Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Thought

Clifton  A fact you might find it worthwhile to ponder today: had all early Americans adopted a vegan lifestyle, human slavery would never have existed in this country.
Erika  Yeah, slaves are too gamy for me. Last I checked, cotton is still considered vegan safe.
Lori  Wait … we ate slaves?
Clifton  Well, these days, cotton is harvested by machines. No serious vegan or vegetarian would purchase cotton products where the cotton was harvested by slaves. (Incidentally, I highly recommend the Planet Money series on the origin of t-shirts for anyone really interested in exploring the human labor involved in modern clothing production.)

Veganism and vegetarianism aren’t just about what you eat, but more about not causing living things to suffer or die unnecessarily.

When might it be necessary for a living thing to suffer or die? Perhaps when we’re trying to find cures to devastating illnesses as were Banting/Best and Pasteur to name a few.

Clifton I’d like to add that I would support any variety of eating less meat, including this http://www.meatlessmonday.com/.
Jon  Is the vegan included in the lifestyle of not causing living things to suffer? 😉
Clifton  Yeah, Jon, I imagine a lot of people find any talk of changing their behavior insufferable. Any direct mention of the possible merits of not eating meat could ultimately be a terrible PR move. I hope not, of course.

In my defense, I think it’s been quite a while since I posted some pro-vegan/vegetarian propaganda.

Also, as usual, I was hoping that someone would uncover the fault(s) in my reasoning. I do freely admit that I might have it all wrong. I believe my agnosticism is quite pathological at this point.

Rachel  Haha my agnosticism as well there are so many times where I say I believe this but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we’re all right, maybe we’re all wrong?
Clifton  Agnosticism: withholding certainty to grant that knowing all facts is probably impossible in some circumstances. I still do this with anthropogenic climate change. Ultimately, I feel I must acknowledge that I probably won’t live long enough to learn everything (regarding climate change or anything else) and must therefore rely on experts to some extent. The best survey of experts I know of found a 97-98% consensus among preeminent scientists actively publishing on climate science. So, that’s what I go with and act on.

Similarly, all large studies I know of conclude that eating little or no meat is healthier than eating greater quantities of meat: the Loma Linda studies, the Seven Countries Study, the Framingham Heart Study, the Cornell-Oxford-China Health Project, and the Lifestyle Heart Trial. I don’t think I’m cherry-picking here. These are the only major studies of human nutrition I know of and they all have similar things to say about meat: less (or none) is better.

And, this seems to me to nicely sum up the environmental impact of meat consumption: http://www.worldwatch.org/system/files/EP174A.pdf.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Llewyn Davis, it seems to me, thinks that there’s a purity to music and he’s trying to harness it. As I lie here reading an interview with the Coens, I continue to think about what they meant to say about the age-old uneasy relationship between art and commerce. There’s also a subtext of death and abortion in the movie that I think must be significant somehow, though I’m not sure I’ve quite figured it out. Is it reaching, I wonder, to think that Llewyn might view his desired career path as his child?

In what I think is the best scene, Llewyn apparently aces an important audition, giving what seems to me to be a perfect performance of a song that happens to be about a woman who asks repeatedly for an abortion in order to save her life.

When he’s finished with this poignant, heartfelt performance, there’s a long pause before the callous verdict comes in: “I don’t see a lot of money here.”

Llewyn seems to realize at around this point that, like Queen Jane of the song he’s just sung, it’s him or the music.

It’s difficult for me not to think of a musician I like a great deal named Ron Sexsmith. He’s led a long career, writing many excellent songs, the best of which only a handful of people will ever hear. Of course. He’s got no real gimmick (unless naked sincerity is a gimmick), he’s not especially handsome, and he doesn’t growl out vapid love songs.

Anyway, he’s got a song that seems fitting here called “This Song”: “Brought a song into this world / Just a melody with words / It trembles here before my eyes / How can this song survive? / I brought it to the tower of gold / In my coat of many holes / I came unarmed; they’ve all got knives / How can this song survive? …”