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It's three years since audiences around the world swarmed into cinemas to see James Cameron's Avatar. It rapidly became the biggest grossing film of all time, in part because of its ground-breaking digital 3D technology.

But, in retrospect, Avatar now seems the high-point of 3D movie-making, with little since 2009 to challenge its achievement. Three years on, has the appeal of 3D gone flat?



It's gonna be a long time until I get a 3D anything at home, but I can't help but think that these 3D critics are just being fuddy duddys. If 3D failed before, and even now, it was/will be because of inconvenience, not because it's too real, or not real enough, or whatever else like that. With new technologies, it's getting easier, and actually inexpensive to bring high-quality 3D to the homes, let alone nice theaters.

Another problem is that there are several ways to go up in quality at home and in the cinema nowadays. As well as 3D, there's higher resolution, and also high frame-rate formats, but the latter one is also (surprise) being met with resistance too, by 24 frames-per-second fanatics. It's "too real" as well.

If Avatar was the "high point" it's not the fault of 3D, it's the fault of studios and directors being lazy and just wanting to cash in. Most live action 3D movies were and are still made 3D in post-production, which sucks horribly, and the way they're sold, people think they're all the same 3D.

I agree with Ang Lee's view in the article. Good directors will make good movies with any tools, old or new. I'm going to check out The Hobbit at the theater mostly to see the high-frame rate thing.

saw Hobbit in 3D early this week. I thought it was pretty cool. 3D has come a LONG way from the first 3D movie I saw way back when (with the cardboard & red and green cellophane glasses). I have no interest in 3D at home, I'm quite happy with HD and a big screen. Have a hard enough time keeping track of all the remote controls for the VHS and DVD and DVR and TV, don't need to have to look for another pair of glasses just to watch Rachel Maddow.

Did you see the high-frame rate? (If you weren't aware beforehand, it should have looked like live TV with much more fluid movements.) That's got me interested more than the 3D thing. Many don't like it, but that's cause we're not used to it. The derogatory term is "soap-opera effect".

I'm not sure there's a lot more to say about the incompatibility of science and religion when its opponents' argument doesn't advance from "[famous scientist] is/was a scientist, and s/he is/was religious!"

Reading the comments at WEIT, there's at least one person using the utterly dishonest tactic that other religious people use, to equate them both, saying that "neither" has absolute answers. It's interesting that some religious people need to piss on religion in order to make it more believable when they also piss on science. That's another difference, a scientist can piss on religion, with no consequence at all on his grasp on how the universe works. Not so the other way.

Religion has absolutely no explicatory utility - that's an absolute for you.

Mark Lynas has merely shifted from one ill-conceived political position to another. Like so many GMO advocates, he trots out the debunked feed-the-growing-human-population canard. Worried about feeding the world? Then eat less meat. We waste too much arable land growing livestock. If that land were put to more efficient use, there would be no emerging food crisis.

I notice Lynas is also a supporter of nuclear power. He notes the greatly reduced carbon footprint of nuclear power without acknowledging the problem of what to do with the waste.

It's good that Lynas has the habit of reconsidering his positions, and that he is willing to alter his position in the face of evidence. Maybe he will reconsider his position on nuclear power, and re-reconsider his position on GMOs.

re: " Like so many GMO advocates, he trots out the debunked feed-the-growing-human-population canard."

yup. what you said.

Worried about feeding the world? Give Women in the third world rights and ready access to family planning and contraception.

Any so called environmentalist who says yield per hectare is the ONLY THING that matters in agriculture is clearly not a competent environmentalist, nor are their opinions worthy of consideration.

Yield per acre is important because it uses less land. The use of more land has its environmental costs. Farming is not NATURAL and making the most out of the land we devote to it is important as an environmental issue.

As to give women access to family planning while important will not alone solve the problems. It is well known that as economic prosperity increases people start having fewer children, that it seems is more significant in solving unbridled population growth. Current projections of population growth show that to be the case. The Erlich? et al doom and gloom about population growth has been way off the mark.

Debunked growing population canard, some evidence please. And please not from the Union of Concerned Propagandists, Greenpeace, etc.

I wasn't saying that human population growth has been debunked. I was saying that the growing human population is not a reason to advocate GMOs. After re-reading my comment, I can see that I was unclear.

Let me try to clarify. GMO advocates often (always?) cite the growing human population as a reason we need GMOs. Increased yield per acre is their reasoning. But since most GMO corn and soy is used for cattle feed, the obvious solution is to use less cattle. Less cattle = less need for GMO corn and soy. The land that had been used for GMO corn and soy could then be used for other crops.

