Patterico's Pontifications


Sneak Preview

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:49 pm

I’ve been working on the year-end review and a piece of it got posted accidentally. I’ve deleted it. Sorry for any confusion. If you saw it, consider it a sneak preview.

Chihuahua Helps Collar Suspect

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 7:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Tink is a 3-pound chihuahua mix who acts like a Great Dane:

“A three-pound Chihuahua mix named Tink is being praised for helping police catch a Christmas Day fugitive.

The dog’s adventure began when four suspects who were fleeing police crashed a stolen minivan into a hillside. Auburn homeowner Wendy Anderson says Tink, her son’s dog, found a suspect hiding under a neighbor’s motorhome and chased him into the woods. Her son and husband directed a law enforcement helicopter to where the man was hiding.

Tink is a Pomeranian and Chihuahua mix.

Three suspects are juveniles from the San Francisco Bay Area, the California Highway Patrol says. They crashed the van in the Sierra foothill town east of Sacramento. A passenger, 19-old Marvin Gonzales of San Pablo, was arrested with public intoxication and resisting arrest.”

I almost feel sorry for this suspect. Almost.


San Francisco Zoo Update

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 2:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The director of the SF Zoo admits the wall around the tigers’ den was too low:

“The director of the zoo where a teenager was killed by an escaped Siberian tiger acknowledged today that the wall around the animal’s enclosure was 12 1/2 feet — well below the height recommended by the main accrediting agency for the nation’s zoos. According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the minimum recommended height for tiger exhibit walls is 16.4 feet.

San Francisco Zoo Director Manuel A. Mollinedo said safety inspectors had examined the wall and never raised red flags about its size. “When the AZA came out and inspected our zoo three years ago, they never noted that as a deficiency,” Mollinedo said. “Obviously now that something’s happened, we’re going to be revisiting the actual height.”

On Wednesday, Mollinedo said that the wall was 18 feet high, and that the moat around the tiger’s pen was 20 feet wide. Today, Mollinedo said the moat was 33 feet wide.

Investigators have yet to say how the 300-pound tiger got out of the pen. But based on the initial estimates of the height of the wall, animal experts expressed disbelief that a tiger in captivity could make such a spectatular [sic] leap.

The accrediting association did not immediately return calls for comment today about the height of the wall.”

It’s hard to understand how the Zoo director could claim a 12-1/2 foot wall was 18 feet tall. That’s a significant difference. Coming on the heels of the zookeeper’s injuries last year that were held to be the Zoo’s fault, this is a serious blemish on the Zoo’s management. (Not to mention fodder for a big lawsuit.)

An earlier post on this is here.


L.A. Times Columnist: Blogs Are Like “Crab Grass” Sprouting Everywhere

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 9:24 am

To the certain amusement of bloggers, L.A. Times columnist David Lazarus resurrects the classic Big Media canard: Big Media is great and blogs suck.

The observation comes in a column that bemoans the fact that newspapers don’t charge for online content. Lazarus gripes that teenagers will pay for .mp3s, but not for online newspaper subscriptions. These damn kids nowadays!

My favorite part of Lazarus’s column is the part where he displays his dinosaur-like attitude towards New Media. Lazarus lauds his own publication as “the much-respected, widely esteemed news outlet you’re currently enjoying” — as contrasted with blogs, which he views as nuisances that “continue sprouting like crab grass throughout the electronic ether.” (You can tell he is pining for some blog herbicide that would remove this pestilence from the online world.) He adds: “Soon, the line separating quality journalism from utter hokum will be too blurry to discern.”

Breaking news for you, Mr. Lazarus: your editors are already unable to tell the difference.

Allow me, a mere crab-grass blogger, to give a much-respected and widely esteemed L.A. Times business columnist a remedial ecomonics lesson. If you’re supplying something people want to pay for, people will pay for it. If you aren’t, they won’t.

Your solution should not be to whine about this state of affairs. Your solution should be to provide a product that people want to pay for.

Why don’t people want to pay for the L.A. Times? I don’t know for sure. Speaking strictly for myself, I refuse to subscribe because your paper irresponsibly published details of a classified and legal anti-terror program. But others have their own reasons.

For example, many conservatives argue that your product is unpopular because it is untrustworthy.

There’s no doubt that it is. I’m in the process of compiling the links for my annual year-end review of the performance of your paper. It isn’t pretty, Mr. Lazarus. And it hasn’t been for quite some time.

But I have never completely bought into the idea that newspapers are having financial problems because they are inaccurate and/or liberally biased. Blogs have their foibles, too — and your paper has some strengths.

Here’s what I think is happening. We are all in the midst of an Internet revolution that none of us completely understands. Newspapers haven’t figured it out yet. I hope they do, because I think there’s a need for watchdogs — and there are investigations that (currently, at least) require the kind of manpower that only institutions like yours can spare.

But you’re never going to figure out what the next move is by whining.

It wouldn’t hurt to lose the arrogant attitude either.

Just some thoughts from the crab grass, Mr. Lazarus. Take them for what they’re worth.

(Thanks to Arthur K.)

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated (Updated)

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 7:08 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Pakistani People’s Party opposition leader and former PM Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today in Rawalpindi following a political rally:

“Pakistan’s charismatic leader Benazir Bhutto was shot dead on Thursday when gunmen opened fire at her vehicle just before a suicide bomber blew himself up at a election rally addressed by her in Rawalpindi, killing more than 20 people and injuring several others.

Reports said that five bullets were fired, one of which pierced her neck. The 54-year-old leader of Pakistan People’s Party was rushed to Rawalpindi general hospital, where she was pronounced dead.”

This is tragic for Bhutto and her family. In addition, she was a strong supporter of democracy in Pakistan, resolute against Muslim extremists, and a very brave person. Her death is a blow to democracy in Pakistan and to all who support democracy in the region.

International coverage has focused on the threat that Bhutto posed to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, both as a supporter of democracy and as a female leader. However, I suspect Pakistanis will also question whether members of Pervez Musharraf’s government, especially the ISI, played a role in Bhutto’s assassination.

When she first returned to Pakistan in October, Bhutto narrowly escaped death in bombings that marred her homecoming rally (discussed in this post). At that time, Bhutto’s husband blamed the intelligence services in Musharraf’s government and Bhutto herself had questions:

“Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, told Aryone World Television in Dubai that the Pakistani government itself was to blame: “It is the work of the intelligence agencies.”

Bhutto herself didn’t go that far. But in a press conference Friday, she asked why the street lights had gone off as her convoy moved through Karachi. “If there had been street lights on the road, our security volunteers would definitely have nabbed the suicide bombers,” she said. ”

I think many Pakistanis will question the role of Musharraf’s government in Bhutto’s assassination. I hope he promises and follows through with a full, reliable and neutral investigation … and I hope that investigation shows he wasn’t involved.

UPDATE 12/27/2007The Australian adds something interesting:

“Ms Bhutto, who returned to Pakistan from exile two months ago, had planned an earlier rally in the city, but Mr Musharraf forced her to cancel it, citing security fears.”


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