I keep a weblog like it's still the 90s. For commentary and dissent please visit jontaylor.ca, or various other purveyors of thought online.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Little Green Footballs - Why I Parted Ways With The Right

Little Green Footballs - Why I Parted Ways With The Right: "The American right wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff.

I won’t be going over the cliff with them."

Hipster girls of Austin - m4w

best of craigslist: Hipster girls of Austin - m4w: "I know I can never be with you, cute hipster girl. My bicycle has not only brakes, but multiple gears. It is, in fact, a hybrid, the fanny pack of the bicycle world. I am entirely free of tattoos. My facial hair is patchy at best, so I am unable to grow a beard."

Yoani Sanchez, Cuba's popular blogger, has been beaten up for describing life

Yoani Sanchez, Cuba's popular blogger, has been beaten up for describing life - Telegraph: "'I was on my way to a peaceful protest against violence with a few friends when it happened,' explained the 34-year-old mother, in a rare telephone interview with The Sunday Telegraph from her cramped apartment in Havana's Nuevo Vedado district. 'A black car pulled up. The three men inside called out my name and told me to get in.'

When she refused, she said, the men bundled her into the car and started punching her. 'They were saying, 'It's all over, Yoani.' I really thought they were going to kill me.'"

Otter Choas

Otter Snow Fun – Neatorama

Concrete Canvas

Concrete Canvas

Climategate: The Skeptical Scientist’s View

Climategate: The Skeptical Scientist’s View: "As readers are now aware, the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, the main climate research center in Britain, has had 128 megabytes of secret emails and other data placed online by someone calling himself “FOIA.” A number of scientists have been trying for years to get the raw data possessed by CRU placed online, filing requests under the British Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Although required by law to release this information, CRU has not done so, or has claimed that the data were accidentally erased. We now have proof in the emails that the illegal withholding of information was intentional, and that the erasure of data was also intentional.

The now non-secret data prove what many of us had only strongly suspected — that most of the evidence of global warming was simply made up. That is, not only are the global warming computer models unreliable, the experimental data upon which these models are built are also unreliable. As Lord Monckton has emphasized here at Pajamas Media, this deliberate destruction of data and the making up of data out of whole cloth is the real crime — the real story of Climategate."

Hollywood vs. New York

Hollywood vs. New York - Goodie Bag

More Money, More Fishing

More Money, More Fishing - Freakonomics Blog - NYTimes.com: "The island of Kiribati began to subsidize coconut harvesting in the hopes of encouraging fishermen to switch to the coconut trade and thereby help preserve Kiribati’s reefs from the ravages of overfishing. But as NPR reports, the plan backfired: with more money coming in, coconut harvesters worked fewer hours, which left more time for their favorite leisure activities — including fishing, which increased 33 percent since the start of the program. Says one researcher who studied the unintended consequences of the subsidies: “It hit us like a bumper sticker saying — a bad day fishing is better than a good day working.”"

We need to return to skepticism being a positive in science

Interesting Radio Interview on Climate From Australia

The Sound Of All Hell Breaking Loose: "Beware The Scientific-Technological Complex"

small dead animals: The Sound Of All Hell Breaking Loose: "Beware The Scientific-Technological Complex": "The CRU leaks will confirm the views of every half-baked political scientist in the world, that science does not deal in fundamental truths but is, rather, a politically negotiated discourse. It is very disturbing."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

enumeration sensation

enumeration sensation - bookforum.com / in print: "Middle of the night and your head teems with half-formed thoughts: Did I pay the car insurance? Where did I park the car? Is my best dress shirt at the dry cleaners? What time's the wedding on Saturday? Need a map of Vermont to get there. I should frame my vintage maps one of these days. Maybe start with that bird's-eye view of New Amsterdam, or the blue-tinted mariner's chart . . ."

From Climategate to Copenhagen

From Climategate to Copenhagen

Friday, November 27, 2009

11 Ways Geeks Measure the World

11 Ways Geeks Measure the World | GeekDad | Wired.com

"It's like twitter. Except we charge people to use it."

"It's like twitter. Except we charge people to use it.": "You are correct and I apologise. Your last project was actually both commercially viable and original. Unfortunately the part that was commercially viable was not original, and the part that was original was not commercially viable.

I would no doubt find your ideas more 'cutting edge' and original if I had traveled forward in time from the 1950's but as it stands, your ideas for technology based projects that have already been put into application by other people several years before you thought of them fail to generate the enthusiasm they possibly deserve. Having said that though, if I had traveled forward in time, my time machine would probably put your peer to peer networking technology to shame as not only would it have commercial viability, but also an awesome logo and accompanying pie charts."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Militarization of Sex

The Militarization of Sex | Foreign Policy: "Mohammad, a 40-year old Lebanese Shiite who lives in Hezbollah's stronghold in Beirut's southern suburbs, was holding forth on the virtues of resistance, loyalty, and sex. 'You could create the most loyal army by providing political power, social services and fulfilling the desires of your men -- namely, sexual ones,' he declared.

'And Hezbollah has been very successful in this regard,' Mohammad continued."

Why 'climategate' won't stop greens

Why 'climategate' won't stop greens | Lorrie Goldstein | Columnists | Comment | Toronto Sun: "Now they and their media shills -- who sneered that all who questioned their phony 'consensus' were despicable 'deniers,' the moral equivalent of those who deny the Holocaust -- are the ones in denial about the enormity of the scandal enveloping them.

So they desperately try to portray it as the routine 'messy' business of science, lamely insisting, 'nothing to see here folks, move along.'

Before the Internet -- which has given ordinary people a way to fight back against the received wisdom of so-called 'wise elites' -- they might have gotten away with it."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Slashdot Comments | Climatic Research Unit Hacked, Files Leaked

Slashdot Comments | Climatic Research Unit Hacked, Files Leaked: "phoenix321 (734987) * on Friday November 20"

" You can have billions of data points over several millenia and the only thing you can hope to prove is a strong correlation between A=CO2 levels and B=global temperature.

But you cannot prove or disprove that A causes B, B causes A - or an unknown C causes A and B. Because of the scientific method, you only have a hypothesis, which can only be judged from the quality of the predictions it made.

And here we come full circle: the theory of global warming predicts a global temperature increase over the next few decades. And then scientists urge us to do something to counter that. With large amounts of money and maybe even a reduction in our quality of life. Let's call this strategy of repentance R and the opposite strategy, doing absolutely nothing and keep on sinning S.

Now we can bring game theory into the fray:

Player Mankind M against Global Warming Theory(tm) W.

