Apr 222014

animalwelfareI’m 43 years old, I’ve lived in Alabama all my life, and I’ve never been hunting.

I’ve been around it, here and there, all my life. I mean, I could effortlessly list 50 people I know who hunt. Seems like I ought to like it, actually. I like guns. I like being in the woods. I’ve certainly eaten my share of venison, and I’ve had a bite or two of duck too.

But my dad and I never went, and I suspect that’s almost necessary for any real affection for it to take root.

He went deer hunting and duck hunting with his father. The only time I can remember asking Dad about it, he said it just wasn’t his thing. He enjoyed being with his dad, but he was ambivalent about the activity itself.

I don’t have any ethical or moral problems with hunting, so long as kills are eaten (or sold for such) and reasonable care is taken to prevent undue suffering. I also think it’s important that it be done in the wild. I think what is commonly known as the “canned hunt,” in which an animal is contained in a confined area and has absolutely no chance of escape, is a pretty awful activity.

I think the hunter should be present, too. There is such a thing as hunting over the web now, with a camera and remote control over (for example) a tripod-mounted firearm. Did you know that? I don’t agree with that at all.

Hunting has consequences, and while I believe it can be qualified as a defensible—even noble—activity, I think the hunter should be there to see, smell, and touch the blood s/he spills. There is basic give and take occurring. You’re taking a sentient life. You owe that animal respect enough to be there to fully own your deed.

What do I mean, “noble”? Well, a capable hunter has a leg up on caring for his/her family should all of the institutions we pretend are indestructible fail. I think any hunter who recognizes and cultivates the value of such is doing a good thing.

No one who eats meat should have any problem with hunting as I have described it above. If you have one, we need to take a field trip to the slaughterhouse.

(And we will, in a future post in this series.)

Now the kind of hunting I find absolutely despicable is straight trophy hunting. (Blogged about that once before, in the context of discovering that a childhood friend was into it.)

Hunting and using the animal for your sustenance is one thing.

Hunting for the sole purpose of stuffing the animal or displaying its hide just to prove you did it is quite another.

The childhood friend I mention above came to my renewed attention when I saw a photograph of him, beaming, hoisting a leopard from which he had just snuffed the life. I saw another photograph of him with the carcass of a zebra. (He called that one “hard-won,” whatever that means.) I saw yet another photograph of him with a dead giraffe sprawled all around him.

Folks, I have a blogging category called Bug Shots. There are some awfully cool arthropods all around us, and I love it when I get a decent photograph of one and can share it. I would never dream of killing any of these creatures. I thank them for the close look—yes, often out loud—and leave them alone.

That is exactly the only way I can ever see “hunting” an animal like a leopard, zebra, or giraffe.

Why? Why?

What is the motivation of someone who takes life just to do it? Why can’t that person put $2000 in a camera instead of a gun? Why can’t a blown-up, high-resolution photograph stand in for a skin as wall adornment?

I said in that post, and I’ll say in this one:  I don’t think I’d ever get all the way over killing a giraffe. I think anyone who can do such a thing and put it to bed in his/her mind is someone I’ll never relate to much.

There are a fair number of people who say we should never take an animal’s life, for any reason. I am not one of them. But I do recognize it as a transaction. There is loss. There must be gain sufficient to offset it. Two weeks’ food qualifies.

A wall decoration doesn’t.

 Posted by at 8:27 pm
Apr 212014

Went to on Saturday and ordered my dad a gift certificate for his birthday. He didn’t get it all weekend. Then, this morning, I received this:

Thank you for shopping at

We’re doing everything we can to make sure your online purchase is secure.

Our order verification procedures occasionally require us to contact a customer at his/her billing phone number before releasing an order. This procedure protects our customers, Newegg, and identity theft victims from debit or credit card fraud. Unfortunately, you were unavailable when we attempted to contact you at your billing phone number: 256-xxx-xxxx.

Please contact us from your billing phone number: 256-xxx-xxxx as soon as possible so that we may confirm your order and release it for shipping. You may call us at 1-800-390-1119, Monday through Saturday 9:00AM – 5:00PM PT.

Please note that the shipment will be delayed unless we receive a prompt response for this order. Your order will be automatically cancelled if verification is not completed within five (5) business days of the original order date.

We greatly apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, and thank you for your patience and understanding.

Now understand I’ve done business with several times before. Furthermore, when I received this, already had the charge pending on my credit card. I replied:

Folks, I will not be required to place a voice call to you in order for you to send my father’s gift certificate to him. I will not do it today or ever.

I do not like the telephone. I particularly do not like being required to use it from my home during hours when I am not normally there.

I see the pending charge on my American Express card, so I know you’re not having a problem with payment. Please send the gift certificate immediately or cancel the order.

