Trying to live a practical, but compassionate life towards all living creatures (animal, mineral, vegetable, humanable) without being a self-righteous ass.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

This site no longer updated

My blog on beauty standards here.

My day-to-day blog here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Visit me elsewhere! :-D

Well, I think I'm going to be able to let my Practically Moral, my writing, and my music blogs rest. I initially created them so I wouldn't post loooong bits about veganism or album covers or plotting on my regular blog, but I've since learned to write shorter entries. I won't delete these, in case the need for loooooong self-involved posts arise again, but otherwise I'm spending my time on my home page and on A Great Attraction.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


From New York Times. Sad for peeps like me who pay their bills! But, they also want to push for clearer language and less deception when changing rules, which is good:

Now Congress is moving to limit the penalties on riskier borrowers, who have become a prime source of billions of dollars in fee revenue for the industry. And to make up for lost income, the card companies are going after those people with sterling credit.

Banks are expected to look at reviving annual fees, curtailing cash-back and other rewards programs and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period of weeks, according to bank officials and trade groups.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blog Revision! Chaos ensues...

THE SKINNY: To see regular updates on food issues, check out my Great Attraction blog. Otherwise I will only be updating this blog when the speechify mood hits.

So, like, I have a lot of opinions. On just about everything. And because I'm a writer by nature, I like getting them out of my system, which is how I ended up with 4 topical blogs. From the start I decided to focus on just getting my ideas *on paper* without worrying whether anyone read them. But my sense of organization led me to being more and more org'd, and posting on specific days of the week, bla bla bla. And now it's time to pare down again.

So the moral/music/writing blogs will return to being randomly updated. 4 postings one day... and then none for 2 months... whatevah. And I'll continue my casual posting on my Home blog.

But the only topic blog I'll update at regular intervals will be the "ahhh we're so superficial!" one. Any Practically Moral topics that I think will go well with the "ahhh we're so superficial!" blog, I'll post there instead.

So... farewell until I have something to say!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Oh you pesky water bottles.

I'm in for this "Federation of Canadian Municipalities" group who are encouraging municipalities from selling bottled water--in part just to educate people on how safe tap water is here, and how much tax money is spent dealing with water bottle waste.

When I strangely listened to my father, in Cegep, and took a MATH course (I still can't believe I did that!) and of course FAILED (though it was the best math teacher I'd ever had, and I enjoyed listening to the lecture part)... I had to take an extra course in the summer. A counsellor suggested Chemistry of the Environment, which I loved, so I've never regretted the math thing.

Anyway, he spent a whole section on bottled water. (This was in 1992.) He said the only thing to be found in bottled water, other than tap, was the minerals--potassium and such. If you're not checking that out, there's no other reason to be drinking it.

(He also dissed Brita filters.)

So I never got into the whole bottled water thing. Thanks to early Cegep science teacher brainwashing. Yay for higher learnin'!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Up on the soapbox: A tip on leading an ethical life?

According to this New York Times science article, some studies have found correlations between self-control and religion. That is, religious people have more of it. And this is not the case for someone who just goes to church for the prestige or some other extrinsic motivation, or for people who are "spiritual."

I must say, this sounds true to me. From the age of 15 til about 23 I went to a somewhat strict church, and for most of that time this church followed the Old Testament laws. In other words, we kept the Jewish holidays and food laws (though sometimes interpreted a little differently.) For about 7 years I didn't eat pork or shellfish, and I kept the Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

While I don't have any sort of organized religion in my life anymore (and that church underwent a radical change to become more mainstream--in a good way), I don't regret the years I spent following strict rules, which I had internalized and believed in. Because what I walked away with was this value: That if you really believe something is true, then your only moral choice is to follow that to the best of your ability. It's what I think of as integrity: The disparate parts of my life need to be brought in line with my core beliefs.

So I agree with the author and scientist in this article, that you don't need to be a church goer, or believe in God, in order to have self-control. But you need (to quote the article) to give "your personal goals an aura of sacredness." Which doesn't mean you can't challenge and question what you believe, but in the meantime, you actually practice what you preach.

And in the end, I think this lends you a certain sort of happiness or sense of peace, because you feel comfortable in morally ambiguous territory, and content that you're doing your best to live life the way you think it ought to be led.

...And that's the word. Yo. [Because White People Life self aware hiphop talk.]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Joseph Campbell, and What Did I Learn in Schoolz?

I wrote earlier that I wanted to get back to my Book Club of One (you'll see I've even made a tag for it.) And one thought was... have my thoughts or ideas changed since studying developing areas for 5 years since the last time I read these books. Not that I wasn't thinking about issues of development before, but, my knowledge is better fleshed out now.
So. Before I went back to school I believed you need to keep a proper perspective on both the individual and the group. But I'd say that schoolio has given me a deeper perspec on this. My awareness of just how extremely individualistic western society is has been heightened--everything from the way we build to "Human Rights" language.

I think what many westernee people really miss when thinking about issues of women's property rights, clothing, legal rights, whatever, in say Muslim societies (but not restricted to-) is how strong your identity can be in the group.

Since the Enlightenment we've been on a one-way track to the individual, and we take it as a gien that individual identity and therefore rights is always the best thing. Certainly I think it comes with a lot of Great Things. But we're so entrenched in it that we end up on this Moral High Horse about the way everyone else lives or thinks or legislates, and it's almost impossible for us to understand.

