Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Damned

That would be me.

Y'see, that proposal that I made to the center director for SuperComputing 05 was accepted. This has caused me no end of grief. It's teh reason that I have not been writing in my blog lately. Why would that cause this? Well, I have to have a solid proposal and full conference paper ready by a week from tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. Getting the proposal down in one thing. The fact that my boss' boss added that he wanted me to participate in all of the challenges with this proposal was a whole different ball game! I was planning on putting up something for the StorCloud Challenge. He felt that the proposal only needed a small tweak to make it an excellent candidate for the Trifecta Award for a demonstration that would participate in all three SC05 challenges: StorCloud, Bandwidth, and the Analytics Challenges.

Oh Fraq!!!

I've started the paper. I have found some collaborators. One to help with the paper. One to help with the networking. Another to help with the actual simulation. I'm trying to rope in the one of the analysis types as well. To with the triple crown award, you don't have to win each of the individual awards. You just have to participate and do something very interesting. I'm doing that. Something very interesting. Real science on the floor of SC05.

The stress level is absolutely insane. The deadlines are worse. This might even be impossible.




Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Quick Thoughts

Okie! I was more than a little busy yesterday. I was working on finishing the cluster file system paper (it's ready for it's first reaming,a hem, review except for the section on the unique capabilities of the file systems. Oh, I better say what its on better than this? I did a comparison of cluster file systems that can share teh same disks between Linux machines and AIX machines. This boiled down to IBM's GPFS 2.3, ADIC's SNFS 2.5, and IBM's SFS 2.2 (aka StorageTank). There was a lot of comparison between the three. However, the one section that remains to be written is the unique capabilities section. The problem is that SFS has a lot of things different than normal for a file system. In fact, this thing when its mature is gonna just plain rock. However, maturity is a couple more years from now at least. This is my second paper. The first one was my 'trials and tribulations' paper on getting GPFS 2.2 to share a single instance of storage (aka disks) between Linux and AIX boxes.

That was half of the day. The latter half. The earlier half was spent entertaining my daughter in the dentist's office. Why? Because my wife had Yet Another Dentist Appointment. If I ever meet a Ukrainian dentist, they better have plate mail and kelvar on. The work they did for my wife when she was young is plain old fashion shit. No worse than that. Now we're paying for it. The end is in sight though. Hopefully by the end of the month we'll have done all the work that's gotta get done short of whitening. All I can say is that I am delighted that we have dental insurance. This wouldn't have been possible at all if we didn't. There's been damned serious work done in there. The cost has already been staggering without insurance...*horrified look*

I also started an email exchange with an architect. The intent is to find out if there's someone willing to work on the design with me for the house. I know at times I can be a PITA. For a house, I betcha I'd be a royal PITA. That's a crap load of dinero. I don't want to see it get flushed down the toilet...or creek as it may be. I dragged out all of my architecture books last night and plopped them down in front of my wife. I told her that I really wanted her input on the house and that she needed to do a bit of crawling through the styles and such to pick out details she likes (or doesn't). She agreed. She's always told me that she loves what I come up with her input, but I really don't want to have her unhappy that she didn't get any input at all for the house after we live there.

Also at work, I proposed that NERSC (where I work) do an application for StorCloud @ SC05 rather than just set up the file systems for other groups. I want to do soem real science on the floor of SC05 using a centralized file system. The work would require different machines: one for preprocessing, another for the simulation, another for postprocessing and finally for visualization and analytics. All done on the floor of SC05. I proposed four different groups that I could work with. The one I am really hoping for is the climate folks. I proposed it a little while back and got backing from my boss for it. His boss and the top dog of SC05 hasn't voted up nor down on it yet. :S

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

One more

Gonna be busy tomorrow

So I am going to put up some baby pictures. Enjoy!

Hip Baby

[Home Architecture]: Wow that was quick

I got the response back from the planning director. We have an appointment come Monday at 2 pm.

[Home Architecture]: So it begins...

I made contact with the building department in that town I'm looking at in Marin County. They gave me a call back this morning. They're going to make an appointment with the director of planning and the bulding dept so that we can go over all that needs to be done (if anything can at all). The man I talked to stated that it is very possible to build in their town, there just needs to be some patience.

