Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thirsty Thursday

Animals get drunk too! Here is a video of some animals eating a type of fruit that gets them drunk. There are a lot of similarities between drunk humans and drunk animals. It's very funny to see wasted elephants try to walk straight. 

Banana Slug...

I finished the last final of my undergraduate career today. As I was walking from my class to the bus stop, I spotted a dead banana slug. The first thought that came to my mind was that someone was trying to kiss it and killed as a result. I’m sure everyone, who is a student at UCSC, knows that human saliva and skin oil is actually very deadly to banana slugs. The sight just made me think further about the relationship between humans and animals. We co-exist with each other and benefit from each other. Banana slugs, in this case, do not bring any harm to human’s existence. Yet, they are constantly killed. Accident or not, I think we, as humans, should be more conscious of our impact on other natural beings. I also feel that UCSC itself, as well as other educational institutions, does not put in enough effort to raise awareness for the native animals that reside on campus. I do feel satisfied that UCSC has classes such as LIT80E that teaches students about animals. I’m glad I took this class this quarter because it has opened my eyes to the importance of animals and how humans’ actions can impact their existence.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Would You Eat Your Own Baby ?

 Please take a good long look at these pictures and what they represent. Think about what they really mean. I know it's not very pleasant but it's extremely important. And it's always better to know the truth than to live in hypocrisy. 

In reality there's no difference between a human baby and a pig baby. When we were talking about abortion in my Writing 2 class, we saw some disturbing pictures of unborn dead human beings with blood and all that… and these pictures were supposed to make us understand how terrible abortion is. And personally, I still don't think that abortion is as terrible as what we do to innocent animals. I actually think it's much better than that, because there are too many humans on this planet nowadays (7 billion…!!) And of course, they all need to eat something. That's why we need to find a balance. We need to stop using other animals for our basic needs and stop reproducing so much….!

For all the hypocrites (like me) :

I think it's ok to eat someone if you kill them yourself (if you still feel like eating them after killing them). What I don't find OK is the way humans made it an industry, a system. It's just not fair in principle.

That's how they take those innocent lives, pure torture… I wish they could use it on humans:

After all, we are probably not the most intelligent species on Earth.

Please don't buy anything from these labels:

Especially relevant today in California:

"Destroy": because she is deemed worthless. This is motherhood in the meat industry. This pig is probably 2-5 years old, has spent her agonizing life being inseminated and giving birth in a crate to babies who will either be slaughtered long before their 1st birthday or live the same horrific life that she has. 

So if this picture bothers you, please stop eating meat.

Now let's all make a wish that people will one day stop being so ignorant and cruel. Humans are the worst creatures on this planet, and yet some of them are the best. Those who don't hurt other living beings and help them.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Do Animals Talk To Each Other?

Initially I had planned to write my fifth paper on this article written by Erica Goode:
At Donna Haraway's talk, I asked what can we learn from how interspecies members relate to each other to improve our human-animal relations? It was a direct reference to this article, which references Haraway herself, from her novel When Species Meet. Biologists have generated a range of terms for how species may interact: mutualism, parasitism, commensalism, competition, but there is mostly a dearth of research on any sort of companionship that is not based on direct need. I do not mean to say friendship doesn't provide a support network which is highly beneficial; no, how can one make this claim when research in graph theory and social networks has shown that we can show which individuals are most likely to commit suicide by recreating a matrix of their relationships? We mostly discount animals' capabilities for language and emotion, which are deemed the (human) basis for companionship, so it is easy to see why any possibility of interspecies friendship was also ignored. If you are to read papers in behavioral ecology, you will certainly find accounts of animals "signaling" to each other, but they are always framed in evolutionary contests. Goode includes the story of Safi and Wister, a dog-donkey friendship, which we viewed in class. Young animals seem particularly impressionable in forming these interspecies relationships. The extreme case is of course the baby birds who imprint on other animals that are not their true mothers, and we, the human species, are not exempt from these anomalous occurrences. The stories of the wolf children in Humanimal speak to a interspecies relationship, that even exceeds mere companionship. They have been entirely inducted into the folds of wolfe society. Haraway's naturecultures are heavily present here. Genetic material is passed down within species for a shared communication, but they are also refined and perfected in those formative infant days through culture. And when these cultures are not of the species which they constitute, children do not seem to break down but adapt! I had heard about dogs being added to cheetah exhibits in order to relax them. The article suggests that the dog is particularly good at cross-species communication due to our cross-species relationship with them. She also suggests our fascination with these relationships is derived from our desire to have a more friendly connection to nature, a goal which seems always out of reach. We are lonely in a world where no other species has truly been able to communicate with us. Can you think of films/fiction in which the animals are friends and talk to each other? Dumbo comes to mind, Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella, and in general many children's books and allegories. How do we imagine these relationships to be like? There is, I think, sometimes this feeling that all animals speak to each other and we are the only ones who are not included in this language. Animals certainly whisper sweet nothings into each other's, for how can hybrids come about? But hybrids are often rejected by either group because they cannot communicate successfully, and we once again come to the crucial question of whether animal language can cross species lines.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Masson & McCarthy, “Grief, Sadness, and the Bones of Elephants”

