Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Get yours . . .

GET A FLU SHOT. Besides helping to fight the flu, there are strong indications that it is an effective way of lowering the incidence of major cardio problems. That's what a report from the American Council on Science and Health proclaims in a post, "Flu vaccine’s unexpected heart benefits":

Flu shots can stop you from getting the flu. Can they also stop you from having a heart attack?

That’s the intriguing suggestion by Dr. Jacob Udell of the University of Toronto and colleagues, who gave a recent presentation at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, demonstrating a surprising 48 percent reduction in major adverse cardiovascular events (heart attack or sudden death, or stroke) among over 3000 patients culled from 4 separate trials, conducted from 1994 to 2008.

Down to the wire . . .

— Elizabeth Warren, Democrat populist —
“The Republican vision is clear — ‘I got mine. The rest of you are on your own.’ Republicans say they don’t believe in government. Sure, they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney is the guy who said corporations are people. No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people.

“People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die, and that matters. That matters because we do not run this country for corporations. We run it for people, and that is why I support Barack Obama.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel is an opinion writer for the Washington Post, with an article that sums up how bereft the Gopper mind-set is, "Warfare waged by the upper class", with that exquisite quote from  Elizabeth Warren, who may be a powerful force in the Democratic party's future.

It's a quote that Stevie and his carpetbaggers need to have pounded into their reptilian skulls: "We do not run this country for corporations. We run it for people."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Beat the CHAMP . . .

CHAMP: Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project. According to a report on THE VERGE, by Amar Toor, "Boeing's CHAMP missile uses radio waves to remotely disable PCs", Boeing's Phantom Works and the US Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate and Raytheon Ktech have successfully tested this EMP (electromagnetic pulse) weapon. Check out the video, the sumbitch really works.

It appears to be a power technology breakthrough, in that up until CHAMP, generating intense EMP required explosives, which makes it a single-use item, an explosively-pumped flux generator, whereas the CHAMP shown in the video makes sequential "fries".

CHAMP gives the weapons people a frisson, because it's science fiction, sorta like Star Wars, and it's non-destructive of people and real estate.

So, why should you care?

Because it's non-destructive of people and real estate, it offers great potential to the Surveillance State for controlling domestic urban unrest.

If the Surveillance State continues with institutionalized violations of citizens' rights in the name of security, this could be used if the hoi poloi aren't being appropriately respectful, essentially frying out everybody's electronics — yours too, if you happen to live and/or work there — so that without information, resistance is ineffective. Do you think Stevie or Vickie would hesitate to use it? Right now, it's too expensive for domestic use, but that will change.

Wiping out neighborhood electronics could be a useful tool in paralyzing opposition, because nothing works in the targeted area — unless you have EMP shielding. Maybe even carry a spare phone in a Faraday Bag? Makes an ideal Xmas gift for people with passports and RFID chipped credit cards, come to think about it, keeps the unauthorized from pinging the chips.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Induced psychopathy . . .

HOW DOES IT FEEL to think like a psychopath? Really. 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (or TMS) was developed by Anthony Barker and his colleagues at the University of Sheffield in 1985.  TMS has widespread practical uses, in both diagnostic and therapeutic capacities, across a variety of neurological and psychiatric conditions, from depression and migraine to strokes and Parkinson's disease.

The Chronicle Review is a thoughtful site, with a fascinating article by Kevin Dutton, "Psychopathy's Double Edge", where he gets a TMS treatment to become psychopathic. Where it gets really interesting is that he gets a baseline of his normal brain along with Andy McNab, an S.A.S. combat veteran.

"Think of TMS as an electromagnetic comb, and brain cells—neurons—as hairs. All TMS does is comb those hairs in a particular direction, creating a temporary neural hairstyle. Which, like any new hairstyle, if you don't maintain it, quickly goes back to normal of its own accord."

Wonder what they'll be able to do with it in another 45 years or so?

Friday, October 26, 2012

F-35, the song remains the same

Something about the head of the RCAF saying the fighter procurement office not yet receiving instructions to look at not-JSFs as options and then later saying he misspoke or something. Uh huh.

Anyway, for those still intersted, there's a link to the CBC item here. Me, this beyond the absurd and I'm finding myself less than interested in the outcome. 

The Cons, through intent and incompetence are now steaming at flank speed in their quest to destroy coherent and responsible government for China and Jesus.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TransCanada in Texas . . .

