Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘nuclear proliferation

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A big post, catching up from most of last week:

* With the success of 2009’s “District 9” still fresh in their minds, producers are cherry-picking South African sci-fi properties, making it one of hottest genres this side of Swedish crime fiction.

* Science fiction on the BBC: A brief history of all-women societies.

Top Five Most Destroyed Canadian Cities in the Marvel Universe.

* News from MLA! Dissing the Dissertation. Anguish Trumps Activism at the MLA.

* News from my childhood: Another new version of Dungeons & Dragons is on the way. MetaFilter agonizes.

* News from the Montana Supreme Court: “Corporations are not persons. Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people — human beings — to share fundamental, natural rights with soulless creatures of government…”

* News from the future right now: Record Heat Floods America With Temperatures 40 Degrees Above Normal.

How College Football Bowls Earn Millions In Profits But Pay Almost Nothing In Taxes.

* Colbert vs. Colbert.

* Matt Taibbi vs. Iowa.

And what ends up happening there is that the candidate with the big stack of donor money always somehow manages to survive the inevitable scandals and tawdry revelations, while the one who’s depending on checks from grandma and $25 internet donations from college students always winds up mysteriously wiped out.

* Learning From The Masters: Level Design In The Legend Of Zelda.

How The Cave of Time taught us to love interactive entertainment.

* Inside the Shel Silverstein archive.

* While genomic research on the super-old is in its very early stages, what’s fascinating is what the researchers are not finding. These people’s genomes are fundamentally the same as other people’s. They are clearly very special, but not in ways that are obvious.

* What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2012? Under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Works from 1955.

* The headline reads, “Quadriplegic Undocumented Immigrant Dies In Mexico After Being Deported From His Hospital Bed.”

Dallas teen missing since 2010 was mistakenly deported.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Arkham Asylum.

Pepsi Says Mountain Dew Can Dissolve Mouse Carcasses. Keep in mind: that’s their defense.

“Out of the crooked timber of humanity,” Kant wrote, “no straight thing was ever made.” Not even an iPad.

Obama Openly Asks Nation Why On Earth He Would Want To Serve For Another Term.

* Romney: Elected office is for the rich.

* What if Obama loses?

* How banks and debt collectors are bringing dead debt back to life.

People who stop paying bills earn lousy credit ratings but eventually are freed of old debt under statutes of limitations that vary by state and range from three years to 10 years from the last loan payment.

But if a debtor agrees to make even a single payment on an expired debt, the clock starts anew on some part of the old obligation, a process called “re-aging.”

So if borrowers again fall behind on their payments, debt collectors can turn to their usual tools: letters, phone calls and lawsuits. By restarting a debt’s statute of limitations, the collectors have years to retrieve payments.

* A Q&A with Louis C.K.

* Wells Tower: In Gold We Trust.

* Epic Doctor Who Timeline. More here.

* Battlestar Galactica: Totally planned. See also.

* How to Get a Nuclear Bomb.

The cast of Community plays pop culture trivia.

* “White House Denies CIA Teleported Obama to Mars.”

Classified docs reveal why Tolkien failed to win ’61 Nobel Prize!

* Solve the Fermi Paradox the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal way.

* And you probably already saw Paypal’s latest outrage, but man, it’s a doozy.


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A five-year investigation by DVB has uncovered evidence that Burma is embarking on a programme to develop nuclear weaponry. Apparently the purpose of such weapons would be deterrence not of other nations but of internal enemies of the state. Via MetaFilter.


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Nuclear proliferation is still very, very scary, as Joseph Cirincione explains in the most recent The New York Review of Books:

Jonathan Schell’s The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger picks up where Rhodes leaves off, examining the essential question: What are nuclear weapons for? Invented to counter Germany, dropped on Japan, deployed against the Soviet Union, nuclear weapons, Schell writes, lost any conceivable rational purpose after the end of the cold war. What nation, what threat now justifies thousands of them? Or any? After the cold war, Schell writes,

The number of nuclear weapons continued to drop, but the essential features of the mutual annihilation machine remained intact. The question of why the former Cold War rivals wanted nuclear weapons was forgotten, and their arsenals drifted into a kind of policy-free zone. Unsustained by Cold War rationales but not yet assigned any new ones, they seemed to exist for their own sakes, leaving a strong feeling that in the new era, missions would be sought for nuclear weapons rather than the other way around.

Why is this dangerous system persisting? Schell believes that the policies of the current administration are largely to blame:

The distance of Bush’s policies from previous American non-proliferation policy is hard to overstate. Every previous American president in the nuclear age had relied on peaceful means to stop proliferation…. Preventive war had on occasion been proposed by presidential advisers but was always rejected…. President Bush’s demotion of diplomacy and treaties across the board was as clear as his elevation of force. In decision after decision, his administration tore at the web of arms control treaties that had grown up over four decades.

Schell argues convincingly that plans by the Bush administration for new nuclear weapons and for new uses for these weapons—such as bunker-busting deep penetration bombs— swung nuclear policy sharply away from deterrence and in the direction of nuclear use. “The mission of nuclear weapons is no longer to produce stalemate with a peer,” Schell writes; “it is to fight and win wars against nations with little or no ability to respond.” As if to demonstrate Schell’s point, four of the Republican presidential candidates discussed using nuclear weapons against Iran in a CNN debate on June 5, 2007.

Republicans, of course, are pretty scary too.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 18, 2008 at 2:11 pm