Saturday, December 31, 2011

My New Year's Wish

In a world where people still starve, dictators still reign, greed runs rampant, and acrimony is a synonym for governance; where cancer is unvanquished, women are still raped, relatives kill each other, and children are abducted and murdered; where ethics are ignored, amorality is rewarded, infidelity is flaunted, and secularism prevails; it is hard for those of us who care, to know where to begin in our caring.

It is understandable then, that so few of the good and decent citizens of the world are willing to invest their time, and financial and emotional resources to save the whales and dolphins who share this tiny blue space marble with us. There are so many other equally just causes and so many unfilled needs. But that does not stop those of us who do care about these intelligent and sentient creatures from hoping that others will join us in condemning the cruelty and depravity of Japanese, Icelandic, and Norwegian whalers who slaughter whales on the high seas; or the avarice and callousness of the owners and employees of Sea World and other parks like it who keep Orcas, and Belugas, and Bottlenose Dolphins trapped in tiny tanks for the amusement of ignorant and uncaring audiences.

And so as we stand together on the doorstep of 2012 and beyond, while I wish for the future salvation of whales and dolphins from persecution by man, I urge the rest of you to care about something; anything worthwhile. Take up some noble banner be it feeding the world, or curing cancer, or educating children, or protecting the innocent from evil: if you don't then what will be your legacy? When your days here are done will you be able to look back on your life and say I mattered; I counted; I stood for something important? If so, you will leave the world a better place and that, my friend, is a greater epitaph than any amount of fame or fortune.

I am going to take some time off from writing this blog. I am not sure when I will be back. Until then good luck and God bless...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Good Tidings To Some But Not All

In their op-ed article in last Sunday's New York Times, titled, "War Really Is Going Out of Style," Joshua S. Goldstein and Steven Pinker expressed the view that mankind is gradually turning away from war. They proposed that "...our growing repugnance toward institutionalized violence..." is perhaps the primary cause and noted that "...cannibalism, human sacrifice, heretic-burning, chattel slavery, punitive mutilation, sadistic executions..." have largely disappeared from the face of the earth. Sadly, they are wrong.

In this time of year when over one third of the population of the earth, and eight out of ten Americans, celebrate the birth of Christ, the thought that war may be a thing of the past must give hope to us all. It should also make us even more appreciative of the nobility, sense of duty, and sacrifice demonstrated by the men and women who have served in our armed forces. And yet, even as we thank them and look upon our fellow human beings through the eyes of peace, it is sad to note that the very acts that Messrs. Goldstein and Pinker cite as fading from our pan-global repertoire are still painfully evident in our treatment of the whales and dolphins with which we share the earth.

Despite the good tidings that men and women of faith everywhere feel at Christmas, the most intelligent and sentient beings on the planet, next to man, still suffer the brunt of mankind's millennia-long love affair with violence, brutality, and killing. In great numbers, they are still slaughtered, butchered, consumed, enslaved, mistreated, mutilated, and executed by us: and for that we are a lesser people and this is a lesser world. That any animal should be made to suffer is inexcusable; but where the victims of such vile acts possess an awareness of self and family that is arguably equal to ours, the infliction of such suffering is abhorrent.

Perhaps one day, on some Christmas Eve in the future, the good tidings that we feel toward our fellow men will apply equally to these beautiful and beleaguered creatures of the deep. Until then, those of us who care deeply about these magnificent beings that are relentlessly hunted by Japanese, Icelandic, and Norwegian whaling fleets, or confined in tiny concrete tanks for our amusement by Sea World and other fun parks like them, will continue to speak out against the depravity of the few and the apathy of the many.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 19, 2011

US Law Firm Takes Blood Money

Under the American system of justice even killers who commit the most heinous acts, such as the rape and murder of children, are entitled to legal representation. This is a necessary and fundamental precept of democracy. Accordingly, there are some in the legal profession who must take on this morally repugnant task; however, the role of 'public defender' is not one with universal appeal to law school graduates. And even in the case where a defendant charged with such acts of brutality has the resources to hire the best legal counsel, many law firms choose to decline such an assignment.

This conundrum holds true for those evil and cowardly human beings who commit acts of extreme cruelty to animals; they too must be defended. However, it is disappointing to note that the Seattle law firm of Miller Nash has agreed to represent Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) in its law suit against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS). The suit seeks to enjoin Paul Watson's group from "acts of violence", which the Japanese claim caused them to cut short last year's whale hunt. Why any American law firm would wish to act on behalf of the Japanese whalers who massacre these magnificent creatures is perplexing; but in the case of Miller Nash it is even more so since the firm prides itself in its commitment to protecting the natural environment, and actively supports 'no kill' animal shelters.

One is left to wonder, what were the partners thinking in accepting the ICR as a client? Can they truly draw a distinction between killing cats and dogs in shelters, versus whales on the high seas? Or is it that the blood money was just too rich to decline? How sad. How cold. How cruel.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tsunami Blood Money

Adding tragedy to tragedy, the Japanese government has admitted that some of the public funds earmarked to help rebuild the areas devastated by last March's tsunami will be used to increase the security for its whaling fleet. While the government works towards the abolition of the worldwide ban on commercial whaling (along with Iceland and Norway), it is defiantly continuing its barbaric practice of whaling under the guise of 'research'. And in an attempt to thwart the anti-whaling efforts of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, some tsunami relief money is being used to add an unspecified number of coast guard ships to accompany the whaling fleet on their annual voyage of butchery to the Southern Ocean.

So all of you decent and humane citizens of the world who donated your hard earned money to help the beleaguered peoples of Japan recover from the devastating earthquake and tidal wave have unknowingly contributed to the massacre of thousands of whales. Obviously, it is too late to take your donations back: the only thing those of us who care about whales and dolphins can do is shake our heads in silent sympathy for the magnificent, intelligent, and sentient beings who are about to be slaughtered in those cold and unforgiving Antarctic waters.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Whale Poop and Sushi

What's the difference between whale poop and sushi? About $5,000 a pound. Ba-dum-bum CHING!

In the world of whales and dolphins where the news is almost always sad or bad or both, I thought we could all use a little smile...but before I explain let's have a look at today's gloomy headlines:-

*the Japanese whaling fleet is back down in the Southern Ocean slaughtering whales again while their government has increased funding for this butchery masquerading as 'research.'
* the young female Orca (named Morgan by the Dutch people) has been transferred to a sea park in the Canary Islands after a court rejected pleas by animal rights groups to free her.
* veterinarians at SeaWorld claim that close human contact is good for their captive Orcas. Of course, the threat of being fired has nothing to do with this ridiculous and disingenuous claim.
* the seas off the Faroe Islands are running red with blood once again as islanders partake in their annual bloodfest in which Pilot Whales are massacred in the surf.

And so on, and so on; whenever and wherever whales come in contact with man, the news is rarely good. Which brings me back to the matter of whale poop and sushi. If you thought the answer to my opening one-liner was that raw fish and cooked rice demanded the higher price, you'd be wrong. It is the poop, at least as far as Sperm Whales are concerned. This dark, waxy material, known as ambergris that is excreted by these magnificent squid hunters has been the stuff of legends ever since whalers first went to sea with murder on their minds.

Over the centuries it has been used variously as food (yuk), an aphrodisiac (ya baby), incense (really?), a cure for migraines (both cause and cure?) and much more; but its use in perfume is what generates the big bucks. When fresh, it smells like cow slurry (just ask a dairy farmer) but after it's aged it takes on a pleasant aroma in its own right and also prevents the perfume's scent from fading.

But before you run down to the seashore and start searching for Sperm Whale poop, you should know that it's illegal to sell it in the US; so if you find some just put it in a bucket of sea water for about a year and then you can make your own perfume (if every brainless female celeb can do it, why not you?), but don't be surprised if your neighbors all move away.