The World is Warming

One day of Summer 2018 heat showing huge areas of daily and all-time highs.
A single day from Washington Post’s animated image of summer 2018 heat and record highs.

Earth is warming. Slowly, and not noticeably so to most people, but nevertheless it is happening. More ways to see this are available in this Washington Post titled “Red hot planet: This summer’s punishing and historic heat in 7 maps and charts” and published Friday. I expect some people will read this and have something of a “OK, the planet is getting warmer, but we aren’t causing it to happen.” I really can’t do any more to convince those people than post Skeptoid’s “The Simple Proof of Man-Made Global Warming” for their reading or listening pleasure.

You might think that carbon is carbon, and that if we find there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere, its source can’t easily be proven. But chemistry is a bit more complicated than that; there are different kinds of carbon, as there are of most elements. They’re called isotopes. One isotope of carbon is carbon-14.

The science involved isn’t really that difficult to understand. The knowledge that we are doing this and possibly making the planet uninhabitable for ourselves isn’t hard to gain. But getting some people to believe it sure seems tough. As denialists become fewer in the United States, we are hopefully moving to a period where we can make progress on reducing our effect on the planet, but we still have a way to go before we become part of the solution. But the general population is catching up to the scientific consensus, I think, which is a good thing.

The most frustrating thing, though, is that some folks knew 40 years ago, and rather than work to prevent this and make sure everyone knew about the potential harm, they kept it silent and made sure to profit from the ignorance of others. I know that this is just how big corporations work, but it still sucks. And I realize they did do research on the topic, but they could have brought humanity’s knowledge of the problem much further along than it is know if they had made a big deal of it in the 70s. That’s just me being a hopeless romantic, though.

They found that the company’s knowledge of climate change dates back to July 1977, when its senior scientist James Black delivered a sobering message on the topic. “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” Black told Exxon’s management committee. A year later he warned Exxon that doubling CO2 gases in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by two or three degrees—a number that is consistent with the scientific consensus today.

The Worst Asbestos-Laced Consumer Products Ever Made

While asbestos has been around for a long time, it really took off in the late 19th century as something of a wonder material given its light weight and fire/heat/electrical resistance. Of course, given how bad we later learned the material is for lungs, some of that luster has faded. So when I found a website which presented a list of the worst asbestos-laced products, I just had to share it. My favorite WTF product? Why, number 3:

Um, no more ciggarette [sic] burns? Just what the hell are you people doing with your babies in Australia?!?

Cyber Security Skills Guide

I have a great interest in computer security. I used to work in a job with a team of network/computer security specialists. I had to leave that job when the wife found work elsewhere, but I’ve never lost my love for the field. So when I saw this tweet today about a Cyber Security Skills Report, I figured I’d head over, sign up, and download the guide.

If you are interested, you can head to Security Colony and create an account so you can download the guide. It was created with an Australian focus, but from what little I’ve read of the guide so far, I think it is relevant to security practitioners elsewhere.

The Great Whiskey Fire of Dublin – 1875

In a tweet I can no longer find (I’ve searched and found many about this, but not the exact one which made me look up the fire), I learned today of The Great Whiskey Fire of Dublin, 1875. This may be the most Irish historic event I can recall:

The Illustrated London Times noted that: “Crowds of people assembled, and took off their hats and boots to collect the whisky, which ran in streams along the streets. Four persons have died in the hospital from the effects of drinking the whisky, which was burning hot as it flowed. Two corn-porters, named Healy and M’Nulty, were found in a lane off Cork street, lying insensible, with their boots off, which they had evidently used to collect the liquor. There are many other persons in the hospital who are suffering from the same cause. Two boys are reported to be dying, and it is feared that other deaths will follow.”

It is a little sad to read about those who suffered, but yet one can’t help but think “That could only happen in Ireland.” Right?

And reading about this makes me think about the Great Molasses Flood in Boston, 1919:

At around 12:40 p.m., the mid-afternoon calm was broken by the sound of a metallic roar. Before residents had time to register what was happening, the recently refilled molasses tank ripped wide open and unleashed 2.3 million gallons of dark-brown sludge. “A rumble, a hiss—some say a boom and a swish—and the wave of molasses swept out,” the Boston Post later wrote. A fifteen-foot wall of syrup cascaded over Commercial Street at 35 miles per hour, obliterating all the people, horses, buildings and electrical poles in its path.

But I think Dublin had it worse in comparing these 2 events. Fire vs. wave of sludge? Just my thinking.

On iPhone Sales and Predictions

iPhone 4 (no idea why I'm using such an old model)

Ever since I predicted poor success for the iPhone, I’ve wanted to return and try to figure out why I was so wrong. I mean, with Apple recently becoming the first company worth $1 trillion, it’s pretty clear I was really far off in my prediction. I still can’t say for sure why I was so wrong, but I can make some hindsight guesses that are probably accurate. And 11 years later seems as good a time as any to reflect on how dumb I can be.

What I’m wondering on this, though, is why get a phone with all those features if it is going to cost that much? I’ll admit that I’m probably not the target demographic for this whiz-bang gadget. I like to get single task gadgets for the most part

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City of Heroes, a Little History

I used to play the hell out of City of Heroes (CoH) and City of Villains (CoV). To the point where it probably affected my parenting and my marital status. Sadly for me, the game shut down in November 2012. But I still see people online talking about the game quite a bit, as it was very unlike any other MMORPG out there. Even the similarly-themed Champions Online (CO) and DC Universe Online (DCUO) played so differently that I personally never enjoyed them enough to stick around (although I paid for lifetime subscriptions to both prior to launch in hopes either would replace CoH/CoV for me). My most recent spotting of CoH/CoV talk is this Massively Overpowered article on some of the history of the games, including launch, the Marvel lawsuit, going free-to-play, and issue roll-outs.

One of the perks of this subscription was the delivery of a monthly City of Heroes comic book. That was a neat idea, but gradually this deal changed, with NCsoft charging an additional fee for the comic and then scrapping the physical book entirelly and making them available only on the website. The first issue came out in June 2004 and the 32nd and last arrived in August 2007.

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Gettin’ all Sciency in Here

As a follow-up to yesterday’s brief bit on the Parker Space Probe, I thought it was worth taking some time to share more information about the project. This is some of the best we have going on in the scientific community (in my not so humble opinion), and I thought it was worth learning and teaching more about it. Watch live in the embedded video above, or read on for more details than you ever realized you needed.

The Parker Space Probe launch window opened this morning around 3:30 Eastern Time and extends to August 23rd. So depending on the weather at Cape Canaveral (Space Launch Complex 37, more specifically), the probe may already be on the way to the sun by the time you read this (I’m writing it a day before launch but posting around 7 hours post possible launch time).

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Drive Fast, Speed Turns Me On…

Image stolen from the Engadget article to which this news item is linked

So if you ever wondered just how fast we puny humans can make things go, it turns out that right now something around 430,000 miles per hour is our peak achievement. That’s the projected speed of the Parker Solar Probe which will be launching tomorrow morning, just a few hours from now. I have more reading to do to come up with a more substantial post on the probe, but I hope to put something together tomorrow so you can get learned. Just know that this probe is going towards the sun to study solar winds so we can learn how to better prepare for them in the future. (Image stolen from the Engadget article to which this news item is linked).

The spacecraft will also reach speeds up to 430,000 mph, making it the fastest-ever human-made object. That’s nowhere near fast enough to reach Alpha Centauri within our lifetime — it has to travel around 7,000 years to reach the star closest to our sun — but fast enough to get from Philadelphia to DC in a second.

The Top 100 Women of History

Young Margaret Sanger

I heard one of the local radio station’s morning crew talking this morning about the women who changed the world and decided it might be interesting to see what some thinkers online came up with for their top 10 or top 100. The first list I found was this ThoughtCo. list of the top 100 women of History. My knowledge of historical women is pretty sparse, but I was happy to find I could at least recognize most of the women on this list, even if what I know about each of them is quite limited. I’ll be reading up more on the particular details of these women to expand my knowledge.

What’s most interesting about this list to me is that it isn’t something based on some small group of “experts” deciding who makes the cut – this is a list of women ranked by searches online. So while number one on the list may get disagreement from all corners (I’m sure of it, in fact), there is a reasonable basis for how she got there. 

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