Beef-Eating Vegan

Today’s Lesson: Know why you make your choices.

*****

Imagine beef grown by cultivating live cow tissue, lab-grown but not “fake” meat, not “cloned” meat, real beef in every way. Even better, no animals were harmed in the making of this meat, and it is perfect beef–all the right enzymes and proteins, and the perfect amount of fat for taste and health.

If there was an abundant supply of meat to feed the world and you could have the perfect-tasting steak or burger with every bite, would you do it (because we are probably closer than you think)?

Does it matter where the beef came from? Do you know where your beef comes from now? As long as the steak shows up on your plate and tastes delicious, what is the difference?

Would you eat cultured beef? I am not sure but I think I would. That might come as a shock, as I have been vegan nearly two decades. Pardon the pun, but my “beef” with not eating animals is not a problem I have with being an omnivore. Unlike nearly all other animals, humans are able to eat both plants and animals and are able to be absolutely perfectly healthy on a purely plant-based diet.

The problem I have with eating other animals is that we have to harvest them and kill them and we do so with impunity. My problem is with our being bad stewards of the planet and thinking we do not have to live up to the ethics and morals we value among each other when it comes to the rest of the world–indeed, to the rest of all known life.

But a healthy burger without the factory farming, killing, causing pain, or creating environmental havoc? Sure, count me in.

Share

Marketing Is Rocket Science

Today’s Lesson: The best results come from having fun.

*****

My friend and sometimes business partner, Chris Lucido, was discussing Marketing technique with me. I was pointing out the wild success of his company’s Astronaut showing up at the Tampa Bay Lightning games and giving the team’s actual mascot a run for its money.

It was never intended to be Marketing gold with genius execution. “We were just having fun,” he told me. “Ben bought the suit because all of our products were space-themed at the time. We took it to the game to have fun with it since we still owned it anyway after we re-branded. We hoped local fans would get a laugh out of it and visiting teams might be distracted by it.”

They didn’t expect it to become national news picked up by ESPN, USA Today, ABC, every local station and paper, and, of course, being blasted all over FaceBook and Twitter.

Sometimes the best way to run a business and become endeared to the hearts and conversations of others is to just let your company be itself (by letting its people be themselves). You do not have to attempt to create or demand “fun” as a core value, motto, slogan, or directive. Just have it. Other people will get it if they get it, and follow along.

Share

Time to Die, Part 5 (of 5)

What will happen when we, as a species, conquer Death and Time?

 

In the future (within the next five hundred years), I think we will have mostly solved the problem of dying and maybe the problem of time travel (as most of us think of it).

Can you wrap your mind around a future like that? I have tried to write fiction many times but I am never happy with the result. Nonetheless, I have ideas I think would make interesting concepts. Perhaps a better fiction writer will read this and take a stab at creating a story around some of these ideas (just let me know if you do and give me partial credit, would you?).

Imagine what day-to-day life might look like in five hundred years:

 

  • To be a successful politician, you will not run for office. Instead, you will travel back in time and become a significant historical figure. Then, when you return to the future (present), you will be judged on your results and accomplishments from, say, five hundred years ago.

 

  • Wars will not be fought by armies. Instead, they will be fought by militant forces that travel back in time to stop insurrections or corrupt dictators before they come to power. They will not go back in time to kill someone before they are born. Rather, they will become a significant mentor in the person’s life and lead them a different direction.

 

  • Technology will be created to protect certain moments in our time line to keep from destroying reality altogether. For example, there will have to be a way to ensure time travel remains discovered, along with a way to preserve certain moments of the past, like the invention of space travel, to ensure human survival.

 

  • Time travel will be a great tourist market. Want to visit your Grandfather’s grandmother’s grandfather? No problem. Want to see a real dinosaur? We got you covered. Just sign this insurance form…

 

  • History’s greatest leaders and musicians will be available to keep the world on track. Aristotle will attend a Jimi Hendrix concert. Ayn Rand and Stephen Hawking will meet and fall in love. Albert Einstein and George Washington will lead a peace accord with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Gandhi.

 

  • Because we can live for thousands, maybe millions, of years, and because Time will no longer be relative, and because we will be capable of navigating the universe, many of us will opt out for a while. Some people will grow tired of living and they will choose to sleep for a few thousand years sometimes, to wake up and experience a new reality.

 

  • Time management software will take on a whole new meaning.

 

I don’t know how crazy the future will be but I know the possibilities are limitless. What would your future self, living in a universe without boundaries on success, learning, creativity, or possibility come back and tell your present self? Today’s lesson is simple: you are the potential of limitless potential! Live up to your potential now, before it’s too late… you know, in case it ever is too late.

 

Share

Today The Lesson I Learned Is: It Hasn’t Been That Long. (140805)

Think about this…
Everything we know about the universe, every answer we have ever found proof for, every fact we learned, every skill we developed, all the knowledge of the human race… happened in the last 3,000 years or so.

Of all the people in the world, how many contribute to any one piece of that knowledge base? How many people are really working on, say, astrobiology? Quantum Mechanics? Yoga? Carpentry? How many of the 7 billion people on the planet are devoting their time to one super important thing? Very few, right?

Most of us have production jobs, families, friends, entertainment to consume, etc. It is not like you or I are trying to solve the problem of how to live on Mars or clone a heart.

All the inventions we have, the knowledge, the experience, the abilities… cars, computers, space flight, ballet, marketing, architecture, medicine… only a relative few of us are ever working on these things at a given time.

Everything we know has been accomplished by not that many people working on something for not very long.

…And you sometimes wonder if you can make a difference?

Share

Today The Lesson I Learned Is: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself (140730)


I hate being wrong but I love learning. Of course, the only way to learn is to find out you were wrong about something you (thought you) knew.

There are a couple of ways to be wrong. One is to stomp your feet, cover your ears, and refuse to admit it (which breeds discontent in others and damages trust in your relationships). The other way is to do your due diligence, graciously accept the lesson, and be excited for having learned and gained more power with new knowledge.

Here is how I exercise Option Two:

I research what I thought (or assumed) was true. More importantly, I check sources and trust peer-reviewed literature above almost everything else (searching Google Scholar is an easy way to find peer-reviewed literature).

Peer-reviewed literature is not foolproof, of course, but it is the closest thing we have to proving something is true. It means other people with significant knowledge on the same topic and an understanding of the scientific method have tried to poke holes in an idea to see if it seems to be fundamentally true.

Like most people, I sometimes make the mistake of believing something I have read or watched because it seems legitimate, it is presented in an emotionally convincing way, but I am too lazy to do the grueling work of learning about a complicated topic (like the paranoia around genetically modified food, for example) and fact-checking, and then validating the source material again and again. It is so much easier to just believe what someone tells me, especially if they look or sound like they know something.

Also, some things I have believed for so long (that is, from when I was more susceptible and less skeptical) that I have adopted them as truth–but just because something is old and believed by many does not make the thing factual. Sometimes I have to check (or double-check) an old belief or assumption to find out if it still seems true to me (by the way, isn’t this how you learned the real story behind Santa?).

Today’s lesson, then, is this:

If someone suggests you are wrong, do not go straight to defense. Just do your homework, find peer-reviewed literature that supports or refutes your claim (or theirs), and accept the consequences. If it turns out you were right, be gracious and respectfully share or validate your findings. If it turns out you were wrong, then be gracious and respectfully share or invalidate your findings so others do not make the same mistake, and be excited you busted a false belief (even if you busted yourself in doing so).

Put more simply: you can not gain intelligence by refusing to learn.

 

 

Share

The Lesson I Learned Today… 140626

I think most of us really want to live in a better world and have better lives but we are very lazy and fear doing the work it takes to improve.

I was listening to an interview with Dr. Bruce Lipton, a (possibly well-meaning but nevertheless) charlatan who makes money pawning books and recordings based on tenuous pseudo-science at best. Think 1980’s-style books-on-tape that used to proclaim “learn while you sleep by programming your sub-conscious mind!”.

At first, I was mad at Dr. Lipton for preying on the hopes and aspirations of people who authentically want better lives and relationships. I was mad because people like him (and me if I wanted) have vocabularies large enough to dazzle good but innocently naive people. These types of con-artists use pompous (and practically meaningless) but science-y sounding phrases like, “neuro-modalities”, “Theta-waves”, “quantum… (anything)”, and “subliminal broadcast patterns” to make goofy spiritual quackery sound like actual science-based ideology.

After thinking about it, though, I became equally mad at his supporters/customers for being too lazy to think their way through the jargon and sensational claims. You do not have to be a big-worded brainiac to consider if subliminal “learning-while-you-sleep” tapes worked, then there would be no point in sending children to school. We could all just play “neuro-linguistic programming” audio tracks at bedtime each night and wake up fluent in another language or knowing martial arts after a good night’s rest. If it worked, there would be no other way anyone would want to learn! The whole world would embrace it, not just some select secret sub-culture that have access to a “magic sauce” no one else knows about.

Someof us want the easy, effortless answer so bad that we are literally willing to believe anything instead of putting in the hard, slow and steady work of becoming smarter, healthier, prettier, faster, better, etc.

There are no magic bullets. If someone tells you there is, better check the safety on his gun.

 

 

Share

Top 3 Priorities for the Human Race

 

Here is an intriguing question: What do you think Humanity’s top 3 priorities should be?

If world leaders paused for a moment to debate that question and its implications, it might help streamline decision-making and better determine the course of our future. I should note that by “world leaders” I am not referring to politicians. I am referring to scientists and thought leaders who, at minimum, must pass an IQ test to earn their position.

How great would it be to hear this question debated by the likes of Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Leonard Piekoff, Ron Paul (there’s one obligatory politician), Seth Godin, and Richard Branson (a random list off the top of my head, but I would love to see that panel take on nearly any important question…)?

Thought leaders and Mensa members aside, here is my humble list of priorities for the Human Race:

 

1. Colonize another planet. To me, there is nothing that should supersede this priority, even given so many other problems to address in the world (hunger, disease, and equality to name a few). Though other problems are important and pressing, our unified action to get off this rock and learn to live on another planet is our best, most promising hope for survival as a species. Given some of the more imminent catastrophic dangers (nuclear war, global warming, an asteroid strike, super-viruses, etc…), colonizing a second Earth, at minimum, doubles our chances of survival. In the U.S., the space program has been cut to less than 2 percent of the national budget–a travesty–it should be the top priority for Humanity and the primary consideration when it comes to the allocation of funds.

2. End religion. Getting to another planet should be our first, foremost priority and has actual potential to be realized in the relatively near future. Being done with religion is  loftier, but only slightly less important. Religion, I think, is the core of most wrong-thinking and evil-doing in the world (in point of fact, every major war in human history was started by religious zealots; how many wars have been started by atheists?). Religion is filled with ludicrous claims (like there is an old invisible man who lives in the sky and watches everything you do so he can punish you accordingly without ever telling you why or when he might strike). Religion has ambiguous morality (“Thou shalt not kill” but thou should “Take an eye for an eye”) and  false hope (if there was life after death, what would be the point of dying? If there was life after death, there would be no distinction; it would just be called “life”). Religion also encourages subservience and removes Man’s power, influence, and responsibility over his own life and the destiny of the world. I think if people were instead taught to think clearly and critically, science would be a thousand years or more further along and humanity’s first priority (get to another planet and double our chances for survival) would probably be solved.

3. Protect the Environment. For real. Until we solve the top priority, this is the only Earth we have. Real scientific education, without political or religious agendas and sensationalized media (maybe that’s our fourth priority–end media sensationalism and bias?), should be the norm instead of the exception. Having (almost) every citizen informed about the unequivocal benefits of a sustainable economy, understand what food is and how it works, and comprehend the basic structure and execution of the agriculture business can have a tremendous impact on how we live in the world and determine its fate. I firmly believe nobody (outside of religious zealots and store-bought politicians) wants to destroy the world, it is just that most people do not understand how to save the world. Not that everybody should turn vegan, wear hemp clothing, and drive a Prius, but everybody should understand the impact that doing things like that can have.

 

There are many huge issues facing mankind and some of them are immediately important (hunger, poverty, inequality, disaster relief are examples that come to mind). They should be addressed, and immediately. Still, there are priorities that will determine the fate of the entire race, perhaps even the fate of the universe (we almost certainly are not the only form of intelligent life in the universe, but if we are… how much more precious and important does that make our continued survival? There would be no chance for other life if we perished). These priorities need to be rallied around and vocalized louder than the others. It is at our peril that we ignore them or delay addressing them any longer.

I am grateful for people much smarter than I who are tackling these big issues and if you are in agreement with any one of those top three priorities, I encourage you to start a conversation about it, learn more, and take action–any action, even if it is as small as donating $50 to NASA, or having 3 meatless meals each week, or compacting your trash and using reusable shopping bags.

For further reading, or just to hear from some really eloquent leaders in these areas, check out:

Stephen Hawking – perhaps the greatest mind on the planet

Richard Dawkins – one of the world’s leading skeptics and non-theists

Michael Pollan – popular author and speaker when it comes to food and culture (don’t worry; he’s not vegan)

 

Did I miss anything? What do you think the greatest problem facing humanity is?

 

Share