28 August, 2014

Hurricane Marie: The El-Niño-Amplifying, Trade-Wind-Disrupting, Monsoon-Trough-Diverting Wave Machine

August 28, 2014. The sixth-strongest, and possibly gustiest, east-Pacific hurricane on record, Hurricane Marie, which, at peak intensity, had 160mph sustained winds, and, get this, 195mph gusts, is finally back down to tropical storm status over cool waters... ah, but the storm's effects are still being felt. Those gusts, being so much more powerful than the sustained winds, whipped up massive waves. At their peak height, the swells reached heights of 50 feet... ah, but after traversing large regions of ocean, they only ended up being 15-20 footers on the SoCal coast. Even at that height, however, the effects were immense.

I was watching those effects at Strands Beach in Dana Point yesterday, Wednesday, August 27, 2014. Even on Strands, a west-facing beach, mind you, the waves were STILL powerful enough to cause beach flooding, transforming a good 20-foot-by-10-foot section of sandy beach shelf into a swamp. I watched as wads of giant kelp drifted from south to north at 5, 10, even as fast as 15mph at times with the Marie-driven longshore current. At The Wedge, a famous surfing spot in Newport Beach that amplifies incoming surf, 35-foot waves were reported... and that was also a west-facing beach (well, technically, SW-facing). Thanks to the west-facing nature of both Newport and (especially) Huntington Beaches, another powerful longshore current stretched from there, past Huntington, and shoved water into the shallow Palos Verdes Bight. The powerful longshore current, combined with a rising tide, a broad continental shelf, and 20-plus-foot waves which in that south-facing area were straight on, created a far-field storm surge that inundated low-lying Seal Beach, up to several miles inland. Further north, Malibu Pier suffered extensive support pylon damage and still remains closed... and beyond that, in Point Mugu, a historic lifeguard headquarters building ― the Cove House ― was literally washed into the ocean by the massive waves.

The longshore current dragged north by those waves also dragged massive amounts of warm El Niño waters with it. Enough to easily increase the sea surface temperatures off SoCal by several degrees. On top of that, at peak intensity, Marie also did a lot to re-boost the El Niño development. Here, see if this picture is telling enough:



That's an atmospheric river, feeding into Marie from the west-southwest, when the storm was at peak intensity, on Sunday. One powerful enough to disrupt 2000+ miles of trade winds, allowing more warm El Niño waters to make their way eastward toward Mexico ― yes, and also California. On top of that, Marie also ― naturally ― strengthened the Tehuantepecer, but due to Marie's blocking mechanism, the convergence zone created by the Tehuantepecer couldn't flow due west the way it normally wants to. No, it was forced to curve north and shove even more warm water into southern California:


The evidence for that can be found in the way the convergence zone manifests itself: Note how instead of converging further to the south the way they normally do, the storms ― and, by extension, winds ― of the American Monsoon Trough are abnormally converging very close to land masses and squirting more warm water northward. The Monsoon Trough, let's be clear, is absolutely critical to the strength of the Pacific Trade Winds as they are normally. Now, however, it's being diverted up the coast, and we Californians are now directly in its path.

Not only can this prolong the El Niño to lengths never before seen, but it may end up completely changing the entire climate of the East Pacific basin on a permanent basis, by disrupting the already-weak California Current and even, in the worst case, completely circumnavigating the Pacific and reversing the equatorial currents entirely. It would be pretty disastrous if that actually happens, to say the least...

26 August, 2014

Napa Quake, Northern/Central California Exceptional Drought: Divine Retribution Against Alcoholism?

The 2013-14 rainy season gave us THE least amount of rain since the 1920's, let's be clear. In October 2013, a lot of rain fell, to be sure... but then from November 2013 all the way until February-March 2014, absolutely no rain fell. What's more, when the rain did come, it came in buckets in SoCal and buckets in the extreme northern areas, to be sure... but right in the middle, where all the wine-growing areas are, they got the least rain in the state. Here's how the Drought Monitor progressed as a result:

There's quite the pattern here, isn't there? It may have spread beyond that area since then (ironically to California's largest consumers of alcoholic beverages, Los Angeles County and the northern half of Orange County, and ironically enough, that area stretching from Irvine to San Clemente ― including my home [and church] town of Mission Viejo ― doesn't look to be in the exceptional zone ― yet, and we're only little more than a month away from this year's El Niño rainy season anyway, so time is running out), but central California, stretching roughly from Ventura County up through the Carrizo Plain area to San Francisco (and slightly beyond), is where the majority of California grapes are grown. Napa may be where it all started, but only a small fraction of the grapes that go into Napa wineries are grown locally (usually only for the most expensive of the expensive wines). Most of those grapes that get crushed in Napa to make the wine are imported. Where? Mostly from the core of the drought: central California.

Then, on Sunday (go figure), August 24, 2014 at 3AM, the heart of wine country ― Napa ― experiences a magnitude-6.0 earthquake. The ground shaking lasts 20 seconds, mostly as a result of the deep soils that give Napa its awesome grape-growing ability. Scores of unreinforced masonry wineries collapse. Downtown Napa ― which happened to have hosted a wine festival the night before, in which I'm pretty darn sure a lot of people got drunk because of  ― suffers extensive damage, since downtown Napa, with its historic buildings built in the 1920's and 1930's, is loaded with quake-prone unreinforced masonry construction practices. Grocery stores loaded with ― no surprise ― scores of fragile wine bottles have aisle collapses and become littered with alcoholic beverages all over the floor. Wine barrels fall onto floors and become crushed by collapsing URMs, at which point millions of gallons of wine spill. Fires break out at ruptured gas mains, and broken water mains hinder efforts to fight them. Governor Jerry Brown declares a state of emergency in Napa, and as of Tuesday, August 26, 2014, aftershocks continue to rattle the area.

There's a pattern here, isn't there? In the Bible, Jesus and His disciples do indeed drink... ah, but they drink in moderation, to say the least. Getting drunk, as mentioned countless times in the Bible, is indeed a sin. In the church, binge drinking is considered a form of gluttony, which happens to be one of the Seven Deadly Sins ― and it's considered an especially heinous form of it, as getting drunk can also lead to other sins. Notably, people who get drunk start wanting sex more, then they black out, they can't remember what they do, and end up in jail after blacking out due to committing heinous crimes. The modern consequences of alcoholism, let's be clear, are even more severe than in ancient days, due to the rise of motor vehicles. DUI claims countless lives across the United States each year, and people who drink and drive essentially end up committing reckless homicide, since they specifically chose to irresponsibly get behind the wheel of a car after drinking. Now, we appear to have two natural disasters ― a drought and a quake ― that are most severely affecting an area most famous for what? Its production and consumption of alcoholic beverages. By putting the pieces together, you begin to realize, this is just one piece of a long string of acts of divine retribution against sinful practices.

Ten years ago, another such act occurred. Indonesia, and particularly Aceh Province, was littered with Islamic extremists. They were constantly fighting the Indonesian government, why? So they could establish a totalitarian, Sharia-plagued Islamic state in the northern end of Sumatra, then press on to do what ISIS is doing today: persecute Christians en masse. Then, it happened. On December 26, 2004 (December 25 in the Western Hemisphere ― go figure), a behemoth magnitude-9.1 megathrust earthquake rocked a region stretching from central Sumatra all the way to southern Thailand and the Andaman Islands, with Banda Aceh ― the planned capital of this Islamic extremist group ― right in the center. Many Muslim religious centers ― due to their extensive use of unreinforced masonry in their construction ― were damaged during the shaking. 20 minutes later, a 90-foot tsunami followed, which was also focused like a shaped charge on Banda Aceh by the shape of the Sunda Megathrust segment that ruptured. Of the 220,000 people who died as a result of the earthquake and tsunami, 170,000+ were from Indonesia, and of those, a good 30,000 or more were indeed Muslim extremists. The earthquake and tsunami weakened the insurgency so much that they ended up finally submitting to the Indonesian government and NOT persecuting any Indonesian minorities the way ISIS is persecuting Christians and Yazidis in Iraq.

Then, of course, there's the ancient acts. Vesuvius. Santorini. The eruptions of these two volcanoes were some of the most devastating of all time. In the 16th century BC, we hear stories of a people being enslaved in Egypt and leaving (from the Jewish side) and of a people being expelled from Egypt after ruling over them (from the Egyptian side). It's one of the most famous stories of all time ― the Exodus — and there's good archaeological evidence, in the form of pumice, ash, accretionary lapilli (the hail plague), and tsunami deposits (layers of sand found far inland from the Mediterranean) that seems to suggest Santorini being the source of the plagues, and, of course, the parting of the sea (or tsunami) to top it all off. Also, there's the 79 A.D. Vesuvius eruption. Just 9 years earlier, almost to the day, in 70 A.D., Roman emperor Titus ― a Roman general at the time ― sacked Jerusalem, torched the Second Temple, slaughtered thousands of Jews and Christians, and took tends of thousands of Jews and Christians to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Rome as household slaves and forced prostitutes. For 9 years, they were continuing to preach repentance to the Romans... and then, suddenly, Pompeii, the sin city of the Roman Empire, is swept away by a pyroclastic flow and buried in ash. Over 30,000 Romans are killed, according to Pliny the Younger... ah, but then there's some slave graffiti that suggests there were some survivors who happened to be slaves, managing to dig their way out of the ash, only to find the entire city they were once enslaved in suddenly in ruins and rejoice that the judgment had been passed.

