Thursday, July 24, 2014

Skin and what's under...

that layer of your body is something to consider. Skin serves simultaneously as a barrier to the world outside you, as a container for the body that is you and as a more or less permeable membrane that takes in elements from this world in which you live. Interestingly, were you able to wear or be encased in the skin of another...then you would be, appearance wise at least, them.

This week a movie was released on DVD titled "Under The Skin". I had read a blurb about the movie and wanted to see it. I presumed it would be a bit off-beat but was stunned by some of the powerful scenes presented. I laughed out loud at a fairly intense sex scene that occurred toward the end of it. The movie is a dark and quirky work. It relies heavily on imagery and sound for expression...that sort of stuff often irritates me but...if you watch on dvd you can fast forward through any of it that you want.

I'll have to see it a few more times to decide how much I like it. But, having said all that, it is absolutely a must see for anyone who is a vegan. And...it is a terrific way to introduce a non-vegan to some ways of seeing human behavior that are absolutely not supported by the dominant cultural narratives that shape the thinking/perceiving of so many. I think, maybe, it could be an excellent teaching tool to bring someone to view human behavior from a different (vegan) perspective. My wife complained that it was too "obscure"...my thinking is that it would never ever have attained commercial release if it wasn't "obscure".

I'm rather astounded that the vegan community has not been all over this movie. It is a sort of a gussied up and de-violenced version of Meet Your Meat except guess what...the meat you're meeting is you. The movie is scarey and spooky and (for me) laugh out loud funny at times. It shows humans at some of their best and some of their worst.

It is a "weird" movie. Don't think for a moment it isn't...at least that's what my wife told me. She didn't like it at all. It is scary...in many ways...the scene at the beach with the human baby was about as scary as any I've ever seen. I wrote on facebook:

I would urge you to watch it just for the scene that occurs on a rocky beach involving a human baby/very small child. Watch that scene and then think about how many times daily something akin to the behavior of the Scarlett Johansson character is inflicted on our sister/brother Earthlings by human animals. Consider what you think of the Scarlett Johansson character in that scene and, if you're not vegan, realize that you pay people to do things exactly like that...day in and day out whenever you eat anything from or use anything from an animal. What we do, or cause to be done, to others...that is in truth what we are asking to be done to ourselves. Watch this movie and see...
I don't want to write more because...well...because. I would really like to hear your impressions of the movie. I want to let it percolate and settle with me then see it again after a while. I suppose why we haven't heard much about it is that there are a number of scenes in the movie that are sexually charged involving human near nudity and nudity and I'm guessing (from some of the reviews I've read) that naked and near naked people throw culturally indoctrinated human animals off their game so much that that's what they focus on. Aside from the (to me) funny as hell penetration attempt scene I didn't get much caught up in all that...but I think many viewers did and as a result maybe missed the full import of the story.

I'm just amazed that there's been such an absence of talk about this movie. Maybe you have to be a vegan to be able to wrap your mind around what you're seeing...certainly my wife was apparently oblivious to the incredible re-creation of human behavior toward our sister/brother Earthlings that was so well presented in the beach scene. It may be too big a leap for many/most to take in. This reviewer was sort of all over the place about the movie...but we agree....this is a powerful and very very important movie.

If you can watch the movie and not "get it" then it may be because you aren't living vegan. The more I think about this movie, the more impressed and excited I get about it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Trying to make a living...

is a phrase most of us have heard or used at one time or another. I once heard it used in a context wherein it resonated with me so strongly that I can vividly remember the setting in which I heard it and that happened well over thirty years ago. I was in graduate school watching a film about positive reinforcement...the film was shot in Japan and concerned the training of bears to ride unicycles and to do various complicated sequences of actions and the training was all done (supposedly) by using positive reinforcement.


I looked around on the internet and found this image to use as an illustration. There are many images of actual bears riding unicycles and bicycles out there but I didn't want to use a real photo...that seemed to me to be ugly and disrespectful. Any bear riding or doing things to "entertain" humans is a slave and she or he isn't doing those things because they freely chose them.

The narrator of the film was the psychologist who had been hired to serve as the trainer for the animals associated with this entertainment company and he was explaining the processes he used to "teach" the bears how to do various complicated unbearlike behaviors (like riding a unicycle). Basically the idea is that you reward (immediately) any small behavior near what you're looking for and chain small behaviors together into long sequences which then appear to be more complicated behaviors. I'm not going to write a treatise on "learning" theory (behaviorism) so I won't go into any more detail now (and believe me, there's lots and lots of detail).

At one point, after the subject (the bear) had completed a behavior and been rewarded for it, the narrator said that it wasn't difficult to get the bear to do things, that he (the bear) was just "trying to make a living" like the rest of us. When he said that I nearly fainted, it hit me so hard right then (and has stayed with me) that we're all the same. That captured and confined bear was just trying to get by, trying to live his life...just like all of us.

I wish I could say I went vegan right then...I didn't. Somehow I was able to encapsulate that awareness (I kept it, I didn't get rid of it) from my behavior and from other areas of my knowing and kept on operating pretty much as always. But that phrase...and that bear...haunted me.

I still retain many memories and images from that film, and when I did finally wake up to veganism...memory of that bear and his doing what he had to do to "make a living" came rushing back and brought with it a deep sadness and sorrow that I hadn't grasped what I was seeing and hearing enough to go vegan then and there.

It amazes me on some level that I can, on occasion, get worked up into some state of indignation and outrage over human behavior toward other animals and toward Earth...amazes me because of my own blindness and my own participation in awfulness in times past. Getting upset about some non-vegan now is, in one way, nothing but me getting upset with my past self. And...had some vegan been angry with me back then...I probably would not have seen what they were pointing toward...I would only have seen their anger...their upset and outrage...and thought they were peculiar or strange.

It frightens me about myself...how blind and oblivious I can be...and yet...I was trying to tell myself something...otherwise the images of that bear and that phrase wouldn't have stuck and resonated...I just didn't figure out what I was trying to tell myself until much much later.

