Thursday, August 31, 2006

Avrora Picts

Woe Unto the American Space Program

NASA on Thursday gave a multibillion dollar contract to build a manned lunar spaceship to Lockheed Martin Corp., the aerospace leader that usually builds unmanned rockets.

The nation's space agency plans to use the Orion crew exploration vehicle to replace the space shuttle fleet, take astronauts to the moon and perhaps to Mars. Reusable and like Apollo and earlier spacecraft, it is perched atop the rocket. NASA estimated the cost at $7.5 billion through 2019.

The last time NASA awarded a manned spaceship contract to Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Md., was in 1996 for a spaceplane that was supposed to replace the space shuttle. NASA spent $912 million and the ship, called X-33, never got built because of technical problems.

Woe unto our space exploration, woe, woe woe...

[Emphasis added of course]

Just Found: Auroraceratops

There's a nice artist's rendition also. Before you jump to the conclusion that I named my daughter after my favourite kind of dinosaurs, this one was described in 2005. Lyuda and I selected Avrora's name in late 2004. So nyah!

Reading Update

I finished reading The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times. It wasn't a bad book, but a bit unsatisifying. I wasn't expecting a lot of expose on individuals that were actually out hunting fossils in the Ancient Era, after all they were notoriously disinterested if you followed this book's comments about what other historians have said. It just seemed that this book didn't do very much...research or something.

That's not really fair. Ms Mayor did dig around a lot for various bits of information and interviewed some noted experts - Peter Dodson and Jack Horner, frex - but she didn't completely connect the dots or so it felt to me. Her best effort was that of the legends with respect to the Griffin and the ceratopsian fossils. The second best was talking about the giants and such. It was just...unsatisifying. I had originally thought of picking up her other work about the fossil legends associated with Native Americans, but I think not now.

I am going back through my books on the Permian Extinction right now to do a post here about that subject. I am revisiting Erwin's, Hallam's, Hallam and Wignall's, Benton's, and Ward's books. I am going to be picking up titles for more reading and doing with respect to the house. Some of those are pretty spendy and I haven't decided on what and which for them.

Picts Delayed

They'll be up later tonight.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Weird Stuff on Earth

A team of scientists based in Japan and Germany has found an unusual "lake" of liquid carbon dioxide beneath the ocean floor.

On Earth's surface carbon dioxide (CO2) is normally a gas, but in the cold, high-pressure ocean depths it cools and becomes a liquid.


Inagaki's team found the lake while studying hydrothermal vents—undersea volcanic hot spots—in the East China Sea off the coast of Taiwan.

The lake's presence was unexpected, because the seamount lies only 4,600 feet (1400 meters) below sea level. At that depth, liquid CO2 is lighter than water and will slowly rise, eventually bubbling into the air as gas.

Normally liquid CO2 has to be at a depth of 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) for it to be dense enough not to rise.

In this case, Inagaki's team says, CO2 has been moving upward from a deep magma chamber.

As it nears the seabed, the CO2 encounters cold water in the top layer of sediment. It reacts with this water to form a type of ice called a carbon dioxide hydrate.

The hydrate creates a cap in the sediment that traps additional liquid CO2 beneath it.

Antarctica's Own Scablands

A 30-mile maze canyons in Antarctica was carved out of bedrock by the catastrophic draining of subglacial lakes during global warming between 12 million and 14 million years ago, according to university researchers who warn a similar event today could have serious environmental consequences.

I wonder how many of these would be created in the future? Something to think about for Great Vision. Very important actually for that book idea.

Update: These are the Scablands, if you didn't know.

She's passed out

Poor kidda has been sleeping for a little while now. She's extremely tired. We've run up and down to and from the machine room a few times now and gone looking for people around the office. I am trying to get work done, but it's not so easy with an 18 month old tagging along. She's been very good, but like all kids, wants attention or has to have an eye kept on her. If I looked away for a second, she'd find something to get her hands on or get into. The machine room has a lot of construction taking place because of our new toy from Cray. That makes it doubly hazardous...even if she thinks it makes it look very interesting and fun to get into. She gets a very short leash called being held there!

Avrora's at work with me today

She's having far too much fun destroying my office. She was delighted that she saw pictures of herself and her mommy. She's cute-cannoning everyone in sight and be a little cute wonder. Right now she is sitting in my lap as I type this.

The reason that she's here instead of at daycare is because she can't go because she still has a runny nose. They won't let her come with that. GOOD! Our friends' daycare - the one we decided not to send Avrora to - doesn't care if the kids come sick or not. However, since I can't miss any more work and Lyuda can't miss class, that means La Kidda comes with me.

I won't be able to work on the computer room floor much today, but not too many complaints here about that. It's cold down there!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Brazil Gets Another Sauropod

It is interesting to note that the sauropods after going largely extinct in the northern continent(s) continued to be the predominant herbivores in the southern continent(s) in the Cretaceous.

China's Newest Uber Sized DIno

Chinese paleontologists said they had found the remains of the largest dinosaur ever to be unearthed in Asia, measuring an estimated 35 meters (116 feet).


"We have so far only excavated the neck of the dinosaur, but extrapolating from it, we can determine it to be 35 meters long," Xu said.

They don't say what the period was that it was from as yet. Too bad. Probably Jurassic.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Chinese Acid Rain

In the same parliamentary report, Sheng also lifted the lid on false reporting of solid waste discharge levels by local governments and companies.

Actual levels of toxic chromium waste in China could be as high as five million tons instead of the 4.1 million reflected in official figures, Xinhua cited the report as saying.

"Many firms report a lower figure for chromium waste for fear of being punished," Sheng said.

One locality had originally reported that it had 3,000 tons of chromium waste but raised the figure to 100,000 tons after learning the government would build reprocessing facilities for them instead of fining them, he said.

Emphasis added. The Soviets can talk about fearing reporting the truth. Their issue was their economy. Makes you wonder if this environmental problem will be the equivalent for the Chinese, no?

Climate Change or Overkill?

The end of the Ice Age brought about a lot of extinctions among the large mammals. The different species of oversized hairy things dropped from all over the globe. The two places that were hardest hit were the continents of North America and Australia. These places lost the largest percentage wise number of large mammals. Some of the more famous are the various species of mammoth (woolly especially remebered), several species of horses, rhinoceros, giant slothes, sabre toothed tigers, and much more for North America. For Australia wombats the size of rhinos and kangaroos that could look giraffes in the eyes - or near enough - dropped off the shield of that continent. South America lost some. Asia and Europe lost less. Africa lost least of all. There are two competing theories about that. The first and predominant is that the climate changed so drastically that none of those animals could adapt to the changes. They died out. End of story. The second theory is that the arrival of man or a technolithic toolkit was the cause. There are pro's and cons to either theory. Neither one is pretty solid, honestly.

The human overkill hypothesis has some strong data in favor of in in the historical record. The ravages that mankind has done to various places as they've shown up has been pretty drastic. Let's take the example of the Maori and what they'd done to the avian fauna of New Zealand. The most famous of those is, of course, the Moa. There is also the arrival of mankind on Madagascar too. The giant lemurs and giant birds went poof too. It's not hard to believe that mankind's arrival in North America could cause those extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene there too. Here's the rub. Mankind didn't arrive in NorAm at exactly the right time for that to happen as originally was thought: some very good evidence predates the previous times that they thought people came to North America. That puts a small damper on things, unless you believe it took a technological breakthrough for that to happen. Like, oh say, those damn Clovis people. Not you, Jeromy, if you actually bother to read this. The timing of arrival in Australia is spot on though for the extinctions. I chose the Maori and Madascarans for the reason that they are not Western societies because some people have this view that it is only the West - or its influence - that is environmentally destructive. Yes, it can be. However, as I've quoted before from Hallam's works:
The sombre picture outlined above should dispel once and for all the romantic idea of the superior ecological wisdom of nonWestern and pre-colonial societies. The notion of the noble savage living in harmony with Nature should be despatched to the realm of mythology where it belongs. Human beings have never lived in harmony with nature.
I think that you can see that I am disposed to this hypothesis. Pielou's work states there are issues here, to be sure.

Recently, there has been a lot of different works from the environmental/climate theory camp. They have made me doubt just a tad my previous leanings, but not completely shaken me from it. Most recently there was a study on what killed off the megafauna of Australia. There was also a study on what killed off the mammoths in NorAm. It's not persuasive, but suggestive. After all, massive climate change, lots of dead animals that can't adapt. ok. Makes sense.

However, waitaminute! Why are there a lot more dead animals elsewhere? Well, there are some. However, the extinctions in Asia and Europe were less. In Africa much less. The Overkill Hyopthesis suggests that is because those areas had more humans for longer and animals had a chance to adapt (Africa being the longest and 'suffered' the least). Pielou points out that the problem with the climate change theory is that there are lots of very species specific explanations, but nothing blanket covering. However on the other hand, he also states that the climate of ice ages was radically different than even that of spots on earth that have glaciers now. It doesn't have much of a parallel with the modern world climate wise, so it could be the change really was really big. yet...

Why did the giant bison go extinct and not the smaller ones? Or why did the mammoths get wiped out? There are several possibilities and permutations on this question. However, the climate change theory is the reigning one among paleontologists, so don't be fooled by my skepticism. I Am Not A Paleontologist. I am just enjoying reading about it and have since I was a young boy. I'm also a part-time blogger that likes to talk about the things that he likes to read, so go read about it too. ;)

Times That Try Parents' Souls

My daughter is getting much better. Her fever, that nasty thing that had been hovering like a helicopter between 101 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit for the past five days finally broke yesterday. It's quite a relief. There's very little in this word that cuts you deep like when this little person who loves and adores you and thinkgs you can fix or right anything cries and pleads for help feverishly - in this case literally - and there is not one damned thing you can do.

Oh, you can lower the fever. Yet that just prolongs the agony because the body needs that to wipe out that nasty virus that is infecting her perfect little self. You can search desperately for foods that she will eat. When she is sick, you're SOL as far as her appetite. Foods she normally loves are painful to eat - that sore throat from the drippage of her overwhelmed normally cute and now uber slimy nose makes it rather difficult. Even if you find SOMETHING she will eat, it's nothing in the total amount of vitamins, calories, minerals or other necessities to keep her going. You can see she's losing weight. In fact, she lost two pounds. In five days. We did find that she would eat ice cream and, even though you could see that it hurt her, popcorn. She also ate a little bit of chicken. She wouldn't touch almost anything else. She wanted milk, but we couldn't give it to her. She had diarhea too. *sighs*

What's worse is that under stress and sickness, her personality changed. A lot. She went from our delightfully outgoing, playful, cute, and curious little girl to someone that was unhappy, lethargic, and obviously in pain. Nothing interested her. Nothing could catch her attention. Well, almost nothing. Nemo did. We turned on _Find Nemo_ out of desperation for something that would interest her more than just screaming or crying or being fussy. Playing with her didn't help, just being held and even that only lasted a little while. A little fish, a little snuggling, and a lot of love did help though. Now we have to endure "NEMONEMONEMONEMO!!!!" A smaller price, a much smaller one.

At any rate, she's better though. Still congested, but no fever. My little girl's personality is back and then some. We went back to the Dr's yesterday after such a prolonged fever. They gave us an antibiotic. She's better.

We're happier.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I was slowly working on a post all day about the end of Ice Age extinctions and browser crashed and blogger didn't keep a backup copy like it normally does.


Later, maybe. My daughter is awfully sick. Her fever is down to about 100 from 103.

However, she was vomitting and coughing this morning. The doctors were not any help: "It's a virus...blahblahblah"

It's not an answer, if truthful, that any parent wants to hear.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Rapid Transition from Perennial to Seasonal Arctice Sea Ice

I recieved the following email:

Dear Colleagues,

We hope you will consider attending a special session of the AGU fall meeting titled "Rapid Transition From Perennial to Seasonal Arctic Sea Ice". Our goal for the session is to bring together a diverse group of researchers to examine the recent decline in summertime Arctic sea ice. We are interested in looking at rapid summer sea ice decline in the recent observational record, the paleoclimate record, and global warming simulations. We also wish to consider the ecological and societal implications of rapid summer sea ice decline. The session will include invited presentations by four prominent researchers:

Clara Deser (NCAR) - recent Arctic sea ice decline

Anne deVernal (U. Quebec Montreal) - Arctic sea ice in past climates

Harry Stern (Polar Science Center) - 'Tipping points' in Arctic sea ice

Steven Amstrup (USGS Alaska) - sea ice decline and Polar bears

The full session abstract is included below, and we would be happy to answer any questions about it (inquiries to Please note that the deadline for AGU abstracts is September 7, 23:59UT.

We hope you will share this information with any interested colleagues.

Best Wishes,

Eric DeWeaver and Cecilia Bitz
(Session Conveners)
AGU special session C17:

Rapid Transition From Perennial to Seasonal Arctic Sea Ice


In recent times more than half the Arctic ocean has been covered year-round by sea ice, but the Arctic is now moving rapidly toward ice-free summers. In rough agreement with observations, some - but not all - climate models predict that the transition from perennial to seasonal sea ice will occur over the entire Arctic in this century. There is also speculation that abrupt sea ice transitions played an essential role in the rapid climate changes recorded in the Greenland ice cores. Beyond its climatic impact, a rapid change from perennial to seasonal sea ice will have dramatic societal and ecological effects, and the severity of these effects will depend in part of the abruptness of the change.

While the basic feedback mechanisms are known, our understanding of the climate sensitivity of sea ice is relatively primitive. We lack an understanding of the key determinants of the speed with which the transition from perennial to seasonal ice will occur. A better understanding is needed to evaluate the disparate results of climate model simulations, and to assess the extent to which sea ice change in past climates can serve as a meaningful proxy for the present transition.

Thus we invite papers which examine the transition to an ice-free Arctic summer based on theory, models of varying degrees of complexity, and observations from the instrumented record. We also seek papers that investigate rapid transitions in Arctic sea ice in the paleoclimate record and/or comparable sea ice behavior in the Antarctic. In addition, we welcome papers which consider the interannual and decadal variability of sea ice, as well as those addressing the far-field effects of sea ice change. To complement purely scientific studies of the sea ice transition, we further solicit papers on the policy implications of the transition, particularly those which focus on the implications of a rapid or abrupt transition.

Sponsor: Cryosphere
CoSponsors: Ocean Sciences
Global Environmental Change

Conveners: Eric DeWeaver
AOS Dept/CCR, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1225 West Dayton St
Madison, WI, USA 53706

Cecilia Bitz
Atmospheric Sciences Dept, University of Washington
408 Atmospheric Sciences Building
University of Washington
Seattle, WA, USA 98195-1640

There are a few of you that read this blog that might be able to participate and would have the interest as well. This came from the Paleoclimate mailing list.

An Interesting World Spun off a Usenet Thread

I have been watching and started writing a response to that above thread a few days ago. I've been busy so my usenet participation is a little circumscribed at the moment. That said, I was able to get my response out the door.

