Thursday, October 30, 2008


Hello non-existent blog readers. Feel free to not click on these links and not read these stories.

Vampire Bob
Riina's Story


Friday, October 24, 2008

No on Prop 8

Vote No on Prop 8. Obviously.

I will offer the first 80 people who donate $25 or more (between now and whenever I reach 80) to help defeat Prop 8 a signed print of this:

Here's what you need to do: forward your confirmation email to from No on 8 that proves you've donated $25 or more.

If you don't like that one, click for another you can have instead:


Monday, October 13, 2008

Lesbians are God's chosen people

Having considered the evidence, I am forced to the conclusion that God does not bear any ill will towards lesbians. In fact, lesbians are God's chosen people. Here's why:

1. Better sex. We have more orgasms more often than our straight sisters.
2. No unintended pregnancy. EVER.
3. If you do want to get pregnant, double the uteruses!
4. You don't have to navigate societal expectation of gender roles with your partner.
5. You don't have to filter through sexist assholes to find a decent partner.
6. Lowest rate of STD's of any group.
7. You can have "sleepovers" in high school and Mom never bats an eye.
8. It is *so* much easier for us to pick up chicks.
9. It can come in any color or size, always stays hard, and when you don't want it, it's gone.
10. Women know what women like.
11. We make slightly more money than straight women.

In conclusion, I find this to be very strong evidence that sexual orientation is not a choice, or else you straight guys would be SOL...


Monday, October 6, 2008

It's really racist, BUT...

So my dear wife and I gave ourselves an impromptu History of Cinema lesson today, which ended up exploring the racist cartoons in the 40's. One such gem was "Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs" out of the Merry Melodies collection, one of the infamous "Censored 11" that were banned from TV, primarily for racism. I won't bother with a synopsis; you can see it for yourself:

This is what it is; it's, you know, racist, and it's of its time. What really shocked me, though, was this line in the Wikipedia entry for the cartoon:

However, it is often named as one of the best cartoons ever made, in part for its African-American-inspired jazz and swing music, and is considered one of Clampett's masterpieces. (emphasis mine)
"Now that can't be true," I thought to myself. The thing is hardly a paragon of animated cinema. Also, it's REALLY, REALLY racist! The only jokes that don't rely on horrible African-American stereotypes for their humor are the ones about killing Japs and midgets. So I did some research. I read critics, scholars, and bloggers alike, and of course everyone acknowledges that the racism is quite problematic, but everyone pretty much agreed that this was a fantastic animated short. I didn't find anyone who disagreed. Bob Clampett's masterpiece, they really do call it.

What. The. Fuck.

Now, I consider myself fairly educated. I come to things such as this with an open mind, willing to look for the good in something that is on the whole bad. I actually appreciate some minimalist art. I wouldn't exactly call myself knowledgeable on the subject, but I have studied the history of animation. I *am* an animator.


Sure, it's got a nice score, and sure, it's got some energetic animation, but it's certainly nothing out of the ordinary. It seems to me to be pretty much standard-fare for the period. I see nothing groundbreaking, technically or artistically. There is only the race issue. People actually defend Clampett's handling of race here, and I can see where they are coming from: for it's time, it was the best there was. At least it had an all-black cast of characters, some black voice actors, was in-part scored by black musicians, and they did research in African-American nightclubs to get the slang down. And that's all very well and good. But look at the end product; it's still racist as hell. Every single bit of humor comes from white people thinking black people are inherently funny, what with their big lips and *crazy* dance moves! I also think it's strange that the characters are not just black people, they are blackface people. The only character without huge white lips is the leading lady, So White, and she is some sort of exotic, hypersexualized fantasy for every male character in the short.

So why all the worship? Why are we even trying to look past the racism to appreciate this cartoon's hidden merits? They're not that great, and I can't imagine why everyone thinks they are except out of some need to defend it from censorship. Why on Earth does this cartoon keep showing up on people's lists of top cartoons? Do I think people should be banned from seeing this piece of history? Of course not (although I agree that it shouldn't be aired on Cartoon Network anytime soon). But that doesn't mean there's much value in watching it beyond, "Hey, look. People were really racist back then." What a newsflash.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Grassfire Personifies The Ugly American

As a misguided protest against a proposed cap-and-trade emissions system (personally, I think cap-and-trade doesn't go far enough at all, but I digress), a group of dummies known as Grassfire has decided to cost themselves a bunch of extra money by wasting stuff and polluting.

