Archive for December, 2010

Grumpy Vegan’s Seasonal Blessing

December 25th, 2010 No comments

“As little as possible,” is my answer to whenever I’m asked what am I doing for Christmas?

So, why have I just cleaned the house? About to prepare vegetables? Make curry? Cook rice? Lay the table? Get ready for guests? Doing laundry? Anticipating two hours of washing up later? Turning on the social button in my head to be pleasant to friends and loved ones?

And what do I get in return?

Two hours at lunchtime today in my local, the Jenny Lind.

Vinyl night tomorrow night in my local, the Jenny Lind. I’m dedicating all my disc time to Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica. If they don’t like it, well, they know what they can do if they can’t appreciate genius.

And snatched minutes reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Wondering why all along he didn’t bother to tell her how his first wife died? The latter not asking the former why he doesn’t? It may be 428 pages of well written prose but this is what happens when I take Daphne to bed instead of the other creative genius in my life, Virginia Woolf.

By the way, did you know the ConDems cancelled a £13 million grant to the charity, Bookstart, which funds gifting programmes for free books to health centres and health visitors, and free reading material to children starting infant and secondary school? I emailed yesterday my MP, Amber Rudd, asking her if she personally supported this move. If you’re a UK resident, please also ask your MP what their position is on this indefensible policy.

Bah! Humbug!

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Cruel Christmas

December 23rd, 2010 No comments

John Gilheany’s Christian Vegetarian Archive is an important resource for those who care about animal rights and Christianity.

Here’s a poem appropriate for this time of the year.

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Big Joan by Captain Beefheart Live!

December 18th, 2010 No comments
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Captain Beefheart RIP

December 18th, 2010 No comments

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Captain Beefheart. Genius.

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Animal Dharma Podcast 4 “The Misanthropic Bunker”

December 15th, 2010 4 comments

My forthcoming book, Animal Dharma, explores what it means to care deeply about animals and discovers how we can live peacefully with ourselves and others by proposing four key values: truth, compassion, nonviolence and interbeing–the interrelatedness of all.

This is the fourth in a series of podcasts in which I read out brief extracts from Animal Dharma. It is called “The Misanthropic Bunker.” When we live in a world which often seems to be floating in a sea of blood from the slaughter of billions of animals, it is tempting to hide in the misanthropic bunker. I explain why this isn’t an option if we want to achieve moral and legal rights for animals.

The Misanthropic Bunker

Please click here if you would like to listen to the first three podcasts from Animal Dharma “Camberley Kate Ward,” “Chicken Slaughterhouse” and “Becoming a Vegelical in the 1970s.”

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More on Barking Island Short Film

December 14th, 2010 No comments

CounterPunch, the political newsletter published in the US, recently included an article (November 16-30, 2010; couldn’t find the article online at time of posting this) by Larry Portis about the short film, “Barking Island.” Portis describes how the film contrasts “aesthetic beauty” and the “horror it recounts.” The animated images produced by filmmaker Serge Avedikian, according to Portis, reveal “luminous depth of the colours, the invocations of oriental Constantinople and the ferocity of figures [are] sublimely, compellingly cruel.”

When I first watched Barking Island I was completely taken in by the world Avedikian creates; however, as the true story unfolds the ultimate horror of its outcome is only revealed with further understanding of why the film was made.

Portis explains,

At some point, it was suggested that the animals be simply rounded up and transported to a desert island in the Bosporus. It would be an open-air dog pound where, eventually, about 30,000 offending creatures were concentrated. And there the extermination proceeded. The fact that no vegetation or other edible substance existed on the island en- sured a definitive resolution to the nuisance they represented. The island was too far from land to allow the creatures to swim back, although many tried. The only disagreeable aspect of the plan, once put into operation, were winds that conveyed the sounds of screams and howls to Constantinople. But this annoyance ceased after a few weeks.

I could not believe that this was a true story that happened in 1910. But it is. Then, I discover the deliberate abandonment of some 30,000 dogs on an island, which is not only unforgivable in of itself, that their murder was an instrument to facilitate the method to slaughter an even larger number of people.

