The head is one of the leading communication tools a dog will use to let other dogs know what it's thinking and feeling. The head consists of several body parts and each one is used in conjunction with the others to send the memo about its intentions: the position of the head, what the eyes are doing, the position of the ears, what the dog's mouth is doing. In a wonderful book by one on my favorite authors, How to Speak Dog, Stanley Coren gives it to us step-by-step. When we learn to put it all together, we can understand what our dogs are telling us.

The mouth of a dog gives plenty of information on how the dog may be feeling. It can tell you if the dog is angry or fearful, if something is interesting, or "Hey, I am totally relaxed." A relaxed dog will have relaxed facial muscles with the mouth slightly open. Just the simple act of closing that mouth or a slight change in the head position and the dog is telling us it is interested in something else and evaluating the situation.

It is a common misconception that if a dog is wagging its tail, it will not bite. Our canine friends have a very complex set of body-language signals from the head to the tail that expresses clearly to another dog what his or her intentions are. Humans are just not very good at understanding this language.

That tail seems like a good place to start, and I'll go over some of the basics. By the way: Cats do not care what dog's tails are doing.

Callie, friend to Jean RegenwetherHow many times have you heard the phrase "It's just a dog"? But time is certainly changing our opinions and treatment toward - and our lives with - our furry companions. "A dog is a family member" is a good way to describe the evolution taking place.

Focusing on "It's just a dog" suggests that dogs are creatures with no ability to think; they just follow humans around for food and shelter. Consequently, dogs must have no feelings. No joy, no anger, no love, no loss.

We are lucky to live in a time in which such viewpoints are changing, and huge kudos must be given to early dog trainers and animal behaviorists for realizing that the "dogs have no feelings" argument is clearly wrong.

Last week we saw what's become a regular headline: "Republicans Threaten Government Shutdown." This year's excuse was a feud over whether to continue writing an annual $500-million corporate-welfare check to Planned Parenthood.

With bated breath, the mainstream media informed us that the usual suspects on Capitol Hill were "working feverishly" to avoid the "shutdown." If they hadn't worked out a deal, the media would have squeezed a few more days or weeks of purple prose out of this fake calamity.

Yes, fake.

There was not going to be any "government shutdown." There's never been one, nor is one likely in the future. Or at least not until the U.S. government as we know it "shuts down" for good. (Yes, that will happen someday; nothing lasts forever.)

Nor are these fake "shutdowns" anything close to calamities. At worst they're mild inconveniences, and then only because Americans have acquiesced in government doing far too many things for far too long.

In May 2015, the federal government suffered a massive data breach, a hack that exposed the names and Social Security numbers of more than 21-million people.

In a press release, the Office of Personal Management (OPM) reported that as a result of its "aggressive effort to upgrade the agency's cybersecurity posture," the agency discovered the massive theft of background records, reportedly originating in China, including "identification details such as Social Security numbers; residency and educational history; employment history; information about immediate family and other personal and business acquaintances; health, criminal, and financial history; and other details. Some records also include findings from interviews conducted by background investigators and fingerprints. User names and passwords that background-investigation applicants used to fill out their background-investigation forms were also stolen."

This was a new breach - not the same looting of 4.2-million records that the agency discovered in April of this year.

The news didn't stop OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, appointed to the post in 2013, from congratulating herself for the agency's great strides in security. It was her "comprehensive IT strategic plan" that led to the knowledge that these incidents had happened.

But Archuleta lasted about one day after praising herself for noticing the theft, and the latest news is that the fingerprints of 5.6-million people were also grabbed in the mega-hacking of OPM's "cybersecurity posture."

OPM assures us that "federal experts believe that, as of now, the ability to misuse fingerprint data is limited." As of right now ... this second ... as we hit the press ... you probably have nothing to worry about if your fingerprints got stolen from OPM's data banks. Hurrah.

Even Archuleta would probably concede that discovering a robbery is not quite as good as preventing it. But let's go so far as to say that the nature of bureaucracy itself is more to blame than Archuleta is for having failed to fix how her agency functions.

Of course, governments are not the only organizations vulnerable to being cyber-attacked because of lax security. Other victims in recent years have included Target, Chase, and Sony.

But it's the decades-old privacy-invading policies of the federal government that have routinely converted all such breaches of personal data into potentially limitless disasters for the victims.

