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James Mason

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Hey, California, perhaps it's time to look to Israel for some technology. They're providing water for an entire country by desalination.

We do, after all, have a moderately-sized body of salt water right off the California coast... ;)
 
For decades, desalination was seen as a pipe dream: so costly in terms of energy that it could never be useful. Reverse-osmosis was hailed as a possible change, but the problem of "biofouling" -- basically, bacterial growth in the filters requiring constant chemical cleaning -- made it impractical. But a few years ago, this problem started to get cracked, and now Israel is doing something previously unthinkable: running a net surplus of water.

To give you some context for this: In 1948, Israel was more than half parched, nearly-uninhabitable desert. The steady northward spread of the desert had been greatly accelerated by Ottoman deforestation, and the whole ecosystem verged on collapse. David Ben Gurion, the first president, made it his crusade to make the country green: "There will be bears in the Negev (desert)!," he would famously say. This meant everything from aggressive water conservation across the country, to research in water technologies, to a steady program of reclaiming the desert, with schoolchildren routinely going out in large groups to plant trees.

Today, I can barely recognize the country of my childhood; as you go south of Jerusalem, miles and miles which I remember as barren deserts are now lush forests and farms.

But this was almost lost in the past decade, as powerful droughts -- the same droughts which triggered the Arab Spring -- have ravaged the Middle East. The Kinneret (also known as the Sea of Galilee) saw its water level drop terrifyingly, year after year, close to the threshold where osmotic pressure would fill it with salt and destroy it as a freshwater lake. The Dead Sea was shrinking into a giant mud puddle, and we talked about it meeting the same fate as the Aral Sea, now just a memory.

The rise of modern desalination has changed this calculus completely. Because it doesn't rely on boiling or similar processes, it's energy-cheap. It's maintainable, and while it requires capital outlays in the way that building any large plant does, it doesn't require astronomical or unusual ones. This makes it a technology ready for use across the world.

There is one further potential benefit to this: Peace. Water is a crucial resource in the Middle East (and elsewhere!), far more scarce than oil. It's needed not just for humans, but most of all for crop irrigation, as droughts destroying farmland have been one of the biggest problems facing the region. The potential for desalination to change this creates a tremendous opportunity for cooperation -- and there are nascent signs that this is, indeed, happening.

At an even higher level, relieving the political pressures created by lack of water, and thus lack of working farms, could have far more profound effects on the region as a whole. Even before the recent droughts, things like the steady desertification of Egypt's once-lush Nile Valley (a long-term consequence of the Aswan Dam and the stopping of the regular flooding of the Nile) were pushing people by the million into overcrowded cities unable to support them. Having farming work again doesn't just mean food, it also means work, and it means a systematic reduction in desperation.

Desalination looks to be one of the most important technologies of the 21st century: it's hard to overstate how much it could reshape our world.

Via +paul beard 
One of the driest countries on earth now makes more freshwater than it needs
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James Mason

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Our choices in November.
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+Luke Shiras Margaret Thatcher and Benito Mussolini
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If you did Nazi that coming, you haven't been paying attention.
 
“Aus Cleveland, mit deutschem Gruß” [1]

This image is actually an excellent illustration of the two varieties of the "German Greeting." As Wikipedia notes, [2] "Hitler gave the salute in two ways. When reviewing his troops or crowds, he generally used the traditional stiff armed salute. When greeting individuals, he used a modified version of the salute, bending his right arm while holding an open hand towards those greeted at shoulder height." I doubt he ever managed quite this smooth a transition between the two, though.

(For those who are about to argue that it was really a wave taken out of context... yes. That's absolutely possible. And an excuse like that would be perfectly reasonable the first time, or even the second time. But six months into a campaign where "did they really mean that Nazi reference?" comes up every week at the most, where speeches talk about nothing but the importance of the leader's unfettered Will and how this strengthens the nation against the other races which are slowly corrupting and destroying it, any benefit of the doubt is long lost.

In fact, it's actively inappropriate; when something has become clear and you still try to excuse it with a "benefit of the doubt," you're not being polite, you're abetting it.)

[1] "From Cleveland, with German Greetings." See: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/laura-ingraham-called-appearing-nazi-salute-article-1.2719389
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_salute
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It seems so obvious now.
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1939?
 
