Fragments from Floyd Photos and Front Porch Musing from Floyd County Virginia Wed, 20 May 2015 11:25:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Canola: Rapeseed Oil By Any Other Name Wed, 20 May 2015 11:25:03 +0000 Continue reading Canola: Rapeseed Oil By Any Other Name ]]> No small wonder, before supercharging the world-wide marketing of this cultivar of Brassica napa, that the Canucks would want to change its name from “rapeseed oil” to Canola–Canada Oil.

So much for the power of words, even though the term RAPE in this case is Latin for TURNIP.

This turnip oil was once spurned by the health-conscious for its high levels of heart-damaging erucic acid in the native rapeseed. Even so it has been used for thousands of years for animal feed and such. It has more recently been genetically modified by direct gene replacement (hence it is a genetically modified organism or GMO in today’s terms) to contain higher amounts of a more healthy fatty acid and is now the third-largest source of vegetable oil in the world, chief production being in Canada of course, followed by China and India. The US is way down the list.

And truly, this is a pretty versatile seed plant. From Wikipedia:

“Rapeseed is grown for the production of animal feed, vegetable oil for human consumption, and biodiesel; leading producers include the European Union, Canada, China, India, France, Germany, and Australia. In India, 6.7 million tons are produced annually.[4] According to the United States Department of Agriculture, rapeseed was the third-leading source of vegetable oil in the world in 2000, after soybean and palm oil; the world’s second-leading source of protein meal; and forms one-fifth of the production of the leading soybean meal.[citation needed] World production is growing rapidly.”

Some 90% of canola is GMO, so here, we don’t really need a label to tell us what’s in the bottle. The Modifiers of this GMO include the folks at Monsanto, who also incorporate into their patented seeds the genes for resistance to their wonderful, harmless, save-the-world herbicide, Roundup, with its active ingredient glyphosate. (You’d have to be living under a rock NOT to have seen the recent news about the suspected carcinogenic nature of Roundup.)

Is Canola Oil safe to consume? Monsanto and the Canadian corporations who produce and distribute and profit from it tell us that it is, and based on what I know about it today, I would not refuse for health concerns to use it in small quantities, though I hope we will not purchase it. Others make dire and exaggerated claims of its ill effects. Some of those claims are likely worth more study.

That glyphosate genes from Canola subspecies can become incorporated into wild rapeseed relatives is a certainty. There is a lot we don’t know about human-created genes in the wild. Oh well. Damn the torpedoes. The law suits will continue. Resistance to GMO seed is not futile, however, and environmental more than the health concerns loom large for me.

The bottom line when I see vast fields of yellow–as we did in parts of Illinois and Indiana last week–is that the lovely saffron monoculture is a symptom of a very broad and pernicious relationship between the burgeoning human enterprise and the planet that must sustain all forms of life–not just the 10 billion hungry humans of my grandchildren’s time. In the end, here again, profit dictates the “truth” so this subject bears more than a casual look.

Here are some canola-related links. I learned something, and leave these resources perhaps for someone to become better informed. For a quick so-what, I recommend especially the first two links below.

Monsanto Knew of Glyphosate / Cancer Link 35 Years Ago | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

They Are Biocides, Not Pesticides — And They Are Creating an Ecocide | Andrew Kimbrell

Is Canola Oil Bad for you?

Genetically modified canola – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Genetically Modified Crop on the Loose and Evolving in U.S. Midwest – Scientific American

Rapeseed – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

]]> 1 Tell Congress: Don’t Sell Food Labeling Rights to THOSE GUYS Tue, 19 May 2015 10:48:19 +0000 Continue reading Tell Congress: Don’t Sell Food Labeling Rights to THOSE GUYS ]]> The illustrious US Congress is (again) being used as a blunt instrument against their constituents, wielded (again) by Big (fill-in-the-blank) In this case, Big Ag.

I’m not perhaps as alarmed by the health risks of foods whose genes were modified “from the outside” rather than by selective breeding as has been done for millennia. But I am opposed to corporate control over even the knowledge of consumers of the ingredients of the things they put into our children (if we let them.)

And I am very much opposed to proprietary tyranny over seeds and fertilizers used to grow GMOs and to the ownership this gives over the world’s most important food crops. That of all resources should be fully democratic and not trade-marked by Monsanto, Dow and the other chemical dictators that currently call the shots. Except maybe NOT this time if we make enough noise. Hence please read and sign the petition if you are lead to do so…


“Recently introduced legislation (H.R.1599) would prohibit any state efforts to require labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs), overruling legislation already passed in Maine, Vermont and Connecticut as well as bills moving in many other states”…

“The Grocery Manufacturers Association, an industry group that represents Monsanto, Nestle, Dow, and Pepsi, is pushing this bill because it would let its members continue to keep quiet about their production and use of GMOs. 2

We need to make sure our members of Congress hear from their actual constituents, since they’re already hearing from the industry lobbyists. Over 90% of voters support required labels for GMOs.3 Industry should not use Congress to undermine the public’s right to know or the decisions of state legislatures that are responding to what their citizens want.

It’s our right to know what’s in our food, and corporations should not be allowed to keep us in the dark.”

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

But wait! There’s more…

The header image here is something we saw commonly on our trip last week to Missouri (though I did not take this picture.) Fields were yellow with what looked like common field cress. But no. This is a GMO crop you need to know about. You probably think it’s a better choice for your family. Think again.

So check back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion. Or just because you’re bored and have nowhere else to go. You’ll always be welcome here, where I reliably have an over-abundance of vacuous words (some of which I make up on the spot) to go around to serve the wandering web-browsing hobo.

]]> 5
Maidenhair Ferns: Finding Their Good Side Wed, 13 May 2015 09:13:25 +0000 Continue reading Maidenhair Ferns: Finding Their Good Side ]]> “Her picture just doesn’t do her justice” you might have heard someone say about an unflattering or lackluster image of one with greater beauty than the photographer was able to capture.

I know the feeling. I find it hard to do justice to ferns shooting them where they live.  They are always more attractive than I make them look, and that’s a disappointment.

One problem is isolating them so that they are distinct from their typically cluttered forest background.

IMG_0132maidenhairFerns480In this case, I managed to frame these maidenhair fronds against the bark of a very large tree on a very steep hillside. Take a look at what I had to do, composition-wise, to get this shot. See it in context here.

IMG_0119maidenhair480Ferns have showy leaves or “fronds” that are divided one or more times into smaller segments or leaflets called “pinnae.” But it is not easy to attractively or interestingly show the shape of the frond, the details of the pinnae, and the depth of the entire plant. You can sense the three-dimensionality of the plant in this image, but it only hints at the attractive symmetry and form.

In the case of the northern maidenhair fern, its frond is typically forked into two segments, each resembling a kind of spreading necklace of delicate pinnae. The one above has just unfurled, and has not become the ultimate dark green of the mature plants, like the one below.

IMG_0224maidenhair480Lastly, this individual was growing on the side of a bank, so its frond dipped outward, affording a proper view of the elegant necklace of tiny green wings.

As with wildflowers, except maybe more so because most ferns are many times taller than wide, is the fact that the slightest breeze sets them swaying. As if focusing on a fern was not already hard enough!

So while the ferns “show what God can do with a leaf” as Thoreau once claimed, it is generally going to make you want to spit trying to show their good side.

]]> 2
Devil’s in the Details Tue, 12 May 2015 12:52:09 +0000 Continue reading Devil’s in the Details ]]> IMG_0292tallYellowIris480In our last expedition, we were anchored pretty close to our daughter’s house in a coastal suburb near Wilmington NC due to our child-care responsibilities. Every time we go down I say I’m breaking free to find the nearest coastal nature or wildlife preserve, but I have so far failed to put sandals on that notion.

So at least I would put my new Canon Powershot G7X through its paces, home-bound as I was, and with the unwelcome addition of a bout with subtropical depression. Her name was Ana.

About the subject: Pale Yellow Iris, aka Iris Aquatica. Iris lutia. Yellow Flag. Yellow Iris. Fleur de Luce. Dragon Flower. Myrtle Flower. Fliggers. Flaggon. Segg. Sheggs. Daggers. Jacob’s Sword. Gladyne. Meklin. Levers. Livers. Shalder. Or Iris pseudacorus, if all the common names have your head spinning.

Fliggers it shall henceforth be! Can also be used as an expletive.  You’re welcome. [Larger image is here.]

The challenges were many. This plant grew beyond the wire fence that actually runs down into the wetland waterway behind the house, so I could not get any closer than about five feet from this one surviving bloom among its spent siblings. The G7X max optical zoom is 100mm and that’s where this image was taken, as I recall.

The sky was forbiddingly dark and the frontal winds before the approaching storm where whipping these five foot tall leaves and flower stems such that at least a 500th second shutter speed was required, I thought.

Howver, EXIF data at Flickr shows ISO of 125 and shutter speed of 1/100th of a second. Granted, this image was cropped from the larger full image from this 20MP camera. Manual setting is turning out to be my go-to for fixed focus and lighting, as well as for action shots (of the grand daughter serving in a volleyball game earlier in the day.)

So I’m happy with the camera whose ergonomics fit my hands better than the Panasonic Lumix LX7 that my buddy Ed in Roanoke is now using mostly for its excellent macro function. Happy shooting, all!

]]> 2
Garden: Getting to Done Mon, 11 May 2015 13:31:20 +0000 Continue reading Garden: Getting to Done ]]> IMG_0219dandelion480Due to circumstances beyond our control, our garden-building this year is going to be a garden blitzkrieg. We have a short span of time to get the sets and seeds in the ground.

That smear of effort, usually over days and weeks, will be near impossible in hours, but there ya go.  And I will be minding the joints so that upcoming events are not orthopedically compromised.

I’m inside now, obviously, cooling down from hauling tomato cages and clawing up weeds in advance of putting tomato and pepper sets in the ground later today–if the sky clouds over as promised before thunderstorms.

So this dandelion really has nothing to do with any of that but just happens to be what I was doodling with before I remembered how uncool it gets after 9 in the morning this time of year.

I’d love for you to see the larger image since the interest for this all-too-common plant is in the details, but Flickr’s recent “update” has created no small discontent with users like me, since we are not able to share links to our images.

And Yahoo takes a giant step backwards.

For those who might care to know or remember a botanical fact, this mature dandelion flower is actually an inflorescence, and not a single flower.

Each of the little parachutes (seed below with pappus bristles for a sail) is the product of a single flower. Many flowers are embedded in the white fleshy “recepticle” that remains after you blow away the children to find their fortunes in the world of good soil and bad.



]]> 1
Man: Hi. On Grass Wed, 06 May 2015 12:26:31 +0000 IMG_0208HighONgrass480Sorry. It was too windy for close-ups and too contrasty in the late morning to avoid deep shadows so this character (next to the RdD2 looking bell post) was the only subject I could find.

Rumor is he didn’t inhale.

]]> 5
Alternative Energy: Business as Usual. With Less Carbon. Tue, 05 May 2015 10:59:37 +0000 Continue reading Alternative Energy: Business as Usual. With Less Carbon. ]]> IMG_0228EnergyModel1_480

I’m looking at the party-line storybook future, and it seems that they all lived happily ever after!

It’s a win-win.  Big Carbon gets to stay in the game for another generation by offering a golden “natural gas bridge” to a better future for mankind and the planet. For our sakes, they will drill baby drill any blessed (or cursed) place on earth til the last drop. And we should thank them for fracking us into tomorrow. (Or maybe not.)

The ALT folks ramp up, best they can, without much love from petroleum-romanced governments, but the assumption is that once we survive and make it to the other side of the bridge at exactly the same level of consumption, remaining carbon stays in the ground, ALT carries the day and in the long run, we’ve not broken stride at all. It’s business as usual with less carbon.

