Archive: May 2009

Breaking: Human Head Found In Hamburger

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

The Onion reports:
 


 

In related news,

 


 

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Who needs the ACLU when you’ve got the CCR?

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

For reals. The ACLU completely stabbed the animal advocacy community in the throat when it failed to take a stand against the AETA. Even now, 2 1/2 years later, a search of the ACLU’s website turns up one pithy reference to AETA – this despite the government’s use of AETA, as feared, to prosecute First Amendment activities. Like, WTF, ACLU?

Luckily, the BORDC has had our backs from the beginning, and since the persecution of the AETA 4, CCR has become increasingly vocal in its opposition to AETA as well (as evidenced by their latest action alert, which I’ve included below).

So, seriously, who needs the ACLU when you’ve got the BORDC and the CCR? Yawn. ACLU, I’m so over you.

If you’ve got any extra money to throw around and would like to make a donation to a civil liberties group, please consider supporting our real allies, namely, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the Center for Constitutional Rights – as well as the Civil Liberties Defense Center, which is listed as an ally on abolishtheaeta.org – and/or drop them a note to let them know you appreciate their solidarity.

Further recommended reading/agitating:

Green is the New Red

Coalition to Abolish the AETA

Support the AETA 4

The Good Time Bill

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SHARK is holding Coke responsible for animal cruelty; are you?

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

SHARK is still tugging at Coke’s pull-tab, as the megacorp continues to insist that it “will not sponsor events or attractions that feature animals unless the event organizers have policies and procedures in place to support the humane treatment of animals” – this, while sponsoring rodeos.

null

Here’s SHARK’s latest alert; you can read previous alerts here.

———————–

Dear Friends,

I want to make this real easy for you to find because I want you to call Coke again, Coke’s number is: 800-438-2653.

William McMullen, a dedicated activist in Michigan, has learned that rodeo sponsor Coca-Cola now has a special “Alert” on its “Frequently Asked Questions” section of its website. This means Coke is getting a lot of complaints about the rodeo issue.

Here’s the link that will allow you to see this for yourself: Coca-Cola’s Alert

Here is Coke’s latest statement:

‘Does The Coca-Cola Company sponsor rodeos?’

“Coca-Cola cares about the welfare of animals and supports their proper treatment. That is why the Company and our U.S. bottling partners will not sponsor events or attractions that feature animals unless the event organizers have policies and procedures in place to support the humane treatment of animals and provide ready access to quality veterinary care to protect the animals’ health and safety.”

This statement is a damnable lie, and the company knows it. It is both unbelievable and repulsive this corrupt company is going to such lengths to outright lie to its own customers. Coke sponsors numerous cruel rodeos across the country that maim and kill animals. SHARK has been proving for 16 years that rodeo humane rules are a farce, and that rodeo animals are regularly injured and killed. Even the rodeo industry admits this by refusing to release animal injury and death reports.

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It’s 4PM on a Friday afternoon…

Friday, May 29th, 2009

2009-05-20 - Peedee, O-Ren & Kaylee - 0025

…and I’m trying to clean out my inbox asap, so I can go spend the rest of the day playing with my furkids (who are stuck in the house on what is a gorgeous Midwestern day, as I plug away on my laptop out on the patio, because they cornered a rather large snake in the backyard, showing NO FEAR – even though the lil’est dog weighs in at a mere 13 pounds…but I digress).

Anyhow, I’ve been holding on to an old DDB newsletter for forever now, waiting for the perfect opportunity to blog their tips for “Having Fun With Your Dog!” (You might remember that I posted something similar on Valentine’s Day.) Well, the “perfect opportunity” has to to arrive, so eff it. Excuses, who needs ‘em?

Having Fun With Your Dog!

There is nothing that brings us pleasure like watching our dogs enjoy themselves. Have fun with your pooch and remember, a happy guardian has a happy dog…so don’t forget to pamper yourself like you would your best friend!

Play with your Pooch!

* Bark! Ok, your dog probably won’t be fooled by your sorry attempt to imitate, but he may be intrigued.

* Hide the Treat Game. Hide a treat in a clever spot and see how long it takes for your dog to find it.

* Mail Dog- Attach a note to your dog and have him deliver to a family member…”Go find Daddy!”

* Read with your dog. Nothing is more relaxing than cuddling with your best friend and a good book. Curl up with a dog book, like Puddles on the Floor, or Every Rescue Dog Has A Tale. Stroke your dog as you read for a great stress reliever for both of you. *These are great books and your purchase helps dogs needing rescue.

Now go show your non-human animal friends some love, and give ‘em extra smooches from Aunt Kelly.

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The easyVegan Weekend Activist, No. 5

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Action Alerts: Animal & Environmental Advocacy

American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS): No Profit For Pain: Deny License Renewals for AWA Violators

American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS): Help Outlaw Random Source Class B Dealers!

American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS): Great Ape Protection Act Reintroduced!

American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS): Ask Clinique to Join the Leaping Bunny Program

Animal Welfare Institute (AWI): Please Contact Your Legislators to Enlist Their Support on Several Animal Protection Bills! – The Shark Conservation Act of 2009 (S. 850), The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 (H.R. 503/S. 727), The Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act (H.R. 1018)

Center for Biological Diversity: Tell EPA: Deploy the Clean Air Act Now to Fight Climate Change

Corporate Accountability International: CEO James Skinner: McDonald’s must stop siting near schools

DawnWatch: NY Times covers Vick’s release and work with HSUS 5/22/09

Defenders of Wildlife: Will Your Representative Help Sea Otters?

Ecological Internet / The Rainforest Portal: Resource Boom in Peru’s Amazon Threatens Indigenous Peoples’ Livelihoods and Their Rainforest Homes

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Meow.

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

American Bird Conservancy kicks its May BirdWire off with the following ominous blurb:

ABC Video Highlights Damage to Birds from Trap, Neuter, Release Programs

American Bird Conservancy has produced a new, short video “Trap, Neuter, and Release: Bad for Cats, Disaster for Birds.” Each year, feral and free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of our nation’s birds, putting additional pressure on the populations of many species that are in decline.

Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) programs catch feral cats, neuter them, and then release them back to their colonies, which are subsequently maintained by volunteers. In theory, cat colonies managed under TNR will diminish over time through attrition, and eventually disappear. In practice this is not the case.

View the video here.

(If you have difficulty viewing the high-definition version, please click here.)

Here’s the video, along with its description on You Tube:

Each year free-roaming and feral cats kill hundreds of million of birds in the United States. One controversial solution to deal with the feral cat problem is trap, neuter and release. However, evidence is growing that this method is not eliminating the cat colonies or the predation of birds and other wildlife. There are other problems created by feral cats as well including threats to human health, and public nuisance issues. For more information see American Bird Conservancy’s website at http://www.abcbirds.org

(If you can’t view the video, you can read more about ABC’s speciesist views vis-à-vis free-roaming cats here.)

Though I’m not sufficiently educated on the issue to offer a counter to ABC’s assertions* (except to say that the birds with which ABC is so concerned have no greater right to life than their predators, the domestic and feral cats; but the guardians of domestic cats should most definitely keep them indoors, both for their own safety, and that of wildlife), I have to wonder whether ABC also advocates a vegetarian or vegan diet for Westerners. After all, meat consumption is a major contributor to climate change – which in turn is “the greatest threat to birds and other wildlife in human history.” (So says the Audubon Society, another organization that, inexplicably, engages in omni indulgence, if not outright apologism.) Most likely, ABC stands to save more birds by persuading their fellow Americans to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet – or even just eating less of the stuff.

And yet.

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And also, I’d love to hear Laura “Trap, Neuter and Find a Home” Reynold’s** ideas for rehoming all these feral cats when 1) most are not properly socialized to live indoors, with humans (they’re essentially wild animals, hello!); and 2) while between six and eight million cats and dogs enter U.S. shelters every year, only half leave alive. Seriously, what a stupid, uninformed thing to say.

One final thought: humans constitute a massive threat to wildlife. Unrivaled, perhaps. Remember, we’re the cause of climate change, “the greatest threat to birds and other wildlife in human history.”

….

* Luckily, the HSUS and Alley Cat Allies are. For a rebuttal of ABC’s video, start with their websites.

** Of the Tropical Audubon Society; quoted from an interview in ABC’s video.

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Chewy Chocolate Marshmallow Granola Bars

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Last week, the Mr. and I popped into the newest Price Chopper store, situated conveniently in Liberty, MO, i.e., the nearest mid-sized town (yeah, we live way out in the sticks). It also just so happens to be the first Price Chopper with a natural foods department – cool but surprising, given its rather rural location. Anyhow, one of the endcaps sported a massive display of granola goodness – all of it absurdly expensive, natch – and I’ve been craving granola ever since.