I've also started to proactively reach out to the people that might be opposed to us building on that property we climbed around on. I have a feeling that if I can get these folks to sign on, this would go rather smoothly. I have to be diplomatic and creative here. I have to get them to want this as much as I do or at least not want to object because of the carrots and morsels that could come of this. This biggest challenge would come from the people trying to protect or improve the watershed. Actually, I'd like to work with them to improve the watershed at the same time as building.

We'll see what comes of this. I hope it works out. If this does, it'll move up our time table for a home considerably.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Singularity Sky review postponed

This will have to wait a couple days. Too many things happening right now.


Behind the Green Door: Return of the Mosasaurs?

After thinking about the book I read a few back (Sea Dragons), I started pondering the mosasaurs. They were speciating quite prolificly in the 25 million years prior to the KT Event. They seem to have been something of a success story in their adapting to the sea. They're also rather interesting and look like a crocodile, monitor lizard, and eel had waaaay too much to drink one night doing some rather unnatural things. Mosasaurs are supposed to be relatively close relatives to to the varanids (monitor lizards). We definitely have a number of species there alive and well.

James Nicoll created for SHWI a thread called 'Behind the Green Door' where the US found a wormhole that opened up to the far, far future (250 million years) where humanity had died out. Life has undergone some rather radical changes. There are intelligent, land living octopi. There are others that are equally strange. Birds have all but gone extinct: the sea going ratites are all that are left. It sounds like whales and such are long gone too.

It occurred to me that 'what-if' the mosasaurs reemerged? The varanids (or their descendants) are prolly still around. They're an amazingly versatile bunch. There is an inland sea in the map of future earth that James was using. It's equitorial and would prolly be rather warm. If the sea going ratites evolved in Australia, it means that they are 'restricted' to the World Ocean (was Pacific) rather than the Inland Ocean (was Atlantic). The varanids live in a lot of the places that are going to be along that second ocean...

Just a thought.

Alternately, if by some blessed chance that the Marine Iguana survives humanity and the passing of the whales, etc, then they have a chance to be a major seagoing critter too. That'd be...interesting.

Sunset on Mars

As seen from the NASA Mars Rover Spirit:

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Most Earthlike Extrasolar Planet Yet

8 Earth masses around a red dwarf. Too close for life, but we're getting better at detecting the planets now.

Read about it here.

I miss working in astronomy (as a student @LANL). :S

Weekend Activities

We had a pretty fun weekend. At least I thought so. Besides to runs to go shoppping for groceries, we went and looked at a property to build on. There is one that is relatively inexpensive and still a large piece of land close enough that I can commute to and from work. It's about 45 minutes away during the good times and about an half and change during the bad. It's also .4 acres. The problem is that to build there, we'd have to get a variance with the city its in since most of it is creek bed. My wife and I have been discussing what we could do for mitigation for the construction. We've got a few good ideas that I just discussed this morning with someone at work that's done a good deal of construction work: he thinks they're very good ones that ought to be excellent for convincing the city in question. With that encouragement, we're going to do all the research we can prior to buying the property.

If you didn't notice on SHWI, I love architecture. I have become enthralled with variants of Byzantine architecture. I love the churches of Thessalonica and Mystra. I even have rolled a few threads on alternate archiectures. One of which was to seek out ideas of a house waaay back. The architecture thread that I am most proud of comes from my Morean Empire TL. There I wrote about the Senate of Trebizond and its architectual design while hinting at politics and history up through the Age of Tourism.

For the house, if we get to build it, I am going to take my base of extrapolation to be Byzantine architecture. I'd like to steal a thing or two from the architecture that comes from the Great Camps of the Adirondacks in New York. I especially like Camp Topridge (and here) and its style of everything having grown from into place. However, I am equally salivating over Art Nouveau for the interior designs. There are bits and pieces from other eras and places, but the biggest contributor that I can think of I'd love to incorporate (or mutate and then incorporate) would be the hallway and entrance from Bag End in the movie version of _The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring_. IDK how much we'll be able to incorporate in this first house. We shall see though.

I'll be sure to post pictures when the time comes. If it does.

Where I work now and then

I'm kinda amazed that Google has this first one up, but...

HELSTF (High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility) @ White Sands Missile Range and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

Friday, June 10, 2005

ESA Supports Russia's Kliper

ESA's director of human spaceflight has been quoted as saying that ESA will support the development of Russia's proposed Kliper spacecraft. It's a follow-on to Russia's very old, but reliable Soyuz design. The Kliper is something of an answer to NASA's CEV (Lockmart's version is here) . However, there's a note that the Russians via ITAR-TASS are saying this and not the European media. There's been false starts from there before. However, I ahve to wonder how much of this is to ensure an independant access to space from NASA or China.

Space Race? HOOOOYAH!

LANL Whistleblower's Beating Revisited


It seems that the plot thickens.

That seems a bit more plausible than what I had thought was happening. Seems everyone was found and the cops have turned the whole thing over to the DA. Hitting a pedestrian outside a strip bar is not such a wise thing to do.

Russia and NATO...again

The Russians are oozing paranoia again while showing the world exactly how toothless they are. Frex. There are some good reasons not to like NATO, but its not eactly built around the idea of launching offensive operations against the Soviet Union, ahem, Russia.

The reason that Georgia and Ukraine would like to become members is to avoid being swallowed by a resurgent, or at least revanchist, Russia. Under the umbrella of NATO protection that is not possible. If you read at least Ukraine's history, I think you can understand the sentiment. I wish I had even a basic knowledge of Georgian history to make any comments from that POV: its on the list, but down there a ways.

I my ideal world, Russia would be getting ready to make their own leap into NATO and the EU. They'd have another decade and change to get there, but I'd think they'd really want to do this. Their falling population, weak borders, decaying military, and having an aggressive and growing future superpower on its southeastern border makes it seem to me that finding permanent friends in the form of NATO and EU membership an obvious and even best possible choice.

However, the Russians don't think like that. At least those in power. There's this damned Great Russian mentality that haunts and infects almost all their decisions. Russia has been one of the great nations in terms of power for a very long time (mostly true, at least since the beginning of the modern era, but only true now because of their decaying nuclear arsenal) and will be for the far, far future (prolly false). The chauvanism that runs through this mentality can be seen through their attitudes to Ukrainians, frex, in that they see it as there are no Ukrainians, only malorus - Little Russians. Through this, they have alienated even the Left Bank Ukrainians who are russophonic.

The Great Russians seem to believe that they can continue and stand as a separate pillar of power in the future. They have convinced themselves that Russia can have all the influence that the old Soviet Union had or at least that of what Czarist Russia had. If you look at the growth rates, I don't think its going to be possible. Brazil is in the process of overtaking Russia as an economic power. The EU, PRC, USA, and Republic of India are all leaping ahead like economic juggernauts with ten league boots. Sadly, the rate Russia is growing and her true economic and military strength will put her in a position to be at best playing a Canada or Finland tune to either the EU or the PRC.

They say pride goeth before the fall. This pride seems to be lasting even through the first fall. That might have been the disentegration of the Soviet Union was the smaller of the two falls. We'll see if the coming one will be as bad. It might be. It might be worse. Their - the Great Russian - irrelevancy to the rest of the world might be interesting to see as time and again they're ignored for the EU, American, Indian, or Chinese opinions. Hopefully it won't spawn anything ugly.

Finished _Singularity Sky_

I was planning on reviewing the book during lunch here, but I accidently left the book at home. There are some things I wanted to quote rather than simply recite from memory so that I could get them right. I have been known to misremember things at times and I didn't want to do that here.

I can say that I rather enjoyed the book. It did something that I've been wanting for some time. The future felt like The FUTURE rather than a tacked on bit of tech in the present day. He captured that sense. It was great. Well done, Charlie.

There are some things I rather didn't like. That's fine for when it comes to the meaning of $TECH or some such. However, there are some problems with the way the story was told that I didn't care for. When I get the book at home, if I have time this weekend, I'll write my review with quotes so I can keep everything straight.

