Monday, May 31, 2010

Confirmation: Vegans think differently........

While anyone that is vegan knows that their thinking differs from non-vegans, it is nice to see some empirical evidence backing up subjective experience.  Over at the Vegan Soapbox blog, Elaine Vigneault (who is a wonderful asset for animals and the ethical vegan cause) has written about a recently conducted brain scan study identifying the differing areas of brain activity occurring when omnivores, vegetarians and vegans are presented with the same stimuli. 

So, next time you (a vegan) are in a conversation with a non-vegan and you begin to wonder if they are from the same planet you are.......well, they might be from the same planet but their brain is not operating the same as yours and now there is empirical data supporting that fact.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cat companions

Two cats live in my house, one was a shelter cat, both are sterile.  I am posting this because it is important to emphasize that those of us who have feline companions should keep them indoors--- always.  There are multiple reasons for doing so, some of these were not so true in the past.

The types and severity of diseases outdoor cats are exposed to have increased in number and intensity over the past 30 to 50 years, feline HIV and feline heartworm were unheard of when I was a child.  These changes are highlighted by the fact that the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is estimated to be 5 years and that of an indoor cat to be 12 years.  A significant difference.

In addition, outdoor cats will follow their nature and hunt, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of a myriad of living beings that make their homes outdoors.  Extending lives and saving lives is pretty much a good thing, eh?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One thing for sure.....

The single most significant thing that can be done for the environment, for the animals, for all that live on the earth is to reduce the number of humans on the planet. There are way more than twice as many people in the US than there were when I was born, and I assure you life is not twice as good. It has been going in the other direction. We would be wise to provide a tax credit for those that choose to remain childless, however I will not hold my breath waiting for wisdom to kick in. In fact, were we an honorable people, considering what we did and do to the folks that really own the country we would have no more children....none. And when a family died out, what they own would revert to the ancestors of the original inhabitants.....such would be the honorable thing to do, I will not hold my breath waiting for that either.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What's all the fuss about?

My experience of going completely vegan (after many years of diddling around as a semi-vegetarian) was a profoundly emotional one. Others have written about this phenomenon much more eloquently than I can (see here or
here for instance). By the way, that second link takes you to a copy of the original newsletter about veganism by Donald Watson written in 1944.

My path to reaching that emotional point began because I ended up in a situation in my employment where I interacted with some of the American Indian tribes and tribal members. Folks in Oklahoma drive around in vehicles where Native America is displayed on most license plates. However, most Oklahoma citizens are as ignorant about American Indians as they are about veganism. Poke the typical Okie and she/he will tell you that Indians have it good because they get all that government money and now are getting rich off the casinos. I made the error of deciding I wanted to educate myself about American history and American Indians.

I do not recommend doing such a thing, unless you are prepared to begin a journey that is disturbing beyond that which words can express. I am compressing several years of reading and learning here and I will post some references in the future.......for those interested there are numerous websites (here for instance or here) and resources on the internet that are easily accessible that provide useful information.

To summarize, the United States (and every other country in this hemisphere) is founded on nothing less than theft, Europeans invaded the western hemisphere and over time almost completely destroyed the indigenous peoples living here. Columbus was a rapacious asshole who was out to make a buck and he did so by exploiting, murdering and enslaving indigenous peoples. The prevailing ethic of European contact with the North and South American Continents was and still is "might makes right".

Now, all the wonderful soothing fairy tales that European Americans tell themselves to avoid this knowledge constitutes what passes for American history. Thieves and murders become "settlers", "pioneers", "heroes" and "leaders". Every person in the western hemisphere that does not have indigenous ancestors is a recipient (in one way or another) of the fruits of these crimes. Don't agree? Next time you happen to handle a twenty dollar bill, take a look at the picture on there and then go educate yourself a little about the Cherokee tribe and the "trail of tears".

