Category Archives: Society

Oh, Just Don’t Even Bother: 50 Shades

50 Shades of Grey is a steaming pile of dog shit that can’t even compete with what your pooch is laying down.

Book, movie, whatever.

I’m that asshole who’s saying this without giving either the time of day. Do you know why? Because I work 6 days a week and life is too short to go out there reading and watching everything just to be fair before passing judgment on it. SUE ME.

But here’s the deal. Nearly every sex blogger on the planet is crying foul about this book/movie/steaming pile of shit, not just because of the bad writing.

When you get people like Jian Ghomeshi citing your book/movie/steaming pile of shit as an example of why he plays violent with sexual encounters like he does, maybe you’re doing something wrong.

BDSM is rough sex played by the rules. Yes, there are assholes who break rules, like Jian Ghomeshi and Christian Grey. They’re the kind of people that the online world and backchannels of BDSM will light up like a Christmas tree. Warning signs will be posted wide and far, if there’s any justice in this world.

Then you have the ridiculously subpar prose that shouldn’t have won any prizes, let alone space on any shelves.

does-50-shades-of-grey-deserve-its-criticism-L-G1jpcF

Example one: “Oh my,” I gasp as I bask briefly in the intensity of this visceral, primal attraction. “I feel it, too,” he says, his eyes clouded and intense.

Desire pools dark and deadly in my groin.

How are you supposed to get aroused by this? Really? Wow. People really need to improve their sex lives, and this ain’t where to start.

Example two: I want to clean my teeth. I eye Christian’s toothbrush. It would be like having him in my mouth. Hmm… Glancing guiltily over my shoulder at the door, I feel the bristles on the toothbrush. They are damp. He must have used it already. Grabbing it quickly, I squirt toothpaste on it and brush my teeth in double quick time. I feel so naughty. It’s such a thrill.

Wow. So risque. Actually, just gross. I’m not a germaphobe but sex is bad enough with all the crazy fluids exchanged. At least it’s fun. Using someone’s toothbrush isn’t sexy or hot, it’s just unhygienic to the nth. And it’s ridiculous writing.

How Not To Write

Wanna be a better writer? Butcher your adverbs. Kill them. Slaughter them. Leave them weeping in your wake. Look at that, all the descriptive ways I’ve suggested violence in just 4 phrases, nary an adverb in sight.

And this writing WON AWARDS? I’ll take a fucking flamethrower to the UK National Book Awards office one day if this happens again.

You want hot erotica? Scour the web. They’re out there. They’re making well-written stuff. They’re better than this hack.

Respect yourself. Aim higher. Don’t reward this bad content. And definitely do not confuse violent non-consensual sex with rich pretty-boys with what BDSM really is. It’s not even close.

All We Need Is Love. No, Really.

(This is not a posting about politics, or the Democratic Convention, even if it starts out talking about that for a second, so bear with me.)

After last night’s Democratic National Convention speech, Michelle Obama’s gotten a big spotlight around the world for bringing a topic up that we don’t often treat with the respect it deserves — love.

Her speech last night played on the heartstrings about the idea of love. Love for a parent, for a family member, for those who sacrifice, for heroes, for idols. Love. Love for each other.

It’s an emotion we all feel, or it can be replaced by its antitheses — hate, anger, sorrow.

For a few minutes, though, Michelle Obama talked about this love idea. This thing that, once upon a time, we’d maybe feel for those around us. We’d fight for it. We’d protect it.

Love. This many-hallowed thing of ages long forgotten. The one emotion that probably transcends every culture, and even every species.

I watched an episode of PBS’ Nature last week in which a mama grizzly was frantically running all over an Alaskan wilderness reserve searching for her cub. After a few minutes’ footage of this heartbreaking search by a mother for a child, she found it, and the joy was indescribable.

Love is a product of biology, not humanity.

So we like to think we’re all about love as a society. We’re pumping out music about it, movies that claim to be about love, and we exalt things like marriage and parenthood because they’re based, in theory, upon love too.

But we’re kidding ourselves.

We’re not about love.

If it bleeds, it leads. Be scared. Be very, very scared. Long for yesterday. Blame someone. It wasn’t me. Don’t trust anyone. Lock your doors. Don’t talk to strangers. Keep outsiders out. Money talks.

In the media today is this evil, awful loop of distrust, fear, hate, and judgment that keeps spinning and spinning and spinning.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I say “in the media”? I meant spinning, period.

I’m on the internet. I see the rhetoric playing out in reality. I see the lies slung, the hate bounced, the judgment passing. By people, not media.

If you think all our problems are born in the media, you got another think coming. They’re just the mirror in front of us.

I wish it were easier to see the beginning of it all. People say Hard Copy was the beginning of the journalistic decline, but Ayn Rand wrote a whole book around the concept of bad journalism and what it says about us. See that “evil” book The Fountainhead for her look at Ellsworth Tooey and pandering to the masses. That’s seven decades ago.

Did debased journalism begin, then society crowd around it like a mass of hungry onlookers at an accident scene? Or have we always been that shitty?

We obsess over celebrities. Oh, they’re famous and pretty and rich, so therefore they’re wonderful. Quick, cut them down with gossip and mockery!

Like children building with blocks, when it comes to societal successes, we look for the quickest way to disassemble that which we just built up.

Yet we’re better than that.

This same awful race who lives and breathes the TMZ religion and who conceived the inequities which plague class divisions the world over is the same race that has done everything from putting a man on the moon to discovering penicillin.

When we’re not confronted with imminent threat, we forget that we’re all in this together. We lunge at each other and bring words and weapons to spar with.

I recall Bush saying “You’re either with us, or you’re against us” and suddenly it seems we’re all living life in much that way.

In the hours after 9-11 occurred, for one brief, eerily shining moment, nearly the whole world was united in a feeling of love and empathy. I don’t think Americans realize that. The whole world felt the pain of that horrible, horrible day, and I think anywhere you were, this wave of despondency hit because we realized we’d just seen the worst that humanity had to offer.

And from that place, in the dust of the hours in the days that followed, this overwhelming feeling of love and community came out of it, because everyone needed to feel together for a while. We needed to feel like we were more than just hatred.

That’s what I remember of those days. This inexplicable juxtaposition of feeling the most hate I’d ever felt, the most anger I’d ever known, and at the very same time feeling this outpouring of love and empathy I only wish I could carry with me every day.

While we are both these things, we are more often the worst of ourselves.

Last night, Michelle Obama reminded us of some of the things that are the best of who we are, who we could be. She reminded us of those who are great who walk through the door of opportunity then hold it open so that others may also experience greatness.

But this isn’t who we are now. Not often. Not anymore.

Instead of achieving greatness by surrounding ourselves with greatness, we’re often looking for ways to tear down others. We look for failings. We protect ourselves and attack everyone who isn’t like us.

We’re the Youtube generation. Everybody point and laugh.

We have been better than this before. We can be better than this now.

I’ve found myself so often watching this year’s election process down south and feeling rather brokenhearted. I am so saddened by who we have become. I’m tired of divisiveness. I hate the blame game. But this disease keeps spreading. We glom onto hate and fear like leaches sucking a bloated carcass.

Maybe it’s because everyone’s so financially stretched and the future seems bleak. Maybe everyone’s so tired of the struggle to keep our heads afloat that we see others as a threat to our security. Maybe we’re tired of being so aware of our personal failings that we need to spotlight others’.

I don’t know.

That’s who we are, six days a week, on a public level. Maybe at home with our families and our closest friends, we’re better people. In fact, I know most of us are.

But when it comes to being inclusive in society, when it comes to thinking big-picture about our nations and our places in the world, that’s where our humanity evaporates and many of us slide into a place we shouldn’t respect ourselves for in the morning.

And for a brief little while last night, a great speaker reminded us that we’ve been more. In times like the Great Depression, we were motivated by love for others, a belief of being in it together, and an aspiration of communal greatness.

We have had our moments of being something amazing.

Unfortunately, electing a guy into an office and telling him to fix everything, and then going on with life as usual for four years isn’t how amazing happens. Amazing happens when we all remember we’re a part of something bigger. It’s when we all give back with volunteering, generosity of spirit, by helping our fellow man, and looking for the best in every situation.

That’s how greatness happens.

And for a time, I’ll be hoping people are reminded of that for the remaining weeks in this American election.

We need to remember we can be great.

And then we need to become it.

Love is a very good place to start that quest.

Cycling: Why You Should Start, & How

Britain’s greatest Olympian ever retired yesterday. Chris Hoy took another gold medal in Cycling, and then called it a day. Tearfully, he said his career and these racing competitions weren’t just about winning gold, they were about seeing more people get on bikes. More cyclists, more roads with bikes, more, more, more.

