Free market worship, open-ended knowledge, algocracy, Turkish enigma, pendulum synchrony and bioconcrete

My faith in freedom isn’t blind. It’s not really a form of faith, either — more of a shorthand for my understanding of theory and history.

Suppose, for example, that 50 years ago, when AT&T still had a government-granted telephone monopoly in the United States, someone asked how phone service could be provided by private companies that didn’t have that legal privilege. How, without eminent domain to take private property for those essential telephone lines and exchanges, would people be able to make and receive calls from their homes and businesses?

Fast-forward to today and we see practically every person over the age of 13 (and quite a few much younger) in the developed world carrying a cell phone or a smartphone small enough to fit in their pocket that combines telephone, Internet service, and a video camera. There are no cumbersome telephone poles, cables, or exchanges, and there’s not much eminent domain. The 1960s question was, “Who will build the heavy telephone infrastructure?” Today, who needs a heavy telephone infrastructure?

Knowledge is open-ended also in the sense that no matter where the limits and boundaries of one’s present knowledge may lie, free human beings possess an innate propensity to transcend spontaneously those barriers, those limits, to continually escape those limits, through discovery of new horizons of knowledge the very existence of which was hitherto unsuspected. Life consists, in this sense, of a never-ending series of spontaneous leaps of discovery. The life of freedom is thus a continual expression of the dynamics of continual discovery. The free life, a life for which the open-endedness of knowledge is a central ideal, is one in which the sense of potential—unending potential, unending discovery—is at the heart of one’s being. Open-endedness in this sense is the very opposite of the state of stagnancy.

The term ‘algorithm’ can have an unnecessarily mystifying character. If you tell someone that a decision affecting them was made ‘by an algorithm’, or if, like me, you talk about the rise of ‘algocracy’, there is a danger that you present an overly alarmist and mysterious picture. The reality is that algorithms themselves are relatively benign and easy to understand (at least conceptually). It is really only the systems through which they are created and implemented that give rise to problems.

An algorithm can be defined in the following manner:

Algorithm: A set of specific, step-by-step instructions for taking an input and converting into an output.

I have argued two things in the past. The first was that Turkey was an emerging regional power that would ultimately be the major power in its locale. The second was that this is a region that, ever since the decline and fall of the Ottomans in the first quarter of the 20th century, has been kept stable by outside powers. The decision of the United States to take a secondary role after the destabilization that began with the 2003 invasion of Iraq has left a vacuum Turkey will eventually be forced to fill. But Turkey is not ready to fill that vacuum. That has created a situation in which there is a balancing of power underway, particularly among Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Hang two pendulum clocks on the same wall, and over time, something strange will happen: the two clocks will tick in synchrony.

Geology and biology are blending in a fascinating way to create a breakthrough new construction material: concrete that can heal its own cracks. The secret weapon? Bacteria.


Che’s Cuba, Mansudae Overseas Projects, subatomic physics, digital humanities, fine-tuning and poverty fetishists

We’re going to ease into Cuba with Che Guevara, and his lasting impression that is still a strong force in the country.

Pictures of him are on buildings, signs, clothing, cars and even hang on people’s walls.

From lavish political murals to towering Soviet-realist statues, North Korea’s government-run Mansudae Art Studio produces exuberant pro-government propaganda for show at home and abroad. While there are few countries in the world willing to host to works of art produced in the Hermit Kingdom, some Mansudae-made statues have found homes overseas. In recent years, the studio’s international division, Mansudae Overseas Projects, has created several massive works of nationalist art at the request of foreign governments—almost exclusively on the African continent. (You too can purchase your own North Korean objet d’art, price on request, from Mansudae’s website.)

It’s been over a hundred years since Rutherford’s discovery of the atomic nucleus, an ingenious experiment where he bombarded some gold foil that had been hammered incredibly thin — so it was only a few atoms in thickness — with subatomic particles. What he found was that while most of those particles passed right through the foil, similar to what you might expect, a few bounced off at odd angles, including many that were returnedopposite to their original direction.

