What intelligence?

How we have prioritized as’ artificial’ as ‘improved’ or superior hearkens back to nothing so much as the advent of sugar substitutes. As we have come to understand artificial sweeteners, so should we think about, as in consider, so-called A.I. The emphasis on artificial has us reeling but in its best light it seems inadvertent – innocently derived from ‘simulated’ – and, whatever the case may be, is not new:

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, ‘I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so’. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:

While freely conceding that the Soviet régime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigours which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.

The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find – this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify – that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

You always want it to be more difficult to find an example from Orwell than it actually is.

Got Milk?

Sweet little baby in the manger I don’t even know where to start with this. A family portrait of our bloat if there was a need for a new one. The economic ‘slowdown’ (c’mon!) has led to a growing surplus of so many things we’ve been overproducing as a means to take advantage of growing markets… either we’re such children about this or our economic system remains too primitive as to allow for self-destructive indulgence – which are basically the same things.

Anyway, cows. Too many. Producing far too much milk. So much that the government price floor kicks in and we begin to buy the excess while producers continue to feed and milk Elsie so as not be caught flat-footed when things ‘recover’. Please. And this.

In China, for instance, per-person dairy consumption nearly doubled in just five years, to 63 pounds in 2007 from 33 pounds in 2002 (though it remains far below the per-capita consumption in the United States of about 580 pounds), according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council. The growth translates into the need for nearly 40 billion pounds more milk each year, roughly equal to California’s annual milk production.

Okay, stop right there. 580 pounds of milk per year per person, and the Chinese are up to 63? Forget methane and the effects of cow flatulence on CO2 emissions for a second and just think about how
much more we are consuming than, one might suspect, we really need. It’s not just a little extra but on the level of orders of magnitude. I do not know what the optimum consumption of milk per annum would be. But I do think that whether it is 137 or 683 lbs. it should be separate and apart from how I define the idea of personal freedom. If I want to consume 974 pounds per year, fine. Set a healthy range for my consumption (b/c I’m obviously incapable) and charge me more when I whiz past it. For the milk, for the extra weight on my plane ticket, for the added trips to the doctor, for the car tips to work b/c I’m feeling too ‘slow’ to bike in. The impulse to set price floors for the cost of anything is being calibrated in the wrong direction. Let’s determine what consuming all this milk is costing us and set price parameters based on that.

As a part of this we can begin to understand all of these excess points in housing, automobiles, and commodities of all sorts as part and parcel of the ‘slowdown’. We’re slowing down because we’re bloated; when you’re out of shape and out of breath, you can’t help but slowdown. I don’t mean to make this sound so simple and will stop if others will throttle back on making it seem so complicated.

Food, and where it comes from

There exist all manner of local food co-operatives and CSA ( Community Supported Agriculture) projects. In most of the rest of the world this is not a newsflash in need of acronyms; but even Americans are becoming increasingly in tune with what our far-flung system of food distribution hath wrought. Organic and long shelf-life don’t really go together, though if we demand them at any price, they can be found. But there are some truisms that crush this paradigm occasionally, like the fact that fruits are seasonal and vegetables taste best on or near the day they come out of the ground.

Enter Athens Locally Grown. Well… I did. Fresh and online, it’s the largest farmer’s market in Georgia. Watch below.