Book Review: The Many Selves of Katherine North, Emma Geen (2016)

Friday, July 8th, 2016

How do you say “AMAZING!!!” in bottlenose dolphin?

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. This review contains clearly marked spoilers.)

One. Mustn’t trust humans too much.
Two. I know what they can be like.
Three. I was one once—

How can they sell Phenomenautism as image and experience? How can they sell it at all? A Ressy isn’t a consumable. Phenomenautism is meant to consume you.

Buckley always said that reading is the closest an ex-phenomenaut can get to wearing another skin.

The year is 2050, or close enough, and while humans aren’t yet locomoting via our own personal jet packs, we have developed all sorts of cool technology. Chief among them? Phenomenautism, which involves projecting one’s consciousness, using a neural interface, into the bodies of other animals.

At just nineteen years old, Katherine “Kit” North is the longest projecting phenomenaut in the field, with seven years under her belt. She was recruited to join ShenCorp – whose founder, Professor Shen, all but invented phenomenautism – when she was a kid. Kit’s Mum was a zoologist and her father, a wildlife photographer, so an affinity for our nonhuman kin runs in the blood. Kit works in the Research division, inhabiting the bodies of nonhuman animals to aid outside companies and nonprofits with their research; for example, as a fox Kit helped track the local population for a cub study orchestrated by the Fox Research Centre. She’s been a bee, a whale, a polar bear, an elephant, a seal, a mouse, a spider, a octopus, a tiger, and a bat, not to various species of birds. Very rarely does she get to be herself – although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Nor is she quite sure what that means anymore.

ShenCorp is the only company to employ children exclusively, owing to their superior brain plasticity, which aids in adapting to the new bodies (“Ressies”) they inhabit during jumps. As Kit watches her friends and peers disappear, one by one – let go for poor performance – she worries for her own future. When she’s hit by a car inRessy – destroying the body and ending her study prematurely – termination seems imminent. Yet instead of a pink slip, her boss offers her a promotion, of sorts: to the new Tourism division, where the “animal experience” is sold to regular folks – for a hefty sum, natch. Kit finds the idea of Consumer Phenomenautism repugnant … yet not quite as bad as giving jumping up altogether. Kit accepts, unwittingly stumbling into a corporate conspiracy that runs far deeper that she imagined.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep, Peter Öberg, ed. (2015)

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

A Mostly-Solid Batch of Swedish Speculative Fiction with a Few Standouts

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review from the publisher. Trigger warning for rape and violence.)

Short story collections are always a little tricky to rate, especially when there are a number of different contributors. In Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep, there are exactly twenty-six. The unifying factor? All are Swedish authors, and the anthology has a speculative fiction/scifi/fantastical bent. Keeping with the title, most of the contributions are science fiction, or at least science fiction-y, with robots and AI figuring into many of the plots. As promised, steampunk horses (in an old timey Western setting, no less!) and sassy goblins also make an appearance.

The result is a mostly-solid mix of speculative fiction, though the odd fantasy/fantastical stories felt a bit out of place and disrupted the overall feel of the collection. As usually happens with anthologies, I enjoyed some stories more than others; there are a few that I absolutely fell in love with, and will no doubt revisit again in the future (“The Rats” in particular) and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I DNF’ed two of the tales (“Melody of the Yellow Bard,” which is way too wordy and could benefit from a more ruthless round of editing; and “The Philosopher’s Stone,” which seems like a perfectly fine story but just wasn’t for me).

Many of the pieces fall somewhere in the middle, with quite a few 3- and 4-star ratings, and a smattering of 2-stars.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Alien Child, Pamela Sargent (1988/2015)

Friday, May 29th, 2015

A Solid SciFi Story for the Tween Set

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for rape.)

The emptiness of the world outside told her that the last story of her people had ended badly.

For as long as she can remember, Nita has lived in the east wing of the Kwalung-Ibarra Institute with her furred, cat-like guardian, Llipel. Their only company is the robotic gardeners that maintain the grounds; the artificial intelligence that controls the Institute; and, later, a cat retrieved from the cold room for Nita. Llipel’s companion and fellow space traveler Llare occupies the west wing, but the two only communicate through the mind, and then only when necessary: this being their time of separation, Llipel and Llare are compelled to pursue solitude – from members of their own species, if nothing else.

As far as Nita knows, she’s the last remaining human on earth. That is, until she attempts to call Llare on the intercom and is stunned to find a furless face staring back at her. On the cusp of womanhood – no longer a child, but not yet an adult – Nita makes a shocking discovery: there’s a human boy named Sven just a stone’s throw away. And, for some reason that neither of them understand, both their guardians have kept the presence of the other a secret from their charges.

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Book Review: The Troop, Nick Cutter (2014)

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Things that make you go “EWWWWWWWWWW!”

four out of five stars

Fact One: a boat had arrived.

Fact Two: he and the boys were on an isolated island over an hour from home. No weapons other than their knives – blades no longer than three and a half inches, as outlined in the Scout Handbook – and a flare gun. It was night. They were alone.

It was supposed to be a last hurrah for the boys of Troop Fifty-Two.

At fourteen years old, the guys – Kent, Ephraim, Max, Shelley, and Newton – had come up together through Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, and Venturers, but most (save for the ever-nerdy Newt) now felt that they were too old to be running around in the wilderness, earning merit badges for activities as dorky as bird watching and first aid. And so the late-autumn camping trip to Falstaff Island was to be their final adventure together, much to Scoutmaster Tim’s disappointment.

Their peace and quiet is interrupted on the very first night, with the unexpected arrival of an emaciated and ravenous stranger in a speed boat. While Tim attempts to treat the obviously ill man (in his other life, the Scoutmaster is a GP), there’s no cure for what ills him. “Typhoid Tom,” as he’d later come to be known in the papers, is Patient Zero in an experiment gone horribly wrong…or horribly right, depending on which project backer you’re talking to.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Project Utopia: A Novella, Pam Mosbrucker (2013)

Friday, February 28th, 2014

What just happened?

two out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Goodreads’s First Reads program. Also, this is not a spoiler-free review.)

Based on previous Goodreads reviews, I had high hopes for this novella. Or moderate expectations, at the very least.

The seed of the idea that forms the root of the story is certainly promising: Some time in the not-so-distant future (2075, to be precise), scientists have developed a biochip that will potentially face of humanity. With a name like “Project Utopia,” you’d expect this advancement to be downright revolutionary – curing all disease and eradicating poverty, for example – only not so much. Among its many functions is the ability to store vast amounts of information (thus eliminating the need for passports, drivers licenses, and the like) and dispense medications remotely. Convenient, yes – but hardly utopian. And it’s not difficult to see how such tools could easily be misused: for example, medications might be dispensed without the patient’s consent, thus enabling the forcible medication of those with mental illnesses, or allowing the government to prevent reproduction in certain “undesirable” citizens via involuntary contraception.

Some of the biochip’s controls are downright dystopian: from anywhere in the world, and with just a few keystrokes, a programmer can command a biochip to make its host fall asleep, turn himself in to the nearest police station, enter quarantine – or die. Yup, there’s a kill function. I’m sure that the higher-ups at Intelli Inc aren’t exactly advertising that last advantage, but still. Common sense, people.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: We Animals, Jo-Anne McArthur (2013)

Monday, February 17th, 2014

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“It will change the world, for the better, for us all.”

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free pdf copy of this book for review.)

“What you see on these pages may surprise or disturb you. My aim is not to turn you away but to draw you in, bring you closer, make you a participant. I want my photographs to be beautiful and evocative as well as truthful and compelling. I hope you’ll take the time not just to look but to see — if only as a mark of respect for the billions of animals whose lives and deaths we don’t notice. To look at this book is to bear witness with me, which means also that we confront cruelty and our complicity in it. As a species, we have to learn new behaviours and attitudes and unlearn the old ones.” (page 9)

Photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur has spent the last decade and a half traveling the world – both on her own and in the company of animal activists – documenting our complicated relationships with nonhuman animals. Relationships that so often boil down to objectification, exploitation, and consumption. If you’ve been involved with animal advocacy for any length of time, no doubt you’re familiar with some of McArthur’s images. She’s photographed open rescues conducted by Animal Equality; documented the affecting actions of Toronto Pig Save; and set sail with the crew of the Sea Shepherd. McArthur bears witness through the lens of her camera, exposing atrocities that many of us would prefer remain invisible.

Recently featured in Liz Marshall’s The Ghosts In Our Machine, We Animals features 100 of McArthur’s photos – some taken for the film, others on behalf of various animal advocacy organizations, and the rest during the artist’s travels. The result is a stunning portfolio that’s as beautiful as it is heartbreaking. From the Calgary Stampede to the Tam Dao Bear Sanctuary in Vietnam, McArthur brings us examples of unimaginable cruelty – and selfless compassion.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Culling, Robert Johnson (2014)

Monday, January 6th, 2014

The Momentum of Folly

two out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free ARC of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

Young upstart Dr. Carl Sims is moving on up the food chain at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta – though not as quickly as he’d like. While visions of Level 4 Ebola research dance in his head, Carl is dispatched to Guangdong, China, in order to track down an emerging flu virus. What was to be a rather mundane and tedious assignment quickly morphs into a battle for the future of humanity, as Carl is thrust into a conspiracy orchestrated by his senior colleagues. Led by his own superior on the assignment, Dr. Jenna Williams, the scientists hope to release the 1918 “Eskimo” flu strain, thus “culling” two thirds of the earth’s population and saving the rest from impending environment collapse. It’s up to Carl to stop them – that is, if he doesn’t decide to join them.

