Monday, March 31, 2008


'i've never been one for word games', tom said unwittingly.

was introduced to a couple new types of word play this weekend. my favorite, causing many moments of laughing out loud, is the tom swifty. i'm always down for a good pun, and some of these are straight-up delight-inducing.

'Can I go looking for the Grail again?' Tom requested.
'I have a split personality," said Tom, being frank.
'I wonder if there's a number between seven and nine," said Tom considerately.
'Who discovered radium?' asked Marie, curiously.
'I unclogged the drain with a vacuum cleaner,' Tom said succinctly.

new amusement for empty moments--hooray!

(ht to axel. wOOt!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


if you have an all-dairy diet, you should probably drive a lot to compensate for how much damage you're doing to the environment.

If you walk 1.5 miles, Mr. Goodall calculates, and replace those calories by drinking about a cup of milk, the greenhouse emissions connected with that milk (like methane from the dairy farm and carbon dioxide from the delivery truck) are just about equal to the emissions from a typical car making the same trip. And if there were two of you making the trip, then the car would definitely be the more planet-friendly way to go.

via freakonomics

arright. this topic has officially gone off the deep end. apparently, people who drink lots of milk should drive to the store, not get their calories from a non-dairy source.

now all these people who read freakonomics are going to be blustering about quoting the blog and justifying driving, without thinking about the fact that a cup full of milk is way more emission-intensive than, say, produce from a nearby farm.

(the comments on that particular post are full of other eye rolling responses.)

i get it. emission and footprint calculation is complicated. but OMG, stop throwing out argumentative little blasts like this that are going to deter people from taking personal action to change their lifestyles! not all choices about emissions are this complicated or distressing!

i was irked about the same thing as i read a portion of this recent article from the new yorker.

The environmental burden imposed by importing apples from New Zealand to Northern Europe or New York can be lower than if the apples were raised fifty miles away. “In New Zealand, they have more sunshine than in the U.K., which helps productivity,” Williams explained. That means the yield of New Zealand apples far exceeds the yield of those grown in northern climates, so the energy required for farmers to grow the crop is correspondingly lower. It also helps that the electricity in New Zealand is mostly generated by renewable sources, none of which emit large amounts of CO2. Researchers at Lincoln University, in Christchurch, found that lamb raised in New Zealand and shipped eleven thousand miles by boat to England produced six hundred and eighty-eight kilograms of carbon-dioxide emissions per ton, about a fourth the amount produced by British lamb. In part, that is because pastures in New Zealand need far less fertilizer than most grazing land in Britain (or in many parts of the United States). Similarly, importing beans from Uganda or Kenya—where the farms are small, tractor use is limited, and the fertilizer is almost always manure—tends to be more efficient than growing beans in Europe, with its reliance on energy-dependent irrigation systems.

that is, in fact, totally interesting and important to keep in mind. but it got me to wondering just how many products would actually end up being tricky and counter-intuitively problemmatic like that. i would guess that it's rare--that if you were to look at 100 types of produce, *most* of them would be better bought locally than from another country. i could DEFinitely be wrong--but my point is that i'd rather hear about generalities than exceptions.

also, i would like to see the authors of posts and articles such as these add some framing to their discussion that points out that there are ways to shift the emission imbalances that they're pointing out. (like, noting that the walk to the store would be fine if you use something less ecologically-damaging than ANIMAL PRODUCTS to get your calories. or pointing out that if britain systemically changed their ag production to include more renewable energy and less artificial fertilizers, they could hook up some less carbon-intensive foodz.)

Monday, March 03, 2008


reason and passion

(rarely am i a one for poetics, so i'm curious about my own penchant for sighing over pretty verbiage this week, but...)

this poem was brought to my attention this weekend, with recommendations for rumination. so. acknowledgement of rumination and contemplation hereby issued, with appreciation for the suggestion; thanks, nev.

And the priestess spoke again and said: "Speak to us of Reason and Passion." And he answered saying:
Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against passion and your appetite.
Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.
But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?
Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.
If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion; that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.
I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.
Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.
Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows - then let your heart say in silence, "God rests in reason."
And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky, - then let your heart say in awe, "God moves in passion."
And since you are a breath In God's sphere, and a leaf in God's forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.

~kahlil gibran (from 'the prophet')

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