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Now we know Why New Hampshire’s Motto is “Live Free or Die” September 25, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, philosophy & politics.
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Earlier this month, a Belknap County Superior Court jury found a Barnstead man innocent of felony drug charges after the judge instructed jurors they could decide that acquittal was “a fair result,” even if the state had met the burden of proof.

It’s a legal concept known as jury nullification, a power that experts say has resided in the U.S. Constitution since the nation began but is rarely applied in modern courtrooms.

And it’s the basis for a new state law that permits the defense in all criminal cases “to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy.”  Thanx to Vermonter Carlton Plamer

via Lawyers: ‘Nullify’ to be common refrain in criminal court cases | New Hampshire NEWS03.

Rise of the Asian Welfare State September 22, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics, health, Lifestyle.
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Although poorer countries still limit themselves to ad hoc welfare offerings, fitting the spending level to revenues one budget at a time, there is an increasing trend towards entitlements served by statutory institutions that will outlive the budgetary cycle. As these systems mature, welfare provision will be demand-led, not supply-driven; welfare will become integral to the state. Asia’s tigerish economies are turning marsupial, carrying their dependants along with them as they prowl.

Some of the national leaders who unleashed those tiger economies would be shocked and disturbed by the development. To them the welfare state was a Western aberration that would serve only to undermine thrift, industry and filial duty.

It seems that every country that can afford to build a welfare state will come under mounting pressure to do so. And much of Asia has hit the relevant level of prosperity (see chart 1). Indonesia is now almost as developed as America was in 1935 when it passed the landmark Social Security Act, according to figures compiled by the late Angus Maddison, an economic historian. China is already richer than Britain was in 1948, when it inaugurated the National Health Service (NHS) which, to judge by political ructions—and Olympic opening ceremonies—has become crucial to its sense of national identity.

via Asian welfare states: New cradles to graves | The Economist.

Civilization’s Tools, Just Add People – Open Source Ecology September 22, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff, Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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If you escaped to a Utopia and wanted to bring the discoveries that feed, build and power our civilizations along, these are the machines you would want to bring with you. The only thing that I see missing is the means to defend your colony from others who may want your technology, rather than build it themselves. Some of these have come to fruition, such as an inexpensive machine that can create 16 earth rammed bricks a minute. This creation should have great 3rd world applications today –  in the best Stewart Brand “Whole Earth Catalog” tradition from the 60’s.

The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comfortset these.

 via Open Source Ecology – GVCS.

2012 winners : Astronomy Photographer of the Year September 21, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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A repeat win by Martin Pugh. Click on the link to see the rest.

2012 winners : Astronomy Photographer of the Year : Exhibitions : Visit : RMG.

Tornado Of Fire Caught On Tape In Australia Fire Twister September 19, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Video.
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THERE’S something mean and magical about Australia’s Outback. An Alice Springs filmmaker captured both when a whirlwind of fire erupted before his eyes.

Chris Tangey of Alice Springs Film and Television was scouting locations near Curtin Springs station, about 80km from Ularu, last week when confronted by a fiery phenomenon. He had just finished his tour of the station when workers encountered difficulties with a grader. So he went to help them. A small fire was burning in nearby bushland, so Mr Tangey decided to start filming. He caught the sight of his life. A twister touched down on the spot fire, fanning it into a furious tower of flame.

“It sounded like a jet fighter going by, yet there wasn’t a breath of wind where we were,” he told the Northern Territory News. “You would have paid $1000 a head if you knew it was about to happen.”  The column of fire danced about the landscape for about 40 minutes, he said, as he and the station workers stood transfixed. There was talk of making a quick getaway, Mr Tangey said. But everyone was too hypnotised to feel scared – and he continued furiously filming. “The bizarre thing was that it rarely moved,” he said. “These things just stood there because there was no wind to move them … but it was flickering incredibly fast.”

Darwin weather forecaster David Matthews said small twisters were common in isolated areas. But the fiery vortex was highly unusual. “The flames would have assisted by trying to suck in air and that could have helped generate those circular winds,” Mr Matthews said.

via Tornado Of Fire Caught On Tape In Australia Fire Twister – YouTube.

“Da Vinci Code” evidence found? September 19, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff, Religion.
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A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”

The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.

via Historian Says Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife – NYTimes.com.

Where Are the 47% of Americans Who Pay No Income Taxes? September 18, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, philosophy & politics.
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Eight of the top 10 states with the highest number of nonpayers are red states.

One important note about these numbers: This measures only those Americans who filed for taxes with no liability. Millions more didn’t even file; it’s those millions, added to the estimated 52 million here, who combine to make that 47 percent.

