Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My first little book.

I write.

If I'm not writing here, I'm writing somewhere else. I've been writing pretty much nonstop for over a decade: fiction, nonfiction, opinion, brochures, fliers, fund-raising letters, web copy, all related to the animal question. I've compiled and analyzed lots of data and have seen it published here and there, though usually without my name attached to it.

Some time ago, a number of years ago actually, I came to the conclusion that so far as the animal question is concerned, persuasive argument is unlikely to be succsessful, by itself.

Six or eight years ago I wrote a little novela. I've shared it with others only sparingly; it is a terrible and violent little story.

Now that the University of Wisconsin has succeeded in blocking the establishment of a nonviolent, idea-driven antivivisection educational exhibit next door the Harlow Lab and the Primate Center, it seems like a good time to brainstorm other ways to call the public's attention to the details of our very cruel treatment of animals.

In any brainstormed list, there will be some ideas that are better than others, and some that aren't as good as others. In brainstorming, remember, essentially anything goes. So, what about violence? Not the ersatz violence that is so frequently reported -- a hose through the window, broken windows, late night calls -- but real violence, murder, let's say.

When, if ever, is murder justified?

Would you kill Hitler if you could go back in time?

How about the Boston Strangler?

How about this scenario: You come home and some really big man is raping your spouse or your child. A revolver is on the table. You pick it up and order the man to stop. He tells you to fuck off. You shoot him in the leg. He laughs and starts thrusting harder.

How about this: If we made HIV testing mandatory and we killed everyone who was HIV positive, we could eliminate HIV in short order. Think of the lives we could save.

It seems like murder might be an appropriate tool in some situations but not in others.

Trauma surgeon Jerry Vlasik has suggested, and I think he's right, that if just a few vivisectors were murdered that millions of animals might be spared much suffering. Many vivisectors would simply quit. I don't see how this isn't likely to be true; the hypothesis hasn't been tested though. It might be the same with furriers, ranchers, and others.

Extending this line of thought, if one were to start killing vivisectors in order to terrorize other vivisectors into stopping their diabolical investigations, should the murders be secret? sanitary? neat? Maybe not. It makes a certain sort of dark sense that one very sensational murder could have a greater impact than many hidden murders. There is an equation of sorts suggested by this. If it's true that a series of murders might slow the attack on animals in the labs, wouldn't lives be saved if the smallest number of murders possible were employed? What might be done to make one murder more noteworthy or a more efficient tool than another?

Murder. It's a strong word.

I'm self-publishing my little book. It explores this scenario in entertaining light fiction.

The perfect gift idea!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Richard Davidson

Mr. Compassion-For-All-Beings

On the cover of this week’s Isthmus, Madison’s weekly hip progressive what’s-happening newspaper is a large smiling visage of Richard Davidson. (I’ll edit this post and add a picture of the issue when they get it on line.)

The article is essentially the same one that Madison Magazine featured on their cover a while back. I can sum up both articles in a few words: Davidson (“call me Richie”) is “proving” by the use of brain scans that Tibetan Buddhist meditation, what he terms “compassion meditation,” changes one’s brain and one becomes a better person through this practice. And, as always, the Dalai Lama, Davidson’s personal friend, is mentioned throughout the article to add bona fides to Davidson’s claims.

Even people who know the unwritten about parts of Davidson’s career say the articles make them think he is a saint.

I will say it again: Davidson is a fraud, a cruel fraud.

You cannot make claims about compassion for all beings – as he does in his public performances – and torture animals - as he does behind closed doors - without being either insane or a fraud. If he's nuts, then I wish him well and hope he gets the help he needs. But he does not seem crazy to me. Evil, cruel, self-serving, arrogant, and a publicity whore, but not crazy. Am i too harsh? Maybe he is just uninformed?

Over a decade ago, he and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Ned Kalin and Steve Shelton, discovered an identifiable trait in a small minority of rhesus monkeys. They have described this trait in various ways, but it comes down to fearful. You may have known young children who are easily frightened, filled with anxiety, shy, and inhibited; the monkeys they learned how to identify through brain scans are just like those kids.

Once they had these monkeys in their control, they frightened them. (What else should one do with fearful young monkeys?) Then, they damaged their brains, frightened them again, and then killed them. And they have done this many times, and are still doing it.

And yet, adoring fans flock to his lectures and bask in his love for all.

Next thing you know, media won’t question a President’s justifications for bombing another country or going to war; business experts will say that the economy is healthy even as it begins to collapse. The United States doesn't torture people. Gullible drones. That’s us.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oregon Primate Center's PR

See: PETA complaints spur USDA warning to Oregon National Primate Research Center in Hillsboro
by Andy Dworkin, The Oregonian Thursday March 12, 2009, 2:40 PM

And http://www.ohsu.edu/ohsuedu/research/facts/olaw-communications.cfm This is one of the pages from there:
Video Clips

Here’s a video Clip which PETA received as part of their records request:


What is it?
The video shows a pair of young monkeys who live together in a paired cage. In the first part of the clip, one of the monkeys appears nervous. It is hunched over and rocking. Later in the video, both animals appear normal.

What does it show?
The video was shot by ONPRC's employees before PETA placed an infiltrator in the center. The video was shot by our behavioral sciences staff because one of the animals, named Cinder, was stress sensitive meaning that she appeared overly sensitive to changes in her surroundings. In this video she is reacting to the presence of the camera and caretakers in the room. Later, the video shows how she has adjusted over time. The video was filmed to better understand the problem and develop a plan to assist the animal. Today, Cinder is much less stress sensitive.

This existence of this video shows how OHSU’s primate center has dedicated staff who actively identify and assist animals in rare cases where they observe abnormal behavior. They do so by first observing the behavior, and then developing a plan to help the animal.

A little quiz: Watch carefully beginning at about 2:18. Why is the video edited at about 2:24?

Saturday, March 7, 2009


"We accept our responsibility to properly care for the animals housed at NIRC and to carry out biomedical research in strict compliance with professional guidelines
as well as federal rules and regulations." --- UL President Joe Savoie

Thursday, March 5, 2009


"We all operate in the same way."
-- Joseph Kemnitz, director, Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison.