After reading An Open Letter From a Farmer to Angry Vegetarians I was pondering how to respond…
I was driving home from my in-laws late at night, and one can’t help but notice the white crosses at the side of the road, or the bodies of many deer, raccoons, squirrels, etc. smeared across the roadway. And I suddenly connected the dots!
The truth is that there is no road we can drive on without killing. None. A trip to your local grocery store may not involve running over a single child or small animal, but the building of that road costs endless lives.
I know that is hard to understand. It was hard for me too.
It may seem that the best option is to drive less often, to do so more slowly and with more care to avoid such things. But like Jenna, I realized that I need to embrace it. If I drive fast enough through that school zone, if I do hit a child, it will likely be a clean kill, not to mention free-range. They had one bad day, one bad moment actually, and that moment surprised the hell out of them.
_So yes, I am a killer. There is a chance I could take a life of a sentient being whenever I get behind the wheel. I fully embrace this primal and beloved part of my person. _
N.B. by way of explanation, I should probably mention that I read Swift’s “Modest Proposal” around the time I wrote this. I’m sure that inspired the harsh tone. But hopefully, this shows the ridiculousness of the argument in the original article.
I found this tragic story in the Van Bunschoten book, which starts out sounding like an episode of Law and Order, but then goes medieval.
I’m glad investigation techniques have improved since then.
The reason this was in the book was that Arendt and my 7th great grandfather later signed the following agreement:
Theunis Elesen is to provide her with proper board and clothing and at the expiration of the period furnish her with a presentable Sunday gown, four chimeses, two blue aprons, two white aprons, and one silver head-ornament, and is to send her to evening school during one winter. In testimony of the truth we have subscribed hereto this September 1, 1682, at Kingston.
These fragments do make one wonder what really happened and what the effect was on this small isolated town. I’m sure an author of historical fiction could turn this into an interesting story, but don’t forget about me when it becomes a bestseller!
One of my favourite blogs was Suicide Food. After reading that blog I started noticing more occurrences of this repugnant practice, I started taking pictures and submitted some to the blog. But then the blog stopped. I still have dozens of images I have collected, and I find more every now and then. You can see the raw photos in my Suicide Food album. I may post about them every now and then, but don’t expect any noose ratings or well-written commentary like the aforementioned blog.
But here’s one that comes to mind as being especially egregious. I found this brick in one of my daughter’s Duplo sets:
[pe2-image src=“http://lh5.ggpht.com/-8xWeA9DiAl4/UoeVU8qeZxI/AAAAAAAAFmQ/evFbuNhz3Fc/s144-c-o/lego-milk.jpg” href=“https://picasaweb.google.com/109920212061848308238/SuicideFood#5946886020080232210” caption=“Found this on a Lego Duplo brick.” type=“image” alt=“lego-milk.jpg” ]
Most of the suicide food images I happen upon are in a grocery store or restaurant where such images are not unexpected. But for it to show up on a toy, a toy which I have loved as long as I can remember, aimed at my daughter was especially bothersome.
What could be more wholesome than a nice glass of milk, offered to you by a smiling, happy cow? “Of course, I’m happy. Parenthood is hard, so the farmer helpfully took away my newborn baby. Now I don’t have to deal with the sleepless nights and the endless nursing, what a hassle! The farmer has also helpfully hooked me to this milking machine to prevent my udder from exploding. So have a nice glass, the farmer assures me there isn’t too much pus in it.”
It’s sad that I still have to try to convince people that they should be using some sort of version control. But I do. One of the things I say is that there are three kinds of things in the world: Things that are checked in, things that are generated from things that are checked in, and garbage.
Since this is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it seemed like a good time to document some disturbing things I have found while researching my family tree.
For several months I have been reading Concerning the Van Bunschoten or Van Benschoten family in America: a genealogy and brief history, and some time ago I first noticed (with shock and horror) the word “slave”. None of these were my direct ancestors, but rather distant cousins many generations removed (obviously). But regardless of how there is a connection, having any connection to slave ownership is shameful.
I have been pondering, for some time,how to document this sad chapter in my family’s history. For now, I will just list what I have found so far. Each bullet item, below, represents a single cousin. Note that I have, for the most part, quoted the aforementioned book directly, which was written in in 1907 and was quoting yet earlier sources, so any offensive language is not mine.
On page 31, in 1758, there is a mention of “He had just returned from the fields with his negro slaves where he had been superintending the work” and “… the family and the negro slaves who had gathered in the room.”
On page 39, sometime before 1815, “the Domine had a privileged old slave as a gardener” and “The Domine sent a negro in chase who followed the fugitive creditor several miles and at last succeeded in making payment in full.”
On page 77, in 1783 a will gives to each of of his two daughters ownership of “a Negro Woman which she has now in possession” (there were two daughters and two slaves).
On page 100, the author says “And doubtless he had slaves as had his New Hackensack cousins; I come on no record of the fact, however, beyond this entry in the Poughkeepsie church records: “Baptised Nov. 4, 1796, Mary, child of Bet, slave of Elias Van Bunschoten; Sponsor, Catalyntje Light, wife of Elias Van Bunschoten.” Mrs. McRorie, Elias’ only living grandchild, remembers hearing that her “Grandmother Catalyntje was a ‘fine lady’ — that she never did any work except embroidery and needle-work, slaves doing all the household labor “.
On page 120, late 1700’s, a daughter is given “a slave woman called Elsie Deyon.”
On page 133, early 1800’s, there is mention of slave women Dinah and her daughters, and Judy and her daughter Alta.
On page 195, around 1800: “She also tells of an “old black Mary " and her daughter “Sill” or “Cill " who lived at her grandfather’s — the former a slave until emancipation.”
On page 199, in the mid 1600s a relative “settled at Harlem, opened an “ordinary " or tavern, established a ferry and provided boats for transportation “of which his lusty negro Mathys was put in charge.”
On page 214, around 1778, I found this disturbing story: “A negro boy belonging to the family having been impudent was punished by his master. Resenting the correction the negro at night put a coal in the hay-mow and the barns, barracks and all out-buildings were burned to the ground, and the contents including grain, fodder, cattle and horses entirely consumed. It is said that Jacob was reluctant to believe that the negro had done the deed until the latter, who was at work on the wood-pile the following day, taking an opportunity as he thought started to run away. He was pursued, caught, and confessing the crime turned over to the authorities and, paying the then penalty for incendiarism, was burnt at the stake in the broad part of Market street, Poughkeepsie — a horrible spectacle witnessed by a great concourse of people. It is told that when the flames were mounting about him the negro time and again cried out: “Oh! Massa’s poor horses! Oh! Massa’s poor, poor horses!”
On page 657, there is a church warehouse record: “Aug. 4, 1714. Owes for two pounds of (obscure) delivered to his negro,”
On page 664, in 1785, the following is listed in a will: “my Negro Wench, Jin, and my Negro Boy Named Ben”
To end on a better note I found these two passages:
On page 279, a cousin living in the mid 1800’s “It is said that during the days of the “Underground rail-road” he aided the cause of human freedom. On one occasion it is known that he saved negroes from capture by hiding them until their pursuers were gone and then getting them out of the port of Huron for Canada.”
A man who married into the family in 1851 (p 278): “Francis Barrie was of pronounced individuality. By nature he was a non-comformist and he became a reformer along many lines. Early an Abolitionist, he was a part of the " underground " system which passed escaping slaves on to Canada. He was an Adventist and a vegetarian, and used his voice and pen for the furtherance of many causes.”
When I was about 12 years old my mother got a little booklet from a distant cousin which listed the family tree of the Way family (my maternal grandfather’s family) going back to the late 1600’s. For a social studies project that year, I copied the information onto the given charts and was quite proud that I had three pages. But, I had no understanding of the value of this information, how hard it was to get and what was missing. With that, I dropped it and didn’t think about it for a very long time.
