The New Yorker, Highbrow Ignorance

The New Yorker never ceases to amaze me in its split personality. On the one hand, the view of the magazine’s contributors (and the tenor of the thing as a whole) is hard core liberal of the most literate kind, suggesting that its staff and contributing writers are highly educated, reasonable, insightful, and compassionate. There is another side to this group of oracles of the erudite message, however, which is as backwater and uninformed as the hairiest yahoo. I first encountered the underbelly of the glorious beast in a restaurant review of Benoit Restaurant, in which the food critic delightfully described how the chef (aka Dr. Evil in my view) served up whole piglets to celebrate spring. To complement that are articles about barbecue that seem more suited to Redneck’s Home Journal than a magazine claiming itself as a spokesman of sorts for one of the most enlightened cities in the world.

Now we have one of the team, Nathan Heller, who apparently was absent from the discussion of morality during Philosophy 101 back at Old Ivy. Heller takes on the topic, couched as something more and making of it something less, of animal rights as a moral issue. His jaunty little piece, “If Animals Have Rights, Should Robots?” is an exercise in superficial, tired, pseudo questions on morality as it concerns non-humans. For one, he calls humans “omnivores,” an old wives tale of a justification for meat eating, so easily countered by the fact that many species do not eat meat, and we have more in common with those species that do not eat meat than the predators that do. And even if we had the teeth and digestive system of a meat eater (which we don’t) the confinement and killing of farm animals has no similarity to predation at all. He also goes over the old ground of differentiating between humans and non-humans on the basis of cognitive ability, when it is an easily discernible reality that there are many humans who are not “cognitive peers” (e.g. infants and the brain-damaged) who are not excluded from moral treatment. He pontificates: “Until we can pinpoint animals’ claims on us, we won’t be clear about what we owe robots—or what they owe us.”  We, or some of us, have “pinpointed” how we should treat nonhuman animals: we should follow the Golden Rule and abandon the maxim of “might makes right.” However, that does not address robots and what we owe them in the least because robots unlike humans and other species are not animals.

Throwing around hackneyed arguments in support of culturally endorsed cruelty only adds to the message that we don’t need to really think too long or too hard about what we do to animals. Tee hee, an animal, shoot, it’s kinda like a robot. Come on Nathan Heller, why not read more than a few lines for the purpose of your article of the authors whom you cite: Peter Singer, Johnathan Balcombe, Sherry Colb, Michael Dorf and Christine Korsgaard. If you do and you still come out with statements like you made in the article, then your education and intelligence failed to equip you to perform the most important kind of critical thinking—to question the forces of culture and self-interest.

 

 

 

Holiday Season Approaches

Dear Friends and Relatives,

As the time to gather for holidays gets closer and gathering means eating, I want to explain what it means to be vegan to hopefully prevent misunderstandings. First, it is not a diet, per se. The reason to be vegan has nothing to do (for me) with eating healthier foods or losing weight, although those are two consequences of being vegan. Second, it is not a belief, like a religious belief, because as a matter of science humans are but one species of animal, and all animals suffer, just as humans do. I do “believe” that suffering is bad. I think you do too, if you consider it.

You might think that I shouldn’t care whether others eat meat or not, as long as I don’t have to, but a vegan does care, just as people care about dogs suffering that are chained up outside in the heat, or about monkeys stuck in cages for a lifetime for “science,” or as abolitionists in the past cared about slavery. As that last sentence shows, underlying veganism is the idea that we are all animals and the difference between the the human species and all the others does not give humans the right to inflict suffering on others, unless we adhere to the callous and unreasonable moral code of “might makes right.”

One way to get an idea of the effect of meat is to imagine that you had a Chinese guest who brought dog casserole to a pot luck dinner.  You would not like the thought or the sight of a chopped up dog or even better puppy (the equivalent of veal, lamb, or certain pig dishes) on your table. So, if I ask you to please not bring those “pigs in a blanket” or if I decline the invitation to come to your house and “just eat the vegetables,” keep that visual of puppy fricassee in mind.

I just wish that my perspective would at least spark some curiosity so you would look into what goes on to produce that piece of meat on your plate: a loving, sociable creature lived a life of torment and died a terrifying death. Such suffering does not add to any holiday spirit.

Cheers,

 

 

 

Milk upsets many IBS tums … But should you miss it anyway?

nursefromnature

this post is about changing people’s attitudes about living lacto-free. The perception that it’s something your lumbered with, a victim of  inferior digestive powers… That isn’t how I feel about living milk and dair y free here’s why🙂

We see milk and other dairy products as a part of a normal human diet. We accept it as we accept bread, meat and fruit. Without hesitation, because we were raised to do so. Dairy is a part of the food pyramid and has a big chunk of it. We know that some dairy products are not really healthy (like cheese) yet still we find reasons to eat them regularly. Probably we eat cheese more often than we eat an apple. Is that a concern? Is dairy even healthy? Is it helpful or is it harmful?

We are used to see dairy products everywhere, we accepted them as a food source…

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Shelley, Wish You Were Here

percy_bysshe_shelley_by_alfred_clint

Vegetarian or vegan statements in literature are rare, just as they are rare in everyday life (which does not include Facebook where like-minded people seek each other out). Reading literature frequently serves up one dead animal after the other, akin to the quotidian reality of driving down the road and passing the meat truck and turning on the radio to hear that politicians are cramming down dead pigs in Iowa. Case in point is All Quiet on The Western Front, where hardly a page goes by without canned meat, a dead fowl, some occasion to find and kill an animal as if vegetables and grains do not exist. Maybe there is a thematic link between the ubiquity of animal slaughter and the horrors of WWI, as the novel depicts to the veganistically aware reader the notion that one insensate carnage deserves the other.

How thrilling then to meet the anti-speciesist philosophy of Percy Bysshe Shelley inhabiting the lines of his lofty poetry. Over two hundred years before Peter Singer helped us out by clarifying speciesism, Shelley had the concept down pat: he saw all animals (humans included in that category) as kindred and abhorred the cruelty of raising animals for slaughter whether in the name of religion, sport, or food. He gave up meat, as did Mary Shelley, his second wife. Mary Shelley, by the way, created one of the most famous characters in literature, the creature in Frankenstein, who is a vegetarian; existing in a natural and childlike state, he is innately good and therefore does not eat animals. He only turns to vengeful acts after suffering cruelty and isolation.

In Shelley’s philosophical poem “Queen Mab,” a fairy leads a spirit on a tour of humanity — past, present, and future. (I wonder if Dickens got the idea of his various ghosts taking Scrooge on tours from this poem.) The future constitutes his utopia of which one feature is that animals are no longer subjected to the cruelty of Man.

“. . .no longer now
He slays the lamb that looks him in the face,
And horribly devours his mangled flesh,
Which still avenging nature’s broken law,
Kindled all putrid humours in his frame,
All evil passions, and all vain belief,
Hatred, despair, and loathing in his mind,
The germs of misery, death, disease, and crime.”

Also, in “Alastor,” the narrator/poet avows that he has not injured any “bright bird, insect, or gentle beast . . .but still loved and cherished these my kindred.”

Aside from the feeling of serendipity that discovering such lines brings, can any importance attach to the fact that one or two random literary geniuses from the past share in my beliefs? Shelly’s veganism has importance to some degree as inspiration for others, those English majors who take a course in Romantic poetry and pay attention to what Shelley says. For me personally, Shelley’s magnanimity of spirit endears him to me, attracting me even more to his work. However, just as I have to associate with nonvegans in daily life, I still must and will read non vegan writers and will still revere my household gods, Emily Bronte and John Keats, who were not vegan. (By the way, I do believe that Emily Bronte would have been if circumstances had been different.)

Beyond serving as possible inspiration to the select few and a kindred link to my world, his conviction against cruelty to nonhuman animals illustrates what I, as a Stoic, value most among Stoic ideals: self-sufficient thinking and the application of reason. How odd he was at the time, not eating meat (and not believing in god, an avowed atheist). He knew of Pythagoras as a vegetarian forerunner, but his decision to quit meat made him a renegade and activist facing a culture notable for an extremely callous attitude toward nonhuman animals, fueled by a religion that insisted that Man, of all the species, was the only to have the all-important soul. He arrived at his principles through the exercise of his own reason and he had no qualms about living in accordance with his principles.  Although I might value my own independent judgment and don’t need Shelley’s example to endorse what I know is right, I suppose there is nothing wrong in harboring a hero or two and feeling slightly smug that I am in good company.

