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By Admin (from 16/12/2010 @ 10:00:37, in en - Science and Society, read 1303 times)
Post image for Why ‘Thank You’ Is More Than Just Good Manners

Image credit: Paul G

Is expressing thanks a powerful motivator or just a social nicety?

According to positive psychologists, saying 'thank you' is no longer just good manners, it is also beneficial to the self.

To take the best known examples, studies have suggested that being grateful can improve well-being, physical health, can strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states and help us cope with stressful times in our lives.

But we also say thank you because we want the other person to know we value what they've done for us and, maybe, encourage them to help us again in the future.

It's this aspect of gratitude that Adam M. Grant and Francesca Gino examine in a series of new studies published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Grant & Gino, 2010).

They wanted to see what effect gratitude has on the person who is being thanked. Does it motivate and, if so, is it just by making people feel good, or is it more than that?

Double the help

In the first study 69 participants were asked to provide feedback to a fictitious student called ‘Eric’ on his cover letter for a job application. After sending their feedback through by email, they got a reply from Eric asking for more help with another cover letter.

The twist is that half of them got a thankful reply from Eric and the other half a neutral reply. The experimenters wanted to see what effect this would have on participant’s motivation to give Eric any more help.

As you might expect, those who were thanked by Eric were more willing to provide further assistance. Indeed the effect of ‘thank you’ was quite substantial: while only 32% of participants receiving the neutral email helped with the second letter, when Eric expressed his gratitude, this went up to 66%.

How gratitude works

The idea that saying thank you makes people more likely to help in the future is unsurprising, although the 100% increase is interesting, but what the researchers were interested in was why this happens.

Perhaps Eric’s gratitude made people feel better, or at least less bad? Or perhaps saying thanks boosted the helper’s self-esteem, which in turn motivated them to help again.

In fact the experimenters found that people weren’t providing more help because they felt better or it boosted their self-esteem, but because they appreciated being needed and felt more socially valued when they’d been thanked.

This feeling of social worth helps people get over factors that stop us helping. We are often unsure our help is really wanted and we know that accepting help from others can feel like a failure. The act of saying thank you reassures the helper that their help is valued and motivates them to provide more.

Pass it on

The researchers then wondered whether this effect would extend to other people. Would Eric’s thanks make participants more likely to help a different person?

In a second study Eric’s thanks (or lack of thanks in the control condition) was followed, a day later, by an email from ‘Steven’ asking for similar help. The percentage who offered to help Steven was 25% when they had received no gratitude from Eric, but this shot up to 55% when they had been thanked.

So the boost to participant’s social worth carried over from one day to the next and from one person to the next. Although the overall percentages were slightly lower, Eric’s gratitude still doubled the number of people willing to provide help.

In a third and fourth study the researchers tested their findings face-to-face rather than over email. They reached similar conclusions, with increases in prosocial behavior of 50% in the third study and 15% in the fourth study. These lower percentages show that the effect of gratitude on motivation depends on the situation.

Now, these studies mostly looked at the situation where strangers help each other. It’s likely that the effect of a thank you on prosocial behavior is more powerful on people we don’t know, because strangers are more cautious about helping each other in the first place.

Thank you!

Since, for most of us, expressing our thanks is an everyday occurrence, we tend to think nothing of it. But psychologically it has a very important role to play for both the person giving and the person receiving.

All four studies reveal that gratitude is more than just a social nicety, or a way of making the helper feel good; it reassures others their help was actually appreciated and it encourages further prosocial behavior.

So, a big public thank you to Adam M. Grant and Francesco Gino for this enlightening study, hopefully there's more to follow.

Source: spring.org.uk

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By Admin (from 16/12/2010 @ 08:00:50, in ro - Stiinta si Societate, read 1301 times)

 Intr-un limbaj consacrat, se numeste senzatie de Déjà-vu. Subiectul poate sa ajunga intr-un loc unde nu a mai fost vreodata si, brusc, sa aiba certitudinea ca, de fapt, regaseste acolo detalii cunoscute. Sau sa vada un obiect nou, care sa-i evoce momente netraite in realitate, sa intâlneasca o persoana straina, pe care sa... o recunoasca. Se intâmpla uneori ca subiectul, cazut intr-o stare de confuzie, sa se simta ca fiind „altcineva”, un individ ce va fi trait in alt timp si poate in alt loc.

