Shrub digs in his heels.

To be fair, Democrats are equally guilty of bipartisanship, and they hate Republicans more deeply than Reps hate Dems. But they can't agree among themselves enough to come up with a better solution. They forget that the rich have money, and know how to put it to good use (except Miss Hilton).

Yesterday, someone suggested to me that the Shrub blindfolding machine is beginning to fall apart, and that this country may enter a period of increasing violence as it did in the late sixties and early seventies. Impossible prices at the pump, being mortgaged to the hilt and having five-figure debt, recession constantly being artificially held at bay, job loss due to outsourcing -- these tensions are too great and affect too many people. They will come out somewhere, somehow.

But I'm skeptical that violence will match that of the sixties. Back then, the disparity between belief in America and the reality of America was a deep shock. These days, few people believe in America's greatness. We've all grown cynical. Our gas consumption rose in the past year, even as the prices were climbing. We sighed, bore with it, and kept buying Hummers and other four-wheel-drive vehicles that will never see a dirt road. Our pocketbooks will suffer. we'll expend our energies teaching kids that playing cowboys and indians is bad, and you have a 21st-century fall of Rome.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

a prediction on katrina's aftermath

New Orleans floods and Katrina finishes Monday. By Thursday, an NPR interview with Michael Chertoff shows he has no clue that there are thousands of people in the convention center with no food or water. He keeps glossing over and talking about the Superdome instead. See also here...

Mike Brown, chief of FEMA, says that if people die, it's their own fault.

The Coast Guard offers diesel fuel. Other people offer generators. Louisiana hunters and guides offer their boats and themselves to search for trapped people.

FEMA refused all these offers because FEMA's supposed to be in charge.

By the way, Brown's previous career involved being kicked out of an association of Arabian horse breeders. He happened to be someone's college roommate, and that's how he got to lead FEMA.

Due to all this, Democrats are now calling for Mike Brown's removal. Actually, everyone's angry, but when Democrats are among the complainers, you can be sure that certain Republicans will spring to the defense of their man, no matter how incompetent or how reality-impaired he is. And they will complain vituperatively about how the left ruins everything the right does.

Because Democrats are complaining, I predict that Bush is going to give a medal and congratulations to Brown and Chertoff for their stellar performance in the face of great challenge.