Monday, November 30, 2015

why there is NO such thing as international terrorism


tikkun |  There is no such thing as “international terrorism”.

To declare war on “international terrorism” is nonsense. Politicians who do so are either fools or cynics, and probably both.

Terrorism is a weapon. Like cannon. We would laugh at somebody who declares war on “international artillery”. A cannon belongs to an army, and serves the aims of that army. The cannon of one side fire against the cannon of the other.

Terrorism is a method of operation. It is often used by oppressed peoples,  including the French Resistance to the Nazis in WW II.  We would laugh at anyone who declared war on “international resistance”.

Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian military thinker, famously said that “war is the continuation of politics by other means”. If he had lived with us today, he might have said: “Terrorism is a continuation of policy by other means.”

Terrorism means, literally, to frighten the victims into surrendering to the will of the terrorist.

Terrorism is a weapon. Generally it is the weapon of the weak. Of those who have no atom bombs, like the ones which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which terrorized the Japanese into surrender. Or the aircraft which destroyed Dresden in the (vain) attempt to frighten the Germans into giving up.

Since most of the groups and countries using terrorism have different aims, often contradicting each other, there is nothing “international” about it. Each terrorist campaign has a character of its own. Not to mention the fact that nobody considers himself (or herself) a terrorist, but rather a fighter for God, Freedom or Whatever.

(I cannot restrain myself from boasting that long ago I invented the formula: “One man’s terrorist is the other man’s freedom fighter”.)

MANY ORDINARY Israelis felt deep satisfaction after the Paris events. “Now those bloody Europeans feel for once what we feel all the time!”

Binyamin Netanyahu, a diminutive thinker but a brilliant salesman, has hit on the idea of inventing a direct link between jihadist terrorism in Europe and Palestinian terrorism in Israel and the occupied territories.

It is a stroke of genius: if they are one and the same, knife-wielding Palestinian teenagers and Belgian devotees of ISIS, then there is no Israeli-Palestinian problem, no occupation, no settlements. Just Muslim fanaticism. (Ignoring, by the way, the many Christian Arabs in the secular Palestinian “terrorist” organizations.)

This has nothing to do with reality. Palestinians who want to fight and die for Allah go to Syria. Palestinians – both religious and secular – who shoot, knife or run over Israeli soldiers and civilians these days want freedom from the occupation and a state of their own.

This is such an obvious fact that even a person with the limited IQ of our present cabinet ministers could grasp it. But if they did, they would have to face very unpleasant choices concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

So let’s stick to the comfortable conclusion: they kill us because they are born terrorists, because they want to meet the promised 72 virgins in paradise, because they are anti-Semites. So, as Netanyahu happily forecasts, we shall “live forever by our sword”.

a kurdish region in northern syria that’s ruled by militant feminist anarchists?

slate |  There is an astonishing story in Sunday’s New York Times about Rojava, a Kurdish region in Northern Syria that’s ruled by militant feminist anarchists. Rojava’s constitution enshrines gender equality and religious freedom. An official tells journalist Wes Enzina that every position at every level of government includes a female equivalent of equal power. Recruits to Rojava’s 6,000-strong police force receive their weapons only after two weeks of feminist instruction. Reading Enzina’s piece, it’s hard to understand how this radical experiment in democracy in one of the bloodiest corners of the world isn’t better known internationally, particularly on the left.
 At the start of piece, Enzina himself isn’t quite sure Rojava is real. It sounds too fantastical:
The regime of President Bashar al-Assad doesn’t officially recognize Rojava’s autonomous status, nor does the United Nations or NATO — it is, in this way, just as illicit as the Islamic State. But if the reports I heard from the region were to be believed, within its borders the rules of the neighboring ISIS caliphate had been inverted. In accordance with a philosophy laid out by a leftist revolutionary named Abdullah Ocalan, Rojavan women had been championed as leaders, defense of the environment enshrined in law and radical direct democracy enacted in the streets.
The reports, Enzina eventually finds, are largely true. In Rojava’s three Kurdish cantons, together comprising an area about the size of Connecticut, society is being organized according to the principles of an American anarchist-ecologist philosopher named Murray Bookchin. (Bookchin’s most famous work is The Ecology of Freedom.) This unlikely turn of events springs from the ideological conversion of Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or P.K.K., which was once a Marxist Leninist terrorist group in Turkey—and in fact, the P.K.K. is still designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the E.U., and NATO.* With America’s help, Turkey captured Ocalan in 1999, and he was imprisoned alone—surrounded by over 1,000 soldiers—on an island near Istanbul. There he discovered Bookchin, who inspired a manifesto he issued in 2005. Enzina writes:

refugee camps are the "cities of tomorrow"?

