Book Review: Wither, Lauren DeStefano (2011)

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time. (*)

four out of five stars

Trigger warning for rape and violence.

At the tender age of sixteen, Rhine Ellery is already well past middle age. Genetic experimentation meant to rid the world of disease and extend the human lifespan has instead had the opposite effect: all women can expect to die in their twentieth year, and men only live to see twenty-five. In a world mostly absent of adults, the streets of New York City are overrun with orphans who beg and steal to get by. Children are sold as guinea pigs, experimented on in hopes of finding an antidote to the unnamed sickness that strikes down young people before their lives have even begun. “Gatherers” in gray coats and dark vans roam the streets, kidnapping girls and young women to sell into sexual slavery or as child brides. Girls deemed “unsellable” are murdered, their bodies discarded along the side of the road like sacks of garbage.

Though their lives are far from ideal, Rhine and her twin brother Rowan are better off than most. They are orphans – but, unlike most orphans, they were lucky enough to know their parents. Members of the “first generation” of genetically modified humans, Mr. and Mrs. Ellery lived long and healthy lives, the sickness that kills young adults only manifesting in their children and grandchildren (and so on down the line). In fact, they probably would have outlived Rhine and Rowan, had they not been murdered by “pro-naturalists” who bombed the lab in which they were employed as geneticists. Rhine and Rowan are relatively well-educated and, while they were forced into the workplace at the age of twelve, they’re lucky enough to have a roof over their heads and food to eat. A meager existence, but one far better than freezing to death on a stranger’s porch, as Rhine finds a homeless girl one winter morning.

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Fishermen as happy sadists: A new meme?

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Last month, I blogged about a series of ads for Hobie Kayaks, aimed at fishermen (“people,” I should say, except all the ads seem to depict men). The gist of the marketing concept is that the kayaks are so quiet that fishermen can stalk and overtake their prey with serial killer-like coldness and precision. Fittingly, shadowy fishermen in fedoras and trench coats are shown choking, knifing and shooting three very terrified fish. Fishermen as stone-cold killers, indeed.

As shocking as I initially found the ads, now I’m starting to wonder whether this is the beginning of a meme.

Take, for example, this ad series from Bass Pro Shops. The general concept actually isn’t all that objectionable; the three print ads are touting Bass Pro Shop’s camp sale with the slogan “Get the family ready. Bass Pro Shops camp sale.” (C’mon, who doesn’t love camping!?)

In the first ad, someone (Dad, presumably) has put some greenery around the toilet, in order to get the family ready to do their biz in the bushes:

Bass Pro Shops Camp Sale - Toilet

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Truth in Advertising: Fishermen are stone-cold killers.

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

When I first spotted this series of ads for Hobie Kayaks on Ads of the World, I was taken aback. Flabbergasted, actually.

This is some violent imagery – the kind you’d expect to see on the box of an adult video game.

Hobie Kayaks - Rope

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Center for Biological Diversity: Protect Endangered Sea Turtles From Longline Fishing

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Via the Center for Biological Diversity:

Protect Endangered Sea Turtles From Longline Fishing

The federal government is proposing to allow longline fishing for swordfish in the waters off California and Oregon. Longline fishing, in which a single vessel can lay out more than 60 miles of line and 1,000 hooks at a time, is one of the most destructive fishing practices ever invented. In addition to depleting the oceans of the targeted swordfish and tuna, longlines hook, entangle, and kill tens of thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, marine mammals and sharks. The critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle has been reduced from more than 100,000 nesting females to fewer than 3,000 over the past 25 years, mostly because of longlining.

In 2004, following a successful lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, swordfish longlining was banned in the waters off the West Coast. Now, under pressure from the fishing industry, the National Marine Fisheries Service is proposing to allow an experimental longline fishery in these waters.

Please let the Fisheries Service know that you oppose the introduction of this deadly fishing gear to the West Coast.



Oceana: Protect Ocean Habitat in the Northern Bering Sea from Destructive Bottom Trawling!

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

UPDATE, 6/29/07, via Oceana:

It’s official – and unanimous. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to protect from bottom trawling some 180,000 square miles of previously unexploited ocean floor in the Bering Sea, particularly in the North. […]

The Council chose Alternative 2, advocated by Oceana, other organizations and local communities to essentially “freeze the footprint” on bottom trawling, allowing trawlers to continue operations in areas where trawling currently occurs and establishing a boundary to prevent further damage to seafloor habitats. The Council’s decision now goes to the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is responsible for putting into operation the actual regulation for in-the-water protection based on the advice they receive from the Council.

This decision was the result of years of campaigning by Oceana and others. WaveMakers like you made your voices heard throughout the campaign, with thousands of public comments to the council on this issue.

This decision is a great victory for the whales, walrus, seabirds and other animals in the Bering Sea. Thanks so much for being a part of it.


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Oceana: Trawl Boats Need Turtle Excluder Devices!

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Via Oceana:

Trawl Boats Need Turtle Excluder Devices!

Even 30 years after legislation passed requiring shrimp trawl boats be equipped with escape hatches called turtle excluder devices, sea turtles — all of them either threatened or endangered — are still drowning in trawl nets. This is because the U.S. government allows other trawl fisheries in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico to operate without the turtle excluder devices.

Turtle excluder devices, commonly known as “TEDs” are proven to reduce the mortality rate of sea turtles caught in trawls because when the turtles are captured they strike the grid bars on the TED and are ejected through the opening. This allows the turtles to surface and breath rather than being held underwater in the trawl net to drown.