Robert Johnson has an interesting idea in The Culling – but, for whatever reason (or combination of reasons), the finished product just didn’t do it for me. Johnson is an adept enough writer, and mostly keeps a quick pace, but it takes some time for the conspiracy angle to get off the ground. The book – or at least the ARC I received – isn’t divided into chapters, which makes the story feel as though it’s unfolding more slowly than it is. Johnson fills the book with facts and figures that are supposed to drive home the urgency of the situation, but which mostly made my eyes glaze over. (To be fair, I’m already convinced that humanity is headed swiftly off a cliff. A member of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement – emphasis on “voluntary” – I can do Johnson’s “just two children” credo two better: I have none. So I didn’t really need any convincing, is my point.)

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, Mark Hawthorne (2013)

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

They Shoot Narwhals, Don’t They?

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the author’s invitation. Also, trigger warning for discussions of violence, including that of a sexual nature.)

“Hierarchies feed oppression because it allows for valuation: those at the top are more valued than those at the bottom. Oppressors like hierarchies that keep animals at the bottom because then you can do to humans what you do to animals if you say that the humans are like the animals. So it feeds oppression to have animal objectification.” – Carol J. Adams (page 492)

“Change is hard, but not changing is just as hard.” – Carol J. Adams (page 487)

“Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more.” – Franz Kafka (quoted on page 490)

In Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, author-activist and longtime vegan Mark Hawthorne examines some of the effects of these human hierarchies, which universally place nonhuman animals – an estimated three to thirty million species, comprised of trillions upon trillions of individuals – at the bottom of the proverbial shit pile. (That such categories even exist – human animals, and all the “others” – is itself a testament to the self-centeredness of the human species.)

While I was expecting an encyclopedic, A-to-Z look at animal suffering, Bleating Hearts is something much different; Hawthorne shines a light on practices that, for whatever reason, don’t garner as much attention in animal activist circles: Balut eggs, an Asian delicacy that involves boiling developing duck embryos alive. The plight of the ever-popular slow lorises (please don’t forward those YouTube videos, people, no matter how cute they seem!). Dolphin-assisted therapy (cruel, and a scam). Horse fighting (which often ends in the serial rape of a mare, positioned in the ring to induce the stallions to compete). Rogue taxidermy. If you think you know all there is to know about animal exploitation, think again. Even the most seasoned activist will discover something new within these pages.

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Book Review: Boy of Bone, K. R. Sands (2012)

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Her Dark Materials *

five out of five stars

If a collection of short stories “inspired by the mütter museum” strikes you as something that would lean inexorably toward the morbid and gory – the stuff of campfire ghost stories and Halloween horror tales – you’d be half right. While the twelve tales found in Boy of Bone are at turns gruesome and macabre (at times intimately so), author K.R. Sands exhibits great empathy and compassion for her subjects, despite having only conversed with them in her imagination. The result is a collection of fictional stories, inspired by real people and events, that manages to imbue “mere” museum displays – objects and artifacts – with a touching dose of humanity.

Through Sands, some of the “dead voices” who inhabit the Mütter Museum are given the means to speak, to tell us their stories, filled as they are with pain, grief, sadness, suffering – and, joy, peace, and divinity as well. From a man mourning the loss of his conjoined twin (“The Pump Twin”) to a scientist who has fallen “in love” with one of his own medical devices (“The Face Phantom”), the characters you meet within these pages will not soon be forgotten.

While it’s difficult to pick and choose favorites, I especially enjoyed:

* “Madame Sunday’s Horn” (a woman comes to accept and even embrace the unicorn horn growing from her forehead as a sign of god’s grace);

* “What Is Written, Sweet Sister?” (a young Union nurse requests the skin of her deceased soldier brother, so that it might be used to bind a prized family volume – not a Bible, but a book of Poe!); and

* “Boy of Bone” (the sister of a boy – long dead, suffocated by his skeleton’s skeleton – finds solace in the exhibition of his remains at the Mütter Museum).

Set in the antebellum south, “Black Bodies” is particularly raw and devastating. Here we meet an aging, paternalistic doctor who literally builds his career on the backs of black bodies. Though he fancies himself a “savior” of sorts to the poor African Americans he “serves” (dubiously so), he finds his narcissistic self-view challenged when he accepts an interview request by an out-of-town journalist. (A woman, at that!)

