Here’s a family of bears that decided to join in the fun at Lake Tahoe a few days ago:
Here’s a family of bears that decided to join in the fun at Lake Tahoe a few days ago:
I dunno what is going on lately, but I am in a struggle with Steve to retain my status as alpha male of the house, and Thurston is taking advantage of the leadership void. I stood there for thirty seconds saying get out of my chair at louder increments until I went and got my camera, took this picture, yelled at them to get up, and all I got was a look from Thurston before putting his head back down and going back to sleep. I had to dump them to get my chair back.
I had a prolonged argument with Steve earlier, too. I was washing dishes and heard him meowing at the front door, and I went and let him in and he immediately started bitching for dinner. I told him it was his fault he missed breakfast because he was outside the perimeter wilding, and he was having none of it bitching louder and louder until I finally yelled “Fuck you, you’ll eat when I’m done” at my cat. He huffed off out the dog door giving me the stink eye.
I’m losing control and I’m scared.
*** Update ***
Great, he knows I have been talking about him online.
Commentor Linnaeus linked this clip on Adam’s late-night bearcam post last night. Since I live in scenic New England, I could almost see a thought balloon over that bear’s head: “Dammit, there’s always a line during tourist season… “
And then I had to go look for this:
An hairpiece-free excursion (by request!) to bring howls of joy to your day:
And, (apologizing for the nod to the orange one from whom we so need respite) a reminder of the wellsprings of political philosophy that animate our “friends” across the aisle, not just the nominee, but his entire foreclosed on, possession taken, bust-out-begun party.
I know what’s happening when Donald Trump is one tight election away from Götterdämmerung ain’t even remotely funny. But Messrs. Python are, and sometimes we all can use a break.
I thought we were at the end of all the dreadfulness for one week, but apparently not. For a change of pace, perhaps this news from New Zealand—lovely home of hobbits and Na’vi, not to mention the Notorious RBG’s chosen anti-Trumpian refuge—will interest and delight:
A former national park has been granted personhood, and a river system is expected to receive the same soon. The unusual designations, something like the legal status that corporations possess, came out of agreements between New Zealand’s government and Maori groups. The two sides have argued for years over guardianship of the country’s natural features….
The park is Te Urewera, and the river, Whanganui (NZ’s third largest). The proximate goal is, “that lawsuits to protect the land can be brought on behalf of the land itself, with no need to show harm to a particular human.” More broadly, the hope is that the legal concepts of nonhuman rights and personhood will be strong tools in the fights against climate change, mass extinction, and other forms of ecocide.
The idea that ecological features merit consideration in the legal and social sphere is both cutting-edge and incredibly ancient:
The unusual designations, something like the legal status that corporations possess, came out of agreements between New Zealand’s government and Maori groups. The two sides have argued for years over guardianship of the country’s natural features.
Chris Finlayson, New Zealand’s attorney general, said the issue was resolved by taking the Maori mind-set into account. “In their worldview, ‘I am the river and the river is me,’” he said. “Their geographic region is part and parcel of who they are.”…
“The settlement is a profound alternative to the human presumption of sovereignty over the natural world,” said Pita Sharples, who was the minister of Maori affairs when the law was passed.
In her brilliant book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein focuses on indigenous communities as key players in the fight against climate change: “What is changing is that many non-Native people are starting to realize that indigenous rights—if aggressively backed by court challenges, direct action, and mass movements demanding that they be respected—may now represent the most powerful barriers protecting all of us from a future of climate chaos.” (Also, check out the schedule for 2016 Bioneers—lots of events focusing on indigenous cultures and strategies.)
New Zealand isn’t even the first! Bolivia and Ecuador have already granted rights to nature (called “wild law”). These laws lack specifics, though, and it’s not clear whether they have any teeth. (Bolivia’s law, for instance, hasn’t stopped oil company depredations.) Still, even if a “wild law” is just a symbol, it’s a powerful and potentially game-changing one.
NZ’s laws are honest-to-gosh enforceable laws-with-teeth. (And the article reports that NZ is in discussion with Canada, which is considering similar ones.)
Meanwhile, there are also multiple legal efforts to grant personhood status to select nonhumans, especially great apes. The most famous effort here in the U.S. is the Nonhuman Rights Project, of which I’m a proud long-time supporter. A new film about their work, Unlocking the Cage, has just been released by celebrated filmmakers D A Pennebaker (Don’t Look Back) and Chris Hegedus (The War Room). Check it out!
