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Inauguration

On Inauguration Day, not everyone is talking about the inauguration of the next U.S. president; some (like me) are talking about the animals hidden within the word itself. Listen to my radio commentary for NPR below (or on KQED’s website). Here is the transcript for your pleasure. 

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On January 20th, not everyone will be talking about the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States; some of us — well, probably only me — will be talking about the word INAUGURATION itself and the animals hidden within.

An INAUGURATION is the act of starting something new — like a business or a presidency — and its origins go all the way back to the religion of ancient Rome when priests called augurs interpreted the will of the gods by studying the omens aka the auguries to predict whether the undertaking in question was auspicious or inauspicious — a practice referred to as “taking the auspices”

They did this by reading the flight patterns, songs, and eating habits of birds, a practice called “inauguare.”

So, through the root avis meaning “bird,” our feathered friends reside in the words auspices, auspicious, inauspicious, inaugurate, inaugural, and inauguration.

And inauguration became the word we use to elect politicians into office with the hope that their inauguration foreshadows an auspicious tenure.

Today, we know we don’t have to interpret the will of the gods to predict the future; and we don’t need to read the behavior of birds to tell us whether or not an elected official will carry out their duties favorably and with success. (We never really did.)

All we need to do is look at the behavior of the candidate — their experience, reputation, and ability to lead; their honesty, empathy, and vision; their ability to communicate, their commitment to the public good, their allegiance to democracy.

That should tell us everything we need to know.

With a perspective. This is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

From Consumer to Owner: A Zero Waste Mindset

The changes I recently made to incorporate more zero-waste actions into my life have resulted in a change in my perspective. Listen to my NPR commentary about how we can have a zero-waste mindset while reducing our environmental footprint. Listen below, on KQED’s website, read the transcript below, and please share with friends and family. It’s a perspective that can change the way we interact with the world.

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A Zero Waste Mindset

I’ve always tried to live lightly on this earth and avoid causing harm to animals. I’ve been vegan for almost 20 years. I shop with canvas bags. I compost all of our family’s food and yard scraps. We irrigate our gardens with grey water from our showers and sinks. We shop at our local farmers market. We purposefully live where we can walk everywhere. And when we do drive, we have a single car — a plug-in hybrid whose gas tank we have yet to fill up.

Not perfect, but not bad. And yet earlier this year, I realized I may have unconsciously stopped doing more because I thought I was doing a lot. And so I did it: I “became” zero waste. And it has been absolutely life-changing.

The first time I heard the term “zero waste” was in 2006 when Oakland adopted its zero-waste policy in relation to its waste management. In fact, the term “zero waste” has its root in Oakland as well. It was coined in the 1970s by a chemist as the name for the company he founded to find new ways to use surplus chemicals discarded by the electronics industry.

The simple concept of zero waste is to prevent rather than divert trash, but at its core it’s about valuing and taking responsibility for goods we bring into our lives — replacing a linear system whereby goods are designed for discard with a circular system whereby goods are built for longevity and recirculated for as long as possible.

We need governments and manufacturers to help create a zero-waste world, but there’s so much individuals can do. We can replace our reliance on single-use plastic, reuse rather than recycle items like glass jars and bottles, repair what we already have, eliminate food waste in our home.

The journey thus far has been enlightening and overwhelming and exhilarating, and there have been many gifts and discoveries. Becoming zero waste has shifted some of my behaviors. I buy less, and I value more what I actually buy. But most significantly it has shifted my mindset — from seeing myself has an owner rather than a consumer of goods.

I’m not just living a zero-waste lifestyle. I’ve come to have a zero-waste mindset.

With a Perspective, this is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

I’m An Animal Advocate. And I Have Hope.

Yes, I have hope. No, I’m not a mythical creature.

I wrote and recorded this radio editorial for KQED Radio, called Why I Am Hopeful. Listen on KQED’s website, or just click play on the audio player below.

In any case, please share. I think animal advocates and vegans need to hear this message more than ever. 

I have been an animal advocate for more than 30 years, and I see enough cruelty every day to have a pretty bleak view of the world.

And yet, I have hope.

No, I’m not a mythical creature. No, I’m not delusional, and yes, I’m paying attention — so much so that I’m quite aware, for instance, that in the U.S. every year, over 9 billion animals are brought into this world only to be killed for human consumption.

Elephants are killed in their homes for their tusks.

And wild animals face the consequences of loss of habitat, hunting, and safe migration paths.

And yet, I have hope.

I have hope because I focus on what I can solve rather than what I can’t.

I have hope because there’s much to be hopeful about. History gives you great perspective if you just step back.

I have hope because outrage doesn’t change the world. Vision and vigilance do — along with the political, technological, economic, and moral forces that drive progress forward. I’m hopeful, because:

I live in a Democratic country, I can criticize elected officials, I can vote them out, and I can exercise my power and privilege to help those who have neither.

Scientific advances and technological breakthroughs, such as cellular agriculture, have the potential to save billions of animals from misery and death.

I live in an economic system that empowers visionaries to test their innovations in the marketplace and that gives me the choice to support companies and products that reflect my taste and ethics — and reject those that don’t.

My hope is not delusional; it’s rooted in facts, science, reason, and statistics.

My hope is not complacent; it’s provisional. It’s the difference between wanting things to change and taking action to facilitate that change.

My hope is rooted in joy. We don’t have to be angry all the time to demonstrate we care. We don’t have to be outraged to show that we’re conscious. We can be acutely aware, actively engaged, politically minded, and still have hope.

And so I’m hopeful, and I hope you are, too.

With a Perspective, this is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Why I Am Hopeful

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Animals Are Residents — Not Intruders

The animals who live among us are residents — not intruders; listen to my NPR commentary about how we can be better neighbors to our wild brethren. Listen below or on KQED’s website, read the transcript below, and please share with friends and family. It’s a perspective that can change the way we interact with the world. 

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Gerrymander hides an animal!

Did you know that the word GERRYMANDER is an animalogy? It’s a combination of Gerry—named after the governor who 1st redrew districts in his favor— and Salamander because of the shape of the newly drawn district on the map.

 

From TheFreeDictionary.com:

Word History: In 1812, as governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry signed a bill authorizing the revision of voting districts in his state. Members of Gerry’s party redrew them in order to secure their representation in the state senate, and out of Gerry’s home county, Essex County, they carved an unlikely-looking district with the shape of a salamander. According to one version of the coining of gerrymander, the shape of the district attracted the eye of the painter Gilbert Stuart, who noticed it on a map in a newspaper editor’s office. Stuart decorated the outline of the district with ahead, wings, and claws and then said to the editor, “That will do fora salamander!” “Gerrymander!” came the reply. The image created by Stuart first appeared in the March 26, 1812, edition of theBoston Gazette, where it was accompanied by the following title: The Gerrymander. A New Species of Monster, which appeared in the Essex South District in Jan. 1812. The new word gerrymander caught on instantly—within the same year gerrymander is also recorded as a verb. (Gerry’s name, incidentally, was pronounced with a hard (g) sound, although the word which has immortalized him is now commonly pronounced with a soft (j) sound.) Gerry ran for reelection in 1812, and popular outrage directed at the flagrant use of the technique we now call gerrymandering doubtless played a role in his defeat.

For more, listen to Animalogy Podcast, which is all about the animal-related words and expressions we use every day. 

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Do you see the bear in ARCTIC?

Did you know that the word ARCTIC is an animalogy? It comes from the root word for “BEAR.”

OTHER BEAR-BASED ANIMALOGIES:

*the constellation Ursa Major — it means “Great Bear

*the constellation Ursa Major — it means “Little Bear

*the constellation Arcturus — it means “Guardian of the Bear

*the names Ursula and Orsa 

*the names Orson and Arthur

*the word ursine pertaining to the characteristics of bears 

For more, listen to Animalogy Podcast, which is all about the animal-related words and expressions we use every day. 

[Tweet “Did you know that the word ARCTIC is an animalogy? It comes from the root word for BEAR.”]

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The Fate of a Tragic Figure

Traditionally, a tragedy was characterized by a protagonist whose flaw in character leads to a series of events that cause his downfall, a trope that began with the Greek dramatists, reached an apotheosis in the plays of Shakespeare, and prevails in both our contemporary literary realm as well as in the real world of power and politics. The fate of the tragic figure is predestined because fate is the manifestation of one’s character. Listen to today’s commentary for KQED Radio

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Interested in a longer episode about the word tragedy and the goats in its history? Listen to Tragedy: A Goat’s Lament.