Monday, December 20, 2004

Saturn's Outer Rings Could Be Disappearing, Scientist Says


Terrible news.  Next we’ll be hearing how it’s all our fault.  Those darn SUV’s. 

A massive eruption of atomic oxygen from Saturn's outer rings suggests that the planet's wispy E ring is eroding so fast that it could disappear within 100 million years if not replenished. The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft and science instruments are part of an international mission by NASA, the European Space Agency and Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, the Italian space agency, to explore Saturn and its many moons and rings. 

[Europe Eurasia]

Friday, December 17, 2004

Rehabilitation of Iraq's Sweet Water Canal Completed, USAID Says

The US Department of State has begun to use RSS for news releases and other information.  I picked it up from one of Dave Winer’s recent blogs.  There is the link for the 12 latest USDOS feeds.  I’m glad to see the government using RSS for communication.  It makes it easier to get the kinds of information I want, organized the way I want it.

The below little clip isn’t sensational, but it’s representative of the “good news” that goes unreported almost daily by the mainstream media.  I mean, seriously, 13 water-treatment plants provide fresh water to a lot of people.  I can only imagine what would happen here in Kosovo if the US  Government sunk that kind of money into our infrastructure.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that the $23 million rehabilitation of southern Iraq's Sweet Water Canal was successfully completed. According to a USAID press release, the cleansing and repair of the 149-mile waterway also refurbishes 13 water-treatment plants including a pumping station that sends water from the canal's reservoir to residential, commercial and agricultural users throughout the Basra region of Iraq. 

[Iraq Update]

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Australian man discovers the hard way that gadgets and beer don't always mix

 I just couldn’t pass this up.  Some people try way to heard to lose touch with reality.  When I was in high school I worked at a hardware store and met many a person buying funnels and plastic tubing.  This guy definitely went all out.


Who knew that using a hose connected to a helmet-mounted jug and powered by an electric drill to drink massive amounts of beer could be dangerous? Certainly not us (there go our big plans for New Year’s Eve), and definitely not some dude in Australia who discovered the hard way that pumping that much beer into yourself can split open your stomach and get a lot of beer into your abdomen. Hard to believe, but the victim, who spent a week in intensive care, asked not to have his name released to the public. Australian health experts are warning people not to build gadgets to pump beer or any other kind liquid into themselves this holiday season.

[Via BoingBoing & Engadget]

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Minds controlling cursors today...and bots tomorrow

Technology is getting pretty wild.  Put these two blog entries together and you’ve got something off the sci-fi channel.  First is the Army’s attempt to field armed robotic vehicles in Iraq in the first quarter of 2005.  The Talon robot will come in three flavors, evidently.  The first is armed with a machine gun, the other with a automatic grenade launcher and the third with a rocket launcher of some sort.  They’re remotely controlled by a briefcase sized control pack by a soldier in the field.  This is interesting all by itself, but add the next article.

We read today about great advances in the development of the brain-computer interface.  Scientists have successfully demonstrated a non-surgical interface that allows people to manipulate a cursor on a monitor.  This will be a great boon to the handicapped who want to have greater freedom over their environments.  Of course, what man builds to help and heal can also be used to hurt and harm.  Obviously, we can foresee the military matching this sort of brain-bot interface to predator drones and bots like the “Talon.”  Personally, I have no problem with this.  I think our growing capacity to keep our troops out of harms way while inflicting casualties on the enemy will be so demoralizing that lives will ultimately be saved in the long-term. 

But this is always the challenge of technology and faith.  The development of our technology is always far beyond the development of our characters.  I think it’s pretty easy to become a nation of minds and cease being a nation of souls. 

Speaking of characters, bots and brains, you have to check out Toyoto’s latest developments for the “mobility impaired.”  Weird.


Saturday, December 04, 2004

Lycos Fights Spam With DDOS

I don’t know if this will work or not. It might just push up everyone’s bandwidth bills. I’m also not sure that I want my PC/network participating in DoS attacks. On the other hand, I would sure like to help Spammers choke on something.

Lycos Europe has recently joined the fight against spam by releasing a screensaver as part of its "Make Love Not Spam" campaign, which uses its participants machines to bombard websites that advertise through spam e-mails with data, effectively launching a distributed denial of service attack against them, with the intent being to push up bandwidth bills of the spammers who operate these websites. Is this an effective new front in the battle against spam?

Friday, December 03, 2004

What missionary kids don't know....

On Tuesday we were in Prishtina for some meetings. That evening we headed
out to Maxi's, our favorite super-store outside Prishtina. They've begun to
decorate for the Christmas season like most folks in America. Ya, believe
it or not that kind of celebrate Christmas in Kosovo! Out front of the
store they have an enormous, 30 foot tall inflatable Santa Claus. I was
carrying Reilly in as we walked by the Santa. "Hey Reilly, who's that?" I
asked. She looked up and down and the gigantic red figure, complete with
inflatable hat and beard. She just shrugged her shoulders. If you're a
parent, you we be amazed at how rarely our kids ask for new toys, or how
little they know already about American culture. Is that a good thing, or a
bad thing?