Let's hope people realize what the stakes are here. They can deny God all they want, they can keep complaining that religion is the opium of the masses, that Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. are responsible for all the violence in the world... but just as it came back to bite Howard Storm in the liver, kidneys, yes, and, temporarily, soul, you can be darn sure it's going to bite the rest of the atheist world in places they sure don't want it either. It happened in Indonesia. It's happening right now, right here in California. What's next?

19 August, 2014

2014-15 El Niño: 'Supermoon' + eclipses + 'King Tides' + unstable Pacific sea level imbalance = recipe for a big one

Okay, so now we're in for a treat: Remember when, a day or two before the Supermoon, how the scientists, while continuing to look in the wrong place for El Niño evidence, scientists decided to downplay the chances of an El Niño forming? Little do they realize, the Supermoon appears to have revived it. Below is the SST anomaly map a day or two before this month's Supermoon:


And here's how that same map looked after the Supermoon:


As you can see, the unusually warm waters, which were gathered into whirlpools and had nowhere to go, are now beginning to pile up against the Mexican coastline and spill across the equator, just like I had predicted. But wait, what does the Supermoon have to do with this? The answer: King Tides.

The traditional scientific understanding about El Niño is that the waters pile up against the Asian side of the equatorial Pacific, where the sea level, thanks to the Trade Winds, rises... until suddenly, it gets too high and gravity takes over, resulting in a Kelvin wave. Lately, however, a back door has opened up, thanks to melting polar ice, for the waters to simply flow around the Trade Winds. The Supermoon, of course, has a much stronger gravitational effect on Earth's oceans, due to the fact that it's synergistic with the Sun AND is at perigee, meaning the moon is closest to the Earth and full at the same time. Also, the Earth rotates from west to east. Meaning, of course, that the tidal effect of the Supermoon would be strongest first on the Mexican/Peruvian side of the Pacific.

On top of all that, lunar output is the opposite of solar output. Sure, it's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which means that the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun. During a full moon, however, the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth. The result? The moon's gravitational pull would have been strongest A, on the east side of the Pacific, and B, in the Southern Hemisphere. It's very likely, then, that when the tides rose, they began to suck all that warm Mexican water southward, further disrupting the trade winds. As a result, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, or BOM, came to a much more different conclusion than the American scientists: a far more likely El Niño scenario than most people realize.

All around, the meteorological effects of this developing El Niño are already becoming clear. The monsoon is so strong it's even brought thunderstorms to coastal SoCal, killing beachgoer Nick Fagnano and injuring 7 others ― a rare sight, since the monsoon normally only affects the mountains and deserts. Given that the American Monsoon is fueled by warm Mexican Riviera/Gulf of California waters, however, the explanation for that unusually strong monsoon remains obvious: El Niño. The Tehuantepecer is also showing signs of unusual strength, and it's sucking all the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico straight into the Pacific basin, resulting in 12 named storms. Of those named storms, 7 were hurricanes, 6 were/are major hurricanes, 4 were Category 4 hurricanes, the strongest of which had winds that were only 2mph shy of Category 5 status, and, on top of that, one hurricane ― Marie ― IS a category 5 storm, with sustained winds clocked at 160mph, gusting to a whopping 195mph. In fact, it was one of those category 4 hurricanes ― Iselle ― that, while weak at landfall in Hawaii, was a Category 4 with 140mph winds at peak intensity.

The Atlantic basin, meanwhile, has had only three tropical cyclones: Arthur, Bertha, and Cristobal. That also is clear evidence for the impending El Niño: the Tehuantepecer sucks all that moisture right out of the Atlantic. The result, of course, is a combination of unusually dry air and unusually powerful wind shear. While the water is still warm, wind shear and dry air are both clear impediments to tropical cyclone formation. The result? No hurricanes. Remember Andrew? In 1992, there was another El Niño, let's not forget. Andrew may have been the only name to ever have been used throughout the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season... but it was also used in August. At the same time, Iniki was just as damaging to Hawaii as Andrew was to Florida... but underwent very rapid deepening and formed close to the islands. Iniki, however, was part of a long series of storms. How many? 28 named storms, 16 hurricanes, and 10 major hurricanes — the most that the Pacific basin has ever seen since record-keeping began.

In 1997, the same thing happened: all the Atlantic hurricanes stopped forming in August. Nothing. Meanwhile, the East Pacific hurricane season continued well past that. It was in September when the most powerful product of the season occurred, one that was, so far, our closest modern call to a repeat of 1939: Hurricane Linda. At peak intensity, Hurricane Linda's sustained winds were clocked at a whopping 185mph ― the strongest hurricane in East Pacific history, and it too was fueled by warm El Niño waters. Most importantly, however, Linda, Rick, Amanda, Cristina, Norman, Kathleen, yes, and Marie all took similar paths through the same rapid deepening keyhole, one that puts the storms dangerously close to a jet that, if aimed at California the way it was with Norman (and again with Marie, by the looks of it), can easily turn near-misses into direct hits.

So, with all the evidence staring them in the face, the scientists still ignore it. Sucks for them, because, well, it appears they're still insisting on looking in the place they're used to looking in. Well, it's now blowing up in their faces...

08 August, 2014

2014-15 El Niño: Eddies of Superheated Water Are Evidence of Weakening California Current

When I last posted about this year's impending El Niño, it was early July. Five weeks after that, as my tracking has progressed, it's now time for another update. One thing is certain: it's definitely not weakening. Spreading around and superheating the ocean the way a convection oven superheats food, yes, but man, is it just as strong as ever. The skeptics, as I've stressed before, are simply looking in the wrong place. For the record, equatorial Kelvin waves are not exactly what meteorologists, climatologists, and oceanographers should be looking for. No, what they should be looking for are Kelvin whirlpools. Yes, that's correct: we're talking about huge swirling masses of superheated seawater the size of hurricanes churning their way across the Pacific roughly 5 degrees north of the Equator, fueled by ocean currents shearing them off to the north and south. Here, see for yourself:


Looking at the SST anomaly map (that is, the departure from average SST), we find that these swirling masses of storm food start to get progressively more striking the closer to this side of the Pacific they get:


Those whirling vortices of superheated seawater, should I say it again, are by far the biggest piece of evidence I can possibly find and throw out there that can possibly support my explanation of why the scientists think the El Niño is weakening when it really isn't: that the El Niño waters have simply found a back door around the trade winds, instead of being forced to bore into them the way they normally would. Wait, there's got to be a reason why the waters have found this back door, right? In fact, there is: That back door for the El Niño is even more evidence to add to that which I found back in February that seemed to suggest the unthinkable: a weakening California Current due to none other than climate change.

So, wait, how can climate change do that? The ocean currents are all technically density currents. Warm water floats, less-saline water floats, cold water sinks, more saline water sinks, and the Coriolis effect does a profound job at affecting the oceans just as much as it does the air, thus making the currents stronger. That effect is called the thermohaline circulation. Some currents, like the Gulf Stream and Mediterranean density current, are indeed driven by the ocean's salt content. Others, like the California and Labrador Currents, are driven by an entirely different mechanism: icebergs break off Alaskan and Greenlandic glaciers, supercooling the water, making that water denser, and, by extension, forcing it to flow southward towards the less dense ― and warmer ― tropical waters. Recently, however, the glaciers that once broke apart as icebergs off Alaska, the heart of the California Current's cold water, have retreated to almost nothing. Remember, those pics are from over a year ago. Since then, we saw even more evidence that seems to suggest that it may already be too late to stop the inevitable. It definitely seems a critical point has been reached.

The equatorial currents, meanwhile, are kind of anomalous in the fact that they're pretty much independent of the thermohaline circulation, because they're not driven by salinity or by water temperature. No, they're wind-driven. The Trade Winds create a kind of setdown effect that shoves all that water westward, and normally, the California Current would be strong enough to help the Trade Winds out and contribute to that shoving, piling up the sea level to unusual highs near Asia and unusual lows near the Americas, until finally, gravity takes over, and all that water rushes back as a Kelvin wave. By contributing enough to climate change, in the form of CO2 emissions that have since gone on to trigger the release of Arctic methane, to allow the California Current to weaken, mankind has inadvertently created a back door for those El Niño waters to simply flow around the Trade Winds and find a more northerly route back across the Pacific. The result: this could be the beginning of the perpetual El Niño that everyone has feared.

02 August, 2014

Project Seal: Implausible Then, Certainly Possible Now

In the 1940's, before the nuclear age, during World War II, some recently declassified documents depict something extraordinary: military scientists experimented with sending tsunamis into the Japanese coastline using explosives, to wipe out those civilians who were defending the coastline against an invasion with pitchforks and keep the human cost of an invasion down. The plan was shelved after the military scientists determined that it would take some 2 metric kilotons of explosives to create such a wave... at least if those explosives are placed in a straight line.

One thing that really intrigues me about how tsunamis can be focused, from a fluid dynamics standpoint, into a relatively small area, is the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami of 1700. According to computer models, there's one portion of the wave, as it leaves Cascadia, that's significantly larger and more destructive as it travels across the Pacific than any other part:


Note how that portion of the departing tsunami, which appears to also have a dent in it, almost conforms to the shape of the subduction zone that created it: all that tsunami energy appears to be focused on that one point, where the wave is both longer AND taller than it was in Cascadia. Could explosives do the same when placed in that concave pattern?

Despite how far-fetched it may sound, accidents involving man-made explosives have created tsunamis before. Take the incident in Halifax in 1917, for example. The SS Mont-Blanc, a cargo ship about 1.5 times the size of your average jumbo jet (which is not very big for a cargo ship, let's be clear), sailed across the Atlantic, loaded from bow to stern with military high-explosive cargo, in the form of mostly nitrocellulose, TNT, and picric acid. When the Mont-Blanc got to Halifax Harbor, however, she was broadsided by a Norwegian ship, the SS Imo, and caught fire. That fire then went on to ignite all those explosives at once. The resulting blast had the force of 2.9kt of TNT, which is just about as much explosives as Project Seal would have needed to be effective ― and it generated a 60-foot tsunami that devastated the portions of Halifax not already blasted away by the explosion itself.

Fast-forward to today, and we have technology that absolutely no one dreamed of back then. We have computers that can fit in our pockets. We have cars that drive themselves. We have unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft that use cameras to tell their remote human controllers where they are going ― even ones that can attack. So why not also use that same drone technology to remotely navigate cargo ships the size of the Mont-Blanc filled from bow to stern with explosives ― about 10 of them ― into a V-shaped pattern with overlapping blast-radii, then place remote-controlled detonators on them, along with "Fire" buttons on the remotes?

The overlapping blasts would displace a lot of water, to be sure... but then the water has to rush back into that V-shaped depression (in contrast to the linear depression that the military was thinking of creating off Japan during WWII... and also in contrast to the circular depression that was created by the Halifax blast) that the blasts leave behind. The result? Massive drawback... which is most powerful on the concave side of the shape. The wave follows, refracting into a 200-plus foot monster at the very least, the way the water flows towards it... in fact, if this is done in a very deep section of ocean (even if mostly landlocked), it may reach as high as 1000 feet or more, thus becoming a mega-tsunami as it is focused into that V and directed towards its target, at which point, because of the way it is refracted, it should easily be able to cross an entire ocean (or sea) towards the enemy in just hours, or even minutes if the ships are blown up close enough to the enemy in question.

11 July, 2014

Terminological Hypocrisy: Why "choice" is a misnomer in the abortion context

It's sad, really: Most liberals seem to only live in the now. They only think about their right to act certain ways today as if they'll suddenly leave the world tomorrow, with absolutely no regard for what happens 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years down the road. Therefore, I can kind of see their logic behind the fights for the right to smoke marijuana, the right to fornicate, the right to have same-sex, and the right to abort pregnancies to cover up their own sinful acts... ah, but suddenly, 10 years later, they get lung cancer/emphysema, then after 20 years, they are forced to adopt children due to the biological incapability of having their own, and, finally, after soul leaves body, they find out that the illegimitate child from the poor choices of their teenage years that they aborted would have become the next great thinker, the next great trendsetter, the next President... and they think, "OK, maybe I shouldn't have made that decision".

I sit back at all this activism, and laugh. I scoff at them as if their entire lives are living, breathing episodes of Ridiculousness, manifested in ideas that appear to give them sudden rushes and fade quickly that they're so passionate about as to take them all the way to the Supreme Court, and one issue that tends to be VERY problematic is obviously abortion. The church certainly equates it with infanticide, which in the case of fetuses, well, yes, that's definitely true, and yes, from the moment that sperm enters that egg, well, the result is a child with a soul and a spirit. The people in support of abortion, however, see it as a mere choice: the mother should choose, the mother has the right to carry a child that she willingly had sexual intercourse to beget in the first place, or the mother has the right not to.

Notice how I stressed "mother" three times here, in boldfaced letters. That's the whole point: What's the unborn child's say in the matter? Hmmm? None. The mother is making all the choices. The mother is who's dictating, in a totalitarian fashion, whether the unborn child should live or die. The unborn child, meanwhile, is absolutely powerless. Abortion "choice" is far from democratic, that's for sure. It's totalitarian. It gives the mother free reign to be a tyrant. It gives the parents free reign to say, "OK, I can have extramarital sex, and if I get pregnant, just abort the pregnancy", why? Because they can. Hitler committed the atrocities in the Holocaust because he could. So did Saddam Hussein use toxic gas on Kurds because, well, he could. Bashar al-Assad? Yup, same thing: he had absolute authority, unlimited power over his people, including, oh, yeah, the power to authorize a chemical attack on a civilian population. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi/"Caliph Ibrahim"? The list goes on and on. So, really, that makes the "choice" to have an abortion, where the unborn child has absolutely no say in the matter, no different than the "choice" to poison 6 million Jews with toxic hydrogen cyanide gas: one of absolute tyranny.

That brings us straight to the point: calling pro-abortion activism "pro-choice" is a misnomer. Why? Because of the above: only the mother has a choice. Only the parents can choose, and the child, thanks to the parents' choices, has absolutely no say in the matter, a powerless victim of the Abortion Holocaust, which has so far claimed over 50 million unborn lives. Unborn lives that, should I say it again, had absolutely no way of escaping their prenatal deaths, all because of who? The "choice" to value one's own life at the expense of the lives of others. It's a profound example of greed at work, and oh, yeah, the word "choice" to describe it is indeed an outright selfish, self-centered, and hypocritical term. Perhaps the biggest example of terminological hypocrisy this nation has ever dealt with: choice for the parents, but absolutely no choice for the unborn child.

Now to be fair: I do agree that women should have at least many, if not all, of the same basic rights that men do. For starters, it's the very nature of the early church, and thus a nature that we should get back to: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentions that "divorcing [one's] wife for any reason except sexual immorality [commits] adultery". In those days, a "certificate of divorce" didn't have to be legally binding, it could really just be a note from the husband to the wife telling her to leave. In a later Gospel account, Jesus and His disciples actually sit and eat with women among them as if the women are meant to be treated equally with men. In another account, in John 8, we find what is arguably the most profound example of pro-female activism anywhere in the Bible: an adulteress is brought before judges and threatened with stoning. The people ask Jesus if she should be stoned, and His response was straight to the point: the people who wielded the stones were also all sinners, and they slowly walked away until Jesus, the only one who actually had authority to condemn her, instead sets her free. The Bible even depicts women as being the first eyewitnesses to the resurrection, during a time when women weren't accepted as witnesses in court! Later, in the 1st century church, women, like Mary, Thecla, and others, were indeed just as involved in ministry and worship as men were. Given that back then women were seen not as people but merely as property of their fathers and husbands, I'm not too surprised Jesus and His disciples took that stance against the mistreatment of them, to say the least.

2000 years later, women indeed have a lot more rights that they often take for granted. They can vote. They can testify in court. They can protest without risking getting trampled over by Roman soldiers. They can file for divorce instead of needing their husbands to do it for them. They can wear clothes that would often seem like an embarrassment to men of 2000 years ago. They can get involved in politics, and even, as Hillary Clinton and Michele Bachmann attempted to, run for President. Yet instead of being grateful, instead of being appreciative of all the rights they ― and we, since, well, the "right" to be gay is indeed the equivalent of this issue on the male side ― already have, abortion and gay activists still want more. Well, when it comes to legal rights, there's absolutely no doubt we're now pretty much equal, and under both the biblical AND land laws, we males certainly don't have any more rights than women have, and likewise, neither do women have any more rights than men do.

So, since we're equal, let's keep it that way and not push for more. Doing that is crossing a line from merely exercising freedom of speech to being greedy. Greedy not for money, but for power. Power that leads to amassing great fortunes in industries whose only job is pushing the Earth's climate into another Jurassic one. Power that leads to self-harm in the form of drug-induced chronic diseases and STDs. Even power that leads to the death of unborn children whose parents tyranically chose to kill them, with absolutely no regard for how they would feel if they could express their emotions. Choice is mutual. The unborn child's choice, obviously to not die, is therefore every bit as important as the mother's.

09 July, 2014

Project Ozone: Google's Mir?

It's July 9, 2014. Here I am, doing my usual decipherment of open source Chromium code in an attempt to find out how many new features the Chrome team has up its Athena sleeve. The journey started ― naturally ― with the Athena source tree. From there, after seeing a chrome.shell API that Athena appears to be implementing, it moved on to the shell tree, where I then found out about some Aura code serving as a kind of back-end for some of those features. When I got there ― to the UI code ― another project, being indicated in code comments as something VERY significant, really caught my eye: Ozone.



Why is Project Ozone so significant? Let's start with the context it was referred to in: as some kind of separate platform. To be even more precise, X11 and Ozone were being referred to in the same context. Snooping through its code revealed some more details. Most notably, there's mention of cursor factories, event factories, native pixmaps (!), display mode proxies, display snapshot proxies, display management, GPU management, oh, yeah, and input device management. These are ALL features typical of not just window managers (like Athena, Ash, Mutter, and Compiz), or widget toolkits (like Aura, Qt, and GTK+). No, these are features of full-fledged display servers like X11, Wayland, and Mir.

Could this mean Google is actually taking something from Canonical's playbook here when it comes to mobile/desktop convergence? Well, let's start with I/O: there was definitely some tight Android/Chrome OS integration demoed there, starting with notifications and making it all the way to, oh, yeah, Android apps running natively on a Chromebook. For now, it's mere integration/continuity between the platforms... but yeah, it's also the start of a long road to complete convergence. As the Ubuntu team noted, X11 is a kind of roadblock to that. Why? Because, well, it is way too bloated with legacy code (due to its age) to run on mobile devices easily, which is clearly why it's stuck on the desktop. So, with that in mind, to get something on both the desktop and mobile devices simultaneously, sleeker, slimmer, less bloated, oh, yeah, and more modern, natively-accelerated display servers are needed.

That's why Canonical started working on Mir in the first place: X was clearly too old. It had 30 years worth of code piled up, which IMHO is way too much to work well on mobile. At the same time, Wayland was too ahead of its time. It depended on the GPU so much that a lot of older computing devices without powerful GPUs are often left in the dust by it. Thus, Mir was born. It's compatible with both accelerated and non-accelerated hardware, and at the same time, is far less bloated than X is. It appears Project Ozone serves a very similar purpose for Google that Mir serves for Canonical: one display server across all mobile and desktop devices, Chrome and Android alike.

If the ability to run Android apps natively on a Chromebook is actually truly seamless and not just some clever Google Cast mirroring, well, then Athena, Ares, and finally Ozone could all be catalysts for complete Ubuntu-style convergence between the two platforms. That probably won't happen until 2015 at the least... ah, but given all that's been revealed now, not to mention all that we'll be seeing this fall, only time will tell.

01 July, 2014

2014-15 El Niño: Dying? You're looking in the wrong place!

On the weekend of June 26-29, I was on a retreat in Big Bear with a bunch of fellow young adults, oh, yeah, and my youth pastor. Yeah, we were having the time of our lives, to say the least... ah, but at the same time, the lake was indeed 25 feet below normal. So, while I was on that trip, I decided to Google "El Niño" "2014-15" again, only to find claims that the SST anomalies in the Kelvin zone off Peru, where the majority of El Niño research is conducted, appear to have begun shrinking back to normal... and yes, scientific research of the SSTs appear to have backed it. However, the problem? While the SSTs off Peru are indeed far from abnormal, those off Panama, Colombia, and Mexico, are, wait for it... still VERY high! To put this into perspective: We're talking about the waters about 15 degrees north being warmer than the equatorial waters. Here, see for yourself:


How do we account for this rare anomaly further north of the equator than normal? There's at least three factors that I'm aware of, and I'm ready to go over them right now.

1. Equatorial Solar Output


Contrary to popular belief, the equator isn't always the warmest/hottest area on Earth. That's based on the notion that, oh, yeah, it is indeed 0 degrees latitude... but the Earth's axis has a 23.5-degree tilt to it. So, with that in mind, we come across two 23.5-degree north and south latitude lines: the Tropic of Cancer to the north, and the Tropic of Capricorn to the south. Only during the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes does the Sun's energy reach the strongest at the equatorial region, and that's because, well, those are the transition zones between spring and fall. At the solstices, however, the Sun's peak energy is furthest away from the Equator. Which puts it, naturally, at either the Tropic of Cancer during the Northern Hemisphere Summer/Southern Hemisphere Winter, or the Tropic of Capricorn during the Southern Hemisphere Summer/Northern Hemisphere Winter. So, technically, the equator has not just one seasonal transition, but rather two summers and two winters that serve as very, very, very subtle transition periods.

Ah, now we're getting somewhere: The Northern Hemisphere summer solstice was, literally, on June 21. It's now July 2, which puts it... only 11 days ago! That means the Sun's peak energy is, at this time, farthest away from the Equator than normal. The result of this ― naturally ― is only a slight decrease in equatorial water temperatures but an increase in water temperatures north of the Equator, whose resulting low atmospheric pressure, due to tropical cyclogenesis, serves to drive runaway migration of warm El Niño waters northward. Ah, but that's not the only factor here.

2. The warm Gulf of California


Many people who talk about a "warm Gulf" often talk about the Gulf of Mexico... ah, but even if fewer people encounter it, the Gulf of California is just as warm. It's where all the American Monsoon's energy comes from, and because it's landlocked, it's often incredibly warm. Being surrounded by deserts, it's also impacted greatly by solar energy, to the point of evaporating faster than its surroundings and, thus, being more saline than the ocean to the south. The resulting evaporative density current, just like the Mediterranean's, has only one way to flow: out into the ocean, which in the case of the G. Cal., means southward.

So, what happens when these extremely warm Gulf waters meet equally warm El Niño waters? They intermingle, doubling the effect that they have north of the Equator, oh, yeah, and adding to the already abnormally low atmospheric pressure that El Niño contributes to this side of the Pacific (that's what's responsible for the El Niño trade winds weakening, mind you: abnormally high pressure over the West Pacific + abnormally low pressure over the East Pacific = weakened Trade Wind pressure gradient = weakened trade winds), which, again, is going to want to manifest itself, especially during the summer months, not on the equator but rather slightly north of it.


3. Disappearing Gulf of Alaska Ice


Back in February, I collected evidence that painted a rather grim picture when it comes to climate change and how it's poised to cause a boatload of problems. However, I'm going to describe that post in a nutshell: There wasn't enough rain last winter because the winter storms were bringing all the rain (surprisingly not all snow either; some of it was indeed actually rain) to Alaska. The reason why the storms were being forced north was because the Jet Stream was always to the north. The Jet Stream was always to the north because the waters off Alaska were abnormally warm. Ah, so why were the waters off Alaska (and particularly in the eastern Gulf of Alaska) abnormally warm? Because of all the disappearing glaciers in that region, glaciers that are crucial to the California Current's overall health.

See, the California Current is a density current. Melting glacial ice chills seawater. By chilling the seawater, the melting Alaskan ice also makes it denser. Being denser, it has this tendency to want to flow toward the less dense, and warmer, waters in the Mexican and Central American tropics. The Labrador Current in the Atlantic, in relation to the Gulf Stream, is driven by the same mechanism, only in the LC's case, it's melting Greenlandic ice, which has a much longer way to go to melt completely. So, what happens when all that glacial ice, crucial to keeping the ocean cold, starts disappearing too fast to sustain itself? The California Current weakens. In fact, if there ends up being absolutely no ice left, it can ultimately weaken to the point of shutting down ― which, of course, would give solar output free reign to superheat the waters directly off our coast. That can then go on to A, give the Mojave Desert thermal low more free reign to drag in an Indian Monsoon-style atmospheric river from directly off the Southern California coast (which can then go on to rapidly deepen it ― even this year, we're already feeling much higher humidity than normal due to the unusually high El Niño water temperatures, oh, yeah, and also seeing more powerful thermal low rotation over the Mojave Desert, and that certainly wouldn't go away with this worst-case scenario either), and B, give Mexican tropical cyclones more free reign to intensify and move northward ― perhaps the exact opposite of what the "mega-drought" alarmists once thought.

Conclusion


This isn't the first time an El Niño manifested itself in this fashion either. In 2009, scientists were just as skeptical during the summer months, due to, yeah, similar circumstances. The warm El Niño waters were centered just as far north of the equator as these... but it still ended up being a particularly powerful one. In modern times, the 2009-10 El Niño only came in second to the 1997-98 one in terms of its sheer power, and it was indeed a surprise to scientists. Why? Because again, the scientists were looking in the wrong place with that one as well. It's the case of, if it ain't right, look harder. There was indeed a similar California drought in 2009 as well... one that the El Niño of 2009-10 clearly erased.

I also must admit: seeing the lake that far below normal was indeed inspiration for me to start pulling out my Bible, and, for about an hour, praying that divine strength be given to the El Niño. Guess what? I get back from the trip, and, a day later, lo and behold, another Kelvin wave appeared, and within hours, made it all the way across the Pacific... Goes to show just how much of an ill effect atheism has had on these scientists, doesn't it? Anyhow, that's another topic for another post...

21 June, 2014

Maximum wage: The answer to Fiorinaism

Since becoming old enough to vote in 2011, clearly I've been trying to match the spiritual guidence of countless prayer, Bible study, and note-taking with political positions of candidates during election years. What are the results? Certainly nothing compared to the stigma involved with Christianity in politics and how most people who promote our values are the same ones who often corrupt government with private gain, that's for sure... and let's face it, under no circumstances is any political party going to be perfect, but in terms of my Christian values, neither the Democratic OR Republican parties is in any way even close.

On one hand are the Dems. I find it VERY surprising that Obama would claim to be Christian and yet continue to pass up issues like abortion, homosexuality, and radical Islam as if they're either A, okay, or B, something to ignore. That's definitely hypocrisy to say the least... then again, given how many Democrats are atheists to begin with, I'm even surprised there are people like Obama in there at all. Still, however, at least they do also believe in promoting other sane Christian values, like, oh, I don't know, caring for the poor and raising the minimum wage, which are indeed something we Christians should be trying to outdo them with.

On the other hand, what about the GOP? They're the ones who are often pushing for laws banning things like abortion and homosexuality ― which, both biblically AND scientifically, is a good thing ― but wait a minute, aren't they also the same bigots who are continuing to push for financial inequality? The ones who would rather triple their own salaries than keep Americans where they should be ― at work and getting paid ― only to go on to run for public office? Who would rather let our country go into default than give away (at least) their tithe in taxes to help the economy rebound itself? I can easily cite 1 Timothy 6:10, Matthew 6:24, Luke 6:24-26, Matthew 19:21-24, and John 2:15-16 as examples of why that's not only socially but also biblically wrong... and let's not forget all the legalistic judging (Matthew 7:1-5) that they often conduct on top of that, not to mention racism and (!) anti-Semitism in the most extreme of cases. Yeah, good job, you're literally TRYING to be neo-Pharisees!

The ideal Christian political party, from the most fundamental of levels, is one that ends up being both socially conservative AND fiscally liberal ― in fact, I'd go so far as to say democratically socialistic, as C.S. Lewis points out, while still retaining the stance against issues like abortion and homosexuality that make neither scientific nor biblical sense. On that end, however, let's get to the point of this blog post shall we?

Income taxes are often assessed not on flat levels, but on either progressive or proportional ones. The minimum wage, on the other hand, is always flat... ah, but wait, why isn't there a maximum wage? Hmmm? The way proportional income taxes are assessed should be a good clue on calculating it: it should be illegal for a CEO's wage to exceed 10 percent of the sum of payroll of ALL the labor force under the supervision of the CEO in question (in other words, if the company has 30,000 employees, for instance, then the maximum wage would be 0.1*(30,000*w), where w is the wage each employee earns). Which means, of course, that a CEO would have only two options if he or she were to outsource jobs and lay off workers: either reduce his or her own salary or face jail time.

Let's hope people get the message that BOTH parties are in the wrong here... and oh, yeah, let's hope people listen to what's going on. The crooked tactics here are obviously NEVER okay... ah, but it's up to us voters to make a difference, to petition the government, to run for office, and to really make sure we as a country are being the force for freedom that we intend to be.

17 June, 2014

Surfers, Do Not Attempt: 5 common tsunami myths debunked

As a SoCal resident, I have indeed met some surfers who get rather overjoyed when the see the "entering tsunami hazard zone" signs, thinking, "Oh, good, I just have to wait for a quake and I've got a wave to ride". Well, that's precisely the problem. Below are some common myths people believe that are often exaggerated compared to reality, and as per the thoughts they stir in these people, just might get them killed.

Myth 1: Tsunamis are just like ordinary waves, but bigger.


Here's precisely what makes surfers in Hawaii often fail to heed tsunami warnings only to end up in a 10-minute-long rush of white water: A normal North Shore wave is a 30-by-300-foot wave, which just crashes and dies. A tsunami, on the other hand, is a 30-by-633,600-foot (120-mile) wave. That long wavelength is key: instead of just crashing and dying, a tsunami will keep coming in as a 5-to-15-minute-long torrent of seawater. So, you may be fine riding it out in the ocean... ah, but once you reach land, the tsunami won't stop. It'll keep coming, and before you know it your surfboard is suddenly a life preserver that you end up holding onto for dear life as the water keeps rushing in.

Myth 2: All waves — including tsunamis — look the same


Don't let this myth fool you either. The tsunami that left Japan in 2011 reached Hawaii in about 5 hours, but it subsided into a series of 10-foot swells. Yet despite their low height, they still had enough energy to, just like a flood and/or storm surge, devastate coastal towns and damage many buildings beyond repair. An episode of "Weather Caught On Camera" on the Weather Channel includes a piece of supposedly viral video documenting the rush of seawater that turned out to be the tsunami, which looked nothing like a wave at all, but rather a sort of flash flood of seawater that just kept coming.

Myth 3: All undersea earthquakes trigger tsunamis


It's not the shaking that triggers a tsunami, despite how strong it may feel. The seismic waves are too short and low to displace water. In order for a quake to generate a tsunami, a quake needs to cause permanent vertical deformation of the ocean floor. Meaning, of course, that a strike-slip fault like the San Andreas, where the tectonic plates slip past each other, would only cause horizontal displacement of the ocean floor, and thus, no tsunami. Subduction zones and thrust faults, on the other hand, do indeed cause permanent deformation of the ocean floor, and thus, a tsunami can indeed be triggered.

Myth 4: Earthquakes are the only tsunami triggers that exist


Many people assume that because earthquakes are the most common triggers, they must be the only triggers. Not so. In 1958, a strike-slip Fairweather Fault quake, registering 8.3 on the MMS, caused 40 cubic yards of rock to detach itself from a mountain lining Lituya Bay. Alaska. The slab slid into the bay at over 100 miles per hour, displacing enough water to cause a 1,720-foot wave in the bay.

In geologic and Neolithic history, however, there were some tsunamigenic landslide events far bigger than that one. Landslide debris carbon-dated to roughly 6000 BC, for example, detached itself from Mount Etna in Sicily — roughly 8 cubic miles, or approximately 43.6 billion cubic yards, of it, that is. The resulting wave, when plugged into computer models, that is, would have had initial heights of 165 feet in the open ocean (Lituya Bay was far shallower, which is why the wave was so much higher), enough to swamp countless Neolithic villages. The modern threat posed by the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands, as another example, consists of a 120-cubic-mile, or 654.2-billion-cubic-yard, block of debris just waiting to slide into the Atlantic. The tsunami generated by that could have initial heights of 2000 feet and, remote from its generation location, it could break up into a series of about 20 165-foot waves, enough to devastate the entire Eastern United States.

As if landslide triggers don't sound scary enough, there's also impact events. The asteroids that created the Chicxulub and Burckle Craters, for example, were big enough, and their impact plumes wide enough, to displace hundreds of cubic miles of pure ocean, generating tsunamis with initial heights of close to 10,000 feet (especially in the case of Burckle Crater, which, if my calculations are correct in my other post on it, displaced, at the very least, about 600 cubic miles of pure seawater; in the case of Chicxulub, the impact was in a shallow [less than 200-foot-deep] sea, not a 12,500-foot-deep ocean), and still 1000+ feet as they approached landmasses — enough to wipe entire countries off the map should repeats of these impacts happen today.

Myth 5: Earthquakes can impact California, but tsunamis can't


While the San Andreas Fault is indeed a strike-slip (which, let's face it, is indeed incapable of triggering a tsunami), other California faults sure aren't. Take the Puente Hills Fault, which was responsible for April's 5.1 in La Habra and could trigger a 7.5 directly under downtown Los Angeles if it rips entirely, for example: it's a blind thrust fault. That means, yeah, it's thrusting the Puente Hills, east of Los Angeles, upwards... and oh, yeah, it would take a very long time to rupture due to the large, long, shallow underground rupture area. In the event of a similar fault off the coast, underwater instead of on land, rupturing, that could cause a tsunami in proportions far out of range for its magnitude, which for the SoCal coast could be devastating.

As for remote tsunami sources, while the tsunami of Japanese origin in 2011 obviously didn't do much damage to American shores despite traversing the entire Pacific ocean, there are indeed sources much closer to home that can still trigger far distant tsunami damage effects. In 1964, for example, a 9.2 quake on the eastern edge of the Aleutian Trench triggered a tsunami which devastated Northern California, and Crescent City in particular... but even that isn't the most significant megathrust tsunami threat to SoCal. In that case, we could be looking at a 50-foot-plus tsunami that could reach SoCal in as little as 2 hours from its source: the Cascadia subduction zone.

The last time Cascadia ripped, triggering a quake that could have easily been about as big as Alaska's monster, was on January 26, 1700. The tsunami from that one was big enough that, oh, yeah, even Japan got swamped... and when a tsunami is generated, it doesn't just propagate in one direction, it propagates in all directions. According to computer models, a repeat of that one could cause a tsunami to reach San Francisco in 1 hour, Los Angeles in 2 hours... oh, yeah, and could easily cause in excess of $70 billion in damage to the entire West Coast of the United States, including the portion in California not affected by the quake itself. Yeah, I certainly wouldn't want to be on the beach when that happens...

Geologic Evidence Supporting Biblical Events, Part 3: Ringwoodite

Literally less than a week ago, scientists made a VERY important discovery: large quantities of hydrous ringwoodite, a mineral that, when water contacts it, undergoes a redox reaction: hydrogen dissociates from the water, which then goes on to protonate the mineral, and the resulting hydroxyl radicals get locked up in ionic bonds within it, locked between 400 and 700 miles within Earth's mantle. The volume of ringwoodite that these scientists were able to find turned out to be enormous: enough ringwoodite, according to estimates, to hold 3 world oceans' worth of water. That's enough ― naturally ― to easily cover all the continents up to the height of Mount Everest and STILL have a good 5,000 feet to spare, at least. And, when ringwoodite melts, the water dissolved in it is no longer soluble and escapes ― mostly, of course, as water vapor.

So, what happens when a large burst of heat and/or seismic energy is blasted into Earth's mantle through 2-mile-thin oceanic crust by an object like the Burckle impactor and directed straight towards the ringwoodite layer? Ringwoodite's chemical formula contains very large amounts of magnesium (very brittle), iron (not brittle by itself, but is compounds are indeed brittle), and silicon oxyanions (also, indeed, as brittle as, well, glass), making it, naturally, a VERY brittle material. Even if the impacting object's heat burst didn't flash-melt large amounts of it (which it probably would have), the seismic shockwave blasted through Earth's upper mantle by the impactor could easily, by the time it reached the ringwoodite layer, have separated out into a series of smaller seismic waves ― literally the equivalent of a magnitude-10 earthquake, possibly larger.

This shaking could easily, easily have resulted in fractures in the ringwoodite layer. Guess what happens when those fractures reach the layer of magma below the ringwoodite? The magma is going to want to find an outlet, and that's just what happens: it pushes its way through the ringwoodite cracks, releasing the water from it, oh, yeah, and causing it to buckle and fracture in even more locations due to the steam pressure, allowing more magma to then enter those cracks... Yeah, the end result, of course, is phreatomagmatic runaway ringwoodite breakdown, ultimately forcing all that water that was once locked up in the ringwoodite to gush right onto Earth's surface as either A, steam, or B, superheated water, which then goes on to fall as what could be as much as 1000 feet of rain per hour, all over the planet.

Add the tsunami, the hypercanes, and, well, everything else associated with the Burckle impact on top of this runaway process, and suddenly the story of Noah's flood doesn't sound so far-fetched after all, does it? Yeah, the amount of water locked up in the ringwoodite deposits is indeed cause for concern to say the least... ah, but then again, once that water was able to seep back into the ocean via Earth's subduction zones, the ringwoodite would have been able to re-form, slowly but surely sucking all that water back up again, where it got rediscovered almost 5000 years later, right now, in 2014.

Now to be fair, the Bible isn't the only ancient text that talks about an ancient worldwide flood. There's texts all over the world that tell the same story. The Mayan Long Count Calendar, for example, may be most famous for its end and re-beginning in 2012, but the previous end and re-beginning was indeed during this same Bronze Age period, and guess what it talks about as having happened? A worldwide flood! Likewise, Chinese texts, whose accuracy, thanks to the Chinese lunar calendar, is indeed more easily capable of being 500 years off compared to modern computer models (not to mention this could have taken 500 years to drain completely), also talk about the same "fountains of the deep" ― hydrothermal explosions that are indeed a calling card of the Ringwoodite Gun ― that the Bible talks about. There's also Norse legends talking about this same phenomenon. Egyptian legends. Sumerian legends. The list goes on and on.

The fact that we do indeed have all these references to a flood outside the Bible means that although Noah would have been the only survivor in the ancient Near East, he probably wasn't this catastrophe's only survivor, despite how much us Christians want to believe that. The Egyptians and Chinese were definitely great boat builders, and so were the Olmecs, Mayans, and ancient Peruvians. Anyone on a boat, which could have amounted to at least a few thousand people worldwide, should have survived. All those survivors would have needed to bring on their boats to bring the planet's biodiversity back to normal would have been a bunch of seeds, eggs, and mammals (which are the ONLY members of the animal kingdom that aren't egg layers, mind you). When the salt waters drained, it would only have taken maybe 5 years of rain at the most to purge all the salt from the soil. The Copalis River "ghost forest" is evidence of how quickly salt washes back into the ocean: the forest may have been sunken into a salt marsh during the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami of 1700, but since then, scientists have measured the soil's salinity and have found it to be MUCH more suitable for tree growth today now that the crust is being squeezed again. Moreover, although land species would have been affected greatly, marine species, already used to living underwater, certainly should have suffered few, if any, endangerments or extinctions, which they would have easily been able to recover from.

So, ready to keep arguing with me? Call me an ignorant fool for being a Christian? We all know how that's already turning out, using ad hominem personal attacks, not to mention sock puppetry. Yeah, that's about all you're able to use (and thus how immature you're able to be) based on this kind of scientific evidence I'm providing, which, yeah, is the same kind of scientific evidence that others have been using in an attempt to attack and undermine my faith. I'm really not that stupid, and the very wording of this post is indeed proof of that, so bug off!

14 June, 2014

'Project Athena': Hera's Desktop Sister Project

UPDATE 7/18/2014: Google leaker-turned-employee Francois Beaufort managed to post a screenshot on Google+ of an early Athena build, and oh, yeah, it looks an awful lot like Android L:


Original post continues below.

June 14, 2014. Two months ago today, I turned 21... ah, and just yesterday, something else in the Chrome OS pipeline having been worked on, apparently, behind closed doors, for the past month or two, started leaching into bug reports and ultimately to the press: a clandestine Aura plugin being developed as a replacement for Ash, and code-named, to my ultimate surprise, "Project Athena". Right off the bat, that code name is suggestive of even more similarity between Chrome OS and Android in the near future than any of us could have imagined, as "Project Hera", Android's counterpart, is also a code name taken straight out of Greek mythology, and, as per the details that the press was able to receive, it's an effort to Chrome-ify Android by replacing Java with Dart and/or HTML5+JS as the programming languages of choice. The details in the bug reports and source code (which, BTW, is indeed already open), let's face it, only point to one thing: if Hera is the Chromification of Android, Athena is the Androidification of Chrome OS.

One detail in particular that suggests Athena would certainly be more Android-like than anything we've seen in the past are some classes defined in the C++ source code: athena::Activity and athena::ActivityManager, among others. What makes these classes so familiar to me, a registered Android developer, let's not forget, are the counterparts in Android's Java source code ― namely, android.app.Activity and android.app.ActivityManager ― which are, let's face it, completely identical to what we're seeing in the Athena source code. If the Hera rumors about Android completely relinquishing Java for HTML5, JavaScript, and Dart are to be believed, well, then we're talking about complete convergence on this most fundamental of levels here... at least from a developer's standpoint.

Ah, but that's not the only Android-like change. Enter Overview Mode. Currently, Overview Mode is far from Android-like ― I would seriously compare it more to Apple's old Exposé (before it became Mission Control, that is) than to anything even remotely close to Android ― ah, but let's review the changes suggested in the bug reports and source code, shall we? The changes listed and/or hinted to in the comments include A, drop shadows behind windows (like the drop shadows in Android's app switcher), and B, a scrollable window list (which literally screams Android to me; ever since ICS, the recent app list has always been, depending on whether the device is in portrait or landscape orientation, either a horizontal or vertical list that you have to scroll back and forth through to switch apps). Now even the user interfaces are starting to look similar, aren't they?

But wait! There's more! Mentioned in the bug reports is a home screen interface code-named Ares. The developers' wording certainly doesn't refer to it as a desktop like most of them do for the current Ash interface, to say the least. The developers actually refer to it as a (!) launcher, which in Chrome OS, has so far only been used to refer to the little menu pulled up when you click that button with the 9-square icon in the bottom-left corner... ah, but for someone used to using launchers in Android back in the 2010-2012 years (before unfortunately settling for an iPhone 4S due to AT&T's lack of Nexus carriage ― oh, well), this strange detail should raise eyebrows in excitement. Why? Because only in the context of Android has anyone, I repeat ANYONE, ever in the history of Google, used the terms "home screen" and "launcher" interchangeably the way they do in that bug report... until now. Heck, the publicity of Android launchers in particular was pushed to new heights in the fall of 2013 / first half of 2014, let's not forget, by the release of the Nexus 5, which Google debuted their own launcher on, only to subsequently release it into the Play Store for all Nexus and GPE devices. Launchers, in that specific context, have always been used to refer to Android home screens. But, it seems, thanks to Athena, we could have a plethora of launchers for Chrome OS as well in the near-future, in part due to the very context that the developers use the word "launcher" in ― even more suggestive of convergence, to say the least.

Even the window manager, according to this now-implemented feature request, is getting a face-lift. Right now, Chrome OS window decorations are certainly minimalistic, to say the least. There's the basic window controls on the top right, but then, in terms of the entire rest of the window frame, nope, nothing. Tabs are where not just some but all of the identification of a Web page currently lies ― that is, the labels and icons that identify the windows in question. Thus far, only pop-ups actually have the icon and name identifying the page in their window frames... ah, but the mock they're describing in this bug report, along with the changes committed, seems to change all that (and extend that functionality to normal windows as well, not just pop-ups) by placing both the icons and the labels identifying each window and/or Web page not in the tab, but in the window frame ― literally, just like OS X and Windows.

