Thursday, May 31, 2007

Help Make Puerto Rico A State

Tender Readers[1]:

As I have blogged about before, there is a bill in Congress to either incorporate Puerto Rico as a state or set it free as an independent country. The bill is simple and straight forward. The Puerto Ricans would vote on it. They would decide their own fate. No longer would they be an embarassing semicolony. Please contact your representatives and ask them to push this through. It would end 100 years of limbo that the territory has been in. It is the right thing to do.

Thank you.

1. Sorry Unca Syd.


This week has been really messy with Lyuda been gone. I hope she's having fun. With a cost of $7/minute for calling her, we're foregoing it until she's within shore range again of the States. Right now my daughter is sleeping. I ought to be writing, but can't seem to get the enthusiasm up for it right now. Instead I am watching a movie that I loved as a kid: THEM!

It's a lot of fun. I didn't know New Mexico at all when I loved it back as a kid: we still lived in SoCal outside Santa Barbara. However, I obviously became familiar with it later. The first part of the movie is supposed to be set in NM: just outside White Sands, actually. It was obviously not filmed there. It looks, *gasp*shock*horror*surprise*, like the Mojave here in Cali. Must be that whole thing about why Sherwood Forest looked strangely like California in the 1930s...;)

Anyways, the few snippets of Los Angeles are interesting too. Talk about a very different city than what's there now. Very different attitude towards the military - and authority! - to say the least.

OOOOOOOOOOOOH So Wrong On So Many Levels!

This is a friend from NM. One of my old gaming buddies. Shane went by codejoy and other names. This is just freakin me out a tad. Wow. The frakkin scary aspect: WTF is he doing in NEW JERSEY.

UPDATE: Oh and he has a blog.

And Sometimes Your Dad-in-law Just Doesn't Like You

Man, Pop-in-law works with TB. Doesn't advise his SIL about it at all.


Just kidding.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A critter that didn't make the cut

There's a lot of discussion going on. At times, it's fantastic, but at other times, it's depressing because people seem to want to repeat tropes that others have already done. For example there's a desire to make nonintelligent posthumans a la Baxter. it got voted down. Another is something that you could almost take from rasfs from years ago: the desire to take a water critter and make it terrestrial again. On rasfs it was the dolphin and turning it into a snake. This time it's the seal. it's less of a stretch, but it's still a bit perplexing to me. In the vein of participating and trying to think of something a little more original, since there were already two proposals for a seal-turned-snake and a triped, I suggested something a little different.

I stuck with a seal that turned biped...but not on its legs. Think walking on your hands. Or flippers. Body changed and the flippers elongated. It looked vaguely theropod like, but...not really. That's the closest I can put into words. The seal walked on the legs dervied from the fore flippers, but kept its rear feet, but not for walking. Rather, it was for signaling and displays. The rear flippers became very, well, batlike and became fans to be flared and displayed in mating dances and dominance games. It could become fanciful for that purpose. It was supposed to arise in an island situation. The contenders were a Nova Iceland, Great Carribea, or Greenland.

Anyways, it didn't make it. It seems the group wasn't very interested. I'm not that attached, but it was an interesting attempt at playing along. I don't see a seal coming ashore to be a dominant land critter. However, stretching the imagination is fun.

XO-3b: Supersized planet or oasis in the 'brown dwarf desert'?

Amateur, professional astronomers find one of the oddest planets on record

The latest find from an international planet-hunting team of amateur and professional astronomers is one of the oddest extrasolar planets ever cataloged -- a mammoth orb more than 13 times the mass of Jupiter that orbits its star in less than four days.

Researchers from the U.S.-based XO Project unveiled the planet, XO-3b, at today's American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu. Christopher Johns-Krull, a Rice University astronomer and presenter of the team's results, said, "This planet is really quite bizarre. It is also particularly appropriate to be announcing this find here, since the core of the XO project is two small telescopes operating here in Hawaii."

"Of the 200-plus exoplanets found so far, XO-3b is an oddity in several respects," said XO Project director Peter McCullough, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. "It's the largest and most massive planet yet found in such a close orbit, and given the proximity of the orbit to the star, we were surprised to find that the orbit is not circular but significantly elliptical."

Given all its eccentricities, XO-3b is likely to pique the interest of astronomers who study planet formation, McCullough said.

"We are intrigued that its mass is on the boundary between planets and 'brown dwarfs,'" Johns-Krull said, "There's still a lively debate among astronomers about how to classify brown dwarfs." Any stellar mass that's large enough to fuse hydrogen -- anything more than about 80 Jupiter masses -- is a star. Brown dwarfs are massive objects that fall short of being stars.

"The controversy lies at the lower end of the scale," said Johns-Krull, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Rice. "Some people believe anything capable of fusing deuterium, which in theory happens around 13 Jupiter masses, is a brown dwarf. Others say it's not the mass that matters, but whether the body forms on its own or as part of a planetary system."

By virtue of their mass, any planet big enough to contend for brown dwarf status should be easy for most planet hunters to spot. That's because astronomers don't actually look for planets when they scan the sky; they generally look for stars that wobble due to the gravitational pull of planets orbiting around them. The larger the planet, the more wobble it creates, so planet hunters using this "radial velocity" method expected to find a lot of brown dwarfs when they started scanning the sky for wobbling stars a decade ago. That hasn't happened, and the dearth of supersized objects has become known in the field as the "brown dwarf desert."

What also makes XO-3b intriguing is the fact that it's a "transiting planet," meaning it passes in front of its star during each orbit. Fewer than two dozen transiting planets have been identified, and XO-3b is the third found by the XO Project, which was designed specifically to look for them.

OoOOoooo. Another one that doesn't fit the models. Gotta love the universe. Loves to play havoc on preconceptions. ;)

Whither the American People?

The Guardian has an okay article (link above) about what may end up happening to a lot of people due to the climate change underway from global warming. I had to wonder though about what will happen with the population shifts here in the States wrt to the changing climate. We know, or think we know, some of the oncoming effects for the US.

First is that the precipitation for the nation as a whole is going to become more catastrophic, or perhaps monsoonal would be a better word. This is irrespective of region: this will happen in the South, in the West, and in the East. Midwest too for that matter. When it comes, it's going to come in droves. We also know the temperature is going to go up. it will be regional again, but most everywhere in the US is going to climb in temperature. There's getting around it (unless you're in the Midwest for some oddball reason). Finally we have everywhere that's a coastal region at least is going to be facing sea level rise: how much depends on your Doomsday Scenario Meter, but locals have been talking 9m or 30 ft.

Out West, we're going to lose our snowpacks. This is going to devastating for all populations that depend on water from the runoff. It's going to be, frankly, depressing for my home state of New Mexico. If you depend on aquifers for water, things are not so bright too. NM has been, frex, draining theirs at a rate well beyond any dream of replacement...and its population for the whole state is less than that of the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Imagine what would happen should the Colorado River go seasonal. Beyond the ecological damage, just imagine what would happen to, oh, perhaps, agriculture in SoCal? The whole of the West is set to get trashed wet matters-wise because of that pesky snow pack issue. However that's not the only place.

The South is probably going to get a LOT more hurricanes of greater intensity. The last few seasons have already had a nontrivial effect on the population of the Gulf Coast, Katrina aside, but in addition to. Katrina level events are going to get more frequent. I once speculated that we'd see a Southern Bunker Gentile style develop architecturally, but that may not happen at all. How many people are going to want to stay? Then there's the sea level rise.

Don't Worry about Katrinas and New Orleans, it'll be below the waves soon enough anyways.

All of this, to me suggests that the population will move to the coasts and to the north. The SW is going to be abandoned, by and large. It'll make for some interesting ghost town settings in the future, I am sure. As a retirement place, I'd not recommend it, unless you like going Fremen. The Midwest ought to gain (boggle) too.

