Why the South China Seas are So Tense
Last month, Japanese activists planted their country’s flag on one of the Senkaku Islands (which the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands), a chain claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan. The move sparked protests in China and inspired headlines in the West, but the provocation was hardly surprising. The three bodies of water in East Asia — the Sea of Japan (bounded by Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and Russia), the East China Sea (bordered by China and Japan’s Ryukyu Islands), and the South China Sea (surrounded by Borneo, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam) — are home to hundreds of disputed islands, atolls, and shoals. And in the last few years, the diplomatic and militaristic struggles to assert authority have become increasingly brazen.
On one level, patriotism is making things worse. Japan’s tussle with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, for example, is a touchstone for those in Japan who fear China’s growing political and economic might. Likewise, South Korea’s assertion of control over the Dokdo Islands (known as the Takeshima Islands in Japan) is viewed at home as a patriotic riposte to Japan’s 40-year occupation of the peninsula.
Beyond symbolism, however, these three bodies of water flow over East Asia’s Outer Continental Shelf and the submerged deltas of many major river systems — geological features that suggest the presence of vast deposits of oil and natural gas. Yet, although the resources have been there for millennia, it is only in the last decade that the energy sector has even started to develop extractive technologies that will eventually make these reserves accessible.
Nobody wants to lose out, especially because East Asia is energy hungry. The region is home to only three percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and eight percent of its natural gas reserves. China, for example, already imports 58 percent of the oil and 22 percent of the gas it uses each year. Japan is far more dependent, importing nearly all of its oil and gas. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in the next 25 years, Asia’s energy consumption is expected to grow faster than anywhere else in the world. Eager for energy security, these countries have long sought to exploit their offshore oil and gas reserves.
Until recently, however, given the difficulty of operating in the blue-water seas, that was all but impossible. But eager to take advantage of oil and gas reservoirs in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Africa, Western energy firms have developed drilling rigs capable of operating in a mile of water or more. Now that the necessary technology is within reach, powers in Asia are determined to assert what they argue are their rightful claims to vast amounts of energy.
Just who owns the potential riches, however, is a matter of some contention. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), coastal states are allowed to claim a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone extending from their land borders. All of the countries in the region have done so. But China has also laid claim to virtually all of the South China Sea on the basis that it has periodically occupied the Spratly and Paracel islands, small clusters of atolls and shoals that take up the northern and southernmost reaches of the sea. China has further cited provisions of UNCLOS that allow it to develop exclusively its Outer Continental Shelf (even if the shelf extends beyond 200 miles) and stake out a large stretch of the East China Sea. Of course, many other countries have claims in those seas, too.
Read it all HERE.
Outlaw of the Sea
Recently, a group of 34 legislators promised to vote against the UN Convention on the Law of The Seas, ensuring that the bill will not be ratified. Their move will make it harder for the United States to continue to build up a rules-based order in the South China Sea. It could also spell the end of treaties as a tool of U.S. national security policy.
Marijuana Fights Cancer and Helps Manage Side Effects, Researchers Find
ristina Sanchez, a young biologist at Complutense University in Madrid, was studying cell metabolism when she noticed something peculiar. She had been screening brain cancer cells because they grow faster than normal cell lines and thus are useful for research purposes. But the cancer cells died each time they were exposed to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.
Instead of gaining insight into how cells function, Sanchez had stumbled upon the anti-cancer properties of THC. In 1998, she reported in a European biochemistry journal that THC “induces apoptosis [cell death] in C6 glioma cells,” an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Subsequent peer-reviewed studies in several countries would show that THC and other marijuana-derived compounds, known as “cannabinoids,” are effective not only for cancer-symptom management (nausea, pain, loss of appetite, fatigue), they also confer a direct antitumoral effect.
NASA Images “NASA Images, a service of Internet Archive, offers public access to NASA’s images, videos and audio collections. NASA Images is constantly growing with the addition of current media from NASA as well as newly digitized media from the archives of the NASA Centers. NASA Images in an official media partner of the NASA.”
Water accounts for 55-70% of our body weight, and typically a minimum of six to eight glasses of water is needed to keep the body performing at optimal levels (the amount of water needed differs according to an individual’s health, physical activity, environment, etc). A 20% loss of fluid from the body is usually fatal. Conversely, drinking too much water can also be fatal. – Provided by RandomHistory.com
Imaginary Presidents and Imaginary Gods: The Real “Empty Chair” Effect
If you were to have told me just last week that one of my psychology experiments would soon be brought to life on stage by none other than Clint Eastwood at the Republican National Convention, all to the fêted laughter and applause of tens of millions of people who, in the true spirit of literalism for which so many of them are accustomed to thinking, would fail to see the irony of their own rapturous enjoyment of the scene before them, I’d have thought you were insane. But there it was, the old bleary-eyed star having a feverish, bizarre conversation with an empty chair beside him, a chair in which throngs of delighted viewers—viewers who happen to know a thing or two about having feverish, bizarre conversations with imaginary authority figures—were playfully led to believe sat the invisible president of our country.
The connection may not be immediately apparent to those uninitiated into my research area of the cognitive science of religion, but take my hand and allow me to walk you through this theoretical briar patch.
[note: Truman had integrated the American military...Back home, segregation still in place]
How whipping a client is similar to teaching English to children: Confessions of a public school teacher who works as a dominatrix
Playing Darlene: The True Double Life of a Public School Teacher and Professional Dominatrix
Anonymous: ‘Darlene’ does not reveal her real name
A new book by a public school teacher who worked on the weekends as professional dominatrix claims that the two jobs aren’t as different as they seem.’Darlene,’ not her real name, claims that teaching English to students and climbing into in a leather bodysuit to whip a client are really about the same things.
‘I’m the facilitator who is making it possible for a fellow human being to reach his or her goal,’ she says.
For 18 years the Los Angeles woman led a double life.On Monday through Thursday nights she taught English as a second language and remedial English classes to teenagers.
Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role
Among the many mysteries of human biology is why complex diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and psychiatric disorders are so difficult to predict and, often, to treat. An equally perplexing puzzle is why one individual gets a disease like cancer or depression, while an identical twin remains perfectly healthy.
Now scientists have discovered a vital clue to unraveling these riddles. The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches.
The findings, which are the fruit of an immense federal project involving 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the world, will have immediate applications for understanding how alterations in the non-gene parts of DNA contribute to human diseases, which may in turn lead to new drugs. They can also help explain how the environment can affect disease risk. In the case of identical twins, small changes in environmental exposure can slightly alter gene switches, with the result that one twin gets a disease and the other does not.
Some minds are like concrete. Thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
Big Government, Small Bellies: What Japan Can Teach Us About Fighting Fat
The case for naked paternalism in the war against obesity
The well-known statistics on American obesity were anecdotally confirmed for me on a recent layover in Canada, when I was struck once again by how easy it is to tell Canadians from Americans. Those who headed for the “American passport holders” line looked lumpy in all the wrong places. Those who headed for the “Canadian passport holders” line, on the other hand, were of a very different breed. One might hazard to call their appearance “healthy.”
You would be wise and correct to point out that my observation suffers from both sample size bias – a passport line is not a statistically significant cross-section of anything – and confirmation bias, since Americans have a well-known reputation for plumpness. But this is a case where casual observation reflects a fundamental truth: Americans are remarkably fat and getting fatter, even though we are obsessed with asking ourselves, why?
The scale of our bigness — 34 percent of Americans are obese, compared to 24 percent of Canadians — is made more striking by the scale of our efforts to combat it. America spends more money per person than any other country on “health care” (yes, I put that in quotes), while achieving worse outcomes than most of our peers in almost every conceivable dimension. The trillions we spend relative to Canada (about twice as much, per capita) do not make it any harder to tell Canadians from Americans in the immigration line.
But the bridge between America and Canada can be found in an unlikely place: Japan.
Read it all HERE.
Scrub Jays Hold “Funerals” for Dead Birds
Scientists studying the behavior of western scrub jays have observed the birds seemingly marking the death of fellow birds with so-called funeral congregations. The researchers tested the birds’ reactions to different objects by placing colored pieces of wood, stuffed jays, and dead jays in residential yards. When the birds encountered a dead jay, they made warnings calls to jays long distances away. The birds would then stop foraging and gather around the dead bird while making calls to encourage other jays to attend. When the presence of a predator was simulated by placing a stuffed great horned owl nearby, the jays also made a series of alarm calls.
Understanding gambling addiction
Odds are that you imagine gamblers as people simply trying to get lucky and win a big payoff. But when Natasha Schull, an associate professor in MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), began researching the lives of gamblers in Las Vegas, she found a very different motivation at work.
