Monday, May 09, 2011

Bits and Pieces - May 9, 2011

A few good pieces on Osama bin Laden finally appearing. (That means they more or less agree with my views, I guess.)

There won't be another bin Laden.

Gilles Kepel: Opportunity for Obama

Bottom line in the torture debate: We cannot become our enemy in trying to defeat him. Thanks, Matthew Alexander!

Also a bunch of nuke stuff.

This article doesn't make sense to me. The author obviously doesn't know what red oil (indeed dangerous, and real, unlike red mercury) is or how it's formed and so doesn't realize that safety in regard to it is an operational matter: how often the solvent is refreshed. The reported reactions of a couple of experts suggest to me that the safety issue goes deeper than this, but the reporter didn't probe that. Or else was making a mountain out of a molehill.

The Russians don't seem to be directly involved in the preparations for startup at Bushehr. They have seemed to be concerned about the safety of the plant.

Pavel Podvig on nuclear fuel banks. I haven't read this yet, but Podvig is usually good.

Long article in the Atlantic on a trip to the Nevada Test Site. Global Zero asked earlier today, via Twitter, whether we can "unlearn the bomb." Perhaps in a metaphorical way we can, but relative to the discussion in this article, the answer is no: what Steve Younger is talking about is a high degree of refinement that the weapons designers at Los Alamos and other places reached. If you just want a big radioactive boom, the Manhattan Project's Little Boy proved that's not extraordinarily hard if you've got lots of money and facilities. The linked photo and video shows are good, if you like nuke porn.

Finally, Felix Salmon wrote a piece last Friday on the New York Times's odd linking practices: they link only to themselves, as the Lodges and Cabots reserved their conversations. Here's one small piece of what's wrong with that. And just how trivial some of the Times's concerns can be.

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