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.

“robot pollination”

I knew this day would come. People thinking we can replace nature’s services with robot technology…

I think it won’t work because of the following:

  • The energy requirements of robots are greater than insects. How long can a drone that small fly for? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? A bee flys all day long and doesn’t ever need to be “plugged in”; it refuels as it travels.
  • Bees and other insects already know what to do. They know where to go, how to get there, when to return, which flowers to visit. A bee already knows to avoid bad weather. They sleep in! No programming required!
  • Insects such as bees are already solar powered (they make their food from plants, which are powered by photosynthesis)
  • Robots are not currently biodegradeable and/or compostable. Are they? E-waste is a big problem today and this simply creates more of it. Recycling still requires the consumption of energy and the addition of new raw material to the batch.
  • Insects such as ants detect chemicals. They’re chemical detectors. That’s how they work (as far as I know). It’s not just their eyes, but their antannae.Do you want to know what the smallest CO² chemical detector is today? Unless there has been some amazing development in the field of gas chromatography that I am not aware of, current gas detectors would need to be mounted on a drone so big, that it would not be able to manouvre around individual flowers with enough precision. It would be like a fucking bald eagle trying to thread a needle with a cross wind.
  • Bees aren’t the only pollinators. There are pollinators even smaller than bees that can pollenise the tiniest of flowers only a few mm across.
  • Making one robot bee is not the same as making a whole swarm. Who is going to make the swarm? People? Or still more robots? So then there will be more “embodied energy” tied up in the manufacturing stage.
  • Most current manufacturing methods are not really sustainable in the long term. They just aren’t. Because they require things like lasers, magnets, chemicals, copper/PVC wiring, steel moulds, energy, transport.
  • Do we seriously see ourselves making an equivalent of the Earth’s biomass of insects for the next million+ years? Like a billion tonnes of robot bees? Where is all that material going to come from? More mines? Current mining operations endanger many species all over the world; habitat destruction will endanger further species… so it just seems to me that as we try to apply more and more technology to solve more problems, technology itself creates an ever-decreasing viscious circle.

Humans have this kind of “wait and see” approach, which I think is crap. Sure it “can be done”, but making robot bees is probably a thousand times less efficient than natural bees (if not a million times less).

I think it’s time robot technicians admitted something. That they cannot recreate a single bee, fly or mosquito. Like I say, is it biodegradeable, self-assembling, and self-regenerative? No. If you look at even the most advanced robot and then put an insect or bacterium alongside it, the natural version is way more advanced (even in terms of the hierarchical structure of the materials alone).

I’m open minded. I’m creative. I’m optimistic. But this is clunky at best. This is stupid. This is wrong. This will create more problems for ourselves. And I think anyone who knows about science, manufacturing, or ecology, will probably agree with me.

The way I see it, digging up the Earth is still quite a primitive thing to do. And there is only so much we can dig. Better to have a circular economy and manufacturing industry. That’s how nature does it, with zero waste!

I really think there is only one way we can go and that is a “less is more” approach. And I think if we don’t change, nature will simply force us to. It’s hard to be productive as well as profitable in a blizzard, a heatwave, a flood, etc.

I’ve been told that I shouldn’t even be garnering additional exposure for this idea by even discussing robot pollination, and to take my thoughts offline. But I think it’s better to leave this right up here so that some of my connections can put up their arguments as to why they think it won’t work. I’d particularly like to hear from biologists. Tell us all the ways insects are superior to synthetic robots. :)

Anthropogenic global warming – truth or fraud?

“It is very disturbing when the amorality of scientists unites the immorality of politicians.”  Jurandyr Arone Maues

“amorality of scientists”? You’ve got to be joking! Now you’ve done it.

Do you think scientists want global warming to be true? No, I can assure you that we don’t want it to be true. I personally would rather carry on regardless with my affinity for fossil-fuel powered sports motorbikes, BUT I can’t simply ‘forget’ my science education. Can I?

First of all, we’ve already told you. Many times over. But apparently non-scientists are not as ‘logical’ as scientists. Other things seem to get in the way of your reasoning. Things like lifestyle and belief systems. Social inertia. Conspiracy theories. Conservatives. Religion.

We could come up with the most irrefutable evidence you could imagine and still there would be loads of people that would think “it’s all a giant conspiracy”. Because they’re hooked on vehicles, consumer goods and international air travel. Right?

Most people are almost born with this ideology that “work is good” and “work can’t be bad”. It’s indoctrinated into us all through our schooling and beyond. We’re all taught to “do something of benefit”. People who are brought up with religion automatically think “man can do no harm”. Wrong! We invented the thermonuclear bomb. I think everyone agrees that they’re very destructive man-made things.

And the thing is, nuclear bombs are essentially atomic-scale devices. We invented all sorts of poisons that can kill off entire ecosystems. Guess what? Poisons are molecular scale devices also.

Almost every single change or consequence in this universe is brought about by the small scale influencing the big scale. For example, my expertise is in materials (that’s how I know about IR spectroscopy); every single material you can touch is influenced by the arrangement of its atoms. Every single one. It’s the difference between charcoal and diamond. They’re both carbon-based materials. The only difference is the atomic stacking. That’s it. That’s why superman can squeeze a lump of coal and turn it into diamond.

I think deniers need to just stop already and take a much-needed reality check. And fast. Just leave your preconceived ideas at the door. Is it so hard to believe that what we do affects our environment? Is it?! If we keep on making changes at the *local* scale, and we keep on doing this *all over the planet*, that means we are *already* doing things on a global scale. Just because you can’t SEE all of those exhaust pipes in front of you, doesn’t mean they’re not contributing.

Likewise, just because you can’t comprehend how a tiny thing like a molecule can influence a whole planet, doesn’t mean it’s not happening either. We already know that changes in one scale can and do influence another. There are storms all over the planet Venus for example. Do you know why? Well according to planetary scientists, it’s because of its atmosphere.

Do me a favour, read this. That’s the link between CO2 and absorption of radiation. That’s the mechanism right there. There is no doubt about the IR spectra of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

But it’s not a question of one lone molecule, is it? Do you know how much volume of gas one tonne of CO2 represents? Do you? 1 tonne of CO2 gas occupies 557 thousand litres.

Now try to imagine the NUMBER of molecules. It’s right up there. Forget tonnes. Forget litres. Let’s talk about the actual number of molecules for a change. The USA emits emits approximately 71,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of these molecules every single year. Do you see how many zeroes that is? That is no exaggeration. That is a real number estimate that I have personally calculated. We are talking “duodecillions” of molecules here, all over the world.

Now granted there are a lot of molecules in a teacup (a lot less than this, I can assure you). But I hope that at least *some* people who read this can now begin to see how this goes from being a molecular-scale problem to a planetary-scale problem.

And not only that. We know there are tipping points. We know about chaos theory. We know about “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”. What the hell am I on about now? Well for example if Hitler had have got into art school, instead of being rejected, then there WW2 probably wouldn’t have happened. Would it?

And the thing is, we can see the carbon dioxide concentration is increasing all over the world. So that is measurable. And the electromagnetic spectrum of greenhouse gases are also measurable (and let me tell you, their repeatability is undeniable).

Next deniers will tell you that plants love CO2. And so does phytoplankton. Not according to this study.

Well sorry to alarm you, but forests and oceans can’t seem to keep up. Because if they could, the CO2 concentration would stabilise. But it doesn’t. It keeps rising. And the more forests we cut down, the higher it goes. Indeed, it should already be obvious. Because if they loved the extra CO2, they would already be making use of it.

Do you know what those little serrations are on this graph? I read somewhere that each one of those jumps represents and entire growing season for deciduous plants (because there are more in one hemisphere than in the other). And judging by that graph, you can even see that the leaves fall from the trees faster than they grow. That’s what that is.

Those little zig-zag jumps you can see are the effectiveness of the planet’s lungs. Each year they take a breath. And each year, it looks like they are suffocating ever so slightly more. You might say the concentration of CO2 might not matter to them. It probably doesn’t. But the fact is, global warming would still occur even without any trees, as it does on the planet Venus, the “greenhouse capital” of the solar system.

And this problem we are facing is no different to another anthropogenic global problem: ozone hole problem. Remember? Nobody denied that! And I’ll tell you why nobody denied that. Because it was EASIER to give up CFCs and swap over to a different aerosol propellant, wasn’t it? Simple. Done.

Try to realise that if the Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t actually go on forever. It’s less than 10km thick. People commute more than that on a daily basis. Ethiopians walk more than that on a daily basis just to get enough water. It’s actually very thin when you think of it like that (as all astronauts and cosmonauts will tell you).

And that was what Carl Sagan was trying to say with his book “Pale blue dot”. Carl Sagan was truly brilliant at making ordinary people appreciate big and small numbers. Well I’m going to go one further than Carl. And I’m going to bring it right down to human-scale proportions. If the Earth’s atmosphere was condensed into a solid, it would be only 12.2 metres thick. That’s it. That’s all we’re playing with.

Now try to recall every single time you filled up your fuel tank. Can you remember? That’s 50kg or more at a time. If you had to carry that 50kg every time you filled up your car, you’d probably be more aware of the amount of carbon you’re burning. But it just flows up into the petrol bowser, down through the hose and out the nozzle without you even lifting a finger.

Now try to remember every single time you turned on a light switch or plugged something in. All that electricity had to come from somewhere too (like when coal and gas were scooped up by the truckload at all the mining sites dotted around this planet and burned in power stations that you can’t even see).

And now try to remember every single thing you have ever bought. Tonnes of invisible (invisible to you) carbon dioxide went into making all the stuff we buy. Tonnes. Incidentally, that is why the manufacturing industry doesn’t want to talk about climate change either (because they’re too involved in it).

