Reclaiming the Conversation: “Cowardice”

Whenever there’s a new terrorist attack such as the May 2017 attack on Ariana Grande concertgoers in Manchester, I hear myriad voices proclaiming it “cowardly” or an act of “cowardice.” I always thought this was strange. What in particular about a suicide bomber coincides with the meaning of “cowardice”?

From dictionary.com, cowardice is: “lack of courage to face danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc.”

Suicide bombers are perhaps the ultimate facers of danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc. Even non-suicide terrorists face substantial danger and difficulty.  If anything, terrorists virtually fearless; one wishes they were more fearful (fearful enough not to do such horrible things). Continue reading “Reclaiming the Conversation: “Cowardice””

Reclaiming the Conversation: “Climate Change”

I remember asking my astrophysicist uncle what he thought about “Global Warming” (the old name for “Climate Change”) somewhere around 1990; he replied, “It’s an interesting theory.”  I think that’s kind of where a lot of [non-ecologist] scientists were at the time.

Even though “Climate Change” as caused or exacerbated by human activity seems to have gained something of a scientific consensus, I think it is ultimately a catchy, but virtually useless phrase. Yes, of course the climate changes over time – this has been happening since before humans walked the earth and is, to some degree, a natural occurrence. Ultimately, this is what weakens the environmentalist stance vis-à-vis this oblique terminology.

Actual climate change is but a part of the problem, or more accurately, a consequence arising from the problems of human technology and terra-forming. I say trash (& do not recycle) the phrase, “Climate Change,” – let’s talk about the real issue, which is Destruction of Natural Resources or Non-sustainability.

Continue reading “Reclaiming the Conversation: “Climate Change””

stepping sideways from police violence

I was deeply saddened this morning to learn of the Dallas sniper shootings during Black Lives Matter protest last night. I was upset that human beings (police officers) were murdered and also at the potential social impact of such violence (in maligning the Black Lives Matter movement, though I was glad that leaders of that movement have quickly denounced the shootings).

I would never condone that kind of violence, but I can somewhat understand what might have driven someone to that extreme. The rash of killings by police and the general lack of accountability could drive some to rage and despair.  How would it feel to realize that you might be murdered by a police officer at a routine traffic stop?  I’m white, so that’s very unlikely for me, but not so for many Americans of color; I can imagine living with that prospect could be so devastating as to feel completely adrift and hopeless. Continue reading “stepping sideways from police violence”

Veg, Vegetarian, Veg*n VS. Vegan

or Why vegans should come out of the “veg” closet and stop claiming parity with vegetarians.

When I was a child, I loved animals and dreamed of becoming vegetarian, though my parents forbade it. I knew that vegetarians were peaceful folks who lived in harmony with animals. Eventually, I was able to realize this dream, at 16 (on my first day of college). I was a typical lacto-ovo-vegetarian (I ate milk, egg and plant products, but no “meat”), thought nothing of animal parts used in non-food materials. Gradually, my childhood dream dissipated as I began to realize that my limited steps did not entirely coincide with a peaceful world.

While shopping one school break, I bought a real pair of blue suede shoes at a thrift store, but my middle sister pointed out that leather, like beef, comes from slaughtered cows (and I sadly returned them). Not long after, I asked a vegan friend in college why she didn’t eat eggs or dairy & she patiently explained her reasons. This got me to thinking, but I wasn’t sure I could make such radical changes; I did some experimenting and ended up going vegan some time later. Yet I still considered myself vegetarian, albeit a “pure” or “100%” vegetarian. I felt myself to be part of the larger family of vegetarians, including all who declined to eat animal flesh. Continue reading “Veg, Vegetarian, Veg*n VS. Vegan”

Vegan Mags: VH&F VS VN

To the best of my knowledge, there are 2 major vegan magazines, available at Whole Foods and some newsstands, Vegan Health & Fitness (VHF) and VegNews (VN); I am going to do a little comparison of the two.

Disclaimers: I used to be a subscriber to VegNews, so I’m basing my knowledge of VegNews on the memory of the many issues I read some years back (so some of the items I mention may have changed); I started reading Vegan Health & Fitness more recently (last year), so the comparison may be a bit unbalanced.  Also, I’m considering only print content, not online content.

Appeal

  • VN has a relatively wide appeal, to many with an interest in vegan, vegetarian or “veg” lifestyle, even those with no interest in health.
    Content spans recipes, food product reviews, nutrition, travel tips, animal news, celebrity news, veg weddings/relationships, humor and occasional social issues, all with a “veg” spin.
    Target audience seems to be primarily white, well-to-do vegetarians and vegans with disposable income (e.g., to travel).
  • VHF has a relatively narrow appeal, to those with an interest in physical fitness [exercise], health and veganism.
    Content is mainly interviews with and articles on health-conscious vegans and fitness professionals, along with some recipes, nutrition info and occasional other tidbits.
    Target audience seems to be health-conscious vegans of all backgrounds, but primarily those in “prime” of life (20s-40s).

