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Everything posted by Peterkin

  1. Viruses are interesting in that way. Genes are not: they make no effort, have no perceptible influence on anything except as they manifest in stand-alone organisms, such as viruses. They're components, rather than entities. They don't act at all. They just sit there, like mail, being carried from one organism to another. Dawkins is a bit too fond of metaphors.
  2. Fine. But genes can't get themselves replicated without reproductive agents. One has to wonder whether they even have an independent existence.
  3. A-yup! The evolutionary prize is to survive long enough to make offspring to carry your DNA and raise enough of them to reproductive age. Individual specimens don't count; only species do.
  4. Because evolution finds an ecological niche for every possible kind of life-form. That includes predators, parasites and pathogens. A huge amount of scope for eating other life-forms, and for developing aggression, greed and ways to satisfy both.
  5. I very much doubt the difference is quantifiable, but most people do use stance, gesture, facial expression and touch to communicate more meaning than their words carry. For people who are not very articulate or confident in their verbal skills, adding those extra dimensions can make the difference being understood and a failure to communicate. OTOH, those expressions and gestures can also be used to mislead and deceive and they can, with skillful interpretation also be used to glean more from one's declarations than one intends to reveal. Certainly, it's more difficult to maintain a relationship through words alone - though people who have managed it successfully.
  6. We put up a plywood barrier about for winter and take it down in summer.
  7. The biggest problem is not heat source, but construction method. If the building leaks, you have to keep pumping in more and more energy to make it liveable. Remember, too, that even in northerly climates, summer may soon pose its own challenges. The best solution is to build earth-sheltered homes that are insulated for constant temperature and need very little heating or cooling. Even a high berm is quite helpful. Next best is to improve existing insulation, with special attention to roof and windows. The electricity should be generated on site, by the most convenient technology: geothermal , which doubles as a heat source, wind turbine , solar , hydro , or any combination that suits local conditions. Create the optimal indoor conditions and provide a cheap source of power, heat pumps become a useful addition to the overall strategy.
  8. Why? Humans interfere with everything. No matter how well nature is working, humans want something better. Most cultivated varieties are hybrids - from seed, either sterile or throwbacks to one of the ancestors. If native species didn't breed true more often than they mutate or cross-breed, there wouldn't be any apples for people to mess around with. Whatever the characteristics of modern commercial apples, there had to be tree somewhere in the past that didn't go extinct for lack of another variety of its kind nearby. Yes, of course it is. Who did all the budding and grafting before Eve took that first fatal bite?
  9. Well, not quite. True, regulation is even more lax than for "organic" designation. But there are guidelines, issued by horticultural societies and some ministries of agriculture, regarding marketing claims. Mainly, it's about how long the varietal has remained unchanged. The definition and use of the word “heirloom” to describe plants is fiercely debated. One school of thought places an age or date point on the cultivars. For instance, one school says that for heirloom seeds, the cultivar must be more than 100 years old, but others say 50 years, and others prefer the date of 1945, which marks the end of World War II and roughly the beginning of widespread use of hybrid seeds by growers and seed companies. The odd thing is, that usually applies to annuals - vegetables and flowers. Sixty years in a line of cucumbers is 60 generations. For a tree fruit, it wouldn't be no more than two or three generations. Horticultural societies will insist on a certain number of generations, regardless. It takes three to five years just to find out whether a seedling bears fruit at all. Grafts are much faster and more reliable: the new sapling is not an offspring at all, but the same tree, indefinitely, colonizing another species' or varietal's roots.
  10. The commercial varietals won't; the native species do, and stand quite well on their own roots. The definition of 'heirloom' is somewhat nebulous. https://www.treesofantiquity.com/blogs/news/what-qualifies-as-an-heirloom-fruit-tree I know more about tomatoes and squashes than apples. Sorry if I mislead or confuse.
  11. That's why I said resemble. It will have some or most or possibly all the characteristics of the grafted parent, depending on where the pollen comes from. It's quite likely to be from an orchard, so it may end up a perfectly acceptable hybrid, or a feral tree, in which case the fruit will be smaller and less regular in shape, but probably the same coulour and similar texture and taste. In my region of Ontario, we have a lot of apple orchards and a very large number of feral trees along the roadside, in waste spaces, along grazing fields and two in my yard. Beekeepers bring their work-crews to the orchards, and the bees are generous with their favours, not fussy if some blossoms are outside the fence. Some of the ferals, on their own ancestral rootstock do very well for 20-25 years. The yield is generally less than cultivated trees, but usable.
  12. They're wild 'feral' - descendants of cultivated trees - and their fruit will resemble that of a parent that was grafted on, not the rootstock. If the graft was a hybrid, the offspring may be like either of the originals or sterile. The rootstock has no part in the reproductive process. No. Heirloom plants have been propagated through pollination by the same variety for generations. That doesn't mean they were not all grafted onto hardier rootstock: all that matters are the flowers, fruit and seed. No, they would have to breed true in order to be considered a varietal. Does what happen? Genetic deviation? Yes, in all species of plants and animals. But these mutations are uncommon, sometimes unnoticeable, sometimes detrimental, sometimes beneficial. Botanists look for the beneficial deviants and use them for pollinators, so as to improve a strain or create a new variant. Both would be grafted onto a hardy quince or other specially designed pome fruit tree. Peaches and plums would be grafted onto a suitable stone fruit tree. Yes, you can have several different species on one trunk.
