Saturday, December 31, 2016

Kompletely Kabbalist: Hell just froze over Siberian Rivers

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need

Trans-Siberian Railway: a view from Moscow to Vladivostok – a photo essay Guardian 

The Young Ballerino Dancing His Way From The Slums To The Stage

Joel Kioko “grew up in Nairobi’s Kuwinda slum and took his first dance class five years ago in a public school classroom, with bare walls, no barre and no mirror, the desks and chairs pushed outside.”

Quick, Where’s The World’s Oldest University? (Not Where You Probably Think It Is)

No, it’s not in Paris or Bologna; it’s not even in Europe. Or Asia, for that matter. What’s more, this university was founded, almost 1,200 years ago, by a woman
Although many people would imagine that the oldest university in the world is in Europe or China, it’s not. The oldest standing university on Earth is in Morocco. Founded in 859 AD, Al-Qarawiyyin is recognized by UNESCO and the Guinness World Records as the oldest existing, continuously operating university, as well as the first institution to issue educational degrees. The University of Al-Qarawiyyin is located in the city of Fes, once a leading spiritual and educational center of the Muslim world. A fact that makes Al-Qarawiyyin all the more unique is that it was founded by a woman, Fatima al-Fihri, a young princess from Tunisia. 

What Is The Speed Of Human Thought?

“Human thought takes time to form, and so the ‘right now’ that we’re experiencing inside our skulls is always a little later than what’s going on in the outside world. .l. So, in a sense, the future has already happened – we’re just not aware of it yet. To make things even more complicated, the different senses operate at different speeds.”

“Perhaps your fear in passing judgment on me is greater than mine in receiving it.”
What 'Cosmos' Got Wrong About Giordano Bruno, the Heretic Scientist 

Israeli Ambassador Mocks ‘Expert at Fiction’ Ben Rhodes

Giant cell blob can learn and teach, study shows Science Daily

Charles Dickens on Seeing the Poor Conversable Economist

A Season of Consequences The Archdruid Report

5 Ways the Soviet Union Could Have Won the Cold War (Or at Least Survived It) National Interest 

Open Knowledge International Blog: “We are pleased to announce a new research series investigating how citizens and civil society create data to drive sustainable development. The series follows on from earlier papers on Democratising The Data Revolution and how citizen-generated data can change what public institutions measure. The first report “Making Citizen-Generated Data Work” asks what makes citizens and others want to produce and use citizen-generated data. It was written by myselfShazade Jameson, and Eko Prasetyo. The report demonstrates that citizen-generated data projects are rarely the work of individual citizens. Instead, they often depend on partnerships to thrive and are supported by civil society organisations, community-based organisations, governments, or business. These partners play a necessary role to provide resources, support, and knowledge to citizens. In return, they can harness data created by citizens to support their own mission. Thus, citizens and their partners often gain mutual benefits from citizen-generated data. provides a public HTTP API for software developers to search the geolocation of IP addresses. It uses a database of IP addresses that are associated to cities along with other relevant information like time zone, latitude and longitude. You’re allowed up to 10,000 queries per hour by default. Once this limit is reached, all of your requests will result in HTTP 403, forbidden, until your quota is cleared. The freegeoip web server is free and open source so if the public service limit is a problem for you, download it and run your own instance.”

An Old Man 
At the noisy end of the café, head bent
over the table, an old man sits alone,
a newspaper in front of him.

And in the miserable banality of old age
he thinks how little he enjoyed the years
when he had strength, eloquence, and looks.

He knows he’s aged a lot: he sees it, feels it.
Yet it seems he was young just yesterday.
So brief an interval, so very brief.

And he thinks of Prudence, how it fooled him,
how he always believed—what madness—
that cheat who said: “Tomorrow. You have plenty of time.”

He remembers impulses bridled, the joy
he sacrificed. Every chance he lost
now mocks his senseless caution.

But so much thinking, so much remembering
makes the old man dizzy. He falls asleep,
his head resting on the café table.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
bighorn_sheep_300 Morning Sea
Here let me stop.  Let me too look at Nature for a while.
The morning sea and cloudless sky
a brilliant blue, the yellow shore; all
beautiful and grand in the light.

Here let me stop.  Let me fool myself: that these are what I see
(I really saw them for a moment when I first stopped)
instead of seeing, even here, my fantasies,
my recollections, the ikons of pleasure.
Translated by Daniel Mendelsohn

"Kabbalah gets dismissed as a fad—with its chic red string bracelets, “blessed” water, and star convert Madonna—but the practice has changed some of Hollywood’s biggest egos into, well, nicer people. The problem lies at the rapidly expanding Kabbalah Centre, whose leaders seem to be turning faith into a business."

In his book Becoming Like God, Michael Berg spells it out in giant pink capitals: “IT IS NOW POSSIBLE FOR LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE TO ESCAPE THE PRISON OF PAIN, SUFFERING, AND DEATH.”
The real secret of a happy and fulfilled life, revealed by renowned Kabbalist Michael Berg, author of the acclaimed and bestselling book, The Way. Containing a simple truth, simply explained through moving tales, this book cuts across religions and has a powerful and inspirational message -for the whole of humanity. Like a jewel that has been painstakingly cut and polished, The Secret reveals life's essence in its most concise and powerful form. It is a saying that Berg's teacher, the late Rav Ashlag, learned from a mysterious stranger who became his own teacher, years ago in Jerusalem:
"The only way to achieve true joy and fulfilment is by becoming a being of sharing." Our destiny is to experience joy, not suffering, if we know how to connect with the Secret. Michael Berg shows us how our everyday understanding of our purpose in the world is literally backwards. Whenever there is pain in our lives - indeed, whenever there is anything less than complete joy and fulfilment - this basic misunderstanding is the reason. The strength and significance of this simple truth unfolds through the sheer inspirational power of the stories and insights from the greatest sages of Kabbala. The Secret is a guidebook for applying the principles of Jewish mysticism to everyday life with a universal truth, whatever your religion.
New translation of Jewish mystical text for a new audience

Kabbalah, which means “to receive,” traces its roots to medieval Provence and Spain. In those days, it existed on the far fringes of Jewish mysticism, which, in its broadest strokes, was about seeking a closer, more immediate relationship with God, as opposed to the traditional, legalistic approach of Orthodox Judaism. The aim of Kabbalah was to explain no less than the inner workings of the soul and the divine world, and to end humanity’s separation from God, which occurred at the moment of creation. Deeply complex, dangerous even, Kabbalah was reserved for married Orthodox Jewish men over 40. As a prerequisite, they had to have mastered the entire rabbinic literature. Once they joined the ranks, they routinely fasted and rolled around naked in the snow in the name of self-abnegation before God. “It was esotericism par excellence,” says Allan Nadler, director of the Jewish Studies program at Drew University, in Madison, New Jersey. “It was the equivalent of a truly elite monastery somewhere in the middle of nowhere.”

Heads Up – Disruption at Go To Fact Checking Web Site

This investigative article from Forbes: Heads Up – Disruption at Go To Fact Checking Web Site  leaves readers in a quandry – the status of the fact checking website, is in question due to the disposition of its ownership and the transparency and accountability of its operations.  I do not use the site, so all I can say is proceed with caution moving forward in the use of each and every site that purports to deliver truth in the face of complex, fast moving stories and issues that impact democracy, civil liberties, justice and – research – all facets of research

The power of “yuck!” and “ew!”. Disgust, which comes from our evolutionary fear of germs, goes a surprisingly long way toward explaining our manners, morals, and religion 

For Fact-Checking Website Snopes, a Bigger Role Brings More Attacks New York Times. Fails to note that the latest batch of critical coverage was based on court filings. All doubts about the new designated censors are by definition bogus.
Follow up to recent posting – Oxford English Dictionaries Word of the Year– see  via Singularity Hub – Post-Truth: Technology Is a Big Part of the Problem, But It’s Also a Solution: “It’s unwise to dismiss the genuine and deep-seated grievances at the heart of the rejection of the establishment’s “evidence-based” narrative, which too often talks down to people rather than explaining and can be blind to its own prejudices. But as many have pointed out, post-truth politics is also a product of dramatic changes to the media landscape.”

Juan Williams: The dangerous erosion of facts The Hill. Gah. Low information citizens now being blamed on “fake news”. Have none of these reporters ever seen how people answer basic history and civics questions, like “Who gave the Gettysburg Address” or “When did World War I end”? Typically, more than half the people give the wrong answer….as happened here

The Security Keys are based on Universal Second Factor, an open standard that’s easy for end users to use and straightforward for engineers to stitch into hardware and websites. When plugged into a standard USB port, the keys provide a “cryptographic assertion” that’s just about impossible for attackers to guess or phish. Accounts can require that cryptographic key in addition to a normal user password when users log in. Google, Dropbox, GitHub, and other sites have already implemented the standard into their platforms.
After more than two years of public implementation and internal study, Google security architects have declared Security Keys their preferred form of two-factor authentication. The architects based their assessment on the ease of using and deploying keys, the security it provided against phishing and other types of password attacks, and the lack of privacy trade-offs that accompany some other forms of two-factor authentication.

