On Veganism

I wrote this for a friend's blog and thought I'd copy-paste it. It's kind of a book report/review. I'm going to beef up this entry later, possibly, with some excerpts/facts. For now, this is all.

Last night, I ate elk hamburger baked in a casserole (my housemate from Minnessota, who cooked the dish, proudly calls it a "hot dish," a traditional Minnesottan recipe she got from her mother). The night before, we ate baked chicken. Aside from a small bowl of Hawaiian-style sweet and sour chicken rescued from another housemate's employer's food pantry's excess, that has been the only meat I've eaten in the last four months, and it's the most meat I've eaten in such rapid succession in the two years since I became a vegetarian.

More specifically, I would be classified as a "conscious omnivore" or a "flexitarian" - and these three meals fit into my ethical guidelines: elk is not factory farmed, the chicken was organic, "happy" chicken from a local farm, and the Hawaiian dish was rescued from an untimely demise in a dumpster. But after reading Jonathan Safran Foer's new book, Eating Animals, last night's chicken is the last meat, or animal by-product, I probably will ever eat (note: not necessarily just yet. I'm realizing that becoming vegan is a process, a transition, and I won't be 100% vegan for a little while).

2009 Mix

I made a 2009 Mix CD. This is not my "Top 10 of 2009" or anything like that; I can never make those and be decisive about them. This is just a nice little mix of songs that came out this year that I like in no order (other than an order that makes aural and aesthetic sense, in my opinion), and there were many other songs I liked that came out this year that didn't make it on the mix.

Click the image below to download.

Song Title - Artist [Album]

1. For Emma (Forever Ago) (Justin on Piano Version) - Bon Iver
2. To Ohio - The Low Anthem [Oh My God, Charlie Darwin]
3. Are We There Yet - Ingrid Michaelson [Everybody]
4. Blue Lips - Regina Spektor [Far]
5. The First Days of Spring - Noah & the Whale [The First Days of Spring]
6. Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.) - Monsters of Folk [Monsters of Folk]
7. When We Fell - David Bazan [Curse Your Branches]
8. La Collectionneuse - Charlotte Gainsbourg [IRM]
9. Heart Skipped a Beat - The xx [The xx]
10. Comets - Fanfarlo [Reservoir]
11. Solitaire - Wilco [Wilco: The Album]
12. Northwest Passage - Leonard Mynx [Vesper]
13. Southern Anthem (Live) - Iron & Wine [Norfolk]


Here's a rough draft of a song I wrote this week. It's called "Contradictions," tentatively, and the lyrics are below.

"Contradictions" from Elliott Jones on Vimeo.

you're sort of a beacon of marvelous light
that invariably weakens as you wind through the night
across town, through the streets and into my room
where i lie awake and think about you.

where i wonder what happens when everything ends
whether you will be there, and will my friends
and i toss and turn, try to squint through the fog
and attempt to squelch my enmity with god

because he's the same god that loves the ones that i do
and he's the same god that hardened pharoah's heart
and he's the same god that brought me to you
and he's the same god that tears me apart.

it's the same sort of useless, trying to understand you
as trying to figure out what big man is up to
because you're the embodiment of all i ever wanted
all mysterious, all beautiful, understated, unflaunted

and so is that just the fault of the human condition?
a war hawk's nobel prize, justified by his admission?
the best loved, most generous in the ground are laid
the most beautiful woman can't love the way she's made

yeah he's the same god that loves the ones that i do
and he's the same god that hardened pharoah's heart
and he's the same god that brought me to you
and he's the same god that tears me apart.


“What makes equality such a difficult business,” wrote the 19th century French playwright Henry Becque, “is that we only want it with our superiors.” His lament illustrates one of the more poignant aspects of an eternal contradiction–the stark disparity between idealism and realism–that has plagued philosophers for all time. Some, like Edmund Burke and the generations of conservatives who followed him, find the idea of true equality not only impractical but subversive, and thus shun it. Others, such as Karl Marx and many of the founding intellectual authors of the United States of America, believed equality was plausible and, in Marx’s case, would be the natural outcome of the oppressive onslaught of capitalism. Neither Burke nor Marx was entirely correct. Burke was mostly correct in his assumptions, as equality is indeed unnatural, but was incorrect in his conclusion. Marx’s idealism is laudable, but his lack of foresight and the impracticality of his ideas of equality rendered his predictions incorrect.

Equality, according to Burke, is not compatible with greed, envy, pride, or lust–arguably inexorable aspects of human nature–and is thus itself incompatible with human nature. What follows logically from contemplation of this contradiction is the opinion of Edmund Burke: “Political equality is against nature. Social equality is against nature. Economic equality is against nature. The idea of equality is subversive of order.” It is at least true that inequality is present in nature. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, many species form dominance hierarchies:
“Dominance hierarchies are best known in social mammals... the evolution of dominance hierarchies in a species is indicative that there is competition for resources. Members of a dominance hierarchy are aware of how they are positioned within that hierarchy and they behave appropriately... In species where organized group living is essential to survival, it also serves to maintain order among pack members.”
It is important to note, however, that by pointing to inequality in nature, Burke is not arguing against equality necessarily. He doesn’t claim that equality is undesirable, per se, and he doesn’t even make the leap toward whether equality is indeed impossible. He simply makes the argument that, observed human nature as it is at present, and possibly taking an example from nature, equality makes for bad government and “subverts order.” Burke was fervently practical and considered contemplation of egalitarianism a waste of time, for “if [a political principle] is not practicable then it is not good.”

Music Du Jour 12-14-09

A few weeks ago, someone in my house happened upon Ingrid Michaelson's album "Everybody." I'd heard of her before; she played at Pepperdine a few years back, and she had a duet with Josh Radin on one of his EPs.

She looks like Lisa Loeb. And not just the glasses; it's the whole nerd thing she's got.

Well, it was put into the living room CD player and, seemingly, never left it for weeks and weeks. We listened to the CD over and over. I stole it a while back and put it in Lisa's car. It hasn't had as heavy a rotation in her car, though, and I was supposed to get it back from her and put it in the living room CD player again. I'll do that soon.

Anyway, the album is beautiful. I wonder whether she writes all of her lyrics, because she has some gloriously cheeky turns of phrase nestled here and there in this album that I really really enjoy. And then the title track is just so cute and catchy.

They say you're really not somebody until somebody else loves you
Well, I am waiting to make somebody somebody soon.
from "Are We There Yet"

Baby you've got the sort of laugh that waters me
And makes me grow tall and strong and proud and flattens me
I find you stunning, but you are running me down
My love's too big for you, my love.
from "Sort Of"

You call me a mountain
And I call you the sea
I'll stand tall and certain, and watch you swallow me

You can move me, if you want to
You can move a mountain
You can move me, if you want to
You can move everything.
from "Mountain and the Sea"

Happy is the heart that still feels pain,
Darkness drains and light will come again.
Swing open up your chest and let it in,
Just let the love, love, love begin.

Everybody, everybody wants to love.
Everybody, everybody wants to be loved.
from "Everybody"

But the real pull is her incredible voice. I love the end of this song, "The Chain." The round is so awesome. And what do you know, it's streaming right here for your listening pleasure:

The Chain [mp3]

Some Seattle Photos

So, I finally got a couple rolls of film developed. I shouldn't have, I can't afford it. But here they are. As usual, about 10% of the pictures came out how I wanted. I'm going to sell my camera. It just isn't worth it anymore. Anyone want to buy a Minolta Maxxum 5 SLR camera with a Quantaray 28-90 lens? Pretty good stuff. It's a good camera. I'm just not patient enough to actually set it manually when I take pictures, and I try to use the automatic settings, and it doesn't work out. Well, here you go:

The first few (bnw) were taken around Beacon Hill and then in a park that Lisa and I visited a few months ago. The color ones were on a hike in Issaquah our house took a while back.

More photos on ihardlyknowher. Enjoy :)