Friday, May 4, 2018

Not all bad...

When you're concerned with non-human animals, it is easy to feel like everything is terrible and getting worse. But Stephen Pinker looks at the numbers in this video (if you don't want to read his last two books).

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Sorry Ethan

Anne and I regularly have burritos made with Lightlife's Gimme Lean (red cabbage, onion, peppers, V8, and seasonings). We also know people who use this with their non-vegetarian families in place of ground cattle, and the family has never known the difference.

It cooks like ground beef, in that you have to actually cook it for a while to brown it, etc.

Last night, though, we tried Beyond Meat's Crumbles in the same recipe.

They are basically ready to eat very quickly, with just a few minutes of heating. However, both Anne and I agree that they would not fool anyone. They're fine, but just not like ground cattle.

Note: we both find Tofurky's Slow Roasted Chick'n to be noticeably better -- more savory -- than Beyond Meat's Chicken.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The New Hotness: Jordan Peterson

So it seems like Jordan Peterson is everywhere now, from Fox News to Bill Maher to multiple events with Sam Harris.

I think it is worth remembering that the thing that made Jordan Peterson famous -- the issue for which he was willing to go to jail -- was his insistence on being disrespectful and rude to trans individuals.

I completely understand why the reactionary right loves Peterson. But I don't understand why anyone who claims to respect human rights would give him a platform. Why would you help advance the career of someone fundamentally dedicated to intolerance?

It is baffling. The only think I can come up with is tribalism -- Maher and Harris have been attacked by members on the left, so they see Peterson (and Charles Murray) as brothers-in-arms.

Tribalism is a very strong force, even among those who claim to be dedicated to reason and equality.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

We all have our blindspots

Excerpts from Ezra Klein's interview with Sam Harris:

Sam: I’m in the, once again, having the bewildering experience of agreeing with virtually everything you said there, and yet it has basically no relevance to what I view as our underlying disagreement.

Ezra: You have that bewildering experience because you don’t realize when you keep saying that everybody else is thinking tribally, but you’re not, that that is our disagreement.

Sam: Well, no, because I know I’m not thinking tribally ... It’s not tribalism. This is an experience of talking about ideas in public. ... That is not identity politics. That is my experience as a public intellectual trying to talk about ideas.

Ezra: That is what folks from the dominant group get to do. They get to say, my thing isn’t identity politics, only yours is. I will tell you, Sam, when people who do not look like you hear you telling them that this is just identity politics, they don’t think, “God he’s right. That is just identity politics.” They think this is my experience and you don’t understand it. You just said it’s your experience and they don’t understand it.

Shorter Sam Harris: The only people who are being honest are me -- a well-off white guy -- and those who agree with me. Everyone else who doesn't agree is lying about "the data" and just playing politically-correct identity politics.

And what is the tragedy here? What is the worst thing that deserves our attention and must be addressed? Hundreds of years of racial oppression and violence? Unarmed people being shot? Study after study showing continued racial discrimination?

No. It is a very rich, very famous, very influential white cross-burning guy being disliked by some people on the left. Again, Sam Harris:

I hadn’t paid attention to Murray. When I did read the book and did some more research on him, I came to think that he was probably the most unfairly maligned person in my lifetime. That doesn’t really run the risk of being much of an exaggeration there.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Can Your Own Bad Experience Remove Your Ability to Reason?

So Sam Harris has gone all-in defending cross-burning darling-of-the-KKK Charles Murray. And this week he says James Damore’s anti-woman anti-diversity memo at Google was “innocuous” and “scientifically accurate.” WTF? Has Sam ever heard of Gamergate? Has he ever talked with a woman trying to work in tech? Would he want his daughters to have to work with someone like Damore? (1, 2) (At least Sam’s guest noted that Damore has made himself the darling of the neo-nazis and alt-right — not so “innocent.")

Sam’s reasoning seems to be: “I’ve been attacked unfairly by ‘the left,’ and I’m a great guy. Therefore, if someone is attacked by ‘the left,’ they must be a great guy, too.”


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Enemy of My Enemy

My friends know I'm a big Sam Harris fan. I generally find him a thoughtful, open-mined individual who isn't tied to or limited by dogma.

Also, I am appalled at how he and his views have been misrepresented by "the Left" regarding Islamism (e.g., saying he wants to nuke the Islamic world). But in my humble opinion, this dishonest vilification has left Mr. Harris with a soft spot -- even a blind spot -- for others who are vilified by "the Left."

