Friday, June 5, 2015


The limit to anthropomorphism confuses me. This class has taught us that we shouldn't assume animals think and behave in the same way humans do. However, in readings such as the one about elephants, we are shown that animals are able to get PTSD and the reading on animal empathy and experimentation tells us that animals can get learned helplessness and depression. These diseases are generally considered human, even if it's only because humans are the ones who found them and labelled them, so isn't saying that animals get them too anthropomorphic? Many arguments are made that animals shouldn't be tested on or abused because they have feelings too, which I completely agree with, but I also think that applying feelings to animals is a form of anthropomorphism because it is applying something that happens to humans to animals. Although I get that not everything that humans and animals have in common were human traits first, I think anthropomorphism can be used in a positive way to help us understand animals based on what we know.

So Long & Thanks For All The Fish

A few nights ago I was watch The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with some friends and the clip above is the opening scene of the movie. Although this song and opening monologue are meant to be satirical, it brought up a lot of ideas that we discussed in section regarding "intelligence", communication, and overall human and nonhuman animal interactions. The opening monologue states that humans were the third most intelligent species on the planet (even though they thought they were the most intelligent) behind dolphins who were the second most intelligent. This was an interesting concept because it was the first time I thought about how this movie was referring to intelligence in terms of  "human intelligence" and yet they were still classifying dolphins as more intelligent. Then the question of what if something like this were to actually happen popped into my head. Scientifically speaking dolphins do use more of their brains than humans do, so what if dolphins (or any other animals) knew of an impending catastrophe due to their intelligence or deeper connection with the world around us and tried to warn us but could not because of human ignorance and communication barriers that humans also neglect. This was such a new outlook on this scene that I am very happy this course enabled me to have.

Mice were #1 on the list because they're inter-dimensional scientists.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Luxury Eating?

Recently, I was watching a food program on the Travel channel. The show featured Anthony Bourdain, who is well known for going to different countries to display the culture and the food. I found it interesting that he said that begin vegan was a first world luxury, excluding those who followed religious practices of being vegan.
As I thought more about it, the more it made sense. It can be very difficult in poverty stricken countries to follow vegan practices as it can be expensive to buy meat and other food products. It can sometimes be required that you have to raise your own animals to provide meat and milk, and grow your own vegetables. My parents grew up very poor in Mexico and ate what they were able to grow on their ranch. My mom always said they were lucky to at least have cows to drink milk. 
It's interesting how much the perspective changes from country to country. 
People fight for the rights of animals, but sometimes eating/drinking something from them can be a means to survival. I can't even imagine a perfect world where people existed without harming animals and surviving mainly off foods grown from the Earth. It sounds impractical. The only way I could see this happening would be if we shared the wealth and technological advances (farming) with the rest of the world, but we would also have to stop prejudice and war to be able to share. 
How do you imagine the perfect world between humans and animals? Some people say that eating meat is a luxury, do you believe that or that vegan/healthy is a luxury? 

Aunts Who Work With Animals/Meat

When I went home for Memorial Day weekend, a lot of my aunts were visiting from out of town. I recalled at a family gathering that two of my aunt's happen to work in the meat packing industry, and are in close proximity of the animals that are killed to eventually become the meat we eat. I decided to ask them about it and their thoughts on the entire ordeal. One of them chops off the feet of the chicken, while the other watches the pigs. They both work in different states.
I shared with them what I've learned since being in this class, and how over time the human views of animals have changed greatly. However, the response I received was not what I expected. My aunts didn't seem bothered by the animals at all.
It was interesting how little emotion was put into their work. I had to remember that my aunts chose to have these jobs because of the hours and the benefits. Also, that my family comes from another country where it was rare to eat meat, and when you did, it was a big (usually happy) deal.
We are always blaming the people that work in these industries, but in reality we don't know their backgrounds. I wonder how much the perspective changes whether you were born here or in another country, or if your not necessarily from a stable economic background.

In preparation for my favorite TV show..

One of my favorite television shows, Hannibal, starts a new season tonight. I've been waiting excitedly for it ever since the second season ended last year, and in preparation for it, I started to reminisce on all of past events in the show. It's about a criminal profiler named Will Graham who is both gifted and burdened with the ability to empathize to an extreme extent with killers he is trying to catch. In the process of tracking down one killer, he meets psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, who himself is a brilliant and elusive serial killer and who has a tendency to eat his victims. The show is full of lots of animal imagery, from using stags to shrikes to dogs to convey its heavy symbolism.
In my reminiscing, I was reminded of the repeated use of representing Hannibal as a Wendigo. A Wendigo is a half-man, half-beast creature of legend that is known for its insatiable appetite for human flesh. In Algonquian legend, the Wendigo was once a man who commited some sin (usually cannibalism) and was therefore punished for it by becoming a monster. They are almost like werewolves in that they have no control over being changed into a beast (in most legends).
This made me wonder on the representation of these half-man, half-beast creatures in our culture. The most famous would of course be werewolves, but why do we have such a fascination with such beings? Does it say something about ourselves and our society, that we find being transformed into (what many would consider) a monster so intriguing?
I'm not so sure, but for now I'll sit back and enjoy as the image of a Wendigo version of Hannibal Lecter haunts the screen.

(Non-Human) Animal Awareness

Ever since we talked about Elizabeth Costello I could not take my mind off of the idea of how we humans lack sympathy towards animals. I’ll admit, when I took the Elizabeth Costello challenge, I forgot within two days that I was supposed to be thinking about Elizabeth Costello’s ideas. After the we talked about the challenge, I could not stop thinking about her ideas. Last Wednesday I went to the Southern California for my sister’s high school graduation. Since it’s late May, most of my old high school friends are coming back from their respective universities and came back home for the summer. I took this opportunity to have a discussion about various topics with my friends. Eventually, we talked about the music industry and how people will do anything in their power to gain what they want. I told my friends about Elizabeth Costello and how she felt unsafe in a world where people will kill and eat (non-human) animals, creatures with feelings and emotions, without any remorse. My friends are very open to discussion and they had comments like “wow, I’ve never thought about that” or “that is so true”. Before I knew it, my friends were talking about how they felt a little unsafe now, because only one can imagine what humans will do in order to gain what they want without taking into account that most things that are living have a consciousness. This class has opened my eyes to different perspective that I would never imagine thinking about, and that’s the best thing I’ve gotten from this course. I am now aware of these issues revolving (non-human) animals and I feel like the best thing I have taken from this course is that people need to be aware of the things that happen to animals.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I recently watched Boxtrolls and it reminded me a lot of this class.  It uses the idea of human hierarchy to communicate to viewers how humans can mistreat and other beings they do not understand.  Boxtrolls in this movie are comparable to animals.  Humans mistreat the trolls by forcing them to work in a factory.  They are manipulated for personal gain just as humans use animals.  This movie was an effective way to communicate an imbalance in the relationship between humans and creatures.  It was also super fun and entertaining(: