Drumpfomania

I normally do not ever talk about polititics in the workplace.

But honestly, drumpf is the once-in-a-lifetime exception to that rule. Sometimes, you just have to speak up.

The thing is, America does not live in an isolated bubble. You depend on foreign workers and you also depend on foreign resources. America wouldn’t function like it does today without all the other countries on the map. Many Americans today seem to forget that.

But by far the worst thing about drumpf as far as I’m concerned is his complete lack of science knowledge. He can’t even answer the most basic science or environmental question without going off at a complete tangent.

And, by the way, it doesn’t make any sense that the poorer people voted in the richer candidate. People like drumpf do not care about working class people, they exploit them. The irony!

And another thing, bringing back manufacturing isn’t always the correct way to go. That is 1920’s thinking, one hundred years behind the times.

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…]

Someone posted this on LinkedIn…

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And here is my internet response:

Nice looking car BUT it still has exhaust pipes. Why?

*glares at everybody in the room* [that’s right]

For fuck’s sake, companies were meant to be phasing out the internal combustion engine more than a decade ago. I know that is not what you want to hear, and actually I don’t enjoy speaking out, but honestly, someone has to. Because in today’s world, this is bullshit. You should not be allowed to even build a 503 horsepower car in the year 2016, let alone sell it.

It may *look* cool, but it is most definitely *not* cool. Do you want to know what I honestly think? I think that while it still has exhaust pipes, no combination of advertising, graphic design or industrial design can make it cool.

It’s like mechanical HDDs. We know the technology is all but dead, but people still buy them.

You can make the exterior as stylish as you want, but if there’s still a fucking combustion engine lurking in there somewhere underneath the bonnet (or wherever new place you want to put it), you –as customers– should all turn your fucking noses up at it. You should all turn your noses up in disgust. You should put on a posh voice and say “oh, darlings, exhaust pipes are so 1992 don’t you know?”.

Now, you don’t often see scientists speaking out on such matters. We tend to shut up and stay in our laboratories. Stuck behind all sorts of weird instrumentation and computer-controlled devices. And I’ll admit that most scientists have always traditionally appeared very uncool. We were usually the clever ones who were picked on most at school. As scientists, we might know a lot of shit, but the trouble is, we don’t have the power to actually persuade anyone of anything.

Well not this scientist. This scientist has also recently studied design. That’s what makes me ‘dangerous’. And among other things, design is most often used to pursuade people to buy new products and services. There’s a conundrum here though because this scientist has studied science before design. What difference does that make, you ask? It makes all the difference. It means to me, science will always drumpf design. Not the other way around.

I believe that scientists (and ex scientists for that matter, because I fall squarely into that category) all have a DUTY OF CARE to planet Earth, to call out whatever they see as unsustainable. Otherwise, you non-scientists would all be whinging in two hundred years time: “Why didn’t you tell us anything a hundred years ago? Why didn’t you warn us then?”.

Well we are warning you, now. We are all waving our fucking arms in the air effectively saying “Danger Will Robinson, danger! Climate emergency!”.

Here’s the thing: we can’t appear too emotional, because we’re scientists. It’s our job to be as unemotional and as Spock-like as humanly possible. Right? Otherwise our data, our results and conclusions may be biased by our mere ‘feelings’. And we just can’t have that. We have to be as objective as possible. So we usually keep ‘feelings’ out of it.

But I think this is actually half the reason people are still not listening to us — because there’s not enough emotion in our collective voices.

Jesus fucking Christ. What more do scientists need to do before the world starts getting it? DO YOU WANT US TO SHOUT? Do you want us to dance up and down? What!?

Now, I know that 7999 people will most probably not like my reply. But there will be a few wise ones that do like it. And gradually, I hope that small percentage goes up with time. That is the purpose of me speaking out. That is the purpose of this blog.

“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

Ok. I am sick to death of hearing people rubbish climate change at this very late stage. Especially by the people who contribute most (manufacturing/engineering).