Don't ignore your own messages to yourself...if you haven't gone vegan...do so now. And if you've gone vegan...thank you for listening.



Friday, July 11, 2014

Looking through a book

is different than reading one. Recently I received a copy of a book titled: "Animal Madness, How anxious dogs, compulsive parrots, and elephants in recovery help us understand ourselves" by Laurel Braitman. After reading some passages located via the index test...well...I looked through the book, I didn't read it.

Reading the title will tell you most everything you need to know about what is contained in the book (it should...that's a very long title). The last four words "help us understand ourselves" let us know the book is about what humans might get out of the deal. Pretty much par for the course in terms of human beings interacting with other beings. The author is listed as holding a Ph.D. from M.I.T in the history of science. On her website (one wherein she sorta seems to be quite impressed with herself) she touts herself as being a TED fellow...what that means I'm not quite sure. I was overcome by three letter acronym fatigue.

The index test shows that "animal rights" is mentioned in 5 locations in the book...that seems like a good thing except the first mention is brief and dismissive, the second mention is a snarky swipe at PETA, the third is a more lengthy write up about the fellow who trained Flipper the dolphin...with a primary focus on whether suicide occurs in other animals. For some reason that seems to be a hot idea to a certain group. Why, I'm not sure.

The fourth reference is several pages that includes this passage:

"This is why I never trust an animal rights activist who is misogynistic or thinks that Homo sapiens are, at heart, more rotten than any other species. Human rights activists are animal rights activists by default. The reverse should also be true."  p. 281

She seems to be doing some peculiar mixing and matching here, I'm presuming she's referencing the fact that humans are animals hence human rights activists are by definition animal rights activists. She coyly leaves out the fact that most human rights activists do not advocate for the other animals nor do they refrain from harming or eating other animals. The word definition seems to be enough for her. She doesn't say anything about not "trusting" human rights activists who aren't vegan...which should be the case if she's being serious. (I'm also presuming she misuses the word misogynistic when she means misanthropic...or maybe she meant to use it the way she did and was coupling misogynistic (the term) with a definition of misanthropic.)

I'll just say that I would be a bit suspicious of any animal rights activist who isn't a little misanthropic or who hasn't or doesn't entertain misanthropic thoughts and/or feelings based on the actuality and the history of the way human animals behave toward our sister and brother animals. For me any animal rights activist not being a bit leery of humans and their behaviors bespeaks of someone either being much more saintly than seems genuine or extremely naive or disingenuous. Believing we ought to feel all animals are equal in their right to live their own lives is one thing, ignoring the actuality of how different animals behave in regard to this (specifically human animals) is either symptomatic of cognitive malfunctioning or a serious denial of reality.

The fifth mention really isn't about animal rights, it's about animal welfare (arguably as are all the others). I suspect this author is the sort of person that would be characterized as an "animal lover". She seems to have been around lots of other animals and seems to care about them...up to a point. She is a human supremacist, make no mistake about it. She's the sort of supremacist (white, or human or otherwise) who would treat her slaves well...but...she absolutely believes that some sorts of animals (those not human) should be slaves and some shouldn't (humans).

Her notion of some future goals of "animal rights" includes this:

"We could stop eating mentally ill pigs, chickens, and cows, and do away with corporate farming practices so cruel they're often institutionalized torture. We could stop trimming our coats with the fur of compulsive mink, foxes, sable, and chinchillas and quit testing our drugs, cosmetics, and medical procedures on lab animals housed alone and in terribly uncomfortable conditions." p. 284

She goes on in the next paragraph to say we should accept that we're just another kind of animal and then she says (rather hilariously): "This kind of change will not be easy or fast." What "change" this would entail, based on her book, seems to be to not be so "mean", I guess...it's ok to oppress, enslave and kill and eat the other animals...just don't be ugly or mean about it.

I laughed out loud when I read the statement about not eating mentally ill pigs...that's a catch 22 for pigs. Sort of: "If you're crazy, little pig, we won't kill you and eat you but if you're not...well...tough tittie...you're bacon." One of the first things I thought when I read that was there goes any notions that MIT grads or TED fellows are the brightest of the bright.

But...it does give us a beautiful example of how denial creates stupidity. When we deliberately blind ourselves cognitively or emotionally then we are going to be oblivious to some absurdities. We are at risk of voicing, in a perfectly serious way, really grotesque and ridiculous (and sad) statements. And MIT or TED or Harvard or Yale or Stanford or or or...no amount of or excellence of education, no superior IQ...no nothing...is going to prevent our viewpoint from being warped and incomplete and distorted if we engage in denial. It is the all purpose stupefier and get you it will if you are under its influence.

Back in February I wrote about the index test, this book has animal rights in the index...but...there's no listing for vegan (or vegetarian) in the index...big big clue right there that here's another book ostensibly about the other animals that is actually about human exceptionalism/supremacy. This book really doesn't need the index test because the title tells you it is all about what human animals might gain from the other animals (help us understand ourselves). Given the denial exhibited by the author, I'm not too sure she has received much help in that respect but...my impression is she's out to gain for herself...her website is rather self-promoting and I suppose she's trying to "milk" the book for all she can.

I presume this is a "well-meaning" human...I don't think she is personally deliberately cruel to other animals (she just pays others to enact the cruelty) and I think she would like to see some of the more horrific ways that we torture and enslave and kill other animals be reformed or eliminated. That's a good thing. But...she's a human supremacist...period. She wants to keep right on oppressing, enslaving and killing, just not do it in such openly cruel ways.

I will give her credit for writing one of the more zany (in a tragic and sad way) statements I've ever seen. Stop eating mentally-ill pigs. Good grief.

I'll tell ya what...just stop eating pigs (or any other beings), whether mentally-ill or not...go vegan. That way you don't have to do any diagnosing for mental-illness or compulsivity or loneliness or anything else.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence day...

is celebrated here on the 4th of July. Like most who were born in the U.S., I've been drenched and soaked in the hoopla and celebrations and fireworks associated with the holiday.

