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Oct 06 2011

Episode CCLIX: Fictional serial killers are more aware than Christians

It’s always good to see more atheist role models in the media.

(Episode CCLVIII: A message from Obama.)

676 comments

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  1. 501
    Inaji

    Pelamun:

    (though each of the alien races having only one religion is also just the result of a TV trope, because realistically speaking an alien race would probably be as diverse internally as humans)

    I’ve never minded it over much, especially as there are often back stories about religious wars or the religious priests (or what have you) gaining too much power, then schism were healed or papered over and so on. I’ve also always seen that trope as a tweak to the nose of certain christians, like the rapturites, who live in constant fear of a one world religion. They also seem to have a keen interest in sci-fi shows.

  2. 502
    Inaji

    First Approximation:

    One thing I liked about Farscape is it sometimes made fun of sci-fi tropes.

    Farscape, at first, made fun of all manner of tropes. Of course, that dates the show terribly now, but it was good fun. The show started to suck when they tried to take things seriously.

  3. 503
    cicely

    pelamun, you are forgiven. :)
    If I’d refreshed before posting the comment, I’d’ve seen your apology, and erased that part of my comment.
    -

    cicely, when our pooch got fleas, we used some product which just required a drop or so on the scruff of the neck.

    There are various brands along those lines, one of which is the Advantage (which does a pretty reasonable job) we can’t afford to get ATM. Some of the others work less well, or not at all.

    I understand that now there’s Advantage II, at an even higher price; I’m not sure what the difference is.
    -

  4. 504
    raven

    Putting this here, FYI.

    I suspect Romney is toast. Which is odd because he seems the most normal of the GOP candidates which include such scary creeps as Rick Perry and cognitively impaired Bachmann.

    Huffingtonpost.com:

    a new survey released Saturday afternoon says that three out of four pastors agree, at the least, that Mormons are not Christians.

    As part of a larger survey conducted by Nashville-based Lifeway Research a year ago, 1,000 pastors were polled from around the country who represented dozens of denominations.

    and

    A Pew Research Center survey from the summer said that one in four voters would be less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate and found that 34 percent of white evangelical Protestants held this view. A Gallup poll released in June also found that almost 20 percent of Republicans and independents would not vote for a Mormon president, compared to 27 percent of Democrats who said the same.

  5. 505
    pelamun

    raven,

    I wouldn’t count him out yet. Perry has been doing badly in the debates and has probably lost the support of the establishment by now. There is no other white knight or black horse on the horizon, I think Romney still has the biggest chances. Though of course, with that crazy tea party segment you never know… And if the economy stays that bad, a potato bag could win against Obama.

    Which reminds me of something Rachel Maddow said that two Europeans might matter most to Obama’s reelection, Angela Merkel, and Mario Draghi. Well if this is true, then Obama is fucked.

  6. 506
    Rey Fox

    Not trying to fanboy you here, but if you ever liked anything by Joss Whedon, give it a try.

    Ha ha. The only Joss Whedon media that I have ever consumed are the first two trade paperbacks of his run on the X-Men comic.

    (They were pretty good.)

    (Except where he had Prof. X driving a god damn truck)

  7. 507
    Rey Fox

    Romney is pretty much McCain from last time around. Hell, he may even join the Baptist church.

  8. 508
    raven

    Cicely, re Sevin on your cats.

    I wouldn’t do it or even think of it.
    I wouldn’t even use it on my yard.

    You are doing an experiement here, without the slighest idea what the outcome is.

    Used to use nylar on my cats. It isn’t a pesticide but a growth regulator that does weird things to flea larvae and supposedly of very low toxicity. It worked OK but the cats hated it for some reason.

    A whole house approach has worked OK. Just vacuum, mop, and wash their bedding often. The fleas always die down in the winter anyway.

    Poisoning our pets
    How a bug killer almost killed my dog
    by Sue Sturgis

    My dog Lucy nearly died last month when she was accidentally poisoned by a common pesticide our neighbors used on their vegetable garden.
    Sevin–an insecticide manufactured by Bayer CropScience in Research Triangle Park–is widely believed to be safe. etc.

    If you google Sevin and animal toxicity and/or pet poisoning, you won’t want to use it.

  9. 509
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    From raven’s quote:

    a new survey released Saturday afternoon says that three out of four pastors agree, at the least, that Mormons are not Christians.

    Well, they’re not. IIRC, Joe Smith didn’t really consider the church he founded to be Christian– he saw it as the “next step” after Islam.

    (I would dig up the relevant sections of Under the Banner of Heaven, but I am full of cider and I don’t even know where my copy is. Maybe someone can help me out here…?)

  10. 510
    SallyStrange

    Ahh, Battlestar Galactica. The original is before my time, but the new series was great.

    Apart from the shitty fucked-up stupid ending, of course.

    I think the best thing about it was how it really made you think about what is really “human” or “alive” and what it means to love someone.

    I’m drinking beer and eating hot wings. Hot wing therapy. Gonna watch “Numb3rs.”

    Monday I’m going to call up some real therapists and start doing therapy. Did I say that already? I forget. I really appreciate you guys. I know I don’t always follow the threads and I just jump in without knowing what’s going on. I’m sorry about that. I just appreciate that I can vent here about what’s going on with me. Times are a bit rough right now.

  11. 511
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Poor Sally. :(

    But on the bright side: Sleepover next week, yay! And I’m bringing booze! Double yay!

    Anyway, I tried Crispin cider today and it’s fucking awesome. Topped it off with some Breckenridge Vanilla Porter and Session Black Lager (my current favorite) and now I’m feelin’ it.

    I should go to bed.

  12. 512
    raven

    And if the economy stays that bad, a potato bag could win against Obama.

    The economy isn’t going to get better. It may get a lot worse.

    Which isn’t really Obama’s fault. Bushco really wrecked the economy and the Federal Reserve is projecting a ten year recovery, 2018.

    Obama did all the conventional Keynesian fixes and probably no one could do much better. Another Tea Party wrecker could add another decade, recovery in…2028. I might still be alive then but that is getting close to my projected statistical lifespan.

    These elections are usually close, a few percentage points one way or another. Obama won 53% to 47% against a lame GOP ticket. I’m not seeing how Romney could sacrifice 20% of his supporters and win, even against a potato sack.

  13. 513
    pelamun

    raven,

    sure, it’s not Obama’s fault. And if the European leadership doesn’t get its act together, he might just end up as collateral damage of that sage leadership.

    These elections are usually close, a few percentage points one way or another. Obama won 53% to 47% against a lame GOP ticket. I’m not seeing how Romney could sacrifice 20% of his supporters and win, even against a potato sack.

    Because due to the economy being in the toilet, a lot of independents would tend to vote against the incumbent? Also, those Republicans who wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, they’d rather stay home, or just vote straight party ticket anyway. But they’d not vote for Obama in any case.

  14. 514
    SallyStrange

    Oh yeah, the sleepover! Yay!

  15. 515
    raven

    Well, they’re not. IIRC, Joe Smith didn’t really consider the church he founded to be Christian– he saw it as the “next step” after Islam.

    LOL. Well, they claim they are. They even have Jesus Christ in their full name.

    The last few Mormon Popes have tried to “mainstream” the LDS religion. They really really want to be accepted as “xians”. They’ve even claimed that they are succeeding.

    Sorry Chief Prophets , guess again.

    IMO, xianity has diverged so much that there are many religions with nothing in common except the word “xian” in there somewhere. My natal sect has absolutely nothing in common with the fundies.

  16. 516
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Oh yeah, the sleepover! Yay!

    I am so excited. Like, excited to the point where I catch myself saying “wicked”*. :P

    *Then I have to remind myself that I’m not a New Englander.

  17. 517
    SallyStrange

    New Englanders don’t say “wicked” very much these days. Sometimes, but not that often.

    Now, Kiwis, on the other hand…

    Of course, that would be “wucked.”

  18. 518
    SallyStrange

    Are we going to have a skype party with the Reinbeck folks?

  19. 519
    SallyStrange

    Christmas will be here soon. Time to start crocheting Cuddly Cthulhu.

  20. 520
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    /Derail

    Just got back from the Dallas Tim Minchin concert. It was fucking EPIC! He did two pieces I hadn’t seen before as well as many of the classics. The Pope song was a great hit, Storm made an appearance, and I damn near cried during White Wine in the Sun. I enjoyed his stuff prior to seeing him live, and now I would not hesitate to call him my favorite comedian/musician.

    And as a bit of irony, Perry’s prayer rally 2 months ago yielded no rain (to no surprise). Yet, the weekend that the Atheist convention is in Houston and Tim Minchin plays in Dallas, the Metroplex got hit with a good solid rainstorm. For some reason I find this amusing….

    /End Derail

  21. 521
    SallyStrange

    /Drunk

    I luff you guysh.

    /End Drunk

    Wait, I’m still drunk.

  22. 522
    chigau (違う)

    So.
    I’m going to see The Rocky Horror Show by myself.
    The only people who are interested live 800km away.
    I really don’t care.
    I’m going.

  23. 523
    chigau (違う)

    Shevek is a pretty hard ‘nym to live up to.
    — —-
    I, too, luff you guysh.

  24. 524
    Part-Time Insomniac

    And as a bit of irony, Perry’s prayer rally 2 months ago yielded no rain (to no surprise). Yet, the weekend that the Atheist convention is in Houston and Tim Minchin plays in Dallas, the Metroplex got hit with a good solid rainstorm. For some reason I find this amusing….

    It’s proof that God loves Tim Minchin more than Perry. /tongue-in-cheek

  25. 525
    SallyStrange

    Stupid netflix. If you’re going to raise prices, you better make damn sure your website works all the time.

  26. 526
    Rev. Bigdumbchimp

    Back from emergency vet for third time in that many months.

    This time he ate my sis.s dogs incontinence meds.,not goo

    Pure epinephrine essentially.

    Hes being kept for 24 hours. Could have been really bsd

    blood pressure through the roof

    typed on phone

  27. 527
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    Today is the saddest day of the year. After one final sail, the boat got hoisted out of the water. Sailing is over until it’s autumn in Oz.

    You could move here. Sailing year round.

    Yeah, there are whole weeks when it’s too stormy for recreational sailors to go out safely, and the beer-can races take a break between Oct and Apr, but no one takes their boat out of the water. Today was gorgeous. I don’t know when I’ve seen so many sailboats from the cliff drive.

    Comes at a price, though. You can’t bring your treeline. Nor your handsome boat shelter. Nor your (probably affordable) home.

    Well, if you can’t move here, you can always come visit. I can pretty much guarantee you a turn at the tiller …

  28. 528
    Rorschach

    I found it [B5] a fun series; quite enjoyable, with due suspension of disbelief, and the plot holds together rather well.

    (Shits over the Trek or Stargate* franchises, IMO)

    Don’t be ridiculous.

  29. 529
    Therrin

    Shaka, when the walls fell.

  30. 530
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Got back from hunting last night. We bagged a buck.

    The smell while we were butchering the skinned carcass was making me so hungry it literally hurt. Never had my carnivorous instincts been stronger, I had to mentally restrain myself from just gnawing on all that hanging redness.

    Satisfied myself with some fried strips last night and a few ribs today.

    Gonna attempt to brain-tan the hide, hopefully it works. I have a rough idea of what needs to be done, only problems is we wanna keep the hair on and all the tutorials I’ve seen have them de-hairing the hide, hopefully this isn’t an issue.

    Other highlights of the hunting trip: Grouse, of course. Delicious little birds they are.

    Also, we saw a bobcat. Such a gorgeous little predator. This one had an almost golden colored coat, like a pale orange tabby almost, at least that’s how it looked to me in the brief flash of a sighting it gave us.

  31. 531
    Rorschach

    The Laughing Coyote,

    I see a bright future for you here.

  32. 532
    julian

    Why can’t my day be that interesting? All I’ve done is inventory.

    I’m a peacock! You gotta let me fly!

  33. 533
    John Morales

    julian, funny, that’s just what Rorschach wanted, in his most recent post.

    (Didn’t happen)

  34. 534
    David Utidjian

    Ing @ 354 says:

    Wrong. A cop that serves not to actually do his job but because they like to bully people and hit people with clubs would be a monster with a badge. They could not be trusted to properly do their duty.

    I see your point and it is a good one. I think, however, that the Dexter character is a bit more complicated than that. At least that is how they attempt to portray him.

    Dexter doesn’t act for any sense of defense of others, it’s a personal “need”. Take for example up thread where it’s mentioned that he kills just some random person (more or less) because he’s really really really upset.

    There is a list of all the Dexter killings here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dexter_Morgan#List_of_victims

    The one I think you are referring to is from Season 5 Episode 1 (Rankin). So, since I didn’t quite remember it, I re-watched it (All of season 5 is available on demand from my cable service.) In the scene in question the way I remembered it was that Rankin attacked Dexter first. Dexter over-reacts by striking Rankin with a small boat anchor. It happens pretty quickly and it is actually Dexter that attacks first. I was wrong.

    It is different from most of the other Dexter killings in that it was not a cold, calculated, carefully arranged, pre-meditated killing. Dexter is enraged and over-reacts to Rankin’s taunts.

    Strangely enough, the ‘ghost-dad’, says it is the “[F]irst human thing that I’ve seen you do since she died.”

  35. 535
    Rorschach

    funny

    It isn’t. I will be talking to the Bride of Shrek to see who I can sue over this.

  36. 536
    John Morales

    Rorschach, um, sorry.

    I myself am going over-seas in a couple of weeks, so now I’m a tad worried. Our schedule was not planned with this in mind.

    (I’ll show my wife your post)

  37. 537
    opposablethumbs

    @ The Sailor #429 That sounds like a big deal to me. I hope the mics get well used and much appreciated.

  38. 538
  39. 539
    theophontes, feu d'artifice du cosmopolitisme

    @’Tis Himself, OM #411

    Great pic. Your getting to sail 7/12ths of the year sure beats my 0/12…

    (Do you have longitudinal cross bracing on that shed? It doesn’t look safe in the picture.)

    @ Audley #510

    [mormon] he saw it as the “next step” after Islam.

    IIRC, Joseph Smith Jr saw himself as a latter day mohammad. I am not going to look up the citation now as I am drinking Stella Artois. Cheers! *hic*

  40. 540
    theophontes, feu d'artifice du cosmopolitisme

    @ Rorschach #539

    Is that a torch in his pocket or is he just happy to see her?

    (No SRSLY, look again…)

  41. 541
    The Sailor

    hotshoe, you’re a sailor? We’ve had quite the Fall here. It’s either blowing 20+ or none. The trees have turned in a heartbeat and carpeted the marina in a day. It’s either 50deg F or 80+.

    I heard a honking in the sky and looked up to see drunken geese crash into each other and spin out of control for a moment.

    We discuss the inherent evil of horses and peas here, but geese, specifically Canada geese? They’re mean and ornery and shit everywhere, including my deck.

    If it wasn’t for the children I would wring a neck or two and pluck and roast ‘em.

    Goose, it’s what’s for dinner. The other white meat. Tastes like chicken.

  42. 542
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Sally re: “wicked”:
    My Bostonian friends say it all the time. Maybe it’s a geographical thing? Maybe they’re just stuck in the past? Who knows. :P

    I dodged a hangover this morning (yay!) And now I’m off to brunch with my family. OM NOM NOM. Have a good day, everyone!

  43. 543
  44. 544
    Sili

    T’day’s Sinfest.

    –o–

    I’ve just finished reading Coe on the deciphering of the Maya script. Very good book (I wan’t to piss on sir Eric Thompson’s grave).

    But now I want more. I think there was a discussion of Meso-/Southamerican history here some months back. Could anyone dig that up for me, or just supply me with a list of good stuff on the rise and fall of indigenous cultures. I know a smidgen about Aztec cannibalism, and I’ve read the suggestion that The Little Iceage could have been caused by deforestation as a result of the need to make quicklime for the enormous cities of some of those cultures.

    But aside from that it’s just a succession of names to me: Olmec, Toltec, Mixtec, Inka, Maya, Aztec.

    I think I can handle two or three books at the moment, and I think one of them will be Coe’s The Maya. I’d also like to learn some more about the Maya mathematics and astronomy.

  45. 545
    SallyStrange

    Yeah, I dunno Audley. Come to think of it, most of my VT friends are transplants. Damn flatlanders, as it were.

  46. 546
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    hotshoe, you’re a sailor? We’ve had quite the Fall here. It’s either blowing 20+ or none. The trees have turned in a heartbeat and carpeted the marina in a day. It’s either 50deg F or 80+.

    I heard a honking in the sky and looked up to see drunken geese crash into each other and spin out of control for a moment

    Hehe. That must have been a funny sight. I don’t mind geese as much as seagulls, because geese only infest the parks, seagulls will perch on your railing and steal your food.

    We have two small-ish sailboats in the water. Live on one; it’s like living in a camper van but warmer, hooked up to shore power at the dock therefore electric lights and mini fridge (also cold running water). The other is nice for sailing, small enough to single-hand, large enough to feel safe in open ocean. But I almost always stay at dock while the dedicated sailors in the family go out. I don’t get vomiting seasick but have chronic ear problems which give me pain when the waves are over two-three feet – which they always are outside of harbor.

  47. 547
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Okay… let’s see:

    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds – Firefly
    -Atheist and antitheist. I note that one person suggested that, had the series continued, Mal probably would have “found religion”. I have very big doubts about this because, mainly, the creator, Joss Whedon, is quite a vocal and proud atheist. In fact, I would not have been surprised to find out that even more of the characters were atheists.

    Kurt Hummel – Glee
    -Truth be told, I don’t really watch Glee. I can’t stand the fake “this is High school” bull. I’m only 24. High School was not that long ago. I was in choir and actually helped start my HS’s Glee Club. That was not High School… at all. Also, the script and acting is for shit. Absolutely for shit. It’s gotten to the point where I’d rather watch the acting and dialogue on porn movies.

    Anyways…

    Kurt is a generally good character. In fact, his atheism would have been a really great example for atheists in TV if not for the fact that, in general, but especially in “Grilled Cheesus”, his atheism was used to spread a message of faith. Did not one of the his classmates who consistently prayed for him stop at any point to think that maybe they were wrong in trying to shove God down his throat?

    No. They didn’t.

    But what makes it worse is who the only person willing to support Kurt was:

    Sue Sylvester – Glee
    -Yes. Sue Sylvester is the other atheist character. Why is not surprising that the evil, conservative, bitchy antagonist of the show is also an atheist? If they had made her a YEC Evangelical Tea Party Christian, it would have been one thing… it would have actually fit with her character better. But no… they made her a Dawkins-loving, raging, foaming-at-the-mouth atheist and antitheist.

    I don’t understand why at least Will Schuester couldn’t have also been an atheist. Now *that* would have been awesome.

    Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan – Bones
    -I can’t add to what was already said above, so I’ll just quote it here:
    “Look carefully at the Dr Temperance Brennan character in Bones. She is depicted sympathetically in many regards, and she is certainly intellectually capable, but she is also depicted as a severely socially dysfunctional character, particularly in the early series. It is the devoutly catholic Sealey Booth character who is the one with the tact and the understanding of social nicities – he is also the character who is a traumatised former soldier; who has seen more of the ‘real world’ than the ‘ivory tower’ inhabiting Brennan.

    Time and again Brennan’s character has to be reeled in when she is in danger of running roughshod over others, or has to have pretty basic points about such things as relationships or really any aspect of society outside her narrow field explained to her.

    Her atheism may be intended to be incidental to this, but I am not so sure. It all seems to play back into the pervasive trope that atheists are just ‘off’ somehow – that we don’t really understand how society works, that we just don’t ‘get it’ the way other, normal people do.

    It also doesn’t help that, the more series go by and the longer Brennan and Booth are together, the less prominant Brennan’s atheism seems to be…”

    Family Guy
    -For those of you who may be living under a rock, Seth MacFarlane is another out, loud, and proud atheist. I may be recalling incorrectly, but I think most of his characters are atheists, not just the dog.

    Dr. Gregory House – House, MD
    -This is the one I’ve always hated the most. House exemplifies everything that’s wrong with how the media views atheism. Not only does he fit the bigot’s stereotype almost completely, but his atheism is used as a vehicle to teach messages of faith. And what makes it worse than that is, unless I’m much mistaken, Hugh Laurie is a proud atheist. So how come he allows his atheism to be treated in this manner in his show?

    And then, of course, every supernatural movie and show ever made has the token atheist who is an atheist because of a traumatic event, is an asshole, but ends up “finding his faith” and then dying in some planned manor of heroism that includes his new-found faith and then going to Heaven.

    And now they’ve added a sociopathic serial killer to the list of atheists?

    Oh for fuck’s sake…

    We have a LONG way to go…

  48. 548
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    I’ve got a new stand mixer, yay!

    My fat tortoise-shell (Harley) is staring it down with her ears flat and her tail swishing. I think she wants to fight it.

    Matt Penfold:
    Jealous! Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won’t be released here ’til December. :(

  49. 549
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    We discuss the inherent evil of horses and peas here, but geese, specifically Canada geese? They’re mean and ornery and shit everywhere, including my deck.

    If it wasn’t for the children I would wring a neck or two and pluck and roast ‘em.

    Goose, it’s what’s for dinner. The other white meat. Tastes like chicken.

    Makes me sick that it’s illegal to hunt these stupid things. They’re not endangered, threatened, or even potentially ‘at risk’. Infact, they’re overpopulated and even causing ecological problems in some wetlands. They turn ponds in public parks into sterile, algae-riddled mudpits that smell like a sasquatch’s ass, and on top of that, they menace small children.

