The Soylent Vats are Coming

It’s a headline right out of a near-furture dystopian sci-fi novel:

Worlds Largest Vats for Growing No Kill Meat to be Built in US

Using the word “vats” makes it sound distinctly unappetizing. Like they are trying to make it sound bad, to make it dystopian. But, as a non-religious vegetarian I see this as a good thing.

I don’t miss meat, I don’t crave it but there are things that you can’t make without meat that it would be nice to eat again, fake meat only goes so far. If we can make meat without the cruelty, without the environmental damage and all the other objectionable things that factory farming methods of raising livestock for food cause… then I’m all for it. My Hindu friends may disagree but I don’t think there would be any issue for me to eat this, being vegetarian for ethical and not religious reasons.

The company building the vats, Good Meat [], has been selling it’s cultured chicken in Singapore since 2020. I have not tried it, as it has only been available at one restaurant. But I will try it when I can. The article also notes Good is building a new, bigger, reactor in Singapore to expand.

The quality of plant based meats has gotten so good in the past few years, with Beyond and Impossible that it will be interesting to see if cultured meat has a niche. Veggies or people looking for limit their “real meat” intake can use these plant based meats for burgers, sauces and much more, but you can’t make a stake, it only comes in a faux minced form. So maybe if Good Meat can make t-bones and fillets then they will have a market. We’ll see.

One day I’ll get around to trying the cultured meat. And according to the article, most of us will in our not to distant dystopian future where, I guess, only the rich will be able to afford real meat:

Most of the meat people eat in 2040 will not come from slaughtered animals [], according to a 2019 report from the consultancy Kearney that predicts 60% will be either grown in vats or replaced with plant-based alternatives.

Worlds Largest Vats for Growing No Kill Meat to be Built in US [] published by The Guardian.

One thing I do wonder is what this will lead to… If we can grow meats in a vat what types of vat-meat would there be a market for? Beef, chicken, pork for sure. Vat grown bacon will be a hit if it tastes like the “real” deal. Mutton and lamb? Or venison? What about fish and shellfish? Can they grow scallops and crab legs?

And how deep does the rabbit hole go? Can we grow things like whale and dolphin? More exotic? Bush meat? Gorillas and Chimpanzees? Rare and endangered species? And the ultimate: human meat?

I mean if no one is harmed (beyond a few cells taken from volunteers), what would be wrong with vat grown human meat? This will happen, people will go there and there will be controversy. But if there is no law against it there will be people who will do it. Volumes might be small, not many will demand to dine on humans, but that just means it will be expensive and exclusive. That is a truly dystopian thought, rich people sitting in exclusive restaurants, or even more exclusive closed door gatherings dining on vat gown human flesh. Maybe they will even pay to grow meat from specific people, celebrities. Soylent Green won’t be forced on the masses but indulged in by the rich. So no “Eat the rich”, the rich will eat the famous. Is it cannibalism?

quotes ranting

The Double Barrel Lock-and-Pop Maneuver

Continuing my long staining penchant for NSFW posts and making fun of science studying the sex lives of bugs [], I came across this post [] while catching up on Slashdot:

When a male cockroach wants to mate with a female cockroach very much, he will scoot his butt toward her, open his wings and offer her a homemade meal — sugars and fats squished out of his tergal gland. As the lovely lady nibbles, the male locks onto her with one penis while another penis delivers a sperm package. If everything goes smoothly, a roach’s romp can last around 90 minutes.

Cockroach Reproduction had taken a Strange Turn [] published by the New York Times

90 minutes? That would give pigs a run for their money []… though the “roach’s romp” might include more then just the climax. But it goes on:

[C]ockroach saliva is capable of rapidly breaking down complex sugars, like those found in the male’s courtship offering, and turning them into simple sugars, such as glucose. So when one of these glucose-averse females takes a bite of the male’s nuptial gift, it literally turns bitter in her mouth, and she bolts before he can complete the double barrel lock-and-pop maneuver.

I new a guy once in college who’s girlfriend would relate to these glucose adverse roach ladies. She once told the guy she would “rather he stab her and fuck the hole than have him cum in her mouth.” The lack of blowjobs in their sex life was the only thing he was unhappy about it their relationship. Needless to say that relationship did not last too much longer.


My Best Mobile Photos — 2018

Back in November [] I finished my original plan to make it though all my mobile photos up to 2017, when I started to really use Lightroom mobile for most of my on-the-phone photography. I said then that I would go on… It’s taken 6 months to get 2018 done. Partly just because the world has opened up again from COVID so there was more going on. But also because there just more photos, I took a lot of photos and videos in 2018 on my iPhone 8 Plus; both in the native app and in Lightroom mobile. I traveled a lot in 2018 is part of the reason – Tokyo three times (twice for work), lots of trips to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur for work, a trip to London for the summer holidays. Basically there were a lot of photos.