Essentially, the group wants to prove that Global Warming is fake by being particularly wasteful on June 12. I think the thinking behind this stunt goes something like this "haha, I'm going to burn a lot of gas and the planet isn't going to get immediately warmer. Haha, I just disproved global warming!" Like most sciencephobic global warming/evolution/gravity/whatever deniers, Grassfire doesn't really understand any of the concepts they don't believe in. Even if there are "thousands of Americans" in the group, one day of wasting extra shit isn't going to make an immediate and noticeable difference in the planet's climate, and it isn't going to disprove anything. It's just going to cost the fools involved in this money and expose them as the dummies that they are.



I have been spending way too much time reading anti-gay rhetoric lately. It feels as if opponents of the CA marriage decision are having a contest to see who can write the most ridiculous argument against gay marriage. You gets points for lack of originality, confusing your religion with the government, somehow getting your insanity published in a (heretofore, anyway) legitimate publication, and just plain incorrect facts. Here are some recent entries in the ongoing contest.

Contestant #1: Melanie Scarborough with "Gay marriage not physically possible"
Summary of Argument: marriages between members of the same sex are not possible because the law requires an act of heterosexual intercourse before a marriage will be considered legal.
Lack of Originality - 7 points: well, the argument is a little bit different from the usual "gays will destroy marriage" hysterics, but Peter LaBarabera beat Melanie to it. Not to mention, I've heard a variation on this argument from at least one drunk straight guy at pretty much every party I've ever attended that included them ( do you, y'know, do it?)
Confusing Religion/Government - 3 points: The article loses points for failing to mention God, Jesus or the Bible, but Melanie has clearly confused Catholic Doctrine on marriage with "the legal standard applied to opposite-sex couples"
Heretofore Legitimate Publication - 8 points: Louisville Examiner. Pretty Good.
Incorrect Facts - 10 points: Melanie scores major points here for using just plain incorrect facts as the entire basis for her argument. Neither state nor federal marriage law requires an act of heterosexual intercourse before a marriage is considered valid. The validation of Civil marriages has to do with the signing and witnessing of a marriage license.
Total: 28/40 points

Contestant #2: Janet Folger with "How same-sex marriage points to the end of the world"
Summary of Argument: Biblical prophecy indicates that the time before the apocalypse with be like "the day of Noah". Some Torah scholars believe that the reason why God (allegedly) wiped out the world was because of gay marriage. Now we have gay marriage in California. Ergo, God is going to destroy the world (apparently, God only cares about whether California has gay marriage.)
Lack of Originality - 7 points: We've been hearing that gay marriage is going to destroy America since the 90s. Janet just takes it one step further here, suggesting that gay marriage is going to destroy the world/bring about the apocalypse.
Confusing Religion/Government - 0 points: Janet mentions her religion a bunch, but her argument doesn't hinge on the idea that the government does or should act to preserve her religion's laws. In fact, she seems to see the apocalypse with its attendant return of Jesus as a bad thing (because she "care[s] about civilization"), whereas if she were doing the religion/government thing properly, she would see it as good thing.
Heretofore Legitimate Publication - 1 point: World Net Daily gets one point for being a publication, but no points for being or having been legitimate at any point in time.
Incorrect Facts - 5 points: This article is mostly based on opinion/interpretation of biblical prophecy, so loses points for missing out on choice incorrect facts. However, a paragraph asserting that every prophecy in the Bible has come true makes up for this oversight. The assertion is dubious at best, since most of the evidence for the fulfillment of biblical prophecy is obtained from the Bible itself (the Bible said this...and then it said this...therefore it was correctly predicting this). For example, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to die and then rise from the dead (Matthew 20:17-19). Later, according the text, he does. The problem is that all of this was written after both events (the statement about death/resurrection and the death/resurrection) supposedly took place. Plus, there is no external evidence for either event. This is like referring to foreshadowing in a novel as a fulfilled prophecy. Not to mention, there are plenty of Bible prophecies which didn't come true at all.
Total 13/40 points

