Ravens, Right Relationships and Ice Trucks

IN Canada’s remote freezing Northwest Territories, near the diamond mine of Ekati, a black raven follows ice road trucks.  A youtube video has been made of the bird’s antics which include surfing the turbulence created by the big rigs.  

Yesterday at the Sydney Writers Festival, I heard Eva Hornung, author of ‘Dogboy’, the story of a child who grows up with wolfs in Moscow, talking about animals and our relationship with them.   She suggested that the divide between humans and animals is much closer than popular culture suggests and that we humans have a “vested interest” in suggesting otherwise.  

I was also interested in a comment she made that we cannot have a completely “right relationship” with animals – it was in the context of domesticated dogs being necessarily submissive in character in order to coexist with humans.    It is probably also impossible for humans to have a completely “right relationship” with nature?

Like dogs, black ravens are considered relatively intelligent and have an ability to solve complex problems, imitate, amuse and be amused. 

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Notes and Links

Common Ravens, Corvus corax, have among the largest brains of any bird species. 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Raven 

Dogboy, by Eva Hornung
http://www.librarything.com/work/8191112
“Dog boy is haunting, disturbing and throughout upsetting. A wake-up-to-reality story of modern life, set in Moscow with history to back it up. Eva Hornung has done her research and has presented an eloquently visual and smellable believable picture of what necessity of survival can lead to and the role of dogs in our lives and the role of humans in dogs’ lives.”

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72 Responses to Ravens, Right Relationships and Ice Trucks

  1. Louis Hissink May 21, 2009 at 12:02 am #

    Jen,

    intriguing post and I repeat a vague reference to a documentary I watched some years back about a young French girl who had some empathy with African elephants in Namibia, I think. Her parents took her there each year for holidays. Apparently this young French girl could communicate with the elephants. The video of African elephants allowing a young human onto their neck’s (as popularly shown and described in the literature for an elephant boy, ir order to ride the pachyderm) was striking.

    Religions admonish us for some sin or other – I wonder whether humans have, from past events, lost an ability to commincate with other living species, and itis this fall from grace that the religions ignorantly point to.

    The Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti maintained that human kind’s problem was it’s escape into the fantasy world of imagination, believing that it’s ideas were real, as opposed to reality itself that the physical body must cope with.

    Some popular movies of gifted humans speaking to the animals might be, in light of this interpretation, viewed in another light.

    Perhaps it’s our disconnect from our animal existence that is the original sin.

    That said, it is also possible that the incessant chatter of our minds, that incessant thinking we all experience, but which most of us seem unaware, distracts us from perceiving something more subtle that our animal companions, dogs, cats, etc, are aware of.

    I’llleave it there for the rest to catch up.

  2. Ann Novek May 21, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    I think I have a good relationship with big tits and wagtails:

    http://annimal.bloggsida.se/diverse/my-tame-big-tits

    I can communicate with them….they understand words and recognize me even if I an 1 km from home , they also recognize my face….animals are VERY INTELLIGENT!

  3. Louis Hissink May 21, 2009 at 12:50 am #

    Ah, now I understand where the term “bird brained” is derived.

  4. Louis Hissink May 21, 2009 at 12:57 am #

    also “why”

    QED.

  5. jae May 21, 2009 at 3:18 am #

    There are few creatures that are more interesting and fun to observe than ravens and crows. They are very inquisitive and spontaneous and seem to be simply clowning around about half the time. And they definitely are intelligent: last summer, while working on a cleanup of an old industrial site, I was puzzled by walnuts bouncing off the concrete near me. I finally realized that they were being dropped from high in the air by ravens, in order to break them open.

    I don’t know what a “right relationship” with animals or nature would be, but I think we have the “proper relationship” with these things, as described by the wisdom contained in the great religions.

  6. Fred from Canuckistan . . . May 21, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    There is an excellent TV show made here in the Great White North about the Ice Road Truckers . . .

    http://tinyurl.com/r63974.

  7. janama May 21, 2009 at 8:07 am #

    “I was also interested in a comment she made that we cannot have a completely “right relationship” with animals – it was in the context of domesticated dogs being necessarily submissive in character in order to coexist with humans”

    that’s interesting – I lived with a Red Cloud Kelpie for most of his 14 years. He went with me everywhere including work. He was so smart, such a loving being and he thought most other dogs he met were dummies, especially german shepherds. 🙂

    I do think that the standard desexed dog, locked in a back yard whilst the owners go to work, fed that awful crap dog food from tins that causes obesity and eczema, has absolutely no opportunity to grow and develop like my Kelpie did.

