lunadelcorvo: (Whammy?)
Anyone who’s read me for any time at all likely knows that I have little patience for either anti-science superstitious hysteria, or ‘one-world’ government, Illuminati conspiracy hysteria. In this category of intellectually offensive and ridiculous nonsense I include things like creationism, anti-vaccers, aromatherapy, micro-chipping, the Bilderburg conspiracy, chem-trails, black helicopters, and so on.

That said, there have been plenty of times that a new technology hailed as the greatest thing ever, the wave of the future, FDA-approved, and perfectly safe has been anything but. Cigarettes, DDT, lead paint, RBGH, and frakking come easily to mind; there are plenty of others. These things, once ‘scientifically verified’ as safe and beneficial, have since been proven otherwise. And certainly, early protests against these things were critiqued as being anti-science, conspiracy hysteria.

So clearly not everything government and/or industry tells us is safe actually is safe. Mistakes are made. It then becomes something of a minefield to navigate the fine line between unreasoning hysteria and recognizing and revealing a genuine threat. Enter the GMO.

One the one hand, progressive and pro-reason icons like Dawkins and ScienceBlogs roundly condemn GMO opponents as little better than anti-vaccers. Even the DailyKos published an article entitled “GMO Truthers need to be kicked out of the Progressive movement.” The article offers both a strident condemnation of GMO-related “anti-science,” and a short list of refuted claims. And there is certainly a lot of hysteria about GMOs that does mirror the anti-vaccer rhetoric, including claims that GMOs cause autism, or all the studies in favor are industry funded, to name only two.

On the other hand, a lot of profit relies on this technology, and not just in terms of food production for the starving of the world (though there are other, arguably better solutions that involve changing our entire culture of food, but that is a related, but different topic; next post perhaps). But to what degree IS it reasonable and rational to hold corporate stakes as determinative in assessing the relative safety of a food technology? And while the mere fact that other nations have enacted partial or full bans on GMOs is not a testament to their safety in and of itself, consideration of which nations have done so gives one pause. Of the 26 (as of late 2013, almost double the 14 in 2012), many are progressive nations whose overall approaches to issues like sustainability, health, and the environment are admirable: Germany, France, Australia, Japan. These are not nations known for their hysterical, superstitious tendencies (like the US). And while the main consensus is that GMO foods do not produce nutritional harms, there are significant questions about environmental impact, both of the crops themselves, the impact they may have on insect populations, and even more significantly, the impact of the chemicals and pesticides these crops are so often engineered to withstand. Round-up ready crops mean Round-up will be used, in abundance. We know that both herbicides and insecticides can have serious negative consequences. There are also questions about adaptability, seeding, and loss of native species (both crops and the ‘weeds’ that such crops are designed to resist). While some of that may technically be a licensing and patent issue, it is nevertheless inextricably tied up with the question of GMOs as healthy for not just our bodes directly, but our environment, our economy, and our world. So perhaps a GMO tomato won’t hurt me. But what happens if one company ends up owning the vast majority of crops? Corporate monopoly is, I think it is safe to claim, never a benefit to anyone but the corporation.

Mind you, you will not see anything in this post about ‘meddling with nature,’ or anything of that sort. This is not, from the tomato’s perspective, an ethical issue. However, it might be an ethical issue an far larger scales. So perhaps the claim that eating a ‘conventional’ cucumber will give you cancer IS hysteria. But I am not convinced that the question of the safety of GMOs is as simple as that. I think it’s a far more nuanced issue, with much farther reaching implications and questions. And on that level I take some exception to the notion that raising those questions puts me in the same camp as the anti-vaccers and chem-trail believers (or Oprah, for that matter!)

What are your thoughts? Is this an issue for you, and if so, on which side? Why? For those outside the US; how is this issue perceived and debated in your milieu?
lunadelcorvo: (It's All A Damned Lie!)
What Can You Do To Avoid Monsanto's New, Deadlier Neurotoxic Sweetener? Very Little

Read about Monsanto's new aspertame replacement: 'neotame.' It's sweeter, deadlier, and has no labeling requirements at all. None. It can show up in meat (and maybe milk?) as it's fed to cattle, it can show up in both conventional and organic products. About the only place it will never show up is on a label. Bon appetit!
lunadelcorvo: (I'm going to write can't help it)
What Can You Do To Avoid Monsanto's New, Deadlier Neurotoxic Sweetener? Very Little

Read about Monsanto's new aspertame replacement: 'neotame.' It's sweeter, deadlier, and has no labeling requirements at all. None. It can show up in meat (and maybe milk?) as it's fed to cattle, it can show up in both conventional and organic products. About the only place it will never show up is on a label. Bon appetit!
lunadelcorvo: (Xmas-Noel Angel)
Wow. The whole crazy, mish-mash holiday is a big ball of tradition and remembrance for me, so this might be tough to put in a list. But here are three of the nearest and dearest:

1. First, there is Santa Mouse. Inspired by my childhood love of the Santa Mouse books, my mom made a tiny little mouse (an erstwhile cat toy, I think) with a Santa hat to sit in the tree. Every year, Santa Mouse would bring one or two teeny gifts, which would appear in the tree beside him on Christmas morning. We have continued that tradition with my son, and a couple years back, I decided it was time for the original to enter retirement, and I made a new Santa Mouse (the one pictured at the above link). Every year, sure enough, a couple teeny presents appear in the branches of the tree next to him.

