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Comment Re:and...eh? (Score 1) 469

The short answer is no. There is some speculation about the causes, but it probably wasn't because of CO2 changes, and certainly nothing like the anthropogenic CO2 loading that we see today. It also wasn't a global phenomenon, but localized to northern Europe. Our data for global climate that far back is very unevenly distributed, though: we know the most about northern Europe, and much less about the rest of the world.

Comment Re:You've never been to Canada, have you? (Score 4, Insightful) 469

I live in Canada. As you say, all of those areas are already highly productive. What I was referring to is new productivity as a result of climate change. Areas that might become warmer--and thus suitable for agriculture--are currently boreal forest. It would take decades of natural processes for that boreal forest soil to develop into anything that could support agriculture for more than a season or two. North of this is tundra, which might have a better soil profile, but doesn't have enough daylight for agriculture regardless of temperatures or precipitation.

Comment Re:and... (Score 2) 469

No. The point is that weather will get weird. As the global climate warms, weather patterns will break out of their normal negative-feedback-enforced cycles. Freakish temperature streaks, extreme precipitation, drought, and irregular winds will make agriculture much more difficult and unreliable everywhere. For a fun preview of what we're in for, check out the events of 1315-22 in Europe (hint: it's commonly called "The Great Famine").

The best part is that even if other regions (for example, Canada) have warmer weather, that doesn't mean agriculture will be sustainable there. The topsoil in that part of Canada is thin and highly acidic. You're not going to be growing corn and wheat there no matter what the weather patterns become.

Comment The power users are (were) the evangelists (Score 1) 798

Like a lot of /.ers, I'm the person my friends and family call when they have computer issues. I got tired of troubleshooting Windows (Another reinstall? There goes my Wednesday afternoon!) so a few years ago I started pushing people over to Ubuntu. After a quick sit-down and walk-through, people could pick it up, and the number of support calls I got started dropping off as things worked more reliably for grandma et al.

When Natty came out last April, I made sure everyone was still on "Ubuntu Classic" to avoid Unity, which was very clearly Not Ready for Prime Time. I crossed my fingers and hoped Canonical would clue in or make some incredible improvements to Unity by October. That didn't happen. Now people are clicking to update, finding their desktops have changed, and getting weird glitches, bugs, and crashes. The number of calls I've been getting in the last few weeks has skyrocketed.

Mark, when your power users leave you behind, they're going to bring their friends and families... aka your entire user base.

Comment Re:Nice.... (Score 1) 105

Mod parent up! The Black Death had no discernable target of rich or poor. It also spread differently in the past: back then it seems to have been airborne, and there are no reports (that's NONE) about mass die-off of rats like we saw in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The kicker is that diseases and their hosts co-evolve. We evolve immunities and tolerances, they evolve new tricks and less of a tendency to kill off their food supply (read: us). The DNA may be remarkably similar between the old and current versions, but that doesn't mean there aren't some key, albeit tiny, differences--just like between humans, chimpanzees, and bonobos.

Oh, and yes, IAAEH (I am an environmental historian).

Comment Re:Amsterdam did that (Score 1) 136

Hey, I'm not trying to tell anyone what they must or must not do. I'm just amazed that people will take on a reasonably high risk of being involved in a collision with a car while wearing no protection whatsoever, even for the single most important organ in their body.

I think smoking is stupid too, but I don't advocate criminalizing it.

Comment Re:HD resolution film doesn't mean it was shot as (Score 1) 267

However, just because film can resolve that much detail, doesn't mean the show was made with that in mind. In particular, it's likely they shot it for SD transmission and TV sets. Even a well-budgeted TV show like TNG would have had to allocate its budget wisely, and I doubt they would have wasted valuable money on (e.g.) set detailing that their audience would never see. It only had to look good in SD.

Now, if you watch the footage in high definition, chances are we may see that the set looks a little shoddy, with visible joins if you look closely. Picard's set makeup might look a bit "cakey" and obvious. And (as others mentioned) any illegible in-jokes on the button text could suddenly become readable.

I recently visited the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, and was amazed by how clunky and cheap most of the Star Trek and Star Wars props looked. In SD, I had never noticed. In HD, I think the tricorders are liable to look ridiculous.

That said, I wouldn't want them to change it. Once you start messing around with that stuff, you're tempted to go down George Lucas's path to the dark side, and I would really hate to see that happen to Star Trek, too. (Riker shot first, anyone?) Part of the beauty of these old shows and movies is in how they managed to create meaningful and engrossing worlds without high-end CGI, often on low budgets. Hiding that--let alone gussying it up--would be a sin.

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