TRUTHOUT is a fine site for concerned citizens, and Candice Bernd has an account you should check out, "SLAPPed, Arrested, Deemed Eco-Terrorists: TransCanada Blockaders Persevere". It seems that there are concerned Americans, that don't want Stevie's Tar.  Sure seems to have fallen in a black hole as far as the news media are concerned, but I could be mistaken.

The Midwestern leg of TransCanada's pipeline is up and running after a five-day shut-down to repair areas where required integrity tests identified possible safety issues, according to the federal agency that oversees the existing 2,100-mile link.

Meanwhile, in East Texas, a contingent of Tar Sands Blockaders maintains their vigil - now in its fifth week - to stop construction on the Gulf Coast extension of the controversial project.

The nonviolent blockaders have been met with pain compliance tactics, felony charges, a SLAPP suit which uses the language of "eco-terrorism" and what amounts to a police state surrounding their tree village in Winnsboro, Texas.

DIRTY OIL SANDS has an account of an August encounter with the Man. Interesting site, check it out.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Simple is good . . .

The war on women . . .

THE WAR ON WOMEN continues in the Middle East, and according to Roya Hakakian's article in the Washington Post, "How blaming the West hides a war on women", it developed to a fine art in Iran and has institutionalized misogyny in the Islamic fundies, and has put a killing frost in the Arab Spring.

The world cringed and turned away from Iran. Just then, the age of marriage was lowered to 9; the weight of a woman’s testimony in a criminal trial was halved against a man’s; divorce, abortion, inheritance and custody rights were slashed; several academic fields and careers were banned to women; and the Islamic dress code was reinstituted. Public spaces in Tehran, including buses, were segregated by gender, and the faithful’s fists pumped into the air, punctuating Friday prayers with “death to America” chants.

Bullies beware . . .

LOVE COMPETENT PEOPLE. Then again, there are those who will demand a National Long-Bow Registry.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Back to the Bates . . .

DALTON EXITS Ontario politics with a masterful stroke: proroguing the Ontario Legislature. As a result, there are no debates about the worst series of mistakes committed by an Ontario administration in one very long time. From E-Health, to Ornge, to the Oakville Power Station Stumble, to the battle with Ontario teachers. All of this becomes something for the next government to deal with.

But Dalton may still have some worries: the G20 violations of Canadian civil rights will be appearing in court next year. Did Dalton's amendment that was not Gazetted mean that hundreds were arrested illegally?

"This Is What Democracy Looks Like . . . ."

in the Excited States of America:

Pitiful, isn't it ? ? ? ?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nasty, and ignored . . .

HEART OF DARKNESS 2012: Northern Myanmar, aka Burma, where people are being driven from their lands and exterminated, a kind of jungle genocide. And behind it, our inscrutable capitalists, the Chinese. According to the Aljazeera account by Jason Motlagh, "Blood and Gold: Inside Burma's Hidden War", the horror shows no signs of stopping.

So far, more than 75,000 ethnic Kachin civilians have been driven from their ancestral lands. Human rights groups allege the Burmese army is intentionally attacking civilian areas, with wide-spread evidence of torture, rape, forced conscription and summary executions. Both sides employ child soldiers and continue to sow the ground with land mines.

According to a June report by Human Rights Watch, at least 10,000 additional Kachin refugees are stranded in make-shift camps across the border in China, where authorities still refuse to grant the United Nations and relief agencies access. Thousands have reportedly been forced back across the border, into harm’s way.

Vastly outnumbered and outgunned,
the KIA depends on a steady
stream of recruits to fill its ranks [Jason Motlagh]
• • •

As western businesses beat a path to her homeland, Burma watchers are concerned that ongoing rights abuses against the Kachin and other ethnic minorities could be further marginalised.

"The international euphoria about the reform in Burma is definitely premature, especially with the crimes against humanity we're seeing in Kachin state," says Matthew Smith, a field investigator with Human Rights Watch.

Outmanned and outgunned, KIA guerillas have fought the Burmese military on and off for decades in their bid for greater political rights and control over lands rich in minerals, timber and, more recently, Chinese-funded hydropower projects that were brokered during the ceasefire period.

While other rebel movements in Karen and Chin states have inked deals with the government, KIA officials insist the Burmese used the truce as a cover to broker multi-billion dollar energy deals with China without their input. The current fighting was touched off when the Burmese Army advanced on KIA outposts near the Taping River.

