Lasrick (2629253) writes "Great interview with Peter Kuran, an animator of the original Star Wars and legendary visual effects artist. If you saw the recent remake of Godzilla, you saw stock footage from Atom Central, known on YouTube as “the atomic bomb channel.” Atom Central is the brainchild of Kuran, who among his many talents is an expert on archival films of the atmospheric testing era of 1945 to 1963. Combining his film restoration and photography expertise with his interest in nuclear history, he has also produced and directed five documentaries. He is currently working with Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories to preserve and catalog images from the bomb-testing era, and to produce a technical handbook that will help people understand these images and the techniques used to create them. Awesome slideshow accompanies the article" Link to Original Source top
Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon to Local Law Enforcement?
Lasrick (2629253) writes "To this day, Russian authorities refuse to disclose the incapacitating chemical agent (ICA) they employed in their attempt, 12 years ago, to save 900 hostages held in a theater by Chechen fighters. Malcom Dando elaborates on a new report that Russia, China, Israel, and a slew of other countries are continuing research into ICAs, and the apparent indifference of the international community into such research. Proponenets of ICAs have long promoted their use in a variety of scenarios, including that of law enforcement, because in theory these chemicals incapacitate without permanent disability. Critics, however, point out that these weapons rely on exact dosage to prevent fatality, and that the ability to 'deliver the right agent to the right people in the right dose without exposing the wrong people, or delivering the wrong dose' is a near-impossible expectation. ICAs represent the further misuse and militarization of the life sciences and a weakening of the taboo against the weaponization of toxic substances, and the idea that they could be used in law enforcement situations is a disturbing one." Link to Original Source top
Ebola does not require an "Ebola Czar," nor calling up the National Guard
Lasrick (2629253) writes "David Ropeik explores risk-perception psychology and Ebola in the US. 'But officials are up against the inherently emotional and instinctive nature of risk-perception psychology. Pioneering research on this subject by Paul Slovic, Baruch Fischhoff, and others, vast research on human cognition by Daniel Kahnemanand colleagues, and research on the brain’s fear response by neuroscientists Joseph LeDoux, Elizabeth Phelps, and others, all make abundantly clear that the perception of risk is not simply a matter of the facts, but more a matter of how those facts feel. (Melissa Finucane, Slovic, and others have called this the “affect heuristic.”)'" Link to Original Source top
The tiny islands that China wants in the South China Sea
Lasrick (2629253) writes "It's always the natural resources, isn't it? China is claiming tiny islands known as the Spratlys and Paracels chains, respectively, and is even going so far as to dump millions of tons of rock and sand to extend landmass, due to suspected reserves of oil and natural gas surrounding them. This would also give China 'what would effectively be an unsinkable aircraft carrier and a new set of facts on the ground.' The Spratlys are made up of about 750 little bits of land that lie due south of China and southeast of Vietnam. (The Paracels have fewer islands, but with more landmass.) Both China and Vietnam fervently claim the island chains as their own, as do the governments of the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.' As this article points out, this area of the South China Sea has been a flashpoint for decades." Link to Original Source top
Lasrick (2629253) writes "With ISIS running amok over such a large swathe of territory, it’s no surprise that rampant fears of the group obtaining Weapons of Mass Destruction are growing. 'But it is important to be realistic about the threat. It remains unlikely that the group will be able to acquire and effectively use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.' Terrific read by two proliferation experts." Link to Original Source top
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Epidemics test the leadership skills of politicians and medical infrastructures, which is clear as this article goes through the different ways West African countries have dealt with the Ebola crisis. Now that fears are spreading about a US outbreak (highly unlikely, as this article points out), it may be time to look at the US medical infrastructure, which, of course, in many ways is far superior to those West African countries where the virus has spread. But there is an interesting twist to how disease outbreaks are handled in the US: 'The US Constitution—written approximately 100 years before the germ theory of disease was proven by French chemist Louis Pasteur and German physician Robert Koch—places responsibility for public health squarely on the shoulders of local and state political leaders...one could argue that the United States is hobbled by an outdated constitution in responding to epidemics. State and local jurisdictions vary tremendously in their public health capabilities.'" Link to Original Source top
Ahmet Uzumcu: Getting rid of chemical weapons in Syria and beyond
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Terrific interview with Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, which won last year's Nobel Peace Prize. 'The mission committed to getting rid of Syria’s arsenal in less than 10 months. It didn’t know if it would have enough funding, and Syria was in the midst of a raging civil war. Despite these impediments, the mission managed to destroy 97 percent of Syria’s chemical weapons within one year. Along the way, Uzumcu accepted the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of his organization.'" Link to Original Source top
New anti-nuclear movement should push for an old idea: a comprehensive test ban
Lasrick (2629253) writes ""This call for a new push on ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty includes a terrific (short) animated video of how nuclear test monitoring actually works, and details why the new "humanitarian impact" movement could help get the CTBT ratified by those countries that haven't yet done so (guess who?). Interesting piece."" Link to Original Source top
Why a new anti-nuclear movement should push for an old idea: a comprehensive tes
Lasrick (2629253) writes "This call for a new push on ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty includes a terrific (short) animated video of how nuclear test monitoring actually works, and details why the new "humanitarian impact" movement could help get the CTBT ratified by those countries that haven't yet done so (guess who?). Interesting piece." Link to Original Source top
Swing Theory: Local Dancers Reject Traditional Gender Roles
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Interesting piece about West Coast Swing dancers challenging the traditional gender roles of "leading" and "following." As more competitions in the field open up to "degendered" dance roles, will the organizations that award points begin to recognize winners even if they have switched gender roles? The times, they are a changing." Link to Original Source top
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Although based on anecdotal evidence, this article describes the rise in the number of people who report having been "roofied"--that is, having had a drug slipped into their drinks by bartenders, acquaintances, etc. Men are reporting the experience at increasing rates, and the drug of choice isn't necessarily rohypnol: Reported drugs include '...GHB (or “liquid Ecstasy”), Zolpidem (also known as Ambien), scopolamine, and a few lesser-known benzodiazepines, like temazepam or midazolam. It is probably no longer accurate to say “She was roofied” — but then “She was midazolamed” lacks a certain something.' Although sexual assault doesn't seem always to be the intent, it's a pretty appalling phenomenon." Link to Original Source top
Is it possible to have any fun at all without burning fossil fuels?
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Dawn Stover looks at unrealistic expectations and the distribution of limited energy resources: 'This is a question that should move from the fringes of the energy debate to its very heart. Economists and energy experts shy away from issues of equity and morality, but climate change and environmental justice are inseparable: It’s impossible to talk intelligently about climate without discussing how to distribute limited energy resources. It’s highly unlikely that the world can safely produce almost five times as much electricity by 2035 as it does now—which is what it would take to provide everyone with a circa-2010 American standard of living, according to a calculation by University of Colorado environmental studies professor Roger Pielke Jr. The sooner policy makers accept this reality, the sooner they can get to work on a global solution that meets everyone’s needs. First, though, they need to understand the difference between needs and wants.' Not something most people even think about." Link to Original Source top
It's the deforestation: How to prevent Ebola Outbreaks
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Laura Kahn points to deforestation as the real culprit behind the Ebola outbreaks: 'Environmental destruction and widespread deforestation seem to constitute a common thread in causing the emergence of many of the deadliest viruses known to humanity. Some of the world’s highest rates of deforestation have occurred in West Africa; the Guinea rainforest has shrunk to one-fifth of its former size. Liberia and Sierra Leone are also threatened by massive forest-clearing operations. Deadly viruses such as Ebola and Nipah emerge in human populations after widespread deforestation destroys the habitats of fruit bats to make way for agriculture.' This article is from July, but is an appropriate read given new outbreaks of the disease." Link to Original Source top
Is Republican Climate-Science Denialism a Mental Block?
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Jonathan Chait explores recent political science studies that suggests messaging is the problem with getting Republican voters to understand and believe in climate change, but points out that the messaging is wrong because the premise is wrong. Chait points out that voters really don't get their political stands from their values, but rather they get their political stands from the party elites they trust. Goes on to document some of the flip-flops of notable Republicans (like Chris Christie) on climate solutions such as cap and trade. Good read." Link to Original Source top
How Solar Power Could Become the World's Dominant Energy Source in 35 Years
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Brian Merchant looks at the latest International Energy Agency's latest report which projects that solar power could overtake fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy within 35 years. 'The International Energy Agency lays out a roadmap for how photovoltaic panels—the kind on your neighbor's roof—could provide 16 percent of the world's electricity by 2050. Meanwhile, concentrated solar power plants, larger projects designed to reflect large amounts of sunlight onto a single point to drive a heat engine, may generate up to 11 percent.'" Link to Original Source top
Lasrick (2629253) writes "So glad to see this; this is what happens when ideology replaces good governing (regardless of what that ideology is). John Judis looks at Sam Brownback's term as governor of Kansas, in which Brownback created what he thought was a conservative utopia (the year Brownback won, 2010, the GOP won every federal and statewide office in the state, as well). What's happened since then is a disaster for the good citizens of Kansas. Good read, well sourced." Link to Original Source top
Data Cherry-Picking Explains the Global Warming "Hiatus"
Lasrick (2629253) writes "As the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 powers resume, most observers recognize two main sticking points: How much to limit Tehran’s ability to enrich uranium, and how sanctions will be lifted. There is a third, crucial point that many in the West thought settled. but in fact, may be the point that makes the deal break down: the 40-megawatt, heavy water thermal reactor at Aruk. There have been conflicting reports about the reactor's future, but it seems clear to anyone paying attention to what the Iranians are actually saying that Arak poses a serious roadblock to agreement. 'The West views the reactor as “optimized” for plutonium production.' This is a proliferation concern, as plutonium could be used in a nuclear weapon, and the Arak reactor would be able to hold enough weapons-grade plutonium to make 6 nuclear weapons. Tehran says that it has no desire to develop reprocessing capabilities, and without the ability to reprocess, the country would not be able to separate the plutonium from irradiated fuel. Ariane Tabatabai explains the issue in detail, noting that self-sufficiency is at the 'very core of the Iranian assessment of its practical needs.'" Link to Original Source top
The sexual threats against Emma Watson are an attack on every woman
Lasrick (2629253) writes "This is an important read. If the speech that Emma Watson gave to the United Nations gathering on September 21st can cause such misogyny, then the very act of women speaking will cause it (which seems to be the case when it comes to the internet). 'Emma Watson makes a wonderful UN Goodwill Ambassador. If the campaign she champions is successful, she will have done tremendous good in the world. There is nothing about her private, consensual sexual life that has any bearing on the value of her work, the validity of her feminist views, or her integrity as a person. If her stolen nude photos are leaked on the internet in retaliation for her work, that will not mean that she was irresponsible or reckless, it will mean that she is brave. Regardless of whether any photos are released, the threats against Watson are already an attack on all of us. And we should all take it personally.'" Link to Original Source top
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Three researchers from King's College, London, walk through the security threats posed by synthetic and do-it-yourself biology, assessing whether changes in technology and associated costs make it any easier for would-be terrorists to pursue biological weapons for high-consequence, mass- casualty attacks (and even whether they would want to). 'Those who have overemphasized the bioterrorism threat typically portray it as an imminent concern, with emphasis placed on high-consequence, mass-casualty attacks, performed with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This is a myth with two dimensions.'" Link to Original Source