Monthly Archives: September 2007

Free food for everyone! Woo woo!

So I've been thinking more about these vertical farms. According to an overview article in Business 2.0, a single vertical farm that can feed about 45,000 people a year would cost about $84 million to build, and then about $5 million to operate (pretty amazing that you can feed a person for not much over $100 a year, isn't it?). I was thinking about taxation, and what's considered a “right” and thus paid for communally by taxes. For example, most nations consider healthcare a right, education a right, many consider access to fresh water a right, and most consider “national defense” to some extent a group responsibility as well.

I was wondering what would happen if we made the statement that healthy food is a fundamental right. It seems reasonable to me that an advanced and stable society should be able to feed all of its members… Anyway, there are a few ways it could be done. One interesting approach might be to tax junk food — a one cent “jund food tax” per can of sada would generate $1.5 billion per year. That would build eighteen vertical farms (and that's assuming the price doesn't go down by building lots) capable of feeding about 800,000 people a year. Expand the junk food tax to the full swath of junk food and you're looking at about $10 billion in revenues, or enough to build 120 vertical farms which would feed about five and a half million people a year.

Let's say the public decided it was a bit more important to not spend quite as much on military airplanes… Let's strike the five of each of the following planes out of the budget: F-15E ($215 million), F/A-18F ($295 million), F-22 Raptor ($690 million), B-2 Spirit ($10 billion), B-52H Stratofortress ($265 million), C-130 Hercules ($335 million), KC-10 Extender ($440 million), and the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV ($170 million). That would still leave tons of planes in the fleet, and save a total of $12.5 billion — or another 150 vertical farms bringing the total feeding capacity to about twelve and a half million people.

As I write this, the Iraq war has cost about $450 billion so far. Since that's turned out to be a totally pointless war, let's rewind for a moment and pretend that money was spent on building vertical farms as well. That money would add 5,500 vertical farms.

Now the total number of vertical farms would be able to provide every single American with high-quality organic food. I'm not talking just about veggies by the way — I'm talking about a complete diet since these vertical farms produce not just fruit and vegetables, but also poultry and fish… All year round, fresh and healthy, pesticide free food, with major environmental benefits over traditional farming.

Oh, and as a point of trivia, if the US Defense budget was cut by 5% and that money was put to funding the farms (about $29 billion a year), every person in America would eat a full healthy diet for free.

Well, priorities…

…and don't get me started on what you could do if you slashed the defense budget by, say, 25% — what do you think about “free” (as in requiring no additional taxes) healthcare for every American, free education up to university, and more? Seems to me it would be a better way to spend the money than bombs, but hey, what do I know…

Probably a good thing…

I've been thinking a lot about vertical farming — simply, farms in skyscrapers (the one pictured below is proposed for downtown Toronto). As the price of fuel rises, I would imagine that we'll get closer and closer to these being undeniably viable; even necessary… One article suggested that they'd currently cost about $80 million to build with about $12 million in net profit per year, which would definitely be a worthwhile investment. Benefits include:

  • Year-round weather-immune farming that's far more space-efficient (hundreds of times more efficient) than “horizontal” farming.
  • Organic production, with water re-use and even water cleaning.
  • Potential to be energy independent or even generate energy, to say nothing of the massive savings in fuel both because they're producing food at the site of consumption, and because large farm gear isn't used.

The effect on rural areas if this took off would be profound… For the majority of crops there would be a distinct disadvantage to producing them outside of the city, and rural farms would collapse quite quickly, and along with it, perhaps a great deal of the rural economy in general. On one hand that's good, because a lot of land would go back to nature, repairing much of the damage we've done to the planet, but I can't help but worry that losing the hands-on knowledge of how to do traditional farming could be a bad thing. I suppose I'm a bit of a Luddite, but still, images of a forest planet with cities dotting out of the wilderness is a romantic, sci-fi drenched vision.

…and of course totally figuring out indoor farming is a very important first step in moving to Mars!

Is it all just a fashion statement?

(This is commentary via the recently posted amputation interview).

Something that I find quite fascinating — and rather sad — is that the more “mainstream” body modification gets, the more the fringes of body modification (amputation is an obvious example) are attacked, and quite often from people who self-identify as being interested in body modification. I hear a lot of people talking about how they don't want their “acceptable” interests lumped in with that, or how the people slightly farther out have crossed a line that's unacceptable, or whatever statement of derision is chosen by that particular person.

Let me make something clear about my feelings on this subject: Body modification and body ritual isn't about being cool or dressing up or putting on a show so you have a postcard souvenir. It's a state of being and a way of life, and it transcends culture and exists as the foundation that adherents use to communicate with both themselves and the universe around them. It's not safe. It doesn't have rules. It doesn't have limits.

