Susan Savage-Rumbaugh: The Bonobo, TED Talks (video)

Susan Savage-Rumbaugh has made startling breakthroughs in her lifelong work with chimpanzees and bonobos, showing the animals to be adept in picking up language and other "intelligent" behaviors.

Why you should listen to her: Into the great debate over intelligence and instinct -- over what makes us human -- Susan Savage-Rumbaugh has thrown a monkey wrench. Her work with apes has forced a new way of looking at what traits are truly and distinctly human, and new questions about whether some abilities we attribute to "species" are in fact due to an animal's social environment. She believes culture and tradition, in many cases more than biology, can account for differences between humans and other primates.
Her bonobo apes, including a superstar named Kanzi, understand spoken English, interact, and have learned to execute tasks once believed limited to humans -- such as starting and controlling a fire. They aren't trained in classic human-animal fashion. Like human children, the apes learn by watching. "Parents really don't know how they teach their children language," she has said. "Why should I have to know how I teach Kanzi language? I just act normal around him, and he learns it."

About this Talk
Savage-Rumbaugh asks whether uniquely human traits, and other animals' behaviors, are hardwired by species. Then she rolls a video that makes you think: maybe not. The bonobo apes she works with understand spoken English. One follows her instructions to take a cigarette lighter from her pocket and use it to start a fire. Bonobos are shown making tools, drawing symbols to communicate, and playing Pac-Man -- all tasks learned just by watching. Maybe it's not always biology that causes a species to act as it does, she suggests. Maybe it's cultural exposure to how things are done. TED | Talks |

TED | Talks | Susan Savage-Rumbaugh: Apes that write, start fires and play Pac-Man (video)

Bonobo chimpanzee

Bonobo Ape Moms

NATURE "Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History" |PBS

NATURE's 25th season begins on PBS November 5, 2006 with Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History.
In 1959, the United States Air Force captured dozens of baby chimpanzees in Africa, transporting them to Alamogordo, New Mexico where they and their offspring were enlisted into in the space program.
NATURE's Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History explores the lives of these chimpanzees who were forced to endure a grueling life as the ultimate human stand-ins.
Watch this clip to learn about the fate of one of these chimpanzees.
PBS airdate: Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History premiering on November 5, 2006 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).
For more information visit

Robert Wright: Cooperation - Non Zero conflict TED | Talks | (video)

The best-selling author of Nonzero and The Moral Animal, Robert Wright draws on his wide-ranging knowledge of science, religion, psychology, history and politics to figure out what makes humanity tick -- and what makes us moral.

Why you should listen to him: Author Robert Wright thinks the crises the human species now faces are moral in nature, and that our salvation lies in the intelligent pursuit of self-interest. In his book Nonzero, Wright argues that life depends on a non-zero-sum dynamic. While a zero-sum game depends on a winner and loser, all parties in a non-zero-sum game win or lose together, so players will more likely survive if they cooperate. This points to an optimistic future of ultimate cooperation among humans -- if we recognize the game.

Well-respected for his erudition and original thinking (Bill Clinton hailed him as a genius), Wright draws from multiple disciplines -- including science, religion, history and politics -- in his search for big-picture perspectives on today's problems, particularly terrorism, while offering guarded hope for where we might be headed. A Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, Wright also hosts an interview series with celebrated thinkers at
"In this age of intellectual specialization, Wright is one member of the intelligentsia who definitely breaks the mold."
What Is Enlightenment? magazine

About this Talk
Author Robert Wright explains “non-zero-sumness,” a game-theory term describing how players with linked fortunes tend to cooperate for mutual benefit. This dynamic has guided our biological and cultural evolution, he says -- but our unwillingness to understand one another, as in the clash between the Muslim world and the West, will lead to all of us losing the “game.” Once we recognize that life is a non-zero-sum game, in which we all must cooperate to succeed, it will force us to see that moral progress — a move toward empathy — is our only hope.

