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For My Entertainment

For the purposes of not being self-incriminating please pretend everything I'm saying was written by my friend Kamil whose blog is better than mine.

For most of my life my attitude towards acquiring entertainment was pretty clear. I did whatever was most convenient to acquire it, be it music, games or movies. Sure I had high minded excuses for what I was doing, but I recently read that most decision making in the mind comes from the gut first with the mind creating a justification for it later. I don't know how true that is for all decisions in life, but for the small day to day things like choosing what to eat or what to entertain me, a bit of self-reflection has revealed the track marks of that mechanism to be clearly at work for me.

For music, my initial reaction was "If I can't buy the product I want (MP3s), how can it be stealing to take it?". Having to goto a store, purchase a CD, take it home and wait an hour for it to rip to the product I wanted seemed like a ridiculous exercise. Especially since most often I would look for a used version of the CD, guaranteeing that no actual royalties would ever reach the content creator. How was buying a used CD different from downloading a MP3? (Other than the fact that one is legal and one is illegal.)

Some of you will of course respond that by exhausting the supply of used CDs I make it more likely that someone will purchase a new one. However, once we start defining the morality of the act as the percentage chance that it will create a new purchase for the content owner, things start getting complicated.

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The Cycle of Meat

Just heard about a BBC show called Kill it, Cook it, Eat it, that apparently The Current has picked up.

How did I miss this all of last year?

Monkey Do

First off, allow me to say that this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special was one of the most delightful things I've watched all year. "Joyous Silliness" seems the best way to describe it.

Secondly, I don't have my new resolution ready yet, but I'll post on it before the end of the month.

Lastly, I'd like to talk a bit about my last year's resolution, to stop eating Pork and Beef.

I ended up reading two books on the subject, the somewhat underhanded "Eating Animals" and the far more reasonable "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals".

The conclusions of the first book was "Most modern animals are raised in terrible conditions, and while some aren't, it really is just simpler to not eat meat."

The point of the second book, as I took it, was essentially "all humans are hypocrites when it comes to animals, any attempts to be consistent are very likely to fail".

Both books took pains to highlight the rather poor conditions of all farm raised poultry, and both mentioned that, of the mass produced meat on the market, grass-fed beef is probably the best, given both the standards of the animals and on the total suffering per gram of protein achieved.

Which is annoying information to attempt to reconcile with my last resolution, since, given that information I end up being someone who can only eat seafood and cows. As much as I enjoy surf and turf, from a common sense standpoint it seems like the result of an extended game of philosophical Twister rather than a well-thought out life choice.

And so I took the advice of the second book to heart, essentially to stop obsessing about my inconsistent beliefs about animals. Rather, I thought it more interesting to confront what I think is the meme that I was rejecting in the first place that got me finger twiddling over animals: the idea of Human Exceptionalism.

This seems a simpler bone to saw, are Humans super special, or are we just asshole mammals who are especially good at exploiting the potential energies of our environment? I dislike compliments. I generally try to keep my opinion of myself in check, so I'm naturally inclined towards the "yeah Humans Suck" side of the argument.

Accepting the latter really seems to start you down a head-hanging road of trying to determine our appropriate place among the animal.

The argument against Human Exceptionalism is the standard factoid that we share 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees. Although I read another throwaway factoid in the second book paraphrased as "The cognitive gap between humans and chimpanzees is comparable to the gap between chimpanzees and mosquitoes", which seems like a pretty good argument *for* Human Exceptionalism...

So I'm willing to admit that maybe I was a bit too eager to prove my species humility to my dog. That maybe thinking of us as equivalent to animals isn't a useful thought. However, I'm not ready to say that means we're "exceptional" little godlings entitled to act as such towards the lesser species.

A wise man once said to me, that there are are always a minimum of three options for any question that seems like there are only two. In this case, I think I'll lay claim to the third option "Humans Pretty-OK-ism".

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