Wednesday, June 28, 2006

HPC: New Top500 List

Even the Japan is using clusters...of a sort.

War for the Eurasian Soul: A 3rd Footnote

According to some Russian media reports, participants in the Minsk summit approved a decision whereby any CSTO member country wishing to accept a deployment of non-CSTO troops on its territory must first obtain the agreement of all the other CSTO countries (RTR Russia Television, June 23). If so, this implies that military exercises involving U.S. or NATO countries’ troops, their transit passage, or their use of military installations in any CSTO member country, for example on anti-terrorism missions, would necessitate Russian approval. Thus, Washington or NATO allies would have to negotiate the approval not just with possible host countries, but with Moscow, which could either withhold the approval, maneuver one or several CSTO countries into withholding it, or try to trade its approval for some geopolitical quid-pro-quo elsewhere.

The Eurasian Daily Monitor has been interesting lately.

War for the Eurasian Soul: A Second Footnote

Simultaneously, the 30th session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russia-Belarus Union (RBU) opened in Navapolatsk. On this occasion, parliamentarians from Russia, led by Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, condemned the U.S. and EU sanctions against Belarus as interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Sergei Baburin, deputy speaker of the Russian Duma, went further, demanding that Belarus offer a suitable response and expressing his surprise at the relatively mild reaction to date from Minsk. Belarus's essentially symbolic response -- it is highly unlikely that the 10 leading U.S. officials have assets in the country -- soon followed.

Presidential aide Dzmitry Bulakhau described the RBU as the “nucleus of post-Soviet integration in principle” and noted that if Russia and Belarus went down separate paths, then the outside "destructive forces" would be directed against Russia with its vast resources and territories. In this way, Belarus is serving as a protective shield for Russia in geo-strategic terms. Such a stance may help to explain the importance of the joint military exercises, which coincided with yet another high-level summit in Minsk, that of the Council of Defense Ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

Belarus then is pursuing several paths: it seeks to be a cooperative partner with Russia in economic, trade, and security bodies that are -- at least in theory -- directed toward greater integration, especially between the two Slavic countries. Likewise RBU directly threatens Belarusian sovereignty, but has largely been a paper entity and would need a common currency to ensure its deeper development. Gryzlov did say, however, that a working group had "almost completed" the draft of the constitutional act of the union state.

Two questions emerge for the summer of 2006: the first is whether the Lukashenka regime is an asset or a liability from Russia's perspective, and if so to what extent Putin will accede to Western demands to put more pressure on his neighbor to improve human rights and restore a more democratic system; the second, and far more critical question is to what extent Belarus can survive as a sovereign and independent entity within the various integration structures and particularly with the prospective finalization of the structure of the RBU. There is little indication that the Belarusian government has thought through this question, but it cannot be avoided for much longer.

A study?

Has anyone seen a study on the long term development of kids of vegans? We are not now or ever going to be a vegan family (mmm...almost raw cow...mmm.) However, we have met a number of pregnant vegan women recently. It just made me curious. And worried.

UPDATE: Only a medical journal article, please, not advocacy group links.

Google Funds Solar Cell Factory

A startup originally funded by Google Inc. Wednesday (June 21) announced a $100 million financing package and set plans to build what the company claims as the world's largest solar-cell manufacturing facility in California.

Presently in pilot production in its Palo Alto, Calif.-based facility, the solar-cell startup — Nanosolar — has started ordering volume production equipment for use in a factory said to have a total annual cell output of 430-megawatts (MW) once fully built out, or approximately 200 million cells per year.

Google's doing their part to make us energy independant.

Monday, June 26, 2006

War for the Eurasia Soul: A Footnote

China seeks to import electricity from neighboring countries by building power plants overseas, according to Liu Zhaoshao, chief economist of China’s State Grid Corporation. Projects in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia are currently under study. Liu told a recent investment forum that agreements with the three countries have been signed and details are under negotiation. Russians will build power plants in Russia, but the power will be transmitted to China, he said.

The preliminary plan is to build three power plants in Mongolia, each with a 3.6-gigawatt capacity. The first plant is expected to start operation by 2010, according to China's State Grid Corporation. Apart from sending some supplies to Mongolia, most of the power generated in the plants will be transmitted to China to meet the demands of China's northern regions. Domestic companies will build the three plants, while the State Grid will build the transmission lines.

The project in Kazakhstan, which is planned later than the projects in Russia and Mongolia, will resemble the Mongolian model. Liu noted that China has also negotiated with other neighboring countries such as Kyrgyzstan to import electricity by building power plants.

I have to wonder how much of this is going to help the Mongolians...or will this be a case of epower plants staffed by Russians with the energy all going to China? hmmm? Sounds very mildly like Mongolia is going to be rather integrated into China's needs. A weak state with the powerplants all there and if Mongolia gets uppity...well...

I wonder. A first step to the "Shanghai Confederation"?

I am curious what kind of power plants these are?

Dwayne Day's Cosmos Aritcle

From page two:

To take another example, why did the Soviet Union win the Sputnik race and the race to put a man in orbit but then lose the race to the Moon? Of course one could find a half dozen explanations for the Soviet loss of the Moon race: the Soviet leadership took a long time to recognize that the Americans were serious; they never provided adequate funding for the project; bureaucratic infighting hobbled the effort; bad technological choices (like not developing hydrogen engines) hurt them; and lying and incompetent bureaucrats prevented adequate oversight and program management. But is there a systemic-level explanation that can incorporate all of these individual explanations? There is good reason to search for one, because we might naturally assume that democratic capitalism would be worse at mobilizing resources for government purposes than a command-driven economy like the Soviet Union. But that assumption can be tested and the places where it passes compared to the places where it fails. We could argue that the Soviets lost the Moon race for the same reason that their political economic system ultimately collapsed, but can this argument shed any greater light on the two systems? Perhaps the answers can be supplied by political economists, or other experts outside of the fields of political science and history.
[Emphasis added]

It's a good read. Dwayne's always been interesting and a good writer at least since I've known him on years ago.

Reader Map

Please add yourselves, ok?

I haven't posted this in a while, but would like it updated.


It's Definitely Gong to be a Race!

It looks as though the US has gotten tired of China supplying rocket technology to the states that the US considers outright enemies - instead of just rivals. The US has frozen the assets of the the offending companies and put a huge crimp on any space related cooperation. As a consequence, the US and China will not be exploring space together.

What the Chinese are doing makes sense in a way. If you give enough technology that is difficult to replicate, but can be made to work to the outright enemies of the US, it keeps the US rather preoccupied. You also do it at levels that are not very high nor with things that will do than merely annoy you if the state turns against you. The tech levels are pretty low and the total and frequency are pretty low as well. That way the US can't get uber pissed at you and declare you an enemy. Just a big annoyance.

Amusingly, it's a strategy that I have used in games like Alpha Centauri to keep someone from getting ahead of me.

However, the big, big consequence is that the Chinese and Americans will be in competition...if the space race really gels. The Chinese have been making noises about landing taikonauts on the moon in 2024...sooo...we'll see.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

300 million strong...and growing!

Read and think. We're the third largest nation with regards to population. China and India are ahead respectively. However, should the EU ever really gel into a federal state, then it would take the US' place with 457 million. The EU grows mostly by adding countries though and its demographics are rather different than the US'. So, we'll see.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Some pictures from Ukraine via a Friend

These are of my family from a day ago. It was hard to see them. :(

They'll be back in a week though!

Friday, June 23, 2006

OMG - The Frog and Kill the Frog

This and this are just too damned hilarious.

And ooooooooooooooooh so wrong.

Ukraine as a Majority Government

The three Orange Parties - Our Ukraine, the Socialists, and Block of Yulia Timoshenko - have finally agreed to a coalition. This freezes out Yanukovich's Party of Regions. It looks like Timoshenko is headed to be Prime Minister again. That ought to be "interesting".

One of her first orders of business apparently is going to be a review of the natural gas deal with the Russians.


Weekend Plans

Tonight is pretty boring. Laundry and reading.

Tomorrow is cleaning and going to the Symphony. A friend bought me a ticket to see him sing. :)

Sunday is going to be a hike in Marin. I am thinking The Palomarin Trailhead. I'd like to see if its doable with a kiddo. I'll take a book, of course. ;)

Lukashenka -Heart- Stalin

You really have to read this to believe. Lukashenka really is an old school Darth Soviet Totalitarian. Yikes! An rewrite of the history books to be more favorable to Stalin and Lenin to elevate the people of Belarus and equate the current regime to Stalin's.

I am going to be ill.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Frackin Apple Ads

The news websites I read have these Apple ads with a young guy and a older frumpy one. Not only are they stupid, but on my workstation, which is linux and running firefox or mozilla, the damned things keep locking up my browser (most of the time) and sometimes even lock my workstation in general.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Oh Wow! We're FAMOUS!

Eddie Moore © Albuquerque Journal

Visitors William and Lyudmila Baird and their 11-month old daughter, Arrora, walk through the Tyuonyi Pueblo section in the Bandelier National Monument. This is the 90th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson's declaration of Bandelier as a national monument, and the 100th anniversary of the federal 1906 Antiquities Act.

The Father's Day Gift Card Books

I picked three books:

1. Mesoamerica's Ancient Cities: Aerial Views of Pre-Columbian Ruins in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras

2. After the Ice Age : The Return of Life to Glaciated North America

3. The Big Cats and Their Fossil Relatives

I decided fun books were important to get here. This was the spirit of what was given, so this is what I ordered.