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At its core, this big data revolution is about how humans create and preserve a historical record of their activities. Its consequences will transform how we look at ourselves. It will enable the creation of new scopes that make it possible for our society to more effectively probe its own nature. Big data is going to change the humanities, transform the social sciences, and renegotiate the relationship between the world of commerce and the ivory tower.

For years theologians and Christian apologists have convinced themselves and their followers that they have a knock-out scientific argument for the existence of God. They claim that the parameters of physics are so finely tuned that if any one of these parameters were just slightly different in value, then life would not be possible anywhere in the universe.

Assuming—on no basis whatsoever—that those parameters are independent and could have taken on any value over a wide range, they conclude that the probability of a universe with our particular set of parameters is infinitesimally small. Further assuming—also on no basis whatsoever—that the probability of a divine creator is not equally infinitesimally small, they conclude that a creator fine-tuned the universe for life. Note that there is also no basis whatsoever to assume that this creator was the personal God worshipped by Christians, Muslims, and Jews or the God of any other religion. An impersonal, deist creator works equally well.

Since last December, when officials from Cuba and the United States announced that the two countries, locked in a Cold War stand-off for 54 years, would seek to normalise relations, the tourist industry has been admonishing us to travel to Cuba ‘before it changes’.

Despite Cuba’s listless youth being well-versed in American culture – be it the latest fashions, pop songs or movies – on the surface Cuba remains stuck in a time warp. For tourists, the museum piece aspect of Cuba is a big part of the appeal. Thus visitors to Havana can go for a ride in a Cadillac, take in the neo-classical architecture (along with the smoke from a good cigar) and sip a mojito at Ernest Hemingway’s old drinking spot.

But hurry, the tourist brochures scream, the Yankees will soon be coming to spoil it all!

Macroscopic quantum tunelling, SSDs, romanian drivers, future&tech, the Standard Model and Silicon Valley politics

The finding is a rare instance of quantum phenomena emerging on the macroscopic scale, and is even more unusual because it is only the second time—the first being superconductivity—that macroscopic quantum phenomena have been observed in a system that is based on fermions, which include protons, electrons, and all other matter particles. Other systems exhibiting macroscopic quantum phenomena have been based on photons, a type of boson, which mediate the forces between matter.

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Thus far, SSD manufacturers have delivered better performance by offering faster data standards, more bandwidth, and more channels per controller — plus the use of SLC caches we mentioned earlier. Nonetheless, in the long run, it’s assumed that NAND will be replaced by something else.

What that something else will look like is still open for debate. Both magnetic RAM andphase change memory have presented themselves as candidates, though both technologies are still in early stages and must overcome significant challenges to actually compete as a replacement to NAND.

There are countries in Europe with a bad reputation, there are those with a very bad reputation and then there is Romania. It’s a country with anti-corruption department heads forced to step down amid accusations of corruption, and a prime minister who stands accused of money laundering. It ranks lowest for toothpaste consumption in the European Union, and high for alcohol consumption. Our man knows all about these things, because he is well traveled in Europe. In political-speak, one could say that he is always on the go, driving the deepening of the European Union.

In 1992, Romania still had 23 million inhabitants. Today there are 4 million fewer. Those who emigrated profit from the fact that Europe has an undeclared division of labor that goes something like this: Wherever uneducated, rather than educated, workers are needed, employers look for Romanians. Even the Germans.

It’s untrue that technology until now has replaced only our muscles; there has always been innovation that replaced our brains.  Think of Grecian auditoria that allowed the voice of one speaker to reach many more people than could be reached before such structures were devised.  (The microphone, radio, television, the Internet, etc., have, of course, only amplified this effect.)  Think of the telegraph and the telephone, each of which allowed people to share knowledge and information across great distances at low cost and, hence, reduced the need for people to keep handy, either in their own brains or in the brains of people within earshot, certain kinds of information and knowledge.  Likewise – and even more so and more obviously – think of the printing press, which enabled knowledge to be stored inexpensively with paper and ink rather than requiring that that knowledge be toted around in human brains.

Think of the abacus; think of printed multiplication tables; think of the calculus (which is a clear net-saver of brain power).  Think of the cash register.  Think of money itself, which eliminates the need to learn of the precise identities and locations of trading partners who both have the goods and services that you want and want the good or service that you are willing to exchange.

Think of roads (which embody knowledge of direction and, thus, require of travelers far less knowledge than they would otherwise require of how to get from point A to point B).  Think of paper road maps.  Think of the sextant.

Indeed, think of the division of labor itself, which dramatically reduces the range of knowledge that a person must possess in order simply to survive.  (Each of my grandfathers – both born and raised in the United States – knew how to raise, slaughter, and pluck chickens [and my paternal grandfather knew also how to milk cows and how to raise and slaughter hogs]; they each knew how to repair car engines; they each knew how to do household repairs that are an utter mystery to me and that fewer and fewer Americans know how to do.  And I’m quite certain that the range of knowledge that my grandfathers’ grandfathers possessed and used routinely was even greater than was that of my grandfathers.)

As these latter examples (of my grandfathers) make especially clear, the distinction between technologies that replace muscle-power and technologies that replace brainpower is ultimately rather vague, anyway.  At the end of the day, technology is useful if it allows human being to get more desirable outcomes with less human effort and sacrifice.

The Standard Model is a kind of periodic table of the elements for particle physics. But instead of listing the chemical elements, it lists the fundamental particles that make up the atoms that make up the chemical elements, along with any other particles that cannot be broken down into any smaller pieces.

The complete Standard Model took a long time to build. Physicist J.J. Thomson discovered the electron in 1897, and scientists at the Large Hadron Collider found the final piece of the puzzle, the Higgs boson, in 2012.

At its core, the book argues that changes in the economy also changes the political ideology in power; some personalities and value systems thrive in different occupations and industries. The growth of the knowledge economy has empowered a novelty-seeking personality that places an extreme faith in the power of information to solve the world’s problems.

A growing demographic of highly-skilled college-educated liberals will transform government’s role to be about directly investing in citizens, funding them to become as entrepreneurial, civic, and healthy as possible.

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Metal foams, european narratives, The Day Israel Died, Intellectual property, SCOTUS rules and Bastiat at 214

Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.

Israelis were going to breakfast on August 30, 2016, when the bomb went off above Tel Aviv. There was an unfathomably bright flash in the cloudless sky at about 1515 feet, calculated precisely to be high enough to maximize the thermal and blast effects but low enough to churn up substantial fallout. It detonated over the Jaffa area of southern outskirts of the city instead of where it was aimed, the government center – only the Iranians could manage to miss a city with an A-bomb. Ironically, Ground Zero was heavily populated by Israeli Arabs.

Two main approaches are used by the members of the Austrian School to study the question of intellectual property: one is philosophical and discusses the nature of intellectual property. It will be treated in the first part of this work. The second is consequentialism, often called utilitarianism. It is solely concerned with the costs and benefits of copyrights and patents as incentives for creation and innovation. This last approach will be treated in the second part of this paper and will be divided into two sub-categories: copyrights and patents.

As long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose — that it may violate property instead of protecting it — then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting at the door of the Legislative Palace, and the struggle within will be no less furious. To know this, it is hardly necessary to examine what transpires in the French and English legislatures; merely to understand the issue is to know the answer.

Is there any need to offer proof that this odious perversion of the law is a perpetual source of hatred and discord; that it tends to destroy society itself? If such proof is needed, look at the United States [in 1850]. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person’s liberty and property. As a consequence of this, there appears to be no country in the world where the social order rests on a firmer foundation. But even in the United States, there are two issues — and only two — that have always endangered the public peace.

The thesis of the book is that government’s purpose is to protect life, liberty, and property, but that the law generally becomes perverted to sanction plunder. From the title page:

The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself is guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!

But how do we know when any of this is going on? From his subsection entitled “How to Identify Legal Plunder”:

But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law — which may be an isolated case — is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.

