Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chocolate elitism

You can make your own comparisons to Sax, outdoor recreation, and/or to the enjoyment and love of nature generally.

from :


Chocolate elitism

Someone else has covered off the death of consumerism today. This leaves me free to talk about chocolate. I really like chocolate. I do not like big-bar commercial chocolate, so Cadbury’s recent decision to make its chocolate even worse (and even more ethically dubious) by putting palm oil in it will not affect me personally as a consumer.
Cadbury’s stated reason for adulterating its chocolate with palm oil – that its customers have expressed a desire for chocolate that is even more soft and greasy – does, however fill me with dread. The flagship Dairy Milk chocolate contains only 21% cocoa solids in the first place, putting it well on the road to wtf-is-this Hershey Hell anyway. And now they’ve made it even more mucky.

So I do think that Whittaker’s has a point in its attack advertising against Cadbury, even if its marketing director Philip Poole should never be allowed on Close Up again without some media training (Philip: “We believe we have a better product” might be a good marketing line. And stop closing your eyes on television). Whittaker’s is the best of the big-bar chocolate brands, and the Peanut Slab has an undoubted iconic appeal.

But really: when there is the choice of a number of fair-trade brands (including the sub $5 Scarborough Fair range) and in a city where Phillippe’s hand-crafts slim, shiny slabs of 70% cocoa heaven, I don’t understand quite why people prefer the mucky stuff. You can’t even use the “dark chocolate is full of life-giving antioxidants” rationalisation. I suppose this makes me part of the chocolate elite.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Salmon Tracks

Mike Jones's exhibit in Mann might be of interest. He's also hosting a free pizza lunch on Thursday at 12:05 in 401 Physical Sciences. Come along!

Ron Swanson's Libertarianism

From Parks & Recreation

Sunday, November 4, 2012

From the European Policy Office:

European Policy Office's initiative puts money towards "environmental benchmarks"

The link showcases several projects which are to be funded by the EU initiative called, "Well Spent" which uses EU money to promote environmental stewardship.

Would Cary Coglianese ("Implications of Liberal Neutrality for Environmental Policy") classify this action as environmental policy?  How does it relate to "government interference with individuals' lives"? (pp. 45 of the reading -Week 12)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Climate Fixers

Here's the link to the article in The New Yorker that I mentioned in class this morning: 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Can Money Buy Happiness?

I was intrigued by today's conversation in lecture about whether money could buy happiness.  I come from an affluent town in southern California where one could argue that most of the residents never need to truly worry about money.  I was amazed growing up by how many children, who could have almost anything money could buy, seemed so unhappy with life.  Their unhappiness seemingly stemmed from perceived body issues, fitting in the high school social structure, or most commonly love.  The absence of money may cause happiness but the presence of money cannot buy or guarantee happiness. 

Why were these rich, smart, beautiful young adults set on being unhappy?  I am not sure.  Maybe the norm is for humans to be unhappy.  If we are always happy and content with life, what reason is there to strive for more?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Would You Steal Hitler's Wallet?

A friend found this interesting thought experiment online. Not sure what the source is, but it does raise some questions about desert and morality.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Spiritual But Not Religious

I just found this article online about being spiritual but not religious. It's the author's point of view that basically labels this type of ethical reasoning as wrong. I found it a little off but that's just me, check it out...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Iris Murdoch on Philosophy and Literature

Iris Murdoch on Philosophy and Literature | The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast | A Philosophy Podcast and Blog

In Fire and the Sun: Why Plato Banished the Artists, Iris Murdoch claimed that “[a]rt is far and away the most educational thing we have…” Here she is discussing this notion, among many others, with the philosopher Bryan Magee. 
You can also read an interview with Murdoch in the Paris Review. Here’s an excerpt:
Should the novelist also be a moralist and teacher?
Moralist, yes. Teacher suggests something rather more didactic in tone. A novelist is bound to express values, and I think he should be conscious of the fact that he is, in a sense, a compulsory moralist. Novelists differ, of course, in the extent to which they set out to reflect on morals and to put that reflection into their work. I certainly do reflect and put this reflection into my works, whether or not with success. The question is how to do it. If you can’t do it well, you had better not do it at all. If you have strong moral feelings, you may be in difficulties with your characters because you may want them to be less emphatic than you are yourself. In answer to your question, I think a novelist should be wary of being a teacher in a didactic sense, but should be conscious of himself as a moralist.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hooray for rich people!

Following up on this morning's lecture, I ran across this news item this afternoon and thought I would share it here:
 Hedge Fund Manager Donates 170,000 Acres of Wild Lands in Colorado
Journalists often are stumped for the right words to explain amazing news that comes across their desk. But this time the simple words announcing the news were amazing enough:
"A wealthy hedge fund manager has set a record, donating 170,000 acres of prime wilderness land in Colorado’s pristine Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, making it the largest donation to the agency."

It gets better.
"Avid conservationist Louis Moore Bacon, 56, CEO and founder of Moore Capital Management, which is one of the largest hedge funds in the world, donated to the wildlife agency most of his 81,400-acre Trinchera Ranch Saturday, Sept. 15, adding to a previous 90,000 acre donation from his adjoining Blanca Ranch."
In explaining the motivation for his donation, Bacon said: "We are too quickly losing important landscapes in this country to development—and I worry that if we do not act to protect them now, future generations will grow up in a profoundly different world.”
Oh, if only those politicians suggesting we sell our public lands to pay off debts could understand that.
The whole wonderful story can be read here.
A nice reminder that good things can be accomplished by those with the wealth and the will to do them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Call for Papers -- The Ethical Biologist

CALL FOR PAPERS – The Ethical Biologist, UConn

Call for Submissions: The Ethical Biologist
Although ‘bioethics’ is often used to describe the application of ethical and moral theories to biological sciences and technology, in its broadest sense, the term ‘bioethics’ refers to the study of the ethics of life.  This interdisciplinary field promises to become increasingly important to all people as technology and science becomes increasingly prevalent in daily life.  The Ethical Biologist is a new peer-reviewed undergraduate research journal based at the University of Connecticut that seeks to highlight new ideas in bioethics. The journal is completely student-run and student refereed.
We are currently accepting submissions for our inaugural issue, to be published in the spring of 2013.  We encourage the submission of pieces that address current issues in bioethics, or that consider the behavioral, biological, environmental, political, legal, or socioeconomic factors that influence bioethical issues.
Until 11:59 p.m. (EST) on December 16, 2012, we will be accepting:
●      Original Academic Research Papers (2500-3500 words) – Pieces that address a specific area of bioethical study;
●      Perspectives (1200 word maximum) – Opinion pieces that analyze a recent development in bioethics;
●      Field notes (2000 word maximum) – Journal-style pieces based on relevant personal experience and written with a more personal voice.
Please turn in all submissions to by December 16, 2012. If you have any questions, please contact us directly.  Our website, which is currently undergoing maintenance, will be available for more information beginning in October.  Visit us at

Friday, August 31, 2012

Wildnerness Experience Machine

To go along with the discussion in lecture about the "wilderness experience machine," I would highly recommend checking out the 2010 movie "Repo Men" starring Jude Law. I don't want to ruin the ending, but it raises many of the same questions as far if this "wilderness experience machine" would be an adequate or ethical substitute for reality. Also, it's a pretty good movie in its own right.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Neurath's boat

Neurath's boat goes by other names, for example, Neurathian Bootstrap

The wiki entry includes this passage from Willard Van Orman Quine, who writes in Word and Object:

"We are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom. Where a beam is taken away a new one must at once be put there, and for this the rest of the ship is used as support. In this way, by using the old beams and driftwood the ship can be shaped entirely anew, but only by gradual reconstruction."

Anyway, have a great weekend everyone!

p.s. for more on Apollo 13:


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Welcome to the 2012 Semester!

Hi everyone,
welcome to the blog for NTRES 3320 for the fall semester.  Have fun with posting and with discussions.