Shine On You Crazy Diners

Back before America went batshit crazy, there was an organization on the University of Oregon campus called (if memory serves) the “Drug Information Center” — which was exactly that: You could drop off a sample of drugs at their door in the dead of night, and a week later they’d publish a report of what it contained.

The idea was genius: No need to scold you about your nasty, illegal habit — just coldly inform you that the acid you scored was really Borax.

Of course it didn’t last. It made too much sense. We can’t handle the truth.

Sometime in the following decade, we knew a guy who was involved in Eugene’s recycling community. (Eugene had one of those; Eugene was one of those towns.) He showed us around a giant warehouse with mountains of plastic milk jugs. The jugs were destined for a ship, which was destined for China. The energy cost in transporting the jugs, he told us, pretty much eliminated any recycling value. You can’t really recycle Dirty Plastic, but at least you can pretend you’re doing your part for the Earth.

That, like the DIC, was very Eugene: Cynical utopianism. We’ll do what we can, but let’s not kid ourselves.

We appreciate that. Facts are wonderful things. They help tether you to reality, if you’re into that. Most Americans, as we all know, aren’t.

So it caught our attention that there was a curious consequence of the recent Hot Volcano Action in Iceland — England almost starved to death:

Had the flight ban continued, exporters in developing countries would have taken critical losses: three days into the shutdown, Blue Skies, a fair-trade supplier, posted an SOS to the effect that its processing factories in Latin America and Africa were closing. Exporters of perishable food from Britain would have suffered too. Consumers would have noticed gaps on the exotic fruit shelves, but we’d have remained well short of a level-red threat to the food supply.

Okay, not quite starved, but the volcano briefly demonstrated how our food supply has become as globalized as everything else, and how quickly it can be disrupted. Good to know.

Oh, but that’s just an island remnant of a has-been empire, right? What about the Breadbasket of the World?

Generations that once lived on grains, pulses and legumes have been replaced by more prosperous people with a taste for meat and dairy. Crops like maize which once fed many of us directly now feed fewer of us indirectly, via a costly diversion from which they emerge in the value-added form of meat. Global production of food — all food — will have to increase by 50 per cent over the next 20 years to cater for two billion extra people and cope with the rising demand for meat…

The industrial production of food is sure to become more expensive as fuel costs rise. It takes 160 litres of oil to produce a tonne of maize in the US; natural gas accounts for at least three-quarters of the cost of making nitrogen fertiliser; freight, too, depends on fuel…

The amount of the world’s land given over to agriculture continues to grow (in the UK, roughly 70 per cent of land is agricultural), but in per capita terms it’s shrinking. As with oil, it’s possible to envisage ‘peak food’ (the point of maximum production, followed by decline), ‘peak phosphorus’, i.e. the high point in the use of phosphate fertiliser (one estimate puts it at 2035), and, as the FAO suggests in its diplomatic way, ‘peak land’: the point at which the total area of the world’s most productive land begins to diminish (soil exhaustion, climate change) and marginal land comes up for reassessment.

Alternative fuels are reducing the amount of land available for growing food. When the Chatham House team began its work, the first effects of the rush for biofuels were becoming clear. In 2006-7, about 30 million tonnes of grain were diverted to bioethanol. That’s less than 5 per cent of global wheat and maize yields, yet the World Bank felt it was instrumental in driving up food prices: many wheat exporters, including EU countries, had turned their land over to biofuel crops, with the result that by 2007, global wheat stocks were half what they’d been at the turn of the century. The biofuels industry is squeezing our capacity to feed ourselves.

There are a few more items in the list, but that’s enough to feed a Malthusian Nightmare, so we’ll leave it at that. And we’ll grant that we’ve been entertaining Malthusian Nightmares since, well, Malthus, which can be said to make them the secular equivalent of Armageddon predictions.

But the nightmares aren’t groundless fantasy. These are practical conditions with practical consequences. Malthus didn’t foresee modern agriculture, but nor did he foresee modern pesticide runoff and modern soil exhaustion. We ignore these facts of the world at our peril.

Nothing new in that. And hey, it’s worked so far. No reason to doubt it will keep on working. Right up until the moment it doesn’t.

