The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

If you love dogs, get a mutt

Cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz, author of the excellent book on dog psychology Inside of a Dog, explains how breeding dogs for specific characteristics inflicts pain and suffering on the results due to generations of inbreeding:

Breeders are not typically mating siblings, though it is not prohibited by the American Kennel Club and is not unheard of. Any mating within a closed gene pool of candidates will do, as far as breeders are concerned. But according to research published by a team from the University of California, Davis, and Wisdom Health Genetics in Finland, purebred dogs have, on average, a “coefficient of inbreeding” of 0.25, the same number you get when two siblings have a child. This number indicates the probability that two individuals will share two alleles from a common ancestor, like a parent or grandparent. And this number — 0.25 — is a problem.

The results of pure-breeding, on display starting this Saturday at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York, are profound. The radical morphological diversity of dog breeds today — from four-pound Malteses, white-haired and small-faced, to 170-pound Great Danes, large of body and of presence — is due to selective breeding.

So, too, are the consequences: the occurrence of several hundred health disorders related to genetics or to adherence to the standards set by breed groups that have emerged since dog pure-breeding took off in the 19th century. These include changes to anatomy so drastic that they affect reproduction (the bulldog’s head is so big that the overwhelming majority cannot be birthed naturally), respiration (the pug’s small skull leads to a constellation of abnormalities that make breathing difficult) and recreation (the German shepherd and other large-breed dogs are prone to debilitating hip dysplasia).

Right now, the American Kennel Club has no constraints on inbreeding (even as it encourages breeders to remember that “crippling or fatal” hereditary diseases may result). But I am not counting on the American Kennel Club. Instead, we could make outcrosses — the introduction of different genetic material to breeds — the norm.

Or we could, you know, just stop breeding dogs, and let them make their own offspring however they will. With millions of healthy but unwanted puppies in the world, and millions of purebred dogs suffering with genetic diseases brought on by generations of inbreeding, just adopt a mutt. Everyone wins.

The chorus season is mostly over

After a week of rehearsals capped by two performances of some really challenging works by French and Swiss composers, I finally got a full 8½ hours of sleep last night. What a difference. Not just the needed rest, but also having a much smaller inbox (just one task for the chorus left until next week) and less to worry about.

Until I open a newspaper, of course:

  • The head of the political arm of Hamas, the terrorist group and de jure governing party in Gaza which has called for the annihilation of all Jews, claims to have accepted cease-fire terms that would avoid an Israeli invasion of Rafah, but Israel disputes this.
  • Six months out from the election, Walter Shapiro looks at President Biden's approval ratings and concludes they probably don't matter.
  • UMass Amherst professor Ethan Zuckerman has sued Facebook over a provision of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (47 USC 230) that could allow people to use third-party tools to block their social media. Zuckerman explains the suit in layman's terms in the Times.

Finally, a new bar claiming to be Chicago's first with an indoor dog park got a special-use permit, enabling them to open sometime this fall. B-A-R (as in, "who wants to go to the B-A-R?") still needs a liquor license, and will charge $25 per day or $50 per month per dog. I just passed by the site on Saturday, so I will note that it's directly across the street from some of Chicago's best thin-crust pizza. But $25 just to visit? Hm. The do know they're only a kilometer from a dog park, right?

When opponents become cartoon villains

If South Dakota governor and unapologetic puppy-killer Kristi Noem (R, obviously) becomes the XPOTUS's running mate this year, the GOP will have outdone its own Doctor Evil mindset. And yet, that is not the worst thing happening in the world today:

  • A California judge has ruled a recent state law requiring municipalities to undo discriminatory zoning laws unconstitutional, though it's not clear how long that ruling will stand.
  • Do you own a GM car made in this decade? It may be spying on you, and sharing your driving history with your insurance company without your consent.
  • After a non-profit group suggested merging the CTA, Metra, and Pace, the Illinois House has started the legislative process to do just that.
  • Ezra Klein takes us through the history of the infamous Noe Valley public toilet in San Francisco, which took years to get through the planning process, increasing its cost at every step.
  • Remember: public policy led to the proliferation of trucks masquerading as cars that endanger pedestrians, pollute neighborhoods, and generally look ugly.