    But, they’re called CANADA geese! They have CANADA in their name! Obviously if you kill a Canada Goose, YOU HATE CANADA! (patriotic bullshit isn’t just for Americans). Everyone fetishizes these birds out here for no other reason than someone named them ‘Canada’ Geese. Why can’t we call them ‘Harper Geese’ instead?

    Well, the law can kiss the brownest part of my white ass. If I get an opportunity to predate on a canada goose, that goose is cooked. Laws of nature.

    (end rant).

    Also Sailor, thanks for your comment on my ‘not-Halberd’. I took it on the hunt, and found it very useful for butchering gamebirds. Plus it looks awesome.

  50. 550
    ChasCPeterson

    TLC:
    tell it to the judge

  51. 551
    Pteryxx

    (testing, ignore at will)

    …did I seriously get a post put into moderation queue because I mentioned the Heifer Project?

  52. 552
    Cipher

    It all seems to play back into the pervasive trope that atheists are just ‘off’ somehow – that we don’t really understand how society works, that we just don’t ‘get it’ the way other, normal people do.

    I get that this is a trope and certainly atheist characters should be portrayed with more diversity (in every sense) than we’re seeing now, but really, I’m getting quite sick of this: “I hate it when [category of people I fit into] are depicted as [what amounts to a perfect description of me].” Bonus sick-of-it points for the contrast with “normal.”

    [/pet peeve]

  53. 553
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Chas: As I said, they’re overpopulated. In Stanley Park, they pay people to go around shaking canada goose eggs. They could just kill adult birds and donate the meat to the poor and hungry, or allow carnivores such as my awesome self to take care of the problem (no need to thank me fellas), but that might upset some sheltered city slicker* who doesn’t like to be reminded that yes, meat does come from killing animals, so instead they pay a bunch of people to go around shaking eggs. Because killing a goose while it’s still just an egg is less aesthetically upsetting than killing one as an adult, apparently.

    Even though it would make more sense to actually make use of this vast food source (come on, in some parks the geese don’t even bother to migrate anymore. They’re just a pen away from being another domestic animal).

    Anyways, I doubt I’d be telling anything to the judge, because I’d only do it if I was sure I wouldn’t get caught.

    (* No offence intended to all the wonderful city dwellers in the hoarde. I realize in my passionate ranting I’m dangerously close to making some rude generalizations, and that is not my intention.)

  54. 554
    ChasCPeterson

    *eyeroll*
    Dude, I know all about the geese.
    You know, there just might be other, better reasons for not permitting goose ‘hunting’ in the urban and suburban parks where they’re a problem.
    But I guess they wouldn’t let you express the smug self-satisfaction you get from killing shit.

  55. 555
    Pteryxx

    …Okay, do the egg-shakers get smug self-satisfaction out of it? Because I figured the laws against hunting in urban and suburban areas had more to do with, say, safety, than preventing unwarranted ego-tripping.

  56. 556
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    It goes without saying about the safety, of course. I don’t even own a firearm, FWIW. I do my suburban hunting in other ways.

    I apologize, this is one of those areas where I get a bit… obnoxious. My understanding is that it’s illegal to hunt them anywhere, though I could be wrong on that count. And whenever I bring up the issue with fellow canadians, there seems to be this attitude of outrage as if there’s something sacred about the damn geese. Because of the name. And I know the egg shaking efforts are mostly to avoid upsetting people, because they use to round them up and kill them (and still waste the meat, IIRC) but there was this big public outcry.

    Still, I’m sorry for my badly worded rant.

  57. 557
    Carlie

    I’ve got a new stand mixer, yay!

    Woo-hoo!

    Because killing a goose while it’s still just an egg is less aesthetically upsetting than killing one as an adult, apparently.

    Hmmm, I wonder what all the “pro-life” groups think about that particular regulation. Heh.

    Are there large bird traps that could be used? Then people could take care of the problem without worrying about stray bullets and such in urban areas.

    I’m so relieved. The son with the Aspie diagnosis wanted to have a birthday party this year. We haven’t had a birthday party since the unfortunate one in second grade where I watched six boys playing happily in one room while my son played by himself in a corner of the other room. It didn’t bother him at all, but the tableaux broke my heart and we haven’t had one since.

    So anyway, he brought it up again. We decided that he could ask three friends, and the activity would be apple picking so as to have something for everyone to be specifically doing instead of hanging out in cliques. We had a couple of kids not be able to right away, did some substitutions of other friends, and ended up at today only knowing of one who said yes and another who said no and the other wasn’t sure. I was scared to death we’d end up with zero. But the one who said yes came, and the one who had said no came (not sure what happened there, but it’s his closest friend so that was really good).

    So we had two kids, which made for no lack of conversation, and it all went very well. One kid has gone home, and the one who is the closer friend said he could stay a little longer to hang out (he’s riding his bike home), so they’re having actual fun together (I think). It’s just so hard watching him in social situations.

  58. 558
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Good evening

    Fucking libertarians, how do they work?

    Carlie
    Sounds like a good birthday.
    At her own, very first birthday party, daughter #1 spent 15 minutes crying in her bed because she was just tired and exhausted and the situation was too much. After that she came back and they played all together.

  59. 559
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Well, I Cairo the christians are lynching soldiers. Yep, that’s the religion that has grown out of such acts…

  60. 560
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Hmmm, I wonder what all the “pro-life” groups think about that particular regulation. Heh.

    That’s easy. It’s not the same thing because humans are special and sacred and made in the image of God and totally not just another species of primate mammal, while a goose is just a dumb ol’ bird.

    But I’m not talking about pro-lifers. I’m talking more about people whose view of wildlife is mostly informed by disney films. :/

    As an aspie, I can say it’s pretty hard to be social, but if the motivation is there, we eventually adapt. It’s a bit scary, because of all the creatures I’ve encountered in the world, Homo Sapiens is by far the most unpredictable. Can’t speak for everyone with it though.

    Speaking of which, did anyone see the new south park? I gotta admit I laughed when that one character said “Aspergers isn’t real! Think about it, who would name a social development disorder something that sounds like ‘Ass Burgers’? That’s just mean!”

  61. 561
    cicely

    Shaka, when the walls fell.

    Kadir beneath Mo Moteh.
    -

  62. 562
    Benjamin "Derp" Geiger

    Coyote:

    At least it’s better than “Becker”.

    ####

    cicely:

    Colonel Mustard, with the candlestick.

    ####

    Ethical/moral question: Is it wrong to be hesitant to ask someone out because they smoke? I’ve been talking to someone on OkCupid, and we’re something like a 99% match… and the only problem I see is that she smokes.

  63. 563
    Carlie

    Ben – depends on how much it bothers you. If you’re not sure, be upfront about it, and tell her you’ve never dated someone who smokes, so you’re not sure if you’ll be allergic to the smoke residue. There’s a difference between someone who has a few cigarettes a week and someone who has a pack a day in terms of the odor/interruption/etc., so if she seems like a great person I wouldn’t rule her out just on that basis. Just remember that you can’t then ask her to stop smoking for your sake later.

  64. 564
    opposablethumbs

    Carlie, re that earlier birthday, the one that broke your heart? I have to tell you I have been right there and fuck but the memory still hurts (not an Aspie diagnosis, but “communication disorder – casts a long bloody shadow!). Several years of no birthday party at all because there was not one single person to invite – and he knew it. Only now, years later, is there something of a upswing (because he’s developed a reasonably desirable skill, which partly masks his lack of social skills). Fuck. ‘Scuse me, that hasn’t half set me off!

  65. 565
    opposablethumbs

    Oh, and I’m so glad this apple-picking birthday did work out Carlie – it sounds really nice!

  66. 566
    Walton

    Makes me sick that it’s illegal to hunt these stupid things. They’re not endangered, threatened, or even potentially ‘at risk’. Infact, they’re overpopulated and even causing ecological problems in some wetlands. They turn ponds in public parks into sterile, algae-riddled mudpits that smell like a sasquatch’s ass, and on top of that, they menace small children.

    Yeah… of course, that makes it a wonderful idea to shoot them!

    Oh, wait.

    They’re not endangered, threatened, or even potentially ‘at risk’. Infact, they’re overpopulated [six billion of them and counting] and even causing ecological problems in some wetlands rainforests, oceans, deserts, ice caps, the ozone layer, oil fields, and pretty much everywhere else on the planet where they live. They turn ponds in public parks entire countries into sterile, algae-riddled mudpits that smell like a sasquatch’s ass deforested, industrialized, polluted toxic waste dumps, and on top of that, they menace small children, and anything and anyone else that gets in the way of their insatiable need to consume more and more.

    Thus modified, it sounds like a pretty good description of human beings to me. Just sayin’.

  67. 567
    Walton

    The intended effect of my post at #567 was largely ruined by the fact that the strikethru HTML tag does not, apparently, work on Freethoughtblogs. Oh well.

  68. 568
    Pteryxx

    Somehow, I don’t think giving the Canada geese social safety nets, education, and access to birth control is really going to help much.

  69. 569
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Walton: As I said, and I should have mentioned in the original post, I don’t own firearms, and all my suburban hunting has been done in other ways.

    Also, you get absolutely no disagreement whatsoever from me on your description of the human species.

  70. 570
    Carlie

    opposeablethumbs – I’m sorry I dredged that up for you. :( I’m glad yours is getting along better now.

    Several years of no birthday party at all because there was not one single person to invite – and he knew it.

    We tried and tried to come up with excuses – the easiest being that it was near the start of the school year so it was too early, but yeah. The older he got the more he saw through it. That’s one of the reasons I get so mad at people who say those with communication disorders just don’t like people; he wants friends so badly, he just doesn’t know how to get them or quite what to do with them once he has them. But that need for feeling like part of a group and like someone has his back is still there, and it’s there big.

  71. 571
    Benjamin "Derp" Geiger

    “If you’re not sure, be upfront about it, and tell her you’ve never dated someone who smokes, so you’re not sure if you’ll be allergic to the smoke residue.”

    In my family, there are precisely two people who don’t smoke like chimneys: Me, and my 3-year-old nephew. Most of my ‘friends’ at school smoke. So it’s not a health/allergies issue.

    It’s more a matter of not being particularly willing to lick an ashtray.

  72. 572
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Maybe it’s because I’m a smoker myself, but I’ve actually noticed worse smelling breath in the nonsmokers I’ve dated, though admittedly that’s a sample size of about two. Obviously nothing bad enough to keep me from dating them, but it’s kind of strange now that I think of it just the same.

  73. 573
    Carlie

    Ben – ah. Are you still not sure how much she smokes, though? You can say that you’re sensitive to smoke without it being an allergy – repulsed is a sensitivity, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s fair to meet her knowing she smokes without letting her know that might be a dealbreaker, but it might be losing out if you say no before even meeting on the chance that she smells a lot like smoke.

  74. 574
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    To be fair, I can easily see how being one of the few nonsmokers in a family of heavy smokers could give a person a bit of an aversion to dating one.

