Friday, June 12, 2015

World’s strongest and fastest animal!

Copepod is the world’s strongest and fastest animal. Copepods usually travel in groups, they are small crustaceans found in the ocean. They are about 1-mm long. They can jump at a rate of half a meter per second. They are over ten times stronger than any other known species on the planet. They are also stronger than any mechanical motor produced to date. If you were to have the skill sets of this animal, you would be able to jump about a half a mile in one second. 


The Honey Bee Dance

Honey Bees dance when they are directing their fellow bees to a certain location, for example locations where food can be found or a new home. This is known as the waggle dance. There was a study done where the only source of food for a colony was placed on the far side of a mountain. The bees could not fly over the mountain. But, when they communicated where the food was to be found, they used the angle across the mountain relative to themselves to get to the food. More studies have shown that bees have the ability to take into account the roundness of the earth and they include this information is their waggle dances. 


Body language originates from animal communication

The origin of body language comes from animals. The relation of body language to animal communication has often been discussed because body language is a product of both genetic and environmental influences. For example the genetic makeup of humans causes blind people to smile and laugh in a funny situation even though they have never seen a smile. Animals’ ideal way of communication compared to humans is completely different. But animals do have perks, for example when participating in a group conversation there is only one person speaking whereas when humans are in a group conversation they may be multiple interruptions because it’s verbal.

Are we taking animals for granted!?

I found this posted at the college ten bus stop. It quotes “The animals of this world are not here for human purposes any more than women are here for men, or blacks for whites.” The first part of the quote illustrates that us humans take animals for granted. We use them as resources and make materialistic items out of scavenging them. This quote in a way reinforces the unspoken act of using animals in order to acquire a better lifestyle. This issue is still concurrent in this day and age. The second and final part of the quote relates this issue to similar issues that are mainly subjected to humans. This as a result provokes the thought and awareness of not taking anything for granted.

Orcas hunting a crab-eater seal.


Orcas are really amazing animals. This video shows them working together to hunt a crab eater seal. It is hypothesized that they do this to teach younger calves to hunt. They are working together to dislodge a crab-eater seal (which is a pretty cool animal).

Crab-eater seals don't actually eat crabs. They mainly feed on krill. They have these awesome teeth that allow them to filter out the water when they are feeding.

Dolphins can't breath automatically!

My friend was telling me some interesting facts about animals. He shared an interesting fact about dolphins; I thought I would share it. Dolphins don't breathe automatically, it's always consciously done. This is fascinating because they have to be conscious to control their breathing. This means they can never truly be unconscious, so when they sleep they must still have some level of consciousness. Being mammals their brains do need to enter a type of unconsciousness every so often in order to function properly. Dolphins have evolved and learned how to put one half of their brains to sleep while the other half is still conscious and active. They enter and stay in this state roughly about eight hours a day. As a result they are still conscious to control their breathing and go to the surface of the water to breathe.   

Shark Files

A Southern California beach just recently started utilizing a drone to spot if there are any sharks near the area. Usually when they assume a shark is nearby they send a lifeguard out on a jetski to see what's going on, but now they have been trying out this drone and the results are much faster. Normally when a lifeguard goes out on a jetski the time it takes for all the procedures to go through is often hours long. With the drone it only takes about 20 minutes and they are able to take motion pictures and even determine the size of the sharks. Technology these days is so incredible in the things it allows us to do.

http://news.discovery.com/animals/sharks/shark-files-drone-spots-great-whites-off-calif-beach-150610.htm

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Domesticity and Mindfullness

There has been a majority of the course material which I feel has diverted away from focusing on domestic animals and the ways we may interact with them in our homes. Upon arriving home, I am more aware of the anthropocentrism many owners go through. The course has led me to be mindful of our interaction with animals. It is said that human interaction with infants and toddlers can have a significant impact as they grow into adulthood. Domestic animals could carry the same standard of emotional response. Animals brought up in class such as bonobos, wolves, crows, etc. -- a multitude of animals we do not regularly interact with or see in the home space -- don't experience the same level of human interaction than dogs or cats. I've reinforced the idea (by taking this lecture that we are more distinct from animals than the obvious language differences). But perhaps domestic animals can share similar spectrums of emotions as human beings.
Albeit within this video, YouTube comments may claim a scientific explanation for the noises the dog is making. It is a more likely claim for me to believe that the dog is mourning over the loss of its owner. It's important to realize that many of the domestic relationships we carry with pets are (as all of our other relationships are) an extension of ourselves.

Animals seeing themselves in the mirror

My friend sent me this video randomly on Facebook and I thought it was cool enough to share. What stood out to me the most was how all the animals (except the elephant?) had a reaction to seeing themselves in the mirror. However, I don't think they understood that they were seeing reflections of themselves. The gorilla's reaction was the most entertaining, he saw his reflection as a threat more so than the other animals did. Also what I find interesting is that my pet cat doesn't have any reaction when she sees herself in the mirror, and she doesn't like other cats. I don't know how to explain that though. Do your pets notice themselves in the mirror?

Here's the video, I encourage you to watch it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaMylwohL14

Eating Animals

At the beginning of the summer, I always like to think about what books to read for fun between June and September, when I'm not swamped with assigned readings for class. After having taken this class, I'd like to read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I've read and really enjoyed two of his other books, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything Is Illuminated, so I think it'll be interesting to see what Foer thinks about eating animals and vegetarianism. The summary on the book's website says Foer swung between omnivore and vegetarian until his son was born, at which point he became more concerned with issues of animal welfare/rights since he was now responsible for making food choices for another person. It looks like a fun read!

Bees!

Bees are one of the most important parts of our ecosystem. We rely on them to pollinate plants, and of course to produce honey. Sadly, in recent years, we've seen the worldwide bee population drastically decrease. Environmentalists and lawmakers have taken steps to address this issue, but many critics argue the steps taken thus far have not been enough. An article from NPR.org called "Pollinator Politics: Environmentalists Criticize Obama Plan To Save Bees" (http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/05/20/408017267/pollinator-politics-environmentalists-criticize-obama-plan-to-save-bees) reports on this problem. The Obama administration plans to "restore 7 million acres of bee-friendly habitat that have been lost to urbanization, development, and farming," but critics say this isn't enough. Environmentalists are calling for increased limits on pesticides to save bee lives. Hopefully the two sides will come to an agreement and take steps to effectively restore the bee population!

Baby Goats

Here's a link to a really cute video of baby goats wearing sweaters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyL7L4J-M4s

After the stress of finals week, it's great to watch some videos of adorable animals--or better yet, to interact with them in person! It's incredible what a therapeutic effect animals can have on us. I know whenever I hang out with pets or other animals I feel so much more relaxed. I wonder what the psychological reason behind this might be? There must be studies done on this topic, it would be interesting to read about them!

Chimps Go Bananas For Booze

I read a really interesting article on NPR.org today called "Like Us, Chimps Go Bananas For Booze," by Nadia Whitehead. Here's the link: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/10/413169586/like-us-chimps-go-bananas-for-booze

The article discusses how chimpanzees in the village of Bossou, Guinea, drink a special kind of wine found in the wild. This wine is created naturally when tree sap from the raffia plant ferments. Villagers noticed this occurrence, and started leaving out open containers of this special wine, which the chimpanzees would grab when they thought the coast was clear.

Researchers aren't sure whether the chimps drink this wine for its sweet taste, or to get a little drunk. They think it's probably some combination of the two. I thought this story showed an interesting link between animals and humans. Chimpanzees are so similar to us that they even like to drink alcohol too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Blackfish

Blackfish is a power documentary that exposes the condition of orcas in SeaWorld. Orca were once hunted and captured by humans. Being separated from its family and natural habitat the orcas got lonely, frustrated, confused as they were kept in confined isolated tanks. They are forced to swim and perform tricks for tourists enjoyment. Even though they are  treated well by their trainers, living in a confined space physically and mentally affected them as they got bully by other orca, became sad, lonely and even killed humans. These orca should not be living in tanks of water, they should be the ocean where they can freely roam around and be with their family. I recommend you guys watch this documentary. You should be able to watch it on Netflix.