Cycling isn’t just about exercise, it’s not just a way to get where you’re going. Cycling is a complete change in lifestyle. It’s pretty much the only sport that can change your life, in every way, on a daily basis.

When you park that car and ride your bike, you’re saving money, you’re saving the environment, and you’re saving your life.

It costs, on average, about $10,000 a year to run a car. Just riding a bus daily for work can cost you over $1,000, and that doesn’t include lost productivity in all those hours waiting for connections.

Cycling doesn’t cost a cent once you’re in it. Yearly maintenance costs are pretty low, especially if you know how to clean your bike chain and do some of that yourself. Quality bike maintenance and parts can likely be done for under $200 per year, and a good bike should last well over 10,000 kilometres.

Me, I changed cities and lifestyles entirely so I could ditch busing and other forms of motorized commute. I’ve gone from 60 hours a month to only riding a bus for 15 minutes in the last 30 days. The rest of the time, I walk and I cycle. I’m happier, healthier, and less inclined to want to slap the masses.

Change Your Thinking

When I was new to Victoria, I was busing a lot to get a sense of the world. My chiropractor was just under an hour by two buses. Turns out his office is close to one of the nicest bike routes I’ve ever ridden. Total time to cycle there? 25 minutes each way.

With my saddle bags attached, I can hit up some of the great food shops, save $5 on return bus fare, and get an hour of cardiovascular exercise in, reducing my need to find time to “exercise” at some point in my week. How is that inconvenient in any way? Well, it isn’t.

Once you turn all those wasted commute hours — because, by bus or car, you know you ain’t getting anything done but reading or emails — into exercise, that too is where you change your life. It’s killing two birds with one awesome stone.

Cycling is a low-impact, high-result exercise that does amazing things for your body, IF you’re riding the right kind of bike with a good fit. If your bike shop isn’t concerned about “fit” and how a bike performs with YOUR body, then you need a better bike shop. This is not frivolous “entitled customer” thinking, as bike fit is absolutely critical to your enjoyment of the sport, and whether it has negative effects for you.

With the right gear, the right fit, and a little conditioning, you will be amazed at the way cycling simplifies your life.

Tired of getting home angry after a 15km commute by car? Try cycling it. It only takes a month or so to be conditioned to cycle 15kms (10 miles), and I’m telling you that as a girl over 200 pounds. If I can do it, what is YOUR excuse?

Here are considerations for getting started in cycling:

Saddle Bags Will Change Your Life

I pick different areas to shop in every week. My saddlebags will hold 70 litres of goods, which is actually a lot for a single girl like me. I can get beer, veggies, meats, condiments, and more, for over a week.

In one area, I get Mediterranean foods, stellar produce, and Indian ingredients. I plan meals ahead and get things from all three on the same day.

For routine staples and bad weather, I have a closer network of shops for more mundane goods, an 8km circuit I can easily do year-round in about 90 minutes including both cycling and shopping, that sees me hitting 4 to 6 great food purveyors downtown, from Italian to organics.

Then there’s my elaborate “gluttony ride” out to Oak Bay, a beautiful seaside area, where there’s an artisan salumerie, specialty wine shop, and great cheesemonger’s, and I hit that up once a month with a mind to enjoy a fantastic cheese & wine platter after that ride — and getting 75 minutes of beautiful flat touring ride makes it a guilt-free gluttonous night.

Now, I never, ever leave home without my saddle bags because I’m either packing my camera and a lunch, or I usually make use of my excursion by grabbing things on my way home.

When you do, buy heavy-duty saddlebags, because they will last for YEARS. Mine are 5+ years old already, from Canada’s MEC, and cost me about $75 when I got them, and they’re not the expensive ones. If I replace them this winter, it will be for larger ones, not because of wear. Make sure they’re weatherproof, clasp into place, and have reflective surfacing, extra pockets, and easy-to-carry handles. These will be the best things you ever put on your bike.

If you could exercise AND save money AND get all your out-in-the-world chores done at the SAME time, why wouldn’t you?

Pick the Right Bike

There are lots of styles, and more than you likely think, when it comes to bikes. From step-through Dutch bikes to hybrids, road bikes, and mountain bikes, to beyond. Each has benefits, and it’s why most lifelong cyclists have more than one bike.

