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How a Solar Flare Almost Triggered a Nuclear War in 1967 August 11, 2016

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Hbomb-detonation-colorizedOn May 23, 1967, multiple radar installations in the Arctic suddenly and inexplicably went dark.The U.S. military believed the Soviets had managed to disable the Early Warning System. With war imminent, the Air Force began prepping aircraft equipped with nuclear weapons. However, those aircraft never launched, as commanders received crucial information at the last minute that may have averted full-scale nuclear war.

That information came from the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) newly established Solar Forecasting Center. A few days prior, it had detected a massive solar storm, one of the largest of the century. The storm produced solar flares and radio bursts that knocked out communications around the world, including the Air Force’s Early Warning System.

The Solar Forecasting Center issued a bulletin warning that severe solar flares were incoming, and that bulletin managed to reach a commanding officer in time to avert action against the Soviets. If that bulletin had been delayed a few minutes, those nuclear aircraft could have launched, and the solar flares would have made it impossible to communicate in the air. If those aircraft had launched, there would have been no way to call them back.

Source: How a Solar Flare Almost Triggered a Nuclear War in 1967

How to Hack an Election in 7 Minutes August 6, 2016

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It’s not just Trump who is worried about a rigged election; it should be all of us.

With Russia already meddling in 2016, a ragtag group of obsessive tech experts is warning that stealing the ultimate prize—victory on Nov. 8—would be child’s play.

Source: How to Hack an Election in 7 Minutes – POLITICO Magazine

Whose News do you Trust? July 25, 2016

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The Religion of Politics June 18, 2016

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PoliticsOfReligion

Why Facebook Is A Hotbed For Conspiracy Theories June 18, 2016

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The findings retin_foil_hat-218x300inforce prior studies that have shown that trying to debunk skeptics never works, and perhaps now we know why. Conspiracy theorists don’t join social networks to learn, they join them to hear comforting reinforcements of their own ideas. And if you disrupt their happy place with scientific facts, you’re not going to get very far. The study also suggests that social media, especially Facebook, has provided a particularly strong breeding ground for extreme ideas by creating a forum for loners to establish large communities that echo similar, strange beliefs.

Source: Why Facebook Is A Hotbed For Conspiracy Theories – Vocativ

Fish eat plastic like teens eat fast food, researchers say June 3, 2016

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The fish that did hatch in these waters with high quantities of micro-plastics were “smaller, slower, and more stupid” than those that hatched in clean waters, lead author Dr Oona Lonnstedt, from Uppsala University, said.When exposed to predators, about half the young perch from clean waters survived for 24 hours. Those that had been raised with the strongest plastic concentrations were all consumed by pike over the same period.

junkfoodMost surprising for the research team was the way that plastic changed food preferences.

“They all had access to zooplankton and yet they decided to just eat plastic in that treatment. It seems to be a chemical or physical cue that the plastic has, that triggers a feeding response in fish,” Dr Lonnstedt told BBC News. “They are basically fooled into thinking it’s a high-energy resource that they need to eat a lot of. I think of it as unhealthy fast food for teenagers, and they are just stuffing themselves.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36435288

Which stars were you really born under? May 26, 2016

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did you know around 86% of us were actually born under a different constellation to our star sign?

Source: BBC iWonder – Which stars were you really born under?

Why Trump and Sanders May 17, 2016

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What do Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have in common?  – an authoritarian agenda.

The rise of Donald Trump has been accompanied by predictable murmurs of “only in America”. But the Trump phenomenon is better understood as part of a global trend: the return of the “strongman” leader in international politics.

Rather than leading the way, America has arrived late at this dispiriting party. Historians might one day highlight the year 2012 as the turning point. In May of that year Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin as president of Russia. A few months later Xi Jinping was installed as general secretary of the Chinese Communist party.

 Democracies elected Hitler and Mussolini to get their dysfunctional democracies working again. Citizens were willing to give up certain rights for the security of knowing that Mussolini would ” get the trains to run on time”.

In fact, Mr Trump exhibits many of the characteristics of the current crop of strongman leaders, including Messrs Putin, Xi, Erdogan, Sisi, Modi, Orban and Duterte.