The photos taken with the iOS native app were all unseen, never posted before, like all the photos in the previous entries in this series (actually, that’s not strictly true, some were posted to Facebook but not public). The photos taken in the Lightroom app however, some of them were posted directly to my Flickr account. So it took a bit more work to make sure I was not double posting as there was not record in the Lightroom library if they were posted or not.

But I made it through them finally, and posted quite a number of photos, so here are a few I would call “my best” for having been taken with the mobile phone.

Lets start with Tokyo. I visited several times for work. I had high hopes that we would land the major project we were trying to win and I already had an agreement with my boss to move to Tokyo if we did. It’s still a dream of mine to live in Japan one day, and while I would prefer Kyoto to Tokyo beggars can’t be choosers… and in this case begging didn’t work out. We didn’t win and I didn’t get to move to Japan. I did take a few nice photos though.

On my first trip I was lucky enough to be there at the tail end of the Sakura Blossom season. It was amazing in Tokyo, wondering around and visiting the various spots to see Sakura. Asakusa was beautiful. And crowded:


But where are the Sakura? Ok, ok, ok, here you go. It’s not actually one of my best pictures, but it’s ok, and I do think we must have Sakura in this set.


I visited Japan again a few months later, staying further out in Futako Tamagawa, where I took this shot of the sunset:


And to contrast that I also took a nighttime shot from the top of the Tokyo Tower:


Ok, we are almost done with Japan. I know I’m obsessed. But this shot is from my Holiday with the family in December, taken at teamLab’s Borderless []. this room reminds me of one of Yayoi Kusama’s [] Infinity Mirror Rooms. The lamps slowly cycle through Green, red, orange, blue and purple:


Ok. Let talk about somewhere else. I took a very cool photo in London in June. At the Tate Modern, we were leaving just as the museum was closing after seeing the Picasso exhibit and I took this cool shot, the light and shadows were so strong that it was almost black and white, so I went ahead and made it black and white:


Here’s a random one from Singapore that I like. The fact that you can go the Lego store now and buy individual pieces is cool, but the container of Minifigure heads is a the best:


I also added to my “Looking Up at Lamps” photo collection on Flickr. Some where posted at the time in 2018 but I found a few during the cleanup process that were never posted. I picked two as part of the “best” collection. First this shot of a lamp in a pizza shop in Genting, Malaysia:


Second, this shot of a lamp in a Sushi restaurant in Singapore, with one of the bulbs out:


And I will leave you with this shot of a lotus growing in the pool at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore:


That’s it for 2018. Not sure when I will get to 2019… Probably the last post with many images in it till we get past the era of COVID.


Dysfunction in America

The outsize power wielded by the court in 2022 derives from a political system that struggles to strike compromises. Lining up a majority in the House, 60 votes in the Senate (to override a filibuster) and a presidential signature is too hard. It is easier for politicians to fundraise off controversy rather than solve problems. Time and again on the thorniest questions—carbon-dioxide emissions, gay marriage, guns, abortion—Congress has failed to reflect public opinion.

From How to save the Supreme Court [] published by The Economist, May 7th 2022

How could congress reflect public option? No one who is willing to compromise can get elected, anyone in congress who does compromise is likely to get voted out by rabid extremist voters or big-money donors; no one serves because it’s a duty, politics is a career these days, re-election, not conviction, is the point of every vote. So congress is impotent on any topic that might stir controversy. Delivering to you rabid extremists base that votes in primaries means all or nothing, usually nothing because the 50/50 national split means no one can overcome the filibuster so you can only deliver by subterfuge: stacking the court or governing via presidential decree.

Rather than actually debating, discussing and designing solutions to the problems that plague the US congress is busy with twiddle their thumb no action, all talk softball games like investigating UFOs [].

The system is broken. It’s supposed to be self healing but we seem to have broken that too. We found a way to incentivize our leaders to spend their time demonizing these that disagree with them and running for the extremes. We’ve made democracy in to a zero-sum game; all or nothing, I win you lose, my way or the highway. No more let’s find a solution we can all agree on, rising tides float all boats, compromise for progress.

I’d say it was time to have a top-to-bottom review of the system, some sort of new constitutional convention, or citizens committee, to review and clean up all the cruft that has built up in almost 250 years, to rebalance the system and find a way to make it work better… in fact this would be a great initiative for that upcoming anniversary. But we would just elect the same self-serving, all-or-nothing extremists blow hards and without a shared sense of purpose and people willing to discuss and compromise for the greater good the in-power party would just use the opportunity to fuck the world and get it’s pet desires all-or-nothing style.

