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Long debate ended over cause, demise of ice ages – solar and earth wobble January 30, 2010

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In a publication to be released Friday in the journal Science, researchers from Oregon State University and other institutions conclude that the known wobbles in Earth’s rotation caused global ice levels to reach their peak about 26,000 years ago, stabilize for 7,000 years and then begin melting 19,000 years ago, eventually bringing to an end the last ice age.

“We can calculate changes in the Earth’s axis and rotation that go back 50 million years,” Clark said. “These are caused primarily by the gravitational influences of the larger planets, such as Jupiter and Saturn, which pull and tug on the Earth in slightly different ways over periods of thousands of years.”

That, in turn, can change the Earth’s axis – the way it tilts towards the sun – about two degrees over long periods of time, which changes the way sunlight strikes the planet. And those small shifts in solar radiation were all it took to cause multiple ice ages during about the past 2.5 million years on Earth, which reach their extremes every 100,000 years or so.

Sometime around now, scientists say, the Earth should be changing from a long interglacial period that has lasted the past 10,000 years and shifting back towards conditions that will ultimately lead to another ice age – unless some other forces stop or slow it.

via Long debate ended over cause, demise of ice ages – solar and earth wobble – CO2 not main driver « Watts Up With That?.

As the World Turns January 29, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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Even though the waning of American hegemony can be clearly seen on the horizon, the fundamental reality is that it’s a long way off. China’s economy is basically only Japan-sized, and the country faces massive challenges starting with the fact that the majority of the population is still impoverished peasant farmers. India is even worse off. Japan is in demographic decline. Europe isn’t an actual country and can’t really make foreign-policy decisions.

In other words, our power is slipping away, but only very slowly.

via As the World Turns | The American Prospect.

iPad -HiTech or KoTech? January 29, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, Science & Technology.
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“Are there any women on Apple’s marketing team?” Answer: Apparently not. (Period.)

via That Time Of The Month: The Best Period-Related iPad Jokes – Ipad jokes – Jezebel.

Even Hitler is ranting about this latest Apple roll-out

It’s Always About Sex – Jihad That Is January 28, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Religion.
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It is no coincidence that the Arabic word “fitna” has two meanings – beautiful woman and social chaos.

Glazov writes that in many Islamic societies, “women are supposed to dehumanise themselves in order to be tolerated … Women are considered to be the incarnation of shahwa [desire] which comes from the devil. In this environment the pathological notion arises that a man and a woman cannot be alone without the ominous threat of evil in their midst.

“The men denigrate the object of their lust so as to diminish their own shame. In this dynamic of sexual repression and misogyny, love is reduced to violent domination which becomes directly intertwined with terrorism against societies that allow women freedom, especially sexual freedom.”

viaFrustration fuels acts of hatred. (more…)

253mph is New World Record Wind Gust January 27, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment.
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The concession came three days after the World Meteorological Organization posted a snippet on its Web site saying a panel of experts reviewing extreme weather and climate data turned up a 253 mph gust on Australia’s Barrow Island during Cyclone Olivia in 1996.

That tops the 231 mph record set atop Mount Washington on April 12, 1934. “Somehow it fell through the cracks and the Australians didn’t think it was a big deal,” he said. “We hear that, and it kinds of blows our minds, but of course, we’re weather fans and we’re tuned into that sort of thing.” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100126/ap_on_sc/us_wind_record_toppled

“Pants on the Ground” Vs. Susan Boyle January 25, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, Music.
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I just find it interesting that what goes viral from England is Susan Boyle singing a lament about their Lost Empire, while Brett Favre is celebrating a football play-off win with his teammates with a round of this viral song from the American version of Idol. 

China – Land of Dinosaur Discovery January 25, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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What killed the dinosaurs? Scientist Wang Haijun thinks the answer may be buried inside a 980-foot-long ravine in the Chinese countryside 415 miles southeast of Beijing where hundreds of the creatures may have huddled in the final moments before their extinction.

The fossils here — more than 15,000 fractured, mangled and blackened bones from about 65 million years ago in the late Cretaceous period right before they went extinct — support theories of a catastrophe.

What’s even more intriguing is that there are seven distinctive “floors” of dead dinosaurs in the pit. Some of the soil is yellow, other layers are red clay, which Xu said seems to show that “there wasn’t just one event. The dinosaur bones are preserved in different layers, suggesting they were killed in several different times,” he said.

via China spends billions to study dinosaur fossils at sites of major discoveries – washingtonpost.com.

Avatar Banned in China January 18, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle, Video.
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Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported that the state-run China Film Group had instructed cinemas nationwide to stop showing the 2-D version of Avatar from January 23 on orders from Beijing’s propaganda chiefs.

The newspaper said: “Reportedly, the authorities have two reasons for this check on Avatar: first, it has taken in too much money and has seized market share from domestic films, and second, it may lead audiences to think about forced removal, and may possibly incite violence.”

via Avatar on road to Oscars after Golden Globe wins (contains video).

The War on Spam & Cybercrime January 17, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Technology.
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While Western governments debate the efficacy, or legality, of going on the offensive against Internet spies and criminals, more Internet security companies, and academic researchers, are taking the initiative. The most recent victory was the elimination of the Neustar of Lethic botnet, which represented about ten percent of all spam email sent.

The biggest victory took place in 2008, when a small ISP, McColo Corporation, was taken off line. This caused worldwide spam traffic to decline by over 50 percent in one day. Before that, two similar ISPs, the Russian Business Network and Intercage, had a less dramatic impact on spam traffic, and Internet based criminal activity in general, when they were shut down.

Internet crime, particularly spam (unsolicited email) has become a big money maker. Because of the very low cost of sending it, you need only one response for several million spam messages, to make lots of money. But the same ISPs that host the spammers, also host operations that try to sneak into business, government and personal computers to steal stuff (bank account information, trade secrets, classified military information).

via Information Warfare: The War Below.

History of Violence in Buddhism January 16, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Religion.
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Armed Buddhist monks in Thailand are not an exception to the rule; they are contemporary examples of a long historical precedence. For centuries monks have been at the helm, or armed in the ranks, of wars. How could this be the case? But more importantly, why did I (and many others) hold the belief that Buddhism=Peace (and that other religions, such as Islam, are more prone to violence)?

It was then that I realized that I was a consumer of a very successful form of propaganda. Since the early 1900s, Buddhist monastic intellectuals such as Walpola Rahula, D. T. Suzuki, and Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, have labored to raise Western awareness of their cultures and traditions. In doing so, they presented specific aspects of their Buddhist traditions while leaving out others.

You have monks taking up arms and marching in the Russo-Japanese War, or earlier messianic battles in China when they thought killing people would bring them closer to enlightenment (a Ten Stage Process). Buddhists have fought against non-Buddhists, or other Buddhists. Japanese Buddhists fought to cleanse the impure Buddhist lands in China and Korea. Thai and Burmese fought for centuries against each other, each claiming religious authority as Cakravartins. This is what the book covers.

via Monks With Guns: Discovering Buddhist Violence | RDBook | ReligionDispatches. (more…)

Can Russia Modernize? January 15, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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Putin is the tsar. He has both money — the government’s budget and the oligarchs’ fortunes — and the coercive power of the state firmly in his hand. He is the arbiter at the top and the trouble-shooter in social conflicts below. His most precious resource is his personal popularity, which adds a flavor of consent to his authoritarian regime.

But none of that is good enough. The 75 percent of Russians who make up the Putin majority are essentially passive and seek only the preservation of a paternalistic state. Putin can sit comfortably on their support, but he cannot ride forward with it. The best and brightest are not there.

Enter Medvedev. His Internet-surfing, compassionate and generally liberal image helps recruit a key constituency — those beyond the reach of Putin himself — to Putin’s plan. They include the country’s most apolitical citizens and its brainy, techy youth. Whether the plan succeeds is another matter.

via The Kremlin Two-Step | Opinion | The Moscow Times.

Why is Haiti so Poor? January 15, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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Haiti, once called The Jewel of the Antilles, was the richest colony in the entire world. Economists estimate that in the 1750s Haiti provided as much as 50% of the Gross National Product of France. The French imported sugar, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, cotton, the dye indigo and other exotic products. In France they were refined, packaged and sold all over Europe. Incredible fortunes were made from this tiny colony on the island of Hispaniola.

The ultimate causes of Haiti’s misery are human. They are rooted in greed and power. Both the international community and Haiti’s rulers have continuously assured the destruction of Haiti’s colonial wealth and the creation and continuance of her misery.

1. The international community’s role.

1. French colonial contribution.

2. The international boycott of the new nation of 1804.

3. The French debt of 1838.

4. The United States Occupation, 1915-1934.

5. Post World War II United States domination.

2. The role of Haiti’s rulers.

1. Slave-like labor systems in the early republic.

2. The elite’s protection of its wealth.

3. Haitian corruption.

4. Human rights violations as a tool of oppression.

via Why is Haiti so Poor?. (more…)

‘Doomsday Clock’ Moves One Minute Away From Midnight January 15, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Geopolitics.
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Pervez Hoodbhoy, member, BAS Board of Sponsors, professor of high energy physics, and head, Physics Department, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, said: “We may be at a turning point, where major powers realize that nuclear weapons are useless for war-fighting or even for deterrence. Threats to security are more likely to come from economic collapse, groups bent on terrorizing civilians, or from resource scarcity exacerbated by climate change and exploding populations, rather than from conflict between nuclear-armed superpowers. Against these new threats, nuclear weapons are a liability because their possession by a few countries stimulates desire in other countries and complicates things immensely.”

via ‘Doomsday Clock’ Moves One Minute Away From Midnight — NEW YORK, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —.

Is Ayatollah Sistani Iran Regime’s Biggest Threat? January 14, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Religion.
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Yet ironically, the regime may face its greatest threat not from within, but from outside the country. Ever since June’s contested election, observers have been keeping a close watch on Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (who hails from Iran but resides in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq), considered the highest living authority in all of Shiite Islam. Sistani comes from the “quietist” tradition of Shiite theology, one that, unlike the Islamic Republic’s ruling doctrine of velayat-eh faqih, holds that clerics should abstain from becoming directly involved in politics. So far, he has refrained from condemning the regime’s actions. But his clout is so strong in the Shiite world that, were this to change, the Islamic Republic would arguably no longer face just a political crisis within Iran, but also a crisis of religious confidence among all Shiites.

via WPR Article | Iran Faces Down Its Grand Ayatollahs.

Could we be in for 30 years of global COOLING? January 12, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment.
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Oceanic cycles have switched to a ‘cold mode’, where data shows that the amount of Arctic summer sea ice has increased by more than a quarter since 2007.

The research has been carried out by eminent climate scientists, including Professor Mojib Latif. He is a leading member of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

He and his colleagues predicted the cooling trend in a 2008 paper, and warned of it again at an IPCC conference in Geneva in September.

Working at the prestigious Leibniz Institute in Kiel University in Germany, he has developed methods for measuring ocean temperatures 3,000ft under the surface, where the cooling and warming cycles start.

For Europe, the crucial factor is the temperature in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. He said such ocean cycles – known as multi-decadal oscillations or MDOs – could account for up to half of the rise in global warming in recent years.

Professor Latif said: ‘A significant share of the warming we saw from 1980 to 2000 and at earlier periods in the 20th century was due to these cycles – as much as 50 per cent.

‘They have now gone into reverse, so winters like this one will become much more likely. All this may well last two decades or longer.

via Could we be in for 30 years of global COOLING? | Mail Online.

Half of China’s Moms-To-Be Have C-Sections January 12, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in health.
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While In the U.S., where C-sections are at an all-time high of 31 percent, China’s 46 percent C-section rate was followed by Vietnam and Thailand with 36 percent and 34 percent, respectively. Cambodia and India had the lowest rates of 15 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

The study did not discuss specific reasons for the high number of C-sections, but it noted that more than 60 percent of the hospitals studied were motivated by financial incentives to perform surgeries

via Survey – Half of China’s Moms-To-Be Have C-Sections – NYTimes.com.

Avatar sparks 3-D Star Wars, Matrix, Lord of the Rings January 10, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in In The News.
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Hollywood is preparing to re-release some past hits, including Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in 3-D following the record-breaking success of Avatar.

Experts now predict that 3-D will become the new multiplex standard within five years. This will be as dramatic a shift as when the “talkies” killed off silent movies in the early 20th century.

Retro-fitting a screen classic with 3-D imagery could take as little as four months, using software to manipulate a digital copy of the film.

via Avatar sparks 3-D makeover for action classics – Times Online.

Cracks in the Jihad January 10, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Religion.
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Today, the holy war is set to slip into three distinct ideological and organizational niches.

The first niche is occupied by local Islamist insurgencies, fueled by grievances against “apostate” regimes that are authoritarian, corrupt, or backed by “infidel” outside powers (or any combination of the three). Filling the second niche is terrorism-cum–organized crime, most visible in Afghanistan and Indonesia but also seen in Europe, fueled by narcotics, extortion, and other ordinary illicit activities. In the final niche are people who barely qualify as a group: young second- and third-generation Muslims in the diaspora who are engaged in a more amateurish but persistent holy war, fueled by their own complex personal discontents. Al Qaeda’s challenge is to encompass the jihadis who drift to the criminal and eccentric fringe while keeping alive its appeal to the Muslim mainstream and a rhetoric of high aspiration and promise.