Take, for instance, Mollie, a mother and hotel worker who compulsively played video poker, running through her paychecks in two-day binges, and cashing in her life insurance to get more money to play. “The thing people never understand is that I’m not playing to win,” Mollie told Schull. Instead, Mollie’s goal was to enter a state of total gambling immersion: “to keep playing — to stay in that machine zone where nothing else matters.”
Awesome Vintage Photos
YouTube Ads: Pig in a Poke
[includes advice on beating the system]
Once you establish a regular pattern of uploading videos to YouTube, the Google property attracts you with blandishments to “monetize” and “make an ad campaign for your video.” This is all said to be good for growing your audience.
I’ve dealt with monetization on Google properties previously. For the majority it’s a waste of time. You might get enough clicks to justify Google sending a check in five to ten years of activity, if you haven’t changed your address by then.
At Last, Humans Get a Scientific Promotion.
World’s conservation hopes rest on Ecuador’s revolutionary Yasuni model
First published online by Jonathan Watts in Yasuni, Ecuador.
In their first hour in Yasuni’s Amazonian forest, many people will see more creatures than they have seen in their entire lives, including some that have yet to be documented by science. To paddle up the Ayango creek that leads from the traffic and pollution of the Napo river into the most biodiverse region on Earth is to encounter a wall of noise, frequent bursts of colour and unimaginable combinations of life.
A tiger heron flaps lazily past our canoe, electric blue Morpho butterflies jolt the eye, spiders the size of an adult’s hand sit on branches, and kingfishers flash past. On a mud bank, a lizard suns itself, while high up in the tree canopy, we catch glimpses of flying monkeys and grunting Hoatzin “stinky turkeys” – prehistoric survivors with claws that grow into wings, which could have inspired the creatures in James Cameron’s film Avatar.
The thick vines, exotic plants, stunningly colourful birds and huge reptiles of the forests and water systems here far outstrip the wildest imagination of any film director, but they are at risk from the worldwide trend of rising extinction rates and from local economic pressures to exploit underground oil fields.
Yasuni, which is home to two of the world’s last uncontacted tribes, has moved to the frontline of a global battle between living systems and fossil fuels. Animal populations across the planet are 30% smaller now than in 1970, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). In tropical regions such as Ecuador, the rate of decline is almost double the global average.
Just as the species must innovate to survive, Yasuni has inspired the planet’s most creative and ambitious approach to biodiversity conservation, social development and climate change. Ecuador – which is also home to the Galapagos Islands – is the only country in the world to have recognised the rights of nature in its constitution. After the discovery of a $7.2bn oil reserve inside a pristine corner of the Yasuni national park, the government has proposed leaving the fossil fuel in the ground if the international community will give them half that amount.
It has been hailed as an alternative to the ineffectual efforts of the United Nations to deal with climate change and biodiversity loss. The ITT Initiative, as the project is known, promises to the keep carbon in the ground in a 200,000- hectare corner of the park and, in the process, help to redistribute wealth from rich nations to the developing world and wildlife.
But a little more than a year after it was launched, this bold project is as much at risk as the wildlife. Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, told the Guardian the results have been disappointing.
Maven of Meth
Bad news, entrepreneurial fans of Breaking Bad, the hit AMC series about a middle-aged chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin: you cannot actually learn to cook crystal meth by watching the show. “They deliberately put in faulty steps. They’ll start with one method of synthesizing methamphetamine but then switch to another,” says Donna Nelson, professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma. “It’s like watching a video of someone starting out on a trip to Dallas and ending up in Chicago.” The abundant “meth” that appears on-screen is actually cotton-candy-flavored sugar crystals, she promises.
Nelson isn’t just a well-informed observer; she’s been consulting on the Emmy-winning drama since its second season, helping to ensure that the show’s writers make the chemistry of illegal drug-making credible.
Voluble and cheery, with an understated Southern drawl, Nelson may not have specific expertise in the subject—“I’ve never synthesized anything illegal,” she insists—but she does have appropriate credentials for the job. Originally from the small Oklahoma town of Eufaula, Nelson picked up an interest in science from her father and grandfather, both doctors. In 1983 she became the first tenure-track female professor ever hired by the university’s century-old chemistry department. She estimates that she has taught organic chemistry to nearly 10,000 students. She has also racked up awards and honors from institutions ranging from the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation to the National Organization for Women.
The 101 Most Useful Websites on the Internet
Presenting the 101 most useful websites of 2012. These sites, well most of them, solve at least one problem really well and they all have simple web addresses (URLs) that you can memorize thus saving you a trip to Google.
Last prisoners leave Alcatraz. March 21, 1963.