Major Report Prompts Warnings That the Arctic Is Unraveling

arctic, climate change, global weirding


I read the article published in Scientific American, and most of the report described in the article. The report is entitled,  “Snow, Water, Ice, and Permafrost in the Arctic.”It is an assessment compiled every few years by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, the scientific body that reports to the governments that make up the Arctic Council, a forum for issues affecting the region. The last assessment came out in 2011. Here’s the link to the report if you want to read it.

My concern is obvious: the echo chamber. Those of us who are worried about climate change, including scientists and some politicians, will be concerned. Those who can take policy actions to address the causes of this problem, particularly in the US,  will continue ignoring, avoiding or denying the problem. And Nero will keep on fiddling and the emperor has no clothes. Right?



The Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet, suggests a huge assessment of the region. The warming is hastening the melting of Arctic ice and boosting sea-level rise.

The report, compiled by more than 90 scientists, documents the myriad changes already under way across the Arctic because of climate change—from declining sea ice and melting glaciers to shifting ecosystems and weather patterns. From 2011 to 2015, the assessment finds, the Arctic was warmer than at any time since records began around 1900 (see ’Arctic warming’).

Sea ice continues to decline, and the extent of snow cover across the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia each June has halved as compared to observations before 2000.

“The take-home message is that the Arctic is unravelling,” says Rafe Pomerance, who chairs a network of conservation groups called Arctic 21 and was a deputy assistant secretary of state for environment and development under US President Bill Clinton. “The fate of the Arctic has to be moved out of the world of scientific observation and into the world of government policy.”

The report increases projections for global sea-level rise, which takes into account all sources of melting including the Arctic. Their new minimum estimates are now almost double those issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013 for some emissions scenarios. In fact, the latest calculations suggest that the IPCC’s middle estimates for sea-level rise should now be considered minimum estimates.

In one scenario, which assumes that carbon emissions rise slightly above the goals set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement—but still see a considerable reduction—sea levels would increase by at least 0.52 metres by 2100, compared with 2006, the Arctic report says. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the minimum increase would be 0.74 metres.

Major Report Prompts Warnings That the Arctic Is Unraveling

The dominant culture tolerates parasitic counter-cultures as more or less innocuous deviations, but it cannot accept critical…

Umberto Eco, culture, counter culture, critique, dominant paradigm, deviation

“The dominant culture tolerates parasitic counter-cultures as more or less innocuous deviations, but it cannot accept critical manifestations which call it [the dominant culture] into question. Counter-culture comes about when those who transform the culture in which they live become critically conscious of what they are doing and elaborate a theory of their deviation from the dominant model, offering a model that is capable of sustaining itself.”

Umberto Eco

You are attached to what you attack.


this is a deeper phenonemon called the “tar-baby” principle and is basically: You are attached to what you attack. In academic parlance, the idea is that the currently reigning powers define the space and the terms of engagement. Both the definition of “culture” and “counter-culture” are part of a “hegemonic discourse” (Antonio Gramsci).



Solarpunk, speculative fiction, clifi, technology, culture, environment, climate change, transformation, solar

Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?” The aesthetics of solarpunk merge the practical with the beautiful, the well-designed with the green and wild, the bright and colorful with the earthy and solid. Solarpunk can be utopian, just optimistic, or concerned with the struggles en route to a better world — but never dystopian. As our world roils with calamity, we need solutions, not warnings. Solutions to live comfortably without fossil fuels, to equitably manage scarcity and share abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share. At once a vision of the future, a thoughtful provocation, and an achievable lifestyle. In progress…


Peace: Neither Ink nor Blood

Medium, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, History, Peace, War, intervention

History is largely peace punctuated by wars, rather than wars punctuated by peace. When you read historical accounts, you are under the illusion that history is mostly wars, that states like to fight as a default condition, whenever they have the chance, and that the only coordination between entities takes place when two countries have a “strategic” alliance against a common danger.[…] We will be fed by tomes of histories of wars. […] Reading a history book offers a similar bias to reading an account of life in New York seen from an emergency room employee at Bellevue Hospital.


Programmable blockchains in context: Ethereum’s future

Medium, ethereum, Vinay Gupta, computing, history, blockchain

But, in truth, it’s not that difficult to understand Ethereum, blockchains, Bitcoin and all the rest — at least the implications for people just going about their daily business, living their lives. Even a programmer who wants a clear picture can get a good enough model of how it all fits together fairly easily. Blockchain explainers usually focus on some very clever low-level details like mining, but that stuff really doesn’t help people (other than implementers) understand what is going on. Rather, let’s look at how the blockchains fit into the more general story about how computers impact society.


The Love and Terror of Nick Cave

Nick-Cave, music, meaning, god, butterflies

“Some say why waste your time believing in God when there is so much natural beauty and awesomeness around us. Some say that there is more beauty and wonder looking at a butterfly and I agree, butterflies are beautiful things, but if you get a human being to look closely at a butterfly, to look very closely and get some more human beings to look at that butterfly so that there is a collective of people all peering intently at the butterfly they will ultimately fall to their knees and worship that butterfly. It’s the way humans are put together. I don’t think that makes them stupid. I think it’s kind of sweet. Until someone says well my butterfly is the true butterfly and yours is not and flies a plane into the twin towers.”


Building a Decentralized Value Exchange into a Decentralized VPN

Medium, Mysterium, VPN, decentralization, ETH, cryptocurrency, anarchocapitalism, ancap, network infrastructure

In a world which is rapidly being decentralized — there also needs to be a decentralized way to ensure adequate payment for those who provide us with the infrastructure. We have found a way to get there and now we will present an evolutionary path towards it. For the last month we have been examining existing technology and its potential, to perform POC (Proof Of Concept) experiments — with the goal of understanding how to build a decentralized VPN service and how to provide monetization to people running this network — VPN node operators.


Over the course of his or her life, a typical member of a modern affluent society will own several million artefacts – from cars…

“Over the course of his or her life, a typical member of a modern affluent society will own several million artefacts – from cars and houses to disposable nappies and milk cartons. There’s hardly an activity, a belief, or even an emotion that is not mediated by objects of our own devising.”

Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. 2015. (viacarvalhais)

Skellig Michael is an island located roughly seven miles west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. Between the 6th…


Skellig Michael is an island located roughly seven miles west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. Between the 6th and 8th century a Celtic Christian monastery was established here and was occupied until the 12th century. You may also recognize it as the secret island from the seventh Star Wars movie where Luke Skywalker hides out.
51.771130, -10.539963
Source imagery: DigitalGlobe

An early set of notes proposed a “service equipped to advise on all problems of design”, addressing the needs of “the State,…

“An early set of notes proposed a “service equipped to advise on all problems of design”, addressing the needs of “the State, Municipal Authorities, Industry or Commerce.” They anticipated a post-war demand for technical expertise and a need for “the reconditioning and re-designing public utility services” recommending “contact… with the railway companies, motor coach lines and so on.“”

Design Research Unit - Wikipedia (viaiamdanw)

A huge payoff from the longevity of the LRO mission is the repeat coverage obtained by the LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC). The…

moon, LRO, NASA

video link

A huge payoff from the longevity of the LRO mission is the repeat coverage obtained by the LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC). The WAC has a very wide field-of-view (FOV), 90° in monochrome mode and 60° in multispectral mode, hence its name. On the one hand, the wide FOV enables orbit-to-orbit stereo, which allowed LROC team members at the DLR to create the unprecedented 100 meter scale near-global (0° to 360° longitude and 80°S to 80°N latitude) topographic map of the Moon (the GLD100)!

Mika Vainio’s quiet influence on electronic music was deafening

Mika-Vainio, panasonic, sound, music, noise, 2017, eulogy

Vainio’s influence on ambient and industrial electronic music was somewhat unspoken in his lifetime. He was not a figurehead of a scene, but pretty much all booming palettes of mechanical sound being made today nod in some way to Vainio and his work with Pan Sonic […] Vainio’s beats weren’t beats at all, they were the sound and feeling of a black hole opening up in the centre of your chest.[…] like “flares, vapour trails, LEDs, neon tubes close to death, heart murmurs, apertures opening and closing in cement walls, tiny mechanised guillotines snipping the heads from tin soldiers, sheets of led unfurling in underground car parks”.