The person who profits from this law will complain bitterly, defending his acquired rights. He will claim that the state is obligated to protect and encourage his particular industry; that this procedure enriches the state because the protected industry is thus able to spend more and to pay higher wages to the poor workingmen.

Do not listen to this sophistry by vested interests. The acceptance of these arguments will build legal plunder into a whole system. In fact, this has already occurred. The present-day delusion is an attempt to enrich everyone at the expense of everyone else; to make plunder universal under the pretense of organizing it.

Men have three basic choices as Bastiat saw it, in regards to the problem of legal plunder. From the subsection entitled “The Choice Before Us“:

This question of legal plunder must be settled once and for all, and there are only three ways to settle it:

  1. The few plunder the many.
  2. Everybody plunders everybody.
  3. Nobody plunders anybody.

We must make our choice among limited plunder, universal plunder, and no plunder. The law can follow only one of these three.

Limited legal plunder: This system prevailed when the right to vote was restricted. One would turn back to this system to prevent the invasion of socialism.

Universal legal plunder: We have been threatened with this system since the franchise was made universal. The newly enfranchised majority has decided to formulate law on the same principle of legal plunder that was used by their predecessors when the vote was limited.

No legal plunder: This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony, and logic. Until the day of my death, I shall proclaim this principle with all the force of my lungs (which alas! is all too inadequate).

JOHN KORNBLUM: All big events are defined on the basis of a story, the narrative which tells what it is all about. In Ukraine, we have lost that narrative. Russia has quite skilfully established the legend that the West was too aggressive after the end of the Cold War. That we should have understood Russian sensitivities, and that we should have given them time to digest things. And that Putin’s aggression is a justifiable reaction to Western tactics.

US mass incarceration, Homo Sapiens, beer IneQuality, NS Bernieverse, Adam Smith and Europe’s startup capital

But as John Pfaff, a criminal justice expert at Fordham Law School, pointed out onTwitter, the criminalization of drugs isn’t the sole cause of mass incarceration. Most people in state prisons, which make up a great majority of the prison system, are violent offenders. Only in the much smaller federal system is there a huge number of drug offenders.

The truly unique feature of [Homo Sapiens or Sapiens] language is not its ability to transmit information about the [tangible]. Rather, it’s the ability to transmit information about things that do not exist at all. As far as we know, only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched or smelled.—-7-20-15-.html?aid=kTuYvlS0ixM&soid=1101151826392

The conventional Canadian view is that American beer is bad; watery and weak. Yet American breweries produce some of the world’s best beers – superb brews coming out of microbreweries across the country.

Aside from Grandma Stalin there, there’s not a lot of overtly Soviet iconography on display around the Bernieverse, but the word “socialism” is on a great many lips. Not Bernie’s lips, for heaven’s sake: The guy’s running for president. But Tara Monson, a young mother who has come out to the UAW hall to support her candidate, is pretty straightforward about her issues: “Socialism,” she says. “My husband’s been trying to get me to move to a socialist country for years — but now, maybe, we’ll get it here.” The socialist country she has in mind is Norway, which of course isn’t a socialist country at all: It’s an oil emirate. Monson is a classic American radical, which is to say, a wounded teenager in an adult’s body: Asked what drew her to socialism and Bernie, she says that she is “very atheist,” and that her Catholic parents were not accepting of this. She goes on to cite her “social views,” and by the time she gets around to the economic questions, she’s not Helle Thorning-Schmidt — she’s Pat Buchanan, complaining about “sending our jobs overseas.”

L’Internationale, my patootie. This is national socialism.

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For 300 years before Smith, Western Europe was dominated by an economic system known as “mercantilism.” Though it provided for modest improvements in life and liberty over the feudalism that came before, it was a system rooted in error that stifled enterprise and treated individuals as pawns of the state.

Mercantilist thinkers believed that the world’s wealth was a fixed pie, giving rise to endless conflict between nations. After all, if you think there’s only so much and you want more of it, you’ve got to take it from someone else.