Maybe there's some watered down version that can be sold at a store and have advertising attached to it on television, but that's only a commercialization of the affectations of what body modification is. I'm certainly not saying that's a bad thing, but people should not fool themselves into thinking that what can be captured by consumerism is the heart of body modification.

In any case, I think it's an unfortunate reflection on the fact that most people these days involve themselves in body modification as a “fashion statement” rather than because it's some low-level instinct that they have to act on… and because they're now the mainstream, they're co-opting the terms (claiming that they're about “modification” whereas those that are in fact the core of the original body modification movement are just “mutilators”) and attacking the people who in theory seeded the movement in the first place.

Amputation is so obviously legitimate — more so than almost any other form of modification — as body modification, that I really feel that anyone who attacks it is making it blatantly obvious that they've completely missed the point start-to-finish. That doesn't mean you have to like it — that is, saying “I don't enjoy listening to classical music” is fine, but “Bach's concertos are not music” or “only a fool would enjoy Bach” makes you out as a bit of an dunce.

Part of me really does hope that all of this falls out of fashion again so those people who are completely cluessless about body modification can just go on to whatever TV picks up as the next big thing… Definitely a good time to start investing in companies that sell tattoo removals and piercing reversals.

And I cooked a nice salmon in fresh orange sauce with fried rice for supper…

Recent food… A long boring entry

Pardon the typos! I'm tired and don't feel like proof-reading this!

Tomorrow Nefarious starts at school again — this will be her first year riding the school bus! Quite exciting! I'll be using that time tomorrow to get a nice voluntary amputation article posted and start the move of the experience system to a new server (it's still hosted on my first IIS server, so it's being insanely over-charged for). But until then, some meals I've cooked recently:

That's a coconut korma chicken, although I guess it's not a real korma because I didn't include any yogurt in it. And admittedly noodles, let alone thai-style noodles, are not particularly common in Indian cooking!

The korma was a few days ago, but speaking of those thai noodles (and almost exactly matching the previous dish visually!), I used the remainder of the package today in a shrimp phad thai, although it was also admittedly rather un-authentic given the lack of many key ingredients such as peanuts and eggs, and the fairly heavy sauce. Sort of a phad thai made at a greasy spoon or something…

Lest you think everything looks exactly the same (I admit that I'm not particularly creative as a cook… I need to expand my horizons pretty badly because I'm starting to get bored), last night I had a light dish of veggies, chicken, and basmati rice dish with a sweet dijon sauce…

The last three (I think) days have been — by request — crepe breakfasts, which have been eaten quickly, en masse, and with no complaints whatsoever! And it's a dish that I have a little helper for as well. Nefarious has been helping me cook them since she was about two and a half.

Other than that, Nefarious got a plant for her room… I believe it's been named “Julie”.

Oh, and I finally got around to ordering a bunch of unpainted Russian nesting doll blanks today — ever since I saw the great ones posted at the Wurst Gallery I've been meaning to get a few sets for Nefarious and I to paint… We'll have them later this month so they'll be my birthday present to myself.

Pain Solves Everything!

Since the IAM server appears to be in a world of (overheating) pain today, let me write a pain entry I've been thinking about for a few days.

As you may remember, I stopped taking the Lyrica which was prescribed to stop the rather extremely unpleasant neuropathic pain that I've had in my leg since the nerve damage was done during the biopsy, because I didn't like the side effects and it wasn't particularly effective anyway. That said, I still do have to deal with the pain somehow!

It's my thought that pain disorders of this type are both a human disorder (as in not existent in animals) and a modern disorder… I don't think they manifested themselves in the past with the frequency they do today. I thought as well about how CBT enthusiasts retrain their nervous systems to experience pain as pleasure, as well as other cases where one learns to reinterpret sensations (even the magnetic implants I suppose)… And my theory is that these disorders are a modern phenomena because in the past (and in animals) one was more likely to just “keep going” and even though there would be a period of elevated pain, the nervous system would eventually retrain itself as the body realized that no harm was coming to it. I also think that because we live in a “victim society” where everyone is taught to avoid pain, and to wallow in their medical issues and center ones life around them, we are not only not healing properly, but we're actually causing neuropathic disorders to amplify.

So I've been playing out that theory by just trying to use my leg completely as normal, putting it in situations that are extremely painful (but not at all harmful), and just going on as if everything is fine — which when it comes down to it, it is. It's definitely not fun, but I do believe that it's working. If it's rough I take some narcotic pain killers which have minimal effect on the neuropathic pain, but help keep me in a good mood because they're also euphoric opiates, and I'd say that my pain level in terms of skin sensations and so on have definitely improved a bit so far… I think it'll continue in that direction over the next few months, but we'll see…