Mr. Winter, you’re fired

Meg guest posts at Kottke:

Please consider this letter notice of your termination, effective immediately. Despite clear expectations and requirements — January temperatures not to exceed 40° F, consistent snow and blustery conditions, minimum of one blizzard with white-out per annum, &c. &c. — you have failed to date to meet expectations and deliver even rudimentary winter weather. A forecast high of 72° today in New York City is clear proof of your failure to do your job.

Make a template, a form, a petition – whatever. I’m so gonna sign this too, Meg!

Now it’s raining cats and dogs again. It’s supposed to be -10 C (14 F). My daughter said today “Dad, do we have something we can cover the snow fortress with?”. A friend and her collected absolutely ALL the snow in our neighbourhood, to make a snow fortress that covered both of them – if they were flat on the ground and didn’t move (it was 30 cm/a foot tall). This is miserable winter.

Top ten under-reported humanitarian stories of 2005

A little break from macs, web and the digital world: Medecins Sans Frontieres publishes a list every year of the Top ten under-reported humanitarian stories of 2005. Congo, Chechnya, Haiti, India, Sudan, Somalia, Colombia, Uganda and Ivory Coast. People dying, and (almost) no press coverage. There’s also a Flash version.

If you live in Norway, you can give money to Medecins Sans Frontieres by contributing when people are coming to your door today. See the official site of Leger uten grenser (Medecins Sans Frontieres in Norwegian).

Elevate your awareness

How many feet/meters above sea level are you? Trace the water you drink from rainfall to your tap. Point north. Is the soil under your feet, more clay, sand, rock or silt? From what direction do storms generally come? Name five native edible plants in your neighborhood and the season(s) they are available. Have a go at all 30. I got the first 8 then completely lost it.

Most stupid ad ever made

If you have a blog, MySpace, LiveJournal, whatever… DO link to the most stupid ad ever made. And feel free to call the link “most stupid ad ever made”.

Here are the slogans that ends the first of two 60-second “masterpieces” (you can see both of them on the page as both QT and WMV).

Carbon dioxide. They call it pollution. We call it life.

I can’t find words for how UTTERLY stupid this is. It’s like someone at Comedy Central or Saturday Night Live made a parody, but couldn’t make it funny enough. And just forgot about the whole thing. But these people mean it. Seriously.

Most stupid ad ever - by Competitive Enterprise Institute

(still from the most stupid ad ever made)

You should think that people in an educated country as USA should be smart enough to not produce plain stupid things like this. But no. Amazing.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide is an end product in organisms that obtain energy from breaking down sugars or fats with oxygen as part of their metabolism, in a process known as cellular respiration. This includes all plants, animals, many fungi and some bacteria. In higher animals, the carbon dioxide travels in the blood from the body’s tissues to the lungs where it’s exhaled.

Carbon dioxide content in fresh air is approximately 0.04%, and in exhaled air approximately 4.5%. When inhaled in high concentrations (about 5% by volume), it is toxic to humans and other animals. This is sometimes known as choke damp, an old mining industry term, and was the cause of death at Lake Nyos in Cameroon, where an upwelling of CO2-laden lake water in 1986 covered a wide area in a blanket of the gas, killing nearly 2000.

Blog against sexism day

It’s the 8th of March. Not only my uncle’s birthday, but also the International Womens day. I’m supporting the Blog against sexism campaign.


“Bhutan” on Flickr, by babasteve.

Have a look at some of the links and facts here.

Women are poorer. Women constitute about 70% of the world’s absolute poor – those living on less than a dollar a day. In the United States in 2004, there were 20.1 million women living below the poverty level. Worldwide, women’s access to resources and education still lags behind boys/men due to double standards.

Slavery still exists! Women and girls are the majority of the 800,000 to nearly 4 million people trafficked (bought and sold as property) internationally every year.

300% better hybrid car?

If this is true, it’s very good news.

The Idea behind the current crop of Hybrid cars is well known; the cars main energy comes from gasoline which recharges batteries that move the car at low speeds. Hydraulic Hybrids work in the same manner, only instead of batteries, excess energy is stored in hydraulic cylinders.That in itself is not revolutionary, except for the fact that Nickel Metal Hydride batteries used today are not an efficient way to store energy, and hydraulic storage blows them away with 3X the efficiency. Even next generation Lithium Ion batteries do not come close to Hydraulic Energy Storage.

