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Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Things We Know and Take for Granted

I have seen a lot of deer on my property over the years. I have also seen deer making wild dashes into the road while I was driving through the countryside, as if no one had taught them how to cross the street when they were little. But city deer are different from country deer. They don't make a mad dash in the blind faith that they will be able to get across. City deer cross deliberately without haste, giving the cars a chance to slow down and avoid hitting them. City deer are sophisticated.

The video embedded above is of a deer I saw in Bloomington while visiting my mother. At no time did it run away. Its movements were slow and deliberate, and it eventually crossed the road safely, continuing on its path. This deer knows what to do, because it lives among humans. It has been assimilated into our society, at least a little bit -- enough to know how to cross the street.

We are all so steeped in the culture we live in, we sometimes take for granted most of what we know about how things work. For instance, when you open a book, which side do you look at first? It might depend on the language.

The bilingual version of In Case There's a Fox opens on both sides. It depends on which language you are reading it in,

Bow knows which way to go, depending on the language. In the video below, at about 38 seconds in, he is pointing at the Hebrew word for fox at the exact point when I read that word from that page. But notice which direction he arrives from when he gets to the word. He moves from the right to the left.

There are a lot of little things that show us what Bow knows. But we have to stop taking for granted that everybody should know these things, in order to observe the evidence. Bow is an enculturated chimpanzee. He behaves quite differently from a wild chimpanzee. But he is also bilingual, and he is literate, and he knows the conventions of each language he reads. He knows how to approach a Hebrew book, and he knows how to approach an English book, and his way of reading changes, depending on which language the story is written in.

Someday there will be a formal way to quantify this. But for right now, think about how differently a city deer behaves from a country deer. If all deer were exactly the same with hard wired routines common to their species, why would the difference in their behavior around roads be so obvious?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bilingual Edition of In Case There's a Fox

We came home from a brief visit to my mother, and the proof for the bilingual edition of In Case There's A Fox was waiting for us. You can open the book on the left side, and it's in English. If you open on the rights it is in Hebrew. The two versions meet in the middle of the book, where the two endings are side by side.

Bow likes to point to words in the book sometimes when I am reading them. Can you see where he pointed at the words ראית שועל  "did you see a Fox" as I read them out loud?

Bow points at the Hebrew word for fox while I read it out loud

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Bird in the Pen

A tiny bird somehow found its way into the outer pen yesterday afternoon. This happens every once in a long while.

Bow felt the need to chase the bird around and even to display at the tiny intruder.

I asked him not to hurt the bird, but he seemed to be trying to catch it.

The bird managed to avoid  Bow.

Eventually, it sought refuge in the indoor airlock,

There I was able to trap it in a tupperware container. And then I released it safely outside on the front porch. It flew away. End of story.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Home Again

It is good to be home, even though we did not get the Libertarian Presidential Nominee that we had hoped for.  Bow was well cared for in my absence, and on my return, he took time out from his dinner with Lawrence to greet me warmly, and then later to thoroughly groom me.

Bow getting read to groom me in the outer pen
It rained constantly while I was away, and for the first few days after I got back. This was a big contrast to the constant sunshine and ninety degree plus weather in Florida. But all this rain has paid off for my cherries.

These are small, extremely sour cherries, and most people I know don't like them in their natural form, though they enjoy them as maraschino cherries, which are preserved and sweetened. However, Bow and I like them just as they are -- very tart!

Bow enjoys the cherries so much that he sometimes eats them whole, pit and all. I tried to slow down his eating and asked him to give me the stems and the pits.

Later in the day, the dogs were barking at something on the other side of the fence, and Bow wanted me to go check it out.

Bow concerned about something going on outside
It was a beautiful black rat snake.

The snake was long and fat, but it may have recently eaten, for it was quite calm and perfectly harmless toward me, even when I got close.

On my property, life and death happen naturally. Many beings every day give their lives so that other beings may live. For all animals, including humans, food is a living thing, whether animal or plant. We are all predator and prey in turn. I eat meat, and I plan to continue eating meat, because that is the healthiest and most effective diet for me.  But I do not kill unnecessarily, and I know that for me, that black rat snake is more friend than foe.  So the snake and I went our separate ways without hurting one another, and I reported to Bow that all was well outdoors. He looked at the picture of the snake briefly, then went back to grooming me.

I wish that my fellow human primates could recognize when someone is not threatening them and avoid killing others unnecessarily. I am not sure I understand completely why it was necessary to kill Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo. In any event, a zoo is clearly not a safe environment for a great ape, as there are not adequate barriers in place, and any time there is doubt about safety, nobody cares whether a human is trespassing in an ape enclosure or an ape is trespassing on human territory.

I would never send Bow to live in a zoo or in a sanctuary where a breach of protocol by a human could result in Bow's being shot. But I am afraid, very afraid, that with US Fish & Wildlife tightening the noose around the necks of primate owners, my time for idyllic grooming with Bow and quiet time together may be rapidly drawing to a close.

Delegates from Missouri
Austin Petersen,
 Aya Katz,
 Thomas R. Fiedler,
 Rebekah Fiedler,
Jeremiah Barnett
I went to the Libertarian National Convention in Orlando to help select Austin Petersen as our presidential nominee, because I trusted that as President, he would direct U.S. Fish &Wildlife to stop sending our tax money to Africa and to stop harassing the owners of primates here in the United States. But Austin Petersen was not chosen. Gary Johnson was chosen, and I have no earthly idea where he stands on this. I suppose I will now have to reach out to his campaign to find out.

While there, I met the National Chair of the Libertarian Party and got to interview him for LibertyBuzz.

We Libertarians disagree about many things. We are individuals, and we vote our conscience. No two Libertarians agree on everything. But it was encouraging to see that we all at least agreed on this: Taxation is theft!

If taxation is theft when it comes to redistribution of resources here in the United States, how much more so when taxpayer money is sent to Africa for conservation efforts by an agency that seeks to nationalize all chimpanzees, here in the United States!