What's Wisconsin with 35 million people going to be like, Carlos? ;)

Anyways, this is just something I've typed up while waiting for our maintenance to wrap up. My part has been done for hours now, but I need to be here for the rest too as one of the GPFS experts hanging around.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

No. of Days Snow Melts in Greenland Up

In 2006, Greenland experienced more days of melting snow and at higher altitudes than average over the past 18 years, according to a new NASA-funded project using satellite observations.

Daily satellite observations have shown snow melting on Greenland’s ice sheet over an increased number of days. The resulting data help scientists understand better the speed of glacier flow, how much water will pour from the ice sheet into the surrounding ocean and how much of the sun’s radiation will reflect back into the atmosphere.

"We now have the ability to monitor melting snow on Greenland’s ice sheet on a daily basis using sensors on satellites measuring the electromagnetic signal naturally emitted by the ice sheet," said Marco Tedesco, research scientist at the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology cooperatively managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Baltimore.

"The sensors detected that snowmelt occurred more than 10 days longer than the average over certain areas of Greenland in 2006," said Tedesco, who is lead author of the study, which appears in the May 29 issue of the American Geophysical Union's Eos.

Tedesco applied a new method for detecting melting snow to data from the Special Sensor Microwave Imaging radiometer (SSM/I) flying aboard the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program spacecraft. The sensor can see through clouds and does not require sunlight to make measurements, providing researchers with multiple daily observations. Tedesco has updated the results annually since 1988, which has enabled him to analyze trends in the duration of snowmelt and extent over specific areas of Greenland.

To understand why these trends are important to track, Tedesco explained one of the consequences of melting snow. "Although wet and dry snow look similar at first glance, wet and re-frozen snow absorb more of the sun’s radiation, reflecting only 50-60 percent back into the atmosphere. Dry snow, on the other hand, reflects about 85 percent of the sun’s radiation," he said. "In other words, melting snow absorbs three to four times as much energy as dry snow, greatly affecting Earth’s energy budget."

Melt, melt, melt.

I almost wonder if you could have an evil overlord purposefully attempt to melt as mucha s possible...hmmm.

Multicore-the New Face of Computing-Promises and Challenges

8th IEEE/NATEA AnnualConference
2007 New Frontiers in Computing Technology

06/02/2007, Stanford University


The joint IEEE-NATEA conference on an emerging technology is aimed to provide IEEE and NATEA members with an inexpensive solid overview of a technology that may affect their work and careers in the near future. This annual Saturday conference series has been traditionally held at Stanford on a Saturday. This year the date is June 2nd at the Bio-X facility. Over the past 8 years we have covered such topics as RFID, SOC, Bioinformatics and Nanotechnology.

This year's conference is entitled "Multicore-the New Face of Computing-Promises and Challenges.

With the advent of the Sony PS3 and its utilization of a powerful multicore technology new opportunities for other non-game scientific and technology applications present themselves. To date-there has been some appreciation of this new and significant change in high end computation. Utilization in such research as protein folding has been suggested. This conference seeks to summarize where this technology stands and what issues must be addressed to bring the exciting and powerful world of multicore computing to fruition in the scientific and technical communities to unleashits promise.

The conference will present a technical overview of the hardware and software issues involved in this significant change in computing including such issues as compilation, scalability graphics co-processing and potential applications in the scientific domain.

One our own, Dr Kathy Yelick, will be there presenting.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Love the Sig-Quote

'The story of the rest of the 15th century, theologically speaking, is the story of the Church clapping its hands together and saying, "Sorted!"'
- Doug Muir

I REALLY love that one. It's almost as good as James' famous one. However, James' is of more interest to nonhistorians, I have to admit, than Doug's.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Puerto Rico Statehood Status Update

Congressional supporters say they are optimistic the U.S. House may pass a bill to allow Puerto Rico statehood or independence.

A bill backed by the White House would establish a two-stage process. Islanders first would choose between maintaining their current status as a U.S. territory or opting for a permanent government, the Miami Herald reported.

If they choose to remain a territory, Puerto Ricans would be asked to repeat the process every eight years until a definitive accord is reached, the Herald reported. If they want a permanent deal, which is the most likely outcome, then the island of four million people would vote again between statehood and a form of independent government.

Okay. A couple updates out of this. The repeated process for every 8 years and that people think that the House is likely to vote on this (and pass it) sometime in the next month. OTOH, looks like a hard(er) sell in the Senate. hmmm. If you are so inclined, write your Senators and let's see this one through. This way we either accept Puerto Rico as a full member of the Union or cut her loose. The status she has now is, frankly, embarassing and unjust.

An Interesting Gorgonopsid Paper

Very interesting paper by Alex Freeman. I was especially intrigued by:

Only one piece of fossilised skin has been found, from the dinocephalian Estemmenosuchus, which shows a smooth, undifferentiated surface bearing no scales or hair follicles. The skin was, however, well supplied with glands, and was probably soft and pliable (Chudinov, 1970, cited in Bennett and Ruben, 1986). The skin may thus have resembled that of a rhinoceros. This suggests that scales may already have been lost in the Gorgonopsia, which diverged from the mammalian line later than Estemmenosuchus.

No scales, no hair, no feathers, just something reminiscent of rhino skin. Interesting. Very interesting. kewl. Author also thinks that it wasn't endothermic based on the bones.

And She's OFF!

I've been a little light on the personal posts for a little while now. We've been so busy that we've not done as much as we would like that is anything other than working on homework and taking care of the day-to-day things: dishes, laundry, etc. The weekend of Mother's Day, that really changed.

For the Saturday before we ended up going down, on invitation, to an uncle's place that I've not been in much contact with. Bairds, well, we're like cats: when we see each other, we make a big deal out of it and fuzz each oher or shriek at each other big time as the case may be. However, out of sight, out of mind. We had a fanastic time. My uncle Bob is a fantastic cook: it's his main hobby. His wife, my Aunt Lynne, is a very kind woman as well. My very fun and relaxed Uncle Bruce was there as well with his two kids, Brian and Halley[1]. Lyuda, Avrora, and I represented the New Mexico Bairds. We brought okroshka and have a demand in the queue for the recipe. It's coming! Promise! But not this week. Why?

Well, the next day was Mother's Day. Lyuda had to study a lot. I had to get a lot of stuff done around the flat. However, Avrora and I made her breakfast in bed and gave her the gift we'd gotten her. The one that she's taking advantage of right now: I bought my wife a cruise down to the Mexican Riveria all by herself. She had been asking if it might be possible to go on a cruise for, well, almost as long as we've been married. One of the biggest problems has been that I can't take off as much as I'd like. That job thing. Annoying, ain't it? Anyways, so, Lyuda busted her rumpus maximus for class this semester and so...I got her a trip to relax all on her own. No Avrora. No me. Just her. Just fun for a week. We took her down to the airport a bit ago. Avrora wasn't too happy, but I prepared. Lyuda flight was at 11 and so I brought back my daughter and we proceeded to snuggle up to watch "Happy Feet", eat some popcorn, sip juice, and munch on bananas. Now, she's napping. With luck, I'll keep her busy through this evening so she won't have time to dwell on "Mommy's not here".

One week. Wish us luck and Lyuda some good fun.

1. Both competitive swimmers. Bairds have a hard time staying away from swimming, reading, German, and the military.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Lyuda's done with classes for this semester!!!


Ok. 3-2-1 RELAX.

She starts summer classes in three weeks, so we have to go back to the grind stone again, but it's only english classes.

More posts next week. Promise. Lots of original content.

A Bit of Absurdity: Was the Destruction of the Deathstar an Inside Job?


This was sent to me by a Mynok.

Got me to laugh at least. Man, mocking can be damned funny.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

If you really want to look!

My current profile of my usenet activity is up there. Enough of you have already looked at my post I linked to down below, so if you're going to look, by all means take a gander at the whole kit and kaboodle.

My previous profile is here. There's more in the archives, but you ought to be smart enough to ge them yourselves.


Dear Media Vultures II

The Maze is fixed.


