Oh yes, the relaxing TTC, where I don’t spent every journey wondering whether one of the screaming people walking up and down the subway train is going to stab me. Related: This uncivil city


One genre which I enjoy reading is non-fiction about espionage and counterespionage. Recently released Cuban spy in the USA Ana Montes is an interesting story from several perspectives, including ideological motivation, tradecraft, and the challenges in countering insider attacks against the intelligence services. Related: Protecting sources and methods How useful are spies? Spies and the […]

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One inescapable but confounding element of trying to understand politics, international relations, and history up to the present day is that we don’t have access to what governments are doing in secret. We will need to re-write the history of these times decades from now, if circumstances and freedom of information laws permit historians to […]


The first pile at Hanford generated 250 million watts—250 megawatts or MW—of thermal power and produced each year about a hundred kilograms of plutonium. A rule of thumb is that a megawatt of fission heat in a natural uranium reactor accompanies the production of about a gram of plutonium-239 per day. About six kilograms were […]


“So accept the favours, sway the key blocs, and you will get into power — ruling with actions that look contradictory and stupid to those who don’t understand the game: privately helping a powerful industry you publicly denounced, or passing laws that hurt a bloc that voter for you. But your job isn’t to have […]

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Christopher Chivvis has an article in The Guardian about the danger of escalation to the use of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine crisis: There are possible other paths toward further escalation, but they all eventually lead toward the nuclear threshold. Scores of war games carried out by the United States and its allies in the […]


Theoretically, nuclear fission could play a big role in providing energy-rich lifestyles to people around the world without climate change. At the same time, there are severe economic, social, and political headwinds to even maintaining existing capacity, much less building more. Now, I fear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will add further causes for concern. […]


Everyone is aware of the placebo effect, in which a mock or inert intervention like a sugar pill in a clinical trial will nonetheless produce what seem like real effects to the people who receive it. The nocebo effect is the opposite: where people exposed to something harmless can experience apparent ill effects because they […]


The most disturbing thing about the January 6th riot and Trump coup attempt has been the reaction of American politicians. Despite being witnesses and targets of the attack, politics as usual has persisted, including Trump’s dominance of the Republican party. This suggests a substantial danger that Americans in power will choose the victory of their […]


The scope of the Israeli request for French technological assistance, the details of which Shimon Peres spelled out in Paris in 1956/1957, was tantamount to a national proliferation commitment. Enough is now known about the extent of the Dimona deal to appreciate how determined Ben-Gurion was to pursue it. The Dimona nuclear complex was designed […]

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