|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Public diplomacy: Council on Foreign Relations report recommending how to improve perceptions of US abroad -- the old Radio Free Europe model won' t work: "we must make clear the U.S. government’s commitment to public diplomacy as a central element in U.S. foreign policy. Significant reform is urgently needed to bring strategicplanning, focus, resources, and badly needed coordination to this effort. Specifically, ..
- Increase customized, “two-way” dialogue, as contrasted to conventional one-way, “push-down” mass communication
- Significantly increase private sector involvement, including greater use of credible and independent messengers, and the creation of an independent, not-forprofit “Corporation for Public Diplomacy.”
- State Department reforms that make public diplomacy central to the work of all diplomats andambassadors, a Quadrennial Diplomacy Review, an Independent Public Diplomacy Training Institute, and a Public Diplomacy Reserve Corps. .. "
: ""In general," says Robert Wright, author of "Nonzero," "too few who opposed the war understand the gravity of the terrorism problem, and too few who favored it understand the subtlety of the problem."" 11:19:42 PM
EC/US Divergence: "around the middle of the 1980's, the U.S. and Europe started to diverge. The American work ethic shifted, so that the average American now works 350 hours a year — 9 or 10 weeks — longer than the average European. American fertility rates bottomed out around 1985, and began rising. Native-born American women now have almost two children on average, while the European rate is 1.4 children per woman and falling. .. The gap between American and European G.D.P. per capita has widened over the past two decades, and at the moment American productivity rates are surging roughly 5 percent a year.
The biggest difference is that over the past two decades the United States has absorbed roughly 20 million immigrants. This influx of people has led, in the short term, to widening inequality and higher welfare costs as the immigrants are absorbed, but it also means that the U.S. will be, through our lifetimes, young, ambitious and energetic. Working off U.N. and U.S. census data, Bill Frey, the indispensable University of Michigan demographer, projects that in the year 2050 the median age in the United States will be 35. The median age in Europe will be 52." 11:15:43 PM
Krugman's long view on development:
"in the mid-1970's, development economics was just too depressing to pursue. Indeed, it might as well have been called non-development economics. No third world nation had made the transition to advanced-country status since 19th-century Japan. Circa 1975 it seemed that the club of nations with decent living standards was no longer accepting new members.
Now we know that the club isn't that exclusive, after all. South Korea and several smaller Asian economies have made a full transition to modernity. China is still a poor country, but it has made astonishing progress. And there are signs of an economic takeoff in at least parts of India. I'm not talking about arid economic statistics; what we've seen over the past generation is an enormous, unexpected improvement in the human condition.
How was this improvement achieved? .. every one of those development success stories was based on export-led growth. And that growth is possible only if rising economies can expand into new markets. Some critics of globalization seem to be nostalgic for the era before the big growth in third-world exports of manufactured goods. I'm not, because I remember the way that era really felt, our despair over the possibility of development." 11:05:10 PM
Thursday, November 27, 2003
Energy Efficient System for Desalination of Sea-water
: "Clean water is becoming scarce and until now the cost of desalination has been a barrier to exploiting seawater. However, a Danish company, HOH Water Supply (HOH), specialising in water technology, has overcome this barrier and invented a new method, which halves the energy consumption of desalination plants. The method, based on existing membrane technology, makes it possible to recycle 95% of the pressure used for pumping sea water through the membrane system. Thus the energy consumption at the desalination plant's pumps and operations are cut from about 7 kWh/m3 of water to 3-4 kWh/m3 of desalinated water. The new Energy Recovery System (ERS) has been developed by an independent engineer in co-operation with HOH. " 9:57:23 AM
Economic Consequences of the War on Terrorism: "Terrorism has many roots, some in poverty, some in religious fundamentalism, some in other forms of extremism, some in the lack of political voice by people such as Palestinians or Chechnians. These can be addressed, in different ways in different places, but if they are the enemies then there is little chance of final victory. In the search for something achievable, subsidiary goals - such as regime change in Iraq - may be pursued. But they also create new problems and therefore do not necessarily take us closer to the ultimate goal. In its haste and hubris, the US may set itself up to be defeated by declaring war on such a multi-headed and complex enemy. That was the Vietnam story.
In this interconnected world, the rest of us may suffer significant collateral damage from US actions that we have very little power to influence. ..
In this world of a sole superpower, what can constrain the US in pursuing foreign policy goals that may be inimical to its western allies? Clearly not Europe's combined military might, even if we could manage to harness it to a common European foreign and security policy. The very limited political appetite in Europe for higher defence spending means that bargaining with the US on that score will never get us very far. A large survey taken in June of this year by the German Marshall Fund found that while 70% of Europeans favoured the EU becoming a superpower alongside the US, support plummeted to just 36% if that role meant spending more on defence. (Financial Times 04.09.03)
This leads me to conclude – perhaps paradoxically - that the most effective constraints on US foreign policy are likely to be its own domestic ones. .. In a poll last summer, US voters were asked what would be most important in determining their vote for president next year. Forty-eight percent said the economy, 23% said the course of the war on terror and 24% said they rated both issues equally..
The economic implications of the current US foreign policy direction make it politically unsustainable. It will have to change direction, either by committing itself to multilateralism in a way that brings allies on board for the long haul of the war on terrorism, or by blundering towards an eventual abandonment of the strategy, as happened in Vietnam 30 years ago. ..
I doubt that many Americans realise that the EU countries together contribute more than twice as much aid to developing countries as the US does. It is time to recast the old Cold War concepts of ‘burden sharing' to fit the 21st century scourge of global terrorism. " 7:34:09 AM
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
When Cash Is Only Skin Deep: "A Florida company has announced plans to develop a service that would allow consumers to pay for merchandise using microchips implanted under their skin.." ExxonMobil and MasterCard already experiment with keyfob or card-based RFID. "a senior MasterCard executive said the company is considering integrating its RFID technology into other items, such as pens or earrings." Applied Digital wants to put it under the skin.
Meanwhile, Applied Digital has attracted scorn from some fundamentalist Christians, who believe that VeriChip is the fabled "mark of the beast" of biblical lore. According to the book of Revelation, Satan will someday force people to "receive a mark" on their hands or foreheads in order to buy or sell. "This is a gigantic step toward the mark of the beast, " said Gary Wohlscheid, whose website, These Last Days Ministries..
Applied Digital has [also] positioned its microchip as an anti-kidnapping device (VeriKid), emergency ID system (VeriMed) and as a way to control access to secure buildings (VeriGuard). " 4:14:48 PM
Wireless Freedom! - Radiophony
: "Welcome to Radiophony, innovative audio solutions in communications for ordinary people. Our aim is to promote ways to make the Internet accessible for everyone. We have recently helped set up a community audio center in a village in Andhra Pradesh." Includes neat functional diagram comparing FM radio and telephony. 3:48:31 PM
Wireless Freedom! - Radiophony
: "Welcome to Radiophony, innovative audio solutions in communications for ordinary people. Our aim is to promote ways to make the Internet accessible for everyone. We have recently helped set up a community audio center in a village in Andhra Pradesh." 3:48:00 PM
MHonArc Home Page
: "A mail-to-HTML converter," written in perl. Might come in handy for mailbucket-type service. 2:24:18 PM
One Man Against Secrecy: " Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, is an army of one, the David in an era of Goliath-strength government stealth. Armed with a pocket-size copy of the Constitution, the Freedom of Information Act and an investigator's patience for source-building, Aftergood is out to slay what he sees as the arbitrariness of the U.S. system for classifying documents to keep them secret. To do that, he asks foundations and donors for $150,000 a year ("in a good year") to keep his online newsletter, Secrecy News (www.fas.org/sgp/index.html), and staff of one -- himself -- going. He often scoops the national media with anecdotes about government attempts to keep information secret. ..
"I'm not dogmatic about any of this," he said. "I don't look at this as a game. I don't look at the government as the enemy. I'm interested in a rational information policy that respects the American public." 11:53:38 AM
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Iraqis' impatience, guarded hope:
Review of stories in several cities. Nice observation: "After ticking off the projects that US soldiers are working on, Maj. Paul Gass of Humble, Texas, pauses. He's a gung ho, 19-year career soldier. But he's frustrated. He's worked 7-day weeks for nine months and probably won't see his wife and twin daughters for another five months. "Officers aren't getting the two weeks of R&R," he explains with a tight smile. "We shouldn't have to be doing this kind of work. This is NGO work. When are they going to get here? When it's a secure environment? Well, it ain't yet. Deal with it."" 9:22:35 PM
Georgia's partner in democracy: US: ""The US government has gone to great lengths to back a [democratic] process and institutions, and to be very careful - amid big pressure from both sides - not to back certain individuals," says Mark Mullen, head of the Georgia office of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), funded by the US government, which has engaged in democracy training here since the mid-1990s.
"We are so grateful to the US and European Union, our friends that have supported us," says Giorgi Baramidze, a chief strategist of interim President Nino Burjanadze. "We can now teach our children how to defend democracy, using Georgia's 'Rose Revolution' as the example."
Senior US officials pushed diplomatic buttons before and throughout the crisis - in concert with Russia and others - making clear to all sides the dangers of a forceful crackdown or street violence. But untidy as the opposition's seizure of power has been, analysts say that billions in Western aid - and steady prodemocracy brow-beating - proved a key to regime change, one achieved without a shot being fired. ..
Unlike pro-government parties, the opposition lapped up lessons in working together, using the media to spread its message, making a parallel vote tabulation - to provide credible "real" election results, to counter the falsified official returns - and in raising expectations of a free and fair vote. NDI and other Western-funded groups also taught lessons from case studies - from the US civil rights movement to the revolutions of East Europe that caused the Soviet Union to collapse to the example of the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade in 2000. .. But a Western diplomat familiar with both cases says the Georgian example is one of "generic" democracy building, that did not aim to unseat Shevardnadze - a former Soviet foreign minister widely respected in the West for guiding the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union. Still, protesters in Tbilisi drew some inspiration from the burning of parliament in Belgrade.
"There is clearly US influence in this," says George Khutsishvili, head of the International Center on Conflict and Negotiation, one of many prodemocracy groups in Tbilisi that receives US, EU, and other Western funding. "The US has supported this government for so many years, with so little outcome. It was a disaster. Finally they realized [Shevardnadze] is not the man to count on" and that the "only thing is to remove [him]." What was unclear was whether the Belgrade example was "possible in Georgia, without blood," Mr. Khutsishvili says. "Without the US - which was crucial - there would have been a more unpredictable, violent, and painful way," ..
Perhaps more important was the environment created by the flood of prodemocracy cash in recent years, that convinced many Georgians that the vote was a farce - and that act they must. "Now that it has reached a seemingly successful result, one of the things you have to say is that all of this election hoopla, largely financed by the Western community ... [helped] raise public expectation that this would be an honest and decent election," says a Western diplomat, who asked not to be further identified. The result "exposed to the public ... what people were doing to cheat them of the full weight of their ballot," the diplomat says,.. Indeed, that message seems to have been heard widely, since protests included even the most poor, and some elderly - constituents that make little political difference elsewhere in the region. "We showed the government what we wanted," says Maria Mamasashvili, a now-unemployed laborer wearing an orange scarf, who came from the provinces to take up vigil outside the parliament building. "It was my election, they stole my vote, so I showed them my voice means something." 9:13:47 PM
Monday, November 24, 2003
Shirky: The FCC, Weblogs, and Inequality
: "people who believe that our goals should be diversity and freedom and damn the consequences haven't had much effect on the traditional media landscape to date, so we have very little evidence on the practical effect of their proposals. The most obvious goal for this group is radical expansion of media choice in all dimensions, and a subsequent dropping of all mandated restrictions. For this view to come to pass, restrictions on internet broadcast of radio and TV should be dropped, web radio stations must live in the same copyright regime broadcast stations do, much more unlicensed spectrum must be made available, and so on. " Weblogs are cited as an example where freedom and diversity resulted in great inequality, with a small proportion of blogs getting a great majority of the usage. "Diverse. Free. Equal. Pick two." 10:42:40 PM
Shirky: Permanet, Nearlynet, and Wireless Data: 3G vs WiFi, with an interesting take on disruptive technologies: "The permanet [3G] strategy is to start with a service that is good but expensive, and to make it cheaper. The nearlynet strategy is to start with a service that is lousy but cheap, and to make it better. The permanet strategy assumes that quality is the key driver of a new service, and permanet has the advantage of being good at every iteration. Nearlynet assumes that cheapness is the essential characteristic, and that users will forgo quality for a sufficient break in price. What the permanet people .. have going against them, however, is incentive. The operator of a cheap but lousy service has more incentive to improve quality than the operator of a good but expensive service does to cut prices.
And incremental improvements to quality can produce disproportionate returns on investment when a cheap but lousy service becomes cheap but adequate. .. [Meanwhile] coverage over cost is often an exponential curve -- as the coverage you want rises, the cost rises far faster" (ie, from home, to street, to town, to suburb to rural area, the cost per area keeps getting higher). 10:30:05 PM
Shirky: A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy
: The first really good thing I've read in the field of "social software". A fun read too, with stories from 1978 bbs' onwards, observations on social process, and useful (essential) advice for service providers and software authors. 10:15:42 PM
O'Reilly speculates on Meetup and Blogging Stats as an Opinion Indicator: EG:
Meetup Top Topics in Politics & Activism
1. Dean in 2004 (>144,200 members)
2. Clark in 2004 (>45,400)
3. Kucinich in 2004 (>18,300)
4. Kerry in 2004 (>16,800)
Feedster for each candidate's name:
Howard Dean - 25,724 blog mentions
Wesley Clark - 7,624
John Kerry - 7,382
Dennis Kucinich - 3334
Or, check out the Fundrace Money Map for the geographic spread of donors. 9:44:40 PM
Dell Closes Overseas Call Centers: "After an onslaught of complaints, direct sales computer king Dell Inc. has stopped routing corporate customers to a technical support call center in Bangalore, India. ..
"Customers weren't satisfied with the level of support they were receiving, so we're moving some calls around to make sure they don't feel that way anymore," Weisblatt said. He would not discuss the nature of the dissatisfaction, but some U.S. customers have complained that Indian support operators are difficult to communicate with because of thick accents and scripted responses. ..
Corporate customers account for about 85 percent of Dell's business, with only 15 percent coming from the consumer market. Consumer callers won't see a change in technical support, Weisblatt said, and Dell has no plans to scale back resources at the Bangalore call center. Worldwide, Dell employs about 44,300 people. About 54 percent are located abroad. ..
Among Dell customers dissatisfied with the company's use of overseas labor is Ronald Kronk, a Presbyterian minister in Rochester, Pa., who has spent the last four months trying to resolve a miscommunication that has resulted in his being billed for two computers. The problem, he says, is that the Dell call center is in India. "They're extremely polite, but I call it sponge listening—they just soak it in and say 'I can understand why you're angry' but nothing happens," Kronk said." 9:28:33 PM
Xteq URL Bandit
: "Xteq URL Bandit 1.2 - Grab URLs from the clipboard fast and easily Xteq URL Bandit is a little program that monitors your clipboard and catches all URLs it finds. These URL are saved so you can later easily access them and don't lose them when you turn your computer off. " 5:45:11 PM
Iraq's new challenge: civil society:
Nice profile of an Iraq-American RTI contractor in Baghdad: "When they say it's an occupation, I say, and why wasn't Saddam? I get frustrated with that," Saraf says. "Every day without Saddam is a blessing. I think I can speak for Iraqis on that. Impatience is going to do us injustice." 11:55:56 AM
Developing Nations Begin to Embrace Internet Commerce: NYT has a few random notes on developing country developments. Two interesting points:
- Thailand has focussed policy and investments on increasing Internet penetration; it has now reached >50% outside of Bangkok.
- "Everest S.A., a family-run business in San Salvador, sold a 69-kilogram lot (152 pounds) of coffee beans in an Internet auction from one of its five farms for a record price of $14.06 a pound. .. [They] entered the Cup of Excellence competition, which included 335 of the country's roughly 23,000 farms, and in early May received first prize for beans from the family's Kilimanjaro farm. Cup of Excellence then arranged an online auction featuring lots from the competition's finalists.. The auction put her company in direct contact with buyers. In the past, she said, local mills would buy the farms' beans and sell them to distributors. "We've now taken the middleman out, which is huge," she said. .. Ms. Batlle said she had maintained a relationship with the Norwegian coffee distributor that bought her beans as well as a Japanese distributor that bid $3.20 a pound for coffee from another of the family's farms in a July auction. That change, she said, will help the farm lift average prices above the 30 cents a pound it received last year." They now pay their laborers 4 cents instead of 3 cents per picked pound.
Saturday, November 22, 2003
: " blo.gs lets you keep an eye on your favorite weblogs via the web, email, and instant messenger. you can even put the list on your site: a blogroll that knows what is new" 11:50:34 PM
While we have your attention, Mr President...
: Advice to George Bush from the Baghdad blogger: "Listen, habibi, it is not over yet. Let me explain this in simple terms. You have spilled a glass full of tomato juice on an already dirty carpet and now you have to clean up the whole room. Not all of the mess is your fault but you volunteered to clean it up. I bet if someone had explained it to you like that you would have been less hasty going on our Rambo-in-Baghdad trip.
To tell you the truth, I am glad that someone is doing the cleaning up, and thank you for getting rid of that scary guy with the hideous moustache that we had for president. But I have to say that the advertisements you were dropping from your B52s before the bombs fell promised a much more efficient and speedy service. We are a bit disappointed. So would you please, pretty please, with sugar on top, get your act together and stop telling people you have Iraq all figured out when you are giving us the trial-and-error approach?
Anyway, I hope this doesn't disturb you too much. Have a nice stay in London, wave hello to the demonstrators, and give my regards to your spin doctors. I bet they are having a hell of a job making you look good.
Regards, Salam Pax The Baghdad Blogger " 10:50:47 PM
F.B.I. Scrutinizes Antiwar Rallies: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators and has advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its counterterrorism squads, according to interviews and a confidential bureau memorandum. .. The memorandum analyzed lawful activities like recruiting demonstrators, as well as illegal activities like using fake documentation to get into a secured site. F.B.I. officials said in interviews that the intelligence-gathering effort was aimed at identifying anarchists and "extremist elements" plotting violence, not at monitoring the political speech of law-abiding protesters. " More like the Nixon years every day. 10:38:38 PM
: "Braun's team began their manufacturing process by coating a central part of a long DNA molecule with proteins from an E. coli
bacterium. Next, graphite nanotubes coated with antibodies were added, which bound onto the protein. After this, a solution of silver ions was added. The ions chemically attach to the phosphate backbone of the DNA, but only where no protein has attached. Aldehyde then reduces the ions to silver metal, forming the foundation of a conducting wire. To complete the device, gold was added. This nucleates on the silver and creates a fully conducting wire. The end result is a carbon nanotube device connected a both ends by a gold and silver wire." It functions as a transistor. The entire process is room temperature. 6:52:45 PM
VON Magazine review of SIP-based products
: "SIP turned out to be everything that H.323 was not: a lean, flexible, text-based protocol more in tune with the design philosophy of other Internet protocols .. Users are identified to a SIP system by location-independent, email-like names; e.g., email@example.com. And like a browser requesting a home page from a web server, a SIP client sends requests to a receiving server, which processes them and returns proper responses. The SIP messages themselves are very simple, such as "INVITE" (invites another SIP user to a session) and "OPTIONS" (asks a SIP server to reply with its feature set). SIP has kept up with the times. With the rise of Instant Messaging and Presence (IMP) services, another IETF working group developed an appropriate set of signaling extensions, called SIMPLE (SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions). SIMPLE is practically a standard, but hasn't yet been finalized as one. Work is also underway to ensure that SIP will function with Mobile IP devices SIP's registration capability lends itself to provide mobility and location functions" 4:10:06 PM
Friday, November 21, 2003
Global Warming Gas Increasing Dramatically
: "Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide are expected to increase by 3.5 billion tonnes, or 50 percent, annually by the year 2020, an executive for ExxonMobil Corp said on Wednesday. .. Experts say the United States, which has the world's largest economy and 4 percent of its population, is responsible for about 25 percent of so-called "greenhouse" gases now produced, but Broiles said most future growth in output will come from developing countries. "Eighty percent of that number, 80 percent of 3.5 billion tonnes, is going to be driven by those developing countries, those economies that are growing at the 4 to 5 percent range, so that's where it's coming from," he said.
A huge increase in the number of cars will cause part of the pollution growth. Broiles said there are now 15 cars for every 1,000 people in the world, but ExxonMobil expects that number to rise to 50 cars per 1,000 by 2020. He said ExxonMobil foresees a 40 percent increase in energy demand even though humans are boosting their energy efficiency by about 1 percent a year. Despite advances in technology most energy will still come from fossil fuels, and in particular oil and gas, of which there remain very large reserves, he said. " 9:03:16 PM
Power Tube, Inc.
: "The [Power Tube] unit is inserted in the Earth (i.e. downhole) and requires only 220 degrees Fahrenheit of heat to generate electricity. This is accomplished without depleting natural resources or causing pollution. With a virtually inexhaustible source of energy (i.e. the heat of the Earth) to power it, Power Tube has no energy costs customarily associated with traditional electrical power generation methods. The land needed for a Power Tube unit is not permanently scarred and pollution of underground aquifers does not occur. The 10 MW version is 185 feet long, and 42 inches in diameter. It will be inserted into a 46" shaft (which is only at the top 185 feet), which can be drilled with a standard drilling technology. .. The Power Tube is a self contained unit using an iso-pentane/iso-butane mixture to heat into a gas. In this sealed system, the gas is accelerated into a turbine, then cooled back down into a liquid, where the process continues." 8:49:34 PM
Spain to fund Mindanao solar power project
: "THE SPANISH government will invest 3.37 billion pesos in a solar electrification project that will light up 40 remote communities in Mindanao, Agrarian Reform Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan said. The Spanish government's Solar Power Technology Support (Spots) project is expected to benefit directly 20,000 farmers in 15 provinces in Mindanao, he said.
Pagdanganan said BP Solar España, which he described as the world's biggest solar plant manufacturer, had been contracted to provide technical services for the Spots project. " 8:34:30 PM
Text of President Bush's Speech - London
: More of the same. "It's been said that those who live near a police station find it hard to believe in the triumph of violence, in the same way free peoples might be tempted to take for granted the orderly societies we have come to know. Europe's peaceful unity is one of the great achievements of the last half-century. And because European countries now resolve differences through negotiation and consensus, there's sometimes an assumption that the entire world functions in the same way. But let us never forget how Europe's unity was achieved by allied armies of liberation and NATO armies of defense. And let us never forget, beyond Europe's borders, in a world where oppression and violence are very real, liberation is still a moral goal, and freedom and security still need defenders. .. As recent history has shown, we cannot turn a blind eye to oppression just because the oppression is not in our own backyard. No longer should we think tyranny is benign because it is temporarily convenient. Tyranny is never benign to its victims, and our great democracies should oppose tyranny wherever it is found." Video
. Seems Bush is just The Guy Reading Mike Gerson's Speeches. 7:49:12 PM
Sri Lanka: As Peace Falters, Activists Turn to ICT to Build Bridges: "In December 2002, the Sri Lankan government's Peace Secretariat invited the Colombo office of the AED [USAID contractor for Education and Development] -- one of the coordinators of the peace process -- to set up a data-sharing software to network their office staff. While an AED team including Hannes, who is a consultant to them, was working on the project, the hit upon the idea of creating a similar, though infinitely more sophisticated software, for the entire peace process.
In April this year, just as the team was discussing the concept with officials of the Peace Secretariat, local NGOs and media groups involved in the peace process, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels suspended talks. Recalls Hannes, "At that moment we realized we should not wait any longer. Although there were emissaries conveying messages from the government to the LTTE and vice versa even after the suspension, the impact of the communication breakdown between the two parties was apparent." In the aftermath, a clutch of parties - including peace promoters attached to the premier local NGO - Center for Policy Alternatives, Young Asia Television and the Peace Secretariat joined the AED team to conceive and execute the project. ..
The pilot project which was initiated on September 1 this year, is funded by Groove Networks which is co-owned by Information Technology giants Microsoft and Intel, the Appeal for Nobel Peace Laureate Foundation, AED, and USAID. " I believe the software is based on Groove. 4:23:59 PM
Such fragile threads: Stories from Iraq: "The longing of the Iraqi people for a society based on basic human rights sometimes appears strong enough to overcome fragmentation into ethnic groups and religious differences, but at other times seems fragile and tentative.. [from] an interview with Sheikh Abdul Mahdi, the administrator of the Hussein mosque, Sistani's deputy and one of his closest advisers: .. "We are 100 per cent the opposite of Al Qaida. We don't consider them Islamic at all. In Afghanistan and elsewhere, Al Qaida has been fighting against the Shi'ites. For us, the Islamic religion represents peace. Our religious authorities have issued strict orders forbidding us from taking up arms against America. Not that we agree with a permanent American presence in Iraq. ..
"There are Shi'a in Iraq and in Iran. We are related religiously. They believe in our religious scholars and we believe in theirs. But that has nothing to do with politics, or policy. The religious authority in Najaf [where Grand Ayatollah Sistani lives] has an independent policy from Iran. .. As for democracy, yes, of course, Islam and democracy can coexist. We understand democracy in a special way. But even so, Islam does not 1:47:37 PM
clash with the Western idea of democracy, where both the majority and minorities have rights. Yes, it is possible to practice this form of government in Iraq."
Thursday, November 20, 2003
SBC offers lower-cost VoIP:
"SBC rolled out the new VoIP service to 18 U.S. metro areas, including Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago, in its 13-state service region and plans to serve 30 metro markets, including New York and Philadelphia, by the end of the year, said Michael Coe, an SBC spokesman. The goal is to win long-distance customers across the U.S., by using VoIP to compete with traditional long-distance services offered by national carriers such as MCI and AT&T Corp.
The hosted service will allow enterprises to avoid hardware and maintenance costs associated with on-site VoIP servers, SBC said. " 4:17:45 PM
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Iraq-Al Queda contacts:
"The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies.. According to the memo--which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points--Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began." Article has extensive excerpts from the Feith memo, much of which refers to more detailed documents that have not yet been released. Also quotes 1999 press reports and Clinton speeches that speculate about Iraq-Queda coperation. 9:14:22 AM
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Solar in Tibet:"Since 1990, China has been promoting the "Sunshine Program" and the "Light of Science Program" in disadvantageous Ngari Prefecture to build solar power stations there. By now, about 60 solar power stations have been built and 80 percent of nomadic Tibetans are using solar energy for light and warmth at night. In a nomadic tent set up in Coqen county, 65-year-old Tibetan Dagyi said .. "My home can save approximately 100 ghee [yak butter for light] each year, which we can sell for about 1,200 yuan (about 145 US dollars)," said Dagyi. ..
According to sources with the Solar Energy Promotion Center in Ngari Prefecture, solar energy development has been introduced notonly for lighting but other areas like heating, agriculture, herding and use in water conservancy projects. By the end of the year, solar lights will be available for nearly 70,000 Tibetans in the prefecture." 8:31:03 PM
: New Los Gatos company with several experienced execs. "A new photovoltaic materials manufacturer, Solaicx, announces that it has a new manufacturing technology that will supply its customer, the photovoltaic cell and module manufacturers, the material to create solar cells with high conversion-efficiency at very low cost and on a grand-scale. ..With eight U.S. patents in-process, Solaicx is attacking the cost structure of the expensive wafer, the heart of 86 percent of solar cells made today. Wafers typically account for 50 percent of a photovoltaic module's cost. The Solaicx solution:
-- Reduces the amount of silicon used;
-- Provides higher quality material that enables 21 percent solar cell
-- Creates the equipment and processes necessary for handling high
volumes of material.
"Most photovoltaic manufacturing companies use semiconductor capital equipment
to make solar cells. The photovoltaic industry is growing so rapidly that it
has become a materials handling business -- requiring square kilometers of
material each year. Solaicx is designing and building the equipment and
process specifically to produce square kilometers of photovoltaic material.
This is the key to making solar electricity more affordable."
"Our target customers are excited that our material is crystalline
silicon, the material used in the vast majority of solar cells sold today. It
is the ideal material for long-lasting, high efficiency solar cells. What's
more, Solaicx will provide these photovoltaic cell and module manufacturers
with an immense cost advantage." 8:24:52 PM
Friday, November 14, 2003
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Progress in creating artificial virus: "While the project was based on widely known molecular biology principles, the breakthrough was in the short time — days instead of months or years — it took to construct the virus, said institute founder J. Craig Venter, one of the lead researchers. Researchers previously synthesized the polio virus from enzymes that naturally occurred in cells, but that process took three years and produced viruses with defects. The effort last summer by Venter and his colleagues took only two weeks from start to finish and created a viral DNA identical to the known genetic code, the researchers said... Even though the experiment involved a simple organism, the researchers suggested their work demonstrated the ability to quickly and accurately synthesize long segments of DNA that can serve as “a stepping stone to manipulating more complex organisms.” 10:44:33 PM
AIM Manufacturing Videos
: "AIM has developed an introductory website for kids and adults showing how various items are made. It covers over 40 different products and manufacturing processes, and includes almost 4 hours of manufacturing video. It is targeted towards non-engineers and engineers alike. Think of it as your own private online factory tour, or a virtual factory tour, if you wish." Fun. 3:18:39 PM
Great speech on civil liberties by Al Gore:
"this Administration has turned the fundamental presumption of our democracy on its head. A government of and for the people is supposed to be generally open to public scrutiny by the people, while the private information of the people themselves should be routinely protected from government intrusion. But instead, this Administration is seeking to conduct its work in secret even as it demands broad unfettered access to personal information about American citizens. Under the rubric of protecting national security, they have obtained new powers to gather information from citizens and to keep it secret. Yet at the same time they themselves refuse to disclose information that is highly relevant to the war against terrorism. " 1:23:25 PM
ExpLAN Computers Ltd - Solo computer project: "The Solo is an ultra-low power, transportable computer designed to operate from a number of different power sources including solar panels and lead-acid vehicle batteries. Its ultra-low-power design enables it to be used indefinitely away from sources of mains electricity. Solo is a transportable rather than a portable computer. The entire device can be solid state, having no disc drives or moving parts. .. It uses a TFT Liquid Crystal Display, which may optionally be touch sensitive, removing the need for a separate keyboard and mouse. It may be supplied in a variety of configurations and screen sizes depending on the location of the manufacturer and their intended market.
The Solo is designed to be assembled and supported by manufacturing companies based within Third World countries thereby offering employment within a high-technology industry without moving to an advanced westernised city. ExpLAN Computers Ltd is the coordinator of this project and is working with potential manufacturers, investors and government representatives who will license the rights to produce this innovative computer in their own country. " Pilots in use in Nigeria. 10:53:28 AM
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Iraq Said to Have Tried to Reach Last-Minute Deal to Avert War: Report on unofficial contacts with Iraq prior to the war. There is less there than the headline implies; the CIA is reported to have worked many other channels, and official channels were open and unused (including via the Russians, French, and Saudis). It seems to me that official third parties would have been better for propaganda value as well as negotiation. Christopher Hitchens argues that the reports appear to be accurate, and if you believe the offers were sincere, they would validate assumptions made in the buildup to war:
- approaches were made to the hawks, not "to the Carter Center", indicating that only the threat of force was taken seriously
- UN inspections were a farce, so inspection by "2000 FBI agents" and unlimited US military was offered as a serious inspection regime
- Iraq housed an important al Queda operative (wanted for the 1993 WTC bombing), and had for a long time
- Iraq could drop its support for Palestinian suicide bombers and other militants, confirming their cynical use of the issue (consistent with reports of manipulation of Palestinian students, etc.)
- access to Iraqi oil was on offer, so war wasn't necessary if that's all the US wanted
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
The many reasons
: Dowd: "the Bush brigade had many dovetailing reasons not to be dovish. Mr. Rumsfeld thought the war could showcase his transformation of the military to be leaner and more agile. Paul Wolfowitz thought the war could showcase his transformation of Iraq into a democracy. Dick Cheney thought the war could showcase his transformation of America into a dominatrix superpower. Karl Rove thought the war could showcase his transformation of W. into conquering hero. And Mr. Bush thought the war could showcase his transformation from family black sheep into historic white hat.
But now Wolfie's messianic vision of growing democracy in the Middle East is at odds with Rummy's stubborn desire to shrink the Army.." 9:02:31 PM
albawaba.com: The other side of Iraq: Arab news site with anti-US editorial page offers slice of life in Iraq: "now, the situation has dramatically changed, according to an Iraqi National Accord (INA) senior official who reiterated that the security chaos has subsided and life in the eight million people city is coming back to normal. "The crime rate has drastically declined as compared to the past months.. many Iraqi schools have been revamped in order to get rid of the devastated conditions of such schools due to long years of wars and negligence.. Life has become normal but you people outside Iraq see and hear about some exaggerated incidents that do not depict the status quo in the capital.
“Last time when I returned to Iraq I found Iraqi customs and other officials on the Iraqi side of the borders with Jordan which made me feel comfortable. Previously when the Americans were in that place we did not feel comfortable because we do not know their language,” said Husseini. He added, “the Iraqi border officials, although their appearance has changed, their conduct is still like before as many of them receive bribes and no papers can be finalized without putting some dollars in their pockets.” .. Arrival in Baghdad resembles arriving to a safe haven for travelers from Amman to the Iraqi capital. The highways are either controlled by the US forces or criminal rings...
Many people in Baghdad hate strangers as a Jordanian driver described the situation. The driver who spoke on condition of anonymity said "Jordanians, Palestinians and Syrians are on the top of the list followed by Europeans and rest of foreigners." He added that Baghdad inhabitants call these people as strangers and do not want to deal with them and particularly the Arabs. According to the driver, there are many reasons behind this phenomenon including the accusation by the Iraqis that Arabs supported the toppled regime. The Arab volunteers who fought with the Iraqi forces against the American invasion of Iraq are now labeled by the Iraqis as "terrorists.".. In Fallujah, which is the heart of the "Sunni triangle" north of Baghdad, the situation is different. The city embraces in addition to the former Baath party members the Arab fighters labeled as Mujahideen. " 8:26:06 AM
Monday, November 10, 2003
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Bush's Really Good Idea
: Fareed Zacharia on the gap between means and ends in the administration's democracy doctrine."Some things are true even if George W. Bush believes them.. [But] here is the hole in the doughnut. The strategy is never fleshed out, not even in a few lines.. What explains this strange mismatch between a powerful statement of goals and virtual silence about the means?
I think that the president—and many of his advisers—find it easy to embrace democracy but not the means to get there. Actually, they like one method. Let’s call it the “silver bullet” theory of democratization. .. Kill the tyrant, hold elections and the people will embrace democracy and live happily ever after. This theory is particularly seductive to neoconservatives because it means that the one government agency they love—the military—is the principal force for democratization around the world.
The second theory of democratization could be called the “long, hard slog” (thanks, Mr. Rumsfeld). It holds that genuine democracy requires the building of strong political institutions, a market economy and a civil society. In order to promote democracy, in this vision, you need economic reform, trade, exchange programs, legal and educational advances, and hundreds of such small-bore efforts. The agencies crucial to this process are State, USAID, even, God forbid, the EU and UN. After all, the EU provides almost twice as much foreign aid as the United States. And it is the UN that produces the much-heralded Arab Development Reports, which President Bush quoted in his speech.
The president must see that the first strategy has reached its limits. We have used military force in Afghanistan and Iraq, and while it has rid those countries of evil dictatorships, it has not brought them democracy. That goal remains fully dependent on the second strategy. And beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, unless Washington is going to invade all the countries of the Middle East, democracy will come only through a process of reform and modernization. But the administration cannot bring itself to fully support this softer strategy of democratization or call for more of it. (Real men don’t do foreign aid.) American efforts to promote democracy, for example, take up about 6 percent of our aid budget, just over $700 million. Why not double this?
For many of the administration’s ideologues, the long, hard slog toward liberal democracy is boring and unsexy. It means constant engagement, aid, multilateral efforts and a world not of black and white but of grays. ..
The neoconservative writer Robert Kagan recently declared, “We do not really know how to build a liberal society... But we do know a free and fair election when we see one.” This is both defeatist and wrong. In fact, we know what makes a liberal society—independent courts and political institutions, markets, a free press, a middle class—but building it takes time and effort. If you cannot embrace that process, then you are not really embracing democracy." 7:37:40 AM
What is an EPIRB ?
: "EPIRB stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. .. This page is intended to explain what is an EPIRB and to work out the advantages or disadvantages of the different EPIRB-systems: 121,5-MHz-ELT
-EPIRB and Inmarsat-E-EPIRBs
. The When activated, an EPIRB transmits a distress call which is picked up or relayed by satellites and transmitted via land earth stations to rescue services. There are basically three types of EPIRBs with distinct, important differences.. " These have been used for maritime wildlife tracking, military distress signals, and other applications. 1:19:06 AM
ACeS - ASIA Cellular Satellite
: Satphone of choice in South and East Asia
. "ACeS sells its services through its National Service Provider (NSP). ACeS NSPs may own gateways in their respective countries and also issue ACeS Satellite/GSM SIM cards with their own brand. ACeS and/or the NSP will appoint distributors or sales agents out of its NSP country to market the ACeS service." Prices 30-50 cents per minute, not that much more than roaming charges in some markets. With an asset tracking system:
"ACeS, announces the launch of ACeS-i its Asset Tracking and Fleet Management (ATFM) sevices in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. With ACeS-i, you can control and manage any asset anywhere in Asia, under ACeS Garuda-1 satellite coverage." 12:45:19 AM
Saturday, November 08, 2003
Full text: Bush speech on Iraq and the Middle East: For once, he's got a decent speechwriter. Noting the growth since 1970 from 40 to 120 democratic societies (including half the population of Islam), the party of Nixon and Kissinger adopts the perspective of Carter and Mandela:
- "The regime in Teheran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy." Like Blair's speech to Congress, [video] it ties sovereignity and legitimacy to universal notions of human rights, in principle anywhere (a regime must heed its people or lose its legitimacy).
- "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty". The most quoted line, dated from Roosevelt's deal with the House of Saud. The next 2 sentences go further: "As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo." As in Bucky Fuller's Utopia or Oblivion, and in the Cold War, for us to make it, we all have to make it.
- "Time after time, observers have questioned whether this country, or that people, or this group, are "ready" for democracy -- as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress. In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As men and women are showing, from Bangladesh to Botswana, to Mongolia, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path." So don't test for democracy, or for a standard of openness, but for the process of opening, at any level of development.
- "As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. .. And working democracies always need time to develop -- as did our own. We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice -- and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey."
Naturally this administration is a poor representative of this doctrine, with reliance on dictators like Musharraf, tolerance of backsliding in Russia, deafness to Palestine, etc. But these radical liberal themes are now considered fundamental to conservatives. 4:34:00 PM
Renewable energy to light up 160 Mindanao villages: "Amore, a joint program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAid), Winrock International, Mirant Philippines in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm), will ultimately electrify at least 160 barangays in several parts of Mindanao. .. Forms of renewable energy could include solar, wind, micro-hydro or biomass power. " 2:21:57 AM
Friday, November 07, 2003
Nigeria: Jigawa Earmarks N406m for Solar Power in 30 Villages
: "Jigawa government and a U.S.-based group, Solar Electricity Light Fund (SELF), have earmarked N406.69 million to provide solar energy in 30 villages in the next four years. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the solar energy project is designed to electrify community bore holes, health centres, primary schools and a mini-shopping centre in each village." 3:24:50 AM
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Verified Voting - Campaign To Demand Verifiable Election Results
: "[As a result of] election reform mandated by recent federal legislation .. many states are scurrying to replace their older equipment with new electronic voting computers. Unfortunately, election technology has not advanced to the point where it can provide us with electronic systems that are reliable enough to trust with our democracy. In other words, we just aren't there yet. .. Representative Rush Holt has already proposed a solution, in the form of a bill introduced into the House. The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (H.R. 2239) would mandate the necessary safeguards for U.S. elections in every state." Important cause, excellent website, up to date with what a citizen should do. 1:46:54 PM
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
: The story of how volunteers from four continents assembled donated equipment to combine VSAT, WiFi and VOIP in the high Himalaya. Once again, Dave Hughes was involved! The popular press (CNN, NYT) carried articles about the Everest Base Camp cyber-cafe, but this longer article
talks about the intention of the project to reverse brain drain and raise educational opportunities. Great photo gallery
also online. 3:33:04 PM
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
U.S. Wants Nicaragua to Destroy Shoulder-fired Missiles
: "U.S. authorities have sought to buy or seize the tens of thousands of such weapons thought to be dispersed around the world. But U.S. concern has been growing since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Nicaragua was sent thousands of the missiles during the 1980s, when it had a Marxist Sandinista leadership and a military alliance with the Soviet Union. More recently, Nicaragua has become a source of weapons for terrorists in Colombia. U.S. officials fear the missiles could be used against helicopters there" 3:43:35 PM
Iraqification: Losing Strategy "There are no shortcuts out. Iraq is America's problem. It could have been otherwise, but in the weeks after the war the administration, drunk with victory, refused to share power with the world. .. Talk about a drawdown of troops sends exactly the wrong message to the guerrillas. In the words of one North Vietnamese general, "We knew that if we waited, one day the Americans would have to go home."
"The central problem in Vietnam," says Brookings's Kenneth Pollack, "was that we had a corrupt and ineffective local government that did not inspire either the allegiance or the confidence of the Vietnamese people. Whatever happened militarily became secondary to this fundamental political reality." We don't have that problem in Iraq. But a hasty Iraqification will almost certainly produce it. " 3:23:51 PM
Gold "nano-bullets" shoot down tumours "The tiny silica particles are plated with gold and heat up when near infrared light (NIR) is shone on them. This kills the cancer cells... Body tissues are essentially transperant to NIR...
The Rice University team created nanoparticles from a non-conducting core of silica with a diameter of 110 nanometres and a 10 nm thick metal shell. Gold was used because it is biologically inert. When the nanoshells were added to human breast cancer cells in the test tube, and then exposed to both NIR, 100 per cent were killed, says West. "And we saw no changes in cell viability with just nanoshells or just the laser - it's a true on/off situation." The team also injected the nanoshells directly into the tumours of living mice and applied NIR. The tumours were destroyed within days. ..
The team has now engineered the nanoshells to specifically target tumour cells. In a recent study, submitted to Cancer Letters, they injected mice with nanoshells attached to an antibody that only binds to cancer cells. She says the tumours were "completely destroyed" and 150 days later the mice were alive and well with no tumour growth." The heat from the nanoshells makes holes in the cancer cell walls to kill them. 7:35:11 AM
Power Engineering magazine:
" Private finance and asset management firm New Energy Capital, LLC (NEC) and energy consulting firm KEMA Inc. announced Tuesday that they have entered into an agreement designed to promote investments in renewable energy and distributed generation.
NEC is raising capital to make equity investments in renewable energy, distributed generation and energy productivity projects, assets and developers. KEMA will provide a broad range of technical and financial due diligence services to support NEC's decision-making process. .. Dan W. Reicher, a founder and Managing Director at NEC, stated, "KEMA's support will greatly enhance our capabilities and complement our other strategic alliance partners." In addition to his role at NEC, he is also Executive Vice President of Northern Power Systems, Inc." 12:28:13 AM
BP Launches Rural Solar Project Initiative (October 28, 2003)
: "BP will lead an initiative with partner countries and financial bodies to structure a framework that simplifies the process by which funds are granted. The new framework for project terms would apply not just to solar PV but to any other form of renewable energy project for the developing world. The framework would standardize key areas such as the bid process, the evaluation criteria, the payment terms, maintenance, and performance criteria and remove anything that contributes to cost-adding unnecessary bureaucracy or, as importantly, does not support delivery.
Within the terms of this framework, BP will provide solar panels and services at cost over the next two years to developing world projects created under the auspices of the REEEP framework... the very fact that the business is approached as an intermittent series of projects increases costs because the start-up costs are repeated each time, and there are no economies of scale." The outcome of the proposed new framework is that it will help stimulate funds flow and efficient project administration and execution and contractors such as BP are held to account for delivery so that many more larger scale projects can be viable." 12:23:33 AM
Monday, November 03, 2003
Technology Gets in Its Own Way
: Interference on the airwaves, with a hopeful note: ""The time has come to consider an entirely new paradigm for interference protection," Powell declared in a speech last year at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "Transmitters would be required to ensure that the interference level — or interference temperature — is not exceeded. Receivers would be required to tolerate an interference level."
