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Person of the Year

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I like to annually trash Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” for being either pandering, inane, or superficial. But this year, I have no idea what the choice is going to be and given the three adjectives I would normally use to describe the choice it’s really hard for me to predict (and no, I’m doing my best to not look it up before I see the magazine). Although I would probably, using their standard of “influential,” have to assume it was Mohammed Bouazazi, the Tunisian man who burned himself alive in protest of the Tunisian government which began the region wide protests known as the Arab Spring or Jasmine Revolution. That would be my guess, and it would also be my pick as well for “international person of the year.”

Typically I am not one to pick based on such reasoning. Given the worldwide changes in Tunisia, Egypt, Lybia, Yemen, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco,  and possibly coming to Syria, it’s really hard to be sarcastic about it. This is what the spread of Democracy looks like right? People throwing off the shackles of monarchy and tyranny for Democracy. Despite certain fear mongering, this can hardly be said to be a bad thing given the ideals that this country was founded on are pretty much exactly the same as the desires of the people who want to set up and run their own governments. I’m not even going to make a joke about that…unless one of these countries pulls a France, and throws down a king only to elect an Emperor.

My person of the year as far as the US is concerned though has to be someone that has shaped the country politically. While the usual choice for someone that has done this is a political figure, my choice is something different. My choice: Anti-Romney.

This may seem like an odd choice when I could just go with Mitt Romney. I can’t however do that. Because what shaped the US political sphere was not him. To do so would be to assert Romney positively. I don’t use the term positive as a value judgment like “good” but because it was the wish for not Romney as the GOP Presidential pick that did the most shaping of the political scene. To assert Romney would be to against the debate. The debate thus far has been everyone but the most consistent front runner of the GOP, and I do understand the irony of that statement.

Looking at the campaign thus far we have seen the rise and fall of many candidates. This year we have seen campaigns run on a catch phrase that precipitates the rise of some person that seems like they are going to be it, only to be brought down by the actual substance of that person. From the absurdity of Michelle Bachmann to the ridiculousness of Donald Trump the choice of anyone but the former Massachussett’s governor has led to some interesting events. By the end of the summer I was so jaded that I began to realize that it is pretty much inevitable that Mitt is going to be the GOP nominee, if for nothing else than they have no one else.

Trump ran on the birther conspiracy. Shockingly, people took him seriously. I didn’t get it. This is a guy who lost money on a casino but claimed that he could fix the economy. The President himself felt the need to address it, which I am still of the opinion that this was a mistake. Then he was gone.

Bachmann (I’m not doing these in chronological order) ran on social values. Quickly rising to the top of the polls as the new Sarah Palin, which I am unsure of how that is to be considered a good thing: Palin won one elected executive position which she didn’t even serve out the entire term of so emulating her as a paragon of political acumen is counter intuitive. Her reliance on appealing to conspiracy theories and her spaced out look during the rebuttal to the President’s State of the Union address showed a lack of actual substance to her candidacy. She probably has the juice to be a VP nominee, but once dispatched she fell off the chart.

For awhile it seemed like Rick Perry was going to be it. Time Magazine even ran a cover story on his rise. He was a conservative darling, having all the right chops regarding business and cultural issues. Except when it came to immigration and mandated vaccines, he was going to be the man. He even held a religious gathering of his particular strain of Christianity to pray for rain in Texas during their drought (to which God apparently answered “no”). He scared quite a number of my liberal friends, but then he had to debate. I don’t want to claim that he was drunk during some of them, but ill-prepared doesn’t even begin to describe it. The conservatives have a number of talking points and if you can just stick to them debates ought to be easy. Yet his stumbling and stuttering reminded people of an inebriated individual. To me, his particular brand of religion was too extreme for him to ever be the choice. While disagree with most conservative positions, I do not think that the leadership is stupid. I knew that they plan on the long game-the general election, and the undecided moderates weren’t going to vote for an extremist.

