REVIEW: CLIMATE – A NEW STORY

Climate: A New Story

Climate: A New Story by Charles Eisenstein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first found out about Charles Eisenstein through his amazing essay The Coronation (audio version read by him here), where he looked at the coronavirus pandemic crisis as a crisis of humanity, its collectively pernicious relationship with death and its obsession with safety.

Then I listened to this discussion with Rebel Wisdom on roughly the same topic, and his appearance on the Rune Soup podcast where he presented his new book, Climate: A New Story.

What can I say? I’m positively stunned by this man. Very clear writing, solid arguments, a real plan, a holistic, systems-thinking worldview… and a love for nature I didn’t think was possible outside people who usually cannot express themselves in writing as concisely as Mr. Eisenstein.

As far as I’m concerned, if you consider yourself an ecologist, you must give Climate: A New Story a read. It will rock your world and make your question how much of a true ecologist you really are. And I’m leaving this with you in as positive and empowering a way as possible.

I’ve gathered together many of my clippings from my Kindle read and added headlines. I hope they give you an idea of what to expect.

Why ecosystems and ecology are intrinsically interlinked:

The crucial role of living systems in maintaining climate stability presents us with good news and bad news. The good news is that our world can survive, that it can potentially adapt to higher levels of greenhouse gases.

The bad news is that the ecosystems that can do this are in steep decline all over the world. That means, given positive feedback loops that are already releasing large amounts of carbon and methane from nonhuman sources, climate instability will continue to worsen even if we cut fossil fuel use to zero, unless we also heal and protect the forests, mangroves, seagrass, and so on. […]

To me the prospect of humanity persisting on a dead, denuded planet is more alarming than a future without humans.

On why renewables won’t save us and definitely not the planet:

Conceivably, we could find another fuel source and maintain the addiction to a system of economics and production that consumes the world.

On love:

Love is the expansion of self to include another, whose well-being becomes part of one’s own.

On compassion to our adversaries:

Does this mean we might as well give up on change? No. It means we need to ask, What are the circumstances that give birth to the choices that are harming the world? Engaging other people, we have to ask the question that defines compassion: What is it like to be you? The more we understand, the more we live in reality and the less we inhabit a fantasy world populated by our projections.

On the futility of quantifying the world:

The totalizing quest to capture the world in number never succeeds. Something always escapes the metrics and the models: the unmeasurable, the qualitative, and what seems irrelevant. Usually, the judgment as to what is relevant encodes the intellectual biases of those doing the measuring, and often the economic and political biases too. You might say that what is left out is our shadow. Like many things we ignore or suppress, it roars back in the form of perverse, unforeseeable consequences. Thus, although it is the epitome of rationality to make decisions by the numbers, the results often appear to be insane.

Is data really objective?

Thus, what we observe to be happening in the world says as much about ourselves as it does about the world.

On fatalism:

What does it matter, when one party disengages because they think there is no problem, and the other disengages because they think there’s no solution? […] Indeed fatalism is a mind-set that strengthens the trends that generate it by fostering compliance to those very trends. The compliance that fatalism effects is invisible to the fatalistic thinker, who does not regard him or herself as a conformist, but simply as a realist.

On scientific orthodoxy:

Dissidents complain about the difficulty they have obtaining research funding, getting published in journals, and getting their arguments taken seriously. Meanwhile, the defenders of orthodoxy cite the self-same lack of peer-reviewed journal publication as reason not to take unorthodox theories seriously. Their logic is basically: “These theories are not accepted; therefore they are not acceptable.” That is confirmation bias in a nutshell.

On why just measuring emissions is a really bad idea:

It isn’t only forests whose living complexity far exceeds our ability to measure, quantify, and reduce to data. What number should we give the climate contribution of sea otters? They don’t sequester carbon—but they keep down populations of sea urchins, which when unchecked destroy kelp forests that do absorb carbon and alkalize seawater, allowing shellfish to absorb even more carbon.

Wildlife in the current paradigm:

Lucky thing for the fish that they are saving us money. Lucky thing for the employees that they are more profitable healthy than sick. Lucky thing for the honeybees that they provide such economically valuable services. But too bad for anything or anyone whose value registers low on our meter. Do you know that feeling of enchantment on seeing a rare bird or on having a close encounter with an animal, seeing an eagle over the water, a whale spouting in the sea? Can you quantify how much poorer you would be without those beings? Come on, give me a number. Then we will know whether these are worth protecting.

Taking the sacredness of nature seriously:

If a forest is sacred to you, then how much would I have to pay you to cut it down? No amount would be enough, just as no amount of money would be enough to induce you to offer your mother or child for extermination.

On holistic medicine and verifiability:

The same point applies to holistic medicine. Because each body is unique, true holistic medicine is resistant to validation through controlling variables across standard diagnostic and therapeutic categories.

On aborigines in Australia exercising creative non-violence to protect their habitat, and winning:

As tensions were reaching their peak, Dan proposed an idea to a group of aborigines at the site. Everyone felt the foreboding that they were entering a losing battle, so why not try something else? Since they knew media helicopters were coming, why not make giant art installations visible from the air for them to film, instead of the usual script of police arresting activist hippies? The aborigines loved the idea, brought out their dreaming stories, and soon had sketched designs for two-hundred-foot giant rainbow serpents and other figures to be drawn on the ground with sacred ochre. They also planned to greet the police ceremonially, with giant fires making sacred eucalyptus smoke, and five hundred men painted in ceremonial colors with clapping sticks and didgeridoos. The next morning Dan got a phone call. The government had canceled the fracking license.

On why luck favors the bold:

Have you ever noticed in life that the most striking synchronicities seem to happen in times of uncertainty? When one moves to a new city without a plan, or travels without an itinerary, or does something out of the ordinary with no idea of what will happen, then quite often an amazing (sometimes life-changing) things happens.

[…] It is not enough to “send positive energy.” A sacrifice of some sort is required, something that involves risk or loss. It might be the sacrifice of time, energy, and money. It could be a sacrifice of certainty or control, an act that feels like a step into the true unknown. It could be a demonstration of commitment that feels real to you.

Pesticides in a nutshell, and why they need to be banned now:

We have basically conducted an eighty-year experiment to see what happens to the biosphere when we constantly dump poison into it. Life is resilient, so the effects were hard to notice at first, but they have gathered now to critical mass.

Ending on a hopeful note, on imagining what’s possible, not what’s realistic:

All of the policies and practices I have described are within reach right now. The vision of a Green World is not fantasy; nor, however, is it realistic. What it is, is possible. It requires each one of us to dedicate ourselves, unreasonably and with no guarantee of success, to our unique form of service. It requires that we trust our knowing that a healed world, a greened world, a more beautiful world is truly possible. I hope this book has amplified that calling and trued you to that possibility.

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SYNCHRONICITY OF THE WEEK

I truly believe in the power of synchronicity. It’s when things just happen: you think about someone after a long time and they appear in front of you; you read about a movie or book and then you hear about it again from someone else. Or you might happen to meet the right person at the right place at the right time, seemingly at random.

A fundamental teaching of magic and magical culture (at least as expressed in one of my favorite books, Real Magic by Dean Radin) is that “coincidences”, or synchronicities, happen around people who practice mindful intent – the clearer the intent, the more things happen to align themselves to one’s benefit. The more synchronicities one experiences, the more the Universe tells one they are on the right path, whatever that may be. Magic is simply the art of enchanting one’s life in order for more synchronicities to happen.

That’s why I myself am more Obi-Wan Kenobi than Han Solo: I don’t really believe there is such a thing as luck, randomness or coincidence. I do believe that what we perceive as bad luck could just be a symptom of being out of sync with one’s true path or self. Disbelief in magic and meaningful synchronicity itself could act as a repellent for possible windfalls. Conversely, the experience of synchronicity is akin to a thumbs-up, a wink from the Universe. It’s a reminder that life’s a beautiful, mysterious game that might be possible to “hack” in the most simple yet cosmically mind-blowing ways.

So I decided to start a synchronicity diary. It’s true that things tend to happen more often the more you pay attention to them. So this should be a nod in the right direction.

Last week I completed a 21-day program on abundance authored by worldwide spirituality superstar Deepak Chopra. I was invited to it by a friend of Marilena’s and decided to put in the work and see it completion. Every day of the program involved a short meditation and some written exercises that usually had to do with some life reflection (“what’s a limiting belief? What are the people you admire and look up to? What are the people you feel uncomfortable around?”) or ceremonial focus of intention: for example, I had to write on a handful of receipts that the amount I spent on them was good and that it would come back to me sevenfold, or do simple reprogramming routines that aimed at changing abundance-limiting beliefs most of us have, at least to a certain degree, and which I certainly do have!

Well, on the last day, which was last Thursday, I did my final meditation while I was in a cafe in Exarcheia. I was forced to go there because back home they were drilling all day in the apartment next door so I had to flee if I wanted to get anything done that didn’t involve banging my head on my wall. So I took out my laptop, put on my earphones and started this Youtube video:

Then, as I was trying to keep my focus on my breath, repeat the given mantra and let go of mind noise (who knew thinking about nothing could be so darn hard?), I noticed that there was a beat playing in the background that synced perfectly with the meditation track above!

I tried to replicate the effect here at home but could not — you may try it yourself and let me know. It could be because they did not perfectly sync at all, or that the fact that I could only hear the bass through my earphones gave it the appearance of syncing up.

The point is, at that moment, it seemed so random, yet so perfect. It absolutely gave me confidence that what I was doing was “the right thing”.

You might say it was just a coincidence. You might be right. But before I sign off, I will leave you with some food for thought: what’s your threshold? Is there any kind of mysterious synchronicity that would make you go “this just can’t be a coincidence?” If yes, why? If not, why not?

See you next week!

HOW DOES THE GREEK ACCENT MAKE YOU FEEL?

One of our recent Easy Greek episodes was on the particularities of the Greek accent in English. My thanks go out to all volunteers who accepted showing their “imperfect” Greek accent to the world.

As an unofficial sequel of this video, I shot another one where I talk (in English) about how it’s always been a burden for me to be expected to speak with an Australian or native accent, when I didn’t grow up or have hardly ever used the language in a native context — that is, having mostly ever used English as a means of communication with people who grew up speaking a different language; what it means to have a strong accent; whether one should be ashamed or proud of their accent, and what does it all mean in the current climate when English is the de facto global language it is today, i.e: what accent is a person speaking proper, international, L2 English  be expected to have?

 

MY ULTIMATE QUARANTINE POST

If you’re reading this during the coronavirus pandemic, or at any point in the indeterminate future when all this will have blown over, chances are you are experiencing this “biggest crisis since WWII” first hand, making your own quarantine memoires. Have you realized half the planet or more will end up having this shared experience? Will people one day ask each other “so how did you pass the time during Social Distancing”?

On one level, this is a disturbing situation. Billions of people have been forced to stay inside for what is now weeks and might soon be months (or even more!) Just a few weeks ago, this is something almost no-one would have imagined people would have agreed to do so willingly.

In this day and age, it’s really hard to keep a tab on a viable explanation that actually makes sense and feels real – if, that is, you have a personality type that tends to mistrust authority, as I do. Every chapter in this story is open to alternative explanations and as we’re going into the second month of a deepening crisis, having a good grasp of what is really going seems so difficult it actually feels not even worth attempting.

I find myself believing the official narrative, doubting it, doubting my doubts and then doubting the doubts about the doubts. The early 21st century is not an easy time to have an open predesposition towards new information. I’m sure I must have fallen victim and allowed fake news to sculpt my understanding somewhere along the way (how many times, I wonder) in this eerie, post-truth mediascape.

Only time will tell whether this global reaction will prove to have been the only real way to safeguard society, a devastating overreaction, or whether the present situation is the first sign of something worse brewing underfoot than the pandemic itself. On top of the existing questions about the true origin and nature of the virus, I’m particularly concerned by how governments all over the world will be likely to take advantage of the situation to go all totalitarian on us. Mr. Orban has already made himself a good example of what I’m talking about here, but the Hungarian response is just a few terrifyingly small and easy steps away from what many of us are living through right now.

The worst part is that governments have the perfect alibi: individual freedoms have to be sacrificed for the protection of the greater good. But is this tough-love response a necessary evil or is there something less obvious going on? Gordon White on Rune Soup describes the anger pretty well.

For instance, what will happen when the vaccine comes along? Will we be stuck inside until it is ready? Will it be mandatory for people to be vaccinated to be part of civil society, to go to the cinema, to travel, to work? Are these fears paranoid? What if the crisis is so deep by then that anything that will save us and allow us to go back to “business as usual”, whatever’s left of it, will be welcomed with open arms, no matter the implications?

Can any sacrifice ever be too great?

It’s darkly amusing how Star Wars prequel memes have been making the rounds these days as the perfect descriptors of our situation.

So, how about my life?

Being a “work wherever” freelancer and having been one for several years already works to my advantage in the current climate. I’ll admit it, I’ve had my fair share of grumpy days over the last couple of years when I’ve had to work during every single holiday; in addition, my inability to discipline myself and keep my work life and everything-else-life separate has been a cause of great and enduring frustration. Yes, I can edit articles and new episodes in my pyjamas, but as everyone who leads a lifestyle similar to mine would confirm, working in your pyjamas gets really old really fast.

But. As far as work itself goes, I’m currently one of the lucky ones that can still scrape a living. I’m well aware that far from everyone is in the same boat: there are people close to me whose businesses have already closed and even family members who are blackmailed by their bosses to work for free and have no option but give in. Hell, welfare structures themselves are breaking down. The people that in normal conditions had nothing — the homeless or immigrants, for example — now have even less. No emergency 800€ for them. It’s ugly. So, I’m extra-grateful for my Easy Greek Patreon supporters and for Spotted by Locals, who are still giving me some work despite the nosedive in the tourism industry.

I’m reluctant to say this event “is cataclysmic” when we can still play video games, have pizza delivered to our door and buy expensive organic vegan food at the supermarket, but it can certainly feel like that, and I guess this feels as close to a cataclysm as anything we people who are used to wealth, comfort, and frankly, entitlement, have ever experienced. Still, we’re only at the beginning of this ride, which will leave none of us unchanged.

But on another level, we have so many opportunities to use all this time we didn’t know we had – we can do things. 

Michael Leunig

Despite all the relative doom and gloom above, I still feel like I’m in moderately high spirits. I wonder how much that is because I’m a human and my happiness meter, no matter how good or bad things get, tends to hover around 7/10 (the upside of being stuck on the hedonic treadmill — read about this equally horrifying and peculiarly comforting study here). It could also be that, precisely because I’m an introvert at heart, I have decades of experience in finding ways to use my alone time creatively and productively.

It kind of feels morally wrong to be optimistic when everything looks so hopeless around us. As if it’s inconsiderate towards those people that are truly suffering. The truth is that most of us will not fall sick during this crisis, much less die. However, the vast majority will be left with psychological rather than physical scars, and those of us who are still able to muster some good cheer that can end up motivating other people, well, we should keep doing what we’re doing. We the team at Easy Languages get a lot of messages by people who don’t want us to stop making content because it brings them comfort to watch us. Maybe they even use the content we produce for actual language learning!

Once we unglue ourselves from social media and the post-truth mediascape largely created by other people being bored in front of their own screens,  there’s so much life to be had, both inside and -gasp- outside.  The minute we find we’ve actually lost track of our own and other countries’ coronavirus case and death tally because we’re not really that scared — wow. It’s like breaking free of a spell.

I’ve been:

  • Sleeping. A lot!
  • Doing yoga almost every afternoon with Nefeli over Skype. I can’t believe how much this is helping me.
  • Going on long runs (now it’s still permitted?). The Sunday before last, I ran up to Theatro Vrachon (around 11km there and back) and a couple of days ago I ran along Ilissos to the waterfront. At this rate, I’ll be running half-marathons before I know it. Running is something you can do for free and you can start today even if you’ve never run before in your life. You can be running 5 kilometers non-stop before summer — try C25k.
  • I also got a 10kg dumbell and pull-up bar and try to use them as often as possible to try to at least keep some of the progress I made at the gym the 4 months before all this started.
  • Pushing yourself to get sweaty and not just sit around really, really helps. They do say that physical exercise is the cheapest anti-depressant. EVERYONE should exercise as much as possible in the present condition. No wonder Ring Fit Adventure now lists for more than $200 on eBay!
  • Meditating. Trying to start off at 20 minutes every day, focusing on my breath, emptying the mind. As always, not making a lot of progress, nut I’ll get there eventually. It’s a matter of making it into a habit that sticks. I just started The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young which is apparently a masterwork on taking your meditation to the next level. Let’s see! What I can say is that even when I don’t manage to keep the thoughts at bay, the thoughts that do arise during meditation are usually very creative and feel qualitatively different than the usual inner dialogue.
  • Cooking every day. 50/50 vegan/vegetarian. Good thing Marilena doesn’t mind and even enjoys me experimenting in the kitchen.
  • Keeping my immune system strong. Exercise and sleep help. So do lemons, ginger, kefir and propolis (WTF? This is called bee-glue in English. Sounds much nastier than the positively LOTResque “Propolis”). Remember: fear is an immunosuppressant.
  • Drinking. Raki & rum cocktails mostly, but today I also got a fresh bottle of whiskey. It goes well with life itself. Also, mixing stuff with Holy Ginger. This stuff is EXPENSIVE, but I LOVE IT!
  • Taking care of other living beings in the apartment: Marilena, Maalouf, the worms in the compost bin, the kefir grains, and plants I’ve been trying to do my best to not have die on me.
  • Maalouf just by himself takes up a lot of our time with his constant nagging and always playful mood but how can you even say no to this beautiful, stupid face? Just the other day we were playing fetch and “football”. He’s a dog reincarnate in more ways than one…
  • Going for walks (including with Maalouf). I actually thought people would act weird around a cat on a leash but most of them are actually delighted to see an animal that is not a dog so thoroughly and obviously enjoys going for walks.
  • Spring is here and the lack of people around means usually timid birds are growing braver. Yesterday I heard a cuckoo in the big park right next to my place for the first time and then I saw a hoopoe fly outside my window! Today (April 5th) we saw the first flocks of swallows arrive back from Africa and they’re already swooping very close in their search for ideal places to build nests. Observing nature reminds me that life goes on and most other animals not only couldn’t give a fuck about us, they’re happy we’re finally giving them a breather and some space back. I hope the pendulum doesn’t swing back with a vengeance once 5G is inevitably rolled out — the requisite totality of geographical coverage with countless high-powered antennae beaming out interlocking EM radiation at extremely high, virtually untested frequencies, might deeply disturb not just the human world but the non-human one as well, especially in the long run. But that’s another topic for another day…
  • Writing. It’s been so long since I took the time to sit down and write on my blog. I feel so rusty.
  • Reading! Namely: The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, Everything is Fucked, Το 10, re-reading Real Magic, Ιστορία (κωμικοτραγική) του νεοελληνικού κράτους, 1830-1974.
  • Gaming. Nier Automata (just finished Route A — not sure I’m getting the hype yet), Hyper Light Drifter (buttery smooth action), GRIS (beautiful), A Short Hike (directly inspired by Breath of the Wild — what a delightful surprise!) and Disco Elysium (balancing between “am I playing this right?” and “this is cool!”)
  • Listening to a lot of Easy German! I love these people, and it’s not just because we work together.
  • Shows: The Man in the High Castle (picked it up after a year of having abandoned it — it’s better than I remembered, however I do find annoying how often the plot seems to revolve around every main character taking rash decisions that magically work out because support characters with no agendas of their own help them carry out their crazy ideas against their own interests — just an impression); La Casa De Papel (4th season already! This show is the ultimate junk-food series: devoid of nutrition, artificial flavors, larger-than-life marketing to cover the complete absense of meaning… but you can’t stop watching!)

Before finally publishing this post, I found out that Fusion Festival 2020 would be cancelled. I was really looking forward to it, and until just a few days was still hoping that maybe, just maybe, it would still be possible for them to squeeze through the hoops. That would mean at least some previous plan would survive the crisis. No such luck.

Maybe there’s no big surprise there, but it just drove the point further how really really different the world already is. So, brace yourselves, buckle up, enjoy the ride. You can’t control any of it anyway, and we’re still gonna die eventually no matter what.

 

 

EARWORM GARDEN EARLY 2020

Navigating through this band’s recent discography (all 244 or so records they’ve made in the last 3 years) is a feat on its own! The drums were the most earwormy part of this song for me. I was surprised to discover they have two drummers, actually.

Inspired by this podcast episode by Personality Hacker, in turn inspired by the death of Rush drummer Neil Peart and which put me, too, in a nice Rush mood. The song is about the freedom of driving a Red Barchetta in an imaginary future (“50 odd years” from the ’70s, when this song was written), at a time where driving has been banned.

Heard this song by complete chance on the 2nd program of ERT (Greece’s public radio & TV) on Christmas Eve. Awesome surprise, right? I already was a fan of VIC, but this new album of theirs has launched the band to legendary status. Can’t wait for their concert in Athens 2 weeks from now. See you there?

MY VEGAN JOURNEY THUS FAR

The Tree of Life Erasmus+ program that took place in Elpidohori in Greece last October was focused on cultivating awareness in each one of us participants about how to make our lives more sustainable: less wasteful and polluting, with a smaller carbon footprint, and more about discovering and implementing life solutions that go through community and sharing instead of conspicuous consumption and waste.

You can see the Easy Greek episode I made about my experience here.

