Posts Tagged ‘Comedy Central’

Bob Woodruff on boiling humans.

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Journalist Bob Woodruff made an appearance on The Daily Show last night in order to promote his latest project, Earth 2100:
 

 

I find it interesting that Stewart and Woodruff open the discussion with a clip of Earth 2100 that invokes the anecdote of the frog submerged in a pot of boiling water: namely, if you put a frog in a pot of water that’s already boiling, she’ll jump right out, having sensed the heat and danger. But if you place her in a pot of cold or lukewarm water and gradually raise the temperature, she’s none the wiser, and will remain in the deathtrap until she becomes frog soup. In this metaphor, humans are the frogs, and the pot is earth.

Which is all fine and good, except according to Snopes, this is a folk tale:

Like a fable, the “boiled frog” anecdote serves its purpose whether or not it’s based upon something that is literally true. But it is literally true? Not according to Dr. Victor Hutchison, a Research Professor Emeritus from the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Zoology, whose research interests include “the physiological ecology of thermal relations of amphibians and reptiles to include determinations of the factors which influence lethal temperatures, critical thermal maxima and minima, thermal selection, and thermoregulatory behavior”:

“The legend is entirely incorrect! The ‘critical thermal maxima’ of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.”

The “boiled frog” legend is a ubiquitous one – one that, given its falsehood, is both speciesist and completely inappropriate for what I assume is supposed to be a scientific documentary. The latter point is a given, but allow me to explain the former: central to the anecdote’s premise is the idea that a frog is so utterly stupid that, given subtle but entirely discernible cues, “it” would remain oblivious to the increasing danger and allow “itself” to be boiled alive. “Let’s not be like those lesser animals!” the tale cautions. Except. In denying climate change and poo-pooing slight increases in average global temperatures as “insignificant,” the human species is actually exhibiting less sense than Dog gave a frog. The frog isn’t earth’s complacent village idiot – we are.

Also of note: Jon alludes to the presumed vivisection which led to the “discovery” that frogs might allow themselves to be boiled alive, given the right circumstances. Both Stewart and Woodruff appear to think that such gruesome experiments probably took place years ago, in the distant past. Except.

“The legend is entirely incorrect! The ‘critical thermal maxima’ of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.”

While I can’t locate citations for these experiments, Wiki suggests that they’re more recent debunkings of “research” performed in the late 1800s (“research” on which the legend is apparently based).

So, yeah, we boil frogs alive – or attempt to, anyway. And that’s not even the worst of it.

Anyhow, back to Earth 2100.

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The Colbert Bump (Now with Tofurky!)

Monday, May 25th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

At the risk of making this blog a shrine to Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA, allow me to follow up yesterday’s otherworldly thought experiment with yet another clip from The Colbert Report.

Last month, Colbert interviewed Kanishk Tharoor, son of “Friend of the Show” Shashi Tharoor, who was at the time running for an MP spot in India’s General Elections.

Stephen endorsed Tharoor the elder thusly:

Colbert: Now, your dad, Friend of the Show Shashi Tharoor, is running for position as an MP in Kerala, correct? OK, let’s move his numbers right now. I can’t endorse in this country, but I can in India. I hereby endorse Shashi Tharoor. He will put a chicken in every pot. Or – at least – at least – a chicken in every tandoor.

Tharoor: I’m afraid he’s not going to do anything of the sort. He – like me – is a vegetarian. So it’s not very likely that he’s going to do anything like that.

Colbert: Then he’ll put a vegetable korma in…whatever you wish to eat it out of.

At the time, I noted:

What’s so beautiful about this brief exchange is how Tharoor so casually dismantles Colbert’s preconceptions about Indian dietary preferences. Like most Americans, probably, Colbert “naturally” assumes that people the world over do things the American way – or aspire to, anyway – including slaughtering sentient beings by the billions for no reason other than convenience and selfishness. Even though, at +/- 30%, India has “the highest rate of vegetarians for any country worldwide,” Colbert just assumes that Indians want nothing more than plates filled to overflowing with animal corpses. As Tharoor points out, not so much. Colbert normally strikes me as someone who does his research (or has his writers and interns do his research), which makes this particular flub all the more interesting.

A few readers noted that “a chicken in every tandoor” is a play on the political slogan “a chicken in every pot,” a point not lost on me (though I suppose I could have conveyed it better in the post). Even so, I argued, since Stephen was spinning the phrase in order to make it more relevant to Indian culture, he could have spun it further: instead of “a chicken in every tandoor,” “a pound of tofu in every tandoor.” Given India’s high rate of vegetarianism, ‘twould be the odd politician who promises to put animal flesh on the plate of every Indian, methinks.

Anyhow, Stephen offered an update on Thursday’s show; despite steep odds, Shashi Tharoor

defeated his nearest CPI rival P. Ramachandran Nair by a margin of around 100,000 votes when the results were announced on 16 May, 2009.

Tharoor’s victory, of course, being due in no small part to The Colbert Bump.
 

 
During the segment, Stephen replayed his endorsement of Tharoor:

I hereby endorse Shashi Tharoor. He will put a chicken in every pot. Or – at least – at least – a chicken in every tandoor.

which he interrupted thusly:

Of course, since many of his constituents are vegetarian, he could promise a Tofurky in every tandoorky.

I feel like a totally deranged egotist in saying this, but…could that possibly have been directed at me?! Does one of The Colbert Report writers frequent my humble blog?! ZOMG, could it be the Sonic guy?!

Nah, I don’t think so, either. Either way, I love it.

Bonus AR goodness:

[Stephen, on Tharoor’s candidacy:] I was so excited to have a horse in the Indian Parliamentary race. Especially since this one was so much better than my pick for the Preakness, “Headed for Alpo.”

Is it just me, or has there been an uptick in disparaging, anti-horse racing / horse meat jokes on tv as of late?

Videos included in this post

The Colbert Report – Thursday, May 21, 2009 – Naan-Partisan
Stephen calls Shashi Tharoor to congratulate him on getting the Colbert Bump. (04:01)

The “right” to guzzle gas.

Thursday, May 21st, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Tom Coburn is fast becoming my pick for Douchebag of the Week.

See, for example, minute 2:30 of this Daily Show clip:
 

 
Coburn’s complaints re: CAFE standards: “What if you want to drive a gas hog? You don’t have the right any longer in this country to spend your money to drive a gas hog?”

Yes! And should I be struck with the desire to toss a barrel of arsenic in my pond, who is the government to tell me I can’t? It’s MY arsenic and MY pond, goddammit, and my grandfather fought and died in WWII so that AMERICA THE FREE would remain FREE from this sort of BIG GOVERNMENT FASCISM.

What’s better/worse, Coburn defends the “right” of individuals to pollute and consume to excess while also working to strip women of the right to bodily autonomy and privacy. He opposes abortion even in cases of rape and supports the death penalty for medical doctors who perform abortions. (Nor does he care to reduce the need for abortion by increasing the availability of and access to contraception.)

In Tom Coburn’s mind, a person has a greater “right” to decide what car to drive, than a person woman* has to decide whether or not she will lend her body and organs to another being – a potential being, which in its early stages exists as a tiny clump of cells – for nine months.

Car purchase > Bodily integrity

Seriously, what a douche.

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Your moment of Zen.

Sunday, April 19th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Okay, so Stephen Colbert’s interview with Kanishk Tharoor (featured in Thursday’s episode of The Colbert Report) has little to do with animal rights – nevertheless, there’s a delightful bit of awesomeness squeezed in at the end, starting at the 4:18 mark:
 

 

For those who can’t view the video, Colbert interviews Kanishk Tharoor, son of “Friend of the Show” Shashi Tharoor, who’s currently vying for a seat in India’s General Elections.

