Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Thanks again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Let’s go with a lighter (or at least, grayer) note today:  Yes, You Get Wiser With Age.  Excerpt:

There are three domains of aging: Physical, cognitive, and psycho-social. Most people think about aging as physical aging, and that’s why there is a negative perception about aging and a bias against aging. In terms of cognition, again, there is something similar. Starting after middle age, say around 60 or so, memory and other abilities decline. However, psychosocial aging is really important, and that is usually not studied and that is not included in the concept of aging. 

So what is psychosocial aging? It includes things like well-being, happiness, quality of life, control of emotions, socialization. Those are the kinds of things that matter a lot to people, and they need to be included. Successful aging mainly refers to better well-being, greater happiness, and not just arriving at old age, but thriving and even flourishing.

Not surprisingly, I have some thoughts on these three domains of aging.

First, the physical:  Nothing can (yet) be done about this.  But I’m in favor of doing so gracefully.  There’s nothing wrong with acting your age, and there is something mildly silly about a middle-aged person trying to dress and act like a teenager.  I wonder if it’s because the popular culture of our time, at least here in the States, glamorizes youth?  That may well be; us gray-haired old farts don’t automatically get the overt displays of respect we do in, say, Japan.  Personally, though, I’m rather proud of my gray hairs.  I earned every damn one of ’em.

Second, the cognitive:  I had something for this, but I can’t seem to remember what it was.  (Go on, tell me you didn’t see that one coming.)

Third:  The psychosocial.  I admit to not really having thought of this as a separate realm of aging, but there’s some logic to it.  There’s a reason they call them the golden years, after all.  Granted they aren’t golden for everyone, but youth isn’t a basket of roses for everyone, either.

Mine are shaping up to be pretty damn good, though.  I’ve achieved a certain level of financial success; Mrs. Animal and I are in good health, we have a wonderful marriage, our kids and grandkids are thriving.  We have big plans for semi-retirement and, at the moment, the future looks pretty damn good.

Aging is something that comes to all of us, whether we would or no.  But while it would be nice to have the brain I have now in the body I had at twenty (and the energy I had at three) that’s not an option.

So of these three aspects of aging, there’s only one that we can control.  Fortunately that’s the one that can yield the best bits of those golden years.

As Robert Browning said: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.”

Rule Five Windy Day Friday

One of my favorite quotes comes from a personal hero, nature writer Hal Borland:

There are no limits to either time or distance, except as Man himself may make them. I have but to touch the wind to know these things.”

The wind is, of course, a purely physical phenomenon, the movement of atmosphere from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. The sun’s heat drives the wind. So does heat moving in ocean currents and the Coriolis Effect. A myriad of local and global influences move the wind and shape it. In our history, we have harnessed the wind to grind grain, to pump water, to move ships, to generate electricity. Plants use it to spread pollen and seeds, birds use it to soar in the sky, mammals seek or avoid it to improve their own comfort in their environment.

That is not what Hal Borland had in mind. In fact, I think I have a good handle on what Mr. Borland meant when he encouraged us to touch the wind.

I once spent part of a morning out on the end of a long fishing pier at Ventura, California, looking over the Pacific Ocean towards Santa Cruz Island and using my big twenty-power binoculars to look for whales. I did not see any whales, although I enjoyed seeing sea ducks, grebes, and watching pelicans diving for fish. The constant that morning was the wind, blowing in from the west. It was not a harsh wind that sunny California morning, but a warm wind, just enough to ruffle hair.

Where else had that wind been? Where did it come from? From what unknown shore did that wind journey to visit me there on that California pier? What mountain valleys did it travel, what plains, what forests did it traverse to get to where I was standing? If the wind could talk, what stories would it have to tell?

I wonder these things because I have always been afflicted with wanderlust. Bright, breezy spring days in particular fill me with the urge to go walkabout. The wind suffers from no restrictions on its movement; no job, no travel expenses, no duties or obligations. It crosses mountain ranges, continents, oceans and borders as easily as it crosses the street. The wind is my constant companion when I am out of doors.

As Mr. Borland pointed out, the wind knows few limits. In the Middle East, I have experienced hot, dry winds that felt like they came from a furnace. Growing up in northeast Iowa where winters are serious business, I have felt cold, dry bitter winds that were so frigid they burned. While traveling in the American South, I have suffered through sluggish breezes so humid that you could almost hear them splash.

When I was a boy in Iowa, the wind brought winter blizzards and summer thunderstorms, the smell of corn pollen in the summer and burning leaves in autumn. In Colorado, the winds bring the small of pine and spruce in the mountains, the smell of sage on the flats, winter storms and summer rains. When I am fishing on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, a place I love without reservation, the wind blends the smell of the endless forests of spruce and fir with the smell of the sea.

The Swiss have the Foehn, the Californians the Santa Ana, the French the Mistral, the Hawaiians the Pali, Alaskans the Williwaws. In my own Colorado in the spring comes the Chinook, that warm, brisk spring wind that melts snow and dries the ground for the first spring wildflowers. The wind has as many names as it does variations.

Some warm summer afternoon, take a moment and look closely at a dandelion that has gone to seed. Dandelions are a favorite of children in summer – to pick them, and blow the silky seeds away, to watch the breeze carry them off to start another patch of dandelions on some homeowner’s manicured lawn. Dandelions depend on the wind to live, to spread. Some homeowners swear at dandelions, but I like them – they are great survivors. Counting on the wind is a good evolutionary bet.

Lately the urge to wander has been hitting me with great vigor. I want to go walkabout. I would like to find a way to ride on the wind as I would ride a river in my old canoe, to see where the wind’s river would take me. What a wonder, to be as free as the wind, to wander the hills, forests and valleys! One of my favorite spots in Colorado is in the White RiverNational Forest south of Eagle, where a Forest Service road wanders close to the south rim of McKenzie Gulch. One sunny afternoon I sat on a rock at the top of the gulch, eating a blueberry bagel and considering how long it would take me to descend into the bottom and climb the other side. As I thought about this, a Clark’s Nutcracker floating by overhead opened his wings wide and rode the south breeze across the vast gulf of air to the other side. I envied that bird; I wanted to spread wings and float on the breeze. Instead, my own evolutionary legacy forced me to walk.

Walking still suits me, though; the wind is always there with me.

Stand outside in a stiff breeze sometime. Raise your arms high and spread your fingers. Touch the wind.

For all its variations, the wind is one of the Earth’s few constants.

Rule Five Random Thoughts Friday

Sometimes it seems unfair that we spend our youths working our asses off so that we can enjoy free time while we’re old and decrepit. But then, when I get old, I don’t plan to be decrepit.

Here are some other things I wonder about:

I wonder why people buy high-performance cars and then drive five miles ah hour under the speed limit in the left lane on the interstate. I spied a couple just such on last winter’s drive to California; a new Mustang, another an older Camaro. Makes no sense.

I wonder why the person who invented the brassiere made them hook in the back. Seems counter intuitive to me, not to mention damned inconvenient.

I wonder why the call it a “lisp” when, if you have one, you can’t say so.

I wonder why Paris Hilton is a “celebrity.” (Scare quotes intentional.) From what (admittedly little) I’ve heard from her, she’s about as witty, intelligent and interesting as a bunch of beans trying to negotiate their way out of someone’s colon.

I don’t wonder who wrote the Book of Love. I have my reasons.

I wonder why Japanese schoolgirls wear what amounts to a sailor’s outfit. They are not going to school on a ship. Does anyone know?

I wonder if all the porn were suddenly deleted from the internet, the resulting void would collapse into a singularity and draw the rest of the Earth down its gravity well.

I wonder if that did happen, would it happen too fast for anyone to blog about it?

I wonder if Kaiser Bill mustaches will ever make a comeback.

I wonder what warp in the space-time continuum makes Japanese days arrive a day before regular days do.

I wonder why roughly twenty percent of humanity are deliberately self-centered, thoughtless assholes. Another forty percent are too stupid to realize when they are being self-centered, thoughtless assholes.  That’s sixty percent who regularly manage to find a way to piss me off. I’ll grant you that I just made these statistics up. I admit that the fact that I usually spend one day a week on an airliner may have skewed my perceptions on this issue.

I wonder how they get men to appear in Viagra and Cialis commercials. These guys must have people coming up to them on the street, saying “Hey, you’re that guy on TV that can’t get it up without a pill!”

I wonder why someone would buy a four-wheel-drive pickup, spend a small fortune on aftermarket modifications including a beefed-up suspension, huge tires, and off-road lights, and then never, ever, ever even think about taking it off paved city streets.  And yet I see many trucks like that.   Maybe the driver thinks the truck says something about him; to me, it says “idiot.”  A four-by-four should wear its rock chips and branch scrapes with pride.

Feel free to post your “I wonder whys” in the comments.

Animal’s Daily Charlottesville News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

The fuss in Charlottesville, VA is still cooling down – sort of.  The media everywhere is still picking over this incident, trying to make some sense of the whole thing; of course, there isn’t too much to pick over.  This was two groups of assholes, being assholes.

But while the legacy media wrings their hands, here is a pretty level-headed pieced of commentary.  Excerpt:

After months of work and hype on social media, Unite the Right managed to get 200 marchers to show up in Charlottesville Friday. On Friday night they marched around with tiki torches and waved flags without incident. On Saturday a group of Antifa counter protesters showed up. The counter protesters proceeded to attack the Unite the Right Marchers and a riot broke out.

According the the Virginia ACLU, the Charlottesville police stood down and did nothing to control the situation. During this riot a supporter of the march, it is unclear if he is a member of any of the organizations there, slammed his car into a crowd of counter protesters killing one person and injuring 19 others. It is unclear if the driver had planned to do this to any counter protesters before the march or if he just took the riot as an excuse to do it.

Those are the facts as we know them currently. What they mean can be debated. Any debate about this subject should be based upon facts, not assumptions or hasty generalizations. What can we reasonably conclude from the known facts? Three things I think.

First, the white nationalist movement is still the same small, insignificant movement it always has been. Despite months of hype and work, the Unite the Right rally drew 200 people. The white nationalist KKK movement has been able to draw a couple hundred people at a national rally for my entire lifetime. So let’s stop with the nonsense about this being some significant rally or that the white nationalists are any more popular or emboldened today than they ever have been. They are not. It’s the same small group of morons that have always been there. The proof of that is in the numbers. If there had been 10,000 people at that rally, I might reconsider that. But there wasn’t.

Second, what played out yesterday in Charlottesville is just a repeat of what happened in Berkeley, Middleburg, NYU, and other places over the last year and a half. Some group Antifa finds objectionable has a speech or a rally. Then Antifa shows up and starts assaulting people and the police stand down, let them do it, and let the riot happen. That is exactly what happened yesterday. It should surprise no one that one of these riots has now resulted in someone’s death. The fact that the death was the result of the actions of the enemies of Antifa rather than Antifa itself, changes nothing. This was going to happen eventually.

Third, this is exactly what Antifa wanted. Their plan is always to attack their enemies hoping they fight back and then get blamed for the resulting violence. And time and again the police let them do it. Every time some self-righteous writer like David French gets up and talks about this being the result of the “alt right,” whatever that is, they are doing nothing but emboldening Antifa and encouraging this to happen more in the future.

Now, take a look at the bolded portions above – emphasis added by me.  That seems to be the common thread of the various protests-turned-riots over the last year or so:  The polices stand down and let the rioters riot.  Charlottesville, Berkeley, Baltimore, Ferguson – it’s always that common thread, police giving the rioters “room to destroy.”

Out on a limb.

Let’s make no mistake about it – in Charlottesville, both sides of this conflict are beneath contempt.  And at least at this point, it’s difficult to tell who cast the first stone, although we may well harbor suspicions – suspicions based on the experience of, say, Berkeley, where the fascists of the ironically-named “antifa” movements began the riots.

How long will it be before some ballsy Mayor revives the old tradition of a public reading of the riot act, followed by “now disperse, or you will be dispersed by force”?

I suspect it may be closer than we think.

Animal’s Daily Overthrow News

There has been plenty of hyperventilating about some kind of coup ever since Donald Trump was elected President.  None of it will amount to anything, which makes this two-part scenario a tad silly.  Excerpt:

But how would one pull off a coup d’etat in the United States? Most of the political hacks had no idea, while the military experts understood the massive challenge. Some answers were obvious – in the Third World, the first thing the plotters take control of are the radio and TV stations and the newspapers. In America, the media was already in the bag. Hell, they would cheerlead a coup. But the actual seizure of power? That was more complicated.

“You just send in some soldiers and take over everything,” said the younger and, astonishingly, stupider California senator. “You know, with guns. How hard can this Army stuff be?”

Retired – actually, fired by Trump – General Leonard Smith, who had been promoted by Obama after failing to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, but who successfully spearheaded the transsexuals in foxholes initiative, tried to explain.

“Look, it’s a matter of numbers. We take all our land forces in CONUS…”

“What’s CONUS?” asked a former Clinton Deputy Assistant Undersecretary of Defense.

“The continental United States,” the general replied, annoyed. “We have maybe 45 brigade combat teams total available, counting everything active and reserve, Marine and Army. Less than one per state. And a city takes a brigade to control – at least. New York would take ten. And that’s assuming they were all loyal to us. There’s police and federal law enforcement too, but we also have 100 million armed Americans who might object.”

“Ridiculous,” sniffed the senator. “How can a bunch of citizens armed with their deer rifles stop a modern army?”

 “Oh, I don’t know, Senator. Ask the Vietnamese. Or the Afghans. Look, we need speed and focus. Step one is to decapitate the government by eliminating the current leadership, via capture or … otherwise. Step two, take the the key control nodes before the administration can react. Step three, use the inertia of the military and law enforcement. We get them on our side – whether they know it or not – and keep them moving and following orders so they do not have time to reflect and react against us. But you need to understand and to go into this with your eyes open. If we do this, people will die. Are you ready for that?”

OK, here’s where this scenario falls apart:  Our military and hell, much of our civil law enforcement, would never involve themselves in a violent overthrow of the United States government.   For one thing, the oath our military members take is to the Constitution, not to any specific leader (not that this seems to have much effect on elected pols who take a similar oath).  I’m damned certain the vast majority of the armed forces would repel, not aid, any such armed insurrection.

Here’s the second reason the scenario falls apart:  The insurrection is formulated and executed by the political Left.  You know – the people who don’t have all the guns.  The author nods at that fact with the line quoted above about Vietnam and Afghanistan, but America’s legal gun-owning community is far better armed and better practiced than the denizens of either of those places.

Any such attempt at a coup would be brutal, short, and not to the benefit of the would-be rebels.

Rule Five I, Claudius Friday

National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson presents an interesting historical comparison to President Trump.  Excerpt:

Claudius was an unusual emperor, the first to be born outside Italy, in Roman Gaul. Under the Augustan Principate, new Caesars—who claimed direct lineage from the “divine” Augustus—were usually rubber-stamped by the toadyish Senate. However, the outsider Claudius (who had no political training and was prevented by his uncle Tiberius from entering the cursus honorum), was brought into power by the Roman Praetorian Guard, who wanted a change from the status quo apparat of the Augustan dynasty.

The Roman aristocracy—most claiming some sort of descent from Julius Caesar and his grandnephew Octavian (Caesar Augustus)—had long written Claudius off as a hopeless dolt. Claudius limped, the result of a childhood disease or genetic impairment. His mother Antonia, ashamed of his habits and appearance, called the youthful Claudius “a monster of man.” He was likely almost deaf and purportedly stuttered.

That lifelong disparagement of his appearance and mannerisms probably saved Claudius’s life in the dynastic struggles during the last years of the Emperor Augustus and the subsequent reigns of the emperors Tiberius and Caligula.

The stereotyped impression of Claudius was that of a simpleton not to be taken seriously—and so no one did. Claudius himself claimed that he feigned acting differently in part so that he would not be targeted by enemies before he assumed power, and to unnerve them afterwards.

Contemporary critics laughed at his apparent lack of eloquence and rhetorical mastery, leading some scholars to conjecture that he may have suffered from Tourette syndrome or a form of autism. The court biographer Suetonius wrote that Claudius “was now careful and shrewd, sometimes hasty and inconsiderate, occasionally silly and like a crazy man.”

Sound familiar?

It is an interesting comparison.  I’ve read a fair amount of Roman history myself, although most of my reading has to do with the Republic, not the Empire, as in prior to the second Roman Civil War.  But I agree that there are parallels between President Trump and Claudius.

Both were/are political outsiders.

Both were/are considered rude and uncouth by the political elites of their times.

Both were/are the subject of relentless attacks by those same political elites.

Of course, there is one major difference; President Trump was elected to office by the citizens according to a republican Constitution in place for nearly two hundred and fifty years.  Claudius was installed in office by the Praetorian Guard, over the objections of the Roman Senate, who were the last badly weakened vestige of the old Republic.

No comparison is perfect.  But this is an interesting one, and it’s important to note the road the Romans went down – and it’s not dissimilar (especially in fiscal matters) than the road the United States is on now.

Animal’s Daily Nork Nutbar News

A few days back, I wondered (and still do) what possesses people like Otto Warnbier to travel to dangerous third world shitholes like North Korea.  Now young Mr. Warnbier has died of whatever the hell the bat-guano crazy Norks did to him.  And now American nutbars on the left are claiming that he died because the Norks denied him his “white privilege.”  What a bag of crap.  Excerpt:

Ebony magazine took things farther, insisting that the takeaway was not about frat-bro privilege but “white privilege.” In a story reprinted from the site Kinfolk Kollective, the author LaSha argued:

I’m willing to bet my last dollar that he was aware of the political climate in that country, but privilege is a hell of a drug. The high of privilege told him that North Korea’s history of making examples out of American citizens who dare challenge their rigid legal system in any way was no match for his alabaster American privilege. When you can watch a white man who entered a theatre and killed a dozen people come out unscathed, you start to believe you’re invincible. When you see a white man taken to Burger King in a bulletproof vest after he killed nine people in a church, you learn that the world will always protect you….

What a mind-blowing moment it must be to realize after 21 years of being pedestaled by the world simply because your DNA coding produced the favorable phenotype that such favor is not absolute. What a bummer to realize that even the State Department with all its influence and power cannot assure your pardon. What a wake-up call it is to realize that your tears are met with indifference.

What a steaming pile Ebony published.

But that’s not really what I wanted to say, not on this occasion of the death of an American at the hands of a ruthless Stalinist regime.  Idiocy of this kind is all too common.  But if I had the chance for a face-to-face with the stunted little gargoyle with bad hair leading North Korea today, here’s what I would love to say to him:

“Fuck you, Kim Jong Dogshit.  Fuck you, your stunted insane father and your stunted insane grandfather.  Fuck all the twisted assholes that keep your fat, bloated, insane ass in power.  The death of one American cannot be repaid by the entire wealth of your whole damned, country, and that’s your fault, yours and your family’s – your fault that your people are eating grass, that your people would risk their lives to flee to China, to Russia, anywhere.”

And then I’d like to kick his teeth in.

I still wonder what possesses someone to go, voluntarily, to a place like North Korea.  But Mr. Warnbier’s death at the hands of these people is an outrage, even if he was ill-advised to go there.  To hell with the Nork regime; to hell with them all.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Thanks again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Moving along:  some folks aren’t interested, but I find this fascinating; the latest Kepler survey has revealed thousands of possible new exoplanets.  Ten of those may be earth-like.  Excerpt:

This is the most comprehensive and detailed catalog release of candidate exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, from Kepler’s first four years of data. It’s also the final catalog from the spacecraft’s view of the patch of sky in the Cygnus constellation.

With the release of this catalog, derived from data publicly available on the NASA Exoplanet Archive, there are now 4,034 planet candidates identified by Kepler. Of which, 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets. Of roughly 50 near-Earth size habitable zone candidates detected by Kepler, more than 30 have been verified.

Additionally, results using Kepler data suggest two distinct size groupings of small planets. Both results have significant implications for the search for life. The final Kepler catalog will serve as the foundation for more study to determine the prevalence and demographics of planets in the galaxy, while the discovery of the two distinct planetary populations shows that about half the planets we know of in the galaxy either have no surface, or lie beneath a deep, crushing atmosphere – an environment unlikely to host life.

I’d have to add “life as we know it” to that last sentence.  But it’s still amazing.

When astronomers first started looking for exoplanets (planets outside or solar system) nobody knew what to expect.  Nobody knew if planets were common or rare; nobody knew if our life-friendly little solar system was typical or rare.

Now we know that many, many stars have planets.  I suspect it’s only a matter of time before we find a small rocky planet with the spectral lines for oxygen and water coming to us from its atmosphere.  That’s not a sure sign of life, but it’s a pretty decent one.

I hope I’m around when that happens.

Rule Five MYOB Friday

Robert Heinlein once noted that “ninety percent of all human wisdom is the ability to mind your own business.”  As usual, Heinlein was right.

So why don’t more folks take that to heart?

