Interconnected

All posts made in Jun. 2019:

Meat and gratitude

There's a bunch of fuss about Beyond Burger rn regarding

  • ingredients - I'd mentally filed Beyond as "healthy plant-based" whereas it's a ton of bad-for-you vegetable oil and really should be sceptically thought of as "heavily processed"
  • carbon footprint - beef is bad

I'm excited about these new vegan burgers because

  • "artificial" does not necessarily equal "bad" so I'm in principle ok with the heavily-processed thing (though I'm concerned in how this is being obfuscated)
  • the meat and dairy industry sucks
  • yes, carbon footprint: as a society, we need to wean ourselves off things that are killing our planet
  • new flavours, good stuff

BUT: thought experiment:

  • Would I prefer not to eat heavily processed foods? Yes
  • If the carbon footprint of meat could be reduced to something closer to plant-based burgers, using a combination of reduced frequency of consumption and hand-wavey magic, would that reduce my discomfort? Yes
  • In that situation, would I still eat meat, assuming it came from a source that wasn't unnecessarily cruel? Yes.
  • The big question: would I still feel uncomfortable about it? Yes.

Why my remaining discomfort? Because animals are, well, animals. They're people too. I've known a bunch of animals, and we're all people in different ways. That fact is hard to reconcile with eating them.

For me, I do continue to eat meat (although less than I used). But I think a lot of my discomfort around it - environmentally, the agro-industry, health - is displacement from the hard-to-digest fact that, when I've met a cow, they're super nice to hang out with, and I could see us being friends. And that feeling isn't going to go away.

I have a hunch that our inability to deal with the immensity of this gift - this animal-person who has been killed so I can have my dinner - means that, either deep down or out loud, we end up denying there's a gift or any kind of trade-off at all, hence the tribalism, and lack of sensible discussion, around the adjacent topics of health, carbon, and so on.

Or, to put it another way

The slip-sliding and dissembling around health benefits/carbon/etc makes me think that a bigger issue is being psychologically avoided. And for me, maybe that issue is "meat tastes great" vs "holy shit animals are people too" which is so hard to reconcile that it gets repressed, and repressed feelings come out in weird ways.

So here's my solution, because without addressing the core matter of co-personhood, nothing else will work

I like that being vegan is a movement, in a way that being vegetarian was a movement in the 1980s, or Atkins in the early 2000s. These are lifestyle choices that bring alignment with the body and the planet by promoting practice changes and introducing a new kind of mindfulness.

Could there be a similar movement that embraces some of the logic behind the Beyond Burger, but also includes meat?

Here's my suggestion:

  • a selective diet that is vegetarian except it allows meat when that meat is from a known local source, farmed with care, and not consumed with great frequency
  • when such meat is eaten, a prayer of gratitude is said to the animal

I am a big believer in vocalised gratitude as a means towards mindfulness, but mainly towards being able to accept the weight, meaning, obligation, and reciprocity of a gift.

Once gratitude is internalised and the gift of sacrifice is accepted, I've a feeling that the rest will fall into place. In short: a more balanced relationship between the food we need to live as individuals, and the planet we need to live together.

Ok so this is just saying grace. But oriented towards the animal.

I wonder if there could be a single phrase which expresses gratitude for the gift?

And something, unlike the traditional and passive For what we are about to receive..., that acknowledges my actions and choices that have brought about this meal of meat and all that it required? Said out loud, it would promote discussion and maybe even spread...

Grativore!

One year of Job Garden weeknotes, with links

I missed the anniversary: it's now week 61 of Job Garden. I write weeknotes on the Job Garden blog and they're invisible here, so to rectify that: here are links to all the posts to date. Expect a combination of feature releases and rambling tangents about the old days of the internet.

This is more for me than you, so I'll point out any particular post which I think is worth a read.

Until this point, Job Garden was personal: just a place for me to share jobs at companies I'm connected with in some way (i.e. that I've invested in either personally or more likely via R/GA Ventures, or ones I advise, or they're run by mates).

Now, as an experiment, since a few others had asked if they could also use Job Garden, I started opening it up a bit.

But still very much a hobby. That's one of the things I like about Job Garden: it's well within my comfort zone to build and design, so as a hobby it's perfect because it's about craft and doing things "properly"... and whether that means "100% working" or "opinionated" I'll leave open.

Here's a post in its own section because it still gets a bunch of traffic. So maybe you would like to read it too?

These next few months feel like their own chapter... adding a few more friends to garden their own job boards, and the general data and design improvements required in consequence:

Ah, and at this point Stella was born. So everything stopped until week 50.

That 17 week period - four and a bit months - was interesting (baby aside, which of course is interesting and joyful and awesome and all kinds of superlatives, but I'm talking about JG here) because it gave me room to think about Job Garden. And remember it's still a hobby at this point!

Coming into 2019, a handful of my users got in touch and asked for additional features. So I looked at what I'd built and I thought: it's rare that you make something that does a valuable thing and also people want to use it enough that they're requesting features. Then I thought: I should take this more seriously.

So the chapter that follows is the chapter of: work on Job Garden enough that I can tell whether or not to take it seriously.

I'm not on JG full time. I'm working on other things too. I get up at 6 and work on Job Garden then, and I work at night after the family have gone to bed. During the day I often work on JG but I also have other gigs, and I'm a parent too, and the parent bit gets priority.

Perhaps there's something commercial in Job Garden that doesn't compromise the value it provides to the startups I care about (that's one of our overriding principles. We've got 12.). Perhaps not, and if there's not then the worst thing that will happen is that we've built something good.

The goal for this year is to figure out whether there is something commercial and uncompromising there. If that's the case, I'll take JG seriously at that point.

So the rest of the weeknotes (till now, I guess) are in that chapter.

They are also less frequent, and seem to be more about feature releases although of course with regular tangents. Here:

That brings us up to date.

Reading all these weeknotes back, just now, it also feels like the end of a chapter, or at least a subchapter: having shipped autotags and the new design, Job Garden basically represents what was in my head pre week 1. Sure there needs to be more data on which to pivot, and more ways to receive alerts about new jobs, etc, and there is a ton to do around that, but that's all just a matter of colouring between the lines.

I feel like now everything's on the table; the basic Lego bricks have been made; the frame has been created. So it's time to figure out what to do with those pieces, and the motivations for what to prioritise from the roadmap (which is big believe me) will be different from what they've been so far.

Which means year 2 will feel different. Exactly how I'll have to see in next year's retrospective.