Rats, Mice, and Lovecraft

I completely geeked out when I saw an H.P. Lovecraft story referenced in our reading. I absolutely cannot pass up an opportunity to attempt a blog post with semi-legitimate academic merit that includes as much Lovecraft as I can fit.

Before I dive in, I’d like to put a disclaimer here: I had trouble  finding a topic to really hone in on. Our readings (and please correct me if I’m wrong) don’t seem to render much of an opinion. Ideas and themes are certainly examined, but I couldn’t really find many opinions to contest and disagree with. So I apologize if my post is a little haphazard and meandering; much like the readings, I have things to say, but I really don’t have a serious and defining opinion.

Let’s talk about aliens for a while. I’d like to discuss the theme that’s floated around in the readings that rats are more or less a foil of humanity, or that rats serve some equivalent or base analogy to human nature. And to piggyback on Burt’s Rats in the Walls example, here’s another Lovecraftian story – At the Mountains of Madness. For a quick summary, just think Ancient Aliens. Antarctic explorers discover the ruins of an alien civilization. Through a series of vague murals, the explorers discover that all current species of Earth, particularly humanity, were created as a joke, an afterthought. Humans were exploited by these aliens throughout deep history for labor and experimentation, while also being loathed and treated like vermin.

I’m not entirely sure how this fits in, but I feel there’s something to be said for a broader look at Lovecraft’s rat/human relationship, particularly in light of how Burt interprets such relationship: “It is intriguing to find scientists commenting that rodents will inherit the earth after humans have died out. This feels like the antithesis to Lovecraft’s devolutionary notion that the basest figure is the rat, the bottom of the animal pile as it were.” I would actually argue that science fits right in line with Lovecraft’s thesis. The Madness story continues with the alien creators dying out through foreign attack and self-destruction, and humanity picking up in the realm of factual history – sounds pretty similar to our reading predictions, right? Between Burt and Rader, we can kind of pick up on this idea of the rat being both the pinnacle and base of evolution, success, and morality through the lens of comparison between rats and humans. Lovecraft’s origin story firmly puts humanity in the position of a rodent – through extermination, adaption, and survival.




Moscow Canine Commuters

Hey everyone! I found this great article on the semi-domesticated Moscow dogs that we talked about in class. It’s pretty interesting; the pictures really help convey just how cool this behavior is.


Darwin: A Forward Dude

Wow, Darwin isn’t as nearly stuffy as I thought he’d be. I’m thoroughly impressed with his candor toward the reader, and his commentary and prediction regarding potential reader outrage or disagreement. He still sounds like an academic (read: big words), but the reading was slightly less of a bore than I dreaded.

So I may be interpreting this wrong, but it seems that Darwin uses animal domestication and artificial selection as a guidebook for grouping and categorizing natural genetic differences. On page 264 he writes:

“Organic beings in a state of nature present some varieties, – that their organization is in some slight degree plastic; granting that many animals and plants have varied greatly under domestication, and that man by his power of selection has gone on accumulating such variations until he has made strong marked and firmly inherited races; granting all this, how, it may be asked, have species arisen in a state of nature?”

So domestication can, from a certain viewpoint, be considered natural selection on steroids…right? Darwin’s use of the domestication blueprint aims to discover the signs of similar ancestry between species; fair enough. But we can’t really take the comparison any further, can we? Because the goals of natural and artificial selection can vary wildly. Nature (and if this is wrong, please skewer me for it; I’m not actually referencing a source for this) seems to focus solely on the survival of a species or organism, while humanity’s aims for domestication can vary wildly. So shouldn’t an organism’s current state of domestication also vary wildly than if we had otherwise tampered with it?

This was alluded to in post from last week as well. The question here I think is – how plastic are animals? What are the variables? With enough time, can you completely change a creature’s composition? For example, with enough time and tampering, could we theoretically go from horse to fish? And how much of this will we actually find in nature? Darwin seems to be on a line of thought (although he disregards it in favor of species classification) that says nature will never have the breadth of change that domestication does. The parameters aren’t set. There seems to be a need for ‘total manipulation,’ a requisite for every variable to point in the proper direction to elicit truly drastic changes. This makes sense to me when we compare it to the paleo readings, and the discovery of evolution having varying rates of speed. Hell, this reminds of the chaos theory discussion that permeates Jurassic Park. My math major is showing, but to me, it all comes down to variables.

