Important question

Day 1

A: I have a very important question for you.

B: Shoot.

A stares intensely at B. After an uncomfortably long period of silence:

B: So what’s the question?

A: Thanks.

B: Eh? What just happened?

A: I was wondering if you could read minds.

Day 2

A: I have a very important question for you.

B: What? If I can read minds?

A: Ah-hah! I knew you were lying yesterday!

Central (c)heating

Cheat-it? Hmmm…

Central heating is like telling your boss your work effort will differ between days. You’ll put a little extra into having weekends and vacations and take a few hours off on work days…


My central “heating:” summers 35°C*, winters 19…


* Not that there’s really anything in place to bring the temperature down… but still…

Psychic reading

Psychic, adjusting the crystal ball: So, I can see here you’re going to have a car accident… in two days turning off I-10… Oh, right… not anymore… because I just told you. Also, your brother will lose a lot of money…. or not… right, you should definitely convince him not to invest all his savings in the soon to be discovered pyramid sales con… and your marriage will be shaky… ah, yeah… good on you… if you just stay clear of the boss’s assistant your marriage will be fine… hmmm… I can see here you’re going to have a depressingly normal life… good for you!

Header image by Sindre Strøm from Pexels, Link

Why no one wants to have discussions with extremists

Why is it that some people with fringe opinions aren’t “allowed in” on the conversation of their topic?

This could be creationists wanting to discuss the origin of the universe, or mankind, with a scientist, or alt-righters wanting to discuss immigration and integration policy with politicians from more established political parties.

One other example is the climate change denier wanting to discuss climate change with a climate scientist.

This, however, happens, and it is the key to understanding why no other scientist or politician wants to make the same mistake.

You’ve probably seen the debate? One scientist that claims climate change is not caused by humans and another scientist claiming the opposite (apparently it’s usually Bill Nye…) So, you sit down in front of the TV, keen on figuring out who of these two representatives of this deep division in the scientific community will have the best arguments and may be able to convince you to believe in their side of the coin.


The reality is rather what John Oliver did on his “Last Week Tonight” show (hopefully you can see that above…)

For every one scientist that doesn’t think climate change was caused by mankind, there should be about 10-30 scientists believing it was (depending on what sources you use).

The scientific society is not divided in two on this question, and most of the people against human-made climate change are either paid off, blind or lousy scientists. It’s also possible their sister is married to someone that owns an oil company…

Having the debate at all indicates there’s something to debate.

There’s a reason we never saw a debate between Stephen Hawking and some creationist about whether God created the universe or not. Hawking knew, and every other scientist knows that even having that debate, having that “Stephen Hawking vs Some Creationist Cucko” poster on campus would give the whole topic a weight it doesn’t deserve.

It would suggest this is an issue scientist are pondering, researching and trying to solve.

It’s not.

The same can be said about politicians not wanting to discuss if humans should be divided into groups, and how these different groups should be valued against one-another. Or whether our society should respect human rights or not.

Having that discussion would suggest every politician “has a proposal on his desk” (Achim Gercke, 1933) with an answer to that specific “question.”

They’re not.

I think everybody should be allowed to not have discussions about things they don’t find disputable.

They could be wrong, but when everybody really means everybody and not just everybody I know, it’s pretty much why extremists are not allowed to discuss at the grown-ups table…

But I am also very aware that the total lack of discussion or counter-arguments have allowed some right-wing extremist movements both in the US and Europe to gain votes just because they are the poor underdog not being let in on the discussion.

This allows them to spread conspiracy theories about who is trying to stop them, and how evil the establishment is. And being drama-starved, some people eat that shit up like ice cream on a Sunday…

Generally speaking, this is a problem humanity has faced many times and failed rather spectacularly at as well. One would think after the second world war and the rise of Nazism in Europe we would have learned… but I guess those who did learn from that are now in their graves (turning)… or in an elder care home, clueless… or helplessly wondering what the hell the grandkids are doing…

So, the reason that poor alt-right guy with all those witty comments on politics and especially politicians isn’t usually taken seriously is because his (or her) opinions on things like ethnicity, history or human rights is of the we’ve-been-visited-by-UFOs variety (oh, and that’s another group of people you’ll very seldom see in a discussion with an astronomer, for instance).

It’s not because of a conspiracy.

It’s because sane people realize there isn’t enough soap in the world to get clean after one has taken a dive into that shit pool.

Who discovered America?

“Who discovered America?”
“Cristopher Columbus!”
“That’s wrong…”
“Ah, yeah! There were some Vikings before him…”
“That’s also wrong…”
“Really? Who do you believe discovered America?”
“Well, the native Americans… obviously… or to be more precise, the Pre-Clovis people… as far as we know today.”

Here’s a great discussion from on who really discovered America.

And to add to the non-Columbian theory of the discovery of America, there might have been Neanderthals/Denisovans in America some 130 000 years ago, as well!

Header image by Joseph Henry SharpChristie’s, LotFinder: entry 5073621 (sale 2003, lot 41, New York, 21 May 2008), Public Domain, Link

Repair and Replace

1.5 degrees

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C basically stating that 1.5°C will be bad, 2°C will be even worse, clearly indicating a maximum temperature rise of 1.5°C should be preferred. The report also covers several “pathways” to reach that goal.

I must confess, I haven’t read the whole report. But I am still going to suggest one thing we could do to keep resource usage lower. I don’t even know if it would impact greenhouse gas emissions, but I think sooner or later it will have to be done:

Going back to a replace and repair culture.

Replace and repair


I like my things, from my kitchen table and refrigerator to my mobile phone and my Mac. However, they all seem to follow the same philosophy of being used for a few years and then thrown away.

Take smartphones for instance. A modern, watertight phone is glued shut to be watertight. Trying to replace the battery requires it to be “broken” open and then it might not be watertight anymore if you’re even able to get in open in the first place without it shattering…

And yet. From an energy consumption point, a smartphone battery should possibly not be used more than a certain number of years. It seems after 2-3 it starts losing its charge pretty fast. After 5 you pretty much have to keep the phone constantly charging.

I could buy a new battery for my older phones, but newer ones, e.g. iPhones, seems to require that I hand the phone in for service.

refrigeratorNot to mention that the memory or processor can’t be replaced at all.

Another example. Refrigerators and freezers. A refrigerator/ freezer should be replaced after a while. Because they might leak freon, and they will use more power to reach the same temperatures.

However, is it really required to replace the whole unit? How about a repair that replaces only the parts that may leak or over consume power? I don’t see how the case should have to be replaced as well… but sure, make it higher quality and one might be inclined not to want to replace it.

Twice the price / twice the quality

In fact. My basic theory here is that if the quality of things increased, and parts could be replaced to upgrade them and make the need to throw away and buy new decrease, the cost for nature would be lessened.

For instance. A mobile that lasted twice as long, would use half as much resources … I’d be willing to pay twice the price (obviously! :))

To make this happen, though, the mobile might need replaceable parts (memory/CPU/battery) but mobile manufacturers would also need to slow down with the new-model-race.

Sure, they need to make their money and compete and all…but the whole point here is that they have two choices (like any other manufacturer of “the model of the year”-products from cars to TVs and so on) either compete and make money today, to see pretty hefty climate effects tomorrow, or think about the climate effects today… and see a much brighter tomorrow.

Beyerdynamic gets it right!


Let me offer an example of what I’m talking about:

My Beyerdynamic earphones.

I got my first pair back in… I think it was 2003 or 2004. I got my next pair last year. Yup, that’s 13-14 years lifespan.

Sure, they cost me 1500 SEK (that’s about USD 165). Pretty steep for a pair of headphones (they are in fact pro studio quality) but then again, divide that by 13 and you get a price per year of about $12.

How many years does a regular pair of earphones last and what do they cost?

Maybe you have a pair that would be on par with my Beyerdynamic’s… or better… but then again… I made a mistake when I bought my new headphones, because, guess what?

Beyerdynamic-spare-partsThey have replacement parts for basically everything on the headphone… so my broken ear pads or the worn down headband cushion… I could easily have replaced only them.

Although, when I compared the old headphones with the new I realized the speaker elements in the old ones was pretty worn down. Literally no base at all. However…

You can even replace the actual speakers!

The only thing I think can’t be replaced is the plastic cups for the speakers. (But you’d pretty much have to jump on the headphones to break those…)

If every manufacturer followed this example the resource usage would be minimal!

Sure, studios might devour earpad cushions by the kilo, but they also have the option to keep them longer if they want to.

I believe in the new gadget economy, the price we should be most concerned about isn’t the price in money, but the price in resource usage.

And the best way to make that price as low as possible is to increase the quality and lifespan of products by embracing a replace and repair culture, rather than the use-and-throw-away culture we have now.

Besides, it would create new jobs.

Or, did you think I’d try to do the thing on the IKEA-compile-like image above myself? I’m pretty certain my earphones would never be the same again if I even tried…