The other day, in a fit of something, I re-watched one of my all-time favorite movies called The Contender. For me, this movie does a superlative job of highlighting and addressing some of the oppressions associated with sexism. I then rewatched another movie (Gentleman's Agreement) which is concerned with racism...another issue of freedom...which gets conflated with independence. Somehow we sort of roll freedom and independence all up into one big ball and celebrate both on this holiday.

Last week I was standing in line at a local grocery and in front of me was an African-American woman and her young daughter. I found myself wanting to approach her and apologize to both of them for any and all crap that they had and would experience because of sexism and racism from their fellow citizens. It was a pretty strong urge, but I talked myself out of it by telling myself that some old white man coming up to them and saying something like that would probably scare them more than anything. So I didn't say anything. But I strongly wanted to, and the thoughts and feelings which urged me still haunt me.

The more I think about and read about speciesism, the more I find myself also thinking about sexism, racism and all isms that have to do with oppression...an ism implies some sort of system and I find it more than ironic that we, as a nation and culture, fail so often at living up to all the high-flown rhetoric we spout about ourselves regarding freedom and equality and all that liberty stuff. We struggle terribly to implement and uphold such very simple notions and more often than not...we simply fail at doing so...but instead of saying this...we talk and write and think as if we have.

For example, our continental neighbors Mexico and Canada both abolished the legal slavery of humans some 30 years before it ended in the U.S. And both did it without having a bloodbath of epic proportions or even a small bloodbath. We call our bloodbath the Civil War and few of us now apprehend how epic the death toll was. This source estimates anywhere from 600,000 to 750,000 deaths. Around 2 to 2.5 percent of the total population of the country died as a result of a violent argument over whether it should be legal to enslave a human. This...in a country that annually goes into an orgy of celebration of "freedom" and independence around the 4th of July. "Freedom for all" is an aspiration, not a truth or a reality.

Even after all those deaths, the south (and some other areas) substituted segregation laws and poll taxes for slavery...trying to avoid freedom for former slaves. Most Americans don't realize that the U.S. was becoming seriously embarrassed on the world scene because of our oppressive and backward racial policies. WWII brought many face to face with one outcome that can accompany racism...the holocaust of the Nazi era. Immediately after WWII the cold war started and Russia didn't hesitate to point out the hypocrisy of the U.S. styling itself as the "leader of the free world" even as many of our citizens weren't "free" in any meaningful sense because of racism.

It is no accident that the civil rights movement began gaining strength and started expanding during the 1950s and the 1960s. This was the height of the cold war and there was serious pressure from other countries on our administrations to do something about racism. We looked stupid bellowing about freedom and liberty considering how we treated some of our citizens based on "race". Many of us believed our own lies to ourselves...but we were getting our noses rubbed in the hypocrisy by the communist countries.

I recently watched an excellent documentary named Traces of the Trade. It concerns a number of members of a well respected, upper class family from Bristol, Rhode Island. Ironically the documentary includes some home movie clips of one of the family members as a very small child waving an American flag during the Bristol Fourth of July parade...which is apparently the oldest Independence day celebration extant. I say ironically because her prominent family amassed a humongous fortune by trading slaves. In fact, one of her ancestors, at the time of his death in 1837 was reputed to reputed to be the 2nd richest man in the U.S. He was sort of the Bill Gates of his time and also was a respected and powerful U.S. Senator and his wealth and concomitant power was built on the slave trade.

The documentary concerns some of the family members getting together and tracing the route taken by the slave trading ships that belonged to the family and their trying to come to grips with the stunning knowledge that their family prominence and respect was gained via the oppression and enslavement of human beings. It is a very well done documentary...and yet...in 3 or 4 brief (very brief) scenes we see enslaved beings who don't happen to be human. There is no mention made of this in the film but my eye caught them and my comprehension resonated with the bizarreness of what I was seeing. A film about coming to understand the hollowness of prestige and wealth acquired because of evil...and yet the presence of evil practices are shown in the film and are not commented on and are accepted so fully they aren't even recognized as evil.

I think many committed to animal liberation and animal rights don't realize how much of a boost it was to the movement against racism here that there were countries who were our military and cultural rivals that were capitalizing via propaganda on our hypocrisy of saying we were "free" when the truth was dramatically different. Wouldn't it be cool if there were a human run country we could point to and say...see...everyone, including animals not human, are safe and free there. Not only would it be cool...it would serve as a serious pressure point and as a tremendous beacon of hope.


The graphic above is from some children's animal liberation literature dated 1913. Someone was imagining a place of genuine freedom over 100 years ago. Some country will have to be the first to become vegan in practice and in law. Predicated on our past (and our present) I have doubts it will be the U.S. We seem to be the world leader in talking up 'freedom' but we seem to mistake the word for the deed.

I won't be celebrating anything on this 4th of July. Because I know that independence has little or nothing to do with freedom and all the hoopla and such is in honor of something not real. I really don't see much sense in honoring fake stuff. I'll go empty and clean some poop boxes for some of victims (Heartland Rabbit Rescue) of oppression and try to give them some comfort and maybe some pleasure. They won't be celebrating hypocrisy...they're too smart to be fooled by false words and empty slogans and meaningless gestures.

Honoring and practicing and supporting freedom means living vegan...anything else is a shortcoming, a failure. I would urge you to take this holiday and think about what actually is versus what we say is. Watch these three film/video examples of rhetoric or false belief versus reality then think about the oppression and absence of freedom for beings of all sorts and sizes. We are all animals and "freedom" remains, for most, an aspiration...not a reality. Go look, with honesty, in the mirror and see if you can spot an oppressor of others, a racist, a sexist, a speciesist. If you can't, thank you, if you can...you have some work to do before you do any celebrating.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Please help the animals.

Often, several times a week, the local daily paper will publish stories and/or photos of cruelty or abuse on the front page. Most who are mesmerized by the dominant cultural narrative (viz. the other animals are ours to do with what we want) about our sister and brother Earthlings do not identify these stories as being about cruelty or terror. Even though they are. For instance on Monday of last week there was a story touting a local deli that had a spam cookout to celebrate flag day. Then on Saturday of the same week there was a front page story with photos about a local rodeo.

