Saturday, July 23, 2016

Experience Report: 2 Weeks On a Raw Vegan Diet

I've been doing a mostly raw vegan diet these last two weeks.

As an interesting side effect, I didn't have any alcohol (except on fridays) and no coffee, though I did cheat a little bit by drinking green tea, and I had maybe 3 or 4 cups of coffee throughout the whole time. The coffee turkey led to some interesting withdrawal symptoms.

After the first week, I decided to reintroduce bread, and I decided not to look extremely closely at the label of hummus and some spelt grain spread, because I developed extreme cravings for those two things and the other option would have been to step down to a cooked vegan diet, which presented no challenge at all, as I already know I can do that.

There were no cravings for sweets (interesting), no cravings for alcohol (very reassuring!), and none for meat (yeah that was pretty neat).

Digestion was not a problem -- to the contrary. If anything, it was better. With a somewhat meaty and fatty diet, I always had some acid reflux issues. On raw vegan, this was gone. As for what came out at the other end... well, let's just say it was shockingly much.

My conclusion is twofold.

One is that this is not sustainable in the long run for me. Too many variations of taste, temperature and consistency go amiss, at least as long as one doesn't buy a desiccation machine and a juicer (which I definitely won't do just for an experiment). Fermentation can make things interesting, but what it all boils down to (haha, pun so intended!) is that everything has extremely strong tastes - either very sour, or very salty, or very sweet. There are no in-betweens. Nothing is mild and gentle. To my surprise, this is exactly the quality that makes meat so tasty - it's good precisely because it doesn't taste like very much.

And also, keeping this kind of diet healthy would require amounts of planning ahead that I am simply not prepare to invest.

One fun and very instructive part: It's incredible how fast raw food will rot. For example, I took raw oatmeal to work, ate a bit at about 8am, and forgot to put it in the fridge. At 1pm I thought I'd have a bite. By that time, the thing had already gone bad. And that, my friends, is why we invented cooking in the first place!

On to the positive: I had been going through a year-long spell of low energy. I came home from work and only wanted to watch a few videos and go to sleep. I put it down to the job, which indeed was quite stressful.

But over these two weeks my energy level improved with every day. It was truly amazing. My gf felt it, too. ;-) I even took up reading, like, actual books, again, which was utterly out of my reach for at least a year. (This might actually be due to drinking no coffee.)

What I take from it is this: I'll dive even more into vegan cooking than I did in the past. I'll have way more raw stuff in my diet. I'll reduce non-vegan options to when I eat at a restaurant or am invited to parties.

But for a long-term diet, raw vegan is completely and utterly unsustainable. You'd have to put in tremendous amounts of planning, reserve lots of time just for eating (a salad just takes way longer to eat than a steak or pasta), and even then you'd have to start supplementing B12 at some point. Not to mention that it is rather expensive, since you'd have to buy organic fruit in large quantities all the time. But for a short spell, just to lose a bit of weight, it's actually a fine option.

The Road To Vegan World-Domination

If I were a vegan, (which I am not and never will be), and my goal was to convince meat-eaters to become vegan, here's what I should not do:

Tell people that meat is murder, and try to convince them on moral grounds and with all the brute force of my strict, stringent, wonderfully compelling logic.

Here is what I should focus on instead:

Convince people with the glow of my renewed energy. Seduce them with extremely delicious, beautiful food. Add my greens to their barbecue. Actually enjoy my own food and let them see my enjoyment.

You see, I am a not-quite-but-almost-vegan for the simple reason that I enjoy the food I cook for myself. I look forward to that wonderful Koshari, that intensely aromatic Chili Sin Carne, this excellent Curry with tofu and greens. I really like my oatmeal and my smoothie. And I'm truly sorry, but I just don't feel for the poor cows, even though I know I probably should. It's just not there, on an emotional, visceral level. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but the fact is I could not care less even if I tried real hard.

Forget logic and morality. People are rarely ever won over by those. Their experience is that meat tastes yummie and that society won't punish them for their creature comforts. And the simple fact is that experience trumps rational reasoning. It doesn't matter whether that seems unfair or illogical or just plain wrong to you. That's just how humans work. If you actually want to make the world a better place, instead of being comfortable on the moral high ground, you better start working with nature, not against it.

Let's assume that the goal is to reduce suffering. Then, turning 1% of the population into 100% vegans is way less effective than turning 30% of them into people who eat small amounts of meat.

It's also less catchy, of course.

Friday, June 17, 2016

People like to confuse ethical "rights" and legal rights

It is amazing how people think that they have "freedom of speech" on some internet site like Quora or youtube.

I won't go on about how this is a false interpretation of the whole right to freedom of speech. That's a separate, albeit important issue.

