December 16th, 2009

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A resource-based economy

Fascinating idea, but I'm not sure humans are mature enough for it.  *ponder*  Though it's very close in concept to how many tribal economies are run.  We sure don't have the technological capacity for that side of it as described, but that aspect has parallels in some science fiction.

I wonder if a small-scale version of this could be done?  I wonder, for instance, if there are any intentional communities doing something like this.  There are a bunch of different alternative economic models tucked away in that field.
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I want to see "Avatar"

All it took was someone mentioned that the movie "Avatar" contains a fully-functional alien language that was designed by a real live linguist.  WANT. TO. SEE!  I was particularly amused that the language is about 1000 words of vocabulary, which is about where Torn Tongue is at right now (my latest xenolinguistic project, this one collaborative).  Also the movie trailer looks stupendous.
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Toxic Corn

For some years now, I have suspected that genetically modified corn (and possibly other crops) are behind some of the rise in health problems.  In particular, I'm seeing a lot more people with food allergies, including some intermittent ones.  What's the variable?  They can't pin it down.  Sometimes the same food triggers, sometimes it doesn't.  Well, if frankencorn is the trigger, that would explain the variation -- it's widely used but it's not in every version of a given food, there are several varieties of frankencorn, and there's no way to tell whether it's there or not except by eating organic corn (and praying it hasn't been wind-tainted).

So here's news of some negative effects observed from the consumption of genetically modified corn.  It's not proof, yet.  But it sure does make me interested in seeing more research into the impact of long-term consumption.  Watch closely for more news regarding the safety, or lack thereof, in genetically engineered crops.

Le Monde | Study Proves Three Monsanto Corn Varieties' Noxiousness to the Organism
Le Monde (Translation: Leslie Thatcher): "A study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences demonstrates the toxicity of three genetically modified corn varieties from the American seed company Monsanto, the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (Criigen, based in Caen), which participated in that study, announced Friday, December 11."

By the way, I'm not against genetic engineering.  It's a terrific science.  But you must be VERY careful with it, or extremely bad things can happen.  People are not being nearly careful enough, for the usual human reason that they can make more money the sloppy way.
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The Art on My Walls

Thanks to haikujaguar for this meme, listing the art on your walls.  I'm going to do my office.

West wall is my accomplishments: college diploma and tassel, Sol Magazine Poet Laureate 2003 certificate.  (I had more, but had to take them down to make room for the hutch on the desk.)  There's also a vividly colored braided tapestry the size of a small throw rug, artist unknown.

North wall is pictures that remind me of my characters.  There's a girl with her cat familiar by Susan Van Camp, a dragon in sepia pencil by a family friend (I showed her one of my high school stories, and she came back with the sketch because it matched the story perfectly), another girl by Mark ... I forget his last name.

East wall is friends' art: "Tane" and "Thy Seal to My Heart" my haikujaguar and a carved wooden plate of a unicorn, artist unknown. 

South wall is mostly covered by books, but I did cover the window with a cheap tapestry of a unicorn, artist unknown.

We have much other art in the rest of the house, by artists famous and not famous and unknown.  Some is framed, some not. 

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Hard Things

Life is full of things which are hard or tedious or otherwise unpleasant that need doing anyhow. They help make the world go 'round, they improve skills, and they boost your sense of self-respect. But doing them still kinda sucks. It's all the more difficult to do those things when nobody appreciates it. Happily, blogging allows us to share our accomplishments and pat each other on the back.

What are some of the hard things you've done recently?
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Downy woodpecker sounds like...

... a dog toy.  He lands on the suet cage and goes "Squeak!"  I suppose if I stretched it I could imagine that as a more avian "Cheep!" but it really, really sounds like stepping on a rubber toy.  Then he hammers on the suet and the cage rattles against the window.  I've thought about putting a foam backer on it, but that would make it harder to see the woodpecker -- he's so little that he can hide behind the cake of suet, so much of my view of him is through the corners of the suet cage, unless he sticks his head up -- and would remove one of the arrival signals.

Yes, I've been turning around to watch him every time he shows up.  He's been here about four or five times today.  I was going to try getting a snapshot, but realized that I haven't put the camera program onto the new computer yet.  :P  So now I have to hunt around and hope to find the little disk for that, and then see if I can get a visible shot of the woodpecker.
Kneading, Cheap Cookin

Recipe: "Bacon and Beans"

... is essentially my "Ham and Beans" recipe with these changes:

BACON version:
* Replace the ham with 1 lb. meaty bacon. Cut the bacon into bite-size bits. (You can discard big hunks of fat if you wish, but do include some.) Add the bacon after the beans have soaked up a fair bit of liquid.
* Use smoked black pepper if you have it; otherwise plain black pepper is fine.
* Add about 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder. If you don't have that, you could chop a chipotle pepper.

This is a good way to use up a lot of bacon quickly, if you have some extra.
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Health Care and Christmas

I note that all the politicians making decisions about other people's health care enjoy a lovely taxpayer-funded socialized medicine insurance package. I think if they botch this, they should all get coal in their stockings. Because hey, most of them are in bed with that  industry too.

Obama Might Not Get Health Care Overhaul for Christmas
David Lightman, McClatchy Newspapers: "President Barack Obama tried mightily Tuesday to jolt the Senate's stalled health care overhaul effort, but after an hour-long closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats, the fate of his top 2009 domestic priority remains unclear."

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The World as a Village

I think there's a lot of truth in this article:

Jean-Marc Vittori | The World Is a Village Without a Mayor
Jean-Marc Vittori, Les Echos: "More and more, the world is a village. What happens at one end of the planet may directly influence the events that take place at the other end. Technology has turned the world upside down - giving humanity a power to act on nature that is beginning to be visible on a global scale, by making the circulation of people, goods, information and capital incredibly easy. But this village has no town council, much less a mayor, just neighborhood committees jealous of their independence.
This situation is untenable in the long term, but inevitable for now."

... and one reason it's a problem is that so many people have lost (or never learned) a lot of social skills for getting along with other folks.  On the bright side, I think there is a slowly growing awareness of how interconnected nature is, and how interconnected humanity is becoming.  People in America are starting to realize that being without community tends to suck, and taking steps to improve the situation.  I'm seeing more people talking, and especially writing, about community. 

So there is some hope...