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TIL the tiny African nation of Djibouti has more foreign military bases that any other country in the world. by goatsgreetings in todayilearned

[–]goatsgreetings[S] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

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Strategically placed at the entrance to the Red Sea, commanding a large percentage of the trade and energy flows between Europe and Asia, Djibouti is home to more foreign bases than any other country.

We drove by one of the four surviving French bases. The perimeter was wide, but the building immediately reminded you of an old Foreign Legion fort, with its run-down walls and picturesque watch towers.

What a contrast to the dark and menacing Chinese naval base I had visited the day before or the autonomous city in the desert that is Camp Lemonnier, the American base.

TIL the iPhone has had "devastating, and non-obvious ramifications" for the global kidnapping trade. by goatsgreetings in todayilearned

[–]goatsgreetings[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

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[The iPhone] has also handed a huge gift to hostage takers all over the world. Today’s smartphone, with its video camera and internet connection capabilities, is a political kidnapper’s perfect accomplice. It has enabled a subtle but seismic shift in global kidnapping, reshaping the costs of taking a person, with dramatic implications for victim safety, release negotiations, and terrorist recruitment.

Before internet videos, hostage taking featured a tradeoff in the pursuit of attention, with what security scholars call costly signaling: an expensive means of conveying information that only the most resolved actors would pursue. It is a costly signal when a perpetrator is locked down with hostages in an embassy or airplane: She risks her life to gain publicity and show resolve. Conversely, a kidnapper can prioritize safety but forego attention.

The adoption of portable cameras with internet technology has eliminated the choice; now kidnappers can access the attention they desire without the cost of revealing their location. As perpetrators transformed the costs of kidnapping into benefits, this technological shift has devastating, and non-obvious ramifications for kidnapping outcomes.

TIL scientists still don't understand why living things sleep. A dedicated institute with 120 international researchers is currently investing "tremendous resources" into identifying the purpose of sleep. by goatsgreetings in todayilearned

[–]goatsgreetings[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

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Why Do We Need to Sleep? At a shiny new lab in Japan, an international team of scientists is trying to figure out what puts us under.

The [International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine] director, Masashi Yanagisawa, has created a place to study the basic biology of sleep, rather than, as is more common, the causes and treatment of sleep problems in people. Full of rooms of gleaming equipment, quiet chambers where mice slumber, and a series of airy work spaces united by a spiraling staircase, it’s a place where tremendous resources are focused on the question of why, exactly, living things sleep.

Ask researchers this question, and listen as, like clockwork, a sense of awe and frustration creeps into their voices. In a way, it’s startling how universal sleep is: In the midst of the hurried scramble for survival, across eons of bloodshed and death and flight, uncountable millions of living things have laid themselves down for a nice, long bout of unconsciousness. This hardly seems conducive to living to fight another day. “It’s crazy, but there you are,” says Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen of the University of Helsinki, a leading sleep biologist... The precise benefits of sleep are still mysterious, and for many biologists, the unknowns are transfixing.

You work at a marketing agency tasked with making crimes sound positive. What ideas do you have? by 3shirts in AskReddit

[–]goatsgreetings 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Murder is helping to reduce the harmful impacts of human population growth on the earth's climate and biodiversity.

TIL Finland trains elite soldiers in Lapland in preparation for a future war with neighbouring Russia. The two countries share an 833 mile border and were in conflict during WWII. by goatsgreetings in todayilearned

[–]goatsgreetings[S] 42 points43 points  (0 children)

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Finland shares an 833-mile border with an aggressive and unpredictable neighbor. That proximity led to a major conflict during World War II—the horrific Winter War—and even now it keeps Finns nervous about Russia’s intentions.

If you’re here [in Sodankylä, Lapland], particularly in winter, it’s probably because of the Jaegers, who are some of the most knowledgeable winter-warfare specialists in the world... today’s [training] agenda included shooting from skis, orienteering, and sled handling.

Over the next few days, the group would also have to ski-race through an obstacle course, make fires in the snow, drill ice cores, build shelters, set booby traps, slaughter and cook two reindeer in the field, and self-rescue after skiing into a frigid river. All this was preparation for the unthinkable: war with Russia.

