Sunday, January 31, 2010

Someone Read A Book!

My God! I'm 22, half-drunk, sitting at the Deadwood and the marginally attractive sophomore anthropology major whom I had Western Civ from 1865 with just sat down next to me.

It's a flashback of historic proportions.

A piece from Natalie Portman written for HuffPost a few months ago.

Jonathan Safran Foer's book Eating Animals changed me from a twenty-year vegetarian to a vegan activist.

Is it just me or don't a lot of vegetarians seem to treat their vegetarianness like they went through AA or something, hoping against hope that they can make it to the next year and collect their new chip. Alcoholism is a disease. Eating meat isn't. Sorry.

I've always been shy about being critical of others' choices because I hate when people do that to me.

Me thinks there's a 'but' comin'

I'm often interrogated about being vegetarian (e.g., "What if you find out that carrots feel pain, too? Then what'll you eat?").

That's the best witticism that's been thrown your way? Kinda weak. I'm dubious if that's what she's putting in the first graf to lead off this 'transformative' proclamation.

I've also been afraid to feel as if I know better than someone else -- a historically dangerous stance...


...(I'm often reminded that "Hitler was a vegetarian, too, you know"). But...


...this book reminded me that some things are just wrong. Perhaps others disagree with me that animals have personalities, but the highly documented torture of animals is unacceptable, and the human cost Foer describes in his book, of which I was previously unaware, is universally compelling.

Whoa! She's been a vegetarian for 20 years and didn't know that animals were tortured in the meat-making process on factory farms? Geesh! Read a newspaper and watch one of the 14 million documentaries made in the last 30 years on the subject.

The human cost of factory farming -- both the compromised welfare of slaughterhouse workers and, even more, the environmental effects of the mass production of animals -- is staggering. Foer details the copious amounts of pig shit sprayed into the air that result in great spikes in human respiratory ailments, the development of new bacterial strains due to overuse of antibiotics on farmed animals, and the origins of the swine flu epidemic, whose story has gripped the nation, in factory farms.

Using that logic, with Toyota having issues with accelerator pedals and 40,000 people dying each year from car accidents (#1 cause of death for people between ages 1 and 34), we should just outlaw cars. Seems like that's a reason for better environmental/farm rules and regulations, not outlawing meat.

I read the chapter on animal shit aloud to two friends -- one is from Iowa and has asthma and the other is a North Carolinian who couldn't eat fish from her local river because animal waste had been dumped in it as described in the book.

Anyone else get the feeling that hanging around Natalie might be like hanging around an Amway rep? But, you know, A LOT WORSE. You just KNOW the pitch is coming at some point. Where's the tipping point? Three appletinis? Two hits on the bong?

They had never truly thought about the connection between their environmental conditions and their food. The story of the mass farming of animals had more impact on them when they realized it had ruined their own backyards.

But what Foer most bravely details...

Glurp how eating animal pollutes not only our backyards, but also our beliefs.

He reminds us that our food is symbolic of what we believe in,

Bow at the altar of the wise Mr. Foer!

and that eating is how we demonstrate to ourselves and to others our beliefs: Catholics take communion -- in which food and drink represent body and blood. Jews use salty water on Passover to remind them of the slaves' bitter tears. And on Thanksgiving, Americans use succotash and slaughter to tell our own creation myth -- how the Pilgrims learned from Native Americans to harvest this land and make it their own.

Well, first, most Christians do the 'body and blood' thing. Not just Catholics.

Mostly, though, I heart the religious overtones (and the alliteration) here, connecting the eating of meat to some sort of wrong-headed religious practice. So if I'm to take that comparison literally, are Christians cannibals for taking a representative body of Christ wafer every Sunday? This religious conspiracy is more sinister than I thought!

Gee, I wonder if Natalie's going to talk about unthinking zealotry and then fall into the trap herself.

And as we use food to impart our beliefs to our children, the point from which Foer lifts off, what stories do we want to tell our children through their food?

I'm going to tell them to not listen to a Hollywood actress that makes bullshit assumptions about my supposed lack of knowledge and conscientiousness of the food I eat.

I remember in college, a professor asked our class to consider what our grandchildren would look back on as being backward behavior or thinking in our generation, the way we are shocked by the kind of misogyny, racism, and sexism we know was commonplace in our grandparents' world.

Oh sweetie. You ARE in your 20s, aren't you?

He urged us to use this principle to examine the behaviors in our lives and our societies that we should be a part of changing. Factory farming of animals will be one of the things we look back on as a relic of a less-evolved age.