This sort of incessant drumbeat underscoring and reinforcing that cultural narrative is served up all over the place. A spam cookout and a rodeo, what's so bad about that you ask? Well, if you're an ethical vegan...you probably didn't ask. For those who don't realize it, the 'cookout' involves the murder of innocent pigs and the rodeo involves terrorizing babies (calf-roping) and many other 'events' of enslavement, abuse and sometimes even death.

Both stories are instances of juxtaposing the ideas of fun and entertainment with fear and death...with the fun and entertainment being experienced by the human animals inflicting fear and death on animals who aren't human. It's pleasurable to have "others" killed and then eat the flesh of their bodies. It is a "sport" to terrorize baby animals. Whee, good clean family fun. Sort of a variance of the minstrel show except promoting and reifying speciesism instead of racism. Sadly though, lives are lost in this variation.

I wrote a letter objecting to the rodeo and the glorification of violence...it is difficult to interject any reality in the brain-dead megaphone honking that tends to characterize most forms of corporate media but sometimes letters to the editor manage to do a little of this. The editor reacted by not printing my letter...this happens quite often.

But. Today in the paper a rather poignant letter was printed titled Please Help the Animals. I was glad to see it, very glad, in any given year very few letters are ever printed that take the side of the animals (and most are from me). In a city with almost 100,000 residents...that's really pretty pitiful. It wasn't a letter countering speciesism...but it was asking for kindness and compassion. And by golly, that's a hell of an improvement over celebrating horror.

Write a letter to your editor, write more than one. I was informed recently (after submitting letters for several years) that there's an informal policy here to limit letter writers to no more than one printed per month. Given that almost every daily issue carries some story or stories glossing over barbaric cruelty and oppression toward Earthlings who don't happen to be human...that's not many objections. Twelve per year vs at least three hundred and sixty five (actually more because there is almost always more than one story in each edition that promotes the harming of the targeted Earthlings)...not a very good ratio. But...if others were writing too...and getting printed...that ratio could improve.

Write a letter to your editor, write more than one. Please. And, if you're not living life as an ethical vegan...remember that you're supporting the misery and suffering and death of innocent beings. Don't do that. You can do better...go vegan.

Friday, June 20, 2014

It doesn't matter?

This is a relatively brief video, only a few minutes long (no graphic images). If you're unfamiliar with this fellow and you're vegan...then you probably should become acquainted with him and his efforts. If you are familiar with him...then this clip offers an interesting summation of some of his advocacy.


He speaks truth (at least for me) when he notes that those whom we admire and revere are generally not 'politicians', rather they are the activists. That's an interesting thing to consider.

Is it the case though, that it doesn't matter what you say or how you say it (as long as it is truth)? In some respects I agree...people cannot hear something until they are ready. Facts generally do not change attitudes.

On the other hand though...isn't it true that how you say something can serve to exacerbate or activate defenses and create resistance to a message...irrespective of the accuracy of the message? Was Mrs. Green wrong when she said maybe it hasn't been said well enough?

While you think about this (and always)...please live vegan.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Vegans visiting Vegans.

It was a first for Heartland Rabbit Rescue. A few weeks ago several members of the Red Earth Vegans of central Oklahoma chose to visit HRR.

REV, a recently formed group of vegan advocates and activists who, as part of their mission, wanted to become familiar with and to help the various organizations in the area that are devoted to rescuing/sheltering the victims of human depravity.

Getting ready for a group visit is sort of like having company come to your house...lots of picking up and tidying in addition to your usual tasks. Several faithful HRR supporters pitched in and helped with the extra effort but as usual the brunt was carried by Jeannie (the director) and Brad (her husband).

The bunnies are usually interested when visitors come because that often means treats for them and this visit was no exception...carrots were shared with everyone who wanted them and peas with those who had different tastes.
Buckley takes his carrot from Gillian.

It is always an interesting experience when we have visitors. This group was particularly unique in that all were vegans of the ethical type hence their perspective was different than most who come to encounter the Heartland rabbits.

First time visitors have no idea what to expect when they arrive...and...many of the rabbits are always a little anxious when meeting strangers.

Mark (human vegan) and Judy (donkey) in foreground.
In the past there have been some disconcerting happenings when HRR has visitors so it can be a little...well, not tense really...just sort of full of anticipation.

By disconcerting I mean the time (I was told about this, I wasn't present) a visitor casually reached over into one of the bunny enclosures and started picking up one of the bunnies by the scruff of the neck like kittens or puppies are sometimes lifted. This was a visitor who thought she knew all about rabbits and was perfectly self-assured that she knew how to "handle" a bunny. Often those who think they know about the rabbit tribe are humans who have the most misinformation and pose a real risk to rabbit safety. Rabbit mothers do not carry their babies the way mom cats and mom dogs do and rabbit physiology is not conducive to being manipulated in this way. A danger of serious injury to a rabbit exists if one is picked up by the skin on neck/back area. Picking up a bunny, even correctly, is always a tricky and somewhat risky maneuver...doing it carelessly or ignorantly can lead to disaster.

This woman was thoroughly mis-informed and, as is often the case with those brimming with erroneous information, absolutely certain that she knew what she was doing. So...visitors are fun...but....

That wasn't the case this day. I kept noticing a different feel to the atmosphere (compared to other visiting events) but I couldn't figure out what it was until some time passed. Finally I realized that the difference was that each of these people had already made the leap to grasping that each living being is an individual and that each living being is worthy of value and respect simply by virtue of their existence. They weren't meeting "animals" or "things" or an "it". They were meeting unique and complex and feeling beings who were different from them and also the same (in many ways) as them.

It was a really powerful experience for me to see a whole group of humans approach these former victims of human neglect, greed and callousness with interest and respect and care and without condescension or entitlement or patronization or superiority.  Those latter attitudes are ingrained in most of us throughout our lives as "appropriate" ways of viewing and interacting with Earthlings who aren't human. There was none of that present during the visit. I was truly blown away. It was terrific and exciting and just impossible to reduce to mere words.
Griffin 'pancakes' for rubs from Amanda.

