Comment on Rats as Humanity’s Twin by Camilla

It’s interesting (as you pointed out) that rats exploit humans (nearly completely–this is not a mutualistic relationship) in the “wild.” However, when we use rats as research animals, we are exploiting them almost completely–they get very little benefit (except, perhaps, the propagation of their species. However, I question whether that can even be counted as a benefit for them, because they have been genetically modified so extensively by selection and, in some cases, genetic technologies). Does a mutualistic relationship between humans and rodents ever exist? I’m not sure.

Also, yes, rats are indeed very clean. I had pet rats when I was a kid and have read stuff about wild rats. They groom themselves like cats!

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Comment on Rats and Mice: Scientific Heroes by Camilla

Ah, you bring up many interesting ideas about using animals in research. Shapiro’s main argument against use of animals in research was related to use of animals in psychological research (I think. That was how I read it, anyway). I agree with him on that–we are not rats and our brains function in a fairly different way than theirs do. His example from the bulimia study was especially compelling–how can you study bulimia without studying the complex social and cultural causes of bulimia?

However, in general, I agree with you. Most of us are alive thanks to modern medicine (I know I am!) and modern medicine is thanks to animal research. I particularly like your comment about how we exterminate rats from our homes and then condemn animal research. There are so many contradictions in how we treat animals: we object to animal shelters that kill unwanted animals while we eat meat (which is dead animals). We treat some horses better than most humans are treated while other are sent to slaughter in other countries. I’m not condemning any practice, I just think the contradictions are interesting.

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Comment on Darwin: A Forward Dude by Camilla

I would argue that in one way, organisms in nature have had much MORE breadth of change than have domesticates. Obviously, within a species, we have created huge amounts of variability (for example, the variability we have created in the dog). However, in nature, we got (somehow) from the first single-cell organisms emerging from the primordial soup to US! Natural selection and random mutation have worked pretty well.

However, the speed with which evolution happens when a selection pressure is applied is very interesting (think fast-growing chickens and antibiotic-resistant bacteria). I wish any of us lived long enough to attempt a selection project aimed at turning a fish into a horse.

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Comment on Creating Global Consciousness by Camilla

We study genetics and biology because we wish to understand why we work the way we work. There is value to knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Perhaps it is this, over all else, that sets us apart from other animals. We want to understand how things work.

We are the products of many complicated processes, both internal and external. I do not buy the deterministic view that everything we do is done because our genes “told” us to do it. However, everything we do, every choice we make is directed, at some level, by our genes, because without our genes, we wouldn’t be ourselves. I think that there is great value to understanding that.

So, I took one simple idea at the end of your (very interesting) post and expanded upon it a lot. Hope that isn’t too long a rant!

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Comment on The Horse by Camilla

I respectfully disagree with your postulation that domestication has a negative impact on a species. You need only look at modern horses to see that they aren’t struggling with bad genetic material. Their legs are straighter and stronger than those of their wild cousins, the przwalski’s horse and the zebra. Some individuals can run up to about 40 mph or jump up to 8 feet. If horses were limited by a founding stallion with “bad” genetics, these things wouldn’t be possible. The founding stallion may have been weak, but he may just have had a passive temperament. I think that the latter is likelier. Passivity is often selected against in the wild–he could have been an outcast.

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Comment on A Little Something Extra by Camilla

I like your painting a lot. I’m sorry that it was received so badly by critics.

Now, to be more serious: Do you think that Kessler was moved emotionally by cheese because he knew what went into it? I would argue that food can be art only if it invokes emotions in people other than the creator. Truly, the most interesting thing about art, to me, is the fact that people can get meaning out of a work of art that the creator may have never intended. A work of art becomes something that is independent of the creator. However, I still agree with you and think that, even including these parameters, food can still be art.

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Comment on Goats: The History of Everything by Camilla

Initially, I did not like Goat Song at all–I don’t know if you read my blog post, but I ranted for ~800 words about all of the aspects I didn’t like. However, I’ve really enjoyed reading all of these blog posts (yours and Alex’s, specifically, but also Ben’s and Erica’s), because they have really indicated to me how Kessler wrote in a way that is very accessible to post-domestic society. You guys saw (in a way that I was unable to) that Kessler was telling a story that everybody can relate to–not just other farmers.

I do not necessarily think that this is the best way to tell the world about farming and about domestic society (this is detailed in my blog post), but I am definitely looking forward to our discussion of Goat Song and the different opinions we all seem to have about it.

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Comment on Goats: The History of Everything by Camilla

Initially, I did not like Goat Song at all–I don’t know if you read my blog post, but I ranted for ~800 words about all of the aspects I didn’t like. However, I’ve really enjoyed reading all of these blog posts (yours and Alex’s, specifically, but also Ben’s and Erica’s), because they have really indicated to me how Kessler wrote in a way that is very accessible to post-domestic society. You guys saw (in a way that I was unable to) that Kessler was telling a story that everybody can relate to–not just other farmers.

I do not necessarily think that this is the best way to tell the world about farming and about domestic society (this is detailed in my blog post), but I am definitely looking forward to our discussion of Goat Song and the different opinions we all seem to have about it.

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Comment on Real Food: goat milk and cheese by Camilla

Wow! You’ve come up with some interesting questions, Erica.

However, based on my knowledge of dairy, it isn’t the farming conditions that make pasteurization necessary, but the travel times for milk that isn’t produced locally. I would drink raw milk produced on my own farm (and did, all summer two years ago!), but do not think that it would EVER be safe to allow production and sale of raw milk to be widespread.

I am certain that raw milk has many health benefits. I also think that dairy farming conditions in the US leave lots to be desired. However, I think that pinning the blame for the need (and it really is a need) for pasteurization in this country on farming conditions or feed type isn’t really fair or accurate.

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Comment on A Paleo Lifestyle – Relatively Useful by Camilla

Interesting post. I think that your points and Zuk’s go hand-in-hand more than you perhaps think that they do. Your point, unless I am completely mistaken, is that the paleodiet works for some people with some goals. Zuk’s final point was that one should do what works best for one’s own lifestyle. Paleodiet obviously works well for some people, but not for everyone.

You say that highly processed grains are bad for us. However, they aren’t bad for us because our bodies cannot process them (have not evolved to process them). they are bad for us because our bodies can process them too well. We derive too much energy and fat from refined grains. It is when we eat these in excess that we see problems.

Overall, I think you did a lovely job defending the paleodiet.

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