On the other: 2008 is far away, so let’s see what happens.

Air pollution is a WORLD problem

Boingboing writes about an article in NY Times, about how pollution from China pollutes the air in the USA:

China is already the world’s second-biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions and is expected to surpass the United States as the biggest. Roughly a third of China is exposed to acid rain. A recent study by a Chinese research institute found that 400,000 people die prematurely every year in China from diseases linked to air pollution.

Nor does China’s air pollution respect borders: on certain days almost 25 percent of the particulate matter clotting the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental experts in California predict that China could eventually account for roughly a third of the state’s air pollution.

Unfortunately NY Times has a lame subscription system preventing me from reading the actual article, but the excerpt Xeni posted had me think about a few things.

In 1998, the world produced almost 400 quadrillion BTU of energy (BTU – British Thermal Units – is a way to calcualte energy, no matter where it comes from – see wikipedia entry). USA alone consumed about 95 quadrillion BTU of these (several sources, but this is one easy to read).

Continue reading Air pollution is a WORLD problem

Honey, I shrunk the software!

Gizmodo reports that Apple has shrunk the box of the new iLife package.

“If there’s one thing that really stands out about Apple lately, it’s that its products keep getting smaller and smaller. Just as Apple shrank the iPod with the nano (and subsequently its packaging), the company’s latest consumer software offerings are also arriving in ultra-thin, super-small retail packaging. The retail boxes are now just big enough to house a single dual-layer DVD and documentation.”

Excellent. Like the author of the article, I have wondered why software boxes have been so big? Maybe it was to prevent theft? And of course to stand out in the shelves.

But the software industry should just agree to make smaller boxes. It saves them shipping, storage space, production costs – and trees.

Last summer I installed lots of new software, both OS, applications and plug-ins, on five computers. You wouldn’t believe the pile of boxes by my desk when finished. Most of the plug-ins were big A4-size boxes with a single CD inside. Fun for the kids (who played with all the boxes), crap for nature.

The worst ones are memory cards and accessories to gaming consoles. The last Xbox controller I got, was wrapped in a plastic that was amazing: No knife or scissor in our house could open it. I tried everything. And in the end I had to search in the woods for hours, until I found an old jedi knight living alone in a cave. After some nagging, he agreed to open the controller with his lightsabre. Which aaaaalmost broke during the operation. I’m sure they could make a space shuttle with the same material, with no problems with heating during landing.

So do nature a favor: Mail the URL of the Gizmodo story to your software developer.

“Apple has finally done software packing right and hopefully sent a telegram to the rest of the huge-friggin’ software box industry.”

Are hybrids worth it?

Very good analysis of costs etc with a hydrid car compared to petrol cars.

While no “green” person would ever advocate buying a hybrid for purely economic reasons, it is painfully obvious that existing hybrids lack the ability to make up for their steep prices with gas savings. While a hybrid would present significant savings over something like a new Ford Super Duty, you would always save more with any of a number of economy cars.

True: I wouldn’t buy a hybrid to save money. I would buy it to pollute less when driving, and to encourage car makers to make even better hybrids. They certainly need to get cheaper.

Hello, this is Brian Wilson calling

Brian Wilson has a brilliant idea. He personally calls everyone who donates more than 100 US dollars to the hurricane wictims. Yes, he calls you personally and talks with you for a few minutes. What a nice gesture. AND – he as his wife Melinda will match the amount of money you give. Thank you, Brian! It’s a fantastic idea and very generous.

I wish other stars could do the same. Here are just a few I would easily give 100$ (for a good cause) if they called me: Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Kate Bush or Bono of U2.

So if you are Jim, Chris, Kate or Bono, use my contact form, and I will mail you my phone number and receipt. I figured if I don’t try, they never will call. And it’s for a good cause.

If you want to help people other places in the world, please consider making a donation to Care. Click on the logo which takes you to the Care homepage, then choose your country.


Catastrophe scenarios

“American experts named three major and realistic catastrophe scenarios that could cost the lives of thousands:
1. A great earthquake in California.
2. A terrorist attack
3. The flooding of New Orleans”

This is the claim in a discussion on Flickr. Have anyone seen this list before? Who made it?

If it’s true, it would be interesting to know what is being done – and spent – on each of these three.