I talked again with them tonight. I adore and miss them. I don't know how some people can stand to be parted form their families for a long time. I am certainly not one of them. *schniffles*

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dinner with The Fixer

I talked about in an earlier post that I entitled 'Inept Corruption' about our problems with the corrupt purchasing of tickets at the new train station in Kiev. It wasn't fun. It was actually rather scary, but att he time it was just pissing me off. In retrospect, and after talking to a lot of people, it's one of those 'oh shibbit!' moments. However, we were, as I noted, saved by the man I called, 'The Fixer'.

What exactly did he do? Well, Lyuda via Lena got ahold of him and pleaded for help. She'd faced the corruption in her home country and new tha there were places you could turn to. She called and begged for help. Was there any way to get us train tickets? Could he talk to someone? He said he would try. He didn't promise anything, but said he would try. He made some discrete phone calls and told Lyuda to go pick them up. We still had to pay for them, but they were suddenly available. They were for the best class available on the train and cost us for the three adults about $60 each, iirc. This was 'Lux' class. We left Kiev on the train the next day with not a shark-finned minnow in sight.

In fact, British Airways had lost - or rather accidently left - some of our luggage in London. The luggage had been expressed to us the day after our flight and as we'd been required to crash at a relative of Lyuda's in Kiev it arrived the day we were leaving on the train. They rushed it via courier to the train and got it to us just moments before the train left. Talk about service! There was no charge: for Ukraine that is something just short of amazing!

We made it to Gorlovka. Another friend of Lyuda's picked us up with his SUV - yes, Lyuda has some wealthier friends in Ukraine. Duh! She worked for the police - and gave us a ride to her house. It's not a short walk from the train station to Lyuda's home - more like a couple miles! - and it would have been Yet Another Lyuda-Luggage Death March - if we'd attempted the walk. We'd arrived too early for a bus...soooo...the gentleman was delighted to see Lyuda again and gave us the ride quite cheerfully despite having so many heavy things being packed into it.

When we got to Lyuda's home, she burst into tears. It'd be quite some time since she'd seen her family and she'd missed them terribly. It was touching. However, I felt that I didn't want to take pix or video. it wouldn't been right. it wold have been voyeurism at its worst. This was a moment meant to be private and loving. Mama and Lena seeing Lyuda for the first time in years and Vsevolod and Avrora were meeting parts of the family they'd never met and probably really didn't understand existed. Lena and Mama welcomed me warmly and so they ddi for Tom too, but their attention was focused on Lyuda. As it should have been.

The next day Lyuda's friend, The Fixer, called to say that he was inviting us out to dinner. In Ukraine, when someone invites you out to dinner, they pick up the tab. For EVERYONE they invited. This can get spendy, but its a part of Ukrainian traditional hospitality. Unlike here in the States where its everyone for themselves unless explicitly said otherwise.

He originally asked us for 5 PM (1700), but couldn't make it. He's a business man these days and business was getting in the way. He asked forgiveness and if we could do 7:00 PM (1900) instead. Of course! We owed the guy alot. He was an hour late and apologized. He picked us all up in his Mercedes SUV and whisked us off to Donetsk from Gorlovka.

Oh, he has a charming and beautiful wife who is a gynecologist. He's rather charming too for that matter and looks strikingly like Jeb, a friend of mine from Las Cruces, NM.

He quizzed me and I him the whole way down. Tom got in some comments here and there, with questions, but mostly it was he and I asking things of each other. He wanted to know about myself and Tom and I was intensely curious about him. Who was this guy? Lyuda had explained that he's a guy that can get things or get things done. He gets a favour for you and then you owe him a favour. He never accepts money and is extremely scrupulous about that, but he has influence. It seems something ascale to vast influence. His day job is that he owns two NG filling stations for cars. Yes, cars. NG is cheaper than gasoline is there in Ukraine. Some people have converted their cars over and he has two stations.

He's doing very well and he said that demand is such that he's going to have to expand quickly. That led us done the route of business loans and credit. The discussion of the differences of how it works here in the States versus in Ukraine were interesting, but it would have been better served by oh, say, Noel or Carlos or Doug to have been there instead.

However, I found out how Lyuda knew him. as I have stated before, Lyuda worked for the police as an accountant in her previous life over in Ukraine. He was a former policeman. He got tired of it and retired. I am almost certain he got his role as The Fixer while being a cop in the Soviet Union. He went into business and the rest is history.

However, interestingly enough, he has been the States, almost a decade ago. He had met some individuals that had come to Donetsk from the US right after the break up of the Soviet Union. They were part of the People To People program. One of the women invited him, the mayor, and the chief of police to the US. He had a wild time hopping flight to flight to get to Pensacola, Florida where he stayed for almost a month, iirc. He loves the States and Americans, but doesn't want to live there. Ukraine is home.

We ended up discussing what was really happening with the stupid ship and exercises in Crimea. We also discussed Ukrainian politics. He's fed up with all of the above choices, so to speak, for politicians (Yuschenko, Timoshenko, and Yanukovich can all rot in hell as far as he's concerned). He wants someone new. Someone above reproach. Good luck! Lyuda made an interesting observation then. For Ukrainians, it seems that politics are about people. No, not the people in the streets, but the personalities. It's almost never about their policies. She'd noticed this about her cousins in Kiev we stayed with: they were fervent Timoshenko supporters, but really didn't know anything about her policies.

The restaurant that he had picked was excellent. The service was superb. The food was fantastic (I had veal in a morell sauce). Lyuda had Black Sea Flounder. The conversation was good. The company was excellent. I had a wonderful time. I was only worried what we owed him. No, not for dinner, but for the favour of getting us tickets when no tickets were to be had. The topic did come up. Finally. Near the end.

It was mostly harmless, what he asked for. He asked for an invitation to the US. Ukrainians, due to visa requirements, need to get an invitation to the States to be able to get a visa. He wanted to come visit us and to go skiing! He asked where was good to go and I told him Colorado, California, and New Mexico. He was delighted with the answer. So, I still need to compose a letter of invitation come around Xmas time. And we're going to go back to ski! Again!

We don't have to pay for them either: all they wanted was a letter. That's more than fine with me. Time comes, I'll snap some pictures and put them here.

He's dropped in to visit Lyuda while she's there. He's tired. Lyuda's tired. Each for different reasons, but in a way, it's both their babies that are exhausting them.

And that...was the Dinner with The Fixer.

U.S. weighs shootdown of N. Korea missile

The Bush administration is weighing responses to a possible North Korean missile test that include attempting to shoot it down in flight over the Pacific, defense officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Because North Korea has made it a practice not to announce its missile tests in advance, U.S. officials say they cannot be sure of the government's intentions. Under that circumstance, the Pentagon is considering the possibility that it might need to attempt an interception, two defense officials said.

The officials agreed to discuss the matter only on condition of anonymity because of its political sensitivity.

Wow! Talk about an understatement. "political sensitivity" indeed. This is such a loaded political bomb I can't help but wonder what they are thinking. Consider: if it works, what does that mean on the international scale? For China? Russia? Did the US unilaterally decide to whack the NK missile? If it fails that could be a lot worse. If we don't use it...and we have it...and the NK missile actually hits near the US?
Wow. Now that this "option" is out of the closet and marching in the pride parade...this is gonna be hairy.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Laser diodes going high powered

Wisconsin-based diode laser company Alfalight has been awarded an 18-month, $4.7 million US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract to develop a 50W single-emitter laser diode.

The research is part of DARPA’s Architecture for Diode High-Energy Laser Systems programme. Its goal is to produce a multi-kilowatt diode laser system. Single emitters of less than a kilowatt of power would be combined to produce a multi-kilowatt beam.

In January 2006 Alfalight demonstrated a prototype 22W diode laser.

From Flight International.

Problems with China and GPS

According to an article in last week’s Space News, the Europeans and the US are disturbed by China’s planned Compass military satellite navigation system. The Chinese are going to try to do to both America’s GPS 3 and Europe’s Galileo systems what the Europeans, under French leadership, tried to do to the US. Europe originally planned to neutralize the military advantage of the US system by putting their signal on a frequency so close to the US M-code one that any attempt to jam their signal would interfere with the US system’s operation: a neat trick that was aimed at giving France a de facto veto over all US military operations. The rest of Europe didn’t care to follow France into a conflict of this kind with the US so they forced France to swallow an agreement on this (See “What’s the frequency, Jacques?”, The Space Review, March 1, 2004)

The Chinese are not part of anything like ESA or the EU and are thus not subject to any of the pressures that led France to “be reasonable”. It will be quite a while before the Europeans fully sort out the implications of this for their system, but it is obvious that China has used its role in Galileo to gain both knowledge and expertise in military satellite navigation technology from Europe and is now going to make good use of those lessons. The Europeans, who claimed that they could separate the civil from the military aspects of this technology and only share the non-offensive parts with China, are left with egg on their face.

From the Space Review.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

I thought I was going to have a 1000% suckie Father's day. My wife and daughter are in Ukraine. I am here. Alone. Great setup, huh?

I kept today simple and with purpose. I went for a hike in an area that I might like to build the house up in Marin. I mostly liked it. There were some places that it was obvious that people simply didn't care about their homes. I really didn't like that. There were a few very nice houses. Most were definitely not in anything like a style I'd want to build in. I'm hung up on a semi Byzantine with Art Nouveau, Adirondack, and other touches. It looks vaguely Mediterranean or somewhat Spanish Colonial, but...not really. That's how some Californians react to the style when it is sketched or drawn up. They'll see the differences once construction starts. No stucco for one thing!

I came home, scorched, and sat down with a cup of coffee (a new, nice New Mexican blend of Trader Joe' was roasted over Pinon) and read more of the book I am reading now. I then watched the borrowed BSG first season episodes and cooked dinner: a hamburger, a tomato (sliced), and sliced, fried egg plant.

Then my brother called to wish me a happy father's day. We talked and then it was time to talk to Lyuda and Avrora. I called them...

And they surprised me with a card that was squirreled away waiting for me and a gift card to amazon. Gosh. Even halfway around the world and they surprised me with something. I was delighted. I have been missing them horribly. :( And they still pulled off a surprise for me. I really, really love them.

Two weeks 'til they're back! woo! :D

I promise to post tomorrow on Dinner with the Fixer!

The Ordovician Extnctions

I have long promised a post on the Ordovician Extinction. I had planned on doing this prior to the family trip to Ukraine. I finally have a bit of time to do the write up, but it is still a lesser write up since, frankly, this is one of the extinctions I am not that interested in. Terrrestrial environments have long held my attention and there's almost zlich to report here on them. This is strictly an extinction that took place out in the sea. Gosh. To makes matters worse, it seems to be completely uncontested in any of the books I have read as to what happened.

Like many of the extinctions there was actually more than one event that took place. In this case, like the Permian Extinction there were two. They had a single related cause. They were both relatively quick. The first event is termed the 'Hirnantian' after the locale of the fossils. The second one I have seen termed the 'Ashgillian''. I had best make a quick description though of the situation that the world's oceans were in prior to the extinctions.

The world was relatively warm. More so than now, or so I gather. Dr Scotese has a nice diagram of temperature of time that helps show this. The oceans themselves where stratified. That is to say that the different layers didn't mix very much. The top was oxygeniated like ours are today. There was a middle layer the was low in oxygen and a bottom that anoxic in a big, big way. You might say that the oceans were the Black Sea write large. The layers of the biosphere were very stratified as well.

What happened in the first extinction? The ocean levels dropped. This trigered the Hirnantian extinction. All that shallow water habitat went bye-bye. The oceans mixed at the same time losing their stratification. All layers became oxygenated. Nowadays, that makes our oceans very productive, but back then, for all the species that had very specific levels of oxygen that they lived at, that was a disaster. If you lived especially in the shallows only, this was equally a disaster, obviously.

The second extinction took off when the oceans suddenly rose and covered back up to where they were before. In the process the oceans had restratified and the anoxic portion ate most of the habitat where life had taken refuge. This specifically hurt those that lived in the Hirnantian habitats.

So, what caused this? It seems that Gondwanaland glaciated. Swallowing the water in ice on land as glaciers lowered the sea levels everywhere. The evidence for this is actually in the oxygen isotope ratios. They indicate a drop of 10 C in the tropical seas! Then when the cold snap passed, the oceans rose fast, in geological timescales, and killed those that had been happy in the cold environment. The world froze. It's the opposite of what happened in the Permian (it cooked then). The next post on Extinctions will be about the Devonian...or as I have seen it called 'One Damned Thing After Another'.

So what's your poison? Global cooking? Global freezing? Oceanic anoxia? Asteroids? Or an intelligent species? Choose, but choose wisely. ;)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Putin: IDK who my Successor will be

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday introduced a new twist into the hot debate of who will succeed him, saying the Kremlin top job might end up with an as yet unknown outsider.

The identity of who will replace Putin when he steps down in 2008 is the country's hottest political topic, with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at present seen as strong possibles to follow him.

But at a briefing in Shanghai, Putin, 53, steered journalists away from assuming it was down to a straight race between Medvedev and Ivanov.

His successor may be "someone not very well known ... not necessarily one of two people," Putin said, Russian news agencies reported on Friday.

He was emphatic he would not try to stay on for a third successive term after 2008 -- something that would require a constitutional change.

"You cannot demand that people respect the law if you yourself break the law," he said in Shanghai where he had been at a regional cooperation conference.

From CNN.


I have contacted three architects today.

We're setting up meetings for starting the house.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Another Photo

Living Fossil Photographed

The first pictures showing a live specimen of a rodent species once thought to have been extinct for 11 million years have been taken by a retired Florida State University professor and a Thai wildlife biologist.

They took video and still photographs of the "living fossil," which looks like a small squirrel or tree shrew, in May during an expedition to central Laos near the Thai border.

Known as Diatomyidae, scientists have nicknamed it the Laotian rock rat. The creature is not really a rat but a member of a rodent family once known only from fossils.

The pictures show a docile, squirrel-sized animal with dark dense fur and a long tail but not as bushy as a squirrel's. It also shows that the creature waddles like a duck with its hind feet splayed out at an angle — ideal for climbing rocks.

"I hope these pictures will help in some way to prevent the loss of this marvelous animal," said David Redfield, a science education professor emeritus.

From here.

Bird Fossil Pictures

House of Reps Debate Global Warming

REP. DON YOUNG (R-AK): "Mr. Chairman, I raise a point of order that the language . . . violates . . . the rules of the House representing prohibited legislation in appropriation bills. The language that I have cited contains congressional findings and a sense of Congress on global warming."

REP. DICKS: "I would like to be heard on the point of order. This is my amendment, and I want the gentleman to understand that this doesn't have anything to do with authorizing language either for Interior or for Agriculture and that this amendment is a sense of the Congress."

REP. DAVID OBEY (D-WI): "I don't know what it takes to have this government get off its you-know-what and start dealing with the most critical environmental problem that confronts the entire planet. If we just take a look at a few of the pieces of evidence that are lying all around: core drillings in glaciers around the world enable us to study bubbles that go back as far as 300,000 years, and we see that we have a higher concentration of carbon dioxide than we have had in the known history of the planet.

"Since 1970, the duration and intensity of hurricanes has increased by 50 percent, the number of tornados in this country has now reached the highest number in recorded history, some 1,700 in one year. Two hundred western cities have broken heat records in the past two years."

"So this to me is not just an environmental problem; it is a moral problem. It isn't going to affect my generation. All of you who are in my generation are going to be gone within twenty years. But it most certainly is going to affect our kids, it most certainly is going to affect our grandkids. And I would hope that we would demonstrate that we care more about the welfare of the planet than we care about committee jurisdictional dung hills."

"But what is apparent today is that this Congress is going to be prevented from making a simple statement of fact that humans and human activity are driving, at least significantly driving, the problem of global warming and that we have an obligation to do something on the national level and the international level to deal with it, and we have an obligation to do it now."

REP. YOUNG: " I have the greatest respect for the gentleman who just spoke. My interest is in fact legislation on appropriation bills. And I do believe we have the opportunity to in fact have good hearings on this issue, because there is a difference of opinion. Do me a favor, my friends, and go back and read 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975."

"We call that the Ice Age. Every scientist of any renown said we were faced with an ice age. It was irreversible. We were going to be faced with famines. The world was coming to an end. And we had to do something about it immediately. We had to do something about it as the Congress. Check the records. That is the reality. What concerns me the most is the possibility of a fear tactic being implemented in the warming threat.

"Let's have a good study. Let's have a debate and division of what is occurring by scientists. Let's look at the model. Yes, the Earth is warming, in some areas. I just read a report, in fact, that Greenland is cooling. The thing I think strikes me the most is if you will take the time to study the globe, the world as we know it, and look at what has occurred in the past and possibly will occur in the future, we are now pumping one million barrels a day from Prudhoe Bay. Prudhoe Bay, the most northern part of this continent, we are pumping that oil.

"Now, I ask you, my friends, if you studied science, where does oil come from? What occurred on this globe at that time to allow mastodons, ferns, tree stumps, a tropical atmosphere to be there to create that oil? And that is the reality.

"I ask you, secondly, if you go back to the Ice Age, and we have had four ice ages, three majors and one minor, if you go to New Mexico 12 million years ago, there was 287 feet of ice in New Mexico. I won't ask you what created that ice. But I will ask each and every one of you and everybody watching and everybody talking this fear tactic what melted that ice all the way to the North Pole before mankind set foot on this continent. It certainly wasn't hair spray or Freon or automobile emissions. It melted, 287 foot of ice, before we set foot.

"I am a little bit concerned when everything that is wrong is our fault, that the human factor creates all the damages on this globe. That is pure nonsense. That is nonsense. And so I am asking you, let's have the hearings, let's have the scientists, let's have some debate about really what is occurring here instead of having hysteria and saying it is all our fault.

"And, by the way, it is always the fault of the Americans. It is never the fault of the bigger countries that burn as many barrels of oil as we are doing today, not per capita but as many barrels of oil, and burn the coal as we are trying to do. It is never their fault. It is our fault.

"So let's have a sound debate about this issue and not be caught in this attitude that we must do something right now because we are the Federal Government. Let's do it the right way."

REP. OBEY: "I knew we still had charter members of the Flat Earth Society walking around this country. I didn't realize there were quite so many in the United States Congress."

REP. YOUNG: " I am just curious, were you referring to yourself?"

REP. OBEY: "The rules don't allow me to say who I was referring to. The gentleman says we should have studies, we should have hearings. Your party has controlled this Congress for 14 years. The time for studying is over. The time for studying is past. There is a huge scientific consensus that human beings are driving global warming. And James Hansen from NASA has told us that in his view we may have less than 10 years to deal with this problem before we hit a critical tipping point beyond which we will be facing catastrophe.