    It’s animal cruelty IMO. I’ve seen a few lone Bulls in paddocks suffering a similar fate.

  8. Dave May 21, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    Does a termite in its mound have “a completely ‘right relationship’ with nature”? I don’t know where I got the idea, certainly not from the nuns in school or the lecturers at uni, but I’ve always thought that we were part of nature and not some special, or especially devilish, abstraction from it. Darwin did make a difference between ‘natural selection’ and what pigeon fanciers do, but I always assumed it was a rhetorical device. We are animals and we are part of nature, even if it is sometimes convenient to pretend otherwise. Although sitting in a car in peak hour traffic in the middle of a large, stinking city, I used to wonder.

    Simple solution to that: now I walk wherever I can, drive mostly to get out of the city, and feel much less alienated. I’m pretty sure I know what the coyote watching me trudge up the hill to work at 6am is thinking – he’s wondering just how tasty or threatening a part of nature I might be. The crows and ravens I’ve had close contact with did seem pretty bright. I’m not so sure I knew what was going on in their minds, but I doubt they were cawing about my unright relationship to them.

  9. Graeme Bird May 21, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    “I was also interested in a comment she made that we cannot have a completely “right relationship” with animals – it was in the context of domesticated dogs being necessarily submissive in character in order to coexist with humans. It is probably also impossible for humans to have a completely “right relationship” with nature?”

    Its all about having the right relationship with MOTHER nature. You see the fascists, Lambert and his coterie, have this weird transvestite relationship with Mother Nature. They see her as an avenging YAWHEW in DRAG.

    But the rest of us know that Mother Nature is a combination between King Midas and some minor Nazi-Bitch-Goddess.

    We need to slap her around to show her whose boss. We need to shake her down for her bounty. And raping her is part of being a man, something that the male environmentalist can never be.

  10. kuhnkat May 21, 2009 at 12:48 pm #

    Graeme Bird,

    go feed your toy poodle. She is hungry!!

  11. Ann Novek May 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Jennifer has posted to me the following comment on my blog( invisible because my blog doesn’t accept my password anymore and the blog moderators don’t reply, so the blog is KAPUT currently).

    ” Great photograph!
    Is it that they have become friends with you just because you feed them?” – Jennifer

    How a relationship with an human and an animal will develope depends on the species and individuals.

    Great tits are known to be tame , but it is unusal that more than one eat from your hand. Curiosity plays also another part….

    Some species will always be untamed , like zebras or animals that have learned that people hunt them.

    Re your comment that the boy had a relationship with wolves( quite common in Russia , with hybrids dog/ wolf) , I will just make the comment that wolves and hybrids unlike dogs will always be untrustworthy……

  12. Ann Novek May 21, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    Jennifer,

    If you are interested I can post a funny photo of a fox and bulls next week on your blog!

    ( My blog is down so is my e-mail account as well…)

  13. Green Davey May 21, 2009 at 1:46 pm #

    Kuhnkat,
    I suspect Birdie is getting excited about Ann’s Big Tits. Just ignore him.
    Now that the nights are getting colder in south-west Australia, my wife’s cat climbs on the bed at night, and clings to my back like a furry limpet. Sometimes she even crawls under the quilt.
    I might interpret this as evidence of affection, but somehow I think it is just a love of physical warmth. But wait, I will choose, with my mighty brain, to see it as emotional warmth too … aaaah … but wait again … she killed a baby bird last spring … Gawd, philosophy’s difficult ain’t it?
    Anyhow, I generally prefer animals to humans, especially city bred humans. And animals are certainly more intelligent than the average citoyen.
    Human salvation rests in the hands, and minds, of we country folk – and our animals. Or, depending on your point of view, animals and us, their humans.

  14. Ian Mott May 21, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    It was nice of you to show us your tits, Ann. I can relate to your desire to “have a good relationship with big tits”, but forgive me if I struggle with the notion that “Great tits are known to be tame”. I think it might be a “Y” chromosome thing.

  15. Haldun Abdullah May 21, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    Hi Jennifer,
    A very inspiring post. I only wish that the elephants of India could read and appreciate that there are people that care about nature and the natural habitats, as well as other biota.
    http://wildlifepreservation.suite101.com/article.cfm/displaced_indian_elephants
    Is it “human rights” that is causing all the ecologic misery?
    Is it about time that “human responsibility” be on the agenda of the “sincere”, “good” people of the earth?

