Saturday, June 13, 2015

ALF Terrorist?

The Animal Liberation Front was brought up several times and a movie was shown in class about them.  One thing that seemed to shock some of the students and the ALF members was that the ALF was considered the most dangerous terrorist orginization in the United States.  This also surprised me when I heard.  I do think they should be considered terrorists because they do use terror to further their politics.  I do not think they should be ranked the most dangerous terrorists in the United States.  The ALF has not killed anyone and poses little threat to most people.  Surely there must be much more dangerous terrorists in the US rather than a group of radical animal activists.

Black Beauty

Out of all the books, exerts, and passages I have read for this class Black Beauty was undoubtably my favorite one.  Black Beauty moved me with it tale of hardship that horses went through in England during the industrial era.  I think one reason why I liked Black Beauty was because it seemed so real. If a horse was sentient enough to write a book the book would probably look very similar to Black Beauty. Another reason why I enjoyed Black Beauty was because of the range of emotions I felt while reading it.  I had to hold back my tears during the reunion at the end and bit my tongue in anger after Beauty was almost worked to death.  Black Beauty holds a place as one of my all time favorite books to read.

Zoos

Zoos were a subject that we talked about many times in class.  Even though we discussed and read many articles about the ethics of zoos I am torn about what I should think of them.  I like going to the zoo and seeing all the animals but I do feel a bit sad when I look at them because I know they have no freedom.  One of the essays I wrote for this class was on zoos and to summarize it I basically said zoos are neither bad nor good.  Both sides have their points and in the end I think they cancel each other out leaving this grey neutral stance on zoos.  It is hard to be neutral because you usually end up leaning towards one side. I am not sure what side I probably lean towards but I hope I can keep being  bipartisan on this subject until one side outweighs the other.

Should We Have Pets?

One topic that was brought up in class was the ethics of pets.  In class we merely mentioned the subject and did not pursue a discussion on it.  I was fairly interested in it and wanted to hear what other people had to say about it.  Personally I am for having pets, I have four dogs and I cannot imagine life without them.  Many pets also seem content with their current living arrangements.  But I do think some animals should not be pets, big cats for example.  Animals like that should not be kept by people, they're too dangerous and need vast amounts of land to roam for them to live a pleasant life. I do think people should have pets but I do not think all animals should be pets.

Friday, June 12, 2015

My Mighty Mouse, any thoughts?

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/42470/title/My-Mighty-Mouse/

This article is quite interesting. It deals with mouses being used as test subjects for when there's a sick human that's been diagnosed with a tumor. The way that this process work is that the doctors would extract some tumor tissue and apply it to the mouse. After the mouse has fully developed the tumor tissue, the researchers would try multiple combinations of medicine and apply it to the mouse seeing if it would have any positive effects and reduce the tissue.

I strongly feel that this is great that it's helping the human kind but at the same time, the mouses are probably suffering from what the researchers are giving them. Do anyone think this is a sort of animal abuse as well?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Should Hunting Be Banned?

One of the topics that I expected to be discussed in the class was the ethics of hunting.  Is hunting a necessary thing people have to do in today's world?  After all it seems that hunting has lost its point, food is not scarce anymore.  Most of us would probably also agree that hunting for the enjoyment of killing is wrong.  So why not ban hunting?  I personally believe that we should not ban the practice of hunting, there is more to it than what was described above.  Legitimate hunting is very regulated and closely monitored during hunting seasons. Hunting keeps the population of animals from exploding and wrecking the ecosystem. Poachers are the real problem we should be cracking down on.  Hunting is also a part of culture in other areas of the country.  To sum up my answer "should hunting be banned?" I would have to say no, it is not as inhumane and barbaric as people think.    

Monday, June 8, 2015

Marjorie Spiegel (In Defense of Slavery)

She compares human slavery with animal enslavement.  She had several pieces of shocking evidence that left me on the edge. An example is a quote she had there by James Boswell where he says that African savages were off being slaves because it saved them from massacre, intolerable bondage in their own country and according to him introduced them into a much happier state of life. Another example was of Aristotle who believed that the victims had to be transformed from the mind of oppressed beings to thankful underlings. That they should be grateful for being used, appreciated, and protected, while fulfilling the needs of their superiors.  In comparison being a tamed animal is good because it secures the animal’s survival.  Aristotle also claims that if physically born stronger than other humans then these people are slaves by nature and “better” for them to be subject to this kind of control. He believed certain animals and certain humans were physically born to be of assistance of others and the rest to be useful for community life. Another interesting idea is from John P. Kennedy, which he believed that the slaves he wrote about in his book could never be more happier. That no tribe of people has ever passed from barbarism to civilization protected, supplied and secured from harm the way the “negroes” were on the farm he observed.  

Spiegel then compared the slaves from such farm to chickens in an egg factory. She interviewed a worker from the farm in which he believed that the chickens were happy and that they were actually “protecting” them from predators. Speigel then says how both animals and slaves were being ignored and society defends the violation of another’s life through our denial of reality which makes us uncomfortable. An example is how people happily bring their children to the zoo to see the animals totally ignoring the treatment of the animals, their happiness, their lost freedom and the destruction of their natural habitats. The most shocking thing I read in the article was how in 1906 an African Pygmy was displayed in a zoo in a cage with chimpanzees.  Her last quote says something along the lines that if you can live with cruelty around you and live comfortably then you are lost.

Rothels (Zoo’s)

This was sort of a tough read because I didn’t really seem to understand the authors point. He talks about Micro cultural incidents and how it doesn’t really have to do with animals and humans but more of just the study of the human’s gestures and culture. He says the zoo is just a neutral background.  But further through the reading he questions if it is truly a neutral background he then states how he thinks Zoos are sort of like a pleasure to humans and how unknowingly they have a thing for “seeing creatures in captivity. He states how in Germany there was a zoo that got rid of its bars and was located outside in the open in comparison to other enclosed zoos. This zoo in particular tried its best to make the people see the animals in their natural habitat. He tied that in with a more modern zoo where in a gorillas cage trees were wrapped with electric wires so that the gorillas wont damaged them, but the zoo made them look like vines so it could seem appealing to the public and so they could think that the animals were happier in their natural habitat.  In the end he tied it to do they really deserve this? Are their lives worth less? Also his last example was about the jaguar and the keepers accommodating to the jaguars abilities he realized that maybe Zoos aren’t just for the public but are built for the close relationship of the keepers and the animals. That maybe humans aren’t that cruel after all, they just go to zoos to see if they have improved in a sense. (People go not because they fail to see the limitations of the place but because they are searching for the possibilities)


Saturday, June 6, 2015

PETA Does Not Care About Your Pet

People should not trust PETA when it comes to animal welfare. They have been proven to not be in the interest of helping pets. PETA has said that they do not condone the practice of pet keeping due to human cruelty to pets. While the worst humans are those who are cruel to animals, the majority of pet owners are very loving to their pets, and this love is reciprocated by the pets. Against PETA are two sources that I believe people for animal rights should trust: Snopes and the Huffington Post. Snopes is a quick google search away from debunking any online myth and the Huffington Post is one of the Online News Moguls with a strong pro-animal bias. I have heard numerous unsubstantiated claims that PETA has been seen in neighborhoods stealing pets and euthanizing them because they believe pets are slaves, and a slave is better dead than a slave. At the posted link we see that PETA have been involved with this practice but not convicted. In the Huffington Post article, the author digs deep and publishes a scathing report on PETA's "animal shelters" and how in 2011 96% of all animals admitted were killed. That is 4% shy of an effective slaughterhouse. If you are triggered by animal cruelty then you should not read the article. There are pictures and there are numerous graphic accounts of the suffering these animals go through. DO NOT SUPPORT PETA, THEY DO NOT SUPPORT ANIMALS.

Zoos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb6LBaQs4bQ&index=4&list=PL3YYcAUnp_s-tag4c_uS6uHPTscYscHva
In my home town the Chaffee Zoo had four Malaysian Tiger cubs born a little over a year ago. Some of the reading suggests that zoos are horrible organizations, squeezing money out of consumers and making animals live horrible lives for our entertainment. But several animals live longer in captivity and zoo breeding programs can help bounce back endangered species. There are so few Malaysian cubs that when these four were born the world population increased by about 2%. In just one generation. In the last century there were about 20 California Condors alive in the world and the San Diego Zoo started a breeding program that saved the species. The United States has some amazing zoos and they are one of the keys to helping animals stave off extinction.

