October 10, 2007

Comments and Trolls

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:19 pm by nevavegan

I have changed the commenting policy on this blog to moderated. I apologize if it causes any of you who normally read and comment here difficulty.

For the past two days I got a flurry of anonymous comments coming from a single ISP.

This commenter did point out that I got some of my numbers wrong when talking about the UN report regarding the impact of animal agriculture. I did double check that and in fact as I had rushed off my blog entry I had misremembered some of the details.

For what it’s worth, I still think the basic idea of my blog entry is accurate, though I regret the flummoxed details. The idea is that being vegan is good for the environment and it’s relatively simple to do.

In the past I’ve tried to allow dissenting comments here. In fact I’ve left quite a few in place that I considered exceedingly rude, even calling me “stupid.” But I left those comments because they were few and far between and because my blog doesn’t get a whole lot of traffic so things rarely got out of hand here.

This particular commenter over the past few days seemed to me to cross some lines. First I had asked several times that the person attach any kind of name to the comments, and he (henceforth referred to as he, not because I know, but to be concise) would not do that but kept commenting as anonymous. The tone of the comments was not only rude but seemed incredibly intrusive. This person took an entry of mine where I said I don’t drive a hybrid, even though I’d like to, because I can’t afford one right now, as an opportunity to repeatedly demand to know exactly what vehicle I drive, what gas mileage it gets, how far I drive every day, and what my energy bills for my home are. All this while he refused to leave any name, even a fake one, or give any information about his habits, like did this commenter drive a hybrid, was he vegetarian, does he live in a very energy efficient home, etc.

This is just personal interpretation on my part, but I kind of feel like if someone wants their own privacy, but wants to know details of my life, they can give some information without compromising themselves. This encourages dialogue, like “You might think that hybrids are too expensive, but I just got one, and here’s what I found.” Or even “I’m not vegan, because I don’t think it’s important, my issue is cars.” You know because otherwise it’s just this relentless disembodied voice demanding information from me.

Incidentally, when I say that I feel giving out details of my vehicle or my driving habits might compromise my personal security, I’m actually more concerned about some people reading here who don’t ever comment. Part of our motivation for changing my vehicle recently had to do with a stalking incident where the person in question discovered what car I drove and began to follow me on errands and when coming home from work. It might be because of the history of other problems, but I cannot describe to you the panic I felt when driving in circles and going on odd streets and behind churches trying to lose this person. Our first action was to change my plates. Later we had the opportunity to switch to a different used vehicle, it suited our needs, and was unknown to my stalker. That seemed an excellent solution.

Back to blog comments: the comments got up to around thirty. Again this bothered me because I really felt like “ok, you think I’m a moron and don’t like my blog entry, but if you can’t convey that about two to three comments just give it up.” When I checked my site stats I was shocked to find that this person was checking my blog almost obsessively, anywhere from every twenty minutes to a few times when there was a gap of a couple hours between hits. This person continuously checked my blog throughout the night as well as if he wouldn’t even sleep for the overwhelming desire to leave rude comments. This troubled me because it didn’t seem to be normal behavior. When I ran afoul of Francionites because I criticized the rape analogy a couple people came back two or three times, delivered a few zingers then got bored and left. Someone that obsessed with my blog just seemed not right.

Also, while this person continuously accused me of being too lazy to read the entire 400 page UN report, he seemed not able to read my entry or my comments as he kept insisting that the point of my entry was about laziness and here I was being lazy. The point of the entry was never laziness, and I repeated that in my comments: the point was and continues to be that it’s not hard to be vegan and as such I’m surprised by the hostility to vegansim expressed by some environmentalists.

Though this anonymous commenter did seem to prove a couple of my points, 1) re: hostility, and 2) when I talk about veganism some people keep trying to change the subject to cars.

I changed my comment policy to only allow those with blogger accounts to comment here. I regretted doing that because I know some of my pals who read here don’t want to register with blogger. The person immediately either created (or had ready) an essentially anonymous blogger account, with a three letter (maybe initials, maybe not) title and made all the details of that account private. While I realize anyone can create a blogger account under any fake name and can make up a whole identity on their blogger profile, I had not been aware that someone could create a blogger account and hide all the details. That along with a blogger id that was not a name made me feel this person had just come up with a sneaky way to keep commenting anonymously and as the numbers of comments grew there just seemed no end in sight.

These comments were also quite rude and disrespectful in tone. And yes, I’ve left disrespectful comments before, it was just like, eeek, this person seems to not have a job, only wants to comment on my blog all day, and on top of it is incredibly nasty.

