Why I don’t Care About Your Feelings

OK, that’s not exactly true. In the moment I may well care that you’re upset, distraught, angry or whatever else you might be feeling. However, when it comes to deciding on a course of action, then I’m afraid, your feelings count for fuck all.

Consider the above video, which is – of course – an absurd extension of the point.

The Prime Minister, here, is absolutely convinced that the cause of the mass unemployment afflicting the country is pixies. He believes the pixies to exist, he is sure they are the cause of the problem and he seeks to educate the public on the matter of the evil pixies in order to address the problem.

He feels and thinks that it is pixies, but of course, we know there’s no such thing as pixies and – as such – pixies are extremely unlikely to be responsible for mass unemployment. No amount of effort expended in the pursuit of stamping out ‘all manner of goblinry’ is likely to have any discernible effect on the unemployment figures and the whole enterprise is a massive waste of time. His feelings about the pixie threat, his personal – subjective – experience makes no difference.

Useful action, with any chance of success, has to stem from good and accurate information. It’s not always going to be as obvious (as pixies are) that an analysis of a situation is wrong, but we must always start from a basis of truth. In that situation, the only truth your feelings can illustrate is how you feel, not what’s objectively, actually true.

So when I ‘don’t care about your feelings’ it’s NOT actually that I don’t care about your feelings, it’s just that if we’re dealing with a real problem, they’re about as relevant – in the fact of facts – as pixies.

Good talk.

Sex is Oppressive; To Men

imagesCAYKT4J6This is an exercise in satire and gender-bollocks in the form of ‘frog boiling’ by slow degrees of seemingly relatively sane propositions, building to an irrational whole. I was curious how easy it might be to make a lunatic case using the kind of nonsense I have run into reading blogs and papers on Gender Studies issues and this is the result. References are intentionally as poor or comedic as I have run across in serious works and while there’s some truths or half-truths presented here, it’s intended as an exercise in bullshitting.

Introduction

Trigger Warning: This paper is concerned with heteronormative intercourse between cisgender individuals. Same-sex and trans intercourse is beyond the scope of this work.

There is a somewhat common conception that normative, heterosexual intercourse is necessarily an imposition on the woman and a matter of oppression.

Whether this comes from Dworkin’s ‘Violation is a synonym for intercourse'[1] or Lady Hillington’s ‘Lie back and think of England'[2] it seems that the two sides of the political spectrum, left and right, both agree that sex is an horrible ordeal and an unwanted imposition. While Dworkin’s words are often claimed to be misrepresented, at least some modern feminists agree with her radical statement, making this a subject worth investigating.[3]

While unwanted or duty-oriented sex may indeed be a momentary imposition oppression is defined as ‘prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority‘[4] which would require a much broader context than the mere act itself.

In this instance I argue that there is a much stronger case to be made that the act of sexual congress is an imposition and oppressive societal act upon men.

Approaching Intercourse

The oppression inherent in the pursuit and act of intercourse begins long before things might reach the bedroom. Men are expected to take all the risks and to make all the outlay.

Men are still expected to make the first move in approaching a potential partner[5].

Even in long term relationships men are expected to initiate the sex act[6].

The requirement for men to perform well (bring their partner to orgasm) and its precedence over other laudable qualities as a mate is a broadly accepted societal ‘meme’ or ‘trope’, even celebrated in pop culture[7].

The emotional risk at each step falls primarily upon the man. Incidental factors such as the cost of dates etc falling primarily upon the man[8] are also there. With that risk comes the possibility of emotional harm, loss of status, mockery and pain on par with physical harm[9].

It is not a stretch to consider this cruel, prolonged (lifelong) and an exercising of authority, as affirmative consent always lays with the woman, backed up by the power of the state[10].

The Act Itself

Should the man approach a potential partner successfully and initiate intercourse without rejection, his ordeal is not over because his pleasure and needs are almost entirely incidental to to act of physical love.

Male pleasure is devalued during intercourse via a combination of physical, social and relational impositions.

Physically, it typically takes a man 5-7 minutes to come to orgasm (intravaginally) while a woman generally takes at least 20 minutes of stimulation to achieve orgasm.[11][12]. Men have a refractory period of at least 15 minutes while women do not have a refractory period at all[13].

If sex were to be described as a game, then the ‘win state’ is the female orgasm and, for the majority of the period of intercourse the male orgasm would be considered a ‘fail state’ as it would bring an end to the act, and without having achieved the ‘win state’. After the female partner has achieved orgasm, the male orgasm – male pleasure – is virtually incidental and of much lesser value or concern.

The goal is almost never the male orgasm and this is reflected in media depictions which linger upon the cries and wild physical motions of a woman in the throes of ecstasy but which barely depict men’s pleasure, let alone ejaculation.

Even in pornography, a supposed misogynistic haven, whether acted or not the actors – and thus via transference the viewer – establish their virility and sexual worth by bringing their partners to (fake or genuine) orgasm.

This is even true at the more extreme end, of male-dominant BDSM and rough sex works which, though they would seem to be fixated upon male dominance and pleasure offers the same orgasmic female cues as mainstream erotic cinema and offers disclaimers in which the female performers assure the viewer (and presumably critics) that they enjoy what they’re doing wholeheartedly – returning the narrative to their pleasure and denying the viewer even the fantasy of being given primacy in the sex act[14].

Consequences

However safe one tries to be, sex can have consequences. The most consequential of these possible consequences is, of course, pregnancy and here again the oppressive tendency against men continues.

In the case of unexpected or unwanted pregnancy women have plenty of reproductive rights and options, across the western world. These run from abortions to adoptions to safe-haven abandonment laws[15].

In stark contrast men have absolutely no reproductive rights, whatsoever. They are held accountable for any offspring resulting from intercourse regardless of their wishes and even, in some cases, when their own sexual consent has been violated[16].

 

Conclusion

From initiation to conclusion and consequences, sex is an oppressive act against men. They are expected to expose themselves to rejection, dejection, loss of status, loss of partner, pain and harm in pursuing it. The cost of pursuit primarily falls upon them. During sex the man’s pleasure and comfort is deprecated in comparison to that of the woman – whose pleasure is paramount and not incidental. Should the sex result in an unwanted child the man has zero recourse and can be forced into indentured servitude in service of his sex partner and their child until the child achieves maturity. At every stage this is enforced by both social convention and the state and, given the innate physical nature of sexual performance differences between the genders it is hard not to see this oppression as gendered.

[1] Intercourse: A. Dworkin
[2] http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/close-your-eyes-and-think-of-england.html
[3] https://witchwind.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/piv-is-always-rape-ok/
[4] Oxford English Dictionary (online version)
[5] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-how-and-why-sex-differences/201104/why-dont-women-ask-men-out-first-dates
[6] http://www.today.com/health/ivillage-2013-married-sex-survey-results-1D80245229
[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUYaosyR4bE
[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2562054/Chivalry-not-dead-Most-men-pay-date-women-secretly-happy-do.html
[9] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/guy-winch-phd/this-is-your-brain-on-rej_b_3749885.html?utm_hp_ref=science
[10] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/education/edlife/affirmative-consent-are-students-really-asking.html
[11] Waldinger, M.D.; Quinn, P.; Dilleen, M.; Mundayat, R.; Schweitzer, D.H.; Boolell, M. (2005). “A Multinational Population Survey of Intravaginal Ejaculation Latency Time”. Journal of Sexual Medicine.
[12] http://www.webmd.boots.com/sex-relationships/guide/what-happens-to-body-during-sex
[13] “The Sexual Response Cycle”. University of California, Santa Barbara.
[14] http://www.sexandsubmission.com/site/?c=1
[15] http://worldabortionlaws.com/
[16] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/05/nick-olivas-alleged-rape-victim-_n_5773532.html

#JeSuisCharlie Ceci N’est pas un Bomb

charlie-hebdo

A paedophile, a murderer, an epileptic madman and the prophet of a major religion walk into a bar.

“Morning Mohammed,” says the barkeep.

Did you laugh, did you even smile? Then you’re marked for death, as I am for writing it, as anyone could be for drawing a stick figure and writing Mohammed beside it.

Cartoonists have been gunned down for standing up against the increasing censorship in our society. This makes me feel terrible and pathetic because I recently backed out of one the other important fights about free expression that are going on simply because I was told to by my friends. While others are standing up and being shot, taking on Islam’s hatred and arrogance, I am sitting down and stepping back from fighting the far less violent forces of ‘social justice’.

In the face of what we’re seeing now, that seems like it was a mistake, however good the reasons for doing so.

Still, it’s clear that even in the face of an atrocity like this, people are still unwilling to admit there are problems. Problems with censorship, problems with religion, problems with Islam in particular.

Here is an unreformed, barbaric religion whose followers, globally, support – in the majority – stonings, Sharia Law, the death penalty for ‘disrespecting the prophet’. Even in the UK alone, with its relatively progressive Muslim population, 40% are in favour of imposing Sharia Law, 20% had sympathy with the 7/7 bombers and some 78% thought mocking the prophet deserved prison with 12% agreeing that it should be punished with the death penalty.

