Cutting tall grass is hard, because it’s full of beautiful singing insects who have made their home there. Apparently our yard is occupied by large numbers of praying mantises. I’d never seen one in person before. They’re lovely little people. Read the rest of this entry »
Awhile back we got a smart phone for the first time, and I downloaded a game based on the cuteness of its icon. It turned out to be Triple Town, and I got briefly obsessed, even finding it on Facebook when I ran out of credits or points or whatever it is they give you until you have to start paying money to keep playing.
It’s an addictive puzzle game, which is what I found appealing about it. You combine icons to make higher-value icons. But these icons tell a story. They’re not just little jewels or tiles or something. Triple Town is set on land, populated by bears. You combine grass until you have flowers, and you combine those until you have bushes, and those in turn become trees, which then become buildings, and then churches and cathedrals. Along the way you trap the bears, turning them into tombstones. Enough tombstones and you’ve got a church. You encounter “ninja bears” who can move around more freely and block your moves, and you kill them, to turn them into tombstones, too. At some point the game tells you you’ve been working on colonies; there’s a mainland which sends out ships to them to get their resources to bring back to the “Capital City,” where they can be used to build monuments, armaments, and coin-making farms and factories to fund further exploitation of the islands.
So not only was I a bear-killer, I was an imperialist. I got deeply uncomfortable and after a while it wasn’t even my “guilty pleasure” anymore, it was just an addictive thing I felt creepy about. So I stopped playing.
In the back of my mind I wondered about Triple Town. I imagine a lot of people don’t have issues with killing tiny animated bears and stealing their resources; the game is very popular. Were the game producers just idiots, unaware of what they were teaching people? Or were they deliberately brainwashing folks? Read the rest of this entry »
Good news for dolphins from WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation:
In a highly progressive move for dolphin protection, India’s Central Zoo Authority has issued a circular announcing the decision of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests not to allow the establishment of dolphinaria in the country and advising state governments across India to reject any such proposals. To demonstrate just how progressive this decision is, the circular notes “cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that the unusually high intelligence… means that dolphin should be seen as “non-human persons” and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose”.
If you support animal rights, sign the Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins:
Based on the principle of the equal treatment of all persons;
Recognizing that scientific research gives us deeper insights into the complexities of cetacean minds, societies and cultures;
Noting that the progressive development of international law manifests an entitlement to life by cetaceans;
We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and wellbeing.
We conclude that:
- Every individual cetacean has the right to life.
- No cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.
- All cetaceans have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.
- No cetacean is the property of any State, corporation, human group or individual.
- Cetaceans have the right to the protection of their natural environment.
- Cetaceans have the right not to be subject to the disruption of their cultures.
- The rights, freedoms and norms set forth in this Declaration should be protected under international and domestic law.
- Cetaceans are entitled to an international order in which these rights, freedoms and norms can be fully realized.
- No State, corporation, human group or individual should engage in any activity that undermines these rights, freedoms and norms.
- Nothing in this Declaration shall prevent a State from enacting stricter provisions for the protection of cetacean rights.
Agreed, 22nd May 2010, Helsinki, Finland
Do you support this declaration? Click here to add your name.
This morning I started to read Bee Deaths From Colony Collapse Disorder On The Rise As Researchers Point To Pesticides on Huffington Post, and then I realized I’d rather find out how I can help, instead of just feeling bad about the problem. Here are some suggestions I found on the interwebs.
- Stop buying GMO, non-organic food, and support organic agriculture instead. Buy used and/or organic clothing.
- Learn about where your food and clothing comes from and how much pesticide went into its production.
- Stop using pesticides in your own lawn and garden.
- Sign petitions banning pesticides, and support the use of organic alternatives.
- Encourage your local government to do more to help bees.
- Attract bees by planting clover, flowering trees, and herbs that bees like. Provide a water source so they can take a drink when they visit.
- Let your veggies go to seed after harvest, to help fatten up your bee neighbors for the long winter.
- Educate yourself about bees so you can be more sure of how you relate to them and what you might like to do to help them.
- Pass on your knowledge about bees. Your voice is powerful, and the bees can’t speak for themselves! Make sure that kids understand that bees are an important part of their ecosystem.
- Provide bee habitat, but make sure you’re keeping bees and humans safe from hurting each other by marking bees’ homes.
The only one I saw folks mention elsewhere that I didn’t put here was “become a beekeeper / support your local beekeeper.” I don’t feel that it would be my place to confine and manipulate others and take things they make, or to encourage others to do that. It takes the average worker bee her entire life to produce just one twelfth of one teaspoon of honey. They make it for their colony, not for us.
If you do choose to use bee products, please make sure they’re locally produced and that you feel good about the way the bees are living, from birth to death. Since your decision impacts the lives of other beings, you may want to educate yourself about some of the ethical problems with beekeeping, honey, and beeswax. Thank you!
Sorry to share something so sad, but it’s also quite beautiful. This video captures a moment when a sight-seeing boat from Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari in Dana Point, California crossed paths with what seemed to be a funeral procession: A grieving mother dolphin, slowly carrying her dead child’s body on her dorsal fin, surrounded by other dolphins.
In the video, Tony Green, one of the passengers, says,
The last thing I expected to see today was a funeral procession. And it was pretty profound for me to think about … emotions that those animals feel. And how much, really, more alike we are…
I’m so glad this video exists. If you ever doubt that animals have feelings or consciousness, remember this funeral procession. If you ever worry that humans are heartless, remember the natural empathy and grief felt by the unseen human observers in this video.
Captain Dave Anderson says, “In my nearly twenty years on the water whale watching I have never seen this behavior,” but my guess is that this is nothing new. We just have to look and learn. Just for starters, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is full of amazing stories as well as useful perspective into why we humans hear so little about anecdotal evidence of animal cognition.
Via Huffington Post.
Infographic showing the number of humans killed by sharks, worldwide, in a year (just 12), vs. the number of sharks that humans kill every hour (11,417), by Joe Chernov and Robin Richards. Click here for more info about these numbers and where this graphic came from.
Click to see the big version, which is pretty shocking.
If you feel for the sharks, please, share this graphic, take action against shark finning and overfishing, and if you haven’t yet, go vegan!