Finally, Josh Marshall points out that while he (and I) support the basic aim of student protests against the Gaza war—Israel must stop killing people in Gaza—we do not support the groups organizing those protests at Columbia and other universities, almost all of which call for the destruction of the Jewish state. I'm also somewhat anxious about the normal propensity of young people to demand easy answers to complex questions becoming a democracy-ending problem later this year. I mean, if you think students are always on the right side of history, I need to direct your attention to China in 1966 and one or two other examples. Children don't do nuance.

Coding continues apace

I'm almost done with the new feature I mentioned yesterday (day job, unfortunately, so I can't describe it further), so while the build is running, I'm queuing these up:

All right! The build pipelines have completed successfully, so I will now log off my work laptop and order a pizza.

Cassie had a good day

What a lucky dog. For her Gotcha Day, after she got a ride in the car to the grocery store (always fun!), she got some grilled chicken from my salad and some belly rubs. She had no idea that I got a lot of grilled chicken, but that's for later.

We then walked 5 km to Horner Park DFA, where she got half an hour of off-leash time:

Another 5 km walk took us to Spiteful Brewing, where she found a 15-centimeter bully stick that some other dog had apparently lost:

Altogether she got almost 3 hours of walks, the previously-mentioned grilled chicken for dinner, lots of pats, belly rubs, and new friends at the dog park and at Spiteful. She is now passed out on the couch, dreaming of unexpected bully sticks.

Easy connection in Charlotte

My flight from Munich landed at Charlotte about 40 minutes early, and I got through customs and back through TSA in 34 minutes. Sweet!

And now I'm watching the plane that will take me to Chicago pull into my gate. Sweet!

Really, I just want to hug my dog and get 10 hours of sleep tonight. I have a feeling one of those things will happen and the other won't.

Vrooooom

Since I learned how to drive a car, I've wanted to pick up a BMW in Munich. The European Delivery program allowed Americans to buy a made-to-order car at their local dealer, pick it up in Munich, drive it around Europe for up to 6 months, drop it off at an Atlantic port (Antwerp, I think), and drive it home from your local dealer about 12 weeks after that. Because of tax incentives from the German government and other factors, the purchase price of the car and delivery to your local dealer cost almost exactly what it would cost without picking it up here.

Sadly, it appears that program has ended, in part because of the pandemic, but also because BMW now builds most of its North American cars in North America. You can always go to Spartanburg, S.C., I suppose, but that isn't quite the same thing.

If I ever get a huge bonus or win the lottery, I'd buy a BMW anyway; specifically, the 330eX, their 4-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid. I'm sure my Prius Prime gets much better efficiency (and costs about half what the 330eX would), but having owned two BMWs before, I can assure you a BMW is much more fun to drive.

So with no way to buy a BMW this weekend, I at least got to the source:

And continuing a theme of this weekend, I got there on a fast, quiet, modern subway train:

Unrelated to anything transportation-related, I have an update on Cassie and her friend Butters from the latter's humans. Both girls like food:

And they both like naps:

Now that I've had a quick lunch of Schweinswurst, Käse, Oliven, und ein Shoko-croissant, I am going to take a walk through the Isarvorstadt neighborhood just to my southwest.

Updates, on dogs, trains, and walks, as conditions warrant.

Just have to pack

The weather forecast for Munich doesn't look horrible, but doesn't look all that great either, at least until Saturday. So I'll probably do more indoorsy things Thursday and Friday, though I have tentatively decided to visit Dachau on Thursday, rain or not. You know, to start my trip in such a way that nothing else could possibly be worse.

Meanwhile, I've added these to yesterday's crop of stories to read at the airport:

Finally, don't skip your dog's walks. They're very important to her health.

Houseguest leaving today

Dogs adapt very quickly to new environments when they're comfortable, as Cassie and Butters have done these past few days. Butters has appropriated both of Cassie's beds just as Cassie appropriated my couches:

My lungs have also gotten mostly back to normal, meaning I don't need any more Delsym, meaning no more mild cognitive side-effects. In other words, my upcoming week could be completely back to normal. Hosting Butters has been fun; 16 days of bronchitis have not.