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In advertising jargon, the alpha puppy is the cool kid who does everything first: the first one to rip their jeans on purpose, or wear their backpack on one shoulder instead of both, or what-have-you.

Not quite the same as an early adopter—that kid spots and adopts the trend while it’s just getting started, whereas the alpha puppy does it first.

“That sounds like me!” you say. “I’ve always been different from the other kids!” But honey, unless you have the money or the magnetism, you’re just a garden-variety weirdo.

The alpha puppy is likely to be an "it" girl (or boy): charismatic, attractive, creative, possibly rich and famous, definitely on the A-list. But this week’s alpha puppy could just as likely be a marginalized youth from the ghetto. As long as we get something new and sexy.

The alpha puppy is the trendsetter, the innovator, the one cool-hunting advertising scouts want pictures of, the one called upon to endorse products, the one companies send their products to for free, hoping the alpha puppy will be seen wearing their stuff.

Since marketing to teens requires the selling of “cool,” marketers must rush from one alpha puppy to the next, discarding them once everyone in the mainstream has adopted the trend.

But happily, when the day comes that we are all alpha puppies, there will be no more youth culture marketing.

There was recently a few writeups discussing the strawmen often used in debating vegan diets. I am not a vegan, but I am a vegetarian, and I have been encountering these arguments for three decades. There is a lot of things I would like to offer to the discussion, but most of them involve me giving half-baked opinions on anthropology, nutrition, archaeology and a host of other subjects that I don't understand, putting myself on the same pseudoscientific level as the people who believe implicitly that our caveman ancestors evolved to hunt buffalo on the savanna. The origins of human society from our hominid ancestors isn't something that professional anthropologists agree on, so I am not going to throw my hat into the ring to try to explain it.

But I will talk about things I do have experience with. Specifically, street dogs in Chile. This is actually the second newly developed country that I have encountered with large amounts of street dogs, the first being Taiwan. As a normal part of my life in Chile, whether I am walking through a rural area outside of Santiago, a "tough neighborhood" like Lo Espejo, or the swanky green lawns of modernistic architecture around Manquehue, I encounter a lot of street dogs. Most street dogs associate themselves with a given corner, usually where they are given food and water by local residents. In one area, the Ciudad Empresarial, they even have collars stating that they are officially registered stray dogs, which says something both about Chilean sentimentality and bureaucracy.

In almost two years of living in Chile, I have never been attacked, or even threatened by a stray dog. Some of these dogs are large, sometimes they are in groups, looking like stereotypical junkyard dogs, but I have never been threatened, let alone attacked. In fact, most of the time, dogs don't even notice you. If there might be food involved, or if you surprise them, they might lift their head and look around, but in general, they don't get too excited. Not in the threatening way of a scary dog or in the tail wagging way of a dog looking for approval. They are just kind of there.

It might be bad to look at street dogs, implicitly cared for, and often socialized to be around humans, as a "natural" way to look at dogs, especially compared to natural "wolf packs". But it is a more natural way than dealing with domesticated dogs.

Because domesticated dogs, no matter how aggressive, are basically puppies. They don't have to worry about the imperatives of energy and safety that a mature predator in the wild has to. And, on the other hand, they never have the sense of comfort of naturally establishing territory that a mature predator would have, so they are kept in constant anxiety. Even the most aggressive guard dog is basically in a playpen, because they don't have to deal with the consequences of what they do. When they attack, they don't have to worry about the expenditure of energy and possibility of injury of a fight. They have a substitute parent who will feed them and clean them after they are done. Unlike a natural predator, who has to worry that even a victorious fight will leave them with an infected wound or lost tooth, a domesticated dog can go into full territorial aggression mode, not worrying about the consequences. And as an animal who is kept in a state of dependence, who knows on some level that it is still being fed, as if it were a puppy, by parents, it lives in a constant state of anxiety, knowing that it has to look to group members to stay alive. All of which are, on the whole, not present with dogs who live on their own, or even semi-independently. For dogs, pack mentality, and territorial aggression, both things we think of as natural traits, are actually contributed to by human domestication. All those alpha dogs are really alpha puppies.

And this is further reflected when we come to people who have adopted the psuedoscientific language of predatory animals to describe human life. Men who are alpha dogs are basically another type of "alpha puppy". Aggressive and risky behavior, as well as spending energy on domination and displays of strength, only make sense when there isn't a need to conserve energy or deal with the consequences of risks. Whether its on a hunting trip or a bar brawl, being an "alpha male" only is possible because it is supported by lots of free energy, and the knowledge that a minor injury won't turn infectious. Which is how this ties into the discussion of veganism: if even wolves in packs only attack the smallest or weakest member of a herd, or preferably rabbits, or berries and apples, then spindly humans with our weak incisors and non-tearing jaws can only manage to hunt by subsidizing the practice heavily. The idea of a "predator" is an idea that humans created, and then they view their own creation as a natural template to be followed.

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