Of Mice and Men (not Steinback)

After so much reading on the subjects of rats and rats in the lab I now understand how little I knew about this species.  Right off the bat I was surprised that laboratory rats were called heroes and how often rats and humans were compared.  I was also surprised at extreme emotional spectrum that rats elicit, namely because I have never given them much thought.  In one instance the word rat itself apparently produces an almost disgusted response in humans and in the next we revere their contributions to medical research in the lab.  At first I was not convinced of the similarities between humans and rats especially in Rader readings regarding Mickey Mouse and the supposed intentions of Disneyland.  As I read and learned of how effectively and efficiently rats evolve I began to understand this connection.  It seems to me and based on these readings that rats have suffered the least from human expansion.  Not only are they evident in almost every man made structure, they actually thrive from it.  When one compares the presence of rats in human life with other animals, besides those that we intentionally make a part of our environment, they are in a class of their own.  In fact a rat in a city may be one of the only wild animals you can see apart from birds and other rodents.  Perhaps this is why pigeons are referred to as rat with wings.  Not only are they present in large numbers as well as rats but they are part of the small group of wild animals able to survive in man-made environments.  The adaptive ability of the rat cannot be repudiated but I find it doubtful that they will ‘inherit the world’ someday.  The other similarity between rat and human that I would have never made is the selfishness of these two species in regard to other animals.  Just as we exploit animals for our benefit with little to no benefit to them, depending on your standing on such issues, rats exploit us with little to no benefit on our part.   I found this fact really interesting because I can think of no other animal that has been able to ‘pull one over’ on humans like this.  I believe that this is a main contributor to our dislike of the rats in addition to many others.

                To dislike the rat because it exploits us would certainly illustrate the hypocritical nature of human beings but I can’t help but feel some used.  In earlier times I could easily see the frustration our ancestors had towards the ever present rat.  The presence of the rat is magnified because no other species is so unintentionally integrated into human life.  I almost see it as an annoying little brother following an older brother around, reaping from his successes.  It could almost devalue such progress if it becomes apparent that even a small rodent could match the same feet.  What I mean is imagine humans overcoming a pretty significant barrier such as water due to our innovation of a boat.  Now imagine conquering something that could not have been accomplished before and then realizing that freeloading rat can also cross an entire ocean simply because they hoped aboard.  I would definitely lose some pride if I stepped foot on an unmanned island and turned around to see rats marching the beach as well.  I know this is a selfish view but I feel like it is human nature and understandable if not acceptable.  Another reason for human distain towards rats given in the reading is their reversion to cannibalism if resources are low.  I wish this was highlighted more in the reading simply because in all the similarities between humans and rats, this is one stark contrast.  I feel like the contrast is so great that rat cannibalism should be credited as the main source of our distaste for rats.  Of course there are exceptions but cannibalism is and has been such a taboo in our species.  It is not such a stretch of the imagination then to picture an ancestor of ours coming across a group of rats eating a fellow rat and being disgusted by the sight.  This brings me to the next major point of why we dislike rats, the way in which they eat their food.  In naming them the Latin root comes from the word gnaw.  Being named after the way in which they eat clearly marks our intrigue in this part of their lives.  Again I can picture an ancestor of ours being disgusted by the way in which a rat ate simply because it is so different from the way in which we eat.

                One point that Bart made in which I did not agree was in regards to his explanation of the view of rats changing from thief to dirty.  He claims that as we put filth away from sight and rats then moved into this filth, that they are still clean themselves and so this is not a substantial theory in the transition of public opinion.  I feel like Bart needs to give this stance more support even though rats themselves are still clean.  Think of the toilet, it is one of the cleanliest parts of the house yet it is not regarded as such and shares a negative public human opinion with the rat.  Perhaps an ancient reason for the negative view of rats is their resemblance to locust.  As I read Burt’s passage regarding their sheer number and willingness to eat anything and everything in their path I could not help but compare them to locus.  And as so much of this class and our history as shown, if something can be drawn back to religion it can be given a lot of validation as a reason or cause. 

