The Curious Nature of Alevi Lore

It’s already been speculated and suspected that (whilst depending on the community and individual), Alevi Islam seems to have far more in more with Judaism as well as Russian/Slavic and Greek folklore in addition to Hinduism than it does with normal Turkish Islam. Maybe not necessarily too different but still distinctive enough to be somewhat dubious and curious. If I’m not mistaken, even cats are considered dirty among Alevi Muslims.

There’s a strong parallel to it in both Medieval Irish Christianity and Hinduism as well as the Romani communities. Likewise, bad people are thought to reincarnate as dogs. This is also found among the Greeks, Hindus and some Slavic communities. Another possible smoking gun’s that some Alevi Turks are assumed to be crypto-Christians and crypto-Armenians. Armenia was historically part of Turkey and if some were persecuted, unsurprisingly they’d go into hiding and try to pass as normal Muslims.

Whether or not Armenian folklore actually influenced Alevism’s up to anybody’s guess but still some strains of Islam (especially the odd ones) are thought to be influenced by Hinduism and Zoroastrianism (religions associated with the Indo-Aryans) so it might not be a stretch for Alevism to be influenced by Indo-European folklore. That’s if those beliefs closely resemble those of Greeks, Russians and Armenians (the Black Sea helps as well as living in hiding).

Stephanie Brown=Carol Danvers

Like I said, if Stephanie Brown were to not only go Goth but also become her nieces’ mother figure and coach as well as creating her own gym equipment and using football/soccer tactics in combat she’s practically Carol Danvers. In the sense that Carol Danvers also started out as a love interest turned female counterpart and constant punching bag until recently. (Whatever that means.)

The real icing on the top’s when Stephanie Brown scolds Tim every time he screws up or lazes around, perhaps a doable analogue to Carol Danvers taking her anger out on men who bother her a lot. This might not even be unique to those two. (Tigra’s one such example but one where given the many attempts at making her more bestial looking should get away with being this hairy and could’ve been a reliable huntress.)

I still think the comparison might hold weight should Steph ever improve big time and become a Goth. It wouldn’t be exact but it does help give an idea of how provocative reinventing Carol Danvers is.

Wolfish Escapism

Like I said, idealism involves something that’s close to but still far removed from reality as to avoid being too damning, too close for comfort. (I’ve been through it so.) If somebody were to consider dogs to be wolves (and they are) but when brought up with the recent revelation that dogs are the third worst invasive species (though that’s been long suspected, even by European hunters) it’s going to be really uncomfortable.

It’s like if some wolf fanatics don’t want to be reminded of ideas that wolves are savage predators and if dogs are also both confirmed to be wolves themselves and equally capable of predation, these are things they’re ultimately uncomfortable about. It could be about anything else really (as I know from experience). It seems my opinion about what constitutes as idealism still holds true.

Especially if it’s wanting something that is but also isn’t quite like that other thing as to keep reality at bay. That’s if the reality’s too damning.

Oddly relatable

Whilst it would be rather shocking should Stephanie Brown go Goth for good on top of being a mother figure and coach to her nieces and an excellent weightlifter herself, keep in mind it’s actually not uncommon for nerdy men to have a thing for Goths. Likewise naturally blond Goths aren’t that strange either, moreso considering that the woman behind Death is also blond herself.

If I’m not mistaken, the late Cinamon Hadley was described as having blond hair at some point or another. So it’s really not that weird for Steph to become Goth though that would mean giving some readers an idea of what Cinamon Hadley may’ve been like in person. If her mother and father expected her to repress her emotions and have her dress normally, Steph being a Goth would be shocking.

Actually it’s even less shocking since Cinamon Hadley tried to keep a cheerful attitude in her lifetime, so it’s not a stretch for Steph to do the same really. (Comes to think of it, Tim Drake is Elon Musk and Stephanie Brown is Grimes by then.) Though that would mean and necessitate a wider or more contemporary idea of what’s relatable.

Poland, where are you?

Poland did exist at some point or another before though admittedly I’m not that intimated with it. What I do know is that at some point it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth, then parts of it became part of the Russian Empire (eventually at some point, Poland became a Soviet satellite). Also part of Poland was part of the German Empire*.