Mankind can play strategy SIN or REPENT while Global Warming can play the strategies HOT or NOT.

Now let's look at the payoff matrix:

(S, H) = it's now hot, Global Warming was right, but we saved billions of Dollars, Euros, Yuan and Rubles that happily multiplied on compound interest all those years. Let's spend the money on building dams, counter-desertificaton and storm shelters. And pour some money into researching fusion, we need it. Mankind will suffer, but certainly recover. Countries that pursued Repent anyway will now have a severe disadvantage.

(S, N) = it's cool, Global Warming was wrong. We saved uncounted billions of dollars and are probably on the way of building the spaceship for the Alpha Centauri victory condition. Countries that pursued Repent anyway now have a severe disadvantage.

(R, H) = it's now hot, but we don't know if Global Warming was right OR an unkown variable O (let's call it "Sun Output" just for kicks) was the reason. We spent billions and lost the equivalent of Earth's weight in Gold in missed compound interest. Anyway, we didn't spend enough so we lack the funds to build enough dams and shelters. Those few countries that bailed out of the plan now CAN build dams and shelters and will gain the upper hand.

(R, N) = it's cool now but we spend billions of dollars and missed a lot of compound interest. We either did enough or global warming was weaker than expected or the unkown variable C was decreasing as well. Spaceship victory condition is delayed for several centuries. Those few countries that bailed out of the plan will gain the upper hand.

As the scientific method can only disprove, (S, N) provides the only definite answer: Warming was wrong. All other outcomes are unreliable:
(S, H) could mean Global Warming was right or variable O was the reason
(R, H) could mean Global Warming was right, but we did too little, too late OR variable O was the reason.
(R, N) could mean Global Warming was right and we did enough OR Global Warming was wrong and we wasted oodles of money.

to That means
- even in 20 or 30 years, we will not know for sure if global warming was right.
- those who didn't pursue a Repent strategy will always have outpaced those who did
- defect is the dominant strategy for different factions of Mankind
- we either need a New World Order to force everyone in line or the defectors will laugh at us in any possible outcome.

Great. Just great.

I leave it as an exercise to the reader to map out a more complex scenario with two players, Mankind and Warming, where Mankind can "Repent" or "Sin", but Warming can play "Hot from CO2", "Hot from the Sun" or "Cold either way". I doubt the payoff matrix favors insane spending to Repent.

Anyway, the latest predictions I heard of our holy climate priests were an increase of 2 degrees centigrade in 2100. (no, not 2010). If the global temperature was a random walk with a delta of -0.1, 0 and +0.1 every year, we can and will obtain much greater deltas just by chance alone."

What If Earth Had Rings? | Universe Today

What If Earth Had Rings?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why did Dion's wife help Harper? - thestar.com

Why did Dion's wife help Harper? - thestar.com: "It's unfortunate the Liberals don't have a leader like Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau or Jean Chretien. No doubt there are many intelligent, well educated, successful Liberals out there. One of them has to step up to the plate in order to combat the dangerous ideology of the Harper Conservatives. If Stephen Harper ever won a majority, it would make the rule of Mike Harris look like a Sunday school picnic."

This published letter to the editor in the TorStar is a perfect example of the thinking that will prevent the Liberals from returning to Government. They currently have a world class academic, who has resided at Harvard and on the BBC. I'm not sure what the commenter means when they say they need an "intelligent, well educated, successful Liberal" if Ignatieff doesn't fit that role.

Dion, the fallen former Leader of the Liberal Party and presumptive Prime Minister in Waiting was a leading academic in Quebec, trained at La Sorbonne before guiding Quebec through the Unity crisis, his role was the "No" side and he won. If this is not the definition the reader seeks I can't define it.

What is missing from the commentary, and from the pages of Liberal friendly newspapers is criticism that the party is lacking cohesion and general direction. What is the Liberal position on anything? Furthermore, if they state a position does it mean that they will compromise it?

The Liberals need to accept that they will lose the next election badly. This will allow their 'thinkers' to put together a policy that adheres to the liberal root of the name. Ignatieff is a global leader on human rights thinking, why has the Liberal Party not formed a cohesive policy that shames the current Conservative response? Dion is a master of unity, why not use his expertise to explain why no one in Alberta would ever consider voting Liberal?

The political IQR in Canada is currently being failed by the lack of ideology in the Liberal party, not the lack of leadership. They have to believe in something before people will believe in them.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Djokovic edges past Davydenko

BBC Sport - Tennis - Djokovic edges past Davydenko

In confusing to spell eastern European last name cup. Next up: Radek Štěpánek.

Wanted: green engineers | The Economist

Leaders: Wanted: green engineers | The Economist: "And it would be nice to find ways to spread that aspiration more widely. In a number of countries (Britain is an example) engineering does not carry much cultural cachet. A pride in the engineered past—remember Isambard Brunel—is accompanied by apathy towards the engineering of the present. It is neither fruitful nor desirable for governments to meddle in broad cultural attitudes. But leaders of the environmental movement, and politicians who aspire to such leadership, might do well to encourage the young to apply their idealism to their choice of career path."

Global WarmingGate: What Does It Mean?

Pajamas Media - Global WarmingGate: What Does It Mean?: "Email 1107454306 is particularly interesting. In it, Dr Jones writes:
The two MMs [McKittrick and McIntyre] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.
What makes this interesting is that the CRU, in later years, announced that they had “inadvertently deleted” their raw data when they responded to an FOIA request from … McIntyre."

-gate? Really PJMedia? why not climaquiddick?

The lessons of "Climategate"

Marginal Revolution: The lessons of "Climategate": "My reaction is like that of physicist David Wright: it is appalling that the scientists in the emails are concealing data and trying to suppress their rivals' research. I haven't heard of that in economics. (I am not surprised at this in climate science, but I would be in almost any other area of science.) Indeed, there are a number of episodes in which mistakes have been found in famous economics papers because of close scrutiny of data voluntarily supplied by the writers to scholars they know will search for every flaw. Examples are the Feldstein social security programming error, Lott's work on gun control, and Levitt and Donohue on abortion and crime.

Of course, all work has some mistakes, and a sophist could use trivial mistakes to try to discredit a paper, but in the profession trivial mistakes are expected and do not discredit, and we are all aware that big mistakes are very possible too, even from top researchers. Moreover, the custom of revealing one's data and methods is a deterrent to deliberate fraud. I haven't heard of deliberate fraud in econ published papers, but if climate science does not have the custom of making data and methods publicly available, we should predict that fraud will occur."

From the comments.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Science: Introducing the transparent ocean

Science: Introducing the transparent ocean | The Economist: "Mankind’s view of the planet’s ocean life will be transformed for ever in 2010. That change will come from the insights gained in a ten-year, $750m project involving 2,000 scientists from 82 countries and the technological marvels they are using to see across vast reaches of the oceans and to track the travels of individual fish. Emerging from this is what Ron O’Dor, the Dalhousie University scientist who leads the Census of Marine Life, calls the “transparent ocean”, revealing what is happening in the seas in three dimensions and over time."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Death Blow to Climate Science

The Death Blow to Climate Science: "These people controlled the global weather data used by the IPCC through the joint Hadley and CRU and produced the HadCRUT data. They controlled the IPCC, especially crucial chapters and especially preparation of the Summary for PolicyMakers (SPM). Stephen Schneider was a prime mover there from the earliest reports to the most influential in 2001. They also had a left wing conduit to the New York Times. The emails between Andy Revkin and the community are very revealing and must place his journalistic integrity in serious jeopardy. Of course the IPCC Reports and especially the SPM Reports are the basis for Kyoto and the Copenhagen Accord, but now we know they are based on completely falsified and manipulated data and science. It is no longer a suspicion. Surely this is the death knell for the CRU, the IPCC, Kyoto and Copenhagen and the Carbon Credits shell game."

10 Foods That (Thankfully) Flopped

mental_floss Blog - 10 Foods That (Thankfully) Flopped: "Any company smart enough to bless mankind with sprayable whipped cream—the sort that promotes direct-to-mouth feeding—has got to know a thing or two about immediate gratification. But sadly, the makers of Reddi-wip� were unable to meld their keen understanding of human laziness with one of processed meat. They figured, if you’re cooking breakfast in the morning and you’ve got a hankering for bacon, why dirty up a pan you’ll only have to clean later? The solution: foil-wrapped Reddi-Bacon you could pop into your toaster for piping-hot pork in minutes.

While it seemed perfect for the busy 1970s household, the absorbent pad designed to soak up the dripping grease tended to leak, creating not only a fire hazard, but also a messy (if not totally ruined) toaster. Ultimately, the product lasted about as long as it took to cook; the company scrapped it before it went to market nationwide."

Mussolini's 'brain and blood for sale on internet'

BBC News - Mussolini's 'brain and blood for sale on internet'

Friday, November 20, 2009

Freakin' Fundamentalists: Stonings here, lashings there, misogyny everywhere

Freakin' Fundamentalists: Stonings here, lashings there, misogyny everywhere | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com: "It may not be politically correct to speak truthfully about this subject, but the truth itself is not always politically correct, now is it?"

5 Things to Be Thankful For This Year

5 Things to Be Thankful For This Year | Foreign Policy

Cellphone clown study

Study Says Most Cellphone Users Are Too Distracted To Notice A Clown On A Unicycle - Cellphone clown study - Gizmodo: "Clowns are scary to some, but apparently they're invisible to most cellphone users. According to a study involving a unicycle, a clown, and 150 college students, cellphone users were half as likely as others to notice a red-nosed, unicycle rider."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bobby McFerrin Makes a Keyboard…Out of People

mental_floss Blog - Bobby McFerrin Makes a Keyboard…Out of People

Gibson CEO Takes Leave Of Absence From Rainforest Group While Feds Investigate Imported Wood

Investigations: Gibson CEO Takes Leave Of Absence From Rainforest Group While Feds Investigate Imported Wood: "When agents raided Gibson Guitar's manufacturing facility earlier this week, some articles pointed out that the company's CEO Henry Juszkiewicz was on the board of the Rainforest Alliance, an environmental group that works to preserve endangered ecosystems. Now the group has postponed its annual certification of Gibson Guitars, and Juszkiewicz is temporarily stepping down from the board."

Revenge of the Climate Laymen

Revenge of the Climate Laymen - WSJ.com: "letting people feel duped by hyperbole is proving even more harmful to the warmers' cause.

'I never said I was proving or disproving anything…. I just don't think we should be thanking the people who make it harder to find out what's true,' Mr. McIntyre says.

The climate establishment will probably never thank Mr. McIntyre, much less follow his example. The rest of us should do both."

India as #1

TheMoneyIllusion - India as #1: "Since I’ve been making a fool of myself with all these contrarian posts, I might as well get it all out of my system. When Tyler Cowen asked me for my most absurd belief, one idea that I came up with was that India will have the world’s largest economy in the year 2109."

Municipal Wi-Fi: Metro-net

Municipal Wi-Fi: Metro-net | The Economist: "ON A cold and drizzly autumn day, no one would mistake Swindon, a prosperous mid-sized town near Bristol, for northern California. But it does lie on the M4 corridor, a cluster of high-tech firms that includes several names familiar from Silicon Valley. Local employers include Intel, a chipmaker, and Motorola and Alcatel-Lucent, two telecoms firms.

No surprise, then, that the borough wants to be the first in Britain to offer free wireless internet access to all its residents. Other cities have experimented—Bristol, for instance, offers wireless access in the city centre, and Norwich ran a trial between 2006 and 2008—but Swindon reckons it is the first to offer free access throughout the borough. The first phase, covering Highworth, a market town just north of Swindon itself, will be completed in December. The rest is due by April 2010, whereupon Swindonians will be able to stay online as they ride around on buses, lounge in parks or drink in pubs."

Return To Moral High Ground Postponed Indefinately

small dead animals: Return To Moral High Ground Postponed Indefinately:
"CNN, Jan. 22nd - Promising to return America to the 'moral high ground' in the war on terrorism, President Obama issued three executive orders Thursday to demonstrate a clean break from the Bush administration, including one requiring that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed within a year. During a signing ceremony at the White House, Obama reaffirmed his inauguration pledge that the United States does not have 'to continue with a false choice between our safety and our ideals.'

Washington Post, Nov.18th - President Obama directly acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay will not close by the January deadline he set, but he said he hoped to still achieve that goal sometime next year."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nick Tosches on Opium Dens

Nick Tosches on Opium Dens | vanityfair.com: "Nonetheless, I was born to smoke opium. More precisely, I was born to smoke opium in an opium den.

Why opium? Thomas De Quincey’s description of it as “the celestial drug” is not far from perfect: “Here,” said he, “was a panacea, a φάρμ˘ακον νηπενθές, for all human woes; here was the secret of happiness about which the philosophers had disputed for so many ages, at once discovered.” This celestial drug, this panacea, “communicates serenity and equipoise to all the faculties, active or passive,” and “introduces amongst them the most exquisite order, legislation, and harmony.” No one, “having once tasted the divine luxuries of opium, will afterwards descend to the gross and mortal enjoyments of alcohol.”"