  75. 575
    consciousness razor

    Infact, they’re overpopulated [six billion of them and counting] and even causing ecological problems in some wetlands rainforests, oceans, deserts, ice caps, the ozone layer, oil fields, and pretty much everywhere else on the planet where they live.

    You forgot oceans, and other areas where they (we) don’t live. So, yeah. Fuck ‘em.

  76. 576
    consciousness razor

    Damn, you did include oceans. Fuck, I’m too tired to read anymore.

  77. 577
    opposablethumbs

    Oh no, don’t be sorry! I mean, I just suddenly needed to say I knew what you meant, you know? It’s been a few years, and he’s gradually, gradually learned/taught himself a lot of coping skills – at least, compared with how it used to be. But yes, it’s exactly what you said – wanting friends more than anything, but with absolutely no handle on how to get them and what you do with friends. To be honest, a lot of the time I think I sort of shut aspects of it out of my mind. I also feel we’re very lucky in that as it turns out, he has been able to learn some social-type skills and hopefully will continue to do so, so it’s less painful. I just sometimes “forget” how hard he’s had to work at it to get even this far.

    Many hugs, if I may!

  78. 578
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Going back to my original point about canada geese, the population issues with them are also human caused.

    Like I said, just a pen away from being another domesticated animal.

  79. 579
    anonymous

    [de-lurking because I suspect SIWOTI]

    Huh? It’s definitely not illegal to hunt Canada geese in Canada. If I remember correctly, here in Manitoba the daily limit is 5 and the bag limit is 20. You have to be properly licensed to hunt, of course, but goose-hunting is relatively common here in the fall. I think most people realize that the geese are over-populated and are glad to see people hunting them.

    Is it illegal to hunt them in all of the US? That’s crazy!

    [re-lurk]

  80. 580
    Therrin

    <strike>Stricken.</strike>

  81. 581
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Anonymous: No, I’m canadian. I suppose I’m wrong. I definitely recall hearing from several people that it’s completely illegal to hunt them, but they were probably speaking out their ass, or perhaps it’s just a British Columbia thing.

    My fault for not doing proper research.

    On a related note, I’m about to cook up a pair of grouse.

  82. 582
    Tethys

    Classical Cipher

    I am in complete agreement with your peeve. I am very tired of the idea that possessing a high IQ and a tendency towards logic and rational thought makes one abnormal and socially inept. (herd mentality is STUPID!! Why should I want to be part of it?)

    I’m perfectly capable of human social interaction, but find a lot of the social rules and niceties (and people) to be irrational, limiting, and very tiresome. Why shouldn’t I prefer reading a book to going to the local bar with friends to watch football? I get far more pleasure from reading.

    @ChasCPeterson

    Here in the urban Twin Cities, both goose and deer populations are out of control and causing severe disturbance to the ecosystem because their natural predators are gone. Hunting and harvesting excess animals is far preferable to lakes that are nothing but algae and pond scum due to fecal run-off.

    Deer are so dense in areas that they starve in winter. Over browsing is becoming an issue with regards to tree reproduction.

    But you can be sure that every time a special hunt (bow in urban areas) or planned culling (netting geese) takes place that a group of animal-rights people will make lots of noise and file legal motions.

    They never seem to get upset that the entire ecosystem of the lake itself is being wiped out. It’s especially ironic considering that the people who started modern wildlife conservation efforts were hunters.

    Bottom line: Responsible and respectful hunting is completely compatible with nature conservation.

  83. 583
    anonymous

    TLC: Maybe it’s a BC thing. Manitoba has lots of excellent waterfowl habitat, so hunting used to be a big part of the outdoors culture here. Sadly some of our marshes have deteriorated and many of the old duck-hunters have died, but I was out chasing ducks this weekend and had a great time.

    Grouse, yum! Enjoy!

    [relurk again]

  84. 584
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    What did I miss? Who does Rorschach want to sue? The people who messed up the emergency triage/rostering/whatever made it go so horribly pear-shaped?

  85. 585
    Therrin

    Althea: Airport security.

  86. 586
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Hi, thread.

    I was reading a review of the new Steven Pinker book that PZ mentioned the other week. While Pinker apparently does have some useful ideas about moving beyond archaic concepts of “morality” and “justice,” he also writes with an “irreverent” tone to dilute the so-called “piety” that arises in discussions of violence… meaning, you know, empathy, which is all icky and shit.

    The review mentions also that Pinker uses the phrase “campus rape bureaucracy.” I had a grim feeling I knew what was meant by that, but I Googled on it anyway and found it via Google Books, screencapped here. In short: Rape is about sex, women who attend frat parties and drink are to blame if they’re raped, campus feminists are a bunch of ideologues, and right-wingers who pose as “journalists” are credible sources. Bleagh.

  87. 587
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Anonymous: Oh I friggin love grouse. So flavorful.

    Most hunters just rip the skin right off with the feathers, but I prefer to pluck them like little chickens. It’s a lot of work, but I definitely like my birds better with the skin on.

  88. 588
    Rey Fox

    Well, so much for that book. *thbbt*

  89. 589
    David Marjanović, OM

    Bad news:

    I haven’t caught up!

    Good news:

    – Polish elections: mainstream sanity 39.6 %, mainstream insanity 30.1 %, separation of church & state 10.1 % (thus slightly surpassing the predictions).
    – Berlusconi’s party may be about to split in two. A vote of no confidence is planned.
    – I’ll fly to Atlanta later today (Oct. 10th)! I’ve almost finished packing, and I’m at about half the weight limit! :-) :-) :-) If only this night would be longer.

  90. 590
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Completely and totally non-sequetorial:

    Holy crap, they are rebooting Footloose.

    I have no idea how to react. Should I be disturbed? Intrigued? Disgusted? Frightened?

  91. 591
  92. 592
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Rev:

    And the marketing plan elucidated there is frighteningly successful.

  93. 593
    Algernon

    The review mentions also that Pinker uses the phrase “campus rape bureaucracy.” I had a grim feeling I knew what was meant by that, but I Googled on it anyway and found it via Google Books, screencapped here. In short: Rape is about sex, women who attend frat parties and drink are to blame if they’re raped, campus feminists are a bunch of ideologues, and right-wingers who pose as “journalists” are credible sources. Bleagh.

    I’ve discovered this amazing thing. I don’t have to allow things into my life, and that includes the people who will rage and roll around like pigs in a pile of shit over the fact that I don’t care!

    It’s very nice.

  94. 594
    Algernon

    IOW, I wasn’t going to bother to read it anyway because it doesn’t interest me.

  95. 595
    chigau (違う)

    We’re going to an Olive Garden for supper.
    I’ll let you know…

  96. 596
    Carlie

    I barf in Pinker’s general direction.

    I just sometimes “forget” how hard he’s had to work at it to get even this far.

    I know what you mean. We had the transitioning-out-of-IEP meeting last week, and were talking about how mine only had to leave the classroom two times last year altogether for being too upset to stay in class, and that he came back within a few minutes both times. A few years ago, it was 2-4 times a week for up to two hours at a time. I remember the social worker showing us her time charts when she was excited that he had gone down to an average of “only” taking about an hour at a time to calm down enough to go back to class. As hard as it is to be the outcast, it seems like it hurts worse watching it happen to your own kid.

    *hugs*

  97. 597
    ChasCPeterson

    In short:

    *eyeroll*

  98. 598
    Therrin

    I have no idea how to react. Should I be disturbed? Intrigued? Disgusted? Frightened?

    Disappointed that they’re out of (or are unwilling to fund) new ideas.

  99. 599
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    That’s easy. It’s not the same thing because humans are special and sacred and made in the image of God and totally not just another species of primate mammal, while a goose is just a dumb ol’ bird.

    That appears to be behind your argument, in fact.

    so instead they pay a bunch of people to go around shaking eggs. Because killing a goose while it’s still just an egg is less aesthetically upsetting than killing one as an adult, apparently.

    I suspect it has nothing to do with aesthetics. We don’t know how self-aware geese are, but we do know they can suffer. In an egg, not so much (though geese could probably suffer when their eggs don’t hatch or are stolen or destroyed). According to this, it’s considered a last-resort option for control.

  100. 600
    myeck waters

    I’ve eaten domestic goose once or twice, and I find it pretty unpleasantly greasy, unlike duck, which I find very pleasantly greasy.

  101. 601
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Benjamin:

    It’s more a matter of not being particularly willing to lick an ashtray.

    No, it isn’t. It’s a matter of you finding a way to be a douche and show it off. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t pose the question of whether you’d consider dating this woman. Clearly you’re not going to —which is fine—and you just wanted an excuse to talk shit about her being a smoker. “Lick an ashtray?” Fuck you. You think you’re such a treat?

    I totally get that someone might not want to date a smoker. As a former smoker myself, I know the smell of it is far more pungent than I ever picked up on when I was smoking. If that’s a deal breaker, it’s a deal breaker, and it’s best to be upfront about that.

    There’s a difference between that and Being an Asshole to Win Non-Smoker points.

  102. 602
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Geese are a big problem here in the Chiwaukee area. Any new office building or apartment complex must have a pond for aesthetics, so they build one, and the geese come. If the water is warmed, they stay all all winter. Some golf courses will rent dogs to chase off the geese. Repeat business for the dog owners.

  103. 603
    anonymous

    Wild duck and goose are delicious and not at all greasy, although wild goose can be a bit tough if not cooked properly. If you’re lucky enough to get wild waterfowl, I recommend marinating the meat for several hours before cooking. Recipes that work well for beef often work well for duck and goose.

    (I should really come up with a more creative name if I’m going to keep posting.)

  104. 604
    Algernon

    I’ve become over-fond of the hookah. Friends say it is worse for the lungs, but I figure if you’re smoking it once or twice a month rather than every day… it has to be less drastic.

    Meh…

  105. 605
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    . Friends say it is worse for the lungs, but I figure if you’re smoking it once or twice a month . . .

    Eh, big deal. Smoking once or twice a month is a far cry from the damage done by an everyday habit. Eating fettucine alfredo is also awful for one’s health, but no one would say you should never, ever eat it (OK, the Center for Science in the Public Interest would say that, but consider the source).

    I had my once-a-month cigarette tonight while having dinner with friends, and it was glorious. If one cigarette per month (as compared to 1200 a month when I was a two-pack-a-day smoker-yes, twelve-hundred) is going to put me into an early grave courtesy heart disease, then let it. Taking pleasure in life sometimes means doing very bad, naught, awful, not-health-optimal things. Hookah up, Algernon.

  106. 606
    Algernon

    Duck and goose taste wonderful. I don’t know why they’re so unpopular with most USians. It’s tragic. There’s a Chinese barbecue place up the road from me that does an awesome duck.

  107. 607
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    LOVES me some duck. Love it.

    Have never had goose, and I’d really like to. My friend Cath and I keep wanting to roast a goose for Thanksgiving instead of a turkey, but her parochial mother would pitch a fit. What does goose taste like?

