The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Notes on a conversation about skipping school

“I don't wanna go to school, Dad,” said Spring, who was getting ready for work this morning (unlike myself, who was already at work attending to an emergency).

“Okay, you don't have to go to school. You can stay home and play hockey. But no football!”

“But, why can't I play football? Isn't that what you do when you stay home from school?”

“No. You stay home from school, you always play hockey.”

“Oh Sean, that was bad!


Global Warming is so last week, now it's “Global Climatic Change”

The Canadian Space Agency's radio telescope has been reporting Flux Density Values so low they will mean a mini ice age if they continue.

This is because when the magnetic activity is low, the Sun is dimmer, and puts out less radiant warmth. If the Sun goes into dim mode, as it has in the past, the Earth gets much colder.

If the Sun's magnetic activity does not increase, and it goes dim for an extended period, it will get quite chilly. In the meantime the Canada Space Agency, the Royal Observatory Greenwich and the US Air Force Solar Optical Observing Network are all keeping an eye on the Sun.

Via spin the cat, Sun's low magnetic activity may portend an ice age

And

Every day, scientists hoping to see an increase in solar activity train their instruments at the sun as it crosses the sky. This is no idle academic pursuit: A lull in solar action could potentially drive the planet's temperature down, or even prompt a mini Ice Age.

The last such solar funk corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715. While there were competing causes for the climatic shift—including the Black Death's depopulation of tree-cutting Europeans and, more substantially, increased volcanic activity spewing ash into the atmosphere—the sun's lethargy likely had something to do with it.

Via spin the cat, Sun Stays Sluggish as Weathermen Fight for Anti-Ice Age Funding

has me wondering if Jerry Pournelle called it correctly years ago. There's still a lot we don't know about the weather, especially what it'll be doing next week, much less next decade.


Oil, schmoil …

There was a time one could buy fuel for ones car or truck for a “Buck-A-Gallon” … and it is a past we can embrace right now … TODAY!

Well, at least General Motors seems to think so with its investment in Biofuel processing startup Coskata.

The key to the conversion approach Coskata has perfected uses bacteria to break down the broad array of organic waste (switch grasses, twigs, corn husks, leaves, landscape waste, and other non-food sources of organic material) and make Ethanol for a fuel mix or replacement.

Via Instapundit, Bacteria Delivers “Buck-A-Gallon” Biofuel Solution

Quick comment before continuing—Mark Twain said that “[h]istory doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” and this is a good example. Back in the late 1800s a by-product of oil processing was burned off since there wasn't a use for it, until some clever engineers found a use for it—gasoline to power internal combustion engines in cars.

Scientists there say they have developed a way to produce truly carbon-neutral fuel and useful organic chemicals at large scale using water and carbon dioxide removed from the air as raw materials. There are plenty of schemes brewing to capture carbon dioxide, both directly from the atmosphere and from the stacks of power plants. All of them, for the moment, are costly or hard to envision at the billion-tons-a-year scale that would be needed to blunt the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere coming mainly from fuel burning.

UPDATE: 2/13, 5 p.m.: This plan has a minor hurdle, too; the electricity for driving the chemical processes, according to a white paper describing the overarching concept, would come from nuclear power. The proposal says it'd be worth it to have a payoff of steady, secure streams of methanol and gasoline with no carbon added to the atmosphere (and a price for gasoline at the pump of perhaps $4.60 a gallon—comparable to petroleum-based fuels as oil becomes harder to find).

Via Instapundit, Federal Lab Says It Can Harvest Fuel From Air (With a Catch)

It's because of articles like these that I'm not overly concerned about peak oil. We're a resourceful species, and we'll find alternatives long before oil runs out.


[[censored]]

XXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXX!

What the XXXX?!

I'm on I-95 South when some XXXXXXX XXXXXXX on a XXXXXXXXXX crotch-rocket blows past at 130mph. What's worse is that this XXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX is lane splitting.

XXXXXX.

Then, coming up to Yamato Road, when I-95 loses a lane or two and the traffic gets all snug and tight, another XXXXXXX XXXXXXX, this time in a XXXXXXX semitruck, comes right up my XXXXXXX XXX flashing his brights at me as if to say, “XXXX you, XXXXXXX! Move, or I'll XXXXXXX ram you up your XXX so hard you'll XXXXXXX XXXX diesel fumes,” and I'm like, “What the XXXX? Where the XXXX do you expect me to go? And stop it with the XXXXXXX lights, you XXXXXXXXXX!” So just before he rams me into next week, I cut a hard right, just inches behind a car. Somehow I manage to stay in the lane and not shoot off I-95 and into a drainage ditch.

And if that wasn't XXXXXXX enough, on the off-ramp at Yamato, some self-righteous XXXX in a car that costs more than Casa New Jersey who obviously owns the XXXXXXX world felt it was beneath her XXXXXXX dignity to signal a lane change and nearly sideswiped me. Yeah, XXXX you too!

XXXXX XXXXXX!

Kill kill kill kill kill …

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