In postcolonial studies we talk a lot about The Other: Ways in which we make other people/societies into something so different, apart from, and foreign to us that we can then stand outside and judge, or feel superior to, or use, or stereotype, or steal from. Well the ultimate examples of Othering might be the way the Nazis portrayed the Jews, or how Americans (and I mean all, from South to North) saw Africans when they enslaved them. That's where this thinking will get you--you dehumanize people.

I think we do some automatic dehumanizing when we read a Scandalous Headline about a stoning in a North African country, and we see the men involved as monsters. I'm pretty out for stoning people but... what the hell do I know about having a collective sense of identity, where one person's acts might shame everyone else's? Having been raised by young, not really religious, white parents, I have no concept of this. I don't mean I no longer have the right to believe it's wrong to kill someone for having sex outside of marriage, but I think there's still a difference between my beliefs, and my ability to understand and have compassion for other human beings. To not be so fucking judgmental.

And maybe I don't always have the right ideas on how to balance the personal and the collective. The thing that struck me most when I read a travel diary of a Canadian woman in Iran (Honeymoon in Tehran) was the collective nature of everything. She'd be arguing with a cab driver about a fare, and half the passerbys would stop and take sides. It usually ended with someone taking her away to their own car so they could drive her for free, but while she's at it she should come for supper, and come meet my family, and next thing she knew she'd have spent the day with strangers rather than at some monument.

Now imagine immigrating from a society like that, to a Canadian city. How cold we must seem! (Except my husband, who does talk to strangers and take them around town. Which is one reason I love him.)

So that's one thing that's changed. I like it when Joseph Campbell expresses the idea of being simultaneously an individual, and part of the whole world; and people who still live in strongly communal societies are surely much better at conceiving the "with the world" side of that equation than I am.

***The Campbell Portion of This Posting***

In Hero With a 1000 Faces Campbell writes about this idea, re. the hero journey. The hero Theseus was given a thread to unravel as he walked through the labyrinth, so he could find his way out again after slaying the minotaur. But Campbell argues that although the last step of the Hero Journey is always taken alone, you're never really alone:
"Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; and where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world."
Ah. My FAVE Campbell quote of all time.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Science applied, but maybe not so pure

From a piece in the New York Times science section, the Tierney Lab, about mixing politics with science:

What would honest brokers tell the president about global warming? Dr. Pielke, who calls himself an Obamite, says he’s concerned that the presidents’ advisers seem uniformly focused on cutting carbon emissions through a domestic cap-and-trade law and a new international treaty.

It’s fine to try that strategy, he says, but there are too many technological, economic and political uncertainties to count on it making a significant global difference. If people around the world can’t be cajoled — or frightened by apocalyptic scenarios — into cutting carbon emissions, then politicians need backup strategies.

One possibility, Dr. Pielke says, would be to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the future. He calculates that it could cost about the same, in the long run, as making drastic cuts in emissions today, and could be cheaper if the technology improves. It could also be a lot easier sell to the public.

Yet research into this strategy has received little financing in past budgets or the new stimulus package because it doesn’t jibe with the agenda of either side in the global-warming debate. Greens don’t want this sort of “technological fix”; their opponents don’t want to admit there’s anything to fix. And neither side’s advocates will compromise as long as they think that science will prove them right.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Those Skinny Bitches make me bitch bitch bitch!

I can't read people's diet blogs and judge whether they sound unhealthy or not, because I've never had an eating disorder. My analysis tends to be more along the sophisticated lines of: That's stoopid. So it interests me when others can bring that sort of light to their critiques.

I was reading amazon reviews of Skinny Bitch the other day (because I wanted to revel in the low-star reviews, of which there were many), and one commenter said the entire book sounded like the diary of an anorexic. (See below.)

...Whereas when I read the book, all I could think was: What a bunch of unconscionable, unsupported BULLshit. Most of the negative reviews on amazon simply say: This is veganism, which is fine, but (a) they shouldn't disguise that fact, and (b) it's a shitty book about veganism. Which was my opinion too when I read it.

I work at a bookstore and whenever a customer buys it, I TELL them it's a vegan diet. "Really??" (And from the cashier next to me: Really??) And I make sure to stress our 14 day return policy.

The other day I had the absolute pleasure of dissuading a woman from even looking at Skinny Bun in the Oven, their Shitty Vegan Pregnancy Book. (Grrrrrrr!!!!!!!) When the woman learned it promoted a vegan diet, she was uninterested... as well she should be. I'm a vegan, but if I were pregnant I'd at least go vegetarian for the duration. I don't believe in risking another person's life for my political choice.

I then helped her pick out books on pregnancy nutrition, and recommended a Michael Pollan book.

As an ex-anorexic friend of mine said, this book is awesome for people in the throes of the disease because it basically gives you permission to food-restrict and negatively self-talk all you want, two of the behaviors that therapists try to eliminate in eating-disorder patients.

I truly believe this book is not about veganism. This book is about how to practice a special brand of anorexia in which you view food as evil and avoid putting it into your body, but you still eat enough of certain things to avoid criticism from friends and family, under the guise of this pro-animal-rights philosophical viewpoint. The language they use is very similar to the language you see on pro-anorexia websites maintained by women whose goal is to trade tips for how not to eat and reinforce each other's philosophy and behavior. Those websites have the same "us against the world" and "other people think we're crazy but we're doing the right thing" tone. [Gadgetchick on amazon.com]