did someone muck with the backend here

Re: The beef with beef

1

You can only eat so much chicken or fish and pork has some religious issues for people. So beef is really the only universal meat. I mean, not for Hindus, but they eat enough dairy that I think my theory still holds.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:26 AM
horizontal rule
2

You can only eat so much chicken or fish

Do you mean that you get sick of it? Or that there not that big, so there' s not that much meat to eat?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:36 AM
horizontal rule
3

You get sick of it. Unless it's deep fried, but that's supposed to be a sometimes food.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:38 AM
horizontal rule
4

You can only eat so much chicken or fish and pork has some religious issues for people. So beef is really the only universal meat.

Lamb, surely.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:42 AM
horizontal rule
5

Lamb tastes too much like mutton.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
6

I feel that goat is being undervalued here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:44 AM
horizontal rule
7

I thought that stat always seemed hokey.

I'd also like to see a consistent assessment of water use across all foods. When I tried my hand at it, it seemed like it would come to large volumes for most goods, telling us merely that water suffuses everything.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:44 AM
horizontal rule
8

You can only eat so much chicken or fish

I volunteer to test this.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:45 AM
horizontal rule
9

I think the stat is hokey but I also don't trust the rebuttal linked in the OP. The amount of water a cow drinks isn't at all a reasonable basis for how much water is consumed by making a pound of meat. Nearly all beef cattle are fattened on grain, many hundreds of pounds of it, and the main use of water is in growing that grain.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
10

Anyway sustainable meat is certainly a real thing, but I would guess that the numbers work for current levels of meat consumption.

Off to get chicken tenders and fries.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
11

I suspect that the article is probably dishonest in several important ways. Click through to the homepage of this Quillette thing and what do we find?

Kevin Williamson, Jeffrey Goldberg, and Victimhood Culture
"The circumstances of The Atlantic's recent firing of columnist Kevin Williamson make clear that victimhood culture is rapidly spreading beyond university campuses...Williamson isn't the first columnist to be targeted in this way. Bari Weiss at the New York Times and Megan McArdle at the Washington Post have also faced the wrath of online social justice mobs..."

In Social Research Fields, Conservatives Are the Most Underrepresented Group
"There is general social agreement that discrimination on the basis of gender, sexuality or race is wrong - and that increasing diversity along these lines is good.
Ideological diversity? Not so much.
In fact, while noteworthy progress has been made since the 90s in terms of representation for women and ethnic or racial minority groups, the ideological underrepresentation problem is actually growing worse..."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
12

guess that the numbers don't work for current levels of meat consumption.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
13

Oh, and this killer one:

"Dr. Jordan Peterson claims left-wing radicals are corrupting legal teaching across the Western world. At first glance, these extraordinary claims about the teaching of law seem unlikely. Jurisprudence is generally considered a dry subject of study, and the relentless application of reason and logic are the hallmark of conventional legal scholars and argumentation.
But there are a few signs that Peterson may be right, and the significant influence of 'postmodern neo-Marxists' on the legal academy is undeniable and pernicious..."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:51 AM
horizontal rule
14

The evidence that anti-meat people hugely stretch the truth on the environmental impacts are pretty persuasive, but this piece starts stretching things itself at the end, with the appeals to the aesthetic appeal of non-intensively farmed landscapes (What is "Quillette" anyway? I'm guessing it also hosts paeans to non-brutalist architecture and non-modernist classical music, from the couple things I've seen). Also what the heck is this?

One of the biggest controversies (and misconceptions) about meat production is its contribution to global warming, which reached media prominence following the publication of the 2006 UN report entitled "Livestock's Long Shadow." This document made the shocking claim that livestock accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions globally, placing it ahead of the transport sector. Now, call me naive, but I thought the cause of global warming was our predilection for burning fossil fuels. Does it seem likely that farming - an activity that took place for thousands of years before the industrial revolution - is likely to be the problem?

This sounds like the "Are we so arrogant that we think we, puny humans, can change the mighty climate?" position of many religious people. Except he's already admitted that we can change the climate thanks to unsustainable modern technology, so... isn't farming also filled with unsustainable modern technology, and aren't we eating exponentially more meat than we did even 100 years ago, etc. etc? I think his head is in the sand regarding how the majority of farming is done.

Another anti-meat statistic is some variation on the claim that it takes 20kg of grain to produce a kilo of beef. This notion hangs on the false assumption that all farms raise animals in feedlots. In the UK, however, cows and sheep spend most of their life on grass. In winter, when the grass isn't growing, forage crops (such as beet tops) and agricultural waste (such as straw) are primarily used as winter feed. Grain is an infrequent addition and usually only for a few weeks for 'finishing' beef prior to slaughter. So, it turns out that the guilt-trip headline figure is only representative of the worst-case scenario - the confined feedlot system, an industrial farming approach that most UK consumers reject for a host of reasons unrelated to feed efficiency.

