nonTROPPO.org

August 10, 2005
Less ripped off?

London has slid from being the 6th most expensive to the 8th most expensive City in the World. I was hoping that was because of lower costs, but it seems that it is because Oslo (now No. 2) and Rekyavik (No. 4) have leapfrogged over it. Even so, London still seems to have the most expensive toothpaste, maybe that's why us Londoners have such yellow teeth...

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Posted by Ian at 01:05 PM
August 08, 2005
Cephalopod-Food

As part of my ongoing, everpresent cephalopodic obsession, here is some fascinating footage; the invertebrate Octopus attacking and snacking on sharks ...

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Posted by Ian at 10:40 PM
August 05, 2005
Non-Proliferation Treaty - RIP…

Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary (6th August 1945) of the Hiroshima atomic bomb in which the most shocking and horrific weapon of mass destruction was ever unleashed on a civilian population. One hundred and fourty thousand people were dead in the few months after the bomb. They were burnt, crushed (by a pressure wave) and radiated to death, often dying painfully and slowly within weeks and months due to the gamma radiation. Along with Nagasaki bomb 3 days later, over a ¼ million people were murdered; the Americans deemed it the only solution to end their war with Japan.

The United States now wants to start developing Nuclear Weapons again, and the UK is starting to rebuild its Nuclear Arsenal. In a staggering act of circularity and defiance of the NPT, the new weapons of mass destruction will be used to combat weapons of lesser-mass destruction:

Bush wanted to destroy the treaty because it couldn’t be reconciled with his new plans. Last month the Senate approved an initial $4m for research into a “robust nuclear earth penetrator” (RNEP). This is a bomb with a yield about ten times that of the Hiroshima device, designed to blow up underground bunkers which might contain weapons of mass destruction. (You’ve spotted the contradiction). Congress rejected funding for it in November, but Bush twisted enough arms this year to get it restarted. You see what a wonderful world he inhabits when you discover that the RNEP idea was conceived in 1991 as a means of dealing with Saddam Hussein’s biological and chemical weapons.(8) Saddam is pacing his cell, but the Bushites, like the Japanese soldiers lost in Malaysia, march on. To pursue his war against the phantom of the phantom of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, Bush has destroyed the treaty which prevents the use of real ones.

It gets worse. Last year Congress allocated funding for something called the “reliable replacement warhead”. The government’s story is that the existing warheads might be deteriorating. When they show signs of ageing, they can be dismantled and rebuilt to a “safer and more reliable” design.(9) It’s a pretty feeble excuse for building a new generation of nukes, but it worked. The development of the new bombs probably means that the US will also breach the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty – so we can kiss goodbye to another means of preventing proliferation.

But the biggest disaster was Bush’s meeting with Manmohan Singh a fortnight ago. India is one of three states which possess nuclear weapons and refuse to sign the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). The treaty says it should be denied access to civil nuclear materials. But on July 18th, Bush announced that “as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology, India should acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states.” He would “work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India” and “seek agreement from Congress to adjust U.S. laws and policies”.(10) Four months before the meeting, the US lifted its South Asian arms embargo, by selling Pakistan a fleet of F-16 aircraft, capable of a carrying a wide range of missiles, and India an anti-missile system.(11) As a business plan, it’s hard to fault.

Here then is how it works. If you acquire the bomb and threaten to use it, you will qualify for American exceptionalism by proxy. Could there be a greater incentive for proliferation?
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Posted by Ian at 10:08 AM
August 01, 2005
Born into the wrong family...

Now, my Italian-Irish immigrant genes seems to be doing me no good (not that I ever bothered to "measure" my intelligence), what I needed was אַשְׁכֲּנָזִי אַשְׁכֲּנָזִים (Ashkenazi Jewish) persecution-honed intellect; that is if we are to believe the evolution driven hypothesis for the Ashkenazim's higher IQ:

Read the New York Times article, or the original research PDF for more...

My rating for this: plausible yet unsupported.

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Posted by Ian at 02:53 PM
Cephalopod-love II

The male giant squid has to use a puny 15-gram brain to coordinate 150 kilograms of weight, 10 metres of length and a 1.5-metre-long penis," he says. "He physically plunges this penis into the female's arms, which are rather unfortunately right next to her beak. Because he is coordinating so much with so little, I think occasionally bits get chewed off when they inadvertently get too close to the beak.

My love affair with cephalopods remains unabated, I often think reincarnation as any member of my tentacled brethren seems wonderful; though now if it were as a male Architeuthis dux it may give me pause for thought…

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Posted by Ian at 01:26 PM