  108. 608
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    And I know the egg shaking efforts are mostly to avoid upsetting people, because they use to round them up and kill them (and still waste the meat, IIRC) but there was this big public outcry.

    I’m not even sure what you’re trying to argue here. Of course it’s to avoid upsetting people.

    Geese are a big problem here in the Chiwaukee area. Any new office building or apartment complex must have a pond for aesthetics, so they build one, and the geese come. If the water is warmed, they stay all all winter.

    Ew. Aesthetically pleasing built landscapes shouldn’t have those annoying wild animals messing them up.

    ;)

  109. 609
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Re: The earlier assertion that Sastra is a rare non-jerk among atheists.

    I met Sastra this weekend and had the pleasure of dining with her. She is not only not a jerk, but a completely wonderful person, crazy smart, and a positive fucking role model. I intend to clone her and start my own army of reasonable people.

    So just another of my hunches confirmed.

    Also, among the speakers present, PZ may have the greatest celebrity status. He is the constant target of digital imagery* and fawning. I personally had to line up to fawn, and once the opportunity was at my feet, I fucking failed in the way that I often do. I asked questions motivated by enthusiasm but that came off in a way that I’m sure appeared to be needlessly aggressive. And then, checking my enthusiasm, inadvertently affected the demeanor of a person that did not care about the answers. I do this shit all the time. It got me kicked of the “Madonna: Just Like a Prayer” tour, and may have led to the end of my aspirations to be an entourage dancer. Anyway, it psyched me out so bad that I neglected to ask him to tell me all about his book over a cup of coffee in my hotel room at 4 in the morning.

    *He does cut an impressive figure.

  110. 610
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I do this shit all the time. It got me kicked of the “Madonna: Just Like a Prayer” tour,

    Do not tease me this way. Details. . .I beg you. BTW, it was the Blonde Ambition Tour. You receive one fag demerit for your wrong answer (and don’t go telling me about how you’re bisexual and all; I know that. You still get a demerit).

  111. 611
    Algernon

    I feel bad about not going to Houston. Too many unpredictable things, and the fact that I’ve consumed all of my vacation time anyway.

    It sounds awesome. My employers have been grinding the organ, and I am compelled to dance.

  112. 612
    John Morales

    Benjamin, kiss a smoker, then lick an ashtray.

    I assure you, the experience will be nothing alike.

    * The ordering is important — even smokers don’t lick ashtrays!

    – — –

    NateHevens:

    And what makes it worse than that is, unless I’m much mistaken, Hugh Laurie is a proud atheist. So how come he allows his atheism to be treated in this manner in his show?

    How much does he get paid for that role? ;)

  113. 613
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Josh, OSG: Busted. It was my smoky breath that got me ousted. And the ridiculous claim that I couldn’t really dance.

  114. 614
    anonymous

    Goose tastes a lot like duck. Maybe a tad more likely to be gamey, and a little bit tougher, but if you like one you’ll like the other. I prefer duck, but only because it’s more tender. Goose stroganoff is a wonderful meal.

  115. 615
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Antiochus:

    It was my smoky breath that got me ousted. And the ridiculous claim that I couldn’t really dance.

    Wait. . .are you saying you auditioned to be a dancer? If so, did you meet her?

  116. 616
    Algernon

    Having kissed a smoker, it’s kind of yucky if they have smoked recently or not brushed their teeth since smoking, etc.

    It depends on the brand of cigarette. I’m not kidding, it really does. I don’t know why some smell worse than others.

    It’s much less nasty than ashtrays though. I have a deep hatred of the ashtray smell.

    Also, try kissing some one after they finish smoking a cigar!

  117. 617
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Chas, do you have an actual argument, or did you just want to continue to fanboy for Pinker and pretend that EP as a field isn’t lousy with all kinds of unquestioned privilege and bigotries?

  118. 618
    Walton
    That’s easy. It’s not the same thing because humans are special and sacred and made in the image of God and totally not just another species of primate mammal, while a goose is just a dumb ol’ bird.

    That appears to be behind your argument, in fact.

    I’m glad I’m not the only person here thinking so. This…

    Makes me sick that it’s illegal to hunt these stupid things. They’re not endangered, threatened, or even potentially ‘at risk’. Infact, they’re overpopulated and even causing ecological problems in some wetlands. They turn ponds in public parks into sterile, algae-riddled mudpits that smell like a sasquatch’s ass, and on top of that, they menace small children.

    Here in the urban Twin Cities, both goose and deer populations are out of control and causing severe disturbance to the ecosystem because their natural predators are gone. Hunting and harvesting excess animals is far preferable to lakes that are nothing but algae and pond scum due to fecal run-off.

    …makes me very uncomfortable, as an argument.

    After all, as I was trying to point out obliquely at #597, human beings cause all these problems and more. As (for the most part) humans living in affluent Western societies, we all cause far more ecological damage and consume far more resources than any goose or deer does. Yet no one is suggesting that we should sacrifice our own lives for the greater good of the ecosystem; because we attach an intrinsic moral importance to human life, separate from its effect on the ecological balance. Should we not, then, also attach an intrinsic moral importance, albeit perhaps a lesser one, to the lives of non-human animals? Unless one buys into the religious myth of human exceptionalism, and assumes that humans have some magical mystical special unique quality (a soul, perhaps) that all other animals lack, it seems very hard to argue that the lives of non-human animals are of no moral importance at all in comparison with human needs and interests.*

    I am not saying that culling animals is always or categorically wrong. But many non-human animals have, to varying degrees, traits of sentience, advanced cognitive capacities, individual personalities, and the ability to experience pain and suffering.** That’s something which we are morally obliged to consider in making any moral analysis of when it is acceptable to kill them; and it’s something which Laughing Coyote’s argument failed completely to address.

    (*And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26) Unfortunately, even where Christianity itself has declined, this assumption – that non-human animals are here for us, and that we can exploit them as we please – seems unconsciously to pervade the thinking of most people in our culture about animal rights and animal welfare.)

    (**Obviously, this depends very much on the animal. There’s a pretty big difference in sentience between, say, a cranefly and a great ape, and most people would happily swat the former but would balk at killing the latter, and not just because its species is endangered. I will not pontificate on where geese or deer might rank on this scale of sentience; I’ll leave that to the experts, of whom I am not one.)

  119. 619
    Algernon

    Have never had goose, and I’d really like to. My friend Cath and I keep wanting to roast a goose for Thanksgiving instead of a turkey, but her parochial mother would pitch a fit. What does goose taste like?

    A lot like duck. It’s dark meat, rich, fatty, full of flavor.

  120. 620
    Walton

    On a happier note, I’ve been listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen songs lately. I adore him, both as a musician and as a poet.

  121. 621
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Josh, OSG: Sorry. The whole thing was a fiction. I have never met Madonna. And I can’t dance at all. And I have never had aspirations of any sort.

    I have been known to have smoky breath, though.

  122. 622
    Algernon

    On a happier note, I’ve been listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen

    That’s a happier note?

  123. 623
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    OK, good night, all.

    I’ll leave you with some pictures of the stupid pests I found online.

  124. 624
    Walton

    That’s a happier note?

    In comparison with the topic of shooting geese, yes! Poor geese. :-(

    I’ll leave you with some pictures of the stupid pests I found online.

    Awww. They’re sweet. I’ve always liked geese. (I grew up near a small lake, so there were always lots of geese around.)

  125. 625
    Algernon

    They are cute! We used to have some ducks, actually.

  126. 626
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Algernon: Next year Freethought is in Austin. No idea about the line-up.

  127. 627
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    It surprises me to see Canada geese described as mean or aggressive. I grew up around lakes too, and in contrast with the occasional feralized domestic goose (which would without exception go out of their way to pick a fight or peck a kid) the Canada geese were always retiring and genteel.

  128. 628
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Josh:

    LOVES me some duck. Love it.

    Oh god, me too.

  129. 629
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Canada geese were always retiring and genteel

    Give them a keg and a hockey game.

  130. 630
    Walton

    I discovered a few months ago that there is such a thing as vegetarian duck. I had it once in a Chinese restaurant. Not quite the same as the real thing, though.

  131. 631
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Walton:

    Not quite the same as the real thing, though.

    Of course it isn’t. Otherwise it would be, you know, actual duck.

    (Sorry. Food substitutions drive me nuts. I’ll stop now.)

  132. 632
    Walton

    (Sorry. Food substitutions drive me nuts. I’ll stop now.)

    Oh yes… I recall your hatred of Quorn. :-p I entirely sympathize with your feelings on the subject; though, having gone veggie, settling for food substitutions has become an inevitable part of my life.

    Fake-meat products vary widely in quality, in my experience. Quorn is not very pleasant, in general (it’s dry, dull and has an offputting flavour and texture), and is only tolerable if cooked with lots of spices and the like. The Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages available in the UK are good, but don’t seem to be sold over here.

    I do like tofu, though. (I had an amazing tofu stir-fry with vegetables, brown rice and sweet-and-sour sauce in the cafeteria the other day.)

  133. 633
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Walton:
    Tofu is great, especially if it’s fried just right. As long as it’s not masquerading as something that it’s not, I’ve got no problem* with it.

    (I also love miso soup with fat chunks of tofu floating in it… OM NOM NOM.)

    Quorn is pretty fucking nasty, though.

    *I almost wrote “beef”. Hee.

  134. 634
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Morningstar Veggie Corndogs™ serve as a cromulent vehicle for Zatarain’s Creole Mustard™. For me, it’s all about the condiments anyway.

  135. 635
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    SC and Walton:

    On the surface, it would appear that way. But I can’t say I see it that way. Humans are just another animal. Just as animals weren’t put here for our sole benefit, I don’t like acting like we’re somehow outside of the whole circle of life and death. We are animals just like any other, and I happen to be an animal with very developed predatory instincts. It’s not pretty, I admit. One of the many reasons I don’t think I’ll ever fully fit into society.

    I’m sorry I went all jerky and hyperbolic there. A reaction to the bizarre fetishization of the bird I keep seeing. It’s a game animal like any other, and I’m also sorry that in my hyperbolic style I went and insulted them. Yes, they are beautiful, but they’re also majorly overpopulated and given (IMO) more protection than they really need.

    I might also add that humans are one of the few predators that are generally squicked out by the idea of eating prey that’s still alive, and the way we kill game is often far more quick and humane than the way wild animals kill game.

    Maybe, someday, a larger predator will find me at a bad moment (after all, still plenty of bears and cougars around, and at 130 lbs no shortage of larger humans) and I’ll join the circle of life and death for good. It’s not likely, but it’s possible. And if that happens it’ll be no better or worse than when I snag a rabbit or goose. Of course, maybe I’ll think differently if it ever actually happens.

    I apologize for my rude style. But I’m still gonna kill and eat a canada goose if the chance ever comes.

    Gorgeous photos btw, SC.