Now. All that CO2. Have you planted that much carbon in the mean time? Has your garden grown and gained tonnes and tonnes of weight? Or has it been urbanised instead– chopped down and flattened? Has your soil got that much richer? No. The answer is “no it hasn’t”. All of that carbon has been taken from underground mines and dispersed into the atmosphere.

Try to think of all of that carbon being sprinkled onto the 12.2 metre frozen sea of air. Try to think of it that way. Try to think of all those duodecillions of molecules “doing their thing”. Try to think of it that way.

QED.

“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.

 

It’s back on with Adani…

Did you see the latest news? It’s back on with Adani.

I can also tell you right now that no amount of graphic design + branding is going to help that company now. None. It’s reputation is that fückéd. I wouldn’t touch it with a 10ft barge pole. And I encourage all my designer friends to do the same.

Government is not only blind, but deaf. (no offense to those without sight and/or hearing)

What I think is going to happen is that more and more Aussies are simply going to go off grid. Less tax for AUS government. There are always consequences… So I wish a nice big “fuck you” to Adani.

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]

 

 

Trophy hunter hypocrasy

Personally I think you trophy hunters are all basic cowards. Shooting animals from distance… Like wow.

And it’s always a giraffe. But they’re not venomous. Are they? So like they are really going to fight back… Wow. Or a zebra. They don’t appear to have claws either.

You had to take a selfie. You just had to take a selfie. That’s the thing with you trophy hunters, isn’t it? You always have to have a memento. But don’t serial killers always take mementos of their victims? I think they do. They might as well call it “souvenir hunting”.

And we all know that you greedy bastards want to collect the whole set, too. We know. Because they are all very “limited edition”, aren’t they? These endangered animals.

Is it really the thrill of the hunt? Or is it all just for that tacky piece of junk that is hanging on your wall that you need to keep there … to remind yourself every single day that “you’re really brave”. Yes I think that’s what it is. You all have such a subconscious inferiority complex, you need these bullshit reminders on your walls of your “manliness”. And you need to show it off to others, too.

And what’s this you little shit-turd? You killed a lion this time? With a gun. Well anyone can do that. Anyone with a finger.
And you put the gun over your shoulder like the little dip shit that you are, acting all ‘superior’. What’s that for?

But are you superior? Are you really? Let me tell you why you’re not superior, little man with a 4cm penis:

Because yes even crossbows are overpowered today. All those linkages. Made of advanced materials. You know. You know I know. Oh I know all about materials.

How about this? Next time, try it with a fucking wooden bow that you’ve carved from a tree that you cut down yourself. And no I don’t mean with a chainsaw. I mean you must chop that tree down by hand with an axe. To be fair. To be fair to the lion.

What about the string then? For the bow. Did you harvest that from natural fibres and make it into twine? I didn’t think so. You’re all using synthetic bow strings, aren’t you? Or is that what you are so convinced that human technology is ‘superior’, because of synthetic materials?

And the arrow. Let’s not forget the arrow. Did you also make that yourself? So you choose to make the arrow from metal. But let me ask you, hunter: did you obtain that metal from first principles? Including smelting from the ore? Did you dig that ore yourself? No. Did you light the fire for the smelting operation? Chop down that wood, too, by hand with an axe?

Something tells me that you didn’t. I didn’t think so. You did none of that. You all went to the shop and bought the metal rods. For the arrows. Didn’t you? Went in your car to get those? That’s what I thought. You drive more than me. And you think I pollute. You lot actually consume more than I do! And you thought it was the other way around…

And how did you shape that arrow? Not with a lathe! No, not with a lathe. Not with electricity that gets streamed right to your closest power outlet. I mean, lions don’t have electricity to help them out, do they? No they don’t. They don’t need electricity…

Here’s a thought. Why don’t you go and hunt with a knife? EH? Something tells me I don’t think you would be in that. Because then the risk is in the lions’ favour. Don’t fancy the odds? I thought not, coward.

You want a rush, you do it properly. Give the lion a fighting chance. Because how much adrenaline can you get from shooting fish in a barrel?

Maybe if you do all of the above, make your own bow and arrow, knife, using tools you made yourself, you’ll regain some of your actual life. And you won’t feel the need to shoot lions to feel ‘happy’. Maybe if you used your muscles a bit more, you might generate more endorphins that way.

And I see you strung up that lion. It’s like you’re trying to show people that it is an animal and you are the “all powerful” ‘human’. But you, too, are an animal. And I mean that in the derogatory sense, not in the sense of awe I have for a truly magnificent beasts that hunt every single day of their lives on the Serengetti.

Did someone help you haul that lion up there? Over that tree branch? Or did you do it all by yourself? Something tells me you had to order your pathetic cameraman ‘friend’ to help you out. I know your muscles simply are not big enough to move that lion even two lousy inches without help.

Not to mention the fact that the rope is acting like a pulley system, halving the effective weight. Wow, you lifted up a quarter of a dead lion. Wow. That must have been hard. You must be so proud of yourself! Well done. And I know you probably worked up more of a sweat lifting that dead lion two feet off the ground than actually pulling the trigger a few times too, didn’t you?

Because, you certainly didn’t hunt the lion on foot, did you? I mean if even this fat ugly bastard barely works up a sweat in an African climate, I’m sure you are making it too easy for yourselves. What do I mean by that? Too easy?

Well, you drove there in your comfortable safari jeep, powered with a diesel engine, didn’t you? It probably even has air-conditioning, doesn’t it? Well maybe on the ‘deluxe’ tour.

Oh sure you got out of the car AFTER driving all the way there from Cape Town. Or wherever. But you certainly did not arrive there on foot, you pathetic cheating little bastards.

Why not try cycling or walking, and hauling your own kit over there to the safari next time? Yes I’m talking about all the way from the international airport. Try actually using your leg muscles to get somewhere next time.

What bothers me is that you like to act all “tough and manly”. Yes even the trophy-hunter-bitches like to be all “tough and manly” too (because they’re probably just lesbians and don’t even realise it or won’t admit it to themselves). It’s okay to be butch you know. Or bi. It’s okay. Better to lick pussy than kill lions.

But, again, I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, you like to all “tough and manly”. But did you walk all the way to Africa from your hometown? Did you swim or row over the Atlantic ocean? No. I didn’t think so. You flew there. Well you didn’t fly. The plane flew. And you just sat there watching television. Once again, a ‘wow’ is in order. Wow. Gettting served your meals directly in your lap. Having other people carry your water for you.

And so you you claim you are “helping the environment”. But the flight to Africa certainly isn’t helping out the atmosphere, is it?

Oh that’s right, you ultra-conservative religious gun-toting motherfuckers don’t ‘believe’ that humans can cause something like that. It seems to me your puny little brain does not comprehend physics or chemistry. But I digress…

Even if you don’t believe in climate change, that flight you took —like everything we do in this world— has an ecological cost. You have just polluted the air.

But it’s not just that. Planes require fuel. And that fuel has do come from somewhere. And where does it come from? That’s right, it always comes from natural spaces, doesn’t it? And the metal in that plane. That metal has do come from somewhere. And where does it come from? That’s right, it too comes from natural spaces. The very same natural spaces you claim to care most about. Oh the hypocrasy!

Now you could argue that the plane was going to fly to Africa anyway, even without you. But something tells me you don’t think too much. All you alpha-male hunter types. You have a little too much latent testosterone. And not quite enough IQ to match.

By your own fucked-up “hunting logic”, modern aviation is supposedly not ‘sustainable’ either, is it? Or had you conveniently forgotten about that part of your trip? You know… all the modern things in life that you’re taking advantage of…

All this time, you have been sitting on your fat arse getting driven and flown to places! And meanwhile, what you think of as a ‘lesser’ lion has —all this time— been hunting on his own. No guns. No bows and arrows. No gunpowder. No laser cut blades. Just claws and teeth mate. Claws and teeth. No composites. No ceramics. No steel or cast iron or bronze. No metal whatsoever. No plastic handles. Not even natural materials like cotton or wood, for the lion.

No lap meals for the lion. No air conditioning. No television. No flight crew. Not even so much as a fucking tent for shelter. And yet you have a nice soft mattress to sleep on, princess!

I think, to be fair, you should have to fight the lion with no materials, no technology at all. Just you and your bare hands. Learn some karate maybe? Or maybe you could try to bite the lion with your own teeth, just in the right spot. Estrangulation? Or maybe you could grow your hair long, draw some of your own blood, make a composite out of that and try to suffocate it that way. But you’d have to be pretty quick. Lions don’t like being crept up on. They tend to kill unarmed people.

Now, see, I’m not some tree-hugging vegan. I don’t view the world with rose tinted glasses. I know lions get killed. And I know tribes eat lions. I think you should be forced to eat that entire lion within one week. Not with the help of your miserable friends, but, you know, on your ownsome. But I am starting to become vegetarian, because I don’t like the way meat is farmed.

Would you try to hunt me down if you knew I was armed? If I could shoot back? I don’t think so. I really don’t think so.

Quite frankly, I don’t even think of you as human. You are not part of my species. You don’t belong.

It’s too bad the law defines you as human. Were it legal, I would hunt YOU down! I might do it from a mile off. Or I might just walk up to you and shoot you in the face. I wouldn’t even think twice, because to me, you are not human.

You disgust me, trophy hunter.

It takes real courage to admit that a lion is the greater beast here among men.

Design disappointment.

Today I’m going to share with you a little secret that’s been bugging me lately

It’s about one of my inner-most feelings about the design industry. For several months now, I’ve been getting disappointed. I have a bit of a dilemma. A moral dilemma 1.

Here it is: there seem to be very few what I call “ethical designers”. And that worries me.

I know because rarely do the creatives ever ‘like’ my environmental posts on LinkedIn. Rarely. Almost never.

