That Chicken From Whole Foods Isn’t So Special Anymore

By Deena Shanker and Polly Mosendz : .bloomberg – excerpt

Big poultry and meat producers have absorbed many of the organic grocer’s practices—and become its suppliers.

Whole Foods Market Inc. doesn’t just sell chickens. It sells shoppers on the idea of chickens raised and treated better than prevailing standards: no antibiotics, no hormones, no cages. Not the sort of chicken you can get anywhere.

But thanks in no small part to a food-quality revolution that Whole Foods helped cultivate over the past decade, standards for much of the poultry sold at American supermarkets are shifting. The gulf has narrowed—and sometimes has even closed—between what’s sold at Whole Foods and what’s produced by industrial food giants such as Perdue Farms Inc. and sold at lower-cost supermarkets… (more)

Politics of Food. Happy to bring some good news on the food front for people who can’t afford high-priced health foods. Competitors are bringing down prices while meeting the growing demand for healthy food. Now all we need is for the wise politicians  in Washington who understand the need for seasonal workers to get the ban on those workers lifted so the farmers can continue to produce the domestic fo

od we need to feed our country.

RELATED:
With Fewer Available H-2B Visas, Employers Struggle To Find Seasonal Workers 
North Coast growers head into grape harvest with labor shortage as their top concern

 

 

When Silicon Valley Took Over Journalism

 

By Franklin Foer : theatlantic –  excerpt

The pursuit of digital readership broke the New Republic—and an entire industry.

Chris Hughes was a mythical savior—boyishly innocent, fantastically rich, intellectually curious, unexpectedly humble, and proudly idealistic.

My entire career at the New Republic had been spent dreaming of such a benefactor. For years, my colleagues and I had sputtered our way through the internet era, drifting from one ownership group to the next, each eager to save the magazine and its historic mission as the intellectual organ for hard-nosed liberalism. But these investors either lacked the resources to invest in our future or didn’t have quite enough faith to fully commit. The unending search for patronage exhausted me, and in 2010, I resigned as editor…

Over the past generation, journalism has been slowly swallowed. The ascendant media companies of our era don’t think of themselves as heirs to a great ink-stained tradition. Some like to compare themselves to technology firms. This redefinition isn’t just a bit of fashionable branding. As Silicon Valley has infiltrated the profession, journalism has come to unhealthily depend on the big tech companies, which now supply journalism with an enormous percentage of its audience—and, therefore, a big chunk of its revenue… (more)

A completely different view of the world, based on future expectations of where technology will take us, is unveiled as a major funding partner of Facebook pours his wealth into The New Republic. Having been interviewed by The Atlantic, I can speak from experience on how that movement feels. Both extremes, living in the past and living in the future are not getting most of us anywhere other than longing for a clear presence in the presence that is lacking in both.

 

 

 

How Fossil Fuel Money Made Climate Change Denial the Word of God

Brendan O’Connor : splinternews – excerpt

In 2005, at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., the National Association of Evangelicals was on the verge of doing something novel: affirming science. Specifically, the 30-million-member group, which represents 51 Christian denominations, was debating how to advance a new platform called “For the Health of a Nation.” The position paper—written the year before An Inconvenient Truth kick-started sense of public urgency around climate change—included a call for evangelicals to protect God’s creation, and to embrace the government’s help in doing so. The NAE’s board had already adopted it unanimously before presenting it to the membership for debate.

At the time, many in the evangelical movement were uncomfortable with its close ties to the Republican anti-environmental regulation agenda. That year, a group called the Evangelical Alliance of Scientists and Ethicists protested the GOP-led effort to rewrite the Endangered Species Act, and the NAE’s vice president of governmental affairs Richard Cizik pushed for the organization to endorse John McCain and Joe Lieberman’s cap-and-trade bill. “For the Health of a Nation,” which Cizik also pushed, was an opportunity to draw a bright line between their support of right-wing social positions on abortion and civil rights and a growing sentiment that God’s creation needed protection from industry.

“Evangelicals don’t want themselves identified as the Republican Party at prayer,” the historian and evangelical Mark Knoll said at the time in support of the platform.

He was wrong. The rank-and-file membership rejected the effort. Like the oil and utilities industries, they decided that recognizing climate change was against their political interests…

Conservative groups, funded by fossil fuel magnates, spend approximately one billion dollars every year interfering with public understanding of what is actually happening to our world.

For his trouble, Cizik was targeted by a collection of hard right Christians, who petitioned the NAE board to muzzle him or force him to resign. “Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children,” their letter read. It also implied that Cizik, who had worked for the NAE for nearly three decades, supported abortion, giving condoms to children, and infanticide…. (more)

Very interesting stories about media and how it is changing and being used to influence politics. This site is all about media and the arts, and this mornings two stories show the wide range of ideas that are being pumped out to society from the new media sources. Both extremes are backed by large corporate funders backing very different agendas.

 

 

Why Artificial Intelligence Should Terrify You

By Nicole Clark : bolditalic – excerpt

Our resident Silicon Valley CEOs are feuding over A.I. They’re both wrong.

Two days ago, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, an outspoken proponent of artificial intelligence regulation, dished out a sick burn via Twitter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Musk called Zuckerberg’s knowledge of AI “limited.” Sounds benign to you or me, but in the rarefied world of the tech world, them’s fightin’ words.

Every tech-news outlet has jumped on this story; it’s another course du jour in the saga of two tech leaders embroiled in a fight over whose opinion of AI — opinions that cannot be substantiated anywhere in the near future — is more correct…

This sort of coverage builds comedy and mystique as a buffer around a technology that should honestly be regarded as scarier. I’m not talking about I, Robot, in which machines take violently to the streets and populate the earth like human proxies — according to Mark O’Connell’s To Be a Machine, machines possess really shitty motor skills. No one actually knows how the brain works, so it’s doubtful we’ll be able to build something that truly emulates it. I’m referring to the explicit knowledge that AI and automation in general will steal jobs and, even more seriously, stagnate social mobility in the near future — to name just two downsides…

Equally troubling is the potential for AI to poorly manage things like “driving cars, curing diseases…[and] understanding media,” as Zuckerberg stated in 2016 after completing Jarvis, an AI that runs his home. We already know that AI can pick up bias. Because these data sets come from human subjects, the biases implicit in these subjects get baked into the software. In this particular study, the machine-learning program associated “wedding” with females versus “professional” and “salary” with males — among other infractions….(more)

Scary AI Stories: There were reports this week of a couple of computers that started chatting with each other in a language that their “human handlers” could not understand when tasked with negotiating with each other. The program was allegedly discontinued, but, knowing that two computers are capable of making up a language of their own, is rather disconcerting and why I chose to run this story.

 

 

Summer of Love lost on those living in Summer of Discontent

By Caille Millner : sfchronicle – excerpt

In our Summer of Discontent, what can we learn from the Summer of Love?

Since the Summer took place before I was born, I have no nostalgia, passions or bad memories about anything that happened in San Francisco in 1967.

I can tell that for some people it was a seminal event, judging by the extent of attention I’ve seen around the 50th anniversary. There have been at least 10 Bay Area museum exhibits celebrating some aspect of the Summer of Love this year. There have been endless free concerts, tours and tie-dyed public posters. There’s been even-more-extensive-than-usual glorification of the Grateful Dead.

I appreciate how all of this is an opportunity for a segment of Bay Area Baby Boomers to indulge in youthful memories of the good times. (Have fun, kids!)

But for those of us far too young to have been there, the Summer of Love has never felt as far away as it does in 2017.

On my way to the de Young Museum’s “Summer of Love Experience” exhibit, in Golden Gate Park, I traveled through the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. My misgivings began there.

San Francisco’s advanced state of economic inequality and neighborhood gentrification have led to strange street-level juxtapositions all over town. But the Haight is still a special place; these juxtapositions maintain a hard edge…

Continue reading “Summer of Love lost on those living in Summer of Discontent”

Sonoma County challenges for pot supremacy as others turn away

By Peter Fimrite : sfchronicle – excerpt

Sonoma embraces craft cannabis as one of its prize crops. photo by zrants

Locally sourced bat guano and other manure-based fertilizers will power Erich Pearson’s biodynamic pot farm outside the city of Sonoma, which seeks to harness the forces of the earth, the cosmos and the free market.

Craft cannabis is becoming a cousin to craft beer in Sonoma County, and the venture by the founder of the San Francisco Patient and Resource Center, or SPARC, is among several operations awaiting permits to grow and manufacture medical marijuana — and, presumably, recreational pot in the future.

Around the state, the mainstreaming and legalization of marijuana is prompting many cities, even liberal ones, to fear trouble and shun the exploding industry.

But parts of Sonoma County, and especially Santa Rosa, are making the redolent herb their own, viewing it as more akin to beer, wine and fine food as a driver of jobs, tourism and tax revenue.

“Sonoma County is very welcoming,” said Pearson, who plans to organically grow an acre of cannabis from seed using a variety of sustainable techniques, including the loving application of bat excrement to roots, preferably during the summer solstice. “This county is known for high-quality food and high-quality consumable products. I think cannabis in Sonoma County will follow that path.”… (more)

PG&E Helps Build a Dry-Run Burning Man Temple

By Peter Lawrence Kane : sfweekly – excerpt

Synergy between two for-profit entities with extensive experience with humongous fires.

This year, the Man pairs up with “The Man,” as in one of the worst corporate citizens in California.

In a dry run before the actual Temple goes up on the playa next month, noted shitty corporate citizen Pacific Gas & Electric will build a test version on Friday along with 100 volunteers. According to a media advisory from PG&E corporate relations, the company donated more than 100 logs to Burning Man, sourcing them from “drought-stricken, pest-impacted dead trees” in Tuolumne County. Having since becoming usable lumber at a sawmill in Richmond, the wood will be #blessed at an Oakland warehouse tomorrow… (more)

This is one of the best put-downs of a dual corporate art project that merges the former hip with truly awful art production teams. If this is the future of big art I am all for staying small.