dezeen |   Governments should stop thinking about refugee camps as temporary places, says Kilian Kleinschmidt, one of the world's leading authorities onhumanitarian aid (+ interview).
"These are the cities of tomorrow," said Kleinschmidt of Europe's rapidly expanding refugee camps. "The average stay today in a camp is 17 years. That's a generation."
"In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city," he told Dezeen.
Kleinschmidt said a lack of willingness to recognise that camps had become a permanent fixture around the world and a failure to provide proper infrastructure was leading to unnecessarily poor conditions and leaving residents vulnerable to "crooks".
"I think we have reached the dead end almost where the humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis," he said. "We're doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the second world war. Nothing has changed."
Kleinschmidt, 53, worked for 25 years for the United Nations and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in various camps and operations worldwide. He was most recently stationed in Zaatari in Jordan, the world's second largest refugee camp – before leaving to start his own aid consultancy, Switxboard.

He believes that migrants coming into Europe could help repopulate parts of Spain and Italy that have been abandoned as people gravitate increasingly towards major cities.
"Many places in Europe are totally deserted because the people have moved to other places," he said. "You could put in a new population, set up opportunities to develop and trade and work. You could see them as special development zones which are actually used as a trigger for an otherwise impoverished neglected area."

Sunday, November 29, 2015

13 yr. old got enough sense to finally disavow coon-serva-tard-ism....,

theblaze |  Pearson attributed his decision, at least in part, to seeing the video of a Chicago police officer fatally shooting LaQuan McDonald.
“I’m not interested in being a champion of a cause that turns a blind eye to racial discrimination and police brutality in America,” Pearson, 13, said in a statement. “I also don’t want to be the ‘anti-Obama kid.’ I want to be the kid who fought for real change and worked with both sides to achieve a better America.”
In an interview with TheBlaze Friday evening, Pearson said he was still fiscally conservative but socially liberal except when it comes to the issue of abortion.
“I’m tired of labels. I’m ready for solutions to the issues facing the American people,” Pearson continued.
From endorsing Republican Sen. Rand Paul for president to working on fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign to disavowing conservatism — Pearson told TheBlaze Friday evening that it just might be Sen. Marco Rubio who the viral teenager finally throws his support behind.
“Right now, the best candidate tackling race relations that I, with my beliefs could get behind, is [Florida Sen.] Marco Rubio,” Pearson told TheBlaze, adding that he doesn’t see himself working for any other campaigns this presidential cycle.
Pearson said that working for Cruz’s campaign had nothing to do with his decision to distance himself from the conservative label and admonished that he is “no Jonathan Krohn” — the 13-year-old who spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2009 but denounced conservatism just a few years later while attributing his previous views to his “naivety.”

do you ever wonder what your anthropocene antics look like from the bacterial apex?

pnas |  In most ecosystems, microbes are the dominant consumers, commandeering much of the heterotrophic biomass circulating through food webs. Characterizing functional diversity within the microbiome, therefore, is critical to understanding ecosystem functioning, particularly in an era of global biodiversity loss. Using isotopic fingerprinting, we investigated the trophic positions of a broad diversity of heterotrophic organisms. Specifically, we examined the naturally occurring stable isotopes of nitrogen (15N:14N) within amino acids extracted from proteobacteria, actinomycetes, ascomycetes, and basidiomycetes, as well as from vertebrate and invertebrate macrofauna (crustaceans, fish, insects, and mammals). Here, we report that patterns of intertrophic 15N-discrimination were remarkably similar among bacteria, fungi, and animals, which permitted unambiguous measurement of consumer trophic position, independent of phylogeny or ecosystem type. The observed similarities among bacterial, fungal, and animal consumers suggest that within a trophic hierarchy, microbiota are equivalent to, and can be interdigitated with, macrobiota. To further test the universality of this finding, we examined Neotropical fungus gardens, communities in which bacteria, fungi, and animals are entwined in an ancient, quadripartite symbiosis. We reveal that this symbiosis is a discrete four-level food chain, wherein bacteria function as the apex carnivores, animals and fungi are meso-consumers, and the sole herbivores are fungi. Together, our findings demonstrate that bacteria, fungi, and animals can be integrated within a food chain, effectively uniting the macro- and microbiome in food web ecology and facilitating greater inclusion of the microbiome in studies of functional diversity.

Revelation 2: 12-13 (Pergamum = Turkey)

buchanan |  Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian warplane was a provocative and portentous act.

That Sukhoi Su-24, which the Turks say intruded into their air space, crashed and burned — in Syria. One of the Russian pilots was executed while parachuting to safety. A Russian rescue helicopter was destroyed by rebels using a U.S. TOW missile. A Russian marine was killed.

“A stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists,” said Vladimir Putin of the first downing of a Russian warplane by a NATO nation in half a century. Putin has a point, as the Russians are bombing rebels in northwest Syria, some of which are linked to al-Qaida.

As it is impossible to believe Turkish F-16 pilots would fire missiles at a Russian plane without authorization from President Tayyip Recep Erdogan, we must ask: Why did the Turkish autocrat do it?

Why is he risking a clash with Russia?

Answer: Erdogan is probably less outraged by intrusions into his air space than by Putin’s success in securing the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, whom Erdogan detests, and by relentless Russian air strikes on Turkmen rebels seeking to overthrow Assad.

Imperiled strategic goals and ethnicity may explain Erdogan. But what does the Turkish president see down at the end of this road?

And what about us? Was the U.S. government aware Turkey might attack Russian planes? Did we give Erdogan a green light to shoot them down?

These are not insignificant questions.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

belief means not wanting to know what is true - nietzsche

zerohedge |  Six months later, it looks like those plans are on track. As WSJ reports on Friday, "China plans to build its first overseas naval installation in the East African nation of Djibouti, expanding the geographical reach of its armed forces as Beijing seeks to protect its growing economic and security interests around the globe."
True to form, China is attempting to downplay the effort, calling the installation a "support facility." "This facility will better ensure that the Chinese military can carry out responsibilities such as international peacekeeping, naval escorts in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, and humanitarian assistance,” a defense ministry spokesman said.
As WSJ goes on to note, "China has often cited its lack of foreign bases as evidence of peaceful intentions, but has been rapidly expanding its military capabilities in recent years to defend its regional territorial claims and project power far into the Pacific and Indian oceans and the Mediterranean."
The US - which also has a base in Djibouti - is adopting Washington's trademark condescending paternalism in discussions with the country's government. "We definitely have concerns and parameters that were communicated in terms of how we think they should manage Chinese or anyone else entering into what is already a fairly congested space."
Here's a bit of useful color from The New York Times:
China announced on Thursday that it would establish its first overseas military outpost and unveiled a sweeping plan to reorganize its military into a more agile force capable of projecting power abroad.

The outpost, in the East African nation of Djibouti, breaks with Beijing’s longstanding policy against emulating the United States in building military facilities abroad.

By establishing an outpost in the Horn of Africa — more than 4,800 miles away from Beijing and near some of the world’s most volatile regions — President Xi Jinping is leading the military beyond its historical focus on protecting the nation’s borders.

Together with the plan for new command systems to integrate and rebalance the armed forces, the two announcements highlight the breadth of change that Mr. Xi is pushing on the People’s Liberation Army, which for decades has served primarily as a lumbering guardian of Communist Party rule.

A presence in Djibouti would be China’s first overseas logistics facility to service its military vessels since the Communists took power, said David Finkelstein, director of China studies at CNA, an independent research institute in Arlington, Va.

“In the grand sweep of post-1949 Chinese history, this announcement is yet another indicator that Chinese policy is trying to catch up with national interests that have expanded faster than the capacity of the People’s Republic of China to service them,” Mr. Finkelstein said.

The new facility would enable the navy to live up to a strategy laid down this year by the Communist Party in a major defense document, known as a white paper, that outlined its ambitions to become a global maritime power.

China has invested heavily in Djibouti’s infrastructure, including hundreds of millions of dollars spent upgrading the country’s undersize port. It has also financed a railroad extending from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Djibouti, a project that cost billions of dollars. The country has a population of about 900,000, many of whom live in poverty.

Strategically, Djibouti offers an excellent place from which to protect oil imports from the Middle East that traverse the Indian Ocean on their way to China, military experts say. From Djibouti, China gains greater access to the Arabian Peninsula.
Indeed they do, and that means not only will Beijing be able to keep a close eye on seaborne crude, they'll also be better prepared to intervene in Mid-East affairs should the situation call for it.

Friday, November 27, 2015

choose NOT to waste life in an ill-fitting and uncomfortable suit...,

Body and Mature Behavior  |  In all neurotic states we find anxiety, nausea, giddiness, museular tension, digestive and breathing troubles and sexual disorders of some sort. So long as there is no improvement in these troubles there is no improvement in the general state and vice-versa. Muscular tension and anxiety are invariably so closely interwoven in all states of emotional disorder that it is difficult to'see how any real advancement towards clearer understanding of the nature of cures is possible without greater knowledge of the phenomenon of anxiety.

A number of facts must be brought together to give at least a direction for constructive thought. Lesions destroying exactly the same areas in two adult brains do not cause the same symptoms. The life experience of the brain is in some way written in the cortex. "Even in the excitable motor cortex (Sir Charles P • .symonds, President of the Royal Society of Psychiatry), where functional patterns are relatively stable, it is evident that response depends on individual experience. Whether extension or flexion will take place in a digit depends on what has just happened, not only at this point of the cortex but in the sensory cortex behind it." Emotional tensions affect the cortex via the vegetative nervous system. All neurotic symptoms are intimately connected with and express themselves by affecting the relationship of the person to other persons or society in general.

It is of the greatest importance to be quite clear on what is amenable to human influence. If behaviour means all response to stimulus, we must distinguish between reflex responses which are by definition outside human influence, and those, formed under the influence of environment after birth, which are likely to be influenced by change of environment a priori.

A reflex activity is a biological inheritance generally common to a whole group of animals and it is essentially immaterial whether the individual has had any previous experience or not, since the first stimulus will elicit the same response as the second. Subject to the laws governing fatigue of the nervous cell and some other laws, the response is elicited every time the irritation occurs. Such inheritance is genetic, i.e., handed down to each individual through the genes of the species, and we can do little to alter it unless we can modify the genes of the species. If we could modify the genes we would obtain a new species in which the modified genes would be perpetuated in all subsequent generations. Any behaviour that is not handed down to subsequent generations in accordance with the general laws of inheritance is not ofa genetic character, and is therefore an acquired response or an acquired behaviour. It follows that human behaviour is so essentially acquired that some of our most cherished beliefs unquestionably need revision.

Acquired behaviour is the result of interaction of the genetic entity with its environment. Thus it seems legitimate to assert that, provided the environment can be altered, the acquired behaviour would undergo change. In other words, all characteristic be .. haviour that does not obey the laws of inheritance is amenable to environmental influence.

The conclusion just reached is rich in consequences, especially if we consider genetic inheritance to embrace complex as well as simple reflexes. For complex sequences or a simultaneous combi .. nation of simple reflexes is the physiologist'S definition of an instinct.

This important conclusion results then, that true instinctive behaviour alone is impervious to experience and environment. More precisely, only those responses that cannot be elicited after an alteration in the nervous paths concerned are instinctive; all other behaviour is acquired and has nothing permanent about it but our belief that it is so.

It is in this connection that the study offunction and structure relations appears in its full significance. In every case where the actual use made of the body can be shown to account for the physical structure, it becomes certain that the particular shape of the structure, though it may be similar to that of the parent, is still amenable to human influence.

This approach makes it imperative that answers to many problems will have to be revised in the light of better knowledge of the functioning of the nervous system.
The revision of all human behaviour in the light of our conclusions is beyond the scope of this book, or anyone book for that matter. We will, however, treat some important particular instances fairly exhaustively.

Modern psychology is well aware of the importance of environment in the final make-up or personality, but its approach is timid and piecemeal. Some workers stress the importance of one group of conditions, some of another. Thus the Freudian school established that neuroses and psychoses are due to conflicts arising in the mind in the process of adjustment; but psychoanalysis accepted implicitly the existing laws of society, religion and family as sacrosanct. Every individual must accept these whether he wants to or not, ifhe is to be normal.

The possibility of the fault being in the very conditions to which the individual is called to adjust himself might have been faintly understood but was never expressed. It was, and with many analysts still is, the rule that the patient's marital and other relations of social origin are not to be manipulated by the therapist. His job was to make the patient accept what Tom, Dick and Harry do.

