What happened at COP26? And what next?

A synopsis of the so-called Glasgow ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP26), by the Campaign against Climate Change (@campaigncc). It’s a disturbing, but thoroughly unsurprising, read:

What happened at COP26? And what next?

My summary, in a haiku:

In Pandora’s Box
Hope’s frosty note lay unread:
“Down pub getting drunk.”

There are some who denigrate those who, like me, consider that it is imperative that our entire civilization must take action now to reverse the trend. They call us ‘doomers’ for using words like ‘crisis’ and ’emergency’, and for arguing that if we continue to delay then the results will be catastrophic. They accuse people who say such things of spreading undue fear. But such an attitude plays right into the hands of those whose objective is further inaction and delay, and who promote a continuation of the totally unsustainable ‘business as usual’.

It polarizes the public and then that makes it harder to get consensus and progress.

John Cook, research fellow at Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub in Australia, and climate misinformation expert (via Desmogblog).

Those who would have us continue on our current course are cynically manipulating the majority, who, as they know full well, do not grasp the reality of exponential growth.

The Titanic is heading for an iceberg, and the fools at the helm believe her to be unsinkable. Yet, if the wheel is not turned now, the lumbering behemoth will not have enough time to avoid the inevitable collision.

Someday the earth will weep, she will beg for her life, she will cry with tears of blood. You will make a choice, if you will help her or let her die, and when she dies, you too will die.
“Someday the earth will weep,
she will beg for her life, she will cry with tears of blood.
You will make a choice, if you will help her or let her die,
and when she dies, you too will die.”
Hollow Horn Bear, Brulé Lakota 18501913
Posted in Biodiversity, Climate, Communication, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, News and politics, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

George’s call to action, NOW

I heartily second Bob’s endorsement of this important article by George Monbiot.

Bobbing Around

You’ve got to read this call to action from George Monbiot.

He starts with what appears to be a technological approach: replace fossil fuels with electric, and all will be well. Those who pay attention to scientific evidence have known from the 1970s that this is false. But then, indeed he points out some of the many problems of continuing to consume the earth using a different power source.

What is killing the environment, and therefore threatening all complex life on Earth, is the current economic model. George agrees with me that this is what needs to change.

He is optimistic that we still have a chance of doing so.

View original post

Posted in Biodiversity, Climate, Communication, Core thought, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, News and politics, Reblogs, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Man announces he will quit drinking by 2050

Man announces he will quit drinking by 2050
Man announces he will quit drinking by 2050

A Sydney man has set an ambitious target to phase out his alcohol consumption within the next 29 years, as part of an impressive plan to improve his health.

The program will see Greg Taylor, 73, continue to drink as normal for the foreseeable future, before reducing consumption in 2049 when he turns 101. He has assured friends it will not affect his drinking plans in the short or medium term.

Taylor said it was important not to rush the switch to non-alcoholic beverages. “It’s not realistic to transition to zero alcohol overnight. This requires a steady, phased approach where nothing changes for at least two decades,” he said, adding that he may need to make additional investments in beer consumption in the short term, to make sure no night out is worse off.

Taylor will also be able to bring forward drinking credits earned from the days he hasn’t drunk over the past forty years, meaning the actual end date for consumption may actually be 2060.

To assist with the transition, Taylor has bought a second beer fridge which he describes as the ‘capture and storage’ method.

Man announces he will quit drinking by 2050
Man announces he will quit drinking by 2050

Image source unknown
Text transcript courtesy of my eyes and fingers
Audio conversion from text transcript courtesy of Free TTS
Video courtesy of Synthesia (free demo, 200 character limit so I had to truncate it)

Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, Climate, Communication, Core thought, Energy, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Just for laughs, memetics, Phlyarology, Strategy | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

The green way to blog longevity via image optimisation

Back in 2018, I wrote a post called ‘Turbo-boost your site by optimising images‘. Since then, I’ve encountered a number of bloggers who have started new blogs; and they’ve all done so for the same reason: because their old ones ‘ran out of space’. That has spurred me to write a more detailed follow-up to my earlier post.

There are several very good reasons to consider optimising your images, including:

  • Minimising your blog’s data storage needs delays the point at which you run out of space (and it might also save you money).
  • It makes your pages leaner, so they load faster – which benefits all your site’s visitors.
  • It’s the greener choice, as it reduces society’s need to generate electricity. (Although you don’t pay for this directly, in effect we all do.)
  • Image optimisation is quick and easy to do, and it’s really not difficult to learn how to do it.

I thought it might be useful to illustrate this with an example…

All Things Bright and Beautiful (a case study)

Ju-Lyn, the owner of the site, kindly agreed to let me shine a spotlight on it.

Here’s what Ju-Lyn says on the site’s last post:

After much contemplation, I’ve decided to start a new blog instead of upgrading this current one which is pushing close to the memory limit. I’ve consulted some of you, dear BlogFriends, who have done one or the other, and I have dug deep as to where I see myself with blogging in the coming years.

Ju-Lyn, on All Things Bright and Beautiful

Had Ju-Lyn optimised her images, that memory limit would still be far away. She might even have found that she’d never been faced with the problem with which she wrestled here.

Church of St Francis of Assisi, Singapore, 21Feb2021 by Ju-Lyn (optimised to the actual size needed)

As an example: the image in that post, linked above, is rendered as 250 by 333 (pixels), yet the actual image is a massive 3024 by 4032; the WordPress.com system automagically resized it to fit.

The ‘weight’ of the original image, in terms of how much space it requires on disk, is ~1.5 megabytes (MB). That itself is pretty big, though some of the pictures my dumbphone gives me are twice that, or even larger.

With Ju-Lyn’s permission, I made a copy of that image and resized it to the actual size used on the post – 250 by 333 pixels. It’s the one shown here on this page.

The ‘weight’ of this resized image is just 13 kilobytes (KB). That’s less than 1% of the original. To put it another way, in case percentages aren’t your thing: the space required by this one unoptimised image is as much as that needed by a hundred optimised ones.

Here’s a link to the original image. Depending upon your bandwidth, you may notice how slowly it loads (on first access), compared with the smaller copy.

