Friday, December 22, 2006

Sporadic Blogging

Christmas is here and that means that I am off for a week and change with the lab shutting down. We'll be going off to my aunt's for a week long visit over New Year's a couple days after Xmas. With luck and no problems - and no further airport shutdowns on the dates we want to go - we'll be off to Denver to a tour through the Colorado Rockies.

I doubt that I will be getting in much in the way of blogging for the next two weeks, but it might be possible. You might get something on the 8th of January, but I'm heading up a centerwide GPFS upgrade then, so no promises. Assuming I'm not a dead synapsid the next day, I can promise something then. Until then, there's going to be at best itermittant blogging.

With that said:


ps i do realize I owe picts. They'll be forthcoming.

Permian T Maps: I Missed Some

Again this is Dr Ron Blakey's work.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Turiasaurus riodevensis: Sauropod in Boots?

At 125 ft and 48 tons, that's a big monster. Poor Seismosaurus - which was excavated near where I grew up - is getting competition!

Going to Miss This

Chances of a Friday or Saturday shuttle landing at White Sands Space Harbor are greater than they have been since the shuttle landed at White Sands almost 25 years ago.

Poor weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and at Edwards Air Force Base in California, could force NASA officials to land Discovery in New Mexico. Personnel at White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo began preparations for a possible shuttle landing Friday afternoon.

Jim Eckles, a WSMR spokesman who assisted the media when Columbia landed at White Sands in March 1982, said NASA's involvement in a possible landing is greater than it has been since then.

"It's certainly a step above most times in the past," Eckles said.

More than 100 people from WSMR, Holloman, and White Sands Space Harbor could be involved in a possible shuttle landing. Personnel from NASA are expected to arrive at White Sands today to assist.

There's no way to get us out there in time. A friend of mine that works at WSMR is considering postponing going back with his family to his folks place to see this. Lucky sod.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

CIS States May NOT Join NATO

The Commonwealth of Independent States meets the interests of all its members and the international community. It has potential for development and cooperation in all directions,” says the statement issued by the Russian State Duma today. The parliamentarians underscore that ‘peacekeeping operation for rescuing human lives and ensuring of human rights in conflict zones were successfully carried out within the CIS framework.’ They also drew attention to the growth of the CSTO’s authority and efficiency of cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The deputies remark that ‘development of integration forces in the CIS meets serious opposition of various outer forces not interested in formation of a strong integration union, a rival in the world market and political arena.’ The Duma deputies are convinced that ‘membership in NATO of any CIS member state conflicts with the highest strategic interests of these states and wish of the peoples.’ The State Duma expresses its negative attitude to NATO enlargement to the East considering it ‘contradicting to the interests of international security.’

“15 years that followed the CIS formation were the years of serious ordeals and sometimes disappointments. However the CIS has not lost importance. This commonwealth can consolidate positions in the world politics and economy via mutually beneficial and equal cooperation,” the statement says, reports ITAR-TASS.

How long until they state they must intervene to counter a CIS member from joining NATO? Not long, I bet, not long.

An Hmm Paleo Blog

This blog has some very interesting paleontology related articles.

It also has some rather, to me, tasteless comics.

I think that the former outways the latter, but you might want to approach with care. I wonder if we could get Darren Naish's attention directed towards it to see what he thinks.

Permian Maps

Dr Ron Blakey has an interesting set of paleogeography maps of the world and especially NorAm. These are interesting to constrast with Dr Scotese's.

The Permian globe.

NorAm's Permian Geography

The PT Boundary in the SW US:

Now you know where to go hunting for potential Permian-Triassic Boundary sequences. I'd be itching to see if there are any terrestrial vertebrate - especially therapsid - fossils to be found in the sequences. NorAm at the time was close to equatorial, iirc, and theories state it would have been hot. Damned hot.

Parallel Processing for Scientific Computing

Scientific computing has often been called the third approach to scientific discovery, emerging as a peer to experimentation and theory. Historically, the synergy between experimentation and theory has been well understood: experiments give insight into possible theories, theories inspire experiments, experiments reinforce or invalidate theories, and so on. As scientific computing has evolved to produce results that meet or exceed the quality of experimental and theoretical results, it has become indispensable.

Parallel processing has been an enabling technology in scientific computing for more than 20 years. This book is the first in-depth discussion of parallel computing in 10 years; it reflects the mix of topics that mathematicians, computer scientists, and computational scientists focus on to make parallel processing effective for scientific problems. Presently, the impact of parallel processing on scientific computing varies greatly across disciplines, but it plays a vital role in most problem domains and is absolutely essential in many of them.

Parallel Processing for Scientific Computing is divided into four parts: The first concerns performance modeling, analysis, and optimization; the second focuses on parallel algorithms and software for an array of problems common to many modeling and simulation applications; the third emphasizes tools and environments that can ease and enhance the process of application development; and the fourth provides a sampling of applications that require parallel computing for scaling to solve larger and realistic models that can advance science and engineering.

Some of my coworkers contributed to this. My boss' boss' boss' boss (Horst) was one of the editors. If you're going to be doing HPC parallel programming, I'd recommend it. I'll be probably picking up a copy, myself. I've not been doing much in the way of coding for a while. That's something I'd like to address again.

It ain't cheap though.

Razib's Chemical Pathway

[My wife the hot chick]

Razib has a reaction to some of the reactions to his post about 'hot chicks' and science fiction. The dogpile on Razib is a bit harsher than it ought to be. I was going to post a 'reply' to his original post, but thought better of it. I wish I had now. I originally wanted to snark that he's been missing out. There are plenty of 'hot chicks' that love SF. There are plenty of hot chicks interested in science. He's just been missing out. I got double plus lucky and caught one. She's only been recently turned onto science fiction - she's pretty interested in Stephenson, but only in some of his concepts - and has had a love of science for a long time, but in her native culture was discouraged from pursuing it. Having me as a spouse, many of you can guess whether or not I am discouraging it. lol.

The thing is that I have met a number of hot chicks over the years that are science and SFnally oriented. They were all taken and disinterested, but Amy the redheaded entomologist, that stunning blonde opitcal astronomer, the leather clad chemist, the tres cute programmer from the NMSU CS department, and several others have long underscored the hot chix are not just different now, but even as far back as my whole previous dating life.

