So Vladimir Putin has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Fair enough. Obama was awarded one for not being George W Bush and thereby bringing the world peace.

Mr Putin is the peace he’s brought to the world, so this makes complete sense.

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You noticed the recent headlines?

Have a glance at this. Among other things:

The final and corresponding author of this study is Victor D. Longo (VDL). If we look at the related info we see that:

  • VDL designed the study and obtained funding from the Nation Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • The NIH had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, or the writing or and publishing of the manuscript
  • VDL has an equity interest in L-Nutra, a company that develops medical food.


H/T Anthony

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That’s the headline, anyway. And the piece starts out as though that’s a reasonable description of what’s happened:

When Bosnia abandoned communism about two decades ago, officials devised a plan that wouldn’t mean mass layoffs for state workers. It was supposed to be a smooth transition after the 1992-1995 war that left 100,000 dead and devastated the country’s infrastructure.

But it has been a disaster for people like Munevera Drugovac, a 58-year-old widow, who works for a company that was bought by a businessman in 2004. She hasn’t been paid in 19 months.

“Back then, I didn’t have electricity and heating because of the war,” she said. “Now, I don’t have it because of unpaid bills.”

More than 80 percent of privatizations have failed, becoming a core reason behind Bosnia’s worst unrest since the end of the war. Many well-connected tycoons have swept into these companies, stripping them of their assets, declaring bankruptcy and leaving thousands without jobs or with minimal pay.

So that’s privatisation, is it? The problem here is the selling of state-run interests to the private sector, is it?

No. That’s not the problem:

The Bosniak-Croat Federation is further divided in 10 cantons, each with a similar set of institutions, meaning that nearly 4 million people are governed by more than 150 ministries on four different levels of government – an expensive and ineffective system that scares off foreign investors and is preventing the country from joining the European Union.

The monthly salaries of parliamentarians are the highest in the region — up to 3,500 euros ($4,750.55) — while average salaries don’t exceed 350 euros.

Corruption is widespread and high taxes for the country’s bloated public sector eat away at residents’ paychecks. Privatizations have decimated the middle class and sent the working class into poverty.

Some observers believe widespread corruption has been allowed to flourish, benefiting an elite group with political connections.

“They have penetrated the state, turning the government itself into a facade,” said Denisa Kostovicova, an associate professor of global politics at the London School of Economics. “What now appears as a dysfunctional state is in actual fact a very functional system that distributes the privileges, but only to the networked.”

The problem is a still over-powerful state, cumbersome bureaucracy and the habits of communism.

But glance at the headline and you’d think it was the opposite.

UPDATE: Tim points out the same sort of corruption happens here, largely among the Labour Party and Union movement.

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Adams wheedles on. He talks with unintended irony of the ‘obvious futility of militarism’ in Syria and the Central African Republic. People wonder how he ever thought there was a need for it here. Ann Travers, tweeting ‘I love you Mary’ onto the website, wonders at the futility of the IRA putting a deadly bullet in her sister’s back on her way home from mass. The litany proceeds – Bloody Friday, La Mon, Kingsmills, the sheer number betraying the futility of the ‘war’ as a whole more than mere tragic exception.

Excellent piece here.


UPDATE: See also Suicide rates reveal true legacy of Provo violence

Both via Padraig Colman on Facebook.

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Apparently, the consequence of leaving a corrupt, inefficient and incompetent, over-bearing bureaucracy might be a significant increase in wealth – or more accurately, a significant decrease in wealth-destruction:

The average Dutch household could be better off by over £8,000 a year and national income will grow by over £1 trillion if the Netherlands leaves the euro and the EU, according to a new study.
The study by the respected British Capital Economics research consultancy into “Nexit” – as a potential exit by the Netherlands has been termed – finds significant benefits over the next two decades if the country swaps its EU membership for a status similar to Switzerland or Norway.

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Here’s a lovely post on the death of his old dog, from James Lileks.

We lost three dogs last year and gained two.

Humphrey was very old but he made it to the point where he’d had half his life with us. His last year was very much as described by Lileks, a process of decline, milestones passed like his last ever walk, reaching the stage where he couldn’t get up without help, losing bowel control. He was a sweet, gentle old dog who’d had a bad time yet, with that extraordinary ability of dogs, he carried no bitterness.

Sam was scheduled to be put down when we heard of him. He died of natural causes on his bed almost a decade later, after a short illness and a full, happy life. To the people who made him lost, then wanted to kill him I can only say: screw you, he won.

Ben was lost when Sam died, they’d had nine years together. Then we got Bernie and Ben entered a new phase with renewed interest in life. Then he got old, but not gradually, like he’d been hit by a truck. For giant dogs, like Ben, this can happen and it’s a blessing in the sense that that old age though harsh, is brief.

The cigarette burns on Bernie’s back have become less visible, the scars and bruising on his face have healed. We’d just asked for the most desperate case in the rescue and it was Bernie. He was seriously depressed but after three or four months he came over one evening, sat by me, leaned against me, sighed and closed his eyes. He stayed there for half an hour. It was like he suddenly believed, like he trusted this was permanent. He’s also a mastiff. Ever since that evening, he’s felt no need to go off by himself and lie quietly.

Then we took Percy from a euthanasia list, another loving, playful pup about to be destroyed because of human fecklessness. He’s a funny animal, like a cross between a boxer and a ridgeback.

Since Christmas, the rescue we got Bernie and Bertie from have saved dozens of dogs and they’ve been unable to save dozens more, all killed around Christmas with people getting rid of old ones to buy puppies, or dumping unwanted gifts. Most of them are Staffie or Mastiff crosses. Many are bitches who’ve been bred until they’re past their usefulness.

The worst case, who was saved this week, is a Staffie bitch who was used as a brood mare then, when she miscarried a litter, she was thrown to the dogs – used as bait for fighting dogs. Her face was ripped to pieces, her teeth were smashed.

Rescue dogs, don’t buy them from breeders.

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Was the Guardian ‘bugged’ by laser beams? This post, by a very sensible author, says probably not.

In the late 1980s the business I ran experimented with lasers on windows for this purpose, a physicist friend who’d been working on CO2 lasers at a couple of Scottish universities did the actual work. CO2 lasers are good for this because they’re infra red so usually invisible.

It worked OK but the problem is, you have to catch the return beam which places constraints on where you can use it. Or do you?

It turns out this sort of system is more sensitive if you don’t catch the return beam but use two beams and look at the interference patterns in the scattered light. Having an instrument sensitive enough to do this is another thing.

But this physicist had been to an army research place where they’d been using a heterodyne, to be posh about it, approach for laser range finding, so it was part of military technology in the mid-eighties.

Also I discussed it with some special forces people who’d been involved with the Iranian Embassy siege and they remembered these odd machines being brought in and used in a way that was consistent with that sort of eavesdropping.

So I wouldn’t be certain this technique wasn’t used. That was in the 1980s.

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