Industrial farming is the "worst-case scenario"? There are a lot of worst-case scenarios when it comes to the climate, and some of them look like they are happening despite being bad. I think UK consumers are in the minority worldwide in insisting on grass-fed beef, if indeed they do insist on grass-fed beef instead of viewing it as a luxury and a bourgeois affectation.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
15

Ha, the quotes in 11 are pretty terrible! Good thing I didn't go out on a limb with this thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:00 AM
horizontal rule
16

It's not so much that UK consumers insist on grass-fed beef for its superior quality or whatever, it's just that most UK beef is grass-fed. We have a damp, fertile island; grass grows fast and cheaply.

We do not, however, feed our cattle primarily on straw. Straw is a terrible animal feed. You can mix a bit of it into the feed, but not much. Silage and hay is what he's thinking of. His inability to tell the difference is significant.

Also his point about miscounting the water consumption is faulty. He points out that "Pimental included all of the rain that fell on the land on which the beef was reared, ignoring the fact that that rain would have fallen whether cattle were there or not" - that's not as bizarre as he seems to think. You need the water to make the grass grow that the cattle eat. If the cattle weren't there you could use the rain for other things by, for example, growing crops there.

14 is exactly right. Farming today is a mechanised activity that burns a lot of fossil fuels; not just to operate machinery and in transport but also for heating, for producing fertiliser, and as a byproduct.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:04 AM
horizontal rule
17

9: The article acknowledges that - it says that if we're moving to sustainability, meat and dairy needs to be a significant part, but doesn't I think defend the current system.

It does wax rhapsodic near the end about the wonders of millennia-old pastures in Britain, sort of papering over the whole enclosure thing.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:04 AM
horizontal rule
18

I admit it may have lured me with feigned expertise, but it raises a large number of interesting points, such as to be worth reading in full I think.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:07 AM
horizontal rule
19

17.2: that was fair enough, I thought. Enclosure wouldn't have stopped a pasture being a pasture. It just changed who was allowed to pasture animals on it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:12 AM
horizontal rule
20

I thought enclosure changed land that had been crop farms operated by peasants to large pastures. No?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
21

17.1: It does mention that, but when you start an article by condemning exaggerated figures for water use in beef growing and follow that up by making an estimate of water use in beef growing limited to "how much a cow drinks", you are not going to be any better than the people you are criticizing and may be much worse.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
22

20 is what I was taught. Because, assuming the land is fit for both, raising crops will produce more food and require more labor than raising animals, the enclosure created the surplus labor source that fueled the industrial revolution/massive urban poverty of early modern England.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
23

11,13- How much water is used in making the milkshakes the lovely duck drinks?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
24

22: in some places but not all. The earlier enclosures (16th/17th centuries) were arable to pasture, as well as open-field common arable to close private arable*; but the later ones, under the Inclosure Acts, were also about taking common pasture land and turning it into private pasture. And it's not just that pasture takes less manpower than tilling; a big enclosed arable field also takes less manpower than lots of tiny open arable fields.


*Which is land that is actually tilled. By Arabs.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
25

20: Probably both, now that I think of it, since some of the enclosed land was commons that anyone could come graze their livestock in.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
26

Also the distinction becomes slightly fuzzy because another innovation around the same time was crop rotation, which involved growing turnips for animal feed because (as should be very obvious from their appearance) turnips, being more or less spherical, are one of the few crops that can be easily rotated.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
27

Inclosure vs Enclosure. I'm really glad that wasn't on the test.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
28

I thought enclosure changed land that had been crop farms operated by peasants to large pastures. No?

The key event was the Black Death, which depopulated large areas that had been under cultivation, so that landowners switched to wool production so that their lands could remain profitable. It can be argued that this fed back into growing enthusiasm for enclosure, but the mass of enclosures took place in the 17th and 18th centuries and were mostly by agreement between the landowners and their larger and more prosperous tenants who had a shared interest in implementing the new agricultural technologies that were coming on stream. The people who lost out most were the tenants at the bottom of the pile who were mostly getting by on near subsistence horticulture, but might have a pig or even a cow on the common.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
29

might have a pig or even a cow on the common.

If you can't tell which it is, you were probably never going to make a success of farming even if the Inclosure Acts hadn't come along.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
30

Meat is murder!


Posted by: Morrissey ("Opinionated" would be redundant) | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:08 AM
horizontal rule
31

If you set up a slaughterhouse such that a babies, tied down so they couldn't crawl away, were situated immediately adjacent to the killing floor, then meat could be justified homicide.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
32

"Meat is murder" if and only if "prawns are people" and if you think that then I'd like to see you run into a burning building to save the contents of an aquarium.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
33

I think can make a distinction between types of animals. Prawns aren't even vertebrates. You might run into a burning building to save a dolphin.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
34

>>>In winter, when the grass isn't growing, forage crops (such as beet tops) and agricultural waste (such as straw) are primarily used as winter feed

Dood don't know what he's talking about here. Straw is inedible and there isn't near enough "agricultural waste" produced to keep the world's cattle population alive through the winter. They eat hay and grain. Alfalfa is the primary hay plant and uses a lot of water. Grass hay, when harvested from dry land doesn't use extra water but still has a large environmental footprint. Anyway, I wouldn't put much stock in the musings of someone who appears to just make shit up.


Posted by: lumpkin | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
35

You might run into a burning building to save a dolphin.

I would not. I've got history with dolphins. Let the bugger poach, I say.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
36

Maybe that's the wrong way to look at it. I've thrown a living lobster into boiling water, but would not hesitate to call the police if somebody did that to a living cow (assuming a very big pot).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
37

14. ... the appeals to the aesthetic appeal of non-intensively farmed landscapes

He also points out that intense vegetable (and grain) farming (plowed fields in general, really) replaces an ecosystem that contains "billions" of highly variegated life-forms with as close to a monoculture as the farmers can get it. Plowing releases CO2 into the atmosphere, whereas pasturing doesn't.

18. There are also some interesting comments(!) that add detail to his claims. (There are also some that are totally anti-meat, because animals are sentient. Fine, but that doesn't say anything about the relative ecological harm of pasturing versus plowing.)


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
38

Has no one pointed out that cows fart a lot and methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:37 AM
horizontal rule
39

Our neighbors used to raise beef cattle. The kids helped (for 4H projects) so some cows were named. One day at dinner a kid commented on the great taste of a hamburger and asked what store the meat came from. "Oh, that's Betsey," replied dad.


Posted by: abia | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:43 AM
horizontal rule
40

My mom said that when she was a kid they got a little duck and a little chick for Easter one year. They named them Quacky and Wacky. Apparently my grandma had heard all the warnings about how giving kids small birds for Easter was cruel because kids abandoned them, so she fed them to her family without telling the younger kids.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
41

26 is exactly wonderful.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:58 AM
horizontal rule
42

Mutatis mutandis for Ireland with the grass-fed beef, with the addition that a lot of our land is not really suited to tillage and we may even have a longer grass growing season than the neighbours.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 10:21 AM
horizontal rule
43

It truly is remarkable how enduring the Marx/Polanyi view of enclosures in 20 and 22 is, (including among people who should know better like lame US "historians of capitalism"), despite being known to be almost totally wrong for at least 20-30 years. Anyhow, current evidence is

- there were big gains in efficiency of 16th-18th C British farming, but none or near-none of those gains were caused by enclosures;

- instead, the traditional system was both pretty efficient, based around private ownership of land, and adaptive to change, so that the same guys doing traditional non-enclosed farming in traditional villages were the ones who saw the big gains, later consolidated by landlords who had larger estates (for farming, not pasture);

- there is little or no evidence for an increase in labor supply due to enclosures, and much of the move towards enclosure came from buying out already prosperous farmers, which meant, most importantly,

- wages for laborers in 17th-18thC England, far from being low and creating a particularly exploitable proletariat for capitalists to exploit, were extremely, world-beatingly high, higher than the rest of Europe or the rest of the world except for America (where wages were higher still, another story). Thus not the only reason, but probably the most inportant reason, why the industrial revolution happened in Britain was that the gains from investing capital in technology were higher because of the high cost of labor.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
44

I guess that should have been "Opinionated Robert Allen" but still.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 12:14 PM
horizontal rule
45

To be fair to me, I finished high school almost 30 years ago.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 12:15 PM
horizontal rule
46

Fuck. I'm really old.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
47

"Opinionated Robert Allen"


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 12:34 PM
horizontal rule
48

this oldie by Michael Pollan seems relevant.

Assuming No. 534 continues to eat 25 pounds of corn a day and reaches a weight of 1,250 pounds, he will have consumed in his lifetime roughly 284 gallons of oil. We have succeeded in industrializing the beef calf, transforming what was once a solar-powered ruminant into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine.

Posted by: Chetan Murthy | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 1:18 PM
horizontal rule
49

The circumstances of The Atlantic's recent firing of columnist Kevin Williamson make clear that victimhood culture is rapidly spreading beyond university campuses

It has gotten so bad, even rightwing hack writers are claiming to be victims when liberal publications won't hire them.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 3:04 PM
horizontal rule
50

Let's see if we can get CounterPunch to hire John Derbyshire.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 4:41 PM
horizontal rule
51

"prawns are people"

Too right! Got any cat food on you?


