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Reversing Global Warming while Meeting Human Needs

by gmoke
Sat Jan 12th, 2013 at 05:51:00 PM EST

Reversing Global Warming while Meeting Human Needs: An Urgently Needed Land-Based Option
Friday, January 25, 2013
2:00 - 4:00 PM, ASEAN Auditorium
The Fletcher School, 160 Packard Avenue, Medford, MA
Reception to follow

Allan Savory, Rancher and Restoration Ecologist, Founder of the Savory Institute and originator of the Holistic Management approach to restoring grasslands, winner of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award, and finalist in the Virgin Earth Challenge
Presented by CIERP's Agriculture, Forests, and Biodiversity Program with the Friedman School's Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program and Planet-TECH Associates

Free and open to the public. Convened by the Agriculture, Forests, and Biodiversity Program of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Fletcher;
the Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program of Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; and Planet-TECH Associates.

First in a Series of "Creating the Future We Want" Events.

While  governments  posture and  dither, a pragmatic  practitioner and intellectual entrepreneur, Allan Savory,has been developing and demonstrating a powerful technique that can reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere immediately while reversing desertification and providing livelihoods and food for millions of people. His applied research based in Zimbabwe on the restoration of grasslands  has  now  been  replicated  on millions  of  acres worldwide. The application of his methods has the potential to significantly reduce atmospheric carbon through an increase in plant growth and soil formation. This process begins immediately and involves no new technologies, only a shift to the Holistic Management practices for livestock that he has pioneered. Major organizations and institutions are now recognizing his work, but climate scientists and governments have yet to incorporate it into their analyses and policy prescriptions.


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The Trillion $ Coin

by Frank Schnittger
Sat Jan 12th, 2013 at 05:54:29 AM EST

I've been reading about and advocating the Trillion $ Coin option as a means of avoiding the US Debt Ceiling impasse on US Blogs for some time now, but have always sought to leave the lead role in writing diaries on the topic to legal or economic experts. And just when I finally decide to weigh in in a more substantial way Krugman decides to write more or less exactly what I wanted to write:
Barbarous Relics -
There will, of course, be howls from the usual suspects if that's how it goes [and the President decides to mint a Trillion $ coin]. Some of these will be howls of frustration because their hostage-taking plan was frustrated. But some will reflect sincere horror over a policy turn that their cosmology says must be utterly disastrous.

Ed Kilgore says, in a somewhat different way, much the same thing I and people like Joe Weisenthal have been saying: what we're looking at here is a collision of worldviews, one might even say of epistemology.

For many people on the right, value is something handed down from on high. It should be measured in terms of eternal standards, mainly gold; I have, for example, often seen people claiming that stocks are actually down, not up, over the past couple of generations because the Dow hasn't kept up with the gold price, never mind what it buys in terms of the goods and services people actually consume.

And given that the laws of value are basically divine, not human, any human meddling in the process is not just foolish but immoral. Printing money that isn't tied to gold is a kind of theft, not to mention blasphemy.

For people like me, on the other hand, the economy is a social system, created by and for people. Money is a social contrivance and convenience that makes this social system work better -- and should be adjusted, both in quantity and in characteristics, whenever there is compelling evidence that this would lead to better outcomes. It often makes sense to put constraints on our actions, e.g. by pegging to another currency or granting the central bank a high degree of independence, but these are things done for operational convenience or to improve policy credibility, not moral commitments -- and they are always up for reconsideration when circumstances change.

Now, the money morality types try to have it both ways; they want us to believe that monetary blasphemy will produce disastrous results in practical terms too. But events have proved them wrong.

And I do find myself thinking a lot about Keynes's description of the gold standard as a "barbarous relic"; it applies perfectly to this discussion. The money morality people are basically adopting a pre-Enlightenment attitude toward monetary and fiscal policy -- and why not? After all, they hate the Enlightenment on all fronts.

frontpaged by afew

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LQD: Radical Abundance - Cold Fusion Time

by ChrisCook
Sat Jan 12th, 2013 at 05:38:36 AM EST

I am posting this Youtube clip of a lecture by one Dr Iwamura with the following comment from someone with a nom de plume of 'Dlight Sky'.

Talk about Radical Abundance! Thanks for finding this, it's the best talk by Iwamura I've seen so far. It's obvious that this is very mature technology. It's cool to see that they are now able to create platinum from tungsten (almost like creating gold from lead). Since tungsten costs about $50 per kilo and platinum about $3000 per kilo there is potential to make money with this technology, if significant quantities could be produced.

Interestingly Mitusubishi Heavy Industries is primarily interested in the technology for transmutation of radioactive waste from conventional nuclear reactors into non-radioactive elements

Because of this focus they haven't done much work on turning this into an energy-producing technology which it clearly has the potential to be. This is a clean fusion reaction which produces very little radiation.

This looks like an ordinary talk, but it's describing a massive paradigm shift showing a technology that has the potential to solve the world's energy problems. It has clearly proven that nuclear fusion can take place inside of a metal lattice at very low energy states. Most of his experiments don't require any input power at all.

Unfortunately his experiments have been associated with "cold fusion" (which it is) and are relatively unknown outside of a small circle. Also if the military grabs on to this, which they probably have, they likely keep any successes to themselves.

However one can see from the talk that this is quite mature technology, and they have used many sophisticated setups with an array of different sensors to verify the results.

Once commercialized, when we buy a new car it will come pre-loaded with a bit of cesium and heavy water and we will be able to run the car for its whole life without ever needing to re-fuel.

This mature technology is already here. No pollution, no mess, no fuss. It should have spawned a gigantic wave of research, but for some reason hasn't yet. There is a apparently a deep obstacle operating here, whether it's conceptual, spiritual or emotional--mankind simply isn't ready to receive this incredible gift yet.

I'd be interested in what our resident physicists and cynics have to say.

Comments >> (39 comments)

Death by Train

by Nomad
Fri Jan 11th, 2013 at 10:39:08 AM EST

Always the sounds, haunting.

The thud made me pause in midsentence. Not because the sound was loud or sharp, but because it was so unknown - there was a softness to it, almost cushioned. I'd never heard it before; the cabin of the train lightly swayed.

We were discussing nonsense, the design of cookies, and the fast train to The Hague had accelerated to top speed since leaving Leiden. Outside the window I could see the concrete platforms of a local train station rushing by. The sight condensed fear already jumping my mind.

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The 70s redux...

by Metatone
Thu Jan 10th, 2013 at 05:35:07 AM EST

Benjamin Studebaker has published an interesting blog on this topic:

Stagflation: What Really Happened in the 70′s « Benjamin Studebaker

If you argue long enough about economics, you are bound to run into the stagflation argument. The stagflation argument claims that the big state and stimulus caused high inflation, high unemployment, and poor growth during the seventies. Usually this argument is not fully argued by those who believe in it-it is merely asserted, and the rest of us are expected to accept that it is simply the case that the seventies happened that way. Today I'd like to endeavour to illustrate what actually happened in the seventies, what the real causes of stagflation were, and what sort of lessons might be pulled from it.

front-paged by afew

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What is the point of writing diaries on ET?

by njh
Wed Jan 9th, 2013 at 01:15:50 PM EST

Do we expect to foment change?  Get high on outrage?  Present ourselves as smart?  Answer important rhetorical questions?

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Spiegel's interview on: "The End of Working Class Men in America!"

by Democrats Ramshield
Wed Jan 9th, 2013 at 12:29:24 PM EST

(This review is written by a male Business Librarian, who holds MBA, MLS degrees, the diary is written from the perspective of an American Expat living in Germany!)

The German mainstream magazine Der Spiegel, which may be thought of as the German speaking world's equivalent of Time Magazine, published an important article translated into its English language edition of an interview given by the controversial author Hanna Rosin, critically acclaimed book "The End of Men." This in the world of business and economics sets out in broad strokes the case for the end of the blue collar working class American male.

Spiegel quote:Former city of industry Detroit: "Factories close and the men don't have jobs anymore."

In a SPIEGEL interview, Israeli-American author Hanna Rosin, 42, whose book "The End of Men" is to be published in Germany this month, discusses the identity crisis being experienced by the male sex in America. Men, she argues, are the losers in the economic downturn because they are too rigid and inflexible.

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What is the Point of a Bitcoin?

by ChrisCook
Wed Jan 9th, 2013 at 06:01:23 AM EST

I've never been able to understand why anyone would regard a Bitcoin as having any value, since it is evidence of past (useless) work and energy expenditure with no value other than the creation of a Bitcoin.

Mind you, it is generally accepted that a Bitcoin is made valuable purely by its acceptability to Bitcoin participants as currency. ie it is completely 'faith-based'.

Do Not Throw Stones At This Notice comes to mind in terms of pointless circularity.

In respect of faith-based value - rather than value which derives from use value over time - a Bitcoin as a value token is not dissimilar to gold, of course, but at least gold has amenity value, being nice to look at for a few million years, and possessing some specialised uses.

