Monthly Archives: March 2012

Do you support dolphin capture? Not if you say No! to the Dolphin Show

Shaka Georgia Aquarium phinventory Ceta-base

Shaka, the Georgia Aquarium's wild-caught dolphin, photo from Ceta-base

How is going to a dolphin show or swim-with program directly linked to the capturing of dolphins?  And why should you pledge to not go to a dolphin show?  Because the dolphin shows create the market for dolphin capture, which, in turn, makes dolphin hunting and slaughter financially feasible enterprises.

Here’s how the captivity chain links up, from freedom all the way to enslavement and back again to freedom:

Link 1At the risk of being too obvious, I’m starting there anyway.  Without dolphins in captivity, the aquariums cannot put on their extravaganzas, their shows or maintain their displays.  So before the dolphin show (yes, there was a time in the 1950s before this jumping dolphin phenom took a strangle-hold over dolphin freedom), there was no impetus to capture them.  Dolphin freedom exists at this end of the chain, where there are no dolphin shows.

Some aquariums already have a few dolphins.  But captive breeding isn’t terribly dependable for producing a live dolphin.  The photo above was of Shaka, wild-caught, now living at the Georgia Aquarium.  Only one of Shaka’s three captive-born calves survived past two weeks; one was stillborn in September 1996, and the other died on her 16th day in November 1997.  Generally, dolphins in the wild give birth only every 2 to 4 years.  The third, Kolohe, will turn 18 on July 12, 2012.  In Hawaii.  Away from Shaka.  Without the need for captive dolphins, dolphins like Shaka would not have been captured.  In 1988.

Link 2Without the dolphin show, yea, that show in a city near you, there would be no need to keep dolphins, like Shaka, or the other ten dolphins at the Georgia Aquarium, in captivity.  And don’t believe the nonsense that captive dolphins are necessary for research.  We really don’t need to study them in captivity to understand how we might support their thriving in their natural, wild ecosystem.  Think about that one; it may catch you on the way home.  Certain marine biologists refuse to study them in captivity.

Without the dolphin show, the show in the city nearest you, no dolphins would be captured anywhere in the world, under any means of dolphin hunting. This includes the dolphin drive hunt in Taiji, Japan.

Without the dolphin show, the show in the city nearest you, dolphins would not be injured or killed by the thousands each year in the process of capturing a few for that show, because generally speaking, the huge profits of selling dolphins to aquariums bankroll the slaughter operation as well.

Link 3:  Without the dolphin show, righto, that one near you, dolphin freedom happens.  I don’t mean to suggest that releasing the captives can happen overnight; I’ve written before about Ric O’Barry’s idea of making the show about rehabilitating the current captive and any future stranded dolphins for life in the wide open blue.  But it can happen if we have the will to do right by the dolphins.

Do you get it?  The dolphin show, yes, the one in the city nearest you, causes – yes, causes – dolphin capture, injury and slaughter.

And every new show can cause that much more capture, injury and slaughter.

But the great news: Two links (Links 1 and 3) have free dolphins, and only one link (Link 2) has captivity.  We have more links for  freedom than against, so it won’t be hard, if we stand together!  When we stop attending the dolphin show (Link 2), we have free dolphins again, as we did before this strange 1950s phenomenon took a strangle-hold over the lives of dolphins.

And if you don’t go to the dolphin show?  Well, I think you get it.

Jacques Cousteau No Aquarium no dolphin in tank can be considered normal

Hold this sign so people know that Jacques Cousteau did not support captivity, from www.marinecaptivityfacts.tumblr.com

What you can doOn Saturday, April 14 from 10a.m to 1p.m., come to the entrance of The Georgia Aquarium to learn about these links and to teach others about them and about the life that a dolphin lives in captivity versus the one it lives in the wild.

Hold a sign that repeats these words of Jacques Cousteau.  Hold a sign with Shaka’s picture.  Or Neile’s.  Or Phebe’s.  Or Pukanala’s.  Or Kei’s.  Or Makana’s.  Or Briland’s.  Or Lily’s.  Or Luna’s.  Or Bermudiana’s.  We don’t have a picture of Salvador.  But we won’t forget him.

