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intaglio's Journal - Archives
Posted by intaglio in General Discussion
Mon Oct 03rd 2011, 08:25 AM
A recent announcement by J P Morgan Chase Press Release from Morgan Chase

I'll quote the item before it gets "lost"
New York City Police Foundation — New York

JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD's main data center.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing "profound gratitude" for the company's donation.

"These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe," Dimon said. "We're incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work."
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Posted by intaglio in Environment/Energy
Sat Jun 18th 2011, 04:40 PM
You see, I was a reluctant supporter of nuclear power as a means to alleviate anthropogenic climate change. I viewed the danger of radioactive contamination as being small enough to allow the use of nuclear power for a brief span so allowing other technologies to mature and replace it. Despite knowing that high and intermediate level wastes would accumulate there being no practicable method of disposing of such waste at present, I believed nuclear generation would be a necessity in the short term.

But then Fukushima.

Even before we knew about the meltdowns and the melt-through(s) it was obvious that something extraordinary had happened; a nuclear plant was collapsing into chaos before our eyes. Reactor vessels were being vented into containment because the pressure was to high whereupon the hydrogen exploded breaching that containment. Contamination was widespread, despite the fact the fuel was still largely under the roof, unlike Chernobyl. Soon water bearing radioactivity was found to be leaking in large volumes into the Pacific, some was even released deliberately. What is more we now know that some contaminated material was in an plume and contaminated towns as far away as Iwate.

We found out that seawater was having to be used to cool the fuel and to recharge leaking fuel pools a in a near suicidal attempt to prevent worse. Then there was the discovery that thousands of tonnes of contaminated water was "missing". At first supposed to be in the drywell of the containment buildings, then some was found to have leaked into basements and trenches on site and eventually it was admitted that much must have gone into the aquifer (water table) of Miyagi prefecture.

Early, very early, the Japanese Government evacuated the area around Fukushima, some 290,000 people. No time was allowed for clean-up or the recovery of bodies from the earthquake and tsunami. To bring that into perspective there are over 1,000 confirmed dead and 8,000 missing from the original disaster in that area yet, still, no-one is allowed to stay within 20 km of the plant to conduct effective clean-up and searches.

This catalogue of chronic failure that shows how devastating nuclear power can be.

Consider the terrible pollution caused by coal fired generating plant, not just CO2 but also fly ash and fume containing heavy metals and organic contamination. Despite this there has never been a case where a malfunctioning coal, or gas or oil, fuelled power station has required an evacuation of the area; yet the nuclear industry has needed such compulsory evacuations twice and voluntarily once.

It is from this point that I began to see the massive costs that never reach the fiscal balance sheet of nuclear power. The personal loses from enforced absence from home and employment; the fear caused by the spectres of cancer, miscarriage, deformity and long term debility. Then there are the national costs such as the constant examination of foodstuffs and the loss of market because of contamination. For the Japanese these are almost unbearable burdens to add to the disaster that caused them.

Chernobyl, of course, had much the same effects and, like many who supported nuclear power, I comforted myself with the apparent difference between the Russian Federation's nuclear system and the (supposedly) more rigorous systems of the West. To put it another way, I bought into the propaganda but have since found out about the dubious extension of operating licenses and some of the other little loopholes that the regulators and the operating companies exploit.

It was from this point that I began a search to see what, if anything, the loss of nuclear power as an option would mean to the ending our dependency on coal, gas and oil. What I found out was that it would mean nothing.

Photovoltaic and on-shore wind are already cheaper than nuclear per installed gigawatt. Off-shore wind, even far off-shore, is competitive with nuclear if given the same tax breaks and subsidy. It is true wave and tidal power remains prohibitively expensive as anything more than experimental systems, but that has more to do with engineers lacking experience in how to construct such systems.

The biggest problem the new generating systems face is lack of a good storage system for the energy they produce but even here there are systems which can be used already, i.e. pumped and gyroscopic storage, whilst flow batteries in the megawatt range are already being made.

Fukushima changed everything. It changed my mind.
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Posted by intaglio in The DU Lounge
Sun Jun 12th 2011, 08:14 AM
via Dispatches from the Culture Wars

I came across this new blog
The Strangest Adventures

With Republican pols as comic book covers
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Posted by intaglio in Environment/Energy
Sat Jun 11th 2011, 11:51 AM
Study of 800-year-old tree rings backs global warming
Despite odd years like this one, researchers have long reported declines in the mountain snows that power Western rivers. But on Thursday a group of scientists said they now also know this: Those declines are virtually unprecedented throughout most of the last millennium.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and University of Washington measured tree-ring growth from forests that included 800-year-old trees. They learned that snowpack reductions in the late 20th and early 21st centuries were unlike any other period dating to at least the year 1200, according to new research published in the journal Science.