On the other hand, Razib was blitz-schpanked for his overly honest commentary about liking hot chicks. Men have been traditionally villified for being overly attracted to the 'beautiful' and 'hot' among women. Almost anyone who has been in the dating swimming pool recently can attest this is not merely a problem that women are facing. Men are now being judged with the meter stick these days. If you're not hot , pretty boy with a flashing neon sign, you're mostly SOL dating. Women have become just as shallow - if ever they were not - as men are.

But wait! You think, you, Will, caught a hotchick and you're not a pretty boy (*mumbled*or even close).

I was just plain damned lucky that I met my wife. She is uberhot with flaming contrails. She has wonderful personality and brain that I admire a great deal: she has a bachelor's in accounting from her home country already and is now seeking a double bachelor's in biology and business management. The big catch was that my wife hates pretty boys. This is partially a cultural artifact. It's also her own personal observation that men that are as pretty as women tend to have other attributes that are akin to women: her thoughts, not mine; I just curse that pretty boys. However, women as a rule of thumb among the young prefer them these days! This may change. It may not. I cannot say. I am not overly worried about it: I've pulled my meager cards from the table and walked away with my winnings and folks, I got the jackpot!

So, my point, which may have been lost a bit in this post, is that gang beating Razib for prefering hot women is so stupid and hypocritical that it's beyond inane. Yeah, perhaps Razib needs to meet more brilliant, beautiful women. Instead of beating on him and ranting in a semi-racist manner, perhaps it might have been better to have said, "It's about time you noticed, bub."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

India's Space Plans

Kumar said that, after a series of discussions within India’s scientific community, ISRO has decided to embark on a more ambitious series of [unmanned - edt:tDT] missions. “They basically demanded that we go forward and do these exploration missions,” he said. Those missions include Chandrayaan-2, a second lunar mission, around 2011; a mission to an asteroid or comet in 2015; and a Mars mission in 2019.


While the initial focus of India’s manned space program is on an orbital flight, similar to China’s Shenzhou spacecraft, the country’s scientists have ambitious plans. Kumar said in his presentation that one potential future mission would be a manned lunar mission as early as 2019, around the same time the US is scheduled to return to the Moon as part of the Vision for Space Exploration. However, Kumar didn’t specify whether this would be a simple circumlunar mission—which would still be very challenging—or an actual landing attempt, which would be far more difficult and expensive.

India's getting ambitious. I wish them well, but I doubt that they will land a man on the moon at the same time the US does (if we get to :() The unmanned missions are a little more believable though. The Soviets/Russians have sent probes to Mars, but not recently. We have. The Europeans have. The Japanese have tried. Now the Indians? When will the Chinese?

A Horrible Way to Die


I'll skip the obvious comment.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Penguins Are a Virus (and so is Nemo)

My daughter has been hooked on penguins. Big time. It started innocently enough. She saw them in the San Francisco Zoo. They have a nice set up there. Then this summer I bought her a huge stuffed penguin, an emperor penguin that's pretty much life sized. We were at Sea World a little while back and she saw the penguins there. We decided to give in and get her a baby penguin toy as a gift. What clinched it though was actually was that we were extremely tired of Finding Nemo.

A couple that we are friends with have a daughter that's a year and change older than Avrora. She's cute and we have babysat her now and again. For a while there, she was uber hooked on Nemo. She kept wanting to watch Nemo when she came over. My wife decided, "Why not? It's harmless enough." We'd been avoiding letting Avrora watch TV...well...for some reason, Avrora got just as hooked and for a long while there drove my wife nuts with 'NEMONEMONEMONEMO' during the day when my wife is not in school. When my wife needed to study, she'd give in occasionally. When I stayed home with my daughter when she was sick, I indulged her as well. Well, finally, I got a little sick of NEMO and thought that if she needed something to watch, why not something more educational? So I started Tivoing nature shows.

Unfortunately, my wife doesn't care for anything too...bloody. It's one reason that she's completely and utterly disinterested in BSG. This goes for nature shows too. In a twist I would have never expected, it seems she grew up with nature as disney under the Soviet Union and xUSSR Ukraine even worse than kids here do. The fact that animals ett each other in rather vicious ways kinda upsets her (at least to watch). Lions chewing on a carcas can make her more than lose her appetite. For me, it's, well, natural and doesn't bother my stomach at all. Shows about surgery on the other hand...Anyways, I digress.

One of the consequnces of my wife's preferences wrt nature shows is that I need to prescreen them before showing them to my daughter (and wife). I ended up finding one that wasn't too bloody. It was about Penguins. We all watched it. My wife liked it. I liked it. My daughter loved it. Perhaps a little too much. Now instead of NEMONEMONEMONEMO, it's PENGUINA!PENGUINA!

Well, it's better than Nemo, I s'pose.

To that end, we went to see Happy Feet last night. Eh. Not as funny as I'd hoped. Not as visually stunning either. The only shot that impressed me was the blizzard scene. My wife wasn't even impressed with that. My daughter on the other hand...she enjoyed it. We had a small running commentary of 'uh oh's, 'umpallah' (badly trasnliterated Russian of 'fall down'), etc. It was her first time at the movies and she had a wonderful time. One downside: my daughter saw the popcorn and said, 'NOSE!'

This morning it started again though: PENGUINA!PENGUINA!

And I became convinced. These are nothings more than memetic viruses that prey on the minds of children. :P

Nukes for Fresno!

A group of Fresno businessmen announced Wednesday that they have formed a corporation and signed a letter of intent with a power-plant developer to explore plans for a nuclear reactor in Fresno.

But with a California law banning new nuclear plants until the federal government comes up with a plan for safely disposing of spent fuel — and with federal plans for such disposal in limbo — the Fresno group's efforts could well be in vain, anti-nuclear groups said.

Still, the backers of Fresno Nuclear Energy Group LLC are optimistic, noting that new federal incentives for nuclear plants and California's growing need for electricity sources that don't emit greenhouse gases could improve their prospects.


Tha's gonna be a political circus even if the intent is good.

Friday, December 15, 2006

House Building Project Iteration x

This actually evolved out of a SHWI discussion. This is another rough cut drawing. This one was done in autocad. This is far from done.

Any thoughts? Comments?

Canada says NO to Exo Mars

The federal government has turned down a request by Canada's space industry to support a contract that would have allowed the companies to build the European Space Agency's Mars surface rover, CBC News has learned.

The decision stunned the companies and has left the ESA scrambling to find a new partner, as no European firm is adequately prepared to match the technical abilities of Canadian firms to build its ExoMars rover.

