Friday, February 26, 2010

Of Orcas and such

When I first heard the news about the trainer in Florida recently killed by an agitated orca (killer-whale) at some sea-life park down there, my thoughts were:

Why the hell don't they let the poor beast go?

What height of cruelty to take an animal meant by nature to wander the high seas, and force it to spend its life in a cramped tank!

Later, listening to more discussions, I have changed my views a little.

We are told that the orca would have no idea how to live life on its own, having spent its life in captivity. Orcas are social animals, with strong family structures. Without a "pod" of its own, it would be virtually helpless.

So this particular animal endures the lesser of two evils -- captivity but steady food and some degree of social contact with its kind.

Then I thought, well, at least ours will probably be the last generation that even sees these marine mammals in captivity, since it is now illegal to grab them out of the wild.

Then I thought, well, is that a good thing? You cannot love what you do not know. The child who visits a sea life park and sees, up close, in the flesh, one of these powerful and enigmatic animals and feels the salt spray upon his or Her face and hears the mighty creature utter its unique song -- in short, experiences the beast for his or Her self, will never forget it. And chances are, that child will grow up with at least some degree of awe and appreciation and sympathy for the creatures of the deep. Given the chance, they will support marine conservation measures. Perhaps they will think twice about dumping paint down a storm drain.

If a few animals must spend life in captivity for that greater good, perhaps such captivity is not an unmitigated evil.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Of spices and travel

A very interesting page. My kind of guy -- unafraid to venture into new languages; a world-traveler; and a lover of knowledge and great food.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Beloved and I dined at Her favorite restaurant for Valentine's Day, Cracker Barrel. For those of you unfamiliar with the place, it attempts to replicate an old-fashioned country store setting, complete with enough weird old things on the walls to make an estate-sale addict die of envy. Snow-shoes, deer heads, faded sepia-tone photographs, vintage ads, etc.

On the wall over our table were several framed front covers from a magazine called Child Life, dating to the 1930s. We smiled at the chubby-cheeked cherubs depicted thereon, looking vaguely as if they were drawn by the same person who drew the Campbell's Soup kids, having the sort of outdoor adventures few children seem to have these days.

It was also a far cry from what is peddled to children for literary entertainment today, Teen Cosmo and the like.

I went Internet searching today and was surprised to find that Child Life Magazine kept publishing for quite a while -- lasting until just a year or two ago.

My childhood was spent exploring fields and forests, climbing trees and bounding over boulders, exploring holes in the ground and the wide open desert. I wore whatever I found in my dresser drawer -- the word "style" didn't enter my vocabulary until high school.

I would not want to be a child today.