Mercantilists were economic nationalists. Foreign goods, they thought, were sufficiently harmful to the domestic economy so that government policy should be marshaled to promote exports and restrict imports. Instead of imported goods, they wanted exports to be paid for by foreigners in gold and silver. To the mercantilist, the precious metals were the very definition of wealth, especially to the extent that they piled up in the coffers of the monarch.

Because they had little sympathy for self-interest, the profit motive and the operation of prices, mercantilists wanted governments to bestow monopoly privileges upon a favored few. In Britain, the king even granted a protected monopoly over the production of playing cards to a particular, highly-placed noble.

Economics in the late 18th century was not yet a focused subject of its own, but rather a poorly organized compartment of what was known as “moral philosophy.” Smith’s first of two books, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, was published in 1759 when he held the chair of moral philosophy at Glasgow University. He was the first moral philosopher to recognize that the business of enterprise — and all the motives and actions in the marketplace that give rise to it — was deserving of careful, full-time study as a modern discipline of social science.

In fact, if you played a game on your phone today, listened to music online or video-phoned a friend, chances are you used a Swedish company. Skype became Stockholm’s first unicorn when it was bought by eBay for $2.6bn in 2005 – just two years after it launched – and has since been followed by Spotify, Candy Crush parent King, Minecraft maker Mojang and the payments service Klarna.
“Stockholm is becoming a world leader in technology,” Skype creator Niklas Zennström, who also founded London-based Atomico, said earlier this month at the inaugural Brilliant Minds conference, the brainchild of music manager Ash Pournouri and Spotify founder Daniel Ek. “We are living in an extraordinary time, and there is no doubt that Sweden is a leader in this proud new world. The dream we had of becoming a tech community 10 to 15 years ago is now becoming a reality.”

GMOs, 2D materials zoo, machina economicus, the European project, eco-friendly meat and giant clouds of alcohol

But the deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs. It’s full of errors, fallacies, misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lies. The people who tell you that Monsanto is hiding the truth are themselves hiding evidence that their own allegations about GMOs are false. They’re counting on you to feel overwhelmed by the science and to accept, as a gut presumption, their message of distrust.

The realization that materials can be thinned down to the absolute limit of a single atom is spreading, both throughout the world and across the periodic table. Researchers are learning that 2-D isn’t just for the carbon atoms of graphene. Different elemental combinations can lead to fascinating new science and applications.

In a paper out today in the journal Science, Parkes and co-author Michael Wellman, of the University of Michigan, argue that rational models of economics can be applied to artificial intelligence (AI) and discuss the future of machina economicus.

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Once a widely held aspiration, the “ever closer union” promised by successive European treaties has degenerated from a slogan into an embarrassment, which even Europe’s leaders are now hesitant to embrace. As that promise’s unravelling fuels a poisonous populist reaction, the prospects for the European Union, whose share of world gross domestic product has fallen from 30 per cent in 1980 to 17 per cent today, seem fraught with risks.

This idea, that meat is environmentally unfriendly, has been the conventional wisdom since 2006, when the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization published a report called Livestock’s Long Shadow. Which is why I was surprised when Frank Mitloehner, a UC-Davis animal science professor who is leading an update of the FAO’s livestock assessment, told me that the idea of eliminating animals from our food system was ridiculous and, actually, unsustainable.

“Agriculture cannot be sustainable without animal agriculture,” he said. “That is something I’m sure of.”

There are two key points to consider, Mitloehner said. First, most of the feed that livestock eat is not edible by humans. Globally, just 18 percent of animal feed is made up of grains or other crops that people might otherwise eat. The rest is crop residues, grass, and waste from milling grain and other food processing. And so, despite the inefficiency of converting calories to meat, animals are able to give humans access to energy that they wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise.

Pentaquarks are an exotic form of matter first predicted back in 1979. Everything around us is made of atoms, which are mode of a cloud of electrons orbiting a heavy nucleus made of protons and neutrons. But since the 1960s, we’ve also known that protons and neutrons are made up of even smaller particles named “quarks”, held together by something called the “strong force”, the strongest known force in nature in fact.