TIL James Watson, the scientist who co-discovered the structure and function of DNA, praised Hitler's eugenic aims later in his career. by goatsgreetings in todayilearned

[–]goatsgreetings[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

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James D. Watson is the most famous American scientist since J. Robert Oppenheimer, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. That his name will roll throughout history in tandem with that of Francis Crick, his English collaborator at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, does not diminish its luster, and may even enhance it somewhat. For an achievement like the 1953 discovery of the structure and basic function of DNA, there is glory enough to go around.

[Watson] thinks it a matter of common sense that when our society gains the power to control the human gene, individuals should choose to create a better race through their offspring. In one of his essays, Watson offers a brief, and dispassionate, history of genetics and eugenics, writing that just “because of Hitler’s use of the term ‘Master Race,’ we should not feel the need to say that we never want to use genetics to make humans more capable than they are today.”

Watson continues, “If your life is going nowhere, shouldn’t you seize the chance of jump-starting your children’s future?.... Here we must not fall into the absurd trap of being against everything Hitler was for.” At least some of Hitler’s eugenic aims were laudable, the trouble was just in the implementation.

What does getting your reddit inbox flooded feel like ? by Bds8706 in AskReddit

[–]goatsgreetings 2 points3 points  (0 children)

It's pretty cool at first, but then you start getting the same replies over and over.

TIL in the middle ages and beyond it was commonly believed that witches, demons and the devil could take the form of a butterfly. by goatsgreetings in todayilearned

[–]goatsgreetings[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

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According to Joseph Glanvill’s 1681 volume Saducismus triumphatus, or, Full and plain evidence concerning witches and apparitions in two parts: the first treating of their possibility, the second of their real existence, the convicted witch Elizabeth Styles’s offering to the investigators in 1664 was that her demon sucked blood. He came to her often. Even when she was tied up in a dungeon, still he came to her pole in the form of a butterfly, to suck her blood as he always did.

Though it may seem strange to us now, that the devil came as an apparition of a butterfly was very old news in 1664. Only the bloodsucking was new. Even the great botanist and first ecologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who discovered and documented insect metamorphosis in the same century, had to be careful about her reputation and keep her room of silkworms and caterpillars secret, because there were many who still believed in witches and their power to take the form of butterflies and spoil the milk.

TIL the country of Palau is dominated by baseball to the extent that it serves as a "farm system for government service". Many Palau congressmen, senators, and heads of state have been drawn from baseball teams. by goatsgreetings in todayilearned

[–]goatsgreetings[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

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But baseball has also shaped Palau. It’s more than a national pastime here. It’s an organizing principle—or, more accurately, a re-organizing principle... colonial rule brought centralized government—and baseball—to the archipelago... Palau’s baseball leagues [now serve] as a kind of farm system for government service. Scores of congressmen, senators, diplomats, and heads of state have passed through Palau’s dugouts on their way to political power.

“Those men were nobodies before they stepped out to hit the ball. Baseball created a stage for [male] validation,” a woman from a high-ranking clan told me when I asked for her thoughts on the game. “It’s empowered men like nothing before.”

It’s hard to overstate baseball’s effect on the male Palauan mind—and, by extension, on the body politic.

What are some great movies that took place only in one location? by DaTimo in AskReddit

[–]goatsgreetings 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I saw a great movie called Elevator, the only setting for which was an elevator inside an abandoned factory.

TIL the Campi Flegrei volcano in Naples, Italy, poses a dangerous threat to 700,000 people. The coordinator of the Italian Volcanic Risk Committee says “it is not simple for 700,000 people to be evacuated” if it erupts. by goatsgreetings in todayilearned

[–]goatsgreetings[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

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The red zone, home to around 700,000 people and the Vesuvius Observatory itself, is the area most likely to be destroyed when Campi Flegrei erupts. The Civil Protection Department envisages four possible scenarios: an explosive eruption, which will be classed as small, medium, large or very large; multiple, simultaneous eruptions from different vents; a phreatic eruption, which is driven by steam; and an effusive eruption, in which the lava flows steadily.

“It is not simple for 700,000 people to be evacuated,” [Vincenzo] Morra [a professor of petrology at the University of Naples... also the co-ordinator of the Italian Volcanic Risk Committee] told me.

“It is very difficult because, in an emergency, people don’t know what they need to do. If you asked my wife, she wouldn’t know what to do. This is the problem.”