There's an interesting fork of Bitcoin as well - Freicoin - which introduces Gesell's concept of 'money that rusts' (demurrage) in order to discourage hoarding and encourage spending.

Bitcoin's P2P architecture on the other hand? Now that is valuable: and I haven't even mentioned anonymity and Big Government.

For me, the challenge is to create a unit of account, platform, framework/protocol and generally acceptable instruments (currency) which combine credit, utility and trust.

I think that to do so is both completely necessary and achievable, and moreover represents what is now an implementable Adjacent Possible.

frontpaged by afew

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Cafe-philo: Education, a remedy for violence ? 2-1-2013

by Ted Welch
Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 03:39:32 PM EST

Cafe-philo in English, with a French flavour.


The Jan 2nd 2013 meeting of the cafe-philo in English was packed; perhaps people had resolved to be more philosophical in the new year.

On the positive side this cafe-philo does encourage an interest in philosophical issues and provides a platform for the expression of opinion about general ideas by a variety of individuals. However the democratic format does tend to lead to the selection of very general issues which can be expressed in a single short sentence, in this case: "Can education remedy/fight (!) violence?" Well, yes and no; some kinds of education can help reduce some kinds and levels of violence, but also, rather obviously, some forms of education (e.g. technical, how to create an atomic bomb) can lead to enormously increased violence. The proposer himself cited Spartan education for the production of warriors and someone else claimed that many SS officers were PhDs.


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LOL. What is the point of comedy?

by Sven Triloqvist
Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 03:14:19 PM EST

pl. com·e·dies
a.     A dramatic work that is light and often humorous or satirical in tone and that usually contains a happy resolution of the thematic conflict.
b. The genre made up of such works.
1.     A literary or cinematic work of a comic nature or that uses the themes or methods of comedy.
2.    Popular entertainment composed of jokes, satire, or humorous performance.
3.    The art of composing or performing comedy.
4.    A humorous element of life or literature: the human comedy of political campaigns.
5.    A humorous occurrence.

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Feeble Democratic Secularism

by ormondotvos
Wed Jan 2nd, 2013 at 05:02:05 PM EST

I come to EUROTRIB to glean current views on the future of democratic secularism. I read much here about trains, parties, wind power, political intrigue and such, but I don't recall much about the ascendancy of political Islam, and the future of laicite.

What gives? Is Charlie Hebdo all alone? Are the intellectuals blind to the grassroots of self-segregation?

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Chronis Missios: A tribute

by BalkanIdentity
Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 03:26:03 AM EST

In November 2012 Chronis set sail. He is one of those few that were given that very rare grace to speak simply, as requested by Seferis:

Δε θέλω τίποτε άλλο παρά να μιλήσω απλά, να μου δοθεί
   ετούτη η χάρη.
Γιατί και το τραγούδι το φορτώσαμε με τόσες μουσικές
   που σιγά-σιγά,βουλιάζε ι
και την τέχνη μας τη στολίσαμε τόσο πολύ που φαγώθηκε
   από τα μαλάματα το πρόσωπό της
κι είναι καιρός να πούμε τα λιγοστά μας λόγια γιατί η
   ψυχή μας αύριο κάνει πανιά.
I want nothing more than to speak simply, to be granted that grace.
Because we've loaded even our song with so much music that it's slowly sinking
and we've decorated our art so much that its features have been eaten away by gold
and it's time to say our few words because tomorrow our soul sets sail.

(from An Old Man by the River Bank - G. Seferis)

Chronis did not learn to read and write at an official school as at second grade he was forced to drop out. His education formed in a place that somehow liberated his soul as it incarcerated and tortured his body. He extended his grace to us through his line-of-thought books starting with Καλά εσύ σκοτώθηκες νωρίς (Lucky you died early) (the only translation from Greek I could find is here and since my French is elementary I cannot vouch for its quality).

In this tribute I wanted to let some of his words express his deep concern for the fate of this world as well as his faith in the potential of humanity as personal beings forming a community but before I do so I have to at give a brief synopsis of the life that formed his world view.

For the New Year - afew

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Old Stories

by DoDo
Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 07:25:24 PM EST

I always took an interest in collecting the stories of my ancestors and relatives which survived in the family. This year, as Christmas present for family members on one side, I decided to condense all my hand-written records and memorised info on that side into block-diagram family trees (drawn with a spreadsheet), and do some new research in the process.

