Saturday, December 26, 2009

More Thoughts Popping In For a Mo'

A childhood friend is a sustainability consultant, I noticed recently. My friend and officemate's sister is in the joint business-Natural Resources program at University of Michigan. There are many arguments for why and how corporations must be involved in sustainability, and indeed they must be. However, I do not think they will like it--I can see no way that sustainability can be achieved without lowering consumption. From my time at a Fortune 500 company, I saw that their goals year-on-year were not just growth of the company, but increased rate of growth. That is, "This year we grew 5%; next year's goal is to grow 7% with a 'stretch goal' of 9%." As a recovering engineer, I thought this odd, as something growing at increasing rates is often called an explosion, and is to be avoided. And in any case, since I do think we are consuming much, much more than is sustainable, the only remedy for that is to consume less. Efficiency is not going to get us there -- we'll just be consuming too much more efficiently. Especially since efficiency gains are almost always overtaken by overall increases in consumption. If you increase efficiency by 5% but sell 10% more products, well, you've done pretty much nothing for sustainability.

I don't see any consultancies or other very market/business-oriented advice figuring out sustainable ways to decrease consumption--here I mean economic sustainability. I'm sure it can be done, but this is the challenge before us, at least those most concerned with corporate sustainability. We are going to need negative growth--and while theoretically that could be done while profits increase, it almost certainly won't be--decreasing consumption and proper internalization of externalized costs -- i.e. costs to the environment, to society, placed on us by companies that don't pay the full costs of their economic activities -- would both tend to rather decrease profits. I am certain this can be done while raising quality of life for many people (mainly people who have low quality of life, not those who already consume well and waaaaay above their "fair share" of resources), but when some people consume too much, some too little, and on the total the system is unsustainable, re-distribution is really the only game in town in terms of sustainability and justice. I haven't seen much talk of any of these things -- especially, say, within COP15 type circles -- which is why I view most of them as unserious in terms of actually helping avert continued and growing disasters for both humanity and our environment around us.

Related readings:

Steady State Economics:
Carbon trading (especially pertinent now):

In Other News

Back in my blog's primary activity (increasingly unfortunately I think), reading and criticizing Slate, this article ("Saying No to Obama: The U.S. president is popular, but world leaders are finding it easy to defy his wishes" by Shmuel Rosner) is not particularly worth reading, but that it produces a pretty damned good Fray response from Mutatis Mutandis. Highlight:

It is hard to say what the right course of action is, but Obama seems far more reticent and hesitant than a president with a majority in both chambers ought to be, even allowing for his need to find a strong majority for health care reform. I think it is time to seriously question whether Obama's interpretation of bipartisanship is wise. The US political system is an adversarial system, with distinct roles for majority and minority.

Read the rest here.

In COMPLETELY other news, aka Now for Something More Completely Different:
A montage of funny clips about supervillain weaponry, that, for some reason, popped into my head:

"You take that away and you are looking at a bunch of pissed off nutbags with ray guns and giant, I don't know, a giant octopus-slash-tank with laser eyes."
"I've seen one of those."
"I like the cut of this guy's jib."
"I like the cut of his hair."

And of course, the classic:

Race in America: Part the Next, A Partial Response to D

Continuing this conversation: Race in America: D responding to J responding to D

Wherein D owns what she says, smooths D-Fave J's ruffled feathers, and elaborates, possibly inciting deeper discussion or perhaps further division.

Sayings: owned. Feathers: unsmoothed. Further discussion: imminent. Further division: unknown.

(from my previous post): "Wow. I'm kind of surprised to read this from you at this point, D."

Ok, I'm just gonna say this. This sort sounds like I'm your pet project and I backslid or something. Am I supposed to be sorry for my comments? You should know by now that there is almost always deeper thinking behind my ideas. Rather than shame or disappoint one another, let's get right to them... [some time later] My culture is not the caricature that Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock present to great comedic effect. White America is not Buffy and Chip upset because their tee-time was pushed back half an hour because Obama's motorcade was going through town. Sure, the comedy is in the way white people are ignorant to their incredible privilege and have wackaloon ideas about what it means to be put out, but when this is the pole that I have to swing from, how can I be allowed to have a real voice in the race discussion? It has been my experience (and here I mean ME as an individual) that I am not allowed, outside of our conversations, to be taken seriously in any meaningful public discussion about race. Unless, of course, I concede to the default POC position. And in some ways, J, isn't that what your response to me tried to get me to do?