Above is a link to a short video. It concerns the mourning habits of elephants when it comes to there dead. In Masson and McCarthy they say it has to do with elephants ability to recognize the features of others. The ritual they describe is shown in the video. The elephants will turn the bones over and over tracing the contours of the face seeming to recognize the skull or bone. They will even carry them from time to time for miles.

I had to take pictures of this article from Gaia magazine, a UCSC student produced and environmentally inspired magazine, because there was no link on their website. 
I really enjoyed reading this article and think it brings up a lot of good points about veganism. I am vegan and have been vegan on and off for years now. It's a very rewarding lifestyle, but also easy for me to fall off the wagon. 
This article discusses the motivation for people who choose a vegan lifestyle. When I first became vegan years ago it was for health reasons. After transferring to UCSC in 2013 I slowly started incorporating dairy products and eggs into my diet because I convinced myself it was easier and faster (which sometimes it is). I ate a non-vegan diet until recently when we watched Behind the Mask in class. It made me re-examine my lifestyle and I found it's worth it to put extra effort into my diet for the sake of the animals.
Enough about me, let's move on! The article also discusses the nutritional factors of being vegan as well as the treatment of animals and even how veganism could feed the hungry people around the world. The most interesting part for me however, was the discussion of Jenna Wogenrich and her article titled, "My Beef With Beef: Why I Stopped Being a Vegetarian". I don't want to ruin the article for everyone but I highly suggest you read this!

Have a good summer guys! Let's meme!

Well the quarter is almost over and here is my current reaction:
Then I remembered I had finals so then I'm like:

So yeah, that's happening. So yo make me happy, and to try to and brighten up our miserable lives. I'm going to be discussing animals in memes. Why are animals such popular memes? Well look at this guy:

That is one of my greatest fears around here. But that's why it's funny. We see animals and we want to relate them to our modern lives. And making something look funny makes them less daunting and terrifying. For example:
Without the funny caption, if you saw this face, you'd be saying...oh snap, RUN!!!!! If you say otherwise, you're a liar. But we see non humans in funny situations that we as humans can relate to....or at the very least make fun of. What better example of this than GRUMPY CAT!!!

Isn't this so true? This is me on most given school days. So animal memes are just our ways of trying to connect with animals through the universal human necessity of comedy and laughter. Ladies and gentleman, it's been a pleasure writing for you, and I hope you all have a good summer (and that Sophie recommends giving me an A, thanks Sophie).
(Toto's in this picture, so it counts as an animal meme)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

As the Quarter Winds Down...

Over the course of this class, I have had mixed feelings about the subject of animals. I often had a hard time maintaining my focus in lecture but despite the occasional drifting off, my eyes were opened to a lot of concepts that I had no idea even existed. I had never wondered about the existence of a different spectrum of emotions that correspond with different animals. Just that idea alone is off-setting about how I previously perceived animals. I already was made conscious of the quantity of meat I eat by this class and have since cut back. I have changed my view of animals as subjugates of humanity and sympathize with many of their situations in life now. Literature-wise, I now recognize animals in a piece with a deeper cognition. While animals are not solidly-general in their symbolism, they usually play a much deeper role than what I had initially seen. They do not just represent a certain quality, but they themselves can be characters in a book. This class helped me recognize that animals are more than just symbols. They are characters.

Riding Elephants in Thailand

Last summer, I went back to Vietnam to visit my family, after 10 years. I was really excited because, other than visiting my family, I wanted to also take a trip to Thailand since it is a neighboring county. I have always been fascinated with Elephants and riding on one is at the top of my bucket list. However, the limited time did not give the opportunity to visit Thailand.

Ever since I got back to America, I have noticed that elephants have become a new clothing trend. Every store you look, there’s at least a few clothing items with elephants printed on them. I bought a few shirts with elephants on them since they are so adorable and I love elephants. My interest in elephants have intensified ever since I started taking this class. All the concepts about animals being symbolic and such, as well as the types of animal cruelty, made me more curious about the tourism industry in Thailand. Elephant rides have been known as one of Thailand’s most famous tourist activities. I found this article written by Matthew Karsten, who described his trip to Thailand and his discovery of the Elephant Nature Park. It is a natural sanctuary for elephants who have been rescued from the torturous tourism industry in Thailand.

What stood out to me the most is the part where Matthew talked about the torture of baby elephants. Wild elephants are naturally not calm enough to allow humans to ride on their back all day. Therefore, elephant trainers have to “crush” the elephants’ wild spirit at a young age, when they’re babies. Baby elephants are beaten, tortured, and starved into submission.

This articled changed my whole perspective on riding elephants. I thought that they were just large but gentle creatures, who did not mind having humans on their back because they were still allowed to live in the wild. However, I did know that they were being tortured to lose their wild spirit for the sake of the tourism business. This was a very eye-opening read. And I can say that, I will taking riding elephants off my bucket list from now on. 

Friday, June 5, 2015


I'm surprised that this class never touched on the documentary Blackfish. With such an emphasis on animal rights, it think this was a major event that should have been shared. I had watched the documentary before this quarter began, randomly one day bored at home. It is crazy to see Seaworld doing something like this to animals. They make such a profit from them, you would think they would take better care of them. I would have liked to hear Carla's commentary about Blackfish, and what points she would have made about it. It would have been a perfect film for this class, and what she wanted to present to us about animals and humans.

My Lit80E quarter

My major so far is undeclared but am planning on going into Literature and minoring in Languistics.
When I enrolled in this class, my motive was only to pass this class because my advisor had suggested me on taking it. My only goal in this class was to pass and get out of here because I had no interest in animals.
As the quarter went on and I was assigned readings and assignments, I started putting more interest in the course. But it was until we started the discussion sessions and the topics discussed in sections that I was totally absorbed in this class. Since I was taking writing 2 (Writing Disney) along with this class this quarter, I realized there were many similarities between these two course, so I stRted making connections (but focusing more on my writing class than Lit).
At the start of the quarter when my TA told me that we can write blog that can also count as participation in dicsussion, I was released because I did not want to participate in the class at all because I don't like talking about animals much and I had nothing to say. But on the very first day, my TA started the discussion in such a way that I could not stop I myself from speaking up and getting in the discussion too. I still remember that we talked about the creation oh earth and Adam and Eve. After that day, I always looked forward to discussion sessions and my lecture where I find out the lives of animals I wasn't aware of at all.
As time went by, I was thinking more about the course and putting more time in it than I had planned to do. I did intend to pass from the beginning but I never thought I would be talking and thinking about animals so much as to want to write better with each assignment given. By the end of the quarter, I had made a special emotional relationship with the animals around me and started to think of them as some who is very much alike me and started respecting them more.
Thanks to Lit80E, I will never think of animals as creatures crawling around on Earth but as living creature who are very much a likes me and try my best to get along with them all to best of my abilities.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Importance of Animal Testing

When I finished reading the essay "Chimeras in the Cross-hairs", I had really conflicting feelings. On one hand, I think it is imperative that we keep exploring the uses of cloning for the benefit of mankind. On the other hand, the price to find cures for the many diseases and conditions that plague, comes at the cost of animal lives. I know if it weren't for animal testing, many of us will not be here right now, and many medical problems will remain unsolved. Tens of millions of animals have probably died for our benefit, but that seems like its the price to pay to solve the endless medical problems we have. I really hope one day scientists can develop ways to cure diseases without the use of live beings. I know it is a long shot, but maybe in the future we'll be able to find cures for diseases just by using computer simulation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fur Is Not Fashionable

