* Posts by SDoradus

152 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Jul 2010


New Zealand Supreme Court says Kim Dotcom search warrants were legal


Re: I don't get it

Dotcom has always maintained that he took all measures legally required to remove notified infringing material, and indeed co-operated with the feds and the MPAA in doing so.

But he also said it wasn't reasonable to expect him to identify such material - that's the job of the copyright holder. The matter has never actually come to trial, because he'd have to be extradited first.

It's not really a matter of the Kiwis 'dropping their pants' for the US. The article is a bit snide about his funds. He ran out of money to the extent that his NZ attorneys stopped representing him... coincidentally, that was when he began losing legal struggles in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Whatever other funds he has are subject to freezing orders so he can't use them to defend himself.

Judge spanks SCO in ancient ownership of Unix lawsuit


Re: groklaw and grokthelaw

"I'm surprised the file is at groklaw.net, which PJ stopped updating over a year ago."

Exactly, and that was my reaction too. But if you examine the news column on the right you will notice a couple of comparatively new entries (from July!) so PJ is still around and cleaning up as old discussions get resolved. SCO is of course the oldest of these. But she hasn't broken out the red dress yet, and perhaps never will.

The internet is less free than last year. Thanks a bunch, Snowden


Thou dost protest too much

"Thanks a bunch, Snowden"

Shooting the messenger.

Sony Pictures in IT lock-down after alleged hacker hosing


Re: Yaaarrghhh

It's a person very highly trained in English but not quite to mother-tongue level. The un-necessary use of the subjunctive is a dead giveaway.

Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix


Re: creative as we want?

"I suspect that the original length of a copyright was to approximate to the expected life of the creator."

These days it's Life + 70 years in the UK.

The original length of a copyright, though, was fourteen years (Statute of Anne). Renewable once, so perhaps that could have approximated the life of the author. But by around 1830 it had grown to about twice that, and it's been on a roll ever since.

There is no end in sight, and indeed the US Supreme Court has sidestepped the rule against perpetual copyright by permitting the US Congress to enact any finite length it deems 'reasonable'. Where the US goes, by treaty and law the rest will follow.


Re: Compensation?

I bet the jewel case insert had a copyright indication on it somewhere. That, legally speaking put you on notice that terms and conditions of a licence existed. It's your responsibility to find out what those are.

Of course, people in general don't bother - just like they don't go into the stationmaster's office and look at the terms and conditions of carriage every time they go by train. Doesn't make the fine print non-existent.


Re: Compensation?

The courts would disagree with you. The value you gained was the permission to listen.

More generally, copyright takes many forms and you must have 'artificial constructs' or legal terms of art merely to discuss it.

For example, copyright subsists not just in the medium but in a performance. For decade upon decade, since radios began blaring popular music in the early years of last century, workers like garage mechanics had the radio going in their workplace. This meant the public could also listen to the radio broadcast. At least from 1988 (and arguably earlier) this changed, and a number of small businesses - a garage mechanic was the first - were put out of business by the legal costs associated with allowing the public to hear the radio blaring in the back of the workshop.

So remember: a "licence to hear a track anywhere" doesn't mean you won't be done for copyright infringement if the public can hear it too.


Re: Compensation?

Not sure why Mr Orlowski's comments above were so heavily downvoted.

One might not like that "you are not actually allowed to make a copy of something without a license to do so", but it's trite law for copyrightable items. That a copy "would still be illegal if I chose to make my "copy" available to others", likewise. And that there is no blank media subsidy in the UK is simply a fact.

I'd observe that it does make sense to offer a "license to hear [a track] anywhere" or even a "lifetime license", and I'm fascinated that the UK "may be moving to that"; but if we take that literally the implications are wider than one might think.

Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US has radicalised me!


Re: I assume this was their intention all along...

"... or commits suicide."

Best guess: he'd wait till there's no hope at all. Unlike Aaron Schwarz.


Re: Broke? - Yeah Right

He doesn't have a family anymore. His wife divorced him. Oddly, that tiny Chinese-Kiwi still speaks of him with admiration and affection.

It's true the family is now living, fairly modestly, apart from him, surviving on the trust you mention. It wasn't all that big. He never owned his mansion, for example. It was rented.



"... how many of you would have the mettle to endure the mental pressure that he's had to..."

Quite. I'd like to think I would, but... I've never downloaded an illegal tune in my life.

That said, Dotcom might be a fat and carelessly criminal larrikin, but given what's been done to him in the name of the law, I hope the bugger prevails. I suspect, even if he's extradited and sent to a US jail for twenty years, in a way prevail he will.


Because in some jurisdictions a deputy to the national assembly is immune from any sort of prosecution.

Because it's a way to bring your case to the general public and rub their noses in what is being done in their name.

And because they can.

"Fantastic grow the evening gowns;

Agents of the Fisc pursue

Absconding tax-defaulters through

The sewers of provincial towns."


Manning up

"... if he had just manned up and gone to court..."

He did.

Till Dotcom's defence funds were sequestered, he won more often than he lost. Of course, these were NZ courts, including the High Court, which found the search and seizures illegal, to say nothing of the illegal transfer of evidence overseas.

One imagines he had less confidence in the ability to prevail in a US federal or state court. Given recent events, wouldn't you? When the need arises he'll have to battle it out in the US court as well, and I'd note his US lawyers don't seem inclined to drop him simply because he can't pay.

Meanwhile, why should he go to the US? He's a permanent resident of NZ. That, and bail, is what his current legal fight is all about.


Re: I assume this was their intention all along...

"Keep banging away until he runs out of money to pay his lawyers."

It's worse than that. He still owns or controls plenty of assets; however, the MPAA and similar organizations have had them frozen. The ability to do so is a comparatively recent legal development (writs of Mareva, freezing orders etc.) and normally part of the civil law, but clearly now being used to hobble the defendant in a related criminal case.

That's strictly a crown-realm common law development at the moment because US law doesn't tolerate that sort of thing - it's against the constitution, don't you know. This led a law school guest lecturer to complain about the 'dead hand of originalism'; but he predicted the US courts would eventually see compliance with such international orders as in their best interests.

The judicial arm of world government is tracking nicely into place.


That would be the UK

"US has the best justice money can buy.

(If you don't have money, you can't have any)"

Actually that would be NZ. For some reason the NZ lawyers did not need a judge's permission to withdraw from the case. That's frankly puzzling.

Dotcom's US lawyers are still on board, like Rothken. As far as one can tell, they're now fighting the US side of this fight for free (pro bono publico).

BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?


Hoary relevant story

Exactly. Many years ago the labs were upgraded from old PowerPC macs to PCs but no printer upgrade came with. So the wonderful old HP printers weren't going to fit well with the change from Appletalk to Ethernet and new printers (or JetDirect cards) would have busted the budget.

I converted a half-dozen of the old Macs to (headless) MkLinux which could be administered remotely, connected them to the old printers using the very fast better-than-RS232 serial interface, and shared them out using both Appletalk and SMB (via Samba). The CUPS interface was a bit of a bugger back then so I used LPR.

It all worked very nicely thank you, and the printers were still going ten years later!

Interstellar: An awesome sci-fi spectacle – just cut the hamminess, please


Re: Phil Plait hates it

"For time dilation to vary by any significant amount over a range of a few centimetres (the width of a brain), there would be no getting away from the fact that huge tidal forces would be involved. I suspect your brain - and the rest of your body - would be stretched out mush long before you started having mental problems."

That's the curious thing. There was a reason I stipulated "Never mind tidal forces."

The above scenario turns out not to be the case, for a supermassive black hole such as the one in "Interstellar". It's well established that for supermassive black holes tidal forces are minimal at the event horizon, simply because it's so far from the singularity. I realize that's hard to believe so I'll supply a few references relating to free-fall through the horizon:


"Then you will experience only tidal forces (forces that depend not on the strength o fthe gravitational field, but on the difference between its strength at two nearby points) and these can be made arbitrarily small by making the black hole arbitrarily large."

Or, HubbleSite's description:


"If you fall into a supermassive black hole, your body remains intact, even as you cross the event horizon."



"Tidal gravity is less pronounced for an object that approaches a supermassive black hole, because there's a gentler "slope" in the changing gravity field."

I hope that establishes the point. And yet: Tidal forces might be minimal passing through the event horizon of a supermassive black hole, but that still leaves us with the asymptotic time dilation anomaly.

The apparent contradiction may be due to the very artificial nature of the Schwarzchild metric - nearly every imaginable stellar catastrophe leading to a black hole involves huge angular momentum which the BH would keep, so it's hard to see how a realistic BH can avoid following the Kerr metric instead.

And yet, the Schwarzchild metric can't be that far from a suitable approximation, since Hubble and other supertelescopes of the modern era can actually resolve accretion disks with the sharp interior edge characteristic of the Schwarzchild model.


Re: Isn't this the premise of..

"Utter Gibberish"

You don't say...

"Either it is intelligent or it behaves like a neurotic religious nutcase or a child. Choose one."

So there are no intelligent religious nutcases? Or children? Gee, that's harsh. Can't we do the usual engineering thing and pick two of three?

"I hope to $DEITY you never get a position of responsibility in engineering. Ever."

Regrettably, $DEITY did not grant your wish.


Re: Phil Plait hates it

"> I can't find my copy of Leighton.


> Schwartzchild

Oh no, sorry."

Not sure what your point was. It's a very old book. Robert Leighton, that is, 'Principles of Modern Physics', and the range-energy curves I used were in the appendix.


Re: Phil Plait hates it

Actually I did pick up on one thing which Plait in his Slate article either missed, or thought wouldn't be understood. He mentioned that one has to be close to a Schwartzchild-metric event horizon for really large time dilations like that in the movie (which was about 1:62000). A little playing with the numbers would have shown just how catastrophically asymptotic that curve is, and illustrated his point rather better than overblown rhetoric.

Plait seems to assume the film's black hole is non-rotating and small (a few solar masses) but Thorne has made it clear it's a rotating supermassive one, so the numbers are a bit pointless. But let's try. For purposes of illustration let's take Plait's view and set the mass at 6Msol. Then a time dilation ratio of 1:32 occurs a bit more than half a kilometre from the event horizon. Dilation of 1:62000 occurs at just a foot from the event horizon, and a ten-million fold dilation happens just two millimetres away!

So never mind tides. What would happen to a person when time dilation is so different on one side of the brain that the signals are out of sync with the other side?


Re: Why does humanity deserve to survive?

"That must be one of the most hipster edgy things I have ever heard."

Oooh, compliments!

"And my latin courses are a bit way back now, and why are you pretending to know latin anyway?"

Almost certainly not as far back as mine, and probably because (a) I was taught it properly, and (b) I later took an honours in Romance languages with a minor in Linguistics, including the transition from Latin to Old French. Why? Because the University had the best crèche in town and it was a hell of a lot cheaper than other ways of having my kids looked after while at work. But hey! You can imagine I'm ignorant if you want! I'm sure you will!


Re: Phil Plait hates it

Wasn't the zooming done by the "Ranger" shuttles? The engines could be throttleable NERVA types, say. The S-N stage was certified ready for Mars missions by NASA back around 1971 I think. I don't see a hydrogen tank, though. More importantly, I agree about space opera vs. hard SF. In the old days the criterion for hard SF used to be "allow yourself ONE impossibility". These days, anything goes.


Re: Isn't this the premise of..

"Why do people of the future want to live on planets anyway?"