Saturday, April 14, 2012; 10am – 2pm  The Georgia Aquarium, entrance on Baker Street

If you are on Facebook, click on the event page and tell us that you’re coming.  And like “Free the Atlanta 11” instead of watching dolphins perform tricks with Star Spinner, who thinks that the dolphins have taken the sea monsters to the bottom of the ocean.

If you aren’t in or near Atlanta, but on Facebook, please click the worldwide “Just Say NO! to the Dolphin Page” created by Save Misty the Dolphin to show that you “get it” and to show your support.

For a more information, see:

  • Save Japan Dolphins, Ric O’Barry and the Cove Monitors
  • Blue Voice, Hardy Jones,
  • Sea Shepherd and its Cove Guardians
  • Save Misty the Dolphin
  • If you have a website or blog on this issue, please leave a comment with your web address, and I will add you to a list of resources on creating dolphin freedom a reality for all dolphins everywhere
    Dolphin captivity chain link

    Dolphin freedom in the first and last links. Dolphin captivity only in the middle one. We can break this chain and re-establish dolphin freedom!

    .

 

Snakes and bugs define the Human Phenotype

Is it human nature to be compassionate or to kill a snake or bug

Is it in our makeup to be compassionate or to kill stuff willy-nilly

I was reflecting this morning that among humans, there seem to be three kinds, three categories.  Not defined by what is in our veins, but by what is going on in a 2-4 mm-thick layer in our brains and how we use that layer.  But I like this veinal picture, so I’m using it.

At the root of almost every other trait, whether you are compassionate, quick-tempered, arrogant, slutty or bigoted, I think I may have boiled it down to three basic characteristics.

So, to help you find yourself in the breakdown, I’ll ask a question with a three-alternative multiple-choice answer. 

Question:  If you are driving in your car on a roadway, and you see a live snake crossing the road, what do you do?

1.  Navigate the car so as to avoid the snake
2.  Navigate the car so as to hit the snake
3.  Continue on your path without further thought for the snake at all

Now, there are those who, for safety reasons, will not change direction of the car (look out folks, I’m not one of these), and for those, it’s more a question about what thought comes to mind.  So for the careful driver, I’ll revise the answers to be:

1.  I’d like to navigate the car so as to avoid that snake, but safety directs otherwise
2.  I’d like to navigate the car so as to hit that snake, but safety directs otherwise
3.  I think I’m about to get snake goo on my tires

Most people are either 1s or 3s.  I had the experience of being shown property by a young man who was a 2.   One might have thought that 2s were only so in private, but not so.  Decidedly not so.  This young man was somewhere around 30 years of age, and had apparently inherited the realty business from his father, but hopefully (for the father) not his psyche.  I don’t think he much cared for showing property.  Snake-killing with a vehicle on the road appeared to be his forte.  And perhaps only skill.  That was the last time I saw him.

I think people are more subtle than these three categories or the young realtor, so I’ve come up with another question that will add some details around the edges of the first.

A really cool website with printable pages of free pics for kids to color

Click to go to a really cool website with printable pages of free pics for kids to color

Question:  When you find a bug in your house, what do you do?

A:  Kill it reluctantly
B:  Kill it without thinking
C:  Kill it gleefully
D:  Pick it up and move it elsewhere
E:  Say hello

Let’s look at those refinement categories, A through E.  If you are a 2, it is unlikely that you will be anything other than a B or a C.  Any reluctance in the road killer to kill a roach is probably more related to him or herself (“What shall I do with the carcass?” might be a consideration that would make him or her less likely to kill) than to do with anything on the outside of his person.

But just to keep this little exercise objective and so I won’t add my snipey little assessments, let’s break it down objectively and descriptively, without judgment:

Phenotype 1 – The Snake Avoiders

1A:  Kills a bug in the house reluctantly AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to avoid the snake
1B:  Kills a bug in the house without thinking AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to avoid the snake
1C:  Kills a bug in the house gleefully AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to avoid the snake
1D:  Will pick up a bug in the house and move it elsewhere AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to avoid the snake
1E:  Says hello to the bug in the house AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to avoid the snake

In sum, The Snake Avoiders are, I think, a pretty common lot.  Most of us are there.  And I do believe that, while we will generally avoid killing a snake on the road, there are reasons why we would, nonetheless, kill a bug in our house.  I don’t think that there is a moral or ethical dilemma posed by being anywhere in the 1 Phenotype, except maybe Subtype C.  But again, the glee may be related to creating an environment for a toddler that is, perhaps, just a bit over-protective.  Or perhaps he isn’t tending to his diet appropriately, and hence, has lots of allergies, including a bug one, and so kills bugs with a self-preservative glee.  My next book will be, Change Your Diet, Change Your Glee.  Not really.

Phenotype 2 – The Snake Killers

Was Jeffery Dahmer a snake killer

I'm thinking he might have been a Phenotype 2C

2A:  Kills a bug in the house reluctantly AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to kill the snake
2B:  Kills a bug in the house without thinking AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to kill the snake
2C:  Kills a bug in the house gleefully AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to kill the snake
2D:  Will pick up a bug in the house and move it elsewhere AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to kill the snake
2E:  Says hello to the bug in the house AND navigates (or wants to navigate) the car to kill the snake

If you are a 2, I don’t give a crap whether you deliver home meals to the bedridden.  I would say that you’re scum, except that scum is useful in this world.  You?  You’re a weight on the entire system and hurling us toward planetary destruction.  Oh, wait, dangit.  I wasn’t going to inject my views.  Yeah, right.

I know that this is becoming at least slightly annoying.  I know this because this is a pain in the ass to write.  But it seems to me, on this fine Spring morning, that self-examination is often wanting in the arena of our relationship to the rest of the animal kingdom, the non-humanoid part, that huge part that makes up over 99 percent of it.

So on to the last phenotype, the threes, where it gets more like many of us, and is the last bunch.  Hold the applause (for this being nearly over).

Phenotype 3 – The Goo Seers

3A:  Kills a bug in the house reluctantly AND doesn’t really recognize the snake on the road as life
3B:  Kills a bug in the house without thinking AND doesn’t really recognize the snake on the road as life
3C:  Kills a bug in the house gleefully AND doesn’t really recognize the snake on the road as life
3D:  Will pick up a bug in the house and move it elsewhere AND doesn’t really recognize the snake on the road as life
3E:  Says hello to the bug in the house AND doesn’t really recognize the snake on the road as life

I really think that it is a sad state of affairs that humans really do see the rest of the animal kingdom as so much goo.

Good goo.  Bad goo.  Goo to eat.  Goo to control.  Goo to amuse me.  Goo to love.  Goo to study.  Goo to give a bath to every day and carry with me  wearing its special bow that matches mine to the grocery.

At the risk of a blog riot, it really all boils down to one question:  when will we respect life enough to recognize that it all has a place, it all has dignity, that none of it was put here for us, and that humans are not at the top of some made-up pyramid?

I’m a 1D, working toward 1E.  Who are you?

Namaste.

 

Live in Georgia? Kiss some constitutional rights goodbye

Three monkeys see hear and speak no evil SB469

These quintessential lackadaisical citizens see and hear nothing wrong with SB469 and actively keep their mouth shut when they should speak

Senate Bill 469 is an attack on labor, no doubt.  But it is also an attack on our ability to speak, and thus, an infringement on our right to speak.  So, if you’re feeling all warm and cozy in your non-labor-related First Amendment Rights, I’m thinking you may be in avoidance mode.

Because it is an attack on labor, SB469 attacks workers.  Each worker in the state of Georgia.  Even though it exempts from some aspects of its attack the few organized under the Railway Labor Act and all educators, and the fraternal or brotherly orders (the latter two, as long they are behaving themselves), it attacks  us all, organized and represented or not.

This morning, I don’t have the energy to explain why.  I just want to say, if you really need, and want, an explanation for how this works, please ask me directly and we can talk over coffee.  Seriously.  But my writing fingers are wanting to be hiking fingers, or even laundry fingers, this morning.  So.

Suffice it to say, the bill does this in a few ways:

  1. By devoting lots and lots of words to telling workers that they have a right to work in Georgia without being a member of a union.  Really?  We had that right (not a right to work, mind you; just a right to not join a union), you misleading mother crunchers.  So don’t go telling innocents, the ones who don’t understand this legislation, that you have done something for them.  You haven’t.  You just wanted to poke labor in the eye.  Good use of my tax dollars, Senator Balfour and your 33 cronies.  Although maybe all of them didn’t really understand this.  I’ll give them that.  Section 2. 34-6-9(a)
  2. By making employees have to do more than make a decision once that they want to be a member of a union in order to have dues deducted from his or her paycheck.  In fact, as an employee, I must now provide a written notification every year that I want to remain in the union and want my dues deducted to make this happen.  Imagine that if you had to, in writing, authorize your health insurance every year or your coverage would be cancelled.  You get that, don’t you?  Come on.  They know that there are others out there like me, who will forget to turn in the annual written authorization.  I’d forget to get health insurance every year if Open Season didn’t default to continuing the same coverage.  I do believe that I, like most people, would remember if I didn’t like my coverage.  Just as an employee would remember to disavow his or her union if he or she were unhappy.  Come on.  Oh, I said that. Section 3. 34-6-25(a)
  3. By sweetening Number 2 for the employers, by making it unlawful for employers to contract with a union which utilizes this payroll-deduction form of payment without this annual written authorization.  Section 4. 34-6-26(a)
  4. By being a clear kowtow to management (if employers whine about it, they don’t have to post the message that my new bill says they should but don’t have to post). Section 2. 34-6-9(c)&(d)
  5. By expanding criminal prosecution to being able to be convicted of both conspiring to commit trespass and committing criminal trespass.  I’m not a criminal procedure expert, but suffice it to say, they expanded this, in this labor bill, so they’re just trying to whack labor with as much as they can.  And the icing on the cake is that, if convicted of both, the conspiracy is characterized as a misdemeanor of “high and aggravated nature.”  Section 5. 16-7-21(d)(2)

The bottom line for Georgians is:

Don’t organize.  Don’t picket.  Don’t suggest to someone else that they picket.  Don’t carry a sign on the public street lest you interfere with someone’s cocktail party or trunk show.  Your 4th Amendment Rights might be safe here in Georgia.  But the ones you need if your Fourths – or any of the others – start being eroded by your government, that is, your Firsts?  Not so much. 

For more information on this and other rights and how to protect them.

SB469 Could Make Lots of Speech Illegal In Georgia

U.S. Constitution

The U.S. Constitution, Senator Balfour may not have read what he is sworn to uphold and defend but is killing with SB469

The activity shown in the following video could very soon be criminal in the state of Georgia, thanks to Waffle House executive and State Senator, Don Balfour, and 33 other State Senators, who voted for this bill.  Because under the new bill, this activity on public property, property which our taxpayer dollars pay to maintain and which belongs to us, could be considered criminal trespass.

“Criminal trespass?” you wonder.  And you would be right to do so. Until now, the definition in Georgia of “criminal trespass,” under Georgia Criminal Code, Title 16, Section 16-7-21, has been:

(a) A person commits the offense of criminal trespass when he or she intentionally damages any property of another without consent of that other person and the damage thereto is $500.00 or less or knowingly and maliciously interferes with the possession or use of the property of another person without consent of that person.

What you will see in the video is not someone damaging anything, and certainly not on private property of a person.  But neither will you see any activity done with malicious intent.  You will see some very nice people using a bit of their public space to provide a fun, educational experience, where people who come to the Georgia Aquarium can actually learn a few facts about dolphins.

I’m just now having my coffee and will be working on a description of the bill as the caffeine kicks in. Please come back to learn more about why you should be afraid, very afraid.

And why you must – and how you can – stop this unconstitutional incursion into the rights of the people of these United States.

I’m just wondering who would want this to be made criminal.

The contact information to contact your State Representative can be found here.  Please contact them, tell them that you oppose this very broad and unconstitutional bill, and ask how you can help to defeat it.

Humans ‘being fruitful’ and abundant can’t mean obliterate the natural system

Humans 'being fruitful' and abundant can't mean obliterate the natural system

No species obliteration in The Garden of Eden. Since they are already wearing the fig leaves, I'm thinking that God is pointing at what his likeness should eat. Just sayin. But that's for another post; this one's about population and extinction.

Does it?  Can it?  Doesn’t “fruitful” sound to you more like living in a green, productive valley, where all of the natural systems flourish? Doesn’t it have to?  I’m not saying that humans can’t build their aqueducts (although I would highly recommend that they not be lined with lead or aluminum or polyethoxylated tallow amine) to bring in or store some extra water.  But if it inflicts significant damage to the ecosystems that depended upon the natural flowing water both up- and downstream, then I’m thinking we may have violated “fruitful”.

Because fruitful can be, as a matter of fact, quantified.  And in an unnatural system, we may have put more on the death side of the scale than we have added on the “life” side.  When we do that, we have added more humans than the system can support.  When you lose habitat for millions of creatures, plant and animal, for the sake of one species, we then lose the creatures;  and when we take away habitat and creatures at a mere fraction of the human numbers, then, well, you do the math.  But only if you want to know.

So, first start dying the animals and plants.  Only later, but inevitably, the human side starts flagging, too.  – The Hot Southern Girl

Scientists have written and will write about this. And although I be/am/is/are/was/were/been/being a geologist, as I’ve said before, I do not hold myself out as anything more than a remarkably bright, and hot, Southern Woman. Okay, unremarkably bright. And the hot? Well, with global warming and my sustainability schtick, and no tree over my house, I’m left with little to do about that one. Hot, I own.

All this yiping just to show you a couple of graphs.  Here’s a link to a graph on human population growth.  You’ll note that there are three projections.  While one might be tempted to get all jiggity with the lower projections, I’ve got news for you.  The correction that will cause that kind of trend reversal will be, shall we say, horrific for our progeny.

But forget about the projections for a moment.  And focus on the actuals.  In the last 200 years, the human population has more than multiplied six-fold.  Thinking that your wee-knee was fruitful?

Well, think again, nimrod, as you take a gander at this graph, which shows species extensions over the same time frame.  Here in the US of A, we had nearly eradicated the black and brown bear and the red wolf east of the Mississippi River and the American bison West of Mississippi before the curve starts its upswing.  “Up to 1870, 10 to 15 million bison had been living in the American West. Less then two decades later, about 100 animals remained.”  But you knew this.  If we use the species alive in 1800 as the baseline, we are “witnessing” an extinction rate, based on a conservative estimate, of 10,000 times the natural, or background, extinction rate.  I’m seeing the number 50,000 as the extinction multiplier that we are “witnessing”, but again, I’m not a scientist.  And need I remind you, just hot.

Witnessing.  Not hardly.  More accurately, causing, but as long as I am witnessing, can I get an “Amen”, brother, and ask you to revisit in your churches the notion of what “fruitful” or “abundant” means.

For even more numbers, here’s a World Clock on Poodwaddle.com, that might also give you a view into the human population/everything else extinction issue.

Dolphin sighting in The Georgia Aquarium? Is that sick or what?

Only a person who had either (1) not considered the plight of dolphins that have been incorporated into the dolphin display and entertainment industry or (2) considered it but concluded that dolphins have no right to swim in the ocean, would entitle an article “Dolphin Sighting…” and mean at The Georgia Aquarium.  That’s just downright distasteful.  At least to anyone who doesn’t fall into the above two categories.