Bernie Sanders promises that the power of government would rectify disgruntled voters discontent with Income inequality and wage reversals. Donald Trump promised that his bullying would get things back to where they once were. Both are authoritarian attitudes, relecting the world-wide trend of the return of the strongmen.

Rise of the Strongman

Why Trump and Sanders May 17, 2016

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Millennials (and Xers) Taking the Tough Mudder Pledge | Saeculum Research Blog May 9, 2016

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http://blog.saeculumresearch.com/2012/11/millennials-and-xers-taking-the-tough-mudder-pledge/

Liberals Are Simple-Minded – Reason.com January 18, 2016

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It is almost a truism among psychological researchers that conservatives are simple-minded and dogmatic. Liberals, meanwhile, are supposed to be more complex and open-minded thinkers. But a new paper is calling those conclusions into question.

The more interesting and telling results were found when comparing the liberal and conservative results derived from the environmentalism and religion dogmatism scales. The researchers report, “Conservatives are indeed more dogmatic on the religious domain; but liberals are more dogmatic on the environmental domain.” In fact, they note that “the highest score for simplicity was for liberals” (emphasis theirs).

They note that liberals scored high for dogmatism in response to these three items:

9. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are for the truth that the planet is warming and those who are against that obvious truth.

3. When it comes to stopping global warming, it is better to be a dead hero than a live coward.

10. A person who thinks primarily of his/her own happiness, and in so doing disregards the health of the environment (for example, trees and other animals), is beneath contempt.

The researchers point out, “Those are not just statements about having an environmental position: They are explicitly and overwhelmingly dogmatic statements. And liberals are more likely to agree with such sentiments—for an environmental domain.” The liberal respondents are not just asserting “‘I am an environmentalist’ but rather ‘all people who disagree with me are fools.'”

Ultimately, the researchers report that both liberals and conservatives are almost equally simple-minded when it comes to topics about which they feel strongly

Source: Liberals Are Simple-Minded – Reason.com

And we may be born with a proclivity for being Conservative or Liberal.

Heavier Waiters Make for Heavier Eating – WSJ January 18, 2016

Posted by tkcollier in Food, In The News, Lifestyle.
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In yet another blow to our sense of self-control (to say nothing of our waistlines), it now appears that overweight waiters may inspire people to eat and drink more.

That’s the latest finding from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, which over the years has produced an array of discoveries about the unconscious factors that influence eating.Lab Director Brian Wansink has gained renown for showing that he can manipulate how much people eat by varying lighting, music, the colors and arrangement of jelly beans and the size of one’s fellow diners. In one famous experiment, Dr. Wansink and colleagues fed people soup. But some bowls were rigged up to subtly refill themselves from a large unseen reservoir. “Despite consuming 73% more,” the scientists wrote of the subjects with the refilling bowls, “they did not believe they had consumed more, nor did they perceive themselves as more sated than those eating from normal bowls.”

ibeatanorexia“If you have a heavy server,” says Mr. Döring, “you order more.” Diners with servers with an over 25 BMI (Body Mass Index) – and thus considered “overweight” – were four times likelier to order dessert and ordered 17% more alcoholic beverages. The disparity in ordering was particularly pronounced when diners below the BMI threshold of 25 had a server who was at or over the threshold. Or as Mr. Döring put it, “A heavy waiter or waitress seems to have an even bigger influence on the skinniest diners.”

Source: Heavier Waiters Make for Heavier Eating – WSJ

Europe’s New Medieval Map – WSJ January 18, 2016

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As the EU continues to fracture, this power vacuum could create a 21st-century equivalent of the late Holy Roman Empire: a rambling, multiethnic configuration that was an empire in name but not in fact, until its final dissolution in 1806.

This means that there is still no alternative to American leadership in Europe. For the U.S., a Europe that continues to fracture internally and to dissolve externally into the fluid geography of Northern Africa and Eurasia would constitute the greatest foreign-policy disaster since World War II. The success of the EU over many decades was a product of American power, stemming from the victory over Nazi Germany. For all its imperfections, the EU, even more than NATO, has been the institutional embodiment of a postwar Europe that is free, united and prosperous.