Horsehockey. This point is one that's repeatedly had my blood pressure rising. You have every right to your voice, to your process, to your indignation at caricature. And in no way was my response an attempt to get you to concede the "default" POC position (which would be questionable anyway because such a default is as contested as anything else one may care to name, and any given person of color you may talk to may have a different default). I wasn't present at these other conversations, so I can't characterize what happened there. But my response was critical and disappointed because I freaking WAS critical and disappointed. Does my mere reaction (or expression of it) deprive you of your voice? Does my disappointment in our difference in point of view mean I'm engaged in a ploy to "shame you" into line? I do see your point here, or think I do: you don't want your perspective to be sidelined or undermined by emotional valences attempting to get you to give up your point of view out of guilt, rather than engaging you on the points and convincing you, or failing to, on the logic. All well and good. But you hardly shy from expressing your emotions, clearly and strongly, on your own blog, and even when I feel somewhat besieged by a disagreement between us, I don't presume you're trying to undermine me with an end-run around logic. I felt disappointed in your perspective; maybe I'm wrong to, but I thought I understood you and you me better than this at this point, and I was surprised to read these viewpoints from you, that I've heard many times from others before and that I find disappointing. I may have been wrong every time up to and including now to be disappointed, but I don't think expressing it is an attempt to make you fall in line. It's just expressing what I feel. Whether or not you should be sorry begs the question entirely; I wasn't thinking about you, to be honest, when I said that, but about me: it was how I felt. Surprised. Because "at this point" I thought I understood where you were coming from better than I apparently do, and I didn't think we'd be having a conversation in this way on these points because, like I say, I've heard variations of what you say for years. And usually such a conversation takes place before the types of conversations you and I have had have been, um, had.

I can see how that might sound condescending, or shaming, but it's also true. And except that we have a personal relationship (that doesn't extend to having met in person =} and I don't think you have one of the same kind with the Field Negro) I don't see how my comments are different, and certainly aren't worse in emotional valence, than when you say of him "I have learned a great deal from the field and respect him immensely, I think this idea (if indeed he actually believes it) is preposterously naive." You do hedge it because you don't think he believes his own theory, or rather, that if he does perhaps it is more in the service of rabble-rousing than serious inquiry, but you surely know as well that HE "almost always deeper thinking behind [his] ideas." This applies even if his theory is serious rather than simply provocative. (I do wonder if you've taken this point up with him on his blog, I'd be eager to learn how he responds.) To briefly light on the relevant point from Field, as you summarize it, "That the black power elite are neither powerful nor elite because the real white power elite can jack-slap them back out to the fields the first time they forget their place. He usually suggests this idea after a powerful black person has fucked up royally... He violates common rules of logic when he applies his pet theory not to the broader community of high-achieving black professionals, but only to those who have fallen from grace." Insofar as I agree with this point, which is at least somewhat far, I would say it's true if stated differently. "The black power elite are neither [as] powerful nor [as] elite [because the risks, penalties to them when they do fuck up are much higher, at higher stakes than the white power elite]." This may or may not be true, but I hardly think it naive, and it doesn't violate rules of logic. If you command equal power to other elite, but only in a restricted set of circumstances -- that is, your power is equal in amplitude but much more tenuous and less stable and reliable -- than in a real way, you are less powerful. Now, one can argue many elements of that formulation, but I happen to think it's largely true. Whether or not this is the specific case of Tiger is rather like arguing whether or not Hurricane Katrina was specifically caused by Global Warming -- a direct correlation with the individual event may not be possible or valid, but it can be seen to fit into the pattern one would expect from the actions of the larger phenomenon.

Anyway. There is more to say, but I feel like we already have much to talk about. This is really a better conversation had over drinks I think--maybe we can do so some time and tape it for re-distribution on the respective blogs. There are too many nagging points, clarifications to be made, reconsidered, and remade to be an easy conversation taking place through large passages of writing, where seemingly the suite of points to be analyzed just grows continuously anyway.

