Africa alone could feed the world

New Scientist reports on two new studies, both from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (partnered with with the World Bank or OECD), which indicate that there are between 400 million and 1.6 billion hectares of arable land which could be developed throughout Africa. To contextualise these numbers, the current world total of crop land 1.4 billion hectares.

This is relevant both for general estimates of feeding a growing population, and for those who fear the absence of modern agricultural fertilisers will spell doom for food production. Even with “less effective” methods (and that is a matter of perspective, too, from a permaculture point of view, productivity is increased by intelligent methods, not oil-based fertilisers), a vast increase in cultivated land changes things. And yeah, there are issues with how we cultivate that land, and yeah, I am in favour of natural diversity rather than monocrops. (For an example of how to go about reforestation and crop development in a sustainable and productive way through applied intelligence, check out this amazing TED talk by Willie Smits.)

I see this as a case of what Buckminster Fuller was talking about in refutation of the Malthusian notions of scarcity and competition underlying all fundamental modern institutions. It is a matter of seeing the system in a new light, as a totality, and recognising where resources actually exist. Because we have epic resources, if we can perceive them, and the system, adequately. It is a matter of more intelligent adaptation to what is real, and cooperating to make things happen.

We can grow enough food. If we do things differently.
We can do basically anything, if we do things differently.

“There is absolutely no inevitability so long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.” – Marshall McLuhan.

Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation

The transcript of this presentation (+ slides) by Dmitry Orlov at The New Emergency Conference in Dublin, on June 11, 2009, is about the most interesting thing I have read about the economy, peak oil, and sustainability. I strongly recommend it Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation. His analysis is simultaneously stark and funny. On the whole it is comprehensive, brilliant, and reading it may save your life.

Orlov is an engineer, who made his name by analysing the collapse of the USSR first-hand, and applying the lessons learned to the USA and the rest of the world. His estimate is that we are in much worse shape to cope with the coming collapse. His ideas about the process of collapse and transition are fresh and somewhat disturbing. They feel important. Most importantly, they give really interesting suggestions for what we can do.

snapshot of the times

Weirdly, one of the coolest things ever, and totally deranged. Luxury ocean liners in Russia are offering pirate hunting cruises aboard armed private yachts off the Somali coast.

Wealthy punters pay £3,500 per day to patrol the most dangerous waters in the world hoping to be attacked by raiders.

When attacked, they retaliate with grenade launchers, machine guns and rocket launchers, reports Austrian business paper Wirtschaftsblatt.

Ad rates during episodes of The Simpsons streamed online are now higher than for television advertising. Think about that a second. The change of media is here. And television had a lot of social and cultural engineering built into it. Prime time, etc. Is it over?

Check out these aerial landscape pictures of Mars from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Pretty.

Blind kid uses echolocation

Eyes surgically removed at age 2. Seems effectively unimpaired via compensations. Kind of amazing.

Gapminder: 200 years that changed the world

This is a really lucid and wonderful presentation of an overview of the economic and health developments for the world for the last 200 years, in about five minutes. Totally worth your time.

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You can play with the featured program here.

This is extremely cool. Has probably been noticed before now, but I have been well away from information sources for most of the last year.

amazing movie review

Seriously the most entertaining and fabulous movie review I have read (that I can remember, anyway). It is great. A work of genius.

How great? It makes me want to see the latest Michael Bay movie. (Admittedly, on lots of drugs.) But given my last experience with the doyen of talentlessness, that is an incredible achievement.

I am deliberately not telling you content. Go and read it now.

Thoughts on Twitter

So the moose is now on Twitter. (Voilá.)

Have spent a bunch of the last 36 hours or so investigating it. The following musings are reflections on the process so far.

Cyberspace, the internet, etc, often has a sense of space associated with it. BBS’s, forums, blog sites, web sites and portals, all of these feel like spaces, places we in some sense go to, interact in and with.

Twitter is not a space. It is a flow.

An ephemeral river of information, breezy, light. Insubstantial, quicksilver.

A harbinger of new forms of consciousness. A massive inrush of information, thoughts of the global brain. A taster of what the singularity will feel like – onrush of conceptual thoughts so so fast so so broad finding new patterns. (For further comment on this, check out the first few minutes of this Terence McKenna on the History channel youtube.)

Twitter is the most obvious applied tool to enable Timothy Leary’s rules for intelligence increase. (1. Continually expand the scope, source, intensity of the internal information you receive. 2. Constantly revise your internal reality maps, and seek new metaphors about the future to understand what’s happening now. 3. Develop external internal networks for increasing intelligence. In particular, spend all your internal time with people are smart or smarter than you. We assume that you are the Intelligence Agent from you gene pool, so you will seek Intelligence Agents from other gene-pools who will stimulate you to get smarter. ) It feels something will emerge from the widespread adoption of this tool.

All of which means it feels like it is to be interacted with fundamentally differently than a cyber-space. While it could be mistaken for, and used as, a social networking tool, it is not one.

So far at least, I don’t feel like I need to follow friends/actual acquaintances on twitter. I am uncertain how much value there is in knowing when everyone I know is having dinner, and what that dinner is, but I suspect it is less than receiving one line updates from interesting thinkers, innovators, specialised news services, etc, about what they are focusing their attention on at present. Though it will depend what use people make of it. Signal to noise ratios, and the street will decide what signal is. (I haven’t really explored the conversational side of twitter yet, so perhaps this will change.)

But on the whole, Twitter’s flow nature is so ephemeral that I don’t feel like anything important about people’s lives is going to be communicated via it often. Other mechanisms – Facebook (still not on it, though got spam saying people are requesting to make friends with me today…), blogs, and other more “substantial” feeling spaces seem like they will house “important” announcements about people’s lives. I know of people who have announced pregnancies seemingly only on Facebook, but it would seem weird to do that on Twitter (unless retweeting goes crazy for certain data, but even then, we run into usability issues, needing to avoid a deluge of repetition of trivial/low information content tweets. (Er, not that babies are trivial…)) I mean, obviously some important stuff will be communicated – that is the value of the system – but it will be of a different kind – the modality (160 characters) dictates the form and content of communication – this kind is itself still evolving.

So yeah. Interesting. Still tweaking the system, finding a balance, finding new things to follow. What are other’s experiences, thoughts?

air penguins of the future

Link to a short video of a tech company showing off their toys. Weirdly realistic artificial swimming penguins. Lighter than air flying penguins. Interactive walls. Molecube based robots. Some of it is pretty freaky. Worth a few minutes of random gaping attention.

resources to help you blow your mind a little

Have a few links to resources of information for blowing your mind:

Possession and trance video links and general interestingness. basically a pdf dump of psychedelic, philosophy, psychology, magical, mind hacking kind of stuff. Really excellently curated stuff in there.

And for the more mystical/occult flavoured thinkers out there, check out grimoar. 1465 (and counting) pdfs etc on everything spiritual from any point of view you can imagine. You can upload stuff yourself, which is a neat touch.

So I guess I’ll be going download crazy. Too much information at the fingertips. But it is so cool.

Oh, and also, filecrop is an excellent search engine that searches all of rapidshare and megaupload in real time. You can find basically anything on there, free if not legal.

Find some good informations and cram them into your brain meats.

offline peace

Was offline for a few days, at a different than advertised time due to random connection shenanigans.

On reflection, it was really nice being offline. Thinking about ways to reduce online time. Make it more of a tool again than a habit.

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