In the late 1990’s my mother and step-father became Mormon and began digging through the entire family tree. In addition to the booklet mentioned above, my mother had another one tracing back her mother’s ancestry, again, back to the late 1600’s. She entered all this into her computer (with some help from me), and I got a copy of the GEDCOM file, which I messed with occasionally, and even converted it to HTML and put it on my web pages.
I remember thinking, at the time, that there must be countless GEDCOM files, like mine, floating around out there, and if you could put them all together you would have one huge family tree, which would be infinitely more valuable than all those individual GEDCOMs. But this was before Wikis existed and so I couldn’t see a way to get from here to there, and promptly forgot about the idea.
A few years ago, I started thinking again about this idea and realized that a Wiki was just what was needed for this. A few searches later I found myself at WeRelate.org. This was exactly what I was looking for! I promptly dug out that old GEDCOM file, and submitted it. To my shock, it was rejected! I figured a few quick additions was all that was needed and started reading. But it would not be so easy, and I put the project aside. Almost. In the process, I discovered the book Concerning the Van Bunschoten or Van Benschoten family in America, a genealogy and brief history and was shocked. This 921 page book details 4395 descendants (and many others who married into the family) spanning two and a half centuries. I started reading this book and realized what genealogy really was, how difficult it could be and what things can be learned.
So, when my mother was visiting for Thanksgiving, we sat down and I showed her how to use WeRelate and got started down what is obviously going to be a long road. Thus far, I have 277 entries in my family tree over there and have only scratched the surface.
All this is to say that you can expect more posts about this in the future, whether you like it or not.
I noted this error, but forgot to note where I got it. I’m pretty sure it was IBM’s support site:
So I can’t log into the SR system due to an “issue”, and to get it resolved, I need to file an SR. My head is spinning, just like the logic.
An old friend of mine and I often needle each other about various things. Since I became vegan he will often try to find various things to change my mind. The latest was that he sent me a link toAllan Savory’s TED talk. I watched it through twice and read a couple of critiques of it. I also watched What’s Wrong with TED Talks?, but that’s another topic.
One thing I noted was the enthusiastic applause in the video and the love-fest in the YouTube comments. Why is that? And why did my friend forward this to me? Because he was telling them what they wanted to hear. The key point of his talk is that not only is it acceptable to eat that hamburger, but it is necessary as it is the only way to feed the world and reverse climate change.
But we should all know to be suspicious of people who tell us what we want to hear, whether they are salesmen, politicians, priests, or economists.
The problems we face, whether environmental, political, economic, personal or spiritual, will not be solved by doing things which are easy or comfortable. We aren’t going to fix anything by driving our SUV to Walmart to get some Chinese grown beef, to eat while we sit in our recliner watching reality TV or Fox News. But let’s narrow this discussion back to Allan Savory’s talk.
I would say there are only two points in his talk which are of value: 1) desertification is bad and 2) “mimic nature”. Though I would say the latter, while useful, is overly simplistic. Simply mimicing nature is not enough. We have created a set of problems which nature is not going to be able to solve except in geologic time scales. Rather, we need to look carefully at how nature works and, using the best design practices, put together new ecosystems which sequester carbon, provide food, retain water. Limiting ourselves to what nature has done in the past isn’t going to get us there.
There could well be circumstances where carefully managed livestock could be beneficial to the environment. However, I doubt there are many places where this is the only option, as he insists. I am further doubtful that there aren’t ways to carefully manage plant communities in ways which could be more beneficial and more water and energy efficient. Geoff Lawton’s efforts in Palestine come to mind.
Furthermore, he leaves out one big detail. Water. What are these cows drinking? A single cow needs 6-14 gallons of water per day. Where does all this water come from? You can grow a lot of plants with that much water.