If you’re looking to be a commuter and use your bike for recreation, then a road bike’s probably the last thing you want, oddly. Get a good bike shop, talk to friends about why they like their bike (as opposed to what YOU should ride, just find out why it works for them). Plus, use places like bike swap meets, used shops, and cycling organizations to gain some good insight from people who use cycling as a whole-life endeavour, because they’re the ones who know.

Know Your Paths

Cycling on the road isn’t a death sentence, but I sure as hell don’t enjoy it as much as I like a pedestrian/cyclist trail, like the great paths here in Victoria, which include the Galloping Goose and the Lochside. Most North American cities are designating paths for cyclists now, but they’re not always where you’d know to look. Ask at your local bike shop to see if they’ve got maps for your region, Google routes, or scan the app stores to see if there’s a cycling app for your area.

The Google (the web version only) now has a “bikes” feature in Beta testing on Maps searches, and you can select that to see the most bike-friendly route. Bike routes are often better, and different, than walking routes as elevation tends to be a big factor in riding. Here in Victoria, the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails are on an old train track, so the elevation grade has been smoothed out very nicely despite all the dips and valleys of living on an island. This makes for a much less intimidating ride than heading up car-friendly hills and other steep grades, and makes it the perfect place to get accustomed to distance rides.

Another plus to Googling places for your travel route is you can also get an approximate cycling time and distance. From my experience, the times tend to be for the “semi-conditioned” rider — not experts, but someone who’s cycling more regularly, so if you’re new, add some cushion time there.

Skills Count

Cycling, like motorcycling, is very much a skills-based pursuit. The more confident you are, the safer you’ll be. You need to know you’re a victim in the making every time you get on your bike, because Car vs. Bike almost always has the same outcome. But that’s not to say you can’t be more prepared to avoid these situations entirely.

Most cycling organizations have Skills-based rides where they teach you how to ride smarter. Here in Victoria, there’s a 3-hour basic skills course that’s free, and there’s an 8-hour one that costs $30, where you go on a ride through the city and they teach you in situ what skills are suited to what scenarios, and how to be a proactive, safe rider.

Safety First

Gear is pretty much the be-all end-all with cycling. You get what you pay for, and, trust me, when your life is on the line in a mid-winter chores ride near dusk, cheaping out isn’t the way to go.

Whether it’s great-quality raingear that keeps your head in the game, rather than you shivering and thinking how awful you feel, or lighting for evening rides, quality counts.

For lights, you want to check out the brightness rating. How many watts? Anything less than 2 watts should be a throwaway. And if it’s only 2 watts, you likely want to double up. Obviously, you need a front and back light, but most cyclists never think to put spoke lighting on their wheels. The only seriously close calls I have ever had have been from cars on side streets not seeing me in front of them and nearly T-boning me. For $15, you can get a couple sets of spoke lights to make your wheels light up and give yourself 360-degree visibility on the road at night. Trick yourself out with lotsa lights, because being a Christmas tree means being seen.

A helmet is a no-brainer, but most people don’t like them. I’ve been saved by helmets twice — once preventing a head injury, and once preventing death. But, hey, if your haircut’s that important to you, fine — just opt out of my medical system if you choose the no helmet route.

And That’s a Starter

Cycling will change your life. That’s inarguable.

If you get hooked, it will be your drug of choice. It will clear your mind, improve your health, bolster your finances, charge your creativity, and mellow your mood. It will save the planet, too.

If your arguments are “It’s too hard,” well, that’s because you’re new. Cycling on the road, your conditioning improves faster, better, than probably any sport I’ve ever tried. If you think “It’s too far,” that’s also because you’re new. Trust me. Give it one month of 4-5 rides a week, and you’ll be stunned.

There are really no good reasons to stay off your bike. I’ve seen parents taking kids to school on bike trailers, children as young as 6 years old cycling 10 kilometres around a city with Mom and Dad during a day, and more.

Cycling is more flexible than you imagine, more rewarding than you could dream, and it’s something you can do today to change EVERY part of your life.

Give it a shot. You’ve got more power in you than you think. Change your life, ride a bike.

Darwinism At Work: Tourism In Canada

A word before we begin: I’ve taken grammar. I realize one only capitalizes “Moose” when it’s a person’s name, not when speaking of the animal. However, I’m writing this because too many people come to Canada in stupidity (because ignorance is too kind a word) and fail to respect that our nature can KILL you. Therefore, to give the animals their due respect, I’m flouting grammar laws and capitalizing. Deal with it.

***

Winnie the Pooh had a Canadian passport. He went off to war with Canadian troops in 1917 for training in London, and when they went off to fight the fight, Winnie was relocated to the London Zoo, discovered by AA Milne, and became the first real star of the Great Canadian Woods.

Thanks to the Disneyfication of the bear and his Hunny Pot, people think bears are friendly.

Like these asshat (reportedly) Chinese tourists who came to Banff National Park, rented a bus, and decided to throw raw beef to attract the bears. Really? They’re leading the industrialized world and yet can be THAT STUPID? Really?

Okay. If you are now, or EVER plan to be, a tourist in Canada, then we need to have a chat.

Canada — it’s big, it’s pretty, it’s full of nature, and the beer tastes great. Check, check, and check.

But those big, beautiful woods are full of things that can kill ya. We Canucks grow up respecting this, and we generally bristle, stop, and either BACK THE HELL UP, or just LOOK, if we’re ever blessed enough to cross with Mother Nature’s beings in the great wild. Because they can kill ya.

Funny enough, the Mascot-of-Canada animal people don’t think of as dangerous is actually the biggest killer up north: The Mighty Moose.

If there were any animal in the Canadian kingdom that should be sporting a t-shirt that reads, “I’m warning you, DO NOT FUCK WIT ME, CHUMP,” it’d be the moose. The warning road sign I included here? That’s about the right ratio for Moose vs Car. Don’t think your car will protect you, because those huge moose have massive stopping power. Just last week a Canadian cop died after his car struck a moose.

And Moose vs. Human ain’t any better. Moose kill more per year than Grizzly Bears do. No, really.

What are some other “These Are Not Made By Gund” animals you’ll find in Canada?

Well, the Wolverine. It’s not just an X-Men character. They’ve been known to drive bears away from the bear’s own kill. Pretty impressive for a little thing.

The cougar. About 40% of cougar attacks are where I live, here in BC, with most happening here on Vancouver Island, which some idiot Cougar-Fact writers think is called “Cougar Island.” While this place has the most cougars found in the world, it ain’t Cougar Island. Incidentally, 65% of cougar deaths before the mid-’90s were small children. Between 1990 & 2005, cougar attacks had nearly doubled the previous century’s kill count. Yay for urban expansion.

A BC Cougar.

The bear. We have a few kinds. Black, Brown, Grizzly, and Polar. While the Grizzly and Polar are the most notorious for attacks, none of these will be adopted by Disney any time soon.

In fact, just now, a friend posted on Facebook that her home, just a half-hour from Downtown Vancouver, currently has a mama and her cubs wandering in the mountain behind the subdivision, and Mama Bears are responsible for 70% of Grizzly-inflicted death, and a similar majority of other attacks.

And that’s not even out in the wild, people.

Welcome to Canada.

But It Ain’t The Animals You Gotta Be Scared Of

That’s the problem.

Even tourists who come here respecting that these animals can kill you are likely to not be aware that a tourist is more likely to die in our pretty, serene nature than by being confronted by an animal.

Every year, tourists are killed by high waters, tough tides, rough oceans, fast rivers, steep cliffs, mountain falls, avalanches, and more.

In fact, a tourist in the Greater Vancouver Region is probably most likely to die in Capilano Canyon, where signs everywhere tell you about people who’ve died over the years. Fences, warnings, and signs are everywhere, and yet what happens?

People think, “Well, it’s so pretty. Maybe if I get a little closer I’ll get a better picture.” And they slip, they hit their head, they’re washed away.

I know two people personally who’ve died in such accidents, and they were both avid outdoorsmen who loved nature.

The fact is, Nature operates on her terms, and we’ll often not outwit her, and we’ll never know her plans. We’re just a part of the food chain, and when it comes to Nature, she’s not afraid to remind us of this.

Canada is an incredible place, filled with incredible sights, and it’s one of the last real places in the world where you’ll find vast stretches of untouched nature. I highly recommend seeing Canada in all her glory, and coast to coast to coast, but respect it like your life depends on it — because it does.

My home is the land where Robert Service once wrote that “silence bludgeons you dumb,” because it’s such vast and untamed wilderness. It’s where, even today, experienced outdoorsmen walk into the sunset and just vanish without a trace, like Tyler Wright, a popular Vancouver rugged outdoors guy who disappeared on a hike 2 years ago, and whose remains have still never been found.

