Mountain Lion Hunting: Who’s the [Kitty] Here?

Let’s start with a few facts.  I’m from the rural south.  I love to hunt, mostly birds, and I eat what I kill.  In fact, I don’t duck hunt much because I don’t like the way ducks taste.  I shoot skeet or sporting clays every chance I get.  I drive a pickup truck.  I have a beard, etc.  So even though I’d probably disagree with the typical good ol’ boy on a lot of social and political issues, I’ve been mistaken for a good ol’ boy more than a few times.  I am not some animal rights extremist.  I have crapped all over PETA here and on Twitter for years for being so absurdly extremist that it has completely lost the power to convince.

Oh, and one last fact: the next to last fistfight I got in was after I called some guy a [synonym for kitty] for going to Africa and shooting lions and elephants and whatnot.  It was a long time ago after a few beers and one too many great white hunter story.  I proved to be a little tougher adversary than some oblivious lion a hundred or so yards away.

image So, while I generally identify with the hunter/camper/outdoorsman culture, I draw a very bright line between those animals that are OK to hunt and those that are not.  Dove, ducks and deer are one one side of that line.  Lions, elephants and bears are on the other.  So it really bummed me out today when I saw some dude on a hunting blog I read proudly retelling how some other dudes killed a mountain lion in central Texas.  If I saw a mountain lion that wasn’t about to eat me or my family, I would be really excited.  Honored, actually.  What I wouldn’t be is inclined to shoot it.

I understand the argument that mountain lions adversely affect the deer population. Well, guess what- so do humans, and I imagine there are a lot more humans out there killing deer than there are mountain lions.  I love deer meat and eat it all the time, but I certainly wouldn’t kill a mountain lion just to ensure a few more pounds of deer sausage in my refrigerator.  And let’s not overlook the fact that the only reason most of these folks want to keep the deer from being killed by a mountain lion is so they can kill them themselves.

I have heard- and rejected- the argument that mountain lions are dangerous.  The fact is that mountain lion attacks are rare.  Dogs kill far more people annually than mountain lions do in a century.

And I understand, even if I don’t completely believe, the argument that the mountain lion population is growing, with the decline of pesticides and goat and sheep farming.  What I also understand is that in Texas mountain lions are not classified as a game animal, which means anyone can kill as many of them as they can find, any time and without limit.  That’s messed up.  There are only 30,000 mountain lions in the western United States.  There are 30 million deer in the United States, with deer population control becoming a major concern in numerous states.  So I’m not buying the argument that there aren’t enough deer to feed a few mountain lions.

So unless there is evidence that this mountain lion was an immediate danger to persons or expensive property and could not be trapped and relocated despite diligent attempts to do so, those dudes should have let that cat go.

If you are interested in learning about mountain lions- as opposed to just killing them, here’s an informative article on their population, age distribution and mortality rates.

AP to Make it Even Harder to Read Traditional News

PC World reports that the Associated Press plans to take legal action against web portals and other web sites that use its content without paying for a license.  Taking a page from the record labels, the AP blames “news theft” for some of the news industry’s recent difficulties.

But here’s the thing: if it wasn’t for sites like Google News and Yahoo pointing to specific stories of interest on newspaper web sites, tons and tons of people would never see them.  Does anyone actually click through a newspaper’s web site looking for news anymore?  It seems to me that an argument could be made that the portals ought to be charging the newspapers for sending traffic to the newspaper, not the other way around.

Take Google News, for example.

I count 3 links to newspapers, 1 each to Reuters and the AP and one to ABC news.  Maybe I’m missing something, but how is it hurting those news organizations to be at the top of the Google News page?

The question, of course, is what constitutes “news theft.”  If we’re talking about the full or substantial reproduction of an article, OK.  But I suspect the AP will try to draw the battle lines at something less than that.  Are they saying links with headlines are impermissible?  So far, it’s not exactly clear what they are saying.  PaidContent has a brief interview with the AP’s commander in chief, which sheds no real light on what the AP really wants.  At the moment it seems they are developing “rules of engagement.”  It could be these rules have something to do with the pending expiration of the AP’s existing deal with Google.