So I hopped on the interwebs – can you even remember what life was like before the invention of the tubes? – in search of diy granola recipes. Which I found in spades. Also discovered: recipes for diy granola bars, which I hadn’t even considered! It’s been eons since I’ve tasted a store-bought granola bar; most contain honey or some such taboo, animal-derived ingredient, and those that don’t are (broken record!) absurdly expensive. Okay, well, maybe not “absurdly”; perhaps “unreasonably” is more like it.

Anyhow, once the possibility of homemade granola bars hit my radar, plans for homemade granola hit the back burner. Seeing as all the (mostly non-vegan, but easily veganized) recipes were slightly different, I combined the ingredients and instructions of several to make (drumroll please!) – Chewy Chocolate Marshmallow Granola Bars!

I used some of my newly-purchased Sweet & Sara vegan marshmallows in the recipe -

2009-05-24 - Sweet & Sara Order - 0007

- a risky move, since I wasn’t sure it’d work out – but the gamble totally paid off.

These granola bars are absolute chewy gooey yummy oat-y vegan goodness. WIN.

And the sweets from Sweet & Sara – not bad either. (The understatement of the week.) I had hoped to offer a review soon, preferably as part of a side-by-side taste test with Chicago Soydairy’s Dandies, but alas! – The latter are completely unavailable at the moment.

*pout*hint*wink*

In any case, I bring you…

Chewy Chocolate Marshmallow Granola Bars

(Adapted from ‘Make your own Granola Bars‘ at food.families.com.)

2009-05-27 - Choc Marsh Granola Bars - 0018

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 1

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

I’ve decided to start a new feature (yet another!) on easyVegan.info. In “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs,” I’ll highlight blog posts and news items that examine the various ways in which speciesism parallels or intersects with the oppression of marginalized human groups. In a word, intersectionality.

Previously, I was linking to these stories in my weekly weekend activist posts, but since they’re easily overlooked in a sea of links, I’d rather give ‘em their own home. Deconstructing the patriarchy is hefty shit, yo!

So let’s get started, posthaste:

Stephanie @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Pregnancy at Slaughter: What Happens to the Calves?, Part 1 and Part 2

Over the past few months, I’ve spent some time examining how modern animal agriculture subjects female animals to especially brutal and prolonged exploitation, turning their reproductive systems against them. Their children suffer greatly, too; the daughters of “dairy cows” are enslaved in the same conditions as their mothers, while brothers and sons, an otherwise worthless by-product of milk production, become “veal” calves; females born to “laying hens” become egg machines as well, eventually replacing their “spent” mothers, while males are simply disposed of in garbage bags and wood chippers; and so on and so forth.

In “Pregnancy at Slaughter: What Happens to the Calves?,” Stephanie turns her attention to the fate of newborn calves and late-term fetuses at the stockyard, where their mothers are faced with imminent slaughter. As she explains, some fetal calves die with – inside – their mothers, while others are harvested for use in “science.”

If you eat “meat,” drink milk, or wear leather, you’re complicit in this species-, sex- and age-based atrocity.

Stephanie @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Women, Girls, and the So-Called Achievement of Killing

Following up on an earlier criticism of Feministing for celebrating a woman bullfighter as a feminist hero, Stephanie laments the pseudo-feminist news coverage of Teressa Groenewald-Hagerman, a 39-year-old Kansan whose major “accomplishment” is being the “first woman in the world to shoot an elephant dead with a bow and arrow.”

As Stephanie and others have noted, Groenewald-Hagerman’s slaughter of an elephant – someone’s father, brother, son, partner, friend – is no more a feminist victory than Aileen Wuornos’s unprecedented killing spree.

Elaine at Vegan Soapbox also weighs in:

Teressa was “inspired” to kill an elephant after a male friend said “women could never draw such a heavy bow.” But archery is NOT necessarily a hunting sport. My grandmother was an archer and she did NOT kill. She shot targets, not animals.

In order to prove the male “friend” wrong, Teressa needed only to show strength and skill, not a barbaric blood-lust.

Indeed. Sex-based discrimination in athletics (or any field dominated by men, for that matter) is a pervasive problem; the solution, however, does not lie in the slaughter of even more marginalized beings.

Vegetarian Star: Dan Matthews: Get Obamas Naked, Madonna Is Middle Aged Witch

PETA’s Dan Matthews on Madonna:

I was a fan of Madonna in the 1980s but she became this middle-aged witch who thought her style should be defined by wearing fur coats and eating foie gras. We had a long argument over her glamorising bullfighting in her music videos.