On top of all of the above, there also seems to be evidence suggesting an app launcher that allows access to not only apps, but also emails, music, videos, Google Contacts, and Calendar events at a glance, without having to go into the apps in question, in a vaguely Ubuntu-like manner. Back in the ICS and JB days (ah, but not in KitKat), Android too had, in addition to its Apps tab, a Widgets tab... and now it definitely looks like Google may be replacing, in both Hera AND Athena, the Widgets tab, having been removed from KitKat, with Mail, Music, Videos, Contacts, and Calendar tabs that behave the same way, not to mention possibly opening it up to third parties to add their own at-a-glance info. How do I know it's not just voice search? Because the class being extended/inherited by the "DummyItem" class being defined in the referenced file ― "public app_list::AppListItem", which is defined here ― is the very class that actually defines just that: the front-ends that allow apps to display themselves in the launcher to begin with, making it the app launcher's core feature. Let's be clear: voice search is defined somewhere else. It would extend that class, NOT this one, if only voice search alone were affected by this change.

So, based on these strange details, we may be looking at a potential OS X/Android mash-up hitting our Chromebooks in the next couple of months... ah, but given that I'm running a Canary build, the code commits in question suggest that a hands-on for my Chromebook (especially if Athena is made the default in 38, which seems likely at this rate ― right now, I'm on 37) could be imminent. Stay tuned for a hands-on, and yup, I'll be Chromecasting I/O as well, to see if there'll be any demos on it.

12 June, 2014

Nexus or Nothing: 2012's AT&T upgrade catch-22 that made me get an (old) iPhone

Alright, let's be clear: As much as I love Google, there are some things about carriers, and AT&T in particular, in regards to lack of timely mobile OS updates, that really, really, REALLY piss me off. That was totally true from 2010-2012, i.e. the Moto Flipside years. My phone was stuck on FROYO, of all operating systems, despite Jelly Bean already being out in 2012. So, when I was finally eligible for an upgrade, I was, temporarily, ecstatic about a mobile device upgrade when I learned that a phone AT&T was already carrying ― the LG Optimus G ― was going to serve as the basis for what would turn out to be the Nexus 4, so I thought, 'Maybe AT&T will offer the Nexus 4 as well'. Man, was I wrong!

There were indeed a few options, including the Atrix HD, that first looked like they might work... ah, but wait, despite the Atrix HD being on ICS at the time of the upgrade in 2012, it wasn't scheduled to even get Jelly Bean MR0 (let alone MR1, which is what the Nexus 4 had) until 2013, and, if the searches are to be believed, I literally just Googled it a few days ago, and, to my utter dismay, it STILL doesn't have KitKat. And here I thought Motorola (especially as it was under Google's management) was the one vendor who got an A+ on ComputerWorld's Android report card. Yeah, this proves that wrong in a heartbeat... Either AT&T gets an F for timely Android OS updates, or Motorola, when it comes to their AT&T lineup in particular, only gets a B. Not the least bit cool.

The release date came and went. Only T-Mobile was offering the Nexus 4 on contract. Ugh! I was literally, before my parents started seriously bugging me out of it (especially with my mother's retiree discount; she literally worked for AT&T for 31 years prior to 2003 and so is able to get a discounted upgrade price and/or phone bill), on the verge of switching carriers. Then, I thought, 'Wait a minute, even though Google lets carriers and OEMs get in the way of Android upgrades, Apple sure doesn't when it comes to iOS upgrades'. Reluctantly, I gave an iPhone 4S (a year old at the time, thus only being $99 on contract, versus the $299 PLUS a contract I would have had to pay if I got a Nexus 4 since it wasn't an upgrade option) a shot. Ah, at least it's got iOS 7.1 (and will be getting iOS 8 this fall) despite being 3 years old (the same age, believe it or not, as the Flipside was in 2012).

The transition was far from smooth, however. Aside from the iPhone, everything else of mine is Google gear. A Chromebook. A Chromecast. Google apps galore that literally double the space used on this poor little 4S, which performance wise is buckling under the performance stress and losing battery life tremendously. Meanwhile, this Chromebook I'm typing on (an Acer C720-2802) is screaming through an up-to-date version of Chrome OS, and, to the phone's dismay, even the old AC700 prior to last Christmas had outstanding up-to-date Chrome OS performance. Oh, and yeah, despite the plethora of Google content ― including Play Music, which all the major record labels still support ― now available for iOS, there's still some private music vendors ― notably Jesus Culture (and their Reconstructed album ― which, of all things, is precisely what I personally believe normal worship music should be today: Christian dubstep) ― that unfortunately still haven't gotten on the Google Play train, despite how easy it is to get a Play Artist Hub running (as easy as it is for the Dev Portal). And even then, most of these apps (notably Google Now and Google Play Music) only came to iOS in 2013; in 2012, nope, there was absolutely nothing.

Now, of course, it's 2014... which means, in addition to being 3000 miles away from home (SoCal), in Florida, for Christmas this year (thanks to an awesomely generous paternal uncle of mine), it'll also be time for yet another upgrade. According to rumors, it appears the Nexus 6 will be released earlier than most of the others have (at I/O), (update: I/O saw an Apple-style developer beta release of the version of Android that the Nexus 6 is bound to showcase ― release to be in November, according to further updates) not to mention Google's official Android Twitter account seems to have leaked it... ah, but given the overhaul that Project Hera appears to be bringing to Android's most fundamental structure (easily enough API breakage to make it a 5.0 release), nope, not too surprising. According to rumors, it'll be functionally identical to the G3 ― a 13MP camera with 4K recording, along with the same ultra-high-res screen that the G3 has ― yet fundamentally different from a design standpoint. As for carriage, well, let's make some noise in support of AT&T finally being announced as an official (NOT unofficial) carrier at I/O, shall we? Everyone, I'm using this blog to petition AT&T to carry the Nexus 6 for a change. The last Nexus device AT&T carried was the S, so in all honesty, they're LONG overdue for carriage of another one... So, let the blog traffic, the comments, the cries, and the screams begin!

11 June, 2014

Mobile app development: Apple locks you in; Google locks you out

If this sounds like a rant, I apologize, but seriously: My iOS developer friends get all the perks of desktop and mobile operating systems playing very well with each other... which, I suppose, is precisely why Apple's app store got off to such a head start despite the Play Store surpassing and ultimately superseding it, and also probably why developers almost always release iOS apps first, then Android apps later, despite Android being cheaper and having less barriers to entry to develop for. So why am I, as a registered Android developer, being kept from doing the same with my Chromebook?!

To put this into perspective: those who do develop iOS apps NEED a Mac to do it. Apple (unfortunately) won't give any Windows, Linux OR Chrome OS users an Xcode version to use, which is indeed a shame given that A, Windows users definitely have access to both iTunes and Safari, and B, Macs (unfortunately for 80% of Americans) cost an absolute fortune compared to all the other offerings out there, which is precisely why Mac sales appear to be on the decline compared to Chromebook sales (which makes sense given how dirt-cheap most Chromebooks are). Regardless, however, it only makes sense given how Mac users almost always would choose iPhones for their mobile devices, so likewise, it only makes sense for them to get the first (but not only) pick on the developer tools.

On the other hand, Google appears to support every OS EXCEPT their own for Android development. Windows is supported. OS X (!) is supported. Linux distributions like Ubuntu are supported, but to every Chromebook user's dismay, Chrome OS, the one and only desktop OS that Google maintains and updates many orders of magnitude more frequently (every 6 weeks) than Android, is at the same time the only one that isn't supported by Android's developer tools, despite Android also being developed by Google. It's as if Google just wants to in every way, shape, and form make their OSes, by far, very easy for the end user, all the while making developers scream by forcing them to chroot-in Crouton (and thus worry about the nasty system overhead and performance problems involved with running one entire OS on op of another entire OS ― it's a HUGE performance drag, not to mention HUGE drain on precious battery life) just to get coding.

Don't get me wrong, Google's products definitely have potential for playing well with each other, to say the least. The biggest change offering at least some hope for Chromebook-owning Android developers came with their Mobile Chrome apps initiative in December of 2013 (and hopefully "Project Hera" is actually taking that and using it to rewrite Android ― then again, we'll know at Google I/O, won't we?), where they released a series of PhoneGap plugins to allow easy conversion of HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3, Google's Chrome-specific JavaScript APIs, and Dart bytecode to native code for execution on mobile devices and publication to app stores... ah, but all hope was lost when Google decided, instead of porting the Android developer tools/JDK to Native Client and getting it over with, to make the Android SDK a mere dependency of the Cordova plugins and, thus, continue to lock Chromebook users out. Heck, even if Google's Android team rewrote Android using Dart, well, they STILL would be leaving Chromebook users in the dust, since the Dart SDK also locks Chromebook users out of its list of supported platforms besides.

So, anyone with me on this? Let's make sure Google hears the developers' voices on this matter, because, bottom line, if iOS developers are locked INTO Macs, we Chromebook users, at the very least, should NOT be locked OUT OF Chromebooks.

Geologic Evidence Supporting Biblical Events, Part 2: Underwater Eden

People have sought out the so-called "earthly paradise" for millennia, let's be honest. From the medieval crusaders, to Christopher Columbus, to Juan Ponce De Leon, they've all circled the globe in search of one of the most puzzling biblical mysteries: the Garden of Eden. Little did they know, they were ALL looking in the wrong places. The Bible mentions four rivers flowing into the garden to water it: Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates. The mention of the Euphrates, of course, suggests somewhere in the Middle East... ah, but wait, don't the Euphrates and Tigris (which the Bible calls Hiddekel) flow not into a garden but into the Persian Gulf? And where are the other two rivers?

