A few words for global warming skeptics

[Updated 2013-06-26.] If you’re still considering yourself a ‘global warming skeptic’ in 2012, then we need to talk. Let’s start off by looking at Wikipedia’s summary of scientific opinion on climate change, and look at the list of statements by dissenting organizations. It notes that since 2007, no national or international scientific body has made any statement rejecting the reality of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. The last organization to express ‘skepticism’?

Et tu, Brewtus?

Walked downstairs to work this morning—I love home office—and discovered to my dismay that the espresso machine hadn’t switched on. Because it takes a while to warm up, I keep it on a timer switch. The timer had worked, but investigation revealed that the main power switch had failed due to about 7 years of thermal stress. Fortunately, I was prepared. When the switch started to feel “soft” a couple of weeks ago, I logged on to eBay and found a random company in China selling identical replacement neon-lit 240V/15A rated panel switches.

Nokia, then and now

“Our fundamental belief is we would have difficulty differentiating. The commoditization risk was very high.” — Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, 2011. “We need to compete with Android aggressively. The low-end price point war is an important part of that.” — Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, 2012. That’s right — Android would have be a race to the bottom, so Elop decided to go with an OS nobody wants and try and dig to the bottom even faster.

Uncommon common knowledge

Inspired by a Reddit thread, here’s a list of things I’ve learned over the years which I think everyone should know. Canceling or stopping a lost check is expensive, around $20 per check. Also, it doesn’t actually prevent the check from being cashed — if the check is cashed quickly (in under 24 hours), or slowly enough (not cashed for 6 months), it goes through anyway. Therefore, if you lose your checkbook, you are basically screwed.

Well-kept gardens also die from activism

Over at lesswrong.com a posting titled Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism makes the case that “Good online communities die primarily by refusing to defend themselves”, and that moderators are necessary. That may be true, but it’s also the case that moderation can kill communities. Any community that really needs to question its moderators, that really seriously has abusive moderators, is probably not worth saving. But this is more accused than realized, so far as I can see.

Google ruins Places

Google doesn’t get social. They really, really don’t get it. I’ve come to realize this because of the latest update to Google Places. I’ve been a fairly frequent user of Google Places since it was launched. It used to be great—tap restaurants, get a list of restaurants nearby. Select one, get directions, menus, opening hours. Once there, enter a quick review and rate the place. No more. Today I went to find a restaurant for an impromptu gathering and the Places icon had entirely disappeared from my phone.

A back of the envelope calculation

I was watching my budgies the other day, and had a thought which led to a brief online investigation, followed by the following back-of-envelope calculation: According to a Boeing presentation on airline fuel efficiency that I found on the Internet, a 1% reduction in landing weight gives about a 1% reduction in trip fuel. A Boeing 747’s operational empty weight (with equipment, flight crew etc) is 390,700lbs. Subtracting that from its Maximum Zero Fuel Weight (max weight allowed before fuel is loaded) gives a maximum value for passengers and cargo of 144,300lbs.

Random encounter

We were discussing whether to head out when I saw it. The light was still on in the bathroom, and through the door I had a clear view of the partially demolished far wall above the bath. The creature was scorpionlike, but with a long thin tail that waved and curved, rather than a stinger. The rest of the family continued to argue as I reached into my courier bag and drew out the buzzsaw gun.

Of MP3 players and Apple complacency

We have four iPods of various ages and sizes: one of the first models with the dock connector, one of the early click wheel ones, a nano with clip, and a nano with a screen. One of the classic iPods lives in the car, the other I used the rest of the time; the two nanos are rothko’s. These four iPods appear to need at least three different charging cables. The “universal” USB cable from Apple that works with the dock iPod doesn’t work with the click wheel one, and makes it crash.

Baby bird of a different kind

This evening I went out for a walk; partly for exercise, partly for relaxation, and partly to take a package to the UPS drop-off. As I rounded the corner onto Oltorf Street, I walked under a large tree which partially overhangs the street. On the ground I saw the unmistakable shape of a partially crushed dead baby bird. A few steps on was a second baby bird, as dead as the first, with ants crawling over it.