literary dumpster diving
Last update
2022-07-04 01:40:16

    dont talk to me if you don’t know that this, recruits, is a 20-kilo ferrous slug. Feel the weight! Every five seconds, the main gun of an Everest-class dreadnought accelerates one to 1.3 percent of light speed! It impacts with the force of a 38-kiloton bomb! That is three times the yield of the city buster dropped on Hiroshima back on Earth. That means: Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son of a bitch in space. Now! Serviceman Burnside! What is Newton’s First Law?


    An object in motion stays in motion Sir!


    No credit for partial answers, maggot!


    Sir! Unless acted upon by an outside force, sir!


    Damn straight! I dare to assume you ignorant jackasses know that space is empty! Once you fire this hunk of metal, it keeps going till it hits something. That can be a ship. Or the planet behind that ship. It might go off into deep space and hit somebody else in ten thousand years! If you pull the trigger on this, you are ruining someones day, somewhere and sometime. That is why you check your damn targets! That is why you wait for the computer to give you a damn firing solution! That is why, Serviceman Chung, we do not “eyeball it!” This is a weapon of mass destruction! You are not a cowboy shooting from the hip!


    Cultural context is doing a lot of heavy lifting for this ambiguous sentence; but misreading it on the first go has ruined my life


    [image id: a doge meme, consisting of doge photoshopped onto a photo of detroit, with the top text reading "AH YES DETROIT" and the bottom text reading "WHAT A FINE PLACE TO HAVE SHIT IN" end id /]

    Blue Chicory and pollinators lost in the sauce.

    This garden wasn't planted—it was just protected from mowing.

    Blue Chicory is a weed non-native to the southeastern US, but naturalized there. When I consider non-native species, I ask, "What effect is this plant having on the local environment?" and "If this plant was removed, could I replace it with something more helpful?"

    I hope to displace some of the blue chicory with other native species eventually, but for now, bees, butterflies, moths, and wasps are going crazy over it, so here it will stay. And it's incredibly beautiful!


    I've been protecting a section of the yard from mowing and piling it with logs and large rocks all summer, in hopes of providing habitat for the garter snakes I found living there.

    I have yet to see the garter snakes again (they have plenty room to hide!!) but the amount of insects in that spot is crazy!! So many different types of bees and butterflies are going crazy all over the gorgeous blue chicory that's growing there. I even saw a big green dragonfly!

    Elsewhere in the yard today, I saw a hummingbird moth and a praying mantis!


    Learning about nature will save your life and give you a reason to live it.

    I've been outside all morning oohing and aahing over the bajillion types of insects that are now flourishing in our yard, and this is the happiest I've been in a long time. THE WORLD IS SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! EVERYTHING IS FULL OF MIRACLES!!!!!!!! WONDERS BEYOND IMAGINATION!!!

    I've been protecting a section of the yard from mowing and piling it with logs and large rocks all summer, in hopes of providing habitat for the garter snakes I found living there.

    I have yet to see the garter snakes again (they have plenty room to hide!!) but the amount of insects in that spot is crazy!! So many different types of bees and butterflies are going crazy all over the gorgeous blue chicory that's growing there. I even saw a big green dragonfly!

    Elsewhere in the yard today, I saw a hummingbird moth and a praying mantis!


    Looking at gardening and landscaping websites and peering into this realm where people say just. random things about trees as if forests or any natural context for trees have never existed and also biology doesn’t exist either


    Landscape contractor: So as we know there are five basic kinds of tree: shade, interesting, street, tall, and fruit

    Homeowner: yes, continue


    love how you can just say stuff and people will believe it


    How do I put this into words?

    So much information about growing things online is strictly speaking just misinformation, but it is coming from a perspective that is so terribly warped away from the real natural world and real life and living things that it can’t be anything else.

    Is this how a suburban homeowner relates to their surroundings? Property values??? Curb appeal??? How do you retain your sanity when you’re forced to see your world in a light that is so absolutely joyless and coercive?

    I beg of you, tell me, do you not contemplate? Do you not see yourself as belonging to a world where millions of processes carry on? Have you not tilted and examined your understanding of how you are related to other living things around you? Do you know what forests are? Do you imagine freedom? Are you restless? Do your bones burn within you, full of a secret knowledge that this way of life is not right or inevitable? Do you dream?


    Landscaping and gardening websites try to explain how to grow plants without teaching anything about the biology of plants or how they work, and they try to teach it to people who haven’t spent enough time observing the natural world (through no fault of their own).

    And they make planting trees sound so difficult and complicated, when it’s only that way because the readers don’t Get how trees work and how they function in a habitat


    When I was a kid our HOA told us we HAD to put at least one tree in our yard or we’d get a fine because our grass wasn’t pretty enough


    See I just don’t understand how people collectively accept the existence of HOAs. Who cares about the aesthetic appearance of another person’s house and yard. That’s mind-your-own-fucking-business 101.