  136. 636
    Walton

    Humans are just another animal. Just as animals weren’t put here for our sole benefit, I don’t like acting like we’re somehow outside of the whole circle of life and death… Yes, they are beautiful, but they’re also majorly overpopulated and given (IMO) more protection than they really need.

    Again, what part of this argument couldn’t be used equally to justify killing a human? After all, humans are far more overpopulated than geese are, and our overpopulation causes far more ecological harm than theirs does. And if individual geese don’t “need” protection for their lives, why do individual humans “need” such protection?

    Certainly, non-human animals are not the same as humans, and it can be argued on that basis that they are not fully morally equivalent. But I’m curious. Where do you draw the line? Would you hunt an animal with a high degree of sentience, such as a great ape or a dolphin? If not, how about a pig? After all, empirical research has repeatedly shown that pigs are far more intelligent and have far more advanced cognitive skills and situational awareness than was once believed. (More so, in fact, than cats, dogs or very young human children.) And if you wouldn’t kill a pig, how about cows? Or sheep? There’s a sliding scale of sentience, all the way down to fish, shrimp, crayfish and insects. It’s hard to know where to draw the line, in terms of the value of a being’s life. My point is that, while non-human animals are different from humans, it seems to me hard to sustain the conclusion that non-human animal lives are of so little importance, in terms of human needs and interests, that we should feel free to sacrifice them at will for our convenience when we have no need to do so.

    Since most of us in affluent Western societies don’t need to hunt or to eat meat, I’d argue that the better option, ethically, is to abstain from doing so as far as practicably possible. Of course this depends on one’s economic circumstances and health needs, so I’m not arguing that everyone is necessarily obliged to be a vegetarian. (And, of course, it’s also important to recognize that industrial agriculture kills large numbers of animals in the course of food production, even if one abstains from meat and fish; vegetarians cannot claim to be blameless either.) Of course I should also reiterate that none of this applies to those who eat meat to survive; I would not expect anyone to place a non-human animal’s life above their own. (And there’s a degree of economic privilege involved, since, in a society in which most people are meat-eaters and in which meat is a key source of nutrition, only the relatively-affluent can normally afford to be vegetarian. But that is precisely why those of us who can afford to abstain from meat are those who should do so.)

  137. 637
    Ron Sullivan

    Goose is, well, tasty. I don’t find it to be much like duck, except in comparison to anything else.

    (Parse THAT!)

    But if you haven’t had potatoes fried in goose fat, you haven’t lived.

  138. 638
    Ron Sullivan

    OK, that’s spooky. As I posted that, I heard the local Canada goose flock fly over.

    They hang out in several of the soccer fields/ parks/ too-big lawns here, and commute to the racetrack and/or the Bay. It’s not ponds that are the problem; it’s turfgrass lawns. Break those up with tall bunchgrass or shrubbery, and you get fewer geese.

  139. 639
    Tethys

    @Walton

    I wasn’t making a moral argument about killing geese for human convenience. I am saying that letting the goose population on any given lake get too large means that the lake becomes a cesspit that doesn’t support any life but algae.

    Since the predators that would control the goose population are not as tolerant of living in close proximity to humans as the geese are this creates a human caused imbalance that humans should work to correct.

    Culling excess geese/deer and improving the habitat provides benefits for all the other plants and animals in that habitat.

  140. 640
  141. 641
    chigau (違う)

    re Olive Garden
    I do not recommend it.
    Pasta was over-cooked.
    Beef was randomly-cooked.
    Bread sticks were not-cooked.
    Salad was meh.
    Gorgonzola pasta sauce was actually pretty tasty.

  142. 642
    Walton

    @Walton

    I wasn’t making a moral argument about killing geese for human convenience. I am saying that letting the goose population on any given lake get too large means that the lake becomes a cesspit that doesn’t support any life but algae.

    Yes, I know. I was mainly addressing Laughing Coyote.

  143. 643
    Tethys

    I also want to add that a major source of funding for improving habitat is the sale of hunting licenses and the various stamps that are required. (duck, pheasant, turkey, etc)

  144. 644
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Walton, quoting myself:

    Maybe, someday, a larger predator will find me at a bad moment (after all, still plenty of bears and cougars around, and at 130 lbs no shortage of larger humans) and I’ll join the circle of life and death for good. It’s not likely, but it’s possible. And if that happens it’ll be no better or worse than when I snag a rabbit or goose. Of course, maybe I’ll think differently if it ever actually happens.

    I don’t want to sound like a monster, but I’m not disagreeing with your argument put forth here:

    Again, what part of this argument couldn’t be used equally to justify killing a human? After all, humans are far more overpopulated than geese are, and our overpopulation causes far more ecological harm than theirs does. And if individual geese don’t “need” protection for their lives, why do individual humans “need” such protection?

    Where do we draw the line indeed? I have a slightly different view from yours Walton. Domestic animals suffer far more for our food needs than wild animals do. I feel much less guilty about taking prey, an animal that had every chance to live, breath, eat, fight, fuck, and ultimately, defend itself from me (and usually they succeed), than I do about supporting the modern farming industry, what with the horrendous foul conditions the animals are kept in.

    You mention pigs, and I think they make a good example. No wild pigs where I live, but in the traditional method of hunting (with dogs and a spear/sword/large knife, the technique I’d use if I was hunting one, and by the god I don’t believe in I wish I could do a wild boar hunt) the pig is very capable of self defense, and can easily kill a hunter who isn’t quick enough.

    We get into sticky philosophical ground here, but I honestly believe it’s far more respectful to whatever sentience a pig has to hunt a wild one, as opposed to imprisoning one in its own shit where it never sees the sun for the entirety of its short miserable life.

    Am I making any sense here? It’s hard for me to articulate these viewpoints sometimes.

    Also, Walton, having read other posts of yours, I’m well aware I’ll never convince you of my POV, nor will I ever be able to fully agree with yours. That’s OK with me if it’s OK with you.

  145. 645
    chigau (違う)

    The Laughing Coyote
    Sometimes, discussing food, with people who get all of theirs wrapped in cellophane, makes me cry.
    —-
    Two days of training has left me beaten, bruised, strained, sprained and tired.
    I’m going to bed.

  146. 646
    crowepps

    Walton, I understand your ethical position regarding eating meat and hunting, however you may not be taking into account that hunters both financially support wild lands and form a strong voting block to oppose the destruction of the wilderness which provides wild animals with habitat. If people are discouraged from eating meat and from hunting to obtain that meat from animals which live natural lives, there will no longer be a passionate, wealthy group who advocate to preserve wilderness, and there won’t be any counterpressure against those who wish to develop everything in sight into sterile suburbs.

  147. 647
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Crowepps: It goes without saying, of course, that predator is dependant on prey and those of us who hunt want to be able to continue hunting for a long time.

  148. 648
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Oh yes, and completely unrelated, this: http://www.ksharpe.com/Word/AR77.htm

    Not only does it make sense, I think it makes the markings even more interesting than if they were just obscure shamanic symbols.

  149. 649
    Ichthyic

    random coolness.

    thought controlled, completely self contained, cybernetic suits for disabled people:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15200386

    I had no idea that brain-wave reading tech had gotten this sophisticated.

    “ghost in the machine” might be more reality than sci-fi sooner than we think!

    check out all the other related chip-implant tech mentioned in there too.

  150. 650
    consciousness razor

    We are animals just like any other, and I happen to be an animal with very developed predatory instincts.

    So? Is this a naturalistic fallacy or pointless blather?

    It’s not pretty, I admit.

    We asked for a reason, not for it to be pretty.

    ——

    Where do we draw the line indeed?

    In other words, you have no answer.

    You mention pigs, and I think they make a good example. No wild pigs where I live, but in the traditional method of hunting (with dogs and a spear/sword/large knife, the technique I’d use if I was hunting one, and by the god I don’t believe in I wish I could do a wild boar hunt) the pig is very capable of self defense, and can easily kill a hunter who isn’t quick enough.

    You’re quite enthusiastic about killing animals. You aren’t killing in self-defense when you’ve put yourself in that situation. I doubt you’re in danger of any pigs going out of their way to try to kill you.

    We get into sticky philosophical ground here, but I honestly believe it’s far more respectful to whatever sentience a pig has to hunt a wild one, as opposed to imprisoning one in its own shit where it never sees the sun for the entirety of its short miserable life.

    I love the smell of faux-respect in the morning. Relatively speaking, that may be a more “respectful” way to kill an animal, but only relative to killing it some other way. Have you considered the possibility of not killing the animal, like you’d do for (most) humans?

    Also, Walton, having read other posts of yours, I’m well aware I’ll never convince you of my POV, nor will I ever be able to fully agree with yours. That’s OK with me if it’s OK with you.

    It wouldn’t be okay with me, because one of you is wrong. Though I don’t see much point in arguing with you about it if you’re incapable of changing your mind.

  151. 651
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    You’re right, CR, I’m not going to change my mind.

    Crowepps pointed out that hunters want to, you know, be able to continue hunting, thus the push for conservation.

    To hunt successfully, especially if you forego firearms like me, you need to understand the animals very well. I’m still not near there yet myself. You can’t try that hard to understand and observe wild prey without forming some sort of respect for its abilities, unless one is practicing a canned hunt or something else equally apalling. I wouldn’t call that ‘Faux Respect’.

    I understand that humans aren’t special and that we don’t have any sort of ‘dominion’ over the world. The world doesn’t exist for us to use.

    But in the same vein, we’re another species of animal. We aren’t separate from nature. I’m certainly not above the cycle, even if I do have the capacity to understand it better than the average animal (hence the whole sustainable hunting/respect for the prey angle).

    I don’t really want to change anyone’s mind either, fwiw. Carnivores are generally happier when there’s fewer of them in any given area. Less competition and all that ;)

  152. 652
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Good morning

    As for kissing a smoker: It won’t happen. Get up about it all you want, but I (and I specify I) find it disgusting. I grew up with a heavily smoking mother. I hated every little piece of it. I hated how our flat smelled, I hated how our car smelled, I hated how my mother smelled.
    To this day, giving my aunt or my sister a peck on the cheek is all I can manage. I can’t stand being in my aunt’s flat for more than three minutes. If a place is a smoking-allowed place, I don’t go there. If I can’t avoid being in place where there’s some light smoking, I dash to the bathroom to take a shower afterwards.

    I also reject that smokers are putting themselves into the category of unjustly discriminated against people together with overweight people or disabled people, at least in Germany.
    I accept that smoking is an addiction and therefore a disease. I don’t support outdoor smoking bans (I do support heavy fines for people who throw their stubs onto the floor, especially in parks).
    I think that employers should provide possibilities for smokers to have a cigarette.
    I oppose fines imposed on smokers in health insurance or discrimination in hiring.
    But they don’t get to call themselves an opressed and discriminated against minority (and in Germany you can be sure that within 5 minutes of discussing the issue it is Godwined with “just like the Jews”) because they’re asked not to smoke in public indoor-places.
    Because smoking isn’t just unpleasant for other people like folks who’ve forgotten that things like water, soap and toothpaste exist, it’s demonstrably harmfull.
    And yes, if we lived in a society of reasonable people we wouldn’t need non-amoking laws, because reasonable people understand that this isn’t the appropriate behaviour on a bus.
    But sadly not all people are reasonable. And you often just need one unreasonable smoker for something like the broken window phenomenon to happen.

    As for wild animals: Wild biars are a bit of a problem here. Our house is next to a small woodland area that is part to several smallish woodland areas between different parts of the town. The clever beats are living here like in boar-heaven. Hunting is of course out of question, so they enjoy their liberty to dig up the playground.

  153. 653
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Giliell: if it’s a dealbreaker, it’s a dealbreaker. No one should feel obligated to date anyone who they aren’t attracted to.

    However, I couldn’t help but nod when Josh said this (in response to Benjamin’s ‘licking an ashtray’ comment):

    No, it isn’t. It’s a matter of you finding a way to be a douche and show it off. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t pose the question of whether you’d consider dating this woman. Clearly you’re not going to —which is fine—and you just wanted an excuse to talk shit about her being a smoker. “Lick an ashtray?” Fuck you. You think you’re such a treat?

    I find everything in your post reasonable, but I can’t help but get annoyed with the tone of… smugness? Self righteousness? I see in a certain segment of the non-smoking population out there. Us smokers need to not be obnoxious with our dirty little habits, it goes without saying.

    But I don’t think I’d be bragging (too much) if I assured everyone here that kissing me is nothing like licking an ashtray.

  154. 654
    consciousness razor

    Crowepps pointed out that hunters want to, you know, be able to continue hunting, thus the push for conservation.

    Conservationism is good. Hunting itself, if it is good, isn’t good because of that.

    You can’t try that hard to understand and observe wild prey without forming some sort of respect for its abilities, unless one is practicing a canned hunt or something else equally apalling. I wouldn’t call that ‘Faux Respect’.

    I wasn’t calling that “faux-respect” either. You are either intentionally evading the point or completely missing it. Do you respect humans? I assume so. Is it necessary to hunt humans in order to respect them? No, it isn’t. Wouldn’t hunting humans be less respectful than not hunting them? Of course it would be.

    I don’t really want to change anyone’s mind either, fwiw.

    I can believe that. I assume you don’t think there is a problem with what you’re doing, and you (correctly) don’t think we could stop you from doing it. So what incentive would you have to change our minds? This doesn’t make your position any more reasonable or moderate, though, if that is the implication. You’re just content with the status quo.

    Carnivores are generally happier when there’s fewer of them in any given area. Less competition and all that ;)

    First, how do you know the happiness of a given non-human carnivore?

    That aside, the question stands. Do you apply this same reasoning to humans, or don’t you make at least one other assumption, on the basis of which you don’t remove them as competitors?

  155. 655
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    TLC
    Well, I’m not going to comment on Benjamin’s motivations and behaviour, I don’t know him well enough. If Josh thinks that this is the case and therefore justified to reprimand him in that way, I won’t comment on that.

    I find everything in your post reasonable, but I can’t help but get annoyed with the tone of… smugness? Self righteousness?

    Take it as the tone of somebody who’s been annoyed for more than 10 years of having to put up with smoke in public life (because there are no decent non-smoking laws in Germany. We’re slowly moving towards them) or having to forfeit all public social life. At least I can now enjoy a meal in a restaurant without people smoking left right and centre.
    And yes, I’ve been accused of being “just like a Nazi with the Jews” for suggesting that smoking bans (to the extend I mentioned above) would do all of us good.
    I’ve also been threatened with violence once for asking somebody to please stop smoking in the elevator.
    And I’m fed up with people comparing smoking to being fat, or drinking alcohol, or doing some dangerous sports. Because it is not the same, because all the other things only damage the person doing it (except drunk driving, which is of course forbidden, and severe addictions).
    So, yes, smoking and smoking bans are a topic that usually gets me going and I become “ranty”.
    I think that there are places where I cannot expect to go smoke-free. Somebody else’s home is not my business. I either decline their invitation or put up with it. The open air is for me, by definition, a smoking allowed area (but it would be nice if smokers wouldn’t sit down next to my kids). I don’t like the fact that the smoke from the people living in the flat under mine sneaks up to my balcony and into my bedroom. But I’d never-ever suggest that they weren’t allowed to smoke there. And I’d be an idiot asshole if I stepped into the little pavillon in front of the restaurant where there are chairs, blankets in winter, and ashtrays and then complain about the smoke.
    I know there are unreasonable, dogmatic non-smokers, too, I hope I’m not one of them

  156. 656
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Do you apply this same reasoning to humans, or don’t you make at least one other assumption, on the basis of which you don’t remove them as competitors?

    I don’t know. I’ve never had another human compete with me for hunting space (yet). Most of them seem content to just tell me how cruel it is for me to kill my own meat sometimes. Maybe they’re right, maybe I should just restrict myself to eating meat that’s been killed in a dank shitty smelling slaughterhouse somewhere conveniently out of sight and out of mind. No need to think about it that way.

    As for the happiness of a given non human carnivore, well, since we’re in agreement there’s no fundamental difference between humans and other animals, then I’ll just assume that the things I have in common with other animals that make me happy probably make them happy too- a successful hunt, a full belly, a good lay, maybe win a fight or three. You know, the basics.

  157. 657
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    I’m sorry Giliell, I should have clarified better, I don’t detect any of that said smugness or self righteousness from you specifically.

    I was just mentioning it as a general thing I notice. As I said, I find your position quite reasonable.

    There aren’t many things that make me ashamed of being a smoker (being not susceptible to shame in general it seems) but the idea of a bunch of smokers godwinning when politely asked to respect other people’s space and boundaries comes pretty damn close. I would never be so stupid and insensitive as to compare my plight to that.

  158. 658
    consciousness razor

    I don’t know.

    That’s an appropriate answer. What you were doing before was pretending to have an answer when you didn’t.

    I’ve never had another human compete with me for hunting space (yet). Most of them seem content to just tell me how cruel it is for me to kill my own meat sometimes.

    How awful for you, that “most” people talk to you. That’s well over three billion. Here’s a fun question: should you want to be told you’re doing something bad, or should you not want to be told and continue to do it?

    Maybe they’re right, maybe I should just restrict myself to eating meat that’s been killed in a dank shitty smelling slaughterhouse somewhere conveniently out of sight and out of mind. No need to think about it that way.

    You’re assuming “they” think you should eat meat. Watch out for those false dichotomies; they can pop up in the most obvious places.

  159. 659
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Here’s a fun question: should you want to be told you’re doing something bad, or should you not want to be told and continue to do it?

    See, I don’t mind that you find my ways personally unappealing. And you make a lot of decent points. But I refuse to accept that what I do is intrinsically and objectively ‘bad’.

    How awful for you, that “most” people talk to you. That’s well over three billion.

    I thought it was kind of obvious from context that by ‘most’ I naturally meant ‘most people I’ve personally interacted with.’

    Here’s the deal: Meat = food. Plates of vegetables =/= food, unless garnishing meat. My body simply will not run on that crap alone. Yeah, I’m sure I could figure out and formulate some high protein vegetarian diet, but I much prefer to eat food that actually tastes like food to me.

    I think that acting like humans hold some special place outside the order of nature, like we’re supposed to treat ourselves as totally separate from it, is just as ridiculous as acting like the entire earth was put here for our benefit. Isn’t that just another way of trying to make humans ‘special’? If you’re implying I should feel bad for killing things quickly for food, then lions should feel double-bad for eating buffalo alive and bawling. You can tell me it’s different because the lions don’t have a choice, but it’s not like I have much of a choice. Eating is sorta one of the basic pleasures of existence, after all, and I’ll be horsefucked if I’m gonna give that up just to assuage some feeling of guilt that only human beings (not including myself) appear to feel in the first place.

    You needn’t worry about the wild things. They take care of themselves just fine. After all, I only said I was a hunter. I didn’t ever claim I was a particularly great one. But I’m told even the tiger fails more than 9 out of 10 hunts.

  160. 660
    Birger Johansson

    I am relying on the parallel processing powers of pharyngula readers to solve a question: A Swedish-language science journalist says Steve Jobs did not get surgery right away for his tumour because he wanted to try “alternative” treatments first.
    Do any of you know anything about it? Since Jobs’ disease history stretched over several years I understand it is difficult to keep track of all the details.

  161. 661
    Carlie

    There isn’t any way for a human to exist without wiping out other animals, period. The homes people live in displace animals from their preferred habitat into ever-smaller areas of wild space that is marginal at best, causing them to starve to death. Same way with farms, and no matter how happy and organic the farm is, a lot of animals are going to get chewed up by combines because they can’t get out of the way fast enough. I can understand trying to minimize the amount of life one takes, and I can certainly understand not supporting the industrial animal farming industry, but there’s not much numerical difference in the amount of animals that die for one’s own life between a non-hunter and a hunter. If anything, a hunter is relying less on the industrial farming industry and minimizing the amount of total suffering of animals.

    The only thing I disdain about hunting is the the type of person who spends godawful amounts of money to make it as easy as possible to kill said animal with the most amount of physical comfort possible, and then brags about how macho and talented they are for having “bagged” one.

  162. 662
    Birger Johansson

    REAL cancer treatments:
    The mighty hedgehog: A new approach to cancer treatment published http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-10-approach-cancer-treatment-published.html
    Small molecules can starve cancer cells http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-10-small-molecules-starve-cancer-cells.html
    Thank Offler the Crocodile God that so much progress is made.

  163. 663
    Birger Johansson

    OK, I should have included this in the previous posts:
    Siberian region ‘confirms Yeti exists’ http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-10-siberian-region-yeti.html
    (facepalm)

  164. 664
    consciousness razor
    Here’s a fun question: should you want to be told you’re doing something bad, or should you not want to be told and continue to do it?

    See, I don’t mind that you find my ways personally unappealing. And you make a lot of decent points. But I refuse to accept that what I do is intrinsically and objectively ‘bad’.

    Look, I deliberately made that a general question: note the use of the vague phrase “something bad,” which I did not qualify as intrinsic or objective so it was fairly independent of your meta-ethical assumptions. (I did assume that if you think you should want to be told, that to be consistent you would also want to change your behavior given a compelling justification.)

    Now, given that this is a general question, is that your general answer? You refuse to accept that you can do something bad? That would be … *gasps* … intrinsically and objectively bad, if badness can be intrinsic and objective.

    Here’s the deal: Meat = food. Plates of vegetables =/= food, unless garnishing meat. My body simply will not run on that crap alone.

    No deal. These statements are plainly false. Your body isn’t so fucking special and delicate that it’s unlike anyone else’s.

    Yeah, I’m sure I could figure out and formulate some high protein vegetarian diet, but I much prefer to eat food that actually tastes like food to me.