So, here I am, a well-educated fellow suddenly coming to realize how blissfully ignorant I was and had been. Fooled by the soothing words like treaty, stupidly not realizing that when you hear the word treaty connected to Native Americans you should know that it means the Native American most likely had a gun pointed at her head when she "signed" the treaty. Agree or die. Even then, the treaties meant nothing if the Native Americans ended up with something the white folks wanted. It was embarrassing to discover how ignorant I had been.

I appreciate the patience shown me by my friends that are Native American, they, of course knew all this, had grown up with it, still lived it...... often wryly accepted it in some form or fashion. Continued to be impacted by it on a daily basis.

In terms of innocence, likely some of the most innocent groups of people on the planet are the Indigenous Americans. They are the victims, the survivors, living in the aftermath of the American Holocaust. They were living here, in their lands, and here come the barbarians (who touted themselves as civilized). Coming because they had screwed up things so royally in their own lands they wanted to get out. Welcome to America. Don’t like what you have done to your own homeland? Come on over and invade the homeland of others.

Trying to hold together the remnants of their cultures and tribes and families and lands. Some Native Americans have disconnected almost wholly from their ancestral cradle, others have managed uneasy accommodation with the dominant culture, finding ways to walk in two worlds. Make no mistake, the slow motion disaster continues for Native Americans, just take a look at health, crime and poverty statistics regarding American Indians.

If this country (and others) could so blithely devastate groups of humans and behave as if nothing at all was wrong, what else might be going on that was right out in plain sight but overlooked completely? At least the humans being exploited could sometimes fight back, could protest.

What about living beings that couldn’t fight back, had no voice with which to protest? Who didn’t have a chance of trying to learn the ways of the dominant group, the language of the dominant group, who could never ever maybe fit in and possibly be left alone.

Well, consider the buffalo. These beings were unlucky enough to be associated with the lifeways of a number of plains tribes. Oops, European Americans almost sent them to extinction. Well, maybe that was an accident of history --- perhaps "collateral damage" from efforts to "subdue" the Native Americans. What about the Passenger Pigeon, apparently at one time the most numerous bird on the planet? Oops, all gone. Being "easy" to kill doomed them to extinction at the hands of European Americans. The Carolina Parrot, also hunted to extinction.

Death, death and more death characterizes this culture and its attitude toward any being or groups of beings that possesses something that is desired and cannot resist effectively. I find all this odious and disgusting and prompting of despair beyond words.

The animals, the others, those with no human language. Joy Williams (Ill Nature) wrote it doesn't matter, even if the animals could speak with the tongues of angels they couldn't save themselves from us.

We have deemed their feelings to be worthless, no matter that they suffer at our hands. We ignore their experience of this world we share, care not for their homelands, their shelters, their paths, their families, their fears or joys. If we think their flesh tastes good, all their wonders and dreams are swept away and we slaughter them and slaughter them. We take their children and kill them, the milk meant for their children and drink it, their fur and their skin and wear it, their pain and terror and discount it to nothingness.

We take magnificent beings and make them parade in silly costumes for our entertainment, we terrorize baby animals and rope them and tie them up for "sport". We pretend we are "civilized" yet behave toward the other beings on this earth like the most brutal and depraved despots and tyrants that have ever lived. We inflict suffering and misery beyond measure upon creatures that have never left Eden, and cover it up with stories of contented cows and happy meals.

These are some of the things I have learned over the past few years, and I am stunned by my knowledge.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A visual generator of provocative questions.

This nicely done video comes courtesy of Elaine. She blogs as Kangaroo Elaine and I recommend her videos and her blog highly.

Initial Post

My primary purpose in establishing this blog is to add my voice to the community of humans that are horrified, justly so, by the carnage and destruction visited on most living things and on the environment by the manner in which most of us conduct our lives.

The earth was not made for us, other species were not made for us, yet we treat other living beings and the earth itself as if they were all a cheap motel room that we checked into under an alias and no consequences will accrue to us no matter what we do.

Aaargh, it makes my head feel like exploding and I am too old to have to feel this way.