The ESA wanted Canadian space companies — considered world leaders in robotics — to build the rover for its planned exploration of Mars by 2015. The rover would have a far more sophisticated robotics package than the current U.S. platforms in use.

In July, the companies made an impassioned presentation to federal Industry Ministry officials for a clearer mandate for the Canadian Space Agency, which included making the Mars rover project its top priority, the CBC's Henry Champ reported on Thursday.

The project required no additional funding from Ottawa, but was contingent upon $100 million over 10 years from the existing CSA budget being redirected to the program by restructuring priorities and cancelling or postponing other projects, according to documents obtained by the CBC.


The rover decision has the companies threatening to take their operations south of the border, which observers fear could lead to a brain drain of Canadian designers and scientists similar to the one suffered in the wake of the abrupt cancellation of the Avro Arrow fighter-interceptor program in 1959.

After the Diefenbaker government axed the Arrow, many of the Avro Canada engineering and technical staff left Canada for the U.S. to become lead engineers, program managers and heads of engineering in NASA's manned space programs Mercury to Apollo, which led to the first man on the moon in 1969.

Okay, that sucks. It's causing a headache for the Europeans. It's causing a headache for the Canucks. Even though it might benefit the States with our space push, I really want more countries out exploring to make sure we don't lose sight of the fact we have competition and to stay foremost...well...;)

Out of curiousity a question for my Canuck readers: if there's a government change, what's the likelihood of this getting reversed? How strong is the Liberal support for the space program?

PS Bringing up the Arrow...again?

late pix

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Soooo...why don't you?

I consider that this blog belongs in part to the HPC arena. I don't blog too often about it though. Doesn't that seem a bit of a contradiction? Well, kinda, sorta.

The one of the reasons that I don't do it too often is because of the issues wrt to all the NDAs I sign. I sign a helluvalota them. Stuff that slashdot and others hear about or that the press gets 'leaked' to I normally hear about two years ahead of time. By then, to me its old hat. A lot of people are going on about something someone has planned and is bringing to market when we were briefed some time ago and asked for our feedback.

The second reason is office politics. When you have a lot of double plus tech enabled geeks, they're bound to find what I write online. Sometimes they do. I know that at least two of my coworkers read this blog. I'd rather not say something that will get me gobsmacking nuked at work. That nearly happened when a series of posts were tangentially related to work.

Th third reason happens to be inter-site politics. There are a few sites that are not so much collaborators as outright rivals and enemies. Funding raids are not unheard of. HPC is a small stream with lots of cash flowing through it. It has to be: these machines are fscking expensive. Often large upgrades in processing power are achieved once you have crossed a certain dollar threshold: frex, if you pay $30 million for your Unfundia Mandatium UberFlopPuter-7 and then can get an additional $5 million, you get more than a 1/6 increase in processing powerr and sustained performance. Reason being that there are infrastructure bits that all machines need that are often paid for in that first chunk (disk space, interconnect, etc) that are easily scalable (to some extent) with a little more money. Lab X then wants to get that money and sometimes Lab Y has it but looks vulernable. I'd rather not be the reason that we would EVER look vulernable! And we're not. We're actually rather dangerous in our own right.

When I do post about HPC, it's normally about a side project I am working on that isn't so important to the shape of the supercomputing world. Often my side projects have some serious implications for those that are at the top and take time to think, but they're emphatetically not stuff that will impact our funding.

I do have a project that I am cooking. I need to find a stylized terror bird skull logo first. I will need to generate 120 TB of data - I insist on real science data instead of just goofy, nasty bits that will be thrown away later. That means a science app - and project - that generates that much data. I am going to need a terabit fat pipe. and the associated fiber. The disk space too: that's not too hard, I have a vendor that's itching to provide this. I need some servers and a few HPC platforms (check) (and yes, few). Most importantly, I need management sign-up.

That is going to be harder than all the rest.

We'll see what we can do. The question is whether or not to do it in SC07 or SC08 (Reno ro Austin respectively). Time will tell...and time will tell whether or not I will get to do this at all.

A Possible Partner?

Associate of Terra Soft,

I would personally like to welcome everyone to the high performance computing (HPC) research consortium mailing list sponsored by Terra Soft. Per the previous email, the enthusiastic response to Terra Soft's formation of a consortium designed to drive adoption of the Cell processor in HPC has precipitated the planning of a Cell Hack-a-thon here at Terra Soft headquarters.

I would like to take this opportunity to mention that the consortium's main goal is to provide consortium members remote access to a large Cell-based Linux cluster in order to accelerate their scientific and software development research. Access to the cluster will be free of charge for university and DoE laboratory researchers. Terra Soft can provide researchers access to PlayStation3 development units right now in order to begin code porting efforts to the Cell processor. In fact, the Hack-a-thon will utilize the development units and other Cell-based hardware during its focused code porting efforts. The Hack-a-thon is designed to quickly achieve a critical mass of applications ported to the Cell processor, which will help increase consortium participation, membership, and traction with sponsors. You were added to the consortium list because:

1) you expressed an interest in gaining access to the Cell cluster for research and/or software development purposes

2) you are interested in supporting the Cell consortium in some way

Terra Soft believes that other processor technologies like graphics cards (GPUs) will also make important contributions to petascale computing. Therefore, secondary goals of the consortium include providing RapidMind and PeakStream software tools to consortium members so that they can increase application performance by porting them to run on powerful graphics cards (GPUs). Plans to include application acceleration with GPUs in the Hack-a-thon curriculum are underway.

Terra Soft will officially launch the consortium and its web site in a few days, but I will officially launch it to the consortium right here. You can find the consortium website at

Click on the "Submit a Proposal" link to request cluster access, and the "Hack-a-thon" and "Local Accommodations" links for information on the code porting party plans. The "Life Sciences" link will provide you more information about Terra Soft's dedication and concerted efforts in that area.

If you would like to obtain access to the PlayStation3 development units, please email this list and I will make arrangements with you off-list. If you prefer to discuss other consortium activities off-list, you can reach me at

I look forward to working with all of you to build the future of HPC-based scientific inquiry.

I have something I am cooking up for a future bandwidth/storage/analytics challenge entry. (aka another attempt at the 'trifecta' that I took part in a year and change ago). I'v started my experiments, but with some of the politics going on at work...well...let's say things are interesting! It might interfere with this too. Alas. We shall see though.

A Labee Interviewed

One of our physicists (Heino Nitsche) was interviewed by a Brazilian newspaper wrt to the whole bit of scary goofiness related to the polonium poisoning of Litvinenko in Britian. The interview is primarily about the toxicity of polonium.

Consider this despinning of what polonium is and does.

There are a few interesting implications of what he says too.

Mars 2020 *snork*

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Older Hidden Martian Impacts

Amazing what radar can do.

Early Triassic Vertebrate Fossils Found

Three perfectly preserved 245 million-year-old skulls of a salamander-like creature have been found in Tasmania.

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) deputy director of collections and research, Andrew Rozefelds, said the fossils were found in the south of the state.

The skulls are believed to belong to an extinct group of amphibians called labyrinthodonts, he said.

"The skulls are significant because they tell the history of life in Tasmania as well as adding to the evolutionary history of fossil amphibians from around the world," he said.

Now are the beds contiguous backwards through the PT Event?

That Cretaceous Dino Eating Mammal

Mesozoic mammals are commonly portrayed as shrew- or rat-sized animals that were mainly insectivorous, probably nocturnal and lived in the shadow of dinosaurs1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The largest known Mesozoic mammal represented by substantially complete remains is Repenomamus robustus, a triconodont mammal from the Lower Cretaceous of Liaoning, China6, 7. An adult individual of R. robustus was the size of a Virginia opossum. Here we report a new species of the genus, represented by a skeleton with most of the skull and postcranium preserved in articulation. The new species is 50% larger than R. robustus in skull length. In addition, stomach contents associated with a skeleton of R. robustus reveal remains of a juvenile Psittacosaurus, a ceratopsian dinosaur. Our discoveries constitute the first direct evidence that some triconodont mammals were carnivorous and fed on small vertebrates, including young dinosaurs, and also show that Mesozoic mammals had a much greater range of body sizes than previously known. We suggest that Mesozoic mammals occupied diverse niches and that some large mammals probably competed with dinosaurs for food and territory.

Just thought I'd look up the paper about the Tasmanian Devil sized (meter long) Cretaceous mammal that was found in China from the Early Cretaceous after posting some links to the other Mesozoic nontraditional mammals.

Early Cretaceous Synapsid?

Largely fragmentary fossils from sites in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, Australia document terrestrial and marine vertebrate faunas of Aptian–Albian age. The natural cast of a large tooth from the Griman Creek Formation, Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, records the presence of a hitherto unknown member of the fauna. Although reference to one of the groups of crocodyliforms that evolved complex, mammal-like postcanine teeth cannot be excluded, the fossil more likely represents a species of synapsid. In some respects it is similar to lower postcanines of traversodontids. Greater morphological similarities to upper molars of dryolestids make reference of this tooth to this group more likely. Current Mesozoic Laurasian and Gondwanan fossil records include mammals with cheek teeth of similar large size.

A population of synapsids in the southern continent that late? Again, very kewl.

Jurassic Mammalian Glider Plus!

A new fossil discovery from China shows that a tiny squirrel-like creature glided through the air during the age of dinosaurs, more than 75 million years earlier than scientists had documented that ability in a mammal.

The creature might have even beaten birds into the air.

Like today's flying squirrels, it stretched a furry membrane between its limbs to provide an airfoil for gliding after it jumped from a tree. But it's not related to anything living today.

Scientists don't know exactly when the animal lived. Its remains could be anywhere from 130 million to 164 million years old, said Jin Meng of the American Museum of Natural History. He and colleagues from Beijing report the discovery in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.


Still, added to a recent find in the same locale in northeastern China that revealed a semi-aquatic creature, the discovery shows that early mammals were a lot more varied than the land-loving creatures scientists have traditionally envisioned, Meng said.

The Mesozoic ecology gets kewler and kewler as far as I am concerned. Mammals look like they played a very important part in the ecology. One that's much different than what's traditionally protrayed. It also explains why the mammals survived the KT boundary: they had a lot of alternate morphological strategies to exploit. That's a post for another time though. I still need to finish the PT Event posts before I go there!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Zealand Mammalian Ghost Lineage?

New Zealand (NZ) has long been upheld as the archetypical example of a land where the biota evolved without nonvolant terrestrial mammals. Their absence before human arrival is mysterious, because NZ was still attached to East Antarctica in the Early Cretaceous when a variety of terrestrial mammals occupied the adjacent Australian portion of Gondwana. Here we report discovery of a nonvolant mammal from Miocene (19-16 Ma) sediments of the Manuherikia Group near St Bathans (SB) in Central Otago, South Island, NZ. A partial relatively plesiomorphic femur and two autapomorphically specialized partial mandibles represent at least one mouse-sized mammal of unknown relationships. The material implies the existence of one or more ghost lineages, at least one of which (based on the relatively plesiomorphic partial femur) spanned the Middle Miocene to at least the Early Cretaceous, probably before the time of divergence of marsupials and placentals >125 Ma. Its presence in NZ in the Middle Miocene and apparent absence from Australia and other adjacent landmasses at this time appear to reflect a Gondwanan vicariant event and imply persistence of emergent land during the Oligocene marine transgression of NZ. Nonvolant terrestrial mammals disappeared from NZ some time since the Middle Miocene, possibly because of late Neogene climatic cooling.

Worthy et al state that they think this might be a relic population of something that is not a placental, marsupial, or monotreme. Color me interested.

Reading the paper...

Martians Already Invaded the Earth?

Here we propose that the radioresistance (tolerance to ionizing radiation) observed in several terrestrial bacteria has a martian origin. Multiple inconsistencies with the current view of radioresistance as an accidental side effect of tolerance to desiccation are discussed. Experiments carried out 25 years ago were reproduced to demonstrate that "ordinary" bacteria can develop high radioresistance ability after multiple cycles of exposure to high radiation dosages followed by cycles of recovery of the bacterial population.

We argue that "natural" cycles of this kind could have taken place only on the martian surface, and we hypothesize that Mars microorganisms could have developed radioresistance in just several million years' time and, subsequently, have undergone transfer to Earth by way of martian meteorites. Our mechanism implies multiple and frequent exchanges of biota between Mars and Earth.


Monday, December 11, 2006


oy. University class related drama. I haven't missed it. :S

Moscow's Colors Become Blatant

The Russian Duma’s December 6 resolutions, calling for recognition of Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s secession from Georgia and their potential incorporation into Russia, are primarily geared to short-term tactical goals of Russian policy.


The Duma’s resolutions reflect the evolution of Russia’s policy from support of armed secession to open encouragement of territorial annexations; from orchestrating local ethnic “separatism” to embarking on Greater-Russia irredentism and unilateral changes of borders by force. With Moscow endorsing such goals, Russian “peacekeeping” troops can only be characterized as occupation troops involved in the seizure of territories from another country.