(This is part of the reason I've been reluctant to return; it seems like one of those conversations like getting tangled in parachute silk, it just gets the more tangled the more you move. For example, when I try to deal with this: "I would suggest that white people are forbidden from giving explicit thought to race--at least since the 1960s. Sure, as a group, white America has a lot to make up for after 150 years of cross-burnings, lynchings, fire bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, water hosing of freedom marchers, George Wallace attempting to prevent the integration of the U of Alabama, and promotion testing that favors white applicants. I am the first to admit that white America showed its ass. But that doesn't mean we should have to give up our voice entirely. If anyone, anywhere tries to stand up and say something about the white race these days, they are labeled a Nazi sympathizer and white supremacist as a matter of course." Is so far from comporting with my experience as to be hard to rationally address. I'm surrounded by white people who give explicit thought to race; you can read white people giving explicit thought to race in any of our nation's major publications; you can see it happening in classrooms I myself have taught and attended. Talking about "the white race" may be fraught, but I have never personally been present where a black person tries to shut someone down for saying it. It's a squeamish topic, it's one someone may be attacked for, but being attacked for your point of view in no way counts as not having a voice. Attempts to shut someone down by guilting them, criticizing them, even defaming them may make people dread to speak, but is emphatically not denying them a voice. The first and latter are, of course, not cricket, but to imply that these tactics are limited to use against those who speak of a "white race" is simply incorrect. And I would further maintain that it's not the concept of a white race which is viewed as sketchy, but rather the phrase "the white race," because of its associations with, say, neo-Nazism. Well, unfortunate connotations also don't constitute an unfair tactic by themselves.

To try to get back to big picture, what I'm trying to say is that I don't doubt you've had experiences where people have tried to guilt, shame, restrict, and condescend to you rather than addressing your actual points. However, in comparison, my experience has been that such worries have almost always been exclusively internal in conversations I've been present for. That is, white people worry about being seen in a negative light, or guilted, shamed, or unreasonably dealt with for expressing honest opinions, but never have I seen a black person in a conversation such as this try to do any of these things. There is simply an uncomfortableness and lack of easy ability to communicate; having a voice doesn't mean having a voice that doesn't require being uncomfortable. I can believe your experiences are different; that doesn't make them more, or less, representative than mine.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Race in America: J's Manties in a Bunch, responding to D

This post responds to a post by J-Fave Daktari here.

Wherein I kind of lose it a little bit, and hope that it's still clear that I hold D in the utmost regard, it's just an issue that got my goat, and then got my goat's panties in a bunch. --J

Wow. I'm kind of surprised to read this from you at this point, D. Sooooo many things. I agree with you that Carmen VK's racial identification is imprecise, but racial identification is by nature (as you point out) imprecise. Many, many countries have considered themselves to be races unto themselves, and they can't be said to be wrong any more than they're right.

"There have been times when I have thought that these shifting ideas about what to call POC was merely a way to prevent white Americans from having any sort of voice in the race discussion. As long as you can shout down the majority group by making them feel prejudiced for daring to open their mouths, you own the direction and tenor of the discussion. Bad form, I say."

My jaw HIT the floor here. Let us say, at best, I think you over-estimate the extent to which "People of Color" think/care about what the majority does. That is, while "proper" identity terms have been at times used quite certainly to make others feel prejudiced, I would basically scream out loud that that is not why they were developed. They were developed, in my educated amateur-ish opinion, because after black Americans finally got a fucking VOTE in what we would be called by majority culture, which was only 40+ years ago, we had and have trouble figuring out what it should be. It shifts constantly as we try to find our identity constantly, and debate what we want to emphasize, own, spurn, celebrate, face up to in terms of the willy-nilly thing that is "black culture" in the US. Race, and culture, are impossible to precisely define, but I would definitely say there is a "pole" around which the African-American/black culture centers, and a "pole" for majoritarian culture, primarily the culture of those who don't necessarily have to give explicit thought to race. (There are of course many other poles, especially for the other large racial minorities, but let's confine ourselves for the moment.) That is to say, and I'm trying not to be shrill here, but honey, the terms black, Negro, Colored, African American, Afro-American, Black-American and others are not about you. We're not shifting around to annoy you (the bulk you--majoritarian culture), we're shifting around because we want a term that will do the impossible.

