Real Vegan Cheese:
A quick update on the Real Vegan Cheese project that I have previously written about, technical work on the project is also coming along nicely but the team really needs your support so they have launched a new crowd funding campaign. Check out the video below,
You can also check out this article in the Eastbay Express called Inside The Ethical Cheese Lab by Sam Levin. Please support this project if you can. Not only could it make a really awesome, and yummy, product but it offers a great model for getting people more interested in and knowledgeable about science. One of the great things about DIYbio groups is the opportunity for students and the general public to learn and get involved, I even got to do a little cloning work myself.
Eden Foods and Birth Control:
The christian-owned craft store Hobby Lobby has been in the news recently due to their opposition to paying for birth control under health care law. A decision which was recently supported by the Supreme Court, despite much public outcry. But what is your favorite soymilk tainted by religious irrationality? To find out have a look at Organic Eden Foods’ quiet right-wing agenda & Eden Foods doubles down in birth control flap by Irin Carmon. And for what it is worth you can also read the response from the president of Eden Foods.
I do also wonder how this will affect the argument by some vegans that they should be exempt from vaccine mandates for “religious” reasons. Is it possible we could see other vegan owned companies denying coverage for the yearly flu shot? I am far from a legal scholar so I would love for someone to school me in the comment section.
I find that many people are very quick to uncritically accept stories of amazing or surprising animal abilities and behaviors and tend to ascribe human characteristics and motivation to such behavior. I get it, it, for lack of a better word, “humanizes” the other. While I certainly believe that the gulf between “human” and “animal” is an artificial one of semantics, I think that taking a skeptical look at anthropomorphism is important (especially since it is anthropocentric) and that we should examine individual cases critically. Animals need not be “like us” in order to matter.
Recently a video of bumblebee “rescuing” another bee from a spider web in a swift and bold move has been making the rounds.
But Professor of Biology Dave Goulson explains that what the video actually shows is
“a second bee…comes crashing in, falls on its back and thrashes around a bit. As the second bee flails around on its back, it looks in one frame as if it stings the spider.
In fact, what one can see is the rear leg of the bee which happens to line up with the tip of the abdomen for a moment. It is too long and thick for a bee sting. The spider runs away, and the bees break free (as bumblebees usually do from spider’s webs).
So, sorry, this is not a noble, brave act, much as I might like it to be. This is just two clumsy bees trying to find their way home.”
Every now and then I will see a post about Elephants that can paint, sometimes it is even touted as a way to raise money to protect elephants. But upon closer examination this practice is generally one of tremendous exploitation and abuse. So it was nice to hear this myth addressed in a recent presentation from Scot Bastian for the Seattle Skeptics. You can listen to the presentation here and find the companion post here.