Tag: metabolism

“Blooming Biomes Mean Blooming Profits”: ‘Nature-based’ Industrial Farming and the Politics of the Industrial Animal Microbiome

Industrial trade shows are curious places. Potential customers milling around more than 500,000 square feet of exhibit space; technoscientific exuberance and hype; snappy names and enticing displays; hungry and nondiscriminatory grabs for whatever is free; networking spaces facilitated by their offerings of food and drink; and extravagant product demonstrations all collide in the fervor of selling, or at least showing off, the most innovative piece of technology. Here are other details that make industrial trade shows political places of assemblage: the racialized, gendered nature of maintenance and service work that help make an event as large as this run; the uneven representations of corporate power through the different sizes of trade floor allotment and who runs them; the ways in which some companies use gendered labor and performance (high heels, tight and low-cut shirts, and bright red lipstick) to attract onlookers to their booth; and the juxtaposition between these efforts against a company’s tagline behind them that says, as one example, “Leading the world to the future.” This blog post draws on participant observation at industrial agribusiness trade shows, specifically the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE). The IPPE is the largest trade show displaying domains (technology, service, innovation, supplies) related to the entire gamut of processing, feed manufacture, and the production of eggs, meat, poultry. Given the enormity of all there is to study, my efforts are mainly focused on the marketing materials around and promises of future feed that industry trade shows enroll. As such, this blog post focuses on a few developments in the arenas of ‘nature-based’ methods of industrial farming that target the industrial animal microbiome. (read more...)

The Memory of Fire: Burning Backwards into the Future

Fire breathes oxygen. Fire consumes organic material. Fire ages and dies. Fire runs, jumps, and simmers. Fire responds differentially to external irritants. Fire has moods. Among many of its seeming affinities with metabolizing life, fire also has an excellent, perhaps perfect, memory. As such, wildfires have one inviolable rule: never backtrack. Fire never goes backwards, never rewinds. Because of this stubborn refusal one of the most successful and widely practiced approaches to halting the progress of wildfires is to pre-burn swaths of land toward which a fire is raging. Once fire comes upon a burnt landscape it cannot proceed, it starves to death. When employed indirectly to create a control line, this strategy is called burnout. However, this strategy can also be employed to directly attack a fire by igniting a blaze and propelling it into the path of a wildfire. This is called backburning. Conclusively, you can fight fire with fire. (read more...)

Battery Life: Charging Culture at the End of Energy 

Vodka-tonic. Take my picture. Charge my phone. Vodka-tonic. Take my picture. Charge my phone.  This (or a similar sequence) is an irritatingly common refrain heard by many waitstaff at lower-tier upper-class Instagram-approved destination restaurants in New York City—presumably other variations proliferate throughout the world’s urban centers. While vodka and digital reproduction make fruitful grist for social critique, the focus of the following is on the request to infuse one’s portable appendage with fresh electricity. There are a number of intriguing aspects of this “charging culture,” from its role in the resource consumption chain (Parikka 2015), to infrastructural adaptations appearing in charging societies (Larkin 2013), to the implications of portable appliances on mobility studies (Schiller 2011), to the novel linguistic interactions engendered by electronic communications (Squires 2010). In concert with these developments, the following discusses the metabolism of charging culture—that is, the processes that are necessary for the maintenance of life. (read more...)