I wanted to share this reasoned evaluation with my readers. A very worthwhile read. Thank you, Spencer Lo.

Animal Blawg

Spencer Lo

 There is no question that, in the ordinary sense of the word, a great many non-human animals are slaves, forced to exist in extremely deleterious conditions to fulfill the wishes of their human masters. Most are untroubled by this fact—slavery over animals has been widely accepted in society for a very long time. Last October, in an effort to reverse this norm, PETA made a radical (some say outrageous) move. They filed a lawsuit against SeaWorld on behalf of five orcas, creatures who have been forced to live in highly confined, unnatural environments, to their detriment, all for the purpose of performing cheap tricks. Their decades-long captivity, according to PETA, violates the constitutional prohibition against slavery (aka the Thirteenth Amendment).

While it may be common sense that the orcas are slaves, from a legal standpoint, PETA is asserting a very radical claim. Is it

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Okay, okay. Uncle! Uncle, already.

Okay – Uncle!  Uncle!  There is a god.  There.  I’ve said it.

If you like either Eddie Vedder or Johnny Depp, you’ll understand.  If you like them both (which of course you do), take a valium before watching.  Or at least don’t take a sudafed.

I mean, Johnny Depp playing lead guitar to Eddie’s rhythm.

Yes, yes, yes.  There is a god.  :  )

You could have pointed this out at any time.  I would have gotten it.

I’m going over to .org

OMG.  I’m preparing for Day Two of Wordcamp Atlanta 2012 (#WCATL).  I’m there with my friend @3pupsinapopup.  Thank God.  Funny how you don’t feel as lost when you share that experience with somebody.  As lost.

Cove Blue for Jiyu dolphin blog

Cove Blue for Jiyu: In the end, it's about respect. This is how she looks now at .com.

We’re both poised on the precipice of leaving .com and going over to, gulp, .org.  I know, I know.  I shouldn’t make it sound like a scary thing.  If you’ve told me once, you’ve told me a thousand times, it’s easy!

But when you talk about widgets, and plug-ins, and things that aren’t widgets or plug-ins but they’re something else, god knows what; well, let’s just say that I’m feeling a little uneasy about it all.  As if I will never know what you guys who know .org know – the plug-in talk was outstanding by the way.  Don’t you just get a trillion trillion trillion calls?

I do take some pride at being further along than those who still don’t know the difference between a category and a page.

Anyway.  I’m scared.  But excited.  So that I can select the right plug-ins and put them in the right widgets to create and optimally deliver to you what I would consider to be pretty close to the mark (Miss High Standards, to you) what I want to say and how I want to get it across to you.

I just backed up and extracted my file.  For the first time.  I’ll have to do it again in about five minutes to catch this post.  For the migration.  Cool.

I wonder if @3pupsinapopup has done this.

More dolphin education from the Georgia Aquarium. Not. Unless dolphins picking the Super Bowl winner is educational.

Before we get to the dolphin education brought to you by CNN and the Georgia Aquarium, and to a lesser extent the Super Bowl, I’d like you to meet the two dolphins now housed at the Georgia Aquarium, reported by CNN to be Shaka and Lily, who are the subjects of today’s post.

Shaka Wild Caught dolphin from Georgia Aquarium

Shaka, a wild-caught dolphin, caught in 1988, estimated birthdate in 1985, Georgia Aquarium. Photo from Ceta-base's Phinventory

Shaka:  Shaka was wild-caught.  I’m not very good at dolphin research yet, so I can’t tell you precisely where Shaka was taken, or how many dolphins from her pod were taken from the ocean on that memorable day.  But thanks to Ceta-base (because the government doesn’t do a very good job of tracking the dolphins in captivity), we know that she was captured on May 27, 1988, and arrived at Dolphin Quest Bermuda on August 20, 1988.  Estimated to have been born in 1985, Shaka has been used to breed dolphins for the captive industry.  She has lost at least two calves in this effort to supply more captive dolphins, one in 1996 and one in 1997.  Dolphins generally breed only every five years, maybe a bit less, because in the wild, the calves stay with their mother continuing to learn how to be a dolphin.  So Shaka was busy.

Lily Georgia Aquarium bottlenose dolphin

Lily, also at the Georgia Aquarium, born April 9, 2004. Photo from Ceta-base's Phinventory

Lily.  Lily, on the other hand, was bred in captivity.  She has never lived in the ocean.  Born to Cirrus (Circe) with sperm from Khyber (Keebler) on April 4, 2004, she now lives at the Georgia Aquarium.

I’m at a bit of a loss to  know what to say next about Shaka and Lily, because I’ve seen the latest installment in what sort of “education” about dolphins the Georgia Aquarium provides that justifies keeping these sentient creatures in a tank, and am left speechless, almost.  When I watched the following video, the universe supplied me with words like imbecilic and disrespectful.  The word “education” was not found in the parade of words that floated past.

But lest you worry that the video will be shocking, let me assure you, this is just a moronic display of disrespect of the dolphins to sell news over at CNN and get more people to watch the Super Bowl (as if) and come to the Georgia Aquarium.  Same old story.

So to the morons and imbeciles, I humbly apologize.  I know, I know, labels only label me, not you.  Whatever.  Just watch this educational spot and see if you don’t agree that, even if you can’t put your finger on precisely what is wrong with this picture, you know that it is wrong.

<object width=”416″ height=”374″ classid=”clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″ id=”ep”><param name=”allowfullscreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><param name=”wmode” value=”transparent” /><param name=”movie” value=”http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=sports/2012/01/31/mxp-dolphin-super-bowl-picks.hln&#8221; /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#000000″ /></object>

Seeing how these creatures are being used, please do not go to the dolphin show.  Not here.  Not there.  Not anywhere.  And to add your voice to those who have put their finger on the wrongness, take the pledge with Save Japan Dolphins not to go to a dolphin show.  Share it with your friends.

If you take the pledge, I thank you.  And I bet, Shaka and Lily thank you.

If you’d like to let CNN know that this spot makes it clear that two of the four mammals in it appear to be clueless about how off the mark they were on selecting this spot, you can contact them at 404.827.1500.  I wonder who thought this one up?  CNN? Or the Georgia Aquarium?

For more information, you might want to watch a trailer to The Cove.

The irony of entertainment bedfellows

Jut a few words, as I swallow just a bit of vomit in my mouth.

“Why did you vomit, Mo?” I can hear you thinking inquisitively.  Well, this morning it came to my attention that the World’s Largest Aquarium is screening a movie.

“Why would that make you vomit!!?” you’re continuing to turn over in your laudably open mind.

Well, it’s the comingling of mutually contradictory facts, also known as irony.  Sometimes irony is amusing.  But sometimes it makes you vomit.  Today was a vomit kind of irony.  The facts in today’s not so pleasant irony?

  • Fact 1:  The Georgia Aquarium is the World’s Largest Aquarium.  It sought and gained that status as a result of having built dolphin tanks – as little as 8 feet deep for a creature that in the wild dives hundreds of feet on a regular basis – and brought dolphins in from where they had been captive bred, well, except for the one dolphin that was caught in the wild.

Now, that’s a video you should watch – of dolphins being wrested from the ocean, trapped in nets, crying, trying not to drown, separated from their family.  Sometimes getting free, but because it refuses to leave its family, is recaptured.

It’s also the World’s Largest Aquarium because of having to build a large tank in order to house one of its other attractions, the world’s largest fish, the whale shark, which were, not so incidentally, or coincidentally, caught in the wild.

  • Fact 2:  The World’s Largest Aquarium (built so that it can house lots and lots and lots of animals that should be swimming free in the wild) is screening a movie.  I know you’re still not getting why that would make me vomit.  Well, the movie is a fictionalized account of an effort in the 1980s by a Greenpeace staffer of rescuing some free and wild grey whales that were trapped in the ice off the coast of Alaska.

Oops.  Vomited again.

They’ve included the price of the ticket to the movie – the one about saving the wild humpback whales so they would continue to live free lives – in with the price of seeing dolphins, beluga whales and whale sharks (and the list goes on) that will live in captivity until they die a likely premature death.

Here’s that video that I said you might want to watch:

Urp.

But it isn’t the irony that gets me; it’s the hypocrisy.

The big miracle is that I didn’t blow chunks.

So, go see the movie if you want.  But see it without the hypocrisy.  See it at a theater where they don’t at the same time that you’re saying “free the whales” make their living dependent on your thinking that captivity is okay.

An epidemic that could be ended

There is an epidemic on this planet.  Even though we are aware of it.  Even though we could stop it from spreading.  Even though we could cut out the delusional and disingenuous cancer that it is.  Even though we could educate people to its true nature.

Why aren’t we stopping it?  Why are we not curing ourselves of something that is infinitely curable?

Ask The Georgia Aquarium.  Ask SeaWorld.  Ask the Miami Seaquarium.  Ask the Shedd Aquarium.

Ask the Indianapolis Zoo.  Ask Dolphin Quest.  Ask The Mirage.  Ask Dolphin Cove.  Ask Theater of the Sea.  Ask the National Aquarium.  Ask Dolphins Plus.

Ask Florida’s Gulfarium.  Ask to see their living versus their deceased dolphins list.

So, why aren’t we ending this epidemic?  This epidemic of dolphin and whale captivity?

Ask to see their door receipts.

If you watched the video, you know that’s a lot of door receipts.  A lot of hot dogs.  A lot of cola.  A lot of really bad reasons not to end dolphin and whale captivity.

Thanks to TheComanchewolf for the video on Youtube.

Join in finding freedom from captivity – A New Show

Ric O'Barry

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.

Photo of Jiyu by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins

Namaste.

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. http://www.savejapandolphins.org

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 fora.tv (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.