It makes for an interesting world, if you think about it. The world itself would be one of 50k years in the future of now. It's an alternate future since Homo sapiens got wiped out in Africa because of the Toba Event. The current interglacial has come and gone. A new glaciation has come and gone as well. The world is in a new interglacial. There are two hominid species. One is derived from the Neandertals (Homo europis) and the Hobbit (Homo asiaticus). The extinction that was experienced at the end of the last glacial event was dampened compared to OTL (no H sapiens to help with the environmental stress). There was a big extinction at the end of future glaciation.

The H europis species have a homeland based on Europe based not that much different than how Africa is for mankind now. They're big. They're burly. They're over 2m high. They were forced to agricutlure after the die off. They're bright and about bronze age tech level. Their range is Europe, north africa, the middle east, north asia, and north america.

The H asiasticus species have a homeland centered on Indonesia. They're small and slight. They're only 1 meter tall and require a lot less consumables to survive than a single europis. They moved to agriculture too and are approximately the same tech level. They have a range from australia, india, east asia, the middle east and africa.

The two species are not very friendly. They're in competition. I can't say which way the world would be tipping after contact. I'd have to think it through. It'd make for a great epic style adventure or tale. Unfortunately, it could also be set as a very ugly toned on as well.

I'm going to shelve it for now. My writing cycles are largely consumed already. Maybe I'll revisit it after Epilium Aurora, Great Vision, The Grinding of Glaciers, and the 2030s SO Project. Yea, if I ever get EA moving at a rate faster than the glacial advance, I have a queue of ideas already.

Two Small Avrora-Lyuda Videos

They're here and here.

No they don't count as this week's picts. No worries.

Just an experiment.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Delicious Irony

Cool your home, warm the planet. When more than two dozen countries undertook in 1989 to fix the ozone hole over Antarctica, they began replacing chloroflourocarbons in refrigerators, air conditioners and hair spray.


The chemicals that replaced CFCs are better for the ozone layer, but do little to help global warming. These chemicals, too, act as a reflective layer in the atmosphere that traps heat like a greenhouse.


Study: Greenland's Glaciers Melting for 100 years

Greenland's glaciers have been shrinking for the past century, according to a Danish study, suggesting that the ice melt is not a recent phenomenon caused by global warming.

Danish researchers from Aarhus University studied glaciers on Disko island, in western Greenland in the Atlantic, from the end of the 19th century until the present day.

"This study, which covers 247 of 350 glaciers on Disko, is the most comprehensive ever conducted on the movements of Greenland's glaciers," glaciologist Jacob Clement Yde, who carried out the study with Niels Tvis Knudsen, told AFP.

Using maps from the 19th century and current satellite observations, the scientists were able to conclude that "70 percent of the glaciers have been shrinking regularly since the end of the 1880s at a rate of around eight meters per year," Yde said.

"We studied 95 percent of the area covered by glaciers in Disko and everything indicates that our results are also valid for the glaciers along the coasts of the rest of Greenland," he said.

The biggest reduction was observed between 1964 and 1985.

"A three-to-four degree increase of the temperature on Greenland from 1920 to 1930, and the increase recorded since 1995 has sped up the ice melt," he said.

The effect of the rising temperatures in the 1920s and 1930s was "visible dozens of years later, and that of the 1990s will be (visible) in 10 or 20 years," Yde said, adding that he expected Greenland's glaciers to melt even faster in the future.

Keep in mind too that the human race has been pumping a lot of C02 into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution at increasing rates.


Head's up! New Peter Ward Book

The individual that brought us the useless Future Evolution and the travelogue pretending to be a book about the extinctions at the end of the Permian, now is bringing us a book on why the dinos took over from the mammal-like reptiles.

He puts forward the idea in Gorgon about the fact that bird's lungs - and dinosaurs - are more efficient than mammalian (or any other tetrapod's) lungs. His hypothesis that he was hinting at was that the reason for the rise of the dinos was that the amount of oxygen at the end of the Permian and in the early Triassic was much less than even now.

If this is as bad as FE, skip it. If it's another travelogue, ago ahead and read it, but with taht in mind. Maybe this time it will be something with some real meat in it like Hallam or Benton or Erwin. Don't worry, I'll probably get ita nd review it here if you want to wait.


My daughter has picked up the strangest habit. I really wish I could explain it. I really wish I could understand what drives her to do this, but she has all but delcared to the world that onions are now her new play toys. These are the big red and yellow onions we store in teh cabinet. She's not interested in potatoes. Or most other things in there. Just the onions.

She rolls them around. She throws them. She shakes her hands at us while holding them and babbles. It sounds like language, but isn't as far as 3we can tell. The weirdest of this though is that she likes to peel them. Red onions. Yellow onions. She peels them both and I can smell how strong they are. Yet, she doesn't seem to tear up or have it bother her. In fact, more than once she's rubbed the skins on her.

So, when you're looking at onions today or tomorrow, think of my little cutie and that she's found some strange way to boggle her parents.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Son of a ...

If I had known this was going to happen I would have moved heaven and earth...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Glacial Cycles and Global Warming

One of the chief statements I have seen that has been coming from disbelievers in Global Warming comes from the fact that science is ever learning. It is still figuring out how things work with respect to climate and over time has made significant progress. However, as things are learned, they are often brought out and trumpeted as the new and all important fact. This is a consequence of the funding models for science these days.

During the 1970s and up through 1980, climatologists discovered one of the elements that enduce effects on the climate. When something has an effect, it's called, in the climate world, 'forcing'. In this case, it was the orbital forcing and the cycles that come about from the fact that the Earth's orbit changes a small amount, in relative terms, over time in a cyclical manner. These are called the Milankovitch Cycles. During the 1970s, this was developed into its current form, more or less.

As a theory, it's not without it's own issues, to be sure. Check the wikipedia entry for more. However, it does seem to have an impact on the climate of the world and does seem to correspond to the observed glacial cycles of the Pleistocene (the last geological epoch) which is the easiest to document due to its recent geological time frame.

However, during the 1970s, recieved press. People heard of it. Scientists trumpeted the coming of the ice. Or at least the popular science press did and it made a definite impression. Now fast forward. The 1990s and late 1980s people began to discover that people can effect the atmosphere pretty significantly. One of the most famous was the ozone hole caused by CFCs over Antarctica. At about the same time, we discovered that the CO2 that we have been pumping into the atmosphere was having a nontrivial effect on the climate and would have a lot more to come. The science then was pretty raw, very new, and rather fanastic at the time. The popular press took up the call and blew the horn.

Now fast forward to the present day.

The same people that heard about the coming ice age in 6k years via the Milankovitch Cycles are now scoffing at the current Global Warming. They say, "We've heard this all before but it was global cooling, not warming." Pravda! Yet, there was a good reason and this argument as put forth is inane and disingenus at best.

Science makes forward progress. As we learn, we find things are more important than we originally assumed. Theories grow, change, and are discarded. The fact that they found the 'key' to the glacial cycles at an earlier time does not preclude the fact that we, as a species, are changing the carbon cycle to such an extent that it has having an impact on the global climate. We learned something new. We found a new layer on top of the previously discovered one.

We have since tested that theory. It appears to be correct in theory, the computational models, and in the field. It's effects outstrip that of the Milankovitch Cycle. It's effects are longer lasting than a single Milankovitch Cycle, or even two for that matter. It appears that it will take 50,000 years or more, if we were to stop cold turkey now, for the carbon cycle to have returned to its 'previous' state. That's not going to happen, frankly, because we're not stopping cold turkey any time soon.