I’ve said this before in these virtual pages, many times, usually when discussing social issues:  I really don’t give a good goddamn what people do, as long as they leave me alone.  That applies to all sorts of things, from marriage to marijuana.  The problem with holding such a philosophy is the fact that too many folks don’t extend the same courtesy in return.

That’s the problem with espousing libertarian values.  Everybody seems to like the “nobody gets to tell you what to do” side of it, but few are willing to accept the “you don’t get to tell anyone else what to do, either.”

Examples on both sides of the political spectrum abound, but the most egregious examples these days come from the left:

  • On college campuses across the nation, conservative speakers are threatened and shouted down.
  • Pols on the left are making noises that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the First Amendment.
  • Intrusive and unconstitutional gun control is a plank in the Democratic Party platform.
  • Proposed restrictions on everything from SUVs to housing come from the left.

To be fair, AG Sessions is making noises about using Imperial power to crack down on those states that have legalized marijuana.  And GOP pols are consistently against legalizing sex workers.

And both sides still favor using the tax code to force you to submit your personal financial business to the Imperial government every year, in detail, in the laughable guise of a “voluntary” self-assessment.

Here’s my take on most issues:  If what you’re doing doesn’t infringe on anyone else, it’s not their business.  If you don’t like what someone is saying, don’t listen.  If you don’t like SUVs, don’t buy one.  If you think tobacco, or marijuana, or alcohol is harmful, don’t partake.  If you disapprove of gay marriage, don’t marry a person of the same sex.  And if you think prostitution is immoral, don’t visit a prostitute.

It’s really very simple.

But somebody else does those things, it doesn’t affect you.  You may not approve of other people doing those things.  But…  mind your own damn business.

Government seems to be filled with busybodies of every stripe.  I suppose that’s to be expected; one wouldn’t become a pol if one didn’t have an irresistible urge to stick one’s nose into other folks’ business.  Now, if your neighbor doesn’t mind his own business, it’s annoying.  When politicians propose using men with guns to force themselves into your business, that’s frightening.  Your neighbor can be an unwelcome intrusion, but government can send men with guns out to compel your compliance.

It’s increasingly a tough world for those of us who just want to be left alone.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Moving on, here’s a shocker:  Chimps are not people.  Excerpt:

Chimpanzees do not deserve the same rights as people, a New York state appeals court unanimously concluded on Thursday, as it refused to order the release of two of the animals to a primate sanctuary.

The 5-0 decision by the Appellate Division in Manhattan is the latest defeat for the Nonhuman Rights Project and its lawyer Steven Wise in a long debate over whether caged chimpanzees are actually legal “persons” entitled like humans to bodily liberty.

Citing experts like British primatologist Jane Goodall, the Nonhuman Rights Project said chimpanzees and humans share many behavioral, cognitive and social capabilities.

It said this entitled chimpanzees to many of the same rights, and sought “habeas corpus” relief to win freedom for Tommy and Kiko, each held by a private owner in upstate New York.

But the shared capabilities “do not translate to a chimpanzee’s capacity or ability, like humans, to bear legal duties, or to be held legally accountable for their actions,” Justice Troy Webber wrote for the appeals court.

“While petitioner’s avowed mission is certainly laudable, the according of any fundamental legal rights to animals, including entitlement to habeas relief, is an issue better suited to the legislative process,” Webber wrote.

Speaking as the guy who wrote a book on the topic (cast your eyes to the right) animal’s do not and can not have rights.  We should and do accord legal protection to animals; animal cruelty statutes have a long history in Western law.  But that’s not the same thing as acknowledging rights.  Key difference; animal cruelty statutes apply only to the actions of humans.

Rights are essentially negative in nature; they define actions governments and our fellow citizens may not take.  Government and our fellow citizens may not restrict our rights to self-expression, or to peaceably assemble, to bear arms or to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.  But no animal has the necessary moral agency to understand this; a human can be held accountable for violating another’s rights, but an animal may not.  It may be controlled or destroyed, but not put on trial.  It cannot confront its accuser; it cannot appeal to a jury of its peers.

Now, I’ve had occasion to interact with great apes; specifically, chimps and an orangutan.  It’s interesting, because when you look into the eyes of one of these close cousins you get an odd feeling; it’s not like looking at a cat or a dog.  There’s something more there.  But what there isn’t is human intelligence; what there isn’t is moral agency.

The Appellate Division in Manhattan got this one right.