Monday, March 21, 2005

When I Get There, Please Let Me Die.

I am utterly horrified by this whole mess with the Vegetable Woman and her new Saviour, George W. Not surprised, of course-- like any rational person I now expect the current White House adminsitration to hop happily onto whatever religious bandwagon will work best for platforming and proselytizing.
In truth, I haven't yet figured out how to put my horror into words, but I assure you-- if I am in that state, and any of you try to keep some rational, loving friend from pulling the plug, when I do die, I will come back and haunt the bejesus out of you.
If you want to be horrified, too: The Guardian's 'Bush Intervenes in Right-to-Die Case'

Thursday, March 17, 2005

An Occassion For New Gloves?

The Guardian has an article online today about animal rights and sentinence, a topic about which I feel rather strongly. But, as an historian, I was distracted by the author's brief mention of 'the not-so-distant past when Europeans - and some Americans - dressed animals up, put them on trial for heinous crimes and executed them.' I had a moment of annoyance about people's poor scholarship, until I read through the rest of the article. Finally the animal trial reference was explained. Apparently:

'In his book, The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, 19th-century American scholar Edward Payson Evans chronicles animal trials that took place, mainly in Europe, between the ninth and 19th centuries.
'Evans' account was taken from the earlier published records of one Bartholomé Chassenée, a 16th-century French jurist who made his reputation as counsel for an unspecified number of rats. The rats were prosecuted in the ecclesiastical court of Autun for having feloniously eaten and wantonly destroyed local barley.
'One of the most notorious cases Evans describes was the public execution in 1386 of an infanticidal sow in the French town of Falaise. Having been convicted by a court of law, the sow was dressed in human clothes and executed in the main square by an official hangman who had been given a new pair of gloves to mark the solemnity of the occasion.
'Sometimes the condemned were offered clemency. According to Evans, youth could be grounds for acquittal, as in the prosecution of a sow and her six piglets for having murdered and partly devoured a child. The sow was sentenced to death, but the piglets were acquitted on account of their immaturity and the bad example set them by their mother.'

Ri-ight. This is historical weirdness at its best, so I will ignore the part of my brain that says that the pig almost certainly received a more humane death than most animals in the slaughterhouse today. But, in order to spark some sort of response from my three readers, I am going to ask for opinions on a question that has troubled me for some time: Why is it that when many people hear of the death of a child they are shocked and horrified, but the deaths of young animals don't seem to elicit any sort of response? This is actually a genuine question, but because of that I will not accept a chauvinistic and simplistic 'Because they are human!' as an answer. But do let me know if you have any thoughts.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A few notes on today...

There is a new addition to the busking scene on George IV Bridge near the belly dancing store: a trumpeter. Playing Waltzing Mathilda. This was so exciting to me that instead of heading to the library I actually crossed the street to empty all the change out of my wallet. And it was only then that I realised that The Trumpeter not only plays a jaunty instrument, but he has a very charming black lab. So good.

On a less good note, while reading the comments at Manolo's blog I found out that there is to be a remake of Flashdance. Starring Jennifer Lopez. Dear God. I bet Jennifer Beals wishes she was dead, so that she could properly turn in her grave.

Also of interest (though neither negative nor positive, as far as I am concerned): Google is in Gaelic today. I am not sure why.