Tag Archives: global warming

The Apocalypticon ~ Trash talking, data-harming and global warming


Trash talking — Americans create the most waste in the world, they’re among the worst at recycling it.
So why not add infamy to idiocy? That’s clearly what Trump figured when he hailed America’s military and declared the US “is stronger today than it ever was before” in a Fourth of July speech with patriotic themes underscored by flyovers from fighter jets and displays of tanks near the stage at the Lincoln Memorial. [At least now we know what he learnt from Kim Jong-Un in that quick visit to North Korea.]
That mighty US Air Force, which is really really powerful, dropped dummy bombs on Florida by mistake on July 1st. The public has been asked not to touch them. [Hoorah!]
Fewer than 40% of Americans have ever had an HIV test, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These rates are even lower in states with rural areas where the disease is disproportionately more common.
Frack that — A sweeping report that evolved from work that helped ban fracking in New York State has been released to help the American public fight the practice as it pops up elsewhere across the country.
Massive wiretap — A single court-authorised wiretap order resulted in authorities in the Southern District of Texas, USA, scooping up more than 9.2 million communications.
NSA improperly collected US phone call data even after saying problem was fixed.

Data wars — ‘Impartial’ Zuckerberg doesn’t want Facebook broken up: the US government shouldn’t break up Facebook because that wouldn’t address the real problems that people face in the age of social media, according to CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, a man who is currently worth an estimated $US71.5 billion ($102 billion) precisely because the social media company is so large.
Civil rights leaders unimpressed at Facebook’s attempts — Many civil rights leaders directly involved in discussions with Facebook say the company has only agreed so far to half-steps unlikely to effect substantive change.
Italy slaps Facebook … with wet bus ticket — Italy’s privacy watchdog announced its decision to fine world-swallowing social platform Facebook €1 million (about $NZ1.7 million) for the catastrophic mishandling of data associated with now-defunct Cambridge Analytica. [Wow, yeah, that’s only going to affect the lunch buffet for a few weeks.]
Alexa keeps your conversations — Next time you use Amazon Alexa to message a friend or order a pizza, know that the recording could be stored indefinitely, even if you ask to delete it.
Google’s toxic data mess — Google’s internet freedom moonshot has gotten glowing attention for its ambitious projects. But current and former employees, leaked documents, and internal messages reveal a grim reality. “The mission of the team is to save the day for the poor brown people.” Yikes!
Bitcoin uses as much energy as the whole of Switzerland — That’s according to a new online tool from the University of Cambridge.
Iranian authorities have seized about 1000 bitcoin mining machines in two abandoned factories, state television reported, after warnings that the activity had led to a spike in consumption of government-subsidised electricity.
New Zealand anger at Google — Government officials in New Zealand are angry and considering legal options after Google sent newsletter subscribers information about a murder case last year.
Mental health suffers with social media use — In a survey of over 22,000 people in Indonesia, researchers have found that heavy social media usage is linked to poor mental health there.

Heat — Hot world, hot France: The small, quaint town of Villevieille, southern France, the temperature soared to 45.11°C (113.2 degrees F). Météo-France, the national weather service, issued its highest warning level for four French regions.
Temperatures climbed to 32°C (90°F) in Anchorage, Alaska — This broke the all-time heat record for the northerly city. It was also the driest June on record.
Indian water apocalypse — A combination of climate change, bad policies and political apathy is steadily pushing India into a catastrophic water crisis that threatens stability in South Asia.
Less ice — Floating ice off the southern continent steadily increased from 1979 and hit a record high in 2014. But three years later, the annual average extent of Antarctic sea ice hit its lowest mark, wiping out three-and-a-half decades of gains — and then some, a NASA study of satellite data shows.
US wasps enjoy the extra heat — Typical yellow jacket nests might contain up to a few thousand workers in a cavity, but if the weather doesn’t get cold enough in the winter to kill off many of these insects, the nests can live on. This has produced car-sized nests containing 15,000 insects or more.
Cockroaches getting harder to kill — The cockroaches that plague our homes are even more indestructible than we thought, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Purdue in Indiana.

But planting more trees could really help with climate change — We’d need to add a US-sized chunk of trees, though. As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. Tree planting is “a climate change solution that doesn’t require President Trump to immediately start believing in climate change, or scientists to come up with technological solutions to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere”, professor Tom Crowther said. “It is available now, it is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved.”

The Apocalypticon ~ NZ penguins, more Trump idiocy, seed vault floods, dumping Google, passwords, Dark Age medical


Our Yellow Eyed Penguin is perilously close to extinction — The adorable New Zealand bird, which even graces the currency, is dangerously close to extinction going by at least at one well-monitored mainland breeding ground.
And it’s (probably) all our fault. Meanwhile, Trump plans to increase defence funding while slashing the Environmental Protection Agency budget while wars are killing hardly any Americans while environmental problems kill 200,000 a year

According to Politico, Trump’s staff regularly prints articles from the internet and hands them to the president. Sometimes, they hand him internet hoaxes they believe are real, which explains so much.
~ Well it doesn’t, because what kind of idiot operates like this? Oh, wait. Guess what?

The info Trump gleefully handed over to the Russians was classified even higher than ‘Top Secret’. According to the Washington Post, the information Trump shared with the Russians is what’s called Code Word classified, which is higher than the classification known as Top Secret. Meanwhile, Gizmodo tested Trump’s Florida security and found it eminently hackable.

Norwegian seed vault floods — Trump, of course, denies that climate is changing. Designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever, the Global Seed Vault, which recently took a new tranche of NZ plant species, is buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle. But it has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel. And scientists (what do they know?) have worked out tat 10-to-20 centimeter (four-to-eight inch) jump in the global ocean watermark by 2050, which is considered a conservative forecast, would double flood risk in high-latitude regions.

Dumping Google — Google trades your data, that’s what’s made it rich, which is why I’m no fan of Android smartphones or even Gmail accounts, for that matter. If you’ve had enough of Google meddling in your affairs, here’s how to make sure it’s a clean and uncomplicated break.

Group fights having to hand over passwords — The human rights group Cage is preparing to mount a legal challenge to UK anti-terrorism legislation over a refusal to hand over mobile and laptop passwords to border control officials at air terminals, ports and international rail stations… This even happens at Auckland airport, btw, with Homeland Security officers taking aside passengers ‘at random’ from flights heading to, or even transiting, the States.
And then … 560 million passwords have been discovered on an online database.

Medicine heading for the Dark Ages — Without real action of the over-prescribing of antibiotics, we’re heading for new medical Dark Ages.

Futurology ~ space, aliens and all, molecule transistor, human-like robot, stiff cheese, gloop-power, mountain warming, global warming, dining air-con


Giddy! R U D 2?
Giddy! R U D 2?

In a system like ours, far, far away … An international team of astronomers has detected a planet very similar to Jupiter orbiting at the same distance from a Sun-like star. And because the age and chemical composition of this system is similar to our own, it likely features an inner collection of rocky planets. Call it solar system 2.0.
~ Greetings x8.

Why aliens love the number 8 — When aliens finally come, the mathematicians are going to be the ones to make successful first contact because it’s far easier to convey numbers without common language.
~ That’s me off the comms team, then. 

Molecule anda few atoms make a transistor — An international team, including researchers from the US Naval Research Laboratory and the NTT Basic Research Laboratories in Japan, built a tiny little device using a scanning tunnelling microscope. They used that to position an organic molecule on a piece of indium arsenide, then placed charged metal atoms around it.
~ This is boom times for international teams. 

Robot did something human-like — An experiment shows how artificial self-awareness can be programmed into our technology. Roboticists at the Ransselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning Lab adapted three old NOA robots to see if they could pass a simple reasoning test indicative of self-awareness.
~ Don’t they build cars already? Humans can do that too, apparently. 

New super-stiff material is like Swiss cheese — An example of a new kind of super-strong material sandwiches a metal foam between two layers of carbon. The material was created by researchers from the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. First, the foam is made by encapsulating hollow alumina particles within aluminium alloy. Then, sheets of carbon fabric face-sheets are applied. The result is light, stiff and able to absorb incredible amounts of energy. Its creators reckon it will be used in automobiles, trains and ships.
~ And tanks, naturally. 

