Friday, August 20, 2010

Good Leadership and Nugent's Failure

What is to be gained by more commentary on the Ted Nugent fiasco? He stepped on it and he has no one to blame but himself. A person might insist on arguing that others are responsible because they failed to inform him of California’s hunting regulations, but that argument does not wash. The simple truth is that Ted Nugent is the person in charge. It is his show. He is the person behind all the moving and shaking about sponsors, selling the concept to networks. The whole “Spirit of The Wild” effort is his baby, so when something goes wrong only so much of the excrement secreted actually flows down hill, contrary to the laws of physics in nature, in responsibility it rolls uphill. Here’s how it works: The person in charge is the person who is ultimately responsible for the actions and welfare of those below.

Those people below may argue against an action conceived, ordered or otherwise endorsed by those above them but only the person in charge is ultimately responsible for the actions of the others. There are a thousand reasons, all of them knife-sharp and ready to be turned against an underling who refuses to obey an order, and because of them nearly every underling will carry out wrongful or just misguided orders. Occasionally, there is the underling martyr who refuses to carry out an order and is fired, or hanged in totalitarian regimes, but it is rare. More frequently, there are the captains and lieutenants who refuse to sacrifice the lives entrusted to them to the idiocy of deranged leaders. But, good leaders also depend on those below them to provide good intelligence—but they have to ask for it! Underlings rarely provide that intelligence without being asked to get it. That’s when the excrement flows up hill. Did Nugent task his lower managers with getting the facts on California hunting? Did he educate himself to the facts so he could recognize good advice and poor advice? That’s what a good leader does. A good leader is well enough versed in whatever the framework of an action is that poor advice, bad intelligence, is recognized or at least suspected, and steps taken to get more information. Here is the perfect example of poor leadership--Ted Nugent failed in his leadership. The little brown piles rolled up hill.

But, on his web site Nugent does say that he takes full responsibility. I guess that shows he is being a leader.

I don’t agree.

His web site mea culpa acknowledges that he plead “no contest” to two “misdemeanor game violations.” The Latin basis is nolo contendere which translates into, “I do not wish to contend.” The defendant does not dispute the charge but does not admit to any guilt or wrong doing. Here’s the kicker, the charges to which the defendant pleads “no contest” cannot be used against him or her in a future case. The defendant must, however, accept the punishment for the offence as imposed by the court.

Ted Nugent did not accept guilt for his actions. Through a plea agreement the state agreed to accept the nolo contendere that was entered into the court in absentia (he was not in the courtroom). Further, the state dropped the other nine charges! Ted Nugent did not show any leadership or class. He used his position, influence and money as “Ted Nugent” to beat the system for an offense he committed. Is there any person who truly believes that any “Joe” or “Jane” off the street could commit the same, or nearly the same set of offenses, and get nine out of eleven charges dropped and the other two a nolo contendere plea?

I believe that Ted Nugent failed to live up to his position of leadership in the outdoor community. A 37 word, three sentence mea culpa without an admission of guilt is not sufficient for a person who claims a position of leadership in the outdoor community, a position that includes leadership of young people.

Ted Nugent’s star has fallen. Now he must pick it up and spend some time polishing it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August Weather and Goose Hunting

Suddenly the temperature drops into the low fifties and the dove start packing their bags. I hope they are not in too much of a hurry since the weather people are forecasting a return of August weather by the middle of the week. Of course, August weather up here is somewhat more temperate than August weather in other parts of the country. I shouldn’t be too quick to brag though, the last of July and first week of August we had some lousy hot weather in the 90s and if you toss in the humidity the temperature “felt” like 100 or 101. Then I look at other parts of the country and give a sigh of thanks that Michelle talked me into moving up here.

I haven’t had a chance to get out and try that early season goose hunting. I did take a drive around to check out some of my waterfowl hunting areas and there are geese hanging around but I’m not convinced there are enough geese on those sloughs to merit donning cammies, packing the smoke pole and Cookie. The geese were pretty laid back and didn’t seem to be too worried about my presence. I will probably take a drive to a much larger slough that usually has more geese on it and see if that would be worth returning to park myself for some pass shooting.

The idea behind this early season is to get the resident goose population down before the geese migrating from Canada arrive. According to the wildlife people the target population of resident geese here in Eastern North Dakota is 80,000 birds and right now we’ve got a resident population of 140,000 birds. For people who don’t understand, all of those geese have got to feed somewhere and they like to visit the various farm fields and help themselves. That’s a lot of geese gulping down soybeans, wheat, and who knows what else, all at the expense of farmers.

There is another reason for getting the number of birds down—health. Whenever birds like waterfowl begin to congregate too heavily there is always the chance of disease, both for people and birds. So, sometime this week I’ll go out and do some goose hunting. It has been a long summer, even if summer isn’t yet over. As for the dove, they can unpack their bags and hang around for a few more weeks, there’s lots of warm weather yet to come.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Early Goose Season

Yesterday’s newspaper had an announcement that the North Dakota early Canada goose season opener is set for August 15. At first I was sort of excited about it. This has been a long summer with some problems that I hadn’t expected that kept me from some projects that I had planned. So, I was kind of excited about taking Cookie goose hunting. Then I walked outside and got hit in the face by the mid-90 temperatures and the humidity.

Sorry guys. Goose hunting, at least for me, does not mean beating back hoards of mosquitoes and flicking ticks off my arms, legs, head and neck. Besides, my waterfowl clothing is for cold weather. Hunting from a sauna hasn't got much appeal.

