May 1st

Happy May Day!

For those of you lost, May Day is a celebration that originates from two different places… Most recently from celebrations similar to U.S. Labor Day, and often referred to as Labour Day or International Workers’ Day in other countries. In the U.S., it originally commemorated the beginning of a standard 8-hour work day (as opposed to much longer) that was secured by a combination of unions and other labor-related groups. It originally was tied to remembrance of the Haymarket Affair, a police riot in Chicago during a strike in which several protesters were shot or later executed. The federal government instituted the holiday to draw attention away from the traditional celebrations tied to labor movements.

It’s also a group of traditional festivals from Celtic and Germanic cultures dating to pre-Christian ceremonies surrounding Beltane. The focus of those celebrations is in early May, and varies with the most important day occurring May 5-7. Some groups have heavily secularized the holiday, and others celebrate it as a religious tradition. This is where the May Pole originates.

Saturday ~ May 1, 2010 by b

Posted in nature,news | Comments Off on May 1st |

Vegans eat oytsers

There’s an article that a vegan. ahem. alleged “vegan” (with scare quotes) claiming that oysters are perfectly vegan.

No. Oysters are not vegan.

Oysters belong to the animal kingdom. That means that they, any entertainment they provide, or anything they produce (including pearls) is not vegan. There is no question about this within the vegan community. The standard is never “is a central nervous system consciously receiving pain”. That standard is manufactured by people who are not vegetarians, as a stereotype that is humorous to them.

Many people draw lines on the dinner plate that they will not cross. Some will not eat flesh from mammals. Some will not eat chickens, but eat fish. Or pig but not cow. Or cow but not deer. Or cow, if it watched tv or whatever is supposed to make them comfortable in captivityThere are many, many such lines.

The point of being vegan is to avoid drawing fuzzy arbitrary lines at all. The vegan movement, actually founded just after ww2 came about precisely because a group of vegetarians were fed up with other vegetarians drawing arbitrary lines and then claiming to have exactly the same motivation and ethical standards. Quite literally, the original point was that vegans do not draw lines about whether or not oysters are ok. Their cells are from the animal kingdom. Full stop. No questions of sentience, intelligence, conciousness, or pain are considered.

A line in the sand like “oysters but not fish” is completely arbitrary. There’s not really science proving which animals achieve conscious self-awareness, and anyone claiming that they’ve found such a line is merely inserting their own, mostly emotional, opinion in the place of science, and then saying the questions have been answered to thei

Saturday ~ April 10, 2010 by b

Posted in nature,veg | Comments Off on Vegans eat oytsers |

Haitian quake 2010

So, now seems like the appropriate time to pimp the charities I like best…:

MSF / Doctors Without Borders is a perreniel favorite of mine. Doctors to anywhere in the world (like Gaza and Afghanistan) for emergency care.

The American Red Cross. Not my favorite for a variety of reasons, but they do a very large job well. Text 90999 with the single word “Haiti” to make a $10 donation directly from your cell phone, repeatable up to 3 times. It’s apparently really legit.

Several groups have banded together under an umbrella organization named the Animal Relief Coalition of Haiti (ARCH). Those groups include: HSUS and HSI (the international counterpart), ASPCA, WSPA, American Humane, and Best Friends. Prior to the quake there was no infrastructure in the country for animal rescues, no veterinary care, no shelters, and no local relief groups like an SPCA.

Saturday ~ January 16, 2010 by b

Posted in nature,news | Comments Off on Haitian quake 2010 |

reasons I’m vegan

Some things I like about being vegan:

  1. 88 animals per year
  2. fresher food, especially when chefs cook special orders
  3. healthier, which is useful
  4. not contributing to the veal industry
  5. environmental impact of trading a low-mpg SUV in for something with fuel efficiency
  6. being a pacifist 24-7
  7. producing more food for people in need
  8. being a member of a secret society with arcane rituals, hell-bent on world domination by 2015
  9. bean burgers
  10. grilled vegetables aren’t just a side dish, so I can grow dinner.
  11. eating desert first. if there’s fruit.
  12. nearly no cross-contamination in the kitchen. cross-contamination is gross.
  13. milk stays fresher, longer, and stores in the pantry for months
  14. vegan products are frequently organic
  15. carbs
  16. naked peta fur protesters are on my side
  17. cool flair
  18. less pesticide in my diet
  19. pre-cooked food might be good to eat without cooking
  20. can afford the good snacks at the expensive hippy grocery stores
  21. convenient excuse to try out any new restaurants
  22. kitchen thermometers are only needed for candy
  23. the steak knives stay sharp, even though I use them
  24. Hollywood starlets are ever-so-slightly more likely to go out with me. Slightly.
  25. an international organization wants to run ads during Super Bowls, to convince the world that vegans are teh hottness
  26. desert and brunch are completely indistinguishable
  27. my own menu (or used to) at Disney World
  28. I use the word “juicy” to accurately describe my food
  29. soy lattes
  30. thinsulate works better than wool
  31. pleather is the new leather
  32. my car seats are never sticky or hot enough to burn skin on a hot day in the sub-tropics
  33. if my food were to ferment, it would be consumed at a party rather than threatening disease
  34. can say I’m committed with a fair amount of authority and credibility
  35. no danger of microwaved fish smell
  36. finding a place to eat dinner with someone on a restricted diet isn’t very difficult
  37. vegan sushi

Dark Skies

Dark Skies Awareness is a IYA (International Year of Astronomy) project to educate the public about light pollution and why dark skies matter. They’ve made a video that explains the problem of dark skies disappearing, and how individuals can reduce the light pollution they create.

Friday ~ May 15, 2009 by b

Posted in environment,nature,space | Comments Off on Dark Skies |


Hanna moved through my area today, mostly as a tropical storm as it passed over head. To me, it seemed somewhat weak for a tropical storm.

I didn’t lose power at any point. When I took my garbage down to the dumpster around lunchtime, it was sunny, in the 80s, and there was no storm debris around the road or parking lot. Last night there was a driving rain, but definitely did not soak as much of the wooden decks around my building as several other storms in the past year. In the middle of the rain, around midnight, the street behind me had a couple of inches of running water at one end, something I’ve seen many times before. The various hills and valleys around the nearby apartments created a system of small fast-moving streams that didn’t leave any grass behind. Thus, continuing the display of red clay that I’ve had out my kitchen window for several years.

I didn’t go into the surrounding area, but apparently there was flooding, power outages, and light wind damage within a few miles. But still, we did get a bit lucky, and in my immediate area we were even luckier than average for this time.

Saturday ~ September 6, 2008 by b

Posted in nature,news | Comments Off on Hanna |

expulsion and hypocrisy

I recently stumbled across a past podcast of Skepticality, an interview with some of the people interviewed in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

Suffice to say the scientists were not pleased about being interviewed on false pretenses. Even less amusing, at least one scientist was denied admission to the movie he was in.

On a personal note, if science is a form of religion in the minds of some right-wing fundamentalists, why aren’t they vigorously defending the free speech of scientists? Is democracy really that scary?

Tuesday ~ April 22, 2008 by b

Posted in geek,nature | Comments Off on expulsion and hypocrisy |


So, I am a big fan of science. It explains a lot of things in the physical universe, shows us a way to categorically describe and predict that universe, and actually has brought us some handy social concepts like liberal democracy. Also, it’s just neat to see how stuff really works. One of the basic underlying principles that distinguishes science from other endeavours is that other scientists should be able to re-run any scientific experiment, and verify the results. In other words, an experiment must demonstrate that some process reliable changes the world in a specific way.

I ran across a digg post on the multiverse.

But it does tend to sensationalize the subject, which I’ve found a lot of science articles do. Parallel universes might take many, many forms in several different theories in different areas of science. Not all of them include clones of us doing nearly the same thing, although it’s hard to discount that as a real possibility given enough universes.

Which makes me wonder… in a “science” article, why would it be so important that I could see another reality where, maybe, I don’t forget my car keys or even don’t have some personal tragedy happen? I’m still right here, in a universe where those things did happen. Personally, I think it would be pretty cool to see the other scientific and technical ramifications, like potential energy sources – whole universes, perhaps. Or knowledge about the physical creation and history and predicted future of our own universe. Those are the sorts of things science is interested in in the first place. Or heck, a good description of what space or time or even matter look like in the first place. Isn’t it obvious to everyone that, well, scientists might be able to make that kind of knowledge useful?

Sure, it’s nice that scientific ideas get some screenplay – even if they are at the bleeding edge of science and considered controversial and unproven.

It’s just one of those things that bugs me. Scientists talk about the real impact of their research all the time, usually in relation to other scientific research. Yes, some of it seems esoteric and science is not engineering or a factory production line. It does not exist for the sole purpose of monetary profit. But, the rub is that it’s conducted for reasons a bit more important than fodder for pop culture and movies. Reporting on science as if it’s an interesting curiosity that merely proves or disproves science fiction doesn’t really strike at the story going on in the real world.

For example, there’s the huge impact on philosophy, the critiques and debunking of the anthropic principle and intelligent design, not to mention the role that science has had in technology and influencing human society to democratize and empower individuals.

Monday ~ December 31, 2007 by b

Posted in nature | Comments Off on science |


A British man has eaten corgi meatballs to protest Prince Phillip’s alleged beating to death of a fox during recent fox hunting.

OK, I have to say that’s disgusting and disturbing, but less so than the fox hunt itself. Regardless of whether one of the most privileged men in the world killed another kind of canine by shooting or beating. Personally, I think I’ll choose to protest by pointing out the royal twit who gets off on violence against furry mammals.

Thursday ~ May 31, 2007 by b

Posted in nature,veg | Comments Off on ew. |

ninja hippies

Went to the Grassroots Festival this past weekend. Picked up music from HuDost and the Carolina Chocolate Drops as a result. You should check them out. I was selective in choosing their CDs.

OK, so several thousand hippies packed onto a farm – for the sake of argument, I’ll consider myself one – is quite a sight. I did actually see a goth kid, in makeup, in attendance with his hippie friend. I also saw hippies in various flavors, including many of the sort who don’t change clothing and dance in a circle to all music. The food was naturally awesome and veg-friendly. I listened to many musicians off-stage, practicing and giving tips to each other. I even picked up a guitar for about 12 seconds to play a C-major scale and satisfy someone’s desire to hear me play something.

Also, slept basically backstage in a tent. That was loud at first, but also kinda cool in that it was nice to wake up outside, and go to sleep listening to music.

As explanation, myself and my co-traveler sported bags that looked vaguely like ninja sword bags. Other reasons we may have been called ninja hippies are left as an exercise to the reader.

Tuesday ~ April 24, 2007 by b

Posted in music,nature | Comments Off on ninja hippies |

« older posts