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Archive for October, 2008

Réunion, the French-controlled Island off the coast of Africa feeds live puppies to sharks. That’s right, folks. A report by National Geographic confirms that dogs and cats are being used as shark bait by fishermen. A film crew rescued a few back in ’05 when they went to get evidence of the truth of the horrid allegations. The claim is that they have too many strays. I doubt that is the real reason for this barbarism. The 6-month old pup the story discusses was someone’s pet and luckily made it back home after treatment for the large fishhook through its snout. A John Claude Clair had a 7 month old with three hooks in its paws and snout. I don’t really think the $5982 fine was enough.

Let me be very clear about this. These animals are not just treated with indifference. They are treated with extreme cruelty. They are hooked through their tender snouts or paws a day or so before “so they can bleed sufficiently.”

Contrast this complete disregard for life with Mr. Greg LeNoir whose love for his dog prompted him to fight a shark. Jake, his beloved 14lb. rat terrier was going for his daily swim when a shark grabbed him. Putting his own fear and well-being aside Greg drove his fist into the shark hard enough to make it let go of Jake, who then popped up to the surface, bloody but intact. Vet Suzanne Sigel says he’s, “…one lucky dog. He looks great and is recuperating well,” she went on to say, there is “no evidence of infection or pneumonia.”

Violence to animals often precedes violence to humans. Examples include: Patrick Sherrill, who killed 14

Jake the dog is recovering after his owner dove into the water to save him from a shark.

Jake the dog is recovering after his owner dove into the water to save him from a shark.

coworkers at a post office and then shot himself, had a history of stealing local pets and allowing his own dog to attack and mutilate them. Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped, stabbed, and mutilated a 7-year-old boy, had been widely known in his neighborhood as the man who put firecrackers in dogs’ rectums and strung up cats. Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a San Diego school, killing two children and injuring nine others, had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often by setting their tails on fire. Albert DeSalvo, the “Boston Strangler” who killed 13 women, trapped dogs and cats in orange crates and shot arrows through the boxes in his youth. Carroll Edward Cole, executed for five of 35 murders of which he was accused, said his first act of violence as a child was to strangle a puppy. In 1987, three Missouri high school students were charged with the beating death of a classmate. They had histories of repeated acts of animal mutilation starting several years earlier. One confessed he had killed so many cats he’d lost count. Two brothers who murdered their parents had previously told classmates they had decapitated a cat. Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer had impaled dogs’ heads, frogs, and cats on sticks. Sadly, many criminals’ animal violence goes unexamined—until it’s directed at humans. Wonder what the treatment of animals on the island of Réunion says about them?

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Dachsund-at-large

Dachsund-at-large

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Why I’m Voting For Barry

That’s right, I am voting for Barak Hussein Obama. His middle name doesn’t scare me! A rose by any other name….(people! It’s only a name, and one his parents picked.) Barry is going to make a great President!

I’m for Obama out of pragmatism. At our family’s income level (under 60K) he simply represents the best choice. He won’t be raising my taxes. I checked. I’m also voting for him for other reasons, though. I don’t like Palin. I don’t have any respect for someone who does the things she does. I don’t want to just vote against someone though. I want to be able to vote for someone. I want to be for choice, for hope, for progress, for the future. Barry represents those things.

I want to have America’s standing in the world back again. I know some people don’t care what others think. Well, good for them, but my skin isn’t that thick. I want to be able to be proud of my country, again. I love America, but I am embarrassed at things like Guantanamo Bay the same way a parent would be embarrassed at a 3 year-old’s public temper tantrum. I want to feel that my country is acting honorably and leading the world to higher standards.

