QQ moar: Boys who cry can work for Google. Boys who trash computers cannot.

Feelings and masculinity are generally incompatible in Western culture. Autism and stronger-than-average emotions go together.

This is Temple Grandin on men who cry, in The Autistic Brain:

Manage your emotions.

How do you do that? By learning to cry. And how do you do that? By giving yourself permission. (And if you’re in a position to give someone else that permission, then do it.) You don’t have to cry in public. You don’t have to cry in front of your peers. But if the alternative is to hit or throw, then, yes, you do have to cry. When parents tell me that their teenage boy cries when he’s frustrated, I say, “Good!” Boys who cry can work for Google. Boys who trash computers cannot. I once was at a science conference, and I saw a NASA scientist who had just found out that his project was canceled–a project he’d worked on for years. He was maybe sixty-five years old, and you know what? He was crying. And I thought, Good for him. That’s why he was able to reach retirement age working in a job he loved.

From a neuroscience point of view, managing emotions depends on top-down control from prefrontal cortex. If you can’t control your emotion, you have to change your emotion. If you want to keep a job, you have to learn how to turn anger into frustration. I saw in a magazine article that Steve Jobs would cry in frustration. That’s why Steve Jobs still had a job. He could be verbally abusive to employees, but as far as I know, he didn’t go around throwing things at them or slugging them.

I learned my lesson in high school. I got in a fight with someone who was teasing me, and I had horseback riding taken away for two weeks. That’s the last fight I ever had. When I got into the cattle business, I was angry plenty of times, but I knew enough not to show it. Instead I would hide out on the cattle catwalk. I was right in plain view, but I knew I was so far off the ground that nobody could see I was crying. Or I’d go underneath some stairs, or I’d sit in my car in the parking lot. Sometimes I’d go in the electrical room, because the lovely sign on the door told everybody else to KEEP OUT. But I’d never hide in the restroom, because I couldn’t know if someone was going to walk in.

As a vegan, I’d imagine  things in the cattle business that make Temple Grandin cry are sad.  When I was doing animal research, I felt horrible when a “sacrifice” didn’t actually result in a good death.  I see there’s been some progress on how much it sucks to be decapitated.  I remember finding a review paper about it back when I had to decapitate rats for an HPLC experiment.

The question whether decapitation is a humane method of euthanasia in awake animals is being debated. To gather arguments in this debate, obsolete rats were decapitated while recording the EEG, both of awake rats and of anesthetized rats. Following decapitation a fast and global loss of power of the EEG was observed; the power in the 13-100 Hz frequency band, expressing cognitive activity, decreased according to an exponential decay function to half the initial value within 4 seconds. Whereas the pre-decapitation EEG of the anesthetized animals showed a burst suppression pattern quite different from the awake animals, the power in the postdecapitation EEG did not differ between the two groups. This might indicate that either the power of the EEG does not correlate well with consciousness or that consciousness is briefly regained in the anesthetized group after decapitation. Remarkably, after 50 seconds (awake group) or 80 seconds (anesthetized group) following decapitation, a high amplitude slow wave was observed. The EEG before this wave had more power than the signal after the wave. This wave might be due to a simultaneous massive loss of membrane potentials of the neurons. Still functioning ion channels, which keep the membrane potential intact before the wave, might explain the observed power difference. Two conclusions were drawn from this experiment. It is likely that consciousness vanishes within seconds after decapitation, implying that decapitation is a quick and not an inhumane method of euthanasia. It seems that the massive wave which can be recorded approximately one minute after decapitation reflects the ultimate border between life and death. This observation might have implications in the discussions on the appropriate time for organ donation.

My preferred method was to drop them into a jar filled with isoflurane fumes and close the lid.  I didn’t like that the veterinary staff gassed animals with CO2, since that would probably make them panic instead of anesthetizing them.  With pentobarbital (given before perfusions), I didn’t like giving intra-peritoneal injections and I didn’t feel as comfortable that the animals were fully anesthetized.  It could take a while before their legs would stop kicking in the tail-pinch test.

The best was to stop morally injuring myself and do something else.  The meat industry doesn’t even have a semi-convincing noble motivation like science or the prevention of human suffering.

The entire economy hurts animals.  I can’t exactly say that designing more humane slaughter facilities is wrong, but I wouldn’t have the stomach for it as a career.  I don’t like deciding when something dies and not being sure I have a good reason.

What does it mean for Temple Grandin to have a lot of empathy for cows?

Apparently at NASA it’s OK to cry because you can’t send a gadget to Mars anymore.  Is there anything you’re allowed to cry about in the cattle industry?  Is that related to the fact that the cattle industry is based on hurting things?