Not particularly notable day (and dietary justifications)

2005-11-18

in Daily updates, Oxford, Science, The environment

Today's early morning fire drill in Wadham

Just a short post today: not very much happened and there is a great deal of work to be done on the two essays if I am to have them finished before Nick gets here.

We all got woken up brutally early this morning by a Wadham College fire drill and mandatory evacuation. Every room in library court has a dedicated alarm for wailing you out of bed, with the promise of college enforcers coming up afterwards to ensure that you have vacated. Down in the back quad, we huddled in circles in the cold and the yellow morning light, breath visible, grumbling about the timing of the test.

So here’s the (ambitious) plan for the next few days:

  1. Finish a draft of the paper on the Chinese Civil War (tomorrow).
  2. Finish a draft of the (unstarted) paper on American isolationism in the interwar period, based on the reading for my presentation and journal articles (Saturday).
  3. Edit both papers myself (Sunday morning).
  4. Meet with Bryony to swap and look over respective papers (Sunday evening).
  5. Conduct final, final revisions on both (Monday)
  6. Submit China paper to Andrew Hurell via inter-college mail (Tuesday).
  7. Submit American foreign policy paper in class (Tuesday).

In the evening, I took part in a brief foray to the King’s Arms with Ben, Andy, Abra, and some of the other members of library court. The place was quite thoroughly packed – standing room only – but also pleasantly devoid of smoke. It was good to have a bit of social contact with my neighbours: a thing that has largely been absent since 0th week. (Pronounced ‘noughth.’)

After the expedition, I wrote a few emails (to Astrid, Sarah, and Margaret), uploaded a few photos to my Facebook account, and got back to reading about China. I think the way to tackle this essay is to discuss two periods. First, the one between the start of fighting in China between the Japanese and the Chinese communists and nationalists and the outbreak of the broader war in Asia. Second, the period that began after the dropping of the atomic bombs and the Japanese surrender. In each period, there was clearly a lot of foreign influence. I plan to argue that, while the communist takeover would have been impossible without certain things that outside powers did (particularly the Japanese weakening the Kuomintang), the ideology and policy of the communists was not defined by outside actors. It certainly wasn’t the offshoot of Russian communism that Americans sometimes saw it as being, though the Soviet withdrawal from parts of northern China was definitely conducted in a way that aided the CCP, at the expense of the KMT.

Tomorrow morning, I am meeting Margaret for a brief walk before the statistics lab. After so many instances of talking with her at length on the phone, despite the five minute walk between our respective domiciles, it will be nice to communicate face to face.


In response to Sarah’s blog post tonight, I realized that the justification for my slightly unusual diet it buried in the offline pages of the old blog. The first part of my policy is to not eat meat that has been factory farmed. Basically, there are three reasons for it. The first is because factory farming is environmentally unsustainable. The second is the way in which it is conducted is hygienically repulsive: feeding animals ground up bits of members of their own species is seriously dodgy. The same goes for lacing them with hormones and antibiotics. The third reason is that I think even chickens, cows, and pigs are morally considerable enough that the animals should not be made to live in such horrific conditions. They are far more badly treated than animals that are having medical research conducted upon them, as detailed in this leader from The Economist. As it explains: “The couple of million (mainly rats and mice) that die in Britain’s laboratories are far better looked-after and far more humanely killed than the billion or so (mainly chickens) on Britain’s farms.” 

I also try to avoid eating fish that are farmed (for most of the same reasons) and those caught in an unsustainable fashion. People seem to believe that fish farming is a sustainable option. Really, they are just catching less tasty fish, grinding them up and feeding them – along with plenty of antibiotics and hormones – to salmon or something else that is tasty. Given that the less savoury fish – like blue whiting or orange roughy- are being fished in a grossly unsustainable way, fish farming is really no better than gill-netting. Worse, in many senses, since it pollutes the sea with hormones and other chemicals.

PS. Due to the wrecking efforts of a particular individual in Lancaster, I’ve had to turn on comment moderation. Anything inoffensive will be approved. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Hilary November 18, 2005 at 2:37 am

How long do you think it would take a package sent from vancouver to reach you?

V.A.K November 18, 2005 at 2:42 am

Kudos to you for (unlike much of Western civilization) considering the repercussions of what you put in your mouth.

Milan November 18, 2005 at 9:09 am

Hilary,

Normal mail seems to take a few weeks, but they could probably give you a more exact answer at a post office.

Anonymous November 18, 2005 at 12:46 pm

The point your friend makes about antibiotic resistance is excellent.

B November 18, 2005 at 2:13 pm

It’s a shame that you feel the need to moderate comments, though I can understand your reasoning. With Google indexing comments as well as actual posts, you have a connection to everything posted, even if not a direct responsibility. I suppose this is the eternal problem of communities as they become open: problematic individuals get inside and force the creation of internal barriers. For a system that you don’t want to defend at the periphery, there is no other option.

Ben November 19, 2005 at 1:40 pm

I’m glad we got fire drills over at the start of term. It really is so cold now, I might rather take my chances inside. At least if there’s a fire I’ll be warm!

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