Reincarnare sau premonitie?

Sunt destul de multi cei care marturisesc ca au avut, macar o data in viata, senzatia de „déjà-vu”: circa 70% din populatie! Singura problema cu adevarat incomoda pare a fi imposibilitatea stabilirii reperelor spatio-temporale exacte. Lucru perfect explicabil pentru majoritatea cercetatorilor, deoarece - sustin ei - de fapt episoadele respective nu au mai fost intâlnite, anterior.

Fenomenul pe cât de bizar, pe atât de frecvent, a inspirat o multime de teorii, incepând din sec. al XIX-lea. Pentru fanii paranormalului, in schimb, totul este o dovada de necontestat ca reincarnarea exista: am mai trait acest eveniment, dar intr-o viata anterioara. Asadar - de unde amintiri? Altii vorbesc mai curând despre premonitii. Variante de interpretare, fata de care oamenii de stiinta foarte seriosi au decis sa ia taurul de coarne.

Filiera epileptica

Alan Brown, specialist american in domeniu, a contabilizat peste 30 de teorii diferite, aparute in circa 140 de ani. Totusi, când vine vorba sa se gaseasca si probe veridice, intervine blocajul: fenomenul este efemer (dureaza maximum 30 de secunde) si imprevizibil, astfel incât pare imposibil de studiat pe indivizi umani, oricine ar fi ei. In conditiile date, a aparut ideea studierii unor cazuri de epilepsie.

Intr-adevar, unii dintre pacienti au declarat ca au trait senzatia de „déjà-vu” inaintea fiecarei crize. Si, cum epilepsia se manifesta printr-un curent electric puternic care traverseaza mai multe sectoare ale creierului, scotându-le din circuit pentru un timp, cercetatorii au presupus ca un „déjà-vu” poate sa apara când un asemenea sector nu functioneaza. Iar acelasi lucru se poate produce si cu oricare alta persoana, ce nu are nici un fel de tulburari.

Scurtcircuit in creier

In perioada 2000-2002, o echipa franceza de cercetare a introdus in creierul mai multor pacienti electrozi minusculi, capabili sa „deconecteze” pentru câteva secunde mici zone din creier. Rezultatul nu a intârziat sa apara: un mic fragment (cortexul perirhinal) provoaca la comanda - atunci când este debransat - senzatia de „déjà-vu”. Din pacate, este singurul experiment de care dispunem pâna in prezent si care pare a explica rezonabil mecanismul straniului fenomen.

Dar exista si alte posibile cai de urmat, pentru a raspunde la avalansa de intrebari ce se pun. Unii specialisti ridica problema lipsei de atentie, de concentrare, din partea subiectilor. Din aceasta cauza, un obiect sau o scena ar putea fi inregistrate in subconstient, fara sa ne dam seama, fiindca avem gândurile aiurea. Suficient pentru ca, doar câteva miimi de secunda mai târziu, când reusim sa devenim mai concentrati, episodul respectiv sa ni se para ciudat de familiar. Ceva ce poate constitui un inceput de argumentatie stiintifica verosimila exista aici, dar ea nu poate explica foarte multe alte lucruri, cum ar fi pseudo-calatoria pe tarâmuri vechi, necunoscute, timp de numai câteva secunde, doar la privirea intâmplatoare a unui obiect. Investigatiile trebuie sa continue.

Autor: ADRIAN-NICOLAE POPESCU - Sursa: magazin.ro

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 Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.

Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again.

So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack? Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth. The assault on them has been over the top:

- Sen. Joe Lieberman says WikiLeaks "has violated the Espionage Act."

- The New Yorker's George Packer calls Assange "super-secretive, thin-skinned, [and] megalomaniacal."

- Sarah Palin claims he's "an anti-American operative with blood on his hands" whom we should pursue "with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders."

- Democrat Bob Beckel (Walter Mondale's 1984 campaign manager) said about Assange on Fox: "A dead man can't leak stuff ... there's only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch."

- Republican Mary Matalin says "he's a psychopath, a sociopath ... He's a terrorist."

