mercoledì, febbraio 02, 2011

Free ballin'

Anyways, to carry on from yesterday's rant: Australia has a well-known problem with invasive species, and for a moment let's forget the dongo question and simply say that this problem includes legions of feral cats and dogs. When you've got few extant large native predators (even the local snakes aren't the kind you'd use as a metaphor for a good man's tackle; the amethystine python, the longest here, can stretch up to almost nine metres but it's not what you'd call girthy), this means you've got two new apex predators and that's serious. Feral cats and dogs are destructive, that's unarguable.

What is shocking and so very fucking Australian about the situation is that this destructive situation has resulted in a number of extreme, expensive, and morally questionable measures - dogless and catless communities or zones, catch-and-kill ranger policies, poisoning, trapping, etc. - but it has not resulted in any meaningful control of the pet breeding and sales industry, or even of a fuckin' subsidized desexing programme.

That's the 1) point - the first thing of the two I meant to list yesterday which has made it less likely we'll stay here. There is a real moral black hole in Australia, which allows what are essentially humanitarian and ethical issues - how do we deal with the impact of having released two new apex predators into the ecosystem? - to be dismissed by tough-sounding, politically appealing methods - we'll kill'em to keep the Aussie bush Aussie - when there is a less tough, cheaper, less bullshitty, way to deal with it that you'd need to do to let the first method be at all effective anyways - subsidize the desexing of companion animals so that the inevitable new rounds of abandonments don't simply fill up the vaccuum left by the catch-and-kill programmes.

You also see this sort of disgusting politicization of a humanitarian issue here very blatantly and disturbingly in all the party posturing over refugee claimants, but I'm angry enough over the strays today, so I won't get into it. Anyways I'm trying to make my peace with this first issue because I understand it's hardly unique to Australia.

Anyways, it seems that this lack of a subsidized desexing programme is due to a quite conscious effort to discourage one on the part of the AVA - see thier own statement about it. The lady at the shelter ascribed this to vets' desires to make sure their income streams and profit margins stay broad and it's hard for me to see that she's wrong. With all the assurance of an insane retard trying to fill in an oasis with gold bricks while he doesn't have enough money to irrigate his nearby farm, they claim with bare-faced cheek, in a country that carries out catch-and-kill programmes, that subsidized desexing programmes are too expensive and haven't worked anywhere they've been tried.

And no doubt they are believed, because of this really, REALLY Australian trait, which is quite unique, and the second thing that is making it less likely for us to live here permanently, and which I'll go on about tomorrow, having ranted all over the place once more today.

martedì, febbraio 01, 2011

Positive Cattitude

We went for an interview at the local animal shelter this morning to see about fostering cats, which we will do, both to help deal with our rat problem and to be responsible citizens and, like Dot in Raising Arizona, so that I got something small enough to cuddle. The lady who worked there was one of the more passionate charity workers I've ever met and after five minutes I realized why: she's British.

Now I make my fun of the Inselaffen, and out of all of the Germanic countries Affen Insel is far and away the most banana-republicky. But one thing I will say for them: they are bloody marvellous with animals. I understand the notoriety attached to fox hunting, which is indeed repellent, but it's important to bear in mind that fox hunters and their advocates represent a tiny minority of the population, most of whose majority doesn't even like foxes much and yet still considers the practice fuckin' barbaric, to the point of having it criminalized.

Australia, however . . . well. There are lots of parallels between Australian culture and Inselaffen culture, probably far far more than your typical Australian would dream of admitting or even imagining, but a touching and laudable concern for animal welfare is not one of them. For me there are two fiscal/legal situations that illustrate this to a degree so disturbing and repellent that I understand I'm now less likely to stay in this country than I was before discovering them.

1). Australia, as is well-known, is rotten with invasive animals, including feral cats and dogs. It is a real ecological problem. My favourite associated ecological problem, though my personal opinion is that it's more of a thing than a problem, are all of the ethical and eugenetic issues swirling around dingos, in a way they don't swirl around canines in Canada.

Briefly, if a dog in the wilds of Canada runs into a wolf or coyote, there is the biological possibility of reproduction, as genetically speaking dogs, coyotes, and wolves are all a single canine species capable of making fertile babies. However, what is much more likely is that the dog will be eaten, and the odds of sexual congress are poor for that reason. And also poor because lady wolves and coyotes in our wintercentric land only hit oestrus seasonally, which cuts down on the scope for lovin' somewhat (though my understanding is that usually these sorts of interbreeds are boy wolves/coyotes/dingos doing it with a bitch - sort of a much more S&Mish version of Lady and the Tramp).

Here in Australia, however, if a feral dog and a dingo meet up, generally the feral dog will get eaten, but there is far more scope than there is with coyotes and wolves for sparks to fly and babies to get made, especially since both dogs and dingos hit oestrus many times over the year. After all dingos, in the final analysis, amount to multi-generational ferals; they were brought to the continent as domestics, and had no one to fuck but each other, that is, other feral domestics.

The issue here, though, is that dingos are a discrete group, with cultural meanings to the aboriginal people, and recognized as fundamentally separate from other feral domestic dogs even though every indication is that they were imported to Australia by aboriginal people as domestic dogs. So there is a broad feeling that when a dingo fucks a domestic dog and they make dongo or whatever babies, this is some sort of pollution of the dingo gene pool going on. This is a particularly Australian problem as in the rare instances where a coyote or a wolf fucks a dog and makes babies with it in Canada, there's little idea of some sort of pollution of the coyote or wolf gene pool, and several dog breeds popular in Canada are very, very wolfy in their provenance; my understanding is that hybridizing wolves and dogs there for commercial purposes is illegal but in those instances where a bitch gets herself fucked instead of eaten by a wolf her babies are in hot demand . . .

Oh, how I've blathered and haven't even yet got beyond the background exposition of the first point, which is actually about subsidizing desexing. More bitching about Australia tomorrow.

lunedì, gennaio 31, 2011

I'm afraid of the television

We're watching Twin Peaks again. Well, I'm watching it again, ten years or so after the fact, and the F-word is watching it for the first time, which is a shame, because last night we got to the episode where Agent Cooper finds out Who Killed Laura Palmer, and I'm fine with not watching anymore, but we must keep going so the F-word feels like he'll understand Fire Walk With Me, which I haven't seen yet and he has. Oh well. I really like Twin Peaks, though I didn't give a rat's ass about it when it was actually on television, and so the second half of the second season really, really disgusts me. It's like poor fan fiction. Everybody just checked out. Like the last two seasons of the Sopranos. The fucking well ran dry, but it's American television so you've gotta keep the fucking oasis open until all the camels are dead. Gah.

It does remind me, though, that I really like David Lynch, and what I really like about him: there's something emotionally honest about his sort of surrealism. I've only seen two or three of his movies but Inland Empire was just the best thing since sliced bread and watching the first season and a half of Twin Peaks reminded me of what I loved so much about it. More than any other filmmaker I can think of, David Lynch manages to communicate what I reckon is really most people's actual surrealistic state of mind - this sort of in-between, 1/10th in the world, 9/10ths completely preoccupied with a more-or-less playful three-way wrestling match between the shadow and persona and animus, each of which pick up bits and pieces of the physical reality surrounding them and/or the collective unconscious to hit each other with, like professional wrestlers with metal chairs.

Most filmmakers and certainly most television writers are so procedural and observational, and that's fine so far as it goes but I don't think it reflects anybody's real relationship with the world. When you get dumped, you don't just sit there crying while mood-appropriate music plays until you feel better; a million things buzz around in your brain around the sort of central emotion of "aw shit", and it is very complex and very different from everyone else's experience of that emotion in the details while being the same in the broad design, and frankly I think it's impossible to communicate or illustrate that while maintaining any sort of 'realism' because our brains are not realistic. Nonetheless, when you watch a normal movie or television show and someone gets dumped, all that happens to communicate the emotion to you is some person sits there crying while mood appropriate music plays until they feel better.

All of which, again, is fine so far as it goes, but considering how much television-type media a Western person watches from cradle-to-the-grave - considering that unless you're off your fucking head, you have to admit that most Western people under 35 have almost certainly learnt as much or more from television than from their parents about how the world is supposed to work - well, it concerns me. It concerns me that that sort of media isn't letting people know that it's okay, probably even good, when your emotions are complex and conflicted; when it isn't letting people know that emotional procedures don't exist, and that words like 'joy', 'grief', 'guilt', 'pride', 'love' and 'hate' aren't ends in themselves or self-contained or tidy, but just very simplistic shorthand for very rich and confusing experiences.

I guess I have two real fears about this: first, that we're raising generations of perfectly normal people who are going to confuse the complex emotions that they're feeling with some sort of mental illness, and second, that eventually perfectly normal people will simply stop experiencing emotions in such a complex way. The second is probably very unlikely but it's my greatest fear that doesn't involve having my fingernails ripped off and points upward on the physical discomfort scale for me and mine. The first is probably currently rolling out in a household near you.