More On Extraterrestrial life

I’ve speculated a couple of times on the possibilities of life on other planets (Life Everywhere and Water, Ceres and Life for example). Now we have more information to add to the growing likelihood that life is likely to be found anywhere that the right conditions exist, no matter how remote they may seem.

Recent discussion suggests that microbial life may exist in the dark clouds within the Venusian atmosphere, while other research shows yet more evidence that Mars may also have, at least at one time, been hospitable to life.

Planning for new missions to both worlds is currently underway and may finally confirm these speculations in the not too distant future. If it does, it will be a great day for the world and especially the exobiologists trying to determine the course that life may take outside the realms of our small planet.

Hopefully this will happen soon, and I stand firmly behind my “prediction” that we will find life everywhere. The nature of chemistry seems to naturally move in the direction of life-supporting compounds, making  and almost inevitably to life itself. Just imagine–the entire galaxy or even universe as one giant breeding ground for living organisms in all their myriad forms.

Just what might we find out there…? (Cue Twilight Zone music…)

Saving Our Science Heritage

In recent months we’ve seen the historic flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons probe, a remarkable achievement in space exploration that has produced some amazing imagery and scientific information. A little known fact: the probe carried with it a small portion of the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer who first discovered the planet (Okay… dwarf planet–happy?)

tombaughTombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930 while Continue reading “Saving Our Science Heritage”

Nine web sins that will make me close your site immediately

I recently read a great article by Tristan Harris on how technology hijacks people’s minds. He discusses how companies design their websites and applications to leverage psychological effects that lead us in to bad decisions, either through persuading us to buy from them or simply wasting our time with them. And it got me thinking…

There are some website behaviors I see often that are immediate red flags to me. So bad are these behaviors or “features” that I will close down the website immediately. What’s more, when this happens the sites get placed on a kind of mental blacklist and I will never return to that site again. So if you’re looking to attract me, here’s a list of nine things you probably want to avoid. Continue reading “Nine web sins that will make me close your site immediately”

The Windows 10 Conspiracy

In a previous post  I wrote an open letter to Microsoft, criticizing its strategy of trying to force Windows 10 on everyone.  I didn’t really expect much, but since then I’ve thought more about the situation.

Microsoft has a long history of abusing its dominant position in the desktop operating system market with Windows. So much so that it’s been the subject of numerous investigations and regulatory actions by various governments over the years. Many in the technology community distrust their motives and with good reason.

So has the release of the wonderful, shiny new Windows 10 made any of us change our minds? Let’s see. Continue reading “The Windows 10 Conspiracy”

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Il Buono

This week I had a reminder of how incredible the Internet can be. Back in college I spent a lot of time hanging out with a good friend (and drinking beer!). Back then people weren’t connected constantly though. There were very few cellphones, email was pretty new and, as happened back then, our lives moved on and we lost track of each other and fell out of contact. I’ve looked online for my old friend several times with no luck. But it was just a question of looking in the right place and this week I did!

It took twenty years to find each other again and yet in a matter of hours we’d exchanged emails, photographs, done a video chat and a lot of catching up, even though we now live on different continents. It’s amazing how technology helps so much in making that communication possible and accessible. It really does break down barriers that not very long ago were almost insurmountable.

Il Brutto

Of course with any advance there’s a down side and that’s definitely true with the Internet. The same technology that makes it easy for me and my buddy to catch up also brings with it a barrage of vacuous, puerile nonsense. Many are so addicted to “social media” that they spend literally hours posting nothing but status updates, all basically saying “Look at me, look at me.”

It’s emphasized even more the difference between the have’s and the have not’s. Those with the technology and the wealth can just sit around and parade themselves to satisfy some bizarre narcissistic fetish. Strutting like Peacocks as they show everybody how much they have and how “wonderful” they are, while the rest are supposed to fan this egotism and endlessly “like” them.

And then there’s the polarization that seems to thrive on the internet. You know what I’m talking about–everyone’s entitled to their opinion… until they disagree with you. Once that happens, people on the “other” side demonize anyone who dares to disagree, or even just question whatever subject is being discussed.

Il Cattivo

And this is where things start to get really ugly. The same technology that allows instant communication can also be subverted and manipulated for many reasons that aren’t even approaching “good.” Now children can be hounded by bullies all day and night, unseen predators can groom them and lure them into all manner of terrible acts. Then we have the people who hide behind the remoteness and virtual anonymity of the Internet, who publicly call for those they perceive to have “wronged” them to be violated and physically attacked. Such as the events in the “gamergate” controversy. When you start openly calling for someone to be injured, raped or killed, then you have crossed the line and are certifiably batshit crazy.

It doesn’t matter what the victim has done (or is supposed to have done), nothing justifies these public calls for attacks. I think even Tuco would agree with that.