Monthly Archives: July 2006

No More Plants.

We've all been debating “what if there's not enough oil for all of us forever”, and are slowly growing the courage to debate whether we're running out of fresh, uncontaminated water, we're debating global warming, pollution, and a dozen other apocalyptic fears… But I think what it boils down to is us running out of food.

Last year, Russia exported 14 million tons of grain. This year, they anticipate being able to export only 7 million tons. Canada, America, and other major agricultural nations are in a similar position. To make matters worse, not only is production way down for a variety of reasons, but we currently have grain reserves on the planet of less than two months — ie. peak grain. If the same spike happens that we saw in 1973 (which also helped lead to lasting political problems in Africa and Asia), the only other time reserves dropped this low, grain could rise to well over $20 a bushel. To put that into context, it raises the price of a box of breakfast cereal for $5 to over $30*. Similar price increases could happen with anything that uses grain in its production — breads, dairy products, meat, eggs, almost everything. And that says nothing about the fact that in 1973, we weren't dedicating valuable swaths of land to wasteful projects like biofuels. How will your life change if food prices increase five to ten times what they are now?

* Since it's been pointed out by a few people, let me add that I'm aware that a $1 wholesale breakfast cereal is not the same thing as $1 wholesale of raw grain, and in fact it's only a small percentage of the price. But if you don't think you that the price will rise with the price of its most costly ingredient rather than the average, then you're not just kidding yourself, but you're ignoring lessons learned over the last five year's energy prices.

Seriously, when coupled with warming issues, peak oil, and peak water (not enough fresh drinking water), peak grain and peak food — the inability to produce and distribute enough food to everyone to survive — is our real problem. It's not just global warming combined with a few weird winters and summers that's leaving us with a reduced harvest — it's that even in the regions where we can produce the food (America, Canada, northern Europe, and many other areas can output tons of food), we're using a ton of oil in large equipment to produce the crops, we're using aggressive and destructive irrigation techniques, and worst of all, the point of production is very far away from the point of consumption, additionally escalating the price due to shipping costs.

So in short, if we have a bad summer for crops — and that's what most predictions are saying — pricing on nearly everything (even things you might not have considered like organic plastics). The problem gets even worse though. Because both to compensate for the need for more active farmland and during urban sprawl, we're also killing off “natural farmland”, which as I've mentioned before has the secondary result of leading us toward the extinction of bees. It seems like such a little thing, but when you have mass extinctions of insects like we're starting to experience now, the end result is a significant drop in pollination, and yet another massive reduction in the plant life on the surface of the earth.

What's most amazing to me is that as far as I can tell no one is doing anything about it even though it's obvious (hello rolling blackouts across the USA), but I finally realized why — because nothing short of truly exotic technology (zero-point power generation type stuff) or something that's ultimately risky (nuclear) can save our extravagent lifestyles. Biofuels are laughable, and can't even produce 1% of our current fuel needs, and as I've mentioned above, we don't have the grain/corn/soy/etc. to spare anywhere. Wind and solar? Yeah, lets spend billions of dollars to produce millions of dollars worth of energy. The truth that no one seems to get even though it's been said over and over is that we are simply consuming more than is available to us globally, let alone available to us locally.

Did I mention I've been thinking about a Northern property that I could have a big garden on, big enough to root cellar everything I need for the winter, forests and fields to forage for tea, mustard, berries, fruits, and other delicacies, a year-round spring for fresh water, and bear, moose, deer, and small game on the property that I'm perfectly willing to shoot an arrow through and eat if I have to? Hope I can get out of the city before the maurading rape-gangs looking for food and unwilling orifices get me.

Cris Angel 15-seconds of fame

So I'm watching TV and suddenly there's _Stigmata_, IcedFlesh, and other IAM members and piercers on Criss Angel (of course this isn't the first time if I recall correctly, but in some ways it's more fun when it's random like this)? I assume they were filming during the APP convention this year.

(And I assume this is old but I think it's the first time I've seen it).


So this heatwave we're having helped contribute to the death of the powersupply in my laptop. It runs fine, but only on battery, and that's pretty much exhausted. So until tomorrow morning when I either figure out this problem (it's internal to the machine; at first I thought maybe I'd just blown the transformer) or transplant the drives (which are fine) into another box. My apologies for the resultant lack of posts here, on BME, ModBlog, and elsewhere.

Phil and I fixed the door on the truck today — the tabs holding the window and lock swtich assembly to the door came off and the entire switch assembly fell inside the door and right to the bottom; so we had to dismantle the door and glue everything back together. It's all clamped up right now.

It's funny… Of those two vehicles in the picture, the truck — an $800 beater with a $200 set of used tires and around $2000 in assorted parts to bring it to a roadworthy and slightly customized condition — even though it's currently a very mild lift (4.5″/33″) is the one that gets consistent thumbs up and smiles and head-turns from crowds. I guess in a city of five+ million or whatever Porsches are dime-a-dozen but a fun looking rusty truck is the rarity that brings people back to childhood.

That said, my Porsche, while very nice, is a beater too (a previous owner to me was in a serious accident with it), with the interior (and the rest of the car) in need of a fair chunk of TLC. Even the key (check out the RFID) has long since fallen apart, ha.

Anyway… Rachel and I have been talking about whether Nefarious is better off going to school (since that's the next major decision in her life) in the US or in Canada, and whether she's better off with rural or urban life (there are obvious benefits to each, as well as obvious negatives — I'm assuming, I hope incorrectly, that Nefarious will experience many of the high-IQ-slash-highly-eccentric socialization problems that I had and continue to have, and this can be made both better or worse by aspects of the environment), or whether she's best off with a split life (ie. school season/off season), which adds a whole new level of pros and cons…

But I've been looking at properties, some close (which I won't bother mentioning), and some more remote. There's plenty of just gorgeous ones about a nine hour drive north of here (about twice as far as Algonquin Park to put it into context). Amazing old growth forest, great water, great hunting, good soil, tons of edible food to forage for, etc… There's also wonderful properties for nothing (and that's about what I can afford these days, ha) in Quebec that are very tempting… Thousands of acres of mountains with streams, springs, immense trees, everything a person could want. And when it comes right down to it, I've got very little problem with living off the land and eating moose, deer, bear, and so on (to say nothing of the abundance of fish in unpolluted lakes).

And I could build my tracked sportscar for snow and maybe start a company selling them! I have been refining the design, so now it's fully enclosed and heated — the front looks like of like the back of a 1973 Buick Riviera I think. I'll post a picture tomorrow if I remember…

This billboard hangs in front of my current house:

I don't know if it's a pro-gay or anti-gay billboard. Ezekiel 16:49 (and surrounding text) is regularly used both to point out that homosexuality was not the real sin (or worst sin) of the Sodomites, but at the same time, the “detestable acts” Ezekiel 16:50 mentions are regularly assumed to be homosexual acts (rather than the, at least to me, more obvious explanation that it's a catch-all for the many more blatantly “wrong” things they are accused of). Not that I feel strongly enough to email them.

Well, since I'm being forced by fate not to work today, I guess I'm going to watch a movie and try and go to bed early so I can get up and at it bright and early. But first, I need to register some new domains.

Almost bedtime…

I met a doctor today who told me a story about early marijuana experiments he was involved with in I think the sixties… I can't remember what they were trying to discover, but they were eating it, and his med school friend who went first was given too much and went into toxic psychosis. Luckily they lowered the dose for him.

Anyway, I have some very scary stories to post tomorrow. I've been reading some stuff about food supply (and previous food supply issues and the serious peripheral political problems they caused) — including here in the West — and it's certainly looking pretty grim when you combine it with the rest of what's happening these days.

Picture courtesy of Sarvas. He took that in SLC, and if you want to hear more about it (or just look at tons of funny pictures), visit his page.

It "kind of" sounds like a song

So I have this assorted bag of “kind of” skills. Like I can kind of juggle. I can kind of play guitar. I can kind of speak Hebrew. I can kind of paint and draw. I can kind of fly an airplane. Now, while none of those skills are at the point where I could use them professionally, they are at a point where they're definitely good enough to amuse and/or impress a three year old.

Among other things we played with the bass this morning. There's not a whole lot of songs you can handle playing when you're only three so when she was in control it was pretty much limited to Smoke On The Water, Anesthesia, the theme from Spyhunter, and other simple stuff that I played in highschool. I'll tell you though, I sure do find the bass relaxing.

I'm picking Rachel up at the airport shortly. She's coming to grab Nefarious so they can spend a month or so doing girl stuff and going to Mexico and so on… So yeah, Wednesday or Thursday I crawl down into a dark hole with a computer and start programming more seriously, and with less schedule limitations (like guaranteed early AM wakeups), which is both sad and really nice at the same time.