Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Race for biofuels heats up in Africa - Many could starve if greed overpowers rational planning

Development Energy and Environment
  • IPCC prepares for review results
    A 12-member review panel tasked with providing an assessment of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change processes is scheduled to deliver its report to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri today. The IPCC came under fierce criticism after leaked e-mails and apparent errors provided climate-change deniers ammunition to challenge the panel's conclusions on climate change in its 2007 assessment. IPCC officials hope to use the assessment to help define ways to update the panel's process for gathering and delivering information.BBC (8/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Race for biofuels heats up in Africa
    The drive to produce crops such as sugar cane and palm oil that can be converted into biofuels is spurring land grabs across Africa that may contribute to food shortages and deforestation, Friends of the Earth says in a new report. Foreign companies have already purchased more than 19,000 square miles of land in 11 countries and in some cases local residents have been forcibly removed from their homes, the group said. Biofuel proponents believe production would be a boon for Africa, providing economic opportunities and helping to battle climate change.AlertNet.org/Reuters (8/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vegan "Life Alive" Restaurant to Open Soon in Central Square, Cambridge, MA

Live Alive home
Our Team
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194 Middle Street, Lowell, MA 01852
Call us at 978-453-1311

We found a gorgeous location right in the heart of
Central Square Cambridge!

will be the home of our second Life Alive!
Soft opening scheduled for August 2010!

We are located in the beautiful historic arts district in downtown Lowell. Right across from the Quilt Museum.

We are finally coming to...
Central Square Cambridge!
will be the home of our second Life Alive!
Soft opening scheduled for August 2010!

Stay tuned for specials and updates on our new space...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Global Human Population EDGES towards 6.9 Billion Humans

Population Clocks

U.S. 310,065,823
World 6,864,229,783
18:48 UTC (EST+5) Aug 23, 2010

Population Finder

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Most blondes aren't!" - Maynard S. Clark

"Most blondes aren't!" - Maynard S. Clark

We've seen a proliferation of hair coloring methods, and it's shocking sometimes how many ethnicities and races are "sporting themselves off'" (a Bushism, if we've ever heard one) as blondes, or rather, as "blondes".

Again, "Most blondes aren't!"
Credit Maynard S. Clark with that one.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Impact of Vegetarians and Vegans United for Global Harmony


Of which http://www.kiva.org/team/happy_veggie has lent $71K




Common Interest

Team URL:


We loan because:

To support vegetarian and vegan entrepreneurs in underserved areas of the world, and to help businesses conscious of the non-human animal species. To promote compassion, and to raise the awareness of speciesm across the globe.

About us:

Vegetarians and vegans acting to promote global harmony. Hoping to establish a formidable presence for the animals on Kiva.

Team Since:

Sep 1, 2008

Impact of Vegetarians and Vegans United for Global Harmony

Statistic Name

Vegetarians and Vegans United for Global Harmony

Number of Team Members


Number of Loans


Number of Loans per Member


Total Amount Loaned


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Making animals stand in line before arbitrary whims and caprices is despicable

Some argue that the study of history shows patterns by which human culture has developed and is likely to develop in the future. In that sense, veganism and animal liberation may be 'next on the social agenda' - "the next logical step after other inequalities" are corrected. Then a long list of social 'adjustments' is given which, in their scenario, need to come first - or rather, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. It essentially means that, first differences of one's birth condition (gender, geographic and social conditioning, wealth, etc.), then behavioral preferences that are freely chosen (this could become nearly anything the human imaginations can contrive), THEN, at long last, after all 6.8+ billion humans get to poke around and delay the MOST basic justice considerations for nonhumans, we concede that, "OK, nothing left to do but let 'em 'get theirs'."

I have a problem with that selfish mode of thinking, and I'm not even sure it's merely selfish.

To my mode of approaching the collage of persons nature brings forward in natural history, it's just irrational to be "writing a blank check" to everything possible the human imagination can contrive while the MOST basic issues of justice and decency are systematically ignored.

What's MORE 'unequal' (or, if we're relevant, more unFAIR) than abusing and killing animals for food?

I don't see that bears any INHERENT relationship to other social movements that those advocates want to put FIRST (though Peter Singer and lots of others - mostly consequentialists or would-be 'utilitarians' - say "Yeah, go ahead! Put EVERYTHING else ahead of decency with the animals!").

For the animals, what matters is the long wait for decent treatment, not some social claims to entitlements by one subgroup from another.

The things you mention are social agreements among humans.