Now keep in mind that probably about half of my connections work in the design industry. They’re senior graphic designers. They’re art directors. Executive creative directors. Chief creative officers. Important people. Important people with important accounts.

Designers are supposed to lead the way when it comes to new trends. I mean, fashion designers have the power to change what a billion people wear, within the space of a year (or less). Right?

And yet on this subject, the environment, most designers are suspiciously silent. And I think I know why. I strongly suspect it’s because there’s this so called ‘professional’ [read: confidential] client relationship.

In other words, the never seem to speak up, because they are too afraid that they are going to lose money. Not just with customers, but with their real clients, the businesses that hire them to design. You can’t be seen to criticise the business that gives you work. Like they say, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.

Here’s the thing. If people say or do the wrong thing —like the wrong post say— then they lose the account. I know because one of my design teachers told me. If anyone is caught drinking Pepsi in the design room when the Coke representative walks in, your agency loses the Coke account. That’s the way it works.

You see, I really think designers are forgetting just how difficult it is to accomplish good design. I think they’re underestimating themselves. They’re selling themselves short. And I think they should act a bit more like they way they were in highschool. Back then they were the trendsetters. The people who dared to be different. The people who stood against the status quo. Those rebellious kids. The cool ones, you know.

I would like to see the designer charge three, five or ten times more than they normally would for their design. Use that extra money. Give half of it to an enviornmental charity. But I would prefer to see you refuse the brief altogether. Don’t do it. Not for any amount of money!

People who changed the world in the past were never really popular during their time. People like Galileo questioned the status quo. And now today we have satellite communication and GPS navigation systems.

It could be that my “save the planet” content is preferentially served to all my conservation connections. But somehow I doubt it. Many creatives would have seen my posts as well. Many. They lurk, they don’t like. I’ve noticed.

And I was actually going to write this on my LinkedIn feed, but decided to write about it here instead. Because over there, it’ll only become very ‘awkward’.

I’ve also noticed that whenever I post a ‘controversial’ update or comment, I get about three times the number of people looking at my profile. They’re probably checking out who is making all the waves. But they never say anything. Not even privately.

It’s like they’re thinking something like this behind my back: “well if he doesn’t know, we’re not going to tell him; more work for us”.

I know how social groups work. If you say something controversial enough, something to upset people enough, something that goes against the norm, something that people can’t deal with, you risk getting expelled. Banned from the group. And I don’t want that to happen. I’d still like to get a few illustration commisions.

I know how the world works. I know it runs with money. I’m not stupid or naïve. So it’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing. Oh no; I know exactly what I’m doing. I also know something that most designers don’t know. I know a thing or two about science.

In that respect, I suppose my training is pretty unique because I have a strong background in science but my most recent qualification was a diploma of graphic design. So I speak the dual languages of science and design. I don’t know too many ex-scientists designers. None, in fact.

The thing is, I can’t forget my past. No matter how hard I try. I can’t not be a scientist. I trained for more than ten years to be a scientist. I can’t forget who I was or who I am today. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t. Sometimes I wish I could forget. Then I could probably ignore all these conservationists and and indigenous people and just “get on with being ‘successful’ “.

It’s not that science and design are incompatible. Oh they are perfectly compatible alright. Yes business, design and science are indeed all compatible. But not when it comes to big corporations they’re not. Because the bigger the company, the less accountable the employers, employees and customers all become.

The bigger a company, the more ethical rules they seem to break. Seriously. Environmental rules. Especially when it comes to the following industries: mining, engineering, manufacturing, development, construction and transport/logistics. They just don’t give a fuck. Or so it seems.

I know enough to know that there are many unknowns in science. But for every ‘unkown’, there are ten or a hundred ‘knowns’. Science is pretty good. Science works. Your computer works. Your smart phone works. Your iwatch works.

The trouble with designers staying silent is this. The bigger the account gets, the less people see the effect of their design decisions. Designers are not seeing the impact.

But what is worth more? The account? Or the planet? If we lose the planet, we lose pretty much all future accounts. Right? Riiight?

So my new rule of business is that I only want to work towards a better future, not a worse one. Otherwise, what’s the point?

If we are all working towards a worse future, if all there is is “now”, if that is so important, why bother working at all? Why bother building cities, freeways and skyscrapers? Why bother with children and grandchildren? You tell me. What is the fucking point? What is the fucking point of having children if this world is not sustainable?

And don’t get me wrong, I try to live in the ‘now’ as much as humanly possible. It’s just that I also consider the future as well as the past (which I think is wise).

When a client comes to you asking for a rebrand, they’re obviously thinking about the future, aren’t they? They are looking for a newer, better future. Right?

So what I would like to see is this: I would like to see creative executives have the balls to say to someone like Mr Gautami Adani something like this:

“well the thing is, Mr Adani, we can’t actually make your logo any cooler, accessible or friendly, you’re asking the impossible. Fossil fuels have become out of vogue, out of fashion, we can’t change that. No one can change that. Solar and wind are “in”. Coal is out.”.

I would like to see Chief Creative Officers, Executive Design Directors remind the CEO, the CFO, the board of directors about the future. Remind them that they are hoping for a better ‘future’ design, hence, they must care about the future. That’s why they’re investing money. Because they’re hoping for a better future.

I’d like to see more people remind these fools at the top just why the environment has to come before business. And then maybe the business owners and investors would insist on a newer, more sustainable, ecological design. Who else is going to design for them?

I think it’s absurd that people are too afraid to even say anything. Everyone should be able to harp on about the environment as much as they bloodywell like without fear of losing their job. Otherwise, we are all fückéd ladies and gentlemen. Fückéd!

Here’s what I would like to say to all investors. I would like to walk into a boardroom meeting and draw this fucken equation on the board:

no environment = no business = no profit.

Because I can tell you one thing right now. People can see straight through a logo or a design. I used to think a great logo was everything. but it’s just an identity mark.

If the companies’ ethics and morals aren’t in the right place, then people will eventually go with the ugly logo. I love a good logo, I do. I choose companies based on their logos and their design. True! But once I turn on a company, there’s almost no going back. If I had to choose between designer logos and saving the planet, bring on the ugly logos.

People are fickle. Customers will change banks. No amount of design can be used to sell a horrible company to well-informed people. That might have worked in 1990. Or even the year 2000. But this is the age of information, the age of connection.

 

The reason is that money can only be used to ‘offset’ things up to a certain point. And I think we are fast getting to that point, if it isn’t already behind us. Beyond that point, money doesn’t do any good. Sure money can buy a forest. Money cannot buy us a new atmosphere or a stable, unpeturbed weather system. Money cannot buy a clean ‘new’ planet. That is not how the world works.

Sometimes I like to entertain the idea of hypothetical situations, because I find them to be very insteresting. For example. if the major powers launched all of their nuclear weapons (more or less simultaneously), then how much would it cost to ‘fix’ the planet afterwards? What if it couldn’t be ‘fixed’? What then? That’s one reason we try to avoid a nuclear holocaust. Because we know about the consequences.

Things can’t keep on going on like they’ve always done. Again, the world doesn’t work that way. I know that’s not the way it is at the moment.

You may think I am some hippie nutter. But I’m not. I am a bit of a dreamer though. I don’t really care too much about money. I care that what I think, what I say, and what I do are all aligned — in the right direction.

So where am I going with this? A few years ago I read that whenever an organisation grows, it reaches a critical size of about 150 people. That is the maximum number of people we can efficiently deal with. Beyond that and things get too disconnected and bureaucratic. Efficiency goes down.

So these days I prefer to work with smaller businesses. That’s what my gut instinct tells me to do. Businesses that are small enough to change and adapt. Businesses that are able to put the environment first. They’re the ones who I want to trade with.

 

 

 

The true value of soil

Food practically grows all by itself on planet Earth.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.

Let me ask you something: do we actually ‘make’ our own food? Do we? The answer is “no we do not make our own food”. We just throw pre-existing seeds in the ground and make sure most of them get enough water to sprout. We don’t make it from first principles; it grows all by itself from the soil! We simply harvest that food (once it has already grown).

Let me ask you the next question: do we humans ‘make’ soil? Not can we make it, do we make it? Again, no. Bacteria, worms and insects do that for us. Sure we might put organic matter such as apple cores, banana skins and orange peels onto the old compost pile and think we’re making

loads more soil. We might even throw things like paper and cardboard onto our compost as well and think we’re creating heaps and heaps and heaps of soil.

But are we? What are we really doing? Once gain, where did that apple core come from? Where did that banana skin come from? Where did that paper come from? Where did those trees come from? The chances are you’ll find that most of it wasn’t hydroponically produced (using liquid fertilisers and zero soil). Was it? No. It was mosty farmed, from pre-existing soil. And I’m guessing that that soil, ladies and gentlemen, took thousands and thousands and thousands of years to form.

And so you might say: “well okay, I know people that actually eat 100% hydroponically-grown foods, I’ve seen it”. And again I ask: but the people who made the hydroponic setup, did they also get all of their food from hydroponically grown plants? What about the people who made all that fertiliser? What about the people who built the whole darn fertiliser setup? What about the people who transported all of the above? And what about the people who built the vehicles so that all of that lot could be transported? Did they all eat hydroponically grown food too?

Is everyone in that hydroponics industry only eating 100% hydroponically-grown foods? Short answer? No. So my point is that at the moment, even if we can hydroponically grow a bunch of food, it’s being heavily, massively subsidised by nature.

Do you know how many apple cores, banana skins and orange peels it takes to make just one kilogram of soil? The answer is: I don’t know, because I lost count. What I can tell you is that I have been throwing ALL of my organic scraps, and those of a second person, into one giant green 400L bin for the past two years. Everything from my hair to my paper offcuts. And it has never filled up. But how much soil did all that organic matter take to produce in the first place, for two people? I’m willing to bet that it was WAY more than just 400 litres.