Even today it is virtually impossible to get even moderate Muslims to condemn the killings. They simply, at best, stay silent.

Islamic sensitivity is far from our only issue though and perhaps those incapable of or unwilling to examine their own censorious issues and hypersensitivity are excusing Islam for more personal reasons. We’re not so immune to this creeping madness. One need only look to the Twitter Joke Trial, the recent arrest of the gentleman who made an off-colour joke about the Glasgow Truck Accident or Criado-Perez’ prosecution of her (predictably pathetic) trolls for ‘threats’ that were obviously spurious. One could also look to Gamergate and gasp at the sheer hypocrisy of those who ARE standing up for free expression against gun-toting Islamists but who didn’t dare to raise a peep against other – less violent – forms of censorship.

While they may not be shooting anyone, yet, is there really any difference between the claims that insult amounts to ‘real harm’ from the religious:

Because it is, and I pick my words carefully here Mr Choudary, ‘fucking insane’. You’ll note, also, how he uses the ways in which we have already chipped away at the edifice of free expression in his arguments:  

The answer is not to ban or prohibit Islam, or indeed any other form of expression, no matter who thinks it is hateful or dangerous (unless it can be show that it actually is). The answer is virtually always ‘more speech’.

  • Holocaust denier? Hit them with stats and mock them.
  • Anti-immigration racist? Show them the economic data, and mock them.
  • Climate change denier? Show them the data, then mock them mercilessly.

Anything and everything must be open to mockery and it is these same, vital, Enlightenment principles of free expression, satire and free society that also make us free to protest and expose the actions of our governments, which are sometimes blamed as being the ‘true reason’ behind these barbaric attacks upon artists, writers, comedians, film-makers and others.

The Trouble With Vegans

dinocard4Vegans and vegetarians will tell you all kinds of nonsense to try and convince you that their way is not only the best way, but the only way. The arguments can take many forms from ethical and environmental to health and even some rather esoteric spiritual ones – which we obviously scorn on this blog.

I was given a link to a supposed 101 Reasons to Go Vegetarian and, frankly, a lot of them are a whole load of crap. So here comes the skepticism.

Before the skepticism though, it’s worth noting a few things that are true. Raising meat does take a lot of resources and we do eat too much of it. Animals are often raised in horrible conditions. These things – and others – all happen for reasons though. Some of them good, some of them pragmatic, some of them purely commercial.

So, on with the reasons…

01. Every year in the UK we feed our livestock enough food to feed 250,000,000 people while in the world 30,000,000 people die of starvation.
Animals eat things we don’t – like grass. It’s simplistic and idiotic to think that somehow simply because we stopped raising animals (which would lead to them all being killed off anyway) that food distribution issues would change. The reason that people are starving is a combination of cost and distribution – not meat. We make enough food for everyone already – more than enough.

02. 20 vegetarians can live off the land required by one meat eater.
If you can call it living, but seriously, that depends on the land. We can use land for raising livestock that we can’t use for raising crops. This is especially true of sheep and goats. The sea, also, isn’t too great for raising plant crops. There’s also the fact that plants are seasonal while animal flesh can be harvested at any time of year as is needed. This is also forgetting crop rotation and leaving the land fallow from time to time.

03. Every 3 seconds a child dies of starvation somewhere in the world
See 1.

04. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 10% it would free 12,000,000 tons of grain—enough to feed 60,000,000 people (the population of Great Britain).
05. If all Americans became vegetarian, it would free enough grain to feed 600,000,000 people (the population of India).
See 1.

06. Intensification in animal farming has displaced 1,000,000’s of people from their traditional lands—eg. indigenous people in south & central america, native americans in north america & crofters in Great Britain — this is continuing today.
This is an argument against inhumane business practices and large scale agricultural corporation, not against raising meet. Indigenous people raised animals themselves.

07. People displaced from their lands into cities succumb to dietary deficiency, diseases, parasites & opportunistic diseases
This has nothing to do with vegetarianism, but displacement of populations and lack of efficiency in food distribution.

08. In third world countries 1 in 10 babies die before their first birthday.
This has nothing to do with vegetarianism. Interestingly though, malnutrition and developmental disorders in very young children have been lessened by as little as a spoonful of meat every day.

09. The UK imports £46,000,000 worth of grain from third world countries to feed our livestock.
See 1.

10. Due to overgrazing 850,000,000 people live on land threatened by desertification & over 230,000,000 already live on land so severely desertified that they are unable to sustain their existence & face imminent starvation.
Overfarming land will do the same thing. Properly managed, the presence of animals will fertilise soil. Sometimes in crop rotation animals are allowed to graze when the field is not being otherwise used for just this reason.

11. 1,000,000,000 people in the west gorging on meat & dairy leave 1,000,000,000 to waste away & 3,500,000,000 teeter on the brink.
See 1.

12. If they continue to clear American forests to raise cattle at the present rate, in 50 years there will be none left.
Mismanagement isn’t an argument for vegetarianism.

13. 1 acre yields 165 lbs of beef or 20,000 lbs of potatoes.
It’s just not that simple. See earlier comments about crop rotation, spoilage etc. Also farming plant crops takes more in the way of pesticides, fertiliser and agricultural equipment than people think. It’s not as clean as people like to think. You also get nutrients from meat you can’t get from veg – and vice versa.

14. 8/10 of cultivated land in the UK is used to grow food for animals (14,732,000 hectares).
Still not an argument for vegetarianism.

15. It takes 16lbs of high protein soya to produce 1 lb of beef.
This is not an argument for vegetarianism.

16. Since 1945 in the UK we have lost 95% of flower meadows, 50% of ancient woodlands, 40% of heathlands, 50% of wet lands & 224,000 km of hedgerows all due to animal farming.
Not just animal farming. Much of our landscape since medieval deforestation has been shaped by animal grazing. Ironically, that includes heath and meadows. Animal fields used to be bounded by hedgerows as well, that’s nothing to do with animal farming.

17. Pressure on land due to meat farming leads to soil erosion 6billion tons/year in the USA.
See previous comments about underestimating the impact of plant farming.

18. If everyone went vegetarian up to 90% of land used for animal farming could be taken out of production & used to replant woodlands, leisure activities etc.
Again, animals can be raised on land unsuitable for farming. We’d be creating more pressure for crops and it’s extremely unlikely that this land would be allowed to revert to wilderness in any case. Much more likely it would be used for housing and development especially as its currently in private hands.

19. 25% of Central america’s forests have been destroyed for cattle grazing since 1960.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

20. Between 1966-1983 38% of the Amazon rain forest was destroyed for cattle grazing.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

21. 90% of cattle ranches established on cleared forest land go bankrupt in less than 8 years as the land becomes barren due to nutrient loss & overgrazing.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

22. Overgrazing by cattle is destroying the land & increasing desertification, nearly 430 million acres in the USA alone has suffered a 25-50% reduction in yield since first grazed.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

23. An inch of topsoil takes 200-1000 years to develop—yet in the USA they have lost around 1/3 of their prime topsoil in 200 years (around 7 inches) due to animal farming.
And other forms of farming, cash crops etc. Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

24. Land will be lost due to rises in sea level due to global warming due to animal farming.
Attaching global warming to animal farming is… interesting. Agriculture does contribute, but industrialisation is the big problem. Ironically, a hotter, drier future will better suit raising animals than crops. Petrochemicals and derivatives used to raise crops contribute a huge amount to global warming. We can do without them, but organic farming is 1/3rd less efficient.

25. The destruction of the rainforest by cattle farmers is destroying the lungs of the planet & reducing the worlds capacity to replenish our oxygen supply.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

26. The 1,300,000,000 cattle in the world emit 60,000,000 tons of methane per year (methane is a greenhouse gas & leads to global warming).
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

27. Burning of forests, grasslands & agricultural waste associated with animal farming releases 50-100,000,000 tons of methane per year.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

28. Combining these figures, 25% of methane emissions are due to animal farming (not including the billions of sheep, pigs & poultry so the real figure is much higher).
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

29. Fertilizer used to grow crops to feed to animals releases nitrous oxide — thought to account for 6% of the greenhouse effect.
And the same with food crops. Which you would propose to increase.

30. Fertilizer, weedkiller & pesticides sprayed on crops enter the atmosphere creating a noxious carcinogenic cocktail.
This is an argument against vegetable crops.

31. CFCs are released into the air from refrigeration units used to store decomposing flesh (meat), milk & butter—CFCs are destroy the ozone layer.
CFCs have been eliminated in some countries and are scheduled to be phased out virtually completely by 2020. We took action on CFCs far more effectively than we did on global warming.

32. Ammonia from animal urine also pollutes the atmosphere.
Ammonia’s also a great fertiliser. Good luck feeding the world without fertiliser.

33. CO2 is released by burning oil & petrol in lorries, ships, abattoirs, dairies, factories etc. associated with meat & dairy production.
And with vegetable farming.

34. Emissions from large chemical plants which produce fertilizer, weedkiller & other agricultural chemicals are also poisoning our air.
And these are used in vegetable farming.

35. 25 gallons of water to produce 1lb of wheat & 2500 gallons to produce 1lb of meat.
In neither case is it ‘used’, but rather cycled. Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

36. UK farm animals produce 200,000,000 tonnes of slurry (liquid excrement) every year, the majority of which ends up in our rivers.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism. Slurry is a great potential energy source and source of fertiliser. Which you need for growing crops.

37. Bloody waste water from abattoirs ends up in our rivers.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

38. In the USA every second humans produce 12,000 lbs of effluent while farmed animals produce 250,000 lbs.
See fertiliser and fuel above.

39. Nitrates & pesticides used on crops grown to feed livestock end up in our rivers.
And the same thing happens when they’re used on crops to feed humans.

40. Meat & dairy farming uses 70 litres of water per day per animal in the UK or 159,250,000,000 litres per year in total.
Cycles water, doesn’t use it.

41. The water used to produce 10 lbs of steak is equivalent to the average consumption of water for an entire household for an entire year.
Cycled.

42. Depletion of groundwater reserves to grow crops for animals & to supply abattoirs will lead to greater water shortages.
Water is also needed for food crops.

43. Aquifers (stores of underground water) in the San Joaquin valley in the USA are being drained at the rate of 500,000,000,000 gallons/year to produce meat.
Food crops still need water too.

44. 18% of all agricultural land in the world is irrigated & as global warming increases (partly due to animal farming) it will cost $200,000,000 to keep these systems going.
And animals can be raised on non-arable land.

45. The water used to produce a 1000 lb beef steer is enough to float a Destroyer battleship.
Cycled.

46. The liquid waste from the various parts of the meat & dairy industry flow into the rivers & from there into the seas polluting them & encouraging huge algal blooms to grow .
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism. Algae is a potential food and fuel source.

47. To produce 1 calorie of energy from meat takes 60 calories of petrol, whereas growing grains & legumes to directly feed people produces 20 calories for each calorie of fuel used ( thats 1200 times more efficient).
As covered earlier, producing and shipping crops is not as efficient as you think.

48. Meat & dairy farming uses billions of gallons of oil to run tractors, fuel ships & lorries (to move animal feed & animals), pump billions of gallons of water to irrigate fields & run slaughterhouses, power refrigeration units to prevent the corpses from decomposing & to power sewage plants to clean up some of the pollution produced.
So do food crops.

49. Cattle convert only 6% of their energy intake (mainly grains & soya) into flesh, the remaining 94% is wasted as heat, movement (which is why they keep many animals in very close confinement), hair, bones, faeces etc.
These bald statistics are not an argument one way or the other and fail to take in the whole argument.

50. 1lb of beef takes 1 gallon of petrol to produce.
Stop taking your cattle drag racing.

51. A family of four eating beef for a year uses enough petrol to run a car for 6 months (obviously depending on how far you drive!).
So many of these are rephrasings of the same argument I think the writer must have been short of the 101.

52. If the full ecological cost of meat was passed onto the consumer the price would be quadrupled (at least).
This would be true of most foods.

53. The EC spends o100,000,000’s to subsidise animal production resulting in lakes of unwanted milk & mountains of unwanted meat & butter. This money could be better spent encouraging organic fruit, vegetable & grain production.
Then we’d have mountains of those instead, which we already do anyway. Subsidies and overproduction are a different problem. Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

54. In the USA in 1979 145,000,000 tons of crops were fed to cattle resulting in only 21million tons of animal bodies the cost of the wasted crops was $20,000,000,000.
Wasted? What were the cattle worth?

55. Between 1950 & 1985 grain production in Europe & the USA increased massively but 2/3 was fed to animals.
And nobody in those countries is starving. Redistribution is a separate issue.

56. 70% of all grain is fed to animals.
And 99.9% of grass (excluding wheatgrass) is fed to animals rather than humans. So what?

57. Eating vast quantities of animal flesh, eggs, milk & butter is a luxury that most of the planet can not afford.
Economically speaking this would be an argument for increasing supply to meat demand. It also fails to note that many poor families will raise pigs on waste or chickens that can scratch around on non-arable land for important protein and micronutrients.

58. Fishing with drift (and other modern) nets weakens & destroys ecosystems by indiscriminately killing billions of sea creatures & disrupting the sea bed.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

59. Fishermen’s nets kill 10 times as many other animals as the fish they are hoping to catch.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

60. Fish caught in nets die an agonising slow death of suffocation.
It’s unclear how fish – and other ‘lower’ organisms experience pain. Conversely, drowning or suffocation is meant to be one of the more pleasant ways to go in  humans.

61. Each year 15,000,000,000 land animals are slaughtered for food & an unknown but much larger number of sea creatures (including 1000’s of dolphins caught accidentally)
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

62. Chickens are crammed into battery cages with upto 3 other birds, they are unable to even spread their wings & many can not even stand up
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism. It is unfortunate and horrible but efficiency and cost are controlled by factory farming conditions.

63. Unwanted male chicks (because they can’t lay eggs) are gassed or pulped while their sisters go to the battery sheds
See above.

64. Chicks are debeaked without anaesthetic to prevent them injuring each other in the unnaturally confined conditions they are kept in—this is equivalent to having your fingernails pulled out without anaesthetic
See above.

65. Modern farming methods using growth hormones & artificial lighting mean that many chickens out grow their bones, resulting in fractured & broken legs
See above.

66. Sows are kept tethered in stalls 1.3 x 1 metre on concrete or slatted floors—they can not even turn around
See above.

67. Poultry raised for meat are kept in windowless broiler sheds, with around 20-30,000 in each shed, they live in an area of 10-20 cm square—fighting due to overcrowding is common & like battery hens they commonly suffer from supperating bed sores
These are all the same argument.

68. Broilersheds are artificially lit 23 hours a day to produce rapid growth
This too.

69. Animals travel between farms & to slaughter in overcrowded transporters with no food or water—resulting in stress, injuries & deaths—legal requirements are widely ignored
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

70. 95% of poultry suffer injuries before being killed & 30% suffer broken bones.
Many of these stats seem to come from dubious sources, even so, these are the demands of a burgeoning ~8billion world population.

71. Problems with stunning practices mean that many animals have their throats slit while still conscious (around 6% of cattle or 200,000 per year) & are then dipped in tanks of scalding water (to loosen feathers, bristles etc.) again while fully conscious.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

72. 4000 animals die spurting their blood out every minute in a British slaughterhouse.
This is not an argument.

73. Calf leather comes from animals killed at just 2 weeks old.
So, it’s not wasted. Good.

74. Cows were fed on the ground up remains of other cows & sheep—the result is thought to be BSE (mad cow disease) in the USA cattle are fed partly on recycled plastic pellets.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

75. Cows only give milk for 10 months after they have a calf—so they are routinely artificially inseminated (ie. mechanically raped) to keep them pregnant & milking—their calves are taken away (usually at 12 hours old) for meat or export to veal crates.
‘Mechanically raped’ shoots any credibility this list might have had in the head. Veal is an issue, but one with a few practical solutions (pink veal etc).

76. Cows would naturally live upto 20 years but are slaughtered after 5-7 years when their milk production begins to fall.
End milk farming and they’d ALL be killed. Its economics and its nasty but… 8 billion.

77. In the UK animals are killed by first being stunned with electricity or a captive bolt gun (ie. a bolt is fired into their heads) before having their throats slit & being plunged into boiling water—all this happens on a production line with the animals being hung upside down from a moving conveyor belt—this is factory farming.
And it’s more humane than halal and other forms of similar slaughtering. Again, this isn’t really an argument for vegetarianism, it’s a description.

78. “Animals are those unfortunate slaves & victims of the most brutal part of mankind”—John Stewart Mill (philosopher).
Slaves? Hyperbole. As a utilitarian Mill would almost certainly accept the need to raise animals for food but wish to limit the suffering.

79. Veal calves are confined in stalls in the dark, unable to move & are fed on pigs blood, chocolate & dried milk (we are drinking the rich fresh milk of their mothers).
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

80. Cows naturally produce 5 litres of milk per day for their calves—under the intensified systems of modern farming they produce 25-40 litres per day — resulting in swollen & inflamed udders—at this rate they are soon worn out.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

81. Large areas of land are under monoculture to grow crops to feed to animals—these areas are wildlife deserts supporting fewer & fewer species.
Food crops are also grown in monocultures.

82. Vegetarians have a 20% lower rate of mortality from all causes (ie. they live longer & don’t get sick as often).
Comparing vegetarians to the general public is not a valid comparison. Anyone who takes a particular interest in their diet – as most don’t – will be healthier than the average. An omnivorous diet is the most natural and healthiest for humans with everything in moderation. Veganism in particular is actively dangerous for pre-adolescents and can cause developmental problems – especially in the nervous system. The kinds of supplements used to compensate for lacks in vegan diets require a chemical industry with a lot of wastage and pollution. They’re also much less efficient at delivering nutrients than meat.

83. Meat is full of traces of antibiotics, hormones, toxins produced by stress & pesticide residues that become concentrated from all the crops they have eaten.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

84. Fish contain heavy metals & other pollutants -many of which originated on farms.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

85. The world health organisation recommends a diet low in saturated fat, sugar, salt & with plenty of fibre—exactly what you get on a vegan/vegetarian diet.
They don’t recommend cutting out meat.

