Sunday, July 31, 2005

Travelling with ultra conservatives

So we had a surprise 70th birthday party for my Dad up in Idaho this weekend. Due to our financial constraints and the fact that we fear our transmission is going out, the kids and I rode up to Idaho with my sister and her family. So that was 3 adults and 10 kids in a 15 passenger van for a 6 hour drive. We drove up Friday and returned home Saturday. All in all, the trip wasn't so bad, though I confess that Spud spent a bit of the drive on my lap as he can't tolerate that much time strapped in his car seat. It's hard to be a newly mobile baby and then to be tied down to a chair for so long. My sister has twin girls that are about 6 months older than Noodle, so the three of them sat in a row in their car seats and had a lot of fun, with only a few episodes of driving each other to the point of screaming. A funny part of the trip, though, was having conversations with my very conservative sister and brother-in-law (BIL from here on out). These are people who find the most conservative candidate for president, no matter how obscure, and put signs in their yard and bumper stickers on their car proclaiming their support of the guy. The kind of people who are put off by GWB because he's too liberal. So, conversations with them are good because I'm reminded that people who I consider intelligent really can believe stuff that I think is rubbish. Anyways, on the way up to Idaho we started talking about dogs, and I mentioned how I think there should be some sort of permit required to breed dogs, and that this would help cut down the unwanted animal population. On their platform of not supporting government intervention in practically anything, they were adamantly opposed to this idea, as dogs are property and the government shouldn't step in when it involves people's personal property. I say that a lot of breeders are only breeding for money, so therefore they should subjected to some sort of regulation as they are dealing with living creatures and running a "business". I admit that I don't really have a vision for the particulars, but I do stick by my idea that pets should be neutered/spayed as there is no reason for them to breed. That should be left to experienced breeders who are educated and responsible. These sorts of breeders are referred to among the dog fanciers as "hobby breeders," and these types are typically heavily involved in the dog show circuit or training circuit and try to achieve titles for their animals. Additionally, these sorts of breeders require that dogs be returned to them in the case of the owners needing to get rid of them. The kinds of breeders that advertise in the Thrifty Nickel or sell dogs in front of stores are typically termed "Backyard Breeders" and breed dogs fairly indiscriminately, generally thinking that they can make some easy money. Their opinion is, once the dog is sold, it's gone, never to be worried about again. Anyways, I digress. So BIL disagrees with me that all pets should be "fixed" because "why shouldn't they have the opportunity to be happy and reproduce and raise puppies?" I had a hard time not laughing in his face. I'm a huge animal lover, but I know that dogs don't reproduce out of some conscious desire to "raise a family". It's all instinct and drive. They have hormones, so therefore they have a drive to mate with another dog. The "family" or puppies are just a byproduct of that drive. And even though mother dogs take good care of their puppies, it can't be said that their happiness is increased by having had puppies. Plus, if you buy into this line of thinking, isn't it terribly cruel to get rid of their family that gives them so much happiness? Puppies are sold at typically 8-10 weeks of age. Wouldn't that just break the mama dog's heart? I realize that laws are only as good as the enforcement, but I do think that they make a decent starting place from which to work at changing attitudes. Anyways, we agreed to disagree on the dog issue.

On the way home, I told them about the book/PBS series of "Guns, Germs & Steel" and we talked about the ideas in there. This covered the idea of many plants and animals being domesticated there, and how this was an advantage to the people of the old world. He says that this idea of a fertile crescent origin of things is popular in the world (referring to the ideas of human origins in that area as well) but that the world doesn't have the "modern revelation" that we do. I presume he was referring to the idea of the Garden of Eden being in Missouri as he mentioned this a bit later. But I just don't see how people can look at all of the evidence in support of evolution and turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. It must be stressful to feel like you are always on guard against those deceptive bones and such scattered throughout the earth. Oh well...

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