Now consider that Ukraine has some Russians politicians sniffing around:

“Certain politicians may say anything, it is not the official position of a state in general,” the ambassador stressed. “We know a Russian politician, who says that Ukraine should be divided into 3-4, but it is not the official position of the Russian Federation.”

Now given that this wasn't an official position, but witht he fact that the Donbass region's political elite were talking secession and annexation to Russia (so were the Crimeans) when Yanukovych lost out in the original Orange Revolution, I'd not be surprised if the Russians starting looking to pull apart Ukraine too. They'd keep the eastern and crimean portions and leave the rest for the EU or whatever. The US is pretty useless here. We can hardly pledge membership as a state. The EU on the other hand...the EU on the other hand has thoroughly cooled to Ukraine joining.


Ukraine really, really needs pledges of help from and a roadmap to joining from the EU...but its just not going to happen. and Ukraine's fate will not be one of happiness. Again.

This Next Election is Gonna be a Doozie

In a statement, Kucinich said he plans to formally announce his candidacy on Tuesday at Cleveland's City Hall, where he served as mayor of his hometown in the 1970s.

The liberal, anti-war Ohio congressman said he was inspired to run because he disagrees with the way some of his fellow Democrats are handling the war, including approval of a proposal to spend $160 billion more on the conflict.

"Democrats were swept into power on Nov. 7 because of widespread voter discontent with the war in Iraq," said Kucinich, 60. "Instead of heeding those concerns and responding with a strong and immediate change in policies and direction, the Democratic congressional leadership seems inclined to continue funding the perpetuation of the war."

The anti-war message was also the cornerstone of Kucinich's 2004 bid, which drew support from some Hollywood celebrities. His previous presidential proposals also have included a national peace department and a single-payer, universal health care system.

In 2004, Kucinich posted single digits in most primary elections, including his home state of Ohio, yet stayed in the race.

So we have Guiliani, McCain, Romney, and Brownback from the Republicans so far. We also possibly have Obama, Clinton, Richardson, Clark, Edwards, Gore, Vilsack, Kucinich, and Baye from the Democrats. oy. This is going to be an interesting election.

A Paleontology Blog

Darren Naish has a fascinating site entitled 'Tetrapod Zoology'. It delves into all sorts of tetrapod niftiness. His background seems to have been in theropod dinosaurs, but he's very good at examining other critters! Read and have fun. If it keeps my attention, I'll be adding it to my blogroll.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Helsinki Complaints Choir

Oh those finns...funny folks.

Stolen from james

Normally I score an ENTP. Must be changing with age.

Dictator- ENTJ

53% Extraversion, 100% Intuition, 80% Thinking, 53% Judging

Have you no soul? It's clear you have no heart and that your blood runs cold, but really, do you have even one redeeming factor?

Sure. You're a natural born leader. So was Hitler. You just don't like people, do you?

You don't play games. You take charge. And there's very little room for mistakes in your world. You're forceful, intimidating and overbearing.

Heard of the word "patience?" Trust me, it's a word and it's something you're sorely lacking. Believe it or not, you're not always right. Learn to have some patience for those who think differently from you, knobflap.

From the way people's knees knock when they see you, you should have realised by now that you're not exactly a "people-person." You're more of a "people-eater." You just ain't tuned into people's feelings and probably couldn't care less whether you were anyway. Maybe you're not from this planet but the rest of us are.

Sure, you're intelligent. So what? You have some semblance of power. Big deal.

At least people LIKE the rest of us.


If you want to learn more about your personality type in a slightly less negative way, check out this.


The other personality types are as follows...

Loner - Introverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving
Pushover - Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging
Criminal - Introverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving
Borefest - Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging
Almost Perfect - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving
Freak - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging
Loser - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving
Crackpot - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging
Clown - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving
Sap - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judging
Commander - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving
Do Gooder - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging
Scumbag - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving
Busybody - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging
Prick - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

Dilbert said FRACK

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Revised Future Political Maps

Because of the pessimism I'm feeling abit of today in part because of what looks like Turkey's rejection by Europe, the US diabolical in Iraq; Iran's fast track approach to nukes; the EU's policy wrt to Ukraine; and Turkey's increasing interest in forming a Turkic Commonwealth instead of joining the EU; I've gone and revised the future TL political maps. bleh.

Fear of the Chinese World

Later in the discussion, Khromchikhin said it would be very good if it were possible to invite Chinese people into Russia and have them become Russian. Cherkizov countered that it was not necessary for them to become Russian. They could stay Chinese as long as they abided by the law of the state to which they have come, he stressed.

And that is why Russia will be in some serious trouble wrt to China in the future.


Somehow I ended up on the 'Best of the Web Blog' directory for paleontology.


uh. hm.

Which of you did it?

When Anthropologists do Science Fiction

I do believe there are a few mistakes in logic there, but I am willing to sit back and see what other think.

I am more amused than anything.


An Interesting Thought from an Anthropologist

Like all anthropologists, I am a cultural relativist. This position most often takes the expression that "modern Western culture is not intrinsically more valuable than traditional ones". But it goes both ways, really. Traditional cultures are not intrinsically more valuable than the modern Western one. Indeed, no culture has any value at all except in relation to Human Rights: they're all constructed anew each morning anyway. It is of no value to a society, nor to ethnic minorities themselves, that they be encouraged to stay on reservations and in ghettos and remain stuck in unemployment and drug abuse.

In my opinion, the only way that ethnic and phenotypical minorities can actually have equal opportunities is if their members assume places inside majority society through education and employment. Reservation life is just a pale shadow of what these cultures were like in the pre-colonial past. I don't see why it would be useful to anyone that some people be kept, and keep themselves, as cultural museum exhibits. Most reservations were selected as such because they were undesirable to majority society: often awkwardly located patches of badlands. The first priority for members of modern ethnic minorities should not be to remain ethnically distinct and preserve their traditions, but to thrive and contribute to whatever culture works now. Adapt and survive

This was written wrt to the aborigines of Australia. However, it definitely applies for any minority. Or could.

Rodina's Kiss: Stranger and Stranger

Dmitry Kovtun, a businessman and former Russian agent who met with Litvinenko in London, had developed an illness connected with a radioactive substance, the prosecutor's office said.