86. Farmed animals contain upto 50% saturated fat in their bodies.
Not all saturated fat is bad and we need some.

87. Vegetarians have 24% reduced risk of getting heart disease & Vegans a 57% reduction (heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK accounting for 50% of deaths).
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

88. Obesity is rare in vegetarians, obesity is related to many diseases.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

89. Vegans & vegetarians have lower blood pressure & cholesterol levels—high levels are associated with heart disease, strokes & kidney failure.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

90. Vegetarians have a 50% reduced risk of dying of diabetes.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

91. Vegetarians have a 40% reduced level of cancer than the general population thought to be because they have a higher intake of vitamins A,C & E.
See previous comment about bad comparisons. It is irresponsible to suggest that vitamins are a magical cancer cure.

92. Vegetarians have a reduced risk of developing gall & kidney stones.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

93. 80% of food poisoning is due to infected meat (faeces, bacteria etc.) after all meat is decomposing flesh—most of the rest is due to salmonella in eggs.
You can also get food poisoning from vegetables. Not just flesh. ‘Decomposing flesh’ is a sensationalist way to talk about meat. Regardless, we’re evolved to eat it.

94. Osteoporosis due to calcium loss from bones is mainly due to the sulphur content in meat & casein protein in milk that cause calcium to be lost in the urine—the countries with the highest meat & dairy consumption are those with the highest levels of brittle bones.
See previous comment about bad comparisons. Milk does not drain calcium from your bones and it’s one of the most efficient ways to ingest milk. This is dangerous disinfo.

95. 50% of people do not have the enzyme to digest milk properly & milk allergy is related to asthma & eczema.
Those of us who do, evolved it as a survival strategy. Allergies of all kinds are related to asthma and eczema. Mould spores used to trigger mine.

96. Meat eaters have double the rate of Alzheimers disease as Vegans & Vegetarians—some people also think that Parkinsons disease is also linked to meat eating.
Due to BSE, which is an argument against mismanagement and greed, not an argument for vegetarianism.

97. Egg yolk is a dense concentration of saturated fat & the white is high in albumin protein associated with leaching calcium into your urine. Butter is 80% saturated fat, cream is 40% saturated fat & cheese is 25-40% saturated fat.
You need some and some forms are not as unhealthy as we were lead to believe. Eggs are a great source of protein and chickens can be raised on very little.

98. Meat eaters are two and a half times more likely to get bowel cancer than Vegetarians.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

99. The cling film used to wrap meat in supermarkets & butchers contains chemicals linked to falling sperm counts in men.
Which is why they’ve been phased out. A larger source appears to be the contraceptive pill in women – amongst others.

100. Chinese people (living mainly on a vegetarian diet) consume 20% more calories than Americans but Americans are 20% fatter.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

101. Of 2,100,000 deaths in the USA in 1987, 1,500,000 were related to diet (ie. meat & dairy).
See previous comment about bad comparisons. ‘Diet’ is not equal to ‘meat and dairy’.

Some of the propaganda here is obvious, where the mask slips. We do need to reduce meat intake and increase vegetable intake. We do need to farm more responsibly and control pollution, but we also need to feed the entire world and if you think you can do that by going vegetarian, you’re very much mistaken. To be completely healthy humans – omnivores with sharp teeth, mid length intestines and a need for fats, protein and micronutrients – we need to eat some meat. Just less.

This is Twitter Feminism

Do double standards get any more explicit? It’s enough to turn you MHRA.

 

Fucking Misogynistic Cunts

download (1)This nexus of gender politics and… well, anything, is like a year-round Santa providing a never-ending supply of deep-fried comedy gold. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. I seem to exist at the perfect nexus of topics to always have something to roll my eyes about when it comes to this. I’m a skeptic, a nerd, a gamer and a writer which means practically every day there’s some kind of internet kerfuffle relating to one of these as the strident ‘social justice’ warriors try to flex their moral-majority muscles to force people to conform in exactly the same way they’d decry the Christian right doing. (They get confused with Islam because they’re a minority experiencing prejudice but also have horrible beliefs).

If you were following the recent moral panic about trolling that hit the television you may have seen the Atheism+ cardinal ‘Oolon’ (double heresy, he’s a dickhead who uses Bod as a Twitter avatar and a Douglas Adams reference as his nickname) promoting his ‘Block Bot’. In principle the idea of a ‘block bot’ is a good one, a shared list of trolls and ne’er-do-wells in much the same way that programs like Adblock share lists of advertising sources to block them or that spam filters share keywords and sources to stop you getting all the spam you otherwise might. The trouble is that while an advertisement or spam mail is fairly cut and dried, what constitutes trolling is much more delicate and down to interpretation. It’s a much more nuanced and human problem, requiring discernment, which means it’s – at least for now – not something you can automate.