And I noticed an interesting verbal sleight of hand near the end of his talk. When showing a map of all the arid areas of the planet, he claims that “only animals can feed people from about 95% of the land”. Given the context, I know that when he said “the land” he meant the arid land in his chart, not the whole earth. But, I suspect that some people, too busy salivating at the thought of being able to eat all the meat they want with a clear conscience, may hear it the other way. However, even in context that is quite a generalization. If we rephrase that statement we can see how ridiculous it is: “Of all the thousands of edible plant species there are none which can produce yields on 95% these arid lands.” Really?
Actually, there is a third key point of his talk: killing 40,000 elephants is a horrendously stupid act. While it’s possible he pulled his head out after that one, I’m not sticking around to find out.
I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this earlier, but I just put Defensive Omnivore Bingo onto GitHub. So if you have any contributions, feel free to send me a pull request. Of course, email still works.
Next blog post in progress…
Every day I see many of those supposed progress indicators. But they don’t indicate anything other than lazy and sloppy programming. That little icon will go on spinning regardless of what is actually happening. In the rare situations where it really does relate to work being done, it rarely relates in a useful way. It seems that these days most software is written with several assumptions in mind:
Everything occurs instantaneously and reliably
Users are incapable of dealing with actual information or numbers
Fancy graphics are more important than solid well-written code
The first assumption is laughable, the second is insulting, and the third is sad.
It shouldn’t be hard to do this right. Many years ago I cooked up a simpleminded progress indicator which tells you what is happening, and about how long it might take. It was quick and stupidly simple to write.
Loading host info for urolite.example.com… 16 of 17 (94.1%) 9s ETA 1s
But as for the progress on this blog, I have nearly a dozen mostly finished drafts waiting to be posted, but I’ll leave that icon spinning so that you know that something is going on.
Reposted from my BlurBlog: Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives
reifman writes Upstart social networking startup Ello burst on the scene in September with promises of a utopian, post-Facebook platform that respected user’s privacy. I was surprised to see so many public figures and media entities jump on board — mainly because of what Ello isn’t. It isn’t an open source, decentralized social networking technology. It’s just another privately held, VC-funded silo. Remember Diaspora? In 2010, it raised $200,641 on Kickstarter to take on Facebook with “an open source personal web server to share all your stuff online.” Two years later, they essentially gave up, leaving their code to the open source community to carry forward. In part one of “Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives,” I revisit/review six open source social networking alternatives in search of a path forward beyond Facebook.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
A good survey of the options. I’ve been on diaspora for years, but its a lonely place.
November 25, 2014 at 01:09PM
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Conflicts of interest in nutrition research:
Over the July 4th weekend, a reader sent a link to a paper about to be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled Increased fruit and vegetable intake has no discernible effect on weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
I took a look at the abstract:
This would seem to make some sense, no? But the dismissal of recommendations to increase fruit-and-vegetable consumption sent up red flags.
My immediate question: who paid for this study?
Here’s the conflict of interest statement.
Note the presence of companies making processed foods whose sales would decline if people ate more F&V.
A coincidence? I don’t think so, alas.
More evidence: just today, Bettina Siegel sent me her post on a paper sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association, once again with a predictable outcome.
When it comes to nutrition research, “guess the sponsor” is a game that is all too easy to win.
This is why I avoid health arguments about veganism: little actual science is getting done, and when it does, studies like this quickly pop up
July 8, 2014 at 12:29PM
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Apparently The US Is Pretty Selective About What Science it Believes
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April 23, 2014 at 8:00AM
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A few days ago I was investigating a bug (which caused Subversion to dump core) and I discovered this sentence in the commentary about a very similar bug: “A friend of mine told me it was normal, and it was not the duty of apr_hashfunc_default to ‘sanitize’ the parameters it receives.”
When I first saw that statement I thought “no, it takes a village to write a program”.
That commentary above is now doubly hearsay, and I have no idea if this is their official stance on the bug, but it is a troubling sentiment, in any context. Software, these days, is composed of countless layers of libraries and it is everyone’s responsibility to deal with unexpected inputs in some way. Otherwise you will end up with confusing error messages which are far removed from the actual problem (which is an increasing problem as we all know). Simply letting a segfault happen is not acceptable, if you’re going to insist on crashing the calling program, then at least issue an error message first. Do something!
I have run into many situations like this in my own code. My strategy is always to first narrow down the problem to the lowest level, write a test case and fix the bug in the lowest level library. Then move up the stack and write a test and fix the problem in the caller, and so on. To fix only the highest level program just sweeps the problem under the rug, until it is rediscovered years later in another program. And I do mean years. The statement, above, which sparked this post dates to 2007, but the code I was working with was released in 2013.
This popup just came up on my wife’s phone:
Alert! Sorry, we ran into a problem. Please try again. If the problem persists call us at 800-xxx-xxxx. Error Code 1000.
While it is admirable when engineers make an effort to enumerate all the possible errors a program might get, but to do so without providing further on-screen explanation is just plain mean. Perhaps they should supply a secret decoder ring for those who don’t simply want to stare confusedly at the screen and retry the operation under the assumption that the unspecified “problem” will simply go away.
I’ve seen a lot of stupid password rules in my day. Some of them indicate shoddy programming, for example, sites that require you to use symbols, but then exclude many of them (the phrase “SQL injection” pops into mind). Others reflect antiquated systems, for example, requiring that the first 8 characters contain all types of characters (upper, lower, number, symbol) but allowing longer passwords, or just overly limiting password length.
But today I ran into one which simply seems arbitrary and stupid. When signing up to look up my ancestors on ellisisland.org I was faced with this: “Password Must be 10 characters and begin and end with a number.” Indeed it required that the password be exactly 10 characters and didn’t seem to concern itself with what the other 8 characters were. I wonder how many people there have the password “1234567890”.
I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. The rest of you should read this: http://xkcd.com/936/
After attending Subversion & Git Live 2013 in Boston, I was thinking that I need to get this written down, and where better than a rarely updated and even more rarely read blog?
In my job, I work with numerous version control systems. When I was first exposed to Mercurial and Git, I realized they very nicely solved a problem which had plagued the free software community for years.
Several years ago, I wanted to contribute fixes to p42svn, which is in a Subversion repository (though what I am about to say applies to most any pre-DVCS system). I created my workspace, and then set to work on my fix. When I was done, I could not check in, since I didn’t have checkin access, and didn’t expect to be granted such access since the owner of the project had no idea who I was and if I could be trusted to checkin to the repository. So, I had to do a diff and then mail that to the owner. But, now, for my next change it got trickier. Since I only want to send the owner the changes I made since the last patch, I had to manually save a copy of what I sent last time (since I couldn’t check in). At this point I could have just created my own repository, and started checking in, which would have simplified this. Fortunately, I never needed to do that as the owner kindly gave me access to the repository.
But now I started experiencing the other side of this problem. I found patches on the forum for a number of fixes. But with each patch, I had a puzzle: what version did each one base their work on? If they didn’t say, I had to either ask, or work it out myself, which is quite tedious. Once I worked that out, I would create a branch, run patch and checkin their change. Now I have their change recorded in relation to the history of the code, and I could properly evaluate the change and merge it in. Of course, the first steps could have been entirely avoided if the change had been checked into a branch directly by the contributor. But they can’t do that since I don’t know who they are or if they can be trusted (sound familiar?).
The beauty of Mercurial and Git is that a potential contributor can make their changes, check them in and then “push” them to me. Thus, preserving the relationship of their change to the rest of the code. Of course, this is just what Github and its ilk enable. This is fantastic! All that monkeying around with diff and patch is gone! Now I can focus on the important problems.
But, here’s the rub. In the enterprise, this is not a problem we face in any way. First off, it is exceedingly rare for someone on an unrelated project to contribute a fix to my code. Even if such a thing did happen, I would know exactly who that person is. So if their ‘fix’ fouls up the code, contains malicious code, etc, they can be held accountable for that.
In my opinion, being able to solve the unknown contributor problem discussed above is truly revolutionary and is the most important reason for using Mercurial or Git. But it’s a problem we don’t have in the enterprise.