Friday, September 30, 2005

Scientists Poke Holes in 'Snowball Earth' Hypothesis

"Snowball Earth" proponents, who say that Earth's oceans were long ago covered by thick ice, explain the survival of life by hypothesizing the existence of small warm spots, or refugia. On the other side, supporters of a "Slushball Earth" say the planet included large areas of thin ice or open ocean, particularly around the equator.

Now, scientists who applied innovative techniques to previously unexamined rock formations have turned up strong evidence to support the "Slushball Earth" side of the decades-long scientific debate.
Read more here.

I'm not so sure that I'd say 'decades-long scientific debate'. Last I heard this was a relatively new hypothesis (as in the last decade).

Duct Tape Award!

Today's goes to William Bennett!

Jane's: [US] Battle for Space

In August 2004 the US Air Force issued doctrine that laid out its aims for dominating space in time of conflict. The goal is to maintain the tremendous military advantages that the US and its allies and coalition partners enjoy from using satellites, the service said.

The document includes passages that outline the air force's intent to use the means necessary to prevent an adversary from using satellites for purposes like communications relay, intelligence gathering and navigation and timing functions in time of war. "There are potential adversaries out there that have excellent on-orbit capabilities in terms of satellites," said air force Lieutenant General C Robert Kehler, deputy commander of US Strategic Command. Further, he said, "today you can have some space capabilities with a credit card and the Internet", potentially giving terrorist groups the ability to leverage satellite-derived information, even if to a limited extent, to strike at US interests.

Read more here.

Bird Flu Pandemic Could Kill up to 150 Million

The United Nations warned an expected human avian flu pandemic could kill up to 150 million people, naming a special coordinator to lead a global strategy to contain it.

UN chief Kofi Annan appointed David Nabarro, a Briton who is one of the leading World Health Organization's (WHO) public health experts, as senior UN coordinator for avian and human influenza.

"Let's say the range of (human) deaths could be anything between five and 150 million. I believe the work we are doing over the next few months on prevention and preparedness will make the difference between for example whether the next pandemic leads us in the direction of 150 (million) or in the direction of five," Nabarro said.

"We expect the next (human) influenza pandemic to come at any time now. It is likely to be caused by a mutant of the virus that is currently causing bird flu in Asia," Nabarro told reporters as he outlined a three-pronged strategy to deal with the threat.

Are we just worrying over nothing? Or is A Great Spanish Flu Pandemic v2.0 something to be genuinely worried about? Something I think we're freaking out over nothing. Sometimes I think we're just getting ubercomplacent. Which is it?

Some Dark Lives In Canada

This is a little weird and strange.

Such a creature lives in Canuckistan? They haven't thrown him over the border and declared him a 'gift'[1] much like some want to for an infamous Adam Yoshita[2]. I'm a little confused, seriously, about what and who this individual is. I stumbled across him via links of links in blogs. Having no context of which to put him seems that I cannot say that he's Something Dark or not lying in wait for the hearts and minds of Canuckistanis.

Any of my Canadian readers care to comment?

1. :P Thanx guys if you do...I can't put sarcasm tags here.

2. Future WI: AY as CPC party leader...*cackles*

Biologists Observe Gorillas Using Tools

For the first time, biologists have documented gorillas in the wild using simple tools, such as poking a stick in a swampy pool of water to check its depth.

Until now, scientists had seen gorillas use tools only in captivity. Among the great apes, tool use in the wild was thought to be a survival skill reserved for smaller chimpanzees and orangutans.

The research in the Republic of Congo's rainforests was led by Thomas Breuer of the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo, which released details of his study. Breuer is in Africa and was not immediately available for an interview.

"This is a truly astounding discovery," he said in a statement. "Tool usage in wild apes provides us with valuable insights into the evolution of our own species and the abilities of other species."

Read more here.

Secret Uplift Project anyone cares to 'fessing up to?

Yes, I am up at this time and, yes, I am on rotation. It's not IBM's fault this time though.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Avrora & Lyuda Picture

Baby Picture Two

Just taken last night by my wife.