Posted by: Christopher Johnson | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 5:12 PM
horizontal rule
52

Thanks, I was trying to recall that reference.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 6:30 PM
horizontal rule
53

"Has no one pointed out that cows fart a lot and methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide?"

IIRC cows (and goats and sheep, also major methane producers) do not really fart at all. The methane is released through the mouth.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 11:43 PM
horizontal rule
54

Well that's all right then.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 12:23 AM
horizontal rule
55

43: I've never heard of any of this. I thought the Marx account was basically correct.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 1:30 AM
horizontal rule
56

Heifers don't fart.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 1:34 AM
horizontal rule
57

Heifers don't fart.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 1:34 AM
horizontal rule
58

You speak from experirence?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 2:55 AM
horizontal rule
59

The second time, after he went and checked.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 3:04 AM
horizontal rule
60

Extrapolating universally from the proposition that girls don't fart.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 3:09 AM
horizontal rule
61

Does the beef beef? Thatos the question.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 3:10 AM
horizontal rule
62

That is


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 3:10 AM
horizontal rule
63

55. Halford is correct in respect of the main enclosure movement, which didn't really get under way until the 17th century: Marx's account reverses cause and effect to some extent, because the main purpose of enclosure (part II) was to better exploit emergent technologies, rather than that enclosure permitted and encouraged the emergence of the technologies.

The original large scale move over to pasture, which Thomas More was complaining about in 1516 ("... your sheep that were wont to be so meek and tame, and so small eaters, now, as I heard say, be become so great devourers and so wild, that they eat up, and swallow down the very men themselves.") represents an earlier enclosure movement where landlords who wanted to convert their holdings to produce cash commodities jumped on the bandwagon of wool export- England's principal export commodity was wool from at least the 13th century until the 18th- initially, as I said in 28, in response to the depopulation caused by the plague and subsequently because it was incredibly fucking profitable.

The point is not that this wasn't a real issue in the latest middle ages, because More and others like him were intelligent observers and not making shit up, but what the real scale of the change (part I) was. I have no sources for this, but it can't have been as great as contemporaries thought, because there was still a huge amount of unenclosed land left for the taking in the 17th century and beyond. Presumably the role of pasture in early mediaeval agriculture was small enough that a significant increase didn't fundamentally change the overall picture.

In modern England there's a rough division between highland regions, which are largely given over to sheep pasture, and lowland regions which are under mixed farming, the animal component being mainly cattle, with some sheep as well. I don't know if the highland regions were under tillage in the early middle ages, but if they were they were probably pretty unproductive.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 4:31 AM
horizontal rule
64

63: Not disputing anything, I'm ignorant, just questions:

The major plague in England is 14th C, right? If Enclosure I was still happening in More's time, 16th C, how much of a driver was the plague actually? And if Enclosure II starts in the 17th C, was there actually a clear divide between the periods, or was there actually a steady-ish curve from the later Middle Ages on, and the Agricultural Revolution is largely a retrospective construct?

what the real scale of the change (part I) was. I have no sources for this, but it can't have been as great as contemporaries thought, because there was still a huge amount of unenclosed land left for the taking in the 17th century and beyond.
Is the quantity of land in question being held constant over time? When does Scottish (and Irish?) pasturage, and its wool exports, start to get added to the English total? Are some Part I enclosures subsequently divided, and re-enclosed later? Is some pasture switched from eg. horses to sheep, or from pasture back to tillage?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 5:20 AM
horizontal rule
65

I always heard that the Irish famine was largely welcomed by the English not just because they wanted the Irish dead on cultural/religious grounds, but also because they they wanted the land for grazing dairy cattle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 5:27 AM
horizontal rule
66

I thought they wanted it to grow wheat, and foxes.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 5:29 AM
horizontal rule
67

I never heard of Irish wheat. Just butter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 5:33 AM
horizontal rule
68

Or corn, or something. Grain of some description. Corn isn't grain. Something other than potatoes, Irish people, and cows, anyway.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 5:36 AM
horizontal rule
69

OT: I was supposed to commit peer review on a journal article, but I had five days until it was due, so I hadn't opened it yet. Just today, they emailed saying they already rejected it. Further proof that timeliness is a horrible idea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 5:39 AM
horizontal rule
70

I thought corn was grain.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 5:40 AM
horizontal rule
71

I don't know. I guess it is, just the seeds and seedpod are really big? I'll defer to Midwestern judgement.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 5:52 AM
horizontal rule
72

Those kernels are indeed the seeds. I've seen them plant it. Though to be fair, I've only seen them pour the seeds into the hopper on the planter. Maybe there's a trick that happens inside the planter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 5:57 AM
horizontal rule
73

The definition of grain is just seeds? Or is grasses? I would check, but I'm drunk.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:00 AM
horizontal rule
74

I think it involves being the seed of a grass. Despite appearances, corn is a grass. It started out a very small, grassy thing. The Maya made it bigger, then the Aztecs, then the Monsanto.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:02 AM
horizontal rule
75

74 is excellent. And of course is right. The accumulated blood sacrifice expertise of the Meso-Americans disguises the grass-nature.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:05 AM
horizontal rule
76

Teosinte looks an awful lot more like what we would ordinarily consider a grass.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:14 AM
horizontal rule
77

What does "ordinarily" mean? If I think about it, I've probably seen more land covered in corn than I have covered in any other other grass. I may have seen more blades of grass than stalks of corn. I've never really counted.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:18 AM
horizontal rule
78

Count a sample of the nearest lawn, then do your math thing. It shouldn't take long.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:21 AM
horizontal rule
79

Counting is not in Moby's skill-set. The only thing he can do is, if you give him two counts, divide one by the other, and possibly take the logarithm.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:25 AM
horizontal rule
80

That's what grad students are for.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
81

I really only use the natural log.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:31 AM
horizontal rule
82

If I think about it, I've probably seen more land covered in corn than I have covered in any other other grass.

For some reason I now feel terribly sorry for Moby.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:46 AM
horizontal rule
83

What does "ordinarily" mean?

In the sense that when you ask someone to name/draw a grass, most wouldn't name/draw corn. To my shame, I've forgotten what the term in semantics is for this is.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:48 AM
horizontal rule
84

Also, how to write English.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:48 AM
horizontal rule
85

Pictionary?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:48 AM
horizontal rule
86

Actually, that's true of me also. Those drives on vacation were really long.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:49 AM
horizontal rule
87

There's just a fuckton of corn. I suppose there's also a fuckton of pasture I've driven by, but I don't know how many different kinds of grass is in that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:50 AM
horizontal rule
88

I really only use the natural log.

Definitely not a grain.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:54 AM
horizontal rule
89

The major plague in England is 14th C, right? If Enclosure I was still happening in More's time, 16th C, how much of a driver was the plague actually? And if Enclosure II starts in the 17th C, was there actually a clear divide between the periods, or was there actually a steady-ish curve from the later Middle Ages on, and the Agricultural Revolution is largely a retrospective construct?

Mostly answer "yes", with the proviso that the late middle ages is not my period. I think the plague was the initiator, not the ongoing driver; that was people seeing how much money there was in it. Yes, there as a continuum but the earlier enclosures were definitely about pasture and the later ones weren't, or only incidentally. The question of the Agricultural Revolution is hard to answer. Yes there were significant technological changes in the early modern period, but you can assign any start or end date you like with equal validity. Plus there was other stuff going on like draining the wetlands from the early mid 17th century.

Which partly answers your point about quantities of land. Thousands of Dutch drainage engineers imported to do just that. Scottish figures don't start being added till 1707; the Scottish clearances were of course brutal, and largely for use change from tillage to pasture, but slightly different dynamics. Ireland was a test bed for a lot of economic theory, associated with dispossessing Catholic landowners in favour of Cromwellian veterans (google William Petty), so again, not directly comparable.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:55 AM
horizontal rule
90

But the non-Mesoamericanized grasses have much smaller stalks, so more per area.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:55 AM
horizontal rule
91

89: Thanks.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 6:59 AM
horizontal rule
92

90: They also tend to grow in clumps, so I don't know what the unit is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:03 AM
horizontal rule
93

Acre-tussocks.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:05 AM
horizontal rule
94

I'm surprised you didn't know that, honestly.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:05 AM
horizontal rule
95

89. There was a major bubonic plague in England in 1665. Some guy named Defoe wrote a book about it. (I think today we'd class it as a non-fiction novel; it was probably based on his uncle's diary.) A guy named Pepys wrote about it in his diary, too.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:12 AM
horizontal rule
96

"Tussocks" isn't really a word in common usage around me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:12 AM
horizontal rule
97

95: We're talking about events contemporaneous with some guy named More.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:19 AM
horizontal rule
98

And we're talking "major", dude. The buboes that killed 25 or 30 or 50 or 99% or whatever it was of filthy medieval people.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:22 AM
horizontal rule
99

Willem Dafoe is older than I thought.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:24 AM
horizontal rule
100

He ages like wine.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:25 AM
horizontal rule
101

Chris Y is totally right in 63 and 89 is totally right to my semi-informed knowledge.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
102

Sentence construction not so right


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
103

Thomas More was mid-16th century. The Black Death was mid-14th century. There were various other outbreaks of plague after the Black Death, including the last big one which was 1665, as in Defoe, "Journal of the Plague Year".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 8:10 AM
horizontal rule
104

I messed up and read "Journal of the Plaque Year." It was really dull, but it did make enough impression that I hardly ever neglect to floss.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 8:13 AM
horizontal rule
105

98 to 103. And how am I supposed to remember some obscure academic formalism like "The Black Death"?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 8:14 AM
horizontal rule
106

There were many plague outbreaks in England (and Europe) post-Black Death, until the last one in Marseille in 1720, which is what got Defoe to write about London, but none on the scale of the Black Death.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
107

After the spread of the 1340s strain of Y. pestis, it remained endemic in Europe until the early 18th century, but it went through periods of relative quiescence and periods of virulent outbreak. It never went away. There were major flare ups in 1563, 1593 and 1625 (by which time records were beginning to be a bit helpful). The 1665 outbreak is famous because it largely affected London, and because Pepys and Defoe. Nationwide it was trivial compared to the initial 1340s spread. 1665 may have killed a third of the population of London; the 1340s outbreak killed at least a third of the population of the country.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
108

If you like demography, plague, and early modern England, I'm guessing Paul Slack's The Impact of Plague in Tudor and Stuart England is still the book to read. Guess based on googling his name and seeing he's since written a very short introduction to plague.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
109

107: The 1665 outbreak also led to Newton going up to Woolsthorpe and doing a lot of his best work on calculus and gravitation.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
110

55 - I can say from experience that if you have very particular tastes and circumstances the page below offers endless opportunities to procrastinate from helping big companies fight about toys

https://pseudoerasmus.com/papers/

Also Robert Allen is a super stud


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
111

You can, if you want to become closely involved with squirrels and marmots, still catch the plague in the American southwest.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
112

There was also a suggestion that plague resistance is linked to HIV resistance https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-03/uol-bdw031005.php


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:21 AM
horizontal rule
113

I think it's more that marmots can't figure out how to inject heroin with their stubby little claws.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
114

Everyone knows the black death didn't reach Norway until 1349 because that's how the band 1349 got its name.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:27 AM
horizontal rule
115

Do they bridge the gap between black metal and death metal?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
116

They are black metal, but it feels like "plague metal" should be a subgenre.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:50 AM
horizontal rule
117

Plague and Metal: How the Norwegians Became Black.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
118

There are cases of plague all the time, it's just that most of them aren't in North America or Western Europe. It's trivially easy to treat if you catch it within 24 hours, so the real work is finding a doctor who recognises it. I'm not convinced my GP would have a clue unless I already had buboes- more likely to think it was flu and not give me ABs because she thinks it's viral


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
119

That's why you should always tell your doctor if you associate closely with marmots.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
120

there are plenty of good rhymes for Yersinia. And pestis.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
121

119: Does it count that my first wife called me a marmot?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
122

121 Pet name?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
123

122: Yes, probably shouldn't have shared that, but what would be left of Unfogged without impulsive oversharing?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 10:44 AM
horizontal rule
124

110 is great.

112. Not plague (bacteria rather than virus), and the suggestion that viral hemorragic fever is responsible for the relevant allele's frequency, though initially reasonable looking, disappears when there's better mapping: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4912034/

Marmot-borne diseases that have become human diseases are an area of widespread research interest. This proposal to identify selective signatures in preagricultural human populations of marmot "mochi twitch" disease....


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
125

This topic has got me interested in rats. The black rat, which spread the plague, is rattus rattus. But, excepting those of us who live in very warm areas, the rats are mostly brown rats, rattus norvegicus. So how come rattus rattus gets to get "rattus rattus" instead of "rattus induius" or something? Also, how come the brown rat got named after Norway when it's really from China?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
126

Also, "Rattus Rattus" and "Rattus Norvegicus" are both names of albums.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 12:37 PM
horizontal rule
127

Wikipedia reports that the black rat has been endemic to Britain for millennia but the brown rat only appeared in the 18th century, and British naturalists believed it had been introduced by Norwegian ships.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 12:41 PM
horizontal rule
128

I wondered if it was Swedes (e.g. Linneas) being assholes to their neighbors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 12:45 PM
horizontal rule
129

Rattus norvegicus has been used for toxicology for about 80 years. The strains used for laboratory research differ considerably from wild rats-- shorter lived, smaller brains and pituitary glands. Lines with an unusually high susceptibility to cancer show up all the time. Just how much more cancer-prone than wild-type the rats are in general is not known.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 12:55 PM
horizontal rule
130

You can, if you want to become closely involved with squirrels and marmots, still catch the plague in the American southwest.

It's more associated with prairie dogs, at least in the popular imagination, but yes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 1:32 PM
horizontal rule
131

Some people are freaks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 2:29 PM
horizontal rule
132

One thing i wonder about the stats on how much livestock/farming contribute to global warming, is do they net out the no-longer-extant contribution of methane from woolly mammoths, bison herds, etc.?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 2:43 PM
horizontal rule
133

132. Pretty sure yes, since biomass of commercial animals is much higher than likely past biomass of grazing animals. Estimating past populations is imprecise, but the comparison is between orders of magnitude.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomass_(ecology)


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 2:53 PM
horizontal rule
134

133: While you point is sound, and we can surely approximate from extant elephant populations, we will never truly know how epic mammoth farts were.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 3:28 PM
horizontal rule
135

This isn't exactly on point and I hesitate bc of the source but it was pretty striking.

https://xkcd.com/1338/


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 3:36 PM
horizontal rule
136

I'm so disappointed that wasn't a .wav of an elephant farting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 3:49 PM
horizontal rule
137

Like "Babar causes a hazmat team to be sent to Gare du Nord" farting.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 4:41 PM
horizontal rule
138

That was probably me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 4:42 PM
horizontal rule
139

135: Randall Munroe isn't particularly reliable as a source but Vaclav Smil is a legit expert on this sort of thing. His Energy in World History is quite good as a popular-ish introduction to the subject.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 10:32 PM
horizontal rule
140

133: why? I'd never actually considered this , but why should fenced pasture with cows support an order of magnitude more grazers than open grassland with bison? The primary production should be much the same...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 11:07 PM
horizontal rule
141

140: Absence of predation? Winter shelter? Winter feed? (Where does the feed come from though?) Conversion of woodland to pasture? (Not your question, but it gets you more grazers.)


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 11:57 PM
horizontal rule
142

141: all true, but maybe put it another way: if you have a square mile of grassland, it's going to produce a certain mass of grass per year, and presumably all that grass is going to be eaten by some sort of grazer, whether domesticated cows or wild bison. If the answer is "winter feed" then, as you say, that feed's being grown somewhere - somewhere that is now not pasture. Yes, winter shelter will mean more grazers survive the winter; but that's irrelevant.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 12:27 AM
horizontal rule
143

142: All true. But the mass of grass isn't the only thing. What proportion of grass mass becomes grazer mass? Less predation and winter shelter raise that proportion. Fenced managed pasture also won't have the same plant cover as open grassland. If your pasture is all grass (no shrubs) and has a grass mix optimized for grazers you'll get more grass and more conversion.
Winter feed isn't necessarily being grown on former grassland. It might be being grown on reclaimed land or irrigated desert or cleared forest.
And if the fenced pasture gets artificial fertilizer its grass production will rise drastically.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 1:29 AM
horizontal rule
144

139. How is Randall Munroe unreliable as a source? Curious if there's a place where his errors are documented.

His factual posts usually seem well-documented, and he's pretty good about admitting when he is WAGing it or winging it. But if Halford and teo are skeptical of him, I pay attention.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 4:53 AM
horizontal rule
145

Isn't a certain amount of grass going to go to waste and wouldn't that be a higher amount without human trapping the animals behind a fence and giving them water? Fenced-in cows eat grass that they would wander away from in search of greener grass if there wasn't barbed wire in the way. Also, probably not an issue in the green fields of England, but I wonder about drinking water. Most of the pasture in the American plains has to be provided with a well (actually). I'm sure a buffalo can go for longer without water than a domestic cow, but eventually they need water and if they couldn't get it, they're going somewhere else regardless of the grass left.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 4:55 AM
horizontal rule
146

Both absence od predation (consider suburban deer population) and more importantly fertilizer-grown animal feed.
Pastured cows are solar powered while corn-fed animals use a fair amount of coal via fertilizer.


Posted by: Lw | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 4:57 AM
horizontal rule
147

Churchill switched the British cow herd to oil in his time as First Dairy Lord.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 5:02 AM
horizontal rule
148

Right, but I was thinking even if you didn't corn feed them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 5:02 AM
horizontal rule
149

147: Heh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 5:03 AM
horizontal rule
150

On topic because Churchill: Downtown Columbus has luxury condos now?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 5:12 AM
horizontal rule
151

Off topic: Paul Ryan isn't running for reelection.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 6:04 AM
horizontal rule
152

Columbus is booming. If a state politician got a luxury condo in downtown Harrisburg, that would surprise me.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 6:33 AM
horizontal rule
153

I've never been to Harrisburg.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 6:33 AM
horizontal rule
154

144 - I think Randall Monroe is probably pretty reliable (certainly for a cartoonist). I certainly don't know otherwise. My hesitation in posting was that I often find the comic and his smug science-guy persona annoying, but that's my issue.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 6:35 AM
horizontal rule
155

It's a good cartoon, but it's no SMBC.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 6:36 AM
horizontal rule
156

150: Yes, luxury condos popping up all around me (where I work - the Arena District). It's puzzling -- not certain who can afford them, and why people who can afford them, would choose to live in Columbus, but someone thinks there's a market for them.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 6:42 AM
horizontal rule
157

Can you lame-duck it for ten months as Speaker of the House? Alternatively, can the Republicans agree on a replacement for Ryan that a majority of them like better than Ryan?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 6:42 AM
horizontal rule
158

156: That was a residential area when I first came to Columbus.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 6:43 AM
horizontal rule
159

A prison is a residence, right?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
160

I'll let you know.


