Porn for Osama bin Ladin

woman in black cloth with wig[link]

I am reluctant to post this little jab, because I do not seek to disrespect either women or Islam, but, gee whiz, the picture struck me as not only humorous but illustrative of the tidbits we are learning about ourselves, the human brain, its ambitions, its foolishness, and its odd pursuit of symmetry, er, beauty.
[art^beauty^ink]
[wiki, see Aberdeen]
[Beauty and the average girl]

Repel to deny to learn too little so often
as is each short infinity through beauty!

We can, I assert,
assure ourselves
that we humans
and our cultures are

tolerant,
wise,
informed,
careful,
committed,
free,
brave,
adventuresome,
able,
gracious,
warm,
inviting,
loyal,
and loving.

It’s best methinks to strive… .

Birth of a new ocean

Satellite picture of Ethiopia riftOur fingernails grow about 0.6 inches per year. The shelves of continental crusts spread apart at about the same rate.

Ethiopia is the only place on the planet where we can see a continent splitting apart on dry land.

In September 2005, hundreds of deep crevices appeared within a few weeks, and parts of the ground shifted more than 25 feet, almost overnight. More than one half a cubic mile of rising molten rock – magma – had seeped into a crack between the African and Arabian tectonic plates, forcing them further apart.

The Red Sea could shift and the horn of Africa could break off from the continent to become an island – in a million years! [Science blog]

The physics of romance

stone valentine heartThe Beatles’ George Harrison wondered in his famous love song about the “something” that “attracts me like no other lover.”

A University at Buffalo expert explains that that “something” is actually several physical elements that — if they occur in a certain order, at the right time and in the right place — can result in true love. [story at physorg]

Smell, detecting invisible pheromones, brain peptides and dopamine all play a role.

The bottom line of this research?

It’s best to “smell good and look successful”.

Deep mantle water

Deep in the Earth’s mantle is an underground water reservoir at least the volume of the Arctic Ocean.

Analyzing the way waves damp out from their source, seismologists measure how stiff a region is – a function of how hot it is and how much water it contains.

Beneath Asia, where the ocean floor is sinking down into the earth, the fallen Pacific sea floor piles up at the base of the mantle.

Water inside the rock goes down with the sinking slab and it’s quite cold, but it heats up the deeper it goes, and the rock eventually becomes unstable and loses its water. The water then rises up into the overlying region, which becomes saturated with water.

“If you combine the volume of this anomaly [the so-called Beijing Anomoly] with the fact that the rock can hold up to about 0.1 percent of water, that works out to be about an Arctic Ocean’s worth of water.”

Seventy percent of the earth is covered by water, which is very important for the earth’s geology, serving as a lubricant that allows efficient convection and plate tectonics and the continental collisions that form mountains. [story at Science blog]


There are other data showing the potential for large bodies of water much closer to the surface. For many years there have been murmurs that plans are underfoot to develop a major freshwater source underneath an area near the city of Reno, Nevada. At one time the claims exceeded a five to seven mile depth over a length exceeding 300 miles. I worked with Frank Emery Cox in a somewhat informal organization known as Nevada International Trade Exchange (N.I.T.E.) that took a forward view that Nevada would benefit after developing deep water sources rather than stretching its river and surface assets to their limits. Frank developed the aluminum curtain wall in the 1940’s and made a career developing the feasibility of more than 1,500 shopping centers over his long life.

Water, indeed, comes from rock?
Drilling the world’s deepest hole at the Kola Peninsula, about 7 miles deep, scientists in the USSR found to their surprise that deep rock was saturated in water – trapped inside the structure of rock itself!

Caught breaking rules not yet broken

There are so many rules. Who can keep up? To decide what direction to turn, it used to be as hard as a fence and a road. But now it’s necessary to unplug cellphones or yank headphones from iPods plus smile at the camera on the pole.

And things are heating up.
Soon we may install machines that reveal what a person is planning.

A team of world-leading neuroscientists has developed a powerful technique that allows them to look deep inside a person’s brain and read their intentions before they act.

There may soon be rules to govern rules you are about to break.

Each PC attacked 2,244 times a day

Every 39 seconds every computer connected to the Internet is attacked.

A study by the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering is one of the first to measure hacker attacks.

“Often they set up ‘back doors’ – undetected entrances into the computer that they control – so they can create “botnets,” for profit or disreputable purposes.” A botnet is a collection of compromised computers that are controlled by autonomous software robots answering to a hacker who manipulates the computers remotely. Botnets can act to perpetrate fraud or identity theft, disrupt other networks, and damage computer files, among other things.

Poor usernames and passwords give attackers more chance of success. They discovered the vast majority of attacks came from relatively unsophisticated hackers using “dictionary scripts,” a type of software that runs through lists of common usernames and passwords attempting to break into a computer.

Use more difficult and less obvious passwords with combinations of upper and lowercase letters and numbers that are not open to brute-force dictionary attacks.

story at Phyorg

Care of the Caregiver

Chronic disease doesn’t just affect the person suffering from the illness. It can also be hugely stressful for their partner whose role becomes one of long term ‘carer’.

“A key factor that can protect ‘carers’ against the stress involved is to perceive their relationship with their ill spouse as an entity in itself, rather than seeing only two individuals.”

What?

Ninety-two people who cared for a chronically ill husband or wife answered questions.

…participants who said being ‘part of a couple’ was central to the way they saw themselves, appeared to be protected from the effects of stressors such as: loss of companionship, feeling unable to cope, and wishing they were free to run away.

That is, among these participants with a strong ‘couple identity’, such stressors appeared to have a far weaker effect on their mental health.

Moreover, feeling part of a couple appeared to accentuate the positive aspects of being a carer, such as having high self-esteem and feeling competent.

“Viewing the relationship as an extension of oneself may help foster a positive mindset about the caregiving experience. BPS Research Digest blog

An issue that is ignored by most friends and family, and by most healthcare professionals, the caregiver can be made ill in the process of providing care.

The condition and competence of a Caregiver is a matter of health and disease too. For caregivers, the stress process is multifaceted. There are primary stressors, deprivation and overload, and secondary stressors, loss of self and captivity.

We need a better focus on the ‘family system’ to help prevent much suffering and loss. Healthcare systems should consider more than the ill patient as part of the disease diagnosis. Today, services are allocated on behalf of the revenue at hand. A better use of our capital in medical care would be to help prevent a future liability from a damaged caregiver.

Can your DNA get a sunburn?

At the moment DNA absorbs ultraviolet light (UV) from the sun, it’s possible – in less than a trillionth of a second – for our DNA strands to be damaged. Though not always likely, this damage can sometimes be the beginning of skin cancer.

In a billionth of a second, light travels one foot. Grace Hopper is famous for handing out pieces of wire which were just under one foot long which is the distance that light travels in one nanosecond. A nanosecond is one billionth of a second.

A picosecond is a trillionth of a second. One millionth of one millionth of a second. A billion times faster than a second. [wiki] That’s the time taken for light to move 1 millimetre.

A picosecond is to a second, what a second is to 32 million years.

By scanning DNA molecules, by looking over the molecules using equipment that can “see” the position of the parts of us that are rapidly vibrating at these incredible speeds, scientists have seen DNA get “sunburned”.

The damage happens with astounding speed — in less than one picosecond, or one millionth of one millionth of a second. The journal Science, reported that the damage depends greatly on the position of the DNA at the moment the UV strikes the molecule.


But all that is just plain slow.
A femtosecond is to a second, what a second is to a hundred million years.

A femtosecond is a million times shorter than a nanosecond – one billionth of one millionth of a second. [wiki]

To make even the fastest moving objects look like they are standing still, such as the moving DNA molecules in our body, the world’s fastest camera has a ‘shutter speed’ measured in femtoseconds to make movies of the life and death of molecules. It took 6 years, 20 people and $6 million to build.

