31 December, 2014

The Real SoCal Quake (and Tsunami) Threat: Pico-Style Offshore Blind Thrust Faults

Everyone knows the story of California's rather serious seismic threat. The disaster movies department in Hollywood has even exaggerated it time and time again, with (absolutely unrealistic, scientifically speaking) movies such as "Escape from Los Angeles", "10.5", and, now, one of the biggest movies to come out in the new year effective midnight tonight, "San Andreas" (which is the most realistic of the three, for the most part ― then again, there are some aspects of the trailer, such as A, the scientific impossibility of a quake on the real San Andreas Fault being felt on the East Coast, and B, the depiction of a gaping hole where in reality there's pulverized rock instead, that certainly are criticism points among seismologists as, among other things, unnecessary scaremongering), and of course, time and time again, people actually believe what is supposed to be fiction. Unfortunately, what they don't realize is that the San Andreas isn't California's worst seismic threat, at least from the standpoint of proximity to populated areas. There are other faults, of far more dangerous types besides, that lie not way out in the Mojave Desert and/or Coachella Valley but, instead, either directly underneath densely populated areas, or, worse yet, offshore.

First, for those who are wondering why films such as 10.5 are scientifically improbable: The Moment Magnitude Scale is a base-30 logarithmic one. That is, a magnitude-9 quake is 30 times more powerful than an 8, which is in turn 30 times more powerful than a 7, which is, likewise, 30 times more powerful than a 6, and so on. Based on that scale, even a fault that completely circled Earth would only produce a 10.4 quake. What's more, seismic waves are a result of friction, NOT of mere splitting. Friction does NOT create islands. Rifting, or spreading, does, and rifting, like what is seen in Africa's Great Rift Valley, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (Iceland), the Mediterranean Ridge (Sicily), and the Red Sea, creates volcanoes, not quakes. That's because continental drift occurs on magma, not water... so, when continents spread apart, that magma becomes tempted to rise up and gush out, where it then cools and adds more rock to the tectonic plate(s) in question. Instead of water in the San Andreas Fault, there, once again, is fault gouge... and whenever it slips, more rock is ground up into that flour-like consistency to replace it, and the crack itself continues to remain a hairline while the visible scar on the surface is only visible from either A, the air, or B, space.

Also, the San Andreas is, should I say it again, a strike-slip fault. A strike-slip fault is a kind of fault that slips horizontally, one in which one plate slides one horizontal direction and the other plate slides in the exact opposite horizontal direction relative to it. In the case of the San Andreas, what that means is that the Pacific Plate is sliding northwest and the North American Plate is blindsiding it, drifting toward the southwest. So, in the event of the real "ShakeOut" scenario, Los Angeles would find itself 20 feet to the northwest of where it was prior to the quake in question. Even in the portions where it dives below the sea surface (such as north of San Francisco), it only displaces the sea floor horizontally, never vertically. Therefore, there's only one way the San Andreas can possibly displace even a small portion of the ocean column: by first inducing landslides. That has happened before, in 1906, when the quake that was most notorious for inducing firestorms that, quite literally, burned San Francisco to the ground, also sent Mussel Rock tumbling into the Pacific... but by the time the resulting wave got to San Francisco, it was so small ― I'm talking only a few inches high ― that only tide gauges could detect it. Even then, however, that's an anomaly, not the norm. Most quake-induced landslides happen inland, not on the coast.

Secondary faults, however, are a completely different story. Unlike the San Andreas, most of these auxiliary faults ― those that actually underlie heavily populated areas and are responsible for seismic events of the likes of the Chino Hills, Whittier Narrows, and Northridge quakes ― are buried fault structures with vertical, not horizontal, movement. Such faults are called blind thrust faults by seismologists, and some of them, such as the Puente Hills Fault that the Whittier Narrows quake is now seen by seismologists as having been a partial rupture of, are capable of rivaling the San Andreas in terms of magnitude (7.5 vs. 7.8), and, according to seismologists, some of them can be a whopping 15 times more dangerous than the San Andreas itself, should they rupture in their entirety. The Pico Fault, which set off the Northridge quake, as another example, also only partially ruptured back in 1994 (a full rupture would have put the Northridge quake in the range of 7.2 or higher), and it too is capable of, naturally, causing a great deal of damage. However, that's missing the bottom line: where there's thrust faulting, there's vertical movement. While vertical movement on land is, indeed, bad enough (any buildings, highways, or other structures that happen to lie directly on top of a blind thrust fault, regardless of how well they're built, will find their ground floors, and, by extension, entire structural support dangerously twisted out of proportion), it becomes even worse if that vertical movement happens to occur underwater.

That's because vertical ocean floor displacement happens to result in vertical ocean column displacement, and, ultimately, vertical sea surface displacement. Initially, in the deep ocean, this displacement is far more pronounced on the ocean floor than at the surface. While surface displacement may only initially be a few feet, it spreads out over hundreds of miles in length, because it actually has room to spread out. Because of its length, it can travel at, quite literally, jet speeds: between 400 and 600 miles per hour, capable of traversing the entire Pacific in less than a day. As this hundred-plus-mile-long wave approaches enters shallow water, however, it no longer has the room to spread out that it once had. Consequently, the landmass forces this once fast-moving wave to slow down and grow taller. Ultimately, it ends up manifesting itself as a 100-foot bore wave with a 50-mile-long, seemingly permanent plateau of water on its tail, capable of knocking over every structure in its path and, perhaps most significantly, inundating even 10-mile-inland structures with seawater. Or, to put it in layman terms, the exact same phenomenon that ravaged Indonesia in 2004 and Japan's Sanriku Coast in 2011: a tsunami.

Japanese for "harbor wave", this term was, to be fair, one that, with the exception of some sporadic communities that have used it to describe this wall of water having hit them before, pretty much unused outside of the scientific community, to say the least, for the longest time. That is, until 2004. When people learned that it was the tsunami, not the Indonesian quake itself, that was responsible for the majority of those 220,000 deaths, suddenly more and more of the public began to take notice, and suddenly "tsunami" became a far more popular buzzword than it was before. That public lexicon was repeated in 2011, when Japan's Sanriku coast, including the Tohoku province that includes the major port cities of Sendai and Kessennuma, was also rattled by a 9.0 quake and, only 20 minutes later, bashed by a 130-foot tsunami. What's more, it also has become a point of discussion among Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, and Pacific Northwest coast residents after American geologist Brian Atwater, Japanese geologist and historian Kenji Satake, and dendrochronologist David Yamaguchi all worked together to uncover evidence that a massive quake and tsunami (possibly one that ruptured the entire Cascadia megathrust from one end to the other) had struck the region at 9PM Japanese time (4AM Pacific time) on January 26, 1700. The fact that there are blind thrust faults right here in California, however, pose an even more ominous question: Could an offshore blind thrust fault displace the ocean floor enough off SoCal enough to unleash a killer tsunami within minutes of home?

