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February 2017
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Did you know that some seemingly animal-related words and phrases have origins that have nothing to do with animals? In today's episode, I offer up the backstory to words such as piggyback, monkey wrench, round robin, and spelling bee. 

Thanks for supporting Food for Thought

Music by Gosta Berling.

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In this episode, I'm thrilled to share with you a very special person named Michele de Montaigne, who lived from 1533 to 1592. He was a writer, philosopher, and inventor of the essay as a proper literary genre. In his aptly titled "Essays," he shares his thoughts - while referencing historical figures, philosophical thinkers, and poets - in order to work out his thoughts about the way to world worked and our place in it. Significantly for our purposes, he was one of the early post-Classical thinkers who challenged some fundamental aspects of Western thought, particularly the idea that we’re superior to other animals. Take a listen and join the Montaigne fan club.

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Today, I read a very special story called "¡Adiós, Cordera!", written in 1892 by Leopoldo Alas (also known as Clarín). “¡Adiós, Cordera!" is a touching story of two children, named Rosa and Pinín, who love their family's cow, Cordera, like a mother. The family is very poor, and the father realizes that he must sell the beloved cow in order to pay rent. The children are heartbroken, and so is he. I'll let the story speak for itself.

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When you look through the lens of compassion, you see our desire for it everywhere you look; you see the human expression of it everywhere you look; and you see our connection to animals everywhere you look – including in art. I’m most excited by the presence of works of art that span mediums, cultures, genres, and decades, which covertly and overtly illustrate the reverence we have for animals but also the cultural and personal consequences of our violence towards them. Join me today as I explore this topic through two popular novels: Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten and Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.

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An outspoken advocate for animals, Mark Twain publicly came out against such abuses as bullfighting and vivisection, and animals were a part of his writing from the first story that earned him renown ("The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County") to the published and unpublished pieces he wrote up until his death in 1910. In addition to his short story, "A Dog's Tale," read back in July 2009, I've taken great delight in Twain's essays, letters, and other short stories also dedicated to animals and his conclusion that they are superior to humans - evidenced in today's essay: The essay I’m going to read, “Man’s Place in the Animal World” is similar in content to “Letters from a Dog to Another Dog Explaining and Accounting for Man, though it is decidedly lighter in tone, as evident by the full title: “Letters from a Dog to Another Dog Explaining and Accounting for Man by Author, Newfoundland Smith. Translated from the Original Doggerel by M.T.”

Direct download: mark_twain.mp3
Category:Literature, Food, Health, Society & Culture, News & Politics -- posted at: 3:22am PST
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In 1903, Mark Twain published the short story “A Dog’s Tale” in Harper’s Monthly Magazine, and the following year, it was released it as a book. Though it tends to be overshadowed by his more famous works, the story received public and critical acclaim, and as Diane Beers writes in her book, For the Prevention of Cruelty,it “is to this day a persuasive literary weapon for animal advocacy.” And I agree with her when she writes, “Twain’s deceptively simple little tale gave a powerful voice to the voiceless and laid bare human cruelty and arrogance.” A lovely sad tale worthy of remembrance.

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Because memorials aren’t really a lamentation of death as much as they are a celebration of life, I want to emphasize that this episode is not at all sad. In it, I read several poems by celebrated writers (Robinson Jeffers, John Galsworthy, Eugene O'Neill, William Cowper), who memorialize their lost animal companions with whom they lived and loved. May you find joy and solace in their words.

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At Animal Pharm, an anomaly is born. Whether a piglet with the hands and feet of a human baby or a human baby with the head and tail of a piglet, Ziggy only wants to find what we all seek. It is my pleasure to read this moving tale by the talented Shad Clark.

Direct download: littleboypig.mp3
Category:Literature, Food, Health, Society & Culture, News & Politics -- posted at: 1:46am PST
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Best known for his novels, such as The Picture of Dorian Gray; his plays, such as "The Importance of Being Earnest," "An Ideal Husband," and "Salome"; his poetry, such as "The Ballad of Reading Gaol"; and his 50,000-word letter, called "De Profundis," Oscar Wilde is not widely acclaimed for his children's stories. Sweet, didactic, and full of imagery, his children's stories were compiled in The Happy Prince and Other Talesand published in 1888. He created them as bedtime stories for his two sons, and though they do not reflect the wit and acumen of the brilliant writer, they do reflect his desire to teach the value of having a selfless heart. "The Happy Prince" is a lovely little story about selfless prince and a selfless bird: a little swallow who sacrifices himself to save others.

Direct download: happyprince.mp3
Category:Literature, Food, Health, Society & Culture, News & Politics -- posted at: 1:54am PST
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