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Thanks to Temple Grandin’s book Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior, I now know how to choose a smart horse (the higher the hair whorl at the top of the face, the more intelligent the animal). I know why white lines keep cows from crossing the road almost as effectively as expensive cattle guards (cows don’t like visual contrast). I even know that Grandin, as an 18-year-old student of behaviorism, found B.F. Skinner to be a lech (“Then he tried to touch my legs. I was shocked. I wasn’t in a sexy dress”). And I’ve marveled at the thought processes of the author, whose autism has informed her ability to understand animals. What I haven’t learned is how I can justify reading about Grandin’s work to develop “humane” processes for slaughterhouses, being horrified by it, and still contemplating Szechwan beef for lunch. I guess it’s my animal nature. Grandin reads at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Pamela Murray Winters)