Other countries, including Argentina, Balearic Islands, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, and Switzerland, have passed strong animal-welfare legislation guaranteeing great apes and other species life, liberty, a decent standard of care, and/or the freedom to use one’s natural capacities. These are not, strictly speaking, “rights” laws, but they do provide a strong foundation for them.
Obviously, as forests, rivers, and nonhumans gain real rights, others lose the right to exploit them. And some good people, including veterinarians, dog groomers, and pet sitters, will have to proceed more carefully since, if they screw up, we’re no longer just talking about property damage, but actual pain and suffering incurred by individuals. (Ten years ago, a groomer told me that this was already a big concern in her industry.)
On the other hand, nonhuman personhood will make things MUCH tougher for animal abusers, as a ruling last month in Oregon demonstrated. (Again, we’re not yet talking about rights but a strong move in that direction.)
In a blurb for Unlocking the Cage, Jon Stewart (yeah, that one—he now runs a farmed animal sanctuary) says the movie makes him, “proud to be a primate.” Me, too! We humans do an awful lot of bad things to each other and other species, but I hope you agree that there are times we shine. We can be repositories not just of order in an entropically accelerating universe, but of compassion and generosity in an often heartless one.
The issue of rights for nonhuman entities is obviously profound, with vast implications. So what say you, Juicers? How would it affect you or those you know personally? When you answer, please consider the way we discuss our animal friends on this site. Do we discuss Steve, Rosie, Thurston, Lovey, Max, etc.–not to mention, the late, great (in every sense of the word!) Tunch–as if they were “things” or “people?”
Looking forward to your ideas…
These two dogs are an Australian penguin’s best friend — with skills that have saved as many as a two thousand birds in the last ten years.
Foxes had nearly decimated the population of ‘little penguins’ on Middle Island — killing nearly 200 a year.
But, since 2006 when Eudy and Tula started guarding the species, which is the smallest type of penguin in the world, there hasn’t been any evidence of a predator attack.
After the dogs started patrolling the island, the flock grew from a low of just 10 birds to more than 150 today.
It was a local chicken farmer, Swampy Marsh, who first suggested using the large, white Maremma sheep dogs as penguin guardians because they were so good at protecting his free range hens.
The community of Warrnambool sponsored the dogs’ training and still provides homes for them through the winter.
During the penguins’ mating season, the dogs patrol the island five days a week, spending their days off at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, where they meet visitors and help educate people about conservation.
(H/T: to a commenter in one of yesterday’s posts at Little Green Footballs)
And because its in the title:
Pursuant to John’s gentle reminder to stay cool till more facts emerge from Dallas and elsewhere, here are a couple of pieces of good news to tide us over:
1) A while back I posted my thoughts on how providing direct support to an immigrant or refugee individual or family is one of the best things you can do to help them, their communities both here and abroad, and the global situation. Apparently our friends up in Canada have figured all this out and are rocking it:
Across Canada, ordinary citizens, distressed by news reports of drowning children and the shunning of desperate migrants, are intervening in one of the world’s most pressing problems. Their country allows them a rare power and responsibility: They can band together in small groups and personally resettle — essentially adopt — a refugee family. In Toronto alone, hockey moms, dog-walking friends, book club members, poker buddies and lawyers have formed circles to take in Syrian families. The Canadian government says sponsors officially number in the thousands, but the groups have many more extended members.
Both the words and pics in the Times piece will warm your heart.
2) Kudos to animal activists in Massachusetts who have collected enough signatures to put the Massachusetts Farm Animal Containment Initiative on the ballot in November. The referendum would, among other things, “ban the sale of whole eggs, pork products, or veal from animals that can’t turn around or stretch their limbs within their cages.”
Pretty optimistic about this one, especially given how California’s similar Proposition 2 was overwhelmingly passed by voters way back in 2008.
— Reginald Braithwaite (@raganwald) July 4, 2016
I find that “funny” license plates usually run the scale from trying too hard to idiot identifier, but this one is an exception. (Always had a soft spot for a VW Bug ever since my dad got one of the first ones in New York City. Just before his family increased from three kids to six… )
Apart from fond memories, what’s on the agenda for the evening?
Happy Great Auk Day, Juicers. Can we have just one day a year when we remember the many incredible species that our own has driven from existence? I propose today, July 3, because while every extinction story is tragic, none, in my mind, surpasses that of the great auk for sheer pointlessness, ignorance, and brutality. But more on that in a moment.
The great auks suffered mightily at our hands, even by extinct-animal standards. As Elizabeth Kolbert reports in her Pulitzer Prize winning book The Sixth Extinction, they numbered in the millions and could be found throughout the North Atlantic. Unfortunately, they were prized for their meat, feathers, and oil; and also had no natural fear of humans, so could be slaughtered with ridiculous ease and in ridiculous numbers. She quotes one explorer who boasted that, “In less than half an hour we filled two boats full of them.”
And then there’s this recollection from an English seaman: “You take a kettle with you into which you put a Penguin [Great Auk] or two, you kindle a fire under it, and this fire is absolutely made of the unfortunate Penguins themselves. Their bodys being oily soon to produce a flame.”
The last colony of great auks lived on Geirfuglasker (the “Great Auk Rock”) off Iceland. This islet was a volcanic rock surrounded by cliffs which made it inaccessible to humans, but in 1830 the islet submerged after a volcanic eruption, and the birds moved to the nearby island of Eldey, which was accessible from a single side. When the colony was initially discovered in 1835, nearly fifty birds were present. Museums, desiring the skins of the auk for preservation and display, quickly began collecting birds from the colony. The last pair, found incubating an egg, was killed there on 3 July 1844, on request from a merchant who wanted specimens, with Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson strangling the adults and Ketill Ketilsson smashing the egg with his boot.
Great auk specialist John Wolley interviewed the two men who killed the last birds, and Ísleifsson described the act as follows: “The rocks were covered with blackbirds…they walked slowly. Jón Brandsson crept up with his arms open. The bird that Jón got went into a corner but [mine] was going to the edge of the cliff. It walked like a man … but moved its feet quickly. [I] caught it close to the edge – a precipice many fathoms deep. Its wings lay close to the sides – not hanging out. I took him by the neck and he flapped his wings. He made no cry. I strangled him.”
As I said, uniquely pointless, ignorant, and brutal – and so, also, just bottomlessly sad.
Wikipedia lists dozens of other Holocene extinctions, including:
4866 BCE – Irish Elk
1627 CE – Auroch (Europe’s native ox)
1662 – Dodo
1768 – Stellars Sea Cow
1883 – Quagga
1889 – Hokkaido wolf (deliberately poisoned)
1914 – Passenger Pigeon (great recent New Yorker piece on this one)
1918 – Caroline Parakeet
2006 – Baiji dolphin (Yangtze River)
2011 – Western Black Rhinoceros
So much tragedy—and so much more to come, as many scientists predict massive extinctions due to climate change. (See Kolbert’s excellent book.)
July 3 is somewhat inconvenient for us Americans, coming right before our big national holiday. And perhaps the extermination of one species is no more significant than that of any other. But extinction is a global problem, and (to me and at least some others) there really does seem something uniquely tragic about the fate of the great auk; and so I nominate it as a stand-in for all the others. So: July 3.
How about you, Juicers? Would you pick the great auk or another species or event to symbolize the extinction problem? And perhaps the scientific among us can weigh in on the possibility of resurrecting lost species, Jurassic Park style.
As you go through your day, I would be grateful if you would give some thought to the great auk and other amazing ones who lived rich lives and had rich heritages, only to be wiped out by us, the supposed sapiens.
For those who just can’t be bothered, here’s the world’s laziest wolf who can’t be bothered getting up and actually responding to the other wolves.
A study found that the psychology and behavior of elder monkeys and elder humans have many commonalities, indicating at least a partial genetic basis. One thing they may do better than us, though, is tolerating their youth. Although elder monks don’t really want to play with the kids, they also don’t mind having them on their lawn:
And around 20, (their “retirement age”) monkeys, like humans, had fewer social contacts and approached others less frequently. What surprised the researchers is that this apparent withdrawal wasn’t driven by a social tendency to avoid old monkeys: Younger monkeys still approached and groomed their elders. And it wasn’t that older monkeys just weren’t interested in anything: They still responded to photos of other monkeys and hissed at others during fights. “They are still very much tuned into what’s going on,” said Dr. Fisher. “But they don’t want to participate themselves.”
Dr. Freund said she sees the same behavior patterns in humans.