Colbert: Now, your dad, Friend of the Show Shashi Tharoor, is running for position as an MP in Kerala, correct? OK, let’s move his numbers right now. I can’t endorse in this country, but I can in India. I hereby endorse Shashi Tharoor. He will put a chicken in every pot. Or – at least – at least – a chicken in every tandoor.

Tharoor: I’m afraid he’s not going to do anything of the sort. He – like me – is a vegetarian. So it’s not very likely that he’s going to do anything like that.

Colbert: Then he’ll put a vegetable korma in…whatever you wish to eat it out of.

What’s so beautiful about this brief exchange is how Tharoor so casually dismantles Colbert’s preconceptions about Indian dietary preferences. Like most Americans, probably, Colbert “naturally” assumes that people the world over do things the American way – or aspire to, anyway – including slaughtering sentient beings by the billions for no reason other than convenience and selfishness. Even though, at +/- 30%, India has “the highest rate of vegetarians for any country worldwide,” Colbert just assumes that Indians want nothing more than plates filled to overflowing with animal corpses. As Tharoor points out, not so much. Colbert normally strikes me as someone who does his research (or has his writers and interns do his research), which makes this particular flub all the more interesting.

Or perhaps I’ve just been conditioned to have really low standards vis-à-vis vegetarian/vegan/AR representation in pop culture media?

Videos in this post

Thursday, April 16, 2009 – Indian Elections – Kanishk Tharoor
Kanishk Tharoor describes India’s beautifully choreographed dance of democracy. (05:06)

Update, 6/2/09:

Stephen announces Tharoor’s victory, this time with a vegetarian option.

The horrors of modern fetus farms.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

The (d)evolution of animal agriculture sounds so much more insidious (and comical, natch!) when applied to human vs. non-human animals!

(Cue fetus frenzy at 1:10.)
 

 
If only they could grow in vitro embryos. Oh, wait.

Videos in this post

March 16, 2009 – Stem Sell
John Oliver does his best Bush impression to prove science is undermining America.

Ingrid Newkirk & In Vitro (Sh)meat on The Colbert Report

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Last night’s episode of The Colbert Report included a segment on PETA’s $1 million reward for the successful development and marketing of in vitro meat.
 

 
Though The Colbert Report is usually animal-friendly in its coverage, I was more than a little disappointed by this particular segment. Throughout the report, Stephen appears to be mocking the idea of in vitro meat as both disgusting and infeasible, rather than mocking, say, meat-eaters who might think cultured meat is disgusting and infeasible – when, in reality, the “meat” on their plates is cobbled together from the parts of many previously living animals, crowded together in filthy factory farms and pumped full of antibiotics, then slaughtered, sometimes while fully conscious, by the billions, and that such a system is environmentally destructive and unsustainable. Instead, the ick factor is reserved for the “bloody egg yolk,” without any sort of follow-up “gotcha!” moment aimed at the meat-eating culture Stephen introduces the segment with. Or am I missing something? Thoughts?

On the plus side, the Mr. noticed a “chill” come over the crowd when a slaughterhouse worker was shown “shaving” (for lack of a better word) the top layer of skin (fat?) from a raw, hanging animal corpse. Perhaps Stephen managed to convert a new vegetarian?

Videos in this post

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 – World of Nahlej – Shmeat
PETA funds a scientist developing meat from tissue culture. (05:04)

Mark Bittman, Peter Singer & Jay Keasling on The Colbert Report

Sunday, March 15th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

I’ve been a little lazy in blogging the animal-related segments on The Colbert Report lately – mostly because the guests haven’t much impressed me. But, seeing as Peter Singer appeared on Thursday’s episode, it’s probably time.

First, there was Mark Bittman, a food critic and “vegan” advocate – but only before 6 PM. Yup, you heard me right; Bittman is vegan – for a variety of health, environmental and animal welfare reasons (though methinks non-human animals rank very low on Bittman’s list) – but only up until dinnertime. Then, anything goes.
 

