The Paradox of Backyard Hens

James McWilliams on some problems with keeping backyard chickens.

For those without the fortitude to self-slaughter, keeping older hens as companion animals is also an option. This choice, too, has a downside–one that applies to the chickens while they’re laying as well. Backyard chickens are like fish in a barrel for predators. As a quick perusal of any on-line forum for chicken keepers will attest, chickens frequently fall prey to dogs, hawks, skunks, coyotes, foxes, and, notoriously, raccoons. Owners often declare themselves completely helpless to protect their birds. Forcing chickens into semi-secure locations and inhibiting their natural survival tactics is in the same vein as a hunter loading a feeder with corn and sitting above it in a deer blind. And that’s no way to treat a pet.

UN official urges vegetarian diet to combat climate change

It’s frustrating how often I read “What you can do about global warming”-style articles that don’t mention vegetarianism. So I’m happy that Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is now highlighting meat production’s role in climate change in his speeches.

UN data says that meat production accounts for about 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, topping even transportation, which accounts for 13% of worldwide emissions. The UN included all aspects of meat production, when arriving at the 18% figure: clearing land, creation and transportation of fertilizers, burning fuels in farm vehicles, and the emissions coming directly from cows and sheep.

Wired Profile of David Allen

Wired has a profile of Getting Things Done guru David Allen. It includes the weird story of Allen’s involvement with a cult-like New Age church. I don’t think I’m being brainwashed by my Weekly Reviews and my Next Action lists ;)

New Backpack

37signals have released a new version of Backpack and it’s pretty spiffy. Search is awesome and the increased draggability is nice. However, they seem to have screwed up the one feature that I’ve been waiting two years for: moving things between pages. They’ve added this feature but you can only move entire lists, not individual list items. This is particularly import to us GTDers who need to move items around between our Next Actions, Waiting For, and Someday/Maybe lists. I may be moving to Remember the Milk, which does this and has keyboard shortcuts and lets you move individual items.

The Danger of the One-Sided Debate

An anti-vegan op-ed piece in the New York Times has received some fairly righteous debunking in an article by the Times’ Public Editor.

Rachelle Leesen, a clinical nutritionist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told me that Planck’s article “was extremely inflammatory and full of misinformation.” She and her colleague Brenda Waber pointed me to a 2003 paper by the American Dietetic Association, the nation’s largest organization for food and nutrition professionals. After reviewing the current science, the A.D.A., together with the Dietitians of Canada, declared, “Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence.”
Via [Taste Better].

Bumps and bruises are ‘good for children’

Sane advice for parents from a British safety organization.

Peter Cornall, head of leisure safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “We need to ask ourselves whether it is better for a child to break a wrist falling out of a tree, or to get a repetitive strain wrist injury at a young age from using a computer or video games console.

“Parents and children must not be frightened about venturing outside. When children spend time in the great outdoors, getting muddy, getting wet, getting stung by nettles, they learn important lessons – what hurts, what is slippery, what you can trip over or fall from. We need to try to break down the perceived safety barriers to playing outside.