It’s important to remember that just because people aren’t paying income tax doesn’t mean they’re not paying taxes — they pay federal payroll taxes and state and local sales taxes, for example. One those taxes are factored in, the tax regime is basically flat. And the reason that most income tax nonpayers don’t pay is they simply don’t make enough income to qualify to pay. As one might expect, the map of states with the highest poverty levels resembles this map fairly closely. Many of them are also seniors, a highly contested voting bloc. Just more than 10 percent of households pay no income tax because they’re retired. They might also be voters in places like Florida who are already jumpy about the changes to Medicare and Medicaid that the Romney-Ryan ticket has proposed — although they would be mostly unaffected by those reforms.

via Where Are the 47% of Americans Who Pay No Income Taxes? – David A. Graham – The Atlantic.

Is This Why Both My Kids Moved to the USA’s Pacific Northwest? September 15, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Enviroment, Lifestyle.
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via Purely Pacific Northwest on Vimeo. thanx to Bob Bopp from the Northeast

Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science September 15, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Religion, Science & Technology.
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From coffee to cheques and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given us many innovations that we take for granted in daily life. Click on this link to see 20 of the their greatest discoveries. How Islamic inventors changed the world – Science – News – The Independent.

Today Muslims are a fifth of the world’s population, yet contribute only 7% of the world’s GDP. Arabs comprise 5 percent of the world’s population, but publish just 1.1 percent of its books, according to the U.N.’s 2003 Arab Human Development Report. Between 1980 and 2000, Korea granted 16,328 patents, while nine Arab countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E., granted a combined total of only 370, many of them registered by foreigners.

What went wrong?

The Islamic turn away from scholarship actually preceded the civilization’s geopolitical decline — it can be traced back to the rise of the anti-philosophical Ash’arism school among Sunni Muslims, who comprise the vast majority of the Muslim world.

While the Mu’tazilites had contended that the Koran was created and so God’s purpose for man must be interpreted through reason, the Ash’arites believed the Koran to be coeval with God — and therefore unchallengeable. At the heart of Ash’ari metaphysics is the idea of occasionalism, a doctrine that denies natural causality. Put simply, it suggests natural necessity cannot exist because God’s will is completely free. Ash’arites believed that God is the only cause, so that the world is a series of discrete physical events each willed by God.

The Ash’ari view has endured to this day. Its most extreme form can be seen in some sects of Islamists. For example, Mohammed Yusuf, the late leader of a group called the Nigerian Taliban, explained why “Western education is a sin” by explaining its view on rain: “We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain.” As Robert R. Reilly argues in The Closing of the Muslim Mind (2010), “the fatal disconnect between the creator and the mind of his creature is the source of Sunni Islam’s most profound woes.”

Inquiry into the history of Arabic science, and the recovery and research of manuscripts of the era, may have a beneficial effect — so long as it is pursued in an analytical spirit. That would mean that Muslims would use it as a resource within their own tradition to critically engage with their philosophical, political, and founding flaws. If that occurs, it will not arise from any Western outreach efforts, but will be a consequence of Muslims’ own determination, creativity, and wisdom — in short, those very traits that Westerners rightly ascribe to the Muslims of the Golden Age
The New Atlantis » Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science.

The End of Cheap Food September 15, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Food, Science & Technology.
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Ever since the days of Thomas Malthus, who famously predicted in the 18th century that population increases would far outstrip gains in food production, those who have foreseen global famine have been proved relentlessly wrong.

Twice before, our species has been saved from starvation by science. But as we move towards a planet of eight billion people, we are in uncharted territory. Let’s hope a new Norman Borlaug is waiting in the wings.

Shortly after Malthus made his grim prediction, we saw the first Agricultural Revolution – the systematic application of science and technology to farming. New varieties of crops, an understanding of crop rotation and the development of mechanisation saw yields soar. Hunger was also averted by the development of a global trade in food, spurred by the advent of steam ships and refrigeration.

Still, the population kept rising – but along came a saviour in the form of Norman Borlaug, one of the most important human beings ever to have lived. Hitler will always be famous for killing millions; yet Dr Borlaug, an American food scientist, saved billions, and yet relatively few of us have heard of him. In the 1960s, he bred new varieties of wheat and rice and other crops, a breakthrough now called the Green Revolution. If it hadn’t been for him, then Asia and perhaps South America would have seen serious famine in the 1970s.

Now we are reaching the limits of the Green Revolution.


via Can science prevent the great global food crisis? – Telegraph.

Galactic Camouflage –“Advanced ET Civilizations May be Undetectable” September 15, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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“Intelligent species might reasonably worry about the possible dangers of self-advertisement and hence incline towards discretion” — the “Undetectability Conjecture,” put forth by Beatriz Gato-Rivera, a theoretical physicist at the Instituto de Fisica Fundamental (previously Instituto de Matematicas y Fisica Fundamental) of the CSIC (Spanish Scientific Research Council) in Madrid.

According to Gato-Rivera, we may find ourselves in a universe in which there exist intelligent technological civilizations but they have chosen to be undetectable, camouflaging themselves mainly for security reasons (because advanced civilizations could also be aggressive).

