Dewayne notes a Charlie Stross post noting a few political axioms relevant to the present.. Agree or disagree there is fodder for thought and discussion
We're living in an era of increasing automation. And it's trivially clear that the adoption of automation privileges capital over labour (because capital can be substituted for labour, and the profit from its deployment thereby accrues to capital rather than being shared evenly across society).
A side-effect of the rise of capital is the financialization of everything—capital flows towards profit centres and if there aren't enough of them profits accrue to whoever can invent some more (even if the products or the items they're guaranteed against are essentially imaginary: futures, derivatives, CDOs, student loans).
Since the collapse of the USSR and the rise of post-Tiananmen China it has become glaringly obvious that capitalism does not require democracy. Or even benefit from it. Capitalism as a system may well work best in the absence of democracy.
The iron law of bureaucracy states that for all organizations, most of their activity will be devoted to the perpetuation of the organization, not to the pursuit of its ostensible objective. (This emerges organically from the needs of the organization's employees.)
Governments are organizations.
We observe the increasing militarization of police forces and the priviliging of intelligence agencies all around the world. And in the media, a permanent drumbeat of fear, doubt and paranoia directed at "terrorists" (a paper tiger threat that kills fewer than 0.1% of the number who die in road traffic accidents).
Political legitimacy in a democracy is a finite resource, so supplies are constrained.
The purpose of democracy is to provide a formal mechanism for transfer of power without violence, when the faction in power has lost legitimacy.
Our mechanisms for democratic power transfer date to the 18th century. They are inherently slower to respond to change than the internet and our contemporary news media.
A side-effect of (7) is the financialization of government services (2).
Security services are obeying the iron law of bureaucracy (4) when they metastasize, citing terrorism (6) as a justification for their expansion.
The expansion of the security state is seen as desirable by the government not because of the terrorist threat (which is largely manufactured) but because of (11): the legitimacy of government (9) is becoming increasingly hard to assert in the context of (2), (12) is broadly unpopular with the electorate, but (3) means that the interests of the public (labour) are ignored by states increasingly dominated by capital (because of (1)) unless there's a threat of civil disorder. So states are tooling up for large-scale civil unrest.
The term "failed state" carries a freight of implicit baggage: failed at what, exactly? The unspoken implication is, "failed to conform to the requirements of global capital" (not democracy—see (3)) by failing to adequately facilitate (2).
I submit that a real failed state is one that does not serve the best interests of its citizens (insofar as those best interests do not lead to direct conflict with other states).
In future, inter-state pressure may be brought to bear on states that fail to meet the criteria in (15) even when they are not failed states by the standard of point (16). See also: Greece.
As human beings, our role in this picture is as units of Labour (unless we're eye-wateringly rich, and thereby rare).
So, going by (17) and (18), we're on the receiving end of a war fought for control of our societies by opposing forces that are increasingly more powerful than we are.
Some have been lamenting the failure of Radio Shack wondering how hobbyists will be supported. Radio Shack hasn't been terribly useful in about twenty years and even then it was inferior to mail the mail order firms of the 60s and before. These days there is a rich source of parts and ideas online. A good deal of hobbyist work now use small, but capable computers, that you can build into projects.
Not many people build things, but we're in a second golden age.
In February 1935, a pilot from the flight research establishment Farnborough, was told to fly a bomber to the Midlands and back. He was not told why, but the course took the aircraft past the BBC’s short-wave transmitter at Daventry.
Hunched in a van on the ground nearby, Robert Watson-Watt from the National Physical Laboratory and his colleague, Arnold Wilkins, intently watched a cathode ray tube on a cumbersome radio receiver. They hoped that the powerful BBC signal would be reflected strongly enough from the bomber to be detected. As the aircraft flew past about eight miles away, a green spot on the screen appeared, grew, and shrank away again.
The two men had ‘seen’ the aircraft by its electronic echo. Watson-Watt turned to Wilkins and reputedly said ‘Britain is an island once more’. Following this trial – the Daventry experiment – cash secretly began to pour into developing radar technology. Research took off at immense speed, first at Orfordness in Suffolk and then nearby at Bawdsey on the mouth of the Deben river. Just a year after the first trial, the detection range had improved to 75 miles and 120 miles was later achieved.
As global warming-related sea level rise continues, these smaller-scale sea level fluctuations are likely to be more frequent and damaging, climate scientists told Mashable. "When superimposed on long-term and gradual sea level rise, 2009-10 type extreme sea level events will pose an even higher coastal flooding risk," said Jianjun Yin, a coauthor of the study and climate researcher at the University of Arizona in Tucson, in an email interview with Mashable.
"Extreme sea level rise events on inter-annual time scales can cause coastal flooding even without apparent weather processes," Yin said.
According to the study, a 30% decrease in the strength of the Gulf Stream during 2009 and 2010, along with an atmospheric pressure pattern in the North Atlantic, caused a temporary increase of about five inches in sea levels along the coast to the north of New York City during the two-year period.
Although a five-inch boost in sea level might sound small, consider that it would constitute nearly 40% of the sea level rise in New York City since 1900.
According to the latest report from the New York City Panel on Climate Change, which was released on Feb. 16, average sea levels in New York have climbed by about 1.2 inches per decade in the city since 1900, for a total of about 1.1 feet. This is considerably faster than the average global rate, which is less than an inch per decade.
Jain and co then created a flavor network in which ingredients are linked if they appear together in the same recipe. The network can then be studied for interesting phenomenon such as clustering effects.
The question that the team set out to answer was to what extent food pairing is positive or negative. In other words, do ingredients sharing flavor compounds occur in the same recipe more often than if the ingredients were chosen at random.
The results make for interesting reading. Jain and co conclude that Indian cuisine is characterized by strong negative food pairing. Not only that, but the strength of this negative correlation is much higher than anything previously reported.
They also found that specific ingredients dramatically effect food pairing. For example, the presence of cayenne pepper strongly biases the flavor sharing pattern of Indian cuisine towards negative pairing. Other ingredients that have a similar effect include green bell pepper, coriander, garam masala, tamarind, ginger, cinnamon and so on.
In other words, spices make the negative food pairing effect more powerful, a phenomenon never seen before. “Our study reveals that spices occupy a unique position in the ingredient composition of Indian cuisine and play a major role in defining its characteristic profile,” say Jain and co.
Spices form the basis of food pairing in Indian cuisine
Anupam Jain (1), Rakhi N K (2), Ganesh Bagler (2) ((1) Centre for System Science, Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur, India, (2) Centre for Biologically Inspired System Science, Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur, India) (Submitted on 12 Feb 2015)
Culinary practices are influenced by climate, culture, history and geography. Molecular composition of recipes in a cuisine reveals patterns in food preferences. Indian cuisine encompasses a number of diverse sub-cuisines separated by geographies, climates and cultures. Its culinary system has a long history of health-centric dietary practices focused on disease prevention and promotion of health. We study food pairing in recipes of Indian cuisine to show that, in contrast to positive food pairing reported in some Western cuisines, Indian cuisine has a strong signature of negative food pairing; more the extent of flavor sharing between any two ingredients, lesser their co-occurrence. This feature is independent of recipe size and is not explained by ingredient category-based recipe constitution alone. Ingredient frequency emerged as the dominant factor specifying the characteristic flavor sharing pattern of the cuisine. Spices, individually and as a category, form the basis of ingredient composition in Indian cuisine. We also present a culinary evolution model which reproduces ingredient use distribution as well as negative food pairing of the cuisine. Our study provides a basis for designing novel signature recipes, healthy recipe alterations and recipe recommender systems.
Between the 8th and 11th century (the Viking Age), Europe saw significant technological advances, not all of them Scandinavian – the Anglo-Saxons, Frisians and Franks were equal players. To understand these changes, we have to see them in the context of increasing contact between Scandinavia, the British Isles, and continental Europe – in which the Vikings were key players. Technological innovations such as the potter’s wheel and the vertical loom transformed not only the types of products being manufactured in Viking settlements, but also the scale on which they were produced.
Technological developments emerged as people came together in growing coastal trading centres and market towns. The world was rapidly becoming more joined-up during this period than at any time since the heyday of the Roman Empire. Trade fostered international links across the North Sea, Baltic and beyond, and similar developments were happening as far afield as the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. This was a period in which people began to live and work in entirely new ways, and technological change was both a cause and an effect of this.
While many Viking artefacts of the period are familiar, the complex methods that lay behind their manufacture are less well-known. Each involved a specialised set of skills, tools and raw materials, which meant craftspeople were reliant not only on a market for sale, but also on a well-organised supply chain. This is why the development of specialist crafts, of growing urbanisation, and of long-distance trade are intimately connected.
Studies of DSDs have shown that sex is no simple dichotomy. But things become even more complex when scientists zoom in to look at individual cells. The common assumption that every cell contains the same set of genes is untrue. Some people have mosaicism: they develop from a single fertilized egg but become a patchwork of cells with different genetic make-ups. This can happen when sex chromosomes are doled out unevenly between dividing cells during early embryonic development. For example, an embryo that starts off as XY can lose a Y chromosome from a subset of its cells. If most cells end up as XY, the result is a physically typical male, but if most cells are X, the result is a female with a condition called Turner's syndrome, which tends to result in restricted height and underdeveloped ovaries. This kind of mosaicism is rare, affecting about 1 in 15,000 people.
The effects of sex-chromosome mosaicism range from the prosaic to the extraordinary. A few cases have been documented in which a mosaic XXY embryo became a mix of two cell types — some with two X chromosomes and some with two Xs and a Y — and then split early in development12. This results in 'identical' twins of different sexes.
There is a second way in which a person can end up with cells of different chromosomal sexes. James's patient was a chimaera: a person who develops from a mixture of two fertilized eggs, usually owing to a merger between embryonic twins in the womb. This kind of chimaerism resulting in a DSD is extremely rare, representing about 1% of all DSD cases.
Another form of chimaerism, however, is now known to be widespread. Termed microchimaerism, it happens when stem cells from a fetus cross the placenta into the mother's body, and vice versa. It was first identified in the early 1970s — but the big surprise came more than two decades later, when researchers discovered how long these crossover cells survive, even though they are foreign tissue that the body should, in theory, reject. A study in 1996 recorded women with fetal cells in their blood as many as 27 years after giving birth13; another found that maternal cells remain in children up to adulthood14. This type of work has further blurred the sex divide, because it means that men often carry cells from their mothers, and women who have been pregnant with a male fetus can carry a smattering of its discarded cells.