Contestant #3 Lewis and Lewis with "Come on Down to the Farm"
Summary of Argument: Roosters don't form same-sex partnerships, reproduction in farm animals requires two sexes, and Mr. Lewis thinks "it just ain't normal"...therefore gay marriage is bad.
Lack of Originality - 9 points: We've all heard these arguments before. Hell, "the plumbing is all wrong" is actually part of the lyrics. The Lewises miss out on a perfect score here for making their tired arguments into an (admittedly catchy) song.
Confusing Religion/Government - 7 points: Part of the song's refrain is "when God said love your brother, I don't think he meant like that" and a verse talks about needing to "get back to the Bible". Although the song does not directly state a connection between religion and government, religious doctrine is a major pat of the song's argument against civil marriage equality.
Heretofore Legitimate Publication - 0 points: So far, this has appeared only on youtube.
Incorrect Facts - 8 points: This song is based on the incorrect fact that homosexuality does not occur in animals. Although (due primarily to their lack of arms) you are indeed unlikely to see "two roosters walking arm in arm," gay sex in some form has been observed in thousands of animals, including virtually all domestic species. No farm animals form long term sexual partnerships with animals of the same or opposite sex. The song is also incorrect in asserting that reproduction in farm animals requires a member of each sex. While most conception on modern farms involves artificial insemination, cloning (especially of cows) is also practiced. While two cows may not be able to make a bull, two cows can indeed make a cow with the help of science. The song is additionally incorrect in asserting that this is at all relevant to civil marriage equality. The song is correct that sex education in this country is flawed, but absolutely incorrect in attributing that fact to gay people instead of the social conservative movement that the Lewises are themselves allied with, which has been pushing medically inaccurate "abstinence only education".
total 24/40 points

As an honorable mention, since it was published before the CA marriage decision and so, as a matter of procedure cannot be a part of the contest, I wanted to showcase this article from the Family Research Council's website. (They also have a video up of their panel discussion on gay marriage, which I'm sure is pretty rich, but which my computer is apparently unable to play).

This is Dr. J. Budziszewski with "Advancing a Heterosexual Public Ethic With Grace, Wit, and Natural Law." It hits the lack of originality, confusing religion with government and incorrect facts buttons the way Katrina hit New Orleans. Particularly impressive is a list of the author's proposed responses to theoretical gay/sane person "attacking" his arguments (obviously written for straight readers who have never met a gay person, since any gay person could easily refute every one of his statements). A selection:

Attack 1: You're intolerant--you reject me just because I'm different from you.
Reply: Let's be honest with each other. We both know you're the one who rejects what is different from yourself. You reject the challenge of the other sex.

Attack 2: I have a committed gay relationship.
Reply: The committed gay relationship is a myth. Research shows that homosexuals with partners don't stop cruising, they just cruise less.

Attack 3: You're demeaning my dignity.
Reply: I respect your dignity as a human being, but when you practice acts you'd be ashamed for heterosexuals to know about, you demean your own dignity.

Attack 4: There's nothing wrong with gay love.
Reply: Tell me what's loving about sex acts that cause bleeding, choking, disease, and pain. You might start by explaining the meaning of the medical term Gay Bowel Syndrome, or how people get herpes lesions on their tonsils.

Bad...Information...Overload. Self destruct in 5...4...3...2...1...


Friday, May 16, 2008

Dear Tradition, You Suck

and other responses to the California Supreme Court's decision on marriage.

1. I am getting married. On labor day weekend. Save the date all 0 people that read this blog. I will then (or rather, starting now but continuing until November and beyond) have to fight to keep my marriage legal. You will not take this away from me.

2. Doing stuff solely because some other people did it that way is dumb. Didn't your mama ever tell you that? (Now, Jimmy, if all the other kids jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?)

Okay, sure, I like some traditions. I like the Kentucky Derby. I like this one thing my sister and I do every year where we make each other one gift for Christmas, which is always more meaningful that whatever purchased crap everyone else buys for us and each other. I like Summer Pride season.

