Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
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Like my brownhouse:
   sociopathic companies like Monsanto
Friday, November 27 2015
At noon, Gretchen's parents would be heading off to Pittsburgh to oversee upgrades made to an apartment they'd bought there, but first we had a leisurely breakfast. An conversation about Palestine became momentarily heated, partly because Gretchen isn't nearly as reflexively anti-Palestinian as she used to be. Still, it seems like her parents take a more nuanced view and Gretchen's mother was even considering taking a guided tour of Palestine to "avoid the filter," though I expressed my doubt that it would be possible to come away from any such experience without having been affected by the propaganda of somebody. Later, Gretchen and I talked with Gretchen's father about genetically modified organisms, and I was somewhat taken aback by how reflexively anti-GMO he has become given his normal aversion to crackpot woo-woo nonsense and the value he places on the things science tell us. As for Gretchen, I'm not surprised that she hates GMOs, since that hatred has become a tribal signifier among food-conscious lefties. But when you talk to Gretchen or her father in-depth about GMOs, it turns out that they're actually more upset about the sociopathic capitalism practiced by companies like Monsanto than about GMOs per se. That said, Gretchen's father also seemed to worry about what Frankenstein monsters GMOs might unleash. Though he had once been a medical doctor and worked for the National Institute of Health, it's been many years since he'd been in a biology classroom, and judging by what he was saying, he seemed to have the impression that genes cannot naturally leap between unrelated species. But, as I argued this morning with an example from the world of termites, they can. This means that there's no GMO that a human can engineer that cannot also be created by nature itself. And once you know that, GMOs don't seem particularly terrifying, especially given the lack of fitness that usually results from genetic engineering. As for the evil of Monsanto, I mostly agree with GMO-haters on that.
After Gretchen's parents departed, I continued drinking the coffee I'd started drinking earlier, and it gave me a low-level feeling of euphoria. This was perhaps intensified by the glorious nature of the day. It was sunny and temperatures reached up as high as the upper 60s. And there was even less reason than usual to go salvage firewood, so I didn't.
Late this afternoon and continuing for over five hours, I waged a cleaning jihad in the laboratory, where I'd be meeting with my adolescent mentee tomorrow. This qualifies as the sort of major laboratory cleaning that can only be expected to happen once every two or three years. Though I threw almost nothing out, I somehow managed to organize and put away the sprawling clutter in such a way that the laboratory came to almost look tidy. It certainly helped that I went around with the vacuum cleaner sucking up dust bunnies, stray catnip, and assorted dirt. When I lifted the carpet fragment beneath my main computer's chair area, I found fine sifted dust had created a desert-like landscape, a satisfying things to slurp up with the vacuum cleaner hose. I also went around with a wet rag to clean up various stains from spilled tea and perhaps cat urine. While this did little to improve the look of the floor, it worked miracles on the window sill.

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