It's not to say that this is the only effect going on. It appears that there is another layer to the climatological onion: global dimming and it has its own effects as well. They're nontrivial. I am not sure if there are any atmospheric models that take it into account. I speak from ignorance here. They very well may. However, when it comes into play, if it has not already, I am sure that the scoff-sciences will mock this one too. Even though there's a lot of data here that support it (Evaporation rates and the unique circumstances that grounded all the planes on 9/11 that allowed for a measurement of the differences in temperature and other data during those days when very little flew).

Just remember, like children, we're still learning. Even when we think we have things figured out, we still have more of that climate onion to peel. That doesn't mean that the the previous discoveries were incorrect, just incomplete. That doesn't mean that the current theories and models are wrong, just that there may be more to it. It also means that as our knowledge gets more complete, the understanding and predictive power of the information will get better. It may well be that we have crossed a observational threshold since we are able to model backwards since the 1600s to the present accurately that we can comfortably say we're close to an accurate enough theory that we can make relatively good predictions about the future.

So, as a favour, please, don't use such stupid arguments anymore, it only demeans you.


Interesting Post at GNXP

An old Volokh post that's linked to from this one contains something equally interesting:

To some extent, this sort of mistake is funny and even a bit heartwarming. The racial divisions between white and Asian, once so stark and to many almost unbridgeable, are quickly fading away. Marriages between Asians and whites are increasingly common; while anti-Asian bigotry exists, it is (at least among whites) much rarer than it was only one or two generations ago. As with the experience of the American Irish, Italians, Jews, and many other groups, the Asian experience shows that racial divisions and hostilities can subside over time.

Very interesting.

Recommended reading.

Not the least of which is the implications of some of this.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Russia Makes Hints to Ukraine

Opening the prime ministers’ session, Fradkov cautioned Yanukovych that declarations about Russia being a priority in Ukraine’s foreign policy “should advance from words to deeds” and that Russia “needs full clarity” from Ukraine. Fradkov called for a “market approach” to bilateral economic relations, including energy supplies; Yanukovych, for a “market approach [that] also takes into account the level of Russia-Ukraine relations.” While Fradkov’s “market approach” implies monopoly and price dictation, Yanukovych’s qualification implies favors to Ukraine within a context of Ukrainian economic gravitation toward Russia.

Fradkov urged the Ukrainian side to participate more actively in preparations for creating the Single Economic Space (SES, with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan) and, as an intermediate step, to fully join EurAsEc and its planned Customs Union. Fradkov described such participation in “integration processes” as one of the main factors that will determine the shape Ukraine’s relations with Russia. Yanukovych seemed to demur on SES, announcing only that First Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Azarov would represent Ukraine in the High-Level Working Group on the Formation of SES. Regarding EurAsEc’s Customs Union, Yanukovych answered cautiously that Ukraine would consider selective participation in those activities that would correspond to Ukraine’s national interests. Even so, this would seem to go farther than the previous government’s policy of seeking no more than a Free Trade Zone.

At this Sochi meeting, the presidents of EurAsEc’s member countries decided to accelerate preparations for the Customs Union, aiming to announce its founding by July 2007. Concurrently, the presidents of the three full-fledged SES member countries decided to forge ahead with that project. Such bifurcation would seem to enable Ukraine to opt for the softer form of such “integration.” However, participation in this Customs Union would jeopardize Ukraine’s accession to the World Trade Organizations and relations with the European Union. Yanukovych’s public remarks during this two-day meeting did not include any reference to Ukraine’s relations with the EU.

They're better

They've recovered a lot. Avrora no longer leaves her food on the floor. Lyuda i slowly feeling better too.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Sick Family

The first day at daycare and Avrora gets sick. :(

The first day at classes and Lyuda gets sick.

I have a feeling I'll be staying at home tomorrow to take care of them.

Baird Family Pix

Roasted Poblano Salsa

We BBQed again recently. I made a plethora BBQed chicken so that we would have lunches for a while. I also made a roasted poblano salsa. This was MUCH better than the anaheim variety.

1 Poblano Chile
2 Roma Tomatoes
2 Steak Tomato
1 Yellow Onion
1 Lime

Cilantro, minced, to taste
Garlic, fresh, mashed, minced
Ginger, powdered
Sage, powdered

Roast poblano until skin is blackened. Also roast three of the tomatoes (2 oma and one steak) and onion. Peel the 80% poblano. slice up the tomatoes and the onion. Drop all in the blender with spices. All of the other spices are to taste. Squeeze in lime juice. BLEND. Dice and add last tomato. Blend again, but for nota s long.

Comes out smoky and VERY yummy. It's not a habanero salsa, but its damned good stuff.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Small Avrora Update

Oops! I forgot to do this last week!

She's 33 inches tall and 29 1/2 pounds at 17 1/2 months.

Definitely destined to be taller than Mommy. The supposed half way point - that is a child is half the height that they are going to be as an adult - is 20 months for a girl and 24 months for a boy. We still have a few months to go.


Grow my lil girl! Grow!

Some Potential Consequences of Global Warming

With average global temperature increases of more than 5.5°F (3°C), there will be a high probability of droughts along Europe's Mediterranean coastline, the scientists report.

The eastern U.S. would also become prone to severe dry spells.

But with an increase of less than 3.5°F (2°C), Scholze said, "we don't see this. There might actually be floods."

In addition, the study found a high likelihood that global warming beyond 3.5 to 5.5°F (2 to 3°C) would cause a high likelihood of floods at latitudes above 50 degrees north.

The temperature rise would also cause prairies to expand northward all the way to Canada's Baffin Bay, replacing present-day forests.

Farther north, Canada's forests would push into regions now covered by brush and tundra.


Substantial warming could also have dire consequences for the Amazon rain forest.

If global warming is modest, the models are "not quite sure" what will happen in that part of South America, Scholze said. "Some say it would get drier and some say it would get wetter."

But with warming of more than 5.5°F (3°C), he says, there is a high probability that the region would get drier and face a risk of forest fires.

Steven Running, a climate researcher from the University of Montana in Missoula who was not part of Scholze's team, calls this a "double whammy." The Amazon would first endure forest-killing droughts and then see massive wildfires that turn it from rain forest to grassland.
I wonder what will happen in the Western US?

Funny Post from Slashdot

Slashdot is a news aggregator for computer info. It used to be bleeding edge and have stories about things prior to anyone else. Well, it doesn't so much anymore. The commentary tends to be innane and less than informed. Think of usenet standards and lower them. There was one funny post though about us here at work:
I work in the industry. 'Course it's easy for an AC to say that, isn't it?

$52M is rather large nowadays. At least, for a 'commodity' part cluster it is. For a 'vector' supercomputer, it may be only medium sized.

You can easily break the top 50 for less than $10M. A couple thousand nodes, each with two dual-core Opteron/Xenons, InfiniBand or Myrinet (maybe 10GigE), and a compiler that optimizes better than gcc... no problem.

That being said, NERSC is a pathologically tough customer. Cray will have to work very hard to earn each and every penny they get. It may very well be a 'live or die' deal for Cray.

ooooh. I LIKE being pathological.


Not the Day Care you're looking for

We had selected a daycare that was recommended to us from some friends. The owners seemed nice. They're fluent in Spanish (and teach it) which is something we wanted for Avrora. Our friends' daughter seems happy there and my wife's first visit seemed to go pretty well. There ended up being four problems and she won't be going there.

The first was that it was my daughter didn't like it. Our friends' daughter didn't want to play with ours. There were older kids and Avrora wasn't happy with that. The second problem was that Avrora was going to end up with little kids - toddlers and infants - and she wants to play with the older kids. The older kids weren't really that interested. The third problem was that we were hoping that Avrora would end up in a daycare that had russian lessons, since that's ahrd to maintain as they get older and the more they get exposed young, the better. Finally, the last two visits, it was dirty. Very dirty according to Lyuda. I understand that kids get into a mess, but that wouldn't do.

We lucked outa nd found another PDQ after that last visit. Our daughter didn't want to leave and rather liked the owner. It's a Russian speaking daycare, but after age three they teach english too. The services are much better too and the price, which wasn't a big deal before, is half of the previous one. We're hopeful that this will work out.

Avrora starts tomorrow. The same day Lyuda's classes will. We're both going to drop her off.

The Donetsk Team

I really ought to just add The Eurasian Daily Monitor to my side bar and be done with it.

The Donetsk interest group is clearly the hegemonic factor in Ukraine’s newly installed coalition government under Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. It seems quite possible that Washington and Brussels can “do business” politically and perhaps to some extent even strategically with this group. Certainly, the government’s installation marks an advance from chaos to relative stability and predictability, as well as a shift from pro-Western but ineffectual Orange power to a “two-vector” (East-West balance) stable and somewhat more competent power.

In testing the Donetsk group’s capacity for strategic partnership with the West, four assumptions now being proposed could prove irrelevant at best and counterproductive at worst. These assumptions hold that the new government marks a departure from regionally divisive politics; that the “Party of Regions has been democratized”; that the coalition is based on a common economic policy; and that it has adopted a unified foreign policy.

However, the governing coalition’s composition in parliament and government shows that the political forces that speak for the western and central regions (Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and the national-democratic wing of the Our Ukraine bloc) opposed the formation of this government. By the same token, the Donetsk team’s economic and political power in the government is wholly disproportionate to its actual influence in the country and may be misused to expand that influence and cement that team’s power. Rather than departing from regionally divisive politics, the new Donetsk hegemony can exacerbate such politics by triggering reactions from regionally based forces that feel unrepresented or short-changed.

The “democratization” of the Party of Regions may seem to be an almost obligatory case to make, but it is difficult to sustain. The present leaders’ Kuchma-era record is a non- and anti-democratic one, which helped trigger the democratic Orange Revolution. The party is strongest in electoral terms in those areas where the Soviet/Russian mentality of paternalism, collectivism, and subservience to authority is strongest; and its oligarchic leaders control the populous industrial centers in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in company-town fashion, though on a far larger scale than the classical model. Furthermore, the party’s oligarchs have brought the unreconstructed Communist Party into the government.


Yesterday my daughter figured out how to use keys. This is a wonderful and terrifying development.

Oh, to be sure, it's not the keys that you put in the door. They were the large plastic keys for opening up where some of her toys were stored. It was part of the play setup. Her toys, small anaimals, were locked in some cages as part of a play set for pretending to be a vet. She got them out. We were delighted. She's been trying to work door nobs for a while, but now that we have seen her use the keys, we quietly without fuss moved all of ours out of reach.

We're very proud of her. And a little nervous. She has no fear. Even after hurting herself a few times falling off the bed, she kept at it to figure out how to get down. She's done likewise with other things she think she can do whether or not they might hurt her. If she thinks she can figure out a way that she can do it without hurting her she'll keep trying until it doesn't. Stairs, frex, are one. Picking up prickly or hot things too. She doesn't do it blindly or stupidly, but she does keep at it.

These are the moments that both scare and delight a parent.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Anoxia in the Pacific NW

Scientists say the oxygen-starved "dead zone" along the Pacific Coast that is causing massive crab and fish die-offs is worse than initially thought.

Scientists say weather, not pollution, appears to be the culprit, and no relief is in sight. However, some say there is no immediate sign yet of long-term damage to the crab fishery.

Oregon State University scientists looking for weather changes that could reverse the situation aren't finding them, and they say levels of dissolved oxygen critical to marine life are the lowest since the first dead zone was identified in 2002. It has returned every year.

Strong upwelling winds pushed a low-oxygen pool of deep water toward shore, suffocating marine life, said Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at OSU.

Y'know, I wonder if Hallam and Wignall have considered that anoxia might be part of the symptoms of what killed everything at the end of the Permian (and others) rather than the driving cause. Yes, Anoxia would kill lots, but it seems, at least in the above case, that its a symptom rather than cause. If anoxic conditions in the Permian Extinction and elsewhere TL wise were a symptom of uber temperatures...

Forgotten Pain

I've been helping my wife get registered for classes. These will be her first credit classes in her drive for her good, but mildly insane major she wants from UC Berkeley (Molecular Celluar Biology and Business Adminstration). Getting A +B + C right was something I did back at NMSU for my class schedules. It's even more painful now.


Wedging in Math, two English courses, a biology and a business course is ... uh...not fun.

Russian Imperialism Alive and Well

Sponsored jointly by Russian big business and security services, a network of Greater Russia political and “civic” organizations is sprouting up in Transnistria, advocating the accession to the Russian Federation of this part of Moldova. Recent days have witnessed a wave of founding conferences of these organizations.

In the immediate term, this burst of activity is linked to preparations for the referendum that is scheduled to be held on September 17 by the Russia-installed authorities. A leading question on the ballot is asking voters whether they favor Transnistria’s entry into the Russian Federation. The “referendum” will be followed by a “presidential” election that is expected to return Igor Smirnov for a fourth term in that post. In the short-to-medium term, however, Moscow will use these organizations to provide a semblance of “democratic legitimacy” for Russian control over distant Transnistria in the form of a second Kaliningrad.

Russian looks to bite off a chunk of a smaller country. Border moving is definitely in vogue there in Moscow. How long until the break away regions of Georgia "vote" to be included in Russia? It will be interesting to see if Russia pulls this off. It will be equally interesting to see how the world, especially the EU, reacts to this.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

New Toy at Work

Cray returns.


Let's hope that they're as responsive and good as they used to be.

There will be teething problems, of course.

Ixnay on NG's Skyguard laser

While Northrop Grumman is hoping the recent Hezbollah missile attacks on Israel will create interest in its Skyguard chemically powered high-energy laser weapon system either abroad or for American homeland security, it's clear that the U.S. Army wants to wait for a more tactical and mobile system.

While more mobile and cheaper than earlier planned high-energy laser (HEL) proposals, Skyguard lacks the mobility of solid-state high energy systems the Army would rather have, according to Northrop and Army officials.

A demonstrator for such a system probably won't be ready until the mid part of the coming decade.

Army officials have made their need for a very mobile system known this year in congressional testimony. More telling, the service has no current funding plans for anything like a Skyguard system.

Israel and the United States were working on a mobile tactical high energy laser (MTHEL) until last year, but the joint program fell apart partly because Israel was ready to move forward while the Army wanted a more tactical system.

"The U.S. Army wanted something that was more mobile," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute.

...and probably something that its not so easy to be killed by if something goes wrong. Flourine and deutrium are none too friendly when they get a chance encounter with the battlefield bully called 'shrapnel'.

Reading Update

I just finished reading After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America last night. I've been taking my time in reading it because after running down to SD, Avrora starting daycare next week, and Lyuda starting classes, we're a little tapped out this month. That means I won't get to go purchase new reading material for a bit.

I have to say that Pielou did a reasonable job of writing this one. The prose is very readable. There are a lot of illustrations to demonstrate points or show the critter being discussed or such. There were a few spots a diagram wasn't placed that could have been nice rather than an illustration of some animal, but the choices weren't horrible. The number of illustrations make the pages seem a bit padded and that youa re really seeing a book of 240 pages long instead of the 314+ of readable material.

The content itself is not anything amazing, but it did point out a number of things that I definitely didn't realize. Frex, the ice free corridor between the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets was most likely a waste land that didn't even qualify as tundra making it a very difficult for anyone, man or beast, to travel down without starving. There are a number of other ones that I will be pointing out as quotes. Some of them are quite juicy.

It should be clear that the physical environment of nothern North America has changed dramatically in the past 20,000 years. This environment was (and still is) a complicated and intricate system, powered by the sun and having land, ice, freshwater, salt water and atmosphere at its compnonents. Even if it were lifeless, it would still be duynamic; the compononents would continue to interact with one another. One of the most interesting aspects of this never ending change from the ecological point of view is that, over the time interval we are considering (and probably for the whole of the earth's history), physical conditions on this continent (and everywhere else) have never repeated themselves.

At no time has there been a return to "things as they were."

pg 29.

Emphasis added. Message for the future? There will never be a return to the 'before' if Global Warming truly happens as predicted.

There is a wealth of evidence, however, shwoing that climatic change is never ending. Even if major climatic "steps" are compartively quick, it is almost certain that the climate in the intervals between steps undergoes continual lesser changes. In the light of present knowledge, therefore, Davis' view, that disequilibrium in ecological communities is much commoner than equilibirum, is more acceptable.

It should lead, in time, to a much needed change in popular thought. The notion espoused by so many nonprofessional ecologists - that the living world is "marvelously" and "delicately" attuned to its environment - is not so much a scientifically reasonable theory as a mystically satisifying dogma. Its abandonment might lead to a useful fresh start in environmental politics."

pg 101. Speaks for itself. emphasis added.

I'll add some more quotes later. I'm a little busy right now.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Greater US of North America Population by State

State Name: Population: Origin[0]:
California 36,132,147 A
Texas 22,859,968 A
Mexico[1] 22,728,411 M
New York 19,254,630 A
Florida 17,789,864 A
Illinios 12,763,371 A
Ontario 12,541,400 C
Pennsylvania 12,429,616 A
Ohio 11,464,042 A
Michigan 10,120,860 A
Georgia 9,072,576 A
New Jersey 8,717,925 A
North Carolina 8,683,242 A
Quebec 7,598,100 C
Virginia 7,567,465 A
Veracruz 7,110,214 M
Jalisco 6,752,113 M
Massachusetts 6,398,743 A
Washington 6,287,759 A
Indiana 6,271,973 A
Tennessee 5,962,959 A
Arizona 5,939,292 A
Missouri 5,800,310 A
Maryland 5,600,388 A
Wisconsin 5,536,201 A
Puebla 5,383,133 M
Minnesota 5,132,799 A
Colorado 4,665,177 A
Alabama 4,557,808 A
Lousiana 4,523,628 A
Chiapas 4,293,459 M
South Carolina 4,255,083 A
British Columbia 4,254,500 C
Nuevo Leon 4,199,292 M
Kentucky 4,173,405 A
Michoacan 3,966,073 M
Puerto Rico 3,916,632 A
Oregon 3,641,056 A
Oklahoma 3,547,884 A
Connecticut 3,510,297 A
Oaxaca 3,506,821 M
Baja California[2] 3,356,639 M
Alberta 3,256,800 C
Chihuahua 3,241,444 M
Guerrero 3,115,202 M
Tamaulipas 3,024,238 M
Iowa 2,966,334 A
Mississippi 2,921,088 A
Arkansas 2,779,154 A
Kansas 2,744,687 A
Sinaloa 2,608,442 M
Utah 2,469,585 A
Nevada 2,414,807 A
San Luis Potosi­ 2,410,414 M
Hidalgo 2,345,514 M
Tabasco 1,989,969 M
New Mexico 1,928,384 A
Yucatan 1,818,948 M
West Virginia 1,816,856 A
Nebraska 1,758,787 A
Morelos 1,612,899 M
Querétaro 1,598,139 M
Durango 1,509,117 M
Idaho 1,429,096 A
Zacatecas 1,367,692 M
Maine 1,321,505 A
New Hampshire 1,309,940 A
Hawaii 1,275,194 A
Manitoba 1,177,600 C
Quintana Roo 1,135,309 M
Rhode Island 1,076,189 A
Tlaxcala 1,068,207 M
Aguascalientes 1,065,416 M
Saskatchewan 994,100 C
Nayarit 949,684 M
Nova Scotia 937,900 C
Montana 935,670 A
Delaware 843,524 A
South Dakota 775,933 A
Campeche 754,730 M
New Brunswick 752,000 C
Alaska 663,661 A
North Dakota 636,677 A
Vermont 623,050 A
Colima 567,996 M
Newfoundland and Labrador 516,000 C
Wyoming 509,294 A
Prince Edward Island 138,100 C
Northwest Territories 43,000 C
Yukon 31,000 C
Nunavut 30,000 C

0. A = American, C = Canadian, M = Mexican.
1. Combined Mexico and Federal District
2. Combined Baja California and Baja California Sur

A combined Martimes would have a population of 2,344,000
and put it in the puncing weight of Utah politically.

A combined Yucatan Pennisula (Compeche, Quintana Roo, and
Yucatan ) would have the population of 3,708,987 and a
punching weight equivalent of Oregon or the state of
Puerto Rico.

Some notes:

Running for President in this uber USA gets interesting. You have three rather different big states to appease: liberal California, conservative Texas, and spanish Mexico. I suspect that you won't appease all three at the same time. You better be bilingual too. Maybe trilingual, but spanish and english so out compete French in numbers...

The voting blocks for different states are probably too complicated for me to think about. I'd need to if I ever want to write a book with this in it though. lol.

I combined Mexico with the Federal District and the two Baja Californias just because. Well, sorta, I think it increases those nuevo states punching power a lot. I would think that the Maritime combination and Yucatan one would be a good idea too, but I suspect that there'd be even MORE resistance to their combination than the prior. Esp wrt to the Canadians.

I have a feeling there'd be a huge population shift around if the borders were moved like this. The next Census after the expansion would shift around a lot of house seats. The Yukon et al territories are states through treaty reasons only. Ontario hits like Illinois. An important state, but not a biggie like the top three.

Oh, yes, I did make Puerto Rico a state here. if Mexico becomes a series of them, then PR is going to join too.

This was just for fun. Don't take it too seriously.

A Independant Canadian Space Program?

Sumitra Rajagopalan argues that Canada ought to have its own space program completely independent of the American one. She harks to more rheatorical reasons than solid ones. I'd like to encourage Canadians to do so, honestly, but I am unsure how much of a program Canada can support with its small if relatively rich population with the state of the Canadian military and Canada's unwillingness to care and feed that.

From my Darth Expanionist POV, it must be ruthlessly crushed though. ;)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ah, suckage

My cluster map seems to have been broken for a while. Just based on comments here, there ought to have been more hits on my blog that this. grrr.

The Devonian Mass Extinctions

I have been doing a lot of reading about the mass extinctions that have bedeviled or blessed our ecosystems through time. Part of the reason for this was the discussions that Carlos and I had. Part of this would be because once upon a time, I thought I would be a paleontologist, but alas, that didn't happen. The interest never faded so much as I put it on the back burner. Since those discussions I have been upping that priority. I un-niced it for those computer geeks out there. Finally, its necessary research for a novel setting I am cobbling together. That 'Great Vision' novel that I mentioned before needs a bit of research and this is part of it.

Everyone has heard of the KT Event when the dinosaurs, ave our feathered friends, got wiped. This is probably the singular most popular extinction to study and discuss. The results were pretty profound. The reasons are pretty obvious these days. The studies that have been done are pretty extensive. A few less have heard of the Permian Extinction where a lot more species died out, but it has been popularized a lot in the last decade so that more people have heard of it. There are a few other mass extinctions that people haven't heard so much about. The Ordovician was older and pretty important if largely kept to the sea.

There are two that are a bit more controversial. They may not have even happened: The Cambrian extinction so popularized by the late Stephen J Gould and the End Triassic may not have even been extinctions at all, or so its starting to appear, but rather are just statistical blips (so say recent sources) that are from sampling biases. That stance though is pretty controversial, especially with respect to the Triassic-Jurassic Boundary. The Cambrian Extinction seems to be largely consigned to history, but that may not remain so.

Of course, there's the one going on right now. This is supposed to be the worst extinction since the KT Event. It's ongoing and very political since we - humanity - are the primary, and possibly sole cause. It's a bit depressing, but ought to be considered in the Drake Equation that intelligent species might bring about their own demise ecologically. I have faith in humanity to make it through, but I mourn the passing of so many species.

However, there is another extinction event that hasn't been touched on as much. That is the Late Devonian Mass Extinction:

The Late Devonian Event is particuarly controversial at present. Indeed, one evolutionary biologist has bemoaned, "The Late Devonian extinction is one where not even the major facts are ageed on yet" (Van Valen 1984).

Or so sayeth George McGhee in his work on the subject, The Late Devonian Mass Extinction. Hallam and Wignall called it "one damn thing after another" in their book Mass Extinctions and their Aftermath. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like anything is really agreed by anyone about anything here with respect to this extinction except that a a helluvalota species died.

One of the best things to start with is the fact that there is a lot of disagreement about exactly when the timing of events happened in the Devonian. The Mesozoic, the Tertiary, and even the Permian (end Paleozoic) are very well documented in terms of their geochronology compared to the Devonian. Truthfully, the Permian work has been all done in the last decade, but the Devonian seems to be nothing short of a dog's breakfast right now. The different zones are simply not well documented and the work there is very young at best (IMO) based on reading McGhee and Hallam's work. Until this is done with a lot of cross checking and the timeline generally accepted, the debate will rage for a long, long time.

Another point that has a lot of contention here is the reconstruction of the continents during the Devonian. There seems to be a lot of argument over what the positions of the continents were. The arguments go back and forth it seems over geomagnetic data and the fossils found. They are often in disagreement. The fossils for certain aquatic biomes end up in the wrong places if they are put where they ought to be for the geomagnetic fossils and vice versa for the marine zoological fossils.

The Devonian Extinctions were actually three different events that fit within the Devonian. The first was the Taghanic. None of the sources that I read discuss this one almost at all. This was during the Givetian stage and lasted into the Frasnian. The next was the one that McGhee concentrated on and Hallam and Wignall discussed quite a bit. This one is termed either the Kellwasser Event or the F-F Boundary Event. This extinction happened on the boundary between the stages of the Frasnian and Famennian geological stages.

Next it might be best to explain what happened in terms of species and fossils. While McGhee has the book developed to the whole crisis, it is actually Hallam and Wignall's work that gives a more detailed discussion of what died and lived. The one failing of H&W's work is that it glazes over the land animals to a degree that is disappointing. This isn't just true of the Devonian, but also of the other extinction events that they cover (all of them). It's to be understood since they're marine paleontologists, but...still disappointing. They do have some excellent visual aids on pages 74 and 75 on the pain that was inflicted on diversity changes. The most profound changes that they note there are the fall from grace of the agnathans (jawless fish) and the placoderms (armored fish) during the Devonian events. This had huge implications for the fish of the world because our familar actinpterygians (ray finned fish) took over after the Placs were knocked on their collective ass-fins into extinction. At any rate, the total amount of families and species that died may actually be greater through the Devonian that at the KT Event. That too is a controversial stance, but one supported by Sepkoski's great database.

The question then is, "what killed them all?" The answer is not quite so clear.

McGhee is a strong supporter of the impact theory as to at least one, if not all three peaks of the Devonian Extinctions. The so-called F-F Crisis appears to have a string of craters that impacted in a relatively linear fashion going slightly from the southwest to the northeast in the reconstruction that he favours for the continental positions. He notes that one should not take that as anything other than artifact, but after watching the impacts of Shoemaker-Levy on Jupiter, I have to wonder. The problem is with the impact theory is that, frankly, there's little supporting evidence. There are no global indicators about these impacts. If they were as devastating as the KT impact then there ought to be evidence scattered everywhere. yet. it's not. Indeed, to have three major sets of impacts at tens of millions of years apart hsn't been explained either.

Hallam and Wignall favor that it was oceanic anoxia that did in the Devonian species. Once they seem to favour a global turnover of the ocean, but mostly they seem to lean very strongly towards a model where regression of the ocean shorelines takes place. Then anoxia develops in the oceans. Finally there's a transgression across the continents of the oceans agian that brings the anoxic waters up into former habitats wipes out the local species. In support of this there are tons of so-called black shales where organics were laid down, unoxydized nor munched on by bottom dwellers. On the other hand, this doesn't explain why it seems that the extinction effected the land and fresh water dwellings critters too. Anoxia of the oceans wouldn't swack them as much as it appears to have.

Hallam also wrote a more recent work that indicates that there might be some link to global cooling as well, but that link was rather tenuous.

Despite this being a very important chapter in the extinction book, so to speak, this one is largely unwritten. It had huge implications for life later in the world's history, but we really don't understand it. What ways this influenced our tetrapod ancestors and their fish and arthopod nemeses are quite important and also very poorly studied. Much more needs to be done before we can look at the Devonian Extinctions as settled as the work done for the KT Event or even the Permian Event(s).

That said, next up is the Permian Events. This one is something that almost cooked my goose, irl wrt to my job. I won't belabor that point, but the event has tempered my interest in the PT Event considerably. That said, the reading for that post is done. I actually need to go back and reread some of my notes before that post goes up. It will almost certainly happen before the end of the month though.

Reading a bit about our neighbors...

Can anyone of my Canadian readers make comment as to the accuracy of this article?

Just curious.


We're BACK!

We went down to San Diego for our Second Anniversary!

We stated at the Torrey Pines Hilton. It was rather nice, but perhaps not up to the reputation. We hit the San Diego Zoo on Saturday and had a wonderful time. My daughter has been pointing out this that and everything which has a picture of an animal. She looks a little blue since we got back, but we'll go off to our local zoos soon so she can cheer up.

We spent the next day at the beach and my wife went sky diving. Avrora and I hung out at the pool and then we went to dinner at an Italian place that underwhelmed. :(

I can say that if you ever get the itching for Brazillian food do not ever EVEN THINK! about going to the Samba Grill. It's the first time in my life that I have ever chosen not to leave a tip. That food was NASTY. If you want Brazillian, the best place I have ever seen is Ipanema in Seattle. That's DAMNED good.

We have some photos from the Zoo before our camera's battery died.

Friday, August 04, 2006

What Fae Am I?

What type of Fae are you?

Hmm. I have to wonder about this. I went back and fiddled with a few answers that could have gone a few different ways and didn't get any changes to the outcome.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

What D&D Charatcer am I?

I Am A: Chaotic Good Half-Elf Ranger Druid

Chaotic Good characters are independent types with a strong belief in the value of goodness. They have little use for governments and other forces of order, and will generally do their own things, without heed to such groups.

