Sunday, May 31, 2015

Luiz Antonio Why He Doesn't Want to Eat Octopus

Has anyone seen this video? Its super cute. I love seeing the genuine hearts of such innocent minds. It seems his intelligence is far beyond most children his age and he's even making many adults question their eating habits. Hope to see more kids spread positivity about vegetarianism!


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Does It Go Both Ways?

Humans often call animals brutes and many other demeaning names because we think we are smarter and better than them. Something I often wonder is if all these animals who we think are not as "intelligent" as us see us the same way. Does a bird think we are idiots for not being able to fly? Does a dog think we're freaks for walking on two legs all the time? Just how Montaigne said, "When I am playing with my cat, who knows whether she have more sport in dallying with me than I have in gaming with her?"

Thursday, May 28, 2015

As I science major, I have seen this image in some of classes about ethics and science. I never really thought about it much. I would just think "oh she's a cute child" and " yuck, a rodent". Of course we would all rather want to see the child live, and placing a picture of a child next to a picture of a "pest" makes us feel less guilty about animal testing. However, what if the picture of the rat was replaced by a picture of a cute baby monkey? Would that change the message the image is trying to convey?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I love watching people's dogs when they need me to. A lot of my friends and family know I'm always willing to help them out with their pets if they need me. This past weekend I took a trip to the Dog Beach in Santa Cruz because I was watching my boss' dog Cal. She went away for the weekend and asked me to 'dog sit.' I usually never question the notion of dog sitting but when I read James A. Serpell's "Anthropomorphism and Anthropomorphism Selection" I wanted to examine this concept. He talked about the relationship between pet keeping and anthropomorphism. Is dog sitting the perfect example of anthropomorphism? In what ways? Dog sitting is like baby sitting. You have to make sure the creature you are taking care of is fed, bathed, well rested, and entertained. Taking a baby out for a walk in their stroller is similar to taking a dog on a walk with their leash strapped on. I wanted to ask how you guys felt about the concept of dog sitting. Do you think dogs or any pets need to be with a human companion at all times to gain the basic necessities? Even for one night? Or do you feel as if they can fend on their own?  Is dog sitting a domesticated process in its self?

Cricket Consciousness

The other day I was trying to feed my gecko when I ran into some problems. Normally it's super easy, I keep the crickets in a cricket pen and the pen has these black tubes that the crickets naturally want to go into. I usually just take the black tube out knock it against the wall of the terrarium and they fall out... boom gecko fed. But the other day none of the crickets were in the pen so I was decided I'd have to get some crickets out with my hands... They were all super scared, naturally, and then i noticed this one little cricket that was missing a leg frantically limp running away looking super helpless. Then one of the larger crickets in the pen got on top of the handicapped cricket and was protecting him! It made me think about when we discussed consciousness earlier in the quarter and made me really believe that all animals including insects want to live just as much as we do.


Todays section H, when going over Grandin's articles, it seems like people get over-optimistic, especially when criticizing Grandin and her work.  While everyone will have differing opinions on the slaughter house industry, Grandin is working with what she is given.  It is frequently true that not one person can change an entire industry, as we have seen repeatedly throughout history, but we can't discount efforts to improve current conditions.
I heard criticisms of Grandin's work, which is trying to improve the last moments of a cows life before slaughter.  I don't think it's realistic to criticize Grandin because she contributes to the slaughter of animals or the like, because without her work the entire industry would be worse for cows.  While we can continue to strive for the reduction of the slaughter industry, or any other industry with major moral problems, we can't be so idealistic to only care about the abolition of the entire industry.  It takes gradual steps to improve overall conditions, many steps of which Grandin has taken.  We probably won't see the abolition of the slaughter industry in our lifetime.  Or maybe even our children's lifetime.  But we can take steps to improve it, and that should be our goal.


