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Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

In an MIT Technology Review website article titled “The day I tasted climate change” James Temple describes the rather grim reality of living in a region where wildfires are becoming more and more frequent.

Climate change doesn’t ignite wildfires, but it’s intensifying the hot, dry summer conditions that have helped fuel some of California’s deadliest and most destructive fires in recent years.

I’ve long understood that the dangers of global warming are real and rising. I’ve seen its power firsthand in the form of receding glaciers, dried lake beds, and Sierra tree stands taken down by bark beetles.

This is the first time, though, that I smelled and tasted it in my home.

In 2016 we had a short vacation on the island Madeira. Although the wildfires there had already been put out weeks before our arrival, we could still smell the soot and the burned landscape… and that was enough to scare us of being close to such fires.

James Temple is much more knowledgeable on climate change than me, and his conclusion reads as a dire warning, unfortunately:

When I started writing seriously about climate change a little more than five years ago, the dangers largely seemed distant and abstract. Without realizing it, most of this time I’ve carried along an assumption that we will somehow, eventually, confront the problem in a meaningful way. We don’t have a choice. So sooner or later, we’ll do the right thing.

But after two years closely reporting and writing on clean energy technologies here, it has slowly dawned on me that, well, maybe not. While we absolutely could accomplish much of the necessary transformation with existing or emerging technologies, the sheer scale of the overhaul required and the depth of the entrenched interests may add up to insurmountable levels of inertia.

While I’m still remaining optimistic about humanity’s ability to cope, a little voice in the back of my head now questions that optimism…

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From I wish it weren’t a Republican versus Democrat thing”: Wildfire photographer Stuart Palley on climate change and California’s devastating blazes:

“We see [climate change] happening, but unfortunately the political leadership, even when they acknowledge it, aren’t acknowledging the reasons why it’s happening. And it’s getting to the point where I’ve gone from thinking that I want to document what’s going on to being frankly terrified that after only six years working on this project I’ve seen the changes starting to accelerate”

The Sand Fire burns in the Angeles National Forest Saturday July 23rd, 2016 under triple digit heat. The fire had burned 20,000 acres by Saturday evening and was 10% contained as firefighters battled low humidity, shifting wind, and high temperatures. An unknown number of structures were lost. Click on the picture to read the whole article on DP Review

We can only hope that 2019 brings real solutions to the problems that are already reshaping our world.

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From the Improbable Research website:

Inventor (and IP / patent lawyer) Michael Mansour Ahmadshahi Ph.D., Esq. has just been granted a US patent for his ‘Signal-activated lingerie’ which incorporates a remotely activated (un)fastener “causing the lingerie to fall off from the wearer’s body” when it receives the appropriate signal.

It is quite remarkable that the “inventor” only mentions “clapping of the hands” and “voice-recognition” as possible signals. Given the context, I would have expected “enthusiastic whistling” to be part of that list.

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Past Sunday saw us ride our annual Autumn Motorcycle Trip – us being a dozen like-minded bikers of different walks of life. Usually we plan this trip in October, to hopefully enjoy the last summer-like days of the year. But we had to change our plans this year, and the weather forecasts weren’t too great. It is November, after all.

But somehow the ten of us managed to ride the whole trip with just a few drips of rain, not enough to don our rain gear. Better: we even had a few minutes of nice sunshine, right in the middle of the Dutchess Hedwigepolder (sorry, in dutch only) in the Netherlands.

Yellow is the best colour for a motorcycle in this autumn sun!

We went there for a last visit – on a bike – to a part of the Schelde estuary that will soon be returned to the river and the Northsea, in order to diminish the risks of floods further up the river. Combined with the “Verdronken Land van Saeftinghe” the Hedwige and Prosper polders will be converted to a single natural reserve. Perhaps I will be able to go there on a bird-watching safari in a few years?

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TorrentFreak explains why and how a “Swedish ISP Protests ‘Site Blocking’ by Blocking Rightsholders Website Too“.

“Bahnhof has repeatedly demonstrated how copyright law is being abused and exploited by greedy opportunists [like Elsevier], and in the end it is always ordinary people who have to pay,” Bahnhof notes.

Thank you, Bahnhof, for speaking out against the abuse.

This is what you’ll see when surfing to Elsevier’s site as a Bahnhof customer. Don’t you love that modem sound?

The fight against copyright abuse: that’s exactly what Aaron Schwartz was a part of, and the case in Sweden, like others (check Australian law, for example), proves that the battles aren’t over. In fact, that is why the EU really needs to get rid of the current proposal for a Copyright Directive, and come up with something much better.

In the mean time, let Cory Doctorow explain why it is good that “Europe’s massive plan to require open access for all science gets two new backers: Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation“:

Now, Europe’s two largest science funders have joined the consortium: The Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation, and with these 15 funders backing Plan S, nearly all science research in Europe will be open access.

“Open Access” to scientific publications, that’s what this is all about.

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November 8 is the birthday of Aaron Schwartz, who died in 2013. Calling Aaron a hacker is neither nice nor correct – he was a programmer, an entrepreneur, a fighter against internet censorship, and more.

Lisa Rein and the Internet Archive are organising the sixth Aaron Schwartz Day during the coming weekend. If I lived in San Francisco, I would try to attend at least part of this event.

Click the image to go to the EFF for more info about Aaron and the ASD

Thanks to the EFF for making me remember Aaron.

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Satire, fine psychological research, or simple hollywoodian lust for cinematic grandeur? I really can’t decide, probably because it’s a bit of everything. But the proposition is intriguing: “Let’s Get Donald and Stormy Back Together Again!” (on the Politico website). It’s worth a few minutes of your time!

 

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