Regress

Fun fact: Jimmy Carter got the U.S. started on conversion to the metric system, but didn’t have time to finish. Then Reagan came along and pulled the plug on us matching the rest of the world in sensible measurements. We coulda been there by now. Carter also installed solar panels on the white house, then Reagan moved in and pulled ’em off. Progress vs. regress, ’twas ever thus.

Someone else’s tweet: “All our refusal to adopt the metric system has done is make our products more expensive at home and massively less desirable in foreign countries. But yeah, let’s keep measuring shit by how many barley-corns can fit on the King’s finger. For freedom. “

At least our currency system is metric.

Chernobyl

The one thing an OFF button should never do is make things worse. But the boron control rods designed to regulate the nuclear reaction in Soviet RNKB reactors had a fatal flow – to save money, they were tipped with graphite rather than boron. Under certain insane conditions, when all water is already removed, this has the effect of briefly mushrooming heat levels, leading to catastrophic failure. But why had the water been removed at Chernobyl? Because a party apparatchik was obsessed with completing a test to earn a commendation. And because some of the plant operators were barely trained.

Technical flaw combined with human hubris combined with penny pinching. Anyway, CHERNOBYL on HBO is now over, but will remain available forever. Everything this graphic says is true. Don’t look for a pro- or anti-nuke docudrama — it’s not that. Just one of the most important true stories of the last century. So good.

New features in django-todo

If you haven’t checked out django-todo for a while, the project has been super-active lately! In the past few months it’s gained support for file attachments, batch-task-import via CSV, and a fully integrated email tracker. Now at version 2.4.6 on pipy, or check out the live demo site.

I started this project as a small demo more than ten years ago, and it’s evolved into a piece of staple software in the Django ecosystem. Proud of what it’s become!

The Four Rs (Introducing “Refuse!”)

We’ve all learned the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But there’s a fourth one, and it needs to come first: Refuse. As in don’t partake. Take every opportunity to refuse to use plastic, implore government and industries to cut back or reduce their usage, put pressure on companies and organizations to replace as many instances of plastic use as they possibly can. Break the cycle.

Wired: Since China’s Ban, Recycling Has Gone Up In Flames

Coda: We’ve been all been taught that “Change begins with me,” and that’s true. But it’s also true that no amount of individual recycling habits are going to reduce plastic use enough to make the kind of dent we need to make at this point. Only legislation and boycotts can do that. Governments of the world need (yes, need) to start making it illegal to use plastics when other materials would do. Consumers need to boycott plastic offerings when feasible alternatives exist (Why are people still buying plastic poop bags for your pet when compostable ones exist? Why are people still buying single use plastic water bottles? Just STOP!)

Vote for any and all legislation that aims to reduce or eliminate plastics usage. Refuse to support businesses that aren’t doing everything within their power. The goal now needs to be retraining society’s away from thinking that rampant plastics use is without enormous and lasting consequence.

International Women’s Day on Apple Music

Way to go Apple! Friday is International Women’s Day, and I just realized the entirety of the “Browse” section in Apple Music right now is comprised of female artists, female bands, playlists by women featuring music by women (but for everyone). Nicely done!

Whale Fall

When a whale dies and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, it’s called a “whale fall.” Hungry worms and shellfish and all creatures great and small come from miles around to feast. That much I knew. What I didn’t know until today is that a whale fall can sustain the life of others for 50-75 years – which is approximately how long a whale lives to begin with. Gorgeous symmetry of nature.

Open Letter to PetSmart and PetCo (Plastic Poop Bags)

I just wrote and sent the following letter to PetSmart. I tried to send the same letter to PetCo, but they do not allow email contact through their site – I’ll tweet this URL to them instead.


Dear PetSmart –

I am aware that you give your shoppers a choice between plastic or compostable poop bags. That’s a good start, but I think it’s time to change that policy. Plastic bags take several hundred years to decompose, while compostable bags take only a few months. Of all the things we might want to enshrine in posterity for future generations, our dogs’ poop is not one of them.

Our landfills, waterways, and oceans are drowning in plastics, and the problem of ocean plastics has now reached the level of international crisis — a mind-boggling 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans every year. We see a regular stream of news stories and documentaries illustrating how critical the plastics path has become. While some plastic things in our society are difficult to replace with non-plastic alternatives, poop bags are not one of them. Compostable alternatives are every bit as easy to use, and do just as good a job. Frankly, there really is no excuse for anyone to be using non-compostable poop bags in 2019.

Yes, compostable bags cost a little bit more, but not much. I understand that you want to offer your consumers a low-cost option, but I feel that poop bags are in a “special” category because the plastics situation is so dire and because poop is… poop. I implore you to take a serious look at the situation and ask yourselves whether you would really lose customers if you simply took all non-biodegradable poop bags off the shelves at all of your stores.

As a major retailer of pet supplies, your store is uniquely positioned to make a tremendous impact. Refusing to sell plastic poop bags would send a powerful message to your customers and shareholders, would probably garner some positive press, and would help you and your customers to feel better about their choices.

Please give this idea your full consideration.

Regards,
Scot Hacker

Pyroclastic Flow

TIL about “pyroclastic flow.” Imagine the column of gases and ash and pumice pebbles spewing 32km into the air during the eruption of Vesuvius. The column is able to grow that tall because there’s so much upward force behind it, but eventually the sheer mass of the column overwhelms the upward force and it collapses in on itself and comes crashing down. Now, instead of that 400-degree miasma pushing skyward, 32km of hell is pushing down along the ground at 300mph, toward your town. The first victims of Vesuvius died when they took shelter indoors — 18 hours of raining pumice pebbles caved in the roofs of their homes. The other two thirds died when the pyroclastic flow spewed into town, enveloping them in an instant. Nature.