“An orange river of sunlight”: migration of the Monarchs

Was driving through the warm little town of Ojai California when a monarch butterfly flew helplessly in front of my windshield and then shot up past the little car and out into the open air with a single flap of his wings. Fly on! Delightful sight. Made me wish for an instant to get outContinue reading ““An orange river of sunlight”: migration of the Monarchs”

Soon to be a major motion picture: Shodan

The story is astonishing/alarming, but the background mythology is downright scary:  The idea for Shodan came to John Matherly in 2003, when he was a teenager attending community college in California. Obsessed with the digital world, he named his project after a malevolent character in a video game called System Shock II. The character, Sentient Hyper-Optimized DataContinue reading “Soon to be a major motion picture: Shodan”

NASA drops another climate satellite in the ocean

Two years ago I observed the launch of a NASA satellite, called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, intended to help scientists understand the wide variation in uptake of carbon from the atmosphere by the earth. I wrote about it for the Santa Barbara Independent. At an impromptu press conference held after the OCO crashed into the SouthernContinue reading “NASA drops another climate satellite in the ocean”

The best line on “The Social Network”

From a review on The Millions by Sonja Chung:  I came away from the film wanting to send Mr. Zuckerberg a Facebook message saying, “Don’t worry, kid.  Just relax and try to enjoy your life” but never wanting to meet the guy – in other words, wanting to be “friends,” but not friends. But ChungContinue reading “The best line on “The Social Network””

The unheard-of and suddenly indispensable Smartpen

Take it from veteran journalist and computer writer James Fallows, of the Atlantic: For my own workaday purposes, the most useful recent invention has been the Livescribe Pulse pen, which I bought just after its introduction early last year and now can hardly be without. It looks like a somewhat bulky, cigar-shaped metallic writing instrument.Continue reading “The unheard-of and suddenly indispensable Smartpen”

Why DeSalination Is Not the Answer

A water manager for United Water Conservation District named Steve Bachman explains succinctly why desalination is not the answer, in a story I wrote in today's Ventura County Star (here): “People ask all the time about desalination,” he said. “And yes, we can do that, if you’re willing to pay two times or more whatContinue reading “Why DeSalination Is Not the Answer”

Geek Love: Past and Present in Rechargeable Batteries

I can keep it short because Jeff Atwood gives you a decade’s worth of experience with rechargeable batteries in a post of a mere thousand words or so, called Adventuries in Rechargeable Batteries. Bottom line: fast-charge battery chargers can ruin rechargeable batteries. Atwood tells you to spend a little more — forty bucks on aContinue reading “Geek Love: Past and Present in Rechargeable Batteries”

Ex Exxonian Still Doubts Climate Change

Lee Raymond ran ExxonMobil back in the days not so long ago when it was raking $25 billion a year and, purely by coincidence, adamantly denying the reality of climate change. Now Raymond has taken his $400 million retirement and moved on. Interesting, even Raymond doesn’t believe in "clean coal." Discussing a new study byContinue reading “Ex Exxonian Still Doubts Climate Change”