It’s actually pretty simple.  The pro-caps can’t have it both ways.  Either dolphins have rights to be unmolested and free from human intervention, run over by motor boats, hit over the head by kayak oars, or displayed in a circus; or they don’t.

Shake Georgia Aquarium dolphin wild-caught

Shaka, the Georgia Aquarium's wild-caught dolphin; probably not the one "sighted"; photo from Phinventory

We have laws that prevent us from capturing wild dolphins but the ones we’ve already caught, well, that’s different.  You might think that the laws that prevent new taking rightly reflects that wild dolphins have rights, but the ones that we grow, well, those just don’t have the same rights.  But if we start nicking around the edges at an animal’s rights, it just gets downright illogical.

So, maybe the law has created something more like a privilege for the wild ones to remain unmolested from reckless boaters.  So tomorrow, we could change the law if we wanted, and let boaters run willy-nilly through whale calving grounds or pods of dolphins with babies.  Because it was just a privilege that we were bestowing upon a few wild individual animals.  We wouldn’t really have to explain why a “right” had been compromised, when it was just the kind hand of humans saying, “you’re our property, but we’ll leave the wild property alone.”  Sort of.  For now.

Mrs. Biology-I-am-a-nurse-and-I-really-love-nature, does this sound right to you?  When you taught your children not to pull the dog’s hair – as I’m sure you did – wasn’t it because it wasn’t right to hurt the dog?  Meaning, that dog had a right not to be hurt.  That dog had a right, under the Sun, not to be kicked, beaten, or abused.  Or even have his hair pulled.

Now, there’s not a law there, nor, perhaps, need there be one, as long as our ethics are sufficient to prevent, say, animal abuse.  So it’s clear that I’m not talking about the law so much.  We humans are on a growth curve getting laws in line with our current knowledge, our current awareness.  Always have been.  And so here, our laws are, once again but not surprising, behind the times in relation to science and the ethics that grows from increased knowledge.

But you know this.  You’ve undoubtedly seen in your lifetime and in history books that laws are usually pulling up the rear in ethics and social evolution.  That sometimes our ethics need some corralling by the law.  The end of slavery among  humans.  The Civil Rights movement.  Women getting the vote.  Our ethics were there….almost.  Among some.  Some others needed a legal nudge.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again.  Dolphin Captivity: you’re either for it, or agin’ it; there’s really no in between.  A dolphin circus is absolutely no ethical excuse for dolphin captivity.  And a dolphin in an aquarium is certainly not a dolphin sighting.

But in case I come off as harsh (which would probably be accurate today), let me ratchet it back and send you to resources that are more measured than I:

 

The stages of animal rights activism

Atlanta activists stand in front of the Japanese Embassy to protest dolphin and whale hunting

Save Japan Dolphins Day 2011, Atlanta, Georgia

A few mindless quips by a harmless fellow has brought something to my attention.  Apparently, the saying, “If you’re not activist, you’re an inactivist” doesn’t go quite far enough to describe some who don’t stand alongside me as I hold my “Free the Dolphins” signs at The Georgia Aquarium.  It reminded me that there are people who actually advocate against the notion that animals have rights.  Zounds.  People that, as far as I know, don’t even benefit financially from that position.  And it got me to thinking about stages of activism in this human existence.

Here’s how I think the world stacks up with regard to animal rights activism, at least in the part of the world that doesn’t benefit financially from the exploitation of animals.  The people who do, I’ll save for another day.  I will say, however, that just because one benefits financially from a practice, that does not preclude him or her from seeing things without that $$ lens and making a different choice.  My examples are this awesome guy, named Virgil Butler, who used to work in a Tyson chicken slaughterhouse and one of my favorite human beings, Ray Anderson, for whom the light of sustainability flicked on while he was earning enough money to, shall we say, not want to see that particular light switched on.  And then became an activist for sustainability.

 

milk machine PETA Atlanta GARP Georgia Animal Rights and Protections

GARP and PETA assemble a cast of cows in Atlanta to say, "I am not a milk machine."