The Bizarre Truth About Purebred Dogs


While surfing through youtube, I found a funny video call The Bizarre Truth About Purebred Dogs created by CollegeHumor. The video talks about how purebred dogs even though cute and good looking they have a very high chance of have a genetic disease due the why they are breed. This is caused by humans forcing dogs to inbreed because of popular demand from people who would pay good money to own one. By do so most of dog that are inbred are not healthy and have genetic disorders or disease. Unfortunately these dog don't have any say on who they want to mate with as the choice is made by the animal breeder/owner. To me creating purebred dogs is some what like animal cruelty or abuse.

Animal Intelligence

Today while scrolling through tumblr, I found a blog post that really made me think about this class. The post stated "It bothers me that the intelligence of animals is measured by how willing they are to obey the commands of a human." Though this is only an opinion, I thought it really highlighted the way humans determine if an animal is intelligent. For example, animals such Koko the gorilla are highly intelligent and are able to communicate using human language and symbols. However, researchers looked poorly on her intelligence because she was not able to hold a conversation that made sense. Here, the researchers are basing Koko's intelligence on her ability to communicate with humans and respond the way they want her to. However, no matter her ability to communicate with us, Koko is still highly intelligent compared to other gorillas. I believe that when we measure an animal's intelligence, we should base it on how smart they are compared to their own species instead of comparing them to humans. Humans believe they have a superiority over animals, so when we measure their intelligence compared to us we are always going to believe that we are the smartest.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"My Bionic Pet"

Hello Everyone!

Not too long ago, PBS premiered this special called My Bionic Pet.  It's a truly cute and heartfelt mini-documentary about animals left disabled without fins, flippers, beaks, or tails due to disease, accidents, or even human cruelty, and how they get a second-chance at life thanks to amazing advancements in engineering and technology to create prosthetics for these animals.

This PBS special exemplifies the sort of human and nonhuman-animal relationship that we have discussed this quarter.  This shows how the science that is helping benefit humans is also helping benefit animals; whereas most of the time humans use science to exploit and conduct scientific experimentation on animals.

I hope you take a glimpse at it while taking that study break; it will help destress!  But it also might melt your heart!

Best,
Cosme

Pegasus the Rescue Dog

A South African filmmaker rescued a Great Dane puppy, but the people he was rescuing her from told him that she would not live for very long. Her siblings were either deformed or died nearly after being born. Her owner took a chance on her because everyone including animals deserves a chance. Who are we to judge when someone or something's life should come to an end?

Her owner, Dave Meinert, made a timelapse video of Pegasus. We are able to see the transformation of the beautiful pup within a period of 6 months, and she is growing strong. The breeders said she would not live very long, and if he did take her in she would go deaf and blind. The video is called "The Pegasus Project," and it is pretty incredible transformation to watch. Meinert said, "I still don't know how long she is going to live, but right now it's going pretty great."

http://abc7.com/pets/video-watch-as-this-puppy-grows-up-before-your-eyes-/716731/



This news story was posted Tuesday, May 12, 2015.

Prof. Williams

I wanted to show an example of a positive relationship between scientists/researchers and animals. In our class we focused more on  how animals were exploited and harmed for scientific purposes. Professor Williams is very passionate about her work, animals, and conservation. She is a great example of a scientists who values the lives of animals and wants to work with them, instead of exploiting them. This a great video and you also get to see several adorable animals (that are housed in the long marine labs)!

Monday, June 8, 2015

How Animals Eat Their Food


If you haven't seen this video yet, you're welcome.  We've discussed in section human's conceptualizing what the perspective of an animal based purely off of our interpretation of them.
(Black Beauty, Temple Grandin, Axolotl, etc.)  This video is a slightly exaggerated version of that topic in how these guys say animals indeed eat their food.  One of the exercises we did in section was to imagine we were an animal and what would be do with the knowledge of that animal.  I think an interesting concept in reverse to this video would be how animals think people eat their food.  Of course its not possible for non human animals to create a video like that alone but how do you think it would be constructed?  Also if animals were to understand this video do you think they would agree with the ways that these men interpret how animals eat their food?  Not only is this video hilarious but after talking about animal perspectives in class I view this video in a different way and it makes me think.

Autism and Animals


I came across this article discussing whether or not people with autism think in similar ways that animals do.  We discussed in section about Temple Grandin and her claim that being autistic allows her to share a strong empathy with animals and understand them better then those without autism.  As I mentioned in class, my younger brother Ryan has aspergers (autism) and he never seemed to express a similar connection with animals as Grandin did.  Prior to reading this article I did not agree with her claim that autistic people think similarly to animals because that's a very broad statement and there are different severities to autism.  I do think its possible for Grandin to be able to do so but I think autistic people are all very different and use their minds in different ways.  Grandin's main focus just happens to be animals.  The author addresses a case study done that actually disagree with Grandin's claim and say, "You may find some animals are autistic but it's not characteristic of animals in general."
The author also addresses contradiction in Grandin's claims about lacking verbal language which I also agree with because obviously she doesn't have problems speaking at all, just expressing herself.

White God: Dogs and their relationship with us

So I think Professor Freccero briefly mentioned this movie in class many weeks ago, but I thought I would leave a link here!

The movie White God came out this year, and it is about a girl and her dog. The girl moves in with new family member (for reasons I don't know yet, as I have not seen the movie), and with her comes her dog. The issue is that the dog is a mixed breed, and in the country that the girl lives in, a mixed breed dog is illegal. As a result, the family member dumps the dog on the street, and the girl is heartbroken. We then see this dog and other mutts, and how they are treated in this city (I believe it is somewhere in France). The dog gets captured, and begins to lead a revolt in the pound. The commercial ends with the girl looking on at her dog, who is flanked by a dog army.

I found it so interesting how there was discrimination within the dog breed community. I know that dogs such as pitbulls have a bad stereotype for being aggressive, but I had no idea that mixed breed dogs were ever an issue. I myself have a mixed breed dog, and could never imagine having to give her up because I don't exactly know where her bloodline is from. I also find it interesting that this dog is able to lead a massive doggy revolt. Can animals revolt? Its interesting that this movie is giving dogs such a traditionally human activity, for humans rally and make their opinions heard. A newscaster in the movie even says that "these dogs aren't acting like animals anymore, but in a well-organized manner". What if the dogs of the world thought "enough."? I guess thats what this movie is here to answer:


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Saigas

Hi everyone,

For my final paper, I read an article about a strange epidemic among saigas that killed 120,000 of them in April. It's a really interesting article, here's the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/02/science/saiga-antelope-mystery-disease-die-off.html?ref=science&_r=0

Saigas are really cool animals. They're a type of antelope, and live in Central Asia. Sadly, they're also critically endangered. Hopefully scientists figure out what's going on soon!

Animal Super Heroes

Throughout childhood I developed a liking to various cartoons... a lot of them had fake, animated violence like DC Comics-type stories or Marvel...

Well, after looking back I had a realization that many of these super heroes in these books often infuse with an animal: Cat Woman, Spider Man, Bat Man, etc. (not literally fuse).

Additionally, there were different shows as well: Jungle Boy (infused with what looked like a monkey-like animal), Aqua Man (the fish-man), and more obviously...

So my over-arching question is: Why does American society (specifically, along with others as well) decide to create "power" or "super-power" out of human-animal infusion? 

What about these animals, these "lesser" species (how we would consider them intelligence-wise) causes us to believe that ultimate and unbeatable power comes from them?

FOR EXAMPLE:

Cat-Woman... so after gaining similar qualities of a cat this woman becomes more powerful
Spider-man... so after gaining similar qualities of a spider this man becomes super powerful

The list goes on, however, why is it that humans view these animals (ultimately) as lesser of a species, but more powerful than them?


Ideally (in my head), if somebody asked me "What would you fuse with in order to gain super powers?" I would answer a Greek God, an Indian God, a Roman God, any God.... Any Super-Human that I can think of that carries powerful, unrealistic abilities but still has the same mental capacity and cognition as I do.

Since our history shows a fusion with animals, I continue to assume that humans distinguish the useful skills and aspects of creatures other than ourselves. Such as a cat having balance or a spider being able to spin webs... If we believe that animals such as cats and spiders are powerful only because they have acquired skills humans cannot fathom to obtain, then maybe animals believe we are only powerful because we have acquired some skills they cannot fathom to obtain. So this posts leads me to this: are creatures on this Earth only valued upon what each specifically can bring to this world? Such as humans can talk, spiders can spin webs, birds can fly, and cats can balance. Even the Werewolf is seen as a mythical creature that, usually, obtains intangible amounts of power and speed. These distinguishable notes in comics and cartoons lets us question whether the creators meant to say: Humans would be even better if they got some useful skills from other Animals OR humans will always be better than all other animals and these (ones given to the hero) are the only useful skills out of these animals that matter. Believing these animals have minimal meaning or skills contributes to our issues with cruelty and more. Maybe we were taught to think that eating animals and doing testing on them was okay because of ideas like these that were abstractly given to us as children.

Shmeat!

I previously figured out what this invention was when i took BME-80G!

It is called Shmeat: short for Shit Meat (sorry for the word use)... I'm not completely sure why they called it this -- the name isn't very relevant.

Anyways, this Shmeat is a new lab grown meat that takes some type of cow serum, uses stem cells from cows, and recreates meat.

These pieces of meat are grown in petri dishes using in vitro fertilization: a method used to reproduce stem cells outside of a body.

Long story short: Researchers have figured a way to grow a piece of meat like this (and this technology is only becoming more efficient and more cost-efficient).

Although Shmeat may take a couple of years or even a decade to hit the food markets, the possibilities this meat brings is immense!

When you don't kill animals for their meat, but still have meat!?!?! Does this mean vegans will continue to be "vegan" when they eat Shmeat? Will vegans go down? Will meat eating be for everyone (and not just the high-class, white males -- according to Carol J. Adams). Will this kill the idea of moral righteousness as it pertains to consuming meats? Who knows... However, what is clear ALREADY is this:

from meat to Shmeat =

45% overall less energy use, 99% land use, 96% water use, and 96% greenhouse gas emissions! (this is pertinent to the production of meat vs. Shmeat not in the entire world).

Also, we can take out bacteria and disease that could lay waste to the meat we eat today!

All we need is time now. Maybe there is hope for animals and humans to live happily together while we still eat them!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Weird Animal Grooming

I don't know if you have seen the pictures lately of the Japanese grooming thats been done on poodles to make their fur in the shape of a square, but hold onto your seats folks because here is something that is even more ridiculous:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2529806/Extreme-dog-styling-sees-poodles-coiffed-Bart-Simpson-Japanese-geisha-Batman-creative-pet-grooming-world-championships.html


Now, as crazy as these pictures of grooming may be, i find it quite difficult to stop myself from asking "Why?". It's sad to think that we are putting these animals under this form of humiliation and using them as our own personal canvases in order to pursue our own artistic desires. Not only are we shaving them, but we're dyeing their coats and gluing things onto their bodies, which i doubt is even good for them, and for what? To compete against other artistically competitive pet groomers? This just adds to the fact that we treat animals in any way that we choose because they are not required to give us consent, but i highly doubt that they would be willing to allow us to do this to them. It's as if we are just using them for our own fulfillment and satisfaction, and that's just wrong. I'm curious to see what you all think about the pictures!

Hunting in Red Dead Redemption


Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption is often described as "Grand Theft Auto with cowboys", and attempts to provide gamers with an experience of life in the Old West that is unashamedly theatrical. An in-game toggle option turns all of your equipment into solid gold, and the word "pard'ner" is used liberally enough throughout the dialogue to sour the roof of the mouth; however, the game does not shy away from realistic depictions of violence.

Poaching is a performable action in Red Dead Redemption: the game takes place in a vast simulated tract of the American West, and multiple species of traditional "game" animals as well as Western icons like wild broncos, buffalo and rattlesnakes populate the wilderness. Animals may be killed with any weapon, with no in-game penalty or restrictions imposed on the quantity of animals hunted or the manner in which you hunt them. The game does award benefits for poaching, as the skins and meat of animals you kill may be sold at the general store in towns for cash. After being in this class and thinking about animals from a nonhumanist perspective for more than two months, I personally believe that recreational hunting has no place in a game that may potentially be played by children; however, it is important to remember that within the context of the time period when the narrative takes place, hunters and trappers had a unique societal role. They were often among the first white settlers expanding the western frontier, and subsisted by selling the furs of animals that they caught/killed in towns; that the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption may hunt or poach in the simulated environment of the game for an in-game currency reward closely mirrors this. However, from my own experience the activity serves no real purpose: the game rewards the completion of in-game story missions more than generously, and there is no great incentive to hunt or perform any other act of seemingly random violence. It seems as though the game gives you the option to hunt and kill animals simply to lend more authenticity to what the game designers perceived to be an ideal representation of life in the Old West

Poaching is in essence a recreational activity within the context of the game, and I feel as though recreational hunting in reality is ideologically very similar. Hunting wild animals in the 21st century no longer serves the purpose of subsistence, and none of the hunters I've personally spoken with give subsistence as a reason when asked why it is they hunt. In the case of my roommate, hunting is an activity that facilitates a temporary altering of perspective - a brief sensory and stimulatory return to a time when natural competition and a daily struggle for survival dictated the behavior and pastimes of human beings. In my own personal experience, recreational hunting fetishizes violence, and provides a (currently) legal and socially acceptable outlet for aggressive human impulses. After taking this class, unlearning my old mental structures and perspectives regarding animals, and objectively considering the issue of recreational hunting as presented in Red Dead Redemption, I am of the opinion that the killing of animals for any reason is morally equatable with the killing of a human being for any reason. Whether animals suffer or not, whether they are as intelligent as we are or not, whether or not they feel pain, it is obvious to the unbiased and unlearned observer that animals and humans behave with a free agency indicative of consciousness as we think of it from our human perspective. The motivations of the animal may be romanticized or reduced to biological statistics, and the same is true of human beings. Animals are alive, animals want to stay alive, and by virtue of that simple fact the taking of an animal's life is fundamentally immoral by HUMAN standards. However, human beings do not exist solely in the realm of values and ideas; we are physical beings subject to physical laws and indeed the whims of our own biology. People suffering from iron-deficiency anemia, for example, pose serious risks to their health by going vegetarian or vegan, and the lifestyle of subsistence farmers in parts of the world that lack the agricultural surplus we have here in America cannot be appraised by the same standards.




Friday, June 5, 2015

Maroon 5 - Animals

Hello all. I wanted to share the Maroon 5's video of "Animals". I had not seen it before but I had heard the song. When I saw the video I related a lot of the symbolism that they used with concepts that we've discussed in lecture and class. What I thought was very interesting and what caught my eye was how the half carcass of the pig was somewhat representative of the women in the video. I could be wrong, overall I thought it was a more of funny, weird kinda video. 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=3m38s&v=qpgTC9MDx1o

Northern White Rhinos

It is very sad to me how there is only 1 male Northern White Rhino left in the world. This species is almost extinct due to poachers and natural causes. This 1 male is being guarded currently so poachers will not kill it. They currently want the rhino to start breeding to bring the population back up but this 1 male rhino might be too old to breed on its own. It is crazy how much bad things humans can do. How would poachers feel if another human poached them for their skin. At least that human has a chance to run away or defend them self somehow before they get poached. Not like animals though. All animals are vulnerable against guns because they do not know what it is. No more poaching!