My conclusion – domestication provides such a greater species variety and difference than nature because the variables are controlled. It’s like psychological reinforcement, strict selection of desirable domesticate traits ‘reinforces’ natural selection (you can tell me that’s a stupid analogy). The better we control the variables, the greater the differences between domesticates and natural creatures, and the more careful we have to be with classifying the two by the same template. Especially if we forget about a certain reproductive amphibian variable that allows dinosaurs to breed and then kill us all.

Food Fundamentals

The story given as the ‘beginning of archeology’ makes me a little hesitant. I was interested to learn how the categories of the ‘Ages’ were originally developed, but I expected something a bit more….scientific? Does anyone else think it’s weird that our chronology of early civilization is based off a government employee with no education on the subject deciding to categorize artifacts, saying “Yeah, that looks about right,”?  To be fair, Anthony goes on to list genuine historical criteria for determining chronology later in the article, but I thought I’d start with a comment on his introduction.

I especially liked Anthony’s section on food as cultural identity. It actually reminds me of Diamond (doesn’t everything remind me of Diamond?) – not in a comparison of subject matter, but in a question of fundamentals. Anthony writes:

“Long ago, before all these modern conveniences appeared, getting food determined how people spent much of their day, every day: what time they woke in the morning, where they went to work, what skills and knowledge they needed there, whether they could live in independent family homes or needed the much larger communal labor resources of a village, how long they were away from home, what kind of ecological resources they needed, what cooking and food-preparation skills they had to know, and even what foods they offered to the gods…wealth and the political power it conveyed were equated with cultivated land and pasture.”

Isn’t this exactly what Diamond contends? I think his work sees a bigger picture – concerning energy within a total environment, but I would say Anthony’s opinion on the importance of food in early history and culture should influence how we think about Diamond’s work. It would seem that not just any resources conferred technological dominance and power to cultures and people, but those specifically pertaining to the efficacious production of food. And this isn’t a coincidence; water and calories seem to be the most fundamental needs of a human. Diamond is all about the fundamentals: what were the ancient causes of certain societies’ (Europe’s) historical dominance over other peoples? However, I think we can reach a deeper conclusion. Anthony’s section on food, beyond the opening paragraph, carries an implication that food is such a good indicator of history and culture because it is so fundamental to both. My point is: I want to qualify Diamond’s ideas. I don’t think he went deep enough. I think a society’s ability to provide for its people outweigh other ‘energy’ factors. For example: silkworms provide a means of production within a society. They’re a useful domesticate. This doesn’t however, dictate that a society creating silk will have the means to become superior to its neighbors. Chickens, on the other hand, are a better domesticate, because of their higher caloric content. Cows are even better, as you can both eat them, and use them for labor in agriculture. Doesn’t it make sense that the fertile crescent was the center of early humanity if you consider they developed agriculture and grain cultivation?

I’m not sure I’ve actually broken new ground on any of this – we’ve touched on similar issues in class before. But I really took to the quoted paragraph and Anthony’s “What Did They Eat?” section. Regardless, I think this is something worth revisiting if class discussion heads in its direction.

Seven Goats, One Human

Bulliet would have a field day with this. Goat Song is probably the most quaint, quiet, romantic thing I’ve ever read. It just oozes idealized affection for nature, long walks in the woods, domestication, and self-reflection over quotes pulled out of Walden.
On a personal level, I enjoyed Goat Song; I’m a boyscout, I have a soft spot for nature, particularly when romanticized in the fashion Kessler does, with quotes like “Wind rakes the trees. Clouds float shadows through the grass…I’ll open that tome again and find this day again inside its rind: the aromatic grass, the leaves, this wind.”

This book was a little difficult to tie in to the rest of our readings, as Kessler doesn’t really seem to have any sort of secret motive to convert his readers to a way of thinking. Most other readings make some sort of claim that I can rage against and explore, but Goat Song is easily the least incendiary thing we’ve read.

With that said, I feel we can make a decent discussion out of comparing this to Bulliet’s perspective and thinking. Kessler starts with a quote pretty early in: “A story about what it’s like to live with animals who directly feed you. I tell of cheese and culture and agriculture, but also of the rediscovery of a pastoral life. Rediscovery because the longer I lived with goats the more connections I saw to a collective human past we’ve since forgotten, here in North America at least.” Bulliet actually starts with something fairly similar as well, as he hearkens back to past years where everybody was a farmer, and moves on to discuss the First World’s break from animal slaughter. Now neither of these summaries have any real assertions to them, but I’d like to think Bulliet would look fondly on Goat Song. I’m moving in to speculative territory here (because I’ve yet to figure out Bulliet’s actual viewpoint on most of what he writes about), but the idea of a ‘rediscovery’ seems to fit quite nicely into Bulliet’s model of a domestic and post-domestic world being fundamentally different. In fact, that’s what Kessler seems to imply throughout the reading. Everything seems to move in this direction toward a more primal, fulfilling life, as if the domestication era had some secret of the universe that the post-domesticate world forgot. And while Bulliet never actually gives an outright affirmation toward the farms and lifestyles of his boyhood friends from Indiana, there certainly seems to be a sense of fondness and nostalgia (which I might consider similar to our ‘paleo nostalgia’) around those idealizations. And although I certainly don’t want to discount such nostalgia as uncritical and idiotic (as I have never experienced a domestic lifestyle and frequently feel a sense of longing for a similar world), it would seem prudent to be wary of such romantic thoughts. Domestic nostalgias aren’t backed by the same pseudoscience (or legitimate science) as paleofantasies are, but we shouldn’t take the breezy descriptions by Kessler (and Bulliet) at face value. I’m sure there are plenty of downsides to living in a domestic world, even if Kessler chose to omit them.

I think I can say a few things about Diamond’s ideas pertaining to this writing as well. While Diamond’s work is firmly rooted in science, I expect he as well would be fond of hearing Kessler allude to experiencing a ‘collective human past.’ Such a reference seems to support ideas of domesticates as the original ‘technology,’ and (if we are to follow Diamond’s theory) feels very European. If Europe became the dominant continent partially due to superior domesticates, then mustn’t nostalgia for such a ‘past’ be rooted in Europe?

That all may be a little circular and roundabout, but I think I’ll have a better chance of making my point in class anyway.



Questions for 2/26/13

1) How do you think paleofantasies stem from a general nostalgia for the past, and how are they their own specific phenomena?

2) Bulliet spends a great deal of time talking about the rise of vegetarianism due to a post-domestic society. Why hasn’t a paleo lifestyle, almost acting as the antithesis of vegetarianism, arisen as well?

3) Does a malleable rate of change in evolution alter how we view Diamond’s geography theory? Could the rate of how animals were domesticated determine which societies achieved technological dominance first?

4) Do reindeer possibly demonstrate a ‘slower’ domestication process, explaining the various potential stages of domestication found within their species, or is such domestic potential static?

5) Can we envision a future where paleofantasies are more prevalent, especially in media, food culture, etc.?

6) Robb Wolf, a proponent of the paleo diet, suggests that early hominid activity does not dictate a healthy lifestyle. He says that ‘normal is rarely healthy,’ and that humans are evolved to operate in a constant state of disease. Does this inherently invalidate the arguments of any paleofantasy?

7) Has our process of artificial selection on domesticates sped up the rate of evolution within those species? Can we or have we ‘domesticated’ them quicker? Have we sped up the rate of evolution on ourselves through this relationship?

8) Proponents of the paleo diet specifically point to the dawn of the agriculture revolution as the decline of human nutrition. However, the ability for societies to achieve western ‘progress’ was originally built entirely upon the adoption of agriculture. Does this suggest a definite clash between how we live and how evolution intended us to live? Is the agricultural revolution the point where we ‘broke’ from other species and evolution (suggesting evolution had an intent)? Note: this is the thesis presented in the novel Ishmael by Dan Quinn):
“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with people. Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world. Given a story to enact in which they are the lords of the world, they will act as the lords of the world. And, given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.”

