Digital Legacy

A book on time management in talking about long-term goal planning suggests we define the legacy we wish to leave. Coming from academia, I typically think of a legacy as a name on a building, an applicant with an alum for a parent, or a scholarship. However, the artifacts left behind by previous cultures are also a legacy.

Our digital footprints both could be part of this legacy or easily lost. I lean toward all this data we spew about the Internet will be lost eventually. I have seen floppy disks and hard drives die, taking with them the only copy of critical data. I have seen companies report their hard drives stolen from their machines in co-location as why customers lost their data. I have seen companies close web sites because they ran out of money. Let’s not forget natural disasters like earthquakes and floods.

So we keep backups.

Who will preserve these backups once we are gone? Are you able to read the data from computers 40 years ago? Maybe we’ll be better about being able to read the data from past when we reach 40 years into the future?

Not likely.

Labels

This started out as a comment to Adrian, but I it got so long it may as well be a post on its own….

The significance of racial labels is not in identifying the genetic makeup of individuals. The significance is in how the labels were used to enforce segregation long before the American Revolution. Before slaves in the United States were freed in 1865, defining who was Black was to identify who was eligible to be held in slavery and have ownership of property. There were grave concerns about mixing owners and slaves resulting in slaves gaining their freedom, especially once capturing them from Africa was no longer allowed. Defining race was about control then. Even in the more than one hundred years after the slaves were freed, defining who was Black was about control. Instead of who could be forced into slavery, the definitions of who is Black identified who could be excluded from power.  The fear was mixed people using the laws to somehow get access to power. Only since Affirmative Action has it become in any way beneficial for others to have less than pure European descent.

Adrian remarked many of us have ancestors which keep us from being purely from one or another group. Chatting with George and Lorenia yesterday, George pointed out even in Europe, southern Spain and Italy confounds the stereotype. Our increasing understanding of genetics and culture invalidates race as a useful means of describing individuals. Individuals have genetic markers linking them all over the globe. We are one species. My favorite example PBS show indicating the women described as Amazons moved to western Mongolia.

“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” – Baha’u’llah

Safe From Falling Satellites?

A U.S. military spy satellite the size of a school bus is falling. Without power, the controllers on the ground no longer can ensure it comes down in a controlled manner into the ocean. It could hit the ground in a month. At present, its unknown when or where it might hit.

The largest uncontrolled re-entry by a NASA spacecraft was Skylab, the 78-ton abandoned space station that fell from orbit in 1979. Its debris dropped harmlessly into the Indian Ocean and across a remote section of western Australia.

This quote got me thinking… Assuming this object comes down anywhere on the surface of the Earth, what are the odds of it hitting 1) a major city, 2) a populated area, 3) anyone, or 4) harmless to any human life? It seems to me the highest odds are on #4. Consider: 71% of the surface of the Earth is covered by water. So the only risk is it hitting a ship. The odds of #4 would be at the lowest 65-70%. People tend to congregate in groups up to tens of millions. Even farmland makes up only 40% of the land. Probably populated areas would not even get us to 50% of the land surface area.

Probably since the odds are so low anyone will be hit is the reason for the lack of “OMG we’re going to die!”

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Safe From Falling Satellites?

A U.S. military spy satellite the size of a school bus is falling. Without power, the controllers on the ground no longer can ensure it comes down in a controlled manner into the ocean. It could hit the ground in a month. At present, its unknown when or where it might hit.

The largest uncontrolled re-entry by a NASA spacecraft was Skylab, the 78-ton abandoned space station that fell from orbit in 1979. Its debris dropped harmlessly into the Indian Ocean and across a remote section of western Australia.

This quote got me thinking… Assuming this object comes down anywhere on the surface of the Earth, what are the odds of it hitting 1) a major city, 2) a populated area, 3) anyone, or 4) harmless to any human life? It seems to me the highest odds are on #4. Consider: 71% of the surface of the Earth is covered by water. So the only risk is it hitting a ship. The odds of #4 would be at the lowest 65-70%. People tend to congregate in groups up to tens of millions. Even farmland makes up only 40% of the land. Probably populated areas would not even get us to 50% of the land surface area.

Probably since the odds are so low anyone will be hit is the reason for the lack of “OMG we’re going to die!”

Deeds of Gaijin Occupiers

My grandmother has recently started telling everyone she owns a house in Japan (gaijin cannot own land?). In the 1950s, my grandfather was stationed in Japan. He went over by himself, acquired a house, and sent for his wife and six kids to come. The most common story my grandmother tells is this trip over there. It has several humorous elements to portray the personalities of all the kids. They stayed there for almost 3 years (typical of a deployment) and came back to the continental US. Since, the military base where they live was closed. Someone found the deed to the house and showed or gave it to her. This is what sparked the owning a house story.

abandonment: in law, voluntary, intentional, and absolute relinquishment of rights or property without conveying them to any other person. abandonment

Typically one maintains one’s rights to property by occupying or having others occupy even once in a while. Paying taxes helps as well. By just abandoning the house about 50 years ago, I am pretty sure whatever rights the deed conveys are lost.

My favorite of the stories about Japan is one about an earthquake opening a crack in the ground. The military found a number of previously unknown tunnels underneath the base. Presumably these were dug during World War II with the intent of covert troop movement during a US invasion. Its probably fortunate the US was not forced to invade Japan proper.

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links for 2007-10-14

Science News

News about scientific topics annoys me. The latest, on the melting of the Martian polar ice caps hinting at a warmer than usual Sun causing global warming makes me wonder if Kate reads about science as voratiously as I do? I mean, as I started to read this, I recalled that the number and size of sunspots was related to the amount of solar wind from the Sun. It was tied to that the Sun is currently in a decades long period in which it would make the Earth hotter. A simple Google search yielded this web page from 1997!

At present there is no concern about another Little Ice Age. Recent satellite measurements of solar brightness, analyzed by Willson (4), show an increase from the previous cycle of sunspot activity to the current one, indicating that the Earth is receiving more energy from the Sun. Willson indicates that if the current rate of increase of solar irradiance continues until the mid 21th century, then the surface temperatures will increase by about 0.5� C. This is small, but not a negligible fraction of the expected greenhouse warming. Ref: Sunspots and climate

It doesn’t make sense to me that either one of these must be wrong. A hotter than normal Sun * an Earth predisposed to trap more heat than normal = a hotter Earth.