A quick look around other pages on the site suggests that all of its other images are also unoptimised. I’m pretty sure that this is the reason for the looming ‘memory limit’ problem that caused Ju-Lyn to start afresh with a new site (that one’s called ‘Touring My Backyard‘).

Also, optimising your images has another distinct benefit: it allows your pages to load much more quickly. That’s a kindness to all of your site’s visitors. (It’s also of particular relevance to those accessing your site via a dumbphone: large images burn through data budgets!)


A bit of personal history

Back in the early days of the innerwebz, ‘broadband’ hadn’t yet been devised; everyone and his dog connected with a modem on ‘dial-up‘, and the bandwidth available using that was a tiny fraction of what we’re now used to. In those early days, I designed websites for businesses, and to make them fly it was crucial to make each page as lean as possible so that it loaded fast. Images were always the issue… and so I learned how to optimise them.

So, when I started blogging, over a decade later, I naturally used the same techniques. My blog here, ‘Wibble’, has been going since 2007. Its media library contains just over 500 images, yet the total weight of all of those is less than 40MB – because every single one of them has been optimised. That total is just 1% of my 6GB allotment (I have a WordPress.com ‘personal plan’; free sites get half that). I’ll probably be dead long before I get to even 2%, let alone anywhere near the alloted maximum, so I’ll never have a need to close ‘Wibble’ down and start afresh.


Reducing your data storage needs is the green choice

There’s another excellent reason you should consider adopting this technique: it’s the green choice.

In ‘Diving deep into the blogosphere‘ I made a stab at estimating the number of blog posts that exist (just on WordPress.com), and came up with a number: 21 billion (and that’s almost certainly an underestimate).

Now, not all of those posts have photographic images on them, but a lot of them do (and by far the majority of those images aren’t optimised; they’ll have been plonked on the page directly from the camera). Let’s say a quarter of all of those pages contain at least one such image, and that the weight of each image is ~1.5MB as in the example from the case study above. So, that’s about five billion times 1.5MB, which comes out as a staggering 7.5 petabytes (PB). And that’s just for images, the vast majority of which are humongously larger than they need to be.

ARSAT data center (2014) by IMarcoHerrera (resized to 350×234 pixels, ~19KB) CC BY-SA 4.0
(click to embiggen)

All that data has to be stored somewhere: in data centres, which are industrial-scale operations, some of which use as much electricity as a small town. Globally, about two-thirds of electricity is generated by fossil fuels. So, if you’re as concerned about climate change as I am and want to reduce your own carbon footprint, one way to take action yourself is to minimise how much data you store. Yes, of course it’s true that images are a tiny fraction of the whole of society’s data storage needs, but it all adds up. As enormous as ‘7.5PB’ is, it’s still just a drop in the pond. Global demand for data storage is measured in zettabytes (ZB) – millions of PB – and growing fast.

We all need to find ways to be kinder to Spaceship Earth, and this one is very easy to do.


Cutting to the chase

My own rule of thumb for the width of images on web pages has long been 350 pixels for centre-aligned images, and 250 pixels for left- or right-aligned (to give the adjacent text more room). On a dumbphone this distinction is irrelevant, as images are rarely, if ever, shown with adjacent text.

It’s very quick and easy to make your images smaller. I use Paint Shop Pro (version 6, which, while it’s ‘obsolete’, still does exactly what I need it to do: if it ain’t broke, why fix it?). But you don’t have to use that: there are other software applications available (but don’t even bother looking at MS-Paint, that’s utterly useless!). There are also many websites that offer free online image manipulation.

Another thing to bear in mind, when visiting sites that offer images, is that these may offer downloads in a variety of different sizes – though you may have to hunt for that option. On both Unsplash and Pexels, for example, the default download link is to the highest resolution image. However, if you click on the image presented on the site first, that opens up a new window with a ‘Download free’ button offering more options. ‘Small’ is 640 pixels wide: more than big enough for most purposes, but still a substantial saving. One of the options Pexels offers is a ‘custom’ size, which can remove the need to do further image manipulation.

For instance, an image I just happened to look at on Unsplash (‘tools in order’ by Mikael Kristenson) offered me a whopping 5.7MB file by default (8688×5792), but the ‘Small’ version (640×426) is only 57KB – just 1% the size, yet still perfectly adequate.

Sometimes, of course, you’ll want a high resolution, such as when you want to crop the image to show only a part of it. Or you may want versions at different sizes (such as when you want to do the ‘click to embiggen trick‘ that I’ve used on the ARSAT Data Center image above).

I think that just about covers it. If you have any questions, please ask. I’d be happy to help! :)

Addendum 20Nov2021

While responding to Goldie’s comment on this post, I found some WordPress.com support pages containing a lot of helpful information on this topic, including a page devoted to image optimization and an overview that you may find useful.

Posted in Computers and Internet, Energy, Environment, Strategy, Tech tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 53 Comments

No more “blah, blah, blah” – we need ACTION, NOW

‘Honest Government Ad | COP26 Climate Summit’ from thejuicemedia

Hello. Bonjour. ???, Salaam ??? ???. I’m from the Australien Government with a message for the world as we gather in Glasgow for this crucial Climate Summit: Fuck you.

Over the coming days, our Prime Marketer will be there trying to shake a lot of hands and saying a lot of “blah blah blah”, like, “We’re reducing emissions,” and, “Net Zero by 2050”. But, for those of you not fluent in Cuntonese, the official language of the Australien Government, what he’s saying is, “Fuck you; we’ll keep digging, burning, and exporting fossil fuels, let you do the hard work and then take all the credit.” Fich dich ins knie [get down on your knees].

We have lots of experience at this because that’s what we do back home, where we let the states and territories build renewables, subsidise EVs, and retire coal plants, while we obstruct renewables, shit-talk EVs and subsidise coal plants – and then take credit for reducing emissions. We even take credit when those reductions are due to policies the opposition introduced when it was in office: policies we scrapped, causing emissions to rise again.

Sometimes we even take credit for things nobody does, like carbon credits for not clearing land that wasn’t ever going to be cleared anyway.

If a tree isn’t cut down in a forest, does it make a sound? Why, yes: ‘cha-ching!’.

