Friday, February 23


As you know, I'm against humans entrapping or enslaving any wild animals whatsoever. But institutions based on the housing and display of wild animals within urban areas deserve special condemnation. In addition to being cruel to the animals in question, these situations also multiply the danger to humans and other animals.

This becomes especially poignant when the danger is suddenly manifest, and the victims are children. Within a couple days, a five-year-old girl was killed by "an out-of-control team of horses" in a rodeo parade (the same one in which the previous year the mayor and his wife were injured by runaway horses) and a six-year-old girl in a zoo was killed by a tiger she was standing next to for a photo-op. It's easy to fault the particulars here - apparently the rodeo parade town has a problem controlling its horses, and tigers are not good subjects to pose with in front of flash cameras (note, though, that this was a circus tiger, one you'd expect to be used to flashing lights), but that dodges the issue: These events will continue to happen as long as we remain in denial about the arrogant idiocy of enslaving and parading wild animals in close quarters, as though we've somehow beaten nature. Obviously, as these cases show, nature bites back, big time.

UPDATE 2/25: It's not just kids, of course: A 140-pound jaguar mauled a zoo keeper to death at the Denver Zoo on Saturday and was shot dead by zoo staffers.

Thursday, February 22


That's the war on E.Coli, salmonella, listeria, and the other foodborne illness that all originate in animal feces. But you know we're finally gonna wrap this up and declare victory soon, because today the USDA announced a brand-new, improved plan for inspecting meat & poultry plants: Actually inspect them! Unless, of course, they haven't been recall fodder lately, in which case - fuggeddaboudit! There's no way fatal contamination could emerge from such a plant.

In short, well into the 21st century now, our food safety system is still trying to catch up with the 20th and seems to have no idea how to do so.

Sunday, February 18


Once again the links between animal protein and cancer emerge from a clinical study. While the lede phrases it thusly, "a low-protein, low-calorie diet offers protection" against cancer, a quick look at the specs shows that the diet they mean is one with NO ANIMAL PROTEIN. Additionally, and notably, endurance runners - in other words, those getting plenty of exercise - who ate a more "moderate" amount of (animal) protein, had worse scores for cancer risk than the non-running vegetarians, meaning that exercise is no substitute for eating the right foods. Lead researcher Luigi Fontana said that "We hope to further clarify what happens to cancer risk when we are chronically eating more protein than we need."