What about carnivores?

Sometimes I feel like the minority in this class because I am not a vegan. I eat meat and plants on a daily basis. However, several of my peers are vegetarian or vegan. They say they changed their diet for moral reasons because we are equal to animals. If this is true, then what about animals that eat meat and sometimes even torture their prey? If hunting and eating a deer is wrong for humans, why is it ok for a bear? Humans evolved to eat meat like the carnivores, so if it is only natural, why should they get a pass?

The ALF

We watched a video from the Animal Liberation Front.  In that video the people in the organization lamented on being arrested and branded as terrorists. The dictionary definition of terrorism is "the systematic use of violent or destructive acts used by a groups in order to intimidate a population into granting their demands." The problem with their whining is that THEY ARE terrorists. The ALF has firebombed research facilities, destroyed livelihoods, and harrassed university professors to the point of leaving dirty bombs and mailing booby trapped letters with razor blades to their homes. This includes the majority of UC's, including UCSC. They can argue that they are saving animals, but don't deny that the Animal Liberation Front is a domestic terrorist group.

Who would you rather live?

I saw this billboard posted by one of my friends on Facebook. In this class the Animal Liberation Front painted a picture of animal researchers being evil. However the research they do saves millions of lives. Mice are frequently used because they share a lot of the same DNA as humans and are easy to reproduce cheaply and quickly. Yes it may be sad that animals have to die for science, but it allows us to make drugs to help people who have conditions like diabetes. It allows us to test the effects on the brain and to help in the search for a cure for cancer. If we aren't going to test on animals, then we will need to test these drugs by giving thousands of humans cancer. Good luck with that.

Friday, June 5, 2015

synthetic meat?

In thought about a post-humanist future, I began to think about synthetic meat and whether or not that would be better than our current food. A lot of meat nowadays is extremely bad- barely meat at all. Mc Donald's Chicken Nuggets for example are a mere 40% actual meat. So while it is worrisome to think about eating meat that is synthetic, this would actually provide a way of eating meat that would not provide moralistic harm to animals.
Book Review: Domesticated

This book sounds fascinating. It covers the domestication of dogs, cats, cows, goats and other mammals. According to the author, animals benefit from being domesticated as well, since domesticated species are less likely to go extinct. So from an evolutionary standpoint, domestication is good for both humans and animals. I'd love to see this author argue with some of the viewpoints we've read about in class.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Lion Kills Tourist In South Africa

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/150602-lions-big-cats-attack-south-africa-tourists-animals/

This article was about the recent lion attack that killed a tourist in South Africa. A female tourist had her windows down in the Lion Park in Johannesburg and one of the lions attacked her through an open car window. I believe this articles illustrates that we shouldn't encroach animals in their own environment. Humans should respect all animals especially an animal which is a top predator.

The Creature Connection

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/science/15why.html

This article was very interesting from the New York Times. It talked about how animals can't object if we as humans mischaracterize them in our minds. This article also talked about how animals are comforting pets. In particularly, dogs and cats are mostly always reliable pets. They will put up with human emotions from year after year unlike humans when they grow older.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Disney & Animals

It is common knowledge that anthropomorphism is a typical characteristic in Disney animated films. Here are just a few films that feature anthropomorphized animals:

Dumbo (1941) || Bambi (1942)
  
Alice in Wonderland (1951) || Lady and the Tramp (1955)
The Jungle Book (1967) || The Aristocats (1970)
 
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) || The Little Mermaid (1989)
Aladdin (1992) || The Lion King (1994)
Pocahontas (1995) || Mulan (1998)
  
Tarzan (1999) || Finding Nemo (2003)
Ratatouille (2007) || Up (2009)

Tangled (2010) || Brave (2012)
 

Interesting Discoveries

Pets usually recognize their owner by their voice, features, smell, etc. In the National Geographic article by Liz Langley, she discovered that dogs are not able to recognize their owners while looking at a phone or table screen. Do you think its because they are not able to sense their owner's presence? It makes me think if dogs understand what is really going on while looking at their owners through a phone screen. I think this new discovery is very interesting. What do you think? 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/05/150530-dogs-animals-psychology-technology-science/
Chimpanzees cook, given the opportunity

Researchers gave chimps the chance to put raw slices of food in an "oven" which produced cooked food, and they did. So chimps can understand there is a transformation that takes place, they prefer the cooked food, and they can deal with 'delayed gratification. '
Very human behavior. Aldo note that the researchers are a married couple, and the woman "contributed equally", but she's barely mentioned.

should animals be used for our entrainment?

It always very entertaining to see what animals can do when they are properly trained by humans. Lately, there has been lots of TV shows in which animals have been used as a form of entertainment. Even though the animals seem interested and willing to do it, there is a slight chance the animals might be put under stress because of the activities they are told to do. In the link below, the video shows the controversy of whether they should let dogs appear on TV talent shows or not. Do you think its ok to use animals as a form of entertainment for us?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/32964806

Dancing with Dead Cats

This was trending on Facebook and it really has to do with the Behind the Mask documentary... Thoughts? Is there any way that this behavior can be justified? Also, I think that it is extra disturbing seeing as these are high schoolers... This also made me think about pets and how many who are asked if they would eat cow meat would say yes, but when asked if they'd eat a pet they would say no. I wonder if any of the students in this class have pet dogs or cats.


Settlers of Catan

So a couple of nights ago, I was playing Settlers of Catan with some of my friends and I noticed that the traded resources or commodities are: brick, stone, wood and.... sheep.

Although I have played this game before, it was shocking to me that I never really noticed that the sheep was different from the other resources. I hadn't considered its value as a living, breathing and feeling being but rather a resource, which is how the creators of this game intend me to treat it. This realization, while certainly a little disturbing, didn't stop me from playing. But what I found super interesting and also really creepy was when my friends started jokingly referring to the sheep as "dirty". I didn't understand this at first, but the more I paid attention to their jokes through out the game, I realized they were paralleling the trading of the sheep to the trading of women (i.e. sex trade, etc.). For example, when one of us would trade sheep for wood, one of my friends would say: "Wow that that dirty sheep is just going from one place to another". This really really bothered me, and brought me back to discussions of intersectionality and shared oppression, through, for example the Sexual Politics of Meat and the Incest Taboo. I am still pretty thrown off my friends' comments.  
I'd like to know what others think. 

Animals in Mirrors

Animals in Mirrors Hilarious Reactions

In this video, a group of people bring a large mirror out into the wild, presumably the jungle. They leave it there with a camera close by to record the reactions of animals getting the first glimpse of themselves - and the reactions are hilarious. Some of the animals look confused, others scared, some defensive, and a few happy and vain. It's interesting to see these wild animals interacting with something purely human, such as the mirror, as it is an object that would never be available without human interaction.

Underwater Dogs

Underwater Dogs

This set of photos is one of my favorites - my mother has them gathered in a book, left on her coffee table. The photographer is smart and quick, snapping pictures of dogs in their most ridiculous looking state. It relates well to our class as well, as such pictures demonstrates anthropomorphism in a unique way - rather than collecting pictures of dogs being cute and loving, which we expect them to be, we're shocked and entertained to view images of them looking savage and wild. These images are not what we're used to, which is surely why the photographer has grown so popular.

Wildlife Photography

As it's relevant to this class's subject of animals, just for amusement here is some of my wildlife photographic work. Photographing animals, especially wildlife, requires intense observation so that you really develop an understanding of the creatures - and sometimes the observation goes both ways.