What We’re About to Receive [London Review]

People. The link. Note its provenance. The London Review of Books. The New York equivalent is no longer good enough for our dear noje. Now he has to read – or, as we say – take the LROB too. Well, lah di dah.

We did well with acid rain and the dust bowl, though I’m not sure where things stand with that now. I should think the coming crunch will be water. What the LROB (*cough* pseud! *cough*) might have neglected to mention is that in the UK, water no longer belongs to the nation. Most of the sources are owned by either German or French companies, sold to them by Maggie Thatcher. We’re in much better shape here. Of course, we’ll have to abandon the desert cities like Phoenix and Reno but what the hey. And as before noted, I have a deep and dependable well which, like a stage-hand’s erection, has never failed me yet.

Besides, all they need in Limeyland are dependable supplies of curry and chips, crisps, champagne and endless hours of reality TV and they’re happy as clams.

Don’t sweat it, NOJO. There’s always Soylint Green.

can we please send the stinque archives to space?
i would like alien life forms to know we weren’t all fucking retarded.

to wit: one of the most esteemed minds of our time, stephen hawkings, recently said he would time travel in order to meet MARILYN MONROE.
someone shoot me.

Apparently, “cheap” food doesn’t just make us fat.

Thanks global big agra.

it makes me want to emulate my sister and her family. small farm, not even really a farm, just enough space to have a few cows a few pigs and a few chickens. a few fruit trees and a big garden ever summer from which my sister freezes or cans tons and tons of shit every year.

in a global food crisis they would probably be among the last to starve.


Google’s celebration of Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary was fun, enabling people to play Pac-Man on their main search page, either as a one- or two-player game. And people certainly took advantage of the opportunity, spending approximately 4,819,352 hours on the game alone. The result is approximately $120 million in productivity lost, in one day.

You call it maize. We call it Cheetos.

My predictions of Cannibal Anarchy were never a joke. Two weeks without fuel would do it. I once posted a paen to the amazing web that connects the dude down the street from me who sits up all night in a lawn chair on a dock, checking periodically for crabs that have shed their shells, and the diner in San Diego who will eat those crabs 48 hours later, how amazing and even beautiful this connected web of human activity and interaction. It is amazing, but also amazingly fragile.

3 days without deliveries, and all restaurants would have nothing, and the grocery store would be down to those staples that most people would not know what to do with. Within a week, there would be no dogs, cats, squirells, rabbits, deer, or fish.

Not long after, it would be time, as Marvin Monroe said to Kent Brockman, it would be time to start cracking each other’s skulls open to feast on the shiny goo inside.

@Benedick: I would not talk about the well, especially with neighbors. If there are county maps that show the well, do make sure they disappear. When the crunch hits and there’s no water to be had, you’ll be just one more body in the way. I hope you have enough ordnance, spare parts and ammo to last 10-20 years of pretty much non-stop free fire combat.

@baked: Big, brain, fancy wheelchair, but when it comes right down to it he’s just a man. Let us not forget he dumped his wife for his nurse. Even the totally paralyzed can be ratbastards.

@Capt Howdy: Thanks fot the stat. That was my first thought when I saw the enthusiastic posts about the game on the book of faces.

“Global production of food — all food — will have to increase by 50 per cent over the next 20 years to cater. . .”

Good thing climate change is freeing up some prime farmland in Canada.

@Mistress Cynica: I didn’t know Professor Xavier was in a relationship. I thought he was too busy with the X-men.

What annoys me the most about the whole situation is that there are clear and reasonably effective steps we (as a nation) could take to at least *slow* the slide into the abyss. Unfortunately, we’re stuck in a country where roughly a third of the people are not merely uninformed but PROUDLY uninformed about what’s happening. Add to that a political class increasingly driven by the need to maintain the status quo at all costs, and we’re pretty much fucked.

@FlyingChainSaw: All the neighbors have their own wells. And none of them live close by. Besides which, water pours down the mountain and our problem is how to get rid of it. Anyone shows up here I’ll give them straws and send them down to the basement. My main fear is the collapse of Zabar’s and having the entire Upper West Side decamp here searching for lox. We have a good caviar shop close by but I don’t think there’s enough chardonnay in the whole of Ulster County to get us through that kind of disaster.

just adopted a new family member.
a homeless one and a half year old black lab.