 

I think therefore I’m vegan

Most people might assume that being a vegan is about food; however, I, as a vegan, think about food very little. One reason is that what is generally considered food, images of which bombard me relentlessly, is not an edible substance but chunks and shreds and pieces of dead animals—a blatant fact that meat eaters like to ignore. As for edible stuff, I am happy about what I consume, but thoughts of it do not consume me. (That approach to food happens also to be part of Stoicism 101.)  Eating is the easy part. There are lots of tasty things to eat without inflicting cruelty and death on any creature, and once one adopts that approach, the culturally programmed desire for a meat product vanishes and leaves in its wake a sense of the repulsiveness of putting a part of a dead animal into one’s mouth.

Rather than dwelling on food, then, I think a great deal about philosophical and social issues: morality, human selfishness, human cruelty, evil, culture, the extent to which culture will inure humans to any atrocity, nonhuman suffering, hypocrisy, intellectual dishonesty, religion, and why some people develop compassion, while others don’t.

For example, one vegan-related thought I have frequently is that humans generally have it really good and should stop complaining about their petty troubles because unless they are among the truly oppressed (enslaved, held captive by a sexual predator in a basement, etc.) any trouble in their lives pales in comparison to the lot of all the sentient creatures we forcibly impregnate, confine, deprive of their young, and drag to a horrifying death. (Putting our own lives in perspective and stopping the whining about whether or not we are satisfied, happy, having a good time etc. is also an idea imported from my adopted philosophical  system of Roman Stoicism). Along those same lines, when I heard that the Boston Marathon bomber was condemned to death, I thought, okay, I am not going to get worked up about that even though I am against the death penalty (yet another manifestation of our love to-kill society) because how many other creatures who are innocent suffer the same fate.

On the level of the day-to-day, I think about how to live with and maintain respect for people , some very near and dear, who so willfully disregard the reality of meat that they seem to revel in their ability to be ignorant. I grapple with disgust at people who have huge incomes and can’t think of anything to do with it other than buy a bigger house or another car when great wealth could fund a campaign of awareness.

I hope that all my thinking will be productive, since as a Stoic I know there is nothing more pointless than pointless thinking. We are the sum of our actions not our thoughts, so I need to figure out more ways to do and justly deserve the epigram: “I am vegan therefore I act.”

Science According to Frans de Waal

Frans de Waal for some reason was featured in a sort of interview piece by Kate Murphy in The New York Times Sunday Review, July 31, 2016. By way of background, Kate Murphy was the author of an editorial in The New York Times a few months ago entitled “Eat What You Kill,” notable for its lack of research and inaccuracies. De Waal is a “scientist” who wrote Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are, finding yet another way to exploit animals.  He writes about them for his own professional and financial aggrandizement — the purposes of his research begin and end there.  He exalts that animals are intelligent, have amazingly rich emotional lives, use tools, and have empathy; they are more like humans than we ever thought. Yes! And . . . and . . . . (drumroll). . .the conclusion is …let’s confine them and eat them!

When I asked de Waal how his results square with treating animals like insensate commodities he replied that in nature there is predation; as a scientist he has seen a lot of predation. Does he really think that the confinement, abuse, and slaughter of animals by the meat industry has any similarity at all to a carnivore in nature hunting down and killing the most vulnerable in a herd in order to survive? If he says he does, we are left to wonder if he is mendacious or foolish. If by citing predation he wants to assert that humans are carnivores like the lion, he is wrong and could just as easily find support for our non-carnivorous behavior among a plethora of species—many of whom we resemble much more than the carnivores.  Even if humans had two- inch long incisors and carnivore intestines, it is a fact that humans do not need meat; it is a fact that forcibly impregnating an animal, cramming it into a cage, modifying its genetic size and mass to its detriment to make it bigger and fatter, snatching away its young, and driving it into the terror of the slaughter house has absolutely nothing in common with predation in nature.  That meat producing process is not natural, it is not necessary for survival, and it is a manmade, money making machine from start to finish.

Now de Waal, in this odd piece by Kate Murphy, is taking the opportunity to undermine the reality that animals suffer by hinting that trees do too.  He says somehow there is “a sentience around us” and is impressed by some book in German that he says takes the position that tress are sentient. For a scientist he should be embarrassed to utter such ludicrous things. Did he ever learn there are three categories: animal, vegetable, and mineral?  Will he next find that rocks and boulders have an eerie sentience about them too? Plants do not have brains; plants do not feel pain. He smirks in an aside that “vegans don’t want to hear” his plant-sentience statement. Indeed he is correct there–who wants to hear a scientist stooping to say something so baseless with a hidden agenda. True, vegans do not like to hear someone who purports to have scientific training sound either ignorant, gullible, or intellectually dishonest.

For some reason, de Waal is so threatened by the prospect of facing the truth about what we do to animals in raising them for food that he is willing to associate himself with groundless notions with an ulterior motive of undermining the legitimate and scientifically based moral concerns of vegans, further questioning whether he is in any way a scientist and not just a culturally-bound, hypocritical opportunist.

 

Letter to the Slaughterhouse

 

Mr. Jeffrey M. Ettinger

Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer
Hormel Foods

1 Hormel Place
Austin, MN 55912

 

Dear Mr. Ettinger,

My family used to make a sandwich with spam that we all loved; fried Spam with melted cheddar cheese on white bread with mustard.  My parents put lettuce on theirs. I also have memories of fried bologna, which tasted a lot like a hot dog. Those were the late 1960s, and I daresay the world has changed a lot, but in some ways it is still the same; as the French say, “The more things change the more they stay the same.” Although the “Spam Whammie,” as we called it, might not be on the menu for me anymore, you are still making Spam. However, even if that product had vanished, the bigger picture would not have changed at all. It is that continuity that I want to address with all honest curiosity and sincerity. I would appreciate your responding, although you will find it much easier and free of consequence to simply ignore me and any modest dictates of common politeness.

Hormel products are made of animals. I want to understand how you find the endless killing of animals acceptable.  When I was unwittingly chewing on my baloney sandwiches, the object in my hand did not bring to mind the living, breathing animal. However, your business runs on slaughter; when you inspect the “plant” that must mean seeing how the killing is going along; it is undeniably a factory designed to end lives and dismember animals.  That is the stuff of Grimm’s fairy tales, which capture our worst nightmare — being fattened up to be killed and eaten or caught by the ogre at the top of the bean stalk who wants to dash our heads in and “grind our bones” to make his bread.

I would like to understand why the killing does not bother you? I heard a recording the other day of pigs being slaughtered.  I avoid images of farm animal confinement and death because I find them too disturbing. I have enough imagination to have no need of pictures.  The recording was kind of a surprise, played at a gathering of people. We heard the desperate and terror-filled screams of animals and clanging and banging. I was dumbstruck and noticed that the woman next to me was sobbing, that several people were crying. I too felt like weeping at the knowledge that what was taking place was the most wrenching suffering of innocent animals, pushed into a frightening hell with no recourse but to scream in confusion and horror. Why doesn’t that reality bother you?

Am I wrong about the depiction?  Is it not so bad?  Would you want to have the local 4th graders to come for a field trip to the “plant,” like we used to visit the electric plant or the bakery? Would they not cry and have nightmares? Do you bring your own children to the “plant?”

You have a lucrative position in an enterprise that has a life of its own, and until people quit buying your products you will keep selling them, so I am not so quixotic as to think that I am addressing the monolith.  Rather, I just want to know on a personal level how people who might have kind hearts toward other humans and their dogs and cats have no compunction about being an active part of a machine designed to inflict suffering and death on other creatures equally as capable of suffering as we and our companion animals are.

You are highly educated: a law school graduate, as am I (from the University of Texas Law School class of 1983), you from UCLA, where my son is currently a sophomore. With intelligence and education go the ability maybe even the moral responsibility to think beyond the confines of cultural norms and above all to trust your instincts and intellect when you cringe at the sight and sound of the slaughter house.

Sincerely,

The Tears of Things

Where to begin? Do I give an objective account of NARD (National Animal Rights Day) or just spill my emotions? I’m afraid that to do the former, I would have to wait a while, if ever dispassion in this case were possible.

As a first time participant of the NARD at Union Square in New York City, which took place today, July 24, 2016, I did not know what to expect, although I have dabbled in activism. I protested a rinky dink circus that rented enslaved African animals for entertainment; I marched with Farm Sanctuary through Central Park; I staged my own protest of Benoit Restaurant in New York City that “celebrates” spring by serving infant piglets cooked up whole; I have campaigned against bow hunting deer in my community; I have written countless unpublished letters to editors, and donated money for farm animals.  I had been looking for the bigger event that would attract attention and was eager for NARD.

