Hyperloop would work by sending an elevated train through a vacuum-sealed tube that cuts air resistance to that of a jet cruising at altitude, enabling it to travel an average of 600 miles per hour while maxing out at 760 mph. Imagine living at one end of California and commuting to a job at the other end — it opens up a number of lifestyle and economic opportunities that would change a lot about how people live and work.
But $16 billion is a heavy price, beyond the reach of most private industry and perhaps even out of reach of government subsidy. For example, the United States government will supply Amtrak with $340 million to boost its rail infrastructure in 2015, just 1/47 of what it would cost to build the Hyperloop.
Fossilized rod and cone cells — the kinds that help people see — have been discovered for the first time, researchers say.
The finding reveals that such eye cells have existed for at least 300 million years, and that the ancient fish they were discovered in likely saw in color, according to the study’s scientists.
Human vision depends on pigments that absorb light. These pigments lie inside cells known as rods and cones. Cones are sensitive to color and also help perceive fine detail and rapid changes. Rods are more sensitive to light than cones, but are not sensitive to color, and are responsible for peripheral and night vision. Both rods and cones are found in a layer of tissue in the back of the eye known as the retina.
For the first time, a majority of Americans are living in states that allows gay marriage. After a year of cascading court opinions tossing out many remaining restrictions, the dynamic in 2014 changed from how many states allow same-sex marriage to how many states don’t.
At year-end, gay marriage is legally approved in 35 states and the District of Columbia, and court reviews are pending in many others.
The federal government took action as well, with Attorney General Eric Holder extending new federal recognition to same-sex marriages in many states and announcing that same-sex spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other and should be eligible to file jointly for bankruptcy, among other federal guarantees.
For what it is worth…
Hillary Clinton holds a massive lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a new poll released by CNN.
The CNN/ORC poll released Sunday finds that Clinton leads by 57 points, 66 percent to 9 percent, over Warren. That lead is essentially unchanged from a CNN poll in November, when Clinton was up 65 percent to 10 percent.
Warren insists she is not running, despite an effort by liberal groups like moveon.org to convince her to run.
Vice President Biden, who is also uncertain to run, comes in next, at 8 percent. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is looking to challenge Clinton from the left, gets 3 percent.
Google Inc’s Gmail was blocked in China after months of disruptions to the world’s biggest email service, with an anti-censorship advocate suggesting the Great Firewall was to blame.
Large numbers of Gmail web addresses were cut off in China on Friday, said greatfire.org, a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group. Users said the service was still down on Monday.
“I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google’s presence in China and even weaken its market overseas,” said a member of greatfire.org, who uses a pseudonym.
“Imagine if Gmail users might not get through to Chinese clients. Many people outside China might be forced to switch away from Gmail.”
More: Gmail Blocked in China
That’s the second attack in Sweden in less than a week. Naturally, the anti-Muslim hate sites are claiming that the fires are inside jobs (for the insurance money) or false flag attacks because, presumably, non-Muslim Europeans can’t possibly be capable of bigotry & violence. Besides, everyone knows there’s no such thing as innocent Muslims. Or something along those lines. *sigh*
Emergency services were called to the mosque in Eslöv, a small city in the south of the country, at around 3.15am on Monday.
It is understood that the blaze began after flammable liquid caught fire in one of the rooms in the building.
Firefighters quickly arrived at the scene and were able to prevent the fire spreading, although the flames still caused minor damage to the building. Firefighters suspect foul play.
“There is no possible natural explanation for this type of fire to break out” by itself, fire department spokesman Gustaf Sandell told public radio.
Interesting new Wiki articles on the very high level Sigma Wargames run by the Pentagon in the 1960’s. The second of the series, the Sigma I-63 wargame, forecast the results of an intervention in Vietnam as:
Sigma I-63 was played in Spring 1963. It was held with senior level officials setting policy for the Red and Blue Teams. Working level officials were the actual players.
Ambassador William H. Sullivan was a participant. His recollection is that Sigma I-63 ended in a fictional 1970 with 500,000 American troops locked in a stalemate in Vietnam, and conscription riots in the United States.
The games in 64, 65 & so on didn’t get any more rosy. Sigma II-64 even predicted accurately that heavy use of air power would only stiffen the resolve of the North Vietnamese.
Sad how reality can be right there in our face yet we refuse to accept it…
Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.
According to Vatican insiders, Francis will meet other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, when countries will sign up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals.
In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. In October he told a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peasants and other social movements: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.
For my own part, I think he’s right in his reasoning to a point, but I hope that the dynamic power of capitalism can be turned to good purpose in addressing climate change. Like a knife, capitalism cuts what its edge is pointed at. Choose wisely your goals, and good tools will give good results. Capitalism doesn’t have to be in charge of our goals, any more than a knife must cut whatever it’s sharp enough to get through.
But yeah, if we make a god of money then things will not end well. Leaving aside the truth of the whole shebang of Catholicism, it ought to be clear that just by announcing that there are no other gods, Christianity, along with Judaism and Islam, helps us steer clear of worshipping at false altars. Like money.
An encouragement to be aware of the manipulative power of stories.
Audiobook playable at: theramintrees.bandcamp.com
Green, M.C. and Brock, T. (2000) The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 79 (5), pp.701-721
Appel, M. and Richter, T. (2007) Persuasive effects of fictional narratives increase over time. Media Psychology, Vol. 10 (1), pp.113-134
music (c) theramintrees
But the precise cause of this enhanced weekend mortality has been hard to determine; is it the reduced staff, a more leisurely approach to care, or some other factor? To try to get at the cause, some researchers obtained records of heart patients who had a critical event during a time when hospitals were at full staff, but heart specialists were likely to be out of town. Unexpectedly, they found that the patients did significantly better when the relevant specialists were unavailable.
The study relied on medicare records to track patients that were admitted to a hospital with a serious heart condition: acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, or cardiac arrest. The key measure was simply whether the patient was still alive 30 days later.
That may sound simple, but the rest of the analysis was remarkably sophisticated. To figure out when heart specialists were most likely to be present at hospitals, they selected two large cardiology meetings: the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, both of which attract over 10,000 participants. Patients admitted during the meetings were compared with groups admitted three weeks before and after. Reasoning that researchers are more likely to attend these meetings, they analyzed teaching hospitals separately from regular ones.