It’s not that Poland culturally didn’t exist but geographically speaking, it was practically at the crossroads between (or at the mercy of) its immediate neighbours. For awhile it was part of Russia, then Germany and now on its own. Admittedly that’s almost all I know about it, pardon if I’m wrong. Though I do know Poland was at some point or another subjected to Russian and German influences so.

*If it sounds odd, the infamous porn star Peter Berlin was born there.

Things I don’t get in illustrations

Bulky werewolves: It’s like if you compare wolves to bears, the former are much more gracile (there’s a reason why among gays, the word ‘bear’ is often almost always used to refer to hairy, fat gay men). Let’s not also forget that hunter-gatherers, though fit, don’t have massive muscles either. So it seems the bulky werewolf’s bound to be ridiculous by accident, especially when compared to both actual wolves and hunter-gatherers.

Age=Height: Whilst that would be true for most of the part, however it’s also a lot more complicated. Assuming if one parent is tall and the other parent’s short, the first child’s short and the second one’s tall. So logically and parsimoniously, the younger sibling’s taller than the former. (Inevitably and usually with men, they are taller than women so an younger brother can become taller than his sister). Add in gigantism and it screws things up.

The Behavioural Biology of Dogs (Extrait/Excerpt)

The Behaviour of Feral Dogs
The behaviour and ecology of feral dogs result from the complex interaction
of a suite of biological traits which still resemble those of their ancestors (wolves),
152 L. Boitani et al.
especially concerning their ecological flexibility and the great variety of artificial
and natural environments that they can live in. Many of the ancestral traits, such
as a group-living tendency, territoriality, predatory instincts and a large degree of
ecological flexibility, are still evident in the dogs’ biology, but most of these traits
appear void of their original adaptive value and may represent ‘evolutionary
inertia’ or artificial selection epiphenomena (Boitani and Ciucci, 1995). If the
process of domestication had the effect of enhancing the behavioural and ecological flexibility that allowed dogs to survive in a wide range of semi-natural environments, it also reduced their overall fitness to cope with long-term wild habitat
conditions (Price, 1984). Feral dogs are generally not reproductively self-sustaining: they suffer from high rates of juvenile mortality; they depend indirectly upon
humans for food, co-opting new individuals, and space; and their demography
appears dominated by stochastic and unpredictable mechanisms (Boitani et al.,
1995). Most studies of feral dogs’ behaviour and ecology have been carried out on
individuals which had been feral only for a few generations, and thus these generalizations may not apply to feral dogs such as dingoes and pariah dogs, which
have been living under the effects of natural selection forces for longer periods of
time.
Social ecology
The social structure of feral dogs is an aggregation of monogamous breeding pairs
and their associates (pups and/or subadults of pair members), which is substantially different from the highly structured hierarchy of wolf packs, where dominance is respected both in terms of privilege (e.g. ‘pecking order’) and initiative
(e.g. travelling, hunting, territorial defence, reproduction, etc.) (Mech and
Boitani, 2003). Wolves’ pack size is regulated also through social control of reproducing individuals (Packard, 2003), a mechanism which is apparently absent in
dogs (Boitani et al., 1995). Intraspecific agonistic behaviour of feral dogs seems to
be restricted primarily at the individual level without extensive effects on the
social organization of the group, such as forcing a hierarchy and building a robust
cohesiveness among group members. Scott and Fuller (1965) suggested that the
agonistic behaviour of dogs toward humans is strongly influenced by their early
contacts with humans and this might be particularly relevant when interpreting
the behaviour of feral dogs recruited from the house and stray categories.
Therefore, observations of feral dog behaviour without knowledge of the complete individual history of all group members are not sufficient to understand the
causes and mechanisms of intraspecific relationships.
Members of feral dogs’ groups are generally not related (Scott and Causey,
1973; Nesbitt, 1975; Causey and Cude, 1980; Berman and Dunbar, 1983;
Daniels and Bekoff, 1989a, b; Boitani et al., 1995). The basic social unit
is the breeding pair but the social bond is only loosely extended to the rest of the
group members without the complex rules that regulate pack life in most wild
canids (Kleiman and Eisenberg, 1973; Bekoff et al., 1984; Gittleman, 1989). In
