Richard Dawkins Exposed: Part IV – Moscow’s Stray Dogs “Evolving Greater Intelligence”!

I want to draw your attention to this article: Moscow’s Stray Dogs Evolving Greater Intelligence, Including a Mastery of the Subway, which appeared on Dawkins’ website at the weekend.

Firstly, I don’t know whether Dawkins added this article to his website himself, or if one of his evolved apes did, but it is quite bizarre that anyone could believe the angle to this story, which was reported in Popular Science. It is amazing how people who think of themselves as scientists can believe that ‘evolution’ can explain away everything.

For every 300 Muscovites, there’s a stray dog wandering the streets of Russia’s capital. And according to Andrei Poyarkov, a researcher at the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, the fierce pressure of urban living has driven the dogs to evolve wolf-like traits, increased intelligence, and even the ability to navigate the subway.

Poyarkov has studied the dogs, which number about 35,000, for the last 30 years. Over that time, he observed the stray dog population lose the spotted coats, wagging tails, and friendliness that separate dogs from wolves, while at the same time evolving social structures and behaviors optimized to four ecological niches occupied by what Poyarkov calls guard dogs, scavengers, wild dogs, and beggars.

The guard dogs follow around, and receive food from, the security personnel at Moscow’s many fenced in sites. They think the guards are their masters, and serve as semi-feral assistants. The scavengers roam the city eating garbage. The wild dogs are the most wolf-like, hunting mice, rats, and cats under the cover of night.

But beggar dogs have evolved the most specialized behavior. Relying on scraps of food from commuters, the beggar dogs can not only recognize which humans are most likely to give them something to eat, but have evolved to ride the subway. Using scents, and the ability to recognize the train conductor’s names for different stops, they incorporate many stations into their territories.

You have probably noticed the silliest suggestion, i.e. that the dogs are evolving “wolf-like traits”.

Domestic dogs were bred from wild dogs, silly. And with an increased gene pool due to interbreeding, the dogs will be more like their wild ancestors than domestic dogs are, which were bred to favour certain characteristics.

The spotted coats, wagging tails, and friendliness that separate dogs from wolves can be explained by an experiment carried out by Soviet biologist Dmitri Belyaev, who:

…set up a Russian silver fox research centre in Novosibirsk, setting out to test his theory that the most important selected characteristic for the domestication of dogs was a lack of aggression. He began to select foxes that showed the least fear of humans and bred them. After 10-15 years, the foxes he bred showed affection to their keepers, even licking them. They barked, had floppy ears and wagged their tails. They also developed spotted coats – a surprising development that was connected with a decrease in their levels of adrenaline, which shares a biochemical pathway with melanin and controls ­pigment production.

Biologist Andrei Poyarkov explains,

With stray dogs, we’re witnessing a move backwards, that is, to a wilder and less domesticated state, to a more ‘natural’ state.” As if to prove his point, strays do not have spotted coats, they rarely wag their tails and are wary of humans, showing no signs of ­affection towards them.

Poyarkov reckons that “dumping a pet dog on the streets of Moscow amounts to a near-certain death sentence” and “fewer than 3 per cent survive”.

So there are tough mutts down there. Wily ones too.

Naturally, the dogs have adapted (not evolved) to their new environment. Poyarkov reckons that the pack leader is “not necessarily the strongest or most dominant dog, but the most intelligent – and is acknowledged as such. The pack depends on him for its survival.” With fewer than one in thirty abandoned pet dogs surviving, we can understand why intelligence is so respected by the other dogs.

It should worry us that such bad science is being perpetuated in the popular media. A lie told often enough becomes the truth. I suggest this describes the Theory of Evolution. If there is so much indisputable evidence for it, why are we presented with such desperate attempts to try and convince us/perpetuate the myth?