If feeding the growing human population is really the concern of GMO advocates, then they should instead be advocating vegetarianism, or at least reducing our meat intake. And now that corn -- GMO and conventional -- is being used for fuel, the demand for arable land is higher than ever.

You can feed something like 20 people with a couple acres of cabbage, but two acres of cattle can feed just one person. My numbers may not be completely accurate, so if you need a citation, I guess I'll look it up and provide one. But I don't think this is a very controversial concept.

And we haven't even delved into the global warming implications of relying so heavily on cattle for food. Lynas cites global warming as a reason for his support of nuclear energy, so I know this is a concern of his.

So, just to recap, if Lynas and his compatriots are really as concerned about feeding the growing human population and slowing global warming, then they should be advocating for less meat consumption rather than for more GMOs.

FYI, I find that irrigated pasture will support about 1 full grown cow per acre. My critters are small-medium frame, after slaughter loss (head, hair and innards), shrink loss (dry ageing), and cutting loss (packaging into retail cuts) I get maybe 300-325 lbs per head of sale-able beef. We don't eat beef more than maybe once a week. One head of beef is more than enough for 10 people for a year for us (the brothers, daughters, granddaughters and ourselves). It's also worth noting that the cattle graze land too hilly to be appropriate for cultivation, and too poor (shallow top soil) to grow much of anything but grasses good for cows.

That said, you are quite right that beef is a premium food - it 's like salmon and tuna in that regard. A little goes a long way.

You are also quite right that bio-fuel corn production is a crime.

Thanks for the info. I was referring to the acreage needed to raise the cattle feed, not just the acreage occupied by the cow itself. In a factory farm setting, the cows get a few yards, not a whole acre. Your cows evidently lead much better lives than the average Hormel victim.

Yer right that feedlot cattle fattening, done primarily on corn, not only makes the poor cows sick, but also means more of the corn crop is used for cattle instead of tamales .

Graining cattle also destroys the healthy Omega3/Omega6 fatty acid ratio in grassfed beef, drops the CLA in the beef to nuthin' and dramatically reduces the folates and vitamin E.

OF COURSE yield per acre is important. What this idiot said that I objected to was that it is the ONLY thing that matters. For pesticide and herbicide and petrochemical based fertilizer pollution of land and waterways is kinda worth considering too. It hardly helps to grow food if folks die of thirst and poison before they can eat it.

Family planning alternatives are clearly HUGELY important to raising the standard of living in the third world, as well as protecting the environments (fishing habitats etc) upon which the people depend.

I just reread his speech and don't see where he said it was the only thing that matters, that seems a very uncharitable reading of what he said. The article I linked to didn't have the full text I believe this one does:

In the case of many GMO crops fewer pesticides are used, and some also result in the use of less water.

That is the problem, a blanket condemnation, a lumping of all GM technologies as if they're one is intellectually dishonest.

A question for those of you opposed to GMOs. Are they're any GMOs that you are onboard with, that you recognize as having positive benefits. For example BT Cotton and Drought resistant corn. If you have objections to these two I'd be interested in your reasons.

I think the use of GMOs to rescue the Hawaiian papaya industry is a good example of how GMOs might be used responsibly. If I'm not mistaken, it's been about 15 years since GMO papaya was first used to prevent the spread of the ringspot virus, and there don't seem to be any ill effects so far. At least I haven't heard of any.

Here in the Midwest, we have cut down millions of elm and ash trees -- elms because of Dutch elm disease, which I think is transmitted by the gypsy moth, and ashes because of the emerald ash borer. Maybe there's a place for GMOs in stopping those problems.

I'm not impressed with BT cotton or drought resistant corn, frankly. For one thing, as discussed above, corn is used mainly as cattle feed (and, increasingly, fuel). Instead of drought resistant corn, we should eat less meat and find a crop to replace the corn. Cotton, too, is a problematic crop. Hemp is much better because it requires virtually no pesticides or herbicides and it produces a better fabric and a higher per-acre yield. Both BT cotton and drought resistant corn represent what I'm talking about. If cotton and corn were better crops, and if GMOs represented actual benefits to the farmers and consumers, then I would be willing to consider their use. But as with much (most?) of the GMO "solutions," these crops represent solutions for industrial bottom lines, not solutions to poverty or pollution.

I referred to this comment in the presentation:

"Who understand that yields per hectare are the most important environmental metric."

I did indeed mis read it. I said "only", he said "most important"

oops. nevertheless, yield per hectare is not the most important metric. The most important metric is sustainability such that crops may be grown on the same land year after year without destroying the water and poisoning the soil.

I totally agree. That's why no-till makes so much sense!


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