Paradox



While looking through the Van Allen papers at the University of Iowa to prepare a Van Allen biography, science historian James Fleming of Colby College discovered "that [the] very same day after the press conference, [Van Allen] agreed with the military to get involved with a project to set off atomic bombs in the magnetosphere to see if they could disrupt it."

The Americans launched their first atomic nuclear tests above the Earth's atmosphere in 1958. Atom bombs had little effect on the magnetosphere, but the hydrogen bomb of July 9, 1962, did. Code-named "Starfish Prime" by the military, it literally created an artificial extension of the Van Allen belts that could be seen across the Pacific Ocean, from Hawaii to New Zealand.

The plan was to send rockets hundreds of miles up, higher than the Earth's atmosphere, and then detonate nuclear weapons to see: a) If a bomb's radiation would make it harder to see what was up there (like incoming Russian missiles!); b) If an explosion would do any damage to objects nearby; c) If the Van Allen belts would move a blast down the bands to an earthly target (Moscow! for example); and — most peculiar — d) if a man-made explosion might "alter" the natural shape of the belts.

The scientific basis for these proposals is not clear. Fleming is trying to figure out if Van Allen had any theoretical reason to suppose the military could use the Van Allen belts to attack a hostile nation. He supposes that at the height of the Cold War, the most pressing argument for a military experiment was, "if we don't do it, the Russians will." And, indeed, the Russians did test atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs in space.

In any case, says the science history professor, "this is the first occasion I've ever discovered where someone discovered something and immediately decided to blow it up."



Attraction Effect: "Conventional accounts of rational choice dictate that a person’s preference between two items be independent of the other options on offer: If one prefers salmon to steak, this should not change just because frogs’ legs are added to the menu (Luce & Raiffa, 1957). However, the choices of neurotypical adults are heavily influenced by the composition of the choice set; rather than being based on an independent assessment, the attractiveness of a given option depends on how it compares with the other values that are simultaneously present (Huber, Payne, & Puto, 1982; Simonson, 1989; Tversky, 1972)."














At conception, every embryo is female and unless hormonally altered will remain so. You need testosterone to turn a fetus with a Y chromosome into a real boy, to masculinize his brain and body. Men experience a flood of testosterone twice in their lives: in the womb about six weeks after conception and at puberty. The first fetal burst primes the brain and the body, endowing male fetuses with the instinctual knowledge of how to respond to later testosterone surges. The second, more familiar adolescent rush -- squeaky voices, facial hair and all -- completes the process. Without testosterone, humans would always revert to the default sex, which is female. The Book of Genesis is therefore exactly wrong. It isn't women who are made out of men. It is men who are made out of women. Testosterone, to stretch the metaphor, is Eve's rib.



» Senator who voted for anti-trans ‘bathroom bill’ busted in hotel with underage boy

» Lawmaker pushing for less regulation has child die in van at his facility

» Bill Cosby Plans to Hold "Town Halls" About Sexual Assault





















"Tesla's solar panels produce DC - Edison's favored flavor of electricity - whereas Southern California Edison delivers alternating current - developed by Tesla."



Trump wants to run the country like a business.
Trump divides groups, creating fear and violence.
Trump cuts worker protections and hires billionaires.
Trump doesn't fill most positions.

Uber wants to repair its image.
Uber aids federal investigation and increases accountability.
Uber embraces change and rewards collaboration and empathy.
Uber appoints an independent board to improve culture.



Probably one of the most important aspects of his personality is that for Donald Trump there’s really no tense other than the present tense. He doesn’t think terribly much about the future, and he also doesn’t at all acknowledge that the past exists. I think he almost uniquely, in my experience, doesn’t really experience the past in his day-to-day life. When you ask him about things that took place earlier in his life, it’s almost as if they come fresh to him every time you mention them.






















Consider this example from the medical realm: When radiologists, in a study, were asked to analyze a routine chest x-ray, 60 percent failed to realize a collarbone was missing. Why? Because the data they were familiar with had subconsciously trained them to expect to see one.

Interesting fact: A mere 1 in 1 million humans have the condition that can cause cleidocranial dysplasia, the absence of a collarbone.



According to documents released in March by Wikileaks, US intelligence can hack smartphones, computers and smart, web-connected TVs, to pilot them and eavesdrop.

"All the other connected objects can be pirated, that has been shown, be it a coffee machine, a refrigerator, a thermostat, electronic entry systems, the lighting system...," warns Loic Guezo, a cyber security analyst for southern Europe with Japanese security software company Trend Micro.

Mikko Hypponen, head of research at Finnish security specialists F-Secure, has for his part come up with his eponymous Hypponen's Law. This states that "once a device is described as 'intelligent', you can consider it as vulnerable."






“A slim majority of Americans (55 percent) say religion can answer all or most of today’s problems. Although this percentage has declined substantially over time, it has been relatively stable over the past year and a half and is up from the all-time low of 51 percent in May 2015,” reports Gallup analyst Art Swift.

And the inevitable partisan divide: 71 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of independents and 47 percent of Democrats also agree that faith is still the answer. The strongest sentiment — 85 percent — was found among those who attend church weekly, the lowest — 9 percent — who had no religious preference."



Fox News outranked both MSNBC and CNN in prime time, drawing 2.2 million viewers compared to MSNBC’s 1.3 million and CNN’s 1.1 million. Fox also triumphed when breaking news about terrorist attacks in London terror emerged: Fox News was the No. 1 cable news network Saturday evening with 2.1 million viewers; CNN garnered 1.2 million and MSNBC a telling 628,000 viewers. And it has been ever thus, it seems. In brief, Fox News has been the No. 1 cable news channel for 15 years according to those Nielsen numbers. Additionally, Fox News programs made up 15 of the top 30 telecasts on basic cable.



Throughout the 1980s, Rev. Sun Myung Moon actively promoted opposition to communism, a struggle he saw in religious terms.

“The only way to defeat communism is to clearly prove the existence of God,” he said. He developed an anti-communist strategy he called Victory Over Communism (VOC), which critiqued the fallacies of Marxist theory while seeking to “demonstrate in detail how God guides human history.” VOC was the philosophical underpinning of CAUSA (Confederation of Associations for the Unification of the Societies of the Americas), an organization that Rev. Moon established in 1980 to combat the spread of communism in Latin America. CAUSA seminars trained anti-communist leaders through South and Central America, and even sought to convert communist sympathizers.

Even as he celebrated the end of the Cold War, Rev. Moon focused on new struggles, calling for “a revival of spiritual culture.”

“The societies of free countries today are exhibiting a phenomenon that is every bit as evil as communism … the philosophy of materialistic humanism and … the extreme individualism and selfishness that are the offshoots of this philosophy,” he declared in 1992. The young people, whom we normally expect to become the future leaders, are losing touch with their consciences in a flood of immorality, drugs and crime, to such an extent that it is difficult for us to have hope in them as the leaders of the 21st century.”



“Subsidies like direct payments and crop insurance are criticized as not being safety nets for poor farmers, as is their stated purpose, but rather a way for wealthy farmers to get richer,” Potter’s report, released last week, stated. “The direct payment policy of the [European Union] ... is distributed by the hectare – so that farmers who own or rent more land receive greater financial benefits.”

In the name of food security, the subsidy system will often urge farmers to grow a few particularly widely used commodities. But in so doing, government support could be inadvertently, but directly exacerbating agriculture-related environmental problems.




But, despite Trump’s suggestion that he is being victimized by a witch hunt, and that a more adept PR strategy could minimize the damage, this is a situation entirely of Trump’s own making. And each of Trump’s actions leading up to this moment are rooted deep in Trump’s autocratic and authoritarian impulses; his total contempt for basic institutional processes; and his tendency, when his sense of grievance strikes, to slip into a delusional belief that he can overwhelm the institutional independence of his persecutors the way he might steamroll someone in a business deal.










George Carlin
“There is absolutely nothing wrong — There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those words in and of themselves. They’re only words. It’s the context that counts. It’s the user. It’s the intention behind the words that makes them good or bad. The words are completely neutral. The words are innocent. I get tired of people talking about bad words and bad language. Bullshit! It’s the context that makes them good or bad. The context. That makes them good or bad.”



Terry La Sorda
“That sense of wonder is so important. You have to bring people to the edge of reality, to let them see what reality really is. … And I think reality is an illusion. The only real things in life are the things you can’t touch: love, and our sense of wonder."



Bill Maher
“And Ronald Reagan, God bless him, we can talk about him now that he’s gone… He did some good things, but I must say, he also kind of made dumbness a virtue.”



Jerry Seinfeld
“It’s so fuckin’ hard to get comfortable… it just comes and goes, there’s just like, glimpses, little moments… where I feel really like myself and I feel comfortable. And then the rest of it I’m just like in my father’s suit with these huge sleeves and legs and I’m goin’, I’m thinking, ‘what am I wearing?’, ‘what am I doing here?’”



Leo Tolstoy
“I know that most men—not only those considered clever, but even those who are very clever, and capable of understanding most difficult scientific, mathematical, or philosophic problems—can very seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as to oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty—conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives.”



Kanye West 
“When you walk straight, niggas tend to look at you sideways…” (“My Way”)



One of the remarkable side effects of universal access to information is how it has bolstered the human tendency to embrace information that reinforces our existing beliefs. Clearly the value in providing interconnected access outweighs the erosion of rational argument, but that erosion is substantial and disconcerting.

The Trump era has overlapped with the blossoming of a number of questionable rhetorical practices, not the least of which is the practice of responding to any critique of Trump with a tangentially similar critique of one of his political opponents, usually Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Someone, somewhere dubbed this “whattaboutism” — as in, “What about what Obama did?”



The idea of measuring an American president by the accomplishments of his first 100 days in office goes back to 1933 and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's dash to staunch a banking crisis and pull America out of the Great Depression. He had signed a record 15 major pieces of legislation in those first 100 days. But it's not as simple as the legend would make it seem.

"Presidents since Roosevelt have been held up to a standard that not even Roosevelt achieved," said historian Patrick Maney, a professor at Boston College who has written books about Presidents Clinton and FDR. "Only two or, at most, three of those measures actually originated in the White House," Maney said of the 15 major pieces of legislation signed by Roosevelt. "Almost all the rest had originated in Congress and many — including federal relief for the unemployed, the Tennessee Valley Authority — had been up for debate for years."

So in Maney's view it wasn't just about the president; it was about Congress too. And that's a lesson many presidents have learned over time — that their greatest domestic achievements come not from the White House but from their ability to work with the 535 people down at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. And often it takes a long time.



Light or low tar cigarettes have holes in the cigarette filter, which allow smokers to inhale more smoke with higher levels of carcinogens, mutagens and other toxins, and have been on the market for 50 years.

"This was done to fool smokers and the public health community into thinking that they actually were safer," Dr. Peter Shields, deputy director of the OSUCCC-James and a lung medical oncologist, said in a press release. "Our data suggests a clear relationship between the addition of ventilation holes in cigarettes and increasing rates of lung adenocarcinoma seen over the past 20 years. What is especially concerning is that these holes are still added to virtually all cigarettes that are smoked today."




"To be in the company of a tortoise is to be reminded — instantly, inarticulably — of the oldness of the world and the newness of us (humans, specifically, but also mammals in general). Nature has created thousands of creatures, but most of us have been redrawn over the millenniums: Our heads have grown larger, our teeth smaller, our legs longer, our jaws weaker. But tortoises, some varieties of which are 300 million years old, older than the dinosaurs, are a rough draft that was never refined, because they never needed to be. They are proof of nature’s genius and of our own imperfection, our fragility and brevity in a world that existed long before us and will exist long after we’re gone. They are older than we are in all ways, as a tribe and as individuals — they can live 150 years (and can grow to be 200 pounds). As such, you cannot help feeling a sort of humility around them: They may be slow and ungainly and lumpily fashioned, but they are, in their durability and unchangeability, perfect in a way we aren’t. It is all this that makes them unique and unsettling animals to live with, for to be around them is to be reminded, incessantly, of our own vulnerability — and our own imminent deaths."






If you are looking for him to preach about the current state of the union, don’t hold your breath. The closest Norm Macdonald comes to talking about politics is when he says, “It’s raining in the forest.” It probably means he doesn’t like getting political onstage. And that’s fine because he is his audience.

“It’s just kinda aimed at myself,” he says of the material. “If you try to write something that is aimed at somebody, it ends up bad. Maybe some people can do it, I don’t know. But it’s mostly just stuff I see that makes me laugh. I see something and I think it’s funny and I’m a person so… maybe other people will think it’s funny too.”








Many centuries ago, Aristotle described three key features of humans – we are driven to make meaning in our lives; we are able to self-reflect and self-evaluate our progress in life; and we are highly social creatures who seek relationships with others – whether these are platonic, erotic, or familial. Most of us are not content to go it alone in life for too long.

Another interesting insight that Aristotle emphasized was that to be truly happy in life, we must have healthy intimate relationships – we are only able to flourish if there are others in our lives for and about whom we care. It is not enough simply to know the faces or the names of your neighbors, baristas, or colleagues! We must endeavor to connect and bond with others; intimate relationships are the glue that often keeps us – or our worlds – from falling apart.



  • In 2014, a study reported that overweight and obese people who drank diet sodas ate between 90 and 200 more calories of food per day than those who drank regular sodas.
  • Also in 2014, a review of several studies, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, revealed that people who drink diet sodas raise their risk of type 2 diabetes by about 13% for each 12-ounce can they drink each day.
  • A 2015 BMJ review of studies also found that a single daily serving of diet soda boosted the chance of diabetes by 8%.
  • A 2012 study found that daily drinkers of diet soda who were, on average, 69 years old had a 43% higher chance of heart attack, stroke or dying as a result of blood vessel problems.
  • Israeli researchers who studied 381 adults without diabetes showed that diet soda drinkers had many things that raised their odds of having type 2 diabetes, including higher weight and belly fat, higher levels of blood sugars, and more glucose intolerance. Their 2014 study suggested a cause: Artificial sweeteners affected gut bacteria, which in turn affected metabolism. But that connection was only noted in mice.



These three friends - Jeff Smith of Beaufort, S.C. (left), Hal Kuehl of Cape Coral, Fla. (center) and Peter Wilfert of Coconut Creek, Fla. (right) - recreated a pose from a photo they took in 1966 on Cape Cod, Mass., reuniting in Cape Coral to swap stories and rekindle their friendship.

“We’ve gone through life’s ups and downs, divorces and marriages, successes and failures, but all and all we came through it pretty well,” said Wilfert. “None of us are dead.”

“After that reunion, I was kind of saddened and disappointed that we hadn’t kept in touch better over the years,” Smith said. What other advice would Smith extend to those tan young men in the first photo?

“We might all three of us say the same thing: Don’t marry your first wife.”



The best anti-depressant is gratitude.
The most robust system depends on diversity.
The most stable relationships are open to change.
The most effective law enforcement is positive reinforcement.
The highest level of an individual can achieve is collaborative.
The best institutions foster loyalty by allowing self-expression.
The best abortion prevention is better access to birth control.
The best way to maximize yield is to attract more pollinators.
The most pragmatic path may be the most uncertain one.
The strongest outward principles come from within.



MLK Jr: "Life is a series of shattered dreams."
Gandhi: "Satan's successes are the greatest when he appears with the name of God on his lips."
Ram Dass: "And your lives, our lives, are grist for the mill."
L. Ron Hubbard: "The urge of the moment can become the sorrow of a lifetime."
Max More (on Mother Nature): "You compel us to age and die—just as we’re beginning to attain wisdom."
Og Mandino: "I love the light for it shows me the way, yet I love the darkness because it shows me the stars."
Aldous Huxley: “The trouble with fiction… is that it makes too much sense. Reality never makes sense.”
disturing 9/11 facts: "“It’s easier to deceive the masses, than get them to believe they’ve been deceived.”
W.H. Auden: “Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.”
Amy Bruckheimer on Veep: "What do the experts know anyway?"
Physicist Neil Turok: "The universe turns out to be the simplest thing we know... the whole thing, is the simplest thing, isn't that amazing..."



Snopes.com investigation: "...when someone attempted to fact check the fact checker, the response was the equivalent of “it's secret.”

"Capitalist America: Where people laboring for shit pay are the freeloaders and people coasting on intergenerational wealth are job creators"

"People with poor self-control, feelings of loneliness and depression are more likely to binge-watch television on a regular basis. The kicker? Watching that much television also gives people those symptoms."

"Humans are weird creatures, aren’t they? You’d figure they’d want to hear the truth so they can act accordingly and pull themselves out of their misery. But they prefer to be seduced, even though the picture you paint for them is highly unlikely to become reality."

Recess is first thing to be cut from school time when testing, yet exercise is best for new neurons and retaining information. Jobs minimize lunch and break times, yet those moments are needed for best brain function and focus (Pomodoro method).

In: Steroids in Baseball. Out: Kids who look up to major league players and get inspired.

The emotions of love and hate are triggered by the same chemical in the brain.

"Endorphins are at the highest levels in married couples immediately after one spouse leaves the house for work."

"President Bush got the world's attention this fall when he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran might lead to World War III. But his stark warning came at least a month or two after he had first been told about fresh indications that Iran had actually halted its nuclear weapons program."

"Despite the increased focus on accuracy in the media, the number of fact checkers employed at major U.S. newspapers has declined 62 percent since 1999."

"Media outlets trade on their history, but they don’t resemble their past selves in any meaningful way."

"My father never talked much about his parents or relatives. I never thought about asking questions."



no experience and you are surprised by everything
too much experience and you aren't surprised by anything
the brain itself is activated based on instinctual and often irrational responses to stimuli
fake it 'til you make it
'get busy living, or get busy dying'
fighting fire with fire
One man's trash is another man's treasure
One man's pain is another man's pleasure
the more you think the harder it gets to do
workin for the weekend
the more you learn the less you know
"too much of a good thing" (Serotonin syndrome)
Trump: "believe me"
practical joke
the only constant is change
all GHGs aren't bad, we need carbon balance
"politically correct"
educated guess
common sense
expect the best, prepare for the worst
everyone lives with doubts, fears
feelings/thoughts -> behavior/action
you will love, and hurt someone
"in God we trust"
truth is stranger than fiction
more things change, more they seem the same
the courage to be vulnerable
voting machines: negative votes
"broken promise in the promised land"
"the bigger the better"
conventional wisdom
plans change
infinity pool
mud bath
tragic hero
secret to success (failure)
emotional intelligence
pure science is art
pure art is science
church and state
sense of self/without ego
best debaters take both sides
smoking cigarettes to get a break
small talk in office to pass time
stadium waste
bathroom anti-handwashers
invisible hand
revolving door
free trade
decline of organized labor
private equity
silicon valley
false idols
maintaining the status quo (really means protecting it!)
welfare for the rich
entitlements
deregulation
"the ruling class"
Crony Capitalism
tea party (run for government, be against government?)
identity politics ('convenient Boogeyman')
nation building
world police
Big Ed (student debt)/Big Finance (wall st.)
Big Pharma/Big Ag (health care)
kick up dust trying to vaccuum
conservatives want financial deregulation and social fascism
liberals want financial regulation and social freedom
people want a quick-acting government, only available to our "enemies" without democracy

Military bases in desert are developing solar panel parking lots, microgrids, and water re-use; though the war is for homeland oil
Society treats art like science (asking questions, forming hypotheses, analyzing results), and treats science as art (opinion, feeling).
Best way to focus on goals: "Quality thought is always aligned with non goal-directed thought and prayer." (Eckankar, The Call of Soul)
Deregulation/libertarian principles: “tyranny by unaccountable private concentrations of wealth” (Noam Chomsky)
Kanye started with his jaw wired shut, continues to push hip-hop's boundaries using the human voice (Vox)
Heuristics: a rule of thumb, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, stereotyping, profiling, or common sense (wiki)
Congresspeople don't run the country (they definitely don't read the bills); their staff runs the trains (Jack Abramoff)
Nihilism is not really a cause of fear, but emboldening; "your days are numbered, so get busy with what you want to do" (veritasium)
near miss, plastic glass, flammable/inflammable, nylon rubber, business ethics, military intelligence (george carlin)



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