technological gardens

halfmoonhead  asked:

Can you elaborate on your thoughts on urban farming/the rich vs poor?

I think there are three issues:

1. Who makes money? (As in, “the big bucks”)

I’ve talked about this a lot with sex and farming, in that even when there is a sizeable portion of female farmers (30-50%), less than 3% of operations of a large scale are owned by women.

As the article said, you could break down who actually makes money from urban farming projects (and vertical, hydroponic, and aquaponic systems especially), by race and sex. Overwhelmingly it’s young white males with access to investment capital who actually make the big bucks, while women and minorities tend to the non-profitable, community-building, soil-based farming projects.

This is a wage gap, and an opportunity gap.

2. Who can treat gardening like performance art, and who does it to survive?

Someone with an MFA and very little practical knowledge about plants can dream up a floating urban garden project, and have all their permits expedited and get grant money flowing in.

Immigrant grannies who live in inner city communities and know how to grow everything in their front yards are the ones who are more likely to face zoning violations, resistance from municipal authorities, and run up against architectural controls.

This is not even getting in to issues like gentrification and environmental racism, that also limit access to safe places to grow.

3. Who does the “urban farming is the future” paradigm, serve?

I think languishing rural communities really get thrown under the bus in all this: “urban farming” has a cool factor, whereas traditional farming conjures up words like ‘redneck,’ and ‘hillbilly.’

Rural communities are being de-populated by urbanisation, and family farms are being bought up by mega-producers, and this is something that is dangerous for the food system. It’s only allowed to happen more when agricultural innovation is seen as something synonymous with “urban.”

Moving out on to the land to do sustainable soil-based production doesn’t have the same cachet as building a rooftop project out of shipping containers, even if the productivity may be higher and environmental impact lower.

In essence I think it’s complicated, but it mostly boils down to the actually profitable business of “urban farming” becoming the domain of already-on-top urbanites.

Domestic Garden Witch: Green Meets Techno

So maybe you’re a college witch with limited space and money, limited to the one window in your dorm. Or, maybe you’re a witch without extensive backyard space who wants to start up a magical garden. Perhaps you’re a kitchen witch who wants the freshest herbs right at her fingertips.

For many witches, having a garden seems to be a bit of a no-brainer. After all, plants and magic go hand-in-hand. Plus, when thinking of a witch, it’s hard not to think of a cottage in the woods with a little vegetable garden out front. Unfortunately for the majority of us, our cottage in the woods is a tiny flat, and our garden out front is a windowsill with limited space.

This is when it comes time to embrace your craftiness and bring your garden indoors! Not only does it place your garden in a convenient location, it also allows you to freshen the air, recycle what would otherwise harm the earth, and embrace your witchy green thumb!

From the Yard, to the Screen

There is a very real struggle that many my age and younger are dealing with right now. Homes are only getting more expensive, education is doing the same, and incomes simply don’t keep up with the changing markets, regardless of the degrees attached. As such, many students (and even non-students) may not have a yard, a decent window, or a good place to grow plants. Or they may be unfortunate enough to have what my boyfriend calls a “brown thumb” - an inability to grow even the easiest of plants (seriously… he killed an air fern… literally all those things need is a little light, and somehow he couldn’t keep it alive).

Still others may have an issue where they have to consider their personal reserve of energy - their spoons. I don’t talk much about spoonie witchcraft on my blog as a result of inexperience, but there do occasionally come those little projects that I would imagine would be helpful. This is one such project.

I’ve talked about technopaganism before, and the article can be found here, but to go over it briefly, it’s the melding of modern technology with witchcraft in a new form of practice that is gaining popularity. It may be reflected in the use of digital altars, books of shadows that are written up in a word processor, or even in competitive gaming in which a witch might devote her character to a deity as a form of spiritual exercise.

If you’re a technopagan, or a green witch with no space but a love for gaming, there is some hope, in the form of digital gardening. This may sound a little odd or a little weird, but bear with me. It will make sense.

Consider Minecraft. This wildly popular game focuses on surviving in a world made up of blocks, which can be used to build nearly anything the imagination can come up with. From building a replica of Middle Earth or Westeros to recreating a scale model of Stonehenge, it’s a versatile game that I’ve seen used for recreation, therapy, education, and even worship (I’ve shared a blog fairly recently which talked about building shrines in such games for discreet witches or witches who can’t have physical shrines).

In a game such as this, gardening may not be as intensive or reliant on skill as in the real world, but it can be a witchy practice! Consider the colors and types of plants present in the game - can they be devoted to a deity? What might they represent? If the garden is being built around the shrine, what styles, shapes, and layouts would be aesthetically pleasing or particularly ideal for the theme? Will you build a statue of your deity, or recreate symbols to represent your deity or intent?

The reason for why this may be useful to a witch is because even when gaming, intention is a huge part of what makes magic work. And placing blocks can be a meditative and spiritual practice if the intent is there for it.

Minecraft isn’t the only game in which gardening can be devoted to magical practice, but it’s a great example. But other games in which gardening may be pertinent and useful for magical practice may include Farmville, Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, Terraria, Pokemon, and many more!

If you’re a gamer who wants to have a magical garden but lacks the space, energy, or ability to grow such a garden, and are drawn to this idea, consider how your game of choice can become a vehicle for magical practice!

And May Your Harvests Be Bountiful, digital or otherwise! )O(

Gardens by the Bay - Singapore 

A national icon of Singapore, Gardens by the Bay is a nature park, spanning 250 acres, in the heart of Singapore. The most famous section of the park, Super Tree Grove, features vertical gardens, ranging between 25 and 50 metres high. Each Super Tree houses unique and exotic species of ferns, vines and orchids. The Super Trees are able to harness solar energy, which power the light show that happens every night. They also collect rain water, which is used for the parks water fountains. Sky High walkways between the trees offer visitors great views of the park, and nearby Marina Bay Sands. 

anonymous asked:

Do you think Ned Stark was successful in anything? Your metas heavily emphasize his failures, faults, and shortcomings. Do you think there was anything he was good at other than being viewed as a good man and moral? I don't see many people acknowledging positive aspects of him-other than he loved his family and was relatively a 'good' person, but that seems to be done more to lighten the criticism of him. Why is he so beloved in the book if he was such a fuck up to his family and the North?

Um, should I not criticize him where criticism is due? Or when an issue he did not handle properly is being discussed? I criticize Ned but I do not denounce him. It’s not that I’m heavily emphasizing his faults but there are places where Ned erred, even if it was sympathetic or understandable in some occasions. I’m generally against considering only one aspect of Ned’s personality as an indication of who he is as a whole, be them his virtues or his faults. My analysis of his motivations or his actions in a certain event isn’t a blanket condemnation of the character or any attempt to argue that he is a fuck up or a bad person. Flawed, certainly, but not bad. Far from it actually. The text itself criticizes Ned  because he, like every other character GRRM writes, is not a saint. He is one of the good ones, but he is not an impeccable untouchable paragon of all that’s good and right. He stands out, certainly, since he is sometimes the only person to speak up against some truly vile things (like the fight with Robert over his condoning of Elia and her children’s murder, or the one over Robert’s command to assassinate a pregnant Daenerys, in which he was joined by Barristan Selmy) but, well, Mycah.

I can’t really speak for the entire fandom, neither do I know what tone the conversation around Ned usually takes, but for me, Ned’s merits and morals and successes are explicitly laid all over the text so I don’t usually feel the need to argue for them. This is the guy who is reputed for his honor across all of Westeros, who garnered the epithet of the honorable Ned Stark. Everyone, friend or foe, make a mention of his morals and honor. And it’s not that he is good at “being viewed” as moral, he genuinely is. Ned Stark is the last person who would perform morality or honor. We’re inside the man’s head, we see his thought process, this is his character and his moral code.

The narrative gives us two contrasting ideologies in Tywin Lannister’s and Ned Stark’s to serve as foils to each other, and then goes to bat for Ned’s. It’s a part of a larger body of stories that is meant to make a statement about the importance of upholding values and believing in ideals even when corrupt institutions and individuals ridicule and distort them, or even use them against you. A corrupt system can’t take your ideals away from you, no matter what. Ned’s story falls right in line with this message. His ideals win. His political theory wins. He wins. How can he, then, be considered a failure?

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Lessons of the Loess Plateau  

“In 2005, the Chinese government, in cooperation with the World Bank, completed the world’s largest watershed restoration on the upper banks of the Yellow River. Woefully under-publicized, the $500 million enterprise transformed an area of 35,000 square kilometers on the Loess Plateau — roughly the area of Belgium — from dusty wasteland to a verdant agricultural center.“


AVA Byte - World’s Best Automated Smart Garden

Ready-to-grow plant pods loaded with micro- and macro nutrients offer a soil-free, mess-free gardening experience. Track plant growth to create stunning timelapse videos with HD camera.

3D printing gets its green thumb with the printGREEN grass printer

We’ve seen plastic, metals, biomaterials and even food be printed with 3D printers now its time to print with grass. Students at the University of Maribor in Slovenia have developed a 3D printer which uses a mixture of soil, water and grass seeds as the “filament" taking gardening to a whole new level. 

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NEW! Worx Landroid Robot Lawn Mower

Newest Landroid robotic lawn mower is definitely the future of automated yard work. It is fully automatic, cordless and unlike other similar devices, has sensors and an AI in it, which give it an edge over the competition.

Bars without alcohol also got me thinking about churches without religion.

A friends asked me “wouldn’t that just be a community center?” And the answer is no.

I’m still imagining a chapel where people go every Sunday and someone speaks tot he congregation. But what they speak about is up to them - it could be about anything: technology, gardening, ethics, love, family, exercise, whatever they chose - and then guided a discussion about their topic.  Who spoke would also depend on a rotating schedule, chosen by everyone who volunteers to speak. 

I’m picturing a rural town full of algae farmers and folks that work on the solar plants at the edge of town. It’s a quaint and picturesque place where the teens go to the dry bar after school and everyone puts darling little solar glass lawn ornaments on their moss out front. This Sunday, the topic at church is “The Poetry of Maya Angelou,” lead by a local student.


Gifts for Gardeners

#24: A Bird Box with a Live Feed Camera

We actually have one of these in our garden, and I can occasionally flip the TV input to “the bird channel” and see if anyone new has taken up residence. Ours is older, so has a long cord running along the fence.

Now, these cameras come in wireless, with night vision and sound. You can install a camera in an existing bird box, get the whole kit and caboodle together. Either way, it allows a fascinating peek into the lives of your local feathered friends.

Images: Spy Camera CCTV

Light’s Guide: Engineer Coaxes Photons & Smartphones to Reveal Hidden Worlds

by Michael Keller

It is appropriate to call Aydogan Ozcan a wizard who uses light as his magic. Pulling from what seems to be a bottomless well of creativity, the 37-year-old electrical engineer and his team at UCLA are bending lightwaves to transform healthcare and measurement.

Ozcan focuses on the science and applications of generating, detecting and controlling the particles of light called photons. It’s a highly specialized field called photonics, which brings together physics, engineering and optoelectronics to create society-changing technologies like LEDs, lasers, fiber optics, medical imaging and many of the devices that make modern telecommunications possible.

While these are disruptive technologies that loom large in the narrative of humanity’s progress, Ozcan’s use of light happens on a scale that is very personal—transforming devices that fit in the hand or that are worn on the face into powerful instruments. In the process, the Stanford-trained PhD is miniaturizing once heavy, expensive laboratory equipment so that it can slip into a pocket and not break the bank.  In one celebrated innovation, his lab turned an ordinary smartphone with a camera into a microscope capable of revealing disease-causing viruses and bacteria. In another, they used a common flatbed scanner for biomedical imaging and sensing. And from the much maligned Google Glass, his group has crafted an instrument that lets the wearer detect diseases like malaria, HIV and prostate cancer in blood samples or, in a different application, see chlorophyll to understand a plant’s health. Learn more about his revolutionary innovations below.

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One of my favorite parts of any space center, a rocket garden provides a peaceful setting to observe and inspect the flight hardware that mankind has used in its quest to conquer the stars. Kennedy Space Center’s rocket garden was the best I have ever seen it when I visited yesterday, 23 July, 2014.

Since I last visited, every rocket has been repainted. The bright red colors of the vehicle markings on the Saturn IB stood out to the most to me. One of my favorite rockets, I remember the IB at Kennedy Space Center severely deteriorated, paint faded and metal rusted. Not the case anymore.

The relatively recently refurbished Gemini Titan II has as it’s most defining feature it’s single LR-87 engine. Since the engine compartment faring was omitted on the Titan missile, the engines and nozzles are exposed more than on other rockets. This allows for great inspection of its complicated system of tubes, pipes, and wires.

One element of the garden I was not able to capture recently are the rockets illuminated at night. The Saturn IB is draped in a dark blue, with each vertical rocket different illuminations of white. Ground lighting adds another level of beautiful ambiance to the garden, which takes on a totally different atmosphere after dark.