China's currency: A yuan-sided argument

China's currency: A yuan-sided argument | The Economist: "PRESIDENT Barack Obama, on his first visit to China this week, urged the government to allow its currency to rise. President Hu Jintao politely chose to ignore him. In recent weeks Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, have also called for a stronger yuan. But China will adjust its currency only when it sees fit, not in response to foreign pressure."

Solar plant to store energy in molten salt

Solar plant to store energy in molten salt | Green Tech - CNET News: "SolarReserve and Preneal have garnered the necessary permit to build a 50-megawatt thermal-solar plant in Spain that will use molten salt to store and release solar energy, the companies said Wednesday.

The project will be built in Alcazar de San Juan, a town about 110 miles south of Madrid. The environmental permit that will allow the construction of a project using molten salt was issued by the local Castilla-La Mancha government."

I feel like this is a repost.

Findings - A Case in Antiquities for ‘Finders Keepers’

Findings - A Case in Antiquities for ‘Finders Keepers’ - NYTimes.com: "Restricting the export of artifacts hasn’t ended their theft and looting any more than the war on drugs has ended narcotics smuggling. Instead, the restrictions promote the black market and discourage the kind of open research that would benefit everyone except criminals.

Legitimate dealers, museums and private collectors have a financial incentive to pay for expert excavation and analysis of artifacts, because that kind of documentation makes the objects more valuable. A nation could maintain a public registry of discoveries and require collectors to give scholars access to the artifacts, but that can be accomplished without making everything the property of the national government."

I Love xkcd

I Love xkcd on Vimeo

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Michelin guide and its undercover inspectors

The Michelin guide and its undercover inspectors : The New Yorker: "One afternoon last month, a woman in her early thirties, with shoulder-length blond hair and large brown eyes, arrived at Jean Georges, on the ground floor of the Trump International Hotel, in midtown Manhattan. The restaurant, which is owned by the chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and is one of the highest rated in the world, has an understated decor, with bare white walls and floor-to-ceiling windows. The woman took a seat at one of the tables in the center of the room. She wore a light-blue dress with a high neckline, little makeup, and no jewelry. There was nothing remarkable about her appearance, and her demeanor was quiet and unassuming, as if designed to deflect attention—a trait indispensable for her profession as an inspector for the Michelin hotel-and-restaurant guide."

Inventing a Better Patent System

Op-Ed Contributor - Inventing a Better Patent System - NYTimes.com: "The best way forward is for Congress to sidestep the damages question and instead add five amendments to existing statutes that would improve the processing of patents, reduce lawsuits and speed up the arrival of innovations on the market."

Pinker on "What the Dog Saw."

gladwell.com: Pinker on "What the Dog Saw.": "I wondered about the basis of Pinker’s conclusion, so I e-mailed him, asking if he could tell me where to find the scientific data that would set me straight. He very graciously wrote me back. He had three sources, he said. The first was Steve Sailer. Sailer, for the uninitiated, is a California blogger with a marketing background who is best known for his belief that black people are intellectually inferior to white people."

Roundtable Discussion: The Role Of The Record Label

Roundtable Discussion: The Role Of The Record Label - Monitor Mix Blog : NPR: "So, while the notion of community has been broadened and redefined -- we may no longer see record labels as megaphones for towns and the bands therein -- perhaps we still need someone to help curate and make sense of the music out there. Personally, I still turn to certain labels as a means of filtration.

And, while plenty of musicians have acrimonious relationships with their labels, just as many do not. Musicians still choose to work with specific labels because they are aware of their history and want to be part of a tangible community of people and supporters."

Two standards of policing failed the residents of Caledonia

Two standards of policing failed the residents of Caledonia - The Globe and Mail: "Mr. Brown spent the night in jail and was released without charges in the morning.

Not mentioned was the fact that the natives were there illegally, were illegally blocking a public road, illegally demanding the couple present native-issued 'passports,' illegally imposing a curfew, illegally turning Mr. Brown away from his own home.

Not mentioned was the fact that by this time, Mr. Brown and his family had been living under this state-condoned oppression for three months, had been driven nearly mad by the threatening conduct of the natives, and had been left enraged and bewildered that the OPP and the government regularly turned a blind eye to it all."

With Geoengineering Outlawed, Will Only Outlaws Have Geoengineering?

With Geoengineering Outlawed, Will Only Outlaws Have Geoengineering? - Freakonomics Blog - NYTimes.com: "What is the appropriate response to this news?

It probably depends on your view of the world — of politics, the environment, and human nature. Should one ignore the snowstorms and chalk them up to the Chinese simply being Chinese? Or should one think about these small-scale geoengineering exercises as a potential threat to the world’s geopolitical balance? It isn’t hard to imagine the trouble that might result if governmental snow- and rain-making became commonplace: one drought-ridden country declares war on its neighbor after the neighbor “steals” its rainfall."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Take me back to Constantinople, by Edward Luttwak

Take me back to Constantinople, by Edward Luttwak | Foreign Policy: "I. Avoid war by every possible means, in all possible circumstances, but always act as if war might start at any time. Train intensively and be ready for battle at all times -- but do not be eager to fight. The highest purpose of combat readiness is to reduce the probability of having to fight.

II. Gather intelligence on the enemy and his mentality, and monitor his actions continuously. Efforts to do so by all possible means might not be very productive, but they are seldom wasted.

III. Campaign vigorously, both offensively and defensively, but avoid battles, especially large-scale battles, except in very favorable circumstances. Don't think like the Romans, who viewed persuasion as just an adjunct to force. Instead, employ force in the smallest possible doses to help persuade the persuadable and harm those not yet amenable to persuasion."

French and Irish fall out over ‘box’ incident

French and Irish fall out over ‘box’ incident � Irish Soccer Insider

Satan, the great motivator

The curious economic effects of religion - The Boston Globe

Drexel Shaft Demolished, In Beautiful Slo-Mo

Video: Drexel Shaft Demolished, In Beautiful Slo-Mo

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Invisible Man

Invisible Man: "Chinese artist Liu Bolin does not use photoshop, just paint. It helps to know that the government shut down his art studio in 2005"

Questions that are rarely asked: the Wikipedia paradox

Marginal Revolution: Questions that are rarely asked: the Wikipedia paradox: "Question 1: What’s the most notable subject that’s not notable enough for inclusion in Wikipedia?

Let’s assume for now that this question has an answer (“The Answer”), and call the corresponding subject X. Now, we have a second question whose answer is not at all obvious.