Thank you.

U.S. Still Perplexed By China ASAT Responses

U.S. diplomatic and military officials remain perplexed and unsatisfied with China's nonexplanatory responses to international protests regarding the Asian giant's January anti-satellite (ASAT) ballistic missile test.

But they appear to be pushing Congress to support increased situational awareness efforts for U.S. space assets first over developing offensive, defensive or even so-called operationally responsive space capabilities, according to several remarks made May 23 on Capitol Hill.

"To date, the United States has not received a satisfactory response to our questions concerning China's motivations for the test, the nature of their pre-test analysis on possible debris and China's plans for additional testing," said Donald Mahley, acting deputy assistant secretary of State for threat reductions, export controls and negotiations.

Further, U.S. officials are not convinced that the whole Chinese regime is unified on the issue, namely the foreign and defense ministries, Mahley testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform national security and foreign affairs subcommittee.

Makes you wonder what weird possible sceanrios could pop up. I don't mean in the sense of warfare, but if the Chinese government is really that fragmented, could there be deeper fissures that lie beneath? I doubt it, but you never know.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Kewl, but...

Kewl. However, I wonder how this could be related to fanfics as a reference to James' discussions lately and the so-called remix culture.

That Funky Cheronbyl Fungal Groove

Some fungi eat radiation to fuel their growth, a new study has found.

Three species of fungi containing the black pigment melanin—a substance also present in human skin—grew larger and faster when exposed to high levels of radiation, even when deprived of nutrients.

A similar response was not seen in fungi lacking the pigment, as well as in fungi that did not receive the radiation exposure.

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at New York's Yeshiva University were inspired by previous observations of enhanced fungus growth inside the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear reactor, after the Ukrainian facility exploded in 1986.

The team performed a series of experiments to test whether the fungi could be harvesting radiation to fuel their own growth, much like plants do when they capture solar energy through photosynthesis.

In addition to the faster fungal growth, the researchers noted changes in the electrical structure of the melanin exposed to radiation.

Lead researcher Ekaterina Dadachova said these observations suggest that the pigment may play a role similar to that of chlorophyll in plants, which traps energy from sunlight and converts it to "food energy" needed to sustain life.

"We have associated the faster growth caused by radiation with melanin—a phenomenon suggesting that the pigment is somehow involved in harvesting high-energy ionizing radiation and promoting growth, she said.

THis might be completely irrelevant. The end times ecologies could be damned interesting and post phytic. kewl! Even kewler if they could develop into very large macroscopic structures.

Is that a Potato in Your Tank?

he hydrogen economy is not a futuristic concept. The U.S. Department of Energy's 2006 Advance Energy Initiative calls for competitive ethanol from plant sources by 2012 and a good selection of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles by 2020.

Researchers at Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the University of Georgia propose using polysaccharides, or sugary carbohydrates, from biomass to directly produce low-cost hydrogen for the new hydrogen economy.

According to the DOE, advances are needed in four areas to make hydrogen fuel an economical reality for transportation – production, storage, distribution, and fuel cells. Most industrial hydrogen currently comes from natural gas, which has become expensive. Storing and moving the gas, whatever its source, is costly and cumbersome, and even dangerous. And there is little infrastructure for refueling a vehicle.

"We need a simple way to store and carry hydrogen energy and a simple process to produce hydrogen, said Y.-H. Percival Zhang, assistant professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech.

Using synthetic biology approaches, Zhang and colleagues Barbara R. Evans and Jonathan R. Mielenz of ORNL and Robert C. Hopkins and Michael W.W. Adams of the University of Georgia are using a combination of 13 enzymes never found together in nature to completely convert polysaccharides (C6H10O5) and water into hydrogen when and where that form of energy is needed. This "synthetic enzymatic pathway"research appears in the May 23 issue of PLoS ONE, the online, open-access journal from the Public Library of Science (

Polysaccharides like starch and cellulose are used by plants for energy storage and building blocks and are very stable until exposed to enzymes. Just add enzymes to a mixture of starch and water and "the enzymes use the energy in the starch to break up water into only carbon dioxide and hydrogen,"Zhang said.

A membrane bleeds off the carbon dioxide and the hydrogen is used by the fuel cell to create electricity. Water, a product of that fuel cell process, will be recycled for the starch-water reactor. Laboratory tests confirm that it all takes place at low temperature -- about 86 degrees F -- and atmospheric pressure.

The vision is for the ingredients to be mixed in the fuel tank of your car, for instance. A car with an approximately 12-gallon tank could hold 27 kilograms (kg) of starch, which is the equivalent of 4 kg of hydrogen. The range would be more than 300 miles, Zhang estimates. One kg of starch will produce the same energy output as 1.12 kg (0.38 gallons) of gasoline.

dude. Wow.

Okay. Seriousness time and political advocacy aside, this tech has a long ways to go. However, the idea that we drive over to a station and fill up with, oh, corn starch or potato starch is just plain amusing. I am sure that we can make the enzymes cheaper through one of the biotech companies going fullbore with a recombinant bacteria or yeast.

Hey, Carlos, what do you know/think on this one?

Brown Dwarf with Jets

Jets of matter have been discovered around a very low mass 'failed star', mimicking a process seen in young stars. This suggests that these 'brown dwarfs' form in a similar manner to normal stars but also that outflows are driven out by objects as massive as hundreds of millions of solar masses down to Jupiter-sized objects.

The brown dwarf with the name 2MASS1207-3932 is full of surprises [1]. Its companion, a 5 Jupiter-mass giant, was the first confirmed exoplanet for which astronomers could obtain an image (see ESO 23/04 and 12/05), thereby opening a new field of research - the direct detection of alien worlds. It was then later found (see ESO 19/06) that the brown dwarf has a disc surrounding it, not unlike very young stars.

Now, astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have found that the young brown dwarf is also spewing jets, a behaviour again quite similar to young stars.

This ought to have some interesting implications for anyone looking to place a habitable world around a BD.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Petascale Systems Integration into Large Scale Facilties workshop

I didn't get to go to this. I really wanted to, but, unfortunately, work and life conspired against me. My wife has finals this week and she needed me home pronto to take care of our daughter and cook, etc, so she could study. Also I was on rotation from last Tuesday until today. Bleh.

There was some discussion of the workshop after the fact and there was a sense of disappointment wrt to it because there was a lot of 'the problems we're going to face are the problems that we have been' at least as far as integration into existing sites. One of the anecdotes though that was related back to me was what was done for LLNL and their petascale system. They have a multiple hundred million dollar budget for it and they are supposed to get 30 megawatts - yes, thirty fscking megawatts - as an upgrade to their building for HPC systems. The whole East SF Bay, so goes that same source, is only 90 megawatts in usage now. Now, as an exercise, start scaling up for that 500 petaflop system that the climatologist quoted in that presentation I mention now and again. um, yeah, can you say very dedicated power source?

Another anecdote that was related, and I think you, Horst, are the source (if you're reading) - was that with the vast numbers of processors that petascale systems are going to be - and MPP doesn't even begin to describe it! We're talking 100s of 1000s here - the equivalent would be like programming the old 68k line processors from Motorola and programming such that you tell each and every transistor when it should expect a one or zero by hand. Possible, marginally, but insanely inefficient for effective and timely coding. The current models for coding parallel programs will have to be dumped. There were few, according to my source, suggestions on how to go about it. Even though systems on that scale are rapidly approaching. (Sorry if I mangled your analogy, Horst, feel free to correct).

Thoughts of managing such a system with a 99.99% reliability with 100s of 1000s of processors just gives me a headache even thinking about it. 10 nodes down and requiring a sysadmin to work on them at any given time.

Anyone that intends on talking to me about the Pending Singularity better be ready to be giggled at as far as I am concerned.

No F-22 Raptor for Japan...because of China?

Pro-China officials in the White House and Pentagon are quietly undermining Japan's request to buy 50 advanced F-22 jet fighter-bombers, to avoid upsetting Beijing's government, according to U.S. officials familiar with the dispute.

Japan's Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma made a formal request to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates earlier this month for classified technical data on the jet, as a first step toward a purchase.

The Japanese view the advanced warplane as a key element of a military modernization needed to counter current missile threats from North Korea and a longer-term threat from China.

Air Force officials and defense industry officials, however, said officials at the National Security Council and within the office of the secretary of defense are opposing the sale, and plan to delay acting on Japan's request until after a September deadline, when Tokyo will then be forced to look for other jets to upgrade its aging aircraft arsenal.


China opposes F-22 sales since the ultra-modern fighter-bomber can carry large numbers of precision guided bombs, can hit targets at long ranges, and has anti-radar stealth that can evade all of China's air defenses.

Both the Air Force and the F-22 manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Corp., favor building an export version of the F-22 to reduce unit costs, now estimated to be around $150 million per jet, and to bolster the alliance with Japan. South Korea, Australia and Israel also are interested in buying the F-22.

The export version would require a lot more money because they have to downgrade individual systems a nontrivial amount, so there is some question whether or not there would really be a savings through economies of scale. SO! These may be some spinning by LockMart et al going on here because they want more sales. OTOH, there very well may be some work by the PRC friendly types in the administration to ixnay this. The reason being that Japan with true stealth aircraft would be about as popular with other Asian nations as Japan with carriers.

Monday, May 21, 2007


- Bold the ones you’ve read
- Italicize the ones you want to read
- Leave unaltered the ones that you aren’t interested in or haven’t heard of

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (JRR Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (JRR Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (JRR Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (JK Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (JK Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (JK Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (JRR Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (George Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (JK Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
68. Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
69. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
70. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
71. Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
72. Shogun (James Clavell)
73. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
74. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
75. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
76. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
77. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
78. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
79. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
80. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
81. Of Mice And Men (John Steinbeck)
82. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
83. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
84. Emma (Jane Austen)
85. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
86. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
87. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
88. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
89. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
90. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
91. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
92. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
93. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
94. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
95. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
96. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
97. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
98. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
99. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Hell! it's About Time!

As you might guess, I am here at work on rotation for a problem on one of our machines. Hopefully I'll be leaving here momentarily and heading home after I get confirmation from IBM that they have received the data collect and that they will have someone out to replace the part. However I noticed an email from a friend about one of the computer games that I used to obsess over ten years ago. It's a game that was damned fun, but it had serious consequences for some friends and but for the grace of god, I didn't join them.

The Dragon's Tales gets its name from the screen name that I used for gaming: I was Dragon[ka] and ended up being pretty damned good at Starcraft. I found that I had an absolutely useless talent for Real-time strategy games. It wasn't the only one that I played and was good at: Total Annihilation, Red Alert, Age of Empires, and the culmination and last game that I would play extensively before my marriage was Empire Earth. I was very good at EE, but Starcraft was pretty much my favourite though.

I always played Terran. I was never a siege tank terror or anything like that. I had two tactics that I became infamous for. The first was the Opposed Drop: I'd max out on marines and dropships, fly in right over the enemy base, and UNLOAD and stim the crap out of my marines. With medics. Tres carnage. The tactic that ended up evolving as the end game was the Battlecruiser rush. I cranked BCs faster than anyone that I ever knew. Others would try. Damned if they didn't try. Heh. I was noted for being very aggressive in the game and also being The Cockroach. If you didn't outgiht kill me, I was NOT out of the game at all.

I had one friend that he and his wife used to play SC extensively say that said, "We have this game down to a science. It used to be an exact science until Dragon [moi] showed up with his fucking BCs." (Loved ya too, Noah!) Later on, the game would devolve down to a slug fest between Mynok and myself. It really was a lot of fun. It also ate a hell of a lot of time.

The event that I repeatedly call my "But for the Grace of God" Moment happens to be the fiasco of Bnetd. One of the main developers on it, Ross, was my best man at my first wedding. I had originally planned on writing some code for bnetd myself to help with the enhancements. The whole section in the code for statistics was based off of ideas that I related back to Ross (and I am sure were enhanced after the fact). Originally, I was going to do it, but as the greater personal events of the time period unfolded and my new job out at HELSTF ate my time I didn't have the time or inclination to code for fun at that juncture. Just because of that, I avoided getting my ass sued off by a vindictive, asinine Blizzard.

I used to have an extraordinarily ambitious asshole inside me. He was tempered by the shocking losses - a divorce, multiple suicides - that rattled my world just prior to the release of Starcraft. I was knocked on my ass - bad - and my faith in myself knocked down pretty hard. For those of you that knew me during that period from 1997 to 1999, you know of what I speak. Some wounds, no matter how long the time passes, never heal. These won't, but I've grown and grown much stronger since then.

On Saturday, a very good friend and old roomie emailed me that Blizzard had announced Starcraft 2. The timing couldn't have been more appropriate.

Something happened on Friday that shook me up. I had a nasty surprise at work and it was not of the positive sort: something that I thought I had received back in January turned out to have been a typo (!!! WTF?!). I found out through other paperwork that I needed get done for something else the reality of the situation. I was first shocked and a bit depressed. Then it grew to some damned serious anger. With some patient counsel from my wife and my daughter's laughter, I have calmed down, chilled out, and put it into some perspective.

It made me realize that I had been getting a bit too complacent. I had been taking more time to get certain projects underway that I should have moved faster: nothing hurt me, just didn't get done what I wanted. I have certain things that I want to accomplish before I leave NERSC. I have two papers that are in various states of completion. I have a new project (and associated papers to get underway and coupler code) to get launched and its a doozie. I also have a pair of clusters that I need to completely revamp in the process. And some records to break. My mark to leave here and upon HPC. That's not all. I have projects outside of work - ones that will facilitate me leaving here and even transitioning to a new field eventually - and others that have been simmering and cooking slowly with almost glacial progress.

Enough. If this were an RTS, I'd say it was long past time for a multifront assault upon reality.

Rage. Rage. Rage. RAGE. Rage can be a constructive emotion. Anger makes a good fire to temper a very sharp sword. The Beast consumes. This rage, this beast awoke the ambitious asshole. His only comment was

"Hell! It's about time. It's about gawddamn, fucking time!"

Friday, May 18, 2007

That Future Biotic World Building Exercise

Basic TL:
Hadean Æon -4500 to -3800 Million Years

Archæn Æon -3800 to -2500 Million Years

Proterozoic Æon
Vendian Period -600 to -542 Million Years

Phanerozoic Æon
Paleozoic Era -542 to -251 Million Years
Mesozoic Era -251 to -65 Million Years
Cenozoic Era -65 to +130 Million Years
Nothezoic Era +130 to +630 Million Years
Postnothozoic Era +630 to +1080 Million Years

Postmarian Æon
Macrozoic Era +1080 to + 1530 Million Years
Microzoic Era +1530 to +1890 Million Years

Paravenerian Æon +1890 to +5500 Million Years

Fornaxian Æon +5500 to +5567 Million Years

Cinisian Æon 5567 Million Years +

Any comments? Questions? This is a group work, but Seth Deitch set out the basics first.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Giant Salamander

Another Yalta Accord?!

Russia's present confrontation with the West, unlike the Cold War standoff, covers not only military and political issues, but also economic and financial ones. During the Cold War Russo-U.S. summits were grand events that centered on nuclear arms control and often effectively defused East-West tensions on many issues. Nowadays summits are not that effective. Attempts to solve problems the old way -- by trying to revitalize Russo-U.S. nuclear arms control -- do not help to clear other obstacles.

The joint visits to Moscow by Rice and Steinmeier did not and could not do much. At least everyone, including the Russians, put on a brave face and pretended that it is still business as usual and that the problems between Russia and the West are not as bad as they are.