Source: Europe’s New Medieval Map – WSJ

France’s Oedipal Islamist Complex | Foreign Policy January 10, 2016

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ATT00025The country’s jihadi problem isn’t about religion or politics. The terrorists therefore are not the expression of a radicalization of the Muslim population, but rather reflect a generational revolt that affects a very precise category of youth.

Why Islam? For members of the second generation, it’s obvious: They are reclaiming, on their own terms, an identity that, in their eyes, their parents have debased. They are “more Muslim than the Muslims” and, in particular, than their parents. The energy that they put into reconverting their parents (in vain) is significant, but it shows to what extent they are on another planet (all the parents have a story to tell about these exchanges). As for the converts, they choose Islam because it’s the only thing on the market of radical rebellion. Joining the Islamic State offers the certainty of terrorizing.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/07/frances-oedipal-islamist-complex-charlie-hebdo-islamic-state-isis/

Happy New Year – From ISIS to Russia: How War Changed in 2015 – The Atlantic January 1, 2016

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One of the great fears in all this is that a gray-zone conflict—involving, say, U.S. and Chinese military vessels sparring in the South China Sea, or Russia threatening to deploy its nuclear arsenal—could tumble into an open one when some party miscalculates.

Hbomb-detonation-colorizedMore likely, however, is that the patterns on display in 2015 will become more pronounced in the coming year. According to Laura Jackson, China sees the sea, and the earth generally, as only the start of its Three Warfares campaign—a testing ground for ambitions to control portions of outer space, which Chinesemilitary and legal thinkers see, in the words of one Chinese official, “as a natural extension of other forms of territorial control.” Russian military theory envisionsthe wars of the future moving from “direct clash to contactless war,” from “direct annihilation of the opponent to its inner decay,” from “war in the physical environment to a war in the human consciousness and in cyberspace.” In June, aNew York Times investigation uncovered how a series of web campaigns tried to sow panic in the United States by spreading fake Twitter messages, Wikipedia pages, and online news reports about everything from an ISIS attack in Louisiana to Ebola outbreaks and police shootings in Atlanta. This was not the work of mere pranksters, but targeted disinformation operations launched from a Kremlin-backed “troll farm” in St Petersburg. They were perhaps some of the first skirmishes in what Russian military theorists believe to be the battleground of the future: the minds of men and women, where every business deal, retweet, and Instagram post becomes a way of influencing what these theorists call “the Psychosphere.”

It’s a brave new war without beginning or end, where the borders of peace and war, serviceman and civilian have become utterly blurred—and where you and I are both a target and a weapon.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/12/war-2015-china-russia-isis/422085/

Thinking About the American Presidency | Geopolitical Futures December 30, 2015

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To understand the American system, it is important to grasp how little power the American president has at his disposal.

Nevertheless, the American presidency was crafted for the unexpected moment, such as 9/11, where fundamental decisions need to be made within hours or days. When I vote for president, I ignore the policies and programs because they will rarely have the opportunity to pursue them. The American public is very clear in how it votes — it looks at the candidates, not the issues. This has been seen as a sign of shallowness. It is actually a sign of their deep understanding of the presidency.

FreeBeerVoterThe most important decisions presidents make are the ones they were never prepared for and have no policy for. Truman and Korea. Eisenhower and Suez. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Johnson and Vietnam. What their farm programs might have been is of monumental irrelevance. First, they can propose but Congress and the courts must enact. Second, it was the crises that defined their presidency. They had no policy for any of these, because they did not know what was coming.

When voters say they judge the person, what they are saying is that character is more important than the intentions. Intentions of presidents are crushed by history. Character, if you can glimpse it, tells you if the person is smart enough to understand the moment of history he is compelled to govern in, and the constraints it imposes on his choices. He needs to understand what is possible and impossible, in order that he have the ability to cause the least damage to the nation. Because in the end that’s what presidents must do. And the president must have the strange combination of hubris in imagining being president, and modesty, in understanding how little it means

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/thinking-about-the-american-presidency/

Monsanto Is Going Organic in a Quest for the Perfect Veggie | WIRED December 28, 2015

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Ear of Corn Ripening in Field

Ear of Corn Ripening in Field ca. 2000

Well before their veggie business went kaput, Monsanto knew it couldn’t just genetically modify its way to better produce; it had to breed great vegetables to begin with. As Stark phrases a company mantra: “The best gene in the world doesn’t fix dogshit germplasm.”

