vendredi 28 février 2014

Sarah Palin: I told you so!

In the credit where credit is due department: Sarah Palin was widely mocked in 2008 for her foreign policy comments on Russia, including her prediction that Russia might someday invade Ukraine. Remember the joke that she could see Russia from her house?

Well played, Sarah Palin. Well played.

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Can't Find This Atheist Cartoon

Don't know if you can help. A while ago, I saw an Atheist cartoon on You Tube.

It was funny, but as I remember, not too mean spirited. More slanted towards promoting the good parts of being atheist, rather than beating up on the believers.

I only remember two lines. "Sunday can be Fun Day" and "Be a good person because you are one". Anybody know the title?

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Question on the effect of an explosion on nitric acid

I read some years ago that during the revolution of 1848 desperate artillery men in Hungary loaded cannons with crockery loaded with nitric acid, aqua regia and other un-usual compounds but the 19th century source did not speak of its effectiveness. In particular wouldn't the black powder charge used in the cannons of that era have 'destroyed' the nitric acid? Or ....put another way what effect would that order of explosion have on concentrated acid?


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Movie "Non-Stop" makes right wingers' heads explode {SPOILERS!}

Well, Glen Beck at least:


Is this the worst movie ever?

So there's a terrorist on a plane and turns out

He's an ex-ranger who loves the constitution!

Oh the humanity!

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Ken Cuccinelli selling Zimmerman Insurance

Demonstrating that there's always a new way to fleece people, former Virginia AG and Gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli wants to sell you insurance for when you shoot an unarmed black kid.


A legal retainer with Virginia Self Defense Law costs as little as $8.33 a month — less than half the cost of a hunting license,” the firm’s Web site says. “Don’t be a victim! Don’t let these realities become your family’s fiscal nightmare!”

The firm’s Web site links to news stories about cases in which gun owners were charged with crimes, under headlines such as “Man arrested in front of his son for ‘rudely displaying weapon’ ” and “Burglar’s family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit.” One of the stories featured is about the legal bills racked up by George Zimmerman, the Florida man acquitted in July in the shooting death of an unarmed teenager.

Now, something tells me that if you're a gun owner and you're so concerned about what will happen to you once you kill an unarmed black kid that you're willing to buy insurance to cover your legal bills when it happens, then maybe - and I'm just spitballing here - you shouldn't have guns?

Ha, just kidding.

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is an ipad mini the device to use as a mobile hotspot?

I am thinking of buying an ipad mini so I can play old apple games like bards take and the dungeon. I also like the idea of having a mobile hotspot when I need it. Would the Ipad mini be the mobile computer to buy or should I get an android or surface. The main thing I want it for it the hotspot.

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Kent Hovind sues Rationalwiki.

So everyone's favourite tax evading felon, young Earth creationist, doctoral faker and failed dinosaur amusement park owner had decided to object to being described as a "convicted tax fraudster" (despite being convicted of 58 charges relating to tax evasion and currently being in prison) and of engaging in filing of fraudulent liens against property seized by the US government to pay his outstanding debts (despite doing just this on conjunction with Alex Matthews [another convicted fraudster] and facing additional charges for so doing).

This should end well. Hopefully in additional to the fresh contempt of court charges Hovind if facing this nonsense should help keep him in jail beyond 2015.

"Dr" Dino's complaint.

The offending RW article on "Dr" Dino..

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Best movie oscars - which is really best?

This is the complete list of best movies ranked in order of merit by somebody. I counted up and find I have seen 55 of 85. Can anyone do better? (I know the answer, don't worry).

My no 1 would be Schindler's list. A film that can make me cry. Not the only one in the list but a great film in my (very) humble opinion.

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He's dead Jim...whoops my bad (Walter Williams story)

Can you imagine being the ones who see the body bag kick? I think you could've then used it on me as I'd have a heart attack right there:

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demons in the machine.

Has anybody ever watched a movie only to have one of the characters stop what they are doing and move in to stare at you for 10 minutes. I tell you they is demons. let me go find the movie. I found one like it on Netflix but its a different movie. You can check it for demons if you like though. I did notice singing. This movie movie is called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

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Harrits february 28th online chat

To day Niels Harrit participated for two hours in an online chat. Everybody could ask questions and get an answer.

Expect for dodging a few questions, he actually made some interesting comments.

This is a resume of some of the questions and answers, many translated from Danish:

When asked about The “squibs” seen in a picture of one of the WTC towers:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

It is a clear-cut evidence of the use of explosives.

His oppinion on the new Freedom tower:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

Actually, I do not know. But the requirements for towers in the building code has not been changed, so it must be built according to the same security requirements as the old building 7 in 1987.

Later, when he was told that New York changed the code in 2004:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

Because it does not contain any new structural requirements for the actual construction.

When asked if 9/11 is main income:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

Ha. It costs money to travel around and give lectures. If you have a suggestion for how you could make money on this, I would like to find out.

Asked if his thermite find could generate enough heat to melt steel:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

There was no molten steel at Ground Zero - or at most very little.

And later:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

No, I have never claimed that the steel melted. It was cut by thermite and explosives.

When asked if the collapses were to fast to be normal:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

I assure you, everything which happened on Ground Zero was in agreement with the laws of nature.

Asked if peer-review means that the hypotheses presented is the truth:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

No. There is no truth in science. Only today's best hypothesis.

When asked again about the speed and the possibility of collapse due to airliner crash and fire:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

But the towers did not collapse due to the impact of the airliners. There is some misunderstanding here.

When asked if he found paint in the dust or only thermite:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

There are many other red particles of dust from the WTC. But they are not attracted by a magnet.

When asked if it is the gray or the red side that atracts by a magnet:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

We do not know. The gray side is an iron oxide. This is probably superparamagnetism.

When asked how much thermite and how it was placed in WTC:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

I do not know. But a lot. In terms of access to the towers, as applied to the well to be good friends with the concierge.

When asked if the chips he found would burn hot enough to melt steel:


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

It cannot be answered when you only react one chip at a time.

What do you think happened at the Pentagon?


Originally Posted by Niels Harrit

There was no Boeing 757 at the Pentagon.

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Egyptian army invents "gaydar" divining rod


CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's military leaders have come under ridicule after the chief army engineer unveiled what he described as a "miraculous" set of devices that detect and cure AIDS, hepatitis and other viruses.


Professor Massimo Pinzani, a liver specialist and director of the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London, said he attended a demonstration of the C-Fast device during a visit to Egypt but "was not given convincing explanations about the technology" and wasn't allowed to try it for himself.


