I am betrayed throughout the day by a nagging sense that I should be doing something different.

When a person who has been in recovery starts drinking again, and they take up the ‘normal’ activities of going to the bar and ordering drinks, going to the liquor store, waking up hungover and doing it again – the ‘fun’ tends to go out of it. The knowledge they gained in a recovery program screams at them from some part of their being that what they are doing is deadly, and dangerous to themselves and others.

This is how continuing business-as-usual feels in the climate emergency.

Remember how we all got exhausted in the Covid pandemic? How could we not be exhausted by the climate change impacts? The noise of catastrophe in the news. The inaction of government. The voice of deniers and their insipid argumentative rejection of what is obvious. Still, we MUST do SOMETHING, right? Like…what?

It is eating me alive, the reality of working my 8-10 hours, driving my CO2 emitting gasoline engine vehicle to the store, the restaurant, the movie theater, to shop, eat, sit in air conditioned buildings hiding the current most obvious signal that we are failing our planet, while actively perpetuating the problem. While governments argue about unborn life, and constituents look for who to blame the cost of fuel on. (Why shouldn’t gas be $100/gallon?! Maybe THEN something would change.)

What can I do? What can I do!

I talk to people. I join organizations. I keep up on climate news and climate-science latest developments. I tweet.

Somehow this all feels roughly equivalent to doing nothing, and so…

I am betrayed throughout the day by a nagging sense that I should be doing something different.

More Than Our (Social) Network

Our social world is our network. Always has been. “Tribal” was a kind of network, and it still is. Rolodex was a kind of network, and no longer is. It has been replaced by digital integrations. 

We still have Tribes but in some cases they have reshaped around whatever creates the most “engagement”, as measured by profit from those providing the algorithms to ‘show us what we want’. 

It was never supposed be the case.  While I don’t believe that it was ever unbiased, at one time the masses listened to the same voices at the national level, and at the local level, voices representing their region. That is now broken for many. In part due to unavailability of truly ‘local’ news, and in part due to the faction-oriented (think cnn, fox) spin introduced by the replacements.  So we’re all hearing a different message, one that resonates with us and those who ‘think like us’. 

Is it any surprise that the systems that ‘give us what we want’ match us up with people who ‘think like us’?

The dangers of “group think” are well documented. Though if you use that link I can’t guarantee what you’ll see, because what you’ll see is biased to what it thinks you want, unless you are in “private mode” and in a region similar to where this is being typed.

So how do we get away from group think? I’d say stop reading social media, but that is just part of it. I’d say stop watching your mobile news feed (be it google news, apple news, or pretty much anything else!) but that is just part of it.  I’d say stop watching the TV news…but that’s is just part of it.

All of the options I listed, that most of us are consuming, are financed by biased opinions, either for or against certain key political issues. In other words, the richest finding ways through sprawling unbelievable influence chains to put their ideas in our heads – or stop ideas from coming to us.

Or maybe you are the big social media user “I get my news through Facebook” type. That’s even more filtered, still highly influenced by ad dollars but also fine tuned to the things that inflame you because anger is the strongest attractor and retainer of the user. That’s what the ad buyers like.

You know what is missing? What can’t be bought? Honest, critical thought in conversation. Heated? Sure. Angry? Sometimes. It is unfortunate that so many of us, this author included, dislike having conversations about political things and the like. Perhaps this is why it is generally seen as impolite to discuss in all but the smallest of gatherings. Or the largest such as rallies of already-like-minded constituents.

Of course we ARE more than our social network. Yet I fear our social network is “just enough” for us to feel the barest need for connection has been met!  Too often we’d rather not work harder and have larger social interactions. It takes guts and faith to be an activist.  It takes guts, grit, vision and confidence to be a concerned citizen willing to sit and listen to the merits, not the emotions of arguments; to decide and follow through on action.  This level of nuance is nearly always lost in social media posts and feeds.

“The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. …  How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!”