When my husband pointed out that the number of comments and the number of live hits was troubling and making this commenter seem like a stalker he accused my husband of stalking through checking the site stats.

Um, crazy much?

For the record, the site stats are public; you can all view them and then pity me for my very small readership.

At my husband’s urging I deleted all the comments from this person on that one entry and have begun screening comments so hopefully this weirdo will go somewhere else once he finds no platform here. Giving him any voice will only encourage his obsession.

I am sorry if I put inaccurate information in my post and I hope to do more careful research in the future. However, you know, just for the record, the title of this blog is “Neva Vegan” so anyone reading here should expect to find content related to and promoting veganism.

October 9, 2007

As long as we’re all talking about cupcakes

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:45 pm by nevavegan

I don’t trust my words today, but here’s something to hopefully make you smile.

Yes, I know they’re defective and only have one arm apiece–I was in a rush.
Clicky for bigger image

October 5, 2007

Sorry I’ve Been Quiet

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:45 pm by nevavegan

This extra cat fostering, especially since Obi (not a foster) needs extra medicating and care at the moment and Melissa (foster) needs extra care, and then all the special needs cats as well…. Anyway, I’m exhausted and hardly capable of putting together a coherent sentence.

However, I am still amused and so I pass this on to you today, take a moment to consider the plight of the neurotypical.

I wonder if resistance to veganism can be traced to an inordinately high need to conform, which might be tied to an alarming rate of neurotypical spectrum in the general population.

I kid, I kid. Have a nice weekend everyone.

October 4, 2007

Interesting: PBS’s The War

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:24 pm by nevavegan

I don’t know if anyone else is as huge a nerd as I am, but I watched much of the PBS miniseries “The War” about World War II.

I wish I’d caught this part better, but I was in the midst of running around medicating cats and a part came up about a soldier from the Pacific theatre of the war. (correction) His name was Eugene Sledge. But he came home and had trouble fitting back into society and suffered depression and alienation.

They brought up that before the war he had been an avid hunter, but after the war he said something like he could no longer bear to terrorize and kill animals who could not defend themselves against him. He finally recovered from his depression when he decided to go back to school and become a biologist.

I find this interesting because with the men in my own family who hunt I’d always taken this attitude that they couldn’t be reached because of their service in wars. I’d say “Well the government taught him to kill people, so what else is going to happen except that he comes home and kills animals.”

This brief portion of an otherwise really tragic documentary gave a glimmer of hope that maybe some people can see horrors and make something good out of it. That they can be taught to kill and then turn away from it.

Interesting.

October 2, 2007

Insensitivity to Humans

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:24 pm by nevavegan

File under: I’m not making this up

Ever get that sinking feeling like you’ll never get through to people? I talk so much about animal issues that sometimes my readers might not realize I talk about other issues too. Sometimes I think it’s going to be really hard to get people to listen to our message about animals when so many people don’t seem to care about other people.

I declare this blog entry a chance to rant on the stupid and insensitive comments people have made to you regarding human issues. We’ll get it all out and hopefully feel a little better realizing that those “I clawed my way to the top of the food chain” type comments are not limited to animal causes. Nope, folks can be pretty heartless when in comes to their fellow homo sapiens as well. Either that or we’ll all sink into a deep depression from which we’ll never emerge. I’m not sure.

As mentioned in a prior entry, the number one completely insensitive heartless comment I get regarding humans is:

When I tell people that I love to eat Ethiopian food, I cannot tell you how many people have responded “I didn’t think they HAD any food! Ha ha! Ha ha ha!” Yeah, that’s right, they are essentially laughing at other people dying of starvation.

Next grossly insensitive comment. I was talking with someone regarding how some African countries are losing an entire generation of people to AIDS, and how this situation is actually made worse by some multinational mining companies who rob these nations of their natural resources, leaving most of the population in poverty and without access to health care of any kind, and forbid families from living in the mining camps but encourage prostitution in the camps (and often that prostitution involves women and young girls forced into prostitution). And the answer I got was “Well, I’m not sure that we should worry too much about AIDS in Africa. They were overpopulated and this is nature’s way of reducing the overpopulation.” OMG.

Talking with a woman about the huge need for education and job training programs in prisons I remarked that one reason for the high recidivism rates on drug crimes (I consider violent crimes a somewhat different problem) was the lack of other options for those fresh out of prison. She remarked that she felt it would be wasting money to invest in education programs for prisons. I replied that from my time doing volunteer teaching in prison not only did I feel many would teach for free if they could get through the red tape, but that also many of the women I taught had been abused as children, had been in abusive relationships as adults, and then wound up in prison. I felt that we owed it to these people to increase their opportunities in life. The person I was speaking with replied “Lots of people have had rough lives without turning to crime. If we reward people in prison by coddling them with classes and training then that punishes the people who’ve also been abused but aren’t in prison.”

In speaking with a self-described Republican about the health care crisis in this country she told me she didn’t want to pay for other people’s health care, especially if these people were lazy free-loaders. I made the point that one reason for better access to health care, no matter how that is achieved, is that we want to safeguard the health of children, who are deserving no matter what their parents may have done. She replied “If people want their kids to have health care, then they should have gone to college and gotten good jobs.” Hmmm, yes, my favorite hobby is also punishing children because their parents didn’t go to college… Never mind that 1) there are people who went to college who find themselves unemployed for reasons they have no control over, 2) some good jobs, like plumbing, require training, but not college, and 3) none of that has anything to do with the kids who lost the parent lottery and were born into impoverished homes, whether those parents are disabled, unemployed, educated or not, abusive or sweet and loving…

Twice in my life now, at different jobs, I’ve had a male co-worker remark that battered women must enjoy being beaten since they so often stay with their abusers. I would have smacked them and asked how they liked that, except I try to not be violent, and besides I had to gather up all the little exploded pieces of my brain off the floor.

Final one, drum roll please, on an internet art board we got into a heated discussion about some anti-death penalty art. As one woman argued that the Bible encouraged the death penalty, I made the good old “what about the wrongfully convicted?” plea. Her answer was that if someone was wrongfully convicted of a murder, she felt they’d have to be a pretty bad person anyway. She claimed that law abiding, god-fearing people who do the right thing are never even accused of a murder they didn’t commit, so to be wrongfully convicted the person must have been doing something pretty bad. At that point I suffered a stroke from massive insensitivity overload and couldn’t even manage to type “thou shalt not kill.”

I need a warm compress for my head at this point.

Please share with me the stunningly insensitive comments others have made to you.

Wherein I Talk About the Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:21 pm by nevavegan

What a weekend I had. We spent the last month anxiously looking forward to hearing James LaVeck speak at the Poplar Spring open house, only to have a vet emergency Sunday morning. We got there just as he was wrapping up.

But first things first.

A few days ago, our youngest cat Liam bit his older “brother” Obi, leaving a nasty bloody spot on his back. Obi and Liam love each other, but sometimes they play way too rough. As an apology Liam decided to help Obi groom his wounded back, and between the two of them they completely licked the whole area raw and wouldn’t let it heal. Our solution was to cut the sleeve off an old shirt of Sean’s, cut leg holes in it and have Obi wear it as a shirt. It has been working—his back is healing now. It’s so adorable though, I’m going to have to post a picture of Obi in his little shirt.

Saturday we tried to take Buddy, the foster cat to a new home, but it didn’t work out and so he came back home with us.

Then Melissa, the foster kitten, pulled from the feral colony in our neighborhood pulled out the stitches from her spay. She went to the ER vet and got fitted with an e-collar. She kept getting out of her e-collar and picking at the area more until it looked really scary. After spending all morning (and some of the afternoon) at the vet on Sunday, she got to come home. However it took a friend telling me to tie on the e-collar “harness style” to solve our wily kitty problems. She now cannot get the collar off. Why didn’t the vet help us with that part too? Sean thinks I should call them because maybe it just didn’t occur to them.

By the way, Melissa is still looking for a good home, and she’s just a kitten still. Kittens tend to integrate well into homes with other cats. She’s very friendly and very loving. Just sticking that plug in for her!

Then we went to Poplar Spring, loaded down with apples, sweet potatoes, and carrots for the pigs, and cut up strawberries for the chickens. When I was feeding the strawberries to the birds, the turkeys wanted some too of course, and it was so sad because one of the turkeys had been de-beaked, and she wanted strawberries, but she couldn’t seem to pick them up or hold onto them. I had to more or less mush up the strawberries and slip them into her mouth for her. I wonder how anyone can see stuff like this and still eat animals.

The pigs were so sweet and loved getting their treats. Despite being huge, most took the food very gently from my hands. Other pigs were shy and kept their distance, so I had to throw handfuls of food out into the field for them, where they happily gobbled it up.

Although we sadly missed James LaVeck’s talk, we did get to meet him and Jenny Stein and they gave us a copy of The Witness. I used to live in NYC, so I knew Eddie Lama and even went out to do Fauna Vision with him once, yet I’d never seen the movie. We watched it Sunday night. It both inspired and depressed us. I think one sad aspect of it was thinking how much the movement has changed in the last decade or so. It used to seem like we all had very common goals and the outreach we did was on target and hard hitting. Now I just don’t know.

It’s all given me tons of food for thought. The conversation with James LaVeck and Jenny Stein left me wondering again about my role in this effort: What do I have to contribute and how can I best fulfill that obligation?

Then I got the Taste Better Newsletter in my inbox, where Jason Doucette talked about reading The Earth Is Flat, and how he thinks it’s helpful for both veganism and activism. I want to read the book so I’ll add it to the wish list. One important point he brought up was finding outside help when we need it for our activism. I think in the AR movement in the US there’s a strong (and mostly positive) strain of “I’ll do it myself.” But of course there are times when we all need a helping hand.

For me this was a particularly powerful point because my time is limited, so I want to help, but I want to help in ways that are effective, utilize my particular skills, and fill in areas that others might not cover. That sounds like I’m being difficult and picky, but I reached that conclusion after some considerable floundering.

The wrap up to my weekend was a phone call from my Dad who remarked on our efforts to rescue and help animals “You guys never seem to get anywhere, it’s money and effort, but it doesn’t make much difference.” But when I went home and saw all the faces for whom it made all the difference in the world, Sean reminded me that sometimes it is about the individual. Yes, there are still so many cats out there that need help, but we saved these ones. Is this typical of our culture that people somehow just can’t see animals as individuals? Is that one of the primary things we need to fight?

Anyway, I want to talk about The Witness more in depth, but that will be an entry all by itself.

September 28, 2007

Why I didn’t blog against abuse

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:09 pm by nevavegan

I wrote three essays for blog against abuse day yesterday and ultimately found I could post none of them. The first I decided not to post as it was too long and covered too many topics. The second I decided not to post because in an effort to narrow my focus to one type of abuse I felt I was doing a disservice to all other abuses which need to be challenged. The third came closer to what I really wanted to say on this issue but was just way too graphic and would give people nightmares and perhaps give other less kind people ideas, so I decided not to post it.

Ultimately my bottom line on abuse is that each of us needs to examine ourselves and try to do better. For some that might mean letting go of all the rationalizations we hold that let us continue to eat animals, buy sweat shop products, or walk past suffering and do nothing. For others, we might have to do some hard thinking and self examination to realize the ways we might be hurting others. Self examination against abuse means no more excuses, no more promising it won’t happen again, but really taking solid action toward change.

Each of us also has an obligation to take a stand against abuse.

Standing up against abuse is a dangerous business in this culture. I wish I could tell you how to fight and where. We need to keep doing this though, raising awareness, teaching people, and those instances where we physically intervene to stop abuse.

If anyone wants to read that third essay I wrote, just email me and I’ll send it to you. Not that it’s any great insight or answers much of anything.

September 26, 2007

Feeding Ban and Cartoons

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:59 pm by nevavegan

It recently came to my attention that several towns, cities or counties in the DC area have laws against feeding outdoor cats. Because of these laws they prosecute kind-hearted people who just want to help the feral or abandoned cats they find sick or hungry living in alleyways or parks.

The trouble is that feeding bans don’t get rid of cats, but do derail any attempt to help the cats. It is impossible to institute humand Trap, Neuter, Return programs without feeding the cats first to learn their habits, get them used to eating in a certain location, and to have an idea of how many cats will need to be sterilized.

I made a couple of cat related cartoon-type illustrations. I hope they show up here. I believe you can click on the image here to see a larger version.

These other cartoons I created a while back for a group, but as far as I can tell they never used them, so I’m putting them out here too.

September 23, 2007

Anyone in the DC area want to give a cat a second chance?

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:46 pm by nevavegan

We are trying to get the huge feral colony in our neighborhood under control, but it’s become apparent that some of the cats living in the colony are tame abandoned cats.

First we set out to get Buddy, who has an appointment with the vet today. We took these pictures of him while he was still outside to demonstrate how tame and dog-friendly he is.

Today we went to pick Buddy up and he showed up with Melissa who is pretty small and also very tame.

I’m hoping the clinic will just agree to see Melissa tomorrow too, and then hopefully they’ll be ready for new homes soon. You have no idea how crowded we are over here, so they are crammed into a tiny space and all the full time residents here are upset and crowded.

Edit on 9/25/07: Both Buddy and Melissa tested negative for disease, got a rabies vaccination, and underwent their sterilization surgeries yesterday. They are recovering quickly and should be ready for new homes in just a few days.

