This page has several hours of YouTube videos of peaceful and serene music distributed over several playlists. Click on “continue reading” to show all playlists. Single click on a playlist to start playing. After that, double click on the playlist to make it full screen. Double click again to change it back. Several of the Continue reading »

The Case for a Slimy CAS

The following is a TED talk by Heather Barnett on slime molds. At 12:12 minutes it is a fascinating glimpse at an extraordinary organism.

A slime mold may exist as a single celled organism of the amoeba family. It has the unique ability, however to join – fuse – with other slime molds to create a single super cell. This composite organism is still a cell because it ha a contiguous cellular membrane. The difference from a normal cell which has a single nucleus is that it has multiple nuclei, one from each constituent member.

The video shows how it searches for food (energy) and the resulting structure that emerges. For more on slime molds go to The Slime Mould Collective

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Power Structures of Cities

We capture here, a TED talk on power in city politics. As we approach an in-depth look at cities from a CAS perspective

we were engaged by the idea. There are many social networks within a city but the network based on power may be the most important in terms of affecting the emergent structure of the city.

An idea that just popped up is the distinction of active and passive structures.

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Are We Ready for Ebola?

We have been tracking the Ebola outbreak for about three weeks. Some good articles on Ebola are beginning to appear and we will provide links to them. What follows are some observations and comments that have occurred to us.

Contrary to what we saw with a talking head on TV stating that Ebola is not airborne, research has shown that it is between monkeys and between pigs and monkeys (From Pigs to Monkeys, Ebola Goes Airborne). This suggests that its transmission may be airborne for humans also. According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

Infection occurs from direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people.

An infected person coughing or sneezing expels an aerosol of saliva and mucous secretion from the lungs. Given that the disease is haemorrhagic, we may expect blood to be in the aerosol also. Inhaling this aerosol places it directly in contact with the mucous membranes that surround the eyes and line the mouth, the airways and the lungs of healthy persons. The disease is airborne. Period. Or ask the medical staff who wear goggles and masks or complete hoods with rebreathers – just in case?

Is Shale Stale?

We follow the shale revolution from a distance lacking the bandwidth to tackle it head on. This note is a place holder for a couple of references that suggest that the exuberance over the shale revolution is misplaced. The tip-off article came from Zero Hedge: Wall Street’s Shale ‘Fraud’ Exposed. The principal link is to The site is cleanly designed with this introduction that links two reports on the topic. Points to ponder:

  • Six plays account for 88% of total shale gas production with well decline rates range from 80-95% after 36 months in the top five U.S. plays.
  • More than 80 percent of tight (shale) oil production is from two unique plays: the Bakken and the Eagle Ford with well decline rates from 81-90% in the first 24 months.
  • For the oil fields, 40% of production must be replaced annually to maintain current production levels.
  • Dry shale gas plays require $42 billion/year in capital investment to offset declines. With 2012 sales of $33 billion, excluding benefits from natural gas liquids produced, the industry is uneconomic based on the prices received.

We note that the entities responsible for the website and the reports may have biases that influence their content. The factual data, if it stands up to unbiased scrutiny, suggests that the impact of shale-sourced energy is more limited than is generally recognized, particularly at current prices.

The Economy As a Complex Adaptive System

We are not ready to address this topic in detail but we came across this TED talk that we capture below (20 minutes):

We have thoughts bubbling below the surface that are beginning to fix on the interactions or feedback loops between agent behavior and emergent behavior.

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Turkey’s Geographical Ambition

Editor’s Note: We originally ran this Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan column on May 1, 2013. We are republishing it in light of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Aug. 10 election as Turkey’s new president.

By Robert D. Kaplan and Reva Bhalla

At a time when Europe and other parts of the world are governed by forgettable mediocrities, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister for a decade now, seethes with ambition. Perhaps the only other leader of a major world nation who emanates such a dynamic force field around him is Russia’s Vladimir Putin, with whom the West is also supremely uncomfortable.

Erdogan and Putin are ambitious because they are men who unrepentantly grasp geopolitics. Putin knows that any responsible Russian leader ensures that Russia has buffer zones of some sort in places like Eastern Europe and the Caucasus; Erdogan knows that Turkey must become a substantial power in the Near East in order to give him leverage in Europe. Erdogan’s problem is that Turkey’s geography between East and West contains as many vulnerabilities as it does benefits. This makes Erdogan at times overreach. But there is a historical and geographical logic to his excesses.

The story begins after World War I.

Who Speaks for Civilization?

This essay is the third in a new series on Jerusalem and Moscow, Who Speaks for Civilization? We present this essay reprinted by permission of Paul and from The Bayview Review. See the links at the end for direct access to the rest of Paul’s work.

In a previous essay, “Genesis and Ideology of the Cold War,”, July 22, 2014) I spoke of the theological (or perhaps quasi-theological) aspect of the West’s anti-Communist rhetoric during the years of the early Cold War. Somewhere along the line, as our culture became anti-Christian and as our elected officials became embarrassed by religious expression, this theme went out of official rhetoric. Assisting this process, no doubt, was the fact that it became harder, during the Vietnam years, to sustain the thesis of an absolute moral difference between the causes of the Free World and those of the Communist World.

Running parallel to this history of retreat by politicians from the cause of “Christian” or “Judeo-Christian civilization is the story of abandonment by the once-established historic churches of their once-proud custody of Christian values.

“What’s Cookin’ Doc?”

It turns out the answer to the question is “not much”. We decided that given the new media fear phrase – “extreme weather” and recent reports of record temperatures (we see the Ottawa forecast for August 13 is a high of 17 degrees C) – that we should take a look at the global temperature situation now that we’re past the midpoint of 2014. Are we in imminent danger of species immolation or merely a comprehensive  fleecing from the carbon credit crowd? Click on images to open in new windows.

Beauty and the Beast: Mom’s Latest Child

The Ontario Government released a statement on August 8th titled Ontario Gains 15,100 Jobs in July. In The Real Job Situation in Ontario: Ugly we analyzed the employment numbers for Ontario for June, 2014. Overall we noted:

First we look at the last year’s worth of data in CANSIM Table 282-0087, Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by sex and age group, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted monthly. From June 2013 to June 2014, the number of people employed increased by 22,000. This is composed of an increase of 31,200 full-time jobs and a loss of 9,200 part-time jobs. This reflects a modest improvement, year over year, in the job situation with a net increase and a likely conversion of part-time into full-time jobs.

Now we get a look at Kathleen Wynne’s latest child, the July numbers. Turns out that June was Beauty and July is … well read on.

The End of Consensus Politics in China

By John Minnich

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign is the broadest and deepest effort to purge, reorganize and rectify the Communist Party leadership since the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and the rise of Deng Xiaoping two years later. It has already probed more than 182,000 officials across numerous regions and at all levels of government. It has ensnared low-level cadres, mid-level functionaries and chiefs of major state-owned enterprises and ministries. It has deposed top military officials and even a former member of the hitherto immune Politburo Standing Committee, China’s highest governing body. More than a year after its formal commencement and more than two years since its unofficial start with the downfall of Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, the campaign shows no sign of relenting.

It is becoming clear that this campaign is unlike anything seen under Presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Both carried out anti-corruption drives during their first year in office and periodically throughout their tenures as a means to strengthen their position within the Party and bureaucracy and to remind the public, however impotently, that Beijing still cared about its well being. But that was housekeeping. This appears to be different: longer, stronger, more comprehensive and more effective.

With this in mind, we ask: What is the fundamental purpose of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign? An attempt to answer this question will not tell us China’s political future, but it will tell us something about Xi’s strategy — not only for consolidating his personal influence within the Party, government and military apparatuses, but also and more important, for managing the immense social, economic, political and international pressures that are likely to come to a head in China during his tenure. Getting to the heart of the anti-corruption campaign — and therefore understanding its inner logic and direction — provides insights on the organization and deployment of political power in China and how those things are changing as the Party attempts to remake itself into an entity capable of ushering China safely through the transformation and crises to come.

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