While I agree that many of Madonna’s actions are reprehensible, let’s not pretend that 1a) “witch” isn’t a G-rated euphemism for “bitch”; 1b) “bitch,” when used as an insult, isn’t misogynist; and 2a) “witch” isn’t also a sex-based slur, inasmuch as one never hears a man so insulted (e.g., “You warlock!”); 2b) “witch” isn’t also ageist and lookist, inasmuch as (bad) “witches” are conceptualized as old, wrinkled, ugly, scraggly, disagreeable, hideous creatures.

Alternatives one might employ instead of “witch”: killer, butcher, murderer, social carcinogen, Madge the Bunny Slayer. Lose the -ism in favor of creativity – you get the idea.

And also: fuck you, Dan Matthews.

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"It’s what they do."

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

While poking around the youtubes for some vegan cooking tutorials (I’ve been craving homemade granola lately), I stumbled upon this heartwarming video. Aired on a local CBS affiliate (?) last Mother’s Day, the segment highlights Lilly, a lab mix who, abandoned and pregnant, made her way to the Burlington, Iowa Human Society. Her six pups were adopted; she, sadly, was not. Sadly but luckily, as the Humane Society soon took in a litter of orphaned kittens, all in need of a mother’s love – and milk. Enter Lilly, who nursed the felines and even rescued one lil’ guy from drowning in her water bowl.

The reporters also point out that Lilly’s isn’t an unusual case; in domesticity and the wild, non-human animals of many species step in to care for the young of other species, some who might normally be their rivals: “For most mothers, it’s just what they do. An instinct so deeply wired into them, that often, all they know is to love and care for life.”

A little cheesy and oversimplified, sure – and, in humans, this sort of essentialism can lead to gender stereotyping and misogyny – but, in many animals, human and non, those sentimental cliches about “a mother’s love” ring true. And the fact of the matter is, when you consume eggs or milk or “meat” (as I’m sure the oooh-ing and ahhh-ing reporters do), you’re exploiting a mother’s love, perverting and severing a relationship so vital to individual and species survival, that many mothers would die protecting their children, need be.

It’s what they do.

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DIY Vegan Ice Cream: Chocolate Tofu Ice Cream

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

In between gardening and sundry bits of yard work, the Mr. and I have been busy-busy-busy churning out fresh, diy vegan ice cream with our shiny new ice cream machine. While A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise has proven a source of endless inspiration, I also picked up copies of Wheeler del Torro’s The Vegan Scoop and Vice Cream, by Jeff Rogers.

2009-05-24 - Vegan Ice Cream Books - 0011

While I can’t wait to try out some of these yummy-looking recipes (The Vegan Scoop is so gorgeous, the book itself looks edible), I’m afraid I’ll need to empty the freezer first!

Exhibit #1: The multiple batches of Strawberry Very Chocolate Soy Ice Cream I made this week. (Hey, I had to finish off the chocolate soy milk so it wouldn’t spoil. *shrug*)

Using this recipe for Strawberry Very Chocolate Soy Ice Cream at VegWeb as a guide, we started by making a batch of Chocolate Tofu Soy Ice Cream. This is the first time I’ve used silken tofu in an ice cream recipe – the recipes at AVICP call for arrowroot as a thickening agent – and the result was surprisingly delish. I was worried that the tofu might affect the texture of the ice cream once fully frozen, but not so much. Given the extra protein tofu brings to the plate, I’d like to adapt this basic formula to make additional flavors in the future. Plus, many of the items used in this recipe are shelf-stable (tofu, soy milk; vs. the soy creamer found in similar recipes), which is a huge plus for those who only make it to the natural food store (or just the store) on a semi-weekly basis.

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A few days later, I made a batch of Strawberry Very Chocolate Soy Ice Cream (pictured above, topped with chocolate sprinkles and heaped on top of even more fresh strawberries) – as written, frozen berries and all. I’d be hard pressed to name which batch I like better – they’re both really scrumptious (though I’ve yet to produce a batch that rivals a pint of Purely Decadent). Only problem I ran into was that the recipe was too large to fit in my 1 1/2 quart ice cream machine, so I had to split the “batter” (what to call unfrozen ice cream?) in half, and process it on two consecutive days. Minus the berries, the recipe *just fit*.

You can view VegWeb’s Strawberry Very Chocolate Soy Ice Cream recipe here; below is my tweaked, super-chocolaty version.

