How unique are human beings?
If you are looking for characteristics that distinguish human beings from other animals, you can cross “dances to music” off the list. Recent research suggests that talking animals may have a connection between sound and movement that grounds dancing in rhythmn. And quite a bit of research of videos on youtube indicates that the talking birds may share this capacity. Below are two videos of the amazing Snowbird, a sulphur crested cockatoo. The first is short and vivid; I suppose it may be enhanced, since it’s a commercial. The second is long and more of home video, where the home is a bird sanctuary.
When he appears on stage, Snowbird tends to get distracted, so his handler/companion, Irena Shultz, dances with him, as in the following. He is apparently is quite a complex character, and this is indicated at the end:
A passionate article in favour:
The women who were killed in Bradford — Suzanne Blamires, 36, Susan Rushworth, 43, and Shelley Armitage, 31 — all worked as streetwalkers…They sold sex at bargain-basement prices because they had heroin habits and a heroin habit isn’t something you’d wish on your worst enemy….In Bradford last week Stephen Griffiths, 40, was charged with the murder of three….
We’re all glued to the news now that they’re dead and he’s been charged, but what I really don’t understand — what absolutely baffles me, and always has done — is why there has never been a national outcry about these women’s working conditions. Given that prostitution exists, has always existed and will continue to exist for all eternity — and yes, it would be nice if it didn’t and if all the prostitutes could be rescued and persuaded to go to Narcotics Anonymous and retrained as something impressive, but let’s not hold our breath — why is it not seen as imperative to ensure that at least they carry out their work in a safe environment? …It is simply not okay, in an otherwise civilised society, to leave these women to their fate. Murders are seldom sadder than when they are preventable. Blamires, Rushworth and Armitage might be alive today if they had worked in a big, clean, state-sanctioned brothel, with two giant bouncers on the door, panic buttons in the rooms and an in-house programme that weaned women off the class As.
but not by the likes of us. No, it’s Sarah Palin and Co. And there are interesting issues, both political and philosophical here. In order to convincingly deny that Sarah Palin’s a feminist, one might suppose we need a clear definition of what ‘feminist’ means, or at least some agreed-upon necessary condition that she doesn’t meet. Does our lack of such things show that we should call Palin a feminist? Kate Harding suggests not:
So, can’t I just agree to disagree with Sarah Palin – or at least to ignore her use of the term and continue to go about my business? Well, evidently not, or I wouldn’t be writing this. The problem is, words mean things. I could start calling myself a red meat conservative, or campaign for those of us who are against the death penalty to “reclaim” the term “pro-life,” but at some point, the relationship between your beliefs and your choice of words either passes the sniff test or it doesn’t. And someone who actively seeks to restrict women’s freedom calling herself a feminist is, not to put too fine a point on it, a liar. There’s a difference between a big tent and no boundaries whatsoever; if Palin’s “entitled to be accepted” as a feminist just because she says she’s one, then the word is completely meaningless — as opposed to merely vague and controversial. And I might just start calling myself a “right-winger” because I’m right-handed, or a “fundamentalist” because I believe everyone deserves a solid primary education, or a “birther” because I once hosted a baby shower.
But Harding also makes some important points on the opposite side:
So why is the idea of “Sarah Palin, feminist,” any worse than the umpteen bona fide prominent feminists who have promoted racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism and the ongoing dominance of only a certain type of women’s voices over the years? Arguably, it’s not. Arguably, it’s the logical endpoint of a movement long shaped by women who are but one –ism away from the top of the heap in the first place, and perhaps more interested in taking that one step up than in ending oppression all the way down. If the feminist movement primarily serves women who are already tantalizingly close to full kyriarchal approval, we probably shouldn’t be surprised when a group of women who are even closer – basically just like the old feminists, except they don’t expect the government to help anyone and aren’t fussed about bodily autonomy! – decide they’re yet more qualified to run it.
And if you find that thought as horrifying as I do, a good, long look in the mirror is probably in order.
What do you think?
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