All that might sound like we do nothing, but we’re actually very busy: our ‘Environment Minister’ just opened three coal mines in a single month whilst appealing a court ruling that she has a duty of care towards children over climate change – and our Minister for Emission Reduction (yes, that’s really his title) is supporting massive new gas projects that’ll contribute a cubic shit-ton of emissions to the world, not meeting the Paris target: the equivalent of 46 more coal plants; that’s three more than the 43 new coal plants China’s planning to build.

We really are overachievers or, as you Italians might say, “Siamo dei gran stronzi” [“We are great assholes”]. What’s that? How can we be expanding fossil fuels now that we’ve announced ‘Net Zero by 2050’? Oh, sweetheart, we can, precisely because of ‘Net Zero by 2050’!

Does it come with a policy? Nope.
Is it binding? No.
Does it rely on technologies that work, or even fucking exist? Nah.
But does it distract from what we’re doing this decade? You betcha!

And don’t think we’re the only ones: am I right, Norway? Nice huge gas exports you got there. Hey, Canada, America, loving that ‘Line 3’ pipeline you guys just expanded. UK? Nice new oil rigs you got ready to go there in the North Sea. Russia, baby, we see you doing fuck-all.

And to all the other governments attending, we know you want to punch us in the face for obstructing every COP since Kyoto. But, hey, as long as you keep buying our coal and gas exports, we know you secretly love us for it. Most Australians are profoundly ashamed of our climate shitfuckery, so don’t blame them. Well, except the dickheads who keep voting for us; for them, we reserve our biggest fuck-you of all, with our ‘Technology Not Taxes’ plan, which means you pay for bullshit technologies that greenwash fossil fuel companies and they keep paying no taxes.

That’s the Australien way.

We hope you enjoy this summit, and if it fails, don’t forget to thank Scotty from coal fondling and all of us here at the Australien Government. Allez-vous, ??? ??? ???. Yes, touch my ??? [we are a prick].

Authorized by the Department for Blah Blah Blah.

thejuicemedia (these guys are awesome!)

The transcript above was made with the help of Sonix, which did most of the donkey work for a tiny fee (I did have to spend some time tidying it up). Note that I do not have the copyright owner’s permission to publish this transcript here. I’ve investigated the copyright rules regarding transcriptions (more about that here), and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s no defence to make a disclaimer like “these aren’t my words, no copyright infringement intended.” However, I offer the transcription here as a service to society (especially the deaf community). I do hope the copyright owner won’t object. And I hope that you find this video as interesting as I did.


OK, that’s the comedy skit done; so, what can we do?

Apart from trying to pressure our esteemed ‘leaders’ to actually get off their pompous behinds and do the right thing, there is quite a lot we can all do individually. One example was highlighted to me just the other day by the Ecology Building Society:

https://zero.giki.earth/


And to round things off, here’s a reminder of why we need to care:

A timeline of Earth’s average temperature since the last ice age glaciation, by xkcd

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to do some more preparatory work to ‘remove the trip from Madrid to Moscow and back from my bucket list‘, AKA ‘arrangements to ensure that my remains are not cremated after I’m gone’. (Could I perhaps persuade you to do likewise?)

Posted in ... wait, what?, Climate, Communication, Core thought, GCD: Global climate disruption, Phlyarology, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

The Magnitude of the Challenge

With the COP26 climate summit due to kick off in Glasgow on Sunday, here’s a stark warning of what the future holds in store for us all if our global ‘leaders’ fail to come through (as I fully expect them to do).

As Sir David Attenborough said recently:

If we don’t act now, it will be too late.

Sir David Attenborough
Dr Will Steffen from the Australian National University discusses ‘Climate Change: The Magnitude of the Challenge’ at Festival of Ambitious Ideas, May 2016

Dr Will Steffen: OK, now, as Monty Python said, for something completely different: I’m going to talk a bit about climate change, but probably stuff you haven’t seen or heard about before. So, I want to talk about the magnitude of what we have to deal with and the reason that the exciting developments that Laughlin talked about need to be accelerated; they’re not optional, they must be done.

Slide showing global temperature variations wildly swinging over the last 100,000 years, marked with human events from the first migrations out of Africa up to the stable period of the last ~10,000 years (the Holocene).
Slide #1: Human Development and Earth System Dynamics (Source: Greenland Ice Core Data (GRIP) and S. Oppenheimer, “Out of Eden”, 2004)

All right: That’s the 100,000 year history of homo sapiens – half the time we’ve been on the planet. Just look at the last 10,000 years; a very even climate. That’s the only time in our history that we’ve been able to develop agriculture, villages, cities and civilization. It’s a planetary sweet spot, and we’re leaving it really fast.

Slide showing global temperature variations wildly swinging over the last 100,000 years, marked with human events from the first migrations out of Africa up to the stable period of the last ~10,000 years (the Holocene).
Slide #2: Temperature rise: Beyond the envelope of natural variability? (Source: Summerhayes 2015)

That’s the last 2,000 years. Rome was at point zero, the city of Rome. Look: you can see natural variability of climate; that’s temperature, that wavy black line. Look at the right hand end: that’s what we’re doing because we’re burning fossil fuels. It’s shooting way outside the variability – natural variability – that we’ve designed our cities for, and our own physiology is built for.

Slide showing the IPCC 2013 forecasts for two possible global surface temperature futures: one being 'business as usual', taking us up to ~3°C to ~5°C, and a much lower path that assumes action to address the problem.
Slide #3: IPCC temperature projections (Source: IPCC 2013)

We can look toward the future; and these are the projections from climate models. And a lot of people may question them, but climate models are bloody good at getting global average temperature; in fact, they’re spot on, because we understand the physics of the climate system really, really well. Those are our two futures. The future that Laughlin is talking about is the blue one. And that’s very positive because we can get emissions down very fast, as he said, we can stabilize the climate by the period 2050 to 2100. Where are we going now? We’re going on the orange one, and that’s going toward a 4°C temperature rise by the end of this century compared to pre-industrial. Any idea what the temperature difference is between the last ice age and the present? Any guesses? 4°C. See, we’re talking about a shift as big as between an ice age when mastodons and woolly mammoths were around and humans barely survived. We’re talking about the same difference – but not in 5,000 years, in one century.