                In the Rader reading I was very surprised at the resistance Little met in trying to connect the field of medicine and genetics.  Today these are so incorporated that it is hard to imagine them ever being distinguished from one another.  In the Shapiro reading I mostly understood the reasoning behind the treatment and attitude towards lab animals.  It is necessary to forget the individuality among a species used to better the human race.  In regards to behavior and psychological testing, however, I feel that much more emphasis must be placed on the individual because these are much more variable.  Just as with humans, I believe that animals are more than just the sum of their individual biological processes.  Giving an animal a name and a personality could help keep this in mind while conducting experiments.

Of Mice and Men

This was my second time reading Of Mice and Men and just as it had been the first time, I found the book to be emotional moving, more so than many others that I have read.  The parallels between the beginning part of the book and the end of the book create such a dramatic climax that really draws in the reader.  The tragedy is magnified due to it taking place in the same place Lenie and George had drawn up hope and plans for the future.  The differences in these two scenes really illustrate the theme of the loss of innocence that is prevalent throughout the book and ultimately embodies the death of Lenie.  When George and Lenie first happen upon the river they disturb the wildlife which quickly flees from their presence.  Lenie’s second trip to this place was not as disrupting to the wild life and his approach is even compared to that of a creeping bear.  It was almost as if the events that had unfolded in the book had caused a change in the way Lennie was received by the wild.  Perhaps his inability to escape his simple primal wants made him more wild and animal like than human.  Just as the water snake swam helplessly to its death at the beak of a heron, Lenie’s need for soft, warm comfort led to his death.

Seeing as how this reading is assigned in a class on domestication I really struggled to find themes and meanings involving domestication within the story.  To begin, I noted the effect George and Lenie’s presence had on the wildlife surrounding the river.  This led me to believe that a possible theme incorporating domestication of this book may be the negative effects humans have on animals.  The way Lenie stroked animals until the point of death certainly could represent the negative outcome excessive human control has on animals.  In the part of the book where Crooks, Candy, Lenie and Curley’s wife are present in Crooks room, the way in which Curley’s wife reduces Crooks to nothing, and his defensive mechanism of retreating within himself really reminded me of some of our discussions on human-animal relations.  Her flaunting of complete control reminded me of how livestock are striped of identity.  As I continued reading it seemed more likely that an underlying theme of the book was simply animal-human relations and not just the negative outcomes of such an association.

I was really intrigued with how Slim was conveyed to the reader.  His description was conveyed as pure and he is even said to have “God-like eyes.”  With such a righteous character, it seems that any actions of Slim are assumed to be correct or right.  His drowning of the puppies, therefore, cannot be compared to the other deaths of animals that did not deem his approval.  The death Lenie’s pup and mice were out of ignorance while the drowning of Slim’s pups were out of necessity because according to him the mother would have not been able to take care of all her offspring.  So does this mean that not all dominating control over animals results in negative outcomes for the animal?  The killing of a dog’s pups is essentially playing God from her perspective, yet if Slim had not done this what would the outcome for mother and offspring have been?  The killing of Candy’s dog also shows to me that some dominating control of animals by humans is actually beneficial to them. 

                At the same time, I couldn’t help to associate the way that all the characters were cramped in a small space, forced to chase unlikely dreams just to keep their insanity with the lifestyle of livestock.  Most of the characters shared their aspirations of a better life where they control their fate and can actual say something is there’s.  Perhaps animals can be capable of feeling this lack of freedom, and yearn for it on some level.  Again this may be forcing the animal-human relations issue but I am just trying to see what relevance this novel has to our class material. 

                One of the final lines of the book convinced me that an underlying theme of the book is not only the ignorance to the innocence of Lenie, but the ignorance of the innocence of animals: “Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin them two guys?”  This shatters the concept of good and bad and shows that there is a gray are to which people can be ignorant to.  Some things act by nature with no malice intended and people must be aware of this.  I found it very interesting that Curley’s Wife was never given a name, perhaps sealing her fate as an antagonist. 