Behaviour and Social Ecology of Free-ranging Dogs 153
particular, the differences with wolf packs, which are highly cohesive one-family
units that hunt, rear young and protect a communal territory as a stable group
(Mech and Boitani, 2003), are obvious and prompted Boitani and Ciucci (1995)
to propose the term ‘group’, as more appropriate than pack, for a feral dogs’
social unit. Most studies of feral dogs found that group size ranges from two to six
animals (two to five in Alabama: Scott and Causey, 1973; two to six in Alabama:
Causey and Cude, 1980; two to four in Arizona: Daniels and Bekoff, 1989b; five
to six in Illinois: Nesbitt, 1975; three to six in Italy: Boitani et al., 1995), in contrast with the smaller social unit of neighbourhood/village dogs, which are
reported mostly in pairs or alone (see above on village/neighbourhood dogs).
Macdonald (1983) suggested that in carnivores the quantity and distribution of
food resources are the main determinants of group size. In wolves, pack size
appears to be affected primarily by prey abundance, as changes in prey availability correspond to proportional changes in pack size (Mech and Boitani, 2003). It
could be speculated that neighbourhood/village dogs would have little advantage
from living in groups because resources are more scarce and scattered than those
available to feral dogs, but also because cooperative ‘hunting’ would not be an
advantage when resources are plentiful and easy to obtain. Also, lack of natural
predators or competitors in human settings would not offer particular advantages
to larger groups of stray dogs (cf. Macdonald and Carr, 1995), a situation that
could be different in the case of feral dogs. However, even if studies with accurate
estimates of food resources were available, any attempt to draw theoretical generalizations would be little more than a speculation, as we believe that theoretical
analyses of canid evolutionary strategies are of limited value when carried out on
animals which have been living under both artificial and natural selection pressures.
Boitani et al. (1995) reported that in their study area garbage dumps supplied
food in excess during all seasons, and group size appeared to be related more to
social factors, such as group turnover, rather than ecological ones, even though
communal resource defence against wolves and other feral dog groups could have
been a factor. Although no evidence of any intrinsic regulatory mechanism was
found, the size of the feral dog group studied in Italy between 1984 and 1987
remained fairly stable (Boitani et al., 1995), and all events affecting group size
appeared mostly due to density-independent and external factors (i.e. casual
human persecution, availability of stray dogs, climatic conditions, etc.) with the
sole exception of the cooption of stray dogs into the group (see below). Mortality
of most sexually mature individuals was caused by human interference, while
newborns from feral parents contributed almost nil to long-term group stability.
Group size was maintained stable only by recruiting new members from the
village dog population; at the end of the study, all but one dog in the group were
of stray origin. Recruitment of village dogs into the feral group occurred mostly
(but not only) during the breeding period and in conjunction with the disruption
of a breeding pair. A single adult, after loosing its mate, would actively coopt
another sexually mature dog, and this new member would in turn become
socially accepted by the entire feral group. Thus, under the conditions studied by
154 L. Boitani et al.
Boitani et al. (1995) the ‘vacancy’ in a pair bond seems to be the main mechanism
triggering cooption, although more data are needed from different ecological
contexts to allow for meaningful generalizations.
One related interesting question, which remains unanswered, concerns the
mechanisms, if any, that regulate the upper limit of group size in feral dogs. It
may be speculated that given unlimited resources the lack of a firm social hierarchy and strong social bonds poses no upper limit to the number of feral dogs that
can associate in a group. However, if functionality (in hunting, territorial defence,
offspring care, etc.) is a prerequisite for the existence of an effective unit, then an
upper limit appears to be naturally imposed by the costs of enduring effective
cooperation. Since dogs form less efficient functional units compared to wolves,
this might in part explain the smaller size of feral dog groups (Scott and Causey,
1973; Nesbitt, 1975; Causey and Cude, 1980; Daniels and Bekoff, 1989b; Boitani
and Ciucci, 1995; Boitani et al., 1995). Moreover, the social structure of feral dogs
may not allow for an efficient density-dependent mechanism of population regulation in relation to environmental and ecological conditions, making feral dog