The first right, I think, is one's right to not be killed or abused. In my way of thinking, that's a bodily claim NOT to be caused to suffer, not a social claim to entitlements.

One can be vegan without adopting animals or giving money on their behalf, but one cannot be an ETHICAL vegan abolitionist and speak FOR abusing them.

One can be a consequentialist and (reluctantly) 'allow' SOME of the abuse if the liberation is on its way, but none of these other social movements seems to do anything EXCEPT DISTRACT the vision from liberating animals from abuse and murder. Ask any of the beneficiaries of these other social movements if they're willing to put aside the arbitrary social behaviors dear to THEM that cost animals their lives - loose and reckless living (vivisection), leather flauting (murder of animals), meat-eating (murder of animals), etc.

That's MY $00.02.

Surely we can start by going vegan at a dietary level and clothing ourselves with decent non-animal attire that didn't enslave and murder a nonhuman person. We can bicker about the doing of medical science and medical research, but toxicology is pretty much ready to replace everything (or nearly everything) we've ever used animals for testing product safety.

As far as Peter Singer's viewpoint: lots of folks could accept that without giving any 'rights' to animals, and that's pretty much how he stars out in Animal Liberation (1975) - not believing in ANY person's rights (as a consequentialist or utilitarian). He sees 'rights' as a social construct that is a tool for helping to make things a little better, progressively, for more and more persons.

But in terms of our 'naive empirical' day-to-day experience, just ask how much real PROGRESS we're making in abolishing the abuse and exploitation of animals.

The numbers of animals used worldwide for exploitative purposes has risen, as have the numbers of animals used worldwide for INDEFENSIBLE exploitative purposes (recreational 'fun food' is NO excuse for murdering someone!).

Making animals stand in line before arbitrary whims and caprices is despicable.

The most basic entitlements to decency should be globally built into every social development program and project, as greening and making safe the energy systems of the planet.

Anything LESS is not truly progressive.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pre-Vegan Dinner Prayer

Every 2nd and 4th Friday evening, I enjoy a vegan dinner with friends at the Greater Boston Buddhist Cultural Center in Cambridge, at an event called "Dinner with Dharma". Before the vegan buffet is served and enjoyed among friends, we recite this meditative prayer:

Pre-Vegan Dinner Prayer

Meditation/Prayer Recited Before Eating

May palms be joined together in every world expressing kindness, compassion, joy, and giving.

May all beings find security in friendship, peace, and loving care.

May calm and mindful practice seed patience and deep equanimity.

May we give rise to spacious hearts and humble thoughts of gratitude.

Ci bei xi she bian fa jie.

Xi fu jie yuan li ren tian.

Chan jing jie heng ping deng ren.

Chan quei gan an da yuan xi.

I would like a clear translation of the Chinese, which I think is Simplified Chinese. Chinese Buddhist nuns run GBBCC.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

The worst thing that has happened to me today...

I had almost forgotten that today is Friday the 13th. I noted that just before I went to sleep last night around 11 pm, then promptly forgot it until just about now.

No triskaidekaphobia here, I guess. I learned the word way back around 1st grade when I was about 6 and have remembered it ever since; my memory seems pretty good, but I plumb forgot that today is supposed to be unlucky.

I didn't realize that others may have kept that one item more strongly in their memories. I woke up a little late. My landlady was notably quick to rush out of the way. One of my most friendly neighbors didn't want to say her usually long 'hellos' in the morning as I go past, walking on my way to work. It would be superstitious of me to chalk that all up to Friday the 13th, so I won't, but denying or not recognizing something doesn't make it false or nonexistent.

I don't know what you call my seeming nonrecognition of Friday, the 13th. Avoidance, maybe?

Well, on with my work. Gladly, my grad school course's final exam is NEXT Week, on the 17th. No problemo!

And tonight's LUCKY Chinese vegan dinner ... Yep!

All very lucky!

I was wondering WHY my Asian neighbor was wearing bright RED last night. Entirely UNLIKE her. Usually she wears darks and/or pastels.

Oranges, anyone!?!?

Please note that I DID NOT purchase pears this morning at Haymarket.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Does Chelsea Clinton Have a Vegan "Agenda"? [Oh, don't we wish she had!!!]

Chelsea Clinton and the Vegan "Agenda"
Clinton Mezvinsky Wedding
Getty Images
With all the over-the-top coverage of Chelsea Clinton's not-quite-vegan wedding, the part that I find most interesting is the public reaction to the idea of a vegan wedding. I think that instead of asking whether vegans should impose our diets on our wedding guests, we should be asking whether omnivores should impose their diets on the rest of us. Read more.