Dr Will Steffen standing at the lectern, with a slide showing the unprecedented steeply rising forecast of global temp up to 2100AD, with the last two millenia shown for context. Subtitle reads, 'it is impossible to survive that sort of change. That's beyond human physiology'
Slide #4: Projected temperature rise by 2100CE, in the perspective of the last 2,000 years (Historical data plus IPCC projections)

So, let me put that change on the same timeframe that I just showed you. There is our 2,000 year history where we developed our cities, modern civilization. There is the spike at the end where we are now. And there’s the projections, on the same timeframe, at 2100. OK? The problem there is that, in my view, it is impossible to survive that sort of change. It’s beyond human physiology to deal with that sort of change; in fact, large mammals as a whole will not be very good in there. Our cities are designed for that wavy black line there, and remember, a lot of our infrastructure is designed for 100 years. That’s just 100 years. In fact, that 5-6°C is business as usual 85 years from now: a human lifetime. So, what Laughlin is talking about is really important and it is not optional. It must be done and it must be accelerated.

Slide showing the unprecedented steeply rising forecast of global temp up to 2100AD, with the last two millenia shown for context. Arrows show the 2°C to which we're already committed, and the point at which civilisation becomes at risk (~5°C).
Slide #5: Projected temperature rise by 2100CE with additional notes (Historical data plus IPCC projections)

So, let me just leave you then with a couple of numbers. See, that’s what we’re committed to, by the way. Even with the fastest rollout we can of solar, of non-carbon transport, of different agriculture; we’re committed to pretty much 2°C. We’re not going to make the Paris 1.5°C; that’s already out of the question. And that’s already a big shock, but that is the trajectory we’re on now. And that’s a collapse scenario, no matter what we do with all the whizz-bang technology, because physiologically, we can’t survive that. So the real challenge is: we’ve got to make sure we hit that 2°C.

Slide of text detailing three aspects of rates of climate change: Increase in CO2 is ~100 times the max rate in the last deglaciation; Since 1970, global avg temp has risen ~170 times the rate over the past 7000 years (and in the opposite direction); Rate of increased ocean acidification is unparalleled for more than 300 million years.
Slide #6: Rates of Climate Change (Source: De Vos et al 2014; Wolff 2011; Marcott et al 2013; NOAA 2016; Canfield et al 2010)

Let me leave you with some thoughts about rates of climate change. CO2 – that’s the big gas that we’re worried about in the atmosphere – the last time that rocketed up was when we came out of the last ice age; it went up by 100 parts per million in 5,000 years. It was 280 just a century or so ago; it’s hitting 400 now today at Cape Grim, as we speak. All right, that’s 100 times faster than the maximum rate the Earth has experienced. Look at temperatures: since 1970, the global average temperature has risen at a rate of about 170 times the background rate over the past 7,000 years. Why do you think reefs are bleaching all over the world? Why do you think we’re having massive fires in Canada? That’s why. It’s not something for the future; that’s why it’s happening. And ocean acidification: it’s going faster than it has for 300 million years, and that’s why ocean ecosystems as a whole are in trouble.

So, I’ll just leave you with this point: it’s that we have two possible futures. We don’t want that one, for sure. So, everything Laughlin has been talking about – and lots of other people – about getting carbon out of our economy: it’s not optional. If we don’t get carbon out of our economy over the next two or three decades, that’s where we’re heading.

Dr Will Steffen, Climate Change: The Magnitude of the Challenge

The transcript above was made with the help of Sonix, which did most of the donkey work for a tiny fee (I did have to spend some time tidying it up). Note that I do not have the copyright owner’s permission to publish this transcript here. I’ve investigated the copyright rules regarding transcriptions (more about that here), and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s no defence to make a disclaimer like “these aren’t my words, no copyright infringement intended.” However, I offer the transcription here as a service to society (especially the deaf community). I do hope the copyright owner won’t object. And I hope that you find this video as interesting as I did.


Slide #1 (@21 seconds)

Slide showing global temperature variations wildly swinging over the last 100,000 years, marked with human events from the first migrations out of Africa up to the stable period of the last ~10,000 years (the Holocene).
Slide #1: Human Development and Earth System Dynamics (Source: Greenland Ice Core Data (GRIP) and S. Oppenheimer, “Out of Eden”, 2004)

Human Development and Earth System Dynamics
x-axis: Age (kyrs before present), graduated (left to right) 100, 80, 60, 40, 20
y-axis (left): (can’t make out label), graduated (top to bottom) -34, -38, -42, origin (not marked) ~-46
y-axis (right): label ΔT (temperature change), graduated (top to bottom) 0, -20, origin (not marked) ~-30
Source: Greenland Ice Core Data (GRIP) and S. Oppenheimer, “Out of Eden”, 2004

There is a dashed line that runs across at the level of 0ΔT.

The main chart contains pointers to events:
~95k First migration of fully modern humans out of Africa
~70k Aborigines arrive in Australia
~60k-~40k Migrations from South Asia to Europe
~18k Beginning of agriculture (coincides with the start of the Holocene)
~10k Great Asian, European, African, American civilizations

The graph starts at -38 on the left, and progresses towards the right in crazy, jagged swings up and down across most of the chart. Then, at ~12k, it settles on the 0ΔT line and continues there to the right-hand side. This activity is enclosed by a shaded oval which has a red arrow pointing at it from text that reads ‘Holocene’.

Slide #2 (@41 seconds)

Slide showing global temperature variations wildly swinging over the last 100,000 years, marked with human events from the first migrations out of Africa up to the stable period of the last ~10,000 years (the Holocene).
Slide #2: Temperature rise: Beyond the envelope of natural variability? (Source: Summerhayes 2015)

Temperature rise: Beyond the envelope of natural variability?
x-axis: Years (C.E.), graduated (left to right) 0, 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000
y-axis: “Stand. Temp. (°C” (truncated), graduated (top to bottom) 0.2, 0, -0.2, -0.4, -0.6
Label below, presumably indicating source: Summerhayes 2015

Three lines slope gradually down from left to right; the middle one begins at 0°C and ends at ~-0.4°C. The two lines either side are 0.1°C away. The label beneath these three says ‘Natural Envelope of Temperature’. Above the lines are two labels: ‘MWP’ (medieval warm period?) from ~1000CE to ~1200CE, and ‘L/A’ (?) from ~1200CE to ~1800CE.
The graph itself starts at -0.2C, stretches across to ~1900CE varying between the upper and lower boundaries of the ‘Natural Envelope of Temperature’ zone, and then abruptly shoots off the top of the chart (creating a shape that I would call ‘the hockey stick’).