- Rep. Peter A. King calls WikiLeaks a "terrorist organization."

And indeed they are! They exist to terrorize the liars and warmongers who have brought ruin to our nation and to others. Perhaps the next war won't be so easy because the tables have been turned -- and now it's Big Brother who's being watched ... by us!

WikiLeaks deserves our thanks for shining a huge spotlight on all this. But some in the corporate-owned press have dismissed the importance of WikiLeaks ("they've released little that's new!") or have painted them as simple anarchists ("WikiLeaks just releases everything without any editorial control!"). WikiLeaks exists, in part, because the mainstream media has failed to live up to its responsibility. The corporate owners have decimated newsrooms, making it impossible for good journalists to do their job. There's no time or money anymore for investigative journalism. Simply put, investors don't want those stories exposed. They like their secrets kept ... as secrets.

I ask you to imagine how much different our world would be if WikiLeaks had existed 10 years ago. Take a look at this photo. That's Mr. Bush about to be handed a "secret" document on August 6th, 2001. Its heading read: "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US." And on those pages it said the FBI had discovered "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings." Mr. Bush decided to ignore it and went fishing for the next four weeks.

But if that document had been leaked, how would you or I have reacted? What would Congress or the FAA have done? Was there not a greater chance that someone, somewhere would have done something if all of us knew about bin Laden's impending attack using hijacked planes?

But back then only a few people had access to that document. Because the secret was kept, a flight school instructor in San Diego who noticed that two Saudi students took no interest in takeoffs or landings, did nothing. Had he read about the bin Laden threat in the paper, might he have called the FBI? (Please read this essay by former FBI Agent Coleen Rowley, Time's 2002 co-Person of the Year, about her belief that had WikiLeaks been around in 2001, 9/11 might have been prevented.)

Or what if the public in 2003 had been able to read "secret" memos from Dick Cheney as he pressured the CIA to give him the "facts" he wanted in order to build his false case for war? If a WikiLeaks had revealed at that time that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, do you think that the war would have been launched -- or rather, wouldn't there have been calls for Cheney's arrest?

Openness, transparency -- these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt. What if within days of August 4th, 1964 -- after the Pentagon had made up the lie that our ship was attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin -- there had been a WikiLeaks to tell the American people that the whole thing was made up? I guess 58,000 of our soldiers (and 2 million Vietnamese) might be alive today.

Instead, secrets killed them.

For those of you who think it's wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he's being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please -- never, ever believe the "official story." And regardless of Assange's guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. I have joined with filmmakers Ken Loach and John Pilger and writer Jemima Khan in putting up the bail money -- and we hope the judge will accept this and grant his release today.

Might WikiLeaks cause some unintended harm to diplomatic negotiations and U.S. interests around the world? Perhaps. But that's the price you pay when you and your government take us into a war based on a lie. Your punishment for misbehaving is that someone has to turn on all the lights in the room so that we can see what you're up to. You simply can't be trusted. So every cable, every email you write is now fair game. Sorry, but you brought this upon yourself. No one can hide from the truth now. No one can plot the next Big Lie if they know that they might be exposed.

And that is the best thing that WikiLeaks has done. WikiLeaks, God bless them, will save lives as a result of their actions. And any of you who join me in supporting them are committing a true act of patriotism. Period.

I stand today in absentia with Julian Assange in London and I ask the judge to grant him his release. I am willing to guarantee his return to court with the bail money I have wired to said court. I will not allow this injustice to continue unchallenged.

P.S. You can read the statement I filed today in the London court here.

Source: huffingtonpost.com

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By Admin (from 15/12/2010 @ 20:00:07, in en - Video Alert, read 2311 times)

"Ok, so if you know when we've been sleeping and you know when we're awake and you know if we'be been bad or good - then you're really that WikiLeaks guy, aren't you?"

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Prima jumatate a anului viitor va fi esentiala pentru stabilirea datei tinta pentru intrarea Romaniei in zona euro, urmand a fi efectuata o analiza de catre analisti si toate institutiile responsabile de acest lucru, pentru a se vedea daca poate fi mentinuta tinta 2015, potrivit presedintelui Romaniei, Traian Basescu.