The most baffling to me, was Herman Cain. Another publicity hound, beginning his campaign and even planning it around a book tour. I couldn’t even see what other people saw in him. Trump was the in your face celebrity, Bachmann was the cultural warrior, Perry had the experience, but what did Cain have? I guess business experience, which for some reason counts, but he hadn’t been in business for a long time. He was a motivational speaker. His 9-9-9 plan, which was supposed to cut taxes would impose a sales tax on the nation. From the outset it was obvious that he had no knowledge of foreign affairs. Finally it was a sex scandal that brought him down. One would hope that it was the ludicrousness of his ideas, I mean we haven’t seen a flat tax proposal since Steve Forbes and it didn’t work then.

From Cain we move to Gingrich. It it wasn’t for the almost universal dislike for him by GOP politicians who served under him during the 90s I might actually see him as a choice. In a couple of weeks we shall see if he pans out. Although given his recent vitriolic statements against the poor, and minorities (whom it seems that he equates) he won’t pan out either.

Those were the frontrunners not mentioning those that have never climbed above 10 percent. My pick would be Huntsman, a man who has just as much hope of being the GOP nominee as Rick Santorum, only for the complete opposite reason. The trouble with Huntsman is that he’s reasonable to a person like me. He has informed opinions on two issues, climate change and evolution. The fact that he trusts scientific conclusions is apparently revolutionary and that is what scares me about the GOP right now.

It seemed that during the debates whenever anyone had actual experience with a topic, whether it was Rick Perry talking about immigration, Huntsman talking about China, or Bachmann talking about Pakistan their ideas were booed by the audience. Pragmatism will always trump idealism. The most liberal/conservative idealougues will be tempered by the actuality of a situation and the audiences of these debates do not want to hear any of that. This explains the democrat frustration with Obama over the last three years. They wanted the person they voted for but the person they voted for couldn’t hold office. Only in a tyranny can one person constantly work the extremism that they speak about.

Aside from Mitt, their is one other person in the election cycle that has maintained a top three spot. That would be Ron Paul. Now, I am not a supporter of him, I disagree with a good number of his positions, but I admire him for maintaining consistency in the face of his audience’s opposition to him. He is the intellectual father of the TEA party, but for some reason can’t garner their support. Which I don’t exactly understand. It is curious that the press largely ignores his candidacy, and when they do address him they would rather ask him about a different candidate rather than acknowledge his support (which is, if the straw polls are to be believed, considerable).

Rick Santorum, just google his name and you’ll see why he can’t win.

All of these people are not Romney. Which is really the crux of their appeal. The antithesis of him is what is shaping this GOP debate, before they have to buck up and swallow the fact that if they want someone to beat Obama in the general election they will have to compromise on some of their positions. This is a concept that the GOP is pretty alien towards lately-compromise. All of these choices in order to pick anyone but Romney. The dislike for Romney is understandable, he already lost once. He’s willing to say anything, and people see that beneath his statements there is nothing they can trust. The best move against Romney that Obama has made thus far is in linking his GOP reviled health care reform with his Massachussetts plan, despite the fact that people in that state overwhelmingly like the plan.

For the reasons that have motivated the GOP nominee circus, I title the Anti-Romney as the person of the year.

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Hulk Smash (New Moon Chapter 14)

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Our hiatus lasted one week longer than I thought it would, but believe me, I would rather not have been doing this. I kid of course, it was a matter of necessity. My choice was either work on this or work on whether or not we ought to consider certain genetic diseases as vertical epidemics (we should). While this is much easier, that is more important.

We left off with a cliff hanger of sorts. Bella and Jacob made up, grinding what little tension there was in this book completely out, and are now going to meet up with the rest of the La Push gang. Jacob is now telepathic when he changes into a wolf, but only with other wolves. This is important because making every other character in the story telepathic allows us to solve inconvenient problems like plot development, or obstacles. Why worry when you can just solve every problem with magic? It’s also important to remember that werewolves are like the Hulk, if they get angry you wouldn’t like them too much.

The last point is rather silly, but in a story with psychic, prophetic vampires who am I to judge? Well, I’m me, and I’m judging. It’s stupid and probably racist. Let’s tackle that point right now. I can hardly be called a PC thug and despite my academic pursuits I’m not all that liberal. Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I don’t land on the left side of things usually, but I would rather have a smaller government than a larger one and don’t believe that gun control is a good idea. These are two big no nos on the left. All of that being written, I don’t go looking for ways to accuse white people/white Christians for being racist. Bella (the reader by proxy) is supposed to prefer vampires to werewolves. Where the vampires are pale, stoic, reserved, and rich the werewolves are portrayed as being dark skinned, emotional, poor, and if their irrational nature gets the better of them they turn into monsters. If there were other werewolves who weren’t Quileutes it wouldn’t be a thing, but there aren’t so it is.

Jacob and Bella meet the gang, who are not exactly happy that she has been brought into the secret. The gang isn’t happy with Jacob, and one in particular “Jared or Paul” is really upset. What bothers me is that we don’t know who it is, we, characteristically aren’t given any description of the person. We just know who it could have been. And then we find out that it was Paul because Sam yells at him. I don’t get why there is the confusion at first. I get that this a first person narrative and she didn’t know at the time, but she isn’t writing this as it happens. Possibly the night afterward, but just keep the character straight. Especially someone who is a side person that I doubt we will see again.

Either way, Jacob gets so angry that the gamma radiation stored in his blood transforms him. He leaps at Bella, “Halfway to the ground, there was a loud ripping noise, and the boy exploded. -Dark silver fur blew out from the boy, coalescing (? that’s not the right word) into a shape more than five times his size–a massive, crouched shape ready to spring.”

Why not just call the shape a “wolf?” That’s trite, but seriously this is the first time we are seeing the transformation. I do like the sudden violence of it, rather than the tortured way it’s depicted in movies like the Underworld series. What’s important for us to note is that he “exploded.”

Jacob in order to protect Bella explodes as well. The fight is briefly described and then Bella is shied away to go to Emily’s. We don’t know who Emily is, and it’s not really explained. The remaining members of the gang describe Paul as being a loose cannon who loses his temper frequently, all that’s missing is an older werewolf that’s getting too old for this shit, so we can complete a cliche list. It’s nice that they remember to bring clothes for them after they finish fighting. Which brings me to a complaint, Jacob already transformed earlier to telepathically communicate to the gang the information that Victoria was after Bella. Does this mean that Jacob was naked this whole time?

One of them seems surprised that Jacob brought his girlfriend into this, but why is he surprised? Just last chapter Jacob had done the telepathic communicating. All of these inconsistencies take place within five pages, it’s a new record for our author.

Emily has cooked food for the men. At least Meyer’s consistent on that, women do all of the cooking. The other thing women do in these stories is get abused by their men, “The right side of her face was scarred from hairline to chin by three thick, red lines, livid in color though they were long healed.”

The happy family reunited they begin to talk shop. Jacob explains what Victoria wants, why she’s been trying to get through the woods–revenge for James last year. Apparently there’s some sort of turf treaty. The wolves can’t attack vampires on Cullen territory unless they bite a human. Any vampire found on reservation territory is fair game. Victoria, and I suppose Laurent as well, have been stalking through the woods trying to get to Forks. This leads me to some geography question, does the reservation surround Forks? Not from what we know from the last book. They just have been stumbling into it perhaps. Or they are taking the Cullens’ route thinking they were safe but then decided to kill the random people for fun. Perhaps they are unaware of the treaty which could make sense. No matter what, the bad vampires are pretty shitty at their job since they could just walk into Forks at night to seek Bella out and kill her.

Jared claims that they now have bait for the vampire. This is the most sensible thing that has happened thus far. It also leads to a plan that, unlike the Cullens’ from last book actually seems reasonable. They are going to leave some holes in their patrol to try and draw Victoria in. Once in they will close the gap. It’s very similar to the plan laid out in “The Seven Samurai,” every fortress needs a good weakness said Kambei. The only trouble is that they have to divide up. Still it’s a plan that makes sense, especially if Victoria doesn’t realize how many of them there are. In a few days, it seems Embry will be a wolf too, so that will give them six.

