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Comment: Re:Dwindling airable land? (Score 1) 134 134

Maybe today we could back off and turn the whole market wide open again.

Back in the early 1900s, there wasn't enough freedom of information for even the smartest people to make good choices for what to grow in the coming season. The boom and bust cycles did happen, spectacularly, along with other interesting "discoveries" like the Dust Bowl. The government controls were instated and they have been working to maintain stability of food supply for the country. Maybe there's enough freedom of information, scientific weather forecasting, knowledge of pests and disease, etc. to get rid of those controls, maybe not... I don't think many politicians are ready to rock the boat in the name of an ideology, so we're not likely to find out anytime soon if Libertarianism would work in the modern farming markets.

Comment: Re:Dwindling airable land? (Score 1) 134 134

As a control systems engineer, I believe the market should be free to choose its direction, but not its rates of change.

If gasoline makers want to raise prices, they should be allowed to do that at their discretion, but, if they feel that they need to raise prices too quickly (more than 1% per day?) then there should be something in-place to penalize that - perhaps an increase in profits taxing for the coming 2 years? Prices need to rise 50% in 2 weeks, sure, go ahead and do that, but if you end up making an (accidental) increased profit as a result of your "over limit" price increase, you can pay back all of that profit increase and a penalty in taxes. Price gouging on cornerstone commodities isn't good for anyone but shareholders in the commodities sellers who are doing the gouging.

Same thing could apply in the farming markets, allow people to make choices, encourage them to invest and improve, but discourage rapid changes that could lead to a "farming crash." If people want to grow more corn this year, fine - sign up to grow corn. When corn growing is up by more than 10 or 20% (or whatever makes sense), put on some kind of damper to make other choices more attractive.

We all have "free will," the right to travel, assemble, etc., but if we all decide to go to Rhode Island on the same day, it's going to cause a problem or two. In the case of physical presence, the physical world has effective controls - limited rooms for rent, limited seats on flights, limited number of cars that can physically fit in the state, etc. People would back off and turn around before it got really bad like running out of food and water / sewage in the streets kind of bad. Unfortunately, economic games don't have this kind of feedback, so we get some pretty spectacular crashes, even with "good government meddling" to smooth out the worst of the shocks - especially with "bad government meddling" (i.e. 2005-2008 real estate market.)

Comment: Re:lettice under LED grow lights? (Score 1) 134 134

> the same sort of clean-room gear people working in chip fabs wear.

Yeah, that's gotta be more efficient than overalls and a flannel shirt, riding a tractor in a field...

People who think we're running out of farmland need to go to Nebraska, any part really, but Western Nebraska in particular. Just look at Google Earth to see what I mean.

I think people believe that plants just grow themselves, and they do, but there are so many things that can and do need attention in any kind of farming, that's the true cost of the food: the services of the farmer and the people who manufacture and maintain the farming equipment.

Comment: Re:pardon my french, but "duh" (Score 1) 123 123

Cognitive impairment, in this case, can be a state of mind. The "I never used those things and I have no desire to learn now" state, in particular.

You might also factor in the "Yes, I can type, but do you know what arthritic finger and wrist joints actually feel like (you insensitive little f-er!)" factor, along with failing vision, hearing, and a general lack of experience with the read-type-read mode of conversation.

You know, 70 years from now, they'll be sitting in old folks homes trying to get the codgers off their texting pads and talking to people in the room, for a change, and those old coots will be just as stubborn and self-injurious as old people today.

Comment: Re:Dwindling airable land? (Score 2) 134 134

I think what the Libertarians fail to realize is that farmers, as a general rule, are not smart enough to diversify or maintain course. The nature of the business has been encouraging specialization, and since everyone is out to maximize profits, that leads to overproduction of last year's overpriced crops, which become next year's glut production which don't sell for enough to pay the loans, so you get a bunch of banks owning farms and equipment. It's not healthy, and the next generation of farmers that step up at auction to try their hand have never been any better than the previous at predicting and dealing with market swings.

It would be really cool if we could run "sim-Earth" with pure philosophies and see what happens. Life being what it is, if any single philosophy from today became widely adopted and "took over the world" without adapting itself, the world would quickly spin out of control. What makes the world we have work as well as it does is the opposing forces of a variety of philosophies, none of which are suited to operating in total control.

Comment: Re:lettice under LED grow lights? (Score 1) 134 134

You know, a big part of the appeal of "indoor farming" is that there aren't (m)any bugs inside. But, if you start growing massive amounts of foliage inside the building, sooner or later you will also be dealing with insect infestation(s).

Comment: Re:So does this qualify as 'organic'? (Score 1) 134 134

So, I'm all for grow local, but when there's sun shining right outside - this doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me... unless you are a company that sells grow lights.

For anyone who has access to actual solar radiation, seems like hydroponic with a glass roof would be a better way to go - less carbon emissions (loading on the power grid), less equipment to manufacture, maintain and ultimately dispose of: how many pounds of electronics and plastics per pound of Basil grown? Sure, these systems could last for 20 years, but will they in real life, or will they be used like an annual gym membership?

Comment: Re:ESA science (Score 1) 64 64

James Webb and Hubble wouldn't have happened without some pretty heavy lift.

If you can be a Space Cowboy, you can do a lot of other things, if you're focused on shoestring science, that's all you're going to get.

We need both, scrapping the Cowboys because you can get 10x as many shoestrings for the same price is missing the point. Politically, you won't get 10 shoestrings in exchange for shutting down a Cowboy project, you'll be lucky to get 2.

Comment: Re:No I didn't try one (Score 1) 290 290

This... regardless of whether you stand or sit at your "workstation" - leave the damn thing once in awhile - every 30 minutes or so if possible, but under no circumstances should you be there for more than 2 hours non-stop. Even if there's no reason to, get up and take a walk - 5 minutes or even less, it's the lack of motion that's killing desk jockeys.

Comment: Re:There are ideas. Here's one. (Score 1) 229 229

Idiot, yes. Blowhard, yes. Wrong about Moore's Law being an infinite exponential and not an S-Curve, yes.

Also right about how surprisingly quickly some things can come to pass. Looking at human history from 5000 years ago until 250 years ago, the progress of the last 100 years would have been unimaginable. Literally, stories like Jules Verne didn't start to appear until things like steam engines were running around.

When self improving AI does emerge, some things could be changing very rapidly - Hollywood movie overnight kind of rapidly. Or we might just plod along for another 5000 years making incremental improvements and minor discoveries.

We were so poor that we thought new clothes meant someone had died.