31 05 2008

This is what I thinking of right now: the kids, Willie, Genescan, DRD4 and budgerigars (it looks like I may have a few more exons! but this is premature), earthquake, flood, earthquake, cyclone, earthquake, war, earthquake, analysis of kitty microsatellites

to be more objective, I should stop calling them kitties. I pulled the samples from 2003 out of the freezer and said, here’s a kitten. I knew it because it was labeled 5/4/03 16 4/5, which it means it was 4/5 samples from individual 16—there was one mother and 4 unborn feti. I felt sick after I said it. So this, I thought, is why we call them samples and not kittens.

[Thinking about] Obama Clinton, Willie, writing a final quail paper, with data no less, and a review of avian social behavior that doesn’t fit into the hitherto describe modes of behavior—because, dammit, quail family groups don’t make sense in the current rubrics. I am also thinking about going back out into the field with those birds I love. What do you think? To be able to identify them and follow them I need to band, maybe take blood and perhaps radiotrack. All of these are more invasive that I want to be. What do you think? What should I do?

am I planning my little field excursion in August simply to serve myself. It is a selfish desire to be able to know the birds like I did before. To look out and see red black black and know her, recognize her. I believe (though I have not tested this and therefore should not be stating it but oh well) quail recognize individuals and base reaction and behavior in part on this recognition and past experience. I actually would like to test this but…

Other things I am thinking about, Willie, the kids, Nina the cat, quail vocalization analysis, the novel draft I just finished, obsessiveness, discomfort, self, manuscripts sitting around, mysterious, and the poem about the little dead baby.


That I want to get closer to that nonhuman animal place.

the kids.

and there goes a little dog, what kind is it I don’t know.


Blogging for Les Figues Press

7 05 2008

I have been invited to post a weekly entry at the Les Figues Press blog–come by if you are curious.

Language and cats

7 05 2008

Natalie Angier, in the New York Times Science Times on 4/29/08, covered a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

She discusses the way humans categorize other species and then use these categories, especially if they are negative, to justify eradicating (AKA killing) individuals of these groups in the name of conservation (e.g. cowbirds) or environmental preservation (e.g. pigeons).

This issue has bothered me a great deal because I am currently studying feral cat population dynamics and the utility of the spay neuter release approach to population control. The controversy over this approach vs. eradication (AKA shooting, poisoning, etc.) is heated and vehement and I do not want to go over it right now (do a web search and you’ll find folks on both sides) because the lack of data and the verbal sparring with loaded terms (note my parentheses as an example) gives me a headache.

But, I want to put forward the argument that we need to consider how we approach these other species in a way that explores all aspects of our mutual relationship–how they got where they are (usually we moved them their so the original culpability and responsibility is not theirs but OURS), what their actual present day impact is (not just what happened when they were introduced, as a novel predator, 100 years ago) and ALL of the options open to us now, not just the easiest or most emotionally satisfying (e.g. shooting that damn cat that has been eating the birds; and ignoring the cat that shows up in its wake [see the New York Times Magazine 12/2/07.

Essentially, I believe we have to recognize that the cats are only feasting on the remains of our destructiveness. When we consider what to do with the multitude of feral and free roaming cats that may or may not be threatening bird and other species we need to recognize that we carried them all over the world and we have a responsibility to consider humane approaches to managing their numbers rather than simply label them invasive and shoot them on sight.