    So, they’re your preferences rather than a necessity, but you start out by pretending that anyway.

    If you’re implying I should feel bad for killing things quickly for food, then lions should feel double-bad for eating buffalo alive and bawling. You can tell me it’s different because the lions don’t have a choice, but it’s not like I have much of a choice.

    It’s different because I can’t talk to the lions, and even if I could, they wouldn’t be able to formulate complex ideas about their own behavior.

    Anyway, no, none of us have free will, but that isn’t the same as whether there is a choice between eating meat and not eating meat (or eating it less, or only eating particular kinds). You pretend as if it isn’t a physical possibility. I suppose if you’re stubborn or ignorant enough, that could be the case. It is true that I cannot expect much from a lion after telling it to be less stubborn or ignorant.

  165. 665
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I think “sentience” is as subjective and faulty a criterion for basing ethical decisions as any other. I suspect that the reason that “sentience” is such a compelling criterion for so many is that it has a uniquely anthropic quality. We would rather kill a pig than an ape because it is less like we are. We would rather kill a plant than a pig because it is less like we are. However, I am not sure if sentience alone really ought to play a large role in any practical system of ethics*. I am against the killing of humans ultimately because I am a human and I don’t want to be killed. I think a society that is indifferent to the killing of humans is at the very best dangerously unstable. This has nothing to do with the sentience of humans. I would grant a less sentient human the same rights as a more sentient human.

    I am against the killing of apes more because they are rare and because the study of their biology is singularly informative about human origins, in which I am sometimes** interested. Their sentience (as a human quality) is emotionally compelling precisely because it is what makes the great apes so much like we are. But this seems more aesthetic than practical.

    I think that cruelty to animals (ones that we imagine are capable of suffering) is often unnecessary to advancing human interests, and inures people to cruelty in a way that is likely detrimental to humans. Nonetheless, if deer are overgrazing the lakeside daisy, I would cull the deer without losing a second of sleep because the lakeside daisy is rare and biodiversity is valuable. OK. I would probably lose a little sleep, but it’s because I have these pesky emotions. But the decision to preserve the rare species or the threatened environment, over the common and invasive seems ironclad to me.

    *I avoid the word morality because I don’t really know what it means.
    **Only sometimes.

  166. 666
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    The only thing I disdain about hunting is the the type of person who spends godawful amounts of money to make it as easy as possible to kill said animal with the most amount of physical comfort possible, and then brags about how macho and talented they are for having “bagged” one.

    For me, it’s the certain subset of hunters I see who seem to get off on the kill itself in what I can only describe as the ‘wrong’ way. A bloody kill in and of itself shouldn’t be the motivation. I meet all too many people who hear that I’m into hunting and then try to regale me with tales of blasting away at coyotes and leaving them to rot and messy deer hunts gone wrong. That’s partly why I don’t have any ‘huntin’ buddies’. The only person I’ve ever hunted alongside was/is my brother.

    I also kind of think trophy hunting is dumb. Should we not be leaving the more ‘magnificent’ specimens alive to further improve the gene pool? Also, aren’t animals that get old enough to become ‘trophy’ beasts more tough and stringy and less delicious than a younger animal?

  167. 667
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    It is true that I cannot expect much from a lion after telling it to be less stubborn or ignorant.

    I’m flattered but honestly I think you’re giving me too much credit. ;)

  168. 668
    Benjamin "Derp" Geiger

    Tucked in my corduroys
    I’ve got my Beastie Boys
    Tape, fight for my right to party (though I’m not invited)

  169. 669
    consciousness razor

    I think “sentience” is as subjective and faulty a criterion for basing ethical decisions as any other. I suspect that the reason that “sentience” is such a compelling criterion for so many is that it has a uniquely anthropic quality.

    I basically agree, though I don’t think it’s a subjective criterion. Objectively, things are sentient or not. But it is a matter of degree, and the question generally hangs on what degree of sentience matters, as well as how much it matters compared with other concerns, and whether sentience is even relevant in many cases. (It may be a about how some sentient thing acts toward a non-sentient thing, but making that distinction doesn’t answer the ethical question.)

    However, I am not sure if sentience alone really ought to play a large role in any practical system of ethics*.

    Certainly not alone. I think developments in neuroscience in the past few decades has stimulated a lot of talk about it in ethics circles. The other, emotion-driven reasons for citing it probably go way back. (However, I wouldn’t want to completely discredit the role of “emotion” in ethical decisions either.)

    But the decision to preserve the rare species or the threatened environment, over the common and invasive seems ironclad to me.

    I agree they should be preserved … as much as we can, if there aren’t more important things that conflict with that goal. (Is that ironclad enough?) You don’t hear many people advocating for non-animal species, and I think this is very unfortunate. (We’ve had this conversation some time before, if I remember correctly.)

    However, it does seem to have problems similar to sentience as a significant criterion, when you get down to the meat of it. What degree of rarity is enough, how much does it matter compared with other concerns, and is it even relevant in this case or that one?

  170. 670
    Dianne

    Should we not be leaving the more ‘magnificent’ specimens alive to further improve the gene pool?

    In the current context, the more “magnificent” animals are not improving the gene pool but rather weakening it. One major threat to many large mammals currently is humans hunting them for “trophies”. Animals who have showy plumage, antlers, tusks, etc to pass on endanger their offspring by passing on these characteristics, which make them more vulnerable to hunters. So as long as humans hunt animals to stuff and mount them or to use parts of them for aphrodesiacs or jewelry, the less showy animals have the survival advantage. Evolution is obnoxious that way.

  171. 671
    Walton

    FWIW, TLC, I wasn’t intending to pick specifically on you as a hunter. I agree that there’s nothing worse about hunting for food in comparison with eating commercially-produced meat, and I don’t think slaughterhouses are any less cruel than hunting. Like I said, I advocate a vegetarian, pescatarian or nearly-vegetarian diet, for those of us fortunate enough to be in a position to eat such a diet (which, obviously, depends on one’s economic circumstances and health issues).

    Domestic animals suffer far more for our food needs than wild animals do. I feel much less guilty about taking prey, an animal that had every chance to live, breath, eat, fight, fuck, and ultimately, defend itself from me (and usually they succeed), than I do about supporting the modern farming industry, what with the horrendous foul conditions the animals are kept in.

    It depends on the particular kind of farming conditions. You’re right that industrial battery farming is horrific (and should, in my view, be outlawed completely); but there are more ethical free-range farming practices available, although I am sceptical that there is such a thing as “humane” meat production.

    Of course, wild animals have pretty miserable lives too, without any human intervention; many either starve to death, die of infectious disease, or are eaten alive by predators.

    Here’s the deal: Meat = food. Plates of vegetables =/= food, unless garnishing meat. My body simply will not run on that crap alone. Yeah, I’m sure I could figure out and formulate some high protein vegetarian diet, but I much prefer to eat food that actually tastes like food to me.

    Protein is not, actually, really an issue; contrary to popular belief, most vegetarians get plenty of protein. There are other nutrients, though, such as Vitamin B12, essential fatty acids, etc., which it can be harder to obtain from a vegetarian diet. Even so, it is possible for a reasonably affluent person in the US or UK, in general, to eat a nutritionally adequate vegetarian diet (although it depends on where you live, of course).

    I can’t really lecture you about this: I’m generally lacto-vegetarian rather than vegan, and I eat fish very occasionally (three times in the last month, for instance), purely out of convenience and for the sake of health. In a perfect world I’d be vegan, but I’m not prepared to put in the considerable extra money and effort required to eat a fully vegan diet.

    So my argument is not that everyone is obliged to go fully-veggie right now. Rather, my argument is that the lives of non-human animals – particularly those with a high degree of sentience, such as pigs – are important, and we should be considering how to change our food production and consumption habits, within the options available to us, in order to reduce the number of animal deaths. Of course, there are other issues to grapple with – such as what we would do with existing herds of domesticated animals if humans were to stop eating them – and I don’t pretend it’s a simple or straightforward answer.

  172. 672
    Carlie

    Walton – I’m not trying to pick a fight, I’m honestly curious – what is the distinction that you draw that makes fish ok to eat but not land animals?

  173. 673
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I basically agree, though I don’t think it’s a subjective criterion. Objectively, things are sentient or not.

    I wasn’t clear. What I meant was that the choice of that criterion was subjective. However, I’m not sure whether sentience is amenable to a yes/no interpretation. I don’t think that anyone has a very clear understanding of what “consciousnessness” is or even if it is a real thing. Nonetheless, my own experience tells me that my level of consciousness varies continuously between unconscious and…well, I suppose slightly more conscious than that.

    Either way, it’s a slippery slope. Should we use it as a criteria (including others) for making ethical decisions, we need a way of assessing it that not only recognizes the complexity of the assessment, but the error associated with it. We can’t do that now for what we call “intelligence”; to me at least, sentience seems far more nebulous.

    We’ve had this conversation some time before, if I remember correctly.

    We have, and I found it provocative then as now.

    [Meta] I don’t think that what I do counts as “trolling”, but I admit that I often take a position of which I am unsure, but about which am unable to articulate my doubt. I do this for the sole purpose of inciting reasoned criticism of that position. I just want to be honest about what’s going on here. Of all issues, I have the most uncertainty about morality and ethics, and want to learn from others.[/meta]

    What degree of rarity is enough, how much does it matter compared with other concerns, and is it even relevant in this case or that one?

    That’s a tough one. I don’t have a ready answer, although I have a few thoughts on it. I have a shit-ton of work to do today, and I’ll try to get back to this later.

  174. 674
    Walton

    Re smoking as a dating deal-breaker: I don’t think it’s “wrong”, in any ethical sense, to be unwilling to date a smoker. All of us have individual idiosyncrasies of that sort which we can’t help. If I were looking, for instance, I wouldn’t be able to date a dog-owner; not because there’s anything “wrong” with being a dog-owner, but simply because I have a phobia of dogs and am very uncomfortable living around them. It’s equally fair for many people to feel uncomfortable being around cigarette-smoke.

    However, it’s also important to refrain from shaming or lecturing smokers. It isn’t “wrong” to smoke, and people are not less worthy merely because they engage in a recreational pastime that some other people find distasteful. Not that I think anyone was suggesting such, but there is a degree of excessive anti-smoker opprobrium in some circles in our society, which I think is unfair. (Though I agree with Giliell that there are circumstances in which it would be obnoxious to smoke, obviously.)

    (I don’t smoke, personally, and no one in my immediate family has ever done so. Because of this, I’ve never developed the strong aversion to smoke that many non-smokers from smoker families seem to have, although I wouldn’t want to be around cigarette-smoke all the time.)

  175. 675
    PZ Myers

    NEW THREAD!

  176. 676
    Walton

    Walton – I’m not trying to pick a fight, I’m honestly curious – what is the distinction that you draw that makes fish ok to eat but not land animals?

    There isn’t one, and I feel very guilty on the rare occasions when I eat fish. I’m trying to cut it out.

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