People die here: Smart people who understand the risks, but more often those who don’t.

I’m lucky. I’ve seen Canada from the Yukon to Vancouver Island to Prince Edward Island, to everything in between. The only places I’ve yet to see are Nunavut, NWT, and Manitoba, and everything I have seen has left me feeling a blessed, blessed girl. It is wildly worth seeing, this land of mine.

Come to Canada. Enjoy our beer, love our land, see our wilderness, but respect it.

If you can’t respect our nature, its dangers, and how “on guard” you must be, then stay the fuck out. We spend enough of our money rescuing stupid tourists.

This has been a public service announcement from a fed-up Canadian.

(Oh. And pick up your garbage. It only looks amazing until you leave your fucking trash behind. We’re not your garbage can. Neither are our amazing spaces.)

A Carnivore Ruminates: Thoughts About Balance

Food. Some eat to live, others live to eat. Either way, it’s the source of life.

The Chinese believe in the Chi of food. Eat food from the place you’re from, and you get Earth-drawn energy to live upon the place you’re in. It’s a circle-of-life thing.

Me, I clearly live to eat. Lately, too indulgently and without balance. Sproing goes the waistline this summer, I’m afraid. And that’s no good.

Living to eat and doing it badly is an ironic way to embrace death. I’m certainly better than I’ve likely ever been as an eater, but it’s a constant act of re-education, and the more I learn and deprogram myself on the white-food-rules upbringing I had, the further I’ve yet to go.

I had a bit of a Twitter spanking as I tongue-in-cheek suggested I get great pleasure from seeing former Vegan/Vegetarian people going back to meat. I explained that it vindicates my belief that vegetarianism and veganism are somewhat unnatural.

Then again, entire cultures, like the Hindu, go their whole lives without food that comes of taking a life.

I get that. But I’m Irish and French. It’s just never gonna happen chez Steff. I mean, really. If we weren’t supposed to eat meat, it wouldn’t be so tasty.

It’s that simple.

But it’s good meat that’s tasty. Meat raised under ethical conditions, raised eating real food, not stuffed with commercial feed, who have access to pastures, live naturally, and are slaughtered compassionately, then processed with care by people who value the product and the life given to provide it.

Give me a steak by a grow-factory, slaughtered en masse without empathy, processed on a conveyor belt, versus a local farm-raised product, slaughtered the old-school way, and hand-trimmed, with both prepared and cooked the same, and I’ll tell you on the first bite which is which. Easy. Done. It’s right there. That je ne sais quoi of having been raised ethically and killed compassionately.

There are lamb in Spain who get walked — WALKED! — on a 650+ kilometre trek across the mountains, feeding on grass as they go, birthing, mating, living like they should, being sight-seers for many weeks before they meet their end. That’s something you taste. Real grass grown from valley to valley, by river and stream, under olive trees and by grapevines. It’s all there in that lamb.

The French believe in terroir and how it applies to not just wine like most people think, but to everything from meat through to oysters. You taste the land that the food comes from. Like where you’re born imprints you, so too does it to the meat and seafood and everything else we consume. Like those Spanish lamb I think would surpass any I’ve ever had.

Yum.

It’s a beautiful thought, that this interconnectivity runs through everything around us, and that we can choose to focus on more seasonal, local produce and it’ll not only be of better quality, but also of better Chi, of better terroir, and even just better for the environment, and ultimately more fulfilling for our soul.

As I reflect on food and what it means to me this week, I know where I’m going wrong with my diet is simply too many carbs and too much meat. I won’t go paleo or Zone or Atkins or any of those faddish diets. I just want to find a balance that works for me — ethically, tastefully, healthily, and financially.

I will never eat what I don’t enjoy, and I’ll never omit things like juicy steaks, cheeses, or other great food-of-love things that transport me when I eat them. Life’s meant to be lived, not survived.

There’s a perfect balance of finding flavour yet eating a diet that makes your body happy, and that’s the balance I’ve lost.

I’ll be eating less meat, less cheese, but when I have them, having far better quality. At the same time, I want to explore vegetarian dishes from around the world, particularly from places where they manage to go entire lives without meat, because clearly they’re doing it properly.

