Sunday, July 29, 2012

Risks. Chapter 14

The Risks of Empathy, a Novella

Chapter 14

Richard Selling had recognized the risk to Stan and Earnie as soon as he understood the government's intention toward the animal TEs. Selling had the inventors moved quietly into a new, well-hidden laboratory. When federal agents swooped in to take the scientists into custody, all they found was an empty building and a single TE recording disc.


Karen awoke when the sedan hit the rough road. The slight odor coming from the litter box down on the floorboard made her think of Harlow, and she started as she realized he wasn't lying on or next to her. But her slight worry disappeared as she sat up and saw the big orange cat curled up between the two people in the front seat. Out her window she saw sagebrush reaching to the horizon, while the other window and the front windshield framed forested mountains.

Karen turned and looked out the rear window and saw that they were being followed by large truck.

"How much longer?" Karen asked.

"Well, good morning," said the passenger who turned and put out her hand to Karen. "It'll be a couple more hours before we reach the camp, but we'll stop at one of the rodent barns first. My name's Sarah."

Karen shook her hand and caught the driver's eye in the rearview mirror. The man nodded to her and said, "I'm Harry. Harry Mahoney," but kept his eyes on the ruts and stones in the road.

Sarah leaned over and hit Harry in the shoulder. "Harry's an ex-cop. All business. You'll get used to him."

Karen looked out the window again saw half a dozen silhouettes on a low hill. "I think I just saw some ostriches!"

"It could have been the emus," said Sarah, "but they probably were ostriches. There are almost two hundred here now. They've been pretty easy to rescue. Most of the big ranches don't have guards and the birds are really docile at night and are easily herded into a truck. They seem to like it here, but I don't think anyone has listened in to one of them yet. Have they Harry?"

"I don't know," answered Harry.

They drove around another low hill and then stopped. Karen noticed that the road had stopped abruptly and she wondered what was going on. "I though we were stopping at a barn."

"This is it," said Sarah and as she was explaining that the hill in front of them was actually the top of a dome sunken into the earth, a large door opened and they drove into an expansive room that appeared to be a warehouse. The truck pulled in behind them and the door slid shut.

"You worked with rodents in that lab, didn't you Karen?" asked Sarah. "Come on, I'll show you around. You're going to love this."

"But what about Harlow?"

"He seems to like me OK," answered Harry. "He can hang out here with me until you get back."

As they walked along people said hello to Sarah and she introduced Karen to many of them. Karen saw carts loaded with plastic boxes with pale blue lids. The boxes held guinea pigs and hamsters and were being pushed along and toward a set of double doors. "Those are some of the animals you helped rescue Karen," said Sarah. "These guys were on a truck ahead of us. They'll be quarantined and spayed before they are released into population. Come on."

They stepped into a small room and the door closed behind them. A lock clicked, and a door on the other side of the room opened. "We have a double door system to keep them from getting out, but some of the little buggers manage to escape every now and then no matter what we do," laughed Sarah. "Watch where you step."

A dirt path greeted them as the entered, and almost immediately a small brown body scurried across and along a much narrower path that disappeared into the grass. "Let's sit over here," said Sarah and led them to a wooden bench. As soon as they sat down two squirrels appeared and one of them jumped up on the bench. "There's a rule about not hand feeding them, but it's pretty clear that not everyone follows it."

The squirrel sat for a while, seemed to give up and jumped down and vanished into the grass with the other squirrel close behind.

Karen was surprised by the sheer size of the park. Park seemed to describe it best. There were bushes, small trees, paths and well-mown grass. She noticed holes and little mounds of earth here and there. "Are those burrows?" she asked.

"Yes. The gerbils, hamsters, ground squirrels, and rabbits all burrow. The rats prefer to nest in the buildings, and the guinea pigs have nest boxes."

"What buildings?"

"Come on. Remember to watch your step."

As the women walked along the path, Sarah explained that the grass, which really wasn't mowed after all, and small plants, served to feed most of the dome's residents, but that grains and fruits were provided daily. Water flowed through a small shallow artificial stream, but sprinklers provided "rain" two days a week and kept the plants lush. The light was artificial. A population of flies, ants and other insects had established themselves and were eaten by some of the rodents.

"How many animals are in here?" asked Karen as two more squirrels stopped in the path and seemed to check out the possibility that the women had treats.

"About a hundred thousand in this barn. There is another barn about the same size nearby, but the big barn holds almost a million."

"Oh my God. I never imagined..."

"We don't have room for them all. Mr. Selling is trying to establish other sanctuaries around the world, but the number of refugees surpasses anything we might be able to provide. It's a real mess, and the fucking labs, the ones that haven't been burnt down yet, keep breeding more. No one knows what we are going to do."

A small flock of birds zipped by Karen's head. "What in the world?"

"They're larks. Some asshole was experimenting on their brains trying to discover how they learn their songs. He raised some in complete isolation and discovered that if they don't learn their songs early in life that they can't learn them later on. Big deal. Just what we need to know. There're about thirty of them in here. We didn't know what else to do with them. They don't know how to live in the wild anymore, but they seem to relish flying. Here're the rat buildings."

Buildings seemed like a funny word for the things Karen was looking at, but she could not think of a better one. The rat buildings were about six feet high and seemed to have nine or ten stories or levels. They were made of wood and no two looked alike. A new one was under construction. Karen saw balconies and holes in the walls leading to inner compartments. Some were blind alleys and some were interconnected. It was a village, or town with about a hundred or so of the buildings arranged rather randomly. Arial walkways connected some of them. The odor was exquisite.

"They are constantly gnawing and remodeling. We give them a new one every so often. Look over here." Sarah walked through the town and stopped at one of the, apparently, older buildings. "I know the rat who lives here, unless he's moved." She looked down at her watch, "It's still a little early-you won't believe how busy it gets in here at night; except for some of the squirrels, almost everyone is nocturnal-but Ratty might be willing to get up if he recognizes my voice."

Sarah knocked on one of the walls. She looked into a dark hole and called gently, "Ratty. Are you in there? Come see me."

A black nose appeared and twitched this way and that. A large black rat stepped out on the balcony, stretched, yawned widely displaying his long yellow teeth, and walked over to Sarah and sniffed her nose. "There you are!" said Sarah as she stroked his body. She put out her hand, and with no hesitation the rat crawled into her hand, up her arm and onto her shoulder. She took him in both hands and kissed him on top of the head. "Want to hold him?" she said to Karen and offered the rat to her.

Karen had understood, both intellectually and emotionally, the implications of the rat TE she had experienced over and over again in her apartment. Her understanding had led to her willingness to help these people break into Yu's facility and steal as many of the animals as they could. But she had never handled a rat or even a hamster or a guinea pig for any reason other than picking one up to break its neck. This big black rat that seemed anxious to get to her frightened her. "I don't know if..." she began, but it was too late. Sarah pushed the rat to her, and without effort the rat crawled up her chest and on to her shoulder and began rooting around in her hair and sniffing her ear. Karen was frozen.

