in Photo of the day

Tiffany working at the Victory Cafe


Pirate cat 2/2


Pirate cat 1/2


In an effort to control my insomnia, I bought some protective goggles which exclude blue light.

On the first night, when I put them on at 9pm, the psychological effect is profound. Suddenly, it seems obvious everywhere that I should be asleep or preparing for sleep.

I will try putting them on sometime between 9pm and midnight for a month or so and report back on the results.

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Mutual deterrence dissolves when one or both sides can remove the opponent’s ability to inflict severe damage in retaliation. In a crisis the side believing that an unacceptably large part of its retaliatory capacity could be suddenly nullified by an opponents forces might be impelled to strike preemptively. The superior side also might be motivated to undertake the first aggressive actions. Regardless of its original intentions, the stronger side could plausibly imagine a seige mentality, a use-them-or-lose them attitude, operating on the weaker side, and reason, rightly or wrongly, that it had better seize the initiative. A condition of vulnerability on both sides would further strengthen incentives for preemptive attack and pose an unacceptable risk of nuclear war. From the perspective of deterrence theory this is the worst of all hypothetical worlds.

Blair, Bruce G. Strategic Command and Control: Redefining the Nuclear Threat. 1985. p. 17 (hardcover)

This is why — as Ronald Reagan never understood — attempts at ballistic missile defence are fundamentally destabilizing.

These dynamics probably also increase the risk of nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

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Massey College common room, Toronto


After the comparative aimlessness of the long summer, I am looking forward to September. I will be teaching tutorials for a first year Canadian politics course out at U of T Mississauga and persisting with my own PhD research.

I’m looking forward to the resumption of life and lunches at Massey College, meeting new junior fellows, and hopefully seeing an uptick in energy and accomplishment among climate change activists. I’m looking forward to sleeping without sweating, the return of kiting winds after the summer doldrums, and the return of a steady (if inadequate) income.

In a charitable interpretation, the degree to which I prefer term time to the summer ‘break’ is indicative that grad school is a good place to be, even if universities somewhat unnecessarily turn a third of the year into largely unproductive time.


Orange pom poms


Somehow, this article seems indicative of the low quality of a lot of our thinking about environmental issues: Mesmerizing ‘blue whirl’ from fire tornado could be cleaner solution for oil spills: Scientists discover clean-burning blue flame while simulating a fire tornado in the lab.

It seems a particularly questionable application of the idea that technology can correct environmental problems. Calling fire tornadoes used to burn up oil spills “remediation” stretches the bounds of both vocabulary and plausibility.