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Archive for August, 2010

The First Chicken

Your progeny will be known as Gallus domesticus, chicken, cock, hen, poultry, the Chicken of Tomorrow, broiler, layer, Mr. McDonald, and many other names. Each name tells a story, but no stories have been told, no names have yet been given to you or any animal.

Like all animals in this time before the beginning, you reproduce according to your own preferences and instincts. You are not fed, forced to labor, or protected. You are not marked as a possession with brands or tagging. No one has even thought of you as something that could be possessed or owned.

As a wild rooster; you survey the landscape, warn others of intruders with complex calls, and defend mates with beak and sharp toes. As a wild hen, you begin communicating with your chicks even before they hatch, responding to peeps of distress by shifting your weight. The image of your motherly protection and care will be used in the second verse of Genesis to describe the hovering of God’s first breath over the water. Jesus will invoke you as an image of protective love: “I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” But Genesis has not yet been written, nor Jesus born.

I just love the type of thinking Foer presents in this quote. Sometimes things come first, and other times, things just think they came first. Before we learned how to engineer the life and production of a chicken, they lived. Yet humans were probably still able to eat chickens from time to time, as hard as it is to believe. For some reason it is comforting (and scary) to think that chickens have an existence entirely outside of me and my story.

From feeling like I eat too much and purposely eating too little to my newest contemplation (vegetarianism), my history with food is wide and varied. There are scary stories to be told, laughs to be had, and joyous times with loved ones to be remembered.

My vegetarian exploits have brought me to Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals (that’s where this quote is from). In the book, Foer encourages his reader to consider the story that comes with eating and emphasizes that these stories are not ones told from the quiet seclusion of individuality. Food, whether we like it or not, is communal. From the people we eat with (or without) to the animals we eat (or abstain from eating), every choice we make involves another form of existence in one way or another. This, considered with the fact that chickens (and all of our food) have an existence outside of us (humans) seems to demand that we show a little more respect to the food we eat, or at least that we take a little more time to consider where it came from.

I’m still not entirely sure what this means for me and my food story. All I know for now is that I will try to be a little more conscious of what relationships I am forming (or supporting) with the food I eat.

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My dear old friend Trevor just sent me a link to this article.

Here’s the deal, my heart stopped when I read this article because, drumroll please…

ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS IS BEING MADE INTO A MOVIE!

That’s right folks, your favorite tambourine playing, vegan scientist artist pacifist is going to come to life on the big screen.

It doesn’t seem like there is a date set for the release of movie but the good news is that they have begun casting.

I cannot adequately express my joy at this moment so I won’t even try.

Thanks Trev!

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Alice in Wonderland has always been one movie that I really love. When the newest movie came out this last spring I was all too excited to make a trip to the theater. While some people did not enjoy the newest film, I absolutely love it. It represents a whimsical sort of life that I want to live.

My love for the movie spurred me on to read the books by Lewis Carol. This is when I ran into the quote I posted above. For some reason, the idea of believing impossible things is just amazing to me. Perhaps if we all made this a practice our world would be a lot different so here goes…

1. I believe that any world problem can be solved without war.

2. I believe it is possible to live a life of no waste.

3. I believe there are friends who will be in your life forever.

4. I believe it is possible to live your entire life without owning a car.

5. I believe you can learn to love anyone and that everyone deserves to be loved.

6. I believe that any situation/life can be redeemed.

There you have it six impossible things, all believed before (or during) breakfast.

Your turn…

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Today I read Of Mice and Men for the first time. This was actually my first time reading Steinbeck in any form and it was quite a joy. I read the entire book, cover to cover, all before noon; it has been a while since I have done that.

The introduction to the book had this wonderful quote by Steinbeck and I absolutely love it.

In every bit of honest writing in the world there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of therm. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other.

I especially like the idea that truly knowing another person most always leads to love. I have witnessed this in my own life and I try to live by this principle. Know another person and love them, for those you can’t come to know, know that you would love them if you knew them.

Besides all this mushy stuff this book brings my total summer page count to 2,441 pages. I am well on my way to 4,000.

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I found this post on Sociological Images (find the link on my sidebar) today and it is quite interesting. Not super deep, but just right for a lazy Saturday…

The basic gist? For some reason, it is weird for women to attend a baseball game and even weirder for them to eat and, GASP, talk. Sorry Mad and Laura, you guys are just not supposed to be at sporting events. And when you are there you probably only talk about shopping and other things that you would rather be doing…

“Women Talk, Eat at Baseball Game; Earth Stands Still” can be found here.

Happy Saturday!

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way to go!

Just look at this… you won’t be sorry I promise. What a woman, I only wish I had an ounce of the guts that she has. This is AWESOME!!!

click on the picture for the full blog post.

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When I was younger, a child if you will, having any amount of money was an immense treat. There were endless possibilities for your meager three dollars. The introduction of money into my life quickly brought another realization–some people have more money than others. In my case, my brother had more money than I did. Being the capitalist in our duo, he bargained and saved. Being the socialist, I didn’t worry so much about the saving, spending my money when I wanted. I did however bargain. I would convince my brother that somehow it really was not fair that he had five dollars while I only had one. The only fair solution, I told him, was to give me one dollar. He agreed of course, as I was older and wiser than he. I have always been a socialist at heart.

Fifteen years later, about a week ago, my brother and I were walking through a neighborhood Sunday market and I spotted a new book! Why I Am a Socialist (1910) is a book by investigative journalist Charles Edward Russell. I bought the book for four dollars and I must say, it is one of the better purchases of my summer.

The book is a series of case studies highlighting the ways in which people become trapped in a faulty economic system. Like Marx in The Communist Manifesto, Russell emphasizes the fact that people become dependent on ultimately harmful systems lest thy face “the pain of extinction,” or being driven out of the market. Businesses trade their goods and laborers trade their labor power. The problem arises when competition drives prices (market price of goods and the price of wages) down below their true value. The catch with Russell seems to be that everyone is stuck in this system, no one is the bad guy. The bad guy is the economic system and it alone needs changing.

Why doesn’t capitalism work? Because,

If a man’s competitors resort to a deception that reduces the cost of their product he must resort to the like deception or retire from business. He has no alternative; he absolutely must do as they do or give over the fight… That a man should accept ruin merely because he will not practice what is universal in his trade is an act of quixotic virtue that we never have required and never should expect. If he does what the rest do that is enough of honesty. You cannot demand of him more. Competition rules him with iron rods. He must do this and he must not do that, law or no law, and no matter the results may be to others. (page 40)

I won’t bother you with any more boring economics but you should know this, Russell is smart, his writing in captivating and he will make you think, which was his purpose.

The world does not grow worse, does not stand still, but slowly grows better, [Reform is a] vast, complicated and often mysterious evolution. It is not to be had with the naiveté of a single push. It calls for the persistence of each generation.

With the genius of Marx and the optimism that he lacked, here is Charles Edward Russell, American Socialist and man after my own heart.

“Progress is slow, but at least there is something gained.” And perhaps if we put our minds to it, everyone will have ample control over their means of production, whether they be wage laborers or the big man up top.

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