What I don't like is Tradition. Capital T. Our past has value, sure. Connecting with your ancestors and whatever is great. Being able to learn things from other people instead of each of us having to figure out everything through personal trial and error is a monumental part of what makes us, as humans, cool. But when you want to excuse all kinds of abuses and oppression and crap because your parents did it, or your grandparents did it, or some sheep herders in the desert 3,000 years ago did it, fuck you. Fuck you, FGM fans. Fuck you, racists. Fuck you, hegemonies. Fuck you "family values" dummies who don't think my family counts. Fuck all of you.

3. Traditional marriage is polygamy. Everybody likes to bleat about how gays and "activist judges" (also known as judges who don't agree with you) are redefining marriage, pretending that marriage has been a stable institution across time or that it has always meant what it means to you.

Helloooo in there. Across time and space, polygamy - pretty much FLDS-style, child-raping, wife-beating, rigid gender roles, whatever the local answer to gingham is polygamy - wins out as the standard of "traditional" marriage. Go take an anthropological survey course. Go read your own damn Bible.

One man one woman marriage? It was a redefinition of marriage. Also, marriage being something related to love rather than property rights. Also, everything that makes marriage something that gay people actually want to "redefine" rather than run the fuck away from.


What Freedom of Speech Is (and What it is Not)

Hi dummies! I am getting really tired of some of you misunderstanding what the phrase "free speech" means in the context of U.S. law, so I wrote this post to help you out. For those of you who missed/forgot what you learned in civics class, here is the text of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

For those of you who lack basic reading comprehension skills (but Madison, what big words you have), here is the part that deals with free speech.

Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech.

Note the word "Congress". (Now, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not Congress actually obeys this amendment - Hell, 11 years after they ratified it, they passed the Sedition Act, and then you've got "fire in a crowded theatre," obscenity laws, defamation laws, speech restrictions in public schools and so on - but that's not why we are here.) "Freedom of Speech" means that the government is not allowed (sort of) to restrict your right to express yourself.

It does not mean that you can say whatever you want and no one is allowed to care.

Case 1: Ryan Sorba and The Born Gay Hoax.

Mr. Sorba wrote a book called The Born Gay Hoax. I slogged through about half of the advance version before I got tired of the tortured prose (this guy writes like a blog activists...hetero-repugnant-homo-narcissism...). From what I gathered, his basic thesis is that because the term "gay" and the widespread notion of an identity centered around same-sex love are relatively new constructs, gay rights are bad.

Now Mr. Sorba was giving a speech at Smith, den of liberal iniquity that it is. A bunch of lesbians disrupted his speech by shouting and otherwise making noise. He had to stop giving the speech, because the atmosphere had become too loud for anyone to hear him. Subsequently, a bunch of anti-gay activists trumpeted this supposed "free speech violation" to the world.

Newsflash, guys! Smith lesbians are not "Congress" (as much I may personally wish they were). While it may have annoyed you, the Smith protest was not illegal and it was not a violation of free speech. Nothing and nobody got hurt here except perhaps Mr. Sorba's ego. Certainly, we can have a legitimate debate about whether this protest was the best option available to Smith students, or whether or not it was the neighborly thing to do. However, for those of you who've forgotten, the 1st Amendment says "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech". The 1st Amendment does not say "You must sit down, shut up and listen to pseudoscientific propaganda from people who fell asleep in class when everyone else what discussing Foucault."

The reason why the 1st Amendment does not say that it because that, my friends, would be a restriction of free speech.

Case 2: The Firing of Crystal Dixon

Crystal Dixon was formerly an associate vice president of human resources at the University of Toledo (which is a state university, so all that government stuff is relevant here). Ms. Dixon was in charge of carrying out the school's policies on diversity.

Now, Ms. Dixon wrote what has been variously described as a letter or a column in the Toledo Free Press (the distinction is immaterial in this context) in which she outlined her views on gay rights. Ms. Dixon does not believe in gay rights. (In some sense, she does not believe in gay people - being gay is a can change...Exodus...PFOX...).

In light of this expression of her right to freedom of speech, Ms. Dixon got fired. Subsequently, a bunch of anti-gay activists freaked out about the firing. I know some of you might have gotten confused, what with Bush's track record on nominees for government positions (see David Palmer, Michael Leavitt, Bill Pryor, etc.) and all those not having to do your job if you don't like it laws for pharmacists and stuff, but being able to do your job is actually an important criterion for your retention at said job. Ms. Dixon stated, publicly, her contempt for a central tenant of her position at the University of Toledo. She was offered another position at the University, one that would not require her to uphold the rights of gay students/staff/prospective students/staff. She chose not to take it.

