Tag Archives | cool people

Fukushima’s Real Threat: Undue Fear

The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Reactor 1 to 4 from right to left.

The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Reactor 1 to 4 from right to left.

Our reaction to the crisis in Fukushima Daiichi has been and continues to be generally irrational.  Contrary to the assertions of some recent sensationalistic articles, there is no evident increase in thyroid health problems in Japanese children living in and around the Prefectures of Fukushima, and it is unlikely that there ever will be (UN Report; Nuclear News; J. of Am. Phys. and Surg.; CBCnews; Hiroshima Syndrome; National GeographicAsahi Shimbun).   This is because the only cause of thyroid risk during a nuclear disaster, iodine-131 which has a half-life of 8 days, was allowed to decay during evacuation and with restrictions on food and milk from the area.  After 80–90 days had passed, released radioactive iodine-131 decays to less than 0.1% of its initial quantity, and therefore the danger is essentially over.  (These precautions were not well followed near Chernobyl and thus resulted in many health problems in future years for the people of Ukraine.)

In fact, it has repeatedly been shown that the worst health effects from Fukushima have come not from any radioactive exposure, but from the the stress of evacuations and fear of radiation itself (Gaji 2013; Japan Daily Press; WHO Report; NYTimes).  “The psychological stress…we should never underestimate that…it’s really what the big problem is, because there’s a lot of fear which might actually cause health effects,” says Kai Vetter of UC Berkley nuclear engineering department.  In fact, not one person has yet died from exposure to Fukushima’s radiation, and it’s likely that no one ever will.… Read the rest

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Here’s How Wind and Solar Energy are Increasing CO2 Emissions

Picture: JMT (PD)

Picture: JMT (PD)

Almost everybody today agrees that it would be really smart (if not vitally essential) that we reduce the amount of fossil carbon we release from giant, tupperware-geological structures deep inside the earth.  But how would we accomplish freeing ourselves from coal, petroleum, and gas while maintaining a dependable flow of electricity?

Mainstream environmentalists currently advocate for generating energy from wind turbines and solar arrays, whose energy comes more-or-less directly from the sun.  With solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, and wind turbines we can produce electricity without generating any carbon dioxide (once these devices have been manufactured and placed on a field or ocean somewhere).   Unfortunately, one issue with these technologies is that the energy is intermittent.  With the wind dying down and the Sun being obscured by clouds or the night, these devices only actually generate electricity a small minority of the time, let’s say generously 30% of the time.… Read the rest

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Pope Francis: Pets Can’t Substitute For Kids In A Relationship

Crazy CatCiting birth rate statistics in Italy and the United States, Pope Francis stated on June 2nd that couples who forgo child rearing to own pets are dooming themselves to an old age of loneliness.  [I know I've wanted to scream out the window at couples walking dogs "make babies, you losers!"]

Indeed birth rates across the Western world have fallen steadily over the past few hundred years , but especially in recent times, to far below replacement levels.  In the USA they have been falling more and more slowly since the “end” of the financial crisis, but remain relatively abysmal.

More, via The Salt Lake Tribune:

“It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or not? Have you seen it?”  Stated the pontificate, ““You can go explore the world, go on vacation, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be carefree,”

“Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness ”

Francis  said without qualification that Jesus Christ would not approve of childless marriages.  “There are things that Jesus doesn’t like — [couples] who don’t want children, who want to be without fruitfulness.”

“Married life must be persevering, because otherwise love cannot go forward,” Francis said.

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Jack Chick: ‘God’s Cartoonist’

00chick tractGod’s Cartoonist, A recently-published documentary  I found through weirduniverse.net, details the content and controversy of “Chick tracts,” the widely promulgated 3×5″ evangelical comics that use simple pen and ink illustrations and easily understood stories to promote creator Jack Chick’s fire-and-brimstone brand of evangelical Christianity.

Chick publications claims to have sold 750 million of the tracts since the first ones were released over 50 years ago. If true, this would make Chick the world’s bestselling author: a distinction that can likely be credited to missionaries, churches, and faithful buying them in bulk.

Chick, now aged 90, has only agreed to on interview during the 50-plus years he has been manufacturing his tracts and other related items, and did not sit for an interview with the producers of God’s Cartoonist. He’s probably too busy, anyway: He’s got more tracts to draw – a job he did by himself until 1975 when he brought in another artist to help.… Read the rest

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In the Face of Automation, Why Do Humans Exist??

PIC: PD

PIC: PD

George Deane aptly writes for The Institute of Ethics and Human Technology:

“We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.” Buckminster Fuller

In an age of ever-accelerating technological advancements, a fear that goes back to the early 19th century – that machines will take our jobs – seems more pertinent than ever.

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6th Annual Thorium Energy Conference Augurs Future of Energy

PIC: Thumbaa (CC)

PIC: Thumbaa (CC)

You may have read my last piece about thorium nuclear energy.  If so you know the insanely real capability existing thorium technology has to overhaul energy production not just in the US but worldwide.

But just to give you a little background anyway,  The Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) is a technology developed in the early 60s, originally to build a nuclear-powered bomber for the Air Force.  As it turns out, the technology has far wider applications.  Thorium fuel is cheap and abundant and far exceeds uranium-water reactors for efficiency and safety without the high-volume waste production.   LFTRs remain an untapped technology in the US, while China is currently acting on plans to build their own reactors.  More power to them!  If you want a GREAT informational video on the history and benefits of the technology, check this out.

More poignantly, there is a consortium pursuing the implementation of thorium-based nuclear reactors called the Thorium Energy Alliance and they are holding their 6th annual T.E.A.Read the rest

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Why is the Vatican Searching for Aliens?

PIC: Lewis Francis (CC)

PIC: Lewis Francis (CC)

Is there any theological motivation in the search for life beyond earth? Or is this just the academic bent of our Jesuit pope being felt early in his papacy?  Is it a terrible pursuit of heresy or worse, the work of the Devil?  Or is the Vatican searching for some greater inspiration for humanity?

The last time the Vatican was moved to pursue a momentous astronomical discovery was in 1580 to reform the Julian calendar.  It was known that the equinoxes and solstices had drifted some distance off from true, and Pope Gregory XIII sought a reform to respect the traditional Easter celebration date as set by the Council of Nicaea in 325.  The Gregorian Tower was ordered erected in the Holy See and stocked with the finest instruments of the day.  Jesuit astronomers were able to refine the length of the year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days (a reduction of about 10 minutes and 48 seconds per annum or <0.002%).  To compensate for the calculated discrepancy, a Papal Bull decreed that all calendars would skip 10 days.  The day of Thursday Oct 4th 1582 on the Julian calendar was immediately followed by the day of Friday Oct 15th 1582 on the new Gregorian calendar, and Easter has been when it’s supposed to be ever since.However, does the pursuit of the discovery of extraterrestrial life have a practical end such as that for calendar reform?… Read the rest

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Otis Pike, First Congressman to Battle NSA, Dies Unnoticed

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 12.55.10 PMAt possibly the most poignant time in the last 30 years,  the man who valiantly did battle with the US intelligence octopus in the 1970s, Otis Pike,  has died.  All liberty-minded Americans should be celebrating his character and accomplishments, but there is a pervasive and undeserved lull.   Mark Ames of Pando.com writes:

Pike asked questions never asked or answered since the start of the Cold War: What was America’s intelligence budget? What was the purpose of the CIA, NSA and other intelligence agencies and programs? Were they succeeding by their own standards? Were taxpayers getting their money’s worth? Were they making America safer?…The problem was that Pike asked the right questions—and that led him to some very wrong answers, as far as the powers that be were concerned.

…Today, there’s an underlying assumption that exposing dark government secrets is somehow transformative in itself, even without a wider politics to frame it.

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Does Ariel Sharon’s Death Bode the Second Coming?

Picture: USDOD (PD)

Picture: USDOD (PD)

Does a note left by a venerated Orthodox Rabbi shortly before his death indicate that the Apocalypse and the ’1000 years of peace’ are just around the corner?

Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri died in Israel in 2006 at the age of 108. At his funeral 24 hours later it is estimated that 2 or 3 hundred-thousand people flooded the streets of Jerusalem to pay tribute to the “mystic sage.”

On Sept 24th 2001, he prophesied that “On Hashanah Rabba the actual war of Gog and Magog will commence and last for some 7 years.” Auspiciously, on the eve of Hashanah Rabba on Oct 7th 2001, the United States began strikes against Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. A year later during Rosh Hashanah in October 2005, he raised his head after a a period of deep concentration and declared, “The soul of the Messiah has attached itself to a person in Israel” and he would honor his promise to guide his people through a “time of trouble.” In his last prophesy before death, he declared that he had met the Messiah, and he will come shortly after the death of Ariel Sharon.… Read the rest

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Obsessive Rationality Disorder: Adbusters-Diagnosis

Pic: Vanity Fair (PD)

Pic: Vanity Fair (PD)

From the brilliant annals of the technocratic analgesic, Adbusters in Nov-Dec ’13….fictional, but so resonant I think DSM-V should revise to include it!!

-Obsessive Rationality Disorder-

History and Identity:

Formerly known as cognitive compartmentalization syndrome, ORD is a condition wherein emotion and feeling become detached from cognitive processes and social interactions.  Sufferers are driven by progressively irresistible impulses toward exactitude, order and logic.  Daily tasks and household chores are inspected and refined.  Efficiency in all aspects of life becomes an obsession.  Originally thought to be a condition unique to the West, mass social manifestations can now be located throughout the world.

Characteristics of the Disorder:

In early stages, ORD manifests itself in the desire to suppress existential uncertainty with scientific and mathematical exactitude.  Fascination, mystery and the unknown are repressed-first consciously- then unconsciously.  Over the course of the affliction, the coping dimension of the disease transforms from extreme discomfort to mild pleasure, making withdrawal painful and neurologically degenerative.  Those with advanced symptoms often seek out positions of power and influence.  Empathetic and altruistic pleasure centers of the brain shutdown.  In economic and political circles, unhealthy and destructive fixations with profit margins, scientific certainty and mathematical proofs substitute intuitive, ethical and moral considerations,  At this stage, detachment from the natural and experiential wold is complete and successful treatment outcomes are rare.  If not for the pervasiveness of acute-stage ORD, mass institutionalization would be recommended treatment.  Rapture is the only known cure.

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