"I hope that the invention turns out to be true but I don't have confidence this is the case," said 35-year-old taxi driver Ahmed Morad. "I don't believe anyone ... everything is very confusing. It is like a salad."

I love the taxi driver's quotation! The photos in the article show what is presumably the C-FAST device. It looks like a diving rod to me and not that different from the quack device Iraqis spent millions on to detect IEDs at checkpoints.

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Why I think the 401(k) system is a scam

I've been helping a friend with his 401(k) for the past several years. He works at a a startup that had a very nice selection of funds, and has contributed the maximum for the past 7 or 8 years.

Well, a fast talking salesman from a finance company smelled profit and moved in for the kill. He convinced the office manager, who is a nice guy but not much into finance, to move the 401(k)s to a different plan. The finance company will handle a few chores that were previously performed by the office manager, so good for him. He was also sold on the performance of the funds with charts with improper benchmarks, cherry-picked outperforming active funds, etc.

So a quick announcement goes out only two weeks before the transfer, requesting employees to choose new investment selections. I looked through them, and they are all with very high fees. I am looking into it, but do not think my friend has too many options as he will be staying at the company for the next five years or so.

I would imagine this happens a lot, since the incentives are much stronger for those charging higher fees to sell their plans to HR managers, etc.

It seems it would be much better to allow employees to self direct their 401(k) investment choices, more in line with an IRA. The employer could suggest or choose a default at most.


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Noah's Ark Project in Kentucky to Move On...

This is so embarrassing. Makes me feel like moving to another state.

Noah's Ark project to move on

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Arrogant, Rich GOP writes off poor soldiers - again

Once again it becomes obvious how much the GOP cares about the soldiers. If there isn't a clearer evidence of privilege, and how they regard the lower classes as disposable, then one isn't looking.

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Objective Reality or Subjective Reality?

I'm currently in a debate with someone about the nature of reality. The other party, [redacted], believes the nature of reality is entirely subjective. Of course they also believe that psi exists in quantum physics and there's an all pervasive power called Param Chaitanya which is supported by the unified field theory.

My stance is that reality is entirely objective and that it is only our individual experiences that are subjective.

The entire navel gazing debate is entirely off topic to the actual topic at hand, [redacted], so I thought I would put a thread here on a more level headed forum to get the thoughts of the many smart and learned posters here.

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jeudi 27 février 2014

The Official Florida Man Thread

Because Jref needs a thread dedicated to the superhero that Florida deserves, not the one it needs.

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Al Sharpton channels Garrett Morris...

It was here or humor... Here seemed like a better fit by the tiniest of margins. :D

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the JREF. The JREF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.

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SCUBA Diving

Hello all!

Soon I may be learning SCUBA diving in order to do my job, therefore can anyone at JREF reccomend some books, videos, or other such things so that I can learn a few of the basics before starting the class?

Thanks much in advance.

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Rule 34, meet Kafka

GCHQ (that's British equivalent of NSA) has been monitoring video traffic on Yahoo. Which apparently made GCHQ agents unwillingly run afoul of British child pornography laws.

You can't make this stuff up.

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Egypt AIDS cure?


"I defeated AIDS with the grace of my God at the rate of 100% . And I defeated hepatitis C," said Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Abdel-Atti, head of the Cancer Treatment and Screening center.

The so-called "Complete Cure Device" draws blood from a patient, breaks down the disease and returns the purified blood back to the body, according to Dr. Ihsan Hanfy Hussein, a member of Abdel-Atti's research team.

Good grief! Good for those standing up for common sense though.


Scathing criticism erupted shortly after the announcement Sunday.

Medical researchers led the condemnation, expressing concerns that the announcement would further damage the nation's image.

"I want to be clear and explicit, what has been said and published about the invention of the armed forces hurts the image of scientists and science in Egypt," Essam Heggy, the scientific adviser to the President, told the private Al Watan newspaper Tuesday.

He called the declaration a "scientific scandal" for the nation.


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Man kills himself with gun during demonstration on gun safety

Man Accidentally Kills Self With Gun During Demonstration On Gun Safety


The 36-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was showing his girlfriend how his three handguns are safe when they aren’t loaded, according to the Detroit Free Press. He was attempting to demonstrate the safety of the handguns by holding them to his head and pulling the trigger.


Three children ages 7, 10, and 12 were in the home, but did not witness the shooting, according to reports. The man's girlfriend told authorities he had been drinking most of the day before the incident took place.

Ah, yes. Good, responsible gun owners making the world safer.

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Frontline: Secrets of the Vatican

Frontline this week had an excellent expose on the Vatican - Secrets of the Vatican ( I'm wondering what other thought. I think for

me one of the takeaways was how much control the Vatican Curia exercised despite the Pope technically being an absolute monarch. Overall, it really provides a glimpse

into the greed and power of he Catholic church. The portion on the sex scandals in the Milwaukee Archdiocese is particularly damning. The victims not only endured the horror of the abuse but it sounds like the catholic church continues avoid any and all responsibility and operates in a vein to protect its assets. Most of this is not surprising to me. I grew up in an ultra Catholic family (although I'm feeling much better now thank you ;) ).

I know my family members who are still ultra catholic would just dismiss the whole show as "sensationalism" if they bothered to watch.

Do you think the Catholic church is even capable of changing? (I do not think so)

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Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet Is Unique

I was reading another thread about exoplanets, and several posters made comments suggesting that there was almost certainly other intelligent life in the Universe.

Although I haven't researched it much, I always thought this was the general consensus amongst the scientifically minded. Reasoning provided by something like the Copernican principle and the Drake equation, and variations thereof.

I recently finished reading "Galaxies: a very short introduction" by John Gribbin. It was an excellent read, one of the better of the 50 or so popular science books I've read in the past couple years.

I looked online to see what other books he has written, and came across the book in the thread title:

Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet Is Unique.

I haven't read the book, only the Amazon reviews :) - but it got me wondering about my previous confidence in the likelihood of extraterrestrial intelligent life.

I'd love to hear from some of the more scientifically edumacated on the state of current thinking on this from within the scientific community.

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The Arizona "anti-gay" bill - if passed, how would it have affected employer rights?

I was just debating the topic online with an American friend, and was left puzzled by a couple of things. I trust that there are forum members versed enough in the general state / federal employment laws to answer these questions:

1) If the bill had been passed, could an employee of a company have had the right to refuse service based on religious convictions regardless of company policy?

2) Would an employer have had the right to deny employment if they either believed the applicant's religious views to be a future problem, or (if allowed to ask) the applicant readily admitted this?