  13. And they were mercilessly persecuted by the church. Just as radical anti-slavery parsons were ostracized by Protestant churches. Jesus might not have approved of storing up riches in this world, but Big Religion was not averse to it. How can you turn churches against wealth accumulation? Convert everyone to ascetic Hinduism.
  14. Yes, indeed: just look at the heaven we've made of this one planet. Except that "we" will not be anywhere at all by then, and neither will the Earth and whatever colonies it may have conquered in the meanwhile, because we're at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy and will be in the first encounter with Andromeda in something under 4 billion years.
  15. How justice is administered is never a question of determining the freedom of will: all justice systems act as if individuals were in control in their actions, just as all individuals experience our own actions as if they were autonomous. Really, whether we have or have not free will makes no difference. The administration of justice: its principles, its aims, its forms and application all depend on the society's view of mankind and how each member fits into a society. This sounds much too familiar. I guess we've been here before.
  16. Like savages? http://www.ajic.mb.ca/volumel/chapter2.html
  17. Prison sentences have very little to do with degree of culpability. They're a product of legislative decisions and the practice of law in a given society, which in turn are products of the culture and mood of the society. Justice systems as they exist today are all predicated on the presumption of free will: that an adult is responsible for all of his or her actions. More liberal-leaning systems allow for diminished capacity in certain conditions, or extenuating circumstances. The length of sentences don't always match the crime, let alone the freedom of the perpetrator's will. Scientifically, I don't see this as a subject that lends itself to investigation or experimentation - except possibly for developing enhanced interrogation methods.
  18. Unlikely, unless they were stored under museum vault conditions. However, if they were builder-carpenters, some of the old buildings in Nazareth village - which is a museum - may have original beams lifted in place by Joseph and his sons.
  19. If you have a religious faith, the next best consultant would be a spiritual advisor. Failing that, talking to wise elders (relative, mentor, family friend?) may be useful. If you have a spouse or significant other, they should certainly be made aware of your condition, and might be able to offer support. Consulting books or on-line sources of information may be a good idea, so long as you don't fall into some faddish regimen or self-medication. You could seek out support groups - live or on websites - with similar problems. Whatever you decide, it's better to share the burden with people you trust than trying to manage on your own.
  20. Yes, a single tree can become self-pollinating with grafted branches. It's something of a fad among nurseries now to graft four or five different kinds of fruit into a single tree. It should be done when the tree is quite young - 2-4 years is recommended. In late winter or early spring, when severe cold is over, but the leaves are not yet open.
  21. Well, they're usually capsules, rather than tablets. But the contents are simply listed as 'salmon oil' or 'fish oil' and sometimes 'wild salmon oil'. I can think of only one reason why farmed fish wouldn't contain the same metals and other water contaminants as wild ones: the farm is in a no-outflow area. You have no way of knowing where the ones in you supplement were grown. A small advantage of the wild ones is that they have a fairly wide range and might have less exposure. The safest option is to devise a balanced, healthy diet and not depend on supplements. (Cheapest, too!) The second safest optiopnn is to buy the vegetable-based supplement. For the ecology --- who knows?
  22. You can always read the teeny-tiny print on the side of the jar. The otc supplements are not strictly regulated as to sourcing and dosage; if you actually need it for an existing condition, get a doctor to prescribe the superior kind. In general, the best sources are supposed to be a variety of wild-caught fish: mackerel, tuna, anchovy, herring and cod. Salmon is the best known, but it's also the most intensively farmed fish, and there are several issues with fish farming . You can also find vegetarian sources, like walnuts, algae and flax seed. If you're taking vitamin A supplements, be careful of your dosage.
  23. Yes, pretty much. Also more subtle uses of an ability to calculate what is likely to happen, where and and how fast. E.g. the most agile monkeys pick fruit in the highest branches branches and throw it down to family and friends below. The ones who can best figure the trajectory of an airborne object would catch the most fruit. If a predator is approaching at speed, its eta and point of impact are very handy to anticipate and vacate. If ones troop, while fleeing such a predator, should be near a cliff edge, it's useful to calculate the last viable moment to veer off, and in which direction. The need for such an instinct goes well back into the dinosaur era.
  24. It's not reflex, but it is instinctive. When you slip or trip and are about to fall, you have very little time to decide what action to take: try to regain your balance, grab some solid support to stop the fall, or mitigate the damage by using arms or legs to absorb the shock or rolling to lessen the impact. In every situation, one of those actions is more likely to be effective than any of the others. The brain is able to make those very fast calculations through a few million of years of animal experience. It's similar with catching an object you drop. One response is appropriate for an egg, another is appropriate for a knife or a pudding or a baby. We're not aware of weighing possible dangers, the importance of saving the falling object and odds of success, but that's exactly what our brains are doing.
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