The visitors were attentive and eager to learn and to help and pitched in on some cleaning and other tasks...but one of the most important things that visitors can provide for bunnies is interaction.

Humans tend to view 'petting' as a casual, optional kind of thing but providing socialization and contact comfort experiences for the bunnies is very important and one of the most needed yet often underdone because it is so time intensive and other tasks are so pressing.

Consider...there are more than 100 bunnies currently living at HRR, if 5 minutes of interaction were to be given to each resident that would take one human more than 8 hours to achieve each day. Scenario that out to 7 days a week then you're talking more than 56 hours...every week. Couple that with the time needed for the necessary daily tasks of providing food, water, hay, cleaning, nail-trimming, medical attention and on and on. You get the idea...there just isn't enough time. So...whenever extra kind and caring hands are available it is a major boon.

Cleaning.
The group members were helpful in many other ways too, including pitching in with some of the near constant sweeping that is required.

I noticed that many of the bunnies were not as shy or apprehensive as they often are when meeting new people. That's just an impression and obviously it could be wrong but it might accurate and maybe...just maybe it could be because the bunnies knew their visitors were vegan.

Consider the results of this study...it suggests that even poor smellers like human animals can detect differences between the body odors of those who eat meat and those who don't. Rabbits have about 20x more cells devoted to olfactory detection than do humans...hence it is not unlikely that the bunnies knew they were being visited by folks who don't routinely ingest the results of violence against others...or at least don't smell as unpleasant as those who do.
Buckley (bunny) and Sandy (human vegan).

So, the bunnies had carrots and attention and massages from nice smelling humans...what a day!

The bunnies recognized (nose-wise and attitude-wise) that this group was different. The whole experience was unique and very very positive.

It made my brain start running out scenarios...for instance...maybe it would be a good idea for vegan groups or individuals everywhere to start making trips to rescues and sanctuaries (especially those facilities that aren't vegan) on a regular basis. To serve as ambassadors and carry the message to our fellow Earthlings that not all humans routinely harm others. Think about the residents of those rescues and sanctuaries who provide refuge for the 'domesticated' Earthlings who are routinely harmed or killed by human animals...the 'farmed' beings. It might be an uplifting experience for them to discover that all human beings aren't eaters of beings, or that their rescuers aren't the only vegan humans on the planet.

What would it be like if you lived among beings who controlled everything you did...who had power over you...and also killed and ate your relatives (and/or you)...and you never knew that some of those beings with power were harmless...were conscientious objectors in the war on you and your kind...who didn't kill or eat living beings. It would be like living in a nightmare and never knowing that the originators of that nightmare could be any different. How awful, how terribly and deeply awful.

Marie (bunny) and Angie (human vegan).
To bring a glimpse of hope, a crack of light to a world of human created darkness, can't be a bad thing. It isn't often we have the opportunity to do these sorts of things but if you become the first  vegan an Earthling meets. Well, there ya go.

Consider how few vegans there are (relatively speaking) and how many human harmed beings there are. How many of the victims died never having met any humans who were their allies?

The HRR residents interact with human vegans daily, on this occasion they were able to meet and interact with many human vegans. The whole day was one of smiles and good feelings. It can be difficult to detect duck smiles...but they were there.
Duck smiles all around (green peas in water...a big treat)
A big thank you to all the Red Earth Vegans who visited and comforted and gave smiles to those who live at Heartland...thank you for the visiting and the comforting and the smiles and thank you most especially for living vegan. Your way of life brings light to the darkness created by human harm. And...if you are vegan consider making regular visits to the places where our sister and brother Earthlings are rescued. Their meeting you just might be a first for them. And...if the human operators of the rescue aren't living vegan...then it's an opportunity to show them that vegans aren't only harmless, they're helpers too.

Thank you Amanda, Angie, Gillian, Gina, Mark and Sandy.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The recent holiday

hasn't been mentioned here for a number of reasons...the main one being that being retired sort of makes holidays superfluous. Where holiday used to mean not having to go to work and being free to do whatever I choose...well...that's pretty much every day now. It's almost as much fun as being a kid on summer vacation.

So...holidays don't carry the same sort of connotation for me as they used to. But, it turns out the occasion prompted a couple of posts on blogs that I really enjoyed reading and maybe you will too. The first was written by Lee Hall over at her blog called Vegan Place and it is about Dorothy and Donald Watson and remembering where vegan (the word) originated. While many different human animals have worked towards recognizing the equality of all beings (in terms of rights to their own lives and freedom) over many centuries...the word that encompassed so much in so few letters didn't exist until it was formulated by the Watsons. This is a lovely post giving us a view of these terrific people and reminding us that we owe much to those who came before us and that these two are definitely stars in that group.

The second holiday posting that caught my attention was put up by a true friend of all Earthlings, Bea, over on her Once Upon A Vegan blog. In her writing she reminds us of the death often associated with this day...not of those who are being remembered but the lives lost to provide "food" for the holiday. You also will get a glimpse of a truly spectacular mobile billboard for veganism. Yea Bea!

As I was working on this I happened to notice the return of an old blogging friend. Andrew, who writes on his blog We're All Animals. He hasn't put up a post in a long long time and it was a very happy moment when I saw that he had shared some of his writing...some of what he shared is sad making truth. it is very very good to hear from him again.

One of my favorite posts ever over at the So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan blog notices something that only someone with a keen eye and mind would spot. Any writing that can connect hairy legs and veganism should be known to the whole world. I love it.

Finally, D.E.M. writing at her blog Animal Rights reminds us that part of what we do now is in the hopes of making the future better than the present. Living vegan can be demanding at times, living vegan and raising a human child involves all sorts of additional issues and this post does a lovely job of touching on some of them.

I didn't start out to blog about blogs, but it just sort of turned out that way. There are other great blogs out there that are created and maintained by excellent writers so this posting is not comprehensive by any means but it started out with wanting to mark the holiday by steering folks to Lee Hall's remembrance of the Watsons and just sort of went from there. I hope you enjoy the writings.