Stephen Hawking says “there ought to be many other stars, whose planets have life on them. Some of these stellar systems could have formed 5 billion years before the Earth. So why is the galaxy not crawling with self-designing mechanical or biological life forms?”

Why hasn’t the Earth been visited, and even colonized? Hawking asks. “I discount suggestions that UFO’s contain beings from outer space. I think any visits by aliens, would be much more obvious, and probably also, much more unpleasant.”

via Galactic Camouflage –“Advanced ET Civilizations May be Undetectable” (Today’s Most Popular).

You Can’t Blame Your Stress On Work September 15, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, health, Lifestyle.
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Work stress, job satisfaction and health problems due to high stress have more to do with genes than you might think.

The lead author of “Genetic influences on core self-evaluations, job satisfaction, work stress, and employee health: A behavioral genetics mediated model,” published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Judge studied nearly 600 twins — some identical, some fraternal — who were raised together and reared apart. He found that being raised in the same environment had very little effect on personality, stress and health. Shared genes turned out to be about four times as important as shared environment.

via Feeling stressed by your job? Don’t blame your employer, study shows.

The wonderfully inauthentic art of America’s most vital singer-songwriter – Dylan September 15, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Music.
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You can’t touch this Dylan guy. He’s not there, he’s gone, as Dylan once sang of himself. Then again, he’s easy to find: This summer, for instance, he toured state fairs across much of the U.S., at last the ramblin’, gamblin’ man he pretended to be as a clean-cut kid hanging in Greenwich Village 40 years ago. Dylan knew all along, if often only instinctively, that nothing fresh, new, or startling comes from being “authentic.” It comes from change, growth, evolution, electricity, and “selling out” to the wide world that exists beyond any blinkered, limited conception of proper culture.

The Free-Floating Bob Dylan – Reason.com.

Russia’s Bridge to Nowhere September 8, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, Politics, Science & Technology.
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Alaska doesn’t have the biggest boondoggle bridge project.  Putin just wasted over a billion dollars on a bridge to show off at this week’s 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference.  The bridge to the Russky island, the world’s largest cable-stayed bridge, dead-ends just beyond the bridge, meaning that the 5,000 local residents, who live on the other side of the island and have no access to telephones, public lighting or running water, still have to use a ferry to reach the mainland.

via Bridge to Russky Island – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Undecided Voters Choose the Next President September 8, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, Politics.
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The U.S.A. is so evenly polarized that world events, beyond the control of any campaign, should determine the winner of the Presidential election. Today, voters in a handful of swing counties, within a few undecided states, would tip the balance towards Obama. As an example the I-4 corridor through Orlando will decide Florida. It separates the Republican North with the Democratic South. Florida is the only part of the US where as you drive North, you head South.

But one thing to expect in this world we live in is to expect the unexpected – whether its politics, weather, finance…

Does a Canoe Tip in Quebec? September 2, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Food, Humor.
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There is an old joke in the restaurant business – “What’s the difference between a Canadian and a Canoe?..Answer: “A Canoe tips!”.

Apparently some restaurants in Burlington Vermont got so frustrated with French Canadian tourist not tipping that they empowered their wait-staff to add an 18% gratuity to the bill. The link below is to the article that sparked articles and editorials around the world.

Are Burlington Restaurants Discriminating Against Québecois Customers? | Seven Days.

Everything You Think You Know About China Is Wrong September 1, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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For the last 40 years, Americans have lagged in recognizing the declining fortunes of their foreign rivals. In the 1970s they thought the Soviet Union was 10 feet tall — ascendant even though corruption and inefficiency were destroying the vital organs of a decaying communist regime. In the late 1980s, they feared that Japan was going to economically overtake the United States, yet the crony capitalism, speculative madness, and political corruption evident throughout the 1980s led to the collapse of the Japanese economy in 1991.

Could the same malady have struck Americans when it comes to China? The latest news from Beijing is indicative of Chinese weakness: a persistent slowdown of economic growth, a glut of unsold goods, rising bad bank loans, a bursting real estate bubble, and a vicious power struggle at the top, coupled with unending political scandals. Many factors that have powered China’s rise, such as the demographic dividend, disregard for the environment, supercheap labor, and virtually unlimited access to external markets, are either receding or disappearing.

The current economic slowdown in Beijing is neither cyclical nor the result of weak external demand for Chinese goods. China’s economic ills are far more deeply rooted: an overbearing state squandering capital and squeezing out the private sector, systemic inefficiency and lack of innovation, a rapacious ruling elite interested solely in self-enrichment and the perpetuation of its privileges, a woefully underdeveloped financial sector, and mounting ecological and demographic pressures.


via Everything You Think You Know About China Is Wrong – By Minxin Pei | Foreign Policy.

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