I am now thinking whether or not I will read The Pentagon's New Map, AI for Game Developers, or Centauri Dreams next. I do need to put up a post on my thoughts on Gregory Benford's Tides of Light and the rest of the Galactic Center series.

I have to think up what I am going to purchase next month for books. I am almost out of books to read and the month is only a third done. I've been reading at a faster pace again and this will prolly consume the remaining three books by month's end. I have to remember its my wife's birthday though next month, so we might have to do that first...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

France and the EU Constitution: A Finnish Perspective

Jussi Jalonen has been an interesting man to discuss history and interact with over the years online. In a discussion on alt.history.future, he made me laugh with his irritation with France over their no vote for the EU Constitution:

Again, I have to wonder why the hell this Union really needs to have France as a member. Personally, I think that the EU should organize a swap with the U.S.; basically, Brussels would voluntarily transfer France under the federal authority of Washington, and in return, the EU would get one or two U.S. states to work with. Preferably some that would be easier to handle than the present-day France, and would have a more intelligent population - Mississippi or Florida would do nicely, for example.



Couldn't help it.

SC 05

It seems that I am actually listed as part of the StorCloud Initiative comittee for SC05!



China has a diplomatic mishap in Oz

The attempted defection of one of China's diplomats in Australia has sparked off a media frenzy and Beijing is preparing for further embarrassing 'revelations' about its intelligence activities. Chen Yonglin, until recently a consular official at the Chinese consulate in Sydney, decided to go public with a claim that Beijing has "up to 1,000 spies" operating in Australia and has used its network of agents to "kidnap" Chinese dissidents in the country with the aim of returning them to China.

Stolen from Jane's (here).

Oh my. 1000 spionen, eh?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Keeping with Tradition: Baby and a Dinosaur

A little late...doh.

Duct Tape, Please?

There are some people in politics, often in very important positions, that really, truly do more damage than good. How? Their mouths. They simply spit out extremely stupid comments that actually do more damage to their cause than help. Unfortunately, right now in US politics, it seems that both sides are spewing self-detrimental nonsense.

In the Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld is someone that the liberal application of duct tape would immensely help the US in foreign policy. His idiotic comments that piss off Europe right and left, frex, did more to damage to US making its case of going in and rooting out Saddam than anything else that was done. He kept pissing me off during the run up to the war and since with his idiotic comments. This isn't news really anymore. Gin Rummy fracking idiot.

Right now, Howard Dean is doing the same thing again and again for the Democratic Party. He's decided that he is the one to energize the Democrats into being able to retake the White House and Congress. Unfortunately, he's off pissing off a good portion of this country by smacking Republicans claiming their a monolithic and inflexible party. In some ways true - the conservative, Christian wing has a stranglehold (for now) on some portions of the agenda - but if you're going to recapture the White House you have to court the moderates of the GOP. However, Dean's effectively threatening to do the same stranglehold on his own party but with the very liberal wing rather than the conservative christians.

Dean's motormouth even has other Democrats running for cover.

Thank all taht's good and light in the world that he blew his chance at getting into the White House. Even so, could someone pass the duct tape, please? I don't want another *Bush in the head office.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

LANL Whistleblower Beaten

Los Alamos National Lab was somewhere I enjoyed working at. I worked there my senior year of high school and loved it. I lived in Los Alamos for 8 years (+/-). My father still works there and old friends still work there. I work at a sister lab for Los Alamos (Berkeley). I support UC and think that UC should keep the contract for LANL:the environment there is far, far better than the Labs run by blodd sucking defense contractors. That said...

The beating of the whistleblower has made me sick. WTF were the people thinking that did it? Tommy Hooks, whatever I may think of his whole situation prior to this, would not stop talking short of his death. So trying to beat him up - badly - just prior to his congressional testamony is amazingly stupid. If anything that lends more credance that he was onto something...

The thing is that some of this incident just doesn't make too much sense. There's a blog of LANL employees and there are some interesting and shocking accusations being tossed around. One of the most interesting is that Tommy Hooks' wife was out of town while he was at the stripper bar where he was consequently beaten.

Additionally, POGO has a pretty bad rep at LANL and that's Tommy's biggest backers in a lot of this ... mess.

IDK what to think. The beating of a whistleblower is not the Los Alamos I know and love. It's not the one I went back and visited. Even if I think that he's more full of hot air than not (the Mustang was attempted to be bought on a stolen credit card # and the total amount of dinero missing dropped to less than .01%, iirc), I sure as hell hope that they catch the SOBs that did this...whatever the real scenario that lead up to the beating might have been.

Sorry this is so late in the day. Denistry is an evil and time consuming hobby it seems. Esp if you're correcting Ukrainian dentists work. grr.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Sea Dragons: Predators Of The Prehistoric Oceans

I just finished this book. It was a pretty good read. I think it needed another run through by an editor. Not because it was a horrible bit of writing that was still wet between the bricks, but for the effect of tightening up bits. Some parts of the book were repetitive. Other parts were just a tad too obscure for the average reader (I'm lucky, I grew up with a palaeoanthropologist for an Aunt and she encouraged by passion for dinosaurs and paleontology big time). Is it worth the $14 I paid? Yup. Definitely. A good addition fot eh library that my kid(s) will enjoy later in life.

The book itself is divided in six sections. The first is the introduction and discusses the first finds of the extinct marine reptiles. He then delves each of the unique marine reptiles by order of evolution. Ichthyosaurs are the first up. These fish lizards are rather interesting. Equally so that they went extinct long before the KT Event. Next are the plesiosaurs. The long necked carnivores are still causing controversy on how they swam and what niche they filled. Then the pliosaurs (or short necked plesiosaurs) come up. These ones seem to be aggresive pursuit predators. Finally comes the mosasaurs. The mosasaurs are interesting because they seem to be close relatives of the varanids (modern monitor lizards including the Komodo Dragon) and they evolved late in the Cretaceous appearing only 25 million years before the KT Event. They are one of the most convincing arguments for a sharp event ending the reign of the archosaurs since they were speciating and emphatetically not in decline when they suddenly disappear. The final section is conclusion of how they all went extinct. The author is not totally convinced that the Chicxulub Impact was the killer. He doesn't fofer his own suggestions thougha s to what did kill the archosaurs and friends off.

What's missing from the book were the other great water reptiles of the age. Some of the crocodilians were HUGE and at least some were sea creatures. Additionally he completely neglects the giant sea turtles (frex Archelon) Also it would have been nice at the end of a book that he could have listed the various specimens or species that have been described with some sort of blurb about the critter that makes it unique.

At any rate, enjoy the book. Next up, Charlie Stross' Singularity Sky.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Gotta Love This One Cuz Its So True

Russia warns against space based weapons

Russia has warned - again - that putting weapons in space will piss them off. The Bush administration is considering formally approving and allowing space based weapons. There has been an informal ban on them for some time. The Clinton administration was especially concerned about the weaponization of space and canned a number of programs. There are no treaties at all that ban nonuclear space based weapons. This was a pretty bad misconception about space based weapons: a lot of people thought that the ABM Treaty between the US & USSR banned such things.

It didn't.

At all.

It merely stated "Thou Shalt Not Put Weapons In Space That Shoot Down Incoming Ballistic Missiles. "


The US withdrew from the ABM Treaty under the Shrub on June 13, 2002. China and Russia promptly proposed a new treaty banning space based weapons. France, Canada, and the UK have come out against space based weapons as well. The UN seems to be pushing for the same thing.

The Russians are in a peculiar situation. They would have been the ones working to compete directly with the US back in the Soviet Unions Great Times. Now, they can't. They've been shaved of a lot of their ability to do so. I think they realize that and are now resorting to their other cards. As few as they are. One of them is a nontrivial card, but whether or not its a good enough one for this (or a successor administration) remains to be seen. That card is...

Taking aim at the United States, Russia's defense minister Thursday threatened retaliatory steps if any country puts weapons in space and said Moscow won't negotiate controls over tactical nuclear arms with nations that deploy them abroad, Russian media reported.


Ivanov's comment about negotiating controls over tactical nuclear weapons was also a clear reference to the United States, which has such arms in Europe.

"We are prepared to start talks about tactical nuclear weapons only when all countries possessing them keep these weapons on their own territory," Interfax and ITAR-Tass quoted Ivanov as saying. "Russia stores its tactical nuclear weapons on its own territory, which cannot be said about other countries."

The news agencies said Ivanov was responding to calls by former Sen. Sam Nunn for a Russian-American agreement providing for accountability of each other's tactical nuclear stockpiles, which have not been addressed by a series of treaties reducing strategic nuclear arms.

Nunn, an architect of a major program to secure and destroy nuclear weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union, has called for "transparent accountability" of tactical weapons as a safeguard against nuclear terrorism.

Russia wants to keep its tactical nuclear weapons — and to keep their number secret — to compensate for inferiority in conventional weapons, said Alexander Pikayev, a nuclear expert with the Committee of Scientists for Global Security.

The Bush administration has not publicly called for an agreement on accountability and control over tactical nuclear weapons, which do not threaten U.S. territory, Pikayev said.

Excerpted from here.

Such is their card. It's a nontrivial one, may not matter to this (or following) administrations. I am unsure how I feel about that card. Nukes are scary things indeed, buta t the same time, the Russians can't have a billion and one of them laying around in ecellent condition. They're not in a position to maintain them effectively either. On top of that, the Russians are not the only ones that we ought to making this sort of treaty with. The Chinese and others ought to be included. The Russians are not one of the top dogs anymore. They haven't been for a decade and change. Their might, such as it is, happens to be largely leftovers and those are quickly rotting.

We'll see what the diplomatic dance does. It should be interesting.

Attack of the Killer Cherub

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

When it rains, it pours

It seems that life has decided that things have been too boring and uninteresting for us for too long. We had a nice trip and we've been happy especially since Avrora's birth[1]. The universe felt this was an unnatural condition for us. Or at least me.

On May 28th, 2005, while we were in Las Vegas and a few weeks prior to his 47th birthday, Aleksandr Lysukha - my wife's father - died. He died from complications relating to his drinking problem, as we have heard. He'd been in a coma for a week+ and in the hospital for a month. Her family didn't inform us until last night. After the funeral. He was a monster in many ways and almost all of that had to do with the uber heavy drinking and he was largely estranged from his exwife and daughters. I never even met the man and since things were so strained between Lyuda's family and him he didn't know about me. He didn't know that his youngest daughter got married. He didn't know that his youngest daughter got married to an American. He didn't know about Avrora. In fact, he had been so estranged from the family that he may not have even known his youngest daughter no longer was even in the Old World anymore. Lyuda had been working up the guts to try to talk to him about all of the above. Now she never will.

Drinking in Ukraine is a plague upon men. The average male life expectancy is less than 62 years old. Some of that can be accounted for by the fact they are often working in crazy level unsafe conditions, but that's only some of them (the mines and chemical industry, frex). You might think that's its poverty that's doing this too...until you see that Ukrainian women live until past age 72. In fact, there are 1.045 boys/girls between the ages of 0-14. Between the ages of 15-64, it swings to .919 boys/girls. For ages of 65 and older, the ratio falls much further to .508. Contrast that with the approximate figures of 1.05, 1, and .72 for the same age groups for Americans or 1.05, 1, and .74 for Canadians[2]. A very large difference is that Ukrainians drink and drink damned hard. It's taking its toll. Bad.

To make matters worse, my own family is having issues. My youngest sister has had her life 100% implode. Her kids are with my other sister. Her ex is making uber threatening comments. She even started packing a gun[3] and there are nasty rumors about what exactly is going on: drugs, death threats, and more. IDK what's true, false, or just someone lying their fundament off.

I'd just like a year of no nasty wild events. Please?

1. The miracle of pregnancy is just surviving it.

2. Canada has a similar population size to Ukraine and a much better healthcare system: Ukraine's pop (I suspect) is overcounted and shrinking while Canada's is growing.

3. Yes, she lives in Texas. No, I have no idea if she has a clue about how to wield one of those things properly. Yes, she's a 'cowgirl'. She embraced Texas big time. ick. Every child of my family has turned into someone rather different. I'm the ubergeek. Tina's embraced latino culture. Tessa's embraced Texas 'culture'. Ted's a former jock/military type.