Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Notes On Various Topics

File:Animal diversity October 2007.jpg

Here are some notes about life and about the world—

*I’m very glad Governor Mark Sanford got busted and I hope his career is ruined. Governor Sanford was as a far to the right as you see in elected office and cared more about his right-wing ideology than he did about the people of South Carolina. He refused stimulus founds that would have helped people in South Carolina deal with these hard times.

* I don’t enjoy going to the grocery store as much as I once did. I was for some years friends with a bagger named Johnny Castille at my grocery store. Johnny died in 2007. Johnny was a black man and an active Democrat who would have been so glad to have seen Mr. Obama elected.

* I’m listening to a best of the Cure CD as I write this blog post.

* If you don’t often visit my blog, I most often include many links with my posts. But today, like yesterday, I’m a bit rushed. It can be hard to find the time to do this each day. I will though add a picture to this post. Maybe a picture of an animal of some kind. (Look above–I found a winner.)

* If you are thinking of starting a blog, be sure to include pictures and facts about animals. You can’t go wrong with animals. You could include with the animal posts, facts about the politics of the nations where the animals live. Or facts about environmental threats faced in the world. 

Or you could just write about animals.

* Be kind to the people you meet in life not just because you are courteous as a matter of habit, but because you see kindness as part of what being alive in the world is about.

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Video Of Ankole Cattle Chomping Food And Mooing—Heifer International Link

Above you see a video of an Ankole cattle. The video lasts about 25 seconds.  In the video the beast chomps on some trees and at the end makes a mooing noise.

This video was taken at the Houston Zoo. The Houston Zoo is getting better, but still has a way to go to being good enough for a city the size of Houston. When I moved to Houston 11 years ago and saw that the zoo had no admission charge, I figured that could only be bad news for the animals. The adult admission is now $10. I know that’s a lot of money, but I’m not convinced the fee is yet high enough for the good of the animals.

The zoo asserts the animals are well taken care of in captivity.

Here is information about the Ankole cattle from a breeds of livestock web page of Oklahoma State University—

The Ankole cattle are distributed from Lake Mobutu to Lake Tanganyika in eastern Africa. The original animals were thought to have been brought to northern Uganda by Hamitic tribes sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries. The Ankole’s susceptiblity to the tsetse fly forced the tribes and their cattle further south. The Hima or Bahima tribe settled on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzani. The Watusi or Tutsi tribe continued to Rwanda and Burundi withtheircattle, some of which have spread to the lake districts of Zaire. Selection in all the tribes is based on horn size. The purer Ankolecattlehave a medium-long head, a short neck with a deep dewlap and a narrow chest. …Although the small-uddered Ankole cows yield meager amounts of milk, milking is an important ritual in some tribes. Bloodletting is a common practice. A few tribes use the cattle for work, none use them for meat. In general the animals are highly prized as status symbols, for ceremonial functions and not for their productivity.

( The OSU site has very comprehensive information on breeds of cattle, pigs, sheep, horses and goats. It is well worth study.)

It’s good to know people in Africa are as dumb-assed as we are here. Keeping these big beasts as a status symbol–Don’t they have better things to do with their resources? Like the $40 I spent at the Astros’ baseball game a few nights  ago including a $7.50 beer and a $4 ice cream item.

Here is the link to Heifer International. If you donate some money to these folks, they’ll buy a useful farm animal for somebody in the world. Do you know why you and I live in a rich nation while some other person lives in a poor place? Dumb luck–That’s why.

A NY Times article from last year says the Ankole is under long-term threat. The article says that they are being cross-bred with Holsteinsin Africa because the Holsteins are of greater use. The excerpt below says that the Ankole have been bred to survive in a harsh African environment and this is why they may not be so useful.

From the article—

“…Indigenous animals like East Africa’s sinewy Ankole, the product of centuries of selection for traits adapted to harsh conditions, are struggling to compete with foreign imports bred for maximal production. This worries some scientists. The world’s food supply is increasingly dependent on a small and narrowing list of highly engineered breeds: the Holstein, the Large White pig and the Rhode Island Red and Leghorn chickens. There’s a risk that future diseases could ravage these homogeneous animal populations. Poor countries, which possess much of the world’s vanishing biodiversity, may also be discarding breeds that possess undiscovered genetic advantages. But farmers like Mugira say they can’t afford to wait for science. And so, on the African savanna, a competition for survival is underway.”

I guess necessity makes people forget about ornamental and status items all over the world.

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Houston | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

California Gay Marriage Ban A Reminder You Can Never Fully Trust The Culture

The vote in California to ban gay marriage is a timely reminder that even on a day when things seem to have gone well, you can’t trust the culture of our nation. This is true even in a center of liberalism such as California. 

California is a solidly Democratic state. Yet the people of California have banned gay marriage. With 95% of all votes recorded, Senator Obama had won 61% of the California vote. At the same time, 52% of the California public voted to prohibit gay marriage.

I don’t have many expectations of the 37% in California that voted for Mr. McCain, though I’ll bet that at least 10% of them voted to allow gay marriage, but what is wrong with the Obama supporters who favored the ban?

Bigotry and prejudice–That’s what is wrong with them. It seems that at least 15% of the electorate in California are people who voted for Mr. Obama and then voted to deny gay people the right to have the relationships they want in this brief and brutal life.

A proposal to give farm animals more space in their pens passed with 61%. That’s fine. I might have voted for it myself. But why can’t we care for people we have to live with in life as much as we do for animals we are going to eat?

Even on this happy day, keep a distance from what is around you. Don’t lulled into feeling that all is better. Remember that even people on your side of the aisle can stick a knife in your back. Embrace your friends and be happy for all that has been gained, but don’t forget the full picture.

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Humans Not As Unique As They Figure

A recent article in New Scientist magazine says human beings are not as unique as they imagine.

Above is a photo of sheep living in Austria. Here is a story about the minds of sheep. 

The article says animals have newly discovered and surprising abilities in ways people once thought as specific to humans.

For example, killer whales have been found to have distinct ways of communicating and hunting depending on if they live in a stable pod or are more transient. This speaks to culture among non-human species.

Some chimps use tools. Many people have seen the pictures of chimps using sticks to fish termites out of the termite mound. This is an example of tool use by animals.

Elephants grieve for dead herd members. Many animals have been noted for apparently emotional reactions. Humans are not the only species that experience emotion. 

Beyond culture, tool use and emotion, some animals may possess distinctive personalities, morality, and the ability to understand the mind and intent of another.

Humans are clearly unique. 

We are just not as special as we figure.

Who is as special as they figure?

Here is a BBC article on the subject of the minds of animals.

Below are lyrics from the Talking Heads song Animals.

They say they don’t need money
They’re living on nuts and berries
They say animals don’t worry
You know animals are hairy?
They think they know what’s best
They’re making a fool of us
They ought to be more careful
They’re setting a bad example
They have untroubled lives
They think everything’s nice
They like to laugh at people
They’re setting a bad example

June 16, 2008 Posted by | Music, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment