Weekly Link Roundup

Some scattered thoughts to contemplate on a Saturday morning:

• Earlier this year, my post on urban agriculture drew some spirited disagreement. Now there’s a study from Ohio State University which concludes that Cleveland could supply all its own produce, poultry and honey if the many vacant lots in the shrinking, post-industrial city were converted into gardens.

• A Missouri high school, in response to a complaint from a homeschooling parent who doesn’t even have kids in the school, has banned Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer from its library. In response, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis is offering to send free copies of the book to any student in the school who wants one. They’re asking for donations to cover their shipping costs, so please consider chipping in a few dollars if you can afford it.

Cosmos is being remade by Fox, with a production team including Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy (!). The fact that the creative team includes Ann Druyan, and the proposed host is Neil deGrasse Tyson (who knew Carl Sagan personally), gives me hope that the result will be good.

• Did you know that California permits its prison inmates to have vegetarian meals only for religious reasons, and not out of secular moral convictions? Another example of the unjust privilege that’s often accorded to religion as more real or more sincere than other kinds of beliefs.

• New York’s Woodlawn Cemetery is selling multimillion-dollar mausoleums for the deceased wealthy. I’ve tried without success to imagine the mindset that would lead someone to spend millions of dollars on a lavish container for their own corpse, rather than giving it away to living people who have genuine needs.

• Cult leader Warren Jeffs has been re-convicted of child sexual assault, this time in Texas, after an earlier conviction in Utah was overturned on a legal technicality. He probably didn’t help his case by threatening the court with plagues for daring to put him on trial.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Eric

    I’m not all that much into promoting the secular agenda through lawsuits, let ‘em pray before the football game I say, but when people are given some kind of accommodation for their religious beliefs, that same accommodation should be also given to anyone who wants it for any reason whatsoever.

    If Fatima wants to wear a headscarf at the department store cosmetics counter because she is a Muslim, then Joe the sports fan should be able to wear a baseball cap over in another department to support his team during the World Series. Who is to say that Joe’s desires are not as deeply felt.

    Likewise if vegetarian meals are available to those who wants them for religious reasons, surely an inmate who has been a vegetarian for ethical reasons for many years should get them too,

    Sue them. I am sick of religious people and their “special rights”.

  • http://journal.nearbennett.com Rick

    From the Jeffs article linked:

    “I will bring sickness and death.” –Warren Jeffs, speaking for God

    My first thought is, how would we know the difference? God brings sickness and death to everyone at some point in their lives. Seems a pathetic attempt at intimidation.

  • http://darkenedstumbling.blogspot.com/ Leum

    Not only that, but switching from a vegetarian to a meat-inclusive diet too quickly is often unhealthy.

  • Vin720

    Perhaps the guy who died had no relatives or those relatives already received a healthy inheritance. Either way, the people who work at the cemetery (probably middle class or lower) benefit from the money going there and giving them job security.

  • jemand

    Holy shit, I read through the old urban gardening comment thread.

    That was painful.

    *headdesk*

    Cool article on Cleveland though.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    What, no salesmen have come to sell us pesticides, fertilizer, and GMO seeds this time? I am in awe.

  • Alex Weaver

    I’ve tried without success to imagine the mindset that would lead someone to spend millions of dollars on a lavish container for their own corpse, rather than giving it away to living people who have genuine needs.

    I assume you’re referring to giving away the money, not the corpse?

    (Though either might do some good.)

    I’m drawing a blank on the urban gardening thread, but I’m guessing it contains a lot of unthinking industry cheerleaders, and a fair amount of mindless hate for “unnatural” GMOs rather than rational concerns about the way the technology may be applied and licensed. Do I win anything?

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    Mostly it was just Chet throwing out a lot of false claims that sounded an awful lot like advertising for industrial agriculture products, and implying that if people gardened instead of buying their super efficient harm-free magic foodstuffs civilization as we know it would collapse. (Sales by Fear)

    Good try on the “both sides” false dichotomy, though, Mr. Weaver.

  • Entomologista

    Troll harder, kagerato.

  • Brian M

    Keep on sellin’ those magic, harm-free pesticides, Entomologista!

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    I believe what I wrote and stand by its accuracy. I don’t write anything here merely to invoke emotional responses in people or to antagonize someone. It is interesting, though, that some people think Chet was being truthful, forthright, and had no preconceived purpose in writing what he did.

  • Entomologista

    I don’t write anything here merely to invoke emotional responses in people or to antagonize someone.

    Except for your very next sentence in which you call Chet a liar and assume anybody who disagrees with you is in the pocket of The Man:

    It is interesting, though, that some people think Chet was being truthful, forthright, and had no preconceived purpose in writing what he did.