Bioprospecting, Ecological Services and Feeding 10 Billion

tagua nut scrimshaw

So this is one of those rabbit trails I have no idea will come between the first and second cup of coffee in the morning browse.

From the Anthropocene Magazine link called provocatively “Making Nature Pay for Itself” I followed the trail to a plant-based ivory substitute to the Author of the article David Simpson to the Breakthrough Institute where he publishes to the environmental iconoclasts Nordhaus and Shellenberger and their notions that nuclear energy and big ag are the only ways to save the natural world.

And while I am using Roam Research wonderful and recently-available and still-developing tool for cognitive connections to hold onto this trail to follow on another morning, I paste the early stages below because, well–because it’s my space and I’m pretty much the only one using it, and maybe–if unlikely–somebody else will stumble across this and follow the scent. Towards…dunno. But that’s the thrill of exploring ideas, isn’t it?

  • Phytelephas – Wikipedia tagua or vegetable ivory, bioresource utilization #blogthis see also The Problem with Making Nature Pay for Itself | Anthropocene [[**R. David Simpson**]] https://thebreakthrough.org/about
    • Given trade restrictions in elephant ivory as well as animal welfare concerns, ivory palm endosperm is often used as a substitute for elephant ivory today, and traded under the names vegetable ivory, palm ivory, marfim-vegetal, corozo, tagua, or jarina. When dried out, it can be carved just like elephant ivory; it is often used for beads, buttons, figurines and jewelry, and can be dyed. More recently, palm ivory has been used in the production of bagpipes.[4]
    • Vegetable ivory stimulates local economies in South America, provides an alternative to cutting down rainforests for farming, and prevents elephants from being killed for the ivory in their tusks.[4]
    • How an obscure seed is helping to save the elephant – BBC News
      • Numbers of elephants in the wild are still falling; it’s estimated 100 of them are killed by poachers every day for their tusks to meet the continuing demand for ivory.
  • https://thebreakthrough.org/about
    • The Breakthrough Institute was founded in 2007 by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger. Breakthrough’s early work built on Nordhaus and Shellenberger’s argument, first articulated in their 2004 essay “The Death of Environmentalism,” that 20th-century environmentalism cannot address complex, global, 21st-century environmental challenges like climate change.
      • “Toward that end, Breakthrough has been a leading advocate for innovation in advanced nuclear designs and business models.
      • In particular, we have made the case for industrial food systems. Large-scale industrial food systems are more land-, water-, and GHG-efficient than small scale low-intensity farming, and are better able to harness technology to increase land productivity, which holds the key to both climate mitigation and preserving biodiversity.
      • ecomodernism, a movement built on decoupling environmental impact from human well being. In 2015, 19 coauthors, including several Breakthrough representatives, published An Ecomodernist Manifesto, which laid out this new environmental vision and sparked a debate about the future of environmentalism that continues today.
      • Bioprospecting environmental services conservation rural-to-urban transition #energy #biodiversity #agriculture
      • https://diigo.com/0gnovr

The Agonies of Ink to Paper

My morning pages sometimes get out of hand. What can I say? I’m hearing conversations with inanimate objects now. So lock me up.

They ended up, one atop the other, in the back of my car, both bound for the final resting place–unfortunately in the local landfill and not in a next home where each would have been appreciated by yet another human master. There were no takers, and so we’d come to this day, and it had to be done.

I pondered the moment, hat in hand. These two strangers had been distant relatives in life, by purpose, in the putting of ink to paper–a need that first met its application in the crudest form by spewed red ochre paint against a hand, pressed hard against the cold stone of a dark, flame-lit cave in the ancient past. I. Am. Here.

And that impulse to leave one’s mark ultimately and perhaps inevitably found easier and faster and better ways to say and show in words and pixels–harking back as I stood there musing, to my own early and current and largely underwhelming attempts to leave my own mark at Fragments from Floyd and elsewhere, in stories and images, day by day, personal and public.

And so I found myself eulogizing the two of them, there on the asphalt, anticipating the metallic echo when I unceremoniously tossed them into the empty metal grave, a dark cave where they would leave no mark at all. They were so different, even with their shared purpose–the one (a Remington Rand vintage 1930s that belonged to my wife’s father) and the other, an Epson 2880 Professional Color Printer from the twenty-teens, that had been mine. The two of them, in their mechanical simplicity or complexity, in their own ways were GORP extenders, enhancing the work of the good old reliable pencil. But I digress.

They were–these two tools–our slaves to do our bidding, we the masters with minds and hands and creative impulses to show or tell. Built for very specific service, they had no reason to exist, apart from the effective performance of that function. That work was the measure of their worth and justification for the continued presence of each of them taking up precious space in our home–until that fateful day.

The one, kept long after its work had been superseded by a younger upstart, its form and symbol and family history made it worth keeping unseen in the Very Back Room for the past twenty years. The other lived in a gleaming plastic cowling housing God only knows what arcane chips and circuits such that, when just ONE of them gives up the ghost, the malignant tool becomes useless with no aesthetic or historical point to its continued presence.

Both would soon become bits of flotsam in the strata of the Floyd County land fill. And yet, they had both taken up space or energy, had offered in their time the opportunity to say or show something from the personal life of their owners. I rarely simply toss such touched objects away, without them being remembered–if not celebrated–in some way.

The Remington, in its day, was a metallic marvel of miniaturized complexity compared to its earlier predecessors, starting in Mr. Gutenberg’s basement in 1450. The now-defunct 80-something-year-old typer was somewhat less portable than the pencil, it is true, but its marks were consistently legible and produced with lightning rapidity compared to writing by hand.

The dialogue between a writer’s mind and this machine was spare and direct; this was a slave that simply obeyed your fingers, one hammered letter at a time. There was no backtalk, no delays, no excuses. Only the occasional slap of the carriage return was required to bring ideas into a new paragraph, rewarded by the bell attesting to the machine’s obedience and compliance.

Turn the platen knob to add another page of white bond paper and finish the job. If a ribbon’s ink grew faint on the page, threading on a new spool was the most difficult intervention required to type all day, as long as your fingers could hammer the levers sufficiently hard and often. Dumb. Obedient. Human-powered. Just so many levers and pulleys you could rely on. It had never caused much human grief. But neither was it able to offer value or service and over it went, without malice or grief, into the dumpster.

I will admit to a combined joy-with-revenge as the Epson took its final plunge. A pox on all your kind!

Yes, it was in theory an extension of the creative mind that sought to reproduce in the mind of another the exact representation of light-on-object from a landscape or portrait or family memory. How hard could it be: send a micro-droplet of just the correct color ink to the exact spot on the canvas. Paint by numbers, in bits and bytes. And voila! A print suitable for framing. If only…

Unlike the Remington, the Epson always had its own ideas, and could not be rushed. Each intended print job was preceded by an unpredictably long clearing of the throat, by whirrs and chirps and wildly-ranging print heads back and forth. And back and forth. Until finally, it was ready for my command to PRINT.

No it wasn’t. In addition to the ON light another warning light invariably signaled disorder, disease or dementia. An alarm popped up over the Epson icon on the dock of the Mac. “Your ramfrangle is mis-aligned. Please spin around three times and try again.” You’re jerking my chain. I spin around as instructed. Take a few calming breaths. And try again to make one simple print.

The fat lady begins her guttural noise but never sings. “You must replace the YK112 light purple ink cartridge now.” I rummage through a hundred dollars worth of ink-by-epson and there is no such thing as light purple YK112. I go back to the printer dialogue. “Just kidding. Replace black, Jack.”

And finally, all seems well and third time’s charm: PRINT! I command. And with great fanfare and pomp the sheet of Epson Premier Glossy at last begins to disappear millimeter by millimeter into the machine. And it comes out into the tray a perfect unblemished WHITE.

So in on your demented, obstinate, rebellious, incompetent head, YOU! I sing at the sound of your carcass reverberating in the Green Grave. And then and there I determine that, when I get home, I will seek out a handful of yellow Number 2’s and the long-neglected pencil sharpener and live happily every after.

[The Curious Evolution of the Typewriter, in Pictures](https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-curious-evolution-of-the-typewriter-in-pictures-509985235)

[Instructions for the Operation and Care of Remington Portables, 1936](http://machinesoflovinggrace.com/manuals/manual-1936RemingtonPortables.pdf)

Tools for Thought

It’s a niche interest, maybe; geeky, if you will. But I continue to explore ways that the computer keyboard and monitor that most of us have in our homes these days can do a better job of gathering information and meaning, and not just stupefying us with entertainment and distraction.