The other posts to date:

Richard Dawkins Exposed: Part I

Richard Dawkins Exposed: Part II – Five Minutes

Richard Dawkins Exposed: Part III – Indoctrination Camp for Children

This entry was posted in Animals, Creationism, Richard Dawkins and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

214 Responses to Richard Dawkins Exposed: Part IV – Moscow’s Stray Dogs “Evolving Greater Intelligence”!

  1. English Viking says:

    I thought that Pavlov’s dog was long gone, but judging by this knee-jerk response from Dawkins and his mob to the observation of a pack of wild dogs behaving like a pack of wild dogs, he is apparently alive and well.

    Must be a bit hungry by now though. That hole in the throat thing must be a real nuisance.

  2. Jim Baxter says:

    Why are we presented with such desperate attempts to try and convince us/perpetuate the myth?

    What, like, believe in the invisible or you’re damned? Attempted throughout the Bible.

    Just trying to keep a balance here.

  3. English Viking says:

    Dr Baxter,

    I believe in the invisible and that I’m saved. Big difference.

  4. Jim Baxter says:

    English,

    There you are. Have you seen the BBC news page on the web today? ‘English Viking welcomed in Shetland’ or something like that. Good to see you supporting these pagan festivals.

    The difference is invisible to me.

  5. English Viking says:

    Dr Baxter,

    Just checked Al Ja Beeba but couldn’t see anything.

    ‘The difference is invisible to me.’ – Just like the difference between Air and Carbon Monoxide, but have you tried breathing CO?

  6. Jim Baxter says:

    English

    Just checked back meself. It’s still there: Engish Viking Enjoys Shetland Honour. They even have your picture, just like the one of you that shows on other sites. Two below the Goldsmith piece.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/

    Your gaseous analogy is just that.

  7. English Viking says:

    Dr Baxter,

    I must be as thick as I look, I can’t see it. Have they really robbed my avatar?

  8. Jim Baxter says:

    English,

    Strange to hear a Viking complaining about being robbed. I don’t know that it’s precisely your avatar – you English all look alike to me – but it is your handle.

    It’s still there on their main page – video and audio news – bold as Loki.

    Also here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/humberside/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8481000/8481496.stm

  9. English Viking says:

    Dr Baxter,

    Yorkshire and England ……. two different countries.

    Perhaps I prefer Lancashire?

    It’s grim up North, tha knows.

  10. Paul says:

    I wonder why you think that you are right and that everyone who disagrees with your ancient superstitious beliefs is wrong? Do you NEVER consider they may be right? In this latest blurb you don’t seem to see that ‘adapted’ is the basis for change and for evolution. Very odd, on your part. Also, why shouldn’t thinks evolve and change to adapt to the changes around us? Surely Mother Nature, to give it a name, is FAR more believable than any of the many invisible ‘Gods’.

  11. English Viking says:

    Paul

    ‘I wonder why you think that you are right and that everyone who disagrees with your ancient superstitious beliefs is wrong? Do you NEVER consider they may be right?’

    Reasonable point. I wonder why you think that you are right and that everyone who disagrees with your modern psuedo-scientific beliefs is wrong? Do you NEVER consider they may be right?

  12. Tyler Durden says:

    “I wonder why you think that you are right and that everyone who disagrees with your modern psuedo-scientific beliefs is wrong?”

    English Viking –

    That’s why science deals in naturalistic empirical, testable evidence to verify data, explain laws and phenomena – it’s not merely our opinion, it’s only what we can prove; while religion deals in archaic fairy tales and blind faith.

    You’re more than entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts!

  13. Jim Baxter says:

    ‘That’s why science deals in naturalistic empirical, testable evidence to verify data, explain laws and phenomena – it’s not merely our opinion, it’s only what we can prove; while religion deals in archaic fairy tales and blind faith.’

    While that is my approach, seeing no sense in any other, it is an approach. The religious approach is to say that there are things about the universe which we cannot test and that there are many scientists who put blind faith in the idea that testing things will lead to truth. Some truths may not be testable using the hypothtico-deductive method.

    That said, Stewart, your post is daft. If you have the time please post a dictionary definition of the wrd ‘evolve’ and say what’s wrong with using it to describe what’s happening to these neo-captialist running dogs.

  14. English Viking says:

    Tyler Durden,

    If you look closely, my quote was a reworking of the previous commentators remark. The point was to highlight that both sides are equally dogmatic about things which most certainly cannot be proven. The difference between the sides appears to be that I, for one, recognise my own dogma and make no excuse for it whilst the proponent of evolution seem blissfully unaware of the fact that are equally as guilty of the very things which they are prone to accuse others of.

    The theories of evolution are not facts, nor is there one, commonly held theory. There are literally dozens and most of them are mutually exclusive to each other. You are more than entitled to your own theories, but not your own facts!

    Dr Baxter,

    You are entirely correct Sir, some truths cannot be marked, measured, franked, filed, indexed or stamped.

  15. Stewart Cowan says:

    Jim, by ‘evolve’ I mean as in what the headline suggests, i.e. that intelligence has been increased due to random mutations, rather than the fact that there is no new information being added to the genome by processes that the Theory of Evolution relies upon to be true.

  16. Jim Baxter says:

    No Stewart. All that evolve means is ‘develop’ or ‘unfold’. That’s all the Darwinists assume it to mean. Evoltion has no ‘direction’. New information does not have to be ‘added’. Animals can evolve by discarding information. There are flightless birds descended from birds that could fly that stil have wings, there are eyeless worms descended from worms that had eyes that still have vestiges of eyes, there is the human appedix, there are parts of your brain that aren’t used anymore but are used by other animals – intelligence for example – atrophied in your case but not in mine (Ha – couldnae resist that one – you know I’m kidding you).

    Natural selection is operating against the dogs that are poorly eqipped to cope, so the dog population becomes smarter.

  17. Stewart Cowan says:

    Hi Paul,

    I think English Viking gives a good answer. Also, nearly all religious people (if not all) have had doubts and have thought about alternatives. Even the Christ said from the cross: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

    As I said to Jim, the adaptation we see in these dogs isn’t due to processes that prove that the Theory of Evolution is a reality.

    Yes, random mutations occur and natural selection is real, but more scientists need to start understanding that there is a limit to what random mutations are capable of producing.

    I think that belief in the Creator of such an intricate, complex world is far more realistic than believing it is all formed out of chaos, as a result of chance.

  18. Stewart Cowan says:

    Exactly, Jim,

    You’re right.

    What’s the catch?

    Only that, while natural selection has favoured the intelligent dogs, this isn’t due to uphill evolution, which is what the TofE depends upon.

    Same with your flightless birds, etc.

  19. Stewart Cowan says:

    Hi Tyler,

    Got the feedback yet on that conundrum?

    I believe in the correct deductions from scientific experimentation. We just disagree in what the correct deductions are relating to things like genetics and geological features.

    God is eternal, so “archaic” is correct (but not “fairy tales”) and as I said to Paul, all believers have had doubts, so “blind faith” is probably not as common as you think among those of us who are able to think. My faith is ‘built-in’, but is confirmed and strengthened by the experiment that has been my life and in understanding the limitations of popular scientific theories and in studying the vast amount of evidence there is for such things as the Creation and global flood.

  20. Jim Baxter says:

    ‘this isn’t due to uphill evolution, which is what the TofE depends upon’

    No, it doesn’t. At no point does the theory require that evolution makes ‘progress’ towards complexity. If simple creatures are better able to adapt to the environment than more complex creatures then the complex creatures will die out.

    There is no selection pressure on wolves in the wild to develop more intelligence. They can get by as they are. Same with domestic dogs. As long as humans want to keep them as they are – dopey and loveable or good at herding sheep – they will stay as they are. There is such pressure on these Russian dogs however.

  21. Jim Baxter says:

    English,

    Indeed sir, and you don’t have to be religious to have serious doubts about the limitations of science. If science can describe to me what redness looks like to you I’ll be impressed. If it can explain how a spongy mass that is a brain can visualise faces, visualise a whole lot more besides, have dreams etc. etc. I’ll be impressed. Maybe it’s just a matter of time. But I doubt it.

