Topic Tuesday #153 2015/06/23 "A Climate for Writing"

Topic Tuesday #153 2015/06/23 "A Climate for Writing"

Ladies and Gentlemen of my readership, we have had quite the week since I have conversed with you on topical matters. The news has been rather heavy, week over week and it has taken its eventual toll on me, thus I am unable to fully articulate the gravity of the activity on the world stage. I am not silent on it, as you can tell by my other posts and the continued activities of the ORly Radio Podcast. The news has hurt me and has moved me to alternative action. In as much as we have seen through time - adversity, even if it seems tangential to this writer, fosters creativity. This last week it was not the news of the Charleston murders that hit me the hardest. Though they are certainly shocking and deplorable, I have been desensitized to the bigotry and violence to those of color by those with a far paler character. No, what has moved me to some sort of action and kept me awake is the future.

I would consider myself a rational person and a man of facts and perspective. I have grown to trust the scientists that work in their chosen fields and have come to know many of them. They value the same things I do. Facts and the truths that they describe. The recent news that the figures were wrong and corrected on the so called pause in global warming was a hammer blow. I didn’t expect it to be so, as I had a feeling that this sign of climate change was not up for taking a vacation, but still, I had hoped that nature had a trick or two that would explain it and it would not be a miscalculation. Sadly, the results indicate that we were incorrect with initial findings and that the world may have warmed much more than was anticipated in other models and it was not getting any better.

Credit: NASA.

Credit: NASA.

The data that they used to make these statements came from a big data project, NASA Earth Exchange (NEX). It’s data is available to the public.

“The NASA climate projections provide a detailed view of future temperature and precipitation patterns around the world at a 15.5 mile (25 kilometer) resolution, covering the time period from 1950 to 2100. The 11-terabyte dataset provides daily estimates of maximum and minimum temperatures and precipitation over the entire globe.”

I have concerns. I am a future minded person and they are painting a rather hot picture of the future, a future that if I am not a part of, surely my offspring will be. So I have to prepare them for the reality of climate change, rising oceans, hotter summers, colder winters, floods and droughts, and the people that deny it could happen. This is the tall order that keeps me up at night, and I figure if I am going to be kept up, I might as well be creative and productive with it.
This is the inspiration for a story I am going to write. It may be horrible and completely un-entertaining and worthless to some, but I will learn a lot along the way about how to write and communicate a narrative of discovery and adventure - one of surviving a changing world.
National Novel Writing Month is approaching you know.

Time to get to it. Let me know what you think.

Topic Tuesday #97 2014/05/27 "Solar Roads?"

Topic Tuesday #97 2014/05/27 "Solar Roads?"

It sounds like something from a sci-fi. "Solar Roads" where you ride the light or something fantastic. The reality is more down to earth, and more nuanced than the headlines hyperbole suggests. 

It comes as no surprise with all that asphalt out there, baking in the sun and hazing the air, that someone would think that if they could harness that energy in a meaningful way that they could really make a difference. It is a lot of surface area, and would have a lot of issues making a change. Let's get real for a second, it's unlikely, even in the best case scenario, that a solar panel roadway is going to be around any time soon. As a friend of mine put it, "pie in the sky"...

I suggested that if it was only a solar panel you could drive on, it would not be as compelling as the actual proposition. It would end up as only a headline garnering bullet point. Like this:

  • Solar energy collection
  • LED lighting for lines and text for driver information. Imagine a road that can alert you of issues up ahead or route you on a different course, or tell your car it is out of its lane.
  • Active feedback to authorities of traffic speed and road conditions.
  • Segmented structure will allow easy "patching" by replacing the damaged sections.
  • Heating elements to melt snow and ice buildup.
  • Communications cables like phone, TV, and internet. 
  • Municipal potable water.
  • Natural Gas.
  • Sanitary sewers.
  • Stormwater runoff.
  • And future technology, that will all be easily deployed under our roadways, sidewalks, and parking lots.

In closing, yes... It's expensive, but as with many things, it would be a long term investment that has the potential to save time and resources far into the future. It would be best to use this in highly planned developments first, to thoroughly prove its usefulness while understanding that as demand increases, so will availability as cost decreases. This will not solve the energy issues until it is widely adopted and retrofit into communities and freeways, so more conventional approaches are more possible at this time. Especially if you just want the promise of limitless energy from the solar roads of tomorrow land.                       

Topic Tuesday #93 2014/04/29 "Gun Safety - Hell No!?"

Topic Tuesday #93 2014/04/29 "Gun Safety - Hell No!?"

The iP1 the first "smart gun" for sale in the United States.   Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The iP1 the first "smart gun" for sale in the United States.CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times

Last night a story came across my news feed that made me sit up and take notice. It was a beautiful fire arm that I swore was a movie prop. (See Picture)

The iP1 is quite a stunning looking pistol. It's a .22 caliber and will only fire when a 5 digit pin is input into the watch and is within 10 inches of it. As a technologist, I personally foresee the technology could be embedded in any personal item, as the watch is not as attractive as the gun, that could be a good thing for the $1,800 firearm... That is if the gun, and its technology, are ever able to make it to market. Second Amendment activists flooded social media site like, and called for vigilante-style investigations of Ms. Padilla and Armatix.  One user commented that he had no issues with "...the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans."

The gun lobby in the U.S. is far less concerned (and I'm not being hyperbolic) with the safety of the public than they are with the ability to manufacture and sell guns without any additional safety mechanisms, or smart technology. The company, Armatix, and its chief representative here in the states, Belinda Padila have been ostracized and harassed as part of a campaign to shut down the sale of the iP1 smart gun. They are not alone either, as just last year a study found that 3 other companies came out with a smart safety system for firearms. We haven't heard much about them either...

From the times article:

"Second Amendment defenders argue that once guns with high-tech safety features go on sale, government mandates will follow. They cite a decade-old New Jersey law requiring that within three years of the recognition technology’s becoming available in the United States, all guns sold in the state would have to be “smart.”

“Are we concerned?” asked Lawrence G. Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for gun manufacturers. “Yes.”

The National Rifle Association, in an article published on the blog of its political arm, wrote that “smart guns,” a term it mocks as a misnomer, have the potential “to mesh with the anti-gunner’s agenda, opening the door to a ban on all guns that do not possess the government-required technology.”

Padila and Armatrix continue to look for retailers. Personally, If I was to have a gun in my house, you better believe it would be an owner recognition system. 

A friend pointed out that there may be a better marketing strategy that they missed out on. That if the caliber was the same as is used in the military and law enforcement side arms that they would have a larger target market and potential for more lateral support.  I hope Armatix is listening and coming out with a Desert Eagle equivalent. And if it looks as slick as this model, you might even see it in your next buddy cop film, unless the gun nuts get their way. Eventually, common sense should win out. There have been too many casualties and this allows people to retain their rights to bare arms and adds a layer of protection. Imagine no more accidental deaths from children shooting their siblings in the face. I would like to never see another story like that again.