A Paleo Lifestyle – Relatively Useful

I’ll start with my disclaimer: I am a half-hearted supporter and former follower of the paleo diet. Even so, I found myself agreeing with a good bit of what Marlene Zuk has to say regarding the rise of ‘paleofantasies,’ a term she seems to define as the

“idea that our modern lives are out of touch with the way human beings evolved and that we need to redress the imbalance…it would be more natural, and healthier, to live more like our ancestors. A corollary to this notion is that we are good at things we had to do back in the Pleistocene, like keeping an eye out for cheaters in our small groups, and bad at things we didn’t, like negotiating with people we can’t see and have never met.”

For some insight on just how far the paleo lifestyle can go, check out:


Now back to our article. My first contention goes against Zuk’s general definition of what the paleo movement is really focused on. I was introduced to the paleo diet through a general interest in fitness (every single CrossFit gym advocates paleo). The general argument isn’t that we should radically alter our lives to better replicate a romanticized notion of early hominid life, it’s rather the idea that we are healthier when engaging in certain activities that elicit better gene expression. For example, unless you belong to the very small section of the population adapted to grains or dairy, it’s best to avoid those foods and eat plants and animals instead (although we evolved to handle a broad diet, so you can still eat them if you desire). Paleo lifestyles also advocate exercise in the form of ‘functional movement,’ which can be considered walking, sprinting, gymnastics, sport, and basic weight lifting. We essentially don’t want to see someone going to the gym to burn 300 calories on the treadmill, then hopping on the bicep curl machine, and calling that fitness.

That’s how my paleofantasy goes, and it has decent support from prominent strength and conditioning coaches such as Charles Poliquin, Mark Rippetoe, and Greg Glassman. However, there are plenty of points Zuk makes that should be considered, particularly with an eye for the vapid money-whoring buzzwords that the monstrosity of modern marketing will soon be touting out to millions of gullible shoppers. Zuk only briefly touches on this, “Newspaper articles, morning TV, dozens of books, and self-help advocates promoting slow-food or no-cook diets, barefoot running, sleeping with our infants, and other measures large and small claim that it would be more natural, and healthier, to live more like our ancestors.” But I think it’s a trend worth examining further. Can’t we all imagine a not-so-distant future where grocery foods contain labels such as ‘paleo’ and ‘primal’ are touted alongside the vegan, vegetarian, and ten different variations of ‘organic’ labels? Where Dr. Oz (who, by the way, is a huge promoter of pseudoscience and general idiocy) supports the latest paleo-endorsing author whose core message (like every other diet writer) is ‘it’s not your fault for being fat,’ in front of hordes of unhealthy housewives? Where the ideas of avoiding processed grains and sticking to basic exercise are co-opted by some ridiculous hippie-colon-cleansing-in-tune-with-your-inner-energy movement and companies start selling a bunch of silly weight loss supplements incorrectly branded as paleo. The whole thing terrifies me. The hipster in me doesn’t want to see something that holds a soft spot in my heart get bastardized by this country’s health trend sensationalism.

And for the most part, Zuk’s main thesis isn’t anything I’ve written about so far. The idea of evolution having different rates of effect brings a new level of examination to this subject (and for a math major, makes evolution much more interesting). So if evolution does happen faster than we thought, what does that mean for our adaption and our domesticates? Can animals be domesticated faster than we previously believed? Does this add another factor to consider when examining and comparing the quality of various domesticates? Would such a factor be enough to either support or dent Diamond’s theory of domesticate geography influencing societal dominance?

And how quickly and to what degree can humans as a species change? Maintaining a tolerance to dairy (especially cow milk) throughout adulthood is one thing, but I seriously doubt we will ever evolve a metabolic system that can utilize refined carbohydrates well.Tolerate seems like a possibility, but beneficial use? Here’s the thing, man-made refined carbs are terrible for you. They’re garbage. Milk is natural, with growth hormone and a decent macro nutrient ratio. Fun fact – cow’s milk contains the same kind of growth hormone as human milk, essentially putting it just a step below anabolic steroids for facilitating muscle growth.

Zuk makes a convincing argument against our growing paleofantasies, particularly with the research she references throughout her piece. The discovery that evolution has it’s own rate seems completely obvious and intuitive, yet so many public authorities regard it as an ancient and minor force in today’s world. Despite Zuk’s argument, I still contend there are some very good aspects of examining the science behind ‘paleo’ habits for a healthier life. If you’d like to learn more about the fitness side of the paleo movement, I’d recommend you check out Robb Wolf, a former competitive weightlifter, gym owner, evolutionary biologist, and author of The Paleo Solution. Beyond that, the early articles found in the CrossFit Journal are useful as well. I still fall slightly on the paleo side, because I’ve seen the science used by those who argue against Zuk, but paleofantasies certainly seem to be a very real phenomena.


The Reindeer People

This post will be little different than previous ones. Rather than rant about a single point made throughout the reading, I’ll be jumping around between smaller pieces of the reading I’d like to write about, as I’m having trouble finding a large enough theme that I can really write passionately (read: angrily) about.

I was rather excited to learn that the link between reindeers and flying has its roots in history, and goes beyond the trappings of Santa-Claus-Western-Commercialization. I’d like to make a note on an almost passing remark by Vitebsky, “On earlier stones the image of the reindeer is simple, but some 500 years later it has become more ornate.” So the Eveny experienced relatively little cultural change for at least 500 years? I’m always astounded by how long indigenous and native peoples can maintain a way of life. Now, the author goes into more depth about how the Eveny have survived thousands of years with the reindeer, but I thought I’d use this quote as it’s the first real mention of their exceptionally long time span that I’ve seen.

Now on to my point: does the Eveny’s existence contradict Diamond’s theory of geography, particularly animal domestication, playing the most pivotal role in societal and technological development? Certainly these people have made advancements, such as transitioning from nomadic to domestic livelihoods, and they’ve certainly had a degree of success surviving for thousands of years in Siberia. But I would have expected these people to achieve a more ‘Westernized’ society by now. I generally agree with Diamond’s hypothesis, but hasn’t this society shown that reindeer are a major domestic species? Are they not used for thigns that other European domestic animals are, such as food, transportation, work, and ceremony? While the reindeer is certainly unique compared to the traditional banal animals domesticated by Europe, like the cow, pig, and horse, it appears to fulfill many of the same functions that Diamond touts as the keys to societal abundance and domination. I’d ultimately like to see Diamond’s paradigm remain accurate, so any criticisms as to why my question is flawed are very welcome.

Let’s talk about the deeply religious role the reindeer plays in Eveny society. Vitebsky goes into great breadth and depth describing the ceremonies of the shamans, and the more I read, the more I’m confused as to how it was all accepted by the people. Flying reindeer? Really? The shamans clearly couldn’t fly, so how did they convince themselves and the onlookers that such a thing actually happened? Vitebsky even writes “I do not understand how the old Eveny acted out the experience of flying through the air, but they would mime their return to Earth by sitting on their reindeer as if they were arriving from a long journey, expressing tiredness, unsaddling their mount, pitching a tent, and lighting a fire.” I suppose my confusion, in some ways, reflects my expectations of Diamond’s theory. I don’t understand how a people with a potentially domestic relationship (at the time these ceremonies were being performed) were so unenlightened on reason and science (I think my arrogant Westernism might be showing). Everything I’ve read about these people makes me suspect they’re some form of anomaly, something beyond Diamond’s theories that never ‘advanced’ in the same manner that Western cultures did as a result of domestication. I can think of a number of reasons why: religious ceremonies that never allowed the Eveny to view their animals as property, extremely harsh environments that prohibit technological advancement regardless of society, the reindeer being too poor of a domesticate to properly increase ‘progress’.

I’ve searched online for summaries of this book, and it seems that Vitebsky focuses the Eveny throughout the book more than their reindeer counterparts. I’m not entirely sure where this is all going and how I can fit it into the larger ‘domestication worldview’ I’ve developed so far through this course. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m a little wary about this. Not in the same way I view Bulliet, I just haven’t found out how to approach reading this book.