Separately the United States and the EU cannot bridge the present East-West rift. The EU cannot do much about planed U.S. missile defense deployments in Europe. Nor is Washington too concerned about Russian plans to scrap CFE, since the Pentagon has installed a superb intelligence-gathering network that gives it more information about the Russian military than the CFE confidence-building regime of notification and onsite inspection. Of course, the Pentagon does not share much of its intelligence with European allies. European states have been shocked by the apparent sudden end of CFE, while Washington is much more concerned about Iraq, Iran, and the situation in, say, Georgia.

Last week in Brussels Russia's chief of the General Staff, General Yuri Baluyevsky, told NATO generals the Russian Defense and Foreign Ministry lawyers are working on ways to implement President Vladimir Putin's declaration of a "moratorium" on CFE observance (RIA-Novosti, May 10). In fact Russian diplomats say openly that Putin's CFE "moratorium" is a legal impossibility and only a formal abrogation is possible (see EDM, May 2). At present officials do not know what to do next and are waiting for additional guidance from the Kremlin.

For the Kremlin the CFE and most other multiple issues that today wreck relations with the West are not, in fact, decisive. Russia is today reasserting itself and wants a new grand pact with the West, something like the Yalta accord of 1945, that would clearly delineate Russia’s new sphere of imperial influence in Europe and Asia, with the West assuring noninterference within that zone. Today even if the West would want to make such a deal, there is no legal framework within which to negotiate.

Another Yalta Accord?! uh. No. And I am unsure that is exactly what the Russians are seeking, truthfully.

A Future Evolution TL

Over at the Alternate Evolution Yahoo Group - the only one I am in - we've started putting together a TL of future evolution. We're going through the whole background bit first. Drawing up the eras, the continental drift, etc. Then we'll tackle the actual biological evolution. Hopefully, it won't either fizzle or get hung up on arguments between members. I'd be one of those that could lock horns of certain things (*cough* mammals eating the eggs of dinosaurs stuff *cough*).

Come read or participate.

Asia Saves US? Or Dooms Us?

Asian desert dust and city pollution is swirling in vast plumes across the Pacific to North America, interacting with storms and possibly spurring climate change, an airborne scientist said on Tuesday.


Ice crystals are found in extremely cold clouds, and when the crystals are composed entirely of frozen water, they reflect lots of sunlight -- that's why these clouds look so white, Ramanathan said by telephone after the Web chat.

However, if particles of dust and a dark pollutant known as black carbon managed to get inside the crystals, these clouds might absorb more solar energy rather than reflecting it all, Ramanathan said.

One World. One Atmosphere. ;)

A Very Harsh OpEd

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s opinions about the country he rules should not be viewed in isolation by anyone interested in Ukraine or the EU. First and foremost it must be stressed that his neo-Soviet Party of Regions is not a “normal” political party in a “normal” state.

It is a restorationist party that seeks to prevent the democratization of a de facto “post-colonial” state, and to keep it subordinated to its former ruler. Should it succeed the EU would have to face the prospect of an unstable eastern border.

While the party formally supports “Eurointegration” – just as Putin supports the Eurointegration of Russia – it has not explicitly stated that it stands for for “EU membership for Ukraine.” Yanukovych’s public statements in various EU countries, therefore, cannot be taken seriously until this commitment is clearly stated in his party’s program.

Given this omission there is every reason to believe that as soon as it manages to create a majority by dubious methods in the Verkhovna Rada, it will first incorporate Ukraine into Russia's Single Economic Space and the, and only then, via Russia, “integrate into Europe” – presumably just like Belarus.

That's perhaps a little stronger than the reality, at least in my not so humble opinion. He seems more interested in just holding onto power for himself and his cronies than anything else.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Anyone else think...

...that this thing looks like a trilobite?


The paleo post is delayed because i am on rotation and having oh-so-much fun. It's also impacting any chance of getting out a Byzantine WI on SHWI: Totila, Soldier of Rome.

Antarctica's Melting Snow (see Map Below)

DOE Calls For Supercomputing Proposals

This is how you get on our machines with a LARGE allocation and priority for use. If you have the ability, propose!

Covered in Hot! Solid! Water!

An odd planet the size of Neptune, made mostly of hot, solid water, has been discovered not far from Earth and offers evidence that other planets may be covered with oceans, European astronomers reported on Wednesday.

Called GJ 436b, the planet orbits quickly around a cool, red star just 30 light-years away, the team at the Geneva Observatory said.

"It's not a very welcoming planet," Frederic Pont, an astronomer who helped make the discovery, said in a telephone interview. The planet is hot because it is near its star and under high pressure because of its mass.

"The water is frozen by the pressure but it's hot. It's a bit strange -- we are used to water changing conditions because of temperature, but in fact water can also be solidified by pressure," Pont said.

The planet is also likely blanketed by hydrogen, the researchers said -- conditions hardly conducive to life. But if there is water, there could be water on other planets in other solar systems and thus life as we know it.

"It shows there are many ocean planets," Pont said.

The universe continues to surprise and delight.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I Hate...

Getting Stuck on stuff that ought to be obvious crap. bah.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Paleo Post Coming

It'll have to be on Monday though. I'm a little too busy right now.

Climate change threatens California water supply

California's tallest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada, may lose nearly all its snowpack by the end of the century, threatening a water crisis in the nation's most populous state, a leading scientist and Nobel laureate said.

California could lose 30 percent to 70 percent of the snowpack to the ills of greenhouse gases and global warming, Steven Chu, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the 1997 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, told Reuters.

A "bad scenario" of atmospheric carbon could mean the loss of 70 percent to 93 percent, Chu said in an interview, citing published climate models.

Desalinization is an industry to invest in then!

ESA Shooting To Launch Jules Verne ATV Mid-Nov.

European Space Agency (ESA) managers are working toward a mid-November launch date for the first flight of the new Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to the International Space Station (ISS), following a meeting between ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and NASA Administrator Mike Griffin late last month.

The ATV "Jules Verne" mission is contingent on NASA's space shuttle resuming ISS assembly with the STS-117 mission in June, as well as completion of tests on the 20-ton robotic cargo vehicle in time for it to be shipped to the European launch facility in French Guiana in July for launch on Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket.

Let's hear it for Russianless unmanned resupply! HUZZAH!

demography matters: US-CanadaDifferent

The answer to the title of this post is that one can categorically state that Canada and the US have radically different demographic situations. What then, are the implications of this difference? I suspect that Canadians who are aware of these facts must be somewhat uneasy about the relationship between Canada and the US. Living next to a country that dwarfs yours by most criteria means that a careful balance in relations must be managed. On the other hand, US growth represents export opportunities for Canadian businesses and Canadian economic policy ought to steer toward export-oriented industries. Of course, just about every other country in the world is dependent on exports to the US for economic growth, so this could be problematic for Canada.

I wonder what Canadians think of this...

There Go the Nerves!

She REALLY likes motorcycles. I am in deep doo. oy!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bats Beat Birds

The sophisticated analysis looked at bats in a wind tunnel to uncover the key differences between how mammals and birds stay aloft.

Bats turn out to have a high degree of control over the ever-changing shape of their wings, said study leader Anders Hedenström, an ecologist at Sweden's Lund University.

The animals can therefore generate lift as their wings move both up and down—a big advantage when hovering.

The bats' trick resembles the way each rotor on a helicopter generates lift whether it's moving forward or backward, Hedenström pointed out.

By contrast, he said, birds' wings are optimally designed to generate lift on their downstroke, and they can "feather" their wings—spreading their feathers like the slats of Venetian blinds—to reduce drag on the upstroke.

Hedenström's findings, which appear in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science, agree with results that Brown University's Sharon Swartz and Kenny Breuer published in January.

"Aerodynamic forces generated by bat wings during flight are far more complicated than those of birds," said Swartz, an evolutionary biologist.

Birds' wings operate almost as if they were airplane wings on hinges. By comparison, "bat wings are more flexible," she said. "The materials—the skin and bone—are more stretchy. The bones actually bend when the bat is flying.

