Monthly Archives: January 2012

Join in finding freedom from captivity – A New Show

Ric O'Barry after release of The Cove

Ric O’Barry after release of The Cove, photo from The Examiner

For years, Ric O’Barry and Hardy Jones have spoken out against marine mammal captivity.  They have pointed out in movies, such as The Cove and A Fall from Freedom, that whales and dolphins do not belong in captivity.  Recently a group of former Sea World trainers have created an interactive website, where they speak out about the life of captivity for marine mammals.

Mr. O’Barry, as a former and probably the world’s most famous dolphin trainer, learned from being with them on an ongoing basis, that training them to perform and keeping them in captivity was not an ethical undertaking.  He learned that dolphins in those settings can become dispirited and depressed.  He learned what Jacques Cousteau admonished, that

No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.  – Jacques Yves Cousteau

In response to that realization, Mr. O’Barry and others have devoted their lives toward securing the release of dolphins and orcas from a captive, for-human-entertainment life.

Rehabilitate the captives.  Mr. O’Barry has suggested an ethical alternative for the trainers and the captive facilities, like SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium.  That alternative is to provide real education about whales and dolphins by rehabilitating for a life in the wild the cetaceans whom the aquarium industry has captured or bred for captivity.  And making that the show. There are over 50 cetaceans at Sea World Orlando alone, and hundreds in the United States.  The international situation mirrors the United States one, with worse conditions than the meager protections afforded by U.S. laws.

Wouldn’t rehabilitation of former “performers” be a fine undertaking and a show that you’d be proud to attend?  And a wonderful memory for your children?  Of having been part of and been there on the front row of finding freedom for the world’s dolphins and whales.

You have, perhaps, seen the videos of dogs who had spent their entire lives chained to a post and then become free from that chain.  While dogs and dolphins are not an apt special comparison because dolphins are actually wild, undomesticated animals, watching even a dog experience freedom from a chain, unsuitable for its normal activity and range, may give us some sense of what an orca or dolphin, far more intelligent than a dog, would experience in the same situation.

We would need to be very responsible in that endeavor to release these highly intelligent mammals in a way that took into account their intelligence, their lifestyles, their instincts, their native habitat.  We could do that.  And if we humans are ethical and moral creatures, we will do that.

Rehabilitate the stranded.  After we succeeded in rehabilitating the captive-bred or captured dolphins and orcas, there would be ongoing work to rehabilitate whales and dolphins who strand, generally en masse, for reasons that still elude the human species.  Instead of finding reasons to retain the stranded, Sea World and the rest could re-focus the effort that they now expend in training for jumping, splashing, ball-throwing shows on caring for the stranded, locating the still-free remnant of the pods, and reuniting them.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to share with your children an experience of restoring a free life to these magnificent creatures?  As a comparison, if we desired to design a depressing life for dolphins and whales, we would wind up with a design like the current Sea World and The Georgia Aquarium.  Of course, that is not our desire.  That is, I feel certain, not the desire of the aquariums.  But the apparently willful blindness of the aquarium industry to the egregious, depressing life that they have designed for whales and dolphins is no excuse.  It is not an excuse for any of us, any more. We and they must step beyond the Mid-Twentieth Century mentality of dolphin and whale captivity.

The great news is that there is an alternative. An ethical alternative.  An alternative that will allow us all to participate in making a difference for life.  But we must together create that alternative.  How?

By being part of a demand for A New Show.

And, meanwhile, by taking a pledge not to go to the current one.  Be part of building an ethical outcome to the captivity dilemma.  Never again allow a dolphin to die as Jiyu, whose life will forever remind us that dolphins should be free.

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn't withstand captivity Taiji Cove

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn’t withstand captivity, photo by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins


Free Recycled Shopping Bags

Watch out! It's Recyclosaurus!! (Kroger)

If anyone has read my blog lately, they may pick up on the idea that, among all my other traits, I am, shall we say, extremely disorganized.  Thank god for chairs and computers and books and printers and notebooks and pen and paper.  Words are a wonderful world of partially-furnished organization.

I also love organization.  It’s soooooooo cool.  But I just don’t have the knack to do and keep it done in the physical world.  So my life, in the home organization department, is pretty much spent getting organized (to a greater or lesser degree) and then spending the next two years on the sliding board of disorganization, only to land in the disorganization mudpit at the bottom of the slide, where it becomes so obvious that disorganization is now a problem that I must do something about it.

Which brings us to this article.  This last home organization cycle has lasted for more than two years.  That is to say, I’ve been living in the mudpit for awhile, peppered with periods or even moments where I cleaned up enough to notice an improvement and then stopped.  If you follow this blog, you’ll notice that I have been climbing back up that sliding board since the weekend of Christmas.

So disorganized?  Yes.  But will I find single-use plastic shopping bags in this mess?  No.  Because, while disorganized, I’m also an environmentalist and lover of the planet who tries in my disorganized way make choices about my lifestyle that are consistent with my love of the planet.

No single-use plastic in this disorganized gal’s house.  Instead, I find, in my cleaning adventure, a medium-sized pile of recycled shopping bags.  Not a huge pile, because it isn’t really true that Hoarders invited me on their show, and if someone suggests that, Hoarders and I both know it isn’t true.  But a pile, yes, and one bigger than I can use to do my food-shopping.  Fresh vegetables really don’t take that much room in shopping bags.

And of course, you’re ahead of me.  You know why I have that medium-sized pile.  You all (except the most organized) experience those moments walking into the grocery store, the “Crap!  I forgot the recycled shopping bags!” moments.  The ones you even stomp your foot and snap your fingers about, right there in the grocery store.  But I refuse to use single-use shopping bags.  Nope.  Not gonna do it.   Ergo, medium-sized pile.  If I were more organized, I could say medium-sized stack.  But, alas, I am not, and cannot.

So, I just decided this morning that if you, dearest (you have no idea how dear, unless my stats are showing) reader, would like to have one of my existing shopping bags, please leave a comment and I’ll send one to you.

Bag that saves dolphins.

It’s not like I’m the Imelda Marcos of shopping bags; I don’t have that many.  I just have more than I need and thought I would share.  Simple.  So, when my paltry pile is empty, I won’t purchase more just so I can send one to you.

Hm.  Wait a minute.  Maybe I will.

If you take a pledge not to use single use shopping bags in your comment on this piece, I will send you a brand new one.

Show your love for the planet.  Leave a comment. Pledge to not use single-use plastics shopping bags.  I can’t send an on-request, particular kind, but I think you’ll like them.

Hey, pledge in the comment to work on an ordinance for your City Council  to end the use of single-use plastic bags within its jurisdiction, also providing contact information for your Mayor and City Council members, and I’ll send you five new recycled shopping bags.

But you won’t find a Publix bag in the lot, because they sponsor the diabolical dolphin show at the Georgia Aquarium, and I will never give my money to Publix, unless I am visiting my mom, where that is apparently all they have.

Wait.  Ooh.  If you sign the pledge at Save Japan Dolphins to not go to the dolphin show and comment on this article indicating the date and time (for verification, because I’m a bitch) you signed the Pledge at Save Japan Dolphins, I will send you five new free recyclable shopping bags, too.  I’m still not guaranteeing the message.  But you’ll like them, unless you’re a bolt of cloth.  Note that Save Japan Dolphins has not approved this; this is just me on a Saturday morning drinking coffee.

And what about my medium-sized pile?  I’ll continue to palm them off on my most honored first and last born and his amazing sweetheart.

Late-breaking edit: I’m thinking a five-bag maximum makes sense.  I wouldn’t want you to start creating your own pile.  So, if you both pledge to not go to the dolphin show AND agree to work on an ordinance in your town, you’ll get twice the karma points, but not the number of bags, except for Georgia, whose awesome commitment brought this consideration to the surface.  And can only do this for U.S. addresses.  At least for now.

Note: It doesn't say "Organize it." or maybe I would have? Basically.

Is partisan politics bad?

Criminy, but Hitchens is brilliant, of course, but how did he become so at such a young age?  Here, on C-SPAN from 1990, he, Brian, and Richard Critchfield discuss America and Britain after their recently-published and topical books.

One awesome point by Hitchens reminds me of a view about political parties that was discussed in one of my mid-1970s Political Science classes.  The view was that a two-party system was effective at assisting voting choices among the public and that consistently voting along party lines was not a bad thing.  The alternate view is the one championed on the streets in the U.S., and it is safe to say that we were all fed the same pablum notion (if from the press rather than from our parents) that “voting for the man” or “voting for the man, not the Party” was a virtue, and that voting along Party lines meant you were a simpleton, a lemming.

I grew up in a family where anything other than straight ticket voting was unthinkable, not merely out of loyalty, but more from the knowledge that your Party really was the one whose decisions, day-in-day-out, were most aligned with your views.  This had been the orientation for several generations.  Through all the Party twists and turns, adjustments and realignments.  But then came the 50s, followed by the 60s.  With somehow, the Democrats landing on the side of freedom, freedom of expression, freedom from the tyranny of “one-right-thinking”.  In my view.

My grandfather was a Republican of the old cloth.  The Party opposed to slavery.  Simplistic, yes, but generally true.  And the converse, about the Democratic Party, is also, and as generally, true.  My grandfather, a State Senator in the Commonwealth of Kentucky (tell me again why they call them State Senators if Kentucky is a Commonwealth?) and the southeastern corner of the Commonwealth, in particular, for around 30 years, brought roads into that holy corner, sponsored legislation for free textbooks so that all children had access to education, and supported much other legislation that helped the common man, the heretofore uneducated or their children.

But somewhere (my job isn’t to know all the facts about how, but if you are, feel FREE to school me in the comments because I know I need to learn it), the Parties shifted, and my little corner of my Grandfather’s blood legacy finds itself at home today in the Democratic Party.  I myself, as I love to hear Hitchens say, find it insulting to be considered that far right.  I find it amusing to think that it is extreme to want corporations so radically transformed that it will require generations to redesign a smooth system.  But that’s just me.  Smile.

Chances are, if my brilliant father were alive, he could explain to me why he was still a Republican, much in the same way that I can follow Hitchens’ logic about the war on Iraq, and understand that he might be onto something, although I may not agree.  Maybe Dad could explain to me why his Republicanism was an approach that could work.  But since there’s no Republican alive with the mental faculties of my deceased father, I’m afraid I’m doomed to die unable to hear across that ethical divide.

I’m not sure that I would be up to the task of communicating to my father, in the same way, about why the Democratic Party of today best represents the values of my Grandfather.  I think if I skip past my father, however, to my grandfather, or even to my grandfather’s father, I think I might more easily converse and would find a Republican who understood why I was a Democrat and would, if living today, switch Parties.

So, to the original point, that we have been fed this line that voting straight ticket is bad, and voting-for-the-man is good.  Here’s what I think: someone likes the Party lines to be less than clear, to keep us confused, so that we really never quite know what we’re getting on Election Day, so that we’re not sure if it weren’t our fault when certain policies are championed by our chosen, so that maybe next Election Day, we won’t be that motivated to vote, because it didn’t work out so well the last time.  You know what I mean.

Remind me.  What’s wrong with having Parties with clear principles stated clearly?

I still remember that day in Poli Sci, when I first heard the concept that Party Politics is a useful tool.  And find myself this morning hearing Hitchens speak to that topic, in the context of a comparative of the UK and USA, in his casual, youthful elegance.

Loaded by onto YouTube by The Film Archive.  The transcription beneath the video begins at 7:55, but as, usual, I recommend listening to all and then going to the Film Archive to watch the entire program.

What I think I most miss by living here – and I agree with the lady that the British committee system is no good and the American hearings are a lot better – is simply the idea of the word “partisan.”  I can’t stand the fact that in American political discussion, the word “bipartisan” is used to mean automatically very good, everyone trying to agree, everyone wanting to think and say the same thing, and that one of the worst things you can say of somebody is, they’re taking a partisan view, as if, if we go on like this, before we know where we are, we’ll have two parties.  In other words, a one-party state mentality enforced in a sort of consensus talk and babble. . .

          –  Christopher Hitchens

Up with this we will not put.

Those of us who have survived him are doomed, honored, condemned, predicted, and otherwise going to spend our days reading him, transcribing him, listening to and watching audio and video recordings of him.

