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Saturday Links: The Absurdity Edition


'Watch out! Someone might be making toast nearby!' (iPod not pictured)

This week, we’ve decided to theme the links digest.  The general theme for the last week seems to be the absolutely ridiculous – even more than normal!  So, without further delay:

  • AnimalBlawg reports on a new development: Ipods for pets.  Do we even need to say why this is madness?
  • Someone threw a butter knife at a racehorse: The manhunt is underway.  Nevermind that these animals are bought and sold, treated as nothing more than investments, drugged, whipped, raced to death, and killed (for ‘pet food’).  Someone threw a knife that’s sharp enough to cut margarine at them!  The moral double standard of animal welfare at its finest.
  • Golf is more important to the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department than endangered species.  I couldn’t make this up.

  • Back on a topic from last week: Jon Safron Foer’s Eating Animals. Josh Viertel of the Huffington Post thinks that Safron Foer is saying it doesn’t matter what values you have – so long as you have some values about what you eat.  Any values.  Right.  It doesn’t matter if you’re concerned with animal welfare, animal rights, the myth of food miles, whether your food is kosher or halal, or whatever.  Just have some kind of value about it.  I think he missed the point, a tiny bit.  Oh – and apparently the near-vegan Safron Foer and rampant hunter Viertel have ‘nearly the same beliefs about eating meat’, in the same way that Rodney Hide and Sue Bradford have nearly the same beliefs about economics, right?  Um.
  • As I discussed in my article on CraFarms, in New Zealand, MAF is simultaneously charged with promoting the country’s animal industries and enforcing the Animal Welfare Act 1999.  The same absurdity applies in the United States: The USDA, as Grist reports, is charged with promoting the US’s agricultural industries…and making sure the factory farms are ‘safe’.  Last week, the USDA passed another cool US$50 million to ‘struggling’ pork producers, supporting ‘resource-sucking, pathogen-incubating, pollution-spewing operations’ that daily pump antibiotics into pigs…and are blamed for new antibiotic-resistant staph strains.  Woops.
  • George Monbiot, who has in the past advocated ecological vegetarianism, urges us to ‘save farming’, discussing the inefficiencies and oil-dependence of modern grain farming, yet not mentioning the even more gross inefficiency of animal farming. The man has put the dots on the page, but – although normally an excellent journalist – apparently hasn’t started to join the dots.  Save farming: Stop subsidising pork, etc.
  • The Herald asks ‘Is Fonterra guilty of putting profit before the environment?‘   Yes, it’s YourViews; of course, it’s ridiculous.  One of our fellow New Zealanders thinks Greenpeace is an ‘international terrorist organisation’.   Several complain about the harm caused by intensive farming to waterways; no one comments on the harm caused to …the cows.  Sigh.
  • While we’re at it: Turns out that the New Zealand government runs two sets of carbon accounts.   According to Nick Smith, the problem isn’t our emissions; it’s our branding as an environmental world leader.  And, according to No Right Turn, this is a problem for our ‘highly environmentally-sensitive … dairy export’ market.  That is, the pollution that our dairy industry is the largest contributor to is a threat to part of our dairy industry, and that is why it’s bad.  Not, you know, because we’re looking at a very high chance of climate change of 2-3 degrees Celsius or more this century.
  • Sharon McDonough of Selden, New York ran a ‘pet concentration camp‘ in her suburban home.  SPCA Chief Roy Gross called it ‘one of the worst cases of animal abuse I have seen in the last 25 years’.  I’d also call this another egregious case of speciesism.  When you keep 500 pigs in cages (‘This Is Where “Bacon” Comes From‘), it’s a farm; when you keep five dogs in cages, it’s a ‘pet concentration camp’.
  • It’d be absurd if scientists recommended a quota of killing zero bluefin tuna, or maybe 6,500 tons, under risk of extinction, and the IGO in charge cut the bluefin tuna quota to…13,500 tons, right?  Well, they did.  Adding insult to injury, this is the ‘International Commission For The Conservation Of Atlantic Tunas’ we’re talking about: Conservation. Next, I expect to see ‘research’ painted on the side of fishing vessels…
  • Someone in the Philadelphia has been busy beheading animals: Three chickens, one dog, and one cat.  The local SPCA’s director, George Bengal, thinks it’s a bit ‘bizarre’ to kill a domestic animal, and that charges might be laid for killing the cat and the dog.  Never mind the the three chickens, or the nine billion other chickens killed annually in the US.  With ‘friends’ like these…
  • …who needs enemies?  The Humane Research Council gives us a reality check for the new welfarist movement.  Over the last twenty years, actually percentages of vegetarianism (no mention of veganism) have not changed.  The solution?  Take a lesson from the (failures of) the environmental movement, and forget abolition, forget rights, forget liberation: If welfarism isn’t working, we should be more welfarist.
  • For all your organic, happy-meat, welfarist chicken needs: Whole Foods is launching mobile slaughterhouses.  Just.  What?  Whole Foods is often touted as an example of welfare success.  It’s not.  Whole Foods is also providing some very specific guidelines to producers; not about animal welfare…about getting a consistent taste.  Welfarism pits animal interests against human ‘rights’, and the animals lose.
  • IBM have wired a supercomputer into a cat’s brain, to successfully create a feline-machine computer that thinks one hundred times more slowly than a cat.  Or something.  Can anyone explain to me what the point of this is?  Apparently it’s a ‘truly unprecedented scale of simulation’.  Well, no: It’s a cat with wires in it. Apparently they want to study how the cat’s brain forms thoughts.  I suspect that ‘Ouch.  What?  WHAT?  Ouch.’ will be the main theme going on.  Whenever vegans talk about animal testing and vivisection, people talk about medical research, but, as in this example, the vast majority of vivisection is for commercial, industrial, and plain weird purposes.

On the less absurd side, AnimalBlawg is recommending an article by Katrina Sharman, of Voiceless about animal welfare spin.

About David Tong

Climate campaigner | Cyclist | Photographer | Vegan | Straight Edge || Views my own


One thought on “Saturday Links: The Absurdity Edition

  1. I omitted to include a link to the blog through this I came across the Humane Research Council essay. See ‘We Other Animals’: http://weotheranimals.blogspot.com/2009/11/welfare-group-admits-welfare-doesnt.html. I noticed my error when a follow-up post appeared in my Twitter feed: http://weotheranimals.blogspot.com/2009/11/hes-got-facts-get-him-che-green-and-his.html. My apologies to Vincent J. Guihan for forgetting the link.

    The absurdity continues: Che Green, who apparently…is…the Humane Research Council represents himself as a social scientist, yet his qualification? A BA in business administration.

    Posted by David Tong | 23 November 2009, 3:13 pm
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