And total silence from Western media and governments.
H/T — Daniel

Friday, October 12, 2012

Here we are again

Here we are again with yet another failing of our stupid bloody simpleton's understanding of justice and the system we built around it. With all the research we have the shows the complex biological and social roots of deviant behaviour, the best we can still do for those who stray is lock them in boxes somewhere out of sight.

Even without what appears to be an appalling display of neglect and incompetence on the part of prison staff, who actually benefits from separating the mother from the child just to keep her in prison? The mother? I can't begin to imagine how she must feel right now. The child? Evidence suggests post-partum mother-child bonding is absolutely critical to normal social development.

As far as I can tell the only people really benefiting from this are the commenters on the CBC report who feel better having brayed righteously about how the mother should not broken the law if she didn't want to give birth in jail.

Quick thoughts on the US Veep debate

I caught a bit of Biden vs. Ryan snake oil festival last night. In terms of substance, Biden ran circles around Ryan. However, Ryan pulled a Harper. You know, that calm, very carefully trained and rehearsed daddy-knows-best voice and canned phrases that lulls the crazies into a voting trance and that disoriented bunch of undecideds into whatever state they need to get themselves to vote. And has others feeling a just little creeped out, well, because its all just so...oily. Ryan could be describing eating babies and they'd fall for it. That Mitt guy basically confessed to the game:

"There was one person on stage last night who was thoughtful and respectful and steady and poised, the kind of person you'd want to turn to in a crisis," Romney said to cheers. "And that was the next vice president of the United States, Paul Ryan."
It really doesn't matter what Ryan said so much as how he said it. If you're too lost to understand the issues even when someone explains them to you, you're going to filter out the sucker-smirk and fall for the smooth talker who looks calm. It's really quite sad that this actually works on such large numbers of people. But when you're dealing with the grossly undereducated people in the country of Mad Men, who have been conditioned to be afraid and suspicious of everything but God, Walmart, and American Firepower, even a smirking charlatan can pass for daddy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Cold War, this is not

The reporting on the Canada-Russia spy case makes it read more like a Johnny English script than a John le Carré novel.

From what we know so far... a very junior RCN intelligence officer rucks up to the Russian Embassy, flashe a badge speaks to a Russian military intelligence representative. Espionage ensues - involving a data-stick and top secret computer systems. Right mouse clicks for three grand a month. Not exactly a lucrative business, is it? Especially considering if the sort of intelligence our sailor was meant to be sharing is about 23 years out of style. That sort of maritime data would have been much more valuable during the Cold War. You know, when the Soviets were THE declared adversary and paid top dollar for such carnal services. Didn't he know China is the new Red?

Oh, but wait. His just-as-dumb handlers wanted to meet him in Brazil. Brazil? Seriously? Over cocktails and dancing girls I bet. And there they give him a mountain of cash that would raise the eyebrow of any diligent customs officer, especially in the post-9/11 air security context and if you're an officer in the RCN and only gone for a few days. One thinks the GRU folks have either been watching too many old Bond films or stood to gain something from burning their Canucklehead like that besides the attention of the Brazilian and Canadian intelligence services.

The cleverist people in this whole silliness were the CBSA people who picked up on something odd and did the right thing. 

The more interesting question for me is why Delisle did it, although I suspect the answer there will be just as provincial or banal. Hmm, on second thought, that might make for interesting reading in its own right. Page 397, 'In the end, Delisle didn't know why he did it, "I just found myself walking past the Russian Embassy one day and walked in."

Monday, October 08, 2012

The burning madness

Sixth Estate describes...

Down the drain . . .

BAATHISM HAS BEEN a driving political force in the Middle East for decades, but according to an article on The New Republic, by Paul Berman, "Baathism: An Obituary", it seems that the movement is about to be nailed to its perch, so to speak, with the imminent collapse of its last adherents in Syria.

Baathism is one of the last of the grandiose revolutionary ideologies of the mid-twentieth century—an ideology like communism and fascism in Europe (both of which exercised a large influence on Baathist thinking), except in an Arab version suitable for the age of decolonization. Its champions came to power not only in Syria but in Iraq, in both cases in the 1960s; and the consequences were not of the sort that leave people unchanged.

