Monday, 30 November 2015

Vegans shaming and terrorising non-vegans

Today, I discovered a handy little button on Facebook that enabled me to stop following someone, and still stay friends with them. Why would I need this? Said friend isn't someone I've spent a lot of time with, but I do like him. He's a bit 'alternative' in many ways, but the thing that made me reach fast for that function when I found it is his constant posting of really gory memes and images that are intended to shock and revolt people who eat meat. (oh, and FYI, don't look for examples in this post, because there won't be any)

I have my own food foibles. I'm Jewish. I follow Jewish dietary laws - to an extent. I don't eat treif - i.e. 'forbidden foods', those specifically mentioned in Torah as foods to not eat - and I don't mix my meat and dairy products. I don't go to the extent of purchasing only kosher meat (partly because it's horrendously expensive), and I don't have two separate sets of everything to keep utensils apart. The latter is mostly because Dragon Dad isn't as observant as I am, because he doesn't find it meaningful so wouldn't keep everything neatly in its place, AND any scallop on a restaurant menu has his name on it...apparently. I'm also allergic to chili - which, let me tell you, can be a complete and utter nuisance, since SOMEONE, in their infinite wisdom, started a trend where 'season to taste' appears to now mean add salt, pepper, and CHILI to the dish, and it's not always mentioned on menus, which can have pretty nasty consequences for me. 

I have NO issue with anyone's food choices. My personal thing - as with many things - is that I will respect the choices of others as long as they'll extend me the same courtesy. And that's where it starts to get murky.

There's a largish populist movement that is spreading dietary solutions for a vast array of medical issues - from the common cold through auto-immune diseases to cancer. There have been a rash of 'health bloggers' exposed in recent times, for extreme diets that have been promoted as 'cures' - which they're not - and social media has been the forum for many a war of words in the comments following posts about these bloggers. I wrote a post for Creaky Joints on this, and got a 50/50 mix of support and pillorying.

My own Facebook feed, courtesy of the algorithms that ensure that I will have 'items of interest' given preference based on my activity over the things I may prefer to see, keeps offering up all sorts of things about alternative diets. And I have a few activist friends whose most frequent means of communicating their passion is to post the goriest, most shocking images they can find.

In the wake of America's Thanksgiving holiday - and feasting - there have been all too many posts about the poor turkeys. Today's 'best', that I can still see in my head, is the bucket of bloodied turkey heads. I can't remember the text that was printed over it. 

The thing is, I eat meat. Not a lot of meat, but I do eat it. And fish. Because I believe that a balanced diet of ALL the food groups is the healthiest option for me. I had a period where I was a complete vegetarian - with eggs and dairy included - but with an overactive metabolism, I lost so much weight it was getting dangerous. The rest of my family weren't prepared to go down that road either, and I don't care what anyone says, it's a pain in the tuchos to have to cook multiple meals for one family for EVERY meal.

They say, the people who post all this blood and gore, that it's activism. If someone can explain to me how it's effective to post constant blood and gore that most sensible people will choose to stop following one way or another, I'd be grateful. MY response is to block it. So they're not getting any message of value across, to my way of thinking.

It is MY choice to eat the meat that's part of my diet, small component though it may be. It is a vegan or vegetarian's choice to NOT eat that meat. I'm not about to call either of them out for that. Why should I have to have that stuff shoved up my nose? 

What is it about social media that seems to give license to people to operate potentially very differently to the way they might in person?

I do try to source ethically produced meat from small producers where possible. Sometimes I can't - for any number of reasons. And that's MY business. I don't expect to be attacked for that, or for choosing to eat meat in the first place. And I don't think anyone else should be either. 

So, the radical vegans out there need, in my opinion, to remember their manners, and treat others as they would wish to be treated - and get all that blood and gore off their pages. I WILL block those posts from my feed, because - and this may shock... - they are tiresome. They DON'T move me to stop eating meat. They annoy me because all I see is the cheap shock tactic behind them. 

And here is a picture of my cats. Because, as far as I know, very few people eat cats, so they can't possibly be contentious - unless someone wants to take umbrage because I'm being facetious. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The great tech addiction

So, overnight, my world nearly stopped. Last night, I was chatting with a friend on my iPhone 6. We wrapped up our chat and I put the phone down. About half an hour later I picked it up again, and it was black. Black screen, completely unresponsive... Of course, I panicked. Because, apart from anything else, it's less than a year old and replaced a very long lived iPhone 4 which, when it died, did exactly the same thing. 
Cartoon by Sean D'Souza
So, it's just a phone, right? Argh... How many of us would truly admit that any more? When the iPhone 4 died, I had to face getting a new one - several models on from that, and didn't have the foggiest idea about setting it up - because although I might swank around with a smart phone, and have a recent model laptop, I under utilise their capabilities, and am pretty clueless about what to do if they have any problems crop up. When I bought this iPhone 6, my cousin set it up for me - synching the old one to my laptop (because it turned out we could still do that) and then loading all the information across to the new phone so that it was, effectively, the same phone. Which, for me, made it the easiest adjustment to a new phone - EVER.

