Also: the Time Warner / Comcast deal is a crock of shit. I believe I'm not the only one who feels that these companies provide terrible customer service and gouge us for shitty connection speeds. The cost of my connection has doubled since Time Warner bought Adelphia cable with no appreciable increase in speed. It's bullshit.
The trick in my opinion is to get access to a cheap device that is not locked to any particular content ecosystem.
WiFi access. I would imagine that your internet bill will likely be your biggest long-term expense. You can get some pretty awesome consumer routers, install DD-WRT on them or tomato USB or whatever) and get some pretty fancy functionality. I've been eyeing this one.
And maybe the most affordable ebook readers or tablets for checkout. You might get a sponsorship from Google or Amazon -- they are all too anxious to rope people into their ebook ecosystems. I would try to avoid these book ecosystems for cost reasons. You can also get all kinds of amazing old books through project gutenberg. Maybe OLPC would have a suitable device?
You might also keep some physical books of historical interest or perhaps large maps or other visually oriented works that resist digitization.
Until a large portion of the world starts performing population control, our opinions about the harm of growing populations is not relevant to topics related to feeding more people. As long as we as a society let people have as many kids as they want, and do not wish to punish children for the sins of their parents, we need to find ways of feeding all of these people.
How do you figure that concern over population growth is not relevant to feeding people? I smell in this statement some kind of ethical concept which needs to be more clearly elucidated. I'm willing to accept that it's a Machiavellian notion, but if you don't feed people, they find it harder to reproduce. And, as long as we're on the topic of feeding everyone with GMO, why not engineer the GMO to reduce fertility rates? I'm sure it's possible. We just need to find some kind of GMO that contributes an anaphrodisiac to Golden Rice. As long as we are taking charge of our destiny with genetic tools, why not solve all the problems we can?
I worry that we have a society where it's considered to be ok to make decisions based on ideas that are known to be completely crackpot.
I believe you said it best: You can find reasons to worry about anything.
I'm hardly a science denier. I'm not trying to suggest -- in the face of all manner of evidence -- that GMO causes allergy problems or tumors. I was merely trying to suggest that limiting our concern about GMO food production to only it's direct impact on human health ignores some other possibilities and that I've yet to see any evidence showing or refuting that these might be a problem. Some standard examples, which may or may not be caught and/or prevented by sufficient caution and regulation:
* Potential to create an invasive species. Kudzu, which is not GMO, comes to mind. If you introduce a new vegetation that is exceptionally viable, it may potentially overwhelm a given habitat, thereby upsetting the balance of species. "Pest resistant" is not especially far-removed from "lacks no natural predators."
* Potential to upset the nonlinear relation between species in a delicate ecosystem. It's been a very long time since I studied nonlinear differential equations, but I recall one example describing the mutual dependency of prey and predator relations. Some of these featured dangerous instabilities and asymptotes if you pushed them too far to one side. What happens when you prevent "pests" from feeding on their natural food supply? Might this possibly have a catastrophic impact on predatory species that eat those pests? Might that in turn effect other species further up the food chain? This issue does not relate to human health as much as species diversity. Call me a bleeding heart, but I like animals.
* Use of GMO to build herbicide/pesticide resistance, allowing more liberal use of herbicide/pesticide to the detriment of non-human species (e.g., bees, possibly causing or contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder).
These things worry me. I am an not a biologist, but I am an engineer. Please don't accuse me of being a "science denier" and coming up with "crap." If you do, you out yourself as precisely one of the hacks that should never be allowed to conduct this kind of research. If, on the other hand, you can kindly and convincingly *explain* why we shouldn't worry about this stuff, please do so! If you demand that anyone with a reasonable education simply "have faith" in the scientific establishment, then you are not scientist but a cultist.
Quite aside from ecological and human health concerns, what about social equity and legal concerns? I oppose both software and genetic patents because I believe they unfairly favor bean-counting assholes and financial analysts over human interest and inventors. I am skeptical of the "noble" aspirations of feeding starving populations. While I am sympathetic to hungry peoples, I also wonder if it's a good idea to introduce global factors to the food chain which may result in a population boom of the most invasive species of all -- humans. I think it goes without saying that adding another billion people to the earth is going to have catastrophic consequences: pollution, conflict, destruction of wilderness.