11.12.16

Last night, after a fever dream, I decided that I ought to take this break from the podcast and from my generally miserable week to think about all the things I am grateful for, and to reflect on how keeping a journal about my relationship to the environment has affected me.

The more I thought about it, the more inescapable the feeling of impending doom began to feel. Keeping this journal, and working on the podcast (which takes up an insane amount of my life nowadays), has made it almost impossible not to think about the environment, and global warming. I can’t just carpartementalize my worry and concern for how truly and utterly screwed we all are into a neat 50 minute chunk three times a week, as a matter of fact I’d be a lot better off if there was a fifty minute chunk of my day where I didn’t think about it.

For the first time I’ve actually started to judge my own actions, to evaluate them, based on how effective they are in combating climate change (who am I kidding. there’s no “combating” it, we can’t win, we can just try to mitigate our losses the best we possinly can). However, while I spend my time evaluating my actions, I am not taking any new ones.

Now, like many others, I am guilty of falling into what media scholars call “Narcotizing dysfunction.” I’ve substituted knowledge for action. Armchair activism. I think just because I am cognizant of an issue that I am doing something about it and that’s just not true at all. Every week Alex and I get into a cramped and hot booth and talk about different ways of trying to solve (again, mitigate the losses) these problems, how to eat with the environment in mind, and how to use less, and how to do the right thing, but it just seems so pointless because we’re about 40 years too late. And while yes, the old adage goes “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now,”  there is just no way that planting a tree now will reverse the process that has already been set in motion. We might as well rename our podcast from “The Blue Bin” to “Here’s What’s Wrong, and Why We Can Never Fix It.”

To be honest, when I started writing this journal I didn’t know what direction it would take (and honestly I feel like the best entries usually start this way) and now that I read it back to myself I feel kind of bummed out. I guess there is something to be said about having blind hope but Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States, and I have had a fever for four days in a row now.

 

“In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely.”

– Hunter S. Thompson

11.10.16 (The Journal is Back!)

The journal is off hiatus and the podcast is on hiatus! Just for this week, and only because I feel like my scalp with detach and jettison off of my skull and into the stratosphere.

 

This journal entry is going to be a reflection on a part of last week’s podcast with Alex and Darion and Alex, which can be found here.

Specifically, how do we reduce how much we use? It feels like living the life of excess has been so heavily ingrained into our culture that it’s become synonymous with what it means to be American. Much like the stereotypical Russian is drinking heavily all the time (in this economy you’d be dumb to not be drinking all the time), the stereotypical American must be fat, and must be loud. This is how the rest of the world sees us, and this is how we tend to see ourselves.

This scene from In Bruges comes to mind:

The conclusion I keep coming to, for which I don’t yet have a solution, is that living in excess is as much of a cultural tradition in the United States as eating meat, and it’ll be just as hard to get rid of. Consider the American attitude toward the holiday season, the eve of we are on now, it is a season of excess, of a big thanksgiving turkey, of a fat Christmas goose, of a lot of bad decisions to be made on New Year’s Eve, and Fourth of July bar-b-ques on a big charcoal grill with fireworks for no reason, and Memorial Day bar-b-ques because the best way to honor our dead is to take a day off and eat a lot of processed meats. All of our holidays, national and familial (think birthday cake), are centered around food and around eating and around overeating and over indulging. How could we divorce ourselves from something that is so ingrained into the fabric of what makes us American? As American as apple pie.

What are you doing here? Go!

Heyoo,

 

This journal has been discontinued for now.

 

Fret not! I’ve joined a good friend over at (the admittedly less stylish) THE BLUE BIN PODCAST!!!!

It’s a podcast! You’ll like it.

09.24.16

Recently I have been reading a few pieces by Jeff McMahan, namely The Comparative Badness for Animals of Suffering and Death and exploring why people are vegetarian in general. It seems most people are against eating animals because the animals we eat in the West come from factory farms. Although McMahan has said that he’s against eating animals in general because the amount of happiness that an animal can potentially experience if we don’t kill it outweighs the amount of pleasure we will experience as a result of eating it, this argument only works if we kill animals before it is their time, as is the case with factory farming:

“Although humane rearing, when practiced scrupulously, does not cause animals to suffer, it does involve killing them quite early in their lives. Beef cattle have a natural life span of about 30-35 years but are normally killed at about three years of age. Pigs can live about 15 years but tend to be killed at about six months, while chickens can live about eight years but are killed less than a year after birth. The reason these animals are killed when young is that it is economically wasteful to invest resources in keeping them alive after they have reached their full size” (McMahan, The Comparative Badness for Animals of Suffering and Death) In an episode of Philosophy Bites he goes on to say that he’s also okay with eating roadkill because in that case the animal has met a natural end, so to speak.

(I might be misrepresenting the nuances of his views, but this isn’t an academic paper, yo!)

I’ve come to a few conclusions in general: the treatment of animals might be one of the things Islam got right. Consider, in order for meat to be halal it cannot be factory farmed. Torturing animals, feeding animals products that contain animals, and  killing animals painfully are all explicitly forbidden in Islam (I guess this is why mad cow disease never took off in Afghanistan).

 

I ought to earmark this topic and maybe write a paper on it. Anyway, if you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian because of factory farming but love the way meat tastes, consider supporting your local halal butcher.

09.20.16

Disclaimer (in a sense): For the past 3 years I have been working on creating a new type of fiction. It was inspired by flash fiction and stream of consciousness writing. However, unlike its parents, coffee pot fiction (which is what I’m calling it) requires no real skill, or craft, or talent, or that je ne sais quoi that writers have, it’s really about what you do before you write. Coffee pot fiction is as follows:

  1. Write the topic you want to write about on a piece of paper, make it as general as possible. (in my case it was “Humans =/= Animals?”
  2. Make a pot of coffee.
  3. Drink the entire pot of coffee when it’s ready. (Yep, the whole pot.)
  4. Wait 30 minutes
  5. Write.

Note that ‘edit later’ is not part of the process, but it’s encouraged. Also, a more advanced version of this called Whiskey Fiction (aka whatever Faulkner did) is in the works.

Here it is:

 

This is a thing I have been thinking about every since a person in my Environmental Ethics class mentioned their professor arguing that people do not see themselves as a part of nature whenever they imagine portraiture of nature. Aldo says so too, “we’re all like totes separate from nature through gadgets and stuff” he says, presumably in a drum circle, passing a joint back and forth between a bunch of dudes without shoes and access to clean water. I’m like, well, duh, stupid. We’re not a part of nature, and we haven’t been a long time. I mean, biologically sure, but look around you, do you see anything even remotely animalistic in the way we live? I mean come on, we stopped being animals when we started to take of crippled people and fighting natural selection. (oooh, this is a zesty claim to make) I wear glasses, and I have like three fake teeth, and some sort of heart problems (I think this might be the coffee talking, I hope, but my did say I had to get hospitalized when I was like 5, so I dunno), I should have died like twenty years ago. I mean come on dude, we have like three natural things about us, like our penchant for food, sex, and using tools. I mean hey, there are only like two/three other animals who are down with the whole sex for sex’s sake thing, most of them just wanna make more babies. At the risk of sounding too much like Aldo’s drum circle buddies: we care more about money than saving our species, man, that’s not natural, man. I actively want to avoid thinking about myself as a part of nature, that just doesn’t work with me, don’t try to guilt me into thinking about the environment with your fancy-ass geometric shapes Aldo. In short — we should go back to the Spartan ways of throwing the disabled and undesirable out into the wild and letting them fend for themselves instead of helping them, because if we are a part of nature and we are natural, why are we compassionate? (sounds cool, but it’s probs BS, I guess at some point it made sense to be compassionate and save other members of our species, but maybe this very compassion is preventing us from being an even more successful species. I mean like, if we just ignored human rights for a second we could get rid of all these genetic diseases and probs HIV/AIDS too.).

Sigur Ros, Exploring Nature through Media

This is a second draft of a creative non-fiction piece:

 

 

After watching the 24 hour “Route One” epic by Sigur Ros over a period five days, I experienced a certain flavor of enlightenment. It was something akin to obsessing over a work of art, memorizing every detail, and then noticing something new. But that’s more of a spiritual journey, and that’s personal.

In a much more tangible sense the 24 hour marathon event is just another example of the impressive effect globalization, and advances in technology, have had on increasing the human awareness of the environment while at the same time dulling the experience itself. Allow me to elaborate: with things like HD/IMAX/3D cameras, the internet, and smartphones, the common woman in America can experience the stunning beauty of the Icelandic landscape while taking a dump or eating soup or whatever, while at the same time she can remain willfully ignorant of the beauty surrounding her, the purple mountains majesty, or the amber waves of grain, while she plays Clash of Clans on her commute. It’s actually quite stunning.