However, the rapid development of analysis showed that Tom, Dick and Harry do not accept, what the patient is induced to accept, with such unreserved completeness as the layman thinks ; that neuroses of all degrees of gravity are, in fact, widespread in all layers of society; it thus became more and more difficult to expect the patient to succeed where so many fail.

The obvious way out was to attack the immutability of the social laws, habits and traditions themselves. The attack shifted from sexual conflicts to those arising from family conditions, and at present the full weight of attack is thrown against the beliefs, traditions and economic conditions which are the foundation of our society.

Every such attack has met great antagonism, the bitterest fight being put up by the protagonists of the established school who cling to their teachings with the same tenacity as the public to their traditions.

It is hard to deny that the traditional foundations of our social structure need thorough revision. No objective observer, free of prejudice, will argue against the necessity of radical changes. Some will prefer gradual adjustment, some drastic change, but change there will be. Indeed change is 'already being effected. In such changes lies hope for a better future. A social structure in which economic and marital conditions are devised to mini~ mise and perhaps eliminate the greater difficulties of adjustments, should in time reduce the present increasing number of malad~ justments and mental conflicts.

Yet there is no room for complacency. The fact that antagonism to revision of old notions is as strong among analysts as among laymen shows that either the analysis they undergo is not carried far enough, or that analysis cannot completely eradicate bad habits.

While expecting hopefully that the environment will be changed by our collective efforts, we must also make sure that everything amenable to human influence in each individual is used to facilitate adaptation. This will not only eliminate much misery in the present generation but will also give a better chance to the next.

In anticipation of our conclusions it may be said at once that we do tolerate certain limitations, physical and mental, just because we do not know that they are amenable to our influence. The results of faulty habits are called character or chronic diseases which, as their name suggests, are incurable. And improper use of oneself is explained as unfortunate inheritance or permanent deformation. Degeneration of the human species is so often in~ voked as confirmation of the futility of all endeavour to improve, that it seems proper to see what truth there is in it.

fearless access and exposure maximization separates life's winners from its losers...,

WaPo |  Over the past four decades, whenever universities have faced complaints about exclusion or racism — often real — the solution proposed and usually accepted has been to create more programs, associations and courses for minority students. This is understandable, because these groups have been historically ignored, slighted and demeaned. But is this solution working, or is it making things worse?

A 2004 empirical study led by Harvard University psychologist James Sidanius (who is African American) concluded that “there was no indication that the experiences in these ethnically oriented . . . organizations increased the students’ sense of common identity with members of other groups or their sense of belonging to the wider university community. Furthermore . . . the evidence suggested that membership in ethnically oriented student organizations actually increased the perception that ethnic groups are locked into zero-sum competition with one another and the feeling of victimization by virtue of one’s ethnicity.”

The academic programs that have been created and expanded also reinforce feelings of separateness. Again, there was a need for greater attention to many of the areas of study, and some extraordinary scholarship has been produced in these fields. But the cumulative effect is one that distinguished scholar Tony Judt wrote about in an essay for the New York Review of Books in 2010. “Undergraduates today can select from a swathe of identity studies: ‘gender studies,’ ‘women’s studies,’ ‘Asian-Pacific-American studies,’ and dozens of others,” he noted. “The shortcoming of all these para-academic programs is not that they concentrate on a given ethnic or geographical minority; it is that they encourage members of that minority to study themselves — thereby simultaneously negating the goals of a liberal education and reinforcing the sectarian and ghetto mentalities they purport to undermine. All too frequently, such programs are job-creation schemes for their incumbents, and outside interest is actively discouraged. Blacks study blacks, gays study gays, and so forth.”

Thursday, November 26, 2015

the future of ethereum?

ethdev |  To research, design and build software that, as best as possible, facilitates, in a secure, decentralised and fair manner, the communication and automatically-enforced agreement between parties.

The facilitation will necessitate the building of tools to aid users and developers alike to utilise the back-end systems and make them as effective as possible in their facilities. It is anticipated that these tools will include the development of consumer-grade end-user components (the so-called Ethereum Browser) together with IDE-like components and associated tools. It will also mean the provision of certain high-level (on-the-system) functions, modules, examples, templates, standards and live services without which development and interoperation would suffer.

Security will likely entail use of strong cryptographic technologies, but could also use various other technologies including, but not limited to verifiable computation, computational steganography, complex-systems modelling and formal proof systems.