2. Cookies! Loads and loads of cookies: shortbread, sables, krinkles, bourbon balls, gingerbread - you name it! My son is my very able baker's apprentice, and we have a blast baking our little holiday hearts out.

3. Ornaments. Now, that may not *seem* like a tradition, but for me, it really is. My collection of ornaments, largely German blown-glass, includes ornaments from every generation of my family going back onto the late 1800s, with a very small few actually brought over from Germany by one Eleanora Augusta Alriche when she emmigrated. Each generation had added to the collection over the years. Sadly, a few years before I was born, a basement flood claimed a bit over half of the oldest ones, but I have almost all of those that survived. There is a mix of Victorian, deco, and a healthy dose of 50s and 60s 'Shiny Brite' kitsch. There are many I remember from my own childhood, and I can tell you not only which ones were my favorites but those of my grandmother, grandfather, even my great-aunts. So every time I trim the tree, it's a tribute to 6 generations of holidays.

There are many, many more; it really it the case that the whole holiday is wrapped in tradition (and isn't that how it should be?). We read A Child's Christmas in wales every year, and I take my son the the Nutcracker. We always made sure Santa answered his letters, relating tales of the happy chaos at the North Pole, much inspired by Tolkein's Father Christmas Letters, now becoming a tradition itself. And of course, music. I love almost all the older Christmas carols. Silent Night in German brings me to tears every time! I try to get my son to learn the words to some of the old carols, especially the German ones, and he tries, sort of. (Worst setback in this regard ever was a friend giving me 'Catmas Carols:' he knows the words to 'Collar Bells' better than 'Jingle Bells!') And of course, the food! Peppermint, cocoa, stollen (pronounced "shtullen," not 'stolen') and great-great-grandmother's fruitcake, eggnog, ribbon candy... well, I'd better save a few things for later posts; I have 14 days to go!
lunadelcorvo: (Xmas-Making Cookies!)
For the First, I share a recipe: Orange Sables. These have been hailed by many as the queen of Christmas Cookies, and they are always the first to vanish. I've taken to making a triple batch in recent years.
Orange Sables )
lunadelcorvo: (Summer Violets)
(As always, click for bigger version...)
Patio Pots
Patio Pots
The biggest pot has four varieties of Basil, and the two smaller round ones have five varieties of mint between them. Then of course, there is my big box of impatiens, which are not faring too well.

Azalea and Spirea
Azalea and Spirea
The Azalea and Spirea are in a small bed just next to the patio. The veggie garden is to the far left from this perspective.

The food garden
The food garden
The whole veggie garden, with my dilapidated shed in the back. The front bed is the first one I built. It's 8 x 4, and almost 2 feet high. It has been giving bumper crops of lettuce since late April, but they are about done. I need to find some late season crops to put in their place...

The cabbage (and chard) patch.
The cabbage (and chard) patch.
Something is making holes in my cabbages. I also think I put them too close together for them to really flourish. Live and learn, no?

The herb bed.
The herb bed.
Clockwise from the bottom: beets, basil, cilantro, rosemary, mint, dill, lavender, sage, and chives in the middle. (Yes, I know, beets are not an herb. I had two left over and nowhere else to put them.)

My first cucumber!
My first cucumber!
I am unreasonably excited by this! This small bed is also looking to put out some really nice peppers. The cucumbers have kind of overshadowed the herbs I put here. I think next year, I will try to put in some big, permanent herb beds in front, and leave the annual plantings in the back.

Front half of the back bed
Front half of the back bed
The tomato half of the back bed. They need better staking, badly! At least the coffe grounds and netting have kept the rabbits and squirrels out, at least so far.

Pumpkin tower.
Pumpkin tower.
I built a frame for my pumpkins to climb, and of which I am ludicrously proud! They are already a good 8 or 12 inches taller than in this photo, taken less than a week ago.

There are more, and a few of what will be my rose garden next year, as well as the front, but that's enough picspam for now....
lunadelcorvo: (Summer light)
I know several of the people in this video, and one of the locations is right here at Breaking New Grounds! Watch it - it's very cool!

We Need Compost! from Kertis Creative on Vimeo.

Miscellanea

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Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities

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