Intr-o perioada in care mai multe tari din zona euro se lupta cu deficite bugetare si datorii mult mai mari decat ale Romaniei, iar multe dintre statele care intentionau, in trecut, sa intre in zona euro, precum Cehia, Polonia sau Ungaria, par sa renunte la aceasta idee, Romania are, inca, drept tinta, anul 2015.

"Romanii sprijina acest lucru. Obiectivul nostru este sa fim in zona euro in 2015. Dar nu inseamna ca acest obiectiv va fi mentinut. Ceea ce am invatat din criza, in primul rand, este ca ar fi relativ usor sa intri in zona euro, dar problema este daca economia ta este pregatita pentru acest lucru", a declarat Traian Basescu publicatiei Financial Times.

Pentru a fi in zona euro in 2015, Romania ar trebui sa intre in 2012 in mecanismul ratei de schimb (ERM II). Acest lucru presupune si o stabilitate fara precedent a monedei nationale, pe care analistii sunt de parere ca Romania o poate si trebuie s-o atinga.

Potrivit consultantului financiar Bogdan Baltazar, Romania are nevoie de o anumita disciplina, iar intrarea in zona euro ar aduce un astfel de plus de disciplina.

"Pe de alta parte, in vremurile grele, nu ar mai exista parghia dobanzii de politica monetara, s-a terminat, se stabileste la domnul Trichet (presedintele Bancii Centrale Europene - n.r.) acolo sau cine o sa-i urmeze", a comentat Baltazar pentru Ziare.com.

"Mai vedem, mai avem la dispozitie trei ani. Trebuie sa intri cu doi ani inainte in mecanismul cursului de schimb. Va trebui sa fie destul de stabil cursul", a completat Baltazar.

De altfel, consultantul financiar s-a aratat foarte multumit de politica Bancii Nationale a Romaniei, care nu a efectuat devalorizari "asa-zis competitive" ale monedei nationale, in ciuda presiunilor la care a fost supusa.

"BNR avut o postura cuminte, in ciuda presiunilor absolute, neavenite si periculoase de "hai sa devalorizam sa traim bine, sa facem inflatie sa traim bine", bazaconii de astea sinistre", a comentat Baltazar.

Codul Muncii, piedica in calea intrarii in zona euro?

Directorul bancii centrale, Eugen Radulescu, sustine ca nu exista o solutie in totalitate buna sau in totalitate proasta, orice decizie am lua urmand sa aiba partile ei bune si mai putin bune.

Cu toate acestea, avand in vedere ca, daca am fi acceptati in zona euro in 2015 ar insemna ca economia Romaniei este puternica, este mai bine ca acest lucru sa se intample in cinci ani si nu in zece, de exemplu.

Insa problema nu vine dinspre curs, ci dinspre finantele publice si din zona competitivitatii economiei romanesti, care, la randul sau, depinde foarte mult de piata fortei de munca, sustine oficialul BNR.

"Daca lasam Codul Muncii asa cum este el acum, cred ca nici in 2025 nu mai intram in zona euro. Daca il flexibilizam de la nivelul la care este propus in actualul proiect de lege incolo - asta este un timid inceput de liberalizare a fortei de munca - daca vom face acest lucru, daca vom liberaliza piata fortei de munca, atunci oamenii vor trai mai bine, vor munci mai bine si vor castiga mai bine", a explicat Radulescu.

Directorul bancii centrale vine si cu o propuneri pentru modificarea Codului Muncii, astfel incat sa flexibilizeze si mai mult piata. Una dintre cele mai importante, in opinia sa, ar fi ca perioada de proba sa nu fie de 45 de zile, asa cum se prevede in proiectul de lege dezbatut in prezent, ci de cel putin sase luni sau chiar un an.

"Daca aduci pe cineva de pe strada si il pui sa lucreze intr-un domeniu, ala va stii sa lucreze in prima luna? Primii care ar pierde ar fi chiar patronii. Ei vor sa aiba oameni care sa munceasca si sa stie sa munceasca. Nu e nimeni nebun sa dea afara toata ziua, numai cu scopul de a plati mai putin. Nu are niciun sens, pentru ca il plateste mai putin, dar munceste mai prost", a comentat Radulescu pe marginea supozitiei ca o astfel de perioada de proba indelungata ar putea fi speculata de angajatorii romani.

De asemenea, sunt esentiale si prevederile privind concedierile, care, in prezent, sunt mult prea dificil de realizat. "Sunt anomalii care duc la scaderea productivitatii muncii, la scaderea rezultatelor", a completat Radulescu.

Tarile vecine nu se grabesc sa adopte euro

Din celelalte puncte de vedere, politicienii, dar si institutiile financiare precum FMI sunt optimiste in privinta revenirii Romaniei pe "calea cea buna".

Potrivit sefului statului, obiectivul unui deficit bugetar de 3 la suta in 2012 este mentinut, astfel incat sa intram in ERM II.

"Dar chiar daca putem face asta, sa ne gandim foarte atenti la ce ar insemna pentru Romania sa fie o tara din zona euro, daca economia nu ar fi pregatit pentru asa ceva", a comentat Traian Basescu.

De altfel, stirile dinspre tarile care folosesc moneda unica nu sunt deloc menite a aduce incredere eventualilor candidati. Marti, oficiali ai Parlamentului din Slovacia, tara care a adoptat euro in 2009, au declarat ca ar trebui luata in considerare revenirea la moneda nationala, avand in vedere problemele pe care regiunea le are in prezent.

"Trebuie sa incetam sa ne incredem orbeste in liderii din zona euro si sa ne pregatim un plan B pentru a reveni la coroana slovaca", a spus Richard Sulik, seful Parlamentului slovac.

Nu in ultimul rand, oficiali din tari mult mai dezvoltate si mai stabile decat Romania, cu economii care au inregistrat cresteri sau nu au intrat deloc in recesiune, cum ar fi Cehia si Polonia, asteapta ca moneda euro sa isi dovedeasca viabilitatea, declarand ca isi vor mentine monedele nationale atata timp cat va fi benefic pentru tarile respective.

Sursa: ziare.com

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By Admin (from 15/12/2010 @ 16:00:52, in en - Global Observatory, read 1495 times)
Crikey: Doug Cameron joins Labor Left rally to support Julian Assange

Cameron said WikiLeaks went to the heart of the issue of freedom of the press to publish without fear or favour: ”I support press freedom and believe it is an important element of a democratic society… WikiLeaks seems to be operating consistent with other media outlets only on a massive scale.”

Cameron’s factional colleague, Calwell MP Maria Vamvakinou, who holds her northern Melbourne seat by a commanding 19.7%, also broke ranks, telling Crikey the equation was simple: ”If you believe in freedom of speech and transparency you can’t pick and choose.

“Where government may some concerns about some things not being in the public domain, the reality is a lot of the information WikiLeaks is revealing is of public interest.”

Cameron echoed Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s statements that the leaks are a product of US security failures, saying extremists calling for Assange to be prosecuted under domestic anti-terrorism laws needed to be reined in.

... The uprising within the Left — including Laurie Ferguson, Sharon Grierson and Melissa Parke — will increase pressure on the PM to mollify her public statements on WikiLeaks and comes after a weekend of protests defending Assange across Australia.

Read more

New York Times: Rep. Ron Paul, G.O.P. Loner, Comes In From Cold

As virtually all of Washington was declaring WikiLeaks’s disclosures of secret diplomatic cables an act of treason, Representative Ron Paul was applauding the organization for exposing the United States’ “delusional foreign policy.”

For this, the conservative blog RedState dubbed him “Al Qaeda’s favorite member of Congress.”

Read more

Rep. McDermott: Could WikiLeaks Have Prevented 9/11?

Jesse Freeston of The Real News joined us on the Stakeout this weekend, asking Congressman McDermott (D-Wash.) his views on WikiLeaks. The Congressman couldn’t speak to the specific nature of the cables Freeston pointed out, but expressed a general sense of openness to the idea that the cables and WikiLeaks work would likely benefit the public. McDermott referenced an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Coleen Rowley and Bogdan Dzakovic, endorsing the idea that had there been an entity like WikiLeaks in the past, public whistleblowing that might have prevented 9/11 would have been more readily facilitated.

Read more

Prosecute leakers, not Assange: Howard

"To publish some cables containing commentary about political figures, while it's very uncomfortable for the diplomat involved ... and uncomfortable to the subject, you can't expect a journalist to hold back on something like that," Mr Howard told ABC Radio in Darwin on Wednesday.

"I'm sure things had been said about me.

"It's embarrassing when it happens but ... you can't condemn the media for running this stuff."

Read more

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By Admin (from 15/12/2010 @ 14:00:07, in en - Science and Society, read 2388 times)

By Julian Assange on Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul this unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of statesmanship.
(President Theodore Roosevelt)

While you here do snoring lie, Open-eyed conspiracy His time doth take.
(The Tempest; Ariel at II, i)

Introduction

To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us, and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not.

Firstly we must understand what aspect of government or neocorporatist behavior we wish to change or remove. Secondly we must develop a way of thinking about this behavior that is strong enough carry us through the mire of politically distorted language, and into a position of clarity. Finally must use these insights to inspire within us and others a course of ennobling, and effective action.

Authoritarian power is maintained by conspiracy

Conspiracy, Conspire: make secret plans jointly to commit a harmful act; working together to bring about a particular result, typically to someone’s detriment. ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French conspirer, from Latin conspirare agree, plot, from con- together with spirare breathe.

The best party is but a kind of conspiracy against the rest of the nation.
(Lord Halifax)

Where details are known as to the inner workings of authoritarian regimes, we see conspiratorial interactions among the political elite not merely for preferment or favor within the regime but as the primary planning methodology behind maintaining or strengthening authoritarian power.

Authoritarian regimes give rise to forces which oppose them by pushing against the individual and collective will to freedom, truth and self realization. Plans which assist authoritarian rule, once discovered, induce resistance. Hence these plans are concealed by successful authoritarian powers. This is enough to define their behavior as conspiratorial.

Thus it happens in matters of state; for knowing afar off (which it is only given a prudent man to do) the evils that are brewing, they are easily cured. But when, for want of such knowledge, they are allowed to grow until everyone can recognize them, there is no longer any remedy to be found.
(The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli [1469-1527])

Terrorist conspiracies as connected graphs

Pre and post 9/11 the Maryland Procurement Office (National Security Agency light cover for academic funding, google for grant code “MDA904”) and others have funded mathematicians to look at terrorist conspiracies as connected graphs (no mathematical background is needed to follow this article).

We extend this understanding of terrorist organizations and turn it on the likes of its creators where it becomes a knife to dissect the power conspiracies used to maintain authoritarian government.

We will use connected graphs as way to harness the spatial reasoning ability of the brain to think in a new way about political relationships. These graphs are easy to visualize. First take some nails (“conspirators”) and hammer them into a board at random. Then take twine (“communication”) and loop it from nail to nail without breaking. Call the twine connecting two nails a link. Unbroken twine means it is possible to travel from any nail to any other nail via twine and intermediary nails. Mathematicians say the this type of graph is connected.

Information flows from conspirator to conspirator. Not every conspirator trusts or knows every other conspirator even though all are connected. Some are on the fringe of the conspiracy, others are central and communicate with many conspirators and others still may know only two conspirators but be a bridge between important sections or groupings of the conspiracy.

Separating a conspiracy

If all links between conspirators are cut then there is no conspiracy. This is usually hard to do, so we ask our first question: What is the minimum number of links that must be cut to separate the conspiracy into two groups of equal number? (divide and conquer). The answer depends on the structure of the conspiracy. Sometimes there are no alternative paths for conspiratorial information to flow between conspirators, othertimes there are many. This is a useful and interesting characteristic of a conspiracy. For instance, by assassinating one “bridge” conspirator, it may be possible to split the conspiracy. But we want to say something about all conspiracies.

Some conspirators dance closer than others

Conspirators are discerning, some trust and depend each other, others say little. Important information flows frequently through some links, trivial information through others. So we expand our simple connected graph model to include not only links, but their “importance”.