Read Doris Lin's Animal Rights Blog at About.com - http://animalrights.about.com

Designing Incentives for Online Question and Answer Forums

Anyone who has posted questions to online forums like LinkedIn and Yahoo! Answers could be interested in this paper: http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~shailij/papers/qa-ec.pdf

Title: Designing Incentives for Online Question and Answer Forums
Authors: Shaili Jain
Chen, Yiling
Parkes, David C.
ID: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:4340771

Shaili Jain
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Yiling Chen
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

David C. Parkes
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

In this paper, we provide a simple game-theoretic model of an online question and answer forum. We focus on factual questions in which user responses aggregate while a question remains open. Each user has a unique piece of information and can decide when to report this information. The asker prefers to receive information sooner rather than later, and will stop the process when satisfied with the cumulative value of the posted information. We consider two distinct cases: a complements case, in which each successive piece of information is worth more to the asker than the previous one; and a substitutes case, in which each successive piece of information is worth less than the previous one. A best-answer scoring rule is adopted to model Yahoo! Answers, and is effective for substitutes information, where it
isolates an equilibrium in which all users respond in the first round. But we find that this rule is ineffective for complements information, isolating instead an equilibrium in which all users respond in the final round. In addressing this, we demonstrate that an approval-voting scoring rule and a proportional-share scoring rule can enable the most efficient equilibrium with complements information, under certain conditions, by providing incentives for early respon-
ders as well as the user who submits the final answer.

3 new publications from Charles Lindsay Nunn at Harvard

Title: Comparative Chewing Efficiency in Mammalian Herbivores
Authors: Nunn, Charles Lindsay
Fritz, Julia
Hummel, J�rgen
Kienzle, Ellen
Arnold, Christian
Clauss, Marcus
ID: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:4340768

Title: Primate Sleep in Phylogenetic Perspective
Authors: Nunn, Charles Lindsay
McNamara, Patrick
Capellini, Isabella
Preston, Brian T.
Barton, Robert A.
ID: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:4340687

Title: Rapid Evolution of Social Learning
Authors: Nunn, Charles Lindsay
Franz, M
ID: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:4340688

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


A term first used on the Internet by the Neuroskeptic blogger

Monday, August 09, 2010

Searching for a "Long View": Jain Diet (and ANY modern OR traditional diet) can be vegan

I'd see NO strategic OR person problems with being more restrictive in one's diet, as long as one has a scientific (both wholistic AND reductionistic?) view of nutrition AND ensures that s/he consumes adequate nutrients, however they are delivered to the body.

My working idea (developed several decades ago) would be "food columns" or nutrient delivery systems in foods, perhaps supplemented by concentrated substances (perhaps not).

Those whose worldview emphasizes (for whatever reason/s and in whatever way/s) a 'natural' diet may wish to ATTEMPT to avoid consuming 'concentrated substances' (nutritional supplements); however, the historical experience of various vegetarian and vegan communities in the late 20th and now early 21st centuries seems to indicate a shift TOWARDS nutritional supplementation that matches the LEVELS in the GENERAL (nonvegetarian) populations that rely on nutritional supplementation.

Rationalizing, explaining, and/or defending any choice to 'supplement' may relate to one's worldview.

In the West, many demonstrably 'religious' persons "compartmentalize" their "quote quote" "religion" into something they 'do' rather than as a whole way of being.

I find that disingenuous, but that's common practice. Hopefully, self-respecting Jains won't "compartmentalize", but hey: I'm not one to criticize. As in politics, I'm an "independent" (and in Western religious terms, as in the UK and Europe, that's called "nonsubscribing").

Does 'nature' make vegan diets for humans feasible, practical, sustainable? I think that the ample historical evidence (particularly of the many different "Asian" populations) is that it seems to be a means of sustaining people PRETTY well. I do think "anthropologically" about how and why many Indian peoples might have Incorporated symbiosis with dairy cows into their nutritional patterns (feeding themselves through the dairy fluids of cared for cows), but I'm not sure that human life has been all that civil MOST of the time.

I suspect that human differences give rise to partial civilization, but that 'synthesis' of many different human elements CAN become historically sustainable IF lots of mental energy (by thinkers and leaders) works to intentionally BUILD a 'social synthesis' that works for the broad and overwhelming majority.

I think vegan diets CAN do that, and that vegan diets CAN do that better than other diets IF we also count the explosion of human population and the ecological impacts of animal agriculture. But that kind of broad picture, "long view" (long-term historical view) of human nutrition seems relatively rare. More often, immediate "decisions" are sought in terms of self-evident REASONS for "giving up dairy" and "going meatless" or "staying veg" - perhaps doing a disservice to the "long view" that (in my opinion) makes the abolition of ALL animal agriculture (for all reasons) highly desirable - not only because of the personhood of the 'farmed' animals, but also because of future "distributed" "personhoods" (going forward in time/history). We respect personhood far better if we commit ourselves to future well-being than if we only count the "extant" persons living today.

That's MY $00.02 (two cents worth).

Sunday, August 08, 2010

ScienceDirect Search Alert: vegan

1.Green eating
The New Scientist, Volume 207, Issue 2772, 7 August 2010, Page 24
Amanda Baker

2.The compliance of medical staff for the routine administration of iron in the 1st year to their children
Clinical Nutrition, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 5 August 2010
Gabi Haran, Lisa Rubin, Ron Shaoul

3.Recreating semi-natural grasslands: A comparison of four methods
Ecological Engineering, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 31 July 2010
Knut Rydgren, Nordbakken J�rn-Frode, Austad Ingvild, Auestad Inger, Heegaard Einar

4.Distribution of saproxylic beetles in a recently burnt landscape of the northern boreal forest of Qu�bec
Forest Ecology and Management, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 31 July 2010
Yan Boulanger, Luc Sirois, Christian H�bert

5.Why did I eat that? Perspectives on food decision making and dietary restraint
Journal of Consumer Psychology, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 31 July 2010
Melissa G. Bublitz, Laura A. Peracchio, Lauren G. Block

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Gifted students should be given freedom to grow [How Free Our Faculty Are!]

Educator: Gifted students should be given freedom to grow
Gifted-education specialist Tamara Fisher unintentionally altered the growth of a tree in her front yard by attempting to guide its development. In this blog post, Fisher urges educators to avoid doing the same thing with their students, particularly top achievers. Teachers should provide careful guidance to all students, she writes, but allow them to grow freely without limits to their growth. Education Week/Unwrapping the Gifted blog (8/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Human medical experimentation in the United States: The shocking true history of modern medicine and psychiatry (1965-2005)

This is part two of a two-part series on human medical experimentation. Click here to read part one and the introduction.

Resolved: Eating Animals Is Indefensible

Bruce Friedrich

Bruce Friedrich

Posted: August 5, 2010 11:25 AM

For the past few years, I've been spending a lot of time on college campuses, discussing the ethics of eating animals with college debate teams; I argue that vegetarianism is an ethical imperative for all members of the student body, and my adversaries (two members of the school's debate team) argue that it's not.

Last year, I visited Harvard, Yale, BYU, the Universities of Texas, Georgia, and Florida -- and dozens of other schools, coast to coast. This fall, I'm slated to visit Cornell, Princeton, Boston College, the University of Minnesota, and half a dozen additional schools.


The topic is a hot one on college campuses, and the teams that have accepted have been rewarded by what they have consistently told us to be their largest event audiences ever. You can watch many of the debates online, if you're so inclined, but here is the crux of my argument:

First, eating meat wastes and pollutes our land, water and air--as I discuss more thoroughly here. Second, eating meat drives up the price of cereals, which leads to starvation and food riots -- as I discuss here. Finally, eating meat supports cruelty to animals so severe that it would warrant felony cruelty charges were dogs or cats so horribly abused -- and that's true even of so-called "humane" farms (video).

Cruelty to animals is where I focus in these debates, because it's the issue that is most obvious: We are a nation of animal lovers -- according to a Gallup Poll last May, fully 97 percent of us support laws to protect animals from abuse -- and yet the animals with whom we come into contact most frequently are the animals we pay other people to abuse and kill for us.

The arguments that seem to resonate with students most deeply are:

First, other animals are made of flesh, blood, and bone -- just like humans. They have the same five physiological senses (i.e., they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch) that we do. And they feel pain -- again, just like we do. At most colleges and universities, students are unanimously opposed to eating dogs or cats; the idea revolts them. Yet there is no ethical difference between eating a dog, cat, chicken, pig or fish. If anything, eating your dogs or cats would be morally preferable, since they would have led a good life until you killed them.

In fact, both pigs and chickens do better on cognition tests than dogs or cats. Chickens can navigate mazes, learn from television and have both a capacity for forethought and meta-cognition. Pigs dream, recognize their names, play video games far more effectively than even some primates, and lead social lives of a complexity previously observed exclusively among primates.

