Data Driven: Colbert on Cambridge Analytica

Finally, someone goes on air to highlight the dissonance between the mouthings and the motives of the advertising industry. Oh, and some other stuff, about Facebook…

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

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Posted in News and politics, ... wait, what?, Business, Communication, Phlyarology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

New writers start here: Scribophile

I recently joined an online writing community called ‘Scribophile‘, following a recommendation from fellow blogger DHH.

Scribophile’s website is very well designed. There are the usual personal profile pages, forum, blog and FAQ, but for me the main draw is its comprehensive critiquing system, based on ‘karma’. It’s really quite neat: you earn karma for critiquing others’ works, and then spend your karma to post your own writing for others to rip apart comment on. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. It’s not possible to game the system; you can’t avoid doing your fair share of critiquing if you want to post your own work.

Possibly best of all, there’s a free option. It’s fully functional, although limited (for instance, as a ‘basic’ — free — member you can only have a total of two pieces of writing up for critique at any one time — whereas a ‘premium’ member enjoys unlimited works). So it needn’t cost you a penny to test the waters.

If this is of interest to you, when you get there please do look me up!

In other news, I’ve also joined a writing group near where I live, but that means I have to go out into the big wide world to meet people face to face… scary!

Posted in Communication, Computers and Internet | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

Poetry word cloud

What better way to remember a nifty website address and thank the provider of same — than a reblog?

Blue Sky Days 365

I’ve been playing around on

This is the word cloud of my poetry text, shaped as a heart as “love” is my most often used word with 22 occurrences in 52 poems… what can I say? I’m just a romantic at heart.

Poetry wordcloud

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The Cube Project: a cure for homelessness?

The Cube Project designs and builds low-energy microhomes in partnership with Bolton Buildings. So far, they have developed three models: QB1, QB2 and QB3.

From their website:

QB3 is a development of an idea that we first explored in a building for Channel 4’s Gadget Man. Unlike QB2, QB3 is all on one level, which makes it more suitable for those with movement difficulties. QB3 makes the most of its 18 square metres of floor area by making use of moveable walls.

As with all the Cube Project buildings, QB3 is optimized for energy use. It uses two heat pumps (for heating and hot water), heat-recovery ventilation, LED lighting and TV, A++ rated appliances, triple-glazing and excellent insulation. There is also the option of a green roof, with solar photovoltaic panels, that would make QB3 energy neutral over a typical year.

Like QB2, QB3 is a post-and-beam structure developed jointly with Bolton Buildings. The outer structure can be assembled and made waterproof in around 4 hours and the whole structure (including inner and outer wall surfaces, the windows/door, the insulation, and the electrical wiring) can be completed in 3-4 days. Options exist for cladding and for fitting out and, once constructed, QB3 is easily transported by road and sited wherever a static caravan is permitted.

QB3 is an ideal living space:

  • For “boomerang kids” or others seeking independent housing
  • For leisure/holiday purposes, usable all year round
  • For emergency accommodation, e.g. in post-disaster situations
  • For construction workers or other workers in remote locations

I’m surprised that bullet point list doesn’t include ‘For providing low-cost small footprint accommodation for homeless people’.

“Ah, but,” I hear you say, “who would pay for this?”

A homeless person

Maybe less is more?

Well, the state has an obligation (or if not, should have) to look after its population. ‘Council housing’ in the UK has suffered a serious decline in recent years due to ‘right to buy’ deals, which removes housing from available stock — and on the whole, it hasn’t been replaced. ‘Cubes’ could be a way of rebuilding that stock in a cost-effective way.

If I had more gumption, I might be inclined to try to crowdsource a project to acquire a plot of land and build a ‘Cube Estate’. Perhaps it could be set up as a charity, with state funding to provide interim housing for those who currently find themselves without a roof over their heads.

What do you think?

Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, crowdsourcing, Culture, Health, News and politics, Phlyarology, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Magkaugnay | Opinion

Krystel was kind enough to reblog my poem Once upon a dream, so I asked her for a post that she was proud of that I could reblog in return. This is what she chose:

Random Musings

Magkaugnay is a Filipino term more or less meaning interconnected. This feels like it is the best word I can relate geology to, at least as of the moment.

Seeing the daily prompt, Gorge, I immediately thought about the Wawa Gorge where I spent a lot of times during the summer of 2013 for my undergrad Field Geology course. And then I came to ponder on the geologic mapping fieldwork I am on right now. Which actually isn’t the real reason why I mentioned magkaugnay earlier.

Okay, I should probably tell you why.

A couple of days earlier when my team and I went across the sea to a group of smaller islands in order to conduct a geologic mapping survey there, I almost teared up. If we weren’t there for work I would have focused on my emotions then towards the environment I was seeing. When you…

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World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice

Following on from that, I present this, from here, courtesy of Sir Charles: please read.

Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (see supplemental file S1). These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.

The authors of the 1992 declaration feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life. They described how we are fast approaching many of the limits of what the ­biosphere can tolerate ­without ­substantial and irreversible harm. The scientists pleaded that we stabilize the human population, describing how our large numbers—swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 percent increase—exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realize a sustainable future (Crist et al. 2017). They implored that we cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and phase out fossil fuels, reduce deforestation, and reverse the trend of collapsing biodiversity.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse (figure 1, file S1). Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels (Hansen et al. 2013), deforestation (Keenan et al. 2015), and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption (Ripple et al. 2014). Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.

Figure 1.

Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends (figure 1). We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats (Crist et al. 2017). By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.

As most political leaders respond to pressure, scientists, media influencers, and lay citizens must insist that their governments take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life. With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita ­consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources.

The rapid global decline in ozone-depleting substances shows that we can make positive change when we act decisively. We have also made advancements in reducing extreme poverty and hunger ( Other notable progress (which does not yet show up in the global data sets in figure 1) include the rapid decline in fertility rates in many regions attributable to investments in girls’ and women’s education (, the promising decline in the rate of deforestation in some regions, and the rapid growth in the renewable-energy sector. We have learned much since 1992, but the advancement of urgently needed changes in environmental policy, human behavior, and global inequities is still far from sufficient.

Sustainability transitions come about in diverse ways, and all require civil-society pressure and evidence-based advocacy, political leadership, and a solid understanding of policy instruments, markets, and other drivers. Examples of diverse and effective steps humanity can take to transition to sustainability include the following (not in order of importance or urgency): (a) prioritizing the enactment of connected well-funded and well-managed reserves for a significant proportion of the world’s terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial habitats; (b) maintaining nature’s ecosystem services by halting the conversion of forests, grasslands, and other native habitats; (c) restoring native plant communities at large scales, particularly forest landscapes; (d) rewilding regions with native species, especially apex predators, to restore ecological processes and dynamics; (e) developing and adopting adequate policy instruments to remedy defaunation, the poaching crisis, and the exploitation and trade of threatened species; (f) reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure; (g) promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods; (h) further reducing fertility rates by ensuring that women and men have access to education and voluntary family-planning services, especially where such resources are still lacking; (i) increasing outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature; (j) divesting of monetary investments and purchases to encourage positive environmental change; (k) devising and promoting new green technologies and massively adopting renewable energy sources while phasing out subsidies to energy production through fossil fuels; (l) revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment; and (m) estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal.

To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning. Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.

For references and more, please refer to the original article. And please contact your congressman, senator, member of parliament, president, mayor… anyone and everyone who can make a difference.

Thank you for listening.

Posted in balance, Biodiversity, Core thought, Education, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Science, Strategy | Tagged | 6 Comments

From 1985: Warnings from Carl Sagan and Al Gore

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Climate deniers will have a hard time explaining these to their grandchildren, the kids who are now woke to the disasters they’ve been served by  blindness and greed.

Astounding find by climatestate.

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Posted in balance, Biodiversity, Climate, Core thought, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Science | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Blogger Appreciation Award

I don’t normally do ‘awards’. But this one is different: Ang4him of My Journey to Imperfection has publicly acknowledged me for trying to help others; it would be churlish to refuse. Thank you, Ang4him. Also, it gives me an excuse to brag again about my post ‘Using Gravatar to build traffic‘, which is what she was thanking me for 🙂


  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link back to their site.
  2. Write a paragraph of something positive about yourself.
  3. Nominate and notify as many bloggers as you wish.
  4. Use the Blogger Appreciation Award image.

I’ve already dealt with ‘rule 1’. Now for ‘rule 3’: nominations.

I would like to nominate two people: please visit their sites and show your appreciation!

  • The Nerdy Lion, for offering a wealth of useful information to bloggers new and old.
  • Dr Perry, for providing a forum for newcomers to the blogosphere to publicise their sites.

I’ve used the image, so that’s ‘rule 4’ ticked off the list.

OK… I’ve left the hardest till last: ‘rule 2’. I’ve never been very good at blowing my own trumpet. On the flipside, I’m a great procrastinator! Something positive… something positive… *suddenly, he thinks of something*: I like to think that I’m a good writer. Ever since I was a teenager I wanted to be ‘a writer’. Thankfully, I never made the mistake of turning that into my day job, because although the ideal is to work at something one enjoys, I can’t think of a better way to gag the muse than to be obliged to be creative just to get paid. Whether I am actually a good writer or not I’ll leave up to the reader (there are a lot of words in this blog — just shy of 400 published articles including this one; take your pick!).

Phew, I’m glad that’s over.

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The dark side of the moon

This short wibblette is especially for Sue of Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary, who wondered recently “What is on the dark side of the Moon?”.

“There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.” — Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon

The picture on the right should be familiar to most people (although I sometimes wonder if Antipodeans — folks hailing from New Zealand or Australia — see it the same way up as we do in the northern hemisphere!); it’s the near side of the Moon.

One reason why it’s so familiar is that the Moon is tidally locked to the Earth; it always presents the same face towards us wherever it is in its orbit.

In this picture, the moon is full, and the ‘dark’ side is the side that faces away from us, the side we never see. But when the moon is ‘new’, the side towards us is the ‘dark side’, and the other side is in full sunlight….

This, on the left, is a picture of the far side of the Moon. It was first seen by human eyes in 1968 by the crew of Apollo 8: Borman, Lovell and Anders. The far side has been extensively mapped by various satellite missions dating back to 1959.

The two sides look very different. One theory that might explain this is revealed in the short video below.


Posted in Education, History, People, Science | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments


Earth-242x242Gaia, swirling heaven.
Mankind blossoms, then explodes;
the end: just deserts?

Posted in Biodiversity, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments