Wednesday, November 30, 2005
A French international TV network slated to start in 2006 will be a vehicle to transmit France's values and world vision to other parts of the globe, President Jacques Chirac said Wednesday.
The president's comments at a Cabinet meeting came a day after Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin signed off on a deal for a joint venture between France Televisions and the private station TF1, clearing the way for the network's creation.
The French Channel for International Information, or CFII — will be able to "carry the values of France and its vision of the world everywhere on the globe," Chirac said, according to government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope.
"We must be first in the global battle of images," Chirac told the Cabinet.
Read more here.
I'd say that the 21st century just got a tad more interesting. Too bad that the French are so far behind the curve or they might have had more of a chance of staunching the outflow of American influence on the global culture. They have 25 years to get caught up on. Even the Arabs with al Jazeera are ahead there.
Scientists using a combination of ground-based and orbiting telescopes have discovered a failed star, less than one-hundredth the mass of the Sun, possibly in the process of forming a solar system. It is the smallest known star-like object to harbor what appears to be a planet-forming disk of rocky and gaseous debris, which one day could evolve into tiny planets and create a solar system in miniature. A team led by Kevin Luhman, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University, will discuss this finding in the 10 December 2005 issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The discovered object, called a brown dwarf, is described as a "failed star" because it is not massive enough to sustain nuclear fusion like our Sun. The object is only eight times more massive than Jupiter. The fact that a brown dwarf this small could be in the midst of creating a solar system challenges the very definition of star, planet, moon and solar system.
Read the very exciting remainder here.
So maybe Haven and Medea are possible then, eh?
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
StorCloud Initiative Recap for SC05
This year, teams of high-performance computing experts demonstrated diverse data-intensive applications using the onsite StorCloud storage infrastructure at SC05 in Seattle, Washington. Three challenge awards were given:
"Best Deployment of a Prototype for a Scientific Application" - LBNL/NERSC
The LBNL team took this opportunity to test the wide-area deployment of an unprecedented system in support of a groundbreaking climate modeling application.
OMG. We didn't walk away with nada...*bounces*
My boss said we got something else too. Might be I am sicking and not understanding. Being exposed to kidlets (aka hobbits) with runny noses after working exhausting hours just plain sucks and my comprehension is low right now.
The level of military and technical cooperation between Russia and Ukraine could fall if the latter joins NATO, the Russian defense minister said Tuesday. Sergei Ivanov said: "This is possible in principle." Ivanov said there could also be other consequences in different fields. According to Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister of Russia, every state has the sovereign right to decide if it joins an organization. However, the minister struck a note of caution saying Ukraine's potential membership of NATO was not purely a political matter, but also concerned "the economy and a few other issues.Taken from here.
Personally, I am a uniter or empire builder in my political leanings. I like big nations. They organize resoruces on scales that, oh, Luxembourg could only dream of. The obvious nations I'd unite IRL would be America, Mexico, Canada, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, and, if possible, the Carribean nations as well. However, this is dreamland, frankly.
However, while pondering Syd's post, I wondered about a united 'white dominions' (Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand) of the former British Empire. This has been posted before on SHWI about three years ago and it was a favorite of some less than savory characters there, so I'll skip posting it there.
It makes you wonder what that nation would be like if it came about though, huh? A lot would depend on how it came to be. The best PoD that I can think of is that the US goes isolationist after WW2 (perhaps by having a harrowing experience invading Japan?) and the Brits and the rest of the Commonwealthers are faced with holding back the Soviets, with the help of the rest of western Europe, without overt US support. Think of it as the Commonwealth on steriods that leads to political, military, and economic integration.
Consider that UberCommonwealth would look like. I don't see India bowing to and integrating with the united dominions posited here - and the united dominions being unwilling to unite with a 'brown' dominion - and the PoD is too late to keep it, anyways. I have a feeling they'd slough off Rhodesia and South Africa, PDQ.
If we steal numbers from OTL then we'd have some small idea of what would be there. The population would be in the ball park of 110 - 120 million. The GDP would around $3,510 billion PPP. Per capita would be between $29,250 PPP and $31,900 PPP. In total hitting power, it'd be a little lower than OTL's Japan, but higher than OTL India. Per capita, it'd either be just a bit richer than Canada, or a bit poorer than OTL UK or Japan.
While its nice stealing numbers from OTL, its completely unrealistic because the politics and economics between the PoD and now would prolly change this quite a bit. It would be interesting if the result of this was that the UberCommonwealth was the enforcer of the world, much like the GloboCop role that the US plays now, and the US was the economic engine, only more so.
Interesting idea. Too bad the racist crowd loves that PoD so much.
Iran's space agency is trying to snap up technology from abroad as fast as possible for its satellite program, fearing the West will seek to restrict it as it has imposed intensive limitations over the country's nuclear program.
The drive is part of Iran's major ambitions in space, looking to show off its technological abilities, monitor its neighborhood — where the United States has hundreds of thousands of troops — and establish itself as a regional superpower.
Iran says it wants satellites to monitor natural disasters in the earthquake-prone nation and improve its telecommunications infrastructure.
"We have not been subject to broad restrictions in space technology yet. But that doesn't mean that space program is less important than the nuclear program," said space official Mohammad Reza Movaseghinia.
"The moment they feel Iran has made a breakthrough, they will impose restrictions more than those they have imposed on Iran's nuclear program," he said.
Iran's next step will be the launch of a satellite on an indigenous rocket. Iranian officials have said the country has been developing a Shahab-4 missile that will be used to launch a satellite into space.
Iran is now the world's 43rd country owning a satellite, but the government aims higher.
"We have to build our own satellites, our own launchers. We need to be one of eight top countries mastering space technology," said Ahmad Talebzadeh, the head of the Iranian Space Agency.
But the program has raised concerns, particularly in Israel, over use of technology in Iran's ballistic missile program. The Shahab-3 can already reach Israel, as well as U.S. forces across the Middle East.
Iranian officials say America's use of space to monitor Afghanistan and Iraq before invading them helped the United States gather intelligence. That has been one of the reasons pushing Iran to give priority to space.
Read the rest here.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Fresh from its second manned space mission, China's space program wants to be able to put a man on the moon and build a space station in 15 years, an official said Sunday.
"I think in about 10 to 15 years, we will have the ability to build our own space station and to carry out a manned moon landing," said Hu Shixiang, deputy commander of China's manned space flight program.
But the goal is subject to getting enough funds from the government, Hu said, explaining that the space program must fit in the larger scheme of the country's overall development.
Read the rest here.
Interesting that the US is aiming for ~2018 and China's now talking about 2020. Interesting times. We shall see if this helps the VSE get funding.
he Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which comprises the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan plus Russia and China, does not seek new members, Vitaly Vorobyov, the Russian president's envoy to the organization, said Monday.
"The SCO does not seek to increase its membership and the number of observers [India, Pakistan, and Iran]," Vorobyov said in a RIA interview. "These are not its priority plans. Moreover, displaying initiative is against the organization's principles."
Vorobyov said the six founding members made up the core of the organization, and they agreed that consolidating the core was the prime objective at the moment. Besides, the SCO is lacking relevant enlargement procedures, he added.
Vorobyov said the organization could cooperate with non-members via observers and all kinds of contact groups. Such an arrangement "would not impede the core's consolidation," cooperation would be based on definite terms and rules and would not influence decision-making within the SCO, he added.
Read the rest here.
So...what exactly does 'consolidation' mean in this context?
The Rio Grande meanders to the Gulf of Mexico through a vast alluvial plain where Mexico and the United States have rubbed off on each other for generations.
In the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, the flat river valley, known there as La Cuenca -- the basin -- is part irrigated farmland, part thorn scrub and part urban sprawl.
On the Texas side, where this southern region is called the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a checkerboard of cotton, sorghum, citrus, tomato and sugarcane fields is punctuated by an occasional water tower. Strip malls of Wal-Marts and Home Depots flank Interstate 83, and struggling shantytowns dot the back roads.
Many Texans draw an imaginary demarcation they call the Mexican-Dixon Line, from El Paso east to Houston, which essentially consigns heavily Latino south Texas to Mexico.
Valley residents feel the same pull to assimilate with American culture that people in most immigrant communities do. But Mexico is so close that it has helped shape a distinctive "Tejano" culture, in which Mexican and American traditions wash back and forth.
Read the rest at SF Gate (aka the San Francisco Chronicle) has an article on the Tejano Culture of the southern Rio Grande Valley.
They get some right, some wrong, but its worth the read. I might be wrong too since I was Northern Rio Grande Valley instead of the SRGV and the culture is different than the 'Tejano' one.
When I was working on my project for SC05 with the climatologist, he was asked during our presentations about global warming. He stated that he'd recommend against beach front or European property. He stated that the Greenland Ice Cap was going to be toast by sometime around mid century. Besides the obvious fact that all that water makes a slight increase in the water levels, he also stated that the weather in Europe was get...interesting.
Primarily because the Greenland Ice Cap actually acts as a block on the wind current around the world at those latitudes. It makes a significant bulge in the atmosphere into space. This dictates the European climate, he stated, as much as the Atlantic Conveyor.
I'll have to poke him about what exactly the effects would be.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said Nov. 14 his country supported Ukraine's efforts to become a member of the European Union and NATO, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"Ukraine is a brilliant example of a country longing for freedom and democracy," Svoboda told Ukraine's Defense Minister Anatoliy Gritsenko during his visit to Prague, the statement said.
The Czech Republic was ready to assist Ukraine, it said.
Read the rest here.
Russia's lower house of parliament on Wednesday took the first step toward approval of a bill that would prevent foreign-funded rights groups from operating in the country -- a move sure to heighten criticism of President Vladimir Putin's commitment to democracy.
"The express purpose of this law is to emasculate the NGO community," said Holly Carnter, regional director of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. It would "eviscerate" civil society in Russia.
The measure, which received 370-18 approval in the 450-seat State Duma on its first reading, has been widely criticized by non-governmental organizations.
The Kremlin has shown increasing signs of displeasure with organizations that criticize the government and promote expansion of democracy.
This summer, Putin told human rights experts at a Kremlin meeting that Russia would not allow foreign organizations to finance political activities. Non-governmental groups played a role in the mass demonstrations that brought opposition leaders to power in ex-Soviet republics Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
Read the rest here.
I understand Putin's nervousness about the influence of foreign NGOs in the light of the color guard revolutions. I mean, after all, from one POV its easy to claim that it was really outside influences rather than actual internal movements that rallied the people in Ukraine or Georgia or you-name-it-xUSSR-republic. The NGOs did in fact have considerable participation in the Orange Revolution, frex.
On the other hand, it smacks so much of the insular attitudes of closed societies: No, it's not teh fault of us, it's them! it seems to me that if a society is robust enough to have a democracy, it should be able to withstand almost any of the NGOs short of an outright conspiracy to subvert the system with uber amounts of dinero...but then, taht makes it a little funny, if you think about it. Why have an NGO then? Why not just subvert it through the use of that money behind the scenes?
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
After the Warsaw Pact dissolved, NATO has been considered to be an unrivalled alliance for nearly a decade.
However, some changes in the international system have recently given birth to a rival for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) remains a reality, and the existence of which, the international society has trouble accepting.
The SCO, whose main founders are Russia and China, is developing day by day and is increasingly causing concern in the West. Moscow, constantly harshly opposed to NATO expanding towards the east in the frame of the project Cooperation for Peace, has in recent times changed this attitude. Russia, understanding that the SCO will counterbalance NATO, continues to develop its relationships with the organization.
Leonid Ivashov, a former radical commander and Communist Party leader Gennadi Zuganov, have forgotten NATO’s constant threat of attack in the past. The "NATO danger" is no longer mentioned even by extreme nationalist leader Vladimir Jirinovski or new style politician Dmitriy Rogozin.
Read more here.
Ukraine's dismissed prime minister seized the limelight from President Viktor Yushchenko a year after Orange Revolution protests with an electrifying appeal on Tuesday to join forces in next year's parliamentary elections.
Both Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, the premier he sacked in September, told supporters in Kiev's Independence Square that only a united team of reformers could win the March 2006 election to a parliament led by a prime minister with expanded powers.
But Tymoshenko's impassioned 20-minute address, delivered without notes, clearly won over a crowd of well more than 100,000 marking last year's mass protests which helped propel the president to victory in the re-run of a rigged poll.
"I am certain that just as we supported Viktor Yushchenko in the presidential election, we must now unite to elect a prime minister who will embody everything we fought for," Tymoshenko, tears welling in her eyes, told the crowd.
"I want to dismiss all the rumors that it is Tymoshenko versus Yushchenko. This cannot be so, because this is the president that you and I helped bring to power. We did it together."
Tymoshenko's speech on what the liberal administration has proclaimed "Freedom Day" was clearly aimed at the March election campaign.
It also sought to justify her eight months in charge of a government that blew apart after splitting into rival camps, each accusing the other of corruption.
As snow fell on the square, she told supporters: "My heart is with you. If it didn't work the first time, it will next time round. We cannot stop with things half finished."
Timoshenko continues her spiel here. She's a shrewd political operator at times. Can't say that she's my favorite kinda Ukrainian woman, but she definitely seems to know how to play to her constituency. She's too rabid at times, but right now, West Ukraine is ascendant and East is choking on its own internal problems.
Intelligence Brief: Russia in the S.C.O.
Drafted By: Yevgeny Bendersky
The recent high-profile meeting of the heads of all the governments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (S.C.O.), plus a delegation from the S.C.O. observer states, signaled a major new development in Eurasian politics. The maturing of the S.C.O. into a grouping akin to a geopolitical bloc has even been hailed as the "N.A.T.O. of the East" by some observers and policymakers. While this grouping of states has a long way to go before a true geopolitical bloc is formed along major economic, military and political lines, one of the key states in the S.C.O. will be the deciding factor in judging the success of this bold geopolitical venture.
Secondly, less on the SCO and more on Russia:
Putin Performs A European Pirouette
By Pavel K. Baev
A visit to the Netherlands on November 1-2 provided Russian President Vladimir Putin with a timely opportunity to re-establish his European credentials. The previous week had a distinct Asian flavor with the prime-ministerial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Moscow (Kommersant, October 27). It was all smiles and handshakes, but then events turned quarrelsome as the UN Security Council took up the Syrian issue. For Moscow, far more than just arms sales and debt repayment was at stake with Damascus, since a week prior to that debate it had felt obliged to condemn Iran for the appeal "to wipe Israel from the map" (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Lenta.ru, October 28). Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did his best to soften the resolution prepared jointly by the United States and France by threatening to veto it – and then joined the unanimous vote for a seriously watered down document (Kommersant, November 1). Tehran was thus assured that it could count on Russian support in the forthcoming discussions in the IAEA, but after a diplomatic "victory" of this sort it was quite necessary for Putin to show his Western face.
No topic suits the purpose of fostering "togetherness" better than the common struggle against terrorism, and Putin exploited it to the fullest by asserting that Russia was defending not only its own but European interests as well in Chechnya and the Caucasus since, "If we would allow the terrorist to raise their heads in one place they would do it also in other places" (RIA-Novosti, November 2). He warned against showing any weakness in this struggle against "animals in the human form" and observed ironically that some European politicians showed so much concern for human rights as if they attempt to be "greater Muslims than the Prophet Mohammed" (Lenta.ru, November 2). Apparently, the Kremlin now is certain that Russia's place in the forefront of the confrontation with international terrorism is beyond question and also that – unlike some vacillating Westerners who are too soft on the enemy that seeks to abuse democratic norms – it has a winning strategy.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Eyes Economic, Security Cooperation
By Sergei Blagov
As top officials from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) gathered in Moscow on October 26, they reiterated earlier pledges to expand economic ties in Central Eurasia. The meeting also confirmed the SCO's ambitious goal of becoming a major global player.
Prime ministers from member states Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, as well as top officials from observer states, including Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, attended the SCO meeting in Moscow. The officials inked agreements on strategies for responding to emergency situations and on inter-bank cooperation; they also approved the SCO budget for 2006.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov hailed the SCO "road map," a blueprint for expanding multilateral trade and economic ties (Itar-Tass, October 26). The Inter-bank SCO Council was created to fund future joint projects, although no details of the planned ventures were released at the meeting. However, SCO Executive Secretary Zhang Deguan said the SCO would prioritize joint energy projects, including the expanding oil and gas sector, exploration of new hydrocarbon reserves, and joint use of water resources.
Meanwhile, bilateral economic ties between Russia and China are emerging as the core of a future SCO development. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao reportedly agreed that bilateral trade turnover might exceed $28 billion this year. "I hope this happens," Putin said.
Wen said China prioritizes bilateral relations with Russia. The two countries have started strategic security consultations, approved a border agreement, and held a joint military exercise. Furthermore, Wen suggested boosting ties with the SCO and another Russia-dominated post-Soviet grouping, the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC). He also pledged to further expand China's program of export loans to SCO states, which is currently estimated at $900 million (Interfax, RIA-Novosti, Xinhua, October 26-27).
However, the SCO is understood to be mulling ambitious global goals, well beyond plans for expanding economic ties. "The SCO has gone beyond the framework of its initially stated goals," Putin said when greeting the SCO prime ministers at the Kremlin. He reiterated that the combined population of the SCO member states and observer countries exceeds 3 billion people. Therefore the SCO leaders are in a unique position to work out decisions that affect the majority of the global population. "It is a significant factor of global politics," Putin said (RIA-Novosti, Interfax, October 26).
Read, ponder, and always, always take with a grain of salt.
If all is read correctly, it seems that the Iraq War as provided Putin et al with a good reason to unite nations together. They are outright saying the the SCO is not to oppose the US, but when you get two of the bigger kids on the block to band together and start making snarky comments about the biggest kid hanging out in their neighborhood, you have to wonder.
Additionally, you have to wonder if it might not be possible that the SCO might evolve in its own way into either a NATO and/or EU. Very interesting times. Too bad the US was unable to prevent it happening. Then again, Shrubbish is not noted for deft diplomacy.
A year after Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" swept Viktor Yushchenko into power new evidence has come to light about how tense the stand-off really was.
Former officers of Ukraine's secret service, the SBU, told the BBC that bloodshed had been avoided at the last minute.
They said fully armed troops were first ordered to confront the demonstrators in Kiev's Independence Square but were then dramatically told to go back to barracks 20 minutes later.
The then SBU head, Gen Ihor Smeshko, for the first time went public, saying that civil war had been avoided only after intense negotiations between representatives of the old cabinet of President Leonid Kuchma, key figures in the opposition and several ambassadors.
Read the rest here.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Paleontologists in Argentina have uncovered the fossil remains of a new and huge species of crocodile that terrorized the oceans 135 million years ago, nicknaming it Godzilla.
Unlike present-day crocodiles, the Dakosaurus andeniensis lived entirely under water and had fins instead of legs, said Ohio State University researcher Diego Pol, who determined that the creature was an ancestor of the crocodile.
Discovered at the southern tip of South America in 1996 by paleontologists Zulma Gasparini and Luis Spalletti of the University of La Plata, in Argentina, the three fossils were identified using an advanced computer program, Science magazine reported on Friday.
Besides its fins, the ancient crocodile had two other features: its size -- it was four meters (13 feet) in length -- and its head, similar in size to that of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the fiercest meat-eating dinosaur of all.
Its the size of the animal that makes it a "Godzilla", explained Pol, adding that contemporaries of Dakosaurus andenienis were smaller and more delicate, with long, skinny snouts and needle-like teeth for catching small fish and mollusks.
IDK if Godzilla is quite right with the mosasaurs running around, but...read the rest here.
ossilized dinosaur droppings found in central India show that giant dinosaurs known as titanosaurs ate grass, an international team of researchers reported on Thursday.
Few scientists had ever thought that dinosaurs grazed, because there was no evidence that grasses existed that long ago. They believed that the grinding teeth found in some dinosaur fossils were used for munching other plant matter, perhaps trees, like modern beavers chew on today.
So when Caroline Stromberg of the Swedish Museum of Natural History received photographs of fossilized dinosaur droppings from Vandana Prasad of the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany in Lucknow, India, she hardly expected to see pieces of grass in them.
"I was very surprised to see them and even more surprised
to see that there was quite a diversity," Stromberg said in a telephone interview. "It was shocking but very exciting."
Prasad's team had been analyzing 65-million-year-old coprolites -- fossilized droppings -- that they believe were left by giant plant-eating sauropod dinosaurs.
They found the expected plant matter -- cycads and conifers and other plants known to have grown during the Cretaceous period.
They sent some photographs and then samples to Stromberg, who spotted tiny silica structures called phytoliths.
"It's indisputable that these are from grasses. The shape of these phytoliths indicate that they are from grasses," said Dolores Piperno, a paleobotanist at Washington's Smithsonian Institution who reviewed the study, published in the journal Science.
Read the rest here.
Amateur fossil hunter Van Turner felt certain he had found something important during his search of earth turned up by bulldozers making way for a new subdivision in Dallas County.
Sixteen years later, scientists finally confirmed that Turner had discovered the first well preserved early mosasaur found in North America — a prehistoric lizard that lived 92 million years ago that evolved into what some call the "T. Rex of the ocean."
"Science marches slowly, and my biggest fear all along has been that another specimen of the same animal would be found, and it would be described, and I would lose any first claim to it," said Turner, an Internet technology manager in the Central Texas town of Mason. "That never happened, and it kind of reassured the rarity of the animal."
The reptile, now known as Dallasaurus turneri, is identified in a special issue of the Netherlands Journal of Geosciences published this month. The article was written by paleontologists Michael Polcyn of Southern Methodist University and Gordon Bell Jr. of Guadalupe National Park.
The lizard is an important link in the evolution of mosasaurs, which lived in the age of dinosaurs and evolved fin-like limbs, Polcyn said. Dallasaurus, the name given the fossil by Polcyn and Bell, is unusual because it shows an earlier version of the mosasaur with tiny feet and hands. The marine animals later developed paddles.
Read the rest here.
Getting caught up on old news while I was away.
My team stood up and made sure that everything was working. We didn't run fast, but we stayed up and running. We did the tasks that we said we would. We did the end to end processing of teh CAM model's data. We stood up a Wide Area GPFS file system and it worked. Not the best, but it survived some rough spots. We did what the other team could not on the first try.
The other team got too ambitious on the first try and they fell down. They completely failed the StorCloud Challenge. They pushed their servers too hard immediately and they died.
So why didn't we win?
They got a second chance and I was the one that was responsible for making sure that it worked. Huh? Why?
The reason was that I was on the StorCloud Committee for the express purpsoe of making sure that the file systems worked for the various users of StorCloud at SC05. That means that all users of the StorCloud assets that needed help with their file systems. That means even the other Challenge participants. That means even a team I am competing with.
I could have passed the buck under the mumble words of 'conflict of interest' under the guise that I'd not be responsible either for the success or failure of the other team. What it really meant was either the students would be responsible or the other person working on file systems who was burnt out would be. Either way, it'd be a failure for the team. So. I stood up and did the work. I take pride in what I do and it worked.
Even when it means my own undoing.
The other team had outright won the analytics challenge and had higher bandwidth numbers.
So. We lost.
Doing the right thing sucks.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
So, since I am not going to be doing a lot of updating until after the 18th, I thought
I'd try to do the same thing.
If you would be so kind, add yourself. I'm intensely curious who and where reads my blog.