Monday, June 22, 2015

Links I: Feathers and Carriage Horses

...which I have been neglecting. With a book deadline and one for a big article not too far away, the impending operation, and things like four- hour "Neurological Psychology" tests, these more than one hundred miles away-- I won't burden you further, but I can be distracted.

I an a bit disappointed that not one "Mainstream" reviewer of the new "Jurassic" film has remarked on its featherless lizards. Not even my favorite and most erudite reviewer, Anthony Lane at the New Yorker- he is no scientist, and DID write the funniest one, but I unfairly expect him to know everything.

You all know what I am going to say next: FEATHERS. As Brian Switek blogged, " A Velociraptor without feathers isn't a Velociraptor!" Perhaps the paradigm has not shifted yet. Continue to spread the meme with such portraits as John Conway's, above...

Don't forget the New York Carriage horses either; their struggle against Animal Rights activists and New York's remarkably obtuse (stupid?) mayor deBlasio  is symbolic of the one everywhere that pits owners of working animals against those who want to end all human- animal work and relations. Jon Katz at Bedlam Farm does a good job on this and much else,  but I am surprised this isn't a constant national story. The statistics are revealing; all the city's papers are in favor of keeping the horses, as are 70% of the people. I don't know why this ridiculous and heartbreaking controversy wasn't settled in favor of the horse drivers long ago.

Jon: "I have assembled some quotes from just a handful of the people who have, unlike the mayor and a single member of any animal rights group in New York City, come to New York to see the horses and examine them and their lives. The mayor has never talked to any of these highly regarded and experienced people, never considered a word they have said, never called them up or invited them to visit. Every week, animal rights activists and real estate developers seeking to ban the carriage trade hold their press conferences, march in the streets, shout at the carriage drives, taunt the horses, parade into City Hall to meet with the mayor and his aides to plan their campaign to banish the horses....

"The Central Park Conservancy, credited with restoring the park after decades of neglect, opposes the mayor's plan to replace the carriage horses with electric cars, saying the plan is "unsafe" and will increase congestion in the park, already struggling to accommodate 40 million visitors a year. The horses, says the conservancy, are a natural part of the park's history.

"Buck  Brannaman, one of the world's most respected horses trainers, author of "The Faraway Horses" and the inspiration for the movie "The Horse Whisperer":

"Pulling carriages on rubber-rimmed wheels on paved streets is a low-stress job, and the horses are calm and relaxed, not anxiously laying their ears back or wringing their tails. Plus, these horses get lots of attention and affection from passersby. And horses love attention and affection as much as we do.

"Famed biologist Jared Diamond:

"Draft horses are "the most domesticable animals in the world for life in urban areas." They tolerate noise and disruption, other species they are gentle, they stay close to one another, they attach to people, they are genetically extraordinarily well suited to work with people in urban environments.


"None of these people or organizations have been questioned by the mayor, or been invited to participate in the discussion on the future of the carriage horses. The debate there is harsh, dishonest and unknowing, shaped by unfounded accusations and unsupported prejudices. The leaders of our greatest city – and many journalists there –  have lost any understanding of the real world of real animals, the debate over the carriage horses could not possible be lower, more corrupt or unknowing.

"Virtually none of the people seeking to ban the horses – garage builder Steven Nislick, head of NYClass, the animal rights group spearheading the ban effort; mayor deBlasio, who has never owned a dog; the president of the New York City Council, who has two rescue cats; or the leaders of any of the animal rights organizations involved has any training or qualifications in equine medicine, training or behavior. Yet they have dominated the discussion in the city, and shaped the media coverage of the issue, so important to the future of animals in our world.

"We owe it to the earth to keep animals in our every day lives, especially when they are fortunate enough to be needed, loved, and so well cared for. We have a shared responsibility for the people and the animals in the world. If you are so moved, please write the mayor and tell him so: Mayor Bill deBlasio, New York City Hall, City Hall Park, N.Y., N.Y., 10007.


Matthew MAKAREWICZ said...

As I was reading this my son walked in and showed me the gastroliths he had found during geology field camp last week in Wyoming. I showed him the post and he told me that John Ostrom taught at Beloit College for 5 years before going to Yale.

Sending good thoughts your way in the coming days.

Matthew in Missouri

Phil Yearout said...

"...real estate developers seeking to ban the carriage trade..." ah, NOW I understand! When I'm confused as to why a stupid situation exists, or wonder why a person's position could be so misguided, I simply have to find out who stands to make or lose money and the whole thing becomes clear.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I have seen "Jurassic World" now(I LOVED it, of course! Great Corporate demands versus Animal Welfare--not to be confused with Animal Rights-- theme that all us Zookeepers can relate too!), and can testify that the reason those velociraptors had no feathers was definitely captive stress related. Far too small enclosures, and far too much attempted anal human control without enough honest affection/bonding--they no doubt pluck themselves bald like neurotic parrots. Yeah, I THOUGHT these movies were evolving--the 3rd installment(the plane crash on Isla Sorna/Spinosaurus/Pteranodon one)had the velociraps with little feather crests on their heads, so they COULD have evolved the image to include more fully feathered dinos in future features. Except, well, for those reasons I gave above(ahem!).....L. B.