Teacup Dogs

Animal abuse comes in many different forms, even if it is unintentionally. Have you ever heard of the teacup dogs? Well, if not, these dogs are tiny dogs that can fit in a teacup, hence the name. They generally weight two to four pounds, and they never usually live past three or four years old. The fact that people breed dogs in order to end up this way is cruel and terrible, almost terrifying if thought about more deeply. Teacup dogs are created when puppies are born prematurely and malnourished, but why? Small dogs that can fit in the palm of your hand are popular and adorable according to some owners. But these dogs face problems with their heart and digestion.
Cute, but unnecessary. If you want a dog or any type of, you should love him or her regardless of looks and size!

Anthropomorphism and Cats

After reading Black Beauty, I recall that my sister read a book when she was in elementary school that also tried to portray the world through an animal's point of view. I decided to take a quick look at it as it was related to our course. It was called Warriors, and it gave us the authors' take on the wild cats' thoughts and actions. It was an interesting view on how wild cats saw us, and it was actually quite amusing to see the animals refer to us as "nofurs." But it was actually slightly sad to see them portray us creatures destroy anything and everything precious to them which isn't actually wrong at all. And in the end, scientists have come to a conclusions that cats do not see as a different species. Cats actually view us as giant, clumsy furless cats.

And I have come to conclusion that it was book with an interesting point of view.


Advertising meat through farms

For example some farms advertised their meat through commercials or documentaries. Some people who work at farm manipulate their audience into believing that their chickens are well taken care of. I feel like we as the audience believe mostly everything the farmers are saying because in the documentary or commercial there is lovely guitar music playing in the background. Of course most of the audience is going to believe a happy advertiser. It is just crazy to me how a lot of people would lie in public through media just to sell a product and gain money.

Animal Abuse and the Public's Response

After watching the Animal Liberation Front's video during class, I came to remember that I actually went to watch an animals' rights video during winter quarter with a friend. It was an interesting documentary, and I actually was too horrified to watch certain parts of it due to its graphic content. What was strange was that the people who were hosting this event paid each person who attended the movie five dollars. When thinking about it, most people generally do not want to watch the abuse of animals hence the people paying people to watch the movie. It makes me wonder why we allow animal abuse to continue when we barely can watch it.

Here's the full documentary if you're interested!


Different animals taste like chicken

A lot of people love to eat chickens! The chicken industry has produced over a million chickens a week. That is a lot of chickens! There are many other animal species that taste like chicken as well. Like I've heard some people say that alligator tastes like chicken. Anthony Bourdain (a man who travels the world to try different foods) he said in one of his shows that Armadillo tastes like chicken. I have tried rabbit before and it tasted like chicken. If all of these different animals taste like chicken why do we slaughter so many chickens? Why can't we eat the animal species that taste like chicken? I would say it is probably because the population of the other animal species is very low compared to the population of chickens. Maybe one day someone will find a recipe that just contains plants, that will taste like chicken. Then we can stop slaughtering all chickens!

Documentary called The Cove

There was this documentary I saw the other day on Netflix called The Cove. It was about these scientists who are activists who travel to Japan to document how people there slaughter dolphins. And also to document how in Japan they sell whale and dolphin meat at stores. It was very heartbreaking to watch. I had to close my eyes a couple of times because I couldn't bare to watch them slaughter the dolphins and watch them suffer. At the same time though watching this documentary helped me understand that some Americans are similar Japanese people. In Japan it is normal for them to eat whales and dolphins like its normal for us in the US to eat cows, chickens, and pigs. Yeah most Americans might be against eating dolphins and whales but we shouldn't judge them if that is what Japanese people grew up eating.

Plants are alive as well

The reason why some people become vegetarian is because they are against eating animals. Yes animals have similar physical features like humans. They are alive with a heart, brain, and other organs as humans have. They can feel emotion like we can as well. It makes perfect sense to feel terrible to eat any sort of meat from an animal but shouldn't we also feel terrible about eating plants. Plants are alive as well, they just have different physical and emotional features than humans or animals do. They are a different species but they still have feelings. They just demonstrate their feelings in a different way. A way that might not be visible to us. But see if we don't eat plants or animals what is left to eat? Everyone has to live somehow.

Take a break from finals! Cat video!

Hi all,

Clearly, I'm not quite studying for finals, but I did come across a fairly entertaining cat video on youtube and decided that I should share with all ya'll so we can destress together.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tzhyfWHdLo

Anyhow, of course, this video is adorable, but I also thought that it was interesting in terms of anthropomorphization. I found that the humor that is depicted in these videos are most effective when the viewers anthropomorphize the cats as behaving congruent to our current modern culture. Clearly, the cats have no idea what they're doing, yet they allow their human partners to film them and control their actions. It is also interesting that the human filmer edits and creates these videos heavily based on our current culture as well, rather than depicting cats based on the cats' point of view of the world. I also found that this video is interesting in terms of how house cats have adapted into living in a human household - climbing on stairs, climbing into toilets, interacting with machines. This also raises the question, is it possible that it's not only humans who are cyborgs, but also their house companions such as cats and dogs?  Regardless, this video is funny, good luck on finals everyone!
Hey guys, I just came across a really interesting video by the PBS Idea Channel on YouTube. The video does its best to equate the internet with cats by illustrating their similarities: both are very independent and both do whatever they want regardless of what people want them to do. Also, the video highlights how the internet has subconsciously manufactured the cat into being the internet's "totem" --  a spiritual object or symbol that serves as an emblem for the identifying group.  Overall, I think this video does a pretty good job at seriously explaining a semi-ridiculous hypothesis.

Check the video out below:

Banana Slugs for Animals

Hi Everyone,

As our class is coming to a close, I thought I would write about the animal rights club at UCSC if any of you want to continue the discussion on animals. On campus, there is a group called Banana Slugs for Animals. This is a group that focuses on animal protection issues. They talk about many different subjects including companion animal issues, wildlife issues, factory farming, animals used as fur, and animals used for entertainment. Many of these topics we have already discussed in class. If any of these issues interests you, I urge you to check out this group. Also, Banana Slugs for Animals consists of many vegans and vegetarians who share recipes and support each other. If joining the org is too big of a commitment for you, their facebook page is a great resource in itself and is open to everyone. I will attach the link below. Go animals!!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/29417064795/

Cruelty within the (non-human) Animal Kingdom?

In section yesterday, I mentioned a clip that I saw on youtube a few years back in which a big cat was teaching its cubs to hunt by essentially maiming an antelope or gazelle, and allowing the cubs to (attempt) to kill it. The gazelle was clearly in pain, and it was really rough for me to watch, even though I continued watching because it was so fascinating.

When the video finished, I scrolled down to see what people were commenting, wondering if people were feeling the same "I'm so fascinated but this is also really insane" emotions I was. There were a lot of "wow the animal kingdom is insane" and "that's so cool!", but the one comment that intrigued me was "omg... this is so cruel". I laughed a little, because for a human to call another animal cruel was so ironic. We are responsible for the extinction of hundreds of animals and the death of billions of animals a year for consumption, and this person thought that a lion teaching its cubs to hunt was "cruel"? However (playing the devil's advocate here), if a human was doing this for the education of their child, would it still be considered the same level of cruelty? Is it possible for non-human animals to be cruel? It would then be argued as to how these cubs would learn to hunt...

I couldn't find the original video that I saw, but I found one very similar. Just a heads up, it gets pretty bloody.


https://youtu.be/kJ2gtyDJC8c

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Animal Intelligence

Hey everyone. After our discussion today I wanted to make a post about Orca whales. First off here is the link to the Orcas teaching their young how to hunt:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3__L0oAa2T8

As you can see in the video, the Orcas are very coordinated and use very interesting hunting habits. The fact that the whales are teaching their young, and do not kill the seal, is very interesting. They obviously realize that practice is important for successful hunts. Does this denote intelligence?

Another really interesting documentary that deals with Orca intelligence is called: Blackfish
For anyone that is interested in non-human intelligence I definitely recommend it.

