Monday, September 15, 2014
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Viruses are nano size machines that often take the shape of spheres, spirals and crystals as all three form factors can easily house and deliver viral DNA/RNA to host cells as needs warrant. To live, said viruses must invade host cells using a wide variety of interesting mechanisms, like the one seen above, in order to find a friendly place to replicate, with sometimes catastrophic results i.e Smallpox, 1918 flu etc., etc. or die a lonely and unmourned death. In this vein, BRT talked about viruses in the context of Ebola, the devastating hemorrhagic fever variant, in Something is different this time, a quick take on why the current outbreak raging in West Africa is different, something potentially as terrifying as depicted in 12 Monkeys a movie of undeniable power if the unthinkable happens, something not to be taken lightly given the quantum-driven probabilistic/random reality in which we all live.
The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.
If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. Infections could spread quickly to every part of the globe, as the H1N1 influenza virus did in 2009, after its birth in Mexico.
Why are public officials afraid to discuss this? They don’t want to be accused of screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater — as I’m sure some will accuse me of doing. But the risk is real, and until we consider it, the world will not be prepared to do what is necessary to end the epidemic.
Seen above is a hexagonally shaped virus while the well known tobacco mosaic virus, seen below, takes the shape of a spiral akin to that of DNA.
As a refresher, here is the 12 Monkeys poster.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Thursday, September 11, 2014
BRT posted several pieces regarding the fubar known as the Middle East and how, in nefarious ways, how we created this ongoing disaster with help from significant others. The map depicted above shows how the various warring groups could divide up territory into new regains of influence with clandestine help from the same parties that has given us IS.
Also in 2006, the Armed Forces Journal published a map of the Middle East with its borders thoroughly re-drawn, courtesy of Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters, who had previously been assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence where he was responsible for future warfare. As for the goals of this plan, apart from “security from terrorism” and “the prospect of democracy”, Peters also mentioned “access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself.”
In 2008, the strategy re-surfaced – once again via RAND Corp – through a report funded by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command on how to prosecute the ‘long war.’ Among its strategies, one scenario advocated by the report was ‘Divide and Rule’ which would involve:
“… exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts.”
Simultaneously, the report suggested that the US could foster conflict between Salafi-jihadists and Shi’ite militants by:
“… shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes… as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.”
One way or another, some semblance of this plan is in motion. Last week, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Leiberman told US secretary of state John Kerry:
“Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion.”
For more info on this most complex and interesting of topics regarding oil, internecine rivalries and clandestine operatives of the Great Game, click Nafeez Ahmed's Blog. You will not be disappointed.
Addendum or... Thru the Looking Glass.
This is no war—it’s a ‘major counterterrorism operation.’ OK, Mr. Secretary of State, sure. We’ll believe that when we believe Saudi Arabia has an ‘extensive’ border with Syria.
According to Secretary of State John Kerry, President Obama’s newly announced (and possibly illegal) war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria is not a war at all—it’s merely a large-scale act of counterterrorism.
“If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with [ISIS], they can do so, but the fact is that it’s a major counterterrorism operation that will have many different moving parts,” Kerry said Thursday on CNN. “I don’t think people need to get into war fever on this,” he told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan.
While nature itself just "is", a construct without empathy, creatures living in it do as seen by this squirrel keeping crows from munching on his buddy, a victim of too much intimacy with a passing car. Elephants also exhibit empathy to the nth degree as seen by this post in Daily Mail UK, something cameramen found heartbreaking without question.
Perhaps the most dramatic and emotional sequence happened in our current BBC1 series, Africa, narrated by David Attenborough. We filmed an elephant mother’s desperate attempts to keep her calf alive during the worst drought in 50 years in Kenya.
These animals were not dying of thirst: they were starving. Some volcanic springs were still flowing, so the animals could get water; what they couldn’t get were nutrients.
By that time, the drought was well into its second year and mother and baby were trying to survive on dry twigs.
There was no hay in Kenya, there was a sense of utter helplessness, and we felt the most important thing was to document what was happening.
Cameraman Mark Deeble had been following the family for days. He saw that the mother stayed with her baby and felt she was distressed, trying to lift up the dead body and move it with her feet, before standing over the prone calf for about an hour, seeming to come to terms with the situation.
Whether you were actually there or watching events unfold on the screen, it was impossible to keep your emotions separate from what you were seeing. The mother’s bereavement transmitted itself so strongly.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Sunday, September 07, 2014
Yours truly has written about becoming deaf and how, in a strange but wonderful way, how silence becomes golden when taking out hearing aids, thus being "in the world but not of it", quietly separated from the noise and din of modern society, something the Finns discovered as a real plus when marketing their country to the world.
A few months later, the delegation issued a slick “Country Brand Report.” It highlighted a host of marketable themes, including Finland’s renowned educational system and school of functional design. One key theme was brand new: silence. As the report explained, modern society often seems intolerably loud and busy. “Silence is a resource,” it said. It could be marketed just like clean water or wild mushrooms. “In the future, people will be prepared to pay for the experience of silence.”
People already do. In a loud world, silence sells. Noise-canceling headphones retail for hundreds of dollars; the cost of some weeklong silent meditation courses can run into the thousands. Finland saw that it was possible to quite literally make something out of nothing.