Response on ‘From trust to domination’

I’d like to start by just quoting Tim Ingold’s opening paragraph here, as he offers a very succinct summary of a few points I’d like to tackle throughout this post.

“Just as humans have a history of their relations with animals, so also animals have a history of their relations with humans. Only humans, however, construct narratives of this history. Such narratives range from what we might regard as myths of totemic origin to supposedly ‘scientific’ accounts of the origins of domestication. And however we might choose to distinguish between myth and science, if indeed the distinction can be made at all, they have in common that they tell us as much about how the narrators view their own humanity as they do about their attitudes and relations to non-human animals. In this chapter I aim to show that the story we tell in the West about the human exploita- tion and eventual domestication of animals is part of a more encompassing story about how humans have risen above, and have sought to bring under control, a world of nature that includes their own animality.”

So why exactly do humans create stories about their relationships with animals? Why is our history of animal relations told primarily through stories and not the standard template of facts, records, and concluded trends and themes?

First, we posses exceptional communication abilities; we create languages. Regardless of how sophisticated or close other primate and animal communication systems are, humanity is quite clearly above other species in at least some manner in this category.  As Ingold notes, our ability to tell stories is one of the main qualifiers of this proclaimed superiority. We should note, however, that fictional storytelling is rather unique to more primitive societies, societies that rely more on superstition, myth, and stories than science. And these stories go beyond human-animal relations; such stories are used to explain the world and environment in which the creator lives. With this in mind, stories between human-animal relationships are just another piece of a broader list of phenomena that societies explain without science.

Now certainly there are unique qualities regarding human-animal stories. Firstly, there are a great deal of them, and I suspect they played a particularly important part in primitive societies. A casual example might be the cave paintings of ancient man that seem to place a significant emphasis on animals they came in contact to.

Let’s discuss this section section of Ingold’s essay – “humans have risen above, and have sought to bring under control, a world of nature that includes their own animality. In this story, a special role is created for that category of human beings who have yet to achieve such emancipation from the natural world: known in the past as wild men or savages, they are now more politely designated as hunters and gatherers. I shall be looking at how hunter-gatherers have come to be stereotypically portrayed, in Western anthropo- logical accounts, as surviving exemplars of the ‘natural’ condition of mankind.”

I disagree wholeheartedly that the hunter-gatherer necessarily represents man’s ‘natural’ state. I believe that while man has a kinship with animals and the wilderness, he cannot survive in the same ‘natural’ state that other animals seem to be comfortable with. Perhaps this is because we have no adaptions to make us comfortable. Our adaption of intelligence allows us to mold or create our environment, rancher than our environment molding us. We are both belong and do not belong to nature. Before the influences of western society (or any society), humanity has sought to tamper with its environment, to escape its harshness. I suspect this is was the precursor to ‘enlightenment’, to that state of detachment from nature. Together, we might tentatively conclude that man has two competing drives: that to be a part of nature, and that to rise above it. Many a society’s stance on how people should live in regard to their habitat, and the surrounding natural world is a reconciliation between the two. I feel comfortable stating that what we consider to be morality and enlightenment are mutually divisive against natural urges and animal desire (or at least what this animal relationship lens call ‘animal’).

Bulliet, in Hunters, Herders, and Hamburgersalso quotes enlightenment authors as he discusses the western philosophy of humanity being separate and above the rest of the natural world. While he applies the conclusions to the development of two separate lifestyles in post-domestic society, it’s interesting to see this discussion of man’s natural or unnatural place in nature reappear in several different works. This is one of my favorite topics in the subject of domestication, and while I don’t entirely subscribe to Bulliet’s presentation of the enlightenment philosophy of human superiority, I certainly feel there is something to be said for man’s awkward place in nature, rather than calling the hunter-gather his inherent and intended state.


2/05/13 Discussion Google Doc

Hunters, Herders, and Hamburgers

Richard Bulliet – Old man. Farming Background.

