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Comment: Worthless article. Compare with Dervaes family (Score 2) 452

by epte (#39817475) Attached to: Organics Can't Match Conventional Farm Yields

Conventional records:

World record soybeans, 2010, 160.6 bu/acre * 60 lbs/bu = 9,636 lbs/acre

World record rice, 2011, 13.5 tons/hectare = 10,927 lbs/acre

World record corn, 2002, 442 bu/acre * 70 lbs/bu = 30,940 lbs/acre (being generous, assuming ear corn)
(granted, not as good a source. find a better one)

World record wheat
World record wheat, 2010, 15.637 tons/hectare = 12,656 lbs/acre

(lbs/bushel figures taken from

Now compare with the Dervaes family, doing permaculture in Pasadena on 1/10 of an acre. All years from 2003-2009 inclusive (newer data isn't posted) are between 4,000 lbs and 6,000 lbs on 1/10 of an acre. So 40K - 60K lbs/acre annually. That's better than world record yields on a regular basis.

Comment: Re:What am I missing? (Score 3, Informative) 111

by epte (#39316895) Attached to: IBM Scientists Measure the Heat Emitted From Erasing a Single Bit

Say you have two valleys named 0 and 1, and a mountain between. Setting our bit by rolling a ball from 0 to 1 would require energy expenditure, but once the ball is in the valley it is stable and won't roll out again without further input. 0 and 1 may be at different heights relative to each other, but need not be. They might even be at the same altitude. But if 1 were higher than 0, then yes, you would be storing energy in some sort of potential energy form, and may be able to recover that energy when coming back to zero. But you cannot expect to recover all the energy it took to push the ball up the mountain. Any energy required to raise the ball above its destination will have been wasted.

Comment: Which question are you asking? (Score 1) 396

by epte (#39263287) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Is an Acceptable Broadband Latency?

1) Is 300ms actually considered acceptable by some broadband customers?
2) Is 300ms typical for some broadband connections and/or modems?
3) Can 300ms acceptable as a general standard of service for broadband connections?

Personally, I cannot accept 300ms for my broadband, because I need to run RDC over a VPN, which would result in about 0.75 roundtrip for every GUI action I take. A little less than a second for every mouse click? No thank you. So, #3 should definitely be NO.

Comment: Re:We're going to need a new human-value paradigm (Score 1) 990

by epte (#37839518) Attached to: The Real Job Threat

"because of advances in soil building, de-desertification, and hydro-/aqua-ponics"

And just who is going to do all of that for us while we're intensively farming our land?

We smallholding farmers already are. Check out, for example, the youtube video "Greening the Desert" by Geoff Lawton. He planted a sustainable orchard in the middle of the Jordan, surviving with no external water inputs, desalinating the soil. He's a fellow permaculturist, and he has achieved what the University of Jordan's Ag department couldn't, and with far less input.

For that matter, how are we going to get this land? It's not free, and we're not born with money.

We can be born onto land that is already sustainably planted. I personally dislike the estate taxes setup, because it means that your estate is never really yours, and thus requires you to make a profit during your lifetime. I don't have anything against making profit. I just don't think that's the only way to do it, and thus, shouldn't be required.

These things are taken in steps, of course. If I realize I'd like food security, and to set up a sustainable, maintainable, low-input garden that provides more-convenient, more-nutritious, more-diverse food, then of course I'm going to work toward that. I'll get myself a little land and start, so I can show the path to others. I'm not just talking -- I've started it for myself.

Comment: Re:We're going to need a new human-value paradigm (Score 1) 990

by epte (#37839334) Attached to: The Real Job Threat

The Dervaes family in Pasadena is able to produce 6 tons of food annually on less than 1/10th of an acre. They meet about 50% of their own needs (for 3 people) and sell about half of their produce to local restaurants.

Wikipedia reports 48,836,976 sq km total possible agricultural land. The number should be higher, because of advances in soil building, de-desertification, and hydro-/aqua-ponics, but given that number, that amounts to 1.20678796 × 10^10 acres, which divided by 7 billion, is a little over 1.7 acres per person, more than enough to feed one person for a whole year, if done correctly. An acre can actually feed a family of four for a full year, if intensively gardened.

Comment: Re:We're going to need a new human-value paradigm (Score 1) 990

by epte (#37837956) Attached to: The Real Job Threat

Even if the 500x stat is correct, it's the agricultural equivalent of a crappy plastic component, watered down and sold at earliest pick. Even the free range eggs in the store look and taste positively pale in comparison to ours. You have no idea what you're missing.

A one acre highly-diversified farm puts out several times more than agribusiness ever can. Those machines come with a cost. You have to grow all the same crop, in land that's been highly compacted, next to other plants with all the same needs (competing for resources), with hardly any animal life to support them.

My guess is you're thinking of an annual farm that requires a lot of input. But if you operate on an ecosystem level, letting the elements feed each other and reproduce for themselves, you're mostly just introducing new species and foraging on your own land (quicker than going to the grocery store).

ADM does not own all the land. Not even nearly. Nor will they.

And I don't need 500x acceleration, because my throughput is in my biomass, not my process. You're thinking about it wrong.

Comment: No jobs? No work? Foobar on that. (Score 1) 990

by epte (#37837790) Attached to: The Real Job Threat

A job is just a way to meet your needs. Sure specialization allows you to demand a large enough income to meet your needs, but in the days where security matters more (such as this downturn), a little despecialization to gain security would seem to make sense. I mean, if you find yourself with time on your hands, meet your needs.

As for myself, I'm a programmer, but I've got a 1acre perennial farm that requires very little input. If you have land, time, water, sun, and determination, you can meet your needs, without it needing to be backbreaking or boring.

It used to be, that given some land, a person could meet most of their needs themselves. Have we become so detached from the basics of life, that to not find employment means you die? WTF??

Outsourcing and automation are not the only options here. And if people are displaced by robber barons, then lets get them a little land and connect them with a means to provide for themselves. If the automation is to assist individuals in their work, then wouldn't it make sense if we each grew most of our own food? Technology enables and decentralizes. Eventually everyone will be producing their own food, power, tools, and *. Let's get started.

Comment: Re:There is Always More Work to Do (Score 1) 990

by epte (#37837076) Attached to: The Real Job Threat

Combines may have made it possible to increase an individual farmer's output, but at what cost? Haven't we all experienced the replacement of the quality, handcrafted item with the cheap plastic mass produced part planned to break in x years (or months)? Sure that's acceptable for some things, but with our food?

Food security is enabling, empowering. And if you're considering it back-breaking, or doing so much of the same task as to need machines, or to consider the work boring, you're doing it wrong. We have a 1 acre, highly diversified, mostly perennial farm, aiming at low-input sustainability. If you don't bother with annuals, that saves you a ton of time. Having the diversification means you don't have accumulations of super-pests, and hence less need for costly poisons. If you plant enough nitrogen fixers, and have enough animals around, there's no need for fertilizer. If you treat your farm less like a crop, and more like an ecosystem food web, there's a lot less work to be done. You introduce new species, you let one element feed the other, you let them multiply for themselves, and you harvest the surplus. Anything else is fighting nature, and hence, introduces work.

Having food security then enables one to be free from the whims of the food, oil, and job market. I would think anyone, including the software programmers (such as myself), would want such security, at relatively low input, and one that involves enjoyable, diversified work. It reduces risk and unties your hands, to take those professional risks you might otherwise wish you could.

"You show me an American who can keep his mouth shut and I'll eat him." -- Newspaperman from Frank Capra's _Meet_John_Doe_