The vote for Donald Trump may well have been what Michael Moore called the ‘biggest fuck-you ever recorded in human history’, delivered by the white working class to spite ‘the establishment’. But it isn’t just the size of the fuck-you that matters; it’s also who delivers it.  Capitalism in one family

Why Courbet’s ‘Origin Of The World’ Still Has So Much Power After 150 Years

 “HOAXY – beta – Visualize the spread of claims and fact checking [Indiana University] visualizes the spread of claims and related fact checking online. A claim may be a fake news article, hoax, rumor, conspiracy theory, satire, or even an accurate report. Anyone can use Hoaxy to explore how claims spread across social media. You can select any matching fact-checking articles to observe how those spread as well

"Supreme Court Nominations Will Never Be the Same": Law professor Noah Feldman has this essay online today at Bloomberg View

Friday, December 30, 2016

Obama: Tyson versus Vlad

“My father, who had once believed in many, many things only to end up distrusting all of them, was leaving me with a unique, definitive faith: That of believing in a fiction that one knows to be a fiction, aware that this is all that exists, and that the exquisite truth consists in knowing that it is a fiction and, nevertheless, one should believe in it.” Emperor in Love 

Leaked Snowden Document Hints At Why Feds Are So Sure Russia Hacked Election

A year before she was murdered, Politkovskaya's email was hacked by Russian intelligence using malicious software not publicly available, according to an NSA document leaked by Snowden to The Intercept. Not only does the document reveal that U.S. ...

Barack Obama orders expulsions of Russian diplomats, sanctions spies for interference in US election

ABC Online - ‎13 hours ago‎
United States President Barack Obama has announced a coordinated series of punishments against Russia over hacking allegations, expelling dozens of diplomats and naming intelligence operatives.

Russia vows revenge on the US - ‎12 hours ago‎
Barack Obama had all but accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally ordering an audacious cyber hack that many Democrats believe damaged Hillary Clinton's chances in November's closely fought election with Republican foe Donald Trump.

Moscow orders tit-for-tat response after Barack Obama expels 35 Russian spies over election hacking - ‎26 minutes ago‎
President Barack Obama's said on Friday the US would expel 35 Russian diplomats and close down two diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland in retaliation for Moscow directing hackers to interfere in the presidential elections. The announcement ...

Obama hits Russia for election meddling, Kremlin reacts

SBS - ‎12 hours ago‎
Making good on a promise to punish Vladimir Putin's government for allegedly trying to tilt the 2016 election in Donald Trump's favor, Obama unveiled a broad range of steps that will inflame tensions with both Moscow and the president-elect. US ...

Russia to eject US diplomats in response to sanctions: Reports

CNBC - ‎41 minutes ago‎
The Obama administration probably does not care at all about the future of bilateral relations, but history will hardly forgive it for this après-nous-le-deluge attitude," she said in an official statement. Washington sanctioned two Russian ...

President Obama just took unprecedented steps to punish Russia for its cyberattacks

Vox - ‎11 hours ago‎
On Thursday, the Obama administration announced an equally unprecedented effort to punish Moscow with sanctions for its past hacking — and serve notice that future meddling will draw an even harsher response. The move, which is far more sweeping ...

Obama Strikes Back At US Election Hacks By Politely Asking Russian Guys To Leave

Gizmodo Australia - ‎9 hours ago‎
Some say revenge is a dish best served cold. When it comes to alleged electoral interference by Russia, the White House apparently thinks it's also best served largely symbolically. Photo: AP. On Thursday, President Obama announced several emblematic ...

Obama's Late Cyber Defense

Wall Street Journal - ‎10 hours ago‎
President Obama promised retaliation against Russia's cyber-meddling in this year's U.S. elections “at a time and place of our choosing,” and on Thursday he followed through with an order to expel Russian agents and sanction Russian intelligence agencies.

Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for US election hacking

The Guardian - ‎15 hours ago‎
“I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners,” Obama said in the ...

Obama imposes sanctions on Russia over election hacking

The Verge - ‎15 hours ago‎
“These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama ...

Russia threatens to throw out US diplomats in retaliation for Barack Obama's sanctions

The Independent - ‎2 hours ago‎
In a development that plunged relations between Russia and the US to a level not seen since the Cold War, President Barack Obama on Thursday gave the diplomats 72 hours to leave and said he was sanctioning Russian intelligence officials believed to be ...

Obama retaliates against Russia over election hacking

CNET - ‎14 hours ago‎
Obama had promised action after federal investigators determined Russia had conducted hacking operations to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The attacks included accessing emails from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic ...

Russian embassy trolls US over Obama's new sanctions with 'lame duck' tweet

Business Insider - ‎12 hours ago‎
The Russian embassy in London fired off a snide response on Thursday to President Barack Obama's expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the US, tweeting that "everybody," including Americans, will be glad to see the end of his "hapless" administration.

Obama acts tough against Russia

The Hindu - ‎6 hours ago‎
President Barack Obama on Thursday announced a raft of retaliatory measures against Russia for its alleged interference in the recent U.S elections. The measures include new sanctions, expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S and closure of two ...

UK Russian Embassy trolls President Obama on Twitter, calling him a 'lame duck' - ‎47 minutes ago‎
After news broke that the US President expelled 35 Russian spies over election hacking, the account tweeted: "President Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats in Cold War Deja Vu. As everybody, including the American people people, will be glad to see the ...

Obama issues new sanctions against Russia, ejects 35 Russian diplomats over election-related hacking

Business Insider - ‎15 hours ago‎
President Barack Obama issued new sanctions against Russia on Thursday, calling Russia's "malicious cyber-enabled activities" a "national emergency" aimed at undermining democratic processes. He also ordered that 35 Russian diplomats from the ...

Russia RETALIATES: Vladimir Putin acts against 'shallow brained' Obama after expulsion - ‎2 hours ago‎
President Putin is preparing to announce how Moscow will counter the “aggressive” American action while his ministers heap scorn on "shallow-brained" Barack Obama. One threatened revenge measure - to close the Anglo-American private school in ...

Russia Foreign Minister Suggests Expelling US Diplomats

Voice of America - ‎2 hours ago‎
President Barack Obama hit Russia with a plethora of retaliatory measures Thursday for its interference in the November presidential election, imposing sanctions on two intelligence agencies, expelling 35 agents and closing two Russian compounds inside ...

Obama punishes Russia after election cyberattacks

MarketWatch - ‎13 hours ago‎
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — President Obama on Thursday ordered two Russian diplomatic compounds shut down and he expelled 35 Russians as part of a series of measures to punish the country for alleged interference in the recent presidential ...

Vladimir Putin closes Anglo-American school after President Obama announced sanctions

Daily Mail - ‎7 hours ago‎
Vladimir Putin has taken the dramatic step to close an Anglo-American day school in Moscow just hours after President Obama announced tough new sanctions against the country. Putin's government announced on Thursday it was shutting the ...

Russia's foreign ministry proposes expelling 35 US diplomats after Barack Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats

The Independent - ‎52 minutes ago‎
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia's actions,” Mr Obama said, claiming the extent of data theft and cyber attacks uncovered “could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government”. In addition to expelling the 35 ...

Obama Hits Russia With New Sanctions for Election Hacking

Voice of America - ‎11 hours ago‎
President Barack Obama on Thursday hit Russia with new sanctions over its computer hacking and interference in the November presidential election and other Russian actions, including harassing U.S. diplomats in Moscow. Obama called his actions "a ...

Obama announces sanctions for Russian election hacking

TechCrunch - ‎15 hours ago‎
The Obama administration announced today that it will impose sanctions on Russian intelligence services and officials in response to the hacks of American political institutions during the election season. The sanctions cover nine individuals and ...

President Obama Punishes Russia, at Last

New York Times - ‎9 hours ago‎
Mr. Obama also expelled 35 Russian intelligence operatives and barred Russian diplomats from using two recreational compounds in the United States. The White House said this action was specifically in response to a two-year pattern of harassment of ...

After US reprisal, Russian embassy mocks Obama administration, tweets picture of 'lame duck'

Times of India - ‎5 hours ago‎
NEW DELHI: After US President Barack Obama today ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats suspected of being spies, the Russian Embassy in London mocked Obama's move by tweeting a picture of a duck with the word 'lame' typed across it.

Obama sanctions Russian intelligence agencies over election hacking

VICE News - ‎15 hours ago‎
President Obama on Thursday announced sanctions against Russian intelligence services in response to their alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election. The combination of offensive and defensive steps, Obama said in a statement, was a ...

Moscow vows retaliation over sanctions by Obama administration 'losers' - ‎7 hours ago‎
The sanctions could easily be pulled back by Trump, who has dismissed the claims of Russian interference in the election as "ridiculous" and insisted that Obama and Democrats are merely attempting to delegitimize his election. Trump said in a statement ...

Obama Orders Sanctions Against Russia for Interfering with US Election

Fortune - ‎15 hours ago‎
President Barack Obama has imposed sanctions on Russian officials and intelligence services in retaliation for Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election by hacking American political sites and email accounts. The State Department also has ...

Op-Ed: Obama's Russia sanctions are just more political theater

CNBC - ‎14 hours ago‎
What effects will the sanctions and diplomatic expulsions President Obama has just ordered against Russia in retaliation for their alleged interference in the 2016 election? It depends which playing field you care most about. Politically, this is ...

President Obama sanctions Russia for hacking

Mashable - ‎14 hours ago‎
President Obama has issued an executive order that levies a multitude of sanctions against Russia in retaliation for what the president calls, "the Russian government's aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S ...