Continue reading “Vegan Mags: VH&F VS VN”

“Faux” Plant products are better for diet

Generally speaking, plant foods are less “calorie dense” than animal foods and if you’re trying to lose weight, reducing animal products can help.  Recently, I’d tried pointing this out to a friend who is trying to lose weight and they said something along the lines that “seitan” is roughly the same as “steak” (in terms of calories).  This got me wondering about the nutritional comparison of meat substitutes and other vegan “faux” products with the various animal products they’re meant to mimic, so I did a little research:


Seitan vs. Steak

    • Seitan  (3 oz) , Michael’s Savory, uncooked  {source}
      • Calories: 70 (may be more after cooking)
        • Cal. from fat: 0
      • Protein: 10g
      • Fat: 0
        • Saturated fat: 0
      • Cholesterol: 0
    • Sirloin Steak (3 oz), cooked   {source}
      • Calories: 210
        • Cal. from fat: 130
      • Protein: 20g
      • Fat: 14g
        • Saturated fat: 6g
      • Cholesterol: 70mg

Continue reading ““Faux” Plant products are better for diet”

Boston RELIEF

F#$% Boston Strong, we got Boston Relief over here.

1 year (+ a few days) since the original Boston Marathon Bombings and my worst fears of a 9/11-style train wreck of police state + violent revenge fantasy NEVER happened.  Sure, there was an unnecessary and largely pointless media frenzy and plenty of military style vehicles (and more violence) for the chase and capture of the bombers, which was scary at the time (as I described here and here). And I heard there was a huge and intimidating presence for the week leading up to the marathon this year (e.g., helicopter patrols and radiation testing). However, as far as I’m aware…

  • No wars were started in its name.  No lawless prison for un-charged “suspects” either.
  • No innocent strangers were assaulted based on their ethnicity or wardrobe by raging citizens.
  • No “security theater” was implemented (other than perhaps some specifically surrounding the marathon itself, which seems fairly legit to me) – I could still take the subway without being hassled and walk around freely for the intervening year (unlike after 9/11 when merely taking the train could be an ordeal).
  • And 99% of the marathoners finished the marathon this year (of 32K+ runners and 1 million+ spectators).  I was not watching, of course, since I am not a running fan, but jolly good for them.

Stronger is Stranger
(or Chinese finger trap on my ventricle)

stranger is release
wound so tight you can’t unlatch
squeeze in to set free

Smarter Eating: Micro vs. Macro

This was a blog entry I posted in a work community forum (Smarter Eating), and I thought it was worth sharing on my regular, public blog:

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Many of us tend to conceive of issues like health at the microscopic level, that is, what effects do particular substances have on us, specifically on our cells and tissues?  For example, how does a diet high in cholesterol affect our blood vessels (answer: atherosclerosis) or why do we need Vitamin A (answer: eyesight/immune function)?   These are certainly valid considerations and a good understanding of nutrition has led many to conclude that most of us humans need a diet primarily sourced from plants, including a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and grains.

However, if you consider “health” from a macroscopic level, expanding our consideration outside of our bodies and immediate circle of friends and family, to include the well-being of human beings across the globe, plants, animals and the environment, the case for a plant-based diet is even more compelling.

1. Plant agriculture is much more efficient than animal agriculture.  Most farmed animals simply convert plant energy into their own energy (for moving or reproduction), just as humans do when they eat plants. After significant quantities of plants are eaten, to then convert the animals (or their reproductive fluids) into human food products, requires a lot more energy and resources (to grow the plants, to store and transport the plants, not to mention the significantly larger quantity of plants & plant energy compared to the relatively little animal energy available for animal agriculture).  This wasn’t such a problem 100 years ago, but with 7 billion humans on the planet (and expected to keep growing), animal agriculture is completely unsustainable. Continue reading “Smarter Eating: Micro vs. Macro”

LuQ for Prez

Since I turned 35 (last year), I like to fantasize about what I’d do if I were elected Supreme Leader of the United States of America. My fantasies are exaggerations of possibility, of course, but I like to think they’re reasonable exaggerations, which are technically feasible and almost socially & legally possible, as opposed to god-like changes.  Here are a few of my bigger ideas / fantasy campaign promises:

Mandatory Sterilization for All

This is less about population control than it is about addressing the problems of abortion and unwanted children.  There’s such heated debate about whether abortion should be allowed, wouldn’t it be better to stop the root cause of this, which is unwanted pregnancy?  Here’s the concept:

Full-Frontal Marriage: Here & Queer

Last week, the Supreme Court of the USA struck down a key provision of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (the provision which prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by certain states and districts) in United States vs. Windsor and denied the proponents of California’s anti-same-sex marriage amendment standing to defend their proposition (which a lower court had made an injunction against) Hollingsworth vs. Perry.

This is indeed good news for same-sex couples, who can now marry in California, the most populous state, and will have federal recognition of their legal state marriages (in those 10+ states/districts where it is currently legal), receiving all the previously witheld federal benefits.  Moreover, married same-sex couples previously endured second class marriages, in which they were recognized by states, but considered “unmarried” by the federal government. Now, having the “second class” stigma removed reframes those same-sex marriages as completely legitimate relationships, which is an important cultural signifier that will help us move towards full equality.

Also, although, unlike Lesbian and Gay folks, some Bisexual and Trans folks were previously able to take advantage of full marriage benefits (depending on their partner and current legal sex), this helps to removes any gender bias that might restrict their choices (at least, in those 10+ states/districts in which it is legal). I believe this will help us move towards more open same-sex relationships and [trans/queer]gender expression, which is definitely a good thing for me.  🙂

However, while I totally support same-sex marriage (because marriage benefits shouldn’t be exclusive to opposite-sex couples and for reasons stated above and elsewhere in this blog), I wonder that we’re missing a few significant points: Continue reading “Full-Frontal Marriage: Here & Queer”