                My favorite line of the novel is: “As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment.  And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.” 

Evolution, domestication and civilization

The relationship between civilization or progress and evolution is a topic that we have discussed before but it is intriguing enough to address again.  Early on in the reading, Brantz defines these concepts and the relationship between these concepts in a way that I understood more than before.  Evolution and progress on their own are topics with no concise boundaries or definitions.  Thus the undertaking of understanding the relationship between these two is understandably difficult.  I was pleased with the way Brantz described evolution as a broader concept that includes variability caused by nature while progress is mostly a human controlled element with some influence from nature.  By now the importance of domestication is apparent even if it definition is not, so it is easy to believe that domestication can be the link between these two concepts.  Even if the effect of these concepts is different on human-animal relationships, the fact that they both influence the same bond shows some correlation that deserves further discussion.  The statement that evolution brings human and animals closer while civilization drives them further apart really struck me because it seems to finally tie three complex ideas in one true statement: evolution, domestication and civilization.


Early on in the reading I developed a theory that I hoped would remain intact by the end of the reading.  I came up with my own, simple way of tying civilization, domestication and evolution together.  It seemed to me that evolution, being influenced extensively by nature, could be thought of as the first of these three ideas to exist.  In early history Humans had little effect on the complex concept of evolution.  As evolution continued, however, it provided us the means and the reasoning to use it as a tool.  Domestication was the product of this stage of evolution.  As early human’s evolved they began the transition from being a product of their environment to manipulating and changing the environment, or civilization.  This transition is marked by domestication, the moment when humans used evolution as a tool against nature.  Once humans began manipulating nature and were no longer subject to its will, progress and civilization ensued.  I don’t know if I am making much sense but I am basically wondering if evolution led to domestication which then led to civilization.  I know that is a simple way to put things and there must be more overlap but I hope my understanding isn’t too far off the mark.  It is more obvious how domestication was able to lead to progress and civilization that how evolution led to domestication.  Was mastery of one species over another destined to come from evolution?


The integration of pets and the social changes brought about by animals in the home seem to contradict Brantz’s earlier statement that civilization drives humans and animals further apart.  The way in which pets where treated as members of a family and the social groups advocating morality towards pets clearly prove that civilization does not drive a gap in human-animal relations.  As we become more civilized I believe our awareness of animal rights is increasing and thus human-animal relations are actually getting closer.  This only pertains to domesticated pets, however.  The relationship between humans and wild animals does seem to drive further apart at first in our history.  This is evidenced by examples in the text of countries across the world killing strays in various ways.  In modern society I don’t believe the relationship between humans and wild animals is still driven apart.  Wild animal conservation is becoming a larger discussion in our moral duties and is finally gaining appreciation.  The only human animal relationship that seems to drive apart as civilization progresses is the one between humans and livestock animals.



Gold to Grass

Was this guy not meant to be intertwined in the complexities of domestication?  To go from the pursuit of gold to the pursuit of grass impresses me much more than it does Anderson.  I understand that Percy may have had a keen eye for meadows but I would expect that a perilous journey to the new world would produce more grand aspirations.  Perhaps this reveals the genius in Percy and also the importance of domestication.  As the book describes it, it seems that colonization began before the true potential for domestication was realized.  Does this mean that colonists believed they could lead a life independent from domestication?  This seems very unlikely especially since life in England depended on domestication so why did early colonists seem so surprised in an aspect of the land that should have been a requirement to deem it fit for colonization?  The book also describes the pursuit of agriculture arising because England wanted to differentiate itself from Spain’s conquests.  Again I find it funny that England did not pursue domestication and agriculture for the obvious benefits, but for some other reason.  Luck seems to have played too much of a role in the part of our history.