Sarah watched for a few moments, seemed to understand Karen's reaction, and took the rat back. "He's great isn't he?" She set him on the balcony in front of his hole. He yawned again. "Come scratch his side. He loves it."

Sarah showed Karen where he liked to be ticked and Karen summoned up the courage to scratch the big rat. As she scratched around his ears and on top of his head, he closed his eyes and seemed to drift off. She thought back to her days in the lab, looked around rat town and around the park and then to the small animal who was trusting her to scratch his neck. Her life had taken a large u-turn.

"We better go," said Sarah, "you'll need to get your stuff and grab Harlow before we find you a place to bed down." The she reached into her pocket and pulled out a peanut still in the shell.

"Here, give him this, but don't tell anyone," she grinned. "By the way, if you come back here on your own later on, be very careful around the rats. Most of them will bite you as soon as look at you. Rat bites hurt like hell." She kissed Ratty on top of the head, said goodbye, and led Karen back along the path.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

40 Years of Veganism

I stopped eating animals during the summer of 1972. I think it fair to say that it's had a positive effect so far, and that the ramifications of my life choices will have incalculable future benefit. Unfortunately, I'm only 1 six billonth of the problems associated with having so many people on the planet.

Depending on where you look, figures on meat consumption in America can differ a little. But here's a fairly average report:

Each year, the average American eats about 110 lbs of red meat, including 62.4 lbs of beef and 46.5 lbs of pork. The average American eats 16.1 lbs of fish and shellfish and 32.7 lbs of eggs, and 63 lbs of chicken.

The average American eats about 31.4 lbs of cheese each year and drinks about 181 lbs of milk.

Cows going to slaughter weigh on average 900 to 1400 lbs. According to, "... suppose that an animal delivered to the packing plant weighs 1300 pounds. After being killed, the hide, head, feet and gut are removed. The carcass then weighs 767 pounds. The dressing percent of this animal would be 767 divided by 1300 multiplied by 100 equaling 59 percent. This '59 percent' represents the meat and skeletal portion of an animal compared to its live weight."

But then, the meat has to be cut from the bone. Roughly speaking, the weight of the meat from a cow, after cut up and made ready to sell at the grocery store is about half the weight of the live cow.

So, a little arithmetic: If the average American eats about 62.4 lb. of beef a year, and that is equivalent to about (62.4 lb. X 2) 124.8 lbs of live cow, then, the average American eats about 9% of a cow each year, assuming the average cow sent to slaughter weighs about 1150 lb (900 lb + 1400 lb / 2).

Because I stopped eating animals in 1972, it means that as of today, I have saved the lives of somewhere in the neighborhood of (40yrs X 9% of a cow) 3.6 cows, or about 4,992 lbs of beef.

According to National Geographic, that 4,992 lbs of beef I didn't eat, saved 8,980,608 gallons of water.

Using similarly Internet-based cobbled together figures like these: "With a market weight of 250 pounds and yield of 73.6 percent, the typical hog will a produce a 184-pound carcass. The carcass will yield approximately 140 pounds of pork and 44 pounds of skin, fat, and bone," I figure I've saved about one third of a pig's life a year, or 1860 lbs of pig overall, or about, 7.44 pigs. Not eating these pigs also saved 1,071,360 gallons of water.

I saved approximately 720 chickens and in so doing saved an additional 336,960 gallons of water.

By not drinking any milk, I saved an additional 5,491,367,619 gallons of water and about three fourths of a dairy cow. The cheese I didn't eat probably brought that up to more than a whole cow and adds in about another 700,000 gallons of water.

By not eating my 32.7 lbs of eggs every year, and figuring that the average egg weighs about two ounces, I didn't eat (32.7 X 16 / 2) about 261.6 eggs a year, or 10,464 over 40 years, and in the process, saved about 554,592 gallons of water and about 35 chickens.

This means then, that in the 40 years I've been a vegan, I've saved almost 5 cows, 7 pigs, 755 chickens, and about 6 billion gallons of water. And this is a conservative estimate that doesn't include any of the other costs associated with meat and animal by-product production.

What's more, because I decided a very long time ago that the major cause of most environmental problems is the number of people on the planet, I elected not to have any children. Assuming just for a moment that I had been an average American and had my two average children who hadn't been vegan, then by not having them, I also saved all the above times 2, and if each of them had 2 average kids, it would be that number of saved animals and water times 4, or, 42 billion gallons.

It's a small thing to some perhaps, but to the unnamed and abstract 5 cows, 7 pigs, and 755 chickens who would otherwise have been killed so that I could dine on their flesh, it probably isn't.

The New Watered-Down Version of Oversight of U.S. Government-Funded Experimentation on Animals

Challenge a vivisector on the horrible things they do to animals and like an electric-shock-induced conditioned response they immediately regurgitate undigested gibberish about the "stringent" oversight they are subject to.

A key element in their practiced litany is always a small book-length document named the Guide for the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. This document is so fundamental to the publicly-funded system of oversight that most institutions receiving public funding are required to promise in writing that everyone at their institution will adhere to the document's guidelines. This written promise is called the "Animal Welfare Assurance." You can read a slightly outdated version of UW-Madison's here.

The Guide for the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, generally referred to as the Guide, was recently revised. The previous edition contained clear unambiguous language regarding an institution's responsibility to adhere to state and local laws and regulations governing the care and use of animals.

Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (1996)

p. iii: "A footnote added to page 2 and referred to in three places reminds readers that the Guide is written for a broad international audience some of whom are not covered by either the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals or the Animal Welfare Regulations but that those who are covered by these rules must abide by them even when the Guide recommends a different approach. That admonition is provided throughout the Guide, but its placement in the Introduction was thought important."

Indicating that the authors intended that statements in the Introduction are important.


p. 2: Introduction: "Animal facilities and programs should be operated in accord with this Guide, the Animal Welfare Regulations, or AWRs (CFR 1985); the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, or PHS Policy (PHS 1996); and other applicable federal (Appendixes C and D) state, and local laws, regulations, and policies." [my emphasis throughout]


p. 8: Chapter 1. First sentence of paragraph 2: "Each institution should establish and provide resources for an animal care and use program that is managed in accord with this Guide and in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations..."

Again and clearly -- and at the very outset -- stating the paramount importance of compliance with all applicable laws.


p. 10: "After review and inspection, a written report, signed by a majority of the IACUC, should be made to the responsible administrative officials of the institution on the status of the animal care and use program and other activities as stated herein and as required by federal, state, or local regulations and policies."

This seems to imply that the IACUC is required to let the administrative officials of the institution know whether or not the program is operating in accord with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

But this hardly matters given the clear statements above and their prominent placement in the document.


All reference to state, and local laws and regulations regarding animal use have been stripped from the new edition. A free pdf is available. You can search through it yourself.

If you search using the phrase local laws you will discover that the use of the phrase is reserved for references to local laws concerning the health and safety of the humans working around animals. I mentioned this on Rock Talk, Dr. Sally Rockey's blog. Rockey is the NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research. The response was that an institution's required adherence to state, and local laws and regulations is still implied. And then that short discussion was deleted.