Fairness must be absolutely guaranteed throughout. We agree that this is pure technology and must make no affordances to the beliefs of any single actor against any other. The system must never even have the possibility of disadvantaging a single user or organisation over any other. We accept that full decentralisation is pivotal in accomplishing this.

Forward-enforceable agreement between arbitrary sets of parties is a core goal, however to achieve this goal, parties must be able to determine the existence and volition of the other. Communication methods must be provided, on the same technological basis, to facilitate this.

It is anticipated that the use of consensus-based blockchain technology using a Turing-complete VM within its transaction resolver and an arbitrarily large state space, such as that first proposed by Buterin (2013) and an evolution of which was formalised by Wood (2014) will be pivotal in the initial delivery.

It is also anticipated that additional research will need to be conducted, both internally and externally in order to deliver solutions of increasing concordance with these broad goals.

what is ethereum?

wikipedia | Purpose The stated purpose of the Ethereum project is to "decentralize the web" by introducing four components as part of its roadmap: static content publication, dynamic messages, trustless transactions and an integrated user-interface.[6] Each of these services is designed to replace some aspect of the systems currently used in the modern web, but to do so in a fully decentralised and pseudonymous manner.[7]

Ethereum is an open source project. Development began in December 2013, with the first Go and C++ proof of concept builds (PoC1) being released in early February 2014.[8] Since then, several further PoC builds have been released, culminating with the public launch of the Ethereum blockchain on 30 July 2015.
The currency unit of Ethereum is the Ether, used to pay for computational services on the network.
To finance development, Ethereum distributed the initial allocation of Ethers via a 42-day public crowdsale, netting 31,591 bitcoins, worth $18,439,086 at that time, in exchange for about 60,102,216 Ethers.[12][citation needed]

Ether is divided into smaller units of currency called finney, szabo, shannon, babbage, lovelace, and wei (named after Wei Dai, the creator of b-money). Each larger unit is equal to 1000 of the next lower unit.[13] In practice, however, the developers encourage the use of ether and wei. Wei is the base unit of implementation and cannot be further divided.

Smart contracts on Ethereum
Smart contracts are computer protocols which verify or enforce the performance of a contractual agreement. On Ethereum, contracts can be written in one of the following four languages: Solidity (a JavaScript-like language), Serpent (a Python-like language), Mutan (C-like) and LLL (Lisp-like). They are compiled into bytecode before being deployed to the blockchain.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

inconceivable that humans are the most intelligent animals on the planet

upliftconnect |  Mammals like us, who have been on the planet a whole lot longer than us, who also have larger brains than us, is interesting to reflect on. We humans pride ourselves on technology, on creating tools, gadgets and machines. Of course it is easy to consider that intelligence is based on technology. Then there is the idea of emotional intelligence which acknowledges a form of intelligence which is internal, can not be easily measured empirically but plays a major role in the success of an individual. Intuition, compassion, empathy are usually considered feelings, but these are skills, non-physical tools that we can use to ascend the social ladder. Meditation could also be considered a non-physical tool that changes our biology, reduces stress and opens the mind. We may be at the very beginning of understanding that tools do not need to be physical or easily measurable by traditional science in order to be valuable.

We willingly accept the idea of intelligence in a life-form only if the intelligence displayed is on the same evolutionary wavelength as our own. Technology automatically indicates intelligence. An absence of technology translates into an absence of intelligence.Dolphins and whales do not display intelligence in a fashion recognizable to this conditioned perception of what intelligence is, and thus for the most part, we are blind to a broader definition of what intelligence can be.Evolution molds our projection of intelligence. Humans evolved as tool-makers, obsessed with danger and group aggression. This makes it very difficult for us to comprehend intelligent non-manipulative beings whose evolutionary history featured ample food supplies and an absence of fear from external dangers.  – Paul Watson

Again it is important to recognize how this attitude has not only been applied to animals, but also to indigenous people historically. How we define intelligence is restricted to our definition of intelligence. Are we willing to broaden our definition of intelligence?

Intelligence can also be measured by the ability to live within the bounds of the laws of ecology — to live in harmony with one’s own ecology and to recognize the limitations placed on each species by the needs of an ecosystem. Is the species that dwells peacefully within its habitat with respect for the rights of other species the one that is inferior? Or is it the species that wages a holy war against its habitat, destroying all species that irritate it? What can be said of a species that reproduces beyond the ability of its habitat to support it? What do we make of a species that destroys the diversity that sustains the ecosystem that nourishes it? How is a species to be judged that fouls its water and poisons its own food? On the other hand, how is a species that has lived harmoniously within the boundaries of its ecology to be judged?  – Paul Watson

Watson gets very in-depth and cites the research which compares cranial capacity, and brain complexity between humans and sea mammals. At the very least this information is humbling. Paul Watson has given us a lot to think about, but probably the greatest gift in his essay can be summarized by this quote:

It’s not enough to understand the natural world, the point is to defend and preserve it. – Edward Abbey

Watson is not merely a philosopher, he puts his words and beliefs into action. For 35 years, Captain Paul Watson has been at the helm of the world’s most active marine non-profit organization – the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I highly recommend reading the entire essay which is available here.

ubiquitous indestructible cryptobiotic tards....,

theatlantic |  The toughest animals in the world aren't bulky elephants, or cold-tolerant penguins, or even the famously durable cockroach. Instead, the champions of durability are endearing microscopic creatures called tardigrades, or water bears.

They live everywhere, from the tallest mountains to the deepest oceans, and from hot springs to Antarctic ice. They can even tolerate New York. They cope with these inhospitable environments by transforming into a nigh-indestructible state. Their adorable shuffling gaits cease. Their eight legs curl inwards. Their rotund bodies shrivel up, expelling almost all of their water and becoming a dried barrel called a “tun.” Their metabolism dwindles to near-nothingness—they are practically dead. And in skirting the edge of death, they become incredibly hard to kill.

In the tun state, tardigrades don't need food or water. They can shrug off temperatures close to absolute zero and as high as 151 degrees Celsius. They can withstand the intense pressures of the deep ocean, doses of radiation that would kill other animals, and baths of toxic solvents. And they are, to date, the only animals that have been exposed to the naked vacuum of space and lived to tell the tale—or, at least, lay viable eggs. (Their only weakness, as a researcher once told me, is “vulnerability to mechanical damage;” in other words, you can squish ‘em.)

Scientists have known for centuries about the tardigrades’ ability to dry themselves out. But a new study suggests that this ability might have contributed to their superlative endurance in a strange and roundabout way. It makes them uniquely suited to absorbing foreign genes from bacteria and other organisms—genes that now pepper their genomes to a degree unheard of for animals.

Thomas Boothby from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made this discovery after sequencing the first ever tardigrade genome, to better understand how they have evolved. Of the 700 species, his team focused on Hypsibius dujardini, one of the few tardigrades that’s easy to grow and breed in a lab.

At first, Boothby thought his team had done a poor job of assembling the tardigrade’s genome. The resulting data was full of genes that seemed to belong to bacteria and other organisms, not animals. “All of us thought that these were contaminants,” he says. Perhaps microbes had snuck into the samples and their DNA was intermingled with the tardigrade’s own.

But the team soon realized that these sequences are bona fide parts of the tardigrade’s genome.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

control of fractal unfolding - impressive, most impressive...

Science | The war against malaria has a new ally: a controversial technology for spreading genes throughout a population of animals. Researchers report today that they have harnessed a so-called gene drive to efficiently endow mosquitoes with genes that should make them immune to the malaria parasite—and unable to spread it. On its own, gene drive won’t get rid of malaria, but if successfully applied in the wild the method could help wipe out the disease, at least in some corners of the world. The approach “can bring us to zero [cases],” says Nora Besansky, a geneticist at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, who specializes in malaria-carrying mosquitoes. “The mosquitos do their own work [and] reach places we can’t afford to go or get to.”

But testing that promise in the field may have to wait until a wider debate over gene drives is resolved. The essence of this long-discussed strategy for spreading a genetic trait, such as disease resistance, is to bias inheritance so that more than the expected half of a subsequent generation inherits it. The gene drive concept attracted new attention earlier this year, when geneticists studying fruit flies adapted a gene editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9 to help spread a mutation—and were startled to find it worked so well that the mutation reached almost all fly progeny. Their report, published this spring in Science (20 March, p. 1300) came out less than a year after an eLife paper discussed the feasibility of a CRISPR-Cas9 gene drive system but warned that it could disrupt ecosystems and wipe out populations of entire species.