groups more susceptible to stochastic events and limiting factors. Even when predictable and abundant food resources are available to feral dogs, the higher
number of females reproducing per group, with their di-oestrous cycle and overall
negative energetic balance, the lack of non-reproducing ‘auxiliaries’, and the high
pup/juvenile mortality all interact to determine low recruitment rates and to
maintain group size through external recruitment. In feral dogs, therefore, group
size and composition appear to be a function of food abundance and availability
of potentially cooptable village dogs at the lower end and, at the other extreme,
of individual dogs’ physiology and social behaviour, which hardly translates into
functional and cohesive larger groups.
Home-range and territoriality
Feral dogs spend most of their life within well-defined home-ranges whose internal portions (core areas) are often defended against intruders, although their territorial behaviour is highly variable depending on several environmental and
human-related causes (Scott and Causey, 1973; Causey and Cude, 1980; Gipson,
1983; Daniels and Bekoff, 1989a; Boitani et al., 1995; Meek, 1999). Home-range
sizes obtained by radio-telemetry studies range from 4.4–10.4 km2 for three
groups in east-central Alabama (Scott and Causey, 1973), to 18.7 km2 in Alabama
(Causey and Cude, 1980), 57.8 km2 in central Italy (Boitani et al., 1995) and 70
km2 in Alaska (Gipson, 1983). Home-range size does not appear to be closely
related to group size, but rather is dependent on the spatial patterns of key
resource sites, such as denning areas, refuge areas, garbage dumps and other food
sources. Dogs may show seasonal variations in patterns of range utilization, using
smaller portions at different times. Daniels and Bekoff (1989a) and Scott and
Causey (1973) related these core-area variations to the presence of dependent
pups and to different energetic requirements of the group. In contrast, Boitani
Behaviour and Social Ecology of Free-ranging Dogs 155
et al. (1995) found that several other factors could possibly be involved in shifting
of the core areas within the home-range: the exploitation of temporary food
resources (i.e. a large livestock carrion), disturbance caused by humans, denning
activities, previous spatial-use patterns of newly recruited dogs, unpredictable
fluctuation in food availability at dumps, and possible interference by wolves. In
the same study, it was suggested that shifting of core areas and seasonal ranges
were not necessarily only a consequence of direct environmental changes, in fact
previous knowledge of the area by a new member of the group could affect the
entire group’s spatial behaviour.
Home-range sizes tend to become smaller in neighbourhood/village dogs
living closer to or within areas inhabited by humans (from 2–11 ha up to 61 ha)
(Beck, 1973; Fox et al., 1975; Berman and Dunbar, 1983; Daniels, 1983a;
Santamaria et al., 1990), confirming that predictability and quantity of food
sources as well as small group sizes are among the determinants of ranging behaviour. In feral dogs, home-ranges, or parts of them, especially core areas, food
sources and den sites, are actively defended using scent marking, vocalizations
(barking) and aggressive behaviour. Both Macdonald and Carr (1995) and
Boitani et al. (1995) reported for the same study area in central Italy that defensive behaviour was consistently shown within the entire core areas and during the
whole year. The higher frequency of territorial behaviour found in Italy compared to other studies (Scott and Fuller, 1965; Bekoff, 1979; Berman and Dunbar,
1983; Boitani and Racana, 1984; Daniels and Bekoff, 1989a) might be related to
a higher level of integration within the group, a higher degree of isolation from
other dogs, and to food resources being concentrated mostly in localized patches
at the dumps. In addition, an unknown effect might be due to the typical range
defending behaviour of the Maremma dog, a large guarding dog breed which was
the dominant type of that feral group (Boitani et al., 1995). Interspecific territorial
behaviour among wild canids is known to occur (e.g. coyote–wolf, fox–coyote)
and it should be expected in dogs and wolves that share the same ranges. In
central Italy, dogs and wolves share an almost identical niche and compete for the
same food resources (Boitani, 1983), but their territories only partially overlap
(Boitani et al., 1995). In Abruzzo, the territorial core-areas of feral dogs were
closer to human settlements where wolf presence was lowest, and they were
located in the interstice between two neighbouring wolf territories (Boitani et al.,
1995). These observations suggest that wolves in that particular area might have
been an important component in shaping feral dogs’ territory and in determining
its location in relation to human settings.
