Help Desk July 14, 2014Posted by tkcollier in Humor, Technology.
Tags: Humor, Technology
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A Simple Explanation For The Mess We Are In July 13, 2014Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
Tags: Geopolitics, Global Warming, Globalization, Jihad, Technology, war
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So, today, you have three basic systems: order provided by democratic, inclusive governments; order imposed by autocratic exclusivist governments; and ungoverned, or chaotically governed, spaces, where rickety failed states, militias, tribes, pirates and gangs contest one another for control, but there is no single power center to answer the phone — or, if they do, it falls off the wall.
Why is this happening now? Well, just as I’ve argued that “average is over” for workers, now “average is over for states,” too. Without the Cold War system to prop them up, it is not so easy anymore for weak states to provide the minimums of security, jobs, health and welfare. And thanks to rapid advances in the market (globalization), Mother Nature (climate change plus ecological destruction) and Moore’s Law (computing power), some states are just blowing up under the pressure.
How We Lost Iraq July 13, 2014Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
Tags: America, Bush, Geopolitics, Iran, Iraq, Maliki, Obama
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Carlton Palmer pointed out this fascinating article, from a man who was intimately involved; as one of a few Arab-speaking US officials in Baghdad. Click on the link for the full article.
By the closing months of 2008, successfully negotiating the terms for America’s continued commitment to Iraq became a top White House imperative. But desperation to seal a deal before Bush left office, along with the collapse of the world economy, weakened our hand.
In an ascendant position, Maliki and his aides demanded everything in exchange for virtually nothing. They cajoled the United States into a bad deal that granted Iraq continued support while giving America little more than the privilege of pouring more resources into a bottomless pit.
With the Obama administration vowing to end Bush’s “dumb war,” and the continued distraction of the global economic crisis, Maliki seized an opportunity. He began a systematic campaign to destroy the Iraqi state and replace it with his private office and his political party, the most powerful man in Iraq and the Middle East, Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, warned that those Iraqi leaders who cooperated, would continue to benefit from Iran’s political cover and cash payments, but those who defied the will of the Islamic Republic would suffer the most dire of consequences.
World Cup June 23, 2014Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff.
Tags: Soccer, Sports, Technology, World Cup
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Tags: Geopolitics, History, Peace, war
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“The 10 most dangerous words in the English language,” Reagan said on another occasion, “are ‘Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’ ” As Hobbes could have told him, in reality the 10 scariest words are, “There is no government and I’m here to kill you.”
So yes, war is hell — but have you considered the alternatives? When looking upon the long run of history, it becomes clear that through 10,000 years of conflict, humanity has created larger, more organized societies that have greatly reduced the risk that their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for higher living standards and economic growth. War has not only made us safer, but richer, too.
While we a gone from World Wars to Cold Wars this book review, which is continued from the “more” link overlooks the ongoing danger of even a “small” thermonuclear war, between emerging powers, annihilating our 10,00 years of “progress”. The miscalculations of rising powers has contributed to most wars of the Industrial age.
We are now moving into a world of what I call Soft Wars, waged by guerrilla tactics of cyber and economic warfare. And now with so many empowered transnational bad actors on the world stage, it will be hard to determine who really hit you and how do you counter.
Same Place, Different Time May 3, 2014Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Photography.
Tags: Cool photos, History, World War II
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Can Innovation Save Our Future? May 3, 2014Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, philosophy & politics.
Tags: Environment, Gloabl Warming, Innovation
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A Saudi oil minister once said, the Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone. Ecologists call this “niche construction”—that people (and indeed some other animals) can create new opportunities for themselves by making their habitats more productive in some way. Agriculture is the classic example of niche construction: We stopped relying on nature’s bounty and substituted an artificial and much larger bounty.
Economists call the same phenomenon innovation. What frustrates them about ecologists is the latter’s tendency to think in terms of static limits. Ecologists can’t seem to see that when whale oil starts to run out, petroleum is discovered, or that when farm yields flatten, fertilizer comes along, or that when glass fiber is invented, demand for copper falls.
That frustration is heartily reciprocated. Ecologists think that economists espouse a sort of superstitious magic called “markets” or “prices” to avoid confronting the reality of limits to growth. The easiest way to raise a cheer in a conference of ecologists is to make a rude joke about economists.
If I could have one wish for the Earth’s environment, it would be to bring together the two tribes—to convene a grand powwow of ecologists and economists. I would pose them this simple question and not let them leave the room until they had answered it: How can innovation improve the environment?
The technological optimists crowd writing, in the current issue of Wired magazine, visits huge Chinese projects to sequester the Co2 from burning coal. An interesting read
The Clash of Systems April 27, 2014Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
Tags: Geopolitics, Liberal Democracy, Putin, Russia
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Writing recently on the independent Russian website Grani.ru, dissident writer and left-wing activist Alexander Skobov noted that today’s conflict between Russia and the West was not so much a clash of civilizations as a “clash of systems”: “The essential difference between them lies in who has ‘primacy’: the individual or the state, society or the ‘elite’? The conflict over this issue is not between civilizations but within each of them. Every state seeks to dominate the individual; every elite seeks to dominate society. But some countries have succeeded at developing a set of institutions that limit the power of the state and the elite over the individual and society, while others have not.”
Obviously, these institutions don’t always work. Yet, while the United States and the other capitalist liberal democracies may be very far from either the libertarian ideal of freedom or the progressive ideal of social justice, the unvarnished truth is that it’s only within this loosely knit global community — the “global liberal hegemony” deplored by far-left and far-right radicals — that these ideals have any chance to survive and develop. A world in which these values are on the ascendancy rather than in retreat is very much a part of our national interest.
NBA Ownership – The World’s Most Exclusive Club April 27, 2014Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Lifestyle, Sports.
Tags: Adam Silver, Basketball, David Stern, Economy & Business, NBA
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NBA teams are clearly ego purchases, but rich guys hate losing money … and that’s about ego, too. In 2010 and 2011, six NBA franchises sold or changed hands, and another four were practically thrown on Craigslist.2 That’s one-third of the league. A steady stream of billionaires crunched numbers and came to the same conclusion: Unless it’s a killer market, the NBA isn’t a good investment. During 2011’s lockout, Philly sold for a measly $280 million as the league frantically looked for a New Orleans buyer (and didn’t find one).
Everything flipped in December of that year, after the NBA negotiated an owner-favorable collective bargaining agreement (and then some) that included a 50-50 revenue split, shorter long-term deals and a more punitive luxury tax system, as well as a pay-per-view event in which David Stern and Adam Silver poured Dom Perignon on each other’s heads and danced over the ruins of Billy Hunter’s career. Fine, I made that last one up. From there, everything kept breaking the NBA’s way. In no particular order …
• LeBron became the league’s most famous and talented superstar since MJ, right as we suddenly had the deepest pool of under-27 stars in 20-plus years.
• The 2013 Finals went down as one of the greatest Finals ever, followed by a LeBron-Durant rivalry emerging that could and should carry the rest of the decade.
• Americans stopped caring about PEDs and started worrying about concussions right when everyone should have started worrying about PEDs in basketball (a sport that rarely has any concussions).
• The YouTube/broadband/iPad/GIF/Instagram/Twitter era turned basketball into a 24/7 fan experience — just the ideal sport for the Internet era, the kind of league in which your buddies email you a bizarre Kobe Bryant tweet, an endearing Spurs team selfie and a ridiculous Blake Griffin dunk GIF in the span of three hours (and by the way, that happened to me yesterday).
• A new multimedia rights deal is coming soon … and it’s going to easily double the current deal.
(Repeat: easily double it.)
And I didn’t even mention basketball grabbing the no. 2 spot behind soccer as the world’s most popular sport. I’m not sure when it happened, but it happened. Buy an NBA franchise in 2014 and deep down, you’re thinking about stuff like, I wonder if fans from 250 countries will be paying for League Pass 20 years from now? Throw in the other breaks and that’s how you end up climbing from here …
Beatles Just Before Crossing Abbey Road April 27, 2014Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Music.
Tags: Abbey Road, Beatles, Cool photos, Music, the Beatles
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While the Beatles got ready for their iconic walk across Abbey Road, this pensioner chatted with Ringo. More out-takes from the shoot.
Why CBS Chose Colbert April 17, 2014Posted by tkcollier in Humor, In The News, philosophy & politics, Politics.
Tags: disposable income, television viewer
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The ideal television viewer is now in his twenties or thirties, lives in a city, has plenty of disposable income and is highly active on social media so that his or her brand choices influence their peers. He bought a new smartphone in the last 12 months and the next gaming console, he goes to bars and night clubs, spends $400 on video games and $300 on music. He is more likely to do these things than to become a parent, invest in stocks or buy a home.
CBS’s Hawaii Five-O may be highly rated, but it skews to older audiences, which is why it costs $58,000 to advertise on it, while Grimm, which has a smaller audience, charged $82,000. Both shows are about even in the demo, but Grimm’s viewers are valued more. Blue Bloods may have fantastic ratings, but its audience is old, so it’s also down at the $58,000 level.
Psychopaths: how can you spot one? – April 6, 2014Posted by tkcollier in health, Lifestyle.
Tags: Psychology, Psychopath
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Professor Robert Hare is a criminal psychologist, and the creator of the PCL-R, a psychological assessment used to determine whether someone is a psychopath. “A high-scoring psychopath views the world in a very different way,” says Hare. “It’s like colour-blind people trying to understand the colour red, but in this case ‘red’ is other people’s emotions.”
At heart, Hare’s test is simple: a list of 20 criteria, each given a score of 0 (if it doesn’t apply to the person), 1 (if it partially applies) or 2 (if it fully applies). The list includes: glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, cunning/manipulative, pathological lying, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, a tendency to boredom, impulsivity, criminal versatility, behavioural problems in early life, juvenile delinquency, and promiscuous sexual behaviour. A pure, prototypical psychopath would score 40. A score of 30 or more qualifies for a diagnosis of psychopathy. Hare says: “A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, once said: ‘Bob, when I meet someone who scores 35 or 36, I know these people really are different.’ The ones we consider to be alien are the ones at the upper end.”
If someone’s brain lacks the moral niceties the rest of us take for granted, they obviously can’t do anything about that, any more than a colour-blind person can start seeing colour. So where does this leave the concept of moral responsibility? “The legal system traditionally asserts that all people standing in front of the judge’s bench are equal. That’s demonstrably false,” says the neuroscientist David Eagleman, author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. He suggests that instead of thinking in terms of blameworthiness, the law should deal with the likelihood that someone will reoffend, and issue sentences accordingly, with rehabilitation for those likely to benefit and long sentences for those likely to be long-term dangers
China’s Epic Offshore Wealth Revealed: How Chinese Oligarchs Quietly Parked Up To $4 Trillion In The Caribbean | Zero Hedge January 22, 2014Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News.
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The End of the World as We Know It – Pax Americana December 15, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics, Religion.
Tags: Europe, Geopolitics, Late Antiquity, North Africa, Religion, Roman Empire, Sassanid Persian Empire
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Drawing compelling parallels with today from the over-looked period after Rome fell and before the Middle Ages, known as “Late Antiquity”; highly-respected strategic thinker Robert Kaplan predicts a global return to tribalism and religiosity, as America retreats into isolationism.
The Pax Romana was a period of relative peace and stability throughout the Greater Mediterranean. By 700 A.D., the Roman Empire had disappeared from the map of the West, the Sassanid Persian Empire had vanished from the Near East, Europe had become Christian, and the Near East and most of North Africa had become Muslim.
Today, tribes with four-wheel-drive vehicles, satellite phones, plastic explosives, and shoulder-fired missiles help close the distance between Late Antiquity and the early 21st century.
We are at the dawn of a new epoch that may well be as chaotic as that one and that may come upon us more quickly because of the way the electronic and communications revolutions, combined with a population boom, have compressed history.
Honey Boo Boo vs. Duck Dynasty November 4, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Business, Lifestyle.
Tags: Duck Dynasty, Lifestyle, Reality TV, White Trash
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While Conservatives bemoan the crudeness of popular culture, there are 12 million viewers tuning in to watch the Season Premiere of the comparatively-positive White Trash role model “Duck Dynasty”. The largest audience ever for a reality show on cable. They’re even releasing a Holiday record “Duck the Halls”. Now those rich rednecks know how to market themselves.
As reality’s first family, the Kardashians, have seen their ratings steadily decline over the past several years, shows like “Pawn Stars,” “American Restoration” and “Duck Dynasty” have risen to dominate basic cable.
Last year, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” which features a cornucopia of social ills, was TLC’s highest-rated show, attracting more cable viewers than the Republican National Convention, which had the misfortune to share the time slot with the charmers from Georgia. The show’s matriarch, June Shannon, has four daughters by four men, one of whose names she can’t recall.
Students of Arnold Toynbee, the English historian, will recognize what is going on here. In a chapter of his “A Study of History” entitled “Schism in the Soul,” Toynbee argued that it is a sign that a society is disintegrating when it takes its cues for manners and customs from the underclass. He describes such societies as being “truant” to their own values.
Toynbee is the guide to what we see all around us today.
We modern philistines tell ourselves that rejecting the customs and conventions of a stuffy, old elite will release creativity and bring about a renaissance. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Toynbee, self-expression replaces creativity when disintegrating societies look downward.
Aspiration is replaced by complacency. Shame vanishes. Any criticism becomes “haters gonna hate,” or the White Trash motto: “It don’t make no difference.”
White Trash signifiers have changed of course — the foreclosed McMansion with the mosquito-infested swimming pool has replaced the rusting tractor permanently bivouacked on cement blocks in the front yard. But it’s the same general idea.
Obesity, the product of a lack of discipline, sloppy dressing, loud and intimate cellphone chats broadcast to a captive audience and foul language nonchalantly uttered in the ATM line are all forms of this “self-expression.”
Pre-White Trash, physical intimacy was reserved to private places. Now it’s reserved for the subway. You no longer have to live in a one-room shack to learn the facts of life early. Just walk down the toy aisle at Toys “R” Us for a sexpot Bratz Doll.
Children who see daytime television, broadcast in public areas, are inevitably treated to Jerry Springer reruns. How do you explain “Honey, I’m a Ho,” or “Transsexuals Attack” to a tot? Oh, wait, the tot explains it to you.
Tattoos are form of self-expression that have moved from gangs and prisons to the mainstream.
“Fake” Fancy Wine Widespread November 3, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Business, Food.
Tags: Crime, Food, Forgery, Wine
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Counterfeit wine accounts for some 20 per cent of international sales, according to unofficial wine industry estimates published in yesterday’s regional French newspaper, Sud Ouest. Investigators said the design on bottles were “near perfect” and that many customers were clearly fooled.
This month, Laurent Ponsot, a Burgundy winemaker and famed forgery hunter, estimated that 80 per cent of auctioned wines allegedly coming from Burgundy’s most prestigious domains, including his own, are fakes.
Mr Ponsot famously unmasked Rudy Kurniawan, an Indonesian collector said to possess “arguably the greatest cellar on Earth” as an alleged wine fraudster, after Mr Kurniawan tried to auction Ponsot’s Clos-St-Denis vintages dating back decades before the domain started producing them. Decanter said the scale of alleged forgeries found when the FBI raided Kurniawan’s premises last year may “ultimately go down as the wine crime of the century”
Why College Quarter Backs, Like Tim Tebow, Fail In the NFL November 3, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Sports.
Tags: Football, Sports
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Well before high school, youth coaches identify big, fast African-American kids and play them at quarterback—often in a system designed to take advantage of their athleticism, not develop the child\’s football ability. The ones who grow into top varsity players get scouted as \”dual-threat quarterbacks\” by the recruiting-industrial complex and play for college coaches who want to use them in similar roles.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group he \”never really knew how to throw a football\” until he hired a personal quarterback coach this past offseason. Yes, Terrelle Pryor: A 6\’4\”, 233-pound, cannon-armed, former No. 1 overall high school recruit, former multiyear BCS-power-program-starting quarterback entering his third year in the NFL, and nobody bothered to teach him how to throw a damned football until he went out and hired a passing coach himself.
Pro football has evolved into a passing game. There’s simply much more upside to throwing, and today’s modern offenses demand a quarterback who excels at breaking down defenses and delivering an accurate ball. It’s hard for someone who’s spent their entire career—really, their entire life—being told their speed and agility are their meal ticket to put them on the back burner. It’s hard to be a consistent, effective, efficient NFL quarterback when you’re blessed, or cursed, with athletic talent
If You Also Hate The Time Change… November 3, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, health, Lifestyle.
Tags: America, American time zones, Economy & Business, Lifestyle
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According to Time and Date, a Norwegian Newsletter dedicated to time zone information, America started using four time zones in 1883. Before that, each city had its own time standard based on its calculation of apparent solar time (when the sun is directly over-head at noon) using sundials. That led to more than 300 different American time zones. This made operations very difficult for the telegraph and burgeoning railroad industry. Railroads operated with 100 different time zones before America moved to four, which was consistent with Britain’s push for a global time standard.
Now the world has evolved further—we are even more integrated and mobile, suggesting we’d benefit from fewer, more stable time zones. Why stick with a system designed for commerce in 1883? In reality, America already functions on fewer than four time zones.
Research based on time use surveys found American’s schedules are determined by television more than daylight. That suggests in effect, Americans already live on two time zones.
Did You Ever Think the U.S. Would be largest Energy Producer? October 5, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Enviroment, Geopolitics.
Tags: Energy, Environment, Geopolitics, Natural gas production, Petroleum production
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Since 2008, U.S. petroleum production has increased 7 quadrillion Btu, with dramatic growth in Texas and North Dakota. Natural gas production has increased by 3 quadrillion Btu over the same period, with much of this growth coming from the eastern United States. Russia and Saudi Arabia each increased their combined hydrocarbon output by about 1 quadrillion Btu over the past five years. Note: Petroleum production includes crude oil, natural gas liquids, condensates, refinery processing gain, and other liquids, including biofuels. Barrels per day oil equivalent were calculated using a conversion factor of 1 barrel oil equivalent = 5.55 million British thermal units (Btu).
What In The World! October 4, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Geopolitics, Lifestyle.
Tags: Environment, Geopolitics, Population
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Syrian Conflict Goes Back 13 Centuries September 11, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, Religion.
Tags: Iran, Islam, Religion, Syria, war
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The eastern Roman Empire was half alive, half gobbled up by the Arabs. And Iran — well, it had been wiped out as an enlightened, ancient empire a century before, in 651. After that, the Arabs took a long rest on the borders of Sogd modern-day central Asia, with its capital in Samarkand, which they began to conquer only in 712.
Why the rivalry? Why did the conquerors the Arabs so loathe the conquered the Iranians? That’s where the eighth century comes in. A hundred years after the Arabs destroyed Iran, their own empire, which stretched from Spain to the Chinese border, was a teetering wreck, being devoured from the inside by rivalries and bad government.Then, in 747, a revolt began in Iran that would eventually overthrow the Umayyad dynasty, replacing it with the Abbasids. The Abbasids would go on to build Baghdad and rule the huge Islamic caliphate for 500 years — until the arrival of Genghis Khan and his Horde.Yes, the Abbasids were Arabs, but their scribes, builders and literati were Iranians and the Arabs who cared to learn from them. As a result, the Iranians gradually all but took over their conqueror’s empire from the inside
Here is the crucial bit: The Arab-Iranian divide is far more than cultural. In the eighth century, subjugated Iran was also abandoning its ancient religion — Zoroastrianism — and creating its own, unique strand of Islam, Shiite, that stood in opposition to the dominant Sunni strand favored by the Abbasids.
A historian would tell us to remember that today’s conflict in Syria can be traced back to an Arab-Iranian — Sunni-Shiite – - rivalry that is 13 centuries old
The Science of Snobbery September 10, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Food, Lifestyle, Music.
Tags: Food, Marketing, Music, Psychology, Wine
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Articles on this wine research recommend that serving cheap wine in fancy bottles or reaching for bottom shelf wine. Does that mean you should constantly deceive yourself into enjoying cheap wine? Or never spend more than $10 since we often mistake $10 bottles with $100 bottles? In that case, will you never spend over $10 on sushi for same reason? Or never spend over $30 at a fancy restaurant because the ambiance often tricks people into thinking a simple chicken dish is fancy?
Ordinary consumers don’t think hard and deliberately when sipping wine over a conversation with friends or listening to a concert. Even when thinking deliberatively, overcoming our intuitive impressions is difficult for experts and amateurs alike. This article has referred to the influence of price tags and context on products and experiences like wine and classical music concerts as tricks that skew our perception. But maybe we should consider them a real, actual part of the quality.
What does this all say about wine snobs? The answer is just as unclear. Due to the way that appreciation of wine, fancy food, and other aspects of high culture is often used to police class lines, studies demonstrating the limitations of expert judgment in these areas become fodder for class warfare and takedowns of wine snobs.
That’s fair. Many boorish people talking about the ethereal qualities of great wine probably can’t even identify cork taint because their impressions are dominated by the price tag and the wine label. But the classic defense of wine – that you need to study it to appreciate it – is also vindicated by Master Sommeliers. The open question – which is both editorial and empiric – is what it means for the industry that constant vigilance and substantial study is needed to dependably appreciate wine for the product quality alone. But the questions is relevant to the enjoyment of many other products and experiences that we enjoy in life