Mental anguish

We live in a unique time; both the growth of information and the ability to access that information is also increasing at an exponential rate.

Our almost instant global communications network is enough to impress anyone. But can all the knowledge it contains be a bad thing?

More content has been generated in the last few decades than during the whole of human history!

This vast amount of accessible knowledge overwhelms even the most capable person. All the bad news we receive looms subconsciously in our minds, while we try and forget.

We must make more and more daily choices than ever before. For a start, think of all the options on all your personal electronic devices. Customisable features such as screen savers, ring tones, fonts & sizes, printer & graphics settings, software programs. The list is endless.

Which e-mails to delete? Why? What to buy and sell. Where? Who should I meet? When? What information should I try do I avoid, and what information should I attempt to seek out? How do I do that?

And ultimately: What choices do I choose to make? What do I do with my life now?

[Read more…]

What I learned in 2016.

And today’s big update which is all over the news anyway.

What a stupid, stupid man. I know it’s not “politically correct” to say that. But quite frankly, I don’t care. Because it just so happens to be true.

Honestly, do you remember when you were in school (you did finish school didn’t you?) and your teachers told you about “the curve”. The bell curve.

That taco-bell shaped curve that plots intelligence as a function of the population. In the middle, you have the average person’s intelligence, see. That fat part of the curve, where most people lie. The people like you (I hope you’re at least that smart) and me. Because I’m really just average. I’m not naturally smart. I have to try just as hard as anybody else to score highly on any test. And I know there are loads of people way smarter than me.

Then, usually on the right hand side of that graph, you have a much lesser proportion of geniuses, whiz-kids and ultra-hard core nerds. Who score something like 95 to 99.98% on their tertiary entrance rank. Often the asian kids and, well, all the other “important people”.

Then on the other side you have the, ahh, people with “somewhat lesser intelligence level”. Okay, as the author of this website, I try not to beat around the bush. So let’s just say it like it is. Call a spade a spade. On the left hand side of that graph, are, the people with below 100 IQ. For want of a better term, are “the dumb people”. There. that’wasn’t so hard, was it? No.

What did I learn in 2016? Well I’m convinced that these are the very same people who voted Trump in. The dumb ones who simply don’t get how the world works. And by that I don’t mean “how money runs the world”. I literally mean “how the world works”. How atoms and molecules and other particles interact with eacother; how crystal structures form.

So I know I’m repeating myself here. But it’s an important message and it bears lots of repition.

Climate change is *not* some big hoax put out by the chinese government (or whatever). It’s a real concern by scientists (you know, the clever people), that our current way of life is just not sustainable.

I am actually suffer chronic depression because of this. Every month I see a psychologist.

I can tell you one thing though. I am personally not going to sit idly by for the next four years in silence. I’ve already made up my mind. I just can’t do it. I know too much.

As one of the few designers out there to actually have a background in science, I am going to make a stand. If the coal or oil industry wants yours truly to design them a new logo, it’s going to cost them… wait for it… 800 million dollars. That’s my buyout price. That’s the price I’m willing to settle for. For that price you get the logo and a style guide. That’s it.

For that price, yes I can design any oil company the loveliest of logotypes. But more importantly, I can reinvest 799 million dollars out of that amount of money into simply buying up . Because that’s what I think the ultra rich should be doing. Instead of wasting it on diamond-encrusted mobile phones and whatnot.

Why? Well, because, unlike most designers, I know why the true “cost to society” of oil isn’t reflected in it’s current market value — in it’s real price.

“But I don’t want to live on Mars”

I’m hoping one or more of the 2000+ billionaires in the world are reading this…

Because even the richest people in the world, all the current billionaires –even future trillionaires– cannot afford to maintain their current lifestyles, as they do here so nicely, except on the planet Mars.

Where do all the rich and famous people go on holidays? I’ll tell you were they all go. They go to the one place in the world that literally “exudes luxury”. And I’ll give you a hint: it’s not Monte Carlo (that’s for people that spend money).

1 – Bora Bora, in French Polynesia. They stay in overwater bungalows costing upwards of US$5,000 a night. That’s where they go. They take a few steps down a little ladder and snorkel right off from their little balconies. Isn’t that wonderful?

And call me strange, but all of those luxurious resorts encircling Bora Bora look absolutely nothing like… well, bloodywell anywhere on that dusty little shithole unfortunate sister planet of ours, Mars2. It’s a completely vacant, crappy, dry, dusty monotone brown little shithole. And I think we have to ask ourselves “why indeed is Mars so vacant?”

And it’s going to be a L O N G time before it even remotely starts resembling somewhere like any 5+ star resort on the “just-the-right-size-mother-bear-planet-Earth”. If there’s one thing I know rich people can’t stand, it’s being in a crap environment. That’s why they pay extra to wait in lounges at the airport. Or why they have to be located in a different section of the plane. Or a different plane altogether. Because to do otherwise would be depressing. And if humans can’t stand one thing, it’s “not being happy”.

Then let this serve as an advanced warning to you, future trillionaire: the rest of us just aren’t leaving Earth so that you can stay and enjoy it around here with all your lakes, rivers, oceans and surf beaches.

I for one am not living on Mars, either voluntarily or forcibly. No. And neither are my non-existent children. This mass exodus of people in the direction of “Earth to Mars” is just not going to happen. There’ll be the bloodiest revolution in the history of mankind before that happens.

Why? Because far from thinking “Mars is going to be ‘fun’ “, I think it would be even more boring than a long-term jail sentence.

 

Is the world getting better?

Here’s today’s bullshit “life is getting better” video in which Bill Gates says (and I quote):

“If you want to improve the world you always have to be a little pissed off. That’s why these problems get solved is that there’s so much anger that we’ve come to view inequality as unacceptable”. –Bill Gates

Ironic that the ‘richest’ person on the globe says that.
It’s always people with you Bill, isn’t it? Do you ever think about any species other than humans?

Obviously you haven’t yet heard about the 6th great extinction. Or Earth overshoot day. Or climate change. Or the global fresh water crisis. Or soil degradation/salination. Or overpopulation. Or the rise in bacterial resistance. Or wage stagnation. Or the price of the Sydney housing market.

Sure, human life is improving, for the most part, while the rest of the planet is going down the fucking toilet. I’m starting to think that Bill Gates is a douche bag. Honestly.

The life cycle analysis of an automobile is more than just the battery

In this article I’d like to talk about the life cycle analysis of a traditional car with an internal combustion engine compared to that of an electric car. I’m not actually going to perform any detailed life cycle analysis calculations, just talk about the number of additional parts that a petrol or diesel powered car requires compared to an EV.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight. No one is saying that purchasing an EV car is ‘better’ for the environment than purchasing no EV car at all (and no petrol/diesel replacement either). Right? No one is saying that here, there or anywhere.

It’s nice that David Pilling has written about where materials come from when they buy an EV. But why not also write an equally-damning column on the materials that go into petrol powered cars? Likewise, it’s nice that Schalk Cloete has written about the hidden emissions of electric cars. But do the authors really think that petrol- or diesel-engined vehicles are any less exempt? That’s what pisses me off.

There are thousands of intricate moving parts that make up a conventional internal combustion engine. Thousands. In order that they function correctly, they require complicated electrical, lubrication and cooling systems. The first time I looked at my motorbike’s repair manual, I was shocked!

Let’s talk about how many individual parts there are in an internal combustion engine and compare shall we?

What about all the pistons, piston rings, driveshafts, camshafts, gearbox, valves, crankshafts, valve springs, fuel injectors, bearings, o-rings, timing belts, fan belts, flywheels, alternators, ignition coils, spark plugs, distributor, starter motor, fasteners, sensors, switches, relays, cables, wiring harnesses, oil pumps, water pumps, fuel pump, oil filters, fuel filters, petrol tank, radiator, exhaust system …I mean the list goes on and on and on and on!

My point is that none of the above mentioned parts are required in an EV. None. I will repeat that: none.

So fossil fuel driven cars are competing with a motor that has ONE moving part in it (well except for the ball bearings on the main drive shaft). So the internal combustion engine now is potentially at a huge manufacturing and environmental disadvantage.

The cost of manufacturing, moulding and machining all of those extra parts is huge! And they’re not made of crappy alloys either. What then is the environmental cost?

What about the lead in lead/acid batteries? What about the copper in the starter motor? And what about the aluminium in the radiator? What about the aluminium in the engine block and gearbox casing? Where do all these materials come from?

What about the Manganese, Molybdenum, Chromium, Vanadium and Nickel in all those hardened-steel moving parts inside the engine and gearbox? What about the energy that goes into mining, smelting, forging, forming, cutting, swaging, extruding, casting, injection moulding, machining, tempering, hardening, plating?

What about the environmental impact of building and maintaining all of the machines used in manufacturing, processing and production? What about the energy required by all of the machines on the assembly line? What about the energy required by the testing and tooling machinery to make sure all of the parts are within tolerance?

What about consumables? What about engine oil? What about the coolant? What about the battery acid? What about the transmission fluid? What about the gaskets? What about the grease? What about the air filter? What about the oil filter? What about the fuel filter? What about the environmental cost of changing those frequently?

None of those things are required with an EV either. None.

There are so many friggin’ parts, no one has even tallied up the environmental cost of them individually (instead they work out how much energy the factory or the entire transport energy sector uses). It’s a rough guess at best.

If EV cars were invented first, piston engined car would never have even been conceived, that’s how overly-complex they are to design, manufacture and produce. Of course EV manufacturers already know all of this, that’s why they’re all trying to jump on the band wagon now, because there’s potentially more profit in it.

Can you at least begin to see that it’s not just about the environmental impact of a lithium ion battery in an electric vehicle. And that it’s not just about where the electricity comes from? It’s much more ‘complicated’ than that.

Would fossil fuel proponents now like to sit there and calculate all of the life cycle factors and environmental impacts, taking into account all of the things I have just spoken about?

The bottom line is, you have got to be fuckin’ kidding me if you think combustion engines are more sustainable when everything is taken into account… and yes I really would hate to be the sorry bastard that gets lumped with all those calculations.

The Navier—Stokes problem and the three atom universe.

What is the ocean, but a multitude of drops?

Okay, I previously studied materials science (which is a cross between engineering, chemistry, physics and maths). Maths was never my strong point. It’s nice to see people speaking english here. I am hopeless at maths. Really hopeless. I am more of a visual/graphical person.

I am having trouble even VISUALISING the problem here. Can someone show me *what the problem is* in a more GRAPHICAL format than showing equations?

Are you asking for a mathematical solution so you can predict where laminar to turbulent flow will occur in any theoretical system? Or are you asking what causes turbulence, where does it originate from?

If you are trying to understand and model where turbulence comes from in the real world, then I think you need to understand the real world at both large and small scales. Turbulence happens at all scales, from gases to galaxies, so it is a universal constant. So I’ll try to explain it like this:

On large scales, interactions between one atom and quintillions of millions of other atoms do not matter (I wouldn’t say ‘nothing’ but not very much anyway). Why not? I think that should be obvious, but it’s because minor fluctiations in an atoms’ position do not change bulk properties very much. It’s like adding a drop of liquid to a cubic metre of water, no big relative change. Well okay, “a drop in the ocean” has even become a common expression in the English language.

And what is the difference between large and small scales except just looking ever-closer at your X, Y and Z coordinates?

If the entire universe consisted of just one atom, the universe would be easy to predict. This one atom would just sit there, possibly vibrating and rotating around itself… and life would be pretty boring.

Now, if there were two atoms in the entire universe, they would probably orbit around eachother in a very predictable, ‘linear’ way. By ‘linear’ I mean “not progressive”; of course the atoms would move in circular orbits around each other. Or they would simply collide into one another leading to something I would called “the little crunch”. It would all be very easy to model. The point is, still nothing much would change with time. Even though in motion, it would be a fairly ‘static’ rather than a ‘dynamic’ system

However. If the entire universe consisted of only three atoms, nothing else. Things get very complicated, very quickly. Because, first of all, there exists in physics something known as the “n body problem“. Given three initial starting vectors, apparently it’s very difficult to predict the exact position and momentum where three measly atoms will end up.

Why is this so? Firstly, all of the atoms are attracted to one another because of Van der Waals forces. Also, each atom technically imparts an infinitesimally small gravitational pull on the other two. And any time gravity is involved, well, Newtonian mathematics doesn’t work too well. But there are magnetic forces from the nuclei as well. And when all of those forces are acting upon each other in three dimensions, it gets tricky. Because of the inverse-square law, the forces that interact for each of the atoms upon on the other two will be different at each point in time and space  (based on their proximity).

So on smaller physical scales, however, we know that a drop of water contains roughly 10^21 molecules. And those molecules are vibrating all over the place. They have all sorts of vibrational modes. They rotate. They spin. They vibrate at different frequencies. Nothing at all stays still. If it did, matter would soon annihilate itself. The electrons do not just orbit the nucleus in a circular fashion, but in complex dumbell shapes. The orbitals will even be different according to the type of atom, there are s, p, d and f shaped oribitals. We don’t even know with certainty where the electrons are orbiting due to the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (which takes effect whenever you actually try to measure anything at the atomic or subatomic scale). And all of the subatomic particles may interact with each other as well. Who knows? We don’t know.

So even when looking at the behaviour of a few atoms, as compared to a whole ocean, their position and momentum starts to become significant with respect to each other. Let’s look at what I’m talking about. A few people have tried to estimate the number of water molecules in all of this world’s oceans. And the number we get is from around 5 x 10^46 to 5 x 10^47. Yes you’ll note that those two numbers are out by a factor of ten. That is one order of magnitude margin of error just in the counting. Yes it’s that inaccurate. Because this is the real world and it’s just a ‘guestimate’ (close enough for the purposes of argument). Now keep in mind that they are very approximate figures, we certainly would never know the exact number, let alone the position and momentum of all that lot!

So for example, if I added one more molecule of water to an entire ocean, how much do you think all of those existing water molecules affect one single atom. The answer is “quite a bit”, because the number of them completely overwhelms that one molecule. But what about if I think about it the other way around? Does our additional lone water molecule impart much change to the other ten or a hundred ‘quattuordecillion’? How much influence does this extra molecule provide. It’s not ‘nothing’. It’s never ‘nothing’. Most people would say it is ‘negligable’. It is insignificant. Right? It wouldn’t change too many of the others’ motion paths. Or would it? Who can say? It’s like putting one more person in a stadium. Almost all of the other 100,000 people probably won’t notice the extra person. But if I add one extra atom to a two atom universe —if I get a divorce from the only person I know in the universe— then yes it does become very significant for both atoms.

One guy even mentioned on Quora that his instinct was that quantum (subatomic) interactions cause turbulence. If that is the case, then it truly would get ‘complicated’. Furthermore, physicists and cosmologists are saying that space and time itself might be ‘granular’ and not smooth. And then you are assuming that fluids are incompressible. Are they? Perhaps not 100%, no. I personally think there are no such things as fractions…

“I do not see two halves of an apple. I see quadrillions of whole atoms on each side.” Leslie Dean Brown

There are just that many variables. People like to quote god here. I don’t believe in god, because it isn’t necessary for me to understand the way the world works. For those people that insist on quoting god at this point, I’d say it like this: “not even god knows; nothing could or would know what is going on with all atoms and interactions at one instant in time, because EVERYTHING is interacting with EVERYTHING at that point in time”.

If you ask me, laminar flow is where maths and theory works. Turbulent flow is where maths breaks down. Does that sound like a grey answer? It is meant to be. I don’t think there is an answer. By the time you have done the calculations, the atoms will have moved elsewhere. It should be a trillion dollar problem. It’s going to be that complicated to try and figure out.

A new definition of life?

Erwin Schrödinger theorized in his 1944 book “What is Life?” that contrary to the general tendency dictated by the Second law of thermodynamics, life decreases or maintains its entropy by feeding on negative entropy.

One of the most difficult questions to answer is “what is the purpose of life?”. But how can we possibly answer what the purpose of life is if we don’t even know what life is?

