Saturday, September 20, 2014

Disquieting Vegetarians

I have many friends and acquaintances who are vegetarians, especially at work.  At a hospital, whole departments can tend that way.  I don't often talk with any of them about their reasons.  I imagine they vary among the various elements of health, identification with creatures with faces, and disgust at eating things with blood, fat, and muscle.  None of those moves me greatly, but those make sense to me.

Twice this week I have gotten into chats with vegetarians who were quite emphatic when discussing human beings in another context - overcrowding in her once-small childhood village for one, general coarseness and deterioration of culture for the other - how much they disliked people in general and considered animals more valuable.  They didn't tie it in to their vegetarianism, and I didn't think it was nice to do so myself. It was the first time I'd made this association.

The dual experience prompted me to think back over other conversations in my lifetime.  Obvious selection bias here.  I remembered other vegetarians who had large swaths of humanity they pretty openly disliked.  This just creeps me out.

BTW, the sound of gunfire in the distance at present.  Either hunters, or hunters practicing.  Couldn't do it myself, because I'd hate to succeed.  Wouldn't like to butcher an animal.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Challenges


I'm going to say that it looks like a pretty good list, and I have to figure that Richard Smalley, who is smarter than I am and has apparently thought about this a lot, should be listened to. Here is his site discussing this. Here is Smalley's wiki bio.

A few things jump out at me:  Population is #10, yet that's the one highlighted with picture and stats. Environment, which includes a whole lot of things in addition to climate change, is still only #4.  I wonder where AGW would rank in Smalley's calculations if it had to stand alone.

Even those there's plenty of interconnection among these and sharp lines are difficult to draw, it is instructive that Water ranks so high.  I would have thought that once remembered, it would have been #1, in fact. Yet there's not anywhere near as much national and international news and discussion about water as - well, as anything else on this list, and a lot of things that didn't even make it to the list.

I am reminded of Bjorn Lomborg, his book How To Spend $75 Billion to Make The World A Better Place, and the Copenhagen Consensus, which includes entries like corruption and trade barriers in addition to the water and sanitation entries. There's a TED talk, for those who like that sort of thing.

Forgetting

I am told that if someone hurts you, the best way of getting even is to forget it.  I understand that, but don't have the character. There is one aspect that is a revenge, as in the lyrics to the Johnny Cash version of "Streets of Laredo."

"Then go write a letter to my grey-haired mother,
"An' tell her the cowboy that she loved has gone.
"But please not one word of the man who had killed me.
"Don't mention his name and his name will pass on."

Yet I think something deeper is meant

Gay Stereotype



When I was in college, it was pretty readily observed that the arts had an unusually high percentage of gay men.  We thought the same probably applied to lesbians, though folks were less sure about that. Theories about this varied.  Some thought arts encouraged unmasculine behavior, others that people who were unusual in one way might well be unusual in another.

I tended to the view that there wasn’t anything automatic about this, and in a different culture the numbers might not be so.  If one were gay and had equal ability in both chemistry and design (or in business vs. drama), one would lean toward study and employment in the latter, because the social acceptance was greater there.  Also, those who had strong abilities in a field that was not accepting would simply be more quiet and circumspect about it, making their number appear smaller. I thought the phenomenon was therefore temporary.

Well, we have more data now. While music, dance, and sculpture are probably still more accepting of gays than other professions, the gap is much less dramatic. Yet had my theory been correct, we would have seen much more of a distribution at this point. There is some leveling, yet gays continue to be more prominent in the arts, and more comfortable making their livings there. Ability…lifestyle…association…byproduct of POV? Make your own guess.  It might be residual and on its way out, but I doubt it.  I can create theories why this might be – I imagine you can as well – but since I was wrong in 1974, I won’t venture a guess in 2014.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Suddenly Apropos

I tried one episode, and was a touch disquieted what issue came up.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ooh, Mainstream Media

First time I have linked from ESPN.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Zero Tolerance

"Zero Tolerance" is a way of saying "I care so much more about this than others." If politicians really meant it, they would apply that standard to Hollywood, to journalists, to entertainers, and to other politicians. But those groups can cause trouble for politicians, make fun of them, embarrass them, slyly hit back. NFL Players don't have that power - they are easy targets. Charlie Sheen, Nicholas Cage, Sean Penn, Alan Grayson - no tolerance? Athletes are famous, but their power over others is nonexistent.

One group is also whiter than the other, which may also figure into it. Attacking people who can't fight back is a lot of how politicians make their living.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Community

I was looking up a counselor's phone number and noticed that the agency is dedicated to serving the LGBTQA community.  I wondered "Is it a community?" Up in this neck of the woods, gays and lesbians have set events they interact in, but don't generally hang out much.  I don't know about the other subgroups. Maybe at colleges it's a thing.

Racial, ethnic, and religious communities have varying degrees of solidarity, depending on location, and the term clearly has meaning in some places.  There is an adoption community, I suppose, though most who are eligible don't belong. Various illnesses and conditions describe having communities, but I get the impression those are also not so cohesive. Hobbyists have a certain camaraderie that might qualify them for the Civil War re-enactment community, or extreme skiing community.

I think it is sometimes used in exaggeration, to pad the numbers or influence, or to reassure members that they are not alone, but part of a caring group. That seems sensible enough, but anything that is not strictly accurate can have its downsides.

Monday, September 08, 2014

NFL Suspensions

The league seems to be embracing contradictions. Infractions that affect the outcomes of games, or how people are able to go about their business are one set of problems that sports leagues consequate: gambling, PED's, impugning the integrity (as opposed to the intelligence and accuracy) of the refereeing.

Then there are things players do that make the league look bad: use recreational drugs, abuse women, make embarrassing political or social statements.  These also have their penalties. 

But both of these have changed culturally over time.  This is more noticeable in the second category currently, where making comments that seem denigrating to groups is regarded as just as bad as actually committing crimes. Also, some crimes are apparently worse than others, and appearances matter greatly.

I absolutely get it that the leagues are selling a product, and anything that interferes with selling product is up for review.  They can insist players wear pink - okay, they already do that - or sing only funkadelic music, or sponsor hamster homelessness relief or whatever they damn well please.  They are selling a mythology (winning games is subsidiary to this), and you either fit or you don't. But then they can't turn and say "But we are disapproving of this behavior because we think it's really, really, wrong," according to some objective standard.  Because a lot of things are really wrong, but we care about different ones in different decades.

Sorry, lost my head there.  Of course they can turn and say that, because they are also subject to the rules of the mythology, and must also sell product.  They can't do it honestly or honorably, but what is that?