I imagine that I share with some of you the discovery ever (I just typed “every” instead of “ever” and because sometimes I also dictate to myself audibly as I type, said  out loud “every” instead of “ever” before “so often” because I am from Southeastern Kentucky, the best place on the whole planet to have in one’s genes, spirit, blood, muscles, sinews, hair, brain, sensibilities, all built upon the ancient and reworked and perfected minerals from this ancient land – all that produced her genealogy and her.  And her progeny.  But I digress.)  [Big smile on this Appalachian girl’s face.]

The point was that “ever” so often, maybe every five or 10 days, I read or hear or watch something of Christopher’s, and I gasp and think, “This is the best piece, the best point, the best phrase, the best argument.”  And it’s true each time.

Today’s amazing find, begins on this video provided by (appears to have been taped on May 10, 2007, at Politics and Prose) at about five minutes, and 28 seconds in.

But don’t cheat yourself out of a second up to that point.  Watch it all.  See if you can stand it.  See if you can listen without smiling, clapping, giggling, seeing genius.  Missing him.  Of course you can’t.  You shouldn’t.  Just watch.  Listen.  Smile.

You can see it Dupont Circle, every day. People who want you to be spiritual.  Well, I don’t mind.  I do not mind.  Just leave me out of it. And babble all you like; it’s fine by me.  Whatever floats your boat.

But I insist; I insist.  Don’t  try and teach this to my children. Don’t try and put it in the schools.  Don’t get the President to talk piss on public occasions, in this way.  Don’t be praising people because they’ll believe anything.  Don’t be telling me that jihadism is the expression of some suppressed grievance.  Don’t be telling me any of that.  Don’t tell me that God gave you the West Bank.  None of this, because this is not a difference of opinion; this is a battle, in which civilization is involved, and in which they’ve had it all their own way for far too long.  And people who care for civilization are going to have to fight and show that we, too, have unalterable convictions; we, too, have real principles that can’t be changed.  We won’t call them faith or dogma.  But don’t mistake that for weakness.   And yeah. You know what, on certain days we, too, can be offended.  “I find that really offensive.”  That you say to me that God is telling you blow yourself up in my city.  No.  No.  That’s offensive; it’s worse than offensive.

Up with this we will not put.

This morning’s question about Samantha’s powers

Photo from

I don’t normally write about Bewitched, but I was wondering this morning why Samantha Stevens had to fly some things in, like a casserole from the kitchen through those cool louvered doors on the kitchen pass-through bar.  Or through the ubiqitious swinging door between kitchen and modest, conservatively modern dining room.  While, at other times when she wiggled her nose [tink-a-link-a-link], other things could just appear?

Why could the bed just <poof!> be made one time, while another spell used some invisible fingers to lift the bedspread and tuck it under the pillows?  And remember that the Flying Food or Invisible Finger method always had a sound effect that sounded like work.  An up-and-down, grinding, repetitive kind of sound.  While the instant appearance of dining room repast on a simply but elegantly appointed table had a bell sound effect.  Ding!  It’s done!  Versus the whirr and grind it out approach.

Why do witches have broomsticks at all, for that matter, when they can just materialize on the top of Mount Everest, for instance, to get the antidote for Witch Flu?

I guess there must a limit to witches’ powers or maybe just skillset, such that they can’t always run at full throttle, as in <poof!>, on all tasks.  And maybe they’d get bored if they used the same mechanism, all the time, day after day, to work their magic in the world?  Like there’s an inherent pull to be creative.  To try new ways, while mastering others.

Hm.  Kinda like us.

Corny, I know.  But if you stop to think about it.  Why [Conspiracy Afoot sound effect] does Sam not just <poof!> everything?

I wonder if J. K. Rowling knows the answer or maybe the folks over at Bewitched Bookworms.

Ric O’Barry Live from Taiji, Japan

Ric O'Barry, photo from

For the last several days, Ric O’Barry has been live streaming via ustream from Taiji, Japan.  Mr. O’Barry, the world’s most known dolphin activist,  is discussing dolphin captivity, capture and slaughter.

I just learned about it – woops – and thought I would pass it along right away.

Click now and sign up for a reminder for a live broadcast tonight, Saturday, January 7, 2012, at 8:00 pm E.S.T.

For more information about what you can do to be part of a worldwide movement to save the world’s dolphins, go to Save Japan Dolphins.

Religion is like a house guest

He, from

I would so like to run this thought past him to see what he thinks.  But he’s not here.  And you are.

It struck me as I was doing some end-of-year cleaning that my house was more-than-usually filthy.  And cluttered.  Shoes showed up from under the couch that have been MIA for months.  They showed up, yes.  But not in pairs.

Then off to the kitchen, I became fully conscious to the fact that I have devoted a corner of the kitchen for the function of yard implement staging:  a blower, a couple of hand hoes, two pairs of loppers still in their packaging (Hoarders, stay away from my house.  You can’t handle

Norman and the Misfit Shoes

the Mo), one-third of a box of  wild bird seed (it’s been sitting there since last Winter, I’m pretty sure), and – not really in the yard-implement category but close enough to find itself in that corner filing system – a set of trekking poles that I bought to help me with my bad back.  Not so much because they would really help that, but just that they might get me walking more.

I could go on, but I’ll extract us both from the litany of my chore discoveries and get to the point.

Some people can keep a clean house day in, day out, without being reminded, requested, cajoled.  They just do it.  Sometimes they even like it.  They recognize that keeping a clean and tidy home has intrinsic benefits.  Others may not take up the mantle of cleaning the home quite so frequently as that, but generally give it an adequate going-over every couple of weeks.  Again, without reminder, etc.,.

Then there are people like me.  Who always, or pretty near always, let something – laundry, dishes, vacuuming, going through mail, all of the above – get too far gone for the fix to be anything less than a major undertaking.


Unless company is coming.  Then I turn into the human dirt devil and retrieve from the broom closet the otherwise stored “rags”, brooms, sweepers, furniture wax and even sand paper and linseed oil and put them to the use for which they were intended.

And it occurred to me during my cleaning spree, that religion is kinda like that house guest.  The guest stands as a wall, a certain-to-occur event, that motivates the right-thinking and -doing of house work.  The possibility of a house guest just isn’t enough.  To unleash the white tornado, there must be the I’ll be there at 7:00 certainty.

So, while for some, cleaning house is an activity that will be done whether or not one is expecting neighbors to drop in for a little holiday cheer, for others, an external nudge is a necessary part of the house-cleaning system.  Those who clean house without the threat of in-house entertainment are like those who find ethics and morality to be organically generated and not derived from or dependent upon the truth of religion.

And the ones who need to have that house guest on the way in order to clean house?  Well.  They’re like the other ones.  It does occur to me that I always say, “Please forgive the mess” when someone drops by.  Hm.

Cleanliness is next to godliness has a whole new meaning for me.’s tribute to Hitchens

I am nobly trying to focus on cleaning house, but I find myself sitting in front of this  computer, at varying levels of interaction, far too much.  Much of my time has been spent, as it has been for many of you, watching and reading about Hitchens.  So, I am now attempting to listen to him as I clean by creating a little mobile network involving me, my iPhone and headphones.  That this is an accomplishment reveals, I realize, that I am more like the Neanderthal than I am most times aware.

But here I go headphones on.  I’m trying the big ones now, since they appear to be coming back in vogue, and I believe I heard for sound quality reasons.  I am not tech-savvy enough to read the Consumer Reports piece, or even find it, on the review of Best Head Phones for Being about the House, house-cleaning, for instance.  And I’m not energy-savvy enough to get off my bottom and go to Best Buy and ask one of its employees.  No, I’m a lazy ass – except I think I gave that up yesterday in a burning bowl ceremony.  Huh.  Well, if I gave it up, what’s it doing there in my thinking?  Oh, I remember.  I have to practice to develop an habitual way of thinking that is different from my current – I mean, past – one.

Anyway, as I walk off to clean cum headsets, I thought I’d share with you what I’m listening to:’s tribute to Christopher Hitchens


And a short written excerpt from

  • The Commonwealth Club
  • Palo Alto, California
  • July 9, 2009


INTERVIEWER: We have a number of questions, curiously enough, about your favorite things.  One wants to know “things you can’t live without when traveling” and one person, one well-informed audience member, of course, wants to know what your favorite whiskey is.

HITCHENS:  Well, I don’t see what the difference between the two questions.

I love to see him smile.