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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:30 pm 
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Aquifers are their own slow-moving ecological disaster. For one thing, irrigation is a slow-motion "salt the earth" exercise. Whole civilizations have risen and fallen on the back of irrigation.

Farmland is a precious and finite commodity too, and doesn't always get treated as such. Look, we all subscribe to capitalism. Under such a system people have a right to make money and profit, and we all certainly enjoy the trappings of it. All of us are posting here using computers that run on power generated by the fossil fuel industry, and have cars running on gasoline in our driveways, and in general just love the lives we get to lead because of oil, while enjoying the food grown by the agricultural industry. But it still frustrates me to see the city I live in sprawl and pave over some of the best farmland in the world, and to see the earth maimed in the quest for fossil fuel. Of course, I'm a nice hypocrite on this one because I love driving, and I love suburban living and my almost-an-acre lot of land. At least I use some of it for a vegetable garden ;)


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:42 pm 
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Given how poorly-constructed the houses in sprawl neighborhoods tend to be, you could almost argue that they amount to a system for preserving farmland for 50 to 100 years.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:03 pm 
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Alternatives are emerging, though. My computer (and whole house) runs on wind power. Solar panels are getting cheaper by the day. There are ecological consequences to scaling both those power sources up far enough to run everything, of course, but I don't think they can compare to the ecological consequences of mountaintop-removal coal mining, fracking, digging up oil shale, and other means of getting at fossil fuels, and then burning them.

Sprawl onto farmland can be contained, too. Oregon has done that successfully for more than 40 years. The economy still thrives, and businesses still come here.

I'm saying these things again not to proclaim the socialist paradise that is Oregon (because it isn't), but to point out that we can still have capitalism, and electricity, and cars, even without fossil fuel. We're humans—we can adapt, if we have the will.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:47 pm 
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As I was writing that, I was thinking about alternative energy sources. I am a big fan of developing alternatives. I think we're going to need them some day. If not us, then our descendants. We should work on them now.

Something I don't know about alternatives: can they really produce enough for everybody? I personally think we'd have to become more circumspect with how we consume power. I think we can do that without dinging our lifestyles. Heck, you know what it costs to run the "old" Christmas lights on your house as opposed to LED ones? A heck of a lot more! That's just one example.

As far as food production goes: the USA wastes about 40 percent of the food it produces. It wastes a lot of water and energy in the process, too. About 80 percent of California's water usage goes towards food production, for instance. That number is probably true for other states with big agricultural sectors, too.

There is a lot of room to cut out waste and resource consumption, but it would be unAmerican to mandate doing so because now you are depriving some people of their capitalism-given right to make a profit or to spend their money as they wish. I suppose in the case of agriculture the problem would resolve itself if we paid true cost for food, since it would seem expensive to throw away food --- but we do not. We pay an indirect price for the food we throw out because we don't think about the money we already ponied up in tax subsidies to the agricultural section and all the other bits and pieces of commerce that gets us our food, right down to our welfare subsidies to Walmart so they can have cheap labor.

I'm curious - how has Oregon contained sprawl on farmland? How big is Oregon's agricultural sector compared to California's? I suppose if 10% ( random number ) of your state is used to grow food, it is easier to protect than if, say, 40% of it is.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 10:13 pm 
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With energy efficiency increasing steadily (I love LEDs, too), there's got to be a way. And some technologies like solar can be installed at the point of use, spreading out the cost of infrastructure.

Water's an issue here, too, especially because the salmon fishery swims up those rivers to spawn. They can't be drawn too low or an entire fishing season can be wrecked. Some dams are being removed to save threatened salmon runs. Battling crops.

As for farmland in Oregon, I can't find a number for the state overall, but numbers for counties except right on the seacoast are all more than 10%. For example, Marion County, which is in western Oregon in the Willamette Valley just south of the Portland metro area, is 40% farmland. On the eastern side of the mountains it's over 90% in some counties.

Most of the state's population (including me) lives in the Willamette Valley, and all of the largest cities and towns are there. But driving through it up I-5, you would say it's mostly rural unless you're actually passing through Eugene or Salem or Portland. The percentage of farmland is decreasing, but slowly, and some of the loss is because farms are defined as 50 acres or more and some farms are breaking into smaller ones for, say, growing organic vegetables or raising bees for honey. The city I live in is re-zoning for denser housing development partly because we can't easily increase the urban growth boundary. A bean field we lived next to almost 30 years ago has been developed into a subdivision, but it was already inside the city limits, not just the growth boundary.

This is all the result of a statewide land-use planning law that was passed in 1973. It's probably the strictest such law in the nation, but we've survived it. At this point I think some people regard it as an asset, making the state a desirable place to live. But I'm sure there was huge resistance when it was first put in place—it tells people who own land what they can or can't do with it. But that was the only way to keep the Willamette Valley from being paved over completely by now.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 3:37 pm 
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This is a good summary of Obama's presidency as his final year begins.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/ ... nts-213487

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:56 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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That was a good read but I'd like to read analysis with less obvious political bias one way or the other. I'm ok with someone saying "hey, look at all the good stuff Obama's accomplished!", but even the greatest president ever is going to have ideas that turn out badly here and there and an honest overview should include those too.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:05 pm 
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Surely, my dear yov, you would not have to try too hard to find negative critiques of this particular president to balance the positive critique. ;)

Sent from my VS985 4G using Tapatalk

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:11 pm 
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I've read what I thought were fair assessments of Obama's performance from a few writers who are generally not impressed with him, let alone in love with him, but who on some points are willing to say, "Considering everything, this was a success" and "I have to concede that. . . ." If I come across another one, I'll link to it here.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:07 pm 
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Here's an interesting possibility. Hilary Clinton was recently asked whether, should she become President, she would consider (wait for it) nominating Barack Obama to the Supreme Court. Her response was that she'd never considered it, but that it sounded like a great idea. I reacted the same way.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:33 pm 
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President Obama has been asked that question in the past and pretty much shot the possibility down. Clinton also noted that the likelihood of getting Obama confirmed as a SCOTUS justice was not very high, unless the Democrats retook the Senate.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 6:07 pm 
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I know he has serious legal education, but does he have any actual court room experience? I don't recall hearing that he ever actually practiced law, which would be a basic prereq for the job, no? Perhaps my memory is faulty.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 6:22 pm 
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Yes, he did practice law. He was an associate from 1993 to 1996 and then "of counsel" from 1996 through 2004 with Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a 13-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, and handled a number of civil rights cases. In addition, he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago from 1992 through 2004. That would certainly be sufficient qualifications, if he wanted the job, and could be confirmed.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 6:28 pm 
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I doubt he wants the job. And think what it would do to those who strongly dislike him, if he reappeared after they thought he was safely gone, and in a position where he could influence important decisions in ways they objected to but could not control or overturn.

And with lifetime tenure.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 9:50 pm 
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Cool. :)
(HoF is my favorite news source. :P)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:54 pm 
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Even if it is not always "fair and balanced". (As I would readily admit.)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:19 pm 
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I'll take "accurate" over either.

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‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:25 pm 
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I wish we were less of an echo chamber :( —although sharing many of our opinions doesn't preclude having interesting discussions, or learning new things, it's always better to have more viewpoints.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2016 11:34 pm 
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Justice Obama = Recusapalooza


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:13 am 
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That's a pretty major point there, Faramond. :shock:

Anyway, he pretty emphatically doesn't want it.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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