Dr. Richard Dawkins, the foremost living evolutionary biologist, calls other species our evolutionary "cousins" and denounces what he calls "speciesist arrogance" -- the idea that we are better than, and can do whatever we want to other species. Darwin taught us that other species are more like us than they're unlike us. Eating meat entails eating "someone," not "something." Eating meat entails eating bits from an animal's corpse. That's not hyperbole; it's reality. That's not sentimental; it's a fact. Don't want to eat corpses? Don't eat meat.

Second, if we're eating meat, we are paying people to abuse animals in myriad ways that would violate anti-cruelty laws if these were dogs or cats rather than chickens and pigs. Animals are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them; they never breathe fresh air, raise their young, develop normal relationships with other animals, explore their surroundings, or do anything else they would do in nature. Artificial breeding practices are used so that animals will grow far more quickly than they would naturally, and their organs and limbs simply can't keep up. For example, chickens' upper bodies grow seven times as quickly as they did just 30 years ago, so these factory-farmed animals who live for fewer than two months (they're still chirping like infants when they're sent to slaughter) suffer from lung collapse, heart failure, and crippling leg deformities.

Michael Specter, a longtime staff writer for the New Yorker , visited a chicken farm and wrote, "I was almost knocked to the ground by the overpowering smell of feces and ammonia. My eyes burned and so did my lungs, and I could neither see nor breathe... There must have been 30,000 chickens sitting silently on the floor in front of me. They didn't move, didn't cluck. They were almost like statues of chickens, living in nearly total darkness, and they would spend every minute of their six-week lives that way."

Similarly hideous conditions exist for all animals raised for food; rather than further detailing the horrid details, I will ask that you if you eat meat, you watch "Meet Your Meat," which is narrated by Alec Baldwin, and "Glass Walls," which is narrated by Sir Paul McCartney -- I generally show the opening two minutes of Meet Your Meat as a part of my 10 minute opening statement in college debates. Both videos offer a gruesome window into what we're supporting if we choose to eat chickens, pigs and other farmed animals. If we eat meat, we should at least ensure that we know what we're paying for.

If you would not personally slice a chicken's beak off, or castrate a pig without pain relief or slice open an animal's throat, why pay someone else to do it for you? Where is the basic integrity in entering into this mercenary relationship? Is the person who hires someone to do something less culpable than the one who carries out the action? Of course not. Eating meat involves paying people to do things for us that most of us would not do ourselves. Where's the basic integrity -- the consistency -- in such a relationship?

Or, put in a more affirmative way: Vegetarianism allows me to live my values -- to "pray ceaselessly," as St. Paul puts it: Every time I sit down to eat, I cast my lot: for mercy, against misery; for the oppressed, against the oppressor; and for compassion, against cruelty. There is a lot of suffering in the world, but how much suffering can be addressed with literally no time or effort on our part? We can just stop supporting it, by making different choices.

So what's the trade-off: Why do people eat meat? And are the reasons we eat meat -- the benefits -- worth the costs?

Well, we get a few moments of pleasure -- most of us like the taste. We have more options at the grocery store and at restaurants. We can eat over at a friend's house without having to bring a dish. We never have to explain our dietary choices...

Is that really it? That it's convenient? That it's easier?

Although I don't discuss this on university campuses, where everyone knows plenty of healthy vegans and thus knows they don't need meat to survive, I should take a moment to point out that meat is absolutely not good for us. The American Dietetic Association -- the largest body of nutrition professionals on the planet -- conducted a meta-analysis of all the studies that have ever been done on diet and disease, and found that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and obesity than meat-eaters (they believe that the studies indicate causality, not just correlation). Their position paper on vegetarian and vegan dietsconcludes that vegetarian and vegan diets are appropriate for all people and during all stages of life, including infancy and pregnancy.

So add it all up: Eating meat wastes and pollutes our natural resources -- requiring many times the water, land and energy of eating plants (a moral imperative on its own). Eating meat requires about 1 billion metric tons of grain, corn, and soy -- fed to the animals, who burn most of that energy off, which drives up the price of food for people who are starving (another moral imperative, on its own). And eating meat involves paying other people to do a wide variety of things to animals in ways that most of us would never do ourselves.

Put another way: If we believe that people should try to protect the environment, OR we believe that we should try not to cause people to starve OR we oppose cruelty to animals, the only ethical diet is a vegetarian one.

Find recipes, shopping tips, and a lot more information at www.GoVeg.com.