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May 11, 2017

[liveblog] St. Goodall

I’m in Rome at the National Geographic Science Festival
, co-produced by Codice Edizioni which, not entirely coincidentally published, the Italian version of my book Took Big to Know. Jane Goodall is giving the opening talk to a large audience full of students. I won’t try to capture what she is saying because she is talking without notes, telling her personal story.

She embodies an inquiring mind capable of radically re-framing our ideas simply by looking at the phenomena. We may want to dispute her anthropomorphizing of chimps but it is a truth that needed to be uncovered. For example, she says that when she got to Oxford to get a graduate degree — even though she had never been to college — she was told that she should’t have given the chimps names. But this, she says, was because at the time science believed humans were unique. Since then genetics has shown how close we are to them, but even before that her field work had shown the psychological and behavioral similarities. So, her re-framing was fecund and, yes, true.

At a conference in America in 1986, every report from Africa was about the decimation of the chimpanzee population and the abuse of chimpanzees in laboratories. “I went to this conference as a scientist, ready to continue my wonderful life, and I left as an activist.” Her Tacare Institute
works with and for Africans. For example, local people are equipped with tablets and phones and mark chimp nests, downed trees, and the occasional leopard. (Takari provides scholarships to keep girls in school, “and some boys too.”)

She makes a totally Dad joke about “the cloud.”

It is a dangerous world, she says. “Our intellects have developed tremendously.” “Isn’t it strange that this most intellectual creature ever is destroying its home.” She calls out the damage done to our climate by our farming of animals. “There are a lot of reasons to avoid eating a lot of meat or any, but that’s one of them.”

There is a disconnect between our beautiful brains and our hearts, she says. Violence, domestic violence, greed…”we don’t think ‘Are we having a happy life?'” She started “Roots and Shoots
” in 1991 in Tanzania, and now it’s in 99 countries, from kindergartens through universities. It’s a program for young people. “We do not tell the young people what to do.” They decide what matters to them.

Her reasons for hope: 1. The reaction to Roots and Shoots. 2. Our amazing brains. 3. The resilience of nature. 4. Social media, which, if used right can be a “tremendous tool for change.” 6. “The indomitable human spirit.” She uses Nelson Mandela as an example, but also refugees making lives in new lands.

“It’s not only humans that have an indomitable spirit.” She shows a brief video of the release of a chimp that left at least some wizened adults in tears:

She stresses making the right ethical choices, a phrase not heard often enough.

If in this audience of 500 students she has not made five new scientists, I’ll be surprised.

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April 16, 2010

Veggie in Barcelona

Just a note to fellow vegetarians passing through Barcelona: The best vegetarian restaurant we’ve found so far is BioCenter, 25 Fortuny, right off the Rambla. The menu is fairly small, but the food was really good. We had a very tasty seitan dish (sort of how I remember veal) and gnocchi. Reasonably priced, too. We haven’t been to many of the local veggie restaurants – see www.sincarne.net for a list – so there may be better ones, but you’ll get a tasty meal at BioCenter. And tell them Los Lobos sent you. (They won’t know what you’re talking about, but you might enjoy their momentary look of confusion.)

 


The next night: We had a lovely meal at Smilo, which bills itself as a pizzeria but has a very good Italian menu with numerous veggie entries. The pesta ravioli and veggie risotto were both delicious. The place is bright, clean, and very friendly.

Later still: We had a lovely, delicious meal at Vegatalia , off Las Ramblas. The eggrolls were fanatastic, and the risotto and seitan were delicious. Clean and friendly. Highly recommended.

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May 20, 2009

Vegetarian whine

A fancy restaurant that assures a diner that it can take care of vegetarians and then serves a plate of side-dish vegetables as the main course:

1. Has an incompetent chef.
2. Ought to be ashamed of its lack of imagination.
3. Is as embarrassingly ignorant about vegetarianism as they would be if they reassured a diabetic that they don’t cook with diabetes.
4. Is doing the equivalent of serving a grilled cheese sandwich or a plate of Ritz crackers and peanut butter, except that either of those would be preferable.

Note that this is not a multiple choice question.

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April 1, 2009

Veggie in New Orleans

Last night in New Orleans I had a delicious veggie meal at Bennochin (1212 Royal St), an African restaurant. The restaurant is humble, inexpensive, and friendly. It’s not a veggie restaurant, but they have lots of dishes that are, or can be made, animal free. It’s next door to Mona’s, which has some veggie, cheesy Italian dishes. Since New Orleans is not the veggie-friendliest of cities — they like their seafood here! — I thought I’d make a note of it…

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October 27, 2008

I am a vegetarian, in Chinese

I’m about to begin a 4-city, 3-country, 7-day around the world trip, from Germany to China to Vancouver, arriving home on the morning of Election Day. And you know what I’d really like to find? A printable statement that explains in Chinese that I am a vegetarian, that I don’t eat any animals, including fish or shellfish, or anything made with animals (including fish juice in sauce, animal juice in soup, etc.). Any one have a quick pointer before I leave in a couple of hours?

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March 24, 2008

With a side of long pork?

Solana Larsen has a fabulous idea. For those of us vegetarians who love faux meat, why doesn’t a restaurant serve up something besides the usual mock chicken, beef, pork, etc.? Why not faux endangered species? Solana suggests a menu… [Tags: ]

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