TED | Talks | Robert Wright: How cooperation (eventually) trumps conflict (video)

Richard St. John: Secrets of success. TED | Talks | (video)

Why do people succeed? Because they're smart? Or lucky? How about: Neither. Richard St. John compacts more than a decade of research into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success. (Hint: Passion, persistence, and pushy mothers help.) Inspired by a chance encounter with a high school student who asked him how to become a success, St. John interviewed more than 500 successful people, then distilled what they told him into eight simple principles.

TED | Talks | Richard St. John: Secrets of success in 8 words, 3 minutes (video)

Stephen Petranek: 10 ways the world could end. TED | Talks | (video)

Stephen Petranek reveals the question that occupies scientists at the end of the day (and the beginning of happy hour): How might the world end? He lays out the challenges that face us in the drive to preserve the human race. Will we be wiped out by an asteroid? Eco-collapse? How about a particle accelerator gone wild?

TED | Talks | Stephen Petranek: 10 ways the world could end (video)

Scuba Diving in Thailand and Burma

Introduction to Computer Technology

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Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience - Wikibooks

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"Friendly" Dictators

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Newtonian Physics, by Benjamin Crowell

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Japanese Coast Guard vs. north korean spy trawler!

Here's video footage of the Japanese Coast Guard tracking and engaging a north korean spy trawler. The events occur over several hours of daylight and night. It looks like the NK spy trawler refused to be boarded after warning shots with a minigun, it was set afire, stayed afloat, rammed, then the NK's shot at the JCG with automatic rifle fire and RPG(s). Then the Japanese crews really opened up on them and the spy trawler was set afire again and exploded. The last few seconds show the damage to the JCG vessel(s).

Shockwaves from explosions

Tor Privacy: Overview

Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.
Individuals use Tor to keep websites from tracking them and their family members, or to connect to news sites, instant messaging services, or the like when these are blocked by their local Internet providers. Tor's hidden services let users publish web sites and other services without needing to reveal the location of the site. Individuals also use Tor for socially sensitive communication: chat rooms and web forums for rape and abuse survivors, or people with illnesses.
Journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers and dissidents. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Tor to allow their workers to connect to their home website while they're in a foreign country, without notifying everybody nearby that they're working with that organization.
Groups such as Indymedia recommend Tor for safeguarding their members' online privacy and security. Activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are supporting Tor's development as a mechanism for maintaining civil liberties online. Corporations use Tor as a safe way to conduct competitive analysis, and to protect sensitive procurement patterns from eavesdroppers. They also use it to replace traditional VPNs, which reveal the exact amount and timing of communication. Which locations have employees working late? Which locations have employees consulting job-hunting websites? Which research divisions are communicating with the company's patent lawyers?
A branch of the U.S. Navy uses Tor for open source intelligence gathering, and one of its teams used Tor while deployed in the Middle East recently. Law enforcement uses Tor for visiting or surveilling web sites without leaving government IP addresses in their web logs, and for security during sting operations.
The variety of people who use Tor is actually part of what makes it so secure. Tor hides you among the other users on the network, so the more populous and diverse the user base for Tor is, the more your anonymity will be protected.

Why we need Tor
Using Tor protects you against a common form of Internet surveillance known as "traffic analysis." Traffic analysis can be used to infer who is talking to whom over a public network. Knowing the source and destination of your Internet traffic allows others to track your behavior and interests. This can impact your checkbook if, for example, an e-commerce site uses price discrimination based on your country or institution of origin. It can even threaten your job and physical safety by revealing who and where you are. For example, if you're travelling abroad and you connect to your employer's computers to check or send mail, you can inadvertently reveal your national origin and professional affiliation to anyone observing the network, even if the connection is encrypted.
How does traffic analysis work? Internet data packets have two parts: a data payload and a header used for routing. The data payload is whatever is being sent, whether that's an email message, a web page, or an audio file. Even if you encrypt the data payload of your communications, traffic analysis still reveals a great deal about what you're doing and, possibly, what you're saying. That's because it focuses on the header, which discloses source, destination, size, timing, and so on.
A basic problem for the privacy minded is that the recipient of your communications can see that you sent it by looking at headers. So can authorized intermediaries like Internet service providers, and sometimes unauthorized intermediaries as well. A very simple form of traffic analysis might involve sitting somewhere between sender and recipient on the network, looking at headers.
But there are also more powerful kinds of traffic analysis. Some attackers spy on multiple parts of the Internet and use sophisticated statistical techniques to track the communications patterns of many different organizations and individuals. Encryption does not help against these attackers, since it only hides the content of Internet traffic, not the headers.