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The History Channel makes the case for VHEMT.

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The History Channel - Life After People

Last January, The History Channel aired Life After People, a one-part documentary that imagined what a world suddenly absent humans might look like:

In the program, scientists and other experts speculate about how the Earth, animal life, and plant life might be like if, suddenly, humanity no longer existed, as well as the effect humanity’s disappearance might have on the artificial aspects of civilization. Speculation is based upon documented results of the sudden removal of humans from a geographical area and the possible results that would occur if humanity discontinues its maintenance of buildings and urban infrastructure.

The documentary features the gradual and post-apocalyptic disintegration of urban civilization in a time span of 10,000 years after humanity suddenly vanished. The hypotheses are depicted using CGI dramatizations of the possible fate of iconic structures and landmarks (i.e. the Empire State Building, the Sears Tower, the Space Needle, the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hoover Dam).

Having just received Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us for FSMas, I was super-psyched about the documentary (which aired as part of a block of similar programming, such as Last Days on Earth) – and Life After People did not disappoint. The graphics were amazing, and the time projections – from 1 to 10 days after our disappearance, to 1 to 10,000 years post-h. sapiens – were quite impressive. Perhaps most importantly, and much like The World Without Us, Life After People gave me great hope for the future – or rather, for a future without us. Many of humanity’s so-called “greatest achievements” will prove a small match for the forces of nature, particularly once we’re no longer around to beat nature back. Those species which we haven’t yet driven to extinction will be given a second chance, and the earth will regenerate, reclaiming the land and resources we’ve stolen from it.

As I wrote in a review of The World Without Us,

Environmentalists – indeed, any person [with a] modicum of decency – will be happy to know that much of what we’ve done to the Earth, can be quickly undone. With the exception of those species we’ve already managed to eradicate, many endangered and threatened animal species do stand a fighting chance in a world without us. Many of our “greatest accomplishments,” from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Hoover Dam, will eventually crumble without humans around to maintain them. Forests, grasslands, and jungles will recover lost ground, though native species will be forced into competition with exotic ones introduced by humans. Global warming will slow and the ozone layer will regain molecular equilibrium. Our most enduring legacies will be our most unnatural creations: nuclear waste, plastics, and petrochemicals. Hopefully a world without us will evolve microbes to digest the more than one billion pounds of plastic we’ve dumped into the environment since the late ‘50s. [...]

Whether it happens tomorrow or in 900 million years – when our Sun enters a red giant phase and begins to expand and contract, thus heating the Earth and evaporating our surface water – we will disappear. In this regard, we’re no better than the great megafauna of the Holocene epoch – or the lowly cockroaches and rodents that congregate in our fragile urban areas. It’s not a question of if we will vanish, but when; perhaps we should make our exit a graceful one, taking no more of our fellow earthlings to the grave than we already have.

Call me a hopeless cynic if you’d like, but it’s worth noting that Life After People was the History Channel’s most-watched program ever, with an estimated 5.4 million viewers. Something resonated.

Anyhow, while flipping around the teevee this morning, I was happily surprised to stumble upon Episode 2 of Life After People: The Series. Apparently last year’s documentary proved so popular that the History Channel commissioned a 10-part mini-series:

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The Colbert Bump (Now with Tofurky!)

Monday, May 25th, 2009

At the risk of making this blog a shrine to Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA, allow me to follow up yesterday’s otherworldly thought experiment with yet another clip from The Colbert Report.

Last month, Colbert interviewed Kanishk Tharoor, son of “Friend of the Show” Shashi Tharoor, who was at the time running for an MP spot in India’s General Elections.

Stephen endorsed Tharoor the elder thusly:

Colbert: Now, your dad, Friend of the Show Shashi Tharoor, is running for position as an MP in Kerala, correct? OK, let’s move his numbers right now. I can’t endorse in this country, but I can in India. I hereby endorse Shashi Tharoor. He will put a chicken in every pot. Or – at least – at least – a chicken in every tandoor.

Tharoor: I’m afraid he’s not going to do anything of the sort. He – like me – is a vegetarian. So it’s not very likely that he’s going to do anything like that.

Colbert: Then he’ll put a vegetable korma in…whatever you wish to eat it out of.