A firestorm quickly erupted over the risks of experimenting with gene drives, nevermind applying them in the field. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has convened a committee to weigh the risks and propose safeguards, and the authors of the eLife andScience papers have laid out guidelines for experiments (Science, 28 August, p. 927).

intelligence is obviously built up from really primitive perceptual stream I/O...,

 a16z |  What is A.I. or artificial intelligence but the ‘space of possible minds’, argues Murray Shanahan, scientific advisor on the movie Ex Machina and Professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial College London.
In this special episode of the a16z Podcast brought to you on the ground from London, Shanahan — along with journalist-turned-entrepreneur Azeem Azhar (who also curates The Exponential View newsletter on AI and more) and The Economist Deputy Editor Tom Standage (the author of several tech history books) — we discuss the past, present, and future of A.I. … as well as how it fits (or doesn’t fit) with machine learning and deep learning.
But where are we now in the A.I. evolution? What players do we think will lead, if not win, the current race? And how should we think about issues such as ethics and automation of jobs without descending into obvious extremes? All this and more, including a surprise easter egg in Ex Machina shared by Shanahan, whose work influenced the movie.

isis now behind us, let's return our attention to important isht - Deep Mind's very basic parameters

wikidpedia |  DeepMind Technologies's goal is to "solve intelligence",[22] which they are trying to achieve by combining "the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purposelearning algorithms". [22] They are trying to formalize intelligence[23] in order to not only implement it into machines, but also understand the human brain, as Demis Hassabis explains:
[...] Attempting to distil intelligence into an algorithmic construct may prove to be the best path to understanding some of the enduring mysteries of our minds.
— Demis Hassabis, Nature (journal), 23 February 2012[24]
Currently the company's focus is on publishing research on computer systems that are able to play games, and developing these systems, ranging from strategy games such as Go[25] to arcade games. According to Shane Legg human-level machine intelligence can be achieved "when a machine can learn to play a really wide range of games from perceptual stream input and output, and transfer understanding across games[...]."[26] Research describing an AI playing seven different Atari video games (Pong,Breakout, Space Invaders, Seaquest, Beamrider, Enduro, and Q*bert) reportedly led to their acquisition by Google.[11]

Deep reinforcement learning[edit]

As opposed to other AI's, such as IBM's Deep Blue or Watson, which were developed for a pre-defined purpose and only function within its merit, DeepMind claims that their system is not pre-programmed: it learns from experience, using only raw pixels as data input. Technically it uses deep learning on aconvolutional neural network, with a novel form of Q-learning, a form of model-free reinforcement learning.[1][27] They test the system on video games, notably early arcade games, such as Space Invadersor Breakout.[27][28] Without altering the code, the AI begins to understand how to play the game, and after some time plays, for a few games (most notably Breakout), a more efficient game than any human ever could.[28] For most games though (Space Invaders, Ms Pacman, Q*Bert for example), DeepMind plays well below the current World Record. The application of DeepMind's AI to video games is currently for games made in the 1970s and 1980s, with work being done on more complex 3D games such as Doom, which first appeared in the early 1990s.[28]

Monday, November 23, 2015

khmer rouge and isis methodically manufactured using the same methods...,

counterpunch |  In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”.  As Barack Obama wages his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and Francois Hollande promises a “merciless” attack on that the rubble of Syria, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.

According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of “fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders”. Once Nixon’s and Kissinger’s B-52 bombers had gone to work as part of “Operation Menu”, the west’s ultimate demon could not believe his luck. The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They leveled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left giant necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors “froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told… That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over.” A Finnish Government Commission of Inquiry estimated that 600,000 Cambodians died in the ensuing civil war and described the bombing as the “first stage in a decade of genocide”. What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot, their beneficiary, completed. Under their bombs, the Khmer Rouge grew to a formidable army of 200,000.

ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of at least 700,000 people – in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.

Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda – like Pol Pot’s “jihadists” – seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of Shock and Awe and the civil war that followed. “Rebel” Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote, “The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy – and in particular our Middle East wars – had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here.”

ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington, London and Paris who, in conspiring to destroy Iraq, Syria and Libya, committed an epic crime against humanity. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, ISIS are the mutations of a western state terror dispensed by a venal imperial elite undeterred by the consequences of actions taken at great remove in distance and culture. Their culpability is unmentionable in “our” societies, making accomplices of those who suppress this critical truth.