Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Ten Theses on Farming and Disease

Posted in Evolution, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2017 by rgwallace

costarica043Every once in a while, we have to take a stab at putting all the pieces together. In some ways these ten theses on farming and disease only touch on what I, and others, have been saying all along. But there’s a growing understanding of the functional relationships health, food justice, and the environment share. They’re not just ticks on a checklist of good things capitalism shits on. Falsifying Hume’s guillotine, embodying a niche construction at the core of our human identity, justice and the ecosystem appear to define each other at a deep level of cause and effect.

1. Contract farmers around the world are suffering cost-price squeezes. Producers are at one and the same time suffering increasing input costs and low or falling prices for their goods at the farm gate. The farmers are forced to chase an economic Red Queen. Individual farmers must increase production if only in an effort to cover for low prices that increases in production across farms helped depress to begin with.

2. The squeeze is a scam agribusiness is running on farmers. In enforcing high farm output, companies are seeking gluts that cheapen ingredients for their processed product lines. High output, producing food beyond global consumer demand, is also about making money off farmers contractually obligated to buy synthetic inputs they don’t need to grow us enough food.

3. The gap between cost and price, also a form of labor discipline, forces many farmers out, leading to plot consolidation as those smallholders and mid-level operations still left buy up abandoned land, banking on economies of scale, debt-financed mechanization, and appreciation in land equity to pull them through the artificial price squeeze.

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Flint State

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2016 by rgwallace

Flint1At Kent State, eight years ago, we killed our own children. We finally went ahead and made plain the substance of our hanging threat to all the lives of our children. If you do not do as we have done, if you do not continue what we do, we who have brought you here, we will take you out; we who feed and clothe you and teach you the words that you use, the name that is your name, we will destroy you even unto death. –June Jordan (1978)

The lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, offers a quintessential example of the social origins of our abiotic environments. Our sociality imprints upon even the most elemental of Earth’s matter.

Following up resident complaints about discoloration, taste, and smell, Virginia Tech researchers tested 271 Flint homes for lead in their tap water. From 27 parts per billion, five times greater than concentrations considered safe, an exposure leading to cardiovasular problems, kidney damage and neurological morbidity, the investigators found lead levels as high as over 5,000 pbb, a level the Environmental Protection Agency defines as “toxic waste”.

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Theory of Conspiracy

Posted in Revolution, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 29, 2016 by rgwallace

20130619_G8leaders02In life it is never a mathematical proposition which we need, but we use mathematical propositions only in order to infer from propositions which do not belong to mathematics to others which equally do not belong to mathematics. –Ludwig Wittgenstein (1922)

David Grimes, a physicist, calculates large-scale conspiracies are impossible. Someone somewhere–a whistleblower or bungler–will leak the goods.

The issue missed here, however, as Stephen Colbert–channeling Slavoj Žižek–put it to Donald Rumsfeld the other night, are the unknown knowns, the crimes the brigades of ideological shock troops among us pretend ignorance of in the service of expediency.

That is, in a reading of the WikiLeaks cables ironically enough, is the business of empire really something other than an albeit open conspiracy? And who, then, are the more dangerous conspirators now dining in our best restaurants–the true believers or the manipulative cynics?

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Palmer and Patterson and Possibility

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 29, 2015 by rgwallace

Palmer and PattersonSetting ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ against Walter Palmer and ‪#‎CeciltheLion‬ is a failure of strategic imagination.

There are, of course, important differences that can’t be overemphasized. Otherwise we end up confounding the murders of humans and animals. But both cultural moments clearly speak to the nature of white privilege.

Racism and ecological expropriation aren’t orthogonal to each other. Indeed, Cecil’s death can be connected to land grabbing and deforestation across Africa straight out of John Henry Patterson. Which last I heard has something to do with black lives.

And if it takes a dead lion to move millions of perhaps misguided people out of a carefully cultivated metaphysics of isolated individuality into a more empathetic framework, I’ll take it. An ethos of mutual aid and solidarity isn’t necessarily going to come out of reading Kropotkin alone.

We’d do well to begin to be open to the aleatory nature of political circumstance. People arrive at the right idea by many a strange path. Continue reading

Mickey the Measles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 29, 2015 by rgwallace

mickeymeasles I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it all started with a mouse. –Walt Disney (1954)

An outbreak of highly infectious measles starting at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, has spread to eight U.S. states and Mexico. Arizona, one state hit, is presently monitoring 1000 people linked to Disneyland visitors and subsequent exposures.

With good reason, much attention has been placed on the role the anti-vax movement has played in both the initial outbreak and its subsequent spread. In 2014, before the outbreak, U.S. measles clocked in at three times the cases (644) than any of the ten years previous.

The outbreak may represent a second scandal.

Five years ago Disney objected to suggestions the theme park and resort, drawing 15 million visitors a year from around the world, was a potential amplifier for infectious diseases. Continue reading

Wet Blanket

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2014 by rgwallace

As if Ferguson might prove too much a shock of an ice bucket, it seems, Lauren Duca points out, a curious coincidence mainstream culture suddenly moves social capital’s heaven and earth for a rare albeit terrible disease of bad-luck biology.

The different etiologies need be no zero-sum game, but are the Vine-length dunks of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge–the frisson of a waterboarding–a sublimated misdirection from the historical wrongs from which some of the most generous check writers benefit?

The irony is that most cases of ALS are social in origin, including a cluster around a lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri, just 50 miles south of Ferguson, Continue reading

Follow ‘Farming Pathogens’ on Twitter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 17, 2010 by farmingpathogens

You can now follow ‘Farming Pathogens’ on Twitter here. Includes the latest in media reports and journal articles on agriculture, disease, evolution, dialectical biology, the practice of science, as well as any appearances or new work by FP contributors.