At the time, I noted:

What’s so beautiful about this brief exchange is how Tharoor so casually dismantles Colbert’s preconceptions about Indian dietary preferences. Like most Americans, probably, Colbert “naturally” assumes that people the world over do things the American way – or aspire to, anyway – including slaughtering sentient beings by the billions for no reason other than convenience and selfishness. Even though, at +/- 30%, India has “the highest rate of vegetarians for any country worldwide,” Colbert just assumes that Indians want nothing more than plates filled to overflowing with animal corpses. As Tharoor points out, not so much. Colbert normally strikes me as someone who does his research (or has his writers and interns do his research), which makes this particular flub all the more interesting.

A few readers noted that “a chicken in every tandoor” is a play on the political slogan “a chicken in every pot,” a point not lost on me (though I suppose I could have conveyed it better in the post). Even so, I argued, since Stephen was spinning the phrase in order to make it more relevant to Indian culture, he could have spun it further: instead of “a chicken in every tandoor,” “a pound of tofu in every tandoor.” Given India’s high rate of vegetarianism, ‘twould be the odd politician who promises to put animal flesh on the plate of every Indian, methinks.

Anyhow, Stephen offered an update on Thursday’s show; despite steep odds, Shashi Tharoor

defeated his nearest CPI rival P. Ramachandran Nair by a margin of around 100,000 votes when the results were announced on 16 May, 2009.

Tharoor’s victory, of course, being due in no small part to The Colbert Bump.
 

 
During the segment, Stephen replayed his endorsement of Tharoor:

I hereby endorse Shashi Tharoor. He will put a chicken in every pot. Or – at least – at least – a chicken in every tandoor.

which he interrupted thusly:

Of course, since many of his constituents are vegetarian, he could promise a Tofurky in every tandoorky.

I feel like a totally deranged egotist in saying this, but…could that possibly have been directed at me?! Does one of The Colbert Report writers frequent my humble blog?! ZOMG, could it be the Sonic guy?!

Nah, I don’t think so, either. Either way, I love it.

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An otherworldly thought experiment.

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

This first video clip isn’t really related to animal advocacy, but it’s a nice setup for today’s thought experiment (and also echoes some of the sentiments found in “They’re Made Out of Meat“).

On Wednesday’s episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen interviewed astronomer and alien “hunter” Seth Shostak. During the course of the conversation, the two discuss the likelihood that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, speculate what form this life may take – and wonder whether these Others might be more evolved/advanced/sophisticated than humankind.
 

 
Which brings us to the aforementioned thought experiment: What if powerful aliens wanted to “serve man”?*
 


 
Via YouTube user BlackGuitar1313 (and discovered while searching for a full-length video of the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man,” natch.)

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The easyVegan Weekend Activist, No. 4

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Action Alerts: Animal & Environmental Advocacy

Alaska Wilderness League: Tell Congress: The Tongass needs conservation, not clearcutting. [Tiny violin alert! - Should you choose to use the sample letter, please edit for speciesism.]

American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS): Help End Use of Animals in Medical Marketing Demonstrations [Animal Protection Accountability Act (H.R. 2193)]

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) on Change-dot-org: Urge Congress to Pass Anti-Horse Slaughter Bill

Animal Legal Defense Fund on Change-dot-org: First Strike and You’re Out for Animal Abusers

Center for Biological Diversity: Help Protect Sage Grouse in the Bodie Hills

Change-dot-org: Sign Please to Tell Greenwood Village Not To Kill Coyotes!

Corporate Accountability International: Vote now on the worst corporation of 2009!

DawnWatch: Today Show covers Ringling cruelty case 5/20/09

DawnWatch: Rat and mouse protection on Wall Street Journal front page 5/16/09

DawnWatch: Isthmus front page on primate research — heartrending story 5/15/09

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"…even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings…"

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

 

Prologue
Sound of a Battery Hen

 

 
You can tell me: if you come by the
North door, I am in the twelfth cage
On the left-hand side of the third row
From the floor; and in that cage
I am usually the middle one of eight or six or three.
But even without directions, you’d
Discover me. We have the same pale
Comb, clipped yellow beak and white or auburn
Feathers, but as the door opens and you
Hear above the electric fan a kind of
One-word wail, I am the one
Who sounds loudest in my head.

 
Over the past few months, I’ve written a series of posts on the themes of motherhood, maternal exploitation and deprivation, and the intersection of speciesism and sexism in Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals. Previously, I discussed examples of these vis-à-vis “pork production” and the “dairy industry.”

While Masson also explores the exploitation of sheep, goats, ducks and chickens in The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, the mother-child bond between a mother hen and her chicks receives the most attention of these remaining groups – so I’ll conclude my discussion with a look at “egg production.”

