Water out of fish

Water out of fish
by Joel Preston Smith (Sound Consumer magazine, 2012)

“Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.”
  — Comedian Steven Wright

There’s more than enough fish in the sea.

The oceans are dying.

Don’t worry.


The histrionic debate over whether fish stocks are healthy, or whether they’re on the verge of collapse, has consumers lost at sea. The two most prominent scientists in the controversy stand on opposite shores; Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington argues, in essence, we’re worrying needlessly. For the fishing industry, he’s… Read More »

Garbage mouth

Garbage mouth
by Joel Preston Smith

“Go outside and turn on your car. Don’t ask questions, just do it. Now walk away. You heard me, just leave it running. Set your watch for 30 minutes. When that time is up, you can turn off your car.

While no sane person would let their car idle for a half hour, it burns through the same amount of money we squander each day in wasted food ...”

  — Jonathan Bloom, in American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half Its Food (Da Capo Press: 2010)

It was the kind of question that rumbles around in your head, endlessly echoing until it shakes something loose. For Christy Porter, it… Read More »


by Joel Preston Smith

BioSteel® is a product created from an animal-animal transgenic combination. Scientists at Nexia Biotechnologies … isolated the gene for silk protein from a spider capable of spinning silk fibers—one of the strongest yet most resilient substances known—and inserted it in the genome of a goat’s egg prior to fertilization. When the transgenic female goats matured, they produced milk containing the protein from which spider silk is made. The fiber artificially created from this silk protein has several potentially valuable uses, such as making lightweight, strong, yet supple bulletproof vests.

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Biosolids hit the fan

From Sound Consumer magazine
(March 2012)

When Alice Cho Snyder and her husband Mark bought a 13-acre farm near Everett, Wash., last July, they thought they were going to be organic farmers, not the epicenter of a biosolids storm. Shortly after the Snyders closed on the property, Snohomish County officials notified the couple that biosolids were slated to be applied on 250 acres of land bordering their property.

“Biosolids” is a recycling industry term for sewage sludge that has been treated to remove most (or in some cases, nearly all) pathogens. After being somewhat defanged, biosolids are used as fertilizer or soil amendments.

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Off the hook

by Joel Preston Smith

The federal government recently acknowledged that salmon have a hard time swimming through concrete walls. It’s too late for the native sockeye salmon population on the Elwah River—they’re extinct—but the dozers are rolling, and the two tombs that for the past 99 years have buried 70 miles of wild river are finally coming down. Engineers recently resurrected the Elwha after a century-long sleep. On March 16, workers removed a final barrier around the Elwha Dam, allowing the river to flow in its native channel for the first time since 1912, when developers in northwest Washington decided the state needed… Read More »

They bombed my toilet

Excerpt from Night of a Thousand Stars and Other Portraits of Iraq (Nazraeli Press: 2006)

This and nothing else must have been the power of the magic mirrors that are so often mentioned in the treatises of the occult sciences and in anathemas of the Inquisitors: to force the God of Darkness to display himself and to join his image with the one the mirror reflects.
  — Italo Calvino, If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler

Two hundred furious men chant in the street outside the home of Imam Rabia Mohammed Habib Al Imir. Accounts vary, but at least five Iraqis died and eight more were wounded during a raid on the imam’s residence… Read More »

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