Estonia: The Little Spycatcher Who Could

espionage, politics, Estonia, KAPO, SVR, NATO

Estonia is Europe’s leading catcher of Vladimir Putin’s spies as well as Europe’s leading unmasker of his manifold agents of influence. It is uncharacteristically unafraid to advertise its own national security threats by naming and shaming its yearly haul of enemy operatives, at least in comparison to other Western NATO democracies, which tend to hush up such bilateral embarrassments, preferring the discreet expulsion of spooks or “PNGing” of diplomats who glad-hand by day and engage in dead-letter drops by night.


The workshops also highlighted a major blind spot in thinking about AI. Auto­nomous systems are already deployed in our most…

The workshops also highlighted a major blind spot in thinking about AI. Auto­nomous systems are already deployed in our most crucial social institutions, from hospitals to courtrooms. Yet there are no agreed methods to assess the sustained effects of such applications on human populations.

Recent years have brought extraordinary advances in the technical domains of AI. Alongside such efforts, designers and researchers from a range of disciplines need to conduct what we call social-systems analyses of AI. They need to assess the impact of technologies on their social, cultural and political settings.

A social-systems approach could investigate, for instance, how the app AiCure — which tracks patients’ adherence to taking prescribed medication and transmits records to physicians — is changing the doctor–patient relationship. Such an approach could also explore whether the use of historical data to predict where crimes will happen is driving overpolicing of marginalized communities. Or it could investigate why high-rolling investors are given the right to understand the financial decisions made on their behalf by humans and algorithms, whereas low-income loan seekers are often left to wonder why their requests have been rejected.

“People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.” This is how computer scientist Pedro Domingos sums up the issue in his 2015 book The Master Algorithm1. Even the many researchers who reject the prospect of a ‘technological singularity’ — saying the field is too young — support the introduction of relatively untested AI systems into social institutions.

There is a blind spot in AI research : Nature News& Comment (vianewdarkage)

Seeing that I cannot choose any subject of great utility or pleasure, because my predecessors have already taken as their own…

“Seeing that I cannot choose any subject of great utility or pleasure, because my predecessors have already taken as their own all useful and necessary themes, I will do like one who, because of his poverty, is the last to arrive at the fair, and not being able otherwise to provide for himself, chooses all the things which others have already looked over and not taken, but refused as being of little value. With these despised and rejected wares — the leavings of many buyers — I will load my modest pack, and therewith take my course, distributing, not indeed amid the great cities, but among the mean hamlets, and taking such reward as befits the things I offer.”

Da Vinci, Codice Atlantico 119 v. a, in The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, Edward MacCurdy (trans.), Vol 1, Oxford: Jonathan Cape, 1945, p. 61 (viadearyesno)

Beaches today are where we turn our backs not just on the world at large but also on our inland selves. They are a sanctuary,…

Beaches, sea, the ocean, time, futures, inland selves, NYT

“Beaches today are where we turn our backs not just on the world at large but also on our inland selves. They are a sanctuary, groomed to remove all distractions, sometimes including the other creatures that once made them their home. Beaches are thought of as a place where time stands still, devoid of a troubling past but also of an ever pressing future.”

John R. Gillis, Life and Death of the Beach, New York Times (June 30, 2012)

Understanding United 3411

Medium, united airlines, USA, authoritarianism, law, United 3411, civil law, criminal law, aviation law, air travel, post 911

Once you’re boarded, united may not take your seat for overbooking reasons. You are not obligated to follow any unreasonable or illegal crewmember instruction. The police should not enforce civil contracts without a court order, and they took United’s side when clearly they were in the wrong. Aviation is a special case in many ways, but we don’t abdicate our rights or reason when we decide to fly. Everyone at united — from the CEO on down — has demonstrated a marked lack of thought, compassion and contrition. They deserve the maximum punishment that is possible.


Chernobyl could soon find a second life as a giant solar farm


The Ukrainian government has announced a plan to turn the area surrounding Chernobyl - the site of one of the worst nuclear meltdowns in history - into a solar energy farm, by constructing a series of solar panels inside the exclusion zone.

Not only would this plan - which is currently seeking investment - allow the country to use a giant chunk of radioactive land that’s unfit for human settlement, it would also provide a cheaper source of reusable energy that might decrease the country’s reliance on Russia.