Less than 2% of email is real

Folks in the tech sector really do try to reduce spam.

Here’s a snippet that reveals what they’re up against:

We receive 25,000 mail connections per day; each connection is an attempt by some machine to send us mail. Of those 25,000 connections we are able to reject nearly 80% of them outright since the IP address of the originating machine is registered as a known spam offender. Using various additional checks and methods we are able to reject about 98% of all incoming connections before they even have a chance to send us message content. Of the 2% that do make it to the point where they send us a complete mail message we are able to reject 25% of those as containing spam, a virus, or an unsafe attachment type. That means that in the end only 1.5% of all attempted mail connections actually result in delivered mail.

[link]

How does Google make money? #2

I found this excellent post describing Google’s current position, its potential, that adds to my previous post, How Does Google Make Money?

Google has won both the online search and advertising markets. They hold a considerable technological lead, both with algorithms as well as their astonishing web-scale computing platform. Beyond this, however, network effects around their industry position and brand will prevent any competitor from capturing market share from them — even if it were possible to match their technology platform.

To paraphrase an old comment about IBM, made during its 30 year dominance of the enterprise mainframe market, Google is not your competition, Google is the environment.

The net isn’t a directed graph. It’s not a tree. It’s a single point labeled G connected to 10 billion destination pages.

If the Internet were a monolithic product, say the work of some alternate-future AT&T that hadn’t been broken up, then you’d turn it on and it would have a start page. From there you’d be able to reach all of the destination services, however many there were.

Well, that’s how the net has organized itself after all.

From this position, Google derives immense and amazing power.

And they make money, but not only for themselves. Google makes advertisers money. Google makes publishers money. Google drives multi-billion dollar industries profiting from Google.

Major companies will succeed by working within the framework of Google’s industry dominance, and smaller players will operate in niches or in service to the giant.

read more at skrentablog

sit-ih-ZEN-dee-um

A “citizens’ compendium of everything,” is an experimental new wiki project.

The project, started by a founder of Wikipedia, aims to improve on that model by adding “gentle expert oversight” and requiring contributors to use their real names.

Citizendium

…this project is necessary, and justified, because the world needs a more reliable free encyclopedia, which we hope to create by allowing people a place to work under the direction of experts, and by expecting personal accountability–including the use of real names.

What’s that sucking sound?

Pumping vast amounts of CO2 underground is a proposal to reduce global warming.

Huge underground reservoirs can gobble up CO2 in cool geological aquifers or reservoirs, where it can remain harmlessly for many thousands of years. In some cases, the gas can be solidified into dry ice and kept in underground storage.

CO2 gas can be diverted and captured at point sources and piped to underground vaults. Approximately one third of all CO2 emissions due to human activity come from fossil fuels used for generating electricity, with each power plant capable of emitting several million tonnes of CO2 annually.

Community is a knitwork network

I’m convinced there is a powerful social resource we fail to see and have forgotten how to use.

We will hoist rough and unsteady politics and governments because we are human. We will endure policies that injure us and we will wait for improvements to inch their way across hierarchy, class and nation. But what cannot be done in larger governments and institutions, we can do in community.

Community can give us things we can touch, interact with, enjoy, and things we need and want. It is the agriculture of hope and the victory of the simple.

Community is the scale model of posterity’s potential.

And when it fails, community is accessible. We can repair community. We can improve life near us.

Community is billions of rapidities,

mobilizing point to place, place to point;

a knitwork network;

a model of comprehension;

the modelling of mind to mechanism.

Community is the inescapable onus upon the individual to participate in the benefit of the whole and it is the requirement upon the whole to manage itself for the individual.


Before the 2004 election, community was recommended as a part of the Democratic Party platform, here at DailyKos.

There’s a new word emerging. Netroots.
It’s grassroots via the web.
Soon it will be in the dictionary I bet.

Netroots [wiki] is a recent term coined to describe political activism organized through blogs and other online media, including wikis and social network services.

China’s agriculture

‘They help take some of the risk out of a tremendously risky business,’ he said: Profile of China’s agricultural industry
05.feb.07
China Economic Information
BEIJING — Following is a profile of China’s agriculture for the year of 2006 updated on Feb. 5, 2007.
OVERVIEW
China takes food supply security as its top priority for the country’s agricultural and rural economy development in the 11 Five- Year Plan period (2006-2010).
Despite the fact southwest China’s Sichuan province suffered severe droughts in 2006, the occasional natural disaster would not threaten the country’s food security.
The country’s grain production surpassed 490 million tons in 2006, marking a third year of consecutive growth since 2004. In 2005, grain output was 484.01 million tons, up 14.54 million tons or 3.1 percent from 2004. * Despite a bumper harvest in 2006, the prices of major grain crops, including wheat, corn and soybean, are on the rise, mainly due to government controls and the upward movement of prices on the international futures market.
Experts noted that production increase doesn’t necessarily lead to market oversupply, as grain stockpile by local government and state reserve granaries have surged by a large margin. Since Nov. 25, 2006, the government has allowed increases in the supply of grain by releasing some of its national stockpile to offset price hikes. * In addition, the agricultural products processing industry also imposed a rapidly rising demand on grain.
In 2006, civil affairs departments gave subsistence allowance valued at 4. 16 billion yuan (533 million U.S. dollars) to impoverished rural people, up 64 percent over 2005.
Per capita net income of rural resident increased 10.2 percent from 2005 to 3,587 yuan in 2006. Excluding price factors, the real income growth stood at 7.4 percent.
The Chinese government plans to improve the farmers’ self- development capabilities by providing tailored training to 100 million farmers, in a bid to maintain an annual income growth of more than 5 percent in the 2006-2010 period.
In the first eleven months of 2006, Chinese township enterprises realized a cumulated added value of 5.164 trillion yuan, up 12.88 percent year on year, among which 3.6820 trillion yuan was achieved by the industrial sector, and 704. 6 billion yuan for farm products processing industry, up 13.06 percent and 16. 57 percent year on year.
The sustainable and healthy growth of township enterprises is brought by rising fixed assets investment, export and favorable policies.
Township enterprises are encouraged to create more job opportunities for farmers and bring more profits to farmers.
The government will continue to improve agricultural scientific innovation and application in an effort to improve agricultural output and products processing efficiency.
The agricultural processing industry saw an average annual growth of 15 percent from 2000 to 2005. It has become an important means of providing employment opportunities and raising farmers’ incomes.
The country sets a 12 percent annual growth target for the agricultural products processing industry during the 2006-2010 period.
The output value of the industry is expected to reach seven trillion yuan (about 900 billion U.S. dollars) by 2010.
In the Jan.-Nov. period of 2006, the country saw its agricultural products import and export value increasing by 12 percent and 13.8 percent year on year respectively to reach 29.08 and 28.13 billion US dollars, with a combined trading turnover of 57.21 billion US dollars, up 12.9 percent over 2005, and trade deficit declining from 2005’s 1.23 billion dollars to 940 million dollars, down 23.5 percent.
Proportion of deep-processed farm products increased in the export. In the first 11 months of last year, export of primary farm produce was 14.36 billion US dollars, up 6.7 percent year on year, while export of deep-processed products reached 13.44 billion US dollars, up 23.1 percent, accounting for 48.3 percent of the total export of farm produce, up 3.5 percentage points.
China’s farm produce exports to the United States grew by 34.1 percent in the first 11 months of last year to reach 3.38 billion US dollars, and exports to the European Union were up 25.4 percent year on year to 3.92 billion US dollars.
Due to Japan’s strict new standards for chemical residues, export growth to Japan slowed to 3.7 percent in the first 11 months, much lower than the 9.4 percent growth in the same period of 2005.
China had 20,200 enterprises exporting farm produce in the first 11 months of 2006, up 16.8 percent year on year. Some 544 non-state enterprises made export exceeding 10 million US dollars each, up 21.4 percent year on year.
In the first eleven months of 2006, China imported and exported 632,000 tons and 1.0836 million tons of rice respectively, up 51.6 percent and 75.2 percent, marking a net export of 451,700 tons.
In the first eleven months of 2006, China exported 2.604 million tons of corn, down 67.5 percent year on year, among which 65.6 percent or 1.71 million tons was exported to South Korea. Meanwhile, China imported 64,000 tons of corn, up 34 times. The US is the major source for China’s corn import.
The government will increase investment on infrastructure projects in rural areas, including agricultural machinery, rural transportation, drainage and irrigation facilities, etc, in an effort to improve farmers’ living conditions and help build a harmonious society in rural areas.
China will build more agricultural processing bases for grain, oil plants, fruit, vegetables, livestock and aquatic products over the next five years.
KEY INDICATORS
China’s grain production surpassed 490 million tons in 2006, which marks a third consecutive output growth since 2004. Cotton production surged 17.8 percent over 2005 to hit 6.73 million tons in 2006.
The country’s husbandry industry kept a growing momentum in 2006, despite some epidemic situation occurred. It is expected that meat production and poultry egg production would hit 80 million and 29.50 million tons respectively in the year, up 4.5 percent and 3 percent over 2005.
The country now has arable land of 1.95 billion mu or 130 million hectares, with per capita arable land of 1.5 mu or 0.1 hectare, less than half of the world average. To make things worse, the limited arable land is likely to decrease in the future. Water possession is one quarter of the world’s average.
China exported 31.03 billion U.S. dollars worth of farm produce in 2006, up 14.1 percent year on year, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. As prices on world markets were much higher than domestic markets over the past two years, farm produce exports have been on the rise. The average export prices for garlic, apples, apple juice and canned mushrooms rose more than 20 percent last year.
OUTLOOK
China set three basic tasks for the country’s agriculture and rural economic development in the 11 Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010) . They are: ensuring an effective supply of farm products, increasing agriculture production efficiency and farmers’ income, and ensuring a harmonious development in rural areas.
As signaled from the central agricultural work conference in December, 2006, the development of modern agriculture is put top agenda of building a new socialist countryside.
Accordingly, the country will reform traditional agriculture, improve labor efficiency, resources utilization efficiency, and develop produce farm deep- processing industry through technology application, education and training, etc.
China set it a goal to reach a minimum grain plowing area of 103. 33 million hectares by 2010 and a combined grain production capacity of 500 million tons. Cotton production hit 6.80 million tons annually in 2006-2010. Production of oil plants and sugar plants reach 32 million and 120 million respectively.
Despite three consecutive years’ bumper grain harvest, the country still faces the possibility of a 4.8 mill
ion