The idea has shown some promise. Last year, the Pentagon objected to allowing the fast-growing market for wireless computing equipment to use the 5-gigahertz frequency band, saying the technology, known as Wi-Fi, would interfere with military missile radar. After testing the claim, FCC engineers brokered a solution that requires Wi-Fi devices on the 5-GHz band to use dynamic frequency selection and shut down when they sense competing military use of the airwaves." 11:57:12 PM
THE SOCIOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY OF TERRORISM: WHO BECOMES A TERRORIST AND WHY? An extensively documented 1999 interagency federal report that anticipated much of 911. "Al-Qaida’s expected retaliation for the U.S. cruise missile attack against al-Qaida’s training facilities in Afghanistan on August 20, 1998, could take several forms of terrorist attack in the nation’s capital. Al-Qaida could detonate a Chechen-type building-buster bomb at a federal building. Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House. Ramzi Yousef had planned to do this against the CIA headquarters. In addition, both al-Qaida and Yousef were linked to a plot to assassinate President Clinton during his visit to the Philippines in early 1995. Following the August 1998 cruise missile attack, at least one Islamic religious leader called for Clinton’s assassination, and another stated that “the time is not far off” for when the White House will be destroyed by a nuclear bomb. A horrendous scenario consonant with al-Qaida’s mindset would be its use of a nuclear suitcase bomb against any number of targets in the nation’s capital. Bin Laden allegedly has already purchased a number of nuclear suitcase bombs from the Chechen Mafia. Al-Qaida’s retaliation, however, is more likely to take the lower-risk form of bombing one or more U.S. airliners with time bombs. Yousef was planning simultaneous bombings of 11 U.S. airliners prior to his capture. Whatever form an attack may take, bin Laden will most likely retaliate in a spectacular way for the cruise missile attack against his Afghan camp in August 1998."
For the long term, it finds no personality type or pathology among terrorists, making profiling unproductive. It recommends encouraging splits within the groups, through capture and confinement (not martyrdom) for its leaders, and amnesty or other political measures. 10:27:40 PM
As Earth Warms, the Hottest Issue Is Energy: Review of basic global warming/energy/technology issues. Some facts and figures:
- An automobile generates perhaps 50 to 100 tons of carbon dioxide in its lifetime.
- Each American, on average, generates about 45,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. That is about twice as much as the average person living in Japan or Europe and many times more than someone living in a developing country like Zimbabwe, China or Panama.
- Currently, the world's energy use per second is about 12 trillion watts — which would light up 120 billion 100-watt bulbs — and 85 percent of that comes from fossil fuels.
- In March, Dr. Hoffert and two colleagues reported in Science that to limit the temperature increase to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, non-carbon-dioxide-emitting sources would have to generate 7 trillion to 25 trillion watts by midcentury, 4 to 14 times as much as current levels. That is roughly equivalent to adding a large emissions-free power plant every day for the next 50 years. And by the end of the century, they wrote, at least three-quarters and maybe all of the world's energy would have to be emission-free.
The End of the West?: "Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, noted to me in Brussels the other day that for a generation Americans and Europeans shared the same date: 1945. A whole trans-Atlantic alliance flowed from that postwar shared commitment to democratic government, free markets and the necessity of deterring the Soviet Union. America saw the strength of Europe as part of its own front line and vice versa, and this bond "made the resolution of all other issues both necessary and possible," said Mr. Bildt.
Today, however, we are motivated by different dates. "Our defining date is now 1989 and yours is 2001," said Mr. Bildt. Every European prime minister wakes up in the morning thinking about how to share sovereignty, as Europe takes advantage of the collapse of communism to consolidate economically, politically and militarily into one big family. And the U.S. president wakes up thinking about where the next terror attack might come from and how to respond -- most likely alone. "While we talk of peace, they talk of security," says Mr. Bildt. "While we talk of sharing sovereignty, they talk about exercising sovereign power. When we talk about a region, they talk about the world. No longer united primarily by a common threat, we have also failed to develop a common vision for where we want to go on many of the global issues confronting us."" 8:26:09 PM
Saturday, November 01, 2003
The madness of Kim Jong Il: Extensive review of the history and the current politics. "Shin spoke bitterly of the years he had lost in the North, yet even as he described Kim Jong Il's cynicism and called him an evil, controlling micromanager, most of his anger was reserved for South Korean leaders Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun, who have abandoned a half-century of hostility to the north and established a rapprochement with Pyongyang. Shin has written a memoir of his kidnapping and sojourn in the North. It is entitled Our Escape Isn't Over Yet because, he said, 'South Korea is now sympathising with North Korea, and it's a dangerous situation.' ..
To speak of North Korea under the Kim dynasty simply as a Communist state is insufficient. In recent decades, references to Marxism and Leninism have steadily faded from its propaganda. Marx and Lenin were not Korean, and North Korea's ruling ideology, Juche - which means self-reliance - is predicated on being independent from the claims or destinies of other revolutions. In its most obvious form, the Juche idea is a claim of radical autonomy: absolute political and economic independence for the Korean nation without any desire or need for traffic of any kind with other peoples. ..
Refugees' stories are often treated with suspicion, but in the late 90s, as the number of malnourished North Koreans in northeast China swelled from the thousands to the tens of thousands and then into the hundreds of thousands, their accounts of the conditions that had driven them to risk their lives and escape had a cumulative authority that defied disbelief. What's more, the fact that they were there - that so many had got out - was, in itself, evidence of a radical breakdown inside North Korea. ..
The passion North Koreans felt for Kim Il Sung, which was genuine, however misplaced and deluded, does not appear to have been transferred to Kim Jong Il, who is remote and secretive and lacks his father's populist touch. He has only once spoken before the general public, at a military parade in 1992, when he was heard to blurt out: 'Glory to the heroic Korean People's Army.'..
[Defector] Kang, who now works as a newspaper reporter in the South, regarded both the fanfare of the sunshine policy and the caution of Roh Moo Hyun's peace-and-prosperity approach as hopelessly naive, and as something worse than appeasement, more like capitulation. If the issue is protecting the South's pocketbook, he said, then what about the South Korean stock market's 5 per cent plunge when North Korea admitted to having a nuclear-weapons programme, and the enormous defence expenditures on both sides of the DMZ? .. After the UN human-rights vote [in which South Korea did not participate], he wondered, 'Why doesn't this government think about the situation it will face after unification when North Koreans ask why it didn't care about human rights?'" 9:25:25 PM
Arms and Aims: The Art of War vs. the Craft of Occupation: "The American forces have often been operating on the basis of inadequate or bad intelligence, according to a report that was recently released by the Center for Army Lessons Learned, a study group in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The United States has 69 intelligence teams in Iraq, but they produce about 30 reports a day, about one-quarter as many as they should, the study found. The Army continues to suffer from a severe shortage of interpreters, and many of those it does employ are barely competent, the report says. ..
Lawrence J. Korb, who was an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, is less optimistic. "Pretending things are better than they are, that's what worries me, that they don't seem to face up to it," he said in a telephone interview, referring to the Bush administration. "Before you can deal with the problem, you've got to recognize what the problem is."" 10:35:02 AM
: Review of ICT development in universities and local software development in Cebu, Philippines (now second to Manila in ICT activity). 9:52:41 AM