Slide #3 (@67 seconds)

Slide showing the IPCC 2013 forecasts for two possible global surface temperature futures: one being 'business as usual', taking us up to ~3°C to ~5°C, and a much lower path that assumes action to address the problem.
Slide #3: IPCC temperature projections (Source: IPCC 2013)

IPCC temperature projections
Chart title: Global average surface temperature change
x-axis: (no label, but inferred calendar years CE), graduated (left to right) 1950, 2000, 2050, 2100
y-axis: (no label, but inferred degrees Celcius), graduated (top to bottom) 6.0, 4.0, 2.0, 0.0, -2.0
Source: IPCC 2013

The graph starts at ~-0.5°C at 1950CE on the left, and progresses towards the right (I assume this is historical data): the line is relatively thin. At 2005CE it splits into two bands that spread as they move towards the right (my assumption is that this spreading represents uncertainty of the accuracy of the projection into the future):
an upper orange band that extends up to ~3°C to ~5°C
a lower blue band that spans ~0°C to ~2°C.

There is a legend at the top left showing black, blue and orange, but I cannot make out the labels :(
There is a blue line extending up from 2005CE. Above the line of the graph before this point is the number ’42’; to the right, the number ’39’ appears above the orange banding, and the number ’32’ appears below the blue banding. I have no clue what those numbers are supposed to represent.

Slide #4 (@138 seconds)

Dr Will Steffen standing at the lectern, with a slide showing the unprecedented steeply rising forecast of global temp up to 2100AD, with the last two millenia shown for context. Subtitle reads, 'it is impossible to survive that sort of change. That's beyond human physiology'
Slide #4: Projected temperature rise by 2100CE, in the perspective of the last 2,000 years (Historical data plus IPCC projections)

This shows slide #2 (the past 2,000 years) together with the range of projected temperature rises, between 1.5°C and an almost inconceivably steep slope up towards a gut-wrenching ~6°C…

Slide #5 (@204 seconds)

Slide showing the unprecedented steeply rising forecast of global temp up to 2100AD, with the last two millenia shown for context. Arrows show the 2°C to which we're already committed, and the point at which civilisation becomes at risk (~5°C).
Slide #5: Projected temperature rise by 2100CE with additional notes (Historical data plus IPCC projections)

As slide #4 above, but with two additional annotations:

  1. An arrow pointing to the 2°C mark at 2100CE, labelled, “Committed“.
  2. An arrow pointing to just below the 5°C mark at 2100CE, labelled, “Earth System moves to a new state? Severe challenge to contemporary civilisation. Possible collapse?“.

Slide #6 (@217 seconds)

Slide of text detailing three aspects of rates of climate change: Increase in CO2 is ~100 times the max rate in the last deglaciation; Since 1970, global avg temp has risen ~170 times the rate over the past 7000 years (and in the opposite direction); Rate of increased ocean acidification is unparalleled for more than 300 million years.
Slide #6: Rates of Climate Change (Source: De Vos et al 2014; Wolff 2011; Marcott et al 2013; NOAA 2016; Canfield et al 2010)

Rates of Climate Change
Source: De Vos et al 2014; Wolff 2011; Marcott et al 2013; NOAA 2016; Canfield et al 2010

This slide features the following sobering facts:

  • Rate of atmospheric CO2 increase over the past two decades is about 100 times the maximum rate during the last deglaciation.
  • Since 1970 the global average temperature has risen at a rate about 170 times the background rate over the past 7,000 years of the Holocene, and in the opposite direction.
  • Rate of increase in ocean acidification is unparalleled for at least the last 300 million years.

If we don’t act now, it will be too late.

Sir David Attenborough
Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, Biodiversity, Core thought, Education, Energy, Environment, GCD: Global climate disruption, Health, Strategy | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

How to celebrate being 42 every fourth year

Deep Thought reveals The Answer

A long time after Deep Thought reveals The Answer to Loonquawl and Phouchg, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect try to figure out what The Question might be. Marvin (the Paranoid Android) had told them that The Question was imprinted in Arthur’s brainwave pattern, so they try to tease it out from his head by means of a makeshift Scrabble set. Arthur draws tiles from a bag, revealing a question:

“What do you get if you multiply six by nine?”
“Six by nine. Forty two.”
“That’s it. That’s all there is.”
“I always thought something was fundamentally wrong with the universe.”

Douglas Adams (19522001), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

In these enlightened days, of course, no one believes a word of it (as someone once said). But, nevertheless, the meme of ’42’ spreads relentlessly. Well, it does that in my head, anyway.

If you, like me, are addicted to the meme, I’ve come up with another way you can celebrate it. And it’s a way that allows you to do it once every four years – provided that you’ve completed at least 22 circumsolar navigations. That’s 22 in decimal, of course. Another way of saying ‘decimal’ is ‘base 10’; and numbers can be written specifying the base using positional notation. So, ’22’ can be shown as ’2210‘.

The ‘question’ that Arthur and Ford discover, 610x910, equals 5410. But that answer can also be represented in any other base, not just base 10. In base 13, for instance: 613x913=4213 (four times thirteen plus two). Just to be clear: I didn’t come up with that; someone else did, decades ago. Douglas Adams himself is said to have refuted this explanation, claiming:

I may be a sorry case, but I don’t write jokes in base 13.

Douglas Adams (allegedly: I’ve been unable to verify this quote)

I’ve always thought that was a pity, really; it’s a wonderful solution, as it highlights the reality that we, homo fatuus brutus, the descendants of DNA‘s ‘B Ark’, have made such a grand job of so thoroughly screwing things up. I don’t mean to slur the man’s good name, but I wonder whether he was perhaps just covering up for not having thought of it himself.

