Category Archives: Animals

Getting Eaten Alive By A Really Big Snake Ethics: The Rest Of The Story

My guess: Paul tastes like chicken...

My guess: Paul tastes like chicken…

When we left naturalist and filmmaker Paul Rosolie, we were told that he journeyed  to the Amazon, donned a special suit, slathered himself in pigs’ blood, and allowed himself to be swallowed whole by an anaconda on “Eaten Alive,” in a two-hour special produced by  the Discovery Channel that would air December 7.  Rosolie would be removed from the snake by a cord attached to his suit, presumably before he was digested. Animal rights groups and zoologists objected, quite accurately, that this was cruelty to animals for sport.

What did viewers see on December 7? (I’m sorry: my sock drawer desperately needed organizing that day. I’m basing this on published accounts.) Rosolie found an appropriately large and hungry  snake and attracted its attention in the water. The 20-feet long reptile attacked, wrapped around him and then began to constrict. Then the snake started to try to eat the naturalist head first:  Rosolie’s helmet camera provided a lovely shot of  the anaconda’s gaping throat.

At that point, Rosolie did a terrific imitation of Gene Wilder as “Young Frankenstein” after he had himself locked in a room with the Monster with instructions that nobody should let him out no matter how much he begged. (“Let me out! Let me OUT OF HERE!!! GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!!….Mommy!” ) Rosalie’s team rushed in and pulled him away, disappointing the snake. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Marketing and Advertising

How Statistics Abuse Make Us Lazy, Biased, Misinformed and Stupid: The Slate Dog Chart

Dog-Breeds-MAIN

A pet peeve (HAR!!!): computer geeks and statistics experts reducing complex issue into “simple” charts and graphs that have apparent credibility because of their form rather than their substance. I encounter this seductive form of fake erudition—“You can’t argue with statistics!”—in every field I explore: baseball, politics (Sorry, Nate Silver), social science, science (climate change models are a spectacular example), education. “Simple, straightforward” arrays of statistics that hide biases, dubious assumptions, projections, value judgments, undisclosed definitions, and who knows what else are presented to persuade on the false representation that they are “hard” representations of fact.  Very frequently, they are not, and when they are not, they incompetent, irresponsible and dishonest. Also arrogant to the core.

You could find no better example of this than this dog chart, by David McCandless, which purports to summarize “big data”—read: “data that can be manipulated to show whatever you want it to show” indicating which dog breeds are “over-rated,” as well as how they score on a “costs and benefits” scale. The fact that anyone could take such a garbage graphic seriously is unsettling, but of course, it will only impress people who know absolutely nothing about dogs and dog breeds. That’s what all such arrays of statistics are for: to convince and mislead those who are too lazy or uninformed to really understand the topic at hand and its complexities, but who want to lay claim to an “informed opinion.”

Just look at this monstrosity (you can read it better here): Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Research and Scholarship

Note To The Discovery Channel: Animal Abuse For Entertainment Is Not Made Ethical Just Because the Abused Animal Is Scary

green_anaconda

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Audiences can see [naturalist and filmmaker Paul Rosolie] don a special suit, slather himself in pigs’ blood, and then be swallowed whole by an anaconda, the largest snake species in the world, on “Eaten Alive,” Dec. 7 on the Discovery Channel….According to trailers for the show, Rosolie and a Discovery Channel team venture into the Amazon rainforest to search for an anaconda, then prepare for Rosolie to be eaten alive by the snake, the largest of which can measure 30 feet long. After putting on a “snake-proof suit,” and covering himself in pigs’ blood to make himself more palatable (to the anaconda), Rosolie kneels next to the snake. …According to reports, Rosolie is later removed from the snake by a cord attached to his suit, after having been swallowed whole.

What? Naturally PETA is up in arms (Dear PETA: If only you didn’t complain about harmless animal spectacles like Ground Hog Day in Punxsutawney, people might pay attention when you have something legitimate to complain about…), but so are rational, serious zoologists and animal activists. The stunt has outraged officials at The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, for example. “If this snake would ingest something very large, like a human, and then have to regurgitate that prey or that food, that obviously could be harmful to the snake,” said Tom Stalf, CEO and President of the Columbus Zoo. Some believe, given the Discovery Channel’s reliability, that this is a hoax rather than a cruel stunt.