The short discussion about religion as a driving force for colonization and domestication really peaked my interest.  I do not doubt the fact that religion drove early colonization but later generations must have been more economically driven.  The children of farmers could not know about the differences between “civilized” and “uncivilized” besides what they read about or heard of England.  I guess my point here is that religion and economic means are both given as a reason for colonization, yet it seems to me that only economic reasons could have continued the pursuit of colonization.  This being said, perhaps religion did not play as much of a part in motivating colonization as some texts might has us believe.

I found it really unfortunate that the environment friendly way that Native American’s used the land was actually used to justify taking it from them.  This shows the ignorance of humans regarding our environment and unfortunately this divinely “just” relationship between man and nature has persisted and is the root of many of the problems we are faced with today.  I cannot believe how such absurd ways of justifying stealing were accepted.  I found some of them almost comical because it is so hard to believe that people actually believed their reasoning was just.  I almost want to hope that the colonists realized what they were doing was not right but did it anyways for self-gain.  I find this more acceptable than colonists actually believing they had a right to the land due to the way Native Americans lead their lives.  Puts a dark spin on Thanksgiving doesn’t it?  I enjoy and share in the author’s sarcasm”


“These activities, along with English-style agriculture, “improved” the land in ways that Indian practices did not.”


It is easy to define the colonists’ actions and intentions as immoral when the negative effects on an indigenous population are so apparent, but what if there were no native people in the Americas?  Would it still have been ok for colonists to go about settling the land the way they did?  This was the only way they knew how to survive and it worked, so perhaps some harm on the natural environment is necessary.  There has to be a balance at some point where the harm on the environment is not worth the benefits to human kind.   Sure we can cut down that tree to make a house for a family but let’s not cut down 10 trees so that family can have a house, a summer home and a winter home.  Things could be so different today if we hadn’t begun our expansion with such a superiority complex over the environment.  I believe that progress can be achieved somewhere between the spectrum of Native American attitudes toward nature and European colonists attitude towards nature.


I know that I didn’t discuss much about domestication but our class discussion always leads to questions of morality so I thought that I would blog about it for once.

The Horse

The experiment presentation of this reading amidst so many readings based upon speculations and ideas were extremely refreshing for me.  I enjoy the debate that surrounds a topic that cannot honestly be answered with absolute conviction, but the constant back and forth can get repetitive.  I find myself convinced of one ideal or notion on the origin of domestication only to be persuaded by another equally convincing claim.  The way Anthony presented his experiment really left the decision to the reader.  Of course he has to be partially biased just out of a sense of accomplishment for his work but he did an excellent job talking about skeptics of his work and even admitted to a failure.  My favorite part of the reading was the competition between Levine and Anthony.  After all the charts and data and reasoning I put my faith in Anthony’s mouth bit experiment over Levine’s use of variability to as a marker for domestication.  The scope for the bit theory is much narrower but much more concrete in my mind.  If it weren’t for the difficulty in finding proper specimens and the preciseness of the measurements it seems to me that the mouth bit theory could alone identify the origin of horse riding.  Unfortunately as mentioned in the text, horses were likely domesticated first for their winter meat and it wasn’t until later that horse riding became the normal.  But if we were able to unveil to questions behind the use of horses for riding then perhaps from their more could be discovered about the original domestication of the horse.  The narrow scope for the bit theory does not question the validity of the experiment in my mind.  When comparing the number of horses ridden to those consumed there should be no surprise that only a few teeth out of a sample show the marks of bit use.  I don’t have much experience with horses but I know it must have taken a very forward thinking and brave person to suggest shoving a piece of bone into the mouth of a wild animal in order to gain control over it.  I am completely sold on the bit theory and the experiment parameters.  If domestication truly happened because humans found a weak male that they could control then there is no question in my mind that domestication has negative impacts on a species.  Imagine where horses could be right now if we hadn’t bred the weakest of their genome.


The fact that acquiring things came before using archaeology as a tool to solve problems from the past really surprised me.  I couldn’t help but wonder how much history was lost in the pursuit of simply acquiring stone, bronze and iron pieces for display.  So much could have been gathered from where and why these artifacts where found.  I found the idea of using the progression of materials to define periods of time very appealing.  It may be a little simple but the progression of technology can really shape an entire culture and time.  Innovation is a major part of culture.  The second something becomes desirable because of ease or luxury, there will be those who use it to gain and those who gain to use it.  This affects every aspect of a population.  I think it’s unfortunate that a reoccurring theme in history is the incorporation of innovation and war.  When the horse was domesticated the reading discusses transportation in the effort of making alliances, alliances against others.  And then of course the benefits of horses were used over others instead of helping others.  I was happy to see some undisputable evidence that Diamond’s geography theory contains some pit falls.  I do not wish to completely discredit his stress on the importance of geography in domestication and evolution, but as proven in this reading there are many more variables that contribute more than geography



Why are western archaeologists so against migration as an explanation for prehistoric culture change?  This came up several times in the reading.

Questions on the Readings to Discuss

1.  How was the domestication of the dog similar and different than that of the reindeer?

2.  Do you agree that our ancestors would not have interacted with a scavenging wolf because of disgust?

3.  When would you consider the dog to be the dog, by genotype or by phenotype and do you believe that genotype superseded phenotype?

4.   If the dog and wolf are genetically closer than some races of humans, why do we consider them different species?

5.  Do you believe humans were eager to join forces with animals even though they were our competitors?

6.  Dog origins at 40,000 – 50,000 years ago or 12,000 – 16,000 years ago?

7.  Do you believe the domestication of wolves was as consensual as the reading suggest (no cages or will forced upon them)

8.  Are floppy ears an inevitable result of domestication or merely a result of the of mutations being breed within a certain group?  Can a domesticated animal not exhibit the traits commonly associated with it (smaller brain, size, shorter snout) and still be domesticated?

9.  Why are dogs so quick to be feral?  Does this mean they are not completely domesticated?

10.  Why for the first time in history will children not out live their parents and could this have been avoided?

11.  Where we never in sync with our environment?  Since we are changing as well as the environment is it impossible for these to be in sync?

12.  Do you believe that different groups of people could evolve at different rates, if so why?

Dogs Rule

As with last week, I really enjoyed this reading and how earlier ideals of domestication are being applied to a specific species.  When looking at domestication as a whole and trying to define it as a whole it seems that nothing is definite so everything is up in the air.  Many theories can be created but perhaps one cannot put limits on something as boundless and lengthy as domestication.  This is to be expected especially when we see that the domestication of one species is hard enough to define as is the case with the dog.

In the beginning of this reading Derr discounts the theory that dogs came from self-taming scavenging wolves.  Later on he claims that it would not make sense for humans to take in a scavenging animal that they would undoubtedly have a negative attitude towards.  This claim really sparked my interest because it goes against many of the previous theories of self-domestication involving species like the cat and reindeer.  I think it is unfair to dismiss this theory because I gave a lot of credibility to the reading in “Animals as Domesticates” that discussed the compassion of humans and motherly tendencies as a cause for domestication.  Who is to say that a human could not feel pity or a connection with a wolf scavenging amongst scraps to make a living?  To me it seems completely probable that a human would start feeding such an animal better food and thus start a relationship with it.

In proposing this theory I show my support for the idea that humans have always had a connection with wolves and dogs.  But I worry that this is just a product of modern society which clearly holds dogs amongst the most revered of animals.  It is easy to accept the fact that this bond is what started our relationship with these four legged animals, but what if I were to question this ideal, not because I really do, but just out of caution and my curiosity of exploring the other side of an argument.  Why do we give wolves so much more credit in their role in domestication than other animals?  Is it because, as discussed in the reading, that the reasoning behind their domestication was not for meat but rather teamwork?  In Buliet’s book however, he makes the case that domesticated animals today that are used for meat were not originally domesticated for that, yet there is a clear difference in the domestication of wolves and these livestock.  Derr states too much effort would be needed to maintain dominance over a wolf and that humans were eager to join forces with animals.  Why would our ancestors be eager to join forces with their competitors and possibly even the predators that haunt their livestock?  These assumptions of the mutually beneficial relationship between wolves and humans almost seem to assume that they occurred before wolves had a chance to prey on herds of domesticated animals.  I am not saying that I do not support the idea that humans have and always will have many similarities and bonds with wolves and dogs but I just question how our current relationship with dogs may cloud our judgment on past relationships.