Experiments in 1968 provided the evidence for the quark model. If protons are hit hard enough, the strong force can be overcome and the proton smashed apart. The quark model actually explains the existence of more than 100 particles, all known as “hadrons” (as in Large Hadron Collider) and made up of different combinations of quarks. For example the proton is made of three quarks.

All hadrons seem to be made up of combinations of either two or three quarks, but there is no obvious reason more quarks could not stick together to form other types of hadron. Enter the pentaquark: five quarks bound together to form a new type of particle. But until now, nobody knew for sure if pentaquarks actually existed – and, although there have been several discoveries claimed in the last 20 years, none has stood the test of time.

Discovered in 1995 near the constellation Aquila, the cloud is 1000 times larger than the diameter of our solar system. It contains enough ethyl alcohol to fill 400 trillion trillion pints of beer. To down that much alcohol, every person on earth would have to drink 300,000 pints each day—for one billion years.

Sadly, for those of you planning an interstellar pub crawl, the cloud is 58 quadrillion miles away. It’s also a cocktail of 32 compounds, some of them as nasty as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and ammonia.

Unintented consequences of regulation, China reigns funny, bankrupt Moldova and Trotsky on taxation

Voters frequently support measures that sound noble and beneficial but end up causing serious mischief — and often hurt the very groups the measures were intended to help.

A well-known example is price controls, which include minimum wage laws and rent control. These can cause unemployment among low-skill workers and apartment shortages for those without connections.

But that’s not all. Not by a long shot.

Headline from the China Daily:

China reigns in brutal police tactics” (9/9/03)

This hilarious misspelling causes China’s widest circulating English-language newspaper accidentally to have a true headline.

Moldova, a country of 3.5 million on the brink of bankruptcy, risks becoming a failed state. This would increase instability on the EU’s eastern borders by handing Russia another opportunity to extend its influence in the former Soviet-sphere, as it lures Moldova into its “Eurasian Customs Union”.

“You ought not to forget that the credit system and the tax apparatus remain in the hands of the workers’ state and that this is a very important weapon in the struggle between state industry and private industry….

The pruning knife of taxation is a very important instrument.  With it the workers’ state will be able to clip the young plant of capitalism, lest it thrive too luxuriously.”

Decentralized democracy, sputtering economy, Iranian Empire, the “Marxifix” and The Festival of Insignificance

Democracy today needs to be right more often and more quickly, because our accelerating technology creates more rapidly developing threats abroad, like new weapons of mass destruction, and new dislocations at home, like the disruption of employment through automation.   Man is both homo faber–nature’s preeminent maker of tools to change the world– and homo sapiens–nature’s master of symbols and language to represent and understand it.   We will continue to thrive only if these capacities develop in tandem.

“Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. A deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”
— Sen. John F. Kerry, Oct. 9, 2002

“We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” — Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

“The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists.”
— President Bill Clinton, 1998

“In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program… ” — Sen. Hillary Clinton, Oct 10, 2002

Sometimes the price of being right is looking like you’re wrong, eh guys?

But the four people quoted above weren’t lying. Okay, maybe they weren’t 100% certain, but based on whatever intelligence they had access to at the time, clearly they were convinced Saddam Hussein had WMD’s.

And would ‘ya looky here:

Sunni extremists in Iraq have now occupied what was once Saddam Hussein’s premier chemical-weapons facility and found…. wait for it: The dreaded, long lost, never were there in the first-place, Bush lied – people died: Weapons of mass destruction.

ISIS, the group people are saying is worse than Al Qaeda – I guess you have to be competitive in today’s world – has apparently captured a stockpile of chemical weapons which if you listen to the aforementioned Clinton, Clinton, Gore & Kerry since the war, never existed.