An Interesting article on "understanding" animals

This particular article caught my attention because it goes into somewhat scientific details on examining chimpanzees. It also somewhat anthropomorphizes the chimpanzees in assuming that the researchers know what they are thinking, and why they are doing what they do. However, the assessments are very detailed and strive to examine what the chimpanzee may really truly be feeling or thinking.

Monday, May 25, 2015

"Ancient Wolf DNA Could Solve Dog Origin Mystery"

This article reminded me of the short story we read a while back, "The Dog and the Wolf". the story has the dog and wolf act like family, "cousins" to be more specific. and this article goes deeper into the history of the relationship between these two creatures.

The Post Human that Therefore I am (My Story)

I woke up and the room was dark. I got up and decided that I was hungry so I had to go find food. as I left the confinements in which I awoke to, I went off on  my search for something to eat. I stumbled upon a place where humans come out with food, I assumed it was food since they were eating it. I entered and then someone asked me for an "ID" the only thing I had on me was a little, square, flat object so I gave them that. They let me through and I saw different types of food. I went to get a "bowl" as the others were calling it and served these little colorful rings that i was suppose to add milk to. It was simple but also satisfying. ( I went to go eat cereal)

The Elizabeth Costello Challenge (My Experience)

It was just an hour or so after section, when i decided to go eat lunch at the dining hall. the plate i decided on was a piece of steak with some broccoli and rice on the side. I was happily eating the vegetable when i decided to cut a piece of the meat on my plate, and as I am carving, it suddenly hits me that what I'm was once alive! it was a living creature the same as me and what I am stabbing with my fork is in fact dead animal flesh, the same substance that I am made of. then I started imagining that i t is my flesh on the plate and after that I lost my appetite as i got a sense of cannibalism and for the next two weeks, I could't go near stations that held the same flesh that I wear everyday, let alone seeing it on plates ready to serve. I felt sick.


Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Snoopy the Dog.... Have you ever wondered why people create cartoon characters of humanized animals. I mean, they walk on two legs, they wear clothes, and they even speak the human language. If these characters act "human", then why don't animators simply make them humans? This only shows that people can only relate with animals based on cartoons they see. they also ruin the actual image of the animal. Mickey Mouse for an example is a character loved world wide by all ages, he is a mouse. A mouse is an animal that most humans try to stay away from and yet Mickey gathers fans from all around, different from an actual mouse. How is it that people love this mouse, but not the actual creature he is based on?

Animals and Language

Do animals have a language? Many humans wonder and ponder over this question for many years. Humans question animals, simply because most wild life do not "speak" or "understand" the human language. There are people who believe animals don't have voices, period. But doesn't the cow say "moo"? or the cat say "meow"? If animals don't have voices, then how can people categorize the sounds that non humans make and what humans don't understand. Just because they tend to make a specific sound, does that mean they have no language? Humans say animals don't understand humans, but that is quite questionable.
When you are pain, you whimper, yelp or even cry. so do animals, they use the same language we do when we are suffering. Yet animals are ignored simply because they don't specifically yell out an "ouch!"

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Increasing Animal Rights Awareness

Animal rights awareness has been increasing in America. With the help of film and news stories, it seems that more Americans have been listening as statistics have been increasing in favor of the animal rights movement. If more celebrities and social media would go on board, as this seems to be the most effective way in our current era, then we will be a step closer to helping solve this issue.

D.H. Lawrence and the Courage To Be a Creature

Letter from D.H. Lawrence to Bertrand Russell, 1916

This letter is so much fun! D.H Lawrence tells (philosopher and mathematician) Bertrand Russell to come live near him, "but not if you are going to be a thinker and a worker, only if you are going to be a creature, an infant …"

He ends his letter with his love and the following pronouncement:

"Stop working and being an ego, & have the courage to be a creature."

Some questions you might consider:

Is this a post humanist perspective? How so?

How do you think this letter aligns with Elizabeth Costello's (and/or Coetzee's) discussion about the difference between philosophical and poetic discourse on the subject of other animals?

