All posts by Dean DeSeve

The meat debate

A growing number of people are becoming vegetarian. Whether it is for environmental, religious, or philosophical reasons, people are giving up meat. Though there are many reasons not to eat meat, meat eaters have one major point: meat tastes good. It’s hard to deny that meat substitutes, no matter how much they try to emulate a cut of succulent sirloin, or a beautiful hamburger, they don’t come close. I’ve sampled many meat substitutes, and they are somehow different. Tofu is often extremely poorly prepared, left cold and terribly under/overdone. The impossible meats try too hard to be close to meat, down to the scents, the grilling experience, and bleeding. For now, we don’t have meat substitutes that are perfect, and their imperfection makes them bland.

Meat takes much more resources per calorie to grow, including water, calories, fertilizers, and fossil fuels, as well as a whole slew of public health issues related to animal dung causing algae blooms. Another issue is that antibiotic resistant bacteria can originate in the cramped conditions that animals are raised in. Vegetables tend to be more ethical, in terms of the environment and morals. Our ocean’s waters have been chronically overfished, driving some species close to extinction, and aquaculture is far from perfect. With climate change, going vegetarian seems appealing.

There is a convincing ethical argument for going vegetarian. Pigs, lambs, chickens, and cows all have brains, and can feel pain like humans. There are some who think that farm animals could be pets if raised in different conditions. We are removed from the actual death of our food, and this can give us a removed perspective, where we don’t have to deal with the animals’ dying breaths. I am somewhat unfit to judge my choices of eating meat, because I have been withdrawn from the death of farm animals. 

Meat is not essential. We have plenty of alternatives for obtaining protein, but meat has been ingrained into our cuisine. It is hard to find good vegetarian options for most meals, and this tries vegetarians. Vegetarian cuisine can be excellent, but the complete absence of meat would be hard to achieve. Meat is here until some calamitous event or radical change occurs, but going vegetarian is an admiral choice. 

Sixth Grade Zoo Trip

By Ellis Fast 

  On January 31, the sixth graders went to the Philadelphia Zoo. It wasn’t exactly the warmest day, but it wasn’t crowded. We got to see some animals and it was less stressful for the teachers than normal classes. Even in those circumstances, some groups got lost or lost track of time. Overall, it was extremely fun. 

Some of the animals that we saw were a wide selection of primates that we saw in the primate house. They include the Common Squirrel Monkey. The monkeys like to eat fruit and insects. They become almost completely independent between 5-8 months. They can live for 15 years in the wild, but in captivity, for example in a zoo, they can live for up to 20 years. The ones that we saw were swinging about their room. Our tour guide said that the zookeepers needed to keep them entertained for their health, so they installed interesting things like ropes and switches on the walls. We saw the same thing occurring in the Gorilla’s room, where, to keep their brains occupied, zookeepers hid treats among the hay on the ground so the Gorillas would constantly be looking for them. 

We also saw a wide selection of birds at the McNeil Avian Center. The McNeil Avian Center is an amazing bird sanctuary at the zoo that displays many different breeds. There is a room that has trees and has no barrier between you and the birds. In the room, there is a Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise. It mainly eats fruit and arthropods and they have really bright fluffy tail feathers that they use for attracting a mate. When we were there, we saw it ruffling its feathers and cawing to its mate. When calling, they stick their tail feathers out behind them and flap their wings. The room was very hot and humid as to make the room seem like their environment. Hanging flaps separated the rooms to keep the birds from escaping. 

However, some of the birds like the ducks and the Royal Palm Turkeys, but especially the Peacocks, are allowed to roam around the zoo. There are a total of four Peacocks at the zoo and once in 2018 they escaped and were found strutting down Interstate 76. One was found dead and the State Police shut down multiple lanes to get them back to the zoo, but the other three got away and went miles from the zoo. Two of them were found two and a half miles away by a city resident at the Equestrian center in Fairmount Park, which is a horse riding school. But why would a peacock go to a horse riding school? Did they want to become Peacock Jockeys?  What happened to the other Peacock? 

We also saw big mammals around the place, including giraffes. Giraffes are a vulnerable species meaning that they are not quite endangered but should be taken notice of. Giraffes can live up to 28 years in captivity and 20-25 years in the wild. They eat 75 pounds of food a day and can run up to 35 mph. The Philadelphia Zoo recently welcomed a new baby giraffe in 2018, named Beau. He was born to Gus and Stella, and his older sister, Abigail, is celebrating her 10th birthday this year. 
The Philadelphia Zoo is an amazing place and the sixth graders had the amazing opportunity to see it in the winter. 

Camping trips: Which one is the best?

Ask any teacher what you’ll remember when you look back on middle school, they’ll say the camping trip. Each camping trip is meant to bond you with your classmates, and maybe help you understand the wilderness more. Each camping trip gets shorter the older you are, with the sixth grade trip being much longer than MOSAIC.

The sixth grade camping trip (my personal favorite) takes place at Hickory Run State Park in Pennsylvania. It has many hikes with your homeroom, including the stream hike and the boulder field. It was an amazing bonding experience, and definitely brought our homeroom together.  We had to prepare our own food, which was a major trust building event. Sam Spear, an eighth grader, said it was his favorite trip because, “There were more hikes, there was more woods experience.”

Continue reading Camping trips: Which one is the best?

Phones Kept in Locker Purgatory!

One of the newest peeves of eighth graders is the cell phone policies. It’s against the rules for an eighth grader to have a phone in their pocket or their bag during school hours. It wasn’t announced until after the farm show, well after the beginning of the year. Gossip across grades informed students airdropping inappropriate videos to teachers on the bus on the way back from the farm show. Continue reading Phones Kept in Locker Purgatory!

Scythe is an Interesting Utopia/Dystopia

Neal Shusterman’s book Scythe paints an interesting contrast between life without death, and now. It is set in a “post mortal” world where there is no death, but in order to control population, people must kill. These people are scythes. They are chosen from the ranks of the best people in the world, the people who don’t want to be scythes. Continue reading Scythe is an Interesting Utopia/Dystopia