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In a continuation of this morning's topic, I notice that a male judge (in Russia) states as part of his decision to throw out a case filed by a female who claimed that she was sexually harassed in the workplace...

 “If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children.

He's being serious.
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Among guppies, the males are the ones with the colorful displays on their bodies and the females have the plain appearance. Males are rather demanding in their sexual desires. If persistent courtship doesn't pay off, they'll try rape instead. The poor females, as recently discovered, do whatever it takes to get away from the pesky males.

Outside of aquariums, in their native rivers, females will congregate in risky areas populated with predators. The males, being all colorful and obvious, make easy targets for some bigger fish's meals and so the males tend to stay away. So, by taking on some small risk to their own lives, the females are finally able to get some peace and quiet.

Let the metaphorical lessons begin.
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I know that several of the local Bears have canine pets. Hopefully some of these announcements will be of use to them. Feel free to pass the news along to anyone who might make use of it.

need cloth towels: The local Animal Humane Society (AHS) uses a lot of towels. Cleaning cages, covering cages of animals in transport, drying our shoes after we (and visitors) dip them in the disinfectant tubs. The Golden Valley site is running very short on towels. If you have any old cloth towels to clear out of a dusty cabinet somewhere, now would be a good time to collect them and drop them off at your nearest AHS site for delivery to Golden Valley.

digipet: Comcast Pet Adoptions on Demand is available in 16 television markets nationwide, but AHS is the only humane society in the Upper Midwest participating in this service. If you are a Comcast Digital Cable subscriber, you can view at any time some of the cats and dogs available for adoption at AHS. To view Pet Adoptions on Comcast ON DEMAND:

St. Paul area: GO to Channel 1, Select “Get Local,” then Pet Adoption
Minneapolis area: Go to Channel 1946 and select Pet Adoption (it may be abbreviated to GLOD – (get local on demand)

dog treats: The St. Paul Great Harvest Bread Co. is donating 100% (yes, that's right) of their sales of doggie treats to the AHS during the month of August. So you could treat both your dog and a homeless dog with a single purchase during this interesting promotion. See their August newsletter for more info.

doggie java: A new coffeeshop opens in St. Louis Park on Saturday, August 9th. This store will be open and welcoming to both owners and their canine pets. The Dog Perk and gift shop will offer free coffee and treats during the grand opening, 9am-6pm.
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That landing against the tree seems to require more repair than I had initially figured. I've been very tired and sleepy since then, seeming to rest up so my body can spend its energy on undoing some unseen damage. My lower back still hurts, but it's getting better. I have spackled skin where the tree bark roughed my back, but I see no sign of any serious harm. Still, I've slept 1.5 times as much as usual, and I blame my energy level for today's pessimism.

We're changing the content of our biosphere in so many ways:
  • atmosphere (through combustion vehicle exhaust and factory exhaust)
  • soil (though mass ranching, and with pesticides through mass farming, maybe even with electricity)
  • water (with chemicals carried by rain runoff from our cities, and with pharmaceuticals from our sewers, noise from our sonar)
  • biodiversity (simply by carrying macro/micro living organisms across every spot of land on the globe every day, or by mechanizing the destruction of one local ecology to replace it with a new local ecology)
I'm not surprised that a fungal disease is ravaging the world's frog population, or that the north pole may be ice-free this summer for the first time in recorded human history, or that bees (whose species outnumber mammals and birds combined) are suffering colony collapse disorder apparently as a result of a viral infection and their loss will cause even more food shortage for humans.

No, all of that I could believe without getting depressed.

But now even NASA is getting desperate to ring the alarms, primarily as a result of the efforts of Dr. James Hansen, the director of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences. This man has his own collection of worrying notes, but the pertinent one today is his look back at his last 20 years (pdf) working on just the issue of climate change. Part of me wishes that Homo sapiens would be included in the list of casualties in this now-unfolding 6th occurence of mass extinction in earth's history, as it would seem the only just outcome of our own influence. Or, at the very least, that we evolve into a less-intelligent (and less influential) species, as described by Kurt Vonnegut in his story, Galapagos.

If we ascribe agency to the anthropomorphic Mother Nature... maybe that's what She's preparing for.  One can hope.  (In such a pessimistic mood.)

puppy abuse

Mar. 4th, 2008 10:00 am
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[info]jpeace pointed out yesterday a video of what seems to be a U.S. soldier abusing a puppy by throwing it out into the desert.  It's not clear how it lands or if it gets back up again.

I notice today that the original video site is not responding, the youtube video "has been removed due to terms of use violation", and although the soldier's profile was viewable yesterday it now requires login first.  Still, you can read about it in this article of the local Minneapolis newspaper.