In fact, that very offshore blind thrust scenario has happened before. The date was the winter solstice, December 21, 1812. At the time, Spanish missionaries were busy building a colony in California, while on the east coast, conflict between the US, Britain, and France was, merely 40 years after the American Revolution, brewing once again. It was business as usual for those Franciscan friars working in La Misión de la Señora Barbara, Virgen y Martír, better known as the twin-steepled Mission Santa Barbara, when, suddenly, the ground began to rumble. The source of the shaking was the Santa Monica Mountains-Santa Cruz Island segment of the Channel Islands blind thrust system, which, until fairly recently, was mostly unknown to seismologists. After the quake, which in itself did a lot of damage to several Spanish missions and presidios, the Native Americans that were being "missioned" out to ― the Chumash ― knew better than to stay put. They gave the Spaniards word that they would drown if they remained in low-lying land, and since the Chumash were there for hundreds, if not thousands, of years longer than the Spaniards, the Spanish missionaries agreed to climb uphill with them to get out of the way.

Then, according to military general and Franciscan friar Luis Gil Taboada, who was commander of the Santa Barbara Presidio at the time, "the sea receded and rose like a high mountain," and then remained that way for several minutes before receding again. Hundreds of miles to the west, boats floated a mile and a half up Gaviota Canyon (that's almost exactly how far inland the No. 18 Kyotoku Maru tuna fishing vessel floated in 2011 ― go figure). Even as far north as San Francisco, Spanish accounts of this killer wave were ominous, where according to presidio commanders up there, several galleons capsized and sank in a harbor where they were supposed to be protected. To the south, in San Diego, damage to galleons and other ships was, likewise, just as severe, and according to reports, ships down there also found themselves beached.

That isn't the only segment of the Channel Islands thrust system either. The Santa Rosa segment hasn't ruptured in almost 250 years, if carbon dating is any guide, and the San Miguel segment, according to seismologists, has gone almost 300 years without a rupture. This, of course, makes those segments, thanks to stress build-up, even more overdue than the Santa Cruz segment. Then, as if that's not enough, there's also the Palos Verdes-Catalina segment of the Compton blind thrust system, which also has gone hundreds of years without a rupture, and perhaps most alarming, the Thirtymile Bank blind thrust fault, which is capable of causing a magnitude-7.6 quake offshore and setting off a tsunami that could threaten downtown San Diego. All of those are easily capable of causing a repeat of the 1812 disaster, at the very least.

So, now we have done an almost complete 180 from Hollywood's depiction. Although the notion of California falling into the ocean is definitely the work of fiction, to the utmost degree, this new evidence builds the case for these auxilary faults being capable of causing the exact opposite problem: the Pacific invading California in the form of a tsunami. In modern times, especially in California, however, "tsunami hazard zone" signs are indeed posted all over the beaches, unlike in 1812, complete with the caption "In case of earthquake, go to high ground or inland," as a stern warning to those who may be tempted to get back in the water after they feel the ground shake. What's more, there are also lifeguards and harbor police that will actually escort people out of harm's way and barricade off the hazard zone until "all clear" is given. Combine that with California's rugged coastline, unlike the coastlines in Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand, where there are a boatload of hills right up next to the coastline that people can easily run to, and loss of life should be minimal.

However, while loss of life shouldn't be too big of a problem, the same cannot be said when it comes to loss of property. The real estate along the coast of California, in places like Newport Beach, Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Ventura, and, yes, Santa Barbara is certainly some of the most expensive real estate in the entire country. Santa Barbara County is the #1 most expensive county ― that's in nationwide terms ― to live in, and Orange County comes in a close second place, with, again, the bulk of the wealth concentrated right on the coast and in the tsunami hazard zone. Add up all those pieces of expensive real estate and send a tsunami into them to wipe that real estate out, and you're looking at, easily, damages in the tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars ― in fact, I wouldn't be too surprised if the damage caused by an event like this ends up totalling higher than the damages caused by Hurricane Katrina, which has since eclipsed the Northridge quake as the costliest natural disaster in US history. Here's hoping people actually heed the warnings so that, at the very least, loss of life can be prevented in an event like this...

30 December, 2014

Mythicists: As Perfectionistic as Robots, as Uneducated as Gangsters

There's an interesting little tenet going around among atheists recently. While the historicity of Jesus is pretty ubiquitous among everything from archaeologists to history textbooks (!) as being real, from a historian's standpoint, there are still those who just don't get it. Instead of resorting to some other form of doubt, such as the claims of Jesus, as a historical figure, being an ordinary human being and not divine (and throwing up several conspiracy theories that all have Christian counter-arguments), they go to an even bigger extreme: science denial. That is, the denial of all the New Testament historians' work that makes the case for, at the very least, Jesus as a real historical figure, and perfectionistically demanding "contemporary" writing about Jesus with absolutely zero regard for variables such as lifespans that can easily build the case for people seeing such events and living long after to tell about them. To be fair, those doubts they have certainly aren't intelligent ones, that's for sure. No, they're the same type of "doubts" as the ones that Mammon-backed climate change deniers have: extremist, militant ones that serve no place in intelligent discussion. There are at least 2 behaviors associated with this denialism that really set examples of this militant stupidity. Starting with the obvious, of course.

The word "contemporary" taken to a perfectionist extreme

Little more can be said about this form of denialism. Those people who use it have an extremely narrow, almost robotic definition of "contemporary" based on the notion that members of some ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome, had very short average lifespans due to rampant disease, unhealthy eating practices, and poor sanitation. Those traits however, couldn't be more inaccurate when talking about ancient Israel. Unlike the former societies, Israel actually had a very strict sanitation code, one that is even reflected in the Old Testament. They wouldn't do a thing without first washing their hands, then proceeding to wash them again after accomplishing such tasks. They disposed of sewage in the utmost faraway of places, either outside Israel's borders, in the Mediterranean (during the sporadic times that they had access to it), or buried in the Negev Desert (a hostile environment for pathogens, to say the least, and one that few, if any, bacteria or viruses can survive in), just to make sure disease did not have even the slightest opportunity to spread. Members of neighboring empires, I'm sure, probably would have the nerve to call the Israelites mysophobes!

As a result of this militant emphasis on sanitation and cleanliness that was unmatched by any other major civilization of the ancient world, it's conceivable that lifespans in Israel, as, once again, reflected in the Old Testament (with people living, according to the Bible's claims, 130 years on average), were far longer than they were in any other ancient civilization. The reason? Many of those other, shorter average lifespans were primarily due to either A, disease, or B, war, with disease, by far, coming out on top. Plagues ravaged many parts of the ancient world, and in places that had loose family morals (unlike Israel, the island of monogamy in a sea of polygamous empires that believed sex was a religion), it's likely STDs such as syphilis, hepatitis B/C, meningococcal disease, gonorrhea, and chlamydia also spread much more rampantly. What's more, there's the poor eating habits of Israel's neighbors, who often lived sedentary lifestyles while eating large, fat-rich meals (I'm looking at you, Rome); thus, while it wasn't widespread in Israel, it's likely that obesity was far more widespread in Israel's neighboring civilizations. If you've ever seen how a Jewish chef cooks his meat, he first drains all the blood possible out of the meat in question. With good reason, of course: blood spreads bloodborne pathogens. Then, as if that's not enough, he also washes any remaining blood out. Then, when it comes time to cook, he cooks it thoroughly for hours while draining all the fat out as it cooks. What's more, they ate small, modest portions, unlike the Romans who threw large, lavish, all-you-can-eat buffets, and their bread, unlike that of their neighboring civilizations, was (and still is) unleavened and made with whole grains. As we all know, if bread is flat, it's not going to fill someone up to the extreme that a leavened piece of bread will; thus, those who eat unleavened bread don't take in as much carbs.

These dietary factors that contributed to the Israelites' long lifespans compared to their surroundings bring us straight to the point: Because Israelites lived longer due to their eating and sanitation habits, the probability of at least some of them having lived long enough to still write about Jesus 30 or 40 years after seeing Him is much greater. Thus, this variable ― lifespan ― is a variable that builds the case for these demands for "contemporary" evidence being extremely outlandish ones. Alright, moving on...

Using uneducated language in what is supposed to be educated discussion

I have written a long critique of this practice before, but they still don't get it. It's the old adage: actions speak louder than words. Or, in this case, it's the adage of "language speaks louder than claims of intelligence": If you claim to be an intelligent person, act like it! I've seen several examples of atheist mythicists ― at least 5 of them, and counting ― claiming to be intelligent skeptics while at the same time throwing S- and F-bombs at Christians every chance they get, as if they're just trying to make themselves look uneducated. Instead of responding to our intelligent arguments with equally intelligent counter-arguments (as a scientist would do), they respond with a simple "F*** you" or "That's B******t" in a blatant attempt at (or demonstration of) street-grade immaturity that is much more typical of uneducated thugs who spend their lives looking for rival gangster blood than of scientists or professors. It certainly is enough to make anyone who sees that behavior want to question its users' acclaimed intelligence, to say the least.

Not only is this behavior uneducated-looking, but it's also immature-looking. It's the language that middle-schoolers use. It's something that people use just to bully people, to make themselves look macho instead of making themselves look intelligent. Yet their claims are the exact opposite: "F*** you, you fool!" "B******t! I'm far more intelligent than you!" and on and on they go, with those same immature attitudes that they have in common with fighting teenagers. Just like a bully, an atheist like this is just trying to get a reaction out of us, in the most immature of fashions. What atheists like these don't realize is that we Christians, by judging their actions, certainly know who the real fool is. The real fool is the one who acts in a manner inconsistent with his claims about himself. What part of "Hypocrite!" do these atheists not understand? Yeah, exactly.


Bottom line, this atheist tirade against Christianity has gone from civil discussion to an immature man's punchline. They won't quit. No, as if atheism is itself a religion, they take this discussion to new lows, deliberately trying to make themselves look like fools. Until they can learn to act civil, well, blog posts like this one that point out their hypocrisy must continue to get posted...

25 November, 2014

Coachella Valley: The Next Black Sea?

I was once skeptical of the possibility of a major hurricane directly impacting Southern California. After all, the waters off the coast are indeed simply too cold to sustain hurricanes... and the only ones that manage to veer north usually move too slowly over those cold waters and fizzle... with a few rare exceptions, of course, and by the time those rare exceptions manage to reach SoCal, they're only tropical storms to category 1 hurricanes at best. Likewise, if they manage to take the trek up the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez, which is indeed some of the warmest water in the entire Eastern Pacific basin, with summertime SSTs reaching as high as 90°F on a regular basis, they'd still make landfall in northern Mexico, and have to cross a lot of land to reach SoCal. Or so I thought.

The first clue that I managed to dig up suggesting that the Gulf could pose a hurricane threat, at least to the Inland Empire, came from looking up the elevation of the surface of the Salton Sea. The reading? 237 feet below sea level. That alone raises a bright red flag: Even New Orleans was only about 10 feet below sea level when Katrina hit. What's more, the entire Coachella Valley, more or less, is a bowl, and it's the site of an ancient lake bed that once filled the entire region... the ancient lake, if I'm not mistaken, stretched from what is now Mexicali all the way to what is now Palm Springs. That's one massive lake... and the fact that its floor is now the site of a major population center should be enough to freak out anyone.

Then, I managed to Google " 'sea level rise' 'Coachella Valley' " (inside quotes included, as double quotes). I noticed a KCET article that was rather disturbing, depicting what would happen if climate change raised the level of the Gulf by only a few feet. Then, I switched over to the images tab. That's when I noticed something very disturbing, in regards to the Coachella Valley's only lifeline:

As you can see, the only high ground between the Salton Sea and the Gulf of California is, at most, only about 7 or 8 feet above sea level. What's more, the 20-foot line ― the height of a typical major hurricane storm surge, especially in a warm, shallow environment like the Gulf of California ― is almost the entire width of the Gulf itself. A storm surge of that size eroding a path into a depression like the Salton Sink? Yeah, it's almost impossible to fathom such a catastrophe. You're looking at a region from Mexicali all the way to Palm Springs being completely submerged.

What's more, as previously mentioned, SSTs in the upper-80's to near 90 degrees are well within rapid deepening territory. When Odile managed to traverse the northern Gulf as a tropical storm back in September 2014, guess what happened? The storm grew from a weak to a strong one, with, at their peak, about 60mph winds, before making a second landfall on the northeastern shore of the Gulf. Thankfully, however, Odile had weakened to a tropical storm from, at the first landfall, a Category 4 hurricane, prior to even entering the Gulf... and what's more, this storm could have been much worse.

