Archive for June, 2009

This Brother just ain’t BIG enough!

June 24th, 2009

Rowan Manahan has an excellent post on the attempts made by the city of Bozeman, Montana, to find out everything it can about job applicants by insisting they “list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.”

Those Bozeman bozos are amateurs! They forgot the following:

  • A copy of every key you own, labelled to indicate what it opens
  • A copy of every key everyone in your family owns, labelled to indicate what it opens
  • Your mobile phone
  • A DNA sample from all your sexual partners, ever
  • A video of all your sexual activities, ever
  • Detailed notes on your sexual fantasies, differentiating between those that you would enact given the chance and those that even you consider too obscene to enact
  • A notarised copy of your voting history
  • A list of all the people about whom you have ever said: “I could kill that bastard!”
  • Details of your religious beliefs
  • Details (dates, times, circumstances) of every time you have ever exclaimed “God damn it!” or “Jesus Christ!”
  • A list of every publication you have ever read
  • A list of every country you have ever visited
  • The names, dates of birth, social security numbers and contact details of all your friends
  • The names, dates of birth, social security numbers and contact details of all your enemies

Vegetarian evangelism

June 15th, 2009

I haven’t eaten meat since 1979.

My reasons are sentimental. Basically, I am not prepared to eat anything I am not prepared to kill myself. However, I have never urged other people to give up meat. I’m not one of those whiners who is so insecure in their own beliefs that they have to try to persuade everyone else to stop eating meat too.

When I was a teenager, many meat eaters tried to persuade me I was wrong not to eat meat, as if they somehow felt that I was silently judging them. In response to their challenges, I latched on to any scientific or pseudo-scientific opinion to support my position. But that was because I was young. As I grew older, I realised I only needed two arguments:

  • Fuck off and mind your own business
  • I’ll eat what I want

By the time I hit my late twenties, people no longer felt the need to challenge me. Perhaps people assume a teenager doesn’t know what he is talking about.

Anyway, Manahan the Magnificent sent me a link to an evangelising piece about why people just aren’t designed to eat meat and he asked me what I thought.

Here are some key points from that article followed by my own point of view (as someone who loves fwuffy bunny wabbits).

“Eating meat is a relatively recent phenomenon in human evolution.”
Yes, compared to lions, but it is still at least 2.5 million years. In any case, it is a phenomenon in human evolution. Should lions become vegetarians because their ancestors were?

“eating meat was an essential step in human evolution… While this notion may comfort the meat industry, it’s simply not true, scientifically.”
Actually, scientists believe that scavenging for bone marrow and brains is what caused our own brains to grow larger. In any case, all evolutionary steps are taken in response to a change or an opportunity in the environment. The word “essential” is disingenuous and so is arguing against it. Whether essential or not, it happened.

“the birth of agriculture only started about 10,000 years ago at a time when it became considerably more convenient to herd animals”
Yes, but the implication that meat eating began only 10,000 years ago is disingenuous. People began herding animals that they had already been hunting for millions of years because it was an easier way to get meat.

“To this day, meat-eaters have a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other problems.”
Because they eat too much meat, not because they eat it at all. Oriental men have a higher rate of illnesses related to Oestrogen Dominance because soy contains the plant equivalent of oestrogen (phyto-oestrogen). Do we conclude that people should not eat soy at all?

“Leakey notes that ‘[y]ou can’t tear flesh by hand, you can’t tear hide by hand…'”
Perhaps modern humans cannot.  Who can say what feats of strength humans were capable of two million years ago. In any case, why are we the only ape that can throw a spear? Why did we evolve that particular skill?

So how come we evolved the ability to throw spears?

So how come we evolved the ability to throw spears?

“carnivores have short intestines so they can quickly get rid of all that rotting flesh they eat”
If that were true (notice the emotive language), they would shit rotting flesh instead of, well, shit. In any case, they have shorter intestines because they are carnivores, not omnivores. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would argue that humans are carnivores. The article should compare humans and other, similar, omnivores like chimpanzees. Comparing humans with animals that are exclusively carnivorous is (you know what I’m going to say) disingenuous.

“And most of us (hopefully) lack the instinct that would drive us to chase and then kill animals and devour their raw carcasses
Bollocks. That’s social conditioning, not instinct. The word “hopefully” gives away the author’s real motivation, which is not scientific fact, but emotion.

“Thousands of years ago when we were hunter-gatherers, we may have needed a bit of meat in our diets in times of scarcity, but we don’t need it now.”
True, but that does not mean we are optimal without it, nor does it imply any lack of moral fibre in those who do eat meat.

“our evolution and physiology are herbivorous, and ample science proves that when we choose to eat meat, that causes problems”
The first statement is absolutely untrue, as evidenced by tool marks on fossil bones dating back 2.5 million years. As for the second statement, for every study there is a counter study. So if I chose to eat a bacon sandwich right now, what would happen? Would my intestines explode?

“it’s convenient for people who like to eat meat to think that there is evidence to support their belief that eating meat is “natural” or the cause of our evolution.”
The corollary is also true for tree-hugging yoghurt-knitters.

“But in fact top nutritional and anthropological scientists from the most reputable institutions imaginable say categorically that humans are natural herbivores”
WHO says that? And how do they explain the tool marks in the fossils? Is it God testing us (again)? Other “top” scientists will no doubt say the opposite. Mostly, each side will say whatever supports their emotional prejudice.

“It may be inconvenient, but it alas, it is the truth.”
It is Kathy Freston‘s truth. Why does she feel the need to make it everyone’s truth?

I would agree that many people would be healthier if they ate less meat and that the environment would be healthier if we produced less meat globally, However, no anthropological or pseudo-palaeontological argument stating the humans were never supposed to eat meat is required for those two points to be true. In fact, this kind of nonsense detracts from real arguments for producing less meat globally.

If someone doesn’t want to eat meat because the idea of killing an animal upsets them, they should just say so. That’s a good enough argument for me.

Musing #43

June 15th, 2009

I don’t trust evangelists. No matter what they are selling, they all want the same thing. They want you to stop thinking for yourself and think the way they do instead. They are small, insecure people. I am not.

Sardines in The Joy

June 12th, 2009

I am somewhat bemused by a news report on the RTE website about violence among prisoners in Mountjoy Prison. The article implies that the violence is related to overcrowding at the prison.

I believe that prisons should do what they can to rehabilitate criminals so as to minimise the risk of repeat offences and part of that rehabilitation should be reasonable living conditions, so I do I think the authorities should be taking steps to ease overcrowding, perhaps by building another prison.

However, the people really to blame for overcrowding in prisons are the criminals.

If you are unhappy about overcrowding in The Joy, stop breaking the law, yiz gobshites!