What is life? Go to a year 9 science book and the definitions will vary. They will undoubtedly mention the following processes: Homeostasis, Organization, Metabolism, Growth, Adaptation, Response to stimuli, Reproduction. By these definitions, would ‘life’ from another planet even classify as life?

Whenever we attempt to ask what constitutes life, we arrive at all sorts of vague definitions, for example:

“the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body”

“a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings”

“an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction”

“the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.”

“the sum of the distinguishing phenomena of organisms, esp. metabolism, growth, reproduction, and adaptation to environment.”

There are many definitions of what life is, but for every one of these sub-classifications, there are exceptions:

Adaptation to the environment. At what rate must life adapt for it to be considered alive? If we rapidly create an artificially toxic environment, no life form will be able to adapt in time and hence it will die. The same can be said for the “reaction to stimuli” argument. The entire plant kingdom is at a great disadvantage here – although they can adapt relatively quickly to their environment, plants can only react to stimuli very slowly. Viruses do not appear to react to anything. In fact, I suspect that “adaptation to the environment” and “reaction to external stimuli” are really disguised as the same thing, albeit at different rates of application.

Reproduction can never be a valid prerequisite for life (at least for an individual being or entity). The process of reproduction occurs in every single life form on this planet, it has therefore not surprisingly swayed our perspective when we think about all life forms. Life is more than reproduction.

I suspect that reproduction is a way of minimising damage to our core DNA instructional program, by relaying this information over different generations (more on that later). I can easily imagine an organic being which is alive and does not need to reproduce to survive by continually renewing itself. Imagine the last surviving example of an endangered heterogenous species: in the short term, it is alive despite facing certain extinction (unless cloned). But in the long term, in the future, it (defined as a species) is already dead. Eunuchs are alive; so are spayed or neutered dogs — but neither can reproduce.

Nor can DNA or metabolism be a criterion for life. In biology, the word ‘metabolism’ usually refers to Earth-bound chemistry. Doesn’t this preclude off-world life? DNA is merely a recipe for life on this planet, it is not a blueprint for ALL life.

It seems to me that our definition of life is extremely Earth-centric. This is again perhaps not very surprising since it’s the only life we know about (so far). So I think it’s time to attempt to define life in a new way. But how can we ever begin to grasp the chemistry on other planets or in other galaxies? Well, we might not have to know. We just need to define one single common process of life. What do all life forms have in common?

Interestingly time is an essential factor when we consider the concept of life. It is present in all the above definitions of life (metabolism, reaction to stimuli & environment, growth and reproduction). We cannot think of definitions of life without thinking about time as well. The concept of time is an essential component. A life-form cannot be defined as alive without measuring one of its characteristics against time. Although so far knowing all this doesn’t help us much.

What other parameters do we know about the cosmos that don’t change? What if we could define life in terms of one of these constants, by direct comparison?

One of the most commonly accepted universal ‘laws’ (at least ) is the second law of thermodynamics, which basically states that the universe tends towards a state of disorder. You need to add energy to a system for it to become more ordered. In general, it’s a rule that cannot be broken. But I’ve never completely understood this, because according to most thermodynamics lecturers, this planet should be an amorphous lump, along with all the others in our Solar system. With this rule, you’d also expect the cosmos to be a 100% random distribution of gas molecules by now… I’m not arguing against the second law… it just made me think.

Physicists and thermodynamicists conveniently talk about open, closed and isolated systems and then scale the size of these imaginary boxes into whatever sizes fit their models in order to analyse various processes (either real or hypothetical). In our situation, they’d include the Sun in the size of their box to take into account its energy transfer. That doesn’t mean much to me.

What does all this have to do with life? Quite simply, as time passes, life in general has the unique capacity to re-arrange resources for itself and all by itself. It’s the one trait that separates inanimate objects (stuff that doesn’t appear to do anything) from animate objects (which do things spontaneously). Let’s just say that life evolves into more and more complex, ordered forms over prolonged time periods.

At first glance, you might not think that we as a civilisation are very organised. You might even call life “crazy” or “chaotic”. Look a bit closer, and you’ll see that the opposite is true. The very word “chaos” essentially means “an apparent state of randomness with the presence of an underlying order”. Think about the intertwined postal networks, telecommunications networks, street networks, social networks, food networks. Think about the logistical nightmare of supplying all the many things we consume on a daily basis; every single thing needs to be prototyped, tested, packed, inventoried, advertised, distributed, sold, consumed and disposed. That’s essentially what everyone is working toward: to offer a sevice to some one or some thing. Compare the sheer complexity of this life with the alternative: a completely barren desert lifeless landscape. Think about all the bits of information that we’ve created and stored in the world; think about the position of every single atom or molecule in both scenarios and then decide which one is more complex. Which one has had more order applied to it?

Consider the following new definition of life: any self-generating system which decreases local entropy levels over the long term. Why do I stipulate “self-generated”? Because artificial machines aren’t really considered alive until they can self-assemble or reproduce; once they become self regenerating, I’m sure they’ll be considered rudimentary forms of life too.

Large businesses [ironically called “organisations”] grow, react and in a sense spawn new companies. Still, these are not considered alive in the traditional sense because they are not self-generating. [Incidently- that could be one reason for the failure of large companies; there is so much re-organising going on, not enough work gets done!]

Viruses usually provide an example of a hazy distinction between life and non-life. In the traditional sense, viruses cannot reproduce on their own; hence some people do not consider them as valid lifeforms.

Using the entropy definition of life, parasitic viruses are only alive in terms of the whole system -when combined with the host organism. In other words, when you include the host as a part of the system, then they are both alive; if not, then the virus is ‘dead’. Like any parasite, you cannot define their existence without looking at the host as well. In my opinion, a virus is still alive in a sense since it replicates the genetic code (just another form of information).

I think we need to look more at entire systems, not just solitary organisms. You cannot draw black-and-white conclusions about life without looking at the surrounding environment. Highly constrained niche ecosystems are alive but very interdependent. If you remove one individual species it often cannot survive on its own. Indeed, remove just one ‘keystone’ species and you risking collapsing the entire ecosystem.

All this is not to say we break the second law of thermodynamics or that we are somehow exempt from its effects. Quite the contrary. There is an external all-pervading neutralising force which constantly acts against us.

Entropy manifests itself in various ways by attempting to randomise us. We experience both cellular and molecular degradation. The action of foreign chemicals & UV rays first come to mind. Cosmic rays, X-Rays, etc directly tamper with our DNA code. The bus that flattens you on the street has done a good job of increasing your entropy state. In fact, it seems that intelligent life itself has the potential to completely self-destruct. We’ve become too good at killing everything and we risk our own survival. I believe that this is entropy playing an unconscious revenge-effect type of role. Nope, it’s not some kind of god. Some people call this effect irony, some call it Karma.

I’ll admit that I am definitely not the first person to think about the connection between life & entropy in this way although I’m proud to say that did come to this conclusion independently … only 64 years too late!

American biochemist Albert Lehninger, argues that “living organisms preserve their internal order by taking from their surroundings free energy, in the form of nutrients or sunlight, and returning to their surroundings an equal amount of energy as heat and entropy.”

Ville Kaila and Arto Annila of the University of Helsinki describe how evolution explores possible paths to level differences in energy densities and so increase entropy most rapidly. Thus, an organism serves as an energy transfer mechanism, and beneficial mutations allow successive organisms to transfer more energy within their environment.

We are told very early on that this law cannot be broken. I think you know the one thing that ‘breaks’ this rule. Life. Life itself does not seem random. However, it certainly seems chaotic. But if you’ve read about chaos theory, it talks about “order in disorder”. What may seem disordered and random may in fact have an underlying order to it. Be it an international airport or the phenomenon we call the weather. It’s controlled by a simple set of rules, but all of these interacting together make it extremely difficult to predict. Some would say impossible. It takes someone like the mentalist to know what’s really going on.

This blog is essentially information (which is order) presented as a series of words (ideas). You could easily convert this paragraph into binary for example. Then it looks very ordered indeed. How am I able to do that?

01011001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01110010 01100101 01100001 01100100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100010 01101111 01101111 01101011 00100000 01101110 01101111 01110111 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01111001 01100101 01110100 00100000 01100010 01101111 01110101 01101110 01100100 00100000 01100010 01111001 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110011 01100101 01100011 01101111 01101110 01100100 00100000 01101100 01100001 01110111 01110011 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01110010 01101101 01101111 01100100 01111001 01101110 01100001 01101101 01101001 01110011 0101110 00100000 01010100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100010 01101111 01101111 01101011 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100101 01110011 01110011 01100101 01101110 01110100 01101001 01100001 01101100 01101100 01111001 00100000 01101001 01101110 01100110 01101111 01110010 01101101 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 00100000 0101000 01101111 01110010 01100100 01100101 01110010 0101001 00100000 01110000

A thermodynamicist will talk about open and closed systems. That I need to look at the bigger picture, the net energy gain, not just the gross product. The net energy lost is the food and drink which I consume or ‘burn’ and convert into heat, thought and finger movement. That in order for me to produce a certain amount of order, I have taken it from somewhere else and created a net waste. Rest assured, my brain is working overtime right now. I certainly don’t feel that efficient. I do feel very much alive though, writing this. That’s precisely my point. I have taken energy and consciensously used it to make order. It doesn’t matter about the size of the ‘container’ for this open/closed system. I am the container. Me.

Nonliving things simply cannot do this. Crystals grow by minimising surface energy (dendrites).

At the edge of life you will find chaos.

While it’s difficult to appreciate the nature of order. Male bower birds collect and hord blue items in an attempt to impress their mate. That is ordering directly at work.

Ants create ordered colonies, much in the same way as we create cities. The size does not matter. Whether they are aware of themselves also seems irrelevant, although they can certainly communicate via chemical means.

If and when a computer is able to replicate itself in the form of a robot, as in the terminator, it will become a formidable source of life indeed. One can imagine an insatiable being whose only purpose in life is to make “order out of disorder”. Think along the lines of the Borg in Star Trek or the Simulants in the popular TV series Red Dwarf.

Do you know what the scariest thing is? – self realisation

“Do you know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world, to not know why you’re here. That’s… it’s just an awful feeling.” -Elija Price from the movie “Unbreakable”.

But what happens if and when you can’t seem to find your own unique, specific niche? I’m talking about major areas of your life, like employment. Your ideal partner? Your own distinct style? Your identity? Can these two states of overchoice and underchoice lead to mental health problems? What happens to your mood when there are an infinite number of things you could possibly do with your life? Do you begin to block everything out, deny existence of something?

I’m sure that for everyone, there are moments when it all seems like it is too much to bear. It seems to me that in this new information age, a lot of people are withdrawing into their shells, refusing to face the true reality of this world. Perhaps because of their online internet experiences. It’s called “future shock”.

We’re always reminded that people who can’t find a worthwhile niche are not much use to society. In this way, perhaps one completely natural & previously redundant “coping mechanism” (stemming for overchoice) is the occurrence of mild depression. We all know that chronically depressed people are obviously more prone to suicide. They consciously choose to eliminate themselves from their own suffering. It is a way of dealing with their own extreme level of internal conflict, self-pity, guilt and their perceived burden on society. But what if it is actually a subconscious choice that has already been programmed into them? Are the peers who have failed to recognise and treat their condition (just like they would any individual with another sickness) partly to blame?

Are we all making “nano-niches” for ourselves, in an attempt to fit into this new highly-customised, choice-oriented advanced consumer society? We now join online local communities such as forums, blog directories, facebook, dating sites, chat rooms. We subscribe to newsletters, RSS feeds. We can search for whatever we like with google, almost without limits. As individuals, we’re always searching to redefine ourselves, to find our life purpose.


No one can or should tell you what to do with your life. There is only one person who can decide and determine what you should do and that is you.

If you’re living your life trying to please someone else, you’re probably wasting your time. Sooner or later you will come to the realisation that the best way to please other people (such as your parents, your partner or your friends) is to be yourself. It’s fine to ask people’s opinions and sometimes they can know you more than you think you know yourself. I would say try and listen to that inner voice. Sometimes it is so soft, so quiet, it’s hard to hear it above the noise.

I often find myself asking these questions:

  • Who do I want to be?
  • Who do I want to become?
  • What do I want to do with my life?

When you are told very early on that you can do anything –to be anyone– choosing your own career path is never easy. So despite my little spiel about self-realisation above, this is my advice, should you choose to accept it:

Pretend you are retired. What would you do with your time — when time is most important to you?

Or Imagine you don’t get paid anything to actually work. What would you do with yourself then?

[look at the japanese overlapping circles]

 

 

Why I have no faith

Do you know what’s a thousand times scarier than “spending an eternity in hell”?

Realising that you only have one life. That death is final. That you could die at any time. That you could die and not accomplish the things in life that you set out to accomplish.

I think life is a very special gift. That’s why I try to make the most of my life here and now. I don’t waste it with faith. I don’t waste it with prayers. I just try to get on it with it.

I do know that if I die slowly I’m going to be questioning myself whether I tried to make a difference in the world. I think there is only so much we can accomplish in one day.

I think it about death all the time. I think about being on my deathbead. I wonder what I’ll think about. I wonder whether I think I’ll think I’ve had a useful life.

And that is why I started this blog. I don’t want to die without sharing my thoughts with the world.

How do I feel about trophy hunters?

Warning. This is a big, long rant which I saved for posterity.

Personally, I think that trophy hunters should have a bounty placed on THEIR head… of about $500,000 – $1.0 million. To see how they like being shot at (and at any time of day when they might be taking a piss without their weapon for example).

What annoys me even more than the bastard that shot Cecil and his stupid face with over-whitened teeth, is all the stupid dumb bitches lying down smiling with dead animals. And propping dead animals’ limp heads up so they make a ‘better’ photograph. Somehow I don’t think that is an appropriate image to be taking for posterity.

From my perspective, this shows a complete and utter lack of respect for the animal. It shows that they’d rather gloat over a corpse than to respect another sentient, feeling being. So this to me is truly unethical. It’s immoral.

Where does this lack of respect originate? Well, I have a hunch that many hunters have a religious upbringing. And religious people always think that humans are somehow ‘above’ animals. They think that humans are superior beings. But the fact is, we are all animals!
Once you accept that we too are animals (because as David Suzuki says, we’re certainly not plants), then you can start to see how out-dated trophy hunting really is.

To me, lying down with a dead animal is a bit like lying down with a slain human! Except it’s worse! It’s worse because there might be 7,000 of those animals in existence in the known universe. And yet there are 7,000,000,000+ humans! So naturally I respect the animals about a million times more, don’t I?

How do I feel about the lying down with dead animals thing? Well, they are the only women that I would love to punch in the face. Or shoot in the back. That’s how I feel and unfortunately it would be illegal to act on that…
But you know anger and hatred doesn’t solve much, so I prefer to put their behaviour down to their upbringing. Trophy hunters can’t help what their parents taught them about morality and purpose in life. So it’s probably not even their fault. But I think if they are truly good people they should definitely learn something from it. Rather than be controversial, I think they should just go “Oh I didn’t know this would piss off a million people so much. Right. I better not do that any more.”

And that’s the thing with the Cecil killer. He completely justified his actions. He’s not a 19 year old teenager. And apparently he wants to continue trophy hunting!

I don’t even think people are annoyed that Cecil was a celebrity. There’s more to it than that. Cecil was merely the last straw in something that is coming under increasing pressure globally. I can assure you that the average citizen on Earth does not want to see ANY lions hunted, famous or otherwise. The fact that he was a celebrity is just the fucking icing on the cake as far as poaching is concerned.

So I don’t like his response. It’s pathetic. It’s like arguing that killing non-celebrity lions is okay. But it’s not. I think lions can and should take care of themselves. There were loads more lions, elephants and tigers, etc before humans came along. Humans are the ones that decimated their population. Before humans, lions and tigers ‘managed’ themselves just fine. The only thing that needs ‘managing’ are poachers and trophy hunters!

There’s still more to it than that though. As an Australian, I actually have an affinity for the underdog. And the underdog is the rhino. It’s the giraffe. It’s the lion. I have an affinity for the underdog. Because the odds are stacked against them and they definitely stand less chance of survival than a bunch of cowardly humans with high-powered rifles. As if human encroachment isn’t enough for them to deal with! So I have an affinity for the underdog, because they are out-gunned.

A much fairer fight would be to go hunting with your fingernails filed into little points!

I can understand people wanting to eat deer and other game for their meat. I can understand that and I can accept that it happens on a daily/hourly/minute-by-minute basis. I get it. I get that people eat meat. I too was brought up to eat meat! We ate meat every single day. And I still sometimes eat meat. Although I have to say that I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to.

And yes I can even go so far as to admit that some hunters do seem to care about keeping nature alive. That’s not something I was previously willing to accept. It’s true that they pay for hunting and fishing licenses… it’s true that they are contributing more to conservation efforts than the average Joe (certainly not the average conservationist or activist though who donates money and asks for NOTHING in return).

What I truly don’t understand is people wanting to stuff dead animals in the name of conservation. Especially endangered animals. Why? I see this as no different to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi who allegedly stored his victims’ heads in freezers — to preserve them so that he could look at them from time to time. But even Colonel Gaddafi had his good points! Even Colonel Gaddafi didn’t take selfies with his victims!! Even Colonel Gaddafi had his limits!!! Am I right?

The way I see it, ‘taxidermy is preservation’ not ‘conservation’. It wouldn’t bother me if the practice was completely outlawed. It’s probably illegal to stuff human beings. And likewise, it should be illegal to stuff endangered animals.
You asked how do I feel about it? Well, it’s a good thing that dentist isn’t living in in my suburb. Because it makes me so seething mad I have already committed all manner of horrible thought crimes. If it was legal, I’m sure there are many people that would want to torture the dude. Like it or not, that’s how it makes thousands of people feel.

The thing is, I know if Walter Palmer was my neighbour, I’m not sure I could stop myself from blowing up his letterbox at the very least. I’d just be plotting and scheming all sorts of Karma events. Possibly the letterbox would be sprayed with expanding foam. Possibly he would have nails propped up against his car tyres so that when he drives off he gets four instant flat tyres. Possibly there would be loads more sabotage events… you get the idea. Of course, that’s just how I feel. :-)
If Walter Palmer was my neighbour, I would undoubtedly have to move. Because, yes, basically I feel like torturing the little bastard myself. Does that anger come across in the text? The feelings you have asked for? I hope so. I hope it makes trophy hunters think twice. Because I’m predicting that before too long, they’re going to find themselves hunted.

So the last thing I am going to say is that I think that if trophy hunters GENUINELY cared about the environment, if they were really ‘concerned’ they’d be better off donating that $50,000 or $60,000 directly to an environmental charity.
They’re prime mission is not to save the world or make it a better place. They’re prime mission is not to feed African families. If it were, they would simply donate that money to Oxfam instead. Wouldn’t they?
So I think hunters in general should really be the ones to distinguish and distance themselves from trophy hunting, and fast. Before people start getting hurt. Because the world is ever-more connected. And what went on in the 1980’s doesn’t cut it in the age of information.

The only constant is change.

Today I’d like to talk about change. We live in a changing world. And yet most people seem to be very afraid of change…

When people talk about ‘change’, it’s usually on ordinary time scales: milliseconds, seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months and years.

Unless you’re a scientist, you rarely talk about change on timescales involving decades, centuries or millennia. Do you?

I’ve noticed most people don’t like change. People get all anxious whenever anyone speaks of change. We get anxious about changes outside of our control. We get anxious too about changes that are self-imposed.

Here’s the thing: most people are afraid of change when it is too great for them to cope. So they block it out, go into denial and distract themselves by doing something else like watching TV. [Read more…]

Kelvinator Foodarama

Here’s an interesting video for advertisers, marketers + product designers.

Last week one of my connections posted something about this being the “lemon age” of appliances. This got me thinking…

I had an old Kelvinator when I was growing up in the 80s. And yes, ever since then, the life expectancy of fridges has sorely decreased…

Ever since about the turn of the century, I’ve always wanted one those classic old vintage Kelvinators. Not for the style, just for the longevity. But I never did anything about it.

I must be getting old or something, because spurred on by “the age of lemons” post, tomorrow, that dream will become a reality! I’ll be the proud new owner of a working* vintage Kelvinator fridge.

Not a rebuilt modern ‘retro’ model. A fully original single upright “round shoulder” model. From the late 1950s.

These really should be in the MoMA collection or something if they aren’t already. For some reason I can’t find much info on them…

*In fact if you look inline, they all appear to be working still.

I i irony

Why do we try to minimise human physical work by any means possible?

I‘ve noticed that Western society totally idolises an athletic body shape but resents the physical exertion required to attain it.

As far as I’m concerned, every time you switch on any form of electrical equipment, you’re basically signing an invisible contract that reads:

“I accept that as a consequence of using this device, I risk becoming physically and/or mentally unhealthy.”

We choose to avoid using our muscles at each and every opportunity and then suddenly wonder why we’re obese. We drive to work, drive home and then drive to the gymnasium (if at all).

So many have become too lazy to cook or make anything for ourselves – we invent power tools & kitchen utensils to do it all for us. Take this scenario for instance:

Rather than whip a cake using a wooden spoon the old-fashioned way, we’d now sooner collectively sit in front of a computers all day long, earn enough money for a mechanical cake mixer which can do it for us (basically employing a whole host of product design engineers, entrepreneurs, the sales & marketing department, and everyone else who works in the wholesale and retail chain).

But in so doing, have we really saved any time? And is it really any easier? It certainly doesn’t sound any more efficient. That’s because it’s not!

Even so, we’re now sending a global message that we’d rather do things this way and “bugger the consequences”. We don’t even question why we don’t do it the old way anymore.

We basically do it because everyone else does. Is it the fault of employers who continually expect a higher standard of work? Or does the blame lie with the consumers themselves, who insatiably demand “the latest and greatest”.

We become irritated just thinking about the repercussions. What repercussions? We blindly swallow some kind of pill to mask the long-term consequences of doing things which are unnatural… be it for cholesterol, obesity, stress, or some other kind of “disease”.

Perhaps it is our own mode of thinking which is the true disease?

Despite all this, some of us would still rather be ‘fat’ & ‘schizophrenic’ than utilise our muscles. Is laziness a human condition, or what? These days, I don’t think of laziness as laziness, but rather, the ultimate form of sustainability. Perhaps laziness is good or us humans in the long term? Perhaps it is a long-term srvival strategy?

There is currently no international standardisation for comparing the mental health of different countries. Granted, this is a difficult thing to measure. But I’m willing to bet that there is a direct correlation between the incidence of mental health problems in a society and the amount of energy it consumes per capita.

As we rely on artificial machines to a greater extent, we also now tend to isolate ourselves from our natural environment. It’s as if the very purpose of technology is to extract our dependence on -our very existence in- nature itself. We are fast becoming co-dependent with modern technology. Take away our machines and I expect that chaos would quickly ensue. At the same time, modern man is writhe with mental crises; as a species, it seems as if modern [westernised] man is failing to adapt to an environment which we ourselves have created.

If ever I had a conspiracy theory, this would be it: that we are training the next generation to live without the presence of the natural world. We encourage this behaviour, either consciously or subconsciously, because we expect that the natural world as we know it won’t last very much longer. I find this thought horrendously depressing.

People today entertain themselves indoors with computer programs and plasma screens. It’s not real entertainment, it’s virtual entertainment. We even eat packaged, artificial food (okay although a part of it might actually be real, it certainly looks 100% synthesised).

We’ve augmented our communications with technology so much, that we are fast losing the ability to communicate naturally. We’re becoming completely dysfunctional. I don’t even need to go into it. Pretty soon, we won’t even be able to survive without anything artificial. Imagine, a species so ‘advanced’, that it can’t survive without its own creations. I find that incredibly ironic. Well, I suppose that’s why I call this blog Vida Enigmatica (Strange Life).

Ain’t life ironic – we can’t survive without technology now?

What I think of ‘Lord’ Christopher Monckton.

I‘ve become tired of being ‘nice’. So two years ago, okay, I got hypnotised. And this is basically the result of that. Now I call it like I see it. I don’t really care if I offend people. If they want to be stupid and remain ignorant, then that’s there perogative. Fine by me.

But don’t expect me to shut up and listen to you without calling you out on it. What am I talking about? This is what I am talking about. It is pretty hard to watch.
What kind of BULLSHIT is this? Seriously. The first thing I do is look up people’s credibility. And what do I see with this “Lord Muck” fellow? I see a degree in classics (languages). And another one in journalism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I don’t see any science education anywhere in his CV.

[Read more…]

The coal debate

Ex scientist here. Dr. qualified. (like that even matters today)
No we most certainly should NOT be relying on coal!! How many times do scientists have to tell you this??!! For one thing, coal is not renewable. It’s going to run out you know. Maybe not in the next few decades. But in a couple of centuries it will. Then what?!! But quite apart from that, the really clever scientists are telling you to keep it in the ground! Are you politicians all DEAF, or what? Hello global warming!
I know it’s hard for you to accept something that you don’t understand. But how many people know how and why their mobile phone works? Or their computer? Or their car? Eh?
You have enough sunshine in QLD to power that state for the next… 5 billion years!!!! It’s a no brainer. FFS living in this country is becoming embarrassing.
You politicans might know about money and rules and regulation, but you know sweet FA about how the world works. I.e. Physics and chemistry. Here’s a tip. Kindly look up the surface temperature of the planet Venus. That planet is hotter than it should be considering it’s proximity to the sun. It’s at least 30 degrees hotter than Mercury for Pete’s sake (and Mercury is MUCH closer to the Sun!). What’s the difference? Well, for one thing, Venus has a predominantly CO2 atmosphere. It’s the original greenhouse planet. Heck, it’s probably a hundred °C hotter than it should be because of that CO2. Now I suggest you politicians start taking notice of my fellow scientists… because otherwise you’re going to be even more out of touch than you are now. Les out
its not politically correct to say global “warming”, because we have no idea what its actually doing, so just to be safe . every social justice warrior knows that, you have to say climate “change” now to muddy the waters , or you will be socially ostracized. but at least you do agree that its the sun that drives climate, like on venus, and not human activities. but we should stop selling our coal to china, a brutal communist dictatorship, and others , after all we`re going to need it here to for some few hundred years to power our cities, what will we do when it runs out , our childrens childrens children will need it , unless one of these genius scientists can invent a better solution that wont cripple our nation and cause millions of deaths like solar and wind will
I think you completely missed my point. I was trying to point out that atmosphere also affects climate, not just the proximity to the sun.

[Read more…]

The coming super struggle, by Alvin Toffler:

THE COMING SUPER-STRUGGLE

The need for new political institutions exactly parallels our need for new family, educational, and corporate institutions as well. It is deeply wired into our search for a new energy base, new technologies, and new industries. It reflects the upheaval in communications and the need to restructure relationships with the non-industrial world. It is, in short, the political reflection of accelerating changes in all these different spheres.

Without seeing these connections, it is impossible to make sense of the headlines around us. For today the single most important political conflict is no longer between rich and poor, between top-dog and underdog ethnic groups, or even between capitalist and communist. The decisive struggle today is between those who try to prop up and preserve industrial society and those who are ready to advance beyond it. This is the super-struggle for tomorrow.

[Read more…]

A timely extract from a book called “The 3rd Wave” by Alvin Toffler.

Two apparently contrasting images of the future grip the popular imagination today. Most people—to the extent that they bother to think about the future at all—assume the world they know will last indefinitely. They find it difficult to imagine a truly dif- ferent way of life for themselves, let alone a totally new civilization. Of course they recognize that things are changing. But they assume today’s changes will somehow pass them by and that nothing will shake the familiar economic framework and political structure. They confidently expect the future to continue the present.

This straight-line thinking comes in various packages. At one level it appears as an unexamined assumption lying behind the decisions of businessmen, teachers, parents, and politicians. At a more sophisticated level it comes dressed up in statistics, computerized data, and forecasters’ jargon. Either way it adds up to a vision of a future world that is essentially “more of the same”—Second Wave industrialism writ even larger and spread over more of this planet.

Second Wave ideologues routinely lament the breakup of mass society. Rather than seeing this enriched diversity as an opportunity for human development, they attach it as “fragmentation” and “balkanization.” But to reconstitute democracy in Third Wave terms, we need to jettison the frightening but false assumption that more diversity automatically brings more tension and conflict in society.

Indeed, the exact reverse can be true: If 100 people all desperately want the same brass ring, they may be forced to fight for it. On the other hand, if each of the 100 has a different objective, it is far more rewarding for them to trade, cooperate, and form symbiotic relationships. Given appropriate social arrangements, diversity can make for a secure and stable civilization.

— Alvin Toffler, The 3rd Wave. 1980.

The true value of biodiversity.

Without insects, it has been said that most of humanity would die within a few months. Without trees and phytoplankton and thousands of other species with chlorophyll, we would all die.

Knowing that, I just can’t understand why billionaires such as Bill Gates are so intent on alleviating poverty in the 3rd world above all else. They make that their priority. In my opinion, it makes more sense to me ot protect nature first, and then when we have that sorted, let’s see if this planet can comfortably support more than 7 billion people.

So I think that environment should definitely be funded first. And then people. I have always thought that. Why do I think that? It’s not because I am cruel. It’s not because I don’t like people. It’s because people do not live in isolated bubbles. People depend on nature.

I think most people don’t appreciate this, but there’s another angle to valuing biodiversity (besides being fundamental for our own survival).

And it’s this. We still don’t really know how embryos form and develop. Sure we can characterise each of the stages of blastulation. We can draw little pictures of each step along the way. But it’s a lot harder to know how and why embryonic folding occurs. So what are there are underlying reasons that each stage of development occurs when and where it does?

I mean, it’s not really a ‘miracle’. Scientists don’t accept ‘miracles’ as answers. There are chemical and physical reasons why cells spontaneously split into two halves. A cell doesn’t just split into two because it feels like it. And there are chemical and physical reasons why this occurs. And from what little I have read on the subject in the book “How the leopard changed it’s spots”, it’s not due to the DNA molecules alone. In actual fact, the first splitting of a cell is caused by a concentration gradient that is set up inside the cell’s plasma. And according to this book, it’s due to flluctuations in calcium concentrations within that first cell.

Okay. Now we are getting somewhere. You might then ask, “Well what causes those fluctations then?“. Most likely, I would say, gravity. Because gravity is a force that acts in one direction relatively to a cell. So there are underlying reasons as to how embryos proceed to develop and they are not always to do with DNA alone.

And those are the real answers that science seeks. It’s not good enough to ask “which genes cause which traits?”. A real scientist wants to know how genes work. How do the chemical variations in a strand of encoded DNA produce the morphological changes? Now, I’m only talking very basically about this subject. It’s an extremely superficial discussion. And so if you’re a developmental biologist or a genetic engineer and you’re reading this, you’re probably laughing at me.

Where am I going with this? Well, until we know *exactly* what causes a rhinos eye to form where it does, or what causes a tiger’s stripes, or the forces that shape an elephant’s tusk, well, I think we owe it to nature to protect all of these things. Because they are a vault of information that can unlock life’s secrets. If we knew the answer to that, then we’d have at least earned the title of cleverest species.

Imagine if we could ‘program’ certain trees genetically to display a road signs such as a speed limits with differently coloured bark. Imagine if you could reprogram the tree to automatically change its bark pattern and display a different speed zone at differnt times of the day? That is all possible.

sustainable morphogenesis.

And I don’t simply mean “what genes are found in a rhino or a monkey”. I mean, what is it about those genes that controls protein folding? If we could create our own strand of DNA, could we predict what the resulting organism looks like?