My friend Rusty is a fellow forty-two aficionado (with emphasis, naturally, on the ‘fish’). He’s fond of pondering alternative solutions to the answer for The Answer (one particularly good example of which is recounted in my post 42!). Rusty was as pleased as Punch when I told him I’d figured out that he’d be able to celebrate his ’42nd’ trip around the Sun on his next birthday :)

For ages 22 and up, you can figure out the base you need to use to ‘be’ ’42’ from the formula (age-22)/4+5.

Or, if formulas befuddle you, to put it another way:

  1. Subtract 22 from your age.
  2. If the result is negative, you’ll have to wait (until you’re 22). Otherwise:
  3. Halve the result; then halve it again (note that half of zero is zero!)
  4. If the result isn’t a whole number (including 0), try again next year. Otherwise:
  5. Add 5 to give the base conversion needed to make you ’42’.

And if even that’s too much for you, here’s a handy conversion table:

AgeBaseNote
225
266
307
348‘Base 8’ is also known as ‘octal’. A minor geek’s perfect age?
389
4210The ‘natural’ perfect age?
4611
5012
5413
5814
6215
6616‘Base 16’ is ‘hexadecimal’. A major geek’s perfect age?
7017Douglas Adams (RIP), next birthday (11 March)
7418
7819
8220
8621Carl Sagan (RIP), now
9022
9423
9824
Ages at which you can be said to be ’42’ in the given base

So, now I have another day to celebrate: 11Mar2022, the day on which Douglas, were he still with us, could be said to celebrate his ’42nd’ birthday :)

Postscript

In trying to allocate an appropriate date on which to publish this post, I initially thought of 13Apr2022, as that is 42 days before Towel Day next year. But I’ve already got a post scheduled to mark that event.

Then I thought, Why not 42 weeks ahead? Unfortunately, I’ve missed the boat on that, as, by my reckoning, that would be Wednesday 04Aug2021.

But having come so far, I pushed the boat out even farther still, thinking, Why not ’42’ days ahead – but in a different base? 4210 is 2224… and 222 days before Towel Day is 15Oct2021.

Dang. That was last Friday.

And then I thought, So what? It’s all nonsense anyway :)

2022-05-25T10:10:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Towel Day 2022

Note: the clock is calibrated according to 10:10:10 UTC
as that, to me, is the best time for this planetary event.

Posted in ... wait, what?, Just for laughs, memetics, Phlyarology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

The secret to success

I was brought up to believe in the value of a meritocracy (my school’s motto was ‘Virtus non stemma’ – ‘Worth, not Birth’). It took me a very long time to recognise that the world doesn’t work that way. Far too many believe that our society is a meritocracy, and that rewards accrue to those most worthy; but the reality is an inversion, and a perversion: ‘Birth, not Worth’.

I chanced upon ‘The Pencilsword #TEN: On a Plate’ by Toby Morris not long ago. While looking for a way to contact Toby to ask for permission to reproduce it, I discovered that he says that ‘#TEN’ is widely stolen, widely shared. It’s all good.

Toby’s insightful cartoon reminded me of a video by Veritasium on ‘the success paradox’, which questions whether success is luck or hard work. I’ve included that below, too (together with a transcription).

I think that these two complement each other wonderfully.

First, you must believe that you are in complete control of your destiny and that your success comes down only to your own talent and hard work. But second, you’ve got to know that’s not true for you or anyone else.

Veritasium

Veritasium: During the COVID lockdown, this headline went viral: “Nearly half of men say they do most of the home schooling; 3% of women agree.” I bring this up not to debate who’s right, but because it’s a great example of something called ‘egocentric bias‘. Most people think they do most of the work. For example, researchers have asked authors of multi-author papers what percentage of the work they personally did; and when they add up those percentages, the sum is on average, 140%. When couples are asked to estimate how much of the housework they do, the combined total is almost always over 100%.

Now, you might think this is because people want to appear more helpful than they actually are, but that’s not it. When couples are asked what fraction of the fights they start, or how much of the mess is theirs, the total is again over 100. People think they do more of the work, but they also think they cause more of the problems. So why is this? I think it’s simply because you experience and remember vividly all of what you do, but not all of what everyone else does. So, naturally, you overestimate your own contributions and underestimate others’. I think this bias leads us to underestimate the influence of other things on our lives, like the role luck plays in our success.

Take hockey players, for example. If you ask a professional hockey player how they managed to reach the NHL, they might mention their hard work, determination, great coaches, their parents’ willingness to get up at 5am, and so on, but they probably won’t acknowledge how lucky they were to be born in January. And yet, in many years, 40% of hockey players selected into top tier leagues are born in the first quarter of the year, compared to just 10% in the fourth quarter. An early birthday can make you up to four times as likely to be a pro hockey player. And the reason for this disparity is presumably because the cut-off date for kids hockey leagues is January 1st. Those born in the first part of the year are a little older and so on average, bigger and faster than kids in their league born late in the year. Now, as they grow up, this difference should eventually shrink to nothing. But it doesn’t; because the young kids who show the most promise are given more time on the ice, and enter more tournaments, where they receive better coaching and improve their skills. And these advantages compound year after year. So by the time you get to the pros, birthdays are heavily skewed towards the start of the year. But does any professional hockey player feel thankful for their birthday? Probably not.

And we are all like that, largely oblivious to the fortunate events that support our success. Probably the most significant bit of luck many of us enjoy is being born into a prosperous country. Around half the variance in income received by people around the world is explained by their country of residence and that country’s income distribution. If you were born in Burundi, for example, which has the world’s lowest gross national income per capita of just $730 a year, it doesn’t matter how smart or hard-working you are, you’re unlikely to earn much as an adult. Now, many people get offended if you point out how big a role chance plays in their success. And I get it, if we are just a product of our circumstances, then our hard work and our talent seem to count for nothing. People think it has to be either skill or luck that explains success. The truth is, you need both. Take these eight track and field world records; all the athletes who achieved these records are obviously world class: extremely dedicated and talented, and yet when they achieved their world records, seven out of eight had a tailwind. Now, these athletes all had the ability to win a gold medal, but to set the world record required a bit of luck as well.

The importance of luck increases the greater the number of applicants applying for just a few spaces. Consider the most recent class of NASA astronauts. From over 18,300 applicants in 2017, only 11 were selected and went on to graduate from the astronaut training program. And we can make a toy model of the selection process. Let’s assume that astronauts are selected mostly based on skill, experience and hard work, but also, say, 5% as a result of luck; fortunate circumstances. For each applicant, I randomly generated a skill score out of 100 and I also randomly generated a luck score out of 100. Then I added those numbers together, weighted in the 95:5 ratio to get an overall score. This score represents the selectors’ judgments, meaning the top 11 by this metric would become astronauts. And I repeated this simulation a thousand times, representing a thousand different astronaut selections. And what I found was the astronauts who were picked were very lucky; they had an average luck score of 94.7. So, how many of these selected astronauts would have been in the top 11 based on skill alone? The answer was, on average, only 1.6. That means even with luck accounting for just 5% of the outcome, nine or maybe 10 of the 11 applicants selected would have been different if luck played no role at all.

When competition is fierce, being talented and hard working is important, but it’s not enough to guarantee success, you also need to catch a break. Largely, I think we’re unaware of our good luck because, by definition, it’s not something we did; like the housework done by your significant other, it goes unappreciated. And here’s the crazy thing: downplaying the importance of chance events may actually improve your probability of success, because if you perceive an outcome to be uncertain, you’re less likely to invest effort in it, which further decreases your chances of success. So it’s a useful delusion to believe you are in full control of your destiny. I mean, if I had known how bad I was when I started YouTube or how much work it would take, I might have given up right then.

Welcome to Veritasium: an online science video blog.

Now, there may be another benefit to overlooking your lucky breaks, which is it makes it easier to justify your place in society. If you have a lot of wealth or power, you can just chalk it up to your own intelligence, effort and perseverance. It makes it easier to accept inequality.

In one experiment, participants were put in groups of three in small rooms to discuss a complex moral problem, and one person in each group was randomly designated the ‘team leader’. Half an hour later, the experimenter came by with four cookies for each team. So who got the extra cookie? In each case, it went to the team leader, even though they had no special aptitude: they didn’t have extra responsibilities and they’d gotten their position through chance alone. Once you have achieved a certain status, it seems natural to feel like you deserve it, and all the other good things that come your way. Now, this is just an anecdote, but whenever I’ve been upgraded to fly business class, I’ve always observed the worst behavior in my fellow privileged passengers; they just act so entitled and uncourteous.

And research has found evidence for this as well. In another experiment, participants were asked to think of a good thing that happened to them recently. And then one group was asked to list their own personal qualities or actions that made that good thing happen. Another group was asked to list external factors beyond their control that led to the event, and a control group was simply asked to list reasons why the good thing happened. Now, for completing this task, participants were told they would be paid $1, but at the end, they were offered the option to donate some or all of the money to a charity. Results showed those who listed their own personal attributes contributed 25% less than those who listed external factors beyond their control.

Now, think of what all this means for people in our society, specifically for people in positions of power, like business leaders and politicians. Now, undoubtedly, most of them are talented and hard working, but they have also been luckier than most. And like most of us, they don’t realize just how lucky they are. And this gives them a distorted view of reality. They’re kind of living in a form of survivor bias. All these leaders have worked hard and ultimately succeeded, so, to them, the world appears fair. In their experience, it rewards hard work. But what they don’t have is the experience of all the people who have worked hard — and failed. So what are they to make of people less successful than themselves? Well, the natural conclusion is that they must just be less talented or less hard working. And this perspective makes them less inclined to be generous; to give back. And they are the ones who set the rules for how society operates.

And this is particularly unfortunate, since one of the main ways many of us are lucky is in our country of residence. But what is a country except for the things put there by people who came before; the roads and the schools, public transport, emergency services, clean air and water and everything like that? It seems a cruel trick of our psychology that successful people without any malice will credit their success largely to their own hard work and ingenuity, and therefore contribute less to maintaining the very circumstances that made that success possible in the first place.

The good news is that acknowledging our fortunate circumstances not only brings us more in line with reality, it also makes us more likeable. In a study where people had to read the transcript of a fictional 60 Minutes interview with a biotech entrepreneur, experimenters tried changing just the last paragraph where the interviewee is talking about the reasons for their company’s success. In one version, the entrepreneur personally takes credit for the success they’ve had. But in the other, he says luck played a significant role. Now, people who read the luck version of the transcript judged the entrepreneur as kinder, and thought they’d be more likely to be close friends with him than those who read the other version of the transcript. And raising our awareness of fortunate events can also make us happier because it allows us to feel gratitude.

Personally, I am grateful to Michael Stephens of Vsauce, who on October 7th, 2012 posted the video, ‘How much does a shadow weigh?‘ which shouts out my slow motion Slinky drop video; and within three days my subscribers had increased by a third — and within a month they had doubled, leading me to quit my part time job and work exclusively on YouTube videos. And I’m grateful to the writer of the free newspaper they give out on the trains in Sydney who didn’t quite understand electricity, leading me to post this picture of their article to my Instagram with a caption, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’. And I’m lucky that the first person to answer correctly was a beautiful woman who became my future wife. Yep, that is how I met your mother. Now, initially, I wanted to make this video just to say our circumstances and psychology conspired to make us oblivious to our own luck; and this leads successful people to view the world as fair and those less successful than them as less talented or less hard-working. And this is before you factor in any discrimination or prejudice. But, it also became apparent to me that I should talk about what to do if you want to be successful in such a world.

And I think the best advice is paradoxical. First, you must believe that you are in complete control of your destiny and that your success comes down only to your own talent and hard work. But second, you’ve got to know that’s not true for you or anyone else. So you have to remember if you do achieve success, that luck played a significant role. And given your good fortune, you should do what you can to increase the luck of others.

[Snipped section where ‘Veritasium’ talks about his ‘Snatoms‘ product, and offers a deal that has long since expired.]

And I really want to thank you for watching; and thank you for all my good luck.

Veritasium: The Success Paradox; Is Success Luck or Hard Work?

The transcript above was made with the help of Sonix, which did most of the donkey work for a tiny fee (I did have to spend some time tidying it up). Note that I do not have the copyright owner’s permission to publish this transcript here. I’ve investigated the copyright rules regarding transcriptions (more about that here), and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s no defence to make a disclaimer like “these aren’t my words, no copyright infringement intended.” However, I offer the transcription here as a service to society (especially the deaf community). I do hope the copyright owner won’t object. And I hope that you find this video as interesting as I did.

Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, Communication, Core thought, Education, perception, Phlyarology, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot

Carl Sagan’s marvellous, awe-inspiring ‘Pale Blue Dot’ speech puts Life, the Universe, and Everything* into perspective.

Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot

Carl Sagan: That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of: every human being who ever was lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering; thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines. Every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there: on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings; how eager they are to kill one another; how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit? Yes. Settle? Not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the Pale Blue Dot: the only home we’ve ever known.

Carl Sagan (19341996)

The transcript above was made with the help of Sonix, which did most of the donkey work for a tiny fee (I did have to spend some time tidying it up). Note that I do not have the copyright owner’s permission to publish this transcript here. I’ve investigated the copyright rules regarding transcriptions (more about that here), and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s no defence to make a disclaimer like “these aren’t my words, no copyright infringement intended.” However, I offer the transcription here as a service to society (especially the deaf community). I do hope the copyright owner won’t object. And I hope that you find this video as interesting as I did.

Be humble, for you are made of dung. Be noble, for you are made of stars.

Serbian proverb

* Carl would have been 86 now. Which is 42 (in base 21).

Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, Core thought, People, Tributes | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

I am not pendantry (I am me)

My friend Goldie, in a short conversation recently via the comment thread on a 2017 post of his* asked me whether my moniker should have an initial capital.

That simple question got me thinking.

A bit of background

I adopted ‘pendantry’ as an Internet alias, a ‘handle’, decades ago on Usenet. It derives from a word I coined at around the same time:

pendant (n). One who, by correcting others, gives himself (or herself) just enough rope by which to hang.

Me (AKA nobody important), circa 1993

Of course, that same character string has also long been used to describe ‘a loose-hanging piece of jewellery‘: and that, I am not. I needed to find a handle that was unique – and without resorting to the practice, especially common at that time, of simply appending random digits.

I am not a number, I am a free man!

Patrick McGoohan (19282009) as ‘The Prisoner’
The Prisoner – Simpsons Parody

Adding ‘ry’ to ‘pendant’ did the trick, creating a new word intended to mean ‘engaging in the activity of being a pendant’. While still a noun, it’s still not a proper one. And as it’s a thoroughly unimportant one, it’s utterly undeserving of an initial capital – as indeed, in the Grand Scheme of Things, am I. Some might argue that it is a proper noun (which would mandate the use of a capital ‘P’) as it is a word used as a name; but it’s just one of many aliases I use on the Internet. Although it does feature with a capital ‘P’ in my 2012 post ‘Pendantry (an explication)‘, that’s purely due to the coincidence of the word’s position at the beginning of that post’s title. It’s a nickname, a label that no more demands an initial capital than does my email logon alias at my place of work; and it is no more ‘me’ than is my given name, though convention demands that I use capital letters for that.

The joke’s on me

Initially, I was quite pleased with myself for crafting the handle. It served two purposes: it afforded me a ‘get out of jail free’ card on those occasions when, while correcting others, I would get it wrong (though I do try hard not to make that error, I’m only human).

It was also intended as a trap (one that I, at the time, considered to be a humorous one): it allowed me to pounce on those who might accuse me of having a typo in my nickname – and turn the tables on them. That has indeed happened a few times over the years (especially in the early days), and although I expect that some may have seen the funny side of it, I now think that it’s very likely that many did not.

Call me stupid, but it’s only fairly recently that it’s dawned on me that my attempt to be funny has backfired. On many occasions, I’ve been addressed, or referred to, as ‘pedantry’ (with a single ‘n’). An honest mistake, and it’s one that, lately, I’ve been more and more hesitant to point out, as doing so can cause embarrasment. But, considering that it’s part of this blog’s address, it’s kind of important (well, to me at least). There is in fact a site called ‘pedantry.wordpress.com’ (with one ‘n’). It was set up in 2006, and consists of just a single blog entry by ‘tallguy’ (though it’s true that I am a guy who is tall, that alias is not one of mine). I’ve just visited that site – to see that Fandango left a comment earlier this year, one that indicates that he has made that very mistake. I wonder how many others might have done the same over the years?

I’ve long known that many people don’t recognise that the letter ‘n’ appears not once, but twice, in ‘pendantry’; but it’s only after considering Goldie’s polite enquiry whether or not he should ‘capitalize my nick’ that it struck me that there was a possible solution to this conundrum: one that could kill two birds with one stone.

Time brings opportunities for learning, and change

People don’t like being told they’re wrong; especially so when they consider the mistake they’ve made to be a trivial one. I had cause to reflect upon this earlier this year, when one new blogging acquaintance rebelled against my attempt to (as I saw it) help them to improve, and made it quite clear that my comments weren’t at all welcome. I wrote a post on the subject at the time: ‘Everything has its place‘.

The fashion for correct grammar (which I consider to be useful, on the grounds that it enhances communication) has fallen out of fashion. As with reliance on ‘sat-navs’ making the art of being able to read a map redundant, reliance on autocorrect (which my brother, quite appropriately in my view, insists should be called ‘autopervert’) has made people more familiar with typographical mistakes, and more lazy in their own writing. The Anti-Grammar-Nazi Brigade appears to be going from strength to strength, and sometimes it’s necessary to accept the inevitable.

The upshot is: it makes complete sense to draw attention to that first ‘n’… and Goldie gave me the clue I needed that has enabled me to do just that. No, my nick does not need an initial capital, I realized: it needs an internal one!

A quick trip to WordPress.com/me allowed me to change my name, to peNdantry.

You could say that I’ve grown up. (Well, in some ways, at least.)

Thanks once again, Goldie; you did indeed give me food for thought. (As well as the opportunity to craft what I hope some will consider an interesting post.)


* … which I stumbled upon while doing my duty as a member of the ?Random Raiders!, proving once again that what goes around, comes around.

Posted in ... wait, what?, balance, Communication, Just for laughs, perception, Phlyarology | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments