This is the companion piece to my short story, The Moralbiont. It will discuss some of the references and science from the story. If you have not read the story yet, I would highly advise reading it first.
The conversation between Olivia and her grandfather about his thesis supposedly being covered in cow skin is a reference to a question from the Voight-Kampff test. In the Blade Runner franchise, the Voight-Kampff test is administered to those suspected of being a replicant, a human-like android lacking empathy. By monitoring the physiological responses to questions about shocking or repellent situations, you are able to tell if the subject is a real human or a replicant. I have neither seen Ridley Scott’s classic Blade Runner film nor read the original novel by Philip K. Dick but I did play the 1997 video-game which is where I became aware of the question.
Like my briefcase? Department issue, baby hide. 100% genuine human baby hide.
There’s an article in The Atlantic written by two ex-vegetarians and one who is still a vegetarian but supports other people’s decision to eat meat. However I find their arguments that vegetarianism is not the best way to a healthy, ethical, and ecologically sound diet unconvincing.
The strangest of the three here is Nicolette as she still maintains her vegetarianism, strengthened during her early years as an ecological lawyer, but supports meat consumption after seeing well-run pasture and sustainable farms.
Animals can increase soil fertility, contribute to pest and weed control, and convert vegetation that’s inedible to humans, and growing on marginal, uncultivated land, into food. And as I visited dozens of traditional, pasture-based farms, and came to know the farmers and ranchers, I saw impressive environmental stewardship and farm animals leading good lives.