The precise amount of those declines, particularly in the Cascades, has been the subject of fierce debate even within UW climate circles. But no more than half of the declines can be explained by natural shifts, the study shows.
It is painstaking work like this that climate change deniers hate.

Source Seattle Times
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Posted by intaglio in General Discussion
Mon May 02nd 2011, 08:14 AM
Just to remind the few Americans who downplay this achievement. Here is a timeline of the hunt for Osama bin Laden

1996: President Clinton establishes a CIA task force with the aim of catching bin Laden and disbanding al Qaeda

August 6 2001: President Bush ignores Presidential Daily Briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” about a probable planned attack in the USA by the bin Laden organisation, al Qaeda. The President commented "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

September 11 2001: The needless deaths of thousands of Americans.

September 17 2001: President G W Bush says bin Laden wanted “dead or alive.”

March 13 2002: President G W Bush says: “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.”

May 1 2003: "Mission Accomplished," (yeah, right)

July 3 2006: CIA unit tasked with hunting bin Laden closed with the approval of President G W Bush.

June 2 2009: President Obama signs a memo to Director Panetta stating “in order to ensure that we have expanded every effort, I direct you to provide me within 30 days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to justice Usama Bin Ladin…”

8:20am April 29th 2011: President Obama decided to authorise the attack on the compound at Abboottsabad.

May 1 2011: The attack at Abbottsabad carried through successfully. Bin Ladin dies.
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Posted by intaglio in Environment/Energy
Fri Apr 08th 2011, 04:14 AM
The BBC reported today a projection that the Pole will be clear of ice in the next decade.
Scientists who predicted a few years ago that Arctic summers could be ice-free by 2013 now say summer ice will probably be gone within this decade.

The original prediction, made in 2007, gained Wieslaw Maslowski's team a deal of criticism from some of their peers.

Now they are working with a new computer model - compiled partly in response to those criticisms - that produces a "best guess" date of 2016.

Away from a frightening speculation into reports of fact the National Snow and Ice Data Center has recorded that the Arctic Sea Ice maximum has occurred round about March 11. NSIDC says this is the 2nd lowest on record.

National Snow and Ice Data Center

Another presentation of the data from Cryosphere Today shows the variation to be more than 700,000 sq km less than the mean from the 1979 - 2008 period.

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Posted by intaglio in General Discussion
Sat Apr 02nd 2011, 07:05 AM
Holmes' opinion in the case where he used that analogy was that free speech was curtailed by a test of "clear and present danger." That test came back to bite him on the butt when later he found himself in the minority regarding the test "clear and present danger and so the rights of people to protest were curtailed as well.

Christopher Hitchens once, memorably, opened his part of a debate by shouting "Fire!" in a lecture hall and then proceeded to destroy Holmes' analogy.

Debate on Free Speech. part 1

This entire series is one of the best defenses of free speech I know and a great incitement to actually think. Note that he does not defend as right the views of holocaust deniers, racists or homophobes, just that if you remove their right to free speech you also remove your own right to free speech. Pastor Jones was foolish, ignorant and prejudiced to do what he did but the actions of the imams and their followers were worse - even allowing for their comparative ignorance.

That does not mean that incitement to violence cannot be punished, just that it must be proved that it is an incitement to violence. Crying out that homosexuals must be killed is hateful, but so is calling for the death of homophobes; but if a hater just says that they hate and do not lie about the thing hated or call for violence or give approval to the violence that results they must, unfortunately, be allowed to do so.

The laws of libel, slander and copyright have long been used by Scientology to defend itself from examination and prosecution. How much more would a law banning the defaming of religion or damage to religious texts defend that nasty little cult? Indeed imagine that such a law was in effect back in the 60's when Mormonism was still, exclusively white because of Book of Mormon said that blacks were a lesser race.

Debate on Free Speech. part 2
Debate on Free Speech. part 3
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Posted by intaglio in Religion/Theology
Tue Mar 29th 2011, 07:49 AM
If only from the fact it is excluded from the canonical (sic) text! The problem comes with why were the biblical texts written at all for they do not describe an historical figure.

The Jesus of the gospels is a famous miracle worker, attracts huge crowds with his teaching, is an acknowledged a scholar and enters Jerusalem in triumph. If Jesus had been that famous there would be far more note made of him in non-Christian sources. Josephus hardly refers to Jesus at all even if you accept the references in his "Jewish War" at face value (which I do not). Philo of Alexandria whose life overlapped the career of Jesus makes no mention this famous rabbi despite writing at length about Pilate's rule in Judea. Valerius Maximus collected memorable sayings and accomplishments during the time of Jesus's life but has nothing from or about that teacher.

What does that leave us with? Just the synoptic gospels; two of which which contradict each other and copy from the third; dubious references from later, non-Christian writers and the non-synoptic Christian writings; both those later included in the bible and those excluded from it.

Didache is one of the excluded, Christian writings. Dating for any early text is difficult; the careers and reputations of numerous academics are made upon assessing the age of texts. Essentially dating it boils down to identifying dated events within the text, assessing the grammar and vocabulary of the text for the period in which it was written and finding when the text is first mentioned by other writers in a dated context. Using these methods I understand that the Didache is dated to between 50 and 120 CE. As an aside it is worth noting that this places the Didache in the same period as the early Pauline letters and the hypothetical, maybe mythical Q document. In addition Didache possibly pre-dates the Gospel of Mark.

Didache and all of the other, Christian writings are connected by two things - they were written and amended long after the time of the putative Christ and we do not hold original copies. On textual accuracy, for example, Marcion complained about the Western Church adding text to early Pauline letters and they in turn accused him of deleting content. The earliest copy we have of Mark is in the Codex Sinaiticus and that, at the earliest dates to mid-Fourth Century (320-380 CE). This early Mark again shows how texts were altered by the early and later Churches for it contains only 666 verses against the modern count of 678.

Now let me tell you about a miracle that happened during the First World War. In August 1914 British units of the "contemptibly small" British Expeditionary Force were attacked by a very large number of Germans. The force was pressed hard and a massive breakthrough was threatened, but a hugely outnumbered force on a small salient near Mons held out. The situation was dire, if the salient was crushed then nothing would stop the German advance. Then, at the height of the battle something wonderful happened, Germans fell in huge numbers and the remainder turned and ran; the salient held and the British were able to withdraw safely to freshly prepared lines. Near contemporary reports tell of a bright light in the sky, and the appearance of angels conjuring strangely equipped troops from the mists. These troops wore tatters and medieval armour, they carried bows and clothyard arrows. The next day, it is said, Germans recovering their dead did, indeed, find many of their men had died from arrows not bullets.

You may recognise the story of the "Angel of Mons" and the truly miraculous thing about it is that many people believed it really happened. Despite modern printing, record keeping and reporting for much of the 20th Century many people accepted this fable as fact. The real story was that the highly trained, professional troops of the BEF, using one of the best weapons of the century (the Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifle) did hold against a conscript army who vastly outnumbered them. Then, the next month, a fine writer called Arthur Machin wrote a story called "The Bowmen" about this battle which was published in the London "Evening News". For some reason the editor did not identify this story as fiction. To quote Wikipedia:
A month or two afterwards, Machen received requests from the editors of parish magazines to reprint the story, which were granted. A priest, the editor of one of these magazines, subsequently wrote to Machen asking if he would allow the story to be reprinted in pamphlet form, and would he write a short preface giving authorities for the story. Machen replied that they were welcome to reprint but he could not give any authorities for the story since he had none. The priest replied that Machen must be mistaken, that the "facts" of the story must be true, and that Machen had just elaborated on a true account. As Machen later said:
"It seemed that my light fiction had been accepted by the congregation of this particular church as the solidest of facts; and it was then that it began to dawn on me that if I had failed in the art of letters, I had succeeded, unwittingly, in the art of deceit. This happened, I should think, some time in April, and the snowball of rumour that was then set rolling has been rolling ever since, growing bigger and bigger, till it is now swollen to a monstrous size."
—Arthur Machen, Preface to The Bowmen<1>

Around that time variants of the story began to appear, told as authentic histories, including a variant which told how dead German soldiers had been found on the battlefield with arrow wounds.

During my childhood and adolescence I was assured this story was true, it was a "real life" miracle. I know that the event has been cited throughout my life. Can see where this is leading? Despite our literate society, the easy availability of sources and the frequent, well publicised, debunking people still accepted this story of an angel as reality. How much easier then for a Platonic Ideal of a God/Man to be accepted as reality in a non-literate society - and think how quickly this could happen.

I can see how, within 20 years of the supposed death of this Messiah, a believer chose to write down what he had gathered about his "real" God. That other authors hearing of this write their own accounts. All would draw on a common fund of legends, some would use half remembered stories about real people and add them to the mix - or copy the bits they liked from other writers. In all I do not think the Gospels, and the other writings, are gospel true.
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Posted by intaglio in Religion/Theology
Mon Mar 28th 2011, 06:16 PM
I agree that often you are dealing with subjective information, but often only in regard to absence of evidence. There is no archaeological evidence whatsoever for the exodus, the misrepresentations put about by certain so-called "biblical archaeology" organisations not withstanding. However it is possible to be objective about the false time-lines espoused by Velikovski and certain fundamentalist preachers. Evidence was falsified and misread, this is well known and therefore you can say, objectively, those time-lines are false. Judgments about the Ipuwer papyrus can only be subjective but what evidence there is does not support it as description of the biblical plagues.