I do have the Flicker video saved on my hard drive, though.  If anybody really wants it, get your email address to me and I can send it to you.  It's only about 2MB in size.  It's a low-resolution 15-second video.

(edit:  Just search youtube or google for "soldier throws puppy" and you'll likely find a copy of the video before it gets yanked.  People everywhere are posting and responding to the video.)
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I accepted a job offer this afternoon, so I'm once again a productive member of society.  :)

I go in Wednesday to fill out the paperwork. I'll be working as a "Technical Support Specialist" at a local Animal Humane Society.  About a year ago or so, local shelters banded together to create a common infrastructure to help reduce overall costs. So 5 shelters in the Twin Cities metro area all use servers located at the Golden Valley center, where I'll be working.  They need 2.5 tech geeks to fill their needs.  I'll be the half-geek.'s not far away, so the commute is easy. It's only 20 hours, which is great for my sanity. That low-hours time investment will be a necessity if I can get back into the swing of classes again. This job also has a regular schedule and not a rotating shift, so that's another great feature. It's in an industry that I approve, helping animals as much as possible given constraints of human budgets.

As an example of the flavor of the place, here's a photo taken from one of their webpages on training classes for rabbits. I was told that Education classes are for humans while Training classes are for other animals. The verbiage distinction is important.  ;)

Rarely do I see a job with so many pluses in its favor. The only downside is that the low pay ($14/hr) and low hours (20 hrs) combined will keep me very poor indeed. It's the equivalent of a full-time minimum wage job.  I'm still not certain if I'll be able to take classes during my spare time. I'll find out after I see how much the government keeps of my paycheck.  If it's insufficient alone, then I may have to consider another temporary part-time job somewhere to build up funds one semester, then spend it the next semester on classes.

I'm in a much better mood today (after giving them a crowd-pleasing performance on my technical skills test this morning) than I was yesterday (after watching the soul-sucking Human Resources video for the Comcast helpdesk which involved repeated use of the word "stress" in various phrases).

Rabbits for the win!
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1) gorilla

My favorite (for its sexual ethics) animal is the bonobo, a chimpanzee and close relative of humans. Previously, they were thought to be the only (land) animal to mate face-to-face in the wild like humans do. Here, though, someone snapped a photograph of gorillas doing the same. It's a rather tender photo with the female resting her face against his shoulder, with his arms wrapped around her reassuringly.

gorilla mating (non-explicit)

2) cuttlefish

Cuttlefish, however, are a sea creature that also mate face-to-face, as you can see in this video. It's a pretty intense experience for them too. Males sometimes even get the shudders afterwards. (Click the second video here, "Cuttlefish Mating Disengagement, Male Display").

3) horse

In decidedly less happy news, however, horses are also suffering through the current economic crisis here in Minnesota.

"Foreclosures In MN Hitting Home For Family Pets"
"All the Dying Horses: Neglect cases soaring in Minnesota"

I interviewed yesterday out at a local Humane Society shelter for a tech support position.  While there I visited some of their adoption rooms.  All of them were beyond full: cats, mice/rats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs.  I didn't visit the dogs, and I don't know if this city facility has any large space for livestock.
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After [personal profile] joshuwain  found this political video, I searched youtube for other examples of ferrets in advertising. I was surprised to find them being used (sometimes badly) by Diet Mountain Dew, Verizon, Capital One, a tropical fish store, Budweiser while either posing nude or speaking, MTV movie awards, and even homegrown commercials (not aired on tv) for Doritos and Fursty Ferret beer.

Considering the violent nature in those first two videos, you'd think ferrets spent all their time wardancing like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the weasel. That kind of stuff probably contributes to the mistaken impression by some people (like Giuliani, hence the political video mentioned earlier) that ferrets are feral.

Okay, break over.  Now back to the job-hunting grind.  Ugh!
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T'Reese VS Crack Weasel

I had a ferret (weasel on crack) for 7 years. They are adorable pets and I would definitely get another one if I owned my own place, but I recommend against them for other people only because they are the smelliest living things you'll ever have in your house. Yes, even smellier than that pink fuzzy thing growing in your refridgerator.

My cat and my ferret enjoyed playing together. I only allowed them to do so under my supervision because even though the ferret was having enormous amounts of FUN, the cat would take it too seriously and use claws inappropriately. (This was back in the years when she still had claws.) I always knew that if the ferret ever decided to take things as more than fun, the ferret would absolutely win. I consider ferrets domesticated, but I think that in a ferocious fight the ferret just has more energy and intensity to devote to the fracas.