“The plan to kill upward of one and a half million Armenians between 1915 and 1918,” Portis writes, “requred careful planning and rational experimentation. This is where the dogs came in. Cleansing Constantinople of the thousands of dogs roaming free there provided a fine opportunity to test methods used later on the Armenians.”

Kill tends of thousands of dogs to not only rid them from the streets of Constantinople but also use the experience to learn how to more effectively kill as many as 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1918.

“The massacre of the Armenians followed much the same pattern,” writes Portis. “Although gassing, burning, drowning, the injection of typhus bacilli in children, and other imaginable methods were employed, in the end most of the victims were forcibly displaced and died from exhaustion and starvation.”

He goes on to quote Avedikian who said,

The condition of dogs in Muslim countries is very particular. On the one hand, dogs are not generally allowed inside human dwellings. They are considered to be impure. But, on the other hand, they are recognized as having a social function and have the right to live. In fact, dogs are accepted and protected in these countries as nowhere else. In 1910, there were many examples of people interfering with the collection and deportation of the dogs. But the film is really concerned with more than just the events of 1910. Let me put it this way: modernization, especially urbanization, and now globalization, means the death of the free dogs. The dogs were scapegoats then, and now there is no room for free agents any- where. Whoever is on the margins, who is nonconventional, who refuses being controlled and forced into the national-state mold, will be an object of such repression. How many errant dogs or errant people will be allowed to exist? That is the question.

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Foxes Playing in the Snow in London

December 14th, 2010 No comments
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Barking Island Short Film

December 8th, 2010 No comments

Amber Rudd MP Supports Badger Cull

December 7th, 2010 No comments

Not satisfied with wanting foxes, stags, deer and hares to be hunted legally by pledging support for the repeal of the Hunting Act, Hastings and Rye MP, Amber Rudd, now wants to see Britain’s beloved badgers killed next.

On November 29 I wrote to Amber this letter on the government’s proposed badger cull. I concluded,

I ask respectfully that you reply by stating clearly your position on this issue, including whether you are for or against the government’s proposed badger cull and why.

As is clear from her response reproduced in full below, her failure to answer directly my question can only mean she supports the government’s plan to kill badgers. If, indeed, this is incorrect I invite Amber to email me directly. I pledge to publish in full here any clarification of her position.

Thank you for contacting me about the control of bovine TB.

Bovine TB is having a devastating effect on many farm businesses and families. Thousands of cattle are slaughtered each year at huge financial and emotional cost to farmers. Last year over 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in England because of the disease.

The cost to the taxpayer of controlling bovine TB in England was over £63million in 2009/10 (excluding scientific research). These costs are rising year by year. Eradicating bovine TB is our long term goal, but it is clear that the approach to date has failed. We need to take additional measures urgently to stop the disease spreading and to start to reverse the rising trend.

No single measure will be enough to tackle the disease on its own. We need to use every tool in the toolbox. However, the science is clear, there is no doubt that badgers are a significant reservoir for the disease and without taking action to control the disease in them, it will continue to spread. That is why the Coalition Government committed, as part of a package of measures, to developing affordable options for a carefully-managed and science-led policy of badger control in areas with high and persistent levels of bovine TB.

Defra is currently running a public consultation on “Bovine Tuberculosis: The Government’s approach to tackling the disease and consultation on a badger control policy”. This consultation will run until 8 December.

A decision on our approach will be taken following the consultation on badger control. The Government intends to publish a comprehensive and balanced bovine TB eradication programme early in 2011.

Kind regards,


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Mammal Society Opposes Badger Cull

December 7th, 2010 No comments

The Mammal Society in Britain issues a statement opposing the badger cull. Here is a link to their full statement. Here is the society’s conclusion:

The Mammal Society believes that the Government’s proposal is a roll-out of predetermined policy: it is not a controlled, randomised, replicated experiment (as would be required to demonstrate reliably the effects of badger culling). The Government undertook such an experiment – the RBCT – and has chosen to ignore the advice of the eminent scientists of the ISG who ran it. The Mammal Society regrets this.

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