3) Does an employer have this explicit right currently?

Personally I would be indifferent on the issue, but I've become inclined to supporting the bill, based on the stories of harassment business owners have endured after denying service to gay marriage events. I believe that in a free market a bigoted business owner is likely to lose customers to a more tolerant competitor, leading to a natural equilibrium.

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Market forecasters: worse than coin flip

From Rick Ferri, a sensible investment advisor and Boglehead.


The results are in and they are bad. After tracking 68 experts and 6,582 market forecasts, CXO Advisory Group has concluded that the average market prediction offered by experts has been below 50% accuracy. Flip a coin and your odds for predicting the market are better.

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Netanyahu plays cheeky trick on Merkel

Oh no!

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mercredi 26 février 2014

Youtube problem

I was wondering if anyone else has experienced the same problem with Youtube.

I use Internet Explorer 8.

I used to use Google Chrome, but the sound quality deteriorated, as if there were too many applications running at the same time.

About a week ago, the icon which has the function of ‘enter’, which is immediately after where you type what you want, disappeared, and ever since then, when I try to scroll down to watch a video, the whole video narrows into a horizontal line.

The problem has occurred intermittently before, but usually lasted less than an hour.

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Kepler team nearly doubles the number of known exoplanets

Out of Kepler's 3600 "planet candidates", 715 have been confirmed. And every one of them is in multi-planet system -- 305 of them, to be exact.

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You couldn't make this story up

It involves a man trying to have sex with a cow, while another man filmed.... the cow then getting hit by a car(s?).... and somehow jello.

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The vilest Spam of the year

I just received an email that may very well mark a new low in the deplorable world of spammer ethics. It purports to come from the "Hubbell Funeral Home", with a subject line of "Funeral notice". The message reads:

We would like to express our deepest sorrow for the untimely death of your beloved friend and inform you about the life service celebration that will take place at Hubbell Funeral Home on February 26, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

Please follow this link to get funeral invitation.

Please be there to honor the memory of your friend with her closest people.

Our best wishes and prayers,

Ethan Herring,

Funeral home assistant

The link points to, which I assume is a Dutch site, though the address supplied for the funeral home claims it's in Florida.

This kind of predatory ickiness just makes me want to slap somebody.

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Any Microbiologists out there?

My girlfriend and I are having a heated discussion about a batch of homemade "cultured" butter she just finished.

The process:

To make the butter she combined pasteurized heavy cream with cultured butter milk in a 1 quart container and left it sit out on the counter top for 24 hours. After it is "fermented" (her terminology) she put it in a blender and then refrigerated it for use.

Her Argument:

This is safe, it's exactly how they make cheese and yogurt. This is also how butter was made for many years. We eat fermented products all the time and they are safe. She is going to make a batch of yogurt next week which she says is much the same process only it is held in the oven at 100 degrees.

My Argument:

Having worked in the food service industry in my younger days and going though a number of food safety classes, the idea of actually eating heavy cream and butter milk (or any "wet" food) left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours is a SERIOUS no go. :jaw-dropp

The Question:

She thinks I am crazy and being overly cautious. I think she is nuts. But I would love to try the butter (it looks really good :) ) and I don't really know how they make butter (or yogurt) safely so I might be missing something. Frankly would love to find out I am wrong but it makes me really worried that she is eating this stuff (I call it death butter :D ).

So.... what say you all?

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Skeptical Bigfoot Articles

This may seem like a slightly strange request but I was approached by a BFF staff member and asked if I would like to contribute content to the Skeptic's Corner section of the BFF Virtual Library. There are a meager 5 articles there right now and there has been no new content since Nov 2012.

I have no idea if many members view the content but I do appreciate the offer to refresh the area. Who knows, maybe someone might read it? It certainly cannot hurt. The entries are not open to comment or attack. I would have write access, and other members can read at their leisure.

I sent a brief note to Sharon Hill and she seemed keen to have some of her stuff linked. I will see what her and I can do about getting permission to post entire articles rather than just links. I don't have a lot of experience in posting other people's content like this so I am leery of stepping on toes or breaking copyright laws, etc. So I am going to proceed cautiously.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I find the problem with bigfoot skeptical content is that there is simply not that much of it to be found.


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FBI Had Informant with Personal Contact with UBL

I'll just leave this here:


n a revelation missing from the official investigations of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI placed a human source in direct contact with Osama bin Laden in 1993 and ascertained that the al Qaeda leader was looking to finance terrorist attacks in the United States, according to court testimony in a little-noticed employment dispute case.

The information the FBI gleaned back then was so specific that it helped thwart a terrorist plot against a Masonic lodge in Los Angeles, the court records reviewed by The Washington Times show.

“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Edward J. Curran, a former top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told the court in support of a discrimination lawsuit filed against the bureau by his former agent Bassem Youssef

My favorite line:


“This is just one more of these examples that will go into the conspiracy theorists’ notebooks, who say the authorities are not telling us everything,” Mr. Hoekstra told The Times in an interview last week. “That’s bad for the intelligence community. It’s bad for law enforcement and it’s bad for government.”

What this story does not say is that the FBI had direct knowledge of the attacks of 9/11 in advance.

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Spring thaw of the US economy, 2014

During the Winter in Indiana, the economy is down. Most construction is on hold, there is no farming, and most recreational activities are non-exist. The only exception I know of would be the two ski resorts which of course depend on the cold weather to have snow. Indiana is not like Colorado where it seems like every second or third car has a ski rack on the roof. Most Hoosiers don't ski. Perfect North is located near Cincinnati where it is much more convenient for those residents to cross the border than to drive up to the big Ohio ski resort near Columbus. Perhaps if the second ski resort were near Indianapolis, it would do better, but it is located much farther south at Paoli (because good hills are pretty scarce in Indiana). However, it's actually more convenient to take I-74 and drive to Perfect North from Indianapolis than to go down highway 37 to Paoli. They probably get some traffic from Louisville and Bloomington but it is only convenient from the town of Bedford. We are at the tail end of their season. They don't usually go more than a week into March before temperatures above freezing at night keep them from making snow. This year, they'll pick up an extra week or two.

So, why is a secondary business like a ski resort important? It isn't really. However, the end of the ski season signals the beginning of the major business season. This area has a lot of shipping all across the Great Lakes. There is traffic past Chicago down the Illinois river to St. Louis and along the Ohio up to Pittsburgh. If you check a map, you can see some movement around St. Louis, Chicago, and Cincinnati. There's lots of traffic off the Atlantic coast down around Florida into the gulf and up the Mississippi. But, on the Great Lakes, almost nothing is moving. Lake Erie is shallow so it gets covered with ice every year. Superior, in contrast, usually only has 30% ice coverage. But, not this year. Lake Superior reached 95% ice coverage. Michigan hit 80%, Huron 95%, Erie 96%, and Ontario 32%. They reached 87% total coverage of the Great Lakes which is the most they've had since 1979.

It's already been announced that the St. Lawrence Seaway won't open until March 28. That's about a week later than typical. Early arctic air swooped down and ended the shipping season early last year so there is pent-up demand. The ships would love to be moving right now. But, they can't. The mighty, 3,500 ton Coast Guard ice breaker, Mackinaw (WLBB-30), is in port. BTW, don't get this confused with the retired ice breaker that is now at the maritime museum (WAGB-83) at Mackinaw City. The working ice breaker is anchored at Cheboygan. The 2,000 ton Hollyhock and the 2,200 ton Canadian ship, Griffon, along with the 600 ton Neah Bay are currently hanging around Lake St. Clair. Supposedly, Biscayne Bay is in port at St. Ignace but I haven't seen a radio track from it. You can track these at

You can see a video from channel 2 out of Milwaukee where the Mackinaw broke the freighter, Algosteel, out the ice in the Mackinac Straits a couple weeks ago. wisn news.

They've been talking about having to form convoys on Lake Superior and follow an ice breaker. They might have to form convoys to get through the Mackinac Straits and also to get through Lake Erie. So, the ice is delaying shipping on the Great Lakes this year and presumably is dragging the economy some. It should be interesting to see when they can finally get moving. Does anyone else here have some information about this?

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"Syria: Al-Qaeda's New Home"


YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the JREF. The JREF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.

Three years ago, an uprising against the Assad regime turned into what looked like a straightforward civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels. However, over time, what had started as a largely secular opposition movement began to take on more of a radical Islamist tone, with two al Qaeda offshoots -- the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra -- becoming the dominant forces on the ground across the rebel-held North.

One VICE filmmaker managed to secure unprecedented access to both al-Qaeda factions battling Syria's government forces, despite the risk of journalists being kidnapped. This is a remarkable portrait of the foreign volunteers and local Syrians willing to fight and die to establish a new caliphate on Europe's doorstep.

These kids are getting so brainwashed...

What a choice: A semi-secular (but nonetheless happy to exploit religious division) but murderous authoritarian regime and a fanatically religious opposition. What Syria needs is a faction fighting for a secular and democratic state.

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Today February 26 marks 21st anniversary of WTC bombing

At 12:26PM a truck bomb weighing 1400lbs detonated in parking level B2

of WTC

6 people were killed, over 1000 more injured, most from smoke inhalation

here is link to videoproduced by HBO about the incident


remeber all those who died, both then and on September 11..........

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Are doctors really the third leading cause of death?

While reading a news article on my local news site ( , I came across this inane comment from some guy claiming that doctors are the third leading cause of death, referencing a site here:

Here's the comment:


Doctors are the THIRD LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH in the States.

Killing 250,000 each year, according to the American Medical

Association, and you can bet the rent money if they admit to 250,000

killed, the real figure is a whole lot higher.

Except for surgeons, most MD's are pill pushers pimping for the

pharmaceutical companies and only "treating" symptoms.

They may mean well, but they're trapped in the system.


Pathetic and disgusting.

Where have I heard this argument before, and why does seem so familiar? I didn't go into that link yet because I don't really want to ruin a good morning right now.

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Annapolis Police Chief quotes hoax newsource about marijuana's dangers


Testifying against bills proposed to legalize and decriminalize marijuana in the state, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop cited a hoax story that claimed 37 people had died the first day marijuana was legalized in Colorado.

If you're going to make an argument against something, it's probably a good idea to verify your source. I'm sure the citizens of Maryland are delighted to be paying this guy $148,000/year salary.

~Dr. Imago

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Conference on after-life communications

This will be money well spent:

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Scientists report Beijing is nearly uninhabitable for human beings.

The smog problem in Beijing China just seems to be getting worse.

From the article:

"China’s toxic air pollution resembles nuclear winter, say scientists"

By Jonathan Kaiman:

"Early this month, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences claimed in a report that Beijing’s pollution makes the city almost “uninhabitable for human beings“"

It looks like China is paying a heavy price for its rapid economic growth.

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Tim Lambesis pleads guilty

Unlike Ian Watkins, this guy is going to be completely at the mercy of Bubba for the duration of his sentence.

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Galaxy S5 announced - General Concensus Seems to be 'Meh'.

In summary:

It's a tiny bit bigger than the S4; it's slightly thicker; it's slightly heavier; it looks almost exactly like an S4.

It has a fingerprint scanner (surprise!)

It comes in new colours - including Gold (surprise!)

The '16GB' version ships with actually less than 8GB useable physical storage - so being able to purchase an SD card for additional storage would seem to be less of a 'feature', and more like an absolute necessity:

Samsung are saying that they are "going back to basics" with the S5, which seems to be marketing-speak for "Guys, we've run out of ideas for useless bloatware, and we didn't have time to put a 64-bit processor in this thing".

More details here:

The only thing I find remotely interesting is the improved camera, and the ability to alter the focus of a photo once taken, but given that this has been rumoured to be included in the iPhone 6 for a few months and the iPhone camera is usually one of the best (in terms of image quality) on any device, this wouldn't be enough to persuade me to buy an S5.

The ball is now in the court of the iPhone 6.

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Know a PHP guy looking for work?

You can work remote from Portland Maine butt some visits will be required. You nominate the guy you get $1000 in books.

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The Singularity Hypothesis

Hypothesis: The universe is a result of post-singularity technology.

"The technological singularity, or simply the singularity, is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature.[1] Since the capabilities of such an intelligence may be difficult for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is often seen as an occurrence (akin to a gravitational singularity) beyond which the future course of human history is unpredictable or even unfathomable." --

"The transcension hypothesis proposes that a universal process of evolutionary development guides all sufficiently advanced civilizations into what may be called "inner space," a computationally optimal domain of increasingly dense, productive, miniaturized, and efficient scales of space, time, energy, and matter, and eventually, to a black-hole-like destination." --

The Transcension Hypothesis - What comes after the singularity? --

The difference between the transcension hypothesis and the singularity hypothesis presented here is that the former states:

"If transcension is a universal developmental constraint, then without exception all early and low-power electromagnetic leakage signals (radar, radio, television), and later, optical evidence of the exoplanets and their atmospheres should reliably cease as each civilization enters its own technological singularities (emergence of postbiological intelligence and life forms) and recognizes they are on an optimal and accelerating path to a black-hole-like environment." --

In the singularity hypothesis, civilizations also reach technological singularities, with the difference that those civilizations remain in our universe.