Does anything Lawrence says in this letter give you new insight into "The Snake" or "Man and Bat"?

the post human that therefore i am

Narrate a story (make one up or take an anecdote from your daily life) where you perform a human/animal reversal or human/animal blurring, similar to the ones we've been reading this week. Estrange yourself from your own subject position by trying to narrate your behavior from the perspective of a nonhuman being with whom you might interact.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Speaking Elephants

"How To Speak Elephant"

This article reminds me of the questions Theo posed in a post from a few weeks ago. She wondered if it would be an anthropomorphic gesture to think that a whale who had just been released from ensnarement in a net might have been thanking human rescuers when he or she gently nudged each one on the chest before swimming away.

Legalized Sentience for all New Zealand Animals

"Animals are now legally recognised as 'sentient' beings in New Zealand"

The legal status of nonhuman animals living in New Zealand has been changed to "sentient" beings.  In the U.S., as we've discussed, nonhuman animals have the legal status of "things"––which may be changing soon for two chimpanzees (NY Hearing on May 27th).

I'm hoping there will be a mass nonhuman animal exodus to NZ very soon. Have a look at this short article to read what the change in legal status will mean for nonhuman animals.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Elizabeth Costello Challenge

At the end of our section discussions today, I suggested that we take what I want to call "The Elizabeth Costello Challenge." Let's try seeing how much we can alienate our families and peers by…no no no that's not it. I want to read Costello's appeal to the limitless potential of the sympathetic imagination as a challenge to our everyday thinking and living. A challenge is both an invitation to take part in a contest of sorts and also an investigation into the veracity of a proposition, with an emphasis on proof. 

What happens if for one week we test out the proposition that "there is no limit to the extent to which we can think ourselves into the being of another"? What if we go one step further and take as our guiding hypothesis for the week that "There are no bounds to the sympathetic imagination" (Coetzee 35)? Like Coetzee and his character Elizabeth Costello, I'm not making any programmatic prescriptions or proscriptions, dietary or otherwise––though if we take Costello seriously then eating other animals who are quietly and constantly tortured in production facilities, fattening feedlots, and abattoirs across the country becomes a criminal act (as does our tacit daily acceptance that these prison and death farms operate at all). Coetzee makes sure to tell us though that Costello herself wears leather. Costello divulges the suffering provenance of her shoes and purse to one of the professors at the dinner, seemingly rejecting his attempt to praise the purity of her moral convictions.  What's important here, I think, is that we are all complicit––and that a "pure" position (whatever that would be) is likely impossible––and at least in this text quite beside the point. 

As often as you can remember––and keep reminding yourself––whatever you're doing and whomever you are doing it with, challenge your sympathetic imagination to think yourself into the beings around you, specifically into the lives of nonhuman animals. Please post reflections of your experiences as the week goes by, including further discussion of Coetzee's text or any of the responses, a revelation, an anecdote, a question, a difficulty, a conversation with friends, descriptions of people around you, research or links about production facilities and the lives of others animals––whatever you do, eat or don't eat, generally just narrate what happens as you take the Elizabeth Costello Challenge. You might even for a day play at being Elizabeth Costello, wear that mask, think yourself into that character. There are no right answers or posts here––a day in your sympathetic imagination will be different from a day in mine––and that's, I hope, what will make this interactive, worthwhile, and fun.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Black Beauty Rewrite (5/6/15)

Black Beauty p. 27

"He stood by, patting and stroking me whilst I was eating, and seeing the clots of blood on my side he seemed vexed by the way he was shaking his head. He growled out something about a vicious brute. Then he led me into my box, took off the saddle and briddle with his own hands and tied me up; then a pail of warm water appeared after the command of the old master's voice."

In this passage, Ginger tells Black Beauty about her experience with Samson and about the time he had overworked her. Luckily, her old master came to the rescue when he finds her under an oak tree and takes her back to the stable.