Let's take this out of the context of gay rights. Let's say I work for Coca-Cola. Let's say I'm in charge of marketing my company's product to schools. Now, as a private citizen, I publish an article (or a blog post, or a letter, or whatever) indicating that I think Coca-Cola is an evil product of the corn conspiracy, contributing to the decline of health and the rise of obesity in children, and that marketing Coca-Cola to schools is wrong. The next day, I have to clean out my desk. I had every right to my opinion and the expression thereof. Coke had every right to fire me.

Of course, the Coca-Cola corporation isn't the government (well...not exactly...) but this applies to publicly funded/controlled stuff too. If I work for a committee in charge of implementing the Violence Against Women Act, and I have publicly stated my opposition to the very act I'm supposed to be implementing, I should lose my job (or rather, never have been given it in the first place) no matter what President Bush may think about it.

Once again, that's: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech."
It's not "no employer may fire an employee for publicly expressing contempt for the job function they are supposed to perform."

Case 3: Calling You a Bigot

Sally Kern made a speech. In this speech, she said that gay rights are a greater threat to this nation than terrorism (which is probably true if by "this nation" you mean "white male Protestant privilege" but otherwise not true). A gay rights group filmed said speech, and made portions available on YouTube. Many people got upset. Subsequently, anti-gay activists got upset because Ms. Kern was "labeled a bigot."

Do we need to trot that Amendment out again? Sally Kern has every right to say that gays are worse than terrorists. She has every right to characterize this statement as "not anti- and not gay bashing". In short, she has the right to be a bigot. She has the right to be wrong. She does not have the right not to be called a bigot. She does not have the right not to have her statements criticized, her resignation called for, and her reelection opposed. That would be a violation of freedom of speech. "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech." Not "No one is allowed to get angry or upset at you for saying stupid crap."

Sorry. You have a right to say homophobic things. I have a right to call you a homophobe for doing to it. Too bad for you.

So stop whining about your free speech rights being violated when they haven't been. Just in case you missed the point of this post, the previous statement was not a violation of your free speech rights, even though it told you to shut up.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Howrse as a Reflection on Real Horse Breeders

So I've been playing as "edaselro" on this free (kind of) web browser game called Howrse for a little while. Despite the fact that it is a truly terrible game with little to no effort put into making it, you know, good, I keep playing it because it's such an interesting psychological study into the minds of would-be horse breeders. First, a little background on this game and how it runs. You begin with a lump of money and your very own horse or pony to train, take care of, compete with, and, eventually, breed. Of course, you can't really compete in this game unless you spend an exorbitant amount of real money to buy "passes" that in turn buy special items that give huge boosts to your horse's stats. As there are a very large number of children on this site with their parents' credit card numbers, and, inexcusably, a number of adults with nothing better to spend thousands of dollars on than a poorly-made browser game, this site makes a killing with very little effort. That so very many users are this dumb is perhaps indicative of the kind of person who is drawn to horse breeding in real life, but I digress.

The game also has certain interesting features like rare, hard to breed unicorns and a "Safe Haven" which will pay YOU to take away horses you don't want anymore. Forever. So with a functional slaughterhouse in place, I think we have all the dynamics necessary for a simulation of the real-world amateur horse breeding operations which are, sadly, so abundant.

The unicorns provide the most interesting study, I think. You have to breed two unicorn parents and exactly the right time in the game for a 1 in 6 chance of getting a unicorn baby. This is rather similar to people breeding for color in real life, although breeding a color isn't quite so difficult (although perhaps it seems that way if you don't know anything about genetics). The result? In real life, lots of horses will come out that aren't the color you're after, and because you are breeding for color without any regard to conformation, skill, soundness, or anything else that's actually important, you have a bunch of worthless horses that, far more often than not, end up in a slaughterhouse. And in the game? Its auctions are flooded with "no horn" unicorns that are basically useless, as there's no such thing as a "recessive horn" in this game. They are all labelled, "PLEASE BUY! This or Safe Haven!!! :(" and they have no skills to speak of. You would think in the confines of a video game, where you are playing with lots and lots of fake money and time is sped up dramatically, you'd eventually figure out that this wasn't working, and maybe you should at least be breeding GOOD unicorn parents together and be making a profit on the babies no matter how they came out. The problem is, just like in real life, people want a novelty and will pay for it, even if it sucks in all other regards. It turns out to be very profitable to breed trash in hopes of getting that useless horn (or color).