I never made a video of their play sessions (very entertaining stuff), but I recently found this other video that should give you some idea...
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Okay, finally some proof that I don't have to pick serious topics all of the time.


My cat, T'Reese, wakes me up around 4am almost every day to get me to feed her. She does the paw-on-face maneuver just like the video. She doesn't knead my back, she just walks all over me back and forth for maximum annoying coverage. No baseball bat either, just head-butting like Stampy the elephant (from the Simpsons).  On some rare nights, she does lots of meowing too.  When I finally get employed again and can afford toys, I want to buy her an automatic feeder so she learns that the human isn't responsible for keeping her bowl full of kibble... it just magically appears on its own mysterious schedule.


Dec. 20th, 2007 09:01 am
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Another near-sleepless night (woke up around 4am). Watched another episode of a very nice morning television program, Sunrise Earth on Animal Planet. If you haven't seen it before, it's a "nature show" but without any narration. Yes, it's 60 minutes of nothing but images and sounds, no talking. Each show chooses a single location, and you watch video of the area at a time on the clock that generally corresponds to the same time that you're watching the show. So it's what you could be watching at that moment instead of the television, if you were just in a better location.

You can see a sample video at the Discovery Channel's online store.

The episodes are visually beautiful, of course, and the sounds range from quiet stillness to loud waterfall.  In some views, you're looking at a river, in others maybe a closeup of a giant leaf spotted with mold.  My favorite episode so far is "Moose in the Morning".  I liked watching the moose stick its nose under water and come up, munching on the algae, slowly chewing while standing there in the fog-laden lakeshore.

I shouldn't watch this show.  It definitely feeds my "walk into the forest" urge.  But it's just so peaceful.
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Do you remember the Hypnotoad from Futurama? (FOX Film keeps taking down the short clips posted on YouTube (yeah, fans encouraging views of the television series has got to be bad for business), so you'll have to search for current uploads yourself.) It was a frog with large eyes that pulsated in patterns that could hypnotize his targets and bend them to his will.

Well, there is an actual Earth animal that does pretty much the same thing, stunning potential prey with hypnotic displays. And it's the cuttlefish that I was talking about earlier. Watch this clip (scroll down to episode "A Dazzling Show", fast forward 2 minutes into the movie clip), and be dazzled by Hypnotoad-of-the-Sea.
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Some people are prone to seeing human motivations and feelings in the actions of other animals, even in non-animate objects or events like the wind itself. I sometimes do that too. For instance, there was the time when I was taking a Sign language class and accidentally saw video of Koko (a gorilla) signing... and I understood her. It's difficult to not anthropomorphize when you're "listening" to an animal talk in a language that you comprehend. I tend to do it a little for any warm blooded animal, but there's one animal in particular that always gives me an emotional jolt. It's not even warm blooded, or furry, or living on land, or possessing a spine.

It's the cuttlefish.

Over the years, I've seen too many television clips of these animals being playful and friendly, squirting water through the air at their keepers and then rushing to them in a colorful and brief tentacle clasp when the keeper puts their hand in the water. I've seen them flash colors and patterns at each other, much of it looking to me like language. I've seen them (seemingly, of course) treat each other tenderly during mating and egg-laying. I've been slightly nauseated when I met one at Disney Epcot, floating greyly and near-motionless in a round tank with white pebbles and not a speck of color, rock, or branch anywhere... the semi-life of a brain starved of any opportunity for curiosity, locked in its white room alone for too long.

Thankfully, others are beginning to take seriously the potential of intelligence in these and similar creatures of the waters. Today, I discovered that some people are watching them for (and finding) signs of behavior in these creatures that warrant another examination of our own ethical standards in working with these animals.

I'm not a PETA member. I think it's okay to use animals in some ways for our benefit. But what I think is okay treatment is quickly brought up to near-human standards when an animal is capable of despair and friendship and curiosity. Even assuming that humans exist today as only one species, it is certain that it will not always remain so. Someday there will be more than one "kind" of human. We should be prepared for that eventuality by creating a trans-species codification of legal "Rights", explaining how we should approach any kind of life that we meet, what is permitted and what is never to be tolerated. Rules that a "more advanced" species would still follow in dealing with us primitive humans as well.

From their paper (linked at "finding" above):
"Ethical consideration is being extended to the cephalopod mollusks because researchers are in the process of learning about their intelligence and cognitive abilities and making this information public (see Hanlon & Messenger 1996). Scientists are beginning to learn about not only the scope and diversity of the marine invertebrates (Cassis 1999) but the extent to which their responses to stress are similar to ours (Stefano et al. 2002)."

Yeah. "Do Unto Others", and all that.


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