“The Chernobyl site has really good potential for renewable energy,” Ukraine’s environment minister Ostap Semerak said in an interview in London. “We already have high-voltage transmission lines that were previously used for the nuclear stations, the land is very cheap and we have many people trained to work at power plants.”

Continue Reading.

Chernobyl could soon find a second life as a giant solar farm

This is a pretty good summary of what’s happening with DRM at the W3C


 From my Github post:

I confess to being mystified by the argument – promulgated by DRM advocates – that standardization at W3C doesn’t matter to the viability of DRM on the web. 

On the one hand, we have lots of urgent talk about the user harms arising from the difficulty of implementing DRM in the HTML5 world where NDAPI and its like have been abolished, leaving browser vendors and publishers to strike expensive, difficult-to-sustain deals as a series of one-offs to synchronize proprietary components at both ends that would create technical problems for users that cause them to reject the publishers’ products. 

On the other hand, we have the argument that DRM on the web is inevitable and actually a fait accompli, entirely separate from the outcome of the W3C process, such that the decision not to publish EME as a W3C standard would make no “difference” (“difference” being the thing that we must seemingly enumerate in order to advance this debate). 

But if DRM will happen regardless of W3C standardization, with no “difference,” then there will be no “difference” if the W3C doesn’t publish it, or requires members to agree to a nonaggression covenant as a condition of ng so. 

DRM’s “difference” and inevitability is thus posed as simultaneously maximum and minimum, totally irrelevant and utterly salient. I believe the technical term for this in SDOs is “having one’s cake and eating it too.“ 

Thrown into this mix is the asserted inevitability of the web itself being sidelined in favor of apps and walled gardens if DRM doesn’t become part of HTML5, but this is usually uttered in the same breath as a blank assertion that DRM is coming to HTML5 no matter what the W3C does. Only one of these things can be true. 

A note on accessibility: DRM laws make any accessibility features built into the spec the ceiling, not the floor, on accessibility. Notably, the current spec excludes any kind of third-party automated bulk or realtime processing, such as feeding cleartexts into a machine-learning system to spot and interdict seizure-causing strobes; to shift color-gamuts for color-blind people, or to add subtitles/descriptive tracks. 

The oft-repeated assertion that humans could manually add these features to EME-locked videos is obviously deficient. UC Berkeley just killed 20,000 hours of instructional videos because they couldn’t adequately subtitle them – the fact that an army of humans who produced a set of subtitles could then add them to the video is nice, but in the absence of such an army, and in the presence of ever-better machine subtitling tools, it’s utterly, blatantly obvious that EME will stand in the way of the future of legitimate, powerful accessibility adaptation. 

Is there anyone who believes that in the future the majority of accessibility adaptation for any media will be done by humans, working by hand? Here’s what I think: 

DRM-protecting laws mean that making DRM easier to implement on the web makes the web intrinsically less open, less safe, and less accessible 

  • Standardization matters and makes technology more viable 
  • EME is unfinished and will require future versions (this was the argument for pursuing a W3C policy interest group that couldn’t affect EME – it would affect the inevitable future versions), so the W3C walking away from EME would have material effect on its viability 
  • This means that DRM standardization advocates need the W3C process to continue, and must work with people who want to safeguard open web equities in the Consortium if they are to make progress 
  • The EME process – and the W3C’s credibility – are now at a crossroads because DRM advocates literally refused any further discussion of this, 13 months ago, at an AC meeting in Cambridge 
  • As a result, we are now in a situation where a large plurality of W3C members do not want to see EME published until a covenant is arrived at, but having done nothing on that front for more than a year, we have a lopsided world where the technology is asserted to be ready for launch and the policy component is still on the drawing board

Whether a refusal to discuss this issue was a deliberate calculation or a tragic misjudgment, it was a terrible mistake. Because of a leadership decision to steamroller the opposition rather than compromise with it (or even continue talks with it), the W3C has, for the very first time in its history, arrived at the moment of publication with no consensus in sight, and no path to consensus in sight either.  

Publication at this point would mark not one, but THREE sea-changes in the W3C’s nature: 

  1. The W3C is now the kind of body that makes standards to allow browser vendors to restrict how users can use the data they receive 
  2. The W3C is now the kind of body that allows members’ IPRs to control who may interoperate with its standards 
  3. The W3C is now the kind of body where deeply divisive issues are settled by allowing one group to simply declare the other group to be out-of-bounds, out-of-touch, out-of-scope or out-of-order and to thus publish things that large numbers of its members have deep moral, technical and legal objections to, rather than deliberating and compromising to resolve these divisions.