Of course, there are a lot of good reasons for going out in the early season and they all revolve around the need for population control. There are too many birds and not enough habitat. I don’t have any problem with the early season and I do intend to try and get in one or two hunts and if, by some magical combination of the planets, I manage to actually get my limit of five geese that would be enough to fill up a good part of my freezer. I know a lot of hunters will breast their birds and toss the rest but I was brought up not to waste meat from the game I killed so a one day limit of Canada geese in my freezer would be a huge bonus for the coming winter.

I’ve been watching geese so finding them won’t be hard. What will be hard is taking enough insect repellent to not be carried away by the mosquitoes. We’ll see how it works out. Hunting them in such warm weather as we’ve been having is something I still haven’t managed to get a handle on so any advice from readers who have some experience with warm weather goose hunting is welcome. glg

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Outside vs Inside Nature & Caves of Steel

If we hunt we are acting “within” nature. If we only observe then are we acting “outside” of nature? Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading a couple of books and a number of essays on the subject of identification of our position in relation to nature. Now, as some of you may know, I maintain that nature is consistent with wherever a person happens to be. The sort of nature a person is experiencing will vary, from the living room of a home to the nature of the northern woods, but I believe each one is nature. In the one nature will exist the mites, insects, pets, houseplants, people and maybe even mice, and at the other end we will have moose, bear, fish, with thousands of other forms of wildlife.

My question is this: “Is there a true separation between being “within” and “outside” of nature?

Can anyone actually find themselves living outside of nature short of living in a bubble to be isolated from even bacteria? I want to answer my own question with the statement that “no, we cannot escape from nature.” But, if that statement is true then how do we explain the identified psychological problems that are known to arise with children and adults who have been raised to think of themselves as being separated from nature by the march of technology and growing reality of Asimov’s Caves of Steel?

We don’t need to read the work of today’s influential thinkers to realize there is a functionality disorder commonly shared among people who grew up in the sans-nature environs of urbanized cultures. Frequently, we find these people the targets for fund raising campaigns by radical anti-hunting/fishing movements, or similar activities, and these people never check the groups’ backgrounds to verify their claims. Simply being pro animal rights on some level is enough and they make their donations, ignoring the Silver of Judas in the leadership’s hands. Sadly, these same people will reject valid conservation and preservation programs administered by organizations with no connection to the consumptive sports—even in their own backyards—to follow the movement’s credo. What is truly disturbing is that very few of these well-meaning people are capable of identifying wild flowers, animals, and even local bird species and when asked, cannot identify the ecological zone they live in! For millions of people the very closest they ever come to “wildlife” is the city zoo and the only interaction with an animal is a dog, cat, or other pet and they cannot fathom a cat relieving itself outside of a box of kitty litter or a day not following Spot on the city sidewalk and picking up after the dog.

Most authors of academic studies place the blame for the creation of our “no nature” generation on the advent of replacement social technology. That is the technology of tools that replace the need, or desire, to go outside and interact with nature and other people in the freer environment of nature where playful creativity and social interaction generates a stronger sense of well-being. These researchers are on to something that is important, except that the replacement technology, whether we are talking about computer games (online or in computer) or other aspects of technology, are only as valid as the individual is willing to let them become and they only gain validity when the technology is an economical substitute for outdoor activities. I realized the importance of the economic battle between technology and the outdoors when pricing fishing tackle after a discussion with my step-son over the price of a computer game—the computer game was much less expensive than the lowest priced, moderate quality rod and reel combination. That revelation had been foretold nearly twenty years ago when an older hunter stopped by our Colorado hunting camp to share hunting tips and coffee. I and another hunter from our group had been working on our laptops because both of us had article deadlines for the day after we returned from camp. The older hunter looked disgustedly at the computers. He asked me how much I paid for my laptop and after I told him he snorted and said, “Someday, when that thing is cheaper than a hunting trip, people will stay home with those and your grand kids won’t get to go hunting.”

He was a prophet.

That’s the problem that so many researchers are alluding to—technology is replacing activity. I maintain there is much more to the equation than technology being guilty of locking us indoors—we’ve made nature a victim of ourselves. We’ve damaged nature with the industry that drives our civilization and if there is to be any repairing of nature then people have got to be willing to foot the bill. I’m not so sure people are. Consider the BP spill, media attention has increasingly focused on how much the spill is costing BP and then how and when that cost will be passed on to consumers. Already, those people who live close to the spill are worrying that both the government and BP are setting the stage to “cut-n-run.”

I suspect that two strong factors are working against the repair of the damaged nature and they are the public’s fear of paying for cleaning up coastal wetlands that most people have never seen, nor do they understand, and the second factor is time—the more time after the event the farther the event is from the public’s mind. The public needs to understand that when nature has people interacting and protecting it, it is going to support us as a species. We, as individuals, must not be tricked into accepting an artificial nature created in a computer or the lobby of a massive hotel as the nature that sustains our world. No matter how hard programmers try to incorporate nature into the machine it remains the machine and is outside of nature, and when the real nature needs humanity’s help a line of computer code will not save nature as we know it.

Think about it. glg

If you have never read Caves of Steel, the robot series, Caves of Steel (Robot (Spectra Books)) or Robot Trilogy: The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn it is well worth the time to read it. He wrote The Caves of Steel in 1954 and it is incredible how much of the book has become reality. You don't have to be a fan of Science Fiction to enjoy Asimov's work. glg