The Sexual Politics of PETA

It turns out that PETA, or formally known as the People's Ethical Treatment of Animals, has produced their fair share of advertisement campaigns equally as sexist and shameful as those employed by the meat industry. As we've seen through our discussion on the Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams, the meat industry has a tendency of exploiting and sexualizing the female body to appease males into buying their products. Ultimately, these images reinforce gendered tropes in our society that divide men and women on the basis of diet and power. Men eat beef while women eat salad and men are powerful while women are docile. The two notions are interrelated to the meat industry.

However, I find it ironic for an organization that prides itself on the ethical treatment of animals to disregard the one animal they seem to be mistreating the most: human beings. The lack of respect PETA has shown to the female body is just as insulting as the meat industry's.

Examples:





The most obvious thing to note between all of these pictures is the focus on what's deemed "attractive" by PETA. Like the meat industry, PETA also equates meat and other animal byproducts with images of women. In this case, however, the additive offense stems from the amount of body-shaming these ads illustrate.

Since society has deemed hair on women's body unattractive, PETA decides to equate that with the fur-pelting of animals. I think their thought process in that one was that women would see these ads and think: "Yeah! I hate having my own hair on my body so why do I want the fur of an animal's, instead, am I right!?!?" I also don't think I have to highlight the fat-shaming in these ads, either. Through these images alone, PETA seems to think that the only way women can be proud of their bodies is if they are thin -- and the only way to be thin is to stop eating meat altogether and go vegetarian! It's not like it has anything to do with a healthy diet and exercise or anything and it's not like women who don't meet these standards can't be proud of their body, anyhow.

Anyway, these are just a few of the ads I've compiled that focus on body-shaming. Other offensive ads you can come across involve things like this:



(P.S. I hope my sarcasm comes across clearly through my writing).

Carter's "The Tiger's Bride" vs. Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"

Many of us know how the story goes in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. A young maiden by the name of Belle trades her freedom for her father's freedom after her father gets lost, discovers the Beast's castle, and the Beast kidnaps her father and holds him captive. During the time Belle is a prisoner, she slowly draws the Beast out of his isolation and teaches him what it means to love another and to be loved in return. Because the Beast learned to love another person and accept the love they offer him in return, his spell is broken and he turns back into a really hot prince. So cute, and very Disney.

Angela Carter's version of the story is a bit different. Upon losing everything in a bet, a young girl's father bets his daughter to a tiger disguised as a man (as if his daughter is his property). The tiger takes her back to his castle and locks her away in a jail cell. The tiger's valet, another animal, tells the girl that she can return to her father as soon as she exposes her naked body to the tiger because she is a virgin. She is appalled and laughs at his request. A few days pass, the tiger gives her jewelry, and she throws it across the room in disgust. Such is her attitude for a decent portion of the story. Then one day, the servant enters and tells the girl that his master wants to take her horseback riding. At first, the girl is hesitant, but she finally accepts the tiger's offer. As they are riding, the girl thinks to herself how odd it is that no one in her company is believed to have a soul. She says, "If I could not see one single soul in that wilderness of desolation all around me, the the six of us -- mounts and riders, both -- could boast among us not one soul, either, since all the best religions in the world state categorically that not beasts nor women were equipped with the flimsy, insubstantial things when the good Lord opened the gates of Eden and let Eve and her familiars tumble out." With this thought, she directly links herself to the tiger because they are both 'soul-less' creatures, which signifies a major shift in her attitude towards the tiger. After again refusing the tiger's request that she expose herself to him, the tiger decides to reveal himself to her. Once he shows himself to her, with no mask or wig to hide what he truly was, the girl decides to reveal herself to him as well. Afterwards, they ride back to the castle and the girl dresses in the finest clothes for her return to her father, just as the tiger said she could. The girl put on the jewelry the tiger had given her and was all set to leave, before realizing that she could not return to her father as the same girl who had left him. She went to the tiger's room and submitted to him as she bent down in front of him and let her approach him with no fear. He began to lick her skin, and eventually he licks her skin until it is replaced by fur.

So, in Angela Carter's version of this classic story, it is the captive girl who turns into a beast instead of the beast who turns into a human. Angela Carter's story represents a shift from the anthropocentric storyline many people are familiar with (thanks, Disney) and sheds light on the idea that maybe both the girl and the beast are better off living together as animals rather than as people. The prince doesn't have to be attractive, and the girl doesn't have to be the force that "civilizes" the beast; Carter's story shows a version where the girl is admired because she has not been with a man and the story doesn't close with two beautiful people living out the rest of their days in a beautiful castle but with two animals returning to their natural ways.

For reference (and a good ol' 90s throwback!), here's the trailer for Disney's Beauty and the Beast!






Ted Talks

Hi all!
I just came across a really great Ted Talks episode and I thought that I would share it here. Since it is the last week of school I just wanted to finish off with a video that talks about our relationship with animals. Not only that, but I wanted to finish off with a video that talks about where our society stands in relation to animals. What laws do we have in place that concern animals? What are we doing to protect them?
Well, Leslie Bisgould does a fantastic job giving examples to help us better understand our relationship to animals, and how we haven't been treating them as equals, even though that is what we often consider them to be. This video definitely got me thinking about where animals stand in our legal and political system, and it made me think about my own personal relationship with animals.
I am linking the video below. Let me know what you all think! I thought her argument went well with what we've been discussing these past 10 weeks, and I can't believe how much I have learned overall!


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Anthropocene

Hi Everyone,

In class today, our guest speaker asked our class if we were familiar with the term "the anthropocene". I only noticed a few other hands go up besides my own. Her definition was accurate, but brief. For people who do not know, the anthropocene is a term created recently to describe the new geological epoch humans are creating. An epoch is a term used to describe a time in the geological history of our earth. It is similar to the term "period" and "age". Epochs are mainly separated by major differences in our biosphere over millions of years. For example, our most recent ice age is considered an epoch. The warming of our earth to current temperatures has its own epoch as well, called the Holocene Epoch. The new term "The Anthropocene" was created to describe how our planet is physically changing again, but from humans instead of natural causes. This term is quite controversial for scientists who do not believe in global warming and the effects of overpopulation. The Anthropocene is associated with animals as species are going extinct at skyrocketing levels. I attached a short article from the Smithsonian magazine for anyone who wants more information on the debate about whether humans are creating a new epoch or not.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-is-the-anthropocene-and-are-we-in-it-164801414/

Circus Animals

Should animals serve to entertain us?
Seeing as circus creatures are treated badly many times, but still experience acts of kindness by trainers when they are rewarded for achieving a performance. Even if a circus owner is nice, should we still have animals entertain us? They are bound by rules of entertainment and will no doubt be punished if they attack a human being in the audience or observer. What makes these animals want to attack? Do they understand the idea of freedom? If elephants are smarter than other animals, should we treat them better versus other animals? In our human society, we usually treat people who are more talented better by paying them more and rewarding them more. Therefore, should we do the same for animals to apply fairness?

The Dilemma with Big Zoos

Of course, someone may argue that zoos serve as cages for animals and prevent them from being free, but what about zoos like San Diego Wild Animal Park that provide large atmospheres and space for animals to live naturally? One could argue that they shouldn't exist due to allowing humans to interact with animals, thus ruining the true nature of prey-predatory instinct between humans and specific animals that animals feel. Another argument is that they help endangered animals by providing them food and security. A problem with this is that the animal doesn't get its own food, thus becoming lazy and losing its true nature. Imagine a bear that didn't have to fish for its food. It would be less muscular due to not putting in as much work, and would rely more on others instead of knowing how to survive. Do you believe Wild Animal Park helps animals more than it harms their true nature?

Video Game Characters that portray Anthropomorphism

Throughout video games, there are lots of main characters that portray anthropomorphism. Why is this? I feel that the game would be able to convey the ability of the animal that makes it unique(such as a monkey's ability to climb and hang on trees - as seen with Donkey Kong) but still allow us to relate to the human characteristics that they show, such as talking and expressing emotions easily. It adds a sense of independence to the game making it unique from other ones. For example, in the Super Mario Brothers video games, there's a talking dinosaur that can jump, run, and breathe fire named Yoshi. If a human being breathed fire, it would lead us to go away from that video game because we prefer to see as much human characteristics being exposed as possible(of course if it was a mutant superpower or there was a logical explanation - mutation is a part of a human trait and explanations that are logical provide reason, so we wouldn't go away from those games).

