Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Age of Oblivion: Another End of Decade Rant

Of course  calendars are a construct and don't mean anything, but the end of the year and, even more so, the end of the decade are useful times to take stock.

In pop culture, we have the Ecco Homo moment as a cultural foreboding - the chutzpah to insist on a fix that pretends to be completely oblivious to the destruction of former beauty. We've done that with our whole planet. But more than that is the fame it brought to the amateur restoration worker, driving up tourism dramatically. We are positioned to celebrate destruction of beauty more than creation. This could be bookended with the acknowledgment and then immediate justification of "billionaires in wine caves" having more power than the rest of the populous; that a politician will be attacked for refusing to be bribed is a sign of our times.

The New York Times got a random smattering of people to answer: What Will the World Look Like in 2030?, twelve years after we were told we have twelve years to fix everything. It's a terrifying read. I've smushed some pertinent bits together here:

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Game Changers: A Bit about Persuasion and Reason and Eating Your Vegetables

I've come to believe that determining the very best diet is as individual as figuring out the best course of action to treat anxiety or depression. We are each our own guinea pig. Individually, we each have to try a few things, gradually, while monitoring our energy levels, abilities, and general feelings of good health and wellbeing, to see what actually works for us. That takes time to get right. I was raised on meat and potatoes, but then I read Diet for a Small Planet when I was a teenager, and it convinced me to eat low on the food chain. Ever since, I lean towards fruits, vegetables, and grains with the occasional brick of cheese melted on top, and an even less frequent gorge on chicken wings. After having cancer and reading many studies on the correlation between animal consumption and cancers, I hesitate to eat animal products quite so much. To clarify, I still eat them because ... yum!, but I sit with some cognitive dissonance each time. I clear my conscience with my favourite salad: a bowl of raw vegetables smothered in cilantro and basil, no dressing. I don't get repeat invites to potlucks.

I just watched The Game Changers (their sources are here), and I'm going to try to sort out the fact from fiction in the film as well as in some of the many 'debunkings' I've found, which are sometimes equally suspect.

It's fascinating to me how often passion overrules reason in these discussions. What is it about food that makes people swing to the extremes? I've written before about even the brilliant Chris Hedges getting sucked into some weak evidence, and I've met many reasonable people who don't see any problems with some of dubious claims on only this issue. There's often an outrage just below the surface of these docs that suggest that, if you don't believe it, then either you're a horrible person or a complete idiot. I'm not convinced by the outrage. I'm not a nutritionist, and I'm definitely not a foody, but I do have a background in research methods and in logic and critical thinking. And some claims made in this field, on both sides of the aisle, are really problematic. Full disclosure, I have been vegetarian a couple times, for a few years each time, but I've never even tried to be vegan despite opening my classroom doors for a plant based club each week. Maybe this is the time to give it a shot.