Remember, what was steering Odile away was an area of high pressure, whose western edge (and clockwise rotation) was already at its easternmost point and began to move westward, keeping Odile over Baja. Had Odile gotten sucked into that high only a day... or two... or three earlier, so that Odile made its first clipper landfall in Puerto Vallarta before moving up the Gulf, I guarantee you Hurricane Odile would have been a 5 by the time it reached the northern Gulf... and then, as the high began to build again, it would have pushed Odile northwestward, resulting in Odile hooking to the west instead of the east. That makes Odile our closest call so far to this.

In fact, those warm Gulf of Mexico waters in the notorious Loop Current that intensified Katrina were also around the same temperature: near 90°F. The difference, however, is that those extreme SSTs, while incredibly anomalous in the Gulf of Mexico, are commonplace in the Gulf of California. So then why haven't there been rapidly intensifying hurricanes in the Gulf of California before? There's a simple explanation for that: it's got a lot more land in the way. Most of the storms that have managed to go up the Gulf have first run into either the Baja Peninsula (mountainous terrain) or mainland Mexico (more mountainous terrain). You need the steering patterns to be near-perfect for this to happen: a strong, blocking high over the western Gulf of Mexico to the east, and, most importantly, a clockwise flow around the high that pushes moisture directly over the Mojave Desert, where the thermal low then grabs it, intensifies due to convection, and rotates, locking that blocking high in place. Then, you need a hurricane that takes a near-perfect path, so that it could get caught up in that, clipping the headland near Puerto Vallarta, entering the Gulf of California, rapidly intensifying, and making its second landfall just to the west of the Colorado River Delta. Yeah, it's not a question of if, it's a question of when... and when it does happen, the results would be disastrous indeed.

Not only would such a storm be disastrous for the Coachella Valley, but, if it is caught by that thermal low and takes that left turn as an intense hurricane, it could also remain a category 3 or higher monster even as it exits the region, provided it misses the San Jacinto and/or San Bernardino mountains, and enters the Los Angeles Basin. The resulting wind (and even tornado) damage, not to mention torrential rainfall, could pose even more problems. Remember, if that basin fills, that water is going to come in contact with not only the hot Salton Sea but also the hot ground. That will in turn add more heat to the incoming storm surge water, moving over a region that is, mind you, 237 feet below sea level, and that heat could then continue to sustain the hurricane as it passes through that inland sea that it creates. So, it would end up continuing to rapidly intensify as it makes that westward hook. Yeah, you can see where this is going: a recipe for disaster indeed.

29 October, 2014

10th of Av, 26th of December: Divine Retribution As Hard Evidence Against Atheism

One of the key questions atheists use, and I've clearly noticed this myself, is something kind of ridiculous: they use the category error of asking for geological and/or historical evidence of a God whose kingdom is clearly "not of this world". They go and claim that in order to believe, God must be a physical, tangible being and not the invisible Holy Spirit that He really is. What they don't realize, however, is what happens in areas where persecution occurs: catastrophes line up so closely with Jewish and Christian holidays that mere coincidence becomes all the more improbable compared to just believing.

Av 9, A.D. 70. Roman authorities get word of a massive revolt involving thousands of Israelites, some Jewish, some newly Christian, wanting to get even with the empire that longs so much to want to rule them. In response, they send a massive new army to crush the rebellion, and the army marches on the very temple that they worship in. Under the command of General Titus, who would become another Roman emperor a few years later, this army burns the Temple, crucifies rebelling men by the hundreds of thousands, and kidnaps over 30,000 Israelite women and children for use as slaves, forced to either work themselves to death or, worse, offer sexual services and serve as baby factories for the Roman elite. Since Pompeii and Herculaneum were both resort towns that the emperor and his wealthy servants loved to hang out in, as wicked as they were, most of this slavery and forced servitude also happened in the Pompeii region. Throughout that very region, of course, there have also been countless graffiti findings that warn their Roman captors of utter destruction ("poinium", "cherem") to come, including graffiti that manages to analogize Pompeii and Herculaneum with Sodom and Gomorrah. That destruction wouldn't be too long in coming.

Av 10, A.D. 79. It seems like just another day in the elite Roman playground that is the Pompeii region, and the slavery and sexual exploitation of Jews and Christians is as prevalent as ever. Then, suddenly, the ground begins to rumble. The mountain above them ― Vesuvius ― begins to blow off some steam... but by this time, it's too late. The volcano blows its top. A huge eruption column blows ash 20 miles into the sky. Day suddenly turns to night. Ash begins to rain down on this elite Roman playground for hours, and the Roman elite start to wonder what the heck is going on... ah, but the Christian and Jewish captives knew all along that this was payback for what the Romans did to them in Jerusalem nine years earlier. Then, it happens. The volcano becomes exhausted of all its magma reserves, and the eruption column becomes too heavy. It then collapses as a series of massive pyroclastic flows. Herculaneum, upwind of the column, is the first to go. Pompeii follows. Over 16,000 of the Roman elite are killed, while the slaves, shielded from the ash by thick underground bunkers, manage to make it out alive the way the prisoners in Saint-Pierre did when Mount Pelee erupted. After completely burying Pompeii in ash, the pyroclastic flow proceeds to blast its way into the Bay of Naples, where it displaces water. The resulting tsunami devastates the port city of Stabiae, which is probably the most important port city in the entire Roman Empire, since it's the closest port city to Rome. Without it, Rome's residents are helplessly marooned off from the rest of the empire. A year later, in A.D. 80, and certainly not within enough time for Stabiae to be rebuilt, an urban conflagration breaks out in Rome. With no port of Stabiae to get supplies and people in and out of the city, the city burns to the ground, taking tends of thousands more Romans with it. The destruction of Stabiae also bears a stark resemblance to another, more modern act of divine retribution.

It begins in a country where Islam is the official religion and Christianity is brutally repressed under dictator Suharto's regime for over 20 years, and continues long afterward as the radicalized Muslims that Suharto forms an alliance with suddenly roam free. That country is Indonesia. It's a nation where an uncle of mine is in fact a missionary, managing to overcome countless acts of violence to save people. In Indonesia, most Christians happen to live in the islands surrounding Western New Guinea and Timor, which is basically cut in half between Indonesia and the young independent Christian nation of Timor-Leste. Most of the radical, Christian-killing Muslims, in groups such as Jemmah Islamiyah and the notoriously ISIS-like, caliphate-wannabe Free Aceh Movement, are concentrated in the main islands of Java and Sumatra. It's here that radical Muslim groups go on a rampage against Christians. They ransack churches. They attack Christians in the most horrific means imaginable, mostly through either beheading or burning alive. People celebrating Christian holidays, like Christmas, are especially easy targets for their brutal oppression. Then came the day that the Judeo-Christian God would once again have His payback, also with timing relative to a persecuted holiday that should be noted: December 26, 2004.

