Monday, October 31, 2011

Backyard bunny...

The October days in central Oklahoma can be spectacular and Sunday the 29th was just one of those days. Nessie Ray routinely goes outside for a morning period and then again around 5:30 in the afternoon. This past Sunday afternoon was exquisite, absolutely no wind, temperature around 60 degrees F. and the last sunshine of the day spilling like gold over everything. The mums are blooming, there is still plenty of green grass and the dirt is soft and inviting after some recent rain.

Some photos of Nessie enjoying that afternoon.
Nessie looks for some tasty grass or roots.
Nessie eyes the photographer.
Nessie poses.
Resting on the rock.
In the above pic at the upper right you can see the terracotta bunny peeking out a bit.
Maybe my favorite shot of the afternoon.
The photo just above really grabbed me when I viewed it. I can easily see her age there...she isn't a youngster any longer. She has lived to the equivalent of her 50s in human years and I can easily see the weight of those lived moments in that photo of her.

There is something about the face of some rabbits that remind me of the face of an elephant...I would not find it strange at all to imagine a trunk on her face. Maybe it is the big ears, but I do think too that the big round forehead and large wide-set eyes evoke that image with me.

She behaves quite differently in the mornings versus the afternoons. Mornings are sometimes accompanied with a binky or hop and a skip, almost always with several bouts of playing chase or dancing but afternoons are mellower, usually some digging and some laying down and soaking up the sights and sounds and just existing on this planet. Being her escort on these outings is a privilege and a pleasure. She's a nifty being and having her live with us has enriched everyone.

Enjoy the pictures, enjoy your October and the rest of last days of this year...and help all the other beings enjoy theirs by going vegan.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Domesticated...

I previously wrote a little about 'domestication' but it is a phenomenon that deserves quite a bit more attention. Like many summary words, domestication condenses some very complex and weighty behaviors down into just one little bit of sound and/or meaning and along the way can easily obscure and hide things that need to be examined and evaluated in order to fully understand what that summary word means.

If you look up the meaning of the term 'domesticate' at the Mirriam-Webster website, the 2nd explanation of its meaning reads: "to adapt (an animal or plant) to life in intimate association with and to the advantage of humans". Notice that there isn't any reference to this adapting having any benefit for the life form involved...the advantage is for human animals...not for the particular plant or animal. Much more often than not, this adapting includes decreasing the animals (and I'm focusing on animals in this instance) ability to survive on their own without human assistance. One of the meanings that tends to get lost when we use the word 'domesticated' is that dependency on humans is usually one of the effects involved in 'domesticating'.

If you look up the term 'wild' at that same dictionary website you will see that it is defined as: 1 a" "living in a state of nature and not ordinarily tame or domesticated"  or b (1) : "growing or produced without human aid or care". In other words...not dependent on humans.


I'm deliberately focusing on the dependency issue because, for most of us human animals, our primary interaction with the other animals we share the planet with is with these particular sorts of animals that have been manipulated by us to be dependent on humans. They have been changed, through our intervention, from their pre-intervention state to a condition wherein they are quite likely to require humans to assist them to survive.

The fact is, if someone wants to know what dogs were like before humans manipulated them, they would need to go observe wolves. If you wanted to know what cats were like before humans manipulated them, you would need to go hang out with some African wildcats because those appear to be the ancestors of domesticated cats.

The notion of 'animal rights' includes the idea that the other animals on this planet have the right to live their lives however they want. The truth is, most other animals, that haven't been 'domesticated' don't hang out around us very often. No one can much blame them, given the reign of imprisonment, terror, destruction and death that is pretty much our trademark behavior whenever we encounter other animals (and often when we encounter other human animals too).

Some folks get all excited and upset when you carry out the notion of animal rights to the logical conclusion that "pets" are species that have been manipulated to be dependent on humans and as such should be allowed to live out their lives but the "breeding" of such animals should be ended. And not only those animals generally thought of as "pets" but also any of the "farmed" animals that have been manipulated to the point that they have lost their ability to survive on their own. Yep, the world as envisioned by animal rights folks would likely be a world where there were no "pets".

Something to think about...the only animal that might want to hang out with you would be one that chose to...not because he or she had to but rather that they liked you and wanted to be around you. Isn't that how those that are respectful and accepting of others relate to one another?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Goodbye October...

you were and are the most gorgeous month of the year here in central Oklahoma. The weather is perfect, sunflowers and goldenrod and many many other wildflowers are putting on their last burst before their winter sleep. The air is cool and crisp and the sun bright without being oppressive, the angle of sunlight makes for a golden look and feel. Exquisite.
Some of the gold.

The purple

More of the gold (the goldenrod).

Midnite and Judy in the gold.