The dominant psychological theory to explain this in people is that we become more choosy with age in order to maximize the use of the time we have left with death in sight. While monkeys have excellent memories, there is no evidence that they are aware of their impending deaths. So if both humans and monkeys act similarly, perhaps this theory is just a way of rationalizing a natural behavior with biological roots, said Dr. Fischer.
Perhaps monkeys and humans just lose stamina with age, and maybe the monkeys are too tired to deal with relationships that are ambivalent or negative, she added.
Below, some more fauna-related links. Let’s discuss them in the comments. Also, as a reminder I will be in Davidson NC and available to meet for breakfast or coffee on Monday, July 11. Also will be in Golden, CO on Sunday evening July 24 and Monday morning (maybe) July 25. (Or look me up if you will be at the Colorado VegFest.) Please email me (not comment) if you can meet up. Would love to meet you all IRL!
Animal activists both within and outside China are starting to seriously take on the Yulin (China) Dog Meat Festival, during which 10,000+ dogs are killed in especially horrific ways because participants believe meat from a tormented dog tastes better and yields health benefits. Multiple photos have documented doomed dogs still wearing collars, indicating that they were probably someone’s cherished companion who was kidnapped.
GOP freshman senator Joni Ernst continues her party’s august record of dealing with the important issues. Forget about climate change, a Supreme Court vacancy, and the blood of dozens fresh in Orlando: the real threat to our lives and democracy is Meatless Monday. A couple of weeks back, she introduced federal legislation that would stop the Department of Defense from spending any money on it or any program designed to reduce meat consumption by U.S. military personnel.
Ernst is from Iowa, Gestation Crate Hellhole of the U.S., so one could argue that she’s just looking after her constituents’ interests. But that’s not what she said in an emailed statement. What she said was—I’m paraphrasing a bit–“OMG WHERE WILL OUR SOLDIERZ GET THEIR PROTEINZ?!?11!?”
It’s an incredibly stupid argument to make in 2016.
Take it away, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, sponsor of Meatless Monday:
Recently, freshman U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) threatened to legislate the removal of Meatless Monday from military menus, suggesting that soldiers and military personnel would not be able to meet protein needs if they cut out meat one day a week. The senator is misinformed about human nutrition, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines (DGAC) and the Meatless Monday campaign.
The 2015 DGAC recommend that for people who consume 2,000 calories per day, the ideal amount of “protein equivalent foods” to consume daily is 5.5 ounces. Protein equivalents include beef, pork, lamb, poultry, seafood, eggs, tofu and soy products, beans, legumes and nuts. According to the Dietary Guidelines, which are revised every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, protein needs can be adequately met with a variety of foods, including plant-based proteins such as the above-mentioned tofu, soy, beans, legumes and nuts.
It is more than feasible for a person to remove meat from his or her diet one day a week and still easily meet the Dietary Guidelines recommendations for protein….Furthermore, removing meat one day a week will actually help Americans meet additional components of the Guidelines, particularly recommendations for increased vegetable consumption and a reduction in saturated fats.
They conclude: “Observing Meatless Monday in Department of Defense dining facilities could improve the health and well-being of our soldiers, and it has the potential to contribute to reduced food costs and fewer environmental and climate impacts.”
Ernst–a real charmer who boasted during her campaign of castrating baby piglets and promised to “make ’em squeal” in Washington–is obviously happy to sell out the health of the soldiers she claims to care so much about for the benefit of her pig-torturing constituents. And she’s no doubt basking in the attention her little amendment has generated. But even if she succeeds in getting it passed, the meat industry is fighting a losing battle. Meat consumption (other than chicken) has been on a decline for years in the U.S., a trend that will continue and accelerate.
PS – Not Just Related But Yuge: Yesterday, The Guardian reported on a plan by China to cut meat consumption by 50% for public health, ecological (land degradation), and climate reasons.
We went birding this morning but got off to a late start, which is a recurring theme in our birdwatching chronicles. Whose fault is that, I wonder? Hmmm? Hmmmmmm? Anyway, here’s where we set off with our field glasses; it’s a park along the shores of Tampa Bay:
Looks nice, doesn’t it? But in fact it is a zika-skeeto-infested hellhole! We’re used to slathering ourselves in Deep Woods Off and sunscreen before even going out to check the mail, so of course we’d sprayed ourselves down thoroughly. But the mosquitoes were so thirsty for our blood that they dive-bombed our eyeballs and burrowed into our ear canals. Not pleasant.
We didn’t see many birds due to the aforementioned late start and because the tide wasn’t optimal for shorebirds. But we did see this antediluvian critter:
I believe it is a snapping turtle. It had just emerged from a weed-choked canal, hence the crap on its shell. We weren’t sure if it was a snapper or an alligator turtle, which looks very similar only with more ridges on the shell. But we decided it was a snapper.
We also saw this lovely pelican flying around hunting for fish:
You can always count on pelicans around here. Even if every other bird is hidden away from the heat, the hardy pelican will still be in evidence. Ibises too, but they are as common as pigeons around here, so I didn’t bother taking a picture of those goony birds.
We saw plenty of eagles and ospreys in their nests, but they nest so high up it’s not worth getting a shot unless you have a camera with a telephoto lens. All I had was my iPhone and field glasses, which I used in combination to get a shot of St. Pete across the bay:
Yeah, no. That didn’t work too well. Maybe someday I’ll get an actual camera. But with that, we beat a hasty retreat, down approximately a pint of blood each thanks to the relentless mosquitoes.
Now I’m figuring out the order in which I will run a bunch of errands and generally procrastinating on cleaning the house. I’ve got a houseful of people coming over tomorrow to celebrate three things at once: Father’s Day, our daughter’s graduation from high school and the annual summer departure of the snowbird relatives.
I’m planning to make ropa vieja and yellow rice since it’s the sort of thing that holds up well when people are showing up at unpredictable times, and it doesn’t require use of the oven — it’s too goddamned hot to use the oven!
I will also make a key lime pie since that is my hubby’s favorite dessert and perhaps roasted shrimp cocktail, plus a big old salad. What are you up to today?
After revoking the WaPo’s press credentials for accurately reporting that he insinuated President Obama is in league with terrorists, Trump is now doubling down on that very same bat-shit insane accusation and tweet-wanking over his own alleged prescience yet again:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2016
The embedded article from Trump propaganda outlet Breitbart is entitled “Hillary Clinton Received Secret Memo Stating Obama Admin ‘Support’ for ISIS.” Vigorously auditioning for the role of “MiniTruth” in the dystopian hellhole of a Trump administration, the Breitbartians offer proof of nothing but their own disconnection from reality and inability to comprehend an intelligence report. Hillary Clinton is not amused:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 15, 2016
Early on in this circus, someone observed that Trump’s success in the GOP primary was based on his willingness to ratchet up the insults and accusations beyond the bounds of rational discourse but that eventually, he would run out of room to escalate without sounding like a drooling psychopath.
Fellow citizens, we’ve arrived at that moment: The primaries officially ended last night, and Trump is already accusing both his opponent and the sitting President of the United States of being traitors who conspire with ISIS. I don’t believe in Peak Trump, but I am having a hard time imagining where he goes from here. The Illuminati? Chem trails? Lizard people? Help me out here…
Because I plan to go to bed tonight thinking about homegrown tomatoes and the year’s first daylily… and imagining that is a juggler in the fourth photo below!
More bounty from faithful garden commentor Opie Jeanne:
Volunteer chives, foxgloves, and baby lupine in the gravel
Beans just starting, volunteer lupines
New rose garden. 3 years ago this had a dying pine tree and some English ivy (invasive species here) and a row of elderly lavender, also dying. The rocks were there and we salvaged a few of the old lavender and added a lot of young plants. Had to fix the drainage in this part of the yard before we did anything.
[Ed: That can’t be a juggler leading the parade, can it?]
Corn bed, alpine strawberries
Last of the Lilacs, just a week ago
Dreaming of bunnies
Here north of Boston, I’ve got almost all the mail-order tomatoes transplanted, but now all the rootpouches need to be slide-puzzled into place before they’re tall enough to require laddering. And I can’t finish moving them until the Spousal Unit finishes pruning as much of the godsdamned overhanging nuisance oak as he can reach from a ladder, which it’s my job to hold… if I’m not back on the blog this evening, assume the worst.
Speaking of future posts — there’s a bunch of pet pics waiting to cheer up our mornings, but as best I can tell from my disorganized email, the only gardening post now in the queue is a blog-link from Peter Cook. So, if you’ve got garden photos, this would be the time to send jpgs to annelaurie at verizon dot net.
What’s going on in your gardens this week?