Archive for March, 2005

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — March 2005

Thursday, March 31st, 2005


Good Friday was a holiday here in S’pore—why? I don’t know no one here really celebrates Easter but hey it was a three day weekend: who am I to question. Since it was a long weekend Candice and I went to Malaysia []. Or, more precisely we went to Genting [] and Kuala Lumpur [].

First stop: Genting… After a long (eight hours! Someone lied then they said it only took four!) and very uncomfortable ride on a bus that bounced so much on it’s shocks that it could have stared in a Dr. Dre video, we got to Genting. Now, Genting is nothing more than a miniature Lost Wages in the highlands near Kuala Lumpur. There are some really great views of the mountains but other than that if you’re not placing bets or riding on cheesy miniature thrill rides then you’re eating or sleeping. But we only spent a day there so it was all good.

Kuala Lumpur was kind of a disappointment though. The only thing to really do is shop or drink. There is a severe lack of cultural things to see. You can go to Chinatown and by RM10 Rolexes but then, you can do that in most major cities in Southeast Asia. But what do KL have that no one else has? The Petronas Twin Towers [] of course. The world’s tallest building—or it was… Maybe, see here [] and here []. The towers are a bit of a let down actually because there is no real bulk to them. I mean the World Trade Center had and the Sears Tower has bulk taking up city blocks and being basically beefy all the way up. The Petronas Towers are kind or skimpy by comparison. But they do make for cool pictures.


That was about it for the photo ops in KL, but on Sunday we headed a bit north of the city to Batu Caves []. There was no body mutilating Thaipusam [] religious festival (think masochistic circus side show involving hooks,) but there were monkeys! I took lots of pictures of the monkeys even though I just took pictures of the monkeys in Singapore, which Candice did not understand. The conversation went something like this:

Candice: “Why are you taking so many pictures of the monkeys?”
Beggs: “Cause monkeys are cool!”
Candice: “Why are monkeys cool?
Beggs: “Umm… I don’t understand the question?”

Anyway, it was a relaxing weekend. The pictures are a bit disappointing—mostly due to the lack of a tripod. Most of the night shots of the Petronas Towers are blurry since I was holding the camera. Same holds for most of the monkey shots as it was dark in the cave and the flash would have scared them all away. C’est la vie… that’ll teach me to travel without a tripod!

Animal Liberation

Monday, March 21st, 2005
Peter Singer

Animal Liberation

Animal Liberation is credited with launching the animal rights movement in the industrialized world when it was first published in 1975 by the then relatively unknown, Peter Singer []. You can blame all of the illogical stupidity of PETA [] on this book. But PETA’s antics tend to blind people to any logical discussion of the real points in Animal Liberation. Singer does not support the animal rights movement epitomized by PETA but holds many of the same views, referred to as speciesism [], based on a logical examination of the practices of the industrialized societies in their use of animals. The examination is based on Utilitarian morals and ethics and you have to read the book with that frame of mind, even if you don’t agree you have to be open to utilitarian ideas, to understand some of what Singer is talking about.

Most people in the industrial world are far removed from how their food is produced and how their beauty products or drugs are tested and approved. This blinds many people to the true magnitude of the use of animals in sustaining or modern standard of living. Animal liberation strips off the blinders and exposes the realities of our system of animal exploitation. Animal Liberation is an academic book on ethics but is also in-your-face and readable.

I first read Animal Liberation when I worked in the fish store back in C’ville. One of our regular customers was a post-doc biologist at the university. She came in one day to buy 100 Zebra Danios to be used in an experiment. I’m not sure now what the exact nature of the experiment was but J—- argued with her and said he would not sell them to her if she was going to ‘cut their heads open and stick electrodes in their brains.’ J—- continues to argue by asking her ‘have you even read Animal Liberation?’ to which she responded, ‘yes, have you?’ The only thing J—- could say was, ‘um. No, actually.’

Even though J—-, J— and myself had, for a time, been vegetarian neither J—- or I had read Animal Liberation yet and I’m not sure if J— had finished it yet. We’d become vegetarians based on discussion of the principles in Animal Liberation with several of our customers and friends, including a ethics teacher at the university. This was when I picked up my first copy of the book, figuring that I could not speak intelligently about the decision I had made, could not even justify the decision unless I had actually read the book. I’m glad it was J—- and not me that got caught on the soap box without being prepared.

If it’s hard to imagine going vegetarian or vegan read Animal Liberation and then think about it. It’s hard for anyone I’ve meet to read Animal Liberation and not change their lifestyle in some way. Not everyone goes vegetarian or vegan but they all change some, the arguments are compelling and the images and examples of humans use of non-humans are graphic and disturbing.

On Amazon

Simian Eyes

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

This is my favorite picture of of the da monkeys [] series. The eyes are a bit haunting and it reminds me of something out of National Geographic. I wish it was just a bit sharper, but hey, give me a break I took the picture at full zoom with a 80mm-300mm lens and no stabilizer, just my hands.

Completing the transformation

Monday, March 14th, 2005

There was no house cleaning of old animal un-friendly products when I became a Vegetarian. No ritualistic ceremony to cleanse myself of all past wrongs committed against animals. No, I’m not an evangelizing vegetarian, I’m not an asshole about others lack of morals. I was much more subdued about becoming a vegetarian. It probably helped that most of my close friends and co-workers at the time were already or became vegetarians along with me at the time.

I did not cut all animal based products out of my life: I ate eggs and drank milk (and aside from a shot time when I drank Soya and ate no cheese or eggs I still partake of milk products and eggs. Because it is simply too hard not to unless you live across the street from a Whole Foods []—which I did for a time, but now I’m just making excuses,) I had leather good; gloves, a coat, wallet, etc. and over the year I have continued to accumulate leather goods. Both goods I purchased and goods that were given to me.

Last summer I re-read Animal Liberation []. It was the first time I have re-read the ‘book that started it all’ since I became a vegetarian. Just afterwards I read Fast Food Nation [] which may sound like it has nothing to do with animal rights, utilitarian ethics or being a vegetarian but if you suspect that I suspect you have not read Fast Food Nation. After reading these two books and thinking about it for a while I decided that I would make a concerted effort to replace all my leather goods (not ready to call a 100% moratorium on eggs and dairy yet—thought soy milk is easy to get over here so we’ll see, protein might be hard to come buy with out some dairy)

I started my long delayed house cleaning some time ago. I purchased a new totally synthetic wallet from The Wallet Shop [] here in Singapore where I also purchased a business card holder—now I just need to replace my passport/travel wallet anyone got any leads? I also went ahead and replaced my leather dress shoes and my Birkenstocks with new ones from Moo Shoes []. I replaced my light leather jacket (which I bought in Italy only a few years ago—bad, bad, vegetarian!) with a black PVC one from the Human Rights Campaign, and it only cost me $5.00! Non-leather goods tend to be cheaper that the ‘real’ thing.

I guess now I can count myself as a good vegetarian, thought not a vegan (still debating that egg and dairy thing.) I still have some leather in my possession—the handle on my otherwise nylon business bag is leather. So maybe the transformation is not yet totally complete but I’m much closer to being leather, and wool, free than I was a few months ago. Now if I could just convince my girlfriend to give up those high priced leather purses and handbags!

Da Monkeys! — March 2005

Tuesday, March 8th, 2005
Monkeys at Upper Pierce, Singapore, March 2005

Saturday we went to see the monkeys! One of the visiting guys from work wanted to see monkeys! So my girlie played tour guide to four of us and drove us up to the Upper Pierce Reservoir, right smack in the middle of Singapore. There along the road, being fed by some drivers—watch out you’ll get caned (or just fined actually) if they catch you feeding the monkeys!—was a group of Long-Tailed Macaque‘s []. Photo op! Nuff said… now look at my monkey!

Ayutthaya, Thailand — February 2005

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2005


After several days of bad smells and wat‘s overrun with tourists in Bangkok a side trip was most defiantly in order! A quick read through the Lonely Planet‘s [], Southeast Asia on a Shoe String and it was off to Ayutthaya the next morning.

About two hours north of Bangkok, by train, Ayuthaya [] was once the capital of Siam []. The train ride north was refreshing, sitting in the air-conditioned second class car watching the scenery change from slums to rice fields.

Ayutthaya was hot! I mean 38 degrees Celsius (that’s 100.4 Fahrenheit) with no shade and the sun beating down on you like nobody’s business. It was HOT. Deciding to *walk* across the island from the train station to the temples was, in retrospect, not the best idea. It was so hot that after seeing a couple of wat’s it was time to go. No elephant rides thank you, just a tuk-tuk to the train station.

Because it was so hot all the pictures are from a couple of wat’s and are no where near an exhaustive sampling of what wat’s are at Ayutthaya. Since I’ve been back I have seen some pictures of some other wat’s at Ayutthaya that I wish I had seen. Oh well.

After the tuk-tuk ride to the train station there was a 40 minute wait for the next train. At least there was a place to sit and some shade at the station. Unfortunately the ticket guy gave me third class tickets—though I think everyone had third class tickets. And third class is everything you imagine it to be in rural Asia. Hot and sweaty masses pack like cattle into non air-conditioned antique train cars for a long, slow, trip back to Bangkok. And then some dude walking back and forth down the middle of the car with a cooler trying to sell drinks. Oh it was painful.