  22. Stewart Cowan says:

    Jim,

    Yes it does. Ask yourself this: how did complex creatures become complex?

  23. Jim Baxter says:

    Stewart, no it doesn’t. (I can keep this up as lomg as you can).

    I don’t need to ask myself anything. Complex creatures became more complex because their complexity conferred advantages in breeding in the envirntmenta conditons in which they evloved – developed. But those advantages are fragile, as will be all too evident when the environment changes, and I don’t mean climate change. As soon as environmantal conditions favour simplicity complexity will die out. THAT’S Darwin ( sorry for shouting).

    Creatures which we, in our supreme arrogance, consider ‘simple’ (the same arrogance that you have – and this time I’m not kidding – in assuming that a supernatural being takes an interest in us) will last and we will perish.

    Mind you, here I think I can accept one Biblical prophecy – the meek shall inherit the Earth. The meek are rats, cockroaches, termites, ants, paramecia…

  24. Jim Baxter says:

    Oh and apologies for the dreadful typos. It’s me age, me lud. and me feeble brain. Especialy me feeble brain, ramshackle old sparky that it is.

  25. English Viking says:

    Dr Baxter,

    All of the theories of evolution that I am familiar with DO require simple organisms to become increasingly complex, at least at the ‘start’ of life on Earth, hence the myth that all life, of whatever complexity, is derived from pond-scum.

    I believe that all that has happened with these dogs is that they have now to rely on their God given instincts, which are innate, and not on the kindness of a human master, which removes the need for them to fend for themselves. This is why the ‘watchdog’ variety mentioned in the post is still friendly toward humans, because they still master them. As for the top-dog not being the baddest, I simply don’t believe it. Can you imagine a Chihuahua eating the last scraps before a hungry Rottweiler, just because he’s ‘clever’?

    I would consider it a significant development in intelligence if any of these dogs were to evolve the power of speech or the dexterity required to drive the subway trains instead of hang around them begging for scraps.

  26. Jim Baxter says:

    And… while I’ve got the place to meself… all human experience amounts to zero, just like the universe; it all cancels out. Whether you have lived a libidinous life, as I have – many beautiful girls – and I mean beautiful – have shared my bed (with me, I mean), many hundreds of gallons of fine whisky have invaded me brain, or whether you now live a celibate life as Stewart says he does after much of what he considers sin, it dosn’t matter. It’s all an illusion, a quantum flux. It all cancels out.

    I’d say, go and enjoy yourself, but it wouldn’t matter. All experience is the same. The universe itself wants out, wants oblivion.

  27. Jim Baxter says:

    DO require simple organisms to become increasingly complex

    English,

    No they don’t. Your understanding is wrong. There is no ‘requirement’. Natural selection is about surviving to replicate genetic material, however complex or simple.

    Give these dogs a little more time and they’ll put us all in our place, if survival forces them to and we allow them to. We should alow them, we’ve had our time, but we won’t. We have our own imperatives, God rot our loathsome bones, with the exception, as always, of Joanna Lumley.

  28. English Viking says:

    Dr Baxter,

    Yes they do. No I’m not.

  29. Jim Baxter says:

    English

    Ooh, you are a difficult chap. You remind me of me.

    OK, tell me where. And why not.

  30. Jim Baxter says:

    Got the place to meself sagain. Thanks Stewart, and you know there is respect in that.

    Evolution has no sense of direction. It does not progress. retreat from complexity is also evolution.

    Tell me where it says otherwise and I’ll tell you you are either lying or quoting a fool.

    Now, I can’t say fairer than that.