It was on this day that a killer subduction zone, the Sunda Megathrust, began to slip, epicentered approximately 50 miles off the Acehnese coast. The fault then continues to rupture north and south along a good chunk of its length, finally stopping as a 600-mile-long rupture. Seismic waves radiate out from this rupture in all directions, lasting as long as 6 minutes in duration. The moment magnitude of the quake is registered by seismologists as 9.1. During this hellishly long shaking, numerous unreinforced masonry structures ― including most mosques, which are notoriously URM ― are extensively damaged or destroyed, and falling objects cause numerous injuries, becoming strewn all over the place. Minutes later, the Indian Ocean suddenly retreats from the coast of extreme northwestern Indonesia, where the most Islamic extremism is concentrated.

Then, an ominous white crest appears on the horizon. It's a tsunami. The ground that Banda Aceh is on is almost perfectly flat, and there's no high ground for several miles. The tsunami uses these fallen unreinforced masonry objects as weapons, smashing countless buildings already damaged by the quake and using the resulting debris to then smash more buildings, ultimately flattening the entire city. Buildings that survived the quake soon become moved, displaced, flattened ruins. Most importantly, however, these people had absolutely no clue what a tsunami was or how to survive it. The result? Of the 220,000+ casualties in this dreaded 2004 disaster, over 150,000 were in the region where the Jemmah Islamiyah and GAM insurgencies were most active, in the proposed capital city of the separatist caliphate, Banda Aceh, and of those 150,000, a good 30,000 or so were indeed members of those radical Muslim groups who always loved persecuting the Christians that they thought were a nuisance. Most Christians, however, were in eastern Indonesia, shielded from the tsunami by the main islands of Sumatra and Java, and were almost all completely unscathed.

There's clearly an interesting pattern here. Geology can only involve guesswork as to when events like these might occur, even today. Even with all the modern technology we have at our disposal, no one in their right mind would ever come close to saying that "this quake will happen on precisely this day" or "this volcano will certainly erupt on such and such a day". There's just no way. For the timing of these events to suddenly tweak itself so perfectly as to, in both cases, occur exactly one day after a Jewish or Christian holiday in both cases, that certainly can't happen blindly. Some outside force, like, oh, I don't know, the Holy Spirit, must be at work, manipulating the timing, either delaying an eruption so it builds up a boatload of pressure and goes off as a much bigger eruption on precisely the date it's predestined to, or delaying an earthquake so that it becomes much bigger and also goes off at a predestined date. If these events could happen on a whim, that's exactly what they would do: occur on a whim, which would mean frequently and subtly. The fact that these events are happening in such perfect alignment with brutally suppressed Judeo-Christian holidays certainly can't be mere coincidence.

19 October, 2014

"Is The Nexus 7 a Phone or a Tablet? I'm confused," says the customer...

October 19, 2014. I must admit, this post is a few days late... but this past Wednesday, Google unveiled not just the two rumored Nexus devices (the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9), but three — if you count the Nexus Player, that is. Since I've got a Chromecast and a cable box, along with only two HDMI ports, well, they're all in use... but the fact that the Nexus Player is Google Cast Ready AND supports Android TV apps as well should be a good selling point. Anyhow, in 2012, we had the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10. In 2013, the Nexus 5 replaced the Nexus 4... ah, but the Nexus 7 was simply replaced with another Nexus 7, and the Nexus 5 came on board, replacing the Nexus 4. Now, in 2014, the Nexus line-up got a total makeover, with the Nexus 6 replacing the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 9 replacing both the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10, respectively.

For 2015, however, this poses a bit of a dilemma. If Google decides to simply replace the Nexus 6 with another Nexus 6 the way they did with the Nexus 7, then there won't be any problems... but if they decide to actually increment the number once again, they would end up reusing the Nexus 7 name... for a phone!

This presents a myriad of problems. For starters, just like the title states, it would confuse customers a whole lot... and confused customers hurt business. Beyond that, however, there's also the size factor: sure, a tablet with a 7-inch screen is fine, but a phone with a 7-inch screen?!?! Talk about something that just can't be handled. You couldn't put a phone that big in your front pockets at all (only your back ones), and what's more, you can't pick up a phone that big to make phone calls without using two hands either, which means, nope, if you're in a dire emergency and need to make a phone call quickly with one hand, good luck.

Even something like a Nexus 6.5 would be problematic. Why? Because the names in the line are often rounded down or up to the nearest whole number... which in that case is also 7. That leaves Google with only two options: Either go Apple-style and treat the generations of Nexus 6 like the generations of iPod Touch, releasing three, four, even 5 generations of phones with the same name (which is a good one IMHO) or simply replace the Nexus line altogether with a turnkey solution for OEMs and carriers in the US the way they already did with Android One in India — or, in other words, Project Silver redux, which would seriously increase the adoption rates of new Android releases on a prompt basis, which is the holy grail of fragmentation reduction.

Let's hope this worst case scenario doesn't happen, shall we? Of the two above options, however, I personally would love to see Project Silver manifest itself much more so than I would multiple generations of Nexus 6. Why? Because of the crushing impact it would have on Android fragmentation: by forcing all the phones on the market to stay on the latest version of Android and get updated on a prompt basis, version fragmentation would be, for the most part, a thing of the past. Then again, I need more opinions here. Would you rather want multiple versions of Nexus 6, or would you be fine with every Android phone on the market being updated on a prompt Nexus-like basis?

17 October, 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins and Their Real-Life Consequences, Part 2: Greed

In the first post in this series, the consequences of lust were discussed... naturally. Now, however, it's time to move on... to another sin of excess. A sin that is often committed by people whom we Christians (unfortunately) share a political party with. It's an obsession with material wealth, a sin where instead of controlling our possessions, we let our possessions control us. That sin is greed. Why is greed a sin, you may ask? Well, while some of greed's real-life consequences simply involve making the "least of these" angry (and marginalizing the greedy from the world), others, like the first one I'm about to go over, are capable of literally ushering in an end to the world in ways that the nuclear alarmists of the 1960's never saw coming.

Climate Change

It's definitely human nature for some Christians to bring climate change down to the level of evolution or claim that they're studying it because they don't have anything else to study in an attempt to demonize the atheistic science community... but in all actuality, the amount of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere has increased to a 20-million-year high as a result of human activity. Which, of course, begs the question: What human activity? The fossil fuel industry is definitely one where greed is rampant and widespread, to say the least. By collaborating with the auto and power-generation industries to create dependence on itself, the oil industry is easily one of the wealthiest ― and greediest ― industries in the world, and up until very recently Exxon was #1 in the world in terms of market cap. Until, of course, Apple and Google managed to reach the top... but still, oil greed ― and oil dependence ― continues to persist. What do those oil companies use that vaguely robber-baron-like fortune to do? More often than not, it's to pay politicians to deny climate change, which is to say "I'm going to bribe someone in science/academia to deny the consequences of my sin so I can keep on sinning," and also to send politicians into office that give them tax breaks while going to great lengths to squash competition. Thanks to the fact that CO2 emissions have also gone on to trigger methane release, well, it may already be too late to avoid this particular consequence of greed, but if not, then it's time to let the world know that it's our own sin that's responsible. As for competition-squashing, well, that brings us to our next point.

The "least of these" wanting to rebel

While, I admit, envy is just as much of a sin as greed (will definitely be going over it at a later time), greed in one group of people often triggers envy in another. Remember what the initial cause of the American Revolution was? "Taxation without representation?" Yup, it's the British king's own greed that pissed us off. Think that's always good? Not so fast: The same thing happened in Russia. Tsar Nicholas was notorious for his endless pursuit of material possessions. So too were nearly all the tsars prior to him. The US and Russia were the last two countries in the world to end slavery. In the case of the US, it was the African-Americans who were the slaves. In the case of Russia, it was the common Russians who were the serfs — or, in other words, slaves ― for nearly three centuries. The common people suffered, while the tsars lived in outright luxury... until, of course, the Bolsheviks came along. Little did they realize, communism would be just as bad as tsardom/serfdom... and thanks to the rise of dictator after dictator after dictator that came with the communist regime, it wasn't until the 1990's that Russians began to enjoy the freedoms that us Americans have been enjoying since the 1700's. Think that can't happen in a democracy? Think again. When China's Qing emperors were ousted around the turn of the 20th century, a 50-year democracy ensued. At that time, those who ran for office began to, during the Roaring 20's and what not, amass huge amounts of wealth. The result was something not too dissimilar to the situation we Americans had during the 19th century: a situation where a select few held a large swath of China's wealth. People like Mao Zedong and the gang were obviously fed up with this, and revolted. The democracy was then banished to Taiwan, and now Taiwan is democratic while mainland China is just as communist and freedom-lacking as ever. Speaking of the massive economic inequality gap, that brings us to our third and last point.


Let's be honest: Would you rather hang out with only 1% of the population or with 99% of it? Hmmm? I don't know about you, but I'd definitely choose my time with other people ― and with fellow Christians ― over my time with material possessions hands-down. Unfortunately, greed is a sin that tends to cut off its victims from the rest of the world. Unless the greedy start using some of that money to help their friends and family out, they're going to find themselves in a pickle. That is, a pickle where everyone they used to love suddenly hates them for enjoying all the wealth in the world while letting their own friends and family suffer. Thankfully, most of us who aren't compulsive hoarders (or disposophobes) aren't that dumb... but for those who are, this consequence is clearly one that's bound to affect them.

Then again, as early Christian monk Evagrius Ponticus has clearly stated, it's disposophobia that often results in greed. Greed is a sin of fear. It's a sin that's born out of uncertainty, of not knowing what the future holds. Because the greedy are often disposophobic (or, technically, phtocheiophobic ― irrationally fearful of poverty) when it comes to the future, their response is to want all the money and possessions in the world. Little do they realize, when it comes to only wanting more and more, the risks clearly outweigh the benefits.

16 October, 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins And Their Real-Life Consequences, Part 1: Lust

When people think of issues like sin, what comes to mind? More often than not, they use it (and particularly the medieval mistakes made in response) as an excuse to criticize the church. They go and vehemently attack the church for oppressing people, for burning people at the stake for heresy, and what else they may throw as a form of ad hominem fallacy that's directed not at current behaviors but at ancient history that they're unwilling to put behind them. What they don't realize, however, is that these sins have self-imposed consequences that can sometimes result in far more pain over far more prolonged periods than even getting beheaded or burned at the stake can cause. One of those sins couldn't be more debatable. It's one that has marginalized people from the church, often to the point where it becomes a clear focal point in the conservative-vs-liberal debate. That sin is lust, and its self-imposed consequences do indeed range from painful to deadly. Let's start with the obvious:

Sexually-transmitted infection

It's no debate. It's a scientific fact: Sex spreads disease. It spreads chlamydia. It spreads Hep-C. It spreads HIV/AIDS. This is especially true if it goes unchecked. When people have sex, they exchange bodily fluids like saliva, breast milk, semen, feces (!), uterine fluid, and what not... and of course, those fluids all contain bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, yes, and toxins to top it all off. Of those bodily fluids, the one that contains the most pathogens, by far, is obviously feces (which have something like 50 times the concentration and diversity of pathogens compared to that found in urine, semen, and vaginal discharge combined) ― that's why homosexual males tend to be 20 times more likely to contract, not to mention fall to, STDs than anyone else ― but that's another topic for another post. Anyhow, when you have sex out of wedlock, you're going to get sick, and, if that sickness is left untreated, you're likely to die. Then, of course, any offspring you may have may also get that disease... and if the disease you give them is something other than AIDS (which they build up natural immunity to in the womb), they're lucky if they live to be 5. Speaking of offspring, that brings us to our next section.

Illegitimate children

There are indeed plenty of birth control products out there. Everything from birth control pills to condoms to surgically implanted birth control devices have been put out there as means of keeping the possibility of having an illegitimate child to a minimum. However, there's a clear issue here: None of those methods are ever 100% accurate at preventing illegitimate pregnancies. The only way to be 100% sure you're never going to have a child out of wedlock is to not have sex until wedlock. Condoms can tear, and when they tear, yup, you've just given semen free reign to leak into the vaginal cavity and merge with an egg to form a child. Likewise, birth control pills can wear off... and they only really stop about 50% of the hormones responsible for ovulation anyway. Surgically implanted devices, although they are 99% accurate, are still costly and there's still a chance they can come loose, causing extreme pain, yes, and pregnancy. When that does happen, there's a financial burden: how is that child going to be fed? How many diapers are you going to need to buy? A whole lot... which can total thousands of dollars per child. You say you have a choice to abort that child? That's tantamount to saying that you have a choice to commit genocide: it's not a democratic choice, it's a totalitarian one, committed out of, yes, terminological hypocrisy all around. Don't have sex in the first place, and you won't feel a need to make that choice.


Ever wonder what makes stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine so addictive? They inhibit the enzymes that break dopamine down, resulting in excess dopamine being released throughout the nervous system. Well, guess what? Excess dopamine is also released during sexual arousal, according to a scientific study. Excess dopamine overwhelms ― and decreases the number of ― dopamine receptors. Regardless of what the source of that excess dopamine is, there's still excess dopamine. The result? You create a scenario that makes sex just as addictive as cocaine. Once you start, you can't stop. It becomes a habit... a habit that spreads STDs, gets people illegitimately pregnant, and, yes, kills.