Memory has a way of playing tricks on the mind, but my recollection is that each of the seven presidential elections since I reached adulthood (I turned 18 the week after Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984) has been advertised - by the parties, by the candidates, by the media - as "the most important election of our lifetimes."

Here comes the eighth. Same shtick, even if the Jerry Springer atmospherics have been turned up a little. The world will end if Candidate X is elected. Americans will starve in the streets if Candidate Y isn't elected. You know what I'm talking about.

Of course, each presidential election is incredibly important to the parties, the candidates, and the media. Elections are their bread and butter. But are they really that consequential to the rest of us? On close examination, the only plausible answer is "no."

It's "war on cops" season again, in which politicians and pundits toss around the political football of officer safety. So now is an opportune time to look at the dangers of police work.

First, the big headline numbers: fatalities and homicides.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) keeps track of all the officers who have died on the job, from any cause, going back to the 19th Century.

Looking at officer fatalities per million residents since 1900, the broad sweep of history shows that police work has been getting a lot safer since Prohibition ended (with a temporary reversal during the 1960s and 1970s).

But, of course, not all fatalities are homicides. In fact, in recent years, only about a third of work-related police deaths have been from murder.

NLEOMF doesn't separately track homicides, but the FBI has its own database for felony killings of police in the past few decades. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has also conducted a national police census every four years since 1992, giving us some reliable estimates for the total number of sworn officers up through 2008.

And no matter how you slice it, police work has been getting a lot safer. Fatalities and murders of police have been falling for decades - per resident, per officer, and even in absolute terms.

In the forests of India, something exciting is going on. Villagers are regaining property taken from them when the British colonial authorities nationalized their forests. Just as exciting, in urban Kenya and elsewhere, people are doing away with the need for banks by exchanging and saving their money digitally. All over the world, poor people are discovering the blessings of bottom-up capitalism.

Sadly, though, developed-country governments and anti-poverty activists ignore this fact and insist that developing nations need a paternalistic hand up. Both are missing an opportunity, because there are billions of capitalists in waiting at the bottom of the pyramid.

Later this month, the United Nations will formally announce the successors to its Millennium Development Goals, the global body's approach to poverty alleviation since the year 2000. These new goals will be touted as "sustainable." The event will coincide with a visit by the pope, at which he is expected to concentrate on climate change and materialism as the greatest threats to the welfare of the people of the developing world.

Don't expect to hear much on the way people in the Western world lifted themselves out of poverty: free-market capitalism.

Whenever abortion comes up in a political context, pro-choice advocates highlight pro-life candidates' refusal to support a "rape and incest exception" to any proposed ban on, or regulation of, abortion. The 2016 presidential campaign is no exception. Recently CNN anchor Dana Bash handed the hot potato to former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee's response: "A 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible. But does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child? And that's really the issue."

Pro-choice publications predictably erupted, painting Huckabee as cold-hearted for his position. But that position flows inexorably from the logic of his larger pro-life stance, and is in fact a libertarian argument.

Notice that I said "a" libertarian argument, not "the" libertarian argument.

Editor's note: While the following blog posting from Washington attorney Scott Stafne (born and raised in Bettendorf, and online at ScottStafne.com) concerns Washington state jurisdiction, it is still highly instructive for all of us on how the courts contribute to foreclosure inequities, resulting in the destruction of not only the middle class but of property rights under our Constitution.

In Washington state, there are thousands of families having their homes fraudulently foreclosed on, most without due process from the courts - which are tasked with protecting due process under the state and federal constitutions. Recently an appeals judge in Washington ruled in favor of bypassing due process, further enabling nonjudicial foreclosures.

Nonjudicial foreclosures allow a lender to foreclose on a property without a court proceeding. The only way for an owner to fight this type of foreclosure is to file a lawsuit. Often, nonjudicial foreclosures occur without the participation, or even knowledge, of the owners(s). Only 32 states permit nonjudicial foreclosures. While Iowa and Illinois are not among them, Iowa has a provision known as "alternative nonjudicial foreclosure," which permits the owner(s) to request a nonjudicial foreclosure to avoid court (RCReader.com/y/foreclosure1).

It is important to understand these remedies that exist for lenders and how they impact property owners' rights, because legislators could eventually allow their use without us (Iowans and Illinoisans) knowing, especially if we are not paying attention. Most mortgages contain language that provides mortgagees' consent to these remedies, but sadly most buyers are clueless about what they are actually agreeing to.

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