Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 8th, 2010

Having fun

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We went to Dia:Beacon this morning. Fascinating minimalist modern sculpture in a 300,000-sq-ft museum. The first work we saw, North East South West consists of four large (20′ deep) holes in a concrete floor. The “holes” are actually enormous metal (dark rusted steel) constructions whose upper opening is exactly flush with the floor: in order, a cubical space which has a smaller cubical space at the bottom, a truncated inverted cone, a trough—straight sides slanting to a flat bottom 20′ below—and finally another cone, truncated but not inverted (the bottom having a greater diameter than the top), the opening in the floor defining the plane of truncation.

They were oddly hard to see at first: “seeing” is a brain activity that involves interpreting the sense perceptions, and these were quite hard to interpret because we’ve not seen their like. The last was particularly awe-inspiring (i.e., scary—especially as you approach the edge). These, with openings about 15′-20′ across, were in a vast room with nothing else, so they were uncrowded. We saw them with a guide, by ourselves (three of use: me, The Son, and The Daughter-in-Law). All viewers must be escorted. Photos were not allowed, but a photo would have shown nothing, really. You truly have to be there.

I pictured groups of kindergartners wandering around, but the guide said that no one has so far fallen into the pits. So I inquired, and was told that you have to be 18 or older to see these, which makes sense. They are truly adult works of art, like My Dinner With Andre is an adult movie: kids simply would not get it.

The originals of North and East are in a desert setting in Nevada, far from anything else. They must seem quite mysterious to those who come upon them, and I would imagine are gradually being filled with scorpions, lizards, snakes, and other small wildlife that fall into them. I asked the guide and she said she had never thought of that and didn’t know.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2010 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Art

“Vote Republican”

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Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2010 at 10:40 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Video

Helping Afghans without shooting at them

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Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2010 at 10:13 am

Maybe not that brand of eggs…

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I see that the organic, free-range eggs I’ve been buying are from an egg farm that is rated only 1 out of a possible 5. I’m going to have to take a copy of the list with me when I next buy eggs. Kiera Butler reports at Mother Jones:

The chickens pictured on the egg producer Chino Valley Ranchers’ Simply Organic site look pretty happy. And from the description of their digs, it sounds like they’d have good reason to be: "When you walk into the chicken houses and you see all the birds scratching around in the dirt, running around, flapping their wings and hear the soft clucking from each of them, you can feel their contentment," the copy below the little fuzzballs reads. "It is the way nature intended."

An industrial henhouse jam-packed with 36,000 birds, on the other hand, is probably not "the way nature intended." But that is exactly what investigators from the organic food advocacy group Cornucopia Institute found when they visited a Wisconsin henhouse that supplies Chino Valley Ranchers with organic eggs.

And Chino Valley isn’t alone. A recent Cornucopia investigation revealed that conditions at many facilities that produce organic eggs are often just as crowded and industrial as those at conventional egg farms. And although US organic standards require outdoor access for laying hens, Cornucopia found that at many organic farms, "outdoors" often consists of nothing more than a tiny concrete screen porch adjoining the tenement-like henhouse.

Last year, twelve organic egg producers (listed below) signed a letter to the National Organic Standards Board opposing the rule that mandates organic operations to grant their chickens outdoor access. They argued that the rule put too much of a financial burden on producers; the Cornucopia report excerpts a comment that Bart Slaugh, Eggland’s Best‘s director of quality assurance, posted to the NASD: "The push for continually expanding outdoor access and decreasing protection needs to stop," writes Slaugh.

Cornucopia plans to file an official complaint to the USDA about the conditions at four farms (listed below), including Hillandale Farms, one of the culprits in the recent salmonella outbreak. While it hasn’t been proven that organic eggs are less likely to be contaminated with salmonella than conventional eggs, Cornucopia cofounder Mark Kastel believes that crowded factory-farm conditions can breed disease. "If you are living in these filthy conditions it takes a tremendous toll on your immune system," he says. "And when you are dealing with those incredibly huge industrial scales, you can’t pay attention to the health of individual birds."

Cornucopia rates major organic egg producers it investigated on this scorecard. (The setup is a little confusing, since the lowest scorers were those that refused to participate in Cornucopia’s survey, not the farms where the most egregious violations were found. That’s because Cornucopia rightly believes that producers of organic food should be transparent about their operations.) Here’s a list of the organic egg producers that Cornucopia is filing a complaint against, plus the twelve companies that signed the letter opposing outdoor access for chickens:

Egg producers against which Cornucopia is filing a complaint: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2010 at 8:39 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

Don’t miss Krugman today

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He provides an example of how the US is in decline—rather precipitous decline.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2010 at 4:42 am

Posted in Daily life

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