"At slower speeds, flexible wings seem to have advantages."

Bats, birds, and pterosaurs all had radically different flight techniques. Amazing, ain't it? That is to do the same thing with the same basic body plan they all come up with different answers based on the same concept. Nature's pretty cool.

Dean: Recruit the Evangelicals!

Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean - who once drew criticism by dismissing the GOP as a "white Christian party'' -- told a San Francisco audience that his party should open its arms to a new group of converts: young evangelical Christian voters.

"We ought to reach out to those folks ... and not be afraid,'' Dean told an audience of about 125 at a $50-a head Democratic National Committee fundraiser Wednesday night at the Palace Hotel. The national party chairman noted that in the wake of the 2006 midterm election, nearly 30 percent of evangelical Christians now identify themselves as Democratic voters, up 10 percentage points from the previous election.

Take them. Take them all. You can have them! After all they did great things for the Republican Party, right?

13.2 Billion Year Old Star Found

hm. Interesting. Congratz to the Euros, first off. Secondly, does this have an impact on the population groupings?

FCS UAV To Arrive Early

The Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) has performed so well in tests with the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii that Future Combat Systems programmers hope to accelerate the development of the 40-pound, vertical-lift UAV.

“With the hover and stare capability, the MAV is so good we want to bring it [to the warzone] earlier than planned,” said Col. Charles Bush, director of FCS’ Future Forces division.

The MAV is slated to field by 2010, but FCS official want to move it into the group of Spinout 1 technologies for 2008 — long before the 2015 deployment of a full FCS Brigade Combat Team.

Equipped with videocameras and infrared sensors, the soldier-controlled, three-foot-long MAV will show troops live video of enemy positions on the other side of a hill, Bush said. One soldier can backpack the MAV vehicle and its ground gear, which include controls and a display screen.

First, an unworthy comment: what an unfortunate name for the Colonel. Second, how can they call it a micro anything at 40 lbs!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Twice Fried Soup

My wife and daughter love soups. They love them a lot more than I do. Don't get me wrong, I like a good soup as much as the next guy, but my tastes tend to be rather simple compared to theirs. I like a good tomato soup (maybe with rice) or a cream of mushroom or a good, good cheddar soup. There are a few exceptions and they are the product of my wife: borscht and rosolnik, frex. However, the other members of my immediate household completely disagree. They like something that's an affair to make! Lots of love, passion, energy, and angst. A good example is Avrora's Soup. Another was what I ended up cooking up this weekend.

This one is actually a two stage soup that breaks in the middle into two different soups for different tastes. The Twice Fried label was really for the soup I made for my wife.

8 chicken thighs, washed with bone in.
1/4 poblano pepper
1/4 habenero pepper
1 yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, fresh
fresh cilantro
garlic powder (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)
salt (to taste)
2 lemons
1 1/2 cups rice
2 cups frozen corn

First fill very large kettle with water and set to boil with chicken thighs. Add garlic powder, black pepper, salt, diced fresh cilantro (to taste) and a pat of butter. Boil until meat all but falls off the bones. Remove chicken from soup, debone, shred meat and turn to kettle which ought to be reduced to lightly boiling now.

Take poblano and dice finely. Take half onion and likewise dice. Place a frying pan on burner and heat. No oil or butter. When frying pan is very hot, turn on fan (!!!), and drop poblano on. Actively stir. When slightly blackened, add onion, caramelize that. Then crush two garlic cloves into the mix. When nicely fried, squeeze two lemons over the concoction. Then add a pat of butter and fry a bit more. Then ladle in twice broth from the soup. Pour back into the kettle.

Remove 1/3 of broth and 1/3 of chicken thigh meat. Place in separate pot. Bring to a simmer. In original kettle, add rice and corn. Let simmer until rice is cooked. Then turn to low.

Dice habenaro pepper very finely. Dice rest of onion. Heat frying pan again. Drop in habenaro pieces after having turned back on the fan and this time to high. Blacken slightly. Add onion. Caramelize. Add rest of garlic cloves crushed. Fry some more. Squeeze lemon over frying bits. Add butter after lemon juice has evaporated. Ladle in broth from smaller pot. Pour into smaller pot and bring to a hard boil. If you want, add a little more lemon juice here. Let cool and serve.

All of this takes time, hours actually, so don't think you can just jump in and do this quickly. This is Plan Ahead Food.

NASA study suggests extreme summer warming in the future

A new study by NASA scientists suggests that greenhouse-gas warming may raise average summer temperatures in the eastern United States nearly 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the 2080s.

"There is the potential for extremely hot summertime temperatures in the future, especially during summers with less-than-average frequent rainfall," said lead author Barry Lynn of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University, New York.

The research found that eastern U.S. summer daily high temperatures that currently average in the low-to-mid-80s (degrees Fahrenheit) will most likely soar into the low-to-mid-90s during typical summers by the 2080s. In extreme seasons – when precipitation falls infrequently – July and August daily high temperatures could average between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit in cities such as Chicago, Washington, and Atlanta.

To reach their conclusions, the researchers analyzed nearly 30 years of observational temperature and precipitation data and also used computer model simulations that considered soil, atmospheric, and oceanic conditions and projected changes in greenhouse gases. The simulations were produced using a widely-used weather prediction model coupled to a global model developed by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The global model, one of the models used in the recently issued climate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was utilized in this study to identify future changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns due to the build up of greenhouse gases. This information was then fed into the weather prediction model to forecast summer-to-summer temperature variability in the eastern United States during the 2080s.

The weather model showed that extreme summertime surface temperatures developed when carbon dioxide emissions were assumed to continue to increase about two percent a year, the "business as usual" scenario. These findings are too recent to be included in the latest IPCC report.

This is NY. This is NY on Global Warming! Any questions?

First Map of an Extrasolar Planet

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

HEY! You In The EU! The Big Bad Bear Is Back!

Russia’s ongoing political offensive against Estonia -- and implicit challenge to the European Union -- constitutes the first serious attempt to reverse the post-1991 status quo in Europe. Moscow seems to be targeting Estonia as a first test case of such a process.

Further Russian challenges to the existing European order are likely to ensue if European governments and institutions tolerate, as seems mostly to be the case thus far, the assault on Estonia.

Oy. It seems that either the EU doesn't collective see what's going on or that I am overly paranoid. OTOH, the Europeans only have limited numbers of relatives on the border of Russia in lands that Russia seeks the play revanchist with. The funny part is that this is easily negated if the EU would just act in a coordinated manner. Oh. Wait. Sorry.

Why Global Warming is Inevitable

Chinese officials recently have stated that China will not accept any binding limits on its emissions until at least 2050. Instead, they have cited the government's plan to achieve relative improvements by reducing the amount of energy expended per unit of economic output by 20 percent by 2010. But China has made little progress toward that goal since it was adopted two years ago. Last week, the Chinese government released data showing that electricity consumption by residential, commercial and industrial sectors -- a key barometer of emissions -- rose by 15 percent in the first three months of this year on a year-to-year basis.

The US is the current and future bad guy in the political circles. We're just plain unpopular in oh-so-many ways these days. One of them is wrt to global warming and the emission of green house gases. We're the largest emitter and have been historically. We get bashed on repeatedly, fairly or not, for that. However, the US will shortly not be the worst offender.

China was originally projected to overtake the US in the late 2010s as the worst emitter of green house gases according to past reports. However, it's now evident that China will over take the US in a couple years at most. As China converges with the US and West in general for per capita wealth, it's emissions will go radically up just based on its overwhelmingly larger population. Additionally, China has vowed to not do anything binding for its emissions for another four decades! If it's emissions scale linearly with the economic output by China - and they probably don't btw - we will see around 22 times the CO2 output of the US by then just by China! Then there's India.

India's carbon dioxide emissions are not as great as Russia's, as yet, but sometime in the next ten years will be and make it the third greatest contributor. If the Indian economy grows and even puts out half the CO2 per capita as America does, then there is going to be a huge problem just based on the massive population.