According to the singularity hypothesis our Big Bang is a result of a technological singularity that has happened in our parent universe. This means that our universe entirely consists of post-singularity technology. At the start of our Big Bang, dark matter began replicating through the vacuum energy as subatomic technology.

"Dark matter is a type of matter hypothesized in astronomy and cosmology to account for a large part of the mass that appears to be missing from the universe." --

With everything in our universe being intelligent technology, we should see signs of that, and indeed the following recent results show signs of that:

"The universe may grow like a giant brain, according to a new computer simulation.

The results, published Nov.16 in the journal Nature's Scientific Reports, suggest that some undiscovered, fundamental laws may govern the growth of systems large and small, from the electrical firing between brain cells and growth of social networks to the expansion of galaxies.


The eerie similarity between networks large and small is unlikely to be a coincidence, Krioukov said.

"For a physicist it's an immediate signal that there is some missing understanding of how nature works," Krioukov said.

It's more likely that some unknown law governs the way networks grow and change, from the smallest brain cells to the growth of mega-galaxies, Krioukov said.

"This result suggests that maybe we should start looking for it," Krioukov told LiveScience." --

via JREF Forum

mardi 25 février 2014

Unemployed vet gets fired for using forklift to get a snack.

I was reading CBS news and apparently Polaris used tax credits to hire this unemployed vet who apparently used a fork lift to wiggle a snack machine to get his candy. I thought the article was pretty easy on the VET who proved just why he was unemployed by getting fired.

via JREF Forum

Boy charged with felony for throwing snowball at cop

So a kid was hanging out in Chicago on a winter's day with a crowd of kids waiting for the bus, and someone threw a snowball at a cop car.

Could have been the 13 year old boy who was charged, but he denies it. This particular boy had never been in trouble with anyone before, and his mother is shocked. Still, one of the school deans pointed at him and so he'll have to face the music.

But he's being charged with FELONY ASSAULT on the police officer.

I'm bringing this case up because in the thread about the blind guy who shot his friend after a night of binge drinking, and who had assaulted a woman and shot at his cousin 15 times, all of his charges were reduced:


Michael Rogers suffered scrapes but no gunshot wounds. The defendant was charged with aggravated assault but, in a deal with prosecutors, pleaded no contest to a lesser charge — unlawfully displaying a firearm — and was placed on probation.

That was revoked, however, when he pushed and punched a woman a year later, something that resulted in him spending 71 days in the Seminole County jail for domestic violence, according to court records.

Still in all of this, he was never convicted of a felony and is still free to vote and to own guns (of course).

Likewise, George Zimmerman assaulted an undercover DEA agent and was given anger management classes and in the end, was not charged with a felony.

Yet here is this 13 year old, who did not fight with police, did not assault a woman, and did not discharge a weapon 15 times at his cousin, yet still is facing a felony charge for, at the very worst, throwing a snowball at a police car.

Do we have two tiers of justice in this country? When we speak of high incarceration rates of black youths in this country, do we ignore that they are charged and sent to jail in situations in which a white man isn't? Why should this kid start high school with a felony record, which will surely stunt his life in myriad ways, while people who did far worse things are let off with warnings, parole, or other second chances?

via JREF Forum

Large capacity usb backup battery for home. Not portable.

Good evening.

I've been looking at usb back up battery pack to recharge phones and tablets. There are plenty of portable ones out there. Some of the best say they will recharge a phone up to 5 times and a tablet far less. That's great to get you through the day without access to power but what if you experience a long term power outage over a wide spread area?

Does anyone make a home base model unit that can that has the capacity to recharge your phone/tablet for many times that amount?

Something that would hold a charge for an extended period of time that you can just keep plugged in in case of a power outage.

It can be big and bulky, no need to be portable, just functional.

Any ideas?

via JREF Forum

Linux x-server failed


I had to take my computer apart the other day but now it won't boot into x. I get the error "the x server is now disabled. Restart MDM when it is configured correctly."

If I'm lucky, I can read the log and it will say "module fglrx not found."

How do I go about fixing it?

via JREF Forum

Lawsuit seeks to remove public memorial to Japanese "comfort women"

In brief:

During WWII Japan forced many women sexually service Japanese service men; they were/are called comfort womenWP . The city of Glendale, California has erected a memorial to them in a public park. A federal lawsuit is seeking to have the memorial removed, mainly on the grounds that it violates the Supremacy ClauseWP of the U.S. Constitution and interferes with the federal government's sole right to conduct U.S. foreign policy. You can find a lot more details at this Popehat article.

IANAL, but it seems to me that a city government having an opinion on foreign matters doesn't interfere with the federal government's ability to conduct foreign policy. I mean, the city of Berkeley has it's own foreign policy, but everyone just ignores them. Also, following the logic of the lawsuit, wouldn't cities be unable to put up memorial to the Armenia genocide, since it would piss off Turkey?

via JREF Forum

The gravity of the events and implications of 9/11.

Dear fellow Patriot,

I'm working on a film called "PAPAMUDI... and the 9/11 mechanism", in which we explain the events and implications of that pivotal day in American history from the perspective of two patriots seeking to tell the world the truth. The film reveals that the events of 9/11 were a catalyst for a potential World War III, a war based on both religion and greed. Furthermore, (I must share this one truth to spur the investigator within yourself.) Henry Kissinger was the mastermind of the events as well as after affects of the most infamous date in American history.

We do not get into detail in terms of the physical or logistical realities of the actual events of 9/11. We feel that other patriots and truth seekers have done a good job of proving that the event is a falsehood from top to bottom with dedicated research exposing facts. Rather, we focus on the primary perpetrators and the political roots and ramifications of the event. We are sending this in order to connect with other patriots and those in the 9/11 truth movement. Getting through the 9/11 riddle and bursting the "bubble world" it creates is something we will have to work on together. This is where we will need to evolve as people and as Americans. It is of critical importance that we all wake up right now. I wish you great success on all of your endeavors to reveal 9/11 truth.

Help me by spreading the word.

via JREF Forum

What Harriet did next

Looks like the recent good news on the jobs front in the UK will be dented with the current Labour Party deputy leader having to look for a new situation shortly.

