We’ve gotten into the habit of visiting Howell’s Living History Farm up in Mercer County, N.J., a few times a year as part of homeschooler group trips. In the past, we’ve cut ice, tapped trees for maple syrup, and seen the sheep shearing and carding. Today we saw the various stages of wheat – from planting, to harvesting, threshing, winnowing, grinding, and baking. I love that there’s such a wide vocabulary of specific language for all this – words I barely know outside of biblical parables (“Oh wheat from chaff!”) and that there’s great vintage machinery (Howell’s operations are set around the turn of the twentieth century).
Sometimes I see blog posts that make me really sad at the state of journalism. PhilyMag is the latest but you have the follow the daisy-chain of ramped-up hyperbole back just to make see how ridiculous it is.
The restaurant chain Red Robin recently made a fifteen-second TV ad whose joke is that its veggie-burgers are perfect for customers whose teenage daughters are “going through a phase.” It’s had rather limited airplay (it’s the 450th or so most run ad in the past 30 days) but still, Business Insider ran a piece on it which claimed that “the chain managed to insult all potential vegetarian and vegan customers” with the ad. For evidence, it cited three mild comments on Red Robin’s Facebook page. Fair enough.
But then the page-view-whores at Huffington Post saw the BI piece and wrote that Red Robin is “under fire for dissing vegetarians,” still citing just those Facebook comments. Under fire? For three comments?
Sensing fresh (veggie?) meat, Phillymag links to HuffPost to claim that ”vegetarians and vegans far and wide are freaking out” and that a boycott has been declared. The author tells us that “‘Offended’ gets tossed around so rapidly” and it must be true, right?, as she uses it three more times just in her opening paragraph. It’s a pity that none of the three Facebook commenters were considerate enough to actually use the words “outrage” or “boycott.” One described the ad as “disappointing” (ouch!). Another used the word “dissatisfied” (zing!), though he was speaking not about the ad per se but rather a recent visit to the restaurant.
Seems like if there is an epidemic of offended-ness going on, we might take a look at the desperation of what passes for modern journalism these days. Offended-ness must get page views, so why not be offended at being offended? (I imagine some hack further down the pageview food chain is right now reading the Phillymag piece and typing out a headline about the worldwide vegan army issuing a fatwa on the teenage daughters of Red Roof executives.) Is this really the kind of crap that people like to share on Facebook? Do Internet users just not follow links backward to judge if there’s any truth to outrage posts on outrage? I usually ignore this kind of junk even to read past the ridiculous headline. But the phenomenon is all too ubiquitous on the interwebs these days and is really so unnecessarily divisive and stereotype-perpetuating.
It’s probably not a good idea to be use bleeding-edge betas. That’s especially true for a tool used daily, like a cellphone. But I’ll freely admit that Apple’s iOS 7, announced Monday, has been itching at me. CultofMac told readers straight-out not to install it. But commenters there and elsewhere have been reporting few problems and apparently it is possible to go back to 6 if problems arise.
So this evening I took the plunge. I used the method outlined here and signed up at imzdl.com. It all worked pretty well. And so far, so good. The battery looks like it’s draining a bit faster than before, but that’s to be expected of a first beta and it’s not the half-battery that the Chicken Littles claim. A few apps have bombed on me, but only sporadically. Skype didn’t open at first, but a quick look at their support forums found you just needed to delete and reinstall the app.
Is it worth it? I don’t know. The new icons are still a bit rough, as reported, but more than that, their flatness looks out of place next to the 3-D icons that most iPhone apps still use. The new quick-settings bar is cool and the parallax effect for backgrounds is cooler still (it shifts the background as the accelerometer moves about, giving it all a feeling a depth). We’re told that multi-tasking is more robust, but that’s not something one notices immediately (besides, Android’s had it for years). I’ll update as I explore more. Guesses are that the second beta will come in about ten days — I’ll see if I can live with the first beta’s battery hit until then.
People sometimes get pretty worked up about convincing each other of an matter of pressing importance. We think we have The Answer about The Issue and that if we just repeat ourselves loud enough and often enough the obviousness of our position will win out. It becomes our duty, in fact, to repeat it loud and often. If we happen to wear down the opposition so much that they withdraw from our companionship or fellowship, all the better, as we’ve achieved a patina of unity. Religious liberals are just as prone to this as the conservatives.
These are not the values we hold when talking about the natural world. There we talk about biodiversity. We don’t cheer when a species maladapted to the human-driven Anthropocene disappears into extinction. Just because a plant or animal from the other side of the world has no natural predators doesn’t mean our local species should be superseded.
Scientists tell us that biodiversity is not just a kind of do-unto-others value that satisfies our sense of nostalgia; having wide gene pools comes in handy when near-instant adaptation is needed in response to massive habitat stress. Monocrops are good for the annual harvest but leave us especially vulnerable when phytophthora infestans comes ashore.
It’s a good thing for different religious groups to have different values, both from us us and from one another. There are pressures in today’s culture to level all of our distinctives down so that we have no unique identity. Some cheer this monocropping of spirituality, but I’m not sure it’s healthy for human race. If our religious values are somehow truer or more valuable than those of other people, then they will eventually spread themselves – not by pushing other bodies to be like us, but by attracting the members of the other bodies to join with us.
God may have purpose in fellowships that act differently that ours. Let us not get too smug about our own inevitability that we forget to share ourselves with those with whom we differ.