The loss of clear language about having to adhere to state and local laws and regulations guts the Guide. Just prior to the rewrite's adoption we discovered that the University of Wisconsin, Madison had been violating the state law for a number of years -- clear unambiguous cases of not following the Guide as they promised to do year after year in their PHS "Animal Welfare Assurance." They staged fights between animals and killed others by means of decompression -- both outlawed in Chapter 951 of the Wisconsin Statutes. After having their long term violations exposed, the university ordered the state legislature to exempt them from the statute, and of course, they did. But the federal government didn't bat an eye over their repeated violations of state law, making it clear that an Assurance, and thus the system that rests upon it, doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

And while the governments apparent lack of concern over an institution's failure to adhere to their Assurance that it will follow the Guide could be construed to mean that any changes to the Guide are unimportant, this particular change officially gets vivisectors off the hook and releases institutions from even having to continue pretending to be familiar with state and local laws and regulations.

I was going to go on here about the problems that plague the oversight system and expose it as a sham, but in the process of looking something up, one of the first hits I got was to something I wrote a few years ago, so rather than continue here, I direct you to my essay: "Oversight".

Sunday, July 22, 2012

James Holmes was apparently a vivisector

No surprises here:
James Holmes was rejected for gun-range membership

Originally published: July 22, 2012 2:50 PM
Updated: July 22, 2012 5:07 PM

.... In a resume posted on, Holmes listed himself as an "aspiring scientist" and said he was looking for a job as a laboratory technician.

The resume, first obtained in Holmes' home state of California by The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, paints a picture of a brilliant young man brimming with potential: He worked as a summer intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in 2006 and mapped the neurons of Zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside.

2500 Beagles Bred to be Experimented on are Seized by Italian Authorities

First, review some background info here:
1000+ Italian Activists Liberate Beagle Puppies in Daylight Raid

Now this. Wow.There has been very little and only spotty coverage of this event by the English-speaking media. Here's a secondary source of info, and another with photos from inside Green Hill during the seizure.

Risks. Chapter 13

The Risks of Empathy, a Novella

Chapter 13

Karen placed her hand on the palm reader and heard the door’s automatic lock slide open. She held the door as the five darkly clad figures slipped inside. She knew, and had told them earlier, that there was nothing she could do about the video surveillance in the halls.

She led them quietly and surely to the security center where one of them placed a small plastic explosive on the door, even as the guard inside was calling for help on the intercom. The door blew open, two people rushed inside and Karen heard a muffled pop. She never heard a word from the guard.

Karen left them and ran through the hall to the employee locker room to grab her few belongings. As she was passing Yu’s office, the door opened and the scientist looked out to see what was causing the commotion. Without thought and not knowing why she was doing it, she put her hand on Yu’s chest and pushed him back into the office and closed the door behind her.

“You better stay in here Dr. Yu. There are terrorists in the building, and I think someone’s already been hurt.”

Yu looked at Karen with some confusion, then he seemed to understand what she said.

“Yes. I will stay here. Security must be called.”

“They’ve been called already, Dr. Yu.”

Karen and Yu heard shouts and what sounded like a gun. “I don’t know what these people are thinking,” said Yu. “This is a scientific laboratory. We are scientists!”

“We’d better hide! Let’s get under your desk,” said Karen as she pulled out the chair.

Yu and Karen got down on their hands and knees and crawled into the space under Yu’s large desk. They were both fairly small, and once under the desk, they had room to sit across from each other. It was close and intimate, but they weren’t crushed together. They heard more shouts and more gunshots. Karen noticed that Yu was sweating and that his normally immaculate combed-back black hair had become a bit disheveled. Yu seemed to be aware of this and kept trying to smooth his hair down by using his fingers as a comb. His hand was getting oilier with every pass through hair.

“If we just stay here I am sure we will be safe,” said Yu, but his jerky response to the noises that seemed now to be coming from the hall outside and the floor above belied his spoken assurance.

“What do they want, Dr. Yu? Why are they here?” asked Karen, wondering what was going through Yu’s mind.

“They are the animal people,” said Yu, as if this answered everything.

“But what do they want, doctor?”

“The animals. They think the animals are people. They are crazy. It is those animal TEs.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Haven’t you seen them? Karen? Your name is Karen?” Yu seemed finally to realize who she was.

“Yes Dr. Yu. I’m your lab assistant, Karen Brown. I’ve been your assistant for the past four months.”

“Of course, “ said Yu. “Sometimes I have a hard time remembering names. You are the one who asked be about liver transplants.”

“That’s right, but no, I haven’t seen the animals TEs,” Karen lied. “Have you? What are they like?”

Yu looked at his knees folded and just touching Karen’s. “They are... interesting, but little more. I watched one about a rat. The rat was in the dark, it was a dull creature, there was a fight with another rat. It meant nothing.”

“I heard there were many of them,” she coaxed.

“Yes. There were nine made. Dog, cat, cow, pig, chimpanzee, rat, elephant, dolphin, and chicken. I watched them all.”

“So they were nothing?” asked Karen.

Yu kept his attention on their knees. He continued to readjust his coiffure. He appeared to be in meditation.

“Dr. Yu?”

Yu started and seemed to refocus on Karen’s question. “The chimpanzee was a little surprising. She was alone and seemed almost unaware of all the people who walked by her cage. She thought of the forest and seemed to remember other chimpanzees that might have once been her family. She didn’t seem to realize that she chewed on her arm all of the time.”

Yu cleared his voice and bumped his head on the bottom of the desk when a small explosion shook the building gently.

“One thing that surprised me was that she seemed to be able to read a little...”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, this is odd, but she knew that the popcorn boxes said Popcorn on them. It wasn’t that she knew there was popcorn in the boxes, which she did, but that she actually read the word. She heard ‘popcorn’ in her mind when she took the time to notice the people starring at her and what was in their hands. It was very human-like.”

Karen didn’t know what to say, and didn’t know why she was under the desk with Yu. “Aren’t there monkeys here at the Institute?”

Yu snapped to, “Yes. Of course there are. We are using them in the transplantation experiments. You know that.”

“Well, after what you have told me about the chimpanzee...” her voice quavered slightly, “don’t you think that, maybe, we shouldn’t be using them in the experiments?”

Yu looked Karen in the eyes, “We are scientists. Even if these animals are like us, what does that matter? We must learn. We must progress. We are human they are animal!”

Yu’s eyes seemed to be bugging out, he had given up on his hair; a small bit of spittle was foaming in the corner of his mouth. Karen thought he was about to explode when the door burst open and a guard was shouting into the room, “Dr Yu! Dr. Yu! Are you in here?”

Yu yelled back, “Yes we are here!”

Yu crawled out first and Karen heard the guard say, “It was one of the junior scientists who let them in, most of the animals are gone.”

Karen crawled out behind Yu, and bolted through the door even as the guard yelled after her, “Hey! That’s her! Stop her!”