Even trawls with TEDs still pose a threat to sea turtles because being slammed out of the TED after having been held under water for even a short time is physically stressful on the turtles. NMFS should ban trawl fishing in areas that are known to be key habitat areas for turtles.

It is time for the government to take the Endangered Species Act seriously and require the use of TEDs in all trawl fisheries without exceptions. The TEDs required must be of the proper size to allow all ages and species of turtles to escape. In addition, the government needs to prevent trawling from occurring in the most vital areas for sea turtle foraging, reproduction and migration.

Write to the National Marine Fisheries Service and tell them to stop letting so many turtles be injured or killed in trawl fisheries! The comment period ends May 18, so be sure to pass along your input today!



NET: Tell NMFS We Need a Strong Overfishing Rule

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Via National Environmental Trust:

Tell NMFS We Need a Strong Overfishing Rule

From the Arctic to the Antarctic, we are depleting our oceans of fish. Since 1900, many fish species, including swordfish, marlin and the biggest types of tuna, have declined by 90%. In its April 2007 issue, National Geographic magazine focuses on the global fisheries crisis, showing how high-tech harvesting methods, greed, and wasteful management have brought world fish stocks to dangerous lows. If this trend continues, global fisheries will collapse by 2048.

Right now, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is developing new rules to end overfishing and rebuild depleted fish populations in the United States. In order to be sure that these rules are strong enough to fix the problem, we are encouraging people to let the agency know that you support an end to overfishing. Comments must be received no later than April 17th!



Oceana: Protect Krill – the Heart of the Pacific Food Web!

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Via Oceana:

Protect Krill – the Heart of the Pacific Food Web!

Krill may be little, ranging from one to 14 centimeters in length, but their role in balancing the ocean’s ecosystem is larger than life. Without them, many fish, seabirds and whales that depend on these small shrimp-like crustaceans for their survival become susceptible to starvation.

Last year, the Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously recommended a ban on all krill fishing in U.S. Pacific waters. Unfortunately this landmark decision was only a recommendation, not actual legal protection. The Council’s recommendation was sent to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which will decide in April whether or not to make it law and protect krill in all U.S. Pacific waters.

Help support a healthy Pacific by telling the federal government to ban fishing for krill today.



Center for Biological Diversity: Protect Penguins and Whales from Industrial Fishing

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Via the Center for Biological Diversity:

Act Now! Comment Deadline This Week-Dec. 26! Protect Penguins and Whales from Industrial Fishing

In the movie “Happy Feet,” the penguins, elephant seals and other wildlife of Antarctica face starvation as a result of industrial fishing fleets depleting the fish these animals rely upon for food. Unfortunately, this part of the movie is not entirely fiction. Industrial fleets fishing for krill and toothfish (marketed in the United States as Chilean Sea Bass) ply the rich waters of the Southern Ocean, catching not just the target species, but seabirds and marine mammals as well. In some areas the fishing pressure is intense enough that food competition with penguins and marine mammals is likely.

Officials within the Bush administration apparently haven’t seen “Happy Feet” – or if they have, they’ve ignored the message. Last month the National Marine Fisheries Service completed its environmental review on a plan that would open the door to increased harvest of krill, icefish, and toothfish, essential food for penguins, seals and whales. The plan also would make it easier for illegally caught toothfish to be imported into the United States; authorizes a new toothfish longline fishery that poses a threat to albatross and whales; allows a trawl fishery that drowns Antarctic Fur Seals; and permits destructive bottom trawling.

Nevertheless, the happy ending of “Happy Feet” is still possible. The National Marine Fisheries Service is accepting comments on its management plan for Antarctic fisheries until Dec. 26. Take action today and demand that fishing for krill and toothfish be banned in Antarctic waters and that imports of toothfish into the U.S. be suspended.



Ocean Conservancy: Right Whales Swimming in the Face of Danger

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Via the Ocean Conservancy:

Right Whales Swimming in the Face of Danger

As of last Friday, scientists reported that between 30 and 50 North Atlantic right whales were swimming in the Bay of Fundy off the coast of New Brunswick, Canada. Typically, they would have migrated south by this time of year. The problem with the right whales staying in these northern feeding grounds longer than usual is that the Canadian lobster fishing grounds are opening this week in precisely this area, putting right whales in the middle of danger. Because there are only about 350 North Atlantic right whales left, the loss of even one animal contributes to the risk of extinction.

Please take action today to help these right whales. Urge the Canadian Minister of Fisheries to delay opening the fishing grounds until the right whales have left the area and will no longer be in danger.



DawnWatch: Editorial on seal deaths in fishing nets — Hawaii, 10/24/06

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at]
Date: Oct 24, 2006 4:30 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Editorial on seal deaths in fishing nets — Hawaii, 10/24/06

On Tuesday, October 24, Hawaii’s Star Bulletin includes an editorial (the paper’s opinion) calling for limitations on gill nets. The piece serves as an educational tool for those who are unfamiliar with cruelties associated with the fishing industry that go beyond the suffering of the fish. The editorial is headed, “Seal’s death shows need for gillnet rules.”

It opens:

“On the same day that twin Hawaiian monk seals, carefully nursed to health, were returned to their isle of birth at Midway, another of its breed was found dead, its body snarled in a gillnet offshore of Waimanalo.

“The death of the 5-month-old pup underscores the need to restrict the use of lay gillnets that kill indiscriminately when left unattended by irresponsible fishers. The state, which has proposed but has yet to finalize gillnet rules, should move ahead quickly.

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