Interfax, citing unidentified sources, said Kovtun fell into a coma immediately after being questioned by Russian investigators and Scotland Yard detectives.

So, is the message this time "don't talk to the investigators?"

Russians Wants to Join US Moon Program

Rivals for lunar conquest four decades ago, Russia hopes to join the U.S. moon exploration program with technology and know-how, a Russian space agency spokesman said Thursday.

Russia was conducting talks with
NASA and voiced hope that a deal could be reached within months, said the spokesman, Igor Panarin.

"We want the agreement to reflect Russia's status as a great space power [Emphasis added - WB]," he told The Associated Press, adding that Russia plans to contribute technology rather than money to NASA's project.

NASA said Monday that it would send a four-astronaut crew to the moon in 2020 and set up an international base camp on one of the moon's poles that would be permanently staffed by 2024.

Panarin said the agreement with NASA could be modeled on Russia's deal with the European Space Agency, which envisages launches of commercial satellites by Russian Soyuz rockets from France's Kourou launch pad in French Guyana starting in 2008. Under that deal, Russia would provide booster rockets and the ESA would fund launch pad upgrades.

"We could use a similar approach in the moon project," Panarin said.

I can't say that I am terribly enthused about this. There are a few reasons. Lessons that we all gained from the ISS ought to have been learned by now. The first one is that the US is bad at doing international tech development. We always end up spending far too much on these big projects and have them drag out even when by ourselves. When we include others often things get much much worse (caveats: Canadians don't seem to be a problem nor working with the Italians (!)). The second one is that the Russians are a PITA in all of this. How many times did they threaten to take their toys and go home? On top of that, we have a Russia that's increasingly hostile again. This is not a good idea. Betcha they'll promise some tech and then we'll pay for it and they keep it/use it to their own ends.

No thanks. I'd say pass on their participation.

Wednesday Family Picts

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Very Cute Swing Picture

That's not the pictures for today though. Lyuda just sent it to me from her camera to my email. Had to share.

The Carbon Tax

My wife did a bang up job on her Carbon Tax paper. She even got an 'A' on it. She was pleased. I am going to just write a quick commentary. I have to say that I find it an interesting, but flawed idea and so does my wife) after we played with the numbers. The basic flaws are the fact that the economy is not static and the demographics are changing underneath it.

In writing her paper, she made the assumption that based on Gore's September 2006 speech at NYU, that if it came out of your paycheck, it was going to be shifted over to the carbon tax. The basic idea is that you tax the sources of carbon into the atmosphere based on how much they put into it. This ought to shift investment away from the carbon exhaling industries to cleaner ones. it ought to put more money in the pockets of consumers. It ought to allow employers to hire more people. Ok, some quick critiques.

The first problem is that this proposal is incomplete. You would need to have a carbon tariff to go along with the tax or risk kneecaping your own industries and economy. That will produce an additional windfall. However, it will be needed.

The reason is that the basic idea behind the carbon tax has a fundamental flaw: the tax will strongly encourage investment to shift from carbon polluting industries to nonpolluting ones. From coal power to nuclear power, for example. As the shift happens, the eventually the carbon producing industries go away. That means your source of income goes away too. That means either your greatly increase the tax on the remaining industries or be forced to seek the revenue from another reinstating the payroll taxes.

To make matters worse, and you are cynical enough to assume that the carbon tax isn't meant to drive investment away from certain industries and the tax will collect enough perpetually, you're still going to have to hike the tax (and cause knock-on inflationary effects). A big part of this is that Gore did this for Social Security too. That means that all that money to pay for the python swallowed by a pig is going to come out of the carbon tax/tariff combo. That means that you're going to have to hike the tax and tariff even more to cover your expenses here.

The third issue is problem with the balance of who gets what and who gets screwed by the costs: will the salary taxes now kept by the employees offset the increases associated with inflationary costs caused by rising energy and transportation caused by the carbon tax. There will be a couple tables below for you guys to chew on. However, my wife didn't calculate the 'break even' point for what you have to make to get ahead. I'm guestimating it's about $35 - 40k. Anyone who makes more than that gets permanent salary rasise. Anyone less than that gets screwed. People who really need less inflation are at the lower end. Really, REALLY need less. So politically, without some doctoring, this isn't going to fly.

GDP = C + I + G + (X - M)

That little equation seems to love dominating my wife's econ class. Anyways, in theory, Gore's proposal keeps G a constant; increases C, but what does it do to I? Any economist types care to comment? I suspect that it actually does a net move away from I since that money for C has to come from somewhere.

So, here are the tables:
Carbon Tax Imposed per Unit Fuel



CO2 Produced (lbs)

Tax Per Unit

Aviation Gasoline




Diesel Fuel




Jet Fuel








Liquefied Petroleum Gases








Methane/Natural Gas

1000 ft3



Coal, Anthracite




Coal, Bituminous




Coal, Subituminous




Coal, Lignite




Electricity Rate Increases by Fuel per Kilowatt-Hour.



Electricity Per Unit (KW-h)

Rate Increase per KW-H

Coal, Anthracite




Coal, Bituminous




Coal, Subituminous




Coal, Lignite




Methane (natural gas)

1000 ft3



When all boiled down the carbon tax is a half thought out idea. Seems very cool at first, but isn't that good an idea. Perhaps the carbon tariff would make up for the short falls, but I am skeptical. Perhaps a better thought out version of this could be done, but at the moment this is clearly ready for prime time. Alas.

At any rate, my wife's paper is more indepth. She did a couple strawman study cases - a software company and a bakery - and I am sure that you guys can guess which one came out well and which did not. She did more commentary and cites. It was her first research paper. I'm very proud of her.


Ouch: Taken from Razib

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 70% Conservative, 30% Liberal
Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Of course, those questions don't allow for shades of grey, da? Some are completely bogus too: theFed shouldn't worry about only one or the other, sheesh.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Phaser set on RUN!

Wired has an interesting article on the new ADS microwave beam weapon. It's set to deploy to Iraq. This could be a huge shift in power between first and second rate powers, really. if you can clear away the noncombatants, it gives you a lot more freedom of action, yet...all it would take is some evil guys to use this the wrong way.

Alps Now Warmer than in Medieval Warm Period

"We are currently experiencing the warmest period in the Alpine region in 1,300 years," Reinhard Boehm, a climatologist at Austria's Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics said.

Boehm based his comments on the results of a project conducted by a group of European institutes between March 2003 and August 2006. Their aim was to reconstruct the climate in the region encompassing the Rhone Valley in France to the west, Budapest, Hungary to the east, Tuscany, Italy to the south and Nuremberg, Germany to the north over the past 1,000 years.

Boehm said the current warm period in the Alpine region began in the 1980s, noting that a similar warming occurred in the 10th and 12th centuries. However, the temperatures during those phases were "slightly under the temperatures we've experienced over the past 20 years."

Humans first had an impact on the global climate in the 1950s, Boehm said, noting that at first, the release of aerosols into the atmosphere cooled the climate. Since the 1980s, however, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane have warmed it up, he said.

"It will undoubtedly get warmer in the future," Boehm said.

India Tests ABM

It seems that India is headed down the path also. I wish I could justify a subscription to Jane's, but at this point in life it's too damned expensive.

Monday, December 04, 2006

NASA's Moon Plans

Unveiling the agency's bold plan for a return to the moon, NASA said it will establish an international base camp on one of the moon's poles, permanently staffing it by 2024, four years after astronauts land there.

It is a sweeping departure from the Apollo moon missions of the 1960s and represents a new phase of space exploration after space shuttles are retired in 2010.

NASA chose a "lunar outpost" over the short expeditions of the '60s. Apollo flights were all around the middle area of the moon, but NASA decided to go to the moon's poles because they are best for longer-term settlements. And this time NASA is welcoming other nations on its journey.

The more likely of the two lunar destinations is the moon's south pole because it's sunlit for three-quarters of the time. That offers a better locale for solar power, plus the site has possible resources to mine nearby, said associate deputy administrator Doug Cooke.


The estimated time frame for NASA's lunar plans are:

2009 — a first test of one of the lunar spaceships.

2014 — the first manned test flight of the Orion crew exploration vehicle, but no moon landing.

2020 — the first flight of the four-astronaut crew to the moon.

For four years, the lunar base won't be built up enough for long visits, so astronauts will only spend a week at a time. But after that, NASA envisions people living on the moon for six-month stints.

NASA also hopes that hydrogen, oxygen and other moon resources can be used as supplies for the lunar outpost. Eventually, getting oxygen there may be simple enough that it could be turned over to a commercial supplier, Horowitz said.

NASA's vision for the moon is more than just American astronauts — it includes space travelers from other countries and even commercial interests, if possible.

Having other countries sign onto the project would save NASA money, although the United States will design the moon vehicles, NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale said. And while NASA welcomed its current partners on the international space station — Russia, Europe and Japan — the agency was cagey about its most enigmatic space rival, China, which has made noises about going to the moon.

ARGH! International badbadbadbad. We have a hard enough time controlling costs when its just Americans...start putting others in and we get way out of control. Period.

The Late Permian

via Dr Scotese's web site.

For what it's worth, the Karoo fossils come from a very southerly latitude. See here for some interesting stuff regarding the location. Likewise, the Perm fossils - that gave the Permian its name - from Russia are from a very northerly latitude. The Chinese ones appear to be the only ones that are tropical. If there are any terrrestrial vertebrate fossils to be found there, it would be very interesting. Ditto the terrrestrial deposits period. It'd be great for determining the actual climate from isotopes.

Ipod Query

I know that some of you use IPods extensively. I am looking for a voice recorder attachment for my wife's Ipod Nano. It would be very, very useful for her studies.

Any suggestions?

Phyto Genetic Engineering: A Query to Carlos

In the discussion about the PT Event Carlos made an interesting comment:

All photosynthetic pathways have elements which can be reconfigured for other useful cellular purposes -- they're largely electron transfer and/or ion pump modules anyway. Even the photoreaction centers could be retooled for other purposes[rhodopsin, the chlorophylls, etc.]

And this is where I look amazingly stupid...

So, Carlos, how difficult would it be to get this process to move place metals in the leaves?

If this is an ion pump would it be possible to use it to 'pull' ions into the leaves from the rest of the plant and dump them there?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Holy Shibbit

A federal immigration official pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving more than $600,000 in bribes for falsifying documents for illegal immigrants.

Robert Schofield, 57, could face 25 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in February.

He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, to issuing fraudulent documents to at least 184 illegal immigrants who falsely received U.S. citizenship.

Schofield, a former supervisor for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, was arrested in June.

He had served as a supervisory district adjudications officer at the Washington district office of agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security.

According to court documents, Schofield illegally helped Asian immigrants obtain U.S. citizenship in return for payments of $30,000 or more.

Under terms of the plea agreement Schofield has agreed to surrender his home, his bank accounts and his government retirement account.

"The breadth and scope of Mr. Schofield's fraud and corruption are truly stunning," said U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg.

OMG. Who all did this frakker let in?

The Permian Extinction: What Caused the Great Dying?

The Permian Extinction is one of the most profound changes to the ecosystem or life has seen at all ever. Life changed. Not merely with respect to the various species that were alive, but how the ecosystem was organized. The trends that had been pretty consistant in the Paleozoic were completely dumped. it was as though someone had come in and hit the HUGE reset button on the earth's lifeforms and their habitat.

In the process, it seems that somewhere between 60 - 90% of all living species - dependng on who you believe - went extinct during the Permian Triassic Extinction. The previous extinctions were nothing in comparison. People in the not too distant past used to point to the Cambrian Explosion (and subsequent extinction?) has the most profound impact. That extinction is lessening in magnitude with each passing year of research. There are now some paleo types suggesting there wasn't even an extinction event at all. However, that's another topic. The Permian was profound. It freed the waterways from the amphibians. It set in motion the events that led to the Age of Dinosaurs. It even set about events that led to the cynodonts becoming true mammals and thus led to you and me. There will be another post, another time for discussing the End Permian Ecosystem. This post will discuss the causes of what happened. It's not as simple as the most studied mass extinction either (the KT Event).

What were the theories about what caused the mass extinction? Well, there were a few. The longest reigning one was that the oceans receded to very low levels. The second theory that went along with the first theory was that because all the continents had come together into Pangaea, life that had been confined to certain parts of the world were not able to spread all over causing greatly increased competition and associated die-offs (the NorAm/SoAm exchange of animals due to the Panama Straits closing was the source of this theory). The next big theory was what people expected to see after investigating the KT Event: a bollide impact. The next theory was that the volcanos did it: the Siberian Traps to be specific. There have been other extinction theories that have eben related to environmental degradtion. Douglas Erwin once suggested that it was the Midnight Express: a little bit of everything did it because it it would take a lot to do such damage.

It seems that the cause was pretty straight forward after digging through the data. A concensus has grown and a theory has been largely adopted by those studying the event. Unfortuntaely, it deals away with the ide that a single source would be the cause of mass extinctions. You could not point to the sky and say if we cleaned out all the asteroids and comets that we wouldn't face another mass extinction. There is no One True Cause. All the evidence points away from a bollide impact. Rather the whole thing seems to have been kicked off by vulcanism. More properly, those evil Siberian Traps. However, it is a pretty complex chain of events that lead from there to there and a lot of explaining to do.

First off, there were actually two events at the end of the Permian. There was one that was ten million years before the second. The kill ratio was some 20% of life took a hit. That's pretty hefty. It's not as hefty as what following. Life seemed to be recovering pretty well, if the fossil evidence can be believed. Then came a long, long dying that seemed to almost end life on Earth.

What caused the long dying seems to a complex operation as to what happened. The root cause was the Siberian Traps. They belched lava and carbon dioxide over nearly a million years. The amount of lava they belched has no parallel. Not even the Deccan Traps come close. The important part was the CO2 though. It apparently was enough to warm the planet 5 degrees C above what it was already: which was already warmer than now by a considerable bit (a few degrees C).

From there, the oceans warmed. This had two effects. The oceans of the Permian seem to have been very stratified. That is to say that the oceans did not intermix from the bottom depths to the ocean surface. There were very distinct layers. Additionally, as the world warmed, the ice caps melted. This decreased the salinity of the top waters and made the stratification worse. This caused the bottom of the ocean to be anoxic (ie very little or no oxygen dissolved in the various layers). The warming made the anoxic conditions worse. Warm water holds less oxygen than does cold. Life in the water would be...less than comfortable. With the melting of the very extensive ice caps, the oceans would rise and the anoxic layers would be brought up to depths that would originally have been habitat for the Permian marine organisms (This is Hallam's regression-transgression-anoxia theory).

Then the warmed ocean unleashes a nasty surprise for the surface and atmosphere: we get methane hydrate burps. There is a large amount of methane sequestered in the ocean in the form of ices. When the water warms too much, the methane is released from the ice. This makes it way into the atmospehre. Methane is a much better greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. This ended up causing a further 5 degree C atmospheric rise. This happened very quickly and helped to pummel the End-Permian lifeforms even more. If the simulations (PDF) of Jeff Kiehl and Christine Shields of NCAR hold up to the fossil record, this means that the methane in the atmosphere end up whacking the ozone and unleashes a lot of normally blocked ultraviolet light [here too] above and beyond the norm which helps kill off the terrrestrial ecosystems as well.

As if to add insult to injury, the hypoxic-anoxic oceans encouraged growth of anaerobic bacteria that produce lots of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is nasty stuff and highly toxic. It would help kill even more in the oceans than even oxygen deprivation would. It would, futhermore, bubble out of the oceans and kill right and left anything that took a whif on land. However, to make things even worse, Kiehl et al state that it increases that length of time that the methane remains in the atmosphere. This increases the amount and heating and away we go.

In the end, what killed life at the end of the Permian? It was a negative feedback that in effect, even in such a hellaciously hot climate (72 C at the equator!), snowballed. If ever there was a time that we, the planet Earth, was dangerously close to tripping over the edge into a run away greenhouse, that would have been it. Not the Eocene. The mechanisms that regulate the CO2 content in the atmosphere broke down, got depressed, and nearly shot itself in the head; in effect nearly ending all life.

To me, based on all the evidence that's coming in about the PT Extinction, it seems that what happened is pretty settled. Details and refinements need to be done. We're a long ways from being able to close the book, say it's been written, and that we completely understand why life nearly died then. We are far closer and the alternative scenarios are, with the pace that the supporting science for the above theory is growing, falling further and further behind.

The new question, that probably ought to be asked sometime in the next decade is not why life died at the PT Extinction, but rather:

Why did it survive at all?

After all, if the carbon cycle choked and died, how did it get restarted? It looks like in the case of Venus, it didn't and that world died. Why did it not here? Perhaps a hint is in Erwin's book, Extinction, where he states that a colleague of his noticed that the fossils that people have been attributing to the 'fungal spike' looked a lot more like algae fossils to him. Perhaps the humblest of photosynethesizers saved us all. That's a bit of research for people in the future to determine though.

Next time out on the PT Event will be discussing the land ecology. Why was this event so important to us?


As a footnote about the polonium poisoning, United Nuclear has been mentioned a few times as a source of polonium that you can buy online. Well, Slashdot had a link about the polnium poisoning which led me to a Wired article about United Nuclear. When I read it, I noticed a name. A name from the ancient wars on Usenet, an ancient evil, Bob Lazar. With some quick checking, it turns out that, yep, that's the same Bob.

Take what you get from him with grains of salt the size of the continental US.

Rodina's Kiss

A lot of people that have been critical of Russia or opposed to Russia's ambitions have been poisoned or disposed if as of late. People are talking about the very brutal and nasty murder of the former FSB agent Alexander Litvenenko in Britian. On the heels of his foul end, Yegor Gaidar, the former prime minister of Russia, seems to have been poisoned as well. When added to do the recent death of Anna Politkovskaya, things are getting spun as increasingly bleak. While Charlie Stross has fretted over the idea of a dirty nuke in Britian, Randy has worried about nuclear terrorism and the future.

I am more worried about what this means about Russia. I also have to note that there was another individual that was nearly bumped off by an oddball poison: Viktor Yushchenko. He's not exactly marked as a friend to the Russian Federation, now is he?

Part of the reason that I haven't commented yet is that I cannot see where this is all going. It doesn't make a lot of sense, really. Why kill a semi-nut case? Litvinenko is on record saying 9/11 ws actually a Putin plot. The Eurasian Daily Monitor has been arguing that those that killed or poisoned a lot of the above are agents of a faction trying to force Putin to stay in power past the end of his constitutional allowed term (que?!). Another view expressed by the Putin administration is that it is someone out to discredit the Putin administration. Litvinenko himself accused Putin of ordering his death on his death bed. None of these make a lot of sense.

Charlie did make the accusation that this was obviously meant as a message to someone. Was it to the West? And was it meant to say, "We can bring in radioactive materials under your noses?" Or was it to dissidents of the Russians? We will kill you in horrible ways, so sit down and SHUTTUP! Or was it to Putin's crew? Or someone else? There was a message. It was probably recieved.

Something strange and terrible is afoot in Moscow, I fear.