It was a lot more work than I expected, it took up most of my free time over the past three weeks. The delivered (but not final :-) ) result took the form of eight sheets, each with up to 8 contiguous generations and up to 25 siblings/cousins up to 4th grade in the same generation, altogether some five hundred separate individuals, with key personal data and (for the better-known) one-liner summaries of what they are remembered for.

Below the fold, I pick out some random stories of interest, which provide reflections of general history in family history.

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I want to start an NGO

by stevesim
Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 10:48:04 AM EST

I want to start an NGO.

My idea is to have an online website for people to order handknit items that they can choose themselves from their favourite knitting magazine or book, and have it done by women in remote villages in a developing country.

The women would have to come from a culture that knits as part of its tradition, such as Peru, or some other such country.

The yarn would be purchased in the buyer's country of origin, and sent to a representative who would then help the women get the pattern translated, etc.

I had this idea because knitting is very trendy, and hand knit garments are very, very expensive.  Someone in France charges 200 Euros for a scarf!!!  but they are knit in France so that explains that.

What I need is your help in helping me get some information so I can write up a proposal to get this crowd funded.

Comments >> (18 comments)

Best Music of 2012

by danps
Sat Dec 29th, 2012 at 07:31:02 AM EST

A CD's worth of the year's best songs, generally from off the beaten path.

If you dig these songs please consider buying them. Most can be had for less than a buck. They will also be hosted at Pruning Shears until Thursday, so you can try before you buy over there.

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Shameless self-promotion

by Jerome a Paris
Thu Dec 20th, 2012 at 06:16:29 PM EST

They say there's not enough money to invest in offshore wind.

crisis? what crisis?

I beg to differ.

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Reality-based Economics and the Last Big Thing

by ChrisCook
Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 07:20:36 AM EST

Also posted on the UCL ISRS Resiliblog

Andy Haldane was in the news again yesterday, this time on the subject of P2P banking which directly connects lenders and borrowers.  He does not say so explicitly, but it is of course in the interests of risk intermediaries such as banks to outsource risk to `end-user' lenders and borrowers, since banking service providers require only sufficient capital to cover operating costs.

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The Road Not Taken - Risk and Uncertainty

by ARGeezer
Sun Dec 16th, 2012 at 03:17:30 PM EST

While perusing an INET article on risk, "Choice Under Uncertainty": A Misnomer by Raphaële Chappe, (someone to keep an eye on), I saw another reference to Frank Knight, one of the founders of the Chicago School of economics and his 1921 work on risk. I knew of Knightian uncertainty but decided to find out more about Knight. Wiki to the rescue:
Knight is best known as the author of the book Risk Uncertainty and Profit, (PDF) based on his Ph.D. dissertation at Cornell University. In that book, he carefully distinguished between economic risk and uncertainty. Situations with risk were those where the outcomes were unknown but governed by probability distributions known at the outset. He argued that these situations, where decision making rules such as maximising expected utility can be applied, differ in a deep way from "uncertain" ones, where the outcomes were likewise random, but governed by an unknown probability model. Knight argued that uncertainty gave rise to economic profits that perfect competition could not eliminate.

While most economists now acknowledge Knight's distinction between risk and uncertainty, the distinction has not resulted in much theoretical modelling or empirical work. (emphasis added)

Well, fancy that! Who could'a imagined? Perhaps one of the perks of being the guy who first described a field is the opportunity to systematically ignore the implications when those implications were awkward. I can hear his ghost responding to an accusation that his life's work paved the road to the biggest financial calamity since the Great Depression whilst ignoring Knightian uncertainty: "Don't harangue me about risk! I wrote the book."

This seems to be the focus of Raphaële Chappe's academic work and one her background well equips her to investigate with authority.

Comments >> (11 comments)

Abortion in Ireland

by Frank Schnittger
Wed Dec 19th, 2012 at 03:10:32 PM EST

In the 1980's and 1990's there was a lot of political turmoil in Ireland in response to the economic changes wrought by globalisation and the liberalisation of social mores in response to Ireland's membership of the EU. In what many interpreted as a rearguard action, the Roman Catholic Church and associated pressure groups sought to introduce constitutional "safeguards" to prevent future Irish Governments from legislating for abortion with very counter-productive results (from the perspective of their proponents).

The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution (7 October 1983) sought to introduce a constitutional prohibition of abortion by giving "the unborn" an equal right to life to the mother. However, the Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling called the "X" case (1992), found that the "equal right to life" provision of the 1983 amendment meant that Irish women had the right to an abortion if a pregnant woman's life was at risk because of pregnancy, and included the risk of suicide as a legitimate risk to the life of the mother. In addition, the Supreme Court found that the Government had a duty to legislate to vindicate that right but for 20 years Irish governments have run away from that "hot potato" issue and the almost inevitable confrontation with the Catholic Church that any such legislation would entail.

Anxious to close the suicide "loophole" in the 1983 Amendment, the Government, under pressure from the Catholic bishops, introduced The Twelfth Amendment Bill (1992) to strengthen the constitutional ban on abortion further by stating that an abortion could not be procured to protect the health, rather than the life, of the woman, and specifically excluding the risk to the life of the woman from suicide as a grounds for an abortion. This was put to a referendum in November 1992 and was defeated by a resounding 65-35% margin.

However many anomalies remained. My late wife was forced to resign from her job as the administrator of the local community education centre when she refuse to remove leaflets from the community education information centre which gave advice on where further information on "options" for unwanted pregnancies could be obtained. The spectre of the police preventing pregnant women from obtaining information on abortion services abroad and from traveling to UK to have an abortion eventually resulted in two more amendments to the constitution being passed which further weakened the effect of the 1983 ban.

The Thirteenth Amendment (23 December 1992) specified that the prohibition of abortion would not limit freedom of travel in and out of the state (to have an abortion in abroad) and the Fourteenth Amendment (23 December 1992) specified that the prohibition of abortion would not limit the right to distribute information about abortion services in foreign countries. A second attempt to exclude the risk of suicide as a grounds for abortion was defeated in 2002 when the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution was rejected by the electorate.

In December 2011 the European Court of Human Rights (ABC v Ireland) ruled unanimously that Ireland's failure to implement the existing constitutional right to a lawful abortion in Ireland when a woman's life is at risk violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court unanimously found that Ireland’s abortion law violates women’s human rights and that Ireland must make life-saving abortion services available.

Coincidentally with the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar (2012), an "Expert Group" reported on what actions the Government should take to legislate for the X Case judgement, and now, 20 years after the Supreme Court directed the Government to make legislative provision for abortion, the Government has finally committed to introducing legislation and regulation for abortion in 2013. Cue a histrionic reaction from the Catholic Bishops and associated pressure groups.

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Fact, frame-up, or fiction? - Litvinenko's `deathbed testimony'.

by de Gondi
Wed Dec 19th, 2012 at 06:33:33 AM EST

By David Habakkuk in London and David Loepp in Rome.

In our previous diary on the resumption of the inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, we noted that prior to the fourth pre-inquest review the `interested persons' at the inquest would have available the transcript or transcripts of the interviews the police carried out with him.  

At the review, which took place last Thursday, Ben Emmerson QC, counsel for his widow Marina, gave a description of the testimony from Litvinenko which has been made available - given, supposedly, on 20 November 2006, `when he was dying.'  And - as is evident from the transcript of the proceedings - Mr Emmerson QC made deft use of the fact that it incriminates both the Russian state and, it seems clear, Andrei Lugovoi, the figure whose extradition to face charges of having deliberately murdered Litvinenko has been requested by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Rather than disposing of the problems with the conventional wisdom about how Litvinenko died which we have raised in previous diaries on this site, however, the claims which are now being made compound them.  The fact that Litvinenko incriminated the Russian state is hardly new.  When the story of his poisoning was first broken on 11 November 2006, on obscure websites associated with the Chechen insurgents, however, the clear suggestion was that the `hit man' employed by Russian intelligence had been Litvinenko's Italian associate Mario Scaramella.  This sinister Italian, it was suggested, had used promises of information about the murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya as a baited hook to lure Litvinenko to the Itsu sushi bar in Piccadilly - and there slipped poison into his sushi.

The conclusion to which the British investigators supposedly came, however, was that Lugovoi and/or Kovtun slipped the rare radioactive isotope polonium-210 into Litvinenko's tea, when the three met in the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel in Grosvenor Square, following the meeting at the Itsu.  However, as was brought out in diaries on this site in May and in December 2008, at the time Litvinenko's associates emphatically did not claim that the testimony he gave on 20 November incriminating Lugovoi pointed to the Pine Bar meeting.  

Moreover, two of his closest collaborators, Alex Goldfarb and Yuri Shvets, quite explicitly ruled out the possibility that he could have been poisoned at a meeting having the characteristics of that in the Pine Bar. Set in context, the claims made by counsel for Litvinenko's widow do not provide compelling evidence in support of the conventional wisdom about how Litvinenko died - indeed, they may provide just the reverse.

the next episode - afew

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