So is it any wonder that farmers commit suicide, when they tell us that the quality of soil is falling?

We certainly tend to the plants. We avoid flooding unless we’re growing rice. But what I think humans really do is collect, store and distribute food. If we had to do all of that for 7 billion people, for 7 million people, for even 7 thousand people, with no air, no water and no soil to begin with, I think you’d see scientists really starting to scratch their heads. Can’t be done! It just can’t be done.

In other words, we’re not somehow magically separated from nature. Scientists are never really able forget this. If seven, eight, nine or ten billion people want to live on this planet for more than a few centuries into the future, then we’re going to have to re-evaluate our values and our priorities. I think it’s time we refocus our efforts on Earth (even Carl Sagan’s last book, pale blue dot was as much about Earth as deep space and look how ‘into’ deep space adventures he was).

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…]

The principle of “the five whys”.

It’s called “the five whys”. And it’s one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.

I think more people should use this technique so that we can improve society. What is it? What does it entail?

It was ‘invented’ at the Toyota corporation as a method of determining the root cause of something unwanted. You keep asking the question why, a bit like a bratty little kid who first figures out the true power of the word ‘why’.

The central idea is to keep on asking ourselves the ‘why’ questions — we keep asking ourselves why something is so, even if we might not like the answers.

For example, if we apply the principles of the five whys to depression, we may discover the true cause of depression (at least in some people). Scientists have got to the point that they can determine whether someone is depressed based on their brain chemistry. Right, but do they then ask the further question: what causes those brain chemicals to be different? One line of research will lead to a ‘cure’. But the other will lead to ‘prevention’. Which is better? I already know the answer.

It’s no good knowing about brain chemicals if we don’t know what factor change the chemicals in the first place. Otherwise we will never prevent depression, we will only have a ‘cure’. So I think asking the five whys in terms of depression is a simple but effective approach. I think that is part of the success of the very simple approach to holistice medicine.

And this is why I think psychology is a very powerful and underrated tool. Because psychologists, unlike psychiatrists, get to the root causes. Psychologists are already three steps ahead of the scientists studying brain chemistry. Because first of all, psychologists have already figured this out. Secondly, they are already asking the five whys. In fact, they are asking a hundred or even a thousand whys. And they already know that depression has triggers. It’s their job to look for the triggers.

The triggers in my case are a mixture of genetic and environmental. They are genetic because I’m told that I have the ‘melancholy’ or inhereted type of depression as opposed to aquiring depression. That’s all I know.

I can tell you right now what causes my depression, what triggers it. I’m going to do this in point form:

  • Firstly, seeing concrete everywhere. I believe that it’s a horrible ugly material. It’s overused, it’s grey and —unlike nature— it’s very prone to being sprayed with graffiti.
  • Suburbs. Yes. suburbs. I generally find suburbs ugly and therefore depressing. Particularly places that have been either not well designed or overdesigned. That includes all forms of urbanisation, land clearing and ‘development’.
  • I generally find any place without trees quite literally depressing. So in my opinion, if you’re a town planner or an architect, and you’re reading this, the best thing you can do is a) design around existing trees b) plant more trees (and not just in a hole in the asphalt, because as one person put it: “a tree is a community”)
  • Cars with exhaust pipes. Because I have known for some 25 years now about global warming. It’s time to stop producing fucking internal combustion engines already and build more electric-powered cars.
  • Grass. I find the patch of mono-specific grass to be unnatural and therefore depressing. I think back gardens need to look more like meadows. That would attract bees and other insects like dragonflies.
  • Lately, mowers. Why do we even mow grass? Really, what for? If we don’t like long grass, why did we put it there to start with? Depressing.

Today, that’s all I’d like to talk about. But in future I will return to the subject of the five whys, but next time it will be applied to GMOs.

Putting trophy hunters in their place

This is a mile long rant in response to a trophy hunter on Quora. You’ve been warned.

Your ‘answer’ has been downvoted. What a bunch of self-righteous CRAP. Practically everything you say is complete rubbish. The most ridiculous arguments I have read all year.

  1. I just did an IUCN campaign on carnivorous plants, okay. many of which are endangered through poaching. So that invalidates that argument… just because you don’t see other campaigns as frequently, doesn’t mean that people don’t care about other strange and less-well known animals.
  2. No. Just no. First off, I don’t eat meat. Even so, there’s no way in hell that chickens, cows and sheep were ever in danger of going extinct. So that’s part of it. Lions used to roam by the 100,000. Furthermore, Cecil apparantly suffered for 40 hours. Average factory animals don’t suffer tha long at the time of slaughter.
  3. You can’t compare Lance Armstrong with Walter Palmer. My gosh that you are clutching at straws there. Yes it is ‘unsportsmanlike’. Just take a look at this fat bastard Michael Robinson. Notice I didn’t say fat ‘rich’ bastard? I know it’s not Walter Palmer, but don’t tell me that he’s a great ‘sportsman’. In my eyes, trophy hunting will never be deemed a sport, even if you can tally up a ‘score’. It’s basically going around murdering other creatures! How the féck is that sport? I suppose you think ISIS are sportsmen too do you? Same. They behead their victims too.
  4. Yes the giraffe is more beautiful than the stupid women that kill them. I’m sorry you don’t seem to understand that. If Kendall Jones was the last woman on Earth, okay, and she pulled that shit in front of me, I’d still rather cook the woman up and eat her flesh than procreate with her in order to save humanity.I don’t find rhinos to be particularly ‘beautiful’. They’re big. Cute maybe, but not beautiful. And if she killed a rhino instead of a giraffe, I’d *still *rather cook the woman up and eat her flesh than procreate to save humanity. Got it?  So beauty alone has nothing to do with it.

    It’s about having empathy, compassion and respect. Of course, you were probably indoctrinated as a child to think that that humans are above all other creatures.

  5. I don’t care how rich or poor Walter Palmer and others are. That has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with it. He could be homeless and I’d still react the same way! He could be a billion dollars in debt and I’d still react the same way!
  6. Actually what’s fasinating is how shocked some hunters are when you talk about killing and treating humans in EXACTLY the same way as the animals they themselves slaughtered. There is no difference between a human and an animal. No difference! We are all animals. That’s where trophy hunters go wrong. They see themselves as superior.

In fact, as I’ve said before, if there are 7,000 of one species, and 7,000,000,000 of the other, guess which I appreciate and value more? That’s right, the rarer breed. Not to say that I wish the average Joe on the street harm. Just the ones that threaten the rarer species.

Doesn’t have to be critically endangered. A statue such as ‘threatened’ or “least concern” is enough for me to show empathy, compassion and respect. Especially if it has faced dwindling numbers or near extinction (like for example blue whales, fin whales).

Yes, some animal lovers really do hate some humans. What’s wrong with that? I don’t see anything wrong with that at all.

Are you bothered by the fact that some animal lovers have a million times more respect for an ‘animal’ than a human? I think so. I think this fundamentally distrubs some hunters and their visions of other human beings. Or are trophy hunters so naive that they think that all animal lovers are all-loving, all-caring ‘nice’ people incapable of real and negative emotions? We’re just as capable of anger and revenge. The thing is, we would be more inclined to consider Walter Palmer’s family before doing anything stupid. Not to mention jail time.

What, trophy hunters think that animals lovers can’t get mad or violet? Wrong!

I think more surprising is the typical shocked reaction of pro-trophy hunters when the barrage of death wishes arrives. What, do you think trophy hunters are respected by their fellow humans? Wrong. They’re completely reviled, and it has nothing to do with any of the 5 or 6 points you make.

I can assure you that more people would wish them dead, except that they can’t speak out for fear of being “politicially incorrect”. They may not send a death threat or wish any suffering upon another being, but I bet they sure wish trophy hunters would simply vanish completely off the face of the Earth…

It’s not that Cecil was famous. That was just the icing on the cake… it was really the last straw. It’s really what made people aware that this is still going on after decades.

So I have a message to trophy hunters, don’t think that the rest of the world is at peace with you slaughtering African animals that aren’t ‘famous’. That’s just being igorant.

It’s that people the world over are fed up with both trophy hunters and poachers. People don’t want to see some fucktard grinning with overly whitened teeth mounting a majestic but dead lion on their wall. Most people want nothing to do with it. Don’t even compare it to ‘sport’.
Yes in Cecil’s case it’s probably the fact that that lion had a name. So people could empathise with it more.

But it’s not 1916. Or 1816 for that matter. It’s 2016. Maybe in 1980 Walter could’ve gotten away without being doxxed. But not today.

So. If you trophy hunters don’t want to be the victim of a barrage of hate, I suggest the following:

  • don’t ever take a selfie with a dead or a dying animal, especially not wearing makeup and smiling like a jackass and NEVER I repeat NEVER lying down next to them pretending theat they are still alive and just sleeping.
  • don’t ever kill anything outside your own country. Because that’ll never be seen as ‘good’ — even if it’s under the guise of “population management”. Why not? Because your fucking carbon footprint flying over there and back again just prevented you from being at all ‘sustainable’, that’s why.
  • don’t ever say that you are trophy hunting for ‘conservation’. Because if you are, why not simply donate the money straight to an environmental charity of your choice?

Combine all three points aboce and you have a sure fire recipe to be on the receiving end of that barrage of hate I was talking about earlier.

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…]

How to access climate change science journal articles

I’m starting to get a bit pissed with people on this whole climate change issue.

Really I am. People are still disagreeing and it isn’t because of the underlying science being wrong or anything to do with that. It’s because their lifestyle is in jeopardy. Or their job. Or their world view.

I can tell you that scientists could not give a toss either way. The thing that matters most for any true scientist is data, getting as accurate data as possible, analysing the data, discussing the data, and perhaps drawing some conclusions based on the data.

A good scientist keeps an open mind. They accept the results. Most research scientists I know are voracious readers. They seek the truth.

So here’s a story. Before I started my doctorate, I hadn’t even read any science papers. I had a materials science degree and I had not really been exposed to this whole new level of academic research. And when I started my PhD, in 1999, science papers were simply not talked about in the general public. So it was all quite new to me.

I also think that during any undergraduate degree, there are plenty enough university textbook to have to read. So I think most undergraduate scientists try to avoid the library as much as possible.

A large university can have 10,000 very nerdy students enrolled in it. But you never see even 1000 people in a library. Right? So the only reason to go to a library when you’re an undergrad, is when you have to do an assignment. Everyone else either works their, is doing a masters, a Ph.D, or they’re a lecturer or professor. I kid you not.

So when I started my doctorate, 4 years after I started my first degree, I literally started to get overwhelmed at the amount of scientific literature out there.

Much of this science research is ‘hidden’. I don’t mean on purpose. I mean, it’s not easily accessible, because much of it is not accessible through the web. Mainly because science was around well before the internet.

Anyway, the point is that you can’t always google everything. There’s a lot of stuff out there that hasn’t even been indexed by google!

So. How to get access to these journals then? Well, if the journal doesn’t have a webpage, they’re mainly accessible through university library databases. And there are many databases, like these.

Most science research is freely available. Meaning, you should never have to pay for articles. Subscriptions to journals only really cost money because they need to be edited and printed. Also, libraries pay for many of these annual subscriptions (well, the most popular ones at least).

So for the measly sum of about $10 per year, the cost of an annual library membership, you too can have access to practically any journal article you wish to read. So the cost of these subscriptions is subsidised by the university. How does a library get money then? Membership fees, university fees, tuition fees, and a mediocre amount of government funding. I suppose.

So the point is that you can fairly easily get access to pdfs of science papers through a library, and you might not have to pay anything.

There is a lot of collaboration between scientists. So you can always simply email one of the authors and they will gladly send it to you for free. Scientists will gladly share pdf articles with anyone and no that is not at all illegal, it’s encouraged.

Note that if you have never been into a library, don’t be afraid. Most librarians are glad to help. If you find a grumpy one, they’re probably just having a bad day, so find someone else and ask them instead. There’s honestly nothing worse than a grumpy librarian.

More and more journals are becoming “open access”, meaning anyone can freely access them.

So here’s a link to the open-access journal “American Journal of Climate Change”, for example:

http://www.scirp.org/journal/ajcc/

Literally *hundreds* of papers freely available if you click on the ‘pdf’ or ‘html’ links, and this is just ONE journal of MANY that are all dedicated to the Earth’s climate.

Or you can simply join any science university library, walk in there and peruse the shelves and be overwhelmed the old-fashioned way…

By all means people can disagree with the findings, but if you’re going to do that and have any chance of winning an argument against a scientist, you should first at least educate yourself, otherwise you’re simply what I call ‘ignorant’.

Les calls out the GWPF for what it is.

Some people are saying this document is:

“Shortest possible explanation of the climate change situation. Not political, but scientific”

I’ve decided to host this document. So that other people can’t change what it contains. It could have been written by anyone, for anyone. But it wasn’t written by just anyone, for anyone. Have a read of it if you want. But don’t pay too much attention to what it says.

Firstly, look at who it was written for. It was written for the ‘GWPF‘. Which is an acronym for the “Global Warming Policy Foundation“. That might sound innocent. But it is just a name. And who registered that website? Someone called Benny Peiser registered it.

And how do I know that it was written for the GWPF? When the GWPF isn’t even mentioned anywhere in the entire article?

And neither are any other authors for that matter? How do I know?

Well, just look at the pdf document properties. And you will see this as the original title: “Microsoft Word – climate models for GWPF.docx

And yet the filename, upon pdf export, was later changed to simply “climate-models.pdf“. Wow. Are people really that dumb? That they’d forget to delete the “for GWPF” part?

And here are some quotes from wikipedia about Benny Peiser:

“As an outspoken climate change sceptic, Peiser became director of the newly established UK lobbying group Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2009. He serves as co-editor of the journal, Energy & Environment and is a regular contributor to Canada’s National Post.”

“The GWPF, headquartered in a room rented from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining,[27] was created in part in response to the 2009 Climatic Research Unit email controversy, a series of emails from the University of East Anglia (UEA).”

And here is the info on the board of GWPF trustees:
http://www.thegwpf.org/who-we-are/board-of-trustees/

Go on, have a look at that link. And have a look at the front page while you’re at it.

Do you notice something? They all have titles like ‘lord’, ‘sir’ and ‘baroness’. In other words, entitled people who do not wish to change their lifestyle. Which is fine. But you cannot tell me that an article that was written specifically for them is unbiased.

Here is what the climate change debate is really all about:

a) Whether you think humans are impacting our environment (most certainly we do) and
b) Whether we as individuals are prepared to accept and take some responsibility for our actions and change our lifestyles accordingly. (unfortunately, many people are not at all prepared to give anything up for anybody)

Now I don’t have anything against ‘lords’, ‘sirs’ and ‘baronesses’. Except somehow I doubt they are willing to change their current lifestyles. Because I am willing to bet that they are rather ‘cushy’. And hence, they sit squarely on the denialist side of the fence.

Any “climate” org that talks so much about “the billion dollar cost of the climate change act”, like here:
www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2016/12/CCACost-Dec16.pdf
Is not a real org. They are a business funding the org.

Scientists never mention money in their publications about climate change. Or anything else for that matter. Money does change whether the planet is heating or not. It is completely irrelevant to the facts.

So, no. No I don’t want to read that article. Because the conclusions are already foredrawn. ;-)

Madonna: “I’ve thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House”

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Madonna performs onstage during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)

It’s good to see Madonna can still provoke a reaction from people after all these years.

Personally, I think many of you cannot even understand plain and simple English. If you interpret that as some kind of idle threat.

It’s not a threat at all. It’s called “a thought crime”…

And yes people can talk in public about their thought crimes (although they probably shouldn’t). They should probably only talk about their thought crimes with their psychologist/psychiatrist.

Let me analyse this for you. The following sentences all have VERY different meanings:

For example,

1. “I’ve thought a lot about blowing up the White House” (no I haven’t)
2. “I’d like to blow up the White House” (no I wouldn’t)
3. “I want to blow up the White House” (no I don’t)
4. “I’m going to blow up the White House”  (no, I’m certainly not)

The first two stages are not violent at all. And they are not even threats of violence. They are just simple, honest feelings.

Get it now?

People are not even arrested until it is proven that they are at level 5, 6, 7, 8, actually planning the act, or about to do the act, in which case they would be saying really heavy things that make your palms sweat, like this:

5. “Tomorrow I’m going to buy XYZ bomb and then I am going to blow up the White House.” (no, I’m not really)
6. “I’m buying XYZ explosives right now and then I’m going to blow up the White House.” (impossible, because I’m sitting right at my home computer)
7. “Yesterday I bought XYZ explosives and now I’m on my way to blow up the White House.” (that was a dirty big lie… you know, something that Trump seems to do a lot of)
8. “I’ve infiltrated the White house, I’ve placed the XYZ explosives and I am about to press the button.” (well no, that was obviously just a fictional sentence)

Madonna was at “level one”.
And I am writing this from Australia.
I’m not planning on ever going to washington, or anywhere in America for that matter. Certainly not while Trump is president anyway.
So please, calm the fuck down.

If you’re offended by what Madonna said, perhaps you should study communication, literature or psychology? So you can fully grasp and understand what people say and what they mean when they say it.

Of course, someone will probably take what I’ve written completely out of context now. Whatever. I’m actually hoping some conservatives find this page and land on it. Just so they can read the rest of what I have to say. Because that’s the whole point of this blog, to get more people to change.


Okay, so for the remainder of this blog post, I’m going to talk about Anger, materials and the environment. Because that’s what this is really all about (at least for me). Anger, materials and the environment.

Madonna is just showing you how fucken angry she is. And she, along with 100s of millions of people are angered right along side with her. And rightly so.

And she’s allowed to be angry. She has every fucking right to be angry. And, no, it’s not some sort of federal crime to say that either.

Ok. Why? Why are we –the left— so fucken angry?

I for one am “very fucking angry” because basically I think [Read more…]

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.

 

This is your mother Earth speaking.

Hello, this is mother Earth speaking.

Look, I’m sorry but we really need to talk. This has gone on long enough. I thought I wouldn’t come to this. But you leave me no choice. You’re one of my three dearest children. I know I gave birth to you all and everything…

But you’ve been living under my roof for tens of thousands of years now… and you still haven’t moved out yet! Your father isn’t around anymore so I’m just going to have to start charging you board and lodgings. You’ve always using up all my oxygen and you never contribute to making any of it! So I’m just going to have to start charging you for it.

It costs money to produce pure oxygen you know! And you keep burning it all! Oxygen does grow on trees you know! But you insist on cutting them all down now, don’t you? What do you have to say for yourself? Well?! So what do you think is going to happen?

Look. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Don’t come crying to me when your room fills up with CO2!

What’s that? You don’t believe me? You still don’t believe in climate change? Just look at your sister’s room! Now tell me… I bet you’d conveniently forgotten about her. No, I didn’t think so.

Venus left her room in one hell of a state when she moved out. And now look at it! Look at it!! It’s a right runaway greenhouse mess now – I’ll never be able to clean it up! There’s acid rain in there and everything! I can’t even touch the floor of her room, it’s so hot. 462°C. What kind of a temperature is that? So let that be a lesson to you!

And what’s going on with your water? You keep pissing in the fresh water! Your father and I have told you time and time again not to do that. And all this time we thought you were toilet trained. But if that weren’t bad enough – you try to hide the evidence by flushing it all with even more fresh water! As if that helps anything!

You sneak about after dark poisoning all of that valuable organic waste with all sorts of horrible drugs. I don’t know where you even get a hold of those chemicals!

And if that weren’t bad enough, then you go out into other people’s backyards, dig everything up trying to look for something to fertilise the plants here with! Didn’t your aunt teach you better than that? Where are your manners? You know you should be going to the toilet directly in the garden. How many times do I have to tell you? Why do you insist on wasting all of our hard-earned nutrients like that? I just don’t understand it. You’ll send us all broke if you keep it up! Don’t make me force you to wear diapers again! Just imagine the look the asteroids would give you…

Do I really have to remind you of your little brother Mars? To this day nothing will grow in his room! To this day!! I thought you would’ve known better. That’s what happens when you don’t take responsibility for your own water usage. There’s barely a drop in the whole room now! Nothing will grow there anymore — and I do mean nothing.

I thought after your little NASA moon escapade over the weekend that you’d have a little more respect for your own mother, after you saw first hand how hard it is to live in outer space on your own. I thought you’d begin to appreciate exactly how hard it is to make it by yourselves. But no. Do you think it ever becomes ‘easy’, to live in outer space? I can assure you it’s not! Not even for me. And I’ve had 5 billion years of practice.

There are bills to pay. Laws. Regulations. Responsibility. Right now you just don’t have enough responsibility!

I told your father I didn’t like you hanging around that crowd of friends at school! You’ve picked up all these bad habits from them haven’t you? It’s not like you don’t have your own income either. Is it? You’ve got more than enough money coming in. But you waste it all on bullshit material things. Things you don’t need instead of the things that really matter. So how about you helping out your ol’ mum from time to time?

Open letter to William Henry ‘Bill’ Gates.

Dearest Bill Gates:

I have been with you since windows 3.1. Since dos 2.0 even. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?

And I see you have done really well. Your operating systems are installed on the majority of computers around the world. You’ve been “the world’s richest man” since as long as I can remember. Forbes tells me that you’ve topped the list seventeen times out of the last thirty years. Wow, that really is some accomplishment! I suppose I owe you a belated congratulations:

“Congratulations”.

William, may I call you William instead of Bill? Bill reminds me so much of, well, money. So William, we all know that you have made a lot of money out of all of these software and hardware upgrades. A lot. You have exploited the rise of technology at every step of the way. Well okay. Someone had to do it.

But now I think you’ve gone too far. Yes you’ve gone that little bit too far.

Let’s get down to business. Here’s the thing. If I lose the ability to choose what my system does and when –a system I paid for– then by installing windows 10, ultimately I’m ceding control of my computer (not to mention my wallet) to you. Aren’t I? And I don’t like the sound of that.

So. Bill, can you tell me now how much windows 11 is going to cost when windows 10 forces its users to upgrade? Ditto for windows 12, 13, 14 …  Do you not have enough money already? Does Windows 10 even take any advantage of new hardware? Probably not.

See, I happen to think you’re ‘rich’ enough already. Here’s a word I don’t like to throw around much. But what the heck? I think you’re getting greedy.

What do I want? I’ll tell you what I want. I want you to try to live off a disposable income of $10,000 per year. Like the rest of us.

Or I could be generous. Let’s make it $100,000. Because, you know, I’m sure you don’t have to pay any rent or mortages. Right? So it’s basically just food, electricity and rates that you have to pay for…

If you lived off $100,000 per year, you could essentially give away the other 99.999988% of your net worth.

You and Melinda have been named “most philanthropic Americans“. But let’s take a look at the percentage you actually give:

Over their lifetime, the two have given out $30.2 billion, about 37 percent of their net worth. [source]

Ouch! That’s quite a difference isn’t it? 37% compared to 99.99988% ?

See, I don’t think you are all that charitable. No not as much as they say.

How do I know that? Well at the moment, I live off a measly $12,000 per year. And yet even so, I feel charitable/guilty enough living in a first world country to have give at least $200 to charity this year alone. That means if I had your amount of money and continued with my current lifestyle, I’d be donating at a rate of 99.999988% (note the extra 9 in there). And the year is not done yet.

So Bill, if it isn’t crystal/amorphous clear already, I feel that I have personally lost a lot of respect for you. If this is what being rich is about, you can stick your money. And you can stick windows 10 too!

So do you know what I’m going to do? Instead of purchasing windows 10 some time next year, I’m going to donate that money to an environmental charity instead. Like WWF. Or Greenpeace. Or The Wilderness Society. Or one of those special save the rhinos funds like the black mambas. Or even the Bob Brown foundation. Or even all of the above.

And I’d prefer to see a billion people donate their $100-200 to charities other than the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Aka Microsoft. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to figure out that would mean $100-200 billion in charitable givings. Annually. Which again, is way more than you have given in your whole lifetime. So how about you let us decide what to do with our money, and stop forcing us to upgrade to windows 10?

On learning a language

Everyone already knows that babies take 1-2 years to learn basic language communication skills. What people tend to forget is that adults actually have several advantages over infants when it comes to learning new languages…

“But babies learn by immersion; they soak up everything like a sponge!”

… I can just hear the echo now. Its the same thing I tell you!!! In less than 2 years I went from knowing almost nothing (10 or 20 words) to being able to go to communicate effectively with people, go to the cinema, watch it in Spanish and understand the plot. But although it appears I can speak fluently, there’s still a lot that I don’t fully understand. There are huge gaps in my knowledge, gaps which only a formal education would fix.

During a recent adult conversation we had in the car concerning traffic rules, I recently asked a my 4 year old Spanish sister-in-law (who was sitting in the back seat with me) if she understood what was being said. She shook her head – the answer was most definitely no, she didn’t understand anything. Clearly, she hadn’t yet learned the appropriate puzzle-piece words relevant to the conversation about local traffic laws to grasp the idea of what was being said.

The only barrier to learning a new language is the actual desire to learn. It was Pamela of www.Secret-Tenerife.com who told me that in a recent telephone conversation. Children don’t walk around moaning “I don’t understand”, they constantly ask questions, often driving us mad. “But why?!” Quite simply, because that’s the fastest way to learn. That, along with copycatting. It’s the ticket to a new language.

Babies on the other hand have to start with a clean slate. They’re too busy attempting to decipher all the overwhelming visual stimuli they’re constantly receiving to worry about communicating with any languages. It’s usually a full six to twelve months before they speak their first word.

I can also communicate complex business ideas much better than any 2 year old. I was talking a load of business stuff lately & I could tell that the same niece hadn’t been exposed to words like “hacienda” (tax department), “impuestos” (taxes) or “aseguros” (insurance). She was completely lost in that conversation -she didn’t even try to understand what was being said by asking. Yet most of the time that 4 year old understands more than me.

I even passed those notoriously difficult Spanish driving theory classes with less than 2 years language experience. So in my opinion, I’ve completely invalidated that whole “its too late for me” excuse & I reckon you’re never too old to learn, especially if you live here. It all boils down to whether you can make the enormous effort required. You have the following definite advantages over babies and small children:

  • Once you learn the rules of pronunciation, You can already speak!
  • You can already read and write words!
  • You can already grasp concepts, you just need to learn the Spanish equivalent word. I.e. Does a child know what “jealousy” is when you say “ahhh, you’re jealous eh?”. No, they first have to get the context. You on the other hand only need to ask “how do I say the word ‘jealous?’ “Sure, children easily recognise the visual signs when someone is angry, but at first they may not fully understand the reasons adult show that behaviour. They have to learn as well as understand. You already know better.
  • You can also borrow from my already-known cognate words.
  • You can actually choose how, where and when you want to study & learn. Eg audio CDs & mp3s, books, TV cooking shows, speaking with others, songs, radio, cinema, etc
  • You can even choose what languages you’d like to learn!

What is the amount of carbon dioxide gas generated by all the cars in the world today?

I previously wrote an article which contained a simple calculation to estimate the amount of CO2 emitted by 1 litre of petrol. And it was a fairly popular blog post. From there it was easy to estimate the amount of CO2 produced by driving on one full tank of petrol.

When one litre of petrol is burned, 2.28kg of CO2 are produced, equivalent to 1268 litres of of CO2 gas!! Every single 50 litre tank full of petrol will produce over 63,400 litres of CO2 gas (63.4 m3), or a volume of pure CO2 gas equivalent to an imaginary cube with sides 4 metres long.

Now I’m going to calculate how much CO2 is produced by the fleet of 500-600 million cars worldwide using just one full tank of petrol and compare that figure with the total volume of the Earth’s atmosphere.

600,000,000 x 63,400 = 38,000,000,000,000 litres.

38 trillion litres on just one tank of petrol.

What’s the average annual petrol consumption? Average distance driven per year? Easier to get the stats from elsewhere at this point, more reliable:

Cars – together with power stations- are the main producers of CO2. Today 500 million cars world-wide emit four billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – around 20 per cent of the total quantity produced by mankind. And the number of cars on the road is growing rapidly – currently twice as fast as the world’s population. Forecasts assume that this number will reach 2 billion world-wide by the year 2030. This will mean that petrol consumption will grow to an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes by 2030. CO2 emissions from traffic would then increase to more than 7.5 billion tonnes. Source: greenpeace

I’m an ex-scientist. And scientists deal with numbers. It is our job to try and explain very large numbers to people.

I think we’re all very used to hearing the words ‘thousands’, ‘millions’, ‘billions’ and even ‘trillions’.

And we’re not used to measuring the weight of gases. We’re used to seeing their volume. Aren’t we?

So. If that happens, if CO2 emissions from traffic increase to 7.5 billion tonnes per annum, why, do you know how many litres that is?

I’ll tell you how many litres of CO2 that is. It’s 3.82 quadrillion, that’s how many litres of CO2 that is. Per year.

Now, I’m willing to bet that you don’t even know how big one quadrillion is, let alone 3.82 of them. It’s “fucken huge”, that’s how big it is. Just how much bigger is one quadrillion than one billion?

Let’s imagine there were 3.82 quadrillion people scattered throughout the universe… and that there are 7.5 billion people on each planet1, there would have to be 509 million planets in existence to total 3.82 quadrillion people.

That’s how much CO2 gas cars pump into one of our Earth’s atmospheres every single year.
3.82 quadrillion litres of CO2.

“We made it happen.”

Industrial offshore history…

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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.

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.

I believe that chaos theory can explain the unsolved phenomenon of turbulence.

You should probably read this post about sensitive dependence on initial conditions before reading this here.

“Remember when your teacher told you that whenever you round up or down a repeating number or a surd, like 2, that the ‘remainder’ is ‘insignificant’ when compared to the size of the large overall number? Well, they were wrong. Because those remainders add up. Especially when you are dealing with scientific equations that have factors of 1030 or more in them.”

You know, it’s been a long time since I plugged very large numbers into equations. But I know for a fact that all the students would get slightly different answers to problems, depending on how much they rounded down and how often. Back when I was doing exams, I noticed that any equation with Avogadro’s constant (6.023 x 1023) in it is very susceptible to this behaviour when rounding down. The exact result also has a lot to do with how much these irrational numbers are multiplied with each other and where they appear in the equation(s).

Now, yes, in the exam room, you will still get the answer ‘correct’, even if you are slightly off. They even make allowances for that, because some people will be rounding numbers at different points in their equations. Some people will put a temporary answer into the calculator’s memory to be able to complete the remainder of the equation later on (this is to reduce the risk of making a mistake, because some of the equations are so long, they require many button presses).

I always used to use the full accuracy of the numbers until the last possible moment, because  yes I do believe them to be significant.

Science (by that I mean the lecturers and the university) will tell you that you have the right answer so long as you get close to two or three significant figures. But is that good enough? If we want to explain turbulence, then we want to know where those errors come from, don’t we?

You see, right now, the mathematical proof of turbulence is still debated. It’s actually one of the great unsolved physical mysteries (and there is a million US bucks up for grabs by the way). It’s one of the reasons that weather cannot be predicted very accurately for a very long period of time, because the weather is a chaotic, turbulent system.

Do you want to know what I now believe? I believe that chaos theory can explain the phenomenon of turbulence, that’s what. Unfortunately, I’ve become more of a graphical, visual person that is way too hopeless at mathematics to prove it. Hahaha

[addendum]

So if you’re still reading, and you happen to be a mathematics expert, I would just like to give you a little clue. Next time you try to tackle one of the unsolved millennium prize problems, specifically the one to do with the Navier-Stokes equations, can you please redo the whole thing? This time from first principles assuming that irrational numbers like surds cannot be simplified further without significantly changing the resulting answers.

I was worried back in ’92.

Yes I first learned about “global warming” in 1991 or 1992.

I think I must have had a smart teacher for the subject called general studies, because she knew about this new topic and warned all of us. She probably heard all about it at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) aka the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit. I could tell she was concerned. I can still remember seeing the worry in her eyes way back then.

Also, like a lot of nerdy sciency kids, I already knew about the atmosphere of other planets (like Venus for example). And so I’ve known for a long time that there isn’t really anything (apart from biodiversity feedback loops) stopping this planet from becoming more like either Mars or Venus.

So I began making lifestyle choices back then, when I was 14 or 15 years old. I chose not to drive. I continued to ride my bicycle. I rode it everywhere. In fact I didn’t learn to drive a car until I was 28 years old. Not until I had to. Not until I needed to deliver a lot of bicycles for my business. But eventually, it all caught up with me again. It slowly dawned upon me that I was falling into the trap of becoming just like everyone else again.

We are supposed to be working for a better future. That is why we all work so hard. But if the future is going to be worse, what’s the point?

So now, after almost a decade of driving around, I’m slowly but surely weening myself off of it again.

Later, when I gratuated, I refused to work for oil companies. I was offered a very highly paid job investigating the steel microstructure of crude oil tankers. I just couldn’t do it. So I went straight back to university and did another 5 years there.

Climate scientists are saying now that we are in a “climate emergency”. Look, the coal industry in Australia is saying there is enough coal reserves to last another 365 years. Well okay. But if other planets are anything to go by, this world’s entire fucking oceans could potentially boil right off and disappear into deep space! Melting icecaps will be the least of our worries. Now, while that scenario is never mentioned by climate scientists, that’s what planetary scientists mean when they talk about “a climate system that is out of control”. Are people starting to get it now?

Now I still don’t think people even today fully realise the implications of climate change, 25 years later.

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.

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…]

Zen and the art of minimalism

How can you (we) all go about buying less stuff?

I have bought many things over the last few decades. I started with bike parts, I was forever looking to build the ‘ultimate’ bicycle.

I have easily spent tens of thousands of dollars on bike parts of the last 20 years. But every time I got something new, I would lust for something even newer. The more I got, the more I’d want. It was pure greed and indulgence.

But looking back, some of my favourite rides (most of them actually) weren’t done on my most expensive bikes. Most of my favourite rides were made on relatively cheap bikes!

Whenever I see a product now I ask many additional things:

1. Where did it come from / how was it made? What was the the environmental cost of manufacture?
2. Will I be able to resell it, reuse it, recycle it or compost it when I am finished with it? (and the packaging)
3. Do I really even need it? Or do I think I just ‘want’ it?
4. What are the “false promises” being advertised?
5. Will the new item create extra ‘worry’?

The next time you go to buy something, stop yourself and ask whether you really need it. Never buy on impulse. Never! Wait. Put things in your ‘watch’ list. Meanwhile, look for the most sustainable or ecological alternative. If you still think you ‘need’ something after one or two months, by all means, go ahead and buy it.

Ever since I started doing this, I almost never regret anything I have purchased. [Read more…]

Dear America,

[TOP SECRET: classified]

I just wanted to say that if allow this person to die in your custody, they will become a martyr. And you don’t want that, do you? Because a martyr is ten times worse than a political prisoner. A martyr can never be forgotten. They are forever remembered throughout history.

And I’m sure you don’t want to start editing history now do you? Because that would put you alongside places like North Korea. And I’m sure you don’t want to do that. Because you’re trying to be a ‘better’ country.

Which martyr am I talking about? Well that’s just it. They’re not a martyr yet. Because they’re not dead. They’re still very much alive…

Why am I writing this? Well, I’m writing this because here is what Chelsea Manning, your most famous politicial prisoner, wrote today:

I need help. I am not getting any. I have asked for help time and time again for six years and through five separate confinement locations. My request has only been ignored, delayed, mocked, given trinkets and lip service by the prison, the military, and this administration.

I need help. I needed help earlier this year. I was driven to suicide by the lack of care for my gender dysphoria that I have been desperate for. I didn’t get any. I still haven’t gotten any.

I needed help. Yet, instead I am now being punished for surviving my attempt. When I was a child, my father would beat me repeatedly for simply not being masculine enough. I was told to stop crying—to “suck it up.” But, I couldn’t stop crying. The pain just got worse and worse. Until finally, I just couldn’t take the pain anymore.

I needed help, but no one came then. No one is coming now.

Today, I have decided that I am no longer going to be bullied by this prison—or by anyone within the U.S. government. I have asked for nothing but the dignity and respect—that I once actually believed would be provided for—afforded to any living human being.

I do not believe that this should be dependent on any arbitrary factors—whether you are cisgender or transgender; service member or civilian, citizen or non-citizen. In response to virtually every request, I have been granted limited, if any, dignity and respect—just more pain and anguish.

I am no longer asking. Now, I am demanding. As of 12:01 am Central Daylight Time on September 9, 2016, and until I am given minimum standards of dignity, respect, and humanity, I shall—refuse to voluntarily cut or shorten my hair in any way; consume any food or drink voluntarily, except for water and currently prescribed medications; and comply with all rules, regulations, laws, and orders that are not related to the two things I have mentioned.

This is a peaceful act. I intend to keep it as peaceful and non-violent, on my end, as possible. Any physical harm that should come to me at the hands of military or civilian staff will be unnecessary and vendictive. I will not physically resist or in any way harm another person. I have also submitted a “do not resuscitate” letter that is effective immediately. This shall include any attempts to forcibly cut or shorten my hair or to forcibly feed me by any medical or pseudomedical means.

Until I am shown dignity and respect as a human again, I shall endure this pain before me. I am prepared for this mentally and emotionally. I expect that this ordeal will last for a long time. Quite possibly until my permanent incapacitation or death. I am ready for this.

I need help. Please, give me help.
Chelsea Manning

Yes this person, Manning, exposed one of the underlying reasons for at least some of the terrorism that we are now seeing… and that is that innocent people were being shot down by helicopter gunships like in the video above.

That was actually a very brave thing for anyone to do. Because I’m sure that that person knew there would be some repurcussions. But they did it anyway.

And so what happened then? Well, instead of Americans and the government simply watching the video and starting to ask themselves the really hard questions like “why do some people hate the West?” or “have we done anything to piss foreigners off?” or “what have we done to deserve this?”. What did you do?

You took the ‘easy’ approach. Next, you tried to silence that person by giving them an unfair trial. [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

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…]

On cyborg technology | Brain Computer Interface (BCI)

Sometimes I wonder: what is the future going to look like in 100 years? 1000? 10,000?

If you look around, people everywhere are completely addicted to technology. When was the last time you saw somebody on the train without something stuck in their ears?

These days, people want quicker answers, more content, more choice. They think faster than they can physically type (or even speak).

If you extrapolate this, I predict that technology that removes the interface between the brain and the computer will be the next big thing (unfortunately). And I humbly predict that the next trillionaire might just be the person who invents that device and brings it to the masses. I would now like to say a big “fuck you” to that person, before they even get started on the project. Why?

I think the Brain Computer Interface (BCI) is going to make the world look like a very different place than it is now. In the past, I used to think that it would never happen, because the human brain is too complex. But after only a few decades I have changed my mind. I think that the idea is not too far from reality.

It won’t be like it is now, with thinner and thinner screens and faster and faster processors. The whole point of a BCI is that there won’t be a physical user interface. [Read more…]

Open letter to Robert Borsak.

About your sordid little elephant-hunt crusade

To Robert Borsak,
You have said:

 

“Animals do not have an intrinsic human right,”

“Humans have a right to eat meat if they choose to do so. It is as simple as that”

By that logic, I have the right to shoot humans and kill them, so long as I eat their meat…

Furthermore, I should also be able to claim back my animal rights. In which case, if I killed another human, nobody could argue that the human laws apply to me. [Read more…]

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?

Tell chef Stefán Úlfarsson to stop cooking whales!

The global warming debate.

So to my amazement, there are still people alive today, people like Linda Wright, a radio presenter no less, who say some very stupid things in public, like this: “I don’t believe in Global warming”.

And because I know about science, I just feel this overiding inner compulsion to put these people in their fucking place. So here’s what I wrote back to Linda:

“I don’t believe in Global warming”.
Well I see that according to your CV, you do not have any science background. None. Rather, you merely blab about on national radio. So I feel like I’ve got to put people in your place.

Kindly go an educate yourself about other planets because you are already appearing like a flat-Earther. Go and check the carbon dioxide composition of Venus and its surface temp and then come back here with your tail between your legs, ok?

Unlike you, I do have a very strong scientific background, and so I feel that I have a “duty of care” to stand up and raise the alarm bells a little bit louder. If scientists don’t do this more often, civilisation is going to ask in 100-200 years time: “So why didn’t you tell about this sooner? You mean knew and you didn’t tell us??? Thanks…”. Quite frankly, I agree with Debra Key; it’s partly people like you who got us here…

Kindly do go and check out my background before assuming that “I just draw”. You will see that I am mostly a Materials Scientist. And let me tell you, every single thing that you buy today has to come from somewhere. Whatever it is, that has an effect elsewhere. It might be a tree chopped down, it might be a slightly bigger hole in the ground, it might be a little less salt in the sea. Every single thing we do affects our environment.

Most of what we do now involves simple combustion. We burn fuel to get to work. We burn coal to get energy. Even to get steel we burn carbon (coke/coal), first to get iron and then from that we make steel. All those gases go into the air. Same goes with the cement industry. We are doing it all over the planet! The atmosphere is only 10km thick (or had you forgotten?). Why do you find it so hard to believe that what we are doing now affects our environment on a global scale? Global behaviour leads to global changes. Same as the rat infestation or worm farm…

[Read more…]

Proof that Tripadvisor does not take whaling seriously

I have started a new petition against Tripadvisor to demand that they stop supporting restauarnts that serve whale meat.

As some of you know, I recently started a petition to put some pressure on 3 Frakkar restaurant in Iceland. To cut a long story short, 25,000 people signed the petition ask 3 Frakkar restaurant to stop serving whale meat. What happened next? Over twenty people left reviews on their tripadvisor page. ALL of those reviews were promptly deleted by Tripadvisor staff members. When questioned about that move, here is Tripadvisor’s response:

Dear Dr Brown,

We understand you reached out to a colleague of ours requesting information about why a number of reviews for a restaurant in Reykjavik were rejected.

We wanted to provide an explanation as to why our team made this decision. [Read more…]

This is Pluto speaking here.

>sign the petition to reinstate Pluto‘s full planet status<
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown

Hello.

This is Pluto speaking here.

Look, I wasn’t very happy when some scientists took away my “full planetary” status in 2006 without even consulting me directly. And I’m not alone.

I’ve been thinking about it – and this whole ‘dwarf’ designation has never really sat well with me ever since. And my moon Charon is not to thrilled about it either… because that would make her the moon of a dwarf planet, aka a “dwarf moon”.

Especially when you say that I’m a dwarf planet, and then go on to say “which is not really a planet”. Imagine how Jupiter would react if you said: “Jupiter is a gas giant planet… which is not really a planet!” !!

And then you gave me a number. What do you call it? “Minor planet designation”. Wait a second. Let me look that up. Let’s see here, what have I got, I knew I had it somewhere… “134340”. That’s it. “134340”. That doesn’t sound very special to me. One minute I’m named after a God. And the next thing someone has placed this completely arbitrary bogus number IN FRONT OF my name. Not after it mind you. BEFORE! Like this: 134340 Pluto. One-three-four-three-four-zero-pluto. To a planet, this is invective! [Read more…]

“There are no accidents”

We assume that true “randomness” exists. But is there really such a thing as a purely random event or thing?

I think we only use the word random to describe things that we can’t fully explain. I think that the events which first appear to be random are actually be very structured and organised. It’s easier to say “it’s entirely random” than to explain the myriad of intricacies of any particular system…

Picture several hundred people moving at a train station or crossing a busy intersection. At first glance it looks purely random. But there is really nothing random about it. Each of the people has a distinct set of reasons for being there. Maybe some of them are going to work, or coming home from night shift or meeting a friend for a coffee. They are doing what people do: shopping, socialising, travelling, working, playing, walking, seeing, doing and a multitude of other things that other people do to make themselves feel happy. None of that is random.

“There are no accidents” — Master Oogway

[Read more…]

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…]

Hope for the planet

I went to David Suzuki’s “hope for the planet” talk last Tuesday and I am feeling inspired! I think it was worth going, if only too see so many like-minded individuals in the one place at the one time.

Towards the end of the discussion, one young attendee said that she saw the audience as “agents of change” and asked what the single biggest piece of advice that the speakers could give to the audience. And Naomi Oreskes answered that particular question; that she couldn’t give one generic answer, because it all depends on our field of expertise. I thought that was very wise. And so I am using the tools at my disposal:

carbon-foot-print

I might as well use this opportunity to tell the whole world that like David Suzuki, I too find it COMPLETELY OUTRAGEOUS that people put the economy over and above the environment. Without the natural environment, there wouldn’t even *be* an economy!

I want people overseas to know that Gina Rinehart spent $22million on a campaign to destroy the carbon tax in Australia in 2010. She went on to invest $200million in network ten and another $280million in fairfax media to sway public opinion. Luckily she has sold most of her media investments in 2015 and has stopped trying to become one of the members of the board of directors…

I think that was a despicable attempt to control the media and thus sway public opinion the proposed carbon tax, which would have hit the mining industry hard. I see her attempt to buyy out the media as a form of environmental corruption. Inn fact last week I invented might have a new term called ‘EC’. EC is a term that originates from PC (which means politically correct). You probably already guessed it; EC means “environmentally correct”. So I think that Gina Rinehart may well be the richest person in Australia –or the richest woman in the world– but she is just not environmentally correct.

Oooh yes I think that the carbon tax should definitely be reinstated in Australia. Most definitely!

The trouble I see is that this: we know the extra carbon dixode we are putting into the air comes from burning the fossil fuels such as coal and crude oil. So if we have to reduce the amount of carbon going into the air to the level before the industrial age, not only will we have to put back all the forests as they were before all of the mining (to restore the original carbon cycle), but we’ll also have to find a way to offset billions upon billions of tonnes of of carbon that have been mined and essentially burned into the atmosphere. Hmmm

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…]

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…]

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…]

The whaling debate

I think part of the trouble is that migratory species of animals do not ‘belong’ to any one individual country. Countries will always have differences of opinion; therefore all migratory species should be off-limits to hunters.

Whales don’t technically belong to Iceland, Australia, New Zealand or anyone else. And that’s just one of the reasons that they should be spared… because if Icelandic whalers can claim that the whales are ‘theirs’ to do with as they please, then Tongans too can claim that whales are born in Tongan waters and are therefore more ‘Tongan’ than ‘Icelandic’.

I’ve noticed that Icelanders keep referring to chickens, goats, cows and pigs. But none of those animals really migrate, do they? No. They do not cross vast oceans from one side of the planet to the other. Here’s my second point and it doesn’t have anything to do with factory farming, killing chickens, fish, goats, cows or pigs. Let’s forget Iceland for a moment for this analogy to be a bit more objective…

Can you see how if any country (X) started to hunt Japanese cranes in ‘Japanese’ air space that that would annoy Japan? As you know, migratory cranes are endangered. They are also very special to Japanese people in their culture and believed to bring good luck. They have a tradition of folding 1000 cranes. Now just imagine that country X goes there and kills a lot of them. The poor birds take a long time to die and suffer immensely at the time of death. Now imagine that ALL the other countries were totally against country X hunting cranes but they still kept doing it. And now just imagine that country X says to Japan: “no, but it’s okay, we’re hunting them sustainably, we only catch 333 per year.” [Read more…]

Blue Moon of Josephine.

We estimate that 3.4 billion individuals – or 71% of adults worldwide – have wealth below USD 10,000, while the group of millionaires, who comprise less than 1% of the global population, account for 45% of total wealth.[source]

SO. It seems the rich are indeed getting much richer. There is a truly massive gap in the distribution of wealth and it just keeps getting wider and wider and wider.

I’ve had most of this post sitting in draft format for quite a while. But just today, I learned that Joseph Lau, the billionaire Hong Kong real-estate tycoon, paid a record-breaking US$48.4 million for a cushion-shaped internally-flawless fancy vivid blue-coloured diamond, called the “Blue Moon”. He named it “Blue Moon of Josephine”. And he bought it for his seven year old daughter. 

For his seven year old daughter! [Read more…]