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anlashok (120734) writes "She never earned a Ph.D. or taught in a university history department. Barbara Tuchman called herself a writer whose subject was history. Whatever she was, there was no one better. The historian Fritz Stern memorably called World War I “the first calamity of the twentieth century, the calamity from which all other calamities sprang.” No one in late June 1914 anticipated that the assassination by a Serbian nationalist of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, would draw in all five major European powers and their various allies into a cataclysm that would snuff out the lives of 20 million soldiers and civilians, destroy three empires, and lay the groundwork for an even bloodier World War II." Link to Original Source top
Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR
anlashok (120734) writes "Atheism and science face a real challenge: To frame an account of science, or nature, that leaves room for meaning. Atheists have pinned their flag to Mr. Spock's mast. But they need Captain Kirk." Link to Original Source top
Wall Streets civil rights disgrace: Inside a quiet, evil lobbying effort
anlashok (120734) writes "Protests from the industry aside, the data clearly show that the biggest banks receive a subsidy from the government as a result of its too-big-to-fail approach, an economist writes." Link to Original Source top
anlashok (120734) writes "When so much money has been cut from education at all different levels and STEM programs and research have to fight for resources, why are our nation's priorities so screwed up? "Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams."" Link to Original Source top
30 day trips to Mars... How small scale nuclear fusion could get us there
anlashok (120734) writes "It's a lot to wrap one's head around, how imploding metal can heat plasma to fusion temperature in the neighborhood of hundreds of millions of degrees, but Slough breaks it all down on the latest Peripheral Vision with the patience and simple language of the high school science teacher we all wished we'd had." Link to Original Source top
Wall Street's greatest enemy: The man who knows too much
anlashok (120734) writes "A successful high-level executive for 30 years, he has been embroiled in seven years of lawsuits with Countrywide and the company that bought it, Bank of America. His determination to speak out against multiple violations of law at Countrywide earned him retaliation, and eventually, he was frozen out of corporate boardrooms, unable to find a new job. He won a jury verdict in his case, but after two and a half more years of fighting, an appellate court reversed the ruling in highly unusual circumstances.
“I keep hearing about whistle-blower protections,” he tells Salon, exasperatedly. “It certainly didn’t happen for me.”
Now, Bank of America wants to gouge Michael Winston one last time, demanding an interest payment on money awarded to him that he never received.
“Thus far, the person who did the right thing got punished, and the person who did the wrong thing got rewarded,” Winston said. The chilling case shows that the greatest enemy for Wall Street is the man or woman who actually tries to expose its secrets." Link to Original Source top
anlashok (120734) writes "There is big problem out there troubling our environment, invasive species that are disrupting the balance. This story is about an innovative approach to battling them, by eating our way out of the problem. "Chefs are serving up invasive species like knotweed and snakehead fish — and diners are enjoying them. How a growing food movement could also be good for the environment." "Austin Murphy likes to hunt snakehead fish on the tidal waters of the Potomac River. The fish, native to China, have earned local renown for their horror flick-like ability to breathe air and survive for short periods on land, their sharp teeth, and their thick, mucus-secreting skin. They're voracious carnivores with no known predators except humans and are all too at home in their adopted waters. Hunting them in the shallow, aquatic-plant-choked mouths of creeks and tributaries is tricky work, most easily done at night with a light and archery gear, though some fishermen prefer the more challenging method of daytime fly fishing . If the conditions are right, a skilled hunter can bag 200 pounds of snakehead in a summer season outing, says Murphy."" Link to Original Source top
Google hosts fundraiser for climate change denying senator
anlashok (120734) writes "The "don't be evil" company helps out James Inhofe of Oklahoma who has called climate change a "hoax". Shortly after contributing to the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Koch brothers-funded group that opposes environmental and other types of regulation, Google hosted a fundraiser for Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, arguably the most strident climate change denier in Congress" Link to Original Source top
Being a lifelong bookworm may keep you sharp in old age
anlashok (120734) writes "The findings, published online today in Neurology, suggest that reading books, writing and engaging in other similar brain-stimulating activities slows down cognitive decline in old age, independent of common age-related neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, people who participated in mentally stimulating activities over their lifetimes, both in young, middle and old age, had a slower rate of decline in memory and other mental capacities than those who did not." Link to Original Source top
Double standard: Unlicensed bar music vs. P2P user
anlashok (120734) writes "Massachusetts federal judge Nancy Gertner just slashed the damage award against admitted P2P user Joel Tenenbaum from $675,000 to $67,500. In her opinion, she drew a fascinating parallel between Tenenbaum's conduct and that of bars and restaurants who don't pay up for a license to play music in public. Why aren't they hit with tremendous six-figure fines?
"The jury's award in this case also appears egregious in light of the damages typically imposed on restaurants, bars, and other businesses that play copyrighted songs in their establishments without first acquiring the appropriate licenses," Gertner wrote.
"These defendants are arguably more culpable than Tenenbaum. Unlike Tenenbaum, who did not receive any direct pecuniary gain from his file-sharing, defendants in these cases play copyrighted music to create a more pleasurable atmosphere for their customers, thus generating more business and, consequently, more revenue."
Yet, in such cases, damage awards are only 2-6x the cost of a public performance license, "a ratio of statutory to actual damages far lower than the ratio present in this case."
Gertner cites numerous cases where restaurants failed to pay up, used the music for commercial gain, and were then hauled to court. The Spring Mount Area Bavarian Resort in Pennsylvania, for instance, was sued over its lack of a performance license back in 2008. The cost of license would have been $3,725; when the resort was found liable, it had to pay damages of $6,750. Other awards in similar cases include $30,000, $34,500, and $16,000 judgments.
By contrast, juries decided that sharing 30 songs on the 'Net (with no pecuniary motivation) was worth $675,000 and that sharing 24 songs might be worth anywhere from $220,000 to $1.9 million (the two Jammie Thomas-Rasset trials in Minnesota).
It didn't help that both defendants lied (and both judges called them out for it in post-trial rulings), but still—the sheer variability of these verdicts for basically similar cases show that juries are plucking numbers from a hat here. When real businesses commit similar offenses, lawyers don't show up to court and utter apocalyptic rhetoric about how unlicensed bar tunes are "killing the music business." And the results aren't designed to bankrupt the establishment in question.
Gertner can't understand the shocking difference in outcomes.
"I cannot conceive of any plausible rationale for the discrepancy between the level of damages imposed in public-performance cases and the damages awarded in this case," she wrote. "The disparity strongly suggests that the jury’s $675,000 award is arbitrary and grossly excessive."" Link to Original Source top
anlashok (120734) writes "Scientists in California have done something astounding. They've shown that physical laws thought only to rule in the mysterious realm of atoms and electrons can also apply to stuff you can actually see.
Isaac Newton was pretty much right on in describing the physical laws of how objects in our world behave. But those laws break down when you get to the world of single atoms. So modern physicists came up with a new set of laws, called quantum mechanics, that does explain how things like atoms behave.
Andrew Cleland of the University of California-Santa Barbara says some of the laws are... well, the word "weird" comes to mind.
"One of the most striking is quantum mechanics says that an object can be in two places at the same time. Or two configurations at the same time," he says.
Cleland says at first, scientists thought the laws of quantum mechanics applied to objects on the atomic scale. Cleland says it's true — physicists have observed quantum effects in structures as large as 60 atoms. That's large for the atomic world, but totally invisible in our world.
Cleland wanted to see if he could find the size where the laws of quantum broke down and everyday laws take over." Link to Original Source