Media has a lot to do with how we look at nature, what we know about it, how we chose to influence it. The Gutenberg press brought with it the accessibility of literacy and, combined with technology that made ink and paper cheaper to produce, coincidentally brought with it a newly revived interest in adventure literature. People wanted to read about the unknown, the distant lands, and now they could without having to recycle old stories. Obviously this lead to things like Gulliver’s Travels (which is totally bogus, by the way), and imperialism (if you wanna be a buzzkill).

Really, media revolutions have had huge effect on how the commoner interacted with nature: “Save the Rain Forest” a bumper sticker I saw in Arizona once read. What the fuck does a schmuck in Arizona know about the rain forest? Well, on one side, good on you, save the rain forest, but on the other hand you know you have nature around you too, right? And that nature is just as beautiful, though maybe less endangered. (All biomes matter?)

This is realization is kind of the keystone of this entire blog. Indeed, why look at paintings of nature if you can go outside and stand in it.

The answer is obviously mosquitoes.

Or the fact that there remains very little traditional nature left. What I mean by traditional nature is of course green things, and brown things, and sometime little yellow and red things attached to long brown things.

09.15.16

OOHH SNAAAAAP

France Just Banned Plastic Cups and Cutlery

article by Vice.

 

Man, talk about first world problems. (I’m from the FSU, I can say things like that.)

I wasn’t exposed to plastic cups and cutlery and paper towels until I came to America. It was mesmerizing. No more washing dishes or cleaning rags made out of t shirts my siblings outgrew that we used to clean the dusty baseboards. It only took like 2 months for the novelty of it to wear off another 6 years for the guilt to set in.

Although a step in the right direction, there is this racketeering aspect of the decision that I just can’t shake and that I will try to articulate.

Litter form plastic cups and other plastic mastication paraphernalia was never a problem until people invented them, and then mass produced them, using government controlled natural resources. Now, the government wants to swoop in and make it look like they are the heroes for solving the problem. Well, I guess hindsight is 20/20.

09.10.16

BARTLET:
Ellie had a teacher named Mr. Pordy, who had no
interest in nuance. He asked the class why there's
always been conflict in the Middle East and
Ellie raised her hand and said, "It's a centuries
old religious conflict involving land and suspicions
and culture and..." "Wrong." Mr. Pordy said,
"It's because it's incredibly hot and there's no water."

The West Wing
Season 04, Episode 04
"College Kids"

In a recent op-ed, Nicholas Kristof discussed an often overlooked consequence of heat (and climate change in general): people are going to get grumpy. ”

Researchers have found hot days linked to more angry honking in Arizona, and more road rage and car accidents in Spain. Scholars have done the math and found that on hot days a major-league baseball pitcher is more likely to retaliate for a perceived offense and deliberately hit a batter.

“High temperatures,” that study finds, are “lowering inhibitions against retaliation.”

On hot days, property crimes aren’t more common, but murders go up with the temperature. Likewise, researchers find that police officers are more likely to draw and fire their weapons during a training session conducted on a hot day.” (New York Times)

Aside from being the plot of “Do the Right Thing” the conclusions of these studies have serious implications in the Mad Max Thunderdome future that is inevitable unless we find a way to stop climate change. Before the droughts, caused by global warming that lead to crop failure which will lead to food riots, run our streets red with blood there will be a consistent and constant increase in murders across the board, there will be a constant and consistent decrease in students’ test scores, there will be more police shootings. (To clarify, I’m not suggesting that global warming is responsible for all police shootings and that racism doesn’t exist, I’m merely saying that it’s harder to keep a cool head in 95 degree weather while you’re in a black police uniform with a vest on). Although one could argue that these studies are preliminary, they still show a trend for the irrational in human beings when it is hot outside. Our decision making faculties go out the window like Spock’s in “Amok Time.” the reason I chose to write about this is because it shows us the “micro” impact that global warming has. Not only will there be biblical coastline floods and droughts, but you’re going to have a hard time not murdering the guy who cuts you off. I’m joking. Climate change isn’t a joke, and humor is just how I tend to deal with this unbelievable shit.