Saturday, 9 September 2017

Korptopia: Equifax

Worried that Equifax's massive security breach may have exposed you to identity theft? Well, to even ask you first have to give up your right to sue...


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Must Read: The Descent into Fantasyland

How did those silly tabloids at the supermarket aisle become regarded as the new, true journalism? It's where we're at these days. To understand it, take a look at where we're coming from. It's a long read, but worth it.

How America Lost its Mind, by Kurt Anderson

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Read Before Burning

I submit, for your reading necessity, the leaked draft of the

U.S. GLOBAL CHANGE RESEARCH PROGRAM CLIMATE SCIENCE SPECIAL REPORT (CSSR)

Put together by experts from a dozen Federal departments and agencies, the report (I've only had time to read the summary and a few select pieces beyond it) reads much like any the IPCC reports, summarizing by consensus probabilities, and making several stark, clear statements:

Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gasses, are primarily responsible for observed climate changes in the industrial era. There are no alternative explanations, and no natural cycles found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.
The annual occurrences of daily tidal flooding—exceeding local thresholds for minor impacts to infrastructure—have increased 5- to 10-fold since the 1960s in several U.S. coastal cities (very high confidence). Rates of increase, which are accelerating in over 25 Atlantic and Gulf Coast cities, are fastest where elevation thresholds are lower, local RSL rise is higher, or extreme variability is less (very high confidence). Tidal flooding will continue increasing in depth and frequency in similar manners this century (very high confidence). 

For both the State of Alaska and for the Arctic as a whole, near-surface air temperature is increasing at a rate more than twice as fast as the global-average temperature. (Very high confidence)... Rising Alaskan permafrost temperatures are causing permafrost to thaw and become more discontinuous; this releases additional CO2 and CH4 resulting in additional warming (high confidence)... Arctic sea ice and Greenland Ice Sheet mass loss are accelerating and Alaskan mountain glaciers continue to melt (very high confidence)... Alaskan coastal sea ice loss rates exceed the Arctic average (very high confidence)... Observed sea and land ice loss across the Arctic is occurring faster than climate models predict (very high confidence)... Melting trends are expected to continue resulting in late summers becoming nearly ice-free for the Arctic ocean by mid-century (very high confidence).
Why leaked? Perhaps because the finished copy is unlikely to ever see the untarnished light of day. Although I think it likely to be released now, there will be much subterfuge by the Trump government. Remember the mantra of the propagandists: "People don't know the difference between good science and bad science." The Trump administration can and will defame this report with whatever bullshit they want. The reality-based community will check, crossreference and rebut, but no one on the other side will listen or care. The many in the middle won't know what to think.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The Half-Blind Commoner

About two years ago I had the worst sleep. I kept waking up out of breath, my heart thumping hard - like out of a nightmare. Waking in the morning, I grew convinced of an impending migraine because I had a blind spot haunting my vision. I get those. Well, no headache came, but the blind spot remained, and grew.

So, off to my optometrist. She seemed worried.

So, then, I was off to an ophthalmologist in Newmarket. After a battery of tests, she seemed uncertain. Optical neuritis? Hmmm.. You better see my even more expert colleague in Toronto, she said.

So, then, I was off to a supra-specialist at Sunnybrook Hospital.

A battery of tests were done, and steroids were prescribed. (My job at the time had me running up and down stairs all day. My knees hurt most of the time. Steroids took all that pain away. Too bad prolonged use is a bad idea.) Nothing worked. My specialist wasn't surprised.

The diagnosis was non-ischemic optic neuropathy, which is irreversible damage to an optic nerve not brought on by a problem with blood vessels or a stroke. in my case, the cause was found to be sleep apnea, which can (and in my case did) restrict the flow of oxygen to the optic nerve in my right eye. Once damaged, there is no way to repair it. Taking steroids was a Hail Mary attempt to regain some vision by reducing any possibly present inflammation.

No such luck.

As most of the nerve deals with imaging the central field of vision, that's almost always where the vision loss occurs when this type of damage occurs. I have only peripheral vision left in that eye.

I have, statistically, in a five-year span, a one-in-five chance of losing my vision in my other eye for the same reason. The notion is scary. I love to read, and if my left eye goes the way of my right, I will never read again.

I was told to lose weight (I'm constantly a bit heavy), exercise (done) and to avoid eating or drinking alcohol before bed, and to practice good sleep hygiene. I am not supposed to work nights. "Obey your circadian rhythms!" I was told.

My sleep apnea is considered minor. No machine was considered necessary or even useful.  I rarely have a night like the one that cost me my vision, and when I do, I get up and stay up. It's scary.

I have been fighting to get healthy for two years now. It's not working. Sure, I swim, run, and bike long distances, but my weight remains stubborn. I have what I think is a healthy diet. Somehow, the calories sneak in there.

Something has to change.

More to come.

Serenity


From Humber Park Bay East, Toronto: