April 22, 2008
PETA Encourages Production of In Vitro Meat
PETA is funding a $1M prize for the "first person to come up with a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012."
I don't know much about in vitro meat, but I can see why it would be so controversial. In vitro meat reduces or eliminates the ethical/animal rights and environmental justifications for vegetarianism, which makes eating meat a more justifiable decision. On the other hand, any health concerns about eating meat would remain, plus for many existing vegetarians, our diet is so ingrained in our lifestyle that we can't fathom eating meat under any circumstance. (And, for "vegansexuals," that includes intimacy with a meat-eater).
At minimum, it's easy to see why the PETA move would be controversial among its members and employees. After all, it runs completely counter to the "meat is bad" mantra that has been thoroughly instilled into them. Personally, I have no interest in eating "in vitro meat" but I applaud PETA for taking an aggressive approach to address some of the major social ills associated with meat manufacturing.
April 21, 2008
Coyote Ridge and Wildflowers
I think of Santa Clara County as mostly urban/suburban. After all, it's home to one of the 10 largest cities in the country (San Jose) and one of the world's largest and most vibrant economies (the Silicon Valley). However, it's also a place of amazing beauty and unexpected wilderness areas
As part of my continuing birthday celebration, yesterday I went on an organized hike to Coyote Ridge, operated by the Silicon Valley Land Conservancy. Coyote Ridge is hardly untouched wilderness; it's adjacent to a garbage dump and the 101 freeway, and it's been thoroughly invaded by exogenous plants and animals. Even so, just 20 miles from downtown San Jose, it provides habitat for all kinds of fauna, including badgers, coyote. elk and eagles, and many rare flowers that grow in its serpentine soil.
Fortunately for me, today the wildflowers were at their peak. It's hard to capture the beauty of California ablaze with wildflowers, but take a look at these Flickr photos nonetheless. As you will see, I love California poppies!
April 15, 2008
Slinky Birthday Cake
I'm celebrating a big birthday this year. For the kids' birthdays, Lisa has been making neat cakes from the Coolest Birthday Cakes website such as a schoolbus cake, a Curious George cake and a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake. (See my exam question about this website). Lisa asked me what kind of cake that I wanted, and I said I wanted a "Slinky Cake." If you think about it, this is a very tall order, especially because there were no templates at the websites.
Despite the challenge, Lisa outdid herself with her version of the Slinky Cake:
See the full 4.4MB version.
UPDATE: The cake is now on Coolest Birthday Cakes.
April 06, 2008
Lawyer Named One of 25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians
I'm backlogged as usual, but reading through the August 2007 issue of VegNews, I saw that Christine Garcia of the Animal Law Office was named one of the 25 most fascinating vegetarians by VegNews. I'm a little unclear on the state of her practice; her website says that she is not taking any new clients until mid-March 2007. Looks like her website could use some updating. But the vignette about her practice was nevertheless inspiring, especially this part:
"I offer a vegan discount to clients. Anyone who seeks my services is entitled to a sliding discount depending on how many days a week they pledge to adopt a vegan lifestyle....I implemented this because I hated representing people's animals, then going out to lunch with them and seeing them eat more animals."
This is the first time I've heard of a lawyer offering a vegan discount, but I respect someone who puts dollars behind her beliefs.
April 05, 2008
Oh come on, not again. The NYT once again is trying to suggest that blogging kills bloggers. See the last time this topic came up. Hey NYT, I venture to say that working for the NY Times is, per capita, far more hazardous to one's health than blogging. Why don't you write THAT story?
April 01, 2008
Bloggers' April Fools Jokes
Maybe I'm just a killjoy, but I don't think that bloggers' April Fools jokes are funny. I feel like we as bloggers have to work really hard to develop credibility, and the whole point of an April Fools joke is to abuse that credibility to get readers to buy into the implausibility of the gag. As a result of April Fools, the blogosphere is awash today with lots of not-credible information, and we as readers are struggling to sort truth from fiction. It makes for a tough blogging day.
I think the problem is especially acute with legal-related April Fools joke. The problem is that at this point, there are so many true stories of ridiculous legal claims and other tomfoolery that it's impossible now to disbelieve anything. In this respect, I'm reminded of the Coca-Cola advertising campaign where Coke executives were thinking about suing Coke Zero for "taste infringement." This is supposed to be funny--putatively, there isn't such a thing as "taste infringement," is there?--but in fact such a claim is hardly inconceivable and, if brought, would not be all that funny for the defendant or consumers generally. More generally, it's almost impossible to create a ridiculous enough fictional legal claim as the basis of an April Fools gag when reality far outstrips our wildest imagination.
So my recommendation to bloggers: if you want to keep me as a reader, don't abuse my trust with an April Fools gag. Rather, if you want to do something humorous, entertain me and your readers with the numerous real-life stories that are even more outrageous.