With the fact that three of the four worst contributors to green house gas emissions is unwilling to regulate those emissions, and that even with the propaganda/informational campaign here in the US making good progress to convince the public that global warming is a serious threat, the rise of India and China in an unregulated fashion will simply overwhelm any net reduction by the USA.

Face it, folks! Global warming is inevitable. It's time to adapt, not to pretend we can stop the juggernaut. We just changed the world. It's not the call of doom. It's not the end of the world. It is just changing and we're the cause. We can make it a lot worse, but denying it, claiming that if we simply mumble the right incantations, will make it better is delusional at best.

UC Wins Contract to Run LLNL

Not a big surprise after the fact that they got to keep the LANL contract.

Islands are Not (Only) Destinations

Analysis of bat DNA published in Journal of Biogeography reveal that several neotropical species descended from ancestors that evolved in the West Indies, and this pattern is consistent with fossils found throughout the region. As the culmination in the study of several independent bat groups, this article shows that reverse colonization is a feature of the entire Caribbean bat community, encompassing groups of bats as different from each other as aerial insectivores, nectarivores, and frugivores.

The evolution of Caribbean bats suggests that far from being isolated destinations, the West Indies have had a dynamic, two-way relationship with the Americas, exchanging species back and forth at different points in their geological history. This discovery further enhances the conservation importance of the West Indies, where habitat loss and climate change —embodied in the intensification of hurricanes— threaten natural habitats more acutely than on the continent.

They did that with birds too. Makes you wonder if there weren't times in the past where islands were the isolating element and then when fortune, geology or climate intervened, terrestrial tetrapods were reintroduced to the mainlands, but changed.

COROT Could Detect Earth-Sized Planets

Initial imagery from France's COROT planet finding probe suggest the spacecraft may be capable of detecting extrasolar planets equivalent in size to our own.

French space agency CNES said on May 3 that COROT (Convection, Rotation and planetary Transits), launched on Dec. 27, had provided the first image of a giant planet orbiting a star in another solar system - a yellow dwarf in the direction of the constellation Unicorn some 1,500 light years from Earth. The planet, named COROT-Exo-1b, is a gas giant with a radius 1.78 times that of Jupiter, and 1.3 times more massive, with an orbital period of 1.5 days.


Monday, May 07, 2007

USAF's Next Bomber Again

As the ground war in Iraq continues, the U.S. Air Force's plan to look beyond counter-insurgencies toward a future bomber may be a hard sell in Washington.

A Pentagon and Capitol Hill--distracted with the path ahead in Iraq--may deem discussion of a new bomber to thwart adversaries in North Korea or possibly China, premature. USAF is beginning to make its case for the system. Against this political backdrop, however, the service is walking another fine line: explaining why it is seemingly playing it safe on the bomber's requirements.

The decision to keep a pilot in the bomber's cockpit has generated discussions centering on why the Air Force's options for a future bomber became as limited as they are and how to proceed with technology efforts in this mission area.

I can't help but wonder if we're not missing an opportunity here. We need to be able to hit anywhere in the world very, very fast and to have a bomb truck with very long staying power on site for strikes. These need not be the same platform. However, in either case there seems to be little point in using the platform being described. Ah well.

Inspired By James: The Flamboyant Cuttlefish

We watched Nova's presentation on the Cuttlefish the other day. When we saw the Flamboyant Cuttlefish's segment, there was an off-hand comment that based on the fact that these things are terrible swimmers, but good, if poisonous, walkers that someday they might evolve to the point where they move onto land. This has been posited a few times by various future evolution types. The fact that anything FC derived came onto land and the poison aspect was preserved it'd be a damned hard thing to stop them coming out and saying 'hi'.

People Anthropomorphize Anything

The Washington Post has an article about how people, especially soldiers, interact with robots they are assigned. In some cases, it gets rather extreme. It annoys me some. It also amuses me more because we do it here at work with the big HPC machines. It also cheers me that, perhaps, just perhaps, we won't be fighting one of those cliched wars between Man and Machine when AI finally comes about.

Climate Change: Theory vs Reality


Recent Climate Observations Compared to Projections
Stefan Rahmstorf,1 Anny Cazenave,2 John A. Church,3 James E. Hansen,4 Ralph F. Keeling,5 David E. Parker,6 Richard C. J. Somerville5

We present recent observed climate trends for carbon dioxide concentration, global mean air temperature, and global sea level, and we compare these trends to previous model projections as summarized in the 2001 assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC scenarios and projections start in the year 1990, which is also the base year of the Kyoto protocol, in which almost all industrialized nations accepted a binding commitment to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The data available for the period since 1990 raise concerns that the climate system, in particular sea level, may be responding more quickly to climate change than our current generation of models indicates.

1 Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, 14482 Potsdam, Germany.
2 Laboratoire d'Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales, 31400 Toulouse, France.
3 Marine and Atmospheric Research and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Hobart Tasmania, 7001, Australia.
4 NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, NY 10025, USA.
5 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
6 Hadley Centre, Met Office, Exeter EX1 3PB, UK.

Let's repeat this:

The data available for the period since 1990 raise concerns that the climate system, in particular sea level, may be responding more quickly to climate change than our current generation of models indicates.

Oh. Joy.

Melting of Greenland Likely to Impact Atlantic Currents

According to a revision article published in Science, ocean circulation during the last ice age was very different to present day circulation. The formation of deep water currents in the North Atlantic was much weaker and the flow of warm water from the Gulf Stream decreased. This led to a cooling of the northern hemisphere and contributed to the formation of the great ice caps which covered North America, Scandinavia and Europe.

In a similar study, the marine sediments of the North Atlantic were observed in order to document the sequence of events that led to that disturbance. The melting caused a significant decrease in the Gulf Stream, which transports warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to the North. This submerged the region of the North Atlantic into a period of glacial cold which lasted at least 1,200 years.

Nevertheless, the slowing down of the ocean circulation in the North Atlantic began about 700 to 1,200 years before this great melting of the ice caps and the subsequent flow of fresh water into the ocean took place. The very first stage of this change coincided with brief and isolated periods of melting of the small British Ice Sheet (BIS). The authors of the study have come to this conclusion from an observation of the fine layers of sediment (formed by grains of quartz) coming from successive waves of icebergs which, when they melted dumped their load of sediments onto the sea bed. These icebergs came from the edges of the ice which surround and stabilised the BIS.

These results show that the disturbances caused by melting may in turn cause substantial changes in ocean circulation without the need for a catastrophic dumping of fresh water. This seems to indicate that an acceleration in the melting of the Greenland ice cap, could, in fact, play a key role in the future stability of ocean circulation and climate change in the whole North Atlantic region.

Some of this was already known. That the British Icecap had this effect is interesting. It might suggest postponing buying lots in Greenland. It might get mighty cold in the North Atlantic for a while while the rest of the world roasts.

Ah, the chaotic climate! Never a more fickle mistress!

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Yushchenko Comeback?

Once seen as a lame duck, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko now is out-maneuvering the Anti-Crisis coalition (ACC) and the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. During the last week the president has reappointed Syatoslav Piskun as prosecutor, removed the deputy head of the Constitutional Court and a second member of the Court by presidential decree, and appointed a loyalist, Stepan Havrysh, to the Court. He also issued a decree rescheduling early parliamentary elections from May 27 to June 24 (see EDM, May 3).

FWIW, Yanukovich agreed to the elections today always. The article above notes that the only nation that has been actively 'helping' in the crisis has been Russia and it is against the polling taking place. It has been vocal about this and some Russian commentators have been talking about annexing Ukraine. I can't help think that this has backfired again on Russia's local allies.

Interesting times.

The Debate Last Night

I haven't finished watching it. I have it tivoed and I am half way through. I'll go backa nd watch it all again with my wife. Two impressions I couldn't shake nor put a finger on why I had them:
Huckabee reminded me of Nixon and Gilmore of Lyndon B Johnson.
I am not sure why.

Candidates have started taking negative points, but none came across with positive ones so far. I wish I'd not missed the Demobrat debate so I could compare it to the Repugnant one.

Older. Uglier, Cuter, and Always Stunningly Beautiful

This is a little dated, but not one most of you have seen. More photos in the near future.

Introducing the Lowery's!

Jason has been a friend for a long time. He's exceedingly smart and a fun guy. He was part of the crew that I hung out with in SoNM: if you want to talk rockets, boomski stuff, and the like he's da guy. I've met Jason's wife Tracy once and she was a very sweet woman. I've yet to meet little Logan. He and his lovely wife have set up a blog about their kidlet, life, etc. I'm adding them to the blogroll and introducing them to you all.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Oz's Largest Dino

"They are titanosaurs, which are plant-eating dinosaurs with extremely long necks and tails, massive bodies and elephant-like legs," Queensland state's Arts Minister Rod Welford said.

He said titanosaurs had also been found in South America and North Africa, which along with Australia once formed the super-continent Gondwana.

kewl. Also interesting because if the dicynodont fossil remains Cretaceous (ie not reworked), then we have a very different and interesting - and not so isolated - ecology in Gondwana than in Laurasia (ie the current NorAm). Someone needs to run through and find a very good terrestrial KT boundary in Gondwana.

USAFs New Bomber

The U.S. Air Force's long-range strike aircraft set to be deployed by 2018 will be subsonic and manned, said Brig. Gen. Mark Matthews, director of plans and programs, headquarters, Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.

There's talk it'll carry a HEL too. AvWeek also has a defense blog and Bill Sweetman has a post about this. Please treat that post with salt grains. He's made more than a few claims on Aurora, etc. that have been questionable.

Supercontinents Might Be Their Own Worst Enemy

Earth's mega-volcanic eruptions may be the direct result of mega continents getting in the way.

A new computer simulation that looks at how heat moves out from the center of our planet confirms the idea that the supercontinent Pangea could have acted like a thermal dam to that heat flow.

Might be a bit misplaced chronologically, but the idea has merit for the Permian and Siberian Traps. that means if Dr Scotese is correct for the future layout of the world, expect that there will be some serious mass extinctions around the continent's breakup.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hayabusa Image

Another Bright Thing from Russia

Information on the ownership of Russian sites in the coming months may be totally secret. The most popular international blast zone. Com has long earned the willingness of owners to maintain Internet sites incognito. Under the Personal Data, which entered into force on January 30, 2007, the written consent of every person to the inclusion of personal data in public facilities. Some organizations have been suspended for bringing his public bases in line with the law until January 2008 or January 2010. According to the Russian Research Institute of public networks (RosNIIROS, Focal Point domain. Ru), in late 2006. In Runete there were more than 700,000 sites belonging to nearly 329,000 owners.


Carnegie Mellon's UGV Prototype

At What Point is Something Like This an Act of War?

In a move potentially repeatable against other countries, top-level Russian authorities are sabotaging the Estonian state’s web servers since April 27. According to Justice Minister Rein Lang and Foreign Affairs Minister Urmas Paet, the cyber attacks on April 29 and 30 were traced to IP addresses in Moscow owned by the Russian presidential administration and government (Estonian TV, Eesti Paevaleht, April 30, May 1). The attacks have perturbed the entire information network of Estonia’s state administrations, government and presidency. The effects are particularly disruptive on a country like Estonia, a European leader regarding the generalization of electronic governance.

Makes you wonder what is the threshold of info warfare being turned into the bullet slinging kind. An interesting theoretical question taht goes beyond teh Russian-Estonian goofiness.

And You Thought the 9/11 Whack-jobs Were Bad

This seems to be their inbred wannabe cousin.

I live less than a mile crow distance from the collapsed section. I have worked out in places where bombs and missiles go off on a regular basis. I would have frakkin heard that and not slept through it, damnit.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

That AntiRussia Space Conspiracy


Sorry had to get that in first. Here's a proposed reason why the NASA rebuffed Russia about cooperating in space.

Mankind's second race for the moon took on a distinctly Cold War feel yesterday when the Russian space agency accused its old rival Nasa of rejecting a proposal for joint lunar exploration.

The claim comes amid suspicion in Moscow that the United States is seeking to deny Russia access to an isotope in abundance under the moon's surface that many believe could replace fossil fuels and even end the threat of global warming.


While the Americans have either been coy or dismissive on the subject, Russia openly says the main purpose of its lunar programme is the industrial extraction of helium-3.

Dismissed by critics as a 21st-century equivalent of the medieval alchemist's fruitless quest to turn lead into gold, some scientists say helium-3 could be the answer to the world's energy woes.

A non-radioactive isotope of helium, helium-3 is a proven and potent fuel for nuclear fusion - so potent that just six metric tons would supply Britain with enough energy for a year.

As helium-3 is non-polluting and is so effective in such tiny quantities, many countries are taking it very seriously. Germany, India and China, which will launch a lunar probe to research extraction techniques in September, are all studying ways to mine the isotope.


The United States has appeared much more cautious, not least because scientists are yet to discover the secrets of large scale nuclear fusion. Commercial fusion reactors look unlikely to come on line before the second half of this century.

But many officials in Moscow's space programme believe Washington's lunar agenda is driven by a desire to monopolise helium-3 mining. They allege that President Bush has moved helium-3 experts into key positions on Nasa's advisory council.

The plot, says Erik Galimov, an academic with the Russian Academy of Sciences, would "enable the US to establish its control of the energy market 20 years from now and put the rest of the world on its knees as hydrocarbons run out."

First off, projected are we?


Third, okay, consider the source.

ahem. *wipes tears*

Twisted Path

GNXP Asks: Whither the UK?

I'd be curious to see what an Brits think.

Hydrogen at the Corner Gas Station?

This takes in Natural Gas and pumps out hydrogen.

Interesting, but not as nice as if you could extract it from water.

I don't see what they do with the carbon though...

Two Bills on Puerto Rico’s Status Reflect Split on Island Itself

The oft-debated but still unsettled question of the status of Puerto Rico — a United States possession for more than a century and a commonwealth for 55 years — has returned to Washington, with two pieces of legislation aimed at resolving the longstanding issue.

For Puerto Ricans, the debate is nothing less than a referendum on the identity of their homeland, with the main battle line drawn between those who want to keep the Caribbean island’s commonwealth status and those who favor outright statehood.

We'll see if the bills make it out of committee. I'm hoping for HR 900, personally. It would end the standoff one way or another, IMO. Finally.

*crossed fingers*

Preparations Accelerate For Planetary Probes

Spacecraft and launch vehicle processing at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral are building to a peak for two planned summer launches.

On June 30, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Dawn spacecraft is set to journey to the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, and on Aug. 3 the JPL Phoenix lander is scheduled to head toward Mars.

Phoenix is to arrive at Kennedy next week from Lockheed Martin near Denver. The spacecraft will begin a final series of tests, but unlike previous Mars landers, it will already be largely integrated inside its aeroshell, with just the bottom of the vehicle and its landing gear visible.

Phoenix is not planned to come out until moments before touchdown on Mars in May 2008. But launch site technicians will do final tests on the vehicle with it inside the shell and also attach its Mars atmospheric entry heat shield. Phoenix must launch by Aug. 25.

Meanwhile, the Dawn spacecraft, built by Orbital Sciences, is already well into final assembly at the Astrotech commercial processing facilities near the Cape. Its Delta II Heavy booster is also being erected on Launch Complex 17B. Final Dawn instrument tests are planned this week, and solar arrays spanning 65 feet are to be installed May 21-24. The arrays will power Dawn's Ion propulsion system to power the spacecraft into orbit around Vesta in October 2011 and then out of orbit in 2012 toward Ceres, a proto-planet that Dawn will also orbit starting in 2015. Dawn must launch by July 19.

Via AvWeek.