January 25, 2009
Want to Save 1/2 Gallon of Gas a Day? Eat Vegetarian!
Audubon magazine ran a lengthy article on one of my favorite topics, how being vegetarian can help save the environment and reduce climate change more than other energy-reducing efforts.
raising beef, pigs, sheep, chicken, and eggs is very, very energy intensive. More than half of all the grains grown in America actually go to feed animals, not people, says the World Resources Institute. That means a huge fraction of the petroleum-based herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers applied to grains, plus staggering percentages of all agricultural land and water use, are put in the service of livestock. Stop eating animals and you use dramatically less fossil fuels, as much as 250 gallons less oil per year for vegans, says Cornell University’s David Pimentel, and 160 gallons less for egg-and-cheese-eating vegetarians...
livestock production worldwide is responsible for a whopping 18 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gases, reports the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. That’s more than the emissions of all the world’s cars, buses, planes, and trains combined.
So why do we so rarely talk about meat consumption when discussing global warming in America?
Just a reminder that you don't need to become a fastidious vegetarian or vegan to make a difference. You can help even if you take much smaller steps, like changing your lunch.
January 22, 2009
Save the Date! Bay Area Blawgers 4.0, March 18, SCU
Please mark your calendar for March 18, 6 pm-8pm, for the fourth gathering of the Bay Area Blawgers. We'll make a more formal announcement of the event soon. This event is open to everyone and there's no admission charge, but it will be especially interesting to legal bloggers. If you are not on the list of Bay Area Blawgers, please contact me so I can add you. Otherwise, please let me know if you think you can make the event so I can add you to the list of expected attendees in the formal event announcement.
BTW, the theme for Bay Area Blawgers 4.0 will be "Blawger Burnout." I've noticed a very heavy turnover of blawgers in the past 12 months, and I think that will be a good topic for us to explore. There should be plenty of time to discuss other topics and to mingle with other local bloggers.
Prior resources related to the Bay Area Blawgers:
* Announcements of Bay Area Blawgers 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.
* Recaps of the first and third gatherings. Beth Grimm has written an interesting meta-recap.
* Photos from the second and third gatherings.
* List of possible issues for a blawgers' discussion.
* Census of Bay Area Blawgers.
January 18, 2009
Fish = Sea Kittens? Another Odd Campaign from PETA
Reflecting on the numerous times I've blogged about them, it's clear that I have mixed emotions about the animal rights activist groups like PETA and the Humane Society. They have done a lot of important and laudable work, such as the fight over the California cheese ad campaign that "Happy Cows Come from California." However, they have also undertaken some baffling projects that are funny but not in a good way, such as the protest over serving fish at an aquarium cafe (brought by PETA's "Fish Empathy Project," presumably the sponsor of the latest campaign), the effort to put a veggie chicken option on the KFC menu, a misdirected lawsuit against Amazon that's preempted by 47 USC 230, PETA's efforts to manufacture meat in vitro, and the ridiculous crusade against Internet hunting. (I'm also still grumbly about PETA v. Doughney, a terrible initial interest confusion case over "People Eating Tasty Animals" that distorted Cyberlaw for a few years before it was effectively overturned in the Lamparello case.)
The latest effort from PETA clearly falls into the "odd" category. Trying to raise awareness of the plight of fish, PETA is seeking to rebrand fish as "sea kittens". Although I think the idea is that no one could every contemplate hurting or eating cute kittens, people will eat just about anything (1, 2, 3), so I wonder about the premise of the campaign.
I'm sympathetic the rebranding impetus that prompted this effort. Fish certainly don't get the respect they deserve. I'm reminded of the lyrics from Nirvana's Nevermind album that "it's OK to eat fish cause they don't have any feelings."
But c'mon! There is a fine line between brilliance and insanity, and this effort IMO falls on the wrong side. Fish have nothing meaningful in common with kittens, and any attempt to import our positive feelings towards kittens and apply them to fish is so linguistically nonsensical that the branding has no chance of sticking. Instead, it just reiterates that PETA doesn't speak for vegetarians like me. Sorry, guys, you're on your own with this quixotic quest. Meow!
January 01, 2009
Technology & Marketing Law Blog a Finalist for Best Law Blog
I've been running two blogs for about 4 years now, and much of that time, the blogs have operated in relative obscurity. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for the blog's many readers, and I'm always amazed when I meet people for the first time and they mention that they are blog readers. And there have been a few high points, such as occasional blog pickups in Digg, Slashdot, Wonkette (back when that mattered) and the New York Times, but those have been rare--and even rarer in the past 2 years, which I think has contributed to the blog's Technorati ranking now being only about half of its all-time high.
Then, mysteriously, in the past couple of months, the blog has started to pick up "best of" awards (about a half-dozen in Q4 2008). I say "mysteriously" because the blog really didn't receive many such honors in its first 3 1/2 years, so to have them come in a bunch was very odd. I don't have a good explanation for the sudden recognition; perhaps the blog has earned extra gravitas simply due to its venerability, while many other top bloggers of its era have moved on to other things.
In light of this history, you can imagine my surprise to learn that the Technology & Marketing Law blog is one of 10 finalists for the "Best Law Blog" Weblog Award. First, there are many excellent and much-better-known blawgs that didn't make the list but should have. Second, the blog has never tried to cater to a general audience, and the blog intentionally assumes a lot of foundational knowledge about its subject matter. I get emails all the time from readers asking me to explain the legal basics better and stop using so many acronyms, but we've deliberately kept the conversation sophisticated. Third, the blog doesn't look like a paradigmatic "blog"--the average post is probably close to 700 words (with some posts over 2,000 words), and there are almost never as many as 5 posts in a week. So to be recognized as a finalist despite all of these irregularities is stunning to me.
I have no illusions about the blog's chances of winning--they are zero (not 1%, but 0%). There are 4 major players in the category that have defined the public's perception of what a legal blog looks like (Bashman, Volokh, Above the Law and the WSJ Law Blog). Each of those sites has at least 10x the number of readers that the Technology & Marketing Law Blog has, and it would be truly shocking if one of those four didn't win. So feel free to vote for the blog if you want, but consider it more like a statement vote (like writing in Daffy Duck for president), and I won't be campaigning for votes. For a niche blog with a small target audience, just being a finalist is plenty of recognition.
As always, many thanks for your continued readership. Happy new year!