I was very curious about the discussion of the dog existing genetically before phenotypically.  Based on the assumption that wolves and humans shared many social characteristics it makes sense that the domestication genetically of the dog superseded the physical characteristics we come to expect.  I do not understand much about the relationship between phenotype and genotype but this reading made me wonder if one is possible without the other.  Specifically, could we have a tame dog today that looks like a wolf or is that not possible?  I guess what I’m wondering is can we specifically target tameness and have no side effects or is a tame, domesticated dog meant to have floppy ears?  This would make sense because as discussed in the reading these traits come from humans interfering in nature and causing animals that would normally not reproduce to reproduce.  So a tame wolf with floppy ears would survive under human control but can a tame wolf with perky ears exist?  It is hard for me to put my thoughts into a question but my query comes from personal experience.  I have two dogs, one has straight ears and one has floppy ear, one has short hair not obscuring vision while the other has long hair in her eyes.  My dog with perky ears and short hair is noticeably smarter than my other one and I guess I never considered their difference in intelligence as a result of these physical characteristics.

I have many more questions and topics regarding these two readings but as I am one of the leaders for this week I wanted to post them up later so we can discuss them as a class instead of me just discussing them on my blog.

Reindeer Culture

I found this reading to be excessively refreshing and new.  Over the past couple of weeks the investigation on the definition and creation of domestication, although interesting, has become frustrating as of late.  It is becoming increasingly obvious to me that these inquiries have no set answer or even set boundaries of theories.  I enjoyed the emphasis on culture and its relationship with domestication present throughout this book and how the author did not harp on what domestication is as a whole, but rather what it meant to a certain group of people.

The respect for the reindeer evident throughout history and culture really spiked my interest.  The symbol of the reindeer seemed to be much more than a product of a relationship between people and animal.  For example, even after the reindeer retreated up north as temperatures began to rise, people still dressed horses as reindeer and made paintings of reindeer.  Why where reindeer still a major part of a culture even after their departure?  Horses replaced the roles of the reindeer but still weren’t as integrated in the culture of the time as reindeer to the extent that horses were actually made to look like reindeer.

Another topic that created more questions than answers for me was the conversation on the domestication of reindeer.  People native to North America have never domesticated the reindeer whereas in Siberia reindeer have been.  This is a trend unique to reindeer that is not present in other species.  When other species became domesticated they were actually taken to other parts of the world, for the most part, making their domestication a universal thing yet reindeer are present as wild and domesticated, in almost even amounts.

This takes me back to reindeer and their part in the culture of the “Reindeer People” and reminds me of the article by Ingold. The respect between the Reindeer People and their reindeer provides an example of the trust Ingold discusses in his article.  The most interesting part of this reading for me was the interaction between domestic and post domestic society.  It is clear that Piers does not condone the restrictions and changes that the Russian government implemented on the Reindeer people.  My favorite quote of the reading addresses the conflict between domestic and post domestic society perfectly:

“As with any ideal world set up by the gods who then retreated back to a distant heaven, it had been impossible to stick to this blueprint.”