So far, I've been told by Mrs. Portman that factory farming is bad, which, by and large, it is, especially with lax environmental laws not regulating the air, water and human effects historically well enough to inhibit said problems with such things. All that is well-documented and I agree.

What I haven't been told is why this is a reason to be a vegetarian or vegan, or how 'succotash and slaughter' means anything in this context. Did Native Americans run factory farms? My history teachers did do a terrible job!

I say that Foer's ethical charge against animal eating is brave because not only is it unpopular, it has also been characterized as unmanly, inconsiderate, and juvenile.

Um, what? Unmanly? Some dope reviews the book ($20 this came from an Amazon reviewer) and calls it unmanly so that covers the 'it has been characterized' label.

If that's the case, Obama might actually be a communist because some commenter on the National Review website said so.

But he reminds us that being a man, and a human, takes more thought than just "This is tasty, and that's why I do it." He posits that consideration, as promoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore's Dilemma, which has more to do with being polite to your tablemates than sticking to your own ideals, would be absurd if applied to any other belief (e.g., I don't believe in rape, but if it's what it takes to please my dinner hosts, then so be it).

WHOA!!!!!!!! (and the impetus of this SNC post)

That, quite possibly, is the most offensive thing I've read here at the SNC (and that's saying a lot). Her little 'e.g.' there puts her in the category of mind-blowingly stupid. Is she equating rape with eating meat? Probably not but not outside the realm of the more fanatical vegan world. Is she juxtaposing them? Yes. In an attempt to be provocative, she meandered into a realm and opened a door. The logic of typing that (and keeping that after editing) paints her into an extremely precarious ethical corner. Let's go down that road, Natalie and see where it leads. Wanna see where putting the eating of meat and such a reprehensible criminal act into the same discussion gets you? Let's.

And Natalie takes a page from Jessica Wakeman! Her choices are unpopular, yours are unthinking. She is brave and willing to be a martyr for her cause in the face of such ignorance.

But Foer makes his most impactful gesture as a peacemaker, when he unites the two sides of the animal eating debate in their reasoning. Both sides argue: We are not them.

Ah, 'The Other' argument. I've been transported back to freshman rhetoric.

Those who refrain from eating animals argue: We don't have to go through what they go through -- we are not them. We are capable of making distinctions between what to eat and what not to eat (Americans eat cow but not dog, Hindus eat chicken but not cow, etc.). We are capable of considering others' minds and others' pain. We are not them. Whereas those who justify eating animals say the same thing: We are not them. They do not merit the same value of being as us. They are not us.

If a vegetarian/vegan wants to enlighten you as to the immoral act of eating flesh, you have to be a willing participant, right? You have to be open to such things. You have to be open to someone telling you, as Ms. Portman said in the intro to this piece, that they are allowed to feel as if they know better than you and that he/she is allowed to be critical of your choices.
You know how that person shouldn't start off such a discussion, if allowed? By couching it in religious terms, evoking the body of Christ, saying Native Americans taught us Americans 'succotash and slaughter in the 'creation myth' (another doozy), by juxtaposing rape and meat-eating, by saying meat-eating is on par with misogyny, racism and sexism and should also be seen as a relic of some unenlightened, less-evolved age. Not only is doing such a thing offensive, presumptuous and laughingly silly, it's not how you go about making a point. It's bad thinking and bad writing. She just evoked the entire history of the damn world with nearly every struggle in the history of mankind to make a point about eating.

Always the first sign of a desperately unimaginative mind.

And so Foer shows us, through Eating Animals, that we are all thinking along the same lines: We are not them. But, he urges, how will we define who we are?

Um, not buying factory farm meat?

Being considerate and thoughtful about where you buy your meat. Knowing where your food comes from.

Just a thought.

And for the record, I was a vegetarian for a year or so (got my chip!) for health reasons with a dash of 20-ish moralism.

You know what I didn't do?

Proselytize with a presumptive and unthinking zealotry usually reserved for the Tea Bagging crowd.

Because, you know, that makes you a fucking asshole.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh, Goody.

It's been awhile since we've gone down Douchebag Avenue with ol' Davey.

Heeeeeeeeeere we go again....and a 1 and a 2...


Let me ask you all a question. Does watching the NFL playoffs sometimes make you look back at your athletic past and say, “Well, I could be Peyton Manning if I had only worked harder at it?”(Not once.)

If your answer is yes, I say to you … Really?! Come on now.(What if you were actually really good?)

The fact that you would even compare yourself to anyone else is a sign of emotional immaturity. (I really have nowhere to begin with the stupidity and hypocrisy of this statement coming from a guy who bases his ENTIRE CAREER on comparing himself with other men) The only person you need to compare yourself to is yourself.(Oh. My. God. Fuck off.)

It doesn’t matter what area of your life or yourself you want to be better. (Can someone get this guy an editor, please. Try reading that sentence 3 times and see if it smooths out. I gave up) Ask yourself how you were one year ago compared to how you are now.(I hated you then and I hate you now...Same will be true next year)

Have you grown in the last year? (Back hair? Yes.)What have you learned? (You're an ass.)How have you progressed? (Isn't that the same as grown? See? By the word) What do you still need to learn, and what are you going to do to get there?(Prove your work. What is this? Algebra class?)

I receive emails all the time in which people will write things like, “David, I’m just not as good as my friends with women. I go out with my friend Bill and he’s so great at meeting women. I just wish I were him.”(No he doesn't.)

Let me tell you something. With that attitude, you’ll never get good at it.(Get good?)

What you should be saying instead in your email to me is this: “God, I went out with my friend Bill the other night and it was so much fun. He’s amazing with women, and I just learned so many things from him and had such a great time! I’m so happy that he has this skill, and I look at him as kind of a role model.”(I am going to strangle him. Seriously.)

Never compare yourself to other people. (Got it)Never look at somebody else and say “I wish I had as much money as my friend Tom,” (You already said this) or “I wish I had as good a marriage as my friend Jimmy.”(Yeah. Wishing for a better marriage is loser talk. Go hit on strange women at Whole Foods!)

Instead, go to your friend Tom and find out how he made all that money. (Born into it)Learn his secrets,(genetics) so you can incorporate them into your own life.(Fuck an heiress) If your friend Jimmy has such a great marriage, then sit down one night with him and his wife and ask them what the secret is to their happy marriage.(Money)

You do this so that you can learn from successful people. (Like David tells his losers at his bullshit seminars) That is for what successful people are there. (For us to learn from? Huh?) Successful people are there so that you can learn from them. (You just said this TWO SENTENCES AGO!)They are not there to make you jealous.

If you are jealous of other people, you are never going to learn from them. Jealousy is an ugly emotion. (So is arrogance and douchebaggery)If you’re happy about other people’s success, on the other hand, then you are able to sit down and ask them about how they achieved their success.(He has now said this or some derivative of it 4 times now)

Everyone loves to share their journey, (they do?) and life is all about paying it forward. (there we go! David gets his buzzword bullshit in..BTW, Pay it forward jumped the shark in 2001) If you pay it forward, (He said it again!) then you are passing good lessons on to someone else.(I want him hurt. Badly.)

So, the next time you’re comparing yourself to somebody and you experience those tinges of jealousy, remember this blog. (And vomit) Instead of comparing yourself to them, ask them what they did to make themselves such an expert in the field of women, marriage, money or whatever it might be.(5 times! David is going for the record that he himself has set!)

That is what it’s all about. That’s what I’m here to do for you. (Make me throw up in my mouth?)

How did I get so good? (How do I act so well?! Ian McKellan in "Extras" anyone? ....Oh...I literally just sighed verbally. I seriously just pick a blog randomly and go for it. As i write little snipes, it's the first I've read them) Well I give you everything that I’ve ever done, and show you how I learned and overcame all of my own struggles, on my Community site and in my videos. I share everything that has worked for me.(Thanks. The SNC wouldn't be the same without you)

I just want to continue to enlighten you and help you grow as people. It makes me happy to share my knowledge with all of you.(And satisfies your massive ego!)

So take jealousy out of the equation, and put admiration into it. (After I just told you to basically be jealous of me) You’ll find life will become a lot easier and a lot more fulfilling.(Aaaaand...fuck you, you fucking asshat cockbag.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Get Ready for the Prescription Drugs!!

Audiences experience 'Avatar' blues

(CNN) -- James Cameron's completely immersive spectacle "Avatar" (so much for impartiality) may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora. (where's her box?)

On the fan forum site "Avatar Forums," ("....I know you won't believe this, but, the Na'vi chick next door has been looking at me with lust...") a topic thread entitled "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible," has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. (Good......God) The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian (Bagged a Sarian?) had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

"I wasn't depressed myself. In fact the movie made me happy ," Baghdassarian said. "But I can understand why it made people depressed. The movie was so beautiful and it showed something we don't have here on Earth. (what, jungle?!?) I think people saw we could be living in a completely different world and that caused them to be depressed." (I felt the same way after Thunderdome, only, it was because of Tina Turner's outfit)

A post by a user called Elequin (the name of the prescription drug that will be invented for this 'disease) expresses an almost obsessive relationship with the film.