In an amazing interview -- while watching the convention on TV -- Trump discussed some of his extreme (and very non-Republican) views on foreign policy. (I say extreme, not as a pejorative, but as a simple description. Most mainstream politicians in both parties would count his views as extreme.)

Trump called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.

For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

Mr. Trump conceded that his approach to dealing with the United States’ allies and adversaries was radically different from the traditions of the Republican Party — whose candidates, since the end of World War II, have almost all pressed for an internationalist approach in which the United States is the keeper of the peace, the “indispensable nation.”

Trump reiterated his threat to pull back United States troops deployed around the world, he said, “We are spending a fortune on military in order to lose $800 billion,” citing what he called America’s trade losses. “That doesn’t sound very smart to me.”

Mr. Trump repeatedly defined American global interests almost purely in economic terms. Its roles as a peacekeeper, as a provider of a nuclear deterrent against adversaries like North Korea, as an advocate of human rights and as a guarantor of allies’ borders were each quickly reduced to questions of economic benefit to the United States.

Mr. Trump gave no ground, whether the subject was countering North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats or dealing with China in the South China Sea. The forward deployment of American troops abroad, he said, while preferable, was not necessary.

“If we decide we have to defend the United States, we can always deploy” from American soil, Mr. Trump said, “and it will be a lot less expensive.”

Many military experts dispute that view, saying the best place to keep missile defenses against North Korea is in Japan and the Korean Peninsula. Maintaining such bases only in the United States can be more expensive because of the financial support provided by Asian nations.

Mr. Trump had nothing but praise for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s increasingly authoritarian but democratically elected leader. “I give great credit to him for being able to turn that around,” Mr. Trump said of the coup attempt on Friday night.

Asked if Mr. Erdogan was exploiting the coup attempt to purge his political enemies, Mr. Trump did not call for the Turkish leader to observe the rule of law, or Western standards of justice. “When the world sees how bad the United States is and we start talking about civil liberties, I don’t think we are a very good messenger,” he said.

His discussion of how to fight ISIS provided a good illustration of how little Trump understands about the complexity of international issues.

Mr. Trump said he was convinced that he could persuade Mr. Erdogan to put more effort into fighting the Islamic State. But the Obama administration has run up, daily, against the reality that the Kurds — among the most effective forces the United States is supporting against the Islamic State — are being attacked by Turkey, which fears they will create a breakaway nation.

Asked how he would solve that problem, Mr. Trump paused, then said: “Meetings.”

When asked what [America First] meant to him, [he said] “We are going to take care of this country first before we worry about everyone else in the world.”

It's not clear how we do that and fight ISIS at the same time. But he apparently wasn't worried about that conflict.

And finally if anyone doubted Trump's narcissism, when asked what he hoped people would take away from the convention, Mr. Trump said, “The fact that I’m very well liked.”
Reiterating a hard-line nationalist approach, Mr. Trump raised new questions about his commitment to automatically defend NATO allies.
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Don't they mean the Axis Allies?
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James Mason

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It’s checkers and chess: the game boards may look identical, but one is a kid-friendly diversion and one is a sport of kings.


Pokémon Go already has a roadmap to become a better game
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Checkers has advantages over chess, too. Especially if you don't have time for a long game...
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United are idiots, part 2

"Your security questions will also be used as part of upcoming two-factor authentication"... just a reminder that these "security" questions were totally inadequate, since both the questions and the answers had to be selected from drop-down lists. But leaving that aside, security questions are essentially secondary passwords.

So, United, just a reminder for it to be two-factor authentication items need to be included from two different categories:
1) Something I know
2) Something I have
3) Something I am

Both the password and "security" questions are group one, and the latter are entirely too easy to guess or find out through social engineering.

Authentication is hard. If you're not smart enough to do it right, hire someone who is.
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+Michael Kuechenmeister - Yes, I posted on that fail a few months back.
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You're grounded.
 
Smited...hammer of dawn
Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet.
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2016, so far, in a nutshell.
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Haven't the last eight years of neo-conservatism and Democratic deference brought the country too close already to a one-party state masquerading as a two-party state?

positions of the US primary candidates 2016
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I agree we can see there is interest in the far left and far right. Unfortunately, radicals are growing in politics. But that doesn't change the fact that the center still lies between the two major parties.
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