I need help.

@Capt Howdy: Dachshunds everywhere are praying for you.


Electricity and indoor plumbing are the glue that hold our society together. Lose either of those and BOOM!

TJ/ So did you hear the one about DADT reform? Seems the Senate committee has instructed the military to change the policy, but has given them free reign as to when and how they will do so.

So sometime in the next two-hundred thousand years they Gays will be able to serve openly! Everybody wins! Especially Liberdouche!

@ ‘Catt:

Ugh, another glorious win for President Unprincipled Pragmatism and his Iago, Gollum Rahm.

“We have huge congressional majorities making it very difficult to legitimately maximize the Fuckover Factor, but don’t worry we’ll figure out a way.”

Cue the Obamatons standing ovations and cheering for another backstabbing, non-accomplishment, and then their angry denouncements of the Angry Leftist Homos for not being thrilled at getting screwed over, once again.

The Republicans are still mad as H-E-L-L ’cause there’s no Hummusekshal Extermination camps set up, to which they’ll all eventually be sent anyway, so expect continuing calls for President Farce Advocate’s assassination.

All in all, it’s a win all around.

@baked: @Mistress Cynica: I’m sure that Hawkings, like the Woody Allen character (and of course Woody himself, in Sleeper, is it?), regards that big brain of his as his second favorite organ, never mind that his favorite organ has probably been decommissioned.

@Original Andrew:

I’m starting to agree with you. But what is the other option? To let the Pigfucking Retardicans retake the levers of power? At least Barry isn’t rounding us up for the camps because he needs the votes.

What is left here worth saving, people? I am the most optimistic and nationalistic member of our little salon, but I’m starting to think it is over for this country. If I can talk the Mr. into it I’ll totally make the journey North to America lite.

@Tommmcat Still Gets Carly Confused With Meg: If it weren’t for half-measures, we’d have no measures at all.

Or… wait for it…

We’ve been shortchanged.

Thank you, thank you. Now I’ll Google that and discover somebody came up with it ten months ago.

@Tommmcat Still Gets Carly Confused With Meg: I don’t agree but don’t want to inflame passions. Not that kind of passion anyway.

I’m not in on the planning sessions and have no real idea of what is or isn’t possible. I have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. And I do think we need to remember what the alternatives are. Look at the problems facing the country, look at the opposition, and look at the rather fragile coalition that is the Democratic party. There has never been a time in the history of this country that an entire broadcast network has joined with one party to represent its pov. That they have got as much done as they have it, I think, fairly amazing. Full disclosure, while thinking that DADT is absurd and destructive I cannot find myself getting that excited. This is my failing but I have yet to understand why on earth any gay man or woman would join the service knowing what they know. Far more important to me is to try to do something about the recent Court ruling which will unleash an avalanche of money on our elections. Or the destruction of any government support for the arts, which affects many more people and is also largely an attack on godless queers. So I’m not about to write them off and I still think they are far and away the best people to have in govt right now. And I know many people are all up in the air about DADT but I honestly think we should try to remain just a little calm.

There’s plenty worth saving.

Here in New Mexico, the Hispanic Palin-endorsed, Tea Party loving Mexican hater could be their gubernatorial nominee. One poll (which Mrs RML scorns) has her up by 11 over the rich old white guy. The NM GOP might also have a Hispanic candidate for lt. gov (they run separately here). I think it would be a fucking disaster for us in the fall. Mrs RML is not so pessimistic. Bill “Guv for Sale” Richardson really made it hard for the Dems this year.


Start thinking South, amigo. The weather up here is atrocious (currently raining and 53 degrees, just like February–and I’m right next door to Canadia’s Warmest City).

I’m totally up for relocating to Margaritaville. And no te preocupes about the language barrier; with some of the most beautiful men in the world, we’ll all be speaking the same language. Argentina and Brazil are poised to rocket ahead of the US vis-à-vis gay rights anyways.

