28 February 2014

Copenhagen zoo giraffe

Copenhagen zoo's director, Bengt Holst, took the decision to kill a giraffe because they didn't need it and/or because it was relative of other giraffes there. Of course, animal activists and others protested at the decision but the zoo ignored them. Other zoos, e.g., the one in Yorkshire, offered to take the giraffe, but the Copenhagen zoo ignored them. Holst replied that nothing can make him alter his management style.

Finally, the zoo killed the giraffe. But they also decided to make a spectacle out of chopping to pieces that would be given to feed the lions. They invited visitors, families and children to watch.
Sometimes I simply don't understand. And I think nobody does. Humans are still animals and it will take long time before we evolve to something better or vanish.


  1. I'm not sure what you are saying? Are you vegetarian? Is that the "evolution" you hope for. Evolution is not progressive, so don't be hopeful?

    Either I misunderstood you or you seem to be say something as illogical as this:
    We are all living things -- plants, fungi and animals -- so we do we eat plants?

  2. My attempt to be sarcastic failed. No, I am not vegetarian. I meant to say "humans are still not evolved enough to use all their logical faculties (in this case, the giraffe could have been spared and would actually be a welcome addition to another zoo); also, humans enjoy the spectacle of chopping another animal up, isn't that strange?" I then said that one of two things will occur in the (distant) future: either we will evolve and be capable of more logic and less brutality or we will become extinct.

  3. Yeah, sarcasm is hard on blogs, eh?

    I disagree with your view of evolution.
    Brutality is adaptive when balanced with other complex behaviors. Evolution is not progressive.
    We may become extinct, but not because we are brutal.

  4. Ok, thanks. I didn't mean to say anything sophisticated. I was, simply, expressing my disapproval of the zoo's decisions.

  5. But if you are expressing your disapproval of the zoo's decision, you shouldn't do it under the pretense of higher logic, more evolved insights and better understanding of evolution, for these see to be mistaken.

    Instead, you don't mind if rats are killed for pythons, but giraffe for lions is particularly repulsive to you. Not for logical, evolutionary reasons but mere gut, species-centric reasons: giraffes are cute to you.

    Don't you think?

  6. I knew someone would say that: that it is because I feel that giraffes are cute that I find it repulsive. Not quite. First, it was clear that the giraffe would be welcome and, perhaps, of value to another zoo. So why insist on killing her? The lions didn't need to eat the giraffe. Also, the spectacle of a giraffe being chopped up is more of a brutal show for children than, say, a rat being killed. And, yes, from an animal point of view, both species may feel the same pain. But from our point of view we feel worse when we see a pig being killed than a bunch of flies.

    Again, the argument "...rats are killed for pythons, but giraffe for lions..." does not quite apply. Pythons need to be fed, I guess, by rats, but lions didn't need to be fed by the giraffe. Their procedure was: let's kill the giraffe and, oh by the way, feed it to the lions (and make a spectacle.)

    P.S. I actually find mice cute too. No pun intended.

  7. Well, not to spend time with details. I think this has nothing to do with logic or evolving humanity or survival of our species. I think this has everything to do with your preferences. Human, however, when defending their behavioral preferences ("morals") pull up gods, science, logic, morality and more rhetoric as coverings for their simple preferences.

    1. Sabio, I replied to this the other day but my reply was lost... I'll try to recall from memory...
      In one of the comments above I used the word logic, probably prompted from your using the adjective "illogical". I shouldn't have used this word. I didn't mean "logic" in the sense of philosophy or mathematics. I, simply, was referring to a "rational choice" or, even more simply, a "weird choice". See, the zoo was asked to donate the giraffe and they refused. This is the first weird choice. Second, the zoo took the decision to make a spectacle for families and children. This is the second weird choice. All I was trying to say (and I may have failed to state it properly) is that the zoo director made unreasonable and weird choices.

    2. Hmmmm, I wonder what the inside story is.
      Sort of like Crimea -- here the news makes it black-and-white: Russia is an imperialist pig. Ukraine is about democracy and freedom. Yeah, right. Simple as that. I don't think so.

    3. Is that so? What he hear here, and from discussions I had with both Russians and Ukrainians, it appears that the Ukrainian guys (Euromaidan) is led by a bunch of fascist-like guys, much like the Greek thugs I wrote about here. On the other hand, the Russian boys are of course trying to show their teeth to Obama. They have a point, however: the Russian population in Ukraine is so significant and, if left unaided, they will be crushed by Ukrainian nationalists. (E.g., they have now decided that Ukrainian is the only language, Russian will not be recognized, and this is only a step away from chasing after anyone who speaks Russian.) No, it's not black and white. It's very complex, and I don't claim to understand it. But there is no all-win situation. Regardless of whether the Russians mingle (intervene?) or not, the outcome is not going to be pretty. If someone really wanted to do something, they would have stopped the rise of nationalist thugs in Ukraine. This rampant "patriotism" always leads to extremes.

      Russia (i.e., Soviet Union) did make a mistake in the 50s: they gave Crimea to Ukraine as a "gift" and thought it meant nothing because, after all, Soviet Union was going to be ... forever. And then things fell apart.

      Back to the zoo story. In my opinion, and knowing a bit how things work in Scandinavia, it could be due to a single individual--the zoo director. Often, decisions are taken by one or just a few people here and, probably, in Denmark too. For example, a couple of years ago, a small number of administrators in my university decided that having two floors for a science library is not needed. They presented us their plan which was that they were going to discard all books and mostly burn them. Nobody reacted. (I did, but I don't count.) And it happened: the books, mostly journal collections and 19th c. books, were sent to the furnace. It was the decision of a handful of people.

      (I know, I digressed quite a bit from the topic of this posting... Oh well... It's free!)

    4. Fascinating stuff about Russia. I know not to trust our Press. You comment was great outside reading.

  8. I do not know all the conditions & constraints this zoo and giraffe faced, so I really cannot judge whether killing this giraffe was the least worst decision.

    But, I do know that people do not have to eat meat, that they can & should choose not to eat meat, and that if they stopped, then the meat industry would stop breeding & killing billions of animals needlessly each year.

    It is exactly the same as the fact that if pedophiles chose not to have sex with children, and looked at porn instead, then there would be fewer children suffering from sexual abuse.

    1. As usual, your comments make no sense. Besides, you missed the whole point.



What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant