Cannibalism talk

Several months back my friend Els asked me to come up with a talk for her “Death Jam”, an evening of death themed talks, chit chat, tea and cake. I did this Cannibalism talk first at New Unity and then for my department where I recorded the video below. I cover a lot of topics including filial cannibalism, sexual cannibalism, cannibalism in Neanderthals and Hominids, gastronomic cannibalism, survival cannibalism, allegations of cannibalism used to malign groups of people (including the blood libel) and eating babies (e.g. “A Modest Proposal“). Please excuse the copious ums and ers!


For People Who Love Animals And Numbers: An Interview With “Counting Animals” Blogger Harish Sethu

Animal Voices

How many animals do you save each year by going vegetarian? Does factory farming make meat cheaper? Who’s more animal-friendly, Democrats or Republicans? Are well-funded animal rights lobbyists drowning out the voice of the poor old meat industry in public debate?


These are just a few of the questions Harish Sethu tackles on his blog, Counting Animals. Using the best data available, and being transparent about every step of his calculations, Sethu works to give animal advocates accurate, defensible numbers they can use in their arguments.

In our chat, Sethu will also cover a bit of the philosophy behind how to put a number on “how much good” our actions produce, and tell us how a rooster named Ghost changed his thinking about animals!

Listen right now:

or download an mp3 of the show.

P.S. At least 406 (in the U.S.), no, Democrats, and not even…

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On retreat

Today I’m going on a Vipassana meditation retreat at Dhamma Dipa. It’s 10 days of silent meditation without reading, writing, internet, phone calls etc. I have less spiritual and more utilitarian reasons for embarking on this course than many people. It will certainly be uncomfortable but I’m interested in exercising my prefrontal cortex and learning techniques of self discipline and avoiding distraction that may help me be more effective. Also, I’m just quite a sensation seeking person generally and even if this doesn’t reboot my life it will be a deeply interesting experience (even if what’s interesting about it is how boring it is). Anyway, I won’t be on the blog, twitter or Facebook until late August. Hopefully when I get back I can make a video about the experience to post here. 

Suicide food and sexual cannibalism

“Good evening,” it lowed and sat back heavily on its Sausage Suicide Foodhaunches, “I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?” -Douglas Adams “The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Nonhuman animals raised for meat have been domesticated for thousands of years. Some characteristics that have been artificially selected for are  earlier maturation,  tolerance for crowding,  reduced exploratory behavior and docility including an almost across the board decrease in brain size (and arguably intelligence, compared to their wild cousins).

As much as we have changed the behavior and responses of animals bred to be eaten we have not been able to breed out of them the desire to carry on living.  What if animals could be bred who had no preferences about existing and who wanted to be eaten?

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