In contrast to house and village dogs, feral dogs are most definitively active
during nocturnal and crepuscular periods with a clear tendency for a bimodal
activity pattern, similar to other wild canids (Perry and Giles, 1971; Scott and
Causey, 1973; Causey and Cude, 1980; Boitani and Racana, 1984; Daniels and
Bekoff, 1989a; Boitani et al., 1995). Nevertheless, Nesbitt (1975) and Boitani et al.
(1995) found that dogs could also travel during daytime, when human presence
and interference is low, suggesting that feral dogs adopt nocturnal habits essentially to avoid, or minimize, human contacts. However, a great variety of wild
156 L. Boitani et al.
carnivores show a bimodal pattern of activity, and it has been hypothesized that
this innate behavioural trait is independent from environmental pressures and has
not been altered to a great extent by artificial selection on dogs.
Food sources, hunting and predation
Given their social structure and their adaptability to a variety of habitats, it seems
obvious to expect that feral dogs would display a diversified feeding ecology and
include a wide range of food items in their diet. While in wolves the social structure of packs integrates all members in an efficient hunting unit, in feral dog
groups leadership is more questionable and social bonds among individuals are
more flexible, which might contribute to the inefficiency of feral dogs as predators compared to their wild canine counterparts (Scott and Causey, 1973; Nesbitt,
1975; Causey and Cude, 1980; Daniels and Bekoff, 1989b; Boitani et al., 1995;
Macdonald and Carr, 1995; Butler et al., 2004). A variety of other factors can
influence their feeding behaviour, such as group size and breed types, relative
abundance and accessibility of wildlife and livestock, the level of human control
and the availability of garbage dumps and alternate food sources easy to exploit.
Group members’ cultural traditions might also exert great influence on the
group’s feeding behaviour, determining hunting attitudes and ability as well as
prey-type preference.
Feral dogs have long been accused of preying on wildlife and livestock and
causing serious damage in a variety of geographic areas (see review in Boitani and
Ciucci, 1995), but the supporting evidence is surprisingly scarce. Several studies
(e.g. Scott and Causey, 1973; Nesbitt, 1975; Boitani et al., 1995) failed to document livestock depredation in spite of free-ranging livestock available to feral dogs
in most of the study areas. Instead, as documented by Boitani et al. (1995) and
Nesbitt (1975), livestock depredations were caused by free-ranging neighbourhood/village/stray dogs. Further evidence has been obtained to support feral
dogs’ predation on wildlife (i.e. deer, wild boar, hare, rabbit, etc.), although all
studies failed to document any serious impact on wildlife populations (Perry and
Giles, 1971; Scott and Causey, 1973; Gipson and Sealander, 1977; Causey and
Cude, 1980; Federoff et al., 1994; Boitani et al., 1995; Herranz et al., 2000; Rouys
and Theuerkauf, 2003; Butler et al., 2004). In Zimbabwe, Butler and du Toit
(2002) found that dogs were primarily scavengers of human waste and animal carcasses, roaming into nature reserves and outcompeting other wild scavengers.
Although predation on deer and boar populations might be of little management
significance, feral dogs have been reported to prey on many endangered and rare
species, causing serious conservation concerns: marine iguanas in the Galápagos
Islands (Kruuk and Snell, 1981; Barnett and Rudd, 1983); capybaras in
Venezuela’s llanos (Macdonald, 1981); Indian porcupines in India (Chhangani,
2003); leatherback turtles on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian
Ocean (Andrews and Shanker, 2003); mountain gazelles in central Arabia
(Dunham, 2001); and sable antelopes in Africa (Dott, 1986). Finally, in one report
Behaviour and Social Ecology of Free-ranging Dogs 157
Kamler et al. (2003) observed three feral dogs successfully attacking and killing a
coyote, perhaps during an interspecific territorial dispute.
On the basis of all reviewed studies it seems reasonable to conclude that feral
dogs show a generally low predatory attitude, a low kill rate (efficiency of predation), have potential limits in prey size and are indirectly dependent on humans
for food. Notwithstanding the inherent weaknesses of their predatory behaviour,
feral dogs can be a serious nuisance to local farmers and a threat to protected
wildlife despite efforts to control their numbers, especially in protected areas
(Johnson, 2002).
Breeding, denning and parental care
Of all traits affected by artificial selection, reproduction has been strongly manipulated to increase reproductive potential and to shorten generation time in dogs
(Boitani and Ciucci, 1995). In the feral group studied by Boitani et al. (1995), all
females reproduced giving the group full potential for demographic increase.