Axolotl Story Further Findings

I found out that the Axolotl story portrays an interesting timeline-based story after reading it again. This means that as time goes on,  the narrator slowly transforms into an axolotl as the tone turns darker. I've learned that the transformation is a slow process because the narrator becomes more crazy. The story starts out with a normal setting, and an average human visiting the aquarium. However, this human becomes more addicted to the image of the Axolotl until he becomes one. Even the guard that found him to be normal starts to see him as someone insane after he claims that Axolotl is slowly devouring him. The words that the narrator uses began to become "darker" words such as "abyss" and "slaves." However, at the beginning of the story, the narrator uses words like "smiled" and the phrase "spring morning" which represent a form of a lighter tone.

Reflection of Paper #4


I chose to write my fourth paper on Nigel Rothel's essay on "Zoos, The Academy and Captivity."
Prior to reading this piece, I wasn't aware of all the ambivalence people had towards them.  I haven't been to a zoo in a few years and every time I did go to one I thought of them as interesting and educating.  Zoos gave me a way to see exotic animals closely and give me an idea of how they live.  However according to Rothel's analysis of zoos, quite a few people are against zoos and their attempt to replicate an animals habitat.  Although I was leaning towards agreeing with Rothel's argument with zoos I found his approach to persuading the reader by opening up with a studying opposing his argument to be a poor choice.  He began by mentioning a study done by Ray L. Birdwhistell and how through his kiesics approach he failed to recognize the relationship through human interaction with elephants.  I think that in order to successfully persuade someone without questioning their opinion, one needs to use a strong source supporting your opinion instead of challenging it.  The challenging source should be briefly mentioned in the concluding paragraph.  Overall the paper did open my eyes to a different side to opinions on zoos which I found very intriguing and made me think differently about them.

Thinking Like Animals

After reading the Temple Grandin pieces, we were asked to invent a mechanism for animals in the group activity during section last week. As a group it was difficult to come up with things that we wanted to invent. It was particularly difficult because we had to really put ourselves in place of animals and think how they would think. We had to think of an animal in particular, lets say a dog, and think about what we believe they would like. Whether it be running around and playing, or receiving savory food/treats that they would enjoy having to eat, i found what seemed to be a fun and creative task was much more difficult than expected because i came to realize that there is a reason why it was difficult to imagine. It is because we do not know what animals like or what they want. We do not know much about their desires and their needs because they do not communicate it to us and therefore we can only assume what they want based off of what we see when we observe them and how they interact with us and the environment around them. How do we know they like meat-flavored treats? How do we know they want to fetch a ball? We don't know how they really think or what they actually enjoy, but we base our decisions off of their reactions to the things we expose them to. We create a world where we control their actions and reactions. And this is what has opened my eyes up—the fact that we make decisions for them and think that we know them based off of what we see, but do not know the truth because we can't simply get into their minds. Just something i thought was interesting to take notice of when doing the activity! I'm curious as to what the different groups came up with and why!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Animals as Tradition by Boria Sax

I really wanted to post about the reading Animals as Tradition by Boria Sax when it was assigned, but I never got around to it. After writing our most recent paper about it, I think that now is a good time to talk about the reading even though it was assigned to us during week three. This is the most interesting reading I read in this class in my opinion. In this article, Sax argues that the only way to slow the mass extinction of species occurring on our planet in this day and age is to incorporate animals into our culture. If we can view animals as part of our traditions, we will learn to respect them and work towards their protection. This really intrigued me, as I am an environmental studies major with a passion for endangered and threatened species. I have never heard this argument before, but found it very convincing and viable. I think this could be a very effective approach to protecting vulnerable species. If you think about it, animals do play a huge role in our culture and traditions. In this class, we have learned how animals are incorporated into cultures through ancient tales. These animals become valued as sacred through these tales and lead us to value and protect them. Furthermore, animals are a biological tradition of the history of our earth. They are a part of our history and a tradition since the early stages of evolution began. If humans realize this, I think we will then feel motivated to value and protect all species. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this article and learning about Sax's perspective on the pressing issue of mass extinction.
In the past few weeks, I have spent significant time playing Pokemon Black, and the story-line really tied together with some of the things that we've been discussing throughout this class. In Pokemon black the main antagonist group is Team Plasma, who believe that Pokemon are being enslaved by their trainers and should be liberated. Throughout the game, Team Plasma takes away trainer's Pokemon, leaving them devastated without their companions. Later in the game, after defeating the leader of Team Plasma, he talks about how he does not truly believe that trainers and their Pokemon should be separated. He, and other members of Team Plasma, admit how they realize that not only do these trainers love their Pokemon, but the Pokemon love their trainers. I believe this really ties in well with how we feel about our animals/pets. There's always the question as to whether or not humans are going to be able to treat their pets better or if pets will be freed in the future. I believe, though this is not the case for everyone, that humans will be able to treat their pets better because we have such a deep love for our animals and feel the love that our animals give back to us.

How will Evolution Effect our Interaction with Apes (and other animals)? - Insight into Testing

According to some scientific research I've done (and been taught) Apes cannot speak because of a few reasons... However, two being: they do not have the vocal chords like humans and their brain is not as capable as ours to produce, understand, and completely grasp language.


Now, according to evolutionary theories in our society today, we evolved from Apes (Great Apes) and so at one point in history our vocal chords and our brains must have been unable to produce speech as well... (understand we are speaking in millions of years).

If we happen to survive long enough to make it millions of years into evolution humans will be more intelligent than Apes still, but Apes may be as intelligent as humans are now!? They may be able to develop a language and more advanced cognitive behavior like Humans do...

Now, if this were to be true, where would this leave us in relations to interaction with apes? Is knowledge a exponential factor in which we will believe we are so much smarter than these Apes still that we don't want to associate with them (as in let them live in our homes and speak to them like we do other people now). OR will we be able to develop a relationship with them as a co-species?

When you look at this question it raises even more questions into whether we should be using apes and monkeys for lab tests or hunting them for whatever reason?

This can apply to all evolutionary creatures on Earth... according to the science we were all once irrelevant bacteria that could do nothing. So, if these creatures have the opportunity to evolve and become more intelligent will we stop eating them, hunting them, or testing on them? If an ape could converse with you, would you still inject them with the latest vaccine that is still in testing? If the answer were no, then we are testing on these species only because they are not as intelligent (in some sort of sense) as us. This argument in this context makes no sense, because should we be doing it at all then? We would not harm or test on our family that happens to have Downs Syndrome simply because he/she is not "as intelligent as us". So where do we draw reasoning for doing this to animals unless we believe somehow it helps them. If violent acts like this aren't stopped by humans will they be stopped by evolution?

Grand Theft Auto and Human ability to Concern themselves with Animals

After playing many video games since childhood, I came to realize many different things about video games including that there is a lot of violence and entertainment usually comes from challenge. However, after playing Grand Theft Auto and recognizing all of the scare towards our society (believing children and teenagers will grow up thinking this behavior is okay).


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-j-bushman/dont-buy-your-kid-grand-theft-auto-v-for-christmas_b_4440477.html

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/grand-theft-auto-is-good/

Here are a couple links if you want to read some about it yourself.

The whole ordeal boils down to: down buy Grand Theft Auto for your child because it is bad for their development and can cause increases in angry and violent thoughts....

Now the Aspects of Grand Theft Auto:
-You go around shooting people
-You steal from anywhere or anyone
-You get chased by the cops and you try not to get killed
-You can indulge in different "foul" play throughout the game while they give you nonsense objectives on harming others or destroying things (usually).

Now, the hype of not buying this for your children seems to be completely based upon this: the children may harm other people (or things created by people) like they are allowed to do inside the video game. 

So, humans in present day society are concerning themselves over other humans hurting them and other aspects of human life that animals can simply not grasp (according to the hype over this game and the research done behind it).

