Tuesday, August 16, 2005

FAKE FOOD

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

The relentless search for fake food continues. Awful chemical concoctions proliferate. It seems that humans have a weakness for fake foods. the more we are cut off from growing/nurturing our own food, the more we desire ersatz foods. The ingredient lists on packages in the stores reads like a chemist's manual. Even innoculous seeming foods have chemicals added as they are processed.

In the fruits and vegetable sections, we see increasingly genetic engineered stuff that looks great to the eye but doesn't eat so hot, comparing the near perfect examples with my own garden, the superiority of my home grown vegetables is very outstanding.

The latest entry in this process of denaturalization is, to me, very unappetizing. From the BBC:
Developments in tissue engineering mean that cells taken from animals could be grown directly into meat in a laboratory, the researchers say.

Scientists believe the technology already exists to directly grow processed meat like a chicken nugget.

The technology could benefit both humans and the environment.

"With a single cell, you could theoretically produce the world's annual meat supply. And you could do it in a way that's better for the environment and human health.

"In the long term, this is a very feasible idea," said Jason Matheny of the University of Maryland, part of the team whose research has been published in the Tissue Engineering journal.

Growing the meat without the animal could reduce the need to keep millions of animals in cramped conditions and would lessen the damage caused by the meat production to the environment.

Laboratory-grown meat could also be healthier, proponents say.
Solyent Green, anyone?

Of course, every move towards altering food is proclaimed to be healthy and good. But this is all merely artifacts of the energy glut within which we live today. We eat all our cows because we don't need them, like my faithful, patient (well, Chips wasn't very patient, but I should be nice to dead oxen) ox team, working the land for us or pulling big carts. Since we have energy consuming machines doing all this, we can devour our old buddies. We don't need sheep all that much anymore, either, for we can make cloth from energy, using lots of machines that use lots of energy. We are taking the patrimony of the distant pass and eating and consuming it in vast quantities. The fact that we are leaving none of this behind for our great grandchildren doesn't seem to trouble hardly anyone.
To industrialise the process, researchers suggest the cells could be grown on large sheets that would need to be stretched to provide the 'exercise' for the growing muscles.

"If you didn't stretch them, it would be like eating mush," said Mr Methany.
You know that the Frankensteins working on projects like this will come up with the great idea of using energy to flex the muscle mass and to hook it into computers that are programmed to mimic life so the muscle will move and they will then extend this process until they create a creature with a mind. For they can't help it. Nature has created via evolution, a very useful thing for us: living creatures. And they live in an environment, on their own, without a direct energy charge so we will mirror this, in the end.

We will be gods in the most horrible sense of the word. Instead of cows grazing in the open fields, having sex, having babies, enjoying the sun, standing about in the rain, licking each other and rubbing each other, a community called the herd, we will have huge, anonymous sheets of muscle, mournfully flexing.

A living dead world.

We are destroying the lives of chickens and pigs and other living things trying desperately to turn them into mere flesh. My chickens have a life. They run around with each other, they talk, they roll in the dust or clean themselves in water, they pick through corn feed and weeds and bugs, scratching and clucking. They give me the most beautiful eggs.

It costs more than the 89 cent a dozen eggs in the stores. I charge $2 a dozen. But look at us!

We are collectively becoming fat and ugly like the food we are eating. Ugly food=ugly people. Instead of eating two dozen cheap eggs, one can eat one dozen healthy eggs from happy hens.
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Sparky looks like Mr. Ed, doesn't he?

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EARTHQUAKES NOT ALL THE SAME

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Yesterday, as usual, I visited IRIS earthquake monitor to see what was going on. The previous week, the Australian plate once again jerked forwards in its long, hard push towards Japan as the continental plate cartwheels across the Pacific plate, devouring the seabed as is moves north.

It is no surprise to see Japan suffering from a fairly large earthquake, like all of them this year, in the north. A 7.2 earthquake is quite substantial but in this case, very few people were hurt due to many factors. One obvious one is that Japan, the land of earthquakes, is built to handle earthquakes unlike many other places. For example, in the last ten years, the places in the world with similar quakes had 20,000+ people die because of the building materials used to make houses. In Iran, an entire town disappeared, killing nearly everyone and the quake was similar in intensity.

The use of mud bricks is very incompatible with earthquakes.

Today's quake didn't produce a tsunami because it was a back and forth quake and not an up and down one with the land either rising suddenly or falling precipitously. There was only one landslide. The Kobe quake was not only greater in magnitude but of the much more dangerous up and down type.

True to predictions, the earth continues to shudder from the side effects of the Great Boxing Day Quake. The energy released by that tear is still not finished expressing itself. It will cause the earth to ring like a bell for a long time. This is why there is always a pause in the 4-6 magnitude quakes that have been steadily shaking for the last year. Only a few times since December has the earth had no mid level quakes at all and each time lasted less than 24 hours and ended always with a 7+ quake. Like the vibrations of a bell as the clapper hits it with each swing, the vibrations cease right before the clapper strikes again.

Japan, like Indonesia or New Zealand or other island/mountain chains, is a landmass created by pressure from plates pushing up the ocean's floor. Pressure is relieved fairly easily. But California, with lower magnitude ratings, gets much greater violence because unlike these chains and much more like the Middle East or where India is striking Asia, there is a great continental landmass resisting the push of the ocean plates so the energy is expended in the up/down shaking rather than side to side. And the shape of the land usually changes violently with each quake. Very seldom does the West Coast get quakes greater than 7.9 but those are real doozies.

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Note in this latest map of California that the San Andreas fault is trembling at the top and the bottom while faults that bisect it in the center are trembling, too, the center itself is ominously quiet. Which means it is frozen and will release with a bang.

California in particular is a problem because it is like the Great Rift Valley of Africa, namely, the continent is being torn off at the edges by lateral movement as well as compression. Due to housing pressures, in California they are stacking taller and taller buildings on increasingly precarious cliffs. Recently, the NYT featured some really nicely designed future coffins perched on a sheer hillside that is in the process of growing upwards in violent jerks, the top of which was filled in over a waste dump and then houses built there, typically, landfills turn to jelly when there are earthquakes. The people at the top have a much greater chance of surviving when their homes inevitably slide downhill. The unfortunate people on the lower slopes will have a terrible time of it, when the quake will happen.

As it shall. This is why building recklessly should have been stopped by the authorities. But anxious to get more tax money and with developers warping the political process via bribes and glad handing, what with people refusing to understand the basics of geology, this is a tragedy that will be inevitable.

It is not like we don't know this will happen, either. The feeling is akin to faith: the belief that it will happen to someone else in another time period. The blessings of today will not end except after one is gone or one sells to another, unfortunate person.

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