The Activist Category A:  In this category, the street can be, uh, the street, or it can be virtual (social media, letter-writing, phone-calling, blog writing, etc).  Activism is activism.  And the crème de la crème of activists are the ones who (get to) participate on the physical front lines rather than from their terminals.  Cat A Activists know this.  The front line and the virtual  Cat A’s have a beautiful friendship.

The Activist Category B:  In this category, I put those who, while they believe that dolphin captivity is wrong, just don’t see themselves as sign-carriers or letter-writers or costume-wearers (you gotta try this one!).  This amalgamation of folks seems to share the recognition that animals have rights, that dolphin captivity can’t possibly be good for the animal, and, therefore, the inquiry stops as it did for Mark Twain when he considered vivisection, and they conclude that they want no part of dolphin shows.

I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn’t…The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further.                                                                        -Mark Twain

The Category B Activist – the “B” stands for Belief – will not do certain things.  This “not doing” generally comes in fits and starts – most Cat A Activists have gone through Cat B – as new informational tidbit after new video surfaces, and they actually consider the math of the range of a wild dolphin (tens and up to a hundred miles a day, depending on the population) and compare that to a life in captivity, whether wild-caught or bred for captivity.  Cat B’s don’t go to SeaWorld or the Georgia Aquarium or Dolphin Quest Resorts, or even the local putt-putt when they realize that the “attraction” there is the Live Alligators as much as the great golfing, even if it means driving a few blocks to the next putt-putt course to show her golfing prowess.

The only free dolphin at the Georgia Aquarium

The only free dolphin at the Georgia Aquarium

The Believers in Cat B, by the way, end up pledging not to go to the dolphin show or swim-with program, which puts them precariously on the ledge of falling into Cat A, just so you know.  It might not be dolphin activism; it might be dogs-off-chains, or ending cock-fighting, or the horrific farm-factory practices here in these United States and elsewhere, but at least some email-writing, petition-signing or maybe even costume-wearing is not far behind.

The Fearful Haters:  Let me explain that downright ugly name, one my momma wouldn’t want me putting in writing.  Maybe when she learns that I almost called this category The Pig Fuckers, she’ll be impressed with my decorum.  Who are the FHs and how did they get to feeling so darned superior over animals?  But even “darned superior” isn’t quite on the mark to capture their disdain for animal suffering.  These appear to be people who have had an animal trauma.  Maybe their dog jumped on them when they were five, and having been thus terrorized by man’s-best-friend, they’ve never felt comfortable in the presence of any animal afterward.  Or their parents took their dog away but told him, or her, that the dog was mean and had to be sent away.  Or the parents truly liked the dog best.  And now they find solace in the subordination of nonhuman animals, these creatures that jumped on him, or her.

Okay, so I don’t believe that.  There’s got to be something else behind all animal hating or malicious indifference.  And just because I clearly don’t understand the mentality, however small, of those who don’t see that compassion restricted to its own group – whether species, race, ethnicity or religion – is not compassion at all, doesn’t mean that it isn’t understandable.  A real live psychologist would undoubtedly find other categories between the Fuck Holes (oops, I forgot what FH stood for), I mean, Fearful Haters, and the activists.  But I’m not a psychologist.  I’m just a human being, with a compassion for creatures other than humans, who recognizes that we have encroached on their territory, extracted them from it for our own purposes – first only circuses, now circuses, education and warfare.

I also see a trend; with regular updating, the U.S. and/or its states have moved in the right direction in recognizing that animal welfare should be protected and that industries who benefit from exploiting them may not be whom you want to define the standards.  So I have hope that we will continue until we get our laws to spring logically from our science.

But who, I ask you, could hate a dolphin enough to want to rip it from the ocean, or worse, breed it in captivity and to live its life in one or several small tanks or ponds, to be gawked at or worse, ridden like a bucking bronco?  Don’t get me started on that one.

Striped dolphins free Georgia Aquarium Seaworld

Striped dolphins as they were intended, free

The sustainable lifestyle of an Appalachian community

Harlan County Kentucky River Cleanup III 2011 wildflowers

Roadside wildflowers - photo day of River Cleanup III, the Hullaballoo

I am watching a 12:53 video made by The University of Kentucky in 1940, uploaded into YouTube by nologorecords/The Film Archive (I love: you, The Film Archive!) that, I think, is intended to make us feel sorry for the family characterized in the film and ultimately, suggests that Appalachian children should study useful subjects in school like crop rotation instead of how to invest.

As an Appalachian, stock not only of the Europeans that the film narrator compliments as cousins of the early settlers, but also of my Cherokee foremothers and forefathers – I want to say, flpspstiseinptsinflpanfnaenasph.

The film shows an Appalachian family, the progeny of “brave pioneer stock,” scratching a living out of the side of a hill, with worn-out dirt and “the same old seeds” passed from earlier generations.  And that’s where the evil begins.

This films vilifies that which it should celebrate:

  • Self-determination
  • Self-reliance
  • Resourceful instead of resource-intensive lives
  • Recycling and reusing

This film wants us to pity that which we should congratulate and emulate.  This film portrays as unfortunates those whom we should regard as a perfection of humanity: one who lives sustainably with his environs, one who does not overrule his neighbor’s – be it human or other plant and animal – right to its natural life, in its balance and harmony with its niche.   This film uses precisely these same characteristics to portray these people as unfortunates.

We are told that these people did not get enough food or have the proper nutrition: no fresh vegetables in the Winter (although I’m not even believing that these people didn’t have a root cellar containing potatoes, other root vegetables and home-canned goods).  Don’t get me started on nutrition, with most of us still eating an agribiz-invented made-up food pyramid that had a huge part in creating Fat Unfit Unhealthy Nation.

The film doesn’t say, but could have, that these unfortunates likely had less fat and more vegetables in the Summer, because they would be focusing on growing the animal for next Winter’s slaughter, and would need bodies that cooled effectively rather than stored heat.  During the Summer, both the humans and the hog and cow would be grazing on the vegetable bounty provided by the Earth.  Then in Winter, they would eat more fat when their body most needed to store it to generate that extra heat and provide a bit more insulation.

But if all that – not to mention the mournful music – wasn’t enough to plunk your heartstrings to play the sound of pity, they show us more, to feel a pang loud enough to want a vague something “more” for that poor unfortunate family.

What more does it want for these people?  The film apparently wants the children of Appalachia to go to school to study only certain subjects, like how to rotate crops, while avoiding subjects that would not contribute to his or her life, like saving/investing or the banking system.  And certainly they shouldn’t waste their time reading – egad – fairy tales.

Remember: this is a family that, with collaboration with its neighbors, feeds itself, clothes itself, provides its own shelter, with materials at hand.  Newspaper, recycled as wallpaper, with articles on sustainable farming practices.  Guess Mr. Film Man didn’t notice that article.

New ideas are not easy to come by when learning passes from mouth to mouth, from father to son.

We lost ourselves when we as a species completely forgot the lifestyle of a village that supports itself – where some shoe our horses, forge our wheels, make our tools; others grows our flax and cotton one year alternating to corn the next while his neighbors do the opposite; everyone has a kitchen garden; they collectively store the grain for food and seeds for future crops.

I know there are pockets of individuals out there (and I know nothing yet about the Amish or other more traditional village-based communities), so this isn’t intended so much as the castigation it sounds.  It’s more my own call to that part of myself that remembers that the values in the post-Depression era that were all about progress (culminating in a seed company getting patents on food seeds and acquiring monopolitic water rights) may have more than outlived their usefulness.

While I think the film is wrong-headed from start to finish – I do think that more of us should learn about crop rotation, real nutrition, and sustainability in our every day lives.

I’ll close with two questions:

  • Who would benefit if more of us returned to this lifestyle?
  • Who would benefit if we didn’t?