Let me give you a brief parallel: so, I work on food. I recently listened to a talk by the fantastic manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council, Wayne Roberts. He pointed out that the term "food security" lacked an immediacy and confused people, especially post-9/11. The accepted definition of food security is something like "access by all people at all times to enough and appropriate food for a healthy and active lifestyle", but post-9/11 people think more in terms of "secure from attack." Hunger and malnutrition are neither sufficient because they don't inherently entail the issue of access (the prevalent, by far, cause of hunger/malnutrition/food insecurity); food sovereignty is a growing term but lacks common currency in the Global North, over-emphasizes an ideal of the nation-state, isn't clear as to what group is the appropriate unit of "sovereignty", etc. Similar problems evolve from "food democracy." All this is to say, there is no one term that can encompass what we need to encompass within food justice circles. We can't all agree, and the terms in favor shift all the time. We're not doing this, certainly, to keep people from understanding or speaking about food. We're doing it because it's impossible to have the "one right term." The same is true, if not more so, for terms for racial groups.

Then you go into the "we're all human" and "we're all mixed race" and "we're all out of Africa." Well, those things are all true, but the years of research debunking a deep biological meaning for race simply mean that its primary importance and meaning comes from the social. And just because something is socially defined doesn't mean it's not real, it's just different in kind than a strict biophysical property. "Race" is a social construct; but then so are the identities "Christian", "Hindu", "Atheist" "Agnostic" "Democrat" "Republican" "Anarchist" "Bat-shit Crazy Follower of Ayn Rand's Fucked Up Ideas." Yet we'd never argue that "there's no such thing as Christians", or "look, all religious beliefs and lack thereof originate from humanity's inability to know and understand everything; I'm going to say we're ALL agnostic because all faith or conviction against faith hinges on the problem of 'a-gnostia' (the word I think I just made up meaning "a state of not-knowing")".

I mean, yes, of course it's important for us to emphasize, identify with, realize and cherish our shared humanity. And race is not all-defining and should not be; even under slavery, race was not *all* that a human being was, master or slave (though it did determine, if you were a slave, nearly all of how you would be seen by others one could argue). The fact that we share a common ancestor is relatively immaterial to all this, because as you imply the biology of it all is a red herring.

By debunking the red herring, you haven't really said much about the actual import of the situation I'm afraid. Tiger's deal is a complicated one, and the race aspect originates in a combination of internalization/indoctrination and earlier solidarity. That is, the rules under slavery were "one drop of black blood makes you black". Impossible to enforce in real life, of course, but certainly true in terms of if a black ancestor could be reasonably identified for you, you were automatically not white. If you were fair-skinned and, say, had some kind of social status, and it wasn't your father or mother but perhaps grand or great-grand that was black, you might hold onto not being a slave or total second-class citizen. But first class was closed to you.

Well, a couple hundred years of that attitude, and African Americans/black (which I use interchangeably for blacks within the US) internalized a lot of it. Self-policing means that if you have, let us say, "some drops", and (primarily these days) some subset of typically black phenotypes, you are considered "black." There is/has been a lot of push-back from mixed race people, but let us remember that openly mixed-race kids has only stopped being of some significant degree of social note in your own lifetime, I'd think.[Addition: Outside of this internalization, "claiming" mixed race individuals as black was in part solidarity and strategy, I think, as also until relatively recently, being identifiably mixed race was almost as much of a problem/stigma as being black. So mixed race children were forced to live the social experience of their black parents to some extent, both while they were raised and to an extent as adults I would think; identifying as black was a statement of solidarity, and a strategy in coalition-building to fight all racial prejudice. Beyond that, claiming mixed race people as "black" allowed blacks to point to many successful African Americans as role models and counter-examples for our supposed inferiority. But many, many of the early successful African Americans were mixed -- their success came in part from either "passing" as white, or from advantages gained from, say, a white father who supported his mixed-race kids with one of his slaves. But once they had achieved great things, through either mechanism, it was useful and quite sensical to say, both for the sake of our own role models and to "prove" something to majority culture -- "See! You see! Black people CAN do that; we ARE as smart, as capable! Your own standards say one drop of black blood makes you black; well look at him/her! Black, powerful and proud!" The rhetorical usefulness of this quite drops if you start talking about mixed race explicitly, beyond which, since race *is* more social than biological, it makes perfect sense in that atmosphere to claim mixed-race people, who would've been equally discriminated against where they could be identified, as black. Since it's socially constructed, they were black, because they were treated as such.-end Addition]

As far as "I read a recent blog post on Feministing wherein people say that if a minority calls me an epithet, it's just being rude, but if I call a minority an epithet, it's a hate crime, I wonder how f*#@'d up our ideas about race have really become", I thought we'd already had this conversation. But in any case, something well reflecting of my opinion of this is here and I address it directly here. I'm heavily indebted to this essay by Stanley Fish. I disagree with much in the article, but not with the overall point here: "The hostility of the other group is the result of [racist] actions, and whereas hostility and racial anger are unhappy facts wherever they are found, a distinction must surely be made between the ideological hostility of the oppressors and the experience-based hostility of those who have been oppressed." The details of this formulation may be more arguable in a world where oppression is more subtle, but its substantial truth, I think, remains.

It seems to me your panties got rightly in a knot over some of the foolishness around Tiger. That foolishness, however, doesn't invalidate all race, just as the East Anglia data set debacle doesn't invalidate Global Climate Change. We may be much closer to a world where "Money and fame make everyone colorblind", but we are not there. Money and fame makes a lot appear colorblind, and we are perhaps closer to that than the world of the joke
Ques: "What do you call a black, Harvard-educated bank president?"
Ans: "A nigger";
but we are no more wholly in the wealth & fame colorblind world than we are wholly in the one of the joke.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

In defense of Meat

An interesting viewpoint here. I say "interesting" I guess to be purposely milquetoast; I largely agree with what Harvey Ussery has to say, but of course, there are boatloads of critiques, glossed-over points, retorts to critiques and counter-critiques to be had, as seems to happen all the time with food. (This is my impression right now of what seems to be the "local-food-backlash", that is, a flurry of academic and popular articles on how local food actually may be worse, from energy efficiency, causing smugness and related moral turpitude, etc. etc. I was flabbergasted when a mathematician shook her head at me when I maintained that, ceteris paribus (all things being equal), local should be more efficient. I think it's pretty much definitionally true that local food is better, all things being equal; a separate question is whether and when they in fact are equal. But I feel like the local critique is as much founded in a backlash as it is in the fact that local is, of course, not an unconditional universally-good free panacea. I still think the science bears out that more local food systems are a better idea, on average, than a far-flung food system. But I digress.)

Worth a read; not necessarily a new argument but a passionately and clearly phrased one, and one that I think I'm on board with (but can't be sure because my mind has been quite hijacked by work for the past several days and is not all with me). Ussery seems like an interesting guy in the Joel Salatin mode (so much so that I was looking askance at his website to see if he shared some of Salatin's more, um, iconoclastic political views); worth looking more into.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Real World: Rachel Larrimore

Slate-slash-Double-X writer Rachael Larrimore joins much of the rest of the world as she moves from "Wishing I could quit you" to "Ok, I'm quitting you" with Sarah "WTF?" Palin. I've previously accused Larrimore and her XX compatriots as being "increasingly gormless", which I pretty much still stand by (despite liking many of them as writers in other contexts), but let us be gracious here and welcome Rachael to the fold. Or rather, not welcome her to the fold because that sounds patronizing and as a Republican woman on a Neoliberal webmagazine, she doesn't need it.

Long story short, her statement that "I realize now that what I most liked about you was an idealized image of you that I created" rings so very true, and is certainly something I think Dems are familiar with [fake sneezes while saying "Obama"... and then fake sneezes and says the names of 99% of all politicians ever]. When she goes on to say "I like that a woman can have a political career while raising a bunch of kids, that one could succeed without having the right pedigree or giving those kids country club names, that you were unabashedly pro-life," well, then her defense of Palin makes sense, a theme I explored last year as part of a more general realization about why wanting a president you "can have a beer with" (or skin a moose with) actually fits within a progressive worldview better than you might think.

So I really want to be snarky about this, but one thing I do respect about Larrimore has been her willingness and bravery in reasoning through her center-conservative politics out loud, in a left-ish forum, and I think such exchanges of earnest views are important and too uncommon. So, I'll stop here before I say something patronizing AND snarky.

Reasonable words on GM Foods

I'm rather skeptical of genetically modified foods myself, both on grounds of safety and efficacy in addressing hunger (and I realize these are heavily contested points and I'm just not going to venture back into them now), but an article at The Guardian maintains that the new synthesis is in, and it's one I largely agree with:
On Wednesday night a debate on GMOs at the illustrious Royal Society of Chemistry HQ in London suggested a breakthrough. Afterwards the feeling was that it was a win on points for the GM sceptics... But [GM proponents] can take heart: the debate was less a defeat for GM than for the way it has developed. The corollary is that if the government really believes that the only way to increase yields is through GM technology, it will have to fund this itself.

The winning argument on Wednesday was not really about science at all, but about the ethics of a method of increasing yields that delivers such power into the hands of the multinationals... GM may be a small part of the answer. But it has a mixed record in Asia, where it has tended to enrich the rich and impoverish the poor, and it is unlikely to be any part of the answer to food security in Africa for the foreseeable future. As the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation pointed out last year, there is enough food for everyone. It just isn't available in the right places... globally the need is for publicly funded science to investigate sustainable agriculture in the widest possible meaning of the word: better farming practices, a viable pricing system and, for the global north, a radical change in patterns of consumption.

The "consensus position" (of three or four people I've talked with) is that a reasonable position genetic modification includes a much larger public sector involvement and relative decrease in blockages from Intellectual Property Regimes (if not directly challenging established patents, then developing GM products in the public domain via universities and government funding; many have pointed out that whatever the pluses and minuses of the "first" Green Revolution, a key component of it was the public rather than proprietary nature of a significant portion of its technologies), AND most (of the three or four I've had an extended discussion with) agree as well that large-scale public epidemiology trials should be conducted. GM proponents often proclaim that it's the most widely tested, heavily regulated technology, yet there have been no systematic human feeding trials that I've ever heard of, and certainly no longitudinal ones. Since we're already eating them anyway, seems to me it only makes sense to do large-scale trials taking some people "off" GMs to the extent possible (this would pose a challenge but could be done in part using organic foods) and comparing to a paired sample of people maintaining a GM-diet (not hard since most corn and soybean in the US is already GM). Such trials would be complicated, but there seems little reasonable rationale for not doing them, and doing them would begin to settle much between proponents and opponents (not all, not by half, but much, and would be a substantial improvement on the status quo).

Of course, the thing about the consensus over making GMs:
a) publicly funded/public domain
b) widely, openly and long-term tested
is that it seems quite unlikely to happen, whatever we agree to. GM companies and most governments have no intention of vigorously supporting either position... making articles like that in the Guardian all the more important. If all those of good intent can agree on these two propositions (or something like them) and bridge the divide between people legitimately concerned with hunger and justice but with different evaluations of GM, we can force the hand of governments and companies. Arguing between ourselves has produced more heat than light; hopefully the event reported by the Guardian can be the foundation of a new direction?*

*Rather reminds me of an article a friend recently posted: Let's All Agree: Factory Farming is the Real Evil, Not Vegans. Which I can rather agree to, if one adds the corollary that "factory farms are the enemy, not meat-eaters. Even unconscientious meat-eaters aren't the enemy; we don't want to wipe them out, we want to convince them. Vegan/vegetarianism is threatening and foreign to many people, and trying to shock and shame them into better behavior seems to more commonly generate anger than conversion. Surely, vegans have as much a responsibility as small-farm omnivores to promote co-operation and reasonable discourse, and all of us have a responsibility to convince others. In looking to do so, we should evaluate what's most effective, not necessarily what seems most morally satisfying, most extreme, or most attention-getting. All of those have a time and a place, but it's not always the time and place for all of them. I don't read a lot of vegan writing, but it seems to me there's responsibility on both sides for toning down rhetoric and looking to work together against factory farming, rather than against each other. (Especially because I think consumer activism is severely limited and mainly symbolic by itself, without political agitation and structural change, anyway.)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

No relation to anything: GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DAMNED KIDS!

The World is Going to Hell, and Always Has Been.

Nice bit here from commenter "Barefoot Bum" on PhysioProf's blog:

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

– Socrates (apocryphal)

I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.

— Hesiod, Eighth Century B.C.E.

The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of
today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for
parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.”

– Peter the Hermit 1274 CE (apocryphal)

I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.

– G. K. Chesterton

Organic Agriculture can feed the... Africa.

"UN report concludes organic farming offers Africa the best chance to feed itself"

The report is over a year old (news reporting on it can be found here, the report here), and it seems largely based on pre-existing methodology and links by University of Essex's prominent agroecologist Jules Pretty and colleague Rachel Hine.

It seemingly belies the trope that the case of food security in Africa is too desperate, too urgent, and too important to leave to something silly like organic agriculture, though I'm sure the argument will continue in earnest, despite the apparently growing evidence mostly on the side of organic agriculture. (Though the evidence is not unequivocal, perhaps.)