Excellent point. By 2042, say we could have AIs that are recognizably human from a Turing-test point of view. Send those out to space: 'be good little von Neumann machines, go forth, and prosper.' Since we created them, we'd be their god. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter (in at least geological time) their god would be dead.

Somehow I don't think the movie-going public would pay to watch that.


Re: Phil Plait hates it

That was another of Plait's points, but it's another canard. Accretion disks do radiate hugely, but the worst the "Interstellar" probe would see is X-rays except at the rotational axis (where jets form) and in the plane of the disk (where you would get accelerated massive particles in some numbers). The path of the probe avoided both, which was, one suspects, deliberate.

The crew would need to have adequate shielding, perhaps a water-ice shroud over a 'safe room', but for photons this isn't too hard. Particulate radiation - and cosmic rays - would have been a different matter, depending on the range-energy curves, and I can't find my copy of Leighton.

Also nearly all the X-rays are emitted near the internal edge of the accretion disk, if there is one. Some black holes are so old they've cleared the stellar neighbourhood so no accretion disk exists. Others are so massive the accretion disk doesn't take a recognizable form.

Consider a supermassive Schwartzchild-metric black hole (say, a hundred million solar masses) - we're making the same assumption Plait would, here. It would have a Schwartzchild radius three hundred million kilometres out - you'd barely know you'd passed the event horizon. In particular, this means the inner edge of the accretion disk would be nearly a billion klicks from the singularity. The material would orbit quite slowly, thank you, and barely radiate at all by comparison with a hole of just six solar masses.

Perhaps just enough to keep a planet warm, thereby answering another of Plait's criticisms.


Re: "Gravity" was accurate and realistic? Really?

' That's like saying that my old Ford Cortina was supersonic, "as accurately as the roads and limitations of the car allow". It wasn't supersonic. It was barely mobile. '

Oh, I don't know. I'm sure your old Cortina would have been supersonic in some reference frame, even idling in neutral.


Re: "Gravity" was accurate and realistic? Really?

Shame you snipped the important part then: "as accurately as the plot and limitations of special effects allow"

Finally, some sanity.


Re: Why does humanity deserve to survive?

"You have to make the good out of the bad because that is all you have got to make it out of." Actually you make the good out of what you control, good or bad.

Besides, as Robert Penn Warren pointed out in almost the same breath (in All the King's Men), he wondered if [the Boss] believed what he had said: "it was scarcely consistent".

I decline to take my inspiration for saving the world from a science fiction novel, let alone science fantasy, let alone science fantasy quoting a poet who's not sure what he's saying.


Re: Why does humanity deserve to survive?

Yes. Equally poignant in that there's no sense in disputing the relative merits of two worthless statements.

Steven Baxter has the end of the human gene line sixty million years from now by which time we're a gazelle-like creature hunted to extinction. When we're gone, we won't be around to think either proposition poignant.


Re: Why does humanity deserve to survive?

More or less what Elon Musk would say. But it's too late really and has been since the nuclear option was foreclosed on.

Besides, he'd either put it in English or at least get the Latin right (tutemet isn't indeclinable, the first "tu" declines, so my fifth form Latin makes that tetemet... except the whole phrase reeks. Try 'liberate me ex inferis" (the n in infernis is not often observed in late medieval Latin, cf. the cognate French L'Enfer).


Re: Why does humanity deserve to survive?

The short answer is, it doesn't. Perhaps the point of the film was to hammer this home.


Phil Plait hates it

Oddly, Phil Plait - the bad astronomer - hated "Interstellar" to pieces, because he thought the science was fake. A number of other big names in Physics sort of disapproved too, but Plait caught my attention first because he seemed to be disrespecting the contribution of Kip Thorne, and calling Thorne out on violations of relativistic physics seems like an exceptionally dangerous thing to do.

So I began looking into some of the references Plait provided for why the film had huge Physics plot holes, and almost the first one was a PDF of an article by Kim Griest showing that a black hole has no stable orbit beyond three black hole radii. Plait's points included the impossibility of a planet that close being other than tidally locked, as well was that it would fall into the singularity. His most trenchant point related to the extreme time dilation for visitors to the planet. You don't get such time dilation unless you're well inside where stable orbits can form, so such a planet couldn't possibly exist.

The big problem is that throughout, Plait was assuming the black hole followed the Schwarzchild metric. Certainly his main reference (Griest's paper) made that choice explicit. But this, as Thorne surely knew, is hardly likely since only non-rotating black holes are that simple, and I just checked - the "Interstellar" website explicitly states the black hole is spinning.

An uncharged rotating black hole is going to follow the Kerr metric, which despite being described in closed form is extremely hard to find solutions to. The solution space is so weird that even the numerical relativity specialists wouldn't care to give a general solution to the stable path of a planet; it's all going to be very contingent on the particular case.

Plait's other objections, aside from the usual retching at the schmaltzy dialogue, also need to be taken with a grain of salt. They include the unlikelihood of launching the craft from the NASA lab where the research was done, the energy budget, the lack of funding from a US in crisis, etc. But the film is silent on these matters and it's not hard to dream up scenarios which would fit. For example reactivation of the NERVA engine projects in secret.

Trickle-down economics works: SpaceShipTwo is a prime example


Space isn't orbit

I'd be a lot more impressed if the proposed space jaunts actually involved orbit and not simply a brief jaunt to the exosphere. But they don't, because the energy budget to orbit is simply prohibitive.

That said, if it takes off as a tourist spectacle, I can see a lot of good science being done from a suborbital flight. And who knows, perhaps flights will gradually extend to intercontinental trips - a sort of super Concorde.

Taylor Swift dumps Spotify: It’s not me, it’s you


Iron irony

"... the DMCA's Safe Harbour provisions (a voluntary code of conduct whereby American companies promise to treat EU citizens' data properly)"

Wait, what?


Re: Erm....

A less well known friend of Lorde, my kids tell me.

Snapper's decisions: Whatever happened to real photography?


A Hasselblad can work with film or digitally.

The article's a storm in a teacup. It's not like there's no choice. Showing a film-capable Hasselblad - a discontinued line - at the article headline is a little disingenuous.

A suitably dedicated (or fanatical) emulsion aficionado will always be able to buy a film-capable back for his Hasselblad, just as one can buy digital backs which convert early film-only models to digital ones.

The biggest problem is the discontinuance of emulsion film manufacture, and secondarily the closing of factories able to cheaply and conveniently process roll film. For some types - like Kodachrome - home processing is not a realistic option.

Yes, Samaritans, the law does apply to you. Even if you mean well


Re: stop their Radar app from processing your tweets

At first blush, the DPA certainly does apply for the reasons given by the writer of the article. That doesn't mean criminal charges are probable because in the UK there's a director of public prosecutions who would have to sign off on that. I believe that it's possible to bring a private prosecution but the cost would be prohibitive. Even given a prosecution, a judge would have to agree with the writer's (admittedly persuasive) interpretation of the law as applied to the facts.

On the other hand a civil action, whether privacy or nuisance based, might well succeed and might actually be profitable.

Carders offer malware with the human touch to defeat fraud detection


Re: My golden rule since my card was cloned at a Texaco petrol station

"The" is known to grammarians as the 'definite article'. It connotes just one thing, in this case one wife. "A" is the indefinite article. "A wife" might imply more than one. "The wife" implies just one.

Does the Googler tapped to run the US Patent Office still believe in patent reform?


Congress might have something to say.

I hear the biggest problem with the USPTO was that it was expected to be self-funding. The more patent applications leading to approved patents, the more money to pay its staff, etc. No surprise then that rather more stupid and dangerous patents become approved than one might consider desirable.

With the best will in the world, Ms Lee might not be able to square patent reform with those elements in Congress who are lobbied by firms which benefit from the current regime.

Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar


Re: Not bad

I gather the movie is about a wormhole, at least in terms of the travel. My copy of Gravitation is stuck at the bottom of a cardboard box somewhere in the sleepout, but as I recall - over a span of decades - Kip Thorne discussed and calculated the creation of a wormhole using exotic matter (Z=0). He observed that not only were the energy requirements huge, but the wormhole would be initially the sign of a pinhead (and vast quantities of exotic matter would also be needed to enlarge it).

But for him the important point was that the rules of relativistic physics did not actually rule wormholes out.

Adobe spies on readers: EVERY DRM page turn leaked to base over SSL


What other ebook reader? Will it read your already purchased e-book?

"... people are upset that this kind of data is being collected in the first place – and will be looking for alternative ebook reader software that isn't spying on them."

Fair enough. What ebook reader, then? And will it read already purchased material?

Steve Jobs' bio man tackles geeks who 'created the digital revolution'


Re: Maybe the author is from New Orleans?

Indeed. Some forty years ago I first encountered 'lagniappe!" in a Harlan Ellison story, "On the downhill side" (fairly depressing, second-law-of-thermodynamics kind of thing).

At the time I was pursuing a conjoint arts/science double degree, the BA in modern languages and the BSc in Physics and math. It piqued my interest enough to scramble for my Skeat's etymological dictionary - it wasn't there but I found it in Big Ox. Mark Twain had licked his lips over the word in "Life on the Mississippi" and I'm guessing Mr Ellison pinched it from Twain. It's since become quite widely used in science fiction.

What made me remember this was that 'lagniappe' came to English via New Orleans French, which got it from the a spanish creole, which ultimately formed it from the Quechua language spoken in Peru. This was peculiar. Peru is a hell of a long way from New Orleans. Also Quechua was one of three important languages considered to use SOV at the time (the others being Turkish and Japanese). What a wonderful journey that word had been on. Sort of illustrated Ellison's point.

It's not always about you: Why the Apple Watch is all about China


Re: Please explain

That's a good question and deserves an answer longer than I can give here, but he's not really wrong about stroke order being important to meaning.

The overseas Chinese communities in Asia are still of huge economic importance, and they use traditional (not simplified) Chinese scripts in which stroke order is vital to the meaning of a new character as it's slotted into a learner's memory. And everyone in that mode of communication is constantly learning, and re-learning.

Remember, you need about 8,000 ideographs in memory to make a stab at reading a newspaper; a cultivated and literate reader might be more or less familiar with up to a hundred thousand. Without the variation in stroke order it can be very easy to confuse how ideographs/logographs are built up from radicals and other subcharacters. The loss of information in certain printed scripts is a real issue.


Re: Overgeneralisations much?

I might add, Korean Hangul script manages to be both a syllabary and an alphabet at the same time. It's the invention of one of their better monarchs but one still occasionally sees Chinese script (hanja) even now.


Re: Overgeneralisations much?

He didn't say "most" of Asia. He said "much" of Asia. I understood him perfectly. And yes, the Japanese do use around four different systems of writing - including Hepburn romanization, for example, and two syllabaries. But they also use what amounts to Chinese ideographs (kanji). So there.

TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit


Re: Google are no angels ..

Oh, I don't know. You seem to be saying that the central issue of patent exhaustion - whether the patentor was entitled to go after Google's customers despite a licence granted to Google - wasn't decided.

But it was, years ago, in a different case where Lodsys went after Apple's developers for violating a patent despite the fact that Apple had already a licence to that patent from the previous owner (Intellectual Ventures). That set the relevant precedent. I think Apple won in the sense that the judge ruled Apple had legal standing to fight on behalf of its developers and customers. Contract wasn't an issue there. The reason Google took the contract legal option was that it gave them remedies not otherwise available - another stick to beat the trolls with.

Now that's a big win.


Re: Perhaps A mandatory Name Change Next Time?

That's canonically the name of a losing client's law firm - who was representing the trolls?

Dotcom owns up: my name was 'poison'



Puhleeze. No Kiwi is under any illusions about Dotcom's motivations or character. It's the ghastly perversions of due process - not to mention the illegal seizure of chattels and property - which garner him sympathy, largely because if "they" can do it to him, they can do it just as easily to "us".


Re: This bloke is deluded

Typical Kiwi voters were indeed revolted by the prospect of a German, albeit a permanent resident, trying to tell them who to vote for in a particularly crass and graceless manner. However, the fact that Dotcom blamed himself for the electoral failure would tend to indicate that he is not 'deluded'. At least, not any more.

Otherwise, most of the above is fair comment, but with these caveats:

- That the email was a fake has not in fact been established. But it was certainly unsupported by other evidence.

- The Internet Mana party may or may not blame him for the loss, but in the TV broadcast of his self-flagellation one could hear loud shouts of "No!" when he blamed himself.

- It wasn't "his" party. Mana was a merger of two parties, one of which had existed long before, and the founding leader was Hone Harawira. Dotcom did however bankroll the merged entity.

- Mana spent only $60,000 NZ dollars on the campaign. Not $4.5 million. The money Dotcom provided didn't go to election expenses. One wonders how much was actually provided, and what it was spent on.

- The amount of money spent on the election was therefore vastly less than another unsuccessful party, the so-called "Conservatives", on the other side of the political spectrum. These are basically what a European would recognize as Christian Democrats. Their leader did bankroll their electoral effort to the tune of nearly two million NZ dollars - the second highest of any party contesting the election. (The highest spenders were the National party, which won.) In fact just after the vote the electoral commission filed a police complaint about two Conservative electoral officials for filing false expenses and spending more than was allowed during the election.


Re: A mea culpa and an apology?

Well yes. He wasn't running for office - he couldn't, being a German citizen, not NZ.

Evil mining firms? Please. Obeying profit motive is KINDER to the environment


Re: environmental cost

As a tech for a university geology department I collected and analysed the environmental impact of gold mines, and it's funny how people miss the way big mining now has to 'remediate' the land they tear up to the point that the wetland wildlife gets vast areas of prime breeding ground, for example (although the small undercapitalized one-man or family outfits are altogether another matter).

And it's true that lots of places bear names testifying to ancient industrial importance, like (as you mention) the "Erzgebirge, or Krusny Hory" or perhaps Jarnberaland in Sweden, nicely illustrating the point that progression in tech results in new resources being exploitable. It's a bit like a mining version of Moore's law.

The funny thing about this series of disputes is that I agree with nearly all the hard facts and soft attitudes you allude to, even to the point of despising the lack of breadth in 'greenie' thought. (Not all greenies are so easily duped, though; the notorious Farley Mowat went to Russia to collect millions of copyright Roubles owing from his books - in the sixties - and wrote a book about the experience. In it he noted how on one flight he looked out his aircraft window and saw the vast blight on the landscape created by centrally-planned exploitation. This made his hosts very uncomfortable. Even Marx appreciated the productive power of capitalism's market rule, but no-one in the USSR realized that there's also a market in consumer appreciation of ecological improvement.)

And yet you're surely wrong about the long-term prospects for industrial civilization, just as Moore's law is running into trouble. Sooner or later there are hard limits and we will run out of the luck or ingenuity needed to bypass them; for your argument addresses only one of the sides of the squeeze, the supply side, which is improving steadily but is still a long way from matching the exponential increase in demand.

An exponential demand will always, sooner or later, be capped by a linear increase in supply. It might be at nine billion people. It might be at six hundred million. It might be at a trillion, or when the entire mass of the Earth is converted into people. Mathematically though, it will happen, and by the nature of exponential versus linear, the details hardly matter to the timing of the crunch.