Return to our board-and-nails analogy. Imagine a thick heavy cord between some nails and fine light thread between others. Call the importance, thickness or heaviness of a link its weight. Between conspirators that never communicate the weight is zero. The “importance” of communication passing through a link difficult to evaluate apriori, since it its true value depends on the outcome of the conspiracy. We simply say that the “importance” of communication contributes to the weight of a link in the most obvious way; the weight of a link is proportional to the amount of important communication flowing across it. Questions about conspiracies in general won’t require us to know the weight of any link, since that changes from conspiracy to conspiracy.

Conspiracies are cognitive devices. They are able to out think the same group of individuals acting alone

Conspiracies take information about the world in which they operate (the conspiratorial environment), pass it around the conspirators and then act on the result. We can see conspiracies as a type of device that has inputs (information about the environment) and outputs (actions intending to change or maintain the environment).

What does a conspiracy compute? It computes the next action of the conspiracy

Now I we ask the question: how effective is this device? Can we compare it to itself at different times? Is the conspiracy growing stronger or weakening? This is a question that asks us to compare two values.

Can we find a value that describes the power of a conspiracy?

We could count the number of conspirators, but that would not capture the difference between a conspiracy and the individuals which comprise it. How do they differ? Individuals in a conspiracy conspire. Isolated individuals do not. We can capture that difference by adding up all the important communication (weights) between the conspirators, we will call this the total conspiratorial power.

Total conspiratorial power

This number is an abstraction. The pattern of connections in a conspiracy is unusually unique. But by looking at this value which in indepndent of the arrangement of conspiratorial connections we can make some generalisations.

If total conspiratorial power is zero, there is no conspiracy

If total conspiratorial power is zero, there is no information flow between the conspirators and hence no conspiracy.

A substantial increase or decrease in total conspiratorial power almost always means what we expect it to mean; an increase or decrease in the ability of the conspiracy to think, act and adapt.

Separating weighted conspiracies

I now return to our earlier idea about cleaving a conspiracy into halves. Then we looked at dividing a conspiracy into two groups of equal numbers by cutting the links between conspirators. Now we see that a more interesting idea is to split the total conspiratorial power in half. Since any isolated half can be viewed as a conspiracy in its own right we can continue splitting indefinitely.

How can we reduce the ability of a conspiracy to act?

We can marginalise a conspiracy’s ability to act by decreasing total conspiratorial power until it is no longer able to understand, and hence respond effectively to, its environment.

We can split the conspiracy, reduce or eliminating important communication between a few high weight links or many low weight links.

Traditional attacks on conspiratorial power groupings, such as assassination, have cut high weight links by killing, kidnapping, blackmailing or otherwise marginalizing or isolating some of the conspirators they were connected to.

An authoritarian conspiracy that can not think efficiently, can not act to preserve itself against the opponents it induces

When we look at a conspiracy as an organic whole, we can see a system of interacting organs, a body with arteries and veins whos blood may be thickened and slowed till it falls, unable to sufficiently comprehend and control the forces in its environment.

Fonte: thecommentfactory.com

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By Admin (from 15/12/2010 @ 12:00:12, in ro - Stiinta si Societate, read 1986 times)

 Am scris in repetate rânduri, in paginile revistei noastre, despre spectrul tot mai amenintator al unei crize energetice, ce ar putea cuprinde planeta, atunci când resursele de combustibili fosili se vor epuiza (si se pare ca momentul acela nu este departe), dar si despre posibilele solutii pe care oamenii de stiinta cauta sa le dea acestei probleme presante. Se pare ca o veritabila campioana a biocombustibililor este planta numita Jatropha, privita deja de multi ca o veritabila „benzina a viitorului”.

Adusa in Europa de primii conchistadori spanioli, jatropha a fost folosita pâna nu demult doar ca leac pentru malarie sau constipatie, dar medicii avertizeaza asupra toxicitatii sale deosebite: doar trei seminte de planta, netratate, pot provoca moartea. Se pare insa ca ceea ce este letal pentru noi poate fi vital pentru masinile noastre... Aproape peste noapte, dispretuita jatropha a devenit o celebritate economica, dupa ce s-a descoperit ca ar putea constitui combustibilul ideal, intr-o lume macinata de goana dupa petrol si alarmata de efectele incalzirii globale.