I must confess that I was unable to finish one piece – “Do Not Feed.” Inspired “by exhibit on lead poisoning and dog skulls,” the story – or what I could gather of it, anyway – centers on the moral crisis of a technician at an animal research facility. There in the soft comfort of my bed, surrounded by my own pack of seven rescue dogs, “Do Not Feed” (the title of which refers to the practice of starving vivisected animals prior to “euthanizing” [read: killing] them, so that they’ll leave less of a mess for the humans to mop up) proved just too much to bear. No doubt influenced by Sands’s experiences as an animal laboratory technician, I can only hope that the story’s ending reflects her own changing attitudes toward the necessity and humanity of animal research.

Boy of Bone is a gorgeously written, gorgeously illustrated tome – a work of art. Jon Lezinsky’s illustrations complement Sands’s words beautifully. Although … I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed to find that Boy of Bone doesn’t contain a single photo from the Mütter Museum. While I understand that the museum is fiercely protective of its exhibits (see, e.g., its strict photography policy), are a few pictures in a book that arguably helps to promote the museum too much to ask? One “inspiration” photo per story, perhaps? Especially considering that Sands is married to the director of the museum!

My only other complaint is that the author doesn’t go into much detail about the exhibits behind the stories; the only information we get about Sands’s inspirations amount to not-quite-one sentence blurbs sandwiched in the table of contents (e.g., “…by old photographs of medical subjects” [“Black Bodies”] or “…by the exhibit of a giant colon” [“Freddy Chang’s Live-Die Museum Restaurant”]). Coupled with the lack of information on the museum website, and you’re left to fill in the blanks with your own imagination.

Strong trigger warnings for violence, rape (including incest), racism, sexism, speciesism, and cruelty to animals.

* Also, how can I help but love an anthology whose forward shares a name with my favorite trilogy?

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined.)

Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs (Karen Davis, 2009): A vegan feminist book review, with recipes!

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Bizarro - Thanksgiving-Christmas

Two holiday-themed Bizarro strips.
In the first, a group of turkeys looks on in horror and disgust as a farmer, clad in the requisite red flannel, hauls two of their terrified brethren from the barn, seemingly for slaughter. Two turkeys in the foreground discuss this all-too-predictable turn of events: “This is all about ‘thanks.’ Next month, the massacre starts all over again in the name of ‘peace on Earth.'”
The second strip shows a turkey angel visiting with a reindeer, who looks a little mopey despite the festive bells slung around his neck. The wizened turkey advises, “I’m just saying, WATCH YOUR BACK. I was a holiday icon too, & look what happened to me.
Images copyright Dan Piraro.
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I realize that a review of an animal rights book isn’t wholly in keeping with the theme of veganmofo; so, to compensate, I’ve included a number of yummy, egg- and bird-free recipes at the bottom of this post. Hopefully this will help drive home that point that the atrocities described in Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs are 1000% unnecessary while also placating the veganmofo goddesses! (No smiting of my person, mkay? Nevermind that I also have a blog named Smite Me!)

Out of respect for my fellow mofo’ers, I’ve purposefully omitted any visual representations of animal exploitation from this post, so you can scroll through without worry.

Or, if you’d rather not read the review, you can jump straight to the recipes!

Book Review: Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An inside look at the modern poultry industry by Karen Davis (1996; revised 2009)

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

[FYI: you can download a pdf copy of the first edition here. Also, by way of disclaimer, I received a free review copy of this book from the the publisher, The Book Publishing Company. As in, nearly a year ago. Slow, who me?]

Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs by Karen Davis (2009)

In the United States, nearly 10 billion chickens are slaughtered every year; worldwide, the number is 40 billion and growing, as agribiz continues to export America’s extremely unhealthy, meat-laden diet – as well as its industrialized method of animal “farming” – to developing nations. At any given time, 5 billion hens “live” in battery cages on American “farms,” so that their bodies may be exploited for eggs. Because male chicks are an unwanted byproduct of this system, 250 million of them are discarded – suffocated, gassed, ground up or merely thrown out, alive – annually.

While chickens – hens, roosters and chicks; mothers, fathers and children – represent the single most exploited species of farmed animals, they receive perhaps the least consideration. More chickens are enslaved and slaughtered per year than cows, pigs, sheeps and goats combined – and yet, along with cold-blooded mammals such as reptiles, chickens and other birds are not even considered “animals” under the U.S. Animal Welfare Act. (Granted, animals farmed for food and fiber are also not covered under the AWA, but this is perhaps small consolation, as they still fall under the rubric of “animals.”) Perhaps it’s their “alien” faces, what with rigid beaks where expressive mouths “should” be, but humans seem to have more trouble empathizing with chickens and birds than other farmed animal species, such as pigs and cows (who, of course, receive less consideration than “pet” species, such as dogs and cats).