"That's all I have been doing as of late, searching the Internet for more info about 'Avatar.' (and "Ten Ways to please your Man"....) I guess that helps. It's so hard I can't force myself to think that it's just a movie, and to get over it, that living like the Na'vi will never happen. I think I need a rebound movie (try porn) ," Elequin posted.

A user named Mike (hey! I know him!) wrote on the fan Web site "Naviblue" that he contemplated suicide after seeing the movie.

"Ever since I went to see Avatar I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na'vi made me want to be one of them. I can't stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it," Mike posted. "I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in 'Avatar.' " (um........just go back and read that a second time and add heavy sarcasm. Read the whole thing that way. It makes it bearable)

Cameron's movie, which has pulled in more than $1.4 billion in worldwide box office sales and could be on track to be the highest grossing film of all time, is set in the future when the Earth's resources have been pillaged by the human race. A greedy corporation is trying to mine the rare mineral unobtainium from the planet Pandora, which is inhabited by a peace-loving race of 7-foot tall, blue-skinned natives called the Na'vi. (unobtainium? Pandora? Na'vi? Wow, I didn't know the movie was THAT subtle....)

In their race to mine for Pandora's resources, the humans clash with the Na'vi, leading to casualties on both sides. The world of Pandora is reminiscent of a prehistoric fantasyland, filled with dinosaur-like creatures mixed with the kinds of fauna you may find in the deep reaches of the ocean. Compared with life on Earth, Pandora is a beautiful, glowing utopia. (except for the dinosaurs)

Ivar Hill posts to the Avatar forum page under the name Eltu. (if you give us his real name, then, why the fuck do we need to know his pseudonym for this story??) He wrote about his post-Avatar depression after he first saw the film earlier this month.

"When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed ... gray. It was like my whole life, everything I've done and worked for, lost its meaning," Hill wrote on the forum. "It just seems so ... meaningless. I still don't really see any reason to keep ... doing things at all. I live in a dying world." (Fuck you)

Reached via e-mail in Sweden where he is studying game design, Hill, 17, (17?!? Game design?!? Why is he being interviewed again? What makes him different than any other 17-year-old gamer with low self-esteem?) explained that his feelings of despair made him desperately want to escape reality.

"One can say my depression was twofold: I was depressed because I really wanted to live in Pandora, which seemed like such a perfect place, but I was also depressed and disgusted with the sight of our world, what we have done to Earth. I so much wanted to escape reality," Hill said. (It's called "marijuana". Try it)

Cameron's special effects masterpiece is very lifelike and the 3-D performance capture and CGI effects essentially allow the viewer to enter the alien world of Pandora for the movie's 2½-hour run-time, which only lends to the separation anxiety (THERE it is! We have a name for it! Time to start the treatments) some individuals experience when they depart the movie theater.

"Virtual life is not real life and it never will be, (whoa! baaack up! What?!) but this is the pinnacle of what we can build in a virtual presentation so far," said Dr. Stephan Quentzel, psychiatrist and Medical Director for the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. (This is the longest job title in American history, Jesus.) "It has taken the best of our technology to create this virtual world and real life will never be as utopian as it seems onscreen. It makes real life seem more imperfect." (Thank God, a doctor was available to dish that bit of info...Thanks, Doc!)

The bright side is that for Hill and others like him who became dissatisfied with their own lives and with our imperfect world after enjoying the fictional creation of James Cameron, becoming a part of a community of like-minded people (suicidal nerds) on an online forum has helped them emerge from the darkness.

"After discussing on the forums for a while now, my depression is beginning to fade away. Having taken a part in many discussions concerning all this has really, really helped me," Hill said. "Before, I had lost the reason to keep on living -- but now it feels like these feelings are gradually being replaced with others." (....anybody wanna switch seats?)

Quentzel said creating relationships with others is one of the keys to human happiness and that even if those connections are occurring online they are better than nothing. (wise doctor, indeed. It's like a correspondence course for human interaction!)

Within the fan community, suggestions for battling feelings of depression after seeing the movie include things like playing "Avatar" video games or downloading the movie soundtrack (gee, I wonder if any of the marketing reps wrote under a fake name and suggested they buy more shit? I think the best treatment for these depressed folks is to run out and buy more Avatar merchandise!) in addition to encouraging members to relate to other people outside the virtual realm and to seek out positive and constructive activities.. (that would require actual physical connections with other humans. Not gunna happen.)