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Daniel Povey
Worked at Johns Hopkins University
Attended Peterhouse, Cambridge
Lives in Baltimore, MD
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Daniel Povey

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With continued saber-rattling from North Korea and increased tensions on the India-Pakistan border, I was thinking about the consequences of a limited nuclear exchange.
It seems to me that authorities tend to avoid publicly discussing plans and contingencies for the aftermath of nuclear attacks because to do so might normalize nuclear war. But it's probably good to be prepared.
Nuclear war, if limited in scope, is not a civilization-ending thing. If Kim Jong Un fulfills his promise to turn Seoul into a "sea of fire", while it's not nice if you're in Seoul, the direct consequences if you live far from there would be quite small. But that doesn't take into account the overreaction. For instance, after Fukushima it has been estimated that the overreaction to the risk of radiation was way more damaging than the radiation itself (e.g. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/05/04/cancer-and-death-by-radiation-not-from-fukushima/#a4b77dd1b44b).

Imagine there is a nuclear exchange in Korea. What do other countries do (aside from the obvious military responses)? There will be immediate calls in many countries to ban the transport of people and goods from the affected areas (and the "affected" areas will likely be interpreted quite broadly, e.g. including China in this scenario). That in itself could throw a spoke in the wheels of the global economy. Any shortages that results from this could then lead to ham-fisted attempts to ameliorate their effects, such as rationing and price controls, that would actually make the real shortages much more severe.

Most of these negative consequences would be much worse if there are populist idiots in power at the time that the disaster strikes (looking at you, Trump). It would be easier to deal with these situations if plans were made in advance, when cooler heads could be brought to bear. For example, how radioactive do you have to be to be "too radioactive to travel"? What levels of radioactive contamination are acceptable in food in normal times-- and what levels are acceptable in food when you don't have any other food to eat? The answers are not the same. If a rich person wants to spend their money on food that only has background levels of radioactivity, that should be their right, but what about people who can only afford food that's slightly contaminated? Surely it's better for them than starving to death. Forcing all such food to be destroyed would make a bad situation much worse. And if these decisions are made by politicians in the heat of the moment, they will be too swayed by the anticipation of the public reaction.


It’s always amazing when a United Nations report that has global ramifications comes out with little fanfare. The latest one states that no one will get cancer or die from radiation released from Fukushima, but the fear and overreaction is harming people. This is what we’ve been saying for almost three years but it’s nice to see it officially acknowledged.
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The BBC has a story on Medicins Sans Frontieres and their ship that picks up migrants in the sea and brings them to Europe.

Obviously you can make a compelling case on compassionate grounds that this is the right thing, and no-one would want to have to look a migrant in the face and say "I choose to leave you here to die in the sea". But I don't think I would choose to do what they are doing.

Every day more people are born- people that the global economy cannot properly absorb, often people with characteristics that make them hard to integrate into stable, developed societies. Essentially no countries have implemented mechanisms to limit population growth. Countries in the developed world are comfortably able to provide for the needs of their people, but every additional person [depending on the individual, of course] makes it harder in the long term, and countries can slip further back from developed status. A Germany can become an Italy, an Italy can become a Greece, a Greece can become a Turkey, a Turkey can become a Morocco, a Morocco can become a Libya.

I think that in the current environment, we need to actually maintain the inequality between countries. If everything were perfecctly equalized, I think the only likely outcome is that no country would be prosperous and stable.

Of course I'm not against migration in general-- the right kinds of migrants can make countries richer and happier-- but we need to accept that there is no realistic path that avoids large-scale poverty, disease and suffering in the medium term. By doing a favor to one person you are often doing a disservice to others [although a disservice that's often so widely distributed and probabilistic as to be hard to perceive]

http://www.bbc.com/news/video_and_audio/headlines/36969014
The BBC's Chris Buckler joins a rescue ship, operated by the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres.
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Also it incentivizes swimming in the sea. :)
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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-36861840
Article says that, like Omar Mateen, the Nice attacker was bisexual.
Someone should create a spoof ISIS advert playing up the male camaraderie, suggesting it's a great organization for gay men to join.
Of course it's a bit of a low blow, the equivalent of saying "that's so gay"-- but making noise about an association between jihadism and homosexuality might actually dissuade the kinds of people who are tempted by jihadism.
In the aftermath of mass killings by lone attackers in Orlando and Nice, we take a look at the links between domestic violence, sexual identity and radicalisation.
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Ahmet A. Akın's profile photoDaniel Povey's profile photoFares Menasri's profile photo
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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34996604 """Mass shootings: There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogues such incidents. A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant."""

