Ahimsa for All the Cecil-the-Lions of the World

This post originally appeared on Consciousness is Everything.

The Cecil the Lion issue happening in the news has had a predictably polarizing effect. Here’s what this swami thinks. Below I quote a Facebook friend who prompted me to address the issue:

I don’t understand the desire to kill an animal for sport. It’s not an accomplishment; you’ve got a gun.

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My response:

I understand it. I disapprove, but I understand. As a kid with a bb gun, a logical leap (even if based on poor logic) of testing my skills was shooting birds. The first time I ever shot a bird, it was a robin. When I had hit it, I ran up to it and picked it up. Seeing and feeling this other creature die in my hands because of me, my stomach sank and I knew everything about it was wrong. But I also had this conflicting sense of urgency to hone hunting and survival skills; for what reason I don’t know.… Read the rest

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Army Has Plans For Real, Live Killer Robot Swarms

Leading scientists including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Steve Wozniak penned an open letter last week demanding a ban on autonomous weapons (i.e. killer robots). If the smartest minds of our time are demanding this, shouldn’t we think about it? On top of that, new information has come forward that the military is planning to have killer robots that act in swarms by 2050. They would be devoid of human oversight and act as judge, jury, and execution. This video by Redacted Tonight puts a little comedy into the subject – but that doesn’t mean this is a joke! 

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From kitsch to Park Avenue: the cultural history of the plastic pink flamingo

Ryan Hyde (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Don Featherstone, the creator of the iconic lawn ornament, died in June. Ryan Hyde (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In 1957, a 21-year-old art school graduate named Don Featherstone created his second major design for the Massachusetts-based lawn and garden decoration manufacturer Union Products: a three-dimensional plastic pink flamingo propped up by two thin, metal legs that could be plunged into soft dirt.

Featherstone’s duck and flamingo ornaments sold in pairs for US$2.76, and were advertised as “Plastics for the Lawn.” They became simultaneously popular and derided in the late 1950s and remain a recognizable species of American material culture.

Featherstone died this past June, but over five decades after he submitted his design, the plastic pink flamingo continues to grace American lawns and homes. While many are quick to label the plastic ornament as the epitome of kitsch, the flamingo has actually taken a rather tumultuous flight through an ever-changing landscape of taste and class.… Read the rest

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The Future Will Be Full of Lab Grown Meat

Here’s another one of those lab-grown meat boosting articles, this time from Gizmodo. I think I’ll stick to tofu.

In 2013, the world’s first lab-grown burger was unveiled to the world. It carried a $330,000 price tag, and apparently, it wasn’t all that tasty. But the scientists behind the idea have been hard at work, and artificial meat that’s both cost-effective and palatable may arrive sooner than we think.

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It’s not just cow-free beef burgers on the future menu — several groups around the world are attempting to clone chicken breasts and fish fillets, as well. Why do scientists want to grow meat in vats instead of on animals, and how close are we to actually accomplishing it?

The Big Resource Hog

The arguments for growing so-called ‘cultured’ meat are as wide-ranging as the reasons people decide to become vegetarian or vegan. If you’re not vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably received a mouthful on this subject from a friend or family member before, so I’m going to keep it brief and focus on the argument cultured meat proponents seem to embrace the most: Sustainability.

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Walter Palmer’s Options: Freedom, Prison in Zimbabwe, or Suicide?

walter palmer

Patrick Quinlan, author of Sexbot, runs down our favorite dentist’s options. Originally published in  Thee Optimist.

You don’t need me to tell you about Walter Palmer, do you?

In case you’ve been living at the bottom of a deep well, he’s the American dentist that paid over $50,000 to hunt and kill a beautiful, regal male lion named Cecil, who lived under protection in a Zimbabwean national park.

For our American audience, Zimbabwe is a country in Africa. Africa is a continent, kind of like Europe or Asia. There is no country simply called “Africa.”

And as an aside, the country known as “Mexico” is located in North America. Yes.

Geography is damn confusing. I know it.

So the hunt for Cecil the Lion took place at night, with a spotlight. Walter Palmer and his Zimbabwean guide tied a dead animal to their jeep. The smell of fresh meat lured Cecil off protected lands, at which point Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow.… Read the rest

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Capitalism-Loving Disease: Xinjiang’s hidden HIV epidemic

Raising community awareness of HIV/AIDS in China, 2006. Photo: AusAID via Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Raising community awareness of HIV/AIDS in China, 2006. Photo: AusAID via Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Casey Halter via Hopes&Fears:

Last January, one of Western China’s foremost HIV/AIDS advocates was arrested by the People’s Republic of China on charges of “endangering state security.” Human rights activists say no one has heard from—or about—him ever since.

The man who disappeared was Akbar Imin, one of the country’s 11-15 million Muslim Uyghur minorities, a Turkic-speaking ethnic population located on the fringes of secular Chinese society. Born in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China’s far Northwest, Imin had been working since 2009 for the PRC government’s Development Research Center in Beijing, tasked with gearing up drug abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention strategies among Uyghur migrants in the nation’s capital up until he was thrown in jail.

Official reports about Akbar Imin’s detainment didn’t even come out until two full months after his arrest, Greg Fay, project manager at the Washington D.C.-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told Hopes&Fears.

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Behold The Vast Trump-Clinton Conspiracy Theory

Surely too good to be true, but Foreign Policy tries on a Hillary Clinton – Donald Trump conspiracy theory for size:

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican, made a bold claim on Miami radio. He told host Roberto Rodríguez Tejera that Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate who’s currently laying waste to the field of primary challengers, could be in cahoots with Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to undermine the GOP race.

Credit: DonkeyHotey (CC)

Credit: DonkeyHotey (CC)

 

“I think there’s a small possibility that this gentleman is a phantom candidate,” Curbelo said on July 10. “Mr. Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. They were at his last wedding. He has contributed to the Clintons’ foundation. He has contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns. All of this is very suspicious.”

As it turns out, at least some of this is true. According to an article published Tuesday by PolitiFact Florida reporters at the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald, Hillary Clinton did attend Trump’s 2005 nuptials to Melania Knauss, who now uses the last name Trump. 

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Raping the Gods: The Most Deranged Book of the Year?

raping whitneyBrian Whitney writes a lot of articles for Disinfo.com. He also is crazy, although not quite as insane as frequent disinfo contributor Thad McKraken.

Just in the last year Whitney has written, or had a hand in, books about sex robotsserial killersporn stars, and American terrorists.

He also has written the bombastic, highly offensive, and ridiculous Raping the Gods.

You might feel like you’ve probably been added to some kind of sexual predator watchlist after reading this book. But honestly, at this point, what’s one more?

Whitney’s Raping the Gods reads like the drunken ramblings of a borderline homeless drifter who sits next to you at a bar on a Tuesday afternoon. He sits right freaking next to you even though every other seat at the bar is empty. And after bumming one of your last three cigarettes, he starts in on this impossible and unbelievably offensive tale of moral and sexual deviance that you want to hate and run away from screaming like your hair is full of bees, but, like the narrator, you can’t — or at least I couldn’t. … Read the rest

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