An early trip to our local mall and phone provider shop - because it's insured and at the very worst, I knew they'd replace it - and a techie sales assistant who knew a few iPhone tricks, and it seems my phone is alive and well, and was just having a major freeze for no good reason at all. Life crisis averted. 

However, the experience DID push our dependency on technology right up my nose and it was a confronting experience. Uncomfortably so. 

Interestingly - synchronicity being what it is - Dragon Dad and I were having a conversation about another tech phenomenon late yesterday afternoon. He'd been doing taxi duty for an interstate friend who did a fly in fly out for a job interview. Said friend is an internet guru who comes from a marketing background, and is going for a job at a major uni that has campuses all over the country and has no online presence for the students. So there's a ginormous push on to assemble a team and get a functional student portal up ASAP. 

These student portals are a new thing since I was last studying - it was only ten years ago that I completed an MA... At that time, the University of Adelaide gave us a university email account, so we could communicate easily with whoever we needed to, but really, that was about all, in terms of university based technology. The library would email us about overdue books - which I discovered the hard way when it occurred to me that perhaps I should check said email and found the huge list of emails demanding the return of some books I'd forgotten, and the steadily accumulating length of time I'd not be able to borrow books as a consequence...

These days, those portals offer up student timetables, allow for electronic submissions of assignments, text lists, assignment and exam results and goodness knows what else. It occurred to me, and I said this to Dragon Dad, that when you think about time travel stories where contemporary people are dropped back into previous eras, and have to learn to manage with much more basic technologies and ways of doing things, that if you picked up a current uni student and dropped them back 10-15 years into the uni environment then, they'd not have a clue. 

We had to drop hard copies of assignments in. The results were posted on public boards in the buildings that housed particular subjects. Timetables were given out at the beginning of each semester and we were expected to copy them into our university issued diaries and manage our time ourselves. Messages, pre email, were delivered to our pigeon holes in the building where our course was based. Results came penciled on returned assignments and end of semester results were posted on notice boards in the foyer of the building where that subject was based. Basically, managing our own course and attendant tasks was firmly placed on our shoulders. 

I said all of that to Dragon Dad, feeling that the students today have an awful lot just handed to them and managed for them, and perhaps that's one of the contributing factors for the oversized sense of entitlement many of the current generation are attributed with having. He bit my head off, saying that it was awful to have to look for results on a public board, and what would it be like to see a less than wonderful result up against other people's good marks? Well, I had the answer to that - it sucks. Big time. I failed my Psych One Statistics exam absolutely spectacularly. And there was the shameful mark, up there for the world to see. But, until we had that conversation, it was something I'd long forgotten about... It certainly didn't scar me for life. It's just what happened with marks back then and we took it as it came, and dealt with it. We ran around - physically - delivering assignments with moments to spare before the cut off time. We picked up our basic reading lists at lectures, knowing we were expected to build on that by trawling the library shelves in our own time. 

Dragon Dad is very quick to declare that people are soft. He is entirely capable of delivering a huge rant about the current crop of young cyclists he sees when he's out on his bike, with their trendy coordinated gear and expensive bikes, who think they have to race everyone, but then can't pass him when there's a headwind.... They're soft, he says. They don't train properly, he says, because they're not prepared to deal with the pain. And so on. 

I have to say, throughout our whole conversation about the student portals, I was listening to his arguments thinking that if it were cyclists he was talking about, he'd be declaring them soft, the same as he does the young cyclists who are dependent on their computerised gadgets that monitor all their riding stats for them. 

I have no argument about the undoubted convenience of online student portals, and all the things they do. But it concerns me that it's another technological tool that takes a lot of the personal responsibility out of the equation for everyday nuts and bolts at university. There was another article somewhere I saw recently asking readers their opinion on whether there should be mandatory individual tablets for early primary aged children. All this technology, from the outset, bothers me. There are too many basic skills that are being lost because of an insistence that we take the techie option. It reminds me of this cartoon:
Phones conk out, systems go down, electronic files can be corrupted or lost altogether, emails disappear into cyber space - and then we, who are now SO dependent, can't function. How is that a good thing?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

New post on Creaky Joints - Brain Fog and Memory Dysfunction

I have a new blog post up on Creaky Joints, which, while I've never intended for The Original Dragon Mother to have a focus on rheumatoid arthritis, there's been enough content here in recent months where it has featured that if I've written a post for Creaky Joints that is about something that affects my every day life at a personal level, I'll bring it here. And this one does, as it's about a phenomenon that is common to many people with chronic illnesses, especially when those illnesses create ongoing pain, and it impacts at all levels. For instance, the last 24 hours have seen me manage some epic fails - which is difficult for me to cope with - and I can put them all down to the impact of this particular product of RA. 
It's called brain fog, and while that sounds funny, the reality can be anything but. You can read the full post HERE.