And if the issue is search results, how exactly are we supposed to find news stories on topics we’re interested in?  Surf from news site to news site and read thousands of headlines to find the 10 articles we actually want to read?  Obviously, that’s not going to happen.  And this is good for advertisers how?

Warner Crocker calls it like he sees it, saying the news organizations have:

thrown down gauntlets and are gearing up the legal rhetoric in what appears to be a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding that is going on in the news industry. In reality it will stir up a lot of fuss . . . and eventually prove to be last big noise before the big flame out that scorches the paper some of their products are printed on.

TechCrunch draws the obvious comparison:

The AP, it appears, wants to become the RIAA of the flailing newspaper industry-ferreting out information pirates and threatening lawsuits if they don’t turn over some of their Google gold.

Perhaps I am missing something, but it looks to me like the AP wants its readers to find their way along the information superhighway without a map and without exit signs.  I don’t see how that’s good for anyone.

Losing on the Field, Old Media Tries to Change the Rules

Everybody agrees that it’s best to win the game on the field.  But for some teams, that plan just doesn’t work out.

Take old media, for example.

For years and years, links have, for lack of a better objective measure, been the de facto measuring stick for online content.  Inbound links have played a major role in search engine results.  More links result in a higher the placement on search result pages.  It’s not a perfect system, but it’s all we have.  And there are no built in advantages that favor one content producer over another.

But now some old media want to change the game.  They think their content should be favored over blog content.  Ignoring for a moment the very important fact that the distinction between blogs and other content platforms has largely disappeared over the past few years, this is one of the most ludicrous things I’ve read in months.

For starters, isn’t it odd that big, resourceful, rich old media is asking for a handicap when playing an online scramble against what old media has long viewed as amateur publications?  Isn’t this like Michael Jordan asking to start with 10 in a game to 21?  Or like the New York Times asking that a high school newspaper be printed with invisible ink?  I mean, come on!

Just because what started out as weblogs and evolved into a new form of media- a form which, interestingly, has been appropriated by lots of old media- is beating some old media publications at their own game is no basis for a rule change.  This smacks of the same logic vacuum evidenced by the record labels when, after realizing they couldn’t monopolize it, they tried to kill digital music distribution.

The fact that old media shot itself in the foot by electing to give away- and thereby devalue- its product is a little sad.  Maybe it would make a nice movie on the Lifetime Channel.  But in no way, shape or form should Google or anyone else rewrite the rules to favor those who don’t want to compete on the merits.

Sure, search results aren’t always perfect.  But anyone who uses Google or any other search engine more than infrequently knows how to instantly zoom past the static and zero in on the best results.  The fact that I and many others look for the Wikipedia link says tons about who does and does not get the web.

But there is a lurking point to be made by old media.

What is slightly less absurd and much more interesting is the effect of republishing or discussing content, even with attribution.  Here’s what I mean by that.  Despite his social media-frenzy-induced abandonment of his blog for the so called social networks, Steve Rubel still has a lot of readers.   I saw the link above in my feed reader this evening, and first read about this issue on Steve’s blog.  Nat Ives wrote the original story at AdvertisingAge.  Through Steve’s link, I ultimately made my way to Nat’s story (see link above).  But many people will probably first see the story at and link to Steve’s post.  If Steve gets more links to his post discussing Nat’s post, who deserves the most Google juice?  If I understand the argument, old media is saying the publication that wrote the original story, in this case AdvertisingAge, should get the most Google juice.

Nice idea in theory.  But there’s no algorithm in the world that can effectively parse where an idea started.  And let’s be real for a moment- the AdvertisingAge piece didn’t create the issue.  It merely reported what was said by other people at other places.  It’s not like every news piece is a novel.

Old media needs to worry about winning on the existing field and by the current rules.  Not trying to create an artificially uneven field and a new set of self-serving rules.

Jamming Those Pesky Cell Phones

At lunch today, there was a very popular lady sitting at the next table. I know she is popular because her cell phone rang about every 3 minutes. She’s also deaf. I know that because every time it rang, the rest of us dove under our tables, mistaking her insanely loud cell phone ring for a civil defense warning.

While I was irritated that this lady couldn’t turn her phone off or put it in silent mode for the 45 minutes it took her to eat lunch, I can’t support any effort to ban or jam cell phones.

Why? Because I am a parent. And because any legislation would likely substitute one problem for another. And because the restaurant and movie industries, which are desperately trying to draw customers to restaurants and theaters, probably wouldn’t enforce the law anyway.

Yes, it aggravates me when somebody’s cell phone rings off the imaginary hook at a restaurant or a movie. And yes, there are a lot of people who think (or more likely want us to think) they’re too crucial to the wheels of commerce to be off the grid for a hour (most of them like to wear sunglasses inside too). But notwithstanding those inconsiderate and insecure folks, there is a legitimate need to be reachable when you’re out at dinner and a movie.

Rather than ban or jam cell phones, establishments should develop and publish cell phone policies. The easy one is to require that all cell phones be put on silent mode during a movie and that anyone who wants to take a call must first go to the lobby. If someone really needs to tell someone something in the middle of a movie, send them a text message that does not disturb others.

If someone needs to talk to me, I want them to be able to reach me. It’s up to me, and every other right thinking person, to decide who really needs to talk to me now or who can wait an hour or two. And it’s up to me to take calls I need to take in a way that doesn’t disturb the people in the next row or at the next table.

The way to get there is via uniformly enforced cell phone policies and societal pressure- not via cell phone jamming and legislation.

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One More Reason Not to Like

What passes for country music these days.

According to Reuters, Troy Gentry, of the country act Montgomery Gentry, has been charged with killing a tame bear named Cubby and then faking a video to make it look like a hunting trophy.

According to Reuters:

“After using a bow and arrow to kill the animal inside its pen, Gentry and the owner of the preserve tagged the bear and registered it with the state as if it had been killed in the wild. A videotape was edited to make it appear that Gentry had hunted down the bear.”

What kind of dude (I’ll resist using the P word) do you have to be to want to shoot a tame, caged bear and dummy up a video to make it look like a hunt?

What’s next, a big game hunting trip to the zoo?

I wonder how many more seconds the “Humane Society Approved” logo will be on the Minnesota Wildlife Connection‘s web site?

I grew up listening to country music, but to my knowledge I have never heard a Montgomery Gentry song. The stuff coming out of Nashville these days sounds more like recycled Dan Fogelberg than Merle Haggard or George Jones.

If he really did this, maybe he’ll have prison in common with Merle Haggard. That would be about it.

Irony

ironyIs when a so-called artist threatens someone with a lawsuit and then calls their employer over the exercise of first amendment rights.

Here’s my thing on this. In my opinion it is wrong to make little children cry and then photograph them for profit, as some sort of alleged protest, or otherwise. I would never let anyone do that to my kids, and I have no respect for anyone who would allow someone to do it to theirs.

In fact, I can’t believe anyone is trying to argue that it’s OK to do that.

This is just my constitutionally protected opinion, but I’m with Thomas on this one.

Only a Fool Would Say That

I knew that, like anyone who ever had to work for a living, I intensely disliked Martha Stewart, but this latest nugget takes the cake. According to Martha, home arrest is worse than federal prision.

This lady, who was already a jillionaire, goes to jail (yes, jail) over a “well timed stock sale” (to quote CNN). She gets out and what does she get? Two new TV shows.

If you wonder why the rest of the world hates America, look no further than the Martha Stewart story.

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