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20 11 2006

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Animal Cruelty

13 11 2006

Posted to a friend’s “wall” on Facebook by a gal from WVU (West Virginia?):



1. The University of Wisconsin-Madison
It’s tempting to call the University of Wisconsin-Madison the nexus of evil in the world, but we’ll simply call it the worst animal-abusing university in the country. UW-Madison has a long tradition of animal abuse—including Professor Harry Harlow’s infamous 1950s-era studies in which baby monkeys were torn from their mothers and placed next to abusive mechanical “monster mothers.” Today, UW-Madison continues this shameful tradition by keeping approximately 2,500 primates imprisoned—with an estimated 500 confined to isolation cages—and performing painful and distressing experiments on more than 850 each year.

please students get involved and do something about this….i read it and it was disturbing if its your university you have a say so!!


My response:

I saw your post on a friend’s wall about primate research at UW. I agree that animal cruelty is wrong, and Wisconsin has strict regulations against cruelty: . In this story, the author cites an instance when a researcher lost her research privileges for two years. The other incident was likely a result of neglect. The story offers a balanced view of the situation.

A researcher from the university rebuts an anti-research advocate here: .

He makes a good point that we are slowing the AIDS pandemic through publishing research that may be used to detect AIDS earlier, to treat it or even to cure it.

My dad worked for a business in a building used by the University of Minnesota. His work was on the main floor while animal research took place in the basement. Golden retrievers, a common research dog, were used to test lung and heart transplant techniques. The animals received a transplant, then they were monitored to see how they responded to the transplant. Doubtless, many of the dogs died. My dad owned a golden retriever for a good portion of his life, and it broke his heart to see the dogs lying there dying. Still, you’ve got to believe that the research done 15-30 years ago of this nature helped researchers understand how transplants worked such that transplants we see as common and fairly safe now were able to be made safe.

That being said, I don’t disagree that animal researchers should go unchecked by non-government, non-institutional organizations. We all need to be concerned about cruelty to animals.

I suggest that those concerns be directed at farms that raise millions of chickens, pigs, turkeys and cows in squalor to be sold to consumers who are interested in the cheapest meat. This kind of animal abuse doesn’t just cause animal suffering. It leads to bioaccumulation of antibiotics and possible spread of prions, the protein fragments that cause brain degenerative diseases. You’re looking at millions of commercially-raised farm animals versus a few thousand (total, nationwide!) primates. A good question to ask then is, “Are we favoring animals based on their likeness to humans or based on whether or not they feel pain.

I’m an entomology major, and I work with insects frequently. I rarely work with live insects but rather with dead ones that have been trapped, often in a way that, had it been a mammal or a human, would have been cruel. Such techniques include getting stuck on a piece of cardstock and starving, drowning in antifreeze and death by cyanide gassing. Do insects elicit the kind of sympathy? Maybe if they’re butterflies, but what if they’re moths? Ants? Cockroaches? In addition, I have the knowledge that insects don’t feel pain. Still, they die.

My message is not “Allow animal research.” It’s, “Beware misinformation!” Don’t necessarily believe every shred of information presented to you in print, even if it looks official. Investigate many forms of information, your religious beliefs, your gut reaction and you stance on humanity’s role in the world. I care passionately about animals, but I care more passionately about the majority of the human race.


I leave you with a quote from the Dalai Lama at the Society for Neuroscience (the best reference I could track for this:

“It is a difficult question, [as it] is a difficult [duty]. I will answer, as I do, to the question of many Tibetan Buddhists who are not vegetarians,” he grinned. “I encourage the minimum use of experiments on animals, the absolute minimum amount of pain. Only perform highly necessary experiments, and as little pain as possible. If it must be done, [if that is your path, it is compassionate] to kill out of necessity, but only with empathy. Hold in you the sense of the compassionate. ‘I [acknowledge] that I exploit this animal to bring greater benefit to a great number of sentient beings.’ You must feel the sacrifice, in your heart. It is “never made lightly.”

Arrested Development – Where are they?

7 11 2006

I was investigating NBC’s kickass new show, Heroes, when I found a link to some clips of Peter Jeffery Tambor’s new project, 20 Good Years. For those not in the Arrested Development fan base (and you should feel my scorn and contempt over that), Tambor plays George Bluth Sr., the family’s embezzling, corrupt patriarch. His role was amazing, and he and the rest of the cast cast deserved more credit and love than FOX gave them. Anywho, Tambor co-stars with John Lithgow (yeah!). They play two guys who decide that they’re going to make the best of the rest of their lives and have “20 Good Years” before they die. I only saw part of one clip, but the writing seems sub-par. Maybe that’s because I’m comparing it to Devo, though.

A banner on YouTube caught my eye when I thought I saw Will Arnett (GOB Bluth) in it. Turns out he’s in a movie called Let’s Go to Prison which doesn’t look half bad. Wikipedia (an always reliable source) says he’s got 10 movie projects lined up for the next two years! Wow! I guess he was in the latest Robin Williams movie, RV. My parents said it wasn’t the greatest, but they mentioned that Will Arnett and Tony Hale (Buster Bluth, see my icon) were both in it.

AND I just dug up this picture of Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth) from something like Tiger Beat. Holy crap, huh?

Lastly, I know I don’t get much of a readership, but PLEASE, go vote!
And, Inkysunset, your link was broken. I have a guess as to who you are, but… I don’t know.

Sore Loser #1

5 11 2006

I’ve lauded the production abilities of many of today’s pop producers as the reason behind the success of many artists (eg Pharrell Williams for Britney Spears’ “Toxic”). I never thought I’d hear an amazing producer express so clearly that it’s not about the music, but rather about the video.

Guess who this is: “Fuck dis! [My video] cost a million dollars, Pamela Anderson was in it, I was jumping across canyons and shit! If I don’t win, the awards show loses credibility.”

Yep. Kanye West. He went on a tirade during the European MTV music awards (in which mostly American artists won awards) against the winners of Best Video, Justice and Simian. Granted, the award itself was about the video and I think Kanye’s video was probably better, having seen part of it, but to have such an overblown ego about a video is preposterous.

Let’s examine the above quote: 1) he spent a million dollars, 2) the video had Pamela Anderson in it and 3) he was “jumping across canyons”… and shit. Well, actually, do we need to examine these facts? Spending a lot of money does not a great music video (or movie or political campaign) make. Think Waterworld and Ross Perot. Pamela Anderson is the one you want to put in your music video to ensure it won’t succeed. And, c’mon Kanye, you didn’t jump over any canyons or shit, you just jumped with a green screen behind you.

I’ll give him that the Justice and Simian video isn’t amazing, even though it is entertaining. He even won a different award already. Stop being such a bitch, Kanye.

Oh yeah, Sore Loser #2: Saddam Hussein. He’s set to hang within 30 days. As my friend Harry pointed out, this is conveniently right before midterm elections. I don’ think it will sway the vote much, but we’ll see. I’m hoping for a change in senate control.

Mike Pesca just returned to his podcast “On Gambling” after a summer hiatus, and his first story after being back is on the Iowa Electronic Markets. It’s this online futures market run by researchers at the University of Iowa that allows gamblers to legally bet on the outcome of presidential and congressional elections. Right now, the majority of gamblers have shares in “RS–Hold”, meaning that the Republican’s will hold a tight control of the senate. Still, RS-lose (losing the majority) is a big gainer over RS-gain, a stock predicting that the republicans will actually gain a much greater majority. I’m really fascinated to see how well it predicts outcomes.

Langdon Street Safety

3 11 2006
  From the Badger Herald:

Greeks’ plan ill-advised

by Emily Friedman
Thursday, November 2, 2006

Halloween is over and, surprisingly, ended without pepper spray or riots — an achievement that students and city officials should be proud of. With that said, it is now time for Madison officials to put away their riot gear and return to the more pertinent issues facing the downtown area. Just because Halloween weekend saw a minimal amount of crime compared to years past does not mean that we are in the clear. Crime here in Madison, just as in any other city, is an issue we cannot afford to ignore.

The recent months have been plagued with violence of all types, from break-ins to robberies to sexual assaults. Just this week, a girl was sleeping on her couch when she awoke to an assailant holding a knife to her neck. And that is without even broaching the entire disaster that was Club Majestic.

Whereas most of the crimes have occurred in downtown areas that are flooded with student apartments, Langdon Street has been under particular scrutiny for poor lighting and an absence of surveillance. Following an attack on a student who lived on Langdon, several columnists, as well as The Badger Herald editorial board, urged the city to make changes and help to ensure the safety of UW students. Instead of seeking out underage drinkers at local bars, police officers should be hitting the streets on high alert for potentially dangerous situations.

Much to the surprise of doubtful students, the city responded well and there has since been a noticeable increase in the number of cops downtown, as well as a general feeling of strong police presence in the most dangerous areas. Don’t get me wrong, drinking tickets are still signed weekly, but there are unarguably more cops keeping watch on the city and students.

City officials also took part in a survey of working streetlights throughout the downtown area. Upon determining lights that were either broken, overtaken by shrubbery or just plain non-existent, they took action and brought light to many of our streets.

The city of Madison has done a good job addressing the crime problem, and although there is still work to do, Halloween did, if nothing else, remove some of the skepticism surrounding the police department.

Despite these improvements, the UW Greek system has formulated a plan to institute a neighborhood watch consisting of fraternity and sorority members. In a press release from the Madison Police Department Nov. 1, Greek members are not “asked to take on a confrontational or law enforcement role” but instead “become a highly visible presence” on the street. Greeks will begin patrolling on the evening of Nov. 3, and will continue the surveillance every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for the rest of the academic year. It was also noted that Greek members are the major advocates for the implementation of emergency safety light stations on Langdon.

Although the plan has good intentions, I question both the appropriateness of Greek members performing such an important job as well as the potentially dangerous repercussions of the system. A neighborhood watch program manned by college students should be a last result for a city like ours. After all, we are not paying tuition to take over the responsibilities of a police department, especially one that has been stepping up to the plate and listening to students’ concerns.

The types of violent crimes have ranged from sexual assaults of young women to the battery of young men. Many have been extremely violent and the choice of victims has proven the age-old stereotype wrong: Men can get attacked, too. Furthermore, walking in groups does not always protect students from danger, as gang violence often has no rhyme or reason. So, who is to say that assailants won’t just see the patrolling Greeks as a perfect target, rather than a deterrent?

In a deserted community with little violence, I understand the point and the effectiveness of a neighborhood watch. But it is frustrating to think that Madison residents are so out of touch with the reality of living in a city that they think they can take this situation into their own hands. By doing so, they are essentially removing much of the pressure that has helped mobilize the police force and lessen downtown crime rates.

Yes, an increase in the number of people on Langdon Street will probably make residents feel safer. But will they actually be safer? It’s doubtful. Examining the history of attacks leads me to believe that safety is not in the numbers, but in police enforcement.

Emily Friedman ( is a senior majoring in journalism and legal studies.

My Response

Dear Ms. Friedman,

It’s excellent that you praise the city of Madison for its work in making city streets even the least bit safer. I actually was unaware of much of what has happened as far as stepping up safety measures.

I’m dissappointed about your stance on the neighborhood watch program, though. To quote:

…But it is frustrating to think that Madison residents are so out of touch with the reality of living in a city that they think they can take this situation into their own hands. By doing so, they are essentially removing much of the pressure that has helped mobilize the police force and lessen downtown crime rates.

I don’t believe very many of Madison’s students are so naive as to think that this is a city without crime. My sister spent her first three weeks in Madison carrying her can of mace in a death grip everywhere she went and was sure to walk with at least one other after dark. To add to that, I’m very sure that most people know they wouldn’t be able to stop a determined criminal on their own or often even in groups.

By implementing any kind of plan, we’re not relieving the city’s sense of responsibility. If a loosely organized group of determined college students causes the city and the police force to let their guards down, God help us all. Rather, the Greek community is taking on a sense of true community. (Or many in the Greek community are, anyway. It’s sad to have a fraction of Greeks such as yourself and at least one member of my fraternity in opposition to the plan.)

For once, we’re able to put aside our competetive squabbles and work together with a sense of ownership in our community. This community includes everyone on Langdon: apartment-dwellers, co-op members and Greeks. Many of societies problems are fed by a lack of community and togetherness. I’m sure this neighboorhood plan will make the Langdon Street area safer.

A Brother’s Public Anonymous Response

Anonymous (November 2, 2006 @ 1:42pm):

This article frustrates and irritates me on a number of levels. My feelings wouldn’t be so strong, either, if I hadn’t been so sure that the Herald (and Emily in particular) would take this stance on a neighborhood watch program that can only help, not harm. Let us examine the main points of Emily’s article further.

She makes an argument that has become more popular as of late by saying that police officers should focus less on catching underage drinkers at bars and more on surveillance of downtown streets after bar-time (when most of the attacks have occurred). This is a sentiment voiced by many people I have talked to about this issue, including members of my own fraternity (which is spearheading the first patrols on Nov. 3). The thought is this: the police aren’t doing their job; we shouldn’t do it for them. This is a dangerous mentality – it is symptomatic of a general disregard for one’s own community and neighborhood that is sadly all but omnipresent in the Greek Community. Half of the fraternities cannot even take care of their own chapter houses, let alone care about the state of the street upon which they live. But to completely disregard and discount the idea for what is essentially a neighborhood watch program is short-sighted. Is the safe-walk, safe-ride, and safe-bus program then equally ineffective and worthless in combating violent crimes?

The police cannot be everywhere at all times. To quote one of my brothers: “with this plan, they are acknowledging their own shortcomings and recognizing that we are capable enough to make a difference in our community’s safety. In front of us we have a chance to help make our city safer. That protection is the job of the police is certainly true, but they don’t have a monopoly on that market…helping patrol Langdon and taking the means to discuss police priorities are not mutually exclusive.”

A neighborhood watch program cannot hurt. Why do nothing as men are beaten and mugged, women are raped and hurt, etc.? To assume, as Emily does, that a neighborhood watch program is counter-productive because it deflects responsibility off the police is over-simplistic. Honestly, I cannot imagine a meeting of Madison police officials in which they will state: “well, we’ve got the Greek system patrolling Langdon now, so we don’t have to worry about that anymore.” Of course it relieves some pressure on the department. Isn’t that the point? The police are charged with protecting and serving the populace – but to refuse to help with that responsibility is selfish. Why does a neighborhood watch program have to be a last resort? Why can responsible students not come together for the greater good and take the initiative in helping police? And I must laugh at the idea of a gang of violent criminals walking down to Langdon in order to attack a group of 25-30 Greek members. There IS strength in numbers, and the crimes that have been perpetrated on Langdon have NOT been gang crimes of 4 or more people, they have been individuals or pairs of people attacking inebriated students walking home from the bars late at night. There is a world of difference between group gang violence and a pattern of individual attacks.

And a news flash: downtown crime rates haven’t been going down. Sure, there has been an increased police presence, but incidents are still happening. Emily, if you honestly think we are out of touch with reality because we want to HELP our fellow man, then perhaps you need to turn that magnifying glass around and ask yourself why you are so quick to attack the police and the Greek system (of which you are a part) instead of taking responsibility yourself and doing what you can to help. You may think you are part of the solution by pointing fingers and bashing potential assistance plans, but you’re actually part of the problem. Don’t make the problem worse by refusing to lend your support because you selfishly assume the police aren’t doing everything they can to combat the problem.

For the record, I’ll be out there on Friday night with my brothers. I hope we won’t have to, but even if we just stop ONE drunk kid from harassing a woman, or make a potential rapist think twice about where he can hide to claim his next victim because there will be 30 men with their eyes open that night, then the program has succeeded. Why? Because it didn’t exist before. Emily, and other students, I implore you to help us combat a problem that affects and concerns us ALL, not just the police, instead of calling us names and pointing fingers.