Also, we presently lack good ways of validation and credibility of the sources we find to support our thinking (we seldom set out to find evidence that falsifies our strongly-held beliefs.)

Add to that the way the present web connects resource to resource, but plays little or no role in weighing of one resource over another for our purposes (ideas, concepts, thought webs, creative design.)

There are tools both extant and under development to address both the credibility and integration of resources towards “cognitive productivity” and “augmented learning.” Our brains are not being used to best effect with the current siloed info-aggregators. If there ever was a time we needed collaborative wisdom, it is now.

So possibly, I will write here about my explorations in memory and thought-enhancement by the tools and techniques at our disposal. One of those might be contained in this video. Another, a evolving outline in a tool for creative thought called ROAM–at this link.

A Future of Keystrokes, Minutes and Synapses

These are the things that I tell myself every morning are in limited and consistently depleted supply. Every morning, this reality should drive me to the top of my task and projects list.

And almost every morning, instead, I’m not driven anywhere in particular, other than where my whimsy points me—whimsy backed by curiosity, interest and the hope of discovering something new to know that I didn’t know I wanted or needed to know.

It turns out that “genius” and creativity hold a place for undisciplined “wandering”. I recommend this article that looks at the role of aptitude and focused work versus serendipity, wasting time and just showing up–in the realm of becoming a master of some domain of knowledge or ability.

The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius by Paul Graham

Meanwhile (as Steven Colbert is fond of saying with great drama) I have now purchased three Affinity apps: Photos, Designer and Publisher. The latter two are now on sale for $35. I have bailed from Adobe products and now OWN outright the tools for digital creativity, should I ever be in that line of hobby-work again. I may yet need to create posters, handbills, etc should I venture into another magnum opus or dust off my speaker’s notes.

BTW I used Designer to cobble the graphic in a few minutes, and in time, will figure out why the WordPress editor won’t position the image properly. But for now, approximate is close enough for what you pay me.

And finally, tomorrow our little kitten Mosey (grown from 2.5 pounds to almost 7 now) goes to town to (as Gary Larsen would have it) to get TUTORED. We will hope to contain her in the carrying tote we purchased for just this purpose; listen to her howl between Goose Creek and town; and fetch her, less her baby software, tomorrow afternoon, and hope that she forgive us this additional insult, so close on the heels of leaving her at home alone for 4 days (with occasional human resupply and mostly failed attempts at socialization.)

So as you note here, this is one the once familiar “Seinfeld” blog posts about nothing in particular. But I paid my server-host friend for another year of hosing Fragments, so I’ll be darned if I’m going to be totally silent for the next 12 months. I’m looking for ways to streamline the process, lower the friction to posting and to image discovery and down-res-ing for blog purposes.

So I may in future be saying more about less. But I can’t promise I won’t get wound up and churn out an essay, homily or screed.

At the End of Your Rope

Pulling, lifting, holding, securing, lashing and binding. Construction, seafaring, sports, adventure.

For these purposes, even in our age of advanced technologies, nothing has or will ever come along to replace “the rope.”

First found in use around 17,000 years ago, the basic design has remained little changed,  the natural jute, cotton, or hemp fibers have been replaced by nylon and other synthetics since my boyhood. (I remember how hard on the hands was the natural rope we used in the last-evening bonfire tug-of-war at summer camp.)

It is such an inexpensive and low-tech tool with so many varied and practical uses in everyday life that I marvel that some kind of knots-and-bends instruction is not a mandatory part of everyone’s early education.

So towards that end I highly recommend you parents and grandparents go to the site below (image above from that site). From the long lists, find a bend, an end-loop, mid-loop, bend and hitch that you like.

Become proficient in these four “knots” and then teach them to your young person, explaining when and where each might be used. My guess is that,   watching the step by step instructions,  young minds and hands will catch on with alarmingly greater ease than your venerable old noggin and gnarly digits.

Do this, and you will have passed along life skills worth knowing. And they will thank you for it. (You may have to upload the site to their cellphone to generate any interest at all and to increase the odds of participation.)

[su_button url=”http://www.animatedknots.com/” target=”blank” style=”glass” background=”#6fd2eb” color=”#1f1717″ size=”6″ wide=”yes” center=”yes” radius=”5″ icon=”icon: anchor” icon_color=”#ffffff” text_shadow=”1px 1px 0px #000000″]Animated Knots by Grog[/su_button]