So, that's it for the consequences of lust ― which is clearly the sin behind abortion/gay activism all around. The driving force is clearly the sin of lust, just lurking, waiting to corrupt the world and bring it to its doom. Treating it with activist mentality is treating it with the absolute wrong light, besides: instead of getting rid of the problem, they go and make the problem worse. Little do they realize, lust has a way of striking back, like a mousetrap with bait on it, just waiting to spring on them.

02 October, 2014

156 years later, the 1858 San Diego Hurricane still raises eyebrows

156 years ago today, a hurricane which formed off the coasts of Mexico and Central America several days prior took a very unusual course. Most of them either A, move westward, or B, move slowly over cold water, which thus has enough time to make them die out. Not this one. After missing the southern tip of Baja, this menace was picked up by a trough and swung rapidly northward. Having been a category 3 storm at peak intensity, it weakened down to a category 1, then briefly re-intensified to a 2 due to the pressure gradient influence of a ridge behind that trough (not to mention a patch of unusually warm El Niño water)... then back down to a 1, dangerously close to, where? None other than San Diego, California:

This monster hurricane caused damage that we can't even fathom today. It tore roofs off houses. It created a storm surge that overtopped Coronado Island, blasted across San Diego Harbor, flooded a good chunk of the city (well, actually, small town at the time), and shoved three large US Navy schooners, the USS Plutus, the USS Lovely Flora, and the USS X.L., completely aground. That's a key point: Schooners aren't just boats, they're massive ships. In order to completely beach (!) a 200-foot schooner with the massive keel that it has, much less three of them, you need at least a 15-foot storm surge. On top of all that, rain fell in buckets, enough to overtop rain gauges and cause normally dry, ephemeral riverbeds to rapidly overflow their banks. Due to the long time it took news to travel back in 1858, however, the folks on the east coast didn't even know about the damage until several months later.

When I bring up this storm, people are literally freaked out... and of course, I don't blame them. Why? Because if it happened before, it will happen again. What makes such a storm so destructive for only a category 1 hurricane is the sheer size. Remember what kind of storm surge Hurricane Sandy caused? Sandy was also a category 1, but the wind radius, just like the wind radii of most intense East Pacific hurricanes, was a good 500 miles out from the center. That is key to a storm surge catastrophe that could make Marie seem like a mere dress rehearsal.

See, when hurricanes are forced to move away from warm water at speeds too fast to dissipate in time, they begin to compensate for the lack of fuel by spreading out their wind diameters. A storm that's only 200 miles across at peak intensity can end up expanding to 1000 miles across when it gets to California (or New York)... and likewise, one that's 500 miles across at peak intensity can end up being 2000 miles across in that same case. The larger the storm's radius, the more water it displaces. Translation: it's a recipe for disaster. Something halfway between Sandy and Ike in terms of storm surge impacts.

Then, we come to the second major impact: rain. Rain that can amount to a staggering 2 inches per hour — on par with the kind of rainfall rates that Hurricane Irene brought to New York and New Jersey. When that gets dumped on mountainous terrain, guess what that causes? Extreme flooding. In 1976, our neighbors to the east — in Ocotillo — got a glimpse of that potential for catastrophic flooding when Hurricane Kathleen made landfall in Baja and moved north across the border as a tropical storm. As much as 14 inches of rain fell in a matter of hours, causing a dry creek bed that flows toward Ocotillo from the Baja mountains to suddenly explode into a 40-foot wall of water that blasted its way through the town, flattening everything in its path. When the storm was over, it looked as if a tsunami came through the town. Expect a repeat of that in multiple locations should a repeat of the 1858 storm occur.

And that's the thing: history does repeat itself. It's not a question of if, but WHEN SoCal will get hit again. Also, it's El Niño events like the ones in 1997, 2009, and, yes, 2014 that tend to result in far more powerful East Pacific hurricanes... not to mention, of course, that during the early fall months, the winter storms also begin to pick up strength and have more of a tendency to fling storms northward. Santa Ana pressure gradients also play a part, as do those whisps of forced evaporation that Santa Ana winds pick up when they hit the water: they not only instantly transform the Santa Ana air from dry to moist, but they also increase the salinity of the water and force it to temporarily downwell. Hopefully it's not too late. If it is, however, better hunker down...

29 September, 2014

Profanity: Atheist flaming in its most hypocritically uneducated, despicable form

UPDATE 11/19/2014: Now the offender described below isn't the only person to break this rule. Back in October, John Weeks (who since changed his G+ profile to the pseudonym "mr pervert [sic]") actually had the nerve to post an ad hominem comment. Only in this case, not only was it a profanity-laced personal attack, it also was directed in an openly blasphemous manner (i.e. toward the God I worship) in a deliberate attempt at blatant irrationality. Little does this guy realize, just like Tanner, he's only making himself look like an idiot by using those ad hominem attacks and posting (impossible to carry out, at that) profanity-laced threats with blasphemous overtones.

Original post commences below.

Normally I don't call out people's names, but this name is one of particular interest: As many of you have heard, I successfully got YouVersion's Android app working on my Chromebook... and, of course, posted about it. This morning. A full 8 hours ago. After the whole day was nearly spent and it was almost midnight, some atheist bigot by the name of Tanner Hoyt (possibly a college student from the UK ― go figure) commented on that post in an attempt to start a fight. Well, no surprise: He couldn't even say one sentence without using a profane word to describe my accomplishment. So, I responded with copied text from this post along with a link to it. Again, no dice: A second reply was made, and this time, the entire paragraph he posted was literally 50% profanity... and ironically enough, the last words of this comment, directed towards a person whose vocabulary is 10 times as educated as his, was "get an education." Get the hypocritical picture here?

That right there is probably the single worst example of atheist hypocrisy I can possibly use. Do educated people use profanity? EVER? No. Profanity is from the streets, not from science or academia. What scientists and professors use are large, complex words and acronyms like the ones I often, if not always, use. We're talking about some gang-banger here who has the nerve to call someone out, and seeing this guy's profanity, you can be darn sure I was laughing my head off at him the whole time. Had this guy been using the same common sense that academics and scientists actually use, well, this discussion would have never gotten to the point of blocking. Anyhow, that's just what happened: those atheists who call people fools and yet hypocritically act immaturely, using street language instead of academic language, are those who are, when they cross my path, most likely to get reported to Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and just about every other social network I have an account on as hate speech accounts. So, it's done. Problem solved.