But she was gone and down the hall and out the door before anyone could. A dark car drove up and she jumped through the open door into the back seat. The door slammed shut and the car drove away at an unconcerned and unremarkable pace. Harlow crawled into her lap and began to purr; a voice from the front said, “Good job. We wondered why you took so long though. Try to get some rest now. We won’t get to the ranch until morning.”

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Risks. Chapter 12

The Risks of Empathy, a Novella

Chapter 12

The backlash began almost immediately. An underground network dealing in copies of Selling TEs and Selling TE receiver clones popped into existence almost before the government got their replacement broadcasts on the air. Just like the old days when alcohol and narcotics were illegal, prohibition brought with it a black-market boom. Prior to the ban, black-marketers were dealing only in the seediest recordings: murders, rapes, torture; and the market was limited to the same sliver of humanity that has always found such immorality scintillating.

And, as with all the other failed attempts at prohibition, its result was the exposure of good people to the dark undercurrents of human behavior, crime, and depravity.

And people were recognizing that the truth behind the Selling ban had nothing to do with any medical risk; the ban was aimed entirely at limiting access to the Selling animal TEs.

And more people were pointing this out.

And more people were asking questions.

And the government’s credibility was further undermined.

And the violence spread....


The open stock truck turned off the shimmering asphalt highway onto a gravel road and stopped. The road showed the effects of much recent travel. A washboard of gravel and dust stretched into the distance ahead and pointed toward a range of mountains with their peaks still brushed with snow.

Two camouflage fatigue-dressed people with mean-looking assault weapons in their hands appeared and approached the truck, one on the driver’s side and one on the passenger side. Their faces were hidden by the netting that hung down from their helmets.

The window on the driver’s side lowered and a woman leaned out. "Hey, how y’all doin'? These guys must be mighty thirsty by now. I need to get 'em some water pretty soon."

In the back of the truck fifty or so obviously nervous ostriches were crammed together. Their eyes were wide and they all had their beaks open and appeared to be panting.

"Sarah," said the guard on her side, "I can’t believe you make these runs alone. You’re just asking for trouble." The guard pulled the netting up over his helmet and gave her a big grin. "You know the way. Get those birds out of here."

And with that, the ostriches began the last bumpy leg of their journey to refuge within the reaches of the HtH Timber and Cattle Company.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Slimy Institutions Have Similar M.O.s

Penn State to renovate showers, locker room where Sandusky abused boys
By NBC News and news services

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State plans to renovate the building where Jerry Sandusky sexually molested boys, a university spokesman said Friday.

David La Torre said that Penn State plans to remodel the football shower and locker room area as a direct result of Sandusky's crimes.
Readers of this blog and other informed people may notice the parallel between PSU and UW-Madison razing the scene of a crime.

PR spin-doctors understand the media and public's chronic amnesia after evidence and reminders of wrong doing are swept under the rug.

At PSU, no one will be able to point out the spot in the shower where Sandusky sodomized young boys over the years. At the Dane County Vilas Zoo, visitors see no reminders of UW-Madison's repeatedly broken written promises to the County promising not to use monkeys from the very large monkey house (the Roundhouse, it was called) because -- after the university broke its promises yet again by shipping the monkeys to a lab -- they bulldozed the building to the ground.

Slimy unethical dickheads tend to act in similarly slimy dickhead ways in similar situations. What a surprise.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Penn State Lesson

or, What Most People Won't Learn From the Penn State Affair...
The factual conclusions of the investigation of Pennsylvania State University’s cover-up of serial sex crimes by one of its former football coaches are searing enough: the university’s leaders did nothing for nearly a decade and a half — from the late-1990s until just recently — while a predator trawled for children in their midst, using the school’s football program as a lure. Worse than that ... the school’s leaders worked diligently to conceal significant facts about the case from the authorities, the board of trustees, the university community and the broader public.

But the exhaustive investigation by Louis J. Freeh, a former federal judge and F.B.I. director, goes much further. It shows how slavish devotion to some institutional imperative can trump everything, including the law, basic human decency and the bedrock obligation we all have to protect defenseless children from harm. At Penn State, the imperative was protecting a storied football program and its legendary coach. In another huge institution betraying children under its protection, the Roman Catholic Church, it was the sanctity of the priesthood....
The quote above is from a New York Times story.

Here's the question: If university officials are willing to cover up and even facilitate the serial sexual predation of children, how likely is it that they give an iota of thought to the vivisection occurring on their campus? I'll wager that the answer is obvious.

Why would presumably otherwise decent people cover up years of sexual predation on children? The answer ought to jump out and bite you. The reason is money. Money. That's it. Money... the undeniable corrupter of everything good.

If senior and other staff at Penn State were willing to protect a serial child sex preditor for so long, how likely is it that university ACUC members, university senior staff, and everyone else involved are willing to cover up the hideous cruelty occurring in university labs? I'll wager that it is certain. 100% likely.

What this ought to suggest to most informed observers is that no one associated with the massive inflow of tax dollars flowing into the nation's universities can be trusted. No one. The amount of money is simply overwhelming. Completely overwhelming.

I think a very few people might be able to stand up to such a compelling enticement and do the right thing, but not very many. And people who consistently acquiesce to, sanction, and defend clearly worthless "science" and thereby condone matter-of-fact cruelty, aren't part of that very tiny group of stiff-spined people.

UW-Madison recently hyped the fact that it broke the $1 billion level in research funding. Penn State's football program brought in less that 7% of that amount.

If a university president and a university culture are willing to shelter child sexual predators for such a relatively small amount, how likely is it that they would defend a program bringing in so much more?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cruel Gibberish Masquerades as Science...

or, What Idiot Thinks this Cruel Nonsense Ought to be Supported with Taxpayers' Money while People Go Without Healthcare, and are Forced to Live in their Cars?

It was just over five years ago, Saturday, June 23, 2007, to be exact, that I first referenced the work of Allyson Joy Bennett. I mentioned a presentation/poster at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society of Primatologists she co-authored. It was titled LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF EARLY REARING ENVIRONMENT ON BEHAVIORAL ACTIVITY IN ADULT MALE RHESUS MONKEYS (MACACA MULATTA).

I mentioned her again on May 11, 2012, in an essay titled Mothers Day Canceled. In that essay I mistakenly accused her of maternally depriving baby rhesus monkeys for her currently funded project at UW-Madison. I followed up with two essays on May 28, Speaking of Research and morality and Speaking of Research? Not so much.

Then, on June 3, I explained the events that contributed to my confusion and shared some of the university's responses to my still unfulfilled request for the approved protocol that insiders say does indeed include maternally depriving infant rhesus monkeys of maternal contact and care. That essay is Bennett, Kalin, Maternal Deprivation, and Me.

The rest of this particular essay is a criticism of Bennett's currently funded project as described in her currently approved protocol which you can view here.

There are two distinct elements of most basic research using animals that should be considered when trying to arrive at an informed conclusion about a particular project: 1. Is the science sound? 2. Are the animals harmed, and if so, is the information being sought significant enough to counterbalance the harm being done to them.