In the intro to Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs, Karen Davis – founder and director of United Poultry Concerns (UPC) – reports that, when she first became involved in advocating on behalf of chickens in the late 1980s, these beautiful and abused creatures were largely overlooked in animal welfare and rights campaigns:

I was told by some that people weren’t “ready” for chickens. This proved to be false. The point, in any case, was to make people ready.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of folks like Davis, chickens are now central to the vegan and anti-factory farming movements. Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs – first published in 1996 and revised in 2009 – provides an accessible and compressive, if horrifying and hard-to-read, overview of industrialized chicken egg and “meat” production. (Something similar is sorely needed for fishes and other “seafood,” who seem to be the chickens and birds of this decade. But I digress.)

What with a 19-page reference list and copious quotations culled from industry publications and decades-old news clippings, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs is meticulously researched and brimming with information. I’d hoped to include a list of talking points or key facts, but the sheer breadth and detail makes this nearly impossible. (That, and I’m not exactly about brevity, as regular readers well know!) Instead, let’s take this summary chapter by chapter, shall we?

(More below the fold…)

The Men Who Stare At Hug Goats

Monday, January 4th, 2010

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Caution: Major spoilers ahead.

While The Men Who Stare at Goats is by no means an animal rights or overtly anti-vivisection movie, it does (happily!) have a few animal-friendly moments.

Based on a 2004 book of the same name by journalist Jon Ronson, the film is a dramatized account of Ronson’s investigation into “psychic” warfare experiments conducted by the U.S. military in the ’70s and ’80s. Ostensibly a story for the skeptic set (indeed, that’s why the husband and I saw it in the theater), the film also at turns sentimentalizes the “free love,” hippie sensibilities and mysticism of the ’60s and ’70s. (Indeed, it concludes on a disappointingly “anything is possible if you believe” note.)

Anyhow, along with all the “flower power” comes not a little tree- and animal-hugging. Goat-hugging, to be more specific: because the army’s more “practical” experiments involve trauma training carried out on live animals, the medical school’s in-house goats also play a role in the aforementioned psychic experimentation – the purposes of which isn’t nearly as sadistic as the trailers let on.

Lest I get ahead of myself, here’s a brief synopsis, via Wiki:

The film follows Ann Arbor Daily Telegram reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor), who one day interviews Gus Lacey, a man who claims to have psychic abilities. Bob shrugs Lacey off as crazy. Soon after, Bob’s wife leaves him for his one-armed editor. Bob, out of anger, flies to Kuwait to investigate the Iraq War. However, he stumbles onto the story of a lifetime when he meets Special Forces operator, Lyn Cassady (George Clooney). Lyn reveals that he was part of an American army unit training psychic spies (or “Jedi Warriors”), trained to develop a range of parapsychological skills including invisibility, remote viewing, cloud bursting, walking through walls, and intuition.

The founder of this unit, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), traveled across America in the 1970s for six years exploring a range of New Age movements (including the Human potential movement), because of a vision he received after getting shot during the Vietnam War, and used these experiences to found the New Earth Army. In the 1980s, two of Django’s best recruits were Lyn Cassady and Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey), who developed a lifelong rivalry because of their opposing views of how to implement the New Earth Army philosophy; Lyn wanted to emphasize the positive side of the teachings, whereas Larry was more interested in the dark side of the philosophy.

In the early 2000s Bob and Lyn embark on a new mission in Iraq, where they are kidnapped by a criminal gang. They escape with fellow kidnapping victim Mahmud Daash (Waleed Zuaiter) and get rescued by a private security firm led by Todd Nixon (Robert Patrick), but get caught up in a firefight between Todd’s security firm and a rival security firm; this would later be known as the “Battle of Ramadi.” Mahmud, Bob and Lyn escape from the firefight and go to Mahmud’s house, which has been shot up by soldiers. From there Bob and Lyn leave to continue on Lyn’s vague mission involving a vision he had of Bill Django.

Here it’s worth noting that Cassady recounts the story of Django and the New Earth Army as his Iraqi adventure with Wilton unfolds in parallel. Both tales begin on a light, humorous note, eventually taking turns for the worse. While the trailers and media interviews done in promotion of the movie tend to emphasize the New Earth Army’s more nefarious projects, Django began the program with the best of intentions: namely, achieving world peace through love and understanding. A laudable goal, to be sure – even if its implementation proved somewhat ridiculous.

However, Hooper eventually betrays Django, assuming control of the New Earth Army in order to corrupt it. (Think of Django as Obi-Wan Kenobi to Cassady’s Luke Sywalker and Hooper’s Darth Vader.) The peace, love and understanding of Django’s ’60s and ’70s give way to the greed, militarization and subjugation of – what? The Reagen ’80s? The Clinton ’90s? The Bush ’00s? All of the above? Take your pick! (The Men Who Stare at Goats is, if not anti-war, at least anti-torture.)

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 4

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

LGBT Compassion - Screenshot

LGBT Compassion

One of the newest additions to the “Intersections” category on my blogroll, LGBT Compassion is a

coalition of San Francisco Bay Area gay animal advocates (and some non-gay friends) working to promote awareness of animal welfare, health, environmental, and civil rights issues within our community – along with any other important social issues that we feel strongly about.

We feel that the LGBT community, having experienced discrimination, oppression and suffering ourselves, having special health issues, and often having unique bonds with companion animals, should be open to learning and helping others who may not be able to speak up for themselves – whether human or non-human.

Their motto: Fighting oppression and discrimination for all. Love it.

I first learned of the group through its investigation into San Francisco’s live animal markets, where chickens are kept and displayed for sale in plastic bags (!). If you haven’t yet, definitely go check ’em out.

PETA Asia-Pacific: Urge Egypt’s Prime Minister to Stop Cruel Pig Cull

When I saw that PETA was campaigning against the pig culls in Egypt, I was excited. Last I checked, the WSPA had reached a standstill with the Egyptian government, which was insisting that the culls had ceased, despite evidence to the contrary. Writing about the issue at change.org, I wanted desperately to offers readers an opportunity to take action. But nada – until now.

When I actually read the sample letter provided by PETA, though, my heart sank. Rather than calling for an end to the culls, PETA asks the government to “Please place a moratorium on the pig cull until guidelines can be put in place to ensure that the killing is as humane as possible.” This despite the fact that the culls are wholly unnecessary – an inefficient way to guard against swine flu. And this comes not from animal advocacy groups, but government experts (such as those at the UN) – who, on the whole, aren’t really known for their animal-friendly views.

Add to the mix the possibility that the culls might have as much to do with religious discrimination as swine flu paranoia, and PETA really dropped the ball here. Not only has the group failed to defend the pigs from slaughter – it also failed to take the majority Muslim government to task for oppressing the minority Christian farmers. PETA even reinforces the government’s bigotry by pleading for a “humane” pig cull at a later date!

Oh, with friends like these…

(More below the fold…)

Kinship Circle: Updates, April – June 2009

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – info [at] kinshipcircle.org
Date: Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 10:59 PM
Subject: Part 1/ UPDATES: APR – JUN 2009

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY / PERMISSION TO CROSSPOST

VICTORIES * SETBACKS * PROGRESS

PART 1: APRIL – JUNE 2009 / KINSHIP CIRCLE UPDATES

1. Pig Abusers At Hormel Supplier Get 1-2 Year Probation
2. Bureaucrats Reach No Decision On Whaling
3. Lax Officials Knew Travis The Chimp Might Attack
4. Kitten Killer’s Accomplice Is Now Charged Too
5. Pet Food Poisoners Plead Guilty And Face Jail Time
6. Foie Gras Producer On Trial For Cruelty
7. Atlanta Falcons Bid Michael Vick A Permanent Farewell
8. “Change” Doesn’t Look Much Different Under Obama
9. California Spay/Neuter Law Passes Senate, Moves To Assembly
10. Groups Sue Salazar In Effort To Save Delisted Wolves
11. Way To Go SAEN! Research Industry Meltdown
12. Cheyenne Frontier Rodeo Bans Video Instead Of Abuse
13. California Bullfight Busts Continue; Humane Officer Assaulted
14. Repression Of Austrian Animal Activists Worsens

PART 2: KC UPDATES / APRIL – JUNE 2009
RESEND PART #2 TO ME: info [at] kinshipcircle.org

15. HSUS And Michael Vick Team Up To Fight Dogfighting?
16. Armed To Kill In National Parks: Guns Allowed
17. Maine Is 6th State To Ban Cruel Confinement Crates
18. NC Pro-Gas Chamber Bill Gets A “No” Vote
19. USDA Cites New Iberia Primate Lab For Violations
20. U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Against Canada Sealing
21. Canadian Sealers Lose Biggest Customer — EUROPE!
22. EU Votes To Let Most Primate Research Continue
23. Karley’s Sociopath Killer Ordered To Stand Trial
24. Horse Slaughterhouses Now Legal In Montana
25. Michigan Pound Gives R&R Research The Boot
26. Big Surprise: Swine Flu, Born On U.S. Factory Farms
27. Los Angeles DA Drops Charges Against Dog Dragger
28. Obama Accepts Breeder Dog As Gift For Daughters

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Kinship Circle: Friends of Kinship Circle Updates, June 2009

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – KinshipCircleInfo [at] accessus.net
Date: Sun, Jun 7, 2009 at 9:31 AM
Subject: Pig Massacre, Cat Labs, Black Market Asia Film…[Friends Of Kinship Circle]
To: “3) KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY”

FRIENDS OF KINSHIP CIRCLE, 6/7/09
http://friendsofkinshipcircle.wordpress.com

* KINSHIP CIRCLE DOES NOT WRITE OR RESEARCH THESE ALERTS.
* QUESTIONS? CONTACT ALERT WRITERS. PLEASE DO NOT HIT REPLY.

IN THIS ALERT:

1. Egypt: Mass Pig Slaughter During Swine Flu Panic
2. Stop Texas Tech’s Senseless Torture Of Cats
3. Support New Film On Illegal Trade In Wild Animals
4. Shield Polar Bears From Deadly Global Warming
5. End “Jumps Racing” Carnage For Good
6. Shocking Elephant Abuse Video From Greek Circus
7. Brookfield Zoo Elephant Deserves Safe Haven
8. Check Out Karen Dawn’s Blog
9. 50+ Years In A Lab – Save Elder Chimps From Hell

(More below the fold…)

IDA: Take Action Today For World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL)

Monday, April 20th, 2009

WWAIL 2009 Poster Banner

Saturday marked the beginning of World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL), which is being held from April 18th through the 26th this year.

In addition to emailing the White House Office of Public Liason (OPL) (see below), you can find additional ways to take action at http://www.wwail.org. You can view a list of 2009 events here, or register your own. IDA helpfully provides a bevy of literature, posters and stickers for your events – no matter how big or small – which you can view and download here.

Striking at the Roots’ Mark Hawthorne also offers his suggestions for 5 Things You Can Do to Help Animals in Labs.

Are you participating in WWAIL? Share your action and outreach ideas in the comments!

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: In Defense of Animals
Date: Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 11:31 AM
Subject: Take Action Today For World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL)

WWAIL 2009 - IDA Header

World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL) Is Here!

April 18 – 26 – Scroll down for an important message you should send to President Obama

In February 2009, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received an additional $10.4 billion in funding. This money is in addition to NIH’s 2009 budget of $30.3 billion.

Although technology has progressed and there is broad acknowledgment of the flaws of animal models, NIH funding for animal research has remained unchanged and the numbers of animals used has increased.

Please join IDA in contacting the White House Office of Public Liaison during World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL) to ask that the $10.4 billion in stimulus money be designated exclusively for non-animal research. Click here to read IDA’s letter to President Obama.

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Kinship Circle: Friends of Kinship Circle Alerts, 4/13/09

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – KinshipCirclePrimary [at] accessus.net
Date: Mon, Apr 13, 2009 at 9:31 PM
Subject: We Are Their Hope [Friends Of Kinship Circle, 4/13/09]

Kinship Circle - Friends of KC Banner

4/13/09: We Are Their Hope
http://friendsofkinshipcircle.wordpress.com

* KINSHIP CIRCLE DOES NOT WRITE OR RESEARCH THESE ALERTS.
* QUESTIONS? CONTACT ALERT WRITERS. PLEASE DO NOT HIT REPLY.

IN THIS ALERT:

1. Recent Kinship Circle Alerts Are A Click Away
2. Pound Seizure & Humane Euthanasia
3. Save Stu – Wrongfully Impounded Since 9/15/05
4. New England Animal Rights Workshop 6/13/09
5. Party To End Puppy Mills On 4/19/09
6. Urge Portugal City To Become Anti-Bullfighting
7. We Are Their Hope: World Lab Animal Liberation Week
8. Vegans Take On The “3 Peaks” Challenge

(More below the fold…)

Animal Aid: European Union vivisection vote on March 31st

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Animal Aid
Date: Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:04 AM
Subject: Urgent call-to-action from Animal Aid

A critical vote on the future conduct of vivisection is imminent. Your help is needed now.

An absolutely vital vote on the future of vivisection is taking place this coming Tuesday, March 31. The vote relates to the new Directive that will govern how animal research is conducted across the European Union – the UK included – and will replace the current rules, which are 23 years old. Tuesday’s vote will be by the European parliament’s Agricultural Committee, which has the biggest say of all the parliament’s committees on how the new Directive will look.

On Tuesday, its members will be voting on a set of proposals produced by the committee’s ‘rapporteur’ – an English MEP called Neil Parish. Parish’s proposals have alarmed animal protection bodies throughout Europe for the way they would seriously weaken existing animal protection measures. They would, for example, permit animals to be subjected to ‘severe, prolonged suffering’. And, instead of providing additional protection for primates – which is what the European Commission has called for – he wants monkeys to be used for curiosity-driven research that, for example, involves the infliction of severe brain damage, the withholding of food and water, and holding brain-damaged animals in restraint chairs, while they are forced to press icons on a computer screen over and over again.

