New ‘Mercy for Animals’ exposé

31 03 2015

New MFA videos show people chucking boxes of live chickens to the ground, and birds arriving off the truck frozen to death.

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If all farms and slaughterhouses acted as if they could be caught on camera at any time (since there are no real welfare inspectors and few hard regulations), animal welfare would be so much better in this country.

Cats respond more to species-appropriate music than human music

31 03 2015

It’s official apparently!

(though as ever I’ve not read the paper yet).

Click here (the “home of authentic species-specific music”) for some tunes for cats.

Wheel running redux

31 03 2015

Hanno and I resubmitted our paper on wheel-running to Proceedings last night. First submitted in the summer, it got bounced in September basically for being too snarky (one referee accused us Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 10.11.38 PMof trying to make readers angry; oops, really not the intention).

Our first attempt to write a resubmission, in December, was foiled by me impulsively getting off a train in the outermost suburbs of Zurich (long stupid story).  But weeks later, we finally did it, meeting the deadline by hours.

This time we were way more constructive, showing how behavioural dysfunction should be empirically assessed, all guided by the neuroscience of behavioural control and authorities like the DSM. Intellectually it was rewarding (as was steering us between the issues of definition that we don’t see eye-to-eye on; if I give up the day job I think I’ll become a diplomat), and the paper is way more biologically interesting now. The only challenge was interpreting some of the editor’s comments, which both requested a guide for identifying when a repetitive behaviour is ‘stereotypic’ (done, only interpreting ‘stereotypic’ as pathological), and more on what could be learnt by placing running-wheels in the wild (here we had to discard loads of ideas and say nothing, due to a 1700 word limit). Actually that wasn’t the only challenge; the other was it involved me not leaving the house (or even really getting dressed) for three solid days. When I finally emerged yesterday evening, blinking, I felt like Kasper Hauser.

So, fingers tightly crossed now.

How can I say no?

30 03 2015

Plus I’ve always wanted to be at Philadelphia.

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Paul is happy

30 03 2015

The ‘Happy Cow’ machine, created by German equipment company Kerbl, is shown here installed at the Hof Butenland farm animal sanctuary in Germany. Why does him being called Paul somehow make this extra cute?


Another weird (if nice) citation

30 03 2015

Not quite as surreal as the last one though.

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My secret sideline

29 03 2015

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