Now, while Bashar seems to be a rather unpleasant fellow, the collapse of the Baathist movement and its discreditation in the Middle East may have not-good consequences:

The political and cultural landscape of the Middle East, post-Baath, will be pockmarked by blighted zones that might otherwise have been a prosperous Iraq and Syria, if only the Baathist doctrine had not destroyed those countries. A cloud of intellectual bafflement and paranoia will hover overhead, consisting of the confused thoughts of everyone across the region who, in the past, talked themselves into supposing that Baathism was a good idea. And more than visible will be the triumphant zeal of Baathism’s principal rivals in the matter of grandiose revolutionary ideology—the champions of the single Middle Eastern millenarian doctrine still standing, once the Assad regime has finally gone. These will be the Islamists.

Yep, the Islamic Brotherhood and the Wahabbists may wind up being the real winners, in the near-term, the next 5 to 10 years. But as the 21st century passes and things like satellite dishes and the web have their influence, there will be changes — and surprises.

Bill Hicks . . .

ON THIS THANKSGIVING, give a listen to the late, great Bill Hicks. Thanks to Rusty Idols for drawing attention to this brilliant wit who died way too soon. Like Rusty says, "NSFW as fuck".

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Unintended consequences . . .

THE ONE-CHILD policy of the Chinese government is 34 years old, and according to George Dvorsky's article on io9, "The Unintended Consequences Of China’s One-child Policy", the problems have multiplied as the country's citizens have lived with the legislation. And the problems will be continuing, as the Party is adamant that the one-child policy continue, so that by 2050, there may be big changes indeed.

Writing in her book, Unnatural Selection, Mara Hvistendahl notes that, in a natural state, there are 105 boys born for every 100 girls. In China, however, the male number has crept up to 121 — and as high as 150 in some districts.
• • •
In China, this practice has now resulted in a "surplus" of men who have little hope of marrying. Hvistendahl notes that these men tend to accumulate in the lower classes where the risk of violence is accentuated. Moreover, unmarried men who have low incomes tend to get restless — and in fact, areas with skewed gender balances tend to experience higher rates of crime.

And because it's harder to find a wife, men are having to literally buy or bid for them. This has contributed to China's elevated household savings rate where parents are having to squirrel away money in order to secure a bride for their son. It has also led to a boom in the mail order bride business — and prostitution.

And as a recent analysis by Wei Xing Zhu has shown, the imbalance is expected to worsen in the coming decades; the biggest gaps currently exist between the one to four-year old group — which means they'll be the ones having to deal with the fallout in about in 15 to 20 years.

The hits just keep on coming. Why? Because of this, China's population growth is falling, as intended, back in 1978. But today, China has a market economy, of sorts — and market capitalism requires market growth, and there are only so many Wal-Mart lumpen in North America.

A declining population means fewer productive workers (if not consumers). Some fear that the Chinese labor force has hit its peak and will start to decline in just a few years.

Then there's the effect of the only-child on the psychological aspects of inter-personal relations and expectations from society.

In essence, China has created an entire generation of exclusively first born children — this could be dramatically reducing the diversity of personality types in that country.

Time moves slowly; it can take decades for effects to show. For example, the sky-rocketing cost of college/university education in the last 30 years (unless you live in Québec) in North America has created an indentured legion of twenty-somethings entering the work force with crippling debt and a working environment gamed by the 1% to keep them in poverty. OWS? Duh.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Cinéma vérité . . .

DEBKAfile is a site that some love to hate, for its unabashedly pro-Israeli orientation. However, there is a report that is worthy of attention without reflexive knee-jerk: "Defecting Iranian cameraman brings CIA priceless film of secret nuclear sites". According to the report, dated October 5: 

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s personal cameraman, Hassan Golkhanban, who defected from his UN entourage in New York on Oct. 1, brought with him an intelligence treasure trove of up-to-date photographs and videos of top Iranian leaders visiting their most sensitive and secret nuclear and missile sites. 

• • •

The Iranian cameraman has given US intelligence the most complete and updated footage it has ever obtained of the interiors of Iran’s top secret military facilities and various nuclear installations, including some never revealed to nuclear watchdog inspectors. Among them are exclusive interior shots of the Natanz nuclear complex, the Fordo underground enrichment plant, the Parchin military complex and the small Amir-Abad research reactor in Tehran.

Knowledge is power. Will this latest insight promote a US/Israeli strike, or not? Or does it just confirm what the CIA and Mossad already know?

Monday, October 01, 2012

As the world turns . . .

DISCOVER MAGAZINE calls Michael König's video, "Earth", a "JAW DROPPING Space Station time lapse!". They might be right. Check out the article for details.