Photo via Jeanette’s Ozpix

In previous posts, I noted how female non-human animals (like their human counterparts) are especially vulnerable to exploitation because of their reproductive systems. Their ability to give birth – oftentimes referred to as a “miracle” in humans – makes them particularly valuable as the producers of future “commodities.” Their value, unfortunately, does not lead to preferential treatment from their captors. Instead, they suffer especially brutal and prolonged abuse.

As such, females become machines, assembly lines, destined to produce milk, eggs, flesh – and a replacement generation of baby-, milk- and/or egg- machines:

By the mere fact of their sex, sows, hens, ewes, does, nannies, cows and heifers – not to mention mares, bitches, jennies, jills, etc. – are ripe for especially brutal and prolonged exploitation. Oftentimes, this involves a constant cycle of pregnancy, birth, nursing and baby-napping, culminating with the female’s own death when she’s no longer able to breed or “produce” to her “owner’s” satisfaction.

Certainly, we recognize that the theft of a mother’s child is an atrocity when the victims are human mothers and children. At the same time, we argue that non-human animals deserve no rights because they are mere brutes, “lesser” beings, ruled by instinct and instinct alone. Yet, what is the drive to reproduce and parent if not an evolutionary instinct? And if we follow the popular line of reasoning – i.e., animals are creatures of instinct – does it not stand to reason that the maternal instinct is especially powerful in non-human animals?

Many – if not most – non-veg*ns find it difficult to relate to non-human animals, who (supposedly) are so different from us. At a fundamental level, our differing modes of communication make cross-species communication more difficult, particularly when one species (that would be us) has little interest in communication (and mutual understanding and respect) to begin with. Even so, many humans live with “pets,” the majority being dogs and cats; and, as we’ve come to recognize certain expressions and non-verbal cues in these mammals, such empathy can be extended to other, similar species – such as cows and pigs.

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The "right" to guzzle gas.

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Tom Coburn is fast becoming my pick for Douchebag of the Week.

See, for example, minute 2:30 of this Daily Show clip:
 

 
Coburn’s complaints re: CAFE standards: “What if you want to drive a gas hog? You don’t have the right any longer in this country to spend your money to drive a gas hog?”

Yes! And should I be struck with the desire to toss a barrel of arsenic in my pond, who is the government to tell me I can’t? It’s MY arsenic and MY pond, goddammit, and my grandfather fought and died in WWII so that AMERICA THE FREE would remain FREE from this sort of BIG GOVERNMENT FASCISM.

What’s better/worse, Coburn defends the “right” of individuals to pollute and consume to excess while also working to strip women of the right to bodily autonomy and privacy. He opposes abortion even in cases of rape and supports the death penalty for medical doctors who perform abortions. (Nor does he care to reduce the need for abortion by increasing the availability of and access to contraception.)

In Tom Coburn’s mind, a person has a greater “right” to decide what car to drive, than a person woman* has to decide whether or not she will lend her body and organs to another being – a potential being, which in its early stages exists as a tiny clump of cells – for nine months.

Car purchase > Bodily integrity

Seriously, what a douche.

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Urgent: Tom Coburn & Blue Dog Dems clear the way for loaded guns in national parks!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Updated, 5/28/09:

Sigh. As feared, the measure made it through the House. The new law won’t be implemented until February 2010, however.

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While the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 is a piece of legislation I most definitely support, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced an rider to the bill which would allow visitors to openly carry loaded firearms in our national parks (as well as battlefields, national monuments and historic sites).

The bill passed the Senate yesterday, with an overwhelming majority: 90 yes votes to just 5 no votes. The rider was left intact, with a vote of 67-29.

CNN’s Brianna Keilar explains:
 



 

A number of environmental groups oppose the rider, fearing that it will make national parks less safe for human visitors and non-human inhabitants alike.

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They’re made out of…meat.

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Mylène @ My Face Is On Fire recently wrote about scifi author Terry Bisson’s 1991 short story “They’re Made Out of Meat,” which she noted, “provides an interesting twist on how most humans view animals.”

Wiki’s entry is on the story is rather short (but then, so’s the story!) – and contains spoilers – so if you’d rather be surprised, skip right on down to the video and press play before reading further. The running time is 7 1/2 minutes, but it’s worth every second.

