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I am aware that site performance here is less than ideal in at least three ways:

  • Sometimes pages are simply slow to load
  • Pages that do exist sometimes fail to load entirely, producing a 404 error instead
  • Sometimes, pages load without images or CSS, showing only text

It’s much worse on the administrative side, with frequent page load errors and constant problems with image file uploads.

This site is WordPress-based, which means it uses PHP and a MySQL database. Instead of generating each page dynamically every time it is requested, it uses WP SuperCache, and I have tried experimenting with the plugins various settings, so far without fully resolving the problems.

The site is hosted on DreamHost’s standard, approximately $100/year unlimited storage / unlimited bandwidth shared hosting plan. It would be possible to upgrade to a virtual private server, but it’s significantly more expensive and offers rather limited storage (only 30GB for the cheapest plan).

I will work on trying to diagnose exactly what’s causing these speed and reliability problems. If WP-savvy people have any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

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Gwynne Dyer makes some good points about glacier/snowpack, river flow, and geopolitical stability in this video, at 39 minutes 18 seconds:

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Nevertheless, the exact nature of launch authorization procedures is ambiguous. Several sources refer to a system of two separate codes—one civilian and the other military—amounting to a “dual key” system. However, several authoritative accounts mention a three-man rule. In particular, the code to arm a weapon can only be inserted in the presence of three persons. It is possible that a two-man rule is adopted for movement of warheads and a three-man rule is adopted for employment authorization. According to Pakistani planners, the number of persons involved varies “for technical reasons”—three at some points in the chain of command, two at other points.

Pakistan is not explicit about its arrangements for weapons security, but it has developed physical safety mechanisms and firewalls both in the weapon systems themselves, as well as in the chain of command. No single individual can operate a weapon system, nor can one individual issue the command for nuclear weapons use. The NCA command and control system ensures that weapons can be operationally ready on short notice, yet unauthorized arming and/or use never takes place.

Pakistan does not keep its nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. The nuclear weapons are few in number and probably kept in disassembled form; their components are reportedly stored separately, at dispersed sites. Keeping the weapons in a disassembled form, along with the use of authorization codes, reduces the risk of capture or unauthorized use. Naturally, there is considerable uncertainty about the location of Pakistani nuclear weapons and about procedures for actual use. After September 11, Pakistan ordered a redeployment of the country’s nuclear arsenal to at least six secret new locations, according to one account. Fissile materials are obviously stored in secret locations; probably in initial stages they are near installations such as Kahuta or Khushab, or close to Rawalpindi. Additionally, from a security standpoint sensitive material sites are carefully chosen, in safe areas and within quick reach of designated rapid reaction forces, which are specially trained and operate under command of the security division of SPD. Although Pakistan’s system is not as sophisticated as the U.S. permissive action links (PALs), it is deemed reliable enough to preclude unauthorized arming or launching of its nuclear weapons.

Dummy locations are also reportedly employed to minimize the risks of destruction or capture. SPD Head Lieutenant-General Khalid Kidwai, in a lecture at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in October 2006, clarified that “no delegation of authority concerning nuclear weapons is planned.” The conclusion, therefore, is that centralized control is retained by the NCA at the Joint Services Headquarters. Beyond this clarification, operational control plans cannot be made public by any nuclear state and thus remain a national security secret, as was the case with the United States and other nuclear powers during the Cold War.

Khan, Feroz Hassan. Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb. Stanford University Press; Stanford. 2012. p. 331–2

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Walking around Toronto, every day I see people searching through domestic recycling bins and municipal recycling containers looking for alcohol containers which they can return for the deposit at the Beer Store. It generally strikes me as a massive waste of human labour.

The deposit system (which also exists for non-alcoholic drink containers, but which I think pays less for them) exists to discourage people from throwing away recyclable glass and aluminium containers. I do not, however, see any benefit for them being recycled through the Beer Store rather than the municipal recycling system. When people put beer cans and bottles, wine bottles, and liquor bottles into the municipal recycling system, I presume they are recycled just as effectively, and the deposits people paid put a little extra profit in the hand of liquor sellers who then don’t need to refund it.

It seems quite wasteful that people with the energy and motivation to spend their days looking for these bottles don’t put their effort toward something that actually adds value to society. It’s a weird distortion created by the deposit system that it’s possible to earn money this way. Perhaps it’s the sort of thing a basic minimum income would discourage, or perhaps keep undertaking this pointless but personally remunerative activity regardless.

The National Post and Globe & Mail have both reported on the phenomenon: Living on empties: City’s bottle-collectors say their hard work pays off — in cash; The secret lives of Toronto’s Chinese bottle ladies

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