Clearly there is a lack of understanding between these two parties and it has affected the culture the Reindeer People.  Due to Piers’ close relationship with the Reindeer People he must have a biased opinion on this subject but he does present positive and negative by products of such a conflict.  Of these I found the positive very important because obviously there is going to be negative impacts on a people subjected to rules that don’t have their best intentions in mind.  Out of all the negative impacts, Piers presented a positive one with the story of the boy who provided scientific reasoning behind his carvings of a dead carcass while the father provided reasoning based on myth.  Does this prove that the post domestic thought of the Russian government can benefit the domestic culture of the Reindeer People or are the ways of these people efficient enough?  Efficiency of a post domestic society varies greatly from that of a society like the Reindeer People, who have already been forced to change their ways to provide meat to a third party.  How can a system set up to fulfill one culture be altered to meet the needs of a separate culture?

Oh Bulliet

As I continue my readings on domestication, I admit that I had grossly underestimated its importance before taking this class.  I imagined the studying of domestication would simply involve discussing animals subject to its effect.  I never imagined the investigation of its entire cause and effect.  Now that I have been confronted with this challenge, I must admit that I have become obsessed with all it involves.  I appreciate the difficulty and controversies Bulliet must overcome in order to adequately address this topic.  I have come to learn that domestication is the cause for much of what is today, and there can be no definite definition or origin for something so encompassing.  As Bulliet delves deeper into this topic I find myself questioning the motives for his logic as well as conclusions he makes along the way.
I was really excited for this reading because it felt like Bulliet was actually heading towards a well-grounded conclusion at times.  His conclusion that the sequence of hunter to herder to famer was unlikely, was well received in my mind.  In my previous reading of this book I thought that Bulliet had made it clear that the domestication of flora and fauna were not as linked as some may think.  He cited civilizations that existed on the basis of just flora or just fauna, a view that seemed to contradict both mine and Diamond’s opinion.  Whether I misunderstood Bulliet’s stance on the relationship between the domestication of plants and animals, his conclusion that animal domestication must have followed agriculture improvement restored my confidence in him.  Bulliet continues to gain my respect when he refutes Galton’s claim that all large animals had been tested for domestication by our ancestors.  As cited in the book, domestication is able to be achieved even now in species like foxes and reindeer.  This is where I am glad Bulliet and Diamond have a difference in opinion.  Diamond seemed satisfied with the notion that only a set amount of animals could be domesticate while others could not.  I believe that some species are more ideal to succumb to domestication but I also believe it can be achieved on a larger scope than Diamond cares to admit, a view that I gathered Bulliet shares in too.
Regarding the question of why some animals respond better to the stress of domesticity, Bulliet compares adrenaline in tame and wild species.  This sparked my immediate interest because it presented some of the first scientific evidence behind why some animals are easier to manage than others.  I also believe that these results support my stance that many if not all animals can eventually be domesticated.  Using this science it seems possible to me that humans can target things like lower adrenaline and lower production of certain chemicals in species that seem particularly difficult to domesticate.  It makes sense to me that just because a certain species does not have lowered adrenaline, does not mean that this is not achievable.  Some unseen variable that humans are in charge of must be able to be tweaked to achieve this affect.
As my reading continued I agreed with some other substantial claims that Bulliet made such as the voluntary cohabitation of species and the tameness of some species arising from the lack of predators.  What I disagree with is the lack of credit Bulliet gives to humans regarding domestication.  His canary example meant to illustrate the dumb luck and obliviousness of humans to domestication was ridiculous to me.  He made the point that no other birds were domesticated despite the popularity of canaries.   According to him this lack of attempt shows that we did not have the means or will to accomplish domestication as we wanted it.   My point is why would a business seeking man attempt to domesticate something that is close to a current fad but not the exact thing?  Canaries were what people wanted, so canaries were what people domesticated.
My last qualm comes from what I see as a cop out of Bulliet.  His dismissal of meat, milk and power as a reason for domestication seemed unlikely at first but ultimately had me convinced.  I was disappointed that he believed animal sacrifice was the reason behind undertaking the difficulties of domestication.  It being rooted in religion makes sense because as we travel deeper into human motives and history, religion usually presents a starting point.  I still do not know if I’m completely convinced but I do know that this answer raises more questions than a true answer would.