Well, according to LANDSAT satellite data, there is indeed a "fossil river" (now known as the Wadi Batin) that flows out of what we now know to be Saudi Arabia, and a dammed river ― the Karun ― which used to flow into the Persian Gulf from the Zagros Mountains in Iran. Ah, could these be the missing Pison and Gihon rivers? If the Wadi Batin is the Pison ("gold" definitely seems to be suggestive of the color of Saudi sands), then where's the Gihon at? The Hebrew word that for centuries has been mistranslated as "Ethopia" is really "Cush" or "Gush" in romanized form, and, wait, it appears to be a loanword from Sumerian, where "Kashshu" is the correct spelling. This leads us to a people known as the Kassites, who are hypothesized to have conquered Sumer/Babylon during the 15th century BC out of the east ― possibly right out of Iran's Zagros Mountains. Ah, now that would make the Karun River the biblical Gihon, wouldn't it? Now we're getting somewhere.

We have to take into account, however, that there was a time ― about 7000 BC ― when the Younger Dryas period went into effect (possibly caused by the air burst of a large object such as an asteroid or comet), literally reinstating the ice age for another millennium or two. The result? The sea level was a good 400 feet lower than it is today, and glaciers would have been able to form at much lower altitudes, such as in the Zagros Mountains and in the highlands of northern Saudi Arabia, the melting of which would have fed the rivers in question. So, with the low sea level in mind, we come to our next question: just how shallow is the Persian Gulf?

The answer: VERY shallow, according to some data I was able to find... if the data is correct, the entire Persian Gulf is on one giant continental shelf, which would make it only about 200 feet deep at the most. That means... Yup, the Persian Gulf was at one point a fertile valley fed by glacial melt. Then again, oh, yeah, its floor is a VERY flat floodplain. When the sea level rose rapidly as the glaciers began to quickly recede when the last remnants of the Ice Age ended (about 6000 BC), it reached a critical point where it could just push its way across the entire plain in the same kind of free reign that tides can freely cross the Bay of Fundy today. The result, of course, is just that ― a flood, taking the form of what would appear to be a massive tidal bore as the fast-flowing melt-river is shoving itself against the seawater that it's contributing to the rise of, which would have quickly overwhelmed what was once the earthly paradise:


So, yup, there you have it. What was once the garden of Eden is now the bottom of the Persian Gulf... ah, and it's definitely not a garden anymore, now is it? The water would have been flooding the area about as quickly as it flooded the Black Sea (only not across a natural dam like the Bosporus but rather through a narrow strait ― the Strait of Hormuz ― that would have channeled the rising seawater to an unusually high amplitude as it pushed against the outgoing glacial melt), forcing the inhabitants to flee to higher ground and/or inland. Alright, that's two events down; you thirsty for more?!

06 June, 2014

Geologic Evidence Supporting Biblical Events, Part 1: Burckle Crater

The flood story in the Bible, I must admit, is indeed a very eyebrow-raisingly implausible one from a scientific standpoint. Rain for 40 days and 40 nights is nowhere near enough to cause a worldwide flood capable of wiping out entire continents catastrophically, to say the least. Not to mention, of course, that there indeed are no "fountains of the deep" or "windows/floodgates of heaven" that scientists know about anywhere on Earth that they're aware of. The "windows/floodgates [both equally valid Hebrew translations] of heaven", at least, don't seem to appear anywhere, unless, of course, you're using the claim to talk about the Black Sea flood... ah, but a scientific discovery made some years ago, 12,500 feet beneath the South Indian Ocean, does indeed give new meaning to the "fountains of the deep" claim.

May 10, 2807 BC (according to a Sumerian planisphere object similar to another one that documented the Kofels air burst, when plugged into computer models). An asteroid the size of Mount Rainier, according to scientific estimates, slams into the South Indian Ocean, approximately 1000 miles east-southeast of Madagascar, at more than 50,000 miles per hour. It flies into the ocean at such a high rate of speed that even after displacing the ocean above, it goes on to kick up an impact plume to sub-orbital trajectories, and this impact plume then picks up the displacing of water right where the asteroid itself left off. Ultimately, the resulting crater (known to geologists as Burckle Crater) grows to a staggering 18 miles across, at the bottom of a 12,500-foot-deep section of ocean, the water-displacing impact plume (and by extension the very section of ocean having been displaced by the impact) thus bearing the same radius.

So, I'm using this opportunity to put my hard-earned geometry skills to use. The formula, according to math books, for the volume of a cylinder is A=πr2h, so with that in mind, let's do the math here. To get the radius, we must divide the 18 miles of crater width by 2, giving us 9. Ah, but then, to convert miles to feet, we must multiply 5,280 by 9, which gives us a 47,520-foot radius. Using the formula on it, we get: π*(47,520)2*12,500 = approximately 88.6 trillion cubic feet, or 602.4 cubic miles, of displaced water. Compare that with the volume of rock currently detaching itself from Spain's Cumbre Vieja volcano, which is only estimated to be 120 cubic miles, and yup, you get the picture. The volume of water displaced by the Burckle impact can amount to many orders of magnitude more than that which will be displaced by the Cumbre Vieja landslide when it finally gives way, and that much water displacement is enough to generate a tsunami about half as tall as the ocean is deep, especially when you factor the speed and depth of the volume of water that is displaced.

Remember, however: This volume calculation doesn't even begin to take into account the lateral displacement, only that which is vertical. Lateral displacement can easily add a good 100 extra cubic miles of water on top of that which is already factored in by this vertical displacement calculation. Remember, even though all tsunamis involve whole-water-column movement, those generated by earthquakes, landslides, and pyroclastic flows don't have nearly enough energy to completely part the abyss dry. Only impact events have this special character, one of parting a large circle of the entire water column in a vaguely Red Sea-like manner, forcing all that water that used to be in that circle to expand skyward. That's obviously poised to result in displacement far more massive than anything we've ever seen.

That amount of water that is forced to expand vertically is absolutely enormous... and let's remember, even the wave that was generated in the same ocean some 5000 years later, by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, had enough energy to be detected in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans by tsunami buoys. A wave on the Burckle impact scale, by comparison, would have absolutely no contest given these calculations. You'd be looking at something capable of wiping out large swaths of entire continents tens to twenties of thousands of miles away, knocking over mountains with tremendous force... oh, yeah, and killing tens of millions of Earth's inhabitants of that time, billions if it happened today. What many of the models that doubt the tsunami obviously fail to take into account, let's not forget, is the effect the impact plume has on exacerbating the volume of water already displaced by the asteroid itself.

Even if the chevrons found in Madagascar aren't tsunami deposits, if they're impact debris deposits as the scientists often suggest, we have to take into account the effect a tsunami that followed the debris (likely traveling far slower) would have on shaping them in the fashion they have been shaped in. Tsunamis push everything up in front of them. If there were no tsunami, according to the models, the deposits would have very gradual slopes, and if they were eroded by something else, say, gradually over time, we would see steep cliffs similar to those edging Arizona's awesome geologic features. Neither of these appear to be the case. The deposits in Madagascar are large plateaus 600 feet high, and they're uniquely shaped ― gradually sloped on the ocean side, and on the land side, they slope at perfect 45-degree angles. Slow erosion doesn't do that. It takes a tsunami, it takes a MEGA-tsunami, to shape the deposits in that unique fashion by pushing up one side of the already laid-down debris like a bulldozer, all the while flattening the side closer to the coast.

On top of that, impact events and debris plumes also contribute something else to the ocean that can be very catastrophic: heat. This heat can result in another phenomenon that scientists use all too often to talk about what may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, especially in this catastrophic form: a hypercane. Or several, for that matter. Remember, it's not just the impact site itself that can be easily superheated. It's also the ejecta fallout radius, which can be a good thousand or two miles across. Which, of course, means we'd be looking at debris falling on both sides of the Equator, heating large swaths of ocean and catalyzing the formation of incredibly destructive storms that go on to ravage the region long after the tsunami subsides.

To top this all off, scientists also discovered that the amount of ringwoodite hidden within Earth's upper mantle is enough to hold 3 world oceans' worth of water. That's enough water to raise the height of the entire world ocean by as much as 30,000 feet! There's little doubt in my mind that the A, thermal, and B, seismic energy being blasted through the thin oceanic crust by the impact event could have been enough to cause the water held within it to flash-boil, creating more cracks in the ringwoodite. Those cracks then provide a path for Lower Mantle magma, which flash-melts more ringwoodite, then producing more pressure, and thus, more fractures. The resulting runaway breakdown could have easily, easily have completely blasted all that water onto Earth's surface. We had a clathrate gun; now we have a ringwoodite gun. The result is the same.

So, like how this series is starting off? This is only the start of what I've got going as a series of demonstrations of the kind of evidence often underplayed by skeptics. Ready for more? This is not the end, it's only the beginning of what I have in store for the dissemination of evidence that, when put together, is enough to flick the legs that even the most atheist of atheists have to stand on right out from under them.