More than 1 mass shooting per day on average.
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I fear the zombie apocalypse may be upon us.
While walking outside today in Redmond, WA I saw groups of people gathered in unlikely places, mostly standing still and not interacting with each other. All of them had the slumped shoulders and blank expressions of the undead.
When I looked more closely, I saw that they all had smartphones in their hands with little animated characters on their screens.
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That was a very interesting way of describing Pokemon Go.
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Yay!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/15/turkey-low-flying-jets-and-gunfire-heard-in-ankara1/

Coup in turkey. It's rare that breaking news is good news, but this is.
<ul> <li><strong>Coup attempt by parts of Turkish military against Erdogan</strong></li> <li><strong>PM Yildirim:
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Bad news... not clear if the coup will succeed. Looks like Erdogan's support base may have been too large. We can expect a big purge of the military and police and justice systems, and a clampdown on secular society, if the coup fails.
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Apparently the DNC has agreed to (eventually) make it part of its platform to introduce a $15/hour national minimum wage.
Economists tend to say minimum wages are an OK idea as long as they are not too high, so I had a look to see whether $15 is a reasonable value based on other countries.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_wages_by_country
According to Wikipedia, in nominal terms only Australia has a higher minimum wage at $15.58 US (although when I searched for the current AUS minimum wage and converted it to US dollars it was $13 or so). And in PPP terms only San Marino is highest, at $12.55 (and it's not clear that micro-states are good precedent).
So yeah, $15 seems a bit high.
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It doesn't look good that way either. Taking Australia as an example because of its relatively high minimum wage (which is about $13 in US dollars), its GDP per capita is actually about 20% higher than the US.
There are many countries on that list with minimum wages higher than, or approaching, 100% of GDP per capita, but they are typically 3rd world countries and places like Argentina that one would not want to emulate.
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It was discovered not long ago that the Zika virus can infect (and possibly kill) adult brain stem cells.

http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/pdf/S1934-5909(16)30252-1.pdf

Now, no-one knows what effect this might have because it would likely be long term and the current strain of the Zika virus hasn't been that long. But here is my theory. I think that maybe the advanced brain functions that give us culture, morality, shame, fear and so on, might require constant replenishment from these stem cells. And when they stop working, what we get is the very deepest, animal part of what we are. And what we do get when we strip away the frippery, the social conventions, and all the bullshit of modern society? What remains? I'd say just one thing remains: the desire to feast on human flesh.

You know it's true!

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Those who deny their longing to consume the flesh of innocents are the most voracious of all. Looking at you, +Dan Bikel!
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Thousands of migrants were rescued off Libya.. but in rather odd circumstances (which the article doesn't really explore the reasons for). They were rescued only 20km off the coast of Libya, and were apparently in vessels with only enough fuel to make it that far (i.e. to the rescue vessels).
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37216881
So basically someone is providing a ferry service to Europe with a pick-up point just 20km off the coast of Libya. The article mentions that two NGOs and the Italian coastguard were involved.
I believe one of the NGOs was Medicins Sans Frontieres.
They have a page about it here
http://www.msf.org/en/topics/mediterranean-migration
where they gripe about European immigration policies:
"Europe’s restrictive policies put some of the world’s most vulnerable people in more danger".
Maybe they have a point, but I'm not sure that it's the job of Medicins Sans Frontieres to unilaterally change Europe's immigration policies.
Of course, it's only because the EU is so politically fractured that they can even get away with it. If someone tried to pull that stunt between Cuba and the US, they'd likely land in jail pronto.
About 6,500 migrants are rescued in a series of 40 co-ordinated operations off the coast of Libya, the Italian coast guard says.
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Not to brag but I did predict it. :)
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I think Hillary's campaign should create some kind of sticker specifically for Bernie supporters-- a sticker that says, not in so many words, "I wanted Bernie but I voted for Hillary anyway". Bernie supporters feel a need to publicly differentiate themselves from regular Hillary supporters. If Hillary's campaign can meet that psychological need while still getting the vote of Bernie supporters, it would help them win. And by acknowledging that Hillary does not really excite voters, it may add a much-needed note of authenticity to the campaign.