If you want to enjoy your life...do...and allow others to enjoy theirs by living vegan. All the best human animals live that way.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A thought experiment.

A thought experiment refers to the consideration of some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences.

What would happen if you took 20,000 human animals and divide them into two equal groups. Make them all, say, 10 years old and equally divided between the sexes. So...you have 2 groups of 10,000 humans each (who are all 10 years old). Now...for the next 50 years one group can only eat plant based foods and the other group can only eat animal based foods. The only other stricture or condition is that no fire/heat can be used on the food. In other words, no cooking or any other application of heat to the food is allowed.

What would the groups look like (in terms of health, survival rate, etc) in 50 years? The survivors from each group would be 60 years old.

As a variant, do the same thought experiment except this time allow cooking. Actually you can find folks who have done at least the plant based food side of it...for example....Donald Watson founded the Vegan society in 1944 and died in 2005. That means he apparently lived at least 61 years on only a plant based diet. I don't know of any members of a group that only lived on an animal based diet...there might be...I just don't know about them.

It isn't difficult to see that healthy survival (e.g., Donald Watson) is easily possible on a purely plant based diet...but healthy survival for 61 years on an purely animal based diet is rather unlikely.

I can't vouch for accuracy here, but it is interesting.
Here's a link to the original graphic and here's a link to a written comparison of digestive tracts (written by a M.D.) for those who might want to explore further.

So...next time someone trots out the notion that humans are "carnivores" you might suggest the thought experiment (the one without the cooking) and see if that doesn't throw a little kink in that notion.

The only way we're "carnivores" (other than maybe eating bugs or worms) is with the assistance of technology (heat). Killing our fellow Earthlings and eating their bodies is about as natural for human animals as flying is...both require technological assistance to be accomplished to any meaningful degree. You can jump off a roof (unassisted by any technology) and "fly" for a short time...but the end result probably won't be enjoyable.

In the meantime, live vegan and you won't need to worry about your healthy survival being negatively impacted by your food choices...and your fellow Earthlings won't have their healthy survival negatively impacted by your food choices either. That's a win-win for everyone.





Friday, May 23, 2014

What we take...

from the other animals is incalculable. This photo is one of the most poignant images I've ever seen in my whole life. Ever. It combines beauty as well as loss.

Maggie and the sunset.
The bunny's name is Maggie and Christina W. (a thoroughly serious bunny friend) took the photo at Heartland. A child of Mother Earth looking through a fence...watching the setting of the sun that warms her and her planet.

The fence is there for her protection...because...while she is a child of the Earth she can't live on her own. She would die without others to take care of her...even though she is an adult and theoretically capable of being an independent resident here on this planet. And...while the fence protects...it also confines.

She can't live on her own because we humans manipulated generations of her ancestors to cause her to be born with that fluffy long covering of hair (fur)...and... manipulated the color of that hair. A white prey animal not in an arctic setting doesn't last long. Any being with a covering of hair that they cannot groom and maintain themselves is not going to last long. If a predator doesn't kill them, the matting and subsequent pulling and tearing of the skin will either drive them mad with pain or infection will set in and death will follow. She is doomed to dependency...for her to live she must be cared for by someone else. For all of her years of life she has been robbed of the ability to live independently.

Maggie is a beautiful being...with no capability of living autonomously away from human animals who will look out for her. The photo captures her beauty and her diminishment and it presents the beauty of the planet she has been denied. All in one exquisite and tragic scene.

Maggie doing what grooming she can.

I've come to realize that one of the ways you can (almost invariably) identify a fellow animal who has been diminished by humans is, once those animals reach adulthood, a fairly high percentage of people (and it is usually women who are willing to do this) who see them exclaim something like: "Oh, isn't she (he) cute!". I specify adult animals because...let's face it...almost all babies are cute. But the bunnies with drooping ears, very long fur, very tiny body size...and on and on...all of these are handicaps deliberately encouraged by manipulation of sexual pairings just for the purpose of human whim.

We call this sort of despicable behavior "breeding"...remember though, that just a word to obscure what is actually being done...forced inbreeding. It is exactly the kind of thinking that drove the "racial" policies of the Hitler era in Germany. It is rationality untethered to full consideration of reality...and when you have that...you and all other living beings and environments would do well to run like hell because what is going to happen is not going to be nice...but the resultant beings might be seen as "cute" (or "profitable" or useful or whatever).

No thought or care for what price the beings are paying, no consideration of the fact that, in addition to the physical handicaps inflicted on the bunny, dog, horse, cat, etc., inbreeding almost invariably introduces defects in immune system functioning and also organ and/or dental and/or skeletal and/or mental defects. Nope...cute, attractive, cuddly, desirable (to human animals)...these are the driving motives and to hell with the price Maggie is paying.

There's a degree of hubris involved in doing these things to living beings for our own desires that is of such a monstrous enormity that I can hardly wrap my mind around it. We're a scary bunch of primates and that photo exemplifies our terrifying ability to inflict horror on a living being, horror of untold depth and...when we see the results we say "isn't she cute?". We scare the crap out of me.

Take the easy way out of creating tragedy and horror and misery and death, live vegan. Maggie will thank you (although it is too late for her) and all other children of Mother Earth will thank you. Well...Maggie might not thank you...she might ask why did you let this happen? (and who can blame her).

Friday, May 16, 2014

Reading...

has been an activity that has been with me a long long time and has brought me much...in many many ways. I read...often...and a lot. I read lots of "mind candy", fiction books without much import nor insight or wisdom in them. Not that fiction can't contain all those things...and the best fiction does...it's just that light reading is what I do before sleeping and I try diligently to sleep pretty much every day.

The field I worked in (psychology and counseling) demanded lots of reading and over the decades I read many articles and books related to that and then when I eased over into teaching computer programming that required tons of reading in a brand new subject area...in addition to keeping up with whatever was going on in psychology. Fiction served as a break from academic writing and it has been something that continues to be a constant source of mild (and sometimes profound) pleasure. For instance, one of the absolute best writers living today is a fellow named J. M. Coetzee...if you want to see fiction illustrating truths...you would have a hard time finding better than his work. (especially his book Elizabeth Costello)

Then came veganism. Ouch. I say ouch because snapping into seeing and comprehending and understanding the world without the crutch of human exceptionalism...or at least trying to divest myself of the distortions and stupidities engendered by this fantasy...has really played havoc with my reading. I alluded to this recently and I'm touching on it again because it seems to be so dreadfully ubiquitous.

I seem to be stumbling into writing semi-regularly about not what I've read...but about what I didn't read and why I didn't read it...sort of a guide to being un-read (as opposed to well-read) and reasons for cultivating such a status. Hmmm.....

I recently obtained a copy of a book called "How Animals Grieve" by Barbara J. King. I was looking forward to reading this and jumped into it as soon as it arrived. By page 5 I started feeling some unease when I read: "The terms "chicken intelligence" and "chicken personality" struck me as oxymoronic, not reasonable descriptions of chicken reality." Now granted, I am/was as immersed in the delusion of human exceptionalism as anyone but undergraduate and graduate studies taught me, quite clearly, that "intelligence" was obviously a relative thing (as well as a human created concept) and that no living organism on this planet existed that didn't possess "intelligence"...yet here is this highly educated person writing that she didn't think chickens possessed intelligence. That might be ok for an uneducated human animal to think...but not someone with a Ph.D.

I kept on reading but page 7 produced this bit: "In writing about animal bereavement, I walk a line stretched taut between two poles. The first is this wish to recognize the emotional lives of other animals. The other is my need to honor human uniqueness." I added the underlining. I stopped reading soon thereafter. When I read that underlined phrase I flashed back on the book title...and thought...she isn't writing a book about the grieving of animals who don't happen to be human...she's writing a book driven by a need to honor human "uniqueness" and she's going to reference grief from the other living beings to do so. I appreciate her honesty and I wonder whether she grasps just how honest a statement that was.

And so I stopped reading. At this point I'm not really interested in reading (with some exceptions) supposedly serious and non-fiction material about living beings that starts off from such a profoundly biased position. I'm just not. To me that would be very similar to reading a book supposedly about human females and their characteristics from an avowed male chauvinist or reading a book about African Americans from an openly racist author. What little accurate information that would or might be presented in those instances would be immersed in and drenched by the ugliness of prejudice and bias surrounding it.

I just don't have the stomach right now to wade around in, what now seems to me to be, silliness masquerading as seriousness. This author may have much to say that is valuable or necessary or interesting...I don't know...I'm not making that kind of judgement. Others may enjoy her work(s) and her observations but I just don't want to subject myself to it. It's too disturbing and sad-making to me...that might change in the future but right now that's just now where I am.

It seems disrespectful and somehow nasty to title a book "How Animals Grieve" and then write that she "needs to honor human uniqueness". I'll give her points for honesty in that statement but I suspicion that the honesty was inadvertent. A better title might have been "The Uniqueness of Humans, as Shown by the Grief of All Other Animals". (she also flunked the index test)

And believe me...our sister and brother animals have a lot to feel grief about as a result of the silly and sad "uniqueness" we ascribe to ourselves. Drop some of your bigger delusions, go vegan, and do your best to quit giving others reason to grieve.

Friday, May 9, 2014

In Honor of all Human UnMothers

On my behalf and on behalf of all sentient beings I want to thank and honor all of you human animal females who have avoided becoming mothers...especially those who are living vegan. Thank you Thank you and Thank you! You have chosen to not participate in or contribute to the ongoing and accelerating destruction of most of the current habitat and environment of the planet Earth. This time of the year is mostly devoted to thanking Mothers...but those who most deserve thanks are the UnMothers.

The human overpopulation of the planet is destroying other species and the environmental conditions necessary to support Earth's species at an astonishing rate. The most significant things any human animal can do to reduce their negative impact on the ecosystem is to not reproduce and to live vegan.
When scientists talk about overpopulation, they are usually referring to a population exceeding its biological carrying capacity which is defined as "the maximum number of animals that a specific habitat or area can support without causing deterioration or degradation of that habitat.” 
 Look at the bottom left corner of the graph, it is estimated that the human population of the planet exceeded 1 billion in 1804. In general, thought suggests that a human population of around 500 million (in other words, a population of humans half of the 1804 population) is a "sustainable" number of people. If you want to poke around, there is an abundance of information available...

What is important to remember is that every additional human animal on the planet means two things for our fellow Earthlings:

A. Less space and food (natural habitat) for other animals.
B. More animals killed for food by humans.

The direction of the number of human animals needs (for the sake of the planet, for our fellow Earthlings and for ourselves) to be decreasing, not increasing. We could make the number decrease by killing (and we are amazingly good at that) or by death from disease or starvation or whatever....or we could make the number decrease by not adding to it and letting death due to age begin to bring the number down. Obviously the least violent and painful way to make our numbers drop is to quit having so many children.

So...thanks is due to those courageous and heroic human females (inadvertently or not) who have had the generosity and vision to help all living beings by being UnMothers.  Your planet thanks you, your fellow Earthlings thank you...especially all mothers who aren't human animals, and I thank you. You are appreciated and valued and treasured.

Your not having children means you voted to have more tigers living in the wild instead of another McDonalds hamburger joint.

You voted to preserve, not to destroy. You voted for the future, not for the now. This is caring, this is concern, this is love...this is true "mothering". Be impressed with yourselves, you should be...we all should be. Thank you!!!
So remember this...when you encounter a human animal who lives vegan you are encountering someone living in a manner that tries to reduce the pain and misery of all Earthlings...when you encounter a human animal who lives vegan and who has opted to remain childless....well...just wow.

This post is somewhat of a repeat of an earlier honor to UnMothers...in the meantime I've been lucky enough to meet several women who opted to live the role of an UnMother and they enlightened me about something I'd not thought of before. Apparently women who don't become mothers tend to get lots of comments and nudges about this. "When are you going to have a child?" is probably one of the least offensive ones. I admit to being rather stunned...and truthfully...rather angered when I heard this.

And yet...such obtuseness is way too often characteristic of our times. Where, more often than not, the default or expected position or behavior is a destructive and unconsidered one and when thoughtfulness or astuteness or kindness or concern for anything or anyone more than ones own self is met with skepticism or derision or rejection. Anyone asking "when are you going to have a child" may be exposing their own small-minded ignorance and absence of concern for Mother Earth and all her Earthlings.

If mothering is about caring then vegan UnMothers exhibit care most of all.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Consumerism...

is defined as: "a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the purchase of goods and services in ever-greater amounts."

I spent my last few years working as a numbers/database wonk and the data I sliced and diced mainly had to to with people who accessed mental health services. There was, during that time, a concerted effort to change the term used to refer to people who used M.H. services from client to consumer. The first time I heard that sort of goofy sounding word "consumer"...I thought it was a joke. It wasn't.

There's a bit of history here. I'll do a very brief summary (necessarily incomplete and inadequate). The word patient has some connotations that Carl Rogers (an influential...and quite interesting and insightful) American psychologist objected to and he pushed fairly successfully for referring to the people seen by psychotherapists and psychiatrists as clients instead of patients. Patient carries the connotation of a supplicant seeking assistance from an expert as well as medicalizing the notion of psychotherapy. Dr. Rogers felt that an individual was the expert about their own life and the term patient disregarded that fact and hence he advocated a more neutral term like client...he eventually called his therapeutic approach "client-centered" and later still just called that approach "person-centered".

I lived through the transition of terminology from "patient" to "client" (not complete, by any means) and here I was seeing a push for a terminology change from one which was designed to empower and recognize the individuals expertise about themselves to a term designed to fit the person into some sort of business/marketing model of the world.

Although curiously, when pressed, those advocating for this change really didn't know why they wanted it, just that "client" sounded old-fashioned and consumer sounded, well, business-like or something. One argument for the change was that it "empowered" individuals by making them into "customers".

As far as I can see the change is one from a structure or equality to a hierarchical one...i.e. whomever has the most purchasing power wins. Fifty thousand customers spending ten dollars each is trumped by one customer spending one million dollars. In other words, the idea that all "consumers" are equal is erroneous...but...this notion that the "market" is "empowering" is one of the persistent (and misleading) myths of our times.

That's no kind of "empowerment" I want anything to do with. At the core it encourages...no....demands...greed, i.e. those with the most money exert the most influence. Unless...there is a system in place that ensures that all purchasing power is equal for all "customers". But...it never includes that provision.

What in hell does this have to do with veganism? Well actually, I think maybe a whole whole lot. When the Donald Watson group defined vegan they referred to the exploitation of animals. A vegan human society/culture is going to necessitate much more of a change than is often thought.

The whole idea of "using" must be drastically re-examined...and maybe even done away with. Consumerism/exploitation/business/marketing/advertizing/profit...all those things/concepts/approaches are going to face major revision or maybe virtual elimination in order to achieve a standard of human behavior that doesn't include harming/using others and/or harming/destroying the place where we live. A standard where justice and/or fairness and/or harmlessness is the measure of value...not money or "markets".

I've been struggling with writing this post for several weeks and interestingly I recently ran across some other writing that included some lines that resonated for me:
 "...we cannot get even close to what we want as vegans within the present social and economic structure. A wider, more systemic vision of social change is necessary if we are really serious about bringing about the liberation of all animals, and determined to protect the environment."
This is from a blog called On Human-Nonhuman relations written by Roger Yates who is a sociologist and a long time (really long time) vegan.

This vegan thing just might mean much much more than it appears if we want to achieve a "life-centered" or "Earthling-centered" human society.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Words and Actions.


If what you say isn't what you do...then it's confusing both for others...and...even for yourself. One way that we can avoid clearly comprehending things is to be confused.


Never forget that your standing up for our fellow Earthlings...no matter how you do it...has an effect. You might not see it right then....but it does.


Veganism isn't a diet...it is a profoundly transforming way of living in relation to your planet and her children. It is the single most important undertaking you can ever hope to achieve. It is the only way to be a cherished and honorable member of the community of life.

The real harm is done by those who passively accept what is and "go with the flow". You risk nothing except some discomfort and some changing of habits in order to join the community of life. Ms. Scholl paid with her life to speak up against wrong...for you to opt out of injustice means behaving a bit differently at the store.

Are you one of the oppressors or are you one whose way of life is that of a just being? There is no in-between...and...it is all up to you. You are/will be one or the other. There's no getting to sit this one out or to not take a side. You either harm the innocent...or you don't.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Contradictions...

I saw this online and thought it was very very apt. I got a major hoot out of it...maybe you will too.


I'm profoundly impressed by those brave and excellent humans who are raising their children as vegans. Doing that takes a special kind of fortitude and courage and I salute and honor each and every one doing this service for their child and...in the process...for all the rest of planet Earth.

Think of it this way, there are many many more humans out there who are raising their children (usually the boys, but sometimes girls too) to "hunt". Now think of whether these parents...who are teaching their children to kill other living beings...beings who are doing them no harm and are simply trying to live their lives. Think of these parents and consider whether they ever receive any flack about "brainwashing" their children. Or any sort of negative feedback whatsoever. I betcha it is either minimal or nonextant.

I'm not even going to address the obvious absence of any negative feedback to parents who raise their children to eat the dead bodies of beings who lived briefly in horrid conditions and were then killed for "profit". Who says a word about such "normal" parenting? (aside from maybe us "weird" vegans)

So...raising a child to be kind...to be consistent...to show respect and to be non-harmful to others likely elicits accusations of "brainwashing" and raising a child to harm others and support oppression and horror is...well...normal.

If that doesn't make you reconsider whether "normal" is necessarily a positive...well...you might want to take your reconsider engine in for a tune-up.

In the meantime...if you are a vegan parent raising vegan children...wow...I'm in awe of your courage and your determination. Thank you. Please give yourself a pat on the back and a hug from me. You are amazing.