ton grain shortage in 2010, almost 9 percent of the country’s grain consumption,
according to the Study Times, a newspaper affiliated to the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
China has set a 12 percent annual growth target for the agricultural products processing industry during the 2006-2010 period,
with output value of the industry expecting to reach seven trillion yuan (about 900 billion U.S. dollars) by 2010.
The Chinese government will extend its subsistence allowance system for poor rural people across the whole country in 2007. Currently, twenty-three provinces have already established the subsistence allowance system in rural areas benefiting 150.9 million people. The other provinces and autonomous regions, including Yunnan, Guangxi, Qinghai, Ningxia, Hubei, Xinjiang, Guizhou and Tibet, are expected to finish procedures for system.
In view of the country’s limited per capital agricultural resources, the country will mainly develop labor-intensive farm products, such as husbandry products and horticulture products. In the 2006-2010 period, export of labor- intensive farm products will maintain its competitive advantages.
The country’s Ministry of Commerce wants to see farm produce exports grow by at least seven percent a year so a total of 38 billion U.S. dollars will be reached in 2010.
In order to realize the goal set above, the country will try to consolidate its export position in traditional markets, such as Japan,
Hong Kong and South Korea. Meanwhile China will develop potential markets in ASEAN, EU and US, and explore emerging markets in the Middle East, South America, Central Asia, etc.
According to the country’s 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) for agriculture and rural economy development, the country will make efforts to optimize agriculture industry, with breeding industry taking up 50 percent of the total agricultural output value and the value of farm produce processing industry 1.5 times that of agricultural output value.
Rural employment structure will be improved, with township enterprises providing new job opportunities for 2.5 million people annually and transforming an additional 5 million farmers per year to work in cities.
GOVERNMENT POLICY
The government will not allow any more land reclamation at the expense of forestland or land reclamation that destroys lakes.
China will continue to implement the minimum purchase price policy on major grain products in key growing areas in order to strengthen the macro control of grain and promote steady development of grain production.
According to the Catalogue of Industrial Guide for Foreign Investment promulgated by the State Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce revised on November 30, 2004, and effective as of January 1, 2005, China encourages foreign investment in the following field:
1. Improvement of low and medium yielding field
2. Planting technology, without social effects of pollution, of vegetables (including edible fungus and water-melon), fruits, teas and serial development and production of these products
3. Development and production of new breed varieties (excluding those gene- modified varieties) of fine quality, high-yielding crops such as sugar-yielding crops, fruit trees, flowers and plants, forage grass and related new techniques
4. Production of flowers and plants, and construction and operation of nursery base
5. Reusing in fields and comprehensive utilization of straws and stalks of crop, development and production of resources of organic fertilizers
6. Cultivation of traditional Chinese medicines (equity joint ventures or contractual joint ventures only)
7. Planting of forest trees (including bamboo) and cultivation of fine strains of forest trees
8. Planting of caoutchoucs, sisals and coffees
9. Breeding of quality varieties of breeder animals, breeder birds and aquatic offspring (excluding precious quality varieties peculiar to China)
10. Breeding of famous, special and fine aquatic products, as well as cage culture in deep water
11. Construction and operation of ecological environment protection projects preventing and treating desertification and soil erosion such as planting trees and grasses, etc.
Foreign investment to the following sectors is restricted:
1. Development and production of grain (including potatoes), cotton and oil- seed (Chinese partner shall hold the majority of shares)
2. Processing of the logs of precious varieties of trees (equity joint ventures or contractual joint ventures only)
Foreign investment is banned to these areas:
1. Cultivation of China’s rare precious breeds (including fine genes in plants industry, husbandry and aquatic products industry)
2. Production and development of genetically modified plants’ seeds
3. Fishing in the sea area within the Government jurisdiction and in in-land water
MAJOR PLAYERS
Major commodity grain production bases of China are Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Hubei, Hunan, Anhui, Jiangxi, Henan, Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces.