Autobiographical dictation, 2 December 1906. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2 (University of California Press, 2013)

I’m Afraid

I’m afraid of climate change. Not for the loss of life and property in floods. Not for the rising prices and stifling drought and heat. What I’m afraid of is how people are going to react when their world starts getting smaller and having less. What is the breaking point?

People afraid of losing things are most dangerous people.

I worry there will be a “war for resources” in the coming decades. We’re seeing precursors now with Russia/Ukraine war and the impending food crisis that is generating. We’re seeing it in the US Southwest water crisis. The Yellowstone floods. Crop shortages from too much and too little rain have started.

I’m afraid of doing nothing about climate change, and I’m afraid of doing the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing.

People afraid of losing things are rarely reasonable people. People who have lost everything, even less so.

I worry that there will be an influx of refugees, and that people who consider that region “theirs” will begin to reject the refugees, and there will be forms of civil war all over.

People who don’t have the basics of living like fresh water and food staples are dangerously motivated. 

Maybe it will all be fine. Maybe I’m worrying over nothing. Maybe 96% of the involved scientists are wrong, and this will take care of itself.  Maybe those climate people are right, but we can’t do anything about it. Maybe it isn’t “created by man”.  Maybe there’s “nothing I can do” because I don’t know what I can do. Maybe I am so apathetic that I don’t really care about any of this. Maybe I just love a cheeseburger and so what and fuck you!?

Or maybe it is just too damn big. Planet-sized in fact! Maybe we are just too damned scared, to take action.

It is the greatest of all mistakes, to do nothing because you can only do little: but there are men who are always clamouring for immediate and stupendous effects…”

– Sydney Smith, 1806 

I’m afraid of what life will be like when my children are my age, and of what they’ll think when they look back and try to remember if I did anything to try to stop this.

Why It Is Impossible For Tesla To Fail

Why do technologies languish? Why do they boom? What happens in between? 


While each story of technology growth carries its own unique details, it is commonly perceived that wildly successful tech “came out of nowhere”. Of course this is nonsense, and whether you check in now, a decade ago, a hundred or a thousand years ago, every “leap” is a painstaking endeavor of many years, usually by many people. So far as I know, this is without exception. Edison had 2,332 patents to his name. Brilliant man to be sure, but everything he produced he started by learning from the writings of his predecessors in his fields of interest.

Most of “the greats” were of course brilliant. Leaps are leaps because of these abilities to connect dots. But by and large any of the amazing things you take for granted are the effort of decades and even centuries of research, learning, trying a thousand things, and finally making an inch of progress.

That’s the way apparent “leaps” take place. What about the other situation? The case where the key components of a “leap” are all present, but the will to make the leap is suppressed by the inertia of existing industry? This is not referring to the case of modestly equivalent technologies succeeding simply because of better marketing plans or downright dirty tricks – e.g. the VHS/Betamax debate et al. This is not the case of “both are good, some like one more than the other” – coke vs. pepsi, android vs iphone. 

Motivation & Opportunity vs The Bottom Line

What I’m talking about is real industry inertia, fealty to near-term bottom lines, the root cause of unethical exercise of capitalism. For years, even decades, we possessed the ability to make electric cars. The technology existed. Prototypes were made. I’ve seen cars that run not only on electricity, but also on compressed air, steam, kinetic flywheels, and hydrogen. I’m sure there’s others. Some of these designs were truly viable. None were mass produced or even attempted a consumer market push. 

Why did Tesla succeed? Because co-founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning did not ask permission. They didn’t try to convince one of the big auto makers to start making the product based on their designs. They sought buy-in from investors with vision. They found the money, the vision, the desire, and they got to work. They made electric cars sexy, premium, desirable. Expensive. 

Now, they are trying to make them affordable. Now they have proven there is a market. They are stumbling. The cars aren’t rolling off the line like they thought they would. People are buying, and waiting 18 months for a car. Crazy! What if they can’t get it together? What if they go bankrupt trying to staunch their production woes, and simply can’t pull it off? What if all the silly press about them failing becomes a reality?

They still succeeded.

Not to their shareholders, not to their employees I’m sure – but to history. To the planet. 

What is the Measure of Success?

Ford, Toyota, GM, Volkswagon…etc – the big car companies – the ones who couldn’t stave off profits and shareholder payouts for the duration it would have taken to retool their amazing production line capabilities to produce electric cars – these guys now realize they are losing business because of Tesla. So [just about every single one of them is producing, or has produced, at least one model of electric car]( The race is on to make electric vehicles viable. To make distribution of charging stations as commonplace as fuel pumps. Finally, these guys have been hit hard enough in the bottom line, or at least can see it coming, that they are galvanized to action.

If they can’t react to fears of global warming and planetary destruction, at least they can react to market share reduction and government restrictions on emission levels.

So even if Tesla goes belly up, and Elon Musk has to come and sleep on my couch while he writes the next Paypal, Tesla has succeeded beyond my wildest imaginings. They moved an immovable object. Galvanized an industry (by becoming the competition). Proved a market. One might even say, in the longer term, they have changed the world.  

So whether they are historically seen more in the light of Lise Meitner, a crucial scientist in the understanding of nuclear fission, and who is completely unknown by the general public, or Thomas Edison who invented half of modern technology, I can only see them as a wild success. 

Why I’m Hyped About Augmented Reality

As quickly as possible: Augmented Reality is the experience of projected information into/onto the physical world, as perceived by a user with an AR-capable device such as a handset or headset. This information can be anything a computer can generate: directions, names, a pretend cup of coffee, zombies. Anything.

Augmented Reality (AR) is the sleeper/creeper technology of the last decade. While VR took off on the Great Technology Hype Rocket, AR has languished in the public space. Giant companies with lots of money quietly worked on things that they needed for their business, or in some cases like Microsoft Hololens, just bit the bullet and decided to be first to market with a super high cost giant-headset solution. This is NOT a knock to the Hololens, which is perfectly cool in its own right – but – somebody had to be first. Somebody had to just start developing this technology commercially so it can start the cycle of improvements.


Because AR is the future. AR is not a toy, a gadget, hype, a parlor trick, a kiosk widget, or a new gaming platform. AR is the future of the human/machine interface. We have been seeing the potential for this in the movies for a long time. Minority Report comes to mind for many when they hear about AR. Maybe even something like Robocop with the bio readouts and intent of the people in front of him. 

Regardless of which fictional scenario comes to mind, the advantages of this “virtually” unlimited new paradigm of interfacing with machines should be self evident.

Imagine instructions that build the thing you are making while you are making it, always one step ahead, removing the guesswork.

Imagine seeing the building across the street that is just a bunch of beams, in it’s projected final form.

Imagine glancing at your ingredients for dinner and being able to watch them come together, or perhaps a nice suspended alert that lets you know you are overcooking the carrots right now.

Imagine a world where people all wear contact lenses or glasses that superimpose useful information/graphics into their daily experience in ways that enhance their own interests and capacities – you know, like a cellphone except everybody doesn’t need to be walking around with their heads down anymore.

It should be mentioned that AR capabilities alone are not the only reason this technology is cresting. The massive improvements in Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that have enabled voice-to-text to not suck, and impact most areas of our digital life in ways we don’t even know, also power the AR capabilities that make it a viable consumer solution/medium.

For all that AR + AI sounds like a big scary electronic future, if you really consider the effective result – it is giving us our humanity back from the dominance of the handheld – in particular once headsets are viable, reasonably priced, and socially acceptable. It gives us back looking at each other, and looking around our environment. It gives us back eye contact – although one probably can’t be certain the other person is making eye contact with you, and not a superimposed AR alien…

This year saw the release of Apple’s ARKit, and Google’s ARCore, and with those, the recognition that “hey, attractive AR-enabling eyeware isn’t yet available – but AR can still be useful, lets get to it!” We build on these tools, and the hands free version can’t be far behind.

So let’s all get really good at AR so they stop trying to build chips that wire directly into your brain…