I have known for a long time that one of the best and most effective ways to reduce my impact on the world and promote a caring, sustainable lifestyle (insofar as this is possible while living in a large city) is to become vegan, or to be an even more selective omnivore than I had been before.

So, for the past couple of months, I have limited animal products to drinking my own homemade kefir (which I eat to not let the products of my kefir fungus culture go to waste) and honey (which I tend to substitute with apple butter whenever possible). That’s about once per week. I call this vegan, which it isn’t really, but you could call it “plant-based” if you object. More on that soon.

In the spirit of this vegan project, Marilena and I shot this video for Easy Greek:

For my nameday, in October, we cooked and shared a meal with some of my friends, where we also got a chance to talk to them about Tree of Life and what inspired us to take the decision to severely cut back on our animal product consumption.

The menu included roast potatoes and sweet potatoes, hummus and pink beetroot hummus, a large salad with pomegranate, olives, sea fennel and sunflower seeds (and more), baked pita bread (which turned out a liiittle more peppery than I had planned) and some guacamole.

The immediately following weekend, we organized a second dinner, this time for some friends of Marilou’s. It was actually more of a “vegan potluck”. Some of the people we invited initially laughed at the idea of cooking vegan food to bring with them, but in the end the whole thing turned out to be a big success.

The menu in this case included my favorite cauliflower curry with coconut milk, more beetroot (and carrot!) hummus, more guacamole, salad, brown rice, roast pumpkin with pomegranate and sunflower seeds, vegan pesto pasta, Greek fava and roast Pleurotus mushrooms with thyme and balsamic vinegar.

For dessert: vegan cheesecake (with cashew nut paste instead of cream cheese) with strawberry jam!

Despite the “sustainable” feast, I was disheartened by the fact that a lot of our dinner guests actually left quite a lot of their food in their plates uneaten. They all said they liked the food, so unless they were lying, they just couldn’t serve themselves less, or just as much, as they intended to eat. So we actually created quite a lot of food waste that wouldn’t have been produced otherwise. The total impact of this waste compared to what a “normal” dinner would have produced is hard to quantify: it might have had fewer, more environmentally impactful dishes, but a greater number of our guests might have been more eager to clean their plates. Or not. Who knows.

This realization inspired me to get some new worms for my Wormery compost bin and refresh my colony. I had accidentally killed the previous colony a few years back by drowning them in white flour (ironically). It was time to renew my efforts to reduce kitchen waste in the household.

Pumpkin seeds sprouting

Before leaving Elpidohori, we made the agreement as a team to symbolically share plants or sprouts with other people, disseminating literally as well as figuratively the message of Tree of Life in this way.

I grew lentil sprouts as part of this activity — a fantastic tasty & nutritious snack.

Lentil sprouts
Maalouf is also considering going vegan… NOT!
You should try these sprouts!

I also put some avocado pits (the ones left over from the guacamole!) in water to have them one day become avocado trees. I intended to gift these sprouts to friends and family, but almost a month later, they don’t seem to have grown much. I hope they make it!

Once, and if, we get there, I’ll be sure to post updated pictures. I’m following this video guide.

Actually, looking at the level of water and at the video, I don’t think I submerged them deep enough into the water.

Also, here are some vegan restaurants in Athens I have reviewed for Spotted by Locals to get you even more familiarized with this fascinating, forward-looking world.

Veganaki | PeasVegan BeatMama Tierra

You may also browse by keyword: vegetarian.

This is the story so far almost two months in. I’m supplementing vitamin B12 and D3 and I’m eating a lot of hemp and pea protein as I’ve been hitting the gym regularly, and that seems to be working as intended.

On a final note, I watched The Game Changers on Netflix a few days ago (thanks for the recommendation, David!) — a documentary about “plant-based” diets and nutrition in strength-based or extreme sports.  I have to admit it’s impressive to see Arnold Schwarzenegger singing the praises of plant-based diets, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

At the time of writing, a full version also existed on Youtube, but I don’t expect it will stay there for long, which is why I’m not sharing with you a direct link to it.

The relevant discussion has raised interesting questions about what vegan science is using for backing. The anecdotal evidence and stories included in the film were impressive, but some of the purely nutrition-based arguments against meat sounded a bit farfetched. Joe Rogan invited the documentary’s main narrator (whose story was one of the many included in the film itself) to debate him over some of these facts. Here’s another unbiased, seemingly fair review of the relevant science.

What I believe is there’s no point obsessing over the nutritional arguments: if you take into account that many medical studies cannot be or never are replicated, or the fact that each study is more often than not funded by the respective industry that will most stand to benefit from the results, this kind of arguments tend to be unreliable and easy to debunk using equally valid counterarguments (by equally dubious and most likely unrepeated studies) carried through by the opposing camp.

It seems obvious and makes intuitive sense that a plant-based diet should be healthier than a primarily carnivore diet, but there are caveats. And, crucially, there are plenty of other, much stronger arguments for plant-based or vegan diets that question the ethics of factory farming and the ridiculously high environmental impact of animal products. It’s just a matter of fact that the planet cannot support 7.5 billion carnivores and the animals that would feed them. Focusing too much on the nutritional arguments and discounting these other points seems like a waste of time and an invitation to endless bickering.

ROBO-BOOGIE: AN ANDROID-THEMED PLAYLIST

The distant future, the year 2000
The distant future, the year 2000
The distant future, the distant future
It is the distant future, the year 2000
We are robots

The world is quite different ever since
The robotic uprising of the late nineties
There is no more unhappiness, affirmative

We no longer say yes, instead we say affirmative
Yes, affir-affirmative
Unless we know the other robot really well

There is no more unethical treatment of the elephants
Well, there’s no more elephants, so ah, but still it’s good

There’s only one kind of dance, the robot
And the robo-boogie
Oh and the ro, two kinds of dances
But there are no more humans
Finally robotic beings rule the world

Here’s a robot-themed playlist I made. It has pieces ranging from the hilarious to the chilling and frisson-inducing , but they’re all in some way inspired by science fiction and humanity’s dream of spawning a synthetic version of itself.

Featuring: Vangelis, Flight of the Conchords, Kraftwerk, Röyksopp, Giorgio Moroder, Radiohead, Daft Punk, Voltaire, Tomáš Dvořák and Styx.

 

 

CUBILONE’S DIMENSION MIGRATION

I was considering erasing my old blog (2007 – 2017) and allowing it to be swept away by the wind of time, but I was turned over, at least for the time being, mostly thanks to the surprising, kind, and kind of surprising words of appreciation by friends, and have copied it to Hallografik.ws.

Cubilone’s Dimension will now be simply known as the “old blog”, or the “archive”. I might go back and do something, play around with some old posts one day. Until that day comes, please excuse any inconsistency with internal linking etc you might find — I did my best to update the permalinks.

BOOK: ΤΗΕ WAR OF ART

The War of Art

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.

It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

I’d heard of Steven Pressfield’s book Gates of Fire, an epic historical novel about the Battle of Thermopylae (which I image is less Dan Carlin’s King of Kings which looks at the famous Persian Wars from the seldom sung Persian perspective, and more Frank Miller’s 300, but that’s just me guessing).

It seems that apart from historical battles, Mr Pressfield can also make an epic story out of the clash that’s forever raging on inside each one of us: the battle against Resistance.

What kind of Resistance, you’re asking? Like a force as real as gravity, friction and actual electric resistance, this is the power that stops us from doing what we need to do, more specifically create what’s aching to be born of us, and more specifically (for Mr Pressfield’s case), write. Just simply write.

Resistance is like the Alien or the Terminator or the shark in Jaws. It cannot be reasoned with. It understands nothing but power. It is an engine of destruction, programmed from the factory with one object only: to prevent us from doing our work. Resistance is implacable, intractable, indefatigable. Reduce it to a single cell and that cell will continue to attack.
This is Resistance’s nature. It’s all it knows.

This work is a very short motivational book that gave me a feeling very similar to the one I get when I listen to or read Jordan Peterson’s work: “alright kiddo, go clean your room. Do the work.”.

Peterson would continue with “only then can you stand to criticize society — only then can you look at the face of your father”, but Pressfield’s message instead is “you will doing us all a favor by becoming who you’re truly meant to be and creating a better world in the meantime”. It’s less a message of tough love and more one of much-needed empathy. We all have this Resistance, after all.

We’re wrong if we think we’re the only ones struggling with Resistance. Everyone who has a body experiences Resistance.

It’s quite reminiscent of one of my favorite Jung quotes: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” It’s something to live by.

I felt good by reading this book. But the rest, of course, is up to me.

I also recommend Mark Manson, Julien Smith and yes, Jordan Peterson in the “do the work” genre.

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