To Change Everything…Start Anywhere (Goodbye, TNTSU!)

This post marks the end of an era. Over five years ago, in the hot summer of 2010, I started this blog as a way to post about things that mattered to me, to promote veganism, to interview cool people, and to have an outlet to speak my mind. The Nail That Sticks Up has served that goal in spades!

My life has changed dramatically sense then. Relationships, jobs, lovers, friends, beliefs, cities, apartments, and lifestyles have come and gone. Some I miss, others I am glad to have moved away from. I’m still vegan, still straight-edge, still trying to love the only life I have (as a secular humanist) and make it better for others (both human and non-human).

I’ve posted about CrimethInc often because I’m often inspired by their anarchistic, pro-love, anti-authority, balls-to-the-wall, fuck-capitalism approach to life. It rules. I’ve decided I’m not going to waste time wishing I updated this blog more, and instead, simply move on! My words will find a place if they truly need to take up space on the internet (Medium, perhaps?). Those who want to keep up with me will. And the articles that are still here will forever be cached in Google (a good thing, too, because people loooove my Sentinelese piece!)

To change everything, start anywhere. So I’m starting here, and saying goodbye to TNTSU. It served me well for five years and was an excellent springboard to my next venture. What that will be, I don’t know yet – and that’s the exciting part!

Thanks to you, the reader, the commenter, the troll, the instigator, the friend, and inspiration, or the Google bot who gave me a trackback. Hails!

Sam is the author of this blog and occasionally likes to write about himself in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter at @sam_metal.

Fall In Love, Join the Revolution*

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of love recently, and how it can simultaneously propel someone to greatness, but also induce massive anxiety. Does the object of my love feel the same way? Do they love someone else? Am I loving too soon (or even too late)?

While my propensity to love, quote, and praise CrimethInc is not hidden, it’s often through their anarchistic lens that I find so much to comfort myself when it comes to love. “Love like you’ve never lost” graces their gift wrap when they mail you books (along with the follow-up: “Fight like you’ve never won”). Isn’t that a novel concept? To love like you’ve never lost. Meaning, simply, to not dwell on past relationships that may have failed or gotten fucked up; to get back up and try again – move on! – NOT, as was immortalized in the 1995 movie Hackers “mess with the best, die like the rest.” No, you don’t die, silly: you learn and grow stronger!

I can’t miss this opportunity to critique Christianity, and will do with the eloquent words of A.C. Grayling whom my mother has been a fan of recently and loves to quote. When speaking about his book “The Choice of Hercules,” Grayling responds a to comment about “moral failure”:

It’s one theme and one very dominant strand of Christian morality that if you commit a sin it’s an almost ineradicable stain on your soul and you may well have to pay for it, especially in a posthumous dispensation. It might be millions of years in purgatory or something. Whereas the Greeks had a much healthier attitude to this; they thought of doing something wrong as a mistake, as a sort of misfired shot. They likened it, in fact, to shooting an arrow at a target and if you miss, well, you just simply try better next time, you learn the lesson, pick yourself up and you move on. This very, very practical and I think rather healthy attitude means that people can regard the experience of trying to be moral, trying to live an ethical life that is full of satisfactions and achievements in the end is one that you can get better at rather than get worse at.

To me, the idea of a “moral failure” lives deep within someone who has failed relationships; a relationship where they took a chance, loved hard, and fell flat on their face. If this happens just a few times, the idea of falling in love with someone new can become perniciously avoided, even to the extreme that a walled stone fortress lives around the heart of such person. While my path of love has earned me enough to live without this bastion, such a guarded life doesn’t seem like the existence of someone – man, women, or otherwise – in their fullness (a phrase I’ll borrow from the writings of Robert Moore and archetype-based psychology).

In the modern age, love should be reveled in, and given as freely as possible. Science backs this, although from the traditional standpoint of a monogamous relationship, but also offers clues about how to keep the “spark” alive and fall in love all over again. See “The Psychology Of Loves That Last A Lifetime” on HuffPo recently. Science isn’t biased, however, and researchers from the other end of the spectrum are working on an anti-love drug (a la Eternal Sunshine) with uses from erasing a bad memory to treating trauma victims. But what if it has a bad reaction…? Ah, the possibilities.

CrimethInc’s chapter on “Love” from Days of War, Nights of Love, is worth a read, and reading 10-15 years after its original publication makes me enjoy the ethos evermore. Love is rebellion, love is revolution, love is an act that we can truly engage in without commodification, without interference from capitalism. That is, if we are honest and open, anyway. That sounds like an environment that I can support, and wish to create for myself, my lover, my family, and friends…

One might say that it is ridiculous to implore others to fall in love—one either falls in love or one does not, it is not a choice that can be made consciously. Emotions do not follow the instructions of the rational mind. But the environment in which we must live out our lives has a great influence on our emotions, and we can make rational decisions that will affect this environment. It should be possible to work to change an environment that is hostile to love into an environment that will encourage it. Our task must be to engineer our world so that it is a world in which people can and do fall in love, and thus to reconstitute human beings so that we will be ready for the “revolution” spoken of in these pages—so that we will be able to find meaning and happiness in our lives.


*I must attribute this phrase to Shane Becker, the “veganstraightedge” on all social media ever, who likely “stole” (not really, see the copyright of this blog) it from CrimethInc, and I’ve actually modified it to say “revolution” as perhaps a new way of loving, without fear of failure or harm, can be a revolution of sorts.

Photo: Daniela Hartmann, Flickr

Oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline And Support the Blockade

Tar Sands Protest

“On November 19 2012 in East Texas, Lizzie Alvarado, Ben Reynoso and Julie Henry climbed up sixty feet into trees to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and prevent the destruction of a swath of forest. The lifelines supporting their platforms were tied to construction equipment, preventing any work from being done. After a nine hour stand-off with police and workers, a cherry picker arrived. A crowd of local supporters surged into the road to block the truck but were dispersed when a sheriff emptied an entire can of police-grade pepper spray into the crowd. Police used the cherry picker to take all three tree-sitters into custody. Ben, Lizzy and Julie were each charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass, felony mischief, and felony use of a criminal instrument. Altogether, these charges could lead to imprisonment for several years and fines of tens of thousands of dollars.”

The Keystone XL Pipeline is a game changer; a behemoth of oil and carbon-emitting nightmares that our own president approved the construction of, an about-face on his supposed fight of climate change that still leaves us reeling. Amid the protests, controversy, and massive scientific evidence that building this thing will do nothing but destroy our earth, a motley crew of individuals have taken to direct action put a stop to this menace.

That would be the Tar Sands Blockade, and I’m proud to call one of their activists, Julie Henry, my friend. As you read above, she was involved in an action last year that could result in massive fines and jail time, and I encourage those who support her cause, and the cause of protecting our country and earth from the woes of fossil fuel, to donate.

The construction of this pipeline will not reduce gas prices, it will not reduce our foreign oil consumption, it will not create jobs, and it will destroy sensitive lands throughout the US, drive native tribes and other residents out of their homes. It will also spill (as these pipelines are built to), and release more than enough carbon into the atmosphere (through drilling, transport, and burning) to wreck the earth for good. See more facts and figures here.

I don’t know about you, but I would like a livable earth in 50 years. For that to happen, we have to fight today! As CrimethInc says, expect resistance! 

Top 5 Posts For 2012

As the year comes to a close, I’m a bit saddened by the lack of posts on TNTSU. I have no one to blame but myself, mind you, but it’s often hard to find the time and motivation to write, research, and coalate thoughts in a presentable form that one is happy with. You are your own worst critic, right? Still, I have hope for the blog and whatever form it may take in 2013, be it a more personal narrative, simply an archive of information, or a full-on vegan propaganda machine (ha!). But 2012 did give us some great posts, and below are the five that exemplify both my writing and the spirit of the blog. Read on:

#5 – Committed To A Wood Burning World

This post was inspired by Sam Harris’ incredible article about the perils of wood smoke, and how our reaction to such an “outrageous” claim is the same thing that believers feel when we state that there is no god, heaven isn’t real, or Mohammed wasn’t really a prophet. His post was widely received and I filled in a bit of the background research, along with some commentary of my own. Consequently, any bonfire I now attend is met with a high level of skepticism, much to the chagrin of my bonfire-loving friends!

#4 – How To Take Any Compliment

I’m continually inspired by Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements and subsequent books on Toltec wisdom. Religious aspects aside, the ideas he presents are pure gold: don’t take anything personally, always do your best, free yourself of emotion poison, etc. Along with not taking the negative side of life personally, we should strive not to take the positive too personally, either. This is most exemplified by our society’s vast inability to take compliments. They’re either downplayed, dismissed, scorned, or weakly returned. I tried to illustrate strategies for how to take any compliment, from the mundane to the sincere.

#3 – 5 Things You Should Post More Of On Facebook

I’ve often thought that there should be instruction manuals for some of the basic things in life. Not that Facebook is very basic, but when you signed up, did anyone ever give you precursor of what you should post? We sort of infer what to post based on what our friends post, and that can quickly turn into – to put it bluntly – a lot of “bitching and moaning.” In the post I cover five positive topics that I think people should post more of. The theme is the usual be-thankful-be-grateful motto, mixed in with some modern technology.

 #2 – Ask Me Why I’m Veg[etari]an (AR 2012 Guest Post)

I had my friend Ethan write about his experiences during the whirlwind that was AR2012. He did a much better job than I, and got this to me within just a few days of the conclusion of the conference. The National Animal Rights Conference showed me that we are heading towards a vegan society, and Ethan eloquently described all the ways we are going to get there.

#1 – Kindness is King: Interview with Philip Wollen

I’ll admit this is #1 partly because it’s one of the most popular articles on the blog, with quite a few shares, likes, and tweets. But it’s also powerful. Philip Wollen has a story to inspire animal rights advocates everywhere, leaving a life of wealth and power to concentrate on saving our earth and its species. His responses are genuine, kind, and real. He was brought into the limelight with a spellbinding ten minute YouTube clip back in May of this year. My favorite quote is this:

I am always perplexed when people question Sea Shepherd’s “direct” action. It seems a tautology. What is “indirect” action? I wonder what any of us would do if we saw a kitten or a puppy being beaten to death in the street. Indirect action?

See you in 2013, if the world doesn’t end before then!

Food “Waste” Reaches A New Low

Hot on the heels of NPR’s interesting the discussion about food waste from Science Friday comes a story that could almost be pulled out of the Onion:

Sweet times for cows as gummy worms replace costly corn feed
Mike Yoder’s herd of dairy cattle are living the sweet life. With corn feed scarcer and costlier than ever, Yoder increasingly is looking for cheaper alternatives — and this summer he found a good deal on ice cream sprinkles. […]

In the mix are cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, even dried cranberries. Cattlemen are feeding virtually anything they can get their hands on that will replace the starchy sugar content traditionally delivered to the animals through corn.

The article goes on to say that in addition to the junk food – truly a “waste” of food – that the cattle are being fed, they’ll get other by-products of ethanol production, cottonseed hulls, rice and potato by-products, and more. We’re already subsidizing the meat, dairy, and grain industries in this country: is the candy industry next?

Cows are natural grass-eaters – a fact that can get you in trouble, and they like to graze, eating grass, flax, shrubs: stuff that fills them up and gives them plenty of fiber (John Robbins has a good discussion of this, though I don’t agree with eating grass-fed beef). The whole idea of feeding them corn, soy, and other grain mixtures is that it fattens them up, or allows their caloric needs to be met very cheaply, compared to the enormous cost of allowing them to graze and roam freely. Especially with dairy, since they need to be corralled up to be raped¹, milked, and later “processed” (into low-grade meat, or veal if they are the unlucky male calves) it makes sense to keep them in a feedlot or stalls rather than roaming around.

The whole thing is just ridiculous. Producing corn to make junk food, which stores well, now being fed to cows, to produce milk, which we stupidly think is a health food, then eaten by the masses because it’s cheap and subsidized…ah! It’s enough to make you believe in government conspiracies. Stop the madness, quit breeding cows for milk and cheese, and go vegan.

Thanks to Ashley A. for the heads-up on this corn-based insanity.

Photo: Smudge 9000

1. For more on why I use this word, see this short video on “female exploitation” in the dairy industry. Rape is rape, regardless of the species.