Sex and Blood

  • what does it mean when our childhood is part of seeing and exposure to sex and blood?
  • Differences: Domestic vs. Post-Domestic
  • Our experiences on… farms, with animals, Media: 16 and pregnant,
  • What is the reason for these differences? Animal relationships? Or is it caused by other things?
  • Humane Slaughter – Does it matter how?
    • matters more – the conditions in which they were raised
  • Efficiency? of slaughter “Production in the modern area” that’s the parallel. After WWII
    • Using animal slaughter techniques on humans! Woah!
    • The opposite – and “correct” reaction as opposite to the animals rights group message.
  • How long was the domestic era? What about sex and blood / violence in the pre-domestic era?
  • Beastiality- a common thing at Bulliet’s time?
    • is this superior to fantasy?
    • You still can get your milk delivered. or otherwise conveniently.
    • The “Domestic Era” is actually 10,000 years – and beastiality was more common then than it is now. The experience with Sex and Blood and violence is fundamentally different than ours now.
    • Switzerland.

Motivations for vegetarianism:
post-domestic guilt (about the conditions of modern agriculture / food animals)
environmentalism – nature is important
social conscience – first world guilt

Real Experience …. to …. Fantasy

  • Roman blood sports and now Football Stadium… Things were more “realistic” … Is getting the experience very very good for people?

Evolutionary speaking, we are omnivores.

Are we part of nature or separate / above it? Us. Woman. Man. Human.
Our role in earth stewardship?
Are we limited by its carrying capacity? Does technology make it infinitely exploitable?
Our evolution – adapted to “think” and so we use it to create/alter animals and nature. So maybe that’s just what nature intended. right? right.
All organisms have altered their environment. We are similar in our impacts. So how are humans and animals different?

It’s Human Nature.
That’s what we say to justify ALL of our actions.
we differ by only… such a tiny percent of DNA.

Hunting – the way we hunt if different. Domesticating – a way to overcome hunting.
How does science define life? (see fig 1.1)

  • A fundamental tension about the category of “animal” to tell us about us.
  • Animals don’t do that. or You’re acting like an ANIMAL.
  • EVIL: makes us unique….
  • Oh, but we’re the different ones.

Biology defines life as having these requirements (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life):

  1. Homeostasis: Regulation of the internal environment to maintain a constant state; for example, electrolyte concentration or sweating to reduce temperature.
  2. Organization: Being structurally composed of one or more cells — the basic units of life.
  3. Metabolism: Transformation of energy by converting chemicals and energy into cellular components (anabolism) and decomposing organic matter (catabolism). Living things require energy to maintain internal organization (homeostasis) and to produce the other phenomena associated with life.
  4. Growth: Maintenance of a higher rate of anabolism than catabolism. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter.
  5. Adaptation: The ability to change over time in response to the environment. This ability is fundamental to the process of evolution and is determined by the organism’s heredity, diet, and external factors.
  6. Response to stimuli: A response can take many forms, from the contraction of a unicellular organism to external chemicals, to complex reactions involving all the senses of multicellular organisms. A response is often expressed by motion; for example, the leaves of a plant turning toward the sun (phototropism), and chemotaxis.
  7. Reproduction: The ability to produce new individual organisms, either asexually from a single parent organism, or sexually from two parent organisms.

Philosophy of Life

  • Our place in the universe…Cf:

The Human situation
Main article: Human situation
The human situation appears to be a struggle between what is (existence) and what ought (essence) to be.

Four eras: of the human-animal relationship

  1. Seperation
  2. Pre-Domestic
  3. Domestic
  4. Post-Domestic

Powerful and True forces but they are not all encompassing ones. ???
Man-eating tiger. Predation. Motivation. “Theory of Mind” Read this Book.
Spiders, Snakes, Being Eaten Alive: Hard-wired. from our evolution. unconscious reactions.

This distance between these eras becoming shorter?
Future of animal-human relations. What do we predict?

Unique – Group vs. Individual vs. Species
Now are we better?
Personalities and Animals. Are animals individuals? group consensus is that they are.
Check out Tinbergen….

  • perception and stimuli from environment determines your being.
  • Survival Strategy.


Contradictions in this day and age
Vegetarians that wear leather and keep dogs and cats as pets

ANCIENT ALIENS: George Washington