Miner Thoughts
My Mac Magazine #36, April ’98

Unless you’ve been living in a cave or under a rock for the past several years you have probably heard of the meteorological phenomenon known as El Niño. If you live in the Pacific Northwest like myself and enjoy seeing your rhododendron bushes blooming in the middle of the winter and the accompanying warm weather that makes this possible, you are hoping El Niño will stick around for years to come. But if you live in California you wish it would just go away before you start growing webs between your toes or your house gets swept away in the mud. Thanks to El Niño, Floridians can’t even walk down a sidewalk without having to dodge a tornado or two. In Mexico you wonder why it’s snowing and in the rain forest of Brazil you’re praying for rain. One thing is certain, El Niño has turned our normal weather patterns upside down.

Experts from around the world have attempted to explain just what El Niño is and why it’s wreaking such havoc with our global weather. They tell us that El Niño is the effect of a vast area of superheated water floating around in the south Pacific Ocean. Just why this area of water has all of a sudden become 8 -11 degrees warmer than normal is a subject of debate amongst the world’s scientific community.

Al Gore and his tree-hugging buddies blame global warming for this temperature increase in the Pacific. But if that were really true, why aren’t we seeing water temperature’s rise in the other oceans, Huh? Explain that one to me, Mr. #2 man.

Another popular scenario for this hot water phenomenon, say several leading geologists, is the increase in volcanic activity on the ocean floor of the south Pacific in the general vicinity where the warm water is being reported. This sounds a bit more plausible than what Al “Greenpeace” Gore believes. However, until I start seeing these underwater eruptions on the 5:00 o’clock news I don’t think I’m ready to wholly accept this theory. I need visuals please!

Here’s a good one:

The very respected (in his own circle of friends) last known living member of the now defunct Heaven’s Gate religious cult says that he received a message from his 39 physically dead but spiritually alive congregational brethren. (The brethren he speaks of were those 39 religious folks that committed mass suicide in San Diego County on March 26th, 1997 in the hopes of hitching a ride on a UFO that was supposedly hiding behind the blazing tail of the Hale-Bopp comet, convinced that the UFO would whisk their spirits away to the “next level.”). According to this lone survivor, the message he received indicated that while his friends souls were speeding through space towards a rendezvous with Hale-Bopp and the awaiting UFO, they observed a race of extra-terrestrial beings on one of the larger asteroids approaching Earth. The message also stated that these extra-terrestrials were operating what looked to them to be some sort of laser contraption that was shooting a beam of white light at the surface of planet Earth. Following the beam they noticed that the laser was focused on a small area of the southern Pacific Ocean. This one remaining live Heaven’s Gater [name withheld at his request] speculates that aliens are deliberately heating up the ocean to make it more livable for themselves once they take over our planet.

Nice theory, but then again, how much weight can we give to the eyewitness accounts of 39 dead people?

Many have suggested that this lone surviving Heaven’s Gater give serious thought to rounding out his cult’s number to 40. I concur.

What on earth does Apple Computer Company have to do with any of this, you wonder.

Trust me, I’m gettin’ to it.

Just as I was about to forget this whole El Niño thing and move on with my life, I received a plain manila envelope in my mailbox that was addressed to me, but lacked any return address.

I carelessly ripped open the envelope, not at all worried, now that the Unabomber was behind bars. Inside the envelope were several sheets of paper that at first glance looked like marine shipping manifests of the kind used on foreign-flagged seagoing freighter vessels. Attached to the top manifest was a typed letter addressed to me. It said that if I really wanted to know the truth about the origin of El Niño I would follow the enclosed paper trail, paying close attention to the shipment by Apple Computer. The letter was not signed.

Looking closer at the documents in my hand it was plain to see that they were indeed shipping manifests. The cargo on the manifests had been shipped aboard the Japanese registered freighter Nikadomo, on Sept.1st 1995 from the port of San Francisco – destination: Tokyo, Japan. How this was going to solve the mystery of El Niño I didn’t know.

However, I was intrigued, so I began investigating.

The only references to Apple Computer Co. I found on the manifest were for two full containers of the newly introduced PowerBook 5300 series computer. Each sealed container held 2,324 boxes of these Apple laptops. What on earth would that have to do with El Niño, I asked myself.

I didn’t know but I continued searching.

Contacting a friend of mine who works as a Japanese Customs agent in Tokyo, I asked him to trace the two containers of PowerBooks, giving him all the pertinent information regarding the shipment. Two days later I received a fax from my friend containing documentation that showed the two containers in question never arrived in Japan but were lost at sea, having falling overboard at the height of an extremely bad Pacific storm. The documents showed an insurance claim submitted by Apple to the company that owned the Nikadomo and the resulting payoff to Apple by Lloyd’s of London. Hmm! The plot thickens. Now we have 4,648 boxes of laptop computers sitting on the bottom of the ocean. Or do we?

I investigated further.

I tracked down the Nikadomo and with the aid of an interpreter was able to speak with one of the deckhands who happened to be on duty the night the two containers in question broke loose from their moorings and took the fateful plunge into the deep dark abyss. I was able to find out from this shipmate that when the two containers hit the surface of the ocean they broke apart, allowing their contents to float free of the rapidly sinking containers. The last thing the deckhand remembered seeing were thousands of cardboard boxes emblazoned with the Apple logo bobbing up and down riding the crest and valleys of the 80 foot waves that were pummeling his vessel.

So what I had now was an eyewitness report that the PowerBooks were not immediately sent to a watery grave at the bottom of the sea but were instead left to ride the ocean currents for as long as they could stay afloat. Even with all this information I still couldn’t make the connection between Apple and El Niño.

I pushed on.

Recalling how my own Macintosh Performa had been packaged when I first brought it home from the computer store-with the seemingly endless amount of styrofoam encasing the hardware-I began to surmise that these renegade laptops might have stayed afloat for a very long time. I studied maps and graphs depicting the flow of the ocean currents around the time and location of the Nikadomo mishap. Using a computer generated simulation I was able to predict where the ocean may have carried the wayward PowerBooks, providing they stayed afloat. I came to the conclusion that had these 5300s, wrapped in the buoyancy of styrofoam and cardboard packaging, managed to stay afloat for thirteen weeks they would have been carried upon the waves to the exact center of where scientist now believe the super heating of the Pacific Ocean is taking place.

Very interesting, wouldn’t you say? But still, what the hell could 4,648 Apple PowerBooks have to do with raising the temperature of the oceans water? Where’s the link?

Baffled, but not yet ready to give up, I took the next step towards advancing the theory that the Apple Computer Co. was responsible for El Niño.

Armed with the only thing I had left, that being speculation, I made the leap and tied it all together.

Remember when Apple first introduced the PowerBook 5300 series and they had that little problem with the batteries? For those of you with short memories or if you just don’t pay attention to the technical side of computin’, what happened was that shortly after the 5300 release, Apple technicians at their main campus were recharging the ‘new style’ lithium ion batteries in some 5300s and two of the batteries overheated, one of which actually caught fire. This was perceived by the Apple techs as ‘not a good thing’, since the PowerBook 5300 was not designed with an automatic internal fire extinguisher.

Unable to pinpoint the exact cause of this laptop barbecue, Apple made the decision to recall the 5300s and replace the ‘new style’ batteries with the less combustible ‘old style’ nickel-metal-hydride batteries that worked so well in previous models. Even though Apple promptly fixed the problem of their overpriced cigarette lighters, the press still had a field day with this minor mishap, painting visions of Apple PowerBooks bursting into flames on airplanes, in boardrooms, or in your car.

Now this is were I make the leap and submit to you why I believe Apple is responsible for El Niño.

I figure that when Apple recalled the 5300s, the freighter Nikadomo was already in route to Japan with Apple’s 4,648 PowerBook 5300s on board. Upon hearing of the lost shipment, Apple deletes these 4,648 PowerBooks off their recall list and forgets about ’em.

I also speculate that over the course of the next several weeks this lost fleet of PowerBooks lazily made its way south on the ocean’s currents, staying afloat by the buoyancy of the styrofoam packaging. However, over a period of time, the caustic properties of the salt water and the relentless exposure to the hot sun took its toll on the PowerBooks’ vessels of flotation. The corrugated cardboard surrounding the styrofoam was eventually stripped away layer by layer, sending the unprotected owner manuals, CD disks, floppy disks and loose power cords to the bottom of the Pacific, leaving only the styrofoam packaging to keep the computers afloat.

Having traveled thousands of miles, the school of PowerBooks finally arrived at a point just south of the equator and a mere 100 miles off the coast of Ecuador. At this point the sun and salt water win their battle with the PowerBooks’ styrofoam life vest and one by one the laptops end their voyage and sink into the Pacific.

What happened next, I theorize, was the result of a number of chemical reactions taking place in a specific order inside the lithium ion batteries, which by the way are manufactured by Sony and not Apple, but it is Apple I believe, who will be -however unfairly- forever linked to the destruction and mayhem caused by El Niño once this article goes public.

The amount of energy needed to warm the waters of the Pacific to their current temperatures can only be found at the center of an exploding 30 megaton nuclear bomb, but even a device of this magnitude could not keep these waters this warm for so long a period.

So how, you ask, could a few thousand lithium ion batteries capable of only 36 watt-hours of rechargeable power produce the heat needed to warm up an ocean?

Trust me. I’ve worked this out in my highly scientific mind and double-checked my arithmetic and I’m convinced my findings are accurate.

At some point after the PowerBooks lost their outer cardboard packaging and were only protected and kept afloat by the molded styrofoam encasing them, it is my assumption that they passed through an area of the ocean where the ozone layer above them was all but depleted, allowing harmful cancer-causing sun rays to beat down unfiltered onto the styrofoam packaging. Although these unfiltered rays are linked to skin cancer in humans, we all know what they do when they attack styrofoam packaging. That’s right, they react with the styrofoam and through the process of ‘placitico-vaporonorazation’ create the chemical known as ‘styro-raynanocide,’ that highly flammable concentrated goop that NASA scientists would love to use as their next generation rocket fuel if they could only figure out how to contain and control the unstable stuff.

I’m not getting too technical here, am I? No, I don’t think so, not for my readers.

Something you may not know however, is what takes place when this ‘styro-raynanocide’ mixes with salt water and high concentrations of sea plankton. When this happens look out!

I have calculated that the metamorphic results of this chemical and biological soup creates two of the three elemental building blocks of what scientists call anti-matter. Of course, no one has actually ever seen anti-matter, but those of us who like to speculate about such things all agree that if it does exist and ever came into contact with the matter of our universe, we’d all be turned into tiny little grains of space dust, or worse.

Luckily, as I’ve stated, only two of the three properties of anti-matter were created through this accidental osmosis.

What I think is happening is that the anti-electrons and anti-neutrons, minus (thank God!) the anti-protons of anti-matter somehow worked their way into the lithium ion batteries of the PowerBooks on the bottom of the ocean and are being ‘excited’ by the faulty ignitions of the still fully charged batteries, turning each one of those batteries into heat generating power plants capable of producing temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit over hundreds of miles for short periods of time before burning themselves out. These kinds of temperatures at the bottom of the ocean would be just enough to raise and sustain the 8 to 11 degree temperature increases being recorded near the surface over such a large area.

Assuming that only one of these anti-matteristic batteries ‘fires off’ at a time and produces its heat for only, let’s say 24 hours before dying out, and assuming that 4,000 of the 4,600 plus PowerBooks survived the trip to the equator, that means the El Niño phenomenon should have a life span of just under 11 years.

As much as I hate to see our beloved Apple Computer Company receive any more bad press, especially since it’s really Sony and not Apple who manufactured the faulty batteries, I felt that I owed it to my readership to come clean and tell all of what I discovered. Besides, no one offered me any money not to run this story. That’s right, I can be bought, but no one offered.

Hopefully this news will not result in a landslide of worldwide litigation against Apple for causing El Niño and derail them from their continuing pursuit of computer excellence that we Macintosh users have come to rely on. If it does, I apologize. But remember Apple, I could have been persuaded to keep my mouth shut.


It could’ve happened!

Pete Miner (pete@mymac.com)

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