  31. English Viking says:

    Dr Baxter,

    I have heard and read numerous supporters of the idea of evolution (as being the source of life on Earth, and not just a phenomenon which which causes adaption within a species after life appeared) use the proposition that life began as ‘primordial soup’ and gradually, over many hundreds of millions of years, this soup diversified into all levels of complexity. They use this theory to explain the multitude of both species and complexity within those species. I do not say that evolutionists say that things are headed in one direction or another NOW, (forgive the capitals, but I don’t know how to italicize and that is the only way I know of emphasising a word) but they most certainly do say that this process occurred at the ‘start’.

    A couple of things that always bothered me about the T of E, even before I was a Christian (I have never believed evolution to be true) was the fact that Man is enormously superior to all other species. If we are merely glorified monkeys, where are the ‘dog-men’, the ‘lion-men’, the ‘fish-men’? Why has no other species evolved to the same level as man. I have heard pathetic explanations for these questions, but seem so contrived and dependent on faith that I would rather place that faith in Christ than a man with a white coat and microscope.

    Why have no other species learned to communicate verbally? I know that some do have basic grunts, body language and other, non verbal forms of communication but nothing remotely approaching a language. Why not?

    Why is man’s recorded history so small, if the Earth is hundreds of millions and even billions of years old (which it is not)? Why, when in the last 100 years developments such as space-flight and computers have become the norm, did it take hundreds of thousands of years to learn to read and write when babies start reading at 12 months. I would find evolution much more believable if it were to propose that the Earth and life on it was relatively young but then they would fall foul of evolution taking place at pace which could be observed, so they stick to patently ludicrous timescales.

    Why is the human population of the Earth so pathetically small (comparatively speaking) if human have been breeding with abandon and without contraception for many, many tens of thousands of years? There should be billions more than there are now, even allowing for war and disease. The planet should be littered with the human remains of ancestors. That it is not is proven every time one of the white coat clad men digs up a toe of some unknown species and claims it is the missing link.

    I am not trying to convince you, although it would be nice, I am merely stating a few of my reasons for having so much doubt about the T of E that I consciously rejected it as false, many years before I became a Christian.

  32. Jim Baxter says:

    English,

    All entirely fair questions. Here’s my perspective. The planet provides niches. Some organisms in the primordial soup (made by Baxters, of course) developed tendencies that gave them an advantage in terms of passing on their genes. Those tendencies were selected for – by whom? By nobody – by the environment. They out-reproduced the competition. Environment causes diversity, and only the environment.

    Poeple talk about how the dinosaurs ‘ruled’ the world for 150 million years. They did nothing of the kind. They were just bigger than evrything else. It’s a very sizeist argument. As far as we can tell though they were successful in reproducing for that great length of time and were wiped out most probably by some cosmic accident. They didn’t need much intelligence. They needed only big teeth. There were no ice ages during the time that they lived, I believe, so intelligence to survive as large organsisms was of litle use to them and therefore did not develop to the level that they built TV sets (building them is intelligent – watching them aint).

    Human intelligence developed from the accidents of becoming bipedal, developing the opposing thumb and the need to survive in ice ages (my suggestion that last one – haven’t read that anywhere though that’s testament to my ignorance, not my originality). They will rue the day because they are now very poorly equipped to survive even slight changes to their environment in any numbers. Unlike viruses, rats, cockroaches, etc. We are not nearly as clever as we think we are. On that, I suspect, you and I agree.

  33. Jim Baxter says:

    Oh, and by the way, I’m fed up hearing about the fossil record and its supposed defects. Darwin developed his ideas from observing diversity in living organsisms. The theory is predicated in no way upon the fossil record, although there is nothing in that record to refute the theory. Just as today you can watch evolution happening in living organsisms under the microscope, and in Moscow (Hi Stewart).

    Organisms. So much better a word than ‘creatures’. You know that chemicals self-organise, I suppose.

  34. English Viking says:

    Dr Baxter,

    If I were, as you suggest I am, able to observe one species evolve into another, entirely different species, today… well that would pose me some very serious questions. I do believe that species adapt, sometimes quite drastically, but that they remain the same species after the adaptation. Dogs do not turn into cats, for example, but they can and do turn into poodles from wolves, into pussycats from lions.

    I wasn’t complaining about the defect, supposed or not, of the fossil record, merely the fact that I wondered, at a very early age, where are all the billions of bodies? Their relative scarcity posed a problem to me back then. Now I know the answer.

    Another thing that I have always wondered about was why, given man’s propensity for violence and domination, is he so physically weak? Why has man never developed a venomous bite, or a sting, or the physical prowess of a bull (which gets it’s bulk and power from eating grass, so the meat-eating, protein thing won’t explain it) or the speed of a leopard? For saying we are allegedly descended from apes, our strength, agility and climbing abilities are pathethic.

    You know that I believe the answer to the above questions is that we are not advanced apes, who in turn are just a progression from the ‘soup’, it is because we are created in the image of God, by God. He knew full well man’s capabilities for violence, hence the lack of weaponry.

    I do know that chemicals self-organise, which is even more reason to suppose that life required a creator.

    PS I note the idea in the post that the lack of ‘spotting’ in the fur of these dogs along with the absence of tail wagging, which was present until recently, is further evidence of the dog’s return to savageness. I watched a nature programme on TV last night, about leopards (quite spotty, don’t you think?) in which the presenter spent almost the whole programme looking for a group of these amazing creatures and failing to do so. He was forced to fill the time by observing other species and one of them was a pack of South African Wild Dogs. These things are just about as vicious as you can get, man-eaters. Very spotted coats, loads of tail-wagging and allegedly unchanged for tens of thousands of years.

    PPS Always preferred Heinz myself. Baxter’s is a bit thick, hehehe!

  35. Tyler Durden says:

    English Viking –

    “I wondered, at a very early age, where are all the billions of bodies?”

    It’s due to a process called Decomposition.

    Osseous tissue, which makes up the rigid part of the bone in the human skeleton, decomposes after death/burial due to the Type-I collagen and also calcium, magnesium, and phosphate elements contained within. This can be viewed in four distinct phases:

    autolysis, putrefaction, decay (putrefaction and carnivores) and diagenesis.

    The reason why we have fossils millions of years old is due to the environment in which the body initually died, and was buried in (and remained in). Dry, dusty deserts are best due to the lack of moisture, which is a key cause/factor for Decomposition. While colder temperatures can decrease the rate of decomposition while warmer, moist temperatures can increase it.

    Fossils are also found in rock, and layers of compressed minerals. Layers of silt, dust, sand, and minerals compress over time, encasing the bones/skeleton, thus protecting it. We are lucky to have the fossils we do in natural history museums around the world, most bones/skeletons whether human or animal are lost forever – Decomposition is essential for new growth and development of living organisms because it recycles the finite matter that occupies physical space in the ecosystem – i.e. tissue is recycled by insects e.g. flesh-flies (Sarcophagidae) and blow-flies (Calliphoridae) but ultimately bacteria and fungi are the cause.

  36. English Viking says:

    Tyler Durden,

    Thanks for the explanation, but it is one I am familiar with and it does not account for lack of human and ape skeletons in the fossil record, if the Earth is millions of years old.

  37. Tyler Durden says:

    English Viking –

    Of course it does.

    The earth is billions of years old (4.6bn). The process of Decomposition has been around for such a time that bacteria/fungi have been present – billions of years.

    Early hominid fossils (e.g. 3-6 million years old) were just as susceptible to this process. What were you expecting after bones were buried in the ground, intact skeletal remains piling up for all to see?

    How many human and ape skeletons in the fossil record would convince you? 1, 10, 100, 10,000, 100,000? Decomposition explains the lack of “bodies”. We only get preserved bodies or fossils in very special circumstances (some of which I described above), not to mention Egyptian mummified remains due to specific treatments.

  38. Jim Baxter says:

    English,

    All I know about great big spotty dogs I learned from the Woodentops.

    Heinz eh? I had you down as a Grannies man.

    Ha.

  39. Stewart Cowan says:

    Jim,

    You described natural selection with which I agree. My question was how you think complexity arose.

    The Russian dogs didn’t change due to random mutations increasing the complexity of the genome.

  40. Stewart Cowan says:

    Tyler,

    The problem you have is that the fossil record is not what you would expect were the Theory of Evolution true. Darwin admitted it was a problem and it still is – even more so – millions of fossil-finds later.

    Edit: i.e. with regards to transitional fossils.

  41. English Viking says:

    Tyler Durden,

    I’m afraid it doesn’t. I am perfectly familiar with processes of decomposition and it does not account for the lack of human skeletons in the fossil record, if the Earth is billions and Man (or some form of predecessor) is millions of years old. There are simply not enough of them, even accounting for the fact that only a very small proportion of bodies will be fossilised. This does roughly tally with the current population of the Earth though, if Man is not as old as most people suppose. Even If he is, then there are billions of living bodies missing.

    I do not believe that the Earth is anywhere near as old as modern ‘science’ claims that it is, regardless (I say that respectfully) of what The Bible says. I have no reason to.

  42. English Viking says:

    I’m all on my own… is there anybody out there (or even oot there)?

  43. Stewart Cowan says:

    I’m here.

  44. Stewart Cowan says:

    Basically, you see which ever ‘glasses’ you have on focus on. Evolution glasses make you see millions and billions of years, while Creation spectacles open your eyes to a world you never saw before.

    Tragically, evolution specs are the only ones allowed in most British schools.

  45. English Viking says:

    Hey Stewart,

    I knew you were there somewhere, lurking. How you diddling?

  46. Stewart Cowan says:

    Can’t complain really, English. Warm, fed and ready for bed. How are you in your far off land?

  47. English Viking says:

    Hey Stewart,

    Still breathing, which is usually a good sign. Minus 14 at the mo, so perhaps not quite so snug as you.

  48. English Viking says:

    Correction. Minus 21 now.

  49. Stewart Cowan says:

    Hi English,

    Does it stop the trains running, the schools opening, etc. or do you always get the ‘right’ type of snow there and have people who know how to operate a shovel and throw down grit/salt?

    We get it pretty good here in the S.W. of Scotland – warmed by the Gulf Stream, don’t you know? Although, when I took the mutts out earlier, there was a fierce north wind blowing, so the Gulf Stream wasn’t much use.

    A fairly quiet weekend beckons. The church celebrates its 25th anniversary this weekend, so a couple of meetings to go to.

  50. English Viking says:

    Hey Stewart

    Everything runs like clockwork. I have never missed a day at work because of the weather. Most people (but not I) own a tractor where I live and these are easily fitted with ploughs for the snow. The local Kommune (Council) pays local residents to clear the roads on a piece work basis. This means that they employ very few permanent workers and taxes are not wasted on employing people unnecessarily. The roads are cleared at least 3 times a day and gritted at least once.

    Schools are still local i.e. there are loads of them, they are small and there is at least one to a village, usually more. This means that a) class sizes are around 18 kids per teacher AND assistant and b) traveling distances to and fro are measured in metres, not miles.

    There are no trains in my area, too many mountains. In the flatter parts of the country there is a significant railway system and I have never seen a delay, for any reason. Public transport is cheap, clean, easy and most of all reliable. All the buses have snow chains and 6 wheel drive. Snow tyres are compulsory in Winter, for all vehicles. They are very knobbly with little metal spikes that grip even sheet ice. You do still need to be careful with your speed but driving in these conditions is relatively easy.

    East winds are the problem at the mo, from Siberia. It’s only about minus 4 now, but the temperature plummets at night. It’s all very picturesque, but I do get ticked off with the cold and the need to start the car (and dig it out) about half an hour before you need to drive it.

    Skiing is great but I’m afraid the old knees and back have seen far better days, so I don’t go so much now.

    Summer is usually far better than the UK, although the last one was rubbish. It is a country of extremes. When it is cold, it really means it, when it is hot it’s boiling.

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