Amphibious Photography

Of Beetles and Bears: Considering the Little Guys

     We mentioned in the last discussion section how only large charismatic animals, like pandas, get conservation attention while smaller "uglier" animals are generally ignored. This is true, and considering the composition of life on Earth, outright harmful.
     Looking at the 1.3 million species of life identified, large charismatic mammals are unimpressive in their numeric form. Of the mere 1% of all species that are vertebrates, about 5,500 are mammals - that's only 0.4% of species. And within that tiny fraction mammal group, 70% of species are of the orders Rodentia, Chiroptera, and Soricomorpha - your rodents, bats, and shrews, respectively. Yet it's the bears, elephants, wolves, tigers and so on that dominate media.
      Invertebrate animals, on the other hand, make up over 80% of known species - insects by themselves total to around 60% of all. Indeed, if any single group of animals deserves to be crowned victor in the species race, it's the humble beetle, species of which make up about 25% of animal life on Earth. You read that right - a whopping quarter of all animal species are beetles. And of ALL species, animal or otherwise? 20% are beetles. And yet hardly anyone would think the beetle as worthy of more than a shoe stomp while gushing over panda bears.
     This attitude toward invertebrate life puts it at risk. While we desperately try to save pandas from extinction, we ignore the loss of vast arrays of beetles that are vital in keeping their ecosystems functioning. It's too bad for them as well as for us that we find them so unappealing. So next time you haphazardly step on a beetle, remember that it represents a fifth of all life on Earth while you can hardly claim a fraction of a fraction of a percent.

Invertebrates are ignored, overlooked by conservationists, policymakers and the public
Mass Extinction of Insects May Be Occurring Undetected

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Transgenic Art

Transgenic art is an art form based on the use of genetic engineering techniques to transfer synthetic genes to an organism or to transfer natural genetic material from one species into another to create unique living beings.

Alba, the bioluminescent bunny from the reading is a great example of this.



Another example by the same author, Eduardo Kac, is of a series of works of what he calls "biotopes." They are living pieces of art composed of microbes that change during an exhibition in response to internal metabolism and environmental conditions.


'Tips' on capturing wildlife photos

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-21432743

An interesting write up concerning animal and wildlife photography. An instance of better composed objectification or a well-intended study in portraiture of non-humans?

What are Chimeras: Their Uses, Pros, and Cons

A chimera can be defined as an organism composed of two or more genetically distinct tissues, as an organism that is partly male and partly female, or an artificially produced individual having tissues of several species.

Chimeras are formed when two fertilized eggs or early embryos fuse together with each different population of cells retaining its own characteristics.

Perhaps the most common use is to give human cells to animals in order to form stem cells within those animals that are used to form organs and in those animals that are compatible with humans. They are also a good way for humans to learn more about embryonic development.

The pros are as follows:

  • used to create organs for those in need of a transplant
  • used to understand the affects of diseases and medicines on humans
  • does not require embryonic stem cells
Some cons are a matter of bioethics or religion:

  • goes against some religious beliefs
  • mistreatment of chimeras
  • prevented from fully developing 

I believe that the creation of human-animal chimeras is a great outlet for humans to expand our knowledge in the area of human development and others. The idea that we may end up humanizing some animals through our experiments is a risk I believe that we must take. Perhaps risk isn't the right word because I think that humanizing animals would be magnificent. Contrary to what University of Wisconsin bioethicist Alta Charo says, I do believe that we can manage a great ape that has had human embryonic stem cells put in its blastocyst.


The Tiger's Bride Analysis

I wanted to give a brief analysis of the themes in The Tiger's Bride reading. Well, here it goes.

One of the major themes in the piece is the objectification of women: The narrator's father loses her to the beast at cards. Both her father and the beast use words such as "pearl" and "treasure" to refer to her in the story. From this it is clear that Carter sought to emphasize the idea that the narrator's father saw his daughter as a possession to be wagered. When out riding, the protagonist realizes that men see women as soulless, which places them closer to animals. She makes it clear that she feels closer to the valet, the beast and their horses, than to men; these men who view both animals and women as physical property.

Another theme is self-acceptance: Both the heroine and the beast must except their animal nature in order to become free of the societal constructs surrounding them. It is revealed at the end of the story that she, like the valet and beast, is also more non-human animal than at first perceived. She even decides that she wants to stay at the beast's remote palace and chooses not to return to her father and to men's society.