Magnatii petrolului si-au gasit o noua pasiune: agricultura

 Rezistenta la seceta, neafectata de daunatori, planta produce seminte cu un continut de ulei de pâna la 40%. Acest ulei poate fi utilizat pe post de combustibil la o masina diesel standard, iar reziduurile pot fi de asemenea procesate, obtinându-se biomasa, pentru functionarea termocentralelor. Deja gigantul British Petroleum a anuntat derularea unei investitii de 32 milioane lire sterline, vizând producerea de combustibil din jatropha.

Lex Worrall, director executiv al Helius Energy, o alta companie britanica ce incurajeaza folosirea jatrophei drept combustibil alternativ precizeaza: „Fiecare hectar cultivat cu jatropha poate produce 2,7 tone de ulei si circa 4 tone biomasa. Deci 8000 hectare pot asigura functionarea unei termocentrale de aproape 2 megawati, suficiente pentru a oferi electricitate câtorva mii de locuinte.”

Jatropha creste in climate tropicale si subtropicale si, spre deosebire de alti „candidati” la titulatura de combustibil al viitorului, precum palmierul, rapita sau porumbul, se poate dezvolta pe orice fel de sol si in aproape orice fel de conditii meteo. Savantii spun ca planta poate creste chiar si in regiunile semidesertice, generând sol fertil si oprind astfel eroziunea si desertificarea. Un tufis de jatropha poate trai pâna la 50 de ani, producând ulei inca din al doilea an de viata. In plus, planta are uimitoarea capacitate de a rezista secetelor indelungate, reusind sa se dezvolte chiar si in cazul in care nu ploua luni in sir!

In India au fost deja identificate circa 11 milioane hectare de teren unde jatropha ar putea fi cultivata. Prima termocentrala pe baza de jatropha va fi deschisa in Elvetia, in 2010, urmând sa asigure nevoile de electricitate pentru mai multe orasele. Chinezii au intrat si ei in competitie, anuntând cultivarea unei plantatii de 80.000 de hectare de jatropha in provincia Sichuan.

Intre timp, marile companii petroliere din Europa, India si America de Nord cumpara vaste suprafete de pamânt din Africa (mai ales in zona semidesertificata a Sahelului), pentru a dezvolta acolo plantatii de jatropha. Logica nu-i greu de priceput: gigantii petrolieri ai planetei nu vor sa dea din mâna pâinea si cutitul resurselor energetice si par sa-si fi gasit in jatropha produsul ideal: un hectar cultivat cu planta-minune produce de patru ori mai mult combustibil decât unul cultivat cu soia si de zece ori mai mult decât unul pe care s-a plantat porumb.

GABRIEL TUDOR - Sursa: magazin.ro

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Lungo le due valli che formano la Comunità Montana non può non essere notata la lussureggiante forza di una natura ancora incontaminata, a volte violenta nel contrasto dei suoi colori e nell'intensità dei profumi; risalendo le antiche vie Francigena e Romea, un tempo meta di pellegrini diretti verso la Lunigiana e verso Roma, si ha la sensazione di tornare indietro nel tempo, attraverso due valli simili, più ricca di testimonianze del passato la val d'Arda e più selvaggia la val Nure.

 

I Castelli di Vigoleno e Gropparello rappresentano due fiori all'occhiello di questo territorio, mentre dall'antica Pieve di Vernasca si possono scorgere i ricchi boschi del comune di Morfasso con il Parco provinciale del monte Moria e la violenza della roccia del monte Menegosa.

Numerosi sono i passi che conducono verso la val Nure dove il respiro sembra arrestarsi di fronte allo splendore della natura della val d'Aveto costellata di piccoli paesini incastonati nella roccia e sopravvissuti orgogliosamente nei secoli.

 

Il lago Nero, lago Bino, lago Moo, magnifici laghetti sulla vetta dei monti, meta preferita dagli amanti del trekking e dai cercatori di funghi, mentre discendendo verso Farini è possibile sostare nei centri turistici di Groppallo e Pianazze, arrivando sino a valle, dove Piazza Colombo di Bettola ricorda i vantati natali dello scopritore del nuovo mondo.

Fonte: viaggialitalia.it

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By Admin (from 15/12/2010 @ 08:00:59, in en - Video Alert, read 1307 times)

Reporter Mary May has been captured by the evil supervillain Ooze!...

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