And then there's the Safe Haven. There are many users in this game who will flame you to kingdom come if you even suggest that the Safe Haven is a slaughterhouse. Their conscience won't allow for it, even for a horse made of ones and zeros. You would think that this would carry over into real life, when real lives were at stake, and yet thousands end up in the slaughterhouse every year. What gives? I think it's a combination of the fact that selling a horse for slaughter (like sending it to the Safe Haven) pays you (money is the ultimate motivating factor), and that sending a horse through the auctions and telling yourself that they are just going to end up in a "Safe Haven" allows a certain degree of denial. In that sense, maybe including the Safe Haven in the Howrse game isn't just a retarded way to bail out stupid, irresponsible breeders. Perhaps it's in fact a very astute observation on their part...



Sunday, March 30, 2008

A brief introduction to corn

I have in the past year undergone what they refer to as a paradigm shift. Everything has changed. Those of you to whom I've been pontificating about corn know what I'm talking about. I always had a disdain for "organic" food. I still do, what with it's false advertising and it being poorly understood by the masses (genetically engineered food has GENES in it!), it's association with soy (which is not always your friend) and unresearched opinion. But food, even intensively-farmed, party to the industrial food complex food, that is grown by even the USDA's lax organic standards are much, much better for us and the environment. They may be a party to the man, nothing more than a marketing scheme which is the arm of the massive industrial food industry, but if it results in fertilizing the field with compost instead of petroleum, making plants grow their own defenses (which they are fully capable of) instead of relying on caustic chemical pesticides, that is a good thing. But I'm not here to talk to you about organic food. I'm here to talk to you about corn.

Corn is the reason everything related to food in America sucks. Corn is the reason for the death of the small farmer, the obesity epidemic, the glut of processed food, factory farms, unhealthy, tasteless meat, and, in large part, the weeping of the environment. A full fifth of the fossil fuels burned in this country go towards growing and processing our food, the same amount used up by our cars. It's retarded, because food grown on petroleum fertilizers is less nutritious and full of tiny toxins, and food that is then processed is even less nutritious while higher in calories. Oh, and there's shipping the food, which contributes to global warming and all that; self-explanatory. That's another reason industrial organics are bad; they are almost always shipped an average of 1500 miles, negating most of the fossil fuels they saved via their means of production. But back to corn...

Corn was happy for a long time in America. The US government had what they called the Ever-Normal Granary which would buy up corn when there was a production surplus to prevent it from glutting the market and crashing corn prices, and it would sell the corn when there was a shortage so that prices wouldn't skyrocket and everyone would always have corn to eat. Then along came the Nixon administration and the new Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz. Take a moment now to mock his name. He thought it wise, as Republicans are want to do, to do away with this system and instead just pay corn farmers subsidies for low corn prices. The subsidies encouraged corn production, which of course led to a drop in corn prices, which led to even more corn production to cover the costs, which led to an even further drop in price. Meanwhile the price at which corn had to fall before the government would pay up kept being readjusted - always to be lower. So corn farmers had to grow more and more corn to chase falling prices, which just made the problem worse. This cycle continues today, resulting in a giant mountain of corn that we could never possible hope to consume. I should point out at this point that we're not talking about sweet corn, the kind we eat. That corn is like pretty much any other vegetable. This corn is what is referred to as number 2 corn, a huge, dry ear that is inedible without being soaked for several hours and then ground. Or passed through a processing laboratory, but more on that later. So, mountain of corn. Why would the government want a giant mountain of corn? Because it is a cheap (now insanely cheap) material with which large corporations can do a number of things. It is used as animal feed because corn became so cheap in the 70's, when all of this began, that it became cheaper to feed to livestock than grass, which is free. It was more cost effective to, for example, cram a bunch of beef onto a tiny feedlot and feed them corn (which makes cows very ill, by the way) than to let them graze on pasture. Thus the factory farm was born, leading to all sorts of well-documented manifestations of animal cruelty.