I know exactly who the real Obama is. He’s Barry: a dad, a husband, an American. He’s a teacher. He’s a volunteer. He’s a man. He’s as ordinary as any of us. He drops his stuff in the doorway, he forgets anniversaries, (come on, who hasn’t forgot an important date!) promises his kids a puppy. He’s just a guy. If we let him though, he will be the guy who guides us into a new Golden Age. We can pick up the pieces from our moral and economic collapse and re-embrace the freedom and prosperity our forefathers intended us to have. Slough off the old nationalism, racism, and selfishness of the past that has gripped this country and become the true “shining city on a hill” that we all know we can be. Obama has awakened the activist spirit of the young for a reason.

Free market capitalism will not save us. As much as I love it, and the profits and neat stuff we can buy, there is some point at which capitalism must give way to patriotism. Patriotism- love of our country must come first. Capitalism won’t fix bridges and schools. Capitalism won’t make sure math and science are taught successfully in schools. There are some things in which the “free market” (which I think is a misnomer, anyway) has no interest. Patriotism must pull us together to rebuild our country, under Obama’s lead. We need a new version of the WPA. We need infrastructure built and jobs produced. We desperately need to get our energy under our control. We are on our knees as a nation and we need a President who will lift us up, not kick us when we are down.

Kicking us when we are down is exactly what McCain seems to think is in order. Last night’s debate, where he said that there will be no Social Security (well in fairness, he said there wouldn’t be the same kind of benefits in the future- but- also in fairness, considering how much people struggle now when they have only Social Security I can’t imagine reduced benefits being worth anything) for the next generation was a deal breaker for me. We pay a significant amount to Social Security. Everyone does, but the percentage does not change as the income lessens the way taxes do. The percentage taken hurts more the lower the person’s income is, of course. So while they take the money many of us should be investing, they make no promises to help out later. On that note, what are we to invest in? Stocks could lose their value, yet a savings account won’t beat the inflation rate. How exactly are we supposed to fund any retirement we workers may want later? Add to this the taxation of any health benefits one may receive from a company and you have an attack on the middle class. Understand, ladies and gentlemen, McCain wants to tax you on the insurance you get at work- so while your income will not go up, you’re actual take home pay will go down. (Less cash in your pocket.) Ok so he gives a $5000 tax break for the insurance you pay. So?! A year’s worth of insurance is way, way more than that. ($10,000+ for a family) That is not acceptable to me. McCain lost my vote on Social Security and taxes. That should be noted by the Republicans, for I am not a lifelong Democrat.

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At the start, let me say I’m not an animal rights activist. I’m not comfortable with absolutes. And I know that every time something eats, something else dies. I recognize the Earth is little more than a revolving buffet with weather. So, the idea of eating animals is fine with me, but is it really necessary to make things out of the parts we don’t eat? We’re the only species that does this. You never see a mongoose with snakeskin shoes. Or a lion walkin’ around in a wilderbeest hat. And how often do you run into plankton that have phytoplankton luggage?

And I think people have a lot of nerve locking up a tiger and charging four dollars to let a few thousand worthless humans shuffle past him every day. What a shitty thing To do. Humans must easily be the meanest species on Earth. Probably the only reason there are any Tigers left is because they don’t taste good.

I respect animals. I have more sympathy for an injured or dead animal than I do for an injured or dead human being, because human beings participate and cooperate in their own undoing. Animals are completely innocent. There are no innocent human beings.

Here is an anecdote from the writer Patricia Highsmith: “Not so long ago I said to a friend of mine: ‘if I saw a kitten and a little human baby sitting on the curb starving I would feed the kitten first if nobody was looking.’ My friend said: ‘I would feed the kitten first if somebody was looking.'” I would too Patricia.

Some people seem shocked and say, “You care more about animals than you do humans!” Fuckin’-A well told!

I do not torture animals, and I do not support the torture of animals, such as that which goes on at rodeos: cowardly men in big hats abusing simple beasts in a fruitless search for manhood. In fact, I regularly pray for serious, life-threatening rodeo injuries. I wish for a cowboy to walk crooked, and with great pain, for the rest of his life. I cheer when a bull at Pamplona sinks one of his horns deep into the lower intestines of some drunken European macho swine. And my cheers grow louder when a victim is a young American macho-jock tourist asshole. Especially if the bull is able to swing that second horn around and catch the guy right in the nuts .

But although I don’t go out of my way to bother living things, I am not without personal standards. A mosquito on my arm, an ant or a cockroach in my kitchen, a moth approaching my lapel; these animals will die. Other insects in my home, however, the ones who merely wish to rest awhile, will be left alone.

Or, if noisy and rowdy, lifted gently and returned to the great outdoors. I am also perfectly willing to share the room with a fly, as long as it’s patrolling that portion of the room that I don’t occupy. But if he starts that smart-ass fly shit, buzzing my head and repeatedly landing on my arm, he is engaging in high-risk behavior. That’s when I roll-up the sports section and become Bwana, the great white fly hunter!

Sometimes there is an older fly in the room, one who flies slowly and can’t travel too far in one hop-or it might be a female, heavy with eggs. In this case, even if the fly is bothering me, I don’t kill it; Instead, I adopt it a short-termed pet. I might even give it a name. Probably something based on mythology.

Generally, I like flies, but they’d be far more welcome if they would make a choice—and stick to it–between my bean burrito and that nice, hot, steaming dog turd out in the front lawn.

Also, in keeping with my insect death policy based on the intentions of the insects, any bacterium or virus entering my body that does not wish me well will be slain. Normally, my immune system would accomplish this without notifying me, but if the old T-cells aren’t up to the task. I am prepared to ingest huge amounts of antibiotics, even if they are bad for me.

And yet, in spite of all these examples of creature mayhem, I will not strike a dog, I will not chase and taunt a bull around a ring, and I will not squeeze an animal’s testicles just to give the yokels a better show.

I’m also uneasy about the sheer number of scientific experiments performed on animals. First of all, animals are not always good models for medical experimentation: Penicillin kills guinea pigs; an owl is not bothered by cyanide; monkeys can survive strychnine, etc., etc.

Couldn’t these scientific tests just as easily be performed on humans? Condemned prisoners, old people, the feeble, the terminally ill? I’m sure there are plenty of ignorant, desperate Americans who would be willing to volunteer in exchange for some small electrical appliance.

What makes me happy in the midst of all this is that ultimately animals get even. The major killers of humanity throughout recent history—-smallpox, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria, bubonic plague, measels, cholera, and AIDS—are all infectious diseases of animals. I pray that mad cow disease will come to this country and completely wipe out the hamburger criminals.

Eating meat is one thing, but this whole beef-rancher-manure-cattle-hamburger side show is a different skillet of shit altogether.

Each year, Americans eat 38 billion hamburgers. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of red meat. Cattle consume one half of all the fresh water consumed on Earth.

The sixty million people who will starve this year could be adequately fed if Americans reduced their meat intake to just 10 percent. But if I were one of those sixty million people, I wouldn’t be reachin’ for the salt and pepper too quickly. It ain’t gonna happen.

Ranchers raise pathetic, worthless cattle and sheep, animals who cannot live off the land without human supervision, and the same ranchers kill wolves, magnificent, individualistic animals fully capable of caring for themselves without assistance. Individualism gives way to sheep behavior. Sound familiar?

I root for a wolf to someday grab a rancher’s kid. Yes I do. And you know something? The wolf would probably take the kid home and raise him, in the manner of Romulus and Remus; and probably do a better job than the rancher. Remember, wolves mate for life, and they care for their sick and infirm; they don’t run off, or kill them, or abandon them. Give me a wolf over some fuckin’ jerkoff rancher any day of the week.

One last item to demonstrate the depth of human perversity: Some zoos now sell surplus animals to private hunting ranches where rich white men hunt them down and kill for amusement. No wonder they call it the Descent of man.

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A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.

~Robert Benchley

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