Half-Elves are a cross between a human and an elf. They are smaller, like their elven ancestors, but have a much shorter lifespan. They are sometimes looked down upon as half-breeds, but this is rare. They have both the curious drive of humans and the patience of elves.

Primary Class:
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

Secondary Class:
Druids are a special variety of Cleric who serves the Earth, and can call upon the power in the earth to accomplish their goals. They tend to be somewhat fanatical about defending natural settings.

Solonor Thelandria is the Chaotic Good elven god of archery and the hunt. He is also known as the Keen Eye, the Great Archer, and the Forest Hunter. His followers respect nature, and only hunt when needed, but are quick to defend the forest from intruders. Their favorite weapon is the bow, and they tend to be extremely talented with it. Solonor Thelandria's symbol is an arrow with green fletchings.

Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)

Kliper Melts Down

Late in June, speaking at the Farnborough aerospace show, the Roskosmos leadership suddenly announced that they were suspending the tender [for the Kliper] and would instead adopt a multi-stage program of creating a space transport vehicle.

So, in other words, the Russians were blowing smoke over their intents with the Kliper. Someone once told me that we had asked to Russians "bring it" wrt the Kliper vs Orion and that "they did and showed us up". Kinda funny actually now that the Russians are shelving their project and the Orion is going forward albeit in its bloated way.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Which is the Russian Fish?

(with full apologies to the EPA...)

Noel Maurer and I had a discussion some time back about the Ukrainian Gas war as an example of Russian 21st Century Imperialism. Noel felt that it was incompetent imperialism. Badly handled and an extreme example of stupidity in motion. Most people were aware of the Gas War. It was in the news and on everyone's mind. The drama was rather extreme. Little new democracy facing down the big, bad Russians in the depths of winter and made the Russians look stupid. A deal was struck with the support of the EU and US. The world's attention turned elsewhere. The Russians, however, merely waited for that to happen. This is a pretty common pattern for the Russians as of this moment. Right now, unbeknownst to most people, the Russians are out trying to eat the smaller fish of the xUSSR republics.

For one, the Gas War isn't over. The Russians have been putting the full court press on the Ukrainians when everyone else was looking at Iran, Isreal and elsewhere. The Russians bought up the rights to the Turkmen gas that the Ukrainians thought they could mix with the Russian gas to make sure it didn't destroy their economy through price shocks. The Russians then turned around and started talking about jacking up the price of gas even past the amount they asked for during the lowest points of the Gas War. Then they demanded that the Ukrainians hand over their transit pipes that Naftogas owns. They did during the Gas War and now they're doing it again. This time, with the chaos in Ukraine's political sphere, it is looking likely that the Russians will win out. First it will be the pipes. There will be temporary breaks in the gas prices as 'concessions' and then the Russians are likely to jack the price to whatever they feel like to demand whatever they want. Putin has set a precedent.

The Russians haven't just been picking on the Ukrainians about this. The Russians are even trying to muscle the Armenians, Moldovans, and Belarusians as well. The Moldovans are getting beaten up with respect to gas over the Transdniestr region where Russian troops are acting as 'peace keepers'. Lukashenka might be as crazy as a bed bug, but he has long sought a Soviet style union with the Russians. That makes you wonder why the Russians would want to make threats to him, right? After all, he is in their pocket, right? Well, the Russians want ownership of the pipeline through Belarus as well and are making the same threats as they are to the Ukrainians: fork it over and face massive price hikes. AKA Do as we say or we destroy your economy.

Gas isn't the only place the Russians are beating up old Soviet Republics. Georgia and Moldova are getting their economics kidney kicked because Russian has implemented a ban on all of their wines. Georgia and Moldova's vineyards are one of their very important pillars of their respective economies. Then Russia, under the auspices of quality control, has banned their very important products. Given a lot of the problems with Georgian wines that would have been plausible and even understandable. However, Putin has been coming out to say that he would lift the bans if Russian companies were allowed to take over those industries. hrm. Sounds familiar.

It's obvious that the xUSSR republics, especially the European ones, are the small fish in the picture, about to be eaten. The amusing thing is that while the Russians are acting the shark with respect to the smaller countries, they are in fact, the fish in the middle. The Chinese are working on eating Russia.

First on the list of examples is the forestry deal that I posted about just yesterday. The Chinese are looking to get to exploit the forestry resources of Siberia almost exclusively. First it will be a pilot project and then, probably, on a huge scale. The second point was the energy deal being worked out between Russia and China. Russia might think that it could do an OPEC on China, but the relative strengths are astounding and only going to get worse. The reason? Demographics.

The third, very crucial point is the difference in demographics: the Russians are in a population decline. Russians have a TFR of 1.28, where in a healthy first world country it takes a little better than 2.1 or 2.2 to just keep a stable population. Additionally, they also have a rapidly shrinking population through death .37% annually, and that figure is getting worse. While the Chinese are 1.3 billion people with an annual growth rate of .59% and a TFR that is below replacement, but not as vastly so as the Russians: 1.73. The Chinese are actually emigrating out of China and depress that growth a nontrivial amount. Some of them are going to Russia.

Here and here have some interesting, if a little dated stats on Chinese immigration into Siberia. As the Russian needs for workers increases, their alienation of the xUSSR republics and the EU gets worse, and their own population declines, they are going to have to get workers from somewhere. The Chinese seem very likely as the source. Since the Russians are not at all friendly to absorbing other nonSlavs into being Russian culturally, the Chinese that do come will remain culturally self identifying as such.

The Chinese have a almost cultural concept that the PRC - or whatever form of government that governs 'China' - has the right to rule wherever there are Chinese people. Singapore has long promoted that it is a part of the people, but separate politically. Now, China doesn't actively promote the idea of annexation of these areas, but it does try to influence these areas as much as possible.

Now, if the Russians should get a leader that suddenly goes through a intense nationalist phase, there will be problems. The Russians really don't like the Chinese on the personal or culture level. If China starts to 'own' too many parts of Russia or there are too many Chinese people in Russia - a la like how many perceive the Mexicans in the US - you might see a rather bad backlash. The first would be in the form of nationalizations of Chinese assets. Second would be in the form of considering expulsions of Chinese from Siberia and the rest of Russia. This would be a mistake.

The Chinese government barring some calamity would intervene. Russia would be in a world of hurt. Consider the predictions of an 85 million-person population come true circa 2050 for Russia, and the massively bigger population for China (18x? 20x?). Then consider the massively growing wealth of China vs. Russia. If these trends continue, we are going to see a massive stomp at best. It would turn painful for China, but not as badly as it would be for Russia. Russia, as we have known it, would pass. It would all depend on the distribution of population in Russia and if anyone comes to their rescue. Somehow, I doubt many nations would leap to its aid given the trend in alienation that it is going down.

Unfortunately, I can all too well see a xenophobic Russian leader lashing out at the Chinese sometime after 2020. I can all too well see the end result too. Too bad that Russia is all too bent on trying to push around or eat the smaller fish instead of considering its future it seems to have selected. Too bad that they seem to have turned away from the once promising prospects of joining the West, NATO, and European Union. Too bad their cultural arrogance, one that rivals or perhaps even surpassing that of my own American culture, is preventing them from joining with their other cousins in the bright future of the EU. Too bad that their own self image is so such contradictory opposition to the reality.

Too bad that the Russians didn't embrace that European future. Instead, they have embraced a Eurasian one. For that reason, I weep for Mother Russia. I weep for the Great Russians.

Putin! Oh Putin! What have you done?