Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Environmental Cost Of Growing Pot : NPR

The Environmental Cost Of Growing Pot : NPR

I just visited the redwoods in Humboldt and heard a lot about the prevalence of growing marijuana. It is now quasi-legal since it is so easy to get a medical referral. And it is quite popular.

It was interesting to hear about the environmental consequences of public policies towards marijuana. According to the story most marijuana was grown outside with minimal inputs. As policing efforts increased much growing was pushed indoors, which takes a great deal of electricity, up to twenty times more than what a normal home would take.

As production has been pushed to remote areas diesel generators were needed, leading the diesel leak into a stream that the story mentions.

I think the most interesting effect will be what will happen if marijuana is legalized in California. Growers fear a drastic drop in prices that would make it uneconomic to grow indoors. Would the producers then ask for subsidies?

The law of unintended consequences remains in effect. Legalizing marijuana turns it into another farm commodity that works under the principles of agricultural economics. Criminalizing the weed increases prices and might reduce supply leading to even higher prices. The transition is sure to be complicated. Do we really need another drug? An interesting story.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Genetically Altered Salmon Set to Move Closer to Your Table -

Genetically Altered Salmon Set to Move Closer to Your Table -

I don't eat salmon that much. It will be interesting to see if people will buy the salmon with the genetically engineered fast growth. According to the article, the meat is identical. The fish don't get bigger than normal salmon, they just achieve their size faster.

If the meat doesn't have a special label it will be accepted by consumers. If if has a special frankenfish label and their is regular fish along side it then no one will buy it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Topographic Map Format Available

While looking for a map on the US Geological Survey site today I found a new format of topographic maps. Previously it was easy to download a scanned topographic map in pdf format. Today I noticed that for some regions there is a new kind of map called a US Topo. It has a true color aerial photo for a base with all the usual topographic map features on top. 

For example, below is a part of the Iron Springs 7.5 minute map showing the Waynesboro Reservoir, which was made in 1995.
Following is the June 2010 version of the same area.
For some maps there is a Digital Maps beta version that doesn't yet have the contour lines. The new maps can be purchased in paper format. Even better is the pdf format. The data in the new maps can be separated in the reader, just like in a GIS. When you install the free TerraGo add-on in Adobe Reader you can make measurements of direction and distance directly on the map. Very Cool! It is all available at Topographic maps will never be the same again!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mansfield Park

I recently finished Mansfield Park, in audiobook format. At first I thought this would be a Cinderella story, where Fanny overcome the adversity of being a near-orphan living with her wealthier relations. As the story continued it became more and more complicated.

I kept wanting Fanny to become more assertive. Instead I started to see her as a blank slate where her total virtue was used to show the shorctomings of her cousins, aunts, uncle, and all the other characters. It wasn't until the end of the book where she goes to visit her family that she showed some reactions of her own.

I didn't understand why Fanny and Edmund opposed the play so much. Was it just too show that it could lead to temptation? After a while I got tired of hearing about propriety so much. I read somewhere that Jane Austen had participated in amateur theatricals with her family. Did she oppose it or did she just use this situation to make the story?

Also it was obvious that Fanny would end up with Edmund. Didn't they worry then about first cousins marrying? And he never seemed to really understand her in spite of all his kindness.

I loved the characters in this book. Aunt Norris and Lady Bertram are fabulous. Henry and Mary Crawford are also great. I have known people like this and will think of these characters when I meet more. I can see coming back to this story again. I think next time I will read it, although I really liked the audiobook version.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Steller's Jay"

Originally uploaded by Rick Leche.

While visiting a redwood grove in Humboldt State Park last week we noticed this bird swooping down on us as we walked among the trees. Come to find out it is Steller's jay. Here's a good picture I found on Flickr in the bird guide group.
I got a few usable pictures of my own at the park visitor's center.



The park did have warning out to not feed the jays. They adapt easily to being fed and can overpopulate, which make them a danger to other bird species. They are fascinating to watch, though.