Research reveals new insights into animal intelligence

This article suggests that each time a claim of human uniqueness bites the dust, other claims quickly take its place. Meanwhile, science keeps chipping away at the wall that separates us from the other animals. We have moved from viewing animals as instinct-driven stimulus-response machines to seeing them as sophisticated decision makers. The author discusses the growing body of research that indicates that species of animals operate beyond instinct, and demonstrate decision-making and cognitive skills. There have been so many attempts to justify the abuse and mistreatment of animals under the banner of speciesism. This article points out the flaws and limitations of many studies that have attempted to analyse, minimise, or even dismiss, the notion that animals possess intelligence.  For those of us fortunate enough to live with animals, I think that we have plenty of empirical evidence of our own to demonstrate that our animal companions are not just instinct-driven automatons.  The author suggests that these new findings are no insult to human superiority. It is long-overdue recognition that intelligent life is not something for us to seek in the outer reaches of space but is abundant right here on earth, under our noses.  Maybe Douglas Adams was right about those rats.

Polenta medley

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Ingredients

  • Fresh asparagus
  • Edamame beans
  • Fresh green beans
  • Peaches and cream corn
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Marinated artichoke hearts
  • Capers
  • Diced leek
  • Marinara sauce
  • Diced polenta

Preparation

  • Toss the asparagus in olive oil and roast in a 400F oven.
  • Steam the green beans.
  • Steam the edamame beans and corn.  I used frozen varieties for both.  In the summer, I would use fresh corn.
  • Saute the diced leek and shredded cabbage.  One the vegetables are softened, add the diced polenta.  I often make my own polenta, but in this case I used the store-bought variety that comes in a roll.  You need a firm polenta for this recipe.
  • Add the steamed vegetables, marinara sauce, artichoke, and capers.  Season to taste.  My marinara sauce is home-made and contains a fair amount of full-bodied red wine. Saute until the sauce is fully heated.
  • Remove from heat, and add the roasted asparagus.

A beautiful tribute to a feline companion

In this post, author Tom Cox discusses his special relationship with his cat The Bear; it’s a wonderful reflection on the deep bond that the two share.  Cats tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to perceptions of the bond they share with animals.  Having lived with cats since the day I was born, I can attest to the fact that every cat with whom I’ve been fortunate enough to share my life has been loving, sociable, affectionate, and not in the least bit aloof.  My current companion was adopted when he was four years old; as it turns out he’s a pure-breed Maine Coon.  Alun has the most wonderful, gentle, and loving personality I’ve ever encountered in a cat.  Reading about The Bear made me think of Alun who also never cries for his food: He simply sits by his bowl and looks at it until I fill it.  Alun also announces when he’s about to use the litter box; doubtless so that I can clean it when he’s finished.  I know I’m being manipulated, in the gentlest of ways, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Alun

Nova Scotia government commits to the protection of animals

The Nova Scotia government announced today that it intends to bring in legislation this spring to better protect animals and stiffen penalties for animal abusers.

“The protection of animals deserves to be treated with the utmost seriousness. It’s unthinkable what some people are capable of doing to animals. Government has a responsibility to do whatever it can to ensure people who abuse animals face consequences,” said Mat Whynott, MLA for Hammonds Plains – Upper Sackville

This is indeed welcome news and I applaud the government for its commitment to animal welfare.

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Glasgow nominated best UK city for vegans

Glasgow might not be the obvious choice when one thinks of friendly vegan cities, but when I visited there two years ago, I had a very positive experience. I found lots of vegan options at restaurants; my B&B had vegan breakfast sausages and made me tofu scramble, and I ate vegan haggis.  Now admittedly, the haggis wasn’t my cup of tea, but I still appreciated the gesture.  Many of the local grocers had prepared vegan foods, so I never went hungry. All the vegan options were clearly labelled, which is a good thing, as Glaswegian is a language unto itself. I can well understand why the city has received this nomination.