The solution: a distributed, anonymous network
Tor helps to reduce the risks of both simple and sophisticated traffic analysis by distributing your transactions over several places on the Internet, so no single point can link you to your destination. The idea is similar to using a twisty, hard-to-follow route in order to throw off somebody who is tailing you—and then periodically erasing your footprints. Instead of taking a direct route from source to destination, data packets on the Tor network take a random pathway through several servers that cover your tracks so no observer at any single point can tell where the data came from or where it's going.

To create a private network pathway with Tor, the user's software or client incrementally builds a circuit of encrypted connections through servers on the network. The circuit is extended one hop at a time, and each server along the way knows only which server gave it data and which server it is giving data to. No individual server ever knows the complete path that a data packet has taken. The client negotiates a separate set of encryption keys for each hop along the circuit to ensure that each hop can't trace these connections as they pass through.

Once a circuit has been established, many kinds of data can be exchanged and several different sorts of software applications can be deployed over the Tor network. Because each server sees no more than one hop in the circuit, neither an eavesdropper nor a compromised server can use traffic analysis to link the connection's source and destination. Tor only works for TCP streams and can be used by any application with SOCKS support.
For efficiency, the Tor software uses the same circuit for connections that happen within the same ten minutes or so. Later requests are given a new circuit, to keep people from linking your earlier actions to the new ones.

Hidden services
Tor also makes it possible for users to hide their locations while offering various kinds of services, such as web publishing or an instant messaging server. Using Tor "rendezvous points," other Tor users can connect to these hidden services, each without knowing the other's network identity. This hidden service functionality could allow Tor users to set up a website where people publish material without worrying about censorship. Nobody would be able to determine who was offering the site, and nobody who offered the site would know who was posting to it.

Staying anonymous
Tor can't solve all anonymity problems. It focuses only on protecting the transport of data. You need to use protocol-specific support software if you don't want the sites you visit to see your identifying information. For example, you can use web proxies such as Privoxy while web browsing to block cookies and withhold information about your browser type.
Also, to protect your anonymity, be smart. Don't provide your name or other revealing information in web forms. Be aware that, like all anonymizing networks that are fast enough for web browsing, Tor does not provide protection against end-to-end timing attacks: If your attacker can watch the traffic coming out of your computer, and also the traffic arriving at your chosen destination, he can use statistical analysis to discover that they are part of the same circuit.

The future of Tor
Providing a usable anonymizing network on the Internet today is an ongoing challenge. We want software that meets users' needs. We also want to keep the network up and running in a way that handles as many users as possible. Security and usability don't have to be at odds: As Tor's usability increases, it will attract more users, which will increase the possible sources and destinations of each communication, thus increasing security for everyone. We're making progress, but we need your help. Please consider running a server or volunteering as a developer.
Ongoing trends in law, policy, and technology threaten anonymity as never before, undermining our ability to speak and read freely online. These trends also undermine national security and critical infrastructure by making communication among individuals, organizations, corporations, and governments more vulnerable to analysis. Each new user and server provides additional diversity, enhancing Tor's ability to put control over your security and privacy back into your hands.

Tor: Overview

Misquoting Jesus, The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible & Why, Bart D. Ehrman

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A Short History of Art, Julia B. Deforest, 1921

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History of Art, Elie Faure, 1921

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C-130 Hercules Drop Disaster