This has led him to hitch his star to the loathsome Fox News commentator Jordan Peterson, who has claimed that feminists have “an unconscious wish for brutal male domination.”

But nowhere has Sam's understandable hatred of the "politically correct" Left blinded him than his otherwise unimaginable determination to promote The Bell Curve author Charles Murray.

Ezra Klein at Vox has a new discussion of this bizarre bromance, which I learned about via an angry email from Sam Harris. Ezra's entire article is worth reading, especially the emphasis on history. But Ezra also gets at my main reaction to Sam Harris' podcast with Charles Murray: Why? Why write a book that, for all intents and purposes, claims blacks are simply dumber than whites? Why write a book for all the neo-Nazis and white supremacists?


Sam asked this of Charles three times in his podcast, and each time the answer was awful. Ezra quotes the transcript twice in the section "When questions about IQ become recommendations about social policy." I challenge anyone to read Murray's answers there and think he is an individual committed to human flourishing. To me, it reads of a white guy who doesn't like being taxed to try to address historical injustices and inequality.

If Murray isn't an actual overt racist, he's just another selfish white man who tries to "scientifically" argue that we should just let him keep all he's "earned" because trying to help disadvantaged groups is "futile."

And Sam: I think we should be careful about embracing and promoting someone so utterly beloved by avowed racists, even if that person happens to be attacked by the same people who attack you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

One Step for Animals' Latest Campaign

Please check out the first ~45 seconds of the Melinda Gates episode of The Ezra Klein Show.

Thanks to everyone who supports One Step, this will reach a quarter million of the most influential people in America (including everyone around Bill and Melinda Gates).

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Three Billboards at the Green-Balls

Anne: "What color is that?"
Me: "Um, blue??"

Me: "I love you madly."
Anne: "Eat more kale."

[Having seen a reference to Dr. Oz.]
Anne: "I'm not a real doctor, but I am a real worm."

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Best Birthday Present Ever

As Facebook will tell you in a week, my birthday is on January 2. The best present would be a donation to One Step's maximum-harm-reduction work. One Step's matching donor only gives what we raise, no more, no less. So your contribution is truly doubled. Thanks for your consideration!

Photo by our friends at Vegans with Chickens

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Chocolate Crinkles!

These are the best cookies I make, but they take two days. Here is a much simpler version.

What is tough about these is that the original version is so very egg-intensive. That is why I have found using silken tofu to be necessary to supply the amount of bulk to them. Using that much banana changes the flavor, and things like ground flaxseed don't fill out the cookies enough. I do add ground flaxseeds to the cookies, though, just for the added nutrition. These cookies are thus a health food!   ;-)

Given that they are so intensive (relative to the amount of time I have for cooking), I double the below recipe. I make half one day, and the rest a week later (the dough keeps in the fridge just fine). Also, I have tried to bake the cookies the same day as I put the dough together, and they just don't come out as good. I don't know why refrigerating them overnight is important, but there you are.

  • 1/2 C vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 4 squares (4 oz) unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 C sugar
  • 4 eggs worth of substitute (I use ~1/4 C soft silken tofu for each egg)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 C flour (not whole wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 C powdered sugar

Soften (but don't completely melt) chocolate as you prefer (I put in a glass 2 C measuring cup and microwave on low until soft). Mix oil, vanilla, and egg substitute. Add in sugar and blend well. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together. Mix that into the oil mixture. Chill dough overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly oil cookie sheets (unless you have nonstick sheets). Take about a spoonful of dough, shape into a ball, and roll in the powdered sugar. Place about 2" apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes; they should spread out like in the picture above. Feed to non-vegans, and when they say how great they are, admit that the secret ingredient is tofu!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How Thinking About Death Can Influence How We Live Our Lives

The introduction (the first seven minutes) to this Sam Harris podcast on death is extremely profound. It had a pretty significant impact on how Anne and I have been thinking about our choices and our near future, having to make decisions about our careers and money vs the rest of our lives and our time together.

Personally, I didn't find the interview itself very compelling. Given that we're so far behind on podcasts, we stopped listening 2/3rds through. But I strongly advise taking just seven minutes to listen to Sam's introduction. I have tears in my eyes just listening to it again.