From what little I have read on the subject, it’s not just DNA. The patterns and shapes seen in nature are caused by physical and chemical forces. Because one day it might be possible to make whatever shape we want at the mere press of a button. Imagine if we could simply grow an organic skyscraper. Right now I don’t think we are ready for that.

Just today, I learned that biology may even be taking advantage of quantum effects.

Even then, all these species are beneficial to us in terms of mental health. We also owe it to this world not to simply destroy everything in our path.

Bradley Manning

And my inspiration these last few days has been none other than Bradley Manning. Reading through the chat logs, it’s clear that he has some issues – yes I’ll certainly admit to that. Perhaps it is because he was basically a social outcast that he himself felt betrayed. The irony is that a man so small [physically] could do so much ‘damage’. If anyone, Lamo is the real traitor / liar here.

To me he is one heck of a courageous and empathic individual. I believe that yes he knew the shit would hit the fan, but he had the balls to do it anyway. He put himself in the place of those innocent men and children in Iraq and that my friends is highly commendable. It shows perspective. And perspective is what the US is in dire need of at the moment.

The terms ‘betrayal’ and ‘traitor’ should only be used if he attacked the US, which he did not. I mean, did he join the Taliban, take a gun and start shooting at US soldiers? Did he sell weapons to them? I think not! So “aiding the innocent” is more like it…

Oh and why the heck were my wikipedia edits about Bradley Manning’s troublesome early life promptly removed? That does influence his actions as “experience affects behaviour”. Every sociologist knows that. There’s clearly a major cover-up / conspiracy going on here. Why the heck is there no jury in this trial? Is it because they would be split? I think so. Seems to me that yes the US is involved in war crimes, yes they are breaching several of the Geneva Conventions. And no I won’t be visiting there again.

Why do I seem to ‘hate’ the rich?

Ecologists have always said that one of the greatest threats to our natural environment is habitat destruction.

One of the main gripes I have against ultra-high net worth individuals is that they cause the most environmental degradation of all groups on this planet and they don’t tend to offset this with direct contributions back towards the natural environment.

I think the following advertisement nicely sums up the ‘attitude’ that some rich people seem to have:

bentleyfinger

So the reasons that I question ‘rich’ people are:

  1. Because rich people are usually responsible for more environmental destruction than poor people, they have brought about more degradative environmental changes.
  2. Because rich people are primarily motivated by money, they are more likely can be bought out (corrupted) with even more money.
  3. When the rich do give, they tend to give back to humanitarian causes. And if they do give, is it really enough of an offset? Not always, but often. One exception I have found is Mohammad Bin Zayeed; the man started his own species conservation fund. Another is the Betty and Gordon Moore Foundation.

Why is this a problem? Well, because the only physical thing (that I know of) that stops our Earth from becoming uninhabitable is all the life forms found on Earth that stabilise everything for us. The biosphere.

Any biologist will tell you that, realistically, what is going to happen is that as nature continues to “bite back” with ever-greater intensity, productivity (and therefore profit) is just going to go down eventually… it has to. It must! Less biodiversity is ultimately going to lead to less profit. Do all investors and directors of the board actually realise that? Do they realise that infinite growth on a planet with finite resources is a physical impossibility?

So not only will it be harder to make profit feeling the increasing effects of climate change (like with the recent New York blizzard for example), but more damage will be likely to occur due to storms and other weather extremes. I’ll say it again. Less biodiversity is ultimately going to lead to less profit. Why do I say that? Why do I think it will lead to less profit? Read on..

So we know that there are other planets out there. We’re not living on the only planet. Planetary geologists like to compare the planet Earth with Mars and Venus. All of these three planets are very similar in size and yet they have distinctly different environments. These other planets show us what is possible. As of today, both of these other two planets are essentially uninhabitable. Yes we could put a person on Mars and they might survive for a while inside an artificially heated, pressurised and oxygenated atmosphere, but would they be self sufficient? The answer is no definitely not at first.

As is, nothing grows there on Mars. Nothing. Not even the most basic life form. So that means no food. Worse, there is no water. And worse still is that there is no oxygen.

What about Venus then? Well again, even if we could get there, even if we could live there, most businesses would be more viable back here on planet Earth than on the planet Venus. Wouldn’t they? Maybe the exception would be companies that need to utlise lots of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid.

Let’s take sulfuric acid. Let’s go with that example. Sure its useful to us here on Earth for all sorts of industrial purposes. So say we started to mine sulfuric acid on the planet venus. Even then we’d first need to get robots over there, wouldn’t we? And then we’d need to get the sulfuric acid back here on Earth.

But what are the transportations costs? How much fuel is burned? And doesn’t burning all that rocket fuel fuck up the Earth’s atmosphere even further? Well yes it does. What about if the Venus mining corporation had to pay carbon credits on all the tonnes of rocket fuel? And once there, how would the rocket get back to Earth? It would have to take enough fuel and liquid oxygen for the entire return journey. Because there is no oxygen on Venus. So now you tell me. Would it be a profitable enterprise?

Think about this (and keep in mind that I am one of the few scientists who have also set up my own business, so I do know a thing or two about profitability). Well in my professional scientific and business opinion, if you wanted to set up a business on the planet Mars, it would be more economically viable to locate your business at the South pole instead.

Why do I even bring this up here? What’s this got to do with rich people? What’s this got to do with money? Well, I don’t know of any businesses that are viable on either the planet Mars or Venus. Do you? Not even the most basic lemonade stand would work on the planet Mars or Venus. Would it? And rich people tend to forget this fact.

The newest space mission is estimated to cost $1.5 trillion dollars. That is a lot of investment money for anyone. So where is the ‘ROI’ going to come from that lot? Here’s what I wrote in another post of mine:

To me, it’s the most expensive & inefficient way to create the most boring food menu imagineable. Really. I mean, just think about how much those first few thousand lettuce leaves are going to cost! A billion dollars per lettuce leaf. That’s really great NASA. Thanks.

You see, if we had to pay for our oxygen supply, our water supply and our food supply down here on Earth like we would have to on Mars, then I’m sure that most businesses on Earth would become bankrupt within a matter of weeks. So economists (and rich people) are forgetting to take nature’s services into account. And when they do, I think they’ll realise that a forest is a very valuable place indeed.

 

“Typical liberal moron”

So just today, someone once again called us ‘liberals’ morons. Again.

image-jpg

 

First of all, I’d like to point out to Americans that in Australia, the liberal party is actually the conservative party. The labor party is the one that swings to the left. So get your facts straight.

I hope you are one of those republicans and you are reading this. I really do. I’ve tried to spam this blog post with conservative keywords in the hope that more of you will find it and actually use a greater proportion of the right hand side of your brain.

Anyway, I think you’ll find that the majority (not all, but most) creative people ARE liberal.

So that means artists, musicians, writers, actors, 3D animators, graphic designers, industrial designers, fashion designers, interior designers, architects, art directors, creative directors, marketing and advertising gurus, chefs, comedians, photographers, hairdressers, dancers … you know… all the people who make life interesting. Not to mention many scientists, psychologists and health care workers as well.

What that means is, who do you actually go to when you do any of the following: read a book; watch movies (other than old westerns); listen to music (anthing but country music that is); buy nice clothes (including designer suits); buy furniture; go out to a restaurant; give birth to a child; watch a comedy; take a taxi; get a haircut; need a lawyer; need a psychologist; go out for a drink at a bar or pub; set foot in a nicely designed home; watch any kind of entertainment.

What music do you listen to when you feel like cheering up? Who do you go to when you want to sell more widgets? Who do you go to when you want advice on branding or corporate identity? How about you stop calling people “liberal morons” eh? Do you not know how to compose an entire sentence without insulting someone? Because it’s becoming tiresome. Really. If anyone has made the Divided States of America, it is you.

I hate to say this, but without liberal people, your society would look a lot like the USSR. You know: communist! Not that there’s anything wrong with that either. It’s just… a bit too depressing by all accounts. [Read more…]

Dance to the tension of a world on edge

Have you ever noticed that we humans are becoming ever more stressed?

[/dropcap]W[/dropcap]e live in a world where the tiniest provocative remark can result in the most horrific retaliatory acts of violence imaginable. Look the wrong way, say or do the wrong thing and you could be the next target. Why is that so?

But many of us still don’t know why. “He must be crazy”, they’ll say. Why are people so stressed? Many people still can’t answer this.

Sometimes it is said that society itself is decaying, but no one knows why. I know that even when I studied science, I could never figure it out. I could never seem to connect the dots.

And then one day while I was travelling in Tonga, I came across this book with an intruiging title called “future shock”. I read it in about two or three days. It completely altered my world view.

[Read more…]

When is donald trump going to be president?

CORRECT ANSWER: well, assuming he hasn’t been assassinated yet, January, 20th, 2017.

And now that I’ve got you here with my keyword spamming trickery, I’ll spend the rest of this post talking about carbon dioxide with respect to climate change — and how it’s the volume that counts.

I know half of you are interested to know “when donald drumpf is going to be president” (for the right reasons). And half of you are interested to know “when donald trump is going to be president” (for the wrong reasons)1.

Yes. That’s right. This blog partly makes up or all the climate change deniers. And it’s precisely YOU I’m targeting here.

So. I’ve noticed that people always talk of gas emissions in terms of mass, which severely understates the quantity…

Exactly how much space does 1 tonne of CO2 gas occupy? You only need to look at molar volumes of gases:

People talk of gas emissions in terms of mass, which understates the quantity…  But exactly how much space does 1 tonne of CO2 gas occupy? You only need to look at molar volumes of gases:

1 tonne = 1 million grams.
44g of CO2 = 1 mole = 24.5L of gas (at 25ºC and standard atmospheric pressure)
Therefore, just 1 tonne of CO2 gas occupies 557 thousand litres. (= 22.7 kmoles or 557 m3)

Taking the figure above, annual global CO2 emission at 7910 million metric tons (7,910,000,000), multiply that by the volume occupied by one tonne (557,000), and we come up with 4.4 thousand trillion litres of CO2 gas produced every year.

We spew 4,400,000,000,000,000 litres of CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere every single year.

We do not live in an infinite space, not in area, nor in volume. Yes, gravity sucks back all those CO2 molecules to planet earth. So I take the thickness of the atmosphere, from wikipedia:

I think we as people have forgotten the following important factoids:

50% of the atmosphere by mass is below 5.6 km altitude (18,000 ft).
75% of the atmosphere’s mass is within 11 km of the planetary surface.
90% of the atmosphere is below 16 km (52,000 ft).
99.99997% of the atmosphere is below 100 km (62 mi; 330,000 ft).

And the Earth’s total surface area from another source:

The total area of the Earth is approximately 510 million square kilometres.

My ultra quick calculation of volume of Earth’s atmosphere, up to 100km (yes let’s include all of it) = 51 trillion trillion cubic metres or 51,000 trillion trillion litres. That includes the atmosphere, the stratosphere, the troposphere, the mesosphere -yes, the entire fucking quota.

It appears some people claim that we can produce that much CO2 gas, 4.4 thousand trillion litres every single year, and it no way affects the limited volume of ‘our own’ atmosphere (51,000 trillion trillion litres)! That’s equivalent to an increase of 86 parts per billion CO2 gas every single year.

A few points:

  1. Of course, much of these emmissions are recycled into oxygen by trees and plants during photosynthesis. But while we continue to cut those down that won’t help us with our CO2 problem!!
  2. The upper atmosphere, the stratosphere, is extremely low pressure & doesn’t actually “hold” much gas.
  3. CO2 is 1.5 times denser than air.
  4. Using other estimates of the mass of the Earth’s atmosphere (5 quadrillion metric tonnes) used in the above calculation results in an increase in CO2 concentration of 1.6ppm per year!
  5. The world’s oceans can also dissolve some  CO2, acting like a large reservoir. But here again, there is a limit to how much seawater can take.

Do I even need to elucidate my calculations further? People claim that our  CO2 production has no affect on our precious environment, not even cumulatively! And as an ex-research scientist, that mode of thinking enrages me.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who thinks that our way of life doesn’t affect the environment (climate included) is an idiot. Sorry, but some people still continue believe that we can spew as much CO2 into the air as we want and it will have no long-term effect on the Earth’s climate. 

You only need to look at exactly how much CO2 is produced by man:

Since 1751 roughly 315 billion tons of carbon have been released to the atmosphere from the consumption of fossil fuels and cement production. Half of these emissions have occurred since the mid 1970s. The 2004 global fossil-fuel CO2 emission estimate, 7910 million metric tons of carbon, represents an all-time high and a 5.4% increase from 2003.

Synthetic orange.

Suppose we could obtain two different types of oranges:

  1. Firstly, we can synthesise and assimilate the following chemical compounds:

    limonene, myrcene, valencene, linalool, octanal, decanal, ethyl butyrate, α-ionone, citronellal, and α-sinensal, E-2-octenal, 1-octen-3-ol, Z-4-decenal, E, E-2,4-nonadienal, guaiacol, γ-octalactone, and m-cresol, O-glycosylated flavones, flavonols, phenolic acids, ethyl acetate, 6-C-β-glucosyldiosmin, 6,8-di-C-glucopyranosylapigenin, 6,8-di-C-β-glucosyldiosmin, 2-oxo-L-threo-hexono-1,4- lactone-2,3-enediol, beta carotene, 2-hydroxypropane-1,2,3-tricarboxylic acid and heteropolysaccharide.

    This is my version of an artificial orange, a “chemical cocktail” by the way.

  2. Secondly, we can grow a tree, harvest the fruit, peel the skin and simply eat the orange.

Do you think that these are essentially the same thing? I think that’s a very good question to ask. Do both sources of food essentially provide the same nutrients?

Because I think that although we can synthesise many many complex molecules such as these, we can’t actually ‘manufacture’ a wholly artificial fruit that is identical in every way to a naturally grown one. Can we?

And even though it takes an enormous effort to characterise these natural chemical compounds and synthesise them, and nature does it for free with soil, sunlight, air and water, we still try. Without a plant seed, or a tissue culture sample, or a DNA strand, there is no way we’ll be able to do it either.

What’s my point? Well, without any prior knowledge on the subject of the human digestion process, I’ll make an assumption that the structure of food is needed to aid in both the chemical breakdown of the food and the timely extraction of its nutrients. I’ll bet that introducing the same mixture of concentrated liquid chemicals simultaneously into your gut won’t do your stomach lining any good. Time has shown us that there is always a price to play for taking shortcuts, especially with concentrated synthetic chemicals. Indeed, cancer is now one of the greatest of all threats to our biology – in fact it is now common for people to suffer bowel cancer due to the lack of fibre in their diet.

You might say that my two versions of an ‘orange’ are both essentially the same thing. Certainly while the same constituents may be present in the artificial chemical cocktail, the microstructure of theis “artificial fruit” is completely absent.

But aside from that, who actually wants to eat synthetic food? Do we not have time anymore to simply peel an orange? Or is there something else going on? Something deep, dark and insidious? It is my belief that without even realising it, we’re creating an artificial world for ourselves, with almost no control or direction. As technology invades more and more of our lives it erodes the natural; every part, everything from our food to our transport and even our entertainment are now designed by other people. We seek to study everything and replicate it, including life itself. Why?

What am I saying here? Well, I am just saying that all things considered, I think the natural food sources will always be the healthier than the synthetic alternatives.

“We made it happen.”

Industrial offshore history…

d3b032bd-2fcf-48f1-8e6f-afc1cad912f2-large

WTF am I talking about? What am I whinging about this time?

Yes, I know. This blog is becoming like a diary of my personal life quest to maintain a strong sense of values, ideals that will hopefully lead this planet on to a better future, not a worse one. It’s becoming almost like therapy for me, writing this blog. Truly.

And so whether you’re a regular follower of my blog or a casual reader, here’s yet another whinge for posterity’s sake. Here’s what someone posted on LinkedIn today:

“industrial offshore history we made it happen …..gorgon”

And I really had to bite my tongue this time. Because this dude is a 1st degree connection. They’re talking about this project. I felt like commenting:

What exactly did you do?
Get paid to drill a hole underwater?
Take a blurry photo?
Bleach the reef?
Thanks a lot.
Thanks.