  16. cohenite May 21, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    Anthropomorphism is a uniquely defining characteristic of humans; it may also be an essential attribute; at least for the animals and nature. No animals exhibit human characteristics like sentiment or empathy or kindness. They are too close to nature and the pesudo-human behaviour they can display are simply natural exigencies filtered through human sensibility. So, a lioness ‘adopting’ an orphan deer kid [after eating its mother] is actually a hyper maternal extinct; a crow riding the wind-wave of a truck is not pursuing the same lame-brained, holistic aesthetic that salt-addled surfers do [when they revert to philosophy] but perfecting its flying skills and manifesting its clever and opportunistic food seeking skills by occasionally inducing handouts.

    Animals don’t empathsise with other animals; they are not sentimental; the Cuckoo is the emblem of animal perception of each other. They are too close to nature and their approach to life is perfecting the natural advantages they have; they are functional in form and unreflective.

    Humans are everything animals are not; our natural inefficiency and lack of survival ability is masked by our technology and social structure. So what stops us cementing the world over and completing artificing our life? Empathy and the compulsion to anthropomorphise animals and nature; from this comes the strong desire in most people to ‘replenish’ and ‘revitalise’ by either directly going bush, communing with nature or surrogating by having pets. It’s a tautological psychology because if we didn’t have the empathy/anthropomorphising tendency then we wouldn’t need the slivers of nature we seek. Misunderstanding this tendency is the defining characteristic of the green; it is like the lioness adopting the deer; a perversion of a remnant of what is natural in us; as such it is fool-hardy and delusional to believe that nature will provide for us; and set limits for our life-style. Animals are subject to natural bounty; but humans have expanded what is available for us through pure nature. This is why the Malthusians and the Erhlichs of the world are so limited in their appraisal; they look at what nature’s limitations are and ignore what humanity’s potential is. So do the greens.

  17. spangled drongo May 21, 2009 at 3:47 pm #

    Birds, probably more than other animals have this human-like trait of physical indulgence in movement in their flight culture but most animals have it to some degree.
    We humans have always envied them and other animals their physical superiority over us knowing that a couple of million years ago we were like that.
    Very agile, very tough, very vulnerable, very short lived.
    And then we got smart.
    Now, we can so easily muster contempt for ourselves when we should have pride.

  18. spangled drongo May 21, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

    “We need to slap her around to show her whose boss. We need to shake her down for her bounty.”

    Birdy, it was exciting while we got as good as we gave but these days bounty comes with caresses.
    What was the rule then?
    Always pillage before you burn?

  19. Haldun Abdullah May 21, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    cohenite,
    Could it be that Malthusians and Erhlics of the “world” have a better understanding of simple arithmetic? You know mathematics, it is that branch of science of the human invention kind.
    Did you click on the wildlife link I provided above? If not, pls do so and inform us about the “human potential” for evading such tragedies.

  20. Larry May 21, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

    Several years ago, I befriended my neighbor’s family’s Border Collie mix, named–believe it or not–Gurr. When he was a pup, I took him for short walks around the neighborhood. When he was fully grown, I took Gurr hiking with me. He learned quite a bit about the ways of the world. Through Gurr (and a little reading) I learned quite a bit about dogs in general, and about BCs (arguably the Einsteins of the canine world) in particular.

    Every prospective Border Collie owner should know that a typical member of this breed–who comes from working lines–needs A LOT of mental and physical activity, in the context of a full-time job, like sheep herding. If you don’t supply the job, your BC will probably create one for himself. And we silly humans may not appreciate it very much.

    Here’s a link to “Border Collie Horror Stories”, written by people who truly love their dogs.
    http://tinyurl.com/56seek

    I have a medium-long story about Border Collie intelligence. Jennifer, if you’d consider posting that plus a picture of Gurr in a separate thread, please let me know. The story probably won’t surprise you, but it may be of interest to cohenite and other animal psychology skeptics.

  21. spangled drongo May 21, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    I often see the result of dogs that kill for food and those that kill for fun.
    Generally wild ferals kill to eat and domestic ferals kill for pleasure.
    When you see a dozen killed wild prey uneaten it is usually accompanied by “Pal” scats.
    It is obviously one aspect of their persona the rarely get to indulge and when the chance arises they make the most of it.
    Where the prey are domestic animals it’s not so clear cut.

    “And then my dog with pleasure kills
    And dances with the daffodils.”