 
That’s like a dude saying that he’s kind and respectful toward women, but only until the nighttime – then he beats and rapes them with glee. (Or rather, he hires a third party to do so, and enjoys the hunt through a vicarious thrill.) Hey, one can only be expected to exert willpower and behave ethically for so long, then something’s gotta give, dontchaknow!

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Paul McCartney & The Chicken Council duke it out on The Colbert Report!

Sunday, February 1st, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

OK, well, not really. Paul McCartney appeared on Wednesday’s episode, the same episode wherein Stephen “broke” the “buffalo wing” shortage crisis story. But Stephen didn’t interview the obligatory white dude from the National Chicken Council until the next night, so he and McCartney never met. I doubt McCartney was even privy to the Superbowl/”buffalo wing” story, since his interview was pre-recorded. Still, catchy title, dontchathink?

Plus, vegetarianism did come up during McCartney’s interview. Check it:
 

 
Now for the “buffalo wing” shortage, which spanned two segments. The Richard Lobb interview is by far the more interesting of the two clips, so if you watch only one video, make it the second one below.
 
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Liam Neeson is a Fooking Wanker

Monday, January 26th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Liam Neeson was on The Daily Show Thursday in order to promote his latest movie, Taken (which – and it pains me to admit this after sitting through his idiocy – doesn’t look half bad). In case you hadn’t heard, Neeson recently penned a letter to the New York City (City?) Council in opposition to recent legislation which would ban the horse carriage “biz” in NYC.*

Host Jon Stewart begins the interview by asking about Neeson’s efforts to “save” New York City’s carriage horses. By “save,” I mean continue to enslave and exploit. It’s tradition, dontchaknow!

Cue the stupid:
 

 
While I’ve enjoyed TDS off and on for years, I’ve always found Stewart’s interview skills to be, shall we say, somewhat lacking. And yet, with only a minimal grasp of the issues – and playing the most amiable Devil’s Advocate ever – Jon p0wns Liam. He offers up the rather commonsense observation that the horses would probably be happier in a more pastoral setting (as opposed to the stables next to his studio), where they’d be able to roam free without worrying about dodging NYC traffic. How about we build a home for the horses in Central Park, where citizens can “enjoy” them in a more natural environment, he suggests? A nice “compromise,” no?

In response, Neeson insists that the horses are treated well, blah blah blah, it would be irresponsible to lay off 400 workers while the economy’s in the toilet, yada yada yada, insert your standard appeals to tradition here, and – here’s the kicker – the horses actually prefer working a 9 to 5 job and spending all their off time confined to tiny little prison cells! They’ve been bred over thousands of years to love the city life! They get holidays off, yo! Hey, those stables are so clean and warm and comfy, I’d even live there, Neeson cries with glee.

Honestly, he comes off as borderline batshit.

Post-interview, Jon works in a nice little stab at Neeson’s expense. It’s not on the Moment of Zen video clip (damn you, Stewart!), but it involves a joke about Monday’s guest, Jimmy Carter, who’ll be coming out in favor of horse meat sandwiches.

Notes

* When it’s you vs. Alec Baldwin, and Alec Baldwin looks like the sane, kind, compassionate party in the dispute…well, that’s not a good sign, brother.

(Clip from the January 22, 2009 show.)

Stephen Colbert gives PETA a tip o’ his hat…

Saturday, January 17th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

…for making the consumption of “land fish” socially acceptable!
 

 
Mmmmm!

In all seriousness, there has got to be, at the very least, a veg*n sympathizer on The Colbert Report writing staff. Stephen is just too well-versed on animal issues. The Sea Kittens campaign, for example, hasn’t received extensive coverage from the mainstream media (not enough T&A), and yet TCR is aware of the campaign – and even understands it. (Good-natured mocking aside.)

To sweeten the deal, Stephen signed off Thursday’s show with a spin on Bob Barker’s “don’t forget to spay and neuter your pets” signature line:
 

 
Video links: January 15, 2009: Tip/Wag – Monkey on the Lam and January 15, 2009: Spay and Neuter Your Pets.