11/24/2010 5:41:46 PM
The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without the slowly simmering tension between people who eat meat and those who don’t. Vegetarians brace themselves for uncomfortable questions about their motivations, while carnivores are certain that they’re being seen as bloodthirsty murderers by the veggies as they gnaw on their turkey drumsticks.
I’m a meat eater, but increasingly I’m a conscientious carnivore, eating meat sparingly and when I can be assured the animal was treated with respect and compassion. That’s why I was powerfully moved by a new video released just before Thanksgiving by the Humane Society of the United States that starkly reinforced an uncomfortable truth: Mass-produced turkeys lead grim lives of discomfort, cruelty, and outright abuse.
The footage, obtained by an undercover employee at the Willmar Poultry Company in Willmar, Minnesota, shows young turkeys, or poults, being mistreated at the megaplant, where they tumble off conveyor belts, are grabbed by the handful, and have their beaks lasered off in a grotesque spinning machine that dangles them by their heads. It’s a bizarre, highly mechanized, and, yes, inhumane place.
Here’s the kicker: The plant is so huge that according to the Humane Society, it supplies 50 percent of the turkeys sold in the nation. That means there’s a very good chance your family’s megafarm turkey came from the very place shown in the video.
When a story about the turkey video was posted by the Minneapolis newspaper the Star Tribune, comments ran into the hundreds. Many broke down along predictable lines, with unrepentant carnivores and self-righteous veggies staking out their polarized ground. The interesting responses came from people who were truly shocked at how turkeys are treated and reconsidering their holiday main-course options.
To me, it all adds up to one thing: squash lasagna. Happy holidays.
Source: Humane Society of the United States
D. Sharon Pruitt
, licensed under
11/18/2010 2:11:26 PM
Every week we share links to stories, articles, and other interesting things we’ve come across online for you to enjoy over the weekend. It’s the utne.com crockpot; we add the ingredients for a great online meal.
Want to get away? Far away? Feel like disappearing for a time, even if only vicariously? Hermitary is a one-stop resource for your inner hermit. One of the most consistently wondrous sites on the internet.
You can also escape by checking out issue three of Porter Fox’s travel mag Nowhere.
Ernie Button takes cool photos of breakfast cereal. His project is called Cerealism, and Cheerios and Lucky Charms have never looked so beautiful.
Over at The Oxford American, Kevin Brockmeier presents his personal selection of Ten Great Novels of the Apocalypse. Is there anything one might conclude from Brockmeier’s list? Yes: the end of the world is not likely to be pleasant.
Europeans were thrilled when we elected Barack Obama. Now they’re just confused.
Jen Jackson considers her well-kept trailer home in Moab, Utah, a “27-foot bit of silver-plated paradise”—but it’s made her an outlaw.
If government spending is a pie, the military is very, very hungry.
, is it possible that the new TSA security procedures are a bigger deal online than they are in real life?
analyzes George W. Bush’s official portrait, concluding that W’s break from tradition suggests that “he wants to present himself is as a faux President.”
As the U.S. ends its combat mission in Iraq, it builds up its construction projects in the region. Nick Turse, writing for Guernica, explains why President Obama’s “end of our combat mission” announcement could be another “mission accomplished” moment.
11/12/2010 12:05:50 PM
Google the word “freedom” right this moment and the first of 209,000,000 entries is the website for some sort of gizmo that allows your computer to essentially kick your ass off the internet.
Am I the only one who finds that profoundly sad? Am I the only one who generally finds the internet a lonely vacuum, a vortex, a votive candle in the men’s room of the noisiest shopping mall on the planet? Am I the only one who feels like I’m wasting way too much time nosing around in nonsense, having what’s left of my brains beaten in by jackhammers, and trying to “make friends” when I should be doing a better job of actually being friends?
I don’t think so. Daniel Akst, writing in The Wilson Quarterly, doesn’t think so either. In a piece entitled “America: Land of Loners?” Akst delves further and more thoughtfully than most other critics into the perils facing a generation that spends such huge chunks of its life in front of screens. “In restricting ourselves to the thin gruel of modern friendships, we miss out on the more nourishing fare that deeper ones have to offer,” Akst observes.
Aristotle, who saw friendship as essential to human flourishing, shrewdly observed that it comes...in three distinct flavors: those based on usefulness (contacts), on pleasure (drinking buddies), and on a shared pursuit of virtue—the highest form of all. True friends, he contended, are simply drawn to the goodness in one another, goodness that today we might define in terms of common passions and sensibilities.