Al Qaeda’s altered design has a number of immediate consequences. The global jihad is losing what David Galula called a strong cause, and with it its political character. This change is making it increasingly difficult to distinguish jihad from organized crime on the one side and rudderless fanaticism on the other. This calls into question the notion that war is still, as Clausewitz said, “a continuation of politics by other means,” and therefore whether it can be discontinued politically. Second, coerced by adversaries and enabled by the Internet, the global jihadi movement has dismantled and disrupted its own ability to act as one coherent entity. No leader is in a position to articulate the movement’s will, let alone enforce it. It is doubtful, to quote Clausewitz again, whether war can still be “an act of force to compel the enemy to do our will.” And because jihad has no single center of gravity, it has no single critical vulnerability. No matter what the outcome of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan and other places, a general risk of terrorist attacks will persist for the foreseeable future.

via Cracks in the Jihad.

Live Wildlife Web Cams January 10, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Cool Sites, Enviroment, Streamingvideo, Video.
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Streaming video from around the world. The most recent addition is in the den of a hibernating bear about to give birth.

WildEarth.TV … it’s in your nature. – wildearth.tv.

How America Can Rise Again January 7, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
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Is America going to hell? After a year of economic calamity that many fear has sent us into irreversible decline, the author finds reassurance in the peculiarly American cycle of crisis and renewal, and in the continuing strength of the forces that have made the country great: our university system, our receptiveness to immigration, our culture of innovation. In most significant ways, the U.S. remains the envy of the world. But here’s the alarming problem: our governing system is old and broken and dysfunctional. Fixing it—without resorting to a constitutional convention or a coup—is the key to securing the nation’s future. – by James Fallows

via How America Can Rise Again – The Atlantic (January/February 2010).

Surfing 50′ Waves at Jaws for X-mas January 2, 2010

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Cold War Ended Cheap, Safe Energy From Thorium January 2, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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In 1965, Weinberg and his team built a working reactor, one that suspended the byproducts of thorium in a molten salt bath, and he spent the rest of his 18-year tenure trying to make thorium the heart of the nation’s atomic power effort. He failed. Uranium reactors had already been established, and Hyman Rickover, de facto head of the US nuclear program, wanted the plutonium from uranium-powered nuclear plants to make bombs. Increasingly shunted aside, Weinberg was finally forced out in 1973.

That proved to be “the most pivotal year in energy history,” according to the US Energy Information Administration. It was the year the Arab states cut off oil supplies to the West, setting in motion the petroleum-fueled conflicts that roil the world to this day. The same year, the US nuclear industry signed contracts to build a record 41 nuke plants, all of which used uranium. And 1973 was the year that thorium R&D faded away — and with it the realistic prospect for a golden nuclear age when electricity would be too cheap to meter and clean, safe nuclear plants would dot the green countryside. Click on the link to see the world-wide interest in reviving this technology.

via Uranium Is So Last Century — Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke | Magazine.

16 minute video about Liquid-Flouride Thorium Reactors


Economic View – For Much of the World, a Good Financial Decade January 2, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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Steady economic growth is an under-reported news story.

In a given year, an extra percentage point of economic growth may not seem to matter much. But, over time, the difference between annual growth of 1 percent and 2 percent determines whether you can double your standard of living every 35 years or every 70 years. At 5 percent annual economic growth, living standards double about every 14 years.

Putting aside the United States, which ranks third, the four most populous countries are China, India, Indonesia and Brazil,all had over 5% annual growth. Even Africa, as a whole grew at moer than 5% most years.

via Economic View – For Much of the World, a Good Financial Decade – NYTimes.com.

Atheist Ireland Publishes 25 Blasphemous Quotes to Protest New Law January 2, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Religion.
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Freedom of Relgion should include freedom from religion. Well not in Ireland anymore. On 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine ($40,000). The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defenses permitted.

This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic States led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.

via Atheist Ireland Publishes 25 Blasphemous Quotes | blasphemy.ie.

Tiger Woods – Adrenaline Junkie Control Freak January 2, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, Sports.
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During a trip to New Zealand for his caddie’s wedding, Woods went bungee jumping off a cable car suspended 440 feet over a river valley. On the same trip, he climbed behind the wheel of a race car and traded paint with the competition on a dirt track.

Woods spent a week at Fort Bragg going through Special Forces training with the Marines and became a master scuba diver, capable of holding his breath for four minutes at a time while exploring the ocean. He could stay on the ocean floor even longer, Woods explained, when he used a regulator. But the scenery was so much better without one.

“You don’t want any bubbles because that scares the fish off,” he said. “The only problem is that when you don’t make any bubbles, the sharks come around, too.”

via Tiger Woods – Salon.com.

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