To make the passage less of a human perspective, Theo, Glen, and I removed all of the dialogue and focused more on the visuals Ginger would've seen or felt. For example, the old master's hand gestures and touch could express how he felt towards her. And the tone of his voice would also give away the emotion he felt.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Last quarter I took a class in which I learned about many ancient eastern civilizations around Europe and Asia. One particular civilization I was drawn to throughout the course was the Minoan civilization. The Minoan people lived on the island of Crete in around 3700 BCE. They were a very peaceful people with a culture rooted in ritual and worship. However they did not worship mythological entities, rather they had a sort of religious relationship with the earth and nature: trees, boulders, animals, grains. Something I found particularly interesting is that  while their rituals often revolved around plants and animals, their most important and prominent ritual did not involve animal sacrifice, as has been historically customary in many ancient cultures; instead, it involved animal praise through a mutual human-animal interaction. The Minoans has a very special relationship with bulls. They revered them and respected their power and strength. They never killed or hunted them for food, as they were sacred to the culture. They constructed a palace centered around a large plaza solely for the bull ritual, adorned with paintings of bulls. During the ritual, many would gather to watch a performer dance with a bull. In this act of worship, the partaker would perform acrobatic moves, balancing on the bull's horns and leaping over under and around it. This Minoans praised the bulls because they respected their power courage and valiance and strove to emulate these qualities as a society. I think this is a very special relationship in that these people sought harmony with the rest of nature rather than creating distance from it, and they praised it for all it provided them with. To my knowledge (correct me if I'm wrong) western culture, today and historically, does not seem to have any human-animal relationships/ traditions of this nature. It may be interesting to ponder why that is, and why western societies seem to have created a distance between themselves and the rest of nature.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hello! So for anyone who saw that psychedelic Dumbo (1941) scene in class today, and wanted to see more I have just the video for you! After watching it I remembered in a Winnie the Pooh episode from 1968 (I have attached the video). In the scene Pooh had a nightmare about heffalumps and woozles, which resemble elephants and weasels. The likeness of elephants in the two cartoons is striking. Not simply because of the similarity in the way the cartoons are drawn, the two films did come from the same studio, but in animator’s treatment of the elephant figures. Particularly interesting was the way in both films elephant figures morph: their trunks turning into musical instruments, evolving into non-elephant shapes and back, etc. There are times when these images seem frightening (a neon yellow elephant with cutout-eyes that continue into the empty black background) and others where the elephants look like harmless, stuffed animals (a pink elephant with pearls, playing a harp made from her trunk and honey). Another similarity is that characters of each film experience these musical visions when in dream-like states. From this I have few questions: Why elephants (in Dumbo I realize that the protagonist is an elephant, but why an elephant in Winnie the Pooh?)? Are the animators delivering a message on how we should consider elephants, as either scary and mystical, or harmless objects? Why was the “Pink Elephants on Parade” scene mimicked in the Winnie the Pooh episode? Are the scenes nightmares for the protagonists? And if so is it a way for young children to identify with the cartoon characters' experiences? Was it just a successful scene, or is there something more to it? Not too sure, either way the cartoons are cool to watch! 
Black Beauty discussion:

My group discussed the passage when Captain loses his "master" in the war.  This was my groups interpretation of the passage for the in section activity.

"I found myself surrounded by many men, many houses, and loud noises.  Suddenly, my master fell from on top of me.  I was full with fear.  So many things were going on around me.  I was full with fear because I had no idea what was going on.  I had no direction and this was not the place to just sit here in place.  Horses and their masters were screaming and yelling to the left and right of me.  Suddenly, I had men begin to hit me with these sharp and piercing objects and my companion horse that stood next to me had dropped to the ground.   His rider then with no hesitation hopped on my back and suddenly, I was galloping again.  Instantly after, other horses and their masters were running towards me with no fear.  I found it hard to keep focus.  Where was my master?"