They’re Made Out of Meat is a Nebula Award-nominated short story by Terry Bisson. It was originally published in OMNI. It consists entirely of dialogue between two characters, and Bisson’s website hosts a theatrical adaptation. A film adaptation won the Grand Prize at the Seattle Science Fiction Museum’s 2006 film festival.

(The aforementioned award-winning short is what I’ve embedded below.)

The two characters are sentient beings capable of traveling faster than light, on a mission to “contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in this quadrant of the Universe.” Bisson’s stage directions represent them as “two lights moving like fireflies among the stars” on a projection screen. They converse briefly on their bizarre discovery of carbon-based life, which they refer to incredulously as “thinking meat.” They agree to “erase the records and forget the whole thing,” marking the Solar System “unoccupied.”

Interestingly, the only link listed under “See also” is “Carbon chauvinism“:

Carbon chauvinism is a relatively new term meant to disparage the assumption that extraterrestrial life will resemble life on Earth. In particular, it would be applied to those who assume that the molecules responsible for the chemical processes of life must be constructed primarily from carbon. It suggests that, as carbon-based life forms who have never encountered any life that has evolved outside the earth’s environment, human beings may find it difficult to envision radically different biochemistries. The term was used as early as 1973, when Carl Sagan described it and other human chauvinisms that limit imagination of possible extraterrestrial life in his Cosmic Connection.

From there, you can go to “Anthropocentrism,” “Chauvinism,” “Chemical evolution,” “Carbon-based life,” and “They’re Made Out of Meat.”

I always found our humanoid conceptions of aliens life forms to be unreal and egotistical, but never considered it a form of prejudice. But yeah, “carbon chauvinism” (carbonism?) sounds about right. How fitting, then, that “anthropocentrism” (which links to “speciesism”) is referenced in the entry.

Anyhow, this short adaptation of “They’re Made Out of Meat” is really well done, and – if you’re so predisposed (read: intellectually honest) – the themes can equally be applied to our treatment of non-human animals.

See also: Damon Knight’s “To Serve Man.”
 


 
If you can’t view the video above – or, if you can but would like to read the story as well – it’s available in multiple places online; Google “They’re Made Out of Meat” or try this link, for starters.

Many thanks to Mylène for the video!

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Book Review: Monster Rally, S. Michael Wilson, ed. (2008)

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

A Monster Mashup

four out of five stars

S. Michael Wilson’s MONSTER RALLY is an eclectic anthology of pop culture essays (new and old) which share one common thread: namely, monster movies! The “monsters” highlighted in this fun volume run the gamut, from Mutants (EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS, INVADERS FROM MARS, THE ANGRY RED PLANET) to Monsters (KING KONG, GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE, Mexican horror films, Yeti/Abominable Snowman monster movies) to Madness (Jason, SCREAMING MIMI, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, FREAKS, THE BLACK CAT, Jim Jones, Charles Manson). While novice fans will mostly enjoy this collection, monster movie geeks will get more out of MONSTER RALLY, as some of the references are more obscure than others. Likewise, the bulk of the films discussed are “retro”/B movies, with little culled from the 21st century.

As is usually the case with anthologies, some of the essays are stronger than others, and of course personal favorites may vary according to taste. As a Kong fan, I quite enjoyed editor S. Michael Wilson’s contribution, “A Giant Falls: A Critical Looks at Peter Jackson’s KING KONG,” but perhaps you might prefer Patrick O’Donnell’s “Curse of the Abominable Snowmen: A Bigfoot Researcher Sheds Light on Three Yeti Films.” To each her own! What’s certain is that these geeks (primarily S. Michael Wilson, Patrick O’Donnell and David Jacobs, who penned most of the essays in MONSTER RALLY) know their stuff.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Together, We Are

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Also new from Mercy for Animals is this awesome PSA, “I Am Mercy for Animals.” In addition to the diversity of voices – men and women, adults and children, people of color and the melanin-deprived, professionals and “freaks,” vegetarians and vegans – I quite like how MFA stresses our interconnectedness, our strength in both numbers and multiformity.

The video hits upon so many points, from the individuality of the animals we exploit, to our similarities to and connections with the least fortunate among us, to the role the animal rights movement plays in the larger push for social justice and human rights.

For those who can’t view the video (which may be a few of you today, as You Tube seems to be acting up at the moment), MFA helpfully provides a transcript on its website, which I’ve copied below. I’ve underlined some of my favorite passages for emphasis. (Okay, so about half the transcript is underlined. Like I said, powerful video.)

Thoughts?

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