Please send an email TODAY or TOMORROW to the eight UK members of the Agricultural Committee. Their addresses are as follows:

* jim.allister [at] europarl.europa.eu
* james.nicholson [at] europarl.europa.eu
* neil.parish [at] europarl.europa.eu
* brian.simpson [at] europarl.europa.eu
* alyn.smith [at] europarl.europa.eu
* struan.stevenson [at] europarl.europa.eu
* robert.sturdy [at] europarl.europa.eu
* jeffrey.titford [at] europarl.europa.eu

Some key points to stress are:

1. You are alarmed by attempts to weaken animal protection measures that the European Commission wishes to see introduced.

2. The Commission wants to phase out the use of wild-caught primates. Amendments that conflict with this goal must be opposed. Despite scaremongering by pro-animal research industry groups, there is no evidence that such a phase-out would damage medical research.

3. You oppose proposals that would allow any animal to be subjected to ‘prolonged, severe’ suffering.

4. Reducing animal use will improve the quality of science, as well as preventing animal suffering. This will make European laboratories attractive to business and academic researchers rather than – as has been threatened – lead to an exodus to parts of the world where standards are lower.

5. It is vital that all proposed ‘projects’ using animals are scrutinised rather than being given automatic approval. The Committee is faced with proposals that would allow most research projects to go through on the nod.

6. You support measures that call for regular thematic reviews of specific areas of animal use and replacement by non-animal systems. Without such a systematic approach, the introduction of non-animal methods will be an unnecessarily protracted process.

7. Increased accountability, transparency and access to information – as well as data sharing to avoid duplication of experiments – are all vital.

8. You urge Committee members not to bow to the powerful, self-interested biomedical lobby. They should vote instead for measures that increase animal welfare and which tackle unjustified secrecy and concealment.

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Kinship Circle: Friends of Kinship Circle Alerts, March 2009

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – info [at] kinshipcircle.org
Date: Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 1:59 PM
Subject: Greyhounds, Fur, Rodeo Shock, Cats Skinned… [Friends Of Kinship Circle]

Kinship Circle - Friends of KC Banner

FRIENDS OF KINSHIP CIRCLE / PERMISSION TO CROSSPOST
http://friendsofkinshipcircle.wordpress.com/

* KINSHIP CIRCLE DOES NOT WRITE OR RESEARCH THESE ALERTS.
* WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE VALIDITY OF FRIENDS OF KC ALERTS.
* CONTACT ALERT WRITERS. PLEASE DO NOT HIT REPLY. We will not respond.

1. Trouble For Greyhounds in South Africa
2. Jamaica Wants Greyhound Races Too
3. Jason Wu Puts Aside Fur, For Now
4. Tucson Rodeo Shocks Horses
5. Guandong – Cats Skinned And Boiled Alive
6. Fight Horse Slaughter State By State
7. Prosecute Bird Killers In Florida
8. Ask For End To NYC Horse Carriages
9. World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week

(More below the fold…)

NEAVS: Tune in to ABC-TV Nightline tonight

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Via the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) / Project R&R:

BREAKING STORY: Tune in to ABC-TV Nightline tonight

Please tune in to Nightline tonight (Wed. 03/04 11:30pm EST). This evening’s broadcast* features an expose of the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC). The 9 month undercover investigation of NIRC brings the sad realities of a chimpanzee’s life in a lab to millions of viewers. We ask you to not miss this rare opportunity to see the truth. Please invite your friends and family to watch.

Go to the ABC News website to see a preview and to post a comment.

Please watch your email for a follow up eAlert with timely campaign news.

Thank you for your support and attention.

*News segment schedules are subject to change. Visit Nightline for more information and local listings.

As of this writing, Nightline has several clips of the show available on its website; unfortunately, embedding is disabled, so you’ll have to go to Nightline’s website in order to view the videos.

Even if you don’t tune in, be sure to drop them a quick note of appreciation for covering the story!

UPDATE, 3/4/09: Stephanie, who clearly did more research than I (sorry, I usually can’t bring myself to watch these undercover investigations, *sigh*), has a lengthier writeup here.

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Paul McCartney & The Chicken Council duke it out on The Colbert Report!

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Update, 2/5/09:

Here’s some extra web exclusive goodness from the McCartney interview – Sir Paul explains the art of vegetable hunting to Stephen:
 

 
————–

OK, well, not really. Paul McCartney appeared on Wednesday’s episode, the same episode wherein Stephen “broke” the “buffalo wing” shortage crisis story. But Stephen didn’t interview the obligatory white dude from the National Chicken Council until the next night, so he and McCartney never met. I doubt McCartney was even privy to the Superbowl/”buffalo wing” story, since his interview was pre-recorded. Still, catchy title, dontchathink?

Plus, vegetarianism did come up during McCartney’s interview. Check it:
 

 
Now for the “buffalo wing” shortage, which spanned two segments. The Richard Lobb interview is by far the more interesting of the two clips, so if you watch only one video, make it the second one below.
 
(More below the fold…)