10 things you need to know about the global food system (The Guardian)

Informative and entertaining 12 minute video from feedingninebillion.com.

Their four proposed solutions:

  1. Science and tech: Local solutions for local challenges. As opposed to one size fits all, like North American products for Europe, o European methods for sub saharan Africa.
  2. Improve distribution; short term food aid. The naysayers will forget their christian roots in the altar of mammon and talk about communism; it’s plain morality and common sense, although not without putting corruption in the picture.
  3. Local food systems as a buffer. Not as the way to feed everyone.
  4. Stronger regulation, for farmers, for finance, for the environment. “Left unregulated, financial institutions behave badly” amen! The baying naysayers will see this as unnecessary government meddling in spite of the obvious market crisis; government intervention does need to be transparently controlled,

I would propose a fifth: consumer responsibility helped by transparency: Where does our food come from? Who does the farmer have to pay to produce? Which nasty corporations would we not want to ultimately be buying from (taking into account that only a handful of them supply most of the grain for instance)?

All solutions depend on the willingness to do something, which goes against dogma (the market gods know what they’re doing, we don’t want to make them angry) and sheer stupidity (the party of no in the US); unchecked government action is not enough.


Education vs success (Heather Havrilesky)

Learned Helplessness (Bookforum, via Le Nouvel Observateur): “Do we want to populate our planet with self-concerned, ultracompetitive warriors, or compassionate citizens?”

The answer will be obvious and completely opposite when read in the US (success means money, everyone else is a loser) or France (success means a balanced human being).

The deeper question is the same for all children, and follows Elizabeth Spiegel’s approach: help kids be responsible for their actions; show them their mistake but don’t put them down, help them overcome obstacles; this goes against the cult of the rich, self righteous sociopath in the US, but also against expecting the State to provide the means to achieve “normality” as in France.

There is a further element: the weight of social / psychological issues: what if normality means failing? What if any sort of progress, social, cultural, monetary, is frowned upon by those around you? This is a reality at least in all of Latinamerica, African-American US.

Problem: Hollande seemed a nice guy, is now seen as incompetent; nasty but hyperactive Sarko still lurks.

Consequence: nice people need to learn how to put the nasty, dominating people in their place, show how pathetic their “success” is; this has an extension for social democracy caught in between vociferous extremists.

Consequence: tiger moms are particularly ridiculous.

Sarkozystes, ennemies of the French Republic

Nicolas Sarkozy mis en examen: la fronde anti-juges ne tient pas la route (L’ Express). Attack the judges, defend the man at all costs, no matter the damage to the Republic. Or when France imitates the worst of Berlusconian Italy.

The sad state of French politics: a damaged UMP, a disillusioned PS, a weak president and extremists adept at packaging simple and plainly wrong solutions (Growth? Equality? A sense of purpose? it’s all the immigrants fault).

What the gospel of innovation gets wrong (Jill Lepore, The NewYorker)

“the world may not be getting better and better but our devices are getting newer and newer.”.

Or how humans invent new hamster wheels for themselves. Disruption, a theory that explains nothing, but serves as hagiography, as an excuse.

The economic consequences:

  • Disruption as a code word for “new”, whether it’s better or not.
  • Disruption as part of financial gambling.
  • Growth vs actual improvement.

The moral consequences:

  1. Look back and think: what is it all for?
  2. Panic as a way of life.

Francis Urquhart vs Frank Underwood

Or the emperor vs one angry ewok with a drawl.

Francis Urquihart

The real Francis. Via http://pablocheesecake.co.uk/

On the one hand power, certainty, control, fear, tradition, deep cynicism sprinkled with lovely croutons of irony. How he enjoys power. He will flay you with his eyes.

On the other hand a tired sludge plumber, busy rewriting bills, a tourist in his own life. How he suffers power. You can’t but feel sorry for his banality.

Frank Underwood

The sludge plumber. Could we swing by the ribs place? Via http://scubiwnc.deviantart.com/ 

The US / sanitized version misses the point entirely, as expected. Opportunities missed:

  • Looking at Joe Viewer in the eye and showing him how he created this Washington monster: yes, they all fake the accent, yes they all sport a toupée, yes they’re all for sale, and it’s all thanks to you.
  • Showing the might of US power, its antagonism with the gosh shucks version.