September 19, 2007

There’s Laziness and Then There’s Laziness

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:42 pm by nevavegan

I think that I might at times describe myself as a fairly lazy person. My home could be cleaner than it is. I don’t cook every single night. I like to sleep in on weekends. I recently went to the herb store to get some more of a tincture I take and when they didn’t have it they suggested to me that I buy the dry herb and tincture it myself. My response was (SIGH) “that sounds like so much work.”

So when I start feeling that way I have to kick myself in the butt and tell myself to wake up and start doing. So yes, my plans for later include tincturing an herb. Wish me luck.

Considering that this is where I often find it difficult to understand complete and utter inertia.

I’ve been following the blog (I won’t link because it’s her personal, every day activity blog, not a philosophical blog) of a young vegetarian who recently made the switch to veganism. After some resistance she managed to convince her husband (they’re newly weds of about one month) to become vegan as well. Obviously she’s written about her reasons for going vegan and the difficulties and joys she’s encountered.

This is where laziness and inertia come in. I’ve been amazed by the number of comments people have left on her blog that don’t seem opposed to veganism, but just seem hugely lethargic. People say things like “I love animals too, but not enough to change my diet” or “I feel bad for the cows, but I love cheese burgers so much” (this is lazy because the person won’t even bother to see if they also like veggie burgers or it there’s an alternative out there) and “that sounds like so much work, I can’t bother to think that hard about what I eat.”

I do hope that all these people, through continued exposure to the idea of veganism will start to wake up a little.

I shouldn’t be that surprised that there are such lazy people in the world. After all, lots of people seem to just throw all their trash into my flower bed because they can’t be bothered to carry it to a trash can.

Of course laziness alone does not stop people from being vegan. I actually had a friend in college who tried to organize all his classes close together so he could minimize walking, and cut across grassy areas every single time, rather than staying on the sidewalk, because those short cuts saved him ten or fifteen steps. Sometimes he couldn’t be bothered to walk to the dining hall to eat dinner, so he just ate crackers or dry cereal he kept in his room. But he was still vegan, because it mattered to him. He cared about animals and the environment enough to go vegan. Of course also the lazy person should probably do their best to be good to the environment because if the whole globe floods due to global warming that’s going to eliminate most opportunities to be lazy.

Still I personally feel like shaking lazy people and yelling “don’t you know how much you’re missing out on!! Get out of bed!!”

Going with the path of least resistance though (which is always the lazy thing to do) I guess we ought to just figure in some degree of laziness into our vegan outreach efforts, by making vegan foods easier to find, explaining veganism in easy terms, and handing out more information so the recipients of leaflets need not go look anything up.

I also thought about what a friend who recently visited Israel told me. He said there are falafel joints and falafel carts everywhere—he said it’s as if every McDonalds and every hot dog cart here was suddenly transformed into hot spots of vegan goodness. If only we could do such a thing. My neighborhood must have 20 fried chicken places and wouldn’t it be wonderful if through some invasion of the body snatchers scheme, suddenly we got up one day and they were all falafel joints. True, people seem to want to buy endless fried chicken. But theses are also the people who throw their chicken bones all over the sidewalk and toss their bags and wrappers onto my flowers. I totally see those people saying “I really wanted fried chicken, but it’s so far away, I guess I’ll just eat this falafel.” Maybe I’m overly optimistic.

In any case I’ve apparently transformed into a cranky old woman overnight. I’m now going to complain about how kids today are lazy (note to world: the lazy have always been among us), and then I’m going to tell you stories about how back in the day I had to walk ten miles to the dingy little health food store to buy a box of “nature burger mix” and then go home and mix up that glop with water and try to fry it to make a veggie burger, and they always fell apart. You kids today don’t know how good you have it. Most grocery stores sell the Boca Vegan Burgers in the frozen food section. You don’t even have to turn on a stove, just pop it in the microwave. (moan, groan, creek…)

But I gotta go, all this talk about laziness has me wanting to run a few laps around the pond on my lunch break. Zoom, zoom.

Edit: I wrote most of this up last night, but how on topic when I saw that Taste Better today reported a study from the UK showing most people would rather die than exercise. Eeek. People did seem more motivated when looking better was the goal. Of course the part people don’t get is that energy and time aren’t actually set amounts. When you exercise you get more energy and more alertness. Physical exercise helps your brain as well. Thus “being too tired to exercise” actually makes you more tired. And when you can perform tasks more quickly, then voila, more time. But wow, yes, there is some laziness out there.

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