25 November, 2009

The Idiot Gambit

So does anyone out there still believe global warming is a huge conspiracy?  Are there still people who have their heads so far up their own asses and who like the scenery there better?

Because I'm 52, and I've spent 39 years of that in Western Australia, and I've got news for the naysayers.  Keep your head right were it is.  Just keep your nose out of everyone else's efforts to stem this.  And yes one in particular I'm thinking of when I say that is short, has bushy eyebrows, and was our Prime Minister a few years back.  Unfortunately.

Every year of the time since arriving in 1965 is there in my memory somewhere.  And damned if there wasn't more rain in those memories, more time each year that vegetation remained green instead of dried up.  And it wasn't the explosive kind of tinder dry we've been getting the last few years, either.  Bushfires were scary when I was a kid, but they weren't the uncontrollable monsters I've seen here in WA - never mind the Black Saturday.

And this year is only the second time that I've gotten two crops of tomatoes off my plants, one lot in the "deep of winter."  The only other time something like this happened was in the Northwest, where "winter" is days with temperatures dipping below 20C and an unreasonably cold winter's day is one where the mercury's approaching 14C...

I've seldom seen the weather as unsettled and uppredictable as it currently is, either.  Nor have I seen as many people I respect being so concerned about the rapid acceleration of all effects of global warming.  So I've made it my personal mission to grow my own food as much as possible, produce it with as little manufacturing or processing as possible, and make sure my skillsets include as much as I can fit in about animals and plants and old land lore.

I figure that if I'm wrong, the worst thing that can happen is that I get to look like an idiot to others - but an alive idiot.  If I'm right, there'll be a lot of dead idiots and I'll be the one looking...

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16 November, 2009

HPSUV Is Pretty Good. But.

It's admirable that more and more human-powered vehicles are coming to the public attention.  (Follow the link in the article to the human-powered 4WD SUV and check out the pictures.)

I looked at the images of the pedal quad hopping rocks, getting all askew on a downhill run on a goat trail, and sliding sand dunes.  First thought was NOT "Wow! What an interesting vehicle!"  First thought WAS "Clever bike!"

I can't help it - I rode bikes, I know they have a certain speed range and power-speed curve that limits them to certain terrain, certain speeds, and certain athletes or couch potatoes.  For me, a human powered machine is out, unless by "human powered" the designer meant "shovel a few humans you don't like into the fire box and then move Lever A to positi..." Emphysema does that to you.  

But even when I was healthy and climbing 300metre antenna towers two and more times a day, I wouldn't have considered a bike to be anything remotely like a vehicle.  For a start, in the Northwest where I was, a vehicle had a roof and air conditioning.   And it covered between 400 and a thousand kilometres a day.  Without me having to tow along a tanker of water to stay hydrated in 48C temperature days.  Oh yeah and the tyres had to be made out of hardier stuff to drive over rocks and bitumen hot enough to slow cook eggs.

Looking at the action images, I had to admit they looked like fun.  Except.  I, like hundreds of others who will look at the pictures, will see a bike and wish there were an an engine. We're grown lazy from having the false impression that some deceased dinosaurs and trees pushing us around is a right.....

07 November, 2009

Rabbitted Off

I drove almost 50km each way to get these two - only to get overcharged $5 each on them. The address where I picked them up turned out to be Mundijong Rural Supplies, and I was expecting to pay $15 each for them, but was charged $20 apiece. I arrived home and checked the advert they'd placed in the Quokka, and yes they have overcharged me. It's only $10 but to someone on a pension that's a fairly substantial hit, especially after splashing out on extra petrol as well. So I'm very disappointed and I'm letting you know what happened to me.

That's now on my Facebook for everyone to see.  I'm just so disappointed that they would do something like that, and I really hope it makes other people think twice before buying anything from Mundijong Rural in future.  I'll contact them tomorrow and see what they say.  There's no way I want to drive another 90-plus km to get $10 back, so it's going to be interesting to see how the plan to resolve this.  I'll keep them honest.

Nope - I was told that $15 is "for the guinea pigs" and not for the rabbits. Bear in mind that the ad in the Quokka says NOTHING whatsoever about guinea pigs, only the NZ White rabbits. So she's not only dishonest in her actions, she kept lying to justify herself.  Here's the ad direct off the website:

RABBITS (10) New Zealand white, 8 wks old $15 ea. Mndjng. 04xx-xxx-xxx

That's the entire ad, doesn't look like there's much in there that could be mistaken for "$20 per rabbit, $15 per guinea pig" now does it?  I hate people who do this,I hope you do too.

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03 November, 2009

Pseudo Science, Wired Style

Quick thoughts when reading this article.

A) Since that's obviously NOT happening, (i.e. an area the size of the state of TX is NOT under intense farming just to feed the dogs and cats of the USA) you need to question the initial results that prompted the article.  A study by architects, of an agricultural problem.  It's easy for a few inaccurate base assumptions to multiply through the calculation chain.

B) That also presumes, I imagine, that the architects drew on their vast repository of knowledge of what goes into petfood, and extrapolated that into prime cuts of beef and lamb.  The truth is that the majority of the meat that goes into petfood is the trimmings from the beautiful prime cuts that we hunt down in their styrofoam trays in supermarkets, so while meat processors may be being a bit more generous with their trimmings, it hardly adds up to the huge foodprint (which BTW is of my coinage, thank you Wired mag!) that's being claimed.  If the trimmings weren't economically attractive as pet food, unscrupulous operators would find a way to recycle them as stock feed, leading to BSE, scrapie, and human Jakobs-Kreuzfeldt.

C) A lot more pet meat is supplied from culling operations.  When hunters cull donkey or kangaroo numbers, that doesn't represent animals that were specifically grown to feed the ravenous pet food market, that represents a lessening of the demand on natural resources that our own meat livestock can then use.  So again, there's a HUGE chunk of the pet foodprint that's proven to be actually beneficial.

D) The energy needs of the USA and the foodprint of pets are not equivalent.  It's apples and oranges.  I can, at need, change my pets to rabbits and chickens, and therefore gain a local food source.  The same can't be said of electricity generated by a national grid.  Also - I can easily change my pets over to a local food source, such as breeding rabbits and chickens to feed my cat.  It would mean I have to expand my garden a bit, and find a local water source - but it's do-able, by me, without too much material needed.  Solar panels on the other hand, are beyond my capabilities to manufacture.  And that leads to -

E) The amount of land that needs to be covered in solar energy recovery technology isn't the whole story.  If you add in the manufacture costs of the solar panels and collectors themselves, you find that the space they cover is the least of your worries...  The toxins and pollution and raw materials needed eclipse the environmental effect of the land they would cover.

My readers know that I do everything in my power to be eco-friendly and save on everything and anything that I can.  You know that I write pretty impassioned articles myself, pointing out where we're wasteful or messy or just plain malicious to the earth.  But crap quality reporting like this, seeking a cheap sensationalist hook, just dilute the good articles.

Yes, your pets are expensive to keep.  But it's also been proven that people with pets are less stressed, leading to more productive lives.  More productive lives leads to better utilisation of resources, meaning you yourself don't need to use the services of a psychiatrist as often, you won't be at the doctor and consuming medications as much for stress-related illnesses, and you'll produce more in return for the food that you eat than someone who spends a month every year at home sick with SRI.

And you can switch your pet from extensivley processed and packaged pet food (which they don't really appreciate any more than raw feed) to something less processed.  My two cats eat frozen kangaroo meat cubes, a small amount of tinned or pouch-sealed commercial cat food, mainly because I don't always have the 'roo meat to hand, and a handful of cat biscuits a week for dental health.

Compare and contrast my cats' one or two tins of catfood a week, one cupful of cat biscuits, and about four cupfuls of diced 'roo, against two almost identical cats eating seven tins of cat food, almost a full 1kg packet of cat biscuits, and no raw meat whatsoever.  On top of that, because I keep rabbits and don't overfeed the cats, they also help themselves to the occasional mouse snack when any mice get among the rabbit feed.

Oh - and as far as "feeding America's energy needs" is concerned. Has it ever occurred to these plonkers that one might, you know, reduce one's energy needs instead?

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