Less than an hour later, they replied:

Thank you for contacting Newegg.

I do apologize for the inconvenience. For your protection as a customer of Newegg, our verification department is requiring additional information in which they may need to contact you at the billing phone number provided in your order. Please call customer service between 9:00am to 4:00pm PST Monday through Saturday from your billing telephone number and the verification team will call you back within 2 hours to verify your order.

To which I responded:

As I said, I refuse to use the telephone to complete this transaction. Please cancel the order immediately.

Their reply:

I’d be happy to assist you. Per your request, I have just cancelled this order in our system. You will receive a confirmation email in 10 minutes.

So after they rode their mindless procedure all the way into the ocean, I called them out on Twitter. Then I heard from their Twitter account:

We’re sorry to hear this. We’d like to look into this further for you. Can you email us at

To which I replied:

I will forward you the CS correspondence. I don’t like the telephone, and an online merchant compelling its use loses me.

I forwarded the chain of correspondence. Then I received:

Thank you for contacting Newegg.

I apologize for inconvenience. Unfortunately, we could not open attachment. Can you please kindly resend attachment to me at (redacted)

To which I replied:

The correspondence trail is below. I believe it is between you and I.

Got it? The Twitter person referred me back to the very same guy I’ve been going back and forth with all day long, who then apparently failed to realize that. No further correspondence as of right now.

Online merchants, I don’t want to talk to you on the telephone. Absent a very good reason, I won’t. I’ll just go somewhere else.

 Posted by at 8:45 pm
Apr 202014

paulsWith the release of Paul Stanley’s Face the Music: A Life Exposed two weeks ago, all four original members of Kiss have now written a memoir.

Ace’s and Peter’s both landed within the last year or three. Gene’s came out more than 12 years ago, but he’d write the same book today with just a few different details. So I don’t have a problem considering it a contemporary of the other three.

I was vaguely aware of Ace’s and Peter’s books, though didn’t feel compelled to read them until after I read Paul’s (which I did nearly in one sitting, by the way). I haven’t quite finished Ace’s, though I’m close enough that I’m confident no major surprises await.

Paul Stanley has been a hero of mine for almost my entire life. (I got Destroyer for my fifth birthday.) I like that he’s a working class Queens kid made good. He wrote most of my favorite Kiss songs (the only non-Paul song I count among my very favorites is “Deuce”). He is one of the finest rock ‘n’ roll vocalists ever.

I’ve always related to his Starchild persona. I saw in Paul a guy who reveled in the spotlight—but on his terms. That meant that when the spotlight was off, he didn’t want to be bothered at all, but he was eating it up when it was on.

I had that really wrong. We all did.

bohallowHe explains in Face the Music—sincerely, poignantly, and at length—that the Starchild was born of necessity, as a way he could relate to and interface with the world. Paul is honest and articulate when he shares his deep insecurity with his readers. It is only within the past several years that he’s ever been at peace. Mind, this does not read at all as poor little rich rock star, boo hoo hoo. You get it in your heart. This guy was really hurting for a long, long time.

Of course, the Kiss stories are there too. This is almost certainly the most accurate account of Kisstory of any of the four books. He’s believably settled, so he’s largely without the sorts of passions and/or motivations that could cloud his accounts. (Plus, he’s the only guy who’s been on the ground looking out for the band since its inception.) It’s a lot easier to swallow this than it is Gene’s relentless self-promotion, or Ace’s yeah-probably-but-I-was-so-drunk-who-knows?, or Peter’s spittle-flecked rage.

Mostly I walked away from Face the Music thinking that I’ve been right to think Paul Stanley was special, but wrong in my understanding of why. What I thought was going on with him—what it looked like was going on with him—was almost never accurate. I want to re-explore his entire body of work knowing what I know now. And I shall.

This book is written with considerable care and skill, and “exposed” is an appropriate word to have in the title. There is refreshing vulnerability here from one of the best rock frontmen of all time. This book is a must-read treasure for both Kiss fans and students of the human animal.

Thank you, Paul. Grand slam. Very well done.


 Posted by at 10:55 pm
Apr 202014

The angel said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. – Matthew 28:5-6

I hope this Easter finds your house and heart filled with peace and joy.

 Posted by at 8:40 am
Apr 182014

The eighth and final sinkhole Corvette—the 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06—was recovered last week. (And by “recovered,” I mean they’ve raised something that I’d guess most people would say was once a car.)

Photograph by the National Corvette Museum.

Photograph by the National Corvette Museum.


No attempt should be made to restore this car. A significant percentage of it is flat-out absent, and it’s not at all clear that any of the remaining carcass can be used. How much “restoration” has occurred if they replace 95+% of the car’s materials?

Display it as is indefinitely, or scrap it.

 Posted by at 6:23 pm is using WP-Gravatar