Sep 21, 2020 3:44 PM
A dragon explores space, finds Amenta.
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The dominant theories among our thinkers are effective use of magic requiring intelligence, and intelligent design.

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"Any candidates for a designer?" he asks as a van rolls up and a purple starts unloading candles and perfume.

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Only old stories. And most of the evidence is out of reach.

She cranes her neck and sniffs in the direction of the van.

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The candles smell a little through their packages; the perfumes, in bottles, mostly don't, but the purple can show her how they spritz.

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She and Bloom will thank the purples, liberally spritz around some of the strongest smelling ones and light a few candles with soft flickers of breath, and shuffle all the student Draak back to sleep. The rest of the night passes without incident.

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In the morning, while all her students play with pocket everythings or question Amentans about this or that or sleep in, Bloom writes another chapter of her memoir (What The Time I Nearly Drowned Was Like) and checks if tree877 has written anything recently.

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tree877 has been silent since mid last week.

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That doesn't seem like an unreasonably long silence. Any new stories or chapters from them that she hasn't seen yet, though?

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Sure, there were a bunch of updates while she was offplanet!

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She reads those and sends pleased friendly commentary before gathering her students up for more lessons!

Vines has his appointment with the food science lab later, and is more advanced than the others so Bloom is fine with dismissing him to go talk about the gristle berry with them.

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He is met by a green and invited inside!

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I am happy to be here! I suppose I'm representing the Growers Moot. We want to replace factory farms. They are simply horrible to us! So I brought a prototype, a product of the work so far, the fruits of it safe and edible - for Draak - and I want to see what you think of it. I want to learn what it would take to do that, from Amentan perspectives.

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"I've been reading up on that! I think there's almost no chance of a smooth switch to plant meat for all purposes unless you can replicate not just meat in general but the specific cuts and flavors people are accustomed to. People don't want to just never have a steak again. But no matter what you do the transition will take time, so depending on what's easy to roll out first you might be able to cut demand a lot with things that replicate the nutrition profile but taste different or have different textures. I think in particular you could replace animal food for pets and zoo animals and farmed fish pretty early, and then get something with a good flavor for generic broth products, and then get something with a good enough texture to be interesting as a dish in its own right and have some replacement effect, and then get closer to traditional Amentan meals."

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Draak love specific cuts and textures too. I like livers. Someone is trying to make a bush grow rabbit hearts! Once there is a body of work on how-to-grow-meat at all a huge variety of cuts and flavors won't be much trouble. It's just probably going to take a lot of refining and the whole pollution fracas will make rapid iteration annoyingly hard.

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"Uh, hearts in particular aren't very popular. I can probably get you a usage breakdown so you can get things that'll displace lots of meals before things that'll get you the last five vanity farms that sell rabbit hearts. ...how is pollution interacting with this?"

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Zoos, apiaries, some kinds of fish and mollusk farms, and niche farms that, like, expose the animals to the sun and live plants sometimes would be fine. Not great, but not worth going through all this over.

When we make a new version apparently we will have to let you grow it from seed? If the flavor or texture is slightly incorrect, if the nutrition is off, another iteration means a delay for a whole new plant to grow, even if magic can speed that part up somehow.

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"You could also just do your inventing in clean conditions if you can guarantee those to an inspection..."

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Your meaning of 'clean' seems overly paranoid to Draak and is a big political mess back home. Are we going to mandate everyone who wants to work on the meat-plants use the radiation machine and take the five-hour showers? That will infuriate a lot of people, including some of the brightest flames. Are we going to split the Growers Moot into two camps, one willing to do this and the other not? Apparently there are strong reasons not to want a split. Is delaying the final result and the end of a quiet tragedy by working around this conflict better than acquiescing in one direction or another? Well, the work is not yet at the point where rapid iteration is possible and helpful, so they chase the sun away and leave the problem to be considered another day.

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"Well. We can wash seeds. If that's easier. It's not as though we're the ones in a hurry."

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I think you all are being unreasonable in several ways, but complaining about that isn't likely to accomplish anything, is it? And I have here some seeds, and within my mind as much knowledge about them as I could reasonably hold, though I am more like an 'undergraduate' than a 'professor', in terms you would be familiar with.

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"That's fine. Do you have questions for us?"

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Lots. About how agriculture works, about how food labs work, about how new foods get adopted and spread, about nutritional science... Easily hours worth.

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The green will happily answer these. And he wants to take a selfie with Vines.

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Eh, sure, just don't touch the feathers.

They're going to grow these, right? They're not even super great at growing, they need specific triggers and a fair bit of care. Partly because nobody wanted to create an invasive weed.

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"Isn't there some way to make them default seedless? A lot of our fruit cultvars are seedless, so they can't escape and we don't have to eat around seeds."

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