As the years have gone by, I can almost say that people in America, specifically, seem to be spending increasingly more of their time doing their jobs and worrying about aspects of human life (being in a car crash or being kidnapped and how to get to the next level on a video game or obtaining a high GPA).

Is OUR strive for knowledge (which is increasing inevitably) causing us to not concern ourselves with other species on this planet? (aside from pets obviously). Is this what is leading us to continually ignore animal's needs as it relates to their longevity? 


EX: We are destroying the planet we live in order to "advance" as quickly as possible.
EX: We are destroying our planet, currently, because we need to drive to work (to work on things usually not related to animals at all and only for people).
EX: We create advancements in technology to slaughter our cattle more efficiently while the resources for cattle and new technology is scarce, precious, and valuable. 

I find this an interesting insight into why animals in our society seem to be "suffering" and humans are continually fine with this. (To understand what i mean by suffering... if you show anyone a video of the inside of a cattle factory, they will be disgusted... and they will feel bad for the cow... that's what I mean). 

Little Red Riding Hood

Hey guys,

I was curious as to what you guys all thought of the video that Professor Freccero showed in class yesterday. I particularly thought that it was disturbing, yet still maintained a lot of significant symbolism. I took the video to be a coming of age story, where Little Red is getting guidance from "the animal inside her" to help her gain sexual maturity. I thought this was particularly significant from when she was eating an apple and staring at the wolf, with the apple being an allusion to Adam and Eve, when Eve ate the sinful/forbidden fruit. However, I also thought that some aspects of the video was just odd, and didn't understand what the significance of some parts of it was, such as when Little Red ate her grandmother's flesh. My initial reaction to that particular scene was just, "why?" Anyhow, I am curious as to what everyone else thought of this particular video, and if anyone can give me insight to the significance of the flesh scene, I'd appreciate it!


Monday, June 1, 2015

carnivorous plants and their relation to meat consumption

i'm sure you all know what a venus flytrap is: a carnivorous plant, sustaining itself by trapping and consuming small insects. there is actually an abundance of these plants that in some cases are capable of eating small amphibians and use various techniques unique to their make-up to trick and capture their prey. pitcher plant are structured for insects to slip off their surface and fall into a literal "pitcher" of digestive fluid, sundews have tiny fibrous hairs that insects stick onto and are then slowly broken down by digestive fluid attached to these hairs, the venus flytrap (as renowned) is triggered by a set of hairs within its "teeth" and traps insects within its tight hold, bladdersworts are the aquatic species of this entire set and float near the surface of water, its "bladders" a literal trap door that resemble roots capturing insects and even tiny crustaceans, fungi, and the sensitive plant that folds up its leaflets in a rapid motion to capture prey.
(all this info courtesy of tumblr and further research because i thought it was interesting)
basically, there are plants that consume meat, not typical prey animals like antelope, and lure their prey and slowly kill them in devious ways. plants transitioning to “meat-eating” territory for food, i feel, is saying a lot about the diet shared by all animals, excluding microorganisms if needs be. in an odd sense, i feel this is highlighting the importance of meat for survival, amongst even plants, and that animals consuming other animals for this reason is necessary. humans shouldn't be berated for consuming meat as it also has a historical context (the earliest human species hunted for their food), but the ethics surrounding the mass raising and slaughtering of farm animals should definitely be brought into focus. 
I came across an article titled "March for the Animals", it was a brief story with a picture and a short description of the march. The march is an annual fundraiser and the proceeds go to Maryland Animal Shelters. This is all great in terms of helping out animals, but I was shocked by the picture on the article.
To me, this dog is not dressed up "for the animals" the dog is dressed up purely for human entertainment. In order to look like that the dog was probably subjected to hours of hair dying and grooming, something I don't think it enjoys. At a "March for the Animals" participants should pay attention to how they treat there own animals. Im sure this was all in good fun, but in the end the humans are doing it purely for their own enjoyment and not the animals wellbeing. 

The Meaning of Meat and Vegetable

While re-reading "The Sexual Politics of Meat" by Carol Adams I came across a particularly interesting point. While talking about the way the word "meat" has changed she writes "Meat represents the essence or principle part of something, according to the American Heritage Dictionary. Thus we have "the meat of the matter", a "meaty question". To "beef up" something is to improve it. Vegetable on the other hand represents the least desirable characteristics : Suggesting like a vegetable, as in passivity or dullness of existence, monotonous, passive". I think it is interesting that meat is so linked to the masculine that the idea has even entered our language. She moves the argument further and illustrates how these meanings have originated from meat being associated with the man and the head of the household and vegetables being associated with women who are passive and weak.  It is something I have done my whole life never even occurred to me, from now on I am going to be watching for how other words that are gendered in a removed way.

Walmart and Meat Regulations

Recently Walmart pushed for better animal welfare standards. They demanded their employers follow "sweeping" guidelines. Walmart has adopted the "five freedoms" outlined by the World Organization for Animal Health to guide its approach to animal welfare. They include freedom from pain and injury and freedom to express normal behavior. I think that this is a very big step for factory farming because Walmart has a major influence on the meat industry. When I read things like this I sometimes wonder if Walmart actually intends to change things, or if they are doing more as a publicity stint and are going to keep ignoring the mistreat of the animals they get there meat from. Check an article for more details/opinions on Walmarts new policies: Wal-Mart's Push on Animal Welfare Hailed as Game Changer

Temple Grandin's "Thinking Like Animals"

In "Thinking Like Animals," Temple Grandin presents the argument that her autism has allowed  her to be able to see into the minds of animals as if she were one of them. She elaborates by explaining "My life as a person with autism is like bring another species: part human and part animal.  Autistic emotion may be more like an animal's. [...] My emotions are simple and straight-forward like an animal's, my emotions are not deep-seated. They may be intense while I am experiencing them but they will subside like an afternoon storm." Her unique perspective on animals and fear has allowed her to redesign the meat factory industry by revolutionizing the chute system for handling cattle in slaughter plants. Grandin's chute systems are designed to minimize fear and pain for the cattle, which was understandably greeted with praise. What I find interesting about this piece is Grandin directly compares herself to the cattle that are being killed. She essentially designs her own death. Grandin even states in this piece "I had to look my own mortality straight in the eye."

In this 2011 interview with Temple Grandin, she states that today's values/morals have shifted from helping others to helping oneself. I think it's interesting that as a society, we have developed a very dog-eat-dog kind of system that is mostly focused on individuals instead of the community as a whole down to even livestock. What does everyone else think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwnlWX4iyj4

"Report to an Academy" and socioeconomic mobility

Franz Kafka’s Report to an Academy reminds me of mobility in regards to the socioeconomic ladder in capitalist societies, particularly in people of color. Although there are aspects within the story which might not directly emulate how those of lower class might deal with trying to advance in corporate america, the desire to survive is the same in the story. I know with Latino children of immigrant parents, there is often the idea instilled within them that they must do what they can to blend in the white majority (or strive beyond them). The closer one can simulate behaviors of the dominant group, the easier it is for them to advance. Systemic forces are already against people of color from striving, so has been easier to assimilate into the dominant group.

The simian protagonist, Red Peter, is captured by European hunters in his own home. In order to survive, he discovers that he must behave like how humans do in order to escape confinement. It's important to note that confinement can be more than physical. There's an external and internal confinement that Latino youth often face with attempting to advance in the United States. Whether it be from physical confinement such as poverty, there is also a deeper, internal confinement. There is a "haunting" which follows us that pushes us to overcome generational oppression and strive for success in the corporate field. The theme of the importance of assimilation is prevalent within Report to an Academy. At the end of the speech given by Red Peter, he firmly goes on to detail that he is not looking for validation, he is merely detailing his experience. Readers are given the impression that the academy is listening to the speech with a sense of accomplishment. Though there's no direct evidence to suggest this, the mood of the academy seemed more observational and voyeuristic. It was as if they were watching how successful their experiment had progressed, and not looking at Red Peter as their equal. I believe they don't and can't see him as their equal. Although we don't receive commentary from the audience, and they give him the respect of presenting Red Peter in front of the entire academy, I don't think they respect him, and I also believe Red Peter knows that.