If you agree, +1, this post or come up with a draft sticker-- if enough people do so, it may get the attention of the campaign.
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People are starting to speculate that the Turkish coup was staged, and I'm wondering if he's explicitly following Hitler's playbook. The coup included bombing the parliament building-- something which can't have had any value, symbolic or otherwise, for real coup plotters. Now Erdogan is declaring a state of emergency, which is exactly what happened after the Reichstag fire.

And he's arrested 50k people. It takes a while to make a list that long, and it doesn't seem like the chaotic moments after a real coup would be conducive to compiling such an extensive list.

It seems that most historians think the Reichstag fire was actually started by communists without Nazi help, but maybe Erdogan didn't want to leave it to chance this time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_fire
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Fernando Pereira's profile photoAhmet A. Akın's profile photo
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I was not expecting a coup at all and was very surprised with this event. But later on, especially reading some of the coup army officials statements I am quite convinced that albeit suicidal, this was a real attempt. There are many reasons why it failed such as
- Intelligency agency was notified at 4pm that a coup will take place so they tried to block it. This resulted coup to be started prematurely. They were intending to do it at 3am, now they started at 10 pm. This is probably the main reason why it failed.
- Not much human resources. Unlike coup of 1980, this was not backed by the majority of the army. That is why they tried to control the army first.
- They were probably not expecting this much civil resistance.

Also probably some factions in the army decided not to participate at the last moment, but that is also a theory.

To me, people are forcing `staged` theories are looking at the outcome of the coup attempt and so trying to find clues supporting the theory. There is also confirmation bias.

Such clues seem weak. For example.

People in those lists were probably known for two years after the events of 2013-2014. It may seem suspicious by outsiders, but nobody in Turkey surprised by it.

The plane was flying with a civilian flight code, At the time there were probably other planes in the air or landing (check the map and the route http://www.karar.com/gundem-haberleri/tc-ata-ucagi-havada-bekliyor-188359 ). The flight tower also gave information on the whereabouts of coup jet. Seems like there was only one such jet over bosphorus at the time. It is more likely that they were not sure who to shot down (if they had the order to shut down). This is a simpler and provable explanation.

Surely government will take full advantage of this, but I guess this is the expected behavior. On the state emergency, France also declared that recently. This is not unexpected. If coup would have been successful probably there would be martial law.

This event must not have happened at all.


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Damn. Coups are the kinds of things you have to do right, or not at all.
If the coup ends up failing, then these guys have burned down the Reichstag for Erdogan without him having to lift a finger.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/15/world/live-blog-turkey/index.html
A military coup attempt is underway in Turkey. Tanks and soldiers are on the streets, protesters are mustering forces, with gunfire and explosions punctuating the chaos.
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Very interesting article on Gulen.
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I have a theory that Stonehenge was actually a 31-dash line, much more ancient and infinitely more sacred than China's 9-dash line. Everything inside the line belonged to the gods, and everything outside belonged to the British government. Brittania rule the waves!

http://cdn.history.com/sites/2/2015/04/hith-stonehenge-superhenge-iStock_000012937253Large-E.jpeg
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Introduction
Dan Povey, speech recognition researcher
Education
  • Peterhouse, Cambridge
    1993
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Employment
  • Johns Hopkins University
    Research Scientist
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