Saturday, October 18, 2008

Interspecies Tango...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The whole porpoise of the military...

"Today the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case testing how far the president and his agencies can go in setting aside environmental laws in the name of national security — and how far the courts can go in intervening in such a controversy."

"At issue is the long-running dispute over the Navy's use of mid-frequency sonar in training exercises off the California coast. Environmental advocacy groups contend that federal law requires the Navy to assess the damage that could be caused to whales and dolphins and to adopt steps to minimize that damage."

Some of the dialogue among the justices...

Chief Justice Roberts: We should stop the Navy from doing this just because we think there is a likelihood they might be inflicting unneeded damage?

Justice Kendall: Yes ... the Navy cannot be the judge of its own cause. There's a limit to deference. ... The evidence is overwhelming that beaked whales are being stranded by sonar and killed. Autopsies show they are hemorrhaging and dying.

Justice Breyer: The whole purpose of the military is to hurt the environment. You go on a bombing mission — do you have to prepare an environmental impact statement?

Justice Kendall: No, of course not in combat. But here in a training exercise, the military is supposed to minimize the damage.

Full report here

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day of the condor...

Sarah and I were returning from Big Sur on the Pacific Coast Highway last week when we spotted a group of large birds on the sea side of the road, just hanging out. Were they turkeys? No. They were California Condors. Sixteen of them. Just loitering like a group of deaf old men at a sweater convention, unphased by our presence. Every now and then, one would push another off the cliff and there would be an enormous flapping of wings so large they seemed to block out the sky for an instant. We could feel the wind whipped up by those wings.

I'm not sure if you understand how strange this all was. Condors are so rare - it might as well have been sixteen pandas sitting there. Note how the guy on the right with the black head is tagged #01. He must have sold the most albums.

(photo by Paul Gachot)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Frère le Tigre...

I believe I have discovered a mad anthrozoological brother in arms and imagination in the right honorable Robert Zhao Renhui. You will marvel at his involvement in the mysterious Institute of Critical Zoologists. You will gather enthusiasm upon visiting his art collective, A Dose of Light. Like your host, Pablo Gazpachot, Robert believes "that we live admist animals in our dreams and fantasies & not in reality." Among other activities, his Medicinal Tiger project seeks "to develop tiger farms to promote the conservation of wildlife resources as a form of medicine and spectacle."

Robert, I hereby offer you and your posse residency at the Hypnogogic Zoo. We are located in Venice California USA. There is a tremendous calling for tiger farms and critical animal gazing here. The sun shines every day. The ocean sparkles. The animals are modern. The minds are ripe. Let's make something happen. Pablo Gazpachot.

(Photo from Robert Zhao Renhui's series found here)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rats and bees to the rescue...

Trained African giant pouch rats (Cricetomys gambianus) are being used in the field to locate buried bombs and landmines, while others are using common honeybees to screen large areas for unexploded ordinance. I am happy to see animals working to help people. It seems perfectly natural. It must give them a a sense of purpose to save us from being blown to smithereens. I do fear for their insurance premiums though...

(Photo: snug little bomb sniffing bees courtesy Inscentinel)