Soft Soap

Posted in Revolution with tags , , , on July 10, 2014 by rgwallace

Sculptor Aaron Dysart’s moving meditation here on the Mississippi River culminates in a hilarious Duchampian stunt.

The public health analogs are legion, stretching far beyond concepts in environmental thinking.

Many progressive efforts in global public health are organized around accepting the predicates of the problems the system to be fought imposes.

On the contrary, the boundaries of conceivable intervention extend beyond the soft soap the few respectable institutions allowed to address the crises are willing to risk as a solution. And certainly far outside state-sanctioned notions of social justice.

Many global health researchers–a networked elite, oft-bought, and structurally dishonest–know this full well. Any expectation they’d say so outside whispers in the airport lounge is another matter.

Growing Agroecology Research

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Farming Human Pathogens book, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , on July 9, 2014 by rgwallace

The Union of Concerned Scientists is calling upon agriculture and health scientists to sign on to a statement demanding increased public investment in agroecological research.

Former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter describes the need for such research in the video above.

The letter, reported on by Food First’s Eric Holt Gimenez here, reads in part,

Agroecology regards farms as ecosystems embedded in broader landscapes and society. Agroecological approaches are based on understanding and managing ecological processes and biological functions to increase and sustain crop and livestock productivity, efficiently recycle inputs, and build soil fertility, while minimizing harmful impacts on soil, air, water, wildlife, and human health…

While other approaches may also yield promising solutions, they are more likely to already benefit from private sector support. Agroecology is less likely to be supported by the private sector since these farming methods often reduce requirements for purchased inputs. This leaves to the public sector the responsibility to fund agroecological research that serves the interests of farmers and society.

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Goliathian Priors

Posted in Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2014 by rgwallace

Ghana GermanyEven on fútbol Nate Silver panders to power, predicting the winners will win. He’s the statistical Malcolm Gladwell, the latter, despite his new book, already on record disparaging successful underdogs as metaphysically unfair.

As if contingencies and sudden regime shifts, to reference Slavoj Žižek‘s Hegel, aren’t themselves universal necessities (well beyond the power of Silver’s Bayesian).

And to which the revolutionary toasts the Ghanas and Costa Ricas a beer or three, minding Alain Badiou’s Paris Commune, wherein the truth upon the world’s contested pitches changes the very predicates of circumstance.

Lipstick on a Pig

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Organic agriculture with tags , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2014 by rgwallace

I have discovered that I cannot burn the candle at one end and write…with the other. –Katherine Mansfield (1919)

By casuistry as uproarious as it is dismal, a Minnesota hog farmer claims ‘factory farms’ no such thing.

Why yes, our barns, equipped with automatic feeders and temperature and air controls, look like factories. Why yes, hog genetics reducing diversity and fat content limit the animals’ toleration for weather and, left unsaid, disease.

But on the heels of bad publicity around vile abuse at a Pipestone farm damning piglets as so many uncooperative widgets–see the video above–Wanda Patsche tells us don’t call them factories. They’re owned by “my neighbors, my friends, fellow church members…,” who, in actuality, are caught in Big Ag contracts that, as we described here last month, hold the farmers to all the value chain’s liabilities and allows them none of its control.

Y’know, like factory workers. Continue reading

Grand Illusions

Posted in Revolution with tags , , , , , , on June 2, 2014 by rgwallace

Vulcan Krewe 1My daughter Violet and I join our neighbors for Grand Old Day in St. Paul. The kick-off parade pipes Lynchian perversity inside a crust of small town prosaicism:

Following the color guard and a motorcade of beauty queens waving their wrists down Grand Avenue, the masked Vulcan Krewe, the Imperial Order of Fire and Brimstone–including Grand Duke Fertilious, “the Minister of Propaganda, the Propagator of Progeny, the Krewe member with the most offspring”–smears charcoal mustaches on kids and adults alike.

A Schwarzenegger impersonator, riffing on Jesus–“I’ll be back”–blasts Christian metal from the Godinator float. A clutch of belly dancers advertise the threepenny uprights of the Renaissance Faire later in the summer. The married middle-aged men of the St Paul Bouncing Team have been using Browder sheets to heave young women in short skirts thirty feet up in the air since 1886. Continue reading


Posted in Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2014 by rgwallace

Geithner KrugmanIt is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it. –Upton Sinclair (1935)

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman jumped onto what is fast becoming a justly enthusiastic  pile-on–body-slamming former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s new book,

By any normal standard, economic policy since the onset of the financial crisis has been a dismal failure. It’s true that we avoided a full replay of the Great Depression. But employment has taken more than six years to claw its way back to pre-crisis levels — years when we should have been adding millions of jobs just to keep up with a rising population. Long-term unemployment is still almost three times as high as it was in 2007; young people, often burdened by college debt, face a highly uncertain future.

Now Timothy Geithner, who was Treasury secretary for four of those six years, has published a book, “Stress Test,” about his experiences. And basically, he thinks he did a heckuva job.

Still Krugman appears to accept the premises of a system that produces Geithners one administration after another. Continue reading

It’s Official

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , on May 13, 2014 by rgwallace

According to two just-released scientific reports–here and here– the West Antarctica ice sheet, all 2.2 million km3 floating attached to the continent, is now officially disintegrating. The NASA animation above shows recent glacier dynamics–increasing velocity and decreasing elevation–along the Amundsen Embayment.

Melt off is now thought irreversible and will likely increase the global sea level ten feet over only a couple hundred years.

Our generation’s Kollektivschuld, unique among Earth’s species extant and extinct, isn’t just that climate change is anthropogenic, but that we could have done something about it and chose not to.

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