I’ve known people who’ve been extreme vegetarians, who did it balanced as best as one can, but who ultimately returned to the Meat Side when they ran into energy problems when being more active (like a boxer I knew, and a hardcore mountain cyclist). I don’t believe one needs to omit anything completely (except when allergic, obviously) to live an “ethical food” life.

Yet we as a society in the West eat meat to excess and a compromise would be good. I’ll attempt a 50% vegetarian week. I’m sure there’ll be weeks I fail, but I’m probably meat-eatin’ 6 days a week now, if not 7. That ain’t no good.

There’s one thing I can’t argue. That’s the issue that raising meat, farm or factory, creates a lot of methane, which is hugely responsible for global warming. If the world went vegetarian tomorrow and commercial meat production ended, we’d probably see a drastic difference in climate change quickly. This is true. Irrefutable.

So, mandate methane capture and conversion. Let’s solve that problem. Let’s have our cake steak and eat it too.

Because, to me, every cow is sacred, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it salted and grilled.

Don’t Try This At Home: TV Worth Dying For

Reality TV likes to push our buttons.

It aims for the jugular, encourages the pathos, and pokes the bear inside. Yep. And it’s as cliche as all those statements, too.

But there’s almost no filter anymore. It’s one thing when people are debasing themselves and showing the very worst of humanity, but it’s another when we put life-risking behaviour on television and call it entertainment.

With shows like America’s Got Talent, there’s nothing more important than raising the stakes with each performance. That means something completely different when you’re comparing singers to circus acts.

Take this week’s performance show. A danger act had this guy with a crossbow, upon which he bracketed another three pre-loaded crossbows. In a full theatre with a live audience. Naturally, a sexy blonde stood terrified, her smile fake and breath quivering, between four balloons on a wall. Sure, he hit everything dead-centre, but what if?

What if the audience has just one guy with a screw loose who shouts when the archer is aiming? What if he has a muscle spasm, or sneezes?

What if?

We like to think we can account for everything. We are man, we have science! Opposable thumbs! Rah! We have got it covered, baby. Besides, we had a dress rehearsal.

Whether it’s the scandalous talkshows bringing together people who clearly hate each other at the point of violence, or pushing at guests with known mental issues in the past, or shows that take obviously over-the-top risks, television seems to to want the ultimate tragedy for the ultimate ratings.

When it comes to something like BMX stunts, I’m all right with the insanity. Riding a bike comes with risks. When it’s a guy doing a 50-foot dive into a 8-inch pool of water, or whatever it was last year, not so much. When it’s an archer with four pre-loaded crossbows? Also not a fan.

What irked me, though, was Howard Stern. I know he’s “the Shock Jock,” but his words cut a little too close to the truth. And where’s the hue and cry? I see nothing on the web. No one’s even blinked, it seems.

“You’re a danger act. If anyone ever thinks that that’s not dangerous, that is insane. I thought we were gonna have a death on this show, which would be great for ratings. Let’s be honest. Maybe next time.”

Really?

And no one blinks. Really? Oh, but he said it dryly. Yeah. But he said it.

It’s like we’re in the Thrill Kill Kult fanclub or something. It’s the entertainment equivalent of porn escalation. We like it rough, then rough doesn’t cut it anymore.

“Sorry, that was dangerous in 2009 but it’s old hat now. We’re gonna need a bigger knife.”

Romans used to throw Christians to the lions, and medieval townsfolk would cheer on torture in the town square, so this is kind of who we are. We’ve always cheered on the primal. We like death. We celebrate people’s demise. The messier, the better.

We try to pretend we’re offended at the thought, but deep down inside, we’re entertained. Let’s just admit it, then run to hell and back with that ball.

Murder television, it’s good ratings. Just ask Dick Wolf and the Law & Order franchise.

But here we are, popcorn in hand, televisions glowing in the night, eyes wide open, watching as a guy with four crossbows takes rather nerve-wracking aim at an innocent blonde on live worldwide television. What could possibly go wrong?

Someday, somewhere, something’s gonna go wrong. But will you be watching?

Television hopes so.

And that day might come sooner than later. After all, more people than ever are cutting their cable connections and going web-only. But what if you could only experience the enthralling nature of someone dying live if you had a television subscription?

Marketing hasn’t demonstrated a healthy respect for boundaries before now. I can’t see why they’d let a silly thing like taste or death get in their way.

Television: Entertainment worth dying for, coming soon to a cable provider near you.