Towards the end of the story, Red Peter's conclusive statements stood out to me in the entirety of the text. This portion of Red Peter's speech critically summarizes a valid reality of socioeconomic "success":  "I didn't imitate human beings because they appealed to me; I imitated because I was looking for a way out, for no other reason. And the victory still didn't amount to much." It's incredibly difficult to maintain one's own culture while needing to assimilate into the predominantly white, executive realm. There is a great sense of pride within Latino communities when someone within the family is able to reach the top of the economic ladder. These feats should indeed be celebrated; even today, it is still seen as an accomplishment when minorities hold CEO positions. However, it becomes important to note that oftentimes people believe striving for the top means disregarding their own culture. They become disconnected and consumed with what it means to become successful in an economic sense. I'm not discounting the amount of  financial support this brings not only to the individual but to their family as well; this also paves the way for an easier mobility of people of color into the corporate ladder.. But it is important to realize the amount of pressure Latino families (and other families of color) place on their children to become "successful" in the United States which usually means becoming enveloped in a harmful, capitalist system. I've seen family members struggling to work and move higher up in their job, or even just paying their bills. They become detached from the family and they start to lose their sense of self. Everything becomes very quick-paced, and they forget to pay attention to what matters most which is taking care of their family. It seems ironic since their reason for working is taking care of the family, but they begin to stop seeing them as their loves ones once they become consumed by the work force. It is incredibly useful to be an instrumental part of any company because it can be beneficial to one's family. Self-surveillance is most important in making sure one doesn't lose who they are while striving to surpass their circumstances. Assimilating for survival can bring as much damage as it does prosperity.

"In Defense of Slavery" and SeaWorld (unrelated, right?)

For paper #4, I was rereading an excerpt from Marjorie Spiegel's piece titled "In Defense of Slavery"where Spiegel connects human slavery with animal oppression. A very interesting read from earlier in the quarter, definitely, but something stuck out to me when I read it again. Spiegel includes an interview with a egg factory worker in her work. Here is the passage I am referring to:

"Q: Why do you have to de-beak [the chickens]?

A: The chickens will, in their pecking order, pick on the weakest chicken... Once they draw blood, then they just keep on going. They're quite cannibalistic.

Q: But when they're in a barnyard that usually doesn't happen.

A: No, but then the one who's being picked on can get away."

What interests me about this passage is that the behavior the chickens exhibit while living in the farms is completely caused by humans. Our demand for eggs has created these farms where chickens are kept four to a cage in order to maximize profit. These chickens cannot move around, let alone walk or run, so their behavior is altered to become more violent towards each other. This shift is not seen in places where chickens have plenty of space to move. Human demand for eggs has indirectly created this behavior, and human demand has indirectly caused thousands of chickens to be debeaked.

This reminds me of the orca whales at SeaWorld who have droopy dorsal fins and have been known to exhibit dangerous behavior. Orca whales in the wild have very firm dorsal fins that stick straight up, which allows them to maneuver in the water much more efficiently. In captivity, orca dorsal fins are drooped. The collagen within dorsal fins remains rigid in wild orcas due to the depth and pressure they experience in the open ocean. Orcas in captivity live in tanks that are 40 feet at the deepest, which does not exert enough pressure on the orcas' dorsal fins to keep them upright and functioning properly. Orca whales are also thought to be dangerous animals due to events that have taken place with orca whales in captivity. Although they are also known as killer whales, there has never been a documented case of an orca in the wild attacking or killing a human being. The only time their violent behavior has been seen is at aquatic centers such as SeaWorld.

This example is just one of many that demonstrate how humans have used animals as sources of revenue with no regard to the animals' wellbeing.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Orangutan and Human bond over babies

Hey All,

I don't know if you guys are redditors or not, but I found this image posted under r/aww of a human mom and her child bonding with an orangutan with her child. http://i.imgur.com/BZvEoDu.gifv

While I found that it was fascinating that the orangutan had such human like qualities, with how she was carrying the baby the same way as the human mom, how she pressed her hands against the glass, how she pointed with her fingers, and how she curiously looked at the baby, I also found it quite sad. I thought that it was cruel and unusual punishment to allow such an intelligent animal with human-like qualities to be put behind a glass "prison" simply because it is not a human. This image made me ask the same question that this class has discussed before: how much intelligence does an animal need to show in order to prove that it is intelligent enough? This image also reminded me of The Academy, which we have read in class, when the narrator described the conditions of being trapped in a cage. It also reminded me of how hard the narrator tried to be human, in order to prove its intelligence and escape its "prison."

Physiognomy

In the 19th century, Swiss pastor Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) popularized a science which sought to ascribe arbitrary characteristics to people based on their physical appearance. Physiognomy was used to judge others' moral values and likelihood to commit crimes based on appearance. Animals were anthropomorphized in order to (more so) racially profile people of color. For example, if someone looked pig-like, they were judged as gluttonous; if someone were more simian-looking, they were perceived as savage and brutal. This was used continually used to validate various authoritative figures’ own prejudiced and racist ideologies. Physical appearance holds no basis on someone's moral values so there was no legitimate way for scientists to assume such behaviors and ideologies about any groups of people. It's interesting to note how many anthropomorphic stereotypes we have of certain animals (such as pigs, primates, etc.) and how people have used them (and continually do so) to validate someone's character. However, in the 19th century, it was more than a judgement. People actively took force to criminalize people based on these arbitrary accusations. There were multiple sciences such as this one which were only upheld due to many scientists' own racist biases. Another prejudicial science was criminal anthropology which believed that people were born criminals. These forms of pseudoscience had real-world effects as it lead to the increasing incarceration and criminalization of people of color. It’s disgusting to see how authoritative figures used any method to try and validate their own racist behavior and calling it a “science” because they had the “ proper education” and power to do so. Physiognomy would later be used by the eugenics movement in aiding their false claim to “better” the population through methods such as forced sterilization.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Human interference with wild animals

This article is about a bear cub who can now no longer be in the wild due to human interference. It was found wandering campsites in Oregon looking for food. The bear cub looked very malnourished and confused, and they think that this is due to humans trying to feed him and interact with him. The wildlife officials say that even though baby bears are super cute, they really belong in the wild and if a human takes them in or feeds them, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the cub to be reunited with its mother. Many bear cubs each spring have to be taken to zoos because they cannot function on their own. Here's the article for more information:

Here's the link:

This made me think about the squirrels on campus and how their interactions with humans have shaped them. I don't know much about how squirrels were before they came in contact with humans, but I think it's interesting how brave they are- I've been inches away from them before they scurry away. I would think that this behavior can't be good for their chances of survival, but they're still everywhere.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Thinking like Animals

In yesterday's section we talked about "thinking like animals," and if we were able to do so what could we do to help benefit animals? In my group, we discussed a variety of animal groups and what we could possibly do to help them. But then one of my group members started to talk about the conditions at animal shelters. She volunteers at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, and she was explaining the conditions that the animals live in. They are not horrible conditions, but they are not the best.

Since a majority of the animals that are taken in are house pets we thought it would be cool to start up a Doggy Spa. The dogs would have free space to roam around, and they would not have to be caged up in cinder block rooms with the cold floor. The dogs could have little sound-proof rooms that made them feel comfortable and safe. Ideally, it would be supported by the community because they would be helping out the animals around here. The vets, could be volunteer and the actual volunteers could be high school students looking to complete service hours, and what better way to do it than to help out your local community and animals?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Slaughterhouses

Hey all,

In section today, we talked about slaughtering animals and how it's necessary to make the process more ethical for the animal rather than taking an abolitionist stance on animal rights. While I thought that yes, the process of killing animals should definitely be more ethical, I also wanted to ask whether or not humans have the right to take on this role. What are your thoughts on the role humans play as owners and determiners of these animals lives and well being?