The sea turtle’s death

We went to Desaru during the school holidays. Just a couple of days to relax before the next term begins for the girls. We stayed at a resort on the beach, but the waves were to violent to do any swimming in the sea.

I walked along the beach just before sunset one day and a few hundred meters down the shore from the resort I saw a monitor lizard walking up the beach towards the jungle. He was a bit far off but I took my phone out to video him as I walked closer. As I was watching him, still a hundred meters away I notice a large shape on the beach.

It wasn’t a rock; there are lots of jagged black rocks out in the surf alone Desaru beach but this was too round. In the shadows it took me a few moments to figure out what it was. It was a sea turtle. A big one. A few seconds later I figured out the only reason a monitor lizard would be there was it must be dead. The tide was combing in and I guess the lizard didn’t want to eat in the surf.

As I got closer I could see how bloated the creature was. I was surprised it didn’t smell. I was up wind but even up close, where I could see it was missing its eyes and the softer skin of it’s face was mostly gone, eaten or rotted off, I didn’t smell it. I got a few whiffs of it when I moved down wind, but it wasn’t that smelly.

I wonder what killed it. There was no obvious thing. I’m not an expert but there was no holes —other than where the eyes and one fin had been eaten. I wonder if we killed it? Did it eat one too many plastic bags? Maybe it died of old age, it was very large, but, maybe I’m too pessimistic I suspect humans until proven otherwise. The beach was littered with bottles and other bits of plastic, covered in small clam like creatures. This is on a beach at a resort that is raked every morning. There was a shoe, and further down the beach an insole. I wonder if they go together? Humans suck. And all of this trash has been in the past century. We are disgusting creatures who can’t control ourselves.

It is changing, slowly. Slower than a glacier moves, and much slower than all the glaciers are melting because of us. Singapore, which should be able to be way out front on such things can’t even get there. Almost all take away containers are plastic, delivery makes it worse, everything is wrapped in plastic and then bagged in plastic and comes with plastic utensils and straws and little plastic packets of condiments you won’t use. Even when you chose the “don’t need cutlery” they sometimes include it. Even if they do leave it out they will throw in more ketchup and chili than you could use. If you get take out from many food stalls you get styrofoam. Something McDonalds stopped using when I was a kid is still the standard for many takeout places in Singapore.

The Singapore government could outlaw this, but I guess it would inconvenience people, maybe they would vote against the government, and for sure there are a number of local companies that make all this plastic —I see their trucks on the road sometimes, with pictures of all the plastics and saying things like “manufacturer of all kinds of plastic food containers!”. Yea, the government should help them move on to other work and cancel the plastic. I remember more than a decade ago being in Taiwan and seeing that all the takeout was in cardboard boxed that were waxed to resist the liquids at least long enough to get home and eat. How come Taiwan can do it and Singapore cannot? Singapore can do better, and should. Many stores have started to charge for plastic bags but few people are carrying their own bags regularly or reusable food containers. For a place were tiffins were once ubiquitous it’s sad, everything is double and triple packed in single use plastic today.

quotes ranting

Cultured Meat is Vegan

If [vegans] want to see an end to animal exploitation, it is our moral duty to call lab-grown meat vegan, even if it unnerves us.

Jude Whiley [], from Yes, Lab-Grown Meat Is Vegan [] on Wired

It’s a good article, go and read it. I agree. The author writes better than me and his almost all the points I can thing of in a relativly short article. Seriously, go read it. I’ll wait.

I’m not a vegan, I tried that briefly —too hard to be practical for me— but I am a vegetarian, have been for close to 25 years now. More than half my life. I came to vegetarianism and the concept of animal liberation through utilitarian ethics. Reading Animal Liberation [] was one part of my journey, though I think Practical Ethics [] was more important in my journey. Maybe that speaks to why I couldn’t commit to to being vegan.

Vegan vs. vegetarian discussions aside, I’m in complete alignment with the key points to the article:

First, vegans, and vegetarians, should be 100% behind lab grown, or cultured, meat. The idea that lab grown meat is bad because cells had to be harvested from an animal is kinda self defeating, if you want to save animals from slaughter. If the goal is to eliminate the slaughter, or even the wider exploitation of animals then a few cows having a biopsy should be an acceptable evil to prevent millions of cows from being born into exploitation and slaughter. To hope that humans will have an epiphany and realize the equality of animals is farfetched. Too many vegans are ‘religious’ about things and think that it has to be black and white. Even if a vegan chooses not to eat lab grown meat they should support others eating it to limit the cruelty and explotation.

Second, lab grown meat should be a thing unto itself, sold as lab grown not used as some sort of cheaper filler combined with uncultured meat, to make it cheaper or increase the profitability of meat. Today lab grown meat is much more expensive than farmed meat, but that will change and, if allowed, companies will ‘cut’ farmed meat with lab grown meat like drug dealers cut cocaine or heroin. And they will try to hide that fact with marketing speak and labeling shenanigans so people not looking for lab grown meat will buy it.

We should normalize lab grown meat as meat, all the tasty tasty without the murder.

At this point I should note that despite living in Singapore, which was the first country to legalize cultured meat, I have not actually tried it. It’s currently only available at a single restaurant that requires reservations and blah blah blah… I can’t be bothered. Hopefully it will be available more places and in the grocery store soon.

The author does miss two important points. First, how will people who are vegan or vegetarian for actual religious reasons see lab grown meat? It’s much more interesting than how the vegan society and its’ members will see it. Second, he notes:

[A]nimal abolitionists, who sit at the radical end of veganism, argue against lab-grown meat on the basis that it is speciesist. Speciesism states that humans place themselves above other animals as more important, and that this bias leads to all forms of animal exploitation, from burger consumption to greyhound racing. Vegans who worry about speciesism contest that the eating of meat grown from animal cells—even if no animals are slaughtered—still upholds a belief that animals are “something to eat” in a way that humans are not.

But I beg to differ, lab grown meat can eliminate specimen. We can eat humans. There are already companies selling this idea. The Soylent Vats are Coming []…


Sunday 8PM

Realse Date
September 28, 1998

Faithless’ [] Sunday 8PM [] is the soundtrack of my first year at George Mason. I spent many, many hours in the Johnson Center listening to this album. I am actually shocked that I my love of this album survived that year, and that I don’t see calculus problems floating before my eyes when I listen to Sunday 8PM today.

See, they let me into Calculus 2 when I transferred to Mason, without even testing me. But it became very obvious the first day of class that I was out of my depth. By the end of the first week I was completely lost. It had been more than a year since I did any calculus and to say math was not a strong point would be an gross understatement. So. I went to the book store and I purchased the study guide and extra problems supplement for my textbook; Stewarts Calculus, 5th Edition. And I spent an hour or two nearly every evening of my first semester sitting at a table in the Johnson Center with those books and taught myself the first 5 or 6 chapters whatever was part of the Calculus 1 syllabus. I worked every single problem in the textbook, the study guide and the extra problems book, many more than once. I passed Calculus 2 and went on to Calc 3 and many more math classes that an degree from the engineering school required.

A lot of that time I spent working and reworking calculus problems in the Johnson Center was spent listening to Sunday 8PM.

I don’t remember where or why I bought the album. My theory is I must have got it at Plan 9 in Charlottesville sometime in late 1998 or early 1999. I probably bought it just because it was in the techno section and was in a funky cardboard case, not the normal jewel case most CDs came it. I was a sucker for funky packaging, I have a whole stack of mediocre dance and techno albums that came in strange packaging, including one that came in a water filled blaze orange package. I don’t why, I had too much money to spend, most of these purchases resulted in very little music I would actually listen to.

Faithless wasn’t new to me, I liked some of the songs off of their first album, Reverence []. “Salva Mae” and “Insomnia” were great club hits, and something I listened to ridding around C’ville with O███. But Sunday has a totally different feel. Less frantic, less driving, more melancholy and thoughtful, more lyrical and melodic.

“Bring my Family Back”, and “Take The Long Way Home” have some of Maxi Jazz’s best rapping across Faithless whole discography. “Hem of his Garment” features Dido, who is the sister of Faithless member Rollo, and the unbelievable “Why Go?” has lyrics by Boy George. These two songs foreshadow the heavy use of guest vocalists on many later Faithless albums. And both tracks push Sunday further into melancholy terratory.

Basically every song on the album is great. That is, of course, why I can listened to it end-to-end even 25 years after it’s release and why it’s on my list of favorite albums. “God Is a DJ” was the biggest hit on this album and is the most mainstream “dance” song on the album. The rest of the album leans into the trip-hop and downtempo more than anything on their previous album, and way more than anything you could hear in the the US at the time. This type of music just didn’t chart in the US. It’s less about the club and more about the chill hours after the club before the sun comes up.

I have every one of Faithless’ albums and I can, and do, listened to a lot of them. There are good songs and great songs on all of their albums, but Sunday 8PM is there best. Though, there is another album that lists Faithless as the artist that will make an appearance on this list, that album is a bit different and a story for another day. Sunday 8PM is the best Faithless album and if you’ve never heard it you should.

Listen to it on Apple Music:

Or Spotify:

quotes ranting

If they collect it they will sell it

I understand these companies want my data but you’re supposed to be sneakier and better at getting it than this by now.

Hope Corrigan, in Ubisoft’s launcher broke Steam games on Linux and Steam Deck, [] on PC Gamer

It’s funny because companies are supposed to hide the fact they are collecting and monetizing our data. By now we all know they do it, but we are not supposed to talk about it. Pay no attention to the data collection behind the curtain.

One of the most insidious aspects of the internet is the “data economy”. User data is hovered up and hoarded by the giant internet companies we know and collected and traded quietly by companies most will never hear of. The harvesting and commercialization of our habits and our connections has become a billion dollar business. Allowing an economy to be built on this trade erodes our privacy more every day.

Even if you choose to live off of the internet or jump through the considerable hoops to keep your data out of the hands of the data brokers and social media they still likely know way more about you than you think. Short of living like Ted Kaczynski you can’t escape it.

Shadow profiles are created about you based on your phone number or email when your friends and associates allow companies to access their contact list. Every website you visit is telling the data brokers what you are reading, what you are buying, what you are searching for. Too many people still don’t realize that if you aren’t paying, you aren’t the customer, you are the product. And more and more even, if you are paying it’s not enough, your data is too valuable to just take your money. Capitalism is the beast which cannot be satisfied, profits must rise, if customer data is monetizable, monetized it shall be. If they collect it they will sell it.

quotes ranting

Nazi AIs are the logical conclusion of the internet

How are people surprised that AIs trained on the internet are spewing Nazi shit []? (Substitute any bigotry you want, any -ist or -phobic adjective you prefer) I mean, a Nazi AI [] is not even a new thing… This is the internet people, don’t you know how it works?

Godwin’s law, short for Godwin’s law (or rule) of Nazi analogies, is an Internet adage asserting that as an online discussion grows longer (regardless of topic or scope), the probability of a comparison to Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches 1.

Wikipedia []

Somehow people think that AI trained on the web is going to be like Project 2501? Elegant and articulate? Fuck off. Do they know about 4chan? Without content moderation on social media it would descend into some unholy offspring of The Human Centipede and Mien Kampf.

It’s amazing that we aren’t all gouging our eyes out like Dr. Weir on the Event Horizon. Hats off to all the underpaid, over traumatized [] content moderators out there. Take a Prozac and get some therapy.