Tag Archives: human

Clerking Cody

Cody, a brown Labrador retriever “worked” at the Clearwater gas station convenience store in Florida. He wore a clerk shirt and had a nametag; he looked just like the other clerks working in the store. Customers often came to the store to visit Cody, who had become famous and widely loved. However, two days ago, a health inspector said that Cody had to leave because he could contaminate the food the store sold, even though all foods were of the packaged type. It’s true that the dog is touching the counters where foods are placed during checkout, but there are ways for the owner to keep the place sanitized. For example, surfaces could be sanitized more often. But more importantly, many people have dogs at home all day, yet sanitation issues are not even taken as seriously. I don’t have a dog at home, but don’t they also touch places where we put food? Dogs touch us too, but we aren’t worried about getting sick. Why is it that a not-at-home dog is seen as a threat to the cleanliness of food? The owner came to a conclusion that it could have been Cody’s fame that caused the inspector’s surprise visit. Someone up top, as mentioned in the article, probably called for the inspection after watching the news. Is it right for animals to work in jobs that humans do (Cody did indeed “work” because he attracted a lot of customers to the store)? Perhaps someone saw Cody as a threat to human superiority or a symbol of the undermining of human jobs.

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Cats that aren’t just Cats

One dreaded SAT test that I took had a passage about how cats are different than dogs. I’m not sure exactly what it said, but based on my life, it should have been about cats and humans.

Take my cat for example. He sits on our chairs at the dinner table, tries to eat off the table and loves people food much more than he loves people food. I find that weird. He should eat that processed junk that all other cats has to eat, and he’s not gonna say please and thank you and eat with a knife and fork, he should not get to eat at the table. But he tries, again and again.

Then there is my aunt and uncles cat. He was too fat so they put him on a diet. He has specific meal times, with a specific amount of food that he gets. But once you go fat you can never truly go back, so he always begs for a handout. But he is not aggressive like my cat. This cat keeps all four on the floor as if to say, I’m hungry but I’m going to stay within the realm of cathood. But then again, this is coming from a cat who is not allowed to go outside (he has kitty AIDS and is therefore a menace to cat society) and has mealtimes.

On the other side of my family, another set of aunt and uncles have two cats. This is a house that I have lived in for a week at a time, and still have only seen the cats when their food bowl is empty of when I pursue them. Like my cat, they have a bowl of food that is continually filled and can be nibbled at when they please. But these cats don’t go for anything further. Do they just love the cat food? Hate the people food. Or are cats supposed to realize their place, and my cat is just wack? I would like to say it comes back down to nature vs. nurture, but we’ve had other cats that don’t act like this and my aunt and uncle’s (the unseen cats) have had a fairly similar upbringing.

I think, that it is therefore inevitable that all cats will eventually be like mine. He was named ‘Big’ for his size, but now I find it more reflective of his dreams. To start the long journey towards human traditions. After all, isn’t that what domestication is all about? Now they are just doing it for us?

 

 

I’m not sure we give cats enough credit as a species.

Survival: Take One

Working defiation of survival: to hit the curveballs that life throws at you, ideally knocking them out of the park

Outside magazine is the place to go if you want to learn how to survive. Of course, in this modern day of age you don’t pick up the actual magazine, you go to the website: a unrestricted mass of information.

While perusing the home page of the survival section, a couple of interesting things caught my eye right away. The first thing I saw was “Ask the survival guru.” I liked this for two reasons; that there was in fact a survival guru; and that you could ask him whatever survival question you may have.

What do you do when your stuck in nature with nothing but an iPhone? Ask the Survival Guru.

Second was a section called “survival skills 101.” These are the basics of surviving, an introduction if I may and I was quite interested in some of the things I saw. I was not surprised to see building and starting a fire, nor was I surprised by a section on packing essentials. But one thing caught my eye: Paiute Deadfall Traps. It could be the foreign word, or possibly the word ‘dead,’ but I was nonetheless intrigued. The link lead to me a video of Tony Nester of Ancient Pathways (The Survival Guru himself). Not only did I learn how to make a deadfall trap with which you can kill small prey to eat; I was introduced to a very interesting argument about survival. In the words of Nester

“If you want to live off the land, look at the archaelogical record of your area. Why reinvent the wheel? Ancients peoples are the blueprint of survival for that region.”

I found this to strike a harmonious chord throughout my brain. Survival is a human instinct, as a species we’ve been doing it since the day our cells evolved into something living; and as individuals since the day we were born. It’s funny to think how reliant we are on modern things to survive, when it was done for thousands of years with out any of that. I think we can do it if we try.

The (Sim)bolism in Games

Let’s do something different. I am in the gaming mood right now, but trust me, I wasn’t playing video games over the entire weekend. Remember the simulation game made by Electronic Arts called Simcity? Well I noticed that there are some ideas related with nature in this game. Create new profile: Miles. Start city. Before you begin building your city, you are in the stage called “God Mode”. In this stage, you can manipulate nature into almost anything you want. Perhaps a mountain here would be nice. Maybe a lake would enhance my city-under-construction. Let’s add some trees to create a jungle. How about some llamas? I don’t know about you, but I find this game naturally addicting. For some reason, I find pleasure in making nature into anything I wish. I find pleasure in summoning UFOs or tornadoes to attack the city. Why? I do not know. It’s not like I’m a bad person who enjoys the sight of pain. I think it’s just this inherent human characteristic. We all want power over nature. It’s built into our minds and hardwired in. That is how EA can make so much money from its games. They appeal to natural human desires. Now this is what I consider an effective corporate marketing strategy.

You can’t talk about Simcity without talking about its counterpart, the Sims. I have recently spent some time playing Sims 3, in which you get to create and control your Sim’s life and fate. Again, you play the god figure. First you construct the physical features of your Sim. Next you can select from a plethora of personalities and traits to create your ideal (or non-ideal) Sim. You control his or her lifespan, every action, and basically everything. This successful game is quite popular and widely acclaimed. Why do we find so much pleasure in controlling the lives of other “humans”? Does this game serve as a means of venting or living vicariously? Maybe we want the feeling of power, not just over nature, but also over other humans, which makes us consider whether the major battle is always between nature and humanity.

The Dog Girl

After doing some research on feral children (many of which were hoaxes or sitings that were undocumented), I found a story of a girl who was raised by dogs. Her name is Oxana Malaya, otherwise known as Dog Girl, and as a three-year-old, she was left to live outside by her alcoholic parents. She found shelter with a pack of wild dogs and lived with them on a rundown farm in a village in Ukraine. And over the next 5 years Oxana developed mannerisms of a dog, and lost all human social interaction. When she was found at the age of 8 in 1992, she could hardly speak, and “humans were no longer her species: all meaningful life was contained in a kennel”.

This raises the question: What really makes us human? Some say it’s language and our social interactions. According to this video, Oxana was born healthy and without any abnormities. But the now adult Oxana rather take walks “by herself in the woods” when she’s upset. The lack of human interactions had wired the sense of independence into Oxana, but is that powerful enough to override the desire to interact with others, which is a quality that supposedly defines humans? There have been many accounts of people who can’t contain bottled up emotions, but is that still the case when a person is brought up with no one to turn to? It is really hard to clearly say which qualities we have are in our genes, and which are results of the society we created.

Oxana’s case also shows that humans are very flexible in adapting to their surroundings in order to survive. She had developed very acute senses of sight, taste, and smell, and can eat raw meat and food scraps lying around without getting sick. Another feral child named Memmie Le Blanc, found in France in the 1700’s, was able to outrun rabbits and skin them with her hands. This shows that humans are not helpless in the wild; it’s just that society has so much for us to depend on that nature seems harsh in contrast. Nature has everything we need to survive: food, water, shelter. But because we grow up in an environment filled with technology, we lose the ability to acquire those things ourselves. Although human babies need much more nurturing than any other kind of animal, once we get past that threshold, we are not innately different from wild animals on terms of survival skills.