More human impact on Planet

Oh woe. The challenges we face, culturally and in our environment, must be driving a lot of folks bananas. Driver, bring up the Black Hole.

To add more worry worries me, but facts are better than worries.

Global studies show that human-driven environmental changes are affecting many parts of the Earth’s system, in addition to its climate.

For example:

  • Half of Earth’s land surface is now domesticated for direct human use.
  • 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are fully or over-exploited.
  • The composition of today´s atmosphere is well outside the range of natural variability the Earth has maintained over the last 650,000 years.
  • The Earth is now in the midst of its sixth great extinction event.

Science Daily

Impact of food on the environment

Livestock – predominantly cattle – are responsible for an astonishing proportion of global warming gases – 18 per cent of the total to be precise:

  • a fifth of all emissions which is more greenhouse gas emissions than all the transport on earth

  • seventy per cent of all agricultural land is used to raise animals – that’s a third of the land surface of the entire planet
  • over a third of all cereal production goes to feed those animals
  • animal methane is more destructive than industrial CO2
  • 296 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide, sixty five per cent of human related emissions of nitrous oxide are from the nitrogen in animal manure.

[post at the BBC]

In the accompanying comments, Phillip Barker writes this horrid but probable indictment:

“Your findings and calculations cause me to wonder if human contributions to global warming gases are a wash considering the billions of wild bison, water buffalo, rhinos and elephants no longer producing these dangerous gases due to our eliminating them from the planet.”

But before condemning meats and becoming a vegan, consider these points from Ben Smith:

A critical point that is being missed is where this carbon comes from.

Cars, ships, etc.:
This carbon comes from carbon that has been buried deep underground. It is unearthed, burned, and then released into the atmosphere. Therefore, any carbon released is added to carbon already present in the atmosphere = global warming.

Cows, agriculture:
This carbon comes from the atmosphere. The plants take up the carbon dioxide. Livestock then eat the plants and release the carbon back into the atmosphere. Therefore, any carbon released by the cows was already in the atmospher to begin with (carbon neutral) = no global warming.

The problem isn’t the re-releasing of carbon that was already in the atmosphere (livestock, agriculture), but the unearthing of new carbon sources (gas and coal) and then adding these to the atmosphere.


I’m helping to market “dung dryers” in a few locations in Asia these days, but can’t say much until public announcements are finalized.

45 years of space garbage

space debris graphicAt a speed of roughly 17,500 miles/hour, a speck of paint can destroy and kill.

This is a NASA graphic of current orbital debris.

The International Space Station has been moved into a different orbit to protect it against hundreds of chunks of junk created by China’s recent anti-satellite test — over 500 “large fragments” from the blast.

[click the picture for space junk link]

Update: The graphic by NASA is correct but the 500 large pieces of debris is false. It seems a reporter incorrectly translated a feed from Russia and mis-reported the facts.

Update: Taking out the trash is no simple chore on the International Space Station, where some junk is carefully hurled into the Earth’s atmosphere to burn. In space, trash can’t go to the curb

Atomic power not so clean after all

Atomic power generates more greenhouse emissions than power from natural gas.

Just as the biofuel industry is learning from palm plantations that spew more carbon than doing nothing, we may be promoting the wrong energy policies if we let politics take over before we’ve completed adequate research….

Dr Mark Diesendorf says atomic power stations do not emit carbon dioxide (CO2) themselves, but the processes involved in creating atomic energy do.

Mining, milling, uranium enrichment, atomic fuel production, power station construction and operation, storage and reprocessing of spent fuel, long-term management of radioactive waste and closing down old power stations all require the burning of fossil fuels, he says.

“Most of the energy inputs to the full life cycle of atomic fuel come from fossil fuels and are therefore responsible for CO2 emissions,” Dr Diesendorf writes in this month’s edition of the Australasian Science magazine.

Atomic power stations using high-grade uranium ores would have to run for seven to 10 years before they created enough power to cancel out the energy required to establish them. For lower grade uranium ores, greenhouse gas emissions outweighed those produced by an equivalent gas-fired power station. [link to alternative energy blog]


Not enough uranium
Britain’s think tank New Economics Foundation reports to the G8 Summit that atomic power is an uneconomical and inefficient way to deal with climate change — and

the supply of uranium needed to fuel atomic plants would be exhausted in 85 years based on current availability and the existing rate of use.

Our times they are a’changin’

Sometimes it’s good just to spill the beans.

We are now in one of the most significant periods of cultural and technological change in history, probably greater in scope than those associated with Newton and Einstein.

Developments in quantum mechanics are leading to quantum computers that gain their prodigious power through harnessing their siblings throughout the multiverse.

Biotech and genetic engineering are bringing about new species and perhaps the alteration of homo sapiens.

Materials engineering and nanotechnology are altering the object we use and how they are made.

Communications technologies promise that eventually everything can be connected to everything.

Cosmologists place us in ever expanding infinities of multiple universes.

And individuals will have unprecedented opportunities for education, knowledge and achievement and the prospect of cognitive powers we cannot yet imagine.

From Future Feeder’s longer post discussing Computational Architecture

The ribbed vault was not just a structural technique, but also a means of putting the human soul in touch with God. Perspective was not just a means of organizing pictorial space, but also a means of asserting the human observer. Industrial materials were not just economical, but also a means of finding the human place in a democratic world.

Boredom is an opportunity

The next time you find yourself lost in a fog of boredom during an endless, rainy Sunday afternoon, consider this new research by John Eastwood and colleagues, showing boredom has little to do with lack of external stimulation and everything to do with being out of touch with our emotions.

Two hundred and four undergrads completed questionnaires about their susceptibility to boredom, and about their emotions, including questions on describing feelings and being externally focused.

Researchers suggest treating boredom as an opportunity to “discover the possibility and content of one’s desires”.
read the full story

39 rules to live by

1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
2. Don’t worry about what people think; they don’t do it very often.
3. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.
4. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
5. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before.
6. My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
7. Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
8. A person, who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention! It never fails.)
9. For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.
10. If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.
11. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
12. A conscience is what hurts when all of your other parts feel so good.
13. Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.
14. Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.
15. No man has ever been shot while doing the dishes.
16. A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.
17. Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.
18. Opportunities always look bigger after they have passed.
19. Junk is something you’ve kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.
20. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
21. Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
22. By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.
23. Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator.
24. Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.
25. It ain’t the jeans that make your butt look fat.
26. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.”
27. There is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness.”
28. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.
29. You should not confuse your career with your life.
30. Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.>
31. Never lick a steak knife.
32. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.
33. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.
34. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she’s pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.
35. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.
36. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.
37. Your friends love you anyway.
38. Thought for the day: Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.
39: How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

via bits and pieces

Facilitators of facilitators

Few ecologists have studied the ways in which species make life easier for their neighbours.

“People weren’t really looking at the big picture of why a group of species is found together. Often it’s because of the positive effect of some other species,” says Andrew Altieri, a marine biologist at Northeastern University.

A “foundation” species can underpin an entire ecosystem by creating a suitable habitat for all the other species that live there.

“There are not just facilitators and species that get facilitated. There are facilitators of facilitators.” Each link in the chain may be essential to the survival of the whole system.

from New Scientist, When co-operation is the key to survival

Nations need good food

In this forum edited by Chez Panisse chef Alice Waters, experts discuss the politics of food, and how it may be poisoning our bodies and our planet.

She writes,

“It turns out that Jean Anthèlme Brillat-Savarin was right in 1825 when he wrote in his magnum opus, The Physiology of Taste, that “the destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they are fed.”


Alice Waters became instantly popular in Berkeley when she served fresh herbs, salads and vegetables, along with farm-raised poultry, lamb, pork and beef, hand-made baking and local creams and cheese. At first, she developed a route of farms to gather her items, grew many in friendly plots all around the neighborhoods, and took delivery from farmers driving to town. She revived what had been almost buried under industrial food chainstores. She showed us that local fresh quality is both truly wonderful and available.

About the same time I was operating a similar farm route, a “food conspiracy” in Marin County officially called the Family Food Co-op.

Twice a week, two or three pickups would circle the Bay Area for bundles of produce, cured meats and cheeses, and boxes of fruit and juices. Some farmers were surprised that we would appear down the driveway, eager to load as much as they could provide.

We were “exposed” in the newspaper as un-American hippy socialists bypassing the retail stores! We were merely looking for good value and good stuff. With the help of a local seminary, we carried on under the umbrella of a big church group helping a few hundred families save money and eat well.

Many folks cross the farmer’s gate. And like many cities, the Bay Area has farmers coming to market and publishes maps along various Farm Trails for tasting and sightseeing.

Supermarkets are improving quality and selection — even if it seems to be taking so-o-o long.