To sum up: The agreement with Iran, even if Iran complies (which is a heroic assumption), will merely delay the weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program by a few years, while giving Iran a massive boost in conventional power in the meantime. What do you think Iran’s Sunni neighbors, all of whom are terrified of Iranian power, will do in response? There is a good possibility that this agreement will set off a massive regional arms race, in both conventional and nuclear weaponry, while also leading states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar to make common cause with the Islamic State as a hedge against Iranian designs in the region.

That’s assuming, of course, that the agreement is not blocked by Congress. But it’s unlikely that the Senate can muster a veto-proof majority to override the veto Obama promised to deliver of any bill that seeks to block this terrible deal. Assuming, as appears probable, that this deal is in fact implemented, future historians may well write of July 14, 2015, as the date when American dominance in the Middle East was supplanted by the Iranian Imperium.

In 2015, the human race will create about $75 trillion in economic output, well more than half of which will be the product of the three largest economies: those of the United States ($18 trillion), the European Union ($16 trillion), and China ($11 trillion). Two of those economies are in the midst of serious economic and political crises. The other is in the grip of something much more difficult to overcome: complacency.

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The Marxifix was created by radical Jesuit Luis Espinal as a symbol for Liberation Theology, an attempt to blend Marxism and Christianity—or rather, to take over the latter as an instrument of the former. The previous pope who understood the evil of Communism—John Paul II—made a significant effort to suppress Liberation Theology during the 1980s, particularly in its stronghold in Latin America. So the presentation of the Marxifix to Francis is a deliberately provocative act, aimed by a socialist at a fissure within the Church.

That’s why Francis’s response is ominous. Hetook Morales’s gesture, not as an affront to the faith, but as an opportunity for “dialogue” between Christianity and Marxism.

“Insignificance, my friend, is the essence of existence,” Kundera writes. “It is all around us, and everywhere and always. It is present even when no one wants to see it: in atrocities, in bloody battles, in the worst disasters.” Here he echoes a passage from The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and an idea that he’s developed in much of his work:

The assassination of Allende quickly covered over the memory of the Russian invasion of Bohemia, the bloody massacre in Bangladesh caused Allende to be forgotten, the din of war in the Sinai Desert drowned out the groans of Bangladesh, the massacres in Cambodia caused the Sinai to be forgotten, and so on, and on and on, until everyone has completely forgotten everything.

In Kundera’s novels, forgetting is often not only unavoidable but also desirable. “How sweet it would be to forget history!” he wrote in Life Is Elsewhere (1973).

Neo-liberalism, human hands, anti-capitalist culture, graphene desalination, Pluto flyby and medieval leather shoes

The clear implication is that what governments do under ‘neo-liberalism’ is not simply to withdraw and allow markets to operate unfettered, but rather to interfere with them in different kinds of ways. This prompts the obvious yet important question: ‘different from what?’ – and we shall return to that below. But first, it is worth our considering another thing that neo-liberalism is not: the Eurozone.

“The inevitable implication is that when hominins (the extended human family excluding apes) started producing flaked stone tools in a systematic fashion, probably as early as 3.3 million years ago, their hands were—in terms of overall proportions—pretty much like ours today,” Almecija told AFP by email.

“Another important take-home message is that if are largely primitive, the ‘relevant’ changes promoting the emergence of widespread reliance on stone tool culture were probably neurological” and not manual—meaning it was our brains that allowed for adaptation.

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In The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality Ludwig von Mises described this cultural anti-capitalism:

As John Doe sees it, all those new industries that are supplying him with amenities unknown to his father came into being by some mythical agency called progress. Capital accumulation, entrepreneurship and technological ingenuity did not contribute anything to the spontaneous generation of prosperity. If any man has to be credited with what John Doe considers as the rise in the productivity of labor, then it is the man on the assembly line. …

The authors of this description of capitalistic industry are praised at universities as the greatest philosophers and benefactors of mankind and their teachings are accepted with reverential awe by the millions whose homes, besides other gadgets, are equipped with radio and television sets.

While more work is required to build a robust and cost-effective filtration system, the new ability to align sheets of graphene so that water but nothing else is transmitted may be the simple game-changer that allows the world to finally address the growing water crisis.

