Friday, January 30, 2009

"For years our efforts to address the climate crisis have been undermined by the idea that we must chose between our planet and our way of life, between our moral duty and economic well-being these are false choices," Gore told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
While he is heavily invested in the green tech sector, Gore has a point here that we would be wrong to dismiss due to his thoroughly compromised impartiality. The Republican led surge to obfuscate the scientific perspective on the impending peril was equally devoid of impartiality as a result of the coal and oil lobbies. Lest we forget, bush dismissed the science or actively subverted the findings of the scientists for 8 years. Are we to conclude from these two divergent and equally corrupted political viewpoints that we as "the people" will have to make the necessary changes ourselves? I certainly hope so.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Foxy Foxes

Last night in the quite benign, newly fallen snow, I found some welcome tranquility. I walked a mile or two down the road and then came back through the woods to the house. When I had gotten near to the fence and was about to crawl under I heard a fox. Those of you who are unfamiliar with the sound should try and find a recording online. It is distinct and somewhat disturbing but it is very nice to hear them as you almost never see them while walking and it is not at all the same to see them from the car. So I heard a fox off to my right and several hundred yards away and then to my astonishment another one ran towards the call from his spot about 10 yards away from me. It seemed to me that I was beneath his notice. That was a great feeling.
I wonder if we could stop global climate change by playing "Soave si il vento" from Cossi Fan Tutte really loud near the poles for a long time. I doubt it, but if you want to pay me I'd be willing to take on the comission.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Division of Labour -
I cannot possibly link to all the info you would need to read in order to keep up with me in this blog but that article by Jared Diamond is a good place to start. It would also behoove each of you to read "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. These blog topics always begin with an idea for me and then that idea continues to snowball as my internal focus leads me to discover that idea represented in myriad forms all around me for days on end. (It seems coincidental but is, actually, because of my obsession that my perspective is colored, a conversation for another day.)
That said, what I'd like to address is the "division of labor" problem that has been possessing me for a while now. I read a paper the other day by some old friends of mine that infuriated me not because of content, but as a result of omission. They are, I assure you, very intelligent people. However, they are responsible to a system that in order to keep functioning must grow, and in order to grow must attract interest in the form of investment. That system is a University. As a consequence they often fall into the trap of believing what they put in their grant proposals in order to get the funding they need to keep up the good work, keep fighting the good fight. It caused me to question how much of the reductionist science I read in graduate school was incentive based. When it involves crop research it involves food and where it involves food it inevitably affects an industry built up around tricking people into choosing their product. Thats the problem with the division of labor(D of L). It is an invention of society that induces development of a self-reinforcing (positive) feed back loop.
Have you ever considered your refrigerator? What did we do before we had them? Well that was so long ago they probably didn't even have civilization then right? Your grandparents (if they remain alive today (if not my condolences)) can remember a time when refrigerators where ACTUALLY ICEBOXES. They called them that because there was ice in them. A nice "iceman" drove around with ice in his truck and dropped it off at your house, just as the milkman once delivered milk, fresh from the utter. Now what does this have to do with D of L? Its all about incentive. Electric producing companies at that time had a monopoly on light production but that was about it. Producing and distributing electricity was expensive and these companies needed to sell more of their product to more and more consumers to maintain and build their infrastructure. The Electric Icebox is based on compressor technology developed by a guy who wanted to cool textile factory floors so people could work the machines for longer hours (not about their comfort but the machines' capabilities, this is still well prior to labour unions). Did anyone think about the ramifications of this new technology? Sure, the electric companies did. On both the manufacturing and consuming ends, it allowed for a massive new work force to be employed, further diversifying the types and increasing the numbers of jobs available to people who were now spending less and less time finding, preparing, and eating food.
I want you to stop eating processed food but I don't want Campbell's and Kraft to become victims of a change in consumer demand for their product and a weakening economy, because they employ people with children who would probably steal my food and eat it if they did not have their own. They are not going to grow it, to my knowledge they still haven't genetically engineered a Dorito tree. Im sure thats in the offing but we may have to wait a few years. Scientists are trying to stave off disaster from Climate Change by creating another extension of an incentive driven, D of L reinforcing, growth stimulating industrial process. The trick is to grow your own food and eat it, live in a house you built, and use energy you supply to yourself for free. If it seems tough, well, thats because it is.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Soup, its whats for dinner.

Heipa folks, I thought in the spirit of resolutions so pervasive this time of year I would try something different in terms of blogging. I made some soup yesterday. It was something approaching the epitome of comfort food. What follows is something of a recipe and something of a story, I hope you enjoy the story. I know you'll enjoy the soup.
So we start with a pan for frying 1lbs of Italian sausage. I grow my own herbs and spices and have access to home grown/raised sausage as well. For those less motivated, or those with less spare time on their hands, and that is most of you, Jimmie Deans Italian sausage would work just as well. Fry that up and try for large clumps and not crumbles. Don't drain the fat, I even added a tblspn of olive oil to facilitate browning. Once that's done, pour some chicken stock into a soup pan on low heat and add the sausage. To the pan with the seasoning and fat from the sausage you just fried add some onions and garlic. I used a whole onion and a whole clove of garlic from the garden, coarsely chopped, but you could buy them at the farmers market or grocery store and slice them or dice them if you'd rather. Just remember to bring your own bag while shopping. Now, once the onion is transparent, circa 3 minutes, put that in the soup pot and bring the heat to med hi. Add to the pot some red and black pepper to taste and 1qt of heavy whipping cream. Add some (6) red potatoes skin on and some (2) russett pottoes skin off. Add some Kale, I used an entire bunch but you can add as much as you want. It will take 25 minutes for the kale and potatoes to cook on a gentle simmer or low boil so adjust heat of your stove accordingly. To serve; pour into bowls and slice an artisan bread, Rosemarry Focaccia, or Pane Toscana, or whatever you like. The bread should be sliced thinly more for soaking up soup than filling up stomach. This meal is really easy and it will shock you how easy it is to make something so tasty in your own kitchen. When you eat this soup remember me with fondness, warmth, and regards. From my kitchen to yours, PEACE.