Tough Questions: It’s Shitty, But Is It Sexual Assault?

While scrolling through my news feed, I came across an article in the Austin Daily Globe that caught my eye for its transphobic wording. The caption under the thumbnail read “A woman who blindfolded herself during sex with her ‘boyfriend’ was shocked to learn that it wasn’t a man at all”.

Aaaarrrrgghhhh. It? Really? I clicked on it, expecting to read and rail against some transphobic garbage about a trans-man waiting a while before revealing his gender identity to his girlfriend.

Instead, I proceeded to read a story that was so bizarre, I made sure to check that it was reported by several other news outlets before talking about it here.

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This Week In Zoology: What an Ugly Baby

There is an evolutionary reason why most people find the infant version of most animals adorable. The large eyes and large heads evoke sympathy in humans by exploiting a deep instinct to protect they young of the group, and to recognize them by their body’s proportions.

Given this instinct, it is obvious why the “babies” of pretty much any animal are so much cuter than the adult version. This is a general rule, but goddamn do pigeons violate it.

It had never occurred to me that I had no idea what pigeon chicks look like, despite having grown up in a city that is full of them. I have never liked pigeons, always considering them to be the true “rats with wings” rather than bats, which I find charming and dead useful. So when I came across an article on IFLScience entitled “Why Do You Never See Baby Pigeons?” I clicked on it, realizing that I had never asked myself that question before.

I mean, I never really thought about it because it was always clear by their behavior that they roost in very high places. Pigeons are not ducks, which lay their eggs on the ground, and thus produce young that waddle along behind them. The baby pigeons are in the nest, aren’t they?

Reading the article confirmed what I expected.

“Only if you can see into a nest would you be likely to see baby pigeons,” Debra Kriensky, a conservation biologist with NYC Audubon Society, explained to IFLScience. “By the time they leave the nest, they are already quite large and resemble adult birds more than they do chicks.”

It’s also worth considering that pigeon chicks fledge (leave the nest) within just 25 to 32 days. So, unless you catch them in this brief period at the top of a building, then you’re unlikely to see them.

I bring this article up because the real shocker was not the explanation as to why you never see baby pigeons, but rather it was the picture of the baby rock dove, of which the city pigeon is a subspecies. Truly these birds could not be further from ducks, which produce some of the most adorable babies ever to  come out of the Aves class.

Brace yourself. Baby rock doves and pigeons reside below the fold.

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Complaining for Getting Beaten Up? What a Nuisance

I have mentioned before that I am a TYT fan and member. Generally speaking, I watch TYT because it is refreshing to watch a news program that states actual facts, and then proceeds to voice their own progressive opinions. While I do not agree with them on every opinion they state on the show, the presence and separation of facts from opinions at least allows me to differentiate between the two and come to my own conclusions, regardless of whether or not they coincide with the hosts’.

I also watch TYT because they often cover stories of injustice that are not extensively covered by other media outlets, and often those stories are incredibly important to share because they highlight some deep flaws in the way the justice system is set up which need to be addressed, but will only be addressed if enough people know about them and make a stink about them.

Today, I want to share one such story that raised my hackles considerably, as it touches on a culture which I think everyone on this network despises. This video is about victim blaming in the extreme: a police-enforced victim blaming that almost cost a woman her life. It will also detail the domestic violence that this woman suffered, so be forewarned.

 

Do not be fooled by the thumbnail in this video (in fact, I have no idea why they went with that particular picture), the victim in this case was a black woman, which in part explains why she was treated so abysmally.

For those of you who cannot watch the video right now, here is the gist:

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Environmental Tips: Do You Know About Microfibers?

I often post short videos which showcase interesting inventions designed to tackle an environmental problem. This time, I want to post a video about a few tips that you can do in order to cut down on a form of pollution that is not spoken about very much, and that is microfibers.

You may recall the issue with microbeads found in certain soaps, which pass through water filters and end up in the stomachs of fish and other sea life, which was found to be so damaging that some countries have now banned them. However, another form of pollution which works in a very similar way, and on a much larger scale, are microfibers.

It turns out that, every time you wash an item of clothing, anywhere from hundreds to thousands of microfibers are shed from that clothing and enter into the water supply. Much like microbeads they are small, so up to 40% of them make it into the water supply. Also like microbeads their small size means that they are consumed by wildlife and, while the amount you produce on your own may not seem like much, the accumulated effect of a world full of washing machines is devastating. One research group estimated that “microfibers make up 85% of human-made debris on shorelines around the world”.

Just think about that for a second. With all of those horrid pictures we’ve seen of shorelines littered with plastic bags and garbage, they pale in comparison to the amount of microplastic crap we’ve dumped in our oceans.

The real difference is we don’t see microplastic pollution with the naked eye. It doesn’t make for horrifying pictures, and as such, very few have even heard about it.

So, what are we supposed to do about it? Stop washing our clothes? Hardly. That intro was the downer part, but there are little things that you can do in order to mitigate your contribution to microfiber pollution.

I’m going to look into those filters for my washing machine. I think that is probably one of the most effective ways of cutting down on this kind of pollution.

And who knows! Maybe, if more and more people make a stink about this, we might actually be able to get regulations on how washing machines are produced, or how synthetic clothes are made. If we don’t spread the news, however, that will never happen.

How Was Your Stuff-Your-Face-With-Chocolate Week?

Those of you who live in a Christian-majority country will be fully aware that last week was Easter. Despite the fact that it is a religious holiday I still enjoy celebrating it, mostly because I interpret it as a holiday that is all about cooking and eating awesome food, especially anything with chocolate in it.

So, these are the highlights of the past week, with an actual point of discussion at the end. For the tl;dr, go ahead and skip to the last part below the fold.

This year, Catholic and Orthodox Easter fell on the same day, and half of the people who came over for Easter were raised Orthodox, so I decided to incorporate some Orthodox food  and traditions into the meal. I found an excellent recipe for Cozonac, a traditional Romanian Easter sweetbread, on a food blog, and I was very proud of myself when I managed to make it with no tunnels or failures in rising. We also played what I call “the egg game”, which involves everyone picking a colored hard boiled egg. They then are supposed to say “Christ has risen” (though we left out that part) in whichever language they happen to speak, then bonk the two eggs together. One will crack and the other will not, so eventually one egg emerges victorious. We also made leg of lamb, sweet potatoes, baby potatoes, asparagus and brownies. We stuffed our faces and got drunk on red wine.

I came over all giddy as, at the tender age of 29, I bought my first ever motorized vehicle: a 50cc Honda scooter to get my butt to work. I am embarrassingly proud of myself.

For Stuff Your Face With Chocolate Week, my mother also came to visit. Regular readers of this blog will know that her visits can be… well… contentious, at times. However we were doing very well. She was only here one week, and we managed to make it all the way to the end of it without a single fight.

We almost, almost made it.

At 11pm on the night before her departure, my mother insisted that I watch a 51 minute-long “scientific” documentary which she found immensely interesting, involving a Nobel Prize winner, Luc Montagnier. I had never heard of him, but knowing her love for anything woo I tried every which way to avoid it. She fixated, insisted, and so I finally caved and brought it up on my phone.

If woo makes you upset, read no further.

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The UK Starts to Push Back

Parental consent is a legal gray area, one that different countries tackle in different ways. How much legal authority can a parent have over their child’s life? Where do the wishes of a parent end and the rights of a child independently of their parent’s wishes begin?

Generally speaking, parental consent is supposed to end when harm begins. As straightforward as that sounds it is actually anything but, and different countries allow different levels of leeway before the courts step in and determine that a parent cannot make a certain decision for their child. For example many countries allow parents to decide to physically discipline their children while others, like Sweden, do not allow any form of corporal punishment. Some countries allow parents to refuse certain kinds of medical treatment on behalf of their children based on their personal or religious beliefs, while others do not.

A few days ago, a UK court set a legal precedent by ordering a mother to vaccinate her two sons after determining that her concerns were not reasonable.

We all know that certain children cannot be vaccinated for a variety of legitimate medical reasons. Children who are severely immunocompromised, for example, or children who have an allergy to a component of the vaccine. Her concerns were not based on a suspicion of any real medical diagnosis, however. She was refusing to vaccinate her children on the basis that they are vegan, toxin-free, and that their strong immune systems would inherently protect them against all those nasty diseases anyway.

I am so very, very glad that the judge came to this decision.

As happy as I am that these two boys will receive proper preventative care, it must be said that their father was a strong defender of their health in this case. He brought the case forward, he testified that she was over-protective, paranoid and mistrustful of conventional medicine, and he fought for their ability to be vaccinated from the beginning. With a parent on either side of this issue, I am sure that it was much easier for the courts to come to the right decision in this case. But what about children who have the misfortune of being born to two paranoid, overprotective and mistrustful parents? Who will stick up for their right to access to health care? While I love this step in the right direction, the battle for the protection of children’s health is far from over.

I understand that legal intervention into how a parent raises their children must be expanded with extreme caution. A country which nitpicks your parenting choices, or a state-imposed “correct” way to raise your kids is a country that no one wants to live in. However, it is also important to remember that children are people, not property. They may be too young to make certain decisions for themselves, but they are human beings nonetheless, and as such they should have certain rights and protections under the law. Personally, I think that access to lifesaving  health care should be one of those things that every person, regardless of their age, should have a legal right to.

I am curious to see how this story progresses, and if a test case involving both parents refusing to vaccinate their children will come up. Let’s see if the UK courts take a stand on behalf of all children.

 

Awesomesauce

And I mean that both literally and figuratively. Well, I can only assume that what I am seeing is also awesome sauce… I’ll let the video explain.

 

 

I love every part of this video. It combines innovation, a project aimed at helping people and bettering their lives, and what looks like some excellent food all rolled into one. How could I possibly not love it?

Too bad I’m not going to LA when I visit the States this summer, or I would definitely be giving them a call for an order.

 

Bad Science: Say That Twice, With A Straight Face

Some bad science writers just make it too easy.

The other day, I come across an article that someone posted on Facebook. It was entitled Science Finally Confirms That People Absorb Energy From Others!

Of course you do not have to be a scientist to know that is complete bullshit. Oh dear, I thought, this is one of those rabbit holes that I cannot resist falling into. What new study has been twisted and perverted to fit this narrative today, I wonder? Will they name the scientist that “made the discovery”? Will they just give the name of an institute, and I’ll have to comb through their publications to find the culprit? Or perhaps is the aforementioned “science” performed by just some quack in a yurt in Arizona somewhere?

Where is this article going to fall on my 1-10 Bad Science Bullshit-o-Meter? So, I clicked on it. Of course I did.

If you don’t want to click on it I get it, so let me just quote the first two lines, because that’s the absolute best part.

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I Need This In My Life

When I was younger and visited the States, there was a lot of junk food that I found fascinating. In the beginning I liked most of it as it was so novel, but then over the years I started losing my taste for almost all of it as my taste buds matured and I started to dislike the fake flavor of most of those junky foods. One thing however, which I will always love and adore them for inventing is cookie dough ice cream.

Raw American cookie dough is one of the most delicious things I have ever encountered in my entire life. While it is really bad for you to eat a lot of real raw cookie dough, to this day I have to admit that licking the bowl whenever I make cookies is the single best part of the entire process. That’s why, when I saw this video, I couldn’t help but share it here.

 

 

This is pure food porn for me, so much so that my brain does not want to admit to itself that it exists beyond the realm of fantasy. This is something I really need in my life.

Cookie dough is, I think, my ultimate guilty pleasure, the one I’m most embarrassed to admit to but one that I will never stop loving. Do you have any that you find hard to admit, but can’t kick?

Healthy Sunday Cooking With Crys: Tortini di Verdure

While Italians are not exactly known for their vegetarian dishes, they do eat a lot of vegetables compared to many other cultures. Because of this, you can come across dishes that are vegetarian by accident.

I tend to prefer these “accidentally” vegetarian or vegan recipes to ones that I will often see on veggie/vegan blogs, simply because they are not designed to imitate non-vegetarian dishes. I don’t want to eat a vegan steak, because it is never going to taste anywhere near as good as a real steak, and distantly reminding me of real steak on my plate just makes me frustrated and craving for the real thing. Dishes that happen to be vegetarian or vegan, on the other hand (like those vegan cookies I’ve told you about), were designed to be perfectly delicious all on their own, rather than pale imitations of something else, so I find them much more appealing for it.

Today, I’ll be giving you two tortino recipes, which is literally translated to “small cake”. However this is something of a bad translation, as cake implies flour. When we say tortino, we really mean something in the shape of a cake, but they often more closely resemble souffle, or flan.

Tortino recipes can be either salty or sweet, but today I’m going to talk about two recipes that are salty, and made with vegetables. These make filling and low- calorie snacks, but also good and different appetizers for vegetarian guests (neither of these are vegan though, vegan tortini are coming in another post).

Here, I’ll give you the recipe for a zucchini tortino, and for a cauliflower one.

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