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Archive for April, 2011

Okay, so I’ve only got two exams.  But I’ve become incredibly distracted and lazy this term because of the playoffs.  More so than normal.

Just studying for what will probably be my last biology exam.  Dr. Maddison is obsssesssssssed with jumping spiders, so in honour of the exam I am in danger of asian failing tomorrow, I thought I’d share this!

Aren’t they cute?  Look how hard the little guys work!

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Koran Burning Prompts Third Day of Rage

 

An interesting take on the recent instability over the actions of an obscure, troll-like pastor called Terry Jones.   Jones once had the honour of influencing about 30 in his church, but he now enjoys a following of hundreds of thousands of angry mobsters an ocean away.  Thanks to an internet video of him burning the book, it has apparently set up the murders of U.N. staff in Afghanistan, some of whom were killed while running from their bunkers, trying to escape the angry mob.

Thought that this article highlighted an interesting point about the kinds of alters at which we all like to worship.  I think in high school, the most interesting thing that happened in ninth grade was when my social studies teacher challenged me (well, the class) on what I thought of child marriage.  Somehow the discussion moved towards individualism vs. collectivism, the importance of group preservation in our society and around the world, and how we sometimes value things differently.  This Terry Jones incident just brought back part of that for me.  What the article is saying is that while America claims to be a secular state, we all have our “religion.”  In this case, it happens to be individual liberties.   What happens when you have something like the Danish cartoon incident, and you are pitting one religion’s core value against another’s?  What if there’s no middle ground?  So far, it appears like the options are mutually exclusive; appeasing one side is a direct attack on the other.

Regardless of whether or not the dust will settle soon in Afghanistan over this, it’s clear that America can’t go anywhere near Terry Jones.  He can’t be arrested, he can’t be censored.  So I will be curious to see how this clash of two value systems plays out over the next few decades.

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CBC.ca | Q | Is it racist to ban shark’s fin soup?

Immediate answer: NO. After some thought: maybe.

——–IMMEDIATE THINKING ——–

Shark finning is one of those things that really polarizes people. In Vancouver, I’d say most of my peers are quite apathetic, and for this I am embarrassed and mortified.  It’s almost worse than when my friends tell me they aren’t voting.  The problem with this uproar is that everyone’s got a different reason for or against a ban.

Reasons that are invalid (to me): anything that has to do with animal cruelty. Sorry, but the meat and dairy industry is chock-a-block full of accusations of being less than humane in its treatment of livestock, and since beef is in no danger of being banned anytime soon, I’d say this argument fails to sit on the table.

Reasons that are invalid (for): accusations that this is some kind of thinly-veiled attack on Chinese culture. I’d like to point out the fact that it’s not like the Chinese eat shark fin soup on a daily basis or risk eternal damnation. This was always supposed to be some kind of a “once every five years at someone’s wedding” kind of food, and only in certain parts of China. And with rising incomes and a disproportionately rising desire to show off celebrate, I’d say that the recent cultural explosion of shark fin soup is less cultural and more economic.  It certainly wasn’t always this prevalent, and so it can hardly be chalked up to a long history.

And with that, it is certainly the government’s obligation to ensure that this “cultural pastime” can continue to be enjoyed by those beyond our generation.

If a ban on shark fin soup is considered a cultural attack, then it is most certainly an indirect and wily one.  If it is, then *gulp* there’s almost a basis for striking down the polygamy law in Canada, where the definition of marriage by the government and by the FLDS are directly at odds.

Polygamy law doesn’t breach religious freedom guarantee, lawyer argues

I do think that a large part of the law’s purpose should be to ensure economic efficiency.  There’s nothing less efficient than allowing Chinese culture to eat the oceans dry of sharks by harvesting over 73 million a year without consequence.  That will result in no sharks for anyone within a decade, and then who will we blame for attacking Chinese culture?  Mother nature?  She is a bitch.  Also, a lack of sharks in the ocean can have other effects, such as damaging larger and more important fisheries that provide more food, such as oysters, mussels, and other shellfish, which many people *do* eat on a regular basis.  If I had to give up many kinds of fish to eat sharks for a few more years, I’d say that the priorities are obvious.

——-AFTER A WHILE THINKING ———–

However, a ban is also not efficient because of a number of reasons.  Monitoring costs are probably the biggest one.  And also, a ban implies “forever;” it would actually eliminate the ability for people to consume shark fin’s soup, making the whole motivation behind “saving the sharks for a later generation to enjoy” kind of nonexistent.  This would actually border on an attack on Chinese culture by putting a full recovery of the shark population above human consumption, which is inefficient (a full recovery, anyway).

There’s gotta be some kind of a middle ground.  Like with the cod in the Atlantic, a moratorium until we see an increase in shark populations?  In the meantime, a ban on other critical species, such as bluefin tuna, which makes for delicious sushi, would be a good idea as well.  Even though it will be sorely missed, I feel like in order to stave off accusations of racism, everyone, everywhere, needs to put our mouths where our politics are.

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