@Tommmcat Still Gets Carly Confused With Meg: @Original Andrew: DOn’t tell her–I want it to be a surprise–but I’m thinking of decamping to baked’s. I’d make a great house-sitter, dog-walker, cat-tender, and Mr Cyn could help out with her crops.

@Original Andrew: Yes, it’s always sunny in Sandy Eggo, and I sure as hell ain’t moving back to the Pacific Northwest just for the snowmelt.

@flippin eck: NZ does have a well-established wine industry. Hmmmm.


I’m sick of the second-class citizen bullshit, honey. Somehow just because they don’t lobotomize us anymore and we can gather in groups without being arrested that we are supposed to just take this bullshit. I am 42 years old, how much longer do I have to wait to see this change? The military is the largest employer in the United States- are we just not supposed to have access to that?

It’s about basic human dignity. I don’t get why Gays serve either, but by God they are fit to do so; more fit, sometimes, than the straights that get to take their enlistment for granted.

And I’m not bitching at you, love, I know you agree with me on that point at least.

As for there being anything left worth saving, can you help with that? Is Wall Street worth saving? Hollywood? Congress? What? What can you name in this country that hasn’t been driven to ruin by greed or by conservatism?

@Tommmcat Still Gets Carly Confused With Meg: That stuff has never been worth saving. And it’s always been with us in one form or another. And maybe it is two steps forward, one back, or even three back, but life is so much better for young gay men and women these days. And it gets better all the time. And we should never forget that. Don’t make me go Pollyanna on your ass because you know I will. I’m older then you. I know I don’t look it but that’s a different conversation. Rights will come, are coming. This country has always been behind the curve socially. We freed our slaves, to use the parlance of the day, last. Only Brazil was later. And yes, it’s frustrating. But this country has always monetized politics. Right from the get-go. Just like we’ve monetized religion and everything else.

I still don’t think it’s anything like as bad now as the 60s. With Vietnam, assassinations and cities burning. To say nothing of see-through shirts, beads, and Nehru jackets. I don’t think it’s as bad as McCarthy when you couldn’t openly carry the New York Post (then a left-leaning paper) into an office. Whether they like it or not the country is changing. Some of it’s good – some of it isn’t.

I hear about the enthusiasm gap – which I must say I experience myself – and I worry that if we don’t work hard to make this administration do what they need to do the hard right will win again. We’re supposed to chide them and rage at them, we’re supposed to yell and scream, they will never do all the things they should. For whatever reason.

@Mistress Cynica:

Ooh, take me! It can be a …what’s the word? A kibbutz. One big drunken kibbutz.

@Tommmcat Still Gets Carly Confused With Meg: I know! I can’t think why it never occurred to us before. Hurricanes, schmurricanes–what place doesn’t have drawbacks, amirite?

@Mistress Cynica: My favorite tweet today, from FakeAPStylebook:

The four seasons are Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall. For California publications, change to Mudslide, Hillfire, Flood and Earthquake.


Are there Hellfire eruptions along Hollywood Boulevard? Too close to Satan’s naughty area would be my guess.

@Mistress Cynica & @‘Catt & @flippin eck:

Are ya’ll suggesting we get lost together on a tropical island?

I’m in!

Has to be one without deus ex machina Smoke Monsters that appear as senseless plot devices, tho.

@Original Andrew:

Nah, we were just gonna go crash at Baked’s place for the next 60 or so years.

Come to think of it, that IS a tropical island.

Lucky Baked.


Are there any Smoke Monsters on the island?

No SmoMo.

@Original Andrew: @Tommmcat Still Gets Carly Confused With Meg: @Mistress Cynica:

goody goody goody !!!! i’m waiting. i would LOVE it. we would have so much fun, i’ll probably send RB on before me

i’m scanning all i missed tody…howdy: twins!! ewww. i can never look at jeremy irons the same way.
and excellent choices by benedick, especially french lieutenant’s woman.
thanks for playing!

@lynnlightfoot: @Mistress Cynica:
good point. he’s still a man, and his big brain comes in second. no pun intended.

OA, if that’s a reference to Lost, i’ve never seen one episode. but i haven’t seen any.

going out for dinner, see you later! god, i love you guys.

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