Then again, even if this idiot is banned from every social network in the world, well, he's still the same person. He kept calling the Holy Spirit this "imaginary deity" in a circular fashion (ah, circular reasoning... another thing academic atheists call fallacious, and yet look at this idiocy) and of course lacing those statements with more profanity to make himself look even more immature. While the Judeo-Christian God certainly cannot be seen nor heard, you can be 100% sure, from personal experience, His presence can be felt. I had just such an experience with fellow believers on a church retreat this past summer.

Saturday, June 28, 2014. Big Bear Lake, CA. Activity: Action Zipline. This was my first time being on any ziplining adventure... and of course, being a first-timer, I was indeed freaking out. There was a sway bridge at the top, with planks spaced 6 inches apart, draped 200 feet above the already 9000-foot-high mountain slope, that was indeed enough to freak anyone out... but of course, that was the least of my worries. The only brakes we had, for slowing down so we don't crash into the poles when we transitioned from one platform to the next, were a pair of thick leather gloves. Tap too lightly and you won't stop in time. Tap (or grab) too hard, and you come to an abrupt stop so quickly that your arm feels like it's coming off. It was risky business, and of course, it was enough to freak any first-timer out. So, wait, what went on? Instead of getting too agitated, I began to pray.

That's when everything changed: The minute, the MINUTE I started praying, a slight breeze began to blow. Hello! If this were only a "natural" breeze without any divine intervention, the wind would have free reign to blow whenever it felt like it. Instead, here's the key point: it was blowing as I was praying! The fact that I pray and as my prayer is being said, the wind happily dances to my prayer's tune cannot possibly be mere coincidence, not in the least bit. In the Pentecost story (Acts 2:1-4), before any "tongues of fire" appear, there's that very same phenomenon: a wind picks up. It's far more violent in that account, but it's still the same thing: that wind, that's the very presence of the Holy Spirit comforting me in that environment of fear as I was praying. If it weren't for that soft, gentle, divine whisper of encouragement, which motivated me to finish the job, it's likely I wouldn't have made it down without needing to be airlifted. Well, all I've got to say is, thank the Father, thank the Son, and thank the Holy Spirit that it didn't get that far.

As another example, during the winter of 2011-12, there was a time when I was in a similarly wild area: a two-lane road, which happened to pass right near the Serrano Creek wilderness trail in Lake Forest, CA. I was living in an apartment complex very close to the wildland-urban interface at the time (didn't move to Mission Viejo until the following fall), and to walk to the OCTA bus stop to go to school, I had to walk down a stretch of that two-lane road that runs right through a section of the protected wilderness area that Serrano Creek runs through. That winter, however, I was being given mixed messages about the educational situation I was in, and the only thing I could do at the time was pray about it as I walked. So I did.

As I was praying, I must admit, I tried my absolute hardest not to break down in tears, being a guy (and as the whole "philosophy of the world", as my pastor puts it, says, men never cry... ah, but then again, Jesus sure did, and that tends to throw that claim right out the window), yet still came dangerously close to doing so. Well, suddenly, those tears of sorrow were about to become tears of joy. Why? What I was praying for was guidance. I was praying out of gratitude, that because of Him, I wasn't that angry, emotional short-fuse I used to be... and as soon as those tears of joy came out, so too did the rain fall.

Again, there's a pattern here: if the God I was praying to wasn't real, would He be crying those same tears of joy that I was? No! Yet that's exactly what was happening. It was Romans 12:15 in action... from the divine perspective, of course. And as I continued to rejoice and those tears of joy continued to come out, the rain fell harder, and harder, and harder, until suddenly it became an outright downpour of this water from the heavens. Eventually, this downpour, which I was constantly rejoicing in, knowing that it was indeed divine intervention that was causing it, got so powerful that it caused some mud to slide down the hill behind me... at which point I was already high up the hill, almost at the bus stop, and of course, the rain let up as I got on the bus... so when I finally got back home, the mudslide failed to cross the road, and thus failed to cause any road hazards. It was a never-ending feedback of this awesome experience of feeling the presence of the God that the atheists would rather deny than experience for themselves. Talk about missing out on what true fun really is.

That brings us right back to the profanity. I can talk about these experiences, why? Because they are indeed ones I had first-hand. And notice how I don't use a single shred of profanity to describe the atheists the way they describe the God I worship? By abstaining from profanity use and resorting to the off-the-chart vocabulary, which was at college-level when I was a mere freshman in high school, I am not only claiming to be more educated than the person I'm arguing with, but also, here's the key, acting just as professional as I claim to be. I, along with nearly all truly moral Christians, clearly have an advantage over these immature bigots, by actually walking the walk in the argument and setting an example of how an educated person should act. That's something that someone who uses profanity-laced ad hominem attacking someone's perceived education level can absolutely never do. So, let's ignore, block, and report them, shall we? They're absolutely not worth the trouble... even if they end up rotting in hell because of the trouble they often put us through.

Speaking of hell, there was an atheist of the same type as Tanner ― you know, that immature, dirty-mouthed type ― who, according to a near-death experience that he claims he had, literally went to hell and back. His name? Howard Storm, a graduate art professor, and, yes, devout atheist. He was a man who was always willing to let his anger get the better of him instead of learn how to control it... and being an atheist, he thought he could make up whatever morals he wanted to. Then, he took a trip to Paris in 1985. He downed a bunch of alcohol and food, and what did he end up with? A gastrointestinal perforation, spilling stomach acid into his abdominal cavity, that ended up making him temporarily flatline. He claims he felt his spirit literally lifting away from his body, and, perhaps most significantly, he claims he saw the body that he was being pulled away from, along with his crying ex-wife next to his bed. Then, he claims to have heard voices calling his name. They kept calling him forth, and he thought they were surgeons... but there was no surgery; all they got to was a cold, damp space, and he refused. That's when he claims there was a hellishly multiplied version of an MS-13 initiation ritual: biting, kicking, punching, every possible attack from all sides that he could have imagined... until he thought back to his childhood, and prayed.

Suddenly, he claims a bright beam of light dispersed those demonic attacking beings, and in an instant, he begins to get a lesson. He claims to have gone on to meet Him who he prayed to, and claims that guardian angels began to reveal to him that his achievements on Earth meant absolutely nothing. He was, according to his claims, commanded to go back and change people's lives and love them unconditionally. Suddenly, he ended up back in the hospital bed, alive and well... literally almost the equivalent of a modern-day resurrection story. Well, I've got news for those who direct anger at Christians: Do you want to end up in hell like Professor Storm? No? Then get your act together. Because dirty mouths directed against Christians in an ad hominem fashion deserve dirty punishment.

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.

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.

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!

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!