Oh Yeah!


Yes, she's waking up at night with gum pain issues. No, children's tylenol doesn't help. That's a bad sign. Her mother has problems with American painkillers not working. Her pop has a problem with ibuprofin not working. She might ahev a problem with any of them working. That'd suck.

Baby Picture

I have two more to upload, but blogspot is having some photo upload issues. As soon as its resolved the others will join this one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Stems Cells and the Paraplegic

The Koreans are running way ahead of the rest of the world if this turns out to be true.

It's just shy of a miracle.

Restoring feeling at least with the use of stem cells.


Space Station and Shuttle Were Mistakes: NASA Chief

That takes serious cajones to say. I wonder if in the end we'll hate Griffin more or less than his predecessor.

Read more here and here.

NASA Watch is mildly irrate over the comments. Frankly, Keith, while an excellent source of info, has some mild biases.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ukraine ex-PM warrant cancelled

The decision was made [to cancel the warrant] after she went to Moscow voluntarily to give evidence to the military prosecutor's office and agreed to return for the investigation. Mrs Tymoshenko was appointed prime minister after playing a leading role in Ukraine's Orange Revolution.


During her time as prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko had refused to travel to Russia because of the arrest warrant but on Saturday she made a private visit to Moscow.


Mrs Tymoshenko is accused of bribing Russian military officials when she was in charge of Ukraine's main gas distributor in the 1990s, an allegation she denies.
There's not much more to read, but it's here.

Is this a case of Russia interfering with the Ukrainian internal politics (by attempting to smear or arrest one of their nemeses) or is it a case of Timoshenko trying too hard to make herself popular with the voting public (cheap gas prices). Or is it a case of she did what she had to prevent the Ukrainian people from freezing during winter?

Hard call. I'm not a Timoshenko fan, but ... this one might be a case of bad things happening for the wrong reasons to a not so good person doing something that really needed doing. Nuthin's clean in Ukraine. Esp the politics.

The Political Situation in Ukraine: The Russian PoV

The Ukrainian leaders seem to be starting to realize that the situation in the country is really critical. The president's team looks utterly discouraged if not demoralized. Despite all his inadequacy, Viktor Yushchenko is one step away from realizing that he would be held responsible for all the unbecoming deeds he did. In actuality, he already has to pay for some peculiarities of his first eight months in office.

The political crisis in Ukraine never abated. Instead, it entered a new and more dangerous stage. Prior to a vote on a new Prime Minister in Parliament, Mr. Yushchenko spoke to the deputies. He finally had to admit that the Tymoshenko government had performed in a very bad way. He said that GDP rate slowed down by 2.32 times over the last eights months. In general, there was a 5-time decrease in GDP. Industrial production rate dropped 2.4 times, agricultural produce shrank by 1.7 times. The president also informed the deputies that Ukrainian entrepreneurs and businessmen were forced to pay "in advance" 6 million hryvnas (29.3% of all fiscal revenues) in the first half of the year. The amount of unpaid wages increased by 15%.

But now we are not talking about the political collapse, economic crisis breeding an avalanche. We are not talking about police investigation into allegations regarding corruption among the former members of the government or the president's team. Right now we are talking about one man who played a certain role in the orange revolution. Different people describe him in different manners. Some people still call him a "Russian businessman," others call him an "oligarch in exile" or a "political refugee," whereas some regard him "the Kremlin's former puppeteer." We are talking about Boris Abramovich Berezovsky. His and his henchmen's activities are significantly reduced in Russia due to dramatic circumstances Mr. Berezovsky was part of while he was at the top. He was granted political asylum in Britain. However, his opportunities to show the best of his talents are apparently pretty limited in the West too. So Mr. Berezovsky has eyes for smaller countries of the former Soviet Union where he has interests. In the last few years Mr. Berezovsky has paid special attention to Ukraine.

Read the rest at Pravda.

No commentary from me. Make up your own mind.


We made it in! WOO!