"He may be right, and you may be right. If you are right, then moving to deal with this problem costs us very little. If he is right, not moving costs us everything. The gentleman refers to an ice age.

"If you shut down the ocean currents' conveyors, you are going to have an ice age in one heck of a hurry. So I would suggest the gentleman has committee responsibilities. If he does not want this committee to meet our responsibilities, as we have tried to do, then it is about time you meet yours and actually do something about it rather than denying that this is a real problem."

REP. YOUNG: "let us say this is not about the action itself. It is about legislating on appropriation [legislation], but I do, and ask you sincerely, I do not have jurisdiction with that committee. Thank God, I do not really run the White House, but I think we have to legitimately and not respond to the fear tactic. Read the book, "Controlled By Fear." It is very interesting you can frighten people into doing most anything, including taking away the economy and the opportunity for future generations, easily done.

"That is what I do not want us to fall into. If we are the driving factor, I am willing to accept that responsibility and do something of it, but again, go back to the history of this globe and what has occurred. It is ironic when I go into many of these States and I see seashells at 11,000 feet, seashells. This continent was covered with water at one time, retreated and allowed humanity to grow. Now, keep that in mind. Do not keep getting caught in the idea that everything that is here now is permanent. The Earth is a natural, evolving phenomenon.

"That is all I am asking people to do. It is not to be caught into the fear and driving and say it is all our fault what is occurring. If that is the case through such studies, then let us accept that, but right now it has not been proven. There is a large division that says this is not happening because of humanity."

REP. OBEY: "I would simply say to my good friend that just about the only scientists left in the world who do not recognize that this is a serious and real problem are those who have an economic interest in not recognizing it, and that, in my view, is an absolute fact.

"The gentleman talks about not wanting to fall into a trap. What you are going to fall into if we listen to the gentleman is sea levels 20 to 30 feet higher than they are now, and virtually every coastal city in the world is going to be under water, and New Orleans is going to be the norm rather than the unhappy exception. That is what the world is going to face if we do not deal with this problem and begin to deal with it while we still have time."

Intermediate Bird Form Found in China

Dozens of fossils of an ancient loon-like creature that some say is the missing link in bird evolution have been discovered in northwest China.

The remains of 40 of the nearly modern amphibious birds, so well-preserved that some even have their feathers, were found in Gansu province, researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science. Previously only a single leg of the creature, known as Gansus yumenensis, had been found.

"Gansus is a missing link in bird evolution," said Matt Lamanna of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

"Most of the ancestors of birds from the age of dinosaurs are members of groups that died out and left no modern descendants. But Gansus led to modern birds, so it's a link between primitive birds and those we see today," Lamanna, a co-leader of the research team, said in a telephone interview.

It was about the size of a modern pigeon, but similar to loons or diving ducks, he explained, and one of the fossils even has skin preserved between the toes, showing that it had webbed feet.

"We were lucky far beyond our expectations" in finding these fossils, Hai-lu You of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences said at a briefing Thursday.

"A world lost for more than 100 million years was being revealed to us," he said.

Previously there was a gap between ancient and modern species of birds, and "Gansus fits perfectly into this gap," added Jerald D. Harris of Dixie State College in Utah.

"Gansus is the oldest example of the nearly modern birds that branched off of the trunk of the family tree that began with the famous proto-bird Archaeopteryx," said Peter Dodson of the University of Pennsylvania, a co-author of the paper along with Lamanna, You and others.

The remains were dated to about 110 million years ago, making them the oldest for the group Ornithurae, which includes all modern birds and their closest extinct relatives. Previously, the oldest known fossils from this group were from about 99 million years ago.

From here.

IRobot Arming Packbots

Robot manufacturer iRobot is negotiating with potential industry partners about jointly developing and offering to the services an armed version of the company's PackBot in response to requests from U.S. troops overseas.

"We're having discussions with some of the major defense industry primes," said retired Vice Adm. Joseph Dyer, iRobot's executive vice president and general manager. "We have strong feelings about how it needs to be done and how professionally it needs to be approached. Both we and the Army have the strongest belief that [there must be] a man in the loop."

Well more than 300 PackBots are deployed overseas, with most involved in scouting and neutralizing improvised explosive devices (IEDs). When a soldier is given a PackBot, one of their first questions typically is, "Can I put my weapon on it?" according to Helen Greiner, iRobot chairman and co-founder.

The company has developed and tested a prototype PackBot equipped with a shotgun that could be used for everything from rendering IEDs inert to blasting open locked doors, depending on the type of ammunition used, Dyer said. The company already has a safety-certified firing circuit for PackBot developed for another variant capable of defusing IEDs by firing a blast of water at their triggering mechanism (DAILY, March 7).

Other candidate weapons could range from automatic weapons all the way up to the Javelin anti-armor missile, according to Greiner. In such a system, the "robot's more like a remote firing system that's not attached to your body," Greiner said.

From Aviation Week.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Clueless Me

My friend, Suzanne the Enracked, has a blog!

Be Afraid. Be very afraid.

Now if the other Las Crucens do too...*shudders deeply*

Minus a Wisdom Tooth

Hearing craaaaaaaaaaaaack as he takes it out is never good.

Nature's Frankenstein?

A butterfly species from South America has been revealed as nature's answer to Frankenstein's monster, scientists say.

New research shows the insect was originally created from two different butterflies in an evolutionary process many biologists didn't think possible.

The scientists arrived at this conclusion by successfully re-creating the butterfly in the lab, using "second-hand parts" from two related species.

Animals are thought usually to evolve in the opposite manner, when a single species gradually splits into two over many generations.

The team behind the discovery describes how it re-created the black, red, and yellow Heliconius heurippa butterfly in tomorrow's issue of the journal Nature.

Researchers say their creation reveals a process called hybrid speciation, in which the genes of two existing species combine to produce a third.

The study suggests hybridization may be more important to the evolution of new animals than had previously been thought.

Hybrids such as the mule, a cross between a donkey and a horse, are sterile. But the team says the butterfly hybrid brought together a combination of genes that allowed it to breed and there be considered a new species.

From National Geographic.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Baby Pictures from Ukraine

Tom brought back his camera! So we actually had some pictures that I can post! woo!

Inept Corruption

Going back in time a bit to near the beginning of the Ukrainian trip, after we'd landed in Kiev and found that the Brits had lost some of our luggage enroute (and found it again in London!), we made our way to the train station. The plan was that we were going to go from our flight that landed in Borispol to the Kiev train station and catch the next train that makes a stop in Gorlovka. If we'd been fast, we would have been able to catch the train at 17:30 +/- to arrive 12 hours later. We weren't because of the baggage issues. So the next one was going to be around 20:30 +/-. So, we hopped the bus from Borispol to the train station...

When Tom and I were unloading our plethora of bags, Lyuda started talking to this guy that appeared oh of nowhere asking where we were going. At first, I thought he was one of those types to make a quick buck moving our bags for us or trying damned hard to get you to use them as a taxi. Those taxi guys in Ukraine are damned pushy and you have to treat them like they are the worst, foulest creatures if you want them to leave you alone. They swarm like ants and most of the time won't take 'nyet' for an answer. Esp if they notice that you're a foreigner and I don't have any features that make me look like a local. They peg me as either an American or German off the bat, former for the clothes and the latter for the facial features. So I get the swarm two fold over the locals at least. This guy wasn't a cab driver though...

After Lyuda told him Gorlovka or the Donbass, or something like that, he quickly whipped out his phone and called someone. He replied to Lyuda that there were no tickets, but he could make arrangements...Lyuda thanked him, but declined. We then started our moving our logistics train, ahem, baggage, into the nice, shiny, and new train station. Lyuda, Tom, Avrora, and I trundled up the the ticket counter and Lyuda engaged the woman selling tickets. Nope, no tickets she said. The guy was still hovering around. He pounced again.

He stated that he could get us all first class tickets. The price was 450 hryvna ($90) for the four tickets and he'd need our passports. Y'see to buy tickets on the train in Ukraine, they need your passports. That's normal. Lyuda would have needed all of our passports to buy us tickets. They want real people associated with real places on the train, so goes the theory. This guy had shown some random woman's passport to Lyuda and us at the same time he was rambling on in Russian: he told Lyuda something to the effect of 'see, here is someone I am already getting tickets for...' The problem was something felt wrong. Very wrong. Tom and I immediately spouted out 'nyet' as soon as Lyuda translated. Tom and I pegged the guy as a scalper: he and his friends had bought all the free the tickets already and were going to charge the added bonus of having all the info needed to make some very convincing fake passports. We weren't going to have that.

Some dickering went on back and forth. We told him we'd pay him and if Lyuda went with him when he got the tickets then she could take the passports. He wasn't going to do that. He suggested that if he could have the information from inside the passports, he'd not take them. Uh uh, no! He then said he wanted to talk over in a little cafe there in the train station. He counteroffered again with that he'd get us the tickets without any info if the price was higher. The amount slips my mind. About then, his buddies started showing up. That's when I got the feeling this wasn't merely a lone scalper. Something else was up. When Lyuda stated that he'd basically said, 'his way or the highway,' we all agreed 'no way'. We left the cafe. Lyuda went off to see if there was some other way to get tickets. She was pretty despondent though. She said, 'These are the Mafia.'

Tom and I stood around with my daughter and the bags as the 'Mafia' types circled from a distance. They never took their eyes off of us. They moved like sharks around us too. If we watched them watching us, they'd move to another place until we'd stop watching them. It was a little eerie. Lyuda came back with a negative report. She was getting really upset. She lashed out at us for not watching the bags closely enough because the bag theives are really fast. Given the weight of the bags - they were fscking heavy! - I had this image of some idiot sprinting over and grabbing a bag as fast as he could...only to fall flat on his ass as he tried to run off! Tom lent her his cell phone - hers wasn't working in country despite setting it up to do so at the Cingular store the week before - and she called her sister. Lena started working the problem from her end too, but stated that a friend of hers had dealt with the some sort of characters we were facing without problems despite giving up her passport (and getting it back).

Then the original twit came back. He talked more with Lyuda and he tossled my daughters hair despite my glares. He and Lyuda started getting heated with one another and he stalked off. He'd been going on about the stupid Americans and that they didn't understand how things worked here in their country. That ticked off my wife: she's starting to seld-identify as an American too...not all the way...but she's getting there. She realized that then at that moment too. She and Tom went off to see if they could find a driver that'd take us to Gorlovka instead. If we couldn't get a train, we'd drive. Preferably a native driving, if not then one of us through a car rental.

Lyuda and Tom disappeared for a while with Avrora this time. I was left with the bags. The twit and his buddies continued to circle. However, whenever there was a cop, they moved away. It wasn't that the cops didn't see them or realize what they were up to, or so it seemed, it just came across as the twits and cops were under the mutual agreement that the twits didn't conduct business under the cops noses or do anything that would require the cop to step in (like if thw twits hurt someone). After Lyuda and crew left and the cops were at the far side of the terminal, the 'Mafia' types starting playing theater.

Well, that's what I call it. They started staging, rather badly, selling tickets to men for train rides to Donetsk. Or Gorlovka. They did it loudly enough that I'd hear them. They did it with a few times. One was obviously to the guy that was their boss (I'd seen him talking to them and nodding to us earlier when I was watching Avrora). Another was to someone that was obviously another twit. None were to people I'd recognize as standard Ukrainians. Or tourists. It was a theatre act, and a poor one at that, so that they could say they were doing 'honest' business and possibly jack up the price later. Or get me mervous about all the tickets that had been sold already.

Tom came back with Avrora. We talked some more. It was after 19:00 and getting to 19:30. We didn't have food, which wasn't horrible for the adults, but Avrora needed to eat more than cookies and juice. The train was leaving shortly, or so I thought...and Lyuda was missing. I got nervous when 19:45 rolled around and Lyuda wasn't there. I asked Tom to go looking for her. He did. Avrora was getting pissed off from boredom and no real food: she loves her meat and cheese! And brocolli, damnit! Feed ME! She let loose. Some kids came over and gave her a balloon to play with which worked for a little while until she chased it to tackle hug it popped out from under her. She smacked her forehead on the stone floor getting a small bump. Tom came back then sans Lyuda and Lyuda showed up from somewhere else at the same time. Avrora was crying (bumped head) and Lyuda was getting very upset.

We thought at first that someone had threatened her. After all, these guys were getting to look a little pissy at this point. We weren't taking the bait and they weren't getting paid. No, Lyuda was jsut getting uberupset and was double plus uber tired: she'd not slept well in two days. She went outside to call her sister again on the cell phone. With Tom and I both glaring at them, the twits moved back a little more and left us be. Lena had been working to do something at the same time. She'd been placing calls to old friends of Lyuda's and friends of her own to see what she could arrange. One guy said he might drive all the way to Kiev to get us and Lena was trying to get ahold of him for confirmation. Lyuda came back and Avrora was crying again.

Lyuda lost it again. Exhaustion and frustration again. It was almost 20:00. The guy wasn't going to drive all the way to Kiev to get us. Tom and I convinced her we needed to go find a hotel for the night. She agreed and we moved our bags out of the terminal to get to a hotel. That's when the first twit got desperate. He bolted out the front door to meet us outside. He talked fast to Lyuda. Lyuda translated saying he'd get us the tickets, altogether, no need for the passports. We all consulted and glared at him. Fine, we agreed. Tom and I would prefer to spend more money and not abide the corrupt, than save some and help that festering wound...but Lyuda really wanted on the train and we weren't going to

He led us down to the train track. We piled our bags together in a defensive huddle. Iw as a little worried because he'd taken us down to the far end of the track and a lot of his buddies had shown up. They looked like a bad movie's Russian Mafia types. It was a little worrisome. Our train showed. The conductor popped out and started loading people into her car. The twit started negotiating with the conductor. The conductor kept trying to ignore him: she didn't have any space. He got threatening. No space. He argued, cajoled, many things. No space. The twit pulled in his buddies. The conductor called in hers.

The twit came over saying that they had room for my wife and daughter, but no one else. Rejected that. Then he came back with anotehr deal that was unacceptable. Still wasn't what he'd promised. This BS was said and that. Lies and more lies. The conductor was just pushing him away and he was trying to make money off us. One point it sounded like he was going to try to least steal the bags.

He went back to the conductor again with all of his buddies. They argued quite loudly. That's when I noticed someone stick a camera phone out the window of one of the other trains and snapped some photos of them. The twit came back. I handed Avrora to Lyuda and stood a little bit away from the bags, but close enough to them that he couldn't grab one and run. His buddies watched. IDK if Tom had the same idea or not, but Tom is a big guy. I'm tall at least and to these shorty twits a little imposing. The twit tried to look threatening, but it didn't work. He growled at Lyuda and looked at us. Then he stomped off. Lena called. Their cousin was enroute. He'd be there and help us with a place to stay. Just stay where we were.

The train left. Without us.

The twit came back. The twit yelled something at Lyuda and it seemed to be as much for his friends as for us. According to Lyuda, we'd broken the deal, he said. He stormed off with the entourage in tow. Lyuda looked a little bleak and stated that now no one was going to sell us tickets. Her cousin showed up - a charming guy that was quite striking. His gf was nice, but...he could have caught a lot better. If I'd dragged him to the States, he'd have the girls cooing. He's a student at the University, an EE. Ah, fellow geek to the rescue.

We crashed at his parents place. They were as poor as church mice. The next day we ended up getting tickets - "Lux Class" aka luxury class - despite the problems with the very inept 'Mafia'. That was due to The Fixer though. He was a very charming guy in Donetsk that used to work with Lyuda. At the National Police. He was a character. He is worth a post of his own. That's the least I can do.

The twits of the so-called Mafia were just incompetant. Their theatrics were stupid. Their threats were empty. Tom and I could have taken at least half of them without even getting very hurt. They kept doing all the wrong moves: showing the woman's passport, threatening, cajoling, and, frankly, if Lyuda would have lightened up, we could have played them like a good violin. I've dealt with far, far better before. I've encountered men that were both corrupt and scary. To be corrupt, you need to be scary, convincing, have half a clue, and follow through on what you promise. These guys were just plain stupid idiots.

I'd never seen these types at the train station before in my three prior trips to Ukraine. It makes me sad that they were there at all. Even with as stupid as they were. It makes me sadder that the cops didn't just walk over and give them the boot. The cops looked more frightening than this shark-finned minnows. Alas. Poor Ukraine. I hope to not see them next time. After all, something did give me a little more hope.

Once we were on the train, Avrora met a playmate. Am-(mumble) and parents were going back to a small town outside of Donetsk to visit his babushka. They were obviously pretty well off for Ukrainians and I'd even say he looked like upper middle class American by the dress of he and his wife. Not to mention the stone in her ring. He struck up a conversation with me. He was a minor executive in the railway company's international department. The conversation went from introductions to discussing what we do to politics and my opinions of Ukrainians and Ukraine. He was especially interested in those that had immigrated to the States (he was worried they were all criminals, actually!). The conversation turned to the Rule of Law by the end. It was a topic that wasn't just on his lips. It had been on Lyuda's uncle and cousin's lips. It was on the Fixer's lips too over dinner in Donetsk. It was on a lot of Ukrainians' lips.

And that gives me hope. A lot of hope.

Maybe, just maybe, Ukraine won't fall to those shark-finned minnows.

A Little Bit of Wisdom

"I just don't want to be part of that message that adults, authority figures, are stupid and only kids are smart because in the real world it doesn't work that way."

From John Ratzenberger from an interview about his little roles with Pixar films.

ObWI: Films took a similar view to this on many subjects rather than simply one small time (forgive me) actor. Changes?

Monday, June 12, 2006


I just finished two books. The first one I picked up in London because I was without anything to read on the flight to San Francisco that was catching my interest at all and the second I started and finished after getting home. The first one was Augustus: Godfather of Europe, a biography of Octavian and the second was Extinction: How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago. It was an interesting combination. The great founder of the Roman Empire vs the near extinction of life.

I rather liked both books. Extinction's author, Erwin, came across as an open minded individual that was willing to admit when he was wrong and evaluated the different hypotheses about the PT Event in a interesting and weighing manner. Some of the things he pointed out I'll discuss when I finally get the PT Event on my extinctions blogging. The one of note is that starting the Siberian Traps by nailing the planet on the other side has been thought of already and even proposed. Simulations of it have shown that its of neglible energy by the time the shockwaves get to the other side of the world: it's just too damned far. He has also stated that now that paleontologists are convinced of the KT Impact hypothesis, they keep looking for exactly the same data for support as evidence. This is probably wrong. As an example, he notes that if a comet impacts, it's not likely to leave an Iridium layer like the KT asteroid did. He did say there was other evidence - shocked quartz, etc. - that would show up no matter what and it would be far better to dismiss or accept the impacts based on that.

Augustus was a different beast. It was a biography. There were a lot of details that I didn't know, much to my shame, and I'd have to say that I am almost glad that I am seperated by such a temporal distance from Octavian. The man was just damned dnagerous. Oh, not on a personal level with a knife in hand a feral attitude. Rather this guy, at 18, started a climb, successfully, to such heights that it was ... amazing. Anyways, most of you already know the story. The nifty part of this biography was that the author included some personality quirks about Augustus: he loved to gamble, but would often make sure he gave everyone the money to be gambled rather than take from them. He disliked, somewhat strongly, being called 'Dominus' (lord auf latin). It was a worthwhile read. I wish I'd bought another book besides this one to read on the plane...I still had hours to kill.

I am currently reading Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome. I'll be wquickly following that with Terrestrial Ecosystems Through Time : Evolutionary Paleoecology of Terrestrial Plants and Animals. Hopefully after that last one, I'll make my long promised post about the Ordovician.

The latest books I'm picking up are:

1. Insulating Concrete Forms Construction : Demand, Evaluation, & Technical Practice.

2. Building with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) : Strength and Energy Efficiency Through Structural Panel Construction.

3. The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times.

4. Gorgon: The Monsters That Ruled the Planet Before Dinosaurs and How They Died in the Greatest Catastrophe in Earth's History

5. The Late Devonian Mass Extinction

I am a little hesitant about Gorgon. I bought a book for a friend in NM by him called Future Evolution. I was completely underwhelmed by the book - the first negative review there is pretty damned accurate - but Gorgon was cheap and it'd round out the read for the Permian Extinction. The Devonian book would be great to back up the Hallam and Wignall work for the post on the Devonian. Truthfully I wish I had more on the other extinctions, but the Permian going to be a very researched on at least. ;) I'll start to need to collect books on the KT next. :D

Eocene Earth? Or Oligocene?

As Earth warms, melting glaciers and polar ice release more water. Thus, a wetter world for everyone, right?

That will depend, climate scientists say, on the complexities of rising temperatures and the hydrologic cycle, water's circular journey between liquid and vapor.

If warming continues at its present pace, stand by for more and higher water along the coasts as the oceans rise. But elsewhere in the country, precipitation will be key — and unpredictable.

Generally, climate researchers expect more precipitation in the USA by the middle of the 21st century. But with higher temperatures, more may fall as rain than as snow. Greater warmth would cause it to evaporate faster, too. Precipitation also may arrive heavier and harder, in more severe storms and intense hurricanes.

"Precipitation is going every which way," says Steve Running, a University of Montana forest ecologist and warming specialist. "We know it's already getting warmer and will continue to, but we can't actually answer whether it's going to get wetter or drier."

Here in the semi-arid West, bet on dry.

From here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Train Celebrities or It's BEAUTIFUL!

I promised to tell more about the trip. We had quite a few people that extremely colorful and interesting that we met up on this trip. Tom and I left Simferopol for Kiev on June 4th. We had originally thought that we were going to be flying the morning on June 6th and the train is an overnight one. It would have been far too tight of a squeeze time wise for us to try to all but fly from the the train station to Borispol. In some ways this was completely correct: if we had been flying at 9:30 AM like we thought, we'd have been hard pressed to make it - the trains out of Crimea had a 'traffic jam' because of a breakdown. However, we were wrong. Our flight was at 15:45 (3:45 PM) on the 6th and we had mixed up the times with the flight from London to Kiev, from earlier, rather than the flights from Kiev back to London for time. Oops!

We said our goodbyes to my in-laws and my family - which was very painful for me prior to this trip, three days was the longest in two years since I'd been parted from my wife or my daughter since she was born. Tom went out to say his goodbyes and snap some pictures, but I made him finish quickly so I could say goodbye to my family and in-laws. My wife's mother was extremely verbose in her goodbyes and wanted to impress upon me how much she approved of Lyuda and I's relationship. She also wanted to tell me how appreciative she was for taking her to Crimea: she'd lived all her life in Ukraine, but never once been able to go. For an American, that's mildly shocking. It isn't that far. There are ways of making a dollar, or hryvna, stretch to no end in Ukraine, at least until recently. Post on that another time. But for those that were considered 'middle class' for Ukrainians, or were, this was simply too expensive since independance and she had kids, two fiesty young girls, prior. It was a rather depressing and ego puffing moment at the same time. Very Ukrainian for that matter.

As were getting set to make our final goodbyes, neither Tom nor I would realize that we were about to end up minor celebrities on that car. Oh, we didn't have people being the Ukrainian equivalent of poparazzi, but we did have a number of people dropping by or giving us a lot of attention. The ones of note are the Brothers Drink, the Train Lady, and the New Russian.

So while Tom was waiting on the train and I was having the compacted emotional rollercoaster ride, our carmates showed up. In 'first class' on a Ukrainian trains there are four bunks for sleeping. The rooms are damned small and I have to bend my legs a bit to sleep. The air conditioning only works...sorta...kinda...not really...but that it has airconditioning at all is a miracle compared to prior trips even if its patheticness is exhibited only while the train is in motion: it shuts down when the train is stopped...which can be for over an hour at some stops. Lux class (aka deluxe), which we'd ridden from Kiev to Gorlovka on, has two bunks per room and the airconditioning actually works. Second class is pretty grungy, but not that different from 'First Class'. Third scary. It's a huge car, no doors or whatnot, with everyone in bunks everywhere. I'd not be able to sleep, truthfully...

Anways, as I was saying, these two guys in the picture are the two characters that we shared our - that is Tom and mine - train sleeper car from Simferopol to Kiev with. They were fun. They were overawed with the prospect of sharing their room with a pair of Yanqi. Their eyes about popped out of their skulls when they found out. They bubbled with questions and comments that they filtered through their bad English, our wretched Russian, and a little translator software on a PDA.

Their names, anglicized and cut down for brevity, were Alex and Mike, from left to right. Alex is 25. Mike is 20. They are from Shotska in north central Ukraine. They are construction workers, truthfully not much more than day laborers, and work on anything they can. They were building a house in Crimea for four months and were headed back to visit their families before going off on another job. The pay, they said, was horrible, but they both had very poor educations and had left prior to high school. Mike is married. His wife kept calling on the cell, but its really understandable even if she did keep ripping him from one end to the other - and you could see how miserable he was from each time she called and was angry - because she was pregnant and he wasn't there. The miracle of pregnancy, I've said repeatedly based on Lyuda's experiences, is just surviving it. Mike is a brave, brave man, perhaps braver than I, for venturing out to scratch out a living like he is and having the rollercoaster of a pregnant wife at the same time.

Anyways, back on track here. Alex was jovial. Mike was high strung. If anything, Mike reminded me of my brother with his intensity and what seemed to be suppressed anger, prior to my bro's tour with the 2nd ACR in Iraq (the italicized part). We tried hard to crack jokes about anything: Bush, Yushenko, Timoschenko, Yanukovich kooshite people was one I made. They laughed pretty hard from that: kooshite is a very badly transliterated Russian word for 'to eat'. We showed them some techno toys and talked about as much as we could. The bandwidth was horrid and it often took us 15 minutes to find a single word becauser their Russian spelling abilities were as bad as ours. We communicated four about four hours straight and had a wonderful time.

One spector raised its ugly head during that time. We sat down to eat and they had their cheap piroshki and we had some very nice sausage and cheese. We shared. We had a lot. My wife takes care of me in oh-so-many ways. We drank water...they drank vodka. and beer. three bottles, iirc. Not the whimpy sized ones from the states. These beer bottles were at least two litres each. My liver cried out in pain just watching them. When we inquired, they let us know that they do this all the time. It sprang up the catch phrase that Alex used from then on: Vodka BEAUTIFUL! Anything he really liked was an exuberant BEAUTIFUL. It was merely depressing. The rate these guys were consuming alcohol was going to kill them. Sooner than rather than later. The next morning as we pulled into Kiev at breakfast time they were cracking open more beers. They had a handover and wanted something to stop it. *sighs*

Of course, being the generous Slavs they were, they launched an all out attack to get us to drink too. I don't partake. At all. They put some damned heavy pressure on us to do so. I cut, thrust and parried with all the arguments that I'd accumulated since 13 with the exception of one: that stuff tastes like shit, folks! How can ya stand it? They understood some about the alcoholics in my family. Something clicked when they looked at me and frowned a heavy frown with some sort of dawning realization and asked if I was a sportsman, their word, auf english. I jumped on that and agreed that I had competed in high school on the swim team. The BEAUTIFUL thing about it was they backed off for me immediately, but they thought I still was an athlete. Ah, the lack of 'to be' in Russian just plain rocks sometimes.

Tom didn't fair so well. Tom's older than I, but these guys wore him down. They eventually got him to quaff three shots of vodka...over the space of several hours. Tom's comment about the vodka was that it was 'gut rot'. He is a rather big guy, despite the both of us losing so much weight from the hard work and Lyuda's "death marches" going from place to place in the hot Crimean sun. The vodka hardly phased him, but he gulped water just be sure.

Eventually, the alcohol took down the brothers they crashed and slept. However, not before several more protestations of BEAUTIFUL and comments about this and that. The other problem the brothers had was they smoked. Like a chimney. Fortunately, they were respectful and did it out where everyone else does between the cars. The Train Lady might have been why.

She was a tall, no nonsense broad. Like 99% of all Ukrainian women, she was in heels despite being in uniform and on her feet all day making sure the train was clean, people got sheets and pillows, people played nice, and took care of whatever problems she could. She stuck her neck out - a lot! - to make sure that Tom and I were doing well. She kept after the Brothers Drink to behave and not mess with the Americans. Alex and Mike were more annoyed wither her than anything, but she made damned sure that they were respectful. Tom and I finally had to try to tell her to lay off the poor sozzled brothers. She was surprised, but not offended. She took on several rather big or tall passengers when they got uppity during the breakdown and found an english speaking Ukrainian when I wanted to ask for some help with what was going on with the train. She was polite, friendly, and above all else, professional!

To those of us in the West, that might be a given. We take it for granted that the pros are almost always going to treat their customers with respect. In Ukraine, this is a new thing. I had ridden the trains numerous times there. I encountered a pro only once before and it was a woman that was obviously something of an idealist trying to hold back the tide on her train car. I wish I'd been astute at the time to talk to that woman back three years ago. She was such an aberation at the time Lena and Lyuda had remarked on it to no end on that train ride.

Ukrainians, at least according to my wife, and watching them, treat each other rather badly and rudely when they are not friends. Lyuda didn't used to see it. One guy at the Magarach Winery that had been to the States, specifically to Napa and Sonoma here in the Bay area that we talked to when visiting three years ago told us the contrast in the States to Ukraine. He was a top vinter there in that winery and he loved the friendliness of Americans (at least our friendliness contrasted to Ukrainians). The thing was that the Train Lady was this way, professional and friendly and caring about those in her charge, not just with us Yanqi, but with all her passengers. There's a cultural shift happening there because we saw this multiple times before and after with the train personnel, but it really struck home with the Train Lady.

Based on a conversation with a train exec - for another post - Tom and I wondered if the train company had decided that it was going to try to influence people and the culture by setting an example. Almost all Ukrainians need the trains to get around Ukraine, so all of them are going to be exposed to the people there. If they're all friendly and professional, might it not leak out? Well, that was the speculation. Damfino if its true. Either way, my hat's off to the Train Lady and her pushing back the darkness. Whether its official policy or not.

The Brothers BEAUTIFUL had that other nasty habit: smoking up a storm. Between the drinking and the smoking, I can see why Ukrainian men have such a low life expectancy: 60 yo +/-. Mile had crashed for the night and was gently snoring in his top bunk, but Alex, around 8:30 PM/20:30 went out to smoke one last time. He was sodding sozzled to the gills by then, his light frame couldn't even open the room door without help. What he brought back with him wasn't so pleasant as he or his brother. He returned with a stereotypical New Russian. Or rather New Ukrainian since he wasn't really Russian...but the Ukrainians still call them New Russians.

I guess I've picked up my wife's attitudes, and therefore, the Joe Ukrainian attitudes with respect to New Russians. Everytime I've met one they've some way. This new guy was a slight, short dark haired guy from Kiev. Immaculately dressed, had he been an American either he'd be a metrosexual or outright gay (not a knock-on gays, so chill, many dress uberwell). He came in very polite and seemingly friendly enough. He stated that he wanted to work on his English, but apologized if he screwed up since his private translator was not on the train with him. At first, I'd hoped to break through the stereotype and meet a real person rising in the nouveau rich. He chatted us up with the standard small talk and when he found out we were computer people - HPC really - he ran off to get his laptop. His legit business was that of an online store front. The sort that are reminiscent of Craig's List, but far lesser in quality. That's okay though. His business seemed to be growing and the quality would improve...if that was his real business. Alex had crashed a while ago bored with the technogeeking and drunk. He had only wanted to know about what Americans drink (*sighs*) alcoholwise and I professed that I was not the man to ask. I told him about wines - that my wife does drink some - the New Russian thought it was interesting...or at least fained interest. Alex had been disgusted. Wines?! Pha!

After a while, and talking some, he started showing off the picture uploads section of his website. It really was something not unlike craigslist, but with some different flavours. The pictures were very funny at first. Then...less so. Then more risque. We got bored and when we stopped laughing he noticed. That's when he asked if we were going to be in Kiev long. We weren't. We were polite, but something felt off in talking to the guy at this point. The sleeziness we'd felt earlier was coming through in waves. He then asked if we'd like some girls while we were in Kiev. That was his game and probably where he really makes his money: the guy was a pimp.

It made me ill, honestly. He knew I was married. Yet he still was offering me girls. It angered me. A lot. Here I was missing my wife and daughter and this dipshit wanted to give some prostitutes to me. And Tom. Tom had the same stony face I did. His voice was unfriendly at that point as mine. Enough. It was 9:30 PM/21:30 +/-. We all but chased him out of our room. We locked the door, exchanged our disgust with the guy and went to bed. The next morning, he was there, immaculately dressed in a black suit without wrinkles. He wanted to exchange phone numbers, but you could see it was half hearted: he knew we weren't interested.
We rushed off after our train made it to Kiev. We needed a place to crash, neither of us had slept well and Tom was getting sick. We'd been roasted during the night on the train with no window to open, frequent stops, and anemic air conditioning. We did and then spent the remainder of the day and change wanering around Kiev. It was Tom's first time. It might not be his last. heh. heh. heh. ]:)

So we got to meet some of Ukraine without the aide of a translator. We liked their salt of the earth, their new professionals, but ended up despising the New Russian. The salt of the earth types are self destructive though and are prolly not going to make it to 40 if they keep up their lifestyles. The pro was an exciting little twist on Ukraine. The New Russian represented all that I hate about the place. It was fun and educational. It was something that had my extended family come along, I'd not been able to experience.

It was the real, unbuffered Ukraine.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

No KT Event

It's been done a few times. Sometimes rather badly (ok that doesn't count). Sometimes interestingly.

Here's one of the best I have seen.

They have broken HTML scattered throughout though and looking at the "What's New" section shows that it looks like it hasn't been worked on in a while.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Will's Library

So I spent most of today moving my bookshelves, desks, and tables. I am feeling sick, but not too bad and I had wanted to do this to make more room. In the process, I thought 'oh, why not catalog what books you have?' it seemed like a good idea at the time. That started about 4 hours ago. I have less than I thought, but I'll remedy this at some point...;) I have more computer books at work that are mine and some humor ones as well (Dilbert). Otehrwise, I think I got most of them...

I am a little disturbed about what names kept cropping up and a number of books I would have to say are from previous times' tastes, but that's life...

There's a lot more SF in there than I remebered and very little science, which is distressing. Ah well. Enjoy! If you care...


Adirondack Style - O'Leary & Hall
Antonio Gaudi - Nonell & Levick
Art Nouveau - Fitzgerald
Art Nouveau - Tahara
Building Construction Illustrated - Ching and Adams
The Buildings of Byzantium - Leacroft
Byzantine Architecture - Mango
The Complete Guide to Contracting Your Own Home - McGuerty & Lester
Construction of Drilled Pier Foundations - Greer & Gardner
Drilled Piers & Cassions II - Baker
Drilled Pier Foundations - Woodward, Greer & Gardner
Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture - Krautheimer
Everything You Need to Know About Building the Custom Home - Folds & Hoopes
The Grammar of Architecture - Cole
How to Subcontract and Build Your Dream House - Jaeger
Measuring, Marking & Layout - Carroll
Moscow Art Nouveau - Murrell
Remodeling with Tile
Step by Step Masonry & Concrete
Tips & Traps When Building Your Own Home - Irwin
Working with COncrete - Arnold


100 Banned Books - Karolides, Bald, and Sova
1688 A Global History - Norton
Afganistan - Tanner
Anasazi America - Stuart
Argentina - Rock
Art of War - Sun Tzu
The Art of War - Machiavelli
The Art of War in the Western World - Jones
Augustus - Holland
The Balkans since 1453 - Stavrianos
Band of Brothers - Ambrose
Battles of the GReek and Roman Worlds - Montagu
Black Sea - Ascherson
Blackhawk Down - Bowden
The Book of War - Keegan
Borderland - Reid
The Brazilians - Page
Byzantine Philosophy and its Ancient Sources - Ierodiakonou
The Chinese - Becker
Chronicles of the Roman Emperors - Scarre
Cicero - Everitt
Collapse - Diamond
A Concise History of the Middle East - Goldschmidt
The Complete Roman Army - Goldsworthy
Conquest - Thomas
The Conquest of Gaul - Caesar
The Dragon in the Land of Snows - Shakya
Empire - Kamen
Europe - Davies
The Face of Battle - Keegan
The First World War - Keegan
Gemistos Plethon - Woodhouse
The German Army 1933-1945 - Cooper
The German Empire - Sturmer
The Guns of August - Tuchman
Guns, Germs, and Steel - Diamond
Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome - Adkins & Adkins
The Histories - Herodotus
A History of Burma - Phayre
A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages - Oman
A History of Knowledge - Van Doren
A History of Modern Indonesia since c. 1200 - Ricklefs
A History of Warfare - Keegan
India - Keay
Japan - Sansom
The Jewish War - Josephus
Kiev - Hamm
Lanchester Models of Warfare - Taylor
The Little Ice Age - Fagan
Lords of the Horizons - Goodwin
Martime Supremacy and the Opening of the Western Mind - Padfield
The Mask of Command - Keegan
Maurice's Stategikon - Dennis (trans)
Mexico From the Olmecs to the Aztecs - Coe & Koontz
Modern Europe - Blanning
Native America - Portrait of the Peoples
A New History of Korea - Lee
Niccolo's Smile - Viroli
The Olmecs - Diehl
On War - von Clausewitz
Panzer Battles - von Mellenthin
Panzer Commander - von Luck
Panzer Leader - Guderian
Patriots - Langguth
The Portable Machiavelli - Bondanella & Musa (trans)
Raj - James
The Renaissance at War - Arnold
The Rise and Fall of the British Empire - James
Roman Britian - Scullard
The Roman Way - Hamilton
The Roman World
Russia - Freeze
Russia's War - Overy
The Search for Modern China - Spence
The Second World War - Keegan
A Short History of Byzantium - Norwich
Slave Trade - Thomas
Soldat - Knappe
Soldiers at War - Lewis
Taliban - Rashid
Thailand A Short History - Wyatt
Theodora - Bridge
TR The Last Romantic - Brands
Ukraine - Subtelny
The Universal History of Numbers - Ifrah
War as I Knew It - Patton
The Wars of the Irish Kings - McCullough
Why the Allies Won - Overy
The World of 1800 - Bernier

Sci Fi:

1632 - Flint
1945 - Gringrich & Forstchen
1984 - Orwell
3001 - Clarke
Across the Sea of Suns - Benford
The Adversary - May
After Man - Dixon
Aftershocks - Turtledove
Against the Tide of Years - Stirling
The Alien Years - Silverberg
Alternate Generals - Turtledove
American Gods - Gaiman
Armor - Steakley
Ascending - Gardner
At Winter's End - Silverberg
Belarus - Hogan
Beowolf's Children - Barnes, Niven, & Pournelle
Between the Rivers - Turtledove
Beyond the Fall of Night - Clarke & Benford
Birds of Prey - Drake
Black Sun Rising - Friedman
Blood Feuds - Pournelle et al
Blood Music - Bear
Blood Vengance - Pournelle et al
Brave New World - Huxley
Brightness Reef - Brin
Burning City - Niven & Pournelle
Centauri Dreams - Gilster
Children of the Mind - Card
Chosen - Drake & Stirling
The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke - Clarke
The Collected Stories of Greg Bear - Bear
The Compleat Bolo - Laumer
Cross Roads of Twilight - Jordan
Crown of Shadows - Friedman
A Crown of Swords - Jordan
The Dark Lord - Harlan
Darwin's Radio - Bear
A Day for Damnation - Gerrold
Destiny's Road - Niven
The Devil's Day - Blish
The Diamond Age - Stephenson
The Domination - Stirling
Down in the Bottomlands - Turledove
Down to Earth - Turtledove
The Dragon Reborn - Jordan
Drakas - Stirling
Drakon - Stirling
Dune - Herbert
Eagle Against the Stars - White
The Earth Abides - Stewart
Easters of the Dead - Crichton
Ender's Game - Card
Evolution - Baxter
Expendable - Gardner
Expedition - Barlowe
The Eye of the World - Jordan
Fahrenheit 451 - Bradbury
Falkenberg's Legion - Pournelle
The False Mirror - Foster
The Far Shore of Time - Pohl
The Fellowship of the Ring - Tolkien
Fire Time - Anderson
Footfall - Niven & Pournelle
Forever Free - Haldeman
Forever Peace - Haldeman
Forever War - Haldeman
Fortune's Stroke - Flint & Drake
Foundation - Asimov
Foundation and Empire - Asimov
Foundation's Edge - Asmiov
Furious Gulf - Benford
The Future is Wild - Dixon & Adams
Future War - Dann & Dozois
The Gate of Fire - Harlan
Genesis - Anderson
Glory Season - Brin
Go Tell the Spartans - Pournelle & Stirling
The Golden Torc - May
The Great Hunt - Jordan
Great Sky River - Benford
The Gripping Hand - Niven & Pournelle
Grunts - Gentle
Gust Front - Ringo
Heaven's Reach - Brin
Hegira - Bear
Helliconia Spring - Aldiss
Helliconia Summer - Aldiss
Helliconia Winter - Aldiss
Hoka! Hoka! Hoka! Anderson & Dickson
Homeward Bound - Turtledove
Houshold Gods - Tarr & Turtledove
I, Robot - Asimov
Imperial Stars I - Pournelle
In the Balance - Turledove
In Conquest Born - Friedman
In the Heart of Darkness - Flint & Drake
In the Ocean of the Night - Benford
The Integral Trees - Niven
Infinity's Shore - Brin
Into the Darkness - Turtledove
Iron Sunrise - Stross
Island in the Sea of Time - Stirling
Jem - Pohl
Job - Heinlein
King David's Spaceship
The King's Name - Walton
The King's Peace - Walton
The Legacy of Herot - Barnes, Niven & Pournelle
Lest Darkness Fall - de Camp
The Long Afternoon of Earth - Aldiss
Lord of Chaos - Jordan
Madness Season - Friedman
Man After Man - Dixon
The Many-Colored Land - May
The Martian Chronicles - Bradbury
A Matter for Men - Gerrold
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Heinlein
The Mote in God's Eye - Niven & Pournelle
Murasaki - Silverberg
N Space - Niven
Nemesis - Asimov
The New Dinosaurs - Dixon
The New Springtime - Silverberg
Nightfall - Asimov & Silverberg
The Nonborn King - May
An Oblique Approach - Drake & Flint
On the Ocean's of Eternity - Stirling
Otherness - Brin
Path of Daggers - Jordan
The Peshawar Lancers - Stirling
Playgrounsd of the Mind - Niven
The Postman - Brin
Prince of Mercenaries - Pournelle
Prince of Sparta - Pournelle & Stirling
The Puppet Masters - Heinlein
A Rage for Revenge - Gerrold
Rainbow Mars - Niven
The Reformer - Stirling & Drake
To Reign in Hell - Brust
The Return of the King - Tolkien
Revolt on War World - Pournelle
Ring - Baxter
Ringworld - Niven
The Ringworld Engineers - Niven
The Ringworld Throne - Niven
The River ot Time - Brin
Roma Eterna - Silverberg
Ruled Briannia - Turtledove
Sailing Bright Eternity - Benford
Scatterbrain - Niven
The Science of Aliens - Pickover
A Season for Slaughter - Gerrold
A Second Chance at Eden - Hamilton
Second Contact - Turtledove
Second Foundation - Asimov
Shadow Fires - Koontz
The Shadow of Ararat - Harlan
The Siege of Eternity - Pohl
The Silmarillion - Tolkien
Singularity Sky - Stross
Sixth Column - Heinlein
The Smoke Ring - Niven
Snow Crash - Stephenson
The Spoils of War - Foster
Starfarers - Anderson
Starship Troopers - Heinlein
Startide Rising - Brin
The Stone Dogs - Stirling
The Storm of Heaven - Harlan
Striking the Balance - Turtledove
Sundiver - Brin
The Strength of Stones - Bear
The Survival Game - Kapp
Thessalonica - Turtledove
This Alien Shore - Friedman
Through the Darkness - Turtledove
Tide of Victory - Flint & Drake
Tides of Light - Benford
Tilting the Balance - Turtledove
Timeline - Crichton
Tunnel in the Sky - Heinlein
The Two Towers - Tolkien
Under the Yoke - Stirling
The Uplift War - Brin
Upsetting the Balance - Turtledove
The Voice of the Night - Koontz
War World II: Death's Head Rebellion - Pournelle
War World III: Sauron Dominion - Pournelle
War World IV: Invasion - Pournelle
When True Night Falls - Friedman
The Wilding - Friedman
World Building - Gillet
A World of Difference - Turtledove
A World Out of Time - Niven
The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time - Jordan & Patterson

General Fiction:

Animal Farm - Orwell
The Bear and the Dragon - Clancy
Bright Star - Coyle
Debt of Honor - Clancy
Executive Orders - Clancy
The Hunt for Red October
Julius Caesar - Shakespeare
Lord of the Flies - Golding
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Shakespeare
Practical Demon Keeping - Moore
Rainbow Six - Clancy
Red Storm Rising - Clancy
Romeo and Juliet - Shakespeare
Sword Point - Coyle
Team Yankee - Coyle


The Age of Birds - Feduccia
Atlas of the Prehistoric World
Extinct Humans - Tatersall & Schwartz
Extinction - Erwin
Fossils of the Burgess Shale - Briggs, Eriwn, & Collier
Gaining Ground - Clack
Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes - Gould
King of the Crocodylians - Schwimmer
The Panda's Thumb - Gould
Pterosaurs From Deep Time - Unwin
Sea Dragons - Ellis
Terrestrial Ecosystems Through TIme - Behrenmeyer et al
Snowball Earth - Walker
When Life Nearly Died - Benton
Wonderful Life - Gould

China's Space Program - Harvey
Cycles of Fire - Miller & Hartmann
The Grand Tour - Miller & Hartmann
Here Be Dragons - Koerner & LeVay
Leo on the Cheap - London
Rocket Propulsion Elemts - Sutton & Biblarz
Starsailing - Friedman

Phytoremediation - McCutchens & Schooner

The Hot Zone - Preston

Computer Related:

AI for Game Developers - Bourg & Seeman


2015: Power and Progress - Cronin
About Face - Hackworth
Demon Haunted World - Sagan
Germs - Miller, Engleberg, & Broad
The Great Republic - CHurchill
The Pentagon's New Map - Barnett
SDI: A View from Europe - Hughes
Siberian Curse - Hill & Gaddy
Stiffed - Faludi


One Last Peek - Breathed


A Dictionary of Angels - Davidson
The Mother of All Baby Name Books - Lansky
Myths of Greece and Rome - Bulfinch