“Let’s be consistent”

“You cruel man! Don’t you know that young horse is half dead with fatigue?”

“He ain’t as dead as that bird on your hat.”

Great text for the intersection of species, gender, and class.

From National Humane Review 7.3 (Mar. 1919): 59, by grace of Googlebooks.

“New” Kitchen Appliance: The Guillotine

Next week (spring break, celebrate!) my family and I are traveling to the country where I grew up, the Dominican Republic. It will be my first time back in 25 years, and I have been feeling a whirlwind of emotions. 

I remember a country of unreliable electricity and questionable running water… of beaches shut down when needles washed up… of balmy hurricanes… of orange streetsellers crowding onto the main drag to loudly advertise “Chinas para las chinas.” (A clever pun on their part—“china” is both the slang for oranges and the word for Chinese females—but I did not appreciate it.)

I also remember (and this is getting back to the subject at hand) that my family killed its own chickens for dinner. Right in the kitchen. A body flapping without a head. It was so shocking that I remember just turning away in confusion. Of course we eat chickens, of course they must first be killed in order to be eaten, of course there is no prepackaged chicken in the D.R., so of course one must kill it oneself. Right in the kitchen.

I can hear you cringe. Please step away from your lunch before you read on.

Below is a 1920 article from Popular Science Monthly, featuring the novel invention of a home guillotine, “especially adaptable for use by women, who…are not usually skilled in chicken-killing.”


Because you know who’s really good at killing chickens?

This dude (July 1919, Popular Science):


I am left thinking of the radical depreciation of chicken-life that now allows us to find such exhibitions of chicken-killing distasteful (if not downright nauseating) while maintaining our comfortable traffic in chicken flesh. 

I must pack for my trip.

On the 125th anniversary of Henry Bergh’s death, I have been reviewing material on the American humane movement for my manuscript. 

In remembrance of Bergh’s good work, I’m posting this Dec. 14, 1993 Weekly World News article on his achievements. It is surprisingly accurate! The lingering question is why, in 1993, the WWW found a story on Bergh to be as equally sensational and ridiculous as a stories of a mime who died for refusing to speak, the uncanny predictions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a swami who has not used the toilet in 25 years.

STOP! 1919 public service message for humaneness towards animals. Prize-winning picture by “a schoolgirl” from Montana.

It’s National Pig Day! (well, a few minutes ago)


From William Youatt’s encyclopedic tome on the pig, aptly titled The Pig(1847). He also wrote on The Dog(1855) and The Horse(1831), so he might have had a little franchise on this theme (it brings to mind the excellent Reaktion Animal Series). As I looked into it, I found that he also penned Cattle(1838) and Sheep(1837). Isn’t it telling, that the two animals that were in more intimate relationship with humans (dogs, horses) were graced with the preceding “The,” while those that are food (cows, sheep) aren’t? The “The” confers upon the dog and horse a greater potential for individuality. Cows and sheep, on the other hand, are referred to in the plural, a move that generalizes and homogenizes.





This is from Arthur Gibson’s 1883 The Adventures of the Pig Family, a representative example of literature that humanized animals—using them as stand-ins for entirely human behavior. In this case, Mrs. Sarah Pig is a veritable Angel in the House. The pig family’s performance might have undermined the discourse of separate spheres, even as it reaffirmed it.

Look, Mr. Pig is home for dinner, after a long hard day:


 And speaking of dinneras if this gathering of texts was not motley enough!I end with a mention of Charles Lamb’s A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig (1888), a satire which I look forward to reading through. It has a little bit of anti-Chinese sentiment, at least in these horrible illustrations,


but, also moments where the way he pokes fun at the reverence for roast pig offers a chance for empathy:



Happy National Pig Day!