It is also possible to be objective about a world-wide, biblical flood. It did not happen. If you wish to dispute that please take a course in geology from a recognised institution and submit your concept as a thesis.

It is also possible to be objective about some untruths in the New Testament. Firstly the inconvenient truth that there was never a census during the reign of Herod (died 4 BCE), Herod was a client king and censuses were not done in client kingdoms. Judea did not come under direct Roman rule until 6 CE when Quirinius was appointed Legate of Syria province. Now Matthew says that Herod the Great was king and Luke says Quirinius was Governor, therefore objectively one of these accounts is untrue. I'm certain you have some subjective arguments which ignore objective reality but I am not interested in special pleading. Similarly the ancestry given for Jesus in these two books differs, objectively one genealogy is false.

/edit for clarity
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Posted by intaglio in General Discussion
Sat Mar 26th 2011, 05:50 AM
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Posted by intaglio in Environment/Energy
Fri Mar 25th 2011, 11:43 AM
It's bad enough in the UK.

On the subject of Chernobyl you should be aware that it was over 20 years before some Cumbrian sheep were permitted to be marketed as food due to the Russian accident. You want worse? 5100 holdings in Wales are still restricted from selling their sheep as food due to radio cesium contamination. You see there was a matter of concentration and re-concentration due to local soil types and vegetation. This sort of environmental effect means your pretty graphs mean damn-all.

I am not particularly frightened of radiation, if I want to worry about radiation damage, however, all I have to do is to walk in the door to my house; living in Cornwall radon gas is an ever present hazard. If I want to see long term environmental damage, I go outside. The Porthtowan valley still carries the scars 150 years after production ceased . Local streams remain unfit to drink because of copper, lead and arsenic pollution, although a few minnows do seem to have developed tolerance. Cornwall is gorgeous with flourishing fauna and flora but the whole county dreadfully is scarred by man. It is because I live in a place so damaged that I do not wish to see further damage or to risk further additional exposure to radioactivity.

I agree, fly ash is a problem and coal should not be used as a combustion source, but accidents like Fukishima are warnings about the danger of nuclear fueled power plants. Chernobyl was only ameliorated by the actions of men. It could have been far worse but for the men who died and were scarred by the direct radiation. Many others were damaged by high level exposure to radio-nucleotides but the insidious damage of low level exposure happens over a far longer period and in ways hardly measurable in a general population.

What you forget is that in addition to the cancers there are non-lethal abnormalities; miscarriages and embryo re-absorbtion; the damaged immune systems, gastric problems and neuropathy; all of which were spread across Europe in the plume from that damned place.

And now Fukishima risks polluting the whole, damn Pacific Ocean, Japan, China and Korea and it is getting worse.

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Posted by intaglio in General Discussion
Wed Mar 23rd 2011, 05:23 AM
wanted to say that because I thought someone was overdramatising the situation. I lost the original thread so I'm putting this here for all to see.
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Posted by intaglio in General Discussion
Tue Mar 01st 2011, 06:30 PM
but he has beaten "Watson" and Bill Cassidy (R Louisiana) at Jeopardy.

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Posted by intaglio in General Discussion
Tue Mar 01st 2011, 06:23 AM
Masturbating whilst watching children in a park ...
Times Picayune/ report from 28 Feb 2011
The Rev. Grant Storms, the Christian fundamentalist known for his bullhorn protests of the Southern Decadence festival in the French Quarter, was arrested on a charge of masturbating at a Metairie park Friday afternoon.

Storms, 53, of 2304 Green Acres Road in Metairie, was taken into custody at Lafreniere Park after two women reported seeing him masturbating in the driver's seat of his van, which was parked near the carousel and playground, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office report said.

The first woman told deputies she was taking her children to the playground and parked next to the van at about noon. As she was walking around her own vehicle, she noticed the van windows were down and the occupant was "looking at the playground area that contained children playing, with his zipper down...," the report said. The woman noted that he was masturbating and quickly ushered her children out of her car.

Let him learn by spending several years in a male only institution.
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Posted by intaglio in General Discussion
Mon Feb 28th 2011, 07:15 AM
Not only widespread but continues.

From NOT my favourite news source The Daily Mail but needs must where the devil drives.

What about giving hepatitis virus to mental patients?

Or Dr Rhoads infamous experiments upon (sic) "Porto Rican's"?

Having prisoners bitten with malaria carrying mosquitoes?

This is all old news but then we're told about
American-funded doctors in Uganda failed to give the Aids drug AZT to HIV-infected pregnant women, even though it would have protected their newborns.

The other study, by Pfizer, gave an antibiotic named Trovan to children with meningitis in Nigeria, although there were doubts about its effectiveness for that disease.

Critics blamed the experiment for the deaths of 11 children and the disabling of scores of others.

Medical researchers need to learn - there are better ways, especially nowadays.
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