I think that people often misunderstand the difference between their "rights" in an ethical sense, and "rights" in the sense of written laws.

This misunderstanding goes back to some vagueness in the English (as well as the German) language, at least to some degree. Being / having a "right" denotes logical, ethical and/or legal correctness, depending on grammatical usage and context.

I think we should make an effort to clarify which sense of the word we talk about. Failing to do so just makes a lot of debates, which are already emotionally charged, even less productive.

Coming back to that "freedom of speech" issue, yes it displays a certain relation to other people's opinions when people such as, for example, Robert Barron's team on youtube will block you for having a different opinion. They are perfectly within their legal rights to do so, and youtube as the site owner grants them that right as well as the technical means for its implementation. I still think it's ethically flawed, and it probably suggests a lack of good counter-arguments on their part. I have a certain ethical "right" to speak my mind, and we should voice it as such whenever someone cuts us off for no good reason. But we should not conflate that with a constitutional right.

It simply is a different thing.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Dog brains

Essentially, dogs all have the same intellectual capacities, regardless of size. But their heads vary enormously in size. So I assume that their brains have different sizes, too. So brain size does not matter.

Good for me, huh?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The danger of veganism

Over the past few years, I have become convinced that you can eat a vegan diet that is mostly healthy, while minimizing your carbon footprint and contributing less to animal suffering.

So that is a good thing.

Still, I was always a bit uneasy about the whole thing.

The problem is, veganism has a name. A cutesy (though somewhat stupid), easy to remember name.

That makes it incredibly easy and seductive to change your diet (as hard as that is), and then to think, that's it, now I've got that whole ethical lifestyle thing down.

Where there's a name, people like to identify with it. People don't incorporate veganism into their lives - they ARE vegans. That's dangerous business.

Just do a youtube search for veganism and try to determine how many channels there are, just about that one topic.

The truth is, of course, that nutrition is only one part of a much larger set of issues. You will never have that ethics thing down, because that is an ongoing process, and you will always have to weigh the proposed benefits against your convenience, your resources, and your preparedness to actually change yourself.

You will never live a perfectly ethical life. You will never reduce your footprint to absolute zero. As long as you are alive, you will produce suffering.

So now you don't eat meat. But you drive a car. Or maybe you don't own a car, but you use public transport, and then there's that rare instance when you call a taxi. And that money you have in your bank account? You can be sure that some part of it will be invested in a company (which will invest it in another company, etc), and somehwere down the line it will end up in some field office of the mafia. You can try and buy your clothes from some "fair" company, but good luck checking their actual practices, and better luck not buying any gas or electricity that has any bad impact.

You will always have your hands dirty. It's unavoidable. That is the one catholic teaching that I, strangely, agree with.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A list of short (horror) films

HORROR
=======

Skypemare (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIFkut11Xpc)
7:09

I really liked that one. It's not your usual slasher story, and I totally didn't see the twist coming.

genre: horror
overall rating: 9 *********
scare factor: 7 *******
acting: 9 *********
plot: Two girlfriends have a video chat on Halloween, while a killer is on the loose...

---

2AM: The Smiling Man (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u6Tt3PqIfQ)

A really good, short, scary/funny horror film. Well executed and with good atmosphere, and a nice unconventional basic idea.

genre: horror
overall rating: 10 **********
scare factor: 9 *********
acting: 8 ********
plot: A man on a lonely alley has a scary encounter with an uncanny smiling man.

---

Vienna waits for you (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_hsU2O_o50)

In Vienna, you don't rent apartment. Apartment rent you.

This is intense, well written, intelligent and quite scary. The only downside is the less-than-optimal SFX, especially towards the end.

genre: horror
overall rating: 9 *********
scare factor: 8 ********
acting: 6 ******
plot: A young woman moves into an old apartment that not only has a will of its own, but also seems to change its tenants.

---
The Cut (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46BhPSCvnAI)

I clicked on it because I fell for the clickbait. Otherwise it's just indistinct.

genre: horror
scare factor: 4, but that's only because of the music; the video itself is a 0
acting: undecidable due to constant darkness.
plot: A man shaves in his apartment.

---

So pretty (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwLWAkZCUzM)

It wasn't really scary, but a pretty refreshing take on vampires.

genre: horror
scare factor: 2 **
acting: 9 *********
plot: In the subway, a woman and a man relate over a "Twilight" book.

---

Apartment 41 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_dBw7Npsq8)
6:37

Watchable. The basic idea is quite fine, but the unbelievable twist ruined it, and the topic has been done to death (haha).


genre: horror
overall rating: 6 ******
scare factor: 5 *****
acting: 5 *****
plot: A woman moves into an apartment and gets terrorized by a ghost.