Posted by: Opinionated Michael Cohen | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 6:59 AM
horizontal rule
161

159: Yes, but I believe it was unoccupied. Do you remember when Buck Rinehart decided on his own he was going to start demolishing it without the state's permission?

http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170801/look-back-day-mayor-took-wrecking-ball-to-ohio-penitentiary


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 7:06 AM
horizontal rule
162

That was before I got there. I remember when the wall started fall, because I used to take the bus down Neil Ave.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 7:11 AM
horizontal rule
163

I am curious what Munroe has been unreliable about; my impression is that he always does his research, when such research is possible. Admittedly a lot of his What Ifs involve bullshitting, but the amount of biomass of large terrestrial animals should be well known.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 7:32 AM
horizontal rule
164

What if he weighed them all right after the voided? He would be too light by many pounds per.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 7:36 AM
horizontal rule
165

I hope Ryan continues to follow Boehner's path and spends his retirement investing in legal pot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 7:39 AM
horizontal rule
166

lame-duck

I beleive that the main R legislative job is stonewalling investigation at this point. The tax cuts have made budgets a lot less important. If that's correct, then yes I think so.

This means that a D house after 2018 seems likely to many individual republicans, right?

So good news I think.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 8:32 AM
horizontal rule
167

This means that either Paul Ryan really likes his family or that inside information available to Republicans is even gloomier than the polls which have been released publicly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
168

You can use your own Bayesian priors to decide which seems more likely.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
169

My understanding was that if the polls stay pretty much like this, flipping the House is a sure thing, the only question is by how much. Flipping the Senate, on the other hand, is still a long shot. (Which is pure dumb luck for the Republicans, that they randomly have a really favorable set of seats up for reelection in what's going to be a terrible year for them.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 8:40 AM
horizontal rule
170

"If the polls stay pretty much like this" is a big bet on a the future and I assume Ryan has reasons for making it. Personally, I remain nervous.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 8:45 AM
horizontal rule
171

Flipping the Senate basically means holding everything (including West Virginia which went for Trump by like 87 points) and flipping Nevada (not bad) and Arizona (still iffy). Or lose one Senator and beat Ted Cruz in Texas, which would be awesome but even more of a stretch.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 8:47 AM
horizontal rule
172

West Virginia Republicans might help by nominating the guy who went to prison for running a coal mine poorly enough to kill miners in a way for which he was culpable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 8:49 AM
horizontal rule
173

170: Part of the calculation is assuming that after 2016, Dems will remain nervous.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 8:51 AM
horizontal rule
174

But Dems being nervous for tactical reasons makes me nervous. I want authentic nervousness.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 8:54 AM
horizontal rule
175

171 - looking at the Wikipedia page, it's worse than I remembered - 7 Dems running in R +N states, 7 more running in states that are even to D+3, 1 Republican in a D+N state (Heller, Nevada, D+1), Arizona is R+5, Texas is next at R+8. And then there's Menendez in New Jersey who could be vulnerable on grounds of outright bribery (is anyone even primarying him?)


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 8:58 AM
horizontal rule
176

142-145: In the west, a fair amount of pasture is irrigated, to sustain higher growth in the summer.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
177

In the Bob McDonnell bribery case, bribery was legalized, except small-time bribery involving physical bags of cash and politicians getting recorded winking and talking about lollipops. Therefore the Menendez case ended in a mistrial back in November, and although his poll ratings were pretty low back then, they are going back up and he has a double-digit lead against any conceivable opponent.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 9:47 AM
horizontal rule
178

175: The Senate will be tough, for sure. But what about the open seat in Tennessee? Pretty red, but the only poll I've seen has the Democrat (Bredesen, former governor) ahead. That lead is probably too big to be plausible, but at least it's a competitive race.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
179

"Unreliable" was overstated, I guess. I agree with 154 regarding Munroe and don't have any specific examples of him being an unreliable source.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-18 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
180

154 & 179. That's a relief.

155. I love SMBC, too. I even bought "Soonish," which is sort of SMBC with lots more words.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 04-12-18 5:41 AM
horizontal rule
181

"Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-18 5:43 AM
horizontal rule