Sounds good to me. :)
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Back in 2008, BRT posted a "review" :) of Religious, Bill Maer's hilarious take on religion, a flick that has NEVER aired on mainline TV. As per BRT, an inquiry into the Jesus myth was undertaken with brief excursions into the Nicene Creed, the myth of Horus and the fact that all depiction's of JC center on the four New Testament gospels written 80 - 100 years after his death., so... did Christ exist akin to that of the once very popular Horus, who predated Christ by 2500 years, as the Hours story has all the particulars depicting the essence of Christ including:
Now comes more data, based on valid research, that may show that JC was an artificial construct, created by talented men who wanted to validate their religion to the great unwashed back in the day.
Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.” In other words, they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity.
But there are problems with this narrative due to...
- No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef. In the words of  Bart Ehrman: “What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing.
- The earliest New Testament writers seem ignorant of the details of Jesus’ life, which become more crystalized in later texts.Paul seems unaware of any virgin birth, for example. No wise men, no star in the east, no miracles. Historians have long puzzled over the “Silence of Paul” on the most basic biographical facts and teachings of Jesus.
- Even the New Testament stories don’t claim to be first-hand accounts. We now know that the four gospels were assigned the names of the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, not written by them.
- The gospels, our only accounts of a historical Jesus, contradict each other.If you think you know the Jesus story pretty well, I suggest that you pause at this point to test yourself with the 20 question quiz  at ExChristian.net.
- Modern scholars who claim to have uncovered the real historical Jesus depict wildly different persons. They include a cynic philosopher, charismatic Hasid, liberal Pharisee, conservative rabbi, Zealot revolutionary, nonviolent pacifist to borrow from a much longer list assembled by Price . In his words (pp. 15-16), “The historical Jesus (if there was one) might well have been a messianic king, or a progressive Pharisee, or a Galilean shaman, or a magus, or a Hellenistic sage. But he cannot very well have been all of them at the same time.” John Dominic Crossan  of the Jesus Seminar grumbles that “the stunning diversity is an academic embarrassment.”
Like Judge Crotty, Justice Richard Posner gets it regarding how law should work in applying common sense and fairness to complex issues affecting us all, i.e. separation of church and state, corporations as people etc., etc., while Anton Scalia doesn't as his penchant is to use his "immense" intellect for the sake of argument rather then getting to the heart of the issue at hand to arrive at a decision grounded on sound legal and moral principles. To whit.
Finally, Posner was recently one of three judges to hear oral argument in a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin and Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. Although the case has not yet been decided, there is no question how Posner will vote. When the lawyer for Wisconsin justified the ban based on “tradition,” Posner responded by saying “It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away.” He also said the ban stems from “a tradition of hate … and savage discrimination” against same-sex couples.
During the argument, the state argued that the purpose of the ban had something (ill-defined) to do with procreation and biology. Posner responded, “It’s arbitrary. You’re allowing all these sterile people to get married. Why are you doing that if you’re so concerned with procreation? Why do you let them?
If only he was one of the Supremes.
Monday, September 01, 2014
Saturday, August 30, 2014
an apparition or double of a living person.
"he has a doppelgänger named Donald, his invented twin brother"
Twisted Sifter does it again with 15 pix of doppelgangers. Astounding to say the least.
I’m not a look-alike! is an ongoing project by François Brunelle (featured previously). For the last fourteen years the photographer has been taking black and white portraits of unrelated doppelgängers and he has found and photographed over 230 look-alikes to date. Most people have found him and his project through his website and social media.
You can't make this up. :)
Friday, August 29, 2014
4% of the web comprise the internet us normal rubes are used to, the web accessible via Safari, Explorer, Chrome and Opera, among significant others, to do our usual thing whether it be email trolling, social networking a la Facebook or Google + or buying stuff from Amazon and Apple but the other 96%, the dark side of the web, can only be seen via browsers like Tor, a tool allowing us to see the mysterious and illegal though the mechanism of anonymity and tech, courtesy the US Navy.
Tor was originally designed, implemented, and deployed as a third-generation onion routing project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. It was originally developed with the U.S. Navy in mind, for the primary purpose of protecting government communications. Today, it is used every day for a wide variety of purposes by normal people, the military, journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, and many others.
Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.
Seen below is a pretty cool graphic doing the iceberg thing showing just how vast the deep web truly is.
The ‘Surface Web’, also known as the ‘Visible’ or ‘Searchable’ web, while significantly large at over 8 billion pages, only cracks the surface when it comes to the size of the Internet. The ‘Deep Web’, (also known as the ‘Invisible Web’, ‘Deepnet’, ‘DarkNet’, ‘Hidden Web’ and ‘Undernet’) refers to the content on the Internet that is not capable of being indexed by standard search engines, leaving the content ‘hidden’. The Deep Web houses over 96% of the content on the web that is publicly accessible.
- Public information on the Deep Web is currently 400 to 550 times larger than the commonly defined World Wide Web.
- The Deep Web contains 7,500 terabytes of information, compared to 19 terabytes of information in the surface Web.
- The Deep Web contains nearly 550 billion individual documents compared to the 1 billion of the surface Web.
- More than an estimated 200,000 Deep Web sites presently exist. Sixty of the largest Deep Web sites collectively contain about 750 terabytes of information – sufficient by themselves to exceed the size of the surface Web by 40 times.