---

Audition (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwR-3AzzoXE)
14:20

I didn't find this scary, but it has atmosphere and style and is based on a somewhat not-too-bad idea.

genre: horror/thriller
overall rating: 6 ******
scare factor: 2 **
acting: 7 *******
plot: He invites her for an audition, but his intentions are less than noble.

---

Blink (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5Ichw5xq44)
12:36

Yeah, well. Whatever

genre: horror
overall rating: 5 *****
scare factor: 4 ****
acting: 8 ********
plot: A man's terrible nightmares invade his real life.
comment: There's really not an awful lot to say. You'll guess the plot twist after 2 minutes.

---

Cougars (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CphvRVK0EpU)
15:00

 More funny than scary. Lesson learned: If you don't have a budget, don't try special effects. Some good atmosphere stuff going on in the beginning, but it ultimately builds up to nothing.

genre: horror
overall rating: 5 *****
scare factor: 1 *
acting: 6 ******
plot: Young girl's mother is a cougar. Turns out the daughter ain't much different.

---

OCD (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0c_f0bDUJY)
7:09

I'm sure this works great as a piece of narrative, but the off-screen narration ruins the movie, and the acting is mediocre.


genre: horror
overall rating: 5 *****
scare factor: 1 *
acting: 3 ***
plot: Guy with OCD has an incident.


---

now,here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74piN4xAdIY)
5:30

A pretty good twist, a neat location and a cute girl... But the production values and bad, bad acting make it stink, sink, and rot.

I wrote a comment on that video on how it might be improved. Find me there... Do you agree with me?

genre: horror:
overall rating: 5 *****
scare factor: 2 **
acting: 2 **
plot: They go to a derelict house for a photo shoot, and bad things ensue.


SCI-FI
=====

Project Arbiter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MWQHBsalOM)

As of writing, I haven't even watched this to the end, but it looks pretty darn good.

genre: sci-fi
overall rating: 9 *********
acting: 7 *******
plot: Something about WWII and the Wunderwaffe. Frankly, I didn't pay too much attention because I was so caught up in admiring the visuals. The only annoying thing is when they try to talk german. I'm a german native speaker, so this really took me out of it.

---

ENVOY (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3-21AMbFFk)
9:14

Nicely done, to the point and simple.

genre: sci-fi
overall rating: 9 *********
acting: 8 ********
plot: A young boy and his older brother discover something alien lurking in a field.

Monday, January 11, 2016

How to be A True Atheist (not funny!)

JP Sears posted a video entitled "How to be an Atheist (funny)" - see below.

Personally, I appreciate a lot, though not all, of his "funny" videos. This one is in-between. Not that it "hurt me as an atheist", or anything like that -- I just thought that his commandments for atheists didn't really hit home. It's certainly not easy to make fun of such a diverse group, though.

So, without further ado, here are about 10 or so commandments that I personally find funny:

  1. Do not be an agnostic. Agnostics are cowardly, wimpy crybabies. More importantly, they are not True Atheists, and we obviously cannot have that.
  2. Speaking of which, a True Atheist is a feminist or an antifeminist, (both for purely rational reasons, of course), but never both at the same time, and never none of the two, since that would constitute a form of agnosticism, and (see above).
  3. Speaking of which, once you have decided whether you are a feminist or an antifeminist, members of the other group shall instantly become lesser atheists to thee, since they do not adhere to the One True Atheism.
  4. Speaking of which, thou shalt have a True Atheist stance on everything. Remember: your Atheism is not just atheism, but Atheism. Capital A. See?
  5. Speaking of which, a True Atheist is always skeptical of about 84% of all things.
  6. Among the 18.3% of things a True Atheist cannot be skeptical of are to be found, in order: God's nonexistence (duh), the superior priority of rationalism above everything else, strictest lipservice to the scientific method, and the fact that Richard Dawkins said it all.
  7. A True Atheist never attacks the person, but only their moronic ideas. Of course, believing in those implies complete stupidity and a lack of morality on part of the believer, and you can easily let it show by being snide and displaying an unholier-than-though attitude. When questioned, you then revert to being butthurt, all the while repeating your old ideas-not-people sthick, thereby saving your True Atheist Ass.
  8. When someone talks to god, it's called prayer. When god talks back, it's called psychosis. What is it called when multiple gods talk back to you?
  9. The sky is empty. Been there, done that, got the vertigo.
  10. Attendance at SkeptiCon is not optional.
  11. Screaming discussions on youtube channels with lots of CAPITALS and exclamation MARKS are NOT OPTIONAL!!!!!!!!1111!
  12. Meditation, however, IS optional.
  13. Don't get caught.


P.S.: I think the problem of JP's video boils down to Poe's Law. Satirical humor doesn't work when the satirized content might just as well comprise everything in the satire. Or in other words, if your target is indistinguishable from its own parody, then satire makes no sense.