Sunday, March 12, 2023

Some stufff that interested me...........

      Most technologies do not fundamentally change us.  Consider the contemporary smartphone.  It is a flashlight, a music player, a camera, a game console, a fare card, a remote control, a library, a television, a cookbook, a computer—all in one.  It hasn't enabled us to do much that's fundamentally new, but it has combined more than a dozen preexisting devices into one, increasing efficiency and access.  Important? Ridiculously.  But such improvement-based techs do not fundamentally change who we are.

     Transport technologies, on the other hand, profoundly alter our relationship with geography.


Before industrial techs remade the world, "urban" areas required nearly a half acre of farmland per resident to prevent starvation—over seven times the land we use today, plus another one hundred times as much area in forestland to produce charcoal to cook and see the population through the winter.  It made cities stay small.


I'm sure you've all heard about Rome's famous roads being one of the greatest achievements of the premodern age.  A few points of perspective:

       Rome's roads stretched from Glasgow to Marrakech to Baghdad to Odessa, and were roughly equivalent to total length of roads in modern-day . . . Maine.  The Roman road network took six centuries—one billion labor-days—to construct, to say nothing of  maintenance.


       While a camel could move a quarter ton and ox-drawn carts around a tone, even the earliest bulk ships could move several hundred tons at a fraction of the price per ton.  The Romans famously imported most of their capital's food from Egypt.  Remember those better-than-world-class Roman roads?  In 300 CE it cost more to move grain 70 miles on those roads than it did to sail it some 1,400 miles from Egypt to Rome.


      The average grocery store today has about forty thousand individual items, up from about two hundred at the dawn of the twentieth century.


     Take his concept of utter availability, apply it to absolutely everything, and you now have a glimmer of the absolute connectivity that underpins the modern, globalized economy.


-Peter Zeihan,  The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization

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