But that's just one piece of the corn pie. Corn is also used to create a great majority of those bizarre additives on the ingredients list of your food. There's cornstarch and high-fructose corn syrup (which has replaced sugar despite the fact that it's worse for you because corn is so cheap), of course, but then there's xanthan gum, dextrose (aka glucose), fructose, MSG, mono-, di-, and triglycerides, dextrin and maltodextrin, carrageenan, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors (including things like natural raspberry flavor!), and sodium stearoyl lactate, just to name a few. There are entire research universities devoted to finding new ways to use up all this freaking corn. All this processing renders the food very low in nutrients and very high in calories.

Then there's ethanol, which is a complete crock. It's heralded as a fuel alternative, but is costs more fossil fuels just to MAKE ethanol than would be used if you just burned them in your car themselves. And it pollutes the atmosphere just as bad as gasoline. It's nothing but a scam to use up more corn.

I could go on and on, but just read The Omnivore's Delimma by Michael Pollan. That's where most of this information comes from. Fascinating book. Actually, read anything by Michael Pollan. He's fantastic. He's my hetero mind-crush.

There comes a time in every thinking person's life when they realize the great inequities of the system in which we function. The response is either a frustrated but begrudging admittance that it's not going to change and functioning in it anyway, or a fundamental shift in the way we live our lives. The first is much easier and so that's what most people do. Being an ethical consumer takes a lot of fucking work. But I can only take this latter path at this point, at least in regards to food. Food is what I am made of, and if you can't be worried about your own health, what can you be worried about?

The worst problem by my estimation is corn-fed beef. Corn-fed or grain-fed beef is often advertised as such, as if it were a good thing. Corn makes cows violently ill. It often causes their first stomachs to swell up so much that it explodes or it crushed the animal's lungs and suffocates it. It causes abscesses of the liver. The only reason the cows don't all die is that they are only fed corn 150 days or so before slaughter at about 16 to 18 months of age. Any longer than than and they'd start dropping like flies. Corn-fed beef, in addition to being sickly and thus full of antibiotics (breeding antibiotic-resistant superbacteria) are also full of fat. Corn gives beef that "well-marbled" effect which the USDA prizes in order to encourage the consumption of corn, despite the fact that it tastes worse and is INFINITELY worse for you. Corn is the reason the feedlot is possible, with all the overcrowding and the living in lakes of their own shit, which, by the way, does find it's way into our meat in the slaughterhouse, which is why so much meat is irradiated before sale (and isn't labeled as such). You are eating cow shit. Knowing all of this, and having tasted before the taste superiority of meat that lived the way it was supposed to in the form of wild venison (farmed venison is just as bad), i cannot in good conscience continue to support this industry of torturing animals and selling me an inferior, unhealthy, disgusting product. There is a reason so many gourmet chefs buy their ingredients locally from small farms: you can taste the difference in quality. It is a short step from there to reject this entire fucked-up system ruled by corn and the USDA.

Before the USDA got involved, organic used to mean something very different than it does today. It meant sustainably grown, polycultural meat and produce, grown responsibly and ethically in such a way as to minimize environmental impact and maximize the healthiness of the food. That is where I chose to return, by growing for myself what I can and buying from organic local farmers what I can't. We will no longer buy strawberries out of season, for they have been either grown with all sorts of nasty chemicals or flown in from Argentina. I will not buy meat if I don't know how it was raised. I will do away with ALL processed food. Everything organic, everything grass-fed. And you should, too. Yeah, it's a lot to do, yeah, it costs a little more, and yeah, it's beyond inconvenient. But the food will taste much better, be much healthier, and, much more importantly, you will not be complicit in this unsustainable system. You can eat with a conscience.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Blast Off!

Here for your edification: logic for the world with a queer/feminist sensibility!

Why Corn Is Destroying America
Movie Reviews
Logical Fallacies 101
Peer-reviewed sources with which to educate the logically-impaired on abortion, gay marriage, and other such dinner table conversation