What sets this event apart is that is consecrates a time to grieve for the dead and the soon to die and those suffering. I have never had the chance to grieve for the tragedy of animal cruelty with others before, and for that chance I am grateful. Around eighty people assembled, lined up in rows,  in the plaza of Union Square North shortly after noon. As with all funerals, music called out the truth and emotion. Over the sound system first came the mournful choir of wailing female voices to accompany handing out the dead animals. About fifty dead animals were distributed to participants.  Those in the back, who exceeded the number of animals, held posters. After the somber wailing came the tolling of a bell, and then the hell sound of the slaughter house with the mayhem and terror and the screams of the pigs and the banging of machines — sounds saturated with suffering and fear. If I had one wish, it would be for anyone who picks up a sandwich with slices of a dead animal or so called bacon to hear those sounds. I was transfixed to my spot and felt like I could stand there endlessly if it would ever help stop something so horrible. The woman standing next to me was sobbing. Many cried. I wanted to cry, so I did and I thought, I am a Stoic and believe in Stoic virtues, but if anything in this world is worth the tears, this is it. After the sounds of violence, terror, and dying, the song “In the arms of an Angel” made me, an atheist, wish as never before that there was some unearthly recompense for all the suffering. Following that song were the strains of “I’m in Here” giving a voice to the victims, and last John Lennon’s “Imagine,” that paean to all that is quixotic. Through it all, I cried for the pigs screaming at slaughter; I cried for a world that is so callous as to pretend that such suffering does not exist. Where is the end to such tears?

Here, dear imaginary reader of this, lies the problem. For every tear we shed and every message we send at our gatherings and protests in person and on the internet, the machine grinds out ten thousand messages to confine and kill.  We are not even David fighting Goliath; we haven’t even figured out how to make the slingshot. Until we have the celebrity power, organization, and money to meet the meat and dairy behemoth on its own level—in the press, in advertisements, in government, and in popular culture – evil will win. Ecce sunt lacrimae rerum.

Discovering Cosmic Consciousness

Most nights I resort to my Transcendental Meditation mantra to help me sleep – not that meditating is supposed to be a sleep aid.  The purpose of TM, as I recall from the instruction and group meditating sessions of years ago in high school, is to bring tranquility and to further one along toward cosmic consciousness. Nonethless, I am making good use of  my mantra. Each night, I plump up my two dense tempurpedics and lie on my left side for starters. I hear my mantra in my mind; then I ease onto my back. As I exercise my mantra, I am continually amazed at how quickly and constantly it slips away and I have to start it up again. Finally I fall asleep because, even with the digressions from the mantra, by forcing myself to keep it going in my head, I do avoid thinking  about the sleep-depriving topic that plagues me.

Usually, when intrusive thoughts over which I have no control crop up, I can reason with myself to dispense with them. I tell myself like a Stoic coach that things could always be worse, that I cannot know what other bad thing might have occurred, that an outlook of acceptance and emotional detachment actually feels good, that I can give myself permission to not engage with such a topic or to forgive myself, that everything is pretty trivial, and that the brevity of life puts things in perspective, etc.  However, that rationalization approach falls short of mitigating my monolithic concern that creeps in with the night; I cannot reason away the thought of the constant and extreme suffering of farm animals. Why does this disturb me? The simple fact (understood by anyone who rejects “speciesism” or is otherwise an ethical vegan) is that we are all animals (there are three categories: animal, vegetable, and mineral). Humans are a species of animal. There are differences among species, but all species of animal have interests, innate behaviors, emotions, a love for life, and the ability to suffer.  If anyone doubts this, he should consider the family dog who gets upset when left alone, has joys and sorrows, feels pain and loss, and suffers when hurt; such a rich emotional life and ability to suffer applies to other animals as well. So, getting into bed is clicking on the video, and I must imagine all of the innocent peaceful animals subjected to cruelty on a daily basis and killed in a storm of terror.

The thought of all this suffering has another layer that adds to its centrality in my life: the nagging question about why other people, assuming they are aware, don’t find such a heinous reality too horrible to condone and participate in.  If nighttime is reserved for images of suffering baby pigs and other horrors, day time prompts that human aspect of the question, as I must face at every turn the results of human action: dead animal parts (aka food), the finished product of the assembly line of cruelty, ground out relentlessly by the money-meat machine. I feel a divide between me and all the dog-loving, animal eaters.  However alienating that divide might be or disturbing the images of suffering, I embrace the truth with devotion. It is a boon to know that, as Leonardo Da Vinci said, my body will not be a tomb for other creatures.

The gurus of TM might or might not have been right about meditating as a way to achieve cosmic consciousness. Regardless, they had some good ideas about repetitive words and enlightenment. I use my mantra for sleep, and I revel in achieving the certain first step to cosmic consciousness – the knowledge that we should be kind to all sentient creatures.

A Day in the Life

7:00 a.m. With my morning cup of coffee pick up The New York Times to see on the front page of the style section a festival in Umbria in which the big event is whole roasted pigs (“The Pinnacle of Pork” headline) complete with photo of the carcass of a charred pig.  Spend unbudgeted time writing to the editor to protest this as representing “the pinnacle” of nothing except barbaric insensitivity.

9:00 a.m. Go to the grocery store; avert my eyes from the slabs, chunks, and ground up parts of farm animals. Faced with buying “real” milk for a family member, and wonder if I must compromise by supporting a product resulting from forced pregnancy and premature mother-calf separation.

11:00 a.m. Walk with my dog, Mia. In the parking lot by the ball field where she likes to sniff sits a monster truck with the license plate “BOWHUNTR” and a rear windshield and bumper on which are plastered an assortment of white decals of deer heads and modern bow machines.  Hanging from the rearview mirror is an upside down stag. Reflect with awe at his need to define himself by this activity and with disgust at what must be his notion of himself: mighty predator in nature, he of the mega truck and high tech bow.

12:00 p.m. Get email regarding upcoming visit of in-laws and recollect previous gathering notable for offers to bring “pigs in a blanket” to my house “for us carnivores” ha ha.

1:00 p.m. Meet friend for lunch at beach club that offers not one vegan dish expect for a salad. Suggestions / complaints have not been appreciated apparently even though I pay a small fortune for the very exclusive right to show up and face the menu (would like to unjoin, but not my call). Friend cannot equate the food on her plate with what went on to produce it. Suggest that she give it a try.

3:00  p.m. Breaking news about latest gun violence: turn on the television to get update. Five minutes of commercials touting meals formed with every species of soit disant edible animal. Please stuff your already oversized gut with surf and turf, sizzling steak, bacon on a burger, chicken and more chicken—truly endless.

4:30 p.m.  Errand time: Get into car and turn on radio show, Fresh Air, in time to hear Terry Gross ask Jonathan Balcombe  about the most humane way to kill an animal for food, given that “not everyone can be a vegan.”  Hallelujah moment of the day: Balcombe corrects her, very diplomatically, by pointing out that there are so many wonderful plant based foods, no one has to eat meat, and he goes on to clarify that there is no humane slaughter only some ways that might be less cruel than others.

5:00 p.m. Write Johnathan Balcombe an email thanking him. Can’t avoid remembering that dear Frans De Waal, another scientist who studied animals and wrote a book to prove how intelligent and social they are and how much amazingly “like us” they are and to expound on how terribly attached he has become to animals only to remain a staunch eater of them, reconciling those two antipodal attitudes on the basis that there are some animals in nature who are predators; great logic, there Frans. What good does having an intellect do a person if he can satisfy himself with such conclusions? Fight urge to drink heavily.

10:00 p.m. Seek refuge in bed. Reading to get sleepy, pick up the latest New Yorker: restaurant review with picture of veal chops. A reminder of what I know all too well: this magazine, which has liberal tendencies when it comes to the LBGT community, civil rights, gun violence, health care and many other human-impacting issues has shown itself in article after article to lack even the tiniest shred of compassion for animals. It adores articles about restaurants that serve whole baby pigs and where you can find the best barbequed animals. Yeah, that article “The True Cue” was really an important piece of journalism. Pick up a book in which hopefully no one will be eating.

11:00 p.m. Nighttime television, episode recorded from previous night: unfunny joke about almond milk being “unnatural.”

11:15 p.m. Try to sleep, wondering in the dark at the inexplicable capacity for selfish blind cruelty and tossing around the recurring thought that there should be a study on why some people have no qualms about animal suffering and others do. Why, why is that? Realize the point is academic and a nonstarter, with the familiar sense of hopelessness; try my old TM mantra to distract my mind and get away from reality until sleep closes in.