Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  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  permalink  

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  permalink  

Baghdad residents point to failures by US after Iraq's fall: point-by-point review of mistakes made.  12:51:34 AM  permalink  


daily link  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  permalink  

Affordable Neural Network Add-ins for Excel: $40; wonder if it works?  3:22:23 AM  permalink  


daily link  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  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, November 05, 2003


Linking Everest: 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  permalink  


daily link  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  permalink  

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  permalink  

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  permalink  

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  permalink  

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  permalink  


daily link  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  permalink  

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  permalink  

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.
  8:38:00 PM  permalink  

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  permalink  

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