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Stayin' Alive 02/18/2020 14:14
To be honest, the U.S. government has done a lot of bad, weird stuff over the decades. , in several respects. MK-ULTRA was a top-secret program in which the CIA gave LSD without consenting to unsuspecting people. The purpose was to see if it could be used for mind control, to extract confessions, or to mess up foreign leaders. Among many fun activities, the CIA actually set up its own brothels, gave the customers LSD, and watched them with the sex workers behind one-way mirrors. (Yes, this is true.) They also gave LSD to one of their own agents, without his knowledge, and he either killed himself or they killed him, presumably to keep him quiet. Also, Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was a subject, although he apparently consented to the exper.
Stayin' Alive 02/15/2020 10:20
I'm not talking about the coronavirus. (For the record, and I may have more to say about this lately, right now I think that situation is being seriously overblown. Hope I'm right.) I'm talking about the death of democracy and the rule of law. , specifically over the Resident's failure to divest from his various businesses. We now just accept that the federal government spends millions of dollars literally every month at properties he owns to rent hotel rooms and buy meals and even golf carts for the Secret Service to follow him around; as do foreign governments and businesses seeking to curry favor. That is literally forbidden by the Constitution but Congress won't do anything about it. But now it's much worse. Having gotten away with tryi.
Stayin' Alive 02/10/2020 09:53
, although the link is to a 1999 reprint. He calls the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture "The worst mistake in the history of the human race." He seems to have a point. Hunter-gatherers were healthier, taller, lived longer and had more leisure time than farmers. In fact life expectancy at birth pretty much throughout the planet fluctuated in a narrow range of around 40-45 years from the dawn of agricultural civilization some 12,000 years ago (and more recently elsewhere of course) until the late 19th Century. And in all that time, the majority of people lived at a bare level of subsistence, although the agricultural revolution did enable priestly and warrior castes to capture surplus and rule over the masses. Hunter-gathe.
Stayin' Alive 02/09/2020 08:41
Leviticus has all of these elaborate (and highly repetitive) instructions delivered to Moses by God while the people are camped out in the desert subsisting on magic cookies that appear overnight. Just sayin'. In reality, of course, these rituals and rules must have developed over time and then were codified in this form. The puzzle is the rationale for all of this. None is offered in the text, it all seems arbitrary. We can see the priests making a substantial profit from the deal, which certainly can explain some of it, but much else is mysterious. Regarding ch. 3, the Revised New Standard Version calls this instructions for a "sacrifice of well being." KJV translates this as a "peace offering," while the New International Version (which
Stayin' Alive 02/07/2020 11:09
Okay, we've run out of arable land and we've probably wrung most of what we're going to get out of the Green Revolution and increased crop yields. As a comment on the last post notes, meanwhile, we're running out of fresh water. Assuming predicted population growth, hotter temperatures, and increased agricultural and industrial demand, here's what's going to happen to fresh water demand in the coming decades:. Is there that much fresh water available? What do you think? All those red areas are going to be running out. As you can see, that includes much of the agricultural land of the US., Europe and the Near and Middle East. Actually the Syrian civil war started because of a prolonged drought that drove people off the land into cities, where.
Stayin' Alive 02/06/2020 10:27
As a friend of the blog asks, will there really be 10 billion humans alive in 2050? Well, maybe not. First of all, can we feed that many people? Right now 50% of the habitable surface area of the earth is dedicated to agriculture. There is no way we can afford to cut down any more forest, which will just accelerate climate change -- but we're doing it anyway. Nevertheless, there's hardly any room left. Actually, we would have run out of food a long time ago, except for a development called the Green Revolution, which greatly increased crop yields using technology. Unfortunately a big part of that technology is based on fossil fuels, for making nitrogen fertilizer, traction and so on. Blogger won't let me show you any more graphics today, so.
Stayin' Alive 02/05/2020 12:04
It's too soon to know for sure how the tale of the novel coronavirus will play out, . A stipulation in both of the scenarios at the linked essay is that yeah, it gets loose into the wild and eventually can show up anywhere in the world. I think that's pretty much definitely going to happen if it hasn't already. Scenario number 1, and most likely, in my view, it will just be one more virus that causes what amounts to a common cold and in a few people who are otherwise debilitated goes on to be complicated by pneumonia. In that case, for a year or two it will circulate as a novel virus to which no-one is immune and there will be a fairly high incidence -- although most people who are exposed will have no symptoms, or very mild symptoms. Then
Stayin' Alive 02/03/2020 09:28
I'm afraid I must reiterate that anonymous comments will not be published. I don't care if you have the wisdom of Socrates and the eloquence of Shakespeare. That's the policy. Pick a handle and stick to it.
Stayin' Alive 02/02/2020 08:04
I warned you that Leviticus is not exactly your hot beach read. What is going on here, with all of these elaborate instructions for preparing offerings? Well, obviously, we're feeding the priests. God loves to smell burned food, but most of the food doesn't get burned, it gets eaten -- just not by the farmers who produced it. The main point of Leviticus is to establish and justify the parasitism of the priestly caste. BTW Leviticus 2 in KJV is very confusing because it uses the term "meat" for these offerings, which evidently consist of grain. I presume that the Revised Standard Version, which we have here, is more accurate. 2. When anyone presents a grain offering to the. Lord. , the offering shall be of choice flour; the worshiper shall pour.
Stayin' Alive 02/01/2020 09:09
As I have said, it's not clear yet how serious the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak really is, because we don't yet know what percentage of the time it causes serious illness. Maybe the Chinese have overreacted by their draconian isolation measures, on the other hand as I have said I wouldn't want to be the guy who made the decision to react too conservatively. That said, if we do get a serious epidemic here, of that particular virus or anything else, we are screwed, lassoed and tattooed. It’s impossible to watch [the Chinese] without wondering, “What would we do? How would my government respond if this virus spread across my country?” For the United States, the answers are especially worrying because the government has intentionally rendered its.
Stayin' Alive 01/30/2020 15:03
Proposed headline: "Rapist who played a children's game for a living dies flying a fucking helicopter to his daughter's basketball game." Think about this. Routinely getting around town in a helicopter is absurdly self-indulgent and environmentally irresponsible, , because you know, a WaPo reporter got suspended for linking to a perfectly legitimate news article about the time Kobe Bryant raped a 19 year old hotel clerk. The helicopter Bryant was riding in costs about $5,000 an hour, so let's say he spends 2 hours at the basketball game, we're talking $20,000. Can you think of anything else to do with $20,000? And could an unemployed guy find the time to spend an hour driving each way in a minivan instead? Maybe. . Golfer Payne Stewart died.
Stayin' Alive 01/29/2020 13:36
I've said before that in the view of many, there are three profound questions that pose a fundamental challenge to scientific inference. I think that only two of them really count however. The first I discussed last time. We've been able to deduce approximately when the universe came into existence and how it as evolved since then. But it is no apparent what path of scientific inquiry could explain why that happened when it did (if "when" even means anything before there was time), and why it has the observed laws and physical parameters, To put the problem in an epistemological nutshell, the answer to these questions must lie outside the universe, and by definition the universe consists of what we can directly observe or deduce from observ.
Stayin' Alive 01/27/2020 09:13
For most of our maybe 250,000 years as a species, people were aware only of their local environment. Eventually, as trade networks grew, they started to gain a dim awareness of distant lands, and by the time of classical Greece they knew that the earth is roughly spherical, although they were largely unaware of what lay beyond the Middle East and the steppes of Asia. (Alexander of course expanded their knowledge and drew the central Asian empires into the orbit of Greece.) But it was not until Galileo's time, in the late Middle Ages, that some people began to believe that the earth was not at the center of the universe. Nevertheless, even if the earth does orbit the sun, people continued to believe that the universe was purposely designed t.
Stayin' Alive 01/26/2020 08:14
The Skeptics Annotated Bible introduction to Leviticus begins, "I wouldn't read Leviticus if I were you. No one else does." That's probably good advice, but we're committed to this project so off we go. One of the key reasons I'm doing this is to prove that people who claim that the Bible is the literal, inerrant word of God a) must have a very low opinion of God and b) don't pay any attention to 99% of what he says. Leviticus begins with detailed, specific instructions for dismembering and burning animals. And that is a good percentage of the entire book, actually, along with several other categories of bizarre instructions. Orthodox Jews nowadays pay attention to an item here and there, as do fundamentalist Christians, but they ignore mos.
Stayin' Alive 01/25/2020 11:41
By now you probably know that s, shutting down all transportation services from the city. They have also started building hospitals to quarantine infected people. , and offering to evacuate other Americans who want to leave China. No doubt similar measures will be taken elsewhere in China and in other countries where the virus appears. The economic cost of these measures will be at least many tens of billions of dollars, probably in the hundreds of billions. And of course isolation and quarantine have public health costs of their own, and may cause death and disease themselves. So should we all panic? If they are taking such extreme and costly measures this must be a really dangerous situation, right? Well, I dunno about that. As the latest.
Stayin' Alive 01/24/2020 10:46
. That's a pretty stiff sentence, right? Well let's see now. What did he do exactly? His company sold fentanyl under the brand name Subsys. As you probably know, fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid that is responsible for a high percentage of the overdose deaths in the current epidemic of opioid addiction. As a prescription drug, it was approved by the FDA only for so-called breakthrough pain in cancer patients. But Insys literally bribed doctors to prescribe it inappropriately, resulting in 8,000 known deaths and countless more ruined lives. I ask you to consider the comparable case of an organized crime leader who distributed the precise same substance to street dealers, with similar consequences. What sentence do you think.
Stayin' Alive 01/22/2020 12:46
Yes. However, very probably not because of the novel coronavirus that has appeared in China. This seems to be front page headlines in every media outlet on the planet, and the World Health Organization has convened a meeting to decide whether to declare an official Global Health Emergency. This sort of flapdoodle happens every time a novel pathogen appears. Back when I lived in the Hub of the Universe a mosquito-borne disease called West Nile virus appeared (having formerly been large confined to, yes, west of the Nile). For weeks, every time a new case was identified it would be on the front page of the Boston Globe. The Commissioner of Public Health sprayed Boston's residential neighborhoods with insecticide, killing of course every arthr.
Stayin' Alive 01/21/2020 09:53
I'm going to step away from current events for a bit -- okay, I might intersperse a post on something exigent -- and contemplate the nature of the historic epoch in which we find ourselves. I'll begin with the most basic history of Homo sapiens. Paleontologists use the abbreviation Kya for "thousand years ago." So, our species emerged in southern Africa maybe 200 Kya or slightly more. We can't be sure because we might not have found fossils of the oldest of our kind and we also can't be sure if the earliest anatomically modern humans were also behaviorally modern, the most important question obviously being language. Actually around 200Kya there were multiple populations in Africa that appeared very similar to modern humans. Were they reall.
Stayin' Alive 01/19/2020 11:02
I am continually amused by the claims of Trumpistas that the U.S. is experiencing an economic resurgence and utopia, for which of course the vulgarian in chief deserves all the credit. Joseph Stiglitz, who unlike them and me has won a Nobel Memorial Prize in economics (it's not a real Nobel prize, economists added it later because they wanted one too) This is a fairly dense essay which it's difficult to summarize without quoting, but I'll try. Meanwhile one pull quote:. Two years ago, a few rare corporate leaders were concerned about climate change, or upset at Trump’s misogyny and bigotry. Most, however, were celebrating the president’s tax cuts for billionaires and corporations and looking forward to his efforts to deregulate the economy.
Stayin' Alive 01/19/2020 08:36
We've finally come to the end of the incredibly long, detailed, multiply repetitious tale of the tabernacle. This obviously seemed very important to the people who wrote it down (and wrote it down, and wrote it down . . . .) but it is not at all obvious why. In the final chapter it gets switched on, as it were. While this is said to happen on the first day of the first month, we don't know immediately when that actually is. The Jewish calendar has multiple "first months" for different purposes. Nisan is the first month of the ecclesiastical calendar, from which the dates of festivals are counted. Passover is on 15 Nisan. Tishrei, the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year, is the civil new year, Rosh Hashana. Later in the chapter, however.

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