The Hiding Place: Inside the World’s First Long-Term Storage Facility for Highly Radioactive Nuclear Waste | Pacific Standard


Deep in the bedrock of Olkiluoto Island in southwest Finland a tomb is under construction. The tomb is intended to outlast not only the people who designed it, but also the species that designed it. It is intended to maintain its integrity without future maintenance for 100,000 years, able to endure a future ice age.

One hundred thousand years ago three major river systems flowed across the Sahara.

One hundred thousand years ago anatomically modern humans were beginning their journey out of Africa.

The oldest pyramid is around 4,600 years old; the oldest surviving church building is fewer than 2,000 years old.

This Finnish tomb has some of the most secure containment protocols ever devised: more secure than the crypts of the Pharaohs, more secure than any supermax prison.

It is hoped that what is placed within this tomb will never leave it by means of any agency other than the geological.

Source: The Hiding Place: Inside the World’s First Long-Term Storage Facility for Highly Radioactive Nuclear Waste – Pacific Standard

America’s Loneliness Epidemic: A Risk to Individuals and Organizations | Government Executive


Much has been written about America’s loneliness epidemic, including in the workplace.

But the word “loneliness” in the work context is a misnomer. It doesn’t capture the whole story.

What about all the individuals who might not think of themselves as lonely and yet the demands of work and task-oriented activities such as time in front of screens have crowded out time for anything more than superficial relationships?

Many people lack sufficient, positive human connection (or social connection) and may be unaware of the ramifications. Left unchecked, the deficiency of connection today presents widespread risks not just to individuals but to organizations.

From a biological standpoint, social connection is a primal human need.

Its presence appears to improve the cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems’ performance.

In contrast, studies have shown that “disconnection” is unhealthy for individuals …

Source: America’s Loneliness Epidemic: A Risk to Individuals and Organizations – Government Executive

Cyber Is the Perfect Weapon | SIGNAL Magazine


Cyber is fundamentally changing the national security landscape. David Sanger, national security correspondent for The New York Times and author of The Perfect Weapon, used his keynote address on day two of the AFCEA-GMU C4I and Cyber Center Symposium not to explain what is happening, but why this is happening.

To illustrate the new age of weaponizing information, Sanger described the differences between Watergate and the hack of the DNC in December 2016. The Russians didn’t have to do anything the Watergate hackers did.

“They didn’t have to break into the building, jimmy the lock or tape the door. In fact they never left Red Square,” said Sanger. “We know this because Dutch intelligence had cameras on them. This technology has enabled a kind-of long distance approach into the U.S. that we are only starting to get our heads around,” Sanger stressed.

Cyber attacks have become the primary way states conduct short-of-war operations against each other.

Source: Cyber Is the Perfect Weapon | SIGNAL Magazine

How to Get Ahead in a Winner Take All World | Government Executive


The wave of trust-busting and rise of unions in the early 20th century removed some of the industrial economy’s worst downsides, but industrial capitalism boomed over the ensuing decades nonetheless. Similarly, the crucial question facing ordinary Americans, no matter how the debates over corporate power play out in the years ahead, is how to harness this reality to have fulfilling careers.

That’s what my book set out to help them do—showing how cultivating adaptability and the ability to connect different type of technical skills in team-based work is crucial to thriving in these organizations.

If we want to be successful in the corporate world of the 21st century, we need to make sure we know how to work in the types of large, information-driven organizations that, one way or another, are going to remain central to the American economy.

Our careers depend on it, whether we like it or not.

Source: How to Get Ahead in a Winner Take All World – Government Executive

The Brief – Words have power | EURACTIV.com


On 12 June 1942, Anne Frank received a notebook covered by a red-and-white plaid for her 13th birthday. She made it her diary, which went on to become one of the world’s most famous books. She would have turned 90 tomorrow.

From this day until 1 August 1944, she put down in words what it was like to live in a ‘Secret Annex’, the cluster of rooms with blacked out windows above Anne’s father’s office in Amsterdam where Anne, her sister Margot, her parents and four of their acquaintances hid from the Nazis.

She recorded her most intimate thoughts and feelings, describing the pressures of communal living mixed with spells of raw terror at moments of near discovery.

Source: The Brief – Words have power – EURACTIV.com

Deepfakes, social media, and the 2020 election


What happens when you mix easy access to increasingly sophisticated technology for producing deepfake videos, a high-stakes election, and a social media ecosystem built on maximizing views, likes, and shares? America is about to find out.

As I explained in a TechTank post in February 2019, “deepfakes are videos that have been constructed to make a person appear to say or do something that they never said or did.” With continued advances in artificial intelligence-based techniques for performing detailed frame-by-frame editing, it’s easier than ever to create highly convincing depictions of events that never actually occurred.

But you don’t need AI to produce an altered video. The late May release of a video modified to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear to slur her words underscored how even rudimentary digital content manipulations can be highly effective at creating an alternate reality.

Source: Deepfakes, social media, and the 2020 election

How Ancient Cities Give Us Insight on Our Own | US News


In her new book, “Cities: The First 6,000 Years,” University of California—Los Angeles-based anthropologist Monica Smith plums the history of urban settlements, puncturing some myths along the way.

While we’re often drawn to the romantic notion of lost cities, she notes, most major ancient cities have survived to this day.

Great cities are among our sturdiest survivors, she argues, because they serve a crucial role. That’s why more than half the world’s population now lives in cities, and that proportion will only rise in coming decades.

Source: How Ancient Cities Give Us Insight on Our Own | Cities | US News

Doping Soldiers So They Fight Better – Is It Ethical? | GovExec.com


The military is constantly using technology to build better ships, warplanes, guns and armor. Shouldn’t it also use drugs to build better soldiers?

Soldiers have long taken drugs to help them fight. Amphetamines like Dexedrine were distributed widely to American, German, British and other forces during World War II and to U.S. service members in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 1991, the Air Force chief-of-staff stopped the practice because, in his words, “Jedi knights don’t need them.”

But the ban lasted only five years. DARPA, an agency that does cutting-edge research for the U.S. Department of Defense, is trying to make soldiers “kill-proof” by developing super-nutrition pills and substances to make them smarter and stronger.

New drugs that reduce the need for sleep, such as modafinil, are being tested. Researchers are even looking into modifying soldiers’ genes.

Source: Doping Soldiers So They Fight Better – Is It Ethical? – Defense – GovExec.com

Could a Lack Of Humility Be at The Root Of What Ails America? | GovExec.com


There are a lot of reasons behind the political polarization of the country and the deterioration of civic discourse.

I wonder if a lack of humility is one of them.

In his recent book, “The Death of Expertise,” national security expert Tom Nichols described a type of person each of us probably knows:

“They are young and old, rich and poor, some with education, others armed only with a laptop or a library card. But they all have one thing in common: They are ordinary people who believe they are actually troves of knowledge. [They are] convinced they are more informed than the experts, more broadly knowledgeable than the professors, and more insightful than the gullible masses…”

Interestingly, intellectual humility has become a hot topic in the field of personality psychology.

Source: Could a Lack Of Humility Be at The Root Of What Ails America? – Management Matters – Management – GovExec.com

China Is Beating the US in the Rare-Earths Game | Defense One


How to view China’s recent threat to limit domestic production of rare earths, those 16 elements that make our cellphones and smart bombs work?

It’s the latest move in a game that began before the United States realized it was even playing, that has grown more complex than U.S. leaders realize, and that is nearing a very unfortunate ending.

The game began in earnest in 1980, when the United States made two moves that gave its opponent an advantage it has never relinquished.

One was industrial: Molycorp, then the country’s largest rare earth mining and processing company, began transferring its processing technology to China (as detailed by Boston University professor Julie Michelle Klinger in Rare Earth Frontiers).

The other was regulatory: although rare earths are most easily and cheaply obtained as a byproduct of mining for other minerals, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1980 more or less inadvertently placed this activity under the same regulations as mining nuclear fuel.

Within a decade and a half, all U.S. producers of heavy rare earths shut down.

Today, China gets most of its rare earths as a no-cost byproduct of iron ore mining, while the U.S. runs one expensive, low-value specialty mine: the Mountain Pass operation in California.

Source: China Is Beating the US in the Rare-Earths Game – Defense One