I landed in New Delhi, inhaled, and immediately liked India. [Read more →]
8. Belgian Airehead
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10. Who Wants to be a Million Airedale
9. Teen Wolfhound
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For Karen the Small Press Librarian, I recently exchanged interviews and e-mails with Dave Newman, author of Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children. It’s an academic novel about life off the tenure track for a working family with children in Pittsburgh, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the lives of college teachers, parents, and writers. In passing, Dave mentioned that when he was growing up in western Pennsylvania, it was common for boys to fist-fight at carnivals and county fairs, and then he wondered if he wasn’t the only person he knew who used the expression “fist fight.” So that led to my own ruminations on the subject, whether or not to add a hyphen or make it one word, and I also remembered that long before I became a hulking literary menace, able to beat down an entire capitalist higher-educational economy with a work of fiction, I was just another scrawny white boy, geeky and shy, terrified that I’d have to fight in public or fight at all. [Read more →]
I recently read an article by someone who said the reason he stopped being a vegetarian was that vegetarians don’t see the big picture. The writer went on to say that not eating meat wasn’t solving bigger problems like the destruction of animal habitats or the depletion of resources, so he was done with it. Obviously, the author has a few shortcomings in sequential reasoning, but his point is valid to the point of inspiration.
When I first became a vegetarian, I decided it was more important to withhold financial support from the meat industry than to be a stickler about diet. I wasn’t ready then (or now) to become an activist against the meat sellers by holding protests or burning down slaughterhouses. I felt that a vegetarian is defined by living primarily on a vegetarian diet and not by the absolute absence of meat.
“Space,” as 1970s prog-rock legends Hawkwind once told us, “is deep.” But that’s not all, for as Yuri Gagarin also informed us, it can be a disappointing place for religious believers.
You see, the first cosmonaut apparently took a peek out of the porthole while he was in orbit to see if the Deity was floating about. When he didn’t see an old man with a white beard anywhere nearby, he allegedly declared: “I don’t see any God up here.”
Having concluded from reading online posts and articles, and from observing our hamster, that the hamster cages sold in stores are not nearly large enough, I decided to build a custom cage for our Syrian hamster, Snickers.
She had been living in a cage that we had modified to connect to a plastic storage bin. When people saw it, they usually thought it was over-the-top extravagant for a hamster, that I had gone overboard, but I knew that many hamster owners agree that 360 square inches is the minimum space pet owners should give a hamster. That’s the size of a 20-gallon fish tank (30×12). People in the hamster-owner community (yes, there is such a thing) would not consider this set-up to be extravagant. [Read more →]
…it looks like 56-year-old Russian shepherdess Aishat Maksudova, a grandmother, recently killed a wolf with her bare hands.
Aishat Maksudova said she was tending to her cattle and flock of sheep when the wolf attacked in the village of Novo Biryuzyak, Dagestan.
The 56-year-old managed to save the calf but the wolf then turned its attention to her, clamping its jaws on to her hand.
Speaking from hospital with her hand bandaged, Mrs Maksudova said she was “not even frightened” during the wolf attack.
“With an open mouth, the wolf suddenly jumped on me,” she said.
“The wolf clawed into my leg and when I raised my arm up the wolf was just holding my hand; trying to claw my hand.”
Mrs Maksudova explained she wanted to throttle the wolf to death but was forced to reach for her axe when she could not prise the animal’s jaws open.
“So I just left my hand, and the wolf was just clawing into it, pulling on it, pulling away like this,” she said.
“And then I took the axe and hit him on the head.”
The bar has been raised, America. What have you done with your weak, flabby hands?
(h/t Adam Orbit)
Without further ado, the writer behind the passage I posted last week:
Yep, Gandhi. It’s a wonderful passage in his autobiography and a fascinating peek into what made a young lawyer from India into a global icon for peace and justice. Let’s leave that for now though.
A few years ago, I started keeping a vegetarian diet. Factory farming is an obvious target, but what really tipped it for me are shrimp-trawling nets that catch other marine life in them, including endangered species of sea turtles. Fortunately, companies have invented different types of nets that catch the shrimp but allow creatures like sea turtles to go free. Fantastic, right? Except when the nets were pitched to the shrimping industry, you know what the response was? “We’ve always done it this way. Go hug a tree.” (Read about it here.)
That was it for me. [Read more →]
I’ve been keeping a strict vegan diet for nearly a year now, after being vegetarian for almost three years. I’m often asked about my decision: Is it for health reasons? Ethical reasons? Environmental reasons? Yes, yes, and also yes. (Tyler’s entry on WFTC is a great recap of those issues.)
But there’s more to veganism than that. After finding the shift from omnivore to vegetarian to be fairly inconsequential, I realized that continuing on to a vegan lifestyle was a much more profound experience, and one that I’d like to discuss a little bit.
Let’s start with a little vegan trivia. Below is a passage from an autobiography of a very famous person—no doubt you’ve heard of him. The incident in the passage occurred in the late 19th-century, in England, although the person is not British. See if you can guess who wrote it (without Googling)—and in my next entry I’ll reveal the answer and begin my discussion in earnest. (If you can’t see the whole passage below, just click on it.)
A young elephant attacked a handler at an Australian zoo. I wish I knew what else happened, but much of the article is incomprehensible.
For example, we’re told that at “the time of his birth in March 2010, the young male weighed 116 kilograms and one year later tipped the scales at just over 500kgs.” That’s great, but no one knows what a “kilogram” even is. And “kgs”? Come on, journalists — write in English. How many pounds are we talking about here? I’m not a human unit converter. Is 500kgs a lot? Literally no one on Earth knows.
And what about the journalist’s duty to question the zoo staff for not seeing the obvious? “The zoo said it doesn’t know what provoked the calf. ‘It’s unknown at this time why the young elephant challenged the keeper.’”
Unknown? We all know what caused this. The elephant has crazy eyes. He was doing bath salts.
Sometimes I buy expensive versions of things without understanding why. Some stuff’s just weird like that I guess — like toasters. I know I could have gotten a perfectly functional version without cracking a twenty. Yet somehow, if only through the existence of a luxury version of it, I found myself needing it as if it would magically fix me crab cakes for breakfast out of two pieces of bread. It doesn’t. Damn thing cost me three hundred bucks and I still burn my toast.
We bought a hamster a month ago, our family’s first pet unless you count a couple of fish we once had that we couldn’t pet, on account of them being fish. Our son named her Teddy, because some Syrian hamsters are also called “teddy bear” hamsters, on account of how damn cute they are.
Teddy delighted us. She loved to run in the hamster ball we bought for her and she walked right onto our hands when we opened her cage. Our son adored her and my wife and I found ourselves speaking to this rodent in soothing tones and saying “Good night” to her before heading to bed.
Teddy died 16 days after we brought her home. [Read more →]
Apparently, some people actually like kissing their dog on the mouth. Just as apparently, it turns out it may not be the health boost you expected.
Sometimes the best hiding spot is right before their eyes.
My dog is my favorite non-human animal on earth.
Whenever we arrive at the dog park, we are barbarians at the gates, restless to permeate the membranes of these verdant cocoons.
This is my first summer without hamburgers; no hot dogs on my grill, no chicken or shrimp on my shish kabob. I’ve quit eating meat. Now, before you stop reading and dismiss this as yet another victory for the tenderhearted but unrealistic vegetarians, the healthy but wimpy hippies– hear me out. [Read more →]