Question number 2 is polarizing; the answer may lay outside any commonly-held moral calculus. In my opinion, the only fair measure of the experimental use of most commonly used species would have to include an equal willingness to perform the same experiment on a human if the results would be more applicable by doing so. In the opinion of most supporters of the status quo, any funded study -- by definition -- is seeking information significant enough to warrant any approved use of animals.

Question number 1 ought to be less polarizing, but in fact often isn't. Nevertheless, certain elements in question 1 can be examined more or less dispassionately and some reasonable observations concerning it can be made.

Bennett explains her justification for this project:
The goal of this research is to determine how different experiences in infancy affect aspects of behavior, cognition, brain morphology and health across the lifespan.
She goes on to say that:
This work is important for advancing our understanding of factors that contribute to individual differences in both human and laboratory animal health. Human studies provide strong evidence of the deleterious consequences of early childhood stress. What is far less clear—but critically important to research aimed at developing strategies to improve human health—is the specific mechanisms by which these changes occur, how they unfold across the lifespan, and which changes are long-lasting in absence of additional, or cascading, adverse events. Understanding these and other aspects of the consequences of a range of childhood adverse experiences is essential to developing treatment and intervention strategies.
This has to be read with the actual question she is answering in mind:
In straight-forward, nonmedical, nontechnical language that would be understandable to a layperson (aim for a high school-senior reading level), outline the specific scientific goal(s) and significance of this research. Be convincing as to why this work is important for advancement of knowledge, improving human or animal health, or for the good of society...
Bennett's answer -- her effort to be "convincing" -- isn't.

She says that human studies provide strong evidence of the deleterious consequences of early childhood stress and that's very true. Real life events have provided an overwhelmingly larger more meaningful body of evidence of the deleterious consequences of early childhood stress as well as insights into "the consequences of additional, or cascading, adverse events." The best known most widely written about and studied examples are the so-called Ceausescu orphans. I urge readers to Google this topic: Romania orphans.

Scientific studies of the children from the Romanian orphanages abound. The Bucharest Early Intervention Project has resulted at least 23 papers since 2003, including these titles:

Recovering from early deprivation: attachment mediates effects of caregiving on psychopathology.

Early adversity and neural correlates of executive function: Implications for academic adjustment.

Alterations in Neural Processing and Psychopathology in Children Raised in Institutions.

Effect of foster care on language learning at eight years: Findings from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project.

When is research socially valuable? Lessons from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project: commentary on a case study in the ethics of mental health research.

The Bucharest Early Intervention Project: case study in the ethics of mental health research.

Genetic sensitivity to the caregiving context: The influence of 5httlpr and BDNF val66met on indiscriminate social behavior.

Commentary: handling long-term attrition in randomised controlled field trials: lessons from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project and reflections on Fox et al. (2011).

Effect of foster care on young children's language learning.

Telomere length and early severe social deprivation: linking early adversity and cellular aging.

Psychiatric outcomes in young children with a history of institutionalization.

The effects of severe psychosocial deprivation and foster care intervention on cognitive development at 8 years of age: findings from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project.

Modification of depression by COMT val158met polymorphism in children exposed to early severe psychosocial deprivation.

Effects of early psychosocial deprivation on the development of memory and executive function.

A new model of foster care for young children: the Bucharest early intervention project.

Cognitive recovery in socially deprived young children: the Bucharest Early Intervention Project.

Language acquisition with limited input: Romanian institution and foster care.

The discrimination of facial expressions by typically developing infants and toddlers and those experiencing early institutional care.

An event-related potential study of the impact of institutional rearing on face recognition.

Attachment in institutionalized and community children in Romania.

Others have and continue to study the people who spent their early years in these institutions:

5HTT genotype moderates the influence of early institutional deprivation on emotional problems in adolescence: evidence from the English and Romanian Adoptee (ERA) study. Kumsta R, Stevens S, Brookes K, Schlotz W, Castle J, Beckett C, Kreppner J, Rutter M, Sonuga-Barke E. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2010 Jul;51(7):755-62. Epub 2010.

Dopamine transporter gene polymorphism moderates the effects of severe deprivation on ADHD symptoms: developmental continuities in gene-environment interplay. Stevens SE, Kumsta R, Kreppner JM, Brookes KJ, Rutter M, Sonuga-Barke EJ. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2009.

A longitudinal study of the physical growth and health of postinstitutionalized Romanian adoptees. Le Mare L, Audet K. Paediatr Child Health. 2006.

Influence of institutionalization on time to HIV disease progression in a cohort of Romanian children and teens. Ferris M, Burau K, Constantin AM, Mihale S, Murray N, Preda A, Ross M, Kline MW. Pediatrics. 2007.

Abnormal brain connectivity in children after early severe socioemotional deprivation: a diffusion tensor imaging study. Eluvathingal TJ, Chugani HT, Behen ME, Juhász C, Muzik O, Maqbool M, Chugani DC, Makki M. Pediatrics. 2006.

Daniela's legacy. Nurturing Romanian orphans. Farruggia M. J Christ Nurs. 2003.

Local brain functional activity following early deprivation: a study of postinstitutionalized Romanian orphans. Chugani HT, Behen ME, Muzik O, Juhász C, Nagy F, Chugani DC. Neuroimage. 2001.

Romania's forgotten children. SoRelle R. J Int Assoc Physicians AIDS Care. 1998.

The Romanian pediatric AIDS initiative. Kline MW. J Int Assoc Physicians AIDS Care. 1998.

Analysis of environmental deprivation: cognitive and social development in Romanian orphans. Kaler SR, Freeman BJ. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1994.

Foster care and adoption policy in Romania: suggestions for international intervention. Johnson AK, Edwards RL, Puwak H. Child Welfare. 1993.

Caring for the Romanian orphans. Vigilante K. R I Med. 1993.

Neuropsychiatric assessment of orphans in one Romanian orphanage for 'unsalvageables'. Rosenberg DR, Pajer K, Rancurello M. JAMA. 1992.

Chronic hepatitis B in adopted Romanian children. Zwiener RJ, Fielman BA, Squires RH Jr. J Pediatr. 1992.

Lighting a candle in the Romanian darkness. Gallagher T. Med War. 1992.

Literally hundreds of children born and raised in severely socially and environmentally deprived conditions have been and are being studied in a variety of environments. The notion that Bennett's study of six monkeys will or even could lead to "strategies to improve human health" that haven't been already discovered or will be more likely to be discovered more readily as a result of longitudinal studies of humans is ludicrous in the face of the flow of information resulting from the longitudinal studies of the Ceausescu orphans.

If such a large number of children born and raised in severely deprived conditions are already being studied, why doesn't Bennett either study those individuals or leave the research to others? How does she justify a need for monkeys as stand-ins for socially deprived humans? She was required to answer this question in her protocol: "Specifically justify the use of animals for this research." This is what she said:
Animal models are critical to this effort for a number of reasons. Among them are obvious ethical prohibitions that preclude humans from many of the studies needed to identify mechanisms and to evaluate potential treatment and intervention strategies.
This is just more gibberish, and to the extent that it makes any sense whatsoever is just silly and wrong. She says later on that she will do three different things in her study: have the monkeys solve puzzles, keep track of how much they move around, and periodically scan their brains. She says that nothing she plans to do to the monkeys will cause more than momentary slight discomfort or stress. So what is it that she is doing that would be obviously unethical to do to humans? Why does she need monkeys?

The only thing she is doing to the monkeys that would be unethical to do to humans is keeping them in solitary confinement. She claims that doing this won't cause them more than momentary slight distress, but this too is wrong. In fact, a wealth of data demonstrates unequivocally that individually housing rhesus monkeys has deleterious consequences. In one study of 362 individually housed rhesus monkeys, 321 exhibited at least one abnormal behavior. (Stereotypic and self-injurious behavior in rhesus macaques: a survey and retrospective analysis of environment and early experience. Lutz C, Well A, Novak M. Am J Primatol. 2003.)

Bennett continues trying to support her claim that her six monkeys will be better more productive subjects of study than the hundreds of people being studied over their lifetimes who were raised in the Romanian orphanages:
The strength and unique opportunity offered by studies of middle-aged monkeys who vary in early infant experiences emerges most clearly when viewed against background consideration of the range of variation in human experiences. Thus, the results of our studies contribute important information about how early life events influence individual differences in a wide range of behavioral, neural and physiological processes that are essential to healthy development across the lifespan.

There are no non-animal alternatives that could be used to address the questions under study here.
If the actual background considerations that her monkeys are being forced to endure were not so absolutely bleak, her claim would be merely laughable, but the reality is that the twelve monkeys she is using -- six who were raised with a mother, six without -- are being forced to live alone in an environment that cannot result in their "healthy development across the lifespan."

I particularly like her statement: "[T]he results of our studies contribute important information..." Such hubris.

What's even more pitiful than her wild claims is the fact that people who themselves claim publicly to carefully evaluate the importance of a project before approving the use of animals signed off on this repetitively cruel wasteful nonsense.

I'll give Allyson Joy Bennett the last word:
These animals will be individually-housed. The animals are 15 years old and over the course of that time have been housed in different settings. In infancy the animals were housed either in social groups with their mothers, other infants and adults or in small age-mate peer groups. Through the juvenile and early adolescent period the animals were socially-housed in small groups or pairs. As is typical and expected for male macaques, aggression and injuries increased during adolescence (4-6 years of age) and some animals were not able to be safely maintained in compatible groups or pairs. Animals who were involved in aggressive encounters that resulted in significant serious injuries requiring veterinary intervention were individually housed within visual and olfactory distance of other monkeys and with an extensive environmental enrichment program.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Risks. Chapter 11

The Risks of Empathy, a Novella

Chapter 11

In its heyday HtH Cattle and Timber had been the largest range-fed beef-producing outfit west of the Atlantic Ocean. Its one hundred seventeen thousand acres was massive by any standards even if much of it was arid semi-desert. Its grandiose size gave it its name, Horizon to Horizon, and the original owner liked to falsely boast that the sun never set on HtH.

The property’s size made parts of it very remote and generally unknown, even to its neighboring ranchers. There was a small valley near the center of the property that was protected by mountains on three sides. A small spring-fed stream came out of the mountains, ran through the valley, and formed a small lake that marked the valley’s edge. The small lake slowly evaporated in the dry air of the desert at just about the same rate that the stream kept it filled. In the valley, between the mountains and the lake, nature had contrived to create a microclimate that pine trees and firs found to their liking. Native grasses clung to life as they competed with the exotic grasses that had taken over the West. All in all, the valley was green, cool in the summer, surprisingly mild in the winter, and home to many animals.

It was in this valley, twenty years ago, that Richard Selling had built his hideaway. He had bought HtH simply because of the valley. He had mentioned his purchase to very few people, had bought it through a shell company that quietly transferred title to him just before it went out of business, and to the degree he was able to, he had kept the location very private.

The cabin, as Selling referred to it, was simple but sophisticated. The cabin’s south façade was mostly glass and overlooked the lake and the desert beyond. It acted as a solar collector and helped warm the building during the cold months of winter. The other rooms had views of mountains and forests reaching up into them; snow clung to the mountaintops throughout much of the summer, offering a cooling vista on hot summer days. The cabin appeared to have grown in place. Its worn silvered wood exterior had been chosen carefully to blend in with the terrain and surrounding forest; the shingles were dark and lined with moss. Two chimneys rose from the roof. They were made of stone that matched the color of the peaks guarding the valley. From the air, it was easy to overlook the cabin due to its easy fit in the valley, just as Selling had wanted it to be.

As gentle and nondescript as the cabin was from the outside, it was state of the art telecommunications and security on the inside. Two of Selling Inc.’s geosynchronous communication satellites relayed continuous data streams to the cabin from news outlets around the world. A third satellite, listed as space junk in all the federal and commercial catalogs, maintained a dedicated comlink with the rest of the planet’s communication system via highly encrypted code. As much as Selling enjoyed his semi-reclusive lifestyle, Selling Inc. had become a giant in world commerce specifically because Selling himself kept a watchful eye on the economic and political climate of the market and could respond instantly when need be.

Now, two weeks to the day after he had listened to the White House’s excuses for why they were going to put Selling Inc. out of business, Richard Selling sat in his cabin and watched the news from around the world on seven holoscreens; five of them were all saying pretty much the same thing: the United States government had banned the Selling TE, had criminalized sale of Selling TEs, was blocking all Selling TE transmissions, was warning current users against their use due to the discovery that extended exposure to the transmissions would cause irreparable dementia over time, that the Government had set up an exchange program to replace the Selling product with a safe government-tested version, and that there was no cause for alarm unless users had already begun to experience the headaches that were the first sign of the progressive irreparable dementia, and finally, that clinics were being supplied with a vaccine that could reverse the earliest damage, if caught in time. Medics were standing by at all government sanctioned clinics.

The other two holoscreens were featuring the collapse of Selling Inc’s stock price.


The old recliner’s stuffing had made piece with Rita’s curves and bulges many years ago; they fit together as neatly as a body and its skin.

She was walking along the Boulevard de Raspail in Paris, just window shopping and taking in the foreign scents and language. She had gotten over the strangeness of recognizing the meaning of foreign words sometime ago. She drifted into a little coffee shop on a corner, ordered an espresso at the counter and took it outside to a small table and sat watching the foot traffic on the busy street. Students walked by, a woman selling flowers, shoppers with bags filled with packages and fresh produce peeking out. Music was wafting through the warm light breeze. She picked up the small demitasse and inhaled the rich aroma and ... suddenly, she was no longer in Paris, but was instead standing in a featureless room with a fairly attractive middle aged man in a gray suit standing in from of her.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “We apologize for the sudden intrusion. My name is Dr. Frank Jones, I represent the U.S. Virtual Broadcasting Network.

“The Surgeon General has determined that the Selling Total Experience transmissions may be hazardous to your health. In the interest of public safety, the government will replace all Selling TEs with government tested and approved virtual experiences. This new service will be provided by the U.S. Virtual Broadcasting Network. It is our sincere desire to provide you with the best in safe virtual experience.