Maybe a simple change like ranked choice voting would allow people to be elected who actually reflected the views of the majority or felt they could compromise. But it’s hard to imagine elected officials who know how to game the current system change the rules in any way that might disfavor them.

In short; I don’t see how the people and their elected representatives can fix the problem that plague the US government today, because the people and their elected representatives, are the problem.


Math Dreams

A few weeks ago I came across this graphic on social media sites and in messages a few times:’s Most Common Dreams by Country based on search volume.

I’m not sure I’ve ever had any of these dreams… at least not that I remember… Teeth falling out? What happened to being in school with no cloths on? Never had that dream either, but I thought that was the dream everyone had. Snakes I can understand, snakes are creepy, snake can be dangerous, lots of people are afraid of snakes. Makes sense that people living in South America and Southeast Asia are having dreams, or nightmares about very large snakes.

For myself, I rarely remember dreams more than a few minutes after waking up and even then they are broken and disjointed. I can’t piece them together. They sometimes includes people I know or have known, but things are always all kinds of fucked up. Funny that I remember that but not clearly what was fucked up. One period of my life including people who are anachronistic; walking through doors into unconnected buildings continents away. That kind of thing.

There is, however, one dream that has reoccured many times over the years, though it’s getting less and less as times goes on. I remember this dream, or at least the theme, the details are different each time but the basic story is the same and I aways wake up in a panic. And the disorientation can last a few minutes, sometimes I even have mini flashbacks to the dream in the first hour or so of the morning while I’m going about my morning routine.

The basic plot of my dream is that I have skipped or missed most of the lessons of a college math class and I am going to fail the exam, which I’m rushing to get to class to take because I forgot it was today because I usually skip class because I didn’t do the homework or studying because I skipped the previous class… and so on and so forth.

There is some logic to this dream. I was not strong in math coming out of high school and into college. And the first two years of college I goofed around, a lot. I was not studious, most of the classes I took were basic, general requirements that I didn’t need to put much effort into. And towards the end of my second year I got worse as I started to work more and more at the fish store till I eventually dropped out to work full time. I even audited a couple of classes my last semester, having to come up with good excuses for my teachers to get their permission. It was during that last full semester that I took calculus 1. I passed but didn’t score great. And I promptly forgot everything. I was more focused on fish and coral.

When I went back to school full time, after almost two years and transferring to George Mason to get out of my hometown. I had to start over on math. As an Computer Science major, I was in the engineering school and they had serious math class requirements. Based on my transcript I went directly into Calculus 2 my first semester at Mason. And it quickly became apparent that I knew nothing about calculus.

When I was at Mason I was determined to do well. From the start. And there were a lot of math to come so I had to get my shit in order. It was either audit Calculus 2 and go back to Calculus 1 the next semester or find some other way to dig my way out. Repeating Calc 1 the next semester was going to put me even further behind than I already was having transferred in. As it was I was going to have to take some summer classes to catch up to where I should be as a third year engineering student.

So… I went to the book shop and purchased the companion books to the text book. There were two book; one with worked solutions to all the problems in the textbook (I think it covered the first half of the book only, but given that that textbook —Calculus, 5th Edition by James Stewart, I still have it!— was used for Calc 1, Calc 2, Calc 3 and DiffEq 1 and DiffEq 2 the first half was enough to start with…) and one with extra problems, with solutions, for studying or practice.

I spent night after night over the rest of the semester sitting in the library working my way though every page and problem, starting with chapter 1. Working the examples, homework and extra problems out of the additional book. I made it through all the chapters covered in Calc 1 and then continued on with the chapters covered in Calc 2 until I finally caught up with my class just in time for end-of-semester exams. I passed, in fact I got a good grade, a B I think, somewhere I have my transcript.

I kept it up all the way through Calc 3 and in many other math classes beyond. I managed to keep all my grades up, I graduated with a GPA of 3.8 (transfer credits from my first couple of years don’t count in the official GPA thankfully).

I think it was this first semester of Mason, and how many hours I spent sitting, by myself, struggling to catch up on my math. Racing against the coming exam, that seared into my brain a panic of not being ready for my exam. My mind somehow combined that with the stress, and shame for auditing so many classes, from that last semester before I dropped out back in Charlottesville, too cook up this reoccurring dream —this nightmare— of not being ready, having skipped too many classes and unable to audit the class because it’s too late…

So other people are having nightmares about loosing their teeth or snakes while I awake in a panic about not being ready for my math exam.