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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bow's Tenth Birthday

Bow is ten years old today. How does it feel to be living with a ten year old chimpanzee? Pretty much the same as it felt yesterday, when he was officially still only nine. We had his birthday party yesterday, because it was a Wednesday, and Lawrence would not be available today. Here is an abridged video of the party:

You might get the impression that Bow is very loud and boisterous from this video, but after all, it was a party. Today Bow is slowly opening all his other presents, and since it's only the two of us, it is much more quiet, though no less joyful.

You only turn ten once. Bow is making the most of it!


  1. Cool long did that harmonica last?

  2. Thanks, Alan.
    The plastic outer layer of the harmonica lasted less than a day. But surprisingly there's a metal interior that is still intact, and it still can make a pleasing sound.

  3. I read your blog regarding SB 666 (responding here because I didn't feel like doing the whole sign-up bit on the other site...sorry for the confusion). It would be horrible and ridiculous if this led to you losing Bow! Would this law in fact be retroactive to people who already own non-human primates? I can't believe that want to put microchips in all non-primates...are we next? Perhaps these guys need to pick up a copy of 1984 to understand what a slippery slope they are on.I don't understand why there is general outrage over any tiny regulation imposed on firearms, but none for regulating something much less dangerous like a chimpanzee. Seems a bit disproportionate to the actual risk to the public and I agree that this is pretty shoddy legislation.

    One thing I'm not sure I agree with, however, is your stance on requiring a license for driving a car. I understand your logic and it is difficult to refute, but I just can't help thinking that if licenses were not required the average Joe would probably not bother learning the rules of the road. A license is an indication that an individual has had at least some driver's education, education that I think should be required before getting behind the wheel of an instrument that already kills and injures tens of thousands of people in the US each year. I don't like how the license has become a identification and tracking device though. It should really just be a certificate that says 'this person knows how to drive' and nothing else.

    Anyway, that's enough of that rant. I hope that bill gets crushed somehow and that you can keep Bow. If not, would you move out of Missouri? Are there other states (or provinces :) that are more primate friendly?

    BTW, I am in Jerusalem these days (arrived three days ago). Unfortunately, it has been cold and has either rained/snowed/hailed continuously since I've been here. Looks like I brought the Canadian weather to Israel!


  4. Alan, it's nice to know that you are in Jerusalem now. Snow is rare but does happen, so you are lucky to have witnessed it.

    Thanks for your sympathy and outrage on our behalf concerning MO SB 666. If it passes, there will be a one year grace period, and then it will apply to all non-human primates and their families who have not fled the state.

    It would be very hard for us to leave, as a lot has been invested in this location, and the real estate market is depressed. However, I am definitely weighing all the options, including relocation. The reason I came to Missouri in the first place is because it was a chimp friendly state. Bow was born here. He is a native Missourian, and many of his blood relatives live in this state.

    My daughter has been attending the same primary school since preschool and has one more year to go after this one before she completes the last grade taught here: eighth grade.

    If I am not able to convince the local lawmakers to change their minds, it could be she will be starting to high school in a different state or country.

    I wish Israel were a little friendlier to chimps and their owners, as Bow is already fluent in Hebrew, and I am feeling nostalgic.

    About the driver's license, I think you should reconsider. In the days of horse and buggy, many fatal traffic accidents also occurred. But there was no license. The higher technology is an excuse to invade our freedoms. And if we don't stand up for the rights of others, who will stand up for ours? That's why you should not assume that owning guns and cars is essentially different from raising and keeping chimps, for purposes of legislation. Each can be dangerous, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the individual.

  5. I'm happy to report that the weather has greatly improved here. I had the opportunity to tag along on a three-day HUJI field trip along the Dead Sea rift. What an amazing spot!

    Anyway, this is very sad news. I hope you do not have to relocate. What a pain that would be. At least there is a grace period for you to figure something out, but hopefully the legislation will not pass. What would the next best location be in the event you have to move?

    In reply to your comment about the driver's license, I am not sure I can agree with you here. Maybe a license isn't the answer either, but I don't think it is a good idea to not require someone, who will be operating a 500+ lb projectile in public spaces, to demonstrate proficiency at driving before getting behind the wheel solo. I completely agree that no one should have anything to say about what people own (within reason, of course...obviously allowing people to own, say, Plutonium would not be a good idea) or do in their homes or property, but there are some arenas that are shared and could become very dangerous without some sort of regulation. I feel that requiring a of certificate of knowledge before driving on public roads is fair, and not a invasion of our freedoms. However, as you've stated, the license system we have now does go beyond this, and I agree that it shouldn't. Anyway, that's my 2 cents on that issue.

  6. Alan, I just now saw this comment, which I missed before. The field trip sounds like a great experience.

    One of things that you do not take into account, regarding driver licensing, is that the bad drivers are not necessarily the irresponsible ones. By bad, I mean unskilled at driving, which is what the practical portion of the exam is meant to test for.

    Many less skillful drivers are denied their license on the first try, not because they pose a danger to the public, but because they are obviously unskilled and drive too cautiously. On the other hand, a skilled driver can pass the test with flying colors, and will observe the rules of the road perfectly -- on a test. But once he is let loose, it depends on his general character whether he continues to observe the rules.

    No test devised by man can find out whether you are a good person or not. That's why how well someone does on a test will not predict whether he will harm others.

  7. Aya, I agree completely with what you wrote. There is never going to be a way to ensure that a driver is responsible. The best we can do is make sure people at least have the skill necessary to be a competent driver and hope that they apply that skill responsibly. At the very least, the set of irresponsible drivers that are also unskilled are removed from the driving pool. I have no idea what to do about the skilled irresponsible drivers, but I hope they stay away from me!

    On another note, seeing as you're a Ron Paul supporter, have you heard of the Americans Elect campaign? It's an internet-based initiative to get a third, bipartisan option for president on the ballot in every state. I mention it because I've heard Ron Paul is the number one supported candidate on there. You should look into it as you seem like someone who'd be keen on this type of thing.

    Anyway, in other news, I played tourist and went to the Old City (Jerusalem) this evening. Amazing! I am planning tomorrow to begin checking out the many, many museums around here...starting with the Israel Museum since it is right across the street from the campus. I think I should send a postcard to you and Bow, or would that be weird?


  8. Alan, please do send us a postcard from Jerusalem. I am sure Bow would enjoy that!

    Right now I am very concerned about SB666. I heard that it has been scheduled for a vote before the state senate, and that all the senators are coming back on Tuesday. I am wondering whether I should ask Lawrence to stay with Bow on Tuesday as well as Wednesday. But they can always postpone the vote until nobody is there. If we rally our forces, isn't that exactly what they'll do? They have more staying power than we do, because somebody has given them money. Somebody with a deep pocket.

    I want Ron Paul to win as the Republican candidate. Third party candidates usually weaken the good side and strengthen the bad guys.

    BTW, most people who can't drive don't. It's not because of the lack of a license. It's because they have enough sense to know they can't drive. If somebody doesn't have that much sense, do you really think that not having a license will stop him?

  9. Aya, will do! Where should I send it? I recall somewhere in one of your blogs seeing an address for such purposes, but no idea where that was.

    Good luck today with the SB666 vote (it they, in fact, end up voting today).

    I agree that third party candidates often weaken one side (Perot and Nader, for example), but the two-party system consistently puts up candidates that are too extreme for me in either direction. As an independent voter, I am often choosing between the lesser of two evils, so to speak. My feeling is that perhaps the emergence of a strong third party might at least pull the other two parties a little bit back toward center...but who knows. I think I'm just so sick of the partisan rhetoric that I'd use my vote just to express my opinion that 'none of the above' is better. Unfortunately, I think it is very unlikely Ron Paul will be the GOP candidate. Likely we will see a Romney/Obama race, which I don't think excites anyone. One consolation might be that if Ron Paul does end up getting on the third ticket, and ruins the election for the GOP, perhaps next time more of his ideas will make their way into the mainstream GOP platform.

    It's hard to know about the drivers license issue. Really I just somehow want more responsible drivers:) Someone's sense of their ability to drive very well could be linked to the quality of their drivers education. Without requiring a such an education, I think it is fair to say that a significant amount of people would forgo it before driving. Thus, the requirement of some kind of license might actually install in people a better sense to know whether or not they can or can't drive.


  10. The mailing address is P.O. Box 267, Licking, MO 65542.

    Apparently, SB 666 is set for a vote next Tuesday, March 20th. I plan to make an appearance, as my state senator never replied to the email I sent him. Lawrence will stay with Bow.

    The Missouri state Republican caucus is tomorrow. We'll see how well our local Ron Paul supporters are able to organize.

    Your argument that mandatory licensing and education is the way to make people more aware of their shortcomings applies to anything: walking down the street, having children, practicing law or medicine, serving food in a restaurant... anything! But licensing never works the way you think. It just makes life unbearably expensive and tedious.

  11. Thanks Aya, I hope you were able to persuade them not to pass SB 666!

    I would not try to apply the educational requirement to anything, just certain activities that 1) require specialized education to perform safely, 2) have a reasonably high probability for dire consequences to the general public if not performed safely, and 3) could reasonably be implemented. I am not for mandatory licensing for these things, just mandatory education...although, it is unclear to me how mandatory education would work without some sort of licensing. Maybe you have thought about this more than I have and have some insight? I agree that the ideal of requiring education before engaging in certain tasks has been turned into more of a money-making scheme, and is over applied. I think this is wrong and requires reform.


    1. In my experience, Alan, the moment education becomes mandatory, it loses its value.

      Take MCLE in Texas: Manadatory Continuing Legal Education. It was just a scam to get poor lawyers to pay money to richer lawyers so they could log credits and keep their license. It was boring, useless and people snoozed during the lectures. (The rich lawyers took a trip to Hawaii and got a tax write off. The poor lawyers took a trip to Austin and watched taped lectures at the last moment.)

      Have you seen what happened to a high school education the moment it became mandatory?

      There is no "ideal" behind any of these programs. They have not "turned into money making schemes." They always _were_ money making schemes.

      We do not need to reform anything. We need to repeal all forms of mandatory education.

  12. Hi, Aya. I take your point. Many of the current licensing programs were probably started with the sinister intention of taking your money. This is wrong. I will also add that I do not think being a lawyer is something that should require a license.

    Why I feel the way I do about mandatory education probably stems from the environment in which I work. I've spent the last 5 or so years in a university laboratory that contains some very dangerous chemicals...mostly concentrated acids like hydrofluoric and perchloric, but also poisonous gases, mutagens, and highly carcinogenic materials. Working in this environment requires several safety training courses and certificates that ensure anyone working in the lab knows proper safety protocols, containment and clean up procedures, and accident management for the various chemicals one will be using. I would consider none of this mandatory education a money making scheme even though a group of laboratories at the university had to chip in to pay for the instruction costs. I would also not describe them as you described the MCLE. People take these training courses very seriously, especially the first aid response section. I would imagine if someone was caught sleeping during the course they would be kicked out and not given their certificate. The reason is that the knowledge obtained in these courses is extremely important for the safety of the individual, and also the safety of the people in the vicinity of the lab. Without it you are an accident waiting to happen, and that accident very well could blow up an entire wing of a building (perchloric acid labs were quite notorious for this before they became regulated).

    Anyway, this is what shades my view on mandatory education. To me it is primarily a public safety concern.

    One question though...what happened to high school education the moment it became mandatory? I know in some parts of the US there was compulsory education (maybe not specifically high school?) well over 100 years ago. So, I really do not have a good grasp of the differences prior to and after its establishment.


  13. Alan, thanks for sharing your experiences concerning safety training around hydrofluoric and perchloric acid. Are the safety course mandated by the university or by the government? It seems quite sensible for the university itself to require the courses. The university has a direct interest in overseeing the safety on campus, and it is subject to liability in the event of an accident.
    In the private sector, safety training is often required by owners, to ensure the smooth functioning of their businesses. I do the same at Project Bow. Nobody gets to go in with Bow without first being trained by me. I also require medical information about applicants, because I think I need to know this in order to make sure it is safe for applicants to be accepted into the program. (Ironically, some Federal laws currently prohibit employers from asking people what drugs they are on, but since I am not an employer, and these are volunteers, those laws do not apply to me.)

    It makes sense for the owner of a car to require an employee who uses the car to undergo training. What doesn't make sense is for outsiders to interfere in someone else's business. It's a property rights issue.

    Don't you wonder about the safety training given by nineteenth century privateers to sailors on their vessels which were loaded with gunpowder magazines? Having the ability to blow up entire wings of a building or a vessel is something humans have been able to do for quite some time now. Federal safety regulations are not what kept all those potential accidents from happening.

    When high school attendance in the US was not mandatory, the level of education received by high school graduates was equivalent to a current day college education. Making something mandatory tends to devalue it.

    On a more cheerful note, my state senator, Chuck Purgason, really came through for us this week. He blasted the sponsor of SB666 on the floor of the senate, said we have no "ape problem" and no need for a bill with would have cost the state over $130,000 a year, and he got the whole thing shelved indefinitely. Hurrah for Senator Purgason!

  14. Hi Aya,

    First and foremost, this great news! You must feel very relived. It is so nice to see the system respond to the reasoned voice of the people. I'm guessing you'll be voting to reelect Senator Purgason:)

    To answer your question about the safety course at the university, the course was required by the government of Canada. It was part of a program called WHIMIS, which I think is probably equivalent to OSHA in the US.

    It is funny that you specifically mention vessel explosions. In Halifax (my previous city of residence) there was a famous incident where a vessel loaded with ammunition exploded in the harbor and wiped out half the city in the early 1900s. This the largest man-made explosion in history at the time and up until the detonation of the first nuclear bomb. Anyway, I don't mean to give a history lesson here, but the relevance is that this disaster would have been prevented had vessel regulations not been relaxed during the first world war (normally such a dangerous ship would not be allowed inside a harbor for any reason). Chalk it up to people ignoring safety when they are in fear, I suppose.

    I think you are probably right about High School education. It is certainly not as good as it used to be, and I think it continues to get worse. I see this at the college level as well. The problem, I feel, is that the schools are so overwhelmed by sub-par, disinterested students that the quality diminishes in order to cater to the common denominator. Courses thus become easier. Making it mandatory is obviously a main cause of this depreciation. However, I think it probably would have occurred regardless as more and more employers are wanting people with a higher education (though maybe they wouldn't if it had never been mandatory...I don't know). I think people who genuinely don't care about their education, and are only in school to get a piece of paper that says they have a diploma probably should not be there. It does them no good. As Leonardo da Vinci said: "study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.”

    Anyway, again, I am super happy that SB666 was defeated and congratulations on your successful work to stop it!