|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog
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