03/29/2009

The mist thereafter

Posted by – March 29, 2009

Yesterday, it was Earth Hour day, which is a WWF-supported event that urges people to turn off the light switch for an hour. While I didn’t join the call, I understand that this is a highly symbolic gesture (CBC coverage of the event). Related to this: I see that Europe finally went to Daylight Savings Time.

I have a whole bunch of older links sitting in my bookmarks and this is probably a good time to get rid of them, some of them related, some of them out of order.

Last month, I ran into the Worldfish Center, an organization that published a press release laced with pretty graphics that showed which fishing countries were vulnerable because of climate change (Summary report + PDF files).

Recently, an Edinburgh researcher came up with a number of intelligent alien worlds that may be out there. The researcher ran simulations in 3 scenarios: The first one assumed that it’s difficult to form life but that it evolves easy (361 intelligent civilizations). The second scenario assumed life was formed easily but struggled to develop intelligence. Under these conditions, over 31,000 forms of life were estimated to exist. The last scenario examined that life was passed on to planets during asteroid collisions, which led to 37,000 intelligent civilizations.

How are your GW-BASIC skills lately? Good I hope? I read this article and it threw me right back into BASIC. The article slams Dembski for not paying attention to the finer details of a BASIC program written by Dawkins to illustrate the difference between random mutation and random mutation with selection. Musgrave’s BASIC code can be found here and it’s remarkably not written in GW-Basic (oh the disappointment). However it features the use of those elegant GOTOs.

12/22/2007

Tulip

Posted by – December 22, 2007

Yesterday A tulip shaped island?(I think), the International Herald Tribune posted an article about Dutch plans to create a tulip-shaped island in the North Sea. The plan was brought up by the Dutch Innovation Platform (Dutch-only) with the goal to showcase the Dutch expertise in water management.

The idea is also mentioned at Wired’s, to be exactly, right here. The posting (it’s a blog, get it?) fires a couple of potshots at the idea, and for this, the author got (quite) some flak and history lessons with the usual bits of chauvinism.

That said, the idea is actually refreshing but not new: Earlier, Dubai decided to create 2 palm-shaped islands, which (naturally and intentionally) can only be seen from high above. With the rise of the (online) availability of satellite pictures (having become commodities, as you will), this is probably going to be an upward trend. This also brings me to the ever-mentioned claim: ‘The Great Wall of China is the only human-made object visible in space’. It’s not (See also this article at space.com).

11/27/2007

Pray, tell, rain

Posted by – November 27, 2007

I read that sm_corona_virus.jpgthe Orthodox Church of Cypres has ordered priests to pray for rain on December the 2nd of this year. It appears that this is a routine that has been done before, most recently when a comparable drought struck the island 9 years ago.

BBC also reports that scientists have created a detailed map of Antartica. The images come (primarily) from the Landsat spacecraft and there are plans to make the data available for use in software like ‘Virtual Earth’ and ‘Google Earth’. You may want to view the results right at LIMA, that is, if you can get through the bottleneck (yeah, yeah, it’s a popular site this week).

And last but not least, an excellent (long) article about retrovirusses at The Newyorker. The article discusses the influence virusses had (and have) on our body’s immune system and cancer, and (particularly) about how retrovirusses have become part of our DNA. There’s some interesting commentary about new approaches to tackle HIV (a retrovirus), for example, by accelerating its life cycle (the faster a cell reproduces the more errors it makes, eventually passing non-threatening DNA to future generated cells.). Mind-blowing read. You can read the follow-up discussing over at MetaFilter.

11/18/2007

I, link.

Posted by – November 18, 2007

A coupleWarming over all continents of links I ran into which are worth mentioning and that only for future reference:

I discovered NYT’s amazing Multimedia section only because I was looking for photos discussing the Black Sea environmental disaster (discussed earlier, direct link to photos). I knew that the paper did some podcasts but the photo section (for some kind of reason) is something I must have missed.

In March 2007, Conde Nast Traveler sent out a reporter to travel around the world in exactly 80 days: he wasn’t allowed to board a plane or use a vehicle going faster than 100mph. The result isn’t as (scientifically) surprising as the end of that similar-named Jules Verne story, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Friday night I was reading up on the IPCC’s report on global warming: I read that there was going to be a crucial announcement Saturday morning. The (draft) report can be found right over at that link too (direct link [PDF]).

10/13/2007

Evil feral stuff

Posted by – October 13, 2007

I have NSPE 2007not really been following any news but ‘skirmished’ through some of the Nobel prize announcements: Doris Lessing won the one for Literature. In the Physics section, the prize went (deservedly so) to two scientists who were instrumental in the development of hard disks. But the biggest surprise was the announcement for the Peace prize, which went to both Al Gore and the IPCC (Nobel Prize website).

Feral Pigs On A Rampage: I can’t wait for the 100th installment of the movie based on a true story that made the headlines in 2007! The most notable quote comes from a ‘Boar Buster’ who equates hunting pigs to ‘guerilla warfare’:

I need to utilize the information that I gain from the local population and then to be able to effectively react to that information to respond to the incursions from the feral pigs.

What he needs is smart bombs.

I also read an article about the environmental issues concerning the Three Gorges Dam (Wikipedia). I only mention this dam because, well, it’s so prominently featured in the Civ IV game. I find that there’s some irony in ‘building a dam to provide clean energy’ versus ‘the dam could cause landslides, soil erosion and pollution’.

07/24/2007

All things Bulgarian world news.

Posted by – July 24, 2007

This morning, I read that the 6 Bulgarian medical workers who were imprisoned in Libya, were released after being jailed for 8 years. If you’re not familiar with the story, the BBC’s Q&A and the workers’ profiles should get you up to speed fast. To summarize (and since we all like happy-ends), the EU paid a lot for this (there’s still a lot of confusion about what amount was paid) and will start normalizing their trade relations with the once-pariah-for-life-country.

The other thing that surprised was that the Bulgarians were flown to Bulgaria in the French presidential plane accompanied by no-one else than Mrs. Sarkozy, which has European (and particularly French) papers wonder if this was ‘a presidential scoop’ or that she actually played a role. It should be no surprise that mr. Sarkozy has planned a visit to Libya tomorrow.

Most of the North American news, however, concentrated on the Democratic candidates debate, which (for a change) included the First Ever Video Comments And Questions Section, featuring all your favourite YouTube stars. Oh Noes! It wasn’t as dramatic or bad: but I wonder which (American) demographic these YouTube users actually represent.

Giving your kids a laptop is not good, according to this Canada.com article: It distracts. According to a fellow student:

In the classrooms itself, you’ll see students who are on it procrastinating, not paying attention. But I don’t see the Internet as any more of a distraction as doodling notes with a paper and pen. Before the laptop, some people would play games on cell phones or text message.”

I read an article about the upcoming quad-core processors that generally run on lower speed but (theoretically) surpass the current single core processors because they handle things more efficiently: Note that efficiently is the correct term here. The article raised some concerns about the implications of multi-core programming (threading) and the state of that kind of programming in the current popular OSses. For now, you should do with Intel’s comments about multi-cores and programming techniques.

And last but not least, with all these flash floods in Great Britain, a study that (unequivocally) shows that humans are responsible for the change in global rain patterns. And, what can I say about that heatwave in Hungary?

04/28/2007

Dead wood

Posted by – April 28, 2007

Links then:Dead wood

1. Earlier I mentioned “America at a Crossroads”, the excellent series broadcasted by the PBS. It appears that you might be able to find them as torrents online.

2. Via 3 Quarks Daily, too many ways of lacing your shoes. There are 2 trillion methods of tying your shoelaces.

3. You may have heard of Canada’s new enviromental plans. First they were (accidentally) faxed to the opposition. And then today there was a heated exchange between the Environment minister and well-known Canadian environmentalist, David Suzuki. What you may not have heard, is that the (Progressive) Conservative premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Danny Williams and prime minister Stephen Harper don’t really seem to get along together. Williams has gone so far by encouraging voters in his province not to vote for Conservative candidates in the next elections.

4. US then: Tenet blasts Bush administration. I saw a brief section on CNN about this but turned it off fast after John King appeared to be blasting Tenet. Quite confusing. Has CNN suddenly become ‘non-liberal’ media1?

5. Via Gothamist, this excellent live performance of Bjork (Earth Intruders) at SNL’s. I always thought Bjork to be a genius: of course she’s weird, yes, but she’s definitely unique and always at the forefront of changing the direction of popular music. Excellent. And oh. Yes: she makes no sense.

And that’s it for Friday the 13th.

Update: Looks like this is the official clip for ‘Earth Intruders’.
1 It just came to me that this has nothing to do with pro-liberal or anti-liberal slants of the mainstream media. US broadcast corporations are just commercial institutions and evidently, they follow the ‘mainstream’ trends because that’s where the money is supposed to be made.

03/17/2007

Politics

Posted by – March 17, 2007

I followed A Plane and a sunthe events yesterday, when the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform had Valerie Plame on the witness stand who, under oath, told the public her side of the story (QT7). I flipped forth and back between opinions of Democratic, Republican bloggers and what not. I can only conclude that this country, a country with so many divisive opinions, is so frigging screwed up. The Internet, it’s almost like a catalyst for political polarization, semantics wars and twits1.

A couple of days ago, Stephen Colbert had Ayaan Hirsh Ali on his show (QT7). It ended up to be a less remarkable interview (I dare to say ‘boring’).

On a lighter side, UK climate researchers urge for more restraint on global warming issues and warn against the danger of ‘Hollywoodization’. Actually, the only reason why I link to that BBC article is because it has this amazing shot of a plane and the sun (see above).

1 I was quoting Larry Johnson’s remark about mrs. Toensing

02/02/2007

Not another groundhog day

Posted by – February 2, 2007

This is the future speaking: Shubenacadie Sam predicted that Spring will come early this year. Live from the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park. Oh wait, they don’t do frequent updates I guess. Their loss. Cuteness at the local newspaper’s website.

The premier of NS officially announced that Halifax is going to host the 2011 Winter Games, which means that the Central Nova bid (Truro and environs [Hub Nova]) did not make it. Subtle twist to the plot is that most likely Wentworth is going to host the specific skiing games: I think the winter sport town also played an important part of Hub Nova’s bid.

David Suzuki was in town and I wouldn’t be surprised if his visit to the local school attracted lots of traffic and lots of buzz. A tiny fragment of this news can (once again) be found at the CBCs.

And don’t miss the endless re-runs of ‘Groundhog day’. I bet it will be on too many channels1, 2.

1 Actually, I might be wrong today. Good god. That movie should be forbidden stuff.
2 Since it has been years ago I watched this movie, I should consider renting it one of these days.