“Your Selling TE receiver may be exchanged, free of charge, for a new VBN receiver at any government broadcasting office.

“All Selling TE receivers and any broadcast recordings must be replaced within seventy-two hours. If you are unable to visit a U.S. Virtual Broadcasting Network office in person, your Selling TE receiver may be deposited in any U.S. Postal mail deposit box along with a postcard with the receiver’s serial number and your signature.

“As of January 1, 2160, personal possession or viewing of the Selling TE will be deemed a Class A Felony. Conviction of this offense may result in a $5,000 fine, imprisonment of up to fives years in a federal penitentiary, or both. Sale or other distribution of a Selling TE receiver or a recording of a Selling TE may be punishable by a $10,000 fine or imprisonment of up to ten years in a federal penitentiary, or both.

“I apologize again, for the intrusion. All Selling TE transmissions are hereby cancelled by order of the Surgeon General.

“The U.S. Virtual Broadcasting Network looks forward to serving you and providing you with entertaining and safe virtual experiences in the future. Thank you."

There was a slight flicker and he began again, “Don’t be alarmed. We apologize for the sudden intrusion. My name is Dr. Frank Jones, I represent the Surgeon General of the United States of America...”

Rita reached down to the receiver in her lap and changed the channel, “Don’t be alarmed. We apologize for the sudden intrusion ...”.

She worked her way through the channels and found the same dull gray room and the same dull monologue on every one. Rita leaned the recliner forward and sat for awhile wondering about the message. She glanced over at the old clock hanging on the wall and decided she might as well walk down to Jim’s Lounge.

The meaning of love

Context and intent make all the difference when it comes to a word’s meaning. Consider these sentences:

“Everything we do is defined by love and compassion for our children.”

“Everything we do is defined by love and compassion for our animals.”

These sentences seem on their face to be parallel in meaning and in certain contexts they are, in others, they aren't. It matters whose mouth they come out of.

“Everything we do is defined by love and compassion for our animals” is something one might naturally expect to hear from a sanctuary director or an animal rescue organization.

But, “Everything we do is defined by love and compassion for our animals” is something that might also be said by a dairy farmer – someone who takes baby cows away from their mothers a few days after they are born – causing the calves and the cows great anguish. This doesn’t seem to be a case of what most people would call love or compassion; it’s more a case of money I think, the love of money.

“Everything we do is defined by love and compassion for our animals” is something that might be said by someone in the circus – someone who keeps their elephants chained in place for most of their lives, who uses a bull-hook to hurt and intimidate them into instant obedience. This doesn’t seem to be a case of love or compassion either; it’s another case of the love of money.

“Everything we do is defined by love and compassion for our animals” is in fact something said by Cindy A. Buckmaster, Director, Center for Comparative Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

She is also deeply involved in directing the vivisection industry's propaganda machine: she is a member of the Texas Society for Biomedical Research Board of Directors; she is the newly elected Vice-President of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science Board of Trustees; and she a member of the Board of Directors of the Americans for Medical Advancement.

Buckmaster went on at some length about her “love” for animals in the June issue of Lab Animal, a thin mean magazine:
You have called for a campaign of visibility from the lab animal science community. Why is this issue so important to you?

Everything we do is defined by love and compassion for our animals and everyone who benefits from the life-changing work they support. Animal-based research is deeply misunderstood by the public, and the philosophy of sticking our head in the sand and not talking about what we're doing has supported this misunderstanding. The activists are waging a campaign with the public that is based in emotion, while most of our responses are grounded in reason. We go on and on about why our work is important and how it improves lives, and half of Americans still do not support us. That's because that isn't what they want to know. What they really want us to tell them is that the activists are lying to them about how we feel about our animals. They want to know that we value and care about them. They want to know that we treat them with compassion and respect, and they need to know that our work is a labor of love for all living things. The selfless nature of this love is extraordinary and uncommon; we are heroes.

As society learns who we are, through conversations and images depicting our expertise and compassion, the activists' claims will lose validity. We don't have to argue with them; all we have to do is share our truth. Every time I meet someone who asks me what I do, I tell them about our technicians and their devotion to our animals. I tell them about the special relationships they develop with our animals and the grief they experience when they're gone. And I tell them that they do all of this because they love animals and people. Some of them cry. Some of them hug me. All of them thank me for making them feel better about our work. That's really the shift in the culture I'm trying to effect, and that shift will change everything.
It’s hard to know with certainty what the Center for Comparative Medicine actually is and does since the “Center” doesn’t seem to have an official web page, but “comparative medicine” is a common euphemism for vivisection. See for instance the UC-Davis Center for Comparative Medicine, the Northwestern University Center for Comparative Medicine, or the Harvard Center for Comparative Medicine. I think it somewhat fair to say that Cindy Buckmaster is the Director of Baylor College of Medicine’s vivisection program.

Cindy Buckmaster’s history with monkeys doesn’t seem to have been a love fest in any honest sense of the word. She apparently doesn’t experiment on monkeys any longer, but when she did her methods were highly invasive:
Sixteen young adult rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were the subjects of the present study. The monkeys were housed individually and were fed a controlled diet of Purina primate chow supplemented with fruit. Four of these monkeys received aspiration lesions of the perirhinal cortex (group PRh), 4 received excitotoxic lesions of the hippocampus (group H), and 8 monkeys were retained as unoperated controls. ....

The main finding of the present study was that whereas monkeys with lesions of the perirhinal cortex were significantly impaired in acquisition of transverse patterning, monkeys with excitotoxic lesions of the hippocampus were significantly facilitated.... (Impairment and facilitation of transverse patterning after lesions of the perirhinal cortex and hippocampus, respectively. Saksida LM, Bussey TJ, Buckmaster CA, Murray EA. Cereb Cortex. 2007.)
In non-techical language, "aspiration lesions of the perirhinal cortex" means that she and her colleagues cut through these monkeys' scalps, drilled a hole in their skulls, pushed a small tube into their brain, and vacuumed out a part of it. "Excitotoxic lesions of the hippocampus" refers to brain injections of something called NMDA which kills nerve cells by over-exciting them.

Sucking out parts of monkeys' brains or killing parts of their brains with injections of some noxious chemical isn't what most of us call to mind when someone says that everything they do is guided by their love and compassion for the animals.

It seems fair too to look at the way animals are being used at Baylor right now to get a sense of just what Cindy Buckmaster means when she speaks of her “love and compassion for animals” since she probably has some oversight responsibility for much of the vivisection at Baylor.

When I did just that, I was surprised to see a familiar name. The Little Angel of St. Louis, a.k.a. Dora Angelaki, has recently moved to Houston and taken on the position of Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Baylor. Here’s an essay I wrote in 2001 after stumbling across a paper written by her: "The Little Angel of St. Louis."

Coincidentally, a friend recently sent me a picture of The Little Angel’s house. It’s located at 22 Forsythia Lane in Olivette, Missouri and was being offered for sale for about $1 million. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that vivisectors aren’t into it for the money. No wonder it was for sale, The Little Angel relocated to Houston.

It turns out that The Little Angel’s husband went with her to Baylor. His name is David Dickman. Apparently, they share their love for animals, although his favorite animals to love are birds.

In their paper “Inactivation of Semicircular Canals Causes Adaptive Increases in Otolith-Driven Tilt Responses” (Dora E. Angelaki, Shawn D. Newlands and J. David Dickman. J Neurophysiol. 2002.) they explain a bit of their loving behavior toward monkeys:
All six semicircular canals were plugged in two juvenile rhesus monkeys (animals R and B) implanted with skull bolts to restrain the head during experiments and a dual search coil for three-dimensional eye movement recordings. Each canal to be plugged was exposed and a small hole was drilled in the bony wall of the canal. The membranous duct was then cut with the tip of a sharp knife. Subsequently, the hole was firmly filled with bony chips and covered with a piece of muscle fascia. All surgeries and animal handling were in accordance with National Institutes of Health and Institutional guidelines. The effectiveness of plugging was verified by the absence of any response during low-frequency earthvertical axis rotations

During experiments, the monkeys were seated in a primate chair with their heads restrained in a position such that the horizontal stereotaxic plane was tilted 15° nose-down. The primate chair was subsequently placed inside a motorized three-dimensional turntable that rode on top of a linear sled. The experimental protocols were as follows....
That was in 2002. Now, a decade later, The Little Angel explains her loving and compassion-filled methods:
Materials and Methods
Animal preparation

Four male monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were used for neurophysiological recordings. Our general procedures have been reported in detail elsewhere, so they will be described only briefly here. Under sterile conditions, monkeys were chronically implanted with a ring-type device for head stabilization. Scleral coils were implanted in both eyes for monitoring eye position, including both version and vergence. A bilateral recording grid was positioned in the horizontal plane and extended from the midline outward to the areas overlying MSTd and VIP bilaterally. The recording grid contained staggered rows of holes (0.8 mm spacing) and was stereotaxically secured inside the head cap using dental acrylic. Vertical microelectrode penetrations were made via transdural guide tubes inserted through the grid holes. Behavioral training was performed using standard operant conditioning techniques. (Binocular disparity tuning and visual-vestibular congruency of multisensory neurons in macaque parietal cortex. Yang Y, Liu S, Chowdhury SA, DeAngelis GC, Angelaki DE. J Neurosci. 2011.)
Coincidentally, in the middle of writing this, I was sent new paper from the Spring issue of the Journal of Animal Ethics that also takes note of vivisectors' Orwellian use of certain words: “What Dictionary Are Animal Researchers Using?” by Franklin D. Mcmillan. He explains:
The public largely supports the use of animals in biomedical research, but only if they are sure that the animals are treated humanely. The scientific community has provided these assurances. Is this a truthful claim? I argue that when examined systematically, the claim that animals in research are treated humanely is not truthful by any existing definition of the word. This article does not argue for or against the morality of using animals in research; rather, the reasoning set forth herein argues that in this use of animals, the scientific community is not being truthful to the public.
Mcmillan gives some telling examples of the industry's twisted use of “humane” and sums up with this: “Is animal research conducted humanely? No. Is animal research cruel? Yes, according to any dictionary currently in print.”

Are animals in labs loved? Hardly. But if one's intent is to mislead, or equally likely, if one isn't in close touch with reality, words like humane, compassion, cruelty, and love can mean something completely at odds with the words' normal everyday usage.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Risks. Chapter 10

The Risks of Empathy, a Novella

Chapter 10

When Harry drove up, the small crowd in front of Vivaldi’s Delicatessen was being pushed back by uniformed officers who were stringing a bright yellow ribbon around the area in front of the entrance. Warning! Police Line! Do Not Cross! shouted the bold black block letters over and over again. Harry nodded to one of the officers and stepped over the ribbon and into the store. He quickly surveyed the scene.

Two women’s bodies were sprawled on the floor in pools of blood. A man’s body appeared to have crashed backwards through the glass front of a food case. He was dressed in white and had a large dark red hole in his chest. His head was twisted sideways and lying in a large bowl of three-bean salad. A cash register drawer was open behind the counter. An officer was taking notes and talking to a man sitting on the floor against a wall. The man was splattered with blood and had his arm around a young boy who looked to be in shock.

“So what do we know?” Harry asked.

“How are ya Mahoney?” answered the officer who looked up from his inspection of one of the women on the floor.

“Could be better. Was it a robbery?”

“No. At least not a planned robbery, as far as we can tell. The man and his son,” nodding toward the man and boy against the wall, “were standing in line behind these two women when another man and a woman came in and immediately started talking loudly about murder and the meat in the window. Apparently, Mr. Vivaldi,” nodding toward the man in the case, “came around from behind the counter and started shouting back and tried to push the man out of the store. The witness is a little confused about where the gun came from, but says that the woman screamed something, and Mr. Vivaldi turned toward her and she shot him.”

“How did the women get shot?” asked Harry.

“The guy says that the man took the gun from the woman then and said something about cannibals and murder and maybe revenge and shot the two women, one after the other. The witness says he pleaded for his son’s life and tried to shield the boy. The next thing he recalled was the police sirens. He said he never noticed the couple leaving because he had his eyes closed.”

Harry looked around and noticed the ever-present video camera over the door. “Has anyone pulled the disc yet?”

“Not yet, but I saw the recorder under the counter.”

Harry walked around, careful not to step in the blood, ejected the small disc and put it in his pocket. He walked back from around the counter and looked once again around the small store. In the cold case, next to the man with his head in the beans, were plates of sausages, long pepperonis, an olive loaf, a couple roasted chickens, a pig’s head with an apple in it’s mouth, a sliced beef tongue, a pan of ground lamb with a small sign stuck into it proclaiming its great age and high fat content.

Behind the counter a quarter of a beef hung alongside strings of dried sausages. A blackboard announced the prices of everything in yellow chalk. Someone had drawn flowers down one side and colored them with red, blue and green.

Harry noticed that one of the women had a bag under one arm, and a white butcher paper package had fallen out. He imagined the cutlets wrapped inside that she was taking home to prepare for dinner.

The officer said to Harry, “This is the third case like this I had this week. It’s odd as hell. I liked the jumpers better; at least I didn’t worry about someone going berserk afterwards. Now, I worry about my wife and kids all the time. She’s always shopping. What do you think’s going on?”

Harry had an idea. “Have you seen the animal TEs?”

The officer seemed confused for a second, seemed to shake it off, and answered, “No, but I really like that football quarterback one, have you done it yet?”

Harry shook his head.

“My brother sent me some with this hot little redhead chick in them….”

Harry shook his head and the officer cut it short, sensing that he had missed the point and maybe offended Harry at the same time.

“Make sure I get your report,” was all Harry said.

An ambulance arrived just as Harry was leaving the delicatessen. Since no one had been in need of immediate life-saving care, the medical people had taken their time getting there. Harry nodded to them and heard one comment to the other, “I’m getting sick of all these meat market murders.”