Question 2: Is subject X notable merely by being The Answer?"

Obama’s swelling ego

Obama’s swelling ego - The Boston Globe: "PRESIDENT OBAMA was too busy to attend the celebrations in Germany this week marking the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago. But he did appear by video, delivering a few brief and bloodless remarks about how the wall was “a painful barrier between family and friends’’ that symbolized “a system that denied people the freedoms that should be the right of every human being.’’ He referred to “tyranny,’’ but never identified the tyrants - he never uttered the words “Soviet Union’’ or “communism,’’ for example. He said nothing about the men and women who died trying to cross the wall. Nor did he mention Harry Truman or Ronald Reagan - or even Mikhail Gorbachev.

He did, however, talk about Barack Obama."

Cadillac Hearse - 4X4 Lifted

Cadillac:eBay Motors (item 280422782749 end time Nov-19-09 10:33:22 PST)

Willing to barter for another hearse... that's not weird right?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Interview with Umberto Eco: 'We Like Lists Because We Don't Want to Die'

SPIEGEL Interview with Umberto Eco: 'We Like Lists Because We Don't Want to Die' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "The list is the origin of culture. It's part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order -- not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists -- the shopping list, the will, the menu -- that are also cultural achievements in their own right."

Canadians cry foul as Buy American policy hits home - thestar.com

Canadians cry foul as Buy American policy hits home - thestar.com: "John Hayward, who runs an industrial equipment plant in Halton Hills, said U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the importance of free trade 'but the actions just aren't matching up with the words.

'For American companies to be doing so much business in our market and blocking Canadian access to theirs, and then turning around and beating out the same Canadian companies in Canada, is just intolerable. Either we are open trading partners or we're not,' said Hayward."

Alternative Headline: Obama Killing Canadian Business with Bigoted Policy.

Amazing Pictures, Pollution in China

Amazing Pictures, Pollution in China | ChinaHush: "20. Anhui Province Cihu Chemical Industry District (安徽省慈湖化工园区) built a underground pipe to discharge wastewater into the Yangtze River. The wastewater sometimes is black, gray, dark red, or yellow, wastewater from different chemical factories has different colors. June 18, 2009"

from: SDA

Book Review - 'What the Dog Saw - And Other Adventures,' by Malcolm Gladwell

Book Review - 'What the Dog Saw - And Other Adventures,' by Malcolm Gladwell - Review - NYTimes.com: "The problem with Gladwell’s generalizations about prediction is that he never zeroes in on the essence of a statistical problem and instead overinterprets some of its trappings. For example, in many cases of uncertainty, a decision maker has to act on an observation that may be either a signal from a target or noise from a distractor (a blip on a screen may be a missile or static; a blob on an X-ray may be a tumor or a harmless thickening). Improving the ability of your detection technology to discriminate signals from noise is always a good thing, because it lowers the chance you’ll mistake a target for a distractor or vice versa. But given the technology you have, there is an optimal threshold for a decision, which depends on the relative costs of missing a target and issuing a false alarm. By failing to identify this trade-off, Gladwell bamboozles his readers with pseudoparadoxes about the limitations of pictures and the downside of precise information."

I believe Pinker is the only one who is allowed to speak this way of the Gladwell.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Charles Krauthammer on the media coverage of the Fort Hood shooting

Charles Krauthammer on the media coverage of the Fort Hood shooting - washingtonpost.com: "What does such violence have to do with Hasan? He was not a returning soldier. And the soldiers who returned home and shot their wives or fellow soldiers didn't cry 'Allahu Akbar' as they squeezed the trigger.

The delicacy about the religion in question -- condescending, politically correct and deadly -- is nothing new. A week after the first (1993) World Trade Center attack, the same New York Times ran the following front-page headline about the arrest of one Mohammed Salameh: 'Jersey City Man Is Charged in Bombing of Trade Center.'

Ah yes, those Jersey men -- so resentful of New York, so prone to violence."

5 Times MC Hammer Changed History

mental_floss Blog - 5 Times MC Hammer Changed History: "What finally got the negotiations going? Hammer. While it wasn’t the only factor, or even a big factor at all, Hammer’s presence certainly makes it interesting. Hammer is a friend of Crabtree’s mentor, Deion Sanders, and agent, Eugene Parker, and inexplicably sat in on some of the contract talks. Soon after, Crabtree was signed. 49ers blogger Matt Maiocco even reports that hotel staff overheard Crabtree telling Hammer to “get it done,” so maybe he played a bigger role than we all thought."

5 Self-Destructive Ways People Accidentally Cured Themselves

5 Self-Destructive Ways People Accidentally Cured Themselves | Cracked.com: "That's right--the woman shot herself in the face with a shotgun and a fucking medical professional said it was an improvement."

7 Things "Good Parents" Do (That Screw Kids Up for Life)

7 Things "Good Parents" Do (That Screw Kids Up for Life) | Cracked.com: "Remember your school days, when Steve the quarterback managed to keep passing his classes despite firmly believing that the first president of the United States was George Washington Carver? If you suspected he was cheating somehow, a study of over 5000 students from the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute seems to confirm it. According to the study, athletes are some of the most dishonest kids in school, with football players turning out the worst with over 72 percent admitting to having cheated during various examinations. Where does this attitude come from? The study suggests it might be the coaches."

Spies and Racism at Ikea?: Former Executive Writes Shocking Tell-All

Spies and Racism at Ikea?: Former Executive Writes Shocking Tell-All - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "Charitable gestures are cheaper than a clean conscience and have the added advantage of being tax-deductible, Stenebo notes"

2000s (decade)

2000s (decade) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Why is it that Wikipedia has the power to make me feel old?

5 (Happy Little) Things You Didn’t Know About Bob Ross

mental_floss Blog - 5 (Happy Little) Things You Didn’t Know About Bob Ross: "Before Ross became a TV painter, he spent 20 years in the United States Air Force and retired with the rank of master sergeant. In fact, an early assignment to Alaska helped expose the Florida native to the snowy mountains and evergreens that would become staples of his art."

Still a 'whistle-blower' to oil sands activists

Still a 'whistle-blower' to oil sands activists: "It's been 3.5 years since John O'Connor, a transplanted Nova Scotian working as a physician for the community of Fort Chipewyan, Alta., went public with concerns that he noticed an epidemic of cancer in the community downstream from major oil-sands operations.

His troubling reports have since appeared in hundreds of news stories around the world. His story was made into a documentary by an Academy Award-nominated director -- a doctor facing down the 'multi-billion-dollar Oil Sands Industry' as he 'fights for the lives of the aboriginal people living and dying of rare cancers downstream from one of the most polluting oil operations in the world,' read the film's promotional blurb.

All the while, Alberta's College of Physicians and Surgeons was investigating complaints against Dr. O'Connor, lodged by physicians at Health Canada, who suggested he had failed to provide evidence for his claims, and caused 'undue alarm' in the community."

9/11 suspects to be tried in New York

9/11 suspects to be tried in New York - Yahoo! News: "The accused mastermind of the September 11 attacks and four other suspects will be sent to New York and prosecuted in a court near where the World Trade Center once stood, the U.S. government said Friday, as it took a step toward closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the others had been facing trials in military commissions at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, but U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to move some cases to U.S. criminal courts and close the prison by mid-January"

NASA Ames Scientist Develops Cell Phone Chemical Sensor

NASA - NASA Ames Scientist Develops Cell Phone Chemical Sensor: "The device Li developed is about the size of a postage stamp and is designed to be plugged in to an iPhone to collect, process and transmit sensor data. The new device is able to detect and identify low concentrations of airborne ammonia, chlorine gas and methane. The device senses chemicals in the air using a 'sample jet' and a multiple-channel silicon-based sensing chip, which consists of 16 nanosensors, and sends detection data to another phone or a computer via telephone communication network or Wi-Fi."

File this under creepy and cool.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Father Raymond J. de Souza: The Fort Hood double standard

Father Raymond J. de Souza: The Fort Hood double standard - Full Comment: "It's a matter of basic honesty to look at all factors, and a matter of basic justice not to attribute to the whole the actions of the one. But it would be more honest and more just if that standard were applied to all."

It's hockey first, immigrants told

It's hockey first, immigrants told - The Globe and Mail

Damn right.

Unambiguously Ambidextrous

Unambiguously Ambidextrous: "Whether it be pointing out that Stephane Dion would have run larger deficits than Stephen Harper, or that the Liberals have appointed more Senators than the Conservatives have [and we have to balance the Senate anyway, so it's all well and good to appoint partisans just like the Liberals did], or even trying to justify things like the Conservative logos on giant novelty cheques, it would seem that there is a good deal of patience for Conservative transgressions among conservatives."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scientists say curry compound kills cancer cells

Scientists say curry compound kills cancer cells | U.S. | Reuters: "LONDON (Reuters) - A molecule found in a curry ingredient can kill esophageal cancer cells in the laboratory, suggesting it might be developed as an anti-cancer treatment, scientists said on Wednesday.

Researchers at the Cork Cancer Research Center in Ireland treated esophageal cancer cells with curcumin -- a chemical found in the spice turmeric, which gives curries a distinctive yellow color -- and found it started to kill cancer cells within 24 hours."

Most hopeful tongue twister ever.

Extinction Countdown: Tuna fishing kills an albatross every five minutes

Extinction Countdown: Tuna fishing kills an albatross every five minutes: "According to RSPB and BirdLife, 37 bird species are highly at risk from commercial ocean fishing. Sixteen of those species are already officially endangered, and six of the most at-risk species are albatrosses. The birds get tangled in longline hooks, which are baited with squid and other tasty morsels. The two organizations state that 'for many species, this is their greatest extinction threat.'"

Planet Slum

Planet Slum | Foreign Policy: "I got interested to break some of my own stereotypes of these places,"

An Ethical Question: Does a Nazi Deserve a Place Among Philosophers?

Emmanuel Faye’s Book Questions Status of Heidegger - NYTimes.com: "For decades the German philosopher Martin Heidegger has been the subject of passionate debate. His critique of Western thought and technology has penetrated deeply into architecture, psychology and literary theory and inspired some of the most influential intellectual movements of the 20th century. Yet he was also a fervent Nazi.

Now a soon-to-be published book in English has revived the long-running debate about whether the man can be separated from his philosophy."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Draw the sketch of your accident online

Draw the sketch of your accident online

I'm waiting for the first MetaAccident.

Stasi Files Revisited: The Banalities and Betrayals of Life in East Germany

Stasi Files Revisited: The Banalities and Betrayals of Life in East Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "A West German pudding. That was all it took. Once the Stasi found out about it, a family breadwinner was fired from his army job and an East German household was plunged into destitution.

Even worse, the family later found out that they had been turned in by a close friend. 'She was watering the plants and went through the cupboards to find a Dr. Oetker dessert,' Vera Iburg, who has worked with files kept by the East German secret police for the last 20 years, told SPIEGEL ONLINE, referring to the snoop. 'What was she doing? She had no business there!'"

The Afro-Latinosaurus Rex - Strange Maps

420 – The Afro-Latinosaurus Rex - Strange Maps

Grizzly Bear - Ready, Able [Official Music Video]

YouTube - Grizzly Bear - Ready, Able [Official Music Video]

Cool Vid.

Germany's Healing Scar: A Photographer's Hike Along the Death Strip

Germany's Healing Scar: A Photographer's Hike Along the Death Strip - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "In the 1980s, J�rgen Ritter spent all his spare time photographing the East German border. Years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he returned to the same sites, camera in hand. He has shared some of his then and now photos with SPIEGEL ONLINE."

Helping the Terrorists

Schneier on Security: Helping the Terrorists: "None of this is new. Criminals have used telephones and mobile phones since they were invented. Drug smugglers use airplanes and boats, radios and satellite phones. Bank robbers have long used cars and motorcycles as getaway vehicles, and horses before then. I haven't seen it talked about yet, but the Mumbai terrorists used boats as well. They also wore boots. They ate lunch at restaurants, drank bottled water, and breathed the air. Society survives all of this because the good uses of infrastructure far outweigh the bad uses, even though the good uses are - by and large - small and pedestrian and the bad uses are rare and spectacular. And while terrorism turns society's very infrastructure against itself, we only harm ourselves by dismantling that infrastructure in response - just as we would if we banned cars because bank robbers used them too."

The 100 Best Films of the Decade

The 100 Best Films of the Decade - TimesOnline


CRITERION’S LITTLE FUCK-UPS - Viceland Today: "Wow, you’re not a pretentious hipster piece of shit at all. Really? Really? Everything has to be some moving art house film? Please, spare me the drivel. I love how you people think you’re the most educated and knowledgeable sources on everything. I went to film school too, and unlike the “cool to hate” culture time warp you idiots are stuck in, real film fans can appreciate a movie for what it is. Oh no! Armageddon! It’s not Citizen Cane or some obscure art house piece of dog shit that you can throw out in a conversation with a 17 year old girl to make yourself look cool! Then she’ll really suck on your coke boner. You people disgust me. Here’s a news flash: if every movie were up to your “expectations”, the world would be a boring, depressing place. People watch movies to escape reality. Some of us actually like to get lost in an “unintelligent” action film every once in a while. It’s called SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF you fucking chode. If you really think these films are terrible, how about you get up off of your ass, leave your computer, and make something better. Oh, I forgot…Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach try to provide constructive criticism. And those who can’t provide constructive criticism are annoying hipsters. You’re about as worthless as Hitler. You’re the disgrace of our generation. Go fuck yourselves."

Best comment ever?

BC Arts Hang from a Political Noose

BC Arts Hang from a Political Noose: "I can't help but think that the removal of an economic stimulus such as a tax cut is a political move more so than an economic one and there could be reason for this. Many actors are left wing pinkos. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but when you spend your political energies trying to destroy a party, it should not come as a surprise that the party will seek retribution."

Kraft's bid for Cadbury: Unsweetened

Kraft's bid for Cadbury: Unsweetened | The Economist: "If the price has changed a little, the response of Cadbury’s board has not altered one jot. Cadbury originally said that Kraft’s offer “significantly undervalued” the company and was “unappealing”, just as an American’s idea of chocolate is to the British palate. This time round Cadbury’s appetite for a deal is no greater. It “emphatically rejected” Kraft’s direct offer to its shareholders, adding, just for good measure, that it was “derisory”."

Berlin memories

Marginal Revolution: Berlin memories: "I saw soldiers goose-stepping down one of the main streets. In the stores old ladies yelled and swung their brooms at me. Many buildings still had bullet marks or bomb damage from World War II. In a restaurant we ate a rubber Wiener Schnitzel and shared a table with an East German family; they did not have enough trust in their government to speak a word to us. I was unable to spend my mandatory thirty-mark conversion on anything useful; I carried back some Stendahl and Goethe but didn't want the Lenin. This was in the capital city in the showcase of the communist world."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Russian Math, the Poincare Conjecture and Perelman

Russian Math, the Poincare Conjecture and Perelman - WSJ.com: "Three weeks after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Soviet air force had been bombed out of existence. The Russian military set about retrofitting civilian airplanes for use as bombers. The problem was, the civilian airplanes were much slower than the military ones, rendering moot everything the military knew about aim.

What was needed was a small army of mathematicians to recalculate speeds and distances to let the air force hit its targets.

The greatest Russian mathematician of the 20th century, Andrei Kolmogorov, led a classroom of students, armed with adding machines, in recalculating the Red Army's bombing and artillery tables. Then he set about creating a new system of statistical control and prediction for the Soviet military."

Real vs Placebo Coffee

Neuroskeptic: Real vs Placebo Coffee: "Or does it? Are the benefits of coffee really due to the caffeine, or are there placebo effects at work? Numerous experiments have tried to answer this question, but a paper published today goes into more detail than most. (It caught my eye just as I was taking my first sip this morning, so I had to blog about it.)

The authors took 60 coffee-loving volunteers and gave them either placebo decaffeinated coffee, or coffee containing 280 mg caffeine. That's quite a lot, roughly equivalent to three normal cups. 30 minutes later, they attempted a difficult button-pressing task requiring concentration and sustained effort, plus a task involving mashing buttons as fast as possible for a minute."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Crucifix out, warming in

Crucifix out, warming in - The Globe and Mail: "Well, now it's official. Global warmingism has court-warranted standing as a religion. And a 2,000-year-old religion is banned from manifesting its most precious symbol in front of the eyes of trauma-prone atheists. Lord, have mercy on us. Please.

Is everything sacred – except religion?"

Kadykchan. The City of Broken Dreams

English Russia - Kadykchan. The City of Broken Dreams: "No, this isn’t Chernobyl and there isn’t any dangerous radioactive background or toxic pollution. You can even live in this town… but there is no reason for. This place has become absolutely useless after the collapse of the USSR, like many other Soviet industrial settlements."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Officials Begin Putting Shooting Pieces Together

Officials Begin Putting Shooting Pieces Together : NPR: "That's right, Steve. You know, you referred to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There's - almost seems to be a phenomenon that you could maybe call a pre-traumatic stress disorder. There have been a lot suicides in the Army, many more as a result of these wars than in previous years. Interestingly enough, as many soldiers have killed themselves before they were due to be deployed as after. Thirty-five percent of the suicides are pre-deployment, 35 percent are post-deployment. So there seems to be an issue here of expectation of what you are getting into. And the fact that Major Hasan would've known better than others, even, about how traumatic combat experience would be, you know, raises the question of, you know, was he an example of these soldiers who are literally freaked out by what they are likely to face when they are deployed?"

Women, Children and Goldman Sachs Bankers First

Women, Children and Goldman Sachs Bankers First - Aporkalypse - Gawker: "Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have obtained a total of 1,400 doses of swine flu vaccine from the city of New York, while many pediatricians wait for doses. On the other hand, money is more important than babies."

The Lost Art of the Mixtape

mental_floss Blog � The Lost Art of the Mixtape: "I have to admit, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing — I get nostalgic just thinking about all those dusty old tapes in my closet back home. Here’s a clip of Jason explaining how the project came about:"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What's the best way to take a study break?

What's the best way to take a study break? : Cognitive Daily: "Then he had over 200 students rate the lounges for various qualities thought by the ART to be 'restorative': A sense of 'being away,' 'fascination,' and comfort and ease. The students actually rated the lounges with murals as being more restorative than those with window views of nature, although all the nature views, whether real or artificial, were seen as more restorative than views of urban scenes. It might be that something as simple as a mural could contribute to an effective study break (though it's unclear whether the restorative properties of a lounge would be as effective if it were packed with noisy students)."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

xkcd: the exclusive interview

mental_floss Blog � xkcd: the exclusive interview: "DI: I heard before you became Digg and Reddit’s most famous cartoonist, you were working on robots at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. Um, honestly?

RM: Yup! But it’s not nearly as dramatic as it sounds. I spent one summer interning working on a student-run virtual reality project, and was hired the next year to work on another section of the base on a project building a little R2-D2-sized robot that was serving as a testbed/demo platform for some technologies other groups were working on. It was pretty standard programming work, and I was only there a year or so before leaving to do xkcd full time."

The Scientist : Promises, Promises

The Scientist : Promises, Promises: "Of course, scientists have a strong incentive to make bold predictions—namely, to obtain funding, influence, and high-profile publications. But while few will be disappointed when worst-case forecasts fail to materialize, unfulfilled predictions—of which we’re seeing more and more—can be a blow for patients, policy makers, and for the reputation of science itself.

In 1995, for example, an expert panel on gene therapy convened by the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s then-director Harold Varmus2 concluded: “Expectations of current gene therapy protocols have been oversold. Overzealous representation of clinical gene therapy has obscured the exploratory nature of the initial studies, colored the manner in which findings are portrayed to the scientific press and public, and led to the widely held, but mistaken, perception that clinical gene therapy is already highly successful. Such misrepresentation threatens confidence in the field and will inevitably lead to disappointment in both medical and lay communities.”"

Secret copyright treaty leaks. It's bad. Very bad.

Secret copyright treaty leaks. It's bad. Very bad. - Boing Boing: "That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet -- and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living -- if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel."

Where The Dirty Hipsters are

The Vancouverite: Where The Dirty Hipsters are

Can Capitalism Survive?

Can Capitalism Survive? - Matt McCaffrey - Mises Institute: "The most famous chapters of Joseph Schumpeter's Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy have been republished in paperback under the title Can Capitalism Survive? Creative Destruction and the Global Economy.[1] Republishing these core chapters as a standalone text in a time of economic crisis is timely to say the least.

The events of recent months merit renewed attention for Schumpeter's ideas about capitalist society, the forces that maintain it, and those that oppose it. The need for calm deliberation on the nature of capitalism has rarely been more evident than now. After all, Schumpeter himself points out correctly that 'practically every nonsense that has ever been said about capitalism has been championed by some professed economist' (p. 158)."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Was There Really a Granny Smith? 9 Fruit & Veggie Origins

mental_floss Blog � Was There Really a Granny Smith? 9 Fruit & Veggie Origins: "Rudolph Hass didn’t set out to get his name on 80% of the avocados grown in the world today; he just wanted to earn a little bit of extra cash. Hass was working as a mail carrier in California during the 1920s when he saw a magazine article touting a way to make money by growing avocados, which were a popular luxury product at the time. Inspired, he started a small orchard and began to plant seedlings."

Mark Twain, illuminated

Mark Twain, illuminated: "From a 1895 article called Tesla's Osillator and Other Inventions, a photo of Mark Twain with one of Tesla's marvelous contraptions."

Welcome to our new H1N1 LINEUPS Comrades!

The Vancouverite: Welcome to our new H1N1 LINEUPS Comrades!: "Hey there H1N1 vaccine fans, if you aren't high risk, you aren't getting the delicious vaccine. Government health officials will be patrolling the lines to ensure only high priority people get it. What is this, a 1960's bread line in Russia? Get used to it. At least there is a handy 'interactive quiz' on the website."

Don't turn up the heat on the West

Don't turn up the heat on the West - The Globe and Mail: "The headline has the virtue of capturing the first point I want to underline. In our new green-genuflecting age any substantial, purely Canadian effort to curb greenhouse gases – any policy, economic or otherwise – will have a massive and negative impact on Alberta and Saskatchewan.

If there are taxes on oil development, if we introduce carbon penalties on industry, if there is a deliberate brake put on the oil sands, or an effort to shut them down altogether – this latter not an unthinkable proposition in certain quarters – whatever is done will, sooner or later, take revenues and jobs, take enterprise, out of Alberta in particular. For purely projected and speculative benefits to the world's climate a century hence – and, despite the unctuous insistence of many to the contrary, speculative they remain – people are seriously considering policies that will penalize the West for its success as an energy producer now."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Russia’s Muslim Strategy Middle East Strategy at Harvard

� Russia’s Muslim Strategy Middle East Strategy at Harvard: "Demography is also Russia’s fate; if the situation and the prospects were less critical, Islam would be less of a threat. With equal justice it could be said that Russia’s historical misfortune (and fate) are its obsession with imaginary dangers and neglect of real ones. Stalin, it will be recalled, trusted no one, especially not old Bolsheviks, but he was certain that Hitler would not attack the Soviet Union. It is a fascinating syndrome, and one that has again become crucial with the reemergence of Russia as an important player in world politics."

Gloves are off in Tasmanian forests

Gloves are off in Tasmanian forests - Asian Correspondent: "Rex Flakemore, a retired forest worker from Tasmania’s Timber Communities Australia (TCA) doesn’t mince his words:

“These protesters preach about looking after the environment, yet in reality they are two-faced. What they created and then abandoned in the Florentine Valley can only be described as a dirty, filthy slum.”"

The Ironic Reign of Bloomberg

The Ironic Reign of Bloomberg - Real Clear Politics – TIME.com: "When polls close Tuesday, the billionaire will owe his mayoralty to the so-called 'Bloomberg 29' as much as the city's residents."

How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash

How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash | McClatchy: "Now, pension funds, insurance companies, labor unions and foreign financial institutions that bought those dicey mortgage securities are facing large losses, and a five-month McClatchy investigation has found that Goldman's failure to disclose that it made secret, exotic bets on an imminent housing crash may have violated securities laws.

'The Securities and Exchange Commission should be very interested in any financial company that secretly decides a financial product is a loser and then goes out and actively markets that product or very similar products to unsuspecting customers without disclosing its true opinion,' said Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University economics professor who's proposed a massive overhaul of the nation's banks. 'This is fraud and should be prosecuted.'"

The Third Way: Ending the Illusions in Afghanistan

The Torch: The Third Way: Ending the Illusions in Afghanistan - Part 1: "We must overcome the illusions of our intervention in order to properly acknowledge and communicate our war aims. Moreover, we must also accept the fact that any victory we may achieve, after all of the rhetoric and resources, will likely be disappointing to anyone but the most pragmatic and practical of people."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Motion on Adscam to be moved

Stephen Taylor – a blog on Canadian politics � Motion on Adscam to be moved: "The Standing committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics calls on the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a full audit of the sponsorship program to determine which federal Liberal riding associations received stolen funds and to clarify for Canadians who received the missing $43 million dollars."

The Perfect Traveler - Somerset Maugham

Pico Iyer - The Perfect Traveler - Somerset Maugham - Features - World Hum: "In reality, however, Maugham was born in Paris and all his early letters were written in perfect French. As a teenager he studied in Heidelberg and then, having already mastered Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian and Russian, he went to Seville for 16 months in his early 20s and learned Spanish. He served in World War I as a volunteer ambulance driver and nurse—though he had four plays on at the time in London’s West End—and he became the West’s main source of intelligence in Russia during the weeks leading up to the Bolshevik Revolution."

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