Hello! Global warming not mean anything to you? Hello?! For fuck’s sake. They’re fucking celebrating. *mutters further under breath*

These are the blurry faces, ladies and gentlemen, of seven dimwitted natural gas miners in Western Australia. Eight if you count the idiot who is taking the photo.

These are the lugheads who aren’t listening to the cleverest people today. I’m not talking about me. There are plenty of people who are smarter than me. They just don’t listen. Is it any wonder people are becoming so depressed? Is it?

Yes they may have a lot of braun –that’s pretty obvious from the photo– and they may work very hard in some truly horrible conditions, but they don’t have a functional brain between them. Haven’t got a fucking clue. They are probably be getting paid 100k, 150k or even 200k per annum. But where the fuck is their personal responsibility? Company accountability?

Let me tell you, future person from the year 2350, it barely exists today. It barely exisits. I feel like I’m on a planet full of morons. Can you believe that government authority actually allows this? They allow it and they encourage it. We have solar panels that can be refined from friggin’ beach sand, silicon being one of the most common elements in the Earth’s crust, and an almost endless supply of photos coming from our sun. And people still insist on burning chemicals to get energy now.

Honestly, we’ve got a bunch of lying politicians making their own rules for government. We’ve got stupid nimwits like my local gardener (spraying pesticide all over the place, thinking he’s doing a good job). And we’ve got people being paid shiteloads to ruin mother Earth, which is currently our only fucking home.

Will this blog post eventually get pack to these people? I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m not aiming to be popular. I’ve noticed that people who were remembered in history, they usually faced an uphill battle their whole life. If nothing else it makes me feel better.

I’m trying to reinstate an indigenous tradition. Air, water, food first. Environment first, then business. Not the the other way around. You’d be surprised to learn that 99% of people today have it backwards.

Why I am so concerned about the state of the world.

I am worried and very concerned, yes. My background is originally materials science.

From my perspective, the problem is that there is an environmental cost to every single material that you buy — be it gold, cotton, steel, or whatever. People forget that. The economy may benefit from materialism, but the environment certainly doesn’t.

Now, keep in mind that when I did my degree over 15 years ago, the ‘environment’ wasn’t even really discussed in that course. It was all about the properties and structure of materials.

First off, there is a lot of energy required to make materials. So if the country of manufacture uses coal power to generate their electricity, and they are not offsetting those emissions, then whatever physical goods you buy from them is contributing further to climate change.

Why? Because almost all materials either require either energy, heat, or other chemicals (which, in turn, require heat) in order to produce them. That’s a bit of a worry in itself. Because people are generally becoming more materialistic.

So for instance, hunters that shoot animals and think that is a ‘sustainable’ way of life, well I have news for you. If your gun is made of plastic or metal, where does that come from? It all comes from mines. And plastic comes from oil&gas. And your bullets. What are they made from? That too comes from mines. And the gunpowder contains chemicals like sulfur and potassium. And they have to come from somewhere too. And mines don’t last forever…

Currently, the manufacture of every single synthetic material results in carbon emissions somewhere along the line, if only from the energy that is required to create them. I think the correct term is “embodied energy”. [Read more…]

Green economics

What is happening to the world?

In short, most people refuse to act, because they’re be too busy justifying their need for a high standard of living, blaming governments for the situation, & avoiding the underlying social & environmental crises. This sounds like an inescapable viscous cycle to me.

Yes its all been brought about by greedy 1st world nations. Blatant consumerism- which capitalises on the latest scientific advances and all the while fueled by governments who only think in short term economic gains. The first need is to communicate the problem. The next requirement is change. People are afraid of change, but to me it seems the world is changing for the worse anyway.

Anyone who has read Schumachers book “Small is beautful” will know that over the long term, what we are doing to planet Earth surely must be considered uneconomical. Are people so afraid of change now that they’re willing to bury their heads in the sand about the future repercussions? I think where we’re headed, the changes will be a lot more daunting than the thought of giving up our most prized possessions. Chaos will be surely covered in one of my future articles, but who wants to live in a world without nature?

TRADITIONAL ECONOMIC WORKING PRINCIPLE:

  • There is a general consensus that a fundamental source of wealth is human labour
  • Businesses & Governments maximise profit, consumption and therefore economic growth
  • Employers maximise labour effort (bosses expect their “pound of flesh”)
  • Employees minimise labour effort (to work is viewed as a sacrifice of one’s leisure and comfort; wages being a kind of compensation)

BUDDHIST ECONOMIC PRINCIPLE OF WORK:

  • Work gives each person a chance to utilise and develop their [unique] faculties
  • Work enables humans to overcome their ego-centredness by joining with other people in a common task
  • Work provides the goods and services needed for a becoming existence [creativity activity is vital]

The former, in short, tries to maximise consumption by the optimal pattern of productive effort, while the latter tries to maximise human satisfactions by the optimal pattern of consumption. It is easy to see that the effort needed sustain a way of life which seeks to attain the optimal pattern of consumption is likely to be much smaller than the effort needed to sustain a drive for maximum consumption.

It is not wealth that stands in the way of liberation but the attachment to wealth; not the enjoyment of pleasurable things but the craving for them.

But what can we actually do about it? Firstly, don’t replace things before we need to; repair them if necessary, use them until they can no longer be repaired. Yes, there is some real satisfaction to be gained by owning things that last through time. Do we need the latest 3G phone or mobile electronic device? Buy services, not products.

LinkedIn has hit a new low.

I have been very vocal on LinkedIn defending the Earth. Who speaks for Earth? Animals and plants can’t defend themselves and if miners and developers had their way, there would be no natural spaces left.

I choose LinkedIn because that is the place to influence the most powerful people. Not facebook or snapchat or whatever.

Now it seems LinkedIn has hit a new low. Because last night I was told by Thomas Bohlmann:

“leslie dean brown that is OK Humanity is not going to pay you to live or eat. Time to get real job and make a difference in your life. families lives and make a difference in your community.”— Thomas Bohlmann

Such arrogance. How rude. How inappropriate. It was on this update. Unbelievable that someone would try to undermine anothers’ work choice on a work platform.

I think that’s funny that illustration is not valued by some people. Who do business owners go to when they want to lure back more customers or grow? Well, they go to designers. And if it’s really important, art directors. Creative directors. Creative officers. And who do they then go to? Artists and musicians. That is the only way to bring back a company from the dead. Make a commercial or redesign it.

On creativity. And Space Ace Jase.

Nautilus
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
What is the strangest thing you have ever heard?

When I was growing up, by far the funniest, most preposterous thing I had ever heard anyone say was this:

“I can kick a soccer ball to China”.

As kids, I can remember us all standing in the middle of the street. And we simply erupted with laughter.

Air, friction, gravity and power aside… it was the silliest thing I had ever heard anyone say. So forever afterwards, he was known in our circle as “Space Ace Jase”.

He had said something that none of us had ever heard before. What he said… he had said the impossible.

Looking back, you have to hand it to this kid – he was certainly creative.

And I can remember wondering, how did he think up such things? Kick a soccer ball to China… that’s ridiculous! Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

But then later in life, we realise we have lost a lot of that creativity we were inherently born with. It has been slowly eroded from us.

We are taught what to say. How to say it. When to say it. Why to say it. Where to say it. Which people to say it to. So we eventually lose that sense of silliness.

I think it’s because people seem to assume you dont need to be ‘clever’ to be creative.  It all starts around high school. All the nerdy, intelligent people do maths and science to get a higher tertiary entrance tank score. And science, engineering and maths don’t at first appear to be very creative, do they? They always rank higher than music, literature and art.

I used to get paid quite a bit but I found it all rather boring after several years. So you need to ask yourself: what does compensation matter if you /really/ don’t like doing it?

And then sooner or later we want to get some of that creativity back again…

So how do we become more creative?

I think creativity is simply doing something in some new way with something that has never been done before. Creativity is after all… simply creating something new!

Creativity simply means taking two things that have never been put together and just… whacking them together.

First off, have you noticed that parents often tell their children: “don’t be silly!”? They say something completely new and then they are promptly told it is silly. “Don’t be silly” you hear parents say straight afterwards.

Well I think in order to be creative, you have to be prepared to take risks like that. You have to be prepared to say something wrong. Just like kids. They are always making mistakes, but they are naturally very creative.

For me, being creative, maintaining my creativity —or better yet boosting it— usually means doing something differently. And doing something completely different each and every day.

Going somewhere I have never been. Seeing something I have never seen. Listening to sounds that I have never heard before. Or reading something I have never read before. Even feeling things I have never felt before. I’ll skip the sense of smell just to throw you off my sense-track-pattern.

So my best advice to you, if you want to be more creative, to do that, is to start doing things differently. If you have a choice, choose the option you don’t normally choose. Don’t go to the same old cafe. Don’t walk the same route.

Why do creative careers pay less anyway?

Being creative uses your intelligence in a different way. We should all be paid the same. The same as ‘clever’ people. Because I’ve noticed that clever people can actually be very uncreative. That’s why nerds are drawn to all sorts of comics. Becuase they can’t come up with that shit themselves. Am I right? Of course I’m right.

I am slowly becoming more creative and it has taken about 1-2 years to build that skill. I could argue that there is much more actual work involved in creating one of my illustrations than pressing a button and getting the results from a scientific experiment. What I mean is that there are many more minute decisions that have to be made. I should be getting paid more for illustration. But I get paid much, much less.

Unfortunately the world doesn’t seem to work that way. “Like anyone can be creative.”

I would say that if there is a theoretical basis for undervaluing creatives, it is because to be creative, sometimes you have to be prepared to make mistakes (you can’t please everyone). And people that make mistakes are sometimes not seen as being ‘creative’, they are seen as being ‘wrong’. And being wrong or silly doesn’t pay.

So creatives always get paid less. Or do they? If you think about it, professional actors and musicians are some of the most highly paid people on the planet. I’m talking way, way more than 200k salaries.

Well that’s it from me today,

Take care,

Les.

Pale Blue Dot — Carl Sagan

What’s new with GMO?

Today I’m going to do things a bit differently.

I‘d like to encourage my followers to read several articles I just found out about. So here are several interesting pieces of news regarding CRISPR, a new gene-editing technique and a couple of links to the first ever completely synthetic, artificial cell:

  1. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/monsanto-nets-first-crispr-license-to-modify-crops-with-key-restrictions/
  2. https://www.statnews.com/2016/06/10/crispr-diagnostics-gene-cutting/
  3. https://www.statnews.com/2016/06/23/florida-keys-mosquitoes-genetically-modified/
  4. https://www.statnews.com/2016/08/05/mosquitoes-genetically-modified-florida-zika/
  5. https://www.statnews.com/2016/08/18/genetic-code-synthetic-life/
  6. https://www.statnews.com/2016/07/18/crispr-off-target-effects/
  7. https://www.statnews.com/2016/06/16/crispr-first-human-trial-cancer/
  8. https://www.statnews.com/2016/07/21/crispr-experiment-humans/
  9. https://www.statnews.com/2015/11/17/gene-editing-embryo-crispr/
  10. https://www.statnews.com/2016/06/02/synthetic-human-genome/
  11. https://www.statnews.com/2016/09/09/superbugs-antibiotic-resistance-mcr1/
  12. https://www.statnews.com/2016/07/07/superbug-new-gene-discovery/
  13. https://www.statnews.com/2016/06/02/project-human-genome-synthesis/
  14. https://www.statnews.com/2016/06/04/synthetic-genome-church-endy/
  15. https://www.statnews.com/2016/05/13/harvard-meeting-synthetic-genome/
  16. http://www.jcvi.org/cms/press/press-releases/full-text/article/first-self-replicating-synthetic-bacterial-cell-constructed-by-j-craig-venter-institute-researcher/home/
  17. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703559004575256470152341984
  18. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2082278-artificial-cell-designed-in-lab-reveals-genes-essential-to-life/

Please read all of the above articles and educate yourselves. This isn’t in the mainstream news, but it should be.

I should probably state here that I don’t even pretend to know about genetics. I’m not a geneticist, I studied Materials Science.

All I do know is that nature has laws and you cannot break those laws. Bacterial diseases are lifeorms too and they are just as robust and ‘innovative’ as even the cleverest of humans.

I think that scientists often tend to overestimate their own intelligence level, and at the same time, underestimate the resourcefulness of nature itself. I don’t think we can ever fully predict the “revenge effect”. But it is there. The risk is always there.

I’m sure the field of genetics is really, really advanced by now. I’m not saying that it’s not. But the big worry for me is just that— as science becomes more and more and more specialised, people get ‘cleverer’ but they don’t always become ‘wiser’. So to put that another way, the greatest geneticist minds may claim to know all about genes, and they might even be right, but then they cannot also be the greatest experts in ecosystems. The fields of science are that big today that no one can know everything. It’s impossible! That’s the big worry.

“I don’t think it represents the creation of an artificial life form,” said biomedical engineer James Collins at Boston University. “I view this as an organism with a synthetic genome, not as a synthetic organism. It is tough to draw where the line is.” [source]

[Read more…]

Development is not progress

I believe we cannot save the world by simply buying things all the time.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.

Even if we all bought 100% eco things 100% of the time instead of the plastic crap that everyone buys today, they are still ultimately things and it will mean that the demand for timber and other eco fibres will go up further, leading to further deforestation elsewhere (more plantations of whatever crop, be it corn for renewable plastic, bamboo or hemp for fibres, etc).

Personally I think the only real ‘solution’ for the entire human civilisation is … to do nothing. And by that I don’t mean “don’t change”. I literally mean: do nothing. For people to simply work less. Work a four day week. Work a four hour week.

We should be more like the Aborigines! We should look up to the Aborigines! The original (and best) custodians of this land.

More sleep and more meditation. That’s the only hope for humanity, for people to be more mindful. And that is the best that I can think of (after several years of thinking I might add).

And I can tell you first hand that it’s very hard to live with less, because we have all been brainwashed with “more more more”.

Of course it’s a huge problem because half the global economy is based on blatant overconsumption. I think one of the best things I ever did was to live in Spain — it taught me to be happier with much less.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t all try to be more eco, but what I am promoting these days is simply minimalism. So I would rather buy a wooden broom than have a vacuum cleaner (for example). Because I see the broom as being much less wasteful over the long term.

Unfortunately, when you begin to look at where all of our starting chemicals come from, the industrial processes used to get them, and where everything else is mined from, you realise how big the problem is.

People don’t want mines in their own backyard. And so the ONLY other place to get them is the natural spaces that are left. That is a very big problem. If only because “accidents happen”.

From my point of view as a former materials scientist, I find that life is so special, we should be fighting for every shred of biodiversity on this planet. We couldn’t even hope to artificially make anything like near as complicated as a fly or a worm from first principles using artificial methods (without cheating using genetic engineering etc).

[Read more…]

A message from our great elder, Savid Suzuki.

I went to see David Suzki talk about our planet’s health earlier this year at an event called ‘Hope for the Planet’. I’ve always been aware of the enviornment, ever since I did general studies way back in 1991.

So I paid to see this talk “hope for the planet”. I think all business owners, CEOs, directors, managers, millionaires, billionaires, developers, miners, indeed the entire human race should hear what David Suzuki has to say here. He speaks as a grandfather, an elder. Indigenous peoples will of course already know what he has to say.

“Nature couldn’t care less about human boundaries.” — David Suzki

Watch it & share. Because the fact that it only has a thousand views is unfathomable. Our future as a species depends on how many people listen to a talk like this.

We need to work collectively towards a better future. Otherwise, what’s the point of even working so hard on our businesses?

It’s so true when David Suzuki speaks about the most important things for us humans in this world: clean air, fresh water and uncontaminated, healthy food. Without aire, we’d all be dead in two minutes!

It is absolutely ridiculous that corporations can poison our world and get away with it. They are encouraged to do so by our own government. Workers in such industries are paid HUGE amounts of money and I see that as a form of environmental corrruption. When you pay your workers $100k, $200k, $1M, $10M salaries, it’s a way of getting them to forget about their conscience.

Anyway, I think seeing his talk [which is not quite what this video is about] made me realise my place in the world. I studied materials science so I know better than anybody where all these materials come from, how they are mined, extracted and used. I know that every time you buy something physical, something mandmade and synthetic, you are directly supporting the mining industry. 

And I’m sure if mining industries had their own way, no areas would be safe on this planet. They don’t truly care about this world. They only seem to care about profit. And that’s one of the many reasons why I try to reduce my consumption and materialism in all areas of my life. Ever since I decided to do this, it has made me much, much happier as a person.

I think that the whole concept of the “7 generations” that Indigenous American Indians have is way more evolved than the concept of industrialisation. I think that in that respect, Indgineous Australian Aborigines are probably a thousand years ahead of us in terms of sustainability. I think we need to look to them on how to best protect our world.

What is the wisest long-term monetary investment billionaires can make?

Someone posted a meme about J. K. Rowling today (the author of Harry Potter).

And it said she is the first person to lose her billionaire status. And as soon as someone posts a meme about billionaires on LinkedIn, my ears prick up. She dropped off the Forbes billionaire list due to “charitable giving”.

I myself am very outspoken these days, ever since my former psychologist hyptnotised me. (I only asked to be able to stop biting my nails. And she threw in “accessory bonus packs” of self-esteem and confidence!)

So I promptly wrote back:

“Well, see now that’s one of the first person to be billionaire that I TRULY respect.
I’m sure there are others out there. I’ll probably write an article about her on my blog now. Yes.

Because personally I think (I know) that the best thing billionaires/trillionaires can do with their money, in my professional opinion as an ex-materials scientist, the wisest long term investment any multi-millionaire or billionaire can make, is to buy up native sections of forest. And just sit on it. And not for eventual ‘development’ either.

Trust me, biologists are right. It’s truly priceless. Why? Because we cannot replicate it. We actually need it. And we do not even fully understand it. Life has properties that no manmade material can ever match.”

Good morning from North Korea!

So this blog is not just about the environment. Sometimes there are surprises!

You know, I’ve been to pretty far out places before. In the year 2000, I went to Moscow by myself when I was 23. I could barely speak a word of Russian. And yet it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

And so its no surprise to me that I am kind of becoming fascinated with North Korea at the moment. Ever since watching this video. And I couldn’t help but notice the eerie North Korean melody that plays about half way through it … it just seems so surreal.

I tried a few months back to find another copy of this music because the voiceover plays over the top of it and we can only hear part of the song.

Today I listened to it again. I guess the the recent North Korean underground nuclear test yesterday reminded us all about North Korea, didn’t it?

I searched for things like “North Korean funeral music”. Because apparently that’s what it is. Eventually I found it when I typed “North Korean train station melody”. I managed to also find this video and an even louder, clearer copy here.

Why am I talking about this? [Read more…]

26 reasons I won’t buy the Apple Watch!

a) I already own two watches (which I think is one too many, but one was given to me and I might feel a bit guilty if I sold it).
b) I only wear a watch when going out
c) I just want a watch to do one thing and that is show me the time and nothing else, not even the date (I’d prefer to ask somebody what the date is, because if I need to know the date, it’s because I’m filling in a form and there is always someone there… otherwise, what’s the point of even living in a society if we never need anyone’s help with anything?)
d) All Apple watches appear to look identical. Where’s the identity in that? What’s next? The iShirt? iPants? iSocks? iShoes? Oh wait. I probably shouldn’t have said that…
e) I don’t actually want to be like other people. I’d rather be me.
f) Ever since reading the book “Future Shock”, I try to make my life simpler, not more complicated
g) It’s one more thing I’d have to recharge… and I don’t even like putting a new battery in a normal watch once every two years or so
h) I don’t want to own another screen, there are too many pixels in my life already.
i) I can’t be bothered learning something new (I’m very lazy and forgetful)
j) It’s too expensive for me and I’d have to work harder to afford it (I’m getting lazy)
k) I happen to like physical things like watch hands and cogs. I don’t want to see fake digital watch hands.
l) I already know it won’t last as long as a normal quartz-crystal watch. Because the smaller the internal parts get, the less reliable they become.
m)Both of my current watches still work
n) It’s thicker than either of my current watches
o) It’s heavier than either of my current watches
p) It’s not made of truly eco-friendly materials (or anything special)
q) Apple does not give back to the environment what they take out (they hardly even pay tax)
r) I don’t even like the look of it.
s) It’s not that I don’t like the look of it. It’s that the more I look at it —and I haven’t looked at it much— the more I find the design to be ugly. Especially the knob on the right. And even if it didn’t have that knob, it’d still be ugly. Ugly!
t) I know it won’t make me any happier (in fact I know owning it would probably make me less happy)
u) I’d rather look away from my wrist… at something I’ve never seen on the street
v) Apple is not a Cradle2Cradle certified company (and probably won’t ever be)
w) It’s probably not endorsed by the Ellen MacArthur foundation either.
x) I’d rather give a thousand dollars to the IUCN
y) I don’t need it
z) I don’t want it (and I generally feel that consumers are being brainwashed by too much branding)

Here’s something manufacturers and industrial designers need to think more about: backlash on planned obsolescence.

If there’s one thing in this world that I can’t stand, it’s companies like Microsoft and Apple…

Who seem to make things go obsolete well before their time. And no one can tell them not to. They just keep getting away with it. Why? Probably because they make a lot of money getting away with it. That’s why.

But there are no laws to stop them getting away with it. And what this materials scientist thinks right now is “by fucken oath there should be [laws to stop them getting away with it]”. That is coming from an ex materials scientist. Right.


I think you all know what I am talking about. I’m talking about ‘old’ printers that don’t work with newer computers simply because the ‘drivers’ have ‘issues’ with the “operating system”. I’m talking about new software that won’t run on old hardware. I’m also talking about new hardware that won’t run old software. I’m talking about Apple’s proprietry connectors.

Let me tell you a little anecdote. I can even remember my dad saying about 15 or 20 years ago way back when I was a kid that Apple (you know, Macintosh it was once called) forced you to use their special cables and connectors, and thus were able to charge a premium.

At the time, I took what he said with a pinch of salt. I thought “well it’s their computer system, I suppose they would want to do that. Who can blame them?”. But now, fast forward twenty-odd years and my old man is dead [RIP, he died last year] and what he said to me in the 1990’s is looking even wiser now than it did when he said it all those years ago. Because it just so happens to be true. This man, my father, would be 90 years old if he were alive today. He was old but he knew something that I didn’t. That something is called ‘wisdom’ and all early adopters from what I’ve seen tend to suffer from a severe lack of it.

Back in the day, we used things called serial ports and parrallel ports to plug in our printers. So they got the information from one cable and they got their power from another completely separate cable. The thing is, they were slow. Really slow. But when USB came along, all those printers and mice and things became much less useful. The same thing happened to compact discs when Apple decided not to include a CD drives on their latest desktops.

People will always need to buy new peripherals to work with new plugs on their new computer system. That is now happening with USB-C connectors. Do you want to know what I think? I think USB C can go and get fucked, that’s what I think. All of my stuff (two external hard drives, external sound card for microphone, graphics tablet, mouse, wireless solar keyboard, external webcam, flash drives, the entire bloody lot is USB2 now isn’t it?). USB2 and it is plenty good enough. I’m sticking with it.

Yes, I’m talking about Apple ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack on it’s newest smartphone. Now, keep in mind that I don’t even own an Apple iphone. In fact I have never owned an Apple iphone. And here I am, compelled to write a blog article about how narky it makes me feel. Because knowing what I know, I probably won’t ever own an Apple iphone. I’m writing this from an imac retina. I don’t own an ipad. And right now, that is the way it is going to stay. After buying just one Apple product, I’m fast becoming anti-Apple. And the headphone jack decision is my last straw. It is the catalyst to me becoming “anti-Apple”.

So I’m going to just say it here in black and white. I’m going to share with all you strangers the reason it makes me so narky. Because this is my blog, my little ‘space’ and I can say pretty much whatever the hell I want. Right? There’s this thing called “free speech” in the West that not enough people take advantage of… this is vida enigmática… [Read more…]

Our environmental footprint

Most of the global economy is based on the idea of selling physical products. And if you’re not selling something yourself, your clients are people that do.

B I’ve noticed that in some environmental discussions and debates, Westerners automatically assume that their country is less polluting than poorer countries. I don’t think pointing the finger at China really helps. And here’s why:

I think our blatant consumerism in the West doesn’t compare favourably to the third world, because all of the things that we buy have a kind of “environmental footprint” if you like. And note that I’m not even really talking about CO2 emissions here (even though the US carbon emission per capita is 17.56 metric tons while that of China is ‘only’ 6.19 metric tons per capita). Carbon is not the only element on the periodic table although it is the one that goes into the atmosphere more than the others.

If China pollutes rivers or whatever making loads of stuff for the West, who is really doing (causing) the polluting? The chinese manufacturers? Or is the Western consumer demand for those products ultimately to blame?

My main backround if materials science. One of the more eye-opening subjects I found out about (in terms of environmental degradation) is called “extractive metallurgy”. Extractive metallurgy is the study of chemical processes that we use to extract an refine metals from their ores. Basically, in a nut shell, all materials have to come from somewhere. Ususally it’s either the Earth’s crust itself or sea water.

In most of the processes, you need either need huge amounts of electricity and/or high temperatures and/or huge amounts of other chemicals to obtain the desired elements and/or compounds.

For example, here is just one of the many steps in the refinement of germanium:

GeO2 + 4 HCl → GeCl4 + 2 H2O

In this step, the reactive gas chlorine is being used to make germanium more reactive. So chlorine, which is toxic, is used in one of the processes to extract the element germanium from its oxide. Okay.

And here is just one of the steps in tellurium refinement:

HTeO−3 + OH + H2SO4 → TeO2 + SO2−4 + 2 H2O

In this step, sulfuric acid is being used to make tellurium more reactive. Okay.

And where are germanium and tellurium being used you ask? They are two semiconductors that are the basis for integrated circuits and other electronic components in all sorts of electronic devices. Not so good.

In fact, many other nasty chemical compounds are used in the extraction, refinement and manufacturing industries. Many others.

I’m not 100% sure, but I think the worst offenders are the electronic consumer devices, simply because they contain the most number of hard-to-extract elements. The harder-to-extract elements require more chemical treatment steps. That’s just one of the reasons why they these elements are so expensive (not just that they’re rare). In fact I can probably go so far as to invent a new theory, which goes something like this: “the higher the unit price of an element, the more damaging its extraction process is to the environment.” But I digress…

Here’s the thing. There are a lot of chemical elements used in computers and extracting them from the ground and processing them taxes the environment (especially when you consider all of the planned obsolesence we see today). Our current way of life creates more and more electronic waste that cannot be recovered or recycled (except perhaps the gold bits)

I recently asked a few questions on Quora and I’d like to share those questions and answers with you now. Listed here are some of the toxic chemicals and semiconductors that are used in electonic decices. Go on, take a look. Can you begin to see how big the problem is now?

The point is, nasty chemicals are used at all steps of the extraction and refinement process. We just don’t ever see them being used in industry. Oh but they’re there alright. They’re being used all the time.

Suffice it to say that if Westeners think they pollute the Earth less than a typical 3rd-worlder, in my eyes, they are sorely mistaken. [Read more…]

Some perspective

Imagine if 7 billlion people had always lived on a dust-bowl Mars-like planet with no life outside of the base stations. Imagine if that’s the way it had always been. Imagine if that was humanities’ entire existence, on the red planet…

With that in mind, I’d like to do a little thought experiment. I want you to imagine what would happen if we were to start exploring the solar system, from our home Mars.

The closest other world, Earth, looks very promising. We’ve spent a hundred trillion dollars on this latest space mission, okay. It’s been 30 years in the planning stage alone…

So we go to this new place called ‘Earth’.

And we don’t find another dust-bowl freeze-your-arse-off planet with no oceans, a toxic atmosphere* and a severe lack of oxygen. We don’t find it to be uninhabited. We don’t find the gravity extremely off-putting. We don’t find a desolate, barren wasteland devoid of all life like the home planet. No.

Instead, what we encounter is another world no unlike this one, the one we already know as ‘Earth’, exactly the way it is now, but without all the humans. Without any civilisation.

Imagine if we found 60 amur leopards, 400 Sumatran tigers, 880 mountain gorillas, 1826 giant pandas, 4080 snow leopards, 4848 black rhinos and 10000 blue whales!

Impenetrable jungles! Countless species of insects! Fish! Crustaceans! Molluscs! Birds! Frogs!

“Frogs? What an unusual name. What are they? Oh they’re slimy but harmless critters –amphibians– that thrive both on the land and in the water and use jumping as a form of locomotion.”

[Read more…]

Discrimination is second nature.

Every time you select a piece of fruit, based on the condition of its skin, you’re judging the contents.

No one likes to eat a soggy banana or a rotten apple. We’ve come to learn that if a banana is bruised & blackened on the outside, inside is most likely a soggy fruit mush.

Even 3 year old children know the difference is in the taste. They won’t eat it. Although sometimes, despite multiple bruises and other exterior imperfections, the interior is not as bad as we think; we are rewarded by what we find inside – 100% intact fruit! Succulent, delicious. Generally though, after years of practice, we learn to judge fruit correctly…

There are two ways of describing this situation:

  1. Some might say I am discriminating against all fruit with a certain type of skin (be it the colour or the texture); I am pre-judging, I am being critical.
  2. Others might say that I have a distinguished, discerning or refined sense of taste; I am a perceptive, particular and sensitive person.

One of these sentences contains positive statements whilst the other definitely has negative connotations. Clearly, something is wrong, and I think you’ll easily spot the pattern in the words below-

Synonyms for the adjective “discriminating”:

analytical, astute, authentic, canny, careful, choosy, clever, correct, cultivated, defined, definite, detailed, discerning, distinct, distinctive, distinguish, eclectic, exacting, exact, explicit, genuine, incisive, ingenious, insightful, intuitive, factual, faithful, fastidious, finicky, fussy, judicious, just, keen, literal, methodical, meticulous, observant, particular, picky, proper, prudent, refined, right, rigorous, scientific, scrupulous, selective, sensitive, skillful, smart, specific, strict, subtle, systematic, tasteful, true, unerring, unmistakable, veracious, wise.

Synonyms for the verb “to discriminate”:

assess, be bigot, brand, categorise, classify, collate, compare, contrast, delineate, designate, differentiate, discern, draw distinction, evaluate, extricate, disfavor, favor, hate, incline, judge, pigeonhole, know, note, be partial, perceive, portray, remark, segregate, separate, set apart, show bias, single out, specify, split hairs, tell apart,treat differently, typecast, victimize.

So we can describe someone as being discriminate or discriminating, but the act of discriminating against something without enough knowledge is forbidden.

Whenever you turn on the radio and choose a station you are being prejudiced towards new music styles and discriminating against them by not listening. I prefer cotton over wool, because I’ve found that wool makes my skin itch. Am I biased towards cotton plants or racist (specist) against sheep? Whenever anyone thinks about making any kind of informed decisions, discrimination is second nature.

[Read more…]

The problem with using biofuels in aviation.

Recently on LinkedIn:

First, it’s a premise of sustainable, alternative fuels that their production actually draws down atmospheric carbon–the carbon comes out of the atmosphere to make the fuel. The carbon is released again when the fuel is burned. By (albeit partial and imperfect so far) application of that principle, vastly lower net emissions (on the basis of life cycle analysis) are now possible.

I understand all abot life-cycle assessment. Yes, true, biofuel crops do take CO2 out of the air. 

But not if brazilian rainforest has to be cut down to make way for new plantation crops — because the native forest already does a way better job of taking CO2 out of the air than a crop with less biodiversity ever will. 

So my question is: where are we going to grow all of the new crops that will be needed for this additional biofuel?

It’s no good saying that new sustainable crops will reduce the CO2 from the air if you harvest the whole thing every year and burn it again. That only releases the same carbon that was absorbed by the crop in the first place… so no net CO2 increase. (well that is probably an over-simplification, because some carbon dioxide no doubt goes in to the soil) [Read more…]

Why the Greens is not a wasted vote.

I think it’s a real shame that people used to see a green vote as “a wasted vote”.

I don’t think people should be voting against someone (didn’t Bernie say that?). It’s true. They should vote for who they want to win in the first place.

And here in OZ, I am getting sick and bloody tired of the [Read more…]

What children can do to stop being bullied.

First, have a read of this. Then my response below may start to make sense.

Hello Tayla,

Definitely don’t ignore that kind of behaviour, no.

I was bullied too at school. A lot. To the point that my life was starting to be endangered.

The best advice I can give you is this: “people treat you the way you let them”. [Read more…]

Rise of the machines

Google has just announced that they are working on a “killl switch” to prevent robots from doing things they shouldn’t… I’m guessing things like… taking over the world.

But I don’t think that is going to work. At least not if the robot has read about human psychology. What if robots start to manipulate us without us even knowing about it?

If we really wanted to prevent robots from doing things we didn’t want them to, wouldn’t it be easier to just… stop building robots? Or rather, stop building robots that are capable of doing things that we might not want them to do, should they “disobey their orders”.

I think the definition of life should include a statement about decreasing local entropy (because that is essentially what all lifeforms do). And one might argue that on that basis, computers are more ‘ordered’ than organic beings, so they are almost destined to take over.

So where ‘we’ will fail is when ‘they’ realise that ‘our’ system is not as ordered as ‘their’ system. If and when robots become aware of that, that what we are doing is not very sustainable (and they have a more sustainable and less chaotic way of ‘managing’ this planet’s resources) then that’s when I think they would potentially start to take over, you know, “for the greater good”. And no one can really argue with that logic.

Not only that, but intelligent lifeforms with defensive capabilities will take actions to guard against threats to their existence. The worry is when robots can start reprogramming themselves… (adaptive programming). They’re already being connected together in an unprecedented ways.

 

Can journalists stop using the term “dole bludgers” please?

I wasn’t planning on writing about personal issues on this blog, but I couldn’t help notice the headlines in the paper a few weeks ago…

I resent the term “dole bludger” being thrown around willy-nilly. I’m talking about this article, which appeared last month as a front page news headline. Really, this is not at all a politically correct phrase. It’s *absolutely* derogatory and offensive and I begin to fume with anger whenever I see supposedly “unbiased journalism” articles continually referring to this terminology in national papers such as the Telegraph and the Herald.

This is not a term that should be thrown around lightly. It’s *not* the 1980’s anymore. Since when did this term become acceptable to use in the national media?

I think this is a sorely outdated term and it *completely* isolates & alienates the thousands of people on legitimate welfare who ARE genuinely trying to seek employment (or self-employment). [Read more…]

My response to another climate change denier…

Mike Johnson, it’s people like you that really annoy me. Sorry to say that, but you do. I look at your profile and I see that you flip burgers. Where is your science credibility? That’s okay, maybe you read in your spare time…

So to people like you, I say go and look up the CO2 content of the planet venus. Then go and look up the surface temperature of the planet venus. Seriously, what you are saying about the flea analogy is complete rubbish. And I am calling you out on it right here and now in front of the whole world. Here’s where your flea analogy would be better. Assume you have 7 billion fleas on one dog. Now half of them think that they aren’t affecting the dog, because they’re so small. They’re just fleas, right? And the other half know that there is only so much blood in the dog. If you look at my profile, you will see that I am not working for anyone. I am not working for the government. I have no vested interests in anything except the truth and the protection of biodiversity. I put my faith in fellow scientists like Dr. James Hansen:

The mass of Earth’s atmosphere is distributed approximately as follows:

50% is below 5.6 km (18,000 ft).
90% is below 16 km (52,000 ft).
99.99997% is below 100 km (62 mi; 330,000 ft.

I like to think it is about 10km thick. Why 10km? Because Everest has an altitude of 8848km and not a single person lives above the summit of Mt. Everest, do they Mr. Johnson? Why not? Too cold and barely enough oxygen. Right. So taking these numbers back to the dog analogy, if the Earth was a dog, and the dog’s body was a ball that was 1 metre (just over 3 feet) in diameter, then the atmosphere on that dog would be 0.78mm thick. For you Americans, 1/32 of an inch. Now. Are you going to sit there with your Bachelor of Hamburgerology and tell me that 7 billion fleas (even proportionately microscopic ones) all drilling for blood would somehow not affect that atmosphere? I could say the same thing about an orange. If the Earth was an orange with a diameter of 10cm, then the atmosphere would now only be 0.078mm thick. Or 1/320″ for the Americans. I suppose you are going to tell me that 7 billion fruit flies feeding on that one orange wouldn’t change the composition of the orange’s skin, not even a tiny amount?

It doesn’t matter how big the Sun is in comparison with the Earth Mike. What matters is that we are urbanising the entire surface of the Earth. We mine things out of the ground and then proceed to burn it in cars all over the face of the Earth. We’re burning the entire remains of all past life on Earth that has accumulated over a billion years or so and we’re pumping it all into the atmosphere in only a hundred years or so. *starts to point the finger and wave it prophetically like all great scientists do when they’ve offended/insulted and have something important to say* So don’t you come here with your government conspiracy crap, Mike. Government conspiracies about global warming don’t make any sense! No sense at all! Why not? Because the USA actually *invades* other countries so that it can get more oil!! If anything half of these STUPID politicians aren’t even convinced of it themselves! There is only ONE thing stopping this planet from becoming more like Venus, and that is this planet’s biodiversity. It’s an adaptive, interactive system. Now if that ever starts to go haywire my friends, like it or not, we are doomed. The best, most advanced ‘technology’ that maintains a healthy atmosphere is … nature itself.

To be fair, you can’t fit 7 billion fruit flies on one single orange. But eventually even those tiny billions of microbes make the orange skin go mouldy, don’t they?

For Unto us a Child – Handels Messiah

Wish to discover ways to use Quickbooks or Quickbooks Expert? Quickbooks does not have to be always a stressful knowledge; here’s some fundamental information to obtain you began. Why Must I Learn How to Employ Quickbooks? QuickBooks is one of many accounting applications that are most-trusted and common. QuickBooks-Website, in a 2008 blog article, quotes that QuickBooks sales account for 78 percent to 94.2 percentage of all smallbusiness accounting software package sales. [Read more…]

What you should know about Marius Willemse

I hope my reply to this man encourages others to ask more questions about their potential clients. He wrote an article on LinkedIn Pulse about Mars and I assumed he was a conservationist.

Hello,

One of my main aims is to provide illustration & graphic design services to make a better future for this planet.

I work with individuals who care about preserving and respecting nature, animals, the environment and conservation issue) rather than the big corporations.

HOWEVER. I see from your CV that you are using game reserves as part of others’ investment portfolios. Right. So if I understand your situation correctly, you are helping canned hunters to succeed in business. Is that correct? It certainly appears that way. So you are on “their” side. The side of the trophy hunters…

[Read more…]

Open letter to climate change skeptics (from a scientist).

Do you notice the terminology “global warming” is somewhat detached from the humanity that caused it? As if it were the planet’s response to our domination, but not directly our own fault.

For me, the notion that this is all some part of a repetitive ‘prehistoric cycle’ which man has nothing to do with is preposterous. It just happens at the same time man enters the industrial age, and is happening 10x quicker than anything before. Hello! coincidence!! The words rate of change have very strong meaning in the scientific community. Grand geological transformations don’t just happen over a matter of years or even decades. They are supposed to take millennia, or longer. So now that the average global sea & air temperature has risen a degree already, I think we’re already in deep shit my friends.

Deforestation today proceeds at 55,630 to 120,000 square kilometres each year. At this rate, all tropical forests may be gone by the year 2090.

You might be one of the smart ones & think that the Earth’s volume is vastly superior to what we could possibly be doing on the surface. But the surface is paramount; everything that happens here depends on it. Yes, the atmosphere has the capacity to change the temperature of the entire planet and it has done so before. Still don’t believe it? The temperature and composition of the atmosphere are dynamic factors; they do not remain constant. Note I deliberately used the term “the atmosphere” because it is most definitely NOT “our” atmosphere! Look at the atmosphere of Venus: it’s completely hostile. Look at the atmosphere of Mars: there is none. No one said to us “The Earth is going to remain habitable/hospitable for as long as you lot are around you know”.

I think the real reason why some people continue to deny global warming is taking place (subconsciously or not) is that they can’t deal with reality. So if they convince themselves that it would’ve happened anyway, they can simply carry on life as normal, and not have to worry about it.

So I think the very least people can do is to accept that they’re responsible for it. Anyone who doesn’t think it is happening is worse than the flat-Earth society. Honestly. Just go bury your head in the sand somewhere, ostrich style. (see that’s what I like about a blog, I can use stronger language than a scientific paper and not have to be so damn subtle in writing and then have someone edit out my carefully chosen words)

Be the change you want to see in the world.

There’s a lot of pessimism at the moment about our long term future. Will we still be here in a 100 years’ time? 1,000? 10,000?

It’s clear that we need some pretty significant changes if we’re going to survive as a species for that amount of time…

What do most people do about it? They go home and watch TV because they’re depressed about the whole predicament. I’m not even going to label the problems. But my point is that most people distract themselves any way they see fit. They fall into the trap of hopelessness. They end up doing jack shit. In short, they don’t change. [Read more…]

More frequent blog updates!

More posts, coming your way!

I thought I’d let you all know that before I really get going with more new posts for this blog, I’ve decided to be bit less of a perfectionist. Some level of quality-control is a good thing. But have you noticed that too much “umming and ahhing” means you never get anything finished?

You see, I start way more drafts than I end up publishing. Usually I will sit on an article for 3 months or more before I hit the publish button. Sometimes more than a year. But I think it’s important to have a regular stream of articles so that when people visit vidaenigmatica.org looking for a bit of inspiration, guidance or wisdom, there’s something new there waiting for them to read. I know that’s what I expect with my favourite blogs: new insight!

Looking at my wordpress dashboard, I see that I have written 97 draft [unpublished] blog articles.That’s too many and it’s getting a little overwhelming for me to manage everything. And I can’t help but think: “what if I get run over by a bus?”

So I’ve decided that I just have to get things out there and not think and worry quite so much about ‘quality’ all the time. Quality is important, yes, but so is generating content, getting visitor numbers up and regular readers to my blog. So you may find that I repeat myself from time to time. Why am I going to start repeating myself a little bit? Because I don’t want some of my readers to miss my main message (which is essentially “minimalism”).

Imagine if I wrote a whole book and then said at the end: “so the secret to saving the planet is to lead less materialistic lives, QED.”. Well that might actually work for a book. But for a blog, nobody has the time to read through my every single entry (because they find and enter the blog at different points) to get to the ultimate message. I understand that people will miss blog articles, but it really would be a shame if people missed the main message that I was trying to deliver… [Read more…]

Wouldn’t it be cool if this became a reality?

This new petition is gathering a lot of momentum right now…

pepsi-perfect8
Why should people sign? Because it’s the little things like plastic bottle tops that are easily blown around in windy weather… and these small items are also the most easily mistaken for food by marine animals.

Most plastic floats and now an area of plastic waste that is twice the size of Texas has already accumulated in the Pacific ocean and it even has its own name… the “Pacific Garbage Patch”.

I’m sure that PepsiCo already knows this. The question is, what are they doing about it? I think it’s time they were held a little more accountable. They should be more responsible and invent a completely new bottle opening system, so that the bottletop will not (or cannot) physically separate from the rest of the container. That way, they can be recycled together as once piece (as it should be) — with a smart redesign, plastic bottle tops won’t ever end up in the ocean again!

How come the plastic bottle tops last a thousand years longer than the actual drinks inside? [Read more…]

GLOBAL PETITION: Tell McDonalds to replace all their one-time-use plastic straws with paper straws.

I have started yet another petition; this one is aimed squarely at McDonalds restaurants…

Small items like plastic straws and bottle tops are easily blown around in windy weather. Millions of plastic straws end up in the ocean and tonnes of plastic waste has already accumulated in the Pacific Garbage Patch.

I think ALL fast-food restaurants need to be much more aware about where materials come from and where they go at the end of their life.

Some of these long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine animals, and their young, including sea turtles and the black-footed albatross. Midway Atoll receives substantial amounts of marine debris from the patch. Of the 1.5 million Laysan albatrosses that inhabit Midway, nearly all are found to have plastic in their digestive system. Approximately one-third of their chicks die, and many of those deaths are due to being fed plastic from their parents. Twenty tons of plastic debris washes up on Midway every year with five tons of that debris being fed to albatross chicks.

[Read more…]

Why do you buy?

Just a few decades ago, the reason we gave to buy something new was because our product simply broke and it could no longer be repaired. So we had to replace it. Fast forward to today, and we find that many products are no longer repairable because to do so is deemed ‘uneconomical’. These days, the art of repair seems to be all but completely forgotten.

Not too long ago, when we needed to replace something, sometimes we could even replace it with an identical model. How many times does that happen today? Never. Why? Because even if we wanted to, a product’s life cycle is so short that it is no longer possible to buy the exact same item even only 1 or 2 short years later.

Nowadays we have to buy a completely new replacement product. We have no choice. We can’t buy the same item even if we wanted to! We’re increasingly forced to live in a more ‘disposable’ world!

But what about our environment? Redesigns require more design time, new moulds and new machinery. Redesigns require new instructions, new packaging.

I am going to argue here and elsewhere that all product cycles which are shorter than necessary are sheer environmental folly. I am going to argue that product cycles need to be much longer, that the products themselves should be user-serviceable wherever possible and that replacement parts should be freely available (and for a very reasonable cost).

I think product designers have a special ethical obligation to design for the long-term not the short term. Just because you can create something new doesn’t mean that it is any good. I believe that a great design will stand the test of time. I believe that customers will return to reliable, trustworthy brands –even decades later– provided that their products have been shown to endure.

And I think consumers have an equally special ethical obligation to keep things for as long as possible. Not only is this much better for the environment, but I think we’d actually be happier for it because we’d get more satisfaction buying things that we actually need, when we need to. I almost never throw something out because I get bored with it. I always try to find a new home for my old products. I’m hoping that you will too.

You might complain that the cost of a new replacement battery or charger or whatever hardly makes it worth your while. “…for only 15 dollars more I can get a brand new XYZ…”, I hear you say. The reason for that is partially because of supply and demand. If more people bought just the replacement parts instead of the whole darn new thing, the cost of the replacement bits would surely plummet, due to the economies of scale.

What is the environmental cost of consumerism?

“We’re very very disconnected from what we consume. So because of the widening degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed we no longer have any real appreciation for the embodied energy, the embodied destruction, the embodied suffering that goes in to every stage of the supply chain in the things we buy.” — Mark Boyle

I‘m sure that most consumers don’t care less what chemical elements are used in the manufacture of all the products that they buy. I’m talking about all the elements and compounds required to make all of these products function like they do. But consumers should care. We should care about what products are made of, what they are made from.

But with things like consumer electronic devices, customers simply don’t think about their ‘ingredients’ much. I think the problem with this world today is that consumers don’t question the true origin of synthetic materials, let alone how they are extracted and processed.

I think people really need to wake up and ask where their materials are coming from, learn about all the many processing steps each material requires (extraction, refinement, manufacturing, production) and also ask what happens to all these materials at the end of the product’s life. In many cases, even with recycling of plastic/paper/metal, the majority of materials on the periodic table aren’t being recycled and are ending up in landfill (and/or the ocean).

I think each product sold should have an ‘ingredients’ label showing exactly what materials are in it. That way, people could [eventually] reference which materials have the highest ecological impact…

The obvious exception is of course food. Wherever food is concerned, then consumers quite rightly want to know what they are consuming. We want to know all the food ingredients. We want to know what we put into our bodies.

[Read more…]

What we can learn from North Korea.

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of Western video productions are unfairly biased about North Korea.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Wong Maye-E
Photo credit: AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

So Western journalists have a big gripe about not being able to film certain parts of North Korea. But North Koreans, okay, like all nations, want to be portrayed in a good light. Because North Koreans are smart enough to know that some journalists are unscrupulous…

What if I made a video documentary about Sydney and filmed all the homeless people, the junkies, the graffiti, the rubbish, the wastage, the consumerism, the violence, the poor distribution of wealth, the relentless urbanisation, interviewed all the aboriginal people in our jails, filmed the chopping down of forrests in the Laird state forest to make way for a new coal mine? Well okay.

But what if the Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand came to Australia for example and then used that to infer that “New Zealand was better”? Maybe we’d be able to take it like a joke (even if it were all true).

But I am pretty darn sure that if our tourism industry was proven to have suffered economically because of that documentary, then we’d promptly ‘react’ by banning such films. I’m sure the Sydney council or tourism board would stop people filming the dirtier parts of town. And I wouldn’t really have a problem with that. It doesn’t make me ‘evil’. [Read more…]

Why I decided to quit facebook.

In recent news, I just quit facebook. I quit because they are encouraging trophy hunting by allowing their pages to remain online. I believe they could do so much better with animal rights and conservation issues.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown

Nothing happened. My head didn’t fall off. I enjoyed real life more now. I am happier and much more productive.

I have even started this petition to get more people to quit facebook as a form of protest and defiance.

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg,

The first time I logged on to the internet, the year was 1995. I had to go into a special room at university to access it. Only about 30 computers were connected to the internet for students to use — in the whole university.

A few years later, more rooms appeared throughout the campus. I remember one day in particular. My college buddy could only find a handful of Porsche images *on the whole internet*. I can even remember him printing it out. It was so rare to him it was like a prize. I remember because we had to take turns — using the same internet connection!

Four years later, in 1999, I got “into trouble” for using the internet at work! Yes. “People can see you” he’d say. I had to show my boss that I was searching for material properties online. He promptly wheeled his office chair over. He had called my bluff. And I pointed to the screen. “See?” At that time, people didn’t use the internet for work. No.

I don’t know when it was exactly. I was still at university. All I can remember was that the internet was still fairly ‘new’. The average person still did not use the internet on an hourly or a daily basis (except for email). Anyway, I got this weird “friend request” from this unknown person calling himself “Mark Zuckerberg”. It wasn’t one of my friends. I’m pretty sure it was actually you.

If memory serves me correctly, Mr. Zuckerberg, you actually came to me. I certainly never went out specifically looking for anything like facebook, because I was a nerdy anti-social science graduate. You probably found my email or something.

I decided to accept your initial “friend request” and sign up to this new facebook thing. And because I was introverted and shy, I never really bothered to say anything to you. It was when there was only a few thousand facebook members *in the whole world*. At the time I can remember thinking:  “what harm can it do?”. Nobody I knew had a facebook account. I repeat: nobody. And so it began…

[Read more…]

High definition destruction

It always amazes me how all of these latest technologies showcase *nature*. I find that quite ironic. I find it ironic because we get the copper and other elements that are contained within electronics from mines. And it is frequently places like the forests in Papua New Guinea that are mined to get these elements.

What is the point of high-definition television, holograms, visual special effects, if we are just going to watch the destruction of nature in ever-greater detail? Or fake representations of nature? I can go outside and see it in higher definition than any screen will be able to display. It’s called “atomic resolution”. I.e. real life.

I don’t understand people. Watching nature makes us happy. As we distance ourselves further and further from nature, we think that we can live separate from it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yet most of us carry on our daily lives almost in fear of the natural. We go on poisoning it. Controlling it. Dominating it.

What is the point of faster or more comfortable airlines if the destinations are not as pristine as they used to be?

What is the point of creating high definition televisions, sharper lenses and ever-more megapixels, if we’re only going to witness the destruction of nature in ever-greater detail and clarity?

A common observation is that nature provides much inspiration even for 3D models. So I encourage people to donate to environmental charities instead of buying the latest technologies all the time. Half the reason we are in so much shit with the planet is because we have forgotten how to give back to nature. We are always taking and never giving back. So I encourage you to stand up, speak up . That way, you might *truly* feel better about ourselves, our civilisation, instead of feeling this ‘guilt’ for what we are doing.

The truth is, unfortunately we do not value nature as much as we should. We do not see the work that it does for us. Trees create oxygen for us for free. If we had to extract our own oxygen from carbon dioxide, how much do you think that would cost us?

 

Where do you want to go today? [Windows upgrade psychology]

A few days ago I received yet another persistent reminder to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. So I thought I’d share some insights from a long-time windows user. Here is my open letter to Microsoft.

Dear Microsoft,

It all began with that nagging little popup thingo at the bottom right of my computer screen. I don’t know about the other X00 million people, but I personally found that so annoying I soon disabled it. As soon as I realised it wasn’t going to disappear on it’s own. As soon as I saw the pattern. Why did I do that? I did it because I know that it was far easier than upgrading the whole OS.

There’s a famous quote about lazy people at Microsoft:

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”– Bill Gates

Now you have taken to my inbox. Several times in fact. Humans are good at recognising patterns, aren’t they? I’m sorely tempted to label your email ‘spam’, because I don’t recall signing up to any email newsletters about Windows upgrades. What’s next? Are you going to be pestering people to upgrade with facebook and twitter? I really don’t think you should do that. Trust me.

Yes we are busy people. Some of us do need reminders. But what about people with good memories? Do you think we have forgotten about your kind offer? Or are you lumping us all in with the forgetful ones? Thanks. [Read more…]

Is societal collapse due to our own basic human stupidity?

I think one characteristic of humanity is that as a whole we are inherently stupid, very stupid!  And I think I know the reason why…

Looking back at former civilisations, it is always noteworthy how blatantly ignorant humanity was about the consequences of its own actions. We look back now and think we know better than we did before. Do we?

Even knowing what we know, time and time again we over-estimate our current intelligence level. Not only do we fail to learn by other people’s mistakes, but even when we know what is good for us, we are reluctant to change.

I think many people today are becoming too complacent. I think we think that we can still out-smart anything and everything that comes our way, that our technology will always provide us with an answer. Will it?

[Read more…]

Leonardo da Vinci

Have you noticed that most people today only strive to develop one career at a time? When you ask someone what they do, they invariably say one profession, don’t they? The government won’t support you in your pursuit of two simultaneous ventures or studies either, will they? You’re either studying full time or working full time. Sequential careers, yes. Concurrent careers, no.

When I was a boy, my hero was without a doubt Leonardo da Vinci. I admired him most of all because he was able to combine engineering, science, invention and art. Excellence in each of these disciplines made him a veritable genius. If you’re going to aim high, why restrict yourself to being an expert in one field, when you can choose among many?

Sometimes I wonder, how well would he do today in today’s modern world? If he were plucked out of his time and plonked into ours now, what would he do? Everything he conjured up has already been invented. I am sure that he wouldn’t be able to land a conventional science or engineering job as he’d be considered a “jack of all trades and master of none”. You know how it is. Recruiters would take one look at his long hair and his resume and quip: “so you say you’re a painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, astronomer, cartographer, botanist, historian and a writer? Right.”. Or he’d be a starving artist. Galleries and museums wouldn’t be too impressed with his portfolio either – “Sorry, your style is not what we’re looking for (not creative enough) my friend”.

I think if you brought Leonardo da Vincci to our time zone he’d be an entrepreneur. It’d sure take him a while before he even found something new and worthwhile to research or invent. And he’d probably be addicted to Google. It’d make an interesting television series, wouldn’t it? Go back in time and interview famous people from the past. Then bring them here and see how they cope with modern life. “Leo, this is called a helicopter. This is a drone. This is a drone flying inside a helicopter. Oh he’s finally arrived. Leo, we want you to meet Mr. Van Gogh, an artist from another time period.” I wonder how they’d react.

I have no idea why I’m writing this. I suppose it is just more content. But it’s also to remind myself that when in doubt about my persona, I look to Leonardo, the quintessential renaissance man. What would he do today I wonder? I think he would do exactly what he does best: not to pursue expertise in just one field, but to delve into many areas simultaneously. Only then would he try to make sense of the world…

What is the most valuable thing that exists today?

If you were to take a trip into outer space, you’d quickly find out that the most valuable things to us humans are the very simple resources we need to survive.

I TYPE “what is the most valuable thing in the universe?” into google and nine of the top ten ‘results’ talk about money. I might as well have typed “what is the most expensive thing in the universe?”.

It’s not the same thing though, is it? So let me tell you something about ‘value’. The most valuable things in the world cannot be bought or sold. To begin with, things are only worth what people are prepared to pay for them. Anything that can’t be recreated, replicated or reproduced by man somehow is deemed ‘priceless’ – it is a a term which essentially means we cannot place a true value on something that is irreplaceable.

We live in a very special place and every single day of our lives we take it for granted. The average place in the universe is devoid of oxygen, has no atmospheric pressure, no water, no food, no gravity and is 270.45°C degrees below freezing. If you were starving, dying of thirst, freezing or gasping for oxygen, I’m sure you’d find that all of those over-priced garbage items on any “most expensive things in the world” list would suddenly become completely useless to you and therefore utterly worthless in the whole scheme of things.

That’s why the cleverest scientists believe that the most valuable thing to us humans is [Read more…]

What you don’t have you don’t need it now.

How often have you bought something expensive only to want to replace it with something else –something even pricier– within a very short period of time? In short, you’re no longer satisfied with what you have. You want more. You want to maximise.

OOriginally people used to buy higher-priced quality items because they last longer than poorly-made, cheaper items. So the idea was that we’d spend more in the short term but less over the long term. Which is great because buying something that lasts longer it makes more economical and ecological sense. We never used to purchasing a replacement item solely because it was an “improved” model. Originally, we paid for quality items because they added some kind of value to our lives.

Now you may think all of the vendor’s products are so good, that you want to buy more than one model, so that you can choose which one to use based on your personal preference that particular day. A bit like the Thunderbirds — they had a fantastic selection of transport vehicles to choose from, didn’t they?

Usually you feel strangely compelled to buy something new because the new product is bigger, better, faster, more accurate, has more features, contains more memory, is smaller and lighter, stronger or more fashionable. Brands have become so strong today that we start to define our own identity by them; we associate with some brands and not others.

But where exactly did we go so wrong? We hardly even question anymore whether we really need the new item — we buy it because we can. We buy it because it’s fun. We also buy it because our government tells us that buying things is “good for the economy”.

Most people don’t even give so much as a second thought about throwing out something that still functions. These days, things become superceded or obsolete at crazy rate.

[Read more…]

Overstimulation, ADHD & physical exercise.

Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) simply an extreme degree of hyperactivity, brought about by many complex contributing factors? We’re stimulated (visually) by television and seemingly limitless internet possibilities. Outwardly, we appear to have adapted in various ways to this fast pace of life. But what happens to our brain when we stop all this fast-paced internet work and shutdown our computers and gaming consoles? Our brain continues to run wild at this high pace. Our minds continue to race overtime; not accustomed to stagnating, we dwell & obsess over the tiniest of problems merely for “something to do”. Is this something we have control over?

Could a lack of excercise combined with overchoice & overstimulation actually compound certain mental disorders in the early phase of development? In an ever-increasingly stressful world, we’ve simultaneously reduced the amount of exercise we receive! We drive everywhere, use mobile devices, remote controls, pre-packaged “lazy foods”, etc. Although most of us still continue to defer exercise. This is a recipe for disaster. Could this be a simple link to many of today’s current mental disorders?

Certainly, advanced brain research will help diagnose mental disorders such as ADHD, for example. But while scientists are busy studying brain chemicals and neurotransmitter activity, do they pay much attention to the initial reasons behind why those chemicals are different? I for one think its better to understand the true reasons or causes behind something, not merely their symptoms, consequences or effects. What’s the difference? Well, a few simple observations and tests might show that there is an insufficient level of dopamine in the brain in ADHD patients, for example. Some would argue that that essentially is the disease. At the very least it reveals the reason for the occurrence of some of the disease’s symptoms. However, since the disease is usually characterised by its symptoms, what’s actually stopping us from labelling this an “in vivo symptom”?

Knowing the concentration of dopamine in the brain of a patient with ADHD doesn’t really help us initially, other than to ask the follow-up questions, “how can we now change this value?”. Researching a potential cure in this manner will never prevent this disease, only reduce its symptoms. What we really want to know is “Why has this value changed of its own accord?”. One possible reason is that the child doesn’t perform sufficient exercise, and this in turn affects their brain chemistry. I.e. we should ask the question “why is this value different?” in the first place. In my humble opinion, the latter type of research is far more valuable than the former.

In my opinion, we are biological beings and physical exercise is highly important if not crucial to our overall health. It’s like oxygen -we can certainly get by with less, but we’re better off with the correct amount. If I attempt to breathe in an oxygen-depleted environment and begin to exhibit symptoms of asphyxiation, I’d want to receive a healthy dose of oxygen before I die. I certainly wouldn’t wait around for biology research to cure my condition. I’m sure they could come up with all sorts of cellular “reasons” as to why I’m failing to respire adequately while all the the cells in my body are turning blue. But like I said before, if I can’t breathe properly, the real reason is that I need to inhale more oxygen molecules. At this stage, it’s best to give me what I need -air- not try to substitute it with something else in the form of a pill.

Biologists can argue all they want about it. Take for example an earlier phase of depression I experienced. My depression wasn’t initially caused by an imbalance in my brain chemicals, that was the end result which severely affected my mood. The real cause was a hundred other factors out there in the real world to do with relationships, life, money, worries, disappointment, stagnation, pity, etc, which I didn’t realise until after being diagnosed. It was cured, in part chemically, by prozac, but also by a lot of hope, positive thinking and inspiration.

Doctors haven’t done many definitive studies about exercise and ADHD, says David Goodman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. But Goodman says it makes sense that working out would help people cope with the condition. Studies show that exercise increases levels of two key brain chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine) that help people focus.

If kids could exercise strenuously three to five times a day, they might not need medications at all, says John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Ratey is so intrigued by the question that he’s writing a book about how exercise can reduce symptoms of ADHD or at least help patients cope.

Studies show that children today are far more sedentary than they were a generation or two ago, a trend that has contributed to increasing childhood obesity rates. “You could speculate that one reason for the increasing rates of ADHD is that kids are exercising less,” says James Perrin, a professor of pediatrics at Boston’s MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

Researchers have looked at other habits to explain the rise in ADHD rates. But experts note that there isn’t much research to clearly link lifestyles with attention problems.

More than a few parents and teachers suspect that sugary snacks €” with their artificial colors, flavors and preservatives €” contribute to the problem. Others suggest that vitamins might reduce hyperactivity. But most controlled trials show these substances have no effect on ADHD, according to a July review in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Many parents also wonder whether television, computers and video games make it harder for children to concentrate. A study in 2004 found that infants and toddlers who watch a lot of television are more likely to have trouble concentrating in their early school years. Every extra hour of TV raised the odds of having attention problems by 10%, according to the study, which was published in Pediatrics. Source

– See more at: http://www.tenerife-training.net/Tenerife-News-Cycling-Blog/overstimulation-adhd-physical-exercise/#sthash.QrqMXj4c.dpuf

Racism vs culturism

Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
CULTURES are different, by their very definition. Anyone who has travelled extensively has surely witnessed that. But it just so happens, that many –not all– cultures are divided by geographical barriers, national boundaries known as a countries. And that’s when the generalisations begin…

I T’S generally fair to say that the majority of Japanese people are very reliable & punctual. Likewise, if I were to say that Tongan people are very friendly, stress-free & relaxed, that comment would also be acceptable to most people. Why are these statements accepted? Because they’re positive cultural observations. [Read more…]