Domestic dogs usually breed twice a year with little or no seasonal patterns, but
feral dogs tend to concentrate their oestrus cycles in the spring in northern temperate environments (Gipson, 1972; Daniels and Bekoff, 1989b), and in the
autumn, or post-monsoon period, in India (Chawla and Reece, 2002; Pal, 2003).
Boitani et al. (1995) found on average 7.3 months (range 6.5–10 months) between
oestrus periods; 50% of births occurred during February–May, whereas the
others were scattered during the rest of the year. The spring peak of births is
common and has obvious adaptive value among wild canids and many other
wildlife species in the northern hemisphere. In feral dogs it might just be the
remnant of an ancestral endogenous reproductive rhythm without any current
adaptive value. More interesting is the lack of synchronization of the breeding
females in the feral group found by Boitani et al. (1995), and the casual distribution throughout the year of the other ‘non-spring’ oestrus cycles, which might be
resulting from artificial selection and disconnecting reproductive rhythms from
natural photoperiod synchronization and social control (but see Macdonald and
Carr, 1995).
In the same study, there was no indication of communal care of litters by the
group and all females reared their pups alone, although they were often visited by
other group members. Females located their dens near the group’s traditional
core areas and spent most of their time at the den but frequently visited the closest
feeding sources. Even though food was abundant throughout the denning period,
the lack of group members’ support, in terms of vigilance and protection of the
pups, during the mothers’ frequent absences might have contributed to the high
rate of infant mortality due to predation (Boitani et al., 1995). Daniels (1988) and
Daniels and Bekoff (1989b) reported that breeding females split from the group,
denned and reared pups in isolation, though in the vicinity of the group.
Alloparental care seems to be an adaptive behaviour in many social wild canids
because it relieves the female from the burden of caring for her pups alone and it
158 L. Boitani et al.
may increase protection from intruders and predators. Dogs appear to be the only
canids without any form of paternal care (Macdonald and Carr, 1995), although
Malm (1995) found that a substantial proportion of family-owned male dogs participate in caring for the pups, mainly by providing regurgitated food.
Domestication and human assistance to reproduction might have played a significant role in altering parental behaviours as well as eliminating most of the social
control on reproduction within the group.
In feral dogs, litter sizes range from 3.6 pups/litter (n = 11, Boitani et al.,
1995) to 5.5 pups/litter (n = 17, Macdonald and Carr, 1995), but pup survival
rates are very low. Boitani et al. (1995) found that out of 40 pups, 28 (70%) died
within 70 days of birth, nine (22.5%) died within 120 days, one (2.5%) within 1
year, and only two (5%) survived the age of 1 year. Similar results have been
obtained from other studies (Scott and Causey, 1973; Nesbitt, 1975; Daniels and
Bekoff, 1989b; Macdonald and Carr, 1995). Most mortality seems to occur
during the period of early independence and may be due to: (i) the absence of
communal helping and increased risks of predation when pups are left unattended, and when they begin to explore the areas surrounding the den site; (ii) a
lowered maternal interest in offspring as the mother enters a new oestrus cycle; or
(iii) hostile environmental conditions for litters born in periods other than spring
or early summer. In short, the reproductive traits selected in domestic dogs are of
low adaptive value back in the wild, where feral dogs suffer from a very inefficient
reproductive mechanism, which tries to maximize production while minimizing
newborn and juvenile survival (often less than 5% surviving to 1 year of age) to
the point that feral populations appear unable to sustain themselves. In central
Italy, the feral dogs in Boitani et al.’s (1995) study could not have maintained their
numbers without continuously recruiting new group members from neighbourhood/village/stray dogs’ populations.
Finally, a curious and so far unexplained aspect of feral dogs’ demography is
the often reported highly skewed sex ratio in favour of males. While in village
dogs there might be an important effect of selective removal of females, in feral
dogs it is difficult to expect a differential mortality rate for the two sexes outside
artificial human interference. Boitani et al. (1995) found the overall litter composition highly skewed in favour of males (3.2:1) compared to the female-biased
adult sex ratio, but they could not provide any conclusive explanation for the possible reasons of higher female survival rates.