|Ken Novak's Weblog
Purpose of this blog: to retain annotated bookmarks for my future reference, and to offer others my filter technology and other news. Note that this blog is categorized. Use the category links to find items that match your interests.
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Monday, October 13, 2003
: "Buzz2Talk is a Push to Talk demo application for use with services such as FreeWorld Dial up. " Works on a GPRS-enabled Symbian device*." 11:51:37 AM
Strategy on Pyongyang is wrong, Bush told: "Charles (Jack) Pritchard, the former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, who.. embarrassed the Bush Administration by resigning on the eve of the six-way talks on the Korean crisis in Beijing in late August, .. [said] that unless its approach to negotiations is rethought, any prospect of success is "very grim". .. "We've got to get serious about this, rather than drive-by meetings that occur where we roll down the window and wave to the North Koreans and move on," Mr Pritchard said.
During the Washington forum on North Korea, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, played down any prospect of a US military strike on the North if talks fail. The US military would not support a "surgical" strike on Pyongyang's nuclear facilities because it did not have the forces for a counter-attack if the North responded militarily, he said. "Seventy-three per cent of all American manoeuvre battalions are now deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan," he said. The US military would be "violently opposed" to any military action on the peninsula." 11:40:43 AM
As The Blogs Churn
: A summary of stats about blogs. About 4m have been created, with 25% abandoned within a day, and about 40% updated in the last 30 days. Surveys seem to run between 900k and 1.6m active blogs (as of Oct 2003). An ongoing census
with factoids finds about equal male and female bloggers, English still the dominant language, etc. 11:23:44 AM
ZoneEdit.com provides a growing list of domain management services:
- round-robin DNS resolution for server load-balancing
- failover monitoring, automatically supplying backup IP or URLs when servers fail
- dynamic DNS, for servers running with DHCP addresses
- free test DNS page
- URL redirection, including "cloaking" the destination URL in a frameset
- mail relay, including aliases, duplication of mail, and wildcard redirection
- backup MX spooling
- rebranded zoneedit for resale
- API for program control of services
Incompentent diplomacy: From a Council on Foreign Relations talk in March 2003, Jean David Lavitte, the French ambassador in Washington and President Jacques Chirac's former national security adviser at the Elysee Palace, interviewed by Richard Holbrooke:
"JDL: One word about the second resolution in the Security Council. I think I can say it now on the record, you have to know that weeks before it was tabled, I went to the State Department and to the White House to say, don't do it. First, because you'll split the Council and second, because you don't need it. Let's agree to disagree between gentlemen, as we did on Kosovo, before the war in Kosovo ...
RH: And never went to the Security Council.
RH: And pulled it off.
Holbrooke elaborated in an April 2003 interview: "In order to protect the U.N. system, we bypassed it in the [case of the] Balkans. Jean-David Levitte .. said at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting in Washington three weeks ago, at which I was the moderator, that he had gone to the White House, on instructions, and told the NSC [National Security Council] at a high level that the French did not think we should seek a second resolution and we should bypass them--in other words, precisely what we did in Kosovo." 3:56:29 AM
Holbrooke had it right: From a 10 Feb 2003 interview: "I'm not here to defend the administration, I think their handling the U.S. alliance relations from Korea to Europe has been flawed from the beginning of the conceptual level. .. The United States does not need a second resolution. My personal recommendation to them would be not to seek a second resolution, because 1441 and the previous resolutions going back to 1991 are all they need. And they're going to get caught up at the U.N. in a very messy debate with the French and the Russians over wording. .. I would also add one last critical point. In Bosnia, in Kosovo, and in December of 1998 with Operation Desert Fox in Iraq, the Clinton administration used air power without any new Security Council resolution for Iraq and none at all in Kosovo and Bosnia, and we did that because we knew we couldn't get it through the Security Council. .."
Then a Washington Post Op-Ed Feb 23: "That Saddam Hussein is the most dangerous leader in the world today should hardly be in doubt after his behavior over the past 30 years. Left in power, he would undoubtedly find ways over time to rebuild his arsenal of mass destruction. The failure to finish him off in 1991 was one of the most significant errors in modern American history, no matter what the rationale offered for limiting Desert Storm to the liberation of Kuwait. .. The second resolution may be achievable, but only if Hans Blix issues far more negative reports than he has so far. This is certainly possible (especially if Hussein is stupid) but the United States should never put itself in a position where a vital national interest is decided by an international civil servant or another sovereign government. ..
In a roughly similar situation, in 1999, the Clinton administration and our NATO allies decided to bomb Serbia (for 77 days) without even seeking U.N. approval, after it became clear that Russia would veto any proposal. This contrast with the supposedly muscular Bush administration is especially odd when one considers that Saddam Hussein is far worse than Slobodan Milosevic, and that Iraq has left a long trail of violated Security Council resolutions, while there were none on Kosovo. ..
[This does not] bode well for the all-important post-Hussein phase, in which Washington's recently revealed plans for U.S. military control of Iraq can only spark fears that the United States will ultimately be trapped in what Winston Churchill, after the death of several British officers in Iraq in 1920, called "these thankless deserts." 3:38:33 AM
The Day After the Day After: Winning the Peace in Post-Saddam Iraq
: I'm blogging a few people who got it right before the invasion. Here's Lieberman in Oct 2002: "We have to face the fact that the best-case military scenario — the rapid collapse of the Iraqi military and the swift capture or elimination of Saddam — would also present the most challenging security scenario. .. U.S. forces must be ready immediately to shift gears to post-conflict operations — helping to restore order and handling humanitarian emergencies. Despite its tremendous training and talent, our military needs more specialized teams to take on this crucial job. Like the military campaign itself, stabilizing post-Saddam Iraq and helping the Iraqi people are more likely to be achieved if the United States is part of an international coalition, especially one that includes Muslim and Arab nations. " 2:05:40 AM
Monkeys Control Robotic Arm With Brain Implants: The details are fascinating (emphases mine): "Scientists in North Carolina have built a brain implant that lets monkeys control a robotic arm with their thoughts, marking the first time that mental intentions have been harnessed to move a mechanical object. The new work is the first in which any animal has learned to use its brain to move a robotic device in all directions in space and to perform a mixture of interrelated movements -- such as reaching toward an object, grasping it and adjusting the grip strength depending on how heavy the object is. ..
The device relies on tiny electrodes, each one resembling a wire thinner than a human hair. After removing patches of skull from two monkeys to expose the outer surface of their brains, Nicolelis and his colleagues stuck 96 of those tiny wires about a millimeter deep in one monkey's brain and 320 of them in the other animal's brain.
Then came the training, with the monkeys first learning to move the robot arm with a joystick. The arm was kept in a separate room -- "If you put a 50-kilogram robot in front of them, they get very nervous," Nicolelis said -- but the monkeys could track their progress by watching a schematic representation of the arm and its motions on a video screen. The monkeys quickly learned how to use the joystick to make the arm reach and grasp for objects, and how to adjust their grip on the joystick to vary the robotic hand's grip strength. They could see on the monitor when they missed their target or dropped it for having too light a grip, and they were rewarded with sips of juice when they performed their tasks successfully.
While the monkeys trained, a computer tracked the patterns of bioelectrical activity in the animals' brains. The computer figured out that certain patterns amounted to a command to "reach." Others, it became clear, meant "grasp." Gradually, the computer learned to "read" the monkeys' minds.
Then the researchers did something radical: They unplugged the joystick so the robotic arm's movements depended completely on a monkey's brain activity. In effect, the computer that had been studying the animal's neural firing patterns was now serving as an interpreter, decoding the brain signals according to what it had learned from the joystick games and then sending the appropriate instructions to the mechanical arm.
At first, Nicolelis said, the monkey kept moving the joystick, not realizing that her own brain was now solely in charge of the arm's movements. Then, he said, an amazing thing happened. "We're looking, and she stops moving her arm," he said, "but the cursor keeps playing the game and the robot arm is moving around." The animal was controlling the robot with its thoughts.
"We couldn't speak. It was dead silence," Nicolelis said. "No one wanted to verbalize what was happening. And she continued to do that for almost an hour."
At first, the animals' performance declined compared to the sessions on the joystick. But after just a day or so, the control was so smooth it seemed the animals had accepted the mechanical arm as their own. "It's quite plausible that the perception is you're extended into the robot arm, or the arm is an extension of you," agreed the University of Washington's Fetz, a pioneer in the field of brain-controlled devices.
"Once you have an output signal out of the brain that you can interpret, the possibilities of what you can do with those signals are immense," said Donoghue, who recently co-founded a company, Cyberkinetics Inc. of Foxboro, Mass., to capitalize on the technology. ..
Asked if the monkeys seemed to mind the experiments, Nicolelis answered with an emphatic "No." "If anything, they're enjoying themselves playing these games. It enriches their lives," he said. "You don't have to do anything to get these guys into their chair. They go right there. That's play time." 1:44:10 AM
Iraq poll results
: "Iraq is a much more secular country than people realize. Forty-two percent of the people we asked had not been to mosque at all in the previous month, so the idea that this is going to become a mullah-driven country, like Iran, I think is quite unlikely. And in fact interestingly, the Shiâ'a, who are of course the co-religionists with the Iranians, were even less attracted to a religious government than the rest of the population" 1:29:30 AM
Germany and Japan: What the US should avoid in Iraq: "it will do no good to use the post-1945 US occupations of Japan and Germany as inspiration. By invoking those earlier episodes, the Bush administration betrays a degree of wishful thinking, even ignorance, that bodes ill for Iraq. Indeed, perhaps the best reason to study those experiences is to learn what not to do. ..
US reformers encountered torpor, resentment and resistance as they tried to re-educate and reform their former enemies and bring war criminals to trial.
General Lucius Clay, who presided over the US occupation zone in Germany, called de-Nazification his “biggest mistake,” a “hopelessly ambiguous procedure” creating “a pathetic ‘community of fate’ between small and big Nazis” and elicited popular hostility. Wholesale dismissals of former officials, similar to US civil administrator Paul Bremer’s firing of 30,000 Iraqi civil servants with Baath links, were seen as arbitrary acts that made Germany and Japan more difficult to govern. Likewise, war crimes trials let high-ranking officers and former officials pose as “patriotic martyrs.”
Hardly had the occupations ended in Japan and Germany that many war criminals were set free, democratic reforms abandoned and quiet retribution meted out to many who had welcomed the occupiers." 1:10:36 AM