“The most striking thing geologically is we have not yet found a single impact feature on this image,” says New Horizons science team member John Spencer. “Just eyeballing it we think it has to be less than 100 million years old, which is a small fraction of the age of the solar system — it could be active right now.”

And the high-resolution image is only one of many that are still to come.

Experts uncovered 50 medieval leather shoes and a bag as well as a wooden bowl and timber posts at the Westgate Shopping Centre excavation.

The objects which “tell us about everyday people” have been so well preserved because the Thames floodplain area is below the water level.

Project director Ben Ford said: “These finds are as rare as gold.”

Krugman-care, the four horsemen, hammer-and-sickle crucifix, meats, Pluto, Iran deal, Trumpism and racehorses

This is what happened last week during a debate at Freedom Fest between Krugman and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation. The general topic concerned the restoration of the American dream and, considering the amount of damage Obamacare has inflicted on that dream, it was inevitable that the misbegotten health care law would come up sooner or later. Krugman, desperate to convince the audience that the rattletrap was “working quite well,” claimed that it had lowered the cost of U.S. health care. PJ Media’s Liz Sheld reports, “The whole room laughed at that howler.”

The U.S. and its allies are faced with four major threats, and they are as diverse and yet as akin as the proverbial apocalyptic horsemen.

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The Vatican announced that the pope had not been informed in advance about the gift. And some commentators said that photos of the pope and Morales show that the pope was actually offended. That was a false — probably wishful — interpretation. The pope himself later announced that he was keeping the hammer-and-sickle crucifix and taking it home, saying, “I understand this work. For me it wasn’t an offense.” And “Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi . . . said he personally wasn’t offended by Morales’ gift” (the Guardian).

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British researchers Patrick Sharman and Alatair J. Wilson argue that racehorses are indeed getting faster.

The ideology is a 21st century version of right fascism — one of the most politically successful ideological strains of 20th century politics. Though hardly anyone talks about it today, we really should. It is still real. It exists. It is distinct. It is not going away. Trump has tapped into it, absorbing unto his own political ambitions every conceivable bourgeois resentment: race, class, sex, religion, economic. You would have to be hopelessly ignorant of modern history not to see the outlines and where they end up.

For now, Trump seems more like comedy than reality. I want to laugh about what he said, like reading a comic-book version of Franco, Mussolini, or Hitler. And truly I did laugh, as when he denounced the existence of tech support in India that serves American companies (“how can it be cheaper to call people there than here?” — as if he still thinks that long-distance charges apply).

Let’s hope this laughter doesn’t turn to tears.

Now, here’s the thing that gets me and makes me think: if Pluto weren’t in our Solar System, we would have no problem calling it a “rogue planet.”

So why do we stop calling it a planet because it’s in our Solar System? Perhaps we need a better word that encompasses all the artificial categories we created. Something that includes rocky planets, large moons, gas giants, dwarf planets, rogue planets, large Kuiper belt objects, large asteroids, and so on.

Why don’t we just call them what they are: worlds.

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Also, some evidence shows that vegetarians kill more animals than meat-eaters. Steven Davis, a researcher in the animal science department at Oregon State University, found that tractors, making space for more fields of kale and whole grains, kill tons of rabbits, mice, and other field-dwelling cutie pies.

“What is it that makes it OK to kill animals of the field so that we can eat [vegetables or fruits] but not pigs or chickens or cows?”

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Of the administration’s accumulated foreign-policy mistakes in the last six years, none have been catastrophic for the United States: Not the Chinese building islands, the Russians’ taking Crimea, or the collapse into civil wars of Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. But the Iran deal has the makings of a catastrophe. Attention now shifts to the U.S. Congress to review today’s accord, arguably the worst international accord not just in American history or modern history, but ever. Congress must reject this deal. Republican senators and representatives have shown themselves firm on this topic; will the Democrats rise to the occasion and provide the votes for a veto override? They need to feel the pressure.

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