And the beauty of this model is that there was never any of the messy, inconvenient whining about our energy, water, nutrient, forest or other “footprints” insisting that we make do with less of everything in the “developed” world.

Conservation is such a bummer. So let’s avoid ever talking about it. Or population stuff–such a buzz kill! No our future is a win-win. Big Carbon is happy. Big ALT is happy. Western Consumers are happy, and the new ones in India and China can play too!

IMG_0230energyModel3_480I’m sorry. That story of a big-as-ever foot-printed future that is “sustainable”—or desirable–is a work of fiction. The world’s biomes will not stay viable enough for long enough under this plot-line to reach the happily-ever-after final chapter where our hero walks hand and hand with flower-garlanded Mother Earth surrounded by butterflies and bluebirds and every one of her people drive poop-powered HumVees.

In this draft of the future, there are too many taking too much for too long to give us eternal golden eggs like the ones our brief fossil fuel romance have provided. Big ALT is not a permanent solution at global scale since it will ultimately be limited by escalating demand for vanishing stocks of metals and rare earths for construction and replacement.

Sorry, Big Carbon–your fate is already visible in today’s divestment movement.  So the Good for Biz model is a happy fiction. The real future is not so rosy, and we are not doing ourselves or our children any favors pretending this blue marble can support 10 billion of us extracting, consuming and disordering the planet at the present Western World pace.

And who is talking today about what comes after Big ALT? Why are we not hearing NOW about pushing back from the table, voluntarily, pro-actively so remaining carbon and expanding ALT goes farther? Do we have to wait on our governments to insist that the engines of our economy throttle down before it is too late? Can the steady-state economy of the future be driven from bottom to top?

We could eat less meat; drive fewer miles; keep the unnecessary electricity turned off for x hours a week. I would be willing to conserve, to tighten my belt, to do without and with less.

But if our corporate-national and corporate-global machinery keeps saying bigger, shinier, faster and our species procreates like bacteria on a dead carcass right down to the bone, we’ll hit the wall. That’s not a happy ending we want our kids to be a part of. In OUR lifetime we are writing the final paragraphs for this particular chapter of Earth history. Fellow writers: how shall we make it end, do you think?

]]> 1
Followed Her Home Mon, 04 May 2015 12:05:34 +0000 IMG_0163dragon480I understand that there is a new Floyd Pets Lost and Found page on Facebook. We need to see if we can find the rightful owners of this creature that followed my wife home from Finders Keepers this past weekend. It obviously needs to return to Lothlórien.

]]> 2
Global Sea Ice Levels Defy Alarmists | The Daily Caller Thu, 30 Apr 2015 21:30:54 +0000 Continue reading Global Sea Ice Levels Defy Alarmists | The Daily Caller ]]>

‘Where’s the media coverage?’

Source: Global Sea Ice Levels Defy Alarmists | The Daily Caller

Never heard of this site until the past few days, now it turns up everywhere. As I suspected, Daily Caller is a libertarian conservative mouthpiece.

You can guess they are getting generous contributions from the well-healed far-right ideologues to insure that the US continues with biz as usual that has soaked the top tier corporateers who like things just the way they are.

Spin at work. Just so you’ll be aware.

]]> 0
Mountaintops Removed, Family Plots Left. Sort of. Thu, 30 Apr 2015 15:23:22 +0000 Continue reading Mountaintops Removed, Family Plots Left. Sort of. ]]>

The rate of mountaintop removal mining may have slowed in the U.S., but the practice is still encroaching on many Appalachian communities.

Mountaintop Removal Is Encroaching On Communities In Appalachia | ThinkProgress Firefox, Today at 8.25.10 AMSource: Mountaintop Removal Is Encroaching On Communities In Appalachia | ThinkProgress

And some say Mountaintop Removal runs roughshod over human community and well-being? Well just look at this example of honoring the dead. The article does not say if the mining company provides ladders for graveside services.

This makes me a little queasy. The Mortuary of Mordor.

]]> 0