Animal welfare

Are animals the ghosts in our machine?

Marc Bekoff, emeritus professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, provides this thought-provoking discussion about the film Ghosts in our machine, which documents the lives, suffering, and death of individual named animals. Bekoff posits:

Nonhuman animal beings are not mere ghosts, and society can’t continue to build on the backs of these individuals. They are real beings and they are sentient and they care deeply about what happens to them and to their family, their friends and their homes. To claim we still don’t know if other animals are conscious beings is to ignore an incredible amount of detailed scientific data and is thoroughly irresponsible…. The reprehensible and unnecessary torment to which we subject billions upon billions of fascinating animals as we conveniently distance ourselves from them is utterly shameful and not at all flattering to who we humans are.”

I very much doubt I can express my views towards animals better than Bekoff has above.


In higher education social media is your job

In his post about the importance of adopting social media in higher education, Jim Nolan says “I’m here to announce that in the world of higher education, we are no longer awarding cute points or righteousness points to naysayers of social media. Those presentations are uninformed, and to be honest, they just annoy the hell out of me.” While Prof. Nolan makes the odd sweeping statement, perhaps, I think there’s a kernel of truth to what he says. I’m not a fan of what I call “professional luddism,” particularly in higher education, where we should be open to change, possibilities, and opportunities.


The top 100 tools for learning, 2013

Summary from Analysis 2013:

  • Twitter retains its no 1 position for the 5th year running
  • Google Drive/Docs moves up to #2.
  • PowerPoint moves up to #5.
  • Evernote moves into the top 10 at #6.
  • Google + and Hangouts moves into the top 10 at #10.
  • There are 10 new tools on the list topped by Feedly (an RSS reader/aggregator) at #19 and Coursera (a MOOC platform) at #38, and 3 returning tools to the list, including Storify at #58.
  • The highest movers within the list are Skydrive (Windows file storage area) at #43 up 55 places since last year, and Keynote and iMovie up 40 and 32 places respectively (showing the increase in popularity of Apple software).
  • A significant descent down the list for some tools including Google Sites (down 60 places) and Wikispaces (down 50 places).
  • Tools moving off the list include Google Reader (now retired by Google), Bing and Scribd.
  • Although the list is still dominated by free online social tools, a number of e-learning authoring tools have had a good showing this year.
  • As for trends over the last 5 years, it is interesting to note that Firefox (#1 in 2007) is now at #97 on the list, and Delicious (#1 in 2008) is now at #60.  What will topple Twitter from the top of the list?
Animal welfare

The barbarity of declawing

This article discusses veterinarian Jennifer Conrad’s fight against the declawing of exotic and domestic animals. “The surgical procedure, known as an onychectomy, involves amputation of the final segment of toe bone as well as the attached claw and can have numerous long-term complications, including chronic pain, bleeding, lameness, arthritis, aggressiveness and nail regrowth”. There is no excuse for this barbaric mutilation of animals.  Responsible cat guardians can provide scratching posts or mats for cats, apply vinyl claw caps on the cats’ paws, and allow for regular professional nail trimming. No amount of furniture or curtains can justify this cruel practice. Declawing is banned in:

  • Europe
  • Brazil
  • California

Canada, unfortunately, is behind; I don’t believe that declawing is illegal in any province or territory.