Then Charlie shows up and the chapter ends with a trite conversation about Jacob’s hair and how they made up. I still like the werewolves better than the vampires. Sam, actually lets Bella make a decision, which is more than the Cullens could accomplish. Despite the initial fighting over her, they do seem concerned with her well being. It seems that the wolves’ violence toward women is only physical which could be better than the pyschological abuse that Edward inflicts on Bella. After last chapter I was ready to give up on this whole thing but now I’m a bit more conflicted as we have actually entered into what could be considered a plot.

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Hitchens

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

I don’t do obituaries. Mostly because I don’t really idolize people. I recognize that this is probably due to my cynicism. People are just people to me, they aren’t doing anything that anyone else couldn’t do, they just devoted their life to one particular thing (or things depending). I’m also not the type of person to mourn. I find funerals ridiculous and wakes to be pointless. Perhaps it’s my atheism, but then again my view on the deads’ rites actually outlasts my disbelief in god(s). I haven’t been to alot of funerals, but I’ve been to a greatly absurd amount of wakes. All I can say about them is that while this number is greatly supported by the fact that my family is of Irish heritage, I’m glad I’m not Italian. Italian wakes are the cruelest exercise in boredom, at least with the Irish you can get up and walk around. I always act appropriately at these “events” just as I do in a church and largely for the same reason: respect for those who find meaning in them.

Being dead, isn’t being. That’s why I don’t mourn. According to Herodotus the Gettai (a forgotten tribe in Africa) used to mourn birth and celebrate death. Their reasoning was the life was so full of suffering and trials that being born caused harm, while death freed the person from all of the travails of being alive. I don’t remember if they had an afterlife. I don’t like that kind of sentiment, sure life is full of troubles but that isn’t all. Death can be a benefit if a person is suffering, or struggling with a terminal disease. It puts closure on a trial that no one wants and no one asks for. Last night, when I learned that Christopher Hitchens had died, I was shocked but it wasn’t a shocking thing. He had been long battling esophagal cancer, which I learned about through a chain email entitled “pray for Christopher Hitchens.”

It was one of the few internet memes that were completely unironic. Hitchens was famously an unapologetic atheist and the email chain I thought was evidence of the very type of cruel condescension endemic to religious thinking that he spent his career fighting against. There was a certain smugness to the wording of the email and the implication that if for some reason that he had been a believer in Christianity that he would have been spared the cancer which eventually killed him. There was also the hope that he might profer a death bed recantation, the sort that would have negated most of his life’s work. The death bed confession which is often falsely attributed to Charles Darwin and Niccolo Machiavelli is supposed to somehow render null the truths they wrote, never occured thankfully. Now would it be possible that it could have happened. In an interview over the summer he definitively explained that if any death bed confession came from, it would not be him but either the disease or the medicine. That person wasn’t Christopher Hitchens, but an addled brain occupying his body. I liked that sentiment, it purposely linked the desires of the healthy mind with the possibility of what an impaired mind might think.

My first exposure to him was shortly after Jerry Falwell’s death in 2007. Falwell represented the very worst in religious zealotry, only mitigated by the fact that he, at least, held the law against murder as being supreme over his own extremism. Falwell and his ilk (Pat Robertson to name another) were good evidence for atheism. They were people we could point at and say, “see, see! This is where this type of thinking leads.” Upon Falwell’s death people eulogized him often talking about his devotion to god, or his founding of Liberty College, basically anything but what he really was. I was doing research for one of my classes when I stumbled upon an interview with Hitchens on Falwell’s death, and I was struck at how dead honest he was. To me Falwell represented the exact same type of close minded narrowness that caused the very terrorism (9/11) he blamed on the existence of homosexuals and atheists; and only Hitchens was on television calling him out on it after his death. The only difference between Falwell and Atta was that Atta put a bit more effort into his fanaticism. I’ve never subscribed the Shakespearean sentiment that the good a man does is interred in their bones while their evil lives on after them. Maybe it was true in his day but in ours it simply doesn’t pan out.The Falwell case is one piece of evidence.