“Land of Loners” is fundamentally a passionate defense of traditional friendships and meaningful relationships, but Akst isn’t just another guy running a jackhammer. He’s asking important questions, and at its core his piece isn’t even a cut-and-dry anti-net screed. He—like lots of other people—is simply trying to understand why so many of us are so lonely, so depressed, so unhealthy, and so disconnected from sources of genuine stability, connection, and vitality.
It’s probably no real surprise or comfort, but it turns out that more than 50 years ago a science fiction writer had a pretty clear and disturbing vision of where humanity was headed; the best sci-fi writers, after all, have always had a particularly keen understanding of the average human’s weakness for all manner of gee-whizery.
“In the late 1950s,” Akst writes:
far-sighted Isaac Asimov imagined a sunny planet called Solaria, on which a scant 20,000 humans dwelt on far-flung estates and visited one another only virtually, by materializing as ‘trimensional images’—avatars, in other words. “They live completely apart,” a helpful robot explained to a visiting earthling, “and never see one another except under the most extraordinary circumstances.”
Should you find any of this as troubling as I do, there’s another gadget out there that’s designed to limit your social networking. You can buy it, of course. It’s called Anti-Social, and, like Freedom, it’s designed to boot you back into the real world.
Source: Wilson Quarterly
Image by Marshall Astor, licensed under Creative Commons.
11/10/2010 5:30:10 PM
MIT chooses Facebook over poetry…and one student is pissed. (Thanks, Harriet.)
If Obama won’t defend big government, Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic will.
Flavorpill takes on The Guardian’s claim that essential books have disappeared from our culture, citing The Road, Infinite Jest, White Teeth, and more.
The mad scientist at The Burger Lab investigates the case of the McDonald’s hamburger that refused to die, and we’ll be damned if that burger doesn’t look as good at twelve as it did the day it was born!
Ever wonder what Elvira, August Kleinzahler, Mos Def, or the dudes from the Black Keys might buy on a trip to the record store? The site’s kind of cheesy, but Amoeba Music’s “What’s in Your Bag?” feature is terrific fun.
Steve McCurry, the legendary travel and war photographer, has a blog, and it’s full of his typically lovely and harrowing images.
Lit nerds represent! An abecedarium of book titles.
Out of Print Clothing: Wear your Favorite Book!
Can you still call it a library if there are no books?
Bet you never heard of Maggot Monets. The Scientist reports that a Southeastern Louisiana University researcher uses art made by maggots to attract students to the field of forensic entomology.
11/10/2010 4:23:22 PM
Even though our society idolizes pop stars, fanboys and fangirls used to demand a couple of things from them. Maybe a new album every year or so, or an over-publicized breakdown to read about in the tabloids. Unobjectionably, we ask them to at least be human. Singularity Hub reports on a rising Japanese diva, Hatsune Miku, who defies even that simple criteria. Hatsune, you see, is a hologram.
Well, technically she’s a computer program. Developed by Crypton Future Media, Hatsune Miku is half vocal-synthesis software and half three-dimensional visual projection. Performing one of her brainwashingly catchy synthpop tunes, Hatsune looks like a hyper-real Sailor Moon, but with a wardrobe that changes more often than Lady Gaga’s. When she’s all booted up, she can sing in key and cut a rug. And even if you think it’s a gimmick, it’s a gimmick that can sell out a concert hall.
Source: Singularity Hub
, licensed under
11/3/2010 3:20:34 PM
Noting that consuming fake news through a website or newspaper is just not enough for some people, The Onion has decided to indulge cynical news junkies by branching out into television. The Onion News Network’s half-hour long Factzone is set to debut in early 2011 on the Independent Film Channel, where it will engage in its customary antics and spoofs in a setting similar to that of Anderson Cooper 360.
Paste picked up on the story and posted part of the show’s press release on their website:
With more attack satellites than any other network and nearly a million surveillance cameras in cities, homes, and high-level government offices across the nation, ONN’s FactZone is the nation’s number-one source for breaking news, screaming political arguments, and vital information on missing teenage Caucasian girls.
William Grahm, an executive producer of The Onion News Network, said during a phone interview with David Itzkoff of TheNew York Times, “It just seems to us CNN, Fox News and MSNBC are already doing such great comedy out there, without a whole lot of competition….We thought it was about time that someone really gave them a run for their money.”
Is The Onion just capitalizing on the success of fellow sovereigns of satire Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? It doesn’t really matter, as the media world could probably do with more levity. However, while The Daily Show and The Colbert Report appear on basic cable, Factzone will be less accessible to prospective viewers; unless you have the super-mega-grand cable package that includes IFC, you're out of luck.
Source: Paste, The New York Times
Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.
Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!
Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of Utne Reader for only $29.95 (USA only).
Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 6 issues of Utne Reader!