63 notes &

SIGNAL BOOST >> Stop seismic airgun testing for oil and gas off the U.S. East Coast.

Here’s the deal, guys. Seismic air gun testing is this totally bullshit method of searching for oil reserves in the ocean floor or something. It’s not important, look it up on Wikipedia.

What IS important is that air guns are so bone-crushingly, pants-poopingly loud that in an underwater environment, they’re all you can hear. Bad news for whales and dolphins, who primarily communicate through sound. And the buck, unfortunately, does not stop there: the sound is so loud that it actually destroys the sensitive ear bones in most whales.

The Northern Atlantic Right Whale is on the recovery: there are over 400 individuals now, up from 200 or so in the 1990s. But air gun testing might mean a bad turn for the population. Environmental assessments conducted by the companies interested in air gun testing have estimated that almost 200,000 whales and dolphins, beautiful, happy, and intelligent creatures, could be injured by the air guns.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SIGNAL BOOST THIS. It needs over 80,000 signatures by May 15th. Tumblr, we can do this!

Filed under whales environmentalism nature 52Hertz loneliest whale right whales oil SJ SJW petition

1 note &

Screw Binary; or, 52Hertz Shades of the Virtue of Grey

Ever here about gender binary? The fact you’re on  Tumblr probably indicates yes, but let’s review.

My crappy understanding of it (don’t flame me) is that basically, while gender is a spectrum ranging from archetypal male to archetypal female with any number of possible permutations in between (or even, theoretically, genders that don’t resemble traditional male and female concepts at all), society tries to pretend there are only the two genders most of us are familiar with and leave it at that. This leads to the assumption that the gender binary is normal and that anyone who doesn’t identify as male or female is abnormal. It’s a totally bullshit claim and science proves it every day. Thinking in rigid, B&W categories is no good for us, our minds, or our quality of life!

So ANYWAY, we hear a lot about the gender binary on Tumblr, but did you ever stop to think about how most things are binary in our society? I mean, we have to be male or female, but we also seem to have to be atheist or religious. On Tumblr, we’re POCs or white people. We’re radfems or we’re MRAs.

Why do I have to fit in a category?!

The Sufi poet Hafiz wrote this astonishing poem, “I Have Learned So Much,” and it’s just so good, I think it cuts to the very heart of everything that religion is about. I have to share it with you. Even if you’ve read it before, read it again. To quote St. Augustine of Hippo (who was talking about John 8:58, but that’s neither here nor there), “Weigh the words. Get a sense of the mystery.”

Ready? Okay, here we go:

I
Have
Learned
So much from God
That I can no longer
Call
Myself

A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim
A Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of itself
With me

That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel
Or even pure
Soul.

Love has
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed
Me

Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known.

What we have here is a perfect retelling of one of the biggest truths that can ever be told: what looks like two things, or even a multitude of things, is really just one thing: the only thing: God, for lack of a better word. Hafiz even demolishes the gender binary here: he can no longer call himself man and woman, because he’s got too much love to not empathize completely with either.

To Tumblr teens that’s gonna seem bizonkers. I thought that religious people were the ones enforcing gender binary? You know, “marriage is between a man and a woman”? But in truth, a lot of that is add-on from very ordinary men in the centuries after the original texts were written. Consider Christianity. The Bible is chock-full of quotes undermining binarist thinking. When Jesus said in Luke 17:21, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” it’s quite possible he’s pointing you in the direction of stopping your search for Heaven outside of you. This corresponds pretty closely to a quote attributed to the Buddha, “Look inside: you’re the Buddha.” Elsewhere, in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is spread out on the earth, but men do not see it.”

Maybe the whole point of religion is to get rid of that categorical kind of thinking. To see past the bullshit to the core underneath it!

If so, it’s just one more way that religion doesn’t contradict, but rather upholds, the teachings of science. If you have ever read Richard Dawkins’s The Ancestor’s Tale (and I highly, highly recommend that you should! Amazon link here), there’s this great chapter called “The Salamander’s Tale.” The whole chapter lays out how some species of seagulls and salamanders are breeding with each other to make new species, and that evolution actually teaches us that categories (like Linnaean species) are more fluid and plastic than we’d believed. (We now know this to be true even of much higher organisms, like the loneliest whale, 52Hertz, a one-of-a-kind hybrid blue-fin whale.) The moral of the Salamander’s Tale is very much a non-binarist one…

Dawkins calls our tendency to avoid things that don’t fit into neat categories “the tyranny of the discontinuous mind.”  Science blogger Chet Raymo called the ability to accept things that bend or escape traditional binarist thinking “the virtue of grey.”

Let’s all make like Hafiz, and try to remember the virtue, and forget the tyranny!

EXPLORE FURTHER

The Virtue of Grey.
The Ancestor’s Tale Book Review.

The Salamander’s Tale.

The Poetry of Hafiz.

Filed under gender binary binarist god religion spiritual muslim sufi christian jewish hafiz poetry 52hertz richard dawkins

7 notes &

So I have some thoughts on this image that’s been floating around the Internet:

I understand the visceral reaction to seeing an animal dead… I own a cat and a hedgehog myself and love them to bits. And I think that coyotes are pretty cool shit as a general rule. I’m glad people are warming up to urban coyotes in cities like Chicago. But we must remember that coyotes also kill people and that their population is remarkably elastic and stable.

It is hard to conceive of when you live in a community where trapping and hunting have been sidelined or are no longer a way of life, that in some communities, trapping, fishing, and hunting still constitute the primary way of life for most people. I live in a Cree community called Chisasibi, QC, in Northern Canada, and the majority of people own guns and participate in sustainable, managed hunts for caribou, seal, beaver, wolf, ptarmigan, goose, bear, martin, otter, sturgeon, and porcupine. There are defined hunting areas and even rigourously defined and monitored “traplines,” overseen since the days of the Hudson’s Bay Company by “tallymen,” who determine quotas for the seasons based on careful observation of current stocks.

In the community, many people rely on traditional food like goose for their meal. Many others, though, rely on trapping and hunting for their income. They belong to a professional organization akin to a union. The fur from their catches goes to companies in the garment industry like Canada Goose, as it has for hundreds of years. This is their livelihood and they respect nature and animals. Without them, they won’t have a job.

Every time I see something from Fur Bearer Defenders, they’re slagging on Canada Goose, but in reality, CG has one of the best records for animal cruelty and sustainability out there. There are other reasons to hate on them, I suppose (come on, do you really need a $400 bumfreezer jacket in Montreal?), but they don’t use farms, only buy fur from hunters in Canada’s North, pay those hunters directly, and source everything sustainably. Remarkably, all of this information is available on the company’s own website.

I think that the efforts of FBD and their followers would be better spent directed at Chinese fur farms that skin beloved family pets alive, rather than at Canada, a country with a relatively solid record on sustainable, humane hunting practice, and one of their most recognizable national brands.

0 notes &

So I just got back from Montreal and that’s always a good time, not so much because of the strip clubs and the poutine (the former creeps me out and a little of the latter goes a long away after a week of eating junk), but because it’s just such a beautiful, world-class city.

It’s so bizarre to make the five-hour flight from Montreal, with its concrete and light pollution, to Chisasibi, with its boreal tree tufts and ubiquitous snow (rapidly turning to mud, FYI).

Looking up at gorgeous, 200-foot prisms of glass, I feel humble: they’re just so beautiful, the buildings. They’re way more special than they ought to be considering they’re just banks and offices and hotels, a lot of them. I feel really amazed that somebody designed and built them. But then I felt the same humility flying over the frozen James Bay, staring out the window down onto the expanse of ice and trees and huge swaths of deep blue river water.

The beauty of nature is sortof the same thing as the beauty that we create when we pave over it… obviously I’m kindof a leave it untouched sortof guy but you can never deny that everything is imbued with beauty.

I remember reading in a Tony Hawk book somewhere that skaters are positive people because where others see bland concrete they see opportunities. I think that’s what I’m talking about.

Filed under montreal archtecture skaters james bay quebec

1 note &

My wife’s in Montreal today, on the same day that I got back from Montreal… after being there for more than a week. I made a playlist of acoustic Incubus rarities, guys. It’s that much of a low point.
So forgive me the spamming you with her gorgeousness… this is one of those days where this blog has to be for me I guess.

My wife’s in Montreal today, on the same day that I got back from Montreal… after being there for more than a week. I made a playlist of acoustic Incubus rarities, guys. It’s that much of a low point.

So forgive me the spamming you with her gorgeousness… this is one of those days where this blog has to be for me I guess.

Filed under my wife beautiful miss you ugh stomach pains