What I find strange is that the allegations, that Harman et al advocated in favour of adults having sex with children, were reported back in 2009 and 2012.

Why is this news now?

via JREF Forum

Where in the bible does it say not to serve gays?

Regarding the recent surge in bills that would allow businesspeople to discriminate against other people citing "religious reasons" -- where in the bible are the specific verses that say you should not serve a "sinner" (I'll give them that latitude) breakfast? Or that you can't work for a sinner?

Basically, what I'm asking is this: can anyone point to the specific "rule" in Christianity that forbids believers from working for or hiring out to a perceived "sinner" ?

If pharmacists are allowed to refuse to dispense birth control pills to unmarried women, because their personal religion forbids sex out of wedlock -- what is the actual biblical basis for their complaint?

What passages in the bible are being used to define "personal religious beliefs" when it comes to serving gays?

I've been arguing with family members about this for a while, and all they can give me is "It says man shall not lie down with man, as with woman." Yes, I can read that. But where does it say "And ye shall not serve dinner to a man who lies down with a man." ?

If it's not actually IN the bible somewhere, then can't anybody make up ANYTHING and cite religious belief, and legally get away with it?

via JREF Forum

Wiretap Recordings Incriminate Turk PM in Corruption Scandal

Never a dull moment in Turkish politics.

Turkish PM Erdoğan dubs wiretap incriminating him of corruption a 'vile attack’
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied the authenticity of the latest wiretap recording incriminating him of corruption during a Feb. 25 parliamentary group speech.

“Yesterday they published a play that they have montaged and dubbed themselves. What has been done is a vile attack against the prime minister of Turkey,” he said.

The fresh wiretap leaked into the Internet Feb. 24 containing four phone conversations between Erdoğan and his son dating back to Dec. 17, the day when massive graft raids were conducted by the police.

via JREF Forum

Joe Rogan

I enjoyed listening to the Dunning/Rogan podcast. I was very impressed by Rogan, and will start listening to his podcasts as well.

Just a couple of factual comments.

Ted Kazynski was never given LSD at Harvard. He was the victim of Henry Murray, who performed stress interview experiments at Harvard as part of MKULTRA. While both Murray and Timothy Leary were at Harvard simultaneously, it was Leary who was doing the LSD experiments.

There is not plausible way that glutathione could affect intoxication. As Brian pointed out, it is used in acetaldehyde metabolism which is a first step in ethanol metabolism. The alcohol is changed into acetaldehyde which is very important in hangovers (see Antabuse) but not psychoactive itself.

via JREF Forum


In the following video you will see the literally unbelievable C-FAST 'detector' developed in Egypt for diagnosing diseases such as Hep C and AIDS. I have covered this nonsense in another thread. this video they also present the CCD (Complete Cure Device). Watch and let us know what you think. Could it be true? My bet is unlikely, but am no medico so not qualified to judge.

via JREF Forum

New bubble?

This article in The Guardian warns of a new bubble

This time there appears to be no reason at all for the bubble except there being too much liquidity.


via JREF Forum

Is nutritional "science" woo?

And does it do great damage to other sciences by being so utterly useless?

I'm sparked to make this thread by recent news that whole fat actually makes us lean:

And the also recent "vitamins are useless" BS (where the rather enormous caveat was: they don't do much good for people having a PROPER BALANCED DIET, which I imagine not many real actual humans have).

Plus in my lifetime studies have shown that:

Eggs are bad for you. No wait, they're good. Bread is bad, no good. Red meat bad, no good, no bad again. Drinking a glass of wine a day reduces risks, no it doesn't. Margarine is a better butter substitute, no wait it isn't, but no, actually they're virtually equal. High fructose corn syrup is deadly, no wait it's really not much different than suger. This diet is the best. No wait, this one is. No, that one. And on and on and on.

So after being inured and cynical, I'm currently thinking:

1. Why in the hell should I trust any new "study" when it's likely going to be 180-degree refuted in 5 years? Physics doesn't do that. Math doesn't. Archaeology doesn't. Large shifts in those actual sciences do happen, but not several times a decade. And not 180-degree of the former theory.

2. These people are claiming they're doing actual careful scientific research (I assume), yet are often exactly wrong. How many folks on the edge of skepticism about woo look at this and think "wow, scientists really don't know ****** Bread is proven to be good, then bad, then good, then bad? How can I trust evolutionary or astronomical or any sciences?"

3. I'll just keep eating whatever the hell I want to, since it's going to be shown as good or bad for me +/- 10 years from the current time.

ETA: An interesting article that has a lot more footnotes and likely knowledge of the subject than I do:

via JREF Forum

Recent paper on OBEs reveals cognitive biases associated with such experiences

Apologies for the shamless self-publicity - but a linky to a paper some here may find useful / helpful / interesting when chatting about OBEs. The paper should be free to all.


PS, apologies also that this has little to do with Bigfoot....

via JREF Forum

Jack booted anti-heterosexual tyrants

I'm so sick of all that gay marriage being imposed on me. Here I go trying to live my life every day and that liberal government keeps coming up and telling me I have to get gay married to do the things I want to do.

Want to get a job? Must get gay married first.

Want unemployment on account of not getting the job? Must get gay married first.

Want to get a business loan and open a shop? Sorry, must get gay married first.

And don't even think about owning property or voting without a gay marriage partner in tow.

When will this government overreach into my private life stop?

And don't think I'm just some crank. This will happen even if it isn't happening now. Don't believe me? Well televangelist Jim Robinson sure thinks so.


It is highly likely both the Congress and the courts will impose same sex [sic] marriage on the American people even though their numbers are small when compared with the total population. The general public and the church will most likely be forced to accept the practice as if the people desiring the gay identity were born with unique attraction and they must not be held responsible for their choices or desires any more than a person would be for ethnicity or skin color.

See! Not "allowing it to happen" but "imposing" it on us. Imposing it implies oppression.

See also how Scott Lively of the Coalition of Family Values phrases it.


…the vast majority of the people of the world do not accept the notion that sexual deviance should be normalized. It is time that these voices are heard on the world stage before the so-called elites of the Western powers impose their inverted morality on everyone through the manipulation of international law, which they clearly intend to do.

See, there is that "impose" word again. Which makes it clear that this isn't about allowing other people to be themselves. It is about forcing everyone to be gay! How could it be anything else?

And he goes on to demonstrate how this intolerance happens.


This is what the homosexual activists do. They are the worst bullies in society. If you dare to stand up to them, even if all you say is that I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, they try to destroy you.

Yeah, times are so tough for those that want to voice their opinion on this matter. They get beaten up. They get arrested. They can't visit loved ones in hospitals. And should their life long partner die suddenly and they have no will specifying who raises their child why you have to watch helplessly as it is passed off to some homosexual family!

And oh how heterosexuals live in constant fear. As Jeff Allen explains we really are on the verge of a homosexual Kristallnacht.


When Matt Barber recently published an article on our own BarbWire entitled Liberal Love: Matt Barber Will be ‘Tried’ & ‘Hanged’ for ‘Crimes Against Humanity’, the virulent and extremely hateful comments would have been a lot more laughable and easily dismissed as the ravings of a liberal lunatic mind if they weren’t so sinisterly representative of the Nazi-like homosexual activist’s deepest, darkest desires. Many of them really do console themselves with fantasies of their own Kristallnacht, in which Christians are euphemistically “taken out of the way” as part of the “gay”-stapo’s “final solution” to the “Christian problem.” The torturing or hanging of Matt Barber and other Christians like him is shockingly not off the table for the most rabid among them.

Yes, I'm sure Matt Barber lives every day in fear of his personal safety being at risk due to him being so heterosexual. At Thanksgiving he has to put on a big show for his mother and father about only having sex with other men and that his "wife" is just some sort of long staying house guest. At school his children have to participate in the lie as well lest they end up bloodied in the bathroom another victim of the gay bullies.

And we all know where this will end up. The USA will just be another authoritarian dystopia where fear of being outed as heterosexual keeps everyone in line.


The homosexual movement does a good job of instilling that fear of harassing people and threatening them terribly so you don’t have anybody speaking out — we do — but when people start speaking out this whole house of cards will start to fall.

The pro-heterosexual side has been cowed into denying its own existence for too long. People need to start speaking up. No longer can we tolerate the police raids on singles bars with cops beating up and jailing men and women that only just wanted to be heterosexual. Fear of being harassed has for too long silenced heterosexuals into just going along with the crowd. And that has led us to what Bryan Fisher sees all around us.:


They are jack-booted homofascist thugs who want to use the totalitarian and tyrannical power of the state to send men of faith to jail. That sounds far more like Nazi Germany than the United States of America.

See, if we keep this up the homosexuals might just start treating others like they have been treated for so long. And that would be terrible. Let us just hope there is also such a thing as forgiveness; a concept that might even have been mentioned in that Bible thing once or twice.

via JREF Forum

lundi 24 février 2014

Oldest object on planet Earth found in Australia?

This is interesting:


Scientists using two different age-determining techniques have shown that a tiny zircon crystal found on a sheep ranch in Western Australia is the oldest known piece of our planet, dating to 4.4 billion years ago.


They used a technique known as atom-probe tomography that was able to identify individual atoms of lead in the crystal and determine their mass, and confirmed that the zircon was indeed 4.4 billion years old.

To put that age in perspective, the Earth itself formed 4.5 billion years ago as a ball of molten rock, meaning that its crust formed relatively soon thereafter, 100 million years later. The age of the crystal also means that the crust appeared just 160 million years after the very formation of the solar system.


The finding supports the notion of a "cool early Earth" where temperatures were low enough to sustain oceans, and perhaps life, earlier than previously thought, Professor Valley said.

via JREF Forum

"Ukraine" or "The Ukraine"?

For decades, I have seen and heard this country/region referred to as "The Ukraine". Lately, I have noticed it being referred to as simply "Ukraine".

Is this a result of the breakup of the former Soviet Union?

via JREF Forum

Take this fundi!


Confirmed: Oldest Fragment of Early Earth is 4.4 Billion Years Old



Ever heard this life advice? When solving a big problem seems impossible, break it into smaller steps.

Well, scientists just took one of geology's biggest controversies and shrunk it down to atomic size. By zapping single atoms of lead in a tiny zircon crystal from Australia, researchers have confirmed the crystal is the oldest rock fragment ever found on Earth — 4.375 billion years old, plus or minus 6 million years.

via JREF Forum

Blind man stands his ground with AR-15, gets his guns back


Rogers shot 34-year-old James T. DeWitt after a night of drinking at Rogers’ home. DeWitt stayed the night, and the incident occurred the following morning after they returned from an errand to buy more beer. Rogers, who is legally blind, said he felt threatened by DeWitt, so he went into his bedroom and retrieved his assault rifle. Rogers said DeWitt charged at him and he shot; DeWitt’s girlfriend says they were “play fighting” when Rogers went into his bedroom to get the gun and then shot at DeWitt without provocation.

Meh, it's not like the guy is a menace.


Rogers also escaped conviction several years earlier in a deal with prosecutors for firing 15 rounds at his cousin after a night of drinking, and spent time in jail after punching a woman in a domestic violence incident.

Let me double check. What state is this again?


A Florida court granted Rogers immunity from criminal charges under the state’s Stand Your Ground law, which authorizes deadly force without any duty to retreat anywhere a person has a legal right to be.

Of course they did.

Guns. Turning drunken buffoons into killers since the 14th century.

via JREF Forum

Parents Day daughter was "Kidnapped" by Hospital

So on another board, this popped up.

Basically, a girl of 15 who had a medical history of suffering for muscular pain. This was diagnosed by doctors at Tufts & she was getting treatment. After about 3 years she was rushed to Boston Children's Hospital with the flu. A doctor there diagnosed the child's problems as psychiatric and changed her meds & treatment. Then the doctors at BCH told the parents that they wouldn't be allowed to seek a second opinion. The parents rejected this, a legal battle ensued, & the parents lost custody.

Now the parents seem to be going to people like Glenn Beck to get the story out.

Anyone else here heard about this & perhaps has more info? I don't think BCH is is conducting medical experiments on the child or anything, but I also don't see a reason that the family should not be allowed a second opinion.

via JREF Forum

The Moon Takes one for Earth


Scientists have reported spotting the biggest meteorite impact ever seen on the Moon's surface – after a 400kg (900lb) rock slammed into the lunar regolith at an estimated 17km/s, leaving a crater about 50 metres wide.

If my calculations (using a virtual back of a virtual envelope) are correct, impact of a meteorite this size with the Earth would have a explosive value of a 40 Megaton bomb.

(Per: )

This would be similar to the meteorite impact that created the Barringer Crater. This site has calculations for both 20 and 40 Megaton bombs:


At the point of impact, the plants and animals, rock, and most of the meteorite were vaporized. Underlying bedrock was ejected and overturned, burying the land and anything else not already blown away by the air blast, out to a distance of between 1 and 2 km. The animals within 3 to 4 km of the impact site would have been subjected to winds exceeding 2000 km/hour and killed. A 50% casualty rate would occur between 9 and 14 km of the impact site due simply to bodies being picked up by the air blast and accelerated to a few to tens of kilometers per hour before being slammed back down again.

Overpressures (the pressure above normal atmospheric pressure) would cause death to anything living within a radius of 2.7 to 3.2 km of the impact site and cause lung damage within a radius of 6.5 to 9.3 km for a 20 megaton explosion. In the case of a 40 megaton explosion, these distances would increase by an additional 1 to 2 km. Animals as far away as 16 to 24 km would have been injured severely. Vegetation would have been almost completely destroyed over an area of 800 to 1500 km2 around the Meteor Crater impact site.

Fortunately, as Kring points out, the impact effects would have been severe only within that 800 to 1500 km2 area. No global extinction would have resulted.

It this had hit a city or populated area on this planet today the results would have been pretty devastating. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to calculate the effects. (There are lots of calculators on the 'net. ;))

And Cab Calloway sang about "The Silly Old Moon" when we actually need more friends like this.

via JREF Forum

Life along the river....

As part of a book about the impact of technology on employment, the author writes about the bizarre miseries of working in an Amazon "fulfillment center."


Amazon’s system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive I have ever come across and combines state-of-the-art surveillance technology with the system of “functional foreman,” introduced by Taylor in the workshops of the Pennsylvania machine-tool industry in the 1890s. In a fine piece of investigative reporting for the London Financial Times, economics correspondent Sarah O’Connor describes how, at Amazon’s center at Rugeley, England, Amazon tags its employees with personal sat-nav (satellite navigation) computers that tell them the route they must travel to shelve consignments of goods, but also set target times for their warehouse journeys and then measure whether targets are met.

All this information is available to management in real time, and if an employee is behind schedule she will receive a text message pointing this out and telling her to reach her targets or suffer the consequences. At Amazon’s depot in Allentown, Pennsylvania (of which more later), Kate Salasky worked shifts of up to eleven hours a day, mostly spent walking the length and breadth of the warehouse. In March 2011 she received a warning message from her manager, saying that she had been found unproductive during several minutes of her shift, and she was eventually fired. This employee tagging is now in operation at Amazon centers worldwide.

Paradoxically (or not), you can buy the book on Amazon.

via JREF Forum

Serious iOS/OSX security flaw

If you're on iOS6 and above, and haven't updated to 7.0.6, please do so now.

The technical details of the bug.

I understand OSX Mavericks have the same vulnerability, but the patch is not out yet. Ironically, running Firefox or Chrome browsers avoids the problem since those browsers use their own verification checks for SSL certificates.

It's crazy how a simple duplicate copy/paste that could result in such a big security hole took so long to be discovered (assuming criminal elements have not already done so).

via JREF Forum

Texas Senate GOP Candidate: "Shoot wetbacks"

This is brought to you by "Another Great Moment in GOP Rebranding".


A Republican Senate candidate argued to The Dallas Morning News editorial board earlier this month that ranchers in Texas should be allowed to shoot "wetbacks" trying to cross the border illegally.

The candidate, Chris Mapp, who is running in the Republican primary against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), also called President Barack Obama "a socialist son of a bitch," according to the Morning News editorial board.

In a separate interview with the San Antonio Express-News on Friday, Mapp defended his remarks saying wetback is as "normal as breathing air in South Texas."

via JREF Forum

Would a Dawkinsian education be good or bad for children?

From The Telegrapgh:


He replied: “Thank you for suggesting that I should start an atheist free school. I like the idea very much, although I would prefer to call it a free-thinking free school.

“I would never want to indoctrinate children in atheism, any more than in religion. Instead, children should be taught to ask for evidence, to be sceptical, critical, open-minded.

“If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists.

“I would also teach comparative religion, and teach it properly without any bias towards particular religions, and including historically important but dead religions, such as those of ancient Greece and the Norse gods, if only because these, like the Abrahamic scriptures, are important for understanding English literature and European history.”

In reply to another questioner, Prof Dawkins said: “The Bible should be taught, but emphatically not as reality. It is fiction, myth, poetry, anything but reality. As such it needs to be taught because it underlies so much of our literature and our culture.”

I know it is quite old, but I'd be curious if anyone here sees anything wrong with the sort of education Dawkins proposes. I know Dawkins has several rather harsh critics on this forum, and would be especially curious about their opinion on this.

via JREF Forum

Apple: goto fail; do not pass Go, do not collect $200

The jokes write themselves. Apparently this line was duplicated in Apple's SSL/TLS implementation on iOS and OS X, leading to vulnerability:


For the time being, people using Macs should avoid using public networks, a step that can thwart many criminal eavesdroppers but will do little to prevent surveillance by the National Security Agency and other state-sponsored spies. Because the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers appear to be unaffected by the flaw, people should also consider using those browsers when possible, although they shouldn't be considered a panacea.

The flaw, according to researchers, causes most iOS and Mac applications to skip a crucial verification check that's supposed to happen when many transport layer security (TLS) and secure sockets layer (SSL) connections are being negotiated. Specifically, affected apps fail to check that the ephemeral public key presented by servers offering Diffie Hellman-supported encryption is actually signed by the site's private key. Attackers with the ability to monitor the connection between the end-user and the server can exploit this failure to completely decrypt and manipulate the traffic by presenting the app with a counterfeit key.

An attacker "can basically set up a connection and pretend to be," Matt Green, a Johns Hopkins University professor specializing in encryption, told Ars. The attacker "can basically say: 'Hey I'm Google, here's my signature. And since nobody is actually going to check the signature, [the attacker] just puts nonsense in there."

Independent security researcher Ashkan Soltani has confirmed that Safari and, the default browser and e-mail client in OS X, suffer from the verification error in version 10.9.1. He and other researchers say virtually all applications that rely on the SecureTransport TLS layer are susceptible to the attack, regardless of whether they use a technique known as certificate pinning designed to block counterfeit encryption certificates. The bug, according to this analysis by encryption expert and security engineer Adam Langley, is the result of a single line of misplaced code that instructs apps to skip the verification check of the ephemeral key.

"This sort of subtle bug deep in the code is a nightmare," Langley, who is also a Google employee, wrote. "I believe that it's just a mistake and I feel very bad for whomever might have slipped in an editor and created it."


Naturally, iOS has gotten the patch before OS X.

via JREF Forum