“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” …. down here on the Florida coast, the water-line remains the same it was fifty (50) years ago. Same goes for southern California, the high tide line remains the same as when I lived there in the early 1950s … hello Al Gore? you remain 100% wrong. The first thing that needs to be done is to ban any and all lawyers from any and all discussions about CC. — David Hubbell

David, I see you are a clever bloke. Engineers are always spouting off about how the world couldn’t work without engineering. Well ok. Fair enough. But it wouldn’t work without science either.

I put my trust in engineers every time I cross a bridge or catch an elevator. And you accept that your computer ‘works’, don’t you? So people put their trust in electronics every single day of the week. And who studies that stuff? Physicists. Materials scientists. That’s who.

But do you people ever question the theory behind semiconductors? No, because that enables computers. Do you question anything else to do with science for that matter? It’s these very same science and technological advances and principles that have enabled consumerism to spawn in the first place. These are the same people who invented MRI machines for Pete’s sake! And yet deniers say nothing about electron theory, magnetic domains or PN junctions.

What am I saying? I am saying that I think it’s time we showed the same level of respect for climate scientists. It looks to me the ONLY reason there are deniers today is that it means you have to “give up” something. And that something is called ‘lifestyle’.

Personally, I think that’s why you are on the denying side of the fence. Because if you accept what is happening, suddenly you’d have to take a long hard look at your own career choices. Because they contribute, don’t they? And you don’t want to do that, so you have these pre-conceived ideas about the world

Kindly educate yourself on the CO2 composition of the planet Venus and it’s surface temperature. And to all my connections, this is the real problem. The social intertia. That’s what I’m tackling here. It’s time to call out the bullshit “personal observations” for what they are. Personal observations.

Another climate change denier.

Ex-Scientist here. Look, you ‘deniers’ can’t go saying that just because one small stretch of history had faster warming than a more recent period, that that debunks the whole climate change argument. Because what is important is the TREND. The temperature can be dropping at nightfall, during winter, and even other events. But if the average daily temp is going up, and the average nightly temp is also going up, and the average summer and winter temps are also going up, then that is a WARMING TREND.

How many times do scientists keep having to repeat themselves, defending their own work? It’s ridiculous! I don’t see anyone debating with scientists about how or why the latest Apple iphone 7 works on an atomic level. No, you just accept that it does. You can’t take one part of science like the physics of semiconductors, exploit it, and then deny the other warnings from climate scientists and biologists. Because then you are cherry picking the fields of science that you want to be true… and science doesn’t work that way.

I think you’ve got to ask the motives of why some people still want to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence and consensus. And from some of the comments I have seen being made by climate change deniers on LinkedIn, it’s usually because they are working for oil companies, being paid bribes by oil companies, or own businesses that stand to lose money from climate change (such as construction companies, engineering companies, transport companies).

Why don’t we as scientists just come right out and say it?
Malcolm Roberts, you’re clearly an idiot.

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.

This is called “cherry picking science”.

A survey of more than 2,000 Australians by the Climate Institute has found 77 per cent believe climate change is occurring and 90 per cent believe the Federal Government has a responsibility to drive action on it. [source]

I say this to the other 23%. You know, the people that are about 2 decades behind the rest of the world.

Do you believe in phonon transport? What about PN junctions?
I never see people ‘disagreeing’ with other scientific discoveries (especially the many electronic discoveries that have made all of modern technology possible). And yet you put your trust in them every single day of your lives. Yet there is no ‘debate’ at all.

I think we all know here that most of the deniers these days are cherry picking the parts of science they want to agree or disagree with, based upon how much the outcome determines whether or not significant future changes would be needed in their own lifestyle choices. I.e big change required = non believer.

If I was a working scientist today, I’d probably want to go on strike.
We’re gettin’ madder!! And anger + scientists are not a good combination…

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…]