History

Describing the period in the 1980s when Osama bin Laden was emerging as a major private fundraiser for the mujahideen resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan: The lure of an illustrious and meaningful death was especially powerful in cases where the pleasures and rewards of life were crushed by government oppression and economic deprivation. From […]

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In the 1950s, when the RBMK design was developed and approved, Soviet industry had not yet mastered the technology necessary to manufacture steel pressure vessels capacious enough to surround such large reactor cores. For that reason, among others, scientists engineers, and managers in the Soviet nuclear-power industry had pretended for years that a loss-of-coolant accident […]

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However, by concealing their past intentions, the Iraqis encouraged the assumption that those were their future intentions as well. In the first phase of the Iraqi cover-up, the hidden past intentions certainly did reflect the goals for the future of the political leadership, even though Iraqi scientists and experts knew that restarting the programs would […]

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Spies tend to make extravagant claims for their craft, but the reality of espionage is that it frequently makes little lasting difference. Politicians treasure classified information because it is secret, which does not necessarily render it more reliable than openly accessible information, and frequently makes it less so. If the enemy has spies in your […]

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Reading is an honor and a gift from a warrior or historian who—a decade or a thousand decades ago—set aside time to write. He distilled a lifetime of campaigning in order to have a “conversation” with you. We have been fighting on this planet for ten thousand years; it would be idiotic and unethical to […]

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An informative article by Peter Brannen in The Atlantic contrasts the plausible duration of the geological evidence of human civilization against the scale at which we normally designate geological epochs. It suggests convincingly that the idea of an Anthropocene epoch is misplaced: What humans are doing on the planet, then, unless we endure for millions […]

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Over the years I have written a variety of academic papers on various aspects of nuclear weapons and nuclear power: 1) Written for an undergrad international relations course at UBC and subsequently published in a journal and given an award: “The Space Race as ‘Primitive’ Warfare.” UBC Journal of International Affairs. 2005. p. 19-28. 2) […]

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Where have all the activists gone? The Varsity By Anna Osterberg Published: 7:28 pm, 17 May 2019

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Of course, the Columbia and Challenger accidents have reminded us we need to be ever vigilant. Despite more than two years of careful work to prevent foam shedding from the shuttle’s main tank, my STS-114 mission lost a large piece of foam on ascent, in a circumstance very similar to what happened to Columbia on […]

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John Fraser, former head of Massey College, has an article in today’s National Post: Canada’s First Nations and the Queen have a kinship like no other. I’d like to see a rebuttal from someone like Pamela Palmater. Personally I think it’s rather questionable to be upholding the idea that the crown has behaved honourably less […]

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