Posts Tagged ‘activism’

posted this great Washington Post article about cognitive reasoning and inference in dogs, who behaved similarly to 14-month-old children in an inference test. And I just have to RANT, seeing the ‘wow, who knew?’ tone of this article (not at him, at the world in general).

I grew up with animals. They really ARE there— there is someone home, they are not meat puppets or objects for our convenience. We are committing slavery and genocide on a vast scale, all over this earth, often for no better reasons than convenience or sheer ignorance.

I don’t deny the legitimacy of (some) scientific research; I deny the legitimacy of LD-50 and Draize tests, of needless vivisection for ‘training’ purposes.

I don’t deny the freedom to choose to eat meat; I deny the system that makes the ‘choice’ a stroll through a bright supermarket, picking up clean, odorless, protein packages adorned with brightly smiling cartoons, while at the same time condemning the animals that become the package contents to a hellish and painful existence in ammonia-soaked feedlots and coops, drugged and mutilated to prevent their natural outrage from expressing itself.

I don’t deny the need of people to spread out and to use land for farming, housing, lumber, recreation; I deny the smokescreen of hype that deludes people into believing that their lawns are safe and sustainable, that their agriculture isn’t creating poisons, that their housing ‘in the country’ isn’t causing the very problems they are fleeing.

I don’t deny the ‘right’ to ‘use’ our public park systems and wild lands; I deny the attitude that “we’re not hurting anything” when we hike, play music, ride atvs and snowmobiles and water jets, etc in wilderness. Ever lived next to a home having outdoor contracting done? They’re not hurting you, are they? They’re just making noise when you may not want it, startling you occasionally, making you think twice about using your bbq outside because you don’t want paint/sawdust/whatever on your food, etc. Every day. Every damn day. Still feeling good about it? But they’re not DOING anything to you. Right.

I deny the mindset that uses terms like ‘vacant’ land for ecosystems, that declares a field ‘fallow’ if it houses a meadow where no farm animals graze. I deny the mindset that judges nature and the earth solely according to its utility and beauty in the eye of human beholders, ignoring any dignity and worth it may have in its own right.

Let’s not even get into the parallels between electrocution as capital punishment and the standard manner in which farmed fur such as fox and mink are dispatched for ‘processing’, namely being taunted into biting a metal muzzle grip and having a cattle prod shoved up their ass to electrocute them. Fluffs the fur nicely, you see. Now all you little goth wenches go out and give your giggly little fox tail the decent burial it deserves. I’ve got one scheduled for mine. 😦

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…is rocking my world.


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Go watch Hans Kessler presenting his mind-blowing data visualization of world health, economy, and myth debunking at TED 2006.

Using the nonprofit GapMinder Foundation site’s tools and database access, it should be possible to create similar correlations between results of conservation efforts like acquisition of permanent easement land by conservation trusts, annual bird and wildlife counts, water and wetlands analysis, and localized life expectancy, cancer, and economic data.

I want to see this. If it correlates the way I *hope* it will, it could be an extremely powerful tool for conservation, right-sizing, and healthy sustainability.

If you get to it before I do (likely!), can you please comment here or email me? Many thanks!

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The Sunnyvale SNAP class last night was a real eye-opener. First of 2 sessions on disaster medical response. Forget what they teach you in Red Cross lifesaving class, because it’s “do the greatest good for the greatest number”. This is the same triage training that firefighters and police get– in fact, we saw a firefighter training video.

It’s fast, efficient, and brutally realistic.

START WHERE YOU STAND. When you enter the scene and become a first responder, whether it’s the doorway of a room, or (as in the film) going through the windshield of an overturned bus.

MINOR: Anyone who can stand up and walk past you, out to where you tell them to go, which is the first thing you do. Retain a couple of the ones that look the least bad and ask if they can stay here a minute, you may need them to help. Get one to call 911, if you aren’t responding to a 911.

Then, from nearest to you outward, you go and do a check on everyone else. It will take less than a minute per person; it may take less than 30 seconds per person. Yes, you or someone else will come back to them later, but you must check everyone.

Are they breathing? Yes, next test. No, clear airway and re-check. No, tag as DECEASED. That was the shocker for most of us. Why? Because when you begin CPR, you can’t stop until the professionals arrive. Which means that someone further on who you might be able to save may die. So you tag and move on. If they’re breathing but unconscious, ask one of your MINOR (walking wounded) to hold them in the cleared-airway position, or use the Recovery Roll to put them on their side so they won’t aspirate if they start to vomit.

Is their circulatory system ok? Pinch the finger of a hand, the earlobe, or the web between fingers hard. If the area doesn’t recover normal skin color in 2 seconds, tag as IMMEDIATE and stop any active bleeding. Get a MINOR to hold and press a cloth or dressing while you move on, or tie one on if you are alone. Not a tourniquet– a tight dressing. Tourniquets are ‘goodbye limb, we must save the person’. Don’t use. Ever. Unless you are EMT or similarly trained. If ok, move to next test.

Mental awareness? Ask questions you know the answer to (what day is it? do you know what happened? what city are we in?). If the person can’t answer, or is mumbling to themselves over and over, etc, tag as IMMEDIATE. Otherwise, tag as DELAYED.

That’s it. Period.

Not office first aid. Give the most people the best chance, because the assumption is that either temporarily or long-term, there just aren’t enough caregivers to deal with all the victims.

Sucking chest wound, but passes those 3 tests? DELAYED
Huge piece of metal sticking out of torso or eye? DELAYED
No breathing, but it’s a child or baby? DECEASED

I have no problem with this. From what some other folks in the class were saying, I wonder if I should have a problem with it. But I don’t. Not sure what that makes me, except, I hope, a survivor.

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Grew up drinking it, never got sick from it. Buying it these days when I can (spendy stuff). Too bad I don’t have any neighbors who want to keep a couple of goats. 🙂

Find your own! Not convinced? Try this article, of which I’ve excerpted about 20%

Invariably, whenever raw milk is condemned, pasteurization is presented as the only path to salvation from milk-borne pathogens such as E. coli 0157:H7. Interestingly, however, the official government anti-raw milk statements and reports never seem to mention the numerous outbreaks of food-related illness associated with pasteurized milk that also occur every year. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that pasteurized milk may even be more likely to cause illness than the raw stuff.

In one dispatch from Emerging Infectious Diseases, the CDC’s monthly bulletin, investigators discuss an April 2000 outbreak of multiple drug resistant Salmonella enterica in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in which 93 people became ill with bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, and vomiting after drinking pasteurized milk. Six people were hospitalized, and the bacteria was eventually traced back to a source the report identifies as “dairy plant X,” where it was determined that unsanitary conditions had contaminated the milk after pasteurization. The report also makes reference to eight other pasteurized milk-related outbreaks spanning the last 25 years, plus a table listing still others.

Of course, other foods can–and very frequently do–make us sick. Seventy-six million Americans are felled by food-borne illnesses each year, the CDC reports. Some 325,000 of those so sickened are hospitalized, and 5,000 die. Chew on that while considering that the FDA says raw milk-related illnesses sickened “more than 300 people” in 2001 and “nearly 200” in ’02.

There is actual science behind romantic-sounding notions of living milk and its white-hat bacteria. … Organic Pastures owner Mark McAfee … hired an independent lab to introduce pathogens into raw milk from his dairy to see what would happen. He duplicated the test in his own lab, using his own diagnostic equipment. “We looked at salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, listeria, and tuberculosis,” … “In every case, the pathogen levels either did not increase or disappeared entirely.” … In other words, the raw milk killed the bad bugs.

It’s a startling fact that E. coli 0157:H7, the most lethal food-borne pathogen of all, did not exist before 1982. It apparently evolved in the acid guts of feedlot cattle standing around all day in their own feces, eating a diet of stuff the cows’ systems were never designed to accommodate. We, the American people, with our oxymoronic national obsession with cheap abundance created one of the most lethal food-borne pathogens in nature, or are at least responsible for perverting nature to create the conditions that allowed it to evolve.

What I learned both disturbed and frightened me. … Once milk leaves the farm it goes to a processing plant where it is essentially remade during a process that few ever witness. A Los Angeles Times reporter made it into one such plant back in 2000 and describes the procedure:

:: First it is separated in centrifuges into fat, protein, and various other solids and liquids. Once segregated, these are reconstituted to various levels for whole, lowfat, and no-fat milks. What is left over will go to butter, cream, cheese, dried milk, and a host of other milk products. Of the reconstituted milks, whole milk will most closely approximate original cow’s milk. When fat is removed, it is replaced with protein- and vitamin-rich skimmed milk powder or concentrate. Standardization also ensures that the milk is consistent: that one glass of any given type tastes exactly like the next.::

The article goes on to state, “Once processed, the milk will last for weeks, not days.” Because of this extended shelf life … and the expensive facilities required to create it, milk processing has become increasingly centralized. … 70 percent of the nation’s milk supply is produced by four large corporations: Nearly one-third of America’s milk–30 percent–comes from one processor alone. Small family-owned dairy farms, which for centuries provided the nation’s milk supply on nearby pasture, have difficulty competing with factory-farmed milk. In 2002, 16 dairy farms went out of business each day, according to an article in U.S. News and World Report.

[later in the article, the author says “Currently, dairy farmers get about $1 per gallon for their milk–about the same earned at the close of World War II. If they were able to sell raw milk directly to consumers, they’d get about six times that amount.”]

Milk from cows fed on grain all or even most of the time has fewer beneficial components like omega-3 fatty acids, fewer beneficial microbes, and even reduced amounts of plain old protein and vitamins: All these occur in abundance in milk from grass-fed cows. To put it plainly, pasteurized or not, today’s industrially farmed milk from grain-fed cows kept in confinement facilities or grassless feedlots has fewer nutrients and more potential for contamination than milk from traditionally raised dairy cows.

Of course, there are still quality-conscious dairy farmers out there producing excellent milk from healthy herds for the conventional milk market, but, unfortunately, during processing their milk gets mixed in with that of the factory dairies’. Paying extra for organic milk may or may not ensure better quality; the only difference between the milk from Horizon Organics, which owns more than half of the nation’s organic milk market, and that from any feedlot dairy is that Horizon’s cows eat organic instead of conventionally grown grain while crowded together in their grassless pens, and when they get sick (as do many cows living in these conditions do; mastitis, for example, affects an estimated 40 percent of the U.S. dairy herd) they don’t get antibiotics–they get slaughtered.

The way conventional milk is processed doesn’t help matters. When milk is heated to 161 degrees for 15 seconds, as is done in HTST (high temperature short time) pasteurization, the process not only kills the bad bacteria but also the many beneficial (probiotic) bacteria that proliferate in raw milk, along with enzymes that aid in digesting and metabolizing the milk (hello, lactose intolerance) and infection-fighting antibodies. In addition, C- and B-complex vitamins and minerals like zinc and iron are reduced or destroyed through pasteurization. In fact, standard pasteurization reduces the calcium content of milk by 21 percent.

A newer and increasingly popular process, UHT (ultra-high temperature) pasteurization takes milk to 285 degrees Fahrenheit for two seconds, and then flash cools it. This process, also called ultrapasteurization, denatures milk even further than the standard method but extends its shelf life exponentially.

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A permaculturist explores the cultural affordances of foraging vs horticulture vs agriculture. Fascinating.


Even if we note these structural problems with agriculture, the shift from foraging at first glance seems worth it because—so we are taught—agriculture allows us the leisure to develop art, scholarship, and all the other luxuries of a sophisticated culture. This myth still persists even though for 40 years anthropologists have compiled clear evidence to the contrary. A skilled gatherer can amass enough wild maize in three and a half hours to feed herself for ten days. One hour of labor can yield a kilogram of wild einkorn wheat.(7) Foragers have plenty of leisure for non-survival pleasures. The art in the caves at Altamira and Lascaux, and other early examples are proof that agriculture is not necessary for a complex culture to develop. In fact, forager cultures are far more diverse in their arts, religions, and technologies than agrarian cultures, which tend to be fairly similar.(3) And as we know, industrial society allows the least diversity of all, not tolerating any but a single global culture.

The damage done by agriculture is social and political as well. A surplus, rare and ephemeral for foragers, is a principal goal of agriculture. A surplus must be stored, which requires technology and materials to build storage, people to guard it, and a hierarchical organization to centralize the storage and decide how it will be distributed. It also offers a target for local power struggles and theft by neighboring groups, increasing the scale of wars. With agriculture, power thus begins its concentration into fewer and fewer hands. He who controls the surplus controls the group. Personal freedom erodes naturally under agriculture.

Horticulture is the most efficient method known for obtaining food, measured by return on energy invested. Agriculture can be thought of as an intensification of horticulture, using more labor, land, capital, and technology. This means that agriculture, as noted, usually consumes more calories of work and resources than can be produced in food, and so is on the wrong side of the point of diminishing returns. That’s a good definition of unsustainability, while horticulture is probably on the positive side of the curve. Godesky (10) believes this is how horticulture can be distinguished from agriculture. It may take several millennia, as we are learning, but agriculture will eventually deplete planetary ecosystems, and horticulture might not.

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We have to get beyond this obsession with running the cars by other means. The future is not just about motoring. We have to make other arrangements comprehensively for all the major activities of daily life in this nation.

We’ll have to grow our food differently. The ADM/Monsanto/Cargill model of industrial-scale agribusiness will not survive … pouring oil-and-gas-based fertilizers and herbicides on the ground to grow all the cheez doodles and hamburgers. As oil and gas deplete, we will be left with sterile soils and farming organized at an unworkable scale. Many lives will depend on our ability to fix this.

We will find out the hard way that we can’t afford to dedicate our crop lands to growing grains and soybeans for ethanol and biodiesel. A Pennsylvania farmer put it this way to me last month: “It looks like we’re going to take the last six inches of Midwest topsoil and burn it in our gas tanks.” The disruptions to world grain supplies by the ethanol mania are just beginning to thunder through the system. Last months there were riots in Mexico City because so much Mexican corn is now being already being diverted to American ethanol production that poor people living on the economic margins cannot afford to pay for their food staples.

You can see, by the way, how this is a tragic extension of our obsession with running all the cars.

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