Tag Archives: politics

Of chocolate, ScienceBlogs, and Pepsi

I recently came to the sad conclusion that I must give up eating chocolate. In all its forms. Entirely. That’s a whole food group kicked out of my diet. Because I tended to overindulge, and it started making me sick. I won’t go into detail. Let me just say that the consequences of eating chocolate became increasingly unpleasant over the past several months, to the point of some acute pain. Poor, pitiful me.

It is often the case with addictive behavior, that what you crave will kick your butt sooner or later. It’s why there are twelve step programs for so many things that so many of us do in non-addictive ways. I mean, we all eat (stop and you die, in fact), but food addictions are not healthy, hence, Over-eaters Anonymous. Then there are the alcohol addicts, drug addicts, sex addicts, solar eclipse addicts (I don’t think the last group has a 12-step program yet, though). People recognize and get help for their addictions or they don’t get help and they get in trouble with the law, or with health issues, or in car versus tree arguments, or they develop some kind of physiological symptoms of substance rejection like mine. My stomach started saying “no more chocolate, or I will make you pay, and pay, and pay!

For a while after I discovered Science Blogs, a site maintained by Seed Magazine that hosted a lot of great blogs about all kinds of science written by scientists, I was an addict. I could burn up an entire day reading the different blogs, the comments — and some of the comments were like blog entries themselves. And then I’d kick myself for not spending that time doing something worthwhile in the world.

I tried subscribing to the combined RSS feed for ScienceBlogs so that I’d get a chance to read samples from all of them. I was overwhelmed. I skimmed some, skipped a lot. Then I learned how to “mark all as read” so when I found 400 articles waiting for me (which would sometimes happen if I didn’t check in for a few days), I could just deal with them with a mouse click instead of the endless scrolling and scanning. I felt bad about not actually consuming more of the content, but there was just too much.

As with chocolate, I finally had to just stop cold. I started following a couple of my favorites on Twitter and Facebook, so that I could follow links they posted to articles that looked interesting. Because at the time I was trying to figure out how to make blogging profitable for ME, at least a little; I was trying to find a “day job” so I could keep it while I learned how to make a living doing something I love, because “they” always say, “keep your day job” when someone expresses an interest in trying to make a living in a way other than the accepted norm. It always helps if you actually have a day job that you can keep. Duh.

What I eventually found was in fact an evening job — or at least a late afternoon job — and is only part time, but could actually work out better in the long run because it leaves me with enough energy to work on my other projects. But I digress.

Last week, I read a tweet by Laelaps, one of the Sblings I follow, to the effect that “David Dobbs is leaving SB, and I’m thinking I will, too.” What? So I went to David Dobbs’ Twitter page and read a few tweets, and then I followed a link to a Science Blogs article about how there was going to be a new nutrition blog on SB, authored by employees of Pepsico. And many bloggers were up in arms over it. They questioned the logic of their blog administrators in allowing what they called “advertorial content” on the site, which would lower the credibility of all the other writers. I followed the arguments back and forth for days. It didn’t take long, after ten or more writers left as a direct result of the decision, for the SB overlords to cancel the Pepsico blog (or Pepsico pulled out to avoid more negative press).

I spent more time on the SB site in three days than I had for the past year. I was on a binge. Sad thing is that the surge in readership for the site as a result of the controversy still brought in a lot more readers. And some people will say there’s no such thing as bad advertising when the results are more sales — or more interest. It certainly worked with me. Now I have to be smart and start doing my own work again, hoping I can make something that will matter not just to me, but will affect others the way chocolate and Science Blogs have affected me. LOL

I need my pets, people.

 

There are people who, though they would squall loud and long if they had to relenquish any of their own rights, would gladly deny the rights of others, justifying their course of action as being for the good of something, someone, some group, whatever.  I’m thinking of the people who, through a misguided desire to end cruelty to animals, have set out to end all human interaction with animals.  They don’t want us to hunt them, eat them, wear their skins, use them for research, keep them captive in zoos, manipulate their lives in any way, or keep them as pets.  I think some of the most extreme of these people must indeed hate animals.  They also must hate people.

If their actions are successful they will not only be condemning all domestic animals to extintion, they will irrevocably damage millions of human lives.  Disregarding all the lives that have been saved, extended, or enhanced as a direct result of medical research first carried out on animals, think of all the people who use service animals or seeing eye dogs; all the people who owe their lives to search and rescue dogs; all the troubled souls who have been helped by therapy animals.  Are these presumably well-meaning individuals going to step in and fill those roles?  I think not.  What, then, do they propose as replacements?  Robots, perhaps?  Oh, please.

I need flesh and blood dogs.  I need them to be fallible.  I need them to remind me how fallible I am.  I need them to keep me sane.  I don’t need them to stroke my ego with slave-like devotion and burning desire to obey my every command (HA!).  I don’t need them to atract all kinds of “ooh, ahh, what cute doggies” attention.  I don’t need them to make me look good.  (And I have certainly chosen the right breed for those jobs.)  I just need them to be there, so I’ll have a reason to get out of bed in the mornings.

But this is about way more than just me and my personal needs.  I think there is something basic to human nature that makes us want to connect with other (non-human) creatures.  If we suddenly lost all companion animals, the members of PETA (Persons for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) would undoubtedly rejoice, thinking they had won their fight.  But what do you really think would happen?  It doesn’t even take much imagination.

While watching the “Puppy Bowl” on the Animal Planet channel on SuperBowlSunday this January, I kept seeing commercials for pet food that featured people engaging in activities with thier “pets” — an ostrich and a rhino, among others.  I think, even though that ad was meant as a joke, that as a species, we will have pets, in whatever form that may mean.

They have not yet tried to outright make ownership of pets illegal, but they are trying to change the language of laws to make calling it ownership a thing of the past.  That’s the first step in losing the right to keep your pet if they decide to take it away from you.  If you can’t say you own it, you have no say in what happens to it.  Mandatory spay and neuter laws are another step closer to the goal of outlawing all breeding of pet animals.  Later they will want to outlaw consumption of animal products — meat, milk, eggs.

They can’t possibly be considering the effect this would have on the economy, which presumably will recover from the current disaster.  The pet industry is huge, but dwarfed by the sector of the agriculture industry that would be wiped out by making it illegal to eat meat and dairy.  And the fact that those markets are so large says something about how much control a relatively small fraction of the population is trying to wield.  And if we don’t watch out, they may just get what they want. 

It’s not just PETA and HSUS we need to look out for.  Once I started thinking about it, I realized how far we’ve come toward a future where we will have laws that tell us exactly how to live our lives, as determined by a few people who “know what’s best.”  I’m not even going to go into details.  Everybody can think of an example.  I’m reminded of a few scenes in “Demolition Man,” a movie I’ve probably seen too many times, where everyone is fined for even the mildest strong lanquage, and all the restaurants are Taco Bell (but they will only be able to serve beans).

You know how we all speculate about “if I was in charge…”  I’m just saying, be careful what you wish for.