DRM opponents at the W3C extended a significant compromise to DRM advocates: a covenant that would allow DRM users to enforce copyright, torts and trade secrecy (and every other right they have in law), while making DRM. 

The members who want DRM insisted they would only proceed if DRM could also be a tool for asserting rights that no legislature ever granted them. That is what brought us to this juncture: an unwillingness on one side to make any compromise whatsoever. 

That is not in the spirit of multistakeholder processes or the history of the W3C. Any future progress on EME at the W3C will require compromise on both sides, not blithe assertions that no "difference” is to be found in going down one path or the other. 


How can you search for time travellers?

time-travel, party, paradox, Time

In 2009, the British physicist Stephen Hawking performed a variation of this experiment, holding a party for time travellers, but sending out the invitations after the event had taken place, so that only visitors from the future could possibly attend. But nobody came. Dr Hawking said this constituted “experimental evidence that time travel is not possible”.


How Yugoslavia was Syrianized 25 years ago

Yugoslavia, NAM, NATO, USA, USSR, EU, proxy-wars, Syria, Atlantic-Brigade, KLA, crisis-capitalism

united nation of Yugoslavia was not easy prey for imperialist intentions like we see taking place today. It is a fact, that after World War II, socialist Yugoslavia became something of a European success story. Between 1960 and 1980 the country had one of the most vigorous growth rates in the world: a decent standard of living, free medical care and education, a guaranteed right to a job, one-month vacation with pay, a literacy rate of over 90 percent, and a life expectancy of 72 years. To my knowledge, not one of the Balkans states that were created can claim half this prosperity.


New materials allow 2.8l/day of solar-powered desert water-vapor extraction



UC Berkeley’s Omar Yaghi invented MOFs (“porous crystals that form continuous 3D networks”) in the 1990s, and more than 20,000 MOFs have been synthesized since; each one binds to a different type of gas.

The zirconium-based MOF-801, introduced in the paper, binds to water vapor even in extreme low-humidity environments. Run continuously, it “pulls” 2.8l of water out of desert air per 24-hour cycle.

At $150/kg, zirconium is too expensive to use for a mass-produced product intended to be distributed to people living in arid environments, but Yaghi proposes further work that would swap in aluminum, which costs 1% of the cost of zirconium.

Can’t wait till i can be a real moisture farmer like Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila Makes Art With the Attention Span of a Bird THE DAILY PIC (#1773): This image shows two of the four screens,…


Eija-Liisa Ahtila Makes Art With the Attention Span of a Bird

THE DAILY PIC (#1773): This image shows two of the four screens, on the four walls of a room, that make up Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s fascinating “Studies on the Ecology of Drama,” now on view at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York.

It is impossible to see all four screens at once, so by changing what she projects on each one Ahtila can keep total control over our attention. She pulls us now one way, now another as we try to build a total picture of her piece. And that is precisely the unsteady state Ahtila needs to keep us in, since her piece is all about the unsteady nature of attention, and perception, and how different creatures build different pictures of the world. She dwells for a while on the common swift, a bird that flies at absurd speeds and doesn’t alight for years at a time. Footage of a flying gymnast has him standing as a kind of human surrogate for such a creature—and maybe we viewers do too, as our attention flits bird-like about the room.

Ahtila also considers the lives of butterflies and their caterpillar “parents.” Humans perched on branches in green sleeping bags stand in for those larvae. You feel jealous of their peace as your attention shifts endlessly from screen to screen—like a butterfly? (Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit

The superpower of interactive datavis? A micro-macro view!

Medium, statsitics, data, infoviz, micro-macro

What I mean by micro-macro is trying to get a better understanding of the world by accessing it on two levels: for one, there’s the micro-level of anecdotes where we get the good feeling of looking at actual, concrete aspects of the world instead of abstract mathematical descriptions. But we combine this with the macro-level to understand how these relatable anecdotes fit into the whole. This dual approach enables us to estimate if a given example represents normalcy (a stand-in for how things “usually” are) or is an outlier and does not allow conclusions for all cases.