  22. cohenite May 21, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    I read the link Haldun, and you miss the point; who is the tragedy for? The elephants or humans; elephants, despite the romantic notion of an elephant’s grave-yard and their intelligence, don’t have a concept of extinction or even personal death. In any event the natural forms of extinction are much harder and unrelenting; look at the pelican deaths which result from the episodic rains in in-land seas like in Australia and middle Africa when the pelicans over-breed and have to abandon tens of thousands of chicks.

  23. janama May 21, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    I suspect my Kelpie thought I was his pet just as the grasses have convinced us to expand their range by feeding our domesticated animals.

  24. janama May 21, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    what makes you think animals have no concept of death cohenite?

  25. cohenite May 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    Well, I did say extinction or personal death; I have seen the films of elephants mulling over the corpses of their fellow herd members but I haven’t seen their obituaries, so feel free to enlighten me about this most profound example of self-wareness being in animals.

  26. janama May 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    let me put it another way

    why do you think your concept of death is superior to an animal’s.

  27. Jennifer Marohasy May 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    Ann and Larry

    Please send me your photographs and stories for sharing … jennifermarohasy@jennifermarohasy.com

    Cheers

  28. spangled drongo May 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    When you kill your own domestics for meat you usually have a herd of “killers” and they are in no doubt of their destiny after they have been yarded a couple of times and one of them slaughtered.
    They’re incredibly stoic about it but they’re not impressed.
    Very hard to asses their true level of understanding wrt humans.

  29. Ann Novek May 21, 2009 at 6:11 pm #

    I have three stories that I can post:

    1) Encounter fox vs bulls in bird wetland

    2) Greylag geese and goosling in wetland dam , powered by solar panels

    3) Swedish agricultural landscape/ wetlands.

    All posts including shots.

    If readers have any wishes , let me know……

  30. janama May 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm #

    We readily accept that we have developed and advanced as a species over the past 2000 years. That’s how DNA works.

    Surely animals have done the same.

  31. Geoff Sherrington May 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    Humans stand apart. Cogito ergo sum.

  32. cohenite May 21, 2009 at 6:41 pm #

    Exactly Geoff; and that is a burden some wish to avoid.

    Janama; you raise an interesting point about evolutionary process; all animals except domestic ones are subject to natural process. Humans stopped being subject to natural process centuries ago and certainly that has accelerated with the discovery of birth control and the various medical technologies which intercede with natural methods of death and selectivity; it’s probably no exaggeration to say that a large percentage of the people alive today wouldn’t be if natural processes had not been arrested. This means humans are now creating their gene pool. What animal does that?

  33. janama May 21, 2009 at 7:05 pm #

    Humans stand apart. Cogito ergo sum.

    why should we? – the only way we could is if we were aliens, which we aren’t.

    Natural processes Cohenite? surely bred to our preferences is a natural process – like the ants milk the aphids. The new kooka to the family this year is as smart as a tack – there’ll be another next year. 🙂

  34. spangled drongo May 21, 2009 at 8:16 pm #

    ” The new kooka to the family this year is as smart as a tack – there’ll be another next year. :)”

    janama, ask that kooka how it feels about eating worms.

  35. janama May 21, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    I’ve watched them do it – imagine having a live worm in your gut – scaled it’s a 6″ wide, 3 foot long beast writhing in your gut – don’t reckon you’d get any ideas about death with that going on.

  36. janama May 21, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

    would you believe a 1″ x 12″ beast ? 🙂

  37. spangled drongo May 21, 2009 at 9:14 pm #

    And that’s just the ordinary worms. I disturbed one eating a giant earthworm [Digaster longmani] the other day and they are over a metre long by 2cm dia.
    I hope they don’t eat them whole.
    But I was referring to their philosophy on eating other animals. I saw one pick up a rat on the run and it [the kooka] didn’t seem too worried about animal rights.

  38. janama May 21, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    [the kooka] didn’t seem too worried about animal rights.

    no – neither are we – cos we’re animals too – just like the kooka. I hear the cows cry in the pens just outta town, the young boys have been taken to the slaughterhouse. it’s different, but it’s the same. I just reckon we all have a concept of death – you, me and the animals.

  39. Larry May 21, 2009 at 9:42 pm #

    Hi Jennifer,
    I just put the prospective blog article about Border Collie intelligence as a comment on the last posting of last year, the one about Sydney and fireworks. I didn’t want to disrupt the flow of this thread.

    My piece is called Gurr the Toy Maker. If it doesn’t pass muster as an article in it’s own right, please delete it.

    Sorry for being so round-about. But when I click on your email address, there’s a glitch that I don’t know how to deal with.

  40. spangled drongo May 21, 2009 at 9:56 pm #

    If the sum of our smartness is proportional to the sum of our population then we probably are the smartest but in the long term the kookaburra might be laughing last.

  41. janama May 21, 2009 at 10:01 pm #

    and the grass wins 🙂

  42. Noelene May 22, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    Anybody who has seen dogs fighting(I haven’t seen them tear at humans,thank goodness)know that they are wild animals,they turn savage in a blink of an eye.People want to say that animals can have empathy,they can’t.It is just that dogs used to roam in packs,and had leaders of the pack,humans are their leaders,most times.If that hierarchy had not existed,man would not have been able to tame them.I do believe dogs and cats can use logic though.When my old dog got a bit too fat to jump on the bed,she would go back to the passage,and get a run-up,she worked out a way to overcome her problem.

  43. Green Davey May 22, 2009 at 12:21 pm #

    Noelene,
    Anybody who has seen humans fighting will know that ‘civilisation’ is only skin deep. But humans can also show love, empathy and intelligence, and so can animals. I like the Chinese idea of yin-yang – we are a bit of each. Come to think of it, if there were no evil, how would we identify goodness? Perhaps the Catholics have it right – be as naughty as you like, but then ‘fess up and do penance. I have some Irish rellies like that. Maybe Haldun can contribute a Muslim perspective on good and evil. Can one exist without the other?

  44. spangled drongo May 22, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    It would be reasonable to assume that this raven was indulging himself like a surfer does [stop pleasurin’ tha self laddie].
    Crested Hawks perform the most crazy mid-air calisthenics and other birds, particularly fast flyers, plainly get a big kick out of their environment with exuberant antics.
    It is unusual and fascinating though to see a new culture of flight suddenly introduced this way.

  45. Nasif Nahle May 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    @Jennifer…

    Like dogs, black ravens are considered relatively intelligent and have an ability to solve complex problems, imitate, amuse and be amused.

    Those are really intelligent birds and are considered the most intelligent species among birds. I’ve seen two crows stealing food from a corner store. First, a crow went into the store emitting strong quacks, flying in circles over our heads (which could be interpreted as actions for distracting the enemy); soon another crow came into the store and quickly stuck the food up. Then the noisy crow flew far away from the store behind its buddy.

  46. spangled drongo May 22, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    Crows and ravens are certainly smart and also have flight feathers like a raptor which would help them to “surf”.
    The only way I could stop crows from stealing food while droving was to make it almost human proof.
    And these days when I occasionally instruct the local high school kids in ecology I point to the crows in the school yard and tell them that these crows will cease exploiting them when they [the kids] finally get to do everything right.

  47. Haldun Abdullah May 22, 2009 at 4:24 pm #

    Hi Green Davey,
    I go more with M. Anthony on this one, “the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones…..” So let it be with anyone you can guess…….

  48. Larry May 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    Nasif wrote:
    “I’ve seen two crows stealing food from a corner store. First, a crow went into the store emitting strong quacks, flying in circles over our heads (which could be interpreted as actions for distracting the enemy); soon another crow came into the store and quickly stuck the food up. Then the noisy crow flew far away from the store behind its buddy.”

    I’ve read that a pair of perenties will sometimes play a similar trick on a female crocodile. One distracts the croc, while the other steals its eggs. We expect craftiness from corvids, but not from reptiles.

  49. Gordon Robertson May 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    Louis “The Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti maintained that human kind’s problem was it’s escape into the fantasy world of imagination, believing that it’s ideas were real, as opposed to reality itself that the physical body must cope with”.

    He would have whipped you with a wet noodle for calling him a philospher. K. regarded typical human thought as the problem since he saw it as inherently biased and distorted. He focused on awareness, which he regarded as real intelligence, a process that cannot be forced or learned. Typical thought is forced and learned, leading to intellectualism, which is an artificial intelligence. From that perspective, most philospohy is about a regurgitation of typical thought and I’m sure K. would have abhorred being called a philosopher.

    K. went on at length about the illusions we have created about time and how we have set ourselves up in a neurotic space dependent on the illusion of psychological time. In other words, we tend to live, as you said, in an illusion of the past and the future rather than in the reality of now. Since reality to most people has become the illusion, he prefered the term ‘actuality’ to describe what is real.

    I made over 300 pages of notes on one of his books (The Awakening of Intelligence) and it’s one reason I can’t stand the stupidity that has gone into the AGW theory. It reeks of typical human thought, that has more to do with the downside of education, with its inherent paradigms and distortions, emotion, arrogance and almost anything that does not come from pure awareness. The notion of programming a computer with human thought would have made K. very suspicious. He was not against technology but he was opposed to the arrogance and suppositions perpetuated by the AGW movement.

  50. Gordon Robertson May 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    Green Davey “I might interpret this as evidence of affection, but somehow I think it is just a love of physical warmth”.

    I hope you’re not living under the delusion that most humans are any different. We pretend we do things for others out of love but it’s usually self-serving crap that motivates us. We even think sex is an expression of love, when in fact it’s a totally ‘ME’ thing. In that way, cats are more honest about life than humans. They’ll cozy up to you when they need something but at least they are up front about it when they’re not interested. Humans, with their command of language have become proficient at lying about everything. Romance is really the art of little white lies taken to the nth degree.

  51. Ann Novek May 22, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    Dear Jennifer and all readers,

    Unfortunaley it seems like my computer and the Windows Photo Gallery has crashed , and I have no back up. So this time I can’t post my promised photos and guest blog. I’m waiting for the computer wizard right now.

  52. Ann Novek May 22, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    PS. Apologies to all! Hopefully my computer will be fixed soon and I might be back with some funny animal pics:)

    Cheers,
    Ann

  53. Gordon Robertson May 22, 2009 at 5:04 pm #

    spangled drongo “When you kill your own domestics for meat you usually have a herd of “killers” and they are in no doubt of their destiny after they have been yarded a couple of times and one of them slaughtered”.

    We humans tend to get a bit choked up about our fellow humans being killed, why would animals feel any different? That’s basically the reason I stopped eating meat. We humans in civilized centres like cities no longer need it to survive, we kill animals for our own enjoyment.

  54. Gordon Robertson May 22, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    janama “We readily accept that we have developed and advanced as a species over the past 2000 years. That’s how DNA works”.

    We are all born with an intelligence in our DNA that can be expressed as love, compassion or empathy. No one learns how to be compassionate, it is a property that unfolds, if it’s allowed to, just as a human grows naturally in a physical sense. At the same time, as we grow, we are conditioned by others, mainly our parents, to turn off our natural intelligence in order to fit into a society. In that sense, we are not evolving, we are suppressing an intelligence that is already there. Maybe that’s why we are having so much trouble with reality.

    I’m not religious in that I belong to no religious orthodoxy or have no beliefs. You did mention 2000 years ago as a reference point and that coincides with the time of Jesus Christ. There is a saying attributed to Jesus by the apostle Thomas Didymus (Doubting Thomas), that we humans are born with everything we need to know to survive in life. Funny enough, Krishnamurti, the man refered to earlier by Louis, said much the same thing.

    When you become aware of your inner processes that becomes apparent. We have the ability to watch our minds operate, or to be aware of what they are doing. That seems to indicate that a part of the mind has the intelligence to watch the part that we normally live in…the part that flits back and forth in imagination between the past and the future…the part credited with day dreaming.

    When you go into that deeper, it becomes fascinating. Essentially, we have suppressed an intelligence system that is responsible for keeping us alive. We wouldn’t get very far if the unconscious life support system was suddenly the responsibility of the conscious mind. Yet we have a situation in which a minor mechanism of the mind, the conscious mind, is trying to run the show through ego and other bs.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of us evolving as much as it is a matter of realizing how stupid we really are. That can occur in a few seconds, if we want it to, it doesn’t take 2000 years. The question posed by Krishnamurti had to do with what it is that stops us seeing our stupidity. Once we see it, we can change immediately, but we simply don’t want to see it. We prefer the superficial qualities of the unevolved mind to those of the natural intelligence that came in our DNA.

  55. Larry May 22, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    Gordon wrote:
    “K. went on at length about the illusions we have created about time and how we have set ourselves up in a neurotic space dependent on the illusion of psychological time. In other words, we tend to live, as you said, in an illusion of the past and the future rather than in the reality of now.”

    I hope that I’m not taking this out of context, and please correct me if I’m mistaken. But it appears that Krishnamurti would approve more of the psychopathic lifestyle than of a normal one. How so?

    The defining characteristic of a psychopath is a total absence of conscience. However CLASSICAL psychopaths tend to have a cluster of other characteristics that go along with the primary one. Example: impulsivity. They tend to live in the moment, and to have precious little regard for the long term consequences of their actions–even to themselves. In a way, that’s very New-Age-y, but it’s hardly a model of the worldview that we should cultivate within ourselves.

  56. Marcus May 22, 2009 at 7:16 pm #

    GR,
    “we kill animals for our own enjoyment.”

    I have to disagree with that, anyone who does that, will do it to humans just as easily, if he can get away with it, it’s not a common human trait.
    Killing animals in an abattoir, or by hunting for food is not “killing for enjoyment”!
    If you are happy as vegetarian, good for you.

  57. Richard May 22, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    Interesting comment Gordon, I find it surprising that you can have your obvious level of awareness and still feel the need to spend a lot of time on this blog arguing your beliefs which you seem very attached to, doesn’t this indicate an over attachment to an artificial mind created sense of self / ego which constantly needs to be right. If enlightenment is what you seek I would give up the blogging, people on this blog who argue from opposite points of view have far more in common than they realize, from a spiritual point of view.

  58. spangled drongo May 22, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

    Gordon,
    Yes cattle are particularly aware of death, sheep not so much but they are much gentler animals so it’s hard to be sure.
    These days I eat kangaroo for many reasons one of which is they are killed by a bullet on their home range without really knowing what hit them. They taste good too.
    The roo shooter has to be good to make a living but he doesn’t really do it for enjoyment.

  59. Nasif Nahle May 23, 2009 at 3:12 am #

    @Larry

    I’ve read that a pair of perenties will sometimes play a similar trick on a female crocodile. One distracts the croc, while the other steals its eggs. We expect craftiness from corvids, but not from reptiles.

    Your reference on perenties’ strategy for stealing crocodile eggs makes me to consider that perhaps it is a set of genes which has been transferred horizontally or vertically from lower phyla towards other phylogenetically related classes, including mammals.

    @Gordon Robertson…

    There are histories told by people working at slaughter houses about cows that cry when taken towards the slaughter house. Actually, I have not seen that personally, but I’ve seen how cows desperately cry when we take their yearlings apart from their mothers.

  60. Larry May 23, 2009 at 6:23 am #

    spangled drongo wrote:
    “These days I eat kangaroo for many reasons one of which is they are killed by a bullet on their home range without really knowing what hit them. They taste good too.”

    Just out of idle curiosity, what do roos taste like? Beef, venison, pork, chicken?

  61. spangled drongo May 23, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    “Just out of idle curiosity, what do roos taste like? Beef, venison, pork, chicken?”

    Larry, the best cuts taste like venison, to me even better. But I should not be saying this as it is bargain priced.

    N N, I don’t know what you mean by “cry”. They bellow, and my impression is, is that it’s not for themselves but for those that have gone before.
    When you shoot and butcher a cow on an open plain, sometimes the remaining herd will virtually have a requiem mass over the carcass.

  62. Helen Mahar May 23, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    Nasif, I have not seen cows actually cry either, but a neighbour of mine did, years ago. He had a cow bailed and was trying to milk her. She was in a cranky mood, and kicked, planting her foot in the bucket. He got wild, threw the spoilt milk over her and stormed off, leaving her pinned. An hour or so later he came back to check on her. She was quietly standing there with tears running down her cheeks. He felt awful as he let her go.

    One advantage of paddock killing cattle is that they are felled by a bullet without knowing what hit them. But the herd does get upset. I have not heard of kangaroos grieving for lost mates.

  63. spangled drongo May 23, 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    Jen,
    I’ve seen instances where people, in country areas where there is significant biodiversity, have agreed to a pet moratorium on cats and dogs on the basis of: keep your existing pets but when they die don’t replace them.
    As a result there has been an exponential increase in native wildlife numbers and while it is a different type of relationship with animals, many humans prefer it.
    As a dog owner I proposed in my area but with no success.

  64. Nasif Nahle May 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    Comment from: spangled drongo May 23rd, 2009 at 8:59 am

    N N, I don’t know what you mean by “cry”. They bellow, and my impression is, is that it’s not for themselves but for those that have gone before.
    When you shoot and butcher a cow on an open plain, sometimes the remaining herd will virtually have a requiem mass over the carcass.

    Sorry, English is not my native language, but Helen’s description is exactly what I meant, i.e. dropping tears by their cheeks. I’ve not seen them doing that; I was referring to something that butchers relate.

  65. Nasif Nahle May 23, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    Comment from: Helen Mahar May 23rd, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Nasif, I have not seen cows actually cry either, but a neighbour of mine did, years ago. He had a cow bailed and was trying to milk her. She was in a cranky mood, and kicked, planting her foot in the bucket. He got wild, threw the spoilt milk over her and stormed off, leaving her pinned. An hour or so later he came back to check on her. She was quietly standing there with tears running down her cheeks. He felt awful as he let her go.

    One advantage of paddock killing cattle is that they are felled by a bullet without knowing what hit them. But the herd does get upset. I have not heard of kangaroos grieving for lost mates.

    That’s what butchers relate on cows that are being driven to the slaughterhouse. I’ve not heard of kangaroos grieving for lost mates either; however, barn swallows do it through brief rituals before a dead mate or when their chicks accidentally fall outside the nest.

    Regardless of being familiarized on seeing animals dying for my profession, I’m still distressed at their suffering; no matter if it is an ant or a cow.

  66. spangled drongo May 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    Helen, it’s drawing a longish bow to say that a cranky cow left jammed in a bail for an hour or so and seen to have fluid running from her eyes and down her cheeks, was crying.
    Branding toey cattle on an open camp produces snot, fluid and blood from about every orifice they possess.
    Somehow, that doesn’t relate to hurt feelings as much as to wild, bovine aggression.
    But better handling techniques these days certainly helps those emotions, whatever they are.

  67. WJP May 23, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    I’ve often seen cattle happen upon a spot where an out of sight beast was recently dispatched and removed for butchering, and then to see a dominant animal pawing at the area and emitting a deep “whorrr” for a bit. Soon they’re OK and off they wander.
    Happy cows on the other hand will kick their legs up as they charge towards you and at the last second come to a screeching halt. If the expected hay bale is missing they might get a bit pushy as if to say, ” Hey, where’s my hay”. Also you often see the younger calves get caught up in the moment, and as they wheel around they lose their footing in their exurburance and go for a side slide.
    Yep! Sometimes, happy days!

  68. Louis Hissink May 23, 2009 at 7:41 pm #

    Helen Mahar,

    Cows cry? Sure do – reminds me of an incident when I was working on Wooleen station (Brett Pollock) when a killer was needed. (Wooleen has since been destocked of sheep and now runs cattle).

    Out to the paddock we went, a suitable beast (cow) was picked and despatched with a 308. The rest of the small herd only needed a couple of minutes before they realised what happened. Butchering the beast necessitated us putting a ring of vehicles around the deceased and to protect us from the bulls.

    The herd of cattle were clearly distressed but having memories slightly longer lasting than goldfish, calm took some time to occur, about 1/ 2 an hour as I recall.

    Bovines might be a tad dense in the brain area but they, non the less, are emotional animals and sense loss as much as we do, albeit with a shorter memory span.

    Now killing an elephant for food is not a wise act – for elephants have prodigious memories. Perhaps why humans don’t have steak-pachydermus as a staple.

  69. Louis Hissink May 23, 2009 at 7:57 pm #

    Spangles,

    Scrub bulls – had a close encounter with one some years back on Carson River Station (Kimberley Region).

    I was using a 4WD quad bike, a bunch of star pickets strapped on it for mining lease pegging purposes, and navigating by the GPS (attached on the handle bar).

    The Quad was a water cooled Yamaha and thus somewhat quiet in operation.

    After about 15 minutes traversing the country to the corner peg of the lease. I realised I was, well not lost since I knew exactly where I was, but needed to look at the topographic map to plan the next leg of the route. So I stopped, as you do, to captain cook the ground.

    My problem was I stopped next to a scrub bull, (with his RH horn missing). As I stopped the quad he startled, nudged me from my left, (no horn thank heavens) and I then instantly moved the quad forward 10 meters. Both of us were equally startled – the bull on encountering an alien machine, I an half horned scrub bull. Sort of Mexican standoff 🙂

    And both of us were very wary when either of us spotted the other afterwards.

    It’s moments like these that on needs minties or other stimulants.

  70. spangled drongo May 23, 2009 at 8:27 pm #

    Louis,
    I was crazy enough once to take on “mustering” scrub bulls on contract. It was for the US hamburger meat trade because bullmeat can apparently absorb its own weight in water and such bulls only exist as wild scrubbers. Huge, old and extremely cunning.
    But it is a mad caper. They call it moonlighting only you can’t use the moon. It has to be pitch dark. Lots of gored horses, dead dogs and broken limbs but good money.

  71. Ann Novek May 24, 2009 at 8:14 pm #

    Some people have posted comments here that show compassion for animals. Thanks!

  72. Bayrunner May 29, 2009 at 9:55 pm #

    Greens should celebrate the fundamental relationship between man and beast, not condemn it.
    Great footage, Jennifer.

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