The practical upshot of this is that any block-bot list is, necessarily, going to have to be compiled by human beings. Vindictive, nasty, dishonest, cunty human beings. Cunts – literal and metaphorical – being the one thing Atheism+ is by no means short of. Predictably what this has meant is that mere disagreement with Atheism+, radfem dogma or not being the ‘right’ kind of feminist has lead to people being blocked as trolls. Pre-emptively blocked even, by those stupid enough to accept the block-bot at its word and automatically block whatever is on its list. This has lead to at least two ‘old school’, egalitarian feminists (what Christina Hoff Sommers calls equity feminism) being blocked by the block-bot at the A+ ideologues and probably a great many more. It has also meant a lot of people who simply question and demand evidence – such as myself – have been blocked. If I now swear and treat A+ and its ilk dismissively it’s because of bitter experience, not prejudice (judice, if you will).

One of the most ridiculous reasons given for some of these blocks is use of the word ‘cunt’.

For some reason ‘cunt’ has been elevated to the level of unholiest of unholies, the unutterable Word of Curse, the unspeakable oath, Americans, in particular, seem to take great exception to the word. Culturally there’s less of a taboo elsewhere. Here in Britain for example it’s used with relative ease and has nowhere near as much impact as it does to Americans. My wife, originally a yank, takes great pleasure in shouting the word, especially when there are other Americans around to be shocked. The SJ/A+ goonsquad has taken this to the level of saying that anyone that so much as uses the term is a misogynist.

I’ve never understood the taboo around swearing anyway. Why is ‘fucking cunt’ more insulting than ‘fornicating vagina’? Why would the first elicit fisticuffs and the second laughter? They mean the same fucking thing after all. Still, the point of most swear words is that they touch upon taboo. ‘Shit’ – excretion, ‘Piss’ – urination, ‘Cock’ – gender organ, ‘Cunt’ – gender organ. If ‘cunt’ is misogynistic then surely ‘cock’ is misandrist isn’t it? Man hating just as ‘cunt’ is woman hating?

I have an alternate hypothesis. Swear words just use taboos as a release of tension, an adding of emotional emphasis. While they talk about our ‘bits’ and our taboo activities (sex, death, pinching a loaf, draining the lizard) they do so through code words and euphemism because these things make us uncomfortable. Some of us. It doesn’t make them inherently misogynistic, misandrist or, indeed, anything else.

To paraphrase Jeremy Webb:

“Swearing is wonderful, and if you don’t like it, you can fuck off.”

The Real Dr Skeptic

Hypochondriac's NightmareOh dear PZ… you keep sinking lower.

Dr Skeptic is sitting in his office when a Mr Myers bursts in and tells him on behalf of an anonymous ‘friend’ that they caught leprosy from someone at a business conference. While rare this is within the bounds of possibility, but Dr Skeptic can’t do anything to confirm or refute this self-diagnosis without examining the patient. The claim is sufficient to investigate, but not sufficient – especially without the actual patient – to assume it to be true. Even though leprosy is a serious disease and a more infectious version would be big trouble.

To diagnose the patient Dr Skeptic will need to see them, examine their symptoms and come to a conclusion based on what they can see. The anonymous friend dropping by with a feasible but unlikely scenario isn’t going to do that.

Let us also say, for arguments sake, that Mr Myers – and this alleged leprosy victim – are also members of a self-help group for hypochondriacs and that members of this group have repeatedly turned up at Dr Skeptic’s door insisting they have brain cancer after having spent all night on WebMD entering their symptoms. Might – an established pattern of behaviour having emerged – Dr Skeptic not be somewhat justified in treating the leprosy claim with a pinch or two of salt?

Of course, they might really have leprosy, but if – for years – you’ve had Ms Watson coming to the clinic and claiming her skull is infested with scorpions just because she got a slight headache that went away when she took some ibuprofen, a reluctance to take it seriously isn’t that hard to understand.

Claims made, without evidence, should not be taken as true whether they’re medical, legal, scientific or otherwise. The claim is the basis for an examination, not evidence in and of itself and not an excuse to call the CDC, start a witch hunt or blow the national budget on cold fusion.

An insistence on evidence and on ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is not an assault on women or ‘going to the defense of powerful men’, it’s being consistent in the application of logic, reason and evidence.