The last theme that I want to discuss is sex and sexual desire: At the beginning of the story, the protagonist hands her father a white rose(representing purity and her virginal self), but she pricks her hand on it before she leaves with the valet and it gets smeared with blood(signifying her loss of virginity and bestial transformation). She decides to strip off her own clothes and feels her self changing, but also requires the beast's assistance in the act for the transformation to become complete; he licks the skin off of her, revealing her underpelt. This act symbolizes the beast and the heroine reclaiming sex as a collaborative act of creation rather than an act where the man claims the woman.

"Power Steer" Reflection

After finish reading this article, I feel that the person that bought the cow has very good ethic morals. He wanted to raise his own food instead of having the cows already killed. Even though he spent a lot of money and didn't make much profit. It was all about the fact that he spent months feeding the cow with corn (protein to make it bigger), instead of just buying the steak itself from the store. This displayed a great look on humanities since he took responsibility for the crucial transaction between the consumer and animals that he tried to eat.
Does anyone else feel the same way as this is the right doing? It might cost a lot of time and money but in the end, it's reimburse with feeling great about yourself. I believe the only difficult thing is not to get attach to the cow otherwise it'd be hard for that person to put the cow down.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Animals and Technology

I came across this news article - America's Elite Cows Don't Give Birth — Their Surrogates Do - the other day and it reminded me of the Pollan "Power Steer" essay we read for class. It occurred to me that both this article and the essay present beef and dairy production as rife with technology. The modern food-animal industry is heavily dependent on biological technology from inception to final product: hormone treatments, artificial insemination, embryo transplants, c-sections, antibiotics, perfectly mixed feed - and this isn't even looking at the machinery side of things. Not to argue that any of this is "bad" or "good", but it is interesting to compare to the history of ranching before these advancements.
Pet owning to me is sometimes a negative, if the pet owners tend to treat the animals in a better way than they treat their own kids. To me, that sounds outrageous. And that is very common in our society.

Mummies

Missing mummies: Hundreds of ancient Egyptian animals remains prove to be empty inside.

The title of the article is self explanatory. I thought this article was interesting because usually mummies have remains inside of it. It was a bit baffling to hear this news. I was curious as to why people back then wanted to mummify animals such as the monkey in the photo. I do not believe they were domesticated when people were mummifying one another. Because there are no remains, this mummification seem like it was for spiritual reasons. To symbolize help or companionship in the afterlife.

Reflections

This article was interesting to me because the animals reacted the way I thought they would. It is a bit  funny. The monkeys were most curious and cautious, so they stayed in close proximity observing. Most of the other animals attacked their reflection. Do you think they would learn after a few tries that they are hitting a hard surface? Reflects badly! The wild animals spooked by seeing themselves in a mirror

Bird diseases

At first, I thought that bird diseases are more of a problem for humans, but it can go either way. For humans, if birds get diseases, the price of chicken, eggs, turkey, etc.. increases. I didn't really think about it that way. It is a problem for animals because they are suffering and dying...  and all this time, I was getting worried about catching the disease.

Saving animals over humans

This topic was mentioned at section and I found it to be very interesting.
Animals or Humans?
In the article, the author talks about how humans would be willing to save animals, especially pets, over other humans. There are plenty of examples that the editor includes to make it seem like an important problem. I think this is getting more relevant today because I can totally imagine going out in public and seeing an animal get more attention than another person. The author also mentions how humans don't care about every single animal and only the ones that we think are important, or the ones we love. I can see this being related back to humans' interaction with other humans.

Oregon Wildlife 'adoption'

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/31/oregon-lost-bear-cub_n_7481340.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green

An interesting article to consider. Humans tend to not realize how large an impact we make

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A deer's retribution?

Whenever I read an article about deers or just look at them, I get the image of a driver running over a deer. I wonder why it's so common for deers to be hit by cars? I've never experienced this in real life because I never traveled to the east coast, so I wouldn't know.

Car vs Deer
This interesting article informs that a deer and a police trooper died from an accident but may have been avoided. In the deer's perspective, the human ruthlessly murdered the deer while the deer was unaware. In the possible human's perspective, the deer jumped out of nowhere and didn't care to die? Either way, both died and by thinking about this as a deer's retribution, I mockingly laughed.