What does? Crossbreeding. Stark had an advantage here: In the process of learning how to engineer chemical and pest resistance into corn, researchers at Monsanto had learned to read and understand plant genomes—to tell the difference between the dogshit germplasm and the gold. And they had some nifty technology that allowed them to predict whether a given cross would yield the traits they wanted.

The key was a technique called genetic marking. It maps the parts of a genome that might be associated with a given trait, even if that trait arises from multiple genes working in concert. Researchers identify and cross plants with traits they like and then run millions of samples from the hybrid—just bits of leaf, really—through a machine that can read more than 200,000 samples per week and map all the genes in a particular region of the plant’s chromosomes.

They had more toys too. In 2006, Monsanto developed a machine called a seed chipper that quickly sorts and shaves off widely varying samples of soybean germplasm from seeds. The seed chipper lets researchers scan tiny genetic variations, just a single nucleotide, to figure out if they’ll result in plants with the traits they want—without having to take the time to let a seed grow into a plant. Monsanto computer models can actually predict inheritance patterns, meaning they can tell which desired traits will successfully be passed on. It’s breeding without breeding, plant sex in silico. In the real world, the odds of stacking 20 different characteristics into a single plant are one in 2 trillion. In nature, it can take a millennium. Monsanto can do it in just a few years.

And this all happens without any genetic engineering. Nobody inserts a single gene into a single genome.

http://www.wired.com/2014/01/new-monsanto-vegetables/

One God for Christians, Muslims and Jews? Good Question December 20, 2015

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So why don’t evangelicals walk around saying they don’t worship the same God as the Jews, the same way they’re insisting on saying it about Muslims? Here’s the kicker: Evangelicals do believe they’re worshiping the God of the Old Testament — they just think Jews have failed to understand his essence as revealed in the New Testament.

InfadelIn evangelical theology, God revealed himself to the Hebrews without expressly making his triune nature known. The incarnation changed all that, and created the possibility of Christian salvation. The Jews failed to get the message. All along, they were worshiping the triune God. They just never knew it, and still don’t.

Hence, to an evangelical Christian, it would make no sense to say that Jews worship a different God — even though to the Jews, that God isn’t theologically very different from the God of the Muslims. To bring this full circle, note that Pope Francis might well believe the same thing. The difference is that he believes Muslims, too, are worshiping the God of the Hebrews. Given that the Prophet Muhammad himself believed that the God of the Jews and of the Christians was the same God he was serving, that view seems pretty convincing. The pope’s view would have the benefit of being consistent as among Jews and Muslims.

If all this makes you want to run to atheism, fair enough. Otherwise, Merry Christmas!

http://bv.ms/1RxRqVp

The Paris Terror Attacks Remind Us That ISIS Needs Our Help to Survive – Resilient Corporation December 20, 2015

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This dream of absolute disconnection from an “evil world” is what all fundamentalists (religious and secular) seek as their collective salvation. In the not too-distant past, such disconnects were far simpler to achieve: head to some desolate place beyond marked borders, plant your flag, and fight off anyone who dared to trespass. This is why religions – as a rule – have always burned hottest along frontiers.

But that’s the thing with globalization: it engulfs frontiers, reformatting local cultures at a disorienting speed. Alongside all those networks arrive unprecedented economic opportunities that have – over the past half century – shrunken the share of humanity suffering extreme poverty to an all-time low of 10 percent. But that global force of change creates enormous local frictions, unleashing all manner of social tensions, civil strife, political revolutions, and extremist movements – all of which put people on the move and further accelerate globalization’s blending dynamics. It’s one thing for your world to be transformed by my networks, but quite another if that process drives you to my doorstep in search of your better life.

Discarded refugee life vests

Discarded refugee life vests

But that’s exactly what continues to happen. Muslims fleeing the Middle East and North Africa for Europe and North America don’t seek to replicate in these new environments the harsh life they left behind. Yes, they want to retain their cultural and religious identities amidst this disorienting transition, but who wouldn’t? The key point is that they seek the combination of social peace, political freedom, and economic opportunity that only a pluralistic, diverse nation-state can provide. These people aren’t seeking refuge in authoritarian regimes; they’re seeking legitimate sanctuary in countries whose capacity for tolerance ensures it. So, again, when we unduly oppress Muslims within our ranks, we essentially endorse ISIS’ message of intolerance and apartheid. We feed their strength while dissipating our own.

In the end, it’s our diversity that renders our nations truly resilient. Indeed, that melting-pot mindset defines these United States – the world’s oldest and most successful multinational union. It’s what makes us resilient in the face of all the vulnerabilities that our open societies present to our enemies as logical targets. The West can – and should – never hope to harden itself sufficiently to withstand any attack without suffering internal perturbations. We cannot firewall ourselves off from this wonderful world of our creating and still thrive.

Instead, we must continue to grow our collective resilience from the bottom-up – family by family, neighborhood by neighborhood, and community by community. Resilience helps people where they live by fostering communal bonds built around the basic human instinct for empathy beyond kinship – that rarest of behaviors in nature. All who are willing must be invited to join in this effort, because, the bigger our “tent” is, the sooner we prevail in this struggle to define humanity’s future.

https://resilient.com/the-paris-terror-attacks-remind-us-that-isis-needs-our-help-to-survive/

Boomer Blues December 12, 2015

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1491 – The Atlantic October 12, 2015

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A long article about what the “New World” that Columbus discovered may really have been like, versus what we were taught in school.

Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact

Source: 1491 – The Atlantic

How Global Warming Can Start an Ice Age October 12, 2015

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ArcticColdSpotIn the last month, there’s been much attention to a cool patch in the North Atlantic Ocean, where record cold temperatures over the past eight months present a stark contrast to a globe that is experiencing record warmth. And although there is certainly no consensus on the matter yet, some scientists think this pattern may be a sign of long-feared consequences of climate change — a slowing of North Atlantic ocean circulation, due to a freshening of surface waters.

The cause, goes the thinking, would be the rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet, whose large freshwater flows may weaken ocean “overturning” by reducing the density of cold surface waters (colder, salty water is denser). If cold, salty waters don’t sink in the North Atlantic and flow back southward toward Antarctica at depth, then warm surface waters won’t flow northward to take their place.

Now, two new studies just out in Nature Geoscience help to underscore why scientists have a good reason to think this sort of thing can happen — namely, because it appears to have happened in the Earth’s distant past. And not just once but on multiple occasions.

Source: Why the Earth’s past has scientists so worried about the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation – The Washington Post

Back in 2007, I posted this sun spot research that  predicted that by 2020 we would be cooled by a low solar activity ( a cooler sun) period. https://terryorisms.com/2007/06/23/read-the-sunspots/   

The Reign of Recycling October 5, 2015

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According to the E.P.A.’s estimates, virtually all the greenhouse benefits — more than 90 percent — come from just a few materials: paper, cardboard and metals like the aluminum in soda cans.
Once you exclude paper products and metals, the total annual savings in the United States from recycling everything else in municipal trash — plastics, glass, food, yard trimmings, textiles, rubber, leather — is only two-tenths of 1 percent of America’s carbon footprint.

As a business, recycling is on the wrong side of two long-term global economic trends. For centuries, the real cost of labor has been increasing while the real cost of raw materials has been declining. That’s why we can afford to buy so much more stuff than our ancestors could. As a labor-intensive activity, recycling is an increasingly expensive way to produce materials that are less and less valuable.

It would be much simpler and more effective to impose the equivalent of a carbon tax on garbage, as Thomas C. Kinnaman has proposed after conducting what is probably the most thorough comparison of the social costs of recycling, landfilling and incineration.

The Reign of Recycling http://nyti.ms/1iUpbBE

Destined for War: Can China and the United States Escape Thucydides’s Trap? – The Atlantic September 30, 2015

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ChinaUSAPuzzleWar, however, is not inevitable. Four of the 16 cases in our review did not end in bloodshed. Those successes, as well as the failures, offer pertinent lessons for today’s world leaders. Escaping the Trap requires tremendous effort. As Xi Jinping himself said during a visit to Seattle on Tuesday, “There is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides Trap in the world. But should major countries time and again make the mistakes of strategic miscalculation, they might create such traps for themselves.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/united-states-china-war-thucydides-trap/406756/

Why is that so confusing for you? September 24, 2015

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