Often times his views on religion were washed away by his opponents who just described him as being another leftist. Yet, he was a leftist who supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This I felt was intellectually honest, his reasoning was that Saddam needed to be ousted he referred to him as a thug and criminal. Both of which were accurate. His opposition to actual leftists in matters of foreign policy was another endearing trait for me. In order to offer their polemics against intervention of the West they must offer support for dictators of totalitarian regimes who oppress their own people. In short, what they are saying is that if intervention is wrong then the status quo must be right. While opposing the war in Iraq wasn’t equivalent to supporting Hussein, his view I think, was the more consistent.

He offered what I consider an alternative between the right/left dynamic of this country. You don’t have to be one or the other forcing yourself to buy in to the absurdities represented on each side. If anything is to be his legacy for me, it would be that.

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Fighting the War on Christmas: The Trees

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Continuing my exposure of the conspiracy of which I play a small role…

From: Icon Department

To: Agent 7083264617

Subject: The Damn Trees are Still Going Up!

Due to your previous email, the board has decided to continue your employment with us. The subtelty of your plan is impressive although we think that it might be too nuanced for it to work on the general public. I would however ask your advice on what to do regarding the infernal trees that go up in public. The Ministry of Trees, a subcommittee of my department, has been working with legal in order to have them removed. As we all know, this has limited success, and where we fail we can always impress the need for other religious symbols as well. In some cases we have even gotten Festivus poles included with Trees and Candelabra! However the very existence of the trees infuriates some of us and we want them removed entirely. Please advise us on how to proceed.

 

From: Agent 7083264617

To: Icon Department 

CC: Ministry of Trees

Subject: Trees

First off, getting rid of the trees is, at this point a futile task. They aren’t going anywhere for the time being. Also, remember that moving too quickly or too ambitiously usually has the detriment of working against the plan. The first thing to remember is that a pine tree has little to do with Christianity to begin with. Remember that the tree is only a co-opted piece of iconography from the tribes in Ancient Germania. For all the fear mongering that the Christians do regarding the dangers of Wicca/witchcraft/Paganism it’s quite ironic that they hold so tenaciously to a symbol borne out of them. The link between Christmas and the trees is pretty arbitrary with almost no fundamental reasoning behind it. The only possible explanation occurs when St. Boniface chopped down the holy Oak of the Donars in order to prove that their God wasn’t real (or at least subject to the Christian God). The story is that Boniface told the tribe that if their God was so powerful he would not permit him to chop down the sacred tree. Of course, no divine intervention occurred and thus the tree was felled. Immediately the tribe, it is said, petitioned for Baptism in Boniface’s church. While this story is repeated throughout history with various religions converting others on the basis of, “either your god stops me from doing X or he’s fake/weak etc.” The tree remained as a symbol of the Germanic people, who celebrated a tree ceremony and eventually incorporated it with their Christmas celebrations, spreading it to North America with Germanic mercenaries fighting for Britain.

All of this, of course, is known to you. What i would propose is to incorporate it into the ultimate plan of separating meaning from the icon itself. If you actually take a look at most public display trees you will find almost no religious imagery on them. This, I feel, is a success. The tree’s alleged signification of Christianity is almost entirely removed already. Very little needs to be done. Perhaps a push toward considering them holiday trees rather than Christmas trees will work. This might remind people of the trees origin from its Pagan roots or perhaps it might reinforce the relative “newness” of the tradition. I might also suggest introducing other trees as alternatives, this will insult the more fundamentalists of the holiday celebrators forcing them into awkward conversations of why they are deeming a tree so sacred. They do know where the word “druid” comes from don’t they?

D.

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Fighting the War on Christmas: Greetings

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment

The following is the body of an email I sent to my superior’s regarding how I plan to make war on Christmas. That’s right, make war on Christmas. I’ve been found out and I suppose since the general conspiracy has been exposed I will share part of my role in it.

