Category Archives: Politics

Double Post Part 1: From the Archives: Nukes (July 22)

Okay, it’s past midnight where I am, so I’ll post this now and have something else for you all later today.
Since the first nuclear test in 1945 at the White Sands Missile Range, then White Sands Proving Ground, there have been around 2000-2100 nuclear detonations in either the form tests or use as a weapon. Of these about 1000 are American, 700 are Soviet/Russian, 200 are French, 45 are British, 45 are Chinese, 6 are Indian, 6 are Pakistani, and two are North Korean. Unconfirmed tests include Iranian, German and Japanese devices. The three most prolific testing years were, in order of most tests to least, 1961, 1958 and 1968. About 140 nuclear tests occurred in 1961, with about 100 of those being American. The longest period of time between two nuclear tests was a span of about 100 months from June 1998 to October 2006. Since 1998, the only nation to perform confirmed nuclear tests has been North Korea. The “Doomsday Clock” is a subjective measure of the danger of nuclear catastrophe based on current events. Initially set at 11:53, the closest the Doomsday Clock has gotten to midnight (global nuclear disaster) was 11:53 in 1953. The farthest the Doomsday Clock has been from midnight was in 1991 when the clock was set to 11:43. The Doomsday Clock is currently set to 11:55


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The Three Worlds

Generally, the terms first-world and third-world are used to describe rich countries and poor countries, respectively. But how did the terms get their start? You don’t actually have to look too far back, because the terms arose, under slightly different meanings, during the Cold War. ‘First world’ used to refer to the United States and its allies, most of which were democratic and capitalist, ‘Second World’ used to refer to the Soviet Union, its allies, and other communist or socialist states, and ‘Third world’ referred to neutral or unaligned nations. Under the old definitions, the wealthy nation of Switzerland would have been considered a “third world nation”, while the relatively poor nations of Burma and Mozambique would have been considered “first world nations”. Finally, a more recent term “fourth world” refers to smaller populations, typically those excluded from global or industrial societies.

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Double Post: Subsidies and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

Again, I’m sorry for missing a day, but I’ll do some related topics in today’s double post: Subsidies and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Subsidies are support income provided by the government to certain companies, namely agriculture and energy providers. In the past, these sectors were weak and needed support from their companies otherwise life in general would collapse (no food, no electricity, no fuel, etc.). I’m not going to argue that subsidies are not needed, I’m no expert in economics and it’s not my place to do so, but some subsidies, such as those that pay farmers not to farm (which I’ll get to in a bit because it has a little to do with the next topic) are counter-intuitive.

So what does paying farmers not to farm have to do with the Prisoner’s Dilemma? First we have to know what the Prisoner’s Dilemma is. Say we take two prisoners, Alvin and Bruce, who have together committed a crime (the details aren’t exactly important). If either one sells out the other, and the other confesses, the one who confessed gets one year in prison while the one who betrayed gets off free, if both betray each other, both will get three months in prison, and if both confess, both get only one month in prison. It’s, individually, in both Alvin’s and Bruce’s to betray, but it’s in their collective interest if they both confess. We see something similar in raw food prices. If a farmer produce large amounts of food, that food will be worth less due to inflation, than it would be if they produced less, but if farmer produce less food they are at the whim of the markets and could get in trouble due to other farmers potentially producing more food and driving prices down. That’s the farmer’s dilemma, and that’s where subsidies come in.

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Richest American Presidents

I’m going to keep this as unbiased as I can. Since the ratification of the Constitution of the United States only nine presidents have had a net worth of less than one million dollars (adjusted for inflation, all figures are in 2010 US Dollars, some presidents who are considered to be millionaires now may not have been when they were alive). The richest American President to date was John F. Kennedy who had a net worth (again, in 2010 dollars) of around one billion dollars. The next richest President was George Washington, with a net worth of 525 million dollars. The current president, Barack Obama, has a net worth of around 5 million dollars, largely from book sales, and is currently the 28th wealthiest. The nine Presidents who were not millionaires are, in order of the dates they were President, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman. Finally, since the 2012 United States Presidential Elections are approaching, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney currently has a net worth of about 200 million dollars and, should he be elected President, he would be the fourth wealthiest, behind Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.

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