If you missed the show Sunday you can listen to it here.

Michael and I had a blast, it was my first time running the switchboard and after careful preparation and much practice, naturally, something went wrong that totally could not be planned for. The next time I do letters from anyone I will do a two hour show though. We were just getting into the swing of things when time ran out.

I have two more coming up soon, they will be a part of a short series called “15 Minutes” and will be shows under a ½ hour, some of them pre-recorded that will present certain styles, techniques or artists. They are meant to be a little more podcasty. Then there will be the occasional whomping long, live show.

This sunday at 11 the first 15 Minutes will broadcast presenting the Haiku. If you think a Haiku is 5-7-5, think again. It is an enormously complex and subtle form. Alexey Andreyev will be contributing to that show, however, it remains to be seen if he will be on live with me or if I will be reading his lecture on the haiku.

In the middle of all this I am finishing the free workshop, Creating with the Sublime, it should be out and about by the end of the day tomorrow.

In the middle of all this, I am reading the news.

And wondering.

It is an…unpopular thing to call into question the effectiveness and appropriateness of something that we are so used to perceiving as good and just. However, a 20 year study was recently published that has just…raised all sorts of ethical questions for me – and I have found no answers.

No easy answers at all.

So I am just going to sum up what I have read and maybe we can all figure it out.

Then again maybe I am going to take a small break and go get a bucket of coffee first.

I think so, this gives me a headache even just thinking about it much less trying to write it down.

Ok…2 donuts and a bucket with a shot of espresso…

so…there is this oil spill in the gulf. Not really an oil spill but more of an oil flow into the water there.

It is not the first time it has happened, but it is the largest.

And a part of what gets harmed in the course of an oil spill is the flora and fauna around it. Fauna taking on the poster image of the oil soaked bird.

And people donate their time and money to go and clean these birds. The birds are then flown to new, but compatible environments with hopes that they will not return to the oil infused area.

I didn’t know that they tag the birds.
I did not know that they have been following the birds since 70s and accumulating data on what happens after they have been cleaned.

The data was released recently and is sort of, throwing a wrench into business as usual as far as oil spill recovery efforts.

You see….oil spills are man-made. No two ways around it. They cause enormous harm to the environment and all life in the area of the spill. It seems only just and right and kind and good that a part of our recovery efforts has evolved to include efforts targeting the saving and cleaning of animals covered in the oil.

We are good people. We try to do good things. We try not to cause harm if we can avoid it.

Saving animals is undeniably a just and kind cause, particularly when it is our needs and greeds that have put them in peril. I say that sort of as a broad term, many people who are involved with the rescue of the animals have chosen to redefine their needs and greeds and they may be quite different from what fuels a multi-billion dollar industry like petroleum.

So….people go, they volunteer to give several weeks, they are trained and housed and then work long hours in warehouses carefully cleaning these animals.

Money is tight these days, it has taken the generosity of thousands to provide for this effort.

And then I read the report.

Twenty years of following tagged animals recovered from oil damage. The report was commissioned and funded by the animal protection agencies that are behind the rescue effort.

What they found is that the animals who are rescued and cleaned, are placed under such tremendous stress during the cleaning that they not only rarely live past two years (which may not seem too bad in animal terms, but consider what a pelicans life span should be) and are effectively rendered sterile. There is some question whether the sterility is from a stress change in their bodies or from the fact that the rest of their species, across the board, shuns them.

The question the report posed was, how does the rescue effort impact the quality of life of the animal? And, may there not be a better way to spend the millions of dollars involved in performing the rescue/clean…like, focusing on evacuation of healthy animals or creating some kind of environmental quarantine area to keep them away from contaminated areas.

But the report also acknowledged that it would be hard to change tack because people are so emotionally tied to helping animals that they may not be able to disengage emotionally enough to then choose what, in the long run, will save the most animals and not cause further damage.

Its like the old ethical problem of “would you sacrifice the life of one for many?” Except it has a twist, would you preserve the life of one, even if it means that the many that are still sacrificed and the one you saved experience a radical loss of quality of life.

How important IS just breathing?
And what is it that makes life worth living? Is it the ability to find a “home” among your species? To procreate? To not feel ostracized and alone?

And what if, in forming a means of creating some kind of evacuation it is of the type where people can volunteer and swoop in before oil touches any habitat that an animal would encounter it in?

What happens to the animals that suffer and die while we figure out how that would work?

What happens if we change nothing but continue doing the same, only now we carry the knowledge that we have so changed a creatures life that it dies from lack of living?

Help me out here….

I don’t think there is a hard and fast answer to this, but I do think that what we do in response to this kind of disaster has to be reconsidered in light of this information.

back to the workshop…

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About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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