Japanese houses use heat from inside the mountain — A cosy, seven-unit residential complex is nestled at (and into) the foot of Mineyama Mountain in Takamatsu, Kagawa prefecture, in southern Japan. The great thing about sticking buildings directly into mountains is that internal temperatures are controlled geothermally, since the building is almost completely surrounded by earth.
~ A grounded approach. 

2014 was warm — A lengthy report compiled by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration using work from hundreds of scientists across 58 countries has found that 2014 was the hottest year on record.
~ And no doubt the authors will be decried as weirdos with some kind of agenda.

This century will run on gloop — As we march deeper into the twenty-first century, we could have a lucrative new fuel on our hands. It’s blue-green and sometimes a little smelly. It’s found in wastewater, but it’s capable of powering jets. It’s microalgae. Though it looks like green scum or strands of hair floating on the water, microalgae is actually made up of microscopic, single-celled organisms capable of photosynthesis, like plants. It slurps in sunlight, and converts it to energy.

No more flu shots, just patches — The worst part about getting vaccinated is the shot. It’s painful and annoying. But now a group of researchers in Japan has tested a new ‘dissolving needle’ that is basically a painless patch that you stick to your arm. And it works.
~ I still shudder at the thought of metal going into flesh.

Table works as passive air-con — An unorthodox alternative to humming, power-sucking air-con is a giant heatsink dining table that promises to cool a room to a pleasant 22C. It’s a thermal sponge: the ZEF table works not unlike the ridged heatsink you’ll find perched atop a processor inside a computer. On the surface is a stylish solid oak panel, but beneath that is a folded sheet of anodised aluminium with tiny wax balls filling the gaps in-between.
~ Eat cool. 

Futurology 16 ~


Perhaps one could practice for colonisation by staying in a line-up of porter-loos.
Perhaps one could practice for colonisation by staying in one of a line-up of porter-loos.

Life on Mars — Motherboard just released its latest documentary, and it asks a very simple question: When will humans live on Mars? The answer is sort of “It’s complicated“, but for now we need better technology to make life on Mars feasible for extended periods of time. Regardless, the peek into the burgeoning space tourism industry is fascinating and getting into the nitty gritty of what it would actually take to colonise Mars is definitely worth 25 minutes of your time.
~ The better question might be ‘Why would humans want to?’

Universal Basic Income will save us from the Robot Uprising — Robots are poised to eliminate millions of jobs over the coming decades. We have to address the coming epidemic of “technological unemployment” if we’re to avoid crippling levels of poverty and societal collapse. Here’s how a guaranteed basic income will help — and why it’s absolutely inevitable.
~ Apart from being 100% morally defensible, of course. 

Sydney saves big time with LEDs — The 4100 LED lights installed since March of 2012 have lowered Sydney’s energy costs by more than a third; public lighting itself accounts for more than a third of the entire energy bill – the dollar saving: $370,000.
~ They generate less heat, too.

Tech brain reading — A group of neuroscientists has figured out how to decode a limited set of words ‘spoken’ by our inner voices from looking at brain activity alone.
~ Now I’m really in trouble. We;ll have to learn inner sign language.

Brick facade is actually snap-on insulation — Dutch company Energiesprond has come up with a way to make houses carbon neutral with easy, snap-on insulation and solar panels. It doesn’t hurt that houses come out looking quite handsome too.
~ The result is also quieter inside.

Solar energy as cheap as fossil by 2016 — A new study on solar energy from Deutsche Bank bears very good news. Thanks to technology and innovation, solar energy will be jusold warmingt as cheap as energy from fossil fuels by 2016. That’s basically tomorrow, and it’s awesome.
~ Meanwhile we’re paying the Sun what, exactly?

Three historic pulses of global warming — A new study shows that the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide that contributed to the end of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago did not occur gradually but rather was characterized by three abrupt pulses.
~ Conspiracy theorists, time to get busy.