At the moment, we're the only group to be in the Tri Challenge/Trifecta. That means unless they are able to rustle up someone else for a minimum competition (it looks kinda bad for there only to be one team), we've got this in the bag. We just ahve to show up and make our stuff work. It doesn't even have to do better than anyone else, because, well, there is noone else to beat. We'll still bust our asses, do the best job we can, and do something as impressive as all get out, but we're not really competing. We did that already by simply getting everything organized. That was a high bar to jump in the first place. We made it, barely, but we did.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Can NASA keep its side of the trans-Potomac bargain?

There are some disturbing signs out there indicating that NASA may not be ready to keep to the spirit, rather than the letter, of the Griffin-Sega agreement (see “A tentative ceasefire in the trans-Potomac launcher wars”, The Space Review, August 1, 2005). This deal promised that the space agency would use the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs) as much as it can. The sentence in the agreement reads, “Both DoD and NASA will utilize the EELV for all intermediate and larger payload for national security, civil, science and International Space Station re-supply missions in the 5–20 ton class to the maximum extent possible.” This last expression contains a loophole big enough to launch a shuttle through, but it does at least imply that NASA will make a good faith effort to use the EELVs and to thus help bring the cost per launch of these vehicles down to a reasonable level.

Read more here.

Rep Calvert Worried China Will Beat US to the Moon

It seems some people are already casting the new explroation initiative as a new moon race. This time the actors are China and the US. I have my doubts that CHina will move that quickly. I am sure that China will eventually get a moon expeditionary plan underway, but it won't be in the same time frame. China, technologically, seems to take its time doing things.

Here's the Avleak article.

Judge for yourself what has been said.

Reading Update

I finished a few books. None were outstanding so far. However, some opinions are still worth sharing.

If you are looking for a very glancing view of teh Roman Emperors take a look at The Chronicles of the Roman Emperors. I didn't expect a indepth look at the ermprors. That's a long bit of history and a lot of men to cover in such a relatively small book. However, there were a lot of gaps in what some of the emperors did. Frex, Caracalla was detaield as something of a monster. However, no mention - at all - was made of his extension of Roman citizenship to the entire Empire's inhabitants was made. However, it at least give some cursory overviews of each emperor. I'd say borrow it from the library rather than buy it.

I also finished Drilled Piers and Cassions II. If you're not a civil engineer or haven't read a lot about such things, you're prolly gonna be lost. This is a collection of technical papers about testing Drilled Pier and other 'deep foundations'. You can guess wahy Iw as reading it. Given the geological conditions of the more 'desirable' spots of here in California, this kind of foundation is a necessity. It wasn't much fun to read, but I did get useful information out of it.

I have started The Pterosaurs: From Deep Time. I am about 100 pages into the book. It's actually quite readable and if you're a technical paleontologist or someone that's very familiar with fossilization and such then there are chunks you can skip. I could have, but didn't. I enjoyed his turn of phrase enough that it whizzed by and there were a few bits that were interesting specifically about the sites where the pterosaurs were fossilizing. He also points out that there is a definite lack of books on the flying reptiles. That's a pity. They're as interesting as the dinosaurs and perhaps more so in a way because they actually were small enough (or some were) that they could have survived the KT Event.

I will prolly finish the pterosaurs in a couple days. Then its another construction book. Either project management or more foundations.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Neandertal childhood just as long as modern human

Recent research suggested that ancient Neanderthals might have had an accelerated childhood compared to that of modern humans but that seems flawed, based on a new assessment by researchers from Ohio State University and the University of Newcastle . They found that the rate of tooth growth present in the Neanderthal fossils they examined was comparable to that of three different populations of modern humans.

Read more here.

Quite a Martian Find

Here is a Martian blog!

Nervous Nelly Bit Set

I found out yesterday that the project/competition that we had been working on with the purty pictures of hurricanes may be about to be cancelled. No, it has nothing to do with the recent events with hurricanes. No, it has nothing to do with the fact we're supposed to be rolling out our centerwide file system a month before the big conference.

It has everything to do with the fact that the organizers of the Tri Challenge thought that noone had finished an entry into all of the individual Challenges. That wasn't correct. We certainly did. I quickly pointed that out as soon as I heard the (true) rumor. The organizers were suddenly delighted and wanted to make sure that we had, in fact, qualified. We're supposed to hear today.

So here I sit, nervous as hell. Will all that work be for naught? All that horrible paper writing for de nada? I certainly hope not. I have close to $750,000.00 of equipment that's supposed to be delivered to SC05 to make this all work. I have other groups depending on that equipment as well. If this falls apart, I have a hard time getting management to agree to let me get the equipment to SC.

On top of all that, if in fact that we are the only team to have gone through and completed even getting through the gate, then, damnit, I feel cheated and a bit depressed. I was hoping that our technical prowess would be shining here and I'd get to give the smack down on a level that I work on day-to-day. That's been taken away from me if all happens as it seems to be. So, the only thing that will happen is that, well, we're demonstrating that we can get this project organized quickly. That's great! BUT! It's totally unsatisifying. I feel a bit like the gamer that pulled together an awesome army out of nowhere then had everyone else drop from the game. A real pisser this is.

However, we'll win if we are just deemed to have successfully entered and complete what we say we will. My wife spent a good portion of last night trying to prove to me that winning was all that mattered. Here I thought that it was crushing my opponent and mocking their fallen technoidols. Oh well. ;)

Titan with Life? An Interview

Read more here.

I've always hoped, but with the lack of any seas...well, I think we have more a frozen Mars than a frozen Earth there.

Arrest that Supernova!

... For Crimes Against the Megafauna!

Some scientists at LBNL where I work have come out with a theory - with some evidence - that the mammoths and other megafauna in NorAm died out due to the effects of a supernova!

I am unsure what to think of this, to be honest, since humanity seems to have survived that stint of ill luck on the NorAm scene. That bodes well for humanity surviving a helluvalot of any disasters. That might come about. Obviously the NorAm aboriginal populations didn't devolve Baxteresque style after the ubercatastrophy.

Once More Through the Breach

Rita is picking up where Katrina left off. The levees have been breached in NOLA.

Texas is about to get its coastal ass kicked.

We're still only about half way through hurricane season. More will be coming folks.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Shanghai Cooperative Organization takes a step forward

It seems that the SCO has stared jointly flexing its muscles.

Is this a true statement? It would be interesting to see if the other members of the SCO are falling in line with Russia and China. If so we might be seeing the formation of the post Cold War Blocks. A Euro-Centric, a American Centric, and a Sino Centric set are definitely interesting...if a little frighening at times to contemplate.

Rita Damage?

Take a look at what Rita might do

...and remember the storm modeled here is 'only' a Cat 4.

Rita is a Cat 5.

Is there a Cat 6?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Houston, we have a ...


We'll get a pict as soon as its actually seeable instead of just feelable.

Political Position

You are a

Social Moderate
(50% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(43% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Another Reason that Ousting Timoshenko Might be a Good Thing

Investor confidence.

They think chucking her was a good diea because she was simply not really a reformer so much as a someone simply trying to get votes. So according to the International Herald Tribune, things look okay for Ukraine.

We'll see.


Ther eare a plethora of links out about how Mike Griffin (NASA head admin) wants to conduct manned exploration of the moon and beyond. The official plan was released today.

Read here, here, here, and here.

The problem is not what the plan is (I don't like it personally), but whether or not over that time period (at least three presidents (possibly more) and numerous COngresses will be seated. It's getting support right now financially, but will it in 2013? Or even 2009?

Titanian Shoreline?

I've got a bit of property I'd like to put up for sale.

My last property I sold was a bridge in NY...

Anybody interested?

The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test

The Resistance

Achtung! You are 30% brainwashworthy, 22% antitolerant, and 61% blindly patriotic

Welcome to the Resistance (Der Widerstand)! You believe in freedom, justice, equality, and your country, and you can't be converted to the the dark side.

Breakdown: your Blind Patriotism levels are borderline unhealthy, but you show such a love of people from everywhere and a natural resistance to brainwashing, you would probably focus your energy to fight the Fuehrer with furor, so to speak.

Conclusion: born and raised in Germany in the early 1930's, you would have taken up ARMS against the oppressors. Or even your friends' oppressors. Congratulations!

Less than 5% of all test takers earn a spot in the Resistance!

The Would You Have Been A Nazi? Test

- it rules -

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 33% on brainwashworthy
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 27% on antitolerant
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 85% on patriotic

Link: The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid

Friday, September 16, 2005

Killer 'triple burp' of methane caused massive global warming

Open University researchers have uncovered startling new evidence about an extreme period of a sudden, fatal dose of global warming some 180 million years ago during the time of the dinosaurs. The scientists' findings could provide vital clues about climate change happening today and in the future.

The OU Department of Earth Sciences team, PhD student Dave Kemp and supervisors Drs. Angela Coe and Anthony Cohen, along with Dr. Lorenz Schwark of the University of Cologne, discovered evidence suggesting that vast amounts of methane gas were released to the atmosphere in three massive 'methane burps' or pulses. The addition of methane, a greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere had a severe impact on the environment, warming Earth about 10 C, and resulting in the extinction of a large number of species on land and in the oceans.

Read more here.

This is the Triassic Extinction, right?

Foot in Mouth Disease (or she's definitrely a Baird)

Baby Picture overload

How much she's grown in 6 months is almost mind boggling.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Reading update

I finished the previous construction book I mentioned in my last reading post. Not bad. There were a few pointers that were useful. I have a bad feeling after the next one about managing the whole project I'll have grown saturated. It seems to be approaching a point of diminishing returns here.

I read The Wilding. If it were any other author...if it were even a different might have been an okay book. It was readable. It didn't feel like a waste of time. However, it felt rather disappointing. Gone was the evocative imagery of CS Friedman's previous books. Gone was the unique stylistic elements from the first book. Gone was virtually everything that was a stand out for Friedman or her books. I give it a C-. She really could have done much, much better. The story was flat and short....but not in pages. Anzha and Zatar's legacies were...simply uninteresting as presented. There were even some bits that contradicted the original book. Alas. Friedman is on my Buy Quickly list, but...she's had the "Don't preorder" bit set.

I started and finished another construction book. I don't recommend it. It could have been condensed down to about 50 pages at most w/o the diagrams. The diagrams were kinda useful, but...really...a lot of it was 'well, duh!' The first 20% of it was purely teaching the reader some geometry and trig. ugh. I bought it thinking that it was teaching you some trade bsed stuff that should be unique to construction. There are bits in the framing arena that are useful, but...most of it is just common sense and good planning.

Since then I have started Chronicle of the Roman Emperors. Light reading. Not bad. I picked it up as something that I could read for fun about the emperors that I knew very little about. I'm about 1/8 of the way through it.

After this will come a construction book. I am unsure which. It'll prolly be one on foundations again or one on working with concrete.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Old favorite TLs: Rome in America

Some times I like to go back and ponder some TLs that I posted a long time ago that the group is long sick of. One of my favorites is the contemplation of the consequences of the Romans in the Americas. Robert Silverberg even wrote a mediocre book with a few good points with a short story about the attempted conquest of the Americas by the Romans.

I myself used Cicero fleeing to Gaul and Caesar after getting in trouble in Rome to see and appreciate the ships of the Veneti. Cicero OTL called for making the Atlantic a Roman 'lake'. With the ship tech from the Veneti and his exile to Gaul, he gets time to tinker...returning to Rome in an Atlantic worthy ship. Later only to be killed when he pissed off Caesar. I wrote some not so good posts on the subject. I wrote two (here and here) I rather like.

The consequences of the Romans in the Americas are huge. There's a new source of precious metals that are readily available. One of the plagues was that precious metals were leaking out of the Roman Empire due to the trade with India. Rome had a lot of gold. India had a lot of everything else that was interesting in trade (including spices). With the sources of gold and silver present in the New World feeding Rome, inflation due to devaluation of the coinage through mixing lead with the gold doesn't happen. That has interesting effects.

The big traders in Roman society were the equites - 'knights' - with the trade with the Americas opened up, we have some interesting possibilities for that class becoming even more important under the *Empire.

Sociologically, there are of course many more religious cult possbilities to feed into the Empire now too. Venus the Destroyer worship from the conquered Maya, anyone? What sort of wild cult could ahve come with the hybridization of the Mayan beliefs with the Graeco-Roman on Venus? Sex-Love-Death cults? *shudders*

Additionally, what happens when the tomato, avocado, corn, chile peppers, and potato hit the Roman world? The potato radically changed agricultural in Europe when it migrated. What happens to Rome when it does ATL? I worry about the mixing of Roman fish paste and chiles tho...*shudders*

Where in the Americas does Rome settle? The Carribean? Does it become the equivalent of the New World's Med? Well, with do the Romans handle the engineering challenges of that. What does New World Roman architecture look like? Bunkers with domes and columns?

Do we see a Mayan Imperial Line from a successful general at some point?

Do we see the die-offs from disease in the Americas like when the Spanish came?

Do we see a Roman Empire in the Americas surviving past the fall of it in Western Europe? A little more difficult for the Germans, Slavs and Arabs to do a transatlantic invasion. Do we see a myth of The Fall and The Return when the American Romans vow to reconquer the Empire after it goes to hell in a hand basket in Europe? Do we see contact with Europe largely lost and Europe or the Americas rediscoverying the other?

What do we see?


Monday, September 12, 2005

More on the Heiress

She got shots today.

She weighted in at 19 lbs 9 oz and officially 26 inches...which is weird given what they measured her before. The Dr stated not to worry about the discrepancies in height measurements because its rather difficult to do at her age with any accuracy. They worry more about weight. She stated we're doing awesome for weight gain and that our baby is in the 95 percentile for weight. Oh, she has an average sized head.

I really like our predatrician. She's bright, friendly, and quite willing to talk about the problems we're facing. She adores our daughter and our daughter loves her. She saw me waiting for my wife as she cycled up to the building and stopped to talk. She's a good one to have. We're quite, quite lucky.

Russia's bacteriological crisis poses global threat

Avian flu is moving westward with the migration of tens of millions of wild birds from Siberia, where more than 12,000 birds have already died. In many cases, these birds have been exposed to the more dangerous and virulent forms of the disease that have appeared in Asia and there is a concern that they will begin to infect humans. In most cases, this would be by transmission to domestic birds intended for human consumption.

This danger is particularly apposite because the Russian outbreak includes H5N1, a strain of avian flu known to affect humans and arguably the most likely to create a potential pandemic if the disease eventually begins to spread from human to human. The wider the area and population exposed to avian flu, the more likely it is that it will mutate or exchange genetic material with the human influenza virus, creating the basis for a global pandemic.

While the threat posed by avian flu is serious, it is nonetheless natural. A second area of concern relates to the residues of Russia's biological warfare programme.

Read more here.

Russia in its Soviet Union guise played with fire on levels that the US couldn't hope or dream to match. They had an extremely active biological research program that archive divers have only scratched the surface of in their attempts to document. The Soviets even killed a number of people in accidental releases...which given their great care taken with their industrial works is of no surprise.

Given that the state of Russia's medical system, you have to wonder if there's some ticking time bomb waiting on some abandoned test station that some one might stumble across, become infected by, and Russia be completely unable to respond to nor contain. Given the interconnectedness of the world now, might we be waiting for the pandemic - not out of Africa with some hemorrhagic fever as is the favored scenario by thriller authors - out of Russia simply because of the collapse of its medical system and its biowarfare legacy?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Situation in Ukraine: A Pseudo Commentary

Some of you are waiting for me to wade into what's happening in Ukraine. I've been hesitating. There's a good reason. I think that reason has passed. The question was whether or not Yushchenko was going to fire Timoshenko as well as everyone else.

Y'see it's long been rumored that Yushchenko was getting T&A from Timoshenko (and making Jussi jealous in the process). Whether its true or not...IDK. Honestly, I don't really care. However, Yushchenko & Timoshenko do have a very close physical relationship that they at least project. They're often touching, close in ways that are not very common for Ukrainians who are just friends, even close friends, esp friends that are married to others in a society as quirky conservative as Ukraine.

Timoshenko is something of a problem child. She was helpful in bringing down Yanukovich. However, she's been a liability more than a help for Yushchenko. She's a firebrand politician of the kind that Ann Coulter in the US would find kinship with. She amde comments during the eastern Ukrainian secession threats about ringing eastern Ukraine with barbed wire and sterilizing everyone inside. Nice woman, eh?

Yushchenko isn't as much of a hero as the western press makes him to be either: he made horrible threats against the whole of the people of the east when it was just some of the idiotic leaders from the Donbass that were making them. One of the rumored threats was to put a nuclear waste repository in the Donbass as retaliation. He was definitely on the record - even in the west - as saying he'd punsih the whole of eastern Ukraine. On the whole, though, Yushchenko was a better choice than Yanukovich. A leader that intends to pull Ukraine into the EU rather than the Nov Russia is the lesser of the two evils.

Yushchenko was rather reluctant to put Timoshenko in as Prime Minister. I think you can understand why. She got her way in the end and became Prime Minister. However, things seemed to be looking up. She seemed to have mellowed some once in power. Some of the encouraging signs of her government were such that really did signal a change in events. The people that were corrupt under Kuchma were being hounded from office from top to bottom. The police were especially terrified. They were among some of the worst offenders. Salaries were actually being paid. People were getting their money. Pensions were tripled and being paid. Things were looking good.

Then recently, things started going south. Inflation has gotten out of control. It's killing the lower income people...which is a large percent. Then last month, salaries stopped being paid. They're on the books as though they've been paid, but...then came the scandal.

The chief of staff's allegations ultimately brought down the government when Yushchenko fired them all. This included Timoshenko. That was a pretty ballsy step. My wife reports that in the Russian news sites that Timoshenko is going to tell a ton of secrets. Wait and see. This crisis has just begun if true. True or not, a Ukrainian woman scorned is a definite practicioner of 'black earth warfare'. I pity Yushie. Sorta.

However, I can't help but wonder if this was planned by Yushchenko. This way he stays in power and sloughs off the PITAs that came with him during the Orange Revolution. We'll see what happens, da?

Fossil News: Pterosaurs and Crocodiles

First off and very intriguing is the discovery - but not yet described - pterosaur that seems to have a 64 ft/18 m (!) wing span. The discoveries come from Isreal and Mexico.

Second discovery is an ubersized croc from Peru. It makes Deinosuchus seem...small. The difference being over 3 meters in length. It seems that ubersizing crocs is a recurring theme. It happened in the Mesozoic. It's happened more recently in the Miocene. It may, if this Peruvian croc proves the theories about the Amazonian inland sea right, have happened there too in a different time as well. So, James, in addition to mosasaurs, uber sized crocs are another candidate for Beyond the Green Door.

It's exciting to see the Mesozoic critters turning up in the areas that haven't been routinely explored yet by paleontologists.

Study suggests Titan may hold keys for exotic brand of life

Certainly an interesting day in the Saturn moon system to say the least...

Saturn's moon Titan has long been a place of interest to astrobiologists, primarily because of its apparent similarities to the early Earth at the time life first started. A thick atmosphere composed primarily of nitrogen and abundant organic molecules (the ingredients of life as we know it) are among the important similarities between these two otherwise dissimilar planetary bodies.

Scientists have considered it very unlikely that Titan hosts life today, primarily because it is so cold (-289 degrees Fahrenheit, or -178 Celsius) that the chemical reactions necessary for life would proceed too slowly. Yet previously published data, along with new discoveries about extreme organisms on Earth, raise the prospect that some habitable locales may indeed exist on Titan.

In a paper being presented at the Division for Planetary Sciences 2005 Meeting this week, a team of researchers from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Washington State University say that several key requirements for life now appear to be present on Titan, including liquid reservoirs, organic molecules and ample energy sources.

Read more here.

Tiny Enceladus May Hold Ingredients of Life

Saturn's tiny moon Enceladus is "absolutely" a highlight of the Cassini mission and should be targeted in future searches for life, Robert H. Brown of The University of Arizona, leader of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team, said last week.

Brown and other Cassini scientists attended a meeting in London last week and are at the 37th annual Division of Planetary Sciences meeting at Cambridge University this week.

"Enceladus is without a doubt one of the most spectacular things Cassini has seen," Brown said in a phone interview Thursday. "It's one of the biggest puzzles. It'll be a long time before anyone comes up with a good explanation of how Enceladus does what it does, and for a scientist, that's pure, unmitigated fun. Solving the biggest puzzles is the thrilling part of doing science.

Read more here.

Over on James Nicoll's LJ, I joked that the most common life bearing world might be the ice encrusted moon rather than the terretrial world. Maybe I shouldn't joke. It might be true. Makes for an interesting change to the Drake Equation and the Fermi Paradox.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Japanese spacecraft nears asteroid

Rivals from the United States and Europe get the bigger headlines and bigger budgets, but a little-noticed Japanese mission to a distant space rock may scoop them all.

Launched to the world's near-total indifference on May 9 2003, the little probe Hayabusa ("Falcon") is now on the brink of rendezvousing with a 630-metre (yard) asteroid on a mission that could prove historic.

If all goes well, Hayabusa will be the first spacecraft to bring home raw material from an asteroid, part of the primeval rubble left over from the making of the Solar System.

"It is an utterly remarkable project which has been given almost little coverage in the media," Patrick Michel, a French astrophysicist who is involved in the mission, told AFP on Monday at a meeting of astronomers here.

Read more here.

All goes well, the first sample return from an asteroid will be from the Japanese.

There's an interesting SFnal setting. Mars is American and the asteroid belt is Japanese...I've almost always seen the Belt as being an American setting.

So where are we now?


You'd swear that I lived at work this last week. My wife certainly did and was truly unhappy with the whole siutation. Why was I at work so much? The problem was that we had four levels of software at on seaborg (our uber IBM SP) that were interacting in a truly bad way. The system encoutnered this multiple times. I finally exploded verbally at 1 AM Tuesday morning on the phone with IBM. I ripped them up one side and down the other for a $60 million GA'ed product that'd gone through testing and...broke three times in 7 days.

Well, I am off of rotation as of yesterday at 1 PM. I am so glad. I desperately need sleep (which I got virtually none this last week).

I'll see about getting back to the regular blog schedule.

Tharsis Bulge Cloud

Monday, September 05, 2005

Guess where I am right now?

I am at work. Working with IBM to fix a GPFS problem. Again.

All I can say is that I hate IBM.

A lot.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Going home momentarily

Another admin is taking up from me. It seems that they want the problem debugged and that is IBM's responsibility since we don't ahve access or permission to muck with source code. I've been here 19 hours straight...sooo...home I go.


Friday, September 02, 2005

This has been a bad day...

I'm still at work waiting for some jackass at IBM to respond.

However, I just cracked up at this.

That's gotta be some sorta press joke, right?

Where Am I...again?

I am on rotation. This has not been a smooth rotation. I started on Tuesday.

Hell was unleashed on Wednesday. I ahve had two system wide outages on the main machine and two on the lesser box.

My disdain and outright despisal of all things IBM has grown leaps and bounds.

Esp their support.

Color Revolution in Russia?

Russian politicians and political scientists participating in the international discussion club Valdai expressed various opinions on a possible "color revolution," similar to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, in Russia.
Read more here. It's not long.

I have severe doubts. Russia and Ukraine are rather different places politically.