Molly in the gold.
 When I went out into the field to take some shots of the golden flowers, the guard donkeys (Judy and Molly) and Midnite (the magnificent) had to come over to check out the camera and see what was going on. Their beauty contrasts nicely with the gold.

October is lovely. The sun is about about 4 months away from the furthest north it travels and the staggering heat here has finally gone away. The mornings and evenings are mellow or crisp and the days are bright and warm. Thank you nature, thank you...and thanks to Judy, Midnite and Molly for allowing me to capture their images. We are fortunate to occupy such a glorious planet with such beautiful plants and beautiful animals, lucky lucky us. It is amazing!

Thank you again, October, for being yourself.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Still one of the saddest graphics...

...I have ever seen.

I was reminded of this bit of information recently because I ran across a story that included a photo I had not seen before. The story itself was posted with this photo:


The man crying in the photo is George Gillette: "who in 1948 was the chairman of the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa tribes of North Dakota, crying because the tribes’ homeland on the fertile floodplain of the Missouri River was to be inundated by construction of the Garrison Dam." (source)

The destruction of nature is an occasion for grief, one which should bring each of us to tears...but usually doesn't. Look at the faces of the whites in the photo. They are us, jeez.

Destroying forests, flooding homelands, murdering billions of animal beings (of all types)...and so few of us cry, so few of us are filled with sorrow and grief....so much devastation and misery and suffering and death and so few tears. I sometimes struggle against a desire to climb into my bed and cover up my head and not come out again...ever.

Our ignorance is so profound that we have forgotten that what we do to nature, what we do to the other animals...we do to ourselves. Opt out of this destructive insanity, as much as you can...a big step in the right direction is to live as an ethical vegan. Become someone who feels the sorrow, not someone who causes the sorrow. If enough of us join with George Gillette and begin to feel the horror and pain of what is happening then maybe we can stop the stony faced ones who are wrecking and destroying and murdering.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Newer bloggers of the ethical vegan ilk are...

always a welcome addition to the arena. I noted this blog some time ago but wanted to let the infant grow a bit before being assured that ennui and circumstance wouldn't snuff it out early on. Well Kara Kapelnikova  (great name!) seems to be in for the long haul and has written some energetic and excellent posts. Her most recent prompts me to suggest that you read it and explore all the posts and information she has arrayed on her site.

She calls her blog VeganRabbit which is a name that automatically elicits my admiration and approval (Nessie Ray approves too) and she lives with several bunnies as well as some other animal beings.

She writes in this post about the obligation we each have to speak up and advocate for the other animals, that it isn't enough to live as an ethical vegan, we must do more. I think this is true.

While at some future point there may be enough of us that advocacy isn't necessary from everyone, right now I think there is an obligation to spread the word and stir the pot. To tell you the truth, I don't much like it. My own preference is to go my own way and do my own thing and let everyone else do theirs...but the horrors that most of my species are inflicting on the other animal beings and on our planet don't allow me, in good conscience, to stay on the sidelines.

I agree, absolutely, with the notion that each of us has a "social obligation" (her phrase, and a good one) to advocate. It's sort of like...I don't want to be a fire fighter but when the damn house is burning down...well...you get the idea. The suffering and doomed animals don't have the luxury of much of anything and me indulging my own preference to live my own life my own way is simply...in a very real way...abandoning them to a shitstorm of misery and destruction. That's just not ok, it isn't.

I'm not out in the street shouting, although that may be necessary at some time or another, but I do my bumper stickers, I actually gave a talk to a student group about animal rights (lots of blank looks, an orator I'm not), I keep vegan pamphlets stocked at our local library (there have been over a thousand of them picked up in the past 2 years) and I agitate and bother people that I know occasionally about their eating habits, etc. I've written a few letters to the editor, it isn't much, it isn't as much as I want to do and I will do more as time progresses...but it is something and I suspect, if each person that understands that other beings have the right to their lives, would do a few things...I suspect all those folks together doing some things...all that would begin to make a difference.

The full-timers are out there, Vegan Outreach, Mercy For Animals, Farm Sanctuary, United Poultry Concerns, Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary and on and on. They are there and working hard for the world we want, but it is going to be the individuals, you and me, that actually make it happen...and I don't see a way for that to occur unless we start doing some educating and advocating and agitating ourselves...each and every one of us...for as long as it takes...and as much as it takes.

I'll make it easy for you, click on this link and it will take you to a page where you can get a free TryVeg bumper sticker...no postage, no cost, no effort beyond providing an address to send it to. Get the sticker, put it on your car and...there ya go...you're a passive activist. Thank you.

Many of the folks that read this blog do much much more, Bea and DEM  and Patty  and HGV and Andrew and Harry to name just a few, they do much more than I do and I salute and admire them for it. I'm addressing any of you that are doing nothing beyond living as an ethical vegan. I think we have to go beyond that...how much beyond is an individual and situational thing that will wax and wane but beyond we must go...the crap has gone on too long and it is too widespread and too entrenched. Objections must be made, information must be spread and protests must be voiced by each and every one of us. Over and over and over...until the change occurs.

My thanks to Kara for calling me out, for calling all of us out...the other animals need us, the planet needs us...now and in the future. Like she said, this isn't about personal choice, ethical veganism is about justice...it's about being in a world that isn't a grotesque death camp, it's about being in a world not controlled by murderers and destroyers, it's about making life be about life...not about exploitation and misery and suffering and death.

Friday, October 7, 2011

You animal you....

If you're reading this, and avoid classifying yourself as an animal, then take a look at this.
Now relax, if you were concerned about being considered...gasp...an animal. The above drawing is apparently inaccurate even though it was widely used in textbooks for many years. The drawing is attributed to Ernst Haeckel who was the proponent of recapitulation theory ("ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny") which claims that an individual organism's biological development, or ontogeny, parallels and summarizes its species' evolutionary development, or phylogeny. It is suggested that he fudged the above drawings to make them more closely support his theory because they aren't quite accurate. I remember being taught the recapitulation notion and thinking it was a really neat idea. Well, neat it is but accurate it isn't.

However, take a look at these illustrations of two embryos...one human, one pig.
I came across them here, and they are attributed to a medical textbook and are apparently accurate. I am presuming the one on the left is the human but since the author on the website doesn't specify (that I saw) which is which, your guess is as good as mine. If you like these guessing games, here is another one with answers included.

Nature isn't into "neat", nature is primarily interested in results, not how something looks. We are all animals, our ancestors were all subject to the same environmental and evolutionary pressures that resulted in each species of animal possessing the particular bundle of behavioral and anatomical characteristics that distinguishes them. Many of these characteristics overlap and are similar between species and some do not and aren't very similar. Nature doesn't much care how easy or difficult it is for us to identify and/or understand her workings.

But...anyone that looks around at the amazing plethora of different life forms on Earth and somehow believes we human animals aren't the product of exactly the same process that resulted in all the animals...well someone thinking like that has little evidence to support their position as well as likely having some serious reality-testing issues.

My inspiration for this post occurred because the Haeckel drawing was floating around on facebook as an illustration of how closely related all the animals are. Well, we're all closely related and while that illustration isn't particularly good evidence, take a look at this one .
Human soft tissue tail.
 Humans are sometimes born with what is called a vestigial tail as the photo above shows. I couldn't find any data on the frequency of such occurrences but for Jack Black fans there is a quirky movie (called Shallow Hal) starring he and Gwnyeth Paltrow that has a character with a vestigial tail. The movie is a little far-fetched but sort of interesting and the behavior of the vestigial tail is featured in some scenes.

You're an animal, I'm an animal, Bobby Ray (one of the cat beings that resides with me) is an animal...we're all animals...so let's just all get along...and to do that we human animals have to live as ethical vegans. That's really not so tough...and...being vegan makes us much better at being able to be neighborly to our fellow animals.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I'm currently reading a book titled:

Original Wisdom by Robert Wolff. The author also maintains a modest web presence and on that site I found the following writing that resonated fairly strongly with me.
 ...As I age I feel more and more obsessed by simple. Doing without rather than getting more. One of my favorite authors, Ursula K. LeGuin, writes "Owning is owing; having is hoarding." Very true, very wise.

 The human world is not simple. The world we made is a tangled disaster of rules and regulations forcing us to be what we were not born to be. We may think we can but we cannot own this planet. We are as much part of the planetary ecology as a virus or a tree. What we call civilization is a top down system designed to acquire always more. Obviously impossible. We invented power we can no longer control. And with that power we abuse and destroy this planet, our only home. Poisoning its precious soil, the water, the air all humans need to live. Our destructions are eradicating thousands of species; gone forever. An impoverishment we cannot restore. Mother Earth needs to be honored and nurtured -- today it seems we cannot stop (trying to) control...
 The author isn't writing from an animal rights perspective but rather about ways of living and being that human animals once embraced but have now (for the most part) moved away from or lost. We seem to have destroyed some critical connection to our planet and her other beings and the stories in this book attempt to describe some of what we have lost.

We seem to be on some mad power trip that is insatiable and when we encounter a difficulty we  attempt to overcome that difficulty by applying more power and control.

Many years ago I ran across Sheldon Kopp's Eschatological Laundry List and was struck by the wisdom in many of its formulations especially the one that says: "We must learn the power of living with our helplessness." I sometimes think that much of western culture is an avoidance of and a denial of that truth. And the denial has made us monstrous.

At the heart of the concept of animal rights is the notion that living and letting live is a pretty good guide to how to behave. We seem to have a lot of trouble with leaving the other beings to themselves. We're big on the idea of control...and we can see where that has gotten us.