Monday, September 16, 2019

The Anti-Vegan

One of my two favorite comedies of the last 30 years* (in addition to 30 Rock) is Parks and Rec (skip the first season). And possibly the best character is Ron Swanson.

* M*A*S*H is still my favorite comedy. But the first four seasons of The West Wing is still my favorite TV show ever.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Wow: #TeamChicken

The Ezra Klein Show with Leah Garc├ęs (released Monday, Sept. 9) is incredible. It is quite stunning to hear someone make many of One Step's points so clearly and forcefully, and to hear someone repeat, over and over, that "reducing suffering" is their only motivation.

Thanks to both Ezra and Leah!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Truly Curious

I wonder what percentage of people in the United States feel truly secure about their health insurance.

Number of people who go bankrupt every year because of medical bills:

UK - 0
France - 0
Spain - 0
Portugal- 0
Denmark - 0
Australia - 0
Iceland - 0
Italy - 0
Finland - 0
Ireland - 0
Germany - 0
Netherlands - 0
Sweden - 0
Japan - 0
Chile - 0
Canada - 0

United States - 643,000

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Reality of "Organic"

From New Scientist:

All fruit and vegetables contain large numbers of naturally occurring pesticides. These are the result of an arms race with insect herbivores.

If we tested for these, we would find that they are just as nasty as synthetic pesticides, but present in food in higher amounts. However, they don't affect us when we consume them because their concentration is only effective against insects, not anything large.

The real problem with organic farming is low yield. You need much more land to obtain similar yields to other forms of farming. I think we should be returning farmland to nature, not increasing its area.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Enlightenment

I'm re-reading Bob Wright's Why Buddhism Is True and listening to Dan Harris' 10% Happier podcast with Bob.

To me, enlightenment would entail fully internalizing that all there is is matter and energy. Just physics. I know this is true intellectually, but I don't live my life as such. My mind doesn't act with that fundamental understanding.

If I could fully, truly internalize that simple fact, the consequences would be enormous*. Really realizing, for example, that there is no free will - we are all just damaged biological robots - would be incredibly profound. 

It took me many years to not get angry every time something like a computer malfunctioned. In the absolute happiest time in my life, I still swore at my computer. I still sometimes get upset when technology malfunctions, let alone people.

If I could fundamentally recognize that everything in the universe as simply the interaction of matter and energy, I would be liberated. I would, I think, have achieved as much enlightenment as possible.

Wish me luck.   ;-)


*This isn't to say I wouldn't still try to reduce suffering. Even though it is just the product of the interactions of matter and energy, Suffering Is Bad. I think it is possible (and desirable) to distance myself from, say, my chronic back pain (although it is hard to imagine being sanguine about a Crohn's attack). But that wouldn't change the fact that it is Good to reduce suffering.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Great take-down of food snobs

The Fake Backlash to Fake Meat
Food activists angry about the processed nature of new plant-based meats are missing the point

The entire thing is worth a read; the conclusion:

"But when we find fault with a clearly beneficial innovation slotting neatly into modern food systems, perhaps the problem isn’t with the system, but with our own idealized vision for what an equitable, healthy, appealing food system should look like. Surely there are excesses and failures with the status quo, in the arenas of nutrition, corporate governance, worker rights, treatment of animals, and more. But while we work to actively address those issues, we might consider whether the systems we have designed over generations to feed billions of humans aren’t doing a relatively good job at that task already. After all, global hunger and undernourishment have been trending downward for decades, an achievement we should surely take into account.

"In the meantime, I would ask that we at least reclaim the concept of food processing as a feature, not a bug, of modern food systems. Doing so would prevent pointless squabbles over vague, value-laden categories and allow for honest, outcome-based efforts to produce healthy, affordable food that leaves behind as small an environmental footprint as possible. In a free society it is fine if some people still wish to differentiate themselves by eschewing these efforts. But the rest of us don’t have to take their tastes seriously."

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Short Note

We don't have a population (or climate, or environmental) crisis.

We have a greed and stupidity crisis.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Brilliant. "Makes me so happy."


Saturday, we went to see this exhibition, which was just brilliant. The Ansel Adams of our time.

Here are more. I sent this link to a friend, and she wrote back, "This makes me so happy."

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Amazing Photographs

We went to see an exhibition of this photographer today (after Ethiopian food). Great great stuff!

Here are two photos I took in the Grand Canyon.





Sunday, July 21, 2019

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Creating Real Change

"We cannot hope to make mankind less inconsistent, but we can work together to make a world less cruel. We need to ask always what's the best real possibility, not what's the ultimate ideal imagining."
-Adam Gopnik, A Thousand Small Sanities