Geoff Hart

Geoff Hart

  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    Allen Thomson wondered: "Given that our present genes and higher-order systems are the result of mindless selection operating over gigayears that finally got to a mess that somewhat works..." One quibble: Yes, evolution is "mindless" in the sense that it...
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    Heteromeles raises some important points. Implicit in these points, therefore worth making explicit, is that ecology has its own equivalents of "The Cold Equations". First, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Everything has costs, and the piper must...
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    Heteromeles (860) reported the problem with irrigation: that as long as evaporation and plant transpiration exceed inputs of water, there's a high risk of net movement of salts into the rooting zone. The only solution is using tons of water...
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    bevans1 wondered: "What I'm asking is if we have an immediate drop of economic activity and population of, say fifty percent in the next five years, will that change our destiny? I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed,...
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    A note re. trains vs. trucks: Yes, trains are vastly more efficient than trucks, but they suffer from a significant problem: unless you're writing a story set in China Mieville's "Railsea" world*, the system of tracks isn't pervasive or omnipresent....
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    Graydon noted: "The scary, scary thing about current inputs is that a)we now have a good reason to believe we've doubled the Milankovitch swing (180-280 ppm..." That is, the CO2 increase since pre-industrial revolution times is about twice the increase...
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    Julian Bond noted that “If the resource constraints don't get you the Wankers will!” And the Wankers cause surprising resource constraints, including massive deforestation. Warning: link not for those of a sensitive disposition: https://tinyurl.com/lutaclk MirrorField noted “I do think at...
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    Heteromeles: no offence taken. Metaphors aren't objectively correct entitities, and tastes in metaphor vary. Works for me, but not for you. I'm OK with that. Jumping topics: In terms of future family structures, I'd have to say I don't foresee...
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    Heteromeles noted: "There are a bunch of big problems with this idea: religions are not species or even populations, they're clusters of ideas and identifiers. They also don't "evolve" even as bacteria do, primarily because people talk to teach other...
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    Daniel Duffy noted: "Demographics aren't the worst of China's problems. In their rush to industrialize they have turned China into a toxic cesspool." I'm also unconvinced that demographics are a major problem for China. On the contrary, they have a...
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    Heteromeles noted: "Now, if you want to really dive into the weed, the other problem with growing huge amounts of algae for biofuels is that they take huge amounts of nutrients other than carbon. I believe there's a calculation out...
  • Commented on 2117 revisited
    End of a lonnnng day. Apologies in advance for any infelicities. A note about Hindi: Most of my Indian friends (particularly those in southern India) pointed out that English is the lingua franca [sic] in India because everyone who isn't...
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    Robert Prior noted: "According to a Canadian paramedic I know, they often call motorbike riders "organ donors" because they have young, healthy, bodies after the fatal accident. Grim humour, but kidding on the square." More Canadian anecdata: Heard exactly the...
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    "Say hello to the new Monopoly piece for the Brexit edition": https://twitter.com/brexitannia2017/status/843033171226742785...
  • Commented on The internet of decay
    While we're on the subject of programming languages, thought I'd pass along a quip from a programmer friend who once grappled with APL: "APL, the world's first read-only programming language, is an initialsm for 'APL Programming Language' -- it's a...
  • Commented on The internet of decay
    Re. "Smart" devices that won't run without internet access, thereby introducing great gaping security holes in one's home network. I foresee a not-too-distant day when some clever hacker or group of hackers creates a dongle that fakes out the smart...
  • Commented on The internet of decay
    dpb reported: "A doctor friend of mine keeps telling me that death is actually one of the harder things to diagnose. I find that a a bit concerning really." Your friend was exaggerating. Like disease, there are different types and...
  • Commented on The internet of decay
    Software security is not a new issue; I published my first article warning people how to protect themselves from viruses and trojans nearly 30 years ago, and I wasn't remotely the first person writing about this. Breaches of password databases...
  • Commented on The End of the British nuclear deterrent?
    "Free trade" is a bit of a myth. Great idea in principle if you don't care what happens to domestic industries that will be crushed by bigger foreign competitors, but in practice, the country with the bigger and nastier lawyers...
  • Commented on The End of the British nuclear deterrent?
    Hypothesis 3: What seem to be signs of encroaching dementia turn out to be real, and Trump doesn't really have any considered agenda beyond pushing stuff off his desk as fast as he can to leave more time for Twitter....
  • Commented on I can't keep up
    SFreader exclaimed: "Oh crap! Are you serious ... China and Russia trading? Better not be coal!" Indeed, there's a huge initiative afoot to establish a high-capacity railway system between China and Europe via Russia: the "one belt, one road" initiative...
  • Commented on Placeholder? Placeholder!
    Antiquercus wondered: "I understand the 'pat-downs' are quite gropey." Not in my experience. The staff have been remarkably professional and have not touched anything too sensitive. (Presumably because nobody's figured out how to smuggle a handgun or stiletto in their...
  • Commented on Placeholder? Placeholder!
    Glad to hear you made it home safely. fwiw, the Canadian government is working to pass a bill that will allow the U.S. border folks to detain me without right of appeal on Canadian soil; this will replace the current...
  • Commented on A Surfeit of Emeralds: Healthcare in the Middle Ages
    Graham noted: "Geoff, you do have to be very careful about herbals being "known to be effective". Yes, to be clear, I was not in any way implying that all or even a majority of herbal remedies were effective. Just...
  • Commented on A Surfeit of Emeralds: Healthcare in the Middle Ages
    Heteromeles noted that "[a native healer he met] knew [about [about the variation in plants] and exploited it. With white sage, for instance, she had over 400 different collecting sites (possibly individual plants) across southern California and Baja, based on...
  • Commented on A Surfeit of Emeralds: Healthcare in the Middle Ages
    SFreader noted: "There's also Roger Bacon (13th century) - English Franciscan, philosopher, scientist and scholar famous for challenging blind acceptance of widely accepted writings including Aristotle's." Possibly one of the most important points promoted by Bacon and his colleagues was...
  • Commented on A Surfeit of Emeralds: Healthcare in the Middle Ages
    Two quibbles that in no way detract from the value of what you've written. First, all of this depends on the historical period and region (e.g., compare Christian Europe vs. Moorish Spain). Second, in any population of professionals, a majority...
  • Commented on Some notes on the worst-case scenario
    Not to flog a dead horse, but this link provides more convenient access to the Trump parody videos: http://www.boredpanda.com/world-troll-donald-trump-america-first-spoof-videos/...
  • Commented on Some notes on the worst-case scenario
    If you want some laughter amidst your tears, try this: http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/02/donald-trump-every-second-counts-parody-videos-greg-shapiro-shaun-streeter Loved the German one; will make time for the others during the day whenever I need a break. Also, if it’s America First, we might as well all strive...
  • Commented on Some notes on the worst-case scenario
    Daniel Duffy noted: "The earthquakes are a problem if brine disposal injection wells are poorly site or left unregulated (as in Oklahoma)." And that's precisely the problem. First, underground rock is horrifically complex, particularly for stuff like shales, which are...
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