As meat is a large commodity in today's world, so are other parts of certain animals. A part of an animal that keeps it warm and defines its very essence is being stripped away by the fur trade. Somehow these places of such cruelty stay hidden from view. Small steel sheds contain rows and rows of cages filled with fragile little bodies The animals contained in these cages are mostly minks, foxes and raccoon dogs. These animals widen their anxious eyes, pace inside the cage, and cry out loud. "For most of these creatures, even death is not kind. Just before their first birthday, they will be gassed or electrocuted. Their skin will be removed to adorn the trim of a trendy parka or pair of boots. The rest of their body will simply be discarded into a pile of trash or compost. 100 million lives are lost each year in this way" (Lush). How can someone wear a fur coat so proudly? I cringe in disdain.

Animals and Mirrors

I was on Facebook the other day and came across this link. A friend of mine posted it on another friend's wall. Some people put a mirror in the middle of a jungle to see how animals react to it. I'm blogging this because the person who posted it to my friend's wall commented "monkeys are so dumb," to which my friend responded "the gorillas are so stupid." The comments really made me think about how humans place themselves over animals. The video is still pretty funny though.

Peta2 Facebook Page

Peta2 Facebook Page

As I was scrolling down my newsfeed on Facebook I saw a link that my friend had shared about a woman who was “beaten” and “killed” for her fur ( she was not actually beat or killed) which was supposed to resemble humans beating and killing non-humans for their fur. There were other videos as well, such as one that was for the awareness of rabbit abuse in Asia. I noticed The Facebook page belonged to Peta2, an organization directed to the youth to learn more about animal rights. While on their Facebook page I found several interesting articles of informing the public about factory farming, animal testing, vegan foods, and etc. As I looked through some of the comments on some of the posts I found that were offended by Peta2 because of their graphic content. I found myself agreeing with those comments because I also do not like seeing such horrible videos of cute fluffy animals getting tortured, skinned, or hurt while alive. There are now horrendous  sounds and images I will never be able to get out of my head, but I guess I also understand that if people don’t see how graphic and intense these animals have it then the world will never see or understand why animal cruelty has to stop…I encourage others to take a minute and look through some of the articles on the Facebook page and educate themselves.

Monday, June 1, 2015

My Ramblings on Human Chimeras

For my last blog, I thought I'd have a little fun with my topic and look at the group of fantasy creatures known as semi-humans, humanoid chimeras, etc. I'm talking about fawns, centaurs, mermaids, minotaurs, harpies and satyrs. Looking through a handy list of hybrid creatures, which are labeled by which parts of them are human and which parts aren't, it really drives home the implications of our artificial boundaries between us and animals. Every creature on the list with some human part is dominated by that part. Most of the hybrids from human imagination, have the head of a human, or if not their entire body is human while just the head is that of an animal. Some of these creatures are just humans with animal parts stuck on them. It is very rare and very off putting to see a hybrid depicted with human parts tacked on along with others, rather than being a humanoid. Its odd as I can imagine the terrifying implications of an alligator with human arms -have fun trying to cage that in- or an enormous bear with human teeth. When trying to come up with an original creature, we always seem to start with a human and then do something to it, any human parts we add to a creature take over and turn it humanoid and we immediately think of it as more of a human than an animal. I guess what people know is a pretty good comfort zone, something we can relate with and yet we find intriguing, but something that shares a few bits and pieces of us, and that we cant relate with seems terrifying or grotesque.
-Also does any one else find it weird that most humans with animal heads are gods of some sort?

Is Abuse Worth the Entertainment?

Circus animals are proven to be very intelligent but in order to achieve this level of entertainment they must pass through rigorous training. Elephants in particular are very widely used in circuses and are usually spoken of most when relating them to abuse. The elephants have their spirit broken and are chained in uncomfortable positions for 25 hours at a time, or even more. When the elephants are handled, they are beaten with telescopic batons and managed with bull hooks in order to do what the trainer expects. An example of the horror the elephants must go through is when an elephant in Oklahoma was beaten with the bull hooks so severely that she bled and cried out in pain. Elephants were not the only animals targeted, but all circus animals; abuse occurred every day to everyone. All of the animals were hit, punched, beaten, and whipped by everyone from the head of animal care to inexperienced animal handlers.