    Imagine if there was a guild of people whose job was to just tell random strangers in the street that their clothes are ugly and they had actual power to punish you if you didn’t dress according to their liking. Well, crap, gotta get rid of my bumper sticker, the lady from the Cars Should Only Look Like I Want Them To Association doesn’t like it and she has to drive past me sometimes. Aw, damn, gotta take my dog to the groomer, the Society of Dog Aesthetics sent me a notice and if I take Fluffy out for a walk with an unmasculine haircut they might take the house.

    Yes, I know that people do want to police the choices and appearance of strangers, but those people need to have 17 live pelicans summoned into their home every time they have the audacity to say something


    This perspective is alarmingly strange to me, I’ll admit. As crazy as HOAs are, there’s something to be said for trees boosting property value.

    Personal anecdote: in the first house I lived in, our family had two giant oak trees that shaded the entire backyard, which was fantastic for my little toddler self to play outside without my parents needing to worry so much about me getting sunburn or heat exhaustion. Then when we sold the house, the next owners decided the trees were ugly and immediately chopped them both down, then tried to sell the house for TWICE the asking price my parents had had. (This was in 2003-2006, so before the housing crisis.) Unsurprisingly, they could only sell it to the local university for about half my parents’ price because NO ONE wanted it, and since then it’s been a rental property for visiting professors.

    So I guess the way I see it, if people are thinking about trees in terms of boosting property value and making money*, then at least they’re helping the environment by planting/preserving them.

    *There’s an implied “fuck the housing market” in here, to be clear


    I mean, if that’s what it takes for people to value trees, or keep trees on a property…


    HOA and all that nonsense aside, these are categories with a purpose. You don’t just stick a tree randomly in the ground, it has a role when part of a man made landscape.

    That’s the point here. The context is when choosing a tree for a certain role, and it’s one of several factors which must be considered.

    You don’t just plonk a tree down randomly when designing a park or garden. This is a space for human use.

    You don’t want to make a windbreak from trees which aren’t going to shelter you from wind. You don’t want a non deciduous tree causing a house to become too cold in winter. You don’t want a tree which drops too many leaves causing a path to become slippery, or one known to drop branches as a tree over roads.

    This is just a summary with suggested roles for different trees in mind. It’s there to help inform design decisions. If you choose the wrong tree, it will cause problems down the line.


    Bit of a longpost here, but I have an almost comically good example of “good tree in the wrong place.”  My town is a recognized Tree City, but here’s the thing: due to some truly incompetent planning, nearly 80% of our mature street trees were a single species (maple) as of 2015.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with maple trees–they’re reasonably good at enduring salt and pollution and they have beautiful autumn color, which is probably why they were chosen–but there are so many things wrong with planting all of these trees as they were planted.

    First, if you’re familiar with what Dutch elm disease did to the American elm trees in the early 20th century, it should be obvious that relying so heavily on any single species for your urban canopy is asking for trouble.  My town currently sees maple tar spot ripping through the trees every late summer-to-autumn because there are too many susceptible trees too close together to stop the spread of the fungus.  Tar spot isn’t fatal, but it isn’t exactly pretty, and by the time autumn rolls around it affects almost every leaf of every tree…which rather defeats the purpose of choosing trees for autumn aesthetics.

    Second, many of these fairly tall-growing maple trees were planted under utility lines, which means the poor things had to be heavily mutilated in order to keep them from interfering with those lines.  Some were pruned of as much as three-quarters of their natural canopy, which is just horrific to see for anyone who actually takes the time to look at the trees they’re walking under.  This, too, does not do much for aesthetic appeal.

    And third–the icing on the cake!–maple trees have relatively shallow root systems, which means that they are prone to shift or even destroy pavement/sidewalks with their roots, which is a real problem for everyone but especially for people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.  I am fortunate enough to have full use of my legs, but a wheelchair or a walker or a pram/baby carriage simply would not be able to traverse the paths that have been ruined.

    Basically, the people who were in charge of street planting decades ago chose trees solely because they ~Looked Pretty~ as individual specimens in ideal conditions.  They chose these trees without even considering the actual site where they were to be planted or the obvious negative effects of planting what amounts to a monoculture. Most of these trees were mass planted around the same time, too, so it’s likely that they’re all going to reach the end of their lifespans around the same time.  Which, obviously, would leave us with a severely depleted urban canopy.

    But there is hope for us yet!  Many of the unhealthiest maple trees are being removed, and greater care is being taken in the selection of their replacements.  Current recommendations are that a single species should never make up more than 10% of any urban canopy, so new maple plantings are pretty much banned here.  We’re selecting first and foremost for deep root systems and suitable height so we don’t have to worry about the pavement/sidewalks or mutilate trees planted under utility lines.  Resistance to disease and insect damage is another top consideration.  And while we are certainly looking at aesthetics and shading ability, we’re also taking into account wildlife value, which hasn’t been discussed much above but is (or should be) an important consideration.  Recent plantings on my own street include sycamores, various oaks, disease-resistant varieties of crabapple and serviceberry, and we are hopefully going to see some disease-resistant hawthornes planted in the coming years if all goes to plan.  It’s gradually developing into a much more diverse urban canopy; one that is not just beautiful, but also healthy, functional, and welcoming to all of the birds and animals and insects that should rightfully live alongside us.