From: Chief of Greetings

To: Agent 7083264617

Subject: Failure

While you have shown great success in the past, especially in the removal of “Merry Christmas” from even some of the smaller shops around this time of year, we are growing concerned for a couple of reasons. First off certain major chains have begun their holiday shopping earlier and earlier, bringing the holiday season to approaching two months in length. Secondly, other chains have begun reinstituting the very “Merry Christmas” slogans that you were able to remove. Our legal branch has again, begun moving forward with suits to remove Christmas Trees from public squares, failing that they have forced municipalities to include the other holidays of the season along with them. While this has been proceeding steadily we are worried that you are failing. Please address this.

W.

To: W. Chief of Greetings

From: Agent 7083264617

You may allay your concerns, all is proceeding according to the plan. If you recall I took over this position from the previous agent because he sought to eliminate the holiday altogether. His plan, was inviting push back from the more fervent of the Christians. Indeed, I still blame him for the discovery of the plan. As you recall my plan is not to eliminate the holiday or make it illegal, as the Puritans had decreed prior to the formation of this country; but to render it meaningless. While it may seem that the theists are gaining ground they had previously lost, it only seems this way. Let me address your concerns directly.

It was actually us that pushed the shopping season to before Thanksgiving. As always the sole focus of the shopping season is still what is known as “Black Friday.” Indeed, is even that day that defines Thanksgiving (we have Agent T. Roosevelt to thank for that). Black Friday, notwithstanding, by pushing the shopping season to an obscene amount of time we effectively render it devoid of attention. This is the same method foolishly adopted by the baseball season, it goes on so long that no one really thinks about it. While the shopping season used to be approximately one month that one month was really concentrated into three or four weekends. The people had to plan on it, they had to get all of their lists in order before the season began. Now, by making it almost sixty days (the utmost limit, I might add; Halloween will always buffer against it due to the money generated at the stores) the shopping season becomes something of an afterthought. The addition of the cyber shopping days was a brilliant score by our marketing wing as it further puts the midset of the gift exchange on the back burner. The computer is always there, and there is always something else to look at. The very plethora of options is too great paralyzing people into making decisions at the last minute because they waited so long. And they waited so long because we gave them so much time.

Regarding the “Merry Christmas”/”Happy Holidays” conflict. Again, I assure you, this according to my design. During the last twenty years or so we used political correctness to push out “Christmas” from the slogans. A rather, obvious ploy. By accomplishing this we invited a push back. What our enemy does not understand is that the waft and weft of my plan not only anticipated this but rather counted on it! As some stores are returning to “Merry Christmas” it cannot be understated enough how beneficial this is. The plan is to not only get every store to adopt the old slogan but to get them to make it mandatory. Remember my goal is not to eliminate the holiday but to render it meaningless. By forcing people who have no care or concern for the holiday (our Muslim, Jewish, and Kwanzaa neighbors as well as the non-affiliated Atheists) to utter a phrase meaningless to them we can rest assured that someone will begin to complain that the people saying it don’t really mean it. As this effect continues and continues our opponents will have to surrender the phrase. Further the more and more that the phrase is heard the more it is severed from meaning. Our scientific wing has already proven the concept of severance, whereby a word repeated in a row begins to lose any import (you can try it yourself if you are unfamiliar with the concept, it works even with “dog”). The plan here is to render the phrase, whether written or spoken, as meaningless noise. Again this is tied in with the allowing the pushback to “win.” The more stores force their workers to utter the phrase the quicker the shoppers will begin to not listen. This is why we haven’t allowed a new Christmas song (other than revisions and reworkings of the prime 11) to be played over the air.

I hope this addresses your concerns,

D.

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Breaking Time (the New Moon Walkthrough)

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again, the time where a man’s fancy turns to the carelessly lain burdens that he has placed upon himself and demands respite from weekly tasks. In other words, it’s the end of the semester and I really have to work on papers. One for aesthetics, one for Levinas Seminar, and one for Metaphysics of Bio Ethics; and all of them due by the end (or mid) of next week at the latest. We’ll resume next week when I need a break from writing the above three to learn about what passes for being an original gangsta in La Push.

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Chocolate Covered Horsemeat

December 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Two news items struck my fancy this past week, it means two things: a) I need to write more and b) my interests are becoming a bit strange. Rather than commenting how odd it is that now, it’s Newt being the GOP frontrunner even though Romney has already started his anti-Obama campaign to which the Democrats have already responded; I would rather discuss two food related items.

 

Some point during the Thanksgiving Day break (still in school you see) the president signed into law a retraction of an old law banning horse from becoming meat for human consumption. Some people are mysteriously upset about this and frankly I don’t get it. I’m not a horse person, so to me it’s just a large mammal with hind quarters that look pretty good. It’s just an animal, and if you eat meat, it’s really no different than eating a cow/sheep/goat. The issue with that animal though, is the same issue we have with dogs and cats. The horse is completely anthropomorphized, people regard horses almost like people. We give them names and personalities, the latter that are really just our expectations. If they had real personalitites they would probably be a bit more than “friendly” or “fiesty.” Where are the horse jerks, the horse assholes?

 

If the argument against eating horse runs anything other than horses are too expensive to kill for food then I have issue with it. People claim that horses are our friends and thus shouldn’t be killed for this purpose. That’s utter bullshit. When was the last time you forced your friend to wear a seat on his back and then rode him around? Aside from that one time of course, but that was back in college and you were both really drunk. The point is this, even if you and your friend to that frequently you are friends for other reasons. The way horse people treat their horses is about the same as a slave. They do things for the horse but the horse can’t come and go as it pleases. Now I don’t equate animal ownership with slavery, because I’m not an idiot, but claiming that horses are something more than common animals is fallacious at best.

 

The second thing I want to bring up is regarding Nestle. It’s related to the horse thing but we have to the background thing before we get into that. Nestle is finally being brought to task for its process of harvesting cocoa beans. Cocoa, the source material for chocolate, is very particular. Like coffee and tobacco, it only grows within a certain lagitudinal space. Unlike coffee and tobacco, it’s a bit more specific. There are only two continents that it can grow on, and only two regions on those continents. One of those continents is Africa and the region is the Ivory Coast. Guess what country’s dictator has to appear before the Hague for war crimes? It’s not really about the chocolate but I’m getting there.

 

We all know that the free market dictates that workers ought to be paid the lowest wages possible in proportion to the demand for employment. This is actual Adam Smith economics (unlike the other kind–later post). Slavery on the other hand is usually the preferred choice because you don’t really have to pay anyone anything, just keep them alive. Typically slavery isn’t an economically viable solution, the cost of feeding and housing a person usually outweights whatever meager salary you would have given them otherwise. What if you worry about neither but can still garner a work force? The cocoa fields of the Ivory Coast employ child slaves in the harvesting of the beans. They pay them a salary but one that only counts as a salary because they aren’y actual slaves. It’s only a technical difference, and Nestle is finally being called to task for this.

 

One of the world’s largest chocolate producers employs children to harvest the beans. They’ve had ten years since this was first brought to light to fix this problem, and they haven’t done it. Their reasoning is that the chocolate supply is so complex and the Ivory Coast so dangerous that verifying the changes from morally reprehinsible to morally questionable is almost impossible. Thus the “slavery” has continued. It’s curious that even though it is so impossible to verify whether or not the cocoa famers are using child slavery, but through wizardry (or something) they are able to extract their product from the country.

 

It’s an interesting juxtaposition for me. On the one hand I did read about the horsemeat thing via some misplaced anger about people slaughtering horses for food but on the other hand I heard nothing but a news report about Nestle. If animals are people too, then doesn’t that mean that people are people, or does PETA as usual have its head up their ass? For the rest of the people complaining because they think that somehow horse’s are more than just animals take a look in your cupboard and count the Nestle products. If you have more than one, then you don’t get to complain. The treatment of humans ought every time to trump the treatment of animals.

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