In Regards to Captain

As we examined Black Beauty today, we spent a little time discussing horses as a key component of human history, both as subjects and creators. In particular, horses in battle represent a the very intersection of the two. In such events, horses in combat are subject to being utility for human benefit but they also contribute to the successes of human battles and as a result, human history. I must also suggest that, if you are interested, War Horse is a wonderful film that captures both the human perspective of combat with horses and also the journey and feeling of the horse through war. Although certainly a war film, it does great justice to the horse's experience in war and even brings sympathy from the viewer about the animal treatment in war time.

The movie is an adaptation of a book called War Horse by Michael Morpugo and is directed by Steven Spielberg.
In today's section at the end of class we discussed Bentham and Spigels writings. I found it very interesting to see their points of view and more specifically Spigels writing. I really like the way she brought in the texts and how the text from Virgina:
"I am sure they could never become happier
people than I find here...No tribe of people
has ever passed from barbarism to
civilization whose progress has been
more secure from harm, more genial
to their character, or better supplied with
mild and beneficent guardianship, adapted to 
the actual state of their intellectual feebleness,
than the Negros of Swallow Barn. And from what
I can gather, it is pretty much the same on the
other estates in this region"
I would like to see either your opinion, or maybe, why you see people justifying slavery as a benefit. I think the only reason people justify it is, in a similar way that Samantha said, is that we don't want to be apart of it and simply turn a blind eye to it. What are your thoughts?
This was our in-class activity regarding to different passages in black beauty. This specific passage was the very last page on chapter 26, where Black Beauty is narrating after his fall from the pain of having to gallop through the stone ridden earthen floor. This is my interpretation of the excerpt without Black Beauty`s compassionate thoughts towards the injured, human rider.

Black Beauty:
 "Pain. Such horrible pain. The searing, the burning, it is too great.
I am trying to hold on, I am trying, I AM TRYING! I cant!
I hit the floor upon my knees, distracting me from the unbearable pain of the hooves atop the rough stone.
In quick fashion, I limp to the stone free road.
I stand their, with a slight wilt in stance, suffering in my silent pain, as horses do.
I stood listening to the night, its calm and silence reminding me of a time before pain, before bad people.
I looked up at the clear night sky, pondering the nights like these I spent with my mother, in the green breezy meadow."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Can Animals Commit Murder?

Recently, I had a dream that involved a murder scene where the suspects in question were my younger sister and a medium sized yellow dog. In the dream, the concern was whether or not the police could believe that a dog could have committed murder and seemed certain that it was my sister who had murdered the man because of their inability to see the dog as having the intelligence or capability of killing a human being. This dream confused me greatly but also reminded me of the article we read in week 4, Holsinger's "Of Pigs and Parchment." This article was the one discussing a time when animals were put on trial and executed for crimes they committed against the people and it brings up the issue of whether or not animals should be given the rights that would allow them to also have to pay for crimes that they may commit. In my dream this was debated thoroughly as the decision was placed on if the dog was to be placed under the same expectations of humans to commit murder and pay for the crime. Should animals have the same rights as humans and if so, should they have to also pay for crimes that they commit? Do animals have the capacity to understand laws like murder?

Human + "Obligations" = Machine

I have been thinking a lot about Descartes viewing animals as machines and the more I think about it the more implausible it seems. If animals are seen as machine, then what are we? I feel that people act much more like machines than any animal does. We are very much driven by time and routine. We leave the house at the same time everyday to get to class or work. We do things step by step in our everyday life. Shampoo goes before conditioner, etc. I started working at a restaurant and that is also very formulaic. Once you ask the customer the same set of questions, walk them to the table, put the menus down, and go grab them water and tell them "a server will be right with you". Animals on the other hand are on no set schedule. They don't check the time every few minutes to make sure their day is on track and they are not going to be late for the next place they have to be, they just do.