Skip to main content

Tag: animals

Animalogy Podcast COMING IN JANUARY!

As January 20th approaches, not everyone is talking about the inauguration of the 45th president but about the animals hidden within the word itself. Just in time for Inauguration Day, I’m launching Animalogy, a podcast about the animal-related words and expressions we use every day and how they affect and reflect our relationship with other animals. The inaugural episode, Inauguration: On a Wing and a Prayer, takes us back to the politics of ancient Rome to reveal the birds behind the word.

To make sure you don’t miss the first episodes, be sure to subscribe to these blog posts (in the sidebar to your right!), as well as to the main mailing list below. You can also support the podcast and receive the written transcripts + more by becoming a Patron!

[Tweet “Animalogy is a new podcast that is changing the way we talk — and think (and thus treat) animals!”]

Enjoy the excerpt from Animalogy below, and listen to the Food for Thought episode in which I provide all the details about what you can expect from this very exciting project I’m so proud you’re a part of.

Animalogy: Our Animal-Related Words and Phrases

Today’s Food for Thought episode is all about Animalogy, whose timing could not be more perfect not only because of the urgency of the need to transform our negative perception and ill treatment of nonhuman animals but also because we are living in a time when we are all called upon to be linguistically sensitive to vulnerable and disenfranchised groups. And perhaps no group is left out of our consideration more than the nonhuman animals of the world. We are all encouraged to be aware of and mindful about our language when it comes to those who don’t look, emote, or sound like we do. Animalogy shows what it would look like to accord that same respect to nonhuman animals — not because it changes them but because it changes us. Take a listen.

Democratic Actions for Animals

I love this country. I love that we have inalienable rights. I love that we can vote. I love that we can take part in the democratic process. It’s not perfect; there is a lot of work to be done, but I love being part of that work. I love being a citizen — in the broadest sense of the word.

There’s a lot of skepticism in our country right now; we spend a lot of time being critical — as we should — but personally, I feel best when I’m being critical and active. And one of the best ways we can do this is by getting involved in local causes.

I remember a time when I was embarrassed that I couldn’t tell you which neighborhood district I lived in or who my district council member was, but I aspired to become more involved. Today, my civic participation pales compared to many people who are more involved than I am, but I try to make my voice heard, especially when it comes to how my city relates to non-human animals.

Two of the things I’m most proud being involved in is stopping slaughter hobbyists from killing animals in the backyards of Oakland (see news story below about our efforts) and speaking on behalf of elephants when the Oakland City Council took up the issue of banning the bullhook, especially by companies who bring the circus to town.

 

Why Should Anyone Beat a Horse — Dead or Otherwise?

In less descriptive terms, the expression “there’s no use beating / flogging a dead horse” essentially means to “bring up an issue that has already been concluded is futile.” A necessary point to convey, but the imagery of this well-known idiom is enough to make my tummy turn. English politician and orator John Bright seems to have been very fond of the phrase and may even have originated it. In 1872, The Globe newspaper quotes a speech Bright gave to Parliament in which he said that rousing the government from its apathy on a particular issue (The Reform Act of 1867, if you want to know) would be “like trying to flog a dead horse to make it pull a load.” There is evidence, however, that he said it even earlier than that, as it is attributed to him as early as 1859.  

Either way, I think 150 years is long enough for this violent expression to have had its time in the sun. But that’s the amazing thing about language: it’s fluid, it’s unpredictable, and it’s fickle. But it’s also stubborn; steadfast, and obstinate. If you tell it to change, it will dig its heels in and resist even more. However, language’s only power lies in usage. Like the annoying tease who stops teasing when you ignore him, so, too, can offensive or distasteful expressions wither and die from underuse. We are the carriers of such expressions, and with conscious neglect, we can strip them of their power. 

And so, I give you an alternative: “There’s no use watering a dead flower.” Visual. Evocative. To the point. Try it on. Say it aloud. Practice it at home and in public. Share it with loved ones. Write it into a speech — to Parliament or otherwise. With constant use, it can grow and flourish and leave the violent version in the dust. 
 

Urban Livestock

With access to healthful fruits and vegetables lacking in many areas of Oakland, the city modified its zoning regulations to make it easier for people to grow and sell edible plants… For more, listen below.

The Lives of Others

I’m very proud to be a contributor to my National Public Radio station, KQED. In this 2-minute radio editorial, I explain why when I encounter a stray animal, I can’t help but help. And, so I’m always prepared.

Compassion

When Colleen Patrick-Goudreau prepares her meals, she isn’t selective in her compassion for living things.