If it is going to be unethical, I suppose I would prefer that the network engage in the hoax rather than really traumatize the big reptile for the amusement of 21st Century equivalents of side-show gawkers.

Yechh.

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Sources: CSM, Snopes

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Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee

PetSmart’s Unethical And Harmful Breedism, And Why I’m Through With The Company

smiling-pit-bull-dog

For breedism read racism, for the illogic, bias and cruelty is the same. PetSmart, the nation’s predominant retailer of animal companion products, and one that has built its image, brand and success on being dog-friendly (customers can bring their furry pals on leashes into the stores), engages in the ignorant and deadly practice of anti-pit bull prejudice. Their customers should make it very clear to the company that its unethical and irresponsible stance will not be tolerated.

I’m not going to tolerate it, not because it will make a difference to PetSmart, but because I couldn’t look my dog in the eye again if I didn’t. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

A British KABOOM! The Man In The Tiger Suit

Tony, Tony, Tony. We're so disapointed.

Tony, Tony, Tony. We’re so disappointed.

Pieces of my head are on the ceiling, thanks to the violent cranial explosion caused by this story, a KABOOM! from across the pond. Usually my head isn’t so sensitive to non-American unethical conduct, but this, as you shall soon see, is special.

Andrew Holland, 51, a Welsh bus driver, was accused of owning an extreme porn video featuring a woman having sex with a tiger. He had been arrested and charged over the video, which he claimed friends gave him as a joke. Holland lost his job, was targeted with hate mail from vigilantes, and he suffered a heart attack that he says was caused by the stress of the case.

Then, after inflicting all of this on Holland,  prosecutors  looked at the video closely, and, for the first time, with the sound turned on. Oops. That was no tiger—that was a man in a tiger suit. The big clue was when they they heard the randy tiger,  in the throes of sexual ecstasy, growl out,

“That’s grrrrrrrrrreat!

Yes, just like Tony the Tiger, the Frosted Flakes icon, except that in Great Britain they are called “Frosties.” Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Gender and Sex, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement

Dog Custody Ethics From The Vermont Supreme Court

It's a dog's life, whatever THAT means...

It’s a dog’s life, whatever THAT means…

Pet dogs are more than property and less than citizens. When they become surrogate children, as they often do, the legal battles over which member of splitting couples will have custody can become as furious and emotional as anything in “Kramer vs. Kramer.” Now the Vermont Supreme Court has approved a a new approach to these cases, deciding one on the basis of “the best interests of the dog.” Here is the relevant portion of the decision, in the case of Hamet v. Baker: Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Family, Law & Law Enforcement, Love

Sadists With Guns and Badges…Also Knives and Shovels

I don’t know what kind of a person Darren Wilson is, and I don’t know if he was justified in shooting Mike Brown. But it there is increasing anecdotal evidence that a lot of police officers have a cruel, vicious and callous streak as evidenced by their attitudes toward animals, and to me, this suggests that are a lot of people in uniform with the authority to use deadly force who should not be police officers at all.

Jonathan Turley highlighted two nauseating cases in recent days.

The first unfolded in Baltimore, when Nala, a young Shar Pei,  escaped from her owner’s  yard over the weekend  and a neighbor tried to check the dog’s tags. Don’t try this with unfamiliar dogs that might be stressed, everyone: Nala snapped at her, causing a minor wound. The neighbor then summoned police to deal with the dog, though she has acknowledged that the bite was her own fault, and Nala was just frightened.

The police and took control of Nala using the long dog-control pole. The neighbor reported that the two police officers abused the dog without cause in the process, twisting its neck and hurting her. One officer kneeled on Nala’s chest, causing her to whimper in pain.

They were just warming up.

Officer Jeffrey Bolger then said, according to multiple witnesses, “I’m going to fucking gut this thing.” As the neighbor and others watched in horror, Bolger pulled out a knife and slit Nala’s throat  while Officer Thomas Schmidt held her down. Witnesses say that the dog was already immobilized against the ground and was posing no threat. Animal cruelty charges have been brought against both Bolger and Schmidt.

So you see, that animal control officer who shot the wild kittens as children watched wasn’t so bad after all. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions