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Berkeley

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Commuting – and Evolving – Together.

“As many as 35,000 stray dogs live in Russia’s capital city…Taking the subway is just one of many tactics the strays have come up with for surviving in the manmade wilderness around them. ‘The street is tough and it’s survival of the fittest,’ says Poyarkov. ‘These clever dogs know people much better than people know them.'”

ABC News takes a gander at the subway dogs of Moscow, who, for reasons of survival, seem to have figured out the system better than most tourists. “Moscow’s strays have also been observed obeying traffic lights, says Vereshchagin…Sometimes a pack will send out a smaller, cuter member apparently realizing it will be more successful at begging than its bigger, less attractive counterparts.”

In very related news, a new study finds that, since domestication many moons ago, dogs and humans have been evolving along parallel lines. “The study shows that dogs split from gray wolves about 32,000 years ago, and that since then, domestic dogs’ brains and digestive organs have evolved in ways very similar to the brains and organs of humans…They found both species underwent similar changes in genes responsible for digestion and metabolism, such as genes that code for cholesterol transport.” This must be the reason Berk loves him some gummi candy.

Happy Berk Mitzvah.


Berkeley, GitM’s resident Sheltie-American sidekick and ombudsdog, is thirteen today. [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.5.] In lieu of pictures, I took this video over the weekend with my phone. Not all that interesting, but it does capture the circling, random barking, and street watching that comprises much of the old man’s day. Happy b-day, little fella.

The Hound Abides.

Since it’s been awhile, some gratuitous dogblogging of the old man in his natural habitat. For all the ways this year has sucked, I’m deeply thankful that the early-year health hiccups are past, and Berk’s still got his puppy energy and general joie de vivre. Shine on you crazy diamond.

Attack of the Furry Stomach.


‘Quite frankly, his behavior is abhorrent,’ said Gardner, who emphasized that Digby does nothing to provide for the Chambers family, subsisting entirely on free handouts. ‘This asshole’s chowing down like he’s in a pie-eating contest. Meanwhile, the nation’s credit rating has been downgraded for the first time in history, and everyone’s fucking job is moving overseas. And he does know we’re fighting a war, too, right? Unbelievable.’

My favorite Onion piece in a few moons: Pet Eating Like Country Isn’t In Goddamn Recession. “According to reports, the 5-year-old labrador appears callously unswayed by the constant stream of gloomy market forecasts and instead demands greater and greater supplies of dog food, to the point where he must think the Dow Jones industrial average is soaring through the fucking roof or something.

The Ghost Rises?

Actually, no, not yet. But I wanted to quickly explain the reason for the retro-look around here, and since tonight is also the movie event of the summer, it seemed like a good time for a brief update regardless. (All apologies to The Avengers, of course. If it’s any consolation to Whedon’s fine film, the “movie event of the year” will be The Hobbit in December. And at least you were great fun and not a half-assed disappointment like Prometheus.)

Anyway, life continues much as it has this past age. I work, Berk — fully recovered, minus one toe — barks at things. We’re leading a pretty solitary existence these days — hello, 2007 again — and it has its depressing moments, to be sure. But we’re getting by.

The good news is, and the reason why I won’t be returning to GitM for now, is that I’ve spent pretty much all my free time these past few months cracking out my long-neglected dissertation. At this point, I’ve got ten chapters and 800 pages written, which, I’ve been informed, is more than enough to defend for the degree. (I defend this fall.) But since I’ve finally come this far, I want to push through until I complete the project in its intended scope — which means four more chapters and, assuming a productive August recess, probably at least two-to-three more months of working evenings and weekends to go. When that’s finally done, I’ll be more inclined to reconnect with the world at large and take up the Ghost once more.

(And, yes, I know that nobody wants to read 800+ pages on progressives in the Twenties, or for that matter, 800+ pages on anything. I also know that all the time I’ve spent on this would probably have been better served just writing bondage-y Twilight fan fiction. Oh well.)

The bad news is, along with a gunfight breaking out above my head last weekend, the forces of entropy have conspired to infect the old blog here with some sort of google-hit-stealing malware. This has made the Google wrathful, and it has banished this poor, lowly Ghost to the unclicked shadowlands with the other leprous websites. It’s my fault — MT was way out-of-date. I was going to have it updated this past winter, along with a general overhaul of the look of the site. But the old blog-“friend” I hired to do the job took my money and then disappeared with it. (That turned out to be the opening salvo of the frozen-run-of-luck that precipitated this whole “interregnum of despair” around here.)

Anyway, in order to root out the infection, I’ve upgraded to MT 5, rolled back to the default templates, and rebuilt the site — Hopefully this finally does the trick and Google takes us back. If it does, and when I have the time, I’ll work on gradually fixing up the look of the Ghost again. (That is, presuming I learn to master all the intricacies of the non-coder-unfriendly new Movable Type. (Zemanta? What the?)) Until then, thanks for the patience and understanding, have fun in Gotham this weekend, and thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Update: Still on the wrong side of Google, and running out of ideas at this point. And my host — the once reliable Cornerhost — appears to have fallen off the Earth. So I guess, first things first, I’ll have to move everything to a more reliable host. If anyone has any keen infection-fighting ideas, please do pass them along. Otherwise, I’ll see ya when I have time to sort all this out.

On Walkabout.


Hey all. I know it’s been quiet ’round these parts — sorry about that. It’s been a tough year so far. Berk has had to deal with a nasty dog bite back in February and, now, what looks to be cancer. (He’s getting his toe amputated tomorrow — Hopefully, that’ll contain the bug.) Also in February, I had an 18-month romance implode rather disastrously. I thought we’d be going the distance…but, before disappearing, the ex made sure to convey she never actually took the relationship seriously in the first place. Er…good to know. (Yes, I know this sort of thing has happened to me before. What can I say? Either I’m too sensitive, or else I’m getting soft.)

Anyway, the upshot is there’s not much joy in Mudville these days, and I’m just not feeling very inclined to post here. I can’t really talk about politics because (1) it interferes with my current employ and (2) when you get right down to it, I find it hard to take presidential politics seriously as a vehicle for (hope-and-)change these days (although I’m sure it’s a great way to get your name on a NASCAR car.) I can’t really talk about personal matters because that’s just plain unsightly, and the Internet really doesn’t need any more TMI kvetching about first world problems. Nor, quite frankly, does it need to know what I thought of 21 Jump Street and Mass Effect 3 and the new Prometheus viral campaign and the like.

I’m not saying the Ghost is dead and buried, but I don’t see it coming back online regularly anytime soon: With the exception of the occasional comment-spam clear, the old hound and I are on walkabout for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the archives are here and here, and all the old movie reviews are here. If you’ve been swinging by the site at any time for the past 12+ years, apologies for the service outage and thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Update: Thanks for all the well-wishes in the comments. As a follow-up, Berk has lost the toe, but the offending infection has, per the lab report, been “completely excised.” Meanwhile, after several weeks in the cone, the old hound is back to moving around normally and otherwise seems in good health. Squirrels and skateboarders, beware.

At Eleven, Still a Workin’ Dog.




A dogblogging aside; Berkeley, GitM’s longtime resident ombudsheltie, is eleven years old this morning. [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.] As you can see from the pics, he’s celebrating the day by hanging around the office. (Hey, it’s tough out there for an old dog — It was either this or greeting at Wal-Mart.) Happy b-day, little buddy.




We’ll see how smart you are when the K-9 comes…


Chaser proved to be a diligent student. Unlike human children, she seems to love her drills and tests and is always asking for more. ‘She still demands four to five hours a day,” Dr. Pilley said. “I’m 82, and I have to go to bed to get away from her.‘”

The NYT tells the tale of Chaser, a border collie with a vocabulary of over 1000 words now. “Dr. Pilley said that most border collies, with special training, ‘could be pretty close to where Chaser is.’…Dr. Horowitz agreed: ‘It is not necessarily Chaser or Rico who is exceptional; it is the attention that is lavished on them,” she said.’” (Sorry, Berk…At least I taught you bacon and tacos — you know, the important stuff.)

AT-ATta Boy!

General Veers, prepare your troops for a surface…